expenses http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/11371/all en-US How to Handle a Sudden Loss of Income http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-sudden-loss-of-income <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-handle-a-sudden-loss-of-income" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fired_from_work.jpg" alt="Fired from work" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Life happens. Sometimes, life can throw a sudden job loss or drop in income your way. Beyond saving up an emergency fund, you'll need to make a few key moves while you stay afloat. These steps will help minimize the damage and stabilize your finances, quickly.</p> <h2>Alert the people who need to know</h2> <p>There are some exceptions to this rule, but it usually pays to be proactive and honest about your financial situation. If you make the first move and have an honest talk with your landlord, for example, you might be able to negotiate a reduced rent for a few months, set up a split payment agreement, or mutually decide on a later due date for the payment. If you wait until the rent is overdue, and your landlord's patience is already stretched thin, those negotiations might not go so well.</p> <p>It can be intimidating to initiate these conversations; there's no guarantee they'll go your way, and it's humbling to admit that you're struggling financially. However, it's worth the effort. The worst you'll get is a, &quot;No.&quot; In the best case scenario, you may gain some extra time, waive some late fees, or find a much-needed reduction in what you have to pay.</p> <h2>Put payments on hold</h2> <p>If you have automatic payments, particularly large ones, call your bank and put them on hold. While your income is low, you need to assess and prioritize each payment you make, rather than let things flow automatically. You'll also avoid potential overdraft fees by holding those automatic transfers or payments.</p> <p>Some banks charge a fee for putting payments on hold; if that's the case, see if you can put the payment on hold from the payee-side of things rather than through the bank. In other words, if you have an automatic payment scheduled to your insurance provider, for example, and the bank will charge you to put a hold on that auto payment, call your insurance provider and cancel the automatic payment plan until you're ready to reinstate it.</p> <p>Be sure that you keep a spreadsheet or other record of all the payments you put on hold; they still need to be paid. You're just going to manually send those payments according to the best timing for each one. Don't lose track of the payments that need to be sent: Note the amount, the payee information, and the due date for each payment.</p> <p>If you know you'll be late on a bill or payment, call ahead. You may be able to negotiate a temporary, reduced payment plan for credit card debt, car payments, or other bills. Most companies would rather have some money than no money and will work with you, at least to some extent. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a>)</p> <h2>Reduce your expenses</h2> <p>Take a good look at your budget and cut out all but the essentials. This usually means that you're paying bills and handling necessary expenses such as food and fuel in the car. Every other expense goes on hold: clothing, travel, entertainment, and so on need to wait. You can &mdash; and should &mdash; still have fun, but now is the time to opt for free activities. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-budget-overhaul-tricks-for-the-recently-unemployed?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Budget Overhaul Tricks for the Recently Unemployed</a>)</p> <p>For the time being, pay for your expenses in cash. First, you'll stay more aware of what you're spending if you're handing over a stack of bills. Second, you won't be buying things you can't really afford if you're paying cash. You either have the cash, or you don't; no cash, you don't buy it. This is a very simple way to reduce your expenses to the essentials, only.</p> <p>Remember that this is a temporary state of being. It's stressful to deal with income loss, and having to do without your favorite luxuries can make it even more difficult. However, reducing your expenses is key to getting your finances under control. Splurge on free experiences that help you relax and enjoy the moment, such as watching the sunset, taking a walk, meditating, listening to music, or volunteering.</p> <h2>Get money coming in</h2> <p>Now is the time to polish up all your side-hustle skills. You may not be able to get back to your original income level, but you can definitely pay some bills. There are numerous ideas for side gigs; you might start by offering your professional skills within your network. You can tutor, write, advise, consult, pick up a weekend job, do yardwork, become a virtual assistant, or any combination of those. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-best-side-jobs-for-fast-cash?ref=seealso" target="_blank">14 Best Side Jobs for Fast Cash</a>)</p> <p>Side work will help your mentality; it's important to keep working and be active rather than sink into helplessness. And more importantly, side work will bring in some money.</p> <h2>Don't panic</h2> <p>Last, but certainly not least: Don't panic. It's scary to watch your income plummet and your savings dwindle. But a sudden loss of income is not a reflection of your value as a person. It does not define you, and it does not limit your potential or your future. Many people have walked through the financial fire before and come out stronger than ever on the other side. By taking some of these smart steps now, you can start moving along that path yourself.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-sudden-loss-of-income">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-come-up-with-1000-in-the-next-30-days">How to Come Up With $1,000 in the Next 30 Days</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why">You&#039;ve Been Saving Money All Wrong. Here&#039;s Why</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency">6 Fast Ways to Restock an Emergency Fund After an Emergency</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-financial-basics-every-new-grad-should-know">The Financial Basics Every New Grad Should Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-monthly-bills-that-vary-based-on-your-credit-behavior">5 Monthly Bills That Vary Based on Your Credit Behavior</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bills budgeting cutting costs expenses job loss loss of income negotiating payments side jobs Thu, 17 Aug 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Annie Mueller 2003785 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Budget Consistently Without a Steady Paycheck http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-budget-consistently-without-a-steady-paycheck <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-budget-consistently-without-a-steady-paycheck" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-607504814.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to budget with inconsistent income" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Freelancers, small business owners, contractors, and salespeople working on commission all have one thing in common: irregular income. Anyone who has worked in these professions knows the insecure feeling you get when you are lurching from flush months to lean months as work (and on-time payment) waxes and wanes.</p> <p>Since the majority of budgeting advice starts with the assumption of a steady paycheck, it may seem like budgeting is out of reach for the average person with an irregular income. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only can you successfully budget an irregular income, but creating and adhering to a budget can mean the difference between surviving the lean months and thriving through them. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-smart-way-to-budget-on-a-freelance-income?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Smart Way to Budget on a Freelance Income</a>)</p> <p>Here's how to create a budget if your income is inconsistent or irregular.</p> <h2>The cash flow bucket system</h2> <p>Before you even get started, you should know what budgeting success will look like. According to Roger Whitney, certified financial planner and podcaster, &quot;the goal for inconsistent income is to slowly build up your savings to the point where you can pay yourself a regular monthly salary out of your cash reserves.&quot;</p> <p>How do you do this? By using a method called the cash flow bucket system. With this system, instead of having your paychecks deposited into your checking account, they will go into savings. Once a month, you'll transfer the amount you need for expenses and bills into your checking account. This is your own self-created &quot;monthly paycheck.&quot; This system is a great fit for anyone with irregular income, because it keeps excess money from burning a hole in your checking account, and will help you smooth over the irregularities in your income.</p> <p>However, creating a cash flow bucket system can take a little more time with inconsistent income. Here are the steps you need to follow to get this system to work for you.</p> <h3>1. Capture excess income</h3> <p>Before you plunge headlong into depositing all of your income into your savings account, start by putting away excess cash during high-income months. This can take some discipline.</p> <p>Anyone who has received irregular income knows the feeling of being flush when several paychecks or client payments come in all at once. It's very tempting to use that excess income for discretionary spending, especially if you can thank your own hustle for the huge payday. But before you blow the big check on a steak dinner, slow down and remember how tough it is to go grocery shopping with the change you pilfered out of the couch cushions.</p> <p>That's why it's so important to recognize when you are experiencing a flush month and immediately put aside as much of the excess income as you can. The larger your savings account is as you start the cash flow bucket system, the easier it will be for you to smooth over the inconsistency of your income.</p> <h3>2. Determine your minimum budget baseline</h3> <p>The next step is determining your baseline expenses for a regular month. This baseline should be comprised of the expenses that are the absolute essentials for maintaining your life &mdash; such as your rent or mortgage, utility bills, transportation, groceries, and child care.</p> <p>This figure should be relatively easy to calculate. Write down your fixed expenses, such as your rent or mortgage, and estimate the fluctuating expenses, such as utility bills and groceries, by figuring the average cost over the past six to 12 months.</p> <p>When you know your baseline minimum, compare it to your existing savings account balance. Assuming you already have some money saved, you can see how many months' worth of minimum expenses you have set aside in your savings account &mdash; or how much you need to accumulate. It's a good idea to have three to six months' worth saved up, depending on the variability of your income. Just recognizing that you could survive with no money coming in for several months can help ease a great deal of the financial stress that comes with an inconsistent income.</p> <h3>3. Calculate your discretionary expenses</h3> <p>Once you know the bare minimum that you need to have on hand to keep the lights on and everything running, it's time to calculate how much you spend each month on discretionary purchases. This will include your spending on everything from dining out, to entertainment, to your hobbies.</p> <p>It's a good idea to go over several months' worth of bank statements and credit card bills to figure out how much you have spent on average on these discretionary expenses in the past. This way, you can come up with an average monthly discretionary budget.</p> <p>Be prepared to cut your discretionary spending as needed, since that can help you smooth over your inconsistent income more quickly.</p> <p>The best way to pare down discretionary spending is to cut things from easiest to hardest. If you love your weekly movie date with your best friend, then make sure that $15 you spend per week is preserved in your budget. But if you get coffee at the local coffee shop out of habit rather than enjoyment, then be prepared to start brewing your own.</p> <h3>4. Start having your paychecks deposited into savings</h3> <p>Now that you've beefed up your savings account during flush months, and figured out your baseline budget level and monthly discretionary spending, you can start having your payments from clients deposited directly into savings, rather than checking. Then, on the first of each month, transfer your &quot;monthly paycheck&quot; from your savings account into your checking account to pay for your monthly expenses.</p> <p>This is where things differ between someone with a steady paycheck and someone with irregular income. Depending on how much money you have already set aside in your savings account, and how frequently you deal with lean months, early on you may need to decide from month to month whether you will be living on your baseline budget or your baseline budget plus discretionary spending.</p> <p>However, as you build up your cash reserves, you will be able to eventually switch to an automatic transfer of your baseline budget plus discretionary spending.</p> <h3>5. Keep an eye on the system</h3> <p>Your checking account will be nearly depleted by the end of the month, but if you calculated your budget correctly, the money should last you until the first of the following month.</p> <p>If you find you are running short before the end of the month, you will need to look at your expenses to see where your calculation went wrong or your spending was too high. You can also decide to move more money from your savings account into your checking account or end all unnecessary spending until the next month begins.</p> <h3>6. Start saving for the future</h3> <p>The final step of budgeting irregular income is to incorporate saving for the future. While the cash flow bucket system will put excess income into your savings account and hold it for your lean months, it does not take the place of saving for retirement or other financial goals.</p> <p>Once you have reached a point that you have enough savings to consistently pay yourself a monthly salary, factor saving for the future into your monthly budget. Set up an automatic transfer of that amount from your savings account to your retirement fund or (other savings vehicle). Though you won't see that money in your monthly &quot;paycheck,&quot; you will need to factor in the deduction from your savings account.</p> <h2>Budgeting like a boss</h2> <p>Earning an irregular income can feel overwhelming. Not knowing how much you make from one month to the next may seem like a liability. But with the right money management, your irregular income can empower you to take control of your finances, your career, and your life.