How to Save When You’re Broke

zero-sum budget. This method gives every dollar a job and keeps money from slipping through the cracks. Yes, this is pretty micro – but it works.

Grow your income. This might sound like a beat-down since you’re already burning the midnight oil, but remember that this is temporary and a means to an end. If you have an extra room, you might think of renting it out for a few months. If this is outside your comfort zone, find a side hustle that’s fun like dog walking or pet sitting. Or think about jobs you can do on your computer like answering paid surveys. Part-time weekend jobs also are an option. Greeters at Costco make around $24 an hour!

Automate your savings. Again, you’ve heard this, but taking this money off the top before you even see it is key. You never see the money so you don’t ever miss it. And any amount saved can add up over time. Even $5 a paycheck can make a difference.

Have no-spend days. Of course, you have necessary expenses like food and shelter. But what about those days when you don’t want to cook and grab some drive-through grub? Or you see a Starbucks, your car turns around and suddenly, you’re there ordering a Double Mocha Frappuccino? Certainly, we all want – and need – treats every now and then. But be judicious about them because if you’re already broke, these spontaneous splurges can derail your savings dreams.

Sell things you no longer need. Start by cleaning out your closets and your garage. You’ll most likely find things you no longer have any use for, or want. Host a yard sale. Or even better, snap pics of your items and put them up on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist or Nextdoor. For more pricey things like clothes or jewelry, try Thred Up or Poshmark. You’ll be surprised how quickly this all adds up. Then put this money toward your savings or your debt. Slow and steady always wins the race.

Write down your 10-year lookahead. How do you want to be living a decade from now? On the beach? In a townhouse in a European city? Completely out of debt? All of your dreams, no matter how crazy, can absolutely be achieved. All you have to do is take the long view. Have tunnel vision about your destiny. What this all comes down to is daily financial decisions.

So now that you have a few ways to get ahead, it all comes down to you. Take a deep breath and be intentional – embrace this new way of living. When you see yourself making new choices and realizing what you can achieve by tweaking how you spend, there’s no stopping you.

Sources

How To Save Money When You’re Broke: 15 Smart Strategies

The 50/30/20 Budgeting Rule Explained

free worksheet. If you’re spending more than 50 percent on your needs, then look for areas to cut expenses or downsize your lifestyle. For instance, you could eat in (and make delicious coffee at home), maybe take public transportation to work or even choose a smaller home or more modest car. While these compromises might not be very fun, they’re necessary to make you fiscally healthier. Plus, they’ll pay off in the long run, which will feel really good.

Allocate 30 percent for wants. The best way to look at this category is to think of everything that is optional. It includes obvious choices like going to your favorite restaurant, joining a gym, buying that new techie gadget or a gorgeous new purse. Another way to frame wants are, for instance, choosing a more expensive entrée like lobster instead of a pasta dish, or buying a Mercedes instead of a no-nonsense Honda. That said, living a spartan life with no feel-good experiences isn’t realistic. We all have desires. But if you find you’re spending more than 30 percent on these things, a way to cut back is to plan ahead on splurging and do it less often. This way, treating yourself might feel better than it normally would.

Sock 20 percent away on savings. This category, of course, includes your savings account, as well as investment accounts like IRAs, mutual funds and stocks, which may or may not be part of your retirement. Besides saving money to pay for future bills, it’s also recommended to put away at least three months of expenses in an emergency fund, should you lose your job or have unexpected events occur. If you spend this allotment, start replenishing it as soon as you can. Other things that fall into savings are paying more on your debt instead of minimum payments because you’ll be reducing the principal and future interest you’ll owe; so in effect, you’re saving. While tucking funds away might seem impossible, once you get in the habit of it, you won’t miss it. And a few months down the road, when you take a look at the sum you’ve accumulated, you’ll most likely be super happy.

Admittedly, saving money and managing it is a challenge – you’re not alone. As of January 2022, the personal saving rate was 6.4%, down from 8.2% in December 2021. So take heart. If you’re saving anything at all, you should count that as a victory. You’ll be way ahead of the crowd. In the end, seeking a financial equilibrium and erring on the side of saving will contribute to a more abundant life in the long run.

