5 Smart Tips To Manage Money With Your Honey

Jean Chatzky’s advice to help couples avoid fighting over financial issues

One of the hardest parts of a marriage or any other type of long-term relationship is managing the money: The guilt or worry that comes with spending money that’s no longer “yours,” but “ours”; the questions about why this month’s Visa bill is sky-high; and the resentment you feel when your partner comes home with a new outfit that was paid for, in part, by your paycheck.

So what do you do when your partner is a spender and you’re a saver? When your spouse’s idea of a long-term goal is saving for next summer’s vacation, not the kids’ college tuition? Or when you make the maximum contribution to your 401(k) and still toss and turn at night worrying about your retirement, while your partner sleeps soundly without a retirement plan at all?

It’s a sticky situation, no doubt about it. That’s why “The Big Payoff: 8 Steps Couples Can Take to Make the Most of Their Money — and Live Richly Ever After,” (Collins) a new book by Sharon Epperson, a CNBC correspondent, really hit home with me.

“Payoff” examines key financial points you and your partner need to be in agreement on:

Keep separate accounts
There are more than a few benefits of a three-pot system, in which you each have an account and then share a house account for joint expenses, but mainly it helps eliminate feelings of guilt and resentment. It also lets you each have a hand in the daily finances. And, if the relationship takes a turn for the worst, you each have money in your own name.

Setting up a system like this is simple: Agree to deposit a certain amount (if your salaries are comparable) or percentage (if one partner makes a good deal more) into the shared account each pay period. The rest goes into your individual accounts.

Set a budget, together
As a couple, you have to get your priorities in line. Epperson and her husband sat down and agreed on what percentage of their income would go toward the things that are important to them. Her advice? Make sure you’re divvying up money that you can actually spend.

“I think the hardest part is for people to realize that your budget is not to be based on your full paycheck. It should be calculated after you’ve already taken money out for your savings,” says Epperson. Determine what your take-home pay is each month, then subtract about 10 percent for contributions toward savings. That leaves you with money you can throw toward things like transportation, debt, and mortgage or rent payments.

Plan
Major steps like buying a house, having children and retiring all play out better when you’ve taken the time to plan for them in advance.

“What I think is so important is to sit back and plan so you can lead your life a little more calmly,” explains Epperson. “When you have a game plan, you have a cushion, and with that comes a lot of peace of mind.” Talk about both your short-term goals (like that summer vacation), and your long-term goals (like retirement), and make sure you both have a similar picture of the future. And don’t forget to put some “just in case” money in a savings account that you can access in a pinch. There are some things, like layoffs or injuries, that just can’t be planned for.

Live within your means
It might sound simple, but I don’t just mean freezing the charge card in a block of ice. It’s easy to get in over your head, especially when it comes to housing.

If you’re ready to buy, and you’ve run all the numbers, go back over them and see if you’re missing anything. Did you account for lawn care? Taxes? The cost of living in that area? People too often forget to run this side of the equation, and end up struggling to meet the expenses that come with home ownership. The stress of this can put a real strain on any marriage. If you have to make sacrifices to make ends meet, be sure both partners are on board.

Talk about it
You can easily eliminate the problem of an insanely high credit card bill or an embarrassing bounced check by keeping each other informed of major expenditures.
It’s up to you to define “major,” but don’t let problems fester until it’s too late. If you’re angry about something, no matter how trivial, hash it out — but do it calmly. If that’s a goal deemed unachievable, enlist the help of a financial planner or adviser. Epperson and her husband did.

“One of the things that came out of that meeting was real goals. Our goals were really just immediate, and having an initial meeting forced us to start talking,” she explains. A good adviser will offer an initial consultation for free, so you can go in, lay out the facts of your situation, and find out how he or she can help before you have to pay up.

7 Tips To Manage Your Money Better

Cash flow is the fuel that keeps a business running smoothly. To make sure your company isn’t running on empty, check your current practices against these techniques used by the top money managers.

1. Create a cash flow budget.
A cash flow budget helps to ensure that you can comfortably pay all your expenses and enables you to manage your revenues and expenses proactively.

Key components include a sales/revenue forecast; anticipated inflows, such as accounts receivable; anticipated outflows, such as cost of goods sold; debt repayments; and operating expenses.

It’s important to keep your cash flow budget up-to-date and to make sure that it reflects changes in your operating environment and your plans for your business.

2. Know the sensitivities in your cash flow.
It’s important to pin down which items – such as price, volume, or overheads – will have the most impact on your cash flow.
Cost of goods sold, for example, has a significant impact on your cash flow, yet is difficult for you to change. At the same time, competitive pressures may prevent you from increasing prices.
Cash flow is also affected by inventory days and accounts receivable days.

