How to Make a Better Budget

Budgeting Together

Having a budget is essential in order to better manage your money and reach your financial goals, such as paying off debt or saving to buy a home. A budget can help you set spending limits and feel more in control of your money. So, we’ll be going over how to create your own personal budget.

Budgeting First Step: Track Your Income and Expenses

The first step of budgeting is finding out your net monthly income. To calculate how much money you will be taking home, you will need to deduct taxes, insurance costs, and business expenses from your monthly salary. This will leave you with an exact amount that you will be receiving at the end of each month, known as your net monthly income.

No matter how much you earn, it is still possible to end up with no money if you don’t know how to spend it properly. So, the next step is the figure out how to allocate that amount by tracking your expenses and seeing exactly where your money is going. Start by dividing your expenses into two categories, fixed and variable expenses. Fixed expenses are recurring monthly payments such as rent and phone bills which typically remain the same each month. Variable expenses tend to vary based on consumption, such as groceries, gas, entertainment, and eating out.

Step 2: Find Savings in Your Budget (Yes, You Can)

To determine areas where you can save more money, review some of your credit card and bank statements from the past few months. If your net income is greater than your total expenses, then you can start putting aside the extra money for your retirement or emergency fund. However, if your expenses exceed your net income, then you must look for ways to cut down on expenses as soon as possible. This involves going over your variable expenses and identifying unnecessary expenses such as subscriptions that you no longer need or eating out too often. Variable expenses are typically easier to cut down on in order to stick to a strict budget., but you may even need to look to adjust your fixed expenses in case you are still going over your budget.

Step 3: Make Plans for Savings and Paying Down Debt

While budgeting differs depending on each person’s situation, the 50/30/20 budget is a popular choice that works in most circumstances. Under this strategy, your net income will be split 50% for needs, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings or paying off debt. It is absolutely critical that you commit to paying down debt and then setting aside savings. The entire point of budgeting is to help you generate “future-forward” momentum in your financial life. The only way to do that is to free yourself from debt that may be choking your ability to save for the future. The next step? Save for the future.

This is why budgeting is key. Looking at the reality of the numbers that shape your life allows you to get clear about what is happening in your financial life. Think about it this way: what are your big life goals? Retiring? Traveling? Being financially secure and independent? You can’t do any of those things if you find yourself having to shovel part of your money each month into a credit-card debt hole. So make a plan to get out of that hole, today. (Consider debt consolidation loans as an easy option: you can pay off all your cards and pay a single monthly bill that charges you less interest than your cards.)

Budgeting Is Never Actually “Done” — And That’s Good

Also, your initial budget isn’t set in stone, and it must be adjusted regularly as your financial situation changes. When you get out of debt, you revise your budget to set aside an emergency fund. When the emergency fund is complete — 3 to 6 months’ living expenses — then you can start saving for the good stuff: retirement, investing, more. Keep making plans and keep revising your budget — and build yourself the stable financial future you deserve.

White Mountain Partners and Debt Consolidation

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Credit cards are a part of daily life: we use them as an easy way to buy groceries, gas, and other regular household items, and plan to pay the bill in full every month. But life happens: a medical emergency, a car breaks down, you need a new air conditioner, one thing after another. And suddenly you don’t want to even open your credit card bills. Now you’re wondering: just how much debt is too much? And maybe you are reading Clay Advisors reviews to decide if they can help you. Let’s start with the first question:

How Much Credit Card Debt Is Too Much?

There are a few simple rules of thumb that let you know if you are carrying too much credit card debt. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you paying only minimum payments on your credit cards each month?
  • Do you find yourself always worrying a little bit about the debt you have?
  • Is your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio greater than 35% — meaning the percentage of your income that goes to paying existing debts is higher than 35%? To figure out your DTI ratio, take the $$ you spend monthly paying debts, and divide by your monthly gross income (before taxes and benefits, etc.).
  • Do you pay some of your bills late or skip payments because you don’t have enough money to pay them?
  • Is your credit utilization over 30%. Credit utilization refers to the percentage of your available credit you are using, so if you have $10,000 credit, and are carrying balances of $3,000, you are using 30% of your credit.
  • More than half of the credit cards you own are maxed out.
  • You don’t know how much you owe in total.

