Category Archives: finance

4 Effective Questions: Saving Money Quick and Proper

You have learned to organize your present incoming with your current expenses. You have tipped the scale to work in your favor and have found a surplus. Too often, our ‘extra’ cash is wasted. Spent on ATM fees, the interest on your next card statement, or knick-knacks you buy as you go about your week.

The emotional trouble with saving is the decision to hold back spending because ‘you must shield yourself from enjoying life or indulging.’ And this is so difficult if we only think about it. Saving is a habit; you may put away $10 a week, some can save $100 or more a week. In either case, the driving force behind finding a huge lump sum after a week, months, or years, is the habit. And we are only talking in the short-term.

There is an easy way to get started with valuable Savings. Start with your emergency fund. Why? The emergency fund carries the cash that keeps you moving forward when “life” happens. A few examples are moving, career change, job loss, or sickness.

The design of the emergency fund is to have a specific amount of money at your disposal. As an example, sum your life costs for a month. Let’s say $1000. $4,000 will let you continue living for four months while you cope, re-adjust, or transition your life.

This account must have the following criteria (these can get you started):

(1) Time-period

– Will your account hold you over for 3, or 6 months?

(2) Purpose

– Assign an account to one expense, like rent, or total living expenses.

(3) Control

Do you remember why it is called an emergency fund? Be considerate and spend on vacations and personal gifts after you have met your saving quota.

TIP: Focus on getting started and not on researching where to bank. I recommend searching for a known online bank – it adds a buffer, and safety.

Now that you have an emergency fund ready and have topped it off move on to saving for what you want. You have mastered funneling your money, now aim it toward the future.

I want to leave you with a few questions to ask yourself; they will make the planning of anything you need to save for – easy as pie:

– What amount of money will keep me safe for 1, 2, or 3 months? Or, what amount of money do I need? (Set a goal to hit.)

– How much money can I afford to save every week or every-other week? (Set a doable-baby-step plan.)

– What exactly will this lump-sum be used toward? (Give purpose to your goal.)

– Can I keep this aside, and start other savings account for fun I want to have? (Dedication to your goal!)

How to Set Up Your Budget

Many people have the disadvantage of not having the knowledge of what budgets are and how to set them up. Thinking about it, you wouldn’t be able to do much without setting up financial plans and to have your life organised is the most important thing to do.

It’s important to make sure that you record what you are spending your money on. By doing this you are eliminating the items and services you spend on a monthly basis. It’s surprising how many things you find in your records that are not necessities.

Always plan what you need to spend in the future. If you are looking at what your expenses will be in the upcoming month it will be easier to do so if you create one list of the items you need. Often you will notice that right before ordering something online, for instance, you forget what you have purchased and spend that money again on something totally unnecessary. This may not be a reoccurring action but there are possibilities that you forget about purchases that you’ve previously made.

Look for products and services that don’t cost a lot of money. There are often specials on various products that you can use to your advantage. Buying products on special could cut down on expenses quite a lot. Sometimes you could also save on bulk purchases.

When setting up a budget sheet, whether it’s in digital format or a hard copy, make sure that you split your income, spending and savings:

• Daily or weekly expenses could include petrol for your car and groceries.

• Savings could include savings accounts or investments.

• Occasional or monthly expenses could include clothing, car maintenance, paying off house debt, personal loans, leisure items or, possibly, the vet. These are the items you find yourself only paying for once a month or a few times in the year.

• Income is any money that you are earning.

Make sure that you are recording your spending on a daily or weekly basis. This makes your life so much easier if you are the type of person who always looks at the budget first before making a purchase.

A savings plan is another important category to have in a monthly budget. By having a savings plan you will be able to control how much you spend and it’s great to have for emergencies.

Personal Finance: Sound Money Habits To Start Now

“I just got my tax refund, it’s time to go on a vacation!” I can’t tell you how many times I heard this growing up and now see daily on social media. I recognized early in life that the way I managed money was very different than most people I knew. It has always puzzled me because I never quite understood how people could spend money without ever giving a second thought to saving or retirement. Following are some basic habits you can start now to help secure your financial security in the future:

1. Saving for retirement as early as possible is the most beneficial thing you can do. Even if it is just $50 per month, which is the minimum for most plans, you could be setting yourself up with thousands upon thousands of dollars at retirement. The earlier the better. For example, a 25 year-old who saves $200 a month until age 65 and earns exactly 6% on saved funds annually would have accumulated around $400,000. But a 40 year old contributing the same amount each month at the same earnings rate would have accumulated only $139,600 by age 65.

