Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: budget

How To Keep The Family Going When You Lose Your Job

Losing your job is always a scary time. You’ll be worrying about how you’re going to find another job, and more importantly, how you’re going to manage financially until you get back to work. All of those worries are magnified if you’re the main breadwinner, and you’ve got a family to support. But don’t worry, even though it’s going to be a tough period, you can make it through the other side if you follow these simple steps.

Borrow Some Money

Borrowing isn’t a habit that you want to get into, but if you’ve just lost your job, you might have to. When the end of the month comes, you need to cover all of your bills. If you don’t have enough money there, you could take out a short-term loan to keep your head above water until you sort something more permanent out. Click to learn more about where to find the best short-term loans. Just remember, you shouldn’t think of this as a long-term solution; it’s just a way of making sure that you don’t miss any payments.

Take Stock

Now that you’re not earning, you need to take stock of your finances and work out exactly how much money you’ve got to work with. Check all of your savings and then add up all of your monthly expenses. By doing that, you’ll be able to work out exactly how many months you can afford before you’re in financial trouble. Once you’ve got that budget drawn up, you can start planning properly.

Cut Back On Expenses

When you’re out of work, you need to start prioritizing the things that you’re spending money on. A lot of the luxuries that you were buying when you were earning are going to have to go. It’ll only be temporary, and you can get spending back to normal; but the more you reduce your outgoings, the longer you can survive without an income. Things like TV subscriptions, expensive phone contracts, etc. are easy things to cut out of your budget right away. When you’re shopping for groceries, consider switching to a cheaper store and always be on the lookout for any deals and offers that will make it less expensive.

Be Honest With The Family

You probably don’t want to tell the kids that you’ve lost your job and you’re in a bit of financial trouble, but trying to hide it is only going to make things worse. Children are very perceptive, and they’ll be able to tell that something is going on. If you keep them in the dark, they’ll only worry about it more. The best thing to do is to be honest with them and tell them that you aren’t working at the moment, but it’s only going to be for a little while and they don’t need to worry about it.

The most important thing that you should remember in the wake of a job loss is not to panic. It might feel like the end of the world, but it’s only a temporary situation. As long as you manage your money properly, you’ll be fine.

 

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Family Finance: Are You Getting What You Paid For?

(contributed post)

If you took a few moments to sit down with a pen and paper and work out exactly how much you spend every month, you might be shocked. The cost of living is considerable, and often, the fact that we spend so much on bills and services is compounded by the fact that we don’t get our money’s worth. If you’re in charge of your family’s finances, here are some tips to help you ensure you get what you pay for.

Insurance

When you pay out for insurance, you expect to be able to make a claim in the event that something goes wrong. If you need medical treatment, your car has been damaged in an accident, or your roof needs repairs after a storm, it’s logical to assume that your insurance company will pay out. If this doesn’t happen, you may be out of pocket. If there’s a clear reason for rejection, for example, the treatment wasn’t covered by your policy, you will be liable for the costs; but if you feel that you’ve been mistreated by the provider, it’s wise to seek legal advice. Check the details of your policy and see Darras Law for more information. To reduce the risk of problems, always take a look at the terms of the agreement before you file a claim. If you have queries, contact the company directly before you complete and send the claim form. If you’re not happy with the service you receive from your insurance providers, take a look around at alternative options. You can often save money by switching, as many firms reserve their best offers for new clients.

TV and Broadband

Many of us moan that our Internet is too slow or half the channels we pay for don’t work. If you’re guilty of doing this, it’s time to take your provider to task. If you’re paying for super-speed broadband, but your pages are loading at a snail’s pace, call and complain and ask what can be done to rectify the issue. It’s also worth asking if it’s possible to claim a refund for the services you’ve missed out on.

Shopping

Have you bought products from the grocery store that have been past their best or have you tried new clothes on to discover there’s a stain or a hole? If you’ve paid money, you expect a certain standard of quality, and you have a right to request a refund. Take the product back to store complete with your receipt and ask about exchanging or replacing the item.

