insurance http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/3139/all en-US 5 Great Retail Jobs for Working Parents http://www.wisebread.com/5-great-retail-jobs-for-working-parents <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-great-retail-jobs-for-working-parents" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-458589277.jpg" alt="Costco is a good place for parents to work" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>'Tis the season, as in, the 4th quarter of the calendar year! That magical time when seasonal retail employees are needed the most, and hired en masse to meet the demand from Black Friday through January. If you have kids, try these five great retail gigs for working parents.</p> <h2>1. Patagonia</h2> <p>The best retailer for working parents could very well be Patagonia, the clothing and gear brand beloved by trekkers and puffy-vest fans everywhere. Why? They have <a href="http://time.com/money/4546719/patagonia-onsite-child-care/">free on-site child care</a> for employees. You read that right! This also means that 100% of employees return to their post after their maternity leave.</p> <p>So how do you climb your way into that gig? Well, it's not so much a seasonal gig as it is a job in their headquarters, which is in Ventura, CA. Not such a bad relocation, though.</p> <h2>2. Lands' End</h2> <p>In similar step with Patagonia, another purveyor of outdoorsy goods Lands' End also provides lots of benefits to workers. In addition to many citing its company culture as safe, fair, and open, they also boast some competitive benefits, including: <a href="http://www.landsend.com/jobs/life-at-lands-end/real-benefits/">health insurance</a>, 401K, subsidized on-site food services, a wellness center &ndash;&ndash; all great benefits for parents. Time to apply for a position now!</p> <h2>3. Wegmans</h2> <p>That's right, the supermarket chain known across the East Coast for great food and service is also a great employer. Wegmans is number four on the <a href="http://fortune.com/best-companies/wegmans-food-markets-4/">Best Companies to Work For list in 2016</a>. </p> <p>Why are they so great? Wegmans covers 85%-100% of employees' and their dependents health insurance. Many employees are even offered dental insurance. Plus, if you're a college student, they help <a href="https://jobs.wegmans.com/benefits">pay your tuition</a>. If you live in the Northeast and are looking for a job, this would be a good one. Plus, they make really delicious doughnuts.</p> <h2>4. Staples</h2> <p>Need a chain store with more locations, and most likely to be near your home? Staples is a very good option. </p> <p>Staples employees get an Aetna <a href="http://www.stapleslivewell.com/SitePages/Welcome.aspx">health insurance plan</a> for a deduction of $30 per paycheck, or $60 for those with dependents. Workers also get short-term disability insurance, and access to a service that can pair them with financial services and child care. Not too shabby!</p> <h2>5. Costco</h2> <p>If it wasn't already hard to avoid spending money at Costco, everyone's favorite bulk-everything retailer is also famously good to its employees. <a href="https://www.costcobenefits.com/">Employee perks</a> for America's second-largest retailer include: choosing your own health plan if you work over 24 hours per week, a 401K plan, an FSA account to use <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-miss-out-on-this-easy-way-to-pay-for-child-care">pretax income for child care</a>, and an employee care program that includes access to mental health, and financial professionals.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-great-retail-jobs-for-working-parents">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/can-you-really-make-a-living-in-the-gig-economy">Can You Really Make a Living in the Gig Economy?</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-side-jobs-for-people-who-are-good-with-money">6 Side Jobs for People Who Are Good With Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-reasons-paid-parental-leave-is-essential-for-moms-and-dads">5 Financial Reasons Paid Parental Leave Is Essential for Moms and Dads</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-retail-gigs-that-pay-well-and-offer-benefits">11 Retail Gigs That Pay Well and Offer Benefits</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/17-part-time-jobs-to-do-while-your-kids-are-at-school">17 Part-Time Jobs to Do While Your Kids Are at School</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Family Job Hunting benefits employers insurance part-time job retail retail job side gig side jobs working parent Thu, 01 Dec 2016 11:30:11 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1844262 at http://www.wisebread.com Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_cash_grass_13020597_0.jpg" alt="Finding ways to watch out for last minute home buying costs" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 2015, 5,250,000 existing homes and 510,000 newly constructed properties were <a href="http://www.realtor.org/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics">sold in the U.S</a>. And as Wise Bread predicted back in December 2015, homes have been one of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-necessities-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2016">necessities that are cheaper in 2016</a>, boosting the percentage of first-time homebuyers entering the market.</p> <p>But unexpected costs toward the end of the buying process can leave prospective buyers scrambling at the last minute or, even worse, unable to land the home of their dreams. Let's take a look at five pesky home buying costs that could appear at the eleventh hour.</p> <h2>1. Lower Property Appraisal</h2> <p>The seller told you that the home is worth $350,000 and you earnestly believed that valuation. So, you went to the bank and applied for a mortgage based on the market value of $350,000. To meet compliance requirements and to do its due diligence, the bank includes an appraisal contingency in your mortgage application. This clause requires that a third-party appraiser verifies that the home is actually worth $350,000.</p> <p>If the appraisal requested by your bank were to come under the $350,000, then somebody would have to come up with the difference for the bank to approve the loan. Depending on several factors, including the number of days the house has been on the market and the skill level of your real estate agent, the seller, her agent, or your own agent may help you with the difference. In the worst case scenario, you'll have to come up with the difference or have to say goodbye to that home.</p> <p>In the event that you believe the third-party appraiser may have provided an inaccurate estimate, you could hire another appraiser, submit that new estimate to the bank, and let the bank re-evaluate the mortgage. However, you would be most likely responsible for the cost of that second appraisal.</p> <h2>2. Mortgage Insurance</h2> <p>Let's imagine that you are in the process of saving for a decent down payment for your first home. Two years before you reach your savings goal, a home is finally available in your dream neighborhood. Your broker is confident that a similar home won't be available for another five years, so he suggests that you buy. The catch: You can't come up with at least 20% of the home value for a down payment.</p> <p>When you pony up less than a 20% down payment to buy a home, you'll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). The <a href="https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/hpa.pdf">Homeowner's Protection Act</a> requires homebuyers who finance more than 80% of a new home's value to purchase PMI. Keep in mind that this is protection for the lender (not you!) in case you default on your mortgage.</p> <p>The average PMI payment ranges from 0.5% to 1% of the total value of the home loan. Still, this cost isn't small potatoes. In 2015, the average value of a mortgage in the U.S. was $172,341. Assuming a 1% PMI, the average PMI payment in 2015 was about $1,723. That would be one cost that you would have to pay year after year until your loan value reaches 78% of the original market value of the secured property.</p> <p>Still, your lender may have a strong case to continue requiring the PMI in the event of a dramatic price drop in the market value of your home, an existing home equity line of credit (HELOC) on your property, or a long string of late monthly payments within the last two years.</p> <h2>3. Dramatic Change in Financial Situation</h2> <p>When you're in the process of buying a home, you should keep a consistent financial picture, especially with your credit score. So, delay buying all those expensive new kitchen appliances, pieces of furniture for your living room, and blue period art pieces on credit until you have the keys in hand. A dramatic change to your credit score is a major red flag for the lender and the financial institution may decide to offer the mortgage at a higher interest rate than originally expected &mdash; or turn down the loan entirely.</p> <p>Here are other financial do's and don'ts until settlement day:</p> <ul> <li>Do keep a good paper trail of the source of your down payment;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't make large transfers between your accounts;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do delay any other large purchases on credit, such as a car;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't miss any monthly payments on existing debt (they account for 35% of your credit score!);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do provide all documentation requested by your lender and agent within the stipulated time frame;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't open new credit or store cards.</li> </ul> <h2>4. Repairs</h2> <p>When you receive the report from a licensed home inspector, you may find that your dream home is not so dreamy after all. Take the comments from the inspector seriously and determine whether it's worthwhile to ask the seller to incur some of those costs, or to provide a financial remedy. After all, you'll be the one covering all of them once the home is yours.</p> <p>However, choose your fights wisely. No home is 100% perfect. Having to replace all door handles because you find them out of style isn't nearly as bad as having to battle black mold in the basement of your soon-to-be home.</p> <h2>5. Special Case: Hike in Homeowner's Association Fees</h2> <p>Last but not least, make sure to review the minutes of the meetings of the homeowner's association (HOA) for your property for at least the last six months.</p> <p>Pay special attention to two items.</p> <p>First, look for a schedule of upcoming monthly dues. In some cases, you may be welcomed with a higher-than-expected bill right off the bat.</p> <p>Second, watch out for any large projects that are under current review by the board of the HOA. For example, installing a complex system of solar panels on the roof or replacing all the windows of the apartment building because existing windows no longer meet city codes could both mean an ever-growing monthly HOA due. In certain circumstances, the HOA board could be planning to present you the option to pay your entire pro rata amount for the project or to finance the cost through the HOA's loan. Either option would put a dent on your monthly budget.</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/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">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/5-reasons-why-2015-is-the-year-to-buy-a-house">5 Reasons Why 2015 is the Year to Buy a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">Rent Your Home or Buy? Here&#039;s How to Decide</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/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</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-prepare-for-a-home-purchase-in-2010">How to Prepare for a Home Purchase in 2010</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-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing appraisals hidden costs hoa fees home buying homeownership insurance last minute costs mortgages pmi repairs Fri, 18 Nov 2016 11:30:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1835252 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Retail Gigs That Pay Well and Offer Benefits http://www.wisebread.com/11-retail-gigs-that-pay-well-and-offer-benefits <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-retail-gigs-that-pay-well-and-offer-benefits" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_85190881_MEDIUM.jpg" alt="These retail jobs offer good pay and benefits" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I always find the correlation between good hourly pay and and strong customer service to be interesting. It seems the better taken care of the employees are (making decent wages and getting good benefits), the happier they'll be at work. With that in mind, here are 11 places to work that not only have an average hourly pay rate over $10, but also offer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-part-time-jobs-that-offer-college-benefits">pretty nice perks</a> to boot.</p> <h2>1. ALDI Grocery Chain</h2> <p>The&nbsp;<a href="https://careers.aldi.us/">ALDI grocery chain</a> offers a very competitive salary and benefits package. According to Glassdoor.com, <a href="https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/ALDI-Salaries-E7337.htm">associates make on average $11.88 an hour</a>, with store managers making in excess of $60,000 annually. They also offer a very good medical and dental plan for all full-time employees. The 401K contribution match at ALDI is&nbsp;dollar for dollar match on the first 5%.