Getting Your Financial Ducks In A Row Rotating Header Image

budgeting

6 Year End Tips for a Financially Productive 2017

As 2016 comes to a close in a few weeks and we start into 2017, here are some good tips to consider to start 2017 off with some good strategies that will hopefully become habits. If you’re not doing so already, set up your payroll deductions to save the maximum to your 401k. There’s plenty of time to your payroll allocated so your deductions start coming out on the first paycheck in January. The 2017 maximum contributions are $18,000 for those under age 50 and $24,000 for those age 50 or older. To deduct the max, simply take the number of pay periods you have annually and divide it into your maximum contribution amount. This will allow you to save the maximum amount over 2017. Consider doing the same to maximize your IRA contribution. Those limits are $5,500 (under 50) and $6,500 (over 50) respectively. Check your allowances on your […]

How to Save On Holiday Spending

It’s that time of year when Thanksgiving comes and goes and before we know it Christmas will be upon us. For many people, this time of year means the giving and exchanging of gifts to family, friends and loved ones. It also means that many people will be worried about their spending over the Holiday season; with concerns of how to budget, going over budget, or amassing unwanted amounts of credit card debit. Here are some ideas to help keep your Holiday spending in check in order to stick to your budget and avoid the trap of credit card debt – the gift that keeps on giving. Create a spending plan and stick to it. Many individuals have a budget when it comes to what they will spend on gifts for the Holidays. However, it becomes tempting to spend in excess of this budget when we see additional gifts we’d […]

How to Tackle Debt

It can easily happen. Whether we’re trying to keep up with the Joneses or investing in our education, sometimes debt can add up quickly. The good news is that debt can be erased. However, sometimes what we know we need to do is different from actually doing it. Here’s a game plan to start chipping away at your outstanding debt. With time and persistence, we can eliminate debt and increase our net worth. Let’s start with some definitions of debt. Debt is debt, but there is some that is generally better than others. Mortgage debt isn’t considered bad debt (unless you bought more house than you can afford). Additionally, student loan debt isn’t terrible (as you’re investing in human capital), but interest rates can be higher than home debt. Vehicle debt isn’t great either. Pay cash for your vehicles. Credit card debt is bad. It’s debt that has no backing, […]

What to do with an extra 1,000 dollars

I occasionally get this question – especially around the time of tax refunds.  When someone comes up with an extra $1,000, they often want to know how to best use that money wisely to help out their overall financial condition. Of course this question has different answers for different situations.  I’ll run through several different sets of conditions that a person might find him or herself in, and some suggestions for how you might use an extra $1,000 to best improve your financial standing.  (It’s important to note that you don’t have to have an extra $1,000 lying around to use this advice – you could have an extra ten or twenty or fifty bucks a week and put it to work with the same principles.)  The point is to find money that isn’t being spent on something critical, and put it to work for you!  Even small steps amount to wonders. […]

Retirement Income Requirement

You know how important it is to plan for your retirement, but how do you get started? One of the first steps should be to come up with an estimate of how much income you’ll need in order to fund your retirement. Easy to say, not so easy to do! Retirement planning is not an exact science. Your specific needs will depend on your goals, lifestyle, age, and many other factors. However, by doing a little homework, you’ll be well on your way to planning for a comfortable retirement. Start With Your Current Income A rule of thumb suggests that you’ll need about 70 percent of your current annual income in retirement. This can be a good starting point, but will that figure work for you? It really all depends on how close you are to retiring, as well as what you’re planning to do while retired. If you’re young […]

Your Year End Financial Checklist

As 2015 winds down it may be an ideal time to consider wrapping up (pun intended) some loose ends regarding your finances and getting ready to welcome 2016 financially prepared. Here’s a list of things to consider as 2015 comes to an end. Have you made your maximum IRA contribution for 2015? If you have yet to contribute the maximum to your IRA there’s still time. Individuals under age 50 can contribute $5,500 while those 50 and over can contribute $6,500. Individuals have until they file their 2015 taxes or the 2015 tax deadline (whichever comes first) to make their 2015 IRA contributions. Expecting a Christmas bonus? Your IRA is a good place to put it. Consider increasing the amount you contribute to your 401(k). If you’re not already maxing out your employer plan contributions ($18,000 if you’re under 50 and $24,000 if you’re 50 or older) consider increasing the […]

