emergency fund http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8481/all en-US 6 Personal Finance Rules to Live By in Your 40s http://www.wisebread.com/6-personal-finance-rules-to-live-by-in-your-40s <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-personal-finance-rules-to-live-by-in-your-40s" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/portrait_of_a_beautiful_woman.jpg" alt="Portrait of a beautiful woman" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your 40s can be a stressful time. Your children might be moving on to college, changing the dynamics of your household. Your own parents are aging and might need to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility. And you might be feeling extra pressure at work to move up to higher-paying positions as a way to maximize your earning potential.</p> <p>But your 40s can also be a time to secure your financial health and pave the way toward a brighter retirement. You can increase your odds of achieving this goal by following the personal finance rules below.</p> <h2>1. Focus on building your retirement savings</h2> <p>The main goal in your 40s should be to boost your retirement savings as much as possible. Retirement might still seem a long way away, but it's closer than you think.</p> <p>If you are saving money in your company's 401(k) plan, be sure to maximize your regular contributions and take advantage of any company match. Do the same with any investments you make in a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. The more you save today, the brighter your retirement years will be. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-retirement-planning-steps-late-starters-must-make?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Retirement Planning Steps Late Starters Must Make</a>)</p> <h2>2. Don't let college costs derail your retirement savings</h2> <p>You want to help your kids pay for their college educations. That's understandable, but don't let your desire to help your children derail your retirement savings.</p> <p>If you spend too much money helping your kids pay for college, you'll struggle to build your retirement savings. In your 40s, saving for retirement should be your top priority, outweighing even your goals of chipping in to pay for your children's college education.</p> <p>Remember, your children have options for paying for college. They can borrow money. They can choose less expensive schools. They can seek out scholarships or attend a community college for two years. You don't have nearly as many options when it comes to your retirement savings. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-student-loans-from-wrecking-your-retirement?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Keep Student Loans From Wrecking Your Retirement</a>)</p> <h2>3. Reduce your debts</h2> <p>Nothing ruins your plans to save money quicker than debt. And no other is as costly as credit card debt. Do everything you can in your 40s to eliminate it.</p> <p>Some debt is better than others. Auto loans and mortgages, for instance, generally come with lower interest rates. And you are receiving a benefit &mdash; a house to live in, a car to drive &mdash; while making those monthly payments. But credit card debt is another story. This debt comes with sky-high interest rates that can snowball by hundreds of dollars every month. That's why it's so important to pay it off as quickly as possible. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Method to Eliminate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>Remember that your primary goal in your 40s is to build your retirement savings. Think of how many additional dollars you could save if you weren't sending so much money each month to your credit card providers.</p> <h2>4. Grow your emergency fund</h2> <p>Another thing that can quickly derail your efforts to save for retirement is an unexpected emergency. Say your roof springs a leak or your furnace conks out in the middle of January. You must fix these problems, and that won't be cheap.</p> <p>That's where an emergency fund comes in. As the name suggests, this type of fund is filled with dollars that you only tap when an unexpected financial emergency pops up. By having a well-stocked emergency fund, you won't have to resort to credit cards to pay for unexpected home or auto repairs, or even a surprise medical bill.</p> <p>Financial experts recommend that you have enough in your emergency fund to cover at least six months' to a year's worth of daily living expenses. That might seem daunting, but even starting an emergency fund with small payments every month can build up. Say you deposit $200 every month in an emergency fund. After a year, it will grow to $2,400. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0</a>)</p> <h2>5. Avoid the co-signing temptation</h2> <p>When you're in your 40s, your children might be ready to apply for auto loans or credit cards of their own. It can be challenging for young adults with limited credit histories to earn approval for these loans. It's not unusual for them to ask their parents to co-sign on an application.</p> <p>While it might be tempting to want to help your kid, be careful: If your son or daughter makes their payments late, your credit score will take a fall, too. That's because when you co-sign, you become equally responsible for a debt. If your children default on a loan, you're on the hook for making those missed payments &mdash; putting you in a dangerous financial predicament that could completely derail your retirement savings.</p> <p>Don't co-sign unless you're positive your children won't miss any payments. Even then, it's probably not in your best interest to be a co-signer. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-cosign-your-teenagers-credit-card-application?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Should You Co-sign Your Teenager's Credit Card Application?</a>)</p> <h2>6. Make sure you have enough life insurance</h2> <p>What would happen to your children or spouse if you suddenly died? Would your spouse be able to pay the monthly mortgage? Would your family have to move to a new, less expensive home?</p> <p>Life insurance can prevent financial stress for your family if you should die unexpectedly. Make sure that you have enough life insurance coverage to protect your loved ones. Your 40s is a good time to review your life insurance coverage and make changes if necessary. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-your-group-life-insurance-is-not-enough?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Your Group Life Insurance Is Not Enough</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-personal-finance-rules-to-live-by-in-your-40s&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Personal%2520Finance%2520Rules%2520to%2520Live%2520By%2520in%2520Your%252040s.jpg&amp;description=6%20Personal%20Finance%20Rules%20to%20Live%20By%20in%20Your%2040s"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Personal%20Finance%20Rules%20to%20Live%20By%20in%20Your%2040s.jpg" alt="6 Personal Finance Rules to Live By in Your 40s" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-personal-finance-rules-to-live-by-in-your-40s">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/build-a-secure-future-starting-with-your-next-paycheck">Build a Secure Future Starting With Your Next Paycheck</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-you-should-make-your-adult-child-pay-for">4 Things You Should Make Your Adult Child Pay For</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-ways-your-money-is-being-a-jerk-and-how-to-fight-back">5 Ways Your Money Is Being a Jerk (And How to Fight Back)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-building-an-emergency-fund-always-a-good-idea">Is Building an Emergency Fund Always a Good Idea?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-signs-your-emergency-fund-is-too-big">4 Signs Your Emergency Fund Is Too Big</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance 40s co-signing college savings credit card debt debt repayment emergency fund money moves retirement savings Thu, 22 Mar 2018 10:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 2113613 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways Your Money Is Being a Jerk (And How to Fight Back) http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-your-money-is-being-a-jerk-and-how-to-fight-back <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-your-money-is-being-a-jerk-and-how-to-fight-back" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/sad_businesswoman_holding_empty_wallet.jpg" alt="Sad businesswoman holding empty wallet" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>They say money is the root of all evil. That&rsquo;s debatable, but it can certainly be at the center of a lot of problems. You want to get out more, but your money says no. You want to retire someday, but your money gives you the finger. You want to take a vacation to Europe, your money laughs in your face. Money can be a real jerk sometimes. But, you can fight back. Take control of your finances, and you&rsquo;ll be the one calling the shots.</p> <h2>1. Your credit cards are tempting you to spend, spend, spend</h2> <p>Oh, those credit cards with their promotional APRs, low-rate balance transfers (with a 3 percent fee, of course), and flashy rewards programs. Your mailbox is stuffed with offer after offer of five-minute applications and 60-second approvals. Credit lines are upward of $10,000. That&rsquo;s $10K you can spend on whatever you want, whenever you want, and you don&rsquo;t even have to pay it all back at once.</p> <p>Want a new coat? Swipe the card. Have your eye on a new watch? Grab that plastic. Thinking about a new car? The down payment is in your pocket. And when you have so many of these cards, it feels like a license to spend. The thing is, credit cards aren't free money, and it&rsquo;s way easier to spend with them than it is to pay them back.</p> <h3>How to fight back</h3> <p>Credit cards are financial tools, and if used correctly, they can be very good to you. They help you build credit, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">offer travel rewards</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-credit-card-perks-that-make-life-easier-and-way-more-fun?ref=internal" target="_blank">perks that make life easier</a>, and are safer and easier to carry than cash. <em>But</em>, you must use them wisely.</p> <p>Do not spend money on a credit card unless you can afford to pay off the balance in full at the end of each billing cycle. If you don&rsquo;t have the money to do that, well, maybe you shouldn&rsquo;t be buying the item you cannot afford. Once you stop paying the full balance, interest is added. And the longer you keep a balance, the more interest is added on. If you&rsquo;re not careful, the debt will bury you over time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Method to Eliminate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>2. Your monthly debt payments are ripping off your budget</h2> <p>You look at the amount of money you have coming in every month and you&rsquo;re happy with it. But then you look at your debts and monthly obligations; The credit cards. The car payment. The mortgage. The student loan. By the time you&rsquo;ve paid those bills, you barely have enough left to buy groceries. And money for fun, like going out to eat or a weekend away? Forget about it. Your debt is like a ball and chain around your whole life.</p> <h3>How to fight back</h3> <p>The first thing you need to do is get your financial house in order. Analyze your monthly bills, and make a list of your debts, the payments, and the length of time needed to pay them all off. If this already makes your head hurt, consider meeting with a financial adviser who can help you break the process down into simpler steps. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-search-and-destroy?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Search and Destroy</a>)</p> <p>Once you have all your ducks in a row, look at ways to pay down the debt. You may have to make some sacrifices to get this done. No trips to Starbucks for a while. Go for cheaper generic brands (which, to be honest, are usually made in the same facility as the expensive brand names). Pack your lunches every day. Free up as much money as possible, and do something with your debt called &ldquo;snowballing.&rdquo; Put every cent you can toward paying off the smallest debt first, and make minimum payments on the others. When that debt is paid off, move onto the next in line, applying the maximum to it, and the minimum to the others. It&rsquo;s a satisfying way to tackle debt because it progresses quickly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-to-mastering-the-debt-snowball?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Secrets to Mastering the Debt Snowball</a>)</p> <p>At the same time, look into other ways to generate extra cash. Can you refinance your home and pay off a debt while still hanging onto a substantial chunk of the equity? Paying 4 percent interest per month is way better than the 22 percent interest some credit cards charge.</p> <h2>3. Your &ldquo;savings&rdquo; account is laughing at your dreams</h2> <p>Savings; that&rsquo;s wishful thinking. For a lot of us, a savings account is just a temporary resting place for our money until the next emergency beckons it.</p> <p>A recent GOBankingRates study found that 34 percent of Americans have no savings at all, and 35 percent have less than $1,000. Sure, you want to go on that trip to Europe, or finish the basement for the kids. But guess what? The water heater just went on the fritz. Or the furnace just curled up its toes and died. Instead of looking forward to some time away, or something to make home life a little easier, you&rsquo;re staring into a savings account filled with cobwebs and shattered dreams.</p> <h3>How to fight back</h3> <p>Every financial adviser will offer you the following piece of advice: Pay yourself first. Sure, it&rsquo;s easier said than done, but you need to get into the habit of squirreling away a percentage of your income each month automatically.</p> <p>A dedicated emergency fund is critical for surprise expenses that threaten to wipe out your other savings &mdash; savings you may have wanted to use for that overseas trip or basement remodel. Many experts recommend having between six and 12 months' worth of your expenses covered in this fund. If you have nothing set aside in an emergency fund, now is the time to start building one.