Thursday, 19 January 2017 19:01

52-Week Savings Challenge

Saving money can be difficult. It’s easy to have self-control at home, when you’re setting up your budget, but it can be much trickier to have that same self-control when you want to grab dinner out after a long day. Or maybe you see a sale on sneakers and your old ones are just getting so ratty and you think you’d definitely exercise more if you had good sneakers. And just look at them, they’re amazing!

Saving the simple way

The “52-Week Savings Challenge” is designed to make it easier to save. The idea is simple: Put away $1 the first week, then $2 the following week, followed by $3,, and then $4, all the way up to $52 the final week of the year. It might not sound like much, but if you follow the plan, you’ll save $1,378 over a year. Think you can handle that?

If you’re interested in following the calendar, you’ll need to prime the pot with a few dollars for the weeks you missed to start the year. If not, you can start in the first week of February (or whenever you’re reading this, there’s no time like the present!), which might be even better considering you won’t be trying to save the largest amounts at the same time you’re spending on last-minute holiday shopping. On the other hand, you could always use this as your holiday spending war chest.

We’ve got a guide appearing below to show how much you’ll need to save. We used Fridays for three reasons: First, because many people get paid on Fridays; second, because no one wants to take money out of their wallet on Mondays; and third, because there are 53 Fridays in 2016, so you can save extra money, or miss a week without ruining the program.

Taking it to the next level

There are three main weaknesses to the 52-week savings challenge. First, the money people save on this challenge tends to go into a jar somewhere. While the people who finish the challenge talk about the advantage of seeing their money in cash, which helps them stay motivated, the idea of $1400 sitting around the house is unnerving. It’s not earning interest and it’s begging for something bad to happen to it. Second, remembering to put away money every week can be a chore, particularly if you’ve got to look up how much you’re putting away every Friday, getting cash, breaking a big bill…wow, that sounds exhausting. Finally, the challenge is designed in such a way that the final three months can be pretty tough: you’ll need to put away nearly $50 per week for the last 14 weeks, which can be a tall order.

Wasatch Peaks can help with all of those problems, though. First, let’s earn some interest. We’ve got a ton of great savings plans, but if you’re just getting started with saving, they can be a little confusing. For a plan like this, in which you’ll be making regular deposits with a low balance for most of the year, and then withdrawing it eventually, you might want to try one of our interest-bearing Christmas Club accounts. Your money will make money, and you won’t have a jar of cash in the house.

Next, let’s make it simple. Obviously, the simplest thing to do is to set up direct deposit into your savings account, Christmas Club account, or other savings program. Unfortunately, the 52-week challenge makes that tough, because the amount you save changes every week. One possibility is to take the average. If you deposit $27 into your savings every Friday, you’ll end up with the same amount at the end of the year as the 52-week challenge. It’s not as interesting or fun that way, but you can set it up today and forget about it. You can also make monthly deposits of $120 to reach your goal, or take $54 out of every paycheck if you’re paid biweekly.

Finally, we need to deal with the end of the year problem. It can be extra tough to find money to save in December, and to make matters worse, back-loading the plan really hurts if you give up on it before it’s over. If you save diligently for nine months before getting distracted or receive a surprise bill that derails you, you will only have saved about half of what you planned, even though you worked for almost the whole year. The previous solutions we offered, the Christmas Club account and direct depositing the average amount help somewhat, but they take some of the fun out of the game.

Here’s an idea that keeps it fun, avoids the end of the year jam, and lets you earn interest: First, you need a list of the various amounts you’re going to save. You can print our chart really small, keep a spreadsheet on your phone, or just take a note card and write the numbers 1-52 on it. Then, whenever you make the choice to save money, you transfer that amount online or on our app (If you don’t have our app, check out our Peaks Mobile Banking™. Click here for Apple® and here for Android™) and cross off that number. At the end of the year, you’ve got to cross off all of them, so it becomes a real challenge. Gotta catch ’em all!

If you’re planning on trying the 52-week Savings Challenge, let us know. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, then tell us what you’ve done to cut some fat out of your budget. Our members would love to hear your tips, and you might get some good ones from them. Members helping members!

