Mistakes http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1643/all en-US 6 Moves Every First Year Freelancer Should Make http://www.wisebread.com/6-moves-every-first-year-freelancer-should-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-moves-every-first-year-freelancer-should-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/she_makes_multi_tasking_look_easy.jpg" alt="She makes multi-tasking look easy" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I started my freelance career seven years ago, I honestly had very little idea of what I was doing. I made some seriously painful mistakes that affected everything from my bottom line to my stress level to my relationships with some of my clients. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-biggest-mistakes-freelancers-make?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Biggest Mistakes Freelancers Make</a>)</p> <p>But even though self-employment mistakes are common, they're not inevitable. You can make the transition to self-employment much smoother and easier to handle if you commit to doing the following things in your first year as your own boss. Not only will you lay down the good habits and policies you'll need throughout your new career in self-employment, but these moves can also help your career start off with a bang. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/day-job-or-freelance-which-is-right-for-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Day Job or Freelance: Which Is Right for You?</a>)</p> <h2>1. Set aside 30 to 35 percent of every paycheck for taxes</h2> <p>One of the double-edged swords of working for yourself is the fact that your paychecks will generally not have any taxes withheld. While it feels pretty good to have the full amount of money you earned coming directly to you, it can really mess up your finances if you don't plan ahead for taxes.</p> <p>Many of the newly self-employed can get themselves into trouble by assuming they'll pay their quarterly estimated tax bills with whatever funds they have received as of the quarterly estimated tax due date. But Uncle Sam doesn't care if you have a slow work spell or are waiting on some payments that are not quickly forthcoming from a client &mdash; he wants you to pay the taxes you owe on time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-irs-penalties-with-this-simple-estimated-payment-strategy?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Avoid IRS Penalties With This Simple Estimated Payment Strategy</a>)</p> <p>You can bypass the quarterly stress of finding the necessary funds to pay your tax bill by specifically setting aside 30 to 35 percent of every check you receive. This does take a depressingly large bite out of your paychecks, but it gives you the peace of mind to know that you will be able to cover your estimated tax payments. In addition, by putting this money into a savings account, you can earn a little interest &mdash; which already puts you financially ahead of folks who have their taxes withheld.</p> <p>If your diligent savings of 30 to 35 percent of each paycheck means you have more money than you need for taxes in your first year of self-employment, then you can always use the leftover money to reinvest in your business or smooth over any lean months in your second year of self-employment. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-i-learned-about-money-after-i-went-freelance?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Things I Learned About Money After I Went Freelance</a>)</p> <h2>2. Hire an accountant</h2> <p>Speaking of taxes, they are going to get more complex now that you have begun working for yourself. While it is certainly possible for you to complete your taxes all by yourself as you've done in the past, the money you spend on an accountant for your self-employment taxes can both save you time and lower your stress. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-free-accounting-tools-for-freelancers?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Free Accounting Tools for Freelancers</a>)</p> <p>Asking for referrals from trusted colleagues or small business owners can be the best way to find the right accountant or tax professional for your needs. Don't let this important part of self-employment go on the back burner. Having an accountant throughout your first year of self-employment can help you to accurately pay your quarterly estimated taxes on time, and take advantage of deductions and other tax benefits that you might otherwise miss.</p> <h2>3. Determine your payment floor</h2> <p>During my first year as a freelancer, an educational company contracted me to write lesson plans for English teachers. I had been working as an English teacher before my freelancing career, and I loved that this company was committed to using humor in all of its resources. I thought it was a perfect fit, and I quoted them a price per lesson plan that felt reasonable for my expertise (and comedic chops). They offered me a fifth of what I asked for. Since I was worried that I wouldn't be able to actually make a living as a freelancer, I took the job.</p> <p>It was a huge mistake.</p> <p>Here's why: The amount of work that I put into each lesson plan meant I was earning less than minimum wage for my hours of toil. It took me months to get through the initial contract of 10 lesson plans, in part because I knew how little I was making and it was difficult to prioritize this client over those who paid more for less work.</p> <p>Even though the company loved my work, we parted ways after I finished the first round of lesson plans. They were just as happy to get a quicker and less-funny turnaround from another freelancer who did not have my expertise. I was glad to no longer be working so hard for a company that did not financially value my contributions.</p> <p>After this experience, I learned to figure out my payment floor &mdash; the least amount of money my time was worth. Once I knew my payment floor, it became much easier to recognize which jobs were worth my time, and which jobs would leave me feeling overworked and resentful. Knowing your payment floor may seem premature in your first year of self-employment since you feel like you are hustling just to capture enough clients to keep the lights on. But you are better off holding out for clients who value you, rather than taking any job, no matter how low the pay.</p> <h2>4. Build free time into your schedule</h2> <p>There are a couple of common scheduling traps that can trip up the newly self-employed:</p> <ul style="margin-left: 40px;"> <li> <p>Working all the time. Since you are now completely in control of your schedule and your career, and since you presumably love what you do, it can be very easy to throw yourself into your work 24/7.</p> </li> <li> <p>The planning fallacy. Even after seven years as a freelancer, I still <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-your-projects-always-take-longer-than-you-expect?ref=internal" target="_blank">underestimate how long it will take</a> me to complete a project, because it never occurs to me that my kids might get sick, my internet might go out, my research might uncover more complex issues than I anticipated, or that I might be struck down by an unexpected nap after eating too many carbs for lunch.</p> </li> <li> <p>Lack of discipline. For some newly self-employed individuals, it can be difficult to stick to self-imposed (or even client-imposed) deadlines if you don't have a boss to keep you honest. It's a lot harder to succeed in self-employment if you have trouble sticking to a work schedule.</p> </li> </ul> <p>All three of these scheduling mistakes can be helped by building free time into your schedule. Forcing yourself to take time off from your otherwise nonstop work will prevent burnout and allow you to be far more productive. Having a free afternoon built into each week has helped me to improve my on-time percentage, because it leaves some slack for when life happens and I'm not able to finish things according to my pie-in-the-sky planning assumptions. And anyone who struggles with self-discipline will generally have an easier time forcing themselves to work if they know that there is free time coming. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-employed-tips-for-taking-time-off-without-trauma?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Self-Employed? Tips for Taking Time Off Without Trauma</a>)</p> <h2>5. Capture excess income in a savings account</h2> <p>When you are self-employed, there will be some months when several paychecks or client payments come in all at once. This can feel pretty great, especially if you can thank your own hustle for making it rain, but it's important to be disciplined about this kind of excess income and put it in a savings account. That's because you are likely to have a low-income month sooner or later, and that excess income can be the difference between you being able to pay your bills as usual and you having to go grocery shopping with couch cushion change. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-sep-ira-is-how-the-self-employed-do-retirement-like-a-boss?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The SEP-IRA Is How the Self-Employed Do Retirement Like a BOSS</a>)</p> <p>During your fat-paycheck months, you should not only set aside the 30 to 35 percent you put away for your taxes, but you should also put whatever additional excess income you can afford into a &quot;rainy day&quot; savings account. This account is where you will go to get the money you need to keep everything running smoothly during any lean months. And like your taxes savings account, if you don't end up needing to dip into this rainy day savings account, that means you will have money already set aside that you can potentially invest back into your business. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-budget-consistently-without-a-steady-paycheck?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Budget Consistently Without a Steady Paycheck</a>)</p> <h2>6. Insist on clear contracts</h2> <p>Everyone who has ventured into self-employment has at least one story about being stiffed out of payment from a client. For instance, in my first year of freelancing, I was hired to write for a startup parenting website. I wrote several articles for the site, but I was only paid for one of the half dozen pieces I provided them. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-freelancers-can-make-sure-they-get-paid-on-time?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways Freelancers Can Make Sure They Get Paid on Time</a>)</p> <p>The client was in the wrong for not paying me &mdash; but I also made a mistake in accepting work from them without a contract. Our arrangement was based on nothing more than email exchanges and a phone call. We did not have a contract that spelled out our legal expectations of each other, which meant it would have been very difficult for me to pursue the client for the money they owed me.</p> <p>In addition, contracts are also helpful for defining the scope of a project and specifying the details of a termination fee. A contract that outlines the specific timeline and deliverables will protect you from having to revisit the same project over and over again for no extra money if your client insists on more edits or revisions or a larger scope than you expected. Similarly, if your client decides to end your project, having a contract that specifies the termination fee you'll receive under such circumstances will protect you from having wasted your time.</p> <h2>Welcome to self-employment!</h2> <p>You can set yourself up for se<span id="1508499285936S" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span>lf-employment success in your very first year as your own boss. Planning ahead for everything from taxes to lean months to time management to contractual disputes will help you create a self-employment career that you'll love for years to come. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/freelancing-a-beginner-s-guide-to-doing-it-right?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Freelancing: A Beginner's Guide to Doing It Right</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" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-moves-every-first-year-freelancer-should-make&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Moves%2520Every%2520First%2520Year%2520Freelancer%2520Should%2520Make.jpg&amp;description=6%20Moves%20Every%20First%20Year%20Freelancer%20Should%20Make"></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%20Moves%20Every%20First%20Year%20Freelancer%20Should%20Make.jpg" alt="6 Moves Every First Year Freelancer Should Make" 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/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-moves-every-first-year-freelancer-should-make">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/the-5-biggest-mistakes-freelancers-make">The 5 Biggest Mistakes Freelancers Make</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-budget-consistently-without-a-steady-paycheck">How to Budget Consistently Without a Steady Paycheck</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> Entrepreneurship budgeting contracts free time freelance Mistakes payments self employment taxes variable income Mon, 30 Oct 2017 08:30:14 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2039970 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Career Moves That Prove You're Finally a Grown-Up http://www.wisebread.com/8-career-moves-that-prove-youre-finally-a-grown-up <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-career-moves-that-prove-youre-finally-a-grown-up" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/buisnessman_using_laptop.jpg" alt="Businessman Using Laptop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your career takes up a huge chunk of your life, and over the years, you will mature in many aspects of it. However, some of us will reach different levels of maturity at different stages of our careers.</p> <p>Being a grown-up at work is all about attitude and decision-making rather than age and experience. You don't have to wait until you're older to try any of these mature career moves.</p> <h2>1. Asking for a raise or promotion</h2> <p>There are several ways to get a raise or promotion. The first is that you put in the hard work, the boss notices, and you get rewarded. The second is that you are offered a higher paying job somewhere else, and you ask the company to match it. The third is that you sit around hoping you'll get one, and maybe you'll get lucky. And the fourth is to just go and ask for one.</p> <p>By far the most surefire way to get what you want is to ask for it. If it's been awhile since your last pay bump, you know you're not getting the money you deserve, or you did something outstanding, then collect the evidence, book a time, and make your case to your boss. More often than not, you will get a good result. It also makes you look more confident and professional. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-should-always-negotiate-a-raise-here-are-10-reasons-why?ref=seealso" target="_blank">You Should Always Negotiate a Raise: Here Are 10 Reasons Why</a>)</p> <h2>2. Having a career, not just a job</h2> <p>A job is a task that someone is paid for. A career is an occupation with opportunities for advancement. Which one are you currently in?</p> <p>Some people might say working behind the counter at McDonald's is just a job, but that's not necessarily true. If that person wants to one day run their own franchise, that's a career. On the flip side, you could be sitting in an office wearing a suit and tie and going nowhere fast.</p> <p>It's all about motivation, resolve, and looking to the future. If you can honestly say that you are focused on that right now, that's a great sign of maturity. If you're coasting and collecting a paycheck without thinking about where you'll be in five years, you may need to reevaluate. Soon. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-6-common-job-traps-derail-your-career?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Let These 6 Common Job Traps Derail Your Career</a>)</p> <h2>3. Making peace with coworkers you dislike</h2> <p>Every workplace has them: It's the guy who points out every mistake you make, but never notices the good stuff. It's the woman who complains every time you raise your voice above a whisper. It's the boss who has office favorites, and you're not one of them. The people we work with are capable of making our work lives miserable. But once you realize that only <em>you</em> have the power to make yourself feel bad, it can be life-altering.</p> <p>Let the stupidity of their actions roll off your back. Don't contribute to their negative energy. Make an effort to find the nice part of their personality. At the end of the day, you'll be the bigger person and you'll feel better for it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-youre-driving-your-coworkers-insane?ref=seealso" target="_blank">12 Ways You're Driving Your Co-workers Insane</a>)</p> <h2>4. Taking genuine responsibility for mistakes</h2> <p>It's not easy to admit to a mistake, especially in a corporate environment. Finger pointing is rife, and assigning blame to other people is commonplace. But as Bruce Lee so famously said, &quot;Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.&quot; The key word here is <em>courage</em>. It takes real maturity to step up and say something like, &quot;That's my fault, I should have been more prepared.&quot; Is it something that could get you in trouble? Possibly. But the other option is hiding from the truth or blaming others, and that's not very mature.</p> <h2>5. Chasing real growth, not accolades</h2> <p>Accolades may come in the form of trophies or awards, or they may be a pay raise or promotion. And while they are certainly nice to have, if they are your <em>only</em> source of motivation, you're missing out on the inner growth necessary to become a better employee. Work is most enjoyable when it's fulfilling, and if you're stuck in a cycle of chasing praise and rewards, it can start to feel very empty. Put those carrots to the side and focus instead on becoming your best self. Then, you'll have really stepped into the grown-up world.</p> <h2>6. No longer engaging in water cooler gossip</h2> <p>Let's keep this one short and sweet, because it's obvious: If you're hanging around the breakroom or water cooler engaging in all kinds of gossip, you're not even close to being a grown-up. Leave that to the kids and concentrate on doing a better job. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-office-politics-goofs-that-can-set-your-career-back-years?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Office Politics Goofs That Can Set Your Career Back Years</a>)</p> <h2>7. Asking for help</h2> <p>As much as it takes guts to admit a mistake, it also takes courage to admit you cannot do something that was asked of you. If you play pretend, or spend sleepless nights wondering how on earth you are going to get something done, you're not being very grown-up about the problem.</p> <p>A sign of real maturity is to look around and see who is actually ideal for this task. You have your own set of skills, other people have theirs. Find someone who can do this job well and ask for help. Or, ask to trade projects if it's feasible. It will be better for everyone. And remember, one day someone will come to you, nervous and unsure, asking for the same kind of help.</p> <h2>8. Offering to help coworkers</h2> <p>Whether you're in an office or working on a factory floor, there are jobs that need doing. And these jobs are usually assigned to specific people. After you've spent a few years in your career, especially in corporate America, it's easy to have a &quot;head down, do my own job, stay out of other people's problems&quot; mentality.</p> <p>If you can get over all of that and help people out whenever you have the time, it shows real maturity. Sure, the other person may take credit, or may have gotten themselves into the mess they're in. But by being the bigger person, you will shine as a great employee. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-improve-your-performance-at-work?ref=seealso" target="_blank">12 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work</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" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F8-career-moves-that-prove-youre-finally-a-grown-up&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F8%2520Career%2520Moves%2520That%2520Prove%2520Youre%2520Finally%2520a%2520Grown-Up.jpg&amp;description=8%20Career%20Moves%20That%20Prove%20Youre%20Finally%20a%20Grown-Up"></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/u5180/8%20Career%20Moves%20That%20Prove%20Youre%20Finally%20a%20Grown-Up.jpg" alt="8 Career Moves That Prove You're Finally a Grown-Up" 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/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-career-moves-that-prove-youre-finally-a-grown-up">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-ugly-truth-of-workplace-success-popularity-still-matters">The Ugly Truth of Workplace Success: Popularity Still Matters</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-absolute-worst-ways-to-ask-for-a-raise">The Absolute Worst Ways to Ask for a Raise</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/become-a-model-employee-with-this-10-point-work-etiquette-checklist">Become a Model Employee With This 10-Point Work Etiquette Checklist</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-free-ways-to-impress-your-boss">10 Free Ways to Impress Your Boss</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-tips-for-better-workplace-body-language">7 Tips for Better Workplace Body Language</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building asking for help asking for raise career moves coworkers grown-up maturity Mistakes promotions self growth self improvement Fri, 20 Oct 2017 08:00:06 +0000 Paul Michael 2038478 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Common Mistakes You're Making With Your Checking Account http://www.wisebread.com/9-common-mistakes-youre-making-with-your-checking-account <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-common-mistakes-youre-making-with-your-checking-account" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/working_at_home_0.jpg" alt="Working at home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of us think about our checking account in only one way: Is there enough money in it? While that's certainly the most important piece of the puzzle, there are plenty of other things to consider to ensure that you're getting all the bangs for your bucks. Beware of these common, costly mistakes you might be making with your checking account.</p> <h2>1. Maintaining a lower balance than you need to cover your expenses</h2> <p>Your top concern regarding your checking account should always be that you have enough money in there to cover your expenses &mdash; even more so if you subscribe to direct deposit and/or autopay services. By engaging in the latter, you're essentially putting machines in charge of your finances, which, while convenient, are not always accurate. If you don't have enough money to cover your bills, you know what happens &mdash; you dip into the negative and you're slapped with insufficient funds or overdraft charges, further dragging you into the red. This oversight also can affect your credit score if you miss the payment for 30 days or more. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-autopay?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Pros and Cons of Autopay</a>)</p> <p>The best you can do for yourself is to commit to keeping your bills covered by your checking account and staying on top of your auto-deposit payments to maintain a positive and accurate balance.</p> <h2>2. Keeping more money than you need in your checking account</h2> <p>Keeping enough money in your checking account to cover your expenses should be your main focus, but you also may be doing yourself a disservice by keeping too much money in that account. It's a balancing act, for sure &mdash; but if your surplus can benefit you someplace other than your checking account, you need to move it.</p> <p>Says Michael Banks, founder of personal finance blog The Fortunate Investor, &quot;Money that sits in a checking account accumulates very little in interest. [Some banks], however, offer investor checking accounts that allow you to invest your checking account funds to maximize growth. You don't need to invest all of your money, and it's easy to keep two accounts and transfer as much into your investing account as you feel comfortable with; but the more you invest the more you stand to gain in the long run.&quot;</p> <p>If the idea of an &quot;investment&quot; account gives you anxiety, then consider <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-a-retirement-account-whats-available-and-what-s-best-for-you" target="_blank">opening a Roth IRA</a> or at least finding a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-online-savings-accounts?ref=internal" target="_blank">high-yield savings account</a> instead.</p> <h2>3. Limiting your access to in-network ATMs</h2> <p>When I first moved to Manhattan, there were only a handful of my bank's in-network ATMs on the entire island, none of which were near my apartment. I was never close enough to one when I needed cash, so the fees added up quickly (some out-of-network ATMs charged up to $5 per transaction). This went on for a few months before I wised up, did my research on the most abundant ATM locations in New York City, and switched banks. If you're banking someplace and the ATM locations are prohibitive to you, consider banking elsewhere; you could save a bundle in time and fees. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-make-sure-you-never-pay-an-atm-fee?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways to Make Sure You Never Pay an ATM Fee</a>)</p> <h2>4. Paying fees just to have a checking account at a particular institution</h2> <p>Some banks charge a monthly checking account fee if you don't keep a minimum balance in it &mdash; say $1,500, for example. If you don't like keeping excess funds in your checking account, it does not make sense to pay a premium to bank with an institution that charges you for moving money around. Another option you have is opening a free checking account at a credit union.</p> <p>According to a 2016 Bankrate survey, 76 percent of credit unions offer free checking accounts. This is good news in a time when free checking at banks continues to decline almost every year. The survey also noted that an additional 22 percent of credit unions are willing to waive their monthly fee for meeting certain requirements such as signing up for direct deposit or paperless statements. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-paying-these-6-unfair-banking-fees?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">Are You Paying These 6 Unfair Banking Fees?</a>)</p> <h2>5. Spending without checking your balance</h2> <p>Do you know exactly how much money is in your checking account right now? What about a close estimate? If the answer is no, you're not staying on top of your money well enough &mdash; and you definitely shouldn't be pulling out your debit card when your balance is in flux. Before you make a purchase that you even think could compromise your balance, log into your account (easy to do with your mobile app; I log into mine with a fingerprint), and manage your money wisely.</p> <h2>6. Ignoring your transaction history</h2> <p>You need to stay on top of what payments are being deducted from your checking account, even if they haven't actually been deducted yet. Continuing to spend when payments are pending could spell disaster.</p> <p>&quot;Check your account every couple of days to ensure transactions have been posted,&quot; advises Natasha Rachel Smith, personal finance expert at TopCashback. &quot;Be aware of holds on your account as a result of a retailer or merchant requesting authorization of a purchase. For example, gas stations and hotels could put a hold on your account until the actual transaction clears, so be mindful of these transactions when viewing your available funds. I also recommend checking on your transactions for fraudulent charges and reporting them as soon as possible.&quot;</p> <h2>7. Not subscribing to overdraft protection</h2> <p>Banks typically charge a $35 overdraft fee, and it's important to keep that in mind when you know your checking account is getting low. You also should fortify your account with overdraft protection if it makes sense for you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-avoid-overdraft-charges?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Ways to Avoid Overdraft Charges</a>)</p> <p>&quot;Although opting out of overdraft protection can be ideal to not get hit with overdraft fees on debit card purchases, your bank can still charge you non-sufficient funds fee for checks and bill payments that can be comparable to an overdraft fee,&quot; Smith explains. &quot;It is ideal to opt out of overdraft protection when you have a savings account with the same bank. Typically, if you have both, the overdraft fee is less. If you choose to opt in to overdraft protection, always be cautious so you avoid the charge.&quot;</p> <h2>8. Assuming that every debit charge is legit</h2> <p>Once a week I go through my checking accounts to make sure all the debit charges are legit. There have been a few occasions where I've noticed an error &mdash; a fraudulent charge, a subscription I canceled, an incorrect amount charged for an expense that I authorized, or a price hike in my existing memberships. If I didn't do my due diligence and address these errors, nobody else would have. Check in on your money to make sure the numbers are correct.</p> <h2>9. Linking to online retailers you know nothing about</h2> <p>It's becoming more and more common &mdash; especially around the holidays &mdash; for shoppers' financial information to be compromised by a security breach. I'm not going to tell you to stop shopping online altogether, because that's just impractical, but I will urge you to be more responsible in where you spend your money and save your banking information.</p> <p>First, make sure the website is secure. The &quot;https://&quot; distinction designates a secure site, opposed to the more common &quot;http://&quot; protocol identifier for sites that don't require any user information.</p> <p>Second, use common sense. While it's not impossible for well-known retailers with an arsenal of security resources to get hacked, it's much more likely to happen to the small-potatoes shops that can't afford top notch security. Of course, these smaller retailers don't have as much to offer hackers in the way of identity theft. But in any case, use your best judgment when providing your financial info online to prevent being a victim. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Dangers of Mobile Banking &mdash; And How to Avoid Them</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" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F9-common-mistakes-youre-making-with-your-checking-account&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F9%2520Common%2520Mistakes%2520Youre%2520Making%2520With%2520Your%2520Checking%2520Account.jpg&amp;description=9%20Common%20Mistakes%20Youre%20Making%20With%20Your%20Checking%20Account"></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/u5180/9%20Common%20Mistakes%20Youre%20Making%20With%20Your%20Checking%20Account.jpg" alt="9 Common Mistakes You're Making With Your Checking Account" 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/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-common-mistakes-youre-making-with-your-checking-account">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-reasons-your-card-got-declined-and-how-to-fix-it">7 Reasons Your Card Got Declined (And How to Fix It)</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/avoid-bank-fees">Avoid Bank Fees</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-signs-its-time-to-find-a-new-bank">5 Signs It&#039;s Time to Find a New Bank</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-things-you-need-to-know-before-taking-out-a-personal-loan">10 Things You Need to Know Before Taking Out a Personal Loan</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-credit-repair-mistakes-that-will-cost-you">8 Credit Repair Mistakes That Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking atms autopay checking accounts debit fees insufficient funds Mistakes overdraft transaction history transfers Tue, 17 Oct 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 2035900 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Read a Credit Report http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-read-a-credit-report" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-503389404_0.jpg" alt="Man learning how to read a credit report" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Building and maintaining your credit history takes time and dedication. While there are many things you can do when shooting for that perfect 850 FICO score, checking your free credit report every year from AnnualCreditReport.com is among the best personal finance habits. Once you have a copy of your credit report, let's review step-by-step what to look for.</p> <h2>1. Check your personal information</h2> <p>First things first: Make sure that your credit report correctly shows your name, Social Security Number (SSN), phone number, and address. The three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) keep track of all variations of names and SSNs reported as belonging to you.</p> <p>You can easily rectify a small error, such as a misspelling, absence of a hyphen in a last name, or transposition of a street number by contacting the credit bureau and providing supporting documentation. Keep an eye out for information that you don't recognize at all &mdash; this may be a sign of identity theft. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a>)</p> <h2>2. Verify it's really you</h2> <p>Even after checking that your full name and address are correct, you may recognize some accounts on your report that belong to somebody else in your household. In this case, you may be a victim of a mixed file &mdash; when the credit information of two individuals sharing the same name gets mixed up in a single report.</p> <p>This can be a potential issue in multigenerational homes with several family members sharing the exact name. For example, John Smith Jr. opens a store card but the credit bureaus list the account on the father's report (John Smith Sr.) instead of the son's. That would be a mixed file.</p> <h2>3. Watch out for errors in account ownership</h2> <p>Going back to the example of the father and son, the father may have decided to open the store card in his name, and then add his son as an authorized user, or vice versa. Make sure that reported accounts are only the ones for which <em>you</em> are the owner.</p> <h2>4. Look out for accounts incorrectly reported as late or delinquent</h2> <p>Unless you were more than 30 days past due, you shouldn't have a late or delinquent note on any debt. So, report this right away. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clear-old-debt-from-your-credit-report?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Clear Old Debt From Your Credit Report</a>)</p> <p>If you recently made a payment and your account is now current, keep in mind that there is often a lag when credit bureaus report such incidents. Follow up with the company owning your debt and verify that it has notified the credit bureaus. Keeping your accounts current is critical, because payment history makes up 35 percent of your FICO credit score.</p> <h2>5. Validate key account dates</h2> <p>The most important date to verify is the date that an account was opened, because the length of your credit history accounts for 15 percent of your FICO credit score. Other important dates to verify are date of last payment, and date of first delinquency.</p> <h2>6. Beware accounts listed twice</h2> <p>It can happen! Possible sources of this error are when you upgrade a credit card with the same company, or refinance a loan with the same financial institution. Another possibility is that somebody opened an account on your behalf without your consent.</p> <p>You also need to watch out for companies transferring the ownership of a delinquent account over to collections agencies. While you're still responsible for paying back what you owe, you're definitely not liable to receive a double (or triple!) whammy on your credit score for the same mistake.</p> <h2>7. Double check credit limits and balances</h2> <p>Double check that your account balances are within a range you recognize, and that your credit card limits are up to date. After all, 30 percent of your FICO score is based on your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score" target="_blank">credit utilization ratio</a> &mdash; your total credit card balances divided by your total credit card limits. For example, an outstanding balance of $4,000 with total credit limit of $15,000 would put your credit utilization ratio at 26 percent. The more available credit you have, the lower your credit utilization ratio will be. Most experts recommend this ratio should not exceed 30 percent.</p> <h2>8. Keep an eye on public records</h2> <p>A bankruptcy isn't the only reason you might end up with a public record on your account. Unpaid driving violations, library fines, or other penalties from money owed to the government will come to haunt you on your credit report. Depending on many factors, public records can stay on your report for up to seven years, even after taking care of them. This means that the best time to take care of them is now. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-credit-report-mistakes-that-could-be-costing-you-big?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Credit Report Mistakes That Could Be Costing You Big</a>)</p> <h2>9. Corroborate that corrected information has been posted</h2> <p>Chances are at some point, you'll eventually have to report an error. When this happens, always follow up to check that the incorrect information has been replaced and corrected.</p> <h2>What to do if you find an error</h2> <p>If you find any errors in your credit report, refer to the instructions on your credit report to dispute inaccurate or missing data. Here is a <a href="http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/092016_cfpb__CreditReportingSampleLetter.pdf" target="_blank">useful template</a> from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to initiate disputes with the credit bureaus by mail or fax. Or, you can file a dispute online with <a href="https://www.equifax.com/personal/disputes" target="_blank">Equifax</a>, <a href="http://www.experian.com/disputes/main.html" target="_blank">Experian</a>, or <a href="https://www.transunion.com/credit-disputes/dispute-your-credit" target="_blank">TransUnion</a>.</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-to-read-a-credit-report">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/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</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-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</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/heres-how-often-your-credit-score-gets-calculated">Here&#039;s How Often Your Credit Score Gets Calculated</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/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</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/should-you-always-dispute-mistakes-on-your-credit-report">Should You Always Dispute Mistakes on Your Credit Report?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit bureaus credit reports credit utilization ratio disputes Equifax errors Experian fico filing claims how to read Mistakes TransUnion Thu, 11 May 2017 08:00:09 +0000 Damian Davila 1942663 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-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/8-signs-its-time-to-retire">8 Signs It&#039;s Time to 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/13-financial-steps-to-take-before-retiring-abroad">13 Financial Steps to Take Before Retiring Abroad</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/social-security-is-not-a-ponzi-scheme">Social Security Is Not a Ponzi Scheme</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-face-these-7-scary-facts-about-retirement-saving">How to Face These 7 Scary Facts About Retirement Saving</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-age-milestones-that-impact-your-retirement">6 Age Milestones That Impact Your Retirement</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 7 Things You Should Never Include in Your Cover Letter http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-should-never-include-in-your-cover-letter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-things-you-should-never-include-in-your-cover-letter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_work_thinking_473428184.jpg" alt="Woman learning things she should never include on a cover letter" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Writing the perfect cover letter is a job skill unto itself. In just a few paragraphs, you need to capture the reader's attention and expertly sell your skills and experience, all while striking the right professional tone.</p> <p>It's tempting to slap something together and tell yourself that your resume is more important. Truth be told, though, your cover letter is a key part of the package. Avoiding these seven cover letter gaffes will get you through the interview door faster.</p> <h2>1. Wrong information</h2> <p>Make sure that you have all the details right. Double check that you have the correct company name and spelling, the correct job title, the right address, and, where necessary, the correct name of the hiring manager.</p> <p>If you don't have the name of the hiring manager, you can often find it by calling the company's human resources department. Let HR know which position you're applying for and ask, &quot;To whom should I address my cover letter?&quot; They won't always tell you, but sometimes they will.</p> <p>Also double check your own personal information, including your name, address, email, and phone number. It may sound like common sense, but you'd be surprised how often these tiny typos cost people a job opportunity. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/almost-half-of-job-applicants-make-this-same-foolish-mistake?ref=seealso">Almost Half of Job Applicants Make This Same Foolish Mistake</a>)</p> <h2>2. Poor writing</h2> <p>Use complete sentences. Spell words correctly. Check (and have someone else check) your grammar and punctuation. You want this letter to be the best possible reflection of who you are and how you work, and making silly mistakes won't put your best self forward.</p> <h2>3. What you're lacking</h2> <p>Don't mention any skills or qualifications that you don't have. The cover letter is not the place to bring up any shortcomings.</p> <p>Instead, use this as an opportunity to sell yourself. Tell the potential employer why your skills and experiences are a perfect fit for the position. Remember, your cover letter isn't actually about you. It's about the company you'd like to work for and why you would be a good fit for them. Wow them with what you're offering, and maybe they won't even notice the experience you don't have.</p> <h2>4. Generic, cliché language</h2> <p>Show that you care and that you spent time on your cover letter by eliminating any generic, cliché phrases that could be part of any cover letter, for any job. Don't say that you're a &quot;team player&quot; with &quot;leadership experience&quot; who is also a &quot;hard worker.&quot; Nothing about that is unique, and it'll do nothing to differentiate you from other applicants.</p> <p>Instead, fill your letter with facts that demonstrate your unique skills. Emphasize results whenever possible. Talk about how you led a diverse team to solve a particular problem, or increased revenue by X percent. Then, explain how you would bring those skills to your new job.</p> <h2>5. Lies</h2> <p>Most people who lie on a cover letter don't do so intentionally. They panic &mdash; maybe feel inadequate &mdash; and then they either make something up or, more often, stretch the truth so it looks like they have more experience or qualifications than they actually do.</p> <p>The problem is, these things are easy to check, and besides &mdash; why would you want a job requiring skills you don't actually have? Instead, focus on qualifications you do have. If you feel tempted to stretch the truth often, maybe you need to look at different jobs or take some online courses so you actually have the skills you need for the work you want to do.</p> <h2>6. Personal information</h2> <p>This is not the time to talk about your dog, or your divorce, or about how you need this job because you have to support your three kids all on your own. Yes, those are important things to you, but they don't belong in your cover letter.</p> <p>Like I mentioned above, the cover letter isn't actually about you. It's about the company where you're applying, and how you can make it better. Even if your need for work is desperate, or if there are some personal things you think the company should know about you before they make a decision, the cover letter isn't the place to list them. Wait for an interview.</p> <h2>7. Long paragraphs</h2> <p>No one wants to read a wall of text, especially when they are scanning cover letters for keywords. So, keep your paragraphs short and limit your letter to a single page.</p> <p>This means that you have to be pithy in what you say. Straightforward is usually best. Describe your experience and qualifications, highlight how they satisfy key requirements of the job you're applying for, and then wrap it up. More words aren't necessarily better.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-should-never-include-in-your-cover-letter">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-keep-your-job-search-a-secret">How to Keep Your Job Search a Secret</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/11-ways-college-grads-can-get-ahead-in-the-job-hunt">11 Ways College Grads Can Get Ahead in the Job Hunt</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/the-proper-ways-to-discuss-salary-in-a-job-interview">The Proper Ways to Discuss Salary in a Job Interview</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/almost-half-of-job-applicants-make-this-same-foolish-mistake">Almost Half of Job Applicants Make This Same Foolish Mistake</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/4-resume-rules-you-should-be-breaking">4 Resume Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Job Hunting advice career cover letters employment job applications Mistakes new jobs resumes Tue, 18 Apr 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1929793 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do When Your Tax Preparer Makes a Mistake http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-501391448.jpg" alt="Man learning what to do when a tax preparer makes a mistake" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You might think that hiring a tax preparer to file your income taxes will guarantee a mistake-free return. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong.</p> <p>In 2015, the National Consumer Law Center used mystery shoppers to test the work of 29 tax preparers. The results were surprising: Only two of the returns compiled by these preparers came in error-free. That's bad news for a lot of people. USA Today reported in February that almost <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2017/02/06/should-you-do-your-taxes-yourself-hire-tax-preparer/97198816/" target="_blank">79 million e-filed tax returns</a> were completed last year by professional tax preparers.