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  • Why You Should Track All Your Spending

    Many people spend more than they realize, wind up buried in debt and dont have enough money left to save for long-term goals. If you dont currently keep track of all your expenses, you should start. Knowing where your money is going can provide valuable insights.

    Create a Budget and Track Every Purchase
    If you dont have a budget, make one. Write down your after-tax income and a list of all your regular expenses. Make estimates for items that can vary from month to month, such as groceries, clothing and entertainment.

    Keep track of every purchase you make, either on paper or with a budgeting app. No matter what method you use, be consistent. It may be difficult at first, but it will become easier once you make it a habit.

    Figure Out Where Youre Wasting Money and Make Changes
    Comparing the amounts you planned to spend with the amounts you actually spent can help you figure out if you are overspending on unnecessary things. For example, you may not realize how much money youre spending on things such as takeout or entertainment, especially if you pay through an app or with autopay. If you have a subscription for a gym or another service, you may realize that you dont use it enough to justify the monthly expense.

    If you make a lot of small credit card purchases and impulse buys, they can add up. Once you realize that, you will be able to cut back on those purchases and avoid racking up more debt.

    You may find that you need to adjust your budget to allocate more money to some categories. If you discover that you are consistently overspending in one area, you may need to find a way to earn more money to afford the lifestyle you want.

    Focus on Your Long-Term Goals
    Tracking your spending can help you take control of your financial situation and reduce your level of stress. Once you have identified unnecessary spending, you will be able to shift money to your financial goals, such as saving for retirement or for your childrens college education or paying off credit cards.

    Keeping track of your spending can help you hold yourself accountable. If you realize that you went over budget one month, you will be able to figure out ways to avoid doing that again. Tracking your spending can also help you see how much progress you have made toward your goals so you can stay motivated.

    Make Sure You and Your Spouse Are on the Same Page
    Tracking expenses is particularly important for couples. If you both make purchases and dont mention them to each other, you may be shocked when you receive a credit card bill with a high balance or overdraw your checking account. Staying organized can help you avoid unpleasant surprises. You may find that logging all your purchases into a shared app is the best approach.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • How to Keep Glassware Safe During Your Next Move

    Keep your breakable items safe and secure with these smart packing tips.

    Choose the Right Packing Materials

    Use dish barrels, a stronger, thicker cardboard created with your kitchen in mind. Utilize plenty of packing paper for the safest travel of delicate glassware.

    Create a Soft Bed of Paper

    Create a six inch cushion at the bottom of each box. Don’t be shy with the packing paper. Crumple up the paper to provide a shock-absorbing space.

    Use Smart Wrapping Methods

    For glasses, the roll and tuck method is best. For plates"again, don’t be shy with the packing paper"lay out two to three layers of packing paper and wrap bottom to top. Wrap each piece in multiple layers for added protection.

    Pack by Weight

    Pack each box with the heaviest and sturdiest items on the bottom. Add extra packing paper in between each layer or item for maximum support.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • 5 Great Vacation Traditions

    Even if your vacation this year only takes you as far as the backyard, you can make it a memorable one by creating simple yet meaningful traditions. Consider these ideas from the vacation-planning experts at VRBO:

    1. Hang a sheet and host a backyard movie night. You can spread out a big blanket for everyone to gather on or arrange a collection of outdoor chairs. Serve appropriate snacks, like popcorn, smores and fresh lemonade.

    2. Collect memorable quotes. Some of our best vacation memories are the comical and inspirational moments we share together. Start a quote-of-the-day journal, to record the best quips and words of wisdom from various family members. Review it at the end of your vacation or at other times the family gathers, such as the holiday season.

    3. Host a potluck. Nothing is better than an outdoor pot-luck dinner, where everyone brings a dish so that no one family member is overburdened with the responsibility of cooking and cleaning. Make sure to involve everyone…even the kids…and have fun sampling everyones creative and sometimes crazy concoctions.

    4. Planner for a day. Whether youre on a road trip or staycation, let everyone play a part by getting to take over the itinerary for the day. The designated planner gets to choose the days activities, as well as the foods that will be eaten. Giving in to this concept opens up all sorts of possibilities for fun and adventure!

    5. Make it an annual occurrence. Whatever vacation traditions you choose, be sure to make them an annual event. This will give the entire family something to look forward to, cherish and pass down through the generations.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • How to Create a High-End Outdoor Space

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • How to Host a Safe and Small Socially Distant Gathering

    Nowadays, it can be hard to decide what to do to protect yourself and your acquaintances when gathering together, while still maintaining important social connections. As long as you are properly following social distance guidelines, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable small gathering.

    Limit the Guest List
    The key to a safe gathering while maintaining social distancing is having enough space to spread out. The best way to do this is to ensure that your gathering truly is small in numbers. Big parties can wait; stick to a few close friends or family members. Remember to check the CDC guidelines to ensure that youre taking the minimum risk possible.

    Host Your Gathering Outdoors
    Outdoor gatherings make it easier to spread apart and having a constant flow of fresh air will ensure that germs arent able to circulate as easily as they would indoors. Guests can still benefit from wearing a mask outdoors for extra protection.

    Keep Objects Separated
    If possible, have guests bring their own food, utensils and seating. This can eliminate the creation of high-touch areas outdoors. For bathroom use, ensure that a path is easily located and keep doors open, if possible, to remove other high-touch areas from use. Ensure that soap and sanitizer is available and easily accessible.

    Choose Games That Promote Social Distance
    Ensuring guests have fun while staying six feet apart can seem like a tall order, but there are actually numerous options for entertainment that fit the bill. Games like cornhole, ladder ball, disc golf, bocce ball, croquet and badminton all allow your guests to keep their distance while enjoying each others company.

    Keep it Simple
    Now is not the time to host the worlds finest soiree. Remember, your guests will likely just be happy to see you! Keep safety and minimal germ spread at the forefront of your mind when planning, but outside of that, dont let perfectionism get in the way of simply enjoying casual time with those you love.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

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