Get Control Of Your Personal Finance With A Budget

It is fairly common knowledge that money matters can be simplified and controlled with a budget. One of the keys to personal finance management is creating and using a household budget. It is not a really hard task, but one that many people avoid. The reason is that it can often be hard to avoid overspending and having a budget really puts spending problems out there.

A budget is basically a list of expenses and income. It should include all expenses, even the seemingly little expenses like a morning coffee purchase. The budget can be made out weekly or monthly, whatever way is best for the household. For someone who gets paid once a week, a weekly budget may be best. For someone who gets paid once a month, a monthly budget would work nicely. Although, it is really a matter of personal choice as to how the budget is made out.

The income section of a budget is usually fairly simple. Most people can easily track their income. Some people choose to list their income after taxes, while others list the income before taxes and include taxes as a expense. That is strictly a matter of choice.

The expenses section is where most people have trouble. It can be hard to see our spending habits in black and white. It is really important, though, to be honest and list everything. You may find it is helpful to keep a spending log for a week. Your spending log is where you will write down every purchase you make. This can be a good way of tracking all the little expenses you incur throughout a week.

Your expenses section of your budget should also include utilities and housing expenses. If you have a car payment, include here as well. You need to include money spent on gasoline, bathroom items, food and any other thing you spend money on. You do not have to include large, one time purchases, though, as they are not a routine part of your expenses.

Once you have your income and expenses listed you need to add each up. The total of your expenses should not exceed the total of your income. If it does then you need to cut back on your expenses. You may have to stop some spending or try to find creative ways of reducing your spending.

The whole idea of a budget is to ensure that you are not spending more then you are earning. Your budget is a blueprint for how you should be spending your money. Once you have your budget made out and it is balanced you need to stick to it. Only spend as much as you have allotted in your expenses and you should find your personal finance situation becomes much easier to deal with.

Understanding Your Current Personal Finance Situation

It is important: understanding your current personal finance situation is something that every person needs to do. By understanding what is going on with your personal finances you will be able to better control them. This can be one of the best ways to avoid money problems and debt.

Getting started is the hardest part. It can seem almost impossible to figure out where to begin when tackling finance issues. The best place to start is to simply look at expenses and income.

As the staples of a good budget, something every person should have, expenses and income are the main financial issues a person needs to understand. To begin you should gather all the relevant information. You may want to get bills, pay stubs and anything else that could help you list out your expenses and income.

The first thing to do is to track your daily expenses. This includes eating out, shopping and gasoline. You want to include these on your expenses list. You may need to gather receipts or actually keep a log for a week to be able to come up with an accurate account of your daily expenses.

Write out a list of expenses and then write out your list of income. At this point you should concern yourself with ensuring everything is listed. If your expenses or income vary then try to get a good average. You should have expenses separated into daily expenses and monthly expenses so you can see where your money is really going. Plus this will help when you go to budget your money.

Now you can begin to look at your debt. You should make out a list of your creditors. Your list should include the creditors contact information, the balance of your debt and the interest rate.

Now you should look at your personal finance accounts. This includes things like checking, savings and stocks. You want to list them all, including their current value or balance.

After going through your expenses, income, debt and personal finance accounts you should have a fairly good idea of where your personal finance matters stand. This should be a great platform for you to build upon to get your personal finances in good order. From this information you should be able to create a budget, get debt under control and best manage your personal finance accounts. You should be able to get the big picture about your personal finance situation and to understand it completely.

The 7 Steps Of Do-it-yourself Financial Planning

You are in control

You are already your own financial planner. Regardless of the extent of help you receive from professionals, you ultimately are the decision maker and you are responsible for your own finances. Although the financial world has become increasingly complex, it is becoming easier today to do a lot of your own planning. The variety of resources has expanded such as software for money management and planning; online tools for banking, financial planning and investing, and resources, and books and blogs that are easy to understand. These resources may be good news for you if the cost of professional fee only financial planners is out-of-reach to you. Besides the cost of fees, others may avoid planners because they have heard stories of advisors trying to sell a product that didn’t fit their situation. Cost savings and avoiding product pitches are excellent benefits of being your own planner.

