How to avoid getting buried in holiday debt

The holiday season is in full swing, which means that it’s time to start thinking about buying gifts and booking holidays. As exciting as that may be, you cannot go overboard; otherwise, you’ll end up spending too much, and once the holidays are over, you’ll regret all the debt you’ve taken on. No holiday is worth that kind of stress, so it’s important to avoid getting buried in holiday debt no matter how difficult the Christmas cheer makes it to control your spendings. But don’t worry – it’s possible to have fun holidays and be charitable this winter even when you’re on a budget. You just need a good plan.

Can you avoid getting buried in holiday debt and still enjoy winter festivities?

Winter holidays can be tough on anyone’s budget. Even when you factor in end-of-the-year bonuses, the expenses are sure to set you back a bit. First, you’ll need to buy gifts for friends and family. Next, you should get the Christmas tree or other decorations to deck your home in the holiday spirit. Then, you may want to go on vacation, even if it’s just to visit family. Even if you shop creatively to save some money, the bill will have sent your head spinning by the time you get to treating yourself.

The hard truth is that you’ll need to give up some things when you’re looking to celebrate on a budget. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself! The key is finding cheap or free holiday fun. Go out and play in the snow, use last year’s decorations, or throw a party at your own home instead of going out. Just spending time with friends and family and making memories can be a great way to spend the holidays without spending a lot of money.

Tips on how to avoid getting buried in holiday debt

Holiday debt is typically accumulated on credit cards, making it one of the worst types of debt. It’s easy to fall into without really noticing and hard to get out of. So it’s best to avoid it by following some wise spending habits during the winter season.

Set a budget and stick to it

The simplest way to avoid debt is to decide in advance how much you can spend and then stick to the plan. By now, you should be used to creating a household budget; creating a holiday budget is not too different from that. Start by taking a look at your finances. See how much you can afford to spend. It’s important to be realistic at this stage. If you set your budget too high, you’ll go into debt even if you stick to it. Instead, it’s better to set your budget too low; then, you can spend whatever’s left on an extra treat.

Start holiday shopping early

There’s nothing worse than doing all your Christmas shopping two days before the holiday. Not only is it stressful but also expensive. By then, all the sales have passed, and you can only buy the things nobody else wanted (often the most expensive things). Instead, it’s better to start ticking the boxes on your holiday shopping list already in November. That way, you can take advantage of Black Friday sales and early bird offers.

Learn to prioritize your expenses

You probably want to get a gift for every family member and friend you have. But if you are a large family living on a budget, that’s not always possible. It’s a tough choice, but you’ll need to count someone out. Focus on those most important to you – your spouse, your children, your parents, your best friend. You can always send cards to those who don’t make the cut. If it comes down to it, you can forgo those too. The truth is that some expenses (mortgages, groceries, gas) come before gifts and cards. So prioritize those, even if it means not giving any presents this year.

Cut costs elsewhere to pad your budget

The holidays are not the only thing you’ll be spending money on at the end of the year. You’ll still have all your regular expenses. In fact, you may have some extra costs too – perhaps you’ll need some new winter clothes, or you’ll need to equip your car for icy roads. Many people choose to move at this time of year because it’s cheaper than relocating in the summer. If you’re one of them, the moving experts behind simplemoving.us advise looking for ways to save money on your relocation. As long as you still know where your priorities lie, this can be a great way to avoid holiday debt. If you save money on other things, you’ll have more to spend on holiday cheer.

Remember that not all gifts are material

Everyone likes getting gifts. But that’s not all that the holidays are about. More than anything, they’re about spending time with your family and having fun with your friends. And you don’t need to spend money to do that. So think about gifts that aren’t material. Visit a nearby town, skate on a frozen lake, bake gingerbread cookies with your children. You may still need to invest a bit in experiences, but it won’t be as much as you usually spend during the holidays.