January

Week

1

2

3

4

5

Date 

January 2

January 9

January 16

January 23

January 30

Savings this week

$1

$2

$3

$4

$5

Total Savings

$1

$3

$6

$10

$15

February

Week

6

7

8

9

Date

February 6

February 13

February 20

February 27

Savings this week

$6

$7

$8

$9

Total Savings

$21

$28

$36

$45

March

Week

10

11

12

13 

Date

March 5

March 12

March 19

March 26

Savings this week

$10

$11

$12

$13

Total Savings

$55

$66

$78

$92

April

Week

14

15

16

17

18

Date

April 2

April 9

April 16

April 23

April 30

Savings this week

$14

$15

$16

$17

$18

Total Savings

$105

$120

$136

$153

$171

May

Week

19

20

21

22

Date

May 7

May 14

May 21

May 28

Savings this week

$19

$20

$21

$22

Total Savings

$190

$210

$231

$253

June

Week

23

24

25

26

Date

June 4

June 11

June 18

June 25

Savings this week

$23

$24

$25

$26

Total Savings

$276

$300

$325

$351

July

Week

27

28

29

30

31

Date

July 2

July 9

July 16

July 23

July 30

Savings this week

$27

$28

$29

$30

$31

Total Savings

$378

$406

$435

$465

$496

August

Week

32

33

34

35

Date

August 6

August 13

August 20

August 27

Savings this week

$32

$33

$34

$35

Total Savings

$528

$561

$595

$630

September

Week

36

37

38

39

Date

September 3

September 10

September 17

September 24

Savings this week

$36

$37

$38

$39

Total Savings

$666

$703

$741

$780

October

Week

40

41

42

43

44

Date

October 1

October 8

October 15

October 22

October 29

Savings this week

$40

$41

$42

$43

$44

Total Savings

$820

$861

$903

$946

$990

 November

Week

45

46

47

48

Date

November 5

November 12

November 19

November 26

Savings this week

$45

$46

$47

$48

Total Savings

$1,035

$1,081

$1,128

$1,176

 December

Week

49

50

51

52

53

Date

December 3

December 10

December 17

December 24

December 31

Savings this week

$49

$50

$51

$52

$53

Total Savings

$1,225

$1,275

$1,326

$1,378

$1,431

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 04 January 2017 16:33

Making a Budget and a Plan

Happy New Year! Not a lot changed at the end of 2016 for me, but the holiday is a break from school, so we took our family on a vacation. I started to say, “This was a budget trip," but I caught myself and stopped. I thought about how I was going to use the word budget. So many times we use the word budget to mean cheap. It was a cheap trip. So, I changed my wording and said, “It was a cheap trip.” Budgeting gets a bad reputation when it is used to mean being cheap. Budget doesn’t mean cheap. Budget means a plan. I like how I feel when I follow plans. Think about how you feel when you are following a health plan. Maybe over the holidays you ate without a plan (like I did), and maybe you felt pretty yucky (like I did). Think about the times when you did follow a plan to exercise and eat healthy. It is hard at the time, but I always love how I feel afterward. Over time, I see great results from following a health plan.

Imagine building your home without house plans! I have several friends building beautiful homes right now. I can guarantee that every inch of those homes was included in the plan in order for them to turn out the way that my friends want them to look.

Budgets are financial plans! How do you want your finances to look? If we could think of budgets like building our dream financial home, budgeting could change. We could be excited about it even though we may hate some of the work and discipline involved in the details. There are so many decisions to make when you build a home. Some are big decisions, like square footage and number of rooms. Some are small, like style of doorknobs. Some are almost permanent and some are temporary. It’s not easy to knock out a wall, but changing a door or the color of paint is relatively easy. The more you think about the details, the more likely you are to get the house that you want.

We have big financial decisions that impact us for years, and then we have minor ones that still impact us but not as much.  How would our finances be different if we had to submit a plan before we could spend? Well, no permits are required in order to spend money. So, we have to require ourselves to budget. Budget is both a verb and a noun. It’s an actual piece of paper that details out what you will spend, but it is also a process of using that piece of paper and referring back to it before we spend. You don’t have to be perfect. Budgets are flexible. When we do make mistakes, we can change by remodeling. However, we can prevent having to redo a lot by planning!

