Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern in myself. It used to be that I was so excited to open up YNAB to see how my budget was doing. I was so proud of myself for staying in my budget categories and saving up for future expenses.
But as of late, I haven’t wanted to look at my budget. I’ve been avoiding it, to be honest. I don’t want to open the application. I don’t want to import any of my recent expenses.
Why? Because I’ve been spending too much money. Some of it is by necessity, some of it is because I’ve seen good deals on things that I would be buying over the next few months, some of it has been “just because.”
And that’s not good. That’s decidedly not the way to budget. It’s great that I’m tracking my expenses and it’s great that I have a budget. These are all steps in the right direction. But then I have to run my budget. As my boss likes to say, you make a plan and you work the plan.
I’ve made a plan, but I’ve been avoiding working the plan.
I’m not what I would call a compulsive spender. I know what I’m doing, and I don’t have to be doing it. But I do sometimes think that I have an issue with willpower. And when my life gets stressful, that willpower starts to fall by the wayside. I start spending too much money in areas I shouldn’t be. I ignore my healthy diet plans in favor of eating out more often (not good for the waistline or the budget). And it simply isn’t good for me.
We’re in a new month now, and while I could say that my budget starts fresh, that’s not necessarily true. Because I use YNAB, I plan to “live on last month’s income.” That means that all I have to spend in May is what I earned in April.
The problem is that I spent a lot of that in April as well. I’m significantly underfunded for this month and will certainly be underfunded in June as well. But I’m going to work to get back on track. Every dollar helps. I’m not at risk of being unable to pay for bills, thankfully. Because I’ve been putting money away every month for some bigger bills that are still months away, there’s a nice cushion in my bank accounts. But I can’t be relying on that, because if I do, what happens when those bills come due? I need to be ready.
So now that it’s May, I’m recommitting to my budget. I’m also recommitting to healthy eating, which isn’t cheap, but eating out hasn’t been cheap either. I’m recommitting to putting myself first and finding fun in things other than spending money. There is a lot of fun to be had in the city over the summers and much of it is free. It’s most definitely time to take advantage of those opportunities.
The Ultimate4trading algorithm is relatively new on the market but has become very popular very fast. It already has an award for the innovation of the year 2015. The bot is for trading binary options. With so many bots on the market, it helps to know what this one offers. The tool was created to increase profits when trading binary options. Its developers claim an 80% success rate for traders. The tool is available for traders in the UK and offers assets on FTSE100.
Traders get binary options trading signals that they can select to suit their convenience. There are two choices available; the high/low option or the 60 seconds options. With the trading bot, a trader only has to make a decision about the most suitable signal. By design, the algorithm will give a signal on whether a particular trade will rise or fall. It is how trades improve their chances of winning.
Deciding which choice to make requires a proper understanding of the market. If a signal is based on currencies, a trader must know how different pairs are performing on the market. This part can be complicated for some people because Ultimate4Trading analyses the market and finds the right trades. What this means is that a trader does not need to have expertise or experience in binary options to start trading. It is also time-saving when a trader doesn’t have to conduct extensive research on a variety of markets before they can start trading.
The trading tool has a simple user interface further simplifying the process of trading and can run on different computers from Macs to traditional PCs. It is also possible to use the trading application on mobile. Mobile trading offers various conveniences, especially for business people such as placing trades from anywhere.
Ultimate4Trading algorithm offers demo accounts that users can try out. If you are searching for a new algorithm for trading binary options and are not sure about this one, there is a chance to fix that. With a demo account, you can watch how the bot performs and what to expect from it. For a beginner that has never used a trading algorithm before, the account serves as an excellent learning platform. Seeing as you don’t use real money with a demo account, there is no harm in using it. There is also a binary options glossary for those who need to learn some terms.
Traders looking for an algorithm that provides a secure environment to trade can take a look at Ultimate4Trading because it connects to regulated brokers only. One concern that most traders have when using trading algorithms is fraudulent behaviour by brokers. Various regulation agencies such as the FCA and CySEC ensure that brokers adhere to strict codes of conduct when providing services.
I’ve talked about preparedness a lot on this blog. Doing things like setting up your emergency fund, keeping an emergency kit and a small stockpile of food in your home, and making sure you have a plan should an emergency happen while you’re away from home.
But all of those things rest on the assumption that whatever happens, you and your family will all still be around to use those items. What we often don’t like to think about is what happens when tragedy strikes?
It took me all together too long to put together my will. It took me even longer to actually sign it. Why? Because I didn’t want to think about it. And my will was relatively easy. I don’t have children or a spouse, so I’m leaving everything to my siblings (a fact that they immediately seized upon and joked about how they were going to off me so they could get my stuff). But to be honest, having a will isn’t enough.
I recently discovered a great website called GYST or Get Your S**t Together (crude, but effective), that will help to guide you through what you need to do.
First off, this isn’t a paid review of GYST. They don’t know who I am at all. Also, in going through their site, while they do have some services they offer for a fee, none of them are services you absolutely need to use (you can pay for an attorney consult, but you can always find another attorney, for example). And while they recommend specific products, again, you can do your own research. From everything I’ve seen, this is a great resource that you can use with confidence.
The most important part, in my opinion, is their checklist. They break down the things you need to do into simple tasks. And they offer guides to help you through those tasks. They even link you to free forms for your state to help you put together things like your Living Will and your Advance Care Directive.
