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Author: Tiffani Jackson, CCCC, CSLC, CFE

How to Plan for Occasional Expenses

Certain major expenses occur throughout the year on an irregular basis. Things like auto insurance premiums or real estate taxes (if you do not escrow) pop up a couple of times each year and can be large amounts.

It may be difficult, if not impossible, to pay these bills, along with your regular bills, from a single paycheck.

The most convenient way to pay for these expenses is to set small amounts of money aside regularly in a special account so that it is available when those bills arrive.

Review this list and record the amount that you anticipate you will need when these bills come due. Estimate for occurrences like car repairs, medical bills, holiday spending, etc.

Expense Annual Amount

  • Car Repairs
  • License Plates
  • Household Maintenance
  • Snow Removal/Lawn Care
  • Taxes
  • Vacation
  • Medical/Dental
  • Car Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Gifts
  • Back to School Spending
  • Holiday Spending


Expense Savings Calendar

The calendar below is a good way to help you think ahead to these expenses. Write the expense under each month they are due. Total up the annual amount needed and divide by 12 to get a monthly amount you need to set aside.

January __________
February __________
March __________
April __________
May __________
June __________
July __________
August __________
September __________
October __________
November __________
December __________

Total Expenses $__________

Total expenses divided by 12 = amount to be saved each month


If you need help getting started, feel free to give us a call (513) 868-9220 to schedule an appointment with one of our financial coaches. We are here to help in any way we can!

Tiffani Jackson, CCCC, CSLC, CFE

Phone: (513) 868-9220
Toll-Free: (888) 597-2751

How to Save for Your Vacation

When summer rolls around it is usually time to take that family vacation. It should be a relaxing, fun time for you and your family. One way to have more fun and reduce stress is to plan and budget for your trip.

The summer vacation season is the second-largest credit card spending season, after the holiday season. More credit card transactions are done in June, July, and August than all other months except December.

Here are some tips that can help you avoid returning to a huge pile of credit card debt:

• Create a vacation budget. Review your regular budget and figure out how much extra you have available for your vacation. Once you know the amount, stick to it.

• Discuss your plans with your family. Once you know how much you can spend, get your family together to decide on where you can go and what you can do.

• Research your options. Look at travel guides, use the internet, and get information from local visitors bureaus to find the best deals, discounts, and coupons that are available.

• Have a credit plan. Decide in advance how much you will put on your credit cards.

Plan now for next year. Now is the time to start setting money aside for next year’s vacation. You will be surprised how fast it adds up.

Credit cards can be a useful tool for vacation. They are safer than cash and may give you some type of reward or bonus for their use. But they can also make it easy to overspend. Limit your charges to budgeted expenses and make every attempt to pay your balances in full when you return.


If you need help getting started, feel free to give us a call (513) 868-9220 to schedule an appointment with one of our financial coaches. We are here to help in any way we can!

Planning for Unexpected Expenses

Planning for Unexpected Expenses

It is a fact of life that unplanned expenses will happen to all of us.

We can plan and budget all we like, but at some point, an unexpected expense will arise that will derail all our planning. So the best thing to do is acknowledge they will happen and plan the best we can.

General Tips

  • First, compile a list of irregular expenses. Sit down with your family and write down every irregular expense you can think of for the year. Think of things like items that might be getting old and might need replacing, and home repairs, and car maintenance. Anything that is not a monthly bill is an irregular expense. Write them down and estimate how much they will cost.
  • Then, start to save for your irregular expenses.  Adding up all the expenses you came up with and dividing by 12 will give you an amount that you will need to save each month.
  • Finally, start a dedicated savings account and set up an automatic transfer of the monthly amount of unexpected expenses you have.


Home Repairs and Maintenance

An unexpected home repair can be very expensive. In addition to the planning tips listed above, there are some other steps you can take to avoid unplanned repairs. When it comes to home maintenance, regular checkups can help you catch problems before they become emergencies.

Check for proper drainage around your house to prevent foundation problems and keep your trees trimmed to keep limbs from falling or scraping against the roof. Service your heating and cooling system annually to make sure it is in top running shape, and clean or change those air filters once a month.


Car Repairs

We all know how costly car repairs can be. You can avoid some problems by making sure your car is serviced regularly by someone you trust. If you do need a costly repair, get several quotes to make sure you get the best price and confirm the repairs are actually needed.


Medical Expenses

Monitor medical expenses closely. It is not unusual for health providers and insurance companies to make mistakes, so review your statements to avoid unnecessary additions to your bills. You should review your health insurance contract, your policy, and the complementary information provided. Make sure you are receiving all the services covered by your plan. If it is impossible to pay your medical bills (under the established terms), talk to your health provider, hospital or doctors about a payment plan.


By following these simple steps you can reduce the impact of unexpected expenses.  

If you need help getting started, please give us a call at the number below to schedule an appointment with one of our financial coaches. We are here to help.

Tips to Reduce Expenses 


Increasing your Income

Increasing your Income

Which of these options will help you the most? Keep in mind that some options may have a cost attached to them.

For example, if you take a second job, will you also face higher childcare costs? It’s best to consider choices from all angles to be sure they will work for you.