Everyone should take a more active role in their financial affairs. Not only does it help with educated decision making and fraud avoidance it also helps you better communicate with your other professional advisors such as your accountant and attorney. You will also find yourself spotting opportunities when they cross your path.

Becoming a better manager of your family’s finances will also help you ‘dig out’ if you are struggling financially. When you consider the low savings rates and the high household debt, many more people find themselves in this category today.

The following are 7 steps to do-it-yourself financial planning:

Step 1: Commit

The first step to financial planning always begins with commitment. Whether you are having financial difficulty, or have just avoided setting goals and mapping out a plan – commitment is the first step. Commitment provides the discipline and focus needed to help sustain you on the path towards your goals.

Step 2: Set Goals

Without specific goals and a plan to achieve them financial success stays a foggy dream. Therefore the second step is to list the dreams that will motivate you. Write down all of the goals you want to achieve in the short and long term. This will serve as the driver, or the fire in the engine giving you the motivation to move forward. Everyone has dreams, but without constant watering and attention dreams will go dormant. Leave your past mistakes and inaction behind you, light a new fire and chart a course forward. You have an enormous amount of potential and talent, and if you have made mistakes you now have more experience and wisdom. Dare to imagine what you could achieve because your best years are ahead of you.

Step 3: Assemble and Organize Information

Get your stuff together. Planning is easier if you assemble everything in one central location. Make an organized filing system either in a cabinet, accordion file, a box, any way that works for you. Now locate and file all of your tax returns, receipts, insurance policies, contracts, wills, mortgages, deeds, titles, pay stubs, employee benefit statements, banking (loan, savings and checking), bills, investment and retirement plan statements and any other important papers.

Step 4: Manage Cash Flow

Your household is a business. You need to know how much you are earning and spending each month. Balance your checkbook and establish a budget. There are dozens of books and software to help with this, and your bank’s website may provide this as well. This will help you know when and where you are overspending.

Step 5: Self Educate

Establish a sound foundational knowledge base about financial matters. Start with books about budgeting and money savings tips, debt, basic insurance and investing. Be sure to include reading about mutual funds and financial planning. Avoid get-rich-quick, real estate, gold or innovative ‘secrets’ books. Stick to the fundamentals. I find the “For Dummies, ‘For Idiots’ and ‘D-Mystified’ book series to be very helpful for many people. Lastly, stay informed about current financial topics by reading financial magazines, newspapers, the business section of papers, and blogs.

Step 6: Create a Written Plan

A written plan serves as a road map towards your financial destination. It helps you understand where you are presently and the steps that you need to take to move forward. A financial plan is a process. Your life will change, therefore you should revisit your financial plan at least once a year to make any updates or to include items in your checklist for completion. You should revisit your financial plan at least once a year to make any updates or to include items in your checklist for completion. If you write your own financial plan, you will have to obtain financial planning software. Your other options are to pay to have a written financial plan completed by a fee financial planner or by an institution or professional that provides products. Be sure to find out about how the planner is compensated and what your fees will be.

Step 7: Engage Professionals

Most people can’t entirely do all of their financial planning by themselves. Assemble a team of trusted professional advisors that you can rely on to help you implement different aspects of your plan, answer your questions and be on the lookout for you. The professionals that can be the most advantageous are a proactive tax accountant and financial advisor with extensive planning, investment and insurance knowledge, an attorney qualified in estate planning, and a banker that can help with credit ratings and debt management. Before committing to anyone, get referrals for trusted professionals from people whose opinion you respect and don’t be afraid to ask challenging questions.

Creating A Personal Finance Spreadsheet

One of the biggest challenges we face as adults is balancing a budget. Creating a personal finance spreadsheet can be one of

the most valuable steps you can take to tackling this challenge head on. Even if you start with a simple format and a few details you can be well on your way to financial organization which can lead to financial security in the long run.

