Managing Money Matters: Creating an Envelope Budgeting System

It’s no secret that our society prizes immediate gratification. Because of this mentality, the average American carries nearly $38,000 in personal debt. Moreover, the vast majority of us live paycheck to paycheck.

With this lifestyle, small emergencies can completely abolish any chance of financial security, forcing us to accrue even more debt. How can we disrupt this cycle? How can we get out of debt? At such times, taking out an emergency loan could make more sense rather than ignoring the emergency.

When it comes to learning how to cut back on costs and save money every month, few strategies are as effective as the envelope budgeting system. 

If you want to control the spending on each of your budget categories for the month then the envelope system is for you. You need to pre-decide the exact amount of money you want to allocate to each budget category and put the cash in different envelopes.

Keep reading for our step-by-step guide on implementing this strategy in your life.

1. Understand Your Finances

First, you need to take the time to dig into your bank statements to understand where all of your money goes each month. Most people are shocked to see how much unnecessary spending they do on things like eating out, getting coffee, shopping, and more.

Figure out exactly how much money you make each month, how much is spent (on average), and where it goes. From here you can get a good idea of how much cash to put in each envelope as well as where you can afford to cut back.

2. Create Expense Envelope Categories

Now it’s time to create the categories for your envelope budgeting system. Use the following categories but feel free to modify as necessary:

  • Groceries
  • Bills
  • Gas
  • Short-term savings (for budget traveling, house renovations, etc.)
  • Long-term savings or investing
  • Health (gym memberships, supplements, etc.)
  • Personal care 
  • Non-essentials (dining out, entertainment, etc.)

3. Determine How Much Money You Need for Each Envelope

Once you have your categories, you need to decide how much money to put in each envelope. Give yourself a practical amount, allowing for small fluctuations. For example, your general grocery bill will be higher during weeks when you need to buy extra items like dog food, personal products, etc.

However, remember that the goal is to save as much money each month as possible, so think minimally.

4. Maintain Rigidity in Your Envelope Budgeting System

While it may be tempting to shuffle funds around to leave yourself more money for the fun stuff, remember that without rigidity, the envelope budgeting system doesn’t work. Now, if you have funds in a category left over at the end of the month, you can put that money towards rewarding yourself with dining out, shopping, or entertainment. However, it’s important to keep your financial goals in mind when feeling impulsive.

5. Be Prepared for Contingencies

Finally, while rigidity is important, you also need to prepare for potential contingency situations. For example, a lot of bills, services, and products are paid for online. In this scenario, we recommend using fake money or slips of paper with specific amounts written on them to be place holders in the corresponding envelopes. 

Looking for More Tips on Budgeting or Saving Money?

As we always say, you don’t have to be rich to live rich. Check out the other articles about you and your money on our blog to learn more about budgeting techniques, saving money, and retirement planning. Good luck and remember, consistency is key with any type of goal!

Organized Sports: The Benefits for Your Child’s Present and Future

Parents of children know the importance of group activities and organized sports for building self esteem and providing social and interpersonal benefits. Our own childhood memories of youth sports can influence the decisions we make when we consider which sport to sign our kids up for. Remember, just because you were a hockey goalie doesn’t mean your child will follow suit. It’s important to consider your child’s personality and how they will best fit in.

More assertive children may prefer the group atmosphere of being on a team and feel more comfortable playing soccer or hockey. On the other hand, more reserved children might prefer the independence of solo sports like track and field where they can go at their own pace.

While team sports provide a number of benefits, individual sports build self-reliance and internal drive. As a result, there are positives for each option; so whether your child plays for the baseball team or swims on the swim team, sports will likely help foster their independence, confidence and a myriad of other positive social skills.

I often compare the lessons learned from taking part in youth sports to the lifelong habits a child will retain as an adult in the workplace. Even if your child isn’t destined to become an NHL player or an Olympic athlete, you as their parent will still have helped them cultivate their success in the future through participation in sports.

