Personal Finances – Getting Off The Paycheck To Paycheck Roller Coaster

There are three traditional methods of managing personal income.

1. Budgeting,

2. Keeping a spending history, and

3. Doing nothing (also known as living from paycheck to paycheck).

Budgeting involves setting what percent of future income is to be spent on which categories of expenses, and then recording all purchases in order to track how well spending is staying within the predefined limits. The process sounds very simple, however, it is difficult, in my opinion, to stick with a budget for very long. The energy and dedication needed to keep track of where the money goes is tremendous. I’ve tried budgeting on several occasions and failed miserably because I couldn’t stomach keeping track of every penny I spent.

Traditional budgets also tend to fail because the setting of rigid spending limits does not lend itself well to being flexible. When unforeseen expenses pop up, a budget can be rendered useless very quickly. It’s my experience that budgets can feel like monetary straight jackets that are soon abandoned.

Spending Histories – A Vicious Cycle

Keeping a spending history also involves the recording of every penny spent. The intent is to use the spending history as a basis for identifying spending habits that can be improved and then making needed changes to future spending patterns. The main weakness of keeping a spending history is that it is focused on past activity and, therefore, is of little help when a person is trying to make immediate decisions about spending for current and future requirements.

Here’s the normal cycle of keeping a spending history. This cycle highlights the spending history’s weakness as a personal cash flow management tool.

1. It takes time to accumulate a spending history. While accumulating the history, inappropriate spending habits will probably continue. If you don’t consistently continue your bad habits, you won’t be able to document them in your spending history.

2. You have to keep track of, and record every penny of your spending. Spending information must be recorded in some type of tracking device that is capable of organizing the information and displaying useful reports and graphs. Two popular examples of these tracking devices are Quicken and Money. As mentioned earlier, keeping track of every penny spent, and dutifully recording that information, takes dedication and a lot of energy.

3. Whether or not changes to spending habits are effective, and whether or not habits are really starting to change, cannot be determined until additional spending history has been accumulated. After you have accumulated sufficient spending history such that you can see some of your bad habits, it’s time to adjust your spending patterns. To determine whether these adjustments are appropriate and have the desired effect, you have to return to step 1.

The failure of keeping a spending history as a personal cash flow management tool is, in my opinion, to be expected. This money management technique is, I believe, based on GAAP (generally accepted accounting practices) which are used by businesses specifically to keep track of what happened; not plan for what is about to happen. The “about to happen” part is left to annual budgeting processes. This accounting approach is appropriate for businesses; but, is cumbersome and unresponsive for personal use.

The software used to accumulate a spending history, in my opinion, also contributes to the failure of the spending history technique. These types of programs tend to be too complicated and inflexible for many people. I’ve tried both Quicken and Money. In addition to my own dislike for these programs, I have met very few people who actually use Quicken and Money for their intended purposes. The usual reason I hear for buying either of these programs is because they contain a check register. That is the only feature being used.

The “Doing Nothing” Method

I believe most people end up doing nothing either because they’ve never been shown a better way, or because, like me, they’ve tried and failed at budgeting and/or keeping a spending history. Doing nothing means their personal finance management is reduced to paying bills when the bills come due with the money that is on hand at the time. They live from paycheck to paycheck with periods when they have lots of money interspersed with periods when there may not be enough on hand to buy bread and milk. This roller coaster approach to personal cash flow, in my opinion, encourages ill advised spending and almost guarantees growing indebtedness.

What Is Month-To-Month Personal Finance?

There is a new alternative which overcomes all of the above personal cash flow management problems. Created out of practical necessity, this new alternative may require new ways of looking at, and thinking about personal finances and the tools that are used to manage those finances. Before looking at this new approach to managing personal cash flow, let’s first take a new look at the activities that comprise personal finances. Before you can begin to effectively manage your finances, it helps to have an understanding of what you are managing.

I break down month-to-month personal finances into the following five activities.

1. Receiving income.

2. Paying bills.

3. Paying day-to-day expenses.

4. Paying for larger than normal expenses.

5. Setting aside a cushion.

This list does not include any activity intentionally associated with wealth building. The concern here is dealing with the fundamental issues of living comfortably day-to-day and paying the bills on time. Once those issues are dealt with successfully and consistently, building wealth becomes a possibility.

It is my contention that the main reason people get into trouble with their finances is because they let activity 1, getting a paycheck, control when all of the remaining activities happen. Bills are paid typically on payday because that’s when money is available. Depending on how much is needed to pay bills each payday, the amount left over for day-to-day expenses could be a lot or a little. Sound familiar? And, since the receipt of paychecks is determining when bills are paid, and the size of the bills are determining how much pocket money is left, there is rarely any excess money for activities 4 and 5. Setting aside money “for a rainy day” just doesn’t happen. Making major purchases, such as replacing the refrigerator when it goes on the fritz or buying a new set of tires, adds even more to the credit card balances.

