Financial Planning, Women Empowerment
Hope my advices will help you! To see original article, please visit ThriveGlobal.

One of the myths about why there are not many women engaged in trading and investing is because they are scared of taking action in “men world of finance”. In true they are scared of not knowing what to do, how to start. As a woman trader started from zero and becoming a millionaire, I know that fear is not what is holding women back from investing. The most important reason is their limited budget.

The old saying that it takes money to make money is true, and for those living paycheck to paycheck, there often isn’t enough money left over to put towards investing. The fact is if you don’t put money away for later years, you will face a very difficult future. Just imagine, if one day, you won’t be able to work and you will not have money to live on… So what can you do to escape such catastrophic situation in future?

woman investing financial advice

To reach any goal, you need look for opportunities, not for excuses. Financial freedom comes to the persons who take control over their finances — It’s a golden rule of Universe. My advice is not new, but it works. Follow 3 easy steps to change your life and take control over your financial future:

1. One of the best thing you can do for yourself is to develop a habit of saving part of your salary or other income. Savings today are guarantees and possibilities of tomorrow. Beginning today first of all take 10% of your income to save. You can save even more or if 10% seems to be a big amount for you, start with 2% or 4% and increase it every month. Make every dollar count! How often do you go to fast food restaurant, how often do you buy snacks? What if you cut out even small part of those expenses each month, netting you an extra $100 per month? At the end of the year you will have $1200. Yes, it does not seem like much to get started, but anything is better than nothing, and it can make a big difference in 20 years.

2. Start a special account to save 10% of your income and pay it with the same respect as you do your mortgage. Be disciplined — its your key to success. And never touch your savings, except of investing.

3. Start investing as soon as possible, as soon as you will accumulate enough funds to join the investment program you like — do it! If you are just saving, not investing, you will never become wealthy, because inflation will be eating your money day by day and year by year. The magic formula is saving + investing = financial freedom.

To reach a goal you need to make a first step — do it now!

0

Financial Planning, Investments, My Youtube channel, Trading & Wealth Management
In this video I share 3 easy steps to start investing even if you have limited budget or don’t have much money. Hope my advices will be helpful and your start in trading and investing will be successful. If you like this video, share it with your friends on you social media, subscribe to my channel and leave me message what topics on finances, trading and investing you would like to be covered in my next video. Enjoy watching!
0

Financial Planning
 

There are so many people today with their sights set on big financial goals for their future. More specifically, there are many individuals today who are looking for ways to become a millionaire. In fact, there is no end to the different types of approaches and suggestions out there that offer “theories” on becoming a millionaire. While theories are great, many aspiring millionaires need real action steps in order to find the success they have been looking for. While it isn’t always an easy road to reach this type of financial success, there are some very tangible action steps that individuals can take in order to become a millionaire.

1. Invest in yourself.

The old phrase “knowledge is power” is not one to be ignored. If you want to be a millionaire, then you need to really be able to invest in yourself and to educate yourself. How do you start and what do you educate yourself with? Start by writing down all of your hobbies and favorite things to do. From there, choose two or three that you want to dedicate yourself towards mastering within the next five to 10 years. The mastery of any one given subject is the key to making millions down the road.

Make sure you don’t just pick one hobby because you may not like it as much in the future as you do now, so you need to have a couple of safety options as well. As you start to educate yourself, you can then refine your skills based on what subjects you enjoy and what you have the most talent in. Really finding your niche and learning to master it is the key to getting started, and it is a real action step that you can actually take.

2. Learning how to budget and manage expenses.

If you have this skill early on, you can really go a long way on your road to becoming a millionaire. It isn’t a hard task to learn if you are willing to put some time into really honing your management skills. Read up on budget management or take an online course. From there, start tracking all of your spending. It doesn’t matter how much you are making, it matters that you are able to control what you are spending and what you are saving. There are so many people today, even celebrities and famous athletes that make hundreds of millions of dollars and they eventually go broke, it is because they don’t know how to budget. Learn this skill and you are setting yourself up for success.

