Favorite How to Start Saving Money (Even if you’re always broke)

Broke Save MoneyA few years back, our finances felt completely hopeless and I hated it. My husband was bringing home around $1,600 a month after taxes, but it just wasn’t enough to cover our spending. Our credit cards were our saviors and the balances kept rising. He worked so hard but had nothing to show for it, aside from growing debt. What could I do?

Like many other people lacking wisdom in personal finance, I did an online search about getting out of debt and saving money. The results were typical: save 10% of your income, save $50 every month, spend less. A plethora of common sense was laid in front of me and it just made me feel worse. Each month our debt was growing, so how could I save 10% of nothing or $50 we didn’t have?

I experienced many emotions after that; I was sad, frustrated, angry, overwhelmed and I was ready to give up altogether. As the days went by, I started thinking about the main point of saving money. If one source says to save 10% of your income and another says to save $50 each month, the amount is irrelevant. I might not have been able to save a lot of money then, but I could spare a couple bucks. We were already spending too much, so what harm could come from increasing it a bit?

Those couple bucks were the foundation for what we have now. I opened an account with Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) and setup a weekly automatic transfer of 99 cents for every Friday. Sure it might have only started out with a couple bucks (actually $1.98) with each bi-weekly paycheck but that was enough to get us started.

Momentum slowly built and I was able to add in an additional weekly transfer for the same amount, then I increased it to $1.00 (which wasn’t noticeable at all), then I eventually made my way to 5 weekly transfers of $1.00 each. It might have only been $5.00 that we were saving each week, but it felt empowering.

Then other things came like cutting our expenses, stretching our money, budgeting, paying off debt, tracking spending and so forth. We never seemed to have to money to pay for our car insurance every 6 months, so I setup another transfer for $2.00 5 days per week—going straight into our Car Insurance sub-account at Capital One 360.

Now we don’t worry about not having the money to pay our car insurance, because it’s always there. If our rates ever change, I can adjust the amount we transfer to reflect the new amount.

Thanks to a little creativity, a passion was sparked in me for personal finance. Today, I have a personal finance blog, an emergency fund, no credit card debt and am trying to make better financial decisions each day. We even started making contributions to a 401IK, opened a Roth IRA and an investment account. Our net worth might not be much but as long as we keep doing what we can it will keep growing.

Everybody has to start somewhere; otherwise they will never start at all. Small changes over time can make a big difference, so if you’re not ready to make dramatic changes to your finances…at least start with baby steps.

The main point is that you are doing something (rather than nothing) to progress toward what you want. Making small changes might not get you there quickly, but they can motivate and inspire you to continue on your journey. It all adds up. :-)

What Does Burial Insurance Cover

Burial insurance is a type of insurance that often gets confused with other forms of insurance, such as funeral insurance, and even life insurance. If this is a subject that’s confusing you, we’re going to show you what it covers and what you’re going to get should you decide to take out this type of insurance.

Burial Insurance in a Nutshell

In a nutshell, burial insurance is there to take care of your final expenses. This may include things like cremation cost, burial plot, services and left over bills in some cases. It’s a type of coverage that’s going to cover the costs of burying your loved one. Often, it may be incorporated into a comprehensive funeral insurance plan.

The Lump Sum Issue

We should say that burial insurance isn’t like life insurance in that if you die you’ll receive a sum of money to cover the costs of the funeral or the burial. You will have to pay for everything and then claim on the insurance. Burial insurance is about pre-paying for the ceremony before you die.

The only situation where you may receive a lump sum is if you take out a policy designed for terminally ill people and the insurance holder dies soon after the policy is taken out. In this case, the insurer will have facilities in place for simply returning your premiums to you, as opposed to paying out death benefits.

What it covers in Detail

The Burial – The burial ceremony will be covered as part of this policy. This will include everything from lowering the casket into the grave to the religious figure who delivers the final sermon.

Real Estate – A burial involves taking up a piece of real estate. This is where a significant amount of the cost of a funeral comes from.

The Funeral – Many policies will also include any expenses to do with the funeral. You should check to make sure this is the case with your policy so you don’t get any nasty surprises later on.

Expiry Date

Burial insurance doesn’t expire. If you take out this policy when you’re 60 and you live to be a hundred, the policy will still be there waiting for you. You can only cash it out when you die. It also just pays for your final expenses. The number of options you have are extremely limited.

What about Cash Value?

Cash value is a facility that comes with lots of insurance types. The cash value of something is the accumulated cash value built over a period of time. In other words, it gives you the option to use your policy to either invest or to cash out entirely. Life insurance is one such example of this type of policy.

The cash value of your burial insurance doesn’t exist. It’s impossible to accumulate any cash value. The amount your policy covers is the amount you’ll get to cover the costs of burial and nothing else.


Burial insurance is a policy providing no flexibility at all. That makes it a much simpler policy to deal with. You know exactly what you’ll get the moment you take out your policy.

How to Handle the IRS When You’re In Too Deep

If you owe the IRS a hefty sum and are beginning to feel the heat, there are a variety of methods you can use to relieve your debt and lower your anxiety levels. Ignoring your debt can have dire consequences, including seizure of your assets and garnishment of your pay, so make sure you do your part to start paying off your debt in the quickest way possible.

The Fresh Start Initiative

The IRS began a Fresh Start Program back in 2008. This program was designed to help taxpayers going through hard financial times pay back their debt to the government, and throughout the years it’s gone through several changes. It can be hard to keep up with the alterations within the fresh start programs system, so use a service like the Community Tax fresh start initiative that has professionals staying up to date on the nitty gritty for you—more stress off your back so you can focus on making the money to pay back the IRS.

