accounts http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/11653/all en-US 5 Retirement Accounts You Don't Need a Ton of Money to Open http://www.wisebread.com/5-retirement-accounts-you-dont-need-a-ton-of-money-to-open <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-retirement-accounts-you-dont-need-a-ton-of-money-to-open" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-614527864.jpg" alt="Finding retirement accounts you don&#039;t need a ton of money to open" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I graduated from school and started working, my parents and friends told me repeatedly how important it was to start saving for retirement. But when I looked into opening an account, most institutions required $1,000 or more to get started. I didn't have that much money to set aside, and it seemed so overwhelming. So I didn't open an account until years later.</p> <p>I'm kicking myself for it. The earlier you start saving for retirement, the more compound interest it builds and the less you need to invest to retire comfortably. I missed out on years of interest because I was too intimidated by account minimums, and didn't think of alternatives. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Signs You Aren't Saving Enough for Retirement</a>)</p> <p>Instead of making my same mistakes, you can start saving for retirement today by opening a Roth IRA. Below, find out why Roth IRAs are such a useful option and where you can open one without a lot of startup cash. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-a-roth-ira-may-be-better-than-your-401k?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Reasons Why a Roth IRA May be Better Than Your 401(k)</a>)</p> <h2>What is a Roth IRA?</h2> <p>If you're just starting out, don't have access to a 401(k), or want to supplement your retirement nest egg, a Roth IRA is a fantastic savings vehicle.</p> <p>Unlike a 401(k), where you make your retirement contributions with pretax dollars, with a Roth you contribute your after-tax income. While that means you don't get an upfront tax break, you won't owe money on account withdrawals once you retire. You already paid taxes, so you can take out the money free and clear.</p> <p>A Roth IRA is a perfect tool for young people just starting out. Because your contributions are made after taxes, you can take out the principal from the Roth IRA in the case of an emergency without owing any penalties or fees. While you should never touch your retirement savings except in the most dire of circumstances, having money in a Roth IRA can give you additional peace of mind. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/using-your-roth-ira-as-an-emergency-fund-ever-a-good-idea?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Using Your Roth IRA as an Emergency Fund &mdash; Ever a Good Idea?</a>)</p> <h2>Roth IRAs with low minimums</h2> <p>While many institutions require a minimum investment of $1,000 or more to open an account, there are several reputable firms where you can open a Roth IRA without a minimum investment.</p> <h3>1. TD Ameritrade</h3> <p><a href="http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-2822544-12012738" target="_blank">TD Ameritrade</a> does not charge any setup, low-balance, or annual fees for Roth IRAs, and they do not have a minimum startup investment. You can open an account with just a few dollars. There are commission and brokerage fees, but TD AmeriTrade's fees are low compared to other big-name banks and brokerage firms.</p> <h3>2. Capital One</h3> <p><a href="https://www.capitaloneinvesting.com/main/retirement/individual-retirement/choose-investments-SB-360.aspx?intcmp=10001038" target="_blank">Capital One</a> is one of the oldest online brokerage firms around, and they offer low fees and automatic contribution and investment options. There are no minimums to open a Roth IRA and they do not charge inactivity fees, but you do need to be a Capital One 360 customer. If you have a checking or savings account with Capital One, you can sync your account so you can view them all at once and make contributions or withdrawals between them.</p> <h3>3. Scottrade</h3> <p>With <a href="https://www.scottrade.com/investment-products/ira/roth-ira.html" target="_blank">Scottrade</a>, you can open a Roth IRA with no minimum investment, zero account maintenance fees, and trades for as little as $7 each. You can invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).</p> <h3>4. Merrill Edge</h3> <p><a href="https://www.merrilledge.com/retirement/ira" target="_blank">Merrill Edge</a> offers Roth IRAs with no minimum investment. Ranked #1 in Kiplinger's Best Online Brokers list in 2016, the company charges just $6.95 a trade. And right now, they're offering up to $600 in cash bonuses to new investors who open an account.</p> <h3>5. Betterment</h3> <p>If you are a hands-off investor and would like help choosing and managing your investments, <a href="https://track.flexlinkspro.com/a.ashx?foid=1029882.2101559&amp;foc=1&amp;fot=9999&amp;fos=1" target="_blank">Betterment</a> may be for you. It's a robo-adviser company that assesses your financial situation, goals, and risk tolerance and calculates an investing strategy for you. There is no account minimum, and the management fee ranges from 0.25&ndash;0.50 percent.