I love the feeling of being on a plan and a budget, and even though I get off track in the holidays, it’s a NEW YEAR, and it’s a new month. What if we could change the way we view budgets and make them a part of our lives? They aren’t required of us like building plans are, but we can require them….every month. I can’t force you to do one. Wasatch Peaks can’t force you to do one. But we are here to help and encourage you to budget so that you can create the financial house that you want, and feel great about it! I promise you great results as you follow your financial plan over time.

Wasatch Peaks has the option to create Budgeter Accounts. This makes it easy to save and budget by allowing you to have up to 30 budgeting accounts withing your account to put money into and keep seperate for easy tracking. Each budgeting account has a specific name for each budgeting category (Rent, Insurance, School Expenses, Groceries, etc.) so that this budget plan can be customized just for you! It can be pre-set so money is automatically tranferred to your Budgeter Account from your savings or payroll and divided up into each budget account.

Every trip is a budget trip. Every decision is a budgeting decision! I am going to make my January budget right now and invite you to make yours! If you have any questions or want someone to help keep you accountable, please post. Please post your struggles with budgeting. For me there are a handful of categories (food, vacation, clothes) that I have to watch carefully, but the other categories are fixed and don’t require much. Where do you overspend?

The New Year is a great time of renewal. That makes it a good time to make bold, decisive changes in your life. Leave behind the baggage that was 2016 and start fresh with a blank slate in 2017. If you’re looking for some resolutions to improve your personal finances, we’re pleased to offer seven ways to make 2017 the year of the dollar!

Track your spending

If you’re looking to take your first steps toward financial literacy, figuring out where your money goes should be at the top of your list. If you don’t know where your money goes, it’s going to be tough to follow through with any other money plans. You may have a general sense of how much you spend, but after a month where you’ve recorded every dollar, you’ll have a much better picture. Using Peaks Money Manager™ can automate the process. You might even find that keeping track of what you do with your money encourages you to spend a little more judiciously.

Make a budget

About 70% of Americans live financially spontaneous lives. They don’t make a plan for spending or saving. When asked why they chose not to do so, the most common response was that the family spent all the money anyway. This is a circular problem. If you don’t have a budget that includes setting aside money for long-term expenses and savings, you’ll end up spending all your money on unplanned things and events. The best way to stop the cycle is to sit down and make a budget that modifies your spending to be more in line with your priorities.

Get out of debt

Easier said than done, right? However, there’s no bigger stumbling block to financial security and wealth building than debt. It’s hard to save for long-term goals when so much of your monthly income gets eaten up by interest and fees. There are a variety of methods you can use to help accelerate your payoffs. For instance, you can add an extra $50 or $100 to your credit card payments. Or, you can focus all your payment resources on the highest interest debt until it’s paid off and then move it all to the next highest for snowballing your way to freedom from debt.

Start an emergency fund

The best way to avoid going into debt is to have some money on hand to handle the occasional, yet inevitable, emergency. Most Americans, though, can’t come up with $500 in such instances. Set a specific goal, like adding $10 per month to a savings account. At the end of the year, you’ll have more than $100 available in case something goes wrong.

Start a retirement account

You can’t save for what you don’t think about. When retirement is years or decades away, it’s difficult to incorporate thinking about it into your daily routine. If you have a retirement account open, you’ll get monthly statements, which serve as reminders. The challenge, though, is taking that first step. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. While there are important differences between Roth and Traditional IRA accounts, either one is better than no retirement savings at all. If your job offers a 401(k) matching program, sign up to get at least the full matching funds amount – it’s free money. Do a little bit of research, then open the account that seems like the best idea.

Automate your savings

Saving money takes willpower. Because it’s hard to practice self-denial on a constant basis, that extra $5 you’ve earmarked for savings can very easily turn into a mid-morning coffee. Fighting that impulse is a constant struggle. That’s why it’s easiest to avoid the decision altogether. Change your direct deposit to put some of your paycheck directly into a savings account, where you won’t even think of spending it impulsively.

