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No Debts! Eight Simple Ways to Save for an Emergency

No Debts! Eight Simple Ways to Save for an Emergency

Most people amass huge amounts of debt during their youth, which they are unable to pay off for many years. There are some who manage to keep their debt in check, or even remain debt free, but once a disaster strikes and there are suddenly some hefty unexpected bills to pay, they too can find themselves in a deep financial hole that’s difficult to dig out of. This is why it is important to have some money squared away for rainy days.

An emergency fund can help you deal with things like your car breaking down, you or someone you love getting seriously ill and spending a lot of time in the hospital, or being invited to an out-of-the-bloom wedding. However, once you have paid the bills, made your credit card and other payments, and spent a large chunk of your salary on groceries, there is often not much left for your emergency fund. Well, fear not my friend, there are plenty of ways to get a bit of extra money and build up a decent emergency fund.

1. Sell your junk, and some of your valuables

Yard sale

    A quick rummage through your basement, attic and garage can reveal plenty of fairly useful stuff that just sits collecting dust. Just because you don’t have any use for it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find someone who will. Take all the junk out and organize a yard sale. You can also look at some of your valuable items that don’t have a lot of emotional value for you–things like paintings, home décor, some jewelry, that relatively new tablet that you barely use, and so on. You can use websites, like Ebay or even some forums, to sell virtually anything that you have lying around.

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    2. Make a big shopping run once a week

    The quickest way to burn through your salary is to use your credit card for small purchases throughout the day. It’s very difficult to keep track of how much you’ve spent–hint, it’s a lot more than you think–and you’ll constantly think of something else you need or want. If you only go on a big shopping spree once a week, with a carefully crafted list, and use cash for any minor purchases during the rest of the week you will be able to control your spending much more effectively. Buying things in bulk can often save you some extra money on different items as well.

    3. Avoid overpriced big-name brands

    Stone vs iPhone 3G

      While it’s worth investing in more expensive high-quality models when it comes to shoes, electronics and cars, for example, a lot of the products out there are very easy to manufacture and utilize cheap active ingredients and materials–that which makes them work. Such items include toothpaste, shampoo, soap, a variety of skin care products, simple t-shirts, most drugs and workout supplements.

      In order to find the best deals and the most cost-effective options, you just need to be patient and dedicated when shopping. Take your time and really look around. With a bit of trial and error, you will soon find out which items you can and can’t cut corners on. By sticking with the basics and going for functionality over marketing hype, you can cut your shopping costs in half.

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      4. Look for another job

      An additional source of income can really help make things easier if you want to save for emergency, without sacrificing much in terms of comfort. You can make use of any skills you might have, or just go with a simple job that doesn’t require a lot of skill.

      Even if you don’t have any particular skills, you have plenty of opportunities to get some free training for a bunch of different professions, from web designer to teacher to nurse aid. These are all jobs that can help you earn a decent amount of money on the side. Be sure to contact your friends, family and acquaintances to see if there are any positions open where you would be a good fit–a bit of networking can yield some impressive results.

      5. Do freelance work

      Freelance work

        If you can’t find the time or energy to work two jobs, you can consider doing some freelance work from home. Even after a long day at work, you can find the energy to sit down at the computer and clock in another 3-4 hours at the computer. Most of us end up spending as much time on the computer playing games or updating our social media profiles anyway, so it’s easy to make a shift to doing something a bit more productive.

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        Check out websites like Elance or Freelancer, and you will quickly find tons of available jobs for anything from writing, data entry, editing and translation, to website and app design. If you’ve got a bit of talent and skill, you can make a quick buck. You won’t get enough to support your family with a few work hours a day, but it will be more than enough to quickly build up a respectable emergency fund.

        6. Monetize your hobby

        Another great way to secure some extra income that you can save for an emergency is to find a way to earn money from your hobbies. You may be able to sell all manner of handcrafted décor and jewelry on Etsy, hold martial arts classes in your garage, teach people how to sing or play piano on Skype, sell some unique collector’s items and so on. You can even pick up a new hobby as a means of becoming proficient in a certain area, say woodcarving, with the ultimate goal of earning some extra money out of it. Almost any hobby can be monetized one way or another, particularly if you’ve acquired a good deal of skill over the years.

        7. Start obsessing about your carbon footprint

        Eco conscious

          Even if you aren’t much of a hippie and don’t care about the environment, which you should, there are plenty of hidden benefits to being an eco-warrior, namely cost reduction. You see, the way we get our energy isn’t all that clean or good for the environment. Even electricity is produced in power plants which are responsible for around a third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

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          Our cars pollute the environment, we use up a huge amount of natural resources and create incredible amounts of garbage that gets thrown out. You get the gist of it. Once we start being more eco-conscious we stop leaving the lights on in rooms when we leave, turn off the devices when not in use, never leave the water running longer than it is necessary and use our cars less often.

          A few simple changes around the home can help save a whole lot of money in the long run. Installing and programming a decent thermostat can shave about 25% off your heating bill, while improving your home’s insulation by caulking up windows and doors, using draft stoppers and window insulation film will bring the cost down even more. Invest a bit of time and effort into converting your home into an eco-friendly zone, and try to reduce your carbon footprint as much as you can. This can make a big difference in how much money you spend every month.

          8. Start making good use of piggy banks in your home

          When people say that every penny counts, they are being quite literal, and quite right. Loose change, one dollar bills and a few fives and 20s here and there–you can spend these without even realizing it, or you can put them into your little savings box each chance you get. It is not something that will reduce your quality of life–in fact, you probably won’t even notice it at all–but all this leftover change and a few larger bills will slowly add up.

          Get a big enough container and put a little something in there each day–even just the loose change in your pocket at the end of the day. After several months, when you open it and pour the money out on the table, you will be pleasantly surprised. It’s not uncommon to see people save up a few hundred dollars this way, without any special effort.

          Staying out of debt is a matter of being responsible with your money and being prepared for unforeseen circumstances. A good emergency fund will help you get through tough times. Anyone can save up a decent amount for money for their emergency fund as long as they heed some of this basic advice.

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          Ivan Dimitrijevic

          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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          Last Updated on January 2, 2019

          How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

          How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

          Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

          Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

          Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

          This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

          Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

          What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

          Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

          When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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          How It Leads to Financial Improvement

          It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

          Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

          Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

          It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

          Types of Personal Finance Software

          When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

          Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

          For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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          Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

          When to Use Personal Finance Software

          So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

          Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

          1. You Have Multiple Accounts

          There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

          If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

          Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

          2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

          Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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          There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

          With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

          3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

          Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

          Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

          Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

          4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

          Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

          You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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          How to Get Started

          From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

          Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

          It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

          When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

          Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

          Final Thoughts

          Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

          In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

          Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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