There are different methods for creating a personal finance spreadsheet and the decision on which to choose depends greatly

on your personality in general. Many people like to keep record in a computer program like Excel. This is a wonderful way to

stay organized while making a sound personal financial spreadsheet that is professional grade quality.

The Excel program is great because it allows you to work from a clean template. You have control of the input and you can

cater your personal financial spreadsheet to your needs. Many of us have no idea how to use this program but it really takes

just a few minutes to master and the results are great.

You can also use a program like Quicken to create a personal finance spreadsheet. This kind of program comes highly

recommended for any individual who is serious about keeping track of all of his incoming and outgoing funds. The personal

finance spreadsheet that you can produce from a program like Quicken will put your accountant to shame.

Many of us love the idea of keeping strict records of our spending habits and we really like the idea of a sound budget.

However, we don’t like to work on the computer any more than we have to. If you spend all day at work at the monitor the last

thing you want to do is go home and work on a personal finance spreadsheet on your personal computer.

There are those of us who are just not likely to keep things up to date when using this kind of personal finance spreadsheet. These individuals may embrace more traditional, hands on approach to keeping a budget record up to date. There are many items available at office supply stores to meet the traditional needs as well.

One thing to remember when it comes to your personal finance spreadsheet; if you are in a partnership or a marriage it is

crucial to keep the lines of communication open. No personal finance spreadsheet will help you become clairvoyant. Good

Video Games Becoming Addictive To Children

Parents, teachers, and adults are beginning to wonder with all the research being done on video games if children are not becoming obsessive even addictive to video games. Most of the research that has been complete have focused on video games that have more of a violent theme due to the behavior now appearing in children.

Researchers do feel that there is a connection between violent video games and violent behavior in children. It is felt that when these violent video games are played repeatedly then the children will have aggressive thoughts and become less helpful to others and less sociable as well. In video games where the goal is to kill as many characters as you possible can, then the objective turns into the violent the kills are the more points that they will collect. While a child is playing such a game ninety-nine percent of the time their heart rate will increase dramatically due to the affect the game is having on them.

A study was done by three teenagers and was put on observation at an International Science and Engineering Fair in Cleveland, Ohio that showed how video games affected children who played them. The study showed that people, not only children, or all ages had a rise in blood pressure and heart rate after they played a super violent video game. However, when the same person played a nonviolent video game did not have the the same effect as the violent video game.

Children all over the world play these violent video games every day and some play for more than three or four hours a day. There will always be a debate as to whether violent video games can actually make an individual have behavior that is of an aggressive and violent nature, but the fact is that these video games are addictive to children. It is true that playing video games can help children develop their visual skills while learning about computers, which may help them in school. In fact, studies are now showing that video games can be helpful for children.

The fact is that video games are proving to help children that labeled ADD or ADHD learn how to focus their attention. Video games are often innocent bystanders to the problems in society. Video games have the potential to inspire children to learn if it is presented in the right manner to children. Video games have already proven to have the capability of improving the coordination and visual skills of children that play them.

Children tend to choose video games that have the combination of being challenging, entertaining, and complicated. Many of these video games can take up to one hundred hours of play to complete and most children will have their concentration focused on the video game the entire time. Children that are labeled with ADD and ADHD by teachers are those children that can not sit still in school, but this might just be because they find the school work boring, because the majority of these children can spend hours trying to make it to the next level of a video game.

These same children, who professionals feel can not pay attention, can play a video game for ten straight hours if given the opportunity simply because the game focuses their attention in a way school is unable to try, which is interactive. These children are not simply sitting and watching, but are participating in what is going on and solving problems.

I Have A Problem Gambling And I Have Lost Everything

To often compulsive gamblers utter the words I am have a problem gambling and now I lost everything. At this point in their life they are finally ready to admit they have a problem gambling. These same people are increasing at an alarming rate.

