Monthly Archives: March 2014

You are browsing the site archives by month.

How To Save Money During Life Changing Events

When life is changing rapidly around you, inertia may make you want to keep everything possible the same and under your control. However, not taking action now could be costly both financially and emotionally. Saving money during life changing events may be easier than you think.

 

Rightsize

 

Instead of continuing to live in a big house, now may be a good time to right-size your living arrangements. Selling the house might break your heart but keeping it could break your budget. Move into the smallest size place that can accommodate your needs and save the difference. Not only will a smaller place have a lower monthly payment but you’ll also have lower utility bills and upkeep costs. If your car has a pricy monthly payment, consider selling it and buying used with cash. You’ll eliminate a bill and your car insurance expenses may decrease as well.

 

Adjust Withholding

 

Take a close look at the withholding on your paycheck. Are you paying for a family medical plan even though you’re now single? Are your taxes being calculated as if you were married with a dependent? Head into the human resources office and adjust your federal and any other applicable withholding. You may be able to keep more of your earnings.

 

Cut Off Access

 

Assess your financial accounts and make sure that no one is running up bills in your name. You may need to remove someone from your family calling plan, take off their name as an account holder on your credit cards and remove them from having access to your health-related information.

 

Find Affordable Legal Representation

 

According to Mark A. Erickson, a child custody lawyer in San Jose, life changing events can be made easier through the support of a qualified legal representation. However, a reduction or loss of income can make it difficult to afford an attorney. Look to legal clinics, social service agencies and through your personal network to find a divorce attorney, family law specialist or child custody lawyer.

 

Choosing Battles

 

Not everything is worth fighting over. Attorneys generally bill by the hour. The more that you can come to an agreement on before hand can reduce your legal expenses. Let the spouse keep the big boat with its costly monthly upkeep. You’ll enjoy a lower cost of living and less stress.

 

Life changing events don’t always have to be negative if you approach them with a positive, can-do attitude. Taking action now can help protect you financially and prepare you for new and better opportunities ahead.

Curb Appeal: Finance Your Home Makeover

Increasing the curb appeal of your home is one of the easiest ways to increase the value of your home, but even if you aren’t interested in adding value, you’ll want to add a more decorative look to the space. Some homeowners opt for minor changes, including planting a few flowers, changing the color of their front door and adding some new furniture, while others prefer something a little more drastic. Before you look at financing options, think about the types of projects you want to do around your yard.

 

Smaller Projects 

 

Over the course of a short weekend, you can easily do a few simple projects that will increase the curb appeal of your home and add value at the same time. Painting the front door, adding a lighting fixture to the porch, replacing broken railings and repairing damaged steps are all a few projects you can do on your own. You can even replace a few bushes or shrubs in front of your home and replace those old plants with new flowers and shrubs.

 

Larger Projects

 

Completing a larger project takes a little more work, and you might find that a professional company can help you. A-1 Concrete Cutting & Coring Ltd. does demolition in Calgary, which is helpful if you want to replace an old porch, patio or deck. A professional company will tear down the existing structure, remove the debris from your lawn and put up a new structure quickly. Choosing a contracting company is also helpful if you need some assistance laying out a new garden, doing electrical work outside or installing a new sprinkler system.

 

How to Finance Your Projects 

 

You can finance your outdoor projects with personal loans, home improvement loans, contractor loans or even home equity loans. Personal loans include those available from banks and credit unions, while contractor loans come directly from your contractor. You can also borrow against the equity in your home or take out a loan specifically designed for home improvement projects. Banks and other financial institutions typically offer the lowest interest rates, but the interest rate you receive depends on your employment and credit history.

 

 

Paying for projects designed to increase the curb appeal of your home is easier than many homeowners think. You can borrow against the equity of your home, take out a loan from your contractor, use a home improvement loan or take out a personal loan.

