A Dozen Excellent Money Rules To Live By

It goes without saying that everybody is trying to make more money these days.  The problem however is not that people aren’t trying but that they don’t actually know how to handle money. In some cases have very little clue at all. That’s not a condemnation it’s just the way it is.

For the people who realize that they don’t have any money handling skills there is hope however as today we are presenting a blog on that very subject. Aren’t you lucky?! We’ve got for you today a dozen money rules that, if you use them and live by them, will help you in every facet of your financial life. Enjoy.

1)       Spend less money than you earn. If there was one rule that is more important than any other is this one. The person who can spend less than they earn is the person that will always have money available when needed, will never run into financial problems such as bankruptcy and will have a nice nest egg set aside for themselves once they reach retirement.

2)       Start saving right now. Any way that you can, any place that is possible and using any tool that you have available start putting money away for emergency funds, for your child’s college education and for your retirement.

3)       Rather than waste time overthinking your investments just invest.

4)       No matter what it is that you’re purchasing try to avoid high interest debt at all costs.

5)       Talk to a money expert about money. Your banker, a successful friend or family member or anyone else who you can think of. We’re not necessarily saying that you should take this person’s advice, just that talking about money will open up your mind to new ideas that you might not have otherwise heard of.

6)       Stop trying to keep up with your neighbors and family. Be happy with what you have.

7)       Keep an eye on your financial progress but don’t go crazy overanalyzing it.

8)       Anything that you purchase, from a new plastic spoon to a multimillion dollar house, take good care of it will and maintain it well.

9)       When you can, do everything yourself. Of course there are limits to what you can actually do but there are many tasks that people pay someone to do that they could easily do themselves, some of which will save thousands of dollars.

10)    Make a plan on how you’re going to spend your money before you go to the store. (Any store.)

11)    If possible, do something that you feel true passion for and follow that rather than following the money. Usually what will happens is that the money follows you.

12)    Do something on a very regular basis to improve yourself. Learn a new language or a new skill.

If you can really take these 12 Money rules to heart and use them throughout your life we guarantee that by the time you retire you will be more than well prepared to live in a comfortable lifestyle.

Tips for Setting Your Financial Priorities and to Help you Budget

Welcome back for more excellent financial info that you can use in your daily life. Today were presenting a blog chock full of tips for setting your financial priorities and to help you with your budget, be it a family budget or a single mom budget. (You do have the budget, don’t you?) Over the next few days were going to have several more blogs about similar subjects so of course make sure to come back but for right now sit back, open your mind to new ideas and take some notes if you’re so inclined. Enjoy

Frankly, you probably won’t be able to achieve every single financial goal that you dream of. If you can get past this relatively negative bit of information without it scarring your psyche too badly what you will realize is that you have to narrow down your search for the best investments that you can make. If you concentrate your efforts on these investments you will more than likely financially achieve more than sufficient for your needs.

If you have ever heard the old adage ‘he’s penny wise and dollar foolish’ then you will know what we’re talking about when we say that you need to focus on the goals that matter the most. Yes it’s great to have a goal of going to Cancun next year and saving for that but it is far more important to have a goal for your retirement or to pay for your children’s college.

Speaking of goals, a number of them to clash or conflict so be prepared to deal with that. Simply put, when a conflict arises between two goals you will need to decide which the better of the two is. Choose that one, dump the other and move on.

If you’re keen on putting together a list of goals and prioritizing them we highly recommend. In our opinion what you need to focus on are the goals that will help you feel financially secure, fulfilled in some way and, dare we say it, happy. Some of these things could include being able to pay for your child’s college tuition, getting out of debt completely by the time you are 55 or building an emergency fund.

I’ve heard it said at church that ‘the family that prays together, stays together’.  This truism could just as easily be used in your financial planning and means that you should involve your family members in the financial planning process. Without question if you are married you should be making financial plans with your spouse by your side. If you are single talking to your parents or other family members about what you’re planning to do (and asking their advice) is an excellent idea. For moms and dads letting the kids get involved is a great way to teach them about handling money.

Once you have a list of goals it’s time to start making decisions based on said goals. If for example purchasing a new car every five years fits into your financial planning and your goals then by all means purchase a new car every four or five years. On the other hand, is purchasing a new car every 10 years better suits your situation and your goals and so be it. The great thing about having goals is that you can use it as your ‘crutch’. If you are faced with a financial decision all you need to do is juxtapose that decision with your financial goal. If it fits then you know which decision to make, as well as if it doesn’t fit.

