BUDGETS ARE DESIGNED TO HELP YOU WIN WITH MONEY

 

Unfortunately, the word budget has gotten a bad rap. It’s basically just a plan. When you budget, you’re spending with purpose, before the month begins. But many people view a budget as a straightjacket that keeps them from doing what they want. Freedom and budget just don’t seem to go together for them.

The truth is that budgets are designed to help you get traction and ultimately win with your money.

Your budget is your plan for the upcoming month. You’re planning the money you haven’t spent yet. When you keep receipts or use your online banking to see what you spent last month, you’re doing just that—looking at last month. Look forward and back—not just one or the other. If you’re already tracking your spending, the budget is just a natural next step. It should be easy for you.

And when you see that the way to spend money intentionally only works with a budget you will feel like a burden has been lifted off your shoulders and as a consecuence you will have freedom.

The number one excuse why most people don’t budget is that they have no time, and that is the same exact reason why they need to budget. You cannot afford not having a budget that will help you navigate through the days, months, and years successfully. So, you don’t have time to not have a budget, you need that and you want that. So, don’t go by what everyone else is doing or saying, have some standarts of your own and stay the course until you get the results you desire.

If this is your first budget, we want you to use pen and paper for few months and until you get to know your numbers swicht to electeonic. We recomend EveryDollar as you can download the app on any divice. By following this secuence many people say they’ve found “extra” money when they created a realistic budget and stuck with it.

 
Being realistic when you create your budget is key, as no two months are the same, and no two households are the same either.

Here are ten pointers for your first budget:

1. Budget to zero before the month begins. That means every dollar gets a name before you spend a dime of it.

2. If you’re married, you and your spouse need to do the budget together. Period. The preacher said ” . . . and you are one.” If you’re single, find someone who can act as your accountability partner.

3. Every month is different (think birthdays, vacations, car insurance, back-to-school supplies), so be sure to adjust your budget monthly.

4. As you’re budgeting, start with your most important categories first, like giving, housing, food, clothing, insurance and bills. Then, fill in the rest of your budget with your leftover cash.




5. If you’re in debt, paying that off should be a top priority. Use the debt snowballand the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps to focus your money where it has the most impact. If you need help in any of these categories: saving, budgeting, paying off debt including student loan and or mortgage we’re here to help you and will be with you every step of the way.

6. Don’t be afraid to make budget cuts. If your budget is tight, save money by canceling cable, eating out less, and shopping at a discount grocery store. You can always rearrange things next month.

7. If pen and paper (or spreadsheets) aren’t your thing, or you just don’t have them available contact us at www.redtogreeneconomy.com we can help you. You can also try Dave Ramsey’s free online budget tool,EveryDollar we use it and it is a great tool. You can make your budget and track your spending from the comfort of your smartphone! Plus, you can sync up your budget with your spouse.

8. Use the cash envelope system for as many budget categories as it makes sense. To get these again you can contact us at www.redtogreeneconomy.com and we can facilitate these to you. Our goal is to help you change your finances for the best. The envelope system is another great tool designed to help you. For example, keep paying for gasoline with your debit card, but get cash out for your fun money and clothing cash. Once your envelope is empty, stop spending! It’s the ultimate accountability partner.

9. Give yourself lots of grace. It usually takes three to four months to get this whole budgeting thing down pat. It won’t be perfect the first time, or the second. But you’ll get there!

10. Be content. You have much more than you realize. Don’t compare your situation to anyone else’s. Keep moving forward and doing what’s right for your family, remember to always give thanks 




When you are spending your money with purpose, you’ll be on the road to changing your family tree forever! Imagine your future (and your kids’ future) without money worries. That’s the beauty of a hardworking budget.

What tools are you currebtly using to create your budgets? Let us know; we’d love to hear fron you 

BALANCE YOUR CHECKBOOK AND TRACK YOUR MONEY

 
Let’s admit from this starting point that, it wasn’t an easy decision to continue tracking money by balancing my checkbook since we live in an era of technology, the rise of online support like mint.com and online banking.





Understanding how to balance your checkbook might seem really easy. It’s basic subtraction and addition, right? But, who wants to deal with it? Well, you might be surprised that 69% of people never balance a checkbook. It’s even more surprising that some people don’t even know how to properly write a check. Hey!!!