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-budget-consistently-without-a-steady-paycheck">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income">7 Strategies for Paying Off Debt When Living on a Variable Income</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-financial-questions-you-must-answer-before-going-freelance">6 Financial Questions You Must Answer Before Going Freelance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master">11 Budgeting Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-employed-heres-how-to-get-your-apartment-application-approved">Self-Employed? Here&#039;s How to Get Your Apartment Application Approved</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-its-time-to-close-your-business">5 Signs It&#039;s Time to Close Your Business</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Entrepreneurship contract work expenses freelance inconsistent incomes irregular incomes paychecks saving money self employment Fri, 11 Aug 2017 08:30:05 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1998639 at http://www.wisebread.com What You Need to Know About Homeowners' Associations http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/handing_over_the_key_from_a_new_home.jpg" alt="Handing Over the Key from a New Home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When my husband and I were thinking about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet" target="_blank">buying a house</a>, we toured a lovely home that was on the lower end of our budget. It was gorgeous. It had high-end appliances and the owners had completely updated it. We couldn't believe the price, or that it had been on the market for weeks.</p> <p>We told the realtor we were interested and were ready to make an offer and that's when she told us that the house was part of a homeowners association (HOA). She pulled out a massive binder with the HOA's rules, including what kind of grass we could plant, what kind of fencing was permitted, and what colors we could paint our home.</p> <p>Finally, she dropped one more bomb: The monthly HOA fee was a staggering $600 a month. We quickly gave up any idea of buying that home, but it was a well-learned lesson.</p> <p>Our experience isn't unique. HOAs are increasingly common, and they can be costly. Here's what you need to know about HOAs before buying a home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-deal-with-a-rude-neighbor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Deal With a Rude Neighbor</a>)</p> <h2>HOAs can be costly</h2> <p>HOAs are residential governing bodies that provide certain services to the owners in the community. They are most commonly seen in condominium complexes or townhome communities, but some single-family home neighborhoods may have an HOA, too.</p> <p>HOAs can be very expensive. According to Investopedia, the average monthly HOA fee is $200, yet it can easily reach as high as $700 a month. That amount is completely separate from your mortgage payment, taxes, and homeowners insurance. An HOA can dramatically increase your monthly housing bill.</p> <h2>HOAs vary from community to community</h2> <p>In some communities, HOAs provide many valuable services. They may cut your lawn, maintain building exteriors, provide a community pool, and set rules about community appearance.</p> <p>Other HOAs are more bare-bones; they may only maintain common areas and you're responsible for your own landscaping. Because they can vary so widely from community to community, it's important to do your research and understand what's included in your fee.</p> <h2>HOAs may affect your mortgage application</h2> <p>When you're ready to buy a home, you will need to include the home's information in your mortgage application. Besides factors like your income, down payment, and the home's sale price, the mortgage lender will also ask you about HOA fees.</p> <p>Mortgage companies will include the HOA cost in their evaluation of your application. If the HOA fee worsens your debt-to-income ratio, they won't give you a loan.</p> <h2>What happens if you fall behind on HOA payments?</h2> <p>Depending on where you live, the consequences for falling behind on your HOA payments can be severe.</p> <p>When you first miss a payment, your HOA may charge you a late fee. If they still don't receive payment, they may send your debt to collections, which can damage your credit report. They can also ban you from using community amenities, such as the neighborhood pool or fitness center, until you pay what you owe.</p> <p>An HOA can also file a lien on your property. That means if you sell the home, the HOA gets their share before you get any of the money from the sale.</p> <p>Some states also allow an HOA to evict homeowners if they become delinquent on their payments. And in some areas, they can even foreclose on your property.</p> <p>These consequences can have long-lasting effects, and can cost you thousands in late fees, interest charges, and even legal fees. That's why it's so important to ensure the HOA payment is well within your budget before buying a home.</p> <h2>Do your research</h2> <p>Buying a house is a huge decision. Besides factors like price, school district, and taxes, make sure you research the community's HOA and its rules. Depending on your area, your HOA fees can add thousands to your housing costs and can cause plenty of headaches.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/house-hunting-these-features-will-save-you-big-over-the-long-haul">House Hunting? These Features Will Save You Big Over the Long Haul</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-should-be-saving-big-with-bi-weekly-mortgage-payments">Why You Should Be Saving Big With Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-hoas">What You Need to Know About HOAs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-hidden-costs-of-buying-an-old-house">23 Hidden Costs of Buying an Old House</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing amenities buying a house community debt to income ratio expenses fees HOA homeowners association homeownership house hunting mortgage Wed, 09 Aug 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Kat Tretina 1986885 at http://www.wisebread.com House Hunting? These Features Will Save You Big Over the Long Haul http://www.wisebread.com/house-hunting-these-features-will-save-you-big-over-the-long-haul <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/house-hunting-these-features-will-save-you-big-over-the-long-haul" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_young_family.jpg" alt="Happy young family" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Shopping for a house is stressful. You're trying to find the best home, in the best area, for the best price. Making your budget match your wish list is overwhelming, but take heart. It's not about finding the perfect house; it's about finding a house you can make into a safe, comfortable home that isn't going to cost you loads to repair and maintain. Here are the features to look for that can save you costly headaches and give you the most value while you live there.</p> <h2>Energy-efficient features</h2> <p>An energy-efficient home is not only better for the environment, it's better for your budget. Certain energy-efficient features will save you a lot more in the long run than others.</p> <h3>Insulated ductwork</h3> <p>Ductwork often leaks out so much heating or air conditioning that it adds significantly to your utility bill. Experts say that by insulating the ducts, you can cut the cost of running the HVAC system by up to 30 percent.</p> <h3>Modern HVAC systems</h3> <p>Speaking of HVAC systems, if you purchase a home with a modern unit, it's a value-added feature. Older HVAC units (20 years or older for heating units, 10 years or older for air conditioning units) are inefficient. Newer models, even if they're not top-of-the-line, can give you a utility bill that's 10 percent to 20 percent lower.</p> <h3>Efficient windows</h3> <p>Look for newer, double-paned windows or exterior storm windows installed over the original interior windows. Windows can be quite pricey to replace, so it's best if you can find a house with efficient ones already installed. About 30 percent of your home's air conditioning and heating can disappear out of your windows. Purchasing a house with newer windows already installed can reduce your energy bill by 12 percent to 33 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Department.</p> <h3>Window treatments</h3> <p>Window treatments won't prevent air leakage, but they can reduce heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter. Look for exterior awnings, particularly on the south- and west-facing windows, where they can reduce solar heat gain by 65 percent to 77 percent, according to the Energy Department.</p> <p>Interior, well-fitted blinds or drapes can also help with energy costs, reducing heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. However, it's not very expensive to install these yourself, so don't make this item a deal-breaker.</p> <h2>Design features</h2> <p>The way a house is designed and built can determine how well it ages and how costly any future repair work might be. Keep your eye on these features for the best long-term value.</p> <h3>Accessible plumbing</h3> <p>Look for plumbing that's reachable through a crawl space, basement, and outdoor access points. The more work you have to do to access mainlines, the more costly any plumbing repairs will be in the future. Inaccessible plumbing can also mean that leaks or clogs are difficult to find, which can prolong plumbing problems and add to the total cost of repair.</p> <h3>Updated wiring</h3> <p>In houses that are more than 40 years old, wiring can be outdated and dangerous. Replacing it is an expensive, involved project. In older homes, find out when the electrical system was last inspected. Find out if there is any aluminum wiring (which can become a fire hazard as connections age and deteriorate), and if there is adequate amperage in the house. Many older homes used a 60 amp standard, but most modern households need around 200 amps to keep everything running.</p> <h3>Structural soundness</h3> <p>From floor joists to support beams, structural features cost a lot to repair. Some structural problems can be covered up by unscrupulous sellers.</p> <p>In this case, it's not about the features you want, but the telltale signs you don't want:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Squeaking, uneven floors.</p> </li> <li> <p>Ill-fitted doors and windows that are difficult to open and close.</p> </li> <li> <p>Large cracks in the home's exterior, particularly if they don't follow the mortar and/or if they are larger at the top and taper down.</p> </li> <li> <p>Cracks in the interior walls above doorways.</p> </li> <li> <p>Warped or sagging ceilings.</p> </li> <li> <p>Exposed gaps between walls.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Outdoor features</h2> <p>Just as important as the house itself is the area around the house. The yard, greenery, and hardscaping, such as sidewalks and walls, affect the value of the house and the cost of ongoing maintenance.</p> <h3>Shade trees</h3> <p>Trees will help reduce energy costs by providing shade from the hot summer sun and acting as a windbreak in cold winter months.</p> <p>There's a caveat here: You want strong, tall trees that will provide shade, but you don't want them too close to your house. Shade is good; a heavy tree branch falling on your roof during a storm is not good. Look for healthy, well-established trees. Bonus points if they're planted on the south or west side of the house.</p> <h3>Smart landscaping</h3> <p>Look for landscaping that works with the natural contours of the yard and the climate. A lush flower garden may look great, but if you have to water it daily to keep it alive in your arid, hot climate, it's not a smart choice.</p> <p>Landscaping should direct water flow away from the house as well. Drainage issues in the yard or hardscaping around the house can be very costly to fix, but failing to fix them can lead to even more costly water damage inside the house. If you're getting serious about the house, drive by or arrange a visit with your realtor after a heavy rain.</p> <h2>Lifestyle features</h2> <p>To get the most value in a house, you must know thyself. If you're an avid cook, a large, well-equipped kitchen may be worth a higher price. But if you hardly spend time in the kitchen, why spend money on a large one?</p> <p>Choose a home with the features that matter for the lifestyle you live now, not the magazine-promoted lifestyle you think you ought to live someday.</p> <p>Take inventory of how you spend most of your time in your current home. Is there an unused dining room, or a too-large bedroom just taking up space? Don't shop for a house by room count or square footage. Shop for a house that fits the way you live your life, and you'll end up with a house that brings you the most possible value.</p> <h2>What doesn't matter</h2> <p>Part of selling a house is making it look as good as possible. All too often potential buyers are wowed by the fresh paint, new carpet, and shiny new light fixtures, and miss the bigger issues. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-6-home-d-cor-flaws-ruin-your-house-hunt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Let These 6 Home Décor Flaws Ruin Your House Hunt</a>)</p> <p>Here's a short list of things that are nice to have, but shouldn't impress you with their value:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Freshly painted walls, ceilings, or trim. Paint is cheap, and with a little time and work, you can put a fresh coat on anything you want. Unless there are issues with lead paint, don't let paint impress you much either way.</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>New or custom fittings, light fixtures, and fans. Nice touches, but they won't make your house significantly more valuable. You can upgrade these yourself for reasonable prices.</p> </li> <li> <p>Decor elements. Whether it's trim work or cabinet refinishing, decor can be upgraded on your timeline and budget without a major effect on the house's value.</p> </li> <li> <p>Smart thermostats. A good upgrade, but one that's fairly inexpensive and easy to add yourself.</p> </li> </ul> <p>You don't have to find a house with all of these features. But knowing which ones will bring you value can help you adjust your expectations &mdash; and your purchase offer &mdash; accordingly.