Your Budget Goals – Is It Time To Revise?

bgbudgetOdds are that you routinely re-evaluate the big choices that you make in your life all of the time. As you become more educated about the benefits of a healthy diet, you might make changes to the foods you eat. Completing a degree might make you reconsider your career choice. A change in your family situation might even make you rethink the house you own. As the circumstances around you change, it only makes sense to re-evaluate other parts of your life.

Re-evaluating your budget than re-evaluating any other part of your life. As you achieve your goals you will need to set new ones – and be sure to be on the lookout for anything that could be a budget helper. As you struggle to make some goals, you may realize that you might need to reconsider those goals. Whatever the outcome of your old budget goals, it’s always a good idea to assess them and determine which ones still work for you and which ones need replacing.

Savings Goals
Savings goals commonly need to be re-evaluated every time you meet your goal. For instance, if you were saving to pay for a winter vacation, you don’t want to simply stop saving after you have paid for you trip. Think ahead to your next vacation, or other major purchase, and start putting away the money you’ll need for it. If your income increases, you may want to consider putting all of that increase (or at least a good portion) towards your savings goal to fund it faster.

Debt Reduction Goals
Debt reduction goals are another type of goal that is in constant need of updating. If you set a goal to pay off one line of credit, maybe a consumer charge card like a Lowe’s card, you’ll need to set a new goal once you’ve paid that account in full. Tackle the next debt on your list of debts and make paying it off your new goal.

Unaccomplished Goals
Sometimes, through no fault of your own, you just can’t make one of your goals happen. Maybe your goal was to pay off your credit card debt in 2010. Then you were laid off from your job in June and took three months to find a new job. It’s just not realistic to think you would still be able to pay off your credit card debt in the time you originally allotted. The important thing to do in these situations is to recognize that your original goal isn’t going to happen and set a new goal in its place. Instead, try something like not accumulating any additional credit card debt while you’re between jobs. You just need to make sure that you’re working towards something.

Re-evaluating your budget goals doesn’t have to be a monumental task. By simply keeping in touch with your financial situation, you won’t find it hard to recognize when you’ve met a goal or when a goal has been placed outside of your reach. Keeping your budget goals in line with your changing life is the best way to guarantee financial success.

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How to Be a Good Person When You Don’t Have the Time

Stressed For TimeThe following article is a guest post.  The benefits of giving back to your community are obvious: You make a noticeable positive impact on the lives of struggling people and animals around you. Giving back also has direct benefits to you in the form of reduced stress, improved relationships, and conserved resources. However, Americans today are busier than they ever have been, which means many people feel they don’t have the time or energy to give back in a meaningful way. Before you dismiss charitable activities entirely, consider these easy and scalable methods of giving back to your community. You’ll be glad you did.

Donate

The absolute easiest way to help your community is to donate your money or goods instead of your time. It takes seconds to donate money on a charity’s website, or minutes to drop off your unwanted stuff at a donation center, so you should be able to squeeze some giving back into any hectic schedule.

Donating may sound like a cop-out, but there are several ways that donating helps charities — and you — more than volunteering. Sometimes charities can be overwhelmed with volunteer applications; for example, soup kitchens are inundated with helpful do-gooders every Thanksgiving, and all those extra volunteers actually slow down the process instead of helping it. At times like these, kitchens would prefer individuals’ donated food items over their physical presence.

Additionally, donating helps you de-clutter your life of unnecessary junk; you can give back to the community by donating your unused boat and clear out your driveway, or donate your old appliances and treat yourself to some newer and more energy-efficient ones. There are as many ways to donate as to volunteer, and donating fits handily into a busy life.

Schedule Volunteering in Advance

Even if you have your schedule filled up for the next few months, somewhere in your calendar you have an empty three hours you can fill with community-oriented activities. Many community events are scheduled weeks if not months ahead of time, which means you have the opportunity to look pretty far in the future and get an idea of what volunteer opportunities will be available. Planning a volunteer event well in advance allows you to schedule other activities around the period you’ll be giving back to your community, so you’ll have time for everything.

