Budgeting

Why Do People Think Mint is Bad For Budgeting

One of the well known online budget and expense tracking app is Mint which allows you to track your money transactions from home without any trouble. Mint was formally introduced in September 2007. In November 2009, Intuit purchased Mint for $170 million. At the time, Mint had more than 1 million clients and was including a couple of thousand new clients consistently. After four years, Mint has more than 10 million clients. It can be used for checking your financial statements, savings, credit card bills, monthly and yearly incomes, future goals involving money, and funding for trips and hotel bookings.

Advantages of using Mint.com

  • As this is budgeting software, it notifies you every time you are due to pay a bill or payment which ensures you don’t end up being penalized for paying fees lately.
  • It helps to guide you in making the perfect financial statement for you bringing out every scope for you to spend and save as well.
  • You can keep a look on your daily expense and if you have a future goal of buying something, you can reduce your current spending according to it.
  • It is easily portable and you can track your money records through phone, tablet, laptops etc. So even if you are on a tour, you can track your transactions.
  • It keeps a track on your credit bills, home bills, savings etc for you.

Disadvantages of using Mint.com

Although the Mint.com has some great advantages but there are some disadvantages too which is making people lose trust over the app and ending up calling it bad software for budgeting.

  • There is not guaranteed security in this online software. com could get hacked and the cyber hackers can get hold of all your financial information. The only thing the hacker needs to do is get your password and to be honest, it is not that hard to get.
  • People don’t feel the necessity of an online finance tracker and they are good on their own.
  • They are more loyal users of other online budgeting sites like Quicken or YNAB.
  • There is sometimes a necessity of keeping a manual transaction record. Mint does everything through automated calculators but it sure has some flaws now and then causing you to lose track of your real money matters.
  • The site is full of advertisements of their credit cards and software. You would end up getting lost in them and being unable to put any digit in peacefully.

These are the basic reasons causing Mint to lose customers even though they provide quality service. If these issues are fixed soon they will be able to gain back their popularity as an online budgeting site.

Best Features from Quicken Budgeting Software

Budgeting is an art. It takes a lot of imagination and decision-making skills to create a budget for oneself. In the past all one had to budget was a pen and their balance sheets. It was left primarily to brain power to come up with solutions. The arrival of the new age has seen an advent of newer tools. Tools which have more computational power and is able to calculate a long set of numbers in a jiffy. There are quite a few of them in the market today. Each comes with its own set of unique propositions and one must understand his or her own personal needs before selecting one.

In this long list of budgeting tools stands out one name: Quicken. And it should not be mistaken with Kraken, the monster of Norwegian folklore.

The former is quite a smart tool and the latter, a legend.

Quicken has the following features:

  • It saves every piece of financial transaction information and categorizes them
  • It has a robust data visualization capability
  • It helps you by comparing your investments with the other instruments currently available in the market
  • It’s 128-bit and 256-bit encryption ensures your information is beyond the reach of any wrongdoer.
  • The software creates separate heads for retail and small business and helps you put funds in the correct places.
  • It tracks all expenses like rental, leases, rates and deposits all in one place to give you firsthand information.
  • It also comes with a mobile app. Now, this would mean you can manage your money anywhere and at your convenience.

Hence, the question that now arises is why then Quicken is rarely suggested as a budgeting tool. With so many features to go for it, what pulls it back? We see the reasons are many.

The lack of a free trail especially for a budgeting tool is off-putting. When someone installs software to handle money, the trail period usually works like a charm. Quicken does not have one.

It has way more functionality than what a layman can handle and it does get intimidating for most while using it for the first time.

Over the past few years and versions, there have been complaining about the memory Quicken eats up. Also, reports of bugs causing trouble for the budgeting tool has been around for some time now

In spite of these shortcomings, Quicken does have its followers. However, to up the ante in the field of budgeting tools, it needs to get sharp.

Is It Practical to Use Zero Based Budgeting

Business owners and top-level managers invest a lot of time budgeting and in bigger organizations, the process itself incurs huge costing. In traditional methods of budgeting, the managers are required to review the previous year’s budget and then make amendments based on the performance expectations. However, in Zero Based Budgeting (ZBB), a completely reverse approach to planning and budgeting is applied.

