Of Special Interest...
Funding the Season
Ti$ the $ea$on
by Tom Lucey
Finding money to satisfy our spending wants becomes particularly difficult during the holiday season. Being underpaid professionals, educators especially feel the financial pinch. There are, however, means of finding more from the paycheck to get through the holiday and secure some financial footing for next year.
Creating a formal budget, or spending plan, represents a first step. In doing so, make the plan simple. Only a certain amount of income comes available each month. Realize that. Credit card usage represents a poor income substitute because the credit payment requirements sacrifice future income from other wants (like that June vacation).
Be reasonable with the plan. Why plan for $50/week in groceries without any possibility of accomplishment? Ensure documenting and distinguishing between purchasing needs and purchasing wants before shopping. Shop only for the planned items. If an item purchased escaped the list, the list probably could not afford it.
Be deliberate implementing the plan. Hopefully discerning the spending needs and wants occurred in quiet, thoughtful moments. Spending often occurs spontaneously (compulsively) without reference to or consideration of the plan. The phrase "out of budget" represents a misnomer. The problem does not lie in the budget, it lies in the spending.
Budget Gift Ideas
The NFCC provides the following holiday gift ideas for the budget conscious:
- cooked items and the recipe
- self-made crafts
- potted plants and fruit from your yard
- copying and framing a favorite poem
- taping an event with children and sending to distant relatives
- coupons for your services
I will be ordering books for students in my classroom this year and adding to my points for classroom needs.
Financial Help Online
For more online information related to cutting expenses, you might try the following websites:
- http://www.cassandrasrevenge.com provides financial chatboards and advice for women and their unique needs
- http://www.cheapskatemonthly.com provides unique tips for saving on expenses.
- http://www.DCA.org represents the site of a nonprofit organization in Washington D.C. which provides chatrooms for those needing credit counseling.
- http://www.ftc.gov is the website for the Federal Trade Commission which provides addresses consumer trade issues and provides consumer literature, including information about online coupon schemes.
Getting more from the paycheck
One approach to dealing with budget problems involves getting more from your paycheck. Adjusting withholdings and deductions may not provide instant results to budget woes, yet may provide more income to deal with bills in January. Some ideas to consider follow.
Readjust your withholdings of Federal and State income tax payments. Are you getting refunds on a regular basis? Think of the money which the government uses during the year that could be spent paying down your credit cards or used in your classroom.
Cancer or hospital insurance represents a "scare sell" insurance which very few people should buy. While the coverage promises refunds if the insurance is not used by a certain age, one overpays for this coverage with the insurance company keeping the money. It may represent a good buy for one having little sick leave, little savings, and medical circumstances prompting a future claim however. Absent these conditions, consider comprehensive medical coverage and investing the difference.
Supplemental guaranteed issue life insurance may be sold in addition to the life insurance with is a multiple of the salary. If youíre healthy, purchase level-term life insurance at a lower cost outside of work and take the policy when leaving employment. Health insurance might be a bargain. If your spouse has coverage through work, compare available coverages for the best terms and get coverage through only one employer. In general, the more employees in a company, the better the expected health coverage. Be Warned: Employers offering a choice of health insurers may have rules concerning which carriers would be available for retirement and require coverage with that carrier during periods of employment.
Payroll deductions into retirement plans should be maximized by all possible means. This consideration will be addressed in a future article.
Donít allow a financial pinch to empty your christmas stocking. Establish a spending plan, monitor your gift giving, and prepare for the new year. Painting a sound financial picture could bring lasting tidings of comfort and joy.