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhouse-hunting-these-features-will-save-you-big-over-the-long-haul&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHouse%2520Hunting-%2520These%2520Features%2520Will%2520Save%2520You%2520Big%2520Over%2520the%2520Long%2520Haul.jpg&amp;description=House%20Hunting%3F%20These%20Features%20Will%20Save%20You%20Big%20Over%20the%20Long%20Haul"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/House%20Hunting-%20These%20Features%20Will%20Save%20You%20Big%20Over%20the%20Long%20Haul.jpg" alt="House Hunting? These Features Will Save You Big Over the Long Haul" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/house-hunting-these-features-will-save-you-big-over-the-long-haul">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations">What You Need to Know About Homeowners&#039; Associations</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-youll-hate-about-your-next-house">14 Things You&#039;ll Hate About Your Next House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage">4 Ways to Buy a House Without a Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect">10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don&#039;t Expect</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-6-home-d-cor-flaws-ruin-your-house-hunt">Don&#039;t Let These 6 Home Décor Flaws Ruin Your House Hunt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing decor energy efficiency expenses features homeownership house hunting hvac landscaping new house value Windows Tue, 01 Aug 2017 08:30:12 +0000 Annie Mueller 1990800 at http://www.wisebread.com The Financial Basics Every New Grad Should Know http://www.wisebread.com/the-financial-basics-every-new-grad-should-know <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-financial-basics-every-new-grad-should-know" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/thoughtful_graduate_student_woman_looking_at_light_bulb.jpg" alt="Thoughtful graduate student woman looking at light bulb" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're a recent college grad, congratulations. As you settle into your first job, you'll probably have more money flowing through your life than ever before.</p> <p>Take a minute to think of your financial potential. Let's say your starting salary is $45,000. If you're 21 years old, earn a 3 percent raise each year, and work until you're 70, you will have made nearly $5 million by the time you retire! (To use your actual salary and change other assumptions, use <a href="https://www.calcxml.com/calculators/ins07" target="_blank">this lifetime earnings calculator</a>.)</p> <p>Here are seven ideas for making the most of your financial potential.</p> <h2>Plan to succeed</h2> <p>To be intentional about your use of money, you need a plan. That's right, you need a budget &mdash; or as I prefer to call it, a cash flow plan. Today, free tools such as Mint.com make the process relatively painless.</p> <p>There are three key activities involved in using a budget: planning, tracking, and adjusting. First, figure out how much of your income you need to allocate to housing, food, clothing, and all the rest of your expenses. Your income will determine how much you have for discretionary spending on, say, entertainment.</p> <p>Then, keep track of your expenses. You can jot them in a notebook or spreadsheet, or link a tool like Mint to your checking account and credit cards, so it can do much of the tracking for you.</p> <p>Don't be discouraged if you don't hit your numbers each and every month. Your assumptions may have been unrealistic. Plus, your goals and circumstances will change, so the amounts you allocate for various categories will need to be adjusted over time as well.</p> <h2>Put some away</h2> <p>The key to building wealth is to set aside a portion of every dollar you earn for saving and investing. There are two separate types of savings that are important.</p> <p>First, there's an emergency fund. In life, stuff happens. An important way to avoid going into debt for that stuff is to have some money set aside in savings. Financial advisers often recommend your emergency fund have enough to cover three to six months' worth of essential living expenses.</p> <p>But when you're just starting out, you probably have relatively few breakable moving parts in your life. For example, renting an apartment is less financially risky than owning a home. If that's you, having three months' worth of expenses in savings is probably enough.</p> <p>The second type of savings is for periodic expenses. These are expenses that occur every year, but not every month &mdash; things like a semiannual car insurance premium, end-of-year holiday gifts, or a vacation. Take the annual total of each of these items, divide by 12, and then put that much in savings each month. That way, when the expense comes due, you'll have the money already set aside.</p> <h2>Invest for your future</h2> <p>A little bit of money invested each month for a long time and at a decent rate of return will eventually turn into a lot of money you can use for retirement. Using our earlier assumptions (age 21, starting salary of $45,000, and a 3 percent annual raise), if you invest 10 percent of your salary (a good target) and generate an average annual return of 7 percent, by the time you're 70, you will have built a retirement nest egg of $2.7 million!</p> <p>Bottom line? If your employer offers a workplace retirement plan, such as a 401(k), sign up as soon as possible. And don't miss out on any matching money.</p> <h2>Keep your biggest expense under control</h2> <p>Aim to spend no more than 25 percent of your monthly gross income on housing &mdash; even better if you can keep it to no more than 20 percent. If you own, that's the combination of your mortgage, insurance, and property taxes. If you rent, that's the combination of your rent, insurance, and utilities.</p> <p>Keeping your housing costs within that range will give you the margin you need to save, invest, and enjoy financial peace of mind.</p> <h2>Avoid a car payment</h2> <p>Vehicles depreciate in value quickly, so avoid financing them. If you can't pay cash right away, see if you can go without a car, at least while you save up for one. That may be viable if you live in a city with good public transportation. If not, get the least expensive used car that's highly rated by Consumer Reports.</p> <p>You're not looking for something flashy. You're looking for a car you can pay off quickly and keep for a long time. By the time you need to replace it, the combination of your savings and the value you'll still be able to get when trading in your current car should enable you to afford a nicer car.</p> <h2>Choose your bank or credit union carefully</h2> <p>Too often, people choose where to open a checking account based on which bank has the best promotion. Once you go to the trouble of setting up online bill-pay with your utilities, insurance providers, and others, the hassle factor involved in changing banks goes up a lot. So, choose carefully.</p> <p>If you use an ATM frequently, you'll want a bank with lots of ATM locations. And you'll probably want a bank that doesn't charge a fee for a low balance.</p> <h2>Get a credit card</h2> <p>Having a credit card in your own name will help you start building a credit score, which is beneficial for everything from getting a job to paying the least for insurance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <p>If you don't have a credit card already, see if you could get one through your bank. If not, a retailer may be more willing to approve you &mdash; but retail cards are notorious for having high interest rates, so make sure you pay off your bills quickly. If you still have trouble, look into getting a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-secured-credit-cards" target="_blank">secured card</a>. With a secured card, you'll have to put down a deposit, which will usually be equal to your credit limit.</p> <p>Just be sure to be responsible. That means using your credit card only for preplanned, budgeted expenses, recording any charges in your budget right away, and paying the balance on time and in full each month.</p> <p>If you take the steps and build the habits described above, you'll give yourself the best possible chance of making the most of your financial potential.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-financial-basics-every-new-grad-should-know&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%2520Financial%2520Basics%2520Every%2520New%2520Grad%2520Should%2520Know.jpg&amp;description=The%20Financial%20Basics%20Every%20New%20Grad%20Should%20Know"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%20Financial%20Basics%20Every%20New%20Grad%20Should%20Know.jpg" alt="The Financial Basics Every New Grad Should Know" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-financial-basics-every-new-grad-should-know">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-12-month-get-richer-plan">The 12-Month Get-Richer Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-personal-finance-skills-everyone-should-master">12 Personal Finance Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-youve-become-a-financial-grownup">How to Tell You&#039;ve Become a Financial Grownup</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-come-up-with-1000-in-the-next-30-days">How to Come Up With $1,000 in the Next 30 Days</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required">How to Manage Your Money — No Budgeting Required</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance advice budgeting college graduates expenses financial planning grads investing money management retirement saving money tips Fri, 21 Jul 2017 08:00:11 +0000 Matt Bell 1988263 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Countries Where You Can Retire for $1,000 a Month http://www.wisebread.com/5-countries-where-you-can-retire-for-1000-a-month <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-countries-where-you-can-retire-for-1000-a-month" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_senior_couple_talking_a_walk_in_park.jpg" alt="Happy senior couple talking a walk in park" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of us have dreams of retiring to a life of leisure, with a nest egg that will enable us to live comfortably. But according to the Government Accountability Office, up to <a href="http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-419" target="_blank">two-thirds of workers</a> are potentially at risk of not maintaining the same standard of living they enjoyed pre-retirement.</p> <p>Moving to a new country to live out your retirement could provide the perfect solution. <a href="https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/rankings_by_country.jsp" target="_blank">Numbeo's Cost of Living Index</a> has the U.S. listed as the 18th most expensive country to live in, meaning retirees have a huge number of cheaper countries to select from. Here are five countries where you can retire on $1,000 per month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-countries-that-welcome-american-retirees?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Countries That Welcome American Retirees</a>)</p> <h2>1. Thailand</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/sukhothai_temple_lake_panorama.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Thailand is best known for its tropical islands and exciting big cities, but it's also a destination where an increasing number of overseas retirees are settling down. It's got the magic combination of being well-developed while maintaining very low living costs.</p> <p>Grocery costs are well-priced and good quality, and fresh produce is widely available. According to Numbeo, the average price of a loaf of bread is $1, a dozen eggs is $1.80, and a pound of rice costs just 60 cents. A three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant costs $20.60, so you'll also be able to enjoy regular evenings out.</p> <p>The transport infrastructure in Thailand is also good, with tuk tuks, taxis, and public transport providing easy ways to get around. Costs are also low, with Numbeo suggesting the flag fare for an average one-way taxi ride is about $1 plus 28 cents per mile after that.</p> <p><strong>Typical fixed costs per month:</strong></p> <ul> <li> <p>Rent for one-bed apartment city center: $615</p> </li> <li> <p>Utilities: $84</p> </li> <li> <p>Internet: $18</p> </li> </ul> <h2>2. Bolivia</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/copacabana.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Although not the most fashionable country in South America, Bolivia is a great retirement option for outdoor lovers. From the Amazon rain forest to the Andes Mountains, there's an abundance of beautiful landscapes to explore. It's also one of the most affordable countries in South America.</p> <p>The cheapest place to buy fresh produce is from the local markets throughout the country, but there are also many supermarkets with wider selections of international goods. Numbeo lists the average price of a loaf of bread as 92 cents, a dozen eggs for $1.40, and a pound of rice at 60 cents. Splashing out on a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost $25.</p> <p>Transport systems in Bolivia are not the most advanced, but there are good public bus networks and inexpensive taxi services in most areas. According to Numbeo, the average cost of a one way bus fare is 32 cents, and the starting fare for a taxi is $1.45 with $2.33 added for each mile.</p> <p><strong>Typical fixed costs per month:</strong></p> <ul> <li> <p>Rent for one-bed apartment city center: $290</p> </li> <li> <p>Utilities: $43</p> </li> <li> <p>Internet: $70</p> </li> </ul> <h2>3. Nicaragua</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/cathedral_of_granada_nicaragua.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Central America's largest country has become a popular destination for retirees in recent years. The scenery is dramatic and lush, with numerous volcanoes peppering the countryside, verdant rain forest covering large portions, and coastal areas lined with white sand beaches.</p> <p>Between the markets and the major supermarkets, one of which is owned by Walmart, it's possible to get virtually everything you're used to in the U.S. The average price, according to Numbeo, for a loaf of bread is $1.50, a dozen eggs runs $1.63, and a pound of rice 43 cents. A three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will run you $30.</p> <p>Buses, taxis, and mototaxis are the most popular and inexpensive forms of transportation, with many of the buses being the familiar old yellow school buses imported from the U.S. Numbeo lists the average fare as just 35 cents, while the starting tariff for taxis is $1 and an extra $1.64 per mile after that.</p> <p><strong>Typical fixed costs per month:</strong></p> <ul> <li> <p>Rent for one-bed apartment city center: $273</p> </li> <li> <p>Utilities: $119</p> </li> <li> <p>Internet: $70</p> </li> </ul> <h2>4. Malaysia</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/sunset_over_tea_plantation_in_malaysia.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Year-round warm temperatures, stunning beaches, and diverse, bustling cities make this a great choice for people on the lookout for top spots to retire. Thanks to English being spoken by virtually everyone, it's an easy place to get by without learning a new language.</p> <p>Though it's easy to get your hands on international branded goods, local produce is far cheaper and of good quality. The average price for a loaf of bread is 70 cents, a dozen eggs will cost you $1.24, and a pound of rice is available for 56 cents, according to Numbeo. Eating out is a particular pleasure is Malaysia, thanks to the unique fusion of cuisines found here. It's also cheap at just $16 for a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant.</p> <p>Kuala Lumpur, the capital, is well connected by trains and buses, while the rest of the country is serviced by good bus networks. The average price of a one way train fare is 70 cents, and taxis are also a price-effective option, with starting tariffs of 70 cents and a per-mile cost of just 56 cents.</p> <p><strong>Typical fixed costs per month:</strong></p> <ul> <li> <p>Rent for one-bed apartment city center: $557</p> </li> <li> <p>Utilities: $50</p> </li> <li> <p>Internet: $38</p> </li> </ul> <h2>5. Georgia</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/view_over_the_city_of_tbilisi_georgia.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>No, we're not talking about the state tucked down in the southeast of the U.S., but a tiny nation that lies on the edges of both Europe and Asia. Though it's little known, it's growing in popularity, especially among retirees, thanks to its beautiful countryside and extremely low cost of living.</p> <p>Georgia is known for its abundance of fresh produce, as well as reputedly being the birthplace of wine. Both are extremely cheap in this country, as are most groceries on offer. A loaf of bread is just 31 cents, a dozen eggs come in at $1.47, and a pound of rice at 36 cents. Eating out is also reasonable at $21 for a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant.</p> <p>Transport in the capital Tbilisi is excellent, with a metro system as well as good bus links and cost-effective taxis. Elsewhere in the country buses and trains are easy to use. The average fare is just 20 cents, and taxis start at $1.25 with 33 cents per mile after that.</p> <p><strong>Typical fixed costs per month:</strong></p> <ul> <li> <p>Rent for one-bed apartment city center: $310</p> </li> <li> <p>Utilities: $60</p> </li> <li> <p>Internet: $11.20</p> </li> </ul> <p>(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retire-for-half-the-cost-in-these-5-countries?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Retire for Half the Cost in These 5 Countries</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-countries-where-you-can-retire-for-1000-a-month&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Countries%2520Where%2520You%2520Can%2520Retire%2520for%25201%252C000%2520dollars%2520a%2520Month.jpg&amp;description=5%20Countries%20Where%20You%20Can%20Retire%20for%201%2C000%20Dollars%20a%20Month"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Countries%20Where%20You%20Can%20Retire%20for%201%2C000%20dollars%20a%20Month.jpg" alt="5 Countries Where You Can Retire for $1,000 a Month" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-countries-where-you-can-retire-for-1000-a-month">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-almost-anyone-can-afford-to-retire-in-mexico">How Almost Anyone Can Afford to Retire in Mexico</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retire-for-half-the-cost-in-these-5-countries">Retire for Half the Cost in These 5 Countries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-countries-where-you-can-travel-on-30-a-day-or-less">7 Countries Where You Can Travel on $30 a Day or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-expenses-spoil-your-retirement-abroad">Don&#039;t Let These Expenses Spoil Your Retirement Abroad</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-saved-enough-for-a-down-payment-while-working-in-china">How I Saved Enough for a Down Payment While Working in China</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Travel abroad affordable Asia cost of living countries Europe expats expenses food costs international transportation Tue, 11 Jul 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Nick Wharton 1978059 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways You Can Cut Costs Right Before You Retire http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-you-can-cut-costs-right-before-you-retire-0 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-you-can-cut-costs-right-before-you-retire-0" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_discussing_home_economics_0.jpg" alt="Couple discussing home economics" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Worried about covering your daily living expenses in retirement? You're far from alone. A study released late last year by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that only a small percentage of U.S. workers are &quot;very confident&quot; about being able to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle.</p> <p>If you have some doubts about how you're going to fund your retirement years, there are some steps you can take now, in the years leading up to your retirement, to prepare yourself financially for the day in which you leave the workforce. By reducing these expenses before you retire, you'll give yourself the chance to boost your retirement savings in the last few years before you leave the working world.</p> <p>You'll also take an important first step toward setting up a post-retirement lifestyle that might, depending upon how much you've saved, require you to cut back on many of the expenses you take for granted today.</p> <h2>1. Housing</h2> <p>The cost of housing, of course, is the biggest financial burden that most people face. Bringing a mortgage with you into retirement can cause plenty of financial stress each month. But even if you are no longer paying off a mortgage, the cost of maintaining a large single-family home can be high.</p> <p>If you still have a mortgage, it might make sense to pay it off before you leave the working world. If you can't afford to do that, you might consider selling your home. If you have enough equity in your residence, you might be able to use the profits to buy a downsized residence &mdash; maybe a condo unit &mdash; in cash.</p> <p>If you've already paid off your mortgage, you'll have more flexibility. If your home requires too much maintenance, or if your property taxes and homeowners insurance are too high, you can sell and move into a smaller residence that requires less maintenance or a condo building that comes with far lower property taxes.</p> <p>You'll no longer need to worry about living in a higher-taxed area with better public schools, so finding a residence with lower annual property taxes shouldn't be too much of a struggle. And if you purchase a smaller home or condo, your annual homeowners insurance bill won't be as high.</p> <h2>2. Insurance</h2> <p>Now might be a good time to review how much you are spending each year on your insurance.</p> <p>First, if you no longer have any dependents who'd need financial help after you die, you can drop any life insurance coverage you might still have. That can immediately save you a significant sum of money each year.</p> <p>You'll no longer need disability insurance, either, after you leave the workforce. Don't drop disability before you retire, but do figure that the cost of this insurance will disappear once you stop working.</p> <p>You might also look at the deductibles you've set up for your auto and homeowners insurance policies. It makes sense to set your deductibles low when you are working. If you have a deductible of $250 for your auto insurance policy, for instance, you'll have to pay for the first $250 in costs after an accident while your auto insurer will cover anything after that.</p> <p>But lower deductibles increase the amount you pay in insurance premiums. When you raise your deductibles, you'll pay less for your auto and homeowners' insurance policies. By the time you reach your retirement age, you might have enough saved to cover these higher deductibles, and moving to lower payments for your insurance policies might help you cover your daily living expenses.</p> <h2>3. Credit card debt</h2> <p>One of the biggest burdens on your retirement could be credit card debt. This debt comes with high interest rates &mdash; as high as 20 percent or more in some cases &mdash; and can grow quickly. If you carry a balance on your cards from month to month, you'll be stuck paying that minimum required monthly payment every time your credit card bills come due.</p> <p>If you have a lot of credit card debt, it's important to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">pay off as much as possible</a> as you approach retirement. You can do this using one of three tested approaches: the debt snowball, debt avalanche, or debt snowflake method.</p> <p>In the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-to-mastering-the-debt-snowball?ref=internal" target="_blank">snowball method</a>, you list your credit card debts from smallest to largest. You then take any extra money you have and focus on paying off the smallest bill first. Once you've paid off that bill, you'll move on to your next smallest credit card bill and pay that one off.</p> <p>In the avalanche method, you organize your credit card bills by interest rate, from high to low. You then use any extra money to pay off the card with the highest interest rate as quickly as possible. Once you pay off that card, you then move to the card with the next highest rate.</p> <p>If if you find yourself struggling to come up with large debt payments, the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-out-of-debt-faster-with-the-debt-snowflake?ref=internal" target="_blank">snowflake method</a> may work well for you. In this strategy, you'll look for ways to shave dollars off of everyday expenses, such as groceries or gas. You'll then use those savings to make small but frequent payments on your credit card debt. Every little bit helps.</p> <h2>4. Your cars</h2> <p>Cars are expensive. Not only do you have to pay for their upkeep and gas, but you also need to insure them. Going from two cars to one or downgrading to a less expensive car can help you dramatically reduce your daily living expenses.</p> <p>If you can swing it, going from two cars to one will reduce the amount you pay each year in auto insurance. But maybe you can't do this while you are still working. If not, you can still downgrade from a more expensive car to one with lower monthly payments and lower insurance costs.</p> <p>Consider this carefully, though. If you've paid off your car, it probably makes more sense to live with it for as long as you can. That way, you won't have to worry about monthly car payments. If you are still making payments on it, though, downgrading to a nice but less costly vehicle might be a good way to reduce your daily living expenses even while you're still working.</p> <h2>5. Dining out</h2> <p>The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2015, the average U.S. household spent $3,008 on restaurant meals and take-out food. This should inspire you to look at how much money you spend each month on eating out.</p> <p>It's not that you should never eat out. But if you are worried about covering your daily living expenses once you retire, reducing the number of times you dine out at a restaurant is one monthly expense that you can easily control.</p> <p>Instead of eating out whenever you'd like, try budgeting each month for a certain number of restaurant meals. Then don't break that budget. Doing this before you retire will help build your discipline for the days in which you are no longer working.</p> <h2>6. Entertainment</h2> <p>Going to the movies instead of streaming one at home. Taking several vacations a year. The most expensive cable subscription with the most channels. All that entertainment adds up. You can significantly reduce your expenses before retirement by spending less on entertaining yourself.</p> <p>You might think you're depriving yourself, but streaming a movie can be just as much fun as going to the theater, and it can save you plenty of dollars. You can even rent movies for free from your local library or through the online rental services that many public libraries now feature. Why not take a break from that big expensive trip for the next few years and take smaller weekend jaunts instead? You can then save the money you would have spent so that you have more to spend in your retirement years.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-ways-you-can-cut-costs-right-before-you-retire-0&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Ways%2520You%2520Can%2520Cut%2520Costs%2520Right%2520Before%2520You%2520Retire.jpg&amp;description=6%20Ways%20You%20Can%20Cut%20Costs%20Right%20Before%20You%20Retire"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Ways%20You%20Can%20Cut%20Costs%20Right%20Before%20You%20Retire.jpg" alt="6 Ways You Can Cut Costs Right Before You Retire" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-you-can-cut-costs-right-before-you-retire-0">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-come-up-with-1000-in-the-next-30-days">How to Come Up With $1,000 in the Next 30 Days</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why">You&#039;ve Been Saving Money All Wrong. Here&#039;s Why</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-are-people-retiring-in-their-30s">How Are People Retiring in Their 30s?!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-expenses-will-probably-cost-you-a-lot-less-in-retirement">These 5 Expenses Will Probably Cost You a Lot Less in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-youre-making-all-the-right-money-moves">6 Signs You&#039;re Making All the Right Money Moves</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Retirement Cars cutting costs debt entertainment expenses food costs housing saving money Tue, 04 Jul 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Dan Rafter 1974324 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 New Reasons You Need an Emergency Fund http://www.wisebread.com/4-new-reasons-you-need-an-emergency-fund <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-new-reasons-you-need-an-emergency-fund" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/emergency_fund_money_jar_filled_with_american_currency.jpg" alt="Emergency fund money jar filled with American currency" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You need an emergency fund: You've probably been told this plenty of times before, and you maybe haven't taken it as seriously as you should have.</p> <p>Well, some fresh data from 2017 proves that &hellip; yes, you really do need an emergency fund! If you've delayed stashing that money away, now is the time to start.</p> <h2>1. Potentially higher health care costs under AHCA</h2> <p>Let's start with a big-ticket item: health care. Under the current administration, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is adjusting several items from its predecessor, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.</p> <p>Depending on several factors, including your age, and income level, and where you live, you may end up paying more or less under the AHCA than you did under the ACA. Those who are older, have a lower income, and live in an area with higher premiums are likely to pay more under the AHCA. For example, while a 40-year-old resident of Cherry County, Nebraska making $50,000 per year would pay 21 percent more in health premiums under the AHCA, a 27-year-old resident of Tulare County, California would pay 26 percent <em>less</em>.