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, then now is the time for you to make an actionable plan to reduce your burdensome credit card debt. Find your way back to the freedom of a debt-free life.

Make a Plan to Become Debt-Free with Clay Advisors

Feel like you have no idea where to even start with getting a handle on your credit card debt? Then it is a good time to reach out for some kind, patient expert advice from people who know credit card debt and how to get out from under it: the financial consultants at Clay Advisors. They can talk to you about debt consolidation and explain how rolling all your debts into a single payment can make it easier to attack your problem.

Can I Trust White Mountain Partners?

If you have been to the White Mountain Partners website, maybe you have read the reviews of customers who were in circumstances a bit like yours. White Mountain Partners reviews are helpful, but sometimes other people’s words aren’t enough. Here’s a different perspective: let’s talk about what exactly White Mountain Partners will do for you and decide if those are services that would help you.

  • Assess Your Financial Situation. White Mountain Partners can help you assess your situation by walking you through whether you are carrying “too much debt.” A typical evaluation will assess your debt-to-income ratio and your total monthly payments for the debt you are carrying. After evaluating your debt, they can offer real solutions to put you on the path to financial freedom. 
  • Explain How Debt Consolidation Works. White Mountain Partners is one of the best debt consolidation companies out there. A financial consultant can explain to you in one simple call how consolidating debt balances into a single payment can help put you on the road to paying off your obligations in full.
  • Make the Call With No Risk to Your Credit Score. Speaking to an advisor at White Mountain does not impact your credit score, so the call is a free, no-risk step you can take to try to get control of your financial life.

What Is Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation means rolling all your collective debt balances into a single debt — usually a loan, but sometimes a debt settlement program — so that you are paying a single bill instead of many bills. Taking out a debt consolidation loan won’t reduce your overall balance right away, but sometimes it’s possible to make that single monthly payment less than what you are laying out right now, so you can get a little breathing room. 

What Are Pros and Cons of Debt Consolidation? 

Whether a debt consolidation loan is for you depends on your specific financial and personal circumstances. That’s why it’s important to talk to a consultant who can help you understand your position. Here are the general pros and cons of a debt consolidation loan. The consultants at White Mountain Partners are at the ready to talk to you and learn more about what you need. 

Pros

  • You can reduce multiple payments down to a single payment
  • You can potentially lower your interest rate
  • Clear a path to debt reduction and elimination
  • Can help improve your credit score after a time

Cons

  • You may not qualify for the lowest rates 
  • Extended loan terms may cost more in the long run
  • There are sometimes origination fees for the loan

How Can White Mountain Partners Help Me?

Carrying a significant amount of debt is the number-one financial problem any household needs to address. Having too much debt makes it difficult to borrow money, penalizes you with high interest rates and erodes your credit.

And so making a clear plan to resolve your debt is a the key first step to financial freedom. And will remove a serious blockade to potential future wealth. Learn more about debt consolidation and if it’s right for you, by filling out the White Mountain Partners application to see how they can help you today.

How I Plan To Get My Credit Card Debt Under Control By Summer 2021

Brice Capital logo

I never considered myself the most financially stable person, but things were a bit more manageable before the pandemic began. I had a job that covered the bills, a little money set aside in savings, and a system for keeping my debts under control. I even had some extra cash to splurge on things like vacations, fashion, and entertainment. Then March 2020 came, and everything changed. 

The world came to a halt, and my finances went out the window. I was furloughed and had to rely on a reduced income to cover my expenses. Within a few weeks, I had completely emptied my emergency fund. I had no choice but to start relying on credit cards to survive. I’d charge everything from the groceries to the utilities believing I would get things back on track once things calmed down. 