Lastly (for today at least) be prepared to see changes in your financial situation and thus the necessity to make changes to your goals. Hopefully as you gain experience in the workplace your skills become more valuable and you begin to earn more money. If that’s the case you’ll need to make changes to your goals based on your new income level. (You could blow it all on that trip to Cancun but we don’t recommend it.)

We hope that was educational. Our goal is to bring you financial information that you may not have heard before or that, even if you have heard before, is presented in a way that makes you think about it in a different light. In any case will be back soon with more and we hope you’ll be here to join us.

How to Save on Your Mortgage Payments in 2013

If you’re like most homeowners you probably spend about 30% of your net income on your mortgage.  That’s normal but bit still is a large chunk of your earnings and, if it can be lowered, why not lower it?  With that in mind we have an excellent list of the best ways to save on your mortgage this year so take a look and, if you see something that may help, by all means please use it and save some money.  Enjoy!

Use your tax refund to make a bigger payment on your mortgage or use the extra money from a windfall to do the same.  One big payment now will mean smaller payments for the rest of the year (if you want them), free up some of tour cash and help reduce your debt load.

Making bi-monthly payments can help you because you’ll pay off your mortgage faster but remember that many lenders charge a fee to do this.  Make sure that this fee, whatever it is, is less than the amount that you’re possibly saving before you sign up for the service.

If you want to shop around for lower rates by all means do so but keep in mind that many lenders will charge fees that may end up cancelling out your savings.  Take a hard look at these fees before you sign up for your new rate to make sure that the change is actually worth it. Having a high credit score and an excellent credit history will help you with this one and, since lenders want to keep your business, be prepared to negotiate.

If you want to free up some of your cash now and don’t mind paying more overall for your home than extending the life of your mortgage may be a good bet for you.  This should reduce your monthly payments but will mean that the house won’t be paid off as fast.  Once you can handle it you can always go back to making the regular payment and pay it off faster anyway if you want to.  Although I will say that if free cash flow is your true interest here, then consider www.quickpaydayloans.co.uk for fast cash rather than extending your mortgage.

If your home falls below 80% of its appraised value you can ask the lender to cancel your private mortgage insurance (PMI) and save a bit every month. You may need to get an appraisal to do this but it may well be worth the trouble and expense.

Another factor to consider if your home is worth less than what you are currently paying on your mortgage is the PRA program.  This stands for principle reduction alternative  and, if your payments are more than 31% of your monthly income, you may be eligible for this program and start saving money on your mortgage right away.

Not bad right?  Hopefully some of these ideas have set off alarms in your little noggin and will enable you to save a bit (or more) this year on your home’s loan.  Good luck with them.

Grocery Shopping ‘Tips’ That Don’t Actually Save You Money

The average American spends nearly $4000.00 a year on groceries making it one of the biggest expenditures after mortgages and energy bills.  Is it any wonder then that most people are constantly searching for new and better ways to save money when they go grocery shopping? Apps to track coupons, coupons themselves, in-store savings and frequent shopper discounts are great, don’t get us wrong, but there are several accepted ideas out there that, while they sound good, might not be saving you as much as you think on your weekly grocery bill.

With that in mid we out together a list of some of the worst grocery ‘tips’ that are out there so that, if you really are keen on saving money next time you shop, you concentrate on the things that help and leave behind the things that don’t.  Enjoy!

There are many (many) people who absolutely live and die by their grocery coupons but the fact is that most items that have coupons are overly-processed foods that have little or no nutritional value to them.  We suggest that you toss most coupons and search for the best deals on fresh fruits, vegetables and minimally processed foods instead.

If you normally don’t buy generic brands when the well-known brand is on sale you’re probably still spending more than the generic brand that has the same quality and uses the exact same ingredients.  Store brands, in most cases, are identical to national brands and you usually will pay far less for them.

If you ‘stock up’ on anything when it’s on sale you are probably going to throw a large portion of that item away.  If you can’t or won’t eat it in less than a month then you shouldn’t buy it because you’ll end up wasting it.  Also, anything that can last on a shelf or even in the freezer for more than a month is so over processed that it is more than likely quite unhealthy.

Lastly, if you purchase ‘multi-packs’ of something you may indeed be getting a rock-bottom price but, in the end, anything that comes pre-packaged is usually highly refined.  Children’s snacks, ready-to-eat meals and the like, at the end of the day, may actually cost you more money down the road in health care costs because they don’t have anything nutritious in them at all.  Again, if it can sit on the shelf or in the freezer for over a month it probably isn’t very healthy.