3. Commit to learning about the business world.

You need to take the time to commit to learning about the business world and about investment opportunities. If you have a base knowledge of these key factors, you can really go far on your quest to become a millionaire. This means a real overall knowledge of real estate, mutual funds and stocks. Take the time to read up on guides likes these from Entrepreneur and ones like this one I created. While it may not be the most interesting thing in the world to learn about, it is important that you take your time to really immerse yourself in this world… think of it as your second job.

Once you have mastered this and learn how to invest conservatively and responsibility, you can have your savings work for you, while you sit back and do nothing. Passive income is really fantastic, and while it may not seem like a lot in the beginning, it can really add up over time.

If you really want to become a millionaire and want to be able to have the financial freedom you have always wanted, then you need to be willing to take action and make strong moves that will actually lead you towards the financial success you have always wanted.

0

Financial Planning, Investments

Like almost everything else in life, your response to money is largely dictated by your personality. But have you given much thought to how you behave in regard to your finances and how that behavior affects your bottom line? Understanding your money personality is the first step and will help you shape your approach to spending, saving and investing. So what’s your money personality? Read on to find out.

What’s Your Type?

Money personalities have been analyzed in a variety of ways and many people can identify with aspects of several profiles. They key is to find the profile that most closely matches your behavior. The major profiles are: big spenders, savers, shoppers, debtors and investors.

  • Bag-of-MoneyBig Spenders – Big spenders love nice cars, new gadgets and brand-name clothing. Big spenders aren’t bargain shoppers; they are fashionable and they are looking to make a statement. This often means a desire to have the smallest cell phone, the biggest plasma TV and a beautiful home. When it comes to keeping up with the Joneses, big spenders are the Joneses. They are comfortable spending money, don’t fear debt and often take big risks when investing.
  • Savers – Savers are the exact opposite of big spenders. They turn off the lights when leaving the room, close the refrigerator door quickly to keep in the cold, shop only when necessary and rarely make purchases with credit cards. They generally have no debts and are often viewed as cheapskates. Savers are not concerned about following the latest trends, and they derive more satisfaction from reading the interest on a bank statement than from acquiring something new. Savers are conservative by nature and don’t take big risks with their investments.
  • Shoppers – Shoppers derive great emotional satisfaction from spending money. They often can’t resist spending, even if it’s to buy items they don’t need. They are usually aware of their addiction and are even concerned about the debt that it creates. They look for bargains and are happy when they find them. Shoppers are eclectic in terms of investing. Some invest regularly through 401(k) plans and may even invest a portion of any sudden windfalls, while others see investing as something they will get to eventually.
  • Debtors – Debtors aren’t trying to make a statement with their expenditures, and they don’t shop to entertain or cheer themselves up. They simply don’t spend much time thinking about their money and therefore don’t keep tabs on what they spend and where they spend it. Debtors generally spend more than they earn and are deeply in debt and they don’t put much thought into investing. Similarly, they often fail to even take advantage of the company match in their 401(k) plans.
  • Investors – Investors are consciously aware of money. They understand their financial situations and try to put their money to work. Regardless of their current financial standing, investors tend to seek a day when passive investments will provide sufficient income to cover all of their bills. Their actions are driven by careful decision-making, and their investments reflect the need to take a certain amount of risk in pursuit of their goals.

Advice for Your Personality

Once you recognize yourself in one of these profiles and have put some thought into how you approach money, it’s time to see what you can do to make the most of what you have. Sometimes making just small changes can yield big results.

