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As a working parent, you have to pay someone to watch your children while you work, right? So, you may think that childcare is an unavoidable expense. But, surprisingly enough, there are some choices available when it comes to saving on childcare. Review what can be done to minimize your expenses.

Change or Quit Your Job
Quitting your job may seem like a big step, but when you calculate the costs associated with working, it could make sense. But, first, if possible, try to change your schedule or the hours you work. If there are two parents, maybe each of you could work a different shift, sharing responsibility for watching the kids. You could also ask to work 10-hour shifts, which would keep you home an extra day per week. Some employers will even let you work from home.

Do the math, and see how much it costs you to go to work vs. what you earn. Looking at the figures on a monthly basis, let’s say childcare is $500 per month. If you are bringing home $1200 per month, your earnings are reduced to $700. Add in the cost of a car payment ($200), fuel ($200), and insurance ($100). Your income is now down to just $200 for the month. Throw in additional expenses for coffee, snacks, and dining out, and you may not be making any money at all. Quitting your job doesn’t sound so ridiculous now, does it?

Look for Different Childcare
Every parent wants the best for their children, but the best doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Take a day to explore other childcare options. There may be facilities just as good for a cheaper rate. You could also ask your current provider if they could reduce prices. They may have programs available for those with lower incomes.

Work with Other Parents
If you know someone struggling to pay for childcare, see if the two of you can work out a deal. This may mean hiring a different nanny or babysitter to be shared among all the children and splitting the cost with the other family.

If you can find someone who works a different shift than you, offer to take their kids when they work if they will do the same for you. No money has to be exchanged, so the childcare cost is reduced to zero.

Conclusion
If taking kids to work were an option, there would be no reason to worry about childcare costs. However, that is not usually possible. So, do some research on where you can save money. Always ask your boss about available child care programs. Also, talk to your professional accountant about tax deductions to receive 15% back during tax time.

Driving a car is a major expense. There is regular maintenance, normal wear and tear of the parts and their replacements, and a number of things that can go wrong.

Then, when the vehicle has reached a point of no return, there is the much larger expense of replacement. Learn how to save money on fuel and repairs, and what to do when it is time to trade in your existing vehicle.

Save On Fuel
The most frequent expense you have with a vehicle is fuel. No matter how expensive the fuel is, it is a necessity in order to keep the car on the road. Even though you cannot negotiate the price at the pump, there are other things you can do that will help you save money by reducing the amount of fuel your car uses:

  •         Don’t sit around waiting for your car to warm up. Avoid letting it idle for too long as well. As long as the vehicle is running, it is burning up fuel.
  •         Stay under 60mph. Anything over that speed is going to reduce the gas mileage.
  •         Highway mileage can be improved if the cruise control is turned on.
  •         Ease off the accelerator when approaching a stop to reduce the need for braking.
  •         Do not speed up or slow down too fast.
  •         If staying at a lower speed, roll the windows down instead of using the air conditioner. On the highway, use the air conditioner because the drag from having the windows down will affect the gas mileage.

 

Keep Up Maintenance
To avoid major breakdowns and major repair bills, make sure you keep your vehicle well maintained. This includes getting the oil changed regularly. Newer models do not necessarily need a change every 3,000 miles with the synthetic oils they use, so check with a mechanic to see what is recommended. Also, check the fluid levels, brakes, and other parts that get normal wear and tear, and then do the simple repairs necessary before they turn into much more costly ones.

Buy Something More Efficient
Instead of trading in for something new every 100,000 miles as was common years ago, keep your vehicle longer. Most vehicles last closer to 250,000 miles or more now with all the new improvements and technologies. When a new car is necessary, choose something smaller, with better fuel mileage, and something that reasonably fits within your budget. Remember, whatever car you purchase is also going to need the parts and maintenance that come along with it, so check out estimates of what it is going to cost to cover these items as well.