We hope you haven’t been disillusioned by this Blog and that, on your next grocery run, you can use these tips to not only get a great deal but also purchase food that actually has some nutritional value for you and your loved ones.  Cheers!

How to Create a Workable Budget – Part 2

Welcome back for Part 2.  We have a lot of ground to cover so let’s get right to it!

In Part 1 we talked about setting up your categories and then figuring out your budget amounts.  Now we’re going to talk about recording all of your expenses, setting your spending goals and how to make adjustments to your budget when necessary.

Step 3) Recording all of your expenses. This is the relatively easy part.  Over the next month you need to make a note of every single expense that you have, especially the cash expenses.  The best thing to do is either have an App that can record them for you or go old-school and use a small notebook to jot them down. This is important so do it well and don’t forget anything.

Once the end of the month comes it’s time to see what the damage is.  Total up everything that you spent and, once you have that number, simply subtract it from the number that you already should have showing your total monthly income.  This will give you one of 2 results.

1) You have a positive number and money left over (yay!).  This is money that you can put towards savings and investments.

2) You have a negative number (boo). This means that you spent more money last month than you earned.

If you’re a #1 congrats!  Use that extra money wisely or, better yet, out it in savings or another investment and then use your budget to save even more next month and the months after. 

If you’re a #2 don’t freak out.  You’re certainly not alone because over 40% of all Americans actually spend more than they earn.  (Hey, why’d you think the economy as such a mess?) What you now know is that you spend too much and, using your new budget, you’ll be able to make the changes necessary to become a #1 and have money left over at month’s end.

Step 4) Setting goals and making adjustments to your budget. Once you have tracked your expenses for a month or 3 you’ll have enough info to start making changes to your spending habits and start cutting down on them where necessary and where possible.

If you have already started doing that it’s time to look more in-depth at your biggest categories and start figuring out how to reduce your spending on them. You can set goals for the big ones and the small ones too.  In fact, sometimes changing the small ones can add up quicker because they use more of your discretionary income in small amounts, which can add up quickly in many cases.

Once you’ve been working with your budget for a number of months you should be able to start seeing patterns of expenses that you can then change, tweak or otherwise adjust so that they don’t break your budget.  You should already be earning more than you spend (or be getting closer to that point) and hopefully putting more in your savings. 

You’ll find that, over time, working within a budget actually frees you from a lot of stress and anxiety that you might have had before, living paycheck to paycheck and not really knowing where your money was going.  Keep at it, use the tools you now have, and keep coming back to see us for more financial tips and advice.

How to Create a Workable Budget – Part 1

If you don’t have a budget it’s extremely difficult to know where you stand financially, to say the least.  There are some people however who have set up budgets, which is excellent, but don’t use them as well as they could, which is less excellent.  With that in mind we’ve put together a 2 Part series on creating a budget that you can work with.

By the way, the first part of working with any budget is to remember that it’s simply a tool to make you aware of where you spend your money and a guide that helps you to spend only on the things that matter most to you.  Treat it as a tool, like a hammer or screwdriver, and use it to keep your financial house in tip-top shape.

Step 1) Categorize!  Everyone spends differently.  Categorizing your spending helps you to make a budget that works for you.  With categories you’ll be able to see what you’re spending and track it much better, something that you need to be able to do easily so that you continue to use your budget rather than let it fall to the wayside.

Categories like car payment, mortgage and energy bills are obvious. Next is to set up some categories that reflect your spending.  Do you eat out every day, or bag your lunch?  ‘Lunch/Work’ is a necessary category if you eat out 4 or 5 days a week.  Do you have a hobby like train collecting?  ‘Hobby’ needs to be one of your categories.  The same goes for sports, clothing and anything else that reflects your typical spending habits.  The goal with this is to become hyper-aware of where your money is being spent so that you can easily track it, curb it or increase it whenever necessary.

Step 2) Calculating the budget amount for each category. The first task here is to either already know, within 10%, what you make every month in gross income or if you don’t know that amount then you need to collect as many pay stubs as you can and figure it out from those.  If your pay changes substantially from week to week or month to month you’ll have the added task of figuring out a close monthly income approximation. Remember to add in all of your income, including dividends, bonuses, interest income or any other type of income that you have like a side job.

You should already have a budget worksheet (if you don’t they are all over the net) so now you can start listing your monthly expenses on it.  Go back at least 3 months to be thorough and make your new categories as you go.  Don’t get too detailed because you want this to be something relatively easy to work with and if it’s too detailed it will become a chore to use long term.

The goal here is to find the numbers that work for you between what you really need to spend every month and what you’d like to spend, and then set a number that’s between the 2 so that you have the money you need to pay bills and make some incidental purchases but also have money left to save and / or invest at the end of the month.