I know, I know. No one wants to talk about these things. I’m young and healthy, after all. Why would I want to be planning for my demise?
But the thing is, I’m not doing it for myself. I’m doing it for my family. My grandfather died recently and he had done an excellent job of having everything in place. He had all the paperwork taken care of. He knew what he wanted and he made sure that my mother would be able to find all the information she needed. It was still a lot of work for her to handle everything, but she knew what she had to do. On the other hand, a friend recently lost her father and the situation was completely different. He had a will, but it was terribly outdated. There was no record of his accounts or insurance policies. She went through a lot to try to settle his estate and it was a lot of stress for her on top of the emotional stress of losing her father. Clearly, this wasn’t something he ever wanted to do to her, but like so many of us, he had put off putting together his information.
So check out GYST and… well, GYST. Let’s do it together, and I’ll touch base with you in a few months to see how we’re all doing.
I was reading through some personal finance forums over the weekend, and I realized something pretty important.
Some people don’t know what it means to use a credit card.
Now, like with everything else, there’s no shame in not knowing, but you definitely need to know what you’re doing when you use a credit card.
So you’ve been using your debit card for years, but you see a cool new credit card out there that comes with rewards just for spending money. Maybe it’s cash back, maybe it’s airline miles, maybe it’s credits at your favorite store. Whatever the incentive may be, you decide to sign up.
Great! Awesome! You just took the first step in building your credit. But how do you use the card?
Well, just like you used your debit card. When you go to pay, you hand over your card instead of cash. But what does that really mean? It means the credit card company is essentially loaning you the money to pay for what you just bought. It also means that you have to pay the credit card company back.
When you get your statement for the card, you will see two main options of how much you can pay. You can pay the statement balance – the entire amount that you borrowed for that billing cycle (usually about a month). Or you can pay the minimum balance due.
This weekend, I learned that a lot of people don’t realize that they should probably pay more than just the minimum balance due.
You see, if you pay off the statement balance, you’ve basically just gotten an interest-free short term loan. You are paying the company no more money than you spent. And if it’s a rewards card – sweet! You just got something for nothing. (For the most part – some people will disagree, but I love rewards cards.)
But if you only pay the minimum balance, on your next statement, you’re going to see an interest charge. The credit card company isn’t going to let you use their money for free for long. You have to start paying for that privilege in the form of interest. How much interest will you pay? Depends on how much you spend and what the interest rate is on your card. And the bad news is that the cards with the best perks tend to have the highest interest rates. Makes sense – how else are they going to pay those benefits?
So you should make a point to pay off your full statement balance each month. That doesn’t mean that as soon as you make a purchase on your credit card that you have to run home and use the internet to transfer funds from your bank to your credit card. You will get a statement every month, either in the mail or online. Pay your statement balance. On my statement, it’s listed as the “New Balance.”
Credit cards can be a great tool if you use them responsibly. And that means never charging more than you can pay and always paying off your full statement balance each month. Then you can bask in the rewards that come your way (and the benefits to your FICO score too).
One of the big things that I want to work on in 2016 is willpower. I find myself drawn to excesses in two main areas in my life – food and spending.
In the food area, I started really watching what I eat and cutting back on the sugar back in September. I’ve seen an amazing change in my overall health. I started dropping weight, but more importantly, I had so much more energy, without a lot of major work on my part. It was just willpower – avoiding the sugars that are so prevalent in the standard American diet. Don’t get me wrong, I still have treats. If there is a good cupcake put in front of me, I’m going to eat it. But I decided that those would be occasional splurges, not regular treats.
Late last year, I decided to apply the same sort of mindset to my budgeting and spending. I looked at where I was overspending and why, and realized that impulse shopping was my biggest budgetary downfall. So I decided to really pull back on that, almost eliminating it completely. No more impulse purchasing.
And it went really well. I saved a bunch of money and really started to make sense of my budget.
So I thought, “Well, maybe I can do some online browsing again. Just a bit of shopping on the deals sites. See what’s out there. Besides, I have depleted my Christmas gift boxes, so I’ll need to be starting on holiday shopping soon.”
I should have known better. I started spending more than I should, not just on deals sites, but on other hobby categories that I had pulled back on. Those little twenty and thirty dollar purchases start to add up. And I had forgotten about some key “fun” expenditures I had coming up, such as outfitting the bike I bought last summer with much needed water bottle holders and other accessories. And I needed to replace some of my work clothing that had seen better days, and my running shoes were on their last miles.
None of those expenses were really necessary (well, the work clothes probably were), though they were things that I needed to do for the various hobbies I love. But they were expenses I should have thought about. That was where my “fun” money should have been going.
Unfortunately, I let myself rest on my laurels. I thought that I had a handle on my spending, but all those little purchases were starting to add up. And I was doing it with my health as well. Those occasional treats were becoming more frequent. Suddenly, when I hit the grocery store, I was buying sugary snacks I didn’t need and certainly shouldn’t be eating. But things were going so well and I was feeling so good, so it wouldn’t hurt, right?
So I’m recommitting. Watching what I eat. Watching where my money goes. Occasional splurges in both areas, but not constant splurges. I haven’t dug myself into a hole physically or financially, but I’ve picked up the metaphorical shovel. Time to put it down and walk away.