It’s hard enough to keep a budget for one, let alone get your entire family on track with their finances. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps out there that can help keep you, your spouse, son, daughter and 11-year-old pug (OK, maybe not that last one) from spending beyond your family’s means.
Here are some choice apps that can help with your household budgeting.
Platforms: iOS and Android
Essentially a digital version of the envelope system — you know, where you put money allotted for a particular spending category in one and then don’t use any dollars beyond that — this app syncs up across household devices. That way, everyone in the family can know exactly what’s left to spend on groceries, entertainment and other categories each month. The free version lets you set up 10 regular envelopes and 10 annual envelopes across two devices. A subscription service with unlimited envelopes and device syncs costs $5 a month or $45 a year.
2. You Need a Budget
Platforms: iOS and Android
You Need a Budget (YNAB) is another app that lets folks sharing finances sync their devices and work together. This app pairs with web software of the same name to help users implement the YNAB four big rules: give every dollar a job, embrace your true expenses, roll with the punches and age your money. You can try the latest version, launched in late 2015 and dubbed “The New YNAB,” for free for 34 days. After that, a subscription costs $5 a month or $50 a year.
3. Home Budget
Platforms: iOS and Android
This digital expense tracker from Anishu includes a feature called Family Sync, which — you guessed it — enables household devices to exchange income and spending information within a single, shared budget. There’s a free version (Home Budget with Sync Lite) which limits your expense and income entries, and a paid version (just plain ol’ Home Budget with Sync) that costs $5.99.
4. Wallet by BudgetBakers
Platforms: iOS and Android
This budgeting app lets your share selected accounts with family members so everyone knows what’s going on with the household budget. You can also choose to connect your bank accounts to the app to get automatic updates about their standing. Wallet has a free version with limited features and several paid subscription versions that vary in cost. Its top tier, called Master plan, allows up to 10 users, unlimited bank connections and customized financial analysis. It costs $5.49 a month or $44.30 a year.
Platforms: iOS and Android
This budgeting app helps people apply the money management principles of budgeting guru Dave Ramsey. It syncs across devices so you can budget from your smartphone or your household desktop. There’s a free version and a Plus subscription, which lets you connect your bank accounts to the app and call for support. It costs $9.99 a month.
Balancing the Family Budget
Remember, you’ll want to read the terms and conditions of any app you’re looking to use so you know what it costs, how your data is protected and whether any information will be shared with third-parties. You can find more information for vetting mobile apps on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
And, when it comes to maintaining a household budget, it’s also important to keep track of your credit because a bad or even fair credit score can really cost you on everything from mortgage interest to your family’s cell phone plan.
If your credit isn’t in great shape, you can improve your scores by disputing errors on your credit reports, paying down high credit card balances and getting delinquent accounts back in good standing. And, as always, you can maintain good credit by paying all your bills on time, keeping debt levels low and adding a mix of new credit accounts over time.
Grout can be troublesome. While ceramic tiles are designed to resist stains, deflect grime and last for years, grout tends to absorb dirt and become strained all too easily. You might have tried many different cleaning solutions and homemade remedies on your grout, but nothing seems to get that dark brown stain out from between those shiny ceramic tiles. What can you do?
Remember, when tackling dirty grout, always start out with a mild cleaning solution, and if that doesn’t clean it fully, gradually move on to more aggressive cleaners. Of all the commercial cleaning solutions out there, we’ve found OxyClean to be the simplest and most effective at tackling messy grout lines and dirty tiles. Not only is OxyClean tough on grout, its main component is hydrogen peroxide, a “green” cleaning product that is neither a carcinogen nor a neurotoxin. Simply combine the OxyClean with water, rub onto the grout, and let sit for the recommended time before rinsing it off and brushing away any residue.
You might be tempted to use a rough brush to push the solution into the grout lines. Don’t do that! Using an abrasive brush such as steel wool or Brillo pad will wear down the grout and do more harm than good. In some cases, it could break through the grout, forcing you to get it replaced. Of all the brushes, an old electric toothbrush is the most effective at brushing dirt out of grout. Much like it does to your teeth, the electric toothbrush rotates and scrubs the gunk out of the grout, while simultaneously reaching those hard-to-get or unseen spots.
