Earlier this year I replaced a dishwasher. That went well, but then three days later, I found I had water on the basement floor. In this case, Murphy’s Law meant there was need of a plumber to repair a leaky pipe. Just when you think everything is under control, something will happen.
Emergency saving is a constant work in progress.
One way to be ready for Murphy’s Law is to have an emergency savings fund. I had a friend that called it the “inevitable fund” – you don’t know exactly how the money will be used when you start saving, but you know it is inevitable that some need will arise.
One easy way to save is to collect your change weekly for the fund.
Another way is to Pay Yourself First – just like the bills you are paying, make an automatic “bill” to pay to a savings account from your checking account. You may want to have the savings account in a different bank – and watch it grow.
Things will happen, and your emergency saving will take a hit, so don’t stop saving! There will be another Murphy’s Law in your future.
Since this is Money Smart Week, there’s no better time to do a personal financial check-up! Extension specialists at Rutgers University (New Jersey) have developed a “Financial Fitness Quiz” to help you do exactly that. www.njaes.rutgers.edu/money/ffquiz/
It’s called a “quiz” but it’s not about how much you know. Instead it is a check-up of your financial status – your habits and the protections you have in place. It takes less than 10 minutes, and gives you a score in when you are finished. I encourage you to check it out!
Assessing where your finances are already strong, and what areas need improvement is the first step to improving your financial well-being!
P.S. At www.njaes.rutgers.edu/money/ Rutgers has posted a few other financial assessment tools, as well, if you want to look deeper into a certain aspect of your finances.
Credit, Goals, Insurance, Retirement, Saving, Spending plans
It may be divorce, retirement, job loss, care-giving responsibilities, marriage, chronic or acute illness, disability, or death - or something else. Such events can turn your life upside down, creating stress and dramatic changes in your routines. Even positive transitions (such as marriage or the birth of a child) create stress and demand change.
With all the stresses that you encounter, you need to make sound financial decisions, because these decisions will impact your financial health now and in the future.
Four steps to explore to be in control of your money are:
- Know what you have and know what you want. It is important to assess your situation’s needs and wants, and to take advantage of all available resources.
- Set up your spending plan. A spending plan is a tool for telling your money where to go. Plan your spending by categories, and write down your spending plan. To decide how much to plan for each category, you will need to look at your spending in the past. Some people can look at the past month, while others will need more than one month’s information to develop their spending plan. Review your spending for each pay period of the last month - the last 4 weeks,if you are paid weekly, or the last two paychecks if you are paid bi-weekly.
- Stay with your plan. Following your plan lets you get the results you want.
- To make your plan work for you, you will need to revise and improve it. It may take a couple of months to get the plan exactly like you want. Remember – you can change your plan. As your situation changes or your family’s needs and wants change, it is logical that your spending plan should change. Revisit your plan annually (or more often).
As your situation changes, the basic process stays the same: Know what you have and what you want; Make a plan; Follow the plan; Review and revise for the future.
Goals, Spending plans
Do you have a household inventory? I admit that I have never taken the time to create a record of the items in my home. The thought of all the details is what holds me back. I like to think that I’ll never need the document, but I can think of several friends who found themselves spending hours trying to record from memory everything that was lost in a home disaster.
Resolving to follow my own advice, I found a helpful article from eXtension.org; http://www.extension.org/pages/11274/household-inventory. It included a form template, some tips for what to record, where to store my copies, and how to keep the list updated. My insurance agent also provides resources. Photos and camera recordings would speed the process, especially if I utilize audio to talk about items being recorded.
The inventory will make it easier to reach a settlement in case of loss, I’ ll be certain to have adequate coverage, I can claim a financial loss if necessary, and I’ll have a tool to use for the transfer of family heirlooms. I think it’s time I got started! Joyce
Finding a job is easy…walk into any fast food restaurant or convenience store with a HELP WANTED sign in the window. Make a good first impression – look presentable and act professionally.
Once you have a paycheck coming in, then start looking for THE job. 80% of jobs are found through relationships. It is important to build relationships now and for the long term…NOT at the time of a job search. Good referrals will come from those who know you.
Your network is bigger than you think it is. It includes all of your family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, and even casual acquaintances. If you’re nervous about making contact keep the following things in mind:
- It feels good to help others and most people will willingly help you.
- People like to give advice and be recognized for their expertise.
- Almost everyone knows what it’s like to be looking for a job.
- Reconnecting with the people in your network should be fun—even if you have an agenda.
Finding the perfect job means you will need to treat the search like a job…be focused and persistent. Rather than one job, maybe you should consider multiple positions. Landing a new job may be easier if you aim for part-time work within several companies. You will benefit from multiple part-time positions that will pad your resume and your wallet.
Consider job sharing or taking over for someone on maternity leave or during the holiday crunch. This can allow you to improve your skills, impress a potential long-term employer and network with people in your chosen industry. Be willing to start at the bottom, earning less than you want, learning the job and working your way up honestly and diligently. Instead of nervously waiting for the right full-time career, you can potentially make something better happen in the short term. ~Brenda
Saving money is hard. There may be a few ways to help you fill your “Pot of Gold.”
