Double Your Down Payment Savings

Double Your Down Payment Savings

Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Saving & Investing
Buying a home is a big financial goal, however saving for the down payment can be a major roadblock. There are several different routes to achieving this goal. When the lease on the apartment my boyfriend and I rent was nearing expiration, we considered buying a home. In the process, we discovered a savings program, called a ‘matched savings’ program, to help speed up down payment savings.Matched savings programs are also called Individual Development Accounts (IDA) and are generally offered by nonprofits and/or government agencies in local areas. There are three things these programs can be used to fund.Buying a homeOpening a small businessSaving for college/job training.As you probably gathered from the name, when you enroll in one of these programs every dollar you deposit is matched. Depending on the…
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Are the Budget Blues Bringing You Down?

Are the Budget Blues Bringing You Down?

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
If you’ve followed my writing, I’m sure you’ve noticed several articles on budgeting. Why so many? Because a budget is one of the most valuable tools for understanding, managing, and growing your money. Yet it seems to me that many people break-out in a cold sweat the moment I say “budget”. If the B-word induces anxiety in you to the point you can’t bring yourself to write one, try changing your terminology. A budget is just a plan for how you are going to spend your money, so try calling it a “Spending Plan”. Using a Spending Plan is a small lifestyle adjustment to help you reshape your spending habits. It takes time and practice to write and use Spending Plans that are reasonable and accurate, but as you develop…
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Plan your Meals; Plan your Spending

Plan your Meals; Plan your Spending

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Relationships & Money, Take Action
Making food at home is an easy way to trim your spending, but it can often feel difficult to fit in cooking, and clean-up, within daily life. A few months ago, my boyfriend and I started meal planning to save money and eat healthier and so far, we’re achieving our goal. There are different kinds of meal planning. In one of the most popular methods, you plan and prepare every single meal for the week in one day. We chose to adapt this method slightly and only plan our meals for the week, but planning and preparing on the same day is very effective for many people. Here is some more information on the strategy, as well as a guide to help you start out. Because Sunday is our day…
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How Do You Know What You Can Deduct?

How Do You Know What You Can Deduct?

Entrepreneurship / Making Money, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement
It’s tax time and that can be stressful. It can also be a time where people feel hopeful about receiving a large refund for taxes overpaid during the year. In order to fully understand this process, it is important to recognize that your refund is for taxes that you paid during the year that are more than your tax burden should be based on your income and expenses. This seems simple enough, but many people feel sheepish about taking the full benefit of their write-offs. This is silly however, because a write-off represents your expense while contributing to the the economic value of our economy. Sometimes it’s hard to know what is acceptable to deduct and what isn’t. Because most people would rather have a root canal without anesthesia than…
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Don’t Drive into Debt

Don’t Drive into Debt

Budgeting, Debt, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
Now that tax, and tax return, season is upon us, maybe you’re thinking about purchasing a car. A tax return can make a solid down payment. Because cars are a depreciating investment, it is important to find a reliable car that fits your budget and won’t break down, causing extra bills and stress1. What do you need from a vehicle? Before you even start looking, you need to know what you’re looking for. It's easy to buy a vehicle for emotional reasons, but because it's a large expense, buying a practical car is a huge benefit to your financial well being. Do you haul trailers or equipment frequently? Are you a commuter? Do you have a family or have hopes to start one in the future? All of these questions will…
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Is the Mortgage Tax Deduction in Your Best Interest?

Is the Mortgage Tax Deduction in Your Best Interest?

Debt, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Saving & Investing, Take Action
So tax season is upon us, and if you’re paying on a mortgage, you probably feel pretty excited about the home mortgage tax deduction that comes with it. After all, everyone says that you should hold off on fully repaying your mortgage because the tax deduction saves you money. Unfortunately, that common sense advice isn’t really sensible at all, and may actually be costing you money. The home mortgage tax deduction is a type of itemized tax deduction that allows you to reduce your taxable income by the amount you paid in interest. This deduction combines with all other itemized tax deductions and if that total exceeds the standard deduction it will take its place. Now, you can claim up to two homes for this deduction, and the definition of…
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Where Does Your Money Go?

Where Does Your Money Go?

banking, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Saving & Investing
Have you ever had such a terrible customer service experience or been charged so many fees at your bank that you seriously considered closing your accounts, but didn’t because, well, would another corporate bank be any different? Credit unions are a viable alternative to big banks. After a terrible customer service experience, this was exactly the course I took. There are always considerations when changing banking institutions. Your number one concern should always be bank fees. While credit unions will often have lower fees than a corporate bank, this is not always the case and should never be taken for granted.So what exactly is a credit union? A “cooperative financial institution chartered by the federal government and owned by individual members”. This means that when you put your money in…
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Romance on a Budget

Romance on a Budget

Budgeting, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Relationships & Money
So Valentine’s Day is 10 days away and you still don’t have a gift for your significant other. Don’t worry, I’ve also been procrastinating, but we’re going to get through this together. I’ve compiled a list of low-budget gifts and dates to help us make Valentine’s a success on a budget. 1. Do-It-Yourself Date Rather than spending a bunch of money on a meal in a fancy restaurant, consider making a special meal at home. Set the mood with some candles, some flowers, music of choice, and maybe a tablecloth. It will cost you money for ingredients and some time in cooking, but you don’t have to deal with crowds, you don’t have to tip, and you already have the best seat in the house reserved. If you don’t have time…
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A Rose on Any Other Day

A Rose on Any Other Day

Budgeting, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Relationships & Money
If you’ve recently visited a store, you know Valentine’s Day is almost here. I’m a huge romantic sap and love the idea of Valentine’s Day, but the hype is a little out of control. Yes, chocolate is delicious and roses are pretty, but they are also expensive extras. While it is definitely important to take time to appreciate your significant other, and Valentine’s Day is a good day to do so, it’s important not to break the bank in the process.Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday this year. My boyfriend and I both work all day, and  after a long day at work I'm about as romantic as a bag of potato chips. So we’ve decided to wait and celebrate a few days after when it fits our schedule better.…
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Follow Your Funds

Follow Your Funds

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Take Action
There’s always pressure to make changes around the new year. Aside from my annual resolution to exercise more, this year I decided to track of my spending. Unlike exercise, it’s an easy habit to maintain, and like exercise it improves my long term well-being.The last time that anyone stressed the value of tracking your spending to me was in middle school when we learned about balancing checkbooks. I occasionally started a log in high school but never maintained it. In college, I didn’t even attempt to keep track, I would just periodically check my bank account balance online. As years went by, this system became less and less sustainable. I decided to make two big changes to the way I spend. 1) I use cash for most of my daily…
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