&nbsp;Additionally, part-time employees with at least 25 hours are eligible for medical/dental benefits.</p> <h2>2. Costco</h2> <p>A job at Costco Wholesale has always been in high demand, and when you delve into their salary and benefits package, you start to understand why. The average cashier at Costco earns a very competitive $14.63 an hour and a stocker earns $13.34 hourly. Their excellent&nbsp;<a href="http://www.costco.com/benefits.html">benefits package</a>, which includes dental, vision, and medical, is available to both full and part-time employees. Full-time workers are eligible after 90 days of employment and part-timers after 180. More cool perks include Sunday overtime which starts at about $17.50/hour and a 401K program which matches your contribution at $0.50 for every dollar, up to $1,000, for your first year. Throw in a stock purchase plan that waives all fees and commissions and Costco can be a very lucrative place to work.</p> <h2>3. H&amp;M Fashion</h2> <p>H&amp;M hourly employees come in at about $10.95 per hour with a strong benefits package to both part-time and full-time employees. The fact that<a href="https://career.hm.com/content/hmcareer/en_us/workingathm/get-to-know-us/benefits.html"> they offer medical and vision plans</a> to ALL employees is what makes H&amp;M stand out from other clothing retailers. They then go one step further and offer perks like pet insurance, 401Ks with company match, life insurance, Metlife auto insurance, plus a liberal 25% employee discount on all in-store purchases. You'd be smart to add H&amp;M to your &quot;must-apply&quot; job list.</p> <h2>4. IKEA</h2> <p>The Swedish furniture and home décor company known as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/this-is-ikea/working-at-the-ikea-group/">IKEA</a> can be a financially rewarding place to work. Their average pay for sales associates averages a solid $11 per hour. Also, if you work more than 20 hours per week, you'll qualify for health benefits. All employees will qualify for a 401K plan (5% match), paid time off and a generous 15% employee discount even on clearance and &quot;as-Is&quot; products.</p> <h2>5. &amp; 6. Lowe's and Home Depot</h2> <p>I think it's fair to group both Home Depot and <a href="http://careers.lowes.com/why-lowes/">Lowe's</a> together, as their salary and benefit packages are quite similar. The average customer service associate at Lowe's earns a respectable $11.05 an hour, while <a href="https://careers.homedepot.com/">Home Depot</a> pays about <a href="https://www.glassdoor.com/Benefits/The-Home-Depot-US-Benefits-EI_IE655.0,14_IL.15,17_IN1.htm">$11.40 per hour</a>. Both home improvement warehouses offer benefits packages that are fairly solid for full-time workers, but are quite expensive for part-time workers. As a matter of fact, part-time employees at Lowe's have to pay for their entire first year health plan and 40% thereafter.</p> <h2>7. Nike Store</h2> <p>Nike Store employees are paid on average slightly above $10 an hour. <a href="http://retailjobs.nike.com/article/benefits">Their benefits package</a> is what makes them stand out. While full-timers are offered medical and dental shortly after employment, part-timers with at least one year of employment under their belts are offered a very competitive health coverage with a reasonable $1,000 deductible. Once your deductible is met, Nike will pay for 80% of any accrued medical costs. All employees are also offered a 15% discount toward the purchase of Nike stock. They also encourage their employees to buy Nike gear as they offer a 30% discount at the Nike Outlet and 20% off all purchases at NikeTown.</p> <h2>8. Nordstrom</h2> <p>The average sales associate at Nordstrom makes about $11.70 an hour plus commission, which starts at 6.75% but can vary by department. Some <a href="http://www.seattlepi.com/business/article/Nordstrom-salesman-s-million-dollar-secret-is-in-1140669.php">savvy Nordstrom sales employees</a> have even earned upwards of $1 million dollars annually. While it appears Nordstrom offered health benefits to part-timers at one point, this no longer seems to be the case. Only full-time employees are eligible for medical and dental these days. Also, all employees score a 20% discount on Nordstrom merchandise, and 33% when you reach management level. Not too shabby. Throw in a <a href="http://about.nordstrom.com/careers/#/about-us/benefits">competitive 401K plan</a> with company matching, and they are one of the most solid retail jobs going today.</p> <h2>9. REI Co-Op</h2> <p>Hourly sales associates at REI make $11.40 on average, but it's their commitment to employee satisfaction that's remarkable. For example, on <a href="http://newsroom.rei.com/news/corporate/rei-closing-its-doors-on-black-friday-invites-nation-to-optoutside.htm">Black Friday last year</a>, REI was one of only a couple large retailers that closed their doors and told their employees to stay home and spend time with family. They even offer workers two paid days off per year, called &quot;<a href="http://blog.rei.com/social/rei-employees-get-outside-and-play-with-yay-days/">Yay Days</a>,&quot; to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. They also offer a competitive benefits package that both part-time and full-time employees are eligible for. On top of that, all employees get a 50% discount on REI-branded products and 30% on all other brands. Toss in one of the better employee 401K plans, with 6% matching, and REI might be a smart place to apply.</p> <h2>10. Trader Joe's</h2> <p>Right off the bat, <a href="http://www.traderjoes.com/careers">Trader Joe's is a highly desirable place to work</a> as hourly employees make around $13.50 an hour. They are also one of the only grocery chains that offers health and dental benefits to part-time workers who work at least 30 hours a week. Work less than 30 hours a week, and they'll cut out the medical coverage. Throw in a free gym membership after six months of employment, a 10% employee discount, and it's no wonder that Trader Joe's employees typically have smiles on their faces and a kind word to exchange with shoppers.</p> <h2>11. Whole Foods</h2> <p>The average hourly rate for Whole Foods employees is a couple dollars less than Trader Joe's at about $11.50 an hour. While expensive for part-timers, if you work at least 20 hours a week, you'll be eligible for a high-deductible medical plan. They do beat Trader Joe's when it comes to their 20% employee discount, which is a nice money-saving perk. Also, they have some <a href="http://fortune.com/2011/05/18/5-reasons-why-its-great-to-work-at-whole-foods/">cool employee perks</a> like paid time-off, massage therapy, language classes, and even yoga classes.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-retail-gigs-that-pay-well-and-offer-benefits">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/5-great-retail-jobs-for-working-parents">5 Great Retail Jobs for Working Parents</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-employer-benefits-that-can-leave-more-spending-money-in-your-pockets">7 Employer Benefits That Can Leave More Spending Money in Your Pockets</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/22-websites-that-will-pay-you-to-write-for-them">22 Websites That Will Pay You to Write for Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-terrible-work-from-home-jobs-you-should-avoid">8 Terrible Work-From-Home &quot;Jobs&quot; You Should Avoid</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/check-out-these-5-legit-mystery-shopping-gigs">Check Out These 5 Legit Mystery Shopping Gigs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Income Job Hunting benefits common job search mistakes health benefits insurance jobs that pay well retail gigs retail jobs Thu, 20 Oct 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Kyle James 1816659 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Threats to a Secure Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/9-threats-to-a-secure-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-threats-to-a-secure-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_holding_hands_88407163.jpg" alt="Couple learning threats to a secure retirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Saving and investing for retirement isn't easy. There's a lot that can happen to take you off track, potentially leaving you less money than you hoped for.</p> <p>From poor financial planning to unexpected events and even nationwide economic woes, here are some of the things that could pose a threat to your secure retirement.</p> <h2>1. Not Investing Enough</h2> <p>It's never easy to figure out how much to invest. After all, you want to make sure you have enough money to deal with your current needs. It's common for people to invest too little, and this can hurt them in the long run.</p> <p>When saving for retirement, it's smart to contribute as close to the maximum each year into 401K and IRA plans. (That's $18,000 for the 401K and $5,500 for the IRA.) If you can't contribute quite that much, at least put enough in to get the company match on your 401K plan.</p> <p>Even a few extra dollars per month into retirement accounts can make a big difference. For example, let's say you have $50,000 in an account and contribute $500 per month for 25 years. Assuming a 7% return, your portfolio would amount to about $677,000. But what if you contributed $1,000 monthly? Then it would hit nearly $1.1 million.</p> <h2>2. Starting Too Late</h2> <p>When investing, time is your biggest friend. The more time you have to invest, the bigger your nest egg can grow. Thus, one of the biggest threats to a secure retirement is failing to contribute to your fund early in life. If you're past 40 years old, you may have only a couple of decades to invest before you wish to stop working, and that may not be long enough to amass the kind of wealth you'll need for a long and comfortable retirement.</p> <p>Let's say you invest $25,000 today and add $1,000 per month until you are 65. If you're currently 45 and get a 7% annual return, you'll have about $625,000 upon retirement. Not bad, but if you had started when you were 25, you'd have nearly $3 million.</p> <h2>3. Raiding Retirement Funds</h2> <p>Retirement accounts such as a 401K or IRA are designed to have money grow more or less untouched until you reach retirement age. You can withdraw money from them, but there's a cost.</p> <p>When you raid these retirement funds, you'll lose the money in penalties, but you'll also lose the potential earnings of the money you take out. Over time, this can cost an investor thousands of dollars.</p> <h2>4. Economic Growth</h2> <p>For decades following World War II, the annual growth rate of the American economy averaged more than 3%, with some years seeing double that. But in recent years, that annual rate has shrunk to barely 2%. In short, the American economy is not growing as fast as it once was, and that has implications for household income, corporate growth, and employment.</p> <h2>5. Possible Entitlement Cuts</h2> <p>Many lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been warning Americans of a looming crisis in entitlement funding. Observers of the federal budget note that unless there is serious reform, Social Security Trust Funds could be depleted within 20 years. This means that for the younger generation, there may not be as much left from the government upon retirement.</p> <p>It's important to note, however, that workers who want to live comfortably after they are done working should not be counting on Social Security to carry them through the end of their life. Someone who saves aggressively and invests wisely should be able to amass enough in a retirement fund to get by even if Social Security benefits are adjusted downward or even eliminated.</p> <h2>6. Declining Pensions</h2> <p>If you currently work for a company that offers a defined benefit plan, you are a rare breed. In recent years, companies have shifted from offering pensions to instead offering 401K plans, in which workers invest on their own. In most cases, they will also get a contribution from their employer, but that's not guaranteed. This doesn't necessarily mean you'll be destitute at retirement, but it does require employees to be much more engaged in their retirement planning.</p> <h2>7. Placing All Your Eggs in One Basket</h2> <p>Even if you are saving aggressively and investing every penny you can, it's possible to end up with less money than you need in retirement. It can happen when your portfolio is too heavily balanced toward a single investment. It's unwise to invest a high percentage of your savings in one company or even one industry or asset class, because one bad day could wipe out a large chunk of your savings. (Consider the plight of Enron employees who lost nearly everything had most of their savings in company stock.)</p> <p>To protect your retirement money, invest in a diverse mixture of stocks in various sizes and asset classes. Buy mutual funds instead of individual stocks, if at all possible.</p> <h2>8. Funding College Instead of Retirement</h2> <p>It's never a bad idea to save money to contribute to your children's education. There are several vehicles including 529 plans that allow you to invest money tax-free toward college. But many investors become so focused on saving for college that they fail to contribute enough to their own retirement fund.