100 Personal Finance Posts that Can Help You Save

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Recently an interesting website came to my attention, Accounting Degree.com; in this site there are various articles posted concerning accounting degrees, however one of the most recent posts is quite amazing.

The title of this post if 100 Important Personal Finance Posts for Women, and as the title describes, there are 100 posts within the article that can help you manage your personal finances.

The author went through each blog post and has gone to categorizing them from Relationships and Marriage, Getting out of Debt even Frugality. The author also went to even greater lengths by having a short description of what each blog post entails. By doing this you have an introduction of what the postis about and you can make a decision as to go to read the actual blog post.

I cannot begin to describe how great it is to have all this information in one location.

I myself have only begin to scratch the surface of these 100 posts, but let me tell you the posts are informative and get to the point, which allows you to learn the lesson well.

I hope you can take the time to have a look at it, and if you do not have time to go through them all, at least examine the sections and review what posts might be able to help you in your finances.

Personally, I had a look the Investing Section, post number 84. How to Invest in the Stock Market via Stocks, ETFs and Mutual Funds. It was a great piece for a beginner like me looking to get into investing. I still have a long way to go before I jump in but this post was quite helpful.

When you have some time, head over to the 100 Important Personal Finance Posts for Women article, and you will be surprised with the quantity of information at your disposal.

Spending What You Save

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On the weekend an opportunity presented itself as to allowing me to purchase an item I have been on wanting for quite some time, however I always felt that the price would hold me back.

The item in question is a MacBook pro, and in all honesty they are among the greatest laptops I have ever used, but I always found them to be extremely expensive and thought that my money could go towards more practical uses.

Back to my story, on the weekend a friend called and explained that he bought a MacBook Pro two weeks ago, and recently acquired another model he actually wanted. He offered to sell me the MacBook Pro slightly cheaper since it was partially used, which made the deal something I had to consider because of the price these great machines usually go for.

Now the dilemma I faced was whether to actually dip into my savings account and make the purchase. Having saved for quite sometime, and met the goals I had made recently, I was not sure whether I wanted to part with the money I spent saving.

What I quickly realized was that not only was the offer great, but by passing up on it I would not even be taking my own advice. Saving without a purpose is somewhat pointless, and it would lead me on the path of not even getting a chance to enjoy my own money.

Without much more delay I made the decision and purchased the MacBook Pro.

It has only been two days since I made the purchase, but I can honestly say that this decision is among the best I have ever made in my life.

The moral here is always purchasing a MacBook Pro (only kidding), it actually is always evaluate your options, and whenever in doubt look at it from the perspective as to what are you really saving for?

You should not be afraid to spend your money, it is what you earned, and in reality if you were able to save in the first place it can always be done again.

Starting to Save Again

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After making a recent purchase, I find looking at my savings account to be quite abysmal; however it allows me to make a bigger goal than the last, which in turn would let me reach a point where I would save even more money.

What I do when saving for a specific goal, would be to reach the amount I need to make the purchase, however I go further to not drain all of the amount in my savings back to 0.

By doing this I would already have a head start in my savings for my next goal, making it easier to save.

Once you have already started saving, the process becomes easier, as you have already been doing it for so long. In my case, when I see money in my savings account, I have the urge to see it grow even more. Making it my goal to reach the amount necessary for the new goal I have made.

With a bit of discipline, saving can become second nature to you.

Always review your expenses, and you must discern what is necessary and what is a luxury. By doing this, you will be able to find even more ways to save.

I found myself spending $80 a week on lunch alone; I decided to pack a lunch for at least 4 days out of the week and had even more money to put away into my savings.

Looking for little ways to save will help you reach your goal in no time.

Recording Your Expenses ASAP

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I recently wrote an article concerning with you keeping track of your budget. A reader raised my awareness as to writing down what you have spent ASAP, which I never thought about during writing that article.

After some time searching the internet, I found a great way to record any expenses, before you forget about them.

The method is using Xpenser. Xpenser is a website that will allow you to record expense through whatever means are available to you. You can record expenses via Email, SMS, Twitter, IM, voice, or using your iPhone.

All expenses will be available on the Xpenser site, and you can also export it to applications of your choice such as Excel, Quicken, MS Money and FreshBooks.

Here is how Xpenser works, you simply use one of the methods to record your expenses, and it will be sent to your account on Xpenser.

When you send in the expense, you can put what it was used for and where, which will also show up in the expense report.

