How To Budget for a Staycation

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budget for a staycation

Whether you’re dreaming of an hour-long massage or lazy days lounging under the summer sun, you’ll want to budget wisely for your staycation. After all, you’ve worked hard for this well-deserved treat, and the last thing you want is for your savings account to plummet just when you’ve begun to relax. (Overspending can also tank your credit if you can’t pay those credit card bills. You can see how your spending is impacting your credit by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

To avoid a staggering credit card bill, here’s how to budget for your staycation, no matter what you’ve got in mind.

Be Realistic 

A whimsical tour through New York City, with stops on Broadway, in SoHo and at Bloomingdale’s, probably isn’t in the cards on a waiter’s budget. Be realistic and do your research so you have a solid idea of what you can afford.

 

Draft a Budget

Just because you’re staying home doesn’t mean you won’t spend money. So it’s a good idea to figure out how much you can comfortably set aside after you’ve covered your monthly expenses. Is it $500? $1,000? More? Whatever it is, remember monthly payments like rent and utilities are a necessity, while your staycation budget isn’t.

Read more:  How to Create a Workable Budget

 

Make a Plan 

More than anything, the secret to drafting a great budget is knowing what it will cover. If you’re planning to play tourist, checking out concerts and staying nearby, research those individual costs and factor them into your budget. Go online, see what’s exciting and make a list of what you’d like to do. Once you’ve narrowed it down, you can decide what makes the most sense based on your budget.

 

Set a Daily Cash Allowance 

Once you’ve narrowed down how much money you can spend, it can be helpful to set a daily allowance for meals, snacks and planned-out activities. Experts recommend inflating the number just a bit to account for unforeseen costs like impulse purchases and emergencies. As your staycation draws closer and your plans change, rework your budget accordingly.

Read More:  How to Make a Cash Budget Work For You

 

Get Creative 

Sometimes, meeting your vacation goals takes a bit of creativity. To that end, find ways to cut back your regular spending, even if you haven’t given it much thought before. Holding off on those lattes or 3 p.m. snacks may just be the thing that allows you to visit the fancy restaurant you’ve been dying to try.

 

More from Credit.com

  • Tips for Improving Your Credit: Your Amount of Debt

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

More by Jill Krasny

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4 Tips for Handling Finances After a Pay Cut

woman sitting on the floor doing work on her computer

Millions of Americans faced pay cuts as the coronavirus pandemic affected industries. While many workers were laid off, some were furloughed, and others kept their jobs but at lower salaries as businesses struggled to stay afloat.

Some workers are reexamining their budgets to cut some of their expenses until they get another job or their employer restores pay cuts. Taking a pay cut means facing the reality of no longer living the same financial life.

Americans often aren’t so good at saving for emergencies such as a car repair or sudden illness, or for their retirement. A recent survey found that 59% of U.S. residents say they live paycheck to paycheck.

Less than 40% of working adults think their retirement savings are on track, and 25% have no retirement savings or pension at all, according to the latest Federal Reserve Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households.

Another alarming fact is that 4 in 10 adults have said that if they had an emergency and had to pay a bill of $400, they would have to borrow the money or sell an item they own. And that is in so-called normal times. Here are four strategies to handle finances after a pay cut.

1. Update Your Budget

There are several ways to deal with the changes to your budget after a change to your salary. Create a budget if you do not already have one. List all your expenses for weekly purchases, from groceries to gasoline and parking fees. Add monthly bills, including rent or mortgage, car loan, cable, cellphone, utility bills, credit cards, student loans, and any other debt such as personal loans.

Update your budget and examine all your expenses to see which ones you can lower or eliminate, even temporarily, for the next six months. Add your income and include part-time jobs, tax refunds, bonuses, and any child support, alimony, or help from parents. This will help you determine how much money you can spend for necessities, expenses, entertainment, and other items such as doctor visits.

There are several free apps that can help you manage your debt easily and update it as your financial circumstances change. To track your spending, decide if you want to track it daily, weekly, or biweekly. You might try different time periods before you decide on one. Some people prefer to keep up with their spending on old-fashioned pen and paper.

SoFi Relay.

