Creating a Realistic Budget: NerdWallet’s Tips

Most people think that they can save money just by being careful. However, as you probably know from experience, it’s pretty easy to get distracted and purchase things you don’t need. That’s why it’s so important to keep tabs on your monthly expenses by creating a budget. Contrary to popular belief, budgets aren’t meant to be stifling. Instead, think of your budget as a tool to help you buy the things you want and need the most, and avoid debt. Here are some simple strategies to get you started.

Discover your monthly budget
Before you create your budget, you’ll need to sit down and determine how much money you have to work with each month. Start by making a list of your income sources. Leave no stone unturned: include your paycheck, your government benefits and money from your parents; it all counts! Once you find out the exact monthly amount (or make a conservative estimate) from each source, add them up for your monthly total. Don’t factor in any money you don’t have access to right now. Future paychecks don’t count!

Track your spending habits
Once you know how much you can spend, you’ll need to take a realistic look at how much you are spending. Do this before you prioritize. Review your credit card bills and checking account statements to see how much you’re spending on rent, food, gas, bills, mocha lattes, and everything else. You’ll probably discover that you make lots of little purchases all the time, without giving it much thought. That’s perfectly normal, and it’s good to be mindful.

Know your priorities
If the amount of money you have is lower than the amount of money you’re spending each month, it’s definitely time to cut back. Bills and living expenses come first, everything else is secondary. You need to pay your rent, but you don’t have to go to the movies. Don’t worry; we’re not expecting you to stay home every night. Devote part of your budget to entertainment expenses. That way, you’ll only spend money seeing the movies you really want to see, instead of throwing down $20 just because you’re “bored”.

Leave some wiggle room
Life happens! You might just break down and buy a cool shirt you don’t need, or you might be slapped with a big car repair bill. Frivolous or not, be sure to make those surprise purchases easy on yourself. Set aside a portion of your budget for “miscellaneous expenses”. If you don’t end up spending that extra money (and hopefully you won’t), put it in your savings account. The next time you find yourself with a big surprise on your bill, you’ll be prepared. Just make sure you don’t abuse the privilege. You’re trying to save money, not spend it.

Cash is king
Cash is your best friend if budgeting is tough for you. Try breaking up your monthly budget into weekly segments and withdrawing the exact amount of cash you need to make your purchases. A large part of spending is psychological, and you can use that in your favor. When you’re physically exchanging money for goods, you’re more inclined to feel the impact of spending money, so you’ll think about it longer. It also takes much more time to pay with a $20 bill than it does to swipe a card. A credit card or a debit card is definitely more convenient, but they’re not going to be cost effective until you’re certain of your ability to pay off your bill in full each month.

Use budgeting software
Don’t consider yourself a math whiz? That’s no excuse! Free budgeting software can help you list your expenses, and even make calculations for you. DS Budget and Budget Pulse are two fabulous examples. If you have a Kasasa account with Seasons Federal Credit Union, take advantage of Kasasa’s free online budgeting program, Kasasa 360. You can also download a premade budgeting spreadsheet for Google Docs or Excel.

Laura Edgar is a senior writer for NerdWallet.com, a personal finance website dedicated to helping people make smart money decisions.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Seasons Federal Credit Union.

Earn Big and Bank Local with NerdWallet’s Top 10 Kasasa Partners

Earn Big and Bank Local with NerdWallet’s Top 10 Kasasa Partners.

Check out Laura’s blog she wrote about Kasasa Cash and Kasasa Saver. This is really why Kasasa is the way to go these days.

-Dillon

We’re getting Kasasafied

Yesterday we don’t even know what happened… We got to work and “Boom” the Kia was Kasasafied. I think it’s the magic of the checking account.

Every employee cannot wait to drive around in the Soul of Seasons vehicle. Look for us on the streets. If you see us driving around wave at us, cheer for us, even honk your horn at us (but in a nice way and not telling us to get out of the way). We want to cruise down the road with our red stereo speakers lighting up, music bumping, and the wind in our hair… just waiting for those heads to turn and be like “Whoa did you see that car… I don’t know what Kasasa is, but I need to get it!”…. That’s just the power Kasasa has over people.

 

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Feel the POWER of your finances

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Do you believe in magic?

Not that silly magicianmagic, I mean that magic that comes from a free checking account that actually gives you cash back and then actually helps you save. Every month you use your debit card, that cash goes straight into your high interest saver account.

So every time you buy that gallon of milk… BAM!

That movie… POW!

Long get away vacation – BOOM!

