How giving back fits in your budget

Posted by Kevin Nielsen on Nov 22, 2016 10:19:03 AM

One of the biggest reasons why we strive to be financially fit and debt free is to be able to help others.

At Mvelopes, we tend to like the 80-10-10 budget simply because it sets aside 10 percent of our income for giving, 10 percent for saving and the other 80 for our expenses. Taking the time to create and use a budget can not only help us reach that 10 percent goal, but can also help us increase it over time. Imagine things going so well that you can comfortably have a 60-20-20 budget each month.

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Topics: Life in General

A First-Time Home-Buyer's Survival Guide

Posted by reagan.nickl on Apr 7, 2015 8:35:28 AM

Written by guest contributor, Valerie Cascione
There is no shortage of bad home-buying experiences out there, but buying your first home should be a time of excitement and represent a time of renewal - not a living nightmare. For first-time home-buyers, there is already a lot to think about, so as you look for your dream home, keep in mind these tips for keeping the process the way it was supposed to be - and not a nightmare.

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Topics: Finances for Couples, Family Finances, Life in General

How to File Your Taxes for Free

Posted by reagan.nickl on Mar 24, 2015 4:49:13 AM

Its that time of year again, and you’re either enjoying a sneak peek of Spring weather or you’re like 25% of other Americans who still haven’t filed their taxes. Filing your taxes can be confusing and frustrating, but it’s also necessary to stay on the path of financial freedom.

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Topics: Reaching Financial Goals, Family Finances, Life in General, Tips and Tricks

Saving Money, There's 6 Apps for That

Posted by david.smith on Oct 24, 2014 11:05:36 AM

Guest post by JT Ripton

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Topics: Family Finances, Life in General, Smartphone apps, Applied Principles

Tapping into Your Retirement Savings to Buy Your First Home

Posted by david.smith on Sep 10, 2014 6:23:33 AM

Guest post by Alanna Ritchie

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Topics: Reaching Financial Goals, Family Finances, Life in General, Applied Principles

Become a Financial Superhero

Posted by adminMV on Sep 5, 2014 3:15:23 AM

There are many small decisions we make every day that can make or break our finances. Some of the most common mistakes that get individuals and couples in trouble are living beyond their incomes, underestimating the destructive power of debt, and taking too much financial risk out of pure greed. The list could go on and on, but as we look at improving our financial position, what are the key issues we should focus on in order to build a solid financial foundation today, and to protect ourselves from unnecessary financial pain in the future?

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Topics: Life in General

Should You Buy or Lease Your Next Car?

Posted by david.smith on Aug 29, 2014 5:44:40 AM

Image via Flickr by DVS1MN

If you're ready to choose one of this year's best new cars, you know the fun part is picking the color, the selecting your bells and whistles, and deciding whether you're going to call it Candy or Max. But there is a more serious part to it. You also have to decide how you're going pay for it. You have to decide whether you are going to lease or buy.

Here are some pros and cons of leasing vs. buying to help you figure out what's right for you, your lifestyle, and your budget.

The Difference Between Leasing And Buying

A car lease allows you to drive a new car without a hefty down payment or taking out a loan. You put down a small deposit that is usually far less than the amount of money you need to make a down payment when buying a car. Then you make payments every month until the lease is up and you give the car back.

When you're buying a car, you're responsible for a down payment. Experts say down payments can be up to 20 percent of the price of the car. As with leasing, you're responsible for monthly payments, but when you're done with the payments, you own the car.


Benefits of Leasing A Car

More Americans are leasing cars, according to recent reports, which is a turnaround from dismal numbers during the Great Recession. There are several benefits about leasing a new car versus buying. For example:

• If you don't typically put a lot of miles on your car, leasing is a good option. Car dealerships usually have annual limits of 10,000 to 15,000 miles for the lessee. This stipulation would appeal to someone who doesn't often take long road trips or the amount of driving they're doing around town is relatively small.

• If you find yourself shopping for a new car every two or three years, leasing is a good way to always have a new car. You would be in the market to lease again every few years instead of waiting out the typical 60 months it takes to finish paying off a car. Also, even if you can afford to buy a new car every few years, you would end up with a collection of cars at your home.

• You can get a car that you may not be able to afford otherwise. Paying a small deposit to lease a new luxury car is easier than trying to come up with cash to finance one.

• Some leases include maintenance on the car as opposed to having to pay for those costs out-of-pocket.


Benefits of Buying A Car

Overall, more Americans still buy instead of lease their cars. Here are some benefits of buying.

• You own your car when you're done paying your car note. A lessee will always have a car payment.

• Long-term, buying a car over leasing makes more sense financially. People who buy their cars may end up paying less than people who lease, even when out-of-pocket maintenance is included. This is because leasing several cars over the years will likely be more than buying a new or used car.

