The Complete Guide to Budgeting and Saving Your Money

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Budgeting is often treated like a dirty word, and saving money doesn’t get treated much better. But if you want to make money work for you, a budget and savings plan cannot be ignored. And if your credit is suffering, understand that no credit recovery plan is complete without learning money management. We’re not talking Ebenezer Scrooge here. Just a little mindfulness over where your money is going and saving some of it for your future — retirement, travel, a down payment on a home or car, medical expenses, and unexpected events life may throw at you. The following articles on budgeting and saving can help, as well as sections on personal finance basics and banking accounts.

Personal Finance Basics

How to Makeover Your Personal Finances — Do you tell your money what to do, or is it telling you? If you don’t feel in charge, your personal finances need a makeover. Let us walk you through it.

How to Change Your Money Mindset — Are negative thoughts about money making your financial situation worse? Change your money mindset by learning how to counter negative beliefs with positive affirmations.

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck — If you struggle to make ends meet on a regular basis, it’s time to find a new normal. Get tips on how to stop living paycheck to paycheck, including goal setting, budgeting, and debt management.

How to Talk About Money with Your Partner — Talking about money doesn’t come easy to most of us, and can be especially challenging in a romantic relationship. Get tips on how to make the money talk fun and effective.

Sneaky Tactics Retailers Use to Spend Your Money — It feels good finding a good deal that saves you money. Just be on the lookout for “deals” that actually make you spend more money. Get the facts about free shipping, buy-one-get-one-free, and more.

Recognizing the Signs of Too Much Debt — How many of these signs do you recognize? And what can you do about it if you do, indeed, have too much debt?

How to Create More Disposable Income — Want more disposable income to spend or save as you choose? Find out how adjusted tax withholdings and 401(k)s can help.

Sharing Economy 101 — The sharing economy is also known as collaborative consumption. Learn how people make money, save money, and promote sustainability with peer to peer business.

Financial Awareness Campaign Calendar — Teach Children to Save Day. American Saves Week. Financial Literacy Month. Mark your calendar for these and other campaigns for financial education and inspiration all year long.

Financial Advisors

When You Should Talk to a Financial Advisor — While you can certainly manage your finances on your own, check out this list of major events in life when you should seriously consider talking to a financial advisor.

How to Find a Good Financial Planner — It’s one thing to decide you need a financial planner, and quite another to find a good one. Get the facts about fee structures and where to start your search.

Millennials Guide to Financial Advice — Nearly a quarter of Millennials don’t trust anyone for financial advice, yet nearly 40 percent worry about their financial future. If you’re among them, get ideas on where to turn for the financial advice you need.

Budgeting Your Money

Basics of Budgeting — If you don’t have a budget, or the one you do have isn’t working, it’s time to get back to basics. Get the facts.

Detailed Guide to Budgeting — Beyond the basics, this 3-part detailed guide will walk you through the steps to creating, managing, and tweaking this elusive tool.

How to Use the Zero-Sum Budget — If you find yourself wondering where all your money goes, chances are you could use the zero-sum budget. There’s no question where your money is disappearing to because you tell every dollar where to go.

How to Repair Bad Credit on a Budget — Contrary to what you may have heard, you need not pay an expensive company to repair your credit for you. Credit repair is absolutely within your budget when you DIY. Here’s how.

How to Create a Holiday Budget — Why should the most joyous time of year be the source of so much financial stress? Learn how to create a holiday budget so you can save sanely before the holidays and be free of holiday debt in the New Year.

Valentine’s Day on a Budget — There are plenty of ways to show someone you care without breaking the bank. In fact, the less you spend, the more creative you have to get, which usually translates into more meaningful gifts. See a list of possibilities.

How to Live Big on Any Budget — Think living on a budget means sacrificing fun? Not a chance with a list like this to live by.

Saving Your Money

Ways Americans Waste Money — From ATM fees, to interest rates, to the type of car you drive, you may not realize all the ways you are wasting money on things. See common ways Americans waste money and get tips for saving on these things instead.

Myths About Saving Money — Preconceived ideas keep us from doing all sorts of things, saving money among them. Don’t let these myths hold you back from the financial security you need and deserve.

How to Automate Your Savings — The more often you have to decide to save money, the more often you won’t. Make the decision once with automated savings so you can set it and forget it.

How to Save $500 for Christmas — Whether you’re supplementing an existing fund or starting from scratch, there are plenty of things you can do to save $500 for Christmas. Finding a way to make extra money is great, but these ideas utilize the money you’re already making. Do the math and see how much you could save.

How to Save Money with Coupons — It might be old-school, but coupon cutting is still an effective way of saving money. Find out how to find the best coupons, the best places to use them, how to keep them organized, and more.

