My Grandmother Passed

My grandmother passed away this past week. I’m hanging with my husband this weekend and just privately grieving. She was a kind and wonderful woman who was extremely generous. I lost my other grandmother a few

love you

years ago, so I feel especially sad not having any grandparents around.

Grandparents are pretty special people – they see things in a different light and their wisdom has been earned. My grandmothers lived during a time when frugality was a virtue and being industrious was expected. Acquiring stuff wasn’t a priority for them, they focused on building their families into a generation of good people. Stuff breaks down over time while family grows stronger.

PhotoCredit: jeff_golden

Buying a Home

We’ve been busy this summer with a wedding in the family and house hunting. We decided to buy a little condo in our city. It has 3 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms. It’s conveniently located by the interstate, so I’m glad the commute won’t be too bad for work.

We’re also going to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit for first time home buyers. The purchase has to be made before December 1st, 2009, it has to be our primary residence, and we have to stay in your home for three years. We meet the requirements as we see this as a long term commitment.

Work Schedule

I have some more training starting towards the end of the month and would start my new assignment. My only hesitation is making sure the schedule works well with my other obligations. I have to call the HR department Monday and find out a bit more before I make the decision.

Photo Credit: Images_of_Money

Setting SMART Goals

Have goals you want to achieve and set a deadline.

A very productive way to write a goal is to use the SMART method.

  • Specific: Choose a specific goal. Don’t say ’save more’, but instead choose ‘put aside 5% of my paycheck into a savings account.’
  • Measurable: How do you know when you reached your goal? If you are saving an emergency fund up, consider setting aside 3-6 months of living expenses.
  • Attainable: Work on 1 or 2 goals at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed. 
  • Realistic: Make sure your goal is something you can do and truly believe in.
  • Time Based: By setting a deadline, you can work backwards and break down the steps into mini goals.

Photo Credit: NathanF

Organize Your Finances

I think the biggest barrier for people trying to improve their finances is getting started. We may start and get halfway done on a budget only to then quit following it within the next two weeks.money

The key to coming up with a plan that works for many people is making it easy to do and even easier to maintain. Here are some steps you might want to consider:

  1. Simplify your accounts. Clever Dude had 10 accounts and he’s slowly consolidating them to make it easier for him to track. If you have several accounts lying around, see if you can reduce it. It’ll save you time from trying to remember what goes where and you can qualify for better rates if you balances are higher.
  2. Track your actual spending. Unless you follow your budget to the T, then get online with your bank and download/print last month’s statement. Add up the different categories or use some money management software to automate it. See what your biggest expenses are.
  3. Pick 1-2 areas to work on for the next month. Don’t try to ‘fix’ everything at once. Build some momentum by working on one or two areas of your budget. My suggestions are eating out and movie tickets/rents. These are two unnecessary expenses. Put a note in your wallet about your goal for the month. It’ll be a reminder to cut back.
  4. Only try to reduce those areas, don’t just cut them out completely. You don’t have to abstain from these activities, but be choosier with the expenses. Do you have to eat out every day? Can you have leftovers for lunch twice a week? It’s better to start somewhere then plan everything.
  5. Keep your receipts in a small pile on your desk. If you keep it in the car or at work, you’re less likely to check what you’re spending. Keep it by your home computer. It takes less than 5 minutes if you do it 3 times a week. Remember if it’s easy to do, then you’re more likely to do it. (Not guaranteed because of the laziness factor of some people.)
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for the next area. Now that you’re working at it and seen it work, then move on to another area you feel you can improve. It’s an ongoing process, but if you chip at it, then it’s much easier.

What gives you a hard time when working on your finances? What part of your spending was easiest to cut down on? What expense was the hardest?

Photo Credit: sushi♥ina

Job Hunts | How to Find a Job

Many people are looking for jobs in many places. How do you know what job to apply for?What do you wear for a job interview? How do get read for a phone interview? What kind of questions should you expect?

If you’re looking for job, here are some tips:

Don’t rely on submitting resumes on the Internet. It’s a great way to see what opportunities are available. Placing your resume on Monster or Career Builder takes 5 minutes and can get your name out, but don’t let it be your sole focus.

Ask friends and families for help. Don’t be embarrassed to ask your friends and family to keep an eye out on possible jobs. Many jobs opening aren’t advertised online first. Cut the competition by having a friendly face looking out for you.
Look at at temp and other employment agencies for some jobs. Try state employment agencies if you want to widen your net. You also may want to put your portfolio online in a blog format.
Be organized with your job search :Have a system to track your job hunt and keep a schedule to get you ready for when you find a job.

Building Your Resume:

Update your resume! Try polishing and tailoring your resume to fit the jobs you are applying for.

Interviewing Tips:

You want to make a great first impression. Being prepared is essential for handling your interview successfully.

2010 Census Bureau is hiring right now. You can work full-time hours or you can work part-time and look for a job more in your field.

What is the work schedule for jobs?

Work schedules for census takers typically include from 20 to 40 hours of work per week. Some census operations (such as Address Canvassing) require you to work during daylight hours. For interviewing operations such as Non-Response Follow-up, you must be available to work when people are usually at home, such as in the evening and on weekends. Hours for office jobs are less variable but can involve shift work.

Source: 2010 Census Bureau

Anybody have more tips to include? If you want to share stories or tips, please leave a comment. I really want to help people out, so if you need some ideas to get a job, email me.

Know exactly where you stand in your finances.

It’s not impossible to handle your finances in this economy; it just takes some time. Getting your finances under control is completely doable if you take it step by step. 

You have to be able to answer these questions with specific numbers, not estimates. 

  • How much am I (or are we) in debt?
  • How much income do I/we take home each month?
  • How much are the monthly expenses? 
  • How much do I (or we) have in savings?
  • Am I behind or delinquent on any bills?
  • How much is in my retirement account?
  • What’s my (or our) net worth?

Once you have a clear picture of where you are, you can see what you need to improve on.

Build a realistic budget.

  • Track what you spend in two weeks. It’s hard to cut back if you don’t what your weak points are, so grab a little notepad and write everything you spend for 2 weeks.
  • Withdraw from your bank’s ATM once a week. Take out money you need to eat, tolls, etc. If you run out of money, then make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or bring leftovers for lunch.  Do not go back until the next week!
  • Use you cash, not credit cards. Don’t defeat the previous step by switching over to your credit card. This will help you to stop acquiring new debt, which in turn can drain your savings. National average for standard, variable cards is around 14%, so eliminating new debt will help you.
  • Base a tentative budget based on what you learned the past two weeks. This will help you avoid a rigid or unrealistic budget, which will only frustrate and discourage you.
  • Repeat. Keep working at this. You’ll probably work on it a few times until you get it right for your circumstances.