Archive for December 2017

Don’t Panic About Retirement! Do These 5 Steps to Start Saving

There are a lot of different ways to save for retirement, and everyone’s personal finance journey is unique. That’s why the strategies vary so much. Additionally, age matters. Generation X, the Baby Boomers, and the Millennials don’t look at things the same way, even though they are all trying for the same goals with retirement. They have their own sets of problems, and a laundry list of various responsibilities that come with being an adult.

All of those things can add up and create more issues for people no matter what their age. On that list of responsibilities is retirement savings, but a lot of the times new electronics, a life event that wasn’t anticipated, or something else pushes savings to the back burner where it gets far less attention than it really should. That’s why 30 percent of US residents today feel worried about retirement. You shouldn’t panic over retiring, though, because there are tips you can follow to live in the now and still plan for a secure financial future.

Grow Your Savings By Starting Small

Compound interest can be a lifesaver, and it helps you grow your money even if you don’t have a lot to invest. By starting early and putting even small amounts of money into a savings or investment option that uses compound interest, you’ll see that money grow faster.

That’s because this type of interest is calculated on the initial amount invested plus the interest you’ve already earned, so you’re getting interest on your interest. It takes time to build up a good level of retirement savings, but compound interest can make it easier.

So let the interest work over a long period of time. Start saving as early as you can, and continue to save consistently. If you delay your start for a decade, for example, it could take as much as three decades to get caught up.

Determine Your Realistic Financial Needs

How much do you really need for retirement? That’s a question that is unique to everyone. There are some basic assumptions, though, and most people guess too low.

Forty percent of people guess $500K, but they would be about $250K too low for the average. You may need more or less, depending on the kind of lifestyle you want and how long you live beyond your working years. Around 81 percent of people in the US are not clear on how much they should have in order to safely retire.

Plan, Prioritize, and Protect What You Have

You will struggle to reach your goals if you don’t have a plan, and that’s true of retirement and savings, as well. If you want to follow what the experts recommend, take a look at the income your savings will provide on a monthly basis. There are so many options, but don’t get overwhelmed. There are financial advisors who can help you get the information you need to make the right plan.

The basic idea should be saving 15 percent of your income over a period of thirty years, but that’s only a rough outline. Some people will need more, and some may actually need less. There will also be unexpected issues come up, but you don’t have to let them stop you. Create an emergency fund, too, so you’ll be better protected.

Use What Your Employer is Offering

If you have a 401(k) or other retirement savings plan at your company, take advantage of it. Talk to the HR department and they can help you learn about everything your benefits package offers. If you’re a millennial you’re already eight percent less likely to enroll in the company’s 401(k). But you can change that.

Ask if You Have Questions

Don’t ever worry about looking dumb. You have to ask questions or you won’t get the answers you need. Be one of the 36 percent of millennials who get financial advice and help from a professional, not one of the 72 percent who admit they don’t know what they need to save for retirement. Check out the infographic below to get more data on retirement. That way you can compare your savings to your peers, and see how your retirement is stacking up.

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4 Reasons to Use a Credit Card to Pay for Vacation

4 Reasons to Use a Credit Card to Pay for Vacation

4 Reasons to Use a Credit Card to Pay for VacationThere are few events throughout the year quite as exciting as heading out on a vacation. Whether you are traveling with your spouse and your kids, just your significant other, or even all alone, vacations are a great way to step out of the day-to-day routine of life.

With a little planning and saving in advance, you can enjoy a memorable vacation that will immediately have you looking forward to your next travel adventure.

When getting ready for a vacation, there are several different planning tasks required. You have to make an itinerary of some kind, you need to make reservations for things like transportation and lodging, and you need to determine how you will pay for everything. This last point is the topic of this article.

While on the average trip, you are going to spend a significant amount of money, often in a variety of different locations. We recommend considering the use of your credit card for most, if not all, of your purchases. The following four reasons highlight why you might want to use a credit card to pay for vacation.

1. Security

Most credit cards come with a variety of customer benefits in terms of security. Your purchases are likely backed by some kind of guarantee, you should have protection against fraudulent charges, and your bank may even call you if anything looks out of the ordinary.

When spending money in an unfamiliar place somewhere far from home, it is nice to know that your credit card company will be on your side. Of course, you should always check on the specific benefits of your card before you travel just to make sure it offers the features you need.