</p> <p>Set up an automated transfer from your checking account to a savings account and your emergency fund. Find small ways to save money without even thinking about it. There&rsquo;s an app called Earny that checks price drops on purchases you have made, and automatically claims the difference on your behalf (Earny takes 25 percent of the refund). Put any Earny refunds into your savings account or emergency fund.</p> <p>Other apps like Digit, Chime, and Acorns can help you save money without even noticing it. Acorns simply rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar, and puts the change into an investment account (fees range from $1 per month for balances under $5,000, to 0.25 percent for larger balances). Do whatever you can to make saving a monthly, or even weekly, habit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-life-is-amazing-with-an-emergency-fund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">11 Ways Life Is Amazing With an Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h2>4. Your retirement fund is MIA</h2> <p>You&rsquo;re sitting on a beach with a cool breeze kissing your face. The sun is out. The waves are lapping around your feet. You're sipping a Piña Colada. And then you hear that record needle scratch, open your eyes, and realize it&rsquo;s a dream; a far-off dream. Your 401(k) is looking about as healthy as a fly that just splattered against the windshield of your car. You have been working your butt off for 20 years, and have very little to show for it. At this rate, you&rsquo;ll be dreaming of retirement for the rest of your life.</p> <h3>How to fight back</h3> <p>Start by taking a breath. Hopefully retirement is still a good 20 or 30 years away, and that gives you time to beef up your fund and take advantage of compound interest.</p> <p>If you are employed by a company, you probably have a 401(k) match of some kind. The first thing you need to do is max out that match. If it&rsquo;s 6 percent, put in 6 percent of your salary each month. You&rsquo;ll actually be saving 12 percent of your salary, and that&rsquo;s an excellent start. If it&rsquo;s a maximum amount each year, hit that figure.</p> <p>Next, look at the kind of 401(k) fund you have. You should be able to choose what kind of risk you want to take, and if retirement is 25 years from now, you can afford to be in an aggressive fund; one that&rsquo;s going to be a bigger roller coaster ride for your money, but will lead to bigger gains over time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-roadblocks-to-retirement-and-how-to-clear-them?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Roadblocks to Retirement (And How to Clear Them)</a>)</p> <h2>5. You&rsquo;ll be making the minimum payment &hellip; forever!</h2> <p>Those accounts whisper in your ear constantly; &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no need to empty your bank account to pay me off. Just make this teeny, tiny minimum payment. You&rsquo;ll hardly notice it.&rdquo; Yeah, well, that might seem better in the short term, but in the long run those small minimum payments are keeping you in a never-ending cycle of debt.</p> <p>When you make the minimum payment, most of the money goes toward the interest that was applied to the balance. You pay it, forget about it, and next month you do it again. And again. And again. The balance never seems to go down, and that&rsquo;s what the credit card companies want. Before you know it, you&rsquo;ve spent five years paying the minimum and the end is nowhere in sight. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-the-ways-minimum-payments-are-evil?ref=seealso" target="_blank">All the Ways Minimum Payments Are Evil</a>)</p> <h3>How to fight back</h3> <p><em>Never</em> make the minimum payment unless it&rsquo;s part of a debt snowball plan mentioned earlier. Paying just 2&ndash;3 percent of the balance is only making the credit card companies richer.</p> <p>You also need to stop using the credit card. By paying the minimum and adding to the balance, you&rsquo;re putting yourself in the pocket of the credit card company for the rest of your life. Instead, cut down expenses and find other ways to make purchases until you can get this balance down to zero.</p> <p>Look for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">0% balance transfer credit card offers</a>. Some will give you 18 months or more at zero interest. Once you grab one of those, all of the money you pay each month goes toward the principal. Find ways to cut costs from your monthly budget and apply that to the payment on this card. The 0% interest combined with a much bigger monthly payment will really help you shrink that balance significantly. Just make sure to pay off the balance transfer card in full within the promotional APR window to avoid interest.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-ways-your-money-is-being-a-jerk-and-how-to-fight-back&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Ways%2520Your%2520Money%2520Is%2520Being%2520a%2520Jerk%2520%2528And%2520How%2520to%2520Fight%2520Back%2529.jpg&amp;description=5%20Ways%20Your%20Money%20Is%20Being%20a%20Jerk%20(And%20How%20to%20Fight%20Back)"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Ways%20Your%20Money%20Is%20Being%20a%20Jerk%20%28And%20How%20to%20Fight%20Back%29.jpg" alt="5 Ways Your Money Is Being a Jerk (And How to Fight Back)" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-your-money-is-being-a-jerk-and-how-to-fight-back">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-smart-things-you-can-do-with-your-finances-even-if-youre-broke">15 Smart Things You Can Do With Your Finances, Even if You&#039;re Broke</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-personal-finance-rules-to-live-by-in-your-40s">6 Personal Finance Rules to Live By in Your 40s</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/6-reasons-why-financial-planning-isnt-just-for-the-wealthy">6 Reasons Why Financial Planning Isn&#039;t Just for the Wealthy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance broke credit card debt emergency fund interest money problems paycheck to paycheck retirement savings Tue, 16 Jan 2018 09:00:07 +0000 Paul Michael 2086756 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Biggest Dangers of Credit Card Debt http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-biggest-dangers-of-credit-card-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-biggest-dangers-of-credit-card-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bank_card_and_a_bunch_of_dollars.jpg" alt="Bank card and a bunch of dollars" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Worried that your credit card debt is rising too quickly? Wondering how you'll ever pay off your plastic? You're far from alone. Many Americans who carry balances on their credit cards struggle to pay it off.</p> <p>According to a 2017 household debt survey by NerdWallet, American households that have credit card debt owe an average $15,654 on their cards. Carrying balances that large can put a huge strain on your finances. And because it's credit card debt, it tends to have even higher interest costs than other types of debt.</p> <p>Here are the five biggest dangers of carrying credit card debt, and why paying it down is so important. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-scary-facts-about-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Scary Facts About Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>1. It grows too fast</h2> <p>The biggest problem with credit card debt? The high interest rates. It's not unusual for credit card companies to charge interest rates of 20 percent or more. Then, if you don't pay off your balances in full each month, they grow too quickly to keep up with.</p> <p>Many consumers make the mistake of only making their minimum required payment each month. When you have thousands of dollars of credit card debt, though, doing this means that you might never chip away at enough principal to pay off your balance.</p> <p>Here's an example: Say your credit card balance is $8,000 and your interest rate is 18 percent. If you make only your minimum required payment each month, it would take you 320 months &mdash; or more than 26 years &mdash; to pay off your debt. And during this time, you'd pay more than $11,420 in interest. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>2. It will damage your credit score</h2> <p>Having too much credit card debt will lower your credit score. According to myFICO.com, 30 percent of your credit score is based on your credit utilization ratio. That's how much revolving debt you have &mdash; including what you owe on your credit cards &mdash; compared to how much available credit you have. The higher your credit utilization ratio, the more likely it is that your overall credit score will suffer. And if your score is too low, you'll struggle to qualify for new credit and loans.</p> <h2>3. Missed credit card payments are even tougher on your credit score</h2> <p>Missed payments have a disastrous effect on your credit score. One late payment &mdash; which is noted on your credit reports once it's 30 days past due &mdash; can send your score tumbling by 100 points or more.</p> <p>Even worse, late payments remain on your three credit reports (maintained by TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) for seven years. Every time you apply for a new loan or credit, lenders and banks will see that missed payment, which might make them leery of loaning you money.</p> <h2>4. Your wages can be garnished</h2> <p>You can't go to jail for not paying your credit card debt: The United States does not have debtor's prison. But that doesn't mean that defaulting on your credit cards won't come with financial pain. Your creditors can sue if you don't pay your debt. And if your creditors win, they can garnish your wages to force you to pay back what you owe.</p> <h2>5. It can keep you from building a financial safety net</h2> <p>Building an emergency fund is a key step in protecting yourself from unexpected expenses. If a major, necessary cost suddenly pops up &mdash; say your hot water heater breaks, or your car needs a new transmission &mdash; you can pay for it with cash. Ideally, you should have from six to 12 months' worth of expenses saved up in your emergency fund. If you need $3,000 a month to live, you should have between $18,000 and $36,000 in your emergency fund.</p> <p>It can be tough saving up this kind of money. If you're paying off thousands of dollars of credit card debt at the same time, it's even more challenging. It's difficult to put $300 or more into an emergency fund every month when you also need to devote hundreds of dollars to your credit cards. And because credit card debt comes with such high interest, you really should focus on paying that debt off first. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-5-biggest-dangers-of-credit-card-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%25205%2520Biggest%2520Dangers%2520of%2520Credit%2520Card%2520Debt.jpg&amp;description=The%205%20Biggest%20Dangers%20of%20Credit%20Card%20Debt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%205%20Biggest%20Dangers%20of%20Credit%20Card%20Debt.jpg" alt="The 5 Biggest Dangers of Credit Card Debt" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-biggest-dangers-of-credit-card-debt">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/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off">9 Money Moves to Make the Moment Your Credit Cards Are Paid Off</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-foolish-ways-to-pay-down-debt">6 Foolish Ways to Pay Down Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-out-of-debt-why">Get Out of Debt? Why?</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/never-do-these-5-things-when-youre-in-debt">Never Do These 5 Things When You&#039;re in 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/7-ways-to-bounce-back-after-you-miss-a-credit-card-payoff-goal">7 Ways to Bounce Back After You Miss a Credit Card Payoff Goal</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management credit card debt credit score emergency fund garnished wages high interest debt missed payments owing money Tue, 09 Jan 2018 09:30:10 +0000 Dan Rafter 2080127 at http://www.wisebread.com The U.S. Savings Rate Has Tanked — Here's Why That Matters http://www.wisebread.com/the-us-savings-rate-has-tanked-heres-why-that-matters <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-us-savings-rate-has-tanked-heres-why-that-matters" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/financial_headache.jpg" alt="Financial Headache" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you stashing away fewer dollars in your retirement or savings accounts? You're not alone.</p> <p>The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that Americans are saving less money today than they have at anytime since 2007. The bureau reported that the U.S. savings rate fell to 3.1 percent in September 2017. That's the lowest it's been since this rate fell to 3 percent in December of 2007.</p> <p>If you recall, 2007 wasn't a great economic time for the United States. It was the beginning stages of the housing crash and the Great Recession. This prompts the question: Is the low savings rate a warning sign that the national economy might be in line for a slowdown? And why are people saving less?</p> <h2>A lower savings rate could mean a few things</h2> <p>The lower savings rate might mean that consumers are more confident in the economy. Instead of putting their dollars in traditional savings vehicles, people are investing more in the stock market and other assets. That happens when the economy is strong and investors think they can realize stronger returns.</p> <p>At the same time, consumers were spending more. The same report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that consumer spending rose 1 percent in September. That jump is the biggest since 2009.</p> <p>Again, this could be an indicator that consumers are more confident in the national economy. But, it could also be a worrisome trend. The drop in the savings rate at the same time that spending is up might be a sign that Americans aren't necessarily earning more, but are spending more at the expense of their savings. This trend is a dangerous one, as it can put more people in financial trouble down the line.