If you’re having no luck with the various cleaning solutions, consider investing in a steam mop. A steam mop uses high pressure, hot water and steam to blast your flooring and clean your grout. The high pressure created by the machine lifts dirt from inside the porous grout lines, flushing it out and leaving a shiny, new-looking surface in its wake. Using a steam mop is great on the environment since it uses hot water instead of harsh cleaning chemical solutions.
Cleaning with the steam mop is very easy. To use your steam mop, all you need to do is hold the nozzle and direct the steam through it and onto the grout line. Direct the nozzle up and down the grout lines to directly take on the dirt. You want to rent or buy a steam mop that has a strong pressure gauge and can reach ~350ºF, as this is the optimal temperature for cleaning grout. Cleaning mops are very effective when used alone, even more so when used following a more traditional cleaning attempt using a homemade or commercial cleaning solution which are used by the professionals such as Sir Clean Pro. Once you’re finished using the steam mop, use an attached brush, old toothbrush or nylon brush with soft bristles to wipe away any leftover dirt residue. Once you’re done, your tile floor or wall should look shiny and new.
We get it: Money resolutions can feel like a lost cause, especially if you’re already drowning in debt or saddled with uber-bad credit. But if the fear of falling short is stopping you from even attempting to reach any financial goals, well, it may be time to think smaller. There are lots of little steps you can take over the course of 2017 that, in tandem, can lead to ultimate financial balance.
Here are 50 ways to give your finances a fresh start this year.
1. Do Your Taxes ASAP
You’ll want to avoid taxpayer identity theft, which can delay a much-needed refund. Plus, an early refund can bolster your financial situation.
Jumpstart your emergency fund by setting up an automatic deposit or transfer into a savings account each month.
3. Give Cash a Try
If you’re prone to overspending on credit or debit, spend a week or two keeping only cash in your wallet. You can’t overspend cash — once it’s gone, it’s gone.
4. Ask for a Raise
If you have a performance review coming up, or the opportunity to ask for a raise, now’s the time to take stock of your professional value and put together a pitch for better compensation.
5. Check Your Credit Scores
You can’t know what to improve if you don’t know where you stand. You can get two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.
6. Spring-Clean Your Credit Report
Do a major audit by pulling your free annual credit reports via AnnualCreditReport.com and dispute any errors you find with the credit bureau(s) in question. (You can go here to learn how.)
7. Reevaluate Your Savings Strategy
See if you can maximize your savings by opening an account with a higher annual percentage yield (APY) than your current one or consider a savings vehicle, like a money market fund or a Certificate of Deposit (CD).
While it can cost a lot at first, moving can be a long-term money-saving strategy. A good rule of thumb is to keep your housing expenses below 30% (or, ideally, less than 25%) of your income. Do the math and a little research to see if you can do better than your current rent payment. Make sure you factor any the expense of any increase in commuting to make sure it really would be a financially beneficial move.
9. Ask for a Lower Credit Card APR
If you’re paying high interest on your credit card, see if you can’t talk it down. By negotiating down your annual percentage rate (APR), you could save serious money.
10. Get a Balance Transfer Credit Card
Look into moving high-interest credit card debt onto a new card touting a low-to-no introductory APR for the rest of the year (or longer). Note: Most issuers charge a balance-transfer fee.
11. Prioritize Payments
Our favorite way to pay down multiple credit cards? Put as much money as you can toward the balance with the highest APR, while paying the minimum on your other plastic. That way, you’ll save on interest charges.
12. Consider a Credit-Builder Loan …
If your credit is shot, which would increase your APRs, one way you can start to rebuild your payment history is with a credit-builder loan. You can look into credit-builder loans at your local bank or credit union.
13. … or a Secured Credit Card
Secured credit cards, which require an upfront deposit that serves as your credit limit, are designed specifically for people who need to build or fix their credit. You can find our picks for the best secured credit cards here.
14. Figure Out Where the ‘Right’ ATMs Are
Every time you use an out-of-network ATM, you’re paying money to use your own money. Cutting back on those fees can really help you save in the long run.