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-trust-your-money-with-these-4-popular-financial-robo-advisers?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">Should You Trust Your Money With These 4 Popular Financial Robo-Advisers?</a></p> <h2>Start investing</h2> <p>If you've been putting off opening up a retirement account because you thought you didn't have enough money, know that there are plenty of options, and a Roth IRA is a great place to start. Opening an account and starting the saving habit now &mdash; even just a little at a time &mdash; will pay off over the long-term.</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/5-retirement-accounts-you-dont-need-a-ton-of-money-to-open">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/6-warning-signs-youre-sabotaging-your-nest-egg">6 Warning Signs You&#039;re Sabotaging Your Nest Egg</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/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt">We Do the Math: Save for Retirement or Pay Off Credit Card Debt?</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-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement">10 Signs You Aren&#039;t Saving Enough for 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/half-of-americans-are-wrong-about-their-retirement-savings">Half of Americans Are Wrong About Their Retirement Savings</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/a-simple-guide-to-rolling-over-all-of-your-401ks-and-iras">A Simple Guide to Rolling Over All of Your 401Ks and IRAs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement accounts after-tax dollars low minimums nest egg Roth IRA savings goals Mon, 24 Apr 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Kat Tretina 1930983 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Reasons to Visit Your Credit Union on October 20 http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-to-visit-your-credit-union-on-october-20 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-to-visit-your-credit-union-on-october-20" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_glasses_piggybank_103388239.jpg" alt="Woman visiting her credit union on Credit Union Day" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Since 1948, International Credit Union Day has been celebrated on the third Thursday of October. This October 20th, 2016, more than 217 million credit union members around the world are joining in the celebration.</p> <p>About half of all credit union members are Americans (<a href="http://www.cuna.org/Research-And-Strategy/DownLoads/mcue/">108.1 million</a>!), but if you're not one of them, this Oct. 20th is a great opportunity to visit a local credit union, shop around for financial services, and find out whether or not you can get a better deal at a credit union.</p> <h2>Key Differences Between a Bank and a Credit Union</h2> <p>Only 36% of people surveyed by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) were aware that credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions. This is just one of the many differences between a traditional bank and your local credit union.</p> <h3>1. Credit Unions Have Members</h3> <p>You're not a client; you're a member or owner of the credit union. You're required to make a deposit in a savings account (often from $25 to $100) that grants you a share of the credit union.</p> <h3>2. You Must Be Eligible for Membership</h3> <p>Typical fields of membership include employee groups, associations, religious or fraternal affiliations, and residential areas.</p> <h3>3. You Can Vote on Key Issues</h3> <p>Including electing unpaid officers and directors for the credit union to establish operating policies and other key issues. Each member has one equal vote, no matter how small his or her deposit.</p> <h3>4. Deposits Are Insured by the NCUA or State or Private Insurance</h3> <p>While qualifying deposits in banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), deposits in federally chartered credit unions and those with headquarters in Arkansas, Delaware, South Dakota, Wyoming, or the District of Columbia are insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Each individual account, joint account, trust account, retirement account, and business account at any federal credit union is insured for up to $250,000. If you have a savings account, a trust account, and a Roth IRA at a federal credit union, you're covered for up to total of $750,000. State chartered credit unions and those with headquarters in states other than the ones listed earlier may be covered by either state or private insurance.</p> <h3>5. Credit Unions Collaborate With Each Other</h3> <p>Many credit unions offer shared branching that allows you to make deposits and withdrawals at locations other than that of your own credit union. With <a href="https://co-opcreditunions.org/locator/">nearly 30,000 ATMs</a> and more than 5,000 shared branches, credit union members have more direct, surcharge-free access to their money than most traditional bank customers do.</p> <h2>Why It Pays to Take Part in Credit Union Day</h2> <p>In a nutshell: higher savings rates for your deposits and lower costs for your loans.</p> <p>Let's compare some financial products from credit unions with those from banks, as of <a href="https://www.ncua.gov/analysis/Pages/industry/credit-union-bank-interest-rates-june-2016.pdf">June 2016</a>:</p> <ul> <li>Credit unions had a national average rate of 4.40% for five-year home equity loans, while banks had a 4.97% average rate.