Budget Friendly Meal Ideas

A lot of the time the hardest part of budgeting is trying to find meals that don’t make your life seem so repetitive.  Trying not to eat out at your favorite restaurant is one of the hardest things to do, especially when cravings set in.  These budget friendly meals will help your feel like you there is light at the end of the tunnel for us who are budgeting.

Spaghetti: This is not only a meal that makes you feel at home, but you can even have left overs for lunch the next day.  Not to mention you pretty much add any ingredient to make it yours!

Tacos: For those days you are feeling a little spicy.  You can use any fillings of your choice: ground beef, chicken, fish, or veggies!  Pair with a few side dishes (90-second rice and canned black beans), and hello! You are suddenly at your favorite Mexican restaurant.  Okay, maybe not, but you just saved a ton of money!

Chicken and Rice: This is one of the most classic meals you can make, and the process is truly simple.  All you need is chicken, water, rice, and a couple of cans of cream of chicken soup to make fabulous meal that can feed a whole family.

Roasted Chicken: Take your favorite dark meat cut of chicken (these are cheaper than chicken breast), rub them down with a smoky rub, and pop them in the oven without even wrapping them up.  You can pair one of your favorite cost-efficient sides like canned green beans or instant mashed potatoes.

 

Budgeting for meals sounds difficult when your first think about it, but when there is a will, there is always a way.  The options above are just a few of many that can help you navigate food excellence while trying to save money.

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5 Ways to Up Your Money Game in 2018

This article was developed as part of Till’s partnership with EVERFI, Inc.

It’s time for a mid-year check-in on new year resolutions for self-improvement. It’s never too late to prioritize your financial wellness or re-calibrate goals you set in January.

Ready to up your finances? Read on.

  1. Make a Budget and Stick to it. Budgeting is one of most effective ways to manage your money. Creating and monitoring a budget allows you to track your expenses, adapt to changes, and achieve your financial milestones. Budgeting can also help you save for emergencies and plan for the long run – including retirement.

Use an online budget building tool to break your budget down into simple, easy steps and get started: Click Here

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2. Build Your Emergency Savings. Unexpected expenses happen more often than we like to think. According to a 2018 Bankrate study, less than half of Americans are not financially prepared to cover the expenses that come with emergencies, such as illness, job loss, or even home and auto repairs.

Get more information on the immediate steps you can take this year to start and grow your savings: Learn More

 

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3. Plan for Your Retirement Now. Less than half of Americans take the steps needed to set themselves up for a secure retirement. While saving for the future is easy to put off in favor of more immediate needs, the earlier you start, the more opportunity you’ll have to grow your savings over time.

There’s no better time than now to start planning for retirement. Learn about options, like IRAs and 401(k) plans, with our free retirement education: Retirement 101
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  1. Get Ahead of Your Taxes. Taxes are confusing, and many people get bogged down by complex terms and lengthy paperwork. However, doing your taxes doesn’t need to be a source of anxiety. In fact, getting ahead of your taxes can reap many benefits, including lowering stress and having early access to a refund for year-long planning.

Make filing your taxes a breeze with tips from our 5 minute interactive learning module: Click Here
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5. Take Control of Your Credit. Your credit score can have significant impacts on your financial security and flexibility. Yet, many people have never had the opportunity to learn what a credit score is, what factors impact a credit score, and what actions they can take to make sure their score is healthy.

Take a few minutes to understand the factors that impact your credit score and you’ll be well on your way to building a more secure financial future: Take Control

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No matter the time of year, do a quick check of your financial health and progress towards goals and make adjustments as needed.

Registered users can access our entire library of financial education topics through the online dashboard at www.HelloTill.com.

Life Tips for Acing Your Finances

No matter your stage of life or state of finances, this infographic has tips to help you understand and conquer financial milestones.

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Free Budgeting Tools to Start Saving

Try not to overthink budgeting to the point of stressing yourself out.  Trying to budget and save money can be challenging for us all, especially if you do not have the right tools to get started.  There are multiple ways to budget your money that literally cost you nothing.

  • Use your very own online banking app: Banking online is a tool that can be used at no cost and most of us are already using this form of banking.  Check out the budgeting dashboard that allows tracking of your cash flow and spending and setting your spending target.
  • Create an Excel Spreadsheet: I know, I know most people cringe at the thought of using Excel.  I definitely do from time to time; however, it is a great way to keep track of all of your spending on a monthly basis.  This will allow for you to see how much you are spending, when you are spending, and what you are spending those hard earned dollars on.
  • Use the envelope method: The envelope method is great for those of us that have to physically see where our money is going.  When you get a paycheck, take a portion of your monies and put it in an envelope, then write what that money is for on the envelope.  This can be done with multiple bills or you can even do it with your spending target.  If you use this option with your spending target the goal is to not run out of money before your next pay period.  If you run out then you will need to go back and revisit where you are spending the most.
  • Notebook Method: Most of us keep some kind of journal or notebook to jot things down we consider important.  Why not use this to make your spending important and track what you are paying out monthly and daily?  Be sure to list all of your monthly household bills and the due dates at the beginning of your book.  Next create a page for your weekly budget break down.  From there you can create a budget based on when your pay dates and the due dates of your bills.

Trying to budget and saving money can work for anyone; the key is starting with a realistic amount that works for you. Always remember budgeting and saving something is better than not trying, even if you are only outing away a couple of dollars at a time.

Rescue Your Security Deposit Refund

Moving is hard, trust us. If you haven’t calculated the Real Cost of Moving, visit our previous blog post before you turn in your notice.

If you do plan on moving out, follow these simple steps to maximize your security deposit refund.