</p> <h2>Keeping your savings up to speed</h2> <p>Of course, you can't worry about what people across the country are doing. You can, though, take a look at your <em>own</em> finances to determine if you are saving enough money. Exactly how much should you be saving? That's a complicated question, but a few rules of thumb can guide you in the right direction.</p> <h3>Emergency fund</h3> <p>You should have an emergency fund in a low-risk savings account that you can use to pay for unexpected repairs or financial emergencies. Financial experts recommend that you have at least six to 12 months' worth of daily living expenses saved in an emergency fund. That figure might sound intimidating, but if you start saving just a bit now, your emergency fund can grow quickly. If you save $100 a month, for instance, you'll have $1,200 saved after a year. Boost that figure to $300 a month, and you'll have a financial cushion with $3,600 in it by the end of a year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0</a>)</p> <h3>Retirement savings</h3> <p>How much you need for retirement varies depending on a host of factors; everything from what kind of retirement you want &mdash; one that involves a lot of traveling will cost more than one in which you spend most of your time golfing or fishing &mdash; and how much income you'll be earning each month.</p> <p>As a general rule, financial experts recommend that you save 10 to 15 percent of your income each year for retirement starting in your 20s. If you hit this goal every year, you should be able to build a solid nest egg for your post-work years.</p> <p>The challenge, though, is that this is such a general approach to retirement savings. It doesn't take into account the vagaries of your own financial situation. You might not have to save as much if you have royalty income, you plan to work part-time after leaving your full-time job, or you have inheritance money to rely on.</p> <p>The best advice is to max out contributions to an IRA and/or 401(k) account. Then meet with a certified financial planner who can study your current financial situation to determine if you are on pace to meet your retirement goals. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Signs You Aren't Saving Enough for Retirement</a>)</p> <p>And about that national savings rate? Just because <em>some </em>Americans are spending more and saving less doesn't mean you have to follow the trend. Stick to your savings goals if you want to enjoy a lower-stress financial life.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-us-savings-rate-has-tanked-heres-why-that-matters&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%2520U.S.%2520Savings%2520Rate%2520Has%2520Tanked%2520%25E2%2580%2594%2520Heres%2520Why%2520That%2520Matters.jpg&amp;description=The%20U.S.%20Savings%20Rate%20Has%20Tanked%20%E2%80%94%20Heres%20Why%20That%20Matters"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%20U.S.%20Savings%20Rate%20Has%20Tanked%20%E2%80%94%20Heres%20Why%20That%20Matters.jpg" alt="The U.S. Savings Rate Has Tanked &mdash; Here's Why That Matters" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-us-savings-rate-has-tanked-heres-why-that-matters">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-personal-finance-rules-to-live-by-in-your-40s">6 Personal Finance Rules to Live By in Your 40s</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/tariffs-what-they-are-and-how-they-impact-your-finances">Tariffs: What They Are and How They Impact Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-interest-rates-head-up">When Interest Rates Head Up</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/peak-debt">Peak 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/8-world-currencies-that-took-a-hit-in-2016">8 World Currencies That Took a Hit in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Financial News Economy emergency fund overspending retirement savings savings rate Tue, 21 Nov 2017 09:30:10 +0000 Dan Rafter 2057711 at http://www.wisebread.com The 4 Smartest Things to Do With an Inheritance http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-smartest-things-to-do-with-an-inheritance <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-4-smartest-things-to-do-with-an-inheritance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/one_hundred_usd_bills_stack.jpg" alt="One hundred USD bills stack" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you ever wondered what you'd do if you found yourself with an unexpected financial windfall, such as an inheritance? Chances are, you didn't say what most Americans actually do &mdash; which is, basically, to blow it all.</p> <p>That's right. According to recent research cited by the National Endowment for Financial Education, an estimated seven in 10 people who suddenly receive a large sum of money will lose it all within just a few years. It's not just a couple of bucks we're talking about, either &mdash; $30 trillion is expected to transfer between baby boomers and their heirs during the next 30 to 40 years, according to a recent report released by consulting giant Accenture. That's some serious cash.</p> <p>For many Americans, a modest inheritance of even $5,000 has the potential to change life for the better, so long as the inheritor knows what to do with the cash. Sadly, many of us don't. That's why I turned to financial planners from around the country and asked them outright: What exactly should an heir do with a newfound inheritance? Here's what they had to say.</p> <h2>Take time to grieve</h2> <p>An unexpected financial windfall &mdash; particularly if it was bestowed upon you following the death of a loved one &mdash; can often be accompanied by unexpected feelings of guilt. Many inheritors would much rather have more time with a beloved uncle than a bank account filled with his riches.</p> <p>Still, Matt Adams, financial adviser and partner at registered investment advisory firm Money Methods, suggests inheritors honor the memory of the giver by being a good steward of those newly acquired funds. &quot;It took sacrifice for the inheritor to acquire those assets,&quot; he says. &quot;Have a heart of gratitude and don't blow the money.&quot;</p> <p>Of course, that's often easier said than done, particularly if we don't have experience managing money or if friends or loved ones have designs on your newfound wealth.</p> <h2>Keep mum about your newfound riches</h2> <p>Your true friends will be there to help you grieve, but it may be in your best interest to keep the details about your newly inherited wealth to yourself. Many inheritors are surprised by how quickly their circle of friends and family seems to grow once word gets out about their newfound riches. Particularly during a time of grief, when many of us can fall prey to poorly made decisions, you'll want to know that your loved ones are there because they want to support you &mdash; not because they're hoping for financial gain.</p> <p>Sadly, that warning doesn't just apply to your besties.</p> <p>&quot;As a former banker, I can tell you that as soon as your deposit hits your account, bells and whistles will go off, informing everyone from the teller to the branch manager,&quot; says Jude Wilson, chief financial strategist at Wilson Group Financial. &quot;They will all have opinions of what you should do with your money.&quot; And, if you don't choose your advisers carefully, those opinions could very well be at odds with what is in your best interest.</p> <h2>Seek out sound expert advice</h2> <p>Many inheritors don't know how to manage a large influx of funds and, without the necessary financial know-how, it's easy to make money mistakes. You may intend to take good care of your benefactor's wealth, but &quot;it can be stressful to figure out how,&quot; says Wilson, who suggests new inheritors put together what he calls a &quot;dream team&quot; of advisers. This includes:</p> <ul style="margin-left: 40px;"> <li> <p>A financial planner who can help you develop a money plan that works best for you and your individual situation.</p> </li> <li> <p>A tax planner who can help you work through and perhaps even minimize the tax implications of your newfound wealth.</p> </li> <li> <p>An attorney who can help you navigate any potential probate issues.</p> </li> </ul> <p>If you find the idea of finding and hiring three new experts overwhelming, start with the financial planner. A good financial planner can help you identify any other experts you may need on your team. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-these-5-questions-before-deciding-on-a-financial-advisor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Ask These 5 Questions Before Deciding on a Financial Adviser</a>)</p> <p>If you just want someone to help you get started but don't want to pay for ongoing support, you can get a financial plan written up for a one-time fee from a fee-only certified financial planner. &quot;The cost can be anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000 depending on the scope of work and the experience of the planner,&quot; says Taylor Schulte, financial planner and owner of Stay Wealthy San Diego.</p> <p>Ultimately, though, make sure that you or the pro you're working with understands what type of money you're inheriting and how it should be treated. &quot;It could be a major misstep to liquidate and spend qualified money from an IRA [or other retirement account], which would be taxed at ordinary income rates,&quot; says Mitchell Bloom, financial planner, author, public speaker, and president of Bloom Financial.</p> <h2>Develop your money plan</h2> <p>Most of the planners I spoke with generally agree upon the steps new inheritors should take toward using their newfound wealth to build a financial base. Those include:</p> <ul style="margin-left: 40px;"> <li> <p>Pay off your high-interest debts. This is particularly true if you hold <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt" target="_blank">high-interest credit cards</a> or other consumer debt, like loans issued by furniture stores or used car dealerships. Student loans and new car debt also falls within this category.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund" target="_blank">Create an emergency fund</a>. This should amount to somewhere between three and six months' worth of expenses and, ultimately, should be able to tide you over in the event of an unexpected financial catastrophe like a job loss or illness.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/boost-your-retirement-savings-fast-with-this-6-step-plan" target="_blank">Boost your retirement savings</a>. A financial boon can help fill the gap between falling short and being retirement ready.</p> </li> </ul> <p>In short, it's far from easy to manage an inheritance. Make the most of the money your loved one left. That means using the funds to create a better life for yourself in the long run, no matter how much was passed down. It's what your benefactor would want.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-4-smartest-things-to-do-with-an-inheritance&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%25204%2520Smartest%2520Things%2520to%2520Do%2520With%2520an%2520Inheritance.jpg&amp;description=The%204%20Smartest%20Things%20to%20Do%20With%20an%20Inheritance"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%204%20Smartest%20Things%20to%20Do%20With%20an%20Inheritance.jpg" alt="The 4 Smartest Things to Do With an Inheritance" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-smartest-things-to-do-with-an-inheritance">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/9-end-of-life-cost-savings-your-survivors-will-thank-you-for">9 End-of-Life Cost Savings Your Survivors Will Thank You For</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-fair-way-to-split-up-your-familys-estate">The Fair Way to Split Up Your Family&#039;s Estate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-money-moves-for-empty-nesters">7 Smart Money Moves for Empty Nesters</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-minute-finance-create-financial-goals">5-Minute Finance: Create Financial Goals</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-times-you-need-to-update-your-will">6 Times You Need to Update Your Will</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance budgeting debt emergency fund grief heirs inheritance last will and testament leaving money retirement contributions windfalls Tue, 24 Oct 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 2038827 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Money Moves to Make After Buying Your First House http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-after-buying-your-first-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-money-moves-to-make-after-buying-your-first-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_woman_holding_keys_to_her_new_house.jpg" alt="Happy woman holding keys to her new house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You bought your first home. This is an exciting conclusion to what was likely a long and winding road. As you are unpacking your boxes, settling in, and decorating your new digs, there are some smart money moves you should make immediately to keep the good times rolling.</p> <h2>1. Adjust your last will and testament</h2> <p>Now that you have a new home, you need to update your will. In this time of excitement, updating a will might feel like putting a damper on the fun, but it's critically important. You need to be responsible for protecting the future of your loved ones and your home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-make-these-5-common-mistakes-when-writing-a-will?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Make These 5 Common Mistakes When Writing a Will</a>)</p> <h2>2. Get rid of PMI as fast as you can</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway?ref=internal" target="_blank">Private mortgage insurance</a> (PMI) is a necessary fee for most people who buy a home with less than a 20 percent down payment. This can be a significant expense, sometimes costing thousands of dollars each year. Do whatever you can to get to that 20 percent equity mark so that you can drop the PMI payments.