Top 10 Budgeting Strategies That Help Curb Overspending

If your spending habits have you digging for pennies before the next payday, maybe it’s time for a change. Unfortunately, running out of money before payday, especially if you do it over and over, causes a lot of undue stress that can negatively affect your health as well as your pocketbook.

However, you can reduce this stress and get back on track with your finances by altering your spending habits.

How will you do it?

Try these budgeting techniques:

  1. Make a Master List. Develop a list of all your loan payments and credit card bills. You’ll expand your awareness about the number of creditors you have, the total amount you owe, and the due dates of your monthly payments.
      • On the list, have 5 columns: the name of the creditor, your monthly payment, the due date of each month’s payment, the amount of interest you’re charged, and the total amount you owe.

  2. Add other monthly expenditures to your Master List. Next, list things like your rent or mortgage payment, grocery costs, gasoline costs, and anything else you pay monthly. Estimate the amounts for your cable, water, garbage, cell phone, and utility bills, using last month’s statements. Your Master List should reflect all your outgoing expenditures.

  3. Establish priorities. Which bills do you see as the most important? Mark them in some way by highlighting or circling them.

  4. Survey the remaining bills. In looking at these non-priority bills, you can most likely discover some areas in which you can lower your costs.

  5. Examine frivolous expenditures. Are you spending $30 a week on fancy coffees? Do you stop after work for a few beers with co-workers two or three days a week? If so, consider the amount of money you spend for these sorts of activities. Which expenditures can you reduce? Which can you cut out completely, at least for a three-month period?

  6. Call your credit card companies to request lower interest rates. Make a notation on your Master List of the reduced rates you receive. Also note any companies that refuse to reduce your rates. Make the decision to stop using credit cards with high interest rates.

  7. Take decisive steps to reduce your expenses. For example, if you’re paying out $180 a month for premium cable channels, you have the power to cut your cable bill simply by picking up the phone and calling the cable company.

  8. Determine how you can bring in additional dollars. Consider a second job. Then, use the extra money you earn to pay off debts. Recognize you have the power to change things.

  9. Keep your Master List with you throughout the day. Each time you’re about to make a purchase, glance at the list and reflect on your bills. Ask yourself if you truly need what you’re about to purchase. Allow yourself to feel proud about this new routine.

  10. Record your thoughts and feelings about the changes you’re making. It’s a challenge to try to change something about yourself, and how you manage your finances is no different. Write down how you’re feeling about adjusting your spending habits. Be optimistic that you can and will change your financial situation.

If you consistently find yourself running out of money, vow to follow these strategies to change your unhelpful behaviors. You have the choice to alter your financial habits in powerful ways. You can do it!

RV Insurance: Optional Coverage Part Two

Note: RV insurance varies with each carrier. Engarde Financial Group has working relationships with multiple insurance carriers and will work with you to find the insurance carrier that is the best fit for you. 

RVs are for taking learning on the road. They are for traveling to visit family. They are for road trips with friends. They are for enjoying the great outdoors. 

No matter where your RV adventures take you, be sure to have peace of mind knowing you and your RV are covered in the case of an unfortunate event. 

RV insurance offers both standard coverage and optional coverage. Listed below are some of the optional coverage choices you can add to your policy. 

No matter all the care you put into taking care of your RV and outside your RV, someone could still get injured. 

    • Vacation liability pays for the medical bills if someone is injured in or around your RV while you are on vacation. 

Think about how much you would need to spend if you had to replace personal items. 

    • Replacement cost covers the cost of personal items inside of your RV. 

Lastly, emergencies happen. Have peace of mind knowing you will have a safe place to stay and transportation if an emergency arises. 

    • Emergency expense coverage pays for transportation and lodging in the event your RV breaks down while on vacation. 

Obtaining RV insurance ensures peace of mind while enjoying one of your favorite past times; RVing. Contact Engarde Financial Group at 412-533-2373 to discuss RV insurance today. 


Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

RV Insurance: Optional Coverage Part One

Note: RV insurance varies with each carrier. Engarde Financial Group has working relationships with multiple insurance carriers and will work with you to find the insurance carrier that is the best fit for you. 

RVs are for adventures. They are for long cross-country trips. They are for living off the grid with family. They are for exploring. 

