Life’s Better On A Budget

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Have you ever daydreamed about having more money than you knew what to do with? Imagine wanting something—stylish new shoes, a sports car, a sprawling mansion, an island, anything—and buying it without pause thanks to your bottomless, overflowing coffers. How wonderful would that be?

Unfortunately, none of us has an inexhaustible supply of money. Income is finite in the real world, which makes budgeting an imperative element of household finance.

A budget, simply put, is an estimate of income and expenses for a set period of time. If you’re like most people who get paid once or twice a month and pay their bills on a monthly basis, you should be budgeting your household finances each month.

The problem is that many people see budgeting as a nuisance, if not a nightmare. In fact, a recent poll shows that just 32 percent of Americans put together a monthly household budget. The flip side of that statistic: More than two thirds of adults in the U.S. aren’t keeping detailed track of how, where or when they’re spending their money.

However, budgeting doesn’t need to be a necessary evil, nor should it be. It’s a fantastic tool for controlling what you spend, developing discipline and avoiding unnecessary stress. It can help you eliminate debt, reduce impulse buying, save money and plan for the future.

The following are a few tips on making—and sticking to—a budget:

Achieve balance, shoot for surplus
In a balanced budget, revenue and expenses are equal—in other words, you spend what you earn. If you spend more than you make, you have a deficit budget; if you spend less than you earn, you have a surplus budget.

If your monthly budgeting reveals a deficit, make balancing your budget your first goal: Cut up credit cards, use cash, pay off debts, and cut wasteful spending anywhere you can. When you’ve balanced your budget, take time to celebrate the win. After all, you’ve just accomplished something that many individuals, businesses and even governments have yet to do.

If your current budget is balanced, make surplus your goal. Look for additional ways to cut expenses and increase your income so you can start saving money.

Do you already have a surplus budget? Good for you. Your goal should be to tip the scales even further in your favor. The more you save, the healthier your budget is and the more secure your future will be.

When you’ve balanced your budget, take time to celebrate the win. After all, you’ve just accomplished something that many individuals, businesses and even governments have yet to do.

Record It
Begin by simply making a list of monthly expenses—both essentials and extras—and a separate list of your income-generating activities—full-time job or residual Melaleuca income. This will give you a picture of where your money is coming from and where it’s going every month.

Also, save your receipts and balance your checkbook regularly. Set aside time at least once a week to update your ledger. Most people who are caught off guard by overdraft fees fail to record their debits and credits in a timely manner. If you’re not a paper-and-pen person, try using personal finance software. A lot of programs can be accessed on the go via your phone and include built-in budgeting tools to help you analyze your spending.

Share Responsibility
Lighten your load and be accountable for your budget by sharing it with others. Couples who keep finances secret from each other not only run the risk of a relationship of mistrust, they also miss out on the benefits of teamwork. When both of you are on the same page, you can set goals and celebrate wins together, offer each other advice and encouragement, and keep an eye out for potential spending traps.

If you’re single, turn to others in your household and keep them apprised of your budget. While they may not be accountants, your parents, siblings and even children can serve as familial financial consultants because they care about you and likely share your financial goals.

Cut bad habits
If there’s a deficit in your budget, you have two options for achieving balance or surplus: increase your income or reduce expenses.

Thankfully, building a Melaleuca business is within your direct control, and it’s the best way to increase your residual income.

Cost cutting is also within your immediate power, and quitting a bad habit or two is an excellent way to quickly free up cash. Are you watching too much TV? Cancel your cable or satellite service. Are you eating out too much? Commit to making all your meals at home.

Alcohol and tobacco are not only bad for your body, they’re murder on your wallet. If you quit smoking and drinking, your physical health won’t be the only beneficiary. You’ll have more money for other expenses, you’ll probably qualify for lower insurance premiums and you’ll likely avoid health care expenses down the road.

Use Cash
One way to help you stay on budget is to use cash for the entire month. After you’ve paid your fixed expenses and other bills, take the remaining cash and divide it into as many categories as you need for the month—$200 for groceries, $150 for gas, $75 for restaurants, for example. Once the cash is gone, it’s gone. You’ll find it’s a lot easier to say “no” to a $100 blouse when it will drain the rest of your month’s cash than it is when you can just swipe a card for it.

A significant contributor to overspending is the card—both credit and debit. In fact, when shopping with plastic, consumers routinely spend up to 50 percent more on impulse purchases.

Revisit and revise
Just because a budget is set for one month doesn’t mean that things won’t change. A lost job, a new job, new insurance premiums or the arrival of a child all require adjustments to your finances.