Home and Car Repair Services

If you’re paying an individual or a company to fix up your car or home, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t get results that meet your expectations. It can be awkward to say that you’re not happy, but the customer is paying the bill. Many of these service providers will be willing to work with you because they want your repeat business and references.

Most of us work very hard for our money, and there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you’ve been short-changed. If you’re taking control of your family finances, now is the time to make sure you’re getting what you pay for.

 

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Thriving, Not Just Surviving, as a One-Income Family

The following contributed article has four really good tips that we have all heard before but that are so true. One of my goals this year is to stop using credit cards and to pay for things with cash. We have stopped eating out as much and are looking for free and inexpensive (but fun) activities to do this summer while we save up money for future better vacations. Anyway, when this article came in, it really hit home for me, so I hope it does for others, too. 

Being a family that is living off one income can be tricky, but it is possible to do it and to thrive as you do so, rather than just survive. The key is to get serious about your finances and keep track of them, which may seem tedious. But it can help you to stay on top of things and to not feel like each month is such a struggle. There are plenty of families that out there, living off one income, whether as a single parent family or a family where only one parent works. So here are some of the tips and strategies to help your family do just that.

Plan a Precise Budget

When it comes to money and making sure that you have enough to go around, you need to have a budget that is specific and precise. It is no use just looking at your income and guessing what the bills are that you owe. Check your statements and bills, so that you know exactly what you do owe each month. From there, you can set a specific budget for groceries, clothing, entertainment, etc. When you’re specific and precise, you know exactly what money is going where, and what you should be left with at the end of each month.

Shop Around

It pays to shop around in all aspects of your life. Take your mortgage (or rent) as an example. No doubt this will have been set up a while back, and not looked at since. But you can change your mortgage provider, even when you are still owing. The debt gets “transferred” to the new provider. So shop around to check that you’re getting the best deal possible. Are there mortgage brokers that perhaps offer cash back or guaranteed low rates? Shopping around works for other things too: from your cell phone provider, to your grocery store, to where you buy school shoes. Shop around, don’t just take someone’s first offer, and you will save.

Reduce Debt

One of the best things that you can do to really thrive as a single-income family, is to reduce the amount of debt that you owe. You can never truly thrive as a single income family if you have debt around your neck. So as part of your precise budget, make sure that you look at paying off credit cards or other loans as a priority. It may mean some sacrifices to start with, but it will be so much better all around when you are consumer debt-free.

Use Cash

Using credit cards can be tricky for a number of reasons. One of which is that you don’t “see” the money going, so you can kind of get out of hand as you spend it. And for things like groceries, you just buy what you want and put it on a card. But using cash, and not having cards with you, makes you pay more attention to your budget. If you’re in the store, you can only buy what the cash in your hand will cover. So there is no overspending unnecessarily, and you’re more conscious of what you’re spending.

 

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Overspent this Christmas? Now What? 5 Tips To Help

(contributed article)

If you fear you might have overspent this Christmas and worry you might not be able to pay the credit card bills that will soon be coming your way , it can understandably be tempting to want to bury your head in the sand; however, it tends to be much better to know where you stand, so that you are in the empowered position to nip any issues in the bud rather than let them spiral out of control.

Here are a few pointers to help you get your finances back on track, as the majority of the world nurses their financial hangover after overspending in the festive period.

  1. SELL ITEMS YOU DON’T USE

Many people have things lying around, or even in draws or the attic, that they don’t use anymore.  If you are willing to consider selling these items, you could sell them online via sites like Craigslist or eBay, or even have a more traditional garage sale, depending on the weather this season where you live.  If you have gift cards that you don’t plan to use, you could sell these too; and if you have any unopened gifts that are unwanted after Christmas, then consider taking them back to the store and receive a store credit in return.

  1. GET AN ADDITIONAL JOB

Depending on your schedule, consider getting a part-time job for a few months, or perhaps setting up some freelancing or small business, like dog sitting, opportunities.  Investing a few hours each day in either activity could give you sufficient earnings to pay off your debt at a much faster pace.

