BeforeYourNext Birthday-DeniseFisher’s Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Expenses’

Top 10 Financial Urgencies – Getting Your Financial Affairs in Order

Posted by denisefisher on November 21, 2010

All money matters are not of equal value, and while it would be nice to go through an orderly plan of reorganization in a standardized step-by-step plan, there are issues in your finances that need your urgent attention and can’t wait until they come up in the rotation. I have tried to speculate on the categories of imminent financial matters that should be at the top of the list for handling, and added specific issues that may apply to you. There may also be other issues that need your urgent action that are not listed below, but this listing should help prompt you and identify the financial matters that are screaming for your attention.

Print out this list, put stars next to any issues that apply to you, write your specific circumstances in the margins, or recreate your own personalized list to identify the financial tasks that need your immediate attention. I have arranged the categories below in what could be the general order of importance, but you know your circumstances best and can identify what issues bother you most. In any case, having that list is the start of creating an action plan, feeling a sense of accomplishment as you achieve your critical tasks, and experiencing peace of mind in knowing that your critical issues have been identified and being able to see what remains to be done.

Take care of these critical issues before getting back to your other financial planning matters.

 

1. Collect money that is due to you

  • Tax returns
  • Child support
  • Reimbursement by employer for expenses, tuition, travel, purchases, etc.
  • Returning recent unwanted purchases or damaged goods
  • Filing rebates
  • Filing insurance claims, warranty or service claims due to you
  • Collecting on personal loans to friends/family members
  • Claiming or cashing in on gift cards, uncashed checks, store credits (or giving them away)
  • Getting credits for billing errors, unfulfilled or unacceptable goods or services
  • Billing for services performed but not invoiced/charged/requested

 

2. Make sure you have cash flow coming in

  • Get a job (if you don’t have one)
  • Find additional work if needed
  • Sell things that you don’t need to bring in cash
  • Start any processes that are needed for getting financial support

 

3. Keep debt issues from causing further damage

  • Stop spending on any non-essential purchases or services (you know this already, but you may need reminding, and you definitely need a conscientious plan to address this if it’s an issue)
  • Avoid the use of credit cards, loans, and other financial fixes that only make matters worse
  • Contact those to whom you owe money and can’t pay on the original terms (whether it be a utility company, bank, credit card company, friend or family member); it’s better to address the situation and try to work out a solution than to ignore it and cause further damage to your credibility
  • Refinance mortgages, renegotiate credit card terms and loan repayments where you can and where it makes sense (consider any additional fees or other terms that may not be beneficial)
  • Do not raid your retirement funds or home’s equity without serious consideration of the penalties and financial losses, and even then, this option should only be done in a desperate situation (not to pay credit card bills) – this may require some serious research or outside consultation from a trusted source

 

4. Pay money you owe

  • Money that is past due, coming due, or needs to be addressed
  • Taxes due
  • Housing, Utilities, Auto, Insurance, Child Support
  • Medical expenses
  • Personal loans, maintenance fees, service charges, late fees, penalties, any payment issue that accrues additional fees from your inaction
  • Payment owed for goods or services delivered
  • Anything that involves a warrant, potential court case, collection agency, seizing assets, personal embarrassment
  • Traffic Tickets, licenses, registrations, other auto-related issues
  • Any other payment issues that bother you because you haven’t taken action or followed through (replacement of something you borrowed and then damaged or lost; payment of an item for which you were not charged, etc.)
  • If you are told that you owe money, but you dispute it, this may be the instance for you to put your dispute in writing and send it to where it needs to go – the idea is to resolve any debt issues that continue to hang on and cause you stress

 

