The Neyland Report
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Creating a monthly household budget is a pretty predictable endeavor – rent, utilities, food, school, etc. But here at JCN, we have a suggestion for one more thing: FUN! While that may sound like an odd budget item, there are many reasons to allow yourself some cash for good times. Even the most disciplined budgeters need a little self indulgence.

There are ways to figure in some fun money. For example, in many cities, your utility companies offer plans in which your monthly payments are averaged out over a year. The payments are often based on your billing history. That means your payments will be about the same every month, instead of heavier electric and water bills in the hot months. That means you can adjust your utilities budget differently than you traditionally have. This way you may have some extra cash during the months you usually pay bigger bills.

You may even be able to lower your monthly grocery costs. Are you shopping competitively, or are you consistently buying the same products from the same store every month? Are you hooked on name brands, or would you consider lower-priced generic or in-store brands for some of your items? Many of the items you have been buying at your convenient neighborhood store could be purchased at one of the big-box stores for far less. Items such as milk, cereal, produce and meat trend much less expensive at certain stores. You may have to some store-hopping to make this happen, but remember, you need to building some FUN to your budget.

As for credit cards, we still suggest paying your balance in full every month, but are you using the right cards? As you know, many cards offer cash back incentives, reward points for dining out, or even gasoline. Be sure you are applying for the right cards, and using the appropriate card when purchasing items that promise cash back. Think long term when it comes to travel. If you plan to take a dream trip several months down the road, you need a card that promises miles. Did you know there are credit cards that actually offer two miles per every dollar you spend, every day? Other cards offer you the opportunity to redeem your miles as a statement credit toward travel purchases. Travel perks are common, but you must do your research before you apply for a new card.

The average consumer has three to four credit cards. But what if you receive an offer of zero interest for 12 to 24 months? That is the time to transfer your largest balance(s) to the new card. The average interest rate on a new credit card is more than 19 percent, while the average rate on an existing card is more than 14 percent. Think of the money you could save with a zero percent card. That’s money you can budget for FUN.

Here on The Neyland Report, you will often read about work/life balance. But just as important is your obligatory/discretionary spending balance. Remember, we are determined to help you live your best life. Have some fun!

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