savings http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/387/all en-US 10 Ways to Tidy Up Your Finances Before the Holidays http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-tidy-up-your-finances-before-the-holidays <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-tidy-up-your-finances-before-the-holidays" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_young_woman_depositing_money_into_her_piggy_bank.jpg" alt="Happy young woman depositing money into her piggy bank" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Summer is over. This fall, fortify your finances to take the end of the year in stride. These helpful tips will get you back on track (and help you stay on track) budget-wise.</p> <h2>1. Start your holiday shopping now</h2> <p>Instead of making a mad rush for last-minute deals, spread out your gift buying over the course of the next couple months. Watch your local circulars and emails for discounts and promo codes, and strike while the proverbial iron seems hot.</p> <p>For instance, I just purchased several packs of Calvin Klein undies as a Christmas gift for my boo because I received an email for 25 percent off, plus I had an additional 15 percent off coupon with free shipping. Will there be steeper discounts in the near future? I can't be sure, but I had enough savings stacked up to feel like I made a smart choice, and now I can check one more gift off my list.</p> <h2>2. Max out retirement plan contributions</h2> <p>If you haven't already &mdash; and your budget can tolerate it &mdash; try to max out your 401(k) and 403(b) contributions at work. The employee contribution limit for 2017 is $18,000, and if you haven't reached that, it's time to come as close as you can. Those over age 50 can contribute an additional $6,000 as a catch-up contribution. If your employer offers matching funds, this should be a top financial priority, lest you fail to claim thousands of dollars in free money.</p> <h2>3. Take advantage of layaway</h2> <p>Layaway has had its up and downs over the years. What was once a common practice during the Great Depression started to fall out of favor by the 1980s thanks to the rising popularity of credit cards. Walmart all but left the service for dead in 2006 when it announced it would stop offering it, but by 2012, many retailers were back on the layaway bandwagon to make buying easier on customers in a tumultuous economy. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-layaway-still-worth-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Is Layaway Still Worth It?</a>)</p> <p>Personally, I loved layaway in my early 20s when I was on a shoestring budget. It allowed me to plan ahead and make scheduled payments so everything would be ready to go by Christmas. It's certainly a helpful buying tactic to look into if your finances are tight but you still want to participate in gift giving.</p> <h2>3. Use or lose flexible spending dollars</h2> <p>If you're lucky enough to have a flexible spending account through your employer, your FSA may need to be spent by year's end. Try to use up the balance so you're not losing cash. In doing so, you'll free up funds elsewhere that you don't have to use on medical needs.</p> <p>&quot;Since 2013, your employer may offer one of two carry-over options,&quot; says Ryan McPherson, founder of the financial planning firm Intelligent Worth in Atlanta, Georgia. &quot;One &mdash; roll up to $500 of unused funds into the following year or two, offer a two-and-a-half month grace period during which you may use your unspent FSA balance. Check with your employer, because offering one of these options is not a requirement. If you don't have either of these carry-over options and expect to have money left in your FSA, try to move appointments and medical/dental-related purchases (i.e., eye glasses or contacts) into 2017.&quot;</p> <p>If you're unsure where your FSA funds apply, IRS publication 502 offers guidance on what counts as a &quot;<a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-prior/p502--2016.pdf" target="_blank">qualified medical expense</a>.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways to Spend Your Last-Minute Health Care FSA Funds</a>)</p> <h2>4. Make a gift list and check it twice</h2> <p>I use to get in this mindset &mdash; especially when I started making a little more money &mdash; that everybody needed a gift. That logic is false. Everybody doesn't need a gift for the sake of giving them a gift. Now, I make a list of the usual suspects with whom I exchange &mdash; immediate family, boyfriend, a few friends &mdash; but even then I give it a second glance to see where I can make cuts. Will I see this aunt or that buddy this year? If the answer is no, decide whether a gift is necessary at all to put some more money back in your pocket. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-gifts-that-wont-become-clutter?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Gifts That Won't Become Clutter</a>)</p> <h2>5. Revise your winter budget</h2> <p>Everything about winter costs more than other times of the year, and you should prepare by revising your budget to make sure all bases are covered.</p> <p>&quot;In addition to holiday expenses, as the weather gets colder, heating costs also increase,&quot; says Roslyn Lash, an accredited financial counselor. &quot;It's imperative that you also set some money aside for inclement weather expenses. Unfortunately, when ice/snow is the forecast, schools typically close, and this could mean paying someone to baby-sit the kiddos. It could also prevent you from going to work, which means lost revenue.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-big-winter-expenses-that-could-freeze-your-budget?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Big Winter Expenses That Could Freeze Your Budget</a>)</p> <h2>6. Determine what's necessary for the holidays and cut back from there</h2> <p>I love all things holiday &mdash; the decorations, the parties, the gifts, the endless array of baked goods &mdash; and if I'm not participating in someone else's festivities, I'm hosting my own. Of course that can get expensive, so I take a one-year-on, one-year-off approach to the latter part of that equation. Two years ago I hosted a holiday party in my home, but last year I didn't. I bought more holiday decorations for the house last year, but this year I won't. This practice not only helps me save money, but it also lets me cycle through things that I need to get rid of in a timely manner (like half-full bottles of liquor, for instance) and cut down on overall holiday clutter. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-common-holiday-budget-pitfalls?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Avoid These 5 Common Holiday Budget Pitfalls</a>)</p> <h2>7. Get into a cash back state of mind</h2> <p>Upfront coupons and savings are great, but there's plenty more to be had on the back end if you know where to look. Apps like <a href="https://ibotta.com/r/jcsgjbv" target="_blank">Ibotta</a> and Fetch Rewards provide cash back on purchases made on preset items or at selected retailers. Last month I scored more than $50 cash back (which was on top of other savings I received on the front end) by shopping through Ibotta.</p> <p>If you're responsible at managing credit, now's also a great time to take advantage of a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">cash back credit card</a> on your day to day purchases. By using a cash back card on necessities like groceries or gas, you'll earn cash to bolster your budget. Just be sure to pay off your balance in full every month, or else this method isn't worth it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-your-credit-card-will-save-you-money-while-holiday-shopping?ref=seealso" target="_blank">11 Ways Your Credit Card Will Save You Money While Holiday Shopping</a>)</p> <h2>8. Rebid your insurance policies</h2> <p>You may be able to shave some money off your bills this fall by reviewing your insurance coverage.</p> <p>Michael Landsberg, CFP and founder of Landsberg Bennett Private Wealth Management in Punta Gorda, Florida, recommends rebidding your auto and home insurance policies to at least three independent agents (but not the online ones that are all owned by the same companies).</p> <p>&quot;Often times, this rebidding process puts hundreds if not thousands back in people's pockets right before the holidays,&quot; he explains. &quot;It's very easy. Just take your current policy declaration page and send that to an independent agent and let them do the work. The worst that can happen is you find out you've got a good program in place already.&quot;</p> <h2>9. Book travel before demand pricing kicks in</h2> <p>If you're traveling this fall or holiday season, book your mode of transportation and accommodations as soon as possible so you're not looking at ultra expensive rates at the last minute. Hotels and rental cars in particular go fast, and they're subject to on-demand pricing, which means your wallet could end up getting walloped if you're not shut out altogether. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-these-9-things-now-to-make-holiday-air-travel-easier?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Do These 9 Things Now to Make Holiday Air Travel Easier</a>)</p> <h2>10. Investigate a balance transfer</h2> <p>If you're carrying a high balance on a credit card, now is a great time to give yourself a credit card checkup.</p> <p>&quot;Explore what's out there,&quot; advises Han Chang, co-founder of InvestmentZen. &quot;Many lenders are beginning to offer deals now to get a jump on the holidays. Consolidating credit card debt via a balance transfer can be pretty enticing, especially with those 0 percent introductory APR offers, which usually last for six to 12 months. If you can find a good offer, you could potentially pay down a significant amount of debt before November and December.&quot;</p> <p>But nothing is ever free; offers like this often come with a one-time balance transfer fee ranging from 3 percent to 10 percent of the total balance transfer. That can really add up and, if you're not careful, completely negate any savings that 0 percent APR offers. Be sure to make your payments on time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-balance-transfer-offer-a-good-deal?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Is a Balance Transfer Offer a Good Deal?</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F10-ways-to-tidy-up-your-finances-before-the-holidays&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F10%2520Ways%2520to%2520Tidy%2520Up%2520Your%2520Finances%2520Before%2520the%2520Holidays.jpg&amp;description=10%20Ways%20to%20Tidy%20Up%20Your%20Finances%20Before%20the%20Holidays"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/10%20Ways%20to%20Tidy%20Up%20Your%20Finances%20Before%20the%20Holidays.jpg" alt="10 Ways to Tidy Up Your Finances Before the Holidays" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-tidy-up-your-finances-before-the-holidays">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-money-goals-you-should-set-for-the-holidays">10 Money Goals You Should Set for the Holidays</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/9-smart-reasons-to-last-minute-holiday-shop">9 Smart Reasons to Last-Minute Holiday Shop</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-ways-to-prepare-for-your-best-black-friday">11 Ways to Prepare for Your Best Black Friday</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-debt-free-holiday-season">8 Secrets to a Debt-Free Holiday Season</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/teach-your-kids-about-money-with-their-holiday-gift-lists">Teach Your Kids About Money With Their Holiday Gift Lists</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living balance transfer budgeting cash back checkup Christmas gifts Holidays layaway planning savings shopping winter Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:30:12 +0000 Mikey Rox 2030770 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Money Moves Every New College Student Should Make http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cute_college_student_walking_around_campus_on_sunny_day.jpg" alt="Cute college student walking around campus on sunny day" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>College is about more than just getting a degree. For many new college students, starting this phase of education is also a time to learn any number of important life skills, from proper laundry care to time management.</p> <p>However, many college students often overlook one important life skill: money management. As a college student, you might assume that money management isn't important, since you've got so little money to manage.</p> <p>Unfortunately, neglecting your money skills in college could have lasting negative repercussions throughout your adult life. Rather than assuming you'll sort out the money stuff &quot;later,&quot; get off on the right financial foot by following these money moves when you start your college career.</p> <h2>1. Open a student checking account</h2> <p>Your brand-new university ID makes you eligible for student checking accounts. This gives you a good home for your money while you're in school, and helps you develop good banking habits.</p> <p>Student checking accounts often have low or no minimum opening deposits, and they also generally do not require you to carry a minimum balance each month. In addition, some student accounts offer perks like a limited number of free out-of-network ATM transactions per month, free checks, and some overdraft forgiveness.