Get educated

Knowledge is power, and that’s especially true in the world of personal finance. What you know about your money goes a long way toward determining how much of it you get to keep. There’s a lot to learn, but you’ve got a wealth of information at your fingertips. Resolve to read one personal finance article a week. Not only will this give you good ideas for improving your personal financial situation; you’ll also spend more time thinking about your money. That’ll lead to positive results down the line!

Happy New Year from all of us at Wasatch Peaks Credit Union. We hope you have a safe, happy and prosperous 2017!

What resolutions are you making this year? Will 2017 be the year you join a book club, quit smoking or spend more time with your family? Let us know in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://wallethub.com/blog/financial-new-years-resolutions/9202/
http://www.reviewjournal.com/business/money/13-financial-new-years-resolutions-you-should-make
http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/personalfinance/savingspending/budgeting/newYearsRes.php
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/16/so-what-percentage-of-americans-actually-keep-a-budget-gallup-results-may-surprise-you/

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 27 December 2016 19:34

Get Up When You Fall Financially

This morning was hard to get up. My husband's alarm went off and I woke up to use the bathroom. My body felt sore. I felt the effects of the cookies, bacon, and chocolate covered popcorn, which I ate yesterday. I felt cold as soon as I got out of my bed. I wanted to go back to sleep. I felt gravity pulling me back to my warm bed. I thought of all the work ahead of me today. Except for the bathroom, every room looks like it experienced a tornado. Christmas was a busy day for my family. I visited 3 families, attended two church services, and had a sick child. The house was now a disaster zone. This can also happen financially over the holidays.

Somehow, I found the strength to walk past my bed without getting back into it. Somehow, I meditated and planned my day. This was a HUGE victory for me today. I think it was because Christmas gave me the belief that I can change. Seeing friends and family and feeling loved inspired me to keep trying. Experiencing kindness and generosity inspired me to want to keep moving forward. Even though I overspent, I can recommit. Even though the house is a mess, we can restore order one item and one room at a time. Sometimes we don't feel like waking up financially, but every day is a new day. If we mess up and give in to a purchase we didn't plan on, or miss a budget meeting, we can start again any and every day. In the big picture, it's not really going to matter that I spent a few more hundred dollars than I wanted to spend, as long as I keep trying.

During this holiday, several of my friends and family have told me that they want to get on top of their finances. They want to budget. They want to plan for taxes. They want to invest. These friends and family have asked my advice on budgeting and asked what app or system they should use. Some of them face huge obstacles in doing this, so I don't want to minimize how hard it can be to change financially. I will compare it to my experience with exercising.

I started exercising regularly a couple of months ago. At the gym, I am surrounded with healthy and strong people. I think about what they had to sacrifice to build the muscles that they have. It is a long and gradual process, and it can't be faked or sped up. There is no shortcut. I can't just be stronger because I want to be. For the first time, I have been weight lifting with a bar and weights. I started with just the bar and am adding small amounts. I can't just put a 35 pound weight on the bar and lift it. I have to sacrifice, plan, and build up the strength. I have to commit. On Christmas Eve I went to a hard interval training class. The teacher pushed herself and admitted it was hard, but at the end she encouraged us and played inspiring music that talked about getting back up and try again. I left feeling so inspired to celebrate my victories and keep trying.

There is no magical app that will make me in shape or get my friends to budget. It doesn't really matter what app you use. There are a lot of good tools, but there is no magical app that will force us to be disciplined. However, exercising at the gym helps inspire me. I believe I can get stronger.

Consider this blog to be your financial gym. Come here to believe that you can change, and surround yourself with people who are growing stronger physically and believing that they can improve. Happy New Years. Enjoy the holiday!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 21:42

Help! I Overspent On Christmas!

It is so easy to go overboard on Christmas. If you have kids, you want everything to be perfect for them. You want to build priceless memories, so spending any amount seems worth it. If you're just getting started, you want to impress your family with how together you have things. Giving extravagant gifts to your family members seems like a great idea ... until you're staring at a huge credit card bill in January.

However it happened, it's important to approach this problem rationally. Constantly blaming yourself won't fix the problem. The important part now is to right yourself financially. You can't take back gifts and return them at this point. You have to deal with the situation that's in front of you.

