Thursday, July 31, 2014

Retiring on Time: Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success

For an individual in their 20's, retirement can seem like something light years away. There are still decades of life and work between where they are now, and where they will be when they reach retirement age. This makes now the best time to plan for a successful retirement. By starting to plan for retirement early in life, a young individual is setting a solid foundation that is going to make it a lot easier and comfortable for them when they reach retirement age.

Believe it or not, for a person who starts early enough, retiring as a millionaire is a realistic option. You do not need a lot of money to start off with. What you need is a consistent amount of money that is invested over a long period of time. A person doesn't even need to be an investment guru like Warren Buffett. All they need to have is patience, self-discipline, and the mental fortitude to keep to their investment plan.

Take Advantage of the Time You Have


A person who is in their 20's and is able to stay relatively healthy, is probably going to work for the next 40 years. An individual who invests $100 every single month and receives 10 percent annual returns on their investment will have saved over $630,000 by time they retire. Increase that monthly investment to $250 a month, and now we are talking about retiring with $1.5 million saved away. Now if you really want to take this scenario to the extreme, a person in their 20's who starts investing $2,000 monthly in something that will give them a 10 percent annual return will retire in 40 years having saved $12.6 million. As you can see, it’s not necessary to invest a lot of money to retire well. It is necessary to take advantage of the time that you have.

Take Advantage of Your Raises


A young person who first enters into the work field is unlikely to be earning a higher end salary. However, they are likely to be in the middle of the highest growth potential in salary that they will have throughout their entire life. Basically, as their skills improve, their pay will improve. Why not leverage raises to increase investments? The money that you get as a raise, is money that you are living just fine without prior to the raise. So instead of spending it on gadgets and other things that you just don’t need, invest it in your long-term future.

How Much Money Will I Need to Retire?


The answer to this question is going to depend on how much you plan on spending. An individual planning to retire at 60 is encouraged to have saved at least 15 times what they want their annual salary to be. So, for a person who is looking at living on $60,000 a year, they will need to save approximately $900,000.

According to Gitten & Associates his number increases for those who are looking at leaving a legacy behind for their children. The amount of money that they want to leave behind in a will or trust needs to be taken into consideration. It would be a good idea to sit and talk to an attorney and discuss the specifics of making a living will and any fees that are associated with this. Discussing retirement plans, trusts, living wills and things of this sort with the power of attorney in Newfoundland or other parts of the world, is all part of successfully preparing for retirement and beyond.

When a person is in their 20's, life seems like it is in front of them. And that is true. However, the decisions that a person makes in their 20's will affect them financially in the future, and will decide whether retirement is something they look forward to with pleasure or something that they look towards with dread.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Don't Overspend: Seven Unexpected Things Americans Spend Too Much Money On In Retirement

One of the best ways to save money is to cut down on unnecessary expenditures. Instead of removing significant items from your family budget, simply cut down on spending in several areas to achieve the same result. Here are seven unexpected things that Americans spend too much money on.

Home Appliances


People have a habit of buying the most expensive thing they see at the store, or the newest model. This often means that they pay over the odds, when a significantly less expensive version of the product would perform the same function. Toasters, fridges, blenders, food processors, juicers and grills are examples of such items.

Clothes


While it can be tempting to buy clothes that have just come out at the best stores, they will cost a fortune. It is better to wait until items are on sale, buy everything you need, and repeat the process six months later. This will allow you to buy great clothes for yourself and your family at a fraction of their original price. You can also consider shopping at outlets for discounted prices on quality clothing that won't wear as as quickly.

Food Outside of the Home


Americans spend a great deal of money on food away from home on a yearly basis. It was estimated that the average household spent $2,500 a year on food outside of the house in 2009. While there is nothing wrong with eating out, proper food budgeting can save a lot of money. Families should decide how many times they will go out to eat each month and stick to that number. Eating out at work on the weekends can quickly add up. 

DIY Car Repairs


Being handy is usually a matter of pride for most people. However, patchy repairs and incomplete DIY car jobs often cost more money than hiring a professional. Replacing or fixing a transmission, for example, should be left to the experts, say the professionals at Minit-Tune International Corp. It's important to know what you can handle yourself, and when to take it to a mechanic to save on extra parts on repairs.