No matter where your RV adventures take you, be sure to have peace of mind knowing you and your RV are covered in the case of an unfortunate event. 

RV insurance offers both standard coverage and optional coverage. Listed below are some of the optional coverage choices you can add to your policy. 

Because your car may break down or you may experience a flat tire or a dead battery, rest assured in knowing roadside assistance is there to handle the unexpected. 

    • Roadside assistance pays for the expense to have your RV towed to the nearest auto shop. 

Let’s face it, sometimes an accident occurs where you call home. Liability insurance covers you. 

    • Full timer’s liability pays for injuries that happen in or around your RV when you use it as a full-time residence. 

Lastly, sometimes your beloved pet may get injured while on an adventure with you in your RV. 

    • Pet injury coverage pays for the vet bills if your pet is injured while riding in your RV. 

Obtaining RV insurance ensures peace of mind while enjoying one of your favorite past times; RVing. Contact Engarde Financial Group at 412-533-2373 to discuss RV insurance today. 


Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

RV Insurance: Standard Coverages Part One

Note: RV insurance varies with each carrier. Engarde Financial Group has working relationships with multiple insurance carriers and will work with you to find the insurance carrier that is the best fit for you. 

RVs are for adventures. They are for long cross-country trips. They are for living off the grid with family. They are for exploring. 

No matter where your RV adventures take you, be sure to have peace of mind knowing you and your RV are covered in the case of an unfortunate event. 

RV insurance offers both standard coverage and optional coverage. Listed below are the standard coverages covered by RV insurance. 

Because accidents can happen, no matter how much you are enjoying yourself, think about who would pay for medical bills if an accident were to occur. 

    • Medical payments pay for the medical bills when you or someone else is injured. 

Let’s face it, sometimes an accident occurs, and you are at fault. Liability insurance covers you. 

    • Liability pays for damages and injuries when you are at fault in an accident. 

Unfortunately, there are times when you may find yourself in an accident and to make matters worse, the other party is either uninsured or underinsured. Do not get caught footing the bill. 

    • Uninsured and underinsured motorist pays for medical bills incurred due to bodily injury or bills from damages to your motorcycle that the motorist at fault I unable to pay for. 

Lastly, rest easy knowing that your RV is covered when things out of your control take place. 

    • Comprehensive and collision pays for repairs to your RV or the replacement of your RV when damages occur from such events as vandalism or fire. Collision pays for repairs or replacement when you are involved in an accident. 

Obtaining RV insurance ensures peace of mind while enjoying one of your favorite past times; RVing. Contact Engarde Financial Group at 412-533-2373 to discuss RV insurance today. 


Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

Motorcycle Insurance: Types of Motorcycles

Note: Motorcycle insurance varies with each carrier. Engarde Financial Group has working relationships with multiple insurance carriers and will work with you to find the insurance carrier that is the best fit for you. 

Do you own a motorcycle? Or are you looking to own a motorcycle? Different motorcycles have distinct usages. Choosing a motorcycle boils down to preference. Choose which motorcycle fits your personality.

Do you prefer rugged terrain over smooth roadways? Do you like spending your weekends off roading in the woods? If yes, an ATV might be right for you.

    • ATV’s are four-wheel vehicles used for off roading. 

Do you prefer to stay within the status quo? If yes, a cruiser may be right for you. 

    • Cruisers are the most common type of motorcycles. 

Are you rough, tough and don’t mind dirt? Have you discovered some exciting trails? If yes, you may own a dirt bike. 

    • Dirt Bikes are bikes with rugged tires and can be compared to an ATV.  

Do you have a need for speed? Do you live for thrills? If yes, you might own a sports bike. 

    • Sport Bikes are known for their speed.  

Do you prefer a lightweight motorcycle to help you navigate your big city? Do you need a small motorcycle to navigate through heavy traffic? If yes, a scooter might be a good fit for you. 

  • Scooters are compact, lightweight motorcycles. 

Which type of motorcycle listed above do you own? Which type of motorcycle listed above do you dream of owning? 

Obtaining boat insurance ensures peace of mind while enjoying one of your favorite past times; boating. Contact Engarde Financial Group at 412-533-2373 to discuss if we cover your type of boat today. 



Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

Renting Out the Extra Room Your College-Bound Child Leaves Behind

Renting out the extra room your college-bound child leaves behind can provide you with extra income and a chance to meet new people. It’s a big decision, so plan carefully and make wise choices. Consider these tips to ensure that youcreate a good experience for you, your child, and your new tenant.

Help your college-bound child to adjust:

  1. Give yourselves some transition time. Your child is already coping with major changes while heading off to college. It will be less stressful for both of you if you wait a couple of months or so before taking on a tenant.

  2. Involve your child in the decision. People usually react more positively when they’re included in the decision-making process. Tell your child you’re considering renting the room and want to discuss it. If they’re comfortable, you can steam ahead. If they have concerns, slow down and consider your child’s viewpoint.

  3. Be sensitive to your child’s needs. Everyone will have to make some adjustments, so plan ahead to minimize any awkwardness.
    • Have alternative sleeping arrangements ready for when your child comes home to visit. Even if you don’t have a guest room, you can get a futon or inflatable bed. If they’ll be sleeping in the living room, ask everyone to keep out during the early morning hours.
    • Develop storage solutions. Store your child’s prized possessions safely. This could also be a great opportunity for the whole family to get rid of some clutter.
    • Let your child know you appreciate their cooperation. Thank them for their flexibility and the contribution it makes to your family. Prepare their favorite meal or plan a special outing to show your gratitude.

Help yourself to adjust:

  1. Keep it legal. Check the local zoning ordinances in your area to get any required permits. If you’re renting, consult your landlord to make sure that any arrangements are permissible according to your lease.

  2. Play it safe in searching for a tenant. If you live within commuting distance from any colleges or universities, their student housing agencies are an excellent resource for finding prospective tenants. Organizations like roommates.com charge a small fee but provide more security than going it alone on Craigslist. Always run a credit check and ask for references.

  3. Sign a rental agreement. You can get rental agreement forms from your local landlord/tenant association or housing agency. Require a deposit to protect yourself from damages.

  4. Establish house rules, especially for shared areas. Discuss your expectations with your new tenant beforehand. Try to reach mutual agreement on issues like the use of kitchen and laundry areas.

  5. Cultivate open lines of communication. Friendly communication is fundamental. Maintain an open and respectful atmosphere so that you and your new tenant can work together to resolve any conflicts.

Renting out your child’s room when they leave for college can have economic and social benefits. Keep the best interests of your family and your new tenant in mind to create a pleasant home environment for everyone.


Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

Tricks Restaurants Use to Make You Spend More

The restaurant industry is just like any other. What started out as a simple business model with only minimal competition has become far more sophisticated and competitive.

Restaurants are now doing everything they can to get a few more dollars from you before you leave their establishment.

Avoid becoming a restaurant victim!

Recognize these restaurant tactics:

  1. All-you-can-eat. While some patrons come out ahead, most restaurant customers spend more than the value they’re receiving. Restaurants are great at filling buffets with inexpensive items that fill you up, like bread and salad. Purchasing and preparing food in bulk also cuts costs for the restaurant.
    • Some items you want might be unavailable on the buffet. You’ll want something to drink and you may want dessert. If you’re going for the all-you-can-eat deal, try to limit your other purchases.
    • Better yet, ask yourself if it would be less expensive to order something from the menu.

  2. Making you wait. If you’ve ever noticed, many restaurants have empty tables, but you still have to wait. The purpose is to encourage you to sit at the bar, have a few drinks, and maybe even order an appetizer. It’s easy to spend an additional $15 or more while waiting for a table.
    • Set a budget before you go into the restaurant and you’ll be less likely to fall for this trick.

  3. Specials. If you’ve ever visited the same restaurant on a regular basis, you might have noticed an item on “special” that costs more than the normal price. Specials are often used to promote high-profit items or to push food that’s about to expire.
    • Let common sense be your guide and avoid falling prey to specials. Ignore the word “special” and ask yourself if you would order it otherwise.

  4. Watch out for salty snacks. Have you ever noticed how bars offer free pretzels, chips, popcorn, or peanuts? Those cheap, salty snacks will keep you drinking, which results in big profits for the restaurant. The return on a keg of beer is commonly over 300%, which is definitely worth the cost of some cheap, stale pretzels.
    • Stay away from the salty snacks and drink water. Even though soft drinks sometimes come with free refills, the first glass can be expensive.
    • It’s also a potential health issue. How many different hands have been in that bowl?

