Many experts recommend you try to build up several months of bare-bones living expenses. We suggest you start with an emergency fund of at least $500 — enough to cover small emergencies and repairs — and build from there.You can’t get out of debt without a way to avoid more debt every time something unexpected happens. And you’ll sleep better knowing you have a financial cushion.
Priority No. 2 is getting the employer match on your 401(k).
Get the easy money first. For most people, that means tax-advantaged accounts such as a 401(k). If your employer offers a match, contribute at least enough to grab the maximum. It’s free money.Why do we make capturing an employer match a higher priority than debts? Because you won’t get another chance this big at free money, tax breaks, and compound interest. Ultimately, you have a better shot at building wealth by getting in the habit of regular long-term savings.
You don’t get a second chance at capturing the power of compound interest. Every $1,000 you don’t put away when you’re in your 20s could be $20,000 less you have at retirement.
Priority No. 3 is a toxic debt. Once you’ve snagged a match on a 401(k), if available, go after the toxic debt in your life: high-interest credit card debt, personal and payday loans, title loans, and rent-to-own payments. All carry interest rates so high that you end up repaying two or three times what you borrowed.If either of the following situations applies to you, investigate options for debt relief, which can include bankruptcy or debt management plans:
You can’t repay your unsecured debt — credit cards, medical bills, personal loans — within five years, even with drastic spending cuts.
Your unpaid unsecured debt, in total, equals half or more of your gross income.
Priority No. 4 is, again, saving for retirement.
Once you’ve knocked off any toxic debt, the next task is to get yourself on track for retirement. Aim to save 15% of your gross income; that includes your company match if there is one. If you’re young, consider funding a Roth individual retirement account after you capture the company match. Once you hit the contribution limit on the IRA, return to your 401(k) and maximize your contribution there.
Priority No. 5 is, again, your emergency fund.
Regular contributions can help you build up to three to six months’ worth of living expenses. You shouldn’t expect steady progress because emergencies happen, but at least you’ll be able to manage them.
Priority No. 6 is debt repayment.
These are payments beyond the minimum required to pay off your remaining debt.If you’ve already paid off your most toxic debt, what’s left is probably lower-rate, often tax-deductible debt (such as your mortgage). You should tackle these only after you’ve gotten your other financial ducks in a row.
Any wiggle room you have here comes from the money available for wants or from saving on your necessities, not your emergency fund and retirement savings.
Priority No. 7 is you.
Congratulations! You’re in a great position — a really great position — if you’ve built an emergency fund, paid off toxic debt and are socking away 15% toward a retirement nest egg. You’ve built a habit of saving that gives you immense financial flexibility. Don’t give up now.If you’ve reached this happy point, consider saving for irregular expenses that aren’t emergencies, such as a new roof or your next car. Those expenses will come no matter what, and it’s better to save for them than borrow.
Divide your income among needs, wants, savings and debt repayment, using the 50/30/20 budget as a guide.
In its simplest form, budgeting is a third-grade math problem.
If I have a take-home pay of, say, $2,000 a month, how can I pay for housing, food, insurance, health care, debt repayment, and fun without running out of money? That’s a lot to cover with a limited amount, and this is a zero-sum game.
A budget is an answer. Here’s how to set one up.
NEED HELP STARTING YOUR BUDGET?
Frugal Overload breaks down your spendings and costs to show you ways to save.
Figure out your after-tax income. If you get a regular paycheck, the amount you receive is probably it, but if you have automatic deductions for a 401(k), savings, and health and life insurance, add those back in to give yourself a true picture of your savings and expenditures. If you have other types of income — perhaps you make money from side gigs — subtract anything that reduces it, such as taxes and business expenses.
Choose a budgeting plan. Any budget must cover all of your needs, some of your wants and — this is key — savings for emergencies and the future.
Automate your savings. Automate as much as possible so the money you’ve allocated for a specific purpose gets there with minimal effort on your part. An accountability partner or online support group can help so that you’re held accountable for choices that blow the budget.