</p> <p>To get an idea of how much you would in pay under the AHCA, use this <a href="http://kff.org/interactive/tax-credits-under-the-affordable-care-act-vs-replacement-proposal-interactive-map/" target="_blank">predictor tool</a> from the Kaiser Family Foundation and get more information from your current health plan provider. Having an emergency fund would allow you to be ready to cover not only medical emergencies, but also the potential hike in those health care premiums.</p> <h2>2. Worrying about finances makes you less productive at work</h2> <p>According to recent data from the Employment Benefit Research Institute, three in 10 American workers claim they worry about personal finance at their workplace. Even worse, over 50 percent of those workers believe that time spent fretting about money is making them less productive for their employers.</p> <p>If you belong to this group of workers, then you would regain peace of mind at work with an emergency fund. By knowing that you could cover your necessities for three to six months if you were to lose your job, you would be able to focus on performing better and increasing your chance of a raise.</p> <h2>3. Average credit card APR is on the rise</h2> <p>What do you do when you don't have money to cover surprise expenses, such as the water heater breaking or the car going on the fritz? Most people without an emergency fund turn to a credit card.</p> <p>Well, here is some bad news: A CreditCards.com survey found that the average credit card APR had reached a record 15.89 percent as of June 14, 2017. If your credit score is less than perfect, you can expect to pay an interest rate even higher than that average.</p> <p>Remember, the whole point of having an emergency fund is to lower your financial risk. By using a credit card as an emergency fund, you're only adding risk to your personal finances.</p> <h2>4. Opportunity only comes around so often</h2> <p>Many people think of an emergency fund as a &quot;rainy day fund.&quot; However, others think of it as an &quot;opportunity fund&quot; &mdash; a way to never miss out on a great opportunity for want of cash. And while an emergency fund should never be thought of as play money, if you have enough saved, you can use some of that cash to fund a special opportunity that may not come again. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-opportunity-funds-are-the-new-emergency-funds?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why &quot;Opportunity&quot; Funds Are the New Emergency Funds</a>)</p> <p>Here are some examples:</p> <ul> <li> <p>You have the chance to refinance your mortgage to a lower rate (and lower your monthly payment!), but you don't have any savings to cover the necessary $2,000 to $3,000 closing costs. Luckily, there's enough in your emergency fund to help you go through with the refi.</p> </li> <li> <p>You've had a lifelong dream of taking a two-week trip around Europe, but the tour company that you like is a little out of your price range. They offer a limited-time discount, and you pull some money from your emergency fund to take that trip of a lifetime.</p> </li> <li> <p>The refrigerator that you've had since college has been jacking up your electricity bill for years. You discover that you could slash your monthly bill by 40 percent <em>and </em>get an energy rebate from the state government if you were to buy a more energy-efficient model. You don't have the money upfront, and the rebate expires next month &hellip; but there's enough in your emergency fund.</p> </li> </ul> <p>The list goes on. An emergency fund is usually a building block to achieve financial security, but it could also allow you to gain financial freedom. Once you gain the discipline to save enough to cover your necessities in case of an emergency, you may be able to continue to save in case of a seizable opportunity &mdash; or even a lifelong dream.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F4-new-reasons-you-need-an-emergency-fund&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F4%2520New%2520Reasons%2520You%2520Need%2520an%2520Emergency%2520Fund.jpg&amp;description=4%20New%20Reasons%20You%20Need%20an%20Emergency%20Fund"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/4%20New%20Reasons%20You%20Need%20an%20Emergency%20Fund.jpg" alt="4 New Reasons You Need an Emergency Fund" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-new-reasons-you-need-an-emergency-fund">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-sudden-loss-of-income">How to Handle a Sudden Loss of Income</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-places-to-check-out-medical-care-for-the-uninsured">5 Places to Check out Medical Care for the Uninsured</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-for-retirement-when-you-are-unemployed">How to Save for Retirement When You Are Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-financial-basics-every-new-grad-should-know">The Financial Basics Every New Grad Should Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-you-can-cut-costs-right-before-you-retire-0">6 Ways You Can Cut Costs Right Before You Retire</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance APR emergency fund expenses health care interest rates job loss opportunity fund rainy day fund saving money stress surprises Thu, 29 Jun 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1973594 at http://www.wisebread.com How an HSA Could Help Your Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-could-help-your-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-an-hsa-could-help-your-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/hsa_theme_with_stethoscope_and_a_piggy_bank.jpg" alt="HSA theme with stethoscope and a piggy bank" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're worried about medical expenses during your retirement, you're not alone. According to the latest Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 45 percent of American workers don't feel confident that they will have enough money to take care of their medical expenses when they retire.</p> <p>The good news is that you may be able to do something on top of socking away money into your 401(k) or IRA to plan ahead for your medical bills during retirement. Let's review what a health savings account (HSA) is and how it can help your retirement planning. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How an HSA Saves You Money</a>)</p> <h2>What is an HSA?</h2> <p>An HSA is a tax-advantaged medical savings account available only to people who are enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). An HDHP is health insurance that has a lower monthly premium, but a high deductible. A deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket for medical expenses before your health insurance kicks in.</p> <p>An HSA helps you pay for qualified medical expenses such as doctors' visits and prescriptions that are not reimbursed by your HDHP. The beauty of an HSA is that you can contribute to it with pretax dollars by setting aside a portion of every paycheck, allowing you to reduce your taxable income. Depending on where you set up your HSA, you may be able to invest the money in mutual funds or other investments to help the funds grow faster. Whatever money you don't use during the year rolls over into the following year, meaning you could have a nice amount built up by the time you retire.</p> <p>For your insurance plan to qualify as an HDHP &mdash; one that allows you to use an HSA &mdash; the HDHP must have a deductible of at least $1,300 for self-coverage or $2,600 for family coverage (as of May 2017). You can only use the money in the account for qualified medical expenses, and if you withdraw money from your HSA to use for other purposes before you reach age 65, you'll have to pay a 20 percent tax penalty.</p> <p>To qualify for an employer-sponsored HSA, you can't be listed as a dependent on somebody else's tax return or enrolled in Medicare.</p> <h2>How an HSA can help your retirement</h2> <p>Here's how an HSA can give your nest egg a boost during your retirement years.</p> <h3>1. Avoid taxes on approved medical expenses</h3> <p>Without an HSA, if you took out $1,000 from your 401(k) to cover a medical bill during retirement, you'd pay applicable income taxes on the money you withdrew. And if you were to retire before age 59 &frac12;, you would pay an additional 10 percent penalty tax for that 401(k) withdrawal. With an HSA, however, you never pay taxes when using funds for approved medical expenses.</p> <h3>2. Avoid the early withdrawal penalty on nonmedical distributions after age 65</h3> <p>The longer you hold an HSA, the more flexibility you'll gain to use your funds. Once you reach age 65, you can withdraw money from the account for <em>nonmedical</em> expenses without triggering that 20 percent tax penalty. Note that you'll still pay income tax on the distribution.</p> <h3>3. Gain access to more investment options</h3> <p>If your employer-sponsored retirement account gives you access to only a few investment options, an HSA may be a way to broaden your options for retirement investments. While some HSA providers limit investment options to an FDIC-insured savings account, many others offer the option to put money in a separate HSA investment account with several fund options, including mutual funds and low-cost index funds. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-warren-buffett-says-you-should-invest-in-index-funds?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Warren Buffett Says You Should Invest in Index Funds</a>)</p> <h3>4. Increase annual contribution limits for your retirement savings</h3> <p>In 2017, a single tax filer can save up to $18,000 in a 401(k) and up to $5,500 in a Roth IRA (with catch-up contributions for those 50 and older of $6,000 and $1,000, respectively). With an HSA, that same tax filer can save up to an additional $3,400 to cover medical expenses during retirement, with a $1,000 per year catch-up contribution allowed for those aged 55 and over.</p> <h2>Take a look at HSAs</h2> <p>If you don't have a good employer-sponsored health plan, you could give your retirement plan a much-needed boost with an HSA, assuming you're eligible for one. The premiums on an HDHP can be higher than those of other health plans, so it's important to take a look at all of your alternatives. Since there are many considerations to keep track of, including taxes, medical expenses, and investment decisions, consider seeking the advice of a professional. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/who-to-hire-a-financial-planner-or-a-financial-adviser?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Who to Hire: A Financial Planner or a Financial Adviser?</a>)</p> <p>The health insurance decisions you make now could help you have a more comfortable retirement.</p> <p><em>[Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article noted that withdrawals after age 65 for nonmedical expenses are tax free. This is incorrect, and the article has been corrected to reflect that.]</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-could-help-your-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-couples-are-shortchanging-their-retirement-savings">4 Ways Couples Are Shortchanging Their Retirement Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-almost-anyone-can-afford-to-retire-in-mexico">How Almost Anyone Can Afford to Retire in Mexico</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money">How an HSA Saves You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-retirement-planning-changes-when-youre-single">7 Ways Retirement Planning Changes When You&#039;re Single</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement distributions expenses health care health savings account HSA investments medical costs pretax dollars Wed, 21 Jun 2017 09:01:05 +0000 Damian Davila 1969193 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Expensive Mistakes of the Newly Retired http://www.wisebread.com/9-expensive-mistakes-of-the-newly-retired <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-expensive-mistakes-of-the-newly-retired" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-172208749.jpg" alt="Finding expensive mistakes of the newly retired" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Transitioning to retired life on a fixed income will undoubtedly have a few bumps in the road. This is a brand-new chapter of life for you, and it's reasonable to expect some challenges ahead. The last thing you want to do, however, is compromise your nest egg with costly, easily avoidable mistakes. After all, you need that money to get you through the rest of your life.</p> <p>As such, consider these costly mistakes of the newly retired so you don't follow suit.</p> <h2>1. Not balancing your portfolio</h2> <p>Retiring doesn't mean you have to stop investing. You can still dabble in the stock market, but perhaps not as aggressively as you once did. Risky bets could cost you your life savings, which means that you'll either have to go back to work past age 65, or put your hat out on a street corner. Neither of those options sound great in the golden years of life, so it's important to ensure your retirement portfolio is balanced.</p> <p>&quot;Annuitizing a significant portion of one's retirement income can complement a portfolio of stocks and bonds,&quot; says Jim Poolman, executive director of the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council. &quot;Fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) can serve as part of a balanced financial plan because they do not directly participate in any stock or equity investments and [they] protect your principal from fluctuations in the market.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Not changing your lifestyle after retirement</h2> <p>Your spending habits as a retiree will need to change if you're going to make it for the long haul. This is especially true if you're not receiving any kind of monthly payments, like Social Security or disability, to help with bills. You can live off what you have in the bank (hopefully; otherwise you shouldn't be retiring yet), but you may have to downsize and rethink your spending strategy.</p> <p>This means you need to start learning how to save money on everyday expenses, and re-evaluate your budget to find places for cuts. Don't expect yourself to suddenly drop 30 percent or more of your spending. Work your way to it by making small cuts at a time before you retire.</p> <h2>3. Not evaluating risk</h2> <p>When you start saving for retirement, you may have a certain monetary goal in mind &mdash; either based on what financial sources have told you, or what you've calculated you'll need based on your lifestyle. But you may not be accounting for the ups and downs of Wall Street and inevitable inflation.</p> <p>&quot;Revisit your retirement plan to make sure your savings reflect your new needs, and adjust for market conditions,&quot; Poolman advises.</p> <h2>4. Spending too much money too soon</h2> <p>When you retire, what you have is what you have. Unless you still have income coming in somehow, you have to mind your money and avoid the temptation to spend it on splurges, especially if you find yourself bored in the first year of your forever vacation.