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)

How to Prevent Your Credit from Spiraling Out of Control

This is a companion article to “Tips for Making the Right Choices to Become Financially Stable ” , which was published right before this one. This post focuses more on using credit responsibly. I have been preaching for years now that we need more personal finance/credit classes in high school! Anyway, some good tips below in this contributed post. Please add any tips you have in the comments.  

If you are a single parent, chances are that you will need to rely on your own resources to provide for your kids and manage everything yourself. This can be challenging, especially if you have just gone through a divorce or separation, and you have to learn how to manage your own money and do things you never had to. Many people let their money troubles escalate because they simply ignore their commitments. Below you will find a few tips on how to avoid getting into financial trouble.

Keep a Strict Budget

The first thing you will need to do when starting a new life is to look through your current budget and create a new one with your lifestyle in mind. List all your income and outgoings, and make sure that you have money left over for emergencies. A strict budget will mean that you will not splash out on eating out or vacations when you know that you can’t afford the costs and running up your credit cards. This way, you can also save money for emergencies.

Avoid Impulse Shopping

If you would like to make the most out of your money, never go out shopping hungry or without a list. It only takes a couple of minutes to sit down and look through your kitchen storage and fridge to see what you really need. This way, you will buy the things you need and not the ones that you feel like you want at the time. The same applies to clothes shopping; list the things you are missing from your wardrobe and search for deals, instead of looking for inspirations.

Move Your Payment Dates

In case you have credit outstanding, you can get in touch with the companies to move your payment date, so you can ensure that you are not falling behind. If you moved houses or changed jobs, chances are that you might not be able to make the payments on the same date. Instead of trying to juggle money about and stressing, you can solve the problem with one phone call.

Seek Affordable Solutions

It is also crucial that you compare the different credit offers and find out exactly how much they cost each month. Before taking out a personal loan or a credit card, consider short term solutions that will be easier to pay off and generally cheaper. If you have bad credit, you will have to look for bad credit loans with affordable monthly repayments, instead of maxing out all your cards and going into the red.  

Make Extra Payments When You Can

It might also be a good idea to pay off your debt on credit cards as soon as possible. If you would like to become debt-free, you will have to make additional payments, so you can clear your credit faster.

If you want to control your money instead of it controlling your life, make sure that you take charge of your accounts, expenses, and budget–and maybe consider cutting up those credit cards.

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Tips For Making the Right Choices to Become Financially Stable

(contributed post)

Sometimes we need to take the time to make the right choices when it comes to being financially stable. Often life can take over, and we can end up forgetting about different things, or certainly just swiping the debit card and letting our bills be paid each month without another thought. But, then comes the issue, because really we can become trapped by our circumstances and not really aware of how much we are spending, how much we have left in our bank account, or most importantly how better off we could be if we made a few different choices and paid a bit more attention.

Sometimes the opportunity for more income is fixed. You may not be able to earn more than what you do right now, but does that mean you really need to trapped by your circumstances? Are there other things you could do? The answer is yes. Below are some choices you could make and/or some changes to your habits , and you may find that these can make all of the difference when it comes to your financial stability.

Thinking about the future

One of the first things you can do when it comes to making good decisions for your financial stability is take a moment to think about the future. At some stage, we will retire from our jobs, and a regular wage will be no more. Yet many of us don’t really think about what we will do to sustain our current lifestyles. How much money does it take to do all the things we plan to do in retirement, like travel and spend time with the family? This is when making some good choices now can help secure your financial future. Contributing to a pension separate to what you might get from the government is a great way to ensure you can afford things when you hit retirement. Pensions are something that you need to consider heavily before investing. Speaking to a financial advisor can help with that.

If you don’t already have a property or are on the property ladder in some way, then the sooner you do it, the better. This can be a great way to secure your financial future as property prices tend to either stabilize or rise over time, which helps you to develop and increase equity. This also helps as you move on in life and need more space or need to live in different areas. Remember: mortgage rates can change and sometimes you need to remortgage and change your deal to ensure you are getting the best rate.

Looking at what leaves your account right now

It is all well and good thinking about the future; and this is important, but you also need to take the time to ensure that you make the most of your situation as it stands right now. One of the first things you could do would be to check your bank account. Grab your most recent bank statement and start highlighting what comes in and what leaves your account each month. Knowing what debits you have regularly leaving your account will help you to be more in tune with your current financial situation. You may find that taking time to look over these expenses will highlight things you may not even need to spend money on moving forward. Canceling things and actually freeing up money is quite liberating. Knowing what you spend means that you could also take the time to research whether or not you are getting the best possible deals for those monthly bills we have no choice but to pay out for. Energy and insurance providers may not always be giving you the best deal, as often the best rates are saved for new customers. Switching providers can save you a fair bit each month. Regularly checking your deals can really ensure that you only pay what is necessary.

Could you bring the cost down of everyday spending?

The next thing you may want to think about would be bringing down the cost of everyday spending. Your food, for example, can be such a big expenditure each week. But often making changes to the way you do things can make the biggest of differences. For example, meal planning and writing a list is proven to save money. A small investment of your time can ensure you only buy what you need. Therefore, only spending on the food that you need as well as helping you to avoid wasting food that you bought and didn’t get round to using. Things, like coupons and discount codes, can also really help you reduce the costs. Applying these simple processes to your everyday spending can really help boost your income.

Is debt strangling your bank balance?

Debt can also be a big outgoing expense you have each month; so if you place some focus on paying it off, you may find that you start to see massive improvement. You could try and see how you get on by focusing on your debts that cost the most in interest, and trying to get them paid off. It could be that a consolidation loan or card would be an ideal way to help give you a plan, but checking your credit history is an ideal place to start. You could read this review about a potential service to try. Debt payments can be a big amount that leaves your account each month; and once it is paid off, you will see a big amount of your income available to use for other things.

Could you use your spare time to boost your disposable income?

Finally, maybe there are ways that you can boost your income–that could be selling unwanted things online on websites like eBay. Or perhaps using your spare time more wisely and filling out online surveys or performing mystery shops. It could be a great way to get more money without any massive infringement on your life.

Do you have any tips you use?

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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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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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