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A 15-year fixed-rate mortgage would have only cost an average 3.06% per year at credit unions and an average 3.10% at banks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A classic credit card would have only charged you an average 11.56% at credit unions and an average 12.66% at banks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A $10,000 five-year CD yielded a national average 1.51% at credit unions and 1.22% at banks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A 48-month new car loan charged a national average 2.61% at credit unions and 4.58% at banks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A $2,500 money market account paid a national average 0.17% at credit unions and 0.12% at banks.</li> </ul> <p>Year after year credit unions demonstrate that they are working hard to get you the best bang for your buck. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-good-reasons-to-choose-a-credit-union-instead-of-a-bank?Ref=seealso">9 Good Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Instead of a Bank</a>)</p> <h2>What Can You Expect on International Credit Union Day</h2> <p>Several credit unions around the country will provide special offers and freebies to their current and new members.</p> <h3>1. Even Lower Fees</h3> <p>CUNA advises credit unions to offer loans or new share draft accounts for the <a href="http://www.cuna.org/Marketing-And-Member-Education/DownLoads/2016-ICU-Day-Celebration-Ideas/">same fees</a> that credit unions charged the year they opened.</p> <h3>2. Free Money or Freebies to Open a New Account</h3> <p>The Eagle Community Credit Union in California is offering a <a href="http://www.eaglecu.org/ICUDay">$25 deposit</a> and a lunch tote to new account holders from October 1 until October 31, 2016. The Meridian Trust Federal Credit Union in Cheyenne, Wyoming is offering a <a href="https://www.mymeridiantrust.com/about/support/international_credit_union_day/international_credit_union_day_special_offers.aspx">$50 Visa gift card</a> to those opening a new checking account.</p> <h3>3. Chance to Win a Discount Off Your Qualifying Rate for a New Loan</h3> <p>The University of Hawaii Credit Union is offering on October 21 and 22, 2016 the chance to pull a rate as low as 1.49% APR or <a href="https://www.uhfcu.com/?Cabinet=Main&amp;Drawer=UHFCU+Advantages&amp;Folder=Specials&amp;SubFolder=Auto+Loan+Special&amp;page_name=Auto+Loan+Special">up to 0.75% off</a> your qualifying rate. &quot;Checking in&quot; at the event with your Yelp app will get you 0.25% off your qualifying rate.</p> <h3>4. Free Gas Cards</h3> <p>Other credit unions may offer you incentives to receive free gas cards when you bring a completed certificate to a participating car dealership. If you get a new-car loan with the credit union at a qualifying dealer, the gas card can be of higher value.</p> <h3>5. Chance to Win Free Money</h3> <p>Last but not least, some credit unions may just be handing out money. In 2014, the Royal Credit Union in Eau Claire, Wisconsin handed out cups filled with $2 bills and fliers about the credit union to 500 students. All cups were entered into a drawing for <a href="https://www.facebook.com/likeRCU/posts/797687906961897">five real $2 bills</a>.</p> <h3>6. Opportunity to Fundraise for Your Community</h3> <p>The River Cities Community Credit Union in Atchison, Kansas hosts every year a hot dog meal fundraiser to donate to the Atchison County Food Pantry. Several credit unions host fundraisers to contribute to the local community.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line: Save the Date!</h2> <p>From a better saving rate for your deposits to a competitive new car loan to a freebie to boost your emergency fund, there is a lot you can gain from International Credit Union Day. As of December 2015, there 6,259 credit unions in the U.S. This Thursday October 20, 2016 is a great time to find out what you've been missing at your local credit union. Some special deals may only be available on that day or for a very limited time so plan ahead and use the <a href="http://mapping.ncua.gov">NCUA's credit union locator</a> to find the ones nearest you.</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/6-reasons-to-visit-your-credit-union-on-october-20">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-7"> <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-your-credit-union-is-changing-for-the-better">4 Ways Your Credit Union Is Changing — for the Better</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-benefits-and-drawbacks-of-credit-unions">The Benefits and Drawbacks of Credit Unions</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/credit-unions-vs-banks-whats-the-difference">Credit Unions vs. Banks: What&#039;s the Difference?