savings http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/387/all en-US 12 Easy Ways to Manage Your Finances Before, During, and After a Military Deployment http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-manage-your-finances-before-during-and-after-a-military-deployment <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-easy-ways-to-manage-your-finances-before-during-and-after-a-military-deployment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/soldier_holding_baby_000040863136.jpg" alt="Soldier learning to manage finances after military deployment" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Anyone serving in the armed forces can tell you that returning from a deployment can be just as traumatic in many ways as leaving. Re-finding your role in the family dynamic, returning to the office if you are a reservist with a civilian job, and even readjusting to mundane things like stopping at red lights can be a challenge.</p> <p>One area where it's particularly important to hit the home turf running is finances. A deployment can create both financial challenges and &mdash; potentially &mdash; advantages for a family, but you need to know how to handle them properly to keep the homefront strong. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-for-military-personnel-and-families?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards for Military Families</a>)</p> <p>I spoke with American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association Chief Operating Officer Michael Meese about the financial steps military families should take before, during, and after a deployment. AAFMAA provides insurance and other financial services to the US military community.</p> <h2>Before</h2> <p>&quot;First, they need to plan before they go to minimize the challenges when they come back,&quot; Meese says. After a 32-year Army career that involved several deployments, Meese has been able to advise many younger service members on this, including his own son, who served in Afghanistan.</p> <h3>1. Stash Cash in the Savings Deposit Program</h3> <p>Only available to service members deployed in combat zones, this Department of Defense program <a href="http://www.dfas.mil/militarymembers/payentitlements/sdp.html">pays up to 10% interest</a> &mdash; 10 times the going rate for a one-year certificate of deposit. You can't actually start depositing money into this account until you have been deployed, but you should figure out before you go if you have the spare money to take advantage of it, or if you can have part of your pay deposited into it while deployed.</p> <h3>2. Learn What Other Financial Benefits You May Qualify For</h3> <p>The <a href="http://www.defense.gov/specials/Relief_Act_Revision/">Soldiers and Sailors' Civil Relief Act</a> protects your family from eviction during your deployment and limits the interest you pay on your mortgage and some other debts to 6%. Contact creditors in writing to request interest rate reduction, and include a copy of your orders.</p> <h3>3. Buy More Insurance</h3> <p>When Meese's son was deployed to Afghanistan, Meese recommended that his son buy life insurance in addition to the $400,000 that service members are <a href="http://www.military.com/benefits/survivor-benefits/servicemembers-group-life-insurance.html">automatically signed up for</a>. AAFMA has a <a href="http://www.aafmaa.com/DecisionCenter/Tools,FormsResources/Calculateyourinsuranceneeds.aspx">life insurance calculator</a> that helps determine how much coverage you might need.</p> <h3>4. Plan for Your Financial Absence</h3> <p>If you are the person who typically pays the bills, make sure your spouse has a list of monthly bills, passwords to bill pay accounts, etc. If your unit offers a class on reading the monthly <a href="http://www.military.com/deployment/deployment-financial-preparation.html">Leave and Earnings Statement</a> (the military's version of a pay stub) &mdash; both the service member and spouse should take it.</p> <p>Agree together what accounts or credit cards will be used to make what payments, and determine a monthly budget. If you are single, you may have to set all bills on autopay and deputize a family member to keep an eye on things for you. Even if you have Internet access while deployed, Meese warns, it can sometimes be difficult to log into online banking from overseas.</p> <p>Ideally, you can save money while you are deployed by canceling services that you won't use during your absence.</p> <p>&quot;When I deployed, I turned off my cell phone and I called my insurance company and said I'm not driving my vehicle for a year,&quot; Meese says.</p> <h2>During</h2> <p>Depending on the type of deployment, a service member might be kept in the loop via the Internet and phone calls, or may be completely out of touch. So during this time, a lot of the responsibility falls on the spouse or other family members.</p> <h3>6. Monitor Your Leave and Earnings Statements</h3> <p>You should start receiving <a href="http://www.military.com/benefits/military-pay/special-pay/hazardous-duty-incentive-pay.html">hazardous duty incentive pay</a> and a <a href="http://www.dfas.mil/militarymembers/payentitlements/fsa.html">Family Separation Allowance</a> 30 days after you enter a combat zone. You or your deputy at home can check the LES online, and if the extra pay doesn't appear, visit your <a href="https://mypay.dfas.mil/FAQ.htm#ASSISTANCE/CUSTOMER%20SUPPORT">finance office or administrative unit</a> for help.</p> <h3>7. Avoid Overspending</h3> <p>&quot;Families sometimes go into retail therapy when the service member is deployed,&quot; Meese says. It's important to stick to the agreed-upon budget so that the service member doesn't come home to surprise debt.</p> <h3>8. Be Sensitive About Sharing Information</h3> <p>It can be great for a service member to stay involved in day-to-day financial decisions via Skype and other technology &mdash; or it can be a stressful distraction.</p> <p>Meese raises an example of a call a soldier might receive: &quot;The washing machine broke, where should we get the money to do that?&quot;</p> <p>&quot;They may not be in a position to talk about that,&quot; Meese says.</p> <p>For example, while Meese's son was in Afghanistan, his daughter-in-law received a notice from the Internal Revenue Service that the couple owed $2,000 on a past year's tax return. When she spoke to her husband, he was upset about a company member's injury, and she decided not to bring the matter up. She was able to figure out, with help from Meese, that the tax bill was an error, and next time she spoke to her husband, when he was less stressed, she let him know that it was all taken care of.</p> <h2>After</h2> <p>When you finally get home, after hugging your family, it's time to &quot;settle up your finances to make sure you put them back in order, if they got out of order.&quot;</p> <h3>9. Ease Back Into Family Finances</h3> <p>Putting the financial house in order should be a joint project between you and your spouse, not a matter of the returned service member taking over. This tip is more about preserving family harmony than about money.</p> <p>&quot;You can't just jump in and take charge after somebody's been running things very well for six or 12 months,&quot; Meese says.</p> <p>Don't expect that your spouse has made the exact same decisions you would have.</p> <p>&quot;Any two individuals will be different, and may have spent money on things you wouldn't have. That may cause conflict between couples,&quot; Meese says.</p> <h3>10. Get What's Coming to You</h3> <p>While you're overseas, you'll be accruing a $3.50 per day allowance for incidental expenses. You claim this when you return by submitting your travel voucher showing your days overseas, and you'll get your allowance for all the time you were gone as a lump sum.</p> <p>&quot;Some people just fail to do that, and don't get that entitlement, which over a year is well over $1,000,&quot; Meese says. When he returned from his first tour in Bosnia, he used his allowance and other deployment-related funds to take his family to Disneyland.</p> <h3>11. Again, Don't Overspend</h3> <p>&quot;It can be tempting to celebrate your return with dinners out or special gifts,&quot; Military.com warns in an article about <a href="http://www.military.com/spouse/military-deployment/reintegration/returning-to-home-life-after-deployment.html">returning from deployment</a>. After all, between the travel allowance, Savings Deposit Program, and other benefits, you may have a significant amount of cash suddenly available. If you are single, you may not have had to spend any of the pay you drew while overseas.</p> <p>When he took the family to Disney, Meese recalls, &quot;I felt I had this giant largess, and you can blow through that quickly because you feel like it's a huge amount of money.&quot;</p> <p>Meese obviously isn't against taking a celebratory trip, but he urges wise spending: &quot;What we advise service members is, it <em>is</em> a lot of money and it's great to take care of your family. But a good way to do that is to jump start a college fund or make a down payment on a house.&quot;</p> <h3>12. Play Catch Up</h3> <p>If you took advantage of deferred tax return filings, file your taxes now. If the family accrued debt during the deployment, now is the time to pay it off or consolidate it onto a lower interest rate. Continue to check your LES to make sure hazard pay and other allowances stop after you return &mdash; if they don't, you will probably end up having the money taken out of a future paycheck when you're not expecting it.</p> <p>It's understandable that you may not have kept up to date on everything while overseas. Now's the time to make up for that.</p> <p>&quot;It's all part of cleaning up the battlefield,&quot; Meese says.</p> <p><em>Have you ever had to manage the finances while a spouse was deployed?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-manage-your-finances-before-during-and-after-a-military-deployment">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-personal-finance-milestones-every-20-and-30-year-old-should-hit">7 Personal Finance Milestones Every 20 and 30 Year Old Should Hit</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-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-suze-orman">The 5 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Suze Orman</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/conspicuous-spending-fading-to-black">Conspicuous Spending: Fading to Black</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/so-your-bank-failed-now-what">So Your Bank Failed, Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance armed forces deployment military money reserves savings Tue, 18 Aug 2015 13:00:19 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1523214 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Ways to Save Money on Your Cup of Coffee http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-save-money-on-your-cup-of-coffee <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-ways-to-save-money-on-your-cup-of-coffee" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_drinking_coffee_000052198132.jpg" alt="Woman finding ways to save money on coffee" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I love a good cup of coffee. In fact, I drink a cup on a daily basis &mdash; and I'm not alone. More than half of the U.S. population <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/caffeine-nation/">drinks coffee every day</a>. We fuel our cars with gas from the pump, and we fuel ourselves with caffeine.</p> <p>If you're a regular coffee drinker, here's how to indulge in your daily cup of coffee while saving money.</p> <h2>1. Make Brewing Coffee an Experience</h2> <p>My mid-morning brew is my favorite time of the day. I look forward to the smell of grinding coffee beans, and sound of a fresh cup brewing in the coffee pot. Then I get excited about mixing up my perfect cup of joe just the way I like it.</p> <p>This ritual is my mid-morning pick-me-up and something I miss when I'm not at home, or don't get the chance to brew my own cup. Turn brewing your own coffee into a sensory experience by investing in a quality coffee maker, and experimenting with your own coffee style.</p> <p>From a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/french-press-coffee">basic French press</a> to a more expensive <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;fst=as%3Aoff&amp;keywords=keurig&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1437492464&amp;rh=n%3A2474054011%2Ck%3Akeurig&amp;rnid=2941120011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=KYFKBBDVLK3Z4BIQ">Keurig</a>, it's completely up to you how much you spend on a coffee maker. The point is to take your time and brew your own cup. It will save you loads of money, and make getting caffeinated one of your favorite times of the day.</p> <h2>2. Find Deals Online</h2> <p>Doing a quick online search for coffee deals will yield some great results from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-ensure-you-use-your-groupons-and-other-daily-deals">sites like Groupon</a> or Google offers. You can often find discounted gift cards, coupon codes, and other two-for-one deals for local coffee shops or major chains.</p> <p>Another way to find exclusive savings is to follow your favorite coffee chain on Twitter or Facebook. They usually offer giveaways, coupons, and gift cards for free coffee &mdash; especially around the holiday season. Plus, you'll be able to stay updated on their latest offerings and flavors.</p> <h2>3. Opt for Alternative Creations</h2> <p>If you're a Starbucks drinker, you know how quickly a Grande speciality drink can add up to a pretty penny. Instead, opt for a Misto, which is coffee with steamed milk. Otherwise known as <em>cafe au lait, </em>a Misto won't taste as strong as a regular latte, since it's not made with espresso, but it's still pretty similar, and will allow you to indulge in a daily cup without breaking the bank.</p> <p>If a Misto isn't your thing, try an Americano for more flavor. It's the opposite of a Misto in that it's made with espresso and hot water, which makes it much stronger in taste. It's more expensive than a regular cup of coffee, but still cheaper than a speciality latte.</p> <h2>4. Order Smaller Sizes</h2> <p>If you're not keen on giving up your favorite speciality drink, consider ordering a smaller size. This will give you the chance to indulge in the same quality caffeine while still being able to save a few bucks. If you order coffee from a local shop on a daily basis, this small savings can really add up in just one month's time. And you won't be missing out on your favorite cup of coffee.