15. Simply Review Your Budget
How often do you look over your budget? If it’s been a while, start the year off fresh with a budget more customized to where you (and your finances) are today.
16. Scour Your Credit Card Statements
You could spot areas where you’re overspending. Plus, you’ll want to be on the lookout for fraud or billing errors.
17. Try a Budgeting App
There are a lot of free ones out there that can track your spending, point out what expenses are really draining your bank account and alert you when you’re about to go overboard.
18. Eat at home
Dining out too often can put a serious strain on your wallet. Try cooking at home just a few times a week, and you’re sure to free up some money you can use to pay down debts or put into a savings account.
19. Plan Your Meals
Better yet, try planning out your meals several days or a week in advance, and set aside time to shop for and prepare them. This minimizes the chance you’ll dine out, which is generally more expensive than home-cooked food.
20. Cancel Memberships
If you’re not using your streaming account, or don’t use it that often, go ahead and cancel it. You can always renew later if you decide you miss it, and you’ll free up money each month.
21. Review Your Transportation Situation
Can you begin biking to work or ride with a friend to cut gas expenses? Perhaps walking to work a few times a week could help you save on bus fare.
If you haven’t already started putting money aside for retirement, this may be the year to start doing so. Added bonus: If your company matches any investments you make, it’s like getting free money for those golden years.
23. Look into a Rewards Credit Card
If you charge a lot and pay those balances off in full, but only have a standard credit card, you may be losing out on rewards for your spending. Check your credit scores and see what types of cards you’d qualify for. You may even be able to get a rewards card that doesn’t have an annual fee.
24. Evaluate Your Rewards Credit Card
Already have a rewards credit card? Now may be the time to look at it and see what perks it’s offering you. Does your credit card reward you most for money you spend at the gas station? That’s great if you drive a lot, but if you’re taking public transportation or walking, there may be a better rewards credit card out there for you.
Yes, it’s old fashioned, but those weekly circulars from your local grocery store, and coupons from newspapers, mailers and sites like Coupon.com can really add up, especially if you hit double- or triple-coupon days.
27. Pay Off a Loan
If you’re nearing the end of your loan term, whether it’s for a car, student loan or something else, consider paying it off if you have the cash. You’ll cut out the interest you would’ve paid and, chances are, you’re paying more in interest for the loans than you’re making on the money if you leave it in your savings account until the bill comes due.
28. Review Your Insurance Policies
It’s a good idea to review your insurance policies — whether it’s your home insurance, car insurance or any other type — to see if you’re still getting the coverage you need. Then, take that information and shop around to make sure you’re getting the best price available.
29. Ask More Questions
Personal finance can be really confusing, so don’t be embarrassed if you don’t understand some of the concepts — even the seemingly basic ones. Commit to learning more about things like how credit works, your options for retirement planning or smart ways to use your credit card.
30. Set Calendar Reminders
Putting bill due dates in a digital calendar and setting up notifications will help you remember to pay things on time and save you the hassle of late-payment fees or damaged credit.
31. Set a Savings Goal
Think back on what you wanted to do last year but couldn’t afford. Was it a vacation? Buying holiday gifts? Build an emergency savings? Figure out how much you want to save, when you want to save it by and how much you have to set aside each month to reach that goal. Then do it.
32. Give up Your Vices or Guilty Pleasures
Do you put too many dollars toward dining out? Perhaps you spent too much on alcohol or cigarettes? Consider giving up these things (or at least cutting back on them) and using the excess cash to pay down debts, build up an emergency fund or save for a big ticket item.
33. Sell Stuff You Don’t Need
Take a look around the house and see if there’s anything you’re not using. By selling your unwanted items, you can free up money to put toward your savings or paying down credit card debt.
34. Change Your Passwords
Protect financial accounts by changing up those access digits, especially if you’re using any of the worst passwords from 2015.
35. Comparison Shop
Want to score a great deal? Search online and shop around to find the best deals on products. You don’t have to settle for the first deal you see.
