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How to Keep Your Utility Bill Down this Summer

Summer utility bills can get out of control. I’ve had my bill double and even triple when it really gets hot. I absolutely loved this infographic from MintLife Blog with some free and simple ways to get that utility bill down.

Photo credit: MintLife Blog.

Photo credit: MintLife Blog.

Photo credit: MintLife Blog.

Photo credit: MintLife Blog.

Photo credit: MintLife Blog.

Photo credit: MintLife Blog.

Photo credit: MintLife Blog.

Photo credit: MintLife Blog.

Photo credit: MintLife Blog.

Photo credit: MintLife Blog.

What determines your mortgage payment?

A very important part of making the decision to buy a home is knowing how much it is going to cost and if you can afford it. You also want to know what financing your house with a mortgage will cost you. By that I mean, how much you will be paying above the value of the house in interest over the course of term of the loan.

Your mortgage payment is determined by three things:

1) The size of the mortgage. The bigger the mortgage, the bigger the payment.
2) The interest rate.  The higher the interest rate, the bigger the mortgage payment.
3) The term of the loan. The longer the term, the smaller the mortgage payment.

The size of the mortgage is determined by the price of the house and how much of a down payment you contribute. If you are buying a home and put 20% down, you will get a mortgage for the remaining 80% of the price. The higher the price, the higher the mortgage payment and the lower the down payment, the higher the mortgage payment.

Your interest rate on the loan is determined by market rates as well as your perceived riskiness to lenders. The more confident the lender is that you will pay your mortgage payments, the lower the interest rate. Some factors that affect your interest rate are your credit score, your income stream (steadiness and size) and the size of your recurring debt payments compared with your income.

This gives you an idea of the key levers that determine the size of your mortgage payment. For more precise numbers you can play with a mortgage calculator or two.

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Create a Savvy Budget that Sticks!

I launched my first Udemy course, Create a Savvy Budget that Sticks! I’ts a comprehensive guide to creating a budget that will make you happy, won’t feel restricting and will save you money!

The word budget gets a bad rap but really budgeting is just a way of distributing our money in ways that make us the happiest so that we can fulfill our goals and dreams. Sounds better, right? It’s all about spending money and prioritizing what we truly value. Budgeting is an important tool for creating wealth and setting ourselves up for financial success and independence.

In this course, I will:

- Take you through my step-by-step guide for creating a savvy budget that won’t feel restricting
- Help you consciously spend money in ways that make you happiest
- Create a budget that you will stick to
- Re-frame your outlook on budgeting and provide accountability

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By the end of the course you will have a comprehensive budget in line with your goals that you will be able to maintain. Whether you are starting from scratch or looking to get back on track, this course will provide valuable insights and tools to help you create a savvy budget that sticks.

I’m offering $20 off (44% off) to the first 100 people that take my course. Just use this link to sign up. I’d love to hear what you think!

Would I qualify for a mortgage?

The majority of people use some type of financing or mortgage to buy their first home and there are many factors that come in to play when you want to get a mortgage. The better your standing according to each factor, the better rate you’ll get. This flow chart from RealEstate.com tells us if you we will qualify for a mortgage loan from our bank and what we can do if you won’t.

Do I Qualify for a Mortgage Loan_RealEstate.com_07.22.14

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Work & Money: What are my 401-K options?

A 401-K is an employer sponsored retirement account where eligible employees can make contributions from their salary on a pre-tax or post-tax basis. When you start at a new company, you will typically have the opportunity to sign up for their 401-K plan as well as choose your contribution percentage. Contribution percentages are typically a percentage of your pre-tax annual salary. Some companies allow you to contribute to the company 401-K plan immediately and some companies have you earn the benefit over time. Either way, make sure to understand your company 401-K match program and maximize it. If your company matches 3% of your annual salary and you make $100,000, you have the opportunity to earn $3,000 dollars from your company’s 401-K match program if you contribute at least 3% to your 401-K. Not too shabby!

In 2014 you can contribute up to $17,500 to your 401-K. More and more frequently, companies are offering Roth 401-K options in addition to the Traditional 401-K. The main difference between the two types of accounts is that with a Roth, your contributions are post-tax and with a Traditional 401-K your contributions are pre-tax. Your investments grow tax free in both accounts but when you withdraw money from a Roth at retirement, distributions are not taxed and when you withdraw from a Traditional account at retirement, distributions are taxed. If your tax rate is the same now as when you retire, there is no difference between investing in a Roth or Traditional 401-K. That being said, it’s typically expected for young people to be making more when they are older than they are making now and therefore in a higher tax bracket later in life. A Roth 401-K is also a way to mitigate tax risk as we don’t know what tax policy will be like in 30, 40 or 50 years.

Photo credit: giphy.com

Photo credit: giphy.com

5 Money Saving Life Hacks

Going into the weekend, I thought I’d leave you with some money saving life hacks that will help you cut your spending without cutting out your fun! Happy Friday!

1.) Pay with cash!

Studies have shown that people are more likely to spend more when using a credit card than when using cash. Ask the group taking my 30 Day Money Cleanse. It really works! Leave the plastic at home and whip out the Benjamins, it can save you more than you think.