Zero Based Budgeting doesn’t take into account the previous year’s budget and is instead begins at Zero. The managers need to justify all the budgetary expenses and not limit themselves to the previous year’s budget. Everything starts at zero and the planning and decision making is done on the basis of budgeting. One of the prerequisites of this budgeting is that the mangers need to be ready for detailed documentation and budgeting. The managers also have to identify and even justify the expected expenditures and arrange the activities in accordance to their relevance and costs.

Zero Based Budgeting paves the way for the high level management to make decisions as well as budgetary curtailments based on the documents during any time of the financial year. There is no provision of pre-financing as is in the case of traditional budgeting. This is a big reason why this type of budgeting is followed in the non-profit sectors and government. However, Zero Based Budgeting has to undergo frequent reviews, usually every year, as it is a costly and time-consuming process.

People favoring the Zero Based Budgeting usually point to the following advantages:

  • Resources are allocated vis-à-vis requirements and benefits, which is extremely efficient
  • Managers are compelled to find cost-effective methods for improving activities
  • Inflated budgets can be easily detected
  • Service departments find this to be extremely efficient because often it’s difficult to identify criteria

 

Naysayers point to these disadvantages of Zero Based Budgeting:

  • It’s time consuming because defining expenditures is often challenging for the managers
  • Zero Based Budgeting needs too many support staff and managers to prepare
  • Managers have to be given prior training on this method of budgeting before they can actually begin the process, which again is time-consuming
  • Everyone has to be aware of the details as huge volume of data as well as forms are needed for effective Zero Based Budgeting

 

Zero Based Budgeting is considered to be an honest approach to budgeting but when it is not too practical for private organizations and larger businesses to follow. They are bound to face capital and manpower shortage while trying to implement Zero Based Budgeting.

Bachelor Parties on a Budget

Just as spring begins, so too does wedding season. Men all across America are handing in the keys to their bachelor pads and trading them for keys to minivans. In a rite of passage and one last hoorah before the married life, many men throw bachelor parties. Just as weddings have gone up exponentially in cost and in extravagance, so too have bachelor parties. But there’s no reason to blow your whole wad of cash if you don’t have to. It is possible to have an epic and memorable (for what you remember of it) bachelor party on the cheap. In fact some of the best bachelor parties are those which are done on a budget. Check out some of the best ideas below.

bachelor party

Keep it local! Instead of jetting to Vegas or New Orleans  for the weekend, contemplate looking at places nearby. So if you live in New York check out Atlantic City. It might not have the same appeal as Vegas or be as classy, but you will save a ton on airfare. Plus all casinos are dark and boozy on the inside!

bachelor party in las vegas

Eat at home. There is no reason to blow a ton of money on a steak dinner. Just have the guys over and grill up some burgers while sipping on some beers, which brings up our next tip…

bachelor party food

Pregame! Pregaming isn’t just for college and your early twenties. Take advantage of your time at home before you hit the bars or clubs and save on drinks that are bought beforehand and don’t involve tipping.

bachelor party drinks

When heading out, you can rent a party bus or a limo–but perhaps instead opt for a town car or Uber an SUV. You can still get where you are going in style, but while saving a bundle! Also, you are guaranteed to stay safe, since one things for sure: you don’t want to be driving home tonight.

bachelor party uber SUV car

Saving Money with Coupons

You can cut down the price of your grocery bills by means of clipping some coupons and saving them over time with persistence and control. Control how you spend and reward yourself with different things once in a while and search out coupons that will allow you to purchase some luxury items once and a while.

saving money with coupons

Here are steps on how you can start saving money with coupons:

Organize your coupons by means of making a comprehensible system, a binder can help out with filing coupons. Keep it near you and always remember it as you go shopping. Keeping it in your car will make sure it is close by.

Search for coupons in magazines, food packages, newspapers, coupon mailers, grocery store receipts and of course on the internet
By cutting out coupons for the products that you may purchase or try you can always be prepared. Do not be lured by the ‘irresistible’ savings that coupons show you. Buy only the things you need, not the things you want.