36. Consult a Professional
If your money situation is complex, a visit with a certified financial planner, credit counselor or certified public accountant may be worthwhile.
37. Turn Your Hobby into Cash
Websites like Etsy have made it possible for thousands of people to sell their wares with little or no investment beyond the craft itself. So, if you make your own candles, scented soaps or other artisanal wares, consider setting up a shop.
38. Fill a Piggy Bank
At the end of every day, drop your loose change into a jar or other vessel — it doesn’t have to be a piggy bank per se — and do it every day. One of our editors tried this last year and had $285 in change by the end of it. That’s a nice dinner out, and then some.
39. Cut Water Costs
If you don’t already have low-flow shower heads and toilets, consider getting them. New toilets can be expensive, but you can cheat by filling a liter bottle with water and then dropping it in the tank so you don’t use as much water each time you flush.
40. Buy Generic Brands
Why pay full price for name brands when generics work just as well? Get in the habit of buying these, at least some of the time, and your wallet is sure to get fatter.
41. Make Shopping Lists
An easy way to save money is by making a shopping list before you hit the stores. Stick to it, especially if you’re shopping when you’re hungry, and you’ll avoid buying items you just don’t need.
If your credit has improved, see if you can qualify for a lower rate on a mortgage, auto loan or private student loan, for instance. Just be sure to account for any fees associated with refinancing before you go ahead and do so.
If you buy a lot of books or music, try borrowing it from the library instead. As long as you avoid late return fees, you’ll end up saving a considerable amount of money.
45. Consolidate Your Credit Card Debt
Look into getting a personal loan, or debt consolidation loan, to consolidate debts you’re carrying on multiple credit cards. Depending on your credit, you may be able to secure a lower rate.
46. Live Below Your Means
Spending less than you earn on a regular basis is one way to ensure you always have an emergency fund on hand. Borrowing less than you need — or at least not over-borrowing — will save you big on interest.
47. Reevaluate Your Tax Withholding
Sure, a big tax refund is nice, but it indicates you were paying the government too much all year. Consider changing your withholding specification on your W-4 to get more money back on each paycheck.
48. Wait a Day Before Buying
If you’re prone to impulse-shopping, institute a one-day waiting period before buying. That’ll give you time to evaluate if the purchase is a want or a need.
49. Pay Your Credit Card More Than Once a Month
Link your debit card account to your credit card account and then make a habit of paying down your balances once a week — or at least twice a month. That’ll help you avoid spending more than what’s in your bank account.
50. Skip the Trip
Sure, an expensive vacation seems like a necessity, but, if finances are tight this year, opt for a staycation or an affordable road trip instead.
Admit it. Getting your baby’s daddy to pay child support can be like pulling your eyelashes out one by one. Why can’t he understand that you both made this child so he needs to help support this child? All the excuses are getting old and tired.
The bills need to be paid.
The baby needs shoes? Food. Uniforms. Doctor visits. Clothes. All the things that make survival possible.
So how can you get him to pay up or get off the #struggletrain? Stick with me and I’ll share a few practical ideas you can start using today to make the struggle less stressful. Hopefully, the following tips will also prepare you to go into the battle with a better strategy.
My ultimate goal is to inspire you to seek a different path to financial freedom.
Reality Check: Honestly, unless you are a baller ex-wife, boo, or side chick, was married to a CEO or a business owner; it will be hard to make a living, much less a life off of child support. You will be more successful taking action on the tips I share in the second half of this article.
A 7-Step (Mostly) Conflict-Free Process for Getting Child Support
Step 1 – Decide How Much You Need
What will it take to raise your child and meet all his needs? Check your food, clothing, utilities, and all the things your child uses and needs. When you have a number divide it in half. This is how much you need from your ex to raise your children. Be realistic about his ability to pay. Next access his finances.
Step 2 – Assess His Finances
How much does your Ex make? You may not know the exact amount but you can research his job position and the average pay for that position. Be realistic about how much he gets paid when you are considering your child’s needs and his income. There may be a huge gap.