Emergency Stash: 5 Tips for Continuously Building Up an Emergency Fund

No matter how careful of a planner you are, life happens. From unexpected medical bills to last-minute car expenses, financial emergencies can manifest at any time. Having an emergency fund is a great way to ensure that you are prepared for when disaster strikes. Although this may seem like a daunting task, you can continuously and responsibly contribute to an emergency fund so that you’re prepared for anything. Read on for some ideas to help you have the funds necessary to combat the surprises will throw at you.

Calculate How Much You Need

Before you begin saving for your emergency fund, you will need to establish what your goal is. Most financial experts recommend having at least four to eight months of living expenses in your savings. This emergency fund can help you and your family survive things like unemployment or other loss of income situations. Now, you won’t be able to put that much money in your emergency fund right from the beginning, but it is important to know how much it would require to keep you afloat financially. If you know your regular monthly costs, it’s easier to decide how much should be in the emergency fund.

Pay Yourself First

Each paycheck, before paying any of your bills or expenses, set aside a portion of your earnings for your emergency fund. Not only will this help you build your emergency fund, but it will also get you in the habit of saving. Many people run into problems when they don’t set the emergency money aside right away. You might tell yourself you’ll put the money in an emergency fund when you get your next paycheck, and then before you know it—the money is gone. Put the money into your emergency account before you have time to spend it or let your desires get the best of you.

Create a Budget

No matter how much or how little money you make, you can benefit from creating a budget. This popular financial tool helps put you in control of your finances. To create a budget, take a recent paystub and calculate your monthly earnings. Next, make a list of all your monthly bills and their due dates. Remember to include your “pay yourself first” savings as a bill. Once you have subtracted your expenses from your earnings, the money leftover is your discretionary spending. Try to put as much of that as possible towards your savings. You never know when you may need it in the future.

Direct Deposit

If you anticipate having difficulty sticking to a budget, direct deposit can be your best friend. This financial tool allows your employer to deposit your wages directly into your checking or savings account. In many cases, your employer may allow the funds to be split into more than one account. This allows you to automatically save your “pay yourself first” funds without ever seeing them.

Define “Emergency”

Once you decide where you will keep your emergency fund, you will need to create clearly defined parameters for the account. To help with this, consider writing down a list of conditions that a situation must meet before money can be withdrawn from the account. Typical emergency situations include car repairs, medical bills and school expenses. Those who are lacking in financial responsibility will use that hard-earned money to splurge on something that isn’t truly a dire need. If you make some guidelines for what you will and will not spend the money on, you’re less likely to spend it foolishly.

 

Saving money can be hard, but it does not have to be. With a little planning and a lot of patience, you will have a healthy emergency fund before you know it. Creating an emergency fund takes some self-discipline and control, however, you’ll be grateful to have the money when an emergency arises. Start saving the smart way, and you won’t find yourself up a creek without a paddle on the fateful day that the emergency pops up. The information for this article was provided by professionals who provide bail bonds in Sacramento.

 

It’s Never Too Early: How College Kids Can Start Preparing for a Pleasant Retirement

When you are in college, retirement seems like it is light years away. In reality, it will be here before you know it. The big mistake that many people make is that they think retirement is so far away, so they don’t start thinking about it until their late 50s. By that time, it is too late. If you want to retire at a desirable age, start learning about retirement plans and options for saving right now. The following tips will help you prepare for you retirement while you’re in your late teens and early 20s.

 

Know Your Options

 

Knowledge is power, and college is a great time to start learning about all of the different financial options available for retirement savings. Many plans offer tax benefits, some are available in specific states and others are funded by employers. While you are in college, take some time to research the various ways that you can fund your retirement. This knowledge will be very helpful in the future, and the sooner you learn about the different types of saving options, the sooner you can start saving. You might even consider taking a financial literacy course that will give you valuable information about retirement savings as well as money in general.

