Saturday, February 28, 2015

Seven Steps For Creating A Budget That Works For You

Money management is an important skill to have at any age. Creating a budget is the central discipline of financial stability and freedom. Often times, many people fall into serious debt without even realizing it because they don't have a budget to follow. Making a budget doesn't have to be a tedious process, however. Here are seven steps for creating a budget that works for you.

Monthly Expenses

Make a detailed list of needs versus wants in your daily life. You will likely be cutting back on some of the wants, and you should be honest about things that you do not need so that budget cuts can be made. Take a look at your expenses from the past six months and find out how much of your money is really going to needs. Of course, there can be some money budgeted for wants, but it's important to know how much. 

Get Rid Of Extras

As you create your lists, you will likely come across duplicitous items. Choose the most effective option for your budget and prepare to cut the other one completely out of your life. Making everything as simple as possible will help you an effective budget you can stick to. 

Learn To Make Lists

One of the main reasons that people are not able to stay on a budget is impulse buying. However, if you make lists before you go to the grocery store and places similar to that, you will be much less likely to spend your spare pennies on useless items. This includes making a list for other things like clothes shopping. Be sure to not overbuy, and maybe even include a price max for lists like these. 

Consider Other Responsibilities

If you have people that depend on you, they will obviously take up some percentage of your budget. Make sure that you keep them in mind when you are making your budget so that you do not incur the much more serious cost of losing friends and family.

Remember Taxes

The breakdown of many a budget is the fact that many people do not calculate taxes when they are making them. Consider your tax bracket, and make sure that you place all of the proper calculations in your budget. No one likes paying taxes, but this is not a reason to try to make them disappear as you move towards financial freedom.

Create A Savings Plan And Emergency Fund

Although you may be planning for a budget that you will hope to stick to, life does not happen on your schedule. Many people use unexpected emergencies as a reason to completely destroy any discipline that they had on a budget. Having an emergency fund will keep you from acting on this temptation. Anything from a job loss to medical expenses or car accidents can quickly put anyone into debt. You should have at least three to six months worth of income save for an emergency fund. This will help if keep stress levels down and allow you to make payments if you suddenly loose income or have huge expenses to pay. 

Put Your Budget Into Action

After you have done all of the planning, it is time to begin building the discipline that will create the budget that you can live with. It's important to remain flexible, though. If you find that something isn'y working, be sure to make changes as needed to keep your budget realistic.

Staying on a budget can be difficult for anyone. However, it is definitely a good idea for anyone who is looking to explore true freedom later in life. Follow the steps above for the budget that will work for you. If you don't know where to start with your finances or are recovering from bad credit, seek the help of financial experts to get back on track again. Informational credit to Keith G. Collins Ltd.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tips for Making Safe Retirement Investments

Many who are creating a retirement plan or re-positioning their portfolio have heard stories about people who have made risky investment decisions and who have been forced to work many years after they reached retirement age. Some may have been hit hard by a market downturn and may have not been properly diversified, and others may have made truly risky investment decisions. If you are preparing for retirement, you understandably want to find the perfect balance between a great return on your investments and minimizing risk. There are a few options to consider as you prepare for retirement.

Bonds and CDs

The safest investments are those that have minimal or no risk, and these include CDs and bonds. Provided you can keep your money in these investment vehicles for the designed term, you can expect a moderate and known return. However, it is important to note that these have a very low yield in comparison with other investment vehicles. If you are trying to maximize your yield to protect the value of your portfolio against the effects of inflation, you may need to mix bonds and CDs with other types of investments. A stocks and bonds mix, as described below, is the most common investment hybrid retirees turn to when bonds are involved. 

Life Insurance Annuities

There are several different types of annuities available for you to consider, and these generally provide you with a guaranteed stream of income for the term of the annuity. Some annuities can be purchased with guaranteed payments until your death, and this can give you the peace of mind that you may be looking for in your retirement years. While the benefit with an annuity is a steady stream of income, you do lose control over your lump sum investment of capital. This investment strategy may ensure your continued returns, in the form of a fixed lifetime income, but it does come with some steep fees. Insurance contracts are notoriously complex and difficult to understand, and in combination with the high investment management fees, are certainly not right for every investor. 

A Mix of Stocks and Bonds

If you want to take a more hands-on approach with your retirement efforts, you can consider creating a portfolio that has a balanced combination of stocks and bonds. The stocks can provide a hedge against inflation as well as growth from dividends. The bonds can decrease the overall risk of your portfolio for stabilization. If you’re worried about market panic or suddenly running out of money during retirement, this option may be the best way to ensure your own peace of mind in the years to come. The exact allocation will be dependent on your general tolerance for risk. Make sure your financial advisor can be trusted to make the right decisions for you and your investments if you decide to invest in both stocks and bonds. 

A Completely Diversified Portfolio

Another option to consider is a completely diversified portfolio. For example, rather than invest all of your money into a life insurance annuity, you may purchase a smaller annuity coupled with an allocation of stocks, bonds and growth stocks. While there is some risk associated with including stocks in a portfolio in retirement, it can provide you with a hedge against inflation and a potentially higher yield.

