Apr 21 2017

How to Save Money When You’re a Spender at Heart

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Let’s face it: some of us just love to spend money. It’s not that we like parting with our hard-earned cash; we just enjoy getting new things! It’s understandable in a consumer culture. We’re constantly being inundated with advertisements encouraging us to spend, spend, spend! A 2016 poll conducted by Credit.com revealed that 5 out of 6 Americans buys on impulse, and 54 percent of those studied have spent $100 or more.

 

While these numbers are startling, there is hope for hopeless spenders. Even shopping addicts can save money without completely giving up their habit. The key is to be conscious about what you buy and make saving as much as a priority as acquiring new things. With a little self-discipline and a good budgeting system, spenders at heart can learn to save more with the following tips.

 

Declutter your space. Cleaning out your space forces you to take stock of what you already own, and how much money you’ve spent to acquire all of it! This exercise offers the perspective necessary to curb your unnecessary spending. Start with one room and organize items into things you can donate, things you can sell and things to throw away. Though it takes discipline to let go, you’ll find you appreciate the things you kept much more than you did when they were cluttered up by items you didn’t value.

 

Create a budget (and stick to it). Getting financially organized starts with a concise budget. Map out your monthly expenses and income so you have a clear picture of where your money goes. Whether you prefer to write it down in a notebook or tend to be more digitally driven, there are several free resources to help get organized. Sticking to your budget requires revisiting and adjusting it throughout the year since spending needs fluctuate over time. What’s more, closely monitoring your budget allows you to track changes and see progress in your savings goals, which is highly motivating!

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Pay yourself first. Effortlessly contribute funds to your own savings by automating your deposits. Don’t wait until the end of the month to transfer money into savings; instead, automate a transfer between checking and savings at the beginning of every paycheck. This allows you to siphon money away so you won’t be tempted to spend it. You’ll be surprised how quickly savings add up and how much you don’t miss the extra funds!

 

Consider the big picture. We all have financial goals we want to achieve, and our spending often sabotages our progress. Consider the big picture before you waste money on more clothes, takeout or whatever your spending vice is. Momentary pleasure is not as satisfying as investing in something bigger, like a vacation or paying off a debt. Concentrating on larger goals will help you to prioritize your spending and make it easier to curb unnecessary purchases.

 

Identify your triggers. If shoes are your spending weakness, it’s best to not tempt yourself to purchase them! Try not to visit stores where you’re prone to spend. Similarly, avoid opening retail emails advertising sales or discounts. In fact, you’re better off unsubscribing from these emails altogether. Though they provide an opportunity to save money, these messages tempt you to spend when you weren’t planning to. Instead, use a coupon website to find deals when you’re ready to treat yourself. You can use these American Eagle coupons at Coupon Sherpa, for example, or any retail store you prefer.

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Steer clear of credit cards. If you tend to be a spender, your credit card is simultaneously your best friend and your worst enemy. Get rid of the temptation by “breaking up” with your credit cards. Whether you literally freeze them or cut them up, removing the ability to accrue debt will help you focus your funds on paying it off. Avoiding credit cards also forces you to use money you actually have, which is a healthy habit to start! Once you get used to this strategy, you can reincorporate credit cards into your spending regimen by charging only those expenses you can pay off immediately. Responsible credit card use will contribute to a higher credit score and can yield rewards like travel miles and cash back.

 

Shop with good influences. Though shopping is a social occasion, beware of who you shop with; we all have those friends who enable us to spend! You don’t have to always shop solo, however; try challenging your friends to adopt better spending habits too, and keep each other in check when you shop. Set a budget for your trip and encourage yourself and your friends not to exceed it. Peer pressure works both ways!

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Adopt a spending rule. Wait 24 hours, one week, one month — whatever works for you personally — before you make an impulse buy. More often than not, you’ll find your desire for a particular item wanes with time. If the urge does not go away, this will also give you time to save up for the particular purchase. Rewarding yourself from time to time isn’t harmful as long as it doesn’t become a habit and you give it a good amount of thought first.

This blog uses affiliate links and maintains financial relationships with various partners.

Posted under Frugal living | 1 Comment »
Feb 14 2017

Everything You Should Know About Filing Your Taxes for the First Time

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This blog uses affiliate links and maintains financial relationships with various partners.

Everything You Should Know About Filing Your Taxes for the First Time

Filing your taxes for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience.  After all, the IRS means business when it comes to taxes.  Perhaps you fear that you will make a mistake and the secret IRS police will come into your classroom and take you away.  Or rather, you may be unsure as to whether you are actually getting the most out of your return.  You may have many preconceived notions about what the IRS is like, making you terrified of making a mistake when you file.  However, these issues should not burden you.  This article is meant to dispel the common fears regarding tax season by educating you on everything you need to know about filing your taxes for the first time.

Obtain all of your W-2 Forms

Many students start off working multiple jobs.  This is often the case in college or during summer breaks.  Perhaps you started with one job, found you had extra time or did not make enough money, and then you gained another.  Or perhaps you quit one job for another, higher paying job.  You may have easily gone through three jobs in a year, so it is important to keep note of the jobs you have had.  Furthermore, make sure all of your jobs, past and present, have updated information as to your current address.  Make the process smoother by having the human resource department send your W-2 directly to you and not to your parents or an old apartment.

Check for Mistakes

The first thing you should do before you file is to check your statements for any errors.  Your human resource department will not always be perfect, so it is always possible that they will make errors on your return.  Check your W-2 for any errors in the spelling of your name, job position, and especially your social security number.  If there is even one mistake, it is best to let your human resources department know so they can fix it and you can receive a new W-2.  Secondly, you should check for any errors in your filing status and any taxes withheld.  If it doesn’t match with your original W-4, let your job know to prevent further discrepancies with the IRS.

Remember You Cannot Claim Exemptions if you are a Dependent

Unfortunately, you will likely not get as much out of your return if you are still listed as a dependent.  If you are unsure, ask your parents before filing.  This is a common mistake students make.  The IRS states that a dependent is either a qualifying child or qualifying relative who meets age requirements, full-time student status, or income.  Investigate the details to be sure you are not a dependent.

Always File

Whether you owe or you are owed a return, you should always file.  Tax law states that any student who earned less than $6,100 in the tax year does not have to file.  This may be a relief to you if you forgot to file, however, you are missing a huge opportunity if you choose not to file.  Because that amount makes up for such a small income, you can earn much of that money back. Not only that, but filing every year will get you in the habit of making it a priority so you always have accurate records.

Reach Out for Help

Many students reach out for extra assistance when they go to file their taxes.  If you already find yourself in a complicated tax position, it is especially important. While accounting software can help you itemize all of your taxes and deductions, a tax professional can teach you so much more.  By hiring a professional or talking to companies that help people with tax debt, you can get services with a human touch.  You can ask questions to a live person who can educate you on tax law and help outline your financial future.

Filing your taxes doesn’t need to be scary. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be an old pro at filing in no time.

 


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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (8), Vivienne (6) and Amelia (3) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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