2. Never carry a balance on a credit card with an interest rate. This is one of the fastest ways to build an amount of debt that could burden you for the rest of your life. When you do need to use credit and you’re unable to pay in full each month, seek out a 0% interest card. Many promotions are from six moths up to a year or more. If used responsibly, they are essentially a free loan. Just be certain to pay their entire balance before then end of the term or you’ll end up with retroactive interest that could add hundreds of dollars (if not more) to your obligation.

3. Instead of buying a new car or a lease, try to save up and buy a good used car for cash. What you save between interest, depreciation, taxes, plates and insurance will save you thousands. According to Edmunds.com, buying a car that is two years old is your best bet because you avoid the biggest depreciation drop. Owning it for three years and then selling will also benefit you because you see another large drop after year five due to long-term maintenance that is generally required at that point. If you cannot afford a two-year old car without having to borrow, then getting one a little older with the long term maintenance repairs done (and low miles if possible) is your best bet.

4. Avoid eating out if you can. The average American eats out 4-5 times per week spending on average $232 per month or about $2,700 per year. If you skipped eating out for two years you would have actually saved enough to buy a good used car like point three above.

5. The last thing, and arguably the most important, is thinking long-term. The worst way to justify spending is doing so on an individual basis versus the monthly or yearly aggregate. Take eating out for example: while it might only cost you $10 a meal, don’t fail to consider that if you did this three times per week for a year, you would have spent more than $1,400. This same logic can be applied to virtually anything-clothes, vacations, furniture, coffee, expedited shipping etc. Anytime you’re about to spend money think to yourself, okay, how much will this end up costing me each year.

Do It Yourself! Tips To Streamline Your Budget In 2017

A new outlook for the New Year and a hands-on approach to financial freedom.

You did a lot of stuff last year and spent a lot of money on a lot of things that you probably shouldn’t have. Now that you are suffering that New Year’s financial hangover and wondering how you could get yourself out of the clutches of despair and into a new headspace, I’ve got a few tips that could save you a lot of dollars in the long run. Ever noticed how the little jobs that the electrician, carpenter, mechanic and your average handyman cost you at the end of the day? And how you always have that person’s number on speed dial? Well, it’s time to ditch his number and start learning how to do it yourself. Here are some ways how:

Get yourself a toolbox.

This is an absolute essential. Not having tools is half the problem that you have. Remember that sigh when you realize your plumber has the correct wrench for that stubborn pipe, or when your carpenter has the correct screwdriver that you were looking for before giving up and dialing his number. These tools don’t have to be power tools. A simple toolbox for beginners will suffice. After all, it has all the essentials that have been standing in your way. Now that you have tools the first thing that will happen is an increased enthusiasm to try out your tools on a few things, and you will discover that most of the things that you thought were a total write off and beyond your ability are actually quite easy if you have the right tools.

Watch a few videos.

Self-help videos are all over the internet, and they can be quite a resourceful way to learn how to learn how to a few simple jobs around the house. Visual learning can always be easier to implement and to copy

Better still watch a professional do it.

This time doesn’t offer to get them a drink and disappear to watch TV while they solve your problems for you stay, watch and learn. Look at how they approach the problem and how they go about solving it and ask questions. After they are gone, try it out, and next time you won’t have to call them again.

Read around.

Borrow that book from that friend and learn how to set up cupboards, how to change an electric bulb and how to change a door handle. There are tons of books that have step by step instructions that can help you become a pro at some of the things you lacked proficiency in.

Try, try again.

Most of all, no one ever succeeds at something they didn’t even try to do. Getting out of your comfort zone is extremely hard, but the benefits will be worthwhile. Failing at a task is hard, but there is nothing like that first rush of those warm fuzzy feelings just after you have accomplished a task. It will make you want to attempt to pass another hurdle and eventually you will be invincible.

How to Create a Budget for Your Household

Stability in employment, maintaining good credit, and following a household budget is the key to creating long-term financial security. Good credit scores and wise spending habits will help you save more of your money through lower interest rates and less debt. The following steps will help you maximize your credit scores and create a household budget that will eliminate waste and create savings.

• Step One – Request a free copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com. This report includes information from the 3 main credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). You are legally entitled to one free credit report annually.