 

Start Small

 

The thought of saving $1 million for retirement seems unattainable, but do not underestimate the power of compound interest. Even if you can only save $5 a week for retirement while you are in college, that will add up over time—which is why it is best to start saving early. When your money has decades to grow and accumulate interest, you can turn a small amount into a substantial sum. You might think it isn’t making a difference, but even just $5 a week will really add up for you until you can get a substantial job and start saving more than that. Saving is saving, no matter how much it is.

 

Limit Student Loan Debt

 

Student loans are necessary for many students to obtain their degrees. In most cases, they can be a wise investment. However, that does not mean that you should max out your student loans each year.

 

Try your best to limit the amount of student loan debt that you accumulate. Pay as much as possible out of pocket for your schooling, even if it means working two jobs in the summer and keeping part-time employment while you are in school. A huge amount of debt can be crippling as you start your career, and this can keep you from saving for necessities such as retirement.

 

Practice Delayed Gratification

 

One of the best ways to set yourself up for a pleasant retirement in the future is by practicing delayed gratification today. We are living in a society that wants the best of everything right away. If you leave college thinking you need a huge house and new car like your parents, remember that your parents worked decades to be able to afford those things. When you live frugally, you will have more money to invest in your retirement savings, and these investments will really pay off in the future.

 

It is never too early to start planning for a great retirement even if you’re still in college. Developing an effective financial mindset in your college years will help you succeed financially throughout your life. You might not feel like you are financially stable enough to be contributing to a retirement fund, but as demonstrated, even saving a few dollars a week will really pay off in the end. Take a look at your budget and start saving a little for your retirement every month. Then, after college when you launch your career, you won’t be starting from scratch. Information for this article was provided by a disability attorney in Vallejo, who helps clients with social security claims and disability benefits.

How to Avoid Continuous Scrutiny from the IRS

One thing that can certainly spell hard times for any business is an audit from the IRS. Thankfully, with some hard work and due diligence, your business can comply with the law without any problems. Below are some ways you can allow your business to avoid continuous scrutiny from the IRS.

1. Explain when Necessary

If you think something out of the ordinary on your balance sheets might get you flagged for an audit, address it pro-actively. Do this by making sure to include extra worksheets, forms or receipts that can explain the discrepancy to the IRS. Without this additional information, they may have to perform an audit to discover the source of the questionable figures.

2. Be Aware of Routine Audit Flags

Certain kinds of entries on income tax forms produce audits more routinely than others. You should be aware of what these are and take care to make sure these things are properly accounted for with a good amount of documentation. Items that routinely flag businesses for an audit include things like travel expenses, food costs, deductions for home offices, entertainment expenses, casualty losses and too many miscellaneous expenses listed on Schedule A.

3. File Promptly

It may not only be the content of your returns that produce an audit but the time frame you submit them in as well. As a general policy, always submit your returns when they are due. In fact, do so as early as possible. A late filing may create a perception of laziness or deception with the IRS and produce an audit.

4. Make Adjustments to Avoid Future Audits

Unfortunately, despite taking precautions, your business may still end up being audited by the IRS. Take Frank L. Vandersloot, CEO of Melaleuca for example, who was audited twice by the IRS in 2012. While this event may be extremely stressful, you can also use it as a learning experience. If you don’t, you won’t be able to avoid the next audit. Make sure to not repeat the same mistakes. This may require switching accountants, changing your business practices or declaring more believable deductions.

An audit by the IRS can be a terrifying experience for any business owner. What causes an audit to take place is not revealed to the public. However, if you do run a profitable company, you are at risk of being audited simply for being successful. Make sure you take every precaution possible. This will make sure that an audit doesn’t occur in the first place. If one does, you will have a higher chance of surviving unscathed.

