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3 Simple Personal Finance Tips

There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to managing your personal finances. However, outlined below are 3 simple tips to help you on the way.

Budget: Identify ALL your expenses and review your budget on a regular basis:

To manage your finances you will need to prepare a household budget detailing what you receive and spend out each month as a family unit. The income less the expenditure will represent how much money you have left over each month. Many individuals carry out this exercise but miss out some crucial expenses by accident. This in turn gives them a false impression of what their net income/ deficit position is. Common expenses that are missed out are car insurance/car tax, average monthly socialising expenditure, tax payments, average monthly holiday expenditure and some regular cash payments. Once you have made out your household budget, it is crucial that you review it on a regular basis and compare it to your actual monthly expenditure. If you are spending or receiving more than you anticipated you will need to update the budget accordingly.

Pay yourself first:

One of the biggest mistakes families make when it comes to budgeting is to take their income and spend it until there’s nothing left. Obviously, this isn’t budgeting. The real intention of budgeting is to find those areas where cuts in spending can be made. The idea is to control your impulses. However, this is much easier said than done. The best way around this problem is to have an amount immediately deducted from your pay, and put into another account. Over time you won’t even notice it’s gone. Paying yourself first can be used to contribute to your retirement plan and emergency fund. It doesn’t matter how much you start with, any amount is greater than nothing. Start with a small amount, and after several weeks you can gradually start to increase it. You’ll likely wonder why it took so long to get started.

  • Have an amount immediately deducted from your pay.
  • Start with any amount and increase it gradually over time.

Pay for things in cash or from your bank account if you can:

Rather than using your credit card, where you can, try to pay for as many items with cash or from your bank account. Therefore, you will only be spending what you have. If you have a bank overdraft do not be tempted to run up the balance, as it will still have to be paid back eventually and you will have to pay interest.

The Best Personal Finance Tips I Learned

As the year comes to an end, once again people (including myself) have resolutions to make next year better than this year. The two most popular resolutions involve physical fitness and fiscal fitness. Most of us have goals to lose weight and to lower our debt (increase savings, etc.). Usually, the physical fitness aspect of our resolution means to eat less and exercise more. The course of action is simple. The key is to get started or as that famous slogan from that popular athletic apparel company says, “Just Do It”.

For our personal finance, it is a bit more different. It should not be as complicated. As I progressed through investments, real estates investments, eliminating credit debt, increasing cash flow, etc., I have (along with my wife) have practiced to the best of my ability these principles. As the samurai warrior or spartan soldier have a code of ethics (or Bushido code), it is effective to have principles that we should apply to our personal finances. Here are some:

Never listen to financial advice from someone making less than you. This may seem cruel. But, would you go to seek medical advice from a plumber? (or vice versa) Even though they may be the nicest and best plumber in the world, it would make sense to seek medical advice or treatment from a medical professional (e.g. a doctor). Why would you hinder yourself by seeking financial advice from broke folks? You do not have to avoid them. You can still (and should) do other activities such as golfing or watching movies with these folks.

Do not borrow money from anyone especially relatives. Beside purchasing a house (which it is possible to save for), you should not take out loans or use credit. Now, it is especially to remember this principle when borrowing from relatives. Unless you want to change or hurt that relationship, you should not loan nor borrow money from your dear relatives. Remember: The borrower is enslaved to the lender. Money is important but it is like fire. It can warm a house or burn a house. When borrowed or loaned to relatives, it will burn that relationship.

Personal Finance Tips Some Helpful Suggestions

Entrepreneur or not, your lifestyle and your decisions should be as thoroughly backed by as much meticulous planning and care as you would when you are deciding on the annual budget for a company of your own. There is a whole number of reasons why managing your money well will give you a better chance of success, and it is all about how you position yourself. Let these Personal finance tips show you how.

Finances are the name of the game, and if not kept in top shape, your cluttered finances have a way of accumulating, and then catching up. Pay heed to these important Personal Finance Tips that can help you. Whether you are one of the employees of a huge company, or self employed professionals such as commercial mortgage brokers, there is simply no excuse to mismanage your money matters. Your personal finances are every bit as crucial as corporate finances, and vice versa, although the amounts of money may vary a bit.

