Three Simple Ideas that Helped Me Budget Better

My parents have taught me one of the most essential things a person must have: a budget. A lot of people take this idea for granted and end up regretting their purchasing decisions until it is already too late. The ultimate roadblock that keeps people from setting a budget is making it a habit. Ever since I was little, I’ve been keeping track of my expenses and savings in the hopes of becoming financially independent one day. My budgeting strategy evolved as I aged and I would like to share to you three simple ideas to help you come up with a budget plan.

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Why Everyone Needs a Budget Plan

Once you have created the perfect budget plan for yourself or your family, you will realize that you have been wasting your money on petty (and useless) things. I am referring to beverages, alcohol, cigarettes, gadgets, too many clothes, diet supplements and such. These things are wants and not needs. You can even live without them. All of these useless junk will reflect on your budget plan and it will help you eliminate all the unnecessary expenses later on.

Idea #1: Personal Finance Planning Programs

These financial planning programs will help you organize and categorize your cash flows and expenditures. Every single detail of your finances will be presented with a cost analysis, which will make you reflect on your recent financial decisions. These programs allow you to input monthly payments and other expenses.

Some personal finance software even allows users to monitor their tax payments and make sure that they are not missing anything. Depending on your chosen system, the software will help you create a sensible monthly budget using graphs and diagrams. These features will demonstrate your current spending habits, and compare them with your investments, savings and bank accounts.

Some of these programs can be used for free while others offer packages for a fee.

Idea #2: Online Money Dashboard Services

Online money dashboards allow me to view all of my savings accounts and credit cards all in one place. This is a very convenient option for me because I no longer have to log into several money – planning websites or plunge onto the sea of bills and statements. It works similarly as when you use a personal financing program, especially with budget illustrations using diagrams and graphs. This is a very useful budgeting tool that helped me monitor all my bank accounts whenever I want. Continue reading

Best Three Artists of Today’s Generation

Take a moment and look at who’s who in the entertainment scene nowadays. I believe that the world of entertainment has the prettiest, most glamorous and widely talented people there can ever be. This is pretty much not surprising because of the way pop culture has impacted public perception and how it has placed premium on looks. I have seen how the most captivating gets the edge, the best looker lands the roles and people just naturally adore beautiful people. Yes, including me.

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Beauty and Talent

I cannot discount it though, that there are beautiful people in the artists industry who do not only possess outstanding looks but are also very good at their craft. Indeed, it is not beauty alone that propelled them to stardom but their great talent and well-honed skills as well. These are the gifted ones, stars whose brilliance shine even when they are not in the limelight. Let me share with you my top three picks of the modern artists in three different fields: film, music and arts.

One of Film’s Finest Today

Hollywood’s “it” girl, 3-time Oscar nominee and winner Jennifer Lawrence would have to be one of the best there is for me. She started with minor roles at first then catapulted to stardom as Katniss in mega blockbuster hit The Hunger Games. What is really inspiring about her though is her natural candor and class. She does not appear to have allowed her popularity to get into her head. She is reported to have been kind to other people and has not been dragged in scandals that are not uncommon to stars in her generation. With more films lined up for her, Lawrence star will continue to shine even brighter. Continue reading

My Ten Cents: Life is Unfair

Photo illustration shows one dollar and 10 cents in Australian currency sitting atop a U.S. one dollar note in Sydney

As you might all know, I am the type of person who loves life more than anything. Lately, I was asked by a friend about my opinion to the ever so popular and never ending rant of having an unfair life. Well, here’s my ten cents about this topic: Life is never unfair. Why do I say so? Let me break it down for you.

You see, life is actually a series of misfortunes – there will always be something that would not go in our way. However, this does not mean that things are already unfair. It might look that way, but when you think about it and get a quick review of all your life experience, you realize that these misfortunes and unfairness is just a big leap for a better life choice.

For an instance, when I was in college, I was not able to be admitted to the university that I liked. Despite my good scholastic standing, I was rejected from the university because, as they put it, “I did not have the personality”. On the other hand, another classmate of mine got into that same university, because apparently, she has “it”, and having the perfect attitude is a bigger factor for them than having good grades to get by. If you think about it, my situation was really unfair in so many levels, but if that hasn’t happened, I might not be on my way to becoming a writer. If I got in, then I might be spending my days dragging myself into understanding scientific terms, when in fact, I am in love with words and languages.

You see, it is not really a matter of how badly you want something to happen. It is actually a matter of good fate when things happen to us. Take for instance a simple deal as not getting what you want. I like furnishing my own home and redesigning it to my satisfaction and I had been saving for a window treatment I saw on a magazine. When I ordered though, they were not available and I was frustrated. Good thing is, a friend suggested http://www.wholesaleblindswarehouse.com/ to me and I found the faux wood blinds that I really loved. The most fortunate thing about it was that, they were at a discount so I actually saved a lot. Now, life isn’t really unfair because there is always something better for you out there. Continue reading

Art Scams: What You Need to Know

artscamI am writing this post for the benefit of artists all over the world that might be vulnerable to the latest fraudulent scheme in the Internet today – art scams. I am an artist myself and like any other 21st century artists, I post my work online. It is flattering to receive compliments for the pieces you made but it is really something when someone offers to buy your work for an amount that is more than you are asking for. This is actually what happens in an art scam.

An email would be sent to the artist’s inbox expressing interest to their art and then go on asking for information that will be necessary in finalizing the transaction. But this is actually just all a scam. You can end up shipping your art without getting paid after the “transaction” or you pay a huge amount for your work to be featured in a gallery that does not even exist.

What I learned from a friend

Brenda Jacobs, a very good friend of mine, recently wrote in her blog about common art scams as well as other types of scams. She covered art contest scams, publishing scams, overpayment scams, and also mentioned the recent work at home scams Home Cash Academy and the A To Z Cash System scam. I learned from her post that an artist’s first line of defense is being a skeptic to unsolicited emails that give lavish praise to his or her latest work. The most common modus operandi of these scammers is that they will pay with cashier’s check or postal money order. Both of these payment methods would take days or even up to a month to get cleared. The scammers often overpay and will ask the artist to return the excess amount to them.

More details on art scams

The best rule therefore is not to ship your work of art before the check clears because there is a big possibility that the check that was used to pay for your work is fraudulent. If you are not careful, you might end up trading your art for nothing and worse, get you into trouble with your bank.

You also need to be wary of urgent transactions. Scammers often hurry their victims to pressure them to act on impulse. You also need to be aware that scammers would claim they are on a vacation or on a far off place making normal transactions impossible or impractical. They can even claim a family member has cancer and will use your vulnerabilities to give in and consider their unusual deal. Be careful with emails that have poor grammar and spelling. Get your guard up if the email is sent from outside the country like Nigeria (a common origin for online scams).

At the end of the day, you have to use your best judgment in assessing transactions you start over the Internet so you can steer clear of any monkey business.