might live in a world of credit and instant gratification, but as this
country’s recent economic troubles have shown us, owing isn't owning,
and being able to live within a budget is a lot more important than
creditors would like you to believe. Budgets, are in fact, one of the
greatest tools you can use to achieve your financial goals, live within
your means, and save up money for the fun things in life.
how it works: you assess the flow of money in your household, namely
where it comes from and where it goes. Draw out your budget (in a
spreadsheet, on a graph, with crayons- whatever works for you.) Then,
you evaluate that. Are you spending too much money on something you
don't need? Are there areas where you'd like to save money? How much
money can you afford to save each month? If you are currently in debt,
look for ways to make the largest payments possible until you're in the
clear. Next, draw up the budget you would like to be keeping, being
realistic about living expenses. If you have long term financial goals,
draw those out on a timeline so that you can see how they can and will
Finally, you'll want to find a program or
bookkeeping method that will allow you to easily track your earnings
and spending. After that, you just start living your new budget. It
might take a month or two before you can fully transition to your new
budget, but don't give up. Then, continue to refine your budget as you
go. It will be a lot easier to save up for your dream vacation if you
know where the savings can come from!
Maybe you've had
to cut back on visits to your therapist or life coach, but
self-improvement doesn't have to stop just because you're low on cash.
There are plenty of cheap and free ways to continue making positive
changes in your life.
burns calories, not money. Developing an at-home workout routine is
free--as is going to the park, or simply jogging around your
neighborhood. You'd be surprised at how much 30 minutes of walking can
improve your overall health, focus, and attitude. There are also some
really cheap gym memberships out there, if you can spare $10 - $15 a
to local parks, museums, historical sites, and landmarks that you can
visit for free. Try to walk to these places if they're close enough.
This is a great way to spend time alone, with a friend, or get to know
Have a conversation. Engaging
in meaningful discussion is a great way to pass the time, save money,
and work on yourself and your relationships. Talk to a trusted friend.
Not all conversations have to be serious and profound; make time for
the healing power of laughter.
free to borrow library books, as long as you return them on time. Most
libraries have a great selection of books, audio books, and even music
and movies. You can even browse the Internet for free at the library.
Develop skills and talents. Cultivate
something you've always wanted to do, or started doing long ago but
gave up. Pull that tennis racket out of the back of your closet, write
that collection of short stories you've been thinking about for years,
plant that garden you've been talking about, or go sit down at that
piano and practice!
some journaling, poetry writing, meditation, or make a list of goals
for yourself. Take this time to figure out how who you are now lines up
with who you want to be.
can be a very fulfilling way to pass time while interacting with a
variety of people in your community. You're actively spending time
improving the quality of someone's life, while absorbing joy and
gratification from the experience.
Responsible Investing, or Green Investing, is a unique approach to
investing that makes up nearly 10% of the U.S. investment marketplace
today. So what is it all about?
Conscientious investing, takes
into account the investor's financial needs and the investment’s impact
on society or the environment. These investors speak with their
dollars; pushing corporations to enhance their practices on important
How do Investors use Socially Responsible Investing? There are a few common approaches:
1. Screening evaluates investment portfolios or mutual funds based on
predetermined, objective social, environmental, and corporate
governance criteria. Screening may include different criteria,
depending on the investor or firm doing the screening. Normally,
corporate social responsibility (CSR) factors are incorporated into the
process of investment analysis and management.
2. The most
rapidly growing social investment method today is community investing,
which supports communities that are under-served by traditional
financial institutions by directing capital from investors and lenders
to these communities – giving access to credit, equity, capital, and
basic banking services that these communities would not otherwise have.
In the US and around the world, community investing makes it possible
for local organizations to provide financial services to low-income
individuals and to supply capital for small businesses and vital
community services, such as affordable housing, child care, and
3. Shareholder advocacy, which is perhaps atypical
of other corporations, involves investors who take their shareholding
seriously by playing an active role as an owner in a corporation. This
may include filing Shareholder resolutions, or discussing relevant and
important topics with the corporate leadership. Issues range from
political contributions, corporate governance, discrimination, labor
practices, environmental impact and climate change, pollution, etc.
you are looking to make solid investments in companies that are
responsible, giving back to the community, and motivated to do their
part in eradicating many of the issues we face, look into Socially
Responsible Investing. Socially Responsible Investing performs
competitively with conventional investments over time. Now that Green
Industries are expected to boom, thanks to new spending reforms and
initiatives, there has never been a better time to invest in our
Some might think it unfathomable to be considering ways to become wealthy
in the midst of a recession, but there is never a bad time to try to leverage
your talents and resources in an effort to boost your net worth. Even in
the face of market volatility, and even if you don't foresee a salary increase
in the next few years, there are some things you can do to build upon your
wealth, most of which start with simply changing your way of thinking.