</p> <p>Remember that it's possible to <em>borrow </em>money for college, but you can't borrow money to fund your retirement if you find you're lacking in funds when you're done working. Ideally, you'll be able to amass enough money to fund college and your retirement comfortably. But if you have to make a choice, pay your future self first, then contribute to the college fund.</p> <h2>9. Being Poorly Insured</h2> <p>You may feel like nothing bad will ever happen to you. You are young and healthy. You're a safe driver and you live in a nice neighborhood. So you skimp on things like health, auto, and homeowner's insurance. You may think you're saving money, but you're at serious risk for big financial loss if you get seriously ill or have a serious accident.</p> <p>Being uninsured or underinsured can leave you struggling to make ends meet, placing retirement savings on the back burner. You may even have to raid your retirement accounts to pay the bills. It's wise to perform an insurance assessment to determine if you have the proper level of insurance to protect yourself financially.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-threats-to-a-secure-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/8-signs-your-retirement-is-on-track">8 Signs Your Retirement Is on Track</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-tell-if-your-401k-is-a-good-or-a-bad-one">How to Tell if Your 401K Is a Good or a Bad One</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-best-online-brokerages-for-your-ira">5 Best Online Brokerages for Your IRA</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-american-cities-where-you-can-retire-on-just-social-security">5 American Cities Where You Can Retire On Just Social Security</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/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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement college Economy education funds income insurance investing late start pensions risk stocks threats Fri, 07 Oct 2016 09:00:06 +0000 Tim Lemke 1807026 at http://www.wisebread.com 14 Secrets to Saving on Eyewear http://www.wisebread.com/14-secrets-to-saving-on-eyewear <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-secrets-to-saving-on-eyewear" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_wearing_glasses_86229369.jpg" alt="Woman learning secret ways to save on eyewear" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Eyeglasses and contact lenses are a necessity for more than 150 million Americans. Unfortunately, eyewear is not a cheap purchase &mdash; so we've compiled some tips to help save you money on the cost of glasses and contacts.</p> <h2>1. Purchase Your Glasses Online</h2> <p>Along with enjoying huge savings on your new set of glasses, you can also take advantage of online services to ensure that the glasses look right with your style. This will allow you to casually try the glasses on at home so you can take your time choosing the right ones. Once you find the right pair, they will likely be shipped in no time (even faster than you would get them at the optician's office.)</p> <p>If you have issues like astigmatism, you may not be able to shop online and it might more prudent to have your doctor custom fit you for the right pair of glasses. You may also want to have a professional help you at an optical store and once you find the glasses you like, you can search for the frames online for the best deal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-ever-buy-eyeglasses-online?ref=seealso">Should You Ever Buy Eyeglasses Online?</a>)</p> <h2>2. Purchase Your Contact Lenses Online</h2> <p>Websites like <a href="http://1800contacts.com">1-800 Contacts</a> can save you money on your contacts, compared to what you would pay at your optician's office. You can also often get discounts if you purchase more than one box of contacts at a time. Buying in bulk will also save you money on shipping and allow you to lock in today's rate.</p> <h2>3. Find Trial Offers</h2> <p>Certain contact lens providers, like Acuvue and Dailies, will offer free trial lenses, so you can try them before you buy them. This will help ensure that the contacts fit comfortably, so you know you'll get your money's worth.</p> <h2>4. Look for Online Deals</h2> <p>Take advantage of online coupons and deals from services like Groupon. This can save you quite a bit of money on glasses, contacts, and even your eye exam. Just make sure to read the details thoroughly as some coupons only cover the cost of the frames, and you will have to pay for the lenses out-of-pocket.</p> <h2>5. Ask for a Price Match</h2> <p>Many optical shops will offer a price match, if you ask. Some shops will even offer a price match and a rebate, so you'll actually spend less than you would online.</p> <h2>6. Keep the Same Lenses or Frames</h2> <p>If your lenses are still in good shape and you still have the same prescription, consider reusing them in a new frame. Many optical shops will help you find a similar style frame and can apply your old lenses so it looks like a new pair of glasses.</p> <p>The same rule holds for your frames. If you like your frames, but your prescription has changed, take advantage of a <a href="http://www.replacementlensexpress.com/">prescription eyeglass lens replacement service</a> that will replace the lenses in your existing frames.</p> <h2>7. Opt for Cheaper Glasses</h2> <p>If you tend to wear contacts and only reach for your glasses when you're home, then you don't need to spend a lot on designer glasses. Instead, opt for the cheaper glasses since no one will see them anyway.</p> <h2>8. Don't Replace Your Glasses Every Year</h2> <p>If you don't need to replace your glasses, then it's best to just keep the same pair for as long as you can. After all, it can take a lot of time and energy to find the perfect glasses, so why replace them after only a year?</p> <h2>9. Skip the Add-Ons</h2> <p>Unless your prescription is above +/- 3.00, professionals recommend skipping the add-ons like antireflective coating, light adjusting lenses, or high index or ultrahigh index lenses. Skipping these add-ons can save you quite a bit of money and won't really make a difference in the long run.</p> <h2>10. Shop at Costco</h2> <p>According to Consumer Reports, Costco received the <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/eyeglass-stores/buying-guide.htm">highest overall satisfaction rating</a> of any eyeglass retailer. Not only do they offer better service, but you can also save money on your favorite pair of glasses.</p> <h2>11. Take Advantage of Free Repairs and Adjustments</h2> <p>If you choose to purchase your glasses in-office, then take advantage of free adjustments to ensure your glasses fit perfectly. Inquire with your optician's office about whether they offer any free replacements or repairs.</p> <h2>12. Take Advantage of Insurance</h2> <p>Before you get started, it's important to find out if you're covered by insurance. Even if you don't have a separate vision insurance plan, you may be covered under your regular medical insurance plan. Many insurance plans include a basic eye or dental care plan, so you may be covered without even realizing it.</p> <p>Before visiting your eyeglass store, first find out if they accept your vision insurance. If they accept it, find out what your insurance covers. Take advantage of whatever you can so that you get your money's worth every year. If they do not accept your insurance plan, inquire from your plan's administrator about whether they will offer reimbursement if you decide to pay out-of-pocket.</p> <h2>13. Use FSA Funds</h2> <p>If you have an FSA (or flexible spending account), take advantage of this pretax money to pay for eligible medical expenses such as prescription glasses and contact lenses. Keep in mind that FSA funds might not pay for extras like extended warranties. The goal is to use up all of your FSA funds before the end of the year, but it's important that you don't wait until the last minute to use it or you may rush to pick your new glasses, even if they aren't the most flattering option or don't offer the best deal.</p> <h2>14. Do Your Research</h2> <p>Before scheduling your eye test, research the options available to you so you can determine where you'll get the best deal for your money. Call your eyeglass store of choice to inquire about whether they currently have any coupons or deals to cut the cost of your new glasses. If you know the glasses that you want, you can search online for the brand and model number to compare prices.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-secrets-to-saving-on-eyewear">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/save-on-christmas-shopping-with-this-clever-gift-card-strategy">Save on Christmas Shopping With This Clever Gift Card Strategy</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/16-amazon-deal-hacks-you-may-not-already-know">16 Amazon Deal Hacks You May Not Already Know</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/30-cash-back-sites-to-earn-you-thousands-per-year">30+ Cash Back Sites to Earn You Thousands Per Year</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-things-you-should-never-buy-on-groupon-or-livingsocial">5 Things You Should Never Buy on Groupon or LivingSocial</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-buy-eyeglasses-online">Should You Ever Buy Eyeglasses Online?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping contacts deals eye doctor flexible spending accounts glasses insurance online shopping optician saving money trials Thu, 15 Sep 2016 09:30:29 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1792246 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_money_moves_63337017.jpg" alt="Couple asking questions before signing a lease" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So you've been searching for a place to live. You've looked at a bunch of different homes and apartments, driven all over town, and have finally decided on the one you want. It's perfect. But before you whip out the pen and commit to something, ask the following 10 questions. They could prevent you from making a very costly &mdash; and time-consuming &mdash; mistake.</p> <h2>1. Which Utilities Are My Responsibility?</h2> <p>Depending on where you live (and how generous the landlord is), utility responsibility may vary. If you're living in a large apartment complex, you may find that a lot of utilities are covered by your rent. In other cases, it may only be water and sewage, or in the worst case scenario&hellip;nothing at all. So make sure you know exactly which utilities are going to be your responsibility, <em>and </em>see if you can get a history of the bills at that address. Some homes are more energy efficient than others, and some homes have additional costs you may not consider (such as fees for constructing new pipelines). When you get the complete picture, you may discover that the utility bills put a unit beyond your reach.</p> <h2>2. How and When Do I Pay My Rent?</h2> <p>You already know what the rent costs, but you also need to know how and when to pay it. These days, many larger apartment leasing companies will take payments online, or through an automated debit system. Private landlords will most likely take a check or banker's draft, and may want you to mail it, or hand it over in person. There may also be fees for paying online or by check, so ask about that. And of course, ask about late fees and grace periods. You may get up to five days to pay your rent without incurring a penalty.</p> <h2>3. Do I Have to Have Renters Insurance?</h2> <p>Any kind of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-definitely-need-renters-insurance?ref=internal">renters insurance</a> is good to have, even if it covers the bare minimum. But times are tough, and you may not have the money to afford it right now. Your landlord or leasing agency may not care. Or, they may have a very strict renters insurance policy, which could once again put you over your monthly budget and make the apartment off limits. If you are required to have it, shop around and get multiple quotes. Use these quotes as bargaining chips with each insurance company to get the best possible rate that covers more of your possessions.</p> <h2>4. What Is Your Guest Policy?</h2> <p>In this day and age, the vast majority of landlords are not going to care if you have guests for long visits. But, it never hurts to check the rules of the apartment complex or landlord. Even then, it's a very tricky rule to enforce, so it's doubtful anything will happen. The problems usually come with guests staying for an extended period of time. If your best friend suddenly becomes homeless and asks to stay in your spare room for a few months, that could have ramifications. And if you decide to move your partner in to live there permanently, you will have to consult the landlord. It's possible a background check will be needed.</p> <h2>5. Can I Make Improvements?</h2> <p>When you move into a new place, you want it to feel like home. That often means personalizing it with paint, wallpaper, new curtains, maybe even new carpet or tile. This should all be openly discussed with the landlord before you ever sign the lease, and put in writing. It's quite possible that any improvements you want to make (even a simple coat of paint), will have to be approved first. Even if you think you're making the place even better (adding a wooden floor for instance), the landlord has every right to take your security deposit when you move out.</p> <h2>6. How Long Is the Lease?