Having growing, uncontrolled debt and no savings can, I believe, be attributed directly to letting your paychecks control your cash flow.

Getting Off The Roller Coaster

How do you break the living from payday to payday roller coaster cycle? Budgeting and keeping a spending history, while very useful to some people, are, in my opinion, not the solutions that work for most of us. Getting control of your finances is, instead, a matter of simplifying your finances. This is done by decoupling all of your personal finance activities. The five activities listed above are related, but they can be managed separately. Once you begin handling your personal cash flow management activities separately, something magical happens. The domino effect of (1) get a paycheck, (2) pay bills, (3) put what’s left in your pocket, is stopped. Instead, your bills begin to get paid on time, and money for day-to-day expenses is consistent from week to week.

The decoupling of personal finance activities is achieved by consistently applying these two techniques.

1. Separate the receipt of income from the paying of bills. Instead of paying bills on payday, sit down and arrange for the payment of bills on a consistent schedule that is independent of when income is received.

2. Fix the amount of money for day-to-day expenses at an appropriate weekly amount. Instead of pocketing what’s left over after paying the bills, “pay” yourself the same amount on the same day every week regardless of when you get paid.

When consistently applied, these two very simple rules for managing personal cash flow are powerful. I’ve been using them for several decades in my personal finances. Prior to stumbling on these techniques, I used to lie awake nights worrying about how I was going to pay the rent. It was habit for me to be continually on the lookout for yet another bill consolidation loan. Sometimes buying groceries was not possible on short paydays. Setting aside savings wasn’t even something I thought about.

Since starting to use personal cash flow management tools that are based on the above two simple rules, money is no longer a controlling force in my or my wife’s lives. We always pay our bills on time. Lois and I continually have money in our pockets for day-to-day expenses. We have no credit card debt since we pay our statement balances in full every month on or before the due date. And planning for major and unexpected expenses is simple because we have a detailed, forward focused view of our current and future cash flow. Money and bills are not the sources of stress and discord they used to be.

It’s Easy If You’re Willing

Applying the above decoupling rules to your personal finance does not require any special tools. A properly constructed manual or software spreadsheet will do the trick. I used such a spreadsheet in Excel to help a teacher friend of ours go from “more month than money” to “more money than month” in just a few weeks. The problem was that our friend had to come see me regularly so I could update her spreadsheet. She was not that knowledgeable about using Excel. Plus, I was having to coach her on the techniques that made the spreadsheet work. That was when I made the decision to write a program so that I, and anyone else who is interested, would have a readily available, easy to use tool for simplifying management of their personal cash flow.

You also can achieve financial peace of mind. It’s easy if you are willing to make a few simple lifestyle changes including using a personal cash flow management tool that is based on the two decoupling techniques discussed above.

How to Finance a Car With No Credit History?

It is not everybody’s desire to have a bad credit as nobody wishes to have it. People consider themselves unlucky to have poor credit rating or no credit history. This makes situations tough and prevents the individuals from getting loans. The situation could be tactfully handled to get approval for the loans. Lenders find it difficult to finance for a car with no credit rating. The proposals will be scrutinized in a detailed manner and the individual’s credit history and other information are scanned through. Borrowers do not have to worry much about getting loans for their dream cars. Here are some tips on how to find the funds to fulfill the dream.

Process of Kick Starting
Take a look at the credit history before shopping for the cars. A detailed analysis will help in knowing the true credit history and plans should be made according to the results. It is important to open a checking account if it has not been done already.

Down Payment
People with no credit are being treated very much like the ones having bad credit by the financial institutions. A larger down payment will reduce the risk involved in obtaining the loan and subsequently offer lower interest rates.

Skillful Research
A skillful research about the various lenders should be done. The knowledge on various benefits and restrictions must be gathered to finance a car with no credit history. Subprime lenders provide assistance to people with adverse credits. An online search will bring all the information to the table with just few clicks of the mouse.

Study the Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions must be read carefully to understand the rules of the lenders and other finer details about the loan amount. The conditions must be scanned through properly in evaluating any hidden charges. It is better to decide about the affordable monthly package and then look for the loan amount with the lenders.

Pre-approved funds
It is important to have pre-approved funds on having a settlement with the lender. Online portals will help in saving time and money as the expenses involved are less. On getting the approval, one can happily shop like a cash buyer. This could even be done by an individual agent or any local dealers.