</p> <h2>3. Make a plan to pay a little extra every month</h2> <p>At the beginning of a mortgage, you are mostly paying interest and very little principal with every monthly payment. That ratio of interest to principal will decrease eventually, but it will take a few years.</p> <p>To more quickly pay down your mortgage, set aside a little extra every month for your mortgage payment. Why? Anything you pay above your monthly payment goes directly against the principal. (Just be sure those extra payments are going to principal; check with your mortgage lender.) The faster you reduce your principal, the faster you will pay off your home. A lower principal will also make it easier to refinance the mortgage down the line if you choose to do that in the future. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What's Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a>)</p> <h2>4. Replenish your emergency funds</h2> <p>Many people use a substantial part of their cash savings, if not all of it, when they buy their first home. It&rsquo;s crucial that you begin to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency?ref=internal" target="_blank">rebuild this emergency fund</a> as soon as you can.</p> <p>An emergency fund is necessary if you lose your job for any reason, have unexpected bills, or if you need to do emergency repairs on your home. Experts in the consumer finance field have varying opinions when it comes to how much to set aside in an emergency fund, but many suggest having three to six month's worth of expenses saved. Some more conservative advisers even suggest saving up enough to cover one year of expenses. Consider your lifestyle and personal risk profile to find the best target amount for you.</p> <h2>5. Reconsider your life insurance policy</h2> <p>Now that you have this beautiful new home, you will need to make sure the mortgage can be covered by your life insurance. You don&rsquo;t want your heirs to struggle to figure out what to do in the event that an unforeseen circumstance occurs.</p> <p>How much insurance do you need? Generally, the guideline for life insurance is 10 times your annual income plus any large debts like a home mortgage. Talk to your insurance company and/or financial adviser to get their perspective, and make any necessary adjustments. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-life-insurance-isnt-just-for-old-people?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Reasons Why Life Insurance Isn't Just for Old People</a>)</p> <h2>6. Change your locks and install deadbolts</h2> <p>Safety is a huge part of homeownership, and it has financial implications. As soon as you have the keys in your hand, contact a locksmith to get all of the locks on your doors and windows changed, and install deadbolts on doors where you currently don&rsquo;t have them. The previous owners likely gave copies of their keys to neighbors, friends, family members, the dog walker, or people who did work on the home. You don&rsquo;t want those people to have access to what is now <em>your </em>house. You may also want to consider a home security system.</p> <p>All of these safety measures may provide a financial deduction on your homeowners insurance. Contact your insurance company to find out if you qualify for a reduction in your rate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-times-to-update-your-homeowners-insurance?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Times to Update Your Homeowners Insurance</a>)</p> <p>There is a desire to rest on our laurels after completing the purchase of a home. You should definitely bask in the glow of new homeownership, but this is also a time to remain financially vigilant. Remember that when it comes to your personal finances, remaining responsible and forward-thinking is the key to lasting success.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-money-moves-to-make-after-buying-your-first-house&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Money%2520Moves%2520to%2520Make%2520After%2520Buying%2520Your%2520First%2520House.jpg&amp;description=6%20Money%20Moves%20to%20Make%20After%20Buying%20Your%20First%20House"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Money%20Moves%20to%20Make%20After%20Buying%20Your%20First%20House.jpg" alt="6 Money Moves to Make After Buying Your First House" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-after-buying-your-first-house">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-neighborhood-features-for-new-families">5 Best Neighborhood Features for New Families</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-estate-planning-questions-everyone-should-ask">5 Estate Planning Questions Everyone Should Ask</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-ways-to-safeguard-your-financial-future-with-just-200">5 Ways to Safeguard Your Financial Future With Just $200</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-you-need-to-update-your-will">6 Times You Need to Update Your Will</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-moves-to-make-after-you-pay-off-your-mortgage">4 Money Moves to Make After You Pay Off Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing emergency fund estate planning first house homeowners insurance homeownership last will and testament life insurance new house private mortgage insurance safety Thu, 28 Sep 2017 08:01:06 +0000 Christa Avampato 2027477 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Budget When You Rely on Cash Tips http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-budget-when-you-rely-on-cash-tips <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-budget-when-you-rely-on-cash-tips" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/waitress_preparing_bill_at_cash_register_in_restaurant.jpg" alt="Waitress Preparing Bill At Cash Register In Restaurant" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you work in the service industry, the majority of your income likely comes from tips &mdash; and that can present difficulty when trying to budget your money responsibly. But just because it's not easy doesn't mean it's impossible. You can keep your cash flow in check if you have the right tools and systems in place.</p> <h2>Track every dollar you make</h2> <p>The first step to getting on track financially &mdash; even when your tips fluctuate from shift to shift &mdash; is to account for all of the cash you make over a period of time. You won't get a good idea of what to expect from month to month from just a couple weeks' worth of income, so it's best to monitor your tips over an extended period, ideally two to three months. This sampling should provide a decent basis on what you can expect to average throughout the year given that your place of employment is relatively consistent in terms of traffic. It may be a better idea to sample a slow period so you have a real bottom line as opposed to an inflated sense of income during a rush like the holidays.</p> <p>Natasha Rachel Smith, personal finance expert at TopCashBack.com, offers a suggestion to put this plan in place.</p> <p>&quot;Write down how much you make in a journal or spreadsheet after every shift for 10 weeks to get an idea of your average weekly income,&quot; she says. &quot;Although that amount will fluctuate depending on the economy, low or high seasons, and service quality, by averaging 10 weeks' worth of pay you can get a fairly reasonable and realistic idea of your typical earnings.&quot;</p> <h2>Create (and stick to) a budget based on goals</h2> <p>Once you have an idea of how much you can expect to bring home on average per month, it's time to budget your income so all your bills are paid on time &mdash; and so you're not stressed out and trying to scrounge up cash for a car payment at the last minute. To do this effectively, says finance expert Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network, create a budget based on goals.</p> <p>&quot;Whether your goal is to save on weekly grocery bills, have time to train for a marathon, save for retirement, or take a vacation to China, write down the goals and build your budget with the goals in mind.&quot;</p> <p>In the budget, be sure to include a line item for savings in the &quot;expenses&quot; area, and treat it as a mandatory item to be paid. But, it can also be a variable expense &mdash; establish a percentage of your take-home pay that you'd like to put toward your goal after every shift.</p> <p>&quot;Ten percent or more is ideal,&quot; Gallegos says, &quot;but if it's less than that, choose the number and stick to it.&quot;</p> <h2>Start a system for envelope budgeting</h2> <p>An easy way to delegate your funds to the bills you need to pay &mdash; especially if you don't want to make daily deposits to your checking account (which I don't recommend anyway because the only agency who will benefit from that paper trail is the IRS) &mdash; is to start a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system?ref=internal" target="_blank">system of envelope budgeting</a>. With this system, you add the regular cash you earn to envelopes designated for specific expenses, like rent, groceries, and student loans. By divvying up your cash after each shift, you can see in real-time how much you've saved and how much you still need to contribute to cover your general life expenses. This is also a good way to cut back on your &quot;extra&quot; expenses because live tracking will keep you informed on whether you can spare the money or not.</p> <h2>Separate your singles if you can afford it</h2> <p>If you can afford it, and provided you aren't only paid in this denomination, tuck away all one-dollar bills into a jar or container instead of spending them.</p> <p>&quot;Dollar bills will accumulate faster than change and it will give you a jar-fund to use when low on money or for the small, fun things in life,&quot; Smith says.</p> <h2>Look for patterns to keep your finances balanced</h2> <p>After a while, you'll be able to observe patterns in your income &mdash; a slump during the winter months or an uptick around a holiday, for instance &mdash; as well as determine a typical monthly minimum income level. By minding these patterns and building your budget around them, your finances should stay fairly balanced throughout the year so you're not stuck in the lurch because you were naive to expectation.</p> <p>Gallegos suggests holding on to receipts and keeping a spending log.</p> <p>&quot;Many people find it eye-opening to see how much they spend each day,&quot; he says. &quot;It's very similar to writing down everything you eat when trying to lose weight. Review carefully on a weekly basis to spot areas where you can cut back, and to become more familiar with your spending patterns.&quot;</p> <h2>Establish a &quot;floating fund&quot;</h2> <p>Another idea of Gallegos' that you may not have heard is the &quot;floating fund,&quot; which establishes an absolute baseline of sufficient savings to cover expenses such as quarterly estimated self-employment taxes and an emergency fund.</p> <p>&quot;Common wisdom suggests keeping six to nine months' living expenses in an emergency fund at all times,&quot; he explains. &quot;This fund then can also serve as a 'floating' fund to pull from during leaner times, for replenishment as income increases. It's key to think of the funds in this way &mdash; not just to pull from, but to replenish.&quot;</p> <p>You will need to train yourself to pull from &mdash; and replenish (the hard part!) &mdash; these funds on a regular basis to make this work.</p> <h2>Send financial windfalls directly to savings</h2> <p>When you earn or receive extra money &mdash; from a large event you work, a gift, or even a yard sale that you host &mdash; get in the habit of saving rather than spending that extra money. If you make this standard protocol whenever you come into unexpected cash, your savings will increase quicker.</p> <h2>Don't make any major financial commitments</h2> <p>The last thing you want to do if your income fluctuates is overextend yourself unnecessarily. Business can decline unexpectedly or you could lose your job altogether. These unfortunate circumstances can put you in a precarious predicament financially &mdash; perhaps even driving you into a deep debt situation that could impair your life for many years into the future.</p> <p>&quot;Stay away from accruing debts or taking out loans if you're living on a tip-based income,&quot; Smith advises. &quot;This is because your earnings are unpredictable and you could find one bad week creates a financial avalanche, simply because you didn't make enough money to cover a car payment or a credit card's minimum repayment.&quot;</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-budget-when-you-rely-on-cash-tips&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Budget%2520When%2520You%2520Rely%2520on%2520Cash%2520Tips.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Budget%20When%20You%20Rely%20on%20Cash%20Tips"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Budget%20When%20You%20Rely%20on%20Cash%20Tips.jpg" alt="How to Budget When You Rely on Cash Tips" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-budget-when-you-rely-on-cash-tips">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/everything-you-need-to-know-about-switching-to-the-cash-only-lifestyle">Everything You Need to Know About Switching to the Cash Only Lifestyle</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/managing-your-short-term-money">Managing Your Short-Term 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/this-simple-journal-may-be-the-fix-for-your-finances">This Simple Journal May be the Fix for Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-bucket-budgeting-to-overhaul-your-finances">How to Use Bucket Budgeting to Overhaul Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-an-all-cash-diet-right-for-you">Is an All-Cash Diet Right for You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting cash emergency fund Envelope system expenses floating fund goals paying bills service industry tips windfalls Wed, 13 Sep 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 2019306 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Times It's OK to Pause Saving and Investing http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-its-ok-to-pause-saving-and-investing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-times-its-ok-to-pause-saving-and-investing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/paper_boat_with_1_dollar_bill_sail_is_blown_onshore.jpg" alt="Paper boat with $1 bill sail is blown onshore" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In most circumstances, saving and investing should be a priority &mdash; one of your highest priorities, in fact. And we'd never advise you let short-term situations derail your long-term financial goals. However, there are a few particular times in life when investing shouldn't be at the top of your to-do list.