</p> <h2>2. Start automating your bills</h2> <p>Once you have a checking account in place, you can take advantage of your bank's online bill paying services to set up automatic payments of your regular expenses. Automatic bill payment allows you to keep your focus on your studies, where it belongs.</p> <p>Of course, the caveat is that you need to periodically make sure your account has enough money to cover your automatically paid bills. One good way to do this is to set up a weekly reminder to check your finances. This will help you establish the habit of keeping an eye on your finances even as they are taken care of automatically.</p> <h2>3. Create a spending plan for your financial aid</h2> <p>Receiving a big chunk of money from your university's financial aid office can be pretty exciting &mdash; whether you're receiving loans you'll have to pay back, or grants that you won't. It's tempting to live it up when you receive your financial aid, but that's a good way to run out of money before the semester is over.</p> <p>Instead, take the time to create a spending plan for your financial aid disbursement before the money hits your bank account. Determine how much of your financial aid will need to go toward tuition, textbooks, lab fees, and living expenses. Having such a plan in place will help you keep your spending in check when you feel the urge to splurge some of your aid money.</p> <h2>5. Keep track of your student loans</h2> <p>Many college students &mdash; including yours truly! &mdash; make the mistake of paying no attention to their student loans until they have graduated. In general, the amount of money you are borrowing can seem unreal, so it's very easy to just ignore the problem until you reach your student loan exit interview just before graduation.</p> <p>However, knowing early how much you owe and how much it will cost you to pay it off is both good for your financial health and can help you remain motivated in your studies. It's much easier to get up for that 8 a.m. chemistry lab when you understand just how much you're paying for the privilege of going to it.</p> <p>If you have federal student loans, you can keep track of how much you have borrowed and what your repayment options will be through the <a href="https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/" target="_blank">National Student Loan Data System</a>. Just select &quot;Financial Aid Review,&quot; log in, and you can view all of your federal student loans in one place. If you have any private student loans, you will need to contact your lender for information regarding your loans.</p> <h2>6. Build up an emergency fund</h2> <p>When I was in college, a classmate's financial aid package was re-evaluated at the end of her first year. The school's financial aid office decided that she could count on an additional $1,500 from her family for her second year, even though she knew that it would be impossible to ask for that additional money. By working some serious overtime that summer and living off tuna fish and ramen, my classmate was able to scrape together the additional money. But this situation could have potentially meant the difference between her returning to school and her dropping out.</p> <p>An emergency fund can make this kind of unanticipated financial change much less stressful than it was for my classmate, especially when you are already living on a shoestring.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund" target="_blank">Building an emergency fund</a> might feel impossible when you're in college, but don't forget that small amounts can add up to something really helpful. Start with an automatic transfer of $5 &mdash;$10 per week into a savings account. Add in whatever excess money you come across &mdash; including the cash you get for selling back textbooks or some of the birthday money Nana sends every year.</p> <p>Though your fund will grow slowly, working steadily on it will ensure that a financial aid (or other emergency) does not jeopardize your education.</p> <h2>7. Learn from your financial fumbles</h2> <p>Every time you make a financial decision as a college student, you have the opportunity to learn from your choices. The trick to learning from financial mistakes rather than repeating them, is to look back on the choices you made with curiosity and compassion for yourself. You're a college student, after all, and learning is the entire job description.</p> <p>Take each moment of money regret as an opportunity to figure out where your financial weaknesses are. You'll finish college with a much better understand of yourself and your money temptations, as well as potential solutions for avoiding those temptations.</p> <h2>Learn about finances before you enter the real world</h2> <p>It may feel like adding financial responsibility on top of your educational requirements will be too much to handle, but college is actually a great time to work on your money management skills. Taking good care of your finances as you are engaging in higher learning sets you up for financial success after graduation.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F7-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F7%2520Money%2520Moves%2520Every%2520New%2520College%2520Student%2520Should%2520Make.jpg&amp;description=7%20Money%20Moves%20Every%20New%20College%20Student%20Should%20Make"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/7%20Money%20Moves%20Every%20New%20College%20Student%20Should%20Make.jpg" alt="7 Money Moves Every New College Student Should Make" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Graduate</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/css-is-one-source-of-college-financial-aid-you-cant-afford-to-overlook">CSS Is One Source of College Financial Aid You Can&#039;t Afford to Overlook</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-things-financial-aid-might-not-cover">6 Things Financial Aid Might Not Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-most-common-financial-aid-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them">The 10 Most Common Financial Aid Mistakes — And How To Avoid Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-every-parent-should-know-about-the-new-college-financial-aid-rules">What Every Parent Should Know About the New College Financial Aid Rules</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training automatic payments bills checking accounts college emergency funds financial aid money moves savings student loans students Tue, 29 Aug 2017 09:00:05 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2009181 at http://www.wisebread.com Build a Secure Future Starting With Your Next Paycheck http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-secure-future-starting-with-your-next-paycheck <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/build-a-secure-future-starting-with-your-next-paycheck" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/check_remote_deposit_capture_at_cafe.jpg" alt="Check Remote Deposit Capture at Cafe" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've been putting off the inevitable with your money &mdash; finally getting your finances in order &mdash; now's your chance. Take advantage of that next paycheck coming in, and make these smart money moves.</p> <h2>1. Increase your savings and debt repayment, even by a little</h2> <p>Ideally you've been portioning out your paychecks to cover your monthly expenses, throw a little into savings, and pay down whatever consumer debt you've racked up. On your next payday, it's a smart move to increase (even by a small amount) the percentage you allocate toward savings and debt repayment. Every little bit will help provide you with more of a rainy-day cushion and chip away at nagging debt.</p> <p>If you have credit card debt, focus on your highest-interest card first, and go from there. This strategy, also known as the avalanche method, will save you the most money in the long run on interest payments. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Method to Eliminate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>You may have to cut a discretionary item from your budget &mdash; like a night out with your pals &mdash; to afford this responsible increase. You're an adult, and it's time to start managing your money like one.</p> <h2>2. Investigate your life insurance options</h2> <p>There are plenty of cases to make for taking out a life insurance policy, but the most important one is so your spouse and children can get through the first few years after your untimely death. This is not a fun subject to think about, but it's a necessity. If you should suddenly pass away, you will want to leave your family as well taken care of as possible.</p> <p>If you're single without a mortgage, life insurance probably doesn't need to be a priority when you can put your money somewhere more useful &mdash; like a 401(k). But heads of households absolutely need to have this money move on their radar, if not at the top of their list. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-life-insurance-isnt-just-for-old-people?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Reasons Why Life Insurance Isn't Just for Old People</a>)</p> <h2>3. Set up new accounts for automated savings</h2> <p>In all likelihood, you have a single savings account &mdash; but if you have a hard time managing your money, perhaps one isn't enough. In fact, Kevin, creator of Financial Panther, goes so far as to suggest multiple accounts to which you can automate your savings. By putting this concept into practice, he was able to pay off $87,000 of student loan debt in two and a half years.</p> <p>&quot;If people have a matching 401(k) for work, they should try to put as much as they can into that right off the bat, and try to increase it little by little each paycheck,&quot; Kevin says. &quot;From there, I like to set up multiple accounts where I can send my money to. I have accounts for short-term savings goals, long-term, and a Roth IRA, which I contribute money to since I max out my 401(k) each year. I also have micro-savings apps working for me, which take out extra money from my checking account based on algorithms they have &hellip; and stores that money in a separate account.&quot;</p> <p>The money Kevin is left with is what he considers his &quot;true&quot; income. His multiple savings account method creates barriers for him to access his money, in turn making it harder to spend on frivolous things. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-savings-faster-with-a-multiple-account-strategy?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Build Savings Faster With a Multiple Account Strategy</a>)</p> <h2>4. Invest in self-improvement</h2> <p>Fact: You can earn more money in your career when you have more relevant skills. Thus, investing in yourself is just as important as saving or paying off debt. The return on investment can be exponential if what you're learning is valuable and you put it to work for you. This can be as simple as brushing up on networking, or taking continuing education courses at your local community college. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-a-professional-association-can-boost-your-career?ref=seealso" target="_blank">11 Ways a Professional Association Can Boost Your Career</a>)</p> <h2>5. Get that emergency fund back on track</h2> <p>Maybe you've recently had a crisis and you needed to pull money from your emergency fund. Or, maybe you've just had more important and costly bills to pay in the meantime that have disrupted your savings. Whatever the case, start building this fund again, even if it's just small contributions here and there. You owe it to yourself to be prepared for the unexpected, and you don't want to have to reach for a high-interest credit card to bail yourself out of a problem. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Fast Ways to Restock an Emergency Fund After an Emergency</a>)</p> <h2>6. Switch banks if yours isn't the best place for your money</h2> <p>One of the worst financial habits is sticking with the same bank, even if it's not the best choice for your money. If you've been contemplating switching institutions recently, use your next paycheck to give the move serious thought. Maybe your savings can earn more elsewhere, and if you're lucky, you can find a high-yield checking account and other incentives &mdash; like a couple hundred dollars in free money &mdash; just for making the move. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-switch-banks?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Switch Banks</a>)</p> <h2>7. Make a move to get ahead</h2> <p>If you're lamenting on a regular basis that you never have enough money for this or that, sit down next payday and consider your options. How can you increase your income? How can you bump up your savings and retirement contributions? If this isn't possible with your current take-home pay, it's probably time to weigh your options.</p> <p>Should you start looking for a new, higher-paying job? Should you go back to school to learn a new skill? Do you have time to add a side-gig to your schedule, like driving for Uber or Lyft, or pet sitting via Rover.com? These are all options you have; you just have to want them bad enough. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-best-side-jobs-for-fast-cash?ref=seealso" target="_blank">14 Best Side Jobs for Fast Cash</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fbuild-a-secure-future-starting-with-your-next-paycheck&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FBuild%2520a%2520Secure%2520Future%2520Starting%2520With%2520Your%2520Next%2520Paycheck.jpg&amp;description=Build%20a%20Secure%20Future%20Starting%20With%20Your%20Next%20Paycheck"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Build%20a%20Secure%20Future%20Starting%20With%20Your%20Next%20Paycheck.jpg" alt="Build a Secure Future Starting With Your Next Paycheck" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-secure-future-starting-with-your-next-paycheck">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/7-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make">7 Money Moves Every New College Student Should Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-putting-off-these-9-adult-money-moves">Are You Putting Off These 9 Adult Money Moves?