  • Spenders: Shop a Little Less, Save a Little More If you love to spend, you are going to keep doing it, but you should seek long-term value, not just short-term satisfaction. Before you splurge on something expensive or trendy, ask yourself how much that purchase is going to mean to you in a year. If the answer is “not much,” skip it. In this way, you can try to limit your spending to things you’ll actually use.When you channel your energy into saving, you have another opportunity to think long term. Look for slow and steady gains as opposed to high-risk, quick-win scenarios. If you really want to challenge yourself, consider the merits of scaling back.
  • Savers: Use Moderation Ben Franklin once recommended “moderation in all things.” For a saver, this is particularly good advice. Don’t let all of the fun parts of life pass you by just to save a few pennies.Tune up your savings efforts too. Pinching pennies is not enough. While minimizing risk is any investor’s prime goal, minimizing risk while maximizing return is the key to investing success.
  • Shoppers: Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have A critical step for shoppers is to take control of their credit cards. Unchecked credit card interest can wreak havoc on your finances, so think before you spend – particularly if you need a credit card to make the purchase.Try to focus your efforts on saving your money. Learn the philosophy behind successful savings plans and try to incorporate some of those philosophies into your own. If spending is something you do to compensate for other areas of your life that you feel are lacking, think about what these might be and work on changing them.
  • Debtors: Start Investing If you are a debtor, you need to get your finances in order and set up a plan to start investing. You may not be able to do it alone, so getting some help is probably a good idea. Deciding on who will guide your investments is an important choice, so choose any investment professional carefully.
  • Investors: Keep Up the Good Work Congratulations! Financially speaking, you are doing great! Keep doing what you are doing, and continue to educate yourself.

The Bottom Line

While you may not be able to change your personality, you can acknowledge it and address the challenges that it presents. Managing your money involves self-awareness; knowing where you stand will allow you to modify your behavior to achieve your desired outcome.

0

Financial Planning, Investments, Trading & Wealth Management

With thousands of stocks, bonds and mutual funds to choose from, picking the right investments can confuse even the most seasoned investor. But if you don’t do it correctly you can undermine your ability to build wealth and a nest egg for retirement.

So instead of stock picking, you should start by deciding what mix of stocks, bonds and mutual funds you want to hold. This is referred to as your asset allocation.

What Is Asset Allocation?

Young stylish businessmanAsset allocation is an investment portfolio technique that aims to balance risk and create diversification by dividing assets among major categories such as cash, bonds, stocks, real estate and derivatives. Each asset class has different levels of return and risk, so each will behave differently over time.

For instance, while one asset category increases in value, another may be decreasing or not increasing as much. Some critics see this balance as a recipe for mediocre returns, but for most investors it’s the best protection against a major loss should things ever go amiss in one investment class or sub-class.

The consensus among most financial professionals is that asset allocation is one of the most important decisions that investors make. In other words, your selection of stocks or bonds is secondary to the way you allocate your assets to high and low-risk stocks, to short and long-term bonds, and to cash on the sidelines.

We must emphasize that there is no simple formula that can find the right asset allocation for every individual – if there were, we certainly wouldn’t be able to explain it in one article. We can, however, outline five points that we feel are important when thinking about asset allocation:

1. Risk vs. Return

The risk-return tradeoff is at the core of what asset allocation is all about. It’s easy for everyone to say that they want the highest possible return, but simply choosing the assets with the highest “potential” (stocks and derivatives) isn’t the answer.

Happy-FamilyThe crashes of 1929, 1981, 1987 and the more recent declines of 2007-2009 are all examples of times when investing in only stocks with the highest potential return was not the most prudent plan of action. It’s time to face the truth: Every year your returns are going to be beaten by another investor, mutual fund, pension plan, etc. What separates greedy and return-hungry investors from successful ones is the ability to weigh the difference between risk and return.

Yes, investors with a higher risk tolerance should allocate more money into stocks. But if you can’t keep invested through the short-term fluctuations of a bear market, you should cut your exposure to equities.

2. Don’t Rely Solely on Financial Software or Planner Sheets

Financial-planning software and survey sheets designed by financial advisors or investment firms can be beneficial, but never rely solely on software or some pre-determined plan. For example, one old rule of thumb that some advisors use to determine the proportion a person should allocate to stocks is to subtract the person’s age from 100. In other words, if you’re 35, you should put 65% of your money into stocks and the remaining 35% into bonds, real estate and cash. More recent advice has shifted to 110 or even 120 minus your age.

But standard worksheets sometimes don’t take into account other important information such as whether or not you are a parent, retiree or spouse. Other times, these worksheets are based on a set of simple questions that don’t capture your financial goals.

Remember, financial institutions love to peg you into a standard plan not because it’s best for you, but because it’s easy for them. Rules of thumb and planner sheets can give people a rough guideline, but don’t get boxed into what they tell you.