Teaching Your Kids How to Save Money — With financial education notoriously lacking in our schools, it’s up to parents to pick up the slack. Get practical tips on teaching kids money-saving habits that they can practice now and carry into adulthood.

Find Unclaimed Money and Property — Believe it or not, there could be money floating around out there with your name on it, from utility deposits to undistributed wages, to life insurance policies. Check out our state-by-state list of websites that can help you find this unclaimed money (or property) that you can put toward your savings goals.

Saving Money for Retirement

Questions to Ask When Setting Your Retirement Savings Goals — Whether you’re just starting to save for retirement, or you’ve been at it for years, make sure it’s informed saving. What do you really want and need for your retirement years?

Calculating How Much You Will Need to Retire — It is impossible to know with any certainty exactly how much money you’ll need for your retirement years. But you can get close by doing some simple calculations. Here’s how to do it in eight steps.

Deciding Whether to Save for Retirement or Pay Off Loans — If you save for retirement first, you’re losing money on interest fees paid on outstanding debt. If you pay off debt first, you’re missing out on interest you could be earning on retirement accounts. Get the facts you need to decide what’s right for you.

How to Plan for an Early Retirement — Whether you want to retire 2 years early or 10, there are things you can do to make this dream a reality. Take a look at everything you should be considering to get the job done.

Retirement Savings Challenges for Women — As long as there is a gender pay gap, there will be a gender savings gap. Get the facts about the challenges women face when saving for retirement and what to do about it.

Retirement Savings Strategies for Single People — If you live alone, there’s no one to split the bills with or pick up the slack if you lose work. This can make saving for retirement difficult. Get tips on how to make it work.

Most Affordable Places to Retire — Are one of these cities on your retirement list? Maybe they should be. Check out the median housing price, population, and pros and cons of the top 20 most affordable places to retire.

Money Matters to Consider When Retiring Abroad — Though the cost of living may be lower, retiring abroad comes with unique financial considerations that should not be overlooked. Get the facts.

Why Today’s College Grads May be Retiring Later in Life — Burdened with overwhelming student loan debt, today’s college graduates will be especially challenged to save for retirement. That will likely mean retiring later. Get the facts.

Managing Your Retirement Savings Accounts

How to Manage Your Retirement Savings — Your retirement nest egg will only be as big as your understanding of how to grow it. Learn how to effectively manage your retirement money with a 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA.

Using a Self-Directed IRA as a Retirement Investment Strategy — Unlike a traditional IRA, for which you have no control over investment decisions, a self-directed IRA gives you choices. Get the facts about self-directed IRAs, including how to set one up, contribution limits, and transaction restrictions.

How to Access Your Social Security Account — The Social Security Administration no longer sends out yearly statements, but you can access the same information online via my Social Security.

Saving Money for Medical Expenses

How to Use a Medical Savings Account (MSA) — How do you qualify for an MSA? What’s the max you can contribute annually? Does it move with you if you change employers? Under what circumstances can you withdraw tax-free funds? Get answers to these and more commonly asked questions about medical savings accounts.

How to Use a Health Savings Account (HSA) — How do you qualify for an HSA? Who makes payments into your HSA? What’s the max you can contribute? How do you make withdrawals, and under what circumstances are they tax-free? Get answers to these and more commonly asked questions about health savings accounts.

Saving Money for College

Tips on Saving Money for College — Decreasing disposable income is making it increasingly difficult for parents to save money for their kids’ college education. Find out how college savings plans and Roth IRAs can help.

529 College Plans: The Basics — How much do you need to open one? What expenses are covered by these plans? Are they really tax-free? Get answers to these and other commonly asked questions about 529 college savings plans.

Survey of Parents: Where Will College Money Come From? — Nearly 90 percent of parents surveyed believe college is an important investment for their kids. But the “savers” among those surveyed have very different ideas than the “non-savers” about where the money is going to come from.

Opening a Savings or Checking Account

What to Do If You Don’t Have a Bank Account — Millions of Americans are unbanked or underbanked. Reasons for this vary, from deliberate avoidance of the banking system to a poor ChexSystems score. Whatever the case, get tips on alternatives.

How to Bank for Free — Think banking fees are a giving these days? Think again. Find out how direct deposit, multiple accounts, minimum balances, and text alerts can help.

Reasons to Open an Online Checking Account — Don’t need a brick and mortar building to do your banking? Then you might want to switch to an online banking account for benefits that brick-and-mortar doesn’t offer. Weigh the pros and cons.

Non-Bank Banking Options — Interested in alternatives to a traditional bank account? Consider the pros and cons of credit unions, money market mutual funds, and cash management accounts.

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