Smart Financial Decisions

Smart Financial Decisions

3 Common Sense Tips to Help You Make Smart Financial Decisions

It’s no secret making the right choices with your money can pay off big time. The financial tips we offer will hopefully make it a little easier for you. It doesn’t matter how big or how small your financial decisions are, it will have an impact on your life.

If we were able to make the right choices all of the time, we’d be well on our way to earning a high credit score, and building wealth. Most of us though, are unable View full post…

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Top 5 Money Myths

Top 5 Money Myths

Top 5 Money Myths Exposed

Due to the coronavirus, high school and college commencements in general, are being held online. For the college Class of 2020, we have some financial advice to offer. Plus, we will expose the top 5 money myths that hopefully will get you started down the right path.

Based on personal experience, I’ve come across young graduates that are of the mind-set “let’s just kick back & be young for the time being and adulting will kick in when it’s ready.” As I look back now, this is not what I would recommend to 2020 grads or for any student.

My best recommendation to you is to get your finances in order as early as possible and don’t postpone it. The following are 5 money myths that really need to be debunked, once and for all.

Myth 1. To create a budget means you can only buy things you need, and not what you may want.

A proper budget is a means of allocating your money to cover your expenses and to place a certain amount in savings and retirement. A good budget to see this in action is the 50/30/20 budget. Many young adults find this one easier to understand and follow.

A part of these money myths is thinking that a budget is supposed to stop you from having any fun in life. Instead, think of it as one of the best ways to develop healthy financial habits. The key to this budget is to calculate your take home pay and work from there.

50% of that amount goes to cover rent or mortgage payment, utilities, transportation, insurance – essentially all of your basic needs. 30% is used for vacations, travel, clothing, other items that wouldn’t be covered by the 50% category.

The remaining 20% goes to set up an emergency fund, retirement, and debt retirement. By debt retirement, we mean all of those nasty credit cards that take forever to pay off. Payoff all short-term debt before starting to pay extra on your mortgage.

Top 5 money mythsThe 50/30/20 budget, if followed carefully, will help you to develop good financial habits and eventually, debt free. Watch the charge cards. They can be too tempting for some individuals. If you can’t payoff the card balance in full each month, stay away from them.

Healthy financial habits also include setting a consistent amount aside from each paycheck.

Myth 2. Why should I save for retirement at my young age?

Again, from experience, you’re never too young to start. The earlier that you begin to save for retirement, the more comfortable you will be in retirement. There are so many Americans who are ready for retirement and don’t have enough money saved. Some will be working until the day they die.

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to contribute to an employer sponsored 401(k) account or an IRA where the employer matches a certain percentage, take advantage of it. Put as much in that you can afford,  to start, and increase the amount as you go along.

It didn’t take the current coronavirus long to hurt our economy. Many, many jobs were lost, some permanently. Many individuals getting near retirement will have to postpone that date, or simply cancel it as long as they are able to work.

As an example, take a person at age 25 who saves $1,000 a month for ten years using an investment rate of 7%. When he gets to be 65, he will have about $1.4 million. If another person started at age 35 with the same parameters, he would end up with about $700,000.

The amount that you save each month is important, but it doesn’t have to be a large sum. The most important thing is compounding. The longer your money is invested, the more that you will have and this is why you need to start at an early age. This alone should debunk the money myths.

Myth 3. Using a credit card will just get me into heavy debt.

It’s true that it can for some individuals, and that’s why you need to be responsible and need to build and maintain a good credit history. Building a good credit score now will benefit you in the future. Most individuals are familiar with the FICO score, but there are many more. The two most lenders use are FICO and VantageScore.

Your credit score is a three-digit number assigned to you by the credit scoring programs. It tells lenders how much of a risk they are taking by advancing you credit. The credit scoring programs vary in what they consider to be the most important factors, so we’ll use FICO, who is the most familiar.

Top 5 money mythsThis data at FICO is grouped into five categories: payment history (35%), amounts owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%) and credit mix (10%).

It’s important that you choose the right credit card when you begin. Some have annual fees and some have many other options. Read the fine print, review the fees and other charges, especially the interest rate.

To stay on track while you develop healthy financial habits, use the card for normal monthly expenses and pay it off before the end of the month. Don’t use the card for long term expenses such as financing something you bought on impulse.

Myth 4. Can I negotiate my salary for an entry-level job?

Recent graduates are of the opinion that they’re not experienced enough to be able to negotiate for more money when applying for a new job. Studies done show that only about 39% of new employees negotiated their salary. Another one of the money myths.

Just be careful and diplomatic when doing this. You don’t want to get passed over for the job for being too aggressive. Before considering negotiating, do some research. Find out what the industry’s pay on average is for your job.

Some of the factors used in doing this are experience, the job title, degrees required, industry, and especially the area of the country and/or city where you will work.

Myth 5. Will I ever be able to pay off all of my student loans?

You’re probably aware of the current student loan crisis with so many of them in default for non-payment. Plus, the very high tuition costs have increased the average loan amounts quite a bit. It’s no wonder that many new graduates are concerned that they’ll be paying on these loans when they reach retirement.

Even with the government postponing payments and even forgiving some others, student loan borrowers need to cut expenses as much as possible and apply that extra money to the student loans.

One well known financial counselor, who shall remain nameless, has suggested moving back in with your parents to cut more costs. Sorry parents, but sometimes this is necessary. Especially for the graduates that have postponements and no job prospects.

There’s a lot of scary things happening in the world today, and being back in your parent’s home can be tough. It’s okay to treat yourself once in a while if you’re able to, but stick with your budget. One of the money myths again.

