Showing posts with label Financial Planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Financial Planning. Show all posts

Sunday, July 2, 2017

4 Strategies For Planning Your Family Finances This Summer



Summertime brings new challenges to stretching your family's budget. Expenses like buying groceries, paying for air conditioning costs, and saving cash to take a vacation can take a negative toll on your household's bottom line. 

Rather than barely get by, you can enjoy your summer break by using these four smart and simple strategies to plan your family's finances.


Cut The Cord


Cable TV subscriptions continue to become more expensive. Many families find themselves paying $100 or more each month for a bunch of channels that they do not watch.

Instead of shelling out big bucks for cable, you can safeguard your family's budget by cutting the proverbial cord. Cutting the cord has become an agenda embraced by many households that want to plan their finances better and save big money.

A recent study published by CNBC showed that 52 percent of respondents said that they canceled their cable TV services in favor of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. 




By subscribing to online TV and movie streaming services rather than cable TV, you can keep cash in your budget and have more money with which to support your family this summer.


Take Advantage Of Travel And Vacation Specials


Your summertime vacation does not have to break your budget. When you have a limited amount of money to work with, you can still plan a trip that you and your family will enjoy by taking advantage of travel and vacation specials.


Oftentimes attractions near hotels will offer special or birthday party packages, like these kids birthday parties in Las Vegas.

Shop Discount And Dollar Stores


Dollar and discount stores are becoming more popular with American families. These stores have long shed their dubious reputations and have now stepped into mainstream awareness where they compete with big name retailers like Walmart and Target.

Dollar and discount shops offer clothing, groceries, and a wide array of household products for rock bottom prices. The quality of the inventory is on par with what you would find at department and big box stores. 

Some of these shops also take manufacturers' coupons, allowing you to get name brand necessities like laundry soap, shampoo, bread, and a host of other everyday items for pennies.

When you struggle to stretch your grocery dollars during the summertime, you may head to your local discount and dollar stores to check out their selections. You may find that you can get double the groceries for half the cost by shopping these stores instead of big name retailers.

Be Energy Efficient


Finally, you can lower your cooling costs and keep your home comfortable during the hottest of weather this season by using some common sense energy efficiency strategies. 

Simple measures like running your washer and dryer after the sun sets or keeping your window blinds and curtains closed can go a long way toward trimming dollars off your utility bills.

Likewise, you can keep the temperature on your AC steady by using an oscillating fan to circulate air in your home. These basic tips help you keep your house cool and your bills lower during a season in which many families struggle to pay their utility costs.

Summertime can be a season of increased expenses for which you might find yourself unprepared. Rather than run out of money before you get paid each week or month, you can better plan your family's finances with these four simple strategies. 

These tips help you enjoy your summer without the money worries you may normally experience each year.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Financial Planning: 4 Reasons Why It Is a Good Idea



We know we need to save, but saving is not enough to really survive in today's economy. Having savings brings no return. 

You need to not only know how to save, but how to use your savings properly and spend well. Savings are important, but so is financial planning. Among the many reasons financial planning is a good idea are:


Security


Security is found in knowing that there is something there when you need it. Security lessens stress, and less stress means less risk of heart-related diseases. You want to make sure that you have security in knowing that if you were to have a financial emergency you would be prepared.



Stability


Stability is found in building assets that grow. This includes a home, rental property, a 401(k), and passive income from bonds or dividends. This can allow you to grow a lot financially in many ways other than through savings.


Wealth


Wealth is grown over time by having a stable asset base to provide a secure income. You want to make sure that you start planning well financially now so that you can build up your income and have more secure and stable finances in the future.


Access to funds


By seeing increase in all of these other areas you can also see increased access to funds, be it from a fast lender like Payday Express, or a different bank such as Capital One. Increased access to funds is essential to being able to stay on top of your money and stay financially secure.

Beyond these reasons there are two areas of financial planning we want to touch on. One is when to start planning; the other how to do it properly.


When to Begin Financial Planning


The truth is that you have already begun planning financially. It begins each time you get a paycheck and decide what to do with it. 



If you're in line for the latest iPhone, then you've financially planned to spend that money, and the monthly charges. Since you have already been doing this the question is how to do it in a fashion that will help you make some serious money.


How to Plan for the Future


Have you ever heard the phrase pay yourself first? This is the process where you plan for retirement by having money taken directly from your check so that you never miss it. You can do this with $25 per month or $2,500. 

The key is to set aside an amount of cash that you can reasonably part with, and then you watch it grow. For more info on how much you can make if you started today you can use a savings calculator. 

By plugging in the numbers you'll see that by saving just $100 per month over 30 years at 8% interest your $36,000 contribution will more than quadruple to $149,000!

