25 Ways to Save Money

The Consumer Reports Magazine recently published a list of 25 simple ways to save money.  Some entail changing certain parts / appliances but the savings in the long run do justify the short term costs.  Here are some tips which I plan to implement soon:

  1. Clean the coils behind or underneath your refrigerator with a tapered appliance brush to keep it running efficiently.
  2. Put your PC to sleep :  use the hibernate feature on your computer.
  3. Plug electronics into a power strip so that you can turn them all off at once.  If available,  get a powerstrip with individual switches so that you can conserve power consumption.
  4. Keep car tires properly inflated. A slightly flat tire results in greater drag and lessens fuel efficiency.
  5. Weather-strip old windows and doors. It’s the surest way to close the gaps around openings, reducing heating and cooling costs by 15 to 30 percent.
  6. Install a high-efficiency showerhead. It will reduce hot water use by up to 50 percent.
  7. Upgrade to a low-flow toilet and save 4,000 gallons per year.
  8. Add insulation as this can cut cooling bills by at 10 percent,  particularly useful during the hot summer months.

=======================================
Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

Subscribe to my feed or subscribe via email to get notified of my next post.

Advertisements

Muddles should teach Middles

Today’s youtube surfing session yield a treasure of a clip which was written and produced for Word Alive International Outreach.  Parents would do well to share this with their toddlers.

Got a college-bound teen?  Share this:

Start them young on the path of financial literacy so that they don’t make the bad decisions which lead to debt snowballs.

=======================================
Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

Subscribe to my feed or subscribe via email to get notified of my next post.

Free Debt Snowball worksheet from Vertex

Buffeted at all sides by credit card bills?  Feel that you can’t get out of debtors hell? Start ploughing your way out via the free debt snowball calculator from Vertex 24. 

From the description:
This spreadsheet allows you to choose different debt reduction strategies, including the debt snowball effect (paying the lowest balance first) and highest interest first. Just choose the strategy from a dropdown box after you enter your creditor information into the worksheet…. also includes debt reduction information and resources, as well as descriptions of the different strategies you might want to try out with the worksheet.

Whether you subscribe to Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball or the “high interest first method”, the spreadsheet will do all the math for you. Brilliant! 

Did I already mention that it’s FREE?  =)

=======================================
Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

Subscribe to my feed or subscribe via email to get notified of my next post.

Money Make-Over: Personal Finance 101

Financial literacy is, unfortunately, something which is not taught in most schools. How many of us have graduated from high school or college without knowing how to make a budget, balance a checkbook or plan for retirement?

Before you sign the back of that pre-approved credit card or sign the dotted line of that insurance policy, learn the basics of personal finance. Attend PERSONAL FINANCE 101 featuring lifestyle trainer Chinkee Tan and Personal Finance Coach & Educator J. Randell Tiongson.

The sessions cost P150 but you can attend for free if you register directly through randellt@gmail.com, uylawrence@mac.com, or visionchinkee@gmail.com.

Chinkee Tan is the best-selling author of Till Debt to Us Part & a Lifestyle Trainer. He is one of the most sought after speakers in the country todayand have helped thousands of individuals to put their lives in order. Chinkee’s no-nonsense and practical approach in personal finances has made him a favorite speaker and trainer in the country today.

J. Randell Tiongson is a Personal Finance Coach and Educator and writes a bi-monthly column at the Business Mirror and a contributor for Moneysense Magazine. He is also a Training specialist and the co-founder of http://www.income-tacts.com, the country’s premiere personal finance on-line forum. He has been in the financial services industry for over 2 decades and has been featured in numerous seminars, television shows and conferences. He is a Director for the Registered Financial Planning Institute and the President and COO of Personal Finance Advisers Philippines Corp.

=======================================
Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

Subscribe to my feed or subscribe via email to get notified of my next post.

Be diligent in recording expenses

Ok, so we had a budget which we felt we could live with.  The problem was recording our daily expenses.  We tried excel files,  notes in cellphones/pdas etc… all to no avail.   Matching credit card slips with our statements was ok.  Recording the day to day casb expenses was another story.  Such a pain!!!!!! 

This year,  we’ll try a different tactic.  We’ve printed out calendar sheets from outlook and as soon as we get home,  take 10-15 minutes to write our expenses — from toll to food to cab fare.  On weekends,  we take 20 mins max to record the expenses against the budget.  A bit more convoluted but it seems to be working.  =)    I realized that my discretionary expenses shot through the roof in dec not because of gift purchases but because of Starbucks runs made in pursuit of the planner.  Humph.

=======================================
Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

Subscribe to my feed or subscribe via email to get notified of my next post.

