5 Signs Your Current Lifestyle Will Lead to Your Financial Demise

Your lifestyle is very closely tied to your finances, as it often indicates how much you spend. Living frugally or spending with abandon are two very different lifestyle experiences, and the results of each will clearly show in your bank balance.

Here are five signs that mean you are heading for a cliff edge in terms of your financial situation.

1. You’re not saving 5%

Advice from experts suggests that you should be putting aside at least 10% of your income each month, if not 15%. But if you aren’t even managing to put 5% in your savings, then you are definitely living beyond your means. It’s even worse if you haven’t been able to put any savings aside at all.

If you feel like you can’t save that much each month, then you may need to cut back on your spending. Maybe that means not going out to dinner, limiting yourself to non-luxury items when shopping for groceries, or cutting back on some of your subscriptions. If you’re already living as frugally as possible and still not making savings, then the truth of the matter is that you’re simply not earning enough. Downsizing your home and looking for another source of income could be the solution in this case.

2. You don’t have an emergency fund

Everyone should have an emergency fund – again, experts recommend that you have around nine months’ worth of living expenses set aside, the minimum amount of money you would need to live during that time if you didn’t have any income at all. Why? Because life happens. You might find yourself unable to work, or suddenly lose your job – even if you have been an exemplary employee so far. You could crash your car and have your insurance fail to pay out, or lose your home in an accident which is not covered by your policy.

Vet bills, medical bills, legal fees, a broken-down car or boiler – these are all expenses which can come up from time to time and really knock you for six. You need to be prepared for these situations. If you aren’t, then you could have a nasty surprise waiting around the corner which could leave you bankrupt or in heavy debt.

3. You’re paying overdraft fees (or credit card fees)

It came to the end of the month, and you didn’t have quite enough to get you through to the next payday. Now you’ve got overdraft charges on your account – or you might even have credit card fees to pay until you pay them off. This is a bad situation, as it is the beginning of a spiral into debt. In both situations, you are being charged extra money because of the fact that you didn’t have enough to begin with.

When this happens, you should see it as a huge red flag and stop spending right away. Don’t be tempted to put more things on a credit card.

An interesting technique you can use is to stop paying with your card at all, and instead use a cash envelope system. Withdraw your money for the week or the month, and divide it into envelopes for specific purposes: groceries, shopping, going out, and so on. When the envelope is empty, you just have to stop spending in that category – simple as that.

4. You don’t have a budget

Not having a budget in place might seem fine when you have enough money to make ends meet easily. However, it’s a problematic situation to be in when one of those emergency situations strikes. Suddenly, you are spending far more than you can afford, and you have to suddenly put on the brakes to try and learn how to budget for the first time.

Set a budget now, and learn how to stick to it, as well as what constitutes a realistic budget based on your spending habits. This will help you a lot when changes in your situation occur.

5. You spend out of fear

Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is something that can drive us to spend money on crazy things. Do you really need that new piece of Victorian furniture, or are you just scared that you’ll never get another chance like that again? Don’t let fear dictate your spending. Don’t overspend on going out just to keep up with your friends, or buy a house you can’t afford the payments on because you want people to be impressed. It’s a road to nowhere.

By recognizing these signs and making changes now, you might be able to turn things around. Don’t let the worst happen – get in control of your lifestyle now, and stop your finances from suffering.

About Alana: Alana Downer is a personal finance expert and an avid blogger, who often shares her money tips and tricks online. Alana is also a part of the team behind Learn to Trade – a useful resource for all those who wish to start trading and investing. Should you have comments or questions, feel free to contact Alana on her Twitter.

7 Hacks To Make A Tiny Living Space Comfortable And Practical

When you live in a small apartment or house it is important to make the most of every inch to feel comfortable. Multi-purpose furniture, proper organization and smart storage are all necessary to have a tidy, clean and uncluttered home. How do we make tiny living spaces seem spacious? Is that even possible? Here are 7 hacks to help you get inspired.