3. Determine Your Long- and Short-Term Goals

We all have our goals. Whether you aspire to build a fat retirement fund, own a yacht or vacation home, pay for your child’s education or simply save for a new car, you should consider it in your asset-allocation plan. All these goals need to be considered when determining the right mix.

For example, if you’re planning to own a retirement condo on the beach in 20 years, you don’t have to worry about short-term fluctuations in the stock market. But if you have a child who will be entering college in five to six years, you may need to tilt your asset allocation to safer fixed-income investments. And as you approach retirement, you may want to shift to a higher proportion of fixed-income investments to equity holdings.

4. Time Is Your Best Friend

The U.S. Department of Labor has said that for every ten years you delay saving for retirement (or some other long-term goal), you will have to save three times as much each month to catch up.

Having time not only allows you to take advantage of compounding and the time value of money, it also means you can put more of your portfolio into higher risk/return investments, namely stocks. A couple of bad years in the stock market will likely show up as nothing more than an insignificant blip 30 years from now.

5. Just Do It!

Once you’ve determined the right mix of stocks, bonds and other investments, it’s time to implement it. The first step is to find out how your current portfolio breaks down.

It’s fairly straightforward to see the percentage of assets in stocks versus bonds, but don’t forget to categorize what type of stocks you own (small, mid or large cap). You should also categorize your bonds according to their maturity (short, mid or long term).

Mutual funds can be more problematic. Fund names don’t always tell the entire story. You have to dig deeper in the prospectus to figure out where fund assets are invested.

The Bottom Line

There is no single solution for allocating your assets. Individual investors require individual solutions. Furthermore, if a long-term horizon is something you don’t have, don’t worry. It’s never too late to get started.

It’s also never too late to give your existing portfolio a face-lift. Asset allocation is not a one-time event, it’s a life-long process of progression and fine-tuning.

0

Financial Planning

Unfortunately, personal finance has not yet become a required subject in high school or college, so you might be fairly clueless about how to manage your money when you’re out in the real world for the first time.

To help you get started, we’ll take a look at eight of the most important things to understand about money if you want to live a comfortable and prosperous life.

Learn Self Control

If you’re lucky, your parents taught you this skill when you were a kid. If not, keep in mind that the sooner you learn the fine art of delaying gratification, the sooner you’ll find it easy to keep your finances in order. Although you can effortlessly purchase an item on credit the minute you want it, it’s better to wait until you’ve actually saved up the money. Do you really want to pay interest on a pair of jeans or a box of cereal?

imagesIf you make a habit of putting all your purchases on credit cards, regardless of whether you can pay your bill in full at the end of the month, you might still be paying for those items in 10 years. If you want to keep your credit cards for the convenience factor or the rewards they offer, make sure to always pay your balance in full when the bill arrives, and don’t carry more cards than you can keep track of.

Take Control of Your Own Financial Future

If you don’t learn to manage your own money, other people will find ways to (mis)manage it for you. Some of these people may be ill-intentioned, like unscrupulous commission-based financial planners. Others may be well-meaning, but may not know what they’re doing, like Grandma Betty who really wants you to buy a house even though you can only afford a treacherous adjustable-rate mortgage.

Instead of relying on others for advice, take charge and read a few basic books on personal finance. Once you’re armed with personal finance knowledge, don’t let anyone catch you off guard – whether it’s a significant other that slowly siphons your bank account or friends who want you to go out and blow tons of money with them every weekend. Understanding how money works is the first step toward making your money work for you.

Know Where Your Money Goes

Once you’ve gone through a few personal finance books, you’ll realize how important it is to make sure your expenses aren’t exceeding your income. The best way to do this is by budgeting. Once you see how your morning java adds up over the course of a month, you’ll realize that making small, manageable changes in your everyday expenses can have just as big of an impact on your financial situation as getting a raise.

In addition, keeping your recurring monthly expenses as low as possible will also save you big bucks over time. If you don’t waste your money on a posh apartment now, you might be able to afford a nice condo or a house before you know it.

Start an Emergency Fund

Без названияOne of personal finance’s oft-repeated mantras is “pay yourself first”. No matter how much you owe in student loans or credit card debt, and no matter how low your salary may seem, it’s wise to find some amount – any amount – of money in your budget to save in an emergency fund every month.

