Melcar Group

Budget Guru

Don’t eat past 7 pm to save $

When I followed the phrase “Don’t eat anything past 7 or 8 p.m“, I was purely following that for health purposes. However, I now find myself following that phrase for both health and financial purposes.

By stopping your food consumption past 7 or 8 pm, you are essentially saving yourself money. It is so easy to snack throughout the evening, especially on weekends or when you are together with family. Personally I am a night owl, so I love being awake and active during the night so it can be a challenge to follow this.  In the past I would easily find myself consuming anything from a bag of popcorn, bowl of salad to a frozen pizza.

Think about it though, you could probably consume a whole extra meal between the hours of 7 till when you go to bed. Over one week that equals 7 extra meals which essentially is 2 days of wasted meals and money.

March 26, 2009 Posted by | Creative Saving Tips | 1 Comment

Brand Name Prices?

 

As a Female, I am aware of famous brand name designers that produce wonderful clothes, handbags, shoes, wallets (I love wallets!), perfume etc.
However, I am really never able to buy brand name products. WHY? They are way too expensive. I would much rather have the sanity of spending
40$ on a handbag that I love, than 300$ that I love as well, but have the feeling of guilt afterwards.

shoes
I just bought these really nice shoes online, and they were only 28$. I am positive if I bought the real item, they would have
been $60 plus.

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Social Situations | Leave a comment

As spring has arrived and summer is that much closer, it is much easier to go out and spend money so freely.

People flock to patios to relax with a few friends, over a few drinks and food, or buying a new summer wardrobe, or just the daily things that can occur when the weather is nice and we just want to be outside. See in the winter, I am perfectly fine with staying at home, having a nice hot drink, and relaxing. So, since summer is almost here, we should all adjust our budgets to ensure that we allow ourselves the appropriate entertainment money value to ensure we stay balanced.

It is so easy to spend a good 60-80$ at a patio with a few friends, or $100 on a few new tops and bottoms, even a trip to starbucks can total up to $10. Of course there are many things to do in the summer that are free, or little cost such as park picnic, going to your local beach, outside events hosted by your city, or just getting outside for a walk.

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Social Situations | | Leave a comment

Canada’s Economic Situation

Being interested in personal finances (compared to corporate finances for example), I read a lot of news, articles, and publications on current situations. The following information has been gathered from www.bnn.ca

We often hear about the current status of the United States, mainly because of the popularity of the country, the recent election of Barack Obama, and the crisis that they are truly in. However, they are not the only country that is facing economic turmoil; Canada is also facing many hardships as a country and as individuals.

The current jobless rate in Canada is now reaching 7.7 percent, and during the month of February alone there were approximately 82, 000 job losses.  Overall in the past for months, Canada has lost a total of 295, 000 jobs. This translates to an average of 73,750 each month for the last four months. This is really difficult times for everyone. 

As individuals, you can only prepare and equip yourself with the knowledge of your personal finances as well as being aware of minor changes that you can make in your daily life to save a few dollars here and there.

March 16, 2009 Posted by | Financial News | | Leave a comment

Restaurant Prices

For many people, going out to a restaurant is something we take for granted and probably do it more often than we should. Personally, it is not at the top of my list for excitement; however my fiancé really enjoys eating at restaurants. So, being committed and in this relationship together I understand I do have to compromise so we are able to do activities we both enjoy.

There are two things that really bother me about restaurants:

1. I really don’t like the fact that I don’t know everything that I am eating. For example; there may be something in the food that is not advertised, or it is possible that something “bad” could have happened behind the scenes to my food. Overall, I would much rather prepare my own meal and enjoy it within the comfort of my home.

2. MONEY…we are paying for the convenience of being lazy and getting food prepared for us. Sure it is acceptable once in a while, but if you are watching your money…restaurants are a sure place to spend a lot of it.

With that being said, it is possible to trim a little bit of the bill by watching for local discounts or deals. For example; we have all heard of the Thursday night all you can eat wings; or Wednesday nights are buy one entrée get one half price. So why not take advantage of these deals? Search the internet for your local favourite places and I am positive their website will advertise specialty deals where you can overall have a better time while saving some money.