Make use of the following tools for managing your finances, and make the best use of them for gain, and to avoid loss. Make use of modern technology and the benefits it entail, such as the Charles Schwab Credit card. As commercial mortgage brokers will tell you, “a dollar saved is a dollar earned”.

Some Suggestions of personal finance tips

Mint dot com

Mint has received raving reviews, and certainly, the site has a simple and easy to use and analyze format, which manages your personal finances in an exemplary manner. Mint aggregates the financial information in a comprehensive format, and you will know how to spend, and how to save. Best of all, its free of cost, and there is no software downloads, no commitments, trials or anything of that sort. All your accounts can be synced with no hassle. There are a good number of excellent

CreditKarma dot com

Another free service, CreditKarma gives you free credit reports, and you can find a lot of advice here that will help you save cash on mortgages, loans, credit cards, and a whole lot more, basically like commercial mortgage brokers. There are a good number of excellent services.

Credit cards

Well, shaky area to offer specific advice, but credit cards such as the Charles Schwab Credit card can do much to save your money, if you are smart enough to never carry a balance. If you can use the great rewards programs with no worry about the APR, you will have to live within your means and not carry balance.

Pay off all the items you want in a month by your card, and clear the balances regularly. This will enable you to reap benefits on the rewards. You can also keep track of the various expenses, as well as keep a reign on your spending habits.

You can enjoy the rewards such as those offered by Charles Schwab Credit card, if you have a brokerage account with them. There are a good range of rewards you can save on.

Personal Finance Tips While Traveling

Traveling around the world is my passion, hobby, pastime, or whatever you want to name it. I just love traveling and I take my family where ever I go. So even they love it, al least that’s what they say. Over a period of time, I have developed a habit of saving enormous amount while we are on a trip. This helps us to save some amount for the next trip. Let me get to the point and help you with few personal finance tips while traveling that can really save some money.

Food

If you are on a short vacation, say for a couple of days, remember to pack your snacks. When I am driving out for few days I carry string cheese, apples, and carrots.

A note on apples: To avoid sleep while driving, not is as effective as apples.

If you can manage to pack a lunch that can last a couple of days and lots of snacks, much of your money spent on eating in expensive restaurants can be reduced.

A day before you commence your trip, visit an eatery or a grocery store near your house and buy lots of snacks. Same foodstuffs at a tourist location or a crowded place or even a convenience store near gas pump will cost much more.

If you don’t like eating packed food, or carrying them, get some coupons. These discount coupons are quite inexpensive way to eat while traveling.

Carry lots of water with you. Something that’s freely available at home costs much outside. Lastly, be proactive and not reactive.

Gasoline

If your trip involves lots of driving, carry a cash-back credit card with you. I have also found that better quality of petrol provides better mileage. Probably, this is the only way to save money in this category. You cannot replace gas by anything else like water or beer.

Sometimes, my employer reimburses the amount spent on gas. So I get the whole amount back plus 3% cash back.

Hotels

Living in hotels is very expensive while on a vacation. For me, hotel was a major factor affecting our travel budget. Not any more. I reserve my rooms online well in advance. Several portals like MyPoints or Ebates offer a cash back scheme.

If you are a regular traveler, it’s wise to become a member of holiday clubs, or loyalty clubs that offer discounted stay.

Most of the time when we are traveling, we halt at any hotel on the way. However, since last year I have developed a new strategy that has helped me save a lot. Before going for a tour, I jot down the names and numbers of all the hotels in and around the place we had decided to halt at. I also jot down the details of hotels that are about one hour’s distance from our expected halt. This way, we have started to get the best deal.

Also, while selecting hotel, check weather it includes a free breakfast. When I travel with my family (5 members), it saves a great deal of money.

Additional suggestions

This is not a very frugal suggestion, but I am ready to pay $20 to $30 extra for cleanliness. I wouldn’t opt for a hotel that has creepy cockroaches and long hairs on the bed, just because it’s cheap.

