Continuing this latest series on disability insurance, we look at the true cost of being disabled.  Many people imagine themselves disabled as being exactly the same, but with an inconvenience of immobility and the inability to work.  Kraig Strom of BrokenDude.com discusses the real cost of disability though in the following video.
 
 
All of us are accustomed to buying insurance for our car, or even for our health.  However, do we consider buying insurance for our biggest asset: our income?  The following video explains the basics of a great product called disability insurance.
 
 
How many times have you heard the statement "it takes money to make money?"  I bet you've heard it so often you can say it backwards in your sleep.  Well, it may be true, but this touching story below will prove that it doesn't take as much money as you think.
 
 
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To continue on with my last post from Sunday, here are some of the rest of the great practical suggestions from the query I posted on my personal Facebook account asking for budget and saving tips.

5)  Tomas linked me to a fantastic website called Budget Bytes, which contains a lot of very delicious and very cheap recipes for those of you trying to save money on meals.

6)  Yana echoed AJ's suggestion - urging us to run to work when we can and shop at second hand/thrift stores.  She also added that we should do a type of self-consolidation by transferring high interest credit card ballances to lower interest lines of credit.

7)  Matthew gave a great tip for saving on electricity.  He shared his own personal method of plugging all of his electronics in a room into one single surge protector/power bar.  At night, or whenever he leaves the room, he unplugs the bar.  On average the TVs and other electronic devices in your home increase your power bill about 10% just by being plugged in over night.  That is quite a few pennies!

Again, thank you to all of my friends who contributed.

 
 
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Recently I put a request out on my Facebook page for some savings tips from my friends.  I received a lot of great ideas.  Here are some of the best.

1)  Tasha suggested doing your budget based on how often you get paid.  For example, if you get paid bi-weekly create a bi-weekly budget.  All of your excess/spending money should be taken out in cash which will help keep everything straight in your head.

2)  Lindy added the timeless wisdom of preparing your lunches in advance and packing your own Thermos of tea or coffee instead of going to Tim Horton's or Starbucks.

3)  A.J. suggested stocking up on sale items you know you will use regularly, and only buy clothes from second hand stores when possible.  She also suggested riding your bike as often as possible in the summer.  (Editor's note:  I suggest if you want to do this that you save all of your gas receipts and compare them at the end of the year to see how much you saved during the months you rode your bicycle.  I did this personally last year and the result was quite eye-opening.)

4)  Julian reccommended adding a "savings" heading in your budget.  Treat it as an expense and go through your budget and look for any unneccessary extra spending you can cut to increase the amount you can "spend" on savings. 

For time and space reasons I will stop here for now.  Look for the second set of reccommmendations coming soon.  Thanks to everyone who contributed their ideas.

 
 
If you've been keeping up with your reading on Finding North the past ouple of weeks, then certainly you've noticed that I'm a big fan of saving.  My friends know this and the other day one of them asked, "how much should I start saving every month?"  My answer was, "anything!"  I wasn't joking either.  People worry about the interest rate on their investments, when they don't even have anything in their investment at all. 

That said, for those of you who are curious, I took the liberty of adding the basic compound interest calculator below so anyone interested can see how saving even a little bit each month can really add up over time.

Hint:  If you don't know what to put for Interest Rate, then try this.  If you're saving for something within the next 5 years use an interest rate of about 2% or 3%.  For goals ranging 5-12 years in the future, use a 5% or 6% interest rate, and for anything over 12 years, you can try 7% to 8%.  That will give you a fairly safe, conservative estimate.
Compound Interest Calculator
Initial Investment
Regular Investment
Interest Rate
Years
Compounded
Calculate
Powered by CalculateStuff.com
 
 
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The government places a lot of taxes on us that take money out of our pockets.  Here's a tax that will put it back in your pocket.

I came up with this idea a few years back when I had just moved to Halifax and was trying to live on a budget and save money for any unforseen emergencies.

The first step of course is to determine your budget and use the envelope budgeting system to keep yourself on budget.

Every time you make a purchase though, instead of recording just the price you paid, also record a second entry titled "savings tax."  Set your tax at whatever you feel comfortable with.  For me, I added an extra 10% at first, and later changed it to 5%.  It's your choice.

The result will be two benefits.  Not only will you have some extra savings building up that you can take out of your bank and save elsewhere in multiples of $20, but you will also limit your frivelous spending because you won't want to go through the hastle of making all of those extra budget entries.

As always, check out the A Penny Saved... Challenge page for more savings ideas.

 
 
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Have you ever had a business "round up" the change and save you a pocketful of
pennies and nickels?  Doesn't that feel nice?  My first easy saving tip is to do
the same thing with your pocket change.

Every time you make a purchase with cash, keep all of the change.  When you get home  and empty your pockets at night put all of the pennies, nickels, and dimes into
a jar/piggy bank (or just the pennies and nickels if you want).  Not only will your piggy bank get heavier, you won't have a dresser full of loose change -  just the quarters, loonies, and twonies that you actually want.  It's a win-win!

For more great money savings tips check out the A Penny Saved... Challenge page.

 
 
So now that you have your budget prepared, how do you make sure you keep your budget?  Discipline helps, but what helps more is envelope budgeting.  Many truly wealthy people (not just those pretending to be wealthy) only carry as much cash as they need to make the purchases they want.  Most of the rest of us forget how much we've spent/owe and end up buying things with money we didn't realize we had already spent or need to spend.  Envelopes or "money jars" or whatever tool you use can really help.  The following video explains how.
 
 
We saw a couple of posts ago a video by Dave Ramsey on the 7 Baby Steps to becoming financially independent.  I've been talking with a lot of people about saving $1000 recently and most of them tell me the same thing:  I don't have any money.  Now, considering I know they work full-time I know that's not true, especially since I'm only talking to them about saving $25/mo (I've been saving $25/mo or more since I was 17 and the minimum wage was only $5.90/hr).  The truth is, they don't know where to find the $25/mo because they aren't monitoring their spending.  In the following video financial planner, Lamont Stewart, explains the basics about how to make a budget.  Bonus points if you can find the math error.
I'll finish off the post with one quick and easy tip I heard somewhere for setting up a budget:  Live and spend normally for a month, but save every receipt in a shoe box.  At the end of the month divide all of the expenditures into the various categories Lamont wrote on the white board.  These should be your starting amounts for your budget.  Now you can adjust accordingly to make a balanced budget (i.e., "positive cash flow").