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Jeff Corder or "Quarter" (nicknamed because of his sound-alike last name) is a Chicagoland food, improv, and live music fan who's always out wherever there's great pizza, plenty of laughs, and a good (or bad) band playing. Corder "grew-up" (…questionable) 28 Metra stops from Michigan & Randolph in the Southside paradise known as Blue Island. He graduated Dwight D. Eisenhower HS as "Most Likely To Be Unlikely" and attended Illinois State University…before they asked him to "please leave." When not on the air, Jeff can be found volunteering for local charities, playing with his Mom's parrots, or learning the art of power-napping.
When I was a little girl in Little Rock, Arkansas I used to stay up late with my favorite Christmas present - a transistor radio. I would tune in WLS AM, broadcasting from the exciting big city of Chicago, and when I heard Yvonne Daniels on the air I thought “YES! THAT’S what I want to do”. Dreams do come true because years later I ended up hosting the same show on WNUA that Yvonne Daniels hosted at one time. After college and some time touring with a band, playing keyboards and singing, I landed my first radio job in Little Rock. I then moved on to stations in Detroit and Chicago before doing mornings on WNUA. First solo then partnering with Jazz Great Ramsey Lewis. I joined Lite FM three years ago.
I live in the Northwest Suburbs with my hubby (the most patient man in the world) and my two sons. They’re used to Mom’s early morning hours and indulge my cooking obsession. They’ll try anything…once! Partially by necessity, I love to run. I’m not too speedy but better at endurance. This year will be my third Chicago Marathon. I do yoga to de-stress and tennis just to make my friends feel good about winning. I live for Family, Friends, Food and Music (maybe in that order). I love live music especially outside in the summer - From the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra to Ravinia to catching my friends’ bands playing in the local clubs. Looking at my Facebook page it seems like all I do is post about live shows and restaurants!
I really do feel like I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to do what I love – helping people wake up and get going in the best city in the world. Yes Karen… Life is Good!
Achieving your personal finance resolutions in the new year all starts with setting a goal and making a budget to get there. Now, let’s hash out the details…
1. Set a goal
Your first step is to set a goal - something you really want. If it’s not compelling, achieving it will be tough, especially if it requires sacrifice. The most critical step in achieving goals is crafting them. Take the time to consider what’s important – not what should be important, or might be important, or what your spouse thinks is important. What’s your dream? What’s your burning desire? Once you have a goal in mind, figure out how much you need and when you’ll have it. For example, my goal this year is to save $3,000 to put toward a new car by Dec. 31, 2013. The amount is exact and so is the date. It’s compelling because I hate my current clunker and – let’s be honest – I like picturing myself in a new car.
2. Create a plan
Step two – make a budget, otherwise known as a spending plan. While you can do this with a pencil and piece of paper, the best way is to use a free site or app that will automate a lot of the work. For example, Money Talks just formed a partnership with PowerWallet – a free site where you simply input your bank account, bills, and goals, and it does the rest: keeps track of everything you make and spend, reminds you when your bills are due, and helps you find extra money to accomplish your goals. If you hate the idea of online budgeting, use one of these free budget spreadsheets, or simply write it down on paper.
Whether online or on paper, a spending plan is simply a record of everything you make and spend, divided into categories. That includes fixed expenses, like rent or mortgage payments, car payments, and insurance, as well as variable ones, like groceries, utility bills, and other purchases. Once these expenses are subtracted from your income, what’s left is the money you can put toward your goal.
The idea is to treat your goal like any other important bill. For example, I want to save $3,000 in 12 months. That means I’ll need to find $250 every month. If I already have that left over, no problem. But if I don’t, I’ll have to stare at my spending plan, see where my money is going now, cut some from other categories, and add some to my goal.
The trick to reducing expenses to come up with goal money is to find ways to cut without sacrificing your quality of life. In other words, gain without pain. Whether this is possible will depend on how much fat you currently have in your budget. But no matter how tight the budget, there are usually tips that can help you find extra cash. For examples, see articles like:
25 Simple Ways to Save an Extra $1,000
30 Tips to Save on Food
8 Ways to Save Big on Rent
10 Ways to Save on Pets
30 Tips to Spend Less and Save More
3. Follow your money
Online money management with a site like PowerWallet allows you to see your budget, as well as current balances for your checking account, credit cards, car loan, mortgage, etc., all on one page. It’s infinitely easier than paper, because it does the updating for you: All you have to do is log on every day. But if you prefer a pen and paper, you can keep your receipts and manually divide your purchases into categories daily.
Either way, tracking your spending shows you trends so you can make adjustments as you go. For example, last month I realized I had spent more on groceries than I’d planned. This month, I’m staying on top of my cart.
4. Stay focused on your goal
Finally, keep your goal in mind as you work your plan. PowerWallet has a goal tracker so I instantly see my goal when I log on, as well as how close I am to getting there.
Tracking your progress is one way to stay motivated, but there are others. Say you’re like me and want to buy a car. Why not stick a picture of the car you want on your refrigerator? Every time you grab something out of the fridge, you’ll be motivated to save more toward your goal. Trying to add more to your emergency fund? I have a picture of a piggy bank as my desktop wallpaper. It motivates me to save every time I log on (or off).
Bottom line? Most resolutions fail because we didn’t create a plan to make them happen. If your goals involve money, your path to achieving it is a spending plan. Make one, keep yourself motivated, and this year will be the year you find a way to change everything.