Five Easy Financial Habits You Need to Start Now

5 easy financial habits you need to start now. 5 helpful tips for getting your finances on track.

1. Write out a budget.

This one should be obvious honestly, and I’m sure you’ve heard it many times before. You need to know where your money will be going every week or month.

When you’re setting up your budget include your normal big expenses such as rent/mortgage, car payment, and utilities. But, don’t forget to include small expenses like coffee and lunch, car washes or haircuts.

A great way to set up your budget and track your spending is a free app like Mint. I’ve been using it for years now.

2. Check your balance often.

Check it every day even. This is vital in getting a clear picture of how and where you spend. And it also makes it easier to spot any unauthorized spending.

3. Plan for annual expenses.

You know that you must pay for new tags on your car every year, or spend money on Christmas gifts or Birthdays. So why not start setting aside money for those things now?

I suggest taking the amount you need to spend on something and dividing it by 12. Then you will know how much you need to set aside every month.

4. Research large purchases.

Shopping around could mean saving hundreds or even thousands. If the cost is over $50 I shop around and compare prices first. Buying a new computer, going on vacation or purchasing a car? Spend some time looking around online and comparing prices.

5. Set reminders for bills.

Don’t pay late fees! Set up reminders on your phone or computer for when bills are due. I like to use my iPhone’s Reminders app for this. I set them up to reoccur every month and have it set to remind me the day before a bill is due.

Do you need to get your finances on track? Living paycheck to paycheck? Here are 5 easy tips to straighten out your financial situation.

It’s never too late to start making good choices over bad ones. What are some of your good financial habits? What about your bad ones? Tips for other readers? Please share in the comments below.

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your First Home

Are you looking to become a first time home buyer? Here are 5 mistakes to avoid .

  1. Not getting a pre-approval before looking at homes.

Getting a preapproval before shopping for a home is important to save time and money. For one, you will know beforehand that you are not wasting your time looking at homes that are too expensive for you to be approved for. You might be able to get a general price range based on your income and by knowing how much you want to spend on a mortgage every month, but the amount you want to spend on a home may be significantly more than a lender will approve you for.

Two, this allows you some time to shop around. You want to check with at least three lenders before deciding on one. I recommend your check with your bank or credit union, a different bank than your own and with a mortgage broker. If you go and look at a house without having shopped around or getting preapproved and want to make an offer, your time is now limited in choosing a lender to work with. This is especially true if you live in a competitive market.

 

  1. Forgetting to factor in other expenses.

Many first-time buyers overlook the additional expenses involved in a mortgage payment. Taxes, property insurance, mortgage insurance, HOA fees and higher utility bills are just a few things you will need to factor into how much you can afford.

You will also want to budget for annual maintenance and emergency maintenance savings. Purchasing a home warranty at closing may help cover some of these expenses, but you will need to add that to your budget as well.

 

  1. Not getting references or referrals for Real Estate Agents.

I’ll be the first one to tell you Real Estate is all about the referral. I know that my family, friends, and clients will be my biggest source of business. You should look to your family and friends for an agent they know or have worked with.

If you don’t have any agents referred to you and need to choose one be sure to ask for references or check them online. It may also be a good idea to speak to 2 or 3 agents before deciding on one. Because home buying can be an emotional time in your life, you want to work with someone you feel a connection to.

 

  1. Completely draining your savings.

While putting down 20% is a good thing, as it can save you on having to pay for mortgage insurance and lower your overall monthly payment, you should still have an emergency fund available to you.

It’s always wise to have savings set aside for the unexpected, it’s even more so when you own a home.

 

  1. Financing a purchase before your closing.

Congratulations! You were preapproved, made an offer on your dream home and it’s excepted. Closing is in 30 days and you want to celebrate. Maybe you decide to purchase some new furniture for your home or buy a new car. Don’t finance it if you don’t have to, and if you do, wait until after closing or risk killing the deal.

I’d also suggest not to open and new credit cards during this time either. During the closing process, the lender will be pulling your credit one final time to verify and just a single new inquiry on your report could mean not being approved for the loan.

Are you looking to become a first time home buyer? Here are 5 mistakes to avoid .