There are many good reasons to do financial planning. The key is to recognize you're already doing it, and then to make the choice to pay yourself first. 

After that be sure to set money aside for savings and properly plan out how to spend your paycheck. It really is amazing how much of a difference a little planning can make.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

5 Ways to Prepare Financially for Retirement



Everyone dreams of the day they’ll get retired, but romantic projection we have of retirement is often completely different from the harsh reality that often involves financial difficulties, loneliness and decrease in overall health.

The pension is usually much lower than our pay, which often makes new pensioners rethink about their spending habits and lifestyle. 


Still, retirement doesn’t have to be burdened by financial difficulties if the right financial strategy is applied even before the golden age takes place.


1. Don’t Rely Only on Savings


The fact is that nowadays people live longer than they did 50 years ago and often savings aren’t enough to live the lifestyle we are used to. 


So, before retiring make a financial plan that will make you money, even when the paycheck is gone. It can be investing in binary options, stocks, forex markets, or unsheltered savings.

It is always good to ask your accountant what are the possibilities or rely on a financial advisor who will make you a proper investing plan for the retirement.


2. Know Your Expenses


It is important to understand where all that money you make is going and to adjust your expenses to your possibilities while taking your future into consideration. 

Some researchers say that most people need 70-90% of their previous income to keep up with the lifestyle they had before the retirement, so it is important to rethink your priorities and needs before the first pension comes. 

Always have a real picture of your cost/income ratio.


3. Think Smaller


In our 30’s and 40’s we like to dream big, and we need big things, but once the children are on their own, all big things become a burden as they cost a significant amount of money. 

Try to cut costs before retirement by downsizing your home and getting rid of all unnecessary services. 

Find a cheaper mobile plan, get rid of expensive TV programs or TV on demand, and don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal or take your business elsewhere.


4. Reduce Your Debt


It is much easier to reduce your debt while still working than in retirement. People who efficiently handle their debts can enjoy their retirement care free. 

Besides getting rid of a credit card, student loans, and other types of debt, it is always good to check interest rates and fees charged by your bank. 


They may seem small, but they accumulate over time and can truly make a difference.

5. Review Your Will


Many things change over time and having an updated will gives you insurance that your estate will be distributed as you intended it. 

Periodical reviews of your will, will provide you the much more peaceful state of mind and will help your family in case of emergency. 

Also, sometimes thinking about future in that specific way, puts all things, including finances in a whole new way.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Proper Financial Planning in Your 40s Will Guarantee a Comfortable Retirement



When you enter your 40s, you will be able to see how well you have done so far. This is the key decade for every worker, since at this age you reach your physical maximum and you already have some life wisdom. 

Even if you have not managed to make any substantial savings before, entering your 40s is a great moment to start taking care of your finances

Remove all the debts


Some debts that you have are justified, due to objective living conditions. You need to buy clothes, eat and pay your bills; and that's just for starters. Also, most people already have kids at the age of 40, so they have some debts on that account, too. 

But since your 40s are the best decade for a new financial beginning, it is important to get rid of the debts. First you have put them on a sheet of paper. Also, write the due dates for your installments or credit card payments. Start with the lowest debts or with the ones that have the highest interest rate. 


If it seems difficult to sacrifice so many joys to pay off your debts, you will see what it means to hit your 50s with a sack full of debts. 

In the 40s you are still strong enough and able to work side jobs to pay your debts. See how middle-aged people decide to make a career shifts in a piece published by USA Today. 
Such a move can also help you eliminate your debts and find a more satisfying job, as well.

Saving for college tuition


Every parent wants to help their children as much as possible, which is why many people start saving for their children's college tuition immediately after their kids are born. 

Even small amounts put aside on a monthly basis can help a lot when your kid goes to college. However, you should not give them the money you have saved for your own retirement program. 

So, if your child is going to college soon, it would be wise to talk to a financial adviser to see where you can reduce your expenditure and help them during their first year at college, say seasoned accountants from Sydney, CBD

Also, consider a state-owned college over a private school if you do not have enough assets and make an inquiry on federal college grants, too.

Ensure future through insurance


It is hard to expect from people in their 30s to save for their children's college, pay all their overhead bills, travel and then also pay their life insurance. 

But if you ignored life insurance during your 30s, now is the time to think about the future. First of all, this is the stage of life when you might actually need to have life insurance, as well as improve health insurance. 

Your health might deteriorate and hospital treatments can be extremely expensive if you do not have proper insurance. 



Moreover, even if your health and life insurance policies are acceptable, consider paying additional contributions that will cover a wider range of injuries and diseases. You can never tell what menace lurks behind the corner. 