5. Take care of critical repairs

  • Maintenance or repairs of plumbing, heating, cooling, doors & hardware, appliances, roofing system, electrical service, building structure, etc. that affect your security, safety, health, or prevents further damage from occurring (whether you own your home or rent)
  • Maintenance or repairs to your vehicle that can make matters worse if not attended to, especially if they can put your vehicle out of commission, affect your safety, or cause further damage
  • Maintenance or repairs that (though they may not be critical) seriously affect your quality of life, especially if it’s to the point that you are depressed or not fully functional, due to your living circumstances
  • Health maintenance, screenings, testing, prescriptions, etc., especially as they apply to your health history, preventive measures with good return (e.g., dental care), and procedures/actions that have long-range impact and affect your day-to-day living capabilities

 

6. Eliminate recurring expenses

  • Monthly, seasonal, or annual services you don’t use, don’t need, or could do without
  • Warranty/service coverage on electronics, appliances, utility services that are not beneficial
  • Low deductibles on insurance coverage
  • Features on your phone, cable that are wasteful expenses or excessive for your financial situation
  • Storage/rental costs – portable or self-storage units, garages, marinas, boat slips, and other places where you pay to keep vehicles, sports or recreational vehicles/equipment, furniture, personal items, collections, memorabilia, unfinished projects, items needing repair, and things you don’t know what to do with
  • Memberships that are not fully utilized or participated in
  • Magazines/publications that you do not read regularly
  • Expenses that you pay that should be paid by someone else (this can apply to parents who continue to pay expenses of their adult children, even when they are fully employed [or capable of financial responsibility]; or people who pay recurring expenses of other friends or relatives and find it to awkward to tell the beneficiary of their support that they want to discontinue their financial subsidies)

 

7. Eliminate bad habits that cause you to spend money

  • Gambling
  • Smoking, alcohol, recreational drugs, partying
  • Recreational shopping for clothing, hobby items, sports equipment, décor, tools, etc.
  • Bargain shopping for food, household items, clearance items or purchases that are a good deal, items with perceived collectible value, items for projects you intend to take up or complete, home improvement purchases that go unused, items bought to stock up supplies (but which are eventually thrown out or not used)
  • Spontaneous purchasing (especially under pressure or in social settings)
  • Social spending on restaurants, entertainment, sports, events & activities
  • Replacement purchases made to avoid dealing with lower cost repairs
  • New trend purchases
  • Convenience purchases, resulting from lack of planning (everything from ATM charges and bottled beverages to airport neck pillows and full-price tickets)

 

8. Prepare for upcoming financial deadlines

  • Avoid fees, penalties
  • Don’t miss financial opportunities (credits, rebates, returns, incentives, reimbursements, expense reports, income from sales, job opportunities, investment or purchase opportunities, grants, scholarships, tax deductions, credits, interest income, cash-ins, sales, bundling, advance payment discounts, advantageous actions that must be taken before tax year or tax filing deadlines)
  • Maintain credibility (and your credit ratings)
  • Protect your assets
  • Reduce stress caused by not having your finances in order (owing payments, having utilities shut off, accounts closed, garnishment of wages, collection agents, IRS dealings, liens, court filings, eviction, conflicts with friends/family members between whom money is owed, general financial anxiety)

 

9. Determine which financial (or financially related) issues are not worth acting on & officially let them go

  • Non-collection of personal loans you’ve made to others or financed on their behalf
  • Unfiled expense reports, claims, lawsuits, or paperwork to get money you are entitled to
  • Unreturned items with missing receipts, past the warranty or return deadline
  • Purchased goods or services that are not being used and still taking up space or incurring expenses
  • Holding out on the sale of a house, car, or other item you own that you think should sell for more money
  • Lost opportunities of any kind

 

10. Change your mindset

  • See yourself as a person who is financially responsible
  • Become conscious of your spending, your income, your savings, and your financial decisions
  • Realize that you need support from financial experts, and see yourself as a manager of your financial team (even if some of your team members are just authors, journalists, or economists)
  • Start watching, reading, and listening to financial news, trends, and advisories as if they affect YOU

 

Next Steps

Here’s what to start thinking about for next steps:

  • Identify your personal & specific issues that fall into these urgent financial categories
  • Make a list that summarizes all your urgent issues
  • Rank the urgent issues, using a rating system or prioritize them intuitively

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Getting Your Financial Affairs in Order – Where to Start

Posted by denisefisher on October 21, 2010

Financial Plan There is one main reason why people do not have their financial affairs in order: it’s easier NOT to do it. It’s a task that can be overwhelming because there’s no instruction book, no deadlines, and no starting point. And everyone’s situation is different.