If your family includes a kid or two, do make a note of malls on the way before starting your journey. The play area in a mall is the best refreshment you can offer your kids while traveling.

It’s good to save money while traveling but not at the cost of your life. If you are very sleepy while driving, get yourself a room to sleep, if not for whole night, at least for a couple of hours. Okay, if you want frugality here, get an energy drink and get going.

4 Ways to Become Financially Free Even When You are Single

Being financially free can sound like a far-fetched idea for most single women. The average American today spends more than they earn and can barely keep up financially. Becoming financially free is not impossible, no matter what you might think today! Keep reading to find some personal finance tips that every single woman should know.

Start with a budget. Whether you make a lot of money or a little money, you need a budget to know where you are going. Think of your budget as your financial road map for your future. If you were going some where you have never been, you wouldn’t start out just driving, would you? It’s unlikely. It would be a waste of time and gas to do that. The same goes for your finances. Why would you continue to work week after week without taking some time to plan how you are going to use your money you worked so hard for? Budgeting can help you do just that. Make a budget a priority so you are not wasting time working and the money you earn. Even if you are single and don’t think you make enough money, you need a budget to know where your money is being spent.

Save early and often, even if it seems impossible. Saving money each month is important on so many levels. Not only does it give us something to fall back on when times are tough, it helps us remain disciplined with our money. Think of saving your money sort of like the gas you would put in the car for the trip in example one. Without saving money, how will you have anything for the future? If you have nothing in savings, your first goal should be to have $1,000 in an emergency fund you can fall back on. The emergency fund allows you to rely on your own cash rather than credit cards when something unexpected comes up. Once you get your emergency fund built up, start contributing to your retirement but investing in your company’s 401k plan or start your own fund. It’s never too early or too late to start saving for the future! This is especially important for single women. If you wait until you have a better job, more money or more of something else, you might just never get started.

Debt can be crippling to personal finances. In order to be financially free, debt needs to be eliminated so the income coming in can go towards savings, rather than paying off debt. Begin small by paying off the cards with the smallest balance first. After that card is paid off, start applying that money towards the card with the next smallest balance and so on. If you receive a raise or a tax return, apply this money towards debt instead of spending it. This “snowball” effect is an excellent way to pay off debt quickly. This can be done on just one income! When you see debt being eliminated, it is rewarding and motivating!

The little things can have the biggest impact. While it may not seem like it, the little things can add up the most when it comes to your money. Spending just $5 extra a day can add up to $150 in unplanned expenses for the month. But this can also work in the opposite way. Adding $5 a day to pay off debt can equate to an extra $150 paid off in debt each month!

It can seem next to impossible for a single woman to start to get her personal finances under control. The most important thing to remember is personal finance is nearly always about behavior. If you can change some of the habits you are accustomed too, you can start to see huge a huge impact on your financial situation.

Credit Counseling Tips To Prevent Bankruptcy

Nowadays there are so many options to eliminate your unsecured loan. But still there are few debtors those who are not aware of such options; they think that bankruptcy is the only way to get rid of financial loans.

The Federal government has introduced such options for the betterment of the debtors. Now it is duty of the debtors to take part in the programs to clear all their remaining liabilities. Sometimes the consumer needs credit counseling to understand the advantages of the programs. The debtor should try to compare how bankruptcy process with debt options. How the plans are going to help you in getting rid of the unsecured debts.

If you file for bankruptcy then everything goes in hands of the court, it may take years to sort out the case. This is an emotional decision where you will be left with no choice at the end. You will be guilty for your wrong judgment. The banks will be not ready to provide you loans because of your so bad credit scoring. It may whole life long time to be back on the track. Bankruptcy is not at all a wise choice to fix your debt problem.

The options are very popular because of the real hard work the relief companies put across to bring people out of debt. The programs are available in the market are of all kinds. Just the debtor has to choose the best one among them. The firms are going to guide you in solving your financial issue. You need to hire the most well known company who can convince your creditor for the loan reduction plan. It may take five six years to clear all your remaining debts. The most important thing is you will able to get back your credit scoring on top after to start working with debt firms. If you want you can apply for new loans in the bank.

