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Archive for the ‘Personal Finance’ Category

How to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt

Brought to you by: The Frugal Buzz On November 21, 2011 No Comments

If you’re struggling with credit card debt, it makes sense that you want to pay it off quickly. The faster it is paid off, the better your credit. The faster it is paid off, the faster you can focus on saving money. The faster it is paid off, the sooner you can enjoy one less stressor. However, paying it down fast may not be your primary goal. You may, instead, look to pay it down as cheaply as possible.

The cheapest way to pay off your credit card debt isn’t the same for everyone. It depends on your balance. It depends on your interest rates. Finally, the cheapest way to pay off your credit card debt also depends on your assets. Let’s take a look at a few possibilities.

 credit card dec 2011

Use Your Savings

If you have a savings account, take a look at the amount of interest you’re earning on that money. Now take a look at the amount of interest you’re paying on your debt. If you’re paying more than you’re earning, consider cashing out your savings to pay off your debt. Wipe away your debt and then you can once again focus on building your savings. If you’re not making monthly credit card payments, you may be able to rebuild your savings quite quickly.

Debt Consolidation

Can you qualify for a debt consolidation loan? If so, at what interest rate? Compare the interest rate of a loan compared with the interest rate you’re paying on your credit card debt. Most often you’re paying credit card companies much more than you’d be paying a bank. That being said, make sure once you’ve paid off your credit card debt that you cut up those cards. If you run up a balance on them, then you’re paying back a loan and paying on your credit cards.

Home Equity

Home equity loans can be an option depending on the market, how much equity you have in your home and interest rates. Additionally, a portion of the interest you pay on a home equity loan is tax deductible. However, like a debt consolidation loan, you’re in danger of running up your credit cards again and paying on two loans simultaneously.

Just Paying It Off

Finally, consider cutting back on your expenses and paying more than the minimum balance on your card each month. This is often the most effective and cheapest way to pay off your credit card balance. Get a second job, sell your car or move into a cheaper apartment if you need to. The faster you pay off your credit card debt, the cheaper it will be.

If borrowing isn’t an option, and we didn’t mention borrowing from friends and family, and you don’t have savings to pay off your debt, consider taking drastic measures. Take a second job, pick up some freelance work, or sell some valuables. You’ll be relieved once your credit card debt has been eliminated.

Frugally yours, Mary

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Ideas to Save Money This Holiday Season

Brought to you by: The Frugal Buzz On November 16, 2011 No Comments

Today we are going to help you come up with creative inspiration to save money. We’ll take a look at gift ideas, ways to save money on food, decorations and so on.

Let’s dive right in!

#1 Make your own gifts.

Make your own gifts? Does this sound a little too Martha Stewart to you? It does to many and yet it’s still a great idea. The problem is, people often choose to make gifts that don’t play to their strengths.

For example, maybe you’re not crafty and sewing a tea cozy isn’t something you can accomplish. If your strength is photography then you can take photos that mean something to your recipient, frame them and give them as gifts. This is a very thoughtful and potentially inexpensive gift.


When considering what you can make, consider your strengths first. What are you good at? Are you a skilled chef or baker? Are you good at designing small graphics? You could make stationary for gifts or bake bread.

The second consideration is to reflect how you can make the gift special for the recipient. How can you make it personal? For example, if your recipient loves wine and you’re creating handmade note cards, you could design cards with a wine glass on the front.

Homemade gifts don’t have to be elaborate, take a lot of time to make or cost a lot. Simple expressions from the heart are what make handmade gifts so special.

#2 Think Unique

One of a kind items are often a great gift and you can find one of a kind gift ideas in the most inexpensive places.

For example:

Etsy – this website sells handmade crafts that range from artwork and jewelry to bath products. They also sell vintage goods. You can find great items on this website. Great, affordable gifts, with a personal touch.

Flea markets – Flea markets are a fantastic place to find really special gifts. You can find vintage dinnerware, antique glassware, home goods, even vintage clothing and jewelry. The key to gift shopping at flea markets is to give yourself time to shop.

Foodzie – Foodzie is a website like Etsy. It’s a site that sells food made by chefs around the country. You can find baked goods, sauces, jerky, and candy amongst other things.