So, right here, right now, I’m going to create a starting point, put together a customized instruction book and action plan, and establish deadlines and timeframes.

The Starting Point – Choose a Model and Built on It

I am using the Suze Orman’s Action Plan as a starting template for my project of getting my financial affairs in order. Another resource that I like is Dr. Lois Frankel’s book Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich. By using these books as guides, I can write out a list of financial categories, add more specific tasks, and put together topics that will be used in my plan of action. So my starting point is to identify what is in the plan that will make me feel that my financial affairs are in order.

Put Together a Customized First Draft List

I started by just listing everything financial that came to mind (either from reference sources, or my own experiences), focusing on things I knew I needed to include for organizing my financial affairs. Consulting the suggestions of experts will help you identify the financial issues you haven’t thought of or don’t know enough about. I used the Table of Contents from the above mentioned books as my first source for identifying financial issues to put on my list. I could skip some of the topics that didn’t apply to me, and I could add other items that came to mind as I read through the contents. I know there are lots of other resources out there with helpful guidelines, but it would be easy to get bogged down in the research behind putting together the BEST plan ever. And I don’t want to do that. This is not a one-time project, and I will revisit this plan later, as situations change, and I have the need to add financial tasks to my list. For now, I will keep things simple, and start with the basics. Here are some of the categories and various items I came up with to start:

  • Credit
  • Retirement
  • Saving
  • Spending
  • Investing
  • Real Estate
  • Additional sources of income
  • Insurance
  • Net Worth
  • List of all assets, debts, accounts, terms, beneficiaries
  • Credit reports and FICO score
  • Bill paying procedure
  • Estate Planning
  • Will
  • Revocable living trust with incapacity clause
  • Advance directive & durable power of attorney for health care
  • Updated list of beneficiaries
  • Tax planning
  • Emergency savings
  • Payback strategy
  • Purchase plan
  • Maintenance/repair/remodel/replacement plan
  • Inventory documenting all possessions
  • Insurance assessment (including Long Term Health Care)
  • Financial goals (and integration with other life goals)
  • Timely financial follow-ups
  • Eliminate recurring costs, avoiding penalties
  • Tax planning, record keeping & filing
  • Paperwork management
  • Electronic financial record keeping
  • Maximizing income
  • Not giving away time, services, or reimbursable expenses
  • Leaving money on the table
  • Borrowing/Debt policy
  • Financial review plan

Next Steps – What, Where, and When

At this point in the process, I started to run out of steam for what I needed to do next – which is to put the list into some kind of order. It took me about 3 hours to put a first draft list together and write it all down. But I also realized that there were next steps that I needed to identify before stopping for the day. I needed to identify what the next task was (organizing the list), including the “where and when” of doing that next task.

Creating a standard default “where and when” for this activity as a project that is repeated on a weekly basis is a good practice. Even when there are interferences that call for skipping a week or implementing an alternate plan, having a “Plan A” to return to provides the structure and continuity most likely to help me stick with this project for the long haul.

“Where”, was relatively easy for me to determine. I have two identified work spaces (depending on which location I’m in) where I know I do my best financial work. I don’t usually have to worry about interruptions from others, though when I have had this issue to deal with, my preferred “where” has been the local library reference room.