Revisit your budget as needed. Your income, expenses, and priorities will change over time. Adjust your budget accordingly, but always have one.
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A budget is a plan for every dollar you have. It’s not magic, but it represents more financial freedom and a life with much less stress.
Try a simple budgeting plan
We recommend the popular 50/30/20 budget. In it, you spend roughly 50% of your after-tax dollars on necessities, no more than 30% on wants, and at least 20% on savings and debt repayment.
We like the simplicity of this plan. Over the long term, someone who follows these guidelines will have manageable debt, room to indulge occasionally, and savings to pay irregular or unexpected expenses and retire comfortably.
The 50/30/20 budget
A guide for allocating your dollars using the 50/30/20 rule
Monthly after-tax income(required)
How much you have for:
Savings and paying off debt
See your money in one place
NerdWallet tallies up your expenses and shows you how much you’re spending on things like food, bills, travel and more. Plus, I’ll show you ways to save big.
Your needs — about 50% of your after-tax income — should include:
Minimum loan payments. Anything beyond the minimum goes into the savings and debt repayment category.
Childcare or other expenses you need so you can work.
If your absolute essentials overshoot the 50% mark, you may need to dip into the ‘wants’ portion of your budget for a while.
If your absolute essentials overshoot the 50% mark, you may need to dip into the “wants” portion of your budget for a while. It’s not the end of the world, but you’ll have to adjust your spending.
Even if your necessities fall under the 50% cap, revisiting these fixed expenses occasionally is smart. You may find a better cell phone plan, an opportunity to refinance your mortgage or less expensive car insurance. That leaves you more to work with elsewhere.
Leave 30% of your income for wants
Separating wants from needs can be difficult. In general, though, needs are essential for you to live and work. Typical wants include dinners out, gifts, travel, and entertainment.
It’s not always easy to decide. Is a gym membership a want or a need? How about organic groceries? Decisions vary from person to person.
If you’re eager to get out of debt as fast as you can, you may decide your wants can wait until you have some savings or your debts are under control. But your budget shouldn’t be so austere that you can never buy anything just for fun.
Every budget needs both wiggle room and some money you are entitled to spend as you wish.
Every budget needs both wiggle room — maybe you forgot about an expense or one was bigger than you anticipated — and some money you’re entitled to spend as you wish.
Your budget is a tool to help you, not a straitjacket to keep you from enjoying life, ever. If there’s no money for fun, you’ll be less likely to stick with your budget — and a good budget is one you’ll stick with.
Commit 20% of your income to savings and debt repayment
Use 20% of your after-tax income to put something away for the unexpected, save for the future and pay off debt. Make sure you think of the bigger financial picture; that may mean two-stepping between savings and debt repayment to accomplish your most pressing goals.
We have all been there (some of us still are). We feel good about the money in our pocket, we buy some food, we make a purchase that we want (but don’t necessarily need) and suddenly, we’re short on cash.
Does this happen to you more than you’d like? Does it stress you out? (it stresses all of us) Or even force you into debt?
It’s probably time to make a budget.
Don’t worry, it’s easy! And you can use a calculator!
Really, a budget is just a list.
Step 1: Take a paper and draw a line down the middle.
Step 2: Make a list of all your income coming in the door every month. Every paycheck you get. Maybe a regular side hustle. Do you get alimony or child support? What about income from investments? Everything.
Step 3: Then, on the other side, start writing your expenses. Start with the big stuff: rent, car payments or transportation, utilities, groceries, any debt payments you need to make — things like that.
Step 4: What about everything you spend money on that you like, but maybe don’t need? Eating out, entertainment, that new pair of shoes. Add those as a list to your expenses. Treating yourself is great! But you want to do it within your budget.
Step 5: Don’t forget to set aside some savings for a rainy day. It’s smart to have this baked right into your budget.
Now you have the beginnings of your monthly budget! You can add up all your expenses and subtract it from your post-tax income. How did you do?
It’s most efficient to build this kind of budget on a spreadsheet somewhere — whether it’s Microsoft Excel or a Google doc. Then add new expenses as you spend.