Once a child finds a sport they like, encourage them to stick with it. This will teach them responsibility and show them that it takes hard work and dedication to achieve their goals. (a great lesson that can be applied to the workplace, too). Also, taking part in competitive sports requires an ability to handle disappointments and accept personal responsibility for any mistakes.

Think about a time when you overlooked an important task. It can take a while for children (and even grown adults) to accept failure and learn not to blame others when things go array. Participating in organized sports as a child can teach important lessons about the value of using setbacks as learning opportunities.

Social skills and teamwork are also important to a child’s future in the corporate world. Sports such as basketball, baseball or hockey can teach kids to rely on others to achieve a common goal and put the team’s needs before their own. Social skills are also developed through youth sports and are invaluable to landing a job interview and communicating with co-workers, management and customers.

Lastly, signing your child up for an organized sport gives them a healthy habit of physical activity. From daily workouts to being outside in the fresh air, participation in sports sees kids right through to adulthood and may help them ward off many ailments. A win-win for everyone.

Making Financial Transactions Through Apps: How to Protect Yourself

From IPads to smartphones, there are now an endless number of apps that can be used to transfer funds, whether you’re sending or receiving money on Paypal or using your personal banking app to access your account.

Online shopping and other ecommerce apps also require you to input some of your financial details. In fact, any app that is used to process payments can expose you up to security risks.

Here are some ways to protect yourself when making financial transactions using apps.

Make sure the app is secure

It’s not always easy to know whether a hacker created an app to deliberately steal your personal information or take over your bank account. To ensure you are using a legitimate app, only download from a trusted website or from a well-known company. Most major apps from legitimate providers are safe. Oftentimes, banking, money management and e-commerce companies invest heavily in making sure that their sites are secure, and that your information is protected.

Be alert

Although it’s convenient to jump on someone else’s WiFi or do your banking at the local coffee shop, it’s not always safe. Make sure you are accessing your financial apps from a secure web browser with protected connection; mainly your home WiFi that has been protected with a password and two-step identification.

Don’t overshare your information

Be very careful of apps that ask you to share more information than seems necessary for them to work. When you are sharing your credit card information or bank details with a third-party app, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to identity theft and other fraud. One way to prevent a security breach is by looking into the encryption methods used by the app and how it secures your data. Rest assured that most large providers take data security extremely seriously.

Only log on to apps using secure passwords

When it comes to transferring money on a dedicated financial app, be sure to use a dedicated email address and password to sign up, ideally one that you don’t use for anything else. Your login information should be anonymous and not contain pertinent information like your name or or birthdate.

Most financial apps are secure providing they come from a trusted source, but others may not be up to par. With a bit of due diligence and a little research, you can stay safe online. Just make sure you know exactly what app you’re using before sharing any private information.

4 Things That Need To Be Known About Money Laundering

Money laundering has been around ever since money existed and laws were put in place to avoid fraud. We often see numerous reports about companies or individuals caught breaking the law and being involved in some sort of laundering activity. Banks and governments are constantly working on different technology that can be used to track money launderers and dirty money. The problem is that money laundering compliance is never enough since criminals also take full advantage of technology. They use modern strategies like digital currencies or online gambling in order to launder funds. 

Official estimates released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime state that around $2 trillion are laundered every single year around the world. Money laundering can easily allow organized crime to get finances and even gain influence over officials, so it is important that it is properly fought. 

Although many different things need to be known about money laundering, some facts that are particularly important are presented in the following paragraphs. 

Technology Changes Money Laundering

The internet offers a high level of anonymity. This is especially the case when referring to the use of digital currencies that can offer great resources for launderers to hide the trace of the money used. It is very easy to add dirty money to online marketplaces like gaming platforms to then be cashed out as money that is labeled as being clean. 

Such methods are simply updated versions of much older money washing techniques, like the famous mule scam, which had unwitting consumers asked to perform a favor of some kind. Usually, the favor is transferring an asset that can be used by criminals to clean profits by using the accounts of the victim. 