</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/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt</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-escape-the-paycheck-to-paycheck-cycle">How to Escape the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle</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/money-a-mess-try-this-personal-finance-starter-kit">Money a Mess? Try This Personal Finance Starter Kit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance banking debt repayment emergency fund life insurance money moves paycheck payday savings self improvement Mon, 21 Aug 2017 08:00:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 2005635 at http://www.wisebread.com The Pros and Cons of Keeping All Your Accounts in One Bank http://www.wisebread.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-keeping-all-your-accounts-in-one-bank <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-pros-and-cons-of-keeping-all-your-accounts-in-one-bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/banking_business_account_finance_economy_concept.jpg" alt="Banking Business Account Finance Economy Concept" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Checking, savings, business, CD, money market, cash reserve, investment &mdash; with so many accounts available to U.S. consumers, should you keep them with a single financial institution? Let's review the pros and cons of keeping all your accounts in one place.</p> <h2>Pros of keeping all your accounts in one place</h2> <p>Here are some reasons why it makes sense to consolidate your accounts.</p> <h3>1. FDIC covers up to $250,000 for each eligible account</h3> <p>The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provides coverage of <a href="https://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/faq.html" target="_blank">up to $250,000</a> per eligible account at the same insured financial institution. Covered accounts include checking and savings accounts, money market deposit accounts (MMDAs), and certificates of deposit (CDs).</p> <p>So, as long as each one of your qualifying accounts has a balance under $250,000, it's OK to keep those accounts together at the same financial institution. For example, if you were to have $100,000 each in a CD, checking account, and savings account at the same FDIC-covered bank, you would still be insured. Even though the accounts together equal $300,000, each account has less than $250,000, and the coverage would still apply.</p> <p>To find out if your deposits are insured by the FDIC, use the FDIC's <a href="http://www5.fdic.gov/edie/" target="_blank">Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator</a> (EDIE).</p> <p>When you add accounts to your portfolio with the same bank, just remember that the FDIC warns consumers that non-deposit investment products, such as mutual funds, annuities, life insurance policies, and stocks and bonds are not insured by the FDIC.</p> <p>Are you a credit union member?</p> <ul> <li> <p>Federally chartered credit unions and those with headquarters in Arkansas, Delaware, South Dakota, Wyoming, or the District of Columbia are insured by up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).</p> </li> <li> <p>State-chartered credit unions may be covered by a state-sponsored or private insurance, so contact your credit union representative for more details about potential insurance of deposits.</p> </li> </ul> <h3>2. Quicker coverage of bounced checks</h3> <p>Having more than one account at the same bank may help you to quickly cover a check or automatic debit or credit transaction with insufficient funds.</p> <p>Some banks may give you a quick heads up early in the morning that an incoming transaction won't clear due to a low balance, giving you time to make a quick deposit. In the event that you have a savings and checking account with the same financial institution, you could quickly cover the cash crunch by transferring funds from the savings to the checking account over the phone or online. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-fix-your-finances-after-missing-a-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Fix Your Finances After Missing a Payment</a>)</p> <p>Doing a quick transaction to cover that mistake could prevent the bank from applying overdraft or insufficient funds fees.</p> <h3>3. Access to higher savings interest rates and lower account fees</h3> <p>When you hold a large total of deposits within the same institution, very often you can qualify for better savings rates and reduced account fees. Find out from your financial institution whether or not they offer benefits for consolidating your accounts.</p> <p>Similarly, holding a larger total balance across several investment accounts, such as an IRA or individual investment account, may grant you some breaks on investment fees. Generally, with at least $100,000 in investable assets in the same institution, you should get lower charges on future applicable fees, such as front-end or back-end loads.</p> <p>If you don't meet the necessary thresholds to access better rates and lower fees, ask your financial institution if they'll accept a signed letter of intent to meet those thresholds by a specific date.</p> <h3>4. More personalized service</h3> <p>Maintaining a wide variety of products with the same bank allows the bank to have a better understanding of your financial history, overview of spending habits, and ability to pay back loans. When a financial institution has a more comprehensive view of your finances, then it can help you optimize your finances with more suitable products. For example, keeping several deposit accounts may help you qualify for a personal line of credit with an interest rate lower than that of a credit card.</p> <h2>Cons of keeping all your accounts in one place</h2> <p>Now let's take a look at the disadvantages of consolidating all your accounts under the same roof.</p> <h3>1. Missing out on potentially better deals</h3> <p>By turning your back on other financial institutions, you may develop a case of &quot;financial myopia&quot; in which you don't think about shopping around for better banking options. Sticking to your same brick-and-mortar branch may cause you to miss out on the better annual percentage yield (APY) that online savings accounts often offer.</p> <p>According to the FDIC, as of June 12, 2017, the <a href="https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/resources/rates/" target="_blank">average rate for a deposit account</a> with a balance under $100,000 was 0.06 percent. On the same day, you could find online savings accounts paying a savings rate of up to 1.25 percent for an account of similar size.</p> <h3>2. Potential of losing FDIC coverage</h3> <p>The FDIC coverage limit is $250,000 for each qualifying account. High-earners may run out of options in the same financial institution for opening eligible accounts and risk having a portion of their deposits without FDIC coverage.</p> <h3>3. Higher chance of loss in case of identity theft</h3> <p>Keeping all your eggs in one basket may work against you if a fraudster gets a hold of one of your accounts or cards. Getting access to just one account may grant them access to all of your money! This is particularly true when connecting two or more accounts so that one account covers another when a balance is running too low.</p> <p>If malicious hackers were to get a hold of the password for your bank's online portal, then they would have hit a major jackpot accessing all of your accounts. By spreading your funds across more financial institutions, you lower the chances of a cybercriminal accessing your funds. Of course, this is as long as you don't use the same password for all online portals. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data?ref=seealso" target="_blank">3 Sneaky Ways Identity Thieves Can Access Your Data</a>)</p> <h2>The bottom line: Talk with your banker today</h2> <p>If you're thinking about opening more accounts with your current savings institution, it's a great time to sit with a representative and go over your available options. Armed with that information, you'll be in a better position to shop around for better banking options and make a more informed decision.</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/the-pros-and-cons-of-keeping-all-your-accounts-in-one-bank">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/are-you-paying-these-6-unfair-banking-fees">Are You Paying These 6 Unfair Banking Fees?</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/this-post-really-suk-kuks-examining-islamic-finance">This Post Really Suk-kuks: Examining Islamic Finance</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-times-you-shouldnt-rush-to-pay-off-your-mortgage">5 Times You Shouldn&#039;t Rush to Pay Off Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-types-of-savings-accounts-which-is-right-for-you">The Types of Savings Accounts: Which Is Right For You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-when-bundling-insurance-doesnt-make-sense">4 Times When Bundling Insurance Doesn&#039;t Make Sense</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking accounts CDs checking Comparison shopping FDIC financial institutions investments pros and cons rates savings Fri, 16 Jun 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1963762 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Retirement "Rules of Thumb" That Actually Work http://www.wisebread.com/4-retirement-rules-of-thumb-that-actually-work <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-retirement-rules-of-thumb-that-actually-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-451590917.jpg" alt="Learning retirement rules of thumb that actually work" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Planning for retirement can sometimes feel daunting, but there are ways to temper these worries. Over the years, financial experts have come up with several useful rules of thumb that can help you get your finances organized. To be sure, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to retirement savings, but these strategies are a great place to start.</p> <h2>1. The 50/30/20 rule</h2> <p>You may know Senator Elizabeth Warren for her fiery speeches on and off the floor of the U.S. Senate, but she is also a serial author with 12 books under her belt. Teaming up with her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, Warren provides practical budgeting advice in <a href="http://amzn.to/2pq1gQQ" target="_blank">All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan</a>.</p> <p>The golden nugget from Warren's book is the 50/30/20 rule, which suggests that you split your budget into three buckets:</p> <ul> <li>50 percent to pay for must-haves, including rent or mortgage payments, groceries, and minimum debt payments;</li> <li>30 percent to cover non-essentials, such as going to the movies or on vacation; and</li> <li>20 percent to save for retirement, build an emergency fund, and make additional debt payments.</li> </ul> <p>The 50/30/20 rule has become very popular because it strikes a balance between wants and needs, and provides a simple approach to setting your monthly budget. Assuming a monthly paycheck of $2,800 after taxes, you would allocate $1,400 ($2,800 x 50 percent) to needs, $840 ($2,800 x 30 percent) to wants, and $560 ($2,800 x 20 percent) to debt and/or your retirement fund.</p> <h2>2. At least 10 percent of your income to retirement savings</h2> <p>There's another rule of thumb for how much of your income should go specifically toward retirement. According to many financial advisers, you should contribute <em>at least</em> 10 percent of your paycheck to your 401(k), IRA, or workplace savings plan.</p> <p>Why is 10 percent a rule of thumb? One possible explanation is the ease of calculation: Just take out a zero. With a gross monthly paycheck of $3,500, you know that you have to contribute $350 to your retirement account. Easy!</p> <p>A caveat here is that you should be doing this for as long as you are working, starting as soon as possible. Young retirement savers will benefit the most because of compounding interest. The more that you contribute to your retirement account in your early working years, the more time the funds will have to grow.</p> <h2>3. The 90/10 rule from Warren Buffett</h2> <p>In 2013, legendary investor Warren Buffett revealed that he ordered the trustee of his estate to allocate 90 percent of his cash to a very low-cost S&amp;P 500 index fund, and the remaining 10 percent to short-term government bonds. &quot;I believe the trust's long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors &mdash; whether pension funds, institutions, or individuals &mdash; who employ high-fee managers,&quot; he concluded. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-warren-buffett-says-you-should-invest-in-index-funds?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Warren Buffett Says You Should Invest in Index Funds</a>)</p> <p>This advice didn't go unnoticed by investors. Between 2011 and 2016, investors took $5.6 billion out of actively managed funds, which attempt to beat the market, and dumped $1.7 trillion into passively managed funds, such as index funds. As the name implies, index funds simply aim to generate a return equal to the index they're tracking, such as the S&amp;P 500, after fees.