Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.

~William A. Ward

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why is being frugal a bad thing?

Why is being cheap or frugal always looked at as being a negative trait?

My friends and family are ALWAYS calling me cheap. Initially I would get offended when they made remakes about me being "cost conscious"; however, as I have matured and learn to accept and love my uniqueness, I now embrace the criticism and use it as an opportunity to educate others of the potential benefit of being "cost conscious".

I say "cost conscious" because I realize that I have to ease everyone into frugality.....taking baby steps is the key!

A few months ago a friend of mine made a snide comment about me being frugal. Of course I laughed and let it go; however, I bounced a question back her way. I asked, what do they call people who are reckless spenders......another friend chimed in and said that's simple.....they call them BROKE!!!! I thought that was hilarious – she hit the nail right on the head.

A HUGE benefit that I have reaped from being frugal is I have money to spend it WHEN I want to spend it. If I decide I want to go out and buy new furniture or a new car I can do that….I am not being boastful; however, I want to make the tangible benefits of saving as obvious as possible.

I also want to clarify the definition of being frugal. According to, the definition of frugal is: economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful: a frugal manager.

Please do NOT mistake being frugal for being stingy, selfish or anything other than being “cost conscious” and not being wasteful.

I am a huge Dave Ramsey fan and his philosophy is “live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else”. He advocates saving and investing to build wealth so later you can bless your friends and family. God loves a cheerful giver and being a conscious saver will enhance your ability to do God’s will.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Practical Tips to Save Cash

Useful Tips from America Saves


Save your loose change. Putting aside fifty cents a day over the course of a year will allow you to save nearly 40% of a $500 emergency fund.

Keep track of your spending. At least once a month, use credit card, checking, and other records to review what you've purchased. Then, ask yourself if it makes sense to reallocate some of this spending to an emergency savings account.

Never purchase expensive items on impulse. Think over each expensive purchase for at least 24 hours. Acting on this principle will mean you have far fewer regrets about impulse purchases, and far more money for emergency savings.

Pay with a debit card rather than a credit card. You cannot use a debit card (unless it has an overdraft feature) to spend money you do not have. Using a debit card may also prevent you from annually incurring hundreds of dollars in credit card interest charges. Both would mean more money available for emergency savings.


Substitute coffee for expensive coffee drinks. The $2 a day you could well save by buying a coffee rather than a cappucino or latte would allow you, over the course of a year, to completely fund a $500 emergency fund.

Bring lunch to work. If buying lunch at work costs $5, but making lunch at home costs only $2.50, then in a year, you could afford to create a $500 emergency fund and still have money left over.

Eat out one fewer time each month. If it costs you $25 to eat out, but only $5 to eat in, then the $20 you save each month allows you to almost completely fund a $500 emergency savings account

Shop for food with a list and stick to it. People who do food shopping with a list, and buy little else, spend much less money than those who decide what to buy when they get to the food market. The annual savings could easily be hundreds of dollars.

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs

Ask your physician to consider prescribing generic drugs. Generic drugs can cost several hundred dollars less to purchase annually than brand-name drugs.

Find the lowest-cost place to purchase prescription drugs. Make sure to check out not only your local pharmacist but also local supermarkets, area discount centers, and mail-order pharmacies

Purchase storebrand over-the-counter medications. Storebrand medications often cost 20-40 percent less than nationally advertised brands. The savings could easily exceed $100 a year.


Bounce one fewer check each month. The $20-30 you save by not bouncing one check a month would save you enough money to nearly fully fund a $500 emergency savings account.

Reduce credit card debt by $1,000. That $1,000 debt reduction will probably save you $150-200 a year, and much more if you're paying penalty rates of 20-30%.

Make your monthly credit card payment on time. The $30-35 you save by not being charged a late fee each month on one card would save you most of the money you need for $500 in emergency savings

Use only the ATMs of your bank or credit union. Using the ATM of another financial institution once a week could well cost you $3 a withdrawal, or more than $150 over the course of a year.


Shop around for auto and homeowners' insurance: Before renewing your existing policies each year, check out the rates of competing companies (see the website of your state insurance department). Their annual premiums may well be several hundred dollars lower.