• You can drive as much as you would like without penalties.

• Insurance rates are more stable when you are buying your car versus leasing it. If you are leasing an expensive car that you typically couldn't afford, your insurance rates will be higher. When you're buying a car, you are usually in your price range and so are your insurance payments.

• You have equity in your car if you want to sell it or trade it in when you are done paying the note.


The Bottom Line

Deciding to lease a car over buying will largely depend on how much cash you have on hand, your driving habits, and what you intend to do with the car. Research should be the cornerstone of any choice you make. Consider the type of car you are interested, the cost, and how much you want to spend long-term.



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Topics: Finances for Couples, Family Finances, Life in General, Tips and Tricks

5 Things Small Business Owners Can Do to Save Money Every Month

Posted by Megan Pacheco on Jul 7, 2014 7:59:06 AM

Sure, you love your small business; it allows you to work on your own terms, control your hours, and pursue your passion. But there's one problem: you constantly worry about money at the end of each month. If you can't manage your expenses, no amount of passion can save your business. Try these tips to avoid overspending and get back to the work you love.

Change Your Workforce

Think about it: do you really need permanent staff? Salaried employees incur more liabilities and taxes (and even more office drama) simply by working with you every day. Hiring outside workers allows you to customize skills and labor to each project without committing to long-term employees (and if one doesn't work out, you deal with fewer hard feelings, too). Temporary workers come in many forms; try virtual assistants for administrative tasks, independent contractors or temp employees for specialized projects, interns for menial or hands-on work, and commission-based workers for sales jobs.

Take Marketing to the Web

If you haven't made an effort to build an online presence yet, drop everything and start now. Many of the best outlets for reaching your customers online cost little or no money — plus, you can react quickly to business trends and talk directly to regular and prospective clients. Build your own website and reference it on company letterhead and emails (and anywhere else people will see your business name). Speaking of email, abandon your paper mailers and send email newsletters with sites such as MailChimp. Build social media accounts to reach customers on their level instead of using outdated print ads. If you need money for big projects, try crowdfunding through sites such as Kickstarter. And if you only run a physical storefront, consider selling items online with the help of PayPal or Amazon.

Slash Small Expenses

Image via Flickr by reynermedia

The little things do add up quickly — and if you paid attention to them, you could avoid hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in monthly expenses. Before you make any cuts, check your monthly budget for wasteful activity and ask staff where they see leaks in company spending. Don't neglect the minute details; some business owners found savings by replacing bottled water with a water cooler, using scanned documents instead of faxing them, or substituting Styrofoam plates with dishes and silverware. These small changes can greatly reduce your environmental impact while lowering monthly bills.

Travel Smart

If your business requires extensive travel, you know that costs can add up quickly — but a few small changes can dramatically cut your monthly travel expenses. If you fly out-of-town often, you may benefit from airline and hotel loyalty programs, as well as credit cards that accrue points or miles. For road warriors, try rent-as-you-go services like Zipcar instead of purchasing a company vehicle that sits idle for most of the month; ride-share programs such as Zimride can also lower gas and maintenance fees. Research extra tax breaks outside of typical travel expenses, since you may be able to make partial deductions from meals or tips on the road. Of course, staying at home cuts more travel costs than anything; try video chats with Skype or FaceTime to avoid a suitcase altogether.

Manage Money Online

Between credit cards, everyday expenses, and taxes, losing track of payments could land you in trouble. By using your computer and smartphone to watch your monthly funds, you'll ensure you won't forget a single dollar. Download FREE financial apps like Mvelopes in order to help you stay on top of your personal finances and always be on the same financial page with your spouse, regardless of where you are!

Turn that passion for your small business into action; you can make dozens of adjustments to lower your monthly costs without sacrificing excess time or money. With changes to your employees, marketing, travel, and finance management, you can get back to focusing on more important work.


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Topics: Envelope Budgeting, Family Finances, Life in General

Save $1000 in 5 months with this one tip

Posted by Megan Pacheco on Jul 1, 2014 5:37:33 AM

Limit Your Grocery Budget to $400 a Month and Build Your Emergency Fund!

Most Americans spend anywhere from $600 - $720 a month on groceries--that’s according to a recent Gallup poll. Food is, by far, the second largest expense for most of us, outside of our rent or mortgage payment.

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Topics: Envelope Budgeting, Reaching Financial Goals, Family Finances, Life in General, Tips and Tricks

Want financial success? Learn to listen!

Posted by Megan Pacheco on Jun 12, 2014 6:37:14 AM
Listening will help you succeed financially!
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Topics: Reaching Financial Goals, Finances for Couples, Family Finances, Life in General