</p> <p>Putting 90 percent of your retirement savings in a low-cost index fund greatly minimizes your investment costs, since the expense ratios (the annual fees charged to shareholders) are much less than for actively managed funds. This means more money is left in your account to grow, and therefore you increase your chance of hitting your savings target. Some equity index funds have annual expense ratios as low as 0.05 percent, and those tracking the S&amp;P 500 had an average annual return of 8.65 percent over the 2007&ndash;2016 period.</p> <p>As you get closer to retirement age, you may want to consult with a financial professional on how to adjust your portfolio allocation according to your changing needs.</p> <h2>4. The 4 percent rule</h2> <p>After testing a variety of retirement withdrawal rates using historical rates of return, financial planner William Bengen determined that four percent was the highest rate that held up over a period of at least 30 years.</p> <p>Here's how it works: Assuming a $600,000 nest egg, you would withdraw $24,000 in your first year of retirement. In the second year, you would withdraw the same amount plus extra to cover inflation. Assuming an annual rate of inflation of 2.5 percent, your second and third withdrawals would be $24,600 and $25,215, respectively.</p> <p>While the four percent rule is not without critics, nor is it the perfect calculation for everyone, it continues to help retirees plan ahead the size of their withdrawals during their retirement years. Just make sure that once you reach age 70 &frac12;, you meet your required minimum distributions (RMDs) set by the IRS. Some years you may have to withdraw a bit extra beyond your planned four percent to avoid the hefty 50 percent tax penalty for failing to take your scheduled RMD.</p> <h2>The bottom line</h2> <p>These four rules of thumb can give you a leg up on your retirement strategy. However, think of them more as guidelines and not so much as commandments. Every financial situation is different, so make the most of the available information and resources through your employer-sponsored retirement plan. Consult a financial adviser whenever necessary. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/who-to-hire-a-financial-planner-or-a-financial-adviser?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Who to Hire: A Financial Planner or a Financial Adviser?</a>)</p> <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-retirement-rules-of-thumb-that-actually-work">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-steps-to-starting-a-retirement-plan-in-your-30s">8 Steps to Starting a Retirement Plan in Your 30s</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/are-you-wasting-68000-on-gas">Are You Wasting $68,000 on Gas?</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/stop-making-these-10-bogus-retirement-savings-excuses">Stop Making These 10 Bogus Retirement Savings Excuses</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/its-so-simple-6-steps-to-a-stable-retirement">It&#039;s So Simple: 6 Steps to a Stable Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 4% rule 50/30/20 rule compound interest drawdown elizabeth warren index funds passively managed funds rules of thumb savings warren buffet Tue, 09 May 2017 09:00:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1941241 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Times When Bundling Insurance Doesn't Make Sense http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-when-bundling-insurance-doesnt-make-sense <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-times-when-bundling-insurance-doesnt-make-sense" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-486437284.jpg" alt="Learning when bundled insurance doesn&#039;t make sense" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Insurance companies offer a host of ways to reduce the premiums you pay for auto, life, home, and health insurance. If you have a clean driving record, you might qualify for a discount on your auto insurance rates. If you install a security system to protect your single-family home, you might have to pay less for your homeowners insurance. And if you don't smoke, you'll certainly pay a lot less for life insurance.</p> <p>One of the most popular ways to qualify for a discount is to bundle different insurance policies together &mdash; say, your homeowners and auto policies &mdash; from the same insurer. Insurers will give you a discount as a reward for buying more than one policy from them.</p> <p>Bundling is popular. A 2016 story by InsuranceQuotes.com cited a U.S. National Auto Insurance study by J.D. Power and Associates saying that 58% of policyholders bundle their homeowners and auto insurance policies. InsuranceQuotes.com also reported that bundling insurance can save policyholders about 10% off their annual rates, if they land the best bundling deals available.</p> <p>But, there is a catch here, and sometimes taking out life, auto, and homeowners policies with different companies makes the most sense. Even though bundling might sound like the obvious choice for consumers hoping to save money on insurance coverage, there are a few times when bundling actually doesn't result in the biggest financial savings.</p> <h2>You Didn't Shop Around</h2> <p>The best way to nab the lowest rates on insurance is to take the time to shop around with different companies. This is far easier today, with insurers providing online quotes to potential customers.</p> <p>It can be tempting to skip the shopping phase if, for example, your auto insurer offers to provide a bundling discount for your homeowners insurance, too. But resist the temptation to take your insurer's offer until you've shopped around. You might find another insurer that will provide you a policy with a premium low enough to outweigh your first insurer's bundling discount. Armed with a lower quote from a competing insurer, you might even be able to convince your current insurance company to provide you an even bigger discount.</p> <h2>You Have a History of Health Problems</h2> <p>You'll pay far less for life insurance coverage if you have a history of good health. If your past is dotted with serious health issues, you can unfortunately expect your life insurance premiums to be higher. This spotty health history might also make it less financially sound to bundle your life insurance coverage with auto or homeowners insurance. Again, it's especially important to shop around with life insurance providers, especially when you have a complicated health history &mdash; including if you smoke or have a chronic condition.</p> <p>It's also worth noting that you may not want something as important as your life insurance coverage bundled through a company that specializes in say, auto insurance. In that case, it may be worth having it be its own separate policy.</p> <h2>Your Driving Record Isn't Exactly Flawless</h2> <p>Claim an accident on your auto insurance, and you can expect your premiums to soar. Again, it makes sense to shop around with different insurers to find the lowest rates when you are stuck with a spotty driving record.</p> <p>If you instead simply bundle your auto policy with the company that provides your homeowners insurance, you might miss out on lower premiums that will outweigh the bundling discount. Do your homework &mdash; even if it takes time &mdash; to discover if there are other insurers out there willing to give you a bigger break for your past driving mistakes.</p> <h2>You Need Specialized Homeowners Coverage</h2> <p>What if you need your homeowners insurance policy to cover an expensive jewelry collection? What if you need to insure solar panels on your home's roof? This coverage can be complicated, and cost more. Again, when you have such specific needs, if often makes more sense to talk to different insurers than blindly accept your provider's bundling offer.</p> <p>The main point here is that often, bundling will save you the most money. But there are exceptions, and you won't know the savings you might enjoy if you don't first shop around with other providers &mdash; even if your current insurer is promising a bundling discount.</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/4-times-when-bundling-insurance-doesnt-make-sense">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/beware-your-insurance-may-not-cover-these-8-losses">Beware: Your Insurance May Not Cover These 8 Losses</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-times-you-shouldnt-file-an-insurance-claim">7 Times You Shouldn&#039;t File an Insurance Claim</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/is-pay-as-you-drive-auto-insurance-worth-it">Is Pay-As-You-Drive Auto Insurance Worth It?</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/when-should-single-people-get-life-insurance">When Should Single People Get Life Insurance?</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-being-a-safe-driver-will-save-you-big-money">4 Ways Being a Safe Driver Will Save You Big Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Insurance auto insurance bundling discounts homeowners insurance life insurance policies rates savings Tue, 14 Mar 2017 10:30:18 +0000 Dan Rafter 1905172 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Reasons to Claim Social Security Before Your Retirement Age http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-to-claim-social-security-before-your-retirement-age <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-reasons-to-claim-social-security-before-your-retirement-age" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-538053186.jpg" alt="Man claiming social security before retirement age" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When it comes to Social Security, the usual advice is to hold off on taking benefits as long as possible. While most people could claim benefits as early as age 62, your monthly benefit amount will grow each year that you wait up to age 70. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-ways-to-boost-your-social-security-payout-before-retirement?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Smart Ways to Boost Your Social Security Payout Before Retirement</a>)</p> <p>However, there are some situations where taking benefits as soon as possible may be the better way to go. Here are three such scenarios.</p> <h2>1. You Need the Money</h2> <p>If you can't find a job, or simply don't have enough savings to live on, claiming Social Security benefits at age 62 may be your only option.</p> <p>Just keep in mind that if you do find a job, there are <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html" target="_blank">limits to how much you can earn</a> without impacting your Social Security benefits. In years when you are younger than your &quot;full retirement age&quot; (65&ndash;67, depending on when you were born), for every $2 you earn above $16,920, your Social Security benefits will be reduced by $1.</p> <h2>2. Longevity Doesn't Run in Your Family</h2> <p>One way to evaluate the impact of claiming Social Security benefits at various ages is to run what's known as a break-even analysis.</p> <p>When you claim as early as possible, your monthly benefit amount will be smaller than it would have been if you claimed later. However, the head start that early claiming provides means that if you claim benefits at a later age, even though the monthly amount is higher, it'll take a number of years before you've broken even with the total amount you would have received by claiming earlier.</p> <p>For example, here's a look at a friend's estimated monthly Social Security benefits and how they vary depending on when he claims benefits:</p> <ul> <li>$1,529 if claimed at age 62</li> <li>$2,273 if claimed at his full retirement age of 67</li> <li>$2,873 if claimed at age 70</li> </ul> <p>If he claims benefits beginning at age 62, by the end of the year that he turns 67, he will have received a total of over $100,000. If he waits until age 67 to begin taking benefits, it will take him until approximately age 78 before his accumulated benefits would overtake the total he would have received if he had started taking benefits at age 62.</p> <p>If he didn't expect to live to age 78, it would make sense to claim benefits earlier. Of course, that's a tough call. Even in families when one or both parents die early, some of their kids live far longer.</p> <p>To find out your own estimated Social Security benefits, create an account on the Social Security Administration's website.</p> <h3>Run Your Own Break-Even Analysis</h3> <p>Unfortunately, there isn't an easy way to run your own break-even analysis. The Social Security Administration used to have a calculator on its site designed for this purpose, but took it down because they felt it was encouraging too many people to claim early.</p> <p>One workaround is to run various scenarios with <a href="https://www.calcxml.com/do/ins07" target="_blank">this calculator</a>. As a starting point, enter your &quot;current age&quot; as 62, enter your estimated age of death in the &quot;retirement age&quot; field, enter the annual age-62 benefit amount in the &quot;your current annual income&quot; field (the SSA website lists benefits in monthly amounts, so be sure to multiply by 12), and then use the &quot;annual salary increase&quot; field to enter an estimated inflation rate (Social Security benefits are adjusted for inflation each year; use a relatively low amount &mdash; somewhere between 1% and 2%).</p> <p>Then run the same analysis, but change your &quot;current age&quot; to your full retirement age and change &quot;your current annual income&quot; to the annual amount of your full retirement age benefit.