</p> <p>During the summer season especially, places like Starbucks offer limited-time smaller alternatives for their best-sellers. Be sure to take advantage of this! If the price difference isn't significant enough, consider splitting a cup with a friend.</p> <h2>5. Become a Loyalty or Rewards Member</h2> <p>This may be a basic tip, but it's an important one that deserves repeating. Places like Dunkin Donuts, Panera, and Caribou Coffee offer rewards programs for loyal coffee drinkers. I'm a Starbucks Gold member, so every 12 cups of coffee I drink means I receive one free cup. I also get a free cup on my birthday once a year. For a frequent coffee drinker, this adds up to a handful of free drinks (and loads of savings).</p> <p>These rewards programs also yield member-only savings, discounts, and chances to win free coffee throughout the year. And the best part is; they're free! So there's seriously no risk to joining and earning rewards with every purchase.</p> <h2>6. Bring Your Own Mug</h2> <p>Many local coffee shops, and even chains like Starbucks, reward drinkers with a small discount when they bring in their own mug. Usually the savings are only $0.10&ndash;$0.20 but over a period of a month, this adds up to a few dollars, which essentially means a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-your-morning-coffee-for-free">free cup of coffee</a>.</p> <p>Plus, you're helping the environment by avoiding additional waste. Nothing beats being green &mdash; and saving green &mdash; while enjoying a cup of coffee.</p> <h2>7. Up the Flavor for Free</h2> <p>As a culture we're obsessed with coffee flavors, additives, and spices. There are literally hundreds of different types of coffee beans, syrups, creamers, and sugars to improve your drink's flavor. (Most of which are free at the barista counter at your local coffee shop.)</p> <p>Infuse your cup of coffee with cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg, vanilla, and experiment with other tastings and flavors. You may find a new way to take your coffee that you like even more than your current craving. And as a bonus, it could be a more cost-effective alternative.</p> <h2>8. Try Natural Energy Fixers</h2> <p>If you're just looking for a midday energy boost, consider other energy alternatives to just drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee. Green superfoods, like spinach and kale, provide a healthy energy fix and will give your body some much-needed nutrients.</p> <p>Try tossing some greens into a smoothie, or munching on dark chocolate, fresh fruit, or ginseng tea. These alternatives will give your body that natural &quot;high&quot; you get from caffeine, that lasts much longer, without the crash in energy later.</p> <h2>9. Join a Coffee Club</h2> <p>Monthly subscription boxes are all the rage right now, and that includes <a href="http://betterbeans.com/">coffee clubs</a>. For around $20 a month you get access to fresh coffee grounds and flavorings from around the world. This allows you to save a lot of money on your daily cup of coffee without sacrificing taste or quality. Plus, you'll be able to test out lots of different styles of coffee, from light to dark.</p> <p><em>How do you save on your daily cup of coffee?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-save-money-on-your-cup-of-coffee">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/stop-being-a-slave-to-starbucks-how-to-quit-caffeine">Stop Being a Slave to Starbucks - How to Quit Caffeine</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/going-short-at-starbucks-worth-it">Going Short at Starbucks: Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-caffeine-is-in-that">How Much Caffeine is in That?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-drink-coffee">5 Reasons to Drink Coffee</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-sleek-marketing-ploys-aimed-at-getting-more-of-your-grocery-money">5 Sleek Marketing Ploys Aimed at Getting More of Your Grocery Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Food and Drink caffeine coffee coffee hacks savings Starbucks Thu, 06 Aug 2015 15:00:22 +0000 Carrie Smith 1510331 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Simple Ways to Save More, Worry Less http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-simple-ways-to-save-more-worry-less <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-simple-ways-to-save-more-worry-less" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_with_piggy_bank_000009176785.jpg" alt="Man finding simple ways to save more and worry less" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on ways to save more and worry less, essential steps to take before a job interview, and what you need to know about using your phone abroad.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/save-more-worry-less.html">6 simple ways to save more and worry less</a> &mdash; You probably have several money goals at any given time. Choose one to focus your savings on. This simplifies the process and makes it more likely that you'll achieve the goal. [Bargaineering]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Interview-Preparation-Tips-20892485">10 Essential Steps to Take Before a Job Interview</a> &mdash; Your interview shoes should be weather-appropriate and easy to walk in. The night before your interview, wear your shoes for a few hours, with socks, to make sure they're comfy. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2015/0719/Everything-you-need-to-know-about-using-your-phone-abroad">Everything you need to know about using your phone abroad</a> &mdash; You can avoid roaming charges by using WiFi exclusively. If you want to stay connected wherever you go, you can get a WiFi hotspot that works in the country you're traveling in. [The Monitor]</p> <p><a href="http://savingdollarsandsense.com/9-store-brand-items-that-are-better-than-their-name-brand-competitors/">9 Store Brand Items That Are Better Than Their Name-Brand Competitors</a> &mdash; When it comes to paper products like toilet paper and paper towels, Costco's Kirkland brand ranks right up there with their name brand counterparts. [Saving Dollars &amp; Sense]</p> <p><a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/article/spending/T063-C001-S001-save-on-back-to-school-shopping-with-tax-breaks.html">Sales Tax Holidays on Back-to-School Shopping in 2015</a> &mdash; Many states offer back-to-school sales tax holidays in late July or early August. See if your state is one of them! [Kiplinger]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://gradmoneymatters.com/money-making-ideas/5-free-apps-to-work-your-brain.html">5 Free Apps To Work Your Brain</a> &mdash; Solving puzzles helps stimulate different parts of the brain. Clockwork Brain offers many puzzles to choose from, allowing you to have fun while you work out your brain. [Grad Money Matters]</p> <p><a href="http://www.dontpayfull.com/blog/10-frugal-ways-to-make-your-deodorant-last-longer">10 Frugal Ways to Make Your Deodorant Last Longer</a> &mdash; Want to make your stick deodorant last the whole day? Prep your underarms with a bit a toothpaste as you shower. [Don't Pay Full]</p> <p><a href="http://www.onesmartdollar.com/4-budget-friendly-health-tips/">4 Budget-Friendly Health Tips</a> &mdash; Drink water instead of soda and other sugar drinks. Water costs less and is much better for your health. [One Smart Dollar]</p> <p><a href="http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/metrics-for-your-household-finances/">Metrics for your household finances</a> &mdash; These twelve numbers can give you a good idea of how you're doing financially. [Consumerism Commentary]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/our-kids-are-becoming-web-junkies">Our Kids are Becoming &quot;Web Junkies&quot;</a> &mdash; Internet addiction is becoming a big issue for kids today. It's important that you set clear rules on screen time and enforce them. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-simple-ways-to-save-more-worry-less">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-money-adjustments-you-should-make-mid-year">12 Money Adjustments You Should Make Mid-Year</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-personal-finance-milestones-every-20-and-30-year-old-should-hit">7 Personal Finance Milestones Every 20 and 30 Year Old Should Hit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-manage-your-finances-before-during-and-after-a-military-deployment">12 Easy Ways to Manage Your Finances Before, During, and After a Military Deployment</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/9-ways-to-save-money-on-your-cup-of-coffee">9 Ways to Save Money on Your Cup of Coffee</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance best money tips savings Tue, 21 Jul 2015 19:00:11 +0000 Amy Lu 1497168 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 Money Adjustments You Should Make Mid-Year http://www.wisebread.com/12-money-adjustments-you-should-make-mid-year <p>We're already more than halfway through another year &mdash; and already in the latter half of the decade (can you believe it!?) &mdash; which means fall and winter are right around the corner. As those seasons approach, you'll find yourself back to the grind, taking the kids to school and practices, buying school supplies, preparing for the holidays, and inevitably <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/38-ways-to-save-money-without-trying-much">shelling out bill after bill</a> while you're doing it. To help you best prepare for what's coming, let's take a look at your mid-year finances and find positive ways to improve before 2016.</p> <h2>1. Review Your Budget and Adjust as Necessary</h2> <p>There's no better place to start than at the beginning &mdash; and that's with your budget. Take a look at the budget you created at the beginning of the year (assuming you have one, of course; if you don't, create one today) and see where you're at financially. Are you bringing in the same amount of money as you were at the beginning of the year? More? Less? Have any of your expenses increased or decreased since that time? Are there expenses you can eliminate? Are there expenses that no longer exist? Ask yourself all these questions as you review your budget and adjust it accordingly so that it stays up-to-date and an accurate reflection of your financial situation.</p> <h2>2. Check Your Savings Plan to Keep it on Track</h2> <p>One of my regular New Year's resolutions is to set a reasonable and achievable savings goal to meet by December 31. I based the number I'd like to have in the bank by year's end on my income and budget, and I choose a goal that's challenging but not out of reach. (Setting the bar too high almost always ends in failure, so keep it manageable, even if it's meager.)</p> <p>If your savings plan isn't on course, figure out why and change direction. That doesn't necessarily mean that you have to make up for six months' worth of non-contribution to your savings account, but rather re-tooling the goal more realistically the second half of the year. Something is better than nothing, and hopefully you'll start off on the right foot next year after six months of habitual contribution.</p> <h2>3. Reevaluate Your Expenses and Make Cuts</h2> <p>This goes hand-in-hand with reviewing your budget, but sometimes we try to kid ourselves into thinking that small expenses &mdash; like smartphone apps, subscriptions, On Demand rentals, and more &mdash; are insignificant. They are if they are rare (like three to four times a year), but if you're spending money on these items on a regular basis, you need to check yourself.</p> <p>Also take a look at monthly charges, like gym and other memberships, and decide if they're <em>really</em> worth it. If you're not using these memberships regularly, cancel them &mdash; and if they're not cancellable (because you signed a contract, for instance), use them. You're paying for it, so you need to get your money's worth.</p> <h2>4. Start Holiday Shopping Early to Save More</h2> <p>We can go back and forth all day on when is the best time to shop for holiday gifts, but I will always maintain that it's midsummer. Like right now.</p> <p>First, some stores still have fall and winter accessories hanging on the racks (mostly in the clearance section), so you're already getting a great deal there. But then come the holiday sales, including Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, which only add to the savings. In fact, from my experience, even non-holiday weeks during the summer have produced amazing sales. I just received a marketing email from J. Crew Factory, for instance, touting up to 75% off the entire store, plus an additional 50% off clearance. I also just bought a ton of fun, colorful calf-length socks from Abercrombie &amp; Fitch, which were abundant and <em>deeply</em> discounted (from around $16 a pair to $2.50 a pair) in the store's clearance bins.</p> <p>That's not to say that there won't be great deals later in the year &mdash; there will be &mdash; but just a heads-up to keep your eyes open for gift items that are on super sale this time of year so you can save your time and money later on when you need it most.</p> <h2>5. Bank Your Savings</h2> <p>Ah, now here comes the fun part of all that money you're saving.</p> <p>Calculating your retail savings from all those early gifts you're buying and putting 50% of the difference in your savings account is a great way to build up your slush fund without overthinking it. The general premise of this savings tactic is to keep track of your savings from each shopping trip, whether it be from in-store discounts, savings apps, your own coupons &mdash; whatever &mdash; and putting half of that number in your savings account. You're still walking away a bandit, but now you have savings to show for it, too. You can tell me how amazing that feels later.</p> <h2>6. Renegotiate Your Financial Contracts Where Possible</h2> <p>All of us have financial contracts in our lives, and now is the time to renegotiate them to perhaps score a better rate, especially on technology.</p> <p>&quot;Many consumers forget that they can renegotiate their phone, Internet, and cable service contracts mid-year to secure a better monthly rate or receive free upgrades,&quot; says Clair Jones, tech expert at <a href="http://www.localinternetservice.com/">LocalInternetService.com</a>. &quot;During this time of year providers often experience a seasonal lull in sales, and many run specials to attract new customers and retain existing accounts. All you have to do is call and ask if there are any new promotions that could help you lower your bill.