Installment Agreement

If you need more time to pay your taxes, but want to start chipping away at the debt immediately, request an installment agreement. These agreements allow you to pay off small increments of your total sum over a period of time, sometimes up to 10 years. The government will usually collect by direct debit, whereby they have access to your bank account and can take out the agreed upon sum; or, the IRS will elect to use payroll deduction, where a dedicated amount will be deducted from your paycheck each time until your debt is paid back.

Currently Not Collectible

If you need more time to collect the money needed to pay off your debts, look into filing Currently Not Collectible. In this case, the IRS will declare your debt “currently not collectible” after determining that you don’t have the ability to pay. This inability must come from legitimate budgeting reasons; for example, if the cost of your rent, food, and living supplies outnumbers your wages, the government may deem you qualified to receive this distinction. This filing can help you prevent the IRS from enforcing any liens or levies, and keep your assets safe while you find the money to settle your debt. The time period for paying back your debt can last for up to 10 years (providing you are still in economic hardship and truly can’t afford to pay it until that point).

Filing for Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy can also be a way to dig yourself out of a debt crisis, but it does come with its drawbacks. You are able to discharge your income taxes as long as you fit the qualifications, including the following: you should have filed legitimate tax returns for two years prior, you haven’t ever willfully evaded your taxes, and you haven’t committed tax fraud—and those are just for starters. Remember that filing for bankruptcy can negatively influence your credit score, making loans a hard thing to come by.

Offer in Compromise

An offer in compromise can be an excellent option for those who won’t reasonably be able to pay off their debt to the IRS in full—ever. The gist of this option is a compromise with the IRS for a lesser amount that you promise to pay back. Also known as Form 656, once you pay back your compromised debt offer, your debt is considered repaid.

Always File, and File On Time

Always file your taxes, even if you know you won’t be able to pay them right away. The IRS doesn’t look too kindly on those who neglect to file their taxes, and will not process any offers in compromise or installment agreements if you’re not up to date on your filing.

One of the terrible consequences of failing to do your taxes on time is wage garnishment. This refers to the IRS seizure of your paycheck; you may receive a paycheck with a large chunk missing, or you could be one of the unlucky few who doesn’t receive a paycheck at all. The IRS implements this consequence to those who have repeatedly ignored warnings, so it’s important to always maintain communication when you’ve failed to pay.

If you’re currently in trouble with the IRS and looking for ways to settle your debt, talk to a tax professional and find out which of the above options will best help you climb out from your money obligations and get you back into the IRS’s good graces.

Short Term Lending – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

There has been a great deal written about short term loans, and most of it has been less than flattering, both to the industry and to its customers. Fair or not, the stereotypical view of the customer is of someone who probably doesn’t deserve credit. The lender, on the other hand, is stereotyped as being a half-rung above a loan shark on the financial services ladder. As a matter of fact, there was a move a few years ago to ban no credit check payday lenders altogether, but the movement failed quite miserably, due in large part to the objections of a very influential industry and its many customers. To the cynic or the snob, it would seem to be a match made in someplace south of heaven.

The truth is that fundamentally, a payday loan is just like a loan taken out at a bank. You borrow money, with a promise to repay it according to an agreed-upon schedule, and you offer some type of assurance that you will keep your promise. Just like the big guys. Where the no credit check payday loan differs is in the details, and these details can be significant. But first, let’s take a hopefully objective look at both the industry and its customers, and at the potential for good and abuse that is present for both.

Like any industry, there are reputable companies and hustlers

There are plenty of reputable lenders who offer no credit check payday loans, and who are satisfied with the advantage of being able to charge higher interest rates than they can through more traditional vehicles. The bad marks on the industry are primarily due to lenders who either abuse their customers with collection techniques that border on extortion or who go out of their way to encourage their customers to engage in irresponsible (and expensive) behavior. One blatant example can be found in lenders who strongly encouraged their customers to let their loans roll over multiple times. For a little while, it might have felt to the customer like they didn’t even have a debt, but after the loan was refinanced repeatedly, the interest amount alone became so large that it became almost impossible to repay, leaving the borrower eternally indebted to the company. Thankfully, new rules for payday lenders, enacted in 2014, rendered this practice illegal, though some unscrupulous lenders, operating under the regulatory radar, continue pushing customers to keep rolling over their loans.

It can be very difficult to tell, at first glance, which no credit check payday lenders are reputable, and which are sharks. Most lenders maintain an online presence, and their websites might look just as professional as do the websites maintained by the major banks. And while online appearances can be deceiving, there are resources such as the Readies website that allow consumers to compare the rates and requirements of multiple no-credit-check payday lenders, and better determine which lender is best for them.

Not all borrowers fit within a single mold

If one forms an opinion based upon the adverts on television, it is easy to assume that all short term loan customers are working class people who need a few extra pounds to handle an unexpected expense or to tide them over until their next paycheck. Even worse, some people tend to apply the kind of judgmental approach noted earlier, painting every borrower as being irresponsible, at best. Frankly, such an assumption would be wrong. Especially since the economic crisis, business loans from traditional lenders have become increasingly difficult to obtain, and the time required to process the loan can often result in a lost opportunity. As a result, even large companies find themselves taking out no credit check payday loans, whether to pay for material that is needed on short notice, or to allow the company to avail itself of a discount that will no longer be available by the time a loan application for funds has been processed.

In short, a short term or payday loan can be either an essential tool for a responsible borrower, or a rung on the ladder to financial ruin. Like any tool, it can be either used or abused. The trick is to fully understand the strengths and limitations of the tool, and to learn to use it correctly.