Now you are ware with the advantages of the debt options and the disadvantages of the bankruptcy. Well the choice is always yours; still it is advisable that debt administration is the best way to eliminate the unsecured debts.

7 Tips For Choosing A Credit Counseling Agency

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Credit counseling agencies specialize in helping individuals who are financially over-extended. They will help the consumer analyze his or her debts and spending habits and work together with the consumer to work out a plan to change their habits in the future.

These agencies also act as debt management companies. They will help the consumer to work out a debt consolidation, management and repayment plan. They will help the consumer negotiate with creditors to reduce their overall amount of debt in various ways, including lower interest rates and reversing late charges.

This might sound promising to a person deep in debt, there are a few bad apples in the debt counseling industry that takes advantage of their clients. Protect yourself by using the following tips to select an agency that actually have your best interest in mind:

– Make sure the agency you are considering does not only offer debt management. Debt counseling play an important role to help you understand your spending habits and how to change them.

– Check the better business bureau for information about the credit counseling company. Stay away from any company that gets a low overall grade.

– Check that the organization has a real telephone number and address. Beware when they only give you a post office box number, or you unable to reach a human on the phone. That might be a sign of a fly by night operator, who is here today and gone tomorrow.

– Study any agreement that a counseling agency require you to sign. Ensure that you know what is expected of you, what the costs will be and exactly what services the company is offering.

– If you find items that seem to good to be true in the contract or agreement with the agency, ask questions. An example of this may be that they promise to fix your credit, you may think your credit rating change from bad to good, while they mean that they will negotiate with creditors to not show your accounts as past due, which won’t necessarily change your overall credit rating.

– Be careful when an agency promise that they can remove bad notations from your credit record. Items like liens, bankruptcies and repossessions will remain on your credit record until you take care of it, or until they drop off after ten years.

– When you are asked to make “contributions” instead of payments, ask exactly what that means, how much is expected and whether services will no longer be offered if you fail to pay the contribution.

8 Financial Tips For Young Adults

Unfortunately, personal finance has not yet become a required subject in high school or college, so you might be fairly clueless about how to manage your money when you’re out in the real world for the first time. If you think that understanding personal finance is way above your head, though, you’re wrong. All it takes to get started on the right path is the willingness to do a little reading – you don’t even need to be particularly good at math.

To help you get started, we’ll take a look at eight of the most important things to understand about money if you want to live a comfortable and prosperous life.

  1. Learn Self Control
    If you’re lucky, your parents taught you this skill when you were a kid. If not, keep in mind that the sooner you learn the fine art of delaying gratification, the sooner you’ll find it easy to keep your finances in order. Although you can effortlessly purchase an item on credit the minute you want it, it’s better to wait until you’ve actually saved up the money. Do you really want to pay interest on a pair of jeans or a box of cereal? (To learn more about credit, check out Understanding Credit Card Interest and our Debt Management feature.)

If you make a habit of putting all your purchases on credit cards, regardless of whether you can pay your bill in full at the end of the month, you might still be paying for those items in 10 years. If you want to keep your credit cards for the convenience factor or the rewards they offer, make sure to always pay your balance in full when the bill arrives, and don’t carry more cards than you can keep track of.

  1. Take Control of Your Own Financial Future
    If you don’t learn to manage your own money, other people will find ways to (mis)manage it for you. Some of these people may be ill-intentioned, like unscrupulous commission-based financial planners. Others may be well-meaning, but may not know what they’re doing, like Grandma Betty who really wants you to buy a house even though you can only afford a treacherous adjustable-rate mortgage.

Instead of relying on others for advice, take charge and read a few basic books on personal finance. Once you’re armed with personal finance knowledge, don’t let anyone catch you off guard – whether it’s a significant other that slowly siphons your bank account or friends who want you to go out and blow tons of money with them every weekend. Understanding how money works is the first step toward making your money work for you. (To find out how to have fun and still save money, see Budget Without Blowing Off Your Friends.)