&quot;</p> <p>Pick up the phone.</p> <h2>7. Order Your Free Annual Credit Report</h2> <p>Every consumer is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus &mdash; Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. You should take advantage of these free reports (which you can get any time of year, and stagger them throughout the year, by the way) to stay on top of your credit rating and to review and follow up on any errors that you may find. It's important to note that these reports don't include your <em>credit score</em> &mdash; just your consumer activity.</p> <p>&quot;Your credit report is one of the most important steps in managing your money and finances,&quot; says Katie Ross, education and development manager for American Consumer Credit Counseling. &quot;You should check your credit report at least three times per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies and you can do this through <a href="http://www.annualcreditreport.com">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>. Your credit report is all part of building wealth and positive financial intentions along the way. Without a healthy credit report this too can impact your financial goals.&quot;</p> <h2>8. Start Preparing Your Taxes for Next Year</h2> <p>I know, I know &mdash; it seems like you just put your taxes in the mail. True, it wasn't that long ago, which is why it's probably fresh in your memory. This year, stay ahead of the curve by planning your taxes ahead of time. Keep your receipts organized, start an Excel sheet to track your expenses, and mind all those tax-deductible items that will save you big bucks on April 15.</p> <p>Sarah Nieschalk, enrolled agent for Tax Defense Network, a tax resolution company, offers a few quick tax tips that can save you money and headache in 2016:</p> <ul> <li>Give to a charity. Gifts to charities are tax deductible and you get the satisfaction of helping your fellow man. Don't donate just during the holidays. You can donate time, goods, and funds, and all are deductible.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Keep records of state, local, and personal property taxes. Believe it or not, paying those annoying taxes and fees are deductible at the end of every year. You might be leaving money on the table by not itemizing your deductions.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Take advantage of tax credits. Child care, adoption, education, energy-efficient home improvements, and more. Did you know that simply buying a hybrid vehicle could be a tax credit? You needed a new car anyways &mdash; why not get a credit for being awesome?</li> </ul> <h2>9. Revisit Your Auto Payments and Adjust Your Priorities</h2> <p>I love technology, but for some reason I never latched on to auto payments. Just something about it I don't like. Maybe it's the psychological factor of someone &mdash; or something, rather &mdash; taking my money opposed to me giving it to them. I'll let you know when I'm ready to pay, thankyouverymuch. Nonetheless, mid-year is an ideal time to revisit your auto-pay bills to make sure everything is on the up-and-up and to make any adjustment necessary.</p> <p>&quot;July is a great time to recheck those automatic payments that we have coming out of our checks and adjust savings and investment to match new priorities,&quot; says Jeremy Hallett, CEO of online life insurance agent Quotacy. Specifically, it's perhaps during the first half of the year something major changed in life &mdash; maybe a marriage, a new job, new house, or the addition of children. All of these are opportunities to update financial goals and plans, while also making sure you have adequate protections in place to care for loved ones.&quot;</p> <h2>10. Review Insurance Policies to Accommodate Changes</h2> <p>While you're revisiting your auto-pay bills, Hallett also suggests reviewing your insurance policies. His beat is life insurance, but it's not a bad idea to make sure your other policies don't require any updates either.</p> <p>&quot;As major life events happen, it's imperative that individuals review their life insurance to ensure that their families are adequately protected,&quot; Hallett says. &quot;As a general rule of thumb, we recommend that life insurance cover 10x income plus any major debts, like a mortgage or upcoming kid's college. And it doesn't cost much. For less than $300 a year, a 35-year-old can get a $500,000, 20-year term policy.&quot;</p> <h2>11. Scour the House for Ways to Cut the Clutter and Make Fast Cash</h2> <p>Call me a weirdo, but one of my favorite activities is going through the house and finding things to sell. I loathe any kind of clutter, but I love to make money, so it totally makes sense. If you want to fluff up your savings account or just add a few more bucks to your budget, sift through your junk and unwanted items and decide what you can part with. These days there are dozens of ways to easily sell items, like on eBay, Amazon, and Facebook. There are even specific services online that will pay you for your technology, clothing, and more. It honestly couldn't be easier to turn trash into treasure these days.</p> <h2>12. Examine Why You Haven't Reached Any Financial Goals</h2> <p>And finally, take this mid-year opportunity to assess why, perhaps, you didn't reach some of the financial goals you set at the beginning of the year. What got in the way? Why did they fall by the wayside? How can you prevent this from happening again? And how can you get back on track? These are all important questions to ask yourself if you had good financial intentions six months ago but now find yourself stalled.</p> <p>&quot;Without some examination of the first six months and possible change in behavior and goals for the second six months, there is a strong chance the rest of year will be unsuccessful too,&quot; says Mike Brady, president of Generosity Wealth Management. &quot;I'm a big believer in having goals that are attainable, and the personal satisfaction that comes from it. Since half the year is over, pick one thing to accomplish in the next six months that you can absolutely achieve. Perhaps it's paying off a credit card, or six months of continuous savings. Instead of trying to do five or six things at once and being unsuccessful at all of them, just pick one or two things and fully commit to completing them, and then start 2016 with two or three other things. Build gently so they become real habits, instead of over ambitious New Year's resolutions that don't stick.&quot;</p> <p><em>Do you have other mid-year money moves we should make right now? Let me know in the comments below.</em></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/12-money-adjustments-you-should-make-mid-year">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sittin-on-dubs-the-andrew-jackson-proposal">Sittin&#039; on Dubs: The Andrew Jackson Proposal</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/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Optimize Your IRA and 401(k)</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/plan-for-your-wants">Plan for your wants</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-state-sales-tax-holiday-is-coming">The State Sales Tax Holiday is coming...</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/getting-by-on-a-lot-less-money-3-ways-its-easier-than-you-think">Getting by on a lot less money: 3 ways it&#039;s easier than you think</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance budget credit reports mid-year review savings shopping taxes Mon, 20 Jul 2015 13:00:12 +0000 Mikey Rox 1490982 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: How to Save Your First $500 http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-how-to-save-your-first-500 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-how-to-save-your-first-500" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_saving_money_000050946366.jpg" alt="Man learning how to save his first $500" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on how to save $500, the best time to buy a TV, and blogging tips for beginners.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.moneyunder30.com/save-your-first-500-dollars">How To Save Your First $500</a> &mdash; Look for places where you can cut $10 a month, like subscriptions to streaming services and apps. [Money Under 30]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2015/0713/When-is-the-best-time-to-buy-a-TV">When is the best time to buy a TV?</a> &mdash; If you're shopping for a new TV, wait until November to make the purchase. You'll find the best TV deals in the days leading up to Black Friday. [The Monitor]</p> <p><a href="http://www.carefulcents.com/start-blogging-beginner/">5 Steps to Blogging Success: How to Start Blogging as a Beginner</a> &mdash; Don't think of other writers as competition. View them as your colleagues, and start building a solid network of writers and bloggers whom you can help and will support you in return. [Careful Cents]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Important-Things-Spend-Time-Your-20s-35732202">Invest Your Time in These 13 Things While You're in Your 20s</a> &mdash; If you still have any bad friends (you know the ones), it's time to drop them. Focus on building meaningful relationships with friends who will stick around and be a positive force in your life. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/plan-overcome-summer-budget-busters.html">My plan to enjoy summer without overspending</a> &mdash; Don't leave the house on an empty stomach! Make sure everyone has eaten, and bring snacks and water in case someone gets hungry or thirsty while you're out. [Bargaineering]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/article/spending/T059-C011-S003-hidden-airline-fees-and-hotel-fees-continue-to-vex.html">How to Avoid Two New (and Vexing) Travel Fees</a> &mdash; When booking airline tickets, keep an eye out for advance seating fees.&nbsp;[Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href="http://blog.readyforzero.com/4-cheap-weekend-projects-sell-house/">4 Cheap Weekend Projects To Sell Your House</a> &mdash; Your kitchen cabinets may only need a fresh coat of paint and new hardware to look brand new. [ReadyForZero]</p> <p><a href="http://moneyning.com/debt/4-rules-to-follow-to-tackle-student-loans/">4 Rules To Follow To Tackle Student Loans</a> &mdash; If you have both private and federal loans, work on paying off the private loans first. Private loans tend to have a higher interest rate. [MoneyNing]</p> <p><a href="https://www.listenmoneymatters.com/ethical-investing/">Ethical Investing</a> &mdash; If you want your investment to make a difference in someone's life, consider making micro-loans through an organization like Kiva. [Listen Money Matters]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/the-easiest-way-to-keep-kids-brains-active-this-summer">The Easiest Way to Keep Kids&rsquo; Brains Active this Summer</a> &mdash; Activity books allow kids to learn without realizing they're learning! [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-how-to-save-your-first-500">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-your-toiletries-for-cheap-or-even-free">6 Ways to Get your Toiletries for Cheap or Even Free!</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/8-savings-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Savings Mistakes Even Smart People Make</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/common-currency-a-primer">Common Currency: A Primer</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/suze-orman-tells-us-to-pay-only-the-minimum-on-credit-cards-wait-what">Suze Orman Tells Us To Pay ONLY The Minimum On Credit Cards. Wait, What?!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living best money tips savings Tue, 14 Jul 2015 19:00:11 +0000 Amy Lu 1489261 at http://www.wisebread.com Is Your Emergency Fund Costing You Money? http://www.wisebread.com/is-your-emergency-fund-costing-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-your-emergency-fund-costing-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/emergency_fund_000051326450.jpg" alt="Find out if your emergency fund is too big" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all know that an emergency fund is an essential tool in personal money management. And even newbies to personal finance can probably tell you how big an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-your-emergency-fund-big-enough-to-keep-you-afloat">emergency fund</a> should be &mdash; large enough to cover about three to six months of expenses.</p> <p>But what if that rule of thumb is incorrect? If you have an emergency fund that is larger than you need, it could be costing you.</p> <p>Here is what you need to know about figuring out the emergency fund sweet spot for your budget, and why it matters so much.</p> <h2>1. What Constitutes an Emergency?</h2> <p>The typical advice for creating an emergency fund assumes that you would need this fund in case of job loss. That's why the recommendation is to have several months of living expenses set aside, and why Suze Orman in particular suggests that you need <a href="http://www.suzeorman.com/resource-center/suze-orman-money-tips-video-collection/what-ifs-of-life/">eight month's expenses</a>, since an average period of unemployment lasts about 32 weeks.</p> <p>But generally, people who access their emergency fund need the money for an unexpected one-time expense, such as a car repair or medical emergency. This is a far cry from the kind of ongoing emergency you would be facing after a job loss &mdash; and you have much more leeway to handle such a gradual emergency creatively.</p> <p>That's why it's a smart strategy to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-family-lives-well-and-even-owns-a-home-on-just-11-an-hour">create a Plan B budget</a> that you could institute in case you lose your job. If you know ahead of time what specific budget items could be struck from your monthly expenses, a smaller emergency fund could handle unemployment much longer than the typical advice would have you believe.</p> <p>In addition, having a Plan B budget gives you options when there is a small financial setback &mdash; such has having to take a pay cut, for instance &mdash; without you having to dip into the emergency fund.