And those new expenses will surely pop up. Try to do as much planning as you can for those once or twice a year costs — like buying presents around the holidays, or that vacation you plan every year. Or, the unexpected doctors visit.
The more you track your spending and keep an eye on it, the better you’ll get with your monthly expenses.
Keeping electronic records of your spending will help you stay organized. And there are apps out there that can help you too — some can link your credit and debit cards to your budget so you can keep track, or even set limits.
At the end of the day, it’s still a rat race out there. Money can be tight even if you’re doing everything right.
But the best way to not be scared is to be prepared. And the budget is your first step.
Sometimes the hardest thing about saving money is just getting started. This step-by-step guide on how to save money can help you develop a simple and realistic plan to save for goals, big or small.
1. Record your expenses
The first step to saving money is to figure out how much you spend. Keep track of all your expenses—that means every coffee, household item, and cash tip. Once you have your data, organize the numbers by categories, such as gas, groceries, and mortgage, and total each amount. Consider using your credit card or bank statements to help you with this.
2. Make a budget
Once you have an idea of what you spend in a month, you can begin to organize your recorded expenses into a workable budget. Your budget should outline how your expenses measure up to your income—so you can plan your spending and limit overspending. In addition to your monthly expenses, be sure to factor in expenses that occur regularly but not every month, such as car maintenance.
3. Plan on saving money
Now that you’ve made a budget, create a savings category within it. Try to save 10 to 15 percent of your income. If your expenses are so high that you can’t save that much, it might be time to cut back. To do so, identify nonessentials that you can spend less on, such as entertainment and dining out, and find ways to save on your fixed monthly expenses.
Tip: Consider the money you put into savings a regular expense, similar to groceries, to reinforce good savings habits.
4. Choose something to save for
One of the best ways to save money is to set a goal. Start by thinking of what you might want to save for—perhaps you’re getting married, planning a vacation or saving for retirement. Then figure out how much money you’ll need and how long it might take you to save it.
Here are some examples of short- and long-term goals:
Short-term (1–3 years)
– Emergency fund (3–9 months
of living expenses, just in case)
– Down payment for a car
Long-term (4+ years)
– Down payment on a home or a
– Your child’s education
If you’re saving for retirement or your child’s education, consider putting that money into an investment account such as an IRA or 529 plan. While investments come with risks and can lose money, they also create the opportunity for compounded returns if you plan for an event far in advance. See step No. 6 for more details.
5. Decide on your priorities
After your expenses and income, your goals are likely to have the biggest impact on how you allocate your savings. Be sure to remember long-term goals—it’s important that planning for retirement doesn’t take a back seat to shorter-term needs. Learn how to prioritize your savings goals so you have a clear idea of where to start saving. For example, if you know you’re going to need to replace your car in the near future, you could start putting money away for one now.
6. Pick the right tools
If you’re saving for short-term goals, consider using these FDIC-insured deposit accounts:
Certificate of deposit (CD), which locks in your money for a fixed period of time at a rate that is typically higher than savings accounts
For long-term goals consider:
FDIC-insured individual retirement accounts (IRAs), which are tax-efficient savings accounts
Securities, such as stocks or mutual funds. These investment products are available through investment accounts with a broker-dealer. Remember that securities are not insured by the FDIC, are not deposits or other obligations of a bank and are not guaranteed by a bank. They are subject to investment risks, including the possible loss of your principal.
Tip: You don’t have to pick just one account. Look carefully at all of your options and consider things like balance minimums, fees, and interest rates so you can choose the mix that will help you best save for your goals.
7. Make saving automatic
Almost all banks offer automated transfers between your checking and savings accounts. You can choose when, how much and where to transfer money or even split your direct deposit so a portion of every paycheck goes directly into your savings account. Splitting your direct deposit and setting up automated transfers are simple ways to save money since you don’t have to think about it, and it generally reduces the temptation to spend the money instead.
