9 Money Goals Everyone Should Have

Rich or poor, working or retired, blue collar or white collar.  None of those things or any other will get around the simple fact that money is important.  As such, there are certain things that everybody should do with their money.  These don’t mean that everybody should approach money the same way.  It just means that in some fashion, each of the below items should be on everyone’s list of money goals.

Have A Rewarding Career

Don’t hate your job.  It’s just not worth it. You don’t have to love every minute of the day that you’re at work.  That’s just not reasonable.

But you should enjoy what you do.  You should feel that you’re making a difference.

Make Your Job About More Than Money

Money is great, but it’s not everything.  You want to have enough to pay the bills and enjoy life, but always look at the trade offs.  If you’re missing your kids grow up or losing your friends on account of your job, reconsider your priorities.

Money is a means to an end.  Treat your career accordingly.

Have A Fallback Plan For Your Income

Your job may seem like the most secure thing in the world.  It might not be tomorrow.  You might love your job more than anything.  That could change in an instant.

Always have an idea of what you could do next.

For some this could be another position or a contract job.  For others, maybe you have a side hustle that you could do full time.

Whatever the case, be prepared.

Save Money

Whether you’re just starting off and on an entry level salary or you’re rolling in it, save money.  It’s important.  Even if you’re paying off debt, save money.  It’s a cushion to fall back on that everybody needs.

Budget And Track Your Money

Do you know where your money goes? Do you know where you want it to go?  You should be able to say yes to both of these questions.

Now, you might not want to track down to the level of every dollar.  Or maybe you do.  Whatever your style is, you need to do both of these things for money success.

Understand Your Investments

If you invest on your own or through a 401(k), it’s important to know what you’re investments entail.  Even if you have an adviser, you need to know where they’re putting your money.

This won’t guarantee you will never lose money, but chances are, if you understand where your money is, you’ll end up with more of it than someone who doesn’t.

Be Well Insured

If you drive, you need auto insurance.  A homeowner? You need insurance on your property.  What if you rent?  You need insurance on your property.  If you have family that counts on your income, life insurance is key.

Understand the different types of insurance and know what you need.  Make sure it’s current.  Your needs today might be different than tomorrow.

Look over your policies and your needs at least once a year.  As part of that, bid out your insurance to see if you can find a better price.  This is one area that changes often.

Know Your Credit Like You Know Your Family

Your credit is the basis for almost anything you do with money.  You can’t get loans without good credit. You can’t pay your bills if you have too much credit.  Some employers won’t hire you if you have bad credit.

The bottom line is that you need to know your credit.  Know what you owe.   Know your score and what it means.  Keep track of such things regularly.

It’s one of the most important things you can do for your money.

Have Vision

What’s the use of money if you don’t have a plan for what to do with it?  Of course you have your needs today that must be accounted for.  But also know what it’s there for long term.  Plan.  Have a vision for what your money will be doing for you down the road.

These are some items I think are of utmost important for anybody that thinks money is important.  That’s you, right?

Readers, what do you think of this list?  What are some of your personal money goals that might not be on this list?  

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 We Level Out Monthly Expenses

Bills you pay every month require budgeting and tracking.  However, some bills flucuate in costs or even frequency.  We’ve developed a system where I allocate and track these expenses.  It works because we use a spreadsheet.  But, it comes in handy because we never miss a bill. Nor do we come up short on paying recurring expenses.  Here’s how we level out monthly expenses.

Types of Expenses

First, it’s helpful to determine what the expenses are that we level out.  Some of the obvious ones include:

  • Utility Bills
  • Insurance Premiums
  • License Tab Renewals
  • Auto Club Membership Fees
  • Charitable Donations

Over time I’ve identified some others that we also track and save for monthly.  These include:

  • Netflix
  • Other subscriptions (e.g. Amazon Prime membership)
  • Christmas gift fund
  • Camper storage fees
  • I even allocate for my costs in playing fantasy sports!

I am usually pretty on the mark when it comes to projecting the expenses that fall into this category.  What I have to do is allocate them out to cover costs for a year, even when costs are uneven.  Let me explain.  Many of the expenses above are monthly and around the same cost, but some are not. This is because of seasonal changes (higher electric bills in the summer, higher gas bills in the winter) or billing cycles for bills that aren’t monthly (the water bill every two months, the garbage bill every three).

Paying as you go would mean that some months you’d have money left over where other months you’d come up short.  The months you come up short can be a problem for many.  So, by averaging all of the costs for each category and then budgeting accordingly, we are always fully funded.

Utility Leveling Re-Imagined

The gas and electric companies already offer this service.  Both companies will allow you to pay a flat amount based on their estimates.  If you come up short, you do owe the difference.  If you overpay, they’ll lower your estimates.  This works for many people, and it’s sort of what we’re doing.  The benefit is that we keep our money!

One thing that you may ask is how this works when we come up short.  Say we budget $1,200 annually for electric bills, but our costs are $1,350. This means we ‘owe’ that fund $150 at some point through the year.  The way I work handle this is by keeping a ‘cap’ for some of the fluctuating categories.  So, for example, I have a $500 ‘cap’ on the gas bill.  Once we have $500 allocated toward gas, I know that anything further would be over funding the account.  If that happens, I’ll simply take the extra allocation and distribute it toward funds that are under allocated or that could use a boost.

It sounds kind of complicated, but it works well.  Of course I have been doing it this way for many years, and the system works pretty well.

Readers, how do you level out monthly expenses?  Do you create ‘sub-accounts’ off your main checking or savings?  

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.