</p> <p>It's also unlikely that a job loss emergency will mean you are completely without a paycheck for several months. You might be able to find temporary or freelance work or draw some unemployment benefits, while also seriously reducing some of your expenses.</p> <h2>2. Expecting the Unexpected</h2> <p>So you know that you don't need a large emergency fund in case of a job loss. What about those unexpected one-time expenses? It's not possible to know exactly when your refrigerator will give up the ghost, or when you will need expensive dental surgery.</p> <p>Except that it is possible to plan ahead for most unexpected expenses. According to a 2007 survey by the Pew Research Center, 34% of people <a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/Saving.pdf">experienced unexpected expenses</a> in the previous year. These were the kinds of unexpected costs they faced:</p> <ul> <li>34% had medical expenses,</li> <li>24% had car expenses,</li> <li>20% had home and housing expenses,</li> <li>9% had life event and child expenses, and</li> <li>The remaining expenses were comprised of work, travel and vacation-related, pets, and taxes.</li> </ul> <p>Each of these types of &quot;unpredictable&quot; expenses is actually fairly inevitable. No matter how healthy you are, it's likely that you will need some sort of medical care eventually. If you own a car or a home, you need to maintain it. Though you might not know when to expect a birth, a death, or a wedding, you do know that they will happen.</p> <p>So instead of treating these sorts of situations as emergencies, it makes more sense to create a targeted budget category for any expense that might otherwise take you by surprise. For instance, you might create a car repair budget category into which you put aside $100 per month. Then when you have an &quot;unexpected&quot; repair, you will have money already set aside for that purpose.</p> <h2>3. The Cost of a Big Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Just because it's unlikely that you will need six months' worth of expenses set aside, and your unexpected emergencies can be mitigated with targeted budget categories, what's the harm in keeping a large emergency fund? It can feel good to have the security of a lot of cash on hand.</p> <p>Unfortunately, there is a major cost for that sense of security: inflation.</p> <p>The cost of inflation averages about 3% per year. Even the best high-yield savings accounts currently offer an annual interest rate of 1% or less. That means inflation is eating 2% of your emergency fund with every year that passes &mdash; and inflation, like interest, compounds. For instance, if you have $15,000 in a savings account with a 1% APR and 3% inflation, your money will only be worth $10,133.84 of today's dollars in twenty years. (If you would like to check my math, this is the <a href="http://www.moneychimp.com/articles/econ/inflation_calculator.htm">inflation calculator</a> I used.)</p> <p>If you never experience a job loss and use targeted budgeting categories, it is very possible that you might not need to use your $15,000 savings account at any point during those twenty years. You could have done something much better with that money.</p> <h2>4. Emergency Fund Best Practices</h2> <p>It makes sense to always keep some money in a savings account so you can access the funds quickly, just in case. But above a certain emergency fund ceiling, a smart move is to invest extra cash that would otherwise collect dust in your emergency fund. In particular, parking that money in a low-fee mutual fund can help you grow your money, while still keeping the funds available in the event of that mythical job loss.</p> <p>The question is, where should you place the ceiling for your savings account emergency fund?</p> <p>It all depends on what amount of money on hand helps you sleep at night and how much you otherwise have invested. If you get twitchy without a fat savings account, and you have a good handle on your retirement and other investment accounts, there's nothing wrong with having a large emergency fund.</p> <p>If on the other hand you still haven't set up your 401(k) at work (but are otherwise not in severe financial distress), then it makes more sense to keep your emergency fund ceiling relatively low while you work on building up your investments.</p> <p>It's also important to note that contributions to your emergency fund should be a consistent line item in your monthly budget. Staying in the habit of always putting that money away will help you to replenish the fund after an emergency, and give you another monthly amount of investable money once you reach your emergency fund savings goal.</p> <h2>Too Much of a Good Thing</h2> <p>Saving too much is generally not the biggest problem among American workers. But those who do work to protect themselves financially might be taking their good habits a little too far when it comes to their emergency funds.</p> <p>Maintaining the right size emergency fund may require a little more work on your part &mdash; from figuring out a Plan B budget to anticipating surprise expenses to figuring out how to make your money grow &mdash; but that extra work will more than pay off in your sense of financial security.</p> <p><em>How big is your emergency fund?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-your-emergency-fund-costing-you-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-life-is-amazing-with-an-emergency-fund">11 Ways Life Is Amazing With an Emergency Fund</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/managing-your-short-term-money">Managing Your Short-Term Money</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/12-money-adjustments-you-should-make-mid-year">12 Money Adjustments You Should Make Mid-Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-personal-finance-milestones-every-20-and-30-year-old-should-hit">7 Personal Finance Milestones Every 20 and 30 Year Old Should Hit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance emergency fund job loss savings unemployment Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:00:26 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1471157 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Make Adoption Affordable http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-make-adoption-affordable <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-make-adoption-affordable" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_adoption_000035736418.jpg" alt="Family finding ways to afford adoption" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a perfect world, you would meet the love of you life, get married, have a couple of kids, and embark on a booming career that afforded you many great luxuries in life. Unfortunately, the fairy tale doesn't always work out that way.</p> <p>Many couples are faced with the reality that they are unable to have to kids for one reason or another. Not only that, the cost of adoption has skyrocketed, with many adoptions topping $40,00 in costs. When was the last time you had an extra $40,000 lying around?</p> <p>There's no reason to go broke when you adopt. Here are five ways to afford adoption so you can get your family started right now.</p> <h2>1. Grants</h2> <p>Adoption grants are generally based on some sort of financial need, but for those that qualify, they can provide some much needed cash. A grant is a fantastic way to fund your adoption because they don't have to be paid back&hellip;ever. Some organizations are very specific about the qualifications for grants, while others remain more open. No matter what your situation is, there is an adoption grant waiting for you.</p> <p>Adoption grants require you to be working with a licensed agency and have a home study completed before you apply for the grant. The average cost of a home study is around $2,500, and you can use this home study for grants and loans as needed.</p> <p>There are hundreds of organizations that offer grants, and a good place to start your search is on <a href="http://www.fundyouradoption.tv">Fund Your Adoption</a>. Lori and Jeremy started Fund Your Adoption in 2012 after being swamped with details of trying to find ways to afford adoption. Fund Your Adoption offers a ton of great tips and resources for families who can't quite manage the expense adoption, and loads of wisdom through their experience.</p> <p>Here are a few of the most popular grant organizations:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.helpusadopt.org">Help Us Adopt</a> &mdash; this organization offers adoption grants for everyone, married or single, and regardless of religion.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.giftofadoption.org">Gift of Adoption Fund</a> &mdash; this organization offers grants ranging from $2K&ndash;$5K and accepts all individuals.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.showhope.com">Show Hope</a> &mdash; this organization awards grants averaging $5K.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.achildwaits.org">A Child Waits Foundation</a> &mdash; this organization awards grants ranging from $1K&ndash;$5K and offers grants for everyone.</li> </ul> <h2>2. Crowdfunding</h2> <p>Crowdfunding is no longer reserved for Kickstarter type projects funding the latest and greatest gizmo. It has now become a popular tool to raise money to adopt children, too. All you need is a great network of friends and family (or other potential donors), and a compelling story.</p> <p>Companies like <a href="http://purecharity.com">Pure Charity</a> offer an easy-to-use platform to raise an unlimited amount of funds online. Pure Charity takes 5% of your fundraising to pay for fees and administration costs. In exchange, they offer a site with tools like videos and how-tos, and any funds raised can go directly to an adoption agency that you name. This ensures that the funds raised might also qualify to be tax-deductible to the donor. (Make sure you check with your CPA before you set up your campaign to qualify for tax-deductibility.)</p> <p>Your crowdfunding page is sure to make for an awesome show-and-tell story for your adopted child.</p> <h2>3. Tax Credits</h2> <p>Most people adopting don't realize that they will qualify to receive a tax credit. In 2015, you can claim up to $13,400 in adoption tax credits for qualified adoption expenses. Expenses include a long list of costs, but cover things like adoption and court fees, as well as travel expenses. The tax credit works for all types of adoption, including international, domestic, and foster-to-adopt programs.</p> <p>If you are adopting Internationally, you will usually need to spend a few weeks in country before you are allowed to take your child home with you. The tax credit could certainly help make a dent in those expensive costs. You will want to make sure you keep very good records, receipts, and details of any costs that you expect to use towards the tax credit. You can hand all those documents over to your CPA at tax time to make sure you are applying the right costs.</p> <p>One word of caution: the adoption tax credit is a heavily audited item on tax returns. Many people have abused this tax credit and falsified information. The best advice is to use a CPA or accountant the year that you file for the tax credit in case you are audited.</p> <h2>4. Loans</h2> <p>If you are unable to secure grant money, or just need to fill a gap in funds for adoption, loans can be the answer. You'll probably want to exhaust grants and any crowdfunding ideas before you explore loans, unless the idea of putting your adoption story online sounds like such a terrifying proposition that you'd prefer to assume debt, instead.</p> <p>There are two types of loans &mdash; interest-free and low interest. As with any loan, you need to make sure that you can afford the monthly payments once the loan is in the repayment mode.</p> <p>Interest-free loans are always the preferred method of funding, and there are a couple of great options. <a href="http://www.abbafund.org">ABBA Fund</a> offers loans ranging from $6,000&ndash;$8,000 for Christian families, while the <a href="http://www.hflasf.org">Hebrew Free Loan Association</a> offers loans up to $15,000 for Jewish families.</p> <p>If you can't get an interest-free loan, low interest loans will be your next stop. One of the most competitive interest rates is with A Child Waits, which offers up to $10,000 in funding and charges 5% interest. You have a five-year repayment window, but no penalty for prepayment of the loan. That is still lower interest than most credit cards would offer, but certainly higher than some other options you might have available.</p> <h2>5. Fundraising</h2> <p>If all else fails, good ol' fundraising might do the trick. There are stories after stories of couples that raised enough money for adoption just through fundraising events alone.</p> <p>Some of the more popular are car washes, dinners, auctions, and T-shirt selling campaigns. Credit card rewards points are also a great way to fund adoption. If you configure your spending properly, you could earn a significant amount each year in rewards points that can be traded in for cash and used towards expenses.</p> <p>These are a few of the most popular ways to afford adoption, but certainly not the only ones.</p> <p><em>What are some of the ways you've used to save money adopting?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/shannah-game">Shannah Game</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-make-adoption-affordable">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-signs-you-are-teaching-your-kids-bad-financial-habits">4 Signs You Are Teaching Your Kids Bad Financial Habits</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/great-financial-gifts-for-children">Great Financial Gifts for Children</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-money-adjustments-you-should-make-mid-year">12 Money Adjustments You Should Make Mid-Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-time-management-skills-that-will-help-your-kid-win-at-school">10 Time-Management Skills That Will Help Your Kid Win at School</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-having-a-family-boosts-your-career">6 Ways Having a Family Boosts Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Family adoption children fundraisers grants loans savings Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:00:24 +0000 Shannah Game 1470990 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Money Mistakes to Stop Making by 50 http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-mistakes-to-stop-making-by-50 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-money-mistakes-to-stop-making-by-50" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_reviewing_finances_000024989276.jpg" alt="Couple learning which money mistakes to avoid by 50" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're in your 50s, it's time to fasten your seatbelt and begin making your final descent towards your financial goals. And if you stop making these five <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-savings-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">money mistakes</a> now, soon you should be able to put your finances on autopilot.