Sample Budget

I was inspired by the MBN Group Writing Project to share a sample family budget spreadsheet.  We use ours to map out and track our projected expenses (including big ticket items such as yearly tuition payments) for the next 2 years so that we can adjust our savings in anticipation.  Note that budgets vary from family to family so please feel free to tweak it to suit your own needs.  This will address the question “Where Did It All Go?” and help keep you on course. 

Download:  Sample Budget Planner.  The link will expire in 7 Days and will be available for 100 number of downloads.

The very first worksheet is the TOTAL Budget and is divided 4 Sections. 
1.  Income Contribution (Rows 4-7)
This assumes that each partner will be contributing a set amount per month for the common fund.  Enter the agreed amounts in columns F – AD (include one-off additions such as 13th month pay and bonuses which go to the family pool).   Row 7 are for the other sources of income eg. rental etc. 

2.  Regular Bills / Fixed expenses (Rows 11-19)
This includes all regular bills including needs and wants.  This includes loan payments,  insurance, and savings.  Note:  Pay yourself first. Enter the figures in columns F-AD.

3.  Budgeted Items / Variable Expenses (Rows 24-33)
These are the items which could vary month on month e.g. electricity, cellphone bills.  Note the Gifts and Travel rows.  I’m providing a budget for Bday/Xmas gifts and budget travel. The figures in columns F-AD are automatically picked up from the MONTHLY SHEETS.  I included a Discretionary Budget  for pampering e.g. dinners, clothes.   Note:  Unlike the previous items, inputs for variable expenses should be placed in the Monthly Sheets.

4.  Totals (Column B-D)
These columns summarize the incoming and outgoing funds for 1-2 years.  The remaining funds (Row 41) should be zero / positive.  If it is negative, then consider adding income or minimizing expenses.

MONTHLY SHEETS
For yearly budgeting purposes,  place a figure in the cells highlighted yellow.  This is the average/expected expense for the month.  You can then gradually replace these with the actual figures as they occur.    The totals (Row 19) are auto-linked to the Total Budget Worksheet. 

Keep the spreadsheet tidy by “hiding” columns and sheets for the coming months in Excel. (Under the “Format” menu, select “Column -> Hide” or “Sheet -> Hide”.)

Make it a habit to review and update this spreadsheet regularly.  =) 

=======================================
Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

Subscribe to my feed or subscribe via email to get notified of my next post.

A new trend: Pay as You Go

Here’s a front page story from today’s New York Times:

Economy Fitful, Americans Start to Pay as They Go

“For more than half a century, Americans have proved staggeringly resourceful at finding new ways to spend money.

In the 1950s and ’60s, as credit cards grew in popularity, many began dining out when the mood struck or buying new television sets on the installment plan rather than waiting for payday. By the 1980s, millions of Americans were entrusting their savings to the booming stock market, using the winnings to spend in excess of their income. Millions more exuberantly borrowed against the value of their homes.

But now the freewheeling days of credit and risk may have run their course – at least for a while and perhaps much longer – as a period of involuntary thrift unfolds in many households. With the number of jobs shrinking, housing prices falling and debt levels swelling, the same nation that pioneered the no-money-down mortgage suddenly confronts an unfamiliar imperative: more Americans must live within their means.

“We don’t use our credit cards anymore,” said Lisa Merhaut, a professional at a telecommunications company who lives in Leesburg, Va., and whose family last year ran up credit card debt it could not handle.

Today, Ms. Merhaut, 44, manages her money the way her father did. Despite a household income reaching six figures, she uses cash for every purchase. “What we have is what we have,” Ms. Merhaut said. “We have to rely on the money that we’re bringing in.”

The shift under way feels to some analysts like a cultural inflection point, one with huge implications for an economy driven overwhelmingly by consumer spending.

Credit counselors are now swamped by calls not just from people of modest means, but from professionals earning six-figure incomes, their access to finance warping their distinction between necessity and desire.

“The longer someone has lived on a high income, the harder it is for someone to cut back,” said Manuel Navarro of Money Management International in San Diego. “I ask them, ‘Do you really need to have a 60-inch flat-screen TV hanging on your wall?’ ”

Substitute Americans with Filipinos and you have a picture of what’s happening to so many of us now. We are a consumption-driven society, where appearance and perception is often mistaken for reality.   Come on and admit it…   are credit card companies are making a fortune out to you?  🙂   

I’m still putting together my financial resolutions for 2008.  One of them is to Pay in Cash, or As Good as Cash (don’t wait for the bill — pay credit cards online on a weekly basis).

=======================================
Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

Subscribe to my feed or subscribe via email to get notified of my next post.