What to do if you fail to avoid getting buried in holiday debt

If it’s too late to avoid getting buried in holiday debt, you’ll need to figure out how to deal with it instead. Obviously, you’ll need to pay off your credit cards. You should get on this as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more the interest grows and the higher the amount you have to pay back. So have your fun during the holidays. But once they’re over, start saving everywhere you can. Give up the luxuries of eating out and driving everywhere; make the most of the clothes you have so you don’t have to replace them; cut out any expenses that are not strictly necessary. You want to pay off your holiday debt quickly, and that will require some sacrifice.

Dorothy Carter

 

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Building Your Nest: How to Create Financial Security

When you are starting a family and trying to save money to build a nest egg, it can feel like an uphill battle. Monthly expenses can be steep, and unexpected bills such as car and household repairs can sabotage the budget. When times are tough, it may seem as though saving money is impossible. For young people who are navigating the expenses of raising a family, setting aside money for a home and retirement may seem impossible.

However, wise financial planning starts with a solid understanding of your incoming and outgoing funds. Here are some tips to get started.

Understand Your Spending Habits

Prior to developing a budget, it is important to recognize your spending patterns so you can create a plan that works. List all your expenses, from utility bills to subscriptions and medications. It is crucial that you list even the smallest of outgoing funds, as these add up over the course of a year. To get the most accurate findings, use an average from six months of billing cycles. An easy way to access this information is to visit your banking website for a full listing of outgoing funds for each month.

Most people have spending habits that could use improvement. Identifying your necessary changes can help you make financial goals that will stick. Do you notice a trend of over-spending in certain areas? Sometimes online shopping apps and impulse purchases are spending pitfalls that need adjustment. Committing to better fiscal habits will get you closer to financial security.

Building Your Budget Plan

As you begin your budget process, make sure you and your partner are on the same page and working toward the same goal. Developing unified savings goals can help families direct their money in coordinated ways and can reduce financial conflict. Examine your spending habits and where your money has been going for the past six months.

Look for spending categories that could be pared down or even eliminated. If you have a gym membership that you never use, consider opting out to save that monthly expense. Unused subscriptions can be cancelled, and entertainment budgets can often be scaled back. Be sure to allot money in your budget for fun and look for ways to make the most of your finances.

While you may eventually want to invest in marketing consultants, for now it pays to take advantage of free resources. For instance, you can save a bundle on marketing simply by doing most of your advertising over social media, as well as using a free logo design tool to connect with your customers. Likewise, you can save money on accounting simply by using Google for spreadsheets, word processing, and file-sharing.

As you create your budget, look at it as orchestrating your funds toward their best purpose. Add a savings category into your plan that is off-limits for withdrawals for at least one full year. Setting a boundary for yourself in this way can prevent impulse spending or withdrawing the funds for reasons that do not align with your ultimate long-term goals. Often a compelling goal for couples is home ownership. Create a line in the budget for a down payment on a home as well as other specific goals.

Saving Money for Your Goals

Many young couples wish to save money for a home. Often mortgage companies will ask for a percentage of your loan request (often 5%) as a down payment. Banks offer better interest rates to people with a good down payment, which can result in lower monthly payments over the course of the loan. Make sure you research varying loan types prior to agreeing to a particular plan, since there are pros and cons to each type of mortgage.

Setting aside funds for your child’s college education is another great financial goal. You can invest in plans that are specific to college savings, and these can yield better results over time than traditional savings accounts. As your child grows, teach them the value of establishing a budget, creating financial goals, and saving money.

Retirement savings is a crucial requirement for a budget line, and a financial planner can easily help you strategize for this type of long-term savings. However, this isn’t something you should put off until you’re older. Tap into your company’s 401(k) match right away if you haven’t already, and consider opening other retirement accounts. If you’re already a part of your employer’s 401(k) plan, look into maxing out your contributions for the year.

Generate Extra Income

Finally, depending on your circumstances, you may be in the perfect position to start a side business to help generate passive income that you can put toward savings. Ideally, this is something you can comfortably handle while still maintaining your regular job, though there’s always a chance that your business will take off.