</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/9-good-reasons-to-choose-a-credit-union-instead-of-a-bank">9 Good Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Instead of a Bank</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/switch-to-a-better-bank-in-5-easy-steps">Switch to a Better Bank in 5 Easy Steps</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking accounts community credit unions freebies international credit union day local business lower fees membership Wed, 19 Oct 2016 10:30:14 +0000 Damian Davila 1815062 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Get Divorced http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-get-divorced <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-get-divorced" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/marriage_money_000050529986.jpg" alt="Married couple making money moves when getting divorced" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Half of all marriages end in divorce. And while hiring a lawyer is commonly an instinctive first move, seeking guidance from a financial adviser isn't &mdash; and it should be. Severing ties with a spouse means cutting the cord on matters both emotional and financial. And it's smart to discuss each and every one of them with a professional if you're not equipped to handle them yourself. Read on for our roundup of the important money moves to make the moment you say, &quot;I don't.&quot;</p> <h2>1. Know Your Assets</h2> <p>It's imperative that you understand your assets &mdash; what you have as a couple, as well as what you're entitled to after the split. This includes what you want, what you need, and what you lawfully ought to get. You should know, for instance, that assets acquired during marriage are divided in accordance to laws that vary by state. Learn those laws and how they'll apply to you.</p> <p>Start a file and fill it with photocopies of your financial records. Seek out professional help if you come across something you don't understand. And, if you don't already know the role your spouse has played in handling your shared finances, find out. Then, educate yourself on those duties so that, post-divorce, you'll be able to pick up his or her slack when you're on your own. Taking the time to develop this level of fluency in your financial state of affairs is the best preparation for life after divorce. And it's a great way to begin to position yourself for good financial health once the divorce process is over and done with.</p> <h2>2. Know Your Child Custody Strategy</h2> <p>If you have children, there are important questions you need to be able to answer. Which parent will live with the children? How will you coordinate visitation rights? What are the child support payment requirements in your state, and who will enforce them when the divorce is finalized? How will you and your soon-to-be ex approach saving for your child's higher education? Child custody mediation is one way of processing all of this. With the help of a neutral third party, parents can sometimes work together to chart a plan for parenting after the split.</p> <p>Another option is arbitration, in which the arbitrator acts like a mediator but also has authority to make legally binding decisions. Mediators, on the other hand, simply guide parents through the process of coming to an agreement about custody matters on their own.</p> <h2>3. Terminate Joint Accounts</h2> <p>In your journey to protect yourself from any possible financial liabilities, one of the first actions you should take is to inform your bank of the pending change in your marital situation. Consider canceling any bank accounts or credit cards you share jointly with your spouse and opening new ones exclusively for yourself. You should also terminate or change the password on any online accounts you jointly held: email, social media, Apple ID, and so on.</p> <p>However, you should discuss these moves with your spouse before your make them, and invite his or her input on how to go about handling them. Be amicable whenever possible. And most importantly, keep track of whose money is in each account &mdash; this will be important information during the division of assets.</p> <h2>4. Pinpoint the &quot;Date of Separation&quot;</h2> <p>In some states, the date of separation is the day on which one spouse informed the other of their intent to file for divorce. In others, it's the date on which a married couple physically separates &mdash; for instance, the day one spouse moves out of the house. Then there are those states that mark the date of separation as the day on which the divorce is finalized in court. Find out the guidelines for your state and use them to determine your own date of separation.</p> <p>This date is important because it draws the dividing line between all of the assets and income that the court will deem as marital property and everything that you and your spouse own separately. The implications can be enormous. For example, a big bonus, salary raise, or any debt acquired by one spouse before the date of separation would likely be considered marital property that will be divided between the couple. Income and assets acquired after the date of separation do not need to be divided.</p> <h2>5. Determine Whether You Need a Lawyer, Financial Adviser, or Both</h2> <p>An attorney isn't required in order to process a divorce &mdash; but one can be helpful. If you and your spouse can trust one another to negotiate fairly, then you might not need to involve any attorneys, which will help keep down costs. But if you can't agree to play fair and square, then it might be smart to lawyer up. Determine where you stand.