  1. Know Where Your Money Goes
    Once you’ve gone through a few personal finance books, you’ll realize how important it is to make sure your expenses aren’t exceeding your income. The best way to do this is by budgeting. Once you see how your morning java adds up over the course of a month, you’ll realize that making small, manageable changes in your everyday expenses can have just as big of an impact on your financial situation as getting a raise. In addition, keeping your recurring monthly expenses as low as possible will also save you big bucks over time. If you don’t waste your money on a posh apartment now, you might be able to afford a nice condo or a house before you know it. (Read more on budgeting in our Budgeting 101 special feature.)
  2. Start an Emergency Fund
    One of personal finance’s oft-repeated mantras is “pay yourself first”. No matter how much you owe in student loans or credit card debt and no matter how low your salary may seem, it’s wise to find some amount – any amount – of money in your budget to save in an emergency fund every month.

Having money in savings to use for emergencies can really keep you out of trouble financially and help you sleep better at night. Also, if you get into the habit of saving money and treating it as a non-negotiable monthly “expense”, pretty soon you’ll have more than just emergency money saved up: you’ll have retirement money, vacation money and even money for a home down payment.

Don’t just sock away this money under your mattress; put it in a high-interest online savings account, a certificate of deposit or a money market account. Otherwise, inflation will erode the value of your savings.

  1. Start Saving for Retirement Now
    Just as you headed off to kindergarten with your parents’ hope to prepare you for success in a world that seemed eons away, you need to prepare for your retirement well in advance. Because of the way compound interest works, the sooner you start saving, the less principal you’ll have to invest to end up with the amount you need to retire, and the sooner you’ll be able to call working an “option” rather than a “necessity”.

Company-sponsored retirement plans are a particularly great choice because you get to put in pretax dollars and the contribution limits tend to be high (much more than you can contribute to an individual retirement plan). Also, companies will often match part of your contribution, which is like getting free money. (To learn more, see Understanding The Time Value Of Money and Retirement Savings Tips For 18- To 24-Year-Olds.)

  1. Get a Grip on Taxes
    It’s important to understand how income taxes work even before you get your first paycheck. When a company offers you a starting salary, you need to know how to calculate whether that salary will give you enough money after taxes to meet your financial goals and obligations. Fortunately, there are plenty of online calculators that have taken the dirty work out of determining your own payroll taxes, such as Paycheck City. These calculators will show you your gross pay, how much goes to taxes and how much you’ll be left with, which is also known as net, or take-home pay.

For example, $35,000 a year in California will leave you with about $27,600 after taxes in 2008, or about $2,300 a month. By the same token, if you’re considering leaving one job for another in search of a salary increase, you’ll need to understand how your marginal tax rate will affect your raise and that a salary increase from $35,000 a year to $41,000 a year won’t give you an extra $6,000, or $500 per month – it will only give you an extra $4,200, or $350 per month (again, the amount will vary depending on your state of residence). Also, you’ll be better off in the long run if you learn to prepare your annual tax return yourself, as there is plenty of bad tax advice and misinformation floating around out there. (To learn all about your taxes, visit our Income Tax Guide.)

  1. Guard Your Health
    If meeting monthly health insurance premiums seems impossible, what will you do if you have to go to the emergency room, where a single visit for a minor injury like a broken bone can cost thousands of dollars? If you’re uninsured, don’t wait another day to apply for health insurance; it’s easier than you think to wind up in a car accident or trip down the stairs. You can save money by getting quotes from different insurance providers to find the lowest rates. Also, by taking daily steps now to keep yourself healthy, like eating fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, not smoking, not consuming alcohol in excess, and even driving defensively, you’ll thank yourself down the road when you aren’t paying exorbitant medical bills.
  2. Guard Your Wealth
    If you want to make sure that all of your hard-earned money doesn’t vanish, you’ll need to take steps to protect it. If you rent, get renter’s insurance to protect the contents of your place from events like burglary or fire. Disability insurance protects your greatest asset – the ability to earn an income – by providing you with a steady income if you ever become unable to work for an extended period of time due to illness or injury.