</p> <p>That's not to say you shouldn't invest; just that you should focus on the particular situation, and how to handle it, before you turn your attention back to investing.</p> <h2>1. You don't have an emergency fund</h2> <p>If you haven't yet <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund" target="_blank">built up an emergency fund</a>, your savings should go toward doing so before they go to investments or long-term savings plans. An emergency fund is a form of defense, a buffer that keeps a singular financial issue from becoming a big, ongoing financial crisis.</p> <p>With an emergency fund in place, you can handle unexpected expenses &mdash; like that dental work, or car repair, or emergency trip to help a family member &mdash; without depleting your long-term savings or accruing high-interest debt. Before you start investing, save as much as you can each month until you've built up an emergency fund to carry you through those unpredictable times in life. Experts recommend stashing three to six months' worth of salary &mdash; the higher your monthly expenses, the more you should save.</p> <h2>2. You have too much unsecured debt</h2> <p>If you are paying off high-interest, unsecured debt and struggling to make the minimum payments, now is not the time to start investing. Instead, you need to get your debt reduced to a manageable size so you can reduce the amount of interest you're paying. Otherwise you may end up losing money; if you're investing money in something with a 10 percent return, but you're paying a 21 percent interest rate on an equal amount of money, you're losing 11 percent each year.</p> <p>Focus your savings efforts on a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-credit-card-debt-elimination-strategies" target="_blank">credit card debt reduction plan</a>, such as the snowball or debt ladder method. If you feel that your debt is at crisis level, consider debt consolidation (but <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-these-common-debt-consolidation-traps" target="_blank">use caution</a> when considering your consolidation options) to get it under control.</p> <h2>3. You don't have a dependable income</h2> <p>Perhaps you're starting your own business, just starting your career, or you're self-employed and struggling to keep the monthly income steady. If you're unable to predict what your income will be from one month to the next, you may need to wait on those long-term investments.</p> <p>Instead, focus on regulating your income or using some smart strategies &mdash; such as setting up a slush fund, and having a minimum income budget &mdash; to establish stability on a fluctuating income. Once you feel that you have a good financial strategy in place, and can predict the amount you'll be able to save each month, start looking at your investment options.</p> <h2>4. You're in the midst of a financial crisis</h2> <p>It's always better to take a long-term view of the situation, when it comes to finances. However, when you're handling a financial crisis, the most immediate steps are the most important. You need to stop the financial bleeding, so to speak, before you turn your attention to long-term investments. Otherwise, you'll bleed out your financial resources and end up cashing out your investments early, before they can offer you any return.</p> <p>Therefore, if you're facing a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-sudden-loss-of-income" target="_blank">sudden income loss</a>, a potential layoff, a medical or family crisis, or other life emergency that has triggered a financial crisis, deal with the crisis and focus on stabilizing your day-to-day finances first.</p> <h2>5. You don't have enough information</h2> <p>The final reason to avoid investing is less about your financial situation and more about the investment opportunity itself. If you don't have adequate information, don't invest. Instead, take the time to do your due diligence: examine the risks, the potential return, and what the experts say about each investment opportunity.</p> <p>If it seems like a sure thing, and you're tempted to dump the entire contents of your savings account in, take a step back. Hold a counsel meeting with your financial planner and go over the questions they provide, questions you might not have thought to ask. Once you're confident that you have accurate information and understand the big picture of each potential investment, you're in a position to decide which ones are right for you.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-times-its-ok-to-pause-saving-and-investing&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Times%2520It%2527s%2520OK%2520to%2520Pause%2520Saving%2520and%2520Investing.jpg&amp;description=5%20Times%20It's%20OK%20to%20Pause%20Saving%20and%20Investing"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Times%20It%27s%20OK%20to%20Pause%20Saving%20and%20Investing.jpg" alt="5 Times It's OK to Pause Saving and Investing" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-its-ok-to-pause-saving-and-investing">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/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off">9 Money Moves to Make the Moment Your Credit Cards Are Paid Off</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-for-retirement-when-you-are-unemployed">How to Save for Retirement When You Are Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-i-learned-about-money-after-using-acorns">Here&#039;s What I Learned About Money After Using Acorns</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spring-clean-your-debt">How to Spring-Clean Your 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/how-to-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required">How to Manage Your Money — No Budgeting Required</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment emergency fund financial crisis high interest debt loss of income money management saving money unsecured debt Wed, 06 Sep 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Annie Mueller 2012631 at http://www.wisebread.com Build a Secure Future Starting With Your Next Paycheck http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-secure-future-starting-with-your-next-paycheck <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/build-a-secure-future-starting-with-your-next-paycheck" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/check_remote_deposit_capture_at_cafe.jpg" alt="Check Remote Deposit Capture at Cafe" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've been putting off the inevitable with your money &mdash; finally getting your finances in order &mdash; now's your chance. Take advantage of that next paycheck coming in, and make these smart money moves.</p> <h2>1. Increase your savings and debt repayment, even by a little</h2> <p>Ideally you've been portioning out your paychecks to cover your monthly expenses, throw a little into savings, and pay down whatever consumer debt you've racked up. On your next payday, it's a smart move to increase (even by a small amount) the percentage you allocate toward savings and debt repayment. Every little bit will help provide you with more of a rainy-day cushion and chip away at nagging debt.</p> <p>If you have credit card debt, focus on your highest-interest card first, and go from there. This strategy, also known as the avalanche method, will save you the most money in the long run on interest payments. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Method to Eliminate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>You may have to cut a discretionary item from your budget &mdash; like a night out with your pals &mdash; to afford this responsible increase. You're an adult, and it's time to start managing your money like one.</p> <h2>2. Investigate your life insurance options</h2> <p>There are plenty of cases to make for taking out a life insurance policy, but the most important one is so your spouse and children can get through the first few years after your untimely death. This is not a fun subject to think about, but it's a necessity. If you should suddenly pass away, you will want to leave your family as well taken care of as possible.</p> <p>If you're single without a mortgage, life insurance probably doesn't need to be a priority when you can put your money somewhere more useful &mdash; like a 401(k). But heads of households absolutely need to have this money move on their radar, if not at the top of their list. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-life-insurance-isnt-just-for-old-people?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Reasons Why Life Insurance Isn't Just for Old People</a>)</p> <h2>3. Set up new accounts for automated savings</h2> <p>In all likelihood, you have a single savings account &mdash; but if you have a hard time managing your money, perhaps one isn't enough. In fact, Kevin, creator of Financial Panther, goes so far as to suggest multiple accounts to which you can automate your savings. By putting this concept into practice, he was able to pay off $87,000 of student loan debt in two and a half years.</p> <p>&quot;If people have a matching 401(k) for work, they should try to put as much as they can into that right off the bat, and try to increase it little by little each paycheck,&quot; Kevin says. &quot;From there, I like to set up multiple accounts where I can send my money to. I have accounts for short-term savings goals, long-term, and a Roth IRA, which I contribute money to since I max out my 401(k) each year. I also have micro-savings apps working for me, which take out extra money from my checking account based on algorithms they have &hellip; and stores that money in a separate account.&quot;</p> <p>The money Kevin is left with is what he considers his &quot;true&quot; income. His multiple savings account method creates barriers for him to access his money, in turn making it harder to spend on frivolous things. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-savings-faster-with-a-multiple-account-strategy?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Build Savings Faster With a Multiple Account Strategy</a>)</p> <h2>4. Invest in self-improvement</h2> <p>Fact: You can earn more money in your career when you have more relevant skills. Thus, investing in yourself is just as important as saving or paying off debt. The return on investment can be exponential if what you're learning is valuable and you put it to work for you. This can be as simple as brushing up on networking, or taking continuing education courses at your local community college. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-a-professional-association-can-boost-your-career?ref=seealso" target="_blank">11 Ways a Professional Association Can Boost Your Career</a>)</p> <h2>5. Get that emergency fund back on track</h2> <p>Maybe you've recently had a crisis and you needed to pull money from your emergency fund. Or, maybe you've just had more important and costly bills to pay in the meantime that have disrupted your savings. Whatever the case, start building this fund again, even if it's just small contributions here and there. You owe it to yourself to be prepared for the unexpected, and you don't want to have to reach for a high-interest credit card to bail yourself out of a problem. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Fast Ways to Restock an Emergency Fund After an Emergency</a>)</p> <h2>6. Switch banks if yours isn't the best place for your money</h2> <p>One of the worst financial habits is sticking with the same bank, even if it's not the best choice for your money. If you've been contemplating switching institutions recently, use your next paycheck to give the move serious thought. Maybe your savings can earn more elsewhere, and if you're lucky, you can find a high-yield checking account and other incentives &mdash; like a couple hundred dollars in free money &mdash; just for making the move. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-switch-banks?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Switch Banks</a>)</p> <h2>7. Make a move to get ahead</h2> <p>If you're lamenting on a regular basis that you never have enough money for this or that, sit down next payday and consider your options. How can you increase your income? How can you bump up your savings and retirement contributions? If this isn't possible with your current take-home pay, it's probably time to weigh your options.</p> <p>Should you start looking for a new, higher-paying job? Should you go back to school to learn a new skill? Do you have time to add a side-gig to your schedule, like <a href="https://uber.7eer.net/c/27771/207645/3437?sharedid=000_wisebread.com">driving for Uber</a> or Lyft, or pet sitting via Rover.com? These are all options you have; you just have to want them bad enough. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-best-side-jobs-for-fast-cash?ref=seealso" target="_blank">14 Best Side Jobs for Fast Cash</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Build%20a%20Secure%20Future%20Starting%20With%20Your%20Next%20Paycheck.jpg" alt="Build a Secure Future Starting With Your Next Paycheck" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-secure-future-starting-with-your-next-paycheck">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-personal-finance-rules-to-live-by-in-your-40s">6 Personal Finance Rules to Live By in Your 40s</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-why-financial-planning-isnt-just-for-the-wealthy">6 Reasons Why Financial Planning Isn&#039;t Just for the Wealthy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-smart-things-you-can-do-with-your-finances-even-if-youre-broke">15 Smart Things You Can Do With Your Finances, Even if You&#039;re Broke</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-putting-off-these-9-adult-money-moves">Are You Putting Off These 9 Adult Money Moves?