 

Fin. Carn. for Young Adults at Lisa Vs. The Loans
Yakezie Carnival at Personal Finance Utopia
Carn of MoneyPros at Money Pros
Carn. of Fin. Camaraderie at Save and Conquer
Carnival of Retirement at Your PF Pro

In Over Your Head? How To Know if Bankruptcy is The Right Decision

Having a large amount of debt can easily consume your life and make it difficult to function. If your debts are overwhelming, you might be considering bankruptcy. But how do you know when it is the right course of action? Bankruptcy is a wise choice in some situations, but it can make the problem even worse in other situations and knowing when it is necessary is crucial. These tips will help you decide whether or not bankruptcy is a good fit for your financial situation.

 

Compile Your Information 

 

It is scary to add up the numbers, but you cannot make an accurate determination about bankruptcy if you are not sure exactly what you owe. When people are in debt, many of them are also in denial.

When you are considering bankruptcy, take the time to compile information about each debt. You should list the outstanding balance, the company name and the interest rate for each debt.

 Compiling your debts will help you realize how much you really owe, and it will also shed some light regarding the types of debt that you have accumulated. For instance, if over half of your debt is student loan debt, bankruptcy might not be the best option since this type of debt is not forgiven with a bankruptcy.

 

Seek Professional Counsel 

 

There are different types of bankruptcies available, and understanding all of the different options can be complicated. Therefore, it is very beneficial to seek professional counsel like that which is offered at Paddon & Yorke Inc., a Toronto bankruptcy trustee, when you are considering bankruptcy. Many bankruptcy attorneys offer a complimentary consultation at no charge. You can meet with the attorney, explain your situation and get advice regarding whether or not bankruptcy is a good fit for you. If you are ever in doubt this is a great way to resolve your concerns.

 

Change Your Money Habits 

 

Bankruptcy discharges many of your debts, but it will not change your money habits. Before you agree to a bankruptcy, it is vital to take control of your finances. Sadly, many people who file bankruptcy eventually go on to file a second bankruptcy because they did not change anything about their spending habits. A bankruptcy can be a step on the road to financial success if you use the time to formulate a budget and develop a healthy mindset about money. If you need assistance, try talking to a financial counselor, reading personal finance books from the library or trying out an online budgeting program.

 

There are numerous questions to consider before you file for bankruptcy. Make sure that you take the time to research all of your options before you decide whether or not bankruptcy is right for you and your family.

Money Management 101 – Getting On The Path To Financial Freedom

Regardless of how much money you make, it can be challenging to come up with a wise financial plan that works for you and your family. When you do not have a plan and a budget, it is easy to accrue debt without even realizing it.  Getting on the path to financial freedom is not always easy, but it is always worthwhile. Use these tips to gain control of your finances.

Track Your Spending 
Many people get into financial trouble because they do not really understand where their money is going. If you are ready for financial freedom, the first step is tracking your spending for one month.
Keep all of your receipts, and enter the information into a spreadsheet. Don’t forget to include every expense, even the cup of coffee that you purchase on the way to work or the lunch money that you give your son.

Develop a Budget 
Once you have tracked your spending, you can see where your money is going. Most likely, you will find some areas where your spending needs to be reduced.
Accountability is a big part of proper money management, and creating a budget provides this accountability and tells you where your hard-earned dollars should be going. Keep in mind that your budget will likely need to be modified as you work through the first few months.

Include Some Fun Money 
A strict budget helps you manage your money, but it can feel too restrictive to many people. Eliminate the temptation to waste money on big splurges by building some fun money into your budget. This is money that you can spend every month in any way you like. You might want to spend your fun money on baseball tickets, while your wife uses hers to purchase lunch out every week with her co-workers.

Have Regular Financial Check Ups 
Changing your spending and saving habits is not easy, so it is important to track your progress. Having regular financial check up meetings with your partner is a great way to celebrate your accomplishments and determine which areas still need work.
When you are first starting, have a financial check up every month. As you improve your money management habits, bi-yearly meetings should be sufficient. The people at Air Force Federal Credit Union can help you with these financial checkups, and provide great professional advice for your finances.

These tips are the basis of smart money management. You will likely have some hiccups on the road to financial freedom, but you will find success if you stick with it and don’t give up.