The “when” is trickier – things come up which can make it difficult to keep an appointment with myself (including my motivation and momentum, which is not to be overlooked). I first think of how long I will need (and how long I can stand) to work on and complete the next step. Usually two hours is the maximum tolerance level for staying focused on one task, non-stop. But I will allot three hours, because I will also need to write down what I’m doing, and I think it’s realistic for me. I’d like to connect this task with my weekly viewing of The Suze Orman Show, which is on Saturday nights at 9 pm (and which I follow with an hour of watching another financial show – Till Debt Do Us Part, which comes on immediately following Suze Orman). But I know I’m unlikely to be in the mood to work on my project at 11 pm on a Saturday night. So, I will plan to work on this task Sunday, from 11am – 2pm. In preparation for this timeframe, I will make it a point to do some pre-project planning on Wednesday at 7pm. There will be no defined length of time for this planning task – simply reviewing the information I have, and doing any additional work that I feel like doing will be the goal. To summarize, here are my next step details:

· Task: Organize the List

· When: Sunday, 11 am – 2 pm

· Where: My designated work table

· Pre-planning Review: Wednesday, 7 pm

Motivational Task: Watch The Suze Orman Show, Saturday, 9 pm; followed by Till Debt Do US Part at 10 pm.

Posted in Estate Planning, Finances, Mindful Spending, Organization | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Productivity & Wardrobe Maintenance – OR – Why Doesn’t Stephen Covey or David Allen Ever Mention Laundry?

Posted by denisefisher on May 6, 2009

Ironing Man Have you ever noticed that all the productivity experts and best-selling authors on the subject of efficiency rarely, if ever, mention such basic topics as doing laundry or preparing meals? These are tasks that everyone needs to do frequently, on a regular basis (or they at least need to have someone else do these tasks for them, which I’m guessing is the case for the aforementioned authors). But for everyone who doesn’t have a secretary, personal assistant, and housekeeper, and still wants to be productive and efficient, you need to have an effective system for wardrobe maintenance. I’m assuming that anyone who’s reading this already has some sort of system for laundering their clothes. How’s that system working for you? It might be time to make some adjustments to your routine or tweak the details to streamline the process. Things may have changed in your life or in your living situation. You may have slipped into some less-than-optimal habits by continuing a “just for now” routine that you started long ago. You may have been doing your routine long enough that you now know what you’d like to change (if only someone would assign you a maintenance redesign project). Well, consider this a call to begin a mindful reassessment of your wardrobe maintenance system. In most cases, this will be a fairly easy task that you can undertake to make your system into something that’s not filled with drudgery or chaos. Who wouldn’t want that? I have four points to consider to help improve your wardrobe maintenance system:

+  Location

+  Supplies & Equipment

+  Space

+  Routine

You need to have a designated location where things are kept and processed during the maintenance routine. Remember the saying “a place for everything and everything in its place”? Well, the first part of that phrase is probably the more difficult of the two. And if you’re going to streamline your system, you might need to rethink the default locations you’re currently using. Don’t stick with a centralized laundry hamper in the hallway that the entire family has to use if it doesn’t work for you. Don’t force yourself to cram all of your dirty clothes into one basket, if you need more space or if you need additional containers for sorting. Think of yourself as the system designer for this process and make each element of it work in a way that naturally flows for you. If there are designated spaces for what you need to do, at the location you need to do it, and the supplies and equipment you need to use, it will be easier for you to develop a streamlined routine, and you’re more likely to sail through the process without moments of indecision or settling for what you’ve got to work with.

Consider these criteria for the aforementioned points.

+ Location

for clothes awaiting cleaning or repair – this might be a place where clothes are hung, or more likely, a hamper or clothes basket; preferably, near the source of that decision
where clothes are cleaned and repaired – this refers to where the do-it-yourself tasks are done as well as the take-it-somewhere tasks – where do you polish your shoes or sew on a button? have you located a designated shoe repair place or a place where you would go for alterations?
where clothes wait to be put away – not where stacks of clothes sit for weeks after laundering, but where they wait during the cleaning, drying, pressing, hanging/folding process (the top of the dryer is only so big)
where clothes go once they’re cleaned or repaired – again, not the top of the dresser or hanging on the closet door; this location should be determined by the space allocation of your wardrobe and how you rotate your garments (most recently worn go in the back) or how you organize your clothing (such as by color or sleeve length) – the main point is to have a functional storage system and to avoid stuffing things into drawers or into the closet just to get everything put away
– where supplies for the process are kept – preferably, at the location where they are to be used, and in a location where they are easily viewed and accessed