2. Budgeting

By placing all of your charges during the trip on the same card, you can easily see how much you spent when you return back home. This will be helpful in terms of budgeting for future vacations.

Did you spend more or less than you expected? By how much were you off? Taking even just a few minutes to review the trip when you return home will help you plan out your next trip in even greater detail.

3. Go Cash Free ? Or Almost

Many tourist destinations are hotspots for pickpocketing activity, as criminals know that tourists will be carrying plenty of cash that they can try to grab. Don?t give them the opportunity.

If you plan on using your credit card for nearly all of your purchases, you can protect yourself by simply carrying very little cash. It is smart to have a little bit of cash on hand for small expenses where credit cards might not be accepted, but limit how much you carry to reduce exposure to theft.

4. Rewards!

If you are going to spend quite a bit of money on a big vacation, you might as well get a little bit of that money back in the form of rewards on your credit card. Depending on the card you have, you may get cash back based on the size of your purchases, or you may get points which can be redeemed for a variety of things.


Do you use a credit card to pay for vacation? Why or why not?


Photo courtesy of: 12019

How to Protect Your Finances During a Natural Disaster

Several recent events got me thinking, what can you do to protect your finances during a natural disaster? These steps are a good place to start.

Several recent events got me thinking, what can you do to protect your finances during a natural disaster? These steps are a good place to start.This year the world has seen its fair share (or more) of natural disasters. Amidst reports of chaos and disruption, I began to think about how lucky I am not live in and of the areas affected by them.

People have lost their homes from Hurricane Irma, wildfires and floods. The financial toll it will take on them as well as businesses and the government is going to be enormous.

How will people recover financially from such devastation? Or better yet, is there a way you can protect your finances during a natural disaster?

Here are a few things I thought of that might be able to help.

1. Keep Information Secure

Hopefully people affected by natural disasters have important documents stored securely. In the past, that may have meant locking it up in a safe in your home or at a bank.

Today it means something entirely different. In fact, one of the best ways to store valuable information now is to upload it electronically. If you want a copy too, put it on a jump drive and keep it with you.

Uploading your documents to a cloud server would allow you to have access from any device in any location following a natural disaster. It could even mean the difference between recovering financially and plunging into bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a confusing proceeding. If you will be filing for bankruptcy soon, here’s how to file.

2. Document Damage

Taking photo documentation of the damage done to your home, cars, and other possessions is important. You may have to prove what has happened in order to file a claim and collect on it.

Check your coverage with your agent or agents by calling them right away. The sooner you call, the quicker they can start a claim for you. You will get money to replace possessions you lost faster by calling faster.

3. Call Your Insurance Agent

Calling your insurance agent probably seems obvious to most of us. But you would be surprised at the number of people who don?t call and get a claim started.

Some assume it will be started automatically. Others may simply not know they need to call their agent and report the damage.

Give them copies of the documentation you took but keep a copy for yourself too. This protects you in case your insurer loses track of your claim or the information you provided. If that happens and it was your only copy, you could be out of luck.

4. Contact Creditors

Don?t stop with calling your insurance agent. You should also call those to whom you owe money. If records and bills are unavailable this may be a difficult process.

However, your creditors will most likely be willing to provide you with additional copies of invoices, bills, and statements. It is in their best interest to cooperate with you so they can get paid faster.

But another reason to call them is because they need to know your payments may be delayed. Ask them to please give you some time to get payments to them as you have the funds available. You may be able to avoid bankruptcy or bad credit by making a few phone calls.

5. Record Everything

Record or document all conversations you have about bills and insurance claims. When you keep good records you will be more likely to settle disputes and resolve financial issues satisfactorily.

If for any reason your bank, insurance agent, or other professional fails to follow through on their actions your documentation can be important.

6. Access Your Emergency Fund

Now is the time to access your emergency fund, assuming you have one set up. You may need the funds you have set aside to provide for the needs of yourself and your family.

Contact your bank to get a few hundred dollars in cash for necessities and get replacement debit cards if needed.

It is important to protect your finances during a natural disaster. Doing so could make the difference between financial recovery and ending up in the poorhouse.


Have you had to face a natural disaster? If so, how did you cope financially?


Photo courtesy of: WikiImages

5 Apps to Help You Earn Extra Money

5 Apps to Help You Earn Extra Money

5 Apps to Help You Earn Extra MoneyMost people think of their cell phone as an expense rather than a source of income, but what if you could turn that perception on its head?