Know the prices of the products that you want to buy. Usually, products with brand names cost higher than generic products.
Hidden costs matter.

Find out if your favorite grocery store matches the coupon of the manufacturer so that your savings can be doubled.

COUPONS FOR ONLINE SHOPPERS

Almost everyone in the world uses the internet for shopping. Shopping online  is easier because of the power of comparison shopping. But how are these coupons helpful for online shoppers? Do they really help? What are the perks of using these coupons?

BIG, BIG DISCOUNTS

Consumers, presently, love to shop online. A person can now enjoy shopping more because a coupon offers more that 40% discount on a purchase of an item. That means, if you are a shopper and you have a discount coupon, you only need to pay less than 50% from the price of a product. Finding these coupons is also easy online and you can sign up for online alerts that can deliver these right to your inbox.

COUPONS WILL NOT PUT YOU IN DEBT

Even if you are shopping online and paying via credit card, you will not be buried with huge amounts of debts. Coupons actually help people lessen the debts they will incur when they use credit cards for shopping because the product that is going to be bought has a much lower price, therefore less interest is charged.

WHY ARE COUPONS THE BEST FOR ONLINE SHOPPING?

GAS SAVER

When you shop online, you do not need to get out of your house and drive yourself to an online store just to buy one thing. Meaning, your gas is saved and your energy is saved, too.

SHOP ANYTIME AND ANYWHERE

Another perk of shopping using coupons is you can shop regardless of where you are. You can shop while you are at the spa, you can shop while you are at home, from smartphones you can simply shop anywhere.

So there is no need for you to hurry from work to reach a store as it is closing, or planning your evening around shopping.

If in case you want to go shopping but you are too lazy to go out, you can always go online and shop using your coupon codes, just the same as you would use printed coupons in a store. This is ideal for people who are very busy that they do not have time to get out to do their shopping, or search through a few retailers to comparison shop.

Tips on Saving Money

Saving money can be much simpler than you think. If you are planning to save more money this year, here are some guides and tips for you to follow. You do not have to follow each one of these tips to the letter, instead treat them just as guides to help you to save extra money on your day to day purchases. You will be surprised at the amount of money you can save just by making a few small changes. Here are some of the best tips on saving money.

tips on saving money

MAKE YOUR OWN COFFEE

Everyone is regularly buying coffee at restaurants nowadays. It would actually save you more money if you skip your latte or macchiato from your favorite restaurant and make it instead. This tip does not mean that you have to entirely stop drinking coffee or totally remove coffee in your life. Instead, just go to your kitchen and make your own coffee. Many of your favorite coffee houses also sell their unique blends and machines to make coffee in your own home so that you can duplicate their results in your kitchen. This can be more cost effective over a year than purchasing an expensive cup of coffee every day.

HAVE YOUR CHECKLIST WHILE SHOPPING

Keep a mantra as you are shopping. Stop the impulsive buying. Some people are experiencing the hardest time when they are in a mall or a supermarket and they are being tempted to buy something that they really want but do not need. If you shop without a checklist, there are tendencies that you are going to buy some things that you do not actually need. What’s worse is, you might forget the things that you have to buy and become lured in with the things that look more exciting to purchase than necessities. This is how you can start losing money quickly.

Additionally, with a checklist, you will only buy all the things that you need to buy in just one trip to the department store or grocery store, instead of having to go back for forgotten items.

DON’T BUY BOOKS. BORROW.

If you like reading, skip buying the books that you like reading and instead go to the nearest library and locate a book that might be of interest to you. It is always free to go to the library and borrow some books. Why would you buy a book when you can have it for free? If you know someone with a collection of books you can also offer trades or swaps for your own collection so that you can both enjoy reading new books without having to buy them.

BRING YOUR OWN WATER

Drinking water is good for our body, but you do not have to buy bottled water every now and then just to quench your thirst. Instead, bring your own bottled water in your office or whenever you go out. When you bring your own water, you will not only save your money, you will also be saved from thirst when you are working or out shopping.

CONTROL YOUR USE OF ELECTRICITY

When you are not using appliances like your televisions, radios, microwaves, etc. it is best that you completely unplug them, rather than simply just turn them off. An appliance still uses your electricity for some small processes as long as it is plugged in.