Sources

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/022916/what-502030-budget-rule.asp

How to Manage Your Aging Parents’ Finances

The National Institute on Aging recommends that parents give advance written consent to designated family members so they can discuss personal matters with doctors, financial representatives and Medicare officials. If you don’t have this, you’ll be faced with some road blocks. If you open the dialogue now, you’ll circumvent obstacles, as well as get a better feel for what their future needs might be.

Watch for the signs. If you don’t see your parents often, and even if you do, the signs of when you need to step in might be a bit hard to detect. That said, there are some things to look for that will indicate that their needs are changing.

  • Unusual purchases. If you find out that your folks are buying things that don’t match their lifestyle, or entering lots of contests and sweepstakes, then it’s time to speak up. Behavior like this might get out of hand – or worse, they might be getting scammed. Older people are most vulnerable to the vultures out there. 
  • Stacks of unopened mail. Watch for this, as the letters might be unpaid bills and/or solicitations for sweepstakes. Both are problematic.
  • Complaining about money. If your folks seem to be always low on cash, or say “no” to activities that they usually enjoy, talk to them. They might need your help for a number of reasons, whether it’s reconciling accounts or remembering how to pay bills, or if they even paid them.
  • Physical setbacks. Fading vision can impede driving to the bank and arthritis can be painful while writing checks or typing on the keyboard. Whatever ailment your parents might suffer from, this could be a cue that they need your assistance.
  • Memory problems. This is somewhat self-explanatory, but specific things to look for are not knowing what day or year it is, or just forgetting things that your parents once always remembered.

Start slowly. Instead of charging in and announcing that you’re taking control, take baby steps. Maybe offer to write checks for them. Or offer to pay a bill or two. Gradual, gentle steps make them feel more at ease and comfortable with the new way of doing things.

Gather important documents. Things to collect are account numbers, credit card info, birth certificates, insurance policies, deeds and wills. Make sure they’re all current and up-to-date. Put them in a secure location so you’ll have easy access when you need them.

Consider power of attorney. This is key. Even if your parents don’t need your help at the moment, there will come a time when they will. There are several types of POA to consider: financial, medical or general decisions. Unlike written consent, this gives you legal authority to act on their behalf when they’re unable to.

Communicate what’s going on. Once you’ve started to manage your parents’ finances, keep your siblings, as well as theirs, in the loop. This way, if you’re unable to handle something, you can ask for backup support.

Keep your finances separate. It might be the easiest thing to do – mix your parents’ finances with yours – but in the long run, it’s not such a good idea. It can become a slippery slope. Granted, there may be times when your parents need a loan, but for the sake of clarity and personal record-keeping, it’s best not to jeopardize your own retirement and savings goals.

If you need more help, reach out to the National Alliance for Caregiving. As we all know, the circle of life is inevitable. But caring for your parents might be one of the most important things you’ll ever do – and chances are, you’ll want to get it right.

 

Sources

https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/en/saving-budgeting/aging-parents-finances

8 Ways to Negotiate Medical Bills

medical debt consolidation.

Shop Around for Less Expensive Providers

Insurance companies usually offer cost estimates for treatments. Some companies like UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield even have cost comparison tools. If your insurance provider doesn’t offer this, try third-party sites like Healthcare Bluebook and GoodRx to shop and compare. Remember that though important, cost should never be the top consideration when deciding on a facility for your healthcare.

Understand What Your Insurance Covers

And what it doesn’t. Ask for a Summary of Benefits and Coverage from your provider to find out exactly what’s what when it comes to coinsurance, deductibles and more. Being prepared is always a good idea.

Ask for an Itemized Bill

After your treatment, you’ll receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from your insurance company. This isn’t a bill and might be updated while your claim is being processed. But the first thing to do when you receive these are to check them for errors – humans make them!

Make Sure Services are In-Network

Before your procedure, check to see that all your labs, anesthesiologists and other services are in-network. Some states prohibit out-of-network providers from charging out-of-network prices when performing care at an in-network setting. Learn about your state’s level of protection at The Commonwealth Fund.