</h2> <p>It may seem like an obvious question, but not all leases are created equal. Some landlords may be renting their home out for the summer, and want a tenant for six months or less. Some apartment complexes offer discounts for longer leases. Some leases are month-to-month. You need to know this up front, and also, what kind of fees you will pay to break that lease. It's possible you'll be asked to pay two months' rent to get out of it, and may also lose your security deposit. Other places may be much more relaxed, especially if you find someone to take over the lease.</p> <h2>7. How Much Is the Security Deposit and Do I Get All of It Back?</h2> <p>The typical amount for a security deposit is one month's rent, but it can vary from place to place. Some may only want a nominal fee &mdash; say $300. Now, by law, any kind of security deposit is refundable, that's why it's called a security deposit; you put the money down as insurance for the landlord, you get it back if all is well. However, different landlords have different thresholds for wear and tear, and it's possible you won't get the whole amount back, especially if you have pets.</p> <h2>8. How Will the Apartment Be Prepared and How Should I Leave It?</h2> <p>These are two different questions, but both relate to the cleanliness and appearance of the apartment. Before you move in, you need to know if the entire place will be cleaned and repaired. You may well be viewing the place before any of this has happened, and may be in for a shock if you move in and the carpets are stained and the lighting is broken. So, get in writing how the home should be delivered and returned. Also, when you move out, you may have to pay for some of those very services that make the home ready for the next tenants. So, ask if you have to have the carpets shampooed, or the place professionally cleaned. If you do, and don't do it, this fee can come out of your security deposit.</p> <h2>9. What's the Pet Policy?</h2> <p>Landlords don't like pets, often for good reason. They sometimes leave a smell, they can tear things, they're noisy at times, and they can leave nasty surprises on the carpet. For this reason, most places will have some kind of pet policy in place. It may be as simple as &quot;Yes, pets are fine, but don't let your dog bark all the time.&quot; Other places could impose a nonrefundable fee for the term of the lease to cover additional cleaning, or impose a monthly fee, known as pet rent. Even if you don't have a pet now, ask about it. You don't want to have to move out later because you want to get a dog or a cat.</p> <h2>10. How Do You Deal With Maintenance and Emergencies?</h2> <p>Again, this will vary depending on the kind of place you're looking at. Big apartment complexes usually have a maintenance staff on site, and a simple call to the front desk can be all it takes to get an issue resolved. If you're renting a home from a private landlord, you'll want to know up front what kind of response you will get, and how soon. If it's just a guy renting his house out, and your fence blows down, will it take weeks for the repair to happen? Can you call someone to make repairs, and remove the cost of service from your rent? Do all repairs have to go through the landlord, and are there preferred providers? All this should be asked up front.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been burned by the hidden terms of a lease?</em></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/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">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-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</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-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</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/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">Rent Your Home or Buy? Here&#039;s How to Decide</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-best-tools-for-finding-an-apartment-on-the-cheap">10 Best Tools for Finding an Apartment on the Cheap</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-3-best-cities-with-rent-control">The 3 Best Cities With Rent Control</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing apartments breaking a lease insurance maintenance pets policies renters agreement renting security deposits signing a lease utilities Wed, 31 Aug 2016 10:30:09 +0000 Paul Michael 1782899 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Buy a Car http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-buy-a-car <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-buy-a-car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_new_car_87292815.jpg" alt="Couple making money moves before buying a new car" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The beater you are driving now spends more time in the repair shop than on the highway. Or maybe you're sick of trying to time bus schedules or schedule Uber rides. Whatever the reason, it's time to upgrade to a new set of wheels.</p> <p>Unfortunately for most people, a new car comes with a new monthly auto loan payment. And these payments can be high. Kelley Blue Book reported that the estimated average transaction price for new cars hit $33,845 in May 2016. That's an increase of 3.5% from the same month in 2015.</p> <p>Fortunately, you can prepare for this added cost, and all it takes is a bit of research and planning on your part. Here are six money moves to make the instant you decide to buy a new car.</p> <h2>1. Check Your Credit Reports</h2> <p>You want an auto loan with the lowest possible interest rate, so that your monthly payment is as small as possible. And of course, you'll qualify for lower rates if you have strong credit.</p> <p>But before you start shopping for a new car, check your three credit reports (one each maintained by the national credit bureaus of Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). You can order one copy of each of your reports free from AnnualCreditReport.com. Check carefully for any mistakes &mdash; fixing a mistake could immediately improve your FICO credit score.</p> <p>Knowing the information that the credit bureaus have on you and what your credit score is will give you an idea of whether you can qualify for a low interest rate now, or whether you should work to improve your score before you start hunting for a new car.</p> <h2>2. Call Your Insurance Company</h2> <p>If you are ditching an old car and upgrading to a new one, your auto insurance premium might rise. If you are buying a car for the first time, you'll need to purchase auto insurance before you can hit the road. And you'll need to know, for budgeting reasons, just how much you might expect to pay in auto insurance premiums.</p> <p>Your premium will vary depending on a host of factors, including everything from your age and driving record to the type of car you buy and where you live. So call either your current insurance agent or, if you aren't yet driving, an insurer licensed to do business in your area to get at least an estimate of how much you'll be paying each month or year in insurance costs.</p> <h2>3. Tweak Your Household Budget</h2> <p>You should have a household budget that you follow each month. Adding a new car payment means that you need to tweak that budget. Study your current budget to determine how much of a car payment you can afford. When you start shopping for cars, don't look at any that will leave you with a monthly payment that exceeds that amount. Having a new car is fun. Having a new car that you can't afford is not.</p> <h2>4. Pre-Apply for Financing</h2> <p>When you buy a new car, the dealer will offer you its own financing plan, meaning that you can take out a car loan directly from the dealership that is selling you your vehicle. But the smarter move is to go to your dealership with a preapproval letter from an outside lender.</p> <p>A preapproval letter states that a lender is willing to provide you with an auto loan. The letter will also state exactly how much money this outside lender is willing to loan you.</p> <p>It's good to have another loan option when you're at the dealership. The dealer will still want you to take out a loan from its own finance department, so the dealer might offer you a loan with slightly better terms, including a lower interest rate, as a way to compete. And if your dealer can't come up with a better offer? You can simply finalize that loan from the outside lender.</p> <h2>5. Gather Money for a Down Payment</h2> <p>You'll want to come up with the largest down payment possible when financing a new car. The more cash you provide upfront, the smaller your auto loan will be. And a smaller loan means lower monthly payments.</p> <p>So before shopping for a car, spend some time saving. It's long been recommended that consumers come up with a down payment of 20% of their car's final purchase price. For a car costing $25,000, that comes out to a down payment of $5,000. However, a smaller number of buyers today are actually providing that 20% down. Edmunds reports that consumers in 2015 provided an average down payment of just 10.5% of their car's final purchase price.</p> <p>Don't be one of those consumers who skimps on the down payment. Wait to buy until you've saved up enough cash for a bigger one.</p> <h2>6. Build an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>New cars come with a host of new expenses in addition to that monthly car payment. You'll face insurance costs, gas prices, and repair and maintenance bills. AAA estimates that the annual cost of owning and operating a vehicle in the United States is $8,558. That is actually a six-year low, but shows that owning a car is far from cheap.</p> <p>Make sure that you can afford these extra costs by building an emergency fund <em>before</em> you start car shopping. It's a sounder financial strategy than paying for such unforeseen events as car repairs or emergency home repairs with a credit card.</p> <p><em>What steps do you take when it's time for a new car?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-buy-a-car">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/5-ways-having-a-paid-off-car-is-surprisingly-great">5 Ways Having a Paid Off Car Is Surprisingly Great</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-money-goals-you-can-still-reach-by-2017">13 Money Goals You Can Still Reach by 2017</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/avoid-these-5-common-mistakes-while-rebuilding-your-credit">Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes While Rebuilding Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-secrets-to-a-higher-car-trade-in-value">8 Secrets to a Higher Car Trade-In Value</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-times-you-can-score-a-great-deal-on-a-new-car">5 Times You Can Score a Great Deal on a New Car</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation auto loans budgets credit reports credit score down payments emergency funds financing insurance new car Wed, 13 Jul 2016 10:30:08 +0000 Dan Rafter 1748332 at http://www.wisebread.com Moving? Don't Skimp on These Critical Expenses http://www.wisebread.com/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_empty_box_87950015.jpg" alt="Woman learning not to skimp on moving expenses" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Moving can be an expensive, daunting experience. Worst of all, many people spend unnecessary money on moving supplies and items they simply don't need. On the other hand, you don't want to be dealing with the loss of property or issues after the move because you tried to save a few bucks.</p> <p>The trick is to keep the purchases light, while getting everything you need to safely transport your items to your new destination in one piece. That's why we're here to help you determine what you should, and what you definitely <em>shouldn't</em> skimp on.</p> <h2>Professional Movers</h2> <p>Hiring professional movers may be one of the best things you do for your move. While some people like to rely on themselves, friends, and family members to load and unload the moving truck, this can be a huge waste of time and energy that could be better spent settling into your new place. This can also be a very stressful event that causes friction with friends and family members, so just leave the dirty work to the professionals.</p> <p>Quality professional movers will carefully load your items into the truck, and should adequately protect them so that you can move with the peace of mind that your items are going to make it to your new destination in one piece. In fact, most movers will arrive with moving blankets and padding to further protect any fragile items.</p> <h3>Contact at Least Three Moving Companies</h3> <p>While you will need movers, you want to be careful about who you entrust with all of your possessions. Not all movers are created equal (which you hopefully won't find out the hard way). Carefully research movers to ensure that you're getting what you're expecting. Ask neighbors for recommendations, check Yelp and the Better Business Bureau for customer reviews and complaints, and do your due diligence to find the best movers at the best value in your area.</p> <p>It's usually a good idea to contact at least three reputable moving companies so that you can compare their services and costs. You can also ask them to do an in-home estimate. This will ensure that you get a more accurate quote and it will allow you to gauge whether it's really a company you want to be working with. Make sure to carefully read the estimate or contract to verify what is included with the moving services before signing anything.