Conclusion
Having a car is a necessity for most people in today’s society. Without it, you would not be able to get to work, school, or any of the other events of your life. It is a luxury that you don’t want to go without. By reducing the expenses required to keep your automobile up and running, you will be able to keep your vehicle on the road a lot longer without it costing you a fortune.

Unlike negotiable bills, regular expenses for necessities are not as easily adjusted. There really is no way to walk into a grocery store and ask for a lower price on food. You cannot go to the service station and haggle over the price of fuel.

However, there are other steps you can take to save money in these areas that may not be so obvious. The savings may not be as large as those on the negotiable bills, but they are still savings nonetheless. Here are some ideas.

Utility Savings
After negotiating or finding the cheapest companies to provide the necessities like heat, water, and electricity, you may think that this is as low as those bills are going to get. Actually, after getting the monthly bill lowered by the business, now it is up to you, the resident, to take the bills down even more. There are simple changes you can make to see a drop on those invoices.

Take shorter showers. Instead of standing under the hot water for several minutes, go in and do what has to be done and get out quickly. Just by shaving off a couple of minutes from each shower, there will be gallons of water saved.

Also, turn down the heat or turn up the air conditioner. Then, dress for the weather. If it is cold outside and the house is cool, dress in layers and use a blanket. If it’s hot outside, take off a layer or two.

Finally, always make sure to unplug and turn off anything that is not being used to see reductions on an electrical bill.

Heading to the Store
Prior to heading out to the grocery store, go online and check the circulars for the markets in the area. Compare prices on what you are going to buy and see if any of it is on sale. If there is a significant savings, it may be worth it to shop around. This is only if you don’t have to travel a great distance between stores.

While browsing online, go to a coupon website and see if there are any coupons available for items you are going to buy. Also, check the local newspapers for coupon inserts on the weekends.

Stick to the Necessities
Depending on where your current financial situation stands, it may be time to evaluate what is a necessity and what you can let go of. Some items that can potentially be eliminated altogether include monthly subscriptions, gym memberships, cable television, and especially those morning trips for expensive coffee.

Conclusion
Just when you think there is no way to save any more than what you are already saving, there are always other steps that can be taken to lower monthly bills. Even on the necessities, there are ways to save money. By putting in a little effort, you will find that it is possible to keep a significant amount of your money in your pocket where it belongs.

How to Negotiate Bills Down

Part of saving money to buy a home includes cutting back on bills and payments when possible. Of course, this isn’t any fun if you cancel gym memberships, cut entertainment spending, and tighten your budget. Instead, try to make simple, small reductions in all areas, and then there won’t be as much of a noticeable change. Here are other ways to negotiate bills, including existing debt, so the fun does not have to end.

Reduce the Payments
There are two easy ways to reduce monthly payments on credit cards and other debts. The first is to pay off any interest-generating accounts. Many people forget that when a credit card payment is calculated each month, there is an additional charge for interest. The lower the total amount of debt, the lower the interest charge.

The other way is to negotiate the payment with the credit company. This can be done by calling the loan officer or company. Some places will even lower the interest rate, and all you have to do is call and ask for a lower rate.

Explore Other Options
It is always recommended that you shop around before making large purchases such as televisions, homes, and cars. The same can be done with the debt owed to any credit company.

Also, you could save money by joining forces with a debt consolidation business. They will compile all accounts and charge one low monthly fee to pay off each account for you.

Check your mailbox for offers of zero interest on balance transfers as well. This allows for the entire balance of one card to be switched to another card with a zero percent interest rate for a period of time. Be sure you know what the interest rate will be when the special rate expires. In the meantime, this is an ideal situation if the amount you owe is something you can pay off within the time frame allotted.

Get Rid of the Account
Finally, consider getting rid of an account completely. Call the company, and see what is available for someone wanting to close an account. Many times, they will negotiate better terms that are more feasible to pay.

In the event the account is closed, the creditor will stop any additional accumulation of interest on the card. Be careful not to close too many accounts quickly, because this can damage your credit report score.