  5. Your server is trained to upsell you at every opportunity. Whether it’s an appetizer, salad, dessert, or extra cheese, you’ll be offered the chance to spend more money. Servers are happy to do it, especially considering that they’re looking for a bigger tip.
    • Again, have a budget and stick to it. Appetizers are usually unnecessary. Also, most restaurants provide large enough portions that you can pass on dessert.

Restaurants are like any other business. They want to make as much money as possible. While dining out can be a good time, it’s important to be financially responsible. Stick with your dining budget and avoid spending more than planned. Your waistline will thank you, too!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Automatic Bill Paying

If you struggle to pay your bills on time or can’t find the time to deal with your finances, auto bill paying is one possible solution. One of the great benefits of online banking is auto bill paying. Your bills are paid automatically on a preset date each month. A checking account or credit card can be used as the payment source.

It’s comforting to know your bills will be handled each month with a minimal amount of effort on your part.

Auto bill paying has several advantages:

  1. Your credit score might improve. Many people find that their credit scores improve after a few months of paying bills automatically. Late payments should be a thing of the past, provided you keep your checking account funded adequately. Late payments are a primary cause of lowered credit scores.

  2. You’ll save money. Paying your bills on time means few late charges. It also results in less money spent on checks, envelopes, and stamps. How many times have you been unable to find a stamp at home?

  3. You’ll save money. Paying your bills on time means few late charges. It also results in less money spent on checks, envelopes, and stamps. How many times have you been unable to find a stamp at home?

  4. It benefits the environment. No more paper bills, checks, or envelopes. You’ll have less impact on the environment and save a few trees. The mail carrier won’t be burning gas to deliver your payments, either.

  5. There’s a lower risk of identity theft. Identity theft continues to be a significant issue nationwide. Sending snail mail with your account numbers and credit card numbers available to credit thieves is always a risk. While taking care of business online isn’t foolproof, there is far more effort made to keep your financial information safe.

There are many advantages to paying your bills automatically. Unfortunately, there are also a few disadvantages, too. Consider both before making a final decision.

Consider these disadvantages:

  1. It can be challenging to stop payments. Automatic payments set up with your bank are usually easy to stop. However, automatic payments set up with a credit card or with the merchant can be very challenging to stop. Be sure to investigate the process for ceasing payments. In many cases, written notification is required.

  2. Excessive credit card debt. If you’re using a credit card as your auto payment vehicle, it’s possible to rack up a lot of debt quickly. Be sure to keep your eye on your balance and pay it in full each month.

  3. The costs can be higher. Most auto bill paying services are free or very inexpensive. However, some do charge high fees. Some merchants also charge high fees if you want to pay your bills automatically. Be sure the costs are reasonable.

  4. A lack of awareness. Do you know how much your bills are each month? Can you be certain that you have enough money in your account to cover the bill? When your bills are paid automatically, there is the potential to lose awareness. Review your bills and your bank account balance regularly.

There are a few disadvantages with auto bill paying, but the benefits outweigh the risks for most. The time and money savings are a significant advantage over paying your bills manually.

It’s important to maintain awareness of your bills and the balance of your payment vehicle. Spend a couple of minutes each week monitoring the situation.

Auto bill paying can save time, money, and improve your credit score. Consider adding this useful tool to your financial tool belt.

Should You Sell Your Property or Turn It Into a Rental?

There are two options available to you if you no longer need a real estate property. You can either sell it or turn it into a rental. Both options have their pros and cons. Consider your choices and select the option that makes the most sense for your situation and financial goals.

Selling Your Home

Selling your home means you will receive a lump sum of money. You can, for instance, use this money to make a down payment on a new home. The main advantage of selling your home is that you can use the money from the sale to easily finance another real estate purchase.

Selling your home also means you no longer have to worry about maintaining the property. This can be your best option if extensive repairs are needed and if you would rather avoid expenses linked to maintenance. Typically, maintenance costs between 6 and 10% of a property’s value each year.