Leaving yourself and your family without insurance is something no 40-year-old adult should do.

When you are in your 40s, you still have a bright future before you, but it should be treated with special care. If you manage to put your finances under control in this period of life, your 50s and 60s will be relaxed decades without too much stress. 
Therefore, to ensure a happy retirement, increase your insurance policies and eliminate all your debts in a timely manner.

Friday, February 12, 2016

5 Financial Endeavors That Will Benefit Your Family


Raising a family can be challenging both emotionally and financially. Being responsible and proactive with your earnings will pay off in the long run. Consider using these five strategies to make the most of your money and prepare for the future.

Track Your Bills at all Times


In order to fully understand where your money goes every month, create an organized list of your monthly bills. Separate your bills into different categories, such as loans, utilities, medical, and food. Review your bills to determine if there are any monthly charges that are not useful to your family. 

Many people have subscriptions to magazines, gyms, and other types of entertainment that they do not use regularly and could cancel to save money. Additionally, research the price you pay for services to determine if you have the best rates available.

Create a Budget


After reviewing your bills, determine how much you can comfortably spend on each expense, while still staving money. Some expenses may be difficult to change, but others like entertainment and food are often overlooked as a large source of spending. 

These bills can easily be scaled back with planning meals ahead and becoming creative with inexpensive family outings. 




Understand Your Resources


Life can be unpredictable and present many challenges. Review the benefits that your employer offers, as well as any community programs that you may qualify for in the event of an emergency. 

If you become injured and are unable to work, you may need to discuss your rights with a social security disability lawyer to ensure you receive assistance if you qualify for social security disability benefits. You should also become familiar with retirement plans your employer offers to maximize the contributions made to your account. 

 Professionals, like those at http://workinjuryaz.com/phoenix-social-security-disability-attorneys/, will give you an honest opinion about being approved for benefits. This is an important step when it comes to receiving social security.

Purchase a Life Insurance Policy


It’s never too soon to financially protect your loved ones. Even if you can’t afford a large policy, invest in a basic policy that will at least cover funeral expenses and ideally your bills for one year. 

Set Goals Together


All families have dreams for the future, such as taking a vacation or remodeling their home. In order to reach these goals, be realistic with how much you can spend and create a monthly savings plan. 

Having regular discussions about the financial goals your family has can keep you on track and motivated to reach those goals.

When you understand your personal finances and have created an efficient plan to save money, you and your family will experience reduced stress and the benefits of a larger savings account.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Right Mindset When Planning for the Future as a Single Woman

Being single is an option in life and it’s completely up to the person if she wishes to take that path or not. There’s actually completely nothing wrong with being by yourself. People live by their preferences and nobody has the right to judge. 

However, as women have grown more independent each day, the topic about being and staying single have gotten sensitive lately. People can deal with being alone, but it’s always a bit tough to cope with having no one there to run to in times of trouble. 



There’s also that haunting thought of who will take care of them once their youth runs out. No one can certainly work forever and being incapable for whatever ‘tomorrow’ may bring can be scary.



If you somehow end up thinking that being single can be disadvantageous in your financial standing and security in the future, things might actually turn out that way. But if you’re attentive to the opportunities present today, you’ll be surprised at the things the modern world can offer to your advantage. 

To get started with securing your future as a single woman, you can do these two simple things: 

Be optimistic and be on the lookout for opportunities


The least you can do is be happy for yourself. Independence is a strong trait. A trait that some people thought they have but didn’t actually possess. Don’t focus too much on the happily married female population. 

Unlike them, you are working for and relying solely on yourself. Your responsibilities and priorities only revolve around you. It might sound selfish, but that’s the real deal.

Now, the smartest thing for you to do is to be fully aware of this freedom. This will give you the opportunity to put yourself first, to save more money, to invest in financial vehicles suited to your risk tolerance and specific needs in life, and to simply live within your means. 

Travel to places you’ve never been to if you can find the luxury and the time, after all, you basically don’t need anyone’s permission to do so. 

Be realistic and seek help from professionals


Unfortunately, the fun and the happiness will not last for long if you don’t prepare for troubled times. As you grow older, you’ll be weighed down by far more important things like where you’ll end up after your retirement and how to cope with illnesses that comes with age. 

So as soon as you can, starting today in fact, make the most of your money and let it work for you.

There are companies out there ready to provide you with pension and investment services that allow you to achieve a more stable future. But don’t jump immediately at the first company offering you a product. 



Educate yourself first about the importance of investments and which pension schemes are more beneficial. This way, you will be making informed decisions. For assistance, get in touch with a company that will provide you with pension help and advice in the UK. With their knowledge and years of experience, they can provide you the support most suitable for your working and living condition.