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7 Tips When Switching Cell Phone Carriers

7 Tips When Switching Cell Phone Carriers

How to Pay Less by Switching Cell Phone Carriers

If there is ever a time when the need to use cellular service is crucial, it is now. During this COVID-19 pandemic, family and friends try to connect with one another to maintain social distancing, get news update and reach out for medical supplies. Cost is also a factor for many when switching cell phone carriers.

As a result of the pandemic, people are looking for an opportunity to cut cost on wireless bills. If you’re tired of using an expensive cellular service, you should switch. But before you do, check if the following resonate with you in order to get View full post…

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6 Tips On Creating An Emergency Fund

6 Tips On Creating An Emergency Fund

Want to know how creating an emergency fund will help? Read these 6 Tips

Do you make it a point to pay all of your monthly bills early or on time, pay your credit card balances in full to avoid interest charges, and put money away for retirement? If you are, that’s terrific! But have you begun creating an emergency fund for yourself?
An emergency fund sometimes dubbed a ‘rainy day’ fund is a side reserve of finances intended for emergencies that seem to pop up at the worst possible time. If you do not have one, you must make the right moves to establish one.

While creating an emergency fund is necessary, it is actually not very View full post…

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Filing My Tax Return Online

Filing My Tax Return Online

Filing My Tax Return Online or Use a Tax Preparation Service?

I’ve asked this question a few times, and depending on the individual, I’ve received a different answer. Those who knew more about taxes said filing my tax return online is the way to go. A few others who may not have known much about taxes, but were turned off by high tax preparer fees, agreed with them.

Others who doubted their ability to file taxes online said they would use a professional tax preparer. Some others said that a family member would prepare their taxes for them. They didn’t want the hassle and possible liability of an incorrect return.

Most all agreed and said that filing my tax return online made more sense. This method of filing your taxes has become View full post…

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Sound financial tips during COVID-19 uncertainty

Sound financial tips during COVID-19 uncertainty

Our financial tips during COVID-19 pandemic may help to ease your anxiety

(BPT) – The current COVID-19 financial landscape is unpredictable, causing anxiety for people of all ages. These sound financial tips during COVID-19 may ease your anxiety.

“Now more than ever is the time to take an active approach with your finances to position yourself for success,” says Danielle Seurkamp, CFP. “Knowledge is power during unpredictable times.”

Andy Mardock, CFP, agrees. “Emotions are running high with coronavirus concerns. Being informed helps you resist gut reactions driven by emotion so you don’t make a move you later regret.”

Both Seurkamp and Mardock are members of the View full post…

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An Important Financial Conversation

An Important Financial Conversation

How to break through the financial conversation barriers with your partner

(BPT) – For most people, personal finances are a private matter. When you are in a relationship, it can be difficult to discuss this typically taboo subject of a financial conversation. Whether you have been married for years or are just beginning to date, fear of your partner judging your financial choices (big or small) runs deep.

Money challenges can create stress and cause walls to form in a relationship. Financial conflicts have even worse repercussions. Tackling the topic head-on can lead to a deeper understanding of each other’s financial history, emotions and goals for the future.

In fact, talking about personal finance, while not a particularly romantic topic of conversation, builds intimacy in any relationship, according to View full post…

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DIY Home Improvement Project

DIY Home Improvement Project

5 tips for financing your next DIY home improvement project

(BPT) – Whether it’s transforming a fixer-upper into your dream home or just giving a makeover to your kitchen or bathroom, DIY home improvement projects are on the minds of many new homeowners across the country.

While many things about renovating your home are flexible, your budget might not be. In general, not a single floor-board is laid, or a new countertop installed without money, which is why every home renovation project should begin with careful financial planning.

To help homeowners with their renovation projects, Marcus by Goldman Sachs(R) is working with home renovation expert, JoJo Fletcher, to share her budget-friendly home renovation tips.

“Think about small changes you can make if you don’t have the time to take on a big project right now, like freshening up any kitchen by refinishing your cabinets with a bright white coat of paint,” said JoJo Fletcher, ambassador for Marcus by Goldman Sachs(R). “When it comes to financing View full post…

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5 Tips to Save on Healthcare

5 Tips to Save on Healthcare

Healthcare hints: save on healthcare with 5 savings tips for budget-conscious consumers

(BPT) – As Americans work hard to meet all the obligations that come with work, family and everyday life, many are challenged to find time to manage all the financial elements affecting their healthcare.

If you’re among them you’re far from alone, since the multiple details associated with healthcare insurance can be confusing. At the same time, you want to be smart about your financial resources when making decisions about the quality healthcare you and your family need.

Fortunately, by carving out time to research money-saving tips you may be able to minimize your out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. Such out-of-pocket spending rose by more than 50 percent between 2010 and 2017, The Atlantic recently reported, partly because half of all health insurance policyholders in the U.S. are dealing with annual deductibles of at least $1,000.

Whether you’re uninsured or simply facing a high insurance deductible, you can save on healthcare by taking several steps to better manage your healthcare budget. Consider how the following tips may offer you a better sense of control of rising View full post…

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Living On a Budget Without Overspending

Overspending. Who Me? Try Living On a Budget.

Living on a budgedMost of us have asked ourselves that question on numerous occasions, sometimes in disbelief. We never dreamed that it would be possible, until we look at our credit card balances that have been slowly increasing. Would living on a budget prevent that?

Usually, overspending is not a conscious effort. It could start with something as simple as meeting friends on the way to work for a latte. Your cash is spent so you just charge the drink, no big deal.

A couple of times during the week, the same friends suggest that you have dinner with them. You are shocked when the credit card bill arrives and you add up those unplanned charges that total $320.00.

You didn’t realize how easy it was to overspend without being aware of it.  Now how do you tell your friends that you can’t View full post…

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