+ Supplies & Equipment

– containers, kits, or stations where supplies are grouped and always kept – having your supplies grouped into kits will make them easier to find and use; having them stored in a container makes it easier to transport them to the precise task area where they’ll be used or to move them off a shelf when the need arises, such as for cleaning, taking inventory, or a dreaded plumbing leak
– stain treatment supplies – if you use a stain stick that can be applied days before being laundered, it may be useful to have multiple sticks and keep them at each location where dirty laundry is collected; these can also be good to have for travel
– laundry products – preferably, you can keep these to a minimum and avoid multiple opened products and almost-empty containers; if you have to take your laundry to another location to do your wash, having your products in a carrying container will make it that much easier to transport, and make you less likely to forget something
– sewing kit, buttons, etc. – everyone should be able to sew on a missing button, but you need to be able to find all the supplies you need to do this; keep buttons, needles, safety pins, several colors of thread, and a small pair of scissors in a small sealable container that you can easily find and take to a work space
– shoe polishing kit – a nice shoe polishing kit will greatly increase the likelihood that you will polish your shoes and get more life from them; this is an item that may be worth a little splurge – compared to the price of new shoes, the cost of a shoeshine kit could be a great value; make sure that you have polish colors that correspond to the shoes you own, and don’t forget to add white liquid polish to your kit if you need it for touching up your tennis shoes or summer sandals
– laundry processing equipment – this might include hampers, laundry baskets, laundry bags, drying racks, clothes hanging racks, clothes pins, ironing board & iron, hangers, or storage organizers; having the right tools for the job makes the task more pleasant

+ Space

– space for wardrobe maintenance items – not only do you need to have a designated location for collecting dirty laundry, you also need to have space for it; besides that, you may need baskets or containers for hand-washing & special treatment items, dry cleaning & repairs to be outsourced, items to donate or otherwise purge, and items needing do-it-yourself repairs (one more tip regarding laundry baskets & containers: rectangular-shaped containers are almost always better than round, or even elliptical-shaped)
– storage space for supplies & processing equipment – if you don’t have space and easy access to your cleaning & maintenance products and supplies, it’s not going to be fun; keep in mind the portability factor too, when thinking about your space and storage containers; and make it easy to put things away
– uncluttered flat surfaces – this is a tough one, because cleared flat surfaces tend to attract stuff galore, but you need such spaces for sorting, preparing, processing, pressing, folding, regrouping and reorganizing; so do your best to find some, even if it comes from a folding table
– a container for collecting pocket contents, lost buttons, etc. – you’ll probably want a container that has a sealable lid, so that you don’t end up with coins, buttons, and tokens spilled behind the washer and dryer; if you’re good, you’ll empty this collection container after each laundry event, but even if you’re not up to that level of efficiency, having a collection container can be an acceptable option and better than the alternative (setting coins and buttons on top of the washer or dryer where they inevitably will be knocked off into some place where they shouldn’t go)
– laundry sink or tub for pre-treating, soaking, hand-washing – granted, if you don’t have one of these, it’s hard to just create space for one, but you can put it on your wish list; and if you do have one, keep it clear of clutter and stocked with a scrub brush and other supplies you need to have on hand; an alternative to a sink or tub might be a plastic wash bin designated for that purpose
– space for air drying – this can be a clothesline (outside or inside), a drying rack, or a hanging device that’s used over your tub; just make sure that its accessible when you want to use it, and that it’s easily returned to its non-drying function when you’re finished (think retractable clotheslines and fold-up racks)
– space for processing cleaned clothes – this combines several previously mentioned elements, but I’m repeating it here because you need to have space (and maybe special racks) for hanging clean clothes, folding clothes, towels, & linens, sorting & stacking clean items, room to press garments that need ironing, and space to regroup and organize items that will be returned to different rooms (if you have to take your laundry out to be washed, you may need provisions for covering the clean items during transport)