</p> <p>And here's even more bad news: The IRS says that if your tax preparer makes a mistake resulting in you having to pay additional taxes, interest, or penalties, <em>you</em> are responsible for paying these fees &mdash; not your tax preparer.</p> <p>If your tax preparer does make a mistake on your return, what can you do? Here are five suggestions.</p> <h2>1. Contact your preparer</h2> <p>If the IRS sends you a letter claiming that there are mistakes on your taxes, call your tax preparer for an explanation. Tax preparers who do make mistakes might offer to pay any fees, penalties, or interest charges for you. This might not restore your confidence in their abilities, but it will help save your budget.</p> <h2>2. Pay the penalties</h2> <p>If the IRS is charging you a penalty for a tax mistake, even if that mistake was made by your preparer, pay it. You might be battling it out with your tax preparer in the hope of getting this professional to pay the penalty on your behalf, but the IRS doesn't care. If it doesn't receive its payment, you are the one who will face additional financial penalties.</p> <p>If your tax preparer refuses to pay for its mistake, send a check to the IRS. Then continue your fight against the preparer.</p> <h2>3. Know your rights</h2> <p>Check any contract you signed with your tax preparer. There might be language in the contract stating what your tax preparer will do in the event of a mistake. Some tax preparers will pay the interest and penalties that result from a mistake, but not any extra taxes you might owe.</p> <p>Some tax preparation firms, especially the big ones, might offer insurance that you can purchase for an extra fee. If you've bought this insurance, your tax preparer might be obligated to pay any interest, fees, or extra taxes you owe because of their mistakes.</p> <p>Be aware that tax preparers won't pay any penalties on your behalf, even if you've purchased extra insurance, if the mistakes they've made are because you provided them with inaccurate information.</p> <h2>4. Check the statute of limitations</h2> <p>If your tax preparer made a mistake that caused you to overpay on your taxes, you have three years to request a refund from the IRS. You must provide documentation to back up your claim that you overpaid.</p> <p>This statute of limitations works in reverse, too. If you underpaid your taxes because of a preparer mistake, the IRS has three years in which they can come after you for the money you owe. If your tax preparer made a substantial error, however (such as omitting 25 percent or more of your gross income), the IRS can go back up to six years. It's recommended to keep your records for at least this long. Be aware there is no statute of limitations for those who knowingly file fraudulent returns, evade taxes, or fail to file altogether.</p> <h2>5. File a complaint</h2> <p>If you discover that your preparer made an intentional mistake, perhaps to boost your return, make an official complaint with the Office of Responsibility at the IRS. If your preparer is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, National Association of Enrolled Agents, or a state law association, you can also file a complaint with these organizations. Such complaints could cause tax preparers to face fines or lose their licenses.</p> <h2>Reduce the odds of a mistake by hiring the right professional</h2> <p>Sometimes you can prevent a future mistake by hiring the right tax professional upfront. The truth is, anyone can work as a tax preparer. Preparers must apply for a Preparer Tax Identification Number from the IRS. But getting this number is easy: It costs $50, and the IRS says that applying takes just 15 minutes.</p> <p>If you're searching for a tax professional, it's best to work with either a certified public accountant with experience completing tax returns, or what is known as an Enrolled Agent. To become an Enrolled Agent, tax preparers must first pass a three-part test given by the IRS that covers the ins and outs of individual and business tax returns. Some certified public accountants will also be Enrolled Agents.</p> <p>Ask any tax preparer for the phone numbers of past clients. Then call these clients to ask about the work the tax preparer turned in. The IRS also recommends that consumers only work with tax preparers who charge a flat fee. Preparers who charge a percentage of your tax refund might be tempted to fudge the numbers to boost your return.</p> <p>Finally, make sure that you provide all the proper documents and numbers. The tax preparer may or may not double check your numbers. Maybe you forgot about the antique you sold on eBay. Maybe you transposed a number when adding up your home office deductions. You can't depend on the tax preparer to notice that something is off or verify your numbers. The best professionals will ask you a lot of questions to ensure you've provided all the information. But others may just take your documents and enter the numbers.</p> <p>The bottom line is if the IRS audits you and discovers that the preparer made mistakes &mdash; intentional or accidental &mdash; you'll have to pay any penalties and fees.</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/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake">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-9"> <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-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Here&#039;s What Happens If You Don&#039;t Pay Your Taxes</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-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</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/what-freelancers-and-side-giggers-need-to-know-about-income-taxes">What Freelancers and Side Giggers Need to Know About Income Taxes</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/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year">7 Lessons From Tax Day to Remember for Next Year</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/should-you-ever-pay-your-taxes-with-a-credit-card">Should You Ever Pay Your Taxes With a Credit Card?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes accountants complaints cpa enrollment agents errors fees IRS Mistakes penalties statute of limitations tax filing tax returns Thu, 13 Apr 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Dan Rafter 1925856 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Rookie Mistakes New Bosses Make http://www.wisebread.com/15-rookie-mistakes-new-bosses-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-rookie-mistakes-new-bosses-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-624568564.jpg" alt="Woman making rookie mistakes after becoming the boss" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sooner or later in your career (and most likely later, for obvious reasons), you're going to become the boss. Whether it's through a promotion, or a new hire, you will suddenly be in the top spot. Now, the buck really does stop with you. And while it's fantastic to have those new powers and responsibilities, it can also be very difficult to adapt to the new role. Here are 15 rookie mistakes you should avoid when you become the big cheese.</p> <h2>1. Playing favorites with friends</h2> <p>You may be promoted into a leadership role, or hired from the outside, but one thing is certain; either you'll already have friends around you, or you'll make new friends quickly. In either case, be careful with these friendships. It's difficult, and sometimes almost impossible, to separate a great friendship from a working relationship.</p> <p>If a good friend does something at work that is bad for the company, you have to come down just as hard on that person as any other employee. If they don't deserve a promotion, don't give them one. And remember, friendships will be scrutinized. So if the colleague you play golf with every weekend genuinely deserves that raise or promotion, you better make sure you have everything documented.</p> <h2>2. Trying too hard to be liked</h2> <p>New bosses are sometimes like puppies: They run around the office, happy all the time, desperately trying to get a smile out of everyone. It's not going to work. In fact, it will most likely become annoying after a while, and if you keep going, downright disruptive.</p> <p>You do not have to be liked, or loved, by your staff. If you do the job well, and treat them as valuable employees, that will come naturally without buying breakfast every morning and telling jokes at the water cooler. Let your skills speak for themselves. You are not there to win a popularity contest.</p> <h2>3. Trying too hard to be feared or respected</h2> <p>On the other side of the coin is desperately trying to be feared or respected. Now, trying to be feared is just not a good idea. Sure, some people love the thought of being the most terrifying person at the board meeting, but does that make that person a good boss?</p> <p>Respect, on the other hand, is something every good boss should get from the staff. However, it cannot be taken. It has to be earned. Your deeds, decisions, and performance will dictate the kind of respect you get. No one is going to just give you great respect out of the gate (unless they are looking for a quick promotion).</p> <h2>4. Changing everything &mdash; even things that work</h2> <p>In sports, when a new manager joins the team, a lot of changes are made. Often, these are unnecessary changes, including axing players who are great simply because they are part of the old regime. The same can happen in a business environment.</p> <p>As a new boss, you have to look at what is working, and what isn't. There will be systems in place that have taken years to perfect. If they aren't working, fix them. If they are, concentrate on something else. The same goes for people. Know who the bad apples are &mdash; don't throw the good ones out as well.</p> <h2>5. Making impossible promises</h2> <p>Presidential candidates who get elected fall afoul of this one all the time. &quot;Elect me, and I'll do X, Y, and Z.&quot; Then they get the job and find out there's a lot more involved than they ever considered. The same goes when you become the new boss.</p> <p>Do not make promises that are impossible to keep. You may think you really can fix the unfixable, or from an outsider's perspective, the very easily fixable &mdash; but sometimes there are forces at play that you cannot beat. Get the lay of the land first. Ask around. Find out what the employees want fixed, and then dig into the systems that can make it happen. Then, and only then, can you make promises you have a good chance of keeping. Doing it blindly in your first week will not bode well. You'll be the boss who couldn't get things done.</p> <h2>6. Taking on way too much</h2> <p>Take on too much, too soon, and you could jeopardize the position you just landed. It's better to take on a few tasks and do them well than to say yes to everything and do a mediocre job. What's worse, the employees will think you don't trust them to do the jobs they have been doing for years if you start interfering in their work. So, analyze the tasks available to you, and delegate the jobs you don't need to be involved with. You'll have a lot less stress, and the staff will trust you more.</p> <h2>7. Focusing on short term benefits</h2> <p>In this case, benefits are not health, vision, and dental. Rather, these are immediate benefits to the company and staff. Perhaps you see a few easy fixes, and get them done. However, you may well be throwing duct tape on a much bigger problem. In the short term, yes, people are happy. But if you have simply kicked the can down the road, you will have to pick that up at some point. And by then, the problems will have only grown larger.</p> <p>Look at the bigger picture. Yes, it may be easy to fix the poor cafeteria choices, or unsightly wallpaper in the break room, but you may be using money that could help a bigger problem; one that will have a much greater impact when it's solved.</p> <h2>8. Refusing to ask for help</h2> <p>You are the boss. You are in charge. But you're not infallible. You don't know everything. And let's be honest, if this is your first week on the job, how could you?</p> <p>Many managers consider it a sign of weakness to ask for help, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Ask for help when you need it, providing it's something you shouldn't already know (you don't want to ask how to use a spreadsheet if you've just been taken on as head of accounting). If you don't know where a department is, ask for directions. If you don't know how a particular system or process works, call a meeting with the people who do. Then, bring your expertise to the table.</p> <h2>9. Firing and hiring the wrong people</h2> <p>It happens all too often, and it's a blight on corporate culture. A new manager is brought in, and immediately they begin firing people that rub them the wrong way, and hiring people they worked with at other firms. While it's fine to bring in people you know can do the job well, give people a chance to show you what they can do. It should take months to really figure out who is a good employee, and who is treading water. Some people may be excellent, but in the wrong department. Others may have been given inadequate training, or have been buried with enough work for three people. Scope things out before pulling out the pink slips.</p> <h2>10. Micromanaging every single operation</h2> <p>One of the biggest bottlenecks that a manager can create is to insert him or herself into every single transaction. A boss is not supposed to get into the weeds in that way. Rather, a boss sees things from a much greater height, and lets trusted employees get their hands dirty on smaller operations. If you insist on seeing every part of every process, and ask to be CC'd on every email, you will create tremendous animosity. And you'll slow everything to a crawl.</p> <h2>11. Being the center of attention</h2> <p>As far as you're concerned, you did it. You got the job. You got the big promotion. You are the star of your show, your family is proud, and your friends are buying drinks at the bar. Enjoy it, but leave that at the office door. You do not want to have meetings telling everyone all about you, your likes, dislikes, favorite TV shows, preferred color of socks, and all the industry awards you've won. Think of this as a date. You want to spend the first few weeks being insanely interested in your staff. They are your first priority. You want to be fascinated by their issues, and their hopes and dreams. This is not your show.</p> <h2>12. Fearing failure</h2> <p>Failure is essential in every business. You cannot learn how to do something right until you've done it wrong &mdash; usually, several times. But managers who are new to the company or the role fear failure. They believe that mistakes are weaknesses, and that can quickly lead to dismissal. Don't fall into that trap.</p> <p>You have to reach for the stars, and to do so, you must risk falling flat on your face in the dirt. However, you will succeed far more often than you fail, you'll gain the respect of your staff, and you will make great strides for the company.</p> <h2>13. Stalling on big decisions</h2> <p>Your staff knows the big problems that you're facing. They probably know them so well, they're just waiting for you to fix them. But don't lead them on. If you know that someone has to be fired because they are awful at their job, don't stall for months because it's hard to do. If you need to upgrade the equipment, but know it will cost a fortune, address it head on. Let people know you're working on it. By making excuses and stalling, you will lose the respect of your employees, and will become known as all talk, and no action.