Fortunately, you're not alone. Wasatch Peaks Credit Union is here to help. Check out these four ways you can patch up your finances and have things right before summer.

Budgeting advice

It can be very tempting to make only the minimum payments on the credit card you used to buy Christmas. Unfortunately, it's also the best way to ensure you're in debt for all the Christmases from here on out.

Making minimum payments on credit cards prolongs the length of time you're in debt. It also makes the total amount you pay for your debt skyrocket. Making just the minimum payment adds an extra $175 to a $10,000 balance at 21% APR.

What you need is an aggressive debt repayment plan. The question you should be asking yourself isn't, "What's the least I can pay on this debt?" Instead, identify the most you can afford to pay. Wasatch Peaks can help with informative guides and worksheets on household budgeting.

Making an extreme budget is usually not a good choice, but in this case, it's essential until you get yourself out from under that holiday-fueled debt. Make some sacrifices and get ready to tighten your belt for a little while. Yeah, coming up with an extra $35 or $50 a month is tough, but it's the easiest way to get things moving.

Refinancing major purchases

If you went overboard on one or two major purchases, like a car for a teen, it may not be credit card debt you need help overcoming. Slick dealers offer crazy-sounding incentives like zero down and zero percent financing on cars to entice people to give cars for Christmas. Unfortunately, once you've signed on the dotted line, you may see you're in for more than you can handle with a car payment.

Wasatch Peaks can help. Our auto and other major purchase loans often feature rates that are better than dealerships. You may need to finance over a longer term to manage the monthly expenses, or you may just need to restructure to pay less now. Either way, you'll find more favorable and flexible terms with us than you will at the dealer.

Debt counseling

Does reading those credit card statements fill you with a dizzying sense of despair? Wasatch Peaks can help you make sense of them.

Wasatch Peaks offers debt and budget coaching to help you gain a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities. You can also come up with a realistic plan to pay off your debt and avoid falling into the same trap next year.

Personal loans

Instead of making dozens of minimum payments, wouldn't it be nice to focus your debt into one manageable plan? A debt consolidation loan can do just that. Best of all, it can save you money in the long run by lowering your interest rate and monthly payment commitment. Rather than paying a credit card APR, you can get the lower fixed rate on a personal loan.

Although collateral, or something to secure the loan, can help get you a lower interest rate, it isn't necessary. All you need is some basic personal information and a willing partner, like Wasatch Peaks. Wasatch Peaks offers a variety of Personal Loan programs for emergencies, bill consolidation or other uses. Our loan specialists can help you organize and simplify your payments, working toward a debt-free life.

Feeling buyer's remorse after a big holiday spending spree? Let us know about it in the comments. If you've got a system to stay on budget, help your fellow members and share your wisdom!

SOURCES:

Published in Blog
Monday, 19 December 2016 16:26

Teaching Money Lessons to Your Kids

Everyday life gives us opportunities to teach others by using money. Here are a few we have had this month.

Money lessons from sports

My daughter loves playing basketball. She plays at recess with the boys in her grade. On Saturday, we went to the last game of the season for her recreation team. She has been invited to play on a competition team. Jackie and I discussed how much time and money it would cost her. We decided that playing on this team would be good for her. I asked when the fee was due. Her coach (who knows me well) said that if I needed to wait to budget for it, that was fine. I told her that I was letting Jackie pay for it. I pay for some of their wants, but this one I thought she would appreciate more if she paid for it.

I withdrew money from Jackie’s account for the competition team fee. Then I withdrew the amounts for their paydays from my account. Wesley (8), said, “Hey, you aren’t really paying us. You are just taking money out of our accounts and giving it to us.” After I laughed, I explained bank accounts and how they all had account numbers and I used different account numbers for each withdrawal.

Money lessons from school lunch

This is the first year Tommy (6) has eaten lunch at school. He prefers school lunch to packing his own lunch. He often left his lunch at home, so he went through his lunch money fast. I told him his balance was low, so he needed to pack his lunch to take until I paid more lunch money. He didn’t listen to me, and his account went negative. I told him that it wasn’t honest to eat without paying, but he didn’t understand. He responded, “No, it’s free.” In this electronic age, there is often a disconnect with what things cost. I remember taking my lunch money, and knew that I had to pay.