Credit Card Interest


A recent study showed that an American household owes $15,000 in credit card debt on average. This means that most Americans are paying huge amounts to credit card companies in monthly interest. To avoid this expenditure, it is best to pay off each credit card transaction within 30 days. Don't overspend and make payments on time to avoid extra fees. 

Expedited Shipping


A surge of online retailers, such as Amazon, means that many Americans buy their supplies through the internet. Buying online can often lead to savings on most items, but it also results in unnecessary spending on expedited shipping. There is nothing wrong with ordering one or two day shipping if you need an item urgently, but most people only do it so that they do not have to wait an extra few days. People surprisingly waste a lot of money with this type of shipping, especially around the holidays and birthdays. 

Gift Cards


Remarkably, it is reported that around $40 billion in gift cards was unspent from 2005 to 2012. With Americans spending a lot of money on electronics, home appliances, clothes and gifts, it is staggering to think that so many potential savings are being thrown away.

If you analyze your family's yearly budget, you will probably find that you are overspending on a few of these categories. By making incremental cuts to spending, you can lower your spending and still enjoy a similar standard of living.

Friday, July 25, 2014

5 Ways to Drive More and Spend Less

If the phrases “I have to get gas” or “the car is making that funny noise again” make you and your wallet cringe, it’s time to look for ways to increase your car’s efficiency. There are two components that determine your efficiency—what you drive, and how you drive it. Find out what you can do in both categories to help you save money on gas and repairs.

What you Drive


If you drive a 1987 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe pickup truck with a V8 engine, you are going to be guzzling gas and fixing oil leaks regularly no matter how gently you drive it. Here are some things you can do with your current car to make it more efficient.

#1: Get rid of your gas-guzzling junk car.

Sometimes the best way to save money on driving is to simply get a more fuel-efficient car. You will not only save money on gas, but also on maintenance. The older a car is, the more often you have to take it into the shop for tune-ups and repairs. If you are looking to sell your junk car, get quotes from different businesses that buy junk cars. Or, if there are parts of your car that are salvageable, you can part them out individually. Put the money you get from your junk car toward buying a more reliable, efficient vehicle.

#2: Keep up On Routine Maintenance.

Spending a little money on routine maintenance and checkups can save you a lot of money in the long run. Here are some parts or services that need regular attention.

Tire rotation. If you don’t rotate your tires according to the tire manufacturer’s recommendations, you will wear the tires down unevenly and shorten their lifespan. You can usually get a free tire rotation if you take your car to the place that sold you the tires.

Alignment check. If your tires are not aligned properly, the tread will wear down much faster than usual. Keep your alignment in check to preserve the life of your tires.

Engine/Transmission services. Engine and transmission services are like cancer—early detection is key. The earlier you catch a problem, the cheaper it will be to repair. Even non-critical issues can negatively impact gas mileage by keeping your car from running as efficiently as it was designed to. Regular services will help detect any problems that arise.

Oil changes. Regular oil changes cost between $20 and $80 (depending on your car), but they keep your engine running in good repair. An oil change every year or so is a lot cheaper than a new engine—or a new vehicle.

How you Drive It


Even if you have the latest fuel-efficient Mazda 3, you won’t be saving much money on gas or maintenance if you drive it like a racecar. Here are some ways you can keep car maintenance costs low simply by changing how you drive:

#3: Take your time with accelerating and braking.

Going from 0 to 60 mph in 30 seconds is thrilling, but it takes a toll on your gas mileage and transmission. Accelerate slowly to save gas and preserve the life of your transmission.

Braking suddenly puts unnecessary pressure on your brakes, which can wear out your car’s brake pads. If you start braking sooner, you can take more time to slow the car down when approaching a red light. In addition to saving your brake pads, braking sooner and approaching lights more slowly may reduce the time you spend completely stopped on the road, which will also increase your gas mileage.

#4: Don’t leave your car running.

