Tag Archives: personal finance

Three Tips For Budgeting When You’re Unexpectedly Between Jobs

Getting laid off is a devastating life event for anyone to have to bear. It is troubling for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that you still have to figure out how you are going to survive monetarily. 

A large number of people live paycheck to paycheck. It is not a great way to live, but it is the reality of the lives of plenty of people. Given this, there are a few things worth taking a look at in terms of dealing with this situation. 
Continue reading

Five Tips For Finding Financial Freedom In 2017

1732787905_4f4b242d08_z

Financial freedom can be difficult to obtain without the right habits and rules established. For those who live paycheck to paycheck, it can be challenging to plan for the future or enjoy life while living on limited funds.

To obtain financial freedom in 2017, there are a few important tips to follow that will prove to be effective.

Pay Off Debt

Debt is one of the main inhibitors of growing your wealth due to money that must be repaid in addition to interest, which can add up to thousands of dollars each year. Continue reading

Common Financial Emergencies That Can Appear Without Warning

10031708194_2fdb115d35_z

From the mundane to the catastrophic, there’s never a good time for a financial emergency. The funny thing about these emergencies, though, is the fact that they’re never surprising at the core; they’re all inevitable at some time or another, but few are prepared when it happens to them. Continue reading

How You’re Shooting Yourself In The Foot Financially

Feel free to use this image, just link to www.SeniorLiving.Org

PHOTO: SeniorLiving.Org

Making consecutively poor spending decisions can leave you drowning in a sea of debt. The following article explains the most common ways you could end up shooting yourself in the foot financially.

Making Too Many Small Purchases and ATM Foreign Withdrawals

You may be good at keeping up with big expenditures but not so good at monitoring your spending habits when making small purchases. Small purchases can quickly add up, especially when they’re made on impulse or done by habit. Continue reading

Personal Finance Goals For Every Stage Of Life

6551534889_9c8ae52997_zr

Whether you are a teenager or about to retire, it is important that you are able to manage your money effectively. Although your financial goals may be different as you get older, it is never too early or too late to learn and master sound fiscal habits.

Let’s take a look at some common financial goals and how you can achieve them. Continue reading

Three Horrible Financial Decisions to Avoid This Summer

One of the most shocking pieces of information that most people eventually discover is that their spending habits can literally control their lives.

While most people want to believe that they have full power over what they spend, habits are what truly set the pace for what ends up being spent or saved. Realizing that habits have a dramatic impact on how much money we have is the first step in taking control, but after that, critical decisions must be made in order to create a life of wealth and freedom.

This summer, avoid making terrible financial decisions by understanding how to get rid of the worst of the offenders. The following three bad decisions are some of the worst that can be made, and anyone would be wise to eliminate them from their day-to-day habits. Continue reading

Five Reasons Everyone Should Know How To Balance A Checkbook

5506576467_b0892cf304_zEvery generation wants to believe that it is the last, greatest generation. It believes that technology has never been better.

But here are 5 reasons that you should continue to balance your checkbook, even with all of the technological gains.

Fees, Charges & Penalties

Have you ever read the terms and conditions on your bank account? Do you really understand what the financial jargon means?

Banks must notify you usually about 30 days before they add on new fees, charges or penalties.

You should balance your checkbook to ensure that you don’t receive a “non-sufficient funds” (NSF) charge; the bank might have been subtracting money from your account for new fees and you bounced a check because you didn’t know how much was available.

Human Cashiers Still Make Mistakes

Many banks go through numerous customer service representatives in a short amount of time. One mistyped “0” can mean a big difference in your account.

People are only human, we all make mistakes. Balancing your checkbook can find these errors before they become big.

There may be a statute of limitations on certain errors. You want to bring mistakes to your bank’s attention as soon as possible.

Computer Errors

Computers are programmed by humans. While it is extremely rare, there may be a computer glitch in dealing with fractions that could effect your bank account.

Remember that your interest is a percentage of the value of money in your account. If the computer does not properly handle these mathematical calculations, there could be an error.

Your credit score could be unduly damaged by human or computer errors.