Using digital currencies is a new operation that is used by money launderers. Even online gaming can be used. For instance, there were documented cases in which World Of Warcraft was utilized in order to launder money. 

Money Laundering Through Real Estate

It is possible to make illicit funds seem to be completely legitimate when real estate transactions are used. This usually involves the use of limited liability companies. These buy real estate and shell companies are utilized in order to move money around. Usually, luxury properties are utilized in order to be able to launder larger amounts of money at the same time. 

Honest Organizations Can Be Involved In Illegal Laundering Activities

Most people believe that just shady organizations end up being involved in dishonest money laundering activities. In reality, even large corporations and banks ended up being charged with this crime. A famous case is that of the Wachovia Bank, which ended up settling money laundering allegations in 2010. This was done as the bank made it public that it failed to detect, identify and then report some suspicious transactions. 

Other popular banks that ended up being accused of some sort of money laundering include Credit Suisse, Bank of China and HSBC. 

The Money Laundering Countries

The US State Department dictates that some countries are of a “primary concern” when it comes to money laundering. Their list includes many nations that have financial firms renowned to launder money. Usually, such activity is handled for drug traffickers but this is not the only source. Surprising countries that are on the list include Russia, China and the United Kingdom. The main countries that are now involved in money laundering activities are China and Russia.

While some countries are more prone to be involved in money laundering activities, it does not mean that there are no cases present in any other country. In fact, many companies in the US were charged with this and had to pay really hefty fees in the process.

3 ways through which the world is becoming more connected

A few centuries ago, traveling a short distance could be a very serious issue. Most people used leg and had to use days to complete a journey that would take cars a few hours and airplanes a few minutes to complete. Traveling over water required the use of boats that were also slow and had a high risk of capsizing. However, the world is currently more connected than ever even as more research is being carried out about how to make the world even more connected. 3 major ways through which the world is becoming more connected today are discussed.

Flights
The airplane is one of the major achievements of the twentieth century. The century witnessed the first successful flight to tens of thousands of flights taking off and landing across the world daily. The implication was that it was now possible for people to move across continents within minutes and hours depending on how far the continents were from each other. A journey that would take a week on a ship could easily be achieved by an airplane within a few hours. Thus, it is now easier for people to travel to any country of their choice by just sparing a few hours for the trip itself and boarding a flight. To make flying even more affordable for those that are on a budget, there are now platforms such as KLM flights and Skyscanner that compare the price of various airlines so that an individual can easily opt for the cheapest among their favorite airlines.

Phone calls
Just as we were starting to get used to the idea of flying, telephones were also invented. What started as landlines that needed to be installed in homes, quickly metamorphosed into mobile phones that could be moved around while being used to make and receive calls. Mobile phones were further developed to become smarter and in all of these, they helped to make the world more connected. You don’t have to travel a long distance before you can hold a simple conversation with someone in another country or continent. You also don’t have to endure the long wait of letters getting delivered and replies being sent, especially when it comes to urgent matters. Thus, the fact that you can instantly call, speak to a person and hear the person’s voice in real-time is a major factor that made the world more connected. It is also on the success of the phone calls that the Internet was built.

Internet
The Internet is easily one of the most powerful technologies in the world today. It has made the world become connected in many ways. Apart from instant messaging, video calls and other forms of communication that the Internet affords, there are other ways it is making the world connected. For instance, it is now possible to transfer money across the world and to maintain an account in a particular country and access it in another country. Furthermore, information sharing has never been easier as you can with the aid of the Internet, share information that can be retrieved, viewed and even edited in real-time across the world. The Internet has thus, caused a major revolution in making the world more connected and continues to do so.

4 ways to spend less on a holiday

If you are planning to go on holiday, it is important to ensure that you plan properly. In most cases, you should start planning and saving for the holiday for months. With this, you would already make up your mind on the country and city you intend to visit, what you should spend and how to raise the money by the date you intend to leave. You also get other benefits like preparing early and making early payments that could come with discounts or at cheaper prices. If you are seeking ways to spend less during a holiday, here are some major things you should do.