Think Refinance
Refinancing is a good option to finance a car with no credit score. If the borrowers find a less than ideal loan rate, refinancing the loan in a couple of years can do magic. The individuals can take the remaining time to build up a good credit history by making regular payments. This might even open the doorways to obtain a credit card by constantly building up a good credit history.

These are some of the basic and foremost tips to be remembered to finance a car with no credit history. The entire process might seem to be cumbersome but it is not the truth. It is easy to get a car loan with poor or no credit history and the borrowers must be willing to do some research in understanding the different lenders who can offer the tailor made solutions for them.

A Brief History of Real Estate: The Fee Simple Ownership

Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), Duke of Wellington, is reputed to have been the one to exclaim ‘All good things come from England, but cavalry is not one of them’ while facing Napoleon’s French Army at Waterloo on June 18, 1815. Wellesley had learnt his military trade in India applying his study of the art of war and had became a master of the reverse-slope tactic – keeping his forces screened from artillery fire behind the brow of a hill. At Waterloo, however, Wellesley’s Armies were outwitted by Napoleon. The French Emperor had imitated Wellesley’s tactics by positioning 200 heavy artillery guns behind a ridge at La Haye Sainte. When the Hussars and Dragoons cavalrymen led by Lord Uxbridge attacked in the famous Charge of the Scots Greys, Napoleon commanded the guns on the topline of the ridge and one of the epic artillery bombardments in history began. It was at this very moment, at the height of the Charge and while his 3,000 cavalrymen were being slaughtered by the rapid artillery fire of Napoleon’s heavy guns, that the phlegmatic English General is reputed to have exclaimed his now famous remark, directed at Lord Uxbridge who had apparently ordered the Charge without Wellesley knowing it. The day was saved by Gebhard von Blucher (1742-1819), Field Marshal of Prussia, who led the assault of the Kaiser’s Prussian Cavalry against the French right wing, thus causing the entire French line to collapse.

Wellesley’s famous remark has been retouched several times throughout the years, depending on one’s point of view. The British dropped the second part – the reference to the ill-fated cavalry charge – thus creating the popular short version ‘All good things come from England’ – period. When about a century later Britain had the unwise idea of attacking the Ottoman Empire and the British and French Armies were fighting the Turks side-by-side in WWI, General Mustapha Kemal – the English-speaking Commander of the Turkish Garrison and victorious defender of Gallipoli – paraphrased the English dictum after 289 days of siege by turning it, somewhat deprecatingly, into: “No good things ever come from England”. And Mahatma Gandhi throughout his teachings of non-violent conflicts resolutions makes reference to the fact that “All good things come from India”.

Alas, no matter what your point of view is, I shall submit to readers of my Blog that “at least two good things comes from England” : Fee Simple Ownership and Organized Real Estate.

English real estate law (or ‘Estate Law’ as it was known back then) was imported, through colonization, into the earlier forms of law in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Many of these states, or their territories, have since modified this historical law, to varying degrees. A study of the old feudal land system of England provides us with an invaluable glimpse of legal history regulating the most valuable asset of them all: land. In medieval times, land was the sole form of wealth and it depended primarily on possession. You had it, you owned it. You wanted it, you fought for it. You found it, you kept it. There were no courts or police force ready to recognize or enforce “legal rights” as we know them today. All this changed with the Norman conquest of England in 1066. William decreed that he owned all of the land in England by right of conquest. Not one acre of England was to be exempted from this massive expropriation. This sudden vacuum of privately-held land was promptly filled by a variety of huge land grants given by the new King to either his Norman officers or to those of the English who were ready to recognize him as king. The device used by the King to control and administer his land was that of tenure. Tenure was the key component of the feudal system. The King struck a bargain with a Lord for a large chunk of land. The Lords that held their tenure directly from the King were called Tenants-in-chief. It was this group of persons who formed the basis of English aristocracy and began, by the process of subletting the King’s land, the implementation of the feudal system.

Tenures were of a variety of duration known as “estates” and the Fee Simple Estate was the most extensive and allowed the Tenant to sell or to convey by will or be transferred to the Tenant’s heir if he died. In modern law, almost all land is held in fee simple and this is as close as one can get to absolute ownership in common law. It was in this context that the British began their dominion over the seas and their explorations which led to the modern nations of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America. The concept of developing an informal association of local real estate agents originated in the United States in the 1880s, and by the turn of the century about 15 Real Estate Boards had been established. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) was formed in the U.S. in 1908 with 19 boards and one state association. Organized real estate in Canada is almost as old as the country itself. The very first Real Estate Board was set up in 1888 in the growing community of Vancouver. Back then, a commercial lot on Hornby Street near the Hotel Vancouver sold for $600. The Vancouver Board – as it was known then – was active until the start of the First World War, when operations were suspended. It resumed in 1919, and has been operating ever since.