#3 Be of service

Taking your recipient in mind, what can you give them that would help them solve a problem? For example, your sister in law just had a baby and is a bit frantic and on a tight budget. You can offer babysitting services, errand services, or cleaning services to help make her life a little easier. Give her a coupon book packed with value and make her life easier without costing you a dime.

#4 Potluck

During the holiday season you may like to host parties. Cut back on your expenses by making them potluck parties. You’ll save money on the cost of groceries and your guests will be happy to contribute.

#5 Make your own holiday decorations

Decorations can cost a fortune however you can make your own decorations for a fraction of the cost. You can purchase clear ornaments from a hobby store and paint them yourself. You can get your entire family in on the activity and have them create a tree covered with memories.

There are a number of ways to stay on budget this holiday season. Whether it’s cutting back on travel, making your own gifts, or finding one of a kind gifts in unexpected places all that’s required is a little planning.

Take a look at your gift list and make a plan. What are your creative strengths? What would the recipient value most?

Start planning your holiday spending as early as possible. You’ll be able to hit the stores, online or off, without stress, without the crowds and without busting your budget.

Stay Focused

The key to not overspending this holiday season is to stay focused. Take a look at your priorities this season. What’s most important to you?

Once you know what your priorities are you can then create a plan to make it happen. The holidays can be a stressful time but when you focus on what matters most, you can make this holiday season the best ever.

Frugally yours, Mary

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Beyond Your Emergency Savings – How to Be Prepared

Brought to you by: The Frugal Buzz On November 10, 2011 No Comments

A financial safety net is about more than setting aside money. It’s also about protecting your money and your finances.

Here’s a list of the documents you should have in place and the measures to take to protect you and your family’s financial future:

* Will and Testament
* Living Will/Medical Directive
* Trust
* Home Insurance
* Health Insurance
* Life Insurance
* Auto Insurance

Other documents to consider:

* Long term disability
* Long term care insurance

Insurance protects you and your family against emergency. It is one of the most responsible and financially sound decisions you can make. If you don’t have insurance, consider visiting with an insurance representative for a package deal. If you are insured, consider consulting a financial advisor or insurance agent to make sure you’re properly insured.

Additionally, a will and testament and a medical directive ensure your requests are met. A trust ensures your wishes stay out of court and in the hands of your family.

Throughout this report we’ve discussed several types of savings to have and a tier based system in order of important. We’ve also mentioned where to save your money depending on the savings type. Let’s take a look at that once again so you know all of your options.


Where to Save Your Money

Depending on how much you’re saving, how much access you need to the money, your tolerance for risk and how much interest you want to earn, there are a number of options to save your money.

These options include:

  1. Interest bearing checking account. You can find access to this type of account online or with your local bank or credit union. Research bank fees and interest rates to find the best option for you. This is an ideal account type for a household emergency savings account of $1000 or less.
  2. Money Market Account. These sometimes offer check writing services and offer a higher interest rate than a standard checking or savings account.
    Money Market Funds. Not FDIC insured but generally safe investments. Generally pays more than any type of bank account.
  3. CDs or Certificate of Deposit. They’re federally insured up to $250,000 and have a good interest rate. However, you don’t have easy access to the money. They’re better used for long term savings like saving for the potential loss of income.

What to Not Use to Pay for Financial Emergencies

* Credit Cards
* Home Equity Line of Credit
* Tapping into your 401k or retirement plan
* Postponing other monthly payments

Your financial safety net is established to help you avoid falling into the trap of borrowing to cover emergencies. You don’t have to borrow from yourself or from creditors to stay on solid financial ground.

Conclusion

Financial emergencies happen. They’re a fact of life. When you’re prepared for them, you can focus on getting through the tough times in your life without dealing with the added stress of financial insecurity.

You owe it to yourself, to your family, and to your future to take a look at your financial plan right now. Create a plan to:

* Budget
* Pay off debt
* Save for minor emergencies
* Save for major emergencies
* Protect your finances

Use the three tiered approach, focus on one goal at a time and you’ll be sitting pretty in no time.  This ends our series on preparing for financial emergencies. What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Frugally yours, Mary

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