Personal Finance Finesse: Leveraging the Third Paycheck Theory

There are pros and cons attached to getting paid bi-weekly, when twice a year you receive a third paycheck.  Most people budget on a monthly basis, accounting for two paychecks.  When this third paycheck comes around, it’s often money with no budget category!

It’s always a good feeling to get more money in the bank in some months when that magical third paycheck gets to happen.  But the wise will make the most of that sudden windfall scenario.

Here are some pointers on how to take the best advantage of that extra cash to improve your financial position.  This will include a quick explanation of how you end up with more money in certain months.  You’ll also get  some tips on how to get the maximum benefit from the boost to your finances.

Do the math

So how do you get that third paycheck?  Well, for bi-weekly payments it’s a pretty easy calculation.  There are twelve months to a year, right?  Most months see you getting two paychecks.  That works out to 24 paychecks we budget for.  Still with me?  But there are 52 weeks per year, meaning that you actually get 26 paychecks.  That’s two extra!

The obvious thing to do when working out your pay dates would be to say that you are paid every two weeks on a Friday.  So you get two paychecks per month, except for those months when the stars align and you wind up with three.

Making the most of the situation

If you sometimes find yourself stretched and need a short-term loan to see you through, you can view more from King of Kash on that score.  A good strategy to also consider would be to work out when those two magic months are coming and put aside the extra cash into an emergency fund.

If you only get a third paycheck a couple of months a year you definitely have to take advantage of the situation.  Put that extra cash to good use rather than being tempted to go and blow some of it on extra treats.

Saving your extra money like this is a really neat budgeting trick that is as painless as it is sensible.  Once you have your finances sorted and are used to being paid bi-weekly, you should be able to put aside that third paycheck when it comes.  Over time, you’ll build a nice cushion.

Pay down debt

Another good way of making the most of your opportunity would be to use the extra paycheck to pay off some debt.

Image from Morguefile courtesy of xenia

You can use this to pay down a credit card whose balance never seems to budget.  Or, wipe out a small loan payment that has a high interest rate.  If you pay something off completely, you’ll have the extra advantage of more cash flow flexibility.

It might not feel like a major step when you pay a chunk off your credit card balance but the net effect is a good one as you are reducing your debt profile and saving some interest charges at the same time.

Put it towards retirement

The plain truth is that you can never have enough money in your retirement fund. So, putting your extra pay toward retirement savings is a very sensible strategy.

The general suggestion is that you need to save at least 10% of your income towards retirement.  In reality, you could use more in order to have a comfortable retirement.  This is even more important if you waited to start saving until your thirties (or later).

Reduce your monthly payments

If you pay your auto insurance and other insurance payments monthly rather than annually that can add up to a fair amount each month out of your bi-weekly wages.

You might want to consider using the third paycheck to pay an insurance policy in full.

This will free up more cash on a monthly basis when you take one or two annual financial commitments out of your monthly budgeting schedule by paying the amount due in one hit.

Take a break

If you don’t like the sound of using your third paycheck to improve your debt, you could consider planning a vacation.  Before you sound the alarms, let’s face facts that everybody needs a break now and then.  If you’ve gone on four vacations in the last year, maybe this isn’t for you.  But, if you have avoided a trip away, a mind clearing time away could be just the ticket.

Besides, if you pay for the vacation, that means you won’t be borrowing or adding to your credit card debt.  At the very least, you won’t be falling behind.

The third paycheck is not just a theory but a mathematical reality for many.  Make the most of that extra cash when it comes along if you are paid bi-weekly.

Aimee Pope is a financial consultant. She likes to help people manage their money better by posting on various family and finance blogs.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

7 Things To Do To Your Gas Grill

Ah, summer.  It’s here or right around the corner.  If you’re like me, then pulling out the grill is an integral part of the summer season.  I’ve always been someone who prefers a gas grill.  If you fall into the same category, here are some tips to make sure you’re ready for grilling season.