Balancing your checkbook shoul also be at the top of our financial goals. Here’s why: It will help you with

  1. The real time tracking of your money
  2. Avoid overdrafts and fees
  3. Helps with budgeting
  4. Supports you and your savings goals

TRACK YOUR TRANSACTIONS

When you write down every transaction as it occurs, you not only get an accurate rundown of your current bank account balance, but you’re also more aware of where you are spending your money. Always having an updated value for your bank account balance is especially helpful when you write a check, or need to withdrawal cash. You have a quick way of knowing if you have enough money in your bank account to cover it One of the first steps towards good financial management is accurate record keeping. Online banking can help when it comes to checking your transaction history and knowing your current checking account balance, but keeping a hard copy of your spending and taking the time to manually track your spending is more important. I have found that when people manually track their day-to-day spending, they are surprised on where their hard earned money is actually going. Those small purchases really add up and catch people off guard.

When recording transactions in your checkbook, make sure to record EVERY transaction. This includes checks that you write, debit card purchases, cash withdrawals, automatic bill payments, etc. If regular pen and paper is too old school for you, then make sure to check out online checkbook tools such as Checkbook for android & Balance My Checkbook for iphone 

COMMON MISTAKES/AND WHAT TO LOOKOUT FOR

The most common mistake when filling out a checkbook is forgetting to record a transaction all-together. Life happens, we are constantly in a hurry, and sometimes we just forget. To avoid missing transactions, I recommend recording the transaction at the time it happens. If you end having surplus in your checking account at the end of the month, then forgetting to record a written check might not be that important. However, if your checking account balance is low at the end of every month, knowing the exact amount in your bank account at all times is crucial.

When comparing your checkbook to your bank statements, remember that some transactions might not show up until the next bank statement. If you made a purchase on January 31st, it might not actually show up on your bank statement until February. You will have already recorded it for the month of January in your checkbook, so this could lead to some confusion.

BALANCING YOUR ACCOUNTS

Balancing your checkbook is a great way to be more aware of your spending habits, but it’s also a great tool to catch costly mistakes. Make sure to compare your manual checkbook with your account statements. When comparing the two, make sure that things match up. This means that what you recorded on your checkbook should match the transactions in your bank statement. If something is off, make sure to do some investigative work to figure out why they are not matching. Did you write down the wrong numbers? Did you forget to record a transaction? Maybe you missed an automatic payment? Did the bank or institution make a mistake?

When comparing my checkbook to my bank statement, I cross off things in my checkbook as I go along. It takes me about 15- 20 minutes a month to balance my account. If you don’t want to write down each transaction right away, then make sure to save your receipts throughout the day and add them to your checkbook at night. For us, my amazing husband usualy saves every receipt of any purchases he made during the day we have a place at home where we place all the receipt so I know where to find them when I’m ready to work at night.




HOW TO BALANCE YOUR CHECKBOOK

1. Find out your CURRENT balance. Log into your account online, or call your bank and find out the current balance on the account you are wanting to track. Write this balance in the box at the top of your checkbook labeled “Balance or Balance Forward.”Keep in mind that the balance you are currently seeing does not include uncleared checks or pending payments. Make sure to keep an eye on your account in the next couple of days in case your balance changes to reflect these transactions.

2. Record ALL Transactions. Write down any debits (money going out) and credits (money coming in) to your account. There are two columns in your checkbook to record these transactions. Each column labeled appropriately.

3. Label or fill out the description for each transaction. Some people choose to write down the store or institution where the transaction occurred. Some people choose to write down specific categories for each transaction such as food, utilities, mortgage, eating out, etc. This also helps with budgeting.

4. Update your transactions daily if you share the account with someone else. If both you and your spouse share the account, make sure that all transactions are being recorded by checking the account daily. If you can, try to have your spouse save their receipts throughout the day, so you can record them in your checkbook. This worked out best for my family. As I mention before my amazing husband would save his receipts during the day and keep them where they belong for me to record each night.




5. Compare your checkbook to your account statements at least once a month. Take 10-15 minutes to compare your checkbook to your account statement once it becomes available. Also make sure that all checks that you have been written have cleared your account. Record any interest that the bank may have paid you, and subtract any fees.

6. Finish balancing the account. Once everything matches, and all checks and transactions have cleared the account, draw two lines under the “Balance” amount in your checkbook. This will allow you to determine the last known correct amount in your checkbook. This will also give you a starting point when looking for errors the next time you balance your checkbook.

we’d love to hear from you. What are some ways you use to track your money? Do you use paper or online only?

REWARD YOURSELF FREE APPS THAT PUT MONEY BACK IN YOUR POCKET

 
Wouldn’t it be nice to make a little extra money on the side each month? 

We use all kinds of apps every day and I know that when it comes to all those so call reward programs most people are skeptical but, the truth is that, making money on the side does not always have to incolve a full blown small business. You can very easily make more money by doing things you already do or by doing things you love to do. We want to encourage you to earn a little extra cash (or gift cards) as a way to score some extra savings. Here is a roundup of some of our favorite ways to save money

We like SavingStarEbates  Checkout51, andSurveyMini, but our top two favorite programs are Ibotta and Swagbucks.