March 13, 2009 Posted by | Savings | Leave a comment

Bailout…

Probably one of the most used words in society lately, however many of us may be thinking we could use a bailout right about now.
As we recover from our holiday (over)spending, and creep into summer where we enjoy doing day trips, family trips, week long getaways etc., now is the time to really create a summer budget for yourself and your family.

Summer really is the time where the most freedom is felt with hot, sunny days, and warm starry nights…this is the perfect time to escape hibernation and have some fun. In my personal experiences, summer is the time to rekindle the family bond with exciting adventures, yet it is also possible to be frugal and smart with your money. It is important to remember to live within your means and what is available to you at this moment, and be aware of your financial situation before making any concrete plans.

Recently engaged, my fiancé and I wanted to venture out and take a vacation for ourselves sometime within 2009.  Being slightly structured myself, I always try to plan and determine a general outline of what we have happening in the near future. This does not mean I am not spontaneous, it just means that we have a general understanding and guidelines of what to expect for the upcoming year. So, one of our “resolutions” coming into 2009, was to create a separate expense category for our future planned vacation. Each week since the beginning of the year we have set aside a small portion of our income that we have allocated to this category. This has allowed us to be fully prepared for when we do take our vacation, and doing this we will not have to rack up credit card debt.

It really is this simple! If you create a guideline of major purchases/events that the future year will hold, you can create an expense category where you allocate money on a bi-weekly basis (or however your pay cheque is calculated) and when the time comes to enjoy your adventure, there will be no financial crisis. Doing this will lead to a more enjoyable getaway where you can truly relax and not think about your minimum monthly payments to your credit card company once you get back from your adventure.

March 9, 2009 Posted by | Savings | Leave a comment

What is a Miscellaneous expense?

What truly is a miscellaneous cost in terms of creating a budget? There really is no right or wrong answer; it is more what works for you. It is important to build your budget so that there is structure and definite categories to ensure you stick to the plan. Being a budget guru, it is my passion to create and maintain complex budgets that allow users the freedom of simply recording their expenses in the appropriate column while sustaining a comfortable life.

Generally, a miscellaneous cost is something that is not a repetitive expense. For example, food should never be found in the misc category; rather it should be an item like going to the movies. Miscellaneous is meant to provide a little bit of extra money for your budget period if something comes up during that time. Some examples of items that should be included in the misc category are as follows:

1. Clothing
2. Makeup
3. Personal hygiene products
4. Lottery tickets
5. Coffee/Beverages
6. Gifts (Birthday, anniversary, graduation, etc.)
7. School supplies
8. Salon/Barber expenses
9. Restaurants/Café’s

Buy watching your miscellaneous expenses, you can really slim down your spending and create the opportunity to save more money. This is not to say that you can’t do anything fun or rewarding for yourself, you just have to plan and budget for these events.

March 2, 2009 Posted by | Money Basics | Leave a comment

Coffee a Day..

Coffee a Day..?

Find yourself rushing for the morning java rush? Or the mid-afternoon energy boost from your favourite caffeine drinks? Buying and drinking coffee has become the norm. With so many café’s, coffee shops, specialty coffee chains, how can we resist? Many people believe that they can’t truly operate until they get their “morning” coffee into them. Well that is fine (financially speaking, maybe not so medically) just be cautious on how you get that daily coffee.

Depending on where you purchase your daily coffee, it can really add up to real savings (or spending) over one year.
Refer to the following graph for an illustration

Regular Coffee $1.50 * 365 = 547.50
Cappuccino $3.50 * 365 = 1277.50
Lattes $4.00 * 365 = 1460.00Savings

Find yourself with the situation that most resembles you, and realize that ONE coffee per day, really does add up. I am not saying you can’t treat yourself, but you have to be smart about your choices. Maybe a good way to treat yourself is allow yourself to buy two coffees per week. Depending on your work schedule maybe you find Monday’s to be the most challenging day to get going, but if you allow yourself that “treat” on a Monday, it might motivate you more. You will notice that the less you have of the product, the more you will begin to really enjoy it, while saving some money at the same time.

Don’t forget, there is always the traditional method, such as making your own coffee at home. This way you can enjoy what you make, with the people you want to be with.