Conclusion
Getting rid of debt may seem like a never-ending job. If proper tools and techniques are used, it can be done quicker than you may think. Get in touch with your creditors and find out options available for eliminating the dark cloud of debt once and for all. Then, homeownership is not far away.

Many of the prices you pay for services can be negotiated, but you need to know how to do it effectively. There is a right way and a wrong way to try to get the outcome that will save you a ton of money on monthly expenses. Take the time and effort to learn the methods that have proven to work for utility, cable, internet, phone, credit card, and various other businesses.

Start Comparing Early
Before you can know if you have the best deal available on your current bill, you have to research and compare. Look online, call places in the phone book, ask around to family and friends, or visit the businesses yourself to find out what kinds of offers there are. Take notes so that when you complete all the comparison research, it will be easy to see which places offer the best prices on exactly what you need.

Make sure when getting in touch with a business’s employee that you are talking to the right person. Most of the time, the entry level service or sales person is only going to be able to offer you a generic rate. Ask to speak with a manager, boss, or owner to find out what the best rates are.

Don’t Take the First Offer
The first time you contact someone at a business’s office, they will say there is no way they can give you any sort of discount. Never give up at that point. Keep pushing to talk to someone higher. Then, when you finally do get an offer, do not accept the first one. Make a counteroffer to see if they are willing to negotiate any further.

When the employees you are dealing with will not budge on the price, it is time to take things to the next level and tell them that a cancellation is the only viable option. Many companies have “save” offers to keep customers from leaving.

Threaten To Cancel
Tell the representative that you are currently experiencing financial difficulties that are going to require you to cancel the service if nothing can be done about the bill. Often, they will suddenly be able to offer a lower rate that was not previously presented.

Another option is to use the comparison figures that you found in your research and let them know what the competitors are offering. See if they will be able to go any lower to keep you as a customer. If they say they can’t, then threaten to cancel and switch over.

Conclusion
Getting your bills lowered is one project that will really reward you in the end. After you take the time to get in touch with each of the companies that you send money to each month, you may be able to keep hundreds of dollars in your checking or savings account. This is exactly what you need if you are saving for a down payment or trying to get your credit back in line. Talk with a professional credit repair agency if you need help getting your negotiable bills lowered.

Even after you come up with a reasonable budget plan, there may be payments in your budget that can be decreased. You may believe you have done everything you can to reduce each one of your bills to the smallest size possible, but there may still be ways to get discounts that you are not aware of. Discover more about which bills you may be able to negotiate to keep more of your money in your bank account.

Utilities
Bills for the utilities required to live in a home may seem off-limits when it comes time to negotiate. However, there may be savings in them if you do some research. Look around for other electricity and gas companies in your area to see if any of them can offer you a lower rate. If there are no other companies in your area, call the current provider and ask them for a discount. Even if the discount they offer would be for only a short time, it is worth it to call and ask.

Also, some companies offer averaging plans that can help with drastic rises in bills as consumption fluctuates. Finally, sometimes you can lower trash pickup, landscaping, and even a mortgage interest rate just by calling and discussing a discount with the right people.

Medical and Health Bills
Some of the biggest bills that may be looming overhead can be medical or health bills that have accumulated over time or that were incurred when something unexpected happened. It may be that even paying more than the suggested amount doesn’t seem to be helping the balance go down at all.

Doctors, hospitals, dentists, and other health professional agencies will often offer a discount if you can pay cash up front. When this isn’t a possibility, they are usually pretty lenient when it comes to having the monthly fee lowered. As a last resort, if you approach them with cash in hand, some places will allow a lower payoff just to get the bill taken care of faster.

Internet, Television, Cell Phones, and Credit Cards
Bills for luxuries like the internet and cellphones sometimes take a little bit of legwork to reduce, but you can end up saving a bunch of money on them each month if you take the time to look. A lot of these businesses have various promotional rates periodically throughout the year. Make sure to research when the sales are happening and jump on them if you have the ability to.

Credit card companies work the same way on interest rates. Often, if you just call and speak to an agent, they will be able to work with you on getting a lower interest rate and therefore a lower monthly payment.