Only a year ago things seem to be less dramatic then they are right now when it comes to gambling addiction. The accelerated growth in this addiction is paralleled to the growth in the gaming industry. Since a significant number of our population have now been exposed to this gaming industry the negative affects are more apparent. Each and every day we hear a new story about someone who has lost everything due to their gambling addiction and we may now know someone who also has been negatively affected.

Now that we know people are addicted to gambling, what should we do? This is a very difficult question to answer but I believe education and awareness can help those inflicted with this self destructive addiction. Unfortunately gambling addiction also affects all those around the compulsive gambler.

I have received several emails from people who believe their solutions would help decrease the accelerated growth of those addicted to gambling. The following are examples of those emails:

We should outlaw all forms of gambling.

The gamming industry needed rules and regulations that they must adhere to like the alcohol industry.

At the very least remove all ATM machines from gambling establishments especially casinos that have slot machines.

No Check cashing allowed at any gaming establishments

No alcohol should be allowed in casinos

Gambling establishments should not be allowed to use the postal service to send incentives for people to come to their place to gamble. Most people are easy prey. The gambling establishments send a fifty dollar gift certificate knowing the gambler is going to spend a at least ten times that amount.

No large billboard advertising. This industry makes their money by drawing on the innocent only to hook them and take everything they have worked so hard for.

No commercial advertising, donating to charities or sponsoring of the local news.

The above email comments are from those who have suffered directly to the the gaming industry. Remember it is not only the gambler but their family and friends who also have been negatively affected. They are biased and they have a right to be.

Remember these words I have a problem gambling and I have lost everything. because this could be you or your family member. If you even have the slightest notion you have a problem gambling, face it straight on and take the appropriate action. You can recover before you lose everything you have worked so hard for.

If you are have lost everything, you can rebuild your life and move forward. There are so many people who have walked in your shoes. I know this can be very painful, but with each day that passes as you begin your road to recovery you life will get brighter and brighter.

Why Real Estate Investing Will Always Be Very Profitable

In recent months there has been a lot of talk about a crash in the real estate market.

Analysts predict a housing bust. News reports indicate that home sales are declining in several markets all over the country. This paints the picture that real estate investing is no longer a lucrative business. Investors all over the country are advised to get out of the game as quickly as possible to avoid losses.

What analysts and news reports don’t tell you is that every decade for the past forty years there has been some kind of warning about a crash in the real estate market. Each time these warning come out, people begin to mistrust real estate investing.

They turn their sights to other forms of investing. Analysts to preach this gloom and doom on the real estate market also do not understand that real estate investing is much different than stock investing. The same rules and trends do not apply.

Every decade when analysts state their predictions for a real estate market crash there are some real estate investors who heed this advice. These investors eventually regret doing so once they realize that there was no cause for alarm in real estate investing. Smart investors, on the other hand, realize that there is always money to be made in real estate investing and they know exactly why.

Humans have only a few basic needs. These basic needs never change, they never go away. These needs include food, clothing, and shelter.

The constant need for shelter lies at the root of the reason that real estate investing will remain profitable. Of course, there are some other key elements, but the least you need to know is that humans will always need real estate.

Even if real estate somehow dwindles from a structure with walls and a roof to a measly hole in the ground, it is still considered shelter. Someone has to provide these holes in the ground. Some holes will end up being better than other holes. Some people will have the means to buy and sell multiple holes. Real estate investing will continue to exist.

The real estate market alone will never experience a crash. In all the years that real estate has been around, the market has never crashed. The only time you will see a negative impact on the entire real estate market is when the general market experiences a downfall as well. However, when this happens, the value of all other commodities will decrease at the same time. Even in this case, real estate investing can still prove to be profitable.

You might see a local real estate market decline as a result of another catastrophe, such as New Orleans in the case of Hurricane Katrina. Because of a natural disaster, the majority of the real estate in the area was lost. There were no properties for homeowners to purchase. A key thing to know in real estate investing is that local markets always correct themselves. The disastrous loss in the New Orleans area created a huge opportunity for real estate investing.