</p> <p>When it comes to deciding whether you need a financial adviser, the litmus test is actually quite simple: Do you thoroughly understand your current financial situation and how it will change once you are divorced? Do you understand all of the options available to you in your quest to limit your financial liabilities? If you answered a confident &quot;Yes&quot; to these questions, you probably don't need to seek the help of a financial adviser, though you may want to anyway. If you answered &quot;No,&quot; then the financial benefits you'll attain through hiring a financial adviser will likely outweigh the cost.</p> <p><em>What other moves should you make when you decide to get divorced? Share with us in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-get-divorced">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-manage-your-money-during-a-spousal-separation">How to Manage Your Money During a Spousal Separation</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/ow-do-you-deal-with-family-members-who-are-bad-at-managing-money">How Do You Deal With Family Members Who Are Bad At Managing Money?</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-financial-gifts-mom-will-love-for-mothers-day">6 Financial Gifts Mom Will Love for Mother&#039;s Day</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-real-life-calamities-that-can-drain-your-finances-plus-how-to-defend-against-them">8 Real Life Calamities That Can Drain Your Finances (Plus How to Defend Against Them)</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-best-sites-to-help-your-kids-learn-about-money">8 Best Sites to Help Your Kids Learn About Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Family accounts child support custody divorce legal moves money moves separation Wed, 17 Feb 2016 11:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1656434 at http://www.wisebread.com Get a Grip on Your Debt: How to Obtain a Clear, Concise Financial Snapshot http://www.wisebread.com/get-a-grip-on-your-debt-how-to-obtain-a-clear-concise-financial-snapshot <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-a-grip-on-your-debt-how-to-obtain-a-clear-concise-financial-snapshot" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/292528514_2cbe446b3a_b.jpg" alt="Financial Snapshot" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This is part three of my </em><a href="#series"><strong><em>Getting Out of Debt:&nbsp;The Essentials</em></strong></a><em> series.</em></p> <p>In the first two parts of the series we laid the 'mental foundation' to start our surge against debt.&nbsp; For most, this groundwork is essential to succeeding, however there comes a time for action.&nbsp; That time is now.</p> <p>Before we can know where we are going, it helps to know where we currently <em>are.</em>&nbsp; Studying the past does little good right now.&nbsp; We want to examine our current situation, stop the bleeding, and keep our focus on moving forward and on the new habits we <em>will </em>be installing (not the old ones that led to our problems).</p> <p>A key step in the process is obtaining a clear, concise financial snapshot.</p> <h2><strong>Debt can be sneaky...</strong></h2> <p>Unfortunately, when dealing with finances (and certainly debt) one of the biggest issues is that we don't <em>realize</em> how bad our situation really is.</p> <p>The 'monthly payment' mentality adds fuel to this fire.&nbsp; Instead of considering what an items full purchase price is, we just ask ourselves, &quot;Can I afford the monthly payment?&quot;&nbsp; A $20,000 new car is much easier to swallow if we only look at the $325/month car payment.&nbsp; This is obviously a dangerous mentality, but one that is rampant in our consumerist society.</p> <p>This will be one of the first hurdles we need to overcome.&nbsp; We need to ditch the 'monthly' mentality and start looking at our overall financial situation.</p> <h2><strong>I'm not an accountant!</strong>...</h2> <p>Yeah, neither am I.&nbsp; But getting a clear and concise financial snapshot doesn't have to be rocket science.&nbsp; It doesn't take a degree or a fancy license.</p> <p>We tend to <em>excuse</em> ourselves from having to deal with the dire nature of our financial problems because we are convinced the process is <a href="http://manvsdebt.com/42-ways-to-radically-simplify-your-financial-life/">too difficult or complex</a>.</p> <p>But that's not the case at all.&nbsp; It's another justification.&nbsp; Just another hurdle to jump.</p> <h2><strong>Ignore Income and Spending</strong></h2> <p>No, I'm not crazy.&nbsp; These are essential parts of the problem (probably the two largest), however we do not need them to get our financial snapshot.&nbsp; Don't worry, we'll be attacking these two categories aggressively very soon.</p> <p>For now, we will just be piecing together the rough draft of our net worth.&nbsp; How to calculate your net worth is of a little debate in the community.&nbsp; What do you consider a positive asset? &nbsp;What do you consider a liability?&nbsp; 'Experts' have all sorts of unique definitions, but we will be keeping it super simple.&nbsp; Once again, we aren't accountants.</p> <p>For assets, be very general and focus on the big ticket items.&nbsp; Don't include personal possessions this first time around.&nbsp; Remember, go big.&nbsp; You can always come back and add later.</p> <p><strong>Assets may include:</strong></p> <ul> <li>A conservative value of any real estate.