</p> <p>&quot;Before finalizing your retirement, you must take into consideration that you will only be living on a fixed amount of money,&quot; Andrew Fiebert, co-founder of Listen Money Matters, says. &quot;Oftentimes the amount of retirement savings looks pretty large, but retirees must keep in mind that money will have to last a very long time &mdash; hopefully a very, very long time.&quot;</p> <p>The enticement to spend your money can be almost irresistible, but discipline is vital. Depleting your money beyond the interest that it earns will hurt the principal and leave you with nothing after just a few years.</p> <h2>5. Loaning money to adult children</h2> <p>I get it &mdash; you love your kids. But at what cost?</p> <p>According to a 2015 Pew Research Center poll, a whopping 61 percent of parents in the U.S. admitted to <a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/05/21/5-helping-adult-children/" target="_blank">helping their adult children financially</a>. That may be well and good if you have that kind of disposable income lying around (though it only fortifies your children's reliance on you; learn to say NO!). However, if you already need to cut back because you didn't save enough to live an easy, breezy retirement &mdash; which applies to most Americans &mdash; providing handouts, the payback of which you may never see, could put you in a financial pickle.</p> <p>Don't be afraid to cut your grown children off. If you don't have the extra money, neither do they.</p> <h2>6. Taking Social Security benefits too early</h2> <p>The overriding argument against claiming Social Security benefits too early is that you won't receive your full benefit potential. That could come back to bite you later in life.</p> <p>If you decide to claim Social Security benefits before you reach your full retirement age, you'll receive a smaller monthly payout &mdash; up to 30 percent less. If you absolutely need that money before your benefits fully mature, then by all means do what you have to do to survive. You'll be better off, however, the longer you wait.</p> <h2>7. Not taking required minimum distributions after age 70-&frac12;</h2> <p>Starting at age 70-&frac12;, you must take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your traditional, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA each year to satisfy rules set forth by the IRS. If you don't, you'll pay penalties.</p> <p>You can calculate your required RMD by dividing your IRA account balance as of Dec. 31 of the prior year by the applicable distribution or life expectancy. Qualified charitable distributions can satisfy your RMD, by the way, which you would report on Form 1099-R on the calendar year in which the distribution is made. Do good and save yourself the penalties while you're at it.</p> <h2>8. Falling victim to money scams</h2> <p>Scammers love retirees and the elderly. Why? Because they've usually got money to burn, and they're much easier to fool than the average working-age person. Sad, but true.</p> <p>There are plenty of scams out there, too, and they're getting more intricate all the time &mdash; like one where the scammer poses as the victim's grandchild and begs the grandparent to send money. To prevent yourself from being scammed, remember these two major rules: Never provide personal information over the phone or via email, and never wire any money unless you've spoken directly to your family member or friend who is requesting the transfer. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a>)</p> <h2>9. Failing to account for the unexpected</h2> <p>The reality of retirement is that while you'll certainly have more time to kick back and relax, life isn't necessarily going to get easier &mdash; and you have to prepare for that. Everyone will die eventually, and it's smart to plan ahead not only for end-of-life accommodations, but also long-term medical care.</p> <p>You may live a long and healthy life, but eventually you'll need someone to care for you &mdash; whether that's in a family member's home or a professional facility &mdash; and that will cost money. Hedge your bets by looking ahead and putting those funds aside now. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-long-term-care-insurance-worth-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Is Long Term Care Insurance Worth It?</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-expensive-mistakes-of-the-newly-retired">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-financial-advisers-wish-you-knew-about-retirement">7 Things Financial Advisers Wish You Knew About Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-moves-now-that-youll-regret-when-you-retire">5 Financial Moves Now That You&#039;ll Regret When You Retire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-can-you-afford-to-spend-in-retirement">How Much Can You Afford to Spend in Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/social-security-is-not-a-ponzi-scheme">Social Security Is Not a Ponzi Scheme</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-why-your-retirement-cost-calculations-may-be-wrong">8 Reasons Why Your Retirement Cost Calculations May Be Wrong</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement expenses investing loaning money long term care Mistakes newly retired required minimum distributions scams social security Wed, 10 May 2017 09:00:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1940416 at http://www.wisebread.com The Easy Way to Save Up a Big Travel Budget http://www.wisebread.com/the-easy-way-to-save-up-a-big-travel-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-easy-way-to-save-up-a-big-travel-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-516262792.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to save up a big travel budget" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Traveling is an undeniably amazing experience, but as with so many of the finer things in life, it does come with a price tag attached. Cost is unfortunately one of the biggest factors that prevents people from traveling.</p> <p>However, if getting to see the world is a serious goal of yours, this may be the perfect time to renew your focus on savings so that you can afford to pay for your wanderlust. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-save-for-your-dream-vacation?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Ways to Save for Your Dream Vacation</a>)</p> <h2>Set a goal and deadline</h2> <p>To help you get motivated to save more, set a clear goal and a timeline. The more specific the goal, the better, since it will allow you to visualize your trip and get excited about it. For instance, if you've dreamed about taking a trip to Europe for years, decide on your top destinations and how long you want the trip to last. That will help set a ballpark budget figure to aim for.</p> <p>Next, attach a savings deadline &mdash; for example, decide that you will buy your plane tickets within the next six to 12 months. Don't give yourself much more time, or you'll lose the urgency to put money away <em>now</em>.</p> <p>Having this type of a clear savings goal will help you stay motivated and make your trip feel more like a reality and less like a distant dream. It will also give you a schedule for your savings, allowing you to calculate how much you need to set aside each month to be able to afford your upcoming trip.</p> <h2>Slash unnecessary spending</h2> <p>Your goal will help you find the motivation to make some of the sacrifices that come with putting more money toward savings. You will want to shift your mindset from the short-term gratification of an immediate purchase (whose charm almost always wears off quickly) to the long-term gratification that comes from an experience that will leave you with memories for a lifetime.</p> <p>You may be surprised to realize how much of your spending is discretionary. Think of anything you are spending money on that you could live without. For instance, you can save a lot of money by cooking for yourself, instead of going out to eat. Even less-than-fancy meals at restaurants like Panera or Chipotle can cost $7 and up. If you indulge in this convenience three times a week, you're spending $84 a month. Substitute each of those meals with frugal home cooked meals and save.</p> <p>A car can be a significant expense, so if you can do without it you are setting yourself up for big savings. According to AAA, it costs the average American car owner around $8,558 to own and maintain their vehicle each year (this includes $3,759 in depreciation but doesn't include car payments). Even if you factor out the depreciation, that still means Americans are averaging $4,799 a year just to run our cars.</p> <p>In contrast, Numbeo.com reports the average cost of a monthly transport pass in the United States is around $70, or $840 a year. If you live in an area with good public transportation, you could potentially pocket more than $3,900 a year by giving up your car.</p> <p>If you can't completely forego having a car, you could still reduce your transportation expenses by driving less often. Walk, bike, carpool, or take public transportation instead. You'll not only save on gas, but also parking.</p> <p>Need inspiration to cut costs? Consider this woman from the U.K. who essentially <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/buy-nothing-year-one-woman-saved-22000/" target="_blank">spent nothing for an entire year</a>. While that may sound drastic, her savings while living in notoriously expensive London added up to nearly $27,000. Even half that amount would make a significant travel budget.</p> <h2>Work more, spend less</h2> <p>During one six-month period of my life I saved $12,000, which then allowed me to travel comfortably for the next six months without any income. I was able to do this by ensuring that my costs were as low as possible</p> <p>I split a $500 studio apartment with a roommate, so my rent was only $250 a month. Living quarters were cramped, but I was hardly ever there. I worked three jobs so I could make more money (around $2,500 a month). My 50-60 hours-a-week work schedule also meant that I had less time to spend my earnings.</p> <p>I was able to keep grocery costs to $100 a month because I was working in the food industry at the time. My other main costs were gas ($50 a month), and the cheapest cellphone plan I could find ($30 a month).</p> <p>For fun, I mostly did free activities, taking advantage of the fact that I lived in the mountains in California. I could go hiking and biking for free and there were often free concerts in the evenings. When I needed new clothes for work, I would get them from the local thrift store for $10&ndash;$15.</p> <h2>Get rewarded for your purchases</h2> <p>There are many ways to use various types of credit cards so that you get rewarded for your necessary expenditures. Especially for major expenses such as gas, groceries, and plane tickets, selecting the appropriate credit card can help you save a significant amount of money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-an-extra-109486-a-year?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Save an Extra $1,095 a Year</a>)</p> <h3>Grocery credit card</h3> <p>Groceries are a big expense for most people. Since you can't avoid spending at least something on groceries, you may as well get rewarded for your spending. Use a credit card that gives you extra rewards points for every dollar you spend at supermarkets. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a>)</p> <p>You may even be able to stack rewards by using a loyalty card from the supermarket chain where you do most of your shopping. Often these loyalty programs offer you cash discounts that can help cut your overall grocery bill.</p> <h3>Gas credit card</h3> <p>If you just can't live without a car, you can still save on the cost of gas by opening the right credit card. Cards that are co-branded with a particular gas station give you discounts at the pump, usually a few cents per gallon. These cards tend to have high interest rates, though, so if you tend to carry a balance, you'll usually be better off with a rewards credit card that gives you bonus points for purchases made at gas stations. If fuel is one of your bigger expenses, it's worth opening a gas rewards card. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-gas-rewards-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Best Gas Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h3>Travel credit card</h3> <p>Although you may not be traveling a lot while you save up for your big trip, it's worth getting a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">travel rewards credit card</a> well in advance of your trip. By using your travel card for everyday purchases, you can rack up points toward free flights or hotel stays when it comes time to hit the road. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-a-free-or-close-to-free-vacation-in-9-months-or-less-with-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Steps to a Free Vacation in 9 Months or Less</a>)</p> <p>What's more, most travel cards offer significant <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards?ref=internal">points bonuses</a> when you spend a certain amount within the first few months after opening the account. These bonuses can be worth hundreds of dollars in travel, but you'll need time to meet the required spending amount and wait for the bonus points to be posted to your account.</p> <p>Finally, airline cards often come with free checked baggage and other perks such as free rental car insurance, lost baggage coverage, and trip interruption insurance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-types-of-travel-insurance-credit-cards-include-that-you-didnt-know-about?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Types of Travel Insurance That Credit Cards Include</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-easy-way-to-save-up-a-big-travel-budget&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%2520Easy%2520Way%2520to%2520Save%2520Up%2520a%2520Big%2520Travel%2520Budget.jpg&amp;description=The%20Easy%20Way%20to%20Save%20Up%20a%20Big%20Travel%20Budget"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%20Easy%20Way%20to%20Save%20Up%20a%20Big%20Travel%20Budget.jpg" alt="The Easy Way to Save Up a Big Travel Budget" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-gokee">Amanda Gokee</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easy-way-to-save-up-a-big-travel-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-your-best-travel-budget">How to Build Your Best Travel Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-countries-where-you-can-retire-for-1000-a-month">5 Countries Where You Can Retire for $1,000 a Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-vacation-rental-alternatives-to-airbnb">10 Vacation Rental Alternatives to Airbnb</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-you-can-cut-costs-right-before-you-retire-0">6 Ways You Can Cut Costs Right Before You Retire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-countries-where-you-can-travel-on-30-a-day-or-less">7 Countries Where You Can Travel on $30 a Day or Less</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Travel cash back cutting costs expenses Food groceries rewards saving money transportation trips vacations Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:30:13 +0000 Amanda Gokee 1927306 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 College Expenses You Aren't Saving For http://www.wisebread.com/9-college-expenses-you-arent-saving-for <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-college-expenses-you-arent-saving-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-517076077.jpg" alt="Parent finding college expenses she didn&#039;t save for" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Worried that tuition and room and board will bleed you dry when your kid goes off to college? Pfft. Wait till you get a load of all the expenses you didn't account for! You'll want to sit down for this.