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Realistic Financial Goals for the New Year

by Advance Financial | January 6th, 2017

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“New year, new me!” How many times is that statement said this time of year only to be forgotten in a matter of weeks? Don’t get us wrong, New Year’s resolutions are great, but let’s be realistic, they are usually forgotten in a matter of 2 weeks. Why is this? It’s simple; the bar is set too high. Setting unrealistic goals at the beginning of the year is the downfall of most New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s fitness or finances, drastically changing your behavior patterns will do nothing but overwhelm and un-motivate most individuals. So if you want to buckle down on your finances this year with realistic goals to set you on the right path, we recommend the following:

credit

Having good credit will open a lot of doors for your financial future. A good credit score is vital for getting approved for a home loan or business loan and could significantly lower the cost of your car payment when purchasing a new vehicle. Attaining a good credit score is not that complex. Just consistently paying your bills on time will noticeably bump up your score. For the new year, set a goal to always pay your bills on time. And hey! It’s 2017. Almost every bill you have can be set up as an automatic withdraw payment with your bank so you never have to worry about a deadline.

savings

We get it. Saving money is hard. With the cost of living going up and your expenses increasing with age, sometimes there is nothing left over from your paycheck to save. If you don’t see the money, however, you won’t miss it. Most online banking allows you to set up an automatic transfer for a percentage of each paycheck to go into savings. The money will be transferred the day your paycheck hits your account, so you won’t even miss it. Start out by setting small amounts like $20 a paycheck and slowly increase the amount throughout the year based on what you can afford.

expense

Setting a budget for every expense in your life is definitely a great idea, but again, is it realistic? Budgeting takes discipline so if that’s something you lack, just budget one expense you spend a substantial amount on each month. For instance, if you are a shopaholic, set a clothing budget where you can only spend an allotted amount on clothing and accessories each month. The big one for most, however, is food and going out to eat. If you really want to see some gains in your financial goals then try to set a weekly budget for going out to eat and groceries. We guarantee you’ll be shocked at how much you end up saving.

 

sidegig

Just like building a good credit score, paying off debt is something that takes discipline and patience. Making extra payments will not only pay off debt faster but will also aid in building your credit. Finding a side gig to make those extra payments is key, but in an effort to not fall into the category of the New Year’s resolution failures, try to find something that allows you to set you own hours and gives you flexibility with your schedule. Maybe a serving job where you work only one shift a week, or even driving for Uber a couple nights a month. Anything really that will put some extra green in your pocket but doesn’t feel like a second job tying you down is a good idea when it comes to a side gig.

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Yes emergencies happen and you always want something to fall back on, but a 50% off sale on shoes doesn’t count as an emergency. Again disciple is the key and having self-control to not buy things you don’t actually have the money for will benefit you greatly. If you use a credit card for the points and treat your card like a debit card, then make sure you always stay within your budget so you can easily pay off the balance at the end of every month.

Work to Build Your Credit Set up an Automatic Transfer for Savings Set a Budget for at Least One Expense

Find an Occasional Side Gig to Pay Off Debt Use a Credit Card for Emergencies Only 

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Guide to Cutting Heating Cost Down this Winter

by Advance Financial | November 3rd, 2016

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The cold will soon be upon us and with cold weather also comes high heating bills. Whether your home is heated by electric or gas, the cost to heat your home can significantly increase if you don’t take certain precautions to run your system as efficiently as possible. The more energy used this winter the higher the cost will be, so the key is to conserve as much energy and heat as possible. To help out with being energy efficient this winter we have listed 5 quick and easy things to do to conserve the heat in your house which will help to lower your electric or gas bill.

airfilter

A dirty air-return filter can significantly increase the cost to heat your home this winter. Dirt and grime in the filter restricts airflow causing your AC unit to work extra hard to heat your home, which increases your electric bill. Make sure to check all air filters and replace them regularly to ensure your system is working as efficiently as possible.

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fans

If you didn’t already know, you can set your ceiling fans to either spin clockwise or counter clockwise. When your fan is set to run counter clockwise, or forward, it pushes air down creating a cooling effect. This is recommended for summer. When set clockwise, or reverse, the fan pulls air up and redistributes it, which is recommended for winter since heat rises.