  1. Clean the unit before you move out.

    The golden rule in property management is to leave the apartment or home in the same condition it was given to you, minus any normal “wear and tear” such as worn down carpet areas from foot traffic. To avoid cleaning costs that can range from $200-$500, clean it yourself. Make sure to read your lease to see if steam cleaning is required so you’re not hit with the cost later.

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  2. Fix any pet damage.

    No, your pet fee or pet rent does not cover damages your pet did to the unit while living there, unless it was deemed a deposit or otherwise specified in your lease agreement. Replacements for chewed up blinds are an easy purchase at a hardware store for $5 that can cost up to $20 per blind if you wait for the landlord to replace after you move out.

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  3. Ask your landlord for a move out checklist.

    Make sure you know in advance what your landlord will be looking for during your final walkthrough after you move out. Being prepared will allow you to get the unit back into pre-move in condition so you get back as much of your deposit as possible. Do they require you get a professional cleaning? Does your lease have any other requirements? Don’t be blindsided!

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  1. Pay your last month’s rent on time.

    Many people confuse their security deposit as paying for the last month’s rent, but that is usually not the case. Check your lease agreement first, and unless it’s specifically stated, do not assume you can use it as such. In most cases, your deposit is to only be used after you move out to charge against any damages to the unit. Any unpaid balances such as rent will also be applied, which can leave you owing money. Avoid ruining your credit and rental history by paying the full month or per-day rent on time as usual before you move out.

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Depending on your state’s landlord tenant laws, it can take up to 30 days to receive your final statement and security deposit refund. Careful planning and move-out prep can set you up to receive as large a refund as possible!

Real Talk: You Need Renter’s Insurance

Thinking of skipping or canceling renter’s insurance in order to save money? Think again!

Renter’s insurance is the #1 most important coverage for anyone who is not already covered by homeowner’s insurance.

Let’s say it again for the folks in the back: If you do not own your current living space, you need renter’s insurance.

“What’s the big deal?”

Unless you personally have homeowner’s insurance or are legally married (not just engaged) to someone with homeowner’s insurance, your personal items are not covered by an insurance policy. Meaning, if there is a flood, fire, tornado, accident, or Act of God of any kind, your items are gone forever and you’ll pay out of pocket to replace them.

Your landlord’s insurance policy only covers the actual building and any appliances/features owned by the landlord in your rental space.

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“Doesn’t it cost a lot?”

No. The average policy is around $15 per month ($180 per year), and now there are new companies like Lemonade boasting rates as low as $5 per month. Even if you underestimate the value of ALL your personal belongings in your living space, the cost is no comparison (Think: Computer, phone, clothes, shoes, dishes, furniture, etc.).

Your car insurance company usually also has renter’s insurance, which can help you save money by bundling policies.

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“Doesn’t it just cover my stuff?”

No. If your policy includes liability coverage (and you should definitely have it), you are covered if a guest gets injured in your apartment or if you accidentally burn half of your kitchen down attempting your own cooking show. Your out-of-pocket costs can escalate quickly if you have to repay any medical bills, legal expenses, and/or repair costs.

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Bite the bullet and get renter’s insurance now. Tree falls through your roof? Covered. Pipe bursts in the winter? Covered. Break-in? Covered.

Your future self and wallet with thank you!

The True Cost of Paying Rent Late

The first of the month can sneak up on you, and if your bank account isn’t ready to pay up, you could be seeing red. How much does it actually cost to pay your rent late?

Know the fees.

Your lease agreement will list the late fee charged by your landlord if you pay after the designated grace period (also noted in the lease).

Cost: 5%-10% of rent amount

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Know the deadlines.

If you still have not paid rent after the late fee, your landlord will most likely begin the eviction process. Depending on your state’s laws, the landlord will send a written demand to pay rent or move out (also known as a notice to “pay or quit”) with a deadline of 3-10 days. Landlords usually charge a filing fee that covers the court’s fees and processing.

After the period of time in the notice expires, your landlord can file for eviction or dispossessory, which is a legal notice to the court that you have not paid rent and the landlord wants to take back possession of the property. The sheriff’s office or a designated process server will notify you in writing (via USPS mail or posted on your front door) that the landlord has filed eviction. Pay attention to any court deadlines such as filing your answer.

  • Filing an answer means you are officially responding to the court’s notice of eviction. In most counties/states, filing an answer automatically places your case on the court’s magistrate calendar. This also means that your landlord may charge an additional attorney fee for attending the court date.
  • Failing to show up to your court date will result in a “default judgment” in the landlord’s favor. A writ of possession will be taken out right away, which means the landlord is allowed to take back possession of the home once the sheriff’s office completes the eviction.
  • Attending court may allow for a court-ordered payment plan, but it may be risky depending on your state’s usual process. If you miss any court-ordered payments, the landlord can file the writ of possession.

Costs: $100-$250 Filing Fee
             $200-$300 Attorney Fee
             $50-$100 Writ of Possession

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Know how it affects your credit.

Did you know that civil court filings are part of your credit score? Every time a landlord files for eviction, the case is reported to the credit bureaus. Future landlords and creditors will see the eviction filings, even if the eviction was cancelled by a payment made in full. Too many filings will disqualify you from some rentals. It’s a good idea to use free credit reporting sites yearly so you’re not surprised by your score or history in the future.

Cost: Negative rental history and/or lower credit score

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Know your options.

Till now offers a rental loan that may be cheaper than your late fee! Depending on your state and application, using a rental loan that can be repaid bi-weekly over several months may be your cheapest option. Paying back the loan actually helps improve your credit score by building credit history! To apply for a rental loan visit: https://tillsavings.com/loan_application

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Plan ahead whenever possible and research your options so you’re not hit by surprises later. Happy renting!