All in all, entering your golden years as a single woman need not be scary as long as you exercise the right mindset and properly plan your finances as early as today.


Friday, October 17, 2014

How To Stay Calm And Make A Plan During An Unexpected Financial Crisis

No matter how good you are at setting up your finances, a crisis could come along and make life difficult for a while. During those times, it's important to keep calm and have a plan. While dealing with difficult financial situations can be stressful, it is possible to overcome them quickly and stay out of debt. These six tips will help you develop a plan to help you deal with your money troubles: 

Set Small Goals


When you're dealing with complicated financial issues, it's easy to get caught up in try to get through it all. However, small, attainable goals are the way to stay on track when things get overwhelming. Set daily savings goals and weekly objectives that will get you to where you want to go. Some ideas including using coupons, stop eating out and putting more in your savings account. Your long-term goal can quickly become overwhelming if you don't have small milestones you can check off the list along the way. 


Cut Daily Costs


In financial matters, every little bit counts. Look for for ways to cut a dollar or two out of your expenses each day. Meals, vehicles, and utilities are great places to look for unnecessary expenses that can be trimmed. Make it a point to write down a list of items you need when you go to the store and don't get one thing that's not listed. Many people overspend simply because they buy things they think they need or use, but don't.


Pay Off Small Debts First


Normally, it's a good idea to pay off your highest interest debt first. However, since you don't see a monthly benefit to paying off debt until the balance is gone, start with the smallest balances instead. That way, the extra money you save each month will help you weather your current financial storm.


Speak With The Experts


If money is tight, the last thing you want to do is spend more of it on financial advice. That said, experts will be able to plan an individualized path and a budget to get you through your current issues. The upfront cost is well worth it in terms of strategic planning and peace of mind. Financial experts can advise you on the best solutions to your financial issues, like credit card debt, bankruptcy and more strict budgets. 

Sell Unnecessary Items


A financial crisis is a great opportunity to simplify your life. There are likely a number of valuable objects in your home that you no longer need. Consider selling jewelry, televisions, and even second vehicles if they aren't truly necessary. You can do this at a garage sale, or through your local classifieds online. For items that are worth more, don't be afraid to wait for a better offer. Getting your money's worth on a car is often more important than selling it quickly to a first bidder. 

Ask Family For Support


No one likes to ask their extended family for a loan. Your family and friends are probably worried about you though, and are a great resource when financial times are difficult. Just remember--if you feel uneasy about asking them for help, just be sure to help them when the situation is reversed. You don't always have to ask for money to get support though. Consider staying with relatives for a short while if you can't afford rent, or let them provide more dinners for your family.

A financial crisis is a difficult, frightening event that no one wants to experience. While it can be scary, these tips can help you overcome your financial issues and get back to normal life in no time.

Informational credit to Paddon & Yorke Inc.

Saturday, July 19, 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.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Don't Sell: 7 Items that Will Cost You More Money in the Long Run If You Sell

When in a financial crunch, you may be tempted to sell many of your belongings to come up with some quick cash. While you can make some decent money doing this, it is not always a good idea. Selling certain items may end up costing you more in the long run, like these examples:

Heirlooms


While it is true that possessions aren't everything, they’re still important. Don’t sell your family heirlooms. You want to have something you can pass on to your children to continue your family’s legacy. Chances are, the you will be selling your family heirloom for much less than you think it is worth. Consider selling other items items instead like collectibles that don't have a special meaning to your family, but could to someone else. 

Furniture


Old furniture is unlikely to sell for much. However, it's hard to justify living without a bed or table, and replacing furniture can be very expensive. If you need some space, consider renting a storage unit to hold that furniture until you have room for it again. You can find storage units of all sizes and prices to meet your needs and save you money in the long run, says the professionals at The Self Storage Space.

Old Currency


You may have some old coins or bills in your possession. If this is the case, don’t sell this old currency immediately. Hold onto it until you can get a legitimate collector to examine it. Never sell collectible currency for face value, since it could be worth much more.

DVD Collection


While it may be tempting to get rid of your film collection on DVD and Blu-ray, you will only receive an incredibly tiny fraction of what you originally paid. Better yet, watching movies you have already invested in is far cheaper than going to the theater. If you want to make a better profit, consider selling your old electronics. Even outdated and broken electronics are valuable to many people who plan to use parts or fix it up.

Your Car


While it may seem like you can make a lot of money from selling your car, it is a risky move. Cars depreciate in value quickly, and purchasing a new car is an expense you probably don’t want. Even though you can buy used cars in the future, you will never know if it has hidden problems that could be expensive to fix. Spending the money to take care of your current car to keep it running for a long time will save a lot more in the end. 