</p> <h3>Additional Services Offered by Moving Companies</h3> <p>Some moving companies will also help you pack, but this is one expense that you may want to skip. If you are hard-pressed for time, or your move is quickly approaching, then it may be worth the investment to have your moving company help with the packing. Otherwise, roll up your sleeves and get to work, because it can save you big money in the end.</p> <p>Some moving companies will also offer free storage for up to 30 days, which can be very valuable to you if your new place isn't ready yet. If you think you'll need storage, it may be wise to look for a moving company that offers it for free, rather than hiring a separate moving and storage company, which will likely cost you more money and a bigger headache in the end.</p> <h2>Moving Insurance</h2> <p>Accidents happen, which is why you should be prepared for them. Moving insurance is an absolute necessity. It will provide you with peace of mind, and in the event that the unthinkable happens, you can receive full or partial reimbursement for your damaged or lost items. Just as you wouldn't skimp on health or auto insurance, you shouldn't skimp on moving insurance.</p> <p>Most moving companies will offer some form of general insurance, but this generally tends to be about $0.60 per pound. This means that if you have a 48-inch television that only weighs 25 pounds, if the movers should drop it and you have not paid for additional moving insurance, you would only be entitled to a reimbursement of $15.</p> <p>As another example, the typical two-bedroom home usually weighs in somewhere around 4,500 pounds. Say the truck is completely destroyed (along with all of your property) &mdash; you would only be reimbursed $2,700. Your lifetime of saving and carefully choosing what to spend your money on is only worth $2,700 to the moving company. Unless you think you can refurnish an entire two-bedroom home for $2,700 (along with all of your clothing and personal possessions), you can clearly see the need for supplemental moving insurance.</p> <p>On the plus side, moving insurance is usually very affordable, particularly if you choose a higher deductible. The price will vary depending on how much insurance you need and the declared value of the items you want to insure. In most cases, you need to arrange moving insurance at least 48 hours before your move, so this isn't something you can procrastinate on.</p> <h2>Packing Supplies</h2> <p>More important than the quantity of packing supplies is the <em>quality</em>. The last thing you want to do is save a couple of bucks by buying cheap packing tape only to find that the heavy boxes split open on moving day. Don't skimp on tape or packing material for antiques and particularly valuable items.</p> <p>When it comes to glass, porcelain, or ceramic, packing paper or newspaper should work fine. You can also save some money by placing one foam dinner plate in between two glass plates. This will protect the plates during the move and make it easier for you to unpack.</p> <p>You'll also need things like a marking pen, cushioning material, scissors or a utility knife, and a tape gun, but you shouldn't have to spend a lot on these items. You also shouldn't need to spend much on boxes, if anything at all. You can typically find free boxes at your local grocery store or recycling center. Just make sure the boxes are in good condition and can safely transport your heavy items. The last thing you want is to pack your valuables in an old cardboard box that rips open on moving day or crumbles under the weight of other boxes. The cost to replace these items will likely be much higher than what you would've spent on quality boxes.</p> <h2>Don't Forget Your Tax Deductions</h2> <p>On the plus side, if your move is related to work, you can write off part of the move on your taxes. That means the movers, moving truck and supplies, and other must-have essentials might be deductible at the end of the year. Just make sure your move meets the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc455.html">IRS's time and distance test requirements</a> in order to safely deduct any reasonable moving expenses.</p> <p><em>Do you know of any other overlooked or unnecessary moving costs?</em> <em>Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses">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-save-100s-on-your-next-move">How to Save $100s on Your Next Move</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/heres-how-much-life-in-the-big-city-will-cost-you">Here&#039;s How Much Life in the Big City Will Cost You</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-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company">6 Reasons You Should Always Hire a Moving Company</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/everybodys-wrong-about-how-much-house-you-can-afford">Everybody&#039;s Wrong About How Much House You Can Afford</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-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">Don&#039;t Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Real Estate and Housing expenses insurance movers moving new house packing relocation tax deductions Fri, 17 Jun 2016 09:30:28 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1732051 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Handle a Forced Early Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-handle-a-forced-early-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-handle-a-forced-early-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_taking_notes_73540307.jpg" alt="Woman finding ways to handle early retirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You had a plan: You would work until 67, contributing the maximum amount of each paycheck into your company's 401K plan. You would then <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-plan-for-retirement-when-you-re-ready-to-retire">enjoy a retirement</a> of traveling the world and spending time with your grandchildren.</p> <p>But then your company changed your plans. They let you go you at age 55 or 60. Finding a new job at this age isn't easy. According to an AARP study released in 2015, 45% of job hunters aged 55 or older were members of the long-term unemployed, those who were out of work for 27 weeks or longer. And when these older job seekers did find new jobs, they tended to earn less money. The same AARP survey found that almost 48% of people 55 or older were earning less on their new jobs than they did at their old ones.</p> <p>Those are intimidating numbers. But they don't mean that a forced early exit from the workforce will dash your retirement dreams. Here are five steps that you can take after you've been laid off or fired to make your earlier-than-planned retirement a successful one.</p> <h2>1. Assess Your Financial Reality</h2> <p>It's easy to panic when you've lost a job. But your financial situation might not be as dire as you think. To find out, it's time to perform a quick financial assessment.</p> <p>First, list your monthly expenses. These might be lower if you are no longer paying a mortgage each month. Then list the income you have coming into your household. Maybe your spouse's income means that you can still save enough money each month for a happy retirement. Maybe you'll need an extra income boost from somewhere to still hit those goals.</p> <p>Depending on how close you are to your official retirement age, you might decide to start receiving your monthly Social Security payments. You'll get less each month if you haven't reached full retirement age, but if you can't hold off on the extra monthly income, receiving your benefits a few years early might be a sound move.</p> <p>If you were laid off or fired, you probably qualify, too, for unemployment insurance. Make sure to take advantage of this. That extra monthly income could help you stay on track for your retirement goals.</p> <h2>2. Get Realistic About Your Retirement Goals</h2> <p>You might have to scale back your retirement goals should you be forced to exit the workplace earlier than planned. Maybe you planned to take a long trip every year. If you're forced out of work five years early, you might have to scale that back to just three big trips spread out over your entire retirement.</p> <p>This doesn't mean that your retirement is ruined. But you might have to refocus. Maybe instead of joining that high-priced country club, you'll be taking your golf clubs to public courses throughout your city.</p> <h2>3. Make Sure You Have a Plan for Insurance</h2> <p>You'll need health insurance even after you lose your job. You might qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, though you might not qualify for these government programs depending on your age and income levels.</p> <p>If you need insurance not offered through the government, you can search for a low-cost plan through the insurance exchange created under the Affordable Care Act.</p> <p>Letting your health insurance lapse can be a costly mistake.</p> <h2>4. Find Part-Time Work to Fill in the Income Gaps</h2> <p>If you need some extra income each month, consider taking a part-time job. This work, even if it doesn't come with the benefits of a traditional full-time job, could provide you with the extra bit of cash that will keep your retirement dreams alive.</p> <p>Depending on your field, you might find a part-time job as a consultant. But even if you can't, you can still find enjoyment, and some extra financial security, by taking on a position in a new field.</p> <h2>5. Meet With a Professional</h2> <p>Retirement planning is complicated when everything goes according to plan. When those plans are suddenly changed? It's even more of a challenge to make sure that you have enough dollars saved for your after-work years.</p> <p>That's why it's important to meet with a financial adviser who can help you determine what financial steps you need to take now. Depending on your income and community, you might even qualify for free financial advice.</p> <p>A financial planner can help you create a new budget and a new financial plan that fits with your new money reality.</p> <p><em>Have you faced early retirement? What steps have you taken?</em></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/5-ways-to-handle-a-forced-early-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/4-moves-that-guarantee-a-great-retirement">4 Moves That Guarantee a Great Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement">10 Signs You Aren&#039;t Saving Enough for Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-couples-are-shortchanging-their-retirement-savings">4 Ways Couples Are Shortchanging Their Retirement Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know">15 Retirement Terms Every New Investor Needs to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-things-to-know-about-your-401k-and-ira-in-2016">5 Important Things to Know About Your 401K and IRA in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k early retirement extra income forced retirement insurance job loss medicaid medicare part-time jobs unemployed Tue, 07 Jun 2016 09:30:33 +0000 Dan Rafter 1725699 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Moves That Guarantee a Great Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/4-moves-that-guarantee-a-great-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-moves-that-guarantee-a-great-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_sun_roadtrip_000087905209.jpg" alt="Couple making moves to guarantee a great retirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Times have changed. Retirement is no exception.</p> <p>Back in 1998, 60.5% of Americans said they were <a href="https://www.ebri.org/pdf/PR1160.Ret-Sat.26Apr16.pdf">very satisfied with their retirement</a> in a study conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Fast forward 14 years later, that percentage dropped to 48.6%. Even worse, the percentage of Americans not satisfied at all with their retirement situation went up from 7.9% to 10.5%.</p> <p>But you can avoid that fate. Here are four ways to turn this period into the best time of your life.</p> <h2>1. Semi-Retire</h2> <p>An old retirement adage goes, &quot;When you retire, think and act as if you were still working; when you're still working, think and act a bit as if you were already retired.&quot; There are three good reasons why this is true.</p> <p>First, putting off retirement may help stave off certain maladies of aging, such as Alzheimer's disease. According to French researchers, there is a correlation between higher retirement age and <a href="http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2013/07/15/putting-off-retirement-may-help-stave-off-alzheimers">lower dementia risk</a>.</p> <p>Second, later retirement allows you to make the most out of your nest egg:</p> <ul> <li>While you can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits at age 62, you can wait until full retirement age to receive <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/delayret.html">delayed retirement credits</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Roll over a former employer's 401K plan after you turn 70 1/2 into another plan with a current employer, and you aren't required to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) starting the second year after the rollover.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>By continuing to work part-time, you can continue to contribute to a Roth IRA (up to $6,500 in 2016) after you reach <a href="http://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/roth-iras">age 70 1/2</a>.</li> </ul> <p>Third, 83% of U.S. retirees cited &quot;<a href="https://www.ebri.org/pdf/briefspdf/EBRI_IB_397_Mar14.RCS.pdf">enjoying working</a>&quot; as a major reason to work for pay after retirement. Among current workers who expect to work in retirement, 79% of them cite &quot;wanting to stay active and involved&quot; as a major reason to work for pay in retirement.