Having money in savings to use for emergencies can really keep you out of trouble financially and help you sleep better at night. Also, if you get into the habit of saving money and treating it as a non-negotiable monthly “expense”, pretty soon you’ll have more than just emergency money saved up: you’ll have retirement money, vacation money and even money for a home down payment.

Don’t just sock away this money under your mattress; put it in a high-interest online savings account, a certificate of deposit or a money market account. Otherwise, inflation will erode the value of your savings.

Start Saving for Retirement Now

Just as you headed off to kindergarten with your parents’ hope to prepare you for success in a world that seemed eons away, you need to prepare for your retirement well in advance. Because of the way compound interest works, the sooner you start saving, the less principal you’ll have to invest to end up with the amount you need to retire and the sooner you’ll be able to call working an “option” rather than a “necessity.”

Company-sponsored retirement plans are a particularly great choice because you get to put in pretax dollars and the contribution limits tend to be high (much more than you can contribute to an individual retirement plan). Also, companies will often match part of your contribution, which is like getting free money.

Get a Grip on Taxes

It’s important to understand how income taxes work even before you get your first paycheck. When a company offers you a starting salary, you need to know how to calculate whether that salary will give you enough money after taxes to meet your financial goals and obligations. Fortunately, there are plenty of online calculators that have taken the dirty work out of determining your own payroll taxes, such as Paycheck City. These calculators will show you your gross pay, how much goes to taxes and how much you’ll be left with, which is also known as net, or take-home pay.

 

For example, $35,000 a year in New York will leave you with around $26,430 after taxes without exemptions in 2015, or about $2,032 a month. By the same token, if you’re considering leaving one job for another in search of a salary increase, you’ll need to understand how your marginal tax rate will affect your raise and that a salary increase from $35,000 a year to $41,000 a year won’t give you an extra $6,000, or $500 per month – it will only give you an extra $4,129, or $344 per month (again, the amount will vary depending on your state of residence). Also, you’ll be better off in the long run if you learn to prepare your annual tax return yourself, as there is plenty of bad tax advice and misinformation floating around out there.

Guard Your Health

shutterstock_160939997If meeting monthly health insurance premiums seems impossible, what will you do if you have to go to the emergency room, where a single visit for a minor injury like a broken bone can cost thousands of dollars? If you’re uninsured, don’t wait another day to apply for health insurance; it’s easier than you think to wind up in a car accident or trip down the stairs.

You can save money by getting quotes from different insurance providers to find the lowest rates. Also, by taking daily steps now to keep yourself healthy, like eating fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, not smoking, not consuming alcohol in excess, and even driving defensively, you’ll thank yourself down the road when you aren’t paying exorbitant medical bills.

Guard Your Wealth

If you want to make sure that all of your hard-earned money doesn’t vanish, you’ll need to take steps to protect it. If you rent, get renter’s insurance to protect the contents of your place from events like burglary or fire. Disability insurance protects your greatest asset – the ability to earn an income – by providing you with a steady income if you ever become unable to work for an extended period of time due to illness or injury.

If you want help managing your money, find a fee-only financial planner to provide unbiased advice that’s in your best interest, rather than a commission-based financial advisor, who earns money when you sign up with the investments his or her company backs. You’ll also want to protect your money from taxes, which is easy to do with a retirement account, and inflation, which you can do by making sure that all of your money is earning interest through vehicles like high-interest savings accounts, money market funds, CDs, stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

The Bottom Line

Remember, you don’t need any fancy degrees or special background to become an expert at managing your finances. If you use these eight financial rules for your life, you can be as personally prosperous as the guy with the hard-won MBA.

 
 
0

Financial Planning
5 Steps to Make Managing Your Finances Easier
It would be nice if you could have one magic formula or one easy trick that made it so you never had to worry about money again. If you are tired of being stressed out about money all of the time, you need to get a hold on your personal finances. There are five keys that can help you get control of your finances. Once you have started following these five steps consistently the stress about your finances should diminish.

This is because you have a clear plan that you are following.