Seek Assistance Programs

Ask your healthcare provider – the hospital or lab’s billing department – about financial assistance and/or charity programs. Thankfully, hospitals have a standard procedure for helping those who are unable to pay their bills. Some hospitals even have discounts for people who don’t have access to medical insurance. You might also ask your provider about medical debt forgiveness. If this is an option, you’ll be asked to share tax returns and other relevant documents. Other resources to help you navigate your healthcare expenses are the Patient Advocate Foundation or the PAN Foundation.

Get on a Payment Plan

Generally, healthcare providers offer no-interest payments and are available to anyone who needs it. Better still, you won’t have to meet eligibility requirements like you would with payment assistance programs. But when setting something like this up, make sure you agree to a plan that you can stick with. Otherwise, your bill might be turned over to a collection agency.

As you know, your health is your most precious asset. Make sure you’re fiscally prepared to care for it.

Sources

https://www.lendingtree.com/personal/how-to-negotiate-medical-bills/

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/health-plan-cost-increases-return-to-pre-pandemic-levels.aspx#:~:text=Budgeted%20health%20care%20costs%20increased,of%205.2%20percent%20from%202020.

Medical Debt Consolidation: Using a Loan to Pay Medical Bills (lendingtree.com)

State Balance-Billing Protections | Commonwealth Fund

How to Get Your 2022 Finances in Order

Balance transfers to cards with zero interest (for a limited time) are a smart idea, too. Then freeze your spending for 30 days, or however long you need. It might take some time, but these days, financial freedom is well worth it.

Increase Your Retirement Funds

Good news: the maximum contribution limit for your 401(k)s increases by $1,000 in 2022 compared to 2021, for a total of $20,500. If you’re 50 or older, the limit is $27,000, which is great for those closer to retirement. If you can’t max out your contribution, just increasing it by one percent can have an incredible effect. According to calculations from Fidelity Investments, if you’re 35 and earning $60,000, this tiny bump could yield an additional $85,000 to your retirement fund over a 32-year period. That’s equal to putting aside $12 per week (how easy is that?), assuming a 5.5 percent return and consistent salary growth.

Create a Back-Up Plan

This probably isn’t something you want to think about, but it’s necessary should something happen to you. Take few minutes to update your beneficiaries on all your financial accounts, including retirement, investment and benefits accounts. Next, make sure you have a durable power of attorney, someone you trust to take care of all your monetary affairs. After this, designate a health-care proxy or power of attorney, who can speak for you if you become incapacitated. Finally, update your will. Decide who will inherit your assets. If you have children, you can even assign guardians for them. In the long run, if the worst-case scenario unfolds, you’ll save your loved ones a lot of time and trouble.

Carve Out Time for a Life Audit

This task might sound big, but it’s necessary if you want to achieve your dreams – financial or otherwise. Start with a pen or pencil, about 100 sticky notes, a journal and a large space, perhaps a door, board or wall. Turn your phone off, then get started. Look back at your life. Assess where you’ve been, where you are and where you’d like to go, then brainstorm. Do you want to save a certain amount of money this year? Put away some cash for a dream trip? Learn a language? When you think you’ve finished, then organize your goals into three categories: personal, work/career and money. After that, further divide them short-term and long-term goals. Take a photo of your notes and keep it near to remind yourself of what you’re trying to accomplish. More often than not, your dreams involve money, which is directly related to your priorities and how you budget.

Budget for 2022

Now that 2021 is in your rearview mirror (and perhaps you’ve even done a life audit), take what you’ve decided upon and create a budget you can live with. Then, download a budget app to keep you on track. If last year’s budget worked well and you’re already on your way to living your dreams, just hit “repeat.” If not, make necessary changes. That said, no matter the status of your finances, it might be a good idea to increase your emergency fund, given all the uncertainty we’re facing in our world.

If you think about it, taking time in January to look closely at your finances is kind of like going to the doctor for your yearly checkup: You want to make sure there are no red flags you need to address. After all, your fiscal health might be as important as your physical health.

