The stores are already starting to advertise for the holidays, and several major retails are pushing the option of layaway as an option to finance your gift giving. While layaway was not offered in stores for years, it is making a comeback due to the current economy. You can choose to use layaway or not this year, though it is certainly a better option than financing gifts on credit cards, but why not also start your own layaway program?
One idea that revolutionized the way I budget is to set aside money each month for recurring expenses. I used to be a teacher, and I could choose to teach classes in the summer or not. Sometimes I did teach the classes, but a few summers I chose to take off, which also meant that I was choosing not to get a paycheck for three months of the year. Considering I was the sole breadwinner at that time, summers could pack a painful punch.
However, I began to enjoy my summers off and not suffer financially when I began setting aside money for monthly expenses. At the time, we required on average $2,500 a month to live, so that was $7,500 I needed during the summer months to survive without a paycheck. I received a paycheck nine months of the year, so I automatically deducted $833 a month into a special account to live off of during the summer.
Even if you have a regular paycheck coming in all year long, you can benefit from this plan. For instance, I know that over the course of a year I would like to spend $500 on gifts. Some months I may not spend anything, and other months I may spend $100 or more. To make sure I have the money set aside, I would take $500 and divide it by 12. Then I would put aside $42 a month for gifts. It would be its own little gift fund, and I would draw from it when I needed to purchase gifts.
Likewise, my energy bill is very low in the winter because my landlord pays for the heat, but the electric bill is high in the summer because I have to pay to air condition or drafty apartment. I set aside $50 a month for electricity. During the winter months, my electric bill may only be $25. The remainder of the $50 after I pay the monthly bill goes in savings in a special fund to help cover the high summer electric bills.
If you set your monthly budget up based not just on your exact expenses for that particular month but for the average you will spend all year long divided by 12, you essentially create your own layaway plan. On months that may have higher expenses, you simply dip into the money you have already put aside. This type of budget makes your monthly outflow much more stable and protects you from the highs and lows of creating a budget based on each month’s actual monthly expenses.
photo credit: robertstinnett
This post brought to you by MusicMagpie
Giving to a good cause and helping out a charity is something that everybody should aspire to do, but not everyone knows how to go about doing so. There is no shortage of charitable organizations that can do with any donations you are able to give them, so pick one that is close to your heart or have a cause that you can relate to. Once you have settled on a charity or charities that can benefit from your donations, the next step is getting the funds together.
It is no use bankrupting yourself in order to give generously to a charity, but surprisingly enough you might find that ordinary items found in your home could be a big help in generating cash. For example, many people have stacks of music CDs that have become all but obsolete in this age of Mp3s and internet downloads. Because of our busy lifestyles it has become easier to just purchase the songs or albums online and take them wherever we go on phones or Mp3 devices. While you might think that this has made your old CD collection worthless, nothing could be further from the truth.
If the thought of lugging your CDs to a pawn shop, only to be given a price that is not worth the effort, sounds like too much of a hassle there are other options available to get rid of old CDs without having to throw them away. Services like those offered by websites such as musicmagpie have taken all the fuss out of recycling your old CDs. Companies like these often use the cash generated to help out a charity. Everything is conveniently handled online so you can see exactly just how much money your old CDs will bring in to the charity. Depending on the size and type of CDs in your collection, this sum might just surprise you and be a big help to the charity of your choice.
It is not every day that you get to clean out some valuable space in your house while helping a charity at the same time, so it is definitely something worth looking into. It is certainly more practical than simply discarding your old CDs and contributing to the pollution of the environment. Obviously some CDs, such as the ones that contain old and obsolete computer backup data or ones that are damaged beyond repair cannot be traded in for cash. In these instances, you may have to get creative yourself and find ways to re-use the CDs in order to prevent them from ending up in a landfill.
You might not make any cash from recycling your old CDs yourself and re-purposing them for new uses, but at least you will be doing your bit for the environment. If you are really good, you could even sell your creations such as CD disco-balls and use that cash to help out a charity. It may not be as much as you could get from the original CDs, but every bit helps.
photo credit: RLHyde
Beating Broke was included in the following carnivals recently:
Canadian Finance Carnival #59 at Canadian Finance Blog
Carnival of Financial Camaraderie #4 at My University Money
Yakezie Carnival October 24, 2011 – Just Do It Edition at 20 and Engaged
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Beating Broke was included in the following carnivals recently: Best of Money Carnival – The Holidays Are Coming Edition at Everything Finance Blog Carnival of Personal Finance #331: Global Stockmarkets Edition at Squirrelers Yakezie Carnival October 16, 2011 – Growth Edition hosted by Prairie Eco Thrifter and Canadian Finance Carnival #58 at Canadian Finance Blog
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