Why you can’t stick to your budget!

image1(2)We have all been there before.  You know, the moment you write your income and expenses on paper with good intentions.  You say to yourself, “This month will be different. This time I will reach my financial goals.” But then it happens…

Macy’s has its one-day sale!

Of course Macy’s has it every day, but to you, this day is different! [Read more…]

College grads: What should you do with your first paycheck?

According to the Economic Policy Institute, 2014 college graduates are expected to earn reduced earnings for the next 10 to 15 years.  This is because wages have dropped significantly, approximately 7.7% since 2000 for new college graduates.

Because of these many issues, class of 2014 have to be extremely careful what they choose to do with their first paycheck and others to come.

Save a little

First, college graduates have to make certain they take advantage of employer retirement programs such as a 401(k).  A 401(k) plan provides employees the opportunity to save money for retirement on a pretax basis.  Most often, employers would match contributions dollar for dollar or a certain percentage, thus, giving them free money to be used for retirement.  The great thing about a 401(k) plan is it allows employees to reduce their tax liability, since the amounts contributed are not taxed.

Split your pay in 3

Next, it is extremely important for college graduates to take a realistic look at what they can or cannot afford.  A great way to split your pay is to consider splitting your pay in 3.  1/3 of your pay should be designated to savings and gifts.  The next 1/3 should be allocated to living costs and finally the remainder should be allocated to discretionary expenses.

Graduates should explore cost saving opportunities to keep more of their paycheck.  Some great ways to save is to consider sharing costs with a roommate, foregoing home phone lines and cable, and maybe resisting the urge to financing a new shiny vehicle, but opting for a less expensive dependable used car.

Spending is as easy as ABC

Lastly, it is important to create a roadmap for your finances – a budget.  Remember, your budget does not have to be complicated, just simple and easy to use. Consider using three steps — A, B and C — to get back on track.

A — Automated savings

If you have struggled in the past with savings, set up an automatic draft to have the money withdrawn directly from your checking account and deposited into a savings account.

B — Bill management

Determine the total amount of your monthly bills. Then, set up a checking account dedicated strictly to paying your bills.

C– Cash for other purposes

By this point, you have determined the amount you need to tithe, save and spend. Whatever remains is yours to spend as you wish!

Remember: your choice, your future!

Kemberley Washington is a professor at Dillard University and certified public accountant.  She writes a personal finance blog at kemberley.com.

Financial Problems are Temporary

If things seem a bit tight or finances are weighing you down, you have to understand it will not always be this way.

I know firsthand. While in college, I made financial mistake after financial mistake.  If it wasn’t the mall calling my name, a night out with my girls, or just living beyond my means, I always found myself spending money I didn’t have. After graduating from college, it finally dawned on me; I had to make some financial changes. [Read more…]