Be flexible as you update your budget regularly. If you go over budget one month, don’t beat yourself up. Take time to reevaluate your plan and get familiar with the system. Budgeting can be a challenge, but the longer you stick with it, the easier it will become.

Whether you make $30,000 or $300,000 a year, knowing your financial numbers can save you a lot of heartache. The news is replete with stories of celebrities who earned tens of millions only to end up bankrupt due to their lack of financial discipline. The lesson is simple: Life is better on a budget, regardless of your income.

Escape the Santa Trap 6 Tips For Paying Down Holiday Debt

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It’s January, and all that holiday cheer is catching up with your bank account. Sure you got some amazing deals—25, 50, 75 percent off everything your family ever wanted!—but the magic of Christmas morning is now overshadowed by hefty credit card bills. If only you’d taken a cue from the Grinch and remembered that Christmas doesn’t come from a store. So what now? Where do you go after the wrapping paper and twinkling lights are stored for the season but you’ve got bills you’ll be paying the whole year through? Here are six easy tips you can use for holiday debt recovery, taken from Melaleuca’s Simple Steps to Your Financial Freedom guide.

Add Up Your Debt

You spent too much—you know that—but how much exactly did you spend? It’s important to know exactly how much you owe and to whom before you can make a plan to get out of debt. You’re not going to beat yourself over the head with your bad decisions; you’re just going to take an honest accounting of how much you owe and admit that you need to make getting out of debt a priority.

Stop Spending

All those amazing New Year’s sales? You’re going to skip them, even if they have amazing deals. After all, didn’t everyone just get a boatload of Christmas presents? You’ve fulfilled plenty of your family’s wants, so what you need is to stop spending and halt the upward climb of your credit card balance.

Reduce Expenses

Look at all your incidental expenses, like how often you eat out, go to the movies, and do other fun but not really necessary things. No, you don’t have to live like a hermit and spend the rest of the year bored at home. But what about setting some limits—like only one or two outings a week?

Because it’s winter, you’ll also want to take a look at your heating bill. Keeping warm can be an expensive endeavor, but the simple tips below can help lower your spending without freezing the family.

  • Invest in window and door treatments that cut down on heat loss. A drafty window or door is leaking more than just cold air—it’s leaking money. Caulk, weatherstrips and other insulation will pay off on your heating bill.
  • Did you know that hot water consumes 14 to 25 percent of your heating bill? Lower your bill by making sure you wash your laundry in cold water. All EcoSense® laundry products are designed to be effective in cold water, so you’ll get great results while saving a few bucks.
  • Add an extra blanket and lower the nightly temperature. Turning your thermostat down at night (or when you’re out of the house) can result in significant savings. Many thermostats are now programmable, so you can set it and forget it.
  • Let the sun lend a hand by opening the curtains on south-facing windows. You’ll get some good old-fashioned solar power during the day, and you can close the curtains at night to keep out the chill.

Increase Your Income

This is where a Melaleuca business comes in handy. Building a Melaleuca business doesn’t require that you quit your day job, invest a large sum of money or go further into debt. A Melaleuca business is a simple, easy, low-cost way to add to your monthly income and loosen a tight budget.

The average monthly income for a Director/Director II is $179. To reach Director II, all you need to do is help 10 friends discover Melaleuca. If you’re looking for a little more income, make a goal to reach Director III, which makes an average of $639 a month. To reach Director III you enroll 11 friends and then help one of those friends enroll eight of their friends. That’s a significant income just for telling a few people about quality products that can truly benefit their lives.

For those who are already Director III or above, make a goal to develop at least one Director each month. Use the monthly promotions to maximize your business growth and motivate your team. You can also set a goal to advance your status by a specific date.

Power Roll Your Debt

Traditional wisdom says to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, but power rolling takes a different approach. Instead, you find the smallest debt you have and focus on paying that off first.

Here’s how it works:
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List debts from largest to smallest
Using the list you made in Step One, put your debts in order from largest to smallest.
Pay off the smallest debt first
Whichever debt on your list is smallest, target that one first. On every other balance, make the minimum payment, but on your smallest debt, devote every spare cent you can find. Conquering that first small debt will give you a quick win and a taste of the freedom that comes when you conquer your debts.
Move to the next debt
With your smallest debt out of the way take the money you were paying on that debt and put it toward the next debt. It could be a credit card or a store loan. With each debt you pay off, the amount you have available to pay toward the next debt will grow larger.

Be Patient

This is the hard part. Although you didn’t accumulate all that debt overnight, the sad reality is it’s a lot easier to charge a credit card than to pay it off. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see amazing results in one or two months (or even six, depending on the size of your debt). Think like the tortoise and keep slowly moving forward—you’ll eventually win the race!