Health Crisis Turned Financial Nightmare

Although I was fortunate to return to work in December, I quickly realized the damage was already done. I fell behind in just about every bill you could imagine. I had no nest egg for unexpected expenses. Not to mention, I had wracked up so much credit card debt that creditors were calling me multiple times a day. Feeling overwhelmed with stress, I realized I had to do something to get things back on track. 

Summertime Goals

I did some research to learn more about my options and found a few that I’m optimistic will help me reach my financial goals. I believe that if I stick to this plan, I’ll have my debt under control by the summertime. If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, perhaps these tips will help  you too. 

Facing The Music

The first thing I decided to do was face the music with creditors. Continuing to duck and dodge their phone calls and notices would only make matters worse. I learned that if you simply reach out and explain your situation, many of them are willing to work with you. So, I found some time to contact each of my credit card companies to let them know why I had such high balances and few payments. The representatives understood and removed late fees to reduce the amount I owed. 

Debt Consolidation

Although I had managed to get late fees removed from my credit card accounts, the balances and interest rates were still too high. The minimum payment would barely cover the accumulated interest, which meant I’d be paying off credit cards for years to come. So, I decided to consider debt consolidation. I found a site called BriceCapital.com, where I completed a short form. A representative contacted me to discuss my credit card debt to determine if I was eligible for a consolidation loan. It wasn’t long before Brice Capital stated they could help me. I was approved for a loan that would allow me to lump all my credit card balances into one loan. Since the debt consolidation loan had lower interest rates, it would save me a ton of money in the long run. 

Responsible Borrowing

Brice Capital gave me a second chance at getting my finances back on track. They took on those high-interest high-balance credit card payments. It stopped the collection calls, eliminated the late fees, reduced interest rates, and enabled me to free up cash that could be used for other areas of my life. If I was going to reach my goal and get my credit card debt under control by summer 2021, I had to be a responsible borrower. 

I set reminders on my phone to notify me when loan payments were due. Any extra money I received from income taxes, stimulus checks, or overtime in the office, I applied to the Brice Capital debt consolidation loan to get the balance down faster. If I continue this pattern, it will begin to reflect in my credit, and I’ll be on my way to becoming debt-free. 

Who wasn’t financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? Although things are still difficult, things are once again starting to shift. The only way to be prepared for what lies ahead is to hunker down and get your finances back in order. By negotiating with creditors and working with Brice Capital to consolidate my debt, I have no doubt that summer 2021 will look a lot brighter. 

How to Market Your Business While Maintaining Your Budget

Marketing a business

Marketing your business can be difficult to say the least. With 2020 posing challenges for many small businesses, it may be time to consider ways to market to a wider audience while also saving money. From business closures due to the pandemic to paying your employees, it may seem like you can never catch a break.Thankfully, due to the digital era, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of the internet to market your business successfully. 

Need some great ideas to help you make marketing a priority? We’re here to give you a list of inspiration!

1. Social Media

With Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn becoming popular social media platforms, it is an excellent move to make a business account on these platforms. There are also exclusive features for businesses on these sites. Start by building an audience and following other local businesses or loyal customers you are in touch with. You can potentially partner with other businesses and ask them for a shoutout or to tag you on a post. 

After you’ve built an audience you can work to keep them engaged by creating fun content. For instance, Instagram has a story feature where you can post for 24 hours until it expires. Stories appear at the top of a users page– meaning they are more likely to see it over a post. On the other hand, LinkedIn is great for networking and making business connections. If you are able to manage your time correctly, you can use as many social media sites as you’d like for free.

2. Google My Business 

Google My Business (GMB) offers small businesses a free account– essentially Google wants your business to succeed and be able to compete with larger businesses. When you create a GMB account, you have access to enter all the necessary information your business needs like the address, phone number, and name. You can connect with customers through Google search or maps and create a great first impression. With Google being the largest search engine in the world, creating a business page will most definitely get your name out there in your local area. 