If you want help managing your money, find a fee-only financial planner to provide unbiased advice that’s in your best interest, rather than a commission-based financial advisor, who earns money when you sign up with the investments his or her company backs. You’ll also want to protect your money from taxes, which is easy to do with a retirement account, and inflation, which you can do by making sure that all of your money is earning interest through vehicles like high-interest savings accounts, money market funds, CDs, stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

 

 

5 Tips on Selecting a Good Credit Counseling Service

Credit counseling is by far the most popular debt relief option approached by millions of households who are facing debt problem. However, not all credit counseling services are legitimate; there are even bad companies who provide little or no actual “counseling”; instead, they are in business just to make money from debtors who have suffered financially by getting them to sign up with a debt management plan that comes with huge hidden costs, make their debt situation worse.

Therefore, if you are deciding to approach a credit counseling service to help you in resolving your debt problem, here are a few tips to help in your selection:

Tip #1: Move on if you are asked to sign up a debt management plan right away

When you approach a credit counseling service, a credit counselor will be assigned to work with you. He needs to get understanding on your debt situation and your budget first before he proposes a solution that fits your financial situation. If it is not the case, instead, the credit counselor wants to sign you up right away into a debt management plan without first understanding your debt & financial situation, then move on.

Tip #2: Read the contract carefully before signing up

Don’t put down your signature onto the dotted line of a contract before you really understand what have been written inside, in details. You have right to ask the credit counselor to provide with copies of the contract and bring back home to read the contract thoroughly before signing up. When you go through the contact, make sure you understand all the fees involved, such fees may include enrollment fees, monthly fees and extra fees per account. These hidden fees can add up to big lump sum and may cause your debt worse.

Tip #3: Make sure the credit counseling service works with all your creditors

Although a credit counseling company works with many creditors, but there are creditors excluded from their list. Therefore, make sure they work with all the creditors on your list so that a debt management plan can cover for all debts.

Tip #4: The service is not totally free

Many credit counseling services are operated under the name of non-profit organization with the purpose of educating and advising debtors on how to resolve their debt issues in proper way. However, don’t be fooled by the “non-profit” status and think the service is totally free. Although it may be free in counseling and education portion, there is always a monthly fee if you choose to and you always advise to enroll into a debt management plan. In fact, it might involves a sign-up fee and other costs, so be carefully to read the terms and conditions before you sign up a debt management plan.

Tip #5: Check the company with Better Business Bureau

Although credit counseling and DMP enrollment can be done online, it is a good idea to visit the company and talk to the credit counselor face-to-face. Make an extra precaution step by checking the company with Better Business Bureau to see if there are complaints filed against the company.

5 Personal Finance Tips For Parents

As we grow older our responsibilities also increase and once you become parents you have to deal with them pretty seriously. Taking care of children, providing them with the right education and other facilities can lead to some heavy financial burden for parents. In this case what can you do? What is most important is to prioritize your responsibilities as parents and determine the financial support you need to accomplish it. This article will cover a few tips that can help you manage your personal finances diligently.

  1. First of all understand that now you have some serious duties to perform, hence you cannot act as if you are a 20 year old and make liberal financial decisions. You need to create a balance between your instantaneous and long term needs so that you can invest wisely. Manage your income properly and keep a check on spending and investments.
  2. Plan for your child’s education early and keep funds aside for it. You will need to create a budget and estimate the finances that you will require for his schooling and higher education. Invest accordingly in schemes and investment plans that will have high returns when you require them most for your child’s education.
  3. It is very common that people when they grow old tend to invest in property and buy a house. It is certainly one of your basic needs and you may take some loan for the same. Adhere strictly to your budget and repay loans in time so that you can avoid getting a bad credit rating or bankruptcy. Remember by simply paying the minimum due you are not doing any good. Try and negotiate with the creditors for simpler installments.
  4. Supervise your credit card payments and pay your credit bills in time to avoid heavy interest.
  5. Remember that with children you also need some handy cash for few unplanned expenses like medical bills etc which may crop up anytime.