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance banking debt repayment emergency fund life insurance money moves paycheck payday savings self improvement Mon, 21 Aug 2017 08:00:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 2005635 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Strategies for Paying Off Debt When Living on a Variable Income http://www.wisebread.com/7-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-516427450.jpg" alt="Woman paying off debt on variable income" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Paying off debt can be a challenge even if you have a steady paycheck. When your income is variable, it's even harder. These strategies can help you take care of your financial obligations even when your salary isn't stable.</p> <h2>1. Set a budget from your baseline</h2> <p>Take a look at your earning potential and set a baseline. Base it on what you can expect to earn even in a worst-case scenario month. For example, if you're in sales and you earn a base salary plus commission, your baseline is your base salary. If you're a freelancer with several contracted clients and fluctuating income from other projects, your baseline is what you earn from the ongoing contracts.</p> <p>From your baseline, build a budget that covers the minimum payments you need to make every month. If more money comes in, you can split it among savings and paying down debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-smart-way-to-budget-on-a-freelance-income?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Smart Way to Budget on a Freelance Income</a>)</p> <h2>2. Reduce your expenses and bills</h2> <p>Be very detailed in your baseline budget. Your recurring bills are the starting point; your actual spending is just as important. You need to know, for example, if you spend $100 on books every month, or if your grocery bill is $200 more than you think it is. Once you're aware of all your bills and expenses, look for ways to reduce them. You don't need to reduce them all; keep the expenses that give you the greatest payback in satisfaction and minimize the costs that don't add much to your quality of life.</p> <p>If you're paying off more than one debt, debt consolidation might be key to reducing multiple high-interest payments into one monthly payment. Explore your options to determine if you can lower your debt interest and payments and close that gap.</p> <h2>3. Build up your gap savings</h2> <p>When you have a high-earnings month, send a percentage into a savings account and let it accumulate over time. When needed, you can use it to fill in the gap when your baseline earnings aren't quite enough.</p> <h2>4. Pick up a side hustle</h2> <p>Another strategy for closing the baseline gap is to pick up a steady side job. There are many kinds of side hustles and part-time jobs you can consider; it's most helpful, in this case, if you find one that will give you a predictable amount of earnings every month. That way, you can add it to your baseline so that there's no longer a gap between what you'll make and what you need to make.</p> <p>When you get that big commission or finally get paid for the last project, it's tempting to splurge and enjoy the high times. A little splurging is good for morale, but the key to surviving and thriving on a variable income is making the most of the big paydays.</p> <h2>5. Follow a savings plan</h2> <p>You may not be able to add to your savings during the lean times. But when your earnings spike, save a good percentage of it. Put a plan in place before you get the big payday. You might decide, for example, that anything over your baseline gets divided into three categories: 30 percent for savings, 30 percent for debt payments, and 30 percent for expenses that have been on hold. That leaves you 10 percent for splurge money.</p> <h2>6. Follow a debt reduction plan</h2> <p>If you use the plan above, or one similar to it, you'll know that a set percentage of your earnings over baseline go to reducing your debt. It's good practice to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, otherwise known as the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snowballs-or-avalanches-which-debt-reduction-strategy-is-best-for-you?ref=internal" target="_blank">avalanche method</a>. You can also negotiate with creditors if you have a good chunk of the debt ready to pay. Some creditors will reduce your total amount owed if you're able to pay off most of it in cash, right away.</p> <h2>7. Maximize your savings</h2> <p>Finally, don't let a variable income keep you from being smart about how you save. While it feels good to have cash at the ready, it's a smarter long-term strategy to put your savings into high-earning investments. Build up a decent <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?ref=internal" target="_blank">emergency fund</a> so you can handle a crisis and close that baseline gap as needed. Put any savings beyond the emergency fund into longer term investments with a higher yield, so you make the most out of your income, variable or not.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F7-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F7%2520Strategies%2520for%2520Paying%2520Off%2520Debt%2520When%2520Living%2520on%2520a%2520Variable%2520Income.jpg&amp;description=7%20Strategies%20for%20Paying%20Off%20Debt%20When%20Living%20on%20a%20Variable%20Income"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/7%20Strategies%20for%20Paying%20Off%20Debt%20When%20Living%20on%20a%20Variable%20Income_0.jpg" alt="7 Strategies for Paying Off Debt When Living on a Variable Income" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-budget-consistently-without-a-steady-paycheck">How to Budget Consistently Without a Steady Paycheck</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/try-these-6-money-saving-challenges-now">Try These 6 Money-Saving Challenges Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-live-on-12-000-a-year">How to live on $12,000 a year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-dont-ever-stop">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Don&#039;t Ever Stop</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-its-time-to-close-your-business">5 Signs It&#039;s Time to Close Your Business</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Debt Management Entrepreneurship debt payments emergency fund financial planning freelance saving money self employed side gigs variable income Wed, 02 Aug 2017 08:00:09 +0000 Annie Mueller 1990975 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 New Reasons You Need an Emergency Fund http://www.wisebread.com/4-new-reasons-you-need-an-emergency-fund <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-new-reasons-you-need-an-emergency-fund" 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_money_jar_filled_with_american_currency.jpg" alt="Emergency fund money jar filled with American currency" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You need an emergency fund: You've probably been told this plenty of times before, and you maybe haven't taken it as seriously as you should have.</p> <p>Well, some fresh data from 2017 proves that &hellip; yes, you really do need an emergency fund! If you've delayed stashing that money away, now is the time to start.</p> <h2>1. Potentially higher health care costs under AHCA</h2> <p>Let's start with a big-ticket item: health care. Under the current administration, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is adjusting several items from its predecessor, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.</p> <p>Depending on several factors, including your age, and income level, and where you live, you may end up paying more or less under the AHCA than you did under the ACA. Those who are older, have a lower income, and live in an area with higher premiums are likely to pay more under the AHCA. For example, while a 40-year-old resident of Cherry County, Nebraska making $50,000 per year would pay 21 percent more in health premiums under the AHCA, a 27-year-old resident of Tulare County, California would pay 26 percent <em>less</em>.</p> <p>To get an idea of how much you would in pay under the AHCA, use this <a href="http://kff.org/interactive/tax-credits-under-the-affordable-care-act-vs-replacement-proposal-interactive-map/" target="_blank">predictor tool</a> from the Kaiser Family Foundation and get more information from your current health plan provider. Having an emergency fund would allow you to be ready to cover not only medical emergencies, but also the potential hike in those health care premiums.</p> <h2>2. Worrying about finances makes you less productive at work</h2> <p>According to recent data from the Employment Benefit Research Institute, three in 10 American workers claim they worry about personal finance at their workplace. Even worse, over 50 percent of those workers believe that time spent fretting about money is making them less productive for their employers.</p> <p>If you belong to this group of workers, then you would regain peace of mind at work with an emergency fund. By knowing that you could cover your necessities for three to six months if you were to lose your job, you would be able to focus on performing better and increasing your chance of a raise.</p> <h2>3. Average credit card APR is on the rise</h2> <p>What do you do when you don't have money to cover surprise expenses, such as the water heater breaking or the car going on the fritz? Most people without an emergency fund turn to a credit card.</p> <p>Well, here is some bad news: A CreditCards.com survey found that the average credit card APR had reached a record 15.89 percent as of June 14, 2017. If your credit score is less than perfect, you can expect to pay an interest rate even higher than that average.</p> <p>Remember, the whole point of having an emergency fund is to lower your financial risk. By using a credit card as an emergency fund, you're only adding risk to your personal finances.</p> <h2>4. Opportunity only comes around so often</h2> <p>Many people think of an emergency fund as a &quot;rainy day fund.&quot; However, others think of it as an &quot;opportunity fund&quot; &mdash; a way to never miss out on a great opportunity for want of cash. And while an emergency fund should never be thought of as play money, if you have enough saved, you can use some of that cash to fund a special opportunity that may not come again. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-opportunity-funds-are-the-new-emergency-funds?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why &quot;Opportunity&quot; Funds Are the New Emergency Funds</a>)</p> <p>Here are some examples:</p> <ul> <li> <p>You have the chance to refinance your mortgage to a lower rate (and lower your monthly payment!), but you don't have any savings to cover the necessary $2,000 to $3,000 closing costs. Luckily, there's enough in your emergency fund to help you go through with the refi.</p> </li> <li> <p>You've had a lifelong dream of taking a two-week trip around Europe, but the tour company that you like is a little out of your price range. They offer a limited-time discount, and you pull some money from your emergency fund to take that trip of a lifetime.</p> </li> <li> <p>The refrigerator that you've had since college has been jacking up your electricity bill for years. You discover that you could slash your monthly bill by 40 percent <em>and </em>get an energy rebate from the state government if you were to buy a more energy-efficient model. You don't have the money upfront, and the rebate expires next month &hellip; but there's enough in your emergency fund.</p> </li> </ul> <p>The list goes on. An emergency fund is usually a building block to achieve financial security, but it could also allow you to gain financial freedom. Once you gain the discipline to save enough to cover your necessities in case of an emergency, you may be able to continue to save in case of a seizable opportunity &mdash; or even a lifelong dream.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F4-new-reasons-you-need-an-emergency-fund&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F4%2520New%2520Reasons%2520You%2520Need%2520an%2520Emergency%2520Fund.jpg&amp;description=4%20New%20Reasons%20You%20Need%20an%20Emergency%20Fund"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/4%20New%20Reasons%20You%20Need%20an%20Emergency%20Fund.jpg" alt="4 New Reasons You Need an Emergency Fund" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-new-reasons-you-need-an-emergency-fund">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/5-minute-finance-start-an-emergency-fund">5-Minute Finance: Start an Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-saving-money-is-harder-today">Why Saving Money Is Harder Today</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-places-to-check-out-medical-care-for-the-uninsured">5 Places to Check out Medical Care for the Uninsured</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-an-all-cash-diet-right-for-you">Is an All-Cash Diet Right for You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required">How to Manage Your Money — No Budgeting Required</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance APR emergency fund expenses health care interest rates job loss opportunity fund rainy day fund saving money stress surprises Thu, 29 Jun 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1973594 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Foolish Ways to Pay Down Debt http://www.wisebread.com/6-foolish-ways-to-pay-down-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-foolish-ways-to-pay-down-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/reduce_debt_concept.jpg" alt="Reduce debt concept" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Living paycheck to paycheck is even more challenging with loads of high-interest debt. At the end of the month, you've worked hard and barely made a dent in the principal you owe.</p> <p>Sound familiar? If so, it's time to develop a repayment strategy that avoids common gimmicks and shortsighted solutions that only dig a deeper hole. Here are six terrible ways to get out of debt.