Step 3 – Communicate Your Demands
The next step is to say what you need to care for your child. There is a difference between demanding money because you think he owes you something and asking for money because raising a child requires money. I suggest you go as far as itemizing the cost of everything your child will need for the year. Write it on a piece of paper and give it to your child’s father. Wait for a response then go to the next step. Negotiation.
Step 4 – Come to an Agreement
In this step, talk about the list and decide, together, what he can realistically do. Sometimes it’s just not as cut and dry or black and white as you think. He honestly may not be able to give you everything but can do something. Ask him if it’s truly the best he can do. Keep at it until you both feel this is something you can live with for at least three months, six months, or a year.
Request a review after agreed time limit has passed to see if he’s in a better position to do more. Men need facts to make decisions. They do not rely entirely on their feelings. If you make it about feelings and drama you will get less than you think you deserve and he will make it harder to get it even at the risk of going to jail, back taxes, or anything to keep you from winning.
Step 5 – File the Paperwork
When you have an agreement put it in writing and you both sign it. This is now your contract to keep or file with the courts if that is part of the agreement. If it is part of a child support order, send it to your attorney or complete the forms yourself. The point is to have a record of the agreement and preferably a witness.
Step 6 – Communicate Regularly
Decide how you will communicate and what you will communicate with your Ex. Keep everything brief and business-like so you stay focused on what matters; your child. Keep your emotions in check and do not allow him to bait you into a conversation about your past relationship, your current relationship with someone else, and all the things you or he did wrong. The less you talk about unresolved personal issues when discussing child support the better off you will be.
Decide if you want to tell him about any special purchases you needed to make because of school needs, medical needs, or other needs outside of the usual food, clothing, and shelter he is contributing to with the child support payments. Make a communication schedule that you can agree on and stay within those guidelines.
Depending on how volatile your relationship is you may decide to only use text messaging, only email, and rarely a phone call. You may use a combination of it all. It is up to you. Whatever you decide to do, be consistent.
Step 7 – Wait for the Check/ Deposit
Now you wait for the child support check to arrive. It may feel stressful because you are not sure if it will come. If it doesn’t communicate with him and ask when you can expect it. If it does come send a quick text saying you got it and say thanks the first few times. The more you appreciate his effort and integrity in sending it the more goodwill you create.
How to Get Off the Child Support Struggle Train in 7 Steps
Now that you have tried the tactics to get child support I’d like you to assess how much you can actually survive off that money. Is it enough to pay the rent, car note, buy food, clothing, school project materials, take a vacation?Can you live off that amount combined with what you make at your job?Are you still struggling to make ends meet?Are you willing to think about the reason you are still struggling?
It’s likely that even after all the tactics and strategy, the child support is still not enough or nonexistent because he barely keeping up with the payments or not making payments at all. You can’t even depend on a steady payment every month. The struggle is truly real. So how do you get off the child support struggle train?
I’m glad you asked!
Getting off the #struggletrain won’t be easy but it is worth it if you want emotional and financial freedom.
Step 1 – Create a budget that does not include child support
Save your sanity and simply plan your spending around the money you bring in. You will introduce financial stability into your life and step away from the emotional struggle of depending on a child support check that may or may not come.
Step 2 – Create an Income Increase Plan
Now that you see your budget you are probably thinking to yourself, “This won’t cover all my expenses and it still feels like I’m struggling!”. I get it which is why your next step is to come up with an Income Increase plan. This means you think about ways you can increase your income.
Can you create a side gig?Can you take an online certification course to get a better paying job?Can you sell toys on Ebay?Create a long and short term income increase plan and start on it immediately.
Step 3 – Deal with Your Child’s Father Differently
Clear the negative energy you feel for your ex. Do it by any means necessary because as long as you feel anger, resentment, depression, fear, or hostility toward him, the more he is in control. You are better than that and can control yourself, your life, and your destiny. Anytime we hold negative emotions about someone we give them control over our lives.
Step 4 – Focus on Creating a Life You Love
Focus on what you want. Nothing else. When you learn how to focus only on what you want you get it. All distractions pull you back into a dysfunctional life and none of your dreams can come true. Focus on the goals you had before your relationship went sour, or before you had kids, or before your divorce.
