Money Management

Those Predictable But Irregular Bills

Things like property tax, car registration, the half-yearly car insurance bill, holiday spending, vacations, big car repairs, replacing appliances are all things we know will happen. Because they don’t happen every month like rent/mortgage and utilities, it’s harder to plan for them.

Years ago I had a system for that. I added up all of those expenses for the year, divided by twelve, and put that much in a savings account each month. It worked very well. I never had to use credit to pay anything, and felt a certain financial serenity that was very nice.

An article in the Dollar Stretcher today informed me that that method is called a “sinking fund.” According to Dave Ramsey, this is different than an emergency fund. The items in the sinking fund aren’t unexpected emergencies, they are expected but irregular expenses. https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/stop-the-panic-sinking-fund

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

amazon.com/author/mariebrack

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Uh-Oh, Check Your Credit Report Real Soon

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/wells-fargo-customers-recall-their-shock-upon-discovering-fraudulent-accounts-124902698.html

You may have heard the latest Big Bank scandal. Under pressure to get customers to open all kinds of accounts, Wells-Fargo employees have been opening accounts that people don’t know about. Some of the victims had only the briefest interaction with the bank, and ended up with credit cards and other accounts they didn’t know about. Some of those accounts incurred fees, and others will have damaged a person’s credit score.

It might be a good idea to go down to your nearest branch and ask one of the desk people to search their records for any accounts in your name.

If you haven’t done it lately, a free check on your credit report could show you any nefarious activity:  https://www.annualcreditreport.com/requestReport/landingPage.action

Another free source is http://www.creditkarma.com.

Don’t fall for the name in freecreditreport.com, it’s only free with a paid membership.

 

One in, One Out

If you have enough stuff already and want a way to spend less money, here’s a thought. Say you’re looking at a shirt, a movie, or a video game that you want to buy, but you had decided to spend less, so you shouldn’t buy it.

If you apply the one in, one out concept, you have to decide which of the items you already have at home to donate to allow you to buy this new one. Sometimes you’ll decide not to buy the new one because you like and value the ones you’ve already got. Just thinking about ‘one out’ may remind you how great the stuff you already have is.

On the other hand, if you do buy one and donate one, you gain by minimizing clutter in your home, and whoever you donated it to gains as well.

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

Overwhelmed with Student Loans?

Lucky for me I’m so old my entire four year college education cost $6,000. On the other hand, at that time my loan payments were my second largest expense after rent.

Now, the cost of education is so high I have trouble comprehending it. If your student loans are killing you, here’s something that might help:

https://commonbond.co/

Common Bond seems like a sensible way to get loans under control.

Here’s a review: http://studentloansherpa.com/depth-common-bond-student-loan-consolidation-review-commonbond-co-refinancing/

As with anything, compare costs and consider all the possibilities.

Challenge Me!

My book is all about finding useful, affordable alternatives to the things modern life has conditioned us to believe we “have to” buy.

Think of something that costs money that you don’t know of an alternative for. Challenge me to offer an alternative by leaving a comment on this or any other post. Please include the word “challenge” in your response.

Prepping – For Taxes That Is

When Federal income tax was first instituted in 1913 the form was three pages long, the instructions only required one page, and that’s all there was to it. Ah, the good old days. Last year I filed a tax return that was 22 pages long.That was my own silly fault for having so many different tiny streams of income, each requiring its own page or pages. Lucky for me I actually enjoy keeping records and since I got bifocals I don’t have a problem filling out forms. If you itemized deductions or if you have a business with deductible expenses, you kind of have to keep records even if you don’t enjoy it.

The first thing I did was get in the habit of saving all paperwork and receipts that I would, or even might, need for taxes. I have a file folder for it and just drop them in all year long. When tax time comes I have a messy stack of papers, but I have them all and I know where they are. Failing to prepare for an unpleasant task doesn’t make the task go away, it just makes it harder. If it’s too late for this idea to benefit you this year, act today to make next year better. Designate a spot for any and all tax-related paperwork. A file, a box, a drawer, wherever it will be easy for you to put the papers as they come in.

Recently I made Excel spreadsheets that mimic the tax forms that I use. I can enter income as it comes in and deductions as they happen. At any moment I have a snapshot of what my tax situation is shaping up to. This is helpful for making decisions that effect one’s taxes. It tells me if I need to start saving up to pay self-employment taxes. When it’s time to fill out the forms, I just move the numbers from my spreadsheets to the forms.

Plan ahead and act on the plan.

A New Financial Start

Maybe you spent a bit too much over the holidays. January sometimes brings on a sort of financial repentance, and a desire to use money more effectively in the new year. My book can help with that. Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely deals with the need for financial change from both directions – spending less and earning more. Maybe you have friends or relatives who spend too much, or want to get out of debt. The book would make a nice gift for them, or just tell them about it. Want to retire early? Take a fantastic trip? The strategies in the book can help you move toward any financial goal.

It’s available on http://www.amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle versions.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1517193176?keywords=Marie%20Brack&qid=1451257439&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1