Make sure to fill out all the necessary information on Google My Business. Additionally, optimize your business page by using keywords you want your business to show up for. For example, if you are a yoga studio you may want to include “hot yoga” “yoga membership” or “ vinyasa yoga”. That way, when users are searching for any of these terms, your business listing will show up!

3.  Create a Blog 

Blogs are great opportunities to extend your digital marketing strategy by implementing keywords and building your SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization and with more keywords, you could rank higher amongst other businesses. A blog is a great way to build your SEO and get more potential customers to visit your website– meaning more future sales.

4.  Build Reviews 

Reviews are a driving force behind consumer decisions. A positive online reputation is so important these days. Yet, with so many review sites out there, it can be difficult to keep up. Most review sites offer free business profiles. Everyone has heard of Yelp reviews; they seem to run supreme as one of the biggest review platforms in the US. Yelp cannot be overlooked as the company made over $900 million in revenue in 2019 alone. Additionally, sites like Google and Facebook also offer customers to write reviews for your business– meaning you will reach a wider audience. 

5. Create Ads

Once you feel you’ve built an audience on social media and the internet, you can begin making ads. There are many different types of ads that are available to your business. Facebook and Google are your best bets to target the customers you truly want. The best part is you can put a small amount of money towards your ad spending in order to experiment with what works and what doesn’t.  

If you’re feeling intimidated or confused by ads you can hire a digital marketing agency to help you get started. For instance, if you are a law firm that handles DUIs, you can invest in DUI lawyer marketing to get the ball rolling. You can also work with someone to get a low rate!

6. Offer discounts and create great customer service

Lastly, customers love discounts, so try to offer an incentive to get them to start business with you. Anything that gets customers talking about your business and the great deals they’re getting! Additionally, once a customer decides to do business with you, ensure that they are pleased with their service. There is nothing worse than having a first-time customer leave a bad review on something that could have easily been avoided. 

Save Money with These 10 Subscription Services

A collection of makeup brushes and powders.
Save money on makeup with a subscription like Ipsy.

Subscription boxes are popular today, and it is easy to see why. Everyone loves getting mail, especially packages. Like Julie Andrews sang, “Brown paper packages tied up with string,” have sweet suspense, like a gift on Christmas morning, and they are one of our favorite things.

Subscriptions are great for several reasons. First, they can actually save you money. By paying a flat rate each month, you can save money on products you already buy or would like to try. Secondly, they are like giving yourself a treat. Thirdly, they are a delightful gift idea, and truly a gift that keeps on giving. 

Here are ten fun AND useful subscription ideas you might not have known about:

#1 Clothing

The options here are endless. There are boxes for men, women, children, and babies. Is it more T-shirts you need? Socks you are always losing? Maybe a fresh monthly pair of undies, or some new activewear? How about some trendy pajamas? There is a subscription box for you! There are also companies that send you complete outfits based on your style choices. 

#2: Produce and meat

Do you want to eat healthier, but find it expensive? A subscription to Imperfect Produce or Misfits Market could be the key. They will send you a package of fresh fruit and veggies that are discounted because they could not be accepted by a grocery store because of a misshape. This not only saves you money, but it also causes less food waste. 

Carnivore Club and ButcherBox are two meat boxes you can subscribe to that send you specialty cuts of the meats of your choice. 

#3: Coffee and tea 

With a good coffee subscription, you can get your morning started right. Some companies offer coffee from around the world. Trade Coffee Co. has the best french press coffee, and they totally customize your coffee experience by allowing you to choose what types you enjoy, the grind setting, and how often you receive it. 

For those who would rather a cup of tea, Sips By is a good choice. They have so much variety that it is a tea discovery box. They let you set preferences for flavors and types with their quiz, which you can retake as often as you want. 