After you track your spending for two or three months, you will see a pattern emerge of where most of your money goes. You can also look at older bank and credit card statements to see what you were spending money on last year compared to this year. This will help determine if you had one-time expenses such as medical bills, airplane tickets, hotel stays, wedding gifts, or a vacation. You might be surprised at what you’re spending your money on. For instance, you might be spending a lot of money on entertainment or buying gifts.

In addition to a budget, create a financial plan for both short- and long-term goals. A plan will help you determine when you can pay off any loans and how much you want to save, say, for a down payment on a house.

2. Cut Expenses

One place many consumers can cut costs is from entertainment, such as their cable bill or streaming services. These can really add up. Canceling all or some of these services can improve your cash flow, which is how much money you have left over at the end of the month. Another place where you can slash expenses is from your food budget. Consider using digital coupons, shopping at warehouse clubs, or going out to eat for lunch instead of dinner.

Your expenses include debt such as credit cards, student loans, and personal loans. Paying more than the minimum balance, refinancing to a lower interest rate. and making extra payments can help you pay down the principal amount, or the original amount that you borrowed, sooner.

Consider refinancing your student loans by checking out both fixed and variable rates. Interest rates are at historic lows. You might be able to pay down your credit card bills faster by taking out a personal loan; those interest rates are often lower. And if that’s the case, the debt could be paid sooner.

Automating the payment of bills can make your life easier. This will also help you avoid paying late fees. You can either have your bills paid automatically through your checking account or set yourself a reminder on your calendar if you have some bills such as utilities that are a different amount each month.

You can also automate your savings. You can have money taken out of your checking or savings account each month and have it automatically invested into your workplace 401(k) plan or an individual retirement account.

Snip, Snip, Snip

When your salary has been slashed, there are several ways you can save money immediately and long term.

Call your mortgage, auto loan, utilities, credit card, and student loan companies to see if you can defer payments for several months. Skipping a few payments can help you get back on your feet sooner. If the company cannot provide this option, see if the interest rate can be lowered on, say, credit cards.

Check with your local nonprofit organizations. Many provide food or partial payments for utility bills. Your local food bank is a good place to start; this can help you lower your monthly grocery bill.

Look online to see if stores are offering deals. Stock up on staples such as beans, rice, and pasta if they are on sale.

If you are still short of money, you might consider talking to family members and friends about obtaining a short-term loan or working on a small project to earn some extra money.

cash management account that keeps track of weekly spending—which then allows creation of a budget based on habits.

There are no account fees for SoFi Money® and you can earn cash-back rewards on spending. And SoFi members can gain financial advice—at no cost.

Learn more about SoFi Money® today.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
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How to Plan a Budget If Your Home Is a Fixer Upper

When your home is a fixer-upper, it can be difficult to even know where to start with a renovation. The list can be overwhelming—fix the patio, change out the mustard yellow carpet, buy furniture, paint the house. With a never-ending to-do list, planning a budget can seem virtually impossible.

By sorting through your list of wants and needs and focusing on essentials, you can outline a budget that won’t keep you up at night. Here are some tips on how to plan a budget for turning your fixer-upper into your first dream home.

How to Plan a Budget If Your Home is a Fixer Upper

1. Sort through the “wants” and “needs.”

Where do you even start with a renovation budget? With a limited fixer-upper budget, it’s essential to make functionality the first priority. When the roof is leaking and your fridge is dead, this is where the budget begins. First, determine what infrastructure items require repair or an essential upgrade, as these are typically big-ticket items. Next, focus on beautifying projects that will reap benefits in the long run, like bathrooms and kitchens. Hold off on budgeting fancy appliance upgrades and expensive decor if you already have working items—these can come at a later time after you take care of all the essentials.

How to Plan a Budget If Your Home is a Fixer Upper

2. Consider purchasing used over new.

Give your budget more flexibility by going for used over new with certain big-ticket items. Used appliances, for instance, can be found in great condition from other remodels or homeowners upgrading to the latest technology. Used furniture is also a fantastic way to keep your fixer-upper budget low. Don’t forget—sofas, vintage chairs, tables and more can be easily reupholstered and refinished. They’ll look brand new for just a fraction of the cost. 