Use comparison websites
Many websites provide a comparison of different categories of services that you would need during your trip. This includes flight comparison websites like CheapOAir to other websites that compare prices for car rentals, accommodation, and tickets to tourist attractions among others. When you use the services of this type of website, you would be able to find the cheapest services to use during your trips. With this, you would be able to save money on virtually every aspect of your trip. This will make it possible for you to achieve more during your trip or save some money to go back with.

Book early
Another way to enjoy discounts when you are traveling is to book early for the services you would need. In most cases, tickets are mostly more available at an earlier time to every date. Thus, they would most likely be available at a cheaper price. As the date gets closer, demand continues to increase and so does the price. A flight ticket that you could get for 100 USD if you booked 2 weeks earlier could quickly rise to as high as over 500 USD for the same class of seats if the seats left are less than 3 and there is an indication that several more people would want to take the flight. The same applies to other aspects of your trip including tickets to tourist attractions.

Look for discounts
Another way you can save money when you are going on a holiday is to look out for a discount. For instance, you could get a discount for buying a return ticket as opposed to buying a single-way ticket. You might also get a discount from a hotel for paying for 7 nights as you book as opposed to paying one night at a time. You can also get discounts during your shopping by buying everything you need in an all-in-one store that would boost the amount you have as opposed to buying from different stores.

Eat at cheaper restaurants
Another way to save money is to eat at cheaper restaurants as much as possible. You might want to occasionally give yourself a treat and eat one or two expensive meals. However, you would observe that there is not much difference between the expensive meals and eating at cheaper local restaurants especially when it is the local food in the city you are visiting. You could easily save over 100 USD on each meal by just eating in smaller local restaurants as opposed to the classy expensive restaurants.

Tips for Saving Money on Your Driving While Living in Ontario

Moving to Ontario can be a fun and exciting way to live life. There are plenty of events, job opportunities, schools and amenities readily available. However, as with all other city areas, it can be expensive to drive to where you need to go. Thankfully, there are many ways for people living in Ontario to save money on their driving without necessarily giving up the car for good.

Compare Insurance Rates

As with all other cities and areas, your vehicle needs to have insurance on it. This coverage protects you in the event of an accident or collision. By checking out Ontario car insurance quotes, you’re able to compare various policies from a number of different companies. Comparing these rates can help you to ultimately save a lot on the premium that you’ll be paying each month, lowering your driving costs overall.

Be Picky About Where You Get Fuel

Your car needs gas to run, but the costs of fuel can be so astronomical that it’s almost impossible to drive over long distances. By being picky about where you fuel up, you’ll be cutting costs and making your driving in the city more affordable. The beauty about the area is that there are dozens of available gas stations for you to choose. Even if you’re only saving a few cents at one particular location, the cost savings will truly add up.

Keep the Car Well-Maintained

One of the best ways for you to save money on driving is to keep your vehicle well-maintained. A well-maintained automobile runs more efficiently and burns less gas. You’re also less likely to suffer from a flat tire or stalling on the side of the road. Maintenance includes routine tune-ups, new tires, brakes and oil changes. Set a schedule for when these things need to be done and don’t forget to make appointments with the mechanic who’ll be doing the work.

Stick to the Speed Limit

Sticking to the speed limit that has been set is beneficial for a few reasons. First, you’ll be saving on the money that you would otherwise spend when paying for a ticket if you were to get stopped for speeding. Secondly, when you go the speed limit, you’re less likely to blow through all of the gas in your tank. Going either too slow or too fast can have a negative impact on the car’s fuel level, causing you to fill up more frequently.

Ditch the Car Periodically

You rely on your vehicle and use it for virtually everything you do. However, ditching the car occasionally can have many positive impacts on your life. You’ll save money on fuel, wear-and-tear to the vehicle itself and you’ll be able to either get in some exercise or mingle with friends or relatives. Some ways for you to avoid using the automobile is to bike to work or school once or twice a week. If you’d still rather be in a vehicle, consider carpooling with your friends or coworkers. You would be amazed at how much money you’ll save just by giving your driving a rest for a few days a month.