AVOID BEING WITH FRIENDS WHO IMPULSE SHOP

If you have friends who regularly impulse shop and invite you to come with them to lavish restaurants and more it is important to remember, you are saving your money for necessities. Hanging with people who have lavish lifestyles may make you spend more than your means.
Remember; these are just mere guides for you to save your money. Just pick one of these tips that suits you best. If you can use these tips to save money, you can help to plan for a healthier retirement as well as have savings in case emergencies may arise.

Should I Use a High Deductible Health Care Plan?

Expenses for medical services can be very costly these days. For a person to go without health insurance is a dangerous financial risk. If a major illness or accident occurs a family can find themselves facing enormous medical bills. Medical expenses quickly add up and the inability to pay them can wipe out someone’s finances entirely. Many hospitals refuse to see patients who are uninsured unless it is a dire emergency.

At this point the patient is usually just stabilized for transport to another hospital that accepts the uninsured. Often people choose to take the risk of going without insurance because they think that they will not be able to afford the insurance premiums. Or they simply choose to take the gamble of going without health insurance because they are normally healthy and seldom need to seek medical care. Most health insurance policies offer many different packages to fit a variety of budgets. Health insurance deductibles affect the amount required for the premium, choosing a higher deductible will result in a lower premium.

This option is better than having no insurance at all. With a higher deductible a person has more out of pocket expenditure initially; however once that deductible is met the insurance will then cover whatever portion of the expenses they are required to pay. The insurance policy will specify the exact amounts of the deductible, what procedures are covered by the insurance, and what portion the insurance will pay. Most people are surprised to find out how quickly they can meet their deductible within a few physician office visits. If a major illness strikes and hospitalization is required that deductible could be met in as little as one day. A bill for the deductible amount is going to always be a better option than having to pay the entire bill for a hospital stay out of pocket.

One benefit to having a deductible is that a person knows exactly what amount they will be responsible for paying. There will not be any big surprises because they know what to expect. For people living paycheck to paycheck surprise bills can really throw off their budget. By knowing the exact amount required to meet the insurance deductible they can plan accordingly. High deductible plans are a great option for those looking to save money on insurance premiums and most people are in a safe position to take advantage of these savings.

People with chronic illnesses such as diabetes might find it more beneficial to go with a lower deductible, however for those who are generally healthy there is no need to pay a high premium for insurance that they may not even use.

Another benefit to having a high deductible is being a healthier person. Knowing that they have a high deductible often encourages people to take better care of themselves to avoid getting sick in the first place. This is a win-win situation, they are saving money on their health insurance premiums while getting healthier in the process.

Love Birds Love Saving

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. It is not just the perfect opportunity by sweet candy and delicious chocolate for your loved one, it is also another chance to spend some money!  But here is the good news; you do not have to break the bank to show your significant other how much you care.  Give this list a good once over and you will walk away with some sweet ideas.

1. Be Crafty

Homemade gifts can mean so much more than something store bought, so be creative and get crafty!  Try using a free photo editing site to do something cool with a picture of the two of you. Make a coupon book of sweet and/or romantic requests.   So have fun with this one! Check out Pinterest for some other awesome ideas.

2. Bake Away!

I do not care who you are, cookies, brownies, cake, or any other sugary treat always hits the spot.  Break out a new recipe or an old favorite and bake up some love for your love.  Someone mind passing this tip on to my boyfriend?

3. Everyone Loves a Good Movie

You and your love bird have probably seen at least 3 movies together since becoming an item.  Renting a movie on Red Box or through Netflix is inexpensive and a great way to just spend some time together.  You will make popcorn, hot chocolate, and some great memories.

4. A Walk Down Memory Lane

This tip is definitely more for the couples who have been together for at least a couple months.  Take your significant other on a walk through your relationship. Go to the place you first met, then your first date, then to the last place you were together.  You do not have to buy anything, just talk about the good memories you have from those places. You will laugh, maybe even cry, but you will definitely make some good memories.