How to Plan a Budget If Your Home is a Fixer Upper

3. Be ready to DIY with a gift card.

As a first-time buyer, there’s a 99 percent chance you’ll be diving into the realm of DIY. Learning one or many DIY skills will not only come in handy with home repairs in the future, but it’s a fantastic way to keep labor costs low. If you’re worried your DIY supply budget will get out of hand, however, shop with a gift card to your local hardware store. That way, you’ll always be working with a fixed amount of money and won’t be tempted to add on any expensive extras. It’s a guaranteed way to keep your budget in check.

How to Plan a Budget If Your Home is a Fixer Upper

4. Get creative.

Fixer-uppers are great hands-on projects, and creative solutions are key for keeping your budget in line. For items like cabinetry that may be in good condition but out of style, get creative with refinishes to bring new life into your space. Give your kitchen a fresh take by painting cabinets in a modern shade, or reface them for a whole new look without the added cost of all-new cabinetry. Replace hardware on cabinetry, furniture and built-ins to make your pieces feel brand new. Even outdated fireplaces, doors, furniture and windows can go a long way with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. Consider this cheap alternative to help save room in your budget for the fun stuff.

How to Plan a Budget If Your Home is a Fixer Upper

5. Let the professionals help.

Whether you’re starting with the kitchen or diving into a full-scale remodel, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. No matter what your budget, a professional’s advice can help ensure that your renovation has as few hiccups as possible. City codes, minute details and hidden elements can wreak havoc on projects, so let a master guide you through those hurdles instead of trying to blindly tackle them yourself. Don’t let the potential price tag deter you from investing in having expert guidance—many architects and designers have options for paying an hourly rate. This is a great option, especially for fixer-upper and DIY projects, as it allows your plans to be looked over by professionals without the price tag of a full design scope. 

What are your must haves for your fixer-upper?
 
 
Kerrie Kelly is a California interior designer who has helped many young couples choose their “first-home-together” decor. Kerrie writes on her design experiences for The Home Depot, offering homeowners ways to save money without compromising design.
 

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

Expert Interview with Tiffany Aliche of The Budgetnista on Financial Planning

Financial Eduation is important for everybody regardless of their demographic, and yet it is frequently overlooked by both the young and those who are just trying to get get by.

Tiffany Aliche is passionate about financial planning, and shares that passion, as well as a lifetime of information and practice, on her blog, The Budgetnista.

Tiffany took a moment to tell us about The Budgetnista, how anyone can benefit from sound financial education, and how that education can enrich your life.

Can you briefly describe The Budgetnista for people who aren’t familiar with the site? How did you get started? What differentiates you from the other financial blogs out there?

The Budgetnista is an award-winning financial education firm established in 2008. We specialize in the delivery of financial literacy through seminars, workshops, curricula and trainings. The Budgetnista has been a brand ambassador and spokesperson for a number of organizations, and has served as the personal finance education expert for City National Bank.

I’m happy to say that I’m quickly becoming America’s favorite financial educator. I authored the #1 Amazon bestseller, The One Week Budget and created the LIVE RICHER Challenge.

My love for financial education began at at home. I grew up in a financially-literate household, receiving weekly financial lessons from my CFO father. These lessons paired with my fun personality helped me create a fun, financial blog that resonates with thousands of women.

Who is your regular audience? What are some specific challenges they face, and how do they inform the things that you write about?

The Budgetnista’s audience is women aged 25-45. Their biggest financial issues are debt management, credit, and budgeting. When writing my blog, I focus on offering step-by-step guidance for these specific financial issues. In addition to women needing assistance, they also need encouragement. I try to not only be a source of information, but a source of inspiration as well.

What are some of the financial services The Budgetnista offers? Who is likely to utilize your services?

The financial services offered by The Budgetnista are keynotes, workshops and seminars on the following personal finance topics: money mindset, budgeting, savings, debt and credit. Many colleges, non-profits, and corporate entities utilize these services.

Each year, The Budgetnista also offers the LIVE RICHER Challenge; a FREE, online financial challenge created by The Budgetnista to help 10,000 women achieve seven specific financial goals in 36 days.

Your motto is “Live richer. To create a measurable lifestyle shift, through financial education.” First of all, can you briefly define financial education, and relate why it is so important? Secondly, how much of a noticeable shift has there been in your own lifestyle since you implemented this education?

Financial education through The Budgetnista provides participants with the tools they need to make sound financial decisions. It is essential because it grants people the power of choice, not just with their finances, but in other aspects of their lives as well.