</li> <li>Current retirement accounts</li> <li>Savings accounts (and other liquid accounts)</li> <li>A <em>very</em> conservative value for each vehicle (and recreational vehicle)</li> </ul> <p>There are many more types of assets and each of the above categories are extremely broad.</p> <p>Treat liabilities in the same way.&nbsp; While your cell phone contract is technically a liability, we aren't worrying about accounting for every tiny detail at this point.&nbsp; Shoot big.</p> <p><strong>Liabilities may include:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Mortgage(s)</li> <li>Credit Cards</li> <li>Student Loans</li> <li>Business Debt</li> <li>Car loans/leases</li> </ul> <p>Basically, you are going to want to list every person or entity to which you owe money.&nbsp; Once you've covered the 'big ticket items' yourself, I strongly suggest you pull a free copy of your credit report to check for any liabilities/debts you may not remember or know of.</p> <p>When checking you credit report you should use <a href="http://annualcreditreport.com"><strong>www.AnnualCreditReport.com</strong></a>.&nbsp; This is the only site you need in 99% of situations.&nbsp; I've previously written a <a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/10/27/how-to-get-your-free-credit-report-online-a-step-by-step-guide/">step-by-step guide to this process</a> with full screenshots for those of you that are doing this for the first time.</p> <h2><strong>Organize the Lists!</strong></h2> <p>Already now we should have a rough list of our general assets, a rough list of our major debts, and a copy of our credit report.&nbsp; Now it's time to organize it into an easy-to-view snapshot.</p> <p>When organizing, I will once again suggest to make the process incredibly simple.&nbsp; It's easy for complexity to creep in, but I try to stick with 5 categories for each asset/liability.</p> <ul> <li>Name of asset/liability</li> <li>Account Number</li> <li>A <strong>rounded number</strong> of the total amount owed (or value).</li> <li>Interest Rate</li> <li>A general 'Notes' Section</li> </ul> <p>I suggest creating on simple table for your assets and one for your liabilities.&nbsp; I generally order assets with the <em>highest </em>value item on top, and I order liabilities with the <em>lowest</em> value on top.&nbsp; It doesn't matter what you do this first time around.&nbsp; Just getting the first snapshot together is the key.</p> <p>As you are adding the items on your credit report to this list, put a star next to (or write in the notes section) for each debt you believe may have an error.&nbsp; Later, you can call these debts and verify the information.&nbsp; Mistakes do happen frequently with credit reporting and correcting this simple mix ups can have a drastic effort on a lackluster credit score.</p> <p>That's it!&nbsp; There's your first snapshot.&nbsp; Keep the list handy and over the next few days and weeks you'll probably remember things to add to it.&nbsp; The more you revisit and examine the snapshot, the more clear it will become.</p> <p>Take you new list of liabilities and tape it to the refrigerator (cover up the account numbers for guest)!&nbsp; ;-)</p> <h2><a name="series"></a>Getting Out of Debt: The Essentials</h2> <p>Over each of the next couple of weeks, an additional segment of the series will be released. The links below will be updated as each new articles goes live:</p> <ol> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/acknowledge-you-have-a-problem-with-debt">Acknowledge You Have a Problem with Debt</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debt-free-living-is-attainable-if-you-want-it-you-can-have-it">Debt-Free Living IS Attainable. If You Want It, You Can Have It.</a></li> <li><strong><i>Get a Grip on Your Debt: Obtain a Clear, Concise Financial Snapshot</i></strong></li> <li><i>Dissect the Source: Understanding Your Income and Spending Habits</i></li> <li><i>Plan to Win: Debt Reduction Methods and Emergency Funds</i></li> <li><i>Aggressively Attack Your Debt</i></li> <li><i>The Art of Maintaining Motivation while Overcoming Debt</i></li> </ol> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/adam-baker">Adam Baker</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-a-grip-on-your-debt-how-to-obtain-a-clear-concise-financial-snapshot">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/best-of-personal-finance-credit-where-credit-is-due-edition">Best of Personal Finance: Credit Where Credit Is Due Edition</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/uk-banks-are-blocking-customers-credit-cards-will-the-usa-be-next">UK banks are blocking customers&#039; credit cards. Will the USA be next?</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/tips-for-increasing-your-financial-literacy">Tips for Increasing Your Financial Literacy</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-7-best-credit-card-debt-elimination-strategies">The 7 Best Credit Card Debt Elimination Strategies</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/i-dont-love-capital-one-how-to-get-a-lower-apr-or-possibly-not">How to Get a Lower APR, or Possibly Not</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management accounts debt finances Mon, 28 Dec 2009 15:28:03 +0000 Adam Baker 4292 at http://www.wisebread.com