Cyber Criminals Are Clever

Malware allows hackers to steal millions every day according to federal cyber crime police.

One of the negatives of mobile banking is that the security features are still not completely safe.

Balancing your checkbook can lead you to becoming aware of hacking attacks or identity theft before these dangers can completely ruin your life.

Develop Financial Discipline

Wealth management skills are learned not innate. By continually balancing your checkbook, you become aware of how much you have, how much you added and any discrepancies in your account. Y

our bank account information remains in the forefront of your mind. You also develop better financial discipline. This can help you when there is an unexpected downturn in your financial situation.

Banking technology is better, but nothing is foolproof. Children and adults should learn how to balance a checkbook in order to manage their money. Wealth management skills can be the difference between life success and failure.

Photo: jridgewayphotography / CC 2.0

Buying Vs. Leasing A New Car: What Makes More Sense Financially?

2224560109_a6bbf6d13c_z

There is nothing more exciting than driving off the dealer’s lot in a brand new vehicle. However, before you can take the keys and drive home, you have to determine whether or not to buy the car or lease it.

Let’s take a look at a few of the factors that need to be considered before making such an important decision.

How Much Can You Afford to Spend?

If you don’t have a lot to spend each month, it may be best to lease the new vehicle. This is because the monthly payment is almost always lower when you lease as opposed to buy the vehicle.

However, you may need to pay a security deposit and an acquisition fee when you lease a vehicle that you don’t need to pay when you buy a car outright. Those who have a trade may be able to put their trade toward some or all of the money that needs to be paid upfront.

How Many Miles Do You Drive Each Year?

Those who drive more than 12,000 miles a year should consider buying instead of leasing. In most cases, the lease allows you to drive 12,000 miles a year before charging as much as 20 cents per mile or more after that.

Therefore, it could actually cost you more to lease if you have a long commute or travel regularly for any reason. The good news is that you may be able to prepay for additional miles if you think that you will need them.

How Long Do You Plan to Drive the Car?

Drivers who want to drive the latest model may want to consider a lease because they can simply turn in their current vehicle when the lease expires.

Whether you decide to buy or to lease, you get the same manufacturer’s warranty, which can be important if you want or need something that is reliable. As a general rule, if you don’t plan on driving the car for more than three years, opt for the lease.

Do You Know What You Want to Buy?

At any time during a lease, you can trade in the vehicle if you find something that you really want. You can also try to transfer the lease if you decide that your current driving arrangement isn’t working out.

When the lease expires, you can decide to buy the car at its residual value if you like it and can afford to keep making payments. By purchasing the car, you agree to pay for it until you sell it, trade it or make the final monthly payment.

Therefore, you are often better off leasing if you aren’t sure that you are ready to commit to a particular vehicle.

There is a lot to think about before deciding whether you want to buy or lease a vehicle. For those who aren’t ready to commit or can’t afford to make a large monthly payment, a lease may be the best decision.

However, if you plan on driving the car for a long time and rack up the miles each year, buying is probably the better option.

Photo: Joe Ross / CC 2.0

Is It Time To Ditch Your Bank?

3537904106_57fe05b12b_z

The banking industry has never been as competitive as it is at this current time. This competitiveness creates an advantageous service and financial environment for consumers.

When a customer encounters a situation in which they believe that their bank is not providing them with the type of service or products they desire, they have the option to switch to a bank that offers products and services that are more in line with their expectations.

According to J.D. Power and Associates, approximately 9.6 percent of banking customers have switched banks over the past 12 months. This figure is on the rise, being significantly higher than the 8.7 percent from last year.

While the reasons that customers give for leaving their bank differ, there are certain indicators that are clear signs that it is time to leave your bank. Additionally, this move should be made expeditiously.

There are two key elements that are at the core of determining if it is time to ditch your bank, and they are the security associated with your money, and the level of satisfaction you are consistently experiencing.

Financial Strength

The financial strength of a bank is extremely important in providing security for the funds that are deposited by their customers.

Although the FDIC insures up to the first $250,000 per account holder who is a part of an FDIC-insured bank, no one wants to have to go through the process of filing a claim for their money. This is why customers should check the financial strength of their bank periodically.