</p> <h2>14. Ignoring small issues that can make a big difference</h2> <p>You know what they say about a stitch in time. It is just as applicable in the workplace. When you find out about small problems or issues, deal with them. For instance, you may discover that there is animosity between two members of staff. If you ignore it, it grows into a much bigger problem. Perhaps one that can only be solved by letting one of them go. But, by addressing it early, and clearing the air, you can stop that small issue from becoming a big one. Whether it's a system or process, personnel, equipment, or anything else related to the day-to-day operations, don't ignore those small problems. Before you know it, they're enormous.</p> <h2>15. Not getting up to speed on personal issues</h2> <p>A new boss is not expected to know everything about every employee in the first week. But, a quick one-on-one with the team to find out any personal situations that are relevant to the job is essential. For instance, one employee appears to be off his game. He's not attentive in meetings. He's withdrawn from the rest of the office. It seems as if he's just not a good performer. But as it turns out, this is a great employee who just suffered a tragic loss in the family. This is an immediate paradigm shift. Now, this behavior is not only understandable, it's something you can help with. Make it a priority to know your staff, and their problems and concerns, within the first few weeks.</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/15-rookie-mistakes-new-bosses-make">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/8-career-moves-that-prove-youre-finally-a-grown-up">8 Career Moves That Prove You&#039;re Finally a Grown-Up</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-times-youre-better-off-without-a-promotion">12 Times You&#039;re Better Off Without a Promotion</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-make-public-speaking-less-terrifying">How to Make Public Speaking Less Terrifying</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/you-got-a-raise-now-what">You Got a Raise! Now What?</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-ways-employee-perks-are-good-for-business">5 Ways Employee Perks Are Good for Business</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income employees hired management Mistakes new boss promotions rookies Mon, 27 Mar 2017 09:30:34 +0000 Paul Michael 1911601 at http://www.wisebread.com Stop Making These 7 Basic Budget Mistakes http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-7-basic-budget-mistakes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stop-making-these-7-basic-budget-mistakes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-488007222.jpg" alt="Little girl making basic budget mistakes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Budgets are the foundation of frugal living and personal financial success. Clear and realistic budgets help us better understand our financial picture, rein in irresponsible spending, and develop stronger saving habits. If you're having a tough time sticking to your budget, maybe it's not your willpower that's broken &mdash; maybe it's your budget. Here are seven important budget mistakes you may be making.</p> <h2>1. Not Establishing a Goal</h2> <p>Your budget should be fueled by a crystal clear purpose. Before you make (or remake) your budget, decide exactly what you want to accomplish. Is the goal to get out of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit card debt</a>? To save more aggressively <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement?ref=internal" target="_blank">for retirement</a>? To <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early?ref=internal" target="_blank">pay off the house</a> five years sooner? Or to simply develop a greater awareness of where your money goes? Having a goal will help you stay on-track and on-budget. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tricks-to-beating-budget-burnout?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Tricks to Beating Budget Burnout</a>)</p> <h2>2. Skipping Your Retirement Savings</h2> <p>Saving for the future? If it's not part of your budget, it's probably not happening. Make sure that your monthly budget includes a healthy contribution to a money market account, IRA, or 401K plan. It's one the few expenses that will actually pay you back in the long-term.</p> <h2>3. Relying on Inconsistent or Uncertain Income</h2> <p>Funding your budget with tax refunds, year-end bonuses, and other income you're yet to (and may not) receive, is a bad idea. With one little hiccup, your entire financial plan can be thrown into chaos. Instead, focus on regular and reliable sources of income. When you receive extra cash, funnel it into your savings or retirement account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/saving-for-retirement-and-other-long-term-goals-on-a-variable-income?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Saving for Retirement and Other Long Term Goals on a Variable Income</a>)</p> <h2>4. Not Expecting the Unexpected</h2> <p>Emergencies happen. Cars break down, pipes burst, and appliances bite the dust. If your budget doesn't include a savings plan or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?ref=internal" target="_blank">emergency fund</a>, it doesn't reflect the realities of life. Avoid blowing your budget or relying on high-interest credit cards when the inevitable happens &mdash; make sure your budget has a line item for what-if's and oh-no's.</p> <p>Most importantly, avoid the temptation to consider this part of your budget negotiable. Often, budgeters will simply pull from the savings column to inflate discretionary spending. As you can imagine, this approach is a slippery slope that can quickly wipe out the best intentions.</p> <h2>5. Ignoring the Small Stuff</h2> <p>Budgets are for major &mdash; and minor &mdash; expenses. If you ignore the $4 coffees, the $12 movie tickets, and the lunches out twice a week, your budget will quickly become more abstract than exact. Monitor and account for each expenditure to get a clear idea of what you're spending and where adjustments need to be made.</p> <h2>6. Making Things Too Complex</h2> <p>When it comes to household budgets, simpler is better. For most budgeters, a basic Excel spreadsheet will do the trick and allow for easy updates. The old-school <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system?ref=internal" target="_blank">envelope system</a> is an even simpler and more direct way to way to track and tally monthly expenditures. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-people-who-hate-math?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Easy Budgeting for People Who Hate Math</a>)</p> <h2>7. Designing a Budget That Won't Budge</h2> <p>While budgets are designed to impose limits on spending, they should still offer <em>some </em>degree of flexibility. Certain expenses fluctuate around the holidays, during major life events like weddings and graduations, and even in response to changing weather. If your budget doesn't allow for a little bit of responsible wiggle room, it won't be useful and you'll soon abandon it. Remember, your budget is your creation. It should respond to the needs of your life and be able to bend without breaking.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-7-basic-budget-mistakes">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-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required">How to Manage Your Money — No Budgeting Required</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/15-unexpected-expenses-of-a-new-baby">15 Unexpected Expenses of a New Baby</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-common-budget-mistakes-you-can-fix-right-now">5 Common Budget Mistakes You Can Fix Right Now</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/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master">11 Budgeting Skills Everyone Should Master</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-start-a-family-before-reaching-these-5-money-goals">Don&#039;t Start a Family Before Reaching These 5 Money Goals</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting advice emergency funds expenses income Mistakes saving money savings goals Fri, 03 Mar 2017 10:00:09 +0000 Kentin Waits 1900128 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Things You Should Never Do With Your Travel Rewards Credit Cards http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-should-never-do-with-your-travel-rewards-credit-cards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-things-you-should-never-do-with-your-travel-rewards-credit-cards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-637964304.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Getting the most out of a travel rewards credit card isn't as easy as it might seem. Sure, the basic premise is simple: Rewards credit cards dole out points when you make a purchase with your card. Then you redeem them for free or discounted travel. But there are plenty of pitfalls to watch out for. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-started-with-travel-rewards-in-4-simple-steps?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Get Started With Travel Rewards With These Simple Steps</a>)</p> <p>Before you put too much effort into earning travel rewards, it's crucial to know what you're getting into. If you don't, you could end up with expired or useless points, or worse, debt.</p> <p>If you're angling to use credit card rewards to your advantage &mdash; not the card issuer's &mdash; here are some mistakes to avoid along the way.</p> <h2>1. Missing the Minimum Spending Requirement for a Bonus</h2> <p>Most top travel rewards credit cards offer a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">sign-up bonus</a> for hitting a minimum spending requirement within a specific length of time when you first get the card. For example, you might earn 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 within the first three months of card ownership. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>If you should happen to fall short, however, you'll never see that bonus hit your account. That's true whether you're $20 short or $200 short. Unless you meet the minimum spending requirement in its entirety, you're out of luck.</p> <p>If you get a new card for the bonus, make sure you're prepared to spend enough to hit the minimum with ease. You should also remember that the clock generally starts ticking on the day you're approved for the card &mdash; not the day you received it or activated it. So, if your card takes 10 days to show up in the mail, that's 10 days less you have to meet the spending requirement. If you're unsure of the exact date you were approved, call the number on the back of your card and ask. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Smart Ways to Meet a Rewards Card Minimum Spending Requirement</a>)</p> <h2>2. Earning Loyalty Points You Can't Use</h2> <p>Racking up Hyatt Gold Passport points for a trip to Denmark sounds like a genius plan until you realize there are no Hyatt properties in the entire country. And earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points sounds smart &mdash; that is, until you realize Southwest doesn't even fly out of your home airport.</p> <p>This might sound crazy, but it happens all the time. Believe it or not, some people get so excited about earning points or miles that they don't even check whether they can use them. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choose-the-best-travel-rewards-credit-card-with-this-guide?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Choose the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card With This Guide</a>)</p> <p>Before you sign up for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-co-branded-airline-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">co-branded card</a> that only works with a specific loyalty program, it's crucial to figure out if those points will leave you better off. If you're unsure or want more flexibility, steer clear of co-branded cards and instead choose a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">flexible travel rewards card</a> that lets you use points for multiple airlines and hotel chains.</p> <h2>3. Carrying a Balance</h2> <p>Paying interest on your credit card charges is never a good idea, but that's especially true if you're using the card to earn rewards. Since rewards credit cards typically charge higher interest rates than non-rewards cards, your misguided pursuit of points and frequent flyer miles can leave you worse off than if you had a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">low-interest credit card</a>.</p> <p>Before you chase credit card rewards, you should be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">debt-free</a>. Even better, you should track your spending to make sure you're on track with your goals.</p> <h2>4. Forgetting About Annual Fees</h2> <p>While many <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">cash back credit cards</a> don't come with annual fees, the same cannot be said about travel rewards cards. Some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-premium-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">excellent premium cards</a> come with annual fees as steep as $450, while more basic cards cost anywhere from $59 to $95.</p> <p>Before you sign up for a rewards card, make sure you know about fees and when they come due. You should also make sure you're going to extract enough value from the card to make the experience worth it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/simple-guide-to-evaluating-a-credit-card-with-an-annual-fee?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Simple Guide to Evaluating Whether a Credit Card With an Annual Fee Is Worth It</a>)</p> <h2>5. Letting Your Points Expire</h2> <p>Some points expire if you let them sit idle for too long, while others never expire. Of course, the burden falls squarely on you to keep up with expiration policies and deadlines. If you fail to plan and don't ensure your points stay active, you could see thousands of points disappear overnight.</p> <p>Before you get too wrapped up in any rewards program, make sure you know what it takes to keep your points active. Some airline programs will wipe out your point haul after 12&ndash;24 months of inactivity, but you can keep your account active by using your co-branded credit card for a purchase or transferring points.</p> <p>Either way, make sure you know the rules and stay organized enough to follow them. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-best-tools-for-tracking-your-rewards-miles?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Best Tools for Keeping Track of Your Rewards</a>)</p> <h2>6. Not Using the Right Card for Your Goals</h2> <p>A friend of mine had been using her only rewards card &mdash; a cash back card &mdash; to save up points for an international flight that normally costs around $1,500. At the rate she was going (earning around 30,000 points per year), it would easily take her five years to earn that round-trip ticket &mdash; and that's only if the price didn't surge in the meantime.</p> <p>Once I realized this, I guided her toward the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chase-sapphire-preferred-review?ref=internal" target="_blank">Chase Sapphire Preferred&reg; card</a> for its generous sign up bonus. Once she earned the bonus, she would have more than enough points to transfer to the United MileagePlus program to pay for the same international ticket right away. Overnight, her strategy morphed from one that would take up to five years to a plan that would culminate in just a few short months. (Keep in mind the card has an annual fee.)</p> <p>(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-redeemed-a-12000-family-vacation-with-credit-card-rewards-in-2-months?