Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Budgets: friend or foe?

So the last few weeks I have been thinking a lot about budgets and their pros and cons. Budgeting to me should be a simple process that helps you know where your money is going. I have been looking for a new more simple method. I finally settled on 99 cent app from the app store. BUDGET MONTH The app is very basic you input your income and then add your outgo until the number equals zero. I like this app because it is easy to view and my wife and I can look at it and agree on it in under ten minutes. My favorite part so far is I feel like we have gotten a raise. We are both sticking to it and eliminating small silly purchases that are not listed in the budget. What budgeting techniques are you using? What have you found works the best for your family?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This week in finance

Gaining knowledge is essential to human development. I try to spend a fair amount of my time each day reading things that are beneficial either from the Internet or from books. Each week I find articles that help me gain a greater understanding of how I can improve my personal finances. Here are a few articles that I have really enjoyed this week.

1. 15 Things our grandparents lived without as so could we:

2. Getting to out of debt is just the beginning are you asset-less:

3. I hated this article because I do not want to give up my soda while eating out but it's amazing to see how much is actually being spent:

4. Working from home is getting increasingly more common. So a great clean setup will help increase your productivity and could lead to more revenue. At some point you need to look at making more rather then saving more. Check out these awesome home offices:

If you have an awesome home office set-up I want to see it! Post a link in the comments. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Save on yard work

Working in the yard is one of my all time favorite past times. Considering the state of our current front yard it's a good thing too. With work and school last summer I didn't get as much done as I would have liked. So this year the plan is to get to work and start transforming our yard. The overall project will take a lot of time and work. We purchased our home from some investors who were looking to get rid of it. (it had a few large projects to be done) Overall the outside is fine and structurally everything is sound, but the yard looks abandoned. It is also obvious that during it's vacancy locals didn't mind dumping their extra yard waste in the yard. Last year I made several trips to the local dump removing cement and other trash that I had no use for.

However some of what was left has turned out to be useful. The yard needs leveling which requires dirt. Seeing how there are a few piles of dirt around I have access to some free fill dirt, but it needs to be sifted. Rather than calling in a few dump trucks of new dirt (which I may still need some) I have found a quick easy way to sift it myself. I took a pallet I had on hand for an older project and knocked out most of the cross boards. Grabbed some chicken wire, another random thing someone left us and a few nails later I have my own sifter. The rocks are piling up which I will use for another project and the clean fill dirt is being saved for filling in low spots in the yard before sprinklers and sod are put in.

All to often we look past the supplies we have at hand to do the work around us. I have also found dozens of people online who have free fill dirt if you pick it up.

Check back for more ideas on ways to garden on a budget and even increase your wealth by either building the overall value of your home or supplementing your food budget with home grown food. What is something creative you have done re-use something around your yard?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How much do you need for retirement?

How much do you need for retirement?

It's a question that is hard to answer because how much you need is relative to your spending habits and desired lifestyle. If you plan to sell your home purchase a used motor home and find free places to park year round, your number will be different from say your friend who plans to travel extensively purchase their dream home and buy that Corvette they always wanted! The truth is most of us will land somewhere in the middle of those two groups. Our home will hopefully be paid for, and our work expenses will go down. However spending on travel and other leisure activities will go up and hopefully we will enjoy what we worked so hard for. So here are a few ideas on how much to save so you can retire, coming from financial experts not me.

David Bach (I Will Teach You To Be Rich) 12.5%

Dave Ramsey (The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness) 15%

Elizabeth Warren (All Your Worth: Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan) 20% of after tax income

Here is a great retirement calculator that will help you determine how much you will need to save to reach reach your retired income goal.

Right now I am using Dave Ramsey's plan but want to convert to a more extreme savings plan as my income goes up. My future goal is to make enough money that I can live comfortably off of half of my income so that I will have the option to retire younger if I would like. I will give you more info on how I plan to do this in later posts. 

How much money would you like to have when you retire? What are you doing to get to that point? How much a month on average do you save let me know in the comments section below?