Some people think that it saves more fuel to idle a car for a short amount of time than it does to start a car. This is false. Every 10 minutes of idling uses up between 1/10 and 4/10 of a liter of fuel. The wear and tear that frequently stopping and starting your car is offset by the money you save on gas when you choose not to idle.

#5: Slow it down.

Fuel economy peaks at about 40-50 mph, and then decreases roughly 1 mpg per 1 mph you go over that. If you have a lead foot, try using cruise control. Not only will it keep you from accidentally speeding, it will also keep your car at a consistent speed, which increases fuel efficiency.

Saving money on car maintenance and fuel economy is as simple as keeping your car in good condition and watching the way you drive. If you follow these tips, you’ll be surprised at how much you save on gas and repair bills.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Great Ways to Keep Your Finances Organized

Whether you are dealing with constant harassment from creditors, or you just need a better system for organizing your finances, you have options. Getting on top of your finances is not easy, but it can help you eliminate and prevent debt, spend and save wisely, and feel more fiscally secure.

Before you begin organizing, do a little cleanup. Consider closing any bank accounts or lines of credit that you don’t use. Having too many open accounts makes it difficult to get a clear picture of what you are spending each month.

Then go through the financial paperwork you currently have, including tax documents, outstanding bills, and receipts. Come up with a system of organization—set aside a space for paid bills, W2s, unpaid bills, credit reports, and any other specific documents you frequently receive. Start with some file folders, a file box, or letter sorter, and build from there. This may take you some time, depending on how disorganized your paperwork is, but keep at it! Having a reliable, functional system is well worth the effort.

Once you’ve created the foundation of your system, use one of these three financial services (or a combination of the three) to keep your money well-managed.

One: Budgeting


Budget structures come in all shapes and sizes and you may need to experiment for a few months to find one that fills your needs. Here are some starting places:

  • Begin collecting receipts. Put an envelope in your glove box for gas expenses and two envelopes in your wallet: one for necessities like groceries and toiletries, and one for entertainment, fast food, and other non-essentials. Write down your totals on the front of the envelopes for quick reference. After a few months, sit down and figure out your average expenses in each category.
  • Record your transactions. Invest in a pocket debit and credit register. Make a habit of writing down every transaction (including the balance in your account afterword). This is particularly helpful if you frequently overdraft your accounts or have a hard time remembering what your balance is.
  • Generate a personalized budget. Make a list of your monthly or weekly expenses (or start with an online worksheet) and set a maximum budget for each category. You can make this your starting point, or use the average amounts from your expense envelopes to figure out how much you should allot for each expenditure.

Two: Tracking Software


If you are working with multiple bank accounts and lines of credit, you may benefit from investing in a collective tracking program. Software packages like Quicken have tutorials if you don’t consider yourself particularly tech-savvy.

Web-based programs, like Mint.com, have a dashboard feature which allows you to see the balance of each of your accounts in one place, including:

  • each of your checking accounts.
  • each of your savings accounts.
  • your retirement fund.
  • your outstanding loans (such as student loans).

Even better, almost every Mint.com feature is free. This big picture view can help you track your spending and saving, avoid unnecessary debt, and better understand your overall finances. 

Three: Debt Counseling


After budgeting or using tracking software for some time, you come to the realization that you don’t know how to eliminate your outstanding debts. At this point, you may benefit from consulting with a financial management firm like Paddon & Yorke, even if you’re nowhere near bankruptcy. From Toronto to Texas, there are people struggling with debt.

Many people hear “debt counseling” and assume the phrase refers to a last-ditch effort for individuals struggling with the prospect of bankruptcy or foreclosure. Debt counseling is required in bankruptcy proceedings, but it can help you well before your situation gets so dire. Most management firms offer free or low-priced initial consultations in person, over the phone, and online. These sessions usually take less than an hour, during which a debt management professional can help you work out a budget (if you’re still having trouble), develop a strategy for combating your current debt, decide what, if any, other steps you should take.

Don’t wait to begin organizing your finances. So much of your life depends on your money being managed well—from the roof over your head to the transportation between work and home each day. It may take some time to feel like you’re in control, but don’t give up. Living debt and worry-free is well worth the effort.
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