You might be able to actually make money with your phone, provided you download the right apps.

The five apps listed below will allow you to make a bit of extra money on the side with very little effort required on your part.


This is an app that makes it easy to sell your old stuff. Most American have too much stuff laying around the house anyway, so why not turn that unwanted stuff into cash?

By using this app, you can simultaneously pad your bank account and clean out your house. You aren?t going to be able to make money on this app forever ? you only have so much stuff to sell ? but it is handy when you come across something that you simply don?t want anymore.


If you like to respond to surveys as a way of making your opinion known, you can get paid for doing so through this app. Once you download the app, you will be able to find out which surveys you qualify for, and you can make money in exchange for your time.

You certainly shouldn?t expect to get rich with this kind of app, but it is a way to turn idle time on your phone into money.


This is one of the more interesting apps in the money making space. When you use the QuickThoughts app, you will be sent on ?missions? to obtain information about businesses and their performance. Usually, this means taking pictures of specific locations inside of a store.

By using the technology you already have in your pocket, you can make some money in the form of iTunes or Amazon gift cards while running the errands you would be doing anyway. Not only is this a quick way to bring in some revenue, but it might actually be kind of fun.


Okay ? so this one requires a little more than just downloading an app. However, if you would like to use your car as a money maker, you can download the Lyft app and get started as a driver.

No doubt you have already heard of the ridesharing business, as Lyft ? and Uber ? have become huge in recent years. You can work when you want, and you can work as much as you want. Don?t expect this kind of work to turn into a six-figure income, but it can certainly supplement your other income sources nicely.


Most Americans should be better about saving their money. This app can help you do just that. This means it can help you to make money in the long run. Stash is an easy way to get started in investing. It gives you the choice in selecting between a number of portfolio options. By adding a small amount of money to your investments periodically, you can see nice growth over time.


Have you ever used any of these apps to make extra money? Which ones are your favorites?


Photo courtesy of: jeshoots

Quit too Soon? How to Get Your Old Job Back

Quit too Soon? How to Get Your Old Job Back

Quit too Soon? How to Get Your Old Job BackYou?ve been working at your job for a while. Then it happens, you just can?t stand it any longer. You?ve come to the point where you march into the boss?s office and announce you are giving your two weeks!

You march out and head home for the day. When you cool down you realize that you didn?t really want to quit and need your job back.

Or what if you started a new job and realized what you had left was a better fit?

What do you do? You can try to get your old job back.

Here are some tips on how to accomplish this.

Don?t Burn Bridges When You Leave

This is a no-brainer, but if you can leave things on good terms, you’ll have a better chance to get your old job back.

Telling everyone off who made you frustrated will not help in the long run. If you left for an opportunity you couldn?t pass up, be sure to stay in touch with people at your previous employer.

Letting them know you are interested in their well-being will help should you want to get your old job back.

Be Open to Other Options

You may not be able to get your old job back if it’s already been filled. So, be open to staying with the company but working in another position. This might open new doors that you hadn?t imagined before and lead to new opportunities.

Be Sure Your Old Job is Still a Good Fit

Just because the grass wasn?t greener on the other side, doesn?t mean that your old job is still a good fit.

Make a list of everything you did at your old job and everything you currently do or what you want to do. If it?s been awhile since you held that position, see how the position has changed.

When you tally it up, you may find it’s not a good idea to get your old job back after all.

Be Prepared to Stay for a While

If you left and then wanted to come back in a short period of time, be sure that you are willing to stay for a while once you get your old job back. Job hopping too often will not be good for your relationship with the company. If you aren?t willing to stay for a longer period of time, then it?s probably not good for you to come back at all.

Give Your Manager a Heads Up

The actual ask – ?can I come back? – is better done in person. But, sending an email stating your proposition will give them time to think about it.

Follow up with them in a timely manner and ask to set up a meeting. Calling out of the blue and begging to come back will not help you.

You want them to genuinely consider taking you back, so give them their space to prepare.

If you are going to go down the path to get your old job back, be sure that your homework is done. Have solid answers for why you left and why they should take you back (especially if it has been under a year since you left). Be prepared if they say no and graciously accept that. It is possible to get your old job back. But, it all depends on how your relationship was with the company when you left, and when you ask to come back.


Have you ever asked for your old job back? Why? Did you get it back?


Photo courtesy of: markusspiske