Do You Believe These Money Myths?

There are a lot of different things you’ll read when it comes to your money.  The personal finance world has lots of people with many opinions.  I’m one of them!  But with so much out there, it can often get confusing.  What do you believe?  What’s true and what’s a suggestion?  I don’t have all the answers.  But there are a few money myths that I’ve seen come up more than a few times.

#1: Always Pay The Higher Interest Loan First

The higher the interest rate means that less of your payment goes to your principal.  This is true.  So, you should always pay the highest interest loan first, right?

Not always.

I think you have some flexibility here.  If you have a loan with a low balance, maybe consider paying that off first.  It will free up some cash flow.  Plus, paying off a loan will give you a ‘win’ on your scorecard.  Those can be very important and might be worth a few bucks in higher interest in the short term.

#2: It’s Too Late To Start Saving

Many people start saving for retirement or their first home right out of the gate.  If you’re one of those people, then congrats.  But if you’re not, don’t worry.

It’s never too late to start saving.  I don’t care how old you are.  Many people who give this answer are just making excuses to continue bad habits.

I don’t care if you have friends that are your age who are already retiring and you haven’t saved a buck.  You should and you can start making a difference.

#3: You Have To Choose Between Paying Off Debt Or Saving Money

I’ve read at least a thousand pieces over the years on this topic.  Which is better if you have extra money?  Paying off debt?  Or saving/investing?

I’ve never understood why people think it has to be either or.  It doesn’t.

If the answer isn’t clear or you don’t have motivation toward one, why choose?  Try a mix of both.  Either one is going to help you in the long run.  And, you might find that one excites you more than the other.  If that happens, then you can make adjustments.

#4: Having An Emergency Fund Is Good Enough

OK, so you saved $1,000 for an emergency fund.  You’re covered, right?  Wrong.

The fact is that even if you’ve built yourself a cushion, there is still work to do.  What if you have an emergency greater than $1,000?  How will you restore your fund if an actual emergency depletes your fund?  What if someone comes to you with an emergency of their own?

Be prepared.  Think ahead.

#5: Following Someone Else’s Budget Is Your Ticket To Success

A budget that works for someone else may not work for you.  Everybody has different circumstances and different needs.

Also, many people are at different stages of how they can handle a budget.  Someone who’s never used a budget should start simple. If they tried to use the budget template of someone that’s had one for twenty years, it probably won’t work.

Budgets come in all shapes and sizes.  There is no one size fits all.

#6: Focus On Cutting Spending To Save Money

This isn’t bad advice.  It’s actually really good advice.  However, it may not always be the best advice.

After all, the advice here only focuses on one side of the equation.  Spending.  This is great, but there’s also opportunity that comes by making more money.

Consider that we all have limited time in our lives in which we can focus on saving money.  If your time allows you to cut $1,000 per month in expenses, that’s great.  But what if you focused that time on earning more money instead?  If you could earn $2,000 per month with the same effort, then focusing on cutting expenses could actually be costing you $1,000 per month.

#7: The Stock Market Is Always Going To Go Up

It may seem like this is true given that it pretty much has for the last ten years.  But it doesn’t.  And it won’t.  Don’t believe people on CNBC that tell you that ‘this time it’s different’.  And that the market can go up forever.

It’s not and it won’t.

Everybody needs to keep an eye on the market and recognize that it’s not a one way only road.  The experts that tell you that it can only go up probably have a plan in place.  And when the market starts going down, they’ll have executed their plan before they go back on the air and talk about the downturn.  Trust me on this.

The fact is, they don’t care about your money.  They care about theirs.  Don’t get the two confused.

Readers, what advice have you heard that may need some corrections or clarifications?  What do you think about the items I mentioned?  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  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.

10 Easy Things I Do To Save Money

Saving money is a big deal.  Many people don’t know where to start.  It doesn’t have to be hard.  In fact, when it comes to saving money, think small.  A small saving is easy to do.  And many small savings add up to BIG savings.

Here are some quick and easy things I do to save.  Hopefully some of these work for you.

Call The Cable Company

Every year or so our bill jumps up.  Every year or so I call them and ask them to lower our bill.  Guess what?  It works.  We save at least $40 compared to regular pricing.

