Save with Purpose

When we choose to save, we’re paying a cost today with the hope of a future reward later. Many of us choose not to save thinking we can’t bear that present cost. Other’s may overemphasize the future reward and save without purpose or limit. Both of these perspectives can be misleading. As you think about your own saving, take some time to think about what you’re saving for. Having a clear purpose for your savings will help you make the hard decisions about when and how much to save, and let you know when you’ve saved enough.

What are you saving for?

Having a clear purpose for your savings will help you prioritize it over other distractions that are sure to happen each month. Years ago I tried to start a savings account, but never decided what I was saving for. Unsurprisingly, each month something would come up that would distract me from saving. One month my car needed to be repaired, another month my friends would want to go on a road trip. Without a purpose for my savings account, it was hard to ever say no to these things and my savings account remained empty.

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When You’re Making More, But Seeing Less

Have you ever felt like the more you make, the less you have? You know you’re bringing more money home each month, but somehow it feels like you have less to spend than ever. That’s what it feels like when you don’t have control over your spending, and that’s when it’s more important than ever to have a budget.

I experienced this a few months ago when I got a raise at work. Perfect, I thought, since I was already living off my current income the raise would all be extra. I could set it aside towards a goal in EEBA, add it to my Savings, or whatever I needed. Unsure of how I wanted to use the extra money, I decided to just let it gather in my Unallocated Money. As the months passed, however, I was surprised to find that my Unallocated Money balance wasn’t increasing as I thought it would, but was in fact decreasing. What was going on?

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Paying off Debt

I recently had to make a decision about how to pay my student loans. One option was to follow a standard repayment plan, equal payments each month for the life of the loan. Another option was to sign up for a payment plan based off my income. I would make smaller payments each month -which usually means a longer loan- but then after 25 years the loan would be forgiven.

At first I thought the decision would be easy. Lower payments and a debt that would be forgiven? Why wouldn’t I choose the income based plan? I knew there were good financial reasons to pay off debt sooner: less money paid on interest, better cash flow month to month, etc. etc.  But as I did the math I found that financially the income based plan was still the best option.

So, I signed up. I felt smart for having more to spend each month and gracious to the government program that was making it all possible.

And yet, something felt off. I knew I wasn’t doing anything illegal, I was choosing a repayment plan that was being offered to me, and honestly reporting my income. But I also knew that I could afford to pay more, but was choosing not to knowing that what I didn’t pay would simply be forgiven later.

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Budgeting with Financial Aid

With Fall fast approaching, students everywhere are leaving their nests to set off to college. With more and more students taking loans to finance their education, however, learning how to budget and live off student loans is more important than ever.

The hardest part about budgeting with student loans is that you get it all at once. With a pile of cash in the bank, it’s just too easy to look at your bank balance and think you have more to spend than you really do, leaving yourself short in the months ahead. To make sure you don’t overspend, treat your student loan like an income you receive over time. If you’re borrowing 6,000 to pay for the next four months, treat it as a monthly budget of 1,500 (6,000 / 4 = 1,500) that you’ll need to maintain each month. That way, you can be sure you’ll have enough to cover your needs till your next loan disbursement.

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FAQ: How do I record cashback?

Update EEBA is now Goodbudget! Goodbudget has all the great features of EEBA (and more!) in a new and updated interface. Check out our updated article on this topic, and check out the Goodbudget Help Center for the most recent help content. Getting “cashback” is like mixing an atm withdrawal with a purchase. When you … Read more

Start Small and Build Momentum to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Financial goals can often seem large and overwhelming. But don’t be intimidated! Start with small and fun financial goals to build confidence and momentum toward larger goals. Not sure how to start? Here are some tips on how to choose a small and fun financial goal to get started.

Make a list of potential financial goals

Start by making a list of potential financial goals. Be creative when you make this list! You can start with the usual suspects like a retirement fund or a college fund for the kids, but don’t stop there. Is there a hobby you’ve wanted to try but haven’t had the cash to get started? Or maybe a trip you’ve wanted to go on but haven’t had the funds? Write those down!

A financial goal is more than just building up wealth, it’s about making choices with the money that you have. Paying down debt or saving for the future are great financial goals, but so is learning an instrument or giving meaningfully to a good cause. Think creatively about your financial goals and you’re more likely to find one you’ll really stick with.

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When is it OK to use your credit card?

When is it OK to use your credit card? Some might say never, and with consumer debt topping 1.7 trillion dollars this year, maybe they’re right.* But why are credit cards so bad, and is going all cash really the answer?

Credit Cards Distance You From Your Spending

People spend more when they pay with their credit card. It’s inevitable. When you pay with cash, you feel every penny. You only have so much cash on hand and each dollar you spend is a dollar less in your pocket. This direct connection with your spending keeps things in perspective. Spend $50 bucks on eating out this week, and you’ll feel the emptiness if your wallet by the end of it.

In contrast, when you pay with a credit card the payment happens out of context. You spend $5 on a sandwich one day, $6 on a burrito the next, and nothing adds up. Not until the end of the month when you’re hit with a $300 bill that you don’t understand, and may not have the money to pay in full.

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