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">How I Redeemed a $12,000 Family Vacation With Credit Card Rewards in Two Months</a>)</p> <p>The bottom line: If you have a specific goal in mind, you can save time and heartache by optimizing your rewards from the start. (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 Getting a Free (or Close to Free) Vacation Quickly With Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>7. Overspending to Earn More Rewards</h2> <p>Because rewards credit cards dole out points based on your spending, it can be tempting to spend more to earn more rewards. This is especially true when certain bonus categories come into play. If you can earn five times the points on a brand-new flat screen television, for example, you might feel inclined to buy one, even if you didn't need it.</p> <p>But if your rewards goal is truly getting ahead, you should think long and hard before buying anything out of the ordinary. After all, spending money you wouldn't spend otherwise won't help you save money in the long run.</p> <p>Remember, the best credit card rewards strategy is a simple one: When you use your cards for bills you were going to pay anyway, you'll truly be rewarded. But if you use credit card rewards to justify a spending spree, you're not really helping yourself. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-credit-card-reward-tips-many-people-dont-follow?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Credit Card Reward Tips Many People Don't Follow</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-should-never-do-with-your-travel-rewards-credit-cards">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/6-reasons-cash-back-is-better-than-travel-rewards">6 Reasons Cash Back Is Better Than Travel Rewards</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-best-airline-rewards-programs-for-trips-to-europe">The Best Airline Rewards Programs for Trips to Europe</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/9-ways-to-use-travel-rewards-cards-to-get-free-trips">How to Use Travel Rewards Cards to Get Free Trips</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-ways-to-turn-credit-card-rewards-into-real-wealth">5 Ways to Turn Credit Card Rewards Into Real Wealth</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-families-can-earn-and-use-travel-rewards">How Families Can Earn and Use Travel Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards bonuses cash back fees miles Mistakes points rewards spending requirements travel Wed, 01 Mar 2017 10:30:34 +0000 Holly Johnson 1898658 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Warning Signs You're Going to Bomb Your Job Interview http://www.wisebread.com/8-warning-signs-youre-going-to-bomb-your-job-interview <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-warning-signs-youre-going-to-bomb-your-job-interview" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-533992297.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you have a job interview coming up, you will no doubt be preparing for it. Depending on the type of industry you are in, that could mean refreshing a portfolio, getting a haircut, and warning friends and colleagues that they may be called to give you a reference.</p> <p>However, even with all that in the bag, you could be walking into a potential interview failure. If any of the following warning signs hit close to home, you should correct them before you ever step foot in that interview room.</p> <h2>1. Your Social Media Accounts Are Filled With Problems</h2> <p>We live our lives in public. Employers know this, and as such they now comb through social media accounts of potential employees, looking for reasons not to hire you. Any inappropriate photos will not bode well for you. If you are very political, one way or the other, it could be a black mark against your name. If you slag off your current, or previous, employer, that will make you appear difficult and dangerous. If your posts are filled with spelling errors, that could also cross you off the list.</p> <p>Social media accounts can lead to you failing the interview before the first question is even asked. Comb through them carefully, and delete anything you think could be an issue. If you see something that makes you cringe, or would make you embarrassed to show the interviewer, get rid of it. We may have freedom of speech, but that doesn't stop the employer from using it against you.</p> <h2>2. Your Resume Is Not Current</h2> <p>One of the best habits to get into when you're employed is regularly updating your resume and/or portfolio. Not only does it benefit you when posted on sites like LinkedIn and Krop, but it also gives you a regular gut-check on how your career is progressing (or not). If you have had three promotions in the last five years, those need to be on your resume. If you have taken on much greater responsibilities, put those down. If you landed a big new account, or helped the company make the local news, find a way to work all that in.</p> <p>A stale resume signals to a prospective employer that you are lazy, uninterested, or disorganized. And you do not want the interviewer to think you are anything but a great addition to his or her team. Look at your resume right now, and if it's even a little dated, fix it.</p> <h2>3. You Know You'll Nail It</h2> <p>Confidence is good. Arrogance, not so much. While you should definitely believe in yourself, your achievements, and your abilities, you cannot afford to think that this job is already in the bag. That kind of cocky attitude can easily lead to your downfall. It can prevent you from doing the requisite preparation, and you may not ask yourself the tough questions that the interviewer will definitely fire at you.</p> <p>Of course, you don't want to let too much doubt slip in, because that can be just as damaging. Think of this like the time you first met the parents of your longtime partner. You hope they'll really like you, and you're going to do everything to make sure they see the real you without coming across as God's gift. Hubris has no place in your life before this meeting, and the same goes for the interview.</p> <h2>4. You Can't Wait to Dump on Your Current Employer</h2> <p>Big mistake. You may feel like they don't appreciate you, or hate the fact that you've gone without a raise or promotion for the last five years. You may also despise the boss, your coworkers, and the product or service offered by the company itself. You can feel the need to unload just rising up inside of you. But the absolute worst thing you can do is unburden yourself in the interview. You will sound bitter, hostile, and show your prospective employer that you have very little loyalty or respect.</p> <p>The interviewer will think you to be a challenge, and you may well turn that same hatred on any company that hires you. Why take the chance? If you have to let it all out, tell a friend or relative. Write it down in a letter (even addressing it to your current boss&hellip; but don't mail it, obviously) and exorcise those demons. If the interviewer asks about your current employer, talk openly about some of the challenges you have faced, but in a very positive way.</p> <h2>5. Your Interview Is Near the End of the Day</h2> <p>Uh oh. If you're being asked to come in late in the day, chances are you are going to have a bad time. People who have been interviewing candidates all day are tired, irritable, and have often already seen the person they want for the job. They have had to endure hour after hour of the same kinds of answers, and may well have been knocked out by someone you now have to follow. All in all, the last interview of the day is a slot that can really work against you.</p> <p>Now, some people say it can be beneficial. Being the last person means you will be freshest in the mind of the interviewer, and that gives you a better chance to stand out and make the cut. This is a myth. Most interviewers schedule the candidates they are interested in for the earlier time slots. If your resume and cover letter knocked them out, you would not be given this slot&hellip; unless, of course, it is the only time you can make it. But realistically, you should be doing your best to work around the employer's schedule, not vice-versa.</p> <h2>6. You Don't Know Enough About the Company</h2> <p>A big part of your preparation for the interview should be about the company itself. You need to know whom you are going to work for, what the company has been doing over the last few years (or longer), and what the marketplace is like. Who are its biggest competitors? Has it had any major breakthroughs recently? Has it made the news, for good or bad reasons? Does it have a reputation for laying off employees, or paying below the industry average?</p> <p>If you are going to an interview soon and cannot answer any of these questions, you are not going to do well. And, you can't wing it, either. Get your research done. Use Glassdoor to search what people are saying about the working conditions. Google the company name, and see what comes up under &quot;news&quot; or &quot;videos.&quot; A site like Reddit may even have a subreddit devoted to it (think Apple or Microsoft, for example). Do your homework, and you will be in a much greater position in the interview. You'll also know what to ask for when it comes to salary, benefits, and perks.</p> <h2>7. You Don't Have Any Questions Prepared</h2> <p>An interview is not a one-way street. Your interviewer will start the ball rolling with a whole lot of questions, probing to see if you're the right candidate for the job. They will be watching everything you do, writing down positives and negatives, and will be eyeing-up your personality, too. But they also want you to ask some questions, as well.</p> <p>They want to know that you're interested in the position, the company, the benefits, and the opportunities for growth. They may well prompt you by saying, &quot;Is there anything you'd like to know?&quot; or &quot;What questions do you have for me?&quot; If you don't have some zingers ready, something that really shows your passion for working at the company, you will come across as blasé or going through the motions. That is not a good impression to leave with anyone.</p> <h2>8. You Haven't Thought About Your Outfit</h2> <p>From the moment you step into the office or meeting room where the interview takes place, you are being judged. How you walk, how you greet the interviewer, and how you dress are all being evaluated. What you wear, and how you wear it, can have a huge impact on that vital first impression.</p> <p>It also varies greatly depending on the type of job you're going for. If you're in a very creative industry, such as graphic design, advertising, music, filmmaking, or beauty, you will probably want to look just as creative. A stale suit and tie will make the opposite impression, and even though you may be a creative genius, you will look like an accountant or sales person.</p> <p>That doesn't mean sloppy; it should be put together with care, even if it's a pair of designer jeans and a T-shirt. Similarly, that very same outfit would be a disaster for an industry that expects formal clothing. Banking, finance, medicine, law &mdash; they would consider you sloppy if you wear anything other than a well-tailored suit or equally professional outfit. If you still don't know what to wear, get some advice from people who work at that company.</p> <p>Don't waste an opportunity like a job interview by slipping up on these simple things. Be prepared in order to give yourself the best chance possible at achieving your career goals.</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/8-warning-signs-youre-going-to-bomb-your-job-interview">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/15-questions-you-should-always-ask-at-the-end-of-a-job-interview">15 Questions You Should Always Ask at the End of a Job Interview</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/dont-forget-about-these-7-job-hunting-expenses">Don&#039;t Forget About These 7 Job Hunting Expenses</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-ask-for-your-old-job-back-after-leaving">How to Ask for Your Old Job Back After Leaving</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-keep-your-job-hunt-from-busting-your-budget">How to Keep Your Job Hunt From Busting Your Budget</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-job-hunting-roadblocks-millennials-must-overcome">5 Job Hunting Roadblocks Millennials Must Overcome</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Job Hunting employers first impressions job interviews Mistakes overconfidence social media wardrobe Wed, 25 Jan 2017 10:00:08 +0000 Paul Michael 1879591 at http://www.wisebread.com Almost Half of Job Applicants Make This Same Foolish Mistake http://www.wisebread.com/almost-half-of-job-applicants-make-this-same-foolish-mistake <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/almost-half-of-job-applicants-make-this-same-foolish-mistake" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-513955428.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hiring professionals in industries far and wide, when looking at applications ranging from entry-level to upper management, say almost 50% of the applicants are making the same mistake. Is it grammar? Poor choice of words? Not completing an online test, or answering questions incorrectly?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It's actually something much more basic. And it's a mistake that is completely inexcusable. </span></p> <h2>Almost Half of Job Applicants Are Not Following Directions</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As bizarre as it may sound, job applicants are just </span><a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/hr-pros-at-least-40-of-job-applicants-dont-follow-instructions/" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">not following basic instructions</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> or directions given out by the employer or recruiting agency. Every application is different, but the basic problem is the same across the board </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">&mdash; </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">the inability to follow the directions to the letter. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most of the time, this means omitting information required by the employer, from a resume or cover letter, to background information, references, and even contact information. For example, many applicants include a name and address, but not a phone number or email. That instantly puts them out of the running, as the HR department is too busy to track down people that don't have an immediate form of contact. No one is going to write you via snail mail inviting you to come in for an interview. Plus, the fact that you left out such a basic piece of information simply doesn't look good. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">HR professionals also indicated that a simple visual test is often done on applications. If anything is blank, messy, or missing, the application goes into the trash. With so many people competing for the same job these days, removing applicants who cannot follow instructions makes life a lot easier, instantly thinning the pack. </span></p> <h2>Employers May Actively Test Your Ability to Follow Directions</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It's not just about noticing mistakes. Some employers may actually lay traps that you have to avoid. Perhaps one of the most famous instances of an employer testing the suitability of a candidate goes back to an Army recruitment campaign in England. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Army ran ads asking people to order a special recruitment kit. The kit included a VHS cassette (yes, it was a while ago). When the prospective new recruit put the tape into the VCR and hit play, the video showed an explosion. It then went on to tell people who saw that explosion that they were not the right candidate for the Army, because they did not follow the instructions. As it turns out, there was a small message on the cassette that said &quot;rewind me first.