• Step Two – After you receive your free credit report, thoroughly review the entire credit report for any errors or discrepancies. If you find any errors, such as: late payments, collections, inaccurate balances, or any other inaccuracy you can dispute the errors with the credit bureaus. Typically, the credit agencies reporting the disputed information will investigate the account in question and require the creditor that reported the information to provide proof of the account in question. If the creditor cannot provide evidence that you owe the debt, it would be corrected on your report.

• Step Three – Before you create your budget, you should collect your bank statements, credit card statements, receipts, and any other documentation that shows your expenses.

• Step Four – To determine your monthly income, you should collect your most recent pay stub. For budget purposes use your income that you take home on your pay stub (after taxes). If you are an hourly employee and work full-time or if you are a salaried employee calculating your income will be simple. For individuals that are self-employed or receive tip, bonus, or commissioned income you will need to average your income over the last 12 or 24 months to create your budget.

• Step Five – Always put your budget in written or printed form. You can use a software program to create a spreadsheet or write out your budget on paper. First write down your monthly income and then break down your current expenses. This will allow you to see where you spend your money and how you may be able to cut expenses and save. Further break down your expenses under fixed and discretionary. Fixed expenses are permanent, whereas discretionary expenses would include: entertainment, groceries, clothing, vacation savings, etc.

• Step Six – Review your budget and look for ways to cut your spending. Hopefully, you find areas to save money each month by eliminating unnecessary spending. Try and pay off any credit cards that you carry balances on, before putting any money into your savings.

After you have reviewed your credit report and created a budget, it is a good idea to review your budget each month and make any changes. Also, if your income or bills change, make sure you adjust your budget accordingly and always consider saving before adding new debts. Remember you are entitled to one free credit report annually, so be sure to review your credit annually to check for any inaccuracy or for possible identity theft.

Why Transaction Fees Are High?

Engaging in traditional payment systems sometimes causes the client to pay extra charges called transaction fees. This adds on the total amount of the in-voice, sometimes without the client’s knowledge.

Transaction fees, according to a financial dictionary, are charges that a dealer assesses on a client service of filling an order. The rate of transaction fees are sometimes based on a percentage of the value of the transaction. It is also a percentage of the transaction that helps to cover authorization costs, fraud, and credit losses.

Some example of traditional payment systems are over-the-counter bank transactions and ATM card transactions. Using this method, processing fees can run about 2% of the amount per transaction. This high transaction fees can really sum up to a very high amount, deducted directly from the client’s account.

There are various reasons why traditional transaction fees are high. One of which is that traditional money transfer uses many gateways before the user receives the amount. Sometimes, this could take up to 6% of the total amount of the transaction. This is because this method uses more than one bank in order to transact the money successfully.

On the other hand, with digital currencies, there is zero to less transaction fees unlike with high fees charged by traditional payment systems. For instance, with Radar Lab, it offers high frequency trading. Moreover, it also allows the users to trade any digital assets on the Radar network on both virtual and traditional currencies.

Another advantage that this platforms offer, next to low fees, is convenience. With digital currency platforms, the user can do his transaction directly without the use of third-party traditional platforms. Hence, the user does not longer need to pay for the transaction.

Moreover, transaction fees could really sum up to a large amount after a period of time. Buyers and sellers look for alternative ways to reduce high fees. One of the techniques you can consider is to use cheaper online payment services. Like with digital currency platforms, there are accounts available for free transaction. The user just needs to provide basic information in order to create his or her account successfully and to start the transaction.

Another way how this platforms reduce fees is that it can be used globally without regional limits. Sending money over the country may require additional fees in converting money to traditional currency. But with digital currency, it can be sent and received directly without conversion.

Money Transfer Technologies

Advances in technology and the development of the Internet are changing the way people transfer money. With all these technological developments, moving money is simpler than before. Earlier, transferring money meant a visit to the bank. But that is no longer needed as there are various technologies in play to make money transfer easy and convenient.

Alternative Payment Services: Several websites allow you to transfer money through email, eliminating the need to reveal your bank account and credit card information online. Although online transfers have wide online security and fraud-prevention measures, they are not foolproof. Complaints like phishing scams, hacked accounts and identity theft are quite common.

Donation Texts: The use of text messages to transfer money became popular, when the American Red Cross used this technology to raise over $22 million in hurricane relief fund for Haiti. On the flip side, this technology is risky and scammers misuse this tool by asking people to text money to illegitimate numbers. Always check the organization’s website to confirm that the number you are texting is associated with the cause are supporting.