Surprisingly even ‘fixed; costs like housing costs or utilities can sometimes be lowered.  Start the process by reviewing the last few month’s bills for now and, when you have a better grasp on everything down the road, you’ll be able to look for, spot and take advantage of more ways to save.

That should get you started.  We’ll see you back here soon for Part 2!

 

Tips for Selling Your Home Quickly

No one wants to feel forced into selling their home, but there are times in life where downsizing to free up some capital can be beneficial. If, for example, you have unsecured debts which are taking up too much of your monthly income and you want to pay them off more effectively, or if you children have grown up and moved away and you simply have more house than you need.

If you are thinking about downsizing, you may find that the housing market is tilted very much in favour of those in a position to buy at the moment. Restrictions in mortgage lending have put the brakes on growth in the housing market, and although there are signs of improvement, sellers are still finding it hard to shift their properties.  However, that’s not to say that it is impossible; so here are few options you have for making your home saleable:

Fix up, look sharp

You need to get your house looking as good as possible, so that means completing all minor repairs to staircases, brickwork, sills – pretty much anything. Not only does visible damage/decay remind the prospective buyer that they have work to do on the property, it creates a bad impression which might tarnish the overall view of the house.

Clear the clutter

Make sure that all unnecessary clutter is cleared away for viewings – you want the rooms to appear as big as possible, which means showing as much floorspace as you can. Furthermore, when potential buyers look around your home, you want them to imagine themselves in the space putting their own stamp on it – they’re far more likely to buy a place they know they can feel at home in. Clutter is a distraction for them, so clear it away.

Leave it to the pros

It is also hard for viewers to imagine themselves in a home if the owner is hanging around chatting away, and they will certainly find it more difficult to talk freely and ask questions. So stay out of the way and leave it to the professionals – your estate agent – to put forward the plus-points of the house.

If, after all this, you are still not having any luck selling your home, you might want to consider the use of a property-buying specialist such as Gateway Homes. You will get less than market value for your property, but the advantage is an instant decision and a lump-sum payment.

Create Your Simple Budget

Many people have heard about budgets but don’t really know what to do to set one up, let alone use it.  With that in mind we’ve put together a simple plan that will enable the layperson to do just that and have a budget that they can use to track their monthly income and expenses, lower the expenses where needed (or possible), and save more money.  It’s relatively easy to do and should only take about 30 to 60 minutes.  Enjoy!

  1. Gather up all of your bills and receipts for the month and add them up.  (It’s easy but may take a little time.) The more precise approximation of your total expenses the better.
  2. Do the same for your monthly income.  Include your paychecks, interest income, dividend income and any other income that you get regularly, no matter the source.
  3. Make a list of all your monthly expenses using your bills and receipts.  Be as thorough as possible and remember to include any cash you take out of the ATM.
  4. Categorize your expenses as ‘fixed’ and ‘variable’. Fixed are those that stay the same month to month (car payment, mortgage, utility bills) and variable are just that, variable, like lunches and new underwear.
  5. Total both your income and your expenses.  If you end up with a positive number you make more than you spend (a good thing) and if you have a negative number you spend more than you make (a situation that needs to change).
  6. Change your spending habits to cut down on expenses where possible.  Lunches out, your hobby, clothing, sports equipment and all of the variable expenses should be analyzed to see if they can be lowered.
  7. Review your new budget on a monthly basis to make sure your spending is kept reasonable and also to lower the ones that you can.

That’s essentially it.  The goal here is to have something that you can use to;

  1. See what you are spending every month.
  2. See where you can cut back on said spending.
  3. Use the money from those cut-backs to fund your savings, pay down debt or if possible make investments.

A budget is simply a tool to keep your financial house in order. If you have one you will be able to save more, invest more and will have more when you reach retirement. Heck, you’ll just have more for a rainy day or an emergency too, which should lower your anxiety and help you sleep better at night. So start using a budget, like we showed you, and you should see a positive change in your financial status sometime soon.  Good luck.

Spread Betting on the Most Successful Scottish Football Team

You can ask which Scottish football teams have names starting and ending with the same letter, which has the strangest name (Clachnacuddin, meaning “stone of destiny,” which is a local landmark), which include body parts (Brechin, Peterhead, Heart of Midlothian, and never mind that “een” is Scottish for “eyes”) and which are not named after the town or city where they are located. Or you could ask what is the best option for an up bet in spread betting for when you finally avail yourself of the services of Cantor Index.