</p> <h2>3. You Have Plenty of Money Already Saved for Retirement</h2> <p>If you have enough money to live on regardless of your Social Security benefits, that may be another reason to take Social Security benefits as early as possible. You could use the money to invest, buy a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-long-term-care-insurance-worth-it?ref=internal" target="_blank">long-term care insurance policy</a>, or buy a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/term-vs-whole-life-insurance-heres-how-to-choose?ref=internal" target="_blank">life insurance policy</a>.</p> <p>It's true that you should think very carefully before claiming Social Security benefits at age 62. There's a hefty increase in the monthly benefit amount for each year that you wait. And if you're married, keep this in mind: When you die, your spouse will be able to choose to take the higher of their benefit or your benefit. If you had been the higher earner, by waiting as long as possible before claiming your benefit, that will be very helpful to your spouse once you're gone.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-to-claim-social-security-before-your-retirement-age">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-questions-to-ask-before-you-start-claiming-your-social-security-benefits">5 Questions to Ask Before You Start Claiming Your Social Security Benefits</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-ways-to-boost-your-social-security-payout-before-retirement">6 Smart Ways to Boost Your Social Security Payout Before Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/three-of-the-toughest-decisions-youll-face-in-retirement">Three of the Toughest Decisions You&#039;ll Face in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-falling-for-these-6-social-security-myths">Stop Falling for These 6 Social Security Myths</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement benefits full retirement age income longevity savings social security Wed, 01 Mar 2017 10:30:37 +0000 Matt Bell 1898659 at http://www.wisebread.com The Inventor of the 401K Has Second Thoughts About Your Retirement Plan — Now What? http://www.wisebread.com/the-inventor-of-the-401k-has-second-thoughts-about-your-retirement-plan-now-what <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-inventor-of-the-401k-has-second-thoughts-about-your-retirement-plan-now-what" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-171328267.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the early 1980s, the 401K plan was introduced as a potential supplement to the pension plans offered by employers. Now, they are a staple of retirement planning, while pensions are available to fewer workers than ever before.</p> <p>A 401K allows workers to set aside a certain amount of their salary and invest into a variety of mutual funds. Often, companies will match contributions up to a certain amount. These plans can be powerful vehicles for amassing great wealth in retirement, but the founders of these plans recently voiced concerns that the plans are inadequate for many people, and that they were never meant to <em>replace </em>pensions altogether.</p> <p>For sure, 401K plans place more of the savings burden and risk onto the individual than pensions do. And many plans are lousy, with high fees and poor investment choices. So, what to do? Here's how to build that big retirement fund even when you're at the mercy of the 401K.</p> <h2>1. Save Up to the Match, Regardless</h2> <p>You may be annoyed that a 401K is all your employer has to offer, but if the company is offering to match contributions, you'd be a fool not to participate. Even if the plan has lousy mutual funds with high fees, free money is still free money. Most good companies offer at least 50 cents for every dollar you contribute up to a certain amount, and that can add up to a lot of dough over time.</p> <h2>2. Get an IRA</h2> <p>A 401K is not the only vehicle for saving for retirement. Individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, offer some good tax advantages and better flexibility than a 401K. There's no company match for an IRA, but you have the ability to invest in just about anything. That's why many investors will put money in a 401K up to the company match, then put any additional savings in IRAs. Most people can contribute $5,500 annually into an IRA. With a traditional IRA, any money you contribute is deducted from your taxable income. With a Roth IRA, your money is taxed right away but you don't have to pay tax on any gains when you withdraw the money at retirement.</p> <h2>3. Start Early and Have a Long Time Horizon</h2> <p>Despite the flaws of a 401K, it's still very possible to amass a large sum for retirement if you begin investing when you are young and keep it up for a long time. If you enter the workforce when you're 18 and keep saving and investing until retirement age, that means you'll have 45 years to allow your nest egg to grow. In fact, under this scenario, it's possible to retire a millionaire by putting aside less than a few hundred dollars per month.</p> <h2>4. Find the Low-Cost Funds</h2> <p>Even if your 401K plan isn't perfect, you owe it to yourself not to make matters worse by investing in bad funds. Many 401K plans offer mutual funds with high management fees and other expenses, but most also offer low-cost options, including basic S&amp;P 500 Index funds. Find those funds with the lowest fees, so you get to keep more of your money. Look for funds with expense ratios below 0.5%, if possible.</p> <h2>5. Embrace the Power</h2> <p>When an employer offers a pension, it almost always contributes to a pension fund and then hopes that investment returns are enough to meet the obligations they have to employees. So in reality, the only significant difference between a pension and a 401K plan is who is in control. With a 401K plan, you have more control over how you invest. For some people, this is scary. But for others, it's just as scary to leave their financial future in the hands of others.</p> <h2>6. Make a Good 401K Part of Your Job Search</h2> <p>Think about the last time you searched for a job. When you applied and interviewed for positions, did you take the quality of the company's 401K plan into account? Chances are, this was far down the list of concerns, below salary, health benefits, and even vacation time. But imagine if more people turned down job offers because of a lousy 401K plan or a low company match. If more prospective employees voiced concerns about the quality of retirement plans during the hiring process, companies might be more likely to improve their plans.</p> <h2>7. Talk to Your Lawmakers</h2> <p>It's unlikely that the President or Congress can force companies to bring back pensions, but they are the ones who could change 401K plans to make them more attractive. Lawmakers could pass legislation that improves the tax benefits of plans or increases the amount investors are allowed to contribute. They could pressure companies to boost their matching contributions, and require more companies to offer plans to more employees. Lawmakers could also propose new kinds of savings plans managed by the government. At the very least, voicing your concerns about the quality of the 401K as a retirement option could start a conversation on Capitol Hill.</p> <h2>8. Join a Union, If You Can</h2> <p>Much of the erosion of defined benefit plans has coincided with the drop in influence of labor unions in America. According to the AFL-CIO, about 75% of union workers participate in defined benefit plans, compared to about 20% for nonunion workers. But far fewer people are part of unions these days.</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/the-inventor-of-the-401k-has-second-thoughts-about-your-retirement-plan-now-what">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/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-2 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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-10-bogus-retirement-savings-excuses">Stop Making These 10 Bogus Retirement Savings Excuses</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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k contributions employer match IRA nest egg pensions Roth savings Mon, 13 Feb 2017 10:30:33 +0000 Tim Lemke 1889313 at http://www.wisebread.com Is Pay-As-You-Drive Auto Insurance Worth It? http://www.wisebread.com/is-pay-as-you-drive-auto-insurance-worth-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-pay-as-you-drive-auto-insurance-worth-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_driving_car_540836094.jpg" alt="Woman learning if pay-as-you-drive auto insurance is worth it" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Don't drive much throughout the year? Your wallet may be in luck, in more ways than one. Pay-as-you-drive car insurance plans (also known as usage-based car insurance plans) can provide a money-saving solution for drivers who don't drive often. Each month, your rate will vary based on how much you drive. The less you drive, the more you'll save.</p> <h2>How Does the Plan Work?</h2> <p>These unique auto insurance options work a bit like pay-per-minute cellphone plans, where you're only charged for what you use. In order to accurately determine how much you're driving, you will receive a small wireless device that plugs into your vehicle's OBD-II port. This will alert your insurance company to how many miles you drove, so they can determine your monthly bill.</p> <h2>Who Qualifies?</h2> <p>Pay-as-you-go insurer <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-12479902-1459881208000" target="_blank">Metromile</a> estimates that if you drive less than 200 miles per week, you can save money with their pay-per-mile insurance plans. They also found that if you drive less than 5,000 miles a year, you could pay 40%&ndash;50% less than you would with a traditional insurance plan. In fact, they estimate that 65% of drivers are overpaying for their insurance. These types of plans are especially beneficial to drivers who don't drive very often and people who are paying high insurance rates due to their age or credit history.</p> <h2>How the Pricing Works</h2> <p>Once you enroll, you will pay a low monthly base rate, plus a charge per mile of driving. Through Metromile, if you drive more than 150 miles per day (or 250 per day in Washington), you won't be charged for the extra miles above the cap, which means you won't overpay on a long trip. Other factors can also affect your rate, including age, vehicle, and driver history.</p> <h2>How Much Can You Save?</h2> <p>Many drivers will limit their coverage in order to save money when they don't drive often. However, this can end up costing you more in the end if you <em>do</em> get in an accident. Instead, a pay-as-you-drive plan can provide the coverage you need and save you money every month.</p> <p>Some insurers claim that you will save anywhere from 20%&ndash;50% on your premium, and certain providers will even offer an immediate discount just for installing the tracking device to your vehicle's onboard diagnostics port. You can get an accurate idea of how much you can save by comparing your current auto insurance costs to what you would spend using a simple plan, like those that Metromile offers.</p> <p>As an example, we will use Metromile's estimate of $46 per month, which includes a $30 flat monthly rate and 500 miles driven x $0.032 per mile. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the national <a href="http://www.dmv.org/insurance/average-car-insurance-rates.php" target="_blank">car insurance average</a> rate is just over $900 per year for a single driver. Compared to the $552 per year that you would spend on pay-as-you-drive plans, you'll save about $350 per year if you drive 500 miles per month, on average.</p> <h2>Who Offers It?</h2> <p>Progressive, Allstate, State Farm, Travelers, Esurance, Nationwide, The Hartford, Safeco, American Family, and GMAC are some of the bigger insurance companies that offer these types of plans, but many have additional stipulations. For instance, Progressive also monitors what type of driver you are by also collecting information about how hard you brake, how much you accelerate, and your driving patterns. Insurance companies like Metromile only monitor how many miles you are driving.</p> <h2>Is It Right for You?</h2> <p>Along with deciding whether to sign up for this type of plan, you will also need to find the right insurance provider. Sites like <a href="http://www.carinsurance.com/Articles/pay-as-you-drive-discounts.aspx" target="_blank">carinsurance.com</a> can help you determine what type of discount you can expect, what's measured, and what's available in your state.</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/is-pay-as-you-drive-auto-insurance-worth-it">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/repair-the-car-or-spend-the-cash">Repair the Car or Spend the Cash?</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/4-times-when-bundling-insurance-doesnt-make-sense">4 Times When Bundling Insurance Doesn&#039;t Make Sense</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-a-claim-will-impact-your-car-insurance">Here&#039;s How a Claim Will Impact Your Car Insurance</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/is-mechanical-breakdown-insurance-worth-it">Is Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Worth 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/when-to-drop-collision-coverage-on-your-car">When to drop collision coverage on your car</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Insurance car insurance mileage pay as you drive premiums rates savings usage based car insurance Mon, 09 Jan 2017 10:30:23 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1869650 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Retirement Terms Every New Investor Needs to Know http://www.wisebread.com/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/retirement_blocks_73115095.jpg" alt="New investor learning retirement terms" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Congratulations! By starting your retirement fund, you've taken one of the most important steps toward a comfortable retirement. But as a novice investor, you may feel a bit overwhelmed with all the available information, including contribution limits, early penalty fees, and Roth 401Ks. To help you make sense of it all, let's review 15 key terms you should know:</p> <h2>1. 