Raise the deductibles on auto and homeowners' insurance: Being willing to pay $500-1,000 on a claim, rather than only $100-250, can reduce annual premiums by as much as several hundred dollars.

Assess your need for life insurance coverage. If your children are now on their own, or if your spouse works, you may not need as much life insurance protection. The annual premiums on a term life policy would typically fully fund an emergency savings account

Consider dropping credit insurance coverage on installment loans. Many consumers don't need credit insurance because they have sufficient assets to protect themselves in the event of death, disability, or unemployment. Terminating this coverage often reduces financing costs by three percentage points, a savings of about $1,000 on a four-year $20,000 installment loan.


Keep your car engine tuned and its tires inflated to their proper pressure. Doing both can save you up to $100 a year in gas.

Shop around for gas. Comparing prices at different stations and using the lowest-octane (recommended by the car owner's manual) can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

When driving, avoid fast start-ups and stops. Over time, you will save hundreds of dollars on lower gas and maintenance costs.

Take fewer cab rides. Using public transit instead of cabs can save you $5-10 per trip or more. If you're a frequent cab user, the savings could completely fund your emergency savings account

Check all airlines for cheap fares. Since no website lists all discount carriers, also check out the websites of discount carriers like Southwest and Jet Blue, possibly saving you hundreds of dollars.


Don't pay for space you don't need. Americans have relatively large houses and apartments. Think about more efficiently using space so you can purchase or rent less square footage.

Live relatively near your workplace. While this isn't always possible, driving 5,000 miles less a year can lower transportation costs by more than $1,000.

Refinance your mortgage to lower interest charges. Consider refinancing your mortgage to lower the rate and term. On a 15-year $100,000 fixed-rate mortgage, lowering the rate from 7% to 6.5% can save you more than $5,000 in interest charges over the life of the loan. For each $100,000 you borrow at a 7% rate, you will pay over $75,000 less in interest on a 15-year than a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. And, you will accumulate home equity more rapidly, thus increasing your ability to cover large emergency expenditures.

Choose home repair contractors wisely. Favor contractors who have successfully performed work for people you know. Insist on a written, fixed-price bid. Don't make full payment until satisfactory completion of the work.

Home Heating and Cooling

Ask your local electric or gas utility for a free or low-cost home energy audit. The audit may reveal inexpensive ways to reduce home heating and cooling costs by hundreds of dollars a year. Keep in mind that a payback period of less than three years, or even five years, usually will save you lots of money in the long-term.

Weatherproof your home. Caulk holes and cracks that let warm air escape in the winter and cold air escape in the summer. Your local hardware store has materials, and quite possibly useful advice, about inexpensively stopping unwanted heat or cooling loss

Use window coverings to block or let in sunshine. In summer, use these coverings to block sunlight, keeping your house cool. In winter, open the coverings to let sunshine warm the house. You could easily save more than $100 annually while being more comfortable.


Look for sales at discount outlets. There are huge price differences between clothing on sale at discount stores and that sold regularly at many department and specialty stores, though keep in mind that prices at the latter are often deeply discounted.

Consider purchasing previously-used clothes from Good Will, second-hand stores, or school or church thrift sales. With a little effort, you can find low-priced, high-quality used clothing items that can be worn for many years.

Assess clothing in terms of quality as well as price. An inexpensive shirt or coat is a poor bargain if it wears out in less than a year. Consider fabric, stitching, washability, and other quality related factors in your selection of clothes

Clean clothes inexpensively. Wash and iron clothes yourself. If you use a cleaner, compare prices at different establishments. A 50 cent difference in cleaning a shirt, for example, can add up to $100 a year.


Assess your communications costs. As Internet and wireless use grows, many consumers are overpaying for unneeded communications capacity. For example, if you have a cell phone and two phone lines -- one for your computer -- consider receiving personal calls on your cell phone so you can give up one of the phone lines.

Communicate by e-mail rather than by phone. If you're on-line, e-mail communications are virtually free. Even for subscribers, landline and wireless calls often carry per-minute charges.

