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Hello and welcome to DrFrugal.com. If you've ever had the unfortunate experience of trying to find information online that has anything to do with money, you know most sites are worthless because they're trying to pawn something. Not here--there's nothing to buy. I've tried my best to only include pragmatic, realistic informtion to help you lead a simpler life by taking care of your personal finances.

Recent Entries/Articles

Food Trucking: Are you overspending on food·

If you aren't able to save money on a monthly basis, you'll most likely comb through expenses in the hopes you'll see some sort of purchase that stands out more than others, perhaps even something you can cut immediately from your budget.

More often than not, you can look to things such as getting your hair done, high and expendable utilities such as cable or phone, or even the shopping spree you treat yourself to every other week when you get paid.

But most thoughts don't center on food, but perhaps they should.

Overspending isn't just about buying clothes and shoes, DVD's and gadgets, like you'd assume, but also can center on the propensity to spend far too much on food, and if you're someone who is doing this, there's good news and bad news.

The bad news is the money you've spent is long gone and can't be retrieved any time soon, but ironically the good news is that you can adjust how you spend as long as you realize that you're willing to admit that is an issue.

The average nationally for monthly expenses on food is around $400, so right away if you're eclipsing that number, you should have some concern. A family of four is around $600 so those numbers should allow you to plan accordingly and also take a look at receipts for what you're spending at the moment.

Going over that can happen, say if you're throwing a party or something of that ilk, but generally speaking that number is pretty spot on where you should be each month.

A huge pitfall is not only spending between $400 and $600 per month but also on top of that spending additional money on take out food or dining out to eat. If you're properly putting together a grocery list, you shouldn't need any more than what you're buying that goes in the cupboards or fridge, other than the occasional date night, for example.

Believe it or not, some statistics show that the average person spend their $400 per month on groceries and an even larger amount on take out food or restaurant dining. Imagine a food bill in total each month that is nearly $1,000, a number that quite frankly seems staggering when you consider it's just one thing: food.

Food is a necessity and that point can't be argued, but the way you spend and how much you spend to attain it certainly can and should be if the numbers simply aren't computing properly.

.... Keep Reading

Resolving Doors: How to fix finances for new year

When it comes to resolutions for the new year, two items are at the top of everyone's list: health and money.

And when it comes to money and stressing out about it, those two go hand in hand.

For most, "health" is defined as that bid for the new year to finally start eating right, lose weight and just get in better shape.

Why can't the same be said for yourself financially· Ask yourself the question, are you financially fit as well·

Most of the time that answer is met with a lackluster response or plenty of disappointment, since you're nowhere near where you want to be as far as money goes, specifically how you spend and what you've been able to save.

The new year gives you hope, much the same way you're hoping to drop a few dress or pants sizes, you also can turnaround your belief that saving money is only for those who make a lot of money or have an extraordinary minimal amount of expenses.

But as far as money goes as it relates to day to day life or the new year, you can always be certain that one aspect of saving goes a long way: budgeting.

Being able to look in the mirror and say you have a budget and it is one that you follow and also monitor closely is the true pathway to financial freedom. A lot of people will tell you they have a budget but really that's more lip service than actually practicality at work. Having a budget is only as good as how realistic it is and if it is all inclusive (that means incidental expenses also have to be accounted for as well).

Your budget and your wanting and willingness to save only exceeds another part of your financial wellness: your credit, debt and score.

Your credit score is something you should not only know but monitor. Knowing your score means more than just rattling off three digits but also checking that score periodically for mistakes, for starters, but also so that you know how to begin fixing it, whether you have too much debt overall or your debt utilization is too high, and you have to start thinking about paying down some of your credit cards, for example.

Being prepared for the new year can center on resolutions, but those often don't last for more than a few months (remember that gym membership you purchased in January and canceled in March·).

That doesn't mean, financially, you can't start the new year on the right track but more importantly have it last beyond just these next 12 months and instead usher in a lifetime of smart money decisions.

.... Keep Reading

Early Burden: Why smart money practices should start right away

When you were younger, you mostly likely heard from your parents, grandparents or any adult how to properly do things, whether it was holding a fork correctly or saying "thank you" whenever the situation called for it.

At the time, the explanation was perhaps either non existent or curt, but the overwhelmingly common theme couldn't be overlooked: it was done so that the good habits became like second nature or routine to the point that they're embedded in all you do.

For every piece of silverware you hold or modest gift you receive, you either held that fork properly and displayed graciousness for even the most inconsequential sequence of events, and you did so because you learned it over and over again, without fail, and never looked back.

The question remains, quite honestly, why money can't be that way too· The truth is those who have learned how to spend, save and budget money properly as a result learning, listening and doing are more apt to be successful at all of those financial aspects for their entire life.

The key is learning how to do it at a young age and, like your silverware and thank you's, never thought to change a thing.