Increase Income

 Get a second job in the evenings or weekends
 Market any skills you have as a consultant, or give lessons in an area you know (in addition to your full-time job)
 See if another family member can get a part-time job
 For a short time, contribute less to your 401(k) or another retirement plan
Get a roommate if you have extra space
 Rent out a room, garage or barn
Sell an unneeded vehicle, collectible, or other possession
 Obtain public benefits for which you are eligible (Medicaid, SSI, WIC, utility assistance, education and food stamps)
 Use assistance for medical bills (apply at hospitals and offices for assistance)
 Seek legal ways to obtain court-ordered child support
 Change your withholding allowance

Reduce Expenses 

First, look at where you now spend “out of pocket” cash or debit card money. Do you know how much you were actually spending?

How much could you save each month? Can you:

Make coffee at home and take it with you?
 Carry your lunch instead of eating out at work?
 Wash your own car?
 Wax your own car?
 Skip a manicure or two?
 Do your own yard work?
 Clip coupons and use them?
 Rent a movie instead of going to a theater?
 End either your cell phone service or your landline?
 Reduce phone plans to bare essentials?
Eliminate cell phone overtime charges?
 Use a low-cost calling card for long-distance telephone calls?
 Comparison shop for auto insurance, long distance and internet service?
 Cancel premium movie channels?
Cancel memberships you do not use?
 Cancel cable, TiVo or satellite television completely?
 Refinance your car at a lower interest rate?
 Sell a car, because you can carpool or use mass transit?
 Reduce child care expenses?
 Reduce insurance expenses by increasing deductibles or qualifying for discounts (low mileage, vehicle safety, good student, good driver, accident-free, multi-vehicle)?
 Use a grocery list to eliminate impulse buys?
 Use bonus cards, coupons, and sales flyers?
 Shop more often or exclusively at discount stores?
 Limit yourself to one ATM withdrawal per week?
Cancel private mortgage insurance (PMI) because you owe less than 80 percent of the appraised value of your home?
 Carefully track your spending?
 Reduce the number of packs of cigarettes you buy, if you smoke (or give up smoking)?
 Stop playing the lottery?
 If either you or your spouse is over age 65 and homeowners, go to your county auditor’s webpage and register for the Homestead Exemption.
 Has each family member written down how he/she can reduce spending and costs?

Print your own list of ideas to reduce income.


If you need help getting started, please give us a call at the number below to schedule an appointment with one of our financial coaches. We are here to help.


Saving without a Dime to Spare

Saving when you do not have a Dime to Spare

The power of money is not how much we earn, but what we save.


Here are 10 painless ways to start saving:

  1. Start saving. Even if it is only 50 cents a week. You will have $25.00 by next year.
  2. Pick up money when you see it on the street and save it too. You will be amazed at how much you collect in the course of a year – probably $10.00 in pennies, nickels and dimes and quarters.
  3. Once you have enough money, open a savings account. Having a healthy relationship with a financial institution is the best way to gain wealth.
  4. Write down every penny you spend every day; you can also keep track with a free app on your phone.  Review your list. Choose one item that you can either do without or get cheaper. Then concentrate on making that one change (like never ordering anything but water when you eat out). When it becomes a steady habit, move on to something else.

  5. Have your paycheck direct deposited. Arrange for the bank to put $1.00 of each paycheck into your savings account – then forget it is there.
  6. Choose the store where you plan to grocery shop. Get their flier and plan your meals based on their advertised specials. That will limit your trips and that helps save money – gasoline too.
  7. File your taxes for free. Call 2-1-1 for a free tax preparation site near you.
  8. Buy store brands instead of name brands for anything. Try them all! You’re bound to find something that you like.
  9. Review your cell phone bill. Can you limit your usage? Are overage charges costing you money?
  10. Look at your cable bill. Need all those channels? Can you ditch cable for a streaming service?


If you would like additional information about saving, one of our financial coaches can help you create a long term savings plan.  We are here to help.

Credit Reports 101

Your credit report is your financial report card. It explains how you pay your bills.

Your credit report has four kinds of information:

  1. Identifying: Name, address, birth date, social security number, employer
  2. Credit: A list of all the people you owe money to and if you pay on time
  3. Public Record: Bankruptcy, tax liens, judgments
  4. Inquiries: List of those who pulled your credit report


Bad Credit Can Hurt in Many Ways

We all know that bad credit will cause us to pay higher rates on mortgages and car loan. We may even be turned down for credit. But there are other ways credit scores impact our lives.

Job applications: Almost 50% of companies say they run a credit check on job applicants before they hire them. Bad credit can cause you to be turned down for a job. (Note: Employers can pull credit reports but not credit scores.)

Utilities: Many people are surprised to learn that utilities check your credit before extending service. Bad credit may cause you to have to put down a hefty deposit before service starts, where no deposit will be required for those with good credit. Cell phone and cable providers frequently check credit before extending service.

Elective medical procedures: If you have a medical procedure that is not covered by insurance, bad credit may cause you to have to pay your bill in full before the procedure, rather than being offered a monthly payment plan.

Car loans: Not only does a low score force you into a higher rate, but you might even pay more for your car. A study by the Consumer Federation of America found that buyers with the lowest credit paid an average of 3.5% more for their car than did people with better credit.

Car insurance: Many insurance companies use credit to determine both initial eligibility and what premiums will be. The worse your credit score, the higher the premium. 

School loans: Bad credit can cause you to be turned down for school loans. There are no options here; you are either approved or denied.


Order your free report

Free reports are being provided only through the following avenues:


Phone: 1-877-322-8228

Credit Reporting Agencies

Equifax P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374

Experian P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion  P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022