3. Manage the credit you are extending to your customers.
There are a number of different ways to improve how you manage your receivables.
Establishing effective credit policies is an important part of successful cash flow management.
You might also think about how you can encourage clients to pay more quickly. For example, consider discounts for early payments, or charge interest on accounts that are past due.

While interest and late charges may actually become a source of income for your business, it’s important to apply some due diligence. Extremely late payments are more likely to become write-offs and will also keep some of your working capital tied up.

4. Keep your payables up-to-date.
Regularly reviewing your accounts payable schedule helps determine how well you are keeping up with your credit obligations.
A useful practice is to have an “aging schedule,” which shows you how much you owe, to whom, and whether you are current or past due on any bills.

5. Reduce expenses.
Look for ways to cut back: for example, can the cost of promotional materials (such as printing or production) be reduced without compromising their quality and impact?
When business volume steps up, bring in temporary, contract, or part-time help before committing to additional full-time staff.
An independent audit may reveal redundancies and inefficiencies that you can address.

6. Use credit effectively.
The best credit facility will depend on your company’s individual circumstances, business plans, and existing credit facilities.

For example, term loans are ideal for long-term capital purchases, while lines of credit can be used to meet short-term working capital requirements or to take advantage of unexpected business opportunities.

7. Put your company’s surplus cash flow to work.
Assess how much money you need to set aside for emergencies.
To do this, review your company’s cash flow history for any patterns.
As well, consider how potential changes in the economy, such as currency or interest rate fluctuations, could affect your revenues or expenses.

Any surplus in your cash flow can be used for business expansion, to pay off debts, or to maintain a certain level of working capital.

Tips On How To Save Money While Traveling

You can enjoy your travels without having to spend more than what you can afford. Besides, traveling doesn’t have to be very expensive, especially if you are miles away from home. Doing so can put a great impact on your finances and can drain your money even before you are scheduled to fly back home.

Here are some economical tips to keep you on track and enjoy your travel with more money in your pocket.

1. Try to make a budget first

Before you start your travel or after arriving at your destination, it is best to have a good budget with you. Try to set a budget for the week. In this way, you get to keep your expenses and finances tightly intact. For instance, if your budget for the week is only $100, try to stick to it.

Without a budget, you will be tempted to buy this and that.

2. Have a map

To save more money on your transportation expenses, always have a map with you. In this way, you can anticipate the best and the most economical way to your destination. You get to avoid taking cabs or special trips just to get to your destination.

3. Bring your own gadgets

To save more while traveling, it is best that you have brought every gadget or item that you will need. In this way, you can cut back on the cost of having to rent some of the gadgets that you might use.

For example, try to bring your own camera instead of getting your pictures taken by a local photographer. With a good camera, you can take pictures you want without having to worry about extra charges.

4. Do your homework

Before you head to your destination, it is best that you know something about the place. This will allow you to steer clear from unnecessary spending while on travel. Places may differ depending on the area’s pattern of living.

For example, if the place you are about to visit has a luxurious type of living, it is best to keep track of your expenses to save more money. Try not to spend on things that aren’t necessary to avoid going overboard on your budget.

Things like these can be very helpful to save more money even if you travel to places were the standard of living is expensive. It only takes a smart traveler to do so.

How To Save Money On Your Phone Service?

According to the Cellular Telephone and Internet Association otherwise known as the CITA, there are more than 100 companies providing different forms of phone services all over the United States.

These include land based telephones, wireless communication and broadband Internet. The top 5 firms are Cingular Wireless, T-Mobile USA, Sprint Nextel Corporation, Verizon Wireless, and Alltel.

The competition is so fierce that some offer free calls after 9PM daily while others offer affordable rates by the minute or by the second. But there are other things that the customer has to pay for in order to become a subscriber.

In order to know which plan is best, it will be a good idea to do some research.

  • People need to budget the monthly expenses. The individual can do this by reviewing the phone bill over the last 3 months. This will tell the time and frequency of most calls made and the location.
  • In the middle or lower part of the bill, the customer might notice there is something called miscellaneous charges. This could be taxes or something else so it will really help to ask someone from the phone company for clarifications.
  • There are many service providers in the area where one may reside in. Since it is hard to inquire from each by speaking to someone on the phone, the subscriber can use the computer to compare the rates to see if the existing plan is still the best among the rest.
  • Some carriers announce special rates on certain months for new subscribers. It wouldn’t hurt to call the company to ask. Tie-ups between phone and credit card companies happen often. The customer can earn points, discounts or prizes if payment is made using this method.
  • The person should always ask if there are other charges that will come out in the bill. This will avoid any problems later on when the bill is sent to the home.
  • The charges are different for local and long distance calls. If the rates are too expensive, perhaps getting one that honors prepaid cards can save the person money in the long term.

The individual may have been a loyal customer for a number of years. If the plan given isn’t as good as it used to, perhaps it is time to switch to another phone service to able to save money in the future.