Fast forward a few months, and a neighbor posted on Facebook about her son not being able to eat because of low lunch money. That reminded me to pay for lunch since the balance was getting low again. I sent lunch money with my ten year old. Her dad asked if she had paid it, and she said yes. But I keep getting emails about low lunch money- especially for her and my school lunch loving first grader. So, I asked her again if she paid. She said, “I thought I did.” But then on Saturday, she found her lunch money in her backpack. These simple experiences are helping them learn responsibility.

Money lessons from Christmas shopping

This was a recent conversation between my kids. Chloe (4) said, “Santa is going to bring me a tramp.” Jackie (10) replied, ”First of all, it won’t fit in his bag. Second of all, it won’t fit in his sleigh. Third of all, it won’t fit under the tree.” My four year old replied, “It’s going to be a little tramp.” She has since changed her request. She is now asking for, “A talking dog that talks like us.” Where is Clifford when you need him?

Chloe is often my shopping buddy these days. She usually wants so many things every time that we shop. While we were waiting in the checkout line last week, she saw a Tootsie Roll Bank. She said she wanted it, and I told her no. I showed her how much it cost. I taught her what the dollar sign looks like and then talked about how it was $1. I told her that she had money to pay for things like that. She didn’t have her money with her and delaying her immediate gratification was hard.

Jackie (10) and Wes (8) decided what they were going to give everyone for Christmas. They have been earning their money so that they can buy their gifts. We went to to the Dollar Store. Jackie bought presents for each member of the family and for each member of her class. She also wrote a poem to go with each of the presents. My kids went to the checkstand before I was ready and backed up the line. Even though shopping was chaotic, thinking about their giving hearts is making me cry as I write this.

What experiences have you had teaching about life through money?

Monday, 21 November 2016 23:30

Learning from our budgeting blunders

My daughter is learning to play basketball and loves it so much. We went to her game last Saturday. Even the best basketball players miss a lot of shots. Anyone that knows me, knows I believe in budgeting. Even though I love it, my family has plenty of budgeting blunders.

$62 Dollar Shower

My husband and I met at the beginning of November and planned how we would spend our money this month. We agreed to follow the plan. Some friends invited us to join them for a date night. We didn’t have the money budgeted. I talked to Ty about it, and we decided to pass and planned to have a cheap date instead. We spent the day working outside, and by the end, I really wanted to have a shower. While I was in the shower, a girl came by raising money through selling magazines. Ty has turned down magazine subscriptions before and he often will tell the sales people that he needs to talk to his wife first. He ended up paying $62 for magazine subscriptions, which is about the amount of the date night that we had said no to because we couldn’t afford it.

Why do we sometimes spend money on things that are not important and not urgent? I don’t have an answer. Sometimes we make mistakes and have to pay for them. Ty didn’t know why he did it. At first, I felt upset about this. Then, I realized that I make mistakes, and we can learn from them. We discussed how we would pay for this one, and decided Ty would pay for this with his own spending money since there wasn’t any money for it in the family budget. I joked about how $62 is the most expensive shower I have ever had.

Busting the budget with gasoline expense

This year we bought an SUV, and the transportation budget category has been a struggle for us. We knew that we would spend more on gasoline for the SUV than we did on the van, but our gasoline expense fluctuates quite a bit based on what we are doing that month. I know people who won’t drive if there isn’t money in their gasoline category, but we will still drive to where we need to go. Even though gas is a variable expense, it seems like a fixed expense. Well, we need to solve this problem. We are going to budget money to the vacation fund so that when we go on our family day adventures, it won’t ruin our budget. We recently took a day trip to Idaho to visit Crater of the Moon and Hagerman Fossil Beds. It wasn’t a full vacation so we didn’t budget for it like we would for a vacation, but the price of driving up there was substantial enough to go over the budgeted amount in gasoline.

Holidays can be budget breaking times of the year. It’s easy to give up and wait until the new year to start again, but remember my family’s budgeting blunders. Budgets require flexibility and the ability to change and adjust.