8. Watch your savings grow
Review your budget and check your progress every month. Not only will this help you stick to your personal savings plan, but it also helps you identify and fix problems quickly. These simple ways to save may even inspire you to save more money every day and hit your goals faster.
An American family spends an average of $504 per year on cleaning supplies. That’s a lot of money, especially toward products that are made mostly of water! In the spirit of saving, Sparkle® paper towels brings you a way to seriously scrub down your cleaning budget: homemade household products. If you cut 75 percent of your cleaning-supply spending (which many of the following ideas do), you could save up to $378 a year. That could cover 2.5 weeks of groceries, 10 months of air-conditioning, or 47 movie tickets. Pick your jaw up off the floor and get ready to DIY!
This cleaner is the solution to so many messes — in the kitchen, bathroom and the dinner table where your little one (perpetually) spills some milk. Vinegar is a homemade cleaning heavyweight and the star of this potion, with disinfecting properties thanks to its acidity. A batch of this miracle worker cost its inventor 52 cents, or a sixth of what leading cleaners sell for.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
1 part water
1 part vinegar
10-15 drops essential oils of choice
Pour all three ingredients into the spray bottle, shake, and bam – you are done creating your all-purpose cleaner! Make sure to shake before each use to ensure ingredients are well mixed.
Save lots with this easy-to-make glass cleaner. It’s as simple as vinegar + rubbing alcohol + water — three ingredients already in your house! The gamechanging ingredient in this concoction is rubbing alcohol, which works to dissolve dirt and oil and dries quickly for a streak-free finish.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
½ cup rubbing alcohol
½ cup white/distilled vinegar
Water (Clean tap water is fine for short-term use. Use distilled or boiled and cooled water for long-term use.)
Essential oils of choice (optional)
16 oz. glass spray bottle
Add the alcohol and vinegar to the spray bottle first. Then added water into the bottle until it is full. If you do not care for the vinegar scent (which goes away when the surface dries), add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. When using, spray the cleaner on windows and mirrors, then wipe with a microfiber cloth. Store spray bottle at room temperature when not in use.
It’s worth repeating, vinegar is the cleaning superhero that conquers all. This recipe for fabric softener uses it as a softening agent and static cling fighter, while a measure of conditioner incorporates your favorite scent. And at as low as $2 per batch, the price can’t be beat.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
12 oz. container of hair conditioner
1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar
3 cups warm water
Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl and whisk together. Pour ingredients into a storage container (e.g. glass jar with a lid), and that is it! You are ready to use your homemade fabric softener.
This DIY makes use of the simple ingredients to fight unwelcome odors. Baking soda acts as a deodorizer, while essential oils add your favorite scent. Essential oils are another concentrated ingredient; a little will go a long way. Mix the ingredients and place in a small jar to make this easy room freshener. Perfect for bathrooms, your pet’s favorite chair and teenager’s bedrooms everywhere.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
1 TBSP of baking soda
2 cups warm water
Essential oils of choice
Start by adding the baking soda to the spray bottle, followed by adding in the 2 cups of water. Put the lid on the spray bottle and shake well. Once the baking soda has dissolved, take off the lid. Add 10 drops of essential oil. Shake all ingredients together, and you are ready to deodorize your house. Spray your chemical-free refresher on fabrics or in the air to leave your house smelling…refreshed!
This two-ingredient furniture polish employs olive oil for shine and lemon juice to help remove any buildup or stains. Leaving your furniture shiny and lemony-fresh will only cost you $1.55 per bottle, a fraction of leading commercial wood polishes.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
2 parts olive oil
1 part lemon juice
Spray bottle or empty jar
In an empty spray bottle or jar, mix 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice. Shake well! Now you have yourself some natural, chemical-free wood polish. Spray or pour sparingly onto wood and in circular motions, rub the polish into the wood until it is well buffed with a soft cloth.
Cleaning out the oven is not for the faint of heart. Between the crouching, scrubbing and nauseating fumes, we tend to avoid it for as long as possible. This oven cleaner is nontoxic and fume-free, and budget-friendly. Just mix baking soda and salt for ultimate grease-cutting, scouring power. Let it sit and work its magic!