#4: Makeup

Ipsy is an inexpensive subscription that sends you five beauty supplies each month. This way, you get to try new products, other companies, and different shades and colors without breaking the bank to be your most beautiful you. 

#5: Period supplies

Monthly and Co., Period Packs, and Tampon Tribe all offer period supplies like tampons, pads, feminine wipes, and other self-care necessities for those days. With a monthly subscription, you will never be caught without period supplies when you need them. 

#6: Cleaning supplies

Clean & Green supply you with laundry care that is fresh and natural. The Honest Company can send you personal products like shampoo and hand soap, but they also have a cleaning line of cleaners for every area of your home. 

#7: Contact lenses

Hubble Contacts and SightBox have subscriptions for contact lenses, so you never run out. 

#8: Books

A book box subscription is a great gift idea for kids, and there are many choices available. Or, if you are a reader yourself, try an adult book subscription. The Hygge Book Club sends books AND other fun trinkets, like fuzzy socks, notebooks, and tea. 

#9: Cheese and Wine

The Gold Medal Wine Club is a fancy wine subscription that offers only gold-medal awarded wines. While you are at it, pair your wine subscription with a good cheese from Curdbox so you can enjoy the full experience. 

#10: Crafting

Adults and Craft Crate will focus on a different type of craft and send you a starter kit with the tools and instructions each month. 

Whatever you enjoy, whether it be snacks, healthy eating, fitness, jewelry, or your pets, there is a subscription box that you would enjoy. Have fun treating yourself.

How One Man Conquered a $50K Debt in 5 Years

A case full of money

For most of my adult life, money was a topic I never discussed. When I would go out and socialize with friends, I was the person who would pull out their credit card and cover the bill. When I would travel to a location and see something that caught my eye, I’d whip out that plastic card faster than you could say ‘booyah!’

But as the years mounted and I became wiser, the bills started rolling in. There were even months where I couldn’t pay the minimum on my cards and this, ultimately, crushed my credit score. 

Then, one day, I hesitantly sat down with a financial advisor to see the damage I had caused myself after decades of undisciplined spending; I was over $50,000 in debt! To say that I was embarrassed by my behavior would be an understatement. Although this may sound like a recipe for disaster, I can safely say that I am currently debt-free and living life on my terms. If you’re interested in how I did it, you’ll want to keep reading.

Initial Momentum

Although debt is one of the most black-and-white topics you could ever discuss, paying it off is a game of managing your emotions and internal monologue. Often, when we get our paycheck deposited into our bank account, our initial inclination is to hit the mall, buy some clothes or look at holiday deals for new cars. 

The area I struggled with the most when lowering debt was allocating resources to an account that I would use to target my issues. If you want to pay your debt off as I did, start by visiting your bank or credit union’s website and opening a secondary account. It helps if you can find banks with no overdraft fees.

From here, I set up my pay so that a portion of every check I received was placed into that account. Then, I used auto-pay services so that each bill was paid, in full, at the same time each month. When money was out of my sight, and it wasn’t easily accessible, my mind adjusted to living below my means. Over the years, this paid off big time!

The Avalanche Method

For me, the avalanche method was a lifesaver. Without going into the technical details behind the method, financial experts found the most effective means of paying off debt was by targeting areas with the highest interest rates first.

Once you target the high-interest debt, you set up your accounts on the other debt to make the minimum monthly payments. With the remainder, you tackle the area with the highest rate. Although the total debt amount of that area may not be the highest, it saves tons of cash that can be applied to other debt areas.

Motivation

Humans are creatures of habit and need incentives to keep moving forward through difficult times. Knowing this, I began rewarding myself when I would make a payment on my debt.

I spent my weekends and spare time researching podcasts and videos about families that had finally pulled themselves from debt. In combination with that, I hung up motivational posters and quotes around my home that dealt with wealth creation. And on special occasions, I would treat myself to a cheap reward such as a movie or a discount t-shirt from a store. These purchases were made with cash and never tapped into my financial plans.