I’m not a coffee drinker but I have many friends who are difficult to be around without their cup of Joe – instead of going to the brand name coffee concern, shop around and support local cafes for a less expensive version and save thirty cents per cup. That equates to $100 per year – or even more if you make the coffee at home.
If you have filed your income taxes and you are receiving a tax refund – you may want to direct part of the refund towards your pot of gold. These are long-term goals – vacation and or college, house or retirement funds.
Saving when you receive a pay increase – the difference can go straight to savings.
Another way to fill your pot is by washing your hands – you will avoid virus and bacteria and need for medical treatment and medicine and lost work days. This equates to $4000 saved.
Drinking water is a healthy benefit by eliminating over-eating and skips the expensive beverages.
Apply the 30 Day Rule by waiting 30 days before you make a purchase. Ask yourself before making a decision whether to buy a gadget or not. This can save you money too.
Hopefully your pot of gold will grow. – Susan
Goals, Retirement, Saving
Now that we are in the month of March there are several things that come to mind, but the highlight for many is the upcoming holiday: St. Patrick’s Day.
St Pat’s day brings to mind some great slogans: “the Luck of the Irish” or the “Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow.” Both have money undertones.
We all occasionally see a penny on the ground. Do you know where the term “Lucky Penny” comes from?
The Irish will say, “Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck.” But, only pick this penny up if it is face up, as tails will lead to bad luck. Or if the penny is tails, you give the penny to a friend, to pass the luck to someone else.
In Ireland, there is a concept of luck money. Supposedly in the olden days, merchants would give a penny back to a customer as a way of wishing them good luck with their purchase.
Rumor also says that if a lucky penny is turned over in your hand three times on a new moon it will bring prosperity and luck.
It’s March 1 – exactly two months since some of us made enthusiastic new year’s resolutions. Or maybe some of us made some resolutions that were NOT very enthusiastic… perhaps based on some sense that we “should” improve some aspect of our lives.
Either way, the question now is: how are we doing – are we making progress? As you consider that question, give yourself credit for small improvements, even if you haven’t been perfect. (Who’s ever perfect anyway? I know better than to expect that from myself… I hope you do too!).
Maybe an even more important question to ask in a 60-day check-up is this one: do we WANT to keep working on that goal? Even if you originally set the goal because you “should,” ask yourself now: is this important to me? If the answer is “yes – it really is important to me,” then look at the past two months and ask yourself:
- In the times I did well, what made the difference?
- When I didn’t do so well, what might have been the reason?
Regardless of how well we’ve stuck to our good new years intentions, we can recommit at any time. If your goal is important, and you want to recommit, here are a couple of tips:
1) Make it easy or automatic. If the goal is to save more, set up an automatic transfer to savings. If the goal is to pay down your mortgage more quickly, set that up as an automatic payment.
2) Prevent or avoid tempting situations. If your goal is to spend less on extras, then by all means avoid recreational shopping trips to the mall or big box store.
There’s nothing magic about new year’s — any time is a good time to set a goal or recommit to an old goal. Spring is just around the corner — it’s a great time for new beginnings! ~Barb
One in four Iowa residents is living on the edge of financial disaster with almost no savings to fall back on in the event of a job loss, health crisis or other income-depleting emergency, according to a report released this week.
Why might this matter to you? The report points out that some people (12% of Iowans) are poor when it comes to income. But twice as many people are poor when it comes to assets.
Are you one of those who have enough income, but are not building enough savings? If you are, then I suggest you take a close look at your habits. Chances are that you could find some ways to save some money; even $20/month adds up over time, and many of us could save $50-$100 a month more if we really tried.
The Assets & Opportunity scorecard, released by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) reminds us how risky it is to be without savings.
You wouldn’t risk your income security by skipping work all the time, would you? Then why do you risk your asset security by not building savings? Tell me what you think. ~Barb
Find the full report at http://assetsandopportunity.org/scorecard/
I was thinking the other day about my life; how much of it was on autopilot. Was how I spent my time and money reflective of what was most important to me?
For the most part, I pay the same bills every month; eat the same food every week; wake and go to bed at the same time every day; spend and save the same amount of money each month. My life is comfortable so why would I want to change anything? Then I wondered… is what I do (without thinking), what is best for me?
When life is comfortable, it is easy to keep doing what you are doing without thinking about it. It is only when we get our back against a wall; really get uncomfortable that we begin to be creative and find ways to improve our life. If I thought about it (rather than be on autopilot) could I eat healthier, save more money, spend my time and money on what truly is most important to me?
Habits (ruts if they are bad habits) are hard to break free of. New habits can be even harder to establish. So, here is my plan – I will set goals and create a plan to succeed at creating new habits. I will:
- Make sure my new goals are specific and measurable. Goals should state what needs to happen and by what date. Write them down and review them often.
- Set long-term and short-term goals. Reaching certain goals takes a long time. To stay motivated, be sure to set realistic short-term goals that will lead to your final goal.
- Develop a plan for each goal. Brainstorm strategies or steps to move closer to the goal.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. ~Albert Einstein.
So, how insane are you where your finances are concern? What new, better financial habits are you establishing to get better results? ~Brenda
Goals, Saving, Spending plans