Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Budget For The Future

Have you sat down and really thought about your financial future? I know people are busy these days and you think "well I'm young now and I'll have time to do it later." You're dead wrong. You are NEVER too young to start saving for retirement!

They say if a 25 year old puts in $2.00 a day into a savings account ($60.00 a month), buy the time he reaches 65 he'll have a million dollars. However, what is a million dollars these days - really? It's practically chump change with rising housing and cost of living expenses.

So you have to make a budget to save for the future. Don't expect Social Security to kick in, they're having problems already - much less when you get to be that age!

Here are some strategies to help you save for the future and your retirement:

1. Make a list of your monthly income. Include everything from your wages to gambling winnings, child support receive, alimony, and any other income you get every month.

2. Then make a list of your expenses. List everything you spend from your utilities to your cell phone bill. Also your child's violin lessons, pet expenses - everything.

3. Subtract your expenses from your income. Hopefully you are coming out ahead! If not, then you need to make smart decisions on which expenses are a necessity or a luxury. Do you really need a cell phone, or is it just convenient? Discipline yourself now and you'll thank yourself later!

4. Do this for several months. And then at the end of each month, figure out where your money went that was unnecessary. Did you go out to eat more than once a week? Did you buy your lunch instead of making a sandwich from home?

5. Put 10% of your income into a savings plan. This is the "rule of thumb" amongst investors on just how much you should be saving a month. If you make $3000/mo. then you should be saving $300. Pay yourself first!

6. Consider other options besides savings. Perhaps invest in a 401k or an IRA savings plan. Check with your banker to see which one would suit your needs and financial situation the best.

Really that's all there is to it! Never take money out of your savings for frivilous purchases like a new pair of shoes or to go to a movie. That is for your future! However if your car needs a new transmission, this nest egg is there for you!

It just takes a lot of self-discipline and the desire to want to have financial independence. Just apply these easy techniques and you'll be on your way!

Bankruptcy Forms: Having The Right Ones

Filling out bankruptcy forms can be one of the most difficult parts about filing for bankruptcy, although these forms are a necessary evil to complete the legal process. Unfortunately these legalities can add major emotional stress to an already difficult situation. Especially if you have decided to go about filing on your own, without the help of a lawyer or financial service company, you may find yourself overwhelmed with trying to understand which bankruptcy forms are right for which chapter.

If you are an individual who is filing for bankruptcy, most likely you will be filling out bankruptcy forms specifically dealing with either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Even as a business you may be filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, although you may be filing for Chapter 11 as well. In any case, there are separate forms that need to be filled out with each particular chapter stating the intention to file bankruptcy under that chapter.

The individual or business may also have other special bankruptcy forms that go along with a particular chapter. For instance, Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 are reorganization chapters and will require a form that discusses how and when creditors will gather to meet and discuss the finances of the individual or business for repayment plans. If the individual is filing for a complete liquidation, Chapter 7, forms for possible exemption of assets will need to be filled out if the debtor plans to keep any of their personal belongings.

In all cases, the debtor will be required to file bankruptcy forms regarding a statement of petition, a list of creditors, personal income, personal property, and Declaration of penalty under perjury. These forms will simple let the courts know of the individual or business’ plan to file, the assets the debtor has available, the current available income, and the debtor’s knowledge that lying about finances will have legal consequences.

Of course the availability of the forms does not necessarily mean that all individuals or businesses will clearly understand which forms apply to them. If you are confused about which forms to fill out, don’t be afraid to ask the court system for help.

Unfortunately the court system may be overwhelmed with other cases they feel are more important making it difficult to find answers to bankruptcy form questions. In this case, you can always consult with a legal aide, a bankruptcy attorney or even a financial service organization that can help you understand the paperwork better.

Even if you don’t plan on hiring an attorney to handle the case for you, it may be worth the time and energy to consult them regarding the paperwork that goes along with the process. You may also want to consider a bankruptcy service organizations online, which can help answer questions and guide debtors through the process.

Keep in mind that each state court system has secretaries available who can type up the forms for you, although there will be an additional charge for this service. Most law firm or legal aide organizations have similar services that may be beneficial in helping debtors get through the process of filing bankruptcy forms.

Bad Ways To Save Money

Finding new ways to save money on almost anything you buy is almost like getting a raise. Maybe it's even better. When you save twenty dollars on a coat you get to keep the whole twenty dollars. When you make twenty dollars more on your paycheck, you lose five dollars or more of it to taxes.

Finding ways to save money can go too far, though. In a recent newsletter on how to save money, one contributor suggested getting free flowers for weddings by picking up the leftover flowers at a cemetery. She didn't say how you can tell which are "leftovers."

I thought I was cheap! The following are gleaned from real suggestions on ways to save money sent in to "frugality" websites and newsletters. Some cheapskates don't seem to notice that an extra hour at work might put them further ahead than many hours of penny-pinching.

<b>Ways To Save Money - Don't Try These At Home</b>

A mother confessed that she makes her kids stuff their pockets with the free ketchup, salt and other condiment packets every time they were in a fast food restaurant. Oh, if only that were all, but no. She has the kids squeeze the contents of the packets into regular jars of ketchup and mustard too. She says she hasn't bought these condiments in years. Pride is found in strange places.

One creative penny pincher found a way to save money on car washes. He washes his entire car using the squeegee at the gas station. Hmm... I wonder if he takes the toilet paper rolls home from their rest rooms too.

Would you like a free umbrella? One man suggests getting one at the lost and found department of any large public library. You just tell them you lost a black umbrella. They will almost certainly have several, from which you can pick the best one and claim it as your own. What if they have no black umbrellas? I guess we'll have to wait for this guy to publish a "lost umbrella color frequency chart," in order to know which color to try for the next day.

Several contributors to these newsletters know how to save on their long distance phone bills. The most common suggestion is to call people long-distance when you know they won't be home, and leave a message for them. Then they pay for it when they return your call. I suppose if your timing is off, and they answer when you call, you can quickly hang up on them and try again later.

I don't recommend any of these as ways to even the most frugal person. Apart from the ethical issues with some of them, they can be lumped in along with washing and re-using plastic wrap - a time wasting frugality. On the other hand, they are fun to read, and I suppose we could view such measures as cheap entertainment as well. Perhaps you can turn off the lights to save money on electricity and tell the kids it's a game of hide-and-seek, or train your dog to beg from the neighbors so you don't have to feed him.

I wonder how many people actually pay for magazines and newsletters that tell us ways to save money? Do these magazines advise that readers go to the library to read them, or stand reading them in the aisle at the bookstore for a hour? Those are some sure ways to save money.