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How to Create an Easy Spending Plan

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Hate crunching numbers and writing down every expense? Does it seem like every time you try to budget and track your spending habits you just get overwhelmed and lost? You’re not the only one. While budgeting is good for everyone, it’s not easy for all of us. Instead of going all in and spending every cent on paper before you even get your pay check, perhaps you can try a different approach to see if it works better for you. Start simple.

Here is how to create an easy spending plan in 5 simple steps:

1. Decide your financial goals

For this first step, decide what your financial goals are. The big ones. What are you saving for? Do you need to pay off debt? Make sure all your goals are realistic and achievable.

Goals for your money will help you make smart spending choices. Ask yourself: What do I want my finances to look like in one year? Decide what’s important to you and start there

2. Identify your income and expenses

You probably know how much you earn every month, but do you know where it all goes? Don’t worry, you won’t be tracking every cent you spend. All you’re going to do is write down all your outgoing costs, utilities, car payments etc, and subtract it from your monthly income. That’s all spent in advance. Now you can decide where the rest of the money goes. Don’t forget a budgeted amount for grocery basics.

3. Set aside your savings/ pay off debt

Now that you know where most of your money is going you can decide how much you can/want to spend on your long-term goals. Set it aside, pay off debt, or whatever you need to do with it, and the remaining is yours to do with what you like. No need to track every cent. All the bills are payed and you saved $.

4. Evaluate your situation

You payed your bills and put money toward your long-term goals but it’s not over. It’s up to you to decide where your finances are right now and where you want them to go. If you can afford to put more towards your goals and cut out some of the unnecessary spending you do every month, do it. Skip Starbucks some days, don’t do that clothing haul you were going to, find alternative ways to save. Make a list of things that you need versus things that you want and decide, like a grown up, what your priorities are.

5. Make it a habit

At the end of every month review your finances and remind yourself what your goals are. Checking up on everything regularly will help making spending wisely a habit. Remember, start simple. Teach yourself the habit and self control of spending wisely without giving yourself a headache over number crunching and overspending.

Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.

Warren Buffet

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7 Companies That Are Committed to Giving Back

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The number one goal of most businesses is to make money and stay profitable. However, many companies commit  to giving back and sharing their success with others. Through charitable donations, humanitarian efforts, and employee volunteer programs, companies can make a difference in the world. Take a look at these seven companies that are committed to giving back and what they do in their communities and around the world.

Disney: VoluntEARS

disney

Image via Flickr by CandaceApril

Disney encourages its employees to give back through its VoluntEARS program. Employees are rewarded for volunteering in their communities. Disney VoluntEARS provides a grant to a nonprofit organization based on the number of volunteer hours that its employees achieve. For instance, if an employee volunteers 10 to 24 hours, Disney VoluntEARS donates $100. If an employee volunteers for 75 hours or more, the company donates $1,000. There are also VoluntEARS of the Year awards that go as high as $2,500. Disney is also generous in its own donations to nonprofits.

Better World Books: Literacy Promotion

Better World Books primarily sells textbooks, but also offers novels and reference books in several genres. The company gives back by giving books to needy children. Every time a customer buys a book, Better World Books provides a book to a needy child. It’s a great way to promote literacy in your community and around the world.

Bank of America: Gift Matching

companies commited to giving back

Image via Flickr by Wonderlane

Bank of America makes billions of dollars in revenue each year. To give back, the company created a matching gift program for its employees. Whenever an employee makes a charitable donation to a nonprofit organization, Bank of America matches that donation up to $5,000 per year. Employees must submit a request, but they have until March 15 of the following year. Through this program, thousands of nonprofit organizations have seen an influx of funds — everything from education funding to humanitarian efforts in third-world countries.

Amway: One By One

Thousands of people have realized the benefits of direct selling with Amway. However, the company is concerned about more than customer satisfaction. Amway wants to help people live better lives. The company is founded on the fundamentals of freedom, family, hope, and reward. Through Amway’s One by One campaign, 11 million children around the world are getting a better education. Children in South Africa have been given Tutudesks to help them learn whether their class is held indoors or out.

Google: Gift Matching

google

Image via Flickr by Robert Scoble

Google is one of the most generous companies in the world — its slogan is “Don’t Be Evil.” Like Bank of America, Google matches employee donations to nonprofit organizations (up to $12,000 per year). Additionally, Google funds lots of programs designed to improve peoples’ lives. The company has seen wild success on the Internet and is now committed to giving back.

Panda: Vision Care

Panda makes wood sunglasses that are stylish and environmentally friendly. However, the best part is that when you buy a pair of Panda sunglasses, you are also helping give the gift of vision. Panda helps facilitate eye exams and the distribution of prescription glasses around the world though Optometry Giving Sight. Additionally, Panda has contributed money to building optometry schools in undeserved areas. Good vision opens doors for people by giving them independence and a new perspective on life.

GE: Gift Matching

LED

Image via Flickr by JeepersMedia

Another company that gives back through employee gift matching is GE. Originally, only donations to colleges and universities were matched, but now GE includes nearly all nonprofits in its gift matching program. GE also sponsors a volunteer program for its employees. GE cares about community and wants its employees to donate their time and money to making the world a better place.

This is just a short list of companies that are giving back to their communities and around the world. Giving back is a great way to improve public relations and company culture, too. Many companies are realizing these benefits and starting programs of their own to give back. Companies, employees, and nonprofits can all benefit.

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9 Reasons Why You Should Budget, Even If You Don’t Think You Need To

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Budgeting for Beginners; 9 Reasons Why You Should Be Budgeting

If you’re new to budgeting, it’s important to understand what a budget is and how it helps you examine what you earn and how you are spending that income. A budget is a financial plan that takes income and expenses into account and provides estimates for how much you make and spend over a given period of time.