Bumping Phones: Mobile phones are fast replacing the wallet and on-the-go digital money transfers are becoming commonplace. Now, you can send and receive money by just bumping Smartphones together. Technologies include Bluetooth and near field communication (NFC, a set of procedures that allow Smartphones to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them close to each other at a distance of 10 cm or less). Though, the risk of unauthorised payments from a stolen phone is yet to completely be addressed.

Remote Deposit: This technology allows you to deposit cheques from anywhere. Many Smartphone applications allow you to take a photo of the front and back of a cheque and download it into your account. While this process is secure, there may be concerns about the consequences if the phone is stolen or if financial information is intercepted. The remote cheques are not stored on the phone, and the data is encoded as it goes from the mobile phone to the bank’s computer system.

Mobile Magnetic Stripe Readers: These are small scanners that can be attached to Smartphones. Busy individuals, can just swipe credit cards on the scanner and the money is transferred.

Handle Your Finances With Care

It takes years to gather a handsome amount of money, and if it is not handled properly, your most prized possession would soon escape from your hands like sand. This is the reason why people go for financial planning. It gives you a great sense of satisfaction when you know that your money is in safe hands and is being handled with utmost care.

However, not many people are aware of the process involved in financial planning. Based on your financial position, it is very important to go ahead with personal planning because if you don’t start planning well in advance, then you might face several challenges in the future.

Financial advisors suggest all individuals follow these six basic key principles for financial planning.

• Analyse your current financial status: To be able to plan for future you should first be very confident about your current financial position. Make a checklist of all the assets and liabilities and your income and expenditure. Having this information at hand, you would be in a clear position to understand how you can achieve your financial goals. Your total financial worth would help you to determine the ways to accomplish your set goals, which include paying for your children’s education, buying a new property or being ready for any financial emergency like the loss of a job.

• Chalk out your financial goals: In order to accumulate wealth, a lot of planning has to be done in order to achieve the desired goals. Setting goals would give you an urge to go ahead to achieve it. Your list of financial goals should be very specific, which would show that they are crystal clear in your mind.

• Plan for alternatives: You cannot expect your planning to go as per your wish, so you should always have a plan B at hand. After listing down your goals you plan for alternatives as well.

• Analyse the alternative options: You should ponder upon the feasibility of the alternative ways taking into account your social, personal and economic condition at present. The liquidity of your assets also matters in this regard.

• Creation and execution of your financial plan of action: Once you have planned about your alternative options and have analysed its feasibility, it is time for you to put these plans into action.

• Review your plan: Since financial planning is very dynamic process it is subject to change at any moment. So, it is always advisable to keep reviewing your plans every now and then.

Money and Power

If anyone wants to know why money was invented they need to look at the power that it generates. Politically it is the mainstay of governments while religiously it has grown gods and made their organisations indispensable. So where does it fit into the scheme of human behaviour and why is it at the root of the World Order? One could may assume that something other than an invented commodity would fit that role so why doesn’t it?

When humans took to a sedentary life and gave up wandering the forests and taking their food from the land, as God originally intended, they had time to think about other things. In the depositions of their living areas archaeologist have uncovered tales of their development from what might be termed primitive living to the more sophisticated trade deals and exchange of goods.

Other things crop up as well and chief among them is the religious side of life and the sacred sites where they imprinted their feelings and beliefs on items in art form. Over time the images became ever more lifelike and their meanings clearer. It was there where my research discovered the power.

It came first in the form of an exchange between humanity and the Sun-God. This unmistakable giving of life for prosperity permeates the ancient world and mysterious sites, like Stonehenge in England, or the temples of the Maya in Mexico. They stand as fortresses of power holding a code within that is only now interpretable.

My reincarnation and evidence that there is no heaven or hell is behind my ability to look at these sites from a different perspective and without the religious bias to better understand their meaning. It is a fact that the ancients were desperate to communicate with the sun and they worked out ways to do that. One way was to send a man up riding the cross as a kite to mate with the Mother God. This is shown in rock art in Nordic regions, such as Ostergotland (star of god’s land).

Dispersed light creates rings of seven colours, the same as the rainbow, and the number for ‘her’ is ‘seven’. The man is number 8 and multiplied together 7×8 is 56, the number of holes in the outer circle of Stonehenge. Both these numbers are linked to ancient beliefs that carry over into modern religious practices.