Although the real estate markets in various cities might fluctuate from time to time, the real estate market as a whole will never experience a serious decline. This is the reason that real estate investing will remain a lucrative form of investing.

Chicago’s Magnificent Miracle Mile The Hottest Commercial Real Estate In The Midwest

Can you afford commercial real estate on the Chicago Magnificent Mile? If you can, your business will be in good company, and you can make a lot of money!

A festival of restaurant dining, theater and jazz experiences, shopping, hotels and entertainment, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is abuzz with activity from Spring through Fall, and those merchants and commercial vendors who are lucky and wealthy enough to rent space in Chicago’s most productive real estate market, are the fortunate recipients of some pretty hefty income.

The Magnificent Mile stretches from Randolph Street to North Avenue and from Lake Michigan to the North Branch Canal, and it is Chicago’s most expensive commercial real estate.

The landscape is flush with fancy hotels including the Inter-Continental, the Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, Omni, Le Meridian, Hyatt, Wyndham, the Westin, the famous Whitehall and many other world-renowned hotels share this prestigious real estate, and the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association manages the business district.

Within this precious Chicago real estate, street festivals, garden shows, food festivals and other events are planned, all to bring local residents and tourists to spend their entertainment dollars.

Along this stretch of expensive real estate you can also find posh, formal restaurants like Les Nomades, and NoMi intriguing international restaurants where you can find Brazilian, East Indian, French, Italian and cuisines from many countries around the world.

The Chicago Shakespeare Company is also in residence in the Magnificent Mile of Chicago Real Estate, as are a number of jazz clubs and galleries like Kenneth Probst, Peter Bartlow and R.S. Johnson, selling fine art, antiquities and much more.

Water Tower Place, the Shops at North Bridge, Chicago Place and the North Michigan Shops also offer commercial real estate opportunities in well-advertised storefronts, malls and real estate centers.

If you are looking for commercial real estate in this area of Chicago, be sure you employ a reputable broker. Rents are high and real estate is precious. Options to extend commercial leases and expansion options to take on more space will come at a premium in this real estate market.

Upscale brokers like Gordon McAdam, Property Management companies like Zeller, and Executive Suite brokers like AMATA deal in finding and leasing commercial real estate and space to businesses in this area.

If you are looking for Chicago real estate on the Magnificent Mile, be sure you find a company that will work with you to assess your square footage requirements, and do an office or building search that will take into consideration the ideal location for your type of business.

These companies can also help you analyze the commercial lease you will be asked to sign and negotiate more favorable terms. Some have partners that offer architectural and build-out services for your real estate needs, and even move-in and utility hook-up services.

If you DO rent commercial real estate along the prestigious Magnificent Mile in Chicago, make the most of your network by joining the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association. Membership in this business and real estate district association provides you the opportunity to participate in business-to-business marketing activities and to have your logo and business identify advertised and promoted in the Magnificent Mile events and activities.

The Board of Director’s for this Chicago real estate business district and association always includes prestigious hotel managers and business managers for large commercial vendors like Neiman-Marcus, as well as business district and service vendors who provide the local transportation. These are good people to know if you want to promote your business.

Get to know the individuals who share this small square of real estate with you and leverage their connections to help you make more money and pay that steep rent bill every month.

Per square mile, this patch of Chicago real estate will produce more income for your business, but it will cost you a pretty penny to house your business here.

If you want to consider Chicago real estate with a slightly less onerous price tag, you can consider real estate in the Riverfront area, which is very near the Magnificent Mile and attracts lots of tourists. There are lots of events there and the overflow of shoppers and tourists from the Magnificent Mile is a definite advantage to renting commercial real estate in the area.

Some Of The Most Popular Card Games For Kids

It may surprise you to hear that kids can be entertained by products other than high-tech, high-dollar video game systems, DVDs, and television. They don’t have to spend their game-playing time blasting aliens, swinging digital golf clubs, and blowing up buildings. Amazing as it may sound, kids really do enjoy traditional games like board games and card games. Card games are a great way for you to spend more time with your children and get them away from the television. In addition to being fun, card games can be educational.