Check  Your Hose And Connections

The hose that carries the gas to the grill needs to be checked every year.  The hoses can crack, the fittings could come loose or crack themselves.  It’s important to make sure that you don’t have a leak.  Inspect the hoses for cracks.  To test the connections, use soapy water.  Put the soapy water over the connections and turn on the gas.  If any bubbles form, you have a leak.  If this happens, you need to replace your supply lines.

Inspect Your Grill Box

The grill box needs to be checked for any cracks.  If you find any, chances are it’s going to be time to replace the grill, or try to salvage a replacement box.

Vacuum Out Your Grill Box

Flakes of grilling sessions past will accumulate on the bottom of the box.  While many of these will burn off over time, it’s a good idea to clean the debris every so often.  A shop vac is a great tool for this task.

Check Your Gas Tubes

Our gas grill has three tubes inside that do the actual heating.  You want to make sure that these are working

Image from morguefile courtesy of ronnieb

properly.  One year, we had a spider build a nest inside one, and the line did not function properly.  If they need attention, refer to your instruction manual on how to disassemble the line for cleaning.

Clean Your Grates

We take off the grates and clean them.  This will remove grease and give it a fresh start to the season.  You can usually use a grill brush to keep them clear in between grilling sessions.  Depending on how often you grill, you may need to clean these monthly.

Check Your Gas Tanks

If you have a dedicated gas line, this may not apply to you.  But, we use propane and have 20-gallon tanks.  Check your supply at the beginning of the season.  We have two tanks, and try to keep one full at all times.  This ensures that you won’t run out of gas halfway through grilling up your favorite recipe.

Check Your Equipment

Grilling involves a lot more than the grill.  Make sure you have your full inventory of flippers, thermometers, brushes, basters and such at the ready.  Look them over and make sure they’re all ready to go.  The last thing you want to do is step away from your meat to have to find a needed accessory.

Nothing beats something fresh off the grill.  With a few minutes of easy work, you can make sure that you have a summer full of great grilling ahead.

Readers, have you used the grill yet?  What are your tips for a great grilling season?  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.  Happy grilling!

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

How Will I Stay Motivated After Losing Weight?

I’ve written a couple of times about how I have been working to get in better health this year.  So far things are going great, and I’ve now lost about 9.5 pounds total.  Things have definitely slowed down over the past couple of months.  I expected that, as this is typically the area where my body hits a wall.  But, I’m still happy with where things stand.  The issue now will be how to stay motivated after losing weight.

Summer Is A Downfall

I wrote earlier about how I stopped snacking at work at the beginning of the year.  That’s still held up.  I haven’t eaten one single thing that I haven’t brought in!  If you know my typical snacking habits, that is a big accomplishment.

But my other normal downfall is upon us:  Summer.  We do lots and lots of camping, and this tends to bring about a lot of poor nutritional choices, at least compared to the rest of the year.

  • Snacking.  There are always munchies and stuff around for camping.  It’s just the nature of things.  I’m always a sucker for a handful of potato chips or something.
  • Alcohol.  It’s vacation, usually at the beach or around a fire. These things make a nice cold drink or two a big temptation.
  • Lack of exercise.  Right now I’ve been trying to get some sort of exercise just about every day.  This involves a combination of running, walking, or lifting weights.  Last year, I tended to do very little of this while camping.

As you can see, these are all things that could definitely put at risk some of the gains I’ve made.

How To Combat The Dreaded Summer Weight Gain

So, I guess the question now is how do I fight this?  Here are some ideas I have:

  1. Hold myself accountable.  Last year, I knew I was gaining weight throughout the summer.  In typical denial, I basically avoided the scale.  This year, I’ll make sure to check in regularly no matter what.
  2. Carry a snack cup.  Instead of a handful of this or that, I’m thinking of getting my own little snack cup that I would have to use when snacking.  This would force me to go get it, force me to fill it, and hopefully put up a mental block if I fill it multiple times.
  3. Take some healthier options.  There’s between 4-8 of us on typical camping trips.  I can’t ask that people like be removed on my account. Nobody wants to be that person.  But, hopefully I can take some of my own stuff to mix in so that it’s not all junk food.
  4. Reduce alcohol and change mixers.  I don’t drink beer, but instead prefer mixed drinks.  Last year, my drink of choice was whiskey and Coke.  This year, I’ll probably switch to vodka and club soda.  Vodka has a few less calories than whiskey, and club soda is 0 calories, compared to a whole lot for Coke.  I’ll also mix them a little lighter.
  5. Exercise regularly.  I’ve gotten in such a routine of waking up and doing some exercise, that I’m hoping I just keep this up.  Right now, if I wake up and don’t exercise, I don’t feel right.  So, if I can tap into that when camping, it’ll keep me pushing along.

Crossing My Fingers For Success

This probably won’t be easy.  The work thing was actually easier because I went cold turkey.  But, I just can’t see myself going cold turkey on the fun things associated with camping.  I think starting off with an approach centered on moderation is my best bet.

The best laid plans, right?

Wish me luck.

Readers, how do you deal with temptations and other obstacles that can derail success you’ve made? Do you have any tips for me?  Please let me know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

7 Tips for a Perfect Open House for Your Rental

An open house is crucial for attracting new tenants.  This is a time to show off the rental you put so much time and money into.  If you want to entice high quality tenants, prepare your property using these seven tips for the perfect open house.

  1. Make it Spotless

Nothing turns off a potential tenant more than a dirty property.  Dirt and grime will cause prospective tenants to turn right around and walk out.  You may want to hire a cleaning service that can deep clean the entire space, from the walls to the floors and everything in between.  If you have carpet, make sure it looks fresh and free of stains.  If the exterior is dirty, consider using a pressure washer to clean all of the outside walls of your property.

  1. Make the Space Appear More Open

As a landlord you want renters to feel at home.  Tenants come to open houses in order to visualize their future living space.  Make the space more open to allow them to imagine their own furniture in the property to make it feel like they already live there.  The first step to creating a clear space is to store unnecessary knickknacks, decorations or furniture that make the home look too busy. Rearranging the furniture is another great way to make the space larger.  Seek the help of a friend with an artistic eye to help optimize the space of your property.

  1. Clear Property of Furniture

If you’re moving, feel free to clear your rental of any furniture.  After all, there’s no better way to open a space than to have nothing in it.  A clean and empty property is the ultimate blank slate.

  1. Paint Your Walls a Neutral Color

Bright pink walls may be your style, but when it comes to rentals, neutral colors are the way to go.  It will make the space feel breathable and open and will let in more light.  Need help choosing a color?  Consult a paint specialist at Home Depot to find the perfect shade for your property.  They will help you pick out several swatches that you can compare to your walls to add dimension and interest.  Whites, light beiges, and even shades of blue may help you will create a calm and relaxing environment.  This year, navy is a good neutral to create a beautiful accent wall or to complimentary fixtures, so ask your expert at Home Depot for some ideas.

  1. Let in More Light

More light will make your home inviting and cozy.  Open all blinds and make sure the windows are clean.  If your property doesn’t get much light, place lamps strategically throughout the space to make it look brighter.

  1. Increase Air Circulation

A stuffy property is a turnoff.  Open the windows to let in fresh air.  Encourage circulation by placing fans in strategic areas, such as in a room with a small window.  If you’re showing your property when the weather is hot, close your windows and turn on the AC.  Air conditioning will keep the home nice and cool and it’s worth the extra spending.

  1. Bake Cookies

This is a big real estate agent secret.  Before you open your property for the big day, bake some cookies a half an hour before.  Choose a basic scent everyone loves like vanilla, sugar, snickerdoodle or chocolate chip.  Avoid cookies like peanut butter because the peanut smell may cause allergic reactions.  The bonus is that your potential tenants get a cookie just to sweeten the deal.

The open house should be an enjoyable experience. Remember to vet potential tenants through a service like www.mysmartmove.com to get the best of the best. This is the opportune time to build a professional relationship with your future renters, so use these tips to get started today.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.