  1. REDUCE CURRENT SPENDINGS

It can be heard to cut back after such exuberance in the festive season; however, you’ll be joining the majority of people as they tend to their financial hangovers after spending so much during the holidays.  Indeed, January is one of the quietest times of the year for restaurants and hotels.  

  1. MANAGE YOUR CREDIT CARDS

Focus on paying credit cards that have the highest Annual Percentage Rate (APR) first. You might find that you can’t realistically repay your credit card balances. In this scenario, consider getting a credit card that levies no interest on balance transfers for 12 – 24 months. Pay the nominal transaction fee (approximately three percent of the amount transferred). You will be able to save more money on this card. Remember that your existing card will charge you interest once you cross the interest-free period.

  1. DON’T USE PLASTIC

Until you repay all your bills, avoid making any further purchases on your credit card; and try to pay in cash for making purchases, as this makes you feel more connected to the amount you are spending.  Doing this will ensure you avoid adding to your existing levels of debt.

That said, if you find that your credit score has been compromised with your overspending, once you have paid off your outstanding debt, try using financial products available specifically for the purpose of rebuilding credit.  

As an example, there are plenty of rebuilding credit cards available for people that have a poor credit score who are looking to improve their financial position.  These credit cards often charge a reasonably high rate of interest, but they are a great way to help rebuild your credit; and presuming you pay off the balance each month, they are a worthwhile investment in repairing your credit.

In summary, please know you’re not alone if you’ve overspent this Christmas, as there are plenty of people who will be nursing their financial hangover this New Year.  The trick is to get back on track as fast as possible, and to do that, you need to focus on getting more money in and spending less–even if just for a little while.

 

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Great Parenting Needn’t Be Expensive

(contributed article)

The start of the new year is a lean time for many as we awaken, bleary eyed from the excess of late December and face the challenges of the new year. The trouble is that the view can be pretty grim through the lens of a New Year’s hangover (literally, metaphorically, or all of the above). After what seems like an eternity of seasonal spending, your bank balance aches, and your credit score looks grimmer than your father-in-law when he unwrapped yet another pair of socks for Christmas. Maybe you maxed out your credit cards to pay for the Christmas season; and though the memories will last a lifetime, they certainly won’t pay the bills. Soon the kids will be back at school and a whole new avenue of expense will open itself up to you.

If you’re recovering from the spend-a-thon of the festive season, it can feel like your personal finances simply won’t allow you to spend money on quality time with your children. For all their wonderful new Christmas presents, eventually they will grow tired of them, and you will be hearing, “I’m bored.” While there are lenders out there who specialize in personal loans for bad credit, your parenting needn’t go hand in hand with your expenditure. Sometimes, the most meaningful gifts you can give your children involve no to little expense whatsoever.

Be forthcoming with your affection

All the iPhones, xBoxes, and designer shoes in the world amount to nothing when you are comparing them to your child feeling loved. While your kids are unlikely to ask for hugs and kisses, they crave them far more than the superficial trappings, which they’re far more vocal about. Tell them that you love them and you’re proud of them. Kiss and hug them every day. If you don’t engage with them on this level (despite their protestations), it’s one of the ways to impede their interpersonal development when they grow up.

Nourish them

Nourishment is one of the most important duties of a parent. This means not only giving them the emotional nourishment they need but ensuring that they eat a balanced diet. While they’ll never thank you for it, a good diet is one of the most important gifts you can give a child. It will ensure that they grow up as healthy and nutritionally aware adults who lead long and healthy lives. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to load up on cheaply made pre-packaged foods just because money’s tight. Filling your fridge with fresh veggies and researching nutritious and delicious recipes that enable your kids to actually enjoy them is not only great parenting, it’s surprisingly easy on the household budget.

Treat them like an adult

Maybe don’t offer them a cigarette and a shot of vodka before sitting down to your favorite zombie flick 🙂 HA! HA! , but treating your kids with the same respect and transparency as you’d treat, say, a work colleague, is tremendously empowering for them and is likely to engender maturity.

While it’s perfectly fine to spoil your kids over the festive period, it’s important to remember, especially in the thrifty aftermath, that the most meaningful gifts you can give your kids won’t cost you a penny.

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