Archive for March, 2010

Don’t miss the most important meal of the day!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Eat breakfast at home and you’ll instantly save money…and you might even avoid needing to purchase a mid-morning snack.

Reduce the amount of gas you use on a daily basis

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

It’s proven that keeping your tires at the recommended level improves gas mileage by 5%!

$mart Money: Track Pennies Like You Track Calories

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Struggling to make ends meet? Dieting strategies make sense when saving money.

By KIM VATIS
Updated 9:45 PM CDT, Wed, Mar 17, 2010

$mart Money: Track Pennies Like You Track Calories

U.S. MintThe principles of watching your weight can also apply to watching your finances, one Naperville woman discovered.Modeled after Weight Watchers, Alice Wood’s Wealth Watchers just might be the perfect fat buster for your budget.

Alice Wood said she gained weight following a brain injury. Shortly afterward, she says her finances tanked. But when Weight Watchers worked to help her shed 20 pounds, she thought it just might work for money, too.

And it did. In just the first year, Wood and her husband saved $12,000 dollars; enough for a family vacation.

The trick, Wood says, is tracking spending the same way dieters track their calories.

“It can be ten dollars a day,” Wood explained. “Ten seems like nothing, but it’s $10 times 365 days, and now we’re talking real money!”

Wood’s new book, Wealth Watchers, explains how to journal all your expenses.
Here’s the gist:

  1. Evaluate: Collect all your bills and paycheck stubs and figure out how much money you really have to spend each month.
  2. Create Daily Budget: Divide your spending power by the number of days in the month to learn your daily allowance.
  3. Track it: Write down every penny you spend and what it’s for.

Big spenders with iPhones can let an application do all the math. Red and green arrows let you easily see if you’re within your daily budget allowance.

Chicago Public School students will next month get their own journals from Wealth Watchers. Visa is sponsoring the effort to improve financial literacy during Money Smart Week. Teachers will assist students with setting a goal and tracking their students progress.

McDonald’s and the City of Chicago have also participated to help their employees.

Practical Money Matters – Wealth Watchers

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Wealth Watchers

Practical Money Matters

by Jason Alderman

Anyone who’s ever tried to lose a few pounds knows that not every diet works for every person. Similarly, it may take a few tries to find a system for managing your personal finances that you can stick to.

For many people, a simple program called “Wealth Watchers” could be the solution. As its name might imply, Wealth Watchers features the journaling technique popularized by Weight Watchers, where you track every morsel eaten – or in this case, every dollar spent – each day.

The idea is that by carefully monitoring your spending habits, you become more aware of, and more likely to change, behavioral patterns that caused you to overdo it in the first place. The program also places heavy emphasis on the importance of financial education.

Wealth Watchers was born from adversity. Its founder, Alice Wood, was a successful estate-planning attorney whose occupation made her very knowledgeable about personal finance issues. But after sustaining a brain injury during a freak airplane accident, Wood suddenly found she was becoming forgetful, unable to concentrate and prone to making poor financial decisions that later plunged her into debt.

Another byproduct of her accident was unexpected weight gain. Wood notes, “I went to Weight Watchers to help drop the extra pounds, and in one of those ‘lightbulb’ moments, I realized that the solution to both my weight and spending problems lay in the simple, daily discipline of keeping track.”

After developing and practicing the core principles that would come to define Wealth Watchers – such as “spend less than you make” – Wood began sharing her ideas with family members and friends, and eventually with larger groups. Then, in January she published a book entitled “Wealth Watchers: A Simple Program to Help You Spend Less and Save More” (Free Press, $19.95).

The book contains formulas for calculating what it costs to live each month, as well as worksheets to track your daily disposable income (DDI), which is the amount you can safely spend each day without going into debt. “The difference between your DDI goal and your actual average daily total of expenses will show you if you are staying on track,” she explains.

Another feature I like is the “Call to Action for Consumers,” a 16-step roadmap for achieving financial health. A few of those steps people sometimes overlook include:

  • Make sure your partner is on board with your goals.
  • Define and understand the difference between fixed, semi-fixed and discretionary expenses.
  • Know your credit score: If it falls below 700, make it higher. Find tips at www.whatsmyscore.org.
  • Set up and strictly follow a bill payment system to avoid late payment charges. Many people find automatic payments from credit card or checking accounts helpful.
  • Know your “small leaks” – spending weaknesses that can undermine your goal (e.g., buying unnecessary gadgets).
  • Share your goal with others. That’s why so many folks find Weight Watchers meetings helpful.

The bottom line is: Find a system that works for you. For Wood, adapting techniques she learned from Weight Watchers to track and control expenses was the key to her financial recovery.

A Great Program for Your Finances

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Published March 04, 2010
Associated Content – Business and Finance
by: Sophie Walton

A Great Program for Your Finances

While trying to do some research on Weight Watchers, I accidentally misspelled “weight” and ended up at a website for Wealth Watchers. I thought, “Well this might be something worth checking out because I could always use an extra buck or two.” What I discovered was interesting enough for me to purchase the book and check into setting up a group at my church.

Wealth Watchers was founded in 2005 by Alice Wood after she experienced an injury that left her unable to manage her money and in debt. She structured Wealth Watchers based on principals she learned from her Weight Watchers meetings – – daily journaling and group accountability. Alice wrote a book about her experience entitled Wealth Watchers to help others learn from her experience, overcome their debt and learn to spend less than their net income.

The core to the Wealth Watchers program is calculating your Daily Disposable Income (DDI). After calculating your DDI, you will learn the exact amount you may spend each day without going into debt. Once you learn how to calculate your DDI, you will begin to see how your daily spending can help you save for larger purchases or is a detriment to your finances. Controlling your daily budget will help you learn better spending habits that will, day by day, help you reach your financial goals. Wealth Watchers was used as part of the “McDonald’s Practical Money Skills” program a financial literacy program for employees.

Wealth Watchers has programs designed for corporations, educators, faith-based and community groups. Each program will use the power of daily journaling and group accountability, much like that of Weight Watchers, to educate members about budgets and build lasting skills that will help members reach their individual financial goals. You can request information and rates online at Wealth Watchers website.

On their website are also several savings calculators that will help you in your quest to conquer the budget demons you face. Rework you budget, find out what the true cost of credit will be or plan for retirement with these calculators. There are also calculators to help you save for a goal, calculate an auto loan or compound interest for saving money. Each of these tools alone will help you with finances; however, when they are combined with the powerful information in Wealth Watchers anyone can learn how to reach their financial goals.

Wealth Watchers is available at most bookstores and online at Simon & Schuster for only $19.95 (also available in Digital eBook).

Pay your bills on time.

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Don’t get hit with unneeded interest or late charges. Sign up with an online bill pay service (timely delivery and no postage fees) or get your checks in the mail at least seven to ten business days before the due date.

Drink a $4 cup of coffee daily?

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

We have all fallen victim to a tempting latté or specialty drink at some point during the day. Sadly, that daily habit quickly adds up to $1,460 a year. However, if you can drop it to twice a week you have just saved yourself $1,044 a year! Now that’s something to celebrate.