What Does It Mean to Live On A Budget?
When you hear the word budget, what comes to mind? Here are some common misconceptions I hear most often: Budgeting takes a lot of time Living on a budget means I can't have nice things I can't go to restaurants or on vacations when on a budget If you want to make money-smart choices, then start your budget sooner than later. It may take a little bit of time to get your budget set up the first time around, after that first month, you'll be mostly tracking and analyzing to ma
Dear Olga: Clashless envelope system
Dear Olga, How would you use an envelope style system for bill paying when you don't use cash? Thank you, Anonymous Dear Anonymous, The envelope system tends to be a favorite because it helps you visualize your goals and physically putting away money each time you get paid gives you accountability and satisfaction of watching your efforts grow. Because this system works, banks have been working on incorporating cashless envelope systems within today's banking institutions. In
Dear Olga: Fresh out of college
Dear Olga, I'm graduating college and about to start my first full-time job! What advice do you have for me in terms of budgeting and investing? Thank you, Dasani Congratulations, Dasani! What an exciting time!!! I believe when you go through a transition in your life, like a new job or a new chapter altogether, it's a good time to work on new habits. That includes your budget! Two weeks ago, I had a question about creating a budget. I won't rewrite the article, but you can f
Dear Olga: Step-by-step Budget
Dear Olga, How do I ACTUALLY set up a budget? Every time I try, it seems like there are missing parts. Is there a step-by-step way of doing this, and figuring in your expenses and the moving parts? Thanks, El Dear El, This is one of the top questions I'm asked, so I'm very glad you wrote in! Like any new thing, one of the hardest parts about putting together a budget is starting. What do you do? How do you do it? You're ready to put down your pencil, just reading this, aren't
How Much of Your Food is Spoiling?
We've all been there: it's another week, another run to the grocery store. You have the go-to shopping list that you've used as long as you can remember. But how much of that food are you throwing away week after week? The USDA reports that about 30% of food is either spoiled or sent to landfills. According to the US Department of Labor, American households spend on average $4,363 per year on food costs. This means families are spending $1,309 (that's $109 per month or $25 pe
Dear Olga: Wedding Planning on a Budget
Dear Olga, I've been "planning a wedding" for some time now. The truth is I'm building a freelance business and my fiancé doesn't make a whole lot of money and we aren't saving anything, and it's been about ten months now. There's still no ring and lots of pressure for a wedding. Please help! EV Dear EV, Wedding planning can be extremely stressful, there are so many expectations to manage. It's a special day that you want to remember forever, naturally your families will begi
When Should You Start a Budget
This week I had money conversations with several college students and the top question asked has been: "When should I start budgeting?". TL;DR answer is: if you have an income and don't use a budget, you should start today. Many folks don't budget their money because they think "I don't spend much, I can keep track of it all in my mind." But can you remember every monthly subscription and absolutely every charge each month? 🤔 Another popular reason for not budgeting is "I do
Dear Olga: Debt Repayment
Dear Olga, I am trying to get out of debt asap. I am looking at getting a part time job to supplement my income. If it rains we don't work. We have been slow at work so I am not earning enough to pay extra on anything at the moment. Thanks for any advice, Anna Dear Anna, I have several suggestions to point you in the right direction. While you're looking for a part-time job, focus on making the most of your situation as it stands right now. My first suggestion is review your
Change is Hard, But Not Impossible
Most people I speak with aren't thrilled to start our money talks. Some people feel anxious and stressed because that is what they are used to feeling when it comes to money. They want things to change but they also acknowledge that this change isn't going to be easy or occur overnight. It can be a reluctance to downgrade their lifestyle or fear of facing the consequences of their mistakes from their past. Everyone has their own reasons for avoiding their finances. Knowing yo
Making Money Smart Choices
Just like many good choices, it doesn't actually always feel good making those decisions. I've learned the tougher it feels making a smart money choice, the better the choice is for your wallet. The hardest part about making smart choices, the chance of making a smart choice is 50% each time. Irrelevant of the choices you made up until this point, the wrong choice will always be on the table. If you're not careful, it can wipeout all of the hard work you've put in. A poor mon
Dear Olga: Inexpensive Accounting Software
Dear Olga, Is there an inexpensive accounting software that is easy to use? Or would that be too good to be true? Thanks, Me Dear Me, Believe it or not, there are quite a few options that are cost efficient out there! One of the fabulous benefits of cloud computing is things like accounting software are available to more people and can be more affordable than ever. When I worked at a CPA firm for several years, the majority of our clients used QuickBooks because it has a soli
Dealing with Financial Setbacks
Before we go into advice for dealing with financial setbacks, it's important to address that not all setbacks are the same. Types of Financial Setbacks There are minor setbacks like a car emergency that required you to dip into your savings or slipping from your budget, making a purchase you couldn't afford and now can't return. These setbacks don't drastically change your overall picture. Maybe your savings is $500 less or your total credit card debt is up by $200, but overa
Dear Olga: Strategies to Pay for College
Dear Olga, I have a child in junior high. What are some things or strategies we can implement so he will be able to attend college without student loans? Thank you, Scott Dear Scott, College tuition costs have been growing at a rapid rate over the decades. It seems any time I read about the statistics, the numbers get scarier each time. US News reported at the end of 2018 that in-state tuition for public universities has grown 243% in the last 40 years! The good news is there
Dear Olga: Maximizing Savings.
Dear Olga, What is a good way to maximize savings? Thanks, May Dear May, The best way to maximize your savings is to build your savings goals into your monthly budget and set intentions for your savings. By building your savings goals into your budget, you will be paying yourself first each pay period and less likely to borrow from yourself in the future. If you're not using a budget already, the first step would be to review your income and spending. You can find a budget te
Money Conversations. Do You Have Them?
Many people have been taught that it's inappropriate to talk about money. This mindset may be something you brush off as insignificant but it can impact many parts of your life. You may find yourself avoiding financial conversations until very last minute or when you're faced with a hardship you ignore all of the warning signs and once you're in the weeds you're too overwhelmed to face your mistakes head-on. I've been reading Activators: A CEO's Guide to Clearer Thinking and
Dear Olga: Business and Personal Budgets
Dear Olga, I have a new business and have modeled my budget in a very similar way to my personal budget but now I am wondering if I should be using a different method. Are personal budgets vastly different from a business in its infancy? Data Gal Dear Data Gal, Congratulations on your new business! An exciting adventure 😊 Finance is one of those areas that is ignored at first by many businesses, because the focus is more on making money to have cashflow to continue developin
Are You Setting Intentions For Your Savings?
When you have a specific goal for your savings, you're more likely to stick to your goals when your self-discipline is put to a test. Creating buckets for the most important areas will help you focus on building those safety nets for your future. Here are some groups you can break your savings into: Emergency savings - this amount should be enough to help you with an extreme financial hardship, like loss of a job. Consider your total monthly bills and how long it could potent