Financial Independence

Ready to Buy (and Insure) Your Vacation Home?

There’s something so enticing about the idea of owning a vacation home. It’s the vision of a special place that feels both familiar and an escape at the same time. It is a place to make memories. And a place your hard-earned dollars translate not only into luxury, but a return on investment. However, like all large purchases, a vacation home isn’t something you should jump into without lots of thought and number-crunching. Here are five things you need to consider before making an offer on a vacation home:   Practicality Okay, so being practical is probably the furthest thing…

Need to Control Your Spending? Try Zero-Sum Budgeting

Do you have a solid idea about where your money goes each month? You probably can list the big-ticket items – rent or mortgage, car payment, maybe even utilities or other fixed expenses. But hundreds of other dollars have a way of vanishing and you may wonder why your bank account looks a little thin by month’s end and why your savings don’t grow as much as you’d like. Some financial advisors recommend zero-sum budgeting as a way to track your money, resulting in finding big and little ways to cut expenses to a more reasonable level. This budgeting system…

Personal Finance Habits for Your 50s

After reaching important financial milestones in your 20s, 30s and 40s, things should calm down a bit in your 50s. If you followed good financial practices, you should have sizeable and growing retirement savings, shrinking debt and a clear path to retirement. And if you are off of your ideal plan, be sure to put the right habits in place right away to get yourself on the right track. While you can’t go back in time and change past spending and savings habits, you can start the right habits today. Start with these five personal finance habits for your 50s…

Are You Being Careful With Your 401(k)?

In time where traditional pensions are all but extinct, 401(k) accounts are key to many people’s retirement strategies. You just set them up, make sure you put money in and that’s it. Right? Trick question. A 401(k) needs management in order to be the retirement nest egg you want it to be. Your employer put it in place for you, but it’s up to you to make it work for you. There’s plenty of information out there on managing a 401(k) and the mistakes people make with their accounts. Even the IRS has some definite opinions on how you should…

Healthy Habits to Help Reach Your Financial Goals

Living a long, full and happy life is a goal most of us share. Taking time to align your financial, physical, professional and social aspects of your life is important. The idea is to get each area to work in concert to reach your goals. Here are a few ways to keep your eyes on the prize and incorporate healthy habits across all areas of your life to help reach financial success. Use Technology to Set Goals Identify what you are trying to accomplish to increase your odds of success. Then use widely available tools and technology to help you…

How to Talk to Adult Children About Your Estate Planning

If you have adult children, you’ve probably done some planning about what you’d like to leave for them when you’re gone. You may even have a will and keep your paperwork and electronic files in places they know how to access. Many parents, however, have not actually talked to their older or adult children about their retirement years and end-of-life financial plans. It’s a subject that many find intimidating and uncomfortable. Or you may think your children don’t want to have such a conversation about that eventual day just yet. If you’re a good planner, take it to the next…

12 Apps to Help Elevate Your Finances

There’s an app for almost everything these days. So, it comes as no surprise you have a wealth of choices to help you budget, save and earn money. With so many options, it can prove difficult to find the best fit for your needs. Here are several of the leading apps in the finance category. Each of these apps has an Apple App Store rating of 4.5 stars or higher. As with any app, the key to success is consistent use. With the help of technology, you’ll have one more tool in your financial toolbelt. Five Awesome Apps That Help…

5 Things to Consider When You Have Student Loans and No Job

What happens when you graduated months ago, but haven’t found a job and are starting to feel your student loans breathing down your neck? First of all, don’t panic. Start by figuring out exactly what you owe, by when. Many students loans, including direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans and Federal Stafford loans, have a six-month grace period after graduation, dropping out of school or dropping below half-time status before you need to start making payments. PLUS loans have no grace period. Grace periods on private loans and Federal Perkins loans vary wildly, so it’s important to know what exactly you…

Should You Consider a Credit Card With an Annual Fee?

There are countless credit cards that don’t require an annual fee, so why would anyone choose a card that requires them to pay every year? It’s all about the perks. Consider those holders of the exclusive American Express Centurion Card (it’s made out of titanium instead of plastic and charges a $7,500 initiation fee plus a $2,500 annual fee*).  Here’s how to decide if an annual-fee card is right for you. As a general rule of thumb, if you get more value in a year than you’re paying – monetary or otherwise – the fee is worth it. Do You…

Maximize Your Money With Smart Investments

A penny saved is a penny earned, right? Savings is important piece of your financial wellbeing, but to really maximize your money—or even just keep pace with inflation—you also need to invest. During periods of stock market volatility, though, investing can be difficult to embrace. Understanding the basic history of the stock market, as well as different investment strategies can help boost your peace of mind as you look to invest even during periods of market volatility. What Investors Should Keep in Mind Though some people choose not to invest because they feel it’s a gamble, the real scoop is…

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