 

So, are you considering purchasing your first home soon? Have your purchased before and have a story to share? Please tell me in the comments below.

Seven Easy Cutbacks to Save for a Down Payment

1. Coffee Shop Coffees

How many times a week do you stop for an expensive coffee drink on the way to work? When I was working full time, I would stop at least 3 times a week for coffee at Starbucks. $5 x 3 a week = $15/week = $780/year. I know some people who grab Starbucks every morning and it really adds up quick. $5×5 = $25/week = $1,300/year.

Could you limit yourself to one a week? If you did you could set aside $1,040 in just one year.

2. Fast Food Lunches

On average, I would spend $10 a day on lunch when I was working at my last job. Between the in-office cafeteria and all my favorite restaurants nearby, I was spending way too much on food.

$10 x 5 a week = $50/week = $2,600/year

So if you can limit yourself to fast food lunch per week you could save $2,080 in one year, and possibly some calories too.

3. Gym Membership

Ok, I don’t want you to stop exercising if you are. But if you have a pricey gym or club membership, consider your alternatives. Can you work out at home? What about your workplace, do they have an onsite gym? What about where you live? Many apartment complexes now have gyms for their residents to use. Have you considered exercising outdoors? If none of those options work for you, (none of these did for us) consider a gym with lower membership fees. My husband and I switched to Planet Fitness a couple of years ago and the basic membership is only $10 a month.

$55 a month is the average gym membership fee. $55 x 12 = $660/year

4. Dinner Out/Take Home

Do you eat out for dinner more than once a week? I know we did at one point, and we are still struggling with this one. It’s easy to get in the habit of ordering dinner. Long days, busy schedules, second jobs, and side hustles make it hard to find the time and energy to cook dinner. My husband and I started doing meal prep sessions. We cook up a bunch of food for the weeks and portion it all out. Now, we limit ourselves to one take out dinner every 2 weeks.

$25 x 2 a week = $50/week = $2,600/year

Eating out only 2 times a month will save you $2,000 a year

5. Cable TV

Now, this is one I haven’t done yet for a couple of reasons. One, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Those are just shows I’m not willing to wait for. And two, the bundle I have with my provider makes my cable service only $20 a month more than if I have just the internet alone. So, for us, it’s totally worth it.

But the average price paid for cable tv service is $65/month. If you’re paying for cable TV separately from your internet service, cancel it and save big time! Chances are, you already have Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime. Stick to one of these services, unless you’re like me and have a panic attack if you don’t get to watch TWD as soon as it airs.

$65 x 12 = $780/year

6. Home Phone

Do you have a home phone line? If you live in an area where you can’t get reliable cell service, then fine. Otherwise, ditch it. Did you get it bundled with your cable/internet? Chances are you can call and get it removed and save.

$25/month = $300/year

7. Movie Dates

I love, love going to the movies! I can’t imagine not going to see certain movies in the theater. My husband and I often go to Thursday night screenings for new movies and no lie, I once waited in line for 18 hours to see the last Harry Potter movie. I know, I’m crazy. That was before reserved seating though, thank God for that. And we used to go all out for movies, popcorn, drinks, candy, and nachos. We paid extra for IMAX and 3D too. There was a time when we were going to the movies twice a month. It was costing us upwards of $125 a month or $1500 a year.

Now we only go to movies we would regret not seeing in the theater. We try to go early mornings on the weekends when it’s usually half price, or late nights when it’s also cheaper. We don’t buy popcorn or drinks, instead, I bring my “movie theater” bag with bottled water and some light snacks. Bonus, we save money and calories!

Consider limiting your movie dates to one every other month, skip the concession stand, hit up the matinees and save $1,400 a year!

Potential Savings in One Year: $8,260!

The point is not to completely deprive yourself of the things you enjoy in life, but to find the balance and watch the savings add up. You’re saving this money for a reason, one which could be life changing! Keep sight of the end goal.

Want to ssve money for a down payment? Considering becoming a first time buyer? Here are 7 expenses you can cut down on to save money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What have you done, or what are you planning to do to save money for a down payment? Please share in the comments below.