Conclusion
It may seem like a bit of a hassle to get negotiable bills lowered; and, in some instances, it can be quite a headache. However, after you do it, the amount of money you save will really help. You will see that all the hard work you did is worth it. If you are unsure about how to negotiate, there are professional credit specialists who can help you figure out which of your bills can be lowered, and they can help you get it accomplished.

The only way to take care of extra and unplanned expenses is to have basic knowledge of what those expenses may be. There is a simple trick to get a general idea of how much money is spent each month (aside from what arrives in bill form in the mailbox). Complete the following calculation to ensure a more controlled financial situation.

Start with Tracking
Extra spending is the hardest to track. Running to the store for a soda, stopping at a drive-thru for lunch, and grabbing a coffee on the way to work seem like minor expenses. However, over the course of a week or several weeks, these amounts quickly add up and put a huge dent in any bank account.

Start taking control of your finances by keeping an accurate record of every penny that goes out. This can be done in a notebook carried around in your car or handbag. Make sure to document any charges put on credit cards, as well.

Total Expenses / Weeks of Recording = Weekly Spending
Crunching numbers is the next step. Take the total amount of money spent and divide it by the number of weeks the recordkeeping took place. This will be the weekly spending amount.

Weekly Spending x 52 = Yearly Spending
Next, take weekly spending and multiply it by 52, because there are 52 weeks in a year.

Yearly Spending / 12 = Monthly Spending Average
Finally, take the yearly spending amount and divide it by 12 months in the year. This will be the monthly spending average.

Complete Proper Calculations
If you do not have the time or patience to do this tracking and calculating, there are professional advisors who can help. There is also financial tracking software that will do it for you.

Cut Things Out
Now that it is evident where money is being spent, frivolously or otherwise, it will be much easier to start cutting back. In the journal, it may state $500 per month is being spent on going out to eat. This is a huge sum of money for most people. That number could be reduced by buying groceries at the market and cooking at home.

Adjust Your Budget
Once proper reductions are made, the overall budget can be re-evaluated and adjustments can be made. The money saved on dining out can pay a credit card bill. That will make a huge difference in financial control.

Consider Professional Help
Some people struggle to organize and manage finances. A professional can be very beneficial. Many agencies pay trained experts to assist clients in getting their financial situations under control. If you are struggling in this area, discover what they can do to help.

After considering several options to earn more money, are you still coming up short? The boss said no to a raise, there is no time to work an extra job, and working online from home is out of the question. Thankfully, there are still a few ways to increase your income and fatten your bank account. Here are some ideas.

Enhance Employment Opportunities
The first, and perhaps easiest, way to increase your income is to ask for a raise. Even if management declined in the past, ask again. If the chance of a raise is slim and there is no room for advancement in the current job field, it may be time to consider switching jobs. A new job could free time to look for other business opportunities. You may also find that deciding to leave the dead-end job results in finding a better job! This is a big step, so consider it carefully.

Also, you could enlist a friend or partner to help with a small business venture. Work together and split the time needed to run it successfully. Your partner will require payment but will make money when you cannot be there, as well, so it will be profitable for both of you.

Stop Paying Taxes Up Front
Don’t stop paying taxes altogether! Just stop giving the government so much of every paycheck. Each time payroll is done, the government takes a chunk for taxes. This results in a large refund at the end of the year. But, instead of loaning money to Uncle Sam, change the withholding schedule, so the money goes directly to your paycheck.

And, let a professional accountant complete your tax return at least one time. It is possible that you aren’t claiming deductions available to you, resulting in a tax overpayment. There may even be a reason to amend past tax returns, so you can get some of the overpaid funds back.

Make Your Own Raise
Start paying debt, and the amount of money available each month will increase by that payment. For example, if a credit card requires a $100 monthly payment and it is paid, that $100 is like its own raise.

And, keep a journal of all the money you spend. Take a close look, and cut back in feasible areas. This could include avoiding fast food / restaurants for lunch or turning the heat down to save on an energy bill.

