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Budgeting 101: How to Budget in 3 Easy Steps

envelope budgeting

A budget allows you to have control over where your hard-earned money goes. It empowers you to be aware of how you spend and save, which can reduce financial struggles and worries.

Budgets should be tailored to your needs and life circumstances. But it doesn’t have to be difficult to make one. Here are some things to keep in mind. 

Decide on your goals

Each person’s financial goals are different. Some common reasons to save more are to:

🏡 Save for a big purchase, such as a house or car
🎓 Prepare for the long-term (college, retirement, etc)
🎁 Have enough money to treat loved ones to gifts
🛑 Stop living paycheck-to-paycheck
💸 Pay off debt

Your goals may be one or several of these. Once you know what they are, be specific on the amount you aim to save and the timeline. 

If you want to buy a car, your goal may be to save $30,000. If you’d like to save up for college, how many years do you have before you attend? Being specific means you’ll know how much of each paycheck you’ll need to save. 

Understand your current income and expenses 

List all your after-tax income, including from your paycheck, help from family, and any side hustles. 

Then, look at your monthly expenses. Split them between essential expenditures (like rent and groceries) and “nice to have” ones (dining out, clothes shopping). The non-essential expenditures can be cut back if your goal is to save more. 

A simple budget is the 50-30-20 rule: 50% of income goes toward essentials, 30% to the wants, and 20% toward savings.

Track your progress

A budget is not a set-it-and-forget it thing. You need to review your spending and saving habits on a regular basis to make sure you’re on track to achieve your goals. Truebill makes this step extremely easy.

Not only is creating a budget in the Truebill app simple, it offers notifications and alerts that keep you updated on how you’re progressing toward your goals.

Ready to take more control of your financial future?

Can You Overdraft a Prepaid Card?

prepaid cards

Yes, you can in fact overdraft a prepaid card. If you’re a reader of this site because you have excellent financial luck and history, and are just wanting to tweak your portfolio to perfection, you probably don’t need to read this article. For the other 99.999% of us, this is news we’ll need to take in.  A new ruling by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau revealed a fact few of us knew about a tool of those building or rebuilding credit: the prepaid debit or credit card.

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How to Save Money on Cable and Internet

save cable and internet

As 2016 comes to a close, a lot of us are thinking about how we want things to be different next year. A recent survey indicates that the most common New Year’s resolution for next year is to enjoy life to the fullest. Just one problem – living large costs money! As you think about the coming year and ways to find extra savings, consider one of the easiest ways to slash your expenses: negotiate your cable and internet bills.

In most cases, it’s possible to get the same service for less with a simple phone call. As our friends over at Wallet Hacks recently detailed, it’s pretty simple to start saving right away. 

Do a Cable and Internet Bill and Service Audit

Check your cable and internet bill to see what internet speed and programming you’re paying for. Then, instead of scanning the endless options they offer, ask yourself what you actually need. 

Check Out the Competition, Gain a Little Leverage

You can probably access the programming you like without paying premium prices to your cable company for the privilege. But if your preferences can only be satisfied with cable, do a quick internet search and check out the competition. Cable companies aggressively target new customers, so it’s likely that you’ll find a local deal superior to the one you’re paying for. Write down the details – they’re critical for the next step.

Call Your Cable Company

Calling to cancel service will get you routed to the department in charge of customer retention. Cable and internet companies know how ruthless the competition is for your business, and they don’t want to lose you. Tell the representative you speak with about the deals their competitors are offering, and give them a chance to counteroffer. There’s a great step-by-step walkthrough of the “negotiation dance” over at Wallet Hacks, but if you’re nice on the phone, you’re halfway there. And why wouldn’t you be nice when you stand to save a bunch of money every month?

Here are two important things to keep in mind when you’re ready to negotiate:

First, you’ll get the best results by calling and speaking with a representative; online chat reps don’t always have the same latitude to slash prices that phone operators do.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to call twice! It’s possible that your first call will get picked up by a representative who already met their quota or is having a bad day. In either case, it’ll be hard for you to get the best possible deal. If you don’t mind spending a little extra time on the phone, a second call can only help. As part of my research for this article, I went through the negotiation process detailed above and ended up switching from Comcast to CenturyLink. When I called CenturyLink a second time, the rep I spoke with offered me a better monthly rate than the one I was offered on my first call, and dropped the activation and installation fees I was prepared to pay. So don’t assume a single call will get you everything you could hope for.

Check out the step-by-step Negotiation Playbook provided by Wallet Hack, with extra tips and secrets to getting your cable and internet bill slashed as much as possible.

Happy holidays, and many merry savings in the new year.

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How Much Do You Really Save When You Cancel Subscription Services?

cancel subscription

The past few years have seen massive growth in options for subscription-based services, whether it’s app-based, online video streaming or streaming music services or even traditional monthly fees like gym memberships. Now many consumers are beginning to wonder if it’s time to cancel subscription services as they look back on how the costs are adding up.  

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How to Cancel Recurring Campaign Contributions

how to cancel recurring political campaign contributions

We spend a lot of time on this blog looking at the hidden, recurring, often small enough to be missed, charges that come out of our accounts each month. With election season just ending, many of our readers are wondering how to shut off recurring campaign contributions. Some of them are still wondering after looking up how to do it.

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The easiest way to manage your paid subscriptions