Make My Own Coffee

I brew my own coffee every day. Even at work, I bring my own ground coffee.  I indulge in buying Half & Half.  All told, it costs a fraction of what I’d spend at Starbucks.

Use Reward Credit Cards

I barely swipe our debit card anymore.  Now, I use a credit card whenever possible.  Why?  Because all of our cards generate rewards.  We have one airline card and three cash cards.  Since we pay off the balance every month, it’s just free flights and money.  You can’t really beat that, can you?

Watch My Mileage

Often when driving around, I’ll switch my dash display to show my mileage.  Why?  Because when I watch how I’m driving, I drive better.  With gas prices back up again, every less bit of fuel used is a savings.  Why burn money that you don’t have to?

Avoid Vending Machines

I stopped buying things out of the vending machines a couple of years ago.  Now I refuse to.  Not only is what’s in there generally bad for you, it’s always overpriced.

Stack Savings

We stock up on some items at the grocery store.  The trick is to buy things you’ll use.  Also, make sure that they won’t go bad before you use them.  If you have items on that, look for coupons and use them when the item is on sale.  It’s savings on top of savings!

Order Water

Sometimes at a restaurant I’ll get a cocktail or a glass of wine, but otherwise it’s straight water.  I don’t order soft drinks or lemonade.  If you do this, though, make sure you tip as if you did buy something.  After all, the waitperson had to keep your water filled.  Even so, you save money.

Photo by EthanN77 courtesy of MorgueFile.

Borrow Books From The Library

I read over 50 fiction novels a year.  But, I can’t tell you the last time I bought one.  Instead, I do most of my reading through the library. This is a huge money saver.

Take A Break On Impulse Purchases

If you come across a great deal but you didn’t plan it, consider waiting.  Just give it a day and see if it’s still something you want.  Often times, I will take a day or two, and often times what I thought about purchasing is no longer important.

Buy Generic

Brand names are what you think of for most items.  But that only means you see more advertising.  It doesn’t mean it’s a better product.  Take a chance on generic or off brand items. In many cases, they’re the same or better quality.  And if they aren’t, well then it’s OK to go back to the brand name.

Readers, what are some ways you look to save money?  Are there any simple and easy tricks?  Let me know your secrets in the comments below.  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.

6 Easy Tips for Saving Money This Summer

It can be easy to overspend during the summer. From increased energy bills (you have to crank that air conditioner during those hot days) to vacation costs, spending seems to snowball during the hottest season of the year. Instead of leaving the summer with far less in your bank account, find ways to ease the strain on your wallet—while still having a great vacation season. Keep these simple strategies in mind and ensure your finances don’t get hit by the summer spending trend.

  1. Turn Down Your Hot Water Heater

Many homeowners turn up their hot water heater during the winter months to keep their showers warm. However, they forget to turn back the settings in the summer months (when all most of us want is a cold shower). The Department of Energy recommends having any tank-based hot water heater set to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Do a double check and find out where your temperature gauge is sitting to ensure you’re not wasting energy and money on heating water you’re not using.

  1. Automatic Savings

If you’re not the best at self-discipline, it’s a good idea to bolster your savings account automatically. Instead of manually setting aside a chunk of your paycheck each month, have your bank account set up to do it for you. Most banks offer automatic transfer; simply set it up and you never have to worry about it.

  1. Plan a Staycation

Summer is the season for vacations, but sometimes, planning that trip to a beachside oasis is too costly. Week-long vacations can easily cost upwards of several thousand dollars, and for tight budgets, it’s just not feasible. That doesn’t mean you can’t capture the vibes of rest and relaxation. Plan a staycation and get away from it all. Book a hotel room in your city through hoteltonight.com for an amazing discount, or go camping in your backyard to get back to nature. It’s important to set some ground rules for your staycation. If you’re at home, it’s easy to let the normal tasks and stressors affect you. Make a commitment to abstain from chores, and turn off your phones and tablets.

  1. Invest in a Home Energy Audit

If you’ve got an older home and haven’t made any energy efficient upgrades since purchasing, it’s likely that your house is wasting a great deal of energy and water—which means excess costs. Understanding how much energy you’re wasting and learning ways to cut down on this waste can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars each year. Book an appointment with an energy professional; they’ll come in and audit your home’s energy use, uncovering hidden energy leaks and providing you with invaluable advice on how to fix it. Most audits find small issues that are easy to repair on your own, while others find major problems that could become disastrous if left untreated. Making the investment in a home energy audit is more than worth the money you’ll save—especially during the summer months when your air conditioner is likely to be on full blast.

