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Golden skeleton key on a stack of one hundred dollar bills.

The Amazing Key to the most Powerful Household Budget Ever!

The Amazing Key to the most Powerful Household Budget Ever! 

Lots of people talk about household budgets this time of year. With the holidays quickly fading in the rearview mirror, we’re motoring at full speed into a new year, full of optimism and powered by new resolutions. While some cruise down that road with apparent effortlessness, other will hit speed bumps or have collisions with unseen obstacles. The road to resolution heaven is often littered with derailed dreams.

What if there was a way to virtually guarantee that you could reach your money management goals: getting out of debt, increasing your savings, investing for retirement or finally setting up a budget that really worked?

What if there was a road to financial hope paved by scores of people who have gone before you? What if those people had a secret, a key that helped them to manage their money and navigate the road without incident, would you be willing to try their key?

There are hundreds of people and organizations who have produced starter budgets, envelope systems, budget worksheets, online systems and apps for managing money—it’s mind boggling how many options there are. As we’ve spoken around the country, we’ve talked to many of the users of these systems. We’ve also heard one recurring theme, “We tried it, it worked for a while, but we aren’t doing it now.”

And the sad thing is, that for most of these families, they saw SUCCESS while they used their system. Why did they quit? Was it circumstances beyond their control? Was the road too hard to navigate or the system too confusing? Was it taking too much time?

What is the key to finding the road to household budgeting success . . . hold on, we’ll show you.

“Beware of little expenses.
A small leak will sink a great ship

Benjamin Franklin

Old Ben was right, we need to pay attention to little leaks, small expenses, before they get bigger. And caught early enough, a small leak can be repaired with a small patch.

The amazing key to our household budget success is a simple little paper booklet that most people rarely use today.

The Register?  

The secret to budgeting success is in our checkbook registers. Okay, don’t give up on us yet! No kidding, this is a powerful tool, that can save you thousands of dollars every year if . . . you know how to use it.

You see, we both carry checkbook registers. Annette carries the master register with our running account total, and Steve carries a “satellite” version. The secret is that we write down our expenses as we spend—the large and the small.

And we don’t spend much cash at all — cash has a way of evaporating without a trace. All of our expenses and deposits (debits, bill pay, auto pays, direct deposits, gifts and others) are all written in our checkbook registers — it’s so simple and easy.

Some of our friends have said, “I don’t need to write things down, I just check my bank account Read More...

Making Money in 2016 Through Forex Trading

In an effort to understand more about making money and investing, we're asking finance experts to share their expertise with us.

Here's a little about our Guest Blogger: Leona Jones helps pass along her knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from University with a degree in economics she worked as a lecturer before jumping into the world of finance. Leona has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, she was a project manager for an investment research company. That being said she brings a good understanding of the finance field. 

Making Money Through Forex Trading

Many individuals make a new year's resolution that involves earning more money or becoming independent in terms of employment. These happen to be the very same advantages provided to those who decide to take a leap into home-based Forex trading.

Forex Trading consists of trading the currency from one country against another country’s currency. As such a concept may not be familiar to all, it is prudent to take a look at a handful of the most important benefits that this system provides as well as why choosing the best online trading platform is so very important.

The Personalised EdgeA major windfall of any home-based trading system is that the individual can choose how much or little is invested at any give time. This is especially relevant in terms of the Forex markets, for the minimum amounts are affordable to most budgets (particularly with those who are new to the industry). There are likewise a number of personal trading strategies to employ. Each of these (or a combination) will be based off of the preferences of the individual. When one happens to find the correct approach, earning extra income may be only a few clicks away.

Short-or Long-Term Liquidity

One distinct advantage of the Forex markets is that many choose these vehicles as a source of short-term liquidity. In fact, some will trade only a few hours each day and still be able to substantially supplement their existing income. The same holds true for those who may wish to use such funds for long-term purposes such as a supplemental retirement plan or providing for the education of a child. With so many different liquid options to choose from, it is no great surprise that the Forex markets are immensely popular options.

A Choice of Commitment

Countless individuals appear to be trapped within their current jobs. In truth, this can lead to unhappiness and a feeling of general stagnation. Home-based Forex trading is the direct antithesis of such a position. One can choose to perform only a few trades each month or instead get into the habit of monitoring the markets on a daily basis and eventually embrace a more full-time trading approach. There are already tens of thousands of traders who eventually made this very same transition. While becoming a full-time trader may not necessarily be the vision of everyone, the fact is that for some families this can be a way to add supplimental income.

Making money and developing a steady income stream is directly related to the type of trading platform that is used. As one may already suspect, no two are ever alike. Some are meant for novices while others are intended to be used by professionals. Likewise, different investment levels are often associated with access to additional trading tools. This can be envisioned much in the same way as building a house from the foundation upwards. The more experience one accrues, the more versatile systems can become available. Companies such as Read More...

Grocery receipt in front of veggies.

What’s Reasonable for Food?

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Love your book “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half” and love both of the audio seminars (groceries and budgeting) I bought from you too! They really motivate me. I am pretty good at managing a frugal food budget and we also have a nice garden that produces enough food that we can preserve some.

Here’s my question: what is a reasonable budget for groceries and for restaurant meals for me and my husband each month (we’re in our 50’s)? We lump all food (eating out or at home) together and also any household supplies.

Thanks for the great job you do for all of us!!!!

