Look To the Western Sky

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

Tag: finance (page 1 of 2)

4 Things Debt-Free People Never Do

(contributed article)

Are you ready to be debt-free? Almost everyone in the red will answer with an enthusiastic “YES!” An overdue balance can make life difficult, which is why getting into the black is vital. There are plenty of ways to get over the financial hump. Some people like to consolidate their accounts and pay them off in a single transaction. Others prefer to hire money managers to take the strain and relieve the stress.

Another method is to look to successful people as mentors. After all, they’ve been there, done it, and come out the other side with the t-shirt. You decide where to go next and what to do, but there are traits to keep in mind on the journey. Here are four things debt-free men and women never do.

Debt-free people never…

Ignore Accounts

Once the payment is set up between the bank and the seller, it’s easy to forget about the money. The amount stays the same anyway, right? In most cases, there won’t be any discrepancies, but there are times when rates increase and decrease. The latter isn’t a problem, yet the former is a big deal as it may add to your expenses. And you have no idea if you’re not checking your account. For example, think of a cell phone contract and add-ons, such as extra data, texts and calls. Regularly check the bill at the end of the month to make sure it’s correct.

Believe Marketing Ploys

Everyone knows that businesses use advertising to trick people into purchasing goods. The shocking thing is that it doesn’t matter because the message is so powerful. You want to buy the product and only need a slight nudge in the right direction. Don’t worry if you can’t afford it because often there’s a ninety-day offer where you don’t pay a penny. The debt-free group understands that once the trial finishes, the rate jumps, and it becomes much more costly. They either save up  or use a credit card and then pay it off in full.

Invest In Myths

“Whoa, wait a minute, you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy? Don’t you understand it will kill your finances forever? That’s a ballsy move.” Essentially, filing for bankruptcy is a serious issue, yet it won’t destroy your credit for eternity. You’ll still be able to get loans and apply for credit cards and everything else. From chapter 13 bankruptcy to 11 and 7, some pros exist, depending on the situation. For example, it wipes unsecured debts. Clever people weigh the pros against the cons and play the percentages. That’s why they’re eventually stable, and if they stick to the plan, they will become debt-free.

Lack Earning Potential

Rather than save cash, they make it also. Their primary job is the number one money-maker, yet they often moonlight and have freelance projects on the side. Yes, it takes up some of your free time, but some hobbies can even be money-spinners. Look at how blogging has monetized writing thanks to sponsors wanting to piggyback traffic.

Do you have a strategy for staying debt-free?

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Tips For How To Be Better At Saving After Clearing Your Debt

(contributed post)

What comes next after clearing your debt? A big holiday? A new car? A new wardrobe full of clothes? Clearing your debts can be freeing – but if you’re not careful, you could end up back where you started.

So what should you do after paying back your debts? Planning for your future is a great place to start. Instead of being a spender, learn to become a saver and keep your finances on the straight and narrow. Take a look at the following tips to help you become better at saving after clearing your debt.

Set a monthly budget

Whether or not you’ve had a budget before, it’s never too late to start one. A budget is often met with negativity, but it actually makes sense to have one to keep track of your finances. Getting started with a budget is simple, and it will help you to know exactly what your income and outgoings are.

Sleep on it

Do you tend to rush into making purchases you might regret down the line? Sleeping on a purchase might make you realize you don’t need it after all, as things can appear different in the morning. Ask yourself if you really need something before you buy it, and if you can’t justify spending the money – don’t do it.

Save now to spend later

If your past behavior involved buying the things you want and need now and paying them off later – you can change this habit. The habit of using credit to pay for things can be dangerous, so you can learn how to save for the things you really want. It will feel much more satisfying paying for something you know you can afford over something you’re still paying off a year later.

Invest your money

By investing your money, you’re helping to grow your savings ready for the future. Investing means your money is tied up elsewhere, preventing you from spending unnecessarily. If you’re looking to invest in a lower risk environment, a Japan ETF (exchange-traded fund) could be the right answer for you. Alternative investments include property and startup businesses, giving you plenty of options for places to put your money.

Develop better money-saving habits

Being thriftier with your spending is no bad thing, especially if it means you use the extra money saved to put towards your savings. There are plenty of excellent money-saving tips out there to help you save on everything from your grocery bill to your vacation, and the more you do it then the better you will be at it. Look for bargains where you can to help your money stretch further.

When you’ve cleared your debt, the next important step for your finances is to plan for your future. With some good money-saving savvy behind you, you can become a great saver to put you and your family in the best financial position possible.

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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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4 Tips for Dealing With Debt When You’ve Got Mouths to Feed

(contributed post)

Debt is horrible, and anyone that’s ever been in a significant amount of debt will be able to confirm that it’s one of the worst things that can happen to you. The situation can be made worse when you’ve got a family that needs feeding. However, all is not lost. While you may feel hopeless when it comes to your financial situation, there are always things you can do to help your financial situation. Here are some tips on how to deal with debt when you’ve got mouths to feed. Let’s get your financial status back on track!