Gif Credit: http://www.gifbin.com/.

Photo credit: http://www.gifbin.com/.

2.) Freeze plastic bottles

Instead of purchasing those expensive cooler packs for your cold margarita for the beach or picnic, freeze some plastic bottles as substitutes instead!

Photo credit: http://giphy.com/.

Photo credit: http://giphy.com/.

3.) Clear your browser history to find cheaper flights

Remember to cache your browser when making ticket purchases online! If not travel sites can access your information and jack up prices based on your browser history! Why spend more money on tickets, when you can use that money for your next trip? I have seen people save ~$50 using this trick!

Photo credit: http://www.women24.com/.

Photo credit: http://www.women24.com/.

4.) Go to the library

Instead of spending money on books and Netflix or HuluPlus, head over to your local library to rent out books and movies! You will be saving money and doing something good for society by helping to keep our libraries around.

Photo credit: collegecandy.com

Photo credit: collegecandy.com

5.) Make it at home

Instead of purchasing a $3 cookie or brownie, put on your apron and whip up your own home-made desserts! You will feel more satisfied, will have plenty to share and will know that you are one step closer to becoming America’s Next Master Chef! Win-win-win!

Photo credit: http://giphy.com.

Photo credit: http://giphy.com.

Receipt help! What do you need and where should you keep them?

This might seem like a no brainer but I struggle with this all the time. Between business expenses and big ticket items there are some receipts I want to keep and I try to put them in a safe place or even the same place in my wallet but there is VERY little chance they will still be with me by the time it’s tax season at the end of the year or by the time the electronic breaks and I’m wanting to use that warranty. What’s a gal to do?

I like to start simple first. Is there a decorative piece or something pretty you have lying around that you can use as a receipt holder? The catch with this method is that you have to make sure 1) you keep the receipt and 2) it makes it home with you. Not a fool-proof method for me, but it’s a start!

Next I tried taking photos of receipts immediately after I got them. This made more sense for me because I didn’t have to clutter up my wallet or purse and ddn’t risk losing or forgetting about it. You can then transfer them all to a file on your computer and name them in an organized way and voila, a new method.

But then… I realized we can take this even further and make our lives even easier. There’s an app for that! There are actually many apps for that. I went with Shoeboxed because it seemed really straight forward and didn’t have too many bells and whistles. The app stores receipts for you and you can make notes about them and tag them as reimbursable, deductible or I’m not sure.

Do you use an app for your receipts? Why do you love it?

Photo credit: my.datasphere.com.

Photo credit: my.datasphere.com.

Work & Money: Maximizing Your Benefits

When you start working with at a new company, you may get a physical folder or an email with all of your benefits listed and explained. This probably comes at an overwhelming time when you want to hit the ground running and do excellent work on your first projects and aren’t that interested in making sure you have the correct amount of disability insurance or that you are maximizing your transit benefits.

That’s okay! If you don’t have the time in the first week, make a note or mark your calendar to remind yourself to come back to the packet. BUT make sure that you do come back to it because your benefits are part of your total compensation and you don’t want to leave free money on the table. If you have been at your company a while and aren’t sure if you are maximizing your benefits, do a check and see what you have available to you and what you are using. Tackle a couple items a day until you get through all of your benefits. Make sure to maximize anything that says pre-tax because you will be saving 20-35% on these items. Unfortunately, all benefits might not be relevant to you. If you don’t have children, the free childcare benefit won’t be too helpful or interesting. If your company has a benefits page on their website, check it out. I found that my past company had an agreement with my wireless provider and I could receive 30% off my phone bill. Not too shabby!

Some other great benefits are transit benefits which give you pre-tax spending on items such as your subway card, parking or train tickets to and from work, fitness benefits which give you a stipend for the gym or any gym classes you want to take, flexible spending which provides pre-tax savings on many qualified medical expenses, phone plan discounts, paid time off or vacation days, stock purchase plans where you get a discount on company stock, health care benefits, disability insurance, life insurance benefits, 401-K company match programs and education benefits where the company will pay for certifications, certain degree programs and continuing education.

Photo credit: www.spi-global.com.

Photo credit: www.spi-global.com.

How do you budget your time?

I’ve wanted to get a better idea of how I use my time and then figure out how to maximize it. I guess it’s only natural for a money coach to want to budget her time! I was so excited when my coach brought it up this week and I have been printing out and marking up calendars ever since. We hear the saying, “time is money,” but we often don’t treat it that way. There is a busyness epidemic all around us, where everyone is running around feeling busy and productive but are we actually getting the right things done? Are we actually doing anything to move ourselves toward where we want to go? Are we accomplishing anything important?

Good questions, right?! Well, just like with money we have to start by figuring out what is true now. We can’t get where we want to go if we don’t even know where we are. So I’m starting this week by accounting for each hour of my day to see where I’m spending my time. Not surprisingly, having to write down how I use my time has been quite incentivizing for keeping me on task. As far as my business, the next step will be to assign each task to various categories. Was that hour spent marketing, revenue generating, accounting, etc.?

Where does your time go? How do you budget your time? I’d love to hear what you find!

Photo credit: www.thetastyvegan.com.

Photo credit: www.thetastyvegan.com.