4 Steps to Staying Safe Online

One of the challenges of the current cyber age is that everyone owns at least one computer or mobile device, and most have more. Today, people constantly use their smartphones and tablets in all manner of public places, from waiting rooms and the local coffeehouse to sporting events. You see them everywhere scrolling through their messages, sending texts and posting photos on social media.

While these devices provide users with a real convenience, they can also be dangerous if they’re not used wisely and safely. Rarely a week goes by that you don’t see a news story about someone’s identity being stolen or their online account compromised. Then, there are the hackers, phishers and other online criminals who figure out ways to breach security. If you use your Internet-connected devices in public areas — as most people do — it’s important to ensure that you’re using them safely.

Below are four tips to help you ensure safe online experiences.

Be wary of rogue emails and other possible hacks.

From email correspondence with friends and family members to ecommunications for which you’ve voluntarily signed up, like sales messages from shopping sites, you’re getting tons of messages online. It’s great to stay informed but there are problems that can result if you aren’t on guard. Don’t click on links in emails unless you know with absolute certainty that they’re safe. Also, be careful about what personal information you post online. Consider marking your social media accounts private so only friends and family members can access your private posts. Also, watch out for any red flags.

Don’t share your passwords.

Let’s be honest — no one beside you, or maybe a family member, needs to know your passwords. It’s like the combination lock on your locker at the gym or spa. Keep it to yourself. Also, select passwords that no one can easily guess. Since you likely have usernames and passwords for numerous sites, write them all on a slip of paper and keep it in a safe place for easy access.

Do not download or install anything on your computer or devices unless you’re sure it’s safe.

It’s way too easy to download a rogue file that could compromise your data, place unwanted cookies on your hard drive or even cause the computer or device to stop working correctly. Referring back to the earlier comment about links, be aware that cyber hackers — who are criminals, make no mistake about it — are always sending links to unsuspecting people and cleverly disguising them as legitimate emails. One click on the wrong link could unleash a world of problems and carry a significant cost if your computer or device needs to be serviced. To ensure that you don’t accidently download a virus, Trojan horse or other troublemaking file, install virus protection on their computers. That way, you’ll get a warning if a rogue link or file shows up in your email box.

Don’t share personal information online with anyone you don’t know.

There are many people online purporting to be someone else, and you never know when the nice person you’re conversing with online is someone with less-than-sincere intentions. Unfortunately, these people infiltrate chat rooms and other online meeting places, start conversations and attempt to gain personal information. Sometimes, they’ll try to convince you to meet in person. If you do happen to encounter someone and find yourself in an online conversation that makes you uncomfortable, log off immediately and save the conversation if you can. Then, alert the proper authorities, if necessary.

Caring Dads Program Established to Bring Change to Domestic Violence

Founded in 2001, Caring Dads is an intervention-based program dedicated to improving the lives of children in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. It is a cause I’ve been personally very proud to support. Caring Dads exists to change current practices to better include fathers in efforts to enhance the safety and well-being of their children.

The program’s main focus is aimed to bring positive change for men who have been abused, neglected, or exposed their children to domestic violence.

More often than not, child protection agencies and family mental health services tend to work primarily with mothers; a trend that is intensified when fathers are deemed to be high risk. Despite the importance of the role of fathers in families, this means that those fathers who most need to be monitored and helped by our intervention systems are not involved.

According to facts by Caring Dads, men’s children pay the price with higher rates of aggression, substance use, criminal involvement, suicide attempts, mental health problems and chronic health conditions.

Children at risk should never have to be raised in a violent environment. The Caring Dads intervention program guides fathers to positive change by investigating their situation as soon as possible. When fathers are positively involved with their families, children benefit cognitively, socially, emotionally and developmentally.

As part of the 17 week program, men have the opportunity to meet with an accredited Caring Dads facilitator to learn how to rebuild trust in their families, recognize unhealthy behaviors and what effect abuse has on children. The program gives these men the chance to talk about their own experiences, and equips them with the tools they need in terms of support to be better parents.