When mulling your options, keep in mind there are plenty of opportunities out there for a business you can run in your spare time. Whether it’s dog walking, reselling items on eBay, tutoring, affiliate marketing or even becoming a blogger. What’s important is to tap into skills you have or to provide a service that fills a growing need. The last thing you want is to launch a business that puts you into debt.

Surrounding yourself with financial security takes time, patience, and dedication. But if you follow these tips, before long you’ll build a nest that can weather any storm!

Danielle Porter

IAPDA, or International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators, establishes a level of comfort with consumers, creditors/collectors and legislators. IAPDA Accredited Service Centers have all committed to having their sales, customer service and debt negotiation staff members obtain and maintain current IAPDA certification. Contact us today!

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How to Save Money on a Long-Distance Move

Let’s not kid ourselves – relocations are costly, and the costs only increase with the distance. How much you’ll actually spend depends not only on the milage but on a couple of additional factors, as well. These include the weight of the cargo, the number of people handling it, etc. But despite the price being hard to anticipate, it is still possible to save money on a long-distance move. It’s just a matter of how, which we are just about to show you!

Ways to Save Money on a Long-Distance Move

If you are a member of a large family, but even if you aren’t, chances are you are looking to cut costs wherever possible. Thankfully, a long-distance relocation is one of the instances in which doing so is actually feasible. To make your life a bit easier during these trying times, we’ve devoted ourselves to compiling certain relocation money-saving tips. Now, we believe you’ll make good use of them!

Plan Your Finances

The essence of being able to save money, in the long run, lies in planning your finances early on. The sooner you do it, the better. It’s also important not to go about it fast, but rather take your time. That will help minimize errors. Take into account how much you have available in funds. Then, figure out the sum you are sure you can dedicate towards moving costs. Once you are aware of your budget, you’ll have an easier time deciding whether you’ll be moving on your own or with the help of professional movers.

Devise a Concise Budget

Now that you’ve come up with a budget or a rough sum of how much you are willing to spend, it’s time you became a bit more specific. Remember to include the following expenses, all while deciding how much should be enough to cover them.

Costs of moving with a moving company (only applicable if you hire movers);

Costs of moving by yourself (only applicable if you tackle the relocation process alone);

Car-transportation expenses – in case your personal vehicle needs to make the trip, too

A variety of post-relocation expenses

Of course, like everything else in life, relocations can be pretty unpredictable. That’s why setting aside a bit of money for emergencies is recommended. And if we are talking percentiles, about 20% of your budget should be dedicated towards unforeseen expenses.

Pick the Right Time to Move

If the goal is to save money on a long-distance move, you definitely don’t want to move during the hottest season. The “hot season” is considered the time between May and September when moving companies have their hands full, and getting in touch with one proves more difficult. It’s also when their services are more expensive. Since you wish to cut costs, it’s only natural you’d choose to move off-season. Anytime between October and April should work in your favor. The movers will have less work and try to appeal to more customers by decreasing the prices. Depending on the company, they might even be willing to offer additional discounts.

Hire a Trustworthy Moving Company

You have the option to move on your own or move with professional help. The first is still true, but there comes a question of how capable you are of handling something as tedious as a moving process. In truth, there’s so much that could go wrong, and you, having no prior relocation experience, could find yourself unable to solve the problems. Your relocation can, thus, quickly turn out to be more expensive because you’ll have problem-solving to deal with, damages to fix, and more.

On the other hand, while initially costing more, moving with long-distance movers can ultimately turn out cheaper. When we consider that they are professionals you can completely rely on, there’s really only so much for you to do. With them, you can fully relax. You can achieve peace of mind, which, you might agree, is worth splurging on.