Wasatch Peaks has some great resources to help with our budgeting blunders like the Christmas Club savings accounts to help save up for Christmas, vacations, and more. At Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, we care about your financial wellness. That’s why Wasatch Peaks partnered with industry-leading BALANCE to provide you with free access to expertly-crafted financial education and resources to help with your financial matters. And should you need, BALANCE can assist with confidential, no-cost financial counseling services to help you develop a sensible budget managing spending and debt. For all your financial life stage changes and more, Wasatch Peaks—in partnership with BALANCE—are here to help. Click here to learn more about the BALANCE Program.

Athletes who are passionate about their sport still miss a lot of shots. They learn from it, and they keep practicing and are successful no matter how many times they miss. Sometimes those mistakes are more valuable than the successes because the pain you experience helps you learn and change. What budgeting blunders have you experienced and what did you learn from them?

Monday, 07 November 2016 19:31

Exercising our right to vote

During the past few months leading up to the presidential elections, I’ve heard a lot of economic terms used in the media: taxes, economics, entitlements, etc. As I listened to the presidential candidates talk about these terms in their plans, I thought about how the presidential elections will affect my family’s finances. This is complicated. I heard all the candidates say they won’t raise taxes on the middle class, but what if other costs are raised? Wouldn’t that have the same effect on our personal finances as if taxes were raised? For example, our health insurance premiums cost double what they cost a couple of years ago.

According to the Tax Foundation's website, the income tax brackets ranged from 1% to 7% in 1913 when the Income Tax Law was passed. My Grandpa was born just four years later in 1917. Over his lifetime he watched the income tax increase. He told me that if we had to write a check each payday for taxes (like bills) instead of having taxes automatically deducted, Americans would realize how much was being taxed. If that happened, he predicted we would revolt against these taxes. After working in the tax profession, I don’t know anyone who likes to pay taxes. Many are worried about national debt and other financial issues in our country.

What can we do? Here are some actions that I’m taking…

Vote

Tomorrow is Election Day. I admit my weakness in this area. Although I usually voted, I didn’t put a lot of research or effort into my vote and wasn’t involved in the election process. I didn’t think much about my vote until voting day. Then, I voted — sometimes not even knowing about the candidates or about the issues that were on the ballot. Both my husband and I took our right to vote for granted. I remember one year that my husband worked later than the polls were open and missed it. So, we prioritized voting this year. I have put many hours into researching candidates, issues, and principles of liberty. I’ve thought about the issues and candidates. I’ve attended a local meeting with a presidential candidate. I watched as much as I could handle watching of the Presidential Debates. I’ve gone to presidential candidate websites and vote.utah.gov in order to learn about the candidates and the issues. I will continue to keep learning about the issues as the next few months unfold.

Lead well

We all lead, but what kind of leaders are we, and what kind of leaders are we training? It’s easy for me to criticize the leaders in the public eye — especially with reports from media sources, which are often biased. But, it is much harder to be a good leader. It takes courage and proactivity. Throughout this year, I’ve felt grateful for strong leaders who founded the United States. I gained the desire to be a better leader. I’ve turned my attention to improving my leadership skills. My vote probably won’t change the results of the election and yours may not either, but what if it changes us? What if we decide to lead better? I’m not just voting to affect the results of the election, I’m also voting to voice my opinion. As I do this, I’ve examined myself and my life and found areas where I can improve. Our country is struggling. There are so many issues out of our control. I’m letting those things totally go, and focusing on what’s in my control.

Manage our finances wisely

No matter what the election results are, we have control over our financial decisions. I don’t have authority or ability to pay off the national debt, but I do have the authority and ability to make a plan to pay off my debt. I can’t make Congress spend less money than it has, and I can’t make our national leaders avoid national debt, but my family can spend less that we earn. We can save! We can budget! Government leaders will still make decisions that will affect us, but we can choose to live by financial principles that are proven to prosper. That thought gives me a lot of hope.