Sources

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/17/use-this-checklist-to-get-your-finances-in-order-before-2022.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/23/why-you-should-increase-your-401k-or-ira-contributions-by-1percent.html

https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/retirement/save-more

8 New Year’s Resolutions for Dealing with Debt in 2022

5 Affordable Ways to Share the Holiday Spirit

warm meal. You might also ask co-workers, local churches or homeless shelters if they’re looking for some extra sustenance during this time of year.

Create Necessity Bags

Giving to those on the streets during the holidays is an easy, inexpensive way to make a difference. Fill a gallon-sized food storage bag with things like gloves, toothpaste and toothbrush, hand sanitizer, sanitary wipes, bottled water, snacks and a gift card to a grocery store. Then contact your local organizations and charities to see where the needs lie. You might also carry these bags in your car and when you see someone, give it to them. Moments like these are invaluable to those in need and for you, too.

Volunteer Time

Showing up with an extra pair of hands is often what someone needs. A great place to check out is VolunteerMatch. Just type in your ZIP code and you’ll find all kinds of opportunities to help everyone from seniors to children in many sectors, including education, arts and health. You might also find ways to help animals or read to the blind. These are feel-good, money-free ways to experience the joy of giving.

Donate Craft Items

How many times have you thrown away your toilet paper rolls or egg cartons? This year, save and donate them to nearby schools or community centers. All it takes is a few phone calls to find out what their craft needs are. You’ll also be helping the environment – sharing some love for Mother Nature. How simple is that?

Declutter Your Dwelling

This one has so many terrific benefits. You can get rid of clothes and belongings that crowd your closets, which is a wonderful feeling. One option is to sell them on eBay Charity and donate to a nonprofit of your choice. You choose what percentage of the sale goes to the organization (from 10 to 100 percent). eBay will even give you a credit on your selling fees based on the percentage you choose. If you want to give away gently used professional clothes, Dress for Success and Jails to Jobs, are groups that empower people to look their best when making a fresh start. If you’d like to rid yourself of shoes you’ll never wear again, Soles4Souls is a great resource and you can ship up to 15 pairs of shoes without paying a fee through the Zappos for Good program. Talk about good for the sole, er, soul!

For the most part, should you choose to get into the holiday spirit with these activities (aside from a few costs here and there), the main thing you’ll be spending is time. However, experiencing the joy of the giving is priceless.

Sources

https://www.discover.com/online-banking/banking-topics/affordable-ways-to-spread-generosity-holiday-season/

10 Ways to Pay Off Student Debt Faster

refinancing at lower rates, ranging from 1.8 percent to 7.84 percent. But there’s more: Some lenders offer cash-back bonuses. With that said, the catch is you give up important benefits like income-driven repayment and student loan forgiveness. However, refinancing can help you save a bunch – like thousands of dollars.

Pay Bi-Weekly

If you can swing this, it makes good sense. Why? Interest on your student loan accrues daily. Just cut your monthly payment in half and make two payments per month. This way, it might be easier to juggle your finances, as opposed to doling out one big chunk every month. Also, paying more often gives you the feeling that you’re making progress – and you are because of the daily accrual. #WinWin

Use the Debt Avalanche Method

With this approach, you’re paying off your highest interest debt first. Makes sense, right? After you do this, make minimum payments on all of your other loans. If you have any extra cash left over, pay your highest interest loan. Keep at this until you’re paid in full.

Claim the Student Loan Tax Deduction

This is cool. You can write off up to $2,500 of your student loan interest. Now, the amount you can write off depends on your income because there are phaseouts and gradual reductions in place. Just use the 1098-E form (you can get this from your loan servicer) to figure out how much interest you’ve paid. Then get going.

Pay While Still in School

Talk about getting a head start.You’ll cut down on interest (a good thing) while forgoing in-school deferment, and start paying down your debt pronto.

Pay Off Private Student Loans First

Should you have public and private student loans, this is the best strategy. Here’s why: private loans don’t offer student loan forgiveness or income-driven repayment. And they have limited deferment options. You’ll be better off doing this, given all the stipulations that exist for these kinds of loans.

Use Employer Repayment Assistance Programs

This is a sweet deal. Check with your employer to see if they offer such a program. Generally, they offer reimbursement or allocate funds to help you. Don’t forget to ask!