</p> <h2>1. College prep items</h2> <p>You'll want to send your kid off to college well prepared &mdash; with things. Things like study and work supplies, dorm room necessities, snack foods, toiletries, a new computer, maybe a new phone. It's amazing how easily items pile up when you're shopping for college.</p> <h2>2. Traveling home and back</h2> <p>No loving parent can go too long without seeing their kid &mdash; especially their freshman year in college. So, you'll need to account for travel costs to get your child back and forth to your home if they attend a school that requires more than a few hours' travel.</p> <p>&quot;Create a travel budget by researching typical costs for airfare, train, or bus, whichever mode of transportation is available to you, and estimate the number of times your child will head home throughout the year,&quot; suggests money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. &quot;If they have a car and are driving [a long] distance away from home, propose that they carpool to save on gas and tolls if applicable.&quot;</p> <p>They can also use a site like <a href="https://www.zimride.com/" target="_blank">Zimride</a>, which will connect them with other college students looking to share a ride.</p> <h2>3. Local transportation costs</h2> <p>If your child has a car on campus, you're looking at the cost of a parking pass plus insurance and gas. If they don't have a car, you'll need to consider a new bike and investigate the cost of public transportation passes. These costs can add up, as well. College students don't tend to be holed up in their tiny dorm rooms while not in class.</p> <h2>4. Food outside the meal plan</h2> <p>College meal plans are expensive enough by themselves, but don't count on those being your child's only source of food. Many campus dining halls close earlier than you probably think, and late night study sessions require energy. Plan on having to send them some extra dollars for groceries, snacks, and late-night diner runs.</p> <h2>5. Greek life</h2> <p>I was interested in joining a fraternity when I went to college. It signified the quintessential coming-of-age experience to me, and I liked the idea of having &quot;brothers,&quot; as I wasn't close with my own growing up.</p> <p>Nice sentiment, but it got expensive real quick.</p> <p>My dues were about $400 per semester, I wanted to buy new clothes every time we had a formal or theme party, and if something went wrong in the house &mdash; like the one time a drunk alumni brother smashed up our soda machine &mdash; we had to collectively cover the cost. By the end of four years, I had spent thousands of dollars to be part of this exclusive club &mdash; which, in hindsight, was worth every penny considering the memories I made. So, I guess what I'm saying here is &hellip; grab your checkbook.</p> <h2>6. Sports and extracurriculars</h2> <p>If you're the parent of a child whose athletic skills have earned them a college scholarship, congrats; consider yourself lucky. On the other hand, if your child is perfectly average but still wants to play sports or join extracurriculars, you'll need to cough up the cash.</p> <p>&quot;Sometimes participating in extracurricular activities on campus can cost extra money,&quot; says Johan Zhang, co-founder of CollegeVine. &quot;Whether it's paying for club dues, schoolwide participation fees, or even apparel, at many colleges there exists a hidden cost to joining and being an active member in extracurricular activities..&quot;</p> <p>Be sure to consider this and save up in advance.</p> <h2>7. Your trips to see your child</h2> <p>Bringing your kid home is going to cost you, and so is traveling to visit your child. You may also want to attend things like orientation weekend, parents' weekend, and other events hosted by the college. You'll need to factor in transportation, lodging, and food, so budget wisely.</p> <h2>8. Off-campus living</h2> <p>Eventually your kid will outgrow the dorm and want to live off-campus. This usually happens around junior year, but sometimes you can hold it off until senior year. With that comes the expense of monthly rent, renter's insurance, furniture, utility bills, and a security deposit that you're never going to see again. Make amends with that right now; it's already spent.</p> <h2>9. The extended plan</h2> <p>Listen, I'm rooting for you to get your kid in and out of college in four years, but, well... the odds aren't in your favor.</p> <p>&quot;At most public universities, over 80 percent of students will take more than four years to graduate due to overcrowded or unavailable classes,&quot; say Adrian Ridner, CEO and co-founder of Study.com. &quot;That means if you are planning on four years of college expenses, you could be under budgeting by 25 percent to 50 percent. Taking low cost college courses online can be a great way to stay on track and graduate on time. Another factor that can extend your child's time in school is lack of college readiness. This may mean completing remedial courses that do not count toward graduation.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-college-expenses-you-arent-saving-for">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-you-need-to-know-before-buying-a-college-meal-plan">Here&#039;s What You Need to Know Before Buying a College Meal Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-financial-aid-might-not-cover">6 Things Financial Aid Might Not Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-saving-hacks-every-college-student-should-try">8 Money-Saving Hacks Every College Student Should Try</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-countries-where-you-can-retire-for-1000-a-month">5 Countries Where You Can Retire for $1,000 a Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-earn-1000-a-month-or-more-as-an-online-tutor">How to Earn $1,000 a Month or More as an Online Tutor</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Education & Training college dining plans dorm rooms expenses food costs fraternities hidden costs kids sororities students transportation travel Tue, 11 Apr 2017 08:00:16 +0000 Mikey Rox 1923858 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Buy a House With a Pool Until You Can Answer These 7 Questions http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-469932560.jpg" alt="Asking questions before buying a house with a pool" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Having a built-in pool on your property comes with plenty of perks &mdash; like providing respite from the summer heat and elevating your kids' social status. But this luxury isn't all splash battles and cannonballs. Pools, among other things, require costly maintenance while also introducing a laundry list of liability and safety concerns into your life. Keep your head above water when considering buying a house with a pool by asking these eight important questions.</p> <h2>1. Does everyone in the family know how to swim?</h2> <p>This may seem like a silly question to ask yourself before buying a house with a pool, but you might be surprised at how many pool-owners either can't swim themselves, or have children who can't swim. Both of these scenarios could end in tragedy. And if you can't swim, there's <a href="http://www.usaswimming.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=1796" target="_blank">only a 13 percent chance</a> your child will learn how to swim. Not the best odds to have when a life is on the line.</p> <h2>2. Does everyone in your family know CPR?</h2> <p>If you're planning to own a pool, it's a wise decision to be trained in CPR. The few minutes' time between on-the-scene CPR and that which is administered by EMTs, who may take several minutes to arrive, is literally life and death.</p> <h2>3. How old is the pool?</h2> <p>Keller Williams Real Estate agent Jen Teague provides a few important construction questions to ask, including:</p> <ul> <li>What company installed the pool and is it still in business?</li> <li>Is it under warranty?</li> <li>Has there been any major work done to the pool over the last year?</li> <li>Are there any consistent issues (leaks, etc.) the owner has had with it?</li> </ul> <p>You're specifically looking to find out how much longer the pump life is, as well as any maintenance that may be needed for the liner or granite. After a while the chlorine wears down the liner and it will be more prone to tearing. Granite cracks over time as well.</p> <p>Three-decade pool industry veteran Michael Kern of MGK Pool Service in Lowell, Massachusetts adds, &quot;Cement pools need to be replastered every six to nine years; above ground pools need the liner replaced every four to eight years; and in-ground pools need the liner replaced every 15 to 20 years.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Is the pool surrounded by a fence?</h2> <p>A fence around your pool isn't to keep your kids in, but rather other people out &mdash; like wandering toddlers and even pets. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign, which focuses on drowning prevention and water safety (a <a href="https://www.poolsafely.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Safety-Barrier-Guidelines-for-Residential-Pools.pdf" target="_blank">must read</a> if you're planning to become a pool owner!), suggests that the fence stands at least four feet high, surrounds the pool on all four sides, and includes a self-closing, self-latching gate. Adding an alarm to the door is an extra layer of protection so you're alerted to unauthorized visitors.</p> <h2>5. Does the pool have a safe drain cover?</h2> <p>The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool &amp; Spa Safety Act, named after a little girl who died in 2002 when the suction from a spa drain trapped her under water, mandates drain covers for public spas and pools &mdash; but homeowners also should practice this safety measure. A pool technician can tell you whether or not your drain cover needs updating, which is generally about every five years. The ZAC Foundation, an organization working to strengthen pool safety legislation and educate children on water safety, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CULPxBSa_10" target="_blank">explains the difference in drain covers</a> and why having a compliant drain cover is important.</p> <h2>6. How much will maintenance cost?</h2> <p>Most homeowners have a general budget in place for day-to-day home expenses, plus a little extra to cover emergencies. But those who have never owned a pool may not be prepared for the added expense. Be sure to ask your agent about how much annual maintenance the pool will need so you can get a good idea of whether or not you can afford its upkeep.</p> <p>This is also a good time to ask the previous owners what pool necessities will be left behind and what you may need to buy when you assume ownership.</p> <h2>7. How much will your homeowners insurance increase?</h2> <p>Your swimming pool is a liability, for sure, and your insurer will consider that when pricing your policy. Before you jump in head first, hammer out the details of the policy and its cost. Additional umbrella insurance is always recommended for homeowners with a pool.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-affordable-water-parks-you-can-drive-to">10 Affordable Water Parks You Can Drive To</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often">8 Questions Real Estate Agents Hear Most Often</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing drowning expenses home buying homeowners insurance kids maintenance pools safety swimming Wed, 05 Apr 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Mikey Rox 1917660 at http://www.wisebread.com How Are People Retiring in Their 30s?! http://www.wisebread.com/how-are-people-retiring-in-their-30s <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-are-people-retiring-in-their-30s" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-508191870.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you think about retirement, it's generally a time later in life after you've put many working years into a career. But today, some people are retiring in their 40s, 30s, and even in their 20s! What is the secret to retiring so early?</p> <p>I reached out to several bloggers who either retired or reached financial independence by the time they reached their 30s to learn just how they did it.</p> <p>Even if you are not aiming to retire at a very young age, these strategies can still help you accelerate your retirement.</p> <h2>Secret 1: Pay down debt ASAP</h2> <p>The first step toward early retirement is to get rid of debt as soon as possible. Making payments on debt limits your ability to build your investments and grow enough assets to retire. This is how Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents got started on the path to financial independence in her early 20s. &quot;In the beginning,&quot; she said, &quot;I worked many, many hours a week so that I could pay off my debt in seven months, but it was well worth it.&quot;</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a></p> <h2>Secret 2: Take advantage of compound interest</h2> <p>The key to reaching early retirement is to save a large portion of your income &mdash; for example, 50 percent or more &mdash; and let that money compound over time. How can you put away that much on a modest income? You need to live very frugally so you can apply a large percentage of your income toward investments.</p> <p>Jeremy Jacobson, who runs Go Curry Cracker with his wife Winnie, reached financial independence in his 30s. He explained, &quot;We just used our income to buy our freedom rather than things and experiences that we would have quickly forgotten. Ironically, thanks to compound interest we can now have things, experiences, and freedom.&quot;</p> <h2>Secret 3: Multiple sources of income</h2> <p>Many of these bloggers who retired early had a traditional career for a time, and gradually built up &quot;side hustles&quot; to generate multiple streams of income. The extra cash helps get debt paid off faster and starts building your investment accounts sooner. Writing, owning income properties, selling items on eBay or Amazon, and consulting are some ideas to bring in &quot;extra&quot; money.</p> <p>One of these side projects that you enjoy could grow into enough income to one day replace your primary job. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-make-money-outside-your-day-job?