</p> <h2>2. Take Advantage of Catch-Up Contributions</h2> <p>Starting age 50, you can make additional contributions on top of the regular limit to eligible plans.</p> <ul> <li>Catch-up contributions of <a href="https://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Retirement-Topics-Catch-Up-Contributions">up to $6,000</a>: 401K (other than a SIMPLE 401K), 403(b), SARSEP, and governmental 457(b).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Catch-up contributions of up to $3,000: SIMPLE IRA and SIMPLE 401K.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Catch-up contributions of up to $1,000: Traditional or Roth IRA.</li> </ul> <p>Let's take a look at the power of catch-up contributions: Let's imagine that you have a 401K and you make $6,000 in catch-up contributions for 15 years. Here is how much more you would have at the end of 15 years, assuming different rates of return, in your 401K:</p> <ul> <li>3% return compounded annually: $113,398.69</li> <li>4% return compounded annually: $122,728.99</li> <li>5% return compounded annually: $132,951.76</li> <li>6% return compounded annually: $144,154.23</li> <li>7% return compounded annually: $156,431.90</li> </ul> <h2>3. Research Adequate Health Coverage and Disability Insurance</h2> <p>Despite the best-laid plans, chances are circumstances will require you to make some changes along the way. Nearly one out of two Americans reported retiring earlier than expected. While some individuals have good reasons, such as accumulating sufficient financial resources or wanting to do something else, many had negative reasons. Of those that retire early, 61% of cited health reasons or disabilities, and 18% cited the need to care for a spouse or family member.</p> <p>This is why getting the right health coverage and disability insurance now for your spouse and yourself is a key way to make retirement enjoyable. Plan ahead so that you don't become part of the 24% of Americans who aren't confident about paying for medical expenses in retirement. Disability insurance is essential for the main breadwinner of the household. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-7-money-moves-now-or-youll-regret-it-in-20-years?ref=seealso">Make These 7 Money Moves Now or You'll Regret It in 20 Years</a>)</p> <p>If you have to retire early due to health problems, the Social Security Administration suggests applying for <a href="http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10035.pdf">Social Security disability benefits</a>, which are full, unreduced retirement benefits.</p> <h2>4. Consider Retiring Abroad</h2> <p>According to a study from a Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 71% of Americans say travel has <a href="http://www.transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/resources/travel-survey/tcrs2013_op_travel_and_aging_executive_summary.pdf">helped them enjoy retired life</a>. That's why one way to turn retirement into the best time of your life is to move abroad. Additionally, living abroad can enable you to reduce your living expenses during retirement, without forsaking quality of life. Several cities around the world offer visa pension programs, such as Malaysia's <em>My Second Home</em> and Panama's &quot;pensionado&quot; program, that offer U.S. retirees generous tax breaks and high-quality medical services at reduced costs. Of course, beautiful locales and ideal weather conditions don't hurt either! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/x-exciting-world-cities-you-can-afford-to-retire-in?ref=seealso">4 Exciting World Cities You Can Afford to Retire In</a>)</p> <p><em>How do you plan turn retirement into the best time of your life?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-moves-that-guarantee-a-great-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/10-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement">10 Signs You Aren&#039;t Saving Enough for Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-warning-signs-youre-sabotaging-your-nest-egg">6 Warning Signs You&#039;re Sabotaging Your Nest Egg</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know">15 Retirement Terms Every New Investor Needs to Know</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-important-things-to-know-about-your-401k-and-ira-in-2016">5 Important Things to Know About Your 401K and IRA in 2016</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-ways-couples-are-shortchanging-their-retirement-savings">4 Ways Couples Are Shortchanging Their Retirement Savings</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k disability golden years healthcare insurance IRA moving abroad nest egg work in retirement Fri, 27 May 2016 10:00:12 +0000 Damian Davila 1717321 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways Having a Paid Off Car Is Surprisingly Great http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-having-a-paid-off-car-is-surprisingly-great <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-having-a-paid-off-car-is-surprisingly-great" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/girl_car_road_trip_000080274673.jpg" alt="Woman learning how a paid off car makes life better" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 2005, I awoke one fine spring morning to the sound of metal crunching. Looking out the window, I saw a box truck mowing down my 1994 Honda Civic, which was parked on the street in front of my house. The driver was a 13-year-old boy who had come across the idling truck and had decided to steal it and go for a joy ride &mdash; which ended with the destruction of my car.</p> <p>It was not a great day.</p> <p>However, as overwhelming as it was for me to watch my car get hit by an uninsured driver, the entire situation was much better than it could have been because of one important fact: My Civic was paid off.</p> <p>As a matter of fact, I have been fortunate enough to never have a car payment in my 21 years of car ownership. While I'm delighted to not have a payment due every month, that's not the only way that having a paid-off car makes my life better. Here are five ways that having a paid-off car will benefit your life:</p> <h2>1. Insurance and Accidents Cost You Less</h2> <p>At the time of its sad demise, my Honda Civic was an 11-year-old car with 120,000 miles on it. I carried liability, uninsured motorist, and collision coverage. The first two were required by the state I lived in, and my collision coverage costs were fairly inexpensive because of the relatively low value of my car. The amount of money I was paying for insurance was a great deal lower than that of a classmate whose car was also totaled by another driver around the same time.</p> <p>The difference was that my classmate was driving a new car with a hefty car payment, so she had to have an expensive comprehensive insurance policy to match.</p> <p>What's more, I felt like I was made whole by my cheaper insurance, while my classmate was not. After my car was totaled, I got a check from my insurance company for the value of the car minus my $500 deductible, which I used to buy another used car. My friend was forced to take on another loan with a monthly payment that was $30 higher than the one she had before the accident.</p> <h2>2. Having a Paid-Off Car Means Potentially Never Paying Interest Again</h2> <p>One of the smartest things my husband and I have ever done was starting a &quot;car fund&quot; savings account. Each month, we set aside $350 into the account so that we have money available to either fix our cars if they need maintenance or repair, or to pay cash for a new one if our vehicles ends up going to the big garage in the sky. We pay ourselves the equivalent of a car payment each month so we never have to pay interest on our cars &mdash; and we earn some interest on the money we've saved, too.</p> <h2>3. Financial Ups and Downs Are Less Stressful</h2> <p>Making a monthly car payment is no biggie when your job feels secure. But if you are still making monthly payments on your car when you lose your job, receive an unexpected bill, or otherwise see your personal finances go south, then that monthly payment can feel more like an albatross around your neck.</p> <p>This is especially true if you have any reason to fear repossession of your car during your financial turmoil. Owning your car free and clear means that you have one less worry while you are trying to get your financial house back in order. You know that you can still rely on your car to transport you to and from work and your other responsibilities.</p> <h2>4. You Don't Have to Worry About Weird Hits to Your Credit</h2> <p>One of the bizarre aspects of how credit scores are calculated is the fact that paying off a major loan &mdash; such as a car loan &mdash; can have the effect of lowering your credit score. That's because paying off an installment loan raises your utilization ratio. For example, if you have a $12,000 car loan with a $3,000 balance that you pay off all at once, your available credit will drop by $12,000 once the account is closed, even though your debt load will also drop by $3,000.</p> <p>I don't know about you, but that kind of convoluted credit logic makes my head spin. It's a lot simpler to just have a car that's paid off &mdash; and have your credit score based on things like your mortgage or rental history, and your utilities payments.</p> <h2>5. It's Better for the Environment</h2> <p>Wanting to avoid ever having a car payment means that I strive to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cars-you-can-drive-almost-forever" target="_blank">take great care of my cars</a>. My current vehicle is a 14-year-old Honda Accord that could probably last another 14 years if I am diligent about maintenance.</p> <p>While it's possible that car manufacturers will figure out a way for all new cars to get 50 miles per gallon before the year 2030, keeping my current car on the road for as long as possible will be better for the environment than trading it in for a more efficient one. That's because the environmental impact of manufacturing a new car and disposing of a used one offsets a great deal of the fuel efficiency I might gain by buying a new car.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>Having a paid off car offers a great deal of freedom and peace of mind, whether your car provides you with years of faithful service, or it's totaled in an unfortunate joy-riding incident.</p> <p><em>Is your car paid off? What's great about it?</em></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/5-ways-having-a-paid-off-car-is-surprisingly-great">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-buy-a-car">6 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Buy a Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-insurance-agents-dont-want-you-to-know">14 Things Insurance Agents Don&#039;t Want You to Know</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/drive-the-old-car-or-buy-a-new-car">Drive the Old Car or Buy a New Car?</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/can-t-afford-your-car-much-longer-negotiate-to-keep-it">Can’t Afford Your Car Much Longer? Negotiate to Keep It</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-great-retail-jobs-for-working-parents">5 Great Retail Jobs for Working Parents</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation accidents car loans credit score green living insurance interest payments owning your car Fri, 13 May 2016 09:30:23 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1707446 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Unexpected Ways a Credit Card Can Save You Money on Travel http://www.wisebread.com/8-unexpected-ways-a-credit-card-can-save-you-money-on-travel <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-unexpected-ways-a-credit-card-can-save-you-money-on-travel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_travel_credit_card_000076858727.jpg" alt="Woman finding ways credit cards can save her on travel" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are plenty of obvious reasons to use a credit card while traveling. For example, it's easier than carrying a lot of cash, and if it gets lost or stolen, you can call your credit card company and you won't be held responsible for fraudulent charges. But did you know that using a credit card actually saves you money on your travels? Here are eight ways that credit cards can save you money on your next trip.</p> <h2>1. Rewards Points</h2> <p>Surely the most obvious way that credit cards can put more funds in your travel piggy bank is earning rewards points. It might seem overwhelming to dive into the world of credit card rewards, but it doesn't have to be.</p> <p>To start out, simply apply for three of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">best travel credit cards</a> for you. Chose two based on a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards">good sign up bonus</a> so that you can get a head start on your points, and one based on a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards">good percentage of cashback</a> return.</p> <p>Make sure you spend the minimum amount on each card in the first three months to ensure you get your sign-up bonus. Then continue to use the best cards based on their highest earning potential. For example, if one of them offers 3% <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries">cash back on groceries</a>, always use that one at the supermarket. If one offers a high percentage on gas, use that at the pump.