Stocks


Never sell stocks simply because you need quick cash. Only sell them when the market is up and you’ll make a return on your investment. Selling stocks at a loss misses the point of investing in them in the first place.

Your House


Moving out of a house and into an apartment is something many people do. However, this can be a bad decision in the long term. While a mortgage is expensive for the short term, it is certainly a lot less expensive and stressful than paying rent for the rest of your life. Only sell when you are ready to move and feel like you can make a profit, not because you want your monthly bills to change.

Looking for ways to earn some extra cash can be difficult. However, be careful about what you sell. You may end up losing more than you bargained for. Look for easily replaceable items to sell first. Having a garage sale for things like clothing, books, toys, baby and pet items, games and old jewelry are a great way to earn a little extra cash without having to spend a lot to replace them. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Personal Finance Tips: Financial Freedom for you at Any Age

Financially free can sound like an idea that most single women would love to adore. An average American spends more than he earns and gets trapped into financial problems. But becoming financially independent is not a big deal. Keep reading and may be you will find a way to become financially independent. 


Steps that lead to financial freedom


Your first step should be to make a budget irrespective of your income. This will help you to know your exact position where you stand financially in terms of your debts, requirements, needs, desires, income and all. Imagine your budget to be a road and finance your destination . Without a proper road map you would not reach your destination and end up wasting time and fuel; same is the case with your finance. Why would you work so hard if you do not how to manage four financial condition and what you should do with your hard earned money. Budgeting will help you to figure out your priority.


Savings and staying away from loans


You should start saving early. If you save every month it will improve your financial condition. It gives a back up for our tough times and also help us to follow a disciplined way of spending the money. Saving money secures your future. Saving will help you trust your own funds rather than trusting on some credit card services at the time of emergencies. You should save enough for any kind of emergency that may pop up. Once you have saved enough of emergency fund, start planning your retirement funds. It is never too late or too early to plan your future. If you keep waiting for better times to come like better jobs and all then there are chances that you might never begin.


Take care of your debts


To get financially free the debt need to be calculated and moreover eradicated so that you could start saving for future you should begin by paying the smallest debt and once that debt is over than you should pay the next smallest and slowly and steadily you should pay off all the debts. If you get any kind of raise in your salary you should devote it to cover your debt instead of spending it. The little things contribute to the most when it comes to saving money. If you spend $5 extra everyday then this could sum up to $150 in one whole month. But if you save this amount then this could contribute to your savings a lot and effect them. This may be difficult especially for single women but controlling the finance is all about behavior if you change some of your habits then this could result in a large and positive impact on your savings and finances.

Taking to some of the simple steps can give you results which you might have never expected. When you are young and have just begun earning, there are two paths in front of you. Either you start spending into acquiring all the luxuries of life or you start on calculated spending, and go on a planned savings wherein you always divert a portion of your income towards investments. 

The latter is a difficult path and one needs to take a long term approach towards the same. One can actually get very good returns on the investments they make over a longer time period. Looking at this one can really enjoy the efforts they have put in into building their lives and finances and over a period of time they can always become financially free. For more information you can visit our website.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Most Common Mistakes To Avoid When You Need Financial Help

At some point in life, everyone needs a helping hand. For many people, this takes the form of financial aid, whether it be food stamps, welfare, disability, social security or money for college. Unfortunately, the process of getting such support can be long and tedious with ample bureaucratic red tape to wade through. This can cause you to make several mistakes that can extend your waiting time, or worse, leave you empty-handed. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when you need financial help.

Not Making Changes


One reason people might find themselves in financial trouble is because of the way they are spending money. While you might not be overspending, you may be concentrating on the wrong things. Take a look at your finances and make changes as needed. Start paying off credit card debts that have higher interest rates, take out loans for school instead of spending savings, or find ways to better save money at home.

Not Applying


One major mistake people make is simply not applying for help, whether that be for a new job or unemployment benefits. There are many different programs that can help you get back on your feet financially, but it is often overlooked. This is often because they don't think they'll be accepted, the hassle doesn't seem worth it or they don't understand the qualification criteria. However, you never know until you try, so don't let these uncertainties prevent you from applying. These programs are in place to help people in need, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying.

Providing Incomplete or Incorrect Information


When filling out an application for financial assistance, be sure to read over it carefully once you're finished. It's easy to accidentally leave out information or provide information that isn't correct. Go over addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, first and last names and other pertinent information. Leaving things our or getting information wrong can hold up your approval process or even get you denied.