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Ways to Make Money Outside Your Day Job</a>)</p> <h2>Secret 4: Commit to living differently</h2> <p>One thing I noticed is that these people are quite different from their peers. They are not concerned about fitting in and even celebrate living much differently than others their age.</p> <p>Travis Hornsby, blogger at Millennial Moola, was able to retire in his mid 20s. How did he manage it? &quot;I lived in a semifinished basement for several months because it included utilities and allowed me to supercharge my savings rate,&quot; he explained.</p> <p>Justin McCurry at Root of Good retired in 2013 at age 33 by redefining what qualified as a sacrifice. &quot;Unlike our peers, we never upgraded our starter home to a McMansion, nor did we trade in our Honda sedans for luxury cars,&quot; he said. &quot;Is that a sacrifice?&quot;</p> <p>Kristy Shen, one half of Millennial Revolution and retiree by age 31, resisted the pressure to buy a large home and settle into a traditional lifestyle. &quot;We stuck to our guns because we knew the math didn't make sense,&quot; she said.</p> <h2>Secret 5: Know when to stop</h2> <p>Many of those who retire at an early age plan to maintain a low spending rate after they retire, allowing them to leave the workforce early. But how much is enough? There are many opinions about this, but many subscribe to the 4 percent safe withdrawal rate as a rule of thumb. Simulations have shown that under a range of economic scenarios, you can withdraw up to 4 percent per year from your investment portfolio with a very low probability of running out of money during retirement.</p> <p>If your desire is to retire as soon as possible, it is important to have a specific goal for how much you need to accumulate so you don't end up spending extra years in the cubicle. For example, if you can live on withdrawing $40,000 per year from your account, then $1 million is the minimum amount you would need to fully retire under the 4 percent safe withdrawal rate. If you will have income after you retire, then you will need to withdraw less, so the balance you need to accumulate is less &mdash; and you can retire earlier.</p> <h2>Secret 6: Income after &quot;retirement&quot;</h2> <p>Many of these people who &quot;retire&quot; very early are actually still working at least part-time. Financial independence may be a better description than retirement for this lifestyle. Financial independence means that although you are still working, you don't need to do it purely for the money anymore.</p> <p>Michelle of Making Sense of Cents started her blog in graduate school a few years ago to help pay off student loans faster. As a dramatic example of income after reaching financial independence, she now makes nearly $1 million per year from her blog!</p> <h2>Secret 7: Invest for growth</h2> <p>Saving the money is the first step, but you have to invest it so it will grow. Parking your savings in a bank account at less than 1 percent interest is not going to get you to retirement very fast.</p> <p>Kristy of Millennial Revolution regrets her initial hesitation to dive into investments. &quot;I think we spent a lot more time waffling on whether we should do the investing-route or the housing-route than we should have, and that caused some missed opportunities along the way,&quot; she said. &quot;As a result, we stayed out of the market when the S&amp;P 500 bounced off the floor in early 2009 because we were still deciding whether to buy a house. As a result, we missed a 40 percent rally from 2009&ndash;2010 just sitting in cash! Fortunately by the time we decided in early 2012, there turned out to be plenty more gains to go in this bull market.&quot;</p> <h2>Secret 8: Don't sink money into a house</h2> <p>This one comes as a bit of a surprise to me since I have gone the route of investing in a home. But several folks who have reached early retirement recommend avoiding homeownership in order to reach financial independence sooner.</p> <p>Kristy and her husband Bryce felt scrutiny at their decision to forgo homeownership and continue to rent. &quot;Going against the grain is tough, but it's even tougher to do for such a long period of time while everyone around you is pointing and saying 'What an idiot. They're renting and throwing money away.'&quot; she explained.</p> <p>The advice not to buy a house makes sense if your goal really is to minimize costs. Owning a home not only commits you to a mortgage payment, but also to additional expenses such as insurance, taxes, repairs, and maintenance. Plus, if you own a home, you are more likely to spend money on furniture, landscaping, and home improvement projects. In some cases, you may be better off minimizing your expenses by renting instead of buying a place to live during your run up to early retirement. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Rent Your Home or Buy? How to Decide</a>)</p> <h2>Secret 9: Enjoy now</h2> <p>In my experience, most people in their 20s are not focused much on retirement at all. But if you want to retire in your 30s, you will need to start working toward that goal very early in life. The earlier you want to retire, the more aggressively you will need to save money. But it is possible to focus too much on making and saving money. As you look forward to some great experiences after retirement, you don't want to miss out on unique opportunities to enjoy life along the way.</p> <p>Joe Udo of Retire by 40 emphasizes this point: &quot;If you're working toward early retirement,&quot; he said, &quot;don't forget about the present. Being miserable every day will screw up your mental health.&quot;</p> <h2>How early should you retire?</h2> <p>Very early retirement is not for everyone. Retiring early clearly requires some significant sacrifices and lifestyle adjustments. You'll have to decide if this cost is worth the reward of reaching financial freedom years (or possibly even decades) earlier.</p> <p>If you'd like to learn more and read about the journey of the bloggers mentioned in this article, check the table below.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p>Blogger</p> </td> <td> <p>Blog</p> <p>(link to their best early retirement advice post)</p> </td> <td> <p>Age at Retirement / Financial Independence</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Justin</p> </td> <td> <p><a href="http://rootofgood.com/zero-to-millionaire-ten-years/" target="_blank">Root of Good</a></p> </td> <td> <p>33</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Joe</p> </td> <td> <p><a href="http://retireby40.org/3-easy-steps-retire-40/" target="_blank">Retire by 40</a></p> </td> <td> <p>38</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Jeremy &amp; Winnie</p> </td> <td> <p><a href="http://www.gocurrycracker.com/how-we-saved-multi-millions/" target="_blank">Go Curry Cracker </a></p> </td> <td> <p>38, 33</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Michelle</p> </td> <td> <p><a href="http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2016/01/early-retirement-myths-busted.html" target="_blank">Making Sense of Cents</a></p> </td> <td> <p>20s</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Kristy &amp; Bryce</p> </td> <td> <p><a href="http://www.millennial-revolution.com/freedom/how-i-built-a-seven-figure-portfolio-and-retired-at-31/" target="_blank">Millennial Revolution</a></p> </td> <td> <p>31, 33</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Travis</p> </td> <td> <p><a href="https://millennialmoola.com/2015/06/22/how-to-retire-in-your-20s/" target="_blank">Millennial Moola</a></p> </td> <td> <p>25</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-are-people-retiring-in-their-30s">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-you-can-cut-costs-right-before-you-retire-0">6 Ways You Can Cut Costs Right Before You Retire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-for-retirement-when-you-are-unemployed">How to Save for Retirement When You Are Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-occasions-when-you-should-definitely-hire-a-financial-advisor">7 Occasions When You Should Definitely Hire a Financial Advisor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-financial-advisers-hear-most-often">8 Questions Financial Advisers Hear Most Often</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-steps-to-starting-a-retirement-plan-in-your-30s">8 Steps to Starting a Retirement Plan in Your 30s</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Retirement 20s 30s compound interest debt early retirement expenses income streams lifestyle retiring young saving money Mon, 27 Mar 2017 09:00:11 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1913293 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Unexpected Costs of Political Activism http://www.wisebread.com/5-unexpected-costs-of-political-activism <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-unexpected-costs-of-political-activism" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-508494106.jpg" alt="Protesters learning unexpected costs of political activism" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Protests are breaking out all over the U.S. these days. For frustrated Americans, taking part in a peaceful demonstration can help restore a sense of personal control. And protesting works. Not always, and sometimes not to the degree that people wish, but history is full of examples of how public movements have brought real and positive change.</p> <p>If you're thinking of joining a protest, it helps to understand just what the personal repercussions might be. Not that you should always let fear rule out over conscience. But consider these unexpected costs of activism, so you know exactly what you're getting yourself into.</p> <h2>1. You can jeopardize your career</h2> <p>You have every right to protest whatever you want. It's what makes America, and many other civilized countries, great. However, just because it's your right doesn't mean your current or future employer will look favorably upon your decision to speak out. Employers may not agree with your political stance.</p> <p>Even if they do, they may worry clients or the public will look down on it. And with smartphones and social media a staple of society, chances are, you'll be caught on camera. If you are in any kind of position that is public-facing, be it a teacher, a lawyer, or a public relations manager, you could be on shaky ground.</p> <p>Almost all U.S. states are &quot;at-will employment&quot; states, meaning employers can terminate you for any reason and without warning. Unless there are state laws, or company or union policies in place that specifically protect you, you could be fired for engaging in lawful political activity. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-financial-reasons-to-keep-your-political-views-private?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Financial Reasons to Keep Your Political Views Private</a>)</p> <h2>2. You may need to take time off work</h2> <p>Protesting is usually not convenient. It is frequently centered around an event or day that has meaning, and that means it will often fall on a work day. For those of us who have jobs that are flexible with hours &mdash; or allow vacation and personal days for such things &mdash; no problem.</p> <p>But you may not have that luxury. Can you afford to take a day off without pay? Can you afford for that to become two, three, or four days without pay if the protest continues to gain momentum? Some people maintain that the monetary cost is nothing compared to the moral cost of staying silent, but remember, that noble reason will not fly with the bank when the mortgage is overdue.</p> <h2>3. Your protest may put you in the spotlight</h2> <p>Protests can turn a relatively unknown issue into something that everyone is talking about. That's good in that it leads to a greater chance for change.</p> <p>Just make sure you're prepared to have the spotlight turned on you personally as well, even if it's only within your circle of friends and acquaintances. The 2016 election left the country more divided than any time in recent memory, so once you make your stance known, you will most likely be met with tension from the other side. Ask any outspoken person with a large following on Twitter, and they'll tell you how often their political opinions are met with threats. Not that you should let fear of internet trolls keep you from defending the greater good, but it is something to be aware of.</p> <h2>4. You could get arrested &hellip; or worse</h2> <p>Peaceful protests don't always stay that way. When two sides come together with vastly opposing views, tempers flare. When authorities are dispatched to keep the peace, it can be the start of unrest, which can turn violent.</p> <p>Hopefully, you will be involved in a peaceful protest that makes its point without leading to chaos or physical harm. But this is not an ideal world. There may be fights. You might be arrested because of a simple miscommunication, intentional abuse of police power, or just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You may even be injured, perhaps severely. Many people believe these risks are worth taking, but if you have a family that depends on you, think twice.</p> <h2>5. You could fall out with family and friends</h2> <p>Polarizing opinions can be fatal for friendships and family dynamics. A recent news article told the story of how a <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/couple-22-years-divorcing-trump-vote-article-1.2966332" target="_blank">22-year marriage ended over the election of Donald Trump</a>.</p> <p>Attending a protest for anything could cause disruptions in your relationships, leading to arguments and irreparably hurt feelings. While it is important to have your own opinions, voicing them publicly can have consequences. Just make sure you are prepared for the fallout.</p> <p>No matter which side your political views align with, you probably will never regret fighting for what you believe in. And fear of anything listed above certainly is not a reason to avoid political activism entirely. Just know what you're up against going in, so you're ready if any of these repercussions do begin to surface.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-unexpected-costs-of-political-activism">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-simple-ways-to-split-bills-with-your-spouse">3 Simple Ways to Split Bills With Your Spouse</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-high-cost-of-buying-a-boat">The High Cost of Buying a Boat</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-financial-reasons-to-keep-your-political-views-private">4 Financial Reasons to Keep Your Political Views Private</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/treat-yourself-with-these-7-free-self-care-routines">Treat Yourself With These 7 Free Self-Care Routines</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-expenses-to-ditch-after-age-30">5 Expenses to Ditch After Age 30</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Financial News Lifestyle activists expenses high cost marches political activism politics protesting self-care unexpected costs Mon, 20 Mar 2017 11:00:15 +0000 Paul Michael 1911512 at http://www.wisebread.com