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
¼ cup castile soap or concentrated dish detergent
1 cup baking soda
½ cup coarse sea salt or kosher salt
Distilled white vinegar
Sponge or scrubbing brush
First, mix the soap, baking soda, and salt, adding a little water, if needed to make a paste. Then apply your paste the interior of the oven and let sit for several hours, preferably overnight. When ready, dip a sponge or scrubbing brush into the warm water and wash the interior clean. Spray interior with some distilled white vinegar to rinse away any excess paste residue.
Bleach pens are the laundry room sidekick we can’t live without. But they’re a little pricey! This homemade bleach pen will cost you a minuscule 25 cents. That’s not a typo. Cornstarch, water, bleach and a little bit of stovetop magic make for a household product that’s cheaper than anything we can remember buying … ever.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
1 cup cold water
5 tablespoons cornstarch
5 tablespoons regular bleach
Medium sized sauce pan
Container of choice (e.g condiment bottles)
Container of choice (e.g condiment bottles)
Mix cold water and cornstarch and whisk together in a medium sized saucepan. It’s important that the water is cold so that the cornstarch doesn’t cause any lumps in the gel. Over medium high heat, stir the mixture continuously until it is very thick and pasty. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Add the bleach to the gel and blend well. Carefully pour the gel mixture into container of choice like an empty glue bottle or condiment bottle. Bada bing! You have your own gel bleach pen. Use the same way you would a regular bleach pen on dirty areas like grout. Also, when working with bleach it might be a good idea to use gloves!
Your kitchen is the heart of the home and is where you spend most of your time right? Then you know how frustrating it can be when your kitchen is cluttered, unorganized, and you can’t find anything or don’t know what you have! That is why having organized kitchen cabinets is so important to have a well functioning kitchen, and having organized kitchen cabinets is easy when you use some of these brilliant hacks! These 13 genius ways to organize your kitchen cabinets will show you how to organize kitchen cabinets the easy way and finally get your kitchen organized!
GET A MEASUREMENTS GUIDE
This cute measurements guide can go on the inside of your cabinet door! Use it to help you organize your measuring cups and spoons as well as a quick guide for measurements conversions.
Over the door hanging baskets are one of my favorite ways to organize kitchen cabinets. You could use an over the door hanger for cutting boards, oven mitts, plastic bags, etc! There are so many different ways you can organize with these and they are a cheap solution to add more ways to organize your kitchen.
We store our dry baking goods in large storage containers to keep them fresh longer, but we don’t have a pantry to keep them in. So instead, we store our dry goods in our lazy susan. It is the perfect height forlarge airtight containersand the functionality of the lazy susan makes it easy to keep everything organized and easy to find!
Knives are an important part of a kitchen, but knife blocks tend to take up a lot of counter space room and look chunky. Instead of storing them on your countertops, keep them stored away and organized in adrawer organizer for knives.
Don’t have enough room in your pantry or cabinets for all of your canned goods? No problem! Make this DIY canned good organizer and keep your kitchen organized! This is such a brilliant idea and takes up minimal space!Find out how to build it here!
If you keep your medications in your kitchen, organizing them by the person is a great way to keep your medications organized. Dividing the medications into separate baskets will make it so much easier to find what you are looking for and help you avoid a basket full of random bottles of pills.
Pots organizers and pot lid organizers are a must have for your kitchen no matter how big or small! They can make a cluttered cabinet be organized in a matter of minutes. And it will help to keep your cabinet organized longer!
Adding shelves to the end of your kitchen cabinets is a perfect way to store and organize your cookbooks! It’ll free up space in your cabinets and give you a designated space to do so! Plus it is a great way to add a touch of color and decor to your kitchen! You can do this just like they did by painting theIkea Bekvam Spice Rack.
Isn’t it frustrating that the measuring spoons seem to always be missing or you can’t find your 1/4 measuring cup? Solve that problem by using akey rail to hang your measuring cups and spoons! Just mount it to the back of your cabinet and hang everything up! Such a brilliant idea to keep your baking supplies organized!
