Budgeting: The Ups and Downs and All Arounds

January 1st is over, so unfortunately it’s right back to reality. While the celebrating was fun and well deserved after a long year, it is back to basics at our house. What is most basic for us, and for that matter anyone else, is budgeting.

When budgeting, you have to deal with the annuals ups and downs the affect your income and expenses. Check out our budgetary changes for this coming year.

We hashed out our budget plan for 2017 in December, and we are set now to dig in and make this year a winner in what really is a war. Why do I say that? Just look at some of the stats and you’ll quickly see that for a huge number of us, our finances and economic wellbeing has suffered from a lack of personal income growth and increases in many of the basic costs of living. Continue reading

It’s Time for Your Year End Financial Review

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While we may all have holidays on our minds, the end of the year is rapidly approaching. That means you should probably make some plans for New Year’s, but we’re not quite done with 2016 yet! After all, you probably had some financial goals set in the beginning of the year, and it’s time to perform a year end review.  Not only is it important to track where you’ve been, but it will help set you up to start 2017 off right.

We're reaching the end of 2016, so it's time for the year end review of your finances. Not only does this hold you accountable, but it sets you up for 2017.

Your Year End Financial Review

Your year end review should cover all your money issues for the year. Here are some categories to help you get started. Continue reading

Report Card: Our Annual Expenses Year to Year

I have been pretty impressed over the past few years by the many people that post their financial information and performance against their budgets as a way for all of us to see exactly how their goals and budget plans are doing. It’s always challenging, but it’s a great way to learn by comparing how you are doing versus others. Since I have always been a very private person, when it comes to my own income and expenses, I haven’t made my numbers very public despite the questions I get asked each month about my own spending habits and results of my budgeting.  Today I’m breaking that silence to give you my annual expenses for the past 5 years, so alert the media!!

I think everyone's a little curious about how others manage their expenses. Here is our report card: how we spent our money for the past 5 years.

Where the Money Goes

Seriously, I have been tracking my numbers and budgeting very carefully for over 10 years now, long before I began to write this blog. If you have followed me a little bit you probably know that the biggest part of our expenses every year has been for medical care and insurance coverage. That’s because both my wife Suzanne and I are unfortunately ill and have some chronic conditions that make those expenses around 25-30% of our annual expenditures every year. The latest numbers on healthcare spending for the average American is about 8% of their total budget, and that’s up from the 6%, the number just 2 years ago. Continue reading

Track Your Financial Health with These 6 Vital Signs

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When you go to the doctor, they check your vital signs like blood pressure and temperature to make sure you’re healthy. But what about the vital signs for your financial health? These numbers tell you if you’re financially healthy (or not!) and can give you goals to shoot for.

Just like your doctor measures your vital signs to check your physical health, you need to track these 6 vital signs to monitor your financial health.Over time I’ve learned the hard way that I have to go to the doctor and get checked out or else my health suffers. It’s the same with your money. If you don’t pay attention to your financial vital signs, you’ll be headed for disaster. Continue reading

Financial Empowerment – My Road to Financial Wellness

The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness blog tour. The Road to Financial Wellness is a three-month, grassroots campaign promoting financial empowerment on a national level and encourages people to pursue their dream lifestyle. Find out more about local events near you.

This coming September will mark for me the 20 year anniversary of starting my journey to my financial empowerment. Sometimes, the best things that you will ever do are born out of times that are fundamentally the worst times, such as when you are hurting emotionally and financially and are desperate for control when tough roadblocks occur in your life. That’s what happened to me in September 1996.

Financial Empowerment - My Road to FInancial Wellness

Back then, my 25-year marriage had just ended, my divorce became final and I was at my low point in every part of my life from job to family and of course, my financial condition. After a divorce, the division of assets doesn’t leave two halves but rather a pretty big financial hole which means a lot less for everyone involved. You can do one of two things it seems. Either you can wallow in self-pity and think you’re destined to be in that mess forever or you can decide that you can do something about your problems and start to find ways that you can take control again of your financial well-being. It may not be simple and easy, but it can be done. Continue reading

How You Can Live Comfortably on $45/Day

I know I sometimes make myself crazy thinking about money and how I might earn more and spend less. I don’t think I’m really any different from you though. If you’re a lot like me and everyone else who does pretty much the same thing, I want you to consider something. Are you already thinking about things like getting a new a job or a better job?  Getting a raise in pay? Earning a bonus? Winning the lottery! Whether you are 18 or 80, money is a huge factor in our thoughts, dreams, and lives. But the real question to me is “how much do you really need?” Can lots of money really guarantee your happiness? Maybe you’ll be very happy and then again…maybe not.

How to Live Comfortably on $45/Day

If having lots of money makes you happy, then by all means you should go for it. Figure out all the new and best ways you can earn it and perhaps you will fulfill every dream you have ever have dreamed. Wouldn’t that be great! Having money is a way to fulfill your greatest desires for not only for a great life for you, but it can be blessing to help others who aren’t able to make do because of their own problems and misfortunes. You can help yourself and others and that’s very cool. Continue reading

You May Think That You’re Frugal…But Where Does Your Money Go?

We all like to think that we have total control of our money, don’t we? We certainly know our salary if we get a weekly paycheck and we also know about those monthly dividend checks, part time side hustles and other alternative sources of income that we receive like tax refunds, rewards from our credit cards and gifts for birthdays. You may even feel you don’t need any advice or input on your finances and you’re doing just fine. But where does your money go?

You May Think That You're Frugal, But Where Does Your Money Go?

The truth is that people, no matter how good they are at their finances and no matter how careful they think they are, do “slip up”. That slip up can be a once-a-month thing when an urge to spend might just be so strong and the want so intense that you can’t say “no” and give in to it. Or it can even be just a bad habit you’ve formed that occurs each week or even worse every day. It can be looking only short range and not thinking about the “big picture”.  These “drips” a little bit at a time are like having a leak in your plumbing that’s so small you don’t notice it. But it’s there and it’s doing damage to your finances just like that leaky pipe can do to the walls, floors, and foundation of your home. Don’t think you have a leak? Let me ask you just a few questions then. Continue reading

Life or Debt: The Help You May Need to Face Reality!

Every once in a while, if I’m lucky, I stumble onto something that intrigues me and I feel like I must share it with you. That is exactly what I’m doing today, when I share the surprise I had in discovering the new reality TV show “Life Or Debt” last month on Spike which airs Sunday nights at 10 pm Eastern.

Life or Debt: The Help You May Need to Face Reality!

The show is a reality show in the truest sense possible. It deals with real life, real people and real problems. It’s the kinds of problems that most of us have dealt with at some point, but in this show it’s magnified with a huge lens that puts the problems under the microscope for all of us to view. Continue reading

Financial Literacy: A Review of “High School Money Hacks”

Every April since 2003, the United States has recognized and celebrated National Financial Literacy Month. It was called for by a joint resolution in congress and is one path to educating the citizens of our country about the importance and real necessity of developing a working knowledge in mastering the language, principles, and actions of finance.

Financial Literacy: A Review of "High School Money Hacks"

But nowhere is it more important to begin that education than with our youth. High school financial literacy is more important than ever before. There are many levels of education and responsibilities that kids come in contact with that can be the inspiration and key to their developing a full understanding of the principles of financial education. I recently read a book that I think can really help both student and parent in that quest. Continue reading

Creating a Budget and How We Make It Work

With the new year now upon us, I am proud to say my wife and I have hammered out our new budget for 2016. As a retired person for the past couple of years it has become increasingly challenging to maintain a comfortable life style when a big part of our income comes from my Social Security benefit and IRA distributions. Because of that, we have to plan carefully each year to try to increase our savings and emergency fund by finding new ways to save money.

Creating a Budget and How We Make It Work

This time around, instead of just preaching what you should do, I’m going to go through our approach to creating a budget and examine what it is we actually do. I’ll also show you how we erred this past year and how we’re planning to change so we can achieve all our financial goals this coming year! Continue reading