In my own life, I’ve seen the power of financial education first hand. After a devastating job loss during the recession, I was able to create a business (The Budgetnista) and design the life I always dreamed of.

In the long version of your bio, you’ve written, “By beginning to educate yourself, you’ve taken the first step towards financial empowerment.” How does that information translate into daily life? If this is the first step, what’s the next?

Education is the first step on your financial journey. The next step is to take action. Once you know how to manage your money – budget, save, reduce debt, and fix credit – you can use these skills to navigate your daily life.

One of the goals of The Budgetnista is to give someone a clearer understanding of how to more skillfully manage their money. What are a few basic tips people can use to get started?

Here are The Budgetnista’s top 3 tips to get started on managing your money.

  • 3) Open a Bills Account: This is a FREE checking account (if possible), where you allocate your bill money each month. Separating your funds will help you to avoid “accidentally” spending money designated for bills.
  • 2) Give and get an allowance: I bet you never thought you’d get one again. After creating your budget, decide which items you can pay for with cash each month and add the amounts up; then divide the total by four. That’s how much your new weekly allowance is. If you take weekly cash allowances, it will help to curb your spending. Also, give yourself a CASH allowance when shopping and leave the cards at home. This way when the cash is done, so are you.
  • 1) Automate: By taking out the “flawed” human element (aka you), you’re more likely to stick to your budget. I’ve automated EVERYTHING; payments, bills, saving, investing, even giving to charity.

You recently wrote a blog post about how to start planning for retirement now. First of all, why is this important? Secondly, does it seem like this is something that young adults are neglecting?

Retirement is critical for anyone who wants to maintain their lifestyle after they stop working. Many young adults neglect this because there is a disconnect between their present self and their future self.

You also recently wrote about a budget trip to Jamaica you get to take. What are some fun things that you’ve gotten to do simply by getting your finances in order?

My favorite thing to do, as a result of getting my finances in order, is travel. In the past few years, I’ve been to 16 different countries. Learning to master my money has given me the freedom to actively design and live my life.

You’ve talked about how to make a budget for people who don’t have a regular paycheck. What were some of the basics of that article, and do you feel this is a reflection of the changing economy we’re living in, and if so, how?

Budgeting on an irregular income can be difficult. Here are some tricks to help you.

  • Calculate your Financial Baseline: Your financial baseline is how much your life costs you each month without the bells and whistles.
  • Be Like the Squirrel: Squirrels are super-smart savers. When acorns are plentiful, they work their hardest and gather as many as possible. Squirrel away your money when times are good, and live off of your stash when things aren’t.
  • Pay Yourself: Once you identify how much you spend each month, pay it to yourself from your business/savings account. Your clients/income provider should “pay” your savings account, then you pay yourself a regular income from the money that sits in that account.
  • Live by Percentages: Those that receive a regular paycheck can live by exact amounts; but for those of us with irregular incomes, we have to live by percentages. Allocate a percentage of your income to different categories: bills, savings, investing, spending, etc.
  • Separate to See: The best way to gauge how close you are to achieving your financial goals is to house your money in different bank accounts.
  • Systemize: Automate everything: transfers, bills, saving, giving and investing.

You’ve also offered some travel tips for traveling on a budget. What are some ways people can save while they’re traveling? How possible is it to have fun on the cheap?

My top 3 Budgetnista travel tips are:

  • Be flexible: Sometimes travel deals spring up on sites. The more flexible you are about your travel destination and timeframe, the more likely you’ll be able to take advantage of those deals.
  • The right sites: My favorite deal sites are: theflightdeal.com, jetradar.com, europeandestinations.com and airfarwatchdog.com
  • When to book: The best day to book a domestic flight is Tuesday at 3pm (this is when the sales hit). The cheapest day to fly domestically is Wednesday.

Financial education is not a one-off event; it is an ongoing process that requires practice to perfect. For more education and inspiration, like The Budgetnista on Facebook , connect on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter, and subscribe to The Budgetnista YouTube Channel.

The post Expert Interview with Tiffany Aliche of The Budgetnista on Financial Planning appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

How to Save for Retirement in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s

You don’t want to work the rest of your life. Here’s how to save in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, even if retirement seems light years away.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com