This can be done by checking the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp’s website. This will allow you to confirm if the bank is maintaining its FDIC insurance.

If your bank is not maintaining its FDIC insurance, this should send up an immediate red flag. This means that if your bank should go under, you could lose all of the cash and certificates that you have deposited with the bank.

Excessive Fees

Currently, there is a push by larger banks to increase revenue by raising fees. These fee increases are an attempt to offset losses that have been incurred as a result of a loss in credit card fee revenue, which is a direct result of some significant regulatory changes.

This means that customers from some of the major banks will more than likely begin to see some changes in fees on checking accounts, ATM usage, debit cards, online banking and more.

All banks will vary in the fees that are charged for these services, however, traditionally, local banks have lower fee costs, and they may actually waive some of the traditional fees charged by larger banks.

Lifestyle Changes

Another important element that impacts customer satisfaction is convenience.

Maybe you are in a situation in which your bank no longer fits your lifestyle. Initially, your bank was ideal, providing operating hours and locations that effectively serviced your needs and preferences; however, certain changes in your life has created a number of conflicts that make your bank less attractive.

An example would be switching to a job that require you to travel substantially. If you are banking with a local bank with limited locations, this could present a problem. Finding a national bank might be more beneficial to your new lifestyle.

The same is applicable to banking hours. If you have a situation in which you are consistently leaving your office at 6:30 p.m. or later, the chances are that your bank’s branch office will be closed.

This is an instance where switching to a bank that can better accommodate your schedule might be in order.

Photo: Bryan Rosengrant / CC 2.0

Start Them Early: Teaching Kids Financial Responsibility

6551534889_9c8ae52997_zrTeaching your children about financial responsibility isn’t one of the easiest parts of parenting, but with the right tools and strategies, it can be done.

Financial irresponsibility often leads to future credit and money problems, and it can even prevent your children from developing a savings plan for the later years in life.

These are unique ways you can help your children learn to use money wisely and responsibly.

1. Enlist the help of your children when managing bills. The Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers suggests allowing your children to handle small aspects of the money flow in your home.

For example, you might consider letting them balance the family checkbook after all major bills have been paid. This helps children get a good look at how finances are affected once expenses have been paid.

2. Set up a matching goal. Depending on how old your children are, they may have already started talking about getting that prized first car once they turn 16.

Abby Hayes of AFCPE notes that one great method for encouraging kids to save their money is to propose a matching goal. This means that however much they save for a particular purchase, you promise to match a certain percentage of their savings.

This is often a great motivator for kids to begin saving and working hard for the things that they want.

3. Define needs and wants. One mistake that many parents often make is merely assuming that their children understand the difference between financial needs and wants.

Children don’t understand that a video game is a financial want, while making a mortgage payment is a financial need. Jacqueline Curtis of Money Crashers explains that it’s your responsibility to distinguish the two.

Start by noting expenses that are required for survival, such as the electric bill, your car payment, or groceries.

Next, list things that aren’t vital to survival, such as going out to eat or toys. Compare the priority levels of expenses to help your children understand the differences between essential and nonessential purchases.

4. Explain how bank accounts and ATMs work. It’s easy for children to underestimate the importance of money when they see their parents swiping their debit/credit cards or taking seemingly free money from an ATM slot.

Jason Alderman, Vice President of Visa Inc. tells parents that it’s important to teach their children that money isn’t free.

Help your children understand that the money you spend from a credit card or receive from an ATM isn’t conjured from thin air. It’s real, and it must be accounted for.

This is also a good time to explain what happens when too much money is withdrawn from an ATM, or too much money is spent using a debit/credit card.

5. Lastly, don’t stop at one piggy bank. You’ve probably already considered getting a piggy bank for your child.

However, Meadows Urquhart from Meadows Urquhart Acree & Cook LLP explains that you can teach your child an even more valuable life lesson by getting them multiple piggy banks.

This gives children a chance to break their money up into spending, savings, or item-specific goal accounts. This provides children with wonderful preparation for real bank accounts.

Photo: familytreasures / CC 2.0