There are 7 candles on the altar of Christian churches, and 7 lights in the normal Jewish menorah, and so on. There are also 7 days of the week and 3×7 is 21, another mystical number. The 3 represents the ancient trinity of Mother God, sun and light.

Stonehenge displays the practice of exchanging god-men on crosses for fertility of the earth. The core of the site is the horse-shoe shape enclosed by the trilithons, made of 2 upright stones with a cap supporting them are the top. The ‘horse’ features prominently in ancient rituals and the white horse was etched out of the underlying chalk in several places in both Britain and Europe.

In time the use of circles as a symbol of exchange gave rise to the coins that were imprinted with the king’s head because he was supposedly the one married to the sun. The magic of handing over his image in exchange for goods took hold and gave rise to the monetary system. It was enhanced by Constantine, who established the Catholic Church in the year 325. He is also the one who organised the system of commerce that is still in play.

The circle with cross symbol is found in and around many sites on every inhabited continent and the first coins were of the same symbol. Later the king’s head was put inside the circle to suggest he is the thing that is the metaphor of the exchange. It provided extra power to the money, while that term comes from ‘moni’ or ‘man in the eye.’

5 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – How to Avoid Them

Here are 5 common, serious mistakes we see in estate planning – mistakes that can be solved fairly easily with help from your attorney or financial planner.

Misuse of Jointly Held Property – jointly held property may become a nightmare in terms of unexpected tax and nontax problems

First, there is the potential for federal and state gift tax upon the passing of one joint tenant if the property is jointly held with a non-spouse or a non-citizen spouse;

Second, once jointly owned property with a right of survivorship passes to the survivor, any provisions in the person who has passed away’s will pertaining to the property are ineffective – this is true even when the property is jointly held with a spouse.

Third, titling assets in joint names can result in such property by-passing provisions of estate planning documents, potentially creating a host of other problems, like double taxation.

Arranging Life Insurance Improperly – Life insurance is a great idea and can absolutely help your loved ones, but it there are things that must be considered, such as who should receive it, and when, and how?

Proceeds from a life insurance policy are often paid to the wrong person at the wrong time, i.e. before that person is legally or emotionally capable of managing it. Proceeds can also be paid in the perhaps not the best way. For example, do you really think an 18 year old should receive a million dollars as a lump sum? Perhaps it would be better if the funds were held in a trust and paid out over a period of time?

Inadequate insurance can also be problematic. How much is enough will vary depending on who is being insured and the situation of that person’s family and level of dependency on the person being insured.
Failure to designate a back-up beneficiary is common mistake. When in doubt, always have two back-up beneficiaries listed.

The insured is the owner of the policy, resulting in the proceeds being included in the insured’s estate at the time of his death. The easiest way to avoid this is to have a trusted, financially competent adult other than the insured (or a trust) purchase the policy and be named as the beneficiary.

The policy names the estate as the beneficiary. This mistake results in the proceeds being part of the estate and needlessly subject to the claims of the insured’s creditors.

Failing to update beneficiary designations to reflect changes to the estate planning documents.

Will Mistakes

Dying without a valid will is once of the biggest mistakes we see, and one of the easiest to avoid. Without a valid will, the result is “intestacy” – which means the state will decide who gets what.
The second most common mistake involving wills is failing to update them. Review your will a minimum of every three years, and after any major life change (marriage, birth of child, divorce, move to a new state, etc.).

Sufficient Liquidity – most people fail to consider how much it will cost to settle their estate, including paying the associated taxes and other expenses. Failing to adequately plan for these costs can result in the forced sale of precious assets. Expenses your executor may have to pay (depending on the size of your estate) are: federal estate and income taxes, state death and income taxes, probate and administration costs, payment of debts, payment of cash bequests, generation-skipping transfer taxes, and funds to continue operation of a family business.

Failure to Maintain Adequate and Easily Accessible Records – More than one executor has been driven crazy trying to locate necessary financial documents. And the search for and/or inability to find the same can end up costing an estate thousands of dollars. Instead of hiding your important financial documents under your mattress or in various random places, take out a safe deposit box. Make sure your executor knows where it is and how to access it.

Bottom Line: If in reading the above, you grew concerned that you might be making any of these common mistakes – fear not! Knowing and recognizing a potential problem is more than half the battle to developing a successful estate plan. The second step is to contact an estate-planning attorney to help you.