Incorporate Charitable Activities Into Your Regular Life

VolunteerFor many people, work isn’t the major calendar hog; instead, it’s the myriad social engagements required by their kids or clubs that gobble the space in their schedules. Many people are reluctant to cancel a monthly mah-jong game with the friends they rarely see, for example. Instead of cancelling one or the other, volunteering and social activities can easily be merged in various fun and functional events. You can host a luncheon or a gala and encourage your friends to donate their money to your worthy cause, or you can ask your mah-jong group to meet up at a volunteer event one day instead of your regular brunch place — your social needs are met, and you’re able to give back to the community to boot.

Alternatively, for those whose jobs really are the time-suck, free time becomes exceedingly precious, so using up a couple to volunteer means no time at the gym that week. There are plenty of activities that combine hobbies and charitable fundraising. If you’re a runner, you can consider signing up for a marathon and asking friends and family to sponsor your efforts and contribute to the hosting charity. If you’re a knitter, you can make blankets, clothes, and toys and give them to the needy, like children confined to the hospital or elderly left alone in care homes. There are as many opportunities to be charitable as there are hobbies, so see if your favorite activity can translate into community benefit.

Encourage Your Work to Be Charitable

If you can’t give back to your community directly, try to do it indirectly by creating incentives for your employees and coworkers to volunteer and donate. There are plenty of programs across the country that work alongside workplaces to make communities better places to live. If you are a higher-level manager or director at your company, make a difference in your community by encouraging the rest of your business to give back. While you’re toiling away, trying to complete everything in your jam-packed schedule, you can be sure you’re helping the community through the many hands of your dedicated workers.

 

 

6 Tips To Reduce Your Grocery Bill

Grocery ShoppingOne of the areas of our spending that I must constantly monitor is our food expenses. With the continuing food price creep, I found our spending can really spiral out of control if I’m not really watching it closely. I keep a running total of how much I’ve spent to help me stay on budget throughout the month. When I see the grocery budget is running low, I get really creative with the meals. Here are a few ways that I’ve been able to whittle our grocery bill down every month:

Plan a Menu
I’ve found that making a weekly menu (and forcing myself to stick to it) has really helped to lower our grocery bill. Every Sunday I sit down and look through the pantry to see what I already have on hand, then I make a daily list of what we’ll eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I post it on the fridge so everyone in the family knows what to expect for meals the coming week.

Meatless Meals
Adding a few meatless meals into our week has also helped to decrease our grocery spending. Egg or bean burritos, salad and soup nights, as well as “breakfast for dinner” have all been favorites in our household.

Cooking From Scratch
I’ve mentioned several times in the past that I’m not a great cook, but I do know how to make a few of the basics. My bread machine gets used every day. A fresh loaf of bread or breadsticks combined with a salad and simple soup makes a complete and filling (but inexpensive) meal.

Buy One Get One FreeStock Up on Sales
Every week when the grocery sale ads come out I look them over to see what items are on sale that I regularly use. When I find a good sale on an item I stock up on it so that I won’t be buying it again until it comes back on sale. Since I do a lot of my shopping at Publix, I really like their buy one get one free sales (BOGO). I’ve been most successful using this method with cereal – I don’t think I’ve paid full price for a box of cereal this year.

Freezer Meals
Inspired by some other bloggers, I’ve taken to preparing meals that I can store in my freezer. This has been tremendously helpful not only timewise, but dollar wise as well.

Coupon Codes
Of course, any discussion about grocery savings wouldn’t be complete without mentioning how coupon codes can also help you to save money. To really maximize the savings with coupons, I always try to pair them with an existing sale. Some of the best deals I’ve gotten have centered around coupon stacking – a method whereby you combine a store sale, with a manufacturer’s coupon. I can save quit a bit using coupons when I purchase the items during Publix’s BOGO sales. I usually find my coupons in the newspaper inserts.

What are your best tips for keeping your grocery budget in check?