</p> <h2>1. Not Maxing Out Retirement Accounts or Making Catch-Up Contributions</h2> <p>Your retirement accounts offer the biggest tax incentive for your money. Hopefully, you're not only making the maximum allowable contributions, but are also taking advantage of catch-up contributions. In 2015, persons age 50 and older are eligible for yearly catch-up contributions in the amounts of $6,000 for 401(k) accounts and $1,000 for IRAs.</p> <h2>2. Not Paying Off Large Purchase Items</h2> <p>It's time to pay off those big-ticket items. Your mortgage and automobile titles need to be free and clear of encumbrances. Typically, these will be a household's two biggest expenses, and they can easily become burdensome for anyone living on a fixed-income.</p> <h2>3. Not Getting Insurance Policies</h2> <p>Failing to adequately insulate your family from life events will dramatically impact your finances. Make sure your family has enough life insurance, proper health coverage, property insurance, and disability insurance. Also, consider adding long-term care to your insurance policy. Long-term care coverage is expensive, but will save you money in the long run should you or your spouse ever need assisted care. All or a portion of the costs for these services would be covered.</p> <h2>4. Taking on New Debt</h2> <p>By now, I hope you've begun enjoying the peace of mind and freedom that stems from being virtually debt free, because your major debts should be almost paid off. And being a few short years away from retirement is not a good a time to start assuming new debts &mdash; lines of credit, student loans, second mortgages, car loans, etc. One of the biggest debt challenges facing middle-aged Americans today is helping children with student loan debt. The best solution for this is to put as much of the loans in your child's name, assuming only the portion that they can not reasonably afford to pay. When that's not an option, consolidate and pay them off as soon as possible.</p> <h2>5. Not Rebalancing Assets</h2> <p>One of the most important things you can do to help your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-important-thing-youre-probably-not-doing-with-your-portfolio">investment portfolio is rebalance</a> it. As you near your target retirement age, you should start shifting your assets towards more conservative investments. Based on your age, and depending on your financial goals, a good asset allocation strategy might look something like, stocks 51%, bonds 13%, and cash 36%.</p> <p>As retirement draws nearer, it's important to get your financial house in order to maximize your remaining working years. Stop making these money mistakes now so that 60 looks even brighter than today.</p> <p><em>Are you making any of these financial mistakes? What are you doing to correct them?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-mistakes-to-stop-making-by-50">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-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-financial-mistakes-to-stop-making-by-age-40">6 Financial Mistakes to Stop Making by Age 40</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-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-suze-orman">The 5 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Suze Orman</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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-biggest-financial-decisions-in-your-20s">The 6 Biggest Financial Decisions in Your 20s</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance advice debt money mistakes retirement savings Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:00:19 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1469493 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Personal Finance Milestones Every 20 and 30 Year Old Should Hit http://www.wisebread.com/7-personal-finance-milestones-every-20-and-30-year-old-should-hit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-personal-finance-milestones-every-20-and-30-year-old-should-hit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/young_woman_money_000062037450.jpg" alt="Woman in her 20s hitting personal finance milestones" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you know if you're on track with your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-paying-off-student-loans-early-can-boost-your-finances">financial goals</a>? Where are you in comparison to other young adults in their 20s and 30s? Take inventory of your career and finances with this quick checklist. Here's a list of the top seven milestones that every young adult should strive towards.</p> <h2>1. Be Debt Free (at Least Once)</h2> <p>An important milestone that every young adult should hit is to become debt free at least once. I experienced this when I was going through a bad divorce at 25 years old. I added up all my consumer debts and created a plan to pay off all $14,000 of it in 14 months.</p> <p>It was the first step in my plan to quit my job and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-must-do-before-you-quit-your-job">become self-employed</a>. Becoming debt free at least once gives you the perspective of how difficult it is to undo any bad financial decisions, and an understanding of living life without instant gratification.</p> <h2>2. Regularly Check Your Credit Report</h2> <p>In order to start your financial life off on the right foot, it's smart to know how to check your credit report. Keeping track of any credit errors or reporting mistakes will ensure that the credit history you're building is accurate. You don't want to be caught off guard when you apply for a new job, or buy your first home.</p> <p>Get into a routine of regularly checking your credit report, and keeping track of your credit score. If you find errors or mistakes, you can get them corrected so they won't taint your credit.</p> <h2>3. Have a Working Emergency Fund</h2> <p>We all know the importance of having an emergency fund, but saving up a good cash reserve isn't always easy. After setting parameters for what constitutes an emergency expense, there will no doubt be times when you'll have to pull out the funds to cover these unexpected costs. Now you're faced with having to put the money back into the account for later use.</p> <h2>4. Start Contributing to Retirement</h2> <p>No matter how small your contributions are, you must start saving for retirement now! Time is the most precious investment tool on your side, so the sooner you start saving for the future, the more time you'll have to earn a decent return.</p> <p>With the rise of robo advisors and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-microsaving-tools-to-help-you-start-saving-now">other microsaving tools</a>, you can start putting away as little as $20 per month in a Roth IRA or other investment account. The point is to open an account and start putting away <em>something</em>, and create a regular habit of saving money.</p> <h2>5. Track Your Spending</h2> <p>Budgeting. It's not a word that many of us like to hear, but it's nonetheless a vital milestone in becoming a young adult. Tracking your spending and creating a budget plan will allow you to spend money <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/simple-living-determining-your-priorities">based on your priorities</a> instead of frivolously spending it on stuff that you don't really value.</p> <p>A few of the responsibilities of being an adult include paying your bills on time and sticking to a budget. That's the only way you'll be able to reach all of your financial goals, like traveling, saving up for a big purchase, making a career transition, and putting away money for a comfortable retirement.</p> <h2>6. Establish a Side Income</h2> <p>The economy and workforce has changed, there's no doubt about that. In order to adapt with that change, many young adults are learning new skills and figuring out how to build their careers. Having multiple streams of income will help you spread out the risk of lost income.</p> <p>Do you have any hobbies that you can turn into a side hustle? What skills do you possess that can help you earn more money? Outside of your day job, what other things can you pursue to establish profitable income streams? This is an important milestone for every 20 and 30 year old.</p> <h2>7. Know Your Net Worth</h2> <p>The definition of net worth is simply the combination of your total assets minus any debts you owe. This figure will be your total net worth value, which could either be positive or negative depending on whether or not you have a lot of debt (say, from student loans) or a good amount of assets (like, savings or investment accounts).</p> <p>If you don't know your current net worth, do a simple calculation today. Then keep updating this figure (using a spreadsheet or other net worth tracker) every quarter so you stay up-to-date on your overall financial situation.</p> <p><em>What milestones are you working towards, and which ones have you checked off the list?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-personal-finance-milestones-every-20-and-30-year-old-should-hit">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-manage-your-finances-before-during-and-after-a-military-deployment">12 Easy Ways to Manage Your Finances Before, During, and After a Military Deployment</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-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-suze-orman">The 5 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Suze Orman</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-6-biggest-financial-decisions-in-your-20s">The 6 Biggest Financial Decisions in Your 20s</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/conspicuous-spending-fading-to-black">Conspicuous Spending: Fading to Black</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance milestones millennials money savings young adults Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:00:13 +0000 Carrie Smith 1468493 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Suze Orman http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-suze-orman <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-suze-orman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_thumbs_up_000040930446.jpg" alt="Woman using best pieces of financial wisdom from Suze Orman" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Personal finance expert and television personality Suze Orman has been called a &quot;force in the world of personal finance&quot; and a &quot;one-woman financial advice powerhouse&quot; by USA Today.</p> <p>This is an amazing achievement for an individual that at the age of 30 was still a waitress making $400 a month. That demonstrates the amazing drive of the woman who later became an investment executive, obtained a Certified Financial Planner certification, and wrote seven consecutive New York Times best sellers.</p> <p>To help you jumpstart your financial strategy, here are the five best pieces of financial wisdom from Suze Orman.</p> <h2>1. Insure People First</h2> <p>In Oprah's <em>O Magazine</em>, Orman established a set of <a href="http://www.oprah.com/money/Suze-Ormans-Twelve-Steps-to-Wealth-Step">12 steps to wealth</a>. In step number eight, she lays out a useful rule of thumb to tackle insurance decisions, &quot;People first, then money, then things.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;If a child, a spouse, a life partner, or a parent depends on you and your income, you need life insurance,&quot; says Orman. You wouldn't want to create an overwhelming financial burden on people who count on you for living expenses.</p> <p>Let's imagine that you are the sole breadwinner and provide for your spouse and two toddlers. If you were to take out a $300,000 mortgage and pass away a year from the date of the purchase, could your spouse handle all of the monthly living expenses, including mortgage payments? If your answer is no, you need life insurance to secure the income of your family in case of your absence. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-life-insurance-isnt-just-for-old-people?ref=seealso">5 Reasons Why Life Insurance Isn't Just for Old People</a>)</p> <h2>2. Check Fees of Investment Funds</h2> <p>&quot;Some of the most important things to look for when checking underneath a fund's hood are its fees,&quot; writes Orman in <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594482241/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1594482241&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=PWRPDYX3FLBJJVJ6">The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous &amp; Broke</a>.</p> <p>There are two studies that support her argument.</p> <p>First, a study from Morningstar (an investment research and investment management firm) showed that <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704268004575417614035814700">using low fees</a> as a guide would give investors better results than even Morningstar's own star-rating system.</p> <p>Second, a study of more than 1,800 mutual funds found that &quot;investment expenses almost completely explain persistence in equity mutual funds' mean and risk-adjusted returns.&quot;</p> <p>So, the next time that you have to choose mutual funds for either your 401(k) or investment account, head straight to the section detailing fees on the prospectus. The lower the fees, the better the returns.</p> <h2>3. Cut Back on Small Expenses</h2> <p>A nickel here and a dime there &mdash; it all adds up by the end of the month.</p> <p>Orman is well known for pushing people to look for ways to save, even if it's just a little bit. &quot;Look everywhere you can to cut a little bit from your expenses. It will all add up to a meaningful sum.