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Use Tech to Secure Your Financial Future with Proper Budgeting

29 Mar

cash

Before you start a financial life plan to invest in your future, you first must tackle the art of proper budgeting. Life throws plenty of curveballs, and getting a grip on your day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to-year monetary needs will help you when the time comes. Once you’ve developed a proper budget, you can begin to set life goals and figure out how to make them happen.
Unfortunately, budgeting can be very overwhelming for many. Thankfully, there are many great websites and apps available to make things a little easier. I offer budgeting advice and recommend some helpful financial planning tech below:

Track your spending, income, and make a detailed spreadsheet

Before you can begin to budget for your future, you have to know how much money is coming in, how much money is going out, and where all the money is going, specifically. You should immediately begin to track all of your spending in a spreadsheet. Separate it out by type of spending – categories like bills and fixed expenses, discretionary spending, and savings. Use past bills and bank statements to create a larger history of your spending.

If you feel lost tracking this from scratch try an app or program that helps track spending like Mint or Quicken.

Know the difference between fixed and discretionary spending

Fixed expenses usually fall into the “can’t live without them” category. This includes your major bills – house payment or rent, loans, debt payments, clothing, and utilities. Discretionary spending usually refers to anything considered optional like going out to eat, going to concerts, vacation, etc. Some expenses can technically fall into either category, like a cellphone plan. But for most people it will be easy to decide whether something is truly necessary or not.

The trick of course is making sure you don’t overspend in either area. You can use apps such as ShopSavvy to comparison shop while sites like GroupOn and LivingSocial can hook you up with good deals. There are also plenty of apps that help you track your overall spending. For example, LearnVest has an app that helps you group your expenses so that you can manage fixed and discretionary spending separately and more easily see where you might be able to reduce your spending in certain categories. It also helps you set and track financial goals.

Create your budget – down to the percentage point.

Here’s where discipline really comes into play. You need to decide how much or your income you want to spend on fixed costs, discretionary costs, and how much you want to put into savings. One idea is to follow the 50/20/30 rule.

This means that 50% of your income is devoted to fixed costs – those things you simply must pay. That means that 20% can go toward some sort of savings and 30% can be allocated for discretionary spending.

Investing firm LearnVest suggests four basic categories for savings.

“Consider putting at least 20% of your take-home pay toward important payments or contributions that will help you secure your financial foundation. We believe there are three essential goals everyone should strive for: paying down credit card debt, saving for retirement and building an emergency fund. But your financial goals can also include larger savings priorities like a down payment on a new home.”

Building an emergency fund is key. You should always use your savings allotment to first build a fund that can support you if one of life’s unexpected curveballs comes your way. Having an emergency fund will then allow you to begin to pay down debt and then eventually invest in your future.

Once you develop a sensible budget, it’s important to stick to it. It’s also important to always be looking for ways to cut your expenses so you have more money to put away in savings. When you focus on saving, you can begin to set goals for your future. For example, maybe you’d like to buy a house some day or create a website for that online business idea you’ve been kicking around. Using technology to help you track your spending and saving will make it much easier to stay on track to achieve these financial goals.

Bottom line: Don’t get complacent in your habits – always look for ways to maximize what you can put away for the future. Remember, the compound nature of investing means that the earlier you can start saving, the better.

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

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Claim Lost Money

24 Nov

What’s better than finding $20 in that winter coat you tucked away from last season? How about finding money that’s been lost from your family for years? MissingMoney.com searches state and county offices’ websites to find unclaimed funds and return them to you. The site is endorsed by NAUPA; my friends have also personally used the site and received lost funds. If you think you have funds to claim, you should search the site and find out.

http://www.missingmoney.com/

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Five Tips To Shop Better

28 Sep

How do you shop? Do you consider yourself a savvy shopper? Check out these five tips to improve the way you shop and make it better.

Five Tips To Shop Better

  1. Plan ahead – when going out only take the credit cards you need
  2. Be careful online – look for the https in the URL when you are ready to check out
  3. Be observant in the store – be aware someone could take photo of information
  4. Keep credit card or ATM receipts – or don’t print out a receipt and review them later online
  5. Shop with a slim wallet – carry little cash

Do you have any tips to shop better?

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Check the Balance of Any Gift Card

13 Aug

So you’ve got a gift card sitting in your kitchen drawer and you are not sure what’s left on it. Why not spare yourself the pain of getting to the cash register at that retail store to find out there is only a few cents left on it? At Card Balance, you can check the amount of almost any gift card instantly. All you need is the gift card, account number and access code to find the balance.

Cardbalance.net

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What Telemarketer is Calling You?

24 Sep

What was that phone number that just called, didn’t leave a message and you didn’t recognize it? If you are not sure, you should first cross-check it with 1-800-notes. The socially moderated site allows you to lookup the number and then review comments from other users who generally reveal who is calling. You can also of course add your experience about the number as well. The next time you get a call and you aren’t sure who’s on the other end, first try this website.

http://800notes.com

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Police Report Info

26 Apr

Are you an Ohioan looking for a quick resource to look up automobile accidents? I recently stumbled upon this site and it’s quite a resource for the public. You can only go back a couple of years, the information is limited to car accidents but it saves you the time going to each counties site to look it up.

The website states, “PoliceReportInfo.com is an online resource dedicated to providing our readers with the most useful and timely information related to automobile accidents and obtaining free copies of your police accident report.” Keep this site handy if you need a resource for Ohio police report accidents.

policereportinfo.com

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Who Just Called Me?

24 Apr

What do you do if you do not recognize the number that just called you? If the number comes up “unknown”, just type it into this website and you’ll find out who just called. I kept getting called by a telemarketer and discovered on this site who the company was from user comments. The next time you get a call and you’re not sure who is on the other line, use Who Calls Me to reverse lookup the number.

http://whocallsme.com/

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Connectivity is a Human Right

21 Aug

Did you know almost two-thirds of the planet is offline? Recently Leading Hands talked about Google Internet Balloons, now Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is shaking the same stick. He says, “Connectivity is a human right.” His plan is join forces with other companies and pull it off through the organization Internet.org.

Internet.org is a group created to develop the creation of Internet balloons, inexpensive lightRadio technology to small villages without cell towers and smartphones that cost less than $15. According to this CNN article, “Most of us take the Internet for granted. But think about what Internet access would mean to 5 billion people who don’t currently have it.” Follow the link below to the organization that has been created to make this Internet for all a reality.

Everyone be online through Internet.org
http://internet.org

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My Simon Price Comparison

24 Jan

Before I buy anything, you owe it to yourself to complete an online price comparison. If you are looking to purchase consumer goods, especially electronics, then don””t forget about a reliable favorite “My Simon”. This website is constantly updated with the latest deals and reviews. At “My Simon” you can review and price compare items side-by-side. Furthermore, you can review user submitted feedback and ratings.

My Simon gives consumers the power of online comparison
mysimon.com

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Car runs on air?

19 Aug

Compressed air cars or CAVs, might be on your street before you know it. Indian carmaker Tata is already making them. The technology uses compressed air to drive old-fashioned car engine pistons instead of combusting gas or diesel fuel to create a burst of air to do the same thing. The car can cruise at 35 mph with air and then at the highway speeds with any fuel that is combustible.

Would you buy one of these cars?

http://www.mdi.lu/english/

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