Answer:

It’s so hard for us to give you a specific number for what you should be spending. It’s all a factor of: Your earnings, current fixed expenses (house payment, insurance, car payments if any, medical expenses etc) and your dietary needs.

For groceries, the average we’ve seen for “non-frugal” families is about $200 per person per month—for you and your husband $400 per month. By contrast we spend about $70 per person per month

We would definitely have separate budget categories for groceries and eating out.

For groceries start with what you are currently spending and evaluate if you think you could spend less by being more disciplined or shopping smarter. Then use the savings to fund debt reduction, retirement, vacation or a special event.

As far as eating out, again that’s going to be determined by your other expenses. If you’re trying to reduce debt or pay off a house, then you might want to spend less on eating out. If you’re debt free and have built your savings and retirement plans, then you may feel free to spend more. Regardless of what your financial situation is, we’ve always tried to limit eating out to special occasions or date nights rather than making it a weekly default just because we don’t want to cook. We do this for two reasons: 1) It’s so expensive and; 2) it’s hard to eat a healthy diet when you eat out often.

We’re not talking about feeling deprived; we’re encouraging you to live on purpose—making choices that benefit you physically, emotionally and financially.

What is a reasonable Grocery budget for our family? Reader question.

Jumping man with floating money all around him.

How to make the Best Budgets for Savvy Spending

What Kind of Budgeting System will work best for you?

Lots of people talk about having a budget for their money.

Lots of people want to budget.

And lots of people start to budget . . . but then stop.

We’ve discovered that there almost as many ways to budget as there are people talking about it. There are expensive systems, cheap systems, apps, websites and grandma’s system for budgeting. With so many choices, it’s hard to know which one is right!

Honestly, there is no “Right Way” or “Only Way” to budget your money.

More or Less   Successful budgeting depends less on the system and more on the consistency of the person using the system.

A budget isn’t a sheet of paper, a spreadsheet or an app, with all of your anticipated monthly expenses listed in orderly columns, filled out in January and then forgotten. That worksheet, while it might be somewhat accurate, isn’t going to help you manage your money on a week in and week out basis.

Consistent use of whatever system you choose is the key to budgeting success. And for us, consistent means that we reconcile, balance or “do” our budget twice each month.

We’ll discuss how we do our budget in another article, but for now, we want to identify the three different types of budgeting systems we’ve seen used successfully by families we know.

1) The Cash Envelope System

While many people may think that this type of system was invented by popular radio host Dave Ramsey that just isn’t so. Envelope budgeting has been around for as long as there have been envelopes (about 3000 years).

Using a cash system is one of the easiest ways to control those budget categories that can quickly be overspent. A family usually doesn’t overspend on Fixed Expenses like utilities, car payments or a mortgage. However, Variable Expenses like eating out, date nights, clothes shopping or grocery shopping are quite a different story.

Theses variable expense budget categories are perfect candidates for using cash envelopes because of the temptation to overspend and because most people just aren’t sure what they have been spending each month.

Visual Cues

Because cash is tangible and visible, being able to look inside your recreation envelope to see that you only have $6 and 37 cents left for the week provides a perfect visual cue to select an affordable option, find a coupon or simply do something that costs nothing.

Easy Budgeting 

The beauty of cash envelopes is in the weekly set up. Many people have a simple list of cash they need to take out of each weekly / bi-monthly paycheck; go Read More...

granola cereal with blueberries on top

Sneaky and Inexpensive Ways to Eat Healthier this Year

The number one New Year’s Resolution is to loose weight and number two is to get finances in order.

We hope this article will inspire you if you’ve made either of these resolutions this year.

We’re always looking for easy ways to improve our health and nutrition. Here are four ways can we eat healthier without going to extremes.

Eat Less Sugar 

In 1822 the average American consumed 3285 grams of sugar each year—7.25 pounds. That’s like consuming the amount of sugar contained in one 12-ounce can of soda, once every 5 days.

Today we each consume about 55,845 grams of sugar each year (about 124 pounds). Forbes made a great inforgraphic of this topic.

As a nation increased sugar consumption and other highly processed foods are taking us down a path of poor health. Check out this Huffington Post article if you don't believe us.

We like sweets just like most of you. Chocolate chip cookies, Heath bars, Dove dark chocolate, chocolate pudding . . . pretty much anything containing chocolate is a weakness for us. But we have come up with some painless ways to reduce our sugar consumption.

Modified Recipes  We’ve successfully reduced (by a little bit) the amount of sugar used in several recipes and found the taste just as enjoyable. Honey and Stevia can also be used as substitute sweeteners.

Cold Cereal  We made a rule when our kids were young that when we have cold cereal (about 2 times each week) we had to mix a healthy (unsweetened cereal) with a sugary cereal. We all have enjoyed this rule.

More Water  If you drink a lot of soda, try substituting a glass of water a couple of times each day. Drinking water has become the norm in our home. We carry water bottles with us wherever we go. We installed a triple filter water system (for about $60) and have great tasting water all of the time.

Eat more fruits and veggies

Everyone knows that fresh fruits and veggies contain more good nutrients and fiber than potato chips or other prepared food. But to many people they just aren’t as appealing. Here are some ways we have made them more attractive in our family.

Spend Less — Buy what’s in Season. .

Because produce can now be easily imported from other countries or regions, you can buy apples and oranges all year long. But by far the least expensive way will be when you can buy locally grown produce in season.

Here’s an overview of seasonal produce. Check with your produce manager or local county extension service for more exact information for your area.

Summer Read More...

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