</p> <h2>1. Depleting your retirement account</h2> <p>Taking a loan against your 401(k) account is a trifecta of bad ideas. First, your employer may not allow you to make new contributions until the loan is repaid in full. Second, because of those loan payments, you'll take home less money &mdash; a situation that can turn household budgets upside down and may tempt you to revert to bad credit habits. Third, if you leave your job, the outstanding loan amount must be repaid immediately. Not able to swing it? Then you'll get hit with early withdrawal fees and be responsible for income tax on the balance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-traps-to-avoid-with-your-401k?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Traps to Avoid With Your 401(k)</a>)</p> <h2>2. Consolidating debt with a high-interest loan</h2> <p>Whack-a-Mole is a classic arcade game, not a debt repayment strategy. Consolidating debt into a single loan <em>only </em>works if the interest rate is low (that is, significantly lower than your average credit card rate). Proceed with caution. Understand the terms of any loan that's offered and don't be seduced by low monthly payment amounts that actually keep you paying for a longer period of time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>3. Borrowing against your home</h2> <p>What's worse than being in debt? Being homeless and in debt. If your current debt is unsecured (that is, not tied to any property as collateral), why secure it by folding it into your mortgage? If you don't pay back an unsecured debt, you'll end up with a bad credit score. But &mdash; and this is a <em>big but </em>&mdash; if you don't repay a home-equity loan, you'll end up with a bad credit score and a foreclosure.</p> <h2>4. Draining your emergency fund</h2> <p>An emergency fund serves a singular purpose: It's a safety net that helps people cope with a job loss or unexpected expense without resorting to high-interest credit cards. Tapping your emergency fund to pay off unsecured debt today jeopardizes your financial security and can leave you exposed to even higher debt levels tomorrow. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h2>5. Working with a debt settlement company</h2> <p>Sure, convincing your creditors to accept a lump-sum payment of less than what's owed sounds fantastic. But debtors beware: Sometimes <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-debt-settlement-can-leave-you-deeper-in-debt-even-with-trustworthy-companies?ref=internal" target="_blank">debt settlement can make things worse</a>. As part of the lengthy and fee-riddled settlement process, you must stop paying your debts &mdash; an act that triggers collection calls, late fees, and negative credit reporting. And even if all your creditors agree to the settlement terms (there are no guarantees), it'll take years to rebuild your credit score.</p> <p>To better understand your debt, connect with a <em>nonprofit </em>credit counseling service instead. (The FTC has some tips on <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor" target="_blank">finding and choosing a reputable credit counseling service</a>.) These agencies help consumers review their budgets and design a repayment plan that's realistic and effective. They may negotiate with creditors on your behalf to lower penalties and interest charges, but they won't go to the drastic and credit-damaging lengths that many debt settlement companies do.</p> <h2>6. Borrowing from family or friends</h2> <p>While borrowing from those closest to you may seem like a reasonable way to avoid predatory debt-settlement services and high-interest loans, it's a quick way to shorten your Christmas list permanently. One missed payment or one obvious personal splurge builds ill will that's difficult to overcome. Unless you're absolutely certain you can pay back the money without a single hiccup, avoid mixing finances with family and friends.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-foolish-ways-to-pay-down-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Foolish%2520Ways%2520to%2520Pay%2520Down%2520Debt.jpg&amp;description=6%20Foolish%20Ways%20to%20Pay%20Down%20Debt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Foolish%20Ways%20to%20Pay%20Down%20Debt.jpg" alt="6 Foolish Ways to Pay Down Debt" width="250" height="374" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-foolish-ways-to-pay-down-debt">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/the-5-biggest-dangers-of-credit-card-debt">The 5 Biggest Dangers of Credit Card 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/paying-your-debts-in-the-wrong-order-could-be-costing-you">Paying Your Debts in the Wrong Order Could Be Costing You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-tough-questions-about-debt-answered">7 Tough Questions About Debt, Answered</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-use-peer-to-peer-lending-to-pay-down-credit-card-debt">Should You Use Peer-to-Peer Lending to Pay Down Credit Card 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/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management 401(k) loan borrowing money debt settlements emergency fund high interest debt home equity loan money mistakes mortgages repayment Tue, 13 Jun 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Kentin Waits 1961854 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Signs You Aren't Prepared for an Emergency http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-you-arent-prepared-for-an-emergency <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-signs-you-arent-prepared-for-an-emergency" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-487795974.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everyone eventually faces an emergency, whether it's related to finances, health, the weather, or something else entirely. The more prepared we are, however, the easier it is to roll with the punches when life throws them our way. Are you ready? Here are eight signs you aren't prepared for an emergency. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-decide-if-its-a-fund-worthy-emergency?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways to Decide if It's a &quot;Fund-Worthy&quot; Emergency</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Haven't Saved a Single Cent</h2> <p>While emergencies come in various forms, many of us will face a financial crisis at some point &mdash; and it may be hard to keep your head above water when it strikes.</p> <p>Financial experts constantly preach the importance of an emergency fund. Yet some people don't take steps to ensure they have enough in reserves for unexpected surprises. If you have little to no money reserved for a financial emergency, you likely won't come out of it on top.</p> <p>Say you lose your job and primary source of income. Even if you're eligible for unemployment compensation, what you receive on a monthly basis may be significantly less than your regular salary. Your finances can also take a hit if a medical emergency triggers high monthly payments to a hospital or doctor's office. If you can't afford your health insurance deductible, which can run thousands of dollars, this can result in delaying needed medical treatment.</p> <p>Similarly, lack of a savings account causes problems when you deal with a car repair or a home repair. Some people rely on a credit card when they don't have money in the bank. This puts them in debt and makes it even harder to save over a long period of time.</p> <h2>2. You Don't Have an Emergency Kit</h2> <p>If you've never lived through a natural disaster (count your blessings), you may not worry much about one impacting your life. But anything is possible, and it's important to have emergency supplies on hand just in case. For instance, if you were to lose power after a major storm and couldn't stay at a relative or friend's house, it'll be difficult to prepare food, and the food in your refrigerator would begin to spoil as the temperature inside the fridge rises. Sometimes we don't realize how much we need electricity for meal preparation until we don't have it.</p> <p>Be prepared and always maintain a supply of nonperishable food and one gallon of water per person per day &mdash; for at least three days. Personally, I have about nine gallons of water stored in my basement for this purpose. Also consider purchasing a go bag &mdash; available at most outdoor or sporting goods stores &mdash; which is prepacked with essentials in the event of an emergency. Mine has food rations, survival and self-defense tools, first-aid materials, and more. You can add items to the bag as needed. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-emergency-kits?ref=seealaso" target="_blank">The 5 Best Emergency Kits</a>)</p> <h2>3. You Don't Have a Backup Generator</h2> <p>Power outages caused by wind and ice storms and other natural disasters can last for hours, or even days. When you don't have power, any appliance that requires electricity becomes useless, including your stove, fridge, deep freezer, and HVAC unit.</p> <p>To prepare for long-term outages, consider a permanent or portable emergency generator. These machines can restore power to your home in a jiff. Permanent generators sit outside the home and run on propane or natural gas, just like your outdoor grill. A portable generator &mdash; which is a cheaper alternative (and probably all you need if you're not in a frequent disaster zone) &mdash; can operate on gas or diesel fuel. You can store it in the garage, but you should never run the generator inside the home. Using a generator indoors can cause buildup of carbon monoxide, and that can kill you.</p> <h2>4. You Don't Know the Location of Important Documents</h2> <p>In the event of an emergency, you'll also need to grab important documents before you head out the door, and unfortunately, if you're unorganized and have your documents stored in different locations, it'll be difficult to quickly locate them in an emergency. Get organized and keep important paperwork clearly labeled in a fireproof locked cabinet, preferably inside a sealed plastic bag; both measures protect the paper from fire and water. Important documents include Social Security cards, passports, your homeowner's or renter's insurance policies, medical insurance cards, and the like.</p> <h2>5. You Don't Have Extra Insurances</h2> <p>If you have health insurance, auto insurance, homeowner's insurance, and life insurance, you probably think you've covered your bases. But these aren't the only insurances to think about. Life can go horribly wrong in a matter of seconds, so prepare for the &quot;what ifs&quot; with additional insurance and protect your assets.</p> <p>If you haven't already, compare costs for a short-term disability policy which pays a percentage of your salary if you become temporarily disabled and can't work. There are also legal insurance plans that provide affordable legal representation in the event that someone takes legal action against you. Even if you do not live in a flood zone, a flood insurance plan is worth consideration. This is because a standard homeowner's insurance policy does not cover flood damage. Also, most insurance policies have a hurricane deductible, which is higher than the policy's standard deductible for theft, fire, and other perils.</p> <p>If you have a hurricane deductible and your home is damaged by a hurricane, this deductible is a percentage of your home's assessed value, which can be as much as 5%. If a hurricane causes a tree to fall on your house, or if hurricane-force winds break your windows and rain water floods your property, you have to pay the hurricane deductible before your insurance company pays for any damage. On the other hand, if you purchase flood insurance, the policy covers flood and/or rain damage caused by the hurricane.</p> <h2>6. You Don't Keep a Stock of Batteries or Candles</h2> <p>Nowadays, cellphones do more than make and receive phone calls. You can use your phone's Internet to check the weather or news, and some smartphones even have a built-in flashlight. With so much technology in the palm of your hands, it's easy to downplay the importance of an old-fashioned flashlight, batteries, and candles during an emergency.</p> <p>However, no matter what type of phone you have, the battery will eventually die. And if you lose power and don't have a backup generator, you can't power your electronic devices. To make sure you're never stuck in the dark and cut off from the outside world, keep a supply of batteries and candles on hand.</p> <h2>7. You Don't Have Extra Gasoline for Your Car</h2> <p>When a natural disaster causes widespread power outages, gas stations without backup electricity will not have working pumps, which can trigger a local gas shortage. If you don't have fuel in your car, you can't drive or evacuate the area, if necessary. That, in itself, should be a top priority when you're expecting a major weather event. You must be able to evacuate if needed. Also, lack of gasoline means you can't power a portable generator.</p> <p>Ideally, you should fill up your car before disaster strikes. But of course, impending danger doesn't always come with a heads up. To prepare yourself, consider stockpiling several gallons of gasoline in an approved airtight container. Many containers can hold between five and 25 gallons. Store your gasoline supply in a cool location outside of your home, such as a shed or garage.</p> <h2>8. You Don't Have an Outdoor Grill</h2> <p>Regardless of whether you prefer cooking on the grill or stove, a charcoal or gas grill comes in handy during an emergency. If you can't use your stove due to lack of electricity, outdoor grilling lets you enjoy a hot meal until your utility company restores power. Grill veggies, hot dogs, hamburgers, and any other meat you have on ice in a cooler (because otherwise it's probably going to spoil if the power is out for too long). Plan ahead and make sure you have enough charcoal, lighter fluid, or gas to get you through at least a week without power.</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/8-signs-you-arent-prepared-for-an-emergency">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-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income">7 Strategies for Paying Off Debt When Living on a Variable Income</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-when-is-it-worth-hiring-household-help">We Do the Math: When Is It Worth Hiring Household Help?