Phone around your providers

One of the easiest ways of freeing up more money in your bank account each month is by phoning around your utility providers and securing yourself a better and cheaper deal for your energy. One thing that no energy company will tell you is that there is always a cheaper deal unless you call and ask. The threat of you leaving them will spur them into offering a cheaper (and most likely more value for your money) deal. You can do this with all of your providers including your phone bill, car insurance, and even your broadband deal. Put those haggling skills to good use and help yourself out financially!

Speak to a bankruptcy attorney

Sometimes your debt can get to a point where you simply cannot fathom how you’re going to get yourself out of the situation. At times like this, it’s a good idea to speak to a bankruptcy attorney for some advice. They can talk with you about the process of chapter 13 , help create a future financial plan for you to stick by, and answer any questions you may have. Sometimes starting a fresh is the best thing that you can do for yourself.

Cut out anything unnecessary

You’d be surprised at how many things you’re paying for that you don’t actually need. Go through you direct debits and standing orders to make sure that you’re not paying for something that you no longer need or want. That magazine subscription? Get rid of it so that you can free up some money in your bank account each month!

Consider selling something of value

When you have excessive debt, you could see something of value and pay off your debt. or at least a large chunk of it and make life much easier for yourself. This might be some jewelry, a vintage car that’s been in your garage, or even a collector’s item that you’ve been storing away.

Try these four ideas to get yourself out of debt and allow you to continue providing for your family! Remember to keep track of your finances so that you can avoid getting into debt in the first place.

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Top 5 Financial Posts to Help Parents Manage Their Money

Here are the top 5 articles on “Look to the Western Sky” to help you make smart financial decisions for you and your family. Most of these articles with “finance” or “budget” in the title or tagged with these words were contributed. I think many of them offer some good, practical advice and give you some points to consider when you are thinking about your family’s budget. I didn’t include two articles about making money online, but those are also on my blog if you want to click FINANCE in the tag cloud and scroll down to find those. Sometimes, you are looking for part-time opportunities or day-time work that does not make you leave your house or your children, so those two articles are something to also check out.

I’m always looking for good financial articles for parents for this blog–these articles help me and they help my readers. Even the most money savvy person can use a reminder here or there on how to save money or take an inexpensive vacation or save for your children’s college. Our motto should not be “Money Schmoney.” 🙂

Overcoming Your Financial Slump: A Single Parent’s Guide

 

Improving Your Finances at the End of the Week

 

Cutting The Cost of Parenthood

 

Money Myths That Cost Single Parents Greatly

 

Great Parenting Needn’t Be Expensive

 

 

 

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How to Earn Extra Income Online as a Parent

Guest post by Kevin O.

It’s no secret that spending money is far easier than making money, and as a parent with real-world responsibilities and mountains of bills to pay, sometimes a little extra cash can make a big difference.

So what’s an innovative way to earn an additional income for today’s digital age? It’s actually far simpler and easier than you might imagine – online freelancing.

Let’s break it down. If you are a parent, especially a single parent, that has a family to support, you really cannot afford to engage in activities that have a potentially disastrous financial downside. Although trading stocks and making investments is lucrative when it works out, it doesn’t always work out – and this is a key aspect of risk-taking to understand.

Assuming a risky activity like investing didn’t work out, losing a significant portion of your wealth as a single parent would be devastating not only for yourself, but for your family as well. The effects would be even more disastrous if you originally set out to earn more money and actually ended up losing money.

Therefore, as a parent, or anyone with profound responsibilities, you have to look at methods of earning money that don’t involve potentially losing money.

Freelancing Online

Although noting in life is truly risk-free, freelancing has to be one of the safest ways to earn an additional income with only minimal amounts of work. The only downside is the time you invest. The best part is, freelancing can be done 100% from the comfort of your home! Although you could argue there is an opportunity cost for the time you spend freelancing, there is no way to directly lose money or assets; in other words, freelancing is fairly safe. If it doesn’t work out, you’re not going to lose anything except for the time you invest.

Anyone can become a freelancer by quickly creating a profile on Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr and marketing any services, skills, or talents that are in demand. Some of the most popular areas to start off in are article/blog writing, graphic design, manual data entry, and survey completion.

The beauty of freelancing is that you are not obligated to do it every day. You can logon to one of these sites for a few hours each day and see if there are any quick jobs that need doing. If you don’t feel like freelancing one day, you don’t have to!

Freelancing offers a lot of independence and freedom, both physically and financially, and as a parent or single parent, it can truly be a great way to improve your quality of life.

Kevin O. is an expert financial writer, who has written hundreds of articles for several financial news industry titans, finance writing, financial blogging, news articles, investor updates, and equity research reports are second nature.