Lifestyle Changes You Need For A Debt-Free Life

Too many temptations in this world lead to being piled with insurmountable debts. Advertisements tell us that with credit cards, nothing’s impossible. Salespeople and credit businessmen tell us that it won’t hurt to have a debt here and some debts there. Little do we know that debt could actually lead to death! It’s POSSIBLE to DIE from DEBTS.

How, you may ask. Ever heard of suicides committed just because one has too much debt that that person could not think of any other solution but to get out of his debt-laden world through killing himself? No? You’re not reading enough news, I’m telling you.

So, how do you avoid being victimized by debts? Learn a thing or two from the following bits of advice on how to manage a debt-free life:

Get the Drift of Being Thrifty

One major way to avoid having debts is to have enough money for your needs and even for your wants! How? Aside from landing a high-paying job, being a savings-savvy person at the same time is the solution. But what if you don’t have a quite well-paying job? Knowing how to save up will still help you in your goal. Here are some simple tips:

Budgeting well whatever amount of money lands in your wallet every payday should be one of the major goals of a debt-free life advocate. You have to evaluate yourself to know what type of budgeting will suit your tolerance and lifestyle. Do you need a daily budget scheme? How about a weekly or a monthly one? Your cash flow will be better monitored if you list all of the your expenditures and actual expenses.

Brown bagging should become a common practice if you are to make yourself debt-free soon. Now if you haven’t fallen for the culprit yet and you are just so not into the food you prepare yourself, consider compromising. Instead of bringing a lunch box of some sort, learn to drink your office coffee so that you have enough moolah for your lunch.

Coupon clipping is a good move, too. This will not only make you help save but can earn you some friends too that may support you in your debt-free life campaign. How? Look for other coupon-clippers and trade.

Do you know how to save on phone services? If you need to make long distance calls, don’t be sweet-talked by the smooth operator. Asking for help from the operator means having to spend more. If you use phone cards, check the expiration date and know if there are any hidden charges.

Club memberships that are rarely used should be dumped, too. What could be more stupid that wasting money on things that don’t get used, right? Speaking of rarely used things, how about stopping credit card use all at once? Learn to afford not swiping that evil card if you want a debt-free life. It’s one of the biggest temptations in this world!

Distinguish the Evil Forms of Debt

There are two kinds of debt. The good one is that kind of debt with which the item that caused your debt could be sold and the proceeds could help you repay the debt. The bad one is a loan that has a diminishing value.

An example of a good debt is a home loan that is if such home loan, particularly a home equity loan will add value to your home but if you will acquire such loan for unnecessary items, you’re doomed. An example of a bad debt is clothes, unless you’re a celebrity of course, wherein you can auction off your clothes when you get tired of them. School loans aren’t advisable because it will most likely be hard for someone to pay off his or her debt even after landing a good job since there are various expenses that will come when working life starts.

So, how do you stay debt-free or at least be able to manage well your debts through the abovementioned information? Avoid bad debts!

None of this would be possible without taking the first step. Start tracking your spending habits today and tailor your moves to your debt-free life goals. Self-discipline will help you breeze through it all.

Managing Your Debts For Better Living

Debts are a common thing. Many people acquire a loan for something important. Mortgage loans are also ordinary, as they enable people to be able to purchase their dream houses.

If you have debts and are looking for the best solution for it, here are good tips to follow so you can manage that debt and continue living life as you do.

1. Assess your debts.

Check all the billing statements sent to you and the amount your creditor is asking in payments. If you see any conflicts or wrong entries, dispute them accordingly. You then make a substantial computation, including interests and other charges.

2. Make a plan.

Decide as to how long you intend to pay your debts. If you can do it in a year or earlier than that, you can choose that scheme because the scheduled interest to pay is relatively lower. But you’ve got to consider your everyday living expenses as well. It wouldn’t be good to pay your debts alone and leave nothing for your personal needs.

3. Budget accordingly.

Now that you have arrived at your total debt amount, you now have to budget your expenditures. Determine the exact amount you have to pay monthly, in accordance to the span of time you are supposed to have paid the entire debt. Then make the loan repayment amount the first priority in your budget.

4. Further reduce your spending.

If you find out that your monthly income seems to be less than your projected monthly expenses, try to check which purchases you can put off or cut out entirely. Try to stick to your needs rather than the wants.

5. Maximize your savings.

If you have some money in the bank, try to determine how you can use it best to pay off your debts. Check which of your savings accounts is the lowest interest earner. Maybe you can use that to compensate a loan with a much higher rate of interest.

6. Search for additional payment sources.

You can get a part time job or set up a home business to further augment your financial obligations. There are also government funds that you can possibly get. These are all going to be helpful for you.

Follow these six tips and you are sure to be free of debt in no time. The main idea in managing debts effectively is setting proper priorities. Once you’ve mastered that, you are bound to be successful.