&quot;</p> <p>Take Millennials, for example. We may complain that we don't have enough money after paying bills and student loans, yet we make up <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/millennials-and-wine-a-quirky-relationship/2013/10/21/52ce8ca8-35f3-11e3-be86-6aeaa439845b_story.html">29% of the U.S. adults</a> drinking wine several times a week. Even worse, Millennials are the group most likely willing to spend more than $20 per wine bottle. Assuming that you drink a $20 bottle a week, you're spending about $80 a month in wine. If you were to take that $80 every month and put in a mutual fund with an 8% return compounded annually, you would end up with $45,812.80 after 20 years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-facts-millennials-should-know-about-retirement-planning?ref=seeealso">5 Facts Millennials Should Know About Retirement Planning</a>)</p> <p>Can't live without wine? Then just cut your monthly consumption in half. Saving $40 every month and depositing in the same investment accounts would yield $22,906.40 after 20 years.</p> <h2>4. Don't Put Yourself on Sale</h2> <p>In her million-copy bestseller, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0812981316/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0812981316&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=QDRN4PAW77JUCVIA">Women &amp; Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny</a>, Orman advises women not to treat themselves like they're on sale. &quot;When you devalue what you do, it becomes inevitable that you &mdash; and those around you &mdash; devalue who you are,&quot; she warns.</p> <p>This advice is not only applicable to women but also to several others:</p> <ul> <li>Individuals that decide to become full-time freelancers have a hard time figuring out what's a fair rate. While taking on a $20 assignment that takes you about one hour may not seem that bad, you should only take the assignment if that rate covers your living and business expenses, taxes, and retirement savings per hour. Here's a useful calculator that breaks down all necessary criteria to <a href="http://hourlyrate.beewits.com">determine your hourly rate</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>More than 60% of Millennials <a href="http://time.com/money/3855869/millennials-first-job-salary/">don't negotiate the salary offer</a> from their first employers. While first-time employees often think that negotiating their first salary makes them less desirable to employers, the reality is that 75% of employers could raise a starting salary by 5% to 10%. Given that our first salaries have the greatest opportunity to benefit from the power of compounding, Millennials may be leaving up to 10% of potential contributions to their nest eggs on the table.</li> </ul> <p>Take Orman's advice and don't settle for less than you rightfully deserve; remember that self worth equals net worth.</p> <h2>5. Consolidate Debt the Right Way</h2> <p>Getting rid of credit card debt is so important to Orman that she suggests getting out of debt before even investing for retirement. In the past, transferring a balance from a high-interest card to one with a lower interest rate was a no-brainer. The balance transfer fee was often capped at $75. However, things have changed over the years.</p> <p>&quot;As you'll learn by inspecting the promo terms, the fee is often 3% of the amount being transferred,&quot; Orman warns about what she calls the &quot;<a href="http://www.oprah.com/money/Suze-Orman-Best-Advice-from-2012">balance transfer blunder</a>.&quot; Assuming that 3% transfer fee, transferring $10,000 from your old card to a new one would cost you $300 right away.</p> <p>Consolidating your debt into a single card may be beneficial as long you do your homework:</p> <ul> <li>Find out the details of the balance transfer fee. Some cards may offer a 0% APR but then hit you with an up to 5% balance transfer fee. Determine whether the transaction cost cancels out potential savings.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't close your old credit card. The length of your credit history makes up 15% of your FICO credit score. Closing a credit card, especially if it's your oldest card, will lower the average age of your credit accounts and undermine your credit score. Just hide that old card from yourself and don't use it at all.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Find out the duration of the promotional balance transfer. That lower APR is often a teaser rate that lasts only only a few months.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Figure out if APR after the end of promotional one would be lower, equal, or higher than your current one. The APR at the end of the promotional period should be lower than your current one, otherwise that APR may cancel out what you saved.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Maximize your payments during the lower-rate period. If your interest rate is now 0%, then a $100 payment pays off $100 of your principal. Take advantage of this period and, ideally, plan to pay off your balance during this time.</li> </ul> <p><em>What are other great pieces of financial wisdom have you learned from Suze Orman?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-suze-orman">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-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-experts-people-in-their-40s-should-follow">5 Financial Experts People in Their 40s Should Follow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-oprah-winfrey">The 3 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Oprah Winfrey</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-personal-finance-milestones-every-20-and-30-year-old-should-hit">7 Personal Finance Milestones Every 20 and 30 Year Old Should Hit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-manage-your-finances-before-during-and-after-a-military-deployment">12 Easy Ways to Manage Your Finances Before, During, and After a Military Deployment</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance advice money savings Suze Orman Mon, 29 Jun 2015 13:00:13 +0000 Damian Davila 1467222 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Best Websites to Help You Retire Early http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-websites-to-help-you-retire-early <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-best-websites-to-help-you-retire-early" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_busy_at_work_000029166448.jpg" alt="Woman using best websites for retiring early" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've likely heard dire warnings that many Americans may never be able to retire at their current level of meager savings. But you can beat these odds and even retire early if you structure your life and finances properly. And the sound (though sometimes quirky) suggestions of online <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-retirement-rules-you-should-be-breaking">early retirement</a> sensations like Mr. Money Mustache can help you get there.</p> <p>If you're interested in achieving financial freedom and independent wealth at an early age, check out his website and these four other early retirement blog favorites.</p> <h2>1. Mr. Money Mustache</h2> <p>An aggressive saver and index-fund investor, Pete, aka <a href="http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/">Mr. Money Mustache</a>, and his wife retired in 2005 while in their <em>30s</em>. Frustrated with questions about his money-saving techniques, he decided to share his knowledge through his website.</p> <p>Mr. Money Mustache dissects the rationale and habits of early retirees, fights against hyper-consumption, and advances the early retirement lifestyle. He doesn't mind being viewed as different or even controversial as evidenced by articles such as &quot;What Does Your Work Truck Say About You?,&quot; &quot;Chasing Electrical Demons to Cut Your Power Bill by 80%,&quot; and &quot;Great News: You're Allowed to Have Only One Kid!&quot;</p> <p>As a (tongue-in-cheek) cult leader, he has assembled a significant number of members who bond to his fanaticism for achieving &quot;Financial Freedom Through Badassity.&quot; Learn from fellow &quot;mustachians&quot; by posing questions and exploring collective wisdom in his forum, one of the most valuable sections of this website.</p> <h2>2. FinancialMentor</h2> <p>Former hedge fund investment manager turned financial coach Todd R. Tresidder offers a wealth of resources for aspiring early retirees at <a href="http://financialmentor.com/">FinancialMentor</a>. Todd lived simply and invested smartly in his youth while working in the financial services industry, achieving millionaire status and retiring at age 35.</p> <p>Today, Todd enjoys financial freedom while mentoring others along a path of accumulating wealth, developing multiple streams of income, and experiencing the personal transformation that happens as a result of financial independence. His website contains free resources, which include retirement calculators, articles like &quot;12 Tips to Build Wealth for Early Retirement,&quot; and podcasts with financial and retirement experts, such as <a href="http://financialmentor.com/podcast/automatic-income/10653">Wade Pfau</a>, PhD, CFA, and Professor of Retirement Income with the American College of Financial Services.</p> <p>You can also discover paid resources through the site, such as Todd's 60 Minute Financial Solutions book series that includes <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0093CPJ9S/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0093CPJ9S&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=DKZ5EHDTZ3MG2YLL">How Much Do I Need to Retire?</a></p> <p>Todd breaks down and simplifies complex financial topics, and, when appropriate, disavows conventional wisdom. Further, he provides you with actionable steps to achieve financial freedom focused largely on securities investing.</p> <h2>3. The Military Guide</h2> <p>Retired veteran and the author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1570233195/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1570233195&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=H2GDKWHKW2AHVODI">The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement</a>, Doug Nordman offers finance-related insights for the unique needs of the military community at&nbsp;<a href="http://the-military-guide.com/">The Military Guide</a> website. Doug opted for early retirement after 20 years of active service, passing up the opportunity for a bridge career involving transition to the civilian workforce.</p> <p>In his blog, Doug confesses that he made lots of mistakes in his personal financial life. Nevertheless, diligent and consistent savings, along with a military pension, allowed him to retire early. Today, he spends time surfing in Hawaii, traveling, writing, and promoting his book (royalties benefit military charities).</p> <p>His engaging and self-deprecating style allows you to learn from his experiences, as evidenced in &quot;How to Get Kicked Out of Tricare&quot; (military health care program). You can also gain knowledge to make informed decisions by considering pros and cons of various retirement-related paths through articles such as &quot;Stay for 30 or Retire at 27?&quot; which references years of service, not years of living.</p> <h2>4. Afford Anything</h2> <p>In the midst of a successful but unfulfilling career in journalism, Paula Pant decided to pursue personal and professional interests on her own terms. She became financially independent at age 30 by parlaying profits from a writing and marketing firm into $1 million worth of real estate investments, which generate passive income that sustains her lifestyle.</p> <p>At the&nbsp;<a href="http://affordanything.com/">Afford Anything</a> website, Paula writes about her business ventures and life adventures. She encourages readers to develop sources of passive income based on their strengths and interests. However, she focuses on her experiences in real estate. You can read about entering the vacation rental business as an AirBnB host, plus find guidance on buying and managing rental properties through articles such as determining if a house is a good investment.</p> <p>At her website, affording anything (though not everything) is emphasized, not necessarily early retirement. However, those who are interested in retiring before 65 should find both inspiration and instruction to become financially free as early as possible.</p> <h2>5. Go Curry Cracker</h2> <p>Supersavers and married couple Winnie and Jeremy explore the world while educating readers on the financial and location independent lifestyle through their blog, <a href="http://www.gocurrycracker.com/">Go Curry Cracker</a>. They saved more than 70% of their income for 10 years while working in traditional jobs. During this time, they built an investment portfolio that generates income for their expenses.</p> <p>At the website, you'll find tips on optimizing your tax situation (including techniques for harvesting capital gains in order to increase the cost basis of your holdings, positioning you for lower taxes in the future) and limiting your fixed expenses through techniques such as car-free living. Mainly, though, you'll get inspiration for aggressively and wisely managing your financial situation so you can enjoy your days in early retirement.</p> <p>Retiring early may be within your reach. Visit these websites to learn how to live and spend intentionally, invest wisely, avoid wealth-robbing pitfalls, and enjoy life before and during retirement.</p> <p><em>Which other early retirement online resources do you read and recommend?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-websites-to-help-you-retire-early">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-11"> <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/i-am-doing-well-financially-now-what">I Am Doing Well Financially. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-experts-people-in-their-40s-should-follow">5 Financial Experts People in Their 40s Should Follow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-woman-retired-at-60-and-traveled-the-world">How One Woman Retired at 60 and Traveled the World</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/6-retirement-rules-you-should-be-breaking">6 Retirement Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement advice blogs finance retiring early savings websites Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:00:10 +0000 Julie Rains 1463020 at http://www.wisebread.com How One Woman Retired at 60 and Traveled the World http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-woman-retired-at-60-and-traveled-the-world <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-one-woman-retired-at-60-and-traveled-the-world" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_hiking_000038203432.jpg" alt="Woman retired at 60 and traveled the world" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>More than half of Americans are worried they won't have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-retirement-rules-you-should-be-breaking">enough money to retire</a>, according to a recent Gallup poll. Despite the dismal statistics, there are retirees today who live comfortably on their savings and live lifestyles that many would envy.