The statistics are encouraging, if nothing else. About 60 percent of those between the ages of 20 to 32 have a budget and stick to it, something that seems a little out of place due to just how poor the average savings account is (around $1,000 for that same 60 percent). That $1,000 number might reflect those older than 32, most of which you'd assume never learned the value of a dollar, how to save and then spend accordingly.

The 60 percent of those 20 to 32 year old individuals would suggest that budgeting and knowing just how paramount it is as far as saving money goes doesn't go unnoticed by that particular demographic. The more than half of those individuals in that age group who are budgeting and saving bring great hope to a lagging average as far as money saved is concerned.

Being able to budget and save money when you're young is no different than anything else that becomes routine, financially speaking. If you're always used to not having a car payment or buying used instead of new, why change that· The same goes for rent: if your rent is always kept modest, why would the mortgage on your first house be any different.

Learning how to handle money when you're between 20 and your early 30s allows you to be the same kid who was taught how to not slouch at dinner or talk with food in your mouth and grew up being mindful of those same requests.

Money shouldn't be any different.

.... Keep Reading

Number One: Why your credit score is so important

Do you ever find yourself, from one day to the next, overlooking one key piece of financial information·

Sure, you might have your eyes squarely set on a better budgeting process, cutting some expenses and even making sure you're padding your retirement to the best of your ability. But perhaps as part of all this improvement process as it relates to money, you've forgotten about three very important digits.

Say hello to your credit score.

This three digit number is your code to financial freedom that you wouldn't believe, and your credit score almost is the summary of all you done money wise. That score reflects everything from your debt to income ratio, how much debt you carry versus your debt ceiling (often referred to as debt utilization) and if you're a liability as a borrower in the eyes of a lender.

The lending part is extremely paramount when you consider aspirations of buying a house or car and wanting to have an interest rate that isn't out of the realm of what the going rate is at the moment.

The reason the credit score gets overlooked is because it's not your bank account and isn't as highly visible as it should be. In order to keep your score at a point where you'll be looked upon by potential lenders as a viable candidate for a loan, you don't have to do anything crazy or be all consumed with knowing your score.

What needs to happen are two very distinct and relatively simple things: check your report and don't miss any payments.

Granted, you want to stay on top of other aspects of debt and credit, such as having too much of the former and thus negatively affecting the latter. You also have to make certain you're not carrying a balance on a credit card that is too close to what the total amount owed would be, such as a $10,000 card limit with $9,000 of a balance.

But to keep things easy, make sure (even if it is the minimum amount due) that you're always paying your debt and credit on time. Paying late is going to put a serious dent in that score and if that late payment reaches 30 days, it also will extend into your report and not only knock down your score significantly but also become an amount of money that will go through a collection company.

And if you're not consistently checking your report, how will you know if it is accurate or not· Credit scores and reporting can have mistakes on them, so being up to date on that score and the information that comprises it is key.

In the midst of your budget preparation, expense auditing and other money related matters, don't forget about the all important credit score and how it can impact your finances just as much as anything else.

.... Keep Reading

Missed Opportunities: Are you missing out on saving money·

For those individuals who believe saving money is simply an exercise in income versus expenses, you're not wrong.

You just have financial tunnel vision.

By that, you are focused on budgeting in the purest sense, and there's nothing wrong with that mentality whatsoever. In fact, if more individuals had that, at the very least, down pat, you'd have more than 50 percent of the population with an average of a $1,000 in a savings account.

But if you're just focusing on budgeting, you might be missing out on lost money along the way. Sure, you have to have the budget and always fine tune the process, making sure you don't forget odds and ends and incidental expenses along the way, but saving money also is about thinking outside of the proverbial box.

If you're intent on saving money, start first by examining exactly what you're paying on, more specifically if the interest rates or rates in general you're getting are the very best. Often times, refinancing a home, for example, can save you thousands of dollars per year or hundreds more per month, and that gives you an opportunity to save that money for retirement or just start building a savings account. Also, you can use that additional income to pay down credit card debt.

In addition to interest rates, have you looked at those aforementioned incidental expense and if you truly need them. Yes, they're expenses but are they necessities, and often time the water is seriously muddied with this particular discussion.

A want is something that you can live without, in the simplest terms. If you're looking at things like coffee every day or eating out for lunch three times a week as a necessity, you might have those terms mixed up. Sure, the coffee is nice and not having to worry about actually packing a lunch is equally convenient, but doesn't replace the fact that you have coffee and food at home that can be brewed and prepped, respectively, to avoid spending additional money on each of them every day.

Convenience truly is the kryptonite of saving money. Not having to worry about making dinner, thawing out food or packing a lunch the night before is what leads to the average person spending nearly $500 per month on take out food, and that $6,000 per year is a huge chunk of change that you're out after 12 months of spending money unnecessarily.

These are examples of missing out on saving money, losing that opportunity when afforded it to keep the money in your pocket, due to bad habits or not thinking about money in a more multi dimensional way.

.... Keep Reading


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