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Tip of The Week: Three Simple Steps to a Budget

For the “Tip of The Week” this week we’re going to break down budgeting into 3 easy to follow to steps. A lot of times when it comes to creating a budget for your personal of family finances you can easily get overwhelmed and quit before you’ve even started. As you start planning out your budget it’s important to understand that getting accustomed to using a budget and getting out of debt will not be an overnight process. Budgets are often the most effective when you make small and simple changes and apply them over a long amount of time. As you apply these three simple steps you’ll be amazed at what they can add up to over time.

Steps to Budgeting

Step 1: Evaluate Current Spending- As we’ve mentioned in previous budgeting posts the first and most important step in starting your budget is knowing where your finances currently stand. As you begin your budget we recommend sitting down and taking a look at ALL of your expenses. Oftentimes when we people start outlining their expenses there are several that will go overlooked but it’s important to account for not only your normal monthly expenses but also your expenses that come each year like property taxes, some life insurance plans etc.. By outlining all of your expenses you’ll have a starting point to work from.

Common Expenses Include:

  • Rent/Mortgage Payments
  • Car Payment
  • Average Monthly Fuel Expenses
  • Average Monthly Vehicle Maintenance Expenses (Oil Change, Transmission Services, etc..)
  • Planned Family Vacations (Divide By 12 To Know The Monthly Amount)
  • Home, Life, Auto Insurance
  • Weekly Groceries
  • Entertainment Expenses (Cable, Internet, Movies, Restaurant Expenses)
  • Annual Property Taxes (Divide By 12 To Know The Monthly Amount)
  • Gym Memberships
  • Movie Clubs
  • XM Radio, Sirius Radio, Spotify monthly memberships

Step 2: Set Spending Goals- Once you have an idea of your monthly expenses it’s time to set some goals. Before you can set some goals you need to first compare your expenses to your income. If you find that you’re spending more than you make each year your goal should be to cut your expenses so that you do not have to spend more than you make each month. Some of the common expenses that you can cut include cable, internet, entertainment/out to eat, and other monthly memberships. When people finally sit down and take a look at their expenses they begin to realize how they’ve let all of their different monthly memberships add up to the point that they are suffocating, this will be a good time to simplify your monthly spending. Once you get your expenses in order it’s time to set a goal to start saving, your first goal should be to start saving at least 10% of your pay each month, once you’ve accomplished that you should work towards saving 20% each month until you’ve built up a reserve that could cover 6 months of your monthly expenses.

Step 3: Repeat Monthly- As we mentioned at the beginning of this post this is an ongoing project, don’t think of this as a one month goal. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with your budget keep working at it each month, continue to assess your expenses each month so that you can always be moving forward to your next set of goals. Once you’ve built up a savings, there are always more things that you can do whether it’s paying down credit card debt, paying off your car loans or even working towards paying down your mortgage early. As you work through this process it’s important to understand that everything isn’t going to go as planned, there will be months where you come up a bit short and you might need to put some unexpected bills on your credit card or take out a short term loan. If that happens don’t give up, keep working towards your goals.

Budgeting can be a lot of fun if you let it, there are a plethora of budgeting apps that you can use to make budgeting more fun or exciting. As you make your budget your focus it’s also important to remember that it’s ok to have fun every once in awhile, if you get too strict on your budget you’ll end up hating everything about your budget and giving up. If you have any questions on budgeting be sure to leave them in the comments section below or check out our other budgeting videos.

Online Clothes Shopping Tips

Most of our shopping is now done online. Shopping for your clothing online is a great way to save time and ensure that you can keep your wardrobe up to date.

These days it seems that the speed of life keeps getting faster and faster. As a result there are a lot of people that just do not have time to go clothes shopping any more. Navigating traffic, finding a parking spot, searching for your size, cut, and color is all a lot of work for something you can now do from the comfort of your couch while you watch TV.

Shopping for your clothing online is a great way to save time and ensure that you can keep your wardrobe up to date. But there is an art to successfully shopping for clothes online. Without being able to try on the clothes before purchasing, you have to take some tips into mind to ensure you don’t have to return items too often.