The distinction of the oldest, continuous running Board belongs to Winnipeg, Manitoba. It started in 1903, and the Winnipeg Real Estate Board was the first in Canada to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The Toronto Board was incorporated in 1920, followed by boards in Ottawa, Hamilton, Regina and Victoria in 1921. More than half of the existing Real Estate Boards in Canada were created after 1955, in part because of the evolution of the “Photo Co-Op System” that was introduced in 1951. That was the forerunner of today’s MLS®, introduced in 1962. The Co-op System not only created a need for an organization to establish rules and promote co-operation among agents, but also to provide funds to operate a real estate board. That’s when technology first changed the real estate industry.

History of Social Networking Marketing

When we talk about a social network, especially if we relate it to the virtual scenario, it is usually a website where people can connect with everyone. Social networking marketing sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter are becoming the talk of the town, particularly to the marketers, since they can benefit by interacting with potential customers through the site tools and features, like groups and fan pages. There are many possibilities and challenges waiting in the world of social networking. Each user within their individual sites has their own opportunities in the commercial actions.

The pedigree of online social networking can be traced back to the 1980s bulletin board systems. The system will permit the user to log in and then share information, software, and data. It can also allow sending private messages and posting message boards in public settings. Most of the sending and posting processes was done in local communities.

Then desktop applications became famous during the ’80s and ’90s., There were some features that were far more developed than bulletin board systems. These systems let users connect to the internet and make profiles, do chats, post events and send private or public messages. When the social networking marketing became web-based applications since the World Wide Web became so popular, it worked with certain purposes and audiences. During the ’90s, different networking sites were created and became popular sites with their own niches. Then in 1999, there were different launches of more targeted networks.

Not until 2002 when the start of the modern period of social networking arises, and Friendster was launched. It was originally a dating site that does not want to be doing dating. It became the biggest mistake in financing history since the site rejected millions of dollars buyout offered by Google. Then the time of another networking site emerges during 2003 when so many employees in a marketing company were sued because of malicious spyware applications. It actually duplicated the main functionalities of Friendster. This networking site became MySpace. It became the leading online social networking marketing site because of its features. Its user profiles have customizable functionalities and it focuses more on music, which is most people love it especially the young ones. It also had high quality image compared with its rival.

After a year, a certain networking site was launched as an exclusive site for Harvard students. Then from time to time it was allowed to be joined by other colleges and high schools. And finally, by 2006, it officially runs as long as you sign it up with email address. Until 2008, the site overtook the position of other leading sites and became the most popular social networking marketing site ever. Social networking marketing is an inexpensive way to market your business and inform prospective customers about the products and services you are marketing. All you need to build your network is to, add and follow friends with the same interests you have or even those who have other interests but which you think can benefit from your business.

Finding Financing For Your Home

There are a few traditional places to start you search for the proper financing. Many people like using their savings. Using savings to finance a new home is a great way to finance a new home for a couple of reasons. Some retirement plans have clauses written into them that will not penalize you to withdraw funds to cover the purchase of a new home. The bank you do business with is another food financing source. Because your banks knows your financing history, they have more data to use in deciding whether to offer you favorable terms. So, make sure that your relationship with your bank is strong and be prepared to fill out tons of forms.

If this is going to be a joint loan, both parties must be present. Typically the bank will not process the loan without both parties present and will generally not accept a power of attorney unless it is specifically written for the specific purpose of securing a mortgage loan. The bank is going to be looking at the information to assess the probability that you will pay your loan back in full, so honesty is a must.

One metric that will be considered is your debt to income ratio. This is a comparison of the difference of how much money you make each month versus your monthly expenditures. It is better to have a low debt to income ratio. Credit score is another way to determine whether debt will be repaid on time. These combined factors will determine if a loan is possible. If the bank decides that a loan is not in their best interest, then there are still other options for financing.

Other methods of securing financing for your new home are usually going to have a high interest rate and will require higher up front costs. There are many non-traditional financing options available but buyer beware. These options include special finance companies and capital gains investment companies, but they are hard money lenders. Hard money lenders usually only finance 60-70% of the loan value of the home and the interest rates can be much higher than commercial banks. Commercial banks never write hard money loans. There will be many legal forms that you will have to review.

Make sure that you read and understand everything before you sign it. If you have any questions about your terms, it is very important tat you get them answered before you agree to anything. Using hard money loans may be the only option to secure financing for your new home. If this is something that has to be done, then refinancing down the road is always an option.

In closing, there are many different ways to acquire financing. If you have been smart with managing your money, then potential lenders will offer you favorable interest rates and terms. If you have not had the luxury of staying debt free, then make sure that you clearly understand the other alternatives to getting traditional financing.