A Home for the Holidays

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When Brock Ryan gets in his car tomorrow, scrapes off the morning frost and revs the engine for his morning commute, he’ll save 30 precious minutes. That’s an extra 260 hours a year—over 10 and a half days—he can spend with his family. He can have breakfast with his daughter, read her favorite storybook or snuggle with his wife on the couch. And it’s all thanks to a little extra income from Melaleuca.

Last June, the Ryans took a hard look at their finances. They knew they wanted to have another child, but their current income and two-bedroom apartment presented a problem. Rachel started looking for ways she could make some extra money. Her family had shopped with Melaleuca for years, and she loved the products, so it seemed a natural fit to try building a business.

Right away, she was impressed with the Compensation Plan and the competitive prices. She’d worked for a multilevel marketing company in the past, but the business model was confusing and the products were poorly made and overpriced. Melaleuca’s Consumer Direct Marketing® plan, on the other hand, just made sense. And the reasonably priced, quality products were easy to recommend to friends and family. As a result, Rachel earned $148 her first month and $1,186 the next month.

“I love that if we’re having a rough month we can make up for it with Melaleuca,” Rachel says. “Not everyone has that option.”

That extra income has made a big difference. The Ryans were able to move out of their apartment and into a home closer to Brock’s work—cutting his commute in half. They also have more room for a growing family, with four bedrooms, an extra bathroom and a fenced backyard where their daughter can play.

“Our biggest Christmas present to ourselves is moving into a new house,” Rachel says. “But another beautiful thing about this year is that we’re now in a position to give back and help others who’ve given so much to us. Thanks to Melaleuca we have that financial flexibility.”

Helping Christmas Mean a Little Bit More

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For the de Jager family, the most important present this Christmas won’t come brightly wrapped with ribbons or bows. There’ll be plenty of those, but the gift that matters the most will be spending Christmas together. For the first time since moving from South Africa to the United States, Cornelius de Jager will have the holiday off.

“We are extremely grateful to have Christmas together as a family,” says Cornelius. “I work in agriculture, and my job doesn’t have benefits. In the past, I’ve always had to work on Christmas because we needed the income.”

Thanks to Melaleuca, the de Jagers not only have more time together as a family, they also have financial peace of mind during the joyful, but often expensive, holiday season. “We used to have to start three or four months ahead of time to save up for Christmas gifts, but this year we don’t have to worry about it,” Cornelius says. “Some of my cousins and friends are also building Melaleuca businesses. So it’s not only our family that’s going to have a blessed Christmas; it’s other families too.”

Helping people is one of the key reasons the de Jagers enrolled with Melaleuca. When Wanda and Cornelius first heard about Melaleuca, they were concerned it sounded too good to be true. “We didn’t want to make money by hurting other people,” Cornelius says. “I was impressed that a 28-year-old company was debt-free. And the products sounded good, but I didn’t understand the Compensation Plan.”

Their enroller invited them to a Leadership Celebration dinner to meet some of the business builders in their area and learn more about how Melaleuca worked. That was a turning point for the de Jagers, not because they heard tales of big paychecks or easy incomes, but because they saw other people just like them—teachers, farmers, moms and dads—sharing the success stories of others. They heard how Melaleuca helped people get out of debt, find increased wellness, and spend more time with their families. After seeing Melaleuca’s Mission Statement in action, the de Jagers went home and began building a business.

“I’ve really fallen in love with this company because of how it allows me to help others,” Cornelius says. “Most people think ‘helping others’ means giving them money or writing out a check and that’s the only way you can do it. But with Melaleuca we help people not by giving them money but by showing them how to make a living. Then, they go out and help someone else, and so on and so on. I love it.”

The de Jagers see building a Melaleuca business not just as an opportunity, but also a responsibility. “We’re Christians, and Proverbs 3:27 says if it’s in your power to do something good for others you do it,” Cornelius says. “I take this business seriously and do it correctly because I don’t want to deny people this blessing. I have an obligation to help people, to teach them about Melaleuca. It’s a blessed thing—it truly is a blessed thing.”

Just in Time for the Holidays

jacki-&-josh-grimleyBetween their bills and a mountain of maxedout credit cards, the Grimleys only had $150 leftover each month to feed their family of four. Forget movies or new shoes or even candy for the stockings—how could they possibly provide basic nutrition for an entire month with only $150?

Almost overnight, the Grimleys’ finances crumbled into what seemed an irreparable mess, their once-bright future water-logged by terrible timing. On the very day Josh quit his corporate job, sick of the long hours and hectic lifestyle, Jacki noticed some strange bowing in the wood floors.