Not Seeking Professional Help


One of the worst mistakes you can make is not seeking professional help when you're having problems. With disability and social security, the government refuses up to 70 percent of all applications the first time around, even if all qualifications are met. Even after that, many re-applications are met with rejection. Instead of re-applying and being denied repeatedly, talk to a Chico Social Security Income Lawyer. Their expertise and understanding of disability and social security law can help you get the money you need 
and deserve.

Filing Taxes Late


If you need student aid and you're thinking of filing your taxes late, you may want to reconsider. Student aid is provided on a first come, first serve basis and is determined by your tax information. Students who file their taxes early are at the top of that list. Those who file late, however, move to the back of the line. This doesn't only apply to students either.

Applying for financial help can be difficult and frustrating, but don't let that stand in your way. When you need money, there are a number of federal and state programs that can help, but avoiding mistakes is critical to a timely acceptance.

Personal Finance Tips for Millenials

saving and spending
saving and spending (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)
According to a 2007 study by the American Psychological Association, 73% of those surveyed claimed money is a primary source of stress in their lives. But personal finances don’t have to be a formidable enemy to avoid. In fact, by making a few smart choices now, you can eliminate future financial burdens and alleviate stress. 


Reduce Debt 


Too often, millennials choose to celebrate landing that first job by making a large purchase. Before you rush out to buy a new car, know the difference between “good debt” and “bad debt.” According to Forbes.com, “good debt” is generally debt with a lower interest rate than the rate you could be earning by investing. For example, a home loan would commonly be considered “good debt,” while a car loan or credit card debt are more likely “bad debt.” 

If you already have debt from a credit card, car loan, or student loans, start by paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first. Top Ten Reviews suggests writing out a game plan for how and when you are going to pay off your debts. Pay off as much as possible, as quickly as possible. 

Start Saving 


Now Utilize a budget. Keep your spending under control and allocate a designated amount each month to your savings. A good strategy would be to have three types of savings funds. 

Emergency Fund 


According to U.S. News, in a stretch of hiring slowdowns, it is crucial to have an emergency fund to cover an unexpected period of unemployment.This fund should be enough to cover your living expenses for three to six months. 

Short Term Savings


  • Planning on buying that new car after all? Want to take a weekend trip to Vegas? Minimize your debt by planning ahead and saving now. 
  • Having a short term savings fund can give you the financial freedom to do the things you enjoy, without breaking the bank. Long Term Savings 
  • When you’re in your twenties, “retirement” seems light-years away. However, being in your twenties is the best time to start saving for retirement, because of the power of compound interest. The earlier you start saving, the more interest you’ll earn! 
  • If your employer sponsors a 401K plan, make sure you are taking advantage of this opportunity. In addition, consider opening a Roth IRA. The Roth IRA is especially a good option for someone at the early stages of their career, because once you exceed a certain level of income, you can no longer contribute. Essentially, with a Roth IRA, you can pay taxes now and avoid paying taxes on any future earnings from your investment. 
  •  Consider a Target-Date Retirement Fund. Not only do these funds typically have low expense ratios, but they eliminate the added work load of trying to manage your portfolio yourself. These funds are fully diversified and managed by investing professionals. As you approach your target retirement date, the fund will automatically become more conservative. 
  • It’s important to remember that withdrawing early from a 401K or an IRA will have significant financial penalties. This is why it is important to have your emergency fund and a short term savings fund; do not tap into your long-term savings. 

Put Your Technology to Work 


Today, there are so many resources available to help get your finances under control. For example, Mint.com is a great tool to monitor your budget and track your spending – and the smartphone app is both fun and user-friendly. Another example would be using annualcreditreport.com or Credit Karma to watch your credit score and prevent identity theft. 

Make your life easier by setting up automatic payments. Find out if your employer offers automatic paycheck deductions for your 401K. In addition, most banks allow you to set-up automatic scheduled transfers. Make your finances your first priority by scheduling an automatic transfer into your savings account. Pay yourself first. You can also set up automatic payments to pay off your student loans and pay your monthly bills. Automatic bank drafts ensure that you always pay on time, thus avoiding any unnecessary late charges. 

Reigning in your finances can seem like a daunting task at first, but you can conquer your financial fears by managing your debt, maximizing your savings, and using technology to your advantage. 

Chris is a blogger for his blog The Financial Park. He is also a golf fanatic and loves to be outdoors. You can find him on Twitter @ChrisLindsey23.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Will High State Taxes Drive High Earner Out of State?

It’s a question that every community has to ask itself at some point. Should the wealthy members of society be taxed at a greater rate than those less wealthy? For some states, the answer is clearly yes. For others, state tax for higher earners comes at a cost. Wealthier residents have one less economically fruitful reason to stay in a state that takes away a greater percentage of their fortune than another. Whereas New York City and California, for instance, are happy to impose high state tax on the rich, other states such as Texas and Tennessee have no state income taxes at all. The question remains, which is the better option? 