From there you can go onto your account on Xpenser, and further organize your expenses into separate reports.

A great feature is how you can create a private RSS feed, which will appear in Google reader or any other RRS feed reader.

You are also able to set balances and starting budgets, which will help you keep track of your spending.

Right now Xpenser is free, however in the future there will be premium accounts, which will carry a monthly fee. The goal Xpenses has it to keep the base product free, and charge for longer data retention and other services.

I find Xpenses a great way to record your expenses ASAP, as it really is only an SMS away, or email.

Quick Tax 2009 Review & Prize

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With the time to file our taxes fast approaching we are faced with different methods of doing so. Many people will take the option of filing their own taxes, without the aid of any adviser, which can make the process inexpensive.

A great option for people, who do file their own taxes, would be to use QuickTax 2009. QuickTax is the #1 selling tax software in Canada, partially due to the many features it offers.

The standard version of QuickTax 2009, is perfect for the typical Canadian who is interested in doing taxes themeselves. The standard edition is quick easy and to the point. It literally took me 15 minutes to do my taxes in a test run with the software. However, there is also a premium version, which does provide some additional benefit for investors.

To distinguish between what to get, consider the complexity of you’re your tax return, if it is simple, then the basic version would be your best choice. Obviously, if you have income coming from different sources it might be a benefit for you to try out the premium version.

QuickTax 2009 is easy to install; with just a few clicks you will have the software installed.

QuickTax 2009 includes a great feature called “EasyStep Interview”, which provides help through every step of your return. It honestly is simple, they ask you legitimate questions that can help you get more money on your return.

Another brand new process is the Life changing profiling within the EasyStep Interview. It points out any tax implications based exactly on what happened in 2009.

With the Basic version, you receive support by email and phone, also step-by-step guidance that includes government-approved forms and any calculations, which are guaranteed to be accurate.

Realistically, the other versions of QuickTax 2009 are for people who are either self employed or have several investments.

QuickTax 2009 is definitely a great choice for anyone who is filing their tax returns. With QuickTax at your disposal, you will definitely be able to get your tax returns accomplished with little to no difficulty.

Maximizing your Savings

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According to a new RBC Tax Planning Poll, only 42% of Canadian families with children age 12 and under take full advantage of tax savings.

There is 17% of Canadian families who have absolutely no idea of the options available to them.

In order to save efficiently, we have to look at all of our options, which include tax savings. By taking advantage of the available tax credits and incentives, you can maximize your tax returns and put that money toward saving priorities.

A great option is opening a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), allowing you to save for your child’s post secondary education tax free until they attend university or college.

Opening a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) is also another great choice because it allows you to grow money tax free, up to $5,000 a year. You can also carry unused contribution room forward to future years and any money withdrawn will also be added to unused contribution room. Any money withdrawn from your TFSA is still tax free which is a great benefit.

With a Registered Retirement Savings Plan, you can save for your retirement and not worry about any contributions being taxed; only the amount withdrawn can be taxed.

The options mentioned here are among the more popular means of tax savings. By using any method of tax savings you will be allowing yourself to maximize every dollar.

Keeping Track of Your Budget

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keepTracking your budget is not always an easy task to accomplish. At times, you may find yourself lost within the numbers and you can end up going over your budget if you do so.

When on a budget you will not only have to write down what you spend to keep your budget in check, but you will have to track your expenses as well.

By tracking your expenses while on a budget, you will be able to go find new ways you can cut back and in turn end up saving more, or erase even more debt.

The best way I find to track my budget is to create a spreadsheet and have spending categories and sub-categories listed in it. For example, in part of my budget I have transportation as a category, and the sub-categories are “public transportation” and “gas”. I have a specific total I wish to spend each month on transportation, and within these two sub-categories I have allocated a portion of the total amount.

What I find is that you do not want to complicate your budget by having too many categories and sub-categories. Doing so would only make it harder to follow.

Try to start off with a small budget, and once you get the hang of living by it, begin adding to it.

Once you get the hang of using your budget efficiently, you will find yourself saving more and if you happen to be in debt, you will be debt free even sooner than you would have though possible.

How to Lower Your Costs and Stay Out of Debt

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In today’s day and age, staying out of debt can be a difficult task.
Rising costs coupled with rising unemployment has, and will continue to force many people into financial difficulties.

