Monthly Archives: December 2010

Thank You For A Great November

I want to thank my readers for visiting No Credit Needed during the month of November.

Back when I started this site – way back in 2005 – I had no idea that I would connect with (and be inspired by) so many folks.  I’ve said it before, but it needs to be said again:  You rock!

I also want to thank my fellow personal finance bloggers, many of whom send readers from their sites to mine.  Linking to another person’s work is a generous act, and I’m sincerely grateful each time someone links to mine.  You rock, too!

Here’s a list of the folks who sent the most traffic my way.  I encourage my readers to click the links below, check out the amazing content you’ll find, and tell them NCN sent you their way.

WiseBreadGet Rich SlowlyAlmost FrugalConsumerist

Frugal HacksFree Money FinanceFive Cent NickelClever Dude

6 Figures N BrokeCheap Healthy GoodMy Money BlogAll Financial Matters

Shaking The Money TreeLazy Man and MoneyCouple MoneyAsk Deb

For those of you who are new to No Credit Needed, thanks for stopping by.  I hope you’ll consider subscribing to the site via email or rss – and be sure to follow me over at twitter.com/NCN.  (If you do follow me, be sure to say “hi”.)

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How To Save Money For A Mid-Range Goal

I am not a fan of borrowing money, so it’s important that I plan for and save for mid-range goals.  I would define a mid-range goal as any major purchase or expense that I might have to make in the next 2 to 5 years.

Right now, we’re focusing on saving enough money to buy a newer automobile for me, some new furniture for our youngest child, and a sprinkler system for our lawn.

Obviously, some goals are more important than others.  An automobile is more necessary than a sprinkler system.  We try to create a list of reasonable goals, incorporate that list into our monthly budget, and save accordingly.

We only began to save for mid-range goals after we established an emergency fund.  The money in the emergency fund is for unforeseen expenses.

Here’s our current system, one we’ve used in the past to successfully save for major purchases -

1.  Using our monthly budget and my favorite budgeting tool, You Need A Budget, I create a budget category for each of our mid-range goals.

2.  I estimate the cost of each future goal, over-estimating by 10% to account for inflation.

3.  I calculate the number of months between the time I set the goal and the time I plan to make my purchase.

4.  I divide the cost by the number of months, and this tells me how much to allocate, each month, to that particular budget category.

Here’s an example.  If 36 months from now I want to buy a $12,600 automobile, I need to allocate $350 to that budget category, each month.

Now, I realize that this isn’t rocket-science.  The real issue isn’t figuring out how much I need to save – the real issue is actually saving the money.  Yes, it’s important that I plan for the future purchase.  Yes, it’s important that I budget for the future purchase.  But the most important thing that I can do, so that I can meet my ultimate goal of remaining debt-free, is to follow through, month-after-month, and stash that cash away.  Which brings me to -

5.  Each month, I make a “payment to myself” by depositing my allocations into my ING Direct Savings Account. I just make one deposit, for the total amount of all my mid-range goals.

I’m not overly concerned about the amount of interest my money is earning.  I know some folks who use a CD ladder or other savings vehicle to save for these types of purchases, but I prefer a simple online savings account.

Having these mid-range goals incorporated in our monthly budget really encourages self-discipline.  If it’s in the budget, it gets funded.  If it’s not, it gets forgotten.

Final Note:  I can – if necessary – use the money allocated for one goal to pay for another.  The money is, after all, mine.  The purpose of the various categories isn’t to box me it, but to keep me motivated.  In effect, I’ve created a debt – a debt that I owe myself.  Lucky for me, I don’t charge any interest!

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How I Save Money On Electricity

Over the past few months, I’ve been working hard to save money on our monthly power bill.  So far, here’s what I’ve done -

I replaced most of the incandescent light bulbs in our house with compact fluorescent light bulbs.  I found a big box of compact fluorescent bulbs on sale at our local hardware store and quickly purchased them.  According to the Energy Star website, compact fluorescent bulbs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.  They also last longer.  I even found some that fit into our recessed lighting, with the curlicue bulb housed inside a standard looking enclosure.  Pretty cool.

I had a professional air conditioner installer inspect and clean our HVAC system.  I had an additional return installed, the unit runs more efficiently, and the house cools and heats much more quickly.

I inspected and made necessary repairs to the caulking around our windows and doors.  I found two or thee places around our house where the original caulking had stripped away.  I repaired those areas.

I added rain gutters to the back of the house and installed a do-it-yourself rain barrel.  I am actually in the process of making another barrel.  A portion of our water, that which waters the yard, comes from an electricity-using pump.  By catching the rain water, I’m able to use it to water the flower beds – thus conserving water and electricity!

I encouraged my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room.  I have three little kids and they never stay in one room for more than, oh, two minutes.  It’s hard for them to remember to flip the switch, each and every time.  Still, they’re learning, and I’m always mindful to give them a high-five when they do remember.

I installed power-strips for all of our televisions.  We have multiple televisions, and each television is attached to a satellite box, a DVD player, and one is attached to a video game system.  Instead of leaving them on all night draining power, I can hit one switch – and turn of fthe television and anything attached to it.  We do leave the satellite box in the den powered-on, because it’s such a pain to reboot the whole system, each and every day.

I purchased an Energy Star qualified washing machine.  I also bought a new dryer, but there’s no such thing as an Energy Star qualified dryer.  Seriously.  I checked.  By the way, when you are looking to save money while washing clothes, don’t forget to check the cap on your laundry detergent!  You might be over-dosing your machine.

Like I said in the previous post, in 2011, I plan to be more conscious about the amount of time I run the air conditioner.   I’d love to reduce usage by more than 20%.  In fact, I’ll make it one of my goals.

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