The benefits


The benefits of taxing high earners are relatively clear. For starters, the state has more money to spend on the things it prioritises for the community. This may mean more revenue for health care and social security for example. Money to fund these kinds of social benefits has to be drawn from somewhere and it seems reasonable that those with higher incomes should contribute more. After all, the wealthy typically enjoy an abnormally high standard of living. In fact, for many of any given state’s richest inhabitants, increased taxation would barely be felt, such is the magnitude of the incomes enjoyed by top earners. If only others could be so fortunate. With growing national debt and the spectre of domestic and international crisis looming, can states really afford not to tax their higher earners? If the recent recession has taught us anything, surely it’s that the problem of unsustainable profit-seeking combined with federal deficit has to be addressed; and soon. One of the obvious steps to be made is to enforce tax laws that reflect the needs of the times we live in, where untaxed millionaires can no longer avoid contributing to state funds some of their own disproportionate wealth. In this way, governments can make steps towards the redistribution of wealth and the containing any disproportionate influence enjoyed solely as a consequence of their affluence. 

The downsides


The rich know how to stay rich. There is the possibility that by altering state tax, higher earners will simply alter their spending in response, an economic phenomenon known as the Laffer Curve. By changing investment and tax behaviours, revenues can even decrease as a result of upping taxes for the wealthy. In general terms this seems obvious; higher taxes means less money to spend and invest and a slowing of the economy, which in turn can mean additional costs, such as support for any resultant increase in unemployment or homelessness, as changes affect poorer members of society. It is important to stay on top of how taxes might affect you, preferably by being connected to tax preparation services. These kinds of taxes, targeted at higher income brackets, can end up hitting the middle classes – particular during periods of inflation. Furthermore, there is no guarantee government will use any additional money it receives to spend and invest efficiently. In fact, it can risk only acting as providing less incentive to careful government budgeting and cutting at a time when governments should be leading the way. The most obvious set-back is the reaction of the rich themselves. Not only can laws whereby the wealthy are taxed at a higher rate than the poor be seen by some to antagonise class differences – there is the very real possibility that richer inhabitants of the state will simply leave, and move to another area where they are taxed less. Lower taxes means more money, more potential profit and more investment opportunities, opportunities that may taken elsewhere should higher earners feel tax rates are too high in the state they currently reside in. 

What to do?


It certainly is a difficult question. Power comes with wealth, and with wealth should come both certain responsibilities. As is well known, federal debt in the US runs into the trillions, as does its annual spending. What the government takes in per year does not even come close to covering its costs, yet alone its debts. Something has to change, and fast. Some states have opted for increased revenues; taxing the rich to alleviate the economic problem. With movements like Occupy Wall Street gaining ground in America and internationally, it is no secret that the top 1% own between 40 and 50 percent of given wealth. These arguments seem convincing, and merit strong consideration. However, other states have argued that the rich already pay a significant amount of total taxes to federal governments, while lower classes sometimes pay nothing at all. Whether or not higher taxes on the rich can go some way to solving current economic difficulties is something that has to be worked out within each state – but undoubtedly, it’s a conversation each state needs to be taking seriously.



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jack Comeau on How Community Involvement Helps a Financial Planner

Finance
Finance (Photo credit: Tax Credits)
Undoubtedly, the responsibility of a financial planner, which is to provide sound, accurate financial advise to his or her clients in the goal of protecting and creating wealth for that client, is not a simple or easy thing. It takes years of experience in working in the financial markets; it takes acute people skills; and perhaps above all, it takes a real love for delivering quality client service.

The mentioning of this second requirement – people skills – touches on a point that I would like to write about. I think there sometimes exists among financial planners the erroneous idea that, in order to gather and deliver accurate financial recommendations to clients, knowledge of the client’s financial portfolio and the trends of the markets is the only thing needs to be known.

However, I think this is a real misperception in the financial planning industry and one that can lead to real consequences. I would argue that in order for a financial planner to be truly effective in their role, that is, in order for the advisor to be truly effective in sustaining and building their client’s wealth, an advisor needs to build profiles of his or her clients that go beyond simply including the client’s financial background and data. Questions need to be answered like, where is this client in life? Is the client close to retirement? Are they just beginning to set aside money? Does the client have any major short-term or long-term goals in mind? These types of questions are what I call “key life facts” and I would put my name, Jack Comeau, beside the argument that a financial planner’s knowledge of them is equally as important as his or her knowledge of the client’s financial facts.