Start with Goals

The first thing you should do is to write specific goals about what you want to do with your life and your money. Finances can affect many different areas of your life. Your goal to travel the world affects how you will plan your finances. Your goal to retire early is dependent on how well you handle your finances now. Home ownership, starting a family, moving or changing careers will all be affected by how you manage your finances. Once you have written down your goals you will need to prioritize them. This makes sure you are paying attention to the ones that are most important to you. You can also list them in the order you want to achieve them, but for a long-term goal like retirement, you should be working towards it while working on your other goals.

  • Start by setting long-term goals like getting out of debt, buying a home, or retiring early. These goals can help you focus your shorter term goals.
  • Prioritize your goals to help you create your plan (which is the next step).
  • Set short-term goals, like following a budget, decreasing your spending, or stop using your credit cards.

Create a Plan

A plan will help you reach your goals. The plan should have multiple steps. The first part of your plan should be to get control of your budget.

You will need to create a spending plan. The second part of your plan should be to get out of debt. After you have accomplished those two things, you should decide what you want to do with your money to reach your goals. The money you free up from your debt payments can be used to reaching your goals. At this point, you should decide what priorities are the most important to you right now, as long as you are steadily working towards your long-term retirement goals, you can begin to focus on the most important goals you have set for yourself. Your goals, along with an emergency fund, will help you stop making financial decisions based on fear and help you get control of your situation.

  • Your budget is key to success. It is the tool that will give you the most control of your financial future. Your budget can help you reach the rest of your plan.
  • Use budgeting software or past expenses to get you a starting point for your budget.
  • Take the time to focus on your budget now. If you need help, consider taking a personal finance class.
 

Stick to Your Budget

personal-financeYour budget is one of the biggest tools that will help you succeed financially. It allows you to create a spending plan so you can focus your money in a way that will help you to reach your goals. Even after you are out of debt you need to have a budget. It is easy to spend more than you make, and if you stop tracking your spending you can go over and run up debt really quickly. A budget lets you decide how to spend your money. Without the plan, you may spend your money on things that are not important to you, but you want in the moment, and then wonder why you are never reaching the financial milestones you want to set. If you are married you and your spouse need to work together on the budget. This will help you to achieve your goals together and prevent fights.

  • Consider switching to an  envelope budgeting system that uses cash for the difficult categories.
  • Also budgeting software with mobile apps so you can enter spending when you are actually shopping can help you stick to your budget.
  • Planning ahead can also help you to avoid overspending, which is why budgeting is key to being financially successful.

Get Out of Debt

Your debt is a huge obstacle to reaching your financial goals. Set up a debt elimination plan that will snowball your payments. While making minimum payments, you focus extra money on one debt at a time and then move all the money you were paying on the first debt to the next debt. Once you are out of debt, you need to make a commitment to stay out of debt. Stop carrying your credit cards around with you, and save up an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses so you do not need to turn to a credit card to cover them.

  • You may want to sell items to find extra money to kickstart your debt payment plan.
  • A second job can help speed up this process and may be necessary if you want to make lasting changes to your situation.
  • Look for areas you can cut in your budget to increase your debt payments too.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Advice

Once you are ready to grow your wealth and begin investing you should speak to a financial planner to help you make your investment decisions. A good advisor will share the risks involved in each investment, and help you find products that match your comfort level while helping you work towards your goals as quickly as possible. A financial planner can also help you with your budget if you want him to. These types of planners charge an hourly fee, and will help you set up a basic budget if you need the help, and then help you choose investment products when you are ready. Remember that investing is a long-term strategy to building wealth. Check out these personal finance tips too.

  • A local church or community center may be offering classes on personal finances and budgeting. Occasionally banks and credit unions may do this too.
  • You can also find a mentor that would be willing to walk you through your budget the first few months. This can help you if you are overwhelmed with your budget. A mentor can also help with other financial areas like opening a business or something similar.
0

Financial Planning

You don’t have to live an ascetic life to keep your budget in check.

Most run-of-the-mill members of the seven-figure club don’t live in mansions or drive around town in a Bentley—you’re more apt to see them in a Honda, Toyota, or other non-luxury brand. You may even see some billionaires going cheap. Warren Buffett still lives in the same Omaha home he bought for $31,500 in 1958. Stanford professor David Cheriton, a billionaire from his early bets on Google, reportedly cuts his own hair.