Pay During the Grace Period

This is the six-month period after graduation. While this might not be something that’s initially appealing, think it through. It helps keep interest in check and prevents your balance from growing during your grace period. Also, starting earlier means you’ll finish earlier. Gotta love that.

Consolidate Federal Student Loans

This is a great idea for those with limited resources. You can lower your payment and extend the repayment terms. You’ll most likely pay more interest, but for a short-time solution it’s a good one.

Exceed the Minimum Payment

If you have the means to make this happen, by all means, do it. Another great way to make incredible progress is to make double payments. If you can’t pay double, at least try to pay over the required amount. It’ll help eat away at the interest and eventually, the principal.

Student loans are great while you’re in school, right? They enable you to get the education you want. And while paying them off might be overwhelming, if you use these methods, you’ll be ahead of the game and pay them off sooner than you think.

Sources

107 Ways to Pay Off Student Loans Faster (That You Can Start Right Now)

7 Ways to Save for a Home Down Payment

How to Catch Up on Your Retirement

cash value, consult your tax advisor or insurance professional first.

No matter what your situation is, you can save for your future. All you have to do is begin now and take it one day at a time.

Sources

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/retirement/08/catch-up.asp

https://www.kiplinger.com/retirement/retirement-planning/602191/401k-contribution-limits-for-2021

https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/401ks/articles/how-to-take-advantage-of-401-k-catch-up-contributions#:~:text=The%20401(k)%20Catch%2DUp%20Contribution%20Limit%20for%202021&text=Once%20you%20turn%2050%2C%20you,temporarily%20shield%20from%20income%20tax

5 Tips for Job Seekers Over 50

illegal, it doesn’t mean it isn’t prevalent. You can’t turn back the clock, but you can reshape how you present yourself. Here are a few good ways to get started.

Learn New Skills

If you see a job posting in your industry that requires knowledge of the software you don’t know, hop on YouTube or enroll in an online class. Certifications help, too, and are available in some of the most in-demand programs, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Systems Applications and Products (SAP), Hootsuite (used for social media), and Salesforce. This way, you’re demonstrating to employers that you have the necessary qualifications for the job – you’re a viable candidate – and you haven’t fallen behind over the years.

Rethink Your Resume

First of all, limit your experience to the past 15 years, unless there’s a job that reflects a title or skill that’s relevant to the position. You don’t want to appear, upon first glance, overqualified. Second, make sure your CV includes the right keywords. The days of HR managers poring over resumes is mostly gone; they often use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to weed out the candidates that are filling up their inbox at warp speed. Finally, if you’re using AOL or Hotmail, get a new account; this is a red flag that screams too old. Sign up for Gmail instead.

Widen Your Net

Think outside your industry’s box. For instance, you might be attracted to a big-name corporation or a hot startup, but it might not be the right environment for you, especially if there’s a chance you’d report to a much younger manager. You might find a better fit by going outside your comfort zone. Colleges and universities might be good options; you can leverage your experience by teaching. Smaller companies or startups that aren’t as well known might also be good places to look; you could take on multiple roles. Being open to contract or freelance jobs is another good idea. Getting your foot in the door is half the battle.

Use Personal Connections

While job sites like Zip Recruiter and LinkedIn, leads on social media and head hunters are places you might have found opportunities before, reach out to friends and former coworkers. It creates immediate familiarity and, when faced with a sea of resumes, helps move your name closer to the top. When you do get introduced to someone who has an opening, ask about their industry, role in the company, as well as what tools they’ve used, podcasts they listen to, or online classes they’ve taken to keep current. This not only shows your business savvy but also could help keep you top-of-mind if they hear of anything.

Own Your Experience

Your age doesn’t have to be the elephant in the room. Demonstrate why the invaluable skills you’ve accumulated over the years differentiate you from others. Craft an elevator pitch and jump right in. Talk about how, for instance, your breadth and depth of knowledge can help junior executives learn and grow. Busy employers generally want to know how quickly you meet the job requirements and if you can make their life easier, or help them shine.

Remember, you have so much to bring to the table. That’s why serving up your accolades in the right way can make all the difference in the world.

Sources

https://www.themuse.com/advice/jobhunting-after-50-the-new-rules