Book Review: Finance for Nonfinancial Managers

This recently-released Second Edition is a wonderful book for folks who find themselves in the position of needing to understand financial reports, when the last time you looked at a balance sheet was in your first year of high school accounting. Author Gene Siciliano has produced an excellent guide to the primary concepts of finance, written from the point of view that you have no background at all in finance or accounting. Managers of all levels in today’s business organizations need to have at minimum a basic understanding of financial systems in order to be effective. Day-to-day decisions are influenced by information found in financial reports, and without being able to interpret these financial reports, you’re flying blind. Maybe you’ve been thrust into a management position without any training – and you need to have an understanding of financial reports to do your job. Gaining a better understanding (after you’ve got the […]

How to Save More Without Making More

Here’s a pretty neat strategy that you can try if you’re looking to save a bit more for retirement, college or even paying down debt. It works like this: Whenever we’re out shopping or online shopping there’s always the temptation to purchase things we really don’t need. For example, I was at the store the other day and tried on a few pairs of jeans. Did I really need them? No. Did I want them? Of course. You may have seen yourself in a similar situation – wanting something but knowing you most likely didn’t really need it.

Debt Consolidation Loans Don’t Work (But You Might Get it to Work For You!)

You’ve likely heard or seen the commercials that urge you to consolidate your debt into “one low payment”. The concept makes logical sense and promises to free up some cash so it is easier to live paycheck to paycheck. The reason this usually doesn’t work is that it doesn’t address the real problem. The reason we get into this mess is because we have not learned how to spend within our income. What we need is a method to manage and organize our money so we make conscious decisions about how we spend it. A good book that I’ve used is “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez. How to Get Started To get started you might try the following:

5 Tips To Avoid Overspending for the Holidays

The Holiday season is the time of year when we get into the spirit of giving and start our lists of who’s been naughty and nice. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday over, there are still plenty of days left to shop for friends and loved ones. It can be tempting to get caught up in the spirit of giving so much that after the Holidays are over we’ve put ourselves in a financial bind. The following are five tips to consider this Holiday season to avoid overspending.

More Money Isn’t the Answer

How many times have we said or heard the phrase, “If I only had more money…”? Whether wanting to purchase a new car, house or trying to pay down bills such as credit card debt and student loans we can fall into the trap of thinking that more money will be the answer to our problems. Most often, this is not the case. The question we face is how we manage our money – not how much we make. Granted folks need a certain amount of money to survive (although there are some extremists that would argue otherwise) but think of it this way: if someone is poor at managing their money they currently make, how is an increase in income going to make them a better money manager? Let’s give this some perspective (shout out to last week’s post). Let’s say you were a bank and you were lending […]

How Much is 1%?

A penny saved is a penny earned and penny-pincher are two common terms that are used to describe someone that is most likely frugal. I would admit I am one of those individuals that aspires to both phrases – and it’s not out of accident. I am one of those folks who will pick up a penny (heads or tails showing – no superstitions here) when walking down the street and put it in my pocket. That penny, nickel, or quarter (in rare cases a one-dollar bill or even higher) will usually make its way into my piggy bank or more likely one of my daughters’ porcelain pigs. I pick up the loose change for one of two reasons: It’s literally free money. To not pick it up is asinine. Little amounts add up. Think of it this way – a penny is 1% of a dollar. A dollar is 1% […]

Call All Bloggers! 2nd Annual 1% More Blogging Project

I’m sure that I’m not alone in the financial planning world with my concern about the rate of saving toward retirement across this great land.  Recent figures have shown that we Americans are not doing as this year as last, at a 4.6% rate versus 5% last year when we started this project. This is a dismal figure when you consider how most folks are coming up way short when they want to retire.  Just like last year in November, I thought maybe something could be done to encourage an increase in savings – if only by 1%, this can be a significant step for lots of folks.  November is the perfect time to do this, as most corporations are going through the annual benefit election cycle, so the 401(k) (or 403(b), 457, or other savings plan) is right at the forefront for many folks. I’m proposing that all financially-oriented […]

Do Advisers Practice What They Preach?