Be aware of your cell phone costs and how to reduce them. Cell phone use has dramatically increased communications expenditures in many households. Understand peak calling periods, area coverage, roaming, and termination charges. Make sure your calling plan matches the pattern of calls you typically make

Dial phone calls directly without an operator. Using an operator to place calls can cost you up to $10 extra per call. That could easily save you more than $100 a year.


Research free or inexpensive entertainment in your community. Use local newspapers and websites to learn about free or low-cost parks, museums, film showings, sports events, and other places which you and your family would enjoy.

Give up premium cable channels. It's a lot cheaper to rent one film a week than watch one on premium cable channels that may cost more than $500 a year.

Borrow books rather than purchasing them. Borrowing books and reading magazines at your local library, rather than purchasing reading material, can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Attend high school rather than college or pro sports events. High school sports events rarely cost more than $5 and are often free, with hot dogs and sodas typically costing $1-2. College and pro football and basketball games rarely cost less than $20,and their concessions are usually several times more expensive.

Family and Friends

Plan gift-giving well in advance. That will give you time to decide on the most thoughtful gifts, which usually are not the most expensive ones. And if these gifts are products that must be purchased, you will have the opportunity to look for sales.

In families, discuss limits on spending for gifts. These limits not only tend to reduce expenditures; they also be greatly appreciated by the least affluent family members.

Socialize at pot-luck meals rather than at restaurants. Because one wants to be generous to friends and family, there may be huge cost savings here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

How to save without drastically cutting your lifestyle

Many people are under the illusion that they don't have any room in there budget to save. As I encourage others to save the number one excuse that I hear is: "I just don't have any extra money"; yet, we make small unnecessary purchases daily that could have been saved. Everyone is guilty of it; however, it becomes a concern when these small purchases affect your savings goals.

Just by making the small changes below and investing your additional savings you will have accumulated over $820,000 over a 40 year period (based on a conservative 8% rate of return). Thus making small changes to your lifestyle can give your retirement funds a HUGE boost!

5 Strategies for Saving

Saving Strategies from America Saves

1. Pay off high-cost debt.
The best investment most borrowers can make is to pay off consumer debt with double-digit interest rates. For example, if you have a $3,000 credit card balance at 19.8%, and you pay the required minimum balance of 2% of the balance or $15, whichever is greater, it will take 39 years to pay off the loan. And you will pay more than $10,000in interest charges.

2. Buy a home and pay off the mortgage before you retire.
The largest asset of most middle-income families is their home equity. Once these families have made their last mortgage payment, they have far lower housing expenses. They also have an asset that can be borrowed on in emergencies or converted into cash through sale of the home.

3. Participate in a work-related retirement program.
Many employees turn down free money from their employer by not signing up for a work-related retirement program such as a 401(k) plan. If they did participate, with a dollar-for-dollar match they would likely receive an annual yield of greater than 100%on their investment.

For additional information, see the American Savings Education Council Web site

4. Outside of work, save monthly through an automative transfer from checking to savings.

These savings will provide funds for emergencies, home purchase, school tuition, or even retirement. Almost all banking institutions will, on request, automatically transfer funds monthly from your checking account to a savings account, U.S. Savings Bond, or stock mutual fund. What you don't see, you will probably not miss.

For additional information, please see the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Web site.


Most CDs from a bank or credit union, and Series EE and Series I Savings Bond, currently pay between 3% and 4%. With a 4% yield your money will double in 18 years.

For additional information, please see the Treasury's Savings bond website.

11 ways a budget can improve your life

1. A budget lets you control your money instead of your money controlling you. A budget is a guide that tells you whether you're going in the direction you want to be headed in financially.

2. A budget will tell you if you're living within your means. Many people don't realize they’re living far beyond their means until they're knee deep in debt.

3. A budget can help you meet your savings goals. It includes a mechanism for setting aside money for savings and investments.

4. Following a realistic budget frees up spare cash so you can use your money on the things that really matter to you instead of frittering it away on things you don't even remember buying.

5. A budget helps your entire family focus on common goals.

6. A budget helps you prepare for emergencies or large unanticipated expenses that might otherwise knock you for a loop financially.