Savingstar




Before you shop, you select the offers that you want. After your shopping trip, you upload your receipt for processing OR simply link your local grocery store’s loyalty card with the app. You can choose for your cash to be deposited in your bank account, Paypal, or donated to a charity of your choice. What I like about SavingStar is that they usually have a “healthy offer of the week” where they list savings on produce. Coupons on produce are hard to come by, so its a great weekly score.

Ebates 

If you find that you do most of your shopping online why not get paid when you do? I do most of my own shopping online and one of my favorite ways to get cash back is via eBates.com

eBates is a website (and app) that gives you a percentage of your purchase back when you shop at one of the over 1,500 stores they are affiliated with. For instance, if you spend $100 at a specific online store affiliated with eBates and they offer 10% cash back, you will get $10 deposited into your eBates accounts.

eBates is set up so that your earnings can accumulate and so every 3 months they send you a check or make a deposit into your Paypal account.Initially I was a bit skeptical but I did some research and once I tried it, I was hooked. Basically eBates makes deals with retail stores and offers to drive sales to their websites by offering cash back discounts. They make money through commissions earned for each sale the retailer gets.




It’s free to setup and when you do you get a $10 bonus. It’s definitely a great way to earn some extra cash! They also have a great referral system where you can earn $5 for every person that sign up and uses their account make a purchase ( as long as they make a minimum purcahse of $25).

Checkout51

Is similar to Savingstar.You select products that you plan to purchase and upload your receipt after you purchase them. You usually get paid out in the form of a check after you have earned $20.

Surveymini

SurveyMini uses your location to find surveys from stores that you have frequented. It asks you some basic questions about your shopping trip and rewards you with points. Once you have earned enough points, you can cash out for giftcards. Some stores also offer you free drinks or entrees for completing the survey. Thats a win in my book!

ibotta

Have you started using IBOTTA yet?IBOTTA is the bomb when it comes to offering cash back on your grocery store purchases. Basically, it works in three ways: 




  1. You submit a receiptusing their app after you purchase a qualifying product
  2. You link a grocery store loyalty account
  3. In App purchases

Submit a receipt:

  1. Download the ibotta app.
  2. Unlock rebates: before you go shopping, unlock cash rewards by completing simple tasks (like watching short video clips, etc).
  3. Go shopping. Buy the products you’ve unlocked.
  4. Verify your purchases. Scan your product bar codes, and then submit a photo of your receipt
  5. Get cash. You will have your cash deposited into your Ibotta account within 48 hours. You can put your cash in your PayPal account, Venmo, or gift cards. 

Link a grocery store loyalty account:

  1. Sign up for IBOTTA (it’s free)
  2. Link your store loyalty account. Add your loyalty card number or associated phone number.
  3. Unlock rebates. Before you shop, unlock cashback rewards by completing simple tasks.
  4. Go shopping using your loyalty card or phone number at check out.
  5. Get cash. You’ll have the cash deposited in your IBOTTA account within 24 hours.

In App Purchases:

  1. Find & unlock mobileapps rebates. Before you shop, unlock cashback rewards.
  2. Launch app. Tap on the launch app button from the Ibotta app.
  3. Go shopping. Make a purchase within app. That’s it! You’ll receive a confirmation that the rebate is pending.Right now you’ll get $10 for usingmy referral link PLUS $10 for downloading the free app! (msugafb)

Swabucks




You Can Get Free Gift Cards For Shopping, Searching and Discovering What’s Online at Swagbucks.com

Are you using Swagbucks?Swagbucks is heaven. You get rewarded for doing things online, that you are likely already doing. When I choose reward programs to work with, I try to focus on ones that don’t cramp my style. In other words, ones that reward me for things I’m already doing. AKA I don’t have to do anything different in my life to get them. This includes: shopping online, watching videos, and finding deals online. You earn points by doing these tasks and then you turn those points into rewards– gift cards to tons of different places or cash back using PayPal. 

Check out Swagbucks! I use it to get free gift cards! Click my link to join:

http://www.swagbucks.com/?cmd=sb-register&rb=35235688&cmp=197&cxid=2003-app

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WHEN TRACKING YOUR MONTHLY EXPENSES PAY ATTENTION TO THESE 9 DETAILS

 
Remember the last time you went out to pick up groceries and ended up feeding the family at that nice restaurant you been wanting to try? Or did you just picked up fast food, and that nice teenager overcharged you for four adult meals instead of the four kids’ meals you ordered?

You weren’t too happy.

But, hey nobody’s perfect. Not you and not fast food employees. That’s why it’s so important to double-check your bills, receipts, premiums and paychecks before they end up costing you.

Pay attention!

