Say “Bah, Humbug!” To Holiday Debt: Avoid the “Holiday Hangover”

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Avoid the post holiday blues by learning tips and tricks to reign in your holiday spending.

holiday season,finances,gifts,purchases,spending,money,credit cards,Christmas,Thanksgiving,budget,gift wrap,cards,expenses,debt

Ah, the holiday season! Turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie, office parties, jingle bells, and lots and lots of eggnog make the season a delight. But all fun and reindeer games aside, you have to be careful to make sure you don’t wind up as poor as Tiny Tim! Americans can spend as much as $1,000 a year on gifts for family, friends and business associates. That is a big chunk of money that can hit you pretty hard come January if you don’t plan ahead. There are some tips and tricks you can do to keep your holidays bright and debt-free this year.

Before the holidays arrive, do some careful plotting and planning for family and business expenses. A few hours spent in preparation can mean less money spent on gifts. You don’t have to be Scrooge, you just have to be smart.

1) Decide how much you are willing to spend, and stick to it. Pretend you are spending cash. How much can you afford out of pocket this month? If you cannot afford it right now, consider that you cannot afford it at all.

2) Budget non-gift and after-Christmas items too. Remember to include other things you buy over the holidays – cards, stamps, candles, a tree, decorations, and food galore. Plus, plan ahead to save some money for next year by taking advantage of after Christmas sales. It is all part of your holiday spending, so plan for it in your holiday budget.

3) Make a list of everyone you will be buying gifts for and estimate how much you want to spend on each person. Include the smaller gifts for teachers or your mailman. Include the price of cards and stamps, because Christmas cards count as gifts when it comes to your budget. Then, add it up and compare the total to your budgeted amount. Make the necessary adjustments. Your brother-in-law may only get socks this year.

4) Cut down your list. This may sound harsh, but look closely at who you are buying gifts for. When saving money is an issue, it is ok not to give gifts to everyone you know. Send only cards to distant relatives, neighbors you don’t know well and business owners who haven’t bought from you this year.

5) Be creative. Determine if some people would be happy to receive home baked cookies. Remember, the holidays aren’t about presents but about good will towards man. Good will comes in many forms and does not always need wrapping paper. If you have a skill or a hobby, use it: needlework, knitting, art or poems. Make a photo album, or offer to plant their garden. Use discount coupons for your customers.

6) Carry your shopping list with you. Take every opportunity to shop. Start early and try to get things before the rush, before highly sought, hard-to-find items go up in price, and before you can’t find what you need. This gives you a chance to comparison shop. It also takes away some of the stress and reduces your risk of overspending just for the sake of finishing your shopping.

7) If a store offers free gift-wrap, go for it! It’ll save you time and money on buying wrapping paper, tape, bows, and cards and struggling with it all yourself.

8) Have willpower. Stick to your estimates and you won’t go over budget. eBay is a wonderful shopping tool if you remember to start early enough to account for shipping time. Find the right item, bid your budget price and leave it. If someone outbids you, don’t get into a bidding war, just bid on something else within your price range.

9) Increase your income for the season. During the holidays there are lots of ways to make a little extra money. Many stores hire part-time workers for the holidays. Since it is a party season, babysitting is in high demand. Be imaginative. You could be the Official Gift Wrapper in your neighborhood and wrap gifts for friends and neighbors for a small fee.

10) Use your credit cards. Yes! If you stick to your budget and only spend what you are able to pay for in the next 30 days, then yes, you CAN use credit cards. The key is to use them as you would cash. Using your credit card is not a way to buy things you can’t afford, it is a way to organize your spending and possibly get some rewards and discounts along the way.

11) Make the credit card companies compete for your business. It may be the holidays, but you can dig in your heels and play hardball. Call your credit card bank and tell them you won’t be using their card for your holiday purchases unless they sweeten it up for you. You want a little sugar and spice to make using that card a better deal. You can ask for 0% interest, double your gas points or flyer miles. Anything to make using your credit card more worthwhile. Banks will usually be willing to strike a deal with you, so long as you try. It can’t hurt to ask.

12) Use specialized credit cards, but carefully. Many of the stores where you will be buying your holiday gifts offer their own credit cards. They tend to have ridiculously high interest rates. However, they may give you discounts of 10%, 15%, sometimes even 20%! So, you could actually go ahead and use a store credit card to make the purchases and get the discounts, since you are paying these off when the bill comes due the interest rates should not be a problem. If you do get into a pinch and can’t pay them off right away, then transfer your balance to your lower-rate credit card before any interest is added to the higher-rate one. You need to be on the ball with this trick, but it may save you money.

It is important to keep in mind that every new credit card you apply for will lower your credit score. So if you’re saving up for a mortgage or a large loan, you’ll want to avoid applying for additional credit.

Come the start of January, your main concern is going to be getting ready for the new year, and you won’t want post-holiday money troubles making things worse. The Ghost of Christmas Past starts visiting even before you put the tree in the trash. Be sure to have a Happy New Year by being money-wise in advance.

(c) 2005 DebtGuru.com(r). This article may be freely distributed as long as the signature file and active link are included.

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How to Control Your Expenses to Eliminate Debt

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Controlling your living budgets will definitely help you to get rid of you debt faster. It’s sound so simple but for many people, it’s a hard mission which need a lot of sacrifice to live on a budget. Read this article to find out what expenses you can control and it may not as hard as you think.

debt consolidation, student debt, get out of debt, expenses control, debt free, debt relief

This sounds simple, but to control your expenses you first must understand what they are. The only way to be sure you know what you spend is to record everything. This is hard to do. Then you will need to do something even more difficult, Sacrifice and Live on a Budget.Ouch, all people including you and me hate those two words. But it will take sacrifice to get out of debt. The good news is that it will be worth it.

Every time you make a sacrifice and stay on budget you will be investing in your future. Always keep that in mind. Every step you make towards getting out of debt means you are closer to having your money work for you.

The major expenses you can control on a day to day budget are:

 

  • General Expenses It could be music equipment, car washes, computer games, anything. Any things you can figure out which are not your needs. Maybe there isn't anything you can think of, but there probably is. Maybe at least once a month, when you go to buy something on impulse, you force yourself not to do it.

  • Food Expenses Stop going out to eat. This will be a huge sacrifice for most, but you have to stop going out to eat;it's too expensive. You need to bring your lunch to work and, if you have a Starbuck's addiction, stop buying $2 cups of coffee. Many people can save $50 a month just by brewing their own coffee, another $100 by bringing their lunch to work, and another $200 by not going out to eat for dinner.

  • Clothing Expenses Always decide what you are going to purchase before you go into the store and stick to it. Do all your "shopping" at home. If you truly need a new jacket because the old one has a hole in it and it's really cold outside then you can go get a jacket. But don't start looking around for the skirts and hats while you are there. Get the jacket and run!

  • Entertainment Expenses You like to have fun and you need to have fun. However, if you are in debt then, you need to sacrifice at least one major entertainment expense a month. Whatever it is you like to do (movies, concerts, plays, out to eat, sports, etc.) you need to reduce the frequency by at least once a month.

  • Gasoline Expenses As everyone is aware,gas prices have grown astronomically in recent times. For many years gas prices had been relatively level and it seems that they are making up ground ina short period of time. At $3 and more per gallon, gasoline has become a major expense for most households and needs to be specially addressed when looking at ways to control expenses. Getting a car with a good gas mileage and reduce your total driving miles can save you some significant amount of money. If you have colleagues leave close to you, then get them to carpool with you and share the gasoline expenses.

If you follow some basic rules on each of these tips on reducing debt and budgeting expenses and are willing to sacrifice you can save a good significant amount of money each month. That will put a dent in your credit card debt in no time.

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Forecasting the Future Value of Your 401(k)

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Curious about how much money you’ll accumulate in your 401(k) account? Just use Microsoft Excel says author and CPA Stephen L. Nelson.

401k, 401(k), retirement, investing

If you’ve got Microsoft Excel (or just about any other popular spreadsheet program) running on your computer, you can use its FV function to forecast the future value of your 401(k) account.

The FV function calculates the future value of an investment given its interest rate,
the number of payments, the payment, the present value of the investment, and,
optionally, the type-of-annuity switch. (More about the type-of-annuity switch a little later.)

The function uses the following syntax:

=FV(rate,nper,pmt,pv,type)

This little pretty complicated, I grant you. But suppose you want to calculate the future value of a 401(k) account that’s already got $10,000 in it and to which you’re contributing $200-a-month. Further suppose that you want to know the account balance-its future value-in 25 years and that you expect to earn 10% annual interest.

To calculate the future value of the 401(k) account in this case using the FV function, you enter the following into a worksheet cell:

=FV(10%/12,25*12,-200,-10000,0)

The function returns the value 385936.13-roughly $386,000 dollars.

A handful of things to note: To convert the 10% annual interest to a monthly interest rate, the formula divides the annual interest rate by 12. Similarly, to convert the 25-year term to a term in months, the formula multiplies 25 by 12.

Also, notice that the monthly payment and initial present values show as negative amounts because they represent cash outflows. And the function returns the future value amount as a positive value because it reflects a cash inflow the investor ultimately receives.

That 0 at the end of the function is the type-of-annuity switch. If you set the type-of-annuity switch to 1, Excel assumes payments occur at the beginning of the period (month in this case), following the annuity due convention. If you set the annuity switch to 0 or you omit the argument, Excel assumes payments occur at the end of the period following the ordinary annuity convention.

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You Gotta Have a Plan

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If you want to succeed, you need a plan.

financial planning, personal finance, debt managment, saving and investment

How that is some people can retire at 50? Or not lose their shirt when there’s a stock market “crash?

Why are some people able to earn high incomes or even have “multiple streams of income?

How come some people retire to a life of luxury and world travel, while others barely have enough to feed and house themselves?

Of course, one part of it the answer is that some people are more intelligent and industrious than others. No matter what anyone says, we are not all the same. We may have been created equal, but no one has ever guaranteed us equality of results. That depends on our own efforts.

Another part of the answer is that some people consider the risks they will face and do something before they occur to mitigate the damages. One obvious way of doing this is by buying the proper kinds and amount of insurance to protect your home, health and life ?if you have an income stream to protect.

Less obvious, but still a very helpful plan is to become an expert at whatever you choose to do ? to make yourself indispensable to your employer.

If you work for yourself, you want to be the best at whatever it is you’re doing, from practicing medicine to baking bread. You also have to have the will to persevere and work long hours at making yourself a success.

Yet another part of the answer is having a plan. Some people get up in the morning and let events carry them along through their day. Others plan what they will do with their life and stick to it.

They will learn about investments and how to diversify, so that when one asset goes down another holds its own or goes up. Or they will hire financial profesionals to do the work for them.

They save as much money as possible, using every tax sheltered vehicle allowed, including 401-K’s, IRA’s, Health Savings Plans and 529 educational savings plans. And then they will invest even more in taxable accounts.

They live well within their means. Some like Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest men, lives well under theirs. They will use credit judiciously or not at all.

Successful people will invest in businesses, rental real estate or work part time, while maintaining their full time job just so they have many streams of income. If one is lost, their world does not come to an end.

Many people play the lottery and hope they will strike it rich. The sad fact is that many think this is the only way get rich. But anybody with the will can find the way.

Our public libraries are filled with books on how to invest, how to insure yourself, how to set up a financial plan or how to open and run a business.

Many employers have tuition reimbursement plans ?they will pay your way if you want to better yourself. Or community colleges offer free adult education courses to help you learn new skills or improve on the old.

The internet now makes it easy to set up an online business while you continue with your day job.

The bottom line is you have to rely on yourself to earn and save as much as possible. If you do you can be one of the “lucky?ones who retire young with lots of money to spend.

If you don’t you’ll be living hand to mouth on your Social Security check.

The choice is yours.

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Are You Faced With Out-Of-Control Expenses

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Perhaps you can relate to this scenario: The moment you thought you were back in the financial game of life, something else came along that smacked you back down into the land of money woes again. Was that an accurate scenario? For many people it is. Perhaps a tragic emergency or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came by and you had to pay more money than you expected to pay.

Whatever the situation, you were just clawing your way back to having control of your expenses when…

Perhaps you can relate to this scenario: The moment you thought you were back in the financial game of life, something else came along that smacked you back down into the land of money woes again. Was that an accurate scenario? For many people it is. Perhaps a tragic emergency or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came by and you had to pay more money than you expected to pay.

Whatever the situation, you were just clawing your way back to having control of your expenses when you pushed back down. Of course, the end result is debt!

How do you deal with that mounting debt? What can you do to solve it? There are many solutions and one of them is loans. We are going to show you the different kind of loan options you have to help you make the decision wisely.

A Secured UK secured loan is one option that many people just might want to choose because it gives them a variety of potential loan amounts and interest rates. If that’s you, the choice is yours! You can choose the loan amount that is right for your situation. And, the rate of interest on the principle is usually determined by several things. For example, the prevailing interest rates, the risk the lender faces from the recipient, the amount of money you want to borrow, and the repayment period. Also, a Secured UK secured loan comes with several flexible repayment terms, including the repayment frequency and the loan period (which is the amount of time you expect to pay the loan back). That way, you can manage the loan over a period of time and suit it to your income.

Be sure to shop around. If you look around at the many options available, you’ll probably find a Secured UK secured loan that provides you with a good amount to borrow, competitive rates, an attractive repayment period, and a repayment frequency that meets your needs. Consider this example:

If you have a large amount of utility bill outstanding debts (such as credit cards, loans, or bills owing), a Secured UK secured loan might be a good option in order to help you consolidate those utility bills into one manageable payment. That way, you can keep the lights on and the water running! Get a loan for a little more than your current accumulated bill so that you can put a small credit on each outstanding amount. That way, you’ll gain back your good name from the utility companies, and you’ll have a month or two of reprieve before you have to start paying back both the loan and the new utility bills you incur. It just might be a period of time where you tighten your belt, but it will allow you to live comfortably.

A Secured UK secured loan has many options. One of those is to consolidate your utility bills and let you begin the fight to win back your good name while keeping the lights on in your house. Many people are choosing to add a secured loan to their financial management plan. Is it the right thing for your out-of-control utility bills?

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Credit Cards For People With Bad Credit- Facts

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Credit cards for bad credit are certainly not going to be the best credit deals, but credit cards for people with bad credit might the only options available.

credit cards for people with bad credit, credit cards for bad credit, bad credit credit cards

Credit cards for bad credit are certainly not going to be the best credit deals, but credit cards for people with bad credit might be your only option available. The interest on credit cards for people with bad credit are usually much higher than on a regular credit card. These types of credit cards are especially designed for people with a bad credit history and don’t qualify for a regular credit card. If you are a young person just starting to build credit, or if you’ve had circumstances that has damaged your credit history, you usually can qualify for credit cards for bad credit.

Bad Credit Deals

Bad credit, credit card deals are readily available online with easy, secure applications. Bad credit deals are often divided into secured credit cards for bad credit that need a deposit and bad credit unsecured credit cards, a bad credit card with much higher fees. These types of bad credit offers people with a poor credit score or no previous credit history a quick and easy way to re-gain a good credit history with bad credit cards. If you keep your credit balance under the limit and make your payments on time, you’ll become eligible for much better deals on your credit card rates and improve your credit score.

Interest

There are many temptations by having credit cards and while using bad credit cards to hold you over in tight situations, remember it is only temporary relief as the interest rates on credit cards for bad credit are extremely high. Shop around and look for credit cards for bad credit with an interest rate that you are absolutely sure you will be able to pay. Probably the single most important part of picking credit cards is the interest rate, especially for people who will be rolling over balances from month to month.

Tips

A person must always keep in mind that credit cards for bad credit are very easy to use so don’t go overboard or you might find yourself in a much worse situation. Check out the interest rates and fees before you start applying for credit cards for bad credit. Don’t apply for every bad credit card there is as this will effect your credit score, only choose two of the best bad credit deals you can find.

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Cash Advance Loans Online – The Real Truth

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So you have found yourself in a bit of trouble and are looking into cash advance loans online. This may not be such a great idea as many cash advance loan companies are…

cash advance loan online,cash advance loans

So you have found yourself in a bit of trouble and are looking into cash advance loans online. This may not be such a great idea as many cash advance loan companies are not completely truthful in the details of the loans that they offer.

First of all the fees associated with getting cash advance loans online can be outrageous. To begin with, you will pay unusually high interest rates with these types of loans. Either you will pay a percentage of the total amount you plan to borrow or you could be charged anywhere from $10 to $50 per hundred dollars that you are going to need. Should you need to extend your cash advance loan you will end up paying additional fees each time you do so.

The majority of people who take out a payday loan get caught in a snowball effect of sorts Basically when a loan comes due that a borrower is not equipped to pay in time they usually end up having to extend the loan and incurring more interest charges. Additionally you are likely to rack up bounced check fees at your bank if you do not have the money ready when the withdrawal happens.

Instead of getting involved with a cash advance loan you may want to consider any one of these other options. You could see if your boss would give you an advance on your pay, or you could ask a friend or family member to loan you the money. You may want to check with those you have debit with and see if there might be a way to gain a little extra time to pay your bills and also check what the late fees would be involved with this.

There are many great options that you can utilize when looking to pay some bills. Applying for cash advance loans online should be at the bottom of your list of possibilities.

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10 Tips To Improved Personal Budgeting

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$Clip coupons. This is the single most important rule of personal budgeting. Why? Simply because a few minutes spent clipping coupons could end up saving you multiple dollars in the checkout line.

$Buy in bulk. If your favorite products are on sale, buying in bulk may cost you more at present but could end up saving you a lot in the future. Some good examples are items that do not have an expiration date, such as soap, shampoo, toiletries and other household items. Canned …

budget software, budgeting

$Clip coupons. This is the single most important rule of personal budgeting. Why? Simply because a few minutes spent clipping coupons could end up saving you multiple dollars in the checkout line.

$Buy in bulk. If your favorite products are on sale, buying in bulk may cost you more at present but could end up saving you a lot in the future. Some good examples are items that do not have an expiration date, such as soap, shampoo, toiletries and other household items. Canned foods, which carry a long expiration date, are also ideal for buying in bulk.

$Saving your change can be a great help in your quest for personal budgeting. You would be surprised how quickly change can add up and, even if it’s $50 or $100 per month, your coins can add up to some serious cash. Many people discard their coins or simply toss them around without thought, but saving them in a bowl or dish will help a great deal when it comes to personal budgeting.

$Put a portion of each paycheck into a savings count each week or month. Whether it’s a few dollars or several hundred, always make sure that you are putting aside some amount of money into a savings account. If possible, deposit 10-20% from each paycheck.

$Avoid impulse shopping. This type of buying is what ultimately leads to buyer’s remorse. In order to avoid it, think about what you want to shop for and make sure that you avoid any last minute additions unless they are absolutely necessary or you can afford them without being in a crunch.

$Shop the sale racks. Everyone enjoys sprucing up their wardrobe now and then so, when it comes time to add a few new pieces of apparel, stop by the sale rack for big savings. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a few extra dollars in your pocket, which can be later be used for life’s little essentials.

$Avoid using high-interest credit cards unless you can repay them within six months. Otherwise, you are more likely to get swallowed up with interest and end up paying for the original purchase several times over.

$If you do use a credit card for purchases, try to use one with an introductory APR or a regularly low interest rate. This could end up saving you big bucks every month and also in the future, which is one of the most important rules to personal budgeting.

$Request free samples. A number of websites, including StartSampling.com and WalMart.com, offer customers the opportunity to request free product samples of certain items. Everything from skin lotions and shampoo to dog treats and household products are up for grabs to all who ask. In addition, many manufacturers offer free samples of new product releases directly through their own website.

$If you find yourself in increasing credit card debt, call the creditor and request to be placed on a hardship program. This type of program allows for lower interest and smaller payments for a specified amount of time. Depending on the creditor, it can be in effect for several months or until the balance is paid in full. This method will not only help your immediate personal budgeting, but will also give you additional financial freedom in the future when the debt is paid in full.

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