  1. Grow Your Own Produce

Summer is the time for fresh fruit and vegetables, and nothing’s more satisfying than a light, crisp salad on a hot day. Instead of throwing money away for overpriced produce at your local supermarket, plant a garden and begin growing your own produce. Start small with easy to grow herbs and vegetables and move onto more difficult plantings as you get the hang of your gardening.

  1. Pay Off Lingering Debt

We’ve just left tax season in the dust, but for those who still the IRS, the struggle continues. If you’re in tax debt, one of the most important things you can do for your family and wallet this summer is focus your spending on paying off these bills. Forgo the summer vacations and costly meals out and focus on getting your debt paid off. Using a company like Community Tax to negotiate payment plans and installment agreements with the government makes it easier to begin breaking down your debt. This effort now will pay off in the long run.

Saving money this summer isn’t as difficult as you might think. Keep these tips and strategies in mind and bolster your savings this season.

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.

10 Short Term Money Goals That Are Easy

We all know we can do a better job at saving money, right?  I know I do!  Sometimes figuring out where to start is a bigger obstacle than actually making the changes.  If you can relate to that, then this post is for you.  Here are ten short term money goals, things that you can do today and without much trouble, that can really help you out.

Review Your Insurance Policies

Most people could save money on insurance.  You can often adjust your deductibles to lower your payment.  I also recommend shopping your policies around.  If you have more than one type of policy, you can often get a multiple policy discount by using one carrier.  Either way, checking your insurance is something that can probably save you money.  The great thing is that you can do this with just a few phone calls or website visits.

Create A Savings Fund

If there’s something that you have always wanted but don’t have the money for, that can change!  Create a savings bucket and start putting some money aside.  Whether it’s a bigger TV, a new car, or a family vacation, you can start saving for it today.

Calculate Your Debt To The Penny

Most people know the benefit of getting out of debt, or even reducing it.  This is all fine and good, but I wonder how many people know exactly how much debt they have.  Now is the time to figure it out.   Look at everything you owe and add it together.  It might sound like a frightening idea, but knowledge is power.  Once you know your debt amount, it won’t be holding itself over your head.  Now you can start thinking about ways to pay it down!

Create A Christmas Fund

This sounds an awful lot like the savings fund idea, but it’s really a specific one.  If just thinking about paying bills in January stresses you out, then this one is for you.  Stick a little bit aside every month and you can have a good chunk (or all) of the money ready when the bills come due.  I’ve used this strategy for years and it makes the holidays much less stressful.

Look At Your Cell Phone Bill

If you have a cell phone, and who doesn’t, then take a look at the bill.  You might be able to save some money.  These days the plans and offerings change so fast, that you might be able to make some changes and save some money.

Bump Your Retirement By 1%

Most people won’t notice if their paycheck declines by 1% but it can make a serious difference in your savings.  Go in and add 1% to your deductions today.  Bonus tip: Every time you get a raise, bump it by another 1% each time.

Sell Some Junk

It might be junk to you but you might have stuff sitting around that someone else will pay for.  You get money and space.  It really can’t get much better than that!

Track Your Net Worth

This is another one that goes into the ‘knowledge is power’.  Track your net worth, which is simply to add together all of your assets, then subtract out your debt.  Once you’ve figured it out, then re-calculate it every month.  This will start letting you see how your financial story is changing over time.  The thing is you have to start doing it, so do so today.

Check Your Credit Reports

You get a free check of each of your three credit reports every year.  I go in roughly every four months and run a check of my credit report. This is easy.  It only takes a few minutes.  You want to make sure that everything is accurate, and you can use this to identify things that you could do, like close a dormant credit card account.

Think Of Something That You Can Live Without

Indulgences are fine, but chances are there is at least one that you can get rid of and find that you’re perfectly OK with.  If you have premium channels on your cable package, could you drop this? Could you make your own coffee instead of stopping at the coffee shop?  Do you really need that pair of fancy shoes?  When you spend less money, it adds up to money in your pocket.

Readers, what are some easy ideas that you have to meet short term money goals?  Let me know your ideas and what’s worked for you in the comments.  Thanks so much 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.