The One Way Our Christmas Budget Fails

We have most areas of our Christmas budget down to a science.  Saving is pretty easy.  We estimate our spending, divide by twelve, and set aside an equal amount each month.  That works out great.  Sticking to the budget works, for the most part.  But there is one area that we still can’t get right.  Tracking our spending is the one area where the Christmas budget fails.

I Can Track Just About Anything

Every year, when Christmas shopping starts, I start off filled with hope. For what, you ask?  Well, hope that I can finally get the tracking down to a science.

This should be pretty reasonable, after all, considering I have a pretty solid tracking system.  I have a spreadsheet where I track all spending.  Want to know how much we paid for electrical service in 2011? I can find that out.  Curious about what our new roof cost back in 2013?  I can track it to the penny.

But what did we spend for Christmas last year?  Well…..that all depends.

Why The Christmas Budget Fails

See, tracking Christmas spending is just a failure.  It starts off good, but usually by 10am on Black Friday, it’s done. Why?

  1. Multiple People on the same bill – We budget our spending by person that we have to shop for.  This sounds easy but when we have multiple people show up on the same shopping trip, it’s difficult.
  2. Shopping within the household – You’d think that we could just go line by line and break things up.  In theory, this works.  But, in practice it doesn’t.  If my wife buys something for me on any other bill, I can’t see it.  In fact, she puts those purchases on a credit card that I’m not allowed to track.  Therefore, I can’t even match an actual charge to the budget.
  3. Returns – My wife loves to buy that perfect gift for someone.  And, then she finds something even more perfect.  So the original perfect item goes back.  Of course, when she returns the item at the store, she’ll sometimes buy something else for someone else.  Confused yet?  Yeah, me too!
  4. Non holiday spending – Unfortunately, we don’t just buy Christmas gifts every time we go out.  If we buy a gift for someone at Target, chances are good that we also bought something we need for someone in our family.  It’s not like we can just add up the receipt totals.  Nope, that’d be too easy!
  5. Amazon Purchases – We buy stuff from Amazon all the time.  This includes holiday gifts.  So, not only to do we sometimes have gift and non-gift purchases on the same order, sometimes we’ll have a bunch of orders that are charged that have nothing to do with Christmas.  And, since they bill as they ship, it’s not as easy as just checking against your orders list.

What We Do

In the end, I try.  Every year, I try for a couple of days.  Honestly, though, usually by Cyber Monday I’m done.  By then, things are already off the rails.  I try my best try.  But, in the end, here’s how it works:

  • Estimate – We keep running estimates of what we spent on each person
  • Total It Up – We total up these estimates, and track them against our credit card statements.
  • Give It The Sniff Test – If our credit card totals and our estimates line up within reason, we call it good.
  • Pay the bill – We apply the Christmas Budget savings toward the credit card bill.
  • Call it done!

In the end, this isn’t the best system.  But it is what we have come up with, and it works.  We always feel we’ve spent within our budget.  It’s just that we can’t exactly say how we did it.

I suppose that if we tried hard enough, we could get to the bottom of it and get that detail.  But, I’m just not sure it’s worth it to be truthful.  I’d say we’re probably 90% accurate, which I would have to chalk up as good enough.  As maddening as it can be the moment I ‘give up’ tracking, it ends up being OK.

And, honestly, having the money available is what gives us the luxury to be a little bit lax and feel OK with it.  Another reason I’m glad we save money throughout the year for Christmas.

Readers, how do you track your spending?  Do you track to the penny?  If so, how do you do it?

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.

Bigger Home Costs Are Higher Than You Think

Bigger is always better, right?  People seem to think so especially when it comes to homes.  How many of us were raised by our parents in homes that we’d now consider much too small?  What people today consider starter homes, many lived their lives in.

There can be many costs involved with a bigger home.  The most obvious one is that they cost more.  A bigger home comes with a bigger price tag.  That makes sense.

Some people say this is worth it.  They look at the 500 extra square feet.  They see that it costs them $40,000 more.  Then, if they can afford the payments, away they go!

But, there are a bunch of other costs that come in that many don’t think of.  If you think that the only cost of a bigger house is the price, think again.  Here are a few things to consider.

Higher Taxes

If you pay property taxes, then you’ll pay more in taxes.  These costs will add up over the years.  For most, you’ll be getting the exact same services as those with lower payments.

Upkeep and Repairs

Eventually things wear out in homes.  A bigger house probably has a bigger roof.  There are probably more windows.  There is much more carpet.  More walls and ceilings to paint.  All of these things will cost you more over time to replace versus in a smaller home.

Furniture

With a bigger house comes more space.  With more space comes more furniture.  All the extra furniture costs more.  And as your styles change, your replacement costs will be more down the line as well.

Utilities

A bigger house means more space to heat and cool.  This will mean higher bills to pay every month.

Opportunity Costs

Every dollar you spend on your home is a dollar you don’t have to spend somewhere else.  Keep this in mind.  You might be sacrificing an investment opportunity.  Or an annual vacation.  Whatever the case may be, realize that you’ll likely be sacrificing something for your bigger home.

More Space To Fill

Have you ever noticed that when you have more space you fill it?  I remember my first apartment.  My roommate and I each had a bedroom closet and split one storage closet.  That was it.  And we made it work.  Now, I often wander through our house, with stuff in every room.  In the basement.  In the garage.  And I wonder how did I ever make it work in that little apartment?  The fact is that a bigger house will create more space and that leads to more stuff.

All of the things above will cost you money, and they all come from a bigger house.  Now, a bigger house might be just fine for you.  If it is, great.  Just make sure that you plan not only for the purchase, but for the extra costs you’re sure to face.

Readers, have you ever added up the costs of a bigger house?  Did these ever keep you away from buying a bigger house? What costs did I miss?  Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

 

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.