OK, Here are nine more everyday scenarios where it pays to pay attention.

 

  1. Shopping Receipts

 

: Between fumbling for coupons and scanning the magazine rack, it’s easy to get distracted in the grocery store checkout lane. But before you exit those automatic glass doors, stop and read your receipt carefully. If a price doesn’t look right, or a coupon wasn’t applied properly, take it to the customer service counter and get your cash back. Even if it’s just a few bucks, it’syour few bucks.




2. Restaurant Tabs

After you’ve eaten your fill at the Pizza Palace, don’t blindly throw your debit card on the table when the check comes. Waiters are busy people. Make sure yours didn’t hit a button twice or charge you for that calamari you didn’t order. Even if there’s a line of customers out the door, slow down and read your receipt first. That’s your dough, not theirs.

3. Medical Bills

Doctor bills are about as easy to decipher as hieroglyphics. So don’t feel silly if you’re confused. Call the billing department right away and have them explain the charges in plain English. Even if you aren’t sure how to read the medical mumbo jumbo, look for red flags like identical charges or no mention whatsoever of your insurance company.Never pay a bill you don’t understand.

4.. Insurance Policies

As your home value increases, so should your insurance coverage. That means you need to call your insurance agent every year or so to guarantee you still have adequate protection. While you’re at it, ask for any eligible discounts you could be missing out on—like bundling, safe driver and loyalty discounts. It never hurts to ask.

5. . Settled Debts

You settled that old credit card debt years ago—at least you think you did. So why are they billing you again? After you pay back your agreed-upon amount, keep proof filed away forever. Then if you get a duplicate $5,000 statement down the road, you can confidently point out the company’s mistake and smile as you rip it up into teeny tiny pieces.

6.Yearly Taxes

Tax software is making it easier to file your taxes from home. But it’s also making it easier to miss costly mistakes if you don’t understand all the tax-speak. According to a survey of Dave Ramsey readers, people who use a tax professional ended up saving about $800 more on their taxes. Why? Because they paid someone else to pay attention!




7. Direct Deposits

When was the last time you actually looked at your paycheck? With direct deposit, it’s easy to assume everything made its way into your bank account correctly. But your employer isn’t above making a mistake. So whether you’ve changed your tax withholding, or you’re expecting a travel reimbursement, check your check every month! You work hard for your salary, so make sure you get it.
Whether money’s coming in or going out, you need to be aware of what’s going on. When you pay attention, you put money back in your wallet. And who doesn’t want more of that?
8.Identity Theft

Bad guys don’t alert you before stealing your money. The nerve! So be vigilant about checking your online accounts for unusual purchases (even $1 or less), as these lowlifes could be waiting to clean you out. It’s also a good idea to request your three free credit reports each year to be absolutely sure no one runs up debt in your name.
9. Extended Warranties

What are the chances you’ll actually need to replace your brand-new appliance anytime soon? About zero. And retailers know it. That’s why extended warranties are so lucrative. So if you see one of these charges crop up on your bill, kindly and quickly ask for it to be removed. Like, yesterday.
 

 

 



USE YOUR TAX RETURN TO START AN EMERGENCY FUND IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE

 
If there’s anything to like about income tax season, it’s the potential to get a nice fat check from Uncle Sam in the form of an income tax refund. And if we overlook (for just a moment) that your refund was always your money, then the bigger the better, right?

This extra income can reduce the level of stress that comes with every day’s routine, many people use their tax refund to purchase new items, like things they need for the house, services, products, vacations, some even a new car etc…

How are you planning on using your tax return?

We want to encourage you to at least start your emergency fund if you don’t have one. Using your tax return for your emergency fund will protect you from those rainy days, and it will give you the peace of mind to focus on all other areas of your life specially that one of paying off debt, saving for your kids college education and even saving for retirement.

But if you really want to maximize your refund this year, you need to work with a tax pro to file your taxes. Here’s why:





In a survey of 2,000 taxpayers, we found that people who file their own taxes get an average refund of $1,824. That’s not bad, right?

Well, get ready for a heart breaker. We wish it was all good news but

People who worked with a tax expert to file their taxes received an average refund of $2,615! That’s $840 more than the average self-filer!

There are plenty of reasons why working with a pro can result in a higher refund, but it mostly boils down to tax know-how. An experienced tax professional can keep you from making the mistakes that cost millions of taxpayers nearly $1 billion in overpaid taxes every year.

The benefits of working with a professional aren’t all about the size of your refund check. You’ll save yourself the 13 hours the average self-filer spends researching the tax code, gathering documents, and filling out forms by having trusted professional do it for you get the most of your return and invest it wisely. At the end of the day you should do what’s convenient for you, but do seriously consider building your emergency fund right now.