401K</h2> <p>The 401K is the most popular qualified employer-sponsored retirement plan in the U.S. The two most common types of 401K plans are the traditional 401K, to which you contribute with pretax dollars, and the Roth 401K, which accepts contributions with after-tax dollars. Earnings in a traditional 401K grow on a tax-deferred basis (you'll pay taxes on the funds when you withdraw them during retirement) and those in a Roth 401K grow tax-free forever, since you've paid taxes upfront.</p> <h2>2. After-Tax Contributions</h2> <p>Only certain types of retirement accounts, such as Roth 401Ks and Roth IRAs, accept contributions with after-tax dollars. When you contribute to a retirement account with after-tax dollars, your retirement funds grow tax-free forever, since you've already paid Uncle Sam.</p> <h2>3. Catch-Up Contribution</h2> <p>Retirement investors who are 50 and older at the end of the calendar year can make extra annual &quot;catch-up&quot; contributions to qualifying retirement accounts. Catch-up contributions allow older savers to make up for lower contributions to their retirement accounts in earlier years. In 2016 and 2017, 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> (on top of traditional annual contribution limits) are allowed for 401Ks and up to $1,000 for IRAs.</p> <h2>4. Contribution Limits</h2> <p>Every year, the IRS sets a limit as to how much you can contribute to your retirement accounts. In 2016, you can <a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-ira-contribution-limits">contribute up to $5,500</a> ($6,500 if age 50 or over) to traditional and Roth IRAs and <a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-contributions">up to $18,000</a> ($24,000 if age 50 or over) to a traditional or Roth 401K. These annual contribution limits to retirement accounts remain unchanged for 2017. If you exceed your contribution limit, you'll receive a penalty fee from the IRS, unless you take out excess moneys by a certain date.</p> <h2>5. Early Distribution Penalty</h2> <p>To discourage retirement savers from withdrawing funds before retirement age, the IRS imposes an additional 10% penalty on distributions before age 59 &frac12; on certain retirement plans. Keep in mind that you're always liable for applicable income taxes whether you take a distribution from your retirement plan before or after age 59 &frac12;. Under certain circumstances, you're allowed to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account">withdraw money early</a> from a retirement account without the penalty.</p> <h2>6. Fee</h2> <p>You've heard that there is no such thing as a free lunch and no retirement plan is exempt from this rule. There's always a cost for the employer or employee, or both. Always check the prospectus from any fund for its annual expense ratio and any other applicable fee. An annual expense ratio of 0.75% means that for every $1,000 in your retirement account, you're charged $7.50 in fees. And that's assuming that you don't trigger any other fees! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-sneaky-401k-fees?ref=seealso">Watch Out for These 5 Sneaky 401K Fees</a>)</p> <h2>7. Index Fund</h2> <p>An index fund is a type of mutual fund that tracks of a basket of securities (generally a market index, such as the Standard &amp; Poor's 500 or the Russell 2000). An index fund is a passively managed mutual fund that provides broad market exposure, low investment cost, and low portfolio turnover. Due to its low annual expense ratios, such as 0.16% for the Vanguard 500 Index Investor Shares [Nasdaq: <a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/vfinx">VFINX</a>], index funds have become a popular way to save for retirement. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-steps-to-getting-started-in-the-stock-market-with-index-funds?Ref=seealso">3 Steps to Getting Started in the Stock Market With Index Funds</a>)</p> <h2>8. IRA</h2> <p>Unlike a 401K, an individual retirement account (IRA) is held by custodians, including commercial banks and retail brokers. The financial institutions place the IRA funds in a variety of investments following the instructions of the plan holders. A traditional IRA accepts contributions with pretax dollars, and a Roth IRA accepts contributions with after-tax dollars. An advantage of using a Roth IRA is that it provides several exemptions to the early distribution penalty.</p> <h2>9. 401K Loan</h2> <p>Some retirement plans allow you to take a loan on a portion of your available balance &mdash; generally, 50% of your vested account balance, or <a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/retirement-plans-faqs-regarding-loans">up to $50,000</a>, whichever is less. While the loan balance is generally due within five years, it becomes fully due within 60 days from separating from your employer. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account?ref=seealso">5 Questions to Ask Before You Borrow From Your Retirement Account</a>)</p> <h2>10. Mutual Fund</h2> <p>By pooling funds from several investors, money managers are able to invest in a wide variety of securities, ranging from money market instruments to equities. Investing in a mutual fund enables an individual retirement investor to gain access to a wide variety of investments that she wouldn't necessarily have access to on her own. Depending on its investment strategy, mutual funds can have a wide variety of fees. So, make sure to read the fine print. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-sneaky-investment-fees-to-watch-for?ref=seealso">4 Sneaky Investment Fees to Watch For</a>)</p> <h2>11. Pretax Contribution</h2> <p>When you contribute to your employer-sponsored retirement account with pretax dollars, you're allowed to reduce your taxable income. For example, if you were to make $50,000 per year and contribute $5,000 to your 401K with pretax dollars, then you would only have to pay applicable income taxes on $45,000! You delay taxation until retirement age when you're more likely to be in a lower tax bracket.</p> <h2>12. Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)</h2> <p>You can't keep moneys in your retirement account forever. At age 70 &frac12;, you generally have to start taking withdrawals from an IRA, SIMPLE IRA, SEP IRA, or 401K. An RMD is the minimum amount required by law that you have take out from your retirement account each year to avoid a penalty from the IRS. You can use of one of these <a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/required-minimum-distribution-worksheets">requirement minimum distribution work sheets</a> to calculate your RMD.</p> <h2>13. Rollover</h2> <p>When you separate from your employer, you generally have up to 60 days to transfer moneys in your previous retirement account to a new retirement account accepting those moneys. This process is known as a rollover. In a direct rollover, the process is automatic; in an indirect rollover, you receive a cash-out check from your previous employer to rollover the moneys to a new qualifying retirement account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-rolling-over-all-of-your-401ks-and-iras?ref=seealso">A Simple Guide to Rolling Over All of Your 401Ks and IRAs</a>)</p> <h2>14. Target-Date Fund</h2> <p>A target-date fund is a retirement investment fund that seeks to provide higher returns to young investors and gradually reduce risk exposure as they get closer to retirement age. Since the Pension Protection Act granted target-date funds the status of qualified default investment alternative in 2006, these type of funds have gained popularity. About half of 401K participants <a href="https://www.ebri.org/publications/ib/index.cfm?fa=ibDisp&amp;content_id=3347">hold a target-date fund</a>.</p> <h2>15. Vesting</h2> <p>In any retirement account, only money that is fully vested truly belongs to you. While all of your contributions and the matching contributions from your employer to your retirement account are always fully vested, some employer contributions, such as company stock, may follow a vesting schedule. In <em>cliff vesting</em>, you only become fully vested after a certain period of time. In <em>graded vesting</em>, you gradually gain ownership of those employer contributions.</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/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-inventor-of-the-401k-has-second-thoughts-about-your-retirement-plan-now-what">The Inventor of the 401K Has Second Thoughts About Your Retirement Plan — 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/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Optimize Your IRA and 401(k)</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/should-you-choose-a-roth-401k-or-a-regular-401k">Should You Choose a Roth 401k or a Regular 401k?</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/401k-or-ira-you-need-both">401K or IRA? You Need Both</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k contributions employer-sponsored retirement index funds IRA new investors Roth savings target date funds taxes terms Thu, 17 Nov 2016 11:00:14 +0000 Damian Davila 1834559 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Money Moves You Will Always Be Thankful For http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_piggy_bank_72948583.jpg" alt="Family making money moves they&#039;ll always be thankful for" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The air is crisp and the time for family, friends, and fun is upon us! But are you ready for the tons of holiday spending and planning ahead for 2017? Read up on these seven money moves you will always be thankful for/</p> <h2>1. Monitoring Your Credit</h2> <p>Whether you've already got a mortgage, cars, and all the trimmings, or you're a young adult with the hopes of buying an asset like a house someday, you'll need to maintain good credit. Everyone gets one <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-truly-free-credit-report">free credit report</a> each year, and some credit card companies even give you regular updates on your credit score. I know, we love to remind you of this! But when you're meeting with the realtor and they don't laugh at your borrowing limit, you'll be saying thanks.</p> <h2>2. Negotiating Your Insurance</h2> <p>When shopping around for insurance, it's easy to settle for the first average quote you receive and end it. It's boring! But it really is best to gather several quotes to gain some leverage. If there's a company you prefer, show them the cheaper quote and get them to lower theirs. Also, try to ask yourself which types of insurance you actually need. When you've saved hundreds of dollars per year in insurance costs, it'll be easier to agree to host Thanksgiving at your place next time.</p> <h2>3. Stowing Cash Into a Mutual Fund or ETF</h2> <p>How many ways should you save money? Even if you already have some mutual funds in your 401K, even if you have a vacation savings jar in the kitchen &mdash; you might want to consider stowing some cash from your savings account separately in a mutual fund or ETF. They're steady, the rate is far superior to a savings account, and it keeps you from feeling like your savings can be tapped at any time. It takes some thought and some calculus of weighing the fees and taxes to decide whether to take the funds out. Sometimes we need that bit of a barrier so that we can benefit in the long run. Check out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-top-mutual-funds-for-low-risk-investors">these tips for investors</a>. Your future self will be thanking you down the line.</p> <h2>4. Paying Off High-Interest Debt</h2> <p>Carrying balances on one (or a few) high-interest cards? If you have debt at anything above 10% interest, paying those off should be your priority. The longer you carry those balances, the more precarious the situation gets. And of course, if you were to follow the first point in this list, it would be pretty hard without paying off that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=internal">high-interest debt</a>. Once that's done, you can pass the savings around the table.</p> <h2>5. Building an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Why wouldn't you want to be covered if a small emergency happened? Consider the emergency fund as your war chest, defending you from calamities such as car accidents, sudden house repairs, a child getting sick, or getting stuck with unpaid jury duty. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund">Even broke folks</a> can start one. Keep it somewhere easy to access, and by all means, never pilfer it for Black Friday. That's what #7 is for!</p> <h2>6. Getting Your Taxes Done Early</h2> <p>Who doesn't want to get their money early? Or get tax stress off their chests? Starting around November, you really should be gathering your receipts and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-the-tax-season-rush-with-these-early-prep-steps">setting a tax plan</a> &mdash; whether you need to book an appointment with your accountant, or book some personal time in front of QuickBooks. What easier way to be thankful all the way into the dark of January than knowing a refund check is on its way?