</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-big-winter-expenses-that-could-freeze-your-budget">5 Big Winter Expenses That Could Freeze Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-electrical-blackout-essentials-every-home-needs">8 Electrical Blackout Essentials Every Home Needs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-the-50-rule-can-save-you-money">4 Ways the 50% Rule Can Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Home disaster emergency fund emergency kit emergency preparedness insurance natural disaster saving money Thu, 16 Mar 2017 10:00:22 +0000 Mikey Rox 1909970 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways to Decide if It's a "Fund-Worthy" Emergency http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-decide-if-its-a-fund-worthy-emergency <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-to-decide-if-its-a-fund-worthy-emergency" 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_piggy_bank_605778350.jpg" alt="Deciding if it&#039;s a fund-worthy emergency" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One crucial component of a sound financial plan is to have a solid emergency fund to protect yourself against unexpected expenses. This fund should cover at least three months' worth of living expenses, and enable you to get through any crisis without too much financial hardship.</p> <p>But how do you to determine when to use your emergency fund? What kinds of expenses qualify as actual &quot;emergencies?&quot; Before you tap into your fund, ask yourself these questions first.</p> <h2>1. Is It a Want or a Need?</h2> <p>This should be common sense, but it's amazing how many people can't discern between something they desire versus something they require. Money to help pay for an important medical procedure is likely a need; it's not a good idea to risk your health just because you don't want to raid your emergency fund. Money to pay the rent or avoid default on a loan would also fall in the &quot;need&quot; category. On the flip side, a new cellphone when your current one is working just fine is probably not what the fund is for. In reality, there are very few needs in life, and they should all generally center on your basic survival.</p> <h2>2. Is It Unexpected?</h2> <p>Christmas is an expensive time. But you have an entire year to prepare for the gift-giving bonanza. A new baby is costly, but you had a nine months to save up and get ready for the new arrival. If you've had time to anticipate an event happening and save accordingly, it's best to avoid dipping into your emergency fund to pay for it. Save your emergency fund for things such as layoffs, broken appliances, medical emergencies, and other things that you truly didn't see coming.</p> <h2>3. Is It Urgent?</h2> <p>A refrigerator that no longer works is something you probably want to replace right away. A car that breaks down is something you'll want to get fixed immediately if you rely on it to get to work. But there are many bad events that aren't &quot;emergencies&quot; in the sense of requiring immediate action.</p> <h2>4. Can You Defer Payments?</h2> <p>Let's say your heat pump is busted and needs to be replaced. Price tag is in the thousands. But it's wintertime, so this seems like an emergency, right? Perhaps, but it's worth finding out if you can pay for the new heat pump in installments, or even avoid paying anything immediately. It may be possible to pay for this pricey item over time and even avoid interest payments. This doesn't get you off the hook in paying for the item, but it may buy you some time to save a little extra or earn extra income so you don't have to raid your emergency fund. Just be sure to read the fine print of any agreement.</p> <h2>5. What Are the Financial Consequences if You Don't Pay?</h2> <p>It's often tempting to use a credit card or loan to borrow funds when an emergency happens. But when you borrow, you're likely to pay interest, so you'll end up paying more in the long run. High-interest credit cards, in particular, can have a severe impact on your overall financial well-being, and payday loans are even worse. There may be times when borrowing may be necessary in order to maintain some cash reserves (you never want to tap out an emergency fund completely), but it's important to look at the broader, long-term impact on your finances. And don't even think about not paying at all, as that could negatively impact your credit score.</p> <h2>6. Are You Legally Obligated to Pay?</h2> <p>If your car breaks down, you may want tap your emergency fund to get it fixed, but no one is requiring you to do so. Things are different, however, when you are faced with a situation where you are required, by law, to pay up. Perhaps it's a tax bill, or a legal judgment against you. In these cases, it's almost always best to pay &mdash; there could fines, or even jail time. If dipping into your emergency fund helps you avoid trouble with the law, it's worth it.</p> <h2>7. Have You Exhausted All Your Saving Options?</h2> <p>Let's say you have a roof that's leaky and in need of big repairs. Before you shell out thousands of dollars to a major contractor, examine first whether you can find money by cutting everyday expenses. It's possible that you could do a small repair now, aggressively save for a few months, then take care of the bigger job. It's amazing how much money you can &quot;find&quot; by taking a knife to your spending.</p> <h2>8. Is the Emergency for Yourself, or Another Person?</h2> <p>There may be times when a friend or loved one comes to you in desperate need of money. You may be tempted to raid your emergency fund to address their problem. This is a very tricky situation, as it's generally in our nature to want to help those close to us. But remember that your emergency fund is designed to address emergencies that might impact you, not other people. It's fine to give loved ones a hand, but it gets dangerous when you put your own financial health at risk to make it happen.</p> <p>This doesn't mean you should be a straight-up coldhearted person, however. If you believe that you may encounter instances when friends or family members will be in need, consider making your emergency fund larger to take that possibility into account. Even better, open a separate sub-account, so that your own emergency fund remains untouched.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-decide-if-its-a-fund-worthy-emergency">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/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund">Change Jars and 8 Other Clever Ways to Build an Emergency Fund</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-4-smartest-things-to-do-with-an-inheritance">The 4 Smartest Things to Do With an Inheritance</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-retirement-latte">The Retirement Latte</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-get-a-promotion">8 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Get a Promotion</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-putting-off-these-9-adult-money-moves">Are You Putting Off These 9 Adult Money Moves?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance appliances budgeting Cars emergencies emergency fund saving unexpected urgent Mon, 28 Nov 2016 11:31:04 +0000 Tim Lemke 1835353 at http://www.wisebread.com Change Jars and 8 Other Clever Ways to Build an Emergency Fund http://www.wisebread.com/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_change_jar_73155135.jpg" alt="Woman finding clever ways to build an emergency fund" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Saving money is not easy. For many Americans, there's not much cash leftover once the bills get paid each month. Building up an emergency fund and saving for retirement is a struggle, but it's not impossible. Sometimes, it just starts with a small step.</p> <p>For example, one way to begin building an emergency fund is to place any coins you accrue into a transparent change jar. Once it's full, deposit it all into the bank. You'll find that you may have more than $100 &mdash; just from your pocket change!</p> <p>There are many other small ways to get started saving, even if it's just a few dollars at a time.</p> <p>Consider taking these small steps to building positive financial habits, and you'll start to see your bank account grow.</p> <h2>1. Track Your Spending &mdash; Every Single Penny</h2> <p>If you are having trouble saving money, you will need to take the first step of figuring out where your money is going. Develop a system to record every purchase. An online service such as Mint can help you track spending and even categorize purchases so you know exactly what you're spending money on. By doing this, you'll be able to find where you can cut costs. Information is power. (See also:<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-saving-more-with-this-one-simple-tool?ref=seealso"> Start Saving More With This One, Simple Tool</a>)</p> <h2>2. Reduce Your Spending on a New Category Each Month</h2> <p>Once you've figure out where your money is going, it's time to decide what you can cut. If you've categorized your spending, pick one category and vow to reduce spending from one month to the next. For example, tackle your restaurant spending in January. In February, look for ways to reduce your cellphone bill. In March, cancel your cable television. By year's end, you'll have slashed spending on 12 things, and will be well on your way to saving money.</p> <h2>3. Put Away Any Extra Money You Receive</h2> <p>Did you get a bonus or raise from your company? Don't spend it, but put it in the bank instead. If your expenses are the same, then any new money you get should go directly into savings. This also goes for any prize winnings, unexpected refunds or rebates, or cash found in the pocket of that jacket you haven't worn since last winter. This may be only a few bucks here and there, but it adds up and gets you in the habit of not spending every new dollar you get.</p> <h2>4. Track When You Don't Spend</h2> <p>You might pass five coffee shops every time you walk to work. You stare at candybars and magazines at every supermarket aisle. You're bombarded with targeted Facebook ads and circulars in the mail. It's almost impossible to avoid parting with your money. But what if you made a note of every time you passed by that coffee shop without stopping in for a $4 latté? What if you gave yourself points for every time your willpower won? Eventually, resisting the urge to spend might be an easy habit.</p> <h2>5. Open an Online Savings Account and Set Up Automatic Transfers</h2> <p>You can't spend money if you never have it in your hand to begin with. If you set up an automatic transfer of cash into an online savings account &mdash; preferably one not tied to your ATM card &mdash; you'll be setting aside money before it ends up in your wallet. Start with a modest amount, maybe $25 a month, then see if you can gradually increase that. Before you know it, you'll have a nice sum of money that can serve as your emergency fund.</p> <h2>6. Open Your 401K and Hit the Company Match</h2> <p>If your company offers a retirement plan, there's no good excuse not to take part. Money you contribute is deducted from your taxable income, and it's usually taken directly from your paycheck, so there's no easy way to spend it on silly stuff. Most companies offer to match contributions up to a certain percent. Do your best to contribute up to the match, if possible, and increase your contributions by a percent each year.</p> <h2>7. Pack Your Lunch</h2> <p>This is a tough one for a lot of people. After all, who wants to eat a lame homemade sandwich when they can go out to that new gourmet burrito place with their colleagues? But it's time to get over your fear of the &quot;sad lunch&quot; and recognize that it's a big money saver. Any back-of-the-envelope calculation will reveal that packed lunches can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. If you're struggling to figure out where you can save money, this is a great place to start.</p> <h2>8. Tweak the Thermostat</h2> <p>We all like to keep our house at the perfect temperature, but we can all get use to things being a degree or two warmer in the summer or slightly cooler in winter. If you're setting the thermostat to 70 in summer, try bumping it up to 72. When it's chilly outside, keep things at 68 or even cooler. And don't forget about tweaking it further when you are not home. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can save as much as <a href="http://energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats">10% on your energy bills</a> just by adjusting the thermostat by seven to 10 degrees for eight hours each day.</p> <h2>9. Use a Credit Card With Cash Back</h2> <p>It's best to use credit cards sparingly when you're looking to save. But if you do use credit cards, making sure you get something in return. Do some research to find the cards with the best rewards. Some offer straight <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal">cash back on every purchase</a>. Others offer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-that-transfer-points-to-airline-miles?ref=internal">points at airlines</a> or specific retailers. Find the one that best suits you, and watch that money accrue. Even if you get a mere 1% cash back on purchases, that could add up to hundreds of dollars annually. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cash-back-vs-travel-rewards-pick-the-right-credit-card-for-you?ref=internal">Cash Back vs Travel Rewards: Pick the Right Credit Card for You</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund">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-nice-ways-to-tell-your-spendy-friends-youre-staying-on-budget">7 Nice Ways to Tell Your Spendy Friends You&#039;re Staying on Budget</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/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-types-of-friends-who-are-costing-you-money">10 Types of Friends Who Are Costing You 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/10-ways-to-save-money-when-you-are-unemployed">10 Ways to Save Money When You Are Unemployed</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/13-creative-ways-to-avoid-spending-money">13 Creative Ways to Avoid Spending Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting baby steps cash back change jar emergency fund extra money pennies reduce spending saving small steps spending Mon, 17 Oct 2016 10:30:10 +0000 Tim Lemke 1813254 at http://www.wisebread.com