+ Routine

– designate day(s) for laundry and wardrobe maintenance – laundry may be done weekly, but you can also integrate clothing repairs, shoe polishing, and other clothing maintenance tasks on this designated day; handling dry cleaning and other outsourced types of tasks can be relegated to days when you run errands
– frequency of laundering/cleaning – reassess how frequently you launder or dry clean your clothes – not how many times a week you do laundry, but how many hours you actually wear a garment before laundering it; if you put on an outfit at the end of the day to go out for the evening (and aren’t working up a sweat by dancing), perhaps you can wear it another time before washing it; be aware that over-washing and excessive dry cleaning can significantly shorten the wearability of a garment, not to mention the extra labor and resources it takes to do that extra cleaning
– share the labor – this point is especially directed at women, who typically take on the job of family launderer by default (and probably includes the wives of Stephen Covey and David Allen); don’t be a martyr and don’t encourage helplessness and dependency by taking on the entire household’s wardrobe maintenance; teach self-reliance by instructing children to maintain their own clothing. Release your care-giver instincts, lower your standards, and let them do it themselves! Household members should have individual responsibility for their own wardrobe items and bed clothes, and should share or rotate tasks for “community” laundry tasks (such as towels and linens).
– consider all-hands activities – engage the entire household for such things as hanger-gathering, quick & easy closet purges, donation gathering, shoe polishing night, curtain laundering, bed linen washing, and seasonal clothing transfers
– plan for complete follow-through of the process on laundry days – avoid musty or mildewy clothes forgotten in the washer, wrinkled clothes left in the dryer, and missing or disorganized clothing items that can’t be found because they were not put away; don’t start the process unless you know you’ll be able to follow it through to completion
– integrate a compatible activity with your laundry processing – make your laundry day more productive by integrating individual or family activities that can be done between the steps in the process; listed here are some examples of such activities:

  • exercise, walk, ride a bike, do yoga or a workout routine between loads
  • make it a cooking/baking day or prepare salad/vegetables for the week
  • read a book, magazine, or browse through a cookbook
  • listen to podcasts or audio books (or my favorite, This American Life)
  • dust bedroom furniture, baseboards, light fixtures, and clean mirrors, floors, door frames, and light switches
  • straighten up the closet, dresser drawers, night stands, and linen closet in preparation for clean laundry
  • write up plans for the week, update your calendar or address book, write e-mail messages or replies, write a few pages for your book/screenplay/business plan/blog
  • plan your menu for the week and write up a grocery list

– schedule an after-laundry activity – create a sense of urgency to get the task done, and provide something to look forward to (preferably, something that doesn’t involve everyone needing to shower first [you know, the hot water issue after laundering]; and maybe you should pass up an activity that involves spending or an eating-out activity – it would be good to get out of the habit of using these activities as a reward, for obvious reasons); listed below are some suggested alternatives:

  • go visit some friends or family (hello grandma!)
  • go to the park, pool, or playground; play tennis, kickball, ping-pong, or volleyball
  • set up a backyard game of croquet or badminton and have a cookout
  • go for a drive – just exploring or revisiting old neighborhoods or new sites
  • have dinner at home (maybe with food from the cooking/baking you did), then play a board game or do a family project or activity together

Bonus: Money-saving Aspect of Maintenance

Taking care of your wardrobe items is inherently a money-saving venture, but if you can make some adjustments in your maintenance system, you can save even more.