  1. Compact bedroom sets

Space-saving bedroom sets are meant to fit anywhere, particularly in tiny rooms that take up a lot of space. For example, you could have a sleeping platform installed in a bedroom rather than an average bed. This way you will double the sleeping space available. Younger kids will definitely enjoy climbing up the ladder to sleep at the top, while older ones can take the ground floor. Many compact bedroom sets feature storage spaces too. Some even have hidden tables with stools and desks. When you don’t have a lot of room for additional furniture, these sets are the perfect addition into your kids’ bedroom.

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  1. Elevated Platforms

Elevated platforms for working or sleeping are an excellent way of saving up space. When dealing with minimal square footage, we have a tendency to focus our attention on the ground space only, thus totally ignoring the upper space. If the room you’d like to decorate has enough height, then you should focus your attention on lofted designs, such as elevated storage, lift beds or working spaces. This way the space available on the floor remains free.

  1. Fold-up desks

Some people don’t use desks on a daily basis. So there’s no pointing in having a huge table occupying so much space in a room. A fold-up desk on the other hand, could be a much better alternative. Use it only when you need to and then wrap it nicely to make room for additional space activities.

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  1. Multi-purpose side furniture

Side furniture pieces with multiple purposes are an excellent way of saving space. Go for a custom-made model with a headboard or nightstand; this way you can slide over the bed and have breakfast on it in the morning without struggling too much. If you live in an apartment that’s really small, you could consider placing your desk by the bed, and give it a double purpose.

  1. All eye on the rug

For a room to look and feel comfortable it has to have a proper rug or carpet. To create the illusion of space, go for a geometric rug with squares or circles. Add a minimalist touch to the overall room and it will certainly appeal to other people’s senses. As for the dominant color, stick to neutrals; this way you’ll be able to decorate and redecorate numerous times without replacing the rug.

  1. Custom-made furniture

Many people believe that custom-made furniture is expensive. It doesn’t have to be. There are so many DIY projects available on the web you can do yourself. If you want to replace current kitchen cabinets, do it. But don’t throw away the old ones. Use them to build something else; maybe a console table for the hallway or nightstands for the bedroom. Custom handmade furniture is designed to fit specific spaces, particularly small ones. Put your imagination to good use and create something fun and practical for your home.

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  1. Fold-up beds

When attempting to maximize space it is important to consider practical furniture ideas. Fold-up beds for example, are excellent in tiny flats or compact rooms. They’re excellent when you have guests over and don’t have where to put them to sleep. Furthermore, if you live in a one-room apartment with very little room for roaming around, a fold-up bed might be exactly what you need to make space, and throw a little party every now and then.

Transforming tiny living spaces into practical and comfortable spaces is easier than meets the eye. It is important to focus on de-cluttering. Select compact or multi-purpose furniture and accessorize properly. Add mirrors to create the illusion of space and rugs to make yourself and your guests feel comfortable. Stay away from cold nuances and opt for warmer tones or neutrals to widen a room and make it seem airy.

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Free Yourself From TV

Break the Boob Tube Habit

According to the A.C. Nielsen Company, the average American adult watches four hours of television each day. Some tips on cutting back:

Carve out TV-free times, recommends Frank Vespe, executive director of the TV Turnoff Network, an organization dedicated to improving quality of life through turning off the tube. Vespe advocates eliminating television during mealtimes, when first waking up, and right before bedtime.

Allot a TV-watching budget, says Louis V. Imhof of the Institute for Fitness and Health. Each Sunday, check the newspaper for the weekly listings, and highlight only six hours of program­ming to watch for that week.

Use a VCR to record shows, suggests White Dot, a Britain-based an ti-television organization. This lets you watch television on your own time and keeps you from getting sucked into watching that mediocre show wedged in between two better shows.

Remove the batteries from your remote control and watch television the old-fashioned way, advises Trevor Mowad, a sports-psychology consultant who motivates professional athletes. This eliminates the tendency to jump from channel to channel looking for something to watch.

Find an alternate outlet for television time. “Make a reading list, take a class, or learn a language,” Vespe offers. “We had one woman plant a vegetable garden, and each time she harvested a vegetable, she knew it was created from her not watching television.”