You may consider the amount of capital you have available for investments, your need for growth and your tolerance for risk when preparing your retirement plan. A Sunshine Retirement senior lifestyle activities advisor recommends taking into consideration any lifestyle changes you expect to experience upon retirement when deciding how to invest. Because these factors can vary for each investor, there is not a catch-all solution that is suitable for all needs.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Five Tips for Fighting an Unfair Hospital Bill

If you are faced with an overwhelming hospital bill, it can feel like the world is crashing down upon you. It is not uncommon for people without (and sometimes even with) health insurance to be beset by hospital bills in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get out from under this mountain of hospital debt. Here is a look at five tips for fighting an unfair hospital bill.


Hospitals do not all charge the same rates, and the ones that overcharge have a lot of room to lower your unfair hospital bill and still make a profit. If you feel like your bill is too high, talk with the hospital’s accounting department to get it lowered.

Review the Bill Thoroughly

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for hospitals to make mistakes on the bills they send customers. The sad thing is that most of these mistakes tend to be in benefit of the hospital rather than the patient. To prevent yourself from falling victim to these mistakes, you need to go over every bill you receive from the hospital with a fine tooth comb. Double and triple check the bills to make sure you are not being overcharged, or charged for services you did not receive.

Appeal the Insurer’s Decision

You may sometimes come across a portion of your bill that you are being charged for that you feel should be covered by your health insurance. If this is the case, do not hesitate to contact your insurer to appeal the decision. This will not always work, but it can be a way to remove some of the charges from your bill if there happens to be a mistake or miscalculation.

Get Help from Professionals

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your large hospital bill, you can seek professional help to get it lowered. Professional patient advocates can help people who are facing unfair hospital bills to get them lowered to a more reasonable amount. This kind of help often comes in handy when you are still dealing with an illness or recovering from a surgery. If you don’t have the strength or ability to fight the unfair bill on your own, an advocate can step in and do a lot of the leg work for you. 

Ask for Financial Assistance from the Hospital

Many hospitals are willing to provide patients who are struggling financially with help. However, you may have to apply for Medicare first and get denied before the hospital will give it to you. It is well worth this to get financial help from the hospital to lower your bill—especially if the amount is overwhelmingly high.

An unfair hospital bill may feel insurmountable, but there is always a way to handle it. According to the personal injury lawyers in Halifax at the Cantini Law Group, you won’t always win the battle when fighting an unfair hospital bill, but it is always worth it to ask. Try a few tactics to see if the hospital is willing to work with you, and then seek professional help. If these methods don’t work, you might need to reach out to another financial institution to get the bill paid in a timely and manageable manner.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How to Save and Earn Extra Money this Spring

The spring season is quickly approaching, making it an ideal time to make extra money and find ways of supplementing your income. With a few creative ideas and a bit of hard work, it's possible to save for a summer trip or extra expenses. To earn extra money, there are a few ways of spending more time outdoors and offering your skills to those in the community.

Rent Out a Room

You can lease out a room in your home to earn extra cash during the season. Write out a contract with a specific timeframe that will detail how long the tenant will occupy the property for an easy way of making money this spring simply by offering up extra space in your home. It also might be a good idea to have your contract notarized to help prevent any potential legal problems later.

Sell DVDs Online

Many people have dozens of DVDs that are no longer used in their home, but are still worth plenty of money. Instead of allowing the movies to collect dust, sell each DVD online on a website like Selling our DVDs online is an easy way to clean out your home and earn some extra cash.

Do Good Yard Work

One of the best ways to earn some extra money this spring is to help your neighbors with their yard work. Everyone wants their yard to look good, but many of them don’t like doing it. Start with your yard. Clear out all the dead leaves and twigs that might be there after a long winter. Re-mulch your flower beds and trim your trees. Remove any dead plants or flowers from last year. 

Do whatever it takes to make your yard look the best in your neighborhood then take pictures. Go around door-to-door to your neighbors and offer your services to help them with their yard work. Show them the photos of your yard in order to sell the idea of them hiring you to do their work for them. The more that will hire you, the more likely you will end up with some extra cash this spring. Some may even become repeat customers for summer maintenance or to help them again next year.

Become a Dog Walker

With the spring season causing temperatures to rise, more pets can now spend time outdoors and get exercise after hibernating indoors after a long winter. You can make extra money by become a dog walker in the neighborhood with prices that are based on the duration of each walk. Advertise your services by posting flyers throughout the local area and going door to door to households that own dogs. You can also offer dog training or dog washing services for more ways of caring for local pets in the community.

Clean Out Your Closet

From winter coats to miniskirts, there are often a number of clothing items that most people own but no longer use in their closets. Sell your unused clothes and accessories to secondhand stores for an easy way of earning a buck or two on outdated items that are no longer in style. You can put the cash toward other items in the store or even use it to buy new clothing to update your wardrobe.

With a bit of spring cleaning in your home and services that you can provide to your community, it's possible to earn a bit of side money by getting creative this season. It will not only allow you to save for a summer vacation or seasonal decor for the home, but will make for a productive way of staying busy. 

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