Don’t Forget to Declutter

As was said at the very beginning, the weight of the things being transported directly plays into how expensive your relocation will be. To save money on a long-distance move, you’ll have to minimize the number of your possessions. Saying goodbye to your belongings is never easy, but if we are being honest, we all have a lot of those lying around that we absolutely no longer need. It’s essential to differentiate the things you use from the ones you don’t. Once you’ve done that, it’s time you took action and began ridding yourself of them.

You have three options. You can either sell the items you don’t need, give them away, or toss them out. By going with the first option, for example, you’ll be able to recoup some money spent, which, then, you could put into your savings account. If you are feeling a bit more charitable, donating items of no use could be an excellent choice. Throwing away should, ideally, be your last resort and should only be reserved for the damaged belongings.

Put Yourself in Charge of Packing

One of the best money-saving practices out there as far as relocations are concerned is taking care of the packing on your own. Yes, there are moving companies that provide packing services, but utilizing them isn’t mandatory. Before you take up the project on your own, though, it’s essential to be aware that it is anything but simple. It will take a lot of time and effort from your side, so tackling it weeks ahead is advisable. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance from your loved ones and friends, and consult the Internet when in doubt about how to pack something safely.

How do you feel about being able to save money on a long-distance move now that you’ve been presented with the ways of doing so? Confident, we sure hope so! Now, the rest is up to you. Just put the moving plan in motion, apply what you’ve learned, and you should be good to go!

 

Dorothy Carter

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Get Your Business Out of Debt With These Simple Ideas

Getting a business out of debt can be a long and stressful process, but there is some good news for small business owners who need to manage their finances. There are several things you can do to pull your company up and boost your money wellness over time, from revising your budget to taking a class to become a certified debt specialist. IAPDA Certification offers online courses for the latter to allow you or your employees to learn more about debt laws and legislation. You can also take steps to better understand the types of debt your business has accrued and look for ways to improve things come tax season so your business won’t owe as much.

Form an LLC

A limited liability company will provide tax benefits for your business, meaning you’ll be able to save money whether you file quarterly or annually. An LLC also means less paperwork than a corporation and offers protection for your personal finances, giving you peace of mind throughout the year. Every state has its own rules and steps for filing as well as its own fees, so look up the LLC California cost to find out how much you can expect to pay. If you want to ensure that nothing gets overlooked during filing, consider hiring a formation service and save yourself an attorney’s fee while you’re at it.

Revise your budget

Another way to save money is to go over your budget every six months or so. Even if you feel it’s working for your business, there may be something that could be added or changed that will make a big difference in the coming months. Look at your financial reports over the past several months to get an idea of what sort of trends your business is seeing, both in income and expenses. If your company has multiple streams of income, separate these within your budget so you can see which ones are the most profitable and which ones could use a little work. This is a great way to figure out where your marketing needs lie.

Work with an accountant

When you’re creating a new budget and looking at numbers every day, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan to ensure nothing important gets overlooked. Consider hiring an accountant who can go over your books and check for mistakes or possible tax advantages; this will give you peace of mind throughout the year and prevent nasty surprises during tax time. You can also utilize an app to help you keep track of things on a daily basis so nothing slips through the cracks. An accountant may also be able to help you start the process of consolidating your debt.

Boost your income

Even with a well-planned budget and help from a pro, it’s a good idea to increase your revenue as much as possible in order to pad your savings, pay off debt, and/or create an emergency fund for your business. You might boost your sales by expanding online marketing or offer a discount to customers who pay their invoices on time so you can avoid the costly process of chasing down payments. If you need a way to increase your income from existing customers, consider using add-ons or upgrades to your products and services. Get out into your community and look into teaming up with local businesses as an easy way to get new customers into your store.

Getting rid of debt within your business takes a little time, but there are many ways to go about it these days. By working with your budget and looking for ways to boost revenue throughout the year, you can create financial wellness for your company and build upon it for years to come.

Interested in learning more about the certified debt specialist training that IAPDA Certification offers? Get in touch via the contact form at the bottom of their home page.

Danielle Porter

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