This may have to do with how these folks got into this club in the first place. Most millionaires attribute their success not to making smart investments, but to saving early and often, according to a survey by PNC Wealth Management. And nearly 80% cite frugality as a key to success, a survey by the Spectrem Group found.

That doesn’t mean you have to live an ascetic life. You can still enjoy a gradually improving standard of living as long as you keep the pace just a tad below the rate of your rising income.

Your Millionaire Moves

• Save half your raises. A surefire way to speed up your path to a seven-figure net worth is to sock away all the raises and bonuses you get. But as behavioral finance research shows, too much deprivation now may cause you to binge later.

The compromise: Bank some of your regular raises and bonuses—say, 50%, and spend the rest. Psychologically, “it’s important to celebrate your successes,” says Susan Mitcheltree, a financial planner in Lutherville-Timonium, Md. As the chart at right shows, if you start early, you can get to nearly $2 million by using this strategy, even assuming conservative gains.

• Live large, just not in a big house. The standard rule of thumb for how much house you can afford is 28% of gross monthly income.

But who says you have to spend all 28%? Using this rule, a person making $80,000 could afford a $1,900 mortgage. Based on a 30-year loan at 4.25%, that puts the price at around $375,000. But if you dialed that back to 23% of income, you’d lower your payment to $1,500. Invest the savings at a modest 5%, and you’d have an added $333,000 over the life of the loan.

Also, who says you have to use a 30-year loan? Planner Ron Rogé prefers 15-year mortgages because of the “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in potential savings. Using the 28% example, a 15-year loan at 3.5% would save you $168,000 in interest over a 30-year loan at 4.25%. And once the loan is paid, you’re free to invest $1,900 a month for the next 15 years, netting another $500,000.

Debra Cohen, 48, found another way to save. Rather than move to a $1.3 million, 3,200-square-foot home in 2007, the small-business owner and her husband gradually added features to their 2,300-square-foot, $650,000 Long Island home, including a home office. They spent more than $150,000 renovating. But by staying they paid off their mortgage three years ago and saved $400,000 over the past decade.

• Make the most of what you spend. One way to keep a lid on spending—on things like cars or the latest tech toys—is to maximize the satisfaction you derive from the purchases you do make.

A recent Journal of Consumer Psychology paper found that people experience much deeper satisfaction when they buy “experiences” like vacations rather than things like furniture or clothing. That’s in part because we’re happiest when we’re spending time with people we love. So if you plan to spend part of that raise, think about a family trip to Hawaii rather than buying that luxury car.

0

Financial Planning

Everybody needs a budget. You need a budget to save and spend money, and you really need a budget if you need help getting out of debt. If you don’t have a budget, you’ll always wonder where all your money went and it’ll seem like you never have enough. With a simple but realistic budget, you’ll start saying, “Where did all this money come from? Oh, I know. I saved it.”

Despite the fact that creating a budget is fairly straightforward, more than two-thirds of Americans do not have one, according to Gallup. The scary part: By neglecting to create and follow one, they may be putting their families at risk.

“The difference between people who are financially secure and those who aren’t is often times one thing — a budget” Indeed, a budget can help you pay down your debt; save for retirement, emergencies and other things; and pay for the things you want and need.

Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide, to creating a budget.

1. Make goals. Whether it’s driving or budgeting, it’s hard to get somewhere without knowing where it is you want to be. That’s why it’s essential to write out, and prioritize, your financial goals.

On a sheet of paper, you will write down your goals, making sure to prioritize these:
  • Paying down high-interest debt like credit card debt, as quickly as you can
  • Saving for retirement (aim to save 10% or more of your income)
  • Building up an emergency fund

Then, think about other things you’d like to get out of life that cost money — taking a vacation, renovating your home, whatever — and add those to the list in order of the importance they have in your life. If you have a spouse or partner, it’s important to include him or her in this discussion, as well as in the budgeting process.

2. Figure out your monthly expenses. There are two ways to do this (or use a combination of the two), both with the goal of determining everything you spend money on and how much you spend on it in the average month.