Last night, my kids told us who they are voting for president. They apparently don’t realize that they can’t officially vote, but we are going to hold an election for them so that they can voice their opinion. I’m encouraging them to get involved in the process of choosing leaders. I want them to be proactive and grow up to be great leaders. My 4 year-old wants to vote the way I do. Each of the others have reasons for their choice. No matter who you choose, we can choose to be involved, to lead, and to be financially responsible.

Monday, 29 August 2016 17:50

Labor on your budget before Labor Day

Labor Day is this weekend. Is your September budget ready? I’ve been working on ours, but writing this post motivated me to finish our budget and review it with my husband. So, thank you for that.

Every month is different and every family’s situation is different.

  • What is important to you this month?
  • Are you leaving town for the holiday weekend?
  • Do you need to buy any birthday presents this month?

This month, my family has school fundraisers, lunches, fall clothing, boots, wedding anniversary, cement patio, and my mother-in-law’s birthday. Making the budget is not the hard part in my opinion. It’s pretty similar most months. Add in those expenses that are specific for September, and you have your budget. I think that following the budget is the hard part. So let’s talk about that.

Plan with your family!

I learned this concept in cooking meals. If I don’t involve them, they usually don’t like the meal. On Friday, we made grilled pizza, and my kids made their own individual pizzas just the way they like it. Tommy’s pizza had pepperoni, pineapple, ham, and cheese. He finished it and wanted second helpings. Personalizing budgets is really important. If I made a budget and gave it to you, I can guarantee it wouldn’t work. It would be my budget—not yours.

USE that budget!

This is the tough part, in my opinion, because we have to use self control. But, if we don’t use our budget, it can’t help us. When urges come to spend money, and I have gone to the budget, I have been able to either spend the money or avoid spending the money. I’ve asked, "Is this expense part of my financial plan this month?" If it was, I spent it. If it wasn’t, I didn’t. When we were newleyweds (13 years ago) the biggest mistake we made when budgeting was not to look at our budget during the month. Although we made a budget, we didn’t use it. We always overspent in some areas and weren’t focused like we could have been. We didn’t get into debt, but we could have been more focused. I regret we didn’t save more for a down payment on our home. We all have weak moments so we need each other to help us. I often tell my kids that I’m not perfect and I need their help.

There are a lot of different ways to implement your plan for spending money and saving money. Please share what works for you. If you are married, talk to your spouse about how you will implement the plan. If one of you overspends in one category, what is the consequence?

If your answer to my question at the beginning of this post was "no," I invite you to take my challenge to labor on your budget before Labor Day by creating your budget.

For over a decade, our family has budgeted, but sometimes we get out of the habit and this summer was one of those times that we stopped budgeting. I miss it! So, as I get back on track, I want to share some practices that are helping our family.

Enjoy working on finances!

My husband can make any activity fun. Although Ty doesn’t naturally enjoy working on finances, he jokes with me and teases me. We usually end up laughing.

Recently, we went on a financial date night. We went grocery shopping. I usually buy all of our food, and I get tired of it, so it was fun to go together. Our salt shaker had been broken, and we went to three different stores on our quest to find a new salt shaker that had big enough holes for the salt crystals that we have. We ended up buying a disposable one, but it was a memory and gave us time to talk about finances. It’s good for us to have a regular time to discuss our finances.

Make goals

Then, focus on those financial goals. With school starting up next week, my ten year old daughter and I met to help her set goals for herself. One of the goals she set was to earn money for a new bike. She has chances to earn money at home by working, but this summer we’ve been really inconsistent about having our weekly paydays for the kids. She and I discussed starting that up again. I told her that we need her to remind us. This weekly time with the kids is a good chance to teach them about finances.

No matter how off track we get, we can always refocus and make routines that fit in our goals. Savings tools can help reach your goals. It feels so good when you accomplish those goals.

Work through the pain

There is some pain that comes with changing and working toward your goals. When my four year old complains about her legs hurting while we walk, I explain that it is a good hurt. Improving finances causes some discomfort, but it is a good kind of pain. Even though it isn’t easy, it feels so good to have a financial plan and to follow it.

I hope these help you get on track. If you have other suggestions that have helped you, please share in the comments.

Page 1 of 4
×
Have a minute?  Take our quick member survey