Budget

meal planning easierWith many people on the go and leading busy lives, meal planning has gained popularity. It can help you save money, eat healthier, and save time.

But what happens if meal planning seems more like a hassle? Here are a few tips and tricks to make meal planning easier and more effective.

Save Recipes

If you have recipes that you could eat all of the time, save them on your phone, computer, or even on sites like Pinterest. That way, if you are feeling uninspired while meal planning, you can take a quick peek at your list.

If you want to stay super organized and make meal planning easier, you can organize your recipes by type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.). Try to keep these meals simple and easy prep.

If you are saving your recipes via places like Evernote or your phone, remember to link the recipe or jot down the ingredients needed, especially if the recipe has more than five ingredients. This will keep you from searching for the recipe every time you want to use it.

Make Meal Planning Easier With Themes

To keep yourself from staring at your calendar every time you have to plan your meals, create a weekly theme.

For example, you could make soup on Mondays, pasta on Tuesdays, and so on. Not only will this make your meal planning easier, but it will also keep you from getting bored by eating the same meals over and over. ...continue reading

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budgeting

This guest post on budgeting is by Ryan Bonaparte, who last wrote for Add-Vodka in 2012 about common financial mistakes that young adults make. Ryan is a long-time writer and author, delving into topics including personal finance, technology, and career pursuits. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and fiercely independent cat.

Budgeting can be an amazing tool.

From the moment you begin to track where you’re spending your hard-earned money, budgeting can help you begin to understand what your habits are, where your priorities lie, and what goals you want to set in place. That’s a powerful place to be in life, as you can move past surviving paycheck to paycheck, and on to building a security net and further wealth.

I often talk to my friends about the power of moving my money away from the things I don’t care about (a bigger house) to the things I do care about (a nicer car). While you can’t have everything because of a budget, you can put budgeting into an action a plan to have anything with a bit of planning and hard work.

But efficiently earning and spending money is not the meaning of life. There are other factors to consider when deciding how to spend your money, and more importantly what to do with your life outside of budgeting. ...continue reading

We all have dreams and ambitions in life that require a huge amount of money. Some people might prefer getting a personal loan and fund their needs; while others may choose to abstain from increasing their debt burden and opt to take the longer route of saving.

However, starting to save is not always easy especially when doing it for the first time; and maintaining the discipline of saving at regular intervals is even harder for most people with a personal savings plan.  The following steps will help you to get started on the right footing; and when you are into the game of saving, they will help you to remain focused and maintain your regular deposits to your savings account.

Create a record of all your monthly expenses

Expenses are what deter us from saving and therefore the best place to start your saving journey is by noting them all down. These include the snacks you buy each day on your way to work, the amount you spend on newspapers, money spent on entertainment with friends and the regular monthly bills such as electricity, water, grocery, rent among others.

The goal here is to account for every dollar that goes out of your pocket in a given month. After listing all your monthly expenses you will then need to categorize them into major groups such as utilities, groceries, house rent etc. and then find the totals for each category in order to identify where you are spending much of your money.

Develop a monthly budget

Once you have a clear record of all your expenses arranged in order of their sizes, you then move on to listing all your regular income sources per month and sum them up to find your total monthly income. A comparison between your total expenses and your total income will then show you whether you are operating on a budget deficit or on a budget surplus. 

A deficit is a situation whereby your expenses exceed your income; while a surplus is a situation whereby your income exceeds your expenses. If you are having a budget surplus then you can maintain your monthly expenses at the same level and start saving the extra income.

Cut down your costs

If on the other hand  you are having a budget deficit, you will need to restructure your expenses and increase your income sources in order to first bridge the deficit gap and then start saving. A new job for an additional source of income might not come immediately and therefore the first step in bridging your budget deficit is to cut down on your monthly expenses. This will involve removing luxury cost items you can do away with from your budget and starting to survive with the basic things that enable you to live a decent life.

You will also need to make changes on your credit cards by shifting to credit cards with rewards and which charge lesser interest rates. This will help you to both reduce your monthly credit card expenses, as well as help you to earn pseudo-income every time you go shopping; through the loyalty points you get which you can redeem later on for actual goods and services at no extra cost.

Develop a concrete savings plan

After disciplining yourself to survive on basics of life and bridging your budget deficit, you will start earning surplus income that will need to be planned for in order to avoid wasting the money after accumulating it for a long period of time. The first step in planning your savings is setting a minimum amount that you shall be saving every month.

You then need to make your savings automatic in the sense that, instead of you withdrawing the money and depositing it to your savings account; you have a standing order such that your savings are deducted even before you can have access to your salary. This reduces the temptation to spend the amount meant saving and smoothens your savings plan.

Have a sound goal for saving

Saving just for the sake of it will only accumulate huge amounts of money in your bank account which you will eventually blow away in a wasteful manner over unplanned expenditure. To be more disciplined in your savings plan, you need to have a very sound objective for saving in the first place.

You could choose to save for your school fees, to buy a car, buy a home, for a vacation or any other thing that you value most. Having these bigger goals helps you to remain committed in your saving journey; and when the target is reached the money is utilized prudently in a valuable thing that improves the quality of your life.

When you start saving from scratch, the end always justifies the means. The sacrifices you make in terms of cutting down your expenses and looking for additional part-time engagements to boost your incomes; will only be valuable if the end goal is big enough to keep you committed to the course.