</p> <p>Take Joe Stewart, for example, who retired early at age 60 and, in the last year alone, has used her newfound freedom to travel to Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, and Puerto Vallarta. (She has a few more trips on her horizon, too!) According to Stewart, she never had a terribly high income. She started working when she was 16 and, at the height of her income earning years, brought in $60,000 per year. To get where she is today, she started saving early, made frugal life choices, and made the most of what she had.</p> <p>How did Stewart get to this sweet spot in life and, more importantly, how can the rest of us emulate her success?</p> <h2>Work Hard, Invest Early</h2> <p>Stewart started working when she was 16 years old and put herself through college with the help of a small scholarship. &quot;I never had a lot of money,&quot; she says, when discussing that she never felt the need to live an extravagant lifestyle. &quot;I don't spend money on expensive shoes. I shop at Ross and TJ Maxx. I always look great but I don't spend a lot of money on junk.&quot;</p> <p>Instead of splurging on high-end goods, Stewart instead focused from an early age on long-term investing and saving strategies. For those looking to build a solid retirement foundation, her footprint may be one worth following. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-people-who-retire-early-do?ref=seealso">9 Things People Who Retire Early Do</a>)</p> <h2>Open an IRA and Buy a House (And Pay it Off)</h2> <p>In the early 1980s, Stewart and her now ex-husband started funding their individual retirement accounts and consistently maxed out their annual contribution limits. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-supercharge-your-retirement?ref=seealso">10 Easy Ways to Supercharge Your Retirement</a>)</p> <p>Stewart and her ex-husband bought their first house in 1983. &quot;We didn't spend a lot of money,&quot; she says. &quot;Instead we put money into our house.&quot; They paid off the original house, bought a bigger home, and gradually increased their monthly payments.</p> <p>&quot;We paid off a $100,000 loan in six years,&quot; she says, &quot;even though we didn't make a lot of money.&quot; Stewart describes their careers as administrative in nature. In their two peak earning years, they reached the six figure mark collectively, but they spent many years below that level. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-reasons-for-paying-off-the-mortgage-on-your-home?ref=seealso">6 Great Reasons for Paying Off the Mortgage on Your Home</a>)</p> <h2>Invest</h2> <p>Stewart was fortunate to receive corporate stock through a former employer, The Limited (L Brands). &quot;I'll admit I didn't have the foresight to buy the stock when I was working there,&quot; she says, explaining that it was offered as a benefit through her corporate retirement plan.</p> <p>&quot;In 1984 I owned $40,000 worth of the stock. That was a lot of money!&quot; she admits. &quot;In 1985, it was the best performing stock on the market. With that money I paid off our first house, paid for two college degrees, bought all our cars, took two trips to Europe, and remodeled our bathroom.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I still have [some of] the stock,&quot; she says. &quot;That's the power of investing over time.&quot; Although, Stewart admits she was lucky it was such a strong performing stock. &quot;Friends will tell me they're afraid to lose money in the stock market. I say they're losing money by not being in the stock market! I lost $100,000 one year,&quot; she says, but even so, her investment is still going strong. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-easy-and-not-so-obvious-ways-to-invest-in-a-companys-stock?ref=seealso">8 Cheap, Easy, and Not-So-Obvious Ways to Invest in a Company's Stock</a>)</p> <p>Although widely popular today, 401(k) plans weren't readily available to many employees until the early 1990s. In 1992, Stewart opened a plan through her employer, contributed 10% of her income, and gradually increased her contribution amount from there. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dumb-401k-mistakes-smart-people-make?ref=seealso">5 Dumb 401(k) Mistakes Smart People Make</a>)</p> <h2>Fund a Health Savings Account (HSA)</h2> <p>Stewart opened an HSA about two years ago and has been fully funding it ever since. She can use her HSA funds to help mitigate health care expenses as she ages.</p> <h2>Keep Expenses Low</h2> <p>Before she retired, Stewart earned about $60,000 per year. Of that, she saved about $800 per month plus her 401(k) and HSA contributions. Today her spending is at the same level as it was pre-retirement, but she's no longer saving.</p> <p>Stewart knows there's a certain freedom that comes when you're not beholden to your debts. &quot;My car is paid for, my home is paid for. My only expenses are utilities, living expenses, condo fees, and travel,&quot; she says. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today?ref=seealso">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</a>)</p> <h2>Don't Sweat Life's Road Blocks</h2> <p>Despite careful planning, life doesn't always unfold as planned. Stewart and her husband divorced in 2004. Conventional wisdom maintains that divorce can cause financial mayhem. Stewart is proof that it doesn't have to. &quot;We split our finances 50/50,&quot; she says. &quot;I took the equity from our paid off house and put it down on a condo and then paid that off within four years. The key for me was to be debt free.&quot;</p> <p>Stewart also didn't ask for alimony, even though her ex-husband's income was higher. &quot;Freedom has always been more important to me than money,&quot; she says.</p> <h2>Finally, Do What You Love</h2> <p>Stewart is so adept at keeping expenses low that her only real budget buster is travel. To compensate for the expense, she launched a small side freelance writing business. She earns about $10,000 per year, which is enough to cover the costs of her trips.</p> <p>&quot;My priority is to travel,&quot; she says. &quot;I pick up writing jobs here and there but I turn down administrative work and long-term projects.&quot; Maintaining flexibility and freedom are more important to Stewart than bringing home a higher income. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-things-scientists-say-will-boost-your-happiness-today?ref=seealso">11 Things Scientists Say Will Boost Your Happiness Today</a>)</p> <p>As Stewart shows, one doesn't have to be financially wealthy to build a happy retirement. Plan early, make wise choices, and be consistent: those are the keys to her retirement success.</p> <p><em>What are you doing to prepare for retirement?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-woman-retired-at-60-and-traveled-the-world">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-12"> <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/this-is-why-you-cant-postpone-planning-for-your-retirement-and-how-to-start">This Is Why You Can&#039;t Postpone Planning for Your Retirement (And How to Start)</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/money-resolutions-6-ways-to-take-control-in-2013">Money Resolutions: 6 Ways to Take Control in 2013</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-should-you-have-saved-for-retirement-by-30-40-50">How Much Should You Have Saved for Retirement by 30? 40? 50?</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/4-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</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-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement early retirement investing money savings traveling Mon, 22 Jun 2015 17:00:13 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1462827 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Retirement Rules You Should Be Breaking http://www.wisebread.com/6-retirement-rules-you-should-be-breaking <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-retirement-rules-you-should-be-breaking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_gardening_000022104123.jpg" alt="Woman breaking common retirement rules" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are there right and wrong ways to retire? While that's a relative question, there are retirement rules that are in your best interest to follow &mdash; and those you might want to break. Consider these six <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-why-your-retirement-cost-calculations-may-be-wrong">retirement rules</a> you might be better off ignoring.</p> <h2>1. Depending on a Pension or Social Security</h2> <p>Counting on a pension or Social Security to help you ride out your retirement years? That's probably not the best strategy to have, considering that very few companies still offer pensions (though you'd know if yours does) and Social Security is still in crisis (so much so that it might be bankrupt and not even exist by the time you retire). That's not to mention that inflation is likely to outpace your per-month payouts in the off chance that you do receive these income sources.</p> <p>You may need to think of other ways to fund your retirement &mdash; and it's in your best interest to start planning for it now (or better yet, <em>yesterday</em>).</p> <p>Brent Cumberford, founder of the personal-finance blog&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vosa.com">VOSA</a>, offers a few suggestions.</p> <p>&quot;Start your own retirement accounts; invest in business to generate a second &mdash; and third and fourth &mdash; stream of income; and hustle to make some extra money on the side to kick start your retirement savings,&quot; he says.</p> <p>Putting in the extra time and effort early on to pad your retirement account for later means you might actually be able to enjoy those golden years.</p> <h2>2. Withdrawing From Your Retirement Fund or Social Security Right Away</h2> <p>Even if you have plenty of money in your retirement fund (or think you do, as is the likelier scenario), that doesn't mean you should start withdrawing from it the day after your retirement party. Proceed with caution in this case and remember that you still have a long life ahead of you.</p> <p>&quot;One retirement rule that no longer makes sense is the one that suggests a 4% annual withdrawal rate on your retirement portfolio,&quot; observes personal finance expert David Bakke of MoneyCrashers. &quot;Americans are living longer these days, and if you go by that rule you might outlive your money. Your best bet is to withdraw as little as possible in the beginning and adjust your strategy as you see how things are progressing as you get acclimated to living off of your retirement money.&quot;</p> <p>Bakke says that waiting to withdrawal money from Social Security has its benefits too, as you may receive a larger annual Social Security benefit when you wait.</p> <h2>3. Going Full Retirement Because You Think You Have To</h2> <p>Just because the government says you can retire at age 65 doesn't mean that you have to resign the rest of your life to whiling away the hours. Instead &mdash; if you're still willing and able &mdash; consider semi-retirement. It's the best of both worlds really: You can still contribute to society as a part-time member of the workforce, and you can enjoy more leisure time as a result of your shorter work schedule.</p> <p>More and more older Americans are opting for semi-retirement, in fact. Some are even opting for a new career path altogether. Continuing to work at least part-time past retirement age will not only help you feel like you still have something to offer the world, but it also helps you to continue to actively build your retirement fund &mdash; or at least maintain it at its current level.</p> <p>Elle Kaplan, CEO and founder of an asset management firm, touches a bit more on the financial benefits of semi-retirement.</p> <p>&quot;How would a semi-retirement change your financial reality?&quot; she asks. &quot;Take two months and track the money coming in and going out. Keep track of what you spend and all your bills. This will give you a clear sense of where you stand. Next, figure out what your Social Security payment is going to be each month in retirement. The Social Security Administration will provide this information and tell you how much you'll get based on what age you retire. Working even a few more years can have a huge impact.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Waiting Until You're 65 to Retire</h2> <p>Retirement age is typically specified at 65 years old in the United States. But to heck with that! Wouldn't you like to retire earlier?</p> <p>Of course, you'll probably need to strike it rich &mdash; or live <em>very</em> meagerly &mdash; in order to hang up your work boots in advance of the government-issued go-ahead. But maybe not. Have you ever thought about short-term mini-retirements? Ever even heard of the concept?</p> <p>&quot;Obviously it would be awesome if everyone could earn a fortune, retire young, and travel the world, but it's not going to happen for everyone,&quot; Cumberford says. &quot;What can happen for almost everyone is short-term mini-retirements, a concept spoken about in greater detail by Tim Ferriss in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307465357/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0307465357&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=YIR4QCCLJFO4ATW3">The 4-Hour Workweek</a>. Saving money specifically for a short sabbatical, or even just an extended vacation while keeping your current employment can typically be negotiated. Think five weeks in Southeast Asia, or a summer backpacking across Europe. With the virtually endless amount of airline and hotel points that can be earned through travel hacking, even far away places can be very affordable.&quot;</p> <p>As someone who has hosted lots of Australian guests who are allotted at least six weeks vacation every year, I'm not only envious, but also in favor of the idea of short-term mini-retirements. While they're working to live, we Americans are living to work (well into our golden years), and that's an outlook that could use some rethinking. Shouldn't we enjoy a high-quality lifestyle throughout our lifetime instead of when we're darn near dead?