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5 Different Ways to Make Money Online

I think as writers we assume that everyone realizes they can make money by selling things online from their websites or by finding freelance jobs online. But I don’t think people in other professions think of it as often. When this contributed article came across my inbox, I thought it had some good ways to make money online. So here it is: 

If you’ve seen that there are a range of different ways to make some money online, you may be wondering if it’s really possible. Because if it’s really that easy, why isn’t everyone doing it? Well, that’s a good question. Although nothing is ever really easy, per se, if you’re in a financial slump and you want to be able to change your life, you can definitely do that by doing something online. Because it doesn’t have to be incredibly difficult for you. While a lot of the ways that you can make money will take time and effort, they’re often incredibly worth it. Because making money online can top up your existing income, or even replace it. So let’s take a look at some of the standout options.

Selling Products

One of the most classic ways of making money online is to sell products. You don’t have to have an offline shop, or even have been in the business of sales before; that’s the beauty of doing this online. You can really learn along the way. You might like to setup an Amazon shop selling products or even do something on eBay or Etsy. Whether you sell items you’ve made or source items to sell yourself, this can be a great venture if you’re willing to put the work in to set it up. You could also look to sell on your own site in the future, too.

Affiliate Marketing

Up next, there’s affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is a way that you can earn money by recommending products and brands. To do this, you will need a website or blog on a certain topic or a range of topics. You’ll then share specific links that are given to you by the affiliates. If your site visitors go on to make a purchase through that link, you will earn a set percentage of the sale. It can be a simple way, once set up, to generate a stream of income.

Blogging

From here, there’s blogging itself. And yes, you can make money through affiliate marketing as a blogger, but it’s not your only option. Instead, you can generate income from advertising, sponsorship, advetorials, contributed articles, and even your own product sales. So this could be an idea that takes you a step above affiliate marketing alone.

Investing

Then, there’s always investing. A lot of the time, people think that this is something that only financial experts can do. But that’s not the case. You just need to read up, using things like stash review, on the best ways to do it. Then, with a bit of knowledge, you can start off on your own investing venture.

Freelancing

If you have a particular skill, such as writing or graphic design, you could then look to sell that on a freelance basis. Sometimes, this could be something you do alongside your day job, or something that you move into full time. You could even consider consulting in this kind of format, too.

Have you made money online? Do you have any tips to share?

 

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Overcoming Your Financial Slump: A Single Parent’s Guide

(contributed article)

Even though this article was written for a single parent in mind, I don’t think it’s bad advice for anyone to follow…

The wonderful thing about being a single parent is that you don’t have a partner to argue with over your family finances and spending; you are in full control of all of your own money. This can be a bit of a hindrance sometimes, though, especially as you may have to make your money stretch even further. There’s always an extra cost popping up, and this can often set you back a few steps. Over time you may find you have taken so many steps back that you’re on the edge and close to falling flat. Your little girl wants ballet lessons and your boy is pleading to let him go to karate. It can be an uphill struggle for single parents, as we want to give our children everything we can, but we have to remain realistic.

Whether you have overspent at Christmas ,are racking up credit card debts, or need to find a better paying job, you can get yourself out of your financial slump. There are a few nifty ways you can boost your money, without making too many changes to your family life. Stay positive and try not to  let the little things get you down. Be grateful for your health and beautiful family, and let’s look at how to get out of your uphill financial struggle.

The Daily Squeeze

You might believe you’re living a frugal life and cutting costs where necessary, but are you doing the best you can? Are you still swinging by the local coffee shop for your morning caramel latte? Your caffeine addiction could be setting you back over a hundred dollars a month, so try and be mindful when buying food and drink when you’re out and about. Most of the time, you will save money if you cook and eat at home instead of in a restaurant.

Consider cooking bulk meals to save money on food, too. You can cut down on food waste by preparing meals that freeze well, and you might find that your groceries go much further. Try not to buy unnecessary items when you’re out shopping, too, especially if you find yourself buying sugary snacks or the food item that you just sampled in the grocery aisle. Kids grow out of clothes far too quickly, so chat with local moms and head to a nearby secondhand store to pick up any essentials you might need. Be completely aware of every penny you’re spending, and you will soon be able to start saving a small stash and pay off those bills.

Help Is At Hand

If you’ve found yourself in a tricky situation when it comes to credit cards and debts, you might feel daunted at the thought of paying it all off. Look into some reputable debt consolidation companies, who can help you to organize and eliminate your debt. These companies will give you a helping hand in managing all of your debt. If you have multiple credit cards and bills, to pay off they will be able to merge it into one larger loan. By amalgamating everything together, you will be able to come up with an action plan to pay it back each month.

You can get yourself out of the slump you’re experiencing–just find the correct help and alter your lifestyle for a short time. There will always be someone who can advise you, so try to remain positive and don’t ignore the problem. Prevention is better than cure, so get one step ahead with your financial planning this year and you will finally find your feet again.

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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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