Although you and I are different in many ways, we both need to stoke the motivational fires from time to time. Realize that a debt-free life is possible by getting creative with your motivation!

Final Words of Advice

Once you successfully pay off your debt, breathe a sigh of relief and pat yourself on the back. Many people never put in consistent effort to work towards a better life, not only for themselves but for their family and loved ones. 

It’s crucial that you remember the behavior that got you into this predicament in the first place. While you may have new lines of credit open up to you, avoiding the vicious cycle of debt is the key to financial success and wealth creation. Do what I did: start small, plan for the future, and maintain consistency. If you use the tools and tactics I implemented to get out of debt in 5 years, you can’t go wrong!

9 Business Ideas for Entrepreneurs

Startup company office

The surge in startup companies has been one of the most important trends of the past decade. Entrepreneurs with solid plans and a determination to succeed have managed to launch successful businesses in all sorts of fields. Society is changing fast, and people have new needs, challenges, and desires that didn’t exist a few years ago. If you’re an entrepreneur eager to strike out on your own and start a new company, the current climate is certainly favorable. Here are nine business ideas to consider. 

#1: Graphic Design

As more of our interactions (both business-related and social) go virtual, people are going to need graphic designers to help them create professional-looking and easy-to-use content. Learning a little about this trade will put you in a position to start your own business and take advantage of a booming industry.

#2: Web Design

From small business owners to individual contractors, everybody needs a website in today’s day and age. Many people know they need an online presence, but they have no idea how to create their own content. That’s why they count on web designers. Once you learn the basics of web design, you can market your services to the countless people who need a website but lack the technical know-how to create one. 

#3: Manufacturing

Americans love stuff, and that’s not going to change any time soon. In order to manufacture and sell the products beloved around the country, consider setting up an operation in Mexico. Moving south of the border allows you to cut costs while working with a neighbor keeps operations close enough to home to avoid logistical headaches. The Mexican workforce is skilled in a number of areas, and shipments almost always arrive on time. And now with companies like NAPS International, you can have someone with experience to help with logistics, payroll and benefits management, and scaling–all under the umbrella of Mexico shelter companies.

#4: Tutoring

Knowledge is key in the modern economy, so millions of Americans are eager to further their education and add to their resumes. You can take advantage of this trend by creating a tutoring business. From immigrants looking to perfect their English to laid-off workers hoping to build new skill sets, there are countless people out there eager to learn. Offer to tutor people in subjects you’re strong in, and you’ll likely find the clients piling up faster than you can deal with them. 

#5: Photography

In the social media era, photography has become even more important than it was before. People want to document all of life’s major events, from weddings and baby showers to a child’s first day at school. If you’re at all handy with a camera, consider sharpening your skills and starting your own photography business. You’re bound to find clients quickly since photographers are in such high demand. 

#6: Translations

Every day the world seems to become smaller. Globalization is a constant force, and it requires us to engage across cultures and language barriers on a regular basis. If you’re bilingual, then you can take advantage of your unique set of skills to serve as a translator. Any global business needs people like you to carry out its daily operations. 

#7: Digital Marketing

More marketing takes place online than ever before, and making the most of digital platforms is key to advertising success. Lots of business owners know this, but lack the tech literacy to forge their own digital marketing plan. If you learn the ins and outs of the best practices, you can charge clients to do their marketing for them.

#8: An Organic Restaurant

Every year, more Americans opt to eat a healthier diet and leave artificial additives behind. You can take advantage of this new level of health consciousness by opening a restaurant that specializes in organic food. People will enjoy meals that are delicious, healthy, and safe, while you can feel good about doing your part to make the world a better, healthier place. 

#9: Fitness Instruction

Millions of Americans enjoy working out but lack the knowledge and motivation to exercise by themselves. They count on fitness trainers to put them through their paces and keep their exercise plans on track. If you’re an outgoing person who enjoys pushing others to be the best versions of themselves, then this could be the perfect career for you.