Create a list of your top three goals and add a date you want to reach that goal. Keep the list in a place where you can see it daily. Your bathroom mirror, your bedroom door, or your phone lock screen are good places to keep your three goals visible.
Next Steps to Getting off the Child Support Struggle Train
Step 5 – Ask for help
Find someone who has been where you are but is happy and successful. Ask them to mentor you and keep you accountable to your goals. This kind of support will do wonders for your life. The biggest challenge with this is trusting someone enough to open up about your struggles. Pray for the right person to come into your life.
Step 6 – Join or create a support group
Find a group of women who are positive and want the same thing you want. It should be a group of women dedicated to problem-solving, not problem re-hashing. Whiners and complainers are not interested in forward progress and rarely get past the navel-gazing phase. Skip those kinds of people. Fine solution-oriented groups.
Step 6 – Trust your intuition
In your heart of hearts, you know the right answers for you. Trust yourself to make good decisions and you will. Do the research, ask people questions who have the answers, pray for wisdom, and know you can always start over if you make the wrong decision.
What’s Your Next Move?
There are two schools of thought on how to get the child support you need. Rely on the child’s father, who may or may not come through or rely on yourself, who will always come through. Some say he owes you but I say an unhealthy dependence on child support puts him in a position to emotionally and financially OWN you. I was put on this planet to empower single moms, through my own experiences and through practical solutions.
I’ve shared what I think are two solutions that may satisfy both schools of thought. You can pursue child support actively using the methods I shared in part one. You can even pursue it passively by simply filing paperwork with the state. But I think the second part of this article is feasible and definitely more satisfying. Of course, it’s up to you to choose the best course of action.
I shared with you what happened when I sold my engagement ring after I got divorced. Back then the only way to sell your engagement ring online was to go to Craigslist or some other classified directory. I didn’t get the best price I’m sure because I wasn’t well informed. I didn’t get the ring appraised, in fact, I didn’t really know I could take it to a jeweler to find out all the details about the ring.
Things are different now so you don’t have to practically give away your diamond ring. You have options for selling your ring online and getting the best price instead of the first price someone throws your way.
I got information about Worthy.com recently and feel it is a great way to sell your diamond engagement ring online. The site was created so women who have jewelry laying around can sell it for a great price to the highest bidder. I decided to give a try myself so I went to the website and started the process of selling a wedding band. In the video below you can see step by step how to sell the rings online. It’s very easy to do so take a look at the video and then dig out your diamond rings and start selling.
The estimate is free
The shipping is free
Listing in the auction is done for you
You get to decide the lowest amount you’ll take based on the appraised value
You get paid in 7 days after the sale of your jewelry
Have you sold your engagement ring or wedding band? Do you think you would sell it now that you see how easy it can be?
Groupon Goods the Place to Buy Inexpensive Gifts for Women and Teens
We are officially in the Holiday Season! Wow! I can’t believe how time has flown so quickly. Just 11 months ago it was my birthday :-p. This is a semi-stressful time for me because my son starts putting pressure on me to prepare for the holidays. 🙁
It’s his favorite time of year because it means, gifts, family, friends, and food. His top four things. So what’s a wait-until-the-last-minute mom on a budget who hates shopping to do?
My best bet is to get out the laptop and start researching ideas (and prices). On top of waiting to the last minute I am a bit scatterbrained so I’m constantly looking for that website I came across six months ago. Ugh!!! Where is it…
One site I rarely forget about is Groupon Goods. It is my go to place for products, services, and travel discounts. A couple of years ago I did most of my Christmas shopping there and it was featured in Essence magazine.
For my holiday gifts this year I’m going back to Groupon Goods to snag some great prices at a discount.
My daughter wants make-up, jewelry, clothes, and electronics and my son wants cookware, superhero gear, and whatever else I decide to get him :-).
What do you have on your early holiday shopping list? Will you be shopping on online or in the stores?
Hi! Welcome to RichSingleMomma.com. I started this website almost a decade ago because I couldn't find any blogs back then that helped single moms with money. I was having some success in that area so I decided to share what I knew about side hustles, making extra money, and managing what I had. Read more...