The holidays are over I hope yours happy and you got all that you hoped for. I do hope you did not over extend your budget and over spend your credit cards getting gifts trying to make and endless list of people happy.
You may ask why should I make an annual budget. You should, any successfully run business makes an annual budget, then a five year budget then where it wants to be in ten years. If you want a well planned life financially you should make an annual budget a five year budget and so on and stick to it. Of course if changes take place in your life you have to make adjustments to that budget such as life changes. Small but important note always put aside 3 months of salary in the event of job loss to carry you over until you find another one. If you don't ever lose your job or you are one of the fortunate ones that walk out of one job into another job. That money you never ever touch. 20, 30 or when you retire will be there to carry you over until you start collecting your retirement income.
First start with your paycheck, how often you get paid total it for the month you know how to figure out what you make a year. The next thing is to start out with your mandatory expenses Shelter, Food and clothing. Add them up see what you spend. Then add your necessary luxuries like internet, cell, phone direct, TV, wifi cards if you purchase time. Some items we just want not necessarily need. Compare your income to your expenses
First and foremost vamp up your 401K contributions if you can in the year 2012. That should be number one on your list in getting your finances in order. I myself have a pension anyone that is the age bracket of my children now have to pay or save their own retirement account. I hate to say this but realistically speaking a 401K will not be enough of a pension for you to live off of when you are of the age to retire. You must consider creating an additional streaming income for your self another business or invest as much as you comfortably can and never touch it or borrow from it. Start a medical savings account to meet your deductibles for your medical bills. You must live within your means. meaning don't live on credit. If you cannot pay cash for it or pay it off in 90 days you cannot afford it. I am talking about a 66 inch flat screen TV or any gadgets we feel we cannot live without. Don't let your pride or ego get into your head when you get ready to make a purchase use common sense, can I afford it? Can I pay cash for it without skipping another bill? If you can pay cash without skipping another bill then you can get it if the answer is no. You cannot afford it. Not including a car or a house. Those are the only two things to purchase on credit, well to finance. It does not make sense to buy anything else on credit
Lets put this into order, first add up your income, then add up your expenses. Deduct your expenses from your income. If you come up with money left over you are doing good! If your come up short more expenses than money something is wrong. Many banks PNC bank is one and quicken books offer what is called a virtual wallet. The wallett tracks your income and where your money is going. If you take a look at my how to save money page you will see how to cut back on expenses page. http://www.allsharonsfavorites.com/moneysavingtips.htm
Years ago I was taught from several different sources to pay off credit cards. Financial advisors, news reports magazine financial health reports and believe it, bible class at church. For years in the past I did not have credit cards. I won't go into detail how I got lulled into getting back into credit card spending and using. Six months of this writing I will be debt free, credit cards paid off. It may take you a while it may take you a few years I will admit it so that you will not be discouraged it has taken me 5 years to get out of debt. debt it may only take you 3. Whatever your outstanding debt is it, will be worth it. Take Charge America their website is: https://www.takechargeamerica.org/free-debt-review/get-help/ The website is secure. If you are not comfortable using the internet their phone number is 1-866-822-9961. They are a reputable debt consolidation company that really works to assist you in getting out of debt! I highly recommend them. Five star agency. This agency worked with time to eliminate my debt! Before you sign up with any other debt reduction agency research them if you live in the United States check out the Better Business Bureau, ask them for references. Previous customers whom they have helped do extensive research before you send them your money to help. Take Charge America is already accredited with the Better Business Bureau. I have heard horror stories of lest than reputable companies that left people worse off than before by not even paying their bills on time when they were suppose to help then get out of debt.
Save for Christmas? Yes that is exactly what you should do. You and you alone have to live within your means. Since my husband an I retired we have not been able to purchase Christmas gifts for our grown children and grandchildren like we did when we were working we are on a fixed income and our pension is less than what it was when we were working. Actually almost half of what we were making. Looking back to when I was a young adult, the way my parents handled Christmas gifts. Once we became young adults and moved out of our parents home it was understood you no longer received Christmas gifts. The understanding was you don't live here anymore you don't get a gift. We, my generation have spoiled our children.