So, if your finances are under pressure or you are worried they may become strained in the near future, take a look at this guide to find out how you could lower your costs and stay out of debt.

Step one: Keep a spending diary

To help keep track of where your money is going each month, you should keep a spending diary.

This is basically a log of everything you spend during the course of a month. You may find it useful to record your spending from payday to payday – that way, it will be easier to calculate how much you have actually spent from the time you were paid.

The diary itself can be a simple record of everything you have spent money on – such as food, utility bills and CDs. Every time you spend money, you should write down how much you have spent, what you spent it on and the date you spent it.

Step two: Cut back on your non-essential spending

Once you have recorded your spending for a month, you should take a look at your spending diary and highlight all the things you didn’t actually need to spend money on – for example: takeaway food, gym subscription, magazines, etc.

You should add up how much you spent on things you didn’t need over the course of the month. Once you have this total, have a think about what you could have used that money for – improving your financial situation by saving, for example, or making payments to any debts you may have.

Step three: Cut back at home to save money

Aside from cutting back on your non-essential spending, there are ways you could save money at home. Of course, you have the obvious ways like switching the lights off when you’re not in the room, and turning the thermostat down when you go out. However, there are other ways you can cut back at home to save money – maybe some ways you haven’t thought of before. For example, you could save your old vegetable peels, leave them in the garden and use them as compost – meaning you won’t have to buy any when the gardening season comes round! Or you could make a point of making everything yourself so you don’t have to spend money unnecessarily – growing your own herbs and vegetables, for example, or creating your own air fresheners. Alternatively, you could make an investment in some energy-efficient appliances to save money on your bills.

Step four: Seek debt advice

If you do find that your finances become difficult to manage, and you fall into debt, it may be worthwhile to seek professional debt advice.
An experienced adviser will be able to assess your situation and depending on your level of debt, recommend a suitable solution. For example, if you can afford your debt repayments, but would like to make them easier to manage, the adviser may recommend a debt consolidation loan. Whereas if you are unable to meet your repayments as they stand but could afford to repay your debt within a reasonable period of time, they may advise you to look into a debt management plan. Alternatively, if your debts are unmanageable and you don’t think you’ll ever be able to repay them, you may be advised to look into an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) or bankruptcy.

 

Saving on Banking Fees

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While scouring the Internet for different ways to save, I came across a method for residents for British Columbia to save money in their banking.

As we all know, we pay quite a bit of money to your respective banks; the banking fees we end up paying go towards us using the type of account. It does not end there; we have to pay extra if we go over our transaction limits, among many other things.

The solution I found was a recent article posted on www.banknerd.ca, titled, “Free Chequing, Free Debit and More Account at Capital Coast Savings”.

As the title depicts, you are able to get a free chequing account at Capital Coast Savings. After reading the article on Banknerd.ca I found that there are no strings attached. You can use the account for your day to day activities like you would any other bank account, however there is no monthly fees or any fee whatsoever attached.

The only downside is that this account can only be opened to those who are residents of British Columbia.

Now if you are asking yourselves why would having an account with no fees benefit you, then you are not looking at the big picture.

Let us say that in general a person will be using an account, which has a monthly fee that ranges from $13.00 to $25.00. Now, if you take this to consideration, you are already saving $130.00 o $250.00 a year in bank fees alone. Although it seems minuscule, it can still add up over the years, not to mention it can top off your savings account.

The savings may seem small, but in my opinion anywhere you can save money is a great help.

Rules to Escaping Debt: Rule 2

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Last week I discussed the first rule to escaping debt, which is to acknowledge the situation you are in and that the source of the problem is no one but yourself.

Rule 2 to escaping debt is to create a plan or in other words a budget.

You will have to go through your finances and examine what is actually essential to your daily living, and what is a luxury. From there create a budget in which you can allocate a certain amount of your pay to accommodate those needs.

The reality of things is that if you want to get out of debt quickly, you should be taking out any spending that is not necessary completely, however it is hard to completely stop. Take everything in steps; lower the amount you might spend eating out, or how much you spend on buying new clothes.

Slowly reduce the amount to the bare minimum and use the portion you are not using to pay off your debt.

Let us be realistic here, if you have the will power to stop spending completely on unnecessary items, you would not be in the situation you are in. Take your time lowering your expenses and you will find yourself paying off more of your debt every month.

Make it a goal to lower your spending, and increase the amount you pay off your debt each month and you will find yourself debt free in no time.