&quot; Clever. Very clever. Of course, there was no way to know if the candidate lied about seeing that explosion first, but what it did was plant the seed of doubt. If they missed that, what would they miss on a real mission? Maybe this is not the career for them. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another example comes from entrance exams that ask candidates to complete &quot;only three of the following four questions.&quot; If the candidate answers all four, even if they answer them perfectly, it is a huge red flag to the employer. The inability to follow this simple direction lets the employer know that you either don't pay attention to details, you're too eager to get started, or you just refuse to follow the rules. These are not good qualities in a candidate.</span></p> <h2>So&hellip;What Can You Do to Be a Better Job Applicant?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Perhaps the biggest piece of advice, and the simplest, is to slow down. You may well have several applications to fill out for different jobs, but you cannot afford to rush them. By slowing down, and reading everything, you are far less likely to make a mistake. Having said that, you can also follow these steps to make sure you do not end up in the reject pile, along with almost half of the other applicants.</span></p> <h3>1. Read Through Everything Twice Before You Start</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It's a little bit like the old DIY adage, &quot;Measure twice, cut once.&quot; You should go through the entire application, line by line, and be clear about what you are being asked to provide. If you need to prepare something, such as a cover letter or a portfolio of your work, make a note of it. </span></p> <h3>2. Complete a Trial Application First</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Think of it as a practice run. Fill it all out, and then read it back to yourself. What is missing? What sounds good, and what sounds bad? What can you improve, or edit? Are there sections that are stronger than others? Have you included the relevant dates and places, or achievements that could make you stand out? Mark it up, and then complete the application again. If you're doing this online, print out the application and fill it out by hand first. </span></p> <h3>3. Run Everything Through a Spelling/Grammar Checker</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Even if your document is beautifully formatted and has all the required information, spelling errors can really mess you up. Some companies may even use software to weed out applications with too many grammar problems. If you're submitting an application using pen and paper, this may not be possible (unless you have a text recognition app or device). In that case, move on to the next step&hellip;</span></p> <h3>4. Have Someone Else Look Over Your Application</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A friend. A colleague. A family member. Someone you trust. Put the application in front of them and ask them to go over it line by line. Ask them to read the instructions, too. Having someone else with a fresh eye can really help you out. They will notice glaring errors that you have become blind to.</span></p> <h3>5. Look Back at Your Notes Before You Submit Anything</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Remember those notes you took at the very beginning? Now, after you have completed everything, is the time to check the &quot;to-do&quot; boxes off that list. Do you have your cover letter? Is it attached to the application? Is it stapled, or put on there with a paper clip (some employers want it done a specific way)? If you're sending something over the Internet, have you made sure the documents are formatted correctly, and saved the way the employer likes them (some prefer PDFs to Word documents)? All of this should be looked over carefully before putting it in the mail or hitting send.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Remember, the ability to follow simple directions is the very least an employer should expect from a candidate. If you don't do everything by the letter, you could be missing out on a great job, and a lucrative career. </span></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/almost-half-of-job-applicants-make-this-same-foolish-mistake">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-5"> <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-you-should-never-include-in-your-cover-letter">7 Things You Should Never Include in Your Cover Letter</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/15-questions-you-should-always-ask-at-the-end-of-a-job-interview">15 Questions You Should Always Ask at the End of a Job Interview</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/12-grammar-mistakes-that-are-making-you-look-stupid">12 Grammar Mistakes That Are Making You Look Stupid</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-things-you-should-never-do-during-a-job-interview">10 Things You Should Never Do During a Job Interview</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/10-hard-truths-about-getting-hired-that-you-dont-want-to-believe">10 Hard Truths About Getting Hired That You Don&#039;t Want to Believe</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Job Hunting following directions grammar hiring human resources job applications Mistakes recruiters Mon, 23 Jan 2017 11:00:13 +0000 Paul Michael 1877412 at http://www.wisebread.com You've Been Saving Money All Wrong. Here's Why http://www.wisebread.com/youve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/youve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_holding_cash_514781336.jpg" alt="Woman learning she&#039;s been saving money all wrong" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If your savings account is not as big as you'd like it to be, it turns out that you're not alone. Americans are notoriously bad at saving for retirement &mdash; and one in three have nothing saved for retirement at all.</p> <p>While Social Security may still factor into your savings, it's not enough to cover the cost of retirement, let alone the other expenses you're trying to save for before even reaching retirement.</p> <p>But don't let the statistics get you down. There are some easy ways to change your savings habits. You'll be surprised by how quickly little tweaks can make a big difference in your accounts.</p> <h2>1. Wrong: An All or Nothing Attitude to Saving</h2> <p>When you come up with a savings plan, you may be tempted to cut out <em>all </em>of your discretionary expenditures. On paper, this looks reasonable enough. You can eliminate all of your nonessential costs and put that money right into your savings account. Perfect, right? However, an all or nothing approach is going to set you up for failure down the road.</p> <p>Just as with dieting, if the adjustments you make are not sustainable, you're not going to make real change in the long run. Instead, you're likely to get frustrated and give up altogether. When you deny yourself any and all expenses, whether it's getting a coffee at your favorite cafe or going out for drinks with friends, you're likely to feel deprived. Plus, this mentality doesn't allow for you to slip up or make exceptions.</p> <h3>Right: Be Reasonable</h3> <p>It's better to consistently save a dollar every day and be successful at it than to aim to save $100 a week, realize that's impossible, and then give up. Set a goal that is realistic and stick to it. Write down your plan and check in consistently to see how you are doing.</p> <p>The name of the game is moderation. Your savings isn't all or nothing. Don't get discouraged if you slip up. If you spend more on Wednesday, spend less on Thursday, but keep it realistic. Take another look at your budget and see if you can make up for the slip somewhere else.</p> <h2>2. Wrong: Cutting Out Activities or Socializing</h2> <p>You may think an easy way to save money is by cutting out activities entirely. Since there can be a hefty price tag that comes along with social activities, like going out for drinks or other entertainment, you may conclude that cutting out socializing completely is another way to save. However, these strategies are going to leave you feeling isolated and lacking the supportive environment you need to achieve your savings goals.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today?ref=seealso">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</a></p> <h3>Right: Find Inexpensive Ways to Keep in Touch</h3> <p>Instead of cutting out social activities entirely, why not find free or inexpensive alternatives?</p> <p>Rather than meeting friends at a pricey restaurant, invite them over for a home-cooked meal or a pot luck. Plan a game or movie night, or look up free events in your town to attend together.</p> <p>Exercise is also a great, inexpensive way to spend time with friends. Organize a game of Frisbee or flag football, or go for a run with friends. Do it often enough, and you could save on an expensive gym membership, too.</p> <p>In fact, your friends can be great allies in your fitness and savings endeavors. You don't have to choose between your relationships and your budget. Let your friends and family know what your goals are and ask them to help you stay on track. That way they can be a support system, instead of a roadblock.</p> <h2>3. Wrong: Focusing All of Your Attention on Cutting Costs</h2> <p>It seems foolproof to focus on decreasing your expenses so that you can save more money. But rather than putting all your energy into cutting your expenses to the bone, spend some of that energy <em>earning </em>extra income.</p> <p>If you're spending too much time calculating your budget, you'll end up feeling too limited. Your mindset will always be &quot;I don't have enough.&quot;</p> <p>The budget mindset is restrictive &mdash; and taxing on your stores of energy. Maintaining discipline is hard. Instead, use that energy to help you earn more money to put toward your savings goals.</p> <h3>Right: Work More, Spend Less</h3> <p>Taking on a second job can make a huge difference to your savings account, mostly because you're earning more &mdash; and, hopefully, saving more.</p> <p>Plus, since you're spending more time at work, you'll have less time to spend on frivolous things &mdash; or to worry about sticking to your budget.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/100-ways-to-make-more-money-this-year?ref=seealso2">100+ Ways to Make More Money This Year</a></p> <h2>4. Wrong: You Never Carry Cash, So You Don't Spend It</h2> <p>You may be under the impression that if you don't have cash with you, you will automatically spend less money. However, if you're mindlessly putting little expenditures on your credit or debit card, you're actually much less likely to be keeping track of how you are spending money.</p> <p>Cash can be your best friend when you're trying to save money, especially for those of us who are a bit less disciplined and aware of our spending habits.</p> <h3>Right: Use Cash and Cards Wisely</h3> <p>Allocate yourself a daily budget and leave home with that amount of cash in your wallet. This makes money feel real in a way that mindlessly swiping your card can't. It can help you to stay accountable to yourself. Once you run out of cash for the day, you are done spending.</p> <p>Of course, using a credit card does still hold advantages for people with more self control. You may want to consider applying for the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal">best rewards credit card</a> for your lifestyle, and then strategically using that card so you can earn points or miles on your purchases. Plus, you'll have a digital record of your expenses to look back on at the end of the month and see how you did. You can set up email or phone alerts, too, to help remind you of just how much you're spending on a daily basis.</p> <h2>5. Wrong: Ignoring Budgeting or Not Making a Budget at All</h2> <p>Unfortunately, saving doesn't just happen without making a real, concerted effort. It is crucial to your success that you have a concrete plan in place to make sure you're spending where you need to and saving where you can. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps?ref=seealso">Build Your First Budget in 5 Easy Steps</a>)</p> <h3>Right: Make a Comprehensive Budget</h3> <p>Make a clear and realistic plan. Write it down and revise it every month or so to check if you're staying on track. After paying your expenses for the month, put the rest of your money into savings. It may be a small amount at first, but you can increase it later, once your new habits have settled in.</p> <p>Even if you're just saving a little bit, if you're committed to putting it away every month, it will add up &mdash; and faster than you expect.</p> <h2>6. Wrong: Setting up a Traditional Savings Account at Your Local Bank</h2> <p>Traditional savings accounts do not offer the interest rates they used to. If you're keeping all of your money in a regular savings account, you're basically giving away money that you could be earning in interest.</p> <h3>Right: Open an Online Account</h3> <p>By <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/banks-still-offering-free-checking-and-great-interest-rates?ref=internal">moving your savings to an online account</a>, you can earn 1%&ndash;2%. That's not much, but it's more than a traditional bank and enough to add a few additional dollars a year to your savings, depending on how much money you have in your account. Other options, like CDs, pay a bit more interest, but don't offer easy access to your funds.</p> <p>Decide how much you want to put into your savings account, and set up an automatic transfer so you're committed to saving that money every month.</p> <p>Saving money doesn't have to be a drudge, and the good news is that a few small changes can make a big difference. You may even find that you are quickly becoming the exception to the discouraging savings trends nationwide.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fyouve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FYouve%20Been%20Saving%20Money%20All%20Wrong.%20Heres%20Why.jpg&amp;description=Youve%20Been%20Saving%20Money%20All%20Wrong.%20Heres%20Why" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Youve%20Been%20Saving%20Money%20All%20Wrong.%20Heres%20Why.jpg" alt="You've Been Saving Money All Wrong. Here's Why" 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/youve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why">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/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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-the-savings-strategy-that-works-for-you">How to Find the Savings Strategy That Works For You</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/the-financial-basics-every-new-grad-should-know">The Financial Basics Every New Grad Should Know</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bank accounts budgeting cash cutting costs expenses Mistakes saving money savings accounts Fri, 16 Dec 2016 10:30:28 +0000 Nick Wharton 1853984 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Financial Moves Now That You'll Regret When You Retire http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-moves-now-that-youll-regret-when-you-retire <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-financial-moves-now-that-youll-regret-when-you-retire" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_uh_oh_175531215.jpg" alt="Learning financial moves now that you&#039;ll regret when you retire" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all make thousands of decisions every day. Come tomorrow, many of them won't matter much at all. But some decisions do have long-lasting implications. Here are five choices that may leave you longing for a do-over in retirement.