When my son's were small I joined the Christmas club at my local credit union. They has strict rules you had to join at least 10 or 11 months before Christmas you under no circumstances were allowed to withdraw from the account. This was to assist you to ernestly save money for Christmas shopping. This was so wonderful for me I always had money for Christmas! No credit cards to shop with! Just hard cold cash and no debts to pay off when the money ran out I was finish shopping.
In order to have enough money you must make a list ahead of time of whom you want to purchase gifts for, how much you want to spend on each person add that up then divide that by 12 and that is how much you have to have taken out of your check each month for Christmas savings. It is a real stress reliever. When you get to I don't want to say the end of you life but when we were young and it was just my brothers and sisters that was just 6 gifts and 2 one for mom and dad. Then we started getting married, having kids. The lists started getting longer. Our children grew up, some got married they started having children. Ok the lists could become endless. That is why my parents philosophy was once you move out your rights to gifts ends. You love your families for the sake of your finances you have to put an end or think ahead where does it all end. Get family token gifts. One of the nurse at one of my doctor's office suggested family gifs movie night gift. a basket with popcorn, candy video or whatever else you can think of to put into the basket. On one of our TV good morning shows someone suggested a basket of flavored potato chips. Remember it does not have to be expensive just that you thought of them. If they do not appreciate it, I'm not cold hearted, then next year cross them off your list, no gift. Why stress yourself trying to please someone who does not appreciate you. We will still be family if I don't buy you a gift. We can still be friends if I don't get you a gift. Friendship nor love should not be bought.
Years ago I use to be able to buy gifts ahead like in January with the after Christmas sales and put them away over the year for Christmas by the end of the year. This no longer works. With the Retail establishment there products strategic placement what is out after Christmas is obsolete by the end of that following year be it a cell phone, a tablet a new wii game fashion, TV. or whatever it is you can imagine you want to buy for a gift. That plan I use to have no longer applies. It is all in the retail establishments plan to see how fast they can separate you from your money. In today's modern society there are certain items that are a convenient necessity if that item generates income for you. Such as a computer which is what you use to design software programs on so you need the internet. You need your cell phone in traveling in route to call form one place to another. I am retired and I am using my computer to make money using my computer and the internet. My point is I have been using the same netbook computer for the past 2 going on 3 years. My desk top I have had quite a while longer than that It does need an upgrade. My cell phone also now needs an upgrade. You do not need to buy a new product each year that a newer same product comes out is what I am trying to say. Your child, husband or wife does not need a new cell phone every year just because your phone carrier came out with a newer faster model. We are such a spoiled society!
Now that is a novel idea. Usually when we worked hard at our job we go out and spend money for instant gratification. I know I use to buy something every payday. What brought it to my attention was when my son was small, he said to me, mommy you buy clothes every time you get paid. I immediately stopped. With what happened on Wall Street with the bail out it would be to everyone’s best interest who may be reading this page to save as much money as you can and not spend money on unnecessary things every time you get paid. Now don't get me wrong I am not against treating your self every now and then. Read my page pay the piper.http://www.allsharonsfavorites.com/paythepiper.htm Use moderation. Yes I bought myself a tablet recently. I did not get the most expensive one the iPad I purchased the Vizio 8 inch tablet. For my needs it suits my purpose. I use it each week in church with the Bible app, I use the My Fitness Tracker App to lose weight, I am using the Migraine Tracker to monitor my migraine headaches. It is a handy toy for me. I use the reading applications on it also download books on it take it with we to when ever I have to wait at the doctor's office.
So back to saving your money just for the heck of it. After you have cut back on your unnecessary expenses beefed up your 401K set aside 3 months of your salary. Opened up a Christmas Club account Try to see how much you can save on your own in an interest bearing account and get gratification watching the money grow instead of spending it! Maybe if you save up enough instead of buying a new dress do something different invest it in a savings bond or a CD. Then start again until you reach nice sum take a trip take a class or do something that will enrich your life. Something that will change you forever.