Budgeting Basics

  • Fixed expenses are expenses that stay the same from month to month, such as rent payments.
  • Flexible expenses are expenses that change from month to month, such as how much you spend on utilities
  • Total expenses are the combined amount of your fixed and flexible expenses.
  • Total monthly income is the income from your job or other resources including investment dividends, pensions, Social Security benefits, rental income and more.
  • Disposable income is the money you have left over after you subtract your income taxes from your income.

 

If you find you are not able to stick to your budget, it may mean you are spending beyond your means or that your budget is not flexible enough. Take the time to review and readjust your budget monthly until you find a plan that works for you.

 

 

Here are 9 good reasons you should be budgeting your expenses

   1. You will find you have more money than you thought 

Now that you have a budget and all your money is already spent on paper you will find that it can stretch alot further than you thought. You finally have enough money to pay extra on your credit card bills or put into savings.

  2. It can help you get out of debt faster

Having extra money to budget into outgoing you now have more option to pay off debt. It’s up to you and your goals,  but if you want to make the sacrifice to take extra leisure money and put it towards debt you will find that those total remaining balances go down alot quicker. This can give an immense sense of relief every time you see them

  3. It ensures that you will always have enough money for the things you need

Laying out your incoming and outgoing finances will shed new light on your money situation. Now you will know if you have enough money to make ends meet or, if you don’t, you can rearrange your spending habits.

 4. Budgeting puts you in control of your financial situation

A budget helps you figure out your long-term goals and work towards them. If you just drift aimlessly through life, tossing your money at every pretty, shiny object that happens to catch your eye, how will you ever save up enough money to buy a car, take that trip to Aruba or put a down payment on a house?

A budget forces you to map out your goals, save your money, keep track of your progress and make your dreams a reality.

 5. You will find you put more into savings than you used to

People who do not have a budget tend to save less money than people who do. This is because when you budget you assign your money to do certain things. This allows you to automatically put money into a savings or investment account each month. As you do this you will begin to build wealth. This will give you true financial freedom in the future.

 6. Tracking your incoming and outgoing  finances will create a good habit of not                overspending

Most people who do not have a budget end up overspending each month. This limits their spending power in the future as more and more of their salaries have to be applied to debt payments. If you are worried about restricting your spending, consider what it would feel like to have the majority of your paycheck be applied to credit card payments. The stress of finding a way to pay for the rising cost of gas and food can be astronomically when most of your paycheck is already planned

  7. Helps you reach your goals quicker

With a budget, you can focus your money on the things that are most important to you. This may be getting out of debt, saving up for a home or working on starting your own business. Your budget creates a plan and lets you track it to make sure you are reaching your goals.

 8.  It leads to a happy retirement

As important as it is to spend your money wisely today, it’s also critical to save for your future.

A budget can help you do just that. It’s important to build investment contributions into your budget. If you set aside a portion of your earnings each month to contribute to your IRA, 401(k) or other retirement funds, you’ll eventually build a nice nest egg. Although you may have to sacrifice a little now, it will be worth it down the road. After all, would you rather spend your retirement golfing and taking trips to the beach or working as a greeter at the local grocery store to make ends meet?

9. Budgeting helps you prepare for emergencies

Life is filled with unexpected surprises, some better than others. When you get laid off, become sick or injured, go through a divorce or have a death in the family, it can lead to some serious financial turmoil. Of course, it seems like these emergencies always arise at the worst possible time – when you’re already strapped for cash. This is exactly why everyone needs an emergency fund.

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IMPORTANCE OF SAVING FOR RETIREMENT

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All too often people entering retirement do not place enough emphasis on personal planning to ensure they maximize their opportunities. So take the time now — at an early stage in your planning process — to think about the choices you have about how you would like to spend your time during retirement.

plan your retirement early

People’s retirement needs vary greatly, but everyone will have basic expenditures: home maintenance or rent, transportation, medical care and living expenses. Many Americans hope to be able to travel, golf, eat out and make big-ticket purchases during retirement.

Importance of Planning for Retirement

There are two components to retirement income planning: Personal Planning and Financial Planning. Personal planning is important because it is the determining factor of your satisfaction with your retirement lifestyle.

Financial planning is crucial because it identifies your sources of income and expenses and establishes your retirement budget, based on your personal plan.

Personal Planning

All too often people entering retirement do not place enough emphasis on personal planning to ensure they maximize their opportunities. So take the time now — at an early stage in your planning process — to think about the choices you have about how you would like to spend your time during retirement.

Do you want to volunteer at a local hospital? Take up that hobby you were always interested in, but never had the time to start? Go back to school and pick up a few special interest courses? Start your own business? Travel around the world? Buy property in a warmer climate and spend the winter months there?

These, and many other lifestyle questions based on your preferences, are all important factors to consider when planning your retirement since your choices will drive the financial circumstances that must be meet in order to achieve your goals.

Financial Planning

Will you have adequate funds to provide the kind of retirement lifestyle you envision? Remember your income will likely come from three general sources: government pensions, employment-related sources and your own personal investments.

Your retirement will be more enjoyable if your income is structured to fit your lifestyle choices and if you have developed a retirement plan to protect the assets you have worked hard to acquire.

Follow these foolproof steps to retirement income planning:

  1. Identify & compare your income and expenses to determine any shortfalls or surpluses.
  2. Review & analyze the various income strategies.
  3. Review & compare the income options available.
  4. Develop an action plan.

 

Here are some dos for your retirement planning:

  1.  Regularly review (two to four times per year) the performance and management of all your plan investment options.
  2. Pay special attention to new funds added to your plan.
  3. Re-adjust your portfolio so your investment allocations match your desired level of risk.
  4. Match up your current and future contribution percentages.
  5. Take the time to educate yourself about how to invest.
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