First and foremost, try and think of your wealth as the sum total of your
decisions to date. Think about that long and hard. No one but you
is responsible for your wealth - or lack thereof. Where you find yourself
today is the total of your efforts and decisions since you were equipped with
the brainpower to execute such things. Get excited and make some new
decisions today. Decide to build up a massive desire for that which you
want most for your life. Your desire for happiness will bring you
happiness, just as your desire for wealth will bring you wealth. Once
your mind is made up, the desire will translate into a tremendous amount of
extra energy and brainpower, which will be needed to accomplish your desired
It may help to narrow your focus and simplify your strategies by breaking your
ultimate goal down into a number of smaller goals. Map out a path to that
pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Maintain your focus, and make a
conscious decision to dominate anything that best exploits your skills and
talents. You might find that it helps to study the decision-making
processes of your mentors, and other folks you admire for their success.
why they make their decisions the way they do.
In this Issue:
Couples, and Families alike can benefit from some low-budget methods of
fun these days. Many of us are pinching pennies by staying at home, or
opting out of our more expensive preferred pastimes - but that doesn't
mean the fun stops too! There are many things you can do to have a
great time on a shoestring budget. Here are our top picks!
Movie Night. Grab a few flicks and start early - order take out or make
homemade snacks, and gather 'round the TV with blankets. Cozier and
more relaxing than a movie theatre - at a fraction of the price!
Night. Cheesy sounding, we know, but greatly gratifying! Gather your
friends and/or family around for some old fashioned board games for a
night of laughs and brain teasers. Just the two of you? Close the
shades and try some couples only games for a different type of teaser.
around. Check out town pools or local waterfronts. Lakeside beaches are
clean and relatively cheap, and more accessible than their oceanfront
counterparts - unless you live near the ocean. If you don't want to use
the pool or go to the lake, break out sprinklers for hours of giggles
and fun. Don't forget the sunscreen!
Go Fly a Kite. Or kick a
soccer ball. Find age-appropriate (or childishly fun) activities for
you and yours to enjoy. Add 1 part activity, 2 parts fresh air and
sunshine, and enjoy the simple pleasures of soaking in the sun, getting
physical, and having fun - all for very inexpensive. Want to rev up the
outdoor adventures? Try going for a day-long hike and picnic, or better
yet - go camping.
There are many things you can do as a family,
couple, or even solo to enjoy life, without prying into your savings
account. A little innovation can go a long way, and before you know it,
you'll be enjoying the finer,simpler things in life.
Create a realistic budget. Use reciepts and payment records to create a budget that you can stick to.
Evaluate spending. You may be surprised at where it is all going.
a savings plan. At least 5-10% of your income should go to savings. The
more you save, the less you will use credit cards and incur more
Save for Retirement. Start early, with long term goals for your retirement plan.
your insurance. Are you paying too much for too little? Shop around for
all of your insurance needs and change plans as needed.
is a bleak reality in the country's current real estate crisis, but
even in difficult financial situations, it's avoidable with these steps:
1. Face the problem head on.
When you realize you're falling behind on your mortgage payments,
contact your lender. Most lenders provide options for borrowers to help
them get through difficult financial times without facing foreclosure.
2. Prioritize your spending.
A mortgage is often the largest expense a family is responsible for,
but difficulty paying the mortgage is usually due to poor money
management, not lack of money. Write down every purchase you make in a
week and you may start to see that frivolous spending (eating out,
buying unnecessary items, etc.) is adding up and taking away from the
mortgage fund. Consider eliminating optional expenses like cable,
internet, and club membership until you're caught up on mortgage
payments and have a budget in place to prevent it from happening again.
3. Use your assets. If
you're in dire financial straits and having difficulty catching up on
your mortgage payments, consider selling a second car or getting a
second job to help catch up. This will not only bring more money into
your home, but it will also demonstrate to your lender that you are
actively trying to keep your home, even if it means making sacrifices.
4. Know your rights. Contact
your State Government Housing Office to learn about foreclosure laws
and timelines in your state to find what your lender can legally do if
you don't make your payments. And finally, don't succumb to
"foreclosure prevention companies" preying on the vulnerable. These
companies often charge the equivalent of 2-3 months' worth of mortgage
payments to negotiate with your lender, a service that various
nonprofit organizations will do for free.