</p> <p>If you have a hard time keeping track, you can always put a sticky note on each card. After a while, you won't need the notes anymore.</p> <h2>2. Rental Car Insurance</h2> <p>This is a really easy way to save a few bucks a day on your rental car. All major credit card providers offer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-does-car-rental-insurance-really-cover-on-your-credit-card">good insurance coverage on rentals</a> if you put the full cost of the rental car on your card (obligatory with most rental companies).</p> <p>Don't pay extra for the damage collision waiver or for extended coverage if your credit card includes it! Many people who don't know about their credit card's coverage buy a ton of extra insurance through the rental company, not knowing that it's already covered on their card.</p> <h2>3. Travel Insurance</h2> <p>This is another place where so many people waste their money because they don't know that their card has them covered. There are dozens of cards that offer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-exactly-does-travel-accident-insurance-cover-on-credit-cards">complementary travel insurance</a>.</p> <p>Before paying for expensive third-party insurance, call your credit card provider and ask what kind of travel insurance they include in their policy. You may be surprised to find out that they cover you for more than the expensive third-party insurance you've paid for in the past!</p> <p>Stop wasting money on extra insurance. Call your credit card provider before your next trip.</p> <h2>4. Rental Car Discounts</h2> <p>Many credit card providers offer discounts if you book your rental car with their partners. If you can't get a direct deal with the rental car agencies, many issuers have their own travel portal sites that allow their cardholders to book travel with exclusive discounts.</p> <h2>5. Lost Luggage Insurance</h2> <p>As someone who has recently been a victim of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-airline-lost-your-luggage-now-what" target="_blank">lost luggage at an airport</a>, I have to say that this is something you may take for granted, but can save you a lot of money.</p> <p>You may think that when an airline loses your luggage, they'll reimburse you for everything you lost, plus pay you a little extra for your troubles. This simply isn't true with most airlines. While recent laws have been enforced to hold airlines accountable for your belongings, they are still only required to pay you the depreciated value of your used goods.</p> <p>Credit card lost luggage insurance will help to top up the amount that the airline isn't willing to pay and will even give you a small amount to pay for emergency purchases while the airline tries to retrieve your luggage. That way you can at least pick up some warm clothes, extra underwear, and a toothbrush knowing that your credit card insurance is paying for it.</p> <h2>6. Airline Credits</h2> <p>Some credit cards will actually offer to reimburse a certain amount each year for airline fees and in-flight food and entertainment. At a minimum, most <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-co-branded-airline-credit-cards">airline credit cards</a> will offer a discount for in-flight purchases.</p> <h2>7. Baggage Fees</h2> <p>These days, pretty much every airline in North America is charging passengers for their first checked bag. Put an end to this by having the right plastic in your wallet.</p> <p>Again, this is where airline credit cards will come in handy. Most of them will give you a free checked bag, plus for your companions, too. Before you book your flight, make sure you're using the right credit card.</p> <h2>8. Foreign Fees</h2> <p>Most credit cards will charge a 3% foreign transaction fee for using your credit card abroad. This fee cancels out any convenience or advantages of using a credit card abroad. Worse is figuring out whether the exchange rate is going to leave you better off or worse off than the 3% fee.</p> <p>The good news is that there are credit cards that have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/smarter-security-and-no-foreign-transaction-fees-the-best-credit-cards-to-use-while-on-vacation">no foreign transaction fees</a>. Sign up for one and make sure to use that one on your travels.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>If you're a disciplined spender, signing up for numerous travel rewards credit cards and putting all your purchases on plastic can save you a lot of money both at home and on the road. Just make sure that you're careful about how many cards you apply for and how you spend.</p> <p>There's no point in earning points if you are paying 19.99% interest. Be sure to pay off your card each month and abide by the minimum spending for sign-up bonuses and you'll have more money to enjoy (or to save up for your next adventure).</p> <p><em>Have you taken advantage of any of these credit card travel savers?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/goats-on-the-road">Goats on the Road</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-unexpected-ways-a-credit-card-can-save-you-money-on-travel">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-airline-partnerships-can-supercharge-your-travel-rewards">The Secret to Redeeming Travel Rewards with Airline Partners</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-airline-lost-your-luggage-now-what">The Airline Lost Your Luggage. Now What?</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/3-ways-your-bank-account-can-boost-your-travel-rewards">3 Ways Your Bank Account Can Boost Your Travel Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-my-family-scores-free-travel-with-credit-cards">6 Ways My Family Scores Free Travel With Credit Cards</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/are-airline-or-travel-rewards-credit-cards-the-better-deal">Are Airline or Travel Rewards Credit Cards the Better Deal?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Travel airlines foreign transaction fees insurance lost luggage rental cars rewards sign up bonuses Thu, 05 May 2016 10:00:14 +0000 Goats on the Road 1703936 at http://www.wisebread.com The 9 Most Important Lessons I Learned About Money When I Became a Landlord http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-most-important-lessons-i-learned-about-money-when-i-became-a-landlord <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-9-most-important-lessons-i-learned-about-money-when-i-became-a-landlord" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_landlord_apartments_000065988327.jpg" alt="Man learning important lessons about money as a landlord" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With 30 years under my toolbelt as a landlord, I've had my share of lessons learned &mdash; so I thought it was about time I put some of those learnings down on paper. Previously, I've written about key considerations when <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-location-isnt-king-how-to-choose-income-rental-property">shopping for a rental property</a>. Here, I focus on money lessons learned <em>after</em> closing the deal and actually managing the property.</p> <p>The real estate properties that form the basis of my experiences are a two-family property my wife and I have owned and managed for 30 years, and a rental condo we managed for 20 years then sold. Now on to those lessons...</p> <h2>1. Learn to Be Handy</h2> <p>Owning rental properties is all about building &quot;sweat equity.&quot; The less you pay others to do maintenance and make repairs, the more you keep for yourself. But when you make the repairs, <em>do</em> buy items of higher quality that will last longer. Having to return over and over to make the same repair gets old quickly and winds up costing you more in the end.</p> <h2>2. Be Respectful and Responsible</h2> <p>Remember that both landlord and tenant have responsibilities. I try to put my best foot forward with a new tenant by making sure the unit is in excellent move-in condition, and by responding promptly when they reach out to me. More often than not, they return the favor by taking better care of the property. In other words, &quot;What goes around comes around.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Get a Good Lease (From a Lawyer)</h2> <p>Your lease is a legally binding contract. Make sure you read, understand, and agree to every word. Who is responsible for lawn care? Who shovels the snow? Does it require tenants to be responsible for small repairs (say, under $20) and basic maintenance such as replacement of light bulbs? How much notice do tenants need to give you that they are leaving? (I suggest at least one month.)</p> <p>Consider the lease a flexible document that can be improved over time to address lessons learned. For example, we've found a month-to-month lease works better for us than an annual term, because it provides more flexibility for tenant changes.</p> <h2>4. No Pets! No Exceptions</h2> <p>It took a double-whammy for us to learn this lesson. The downstairs unit of our two-family has very nice Andersen casement windows with stained wooden sills. The upstairs has wall-to-wall carpeting to cushion sounds between the floors. Our very first choice of tenants to occupy the downstairs unit had two cats. Even today, if I close my eyes, I can clearly see images of the deep gouges in those (previously) beautiful sills, and the rips in the Anderson screens.</p> <p>Upstairs, the culprit was a dog. He used the carpeting as an opportunity to mark his territory &mdash; and he did a thorough job, extending into the hardwood flooring underneath. After spending thousands of dollars to repair the windows, replace the carpets, and sand and refinish the wood flooring, it has now become very easy to answer the question we've since been asked many times: &quot;Do you allow pets?&quot; Without hesitation, the answer is always the same: &quot;NO!&quot; I take pride in even sticking to my guns when a recent prospect offered to add $300 per month to the rent if we allowed him to keep a pet piglet.</p> <h2>5. Check Tenant References &mdash; And Their Car</h2> <p>Banks and other lenders often use the &quot;5 C's of Credit&quot; to determine whether or not a borrower qualifies for a loan. One of those &quot;C's&quot; is Character. You want to rent to someone of strong character, who is responsible and honest. So ask for and check both employer and personal references. Do Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn searches while you're at it. Look for other clues, as well. For example, when meeting a prospective tenant, I always look at their car to see how clean they keep it on the outside, and how cluttered it is on the inside. Unlike a banker, you're not just lending money; you're lending someone your house.</p> <h2>6. Check Tenant Finances: Trust but Verify!</h2> <p>Another of the &quot;5 C's&quot; is &quot;Capacity.&quot; Capacity answers the question, &quot;Do they have enough income to afford the rent?&quot; As a general rule of thumb, your rent plus utilities should be no more than 30% of your gross monthly income. Ask for their most recent pay stub, and call their employer to verify their employment. It's human nature to want to trust other people, but in this case you need to back it up by verifying.</p> <h2>7. Wait for the Right Tenant</h2> <p>This one falls under the &quot;Pay me now or pay me later&quot; category. I do admit, it's easy to yield to the taunts of the devil on one shoulder (&quot;Live for the moment and take the money now!&quot;) rather than heeding advice from the angel on the other shoulder (&quot;Wait for a better candidate!&quot;). Trust me, it's much more costly &mdash; not just financially, but also in time and aggravation &mdash; to remove a bad tenant than to forego one or two months' rent in order to find a good one. Do yourself a favor and take the advice of your better angels.</p> <h2>8. Get an Umbrella Insurance Policy</h2> <p>Being a landlord elevates your risk of being sued. It only takes one lawsuit &mdash; perhaps involving a tenant falling down stairs or slipping on driveway ice &mdash; and you could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. So take out a general liability, or umbrella, insurance policy. Don't risk getting wiped out. Paying $50 per month for umbrella insurance is a small price in exchange for sleeping soundly at night.</p> <h2>9. Take an Honest Look in the Mirror</h2> <p>Do you have the people skills to deal constructively with tenants? Are you willing to be on call 24/7 to respond to complaints big and small, or to drop everything for the repair of a furnace, toilet, or hot water heater? At times these things are a true test of patience and perseverance.</p> <p>Self-awareness is key. If you have a spouse or partner, and if the demands of property management begin to weigh more and more heavily on either or both or you over time, it could drive a wedge in your relationship. No amount of rental income is worth that price.</p> <p>So, taken as a whole, has our experience been worth the effort? Yes. The two-family has worked out better, and we still have it. It generates a regular monthly stream of positive cash flow (over $1,000 per month after all expenses). Granted, it requires time and attention (isn't everything in life a tradeoff?), but in return we've received the equivalent of a modest monthly pension payment since our early 40s. Not many other investments can do that.</p> <p><em>Do you own rental property? Any of these lessons sound familiar? And if you rent, how's it look from the other side?