But, how can a financial planner go about learning some of these key life facts about their client? Well, naturally, the first and easiest opportunity to do so comes when a financial planner first meets a new client and engages with him or her in an in-depth introductory conversation. Topics obvious to this conversation include how you, the financial planner, can best serve the client’s financial goals; a description of what the client’s financial goals are; and an introductory explanation of how you will go about achieving the client’s goals.

Needless to say, having this kind of introductory engagement with the client is paramount to creating a healthy, productive relationship between client and financial planner, and no relationship should go without it. However, what this sort of formal or informal meet-and-greet also provides is the perfect opportunity for the financial planner to ask the client about key life facts that, although fall outside of the direct sphere of the client’s finances, play a definite part in helping the financial planner get a more useful and more well-rounded idea of the client’s financial picture.

I would also argue that there is another way for a financial planner to gain a more well-rounded perspective of the client and his financial picture, and that’s through active community involvement. The benefits for a financial planner of community involvement I think are often overlooked, but I know from personal experience just how important it can be. I’ve been living in the Saskatoon area now for many years now and community involvement has always been a priority of mine. I’m a member of the Saskatoon Estate Planning Council, the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce and my area’s CLU Chapter, among other community organizations. Now, yes, taking an active role in my community means that I have the opportunity of meeting more potential clients and, thus, expanding the business of Comeau Financial and advertising my name, Jack Comeau, to more people.

However, business interests set aside, I have come to find that networking and regularly connecting with members of my community does something far more vital for my role as a financial planner – since many of my clients are also members of my community, associating with them outside of my office yields a much better and much more intimate understanding of such things as their values, where they are in the path of life and what kind of short-term and long-term goals they may have. This in turn provides me a much stronger base of understanding for my responsibility of delivering financially sound advice to them.

In the end, we as financial planners must realize that making financial recommendations for a client is not something that happens in a vacuum. Our recommendations to our clients both affect and are affected by a client’s values and the milestones in their lives, two “key life facts” that we must continually strive to gain a better understanding of.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Playing Catch-Up on a Retirement Plan Over 50

retirement
retirement (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)
People ask me all the time what is the best way to catch up on a retirement fund after a couple of decades of procrastination. Should start by paying off all debt, start putting all you can muster into a 401k, start heavily playing the lottery with crossed fingers? The answer is a combination of paying off debt and investing in low cost bond funds.

Paying off debt can be better than saving money.


Well, it can actually save you more money because of the obvious interest charges you are paying. You need at least 10 percent of your gross income saved, and a good way to do that is to pay down any debt with a high interest rate (that isn’t tax deductible). Paying off credit cards or car loans with annual percentage rate of 15 percent will give you a 15 percent return on every dollar you pay off. This is definitely the first thing you need to do when playing catch up.

It’s important to note that you MUST make it a point to live within your means, and perhaps a bit below them if you want to really save for the future. This calculator from NewRetirement is a good starting point that brings the future into the harsh light of day. It might be a good idea to downsize your living space; get a smaller house or a car that doesn’t require a monthly payment. Ask yourself if you really are okay with running out of money before you reach 75? 

Low cost bond funds


Once you have settled any high-interest, non-tax deductible debt (or if you miraculously didn’t have any) you need to catch up with a 401(k) plan. It would be ideal if your employer match at least some of your contributions, but even if they don’t this is a great way to save because of the tax-free savings aspect of the retirement fund.

Take a day or two out of your schedule and figure out which fund options your employer offers, and which are best for you to invest in. It’s best to choose the lowest cost bond funds and you can do so by comparing fund expense ratios, and choosing those with a ratio less than one percent. These investment firms will pass on the most return to investors by keeping costs down, and will make a difference in twenty years by the time you retire.

You may have lost sweet time for investments to compound and grow to their fullest potential in your procrastination, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late. An investment will take 15 years to double at a five percent rate, and 18 years at a four percent rate. If you get going now, with the goal of contributing to the 401(k) the maximum amount you are allowed to add, you can have a nice chunk of money waiting for you when you retire.


Figure out your social security plan.


Full retirement age for those born between 1943 and 1954 is considered 66, and will replace some of your salary, but you will most likely need more income. The rate for the average wage earner is 42 percent, but it adjusts based on your specific income and whether your spouse should be expected to contribute as well (estimate your social security benefits here). You can maximize your monthly benefit by waiting to retire until you reach 70, which gives you a 32 percent higher benefit than “normal”.

You might be over 50, and you might be behind on your retirement plan for whatever reason. Hey, it’s going to be okay - life happens. You can start now and really improve your position in the next 15 to 20 years. Retire the way you want to, not the way you have to.

Louis Mack is a seasoned financial planner in San Francisco who specializes in retirement planning. He is a writer for NewRetirement.com and lover of the great outdoors.



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