One such fun, educational card game for children is CardWord. The CardWord deck consists of cards with letters on them instead of numbers. The object of the game is to spell words. It’s challenging and educational.

Another fun, thought-provoking card game for kids which you’ve probably played yourself is Concentration. This can be played with a conventional deck or you can purchase specially made decks which feature fun pictures, words, numbers, etc. The cards are laid out face-down and the object is to find the matching cards. This game, of course, develops concentration, and almost every kid loves it.

Some other old favorites are Old Maid or Go Fish. Probably the most loved of all card games for kids is War. Kids of all ages can learn the simple rules to this game which can keep them occupied for as long as any video game.

One of the more acclaimed card games for kids is Apples to Apples Jr. This game consists of cards that on one side have red or green apples on them, and on the other side they have a word with its definition. The object of the game is to match the word on one card that best fits with the word on another. For example, if the word “beach” is laid down, then the winning card will likely be “sun” or “ocean”. The winner is determined by a player acting as judge. This allows for a lot of leeway.

Uno is a game almost everybody has played. Uno is great because it can be tailored to suit children of all ages. If your child is very young and not able to comprehend complex rules, you can ignore the cards which involve skipping turns, drawing extra cards, and you can ignore the wild cards. With older children, you can utilize the entire deck and you’re likely to find yourself in quite the Uno battle with your progeny. Be assured that even if you’re playing your best, you’ll lose to your kids sometimes, and they’ll love it!

Card games provide a wealth of educational and entertainment possibilities for children. Even at their most formative stages, children can learn about words and numbers from card games. Card games will improve their concentration and enhance their logical reasoning abilities.

Pronunciation: Get Better In Another Language

Pronunciation can affect how we communicate. Many people, who have had a go at learning a foreign language, have experienced that sinking feeling when they try a well-constructed sentence in another language only to be met with a blank face.

Why is this?

Languages are built on sounds. If I speak English and live in an English-speaking country I expect a speaker to say sounds in a particular way. In French or Spanish I would expect to hear different sounds. When we can’t recognise the sound we try and adjust how we are listening, a bit like tuning a radio, but if we can’t guess the sound, the chances are we won’t understand what is being said.

The Blocks of Pronunciation

Pronunciation has two main aspects to it, physically producing it and the sound that is produced from it, the hearing of the sound. As we get older the ability to do both of these, i.e. physically work out how to make the sound and recognise it, can diminish. This doesn’t mean we can’t continue to learn new languages but we need some extra tricks to help us.

Let’s look at some ideas on what we can do when we learn a new language.

How am I saying it?

Try saying the letters. Notice how your mouth is working. If you don’t know how a sound is physically made you may find it harder to say it.

What sounds are the same?

English has many more sounds than other languages but it also has a lot of sounds in common with other languages. Good dictionaries in a new language will usually offer an English sound or word to compare with. Use it to check what sounds are similar.

Which sounds are hard to say?

Go through the alphabet of the new language and mark out the ones you find hard to say. Give them some attention. Try and physically make the sound and see how your mouth works. Say the alphabet. Look at how children use the alphabet song in English to help them remember the alphabet, doing the same in a new language will also help memorise the letters and sounds.

Read out loud.

Find some reading form your course book or any other book. There are two advantages here. One you get to say the letters and words. Secondly you get to practise sounds that you expect to hear and you become accustomed to the sounds of the language.

How good do I need to be?

There is much discussion on this. For many of us the ability to get by in other languages is good enough. If we can say what we want, simply, slowly and the person we are speaking to, can understand us, then our pronunciation is probably good enough. After that it is a matter of choice. Some people become very good at other languages and get to very good levels of pronunciation. Not many of us are such gifted linguists but there’s no reason why we can’t make the words so that people can understand us.