Save money by extending the life of your clothing. Extend the life of your clothing by
– making repairs & alterations needed to keep the garment functional
– reducing the frequency of laundering or dry cleaning
– reducing the wash and rinse temperatures
– eliminating or reducing the frequency of using heated drying
– reducing the amount of laundry detergent and fabric softeners used
– using a front-loading washer rather than a top-loading model, if you have the choice

Save money by eliminating or reducing the use of laundry products:
– fabric softeners, dryer sheets, anti-static products, and spray starch are products that are best used sparingly, if at all
– beside the cost of these products, fabric treatments affect the surfaces by making them slightly resistant to water, slightly glossy, and more difficult to clean (because of being impervious to water) if used routinely over an extended period of time
– be aware of the quantity of detergent you use, and adjust it for the amount of soil on the clothing and to minimize the soapiness that needs to be rinsed; many laundry detergents are now more concentrated, and suggested usage amounts tend to err on the side of using too much (which, from a marketing standpoint, will require you to buy more product more frequently); and don’t forget, the detergent and laundry products you use ultimately end up in the water supply system for treatment and redistribution, so be mindful and frugal with your usage – try reducing the amount you use until you find the minimal amount needed to do the job

Save big money by being selective about your home laundering methods:
– Remember that any kind of heat-generating equipment or appliances (stoves, ovens, toasters, water heaters, irons, clothes dryers, space heaters, furnaces, electric blankets, hair appliances, etc.) use more energy than almost any other type of energy usage in your house (way more than lighting or electronic devices), so any reduction you can make in your use of heat-generating appliances will result in significant savings
– Save $85-$150 per year in energy by air drying your clothes instead of using a gas or electric dryer
– Save $11-$226* per year in energy by reducing the use of heated water for washing and rinsing

And if you have the option, or are close to replacement of your appliances, keep these potential savings in mind:
– Save $28-$137* per year in water, detergent, and energy by using a front loading washer instead a top loading washer
– Save $12-$30* per year in energy with gas dryer instead of electric

*The figures I’ve cited are ranges derived from outstanding detailed information provided at Michael Bluejay’s site, Saving Electricity, which compares various factors of water and energy usage in the laundry process; it also compares other appliances and energy usage issues. If you appreciate excellent research and want to know specific information about appliances, energy usage costs, and efficiency, I would highly recommend his site. Take that, Stephen Covey and David Allen!)

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Suze Orman’s Expense Sheet

Posted by denisefisher on March 16, 2009

imageThe thing I like about Suze Orman is that she’s practical. Unlike other financial experts who write, blog, or have their own shows, she doesn’t sandwich her advice between disclaimers or discussions that end in the phrase “consult with your financial advisor” (as if having a personal financial advisor were as common as having a family physician). Suze doesn’t talk in vague terms or in general concepts. She tells people exactly what to do, straight out, and provides step-by-step pragmatic advice. It’s specific, understandable, and realistic. And it’s delivered with confidence, competency, and in a way that makes it seem like an obvious, common-sense plan.

Recently, Suze added this expense sheet tool to her website:

http://www.suzeorman.com/2009actionplan/expensesheet/index.html

Use this survey to see the big picture of where your money is going. This is the best pre-formatted expense tool that I’ve seen. It covers a broader list of expense categories than most others, and gives you a view of how your expenses compare with national averages (using numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics). Take the national averages and the side comments with a grain of salt. When I used this tool, I found some comments or suggestions that didn’t quite make sense to me. Keep in mind, this is an automated tool, so there may be some quirky kinks involved. You don’t need a disclaimer to tell you this, do you?

One thing that you may notice, at the end of this exercise, is that your estimate of where your money goes does not equate to the amount of money that comes in. This is a good thing for you to know. It means you are not fully aware of how you’re handling your money. But you can figure out for yourself how to fix this problem. There are plenty of resources for tracking your spending. The key is finding or creating a system that’s best for you. The one that works best is the one that you use.

If you don’t know where to start, try an internet search for various phrases such as expense sheet, track spending, or the like. I’ll also include this link to Wise Bread’s post from early 2009, which lists the Top 100+ Personal Finance Blogs.

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