Happy Sunday everyone. It’s almost time for another busy week for us! Summer is approaching fast and we are doing all we can to get any organization out of the way before going to our summer house in June.
I want to start this month of April with preparing you for May. How? We are going to organize every room of your home together. Step by step.
Organization helps us by saving time and saving us money. It really does! We all need help saving time and money and this will help you SO much!
Let’s start with the Living room. We have 4 kids and they have toys. Here are 5 ways to organize your living room with kids.
1. Ottoman Turned Toy Box
As Melissa Boyer shares about her cute storage ottoman find below, “It has proved to be a fantastic purchase for us! My kids can easily get toys in & out of it… In addition, it can easily be moved around to the main sitting area if extra seating is ever needed.”
Closed storage options like built in cabinets or a free standing buffet ordresser, are great for storing toys in the living room. Consider using baskets or boxes within the space to contain smaller like items or designate drawers to different groups of toys.
This can be a beautiful space for storing toys or games, while still fitting in with the look and design on the room. Best options are a shelf underneath or several drawers. If you have items that don’t get accessed frequently, even a chest with a top that opens up would be great for hidden storage.
Here are 10 Best Inspiring Small Bathroom Storage Ideas to be Well Organized. Bathroom storage is essential for keeping your bathroom tidy and clutter free. If you’ve got a small bathroom or a large family or both then you are probably in need of some clever bathroom storage ideas to help keep clutter behind closed doors and more attractive items out on a show. There are so many essential bits and pieces in a bathroom that you just can’t store elsewhere: razors, hairbrushes, cotton wool pads, loo roll, spare soaps, toothpaste. All of these must-haves need somewhere to live and sometimes more than one set of bathroom storage is needed. Whether you need one, two or all of these storage ideas, these tricks, and tips for squeezing a little more space out of your bathroom aren’t to be missed. Read on to see how to de-clutter your bathroom. 1. Fit It All In
(Credit: Driven by Decor) This bathroom is a beautiful example of getting creative with a small space. Organized and simple! Creating storage also that just blends perfectly! 2. Build in Statement Storage
Offset a fresh and light color palette with a dramatic focal piece. A dark-blue vanity stands out in a big way in this bathroom. Matte-black hardware adorn the cabinets and drawers to complete the look.
Photo Credit: Kirsten Holmstedt 3. Towel Rod Behind the Toilet
Hand towels are great here, given their small size, but if you’ve got the vertical space, don’t be afraid to hang bath towels above the toilet. Don’t be grossed out by the proximity, in a small bathroom, everything is close to the toilet. 4. Floating Ladder Shelving
Brilliant and beautiful! Shelving that is deeper at the bottom and shallower at the top is an efficient use of space that feels less bulky than a standard shelving unit. 6.) Change Out the Hardware
Credit: Jesse Coulter This can change EVERYTHING! It has always amazed me that the simplest things sometimes make the biggest difference! 7. Hang it All
If you’re short on floor space, make your walls do all the work instead. Spend time seeking out wall hanging storage that’s the exact right size for the space you have – too big and it’ll swamp the room, too small and you won’t have enough room for all your stuff. Making use of every inch of space is essential in a small bathroom. Marian Parsons ofMiss Mustard Seedhung an easy-to-make handmade cabinet to make use of the empty wall space. The different compartments store a variety of bathroom items while maintaining an organized look. 8. Plants!
A small bathroom can sometimes feel claustrophobic, and what better way to breath life into space than with plant life!? Greenery that requires low light and humidity tend to thrive here. 9.Create Counter Space
Remodel your interior home design with a good stunning small master bathroom and make it great. This really helps with organizing! Keeps everything off the counters. Credit: Green virals
10. Turn Crates into Wall Shelves
(Image credit: Matt Cant)
Look to the upcycling trend when considering storage. Turn wooden crates into rustic bathroom shelving by fixing the back of the crates to the wall. These are ideal for storing folded hand towels, loo rolls and baskets of toiletries.