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spaceheater

You might be thinking, “Wait? A space heater uses electricity!” If you turn down your ac a few degrees and run a space heater in the room that’s occupied the most, the amount of energy used from the AC is substantially less. Even with a space heater running. Just make sure to turn off the space heater at night, and bundle up with extra layers.

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vents

If you have a guest room or bonus room that is never used, don’t waste energy heating it. Most thermostats are in the living room and the AC is regulated based on the temperature in that room. If you close the vents in unused rooms more hot air will blow into rooms with vents opened, causing the temperature to regulate faster and use less energy.

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doors

Just like closing vents in unused rooms, make sure to always keep all interior doors closed. This will cut down the amount of square footage the AC is heating and cause your house to warm up quicker. Your system will turn on less, which will have a positive affect on your heating bill.

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Workweek Meal Plan That’s Cheap, Easy, and Healthy

by Advance Financial | November 1st, 2016

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The actual decision to start eating healthy is effortless. You just decide one day, “hey, I’m going to start eating healthier.” The phrase “easier said than done” fits perfectly with the idea of eating healthy. You can say you’ll do it, but when it comes down to actually choosing healthier options for meals it can be rather difficult. Below we have created an easy planning guide to making cheap, easy, and most importantly healthy meals that will get you through the entire workweek. A lot of these recipes utilize leftovers from previous meals, which will aid in cutting grocery costs. Links to full recipes for lunches and dinners are included.

monday

Breakfast

Banana and peanut butter on wheat toast

Lunch

Turkey sandwich – Recipe

Carrots with light ranch, and an apple

Snack

Low-fat yogurt

Dinner

Chicken tortilla soup – Recipe

(Note: Make extra chicken and set aside for Tuesday’s lunch.)

tuesday

Breakfast

Yogurt and all bran cereal

Lunch

Grilled chicken caesar salad wrap – Recipe

Celery with peanut butter

(Note: Use leftover chicken from Monday’s dinner.)

Snack

Mixed Nuts

 Dinner

Bacon and Broccoli Rice Bowl – Recipe

(Note: Make extra boiled eggs for Wednesday’s breakfast and extra bacon for Wednesday’s lunch.)

wednesday

Breakfast

Boiled eggs and wheat toast

(Note: use extra boiled eggs from Tuesday’s dinner.)

Lunch

BLT with avocado – Recipe

Chips and salsa

(Note: Use extra bacon from Tuesday’s dinner.)

Snack

Cottage cheese and saltine crackers

Dinner

Chicken, pepper and corn stir-fry – Recipe

(Note: Make extra and before seasoning set aside. Use peppers for Thursday’s breakfast and chicken and corn for Thursday’s lunch.)

thursday

Breakfast

Scrambled eggs with peppers

(Note: Use extra peppers from Wednesday’s dinner.)

Lunch

Southwest salad with chicken –Recipe

(Note: Use extra chicken and corn from Wednesday’s dinner.)

Snack

Carrots with light ranch 

Dinner

Antipasti Penne –Recipe

friday

Breakfast

Oatmeal and bananas

 Lunch

Tuna salad sandwich – Recipe

Low sodium chips

Snack

Peanut butter and crackers

 Dinner

Turkey Chili – Recipe

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Easy Halloween Crafts To Do With The Kids

by Advance Financial | October 26th, 2016

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Halloween is the best time for crafts with the kids. Between carving pumpkins, making scarecrows, and making your own spooky decorations, they are bound to have some great childhood memories. To help you make even more memories with the kids this Halloween, we have outlined some super easy and kid friendly crafts to try out.  Enjoy!

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How to Carve a Pumpkin Like a Pro

by Advance Financial | October 13th, 2016

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It’s Halloween time and chances are you’re  seeing a lot of carved pumpkins flooding people’s porches. The idea of perfectly carved pumpkins that will make the neighbors jealous is a great thought, but actually carving the perfect Jack-o-Lantern can be a daunting and messy task. Carving a pumpkin can be simple and easy if you follow the correct steps. Below we have outlined the basics for carving the perfect pumpkin so you’ll be set to start mastering the art of pumpkin carving.

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