So happy early Valentine’s Day to all the loves birds out there and give these tips, one or more, a try. Let me know how it goes!

How Much do I Need to Save for Retirement?

A 45 year old man working a typical 9-5 job might be thinking more intensely about saving for retirement than a 21 year old that just landed his first full time job with benefits. At the age of 21, he might start contributing 4% of his income to his 401k with a more aggressive market approach. His 45 year old neighbor is struggling tirelessly to contribute 10% of his pay with a much more conservative approach. They both share one common interest: saving for retirement.
retirment saving
How much should an individual really save for retirement, and what is the ideal contribution to a company match plan? Many people have relied on and researched retirement planning calculators on the internet for years. The majority of these will calculate a percentage of income that one should be saving and deliver a figure that will support his/her lifestyle in 40 years. The calculator doesn’t take into consideration what everyone’s standard of living will amount to then. The sum of money that an individual should save for retirement doesn’t rely on income; it relies on money spent. A man could make $60,000 a year, but his current lifestyle requires an annual spending figure of $80,000. Another might bring home $80,000 a year, and his current lifestyle requires only $40,000. Should they both contribute the same amount to their 401k? Not likely.

Calculating a substantial amount of savings for retirement relies on evaluating an individual’s current spending and determining the standard of living he/she wishes to uphold at retirement. The retirement calculators that are based on income are not completely worthless. They provide a valuable resource for determining a figure of funds that will be saved after a number of years. Before utilizing these calculators, the individual must determine the ideal amount to save. This number will be derived from deciding how much to spend at retirement. Will they live lavishly, or will they live comfortably? Once a decision has been made on how much they want to spend in 40 years, then they can decide what to save. If the current budget does not allow for that level of spending, then they must discover other ways to save.

Here are a few frugal tips on saving money now for the future:

Stay healthy. One of the leading money guzzlers in retirement are health expenses. Prescription medications, knee replacements, high cholesterol, and cancer all come with a hefty bill. Regular physical activity and proactive health precautions may reduce these expenses.

Make friends with the neighbors. Retirees benefit from friends and family. Several people are willing to lend a helping hand to a senior citizen; a solid relationship will open this door.

Weatherproof the home. Energy costs are rising every year, and they might only increase in 20-40 years. Visit a local home improvement shop to find sealant for windows to prevent cold winter drafts. Ask about clearance items during the contrary weather season.

Being frugal will allow the individual to contribute much more to their company match plan for retirement.

I Love It Not…

Valentine’s Day, for some, is fondly referred to as Single’s Awareness Day. So what do all singles people do on Valentine’s Day? Well, they can wallow in self-pity or bitterness, or they can do something that shows how much they care about themselves.  What is even better is that it can be inexpensive too.

1. Polish Party.

Get a few of your single girlfriends together, bring all the nail polish you have, and take turns giving each other mani’s and pedi’s while bad mouthing all the boys who have done you wrong and what celebrity got arrested the night before.  You will not only get some polish powered confidence, but some much needed girl time therapy.  What will this cost you? Nothing, unless you need to pick up some new polish!

2. Bubble Bath… That’s Right.

Stop by your local bath and body shop and pick up some bubble bath in your favorite scent.  Nothing says relaxation more than a bubble bath.  Now light some candles, grab a book, or just turn on some soothing music and take some time for yourself.  The max this one will cost you?  $15. Try it out, you will not regret it.

3. Need a Good Cry?

Pop in Dirty Dancing or Marley and Me and enjoy some of what I so fondly refer to as movie medication.  Get your favorite drink and snack ready. Put on those pajama pants that fit just right and those fuzzy socks that you love so much and over medicate yourself to your single heart’s content.  Using Red Box?  This one will cost you a max of $5 for the movie and $20 for your drink and snacks.  Indulge a bit.

4. Go Home!

If you are a college student like me and going home is a rare luxury, plan ahead and make the trek back home.  Be around people who truly love you, aka, your parents!  If your parents are like mine, they will smother you in hugs, candy, and free food (something every college student loves.)

 

Valentine’s Day does not have to be Single’s Awareness Day.  Make Valentine’s Day about you, and tell Single’s Awareness Day where to shove it.