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/keith-whelan">Keith Whelan</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-most-important-lessons-i-learned-about-money-when-i-became-a-landlord">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/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask">10 Questions Landlords Can&#039;t Ask</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-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing insurance landlords leasing money lessons rental properties Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:00:06 +0000 Keith Whelan 1650518 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways the Sandwich Generation Can Get Ahead http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-the-sandwich-generation-can-get-ahead <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-the-sandwich-generation-can-get-ahead" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_mom_grandmother_000065344773.jpg" alt="Young woman learning how the sandwich generation can get ahead" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Sandwich Generation &mdash; those caught caring for aging parents while still supporting children &mdash; face daunting financial challenges. How can they live up to their responsibilities, while still reaching their own financial goals? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-goals-all-30-somethings-should-have?ref=seealso">10 Money Goals All 30-Somethings Should Have</a>)</p> <h2>1. Set Boundaries</h2> <p>Simultaneously caring for a minor and parent is taxing on your &quot;me time.&quot; All told, 42% of Gen Xers and 33% of Baby Boomers are <a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2013/01/Sandwich_Generation_Report_FINAL_1-29.pdf">living this scenario</a> &mdash; and feeling the squeeze in places other than just their wallets. So, how to make time and energy for oneself when so many others are depending on you?</p> <p>One way is to set boundaries. Maybe you need one or two days away from catering to the needs of others. Set up a schedule with other members of your family so that a spouse or brother or cousin is available to relieve you from in-home care duties on certain days. Perhaps common errands like lawn mowing and grocery shopping are becoming difficult to juggle. If you have a mature and capable child, consider delegating out some of these chores.</p> <p>Setting boundaries might be as simple as carving out a two-hour block each day during which you engage in whatever activities &mdash; napping, exercising, reading &mdash; benefit you. The key, of course, is sticking to it. Honor that time you've created for yourself and know that it's helping not only you, but those who depend on you, too.</p> <h2>2. Consider Long-Term Care Insurance</h2> <p>If you're caring for an ailing parent, you may want to mandate that Mom or Dad invest in long-term care insurance. If they're resistant, explain that it's for you as much as it is for them. After all, you don't want to go bankrupt, and your parent doesn't want that for you either. Long-term care insurance policies reimburse policyholders a daily amount for services to assist with the cost of daily activities such as bathing, dressing, or eating. The cost of a long-term care policy is determined by factors such as how old the policyholder is when he or she buys in, and the predetermined maximum amount that the policy will pay per day.</p> <h2>3. Invite Mom and Dad to Move In</h2> <p>If your parents move in with you, you can all save money in property taxes &mdash; up to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on where you reside. Not to mention, the average annual cost of a <a href="https://www.metlife.com/mmi/research/2012-market-survey-long-term-care-costs.html#keyfindings">private nursing home</a> room is about $91,000, while the the cost of assisted living falls around $43,000.</p> <p>Multigenerational housing eliminates such expenses and grants you the peace of mind that Mom and Dad are being well-cared for by yourself and other members of the family. Establishing a multigenerational household may seem daunting, but don't discount the many social benefits. Your children will have a better shot at developing a meaningful relationship with their grandparents if they're all living under one roof. Same goes for you and your parents.</p> <h2>4. Collect Rent From Grown Kids Who Move Back Home</h2> <p>At one time, it was embarrassing for a young adult to move back in with his or her parents. But today, that simply isn't so. In fact, thanks to The Great Recession, there are so many young adults moving back in with Mom and Dad that the stigma is practically non-existent.</p> <p>Living at home eases the burden of student debt while helping young adults save for their education, a car, and a place of their own. But remember that all of these benefits are still well in play when you charge your son or daughter a fair rent. And you should. Young adults who pay to live at home are more likely to feel motivated to get a good job, establish a career, improve their education, and put their degree to good use. You needn't charge the amount it would cost to rent an apartment in your city or town. A couple hundred dollars a month is typically enough to keep your son or daughter edging to better themselves.</p> <h2>5. Claim a Parent as a Dependent</h2> <p>If you're caring for a parent who has a gross income of no more than $3,950 &mdash; this number excludes Social Security and disability &mdash; you can <a href="http://www.elderlawanswers.com/claiming-a-parent-as-a-dependent-3657">claim them as a dependent</a> when you file your taxes.</p> <h2>6. Write Off Your Parent's Medical Expenses</h2> <p>The IRS understands the strain of paying for a parent's medical tab. If you footed the bill for a parent's medical care, you may be able to <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p502/ar02.html#en_US_2015_publink1000178856">deduct those expenses</a> when you file your taxes. To quality, total medical expenses, including the cost of prescription drugs, hospital care, and doctor's visits, must exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income.</p> <p><em>Are you part of the Sandwich Generation? How are you coping?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-the-sandwich-generation-can-get-ahead">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/does-your-kid-need-an-ira">Does Your Kid Need an IRA?</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-much-should-your-kids-know-about-your-finances">How Much Should Your Kids Know About Your Finances?</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/its-the-21st-century-why-is-your-money-stuck-in-the-20th">It&#039;s the 21st Century — Why Is Your Money Stuck in the 20th?</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-kids-rich-friends-from-ruining-your-budget">How to Keep Your Kid&#039;s Rich Friends From Ruining 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/6-apps-every-dad-needs">6 Apps Every Dad Needs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Lifestyle baby boomers dependents gen x insurance parents sandwich generation taxes Mon, 01 Feb 2016 12:00:03 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1646408 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways the 50% Rule Can Save You Money http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-the-50-rule-can-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-the-50-rule-can-save-you-money" 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_000040930446.jpg" alt="Woman learning ways 50% rule can save her money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The 50% rule is a simple guideline that can help you determine whether it's time to replace an appliance, adjust your budget, and lots more. Here's how it can help you save real money.</p> <h2>1. Appliances</h2> <p>When a household appliance has an issue, it may be difficult to determine whether you should schedule a repair or replace the machine altogether.</p> <p>To easily determine if it's worth keeping, use the 50% rule. If the appliance has used up more than 50% of its useful life and the cost of the repair is more than 50% of the cost of a new appliance, then you should replace it.</p> <p>If you have a warranty on your appliance, find out if any of the repairs are still covered. Most appliance warranties cover labor and parts for one to two years. Some small repairs can also be completed as DIY projects.</p> <p>On the other hand, Consumer Reports recommends that if an item has already <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm">broken down once before</a>, it might make sense just to replace it. Keep in mind that if you decide to keep your original appliance, there will be extra costs like additional maintenance and possibly a &quot;trip charge&quot; from the service contractors you hire.</p> <h3>What You'll Need</h3> <p>You can easily compare the costs of repair versus replacement to determine what's a better value. In order to get the most accurate estimate possible, there are several pieces of information you will need:</p> <ul> <li>The appliance's expected useful life: Knowing how long your appliance is expected to last will help you determine if it's worth keeping. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-long-these-6-appliances-should-last?ref=seealso">This Is How Long These 6 Appliances Should Last</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The original purchase price of the appliance.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The average cost to repair your type of appliance: If your service contractor will offer a free estimate, this will help you make a more informed decision.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The cost of a new appliance.</li> </ul> <h3>Benefits of Replacing</h3> <p>You may also want to consider the benefits of replacing the appliance to a newer, more updated version. These benefits could include:</p> <ul> <li>Improved energy efficiency, which may mean lower electricity bills, lower insurance, or tax deductions.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>More features that will improve your life.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Less chance of repairs in the near future.</li> </ul> <h2>2. Real Estate</h2> <p>In real estate, the 50% rule states that operating expenses and vacancy account for about 50% of the rent. This means that if a property rents for $1,000 per month, about $500 will be spent on expenses and vacancies. The remaining 50% would be devoted towards mortgage principal and interest, with the leftovers serving as cash flow.</p> <p>This can serve as a general guideline to help you determine if a particular real estate investment will be worth it in the long run. If you are considering a long term buy and hold, then the 50% rule can help save you money by preventing any purchases that won't pay off.</p> <h2>3. Insurance Claims and Disaster Recovery</h2> <p>After a natural disaster, if the damages do not exceed 50% of the cost of replacing the building, then it will be deemed repairable. The Federal Emergency Management Agency <a href="https://www.fema.gov/pdf/floodplain/nfip_sg_unit_8.pdf">uses a 50% rule</a> to determine if something is considered to have heavy damage or needs substantial improvement. The rule states that if the repair costs are 50% or more of the building's value, then the building must be elevated and brought into compliance.</p> <p>Another application of the 50% rule states that when a building is to be renovated, if the total costs of improvement are 50% or more of the building's value, it will have to be brought into compliance. This is a hidden cost that most don't know about. Being aware of what's to come can help save you time, money, and frustration.</p> <h2>4. Budget</h2> <p>If you've heard of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-better-budget-in-5-minutes-flat">50/20/30 budget</a>, it relies on the 50% rule. It specifies that 50% of your budget should be dedicated to essential expenses (like housing, food, and transportation), 20% to financial obligations (like debt repayment, retirement, and emergency savings), and 30% to personal expenses (like entertainment, dining out, and phone, cable, and Internet expenses). By following this guideline, you can create a workable budget that alerts you when you are spending too much, saving you money over time.</p> <p>Keep in mind that the 50% rule is a <em>guideline</em> and won't always work perfectly. It's best to make adjustments to the numbers so that you can get a better estimate and make a more informed decision.</p> <p><em>Have you ever applied the 50% rule to your life? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-the-50-rule-can-save-you-money">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/4-ways-millennials-are-changing-marriage">4 Ways Millennials Are Changing Marriage</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-apps-that-make-budgeting-fun-no-really">7 Apps That Make Budgeting Fun — No Really!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master">11 Budgeting Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-simple-journal-may-be-the-fix-for-your-finances">This Simple Journal May be the Fix for Your Finances</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/heres-what-i-learned-about-money-after-using-acorns">Here&#039;s What I Learned About Money After Using Acorns</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting 50% rule appliances guidelines insurance real estate saving money Fri, 29 Jan 2016 12:00:04 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1646405 at http://www.wisebread.com