Tips for Shopping for Clothes Online

online shopping
Here are some things to consider that can make the online shopping experience a great one:

Know Your Size

When shopping at the store you can grab a few different sizes of a blouse and try them all on to know which size fits you the best. But when shopping online you don’t have that luxury, so you need to make sure you know your size exactly.
You can learn your exact size by taking your measurements. Clothing companies usually have sizing charts where you can use your measurements to pick out your optimal size with that clothing line. By having your measurements, you’ll know what sizes are going to fit you no matter which website you purchase clothes from.

Read the Return Policy

Be sure that you understand the return policy before you purchase clothes. You want to make sure you can return the clothes if you get them home and find they don’t fit or don’t interest you in person.

Don’t Forget about Shipping and Tax

Be sure to include the cost of shipping and tax in the final price when budgeting for your online clothes shopping. These fees are not added until the end and the price of the product alone can often make it seem much cheaper than it truly is.

Subscribe to Emailing Lists

Subscribe to the emailing lists of your favorite stores. When you are on the email and mailing lists of your favorite clothes companies than you’ll get informed of all their sales and special deals. Sometimes, members of the mailing list will be the first, or only ones to know of certain discounts going on.

Read the Fine Print

Read through the FAQ pages and fine print before you make your purchase. Before clicking “agree” to any terms or conditions, make sure you read through them and know what they are first.

Read the Reviews

Don’t forget to check out the reviews section for the website you’re using, or for the particular item you’re thinking of purchasing. Some reviews will even have pictures of previous customers wearing the clothes. Seeing real people in the shirt you’re thinking of buying can be helpful to see what it might really looks like.

Reviews can also let you know about common problems with the clothes, like if the sizes run bigger or smaller than normal, or if the material is different from the picture.
Just remember to read the reviews objectively since even the greatest buys will have at least a few bad customer reviews.

Familiarize Yourself with Different Materials

Doing a little research about materials and fabrics can really make online clothes shopping a breeze. If you know what mix of materials you do and don’t like, and if you have a basic understanding of what they all feel like, then you’ll have a much clearer understanding of what you’re buying.

Check for Payment Security

Be sure that your payment will be safe and secure whenever you are buying things online. When you are purchasing clothes online you will need a debit or credit card to make a purchase. If you do not have the credit to get a credit card, you may want to look into a prepaid debit card. A prepaid debit card is a great way to ensure that you can make secure purchases online.

You can also check if your purchases are going to be secure on a website by looking for security seals that show a site works with a digital security program meant to protect your information. Also check for the lock symbol at the beginning of the address bar at the top of your browser before making purchases on that site.

Keep an Online Shopping Journal

By keeping a notebook for your online cloth shopping, you can keep all your notes in one place. In this notebook you can keep your measurements, and record the sizes that work best for you from each site. You can also keep notes of how you like different materials and fabric blends, so you can remember what compositions like 20% Cotton, 60% Polyester, and 20% Spandex mean.

Use a Tailor

Everyone’s body shape is different, and sizes don’t always fit exactly right. But that doesn’t have to keep you from taking advantage of great prices on great clothes. By making use of a local tailor you can always get a custom fit.

Where to Shop for Clothes Online

shopping for clothes
As our shopping migrates more and more onto the internet, clothing brands and websites that are solely online have become increasingly more popular and common.

Clothing Subscriptions

Clothing Subscriptions for Women

Clothing Subscriptions for Plus Size

Clothing Subscriptions for Men

Clothing Subscriptions for Kids

Clothing Shopping Websites
Amazon Fashion

Amazon has their own clothing website now in their Amazon Fashion section. They even have a subscription box now with prime wardrobe. They have clothing sections for women, men, girls, boys, and babies.
The next time that you get tired of the crowds or the lines at the mall, pull out your prepaid debit card and start safely shopping online. Filling out a new spring wardrobe can take a tole on the budget. If your finding you need a little extra breathing room Check City can help with a variety of short term financial service options.

Make clothes shopping not just easier, but cheaper too, by doing your clothes shopping online, “Shopping for Your Clothes Online.”

Get ahead on your Christmas shopping this year, “4 Reasons to Start Early Christmas Shopping.”

Learn how to get thrifty with all your gift shopping this season, “Thrifty Gift Shopping.”

Read all about the post Christmas online shopping addiction and how to you can save yourself from overbuying this year, “The Post Christmas Online Shopping Addiction.”

Save on all your holiday shopping with these tips, “Saving while Online Shopping for the Holidays.”

Read about even more tips for online clothes shopping, “10 Tips and Tricks for Buying Clothes Online Like a Pro.”


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