Homeownership Guidance, Advice and Blogs

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

I just spent all my money

Believe it or not, I have a serious issue with spending all the money in my account. There are a few reasons for this, but the bottom line is that when I have access to it, I typically spend it. Here's how I remain a Saving Money Magnet who continues to build wealth in spite of this annoying habit:

1)  Automate my savings. If my entire paycheck was deposited into my checking account I'd likely have $0 saved for retirement. Automatically contributing to my 401k and savings account allows me to grow each and forget that money even exists.

2)  Have a hard to reach savings account. Just in case I spend all my money too early in the month and think about dipping into my savings, I made it slightly difficult to access that money by keeping it in an online bank and having no ATM card. It takes two business days for transferred funds to hit my checking account. Having this built in time allows me to determine if this is a true emergency or just me not properly planning for the month. It's usually the latter, which means the money stays parked.

3)  Have an account just for bills. I have another checking account, also on direct deposit, which is solely for bills. This includes my mortgage, utilities, even life insurance and gym membership. I do have a debit card for that account but don't carry it around. All bills are automated.

4)  I can do whatever I want with the balance! I feel absolutely no guilt for spending every remaining dime because I've saved, contributed to retirement and paid my bills for the month. I've automated my life and trained myself to only spend from one account.

5)  Know where my money is. The only way I can properly fund these accounts is by being clear on how much my bills are, how much I aim to save and for what purpose. Though I regularly monitor my accounts for fraud or inaccurate charges, every six months I check my allocations to determine if I'm putting the right amount in the bills account. If I'm able to reduce my expenses, I have more fun money; otherwise I have less. This is a great opportunity to assess whether something like satellite cable is necessary or whether it's worth going to streaming so I can get my hair done more often. It's interesting how the answer varies every 6 months.

And so it is.