</p> <h2>1. Borrowing From Your 401K</h2> <p>It's relatively easy to borrow from most 401K plans. However, the purpose of your 401K isn't to save for a down payment on a house or college bills. It's to build a nest egg for retirement. The more you nibble away at that, the less you'll have for your later years. The best approach? Consider your workplace retirement funds to be off limits &mdash; until retirement.</p> <h2>2. Resetting Your Mortgage Clock Past Your Retirement Age</h2> <p>Interest rates are very low, which has prompted many people to refinance their mortgages. It can be wise to swap out a high interest rate loan for one at a lower rate. However, if this is the home you plan to live in during retirement, make sure your new mortgage will be retired by the time you are. That may mean opting for a shorter term (15 or 20 years instead of 30) or committing to making extra monthly payments. (Use <a href="http://financialmentor.com/calculator/mortgage-payoff-calculator">this calculator</a> to help you figure out how much extra to pay.)</p> <h2>3. Claiming Social Security Too Early</h2> <p>There are some people who may benefit by claiming their Social Security benefits at the earliest possible age &mdash; 62. If longevity doesn't run in your family or if you absolutely have no other options but to take the money sooner than later, go ahead. But good things come to those who wait. When it comes to delaying the start of Social Security, those who can hold off will get quite a boost in benefits.</p> <p>When I looked up my own benefits (<a href="https://secure.ssa.gov/SiView.do">here's where to look up yours</a>), I saw that I'm eligible for $1,780 per month if I claim benefits at age 62. If I wait until my Full Retirement Age of 67, that amount jumps to $2,694 &mdash; a 51% increase. And if I wait until age 70, I would receive $3,441 per month &mdash; nearly twice as much as my age-62 benefit.</p> <p>And here's the other benefit from waiting. Men, I hope I'm not the first to break this to you, but you're probably going to die before your wife, unless she's a lot older than you are. And if your Social Security benefit is larger than hers, the more you can maximize yours, the more it'll benefit your wife once you're gone. That's because upon your death, she'll have the choice of continuing to take her benefit or yours.</p> <p>Social Security claiming strategies are so varied, complex, and important that it would probably benefit you to seek additional guidance via <a href="http://www.socialsecuritysolutions.com/">Social Security Solutions</a> or <a href="http://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/">Maximize My Social Security</a>.</p> <h2>4. Ignoring Inflation</h2> <p>I talked with a newly-retired woman recently who thought she was set for life. She took her savings, divided by her estimated number of years remaining, and was satisfied with her answer. Until I rained on her parade by asking how she planned to account for inflation.</p> <p>She didn't like the idea of investing any of her money in the stock market because she thought that was too risky. And yet, keeping all of her money in a bank savings account virtually guarantees that her buying power will steadily decline. Even a modest annual inflation rate of 2% will cut buying power nearly in half over the course of a 30-year retirement.</p> <p>Most retirees will need to accept the idea of maintaining some level of exposure to the stock market with their investment portfolio in order to make sure their money lasts as long as they do.</p> <h2>5. Counting on Paid Work in Your Later Years</h2> <p>One of today's most significant retirement-related disconnects is the difference between the number of today's workers who are planning to work in retirement (I know, it sounds like an oxymoron) and the number of retirees who actually do still work.</p> <p>An increasing number of people still in the workforce are pushing back their retirement date &mdash; some because they want the mental stimulation that comes from work, some because they realize they'll need the money. And yet, nearly half of people who are now retired left the workforce sooner than intended, many times because of health issues.</p> <p>By the same token, nearly two-thirds of today's workers expect to work for pay to some degree after retiring from their main career, whereas less than one-third of those who are now retired have worked for pay since ending their main career.</p> <p>The best advice? Plan physically, emotionally, and vocationally to work longer than you might prefer while you plan financially to retire earlier than you think you will.</p> <p>Clearly, what you don't do as you prepare for a successful retirement is just as important as what you do. Avoiding the five miscues just discussed will help you prepare well.</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/5-financial-moves-now-that-youll-regret-when-you-retire">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/12-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-retire">12 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to 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/why-retiring-with-debt-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Why Retiring With Debt Isn&#039;t the End of the World</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-smart-ways-to-boost-your-social-security-payout-before-retirement">6 Smart Ways to Boost Your Social Security Payout Before 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/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-when-you-retire">Here&#039;s How Your Taxes Will Change When 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/3-ways-more-money-in-retirement-might-cost-you">3 Ways More Money in Retirement Might Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k full retirement age inflation Mistakes money moves mortgages regrets social security Thu, 01 Dec 2016 11:00:08 +0000 Matt Bell 1843961 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Credit Repair Mistakes That Will Cost You http://www.wisebread.com/8-credit-repair-mistakes-that-will-cost-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-credit-repair-mistakes-that-will-cost-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shocked_credit_card_183185522.jpg" alt="Woman making credit repair mistakes that will cost her" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Rebuilding a poor credit score can seem like an overwhelming task, especially as bad credit puts you in a rotten financial situation. With bad credit you get much higher interest rates, and can often get completely denied when you apply for a new account. But if you don't go about repairing your credit in the right way, you may actually be doing more harm than good. Here are the top eight credit repair mistakes too many people make every day.</p> <h2>1. Closing Accounts With a Zero Balance</h2> <p>We all hear horror stories of accounts being used by identity thieves long after we stopped using them. But with today's identity theft protections, and credit card companies footing the bill for fraud, that's no longer a concern. However, these cards on your file, although not being used, do count toward your credit score.</p> <p>Let's say you have three credit cards, each with a $12,000 limit. One card is at a zero balance, one has $1,500 on it, and the other has $5,500. You decide to transfer the balance of $1,500 to the card with $5,500 and close the two empty accounts. Huge mistake. Before, you had $36,000 in available credit, and were using on $7,000 of it. That's just over 19% of your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=internal">credit utilization</a>. Now, you have only $12,000 in available credit, and are utilizing 58% off your available credit. You have the same amount of debt, but your credit score just took a hit because of your huge debt to credit availability ratio.</p> <p>Instead of closing old accounts, use them for smaller purchases each month, and pay off the balances in full. It will keep your credit score in check.</p> <h2>2. Hiring a Credit Repair Company</h2> <p>You've seen the ads. You've heard the testimonials. They offer to clean up your credit (for a monthly fee, of course), and say they will raise your score by hundreds of points. Well, if you believe that, someone has a bridge to sell you, too.</p> <p>Most of these credit repair businesses are in the business of making as much money from you as possible, and will stretch out the process for months, or even years. One such technique they use to do this is called &quot;jamming,&quot; and it can seriously damage your reputation. The problem is, &quot;jamming&quot; actually does work&hellip;for a short while.</p> <p>Here's how it works: When you (or your credit repair agency) sends a dispute to a credit bureau, it will be forwarded to a vendor for verification. And under the rules of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the agency has to review and respond to every dispute within 30 days. The &quot;jamming&quot; scam perverts this system by inundating the bureaus with challenges of every item on your credit report. It's an overflow of paperwork, and the items don't get addressed in time, so they disappear from your credit report. But, they come back. The vendor who reported it will keep doing so, and until it is properly addressed, it will never disappear. But the credit repair agency looks like it is doing the job, and you keep on paying them to scrub items that keep coming back.</p> <h2>3. Lying About Your Credit Issues</h2> <p>This is not the time to start getting creative with your explanations, or just plain lying about what is in your credit report. If you have a legitimate issue with something that is in your report, such as a late payment you know you made on time, then by all means fight tooth-and-nail to dispute it. But if you did make the payment late &mdash; sorry, you did that. It's on you, regardless of the situation. You can ask, or even plead, for the vendor who reported it to scrub it from their records, but lying won't get you very far. You could even get into some legal trouble, which is not going to do you any favors at all.</p> <h2>4. Paying Collection Fees</h2> <p>Collection agencies are built on a model of intimidation, scare tactics, bullying, and fear. If you do get a call from a collection agency, it will not be pleasant. You may be told you owe $50, the remaining balance on a &quot;charged-off&quot; (also known as delinquent) account. Hey, it's only $50, you have it available now, so you pay it off. Wrong. Dead wrong.</p> <p>Although it will get the collection agency off your back, it won't do anything to fix your credit score. In fact, it's an admission of guilt, and can impact your account by more negative points than simply not paying it off at all. As far as a credit report is concerned, paying a $50 fee on a charged-off account has the same impact as paying off a $50,000 fee. Your credit will suffer, because you have a permanent record that you are unreliable. Do whatever you can to work this debt out without paying the collection fee.</p> <h2>5. Consolidating Too Much Debt</h2> <p>When it comes to financial issues and credit scores, variety is definitely the spice of life. Lenders in general like to see a selection of different credit cards, loans, and other accounts, with small, manageable balances that are paid each month. You may very well have a hard time keeping track of all these smaller payments, and decide to put them all onto one card to save time and money. That is a mistake.</p> <p>If you close those accounts, your credit score is affected, as outlined earlier. If you leave them all open, but have eight cards at zero and one that is almost maxed out, that is also going to hurt your credit score. Lenders love revolving balances, but other lenders may look at you as a risk if you have eaten up 90% of your available credit on just one card. You need to spread it around. Plus, without strict discipline, you could find yourself using the other cards again, and bury yourself under more monthly debts.</p> <h2>6. Eliminating Every Single Debt</h2> <p>After getting burned with credit cards and loans, the first thing you want to do is swear them off completely. But wait.&nbsp;A credit score is affected by many things, but one major contributing factor is how you pay your debts each month. If you have small debts and pay on time, you are low risk, and highly attractive. You'll have a credit history. If you have nothing in your credit report, lenders will give you a very wide berth. They don't have a resume of your spending habits to go from, and that is like letting someone rent your house without doing a background check. So once you've done the smart thing and paid off all your debt, pick one or two <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal">credit cards with solid rewards</a>, use it to pay for stuff you meant to buy, and pay it off entirely when the bill is due. That will keep your credit active, healthy, and you'll get a few bucks back from your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal">cash rewards credit cards</a>, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=seealso">Use These Credit Cards When You Grocery Shop</a>)</p> <h2>7. Not Keeping Accurate Documentation</h2> <p>In this day and age, there is no excuse for not maintaining records of your correspondence with collection agencies, credit card companies, and other lenders. If you don't already have one, buy yourself a basic scanner and keep a copy of every letter you send (in this case, physical letters are much better than emails), or even take photographs. Send any letters, such as credit disputes, via certified mail, and indicate that you want a return receipt. Keep a file on your computer as a back up, and a physical folder that you can access at any time. You want to be completely buttoned up, and ready to bring out evidence of your payments and conversations at a moment's notice.</p> <h2>8. Finally&hellip; Doing Nothing</h2> <p>Yes, having bad credit sucks. But choosing to ignore it, hoping it will sort itself out over time, is even worse. You do not have to accept a bad credit score. You do not have to spend a lifetime paying for small mistakes you made. You can fix it, and you can do it by yourself, or find a legitimate professional to help you out.</p> <p>First and foremost, you should be checking your credit report often. <a href="http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-2822544-10809829-1462225929000">Credit Karma</a> is a great place to start, and it's totally free. Also check out <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action">AnnualCreditRepot.com</a>, which is also free, and covers the three big reporting bureaus &mdash; TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. When you see a mistake, no matter how small, get in contact with the lender and fix it. You have the power, but you have to act upon it.</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/8-credit-repair-mistakes-that-will-cost-you">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/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</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/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</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-after-the-holidays-moves-your-credit-score-will-thank-you-for">5 After the Holidays Moves Your Credit Score Will Thank You For</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-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score">5 Financial Mistakes That Won&#039;t Hurt Your Credit Score</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-fix-your-finances-after-missing-a-payment">How to Fix Your Finances After Missing a Payment</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance collections consolidating credit history credit repair credit repair companies credit score fees late payments Mistakes zero balances Tue, 22 Nov 2016 11:30:08 +0000 Paul Michael 1837740 at http://www.wisebread.com