Monday, December 28, 2015

How To Stick To A Budget

Having a budget is more important than ever before, but sticking to one takes time and discipline. Here are ways to help you become a better money manager.  Track your spending. Most people spend their money on food, housing and transportation, but there are many other categories, like household costs, debt payments and entertainment. Try this: Write down every dollar you spend in a two-week period and see what you can cut on the list. Doing this with your spouse and your family members will turn up even more surprises.  Account for your cash. Does it just “disappear” from your wallet? Try tracking where it is spent. Sometimes, using debit or credit cards for expenditures can help with accounting.  Understand your debt (mortgage, student loans, credit cards) and set goals to reduce it. Federal Reserve statistics say the average household owes $7,529 on their cards. For indebted households, the average is $16,140. This is a major undertaking, but check out sites like for ideas on how to deal with high debt (for example, negotiate lower interest rates).  Have a savings goal, including an emergency fund, as part of your budget. What if you need major car repairs or a new furnace? Start small and add to this category gradually or you’ll have to fall back on those credit cards. For long-term planning, review your investments and consult an expert if you need one.  Use a tool like, Quicken or Google Docs spreadsheets. They’re inexpensive or free and make it easier to track and categorize your expenses, set budgets, create reports and more.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Secrets to finding the right home at the right price with the right financing

Lots of homebuyers waste time and money by not doing their homework before going home shopping. Here’s what you should do: • Analyze your NEEDS before you start looking. Make a list, including price range, size, general location, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. • Know what you WANT in your next home. List the features you’d like to have and rank them in terms of importance. If you have a spouse, set your priorities as a couple. • Understand how much home you can afford. Become familiar with your “payment-to-income ratio” and your “debt-to-income ratio,” two guides bankers and mortgage lenders use to determine how much loan you can afford.