With a cornucopia of information available to us regarding investing, financial planning and money management making  a choice between who’s right and who’s not even in the same area code may come down to what your personal preferences are, and just as important, if the person giving the advice practices what they preach. In a previous article, I spoke about how advisers get paid and the type of advice or products they may recommend depending on how the advisor gets paid for that advice. In this article I want to expand a bit further to whether or not the advice you’re getting is really being followed by the person giving it. Admittedly, there is some advice that may need to be given that may not pertain to the adviser giving it. One area may be debt reduction advice if the adviser doesn’t have any debt (but has practiced good money […]

Avoid the Freshman 15

It’s that time of year again when students either embark on a new journey from high school to college or return to undergrad studies from their freshman, sophomore, or junior summer into a new year of college. It’s also the time when bad habits, if left unmonitored, can result in what’s called the Freshman 15 – debt and weight gain. Historically, the Freshman 15 meant that a student settled down in college and in the first few months gained weight due to poor eating habits, stress, and perhaps alcohol consumption after turning 21. Today, I’ve expanded the Freshman 15 to also mean 15% – of credit card debt. Like consuming food, consuming money and on credit can lead to bad habits and have negative consequences. I can remember when I was a freshman in college and the credit card offers came pouring in. What an amazing display of copywriting! It […]

A Money Back Guarantee

  You’ve heard the saying before that there are a few guarantees in life: death and taxes. I’d also like to add another: guaranteeing yourself a rate of return. I get asked this question frequently, usually by someone who’s a conservative investor or someone looking for a “sure thing”. This is what I tell them and I am telling you. Call this your money back guarantee. For the majority of readers, this will come into play as most of you have debt in some form or another. Whether it’s your mortgage, automobile, boat, credit cards, college, many Americans have different amounts of debt all at different interest rates. Typically, your consumer debt (credit cards) is going to have the highest interest rates. Here’s how to guarantee yourself a rate of return: PAY DOWN YOUR DEBT. By paying down your debt you will be guaranteeing yourself the rate of return equal […]

Why You Need an Emergency Fund

You may or may not have heard that it’s wise to have an emergency fund. Even if you’ve heard it, you may not be aware of what it means and why you should have one – and more importantly why you need one. An emergency fund is just that. It’s money set aside for a rainy day, an unexpected bump in the road, or for a real emergency or an expense that you haven’t specifically planned for. Examples of those unexpected expenses (borderline redundant – I know) include a car accident, disability, storm damage to your home, losing a job, being a victim of theft, etc. So what makes up an emergency fund? Generally, a good place to start is to have a goal of at least 3 to 6 months of non-discretionary living expenses put away in a relatively liquid account such as a savings, checking or money market […]

APR vs. APY

Question: I am thinking on saving money in a 3 year CD paying .28%. The bank brochure is telling me I’ll get .28% APR, but there’s another word in the brochure that talks about APY. What’s the difference? Good question! APR (Annual Percentage Rate) is what you see on the “face” of the account. Example: If I invest $1,000 in a 1 year CD that pays 5%, the 5% on the brochure at the bank means APR. So I’m led to think that I’ll make 5% ($50) for the year for a total of $1,050. APY (Annual Percentage Yield) takes into account how often that interest rate is credited. Meaning does it credit a portion of that 5% monthly, semi-annually, or annually? If it’s annually, you’ll still get the 5% or $50. If it’s semi-annually, you’ll get credited 2.5% every 6 months. This is a bit better since you can […]

Holiday Spending

Now that the Holiday season is coming into full swing, I thought I spend a little bit of time talking about keeping your budget and money in control when it comes to the giving of gifts, the getting of gifts and some ideas to make your thought count without breaking the bank (or bending your credit card). The Holidays are a time of year where we can reflect on the people in our lives that we love, miss and want to give back to for all they have done for us throughout the years. It’s natural that we want to give as much as we can and often what we want to give may not equal what we can afford. In some cases, the number of people we want to give to exceeds our budget as well. This is where we can get into trouble. After the initial hype and […]

Calling All Bloggers – Let’s Increase America’s Savings Rate in November!

I’m sure that I’m not alone in the financial planning world with my concern about the rate of saving toward retirement across this great land.  Recent figures have shown that we Americans are doing a little bit better of late, at a 5% savings rate versus around 1% back in 2005 – but this is a dismal figure when you consider how most folks are coming up short when they want to retire.  Rather than sitting by idly and wringing my hands, I thought maybe something could be done to encourage an increase in savings – if only by 1%, this can be a significant step for lots of folks.  And now, in November, is the perfect time to do this, as most corporations are going through the annual benefit election cycle, so the 401(k) (or 403(b), 457, or other savings plan) is right at the forefront for many folks. […]

%d bloggers like this: