Financial Budgeting, Income, Costs and Hints (Part 1 of 5)

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The 1st of a 5 part series covering aspects of Personal Financial Budgets and moving forward.

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Part 1 is: Create and Maintain a Budget

The first step to avoiding the troubles of financial debt is to create and maintain a budget. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds, don’t worry.

First off, create a list of all your monthly income and also a list of your monthly expenses. When determining income, list all sources including alimony, child support, side jobs, etc. In calculating expenses, be sure to include housing, food, transportation, utilities, entertainment, etc. To gain an accurate reflection of actual expenses, sit down each night and write down expenses, just make sure to save receipts. Determine if your income covers all of your expenses. If the answer is no, then some expenses need to be reduced.

Adjust expenses. If it is a small discrepancy, it may mean reducing some minor expenses like entertainment or cell phone plan. If the deficit is larger, you may need to downsize your vehicle or living arrangements. If your income covers all of your expenses, you still may want to trim some of the excess fat off your spending habits. This can free up extra money for things such as vacations or college funds for your children.

Additionally, consider if you need to add new categories. Some areas that are often overlooked are debt reduction, emergency savings funds, and retirement savings. An emergency fund ensures there is an adequate amount available to cover unforeseen events (car emergency, etc), should it arise. This will eliminate the need for using credit which can quickly damage your budget.

There are several advantages to sticking to your budget. Firstly, most people have set financial goals that they would like to reach in the future. Sometimes it may be a trip, a brand new car, or a college education. A budget can help people save money to make these goals a reality. Additionally, many people are crushed under heavy consumer debt. Without a disciplined pattern of spending, it is virtually impossible to make much headway in reducing debt. A personal budget will provide the necessary framework to begin eliminating these inflated account balances.

If executed properly, a budget will allow a person to simultaneously meet their expenses, place money into savings, and pay back outstanding debts. Therefore, it is anyone’s best interest to create and implement a budget.

About Dormant Bank Accounts

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It’s estimated that up to ?bn may be sitting unclaimed in UK dormant bank accounts. Could you be entitled to a share?

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Banking experts estimate that up to ?bn may be sitting unclaimed in UK bank accounts that have gone ‘dormant’. What does this mean, and could you be entitled to a share in this huge amount of idle money?

A bank account goes dormant when, in the words of the British Bankers’ Association, a bank and a customer ‘lose touch with each other’. What this usually means in practice is that a customer has either passed away or moved house, and the bank haven’t been told and are unable to locate the account holder some time later.

If there are no transactions on an account over a period of around 12 months, the bank will write to the account holder at the last known address to ask them if they wish to keep the account open. If no reply is received, then the bank will change the status of the account to ‘dormant’. This means that from now on, no statements, chequebooks or other correspondance will be sent out to the customer.

The money in the account will still earn interest at whatever the normal rate of that account is, and the bank will still keep track of the account balance and keep a record of the last known address of the holder.

There are two main reasons for an account being made dormant. The first and most obvious one is to save the banks the administration costs of sending out statements and the like when there is no activity on the account from month to month (other than that initiated by the bank itself, such as interest payments).

The more important reason however is to guard against identity fraud. If a bank continues to send statements to an address when the account holder is no longer there to receive them, it is all too easy for these documents to end up in the hands of fraudsters, who could use the sensitive information they contain to begin a campaign of ID theft.

Most dormant accounts will have very small balances, but some will inevitably contain a substantial sum, often those belonging to someone who has passed away. If you think you may be entitled to money held in a dormant account, you can make a claim by filling in a form available from the bank in question.

You will need to give your reasons for making a claim, such as that the account belonged to a close relative whose estate was passed to you. You will also need to prove your own identity, and your connection to the original account holder if applicable.

If the bank don’t agree that you’re entitled to take over the account, you have the right to pursue an appeal, where your claim is re-examined. If the appeal fails, you can take your claim to the Financial Ombudsman Service, whose decision is final and binding.

Changing You Spending Habits

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It is every one dream being a millionaire and retiring with a healthy bank account, but how many people can actually achieve it? So few. This is largely due to lack of discipline in building up their retirement fund and poor spending habits. While building a retirement fund requires time, you can accelerate the process by making incremental but positive changes in your spending habits. Here are seven ways that you can change your daily lifestyle for more positive results in y…

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It is every one dream being a millionaire and retiring with a healthy bank account, but how many people can actually achieve it? So few. This is largely due to lack of discipline in building up their retirement fund and poor spending habits. While building a retirement fund requires time, you can accelerate the process by making incremental but positive changes in your spending habits. Here are seven ways that you can change your daily lifestyle for more positive results in your spending habits:

1. Have you ever noticed how much time you spend sitting in front of the television? The longer you sit, the worse it is for your blood circulation. Besides, the time you free up can be used for more useful tasks such as teaching your kids or learning a new skill.

2. If you are an avid reader, use the public library whenever possible. There is no need to buy the latest books from bookstores like Borders unless it is in a category that does not fit into a public library. The public library will usually acquire popular titles after some times. Learn to be patient.

3. If you are a smoker, start reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. Over time, you may be able to quit smoking completely. Besides saving money by not buying any more cigarettes, your health will also improve and this means a huge saving in your medical bills.

4. Use a bicycle if the destination is within 30 minutes by car. This helps promote blood circulation in your body and also reduces environmental pollution. You can also save on gasoline and parking fees.

5. Dine at home more frequently. You can experiment with different recipes and save some money at the same time. In addition, you are honing your cooking skills and this could be very useful for the home dining experience.

6. Bring your own coffee to office. Many people like to drop by a Starbucks or similar coffee outlet and end up spending a few dollars or more on a cup of coffee. You can potentially save many dollars each week just by making your own coffee at home and bringing it to your work place in a Thermos. Besides, who knows, it may taste better than the coffee from Starbucks! If you really cannot live without Starbucks coffee, consider getting a Starbucks rebate card. You can use the rebates to redeem free Starbucks coffee after you have accumulated enough points.

7. Do more walking than driving. If you can reach your destination within ten minutes by car, consider leaving the car behind and walk instead. You will save money on gasoline and parking fees. This can easily add up to a few thousand dollars a year.
These seven ways are a good start for changing unhealthy spending habits. However, you should continue to research and incorporate more healthy habits that contribute to the building of your retirement fund. By re-investing the money saved from using these tips, you will be many steps ahead of your peers and closer to your retirement goals.