Glasgow Rangers is the most successful Scottish football team, with 51 league titles and a greater number of trophies – 107 – than any other football team in the world. The team went into administration for non-payment of around £14 million of tax after decades of financial mismanagement.

When Sir David Murray owned the club, he described it as Scotland’s second most important institution after the Church of Scotland. He said it would spend £10 on players for every £5 spent by Celtic. Rangers’ most successful years in the 1990s resulted from the spending of money that did not exist to pay inflated wages and lure big name players with massive transfer fees. Moves were facilitated by strategic tax dodging and offshore bank accounts. In this time, Ranger matched Celtic’s record of nine consecutive League championships.

A legal claim by Rangers against Customs and Revenue to the tune of tens of millions of pounds is yet to be resolved. Rangers will not compete in Europe next season, an absence that would continue for a further two years if it becomes insolvent. 100,000 season tickets were sold in advance, limiting working capital. Rangers were attractive to players due to its regular successes on the field and respectable salaries, but these will be lost. Rangers’ woes led to its relegation to the Third Division, causing defender, Dorin Goian to immediately depart. The good news for spread bettors is that Rangers is likely to triumph in its new division.

The most successful Scottish football team of the foreseeable future must surely be Celtic, with which Rangers has one of the most heated rivalries in the world and which has won the Scottish League 46 times. The two teams are referred to as the Old Firm, and their rivalry is sectarian in origin, with supporters of Rangers being predominantly Protestant and those of Celtic being mostly Catholic. Rather than Scottish flags, Rangers supporters tend to wave the Union Jack while Celtic supporters wave the Irish tricolour. Sectarian chants and songs are often heard from supporters.

Violent rioting between fans of the two teams erupted at Hampden Park, Rangers’ stadium, on the occasion of the 1980 Scottish Cup Final, which Celtic won. Police lacked the manpower to suppress the disorder, which BBC News described it as the “most infamous case” ever related to a match between the two. Match commentator, Archie MacPherson, likened the scene to one from Apocalypse Now or the Battle of Passchendaele. He concluded, “At the end of the day, let’s not kid ourselves. These supporters hate each other.” The sale of alcohol at sporting events in Scotland was prohibited by an Act of Parliament as a result and both teams were fined £20,000.

Since the season of 1985 to 1986, one of the pair has won the Scottish League. The clever money must now be on Celtic. First Minister Alex Salmond said that Celtic needed Rangers, which brought one commentator to remark that it was akin to saying that black people need the Ku Klux Klan.

The Basics of a 401K

If you have ever taken any sort of investment class you have heard about the power of compounding. Compounding allows a small amount of money, invested over a long period of time, to become a much larger amount of money, building wealth for the person wise enough to invest their money long-term. 

A 401(k) retirement plan is a special type of pension plan that, like many long-term investments, can pay-off handsomely down the road.  The funds that a person places in their 401(k) account can be used to invest in stocks, bonds and mutual funds as well as many other types of assets and, since they are funded by pre-tax payroll deductions, are not taxed until they are withdrawn. This allows them to take advantage of the fact that they aren’t dwindled by capital gains and dividends taxes as well as interest taxes and will make the investor much more money over the lifetime of the 401(k)

Indeed there are 5 benefits that make investing in a 401(K) a principally attractive option for investors.

  1. The tax advantage as mentioned above, means that the money invested in the 401(k) won’t be taxed until far in the future when it’s finally withdrawn to fund someone’s retirement. There are no taxes on capital gains, dividends or interest until that day, allowing the money invested to take full advantage of compounding interest.
  2. In order to attract and retain talented employees many companies offer employer match programs for 401(k)s, matching funds up to a certain percentage of what is deposited every year. This can add a substantial amount to the 401(k) over the long-term.
  3. 401(k) programs offer customization and flexibility that many other types of investment just can’t match.  This gives the person who owns the 401(k) a lot of opportunities to invest that otherwise would be closed to them.
  4. The fact that a 401(k) is portable, meaning that it can be taken from job to job as you move up or around in your industry, is very attractive.  Unlike a pension that stops if you stop working for a particular company a 401(k) can be take with you wherever you go.
  5. Being able to withdraw money for hardships and other loans is also a feature that makes 401(k) plans a favorite as other plans can sometimes force you to pay significant early withdrawal fees for taking your money out before they mature.

All told, 401(k) retirement plans are one of the best, safest and most flexible types of retirement plans that you can invest in, and can be very lucrative due to the power of compound interest.  If you have the opportunity (and the brains) they are definitely an option that you should take advantage of if you’d like to retire in style.

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