First, you can gather all your financial statements from the past few months; these include bills, credit card and debit card statements; checking and loan account statements receipts and anything else showing the expenses of your household. From there, add up your total expenses for the past few months to determine your typical monthly spending.

For some of you, this will be difficult. Maybe you pay cash for a lot of things and don’t keep receipts or maybe you toss bills. In that case, track your spending for a few months by writing it all down in a notebook or by putting it on your smartphone. Every single dollar that leaves your pocket must be accounted for. Once again, add up your total monthly expenses using this information.

You should also make a note of any large expenses that aren’t monthly — homeowners or car insurance payments or an annual holiday you take — as these will need to be accounted for. Many experts recommend breaking these costs out into smaller monthly costs so you can easily account for them in your monthly budget going forward. For example, if you have bigger expenses such as tax payments that you need to make annually or every quarter, just divide the annual amount by 12 and add that to your monthly expenses. Then you won’t be caught out when the due date comes around.

Once you know your expenses, divide them into two categories:

  • Essentials: These are expenses you have to pay, including housing, food, transportation, utilities, debt and tax obligations.
  • Nonessentials: These are things that you can spend your discretionary income on, such as vacations, eating out, entertainment, enrichment.

3. Determine your net monthly income. To figure out how much you money you take home each month, gather all your pay stubs, interest statements, child support payments and any other information that shows income earned. From those, you’ll want to calculate what’s called your net income, which is the amount your household actually brings home after all deductions have been taken from your paychecks. These deductions may include taxes, Social Security payments, health insurance premiums, deductions for retirement savings, union dues, life insurance premiums, even wage garnishments and liens.

4. Compare your income to your expenses and make a plan accordingly. Subtract your monthly expenses from monthly income; you can use a work sheet like this one, from the Federal Trade Commission, to help simplify this process. (This work sheet can be used in future months as well to ensure that you stay on your budget.)

If your expenses are higher than your income, you risk going into debt further, so look to cut costs from your list of nonessential expenses in Step 2. Could you stop going out to dinner, push your vacation until a later year when you have more money, stop getting a latte each morning? Some experts recommend trying to break one of your expensive habits each week (if you try to do too many at once, you might fail) until your spending is under control.

Once you are at a point where you can pay for all of your essentials (debt payments, housing, transportation, health-care costs, etc.), you’ll want to begin paying for the goals you listed in with saving for retirement and an emergency fund at the top of your list. If you’re not sure what these goals will cost you each month, use an online calculator (Bankrate.com has several) to figure that out so you can make room for those costs in your budget.

If you have extra money coming in each month after meeting your expenses, look to bolster your savings and begin funding your secondary goals.

5. Simplify your financial life As much as you can, automate your bill pay for everything from your mortgage to your utilities (so you don’t miss payments and get hit with late fees) and savings (so you aren’t tempted to spend the money sitting in your account). Added bonus: Some lenders and utility companies even offer reduced interest rates (or other benefit) for use of their automated payment services.

6. Stay on track To ensure you have enough money each month to meet all of your expenses, pay down your debts and save for your goals, you should continue to track your spending every month. Note everything you spend money on each month (don’t forget to add in those bills you have automated) by either writing down your expenses on a sheet or paper you carry with you or in your smartphone notes works too. (If that’s a bit too labor-intensive for you, you can review your bank and credit card statements each week to track spending and insert each item into your budget then.) It’s very similar to writing down everything you eat when trying to lose weight. Review your spending at least weekly to ensure you’re on track.

If you find that you’re still spending too much despite writing down all your spending, start cash — yep, cold hard currency — for everything that you can. Each week, take out the amount of cash you’re allowing yourself to spend and keep the credit cards and debit cards hidden from yourself.

7. Be adaptable. Changes to both your income and spending will happen, and you may need to restart this process if the changes are significant. Even if they’re not, you may still need to adjust your budget each month to reflect true spending. You may get hit with an unexpected expense, for example, that zaps your emergency fund, so you have to put that goal ahead of say, saying for a trip. Or you may find that your expenses are ticking up, in which case you will need to work on ways to cut costs.

 
0