All that cash means – Shazaaaam! You’re saving!

Plus no minimum balance to get the cash and with nationwide ATM fee refunds, back in – Waaaaam!

Cash that goes “VOOM!” right into your saver account.

Now do you believe in magic? 

I Kasasa, do you? Why wouldn’t you Kasasa? I’ve never heard of anything that even comes close to this. I opened up a Kasasa account and right there I felt it. I felt the magic running through my body down to my fingertips. I knew I was taking control of my finances. I want the rewards and I’m going to swipe my debit card anyways, so why not get free stuff from doing it.  The best part, it costs nothing to open it. Words of advice: open up a Kasasa account. It’s the only way to bank!

 -Dillon

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Dillon Tardif is the new Marketing Specialist at Seasons Federal Credit Union

Take Advantage of Deal During Tax Free Week

Are you tired of paying a 6.35% premium on your purchases? Do you wish you can take a break from paying sales taxes?

Don’t go all the way to Delaware to enjoy no sales tax. Take advantage of Connecticut’s tax free week August 21st-27th! What makes this tax free week so much more important than in the past is that Connecticut no longer offers tax exemptions to clothing less than $50. However, thanks to the state legislature, this week long sales tax exemption survived budget cuts that were proposed by Governor Malloy. Buy some clothes for your children, and treat yourself too, during the back-to-school season. The week long tax free holiday applies to individual item purchases of clothing and shoes less than $300.00. This means that as long as EACH item of clothing or shoes is $299.99 or less (that’s right. Each item), no taxes are owed to the state. Better yet, if you compare prices at stores, take advantage of sales, coupons, and reward cards, your savings can multiply.

Happy Shopping,

Quian

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Quian Callender is a senior at Middletown High School and a Member Experience Rep/Operations Assistant at Seasons Federal Credit Union. He plans to attend college next fall to obtain a degree in Health Care Management.

It’s Cool to Shred

Ok so we’re not talking about on a guitar or skateboard, but with paper! Today identity theft is becoming more common and dangerous; however it is a crime that is easily preventable. Document shredders and shredding services are highly available to all businesses and individuals. Before throwing anything away always check to see if any confidential information is present, and if it is be sure to shred the document instead.

So what should you shred?

According to Secure Document Destruction, all of the following items should be shredded:

  • Account Records or Ledgers
  • ATM Receipts
  • Bank Statements
  • Bids, Estimates and Quotations
  • Birth Certificates and Other Copies of Vital Records
  • Business Plans
  • Cancelled or Voided Checks
  • Contracts
  • Client List and Files
  • Credit Card bills
  • Credit Reports
  • Customer Lists
  • Executive Correspondence
  • Expense Reports
  • Financial Records
  • ID Cards and Badges
  • Items with Names, Addresses, Phone Numbers and/or Email Addresses
  • Market Research
  • Maps or Blueprints
  • Marketing Plans
  • Minutes from Meetings
  • New Product Information
  • Patient Records
  • Personnel Records
  • Payroll Records
  • Presentations
  • Proposals and Quotes
  • Obsolete Brochures/Stationary/Files
  • R&D Files/Data
  • Receipts and Invoices
  • Strategic Planning Reports
  • Tax Records

Just a quick check of what you throw out could make your identity much safer! If you’re not sure, shred it anyway!

Why should I shred?

The first and more important reason to shred is to prevent identity theft. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, as many as 10 million Americans fall victim to some sort if identity theft each year.

A second important reason to shred is to protect the environment. When documents are shredded with the Shred-It truck, they are recycled.  According to the California Energy Commission, every four feet of paper recycled saves one tree.

Protect yourself from identity theft and help save the planet by stopping by Seasons’ Shred-It Day on Saturday June 26th from 9am-12pm at 635D South Main Street. The community is invited to bring up to 10 boxes of items to be shredded. An eco friendly kid’s craft and refreshments will be provided. Hope to see you there!

We’re back!

Hi everyone, sorry for the temporary blog delay but the awesome Seasons Marketing Team is back for the summer! We have some new faces and new plans! Be sure to look out for the Seasons-mobile driving around the Middletown area (possibly giving out free money!) Also be sure to find us on Twitter, release date TBA, but I promise it will be super cool. We’re also looking for guest blog posters, so if you’re young or old and have some great money saving ideas send us your post and you can be an honorary member of the Seasons Marketing Team. Finally, check out the Seasons Facebook, we’ve updated that too. More updates to come later on so keep a look out!

-SMT


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