7. A budget can improve your marriage. A good budget is not just a spending plan; it's a communication tool, which can bring the two of you closer together as you identify and work towards common goals and reduce arguments about money. That's got to be good for your sex life!

8. A budget reveals areas where you're spending too much money so you can refocus on your most important goals.

9. A budget can keep you out of debt or help you get out of debt.

10. A budget actually creates extra money for you to use on things that matter to you.

11. A budget helps you sleep better at night because you don't lie awake worrying about how you're going to make ends meet.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

How much should I save?

Taking baby steps and being patient is the best philosophy for saving. If you are a beginner and haven't began saving we will start crawling until you pick enough momentum to begin walking and eventually break into a full stride.

Step 1: Establishing an Emergency Fund will be your first priority. Set up automatic transfers from your checking to your savings. Try to save 10% of your salary, if that's to much - save what you can and work your way up to 10%.

After you have established your emergency fund with 3-6 months of expenses, your next savings goal will be:

Step 2: Saving for Retirement. Set up automatic payroll deductions to transfer into your company's 401K or other retirement account. Transfer 15% of your household income into your retirement account to be invested. If 15% will break the budget then contribute AT LEAST enough to get your company's match (usually 6% of your gross salary).

Depending on your household: a college fund may also be a necessity

Step 4: Establishing a College Fund: there are various options for these funds, depending on the age of your child. Percentage of income to be saved will depend on the estimated cost of attendance and other factors. More details on college funds will be posted soon.

If you have completed steps 1-4: CONGRATS!

Personally I have a separate savings account for "other wants" such as buying furniture, new car, holiday & birthday fund or anything else that might require a large amount of cash.

Step 5: Establish a Special Savings account for other discretionary spending.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

There is a way to make saving effortless....Automate it!

Remembering to save is one of the most difficult things to do as it is usually the last thing on your mind. We normally plan on saving whatever is left in the checking account after all bills, personal allowances and impulse purchases are complete. The only flaw with this plan is: THERE IS NEVER ANYTHING LEFT OVER!

There is a simple solution to this obstacle: Automate your savings plan.

You might have heard of this strategy, it is called paying yourself first. The premise behind it is: you don't worry about what will be left over at the end of the month because your savings allowance has been deducted from your paycheck or checking account before you realize the month is gone.

Paying yourself first is so effortless and simple because it takes all of the planning off of your mind and you don't realize the money is missing.

Use the steps below to automate your savings plan. You will feel truly blessed when an unforeseen event occurs and your savings that you might have forgotten you had is there to save the day!

Step 1: Decide how much you want to save weekly. Ten percent is a good place to start. You can always save more later.

Step 2: Find a reputable online bank that pays a good interest rate on savings account. I use Emigrant Direct( but there are a few other good choices out there. Just remember to check with the Better Business Bureau about each bank's reputation. (

Step 3: Set up your online savings account and link it to your regular checking account. To do this log in to your Emigrant Direct account and click on the links tap at the top of the page. Then click "add account," enter your bank account information and follow the instructions.

Step 4: Set your savings account to draft your savings amount from your checking account every payday by clicking on the "transfer money" link and setting your date for the next payday and then every seven days. You may even want to set it for a day before your payday so that it will come out the same day your put your paycheck in. The procedure typically takes until the day after to actually come out of your account

Allow me to introduce myself......

2008 is going to be the year for change. For everyone who struggled through 2007 and prayed for a financial blessing in 2008 with a little patience, determination and the ability to have an open-mind your blessings will be answered. For those who are doing well financially; however, have questions on how to expand their knowledge on saving & investing, debt consolidations, credit repair or whatever questions you may have feel free to send me a message.

My formal education, work experiences and various life experiences (learning the hard way) has helped me to become well versed in financial planning, real estate, credit repair, debt elimination and wealth building.

This blog will be dedicated to the "fundamentals for building wealth". For tips and advice check back daily. It has been my experience that talking about money is usually a touchy subject and sometimes boring. It's my passion so I can talk or read about it all day: since most people don't share my passion I will keep this as interesting as possible.

Let's get ready to rumble.......