There are many advantages to including fathers in efforts to enhance the safety and well-being of their children, including the potential to improve father-child relationships and to offer an additional route to ending violence against women, among other areas.

Anyone who is interested in helping can become an Accredited Caring Dads Facilitator by attending a Facilitator Training event. These events are held monthly in various locations across Canada and costs vary according to location and accreditation.

The services being provided through Caring Dads and similar organizations are making a genuine impact on our youth and their families. Visit caringdads.org/home for more information on how you can get involved.

5 personal finance tips your staffing agency should use

Lack of knowledge in finance and accounting is a major issue for small business owners. Research has shown that at least 60% of small and medium-sized business owners fell that they don’t have adequate information in the area, which leads to making mistakes that would have been avoided. Business finance is not the most exciting topic, but for your business to succeed, you have to force yourself to understand and navigate the numbers.

Without looking at your finances from the right lens, you will assume you are making profits while you could be in deep trouble. If you mix your personal finances with that of your business, the problem could be worse. Luckily, there are a few personal finance tips you can use to run your business to success. As simple as these tips may sound, it will take you a lot of willpower to implement them and stick to the plan while remaining flexible enough to change what is not working. Let’s dive in.

  1.     Get a clear financial picture

Keeping your accounting books and preparing a comprehensive budget is the only way to know how healthy your finances are. Create and stick to a budget to help you manage your income and expenses, and reconciling any amounts you might have missed. Your personal budget usually includes your savings, bills, and money you will keep for fun and other activities. In contrast, your business budget will have income, payroll, rent, office supplies, tax, among others.  

  1.     Watch your debt-to-income ratio

A debt-to-income ratio is used to measure how much revenue you get against the credit card and other debts you owe. The same principle will be used to measure your business debt against how much revenue you generate. The bank then uses this information to cap how much money you can borrow and determine how much you can pay every month, and how long it will take to finish paying the loan. You can calculate this for yourself by dividing your current debt with your monthly revenue.

If you are close to reaching your loan limit, it’s always advisable to concentrate on paying it off first before you take out more loans. This will safeguard your credit score and keep your company’s finances healthy. Payroll funding or invoice factoring will be your best bet during this time. This method allows you to convert your invoice to cash immediately, so your business does not hit a financial snug. The payroll company, such as PayrollFunding.com, advances up to 90% of your invoice amount and releases the remaining 10% once the invoice is paid, less their charge fee. 

  1.     Have insurance

Unforeseen circumstances such as accidents can lead to losing a lot of your capital if you don’t take out the right insurance. There are various insurance policies like employer’s liability insurance and general insurance that will come in handy when trouble strikes. If your business was to burn down or be destroyed during a tsunami, you should have insurance to cover the loss.

  1.     Use technology to your advantage

Tech has made our personal lives easier through budgeting apps that track our expenses. If your staffing agency is still in its inception stage, one of these apps will come in handy because they are relatively affordable and will still do what a fancy software will cover. Some sophisticated apps will track your expenses, revenue, remind you to send invoices, prepare payroll and much more. Also, you can save travel time and expenses through video conferences and save time on your social media management through apps that take care of that for you.

  1.     Pay yourself

One of the little-known secrets to sticking to a budget is having enough money for play. As you budget, leave a percentage you can use however you like. This removes the burden and imaginary boundaries you have when you must follow a budget, and can be termed as paying yourself for a hard month’s work. The same goes for your business. Although its where you get your personal finances from, it’s vital that you pay yourself. Paying yourself first motivates you, adds work incentives, increases savings for you and your business, and shows investors that you are committed to your business and personal growth. If you have enlisted the services of an accountant, you can ask them to help you determined this, so your paycheck doesn’t negatively affect the company.

Running your business may be different from running your personal finances, but the principles are the same. If you make the wrong financial decisions, your company will suffer the same way wrong money decisions hurt your personal life.