Renting Your Home

The main advantage of turning your property into a rental is that you will generate a steady income over the long-term. This could be a good way to supplement your income. You can use a portion of this income to make repairs to the property or to make upgrades and increase its value.

Turning your home into a rental means you always have the option of selling it later if you decide you need a lump sum to buy another property or if you no longer want to spend money on repairs and maintenance. You can also turn your property into a rental until the market changes, allowing you to get more for the sale of your home.

The downside of turning your home into a rental is that you will become a landlord. You’ll have to find tenants, address their requests and complaints, and you might even have to evict tenants who don’t pay rent. There is also the risk of your property losing value over time.

To help alleviate this downside, if the finances allow it, you could hire a property manager to handle these issues for you.

Remember, you won’t be able to start renting your property until it’s considered to be liveable within your local building codes and landlord/tenant laws. You might have to spend a significant amount on repairs, especially if this is an old home.

You might also have to spend money to make your home a more appealing option for tenants, especially if there are better rentals available in the area.

Making a Decision

The best option depends on what your plans are. If you would like to move away for a few years and then come back to the area, renting your home on a temporary basis makes sense. If you’re moving to a nearby community, becoming a landlord is usually manageable.

However, if you’re moving to a different state for good, selling your home would most likely make more sense. Being a landlord would not be convenient and you may need money from the sale to help with moving and acquiring property in your new location.

Do some research on your local real estate market. If the value of your property is likely to remain steady or to increase, you could turn it into a rental and plan on selling it later. However, if you think your property will lose its value, selling it now would probably make more sense.

The main question to ask yourself is: Would you rather get a lump sum now or generate a monthly income for the long term? Weigh the pros and cons for each option. Keep in mind that you can always use a management service if you prefer not to act as a landlord or plan on moving to another area. Both options allow you to earn money with your property.


Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

Tax Tips for Homeowners

You may already know that you can deduct the mortgage interest you pay on your home, but what other tax advantages are lurking in that house?

One of the biggest challenges of owning a home is dealing with the tax laws, especially those around points and cost basis. Just a little bit of knowledge can really clear up these frequently confusing terms. Here’s the scoop on mortgage basis points and how they’re used in your home’s value, cost basis, and tax burden.

What are Points?

Points are fees that you pay in order to enter into a mortgage. Points are considered to be prepaid interest, and as such, you can deduct them. The issue is, can you deduct the full amount up front, or must you divide your deductions out over the life of the loan?

You can deduct all the points the first year if all of the following are true:

  • The loan is used to purchase or build your primary home.
  • Paying points is customary in your area.
  • The points aren’t paid for appraisal fees, title fees, property taxes, or similar fees.
  • You didn’t borrow the money to pay the points.
  • The points were based on a percentage of the loan and that fact is easy to see.

Cost Basis

Cost basis is the original value of an asset for tax purposes. The cost basis is quite easy to calculate; it is simply the price you paid for the home plus any capital improvements that have been made. Then you would subtract any seller-paid points, depreciation, and losses.

Capital improvements would be anything that increases the home’s value. Capital improvements would include such things as swimming pools and adding a room.

Understanding the Tax Burden When You Sell

If you owned the home (and lived in it) for at least two out of the last 5 years, you most likely don’t owe any tax at all. A single person doesn’t pay tax on capital gains of less than $250,000; for married couples the limit is $500,000. So as a married couple, you could purchase a home for $100,000 and sell it for $600,000 and not owe any tax on the proceeds.

There are circumstances under which the two-year requirement is waived, such as health issues, divorce, change of employment, and more.

In these cases, the amount of the exemption is based on the number of months the home was lived in. So if you were single and lived there for 12 months, you would be entitled to an exemption of $125,000, or half of the deduction allowed if you had lived there the required two years.

Inherited Property

The cost basis on inherited property is the market value at the time of the owner’s death.

This is great, because it doesn’t matter how much your grandmother paid for her home back in 1960. If you inherited the home she paid $20,000 for, and it’s now worth $175,000 (when she died), you would not owe any tax on the proceeds even if you were to sell the home immediately.

While it’s likely that the related tax laws will change again (they always do), it’s always a good idea to understand your home’s cost basis and your potential tax liability. Sooner or later the information may be pertinent to your tax situation, so keep abreast of the tax implications and deductions for your home.


Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.