</p> <h2>7. Setting a Christmas Budget</h2> <p>Going into Thanksgiving with a shopping list and wondering, &quot;How am I gonna do this <em>and </em>Christmas?&quot; Fix that in the future with a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-common-holiday-budget-pitfalls">Christmas budget set in advance</a>. Even if you're a family who slowly buys gifts for each other year-round, that can creep up. By having a set budget every year, you can check against immediately clicking &quot;add to cart.&quot; Imagine how nice it would be to not feel completely tapped out after the holidays. Just get through Thanksgiving and everything else is gravy.</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/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make">7 Money Moves Every New College Student Should Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-youre-making-all-the-right-money-moves">6 Signs You&#039;re Making All the Right Money Moves</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/where-to-turn-for-help-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund">Where to Turn for Help When You Don&#039;t Have an Emergency Fund</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-money-moves-to-make-before-the-leaves-change">10 Money Moves to Make Before the Leaves Change</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/11-ways-to-prepare-for-your-best-black-friday">11 Ways to Prepare for Your Best Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance being thankful credit report debt emergency funds money moves savings taxes Thanksgiving Mon, 14 Nov 2016 09:00:06 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1830894 at http://www.wisebread.com Easy Budgeting for First Time Singles http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_kitchen_dancing_76246703.jpg" alt="Woman learning easy budgeting for first time singles" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As many as 28% of Americans live by themselves. Whether you are venturing out on your own after college, or life circumstances have forced you to live alone (i.e. divorce, kids leaving the nest, etc.), it can be hard to switch your saving and spending mentality to &quot;party of one.&quot;</p> <p>Keep these budgeting tips in mind as you navigate the financial waters by yourself:</p> <p>(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-live-alone-without-going-broke?ref=seealso">How to Live Alone Without Going Broke</a>)</p> <h2>1. Start With an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Dave Ramsey likes to start with the emergency fund, and I wholeheartedly agree. In my own experience, it seemed as if costly instances were always popping up when I had zero emergency fund and was living paycheck to paycheck.</p> <p>I remember trying to reach that $1,000 saving mark for my emergency fund, thinking it was the most impossible thing ever (hey, I was only 21 making very little money). I remember when I finally reached that mark, the emergency fund stayed at $1,000 and life's little inconveniences seemed to be easier to handle.</p> <p>If you have no emergency fund, then your first financial goal should be a $1,000 fund. After that is established, you want to add a little bit of money to your account each month to save up one month of living expenses, then three months, then six months. This money will keep you protected against a job loss or unexpected medical emergency.</p> <h2>2. Budget for the Fun Stuff</h2> <p>When all of the financial responsibilities sit on your shoulders, it can become so easy to forget to treat yourself and to budget in the fun stuff. No matter how tight your budget is, you need to leave a little wiggle room for mental health. Living frugally and on a strict budget can be amazing, but it can also grow tiresome month after month. What is the point of cutting your grocery budget to less than $30 a week if you are just miserable?</p> <p>Dream big for a second. What would you do or where would you go this minute if you had the money? Perhaps you would buy yourself a fancy pair of shoes or take a weekend trip to Italy. Whatever it is, don't ignore this desire. Instead, research how much it will cost and create a financial road map to get there. Your dream vacation could only be a year or two away with a smart budgeting plan.</p> <h2>3. Evaluate What You Really Need to Buy</h2> <p>Before you get excited about being on your own and buy everything in Bed, Bath, and Beyond, think a moment. Most basic items, such as can openers, dishes, and other must-haves for the home can be found inexpensively. Many of your family members and friends have extra dishes or kitchen gear that they never use. Ask them to borrow it. You might be surprised how generous people are when it comes to getting rid of extra stuff.</p> <p>If you can't score any freebies, then check local thrift stores and yard sales. There is no reason to spend $50 on a plate set when you can score one at a thrift store or yard sale for $5 or less.</p> <p>Another tip is to buy as you realize the need. When I moved into my first place, I didn't realize how many items were needed to just make and eat a basic meal. However, I also realized that a lot of kitchen gadgets aren't necessities. For example, a pie server or salt and pepper shakers are nice to have, but you can easily make it work without them.</p> <h2>4. Budget Before You Move and After</h2> <p>Before you sign the lease on your apartment or rental, crunch the numbers. Is your budget going to be tight? You might have to rethink where you live to better fit your budget. After you move in, evaluate how you are doing with your budget. Are you struggling to stick with it a month or three after moving on your own? These are little red flags that signify a change is needed, either a decrease in expenses or an increase in income.</p> <h2>5. Control Groceries and Eating Out</h2> <p>One of the trickiest things to budget for when you are alone is food. This is especially true if you are used to shopping or cooking for more people. Start with a loose meal plan. This doesn't have to be anything fancy or time-consuming, just plan out what you are going to eat for the week. For example, on Monday, you will eat oatmeal and coffee for breakfast, a sandwich and chips for lunch, and pasta and meatballs for dinner.</p> <p>As you plan out each meal, coordinate your shopping list. As you cook for dinners, you can either cook enough to have lunch the next day, or you can freeze a portion of your meal for later use. This will save you time and prevent you from wasting food. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-and-eat-better-with-these-6-online-meal-planners?Ref=seealso">Save Money and Eat Better With These 6 Online Meal Planners</a>)</p> <h2>6. Automate Your Finances</h2> <p>Another way to make sure that you stay on top of your finances is to look for apps that will help you automate your finances. For example, <a href="https://www.acorns.com/">Acorns</a> helps you to invest automatically, and <a href="http://mint.com">Mint</a> and <a href="https://www.personalcapital.com/landing/registration/affiliate?utm_source=FlexOffers.com+LLC&amp;utm_medium=affiliate&amp;utm_campaign=Personal+Capital+%24100k+Aggregators&amp;utm_content=">Personal Capital</a> will help you budget with very little time and thinking. Schedule your bills to be paid after your payday to ensure your account does not go into overdraft.</p> <p>Some sites will even let you schedule monthly payments to landlords. Just be sure to still look over statements if you switch to automatic payments. You want to ensure that you are not overcharged for anything. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-automate-your-finances?ref=seealso">5 Ways to Automate Your Finances</a>)</p> <p>Like many things, living alone has a learning curve. Don't let a bad month have you running to credit cards or family for help.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles">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/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt">11 Good Money Habits That Will Keep You Out of Debt</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/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You 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/10-frugal-hacks-for-single-living">10 Frugal Hacks for Single Living</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-easiest-food-budget-wins">The 9 Easiest Food Budget Wins</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-things-americans-spend-too-much-on">5 Things Americans Spend Too Much On</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting automated payments bills emergency fund food costs groceries living alone moving savings single Fri, 14 Oct 2016 10:31:03 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1812612 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Student Loan Grace Period http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_happy_diploma_94435335.jpg" alt="Woman making the most of her student loan grace period" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Graduating from college with your degree in hand is exciting. But the thought of paying back your students loans? Not so much. But, depending on the type of student loans you took, you're probably eligible for a grace period, or a set number of months after graduation in which you don't have to start repaying your loans.</p> <p>During this time, you can take financial steps to prepare yourself not only for your looming monthly loan payments, but also for your entire financial future. Take advantage of this grace period to begin building your savings, building a solid credit score, and building a budget.</p> <p>Don't skimp on these steps. After all, that grace period doesn't last forever.</p> <h2>How Grace Periods Work</h2> <p>The federal government doesn't always expect you to begin repaying your student loans as soon as you leave college. Instead, most federal student loans come with a grace period. The goal is to give recent graduates a chance to start earning money and settle their finances before they have to start making monthly student loan payments.</p> <p>The grace period varies depending on the type of federal loans you are repaying. Direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, subsidized federal Stafford loans, and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans come with a grace period of six months during which you won't have to make payments. Federal Perkins loans come with a grace period of nine months. Depending on when you took them out, the interest on some loans might continue to grow even during the grace period.</p> <h2>1. Select a Repayment Plan</h2> <p>It's during your grace period that you'll need to select a repayment plan for your student loans. For federal student loans, you'll automatically be entered into the Standard Repayment Plan. This plan gives you at least 10 years to repay your student loan debt, and is usually the most affordable choice. Under this plan, you'll pay the least amount of interest.</p> <p>There are exceptions, though. If you haven't been able to find a job or if your job pays you little, an income-driven plan might make more sense. These plans come with lower monthly payments that are designed to be affordable to you. However, you will end up paying more interest over the long run.</p> <p>As your grace period ticks away, make sure to stay in contact with the servicer that is handling your loan repayments. Your servicer can answer any questions you have and help you find the best repayment option. You can find the servicer of your loan at <a href="https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/?login=true">My Federal Student Aid</a>.</p> <h2>2. Create a Budget</h2> <p>Once you enter the workforce, it's essential to create a budget. Simply list all of the money that you earn during the month. Then list all of your expenses, including estimated costs for items such as groceries, dinners out, and entertainment. Now you'll know how much extra money you should have every month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps?ref=seealso">Build a Budget in 5 Easy Steps</a>)</p> <p>Make sure to factor in your estimated monthly student loan payments in this budget. This will help you determine whether you can repay your loans under the Standard Repayment Plan or if you'll need to consider an income-based option for tackling your monthly loan payments.</p> <h2>3. Start Building Your Savings</h2> <p>It's tempting when you get your first paychecks to spend everything you've earned. Resist. Instead, start building your savings. It's important to have an emergency fund that you can tap into whenever a financial emergency pops up. And these emergencies will happen. Your car might suddenly need expensive repairs. If you've built up an emergency fund, you won't have to rely on your high interest rate credit cards to cover these unexpected financial hits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Transfer Balances to These Low Interest Rate Cards</a>)</p> <p>It might sound good, but your grace period is a great time to start saving for retirement. The sooner you start putting money away for your eventual retirement, the better off you'll be once you leave the workforce. Retirement might seem like it's ages away. But if your employer offers a 401K plan, enroll in it and start saving at least some of each paycheck for retirement. If your employer doesn't offer a 401K plan, consider opening an IRA on your own.</p> <p>Of course, this assumes that you'll have enough money to save and meet your monthly financial obligations, including your upcoming student loan payment. If you can't, put retirement savings on hold.