February 25, 2009 Posted by | Savings | | Leave a comment

Grocery Shopping Tips

Grocery Shopping

How many people really enjoy grocery shopping? For some it can be enjoyable, for others it is just another item on the “to do list”. During this difficult time period, many companies have raised their prices to fend off their decreasing profits. This places a greater problem on many consumers since it is becoming more and more complicated to live off their current income, let alone putting money away for savings.

Below are helpful tips that I recommend to consumers while grocery shopping.

Create a Budget
First and foremost; you should create a structured budget for grocery expenditures that ensure enough quantity of food is purchased to last for the budget period. For example; if you shop on a weekly basis, ensure your budget is substantial enough to last for the entire week or if you shop bi-weekly, ensure you purchase enough groceries to last that time frame. Without a budget, there is no guidance or structure and as consumers it is too easy to over spend when we are faced with not knowing what is a need compared to a want.

Read your local Flyers
A fast, simple and logical method to see what local vendor is offering their products at a more reasonable price.

Collect Coupons
Coupons are a great way to save an extra 1$ per item here and there. It might seem like a waste of time or that is really won’t make a difference, but common sense really shows that it does pay off. Take for example a coupon that is valid for 1 dollar off a loaf of bread. Over one year, if purchased weekly with the coupon, this amounts to a savings of 52 dollars. Coupons can be found on many online websites, as well being delivered through the mail. Keep your eye open for these savings.

Make a List
This is probably the most cost saving tactic one can use. Many consumers feel that they know exactly what they need and want when they are grocery shopping, however this is not the case. Marketing departments have become so intelligent and so advanced that they know exactly how to catch your attention, and make you buy! Think of all the items that are located right by the cashier, that is meant to be last minute items that you think will come in use. Personally, I can not go grocery shopping (or any kind of shopping) without a list made. It provides that sense of structure that allows me to purchase exactly what I will need for the entire week.

Brand name Products?
Brand name products are clearly more expensive than private label items. Why? Well there are many causes of this, firstly advertisers assume that people will fall into their trap believing that their product really is that much better than their generic competitor. Also, brand name products have to build an extensive marketing and advertising campaign that will attract and retain their loyal customers. In all seriousness, there are some no name products that don’t measure up with their brand name competitors, but overall I don’t feel there is a need to spend more money on a specific brand. In times like this, I feel it is more important to buy the right food at the right price.

Price Match
Did you know that some companies offer what is known as price matching? This simply means that they will match the price of a product if they sell it for a greater amount than their competitors. Usually all you have to do is bring in the flyer to illustrate the lower price and that price will be granted. This can be go a long way when purchasing staple items, and it allows you to complete all your shopping at one main store.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Savings | 1 Comment

Introduction

My Roots

Recently graduated, I am just stepping foot into my career path with hopes of a successful future. I became interested with finance, specifically personalized budgets when I was quite young. I always had a natural ability to budget the money I did have (even if it was only 20 dollars) and realize that money is something that is earned, not granted. As a child I delivered the local newspaper to earn a small amount of money, this really taught me at a young age the value of money. My parents illustrated to me that a portion of my money should be saved, and a portion can be spent. Of course, at such a young age there was really nothing I would purchase other then the odd gumball or hair accessory.

 

This is the basics of money; you analyze your income, distribute it to the appropriate place and create a balanced budget. This really provided me the foundation required to manage money, I then went on to a real part-time job while I was still in school, and now I am employed Full Time, yet still practice the foundations of my childhood.

 

Since I have been exposed to the financial world, my observations scare me. We, as a society have become what I like to call “void fillers”. We buy “things” to fill our void within ourselves that feel empty. Sure it may be a generalization; however it is accurate for the greater part of the population. Mixed with the role models that we have today for younger people, the celebrities that have the ability to buy essentially anything that they want, we fall into this path of trying to live a life that is not meant for us.

I do not live an expensive life, I purchase the essentials to survive comfortably, and I save/invest to create a brighter future for myself and my family. I collect coupons, I search for deals, I buy items that are on sale 90% of the time, and I usually do not buy brand name articles. If I did the opposite of what I am doing, of course I would be in a situation that would cause me stress, anxiety, and a bleak future. It is my interest in life to analyze and create personalized budgets that are sustainable and enable the person to save a substantial amount of their money for their future.

 

 

 

 

 


February 18, 2009 Posted by | Introduction | Leave a comment