Week 3 of Budget 101

Part 3: Save on the Big Things

After spending the last week sorting out your budget and then recording all your purchases, you hopefully now have a fairly clear idea of where your money is going.  Over the next 6 weeks be sure to keep those worksheets handy–you will need to adjust your amounts as we work to lower expenses in the various categories.  Be sure to also continue recording all your purchases in the expense tracking worksheet too!
(NOTE: If you are new to “Through The Eyes Of I” or missed out last week, you might want to start at Week 1 of Budget 101 before starting this week’s assignment!)

This week we are going to tackle lowering the BIG 3:  Housing, Transportation, & Insurance.  I will readily admit that this is not my area of expertise.  Not even close. From this point forward it should be known that you are taking financial advice from a girl who thinks a cute pair of designer shoes or a great book is a perfectly reasonable investment, not just an impulse buy.

In other words, some of this stuff is a little over my head.

Since this kind of stuff overwhelms me, I’m guessing that it probably overwhelms many of you too. So let’s figure it out together and be better for it.  Luckily for us, the internet is a vast pool of knowledge.  This week, we’re going swimming.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to your finances and the money you’re spending is this premise: Everything is negotiable.  

The great thing about NOT being socialists is that we live in a country where companies have to compete for OUR business. This is something they don’t really want you to figure out.  Most companies would rather have you believe that they are doing you a favor by financing your home or car, or providing insurance, because if you believe that, you’ll pay whatever they tell you to.  The truth is that they NEED your business, and that if they are not willing to negotiate, there is probably someone else out there who will.

Knowledge is power; use it to your advantage!

When it comes to saving money on your housing costs there are a lot of factors that will come in to play, far too many to get into specifics here.  Do you rent or own?  Do you owe more on your house than it’s worth?  Are you looking to buy?  Are you in an apartment? Is your lease coming due soon?  Your individual circumstances will determine your course of action, or even whether there is a course of action possible.

As far as transportation costs go, unless your vehicle is constantly in need of repair or way more expensive than you can afford, it is almost always more cost effective to stick with the car you have than get a different vehicle. Thus, your current car payment is probably not going to change much.  That said, if you need a new car, it is almost always better to buy used than to lease or buy something brand new. Your auto insurance, on the other hand, can definitely be negotiated!

Likewise, health, life, & home insurance prices can also be negotiated and shopping around pays.  When my Husband and I needed health insurance last year, we took a lot of time to price things out.  When we took into consideration how little we actually go to the doctor, we discovered that it made a lot more sense financially to buy only catastrophic coverage with a high deductable, then to pay a huge premium each month for medical coverage we weren’t using.  As with most things, it is very important to do the math!

How to negotiate when chartering a gulet

Here is your assignment:

1. Research options for lowering your mortgage payment or rent

Once you’ve done your homework, decide if making some changes or re-negotiating your rent or mortgage would be the right solution for your family.  I found some awesome, super informative, and, most importantly, short articles to start with:

How to Lower Your Mortgage Payment Without Refinancing (homeowners)

How to Negotiate Low Mortgage Interest Rates [Video] (homeowners)

I Owe More Than My House Is Worth (homeowners underwater)

How to get the best mortgage rate (looking to buy a home)

How to negotiate lower rent (renters)

Tips for Reducing your Insurance Premium

2. Research options for lowering your insurance rates

If you haven’t shopped around for auto, homeowners, health, or life insurance lately (or ever) then you need to.  Do some due diligence to find out what options are available, then make some phone calls (or send some emails) and get new quotes.  You might be surprised at how much money you can save.

 Here are some great articles I recently wrote to get you going:

What Every Mom Needs to Know About Insurance

9 Smart Ways to Save on Car Insurance

12 Smart Ways to Save on Home Insurance

It’s only two tasks, but this should be plenty to keep you busy this week!  If it seems daunting, just remember that every dollar saved on your mortgage, rent, vehicle, or insurance is a dollar that can be spent on shoes.
Stay tuned for another riveting installment next Sunday and don’t forget to let me know how you’re doing! What big things do you want to save money on?  Do you think it will be possible?  What is something you know you can’t save on?
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Reading Benefits

Read

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

84% of people are reading less and less deeply. The National Endowment for the Art has found that reading has declined among every group of adult Americans. Literacy has been improving in countries like India and China, but that literacy may not translate into more or deeper reading.

People seem to be reading less material particularly unrelated from celebrity gossip, social media or fashion. When was the last time you read a fiction novel, educational book, or a substantial magazine or news article? Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates or short written text messages? If you’re one of the majority of people who don’t make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out: reading has a significant number of benefits.

More than often, people will tell me that I write too much, which is why they don’t bother to read or even view my site. On average, I write at most, 1000 words. That’s about the same as scrolling down your Facebook wall for 3 minutes. The only difference, I speak upon random, relevant subjects and matters, all in one proportion. My case being, there are differences in materials of reading, and what they offer. I believe, the more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face.

In this post, I will be brief, so therefore it’s not too much to read. As you read, realize that I’m not wrong for writing much, those who are too lazy to read are in the wrong and need to make the adjusment.

Book Wallpaper - reading Wallpaper

As adults, whether parents or not, we need to set by example for any child, how essential and great reading is. I personally believe, not enforcing a child to participate in creative and productive reading, or setting by example, is terrible leadership of the essential reading habits a child should inquire. We want our children to read so they can build a productive vocabulary, an advanced imagination, and not only learn to make decisions now, but continue to make more.

It is not only healthy for you to read, but it gives your child the illusion of how important, and great it can be so they will continue as adults. It also shows that the existence and importance of reading outside of school is not a delusion, but a continuing part, and knowledge builder of life. Reading outside of the classroom will not seem foreign to them if they see it exists.

We teach our children to be leaders, not followers; and good leadership begins with gaining relevant information that is provided through reading and example.

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Leadership benefits of reading are actually wide-ranging. Evidence suggests reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight. Reading makes you smarter through a larger vocabulary, and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills. It is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information. The more one reads, both adults and children, the more words they gain exposure to, and enhance their everyday vocabulary.

Reading not only helps build a child’s future leadership skills overall, it allows more effectiveness in leading others. Reading increases verbal intelligence, making a leader a more adept, and articulate communicator. Reading novels can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing the average person, parent and leader to better work with and understand others.

I personally believe that reading across fields is good for creativity, and offers a larger decisions bracket to create and choose from. Leaders who can sample insights in other fields, such as sociology, the physical sciences, economics, or psychology, and apply them to the organizations or movements that they are leading, are more likely to innovate and prosper.

These deep, broad reading habits one must acquire as an adult, if haven’t during childhood already, are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders, and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness. An active literary life can also make you more personally effective by keeping you relaxed and improving health; as reading for only six minutes can reduce stress by 68%.

Some studies suggest reading may even fend off Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia, since keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, extending the longevity of the mind.

Any business person (leader), understands that heightened emotional and mental intelligence will improve his or her leadership and management ability, along with parenting and running a household.

There are still many more reading benefits, but this is a short post.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

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