</p> <h2>4. Build Your Credit</h2> <p>You need a strong credit score today. Lenders rely on this score when determining who qualifies for auto and mortgage loans and at what interest rates. Fortunately, you can start building a good credit score as soon as you graduate (or before, really). Pay all your bills on time. When you use credit cards, only charge what you can afford to pay off in full when your payment is due. If you take out a car loan, make your payments on time every month.</p> <p>Taking these simple steps will help you build a solid credit score. And when it's time to start making your student-loan payments? Every time you make one of these payments on time, you'll be taking a small step to building your score, too.</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/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period">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-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make">7 Money Moves Every New College Student Should Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life">How to Stop Student Loans From Ruining Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Graduate</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-questions-to-ask-before-taking-out-student-loans">6 Questions to Ask Before Taking Out Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-valuable-rights-you-might-lose-when-you-refinance-student-loans">8 Valuable Rights You Might Lose When You Refinance Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training budgeting college federal loans grace periods loans planning repayment plans savings stafford loans student loans Wed, 05 Oct 2016 10:00:05 +0000 Dan Rafter 1805246 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Times You Shouldn't Refinance Your Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_stressed_bills_85513247.jpg" alt="Couple learning times they shouldn&#039;t refinance their mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Refinancing your mortgage can drastically lower your monthly payments, especially since rates are still very low. The decision to refinance should be an easy one, right? Not so quick.</p> <p>Refinancing isn't for everyone or every financial situation. Here are five times you should hold off on refinancing your mortgage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance?ref=seealso">ReFi Shy? How to Determine if Now Is the Time to Refinance</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Don't Plan on Staying in the House</h2> <p>If you plan on selling your home in the next five years, then hold off on refinancing it. The move will likely only waste your time and money. Selling too soon after refinancing means you won't live in your home long enough to capture the savings benefits of lower rates. Plus, you'll still owe any fees associated with the new loan.</p> <p>We made the mistake of refinancing our other home from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage. Our broker had talked us into it, saying it was a smart option. It wasn't. At the time of the refinance, I was pregnant with my second child, and truly planned to live in our first home for many more years. However, two kids under three plus one room equals a lot of sleepless nights.</p> <p>The decision to refinance ended up costing us more initially and monthly, especially since we sold our home just nine months later.</p> <h2>2. The Savings Don't Add Up</h2> <p>The reason why many individuals choose to refinance their mortgage is because they want to get a lower interest rate. Before you jump on the refinance wagon, do a little bit of calculating. Find out how much the refinance will cost you compared to how much it will save.</p> <p>Also realize that a refinance can add years to your loan. Don't automatically believe that you are benefiting from lower monthly payments if your loan has been extended an additional five years.</p> <h2>3. You Are Trying to Pay Off Your Loan Sooner</h2> <p>As I mentioned before, we refinanced our home to a 15-year loan because we wanted to pay off our mortgage faster. On paper, the numbers made sense, and the change was only going to cost us an extra $300 a month, which seemed doable. However, it would have been better for us to keep the 30-year loan and make the extra payments on our own terms. This would have given us more wiggle room in our budget for unexpected costs.</p> <h2>4. You Are Switching to an adjustable-rate mortgage</h2> <p>Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) rates are tempting to jump on, especially since they guarantee a low rate for a certain amount of time. However, interest rates eventually will go up. It's just the ebb and flow of the economy.</p> <p>With an ARM, you will pay more of the principal faster, which is nice, but you better be prepared to pay higher payments when the rates go up.</p> <h2>5. You Aren't in the Right Position to Finance</h2> <p>If for some reason your home has dropped in value, refinancing your home can tack on extra costs, such as private mortgage insurance. Borrowers with small down payments &mdash; or refinances with little equity &mdash; have to pay PMI until their equity reaches 20% of the home's value. For example, if you bought your house for $250,000, paid off $30,000 of it, but the value of your house dropped to $225,000, you would have very little equity in the home and in most cases have to pay for PMI.</p> <p>Another thing to consider before you refinance is your credit score and job history. If your score has dropped even just a little, you could miss out on qualifying for the lowest rates, which would make the whole refinance process not worth it. Also, if you recently switched career fields, i.e. going from a teacher to a computer system administrator, your pay might be higher, but your duration of employment might make you ineligible for a refinance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement?ref=seealso">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a>)</p> <p>Refinancing is a good choice if it means you can ditch annoying PMI fees and score a lower interest rate. However, a refinance is not for everyone, so be sure to crunch the numbers first.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage">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-smart-ways-to-lower-your-monthly-mortgage-payment">4 Smart Ways to Lower Your Monthly Mortgage Payment</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/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to 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/5-times-you-shouldnt-rush-to-pay-off-your-mortgage">5 Times You Shouldn&#039;t Rush to Pay Off Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance">ReFi Shy? How to Determine If Now Is the Time to Refinance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-finance-a-tiny-house">3 Ways to Finance a Tiny House</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing adjustable rate mortgages ARMS mortgages moving refinancing savings Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:00:08 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1799077 at http://www.wisebread.com Why Your Personal Savings Rate Matters http://www.wisebread.com/why-your-personal-savings-rate-matters <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-your-personal-savings-rate-matters" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_piggy_bank_89732325.jpg" alt="Woman learning why her personal savings rate matters " title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your personal savings rate is one of the most important indicators of your financial health. The personal savings rate is simple: It's the amount you have left over every month after you've spent the money coming in.</p> <p>To find out your personal savings rate, add together all the funds that come in over the month. Include wages and salaries, dividends, and any income from other sources, such as side-jobs or Social Security. Be sure to include any income you have automatically saved, such as IRAs or health care savings accounts (HSAs).</p> <p>Then, add the total left in your accounts. How much didn't you spend? Include any money in IRAs, HSAs, or savings accounts here, as well as cash in your billfold. Divide that figure into the total income. In other words, if your total coming in was $4,000 and you saved $200, the rate is 0.5, or 5%.</p> <h2>Personal Savings: You Need It</h2> <p>Why should you pay attention to your personal savings rate? Because you need savings for many things in life! If buying a house is in your future, you should have a down payment saved. You'll get a better deal on mortgage rates and points the more you have saved. You'll also need savings for any repairs or remodeling. If your car conks out on the way to work, savings means you can afford a down payment on new wheels or even a good used car.</p> <p>Mortgages and cars aren't the only reasons you need to save, though. Potential job loss is another. Companies often downsize without much warning &mdash; or much severance. Many financial advisers recommend keeping a three to six-month emergency cushion for just such emergencies.</p> <p>And how about health care? What if you suddenly needed emergency surgery? Deductibles, copays, tests, and prescriptions can add up rapidly. Health care costs may be a reason you'd need savings.</p> <p>Finally, Social Security is not going to pay for anyone's retirement &mdash; at least, not all the way. The system is already beginning to be viewed as a partial supplement to what one needs to live on past 65. You need to be saving for retirement.</p> <p>For all these life events, it's important to save as much as you can, as early as you can. Savings accounts, bonds, and stock market investments all do their best work over time. The earlier you start to save, the more your savings can appreciate.</p> <h2>U.S. Savings Rates Need to Be Higher</h2> <p>For Americans generally, the <a href="http://time.com/money/3763261/savings-rate-two-year-high/">rate is around 5.8%</a>. That's low &mdash; investment advisers believe personal savings rates should be closer to 10% or 15%.</p> <p>But, depending on your age and income, you may be significantly below the national average: <a href="http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/04/26/Americans-Low-Savings-Rate-Bad-Sign-Good-Economy">18% of people</a> across the U.S. save nothing. Their personal savings rate is zero. And roughly 50% save roughly a measly 5%.</p> <h2>6 Ways to Raise Your Rate</h2> <p>So, how can you effectively increase your personal savings rate? Here are six easy ways.</p> <h3>1. Grab Employer Matches</h3> <p>Take advantage of employer matches, if available. If your company matches 401Ks or HSAs, take advantage of them as much as you can. It's literally free money in your savings.</p> <h3>2. Maximize Pretax Savings</h3> <p>Take advantage of pretax savings, if available. If your company offers pretax savings through an 401K, HSA, or any other savings/investment vehicle, use it! Pretax savings of even 2% are greater than after-tax savings of 2%. It adds up over time.</p> <h3>3. Think Utilitarian</h3> <p>Avoid being overly flashy with major purchases like cars. It may be nice to think of a red convertible &mdash; but if that adds up so you have no disposable income left, you may want to rethink the purchase. Would a serviceable car allow you to reduce monthly payments? Or, could you buy a used car and put money you'd earmarked for payments toward your personal savings rate?</p> <h3>4. Pare Back Your Budget</h3> <p>If you don't currently keep a budget, it's time to start one. Review your budget by category. What could you pare back without drastic impact? Could that Starbucks venti macchiato coffee every day be substituted with coffee brought from home? Could Netflix substitute for movies and dinner out?</p> <h3>5. Curb Impulse Purchases</h3> <p>It's great to be able to buy new fall shoes and DVDs that call your name. But it's also great to be able to look at your savings every month with pride. Cut down on impulse purchases. If you love shoes or the newest DVDs, look at catalogs to whet your thirst. But don't buy shoes until you need them. As for DVDs? Check the library.</p> <h3>6. Consider the Gig Economy</h3> <p>Would it be possible to have occasional work driving for a ride-sharing company, running errands, or taking care of pets or plants? Earmark any earnings for your personal savings rate.</p> <p>Your personal savings rate has a major impact on your financial life. Take advantage of every way to maximize it. If you do, you'll be in much better financial shape than most of America is right now.</p> <p><em>What are you doing to maximize your PSR?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anum-yoon">Anum Yoon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-your-personal-savings-rate-matters">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-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make">7 Money Moves Every New College Student Should Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-out-of-debt-first-then-focus-on-saving">Get Out of Debt First, Then Focus on Saving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-tidy-up-your-finances-before-the-holidays">10 Ways to Tidy Up Your Finances Before the Holidays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-warren-buffett">The 5 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Warren Buffett</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-microsaving-tools-to-help-you-start-saving-now">5 MicroSaving Tools to Help You Start Saving Now</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Personal Savings Rate savings Tue, 13 Sep 2016 09:00:14 +0000 Anum Yoon 1791531 at http://www.wisebread.com