Young Adult Blog Series: The Importance of Budgeting

So you’re all grown up and earning a steady paycheck—hooray!   Now it’s time to consider how you’re spending it.

If you’re trying to lead a better, smarter financial lifestyle, it’s important to understand how you’re using the money that you have. Having a budget for yourself is a simple way to help better manage your income. Tracking your income and expenses each month can shed light on bad spending habits and make you more accountable for where your money goes each month.

You can start a budget using old fashioned pen and paper, or if you’re more technologically inclined, Excel or Microsoft Money can be a good way to go. For smart phone users, there are many apps available like BUDGT or Mint that can help you keep track of your income and expenses from your smart phone.

As you start creating your budget, think about how much control you have over your expenses. Things like rent, taxes and insurance are probably pretty well set. Other expenses, like food, entertainment and gifts are more controllable. Just by thinking about these items, you may be able to find ways to spend less and save more. If nothing else, you can make judgments about which expenses are most important to you.

Generally speaking, a personal budget will enable you to understand where your money comes from and where it goes. With that understanding, you will be in a better position to make informed financial decisions, to monitor your spending and to potentially identify ways to spend less on some items so you have more to spend on more important things or to save.

Creating and maintaining a budget takes commitment, and sticking to your budget takes self-discipline. But remember that there are many different apps and programs available to help with budgeting so that wherever you go, you can take your good financial sense with you!

Ready to get started? Check out this article from Investopedia for more tips on getting started!

How to set (and stick to) a budget

How much do you spend? How much do you earn? If one equals the other, you’re in trouble. And, if you spend more than you earn, you’re in really big trouble.

The solution? Set a budget, and stick to it!

The goal? Live within your means, avoid falling off a cliff and into debt, and start saving https://www.cbtc.com/personal/savingsTypes.aspx?id=14 – for emergencies, special occasions, and for your future.

Easier said than done? No. All it takes is a little time, a little patience, and a little commitment. And, taking that first step.

Getting started
Check these 8 easy tips for creating a personal budget http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2013/10/18/8-steps-to-creating-a-personal-budget. Pay particular attention to Step #8: “Don’t set yourself up for failure. Making sacrifices is part of managing expenses, but if you set restrictions too high and too soon, you will be less likely to follow your budget over the long term.”

The first step to successful budgeting is knowing, and tracking, where your money goes. You can do it with pencil and paper, or consider one of the personal finance software programs http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneywisewomen/2012/01/03/budgeting-software-options/ such as Quicken or Mint.

Setting priorities
The second step is to set priorities. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson2/index4.htm Try to cut back your spending to about 90% of your income.

Stretching that dollar
If you think it’s impossible to save anything, or to save more than you’re saving now, you might be surprised that it is possible and, maybe, painless. Here are 10 tips for saving on a tight budget. http://americasaves.org/for-savers/make-a-plan-how-to-save-money/saving-on-a-tight-budget

And, if you simply can’t image how to spend less than you’re spending now, start thinking about new ways to reduce your monthly bills. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson2/index5.htm

Sticking to it
Don’t get discouraged. If Plan A doesn’t work, come up with a Plan B to focus on your finances http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/budget/stick-to-a-budget .
Budgeting will be easier once you find the path that works the best for you.

Load & Go with Reloadable Cards!

Have you heard the news? There’s a nChoosing a credit cardew way to pay! We’re rolling out a new option for you to add to your financial arsenal: the Community Bank of the Chesapeake Reloadable Card.

An alternative to a credit or debit card, reloadable cards have risen in popularity in recent years—1 in 6 people in “Generation Y” use them. And for the nearly 70 million Americans that don’t use checking accounts, a reloadable card is a secure, easy way to manage funds including weekly paychecks, which can be directly deposited into the reloadable card account.

Already have a checking account? That’s okay—the card is for you, too! Reloadable cards can be used as a supplement to a Checkcard and can be a big help when it comes to budgeting. Use the card to set aside money for your holiday shopping, for miscellaneous expenses during the month or for a special event like a wedding or big trip.

The reloadable card works as a “checkless checking account”. You can direct deposit paychecks, shop and pay bills online, get cash at ATMs and use the card virtually anywhere. It’s an alternative to carrying cash and you’ll never have to worry about overdraft fees. It’s also a safer option than cash or a Checkcard; reloadable cards are PIN protected and are not linked directly to your checking account, so in the event that the card is lost or stolen, your other finances will stay safe.

In addition to peace of mind, the card offers text message alerts that allow you to manage your money on the go, and online access so you can instantly load funds whenever you need them.

Want to learn more? Stop into any of our convenient branch locations for more information or to purchase your reloadable card today!

It’s Tax Day!

young coupleTax day is upon us! If you’ve filed your taxes already, congratulations!

If you haven’t, don’t panic—there is still time today to file your tax returns. Forbes Magazine shared these 11 tips for the 11th hour filers out there. Check with your tax professional if you have any last-minute questions, and double check all forms carefully before you submit them. Remember that all tax forms must be mailed or e-filed by midnight tonight, April 15, 2014. Continue reading

Charitable Giving Tips

Charitable GivingWhat’s your favorite cause? In 2012, CNN reported that Americans gave an estimated $316.2 billion to charity. Along with enabling your favorite organizations to continue their good works, charitable giving can also be a smart tax strategy. Donations to qualified organizations can usually be claimed as deductions on your taxes, and you’ll get the added emotional satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve done a good deed. Continue reading

IRA contributions, there’s still time!

Tax filing IRA ContributionsSpring has finally sprung. Well, at least by the calendar. And that means, an important deadline is fast approaching – Tuesday, April 15, 2014. That’s tax day, or for those looking to save for their retirement, the deadline for making your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) contribution for the 2013 tax year. Whether you have an existing traditional IRA or Roth IRA or haven’t yet opened one, you won’t want to miss this important opportunity to save for the future. Of course, you can contribute to your 2013 IRA even sooner if you file your taxes before April 15. Continue reading

Nine Financial Planning Basics

Financial PlanningWhen it comes to managing your personal finances, there are many things to consider. Decisions you make today not only impact your current lifestyle, but can also have broad-ranging effects on your life down the line. Wherever you are in life, it’s always a good idea to periodically take stock of where you are with respect to your money. If you’re struggling to get your finances back under control, or if you’re just looking for some good advice, here are nine suggestions to help you lead a healthy financial life, today and tomorrow. Continue reading

Do It Yourself or Bring in a Pro? Choosing the Best Way to Make Tax Filing Less Taxing.

It’s an annual passage and a sure sign that spring is approaching. It’s not longer days or warmer temperatures. It’s tax season and the all-important tax return filing deadline in mid April. And before you can even begin to think about the size of your return or the amount you owe, you’ve got to start by answering a simple question:

Who will file your taxes?

Will you do it yourself? Or hire someone to do it for you? There are some good arguments for both sides:

Doing It Yourself
The good news is that with the advent of technology, there are now a lot of helpful programs on the market to simplify tax filing and handle the calculations for you. For example, in their Super Bowl ad, Turbo Tax® demonstrated just how easy it is to answer tax questions and filing.

Continue reading