“I went to check the hatch under the house and it was swollen shut,” Josh recalls. Unbeknownst to the Grimleys, a water leak had been destroying their home. “Plumbing, electrical, walls, flooring and even some of the floor joists had to be replaced,” Josh says.

The damage to their home was so extensive they had to move in with parents while the home was remodeled. Their insurance paid for some of the repairs, but it wasn’t nearly enough. With Josh now unemployed, the Grimleys turned to credit cards to survive.

“I took another job making half of what I used to make and worked on remodeling the house in my free time,” Josh says. “We were barely making it paycheck to paycheck.”

Around this time, Josh heard about Melaleuca. The business plan sounded impressive, but first Josh wanted to try the products for himself. “We liked every product we tried, especially Renew® [Lotion],” Josh says. “My wife has a serious dry skin problem on her hands. Before Melaleuca, she was using steroid creams and going to bed with socks on her hands. Within three days of using Renew, her skin had improved so much she stopped using her other creams.”

The Grimleys enrolled on November 2, 2012, and put their all into building a Melaleuca business. When that first check arrived in the mail for $2,409, it quite literally saved their Christmas. “It saved our bacon,” Josh says. “We were able to give our kids Christmas and even give it to another family.”

Since then, Jacki and Josh have paid off $50,000 in debt using their Melaleuca income. Finances were so tight last year, the couple wasn’t able to do anything for their 10th anniversary, so now Josh and Jacki are taking an eight-day trip to Hawaii. And Christmas this year won’t be a time of stress and worry, but rather an opportunity to help others. They plan on providing Christmas for several families in need.

“We believe that the more you give, the more you gain, and we have a responsibility to go out there and provide for other people as well,” Josh says. “This is such an amazing company. It can bless so many lives if you just open your mouth. If you do, you’ll be blessed beyond what you can imagine.”

Better Than Winning the Lottery

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Nick and Crystal Volk know what it’s like to burn the candle at both ends. For 25 years they worked nonstop: seven days a week and double shifts.

“As young people, we were taught right away to work hard and save our money,” Crystal says. “When we got married, we started with very little. We both worked two jobs and also ran a restaurant.”

It wasn’t an easy schedule, but it allowed the Volks to make extra payments and whittle down their debt. “We started only paying a little extra, but every little bit counts,” Crystal says. “That’s what we taught our kids: Just pay a little extra and that adds up.”

Then in 1993, Crystal was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. “After my diagnosis, I started looking for safer cleaners,” Crystal recalls. “I wanted to get the harsh chemicals out of my home and business.”

The Volks discovered Melaleuca and began taking Vitality for Life® supplements. They also converted their home over to EcoSense® products. At first, the Volks were just customers. They told a few friends about Melaleuca and received enough money to pay for their products. “For 20 years, Melaleuca has paid for the nutrition that helps keep us healthy,” Crystal says. “That’s money that would’ve come from our other income, but instead we were able to pay more money on our mortgage.”

Like drops in a bucket, that extra money added up. “It helped us enjoy a lot of the smaller things in life,” Nick says.

Then, when the Volks retired and sold their restaurant, they started putting more time into their Melaleuca business. “I got a little bored and restless and wondered what I should do,” Crystal says. “I decided I wanted to tell more people about Melaleuca. I help customers get the chemicals out of their homes, and they call me up and say thank you. It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had, if you can even call it a job.”

Now Senior Directors IV, the Volks enjoy a thriving Melaleuca business. “My residual income after working this business for a year and half is more than my retirement from a job of 25 years,” Crystal says. “Melaleuca is a great business. You start it for $29, and it can be whatever you want it to be. We had to sink a lot of money into our restaurant, and at the end of the year we didn’t always know if we would make enough to cover our taxes.”

volk-homeAll those years of hard work, careful spending and double payments allowed the Volks to burn the mortgage to their gorgeous 10-acre farmstead at Melaleuca’s 2013 Convention. In addition to paying off their mortgage, the Volks used their Melaleuca income to help completely remodel their three-story home.

“If we would’ve built a Melaleuca business back in ’93, we would’ve been out of debt a lot sooner,” Nick says.

As it is, the Volks encourage anyone looking for extra income to start with Melaleuca. “In many ways, Melaleuca is better than winning the lottery,” Crystal says. “Everyone can win. All these years I’ve never had anybody come back to me and say, ‘What you told me wasn’t true.’ That means a lot. Nobody would stay with Melaleuca for 20 years if the products didn’t work.”