budgeting

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Budgeting Basics: 6 Steps for Creating and Keeping to a Budget

Budgeting can be a difficult subject, largely because it gets a lot of negative publicity as a last resort for people who have mismanaged their personal finances. But the reality is that budgeting is exactly what people need in order to avoid money problems. Avoiding addressing your budget concerns only make it more challenging in the long run. Budgeting may be misunderstood but here are a few tips to get you on your way to taking control of your finances.    Approach Budgeting With a Healthy Mindset Budgeting should be seen more as a helpful life-hack and less of an attempt to strip all of the joy out of living by denying yourself anything and everything that isn’t food, water or shelter. It’s a simple matter of managing the balance between cash coming in and cash going out. Budgeting can even help you maximize savings. It’s a common-sense thing that…

How You Can Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

The statistics are sobering: 62 percent of Americans reported having less than $1,000 in savings. A full 20 percent have no savings accounts at all. And 78 percent of full-time workers indicate they are living paycheck to paycheck. Living paycheck to paycheck is a frustrating reality that many Americans feel trapped by, but it doesn’t have to last a lifetime. Analyzing your current financial situation, tracking your spending and taking small steps right now, it is possible to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. Tally Your Debts One of the biggest reasons 71 percent of American workers find themselves trapped in the paycheck to paycheck rut is debt. When a portion of your paycheck is already earmarked for something else, it is hard to get ahead. That is why it is essential to understand how much debt you owe. To tally debt properly, calculate the running balance on every single credit card,…

Tips on Saving for a First-Time Home Down Payment

Whenever the subject of buying a first home comes up, the conversation often turns to current interest rates. To hear some people talk, all it takes is the right interest rate to make home buying happen. While that can be, and often is, true, there are plenty of people for whom interest rates aren’t the primary concern. In fact, many would love to get to the point of worrying about interest rates. It’s that pesky down payment that concerns them. It’s recommended that homebuyers put down 20 percent or more in order to secure good financing. With the median home price in the U.S. averaging $320,000, that’s at least $64,000 homebuyers have to come up with before they even think about shopping for an interest rate. How can you put aside that kind of money? Well, unless you have direct access to cash in the form of a rich and…

College and Insurance: Insurance Entrance Exam for Kids on College Campuses

If you have a child living away at college, you’ve probably been through an extensive checklist in getting him or her prepared and moved to campus for the fall semester. Amid the flurry of planning and packing, have you thought about college and insurance? Although still your dependent, your child living away from home may have additional insurance needs to protect their belongings and their well-being. Consider these areas: Auto Insurance Fewer than half of college students have cars on campus, so if your child doesn’t have wheels, let your carrier know. Your student may be eligible for a “distant driver” discount, especially if the college is more than 100 miles from home. The discount may be as high as 20 percent. Keep your child on your auto insurance policy so coverage continues during school breaks and visits home. If your child does have a car on campus, report this…

7 Bad Money Habits That Can Ruin Your Finances

Habits can make or break our personal finance success. While good habits can help you build savings and live without financial stress, bad money habits can turn into a downward spiral of debt, fees and struggles. Making some small adjustments to your financial habits is easier than you may realize. Break these seven bad money habits to put yourself on track to a happy financial life. Making Only the Minimum Payment When you get a loan statement in the mail, whether it is from a credit card, mortgage or student loan, you can quickly find your minimum payment for the next month. The key word here is “minimum.” Paying only the minimum payment means you pay the maximum possible interest over the life of the loan. Every dollar you pay early saves you on interest every single month for the remainder of the loan’s life. The more you pay sooner…

Personal Finance Quiz: 9 Questions to Ask Yourself

How well do you know your money? Odds are you are more familiar with your finances than anyone else in the world. If that isn’t the case, it’s time to make a change. Find out if you know enough about your money with this quick personal finance quiz. Are You Saving Enough for Retirement? How much do you need save for retirement? Are you on track to reach that target? Many Americans never calculate how much they need for retirement. The average baby boomer is destined to see a dramatic lifestyle change after paychecks stop in retirement. Even with social security and the increasingly rare pension, most Americans are far from saving what they need for retirement. SmartAsset suggests the average retiree should have between nine and 11 times their annual salary saved for retirement. It doesn’t matter if you are five years from retirement or 50, make sure you are…

3 Options to Help You Manage Your Budget Better

Budgeting is one of the most important parts of personal finance yet it’s a known fact that few people can say they truly enjoy it.  In the old days, budgeting required paper, a pen, a calculator, and a lot of time. Checking in on how you’re doing required a checkbook register and bank statement. Thanks to technology, things are much easier now. You can look at your spending by category in a couple of clicks! Here are three options you can use when budgeting to help keep things simple and easy. Automated Budgeting Mint.com launched in 2006 and led the first wave of online budgeting apps. Now joined by sites including You Need a Budget, Level Money, Mvelopes, and Wally, this industry offers a ton of budgeting features with a minimal time investment. Apps like Mint and Personal Capital connect to your bank, credit, loan, and investment accounts so you…

5 Important Money Lessons From Video Games

We get it. Personal finance can be a dry topic but financial savvy is important in achieving financial independence.  So if you are ready for a long nap when the talk of money or personal finance arises, you’ll be thrilled to know that video games have added an element of adventure and action to your personal accounting activities. What types of finance lessons can be learned from games today?  Lessons on how to manage money, business strategy, and other life and personal finance are just a few examples. So, the next time you pick up a video game for your kids, score one for yourself and battle to be crowned the ultimate king of financial savvy. Don’t Blow Your Money All on One Farm One of the first mobile games that almost every American has heard of is Farmville. While the game is not as popular as it once was,…

The 6 Best Strategies for Saving Money on Flights

Flying opens up a world of travel opportunities. You don’t have to be rich to enjoy a great vacation and adventure on a budget. But, if you’re paying too much for plane tickets, your budget could end up sky-high.   Are you looking to travel more and save money while doing it? If the answer is yes, then these ideas below are for you. Time Your Travel Last minute plane tickets cost more than ones booked about two months in advance. Flights the day before Christmas and Thanksgiving are some of the most expensive of the year. Traveling during offseasons in the spring and fall can also lead to great deals. Just be sure to miss Spring Break or you won’t get a bargain price. If you don’t have kids in school, use the flexibility of your vacation days to travel in the offseason. After offseason Spring and Fall trips…

The Starter Guide: Truths About Financial Advisors Everyone Should Know

As your finances become more complicated over time, it is common to need a little extra help managing your monthly cash flow, tending to various investments, and preparing for retirement. Schools do not teach about money, so there is no surprise that people just like you need regular help managing their money. If you think finding a financial advisor might be right for you, follow this guide to understand the many aspects of this important decision. Interview Several Financial Advisors At the start, you should plan to speak with multiple advisors before you pick the right one. You shouldn’t blindly trust the first person you meet with your money. Instead, take the time to meet with several financial advisors so you can understand their unique investment style and financial philosophies. Go into each interview with a list of questions and have a friendly discussion to learn more about their experience…

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