Also, open an interest-earning savings account, and put most of your money there. The interest earned will be extra money in your pocket. Better to have interest working in your favor than against you!

Conclusion
Never settle for current income until you are completely satisfied. There are always options to increase income. Instead of sacrificing happiness and life fulfillment, be proactive in making the changes necessary to produce money you deserve.

There is never a guarantee that you will get a raise just because you ask for it. However, you can’t know the answer until you ask the question. Now, before you discuss your desired increase, arm yourself with knowledge and information to get that pay jump. Here are some tips.

Do the Research
One of two things you should do before you walk into the boss’s office is learn the five raise-earning principles. This will make your work seem more valuable, and it will be viewed as an asset to the business.

It is also essential to research and understand the company’s policies and procedures on raises as well as the salaries of people in similar areas/positions. When your manager asks why a raise is deserved, this is one point to bring up.

On the other hand, if the business has undergone major changes or is struggling financially, now is not the time to request more money. Be mindful of the big picture.

Prove Your Worth
When a manager or owner of a company is presented with a raise request, they will want to know why they should pay more to someone who is already completing the job at the current salary. Therefore, it is essential to prove your worth to the corporation. Be prepared to present the contributions you have made to the business. It could include things like:

  •         Years with the company
  •         How long since a raise has been given
  •         Successful completion of projects
  •         How efficiency has improved
  •         Ways you saved or made business funds
  •         Something unique other employees have not done

Set Up a Meeting and Follow Through
Ask for a meeting with your manager. Once scheduled, arrive, and make the request. Relax, talk confidently, and use pre-written notes to convince your manager you deserve higher pay.

It is possible the request will be rejected. If this happens, do not act unprofessionally. Never threaten to quit, get mad, cry, or resort to begging. Ask what you can do differently to get the raise you want. Talk with your manager about ways you can earn more money, such as working more hours, for example.

Conclusion
In a few instances, the only option is to leave the company. Carefully evaluate all choices available, because an unsatisfactory paycheck is better than no paycheck. However, if you feel you have reached a point where you deserve more money, ask your boss for a raise. (They are not likely to just offer it.) Then, make sure you are fully prepared before setting up a meeting. At the meeting, make it clear why the extra salary should be granted.

If you have worked hard all your adult life to keep your credit rating up, your reward will be that it will make getting a home loan much easier. Let’s say the time has come for you to check your credit history before heading to the bank to request a home loan. If you find something on your credit report you weren’t aware of, it can be shocking and frustrating. Here is the truth about getting errors on your credit report fixed.

Clearing Your Credit Is Easy, Not!
You may have heard from many sources that if you find something wrong with your credit report, it is not hard to clear up. And, as a victim of fraud (or a mistake), you will want to regain control of your financial situation as soon as possible. Most people do what is advised and send a letter to the three credit bureaus explaining they did not authorize the fraudulent charge. Then, they breathe a sigh of relief believing the problem has been dealt with.

The Unexpected Response
By the time a few weeks have passed, the average person will have pushed the blemish on their credit report to the back of their mind. They did what they were supposed to do, so the problem should have disappeared, right? Not quite. They go to their mailbox and find a letter from a credit bureau stating the charge will stay because the reporting agency verified the account as valid. What if this happens to you?

Dealing with the Problem
Unfortunately, something simple has turned into a much larger issue. In reality, things like this are common and happen every day. Being accused of not paying your bills when you have done no such thing is frustrating.

Authorities in charge of the credit system want you to think they are on your side. However, if you encounter a problem, the mistake will probably be very hard to fix. Writing a letter typically does not work. You have to dig deeper, contact the proper people, and show accurate documentation before you can remove the unwanted account from your report.

Conclusion
In the event you find fraud on your credit report, contact a credit repair agency for assistance. They have experience dealing with all issues associated with getting errors wiped off accounts. This process can be difficult on your own, so it is a good idea to have a professional on your side who knows the system.

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