</p> <h2>5. Clinging to the Family Home</h2> <p>For many of us, our homes hold a lot of memories that make it hard to part with the house &mdash; even after the kids are grown and gone. But as you enter retirement, it's not a great idea to hang on to a large space with high utilities or even a mortgage that will become more and more difficult to manage as you age. The alternative is to downsize, of course, such as a smaller house or apartment, or even alternative-living situations that may suit you even more &mdash; like an RV, for instance.</p> <p>Janet Groene, author of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/007178473X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=007178473X&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=P2WLK6WDV5V7MKUB">Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition</a>, lived in an RV for 10 years before settling in Florida, and she's a staunch advocate for the nomad lifestyle.</p> <p>&quot;By selling out and moving into an RV, retirees fulfill their dreams of travel and at the same time live comfortably in a fully equipped home on wheels while scouting for the right place to settle down in retirement,&quot; she encourages.</p> <h2>6. Heading South for the Winter</h2> <p>Snowbirding &mdash; the practice of northerners spending the winter in warmer climates and summers at home &mdash; is common among retirees. But isn't that just a little too passé for today's generation of leisure seekers? Mark Koep, founder of CampgroundViews.com, thinks so. Like Groene, he wants retirees to think about their living options and arrangements more in depth so they don't automatically relegate themselves to a lifestyle that isn't necessarily fulfilling.</p> <p>&quot;The old idea of snowbirding ignores the freedom and adventure that modern retirees seek,&quot; he says. &quot;Instead retirees should consider boondocking &mdash; camping in Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands for free &mdash; and discount membership clubs to travel and explore more destinations.&quot;</p> <p><em>Do you have other retirement rules we should be breaking? Let us know in the comments below.</em></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/6-retirement-rules-you-should-be-breaking">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-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-boost-your-odds-of-retiring-early">5 Ways to Boost Your Odds of Retiring Early</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/8-reasons-why-your-retirement-cost-calculations-may-be-wrong">8 Reasons Why Your Retirement Cost Calculations May Be Wrong</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-states-with-the-lowest-taxes-for-retirees">7 States With the Lowest Taxes for Retirees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-surprising-things-women-should-know-about-retirement-planning">12 Surprising Things Women Should Know About Retirement Planning</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401(k) pensions rules savings social security Wed, 17 Jun 2015 11:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1454606 at http://www.wisebread.com The 6 Biggest Financial Decisions in Your 20s http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-biggest-financial-decisions-in-your-20s <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-6-biggest-financial-decisions-in-your-20s" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/three_friends_coffee_000051230160.jpg" alt="Three friends making big financial decisions in their 20s" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Back in my early 20s, I didn't have a strong interest in personal finance; as long as I had enough money for the bar, I was good to go. Of course I knew the importance of paying my bills on time (and I did), but planning for the future and learning about credit management were the last things on my mind. I wasn't alone, either. Most of my friends were the same way a decade ago, and if you're in your 20s now, you may not give your personal finances much thought.</p> <p>Although you're young and have the rest of your life to be responsible with money, there are reasons to get a head start on positive <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-financial-decisions-you-cant-keep-putting-off">personal finance practices</a>. Don't wait until your 30s or 40s to get serious about your money.</p> <h2>1. Start Saving for Retirement</h2> <p>If you're dealing with low wages and high student debt, you may feel you can't afford to save for retirement. However, starting a retirement savings plan while young can have a tremendous impact on your future financial health because you'll maximize your retirement income thanks to the magic of compound interest. No one's saying you have to contribute the maximum each year to your IRA or a 401(k). Do what you can afford. As long as you're contributing something, you're on the right path and doing better than a lot of 20-something adults.</p> <h2>2. Live Within Your Means</h2> <p>After graduating college and getting a job, you might be in a mad rush to achieve the lifestyle you were accustomed to growing up. But realize it took your parents years to acquire what they have, so don't expect the same lifestyle in your first couple of years out of school.</p> <p>If you learn how to live within your means in your 20s, you can carry this good habit throughout your entire adulthood. You're less likely to get into deep credit card debt. And living beneath your means makes it's easier to save for retirement and enjoy other things in life, such as the occasional vacation.</p> <h2>3. Avoid Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>The debt you accumulate in your 20s can haunt you for decades. So before you buy houses, cars, or start a family, tackle your debt. The older we get, the more responsibilities we take on. Lingering debt means additional interest rates, and it becomes harder to wipe out these balances. You might be ready to move out and exert your independence after graduating college. But if you can, stay home for a little while longer and use this time to pay off student loan debt and credit card debt.</p> <h2>4. Get Insured</h2> <p>Just because you're young doesn't mean you're invincible. You can get sick, injured, or die unexpectedly, just like older folks. No one likes to think about bad situations, but you need to prepare for the worst. The best time to buy insurance is while you're young and healthy. This includes health, life, and disability insurance. It's not only a responsible way to protect your finances, but you also might qualify for a better rate because of your age. If you live on your own, make sure you get a renter's insurance policy to cover the replacement cost of personal belongings in the event of a natural disaster, theft, or fire.</p> <h2>5. Build an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Your 20s is also one of the best times to start building an emergency fund. Talk to any adult in their 30s or 40s with a mortgage or kids and they'll tell you it's harder to save when there's so many financial responsibilities. If you're still living at home, try living off half your income and save the other half until you build a nest egg of at least three to six months' living expenses.</p> <h2>6. Establish Your Credit History</h2> <p>You can't rely on your parents forever. Now's the time to establish credit if you plan to buy a house and be financially independent in the future. Applying for a student loan is a good start, but diversifying your credit can build an even stronger credit score. You can apply for another installment loan, such as an auto loan, or you can apply for one or two credit cards. It isn't enough to apply for credit, you have to use credit responsibly. Don't get in over your head. Only charge what you can afford, and make every effort to pay off your credit card bills in full every month, and on time. Credit building is a slow, gradual process. And regularly monitor your credit report to check for inaccuracies or identity theft, which can drive down your credit rating.</p> <p><em>What other smart decisions should you make in your 20s? Let me know in the comments below.</em></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/the-6-biggest-financial-decisions-in-your-20s">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-14"> <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-financial-mistakes-you-need-to-stop-making-by-30">5 Financial Mistakes You Need to Stop Making by 30</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-personal-finance-milestones-every-20-and-30-year-old-should-hit">7 Personal Finance Milestones Every 20 and 30 Year Old Should Hit</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-mistakes-to-stop-making-by-50">5 Money Mistakes to Stop Making by 50</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-savings-tricks-you-havent-tried-yet">5 Savings Tricks You Haven&#039;t Tried Yet</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/conspicuous-spending-fading-to-black">Conspicuous Spending: Fading to Black</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance 20s credit millennials retirement savings Tue, 16 Jun 2015 21:00:09 +0000 Mikey Rox 1454417 at http://www.wisebread.com Is Your Emergency Fund Big Enough to Keep You Afloat? http://www.wisebread.com/is-your-emergency-fund-big-enough-to-keep-you-afloat <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-your-emergency-fund-big-enough-to-keep-you-afloat" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/spare_change_savings_fund_000028185328.jpg" alt="How to know if your emergency fund is enough to keep you afloat" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you lost your job, or your main income stream suddenly disappeared, how long could you maintain your current lifestyle? If you're like millions of U.S. adults? Not very long. According to the Chain Store Guide's Consumer Spending Report for May, 40% of U.S. adults said that if they <a href="https://www.chainstoreguide.com/email/CSR_June_2015.pdf">lost their incomes</a>, they could only maintain their lifestyles for one to three months. An additional 21% said that they wouldn't be able to continue their lifestyles for even one month.</p> <p>That's a problem. Financial experts recommend that consumers build <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-life-is-amazing-with-an-emergency-fund">an emergency fund</a> that can cover at least six months of normal expenses. Unfortunately, as the Chain Store Guide report shows, far too many U.S. adults continue to live paycheck-by-paycheck.</p> <h2>Prioritize Spending to Make Saving Easy</h2> <p>David Keefe, financial advisor with Eagle Strategies in Waltham, Massachusetts, says that many consumers could build this emergency fund relatively easily, but instead choose to waste their money on frivolous purchases.</p> <p>Morning coffee runs, anyone?</p> <p>&quot;I often ask people what they spend some of their money on. Starbucks' lattes? Well, 200 of those a year at $3.50 each is $640 a year. If you instead save that money, in a few years you have close to $3,000 saved,&quot; Keefe says.</p> <p>Then there are cigarettes. Keefe does the math: If you spend $9 a pack for 365 days a year, that comes out to $3,385 a year. That's a lot of money that could instead be stowed into an emergency fund.</p> <p>So while creating an emergency fund might seem overwhelming, it really isn't, Keefe said.</p> <p>&quot;I would ask people to visualize what it might feel like to have $5,000 for emergencies set aside,&quot; Keefe says. &quot;Not being financially sound creates a lot of stress. The opposite is better.&quot;</p> <h2>Let Compounding Do Its Work</h2> <p>Frank Migliazzo, managing director with the Troy, Michigan, office of Merrill Lynch, said that it's not difficult for people to start an emergency fund, even if they don't earn high salaries.</p> <p>Thanks to the power of compound interest, even small amounts of money can grow to significant savings given time, Migliazzo said.</p> <p>&quot;The sooner you start, the better off you are. You can do it with even small amounts of money,&quot; Migliazzo says. &quot;Even college students who work in the summers can set up a certain amount of money to be deposited into an account, even if it's just $25 or $50 a month. You would be surprised with compound interest the amount of money you end up with over time.&quot;</p> <h2>Discipline and Routine Help, Too</h2> <p>Having discipline is the key to starting &mdash; and maintaining &ndash;&mdash; an emergency fund, said Migliazzo. This might also involve knowing your own financial weaknesses and working around them.</p> <p>Migliazzo points to a relative of his who automatically invested a certain amount each week in U.S. savings bonds. He asked Migliazzo if this was a smart move. Migliazzo advised his relative that he could probably earn a better rate of return on his savings if he invested his dollars in a mutual fund.</p> <p>The relative, though, said that if he had the money in his hands he'd probably just blow it on frivolous purchases. This relative understood his bad financial habits and was willing to take steps to avoid the same money mistakes he'd made in the past.</p> <p>&quot;I told him that putting his money in savings bonds instead of blowing it was the better choice,&quot; Migliazzo said.</p> <h2>Plan to Be Prepared</h2> <p>Living without an emergency fund is dangerous, said Keefe. And the fact that so many U.S. adults don't have a financial cushion is troubling, he said.</p> <p>That's because unexpected financial emergencies pop up far too often. Those consumers who lack an emergency fund constantly find themselves generating more debt as they turn to credit cards to replace broken water heaters, cover blown head gaskets, or cover their daily living expenses as they search for a new job after being fired or laid off.</p> <p>&quot;When setting up a personal home budget, people rarely include house and car repairs,&quot; Keefe said. &quot;If you own a $300,000 house you might count on spending 1% to 5% of the value of that home every year on repair and maintenance. Better to have a few thousand saved up for when the water heater breaks.&quot;</p> <p><em>How else are you preparing for weathering financial hits?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-your-emergency-fund-big-enough-to-keep-you-afloat">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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