Favorite The No B.S. Quick and Easy Financial Guide

Instead of fluffing all this up, I’m going to get straight to the point and quickly.

Do you have good credit?

Yes- Are you sure? Is your credit report and score spotless and impressive?

No- Do you want good credit?

Why is it important to have good credit?

Do you ever in your entire life want to get a home loan, car loan, personal loan or credit card? Some employers check your credit report as part of the hiring process, bad credit can negatively impact your chances of getting some jobs.

Get your credit report and scores for free. DON’T pay a cent for either of these. Some places offer a free trial, don’t do it. All you need is the free versions.

Free Credit Reports– You can go to annualcreditreport.com and get your credit reports for free once a year from each of the 3 credit reporting bureaus. You can get these all at once or spread them out over the year (such as 1 every 4 months). (est. time about 8-15 minutes) Print it out or save a copy to your computer.

Free Credit Score– You can get your credit score for free through Credit Sesame and Credit Karma and then check it as often as you wish. I usually check mine once a month and have never paid them a cent. My FICO score was amazing close to my credit score from credit sesame, so if you’re planning to get a loan this can save you from purchasing your FICO score.

Why should you check your credit report and score? Basically, it gives you a starting point to see your progress, makes sure all the information is accurate and gives you an overview of your financial standing.

Some of my posts to help you with credit:



Saving for retirement:

Are you getting older each day? Me too. Do you have ridiculous amounts of money saved up for retirement or can you guarantee that you are going to win the lottery one day? Me neither.

Overall, we’re all going to get old one day and we can’t work forever. So we need to have money set aside to live on when we’re older. It’s simple, but it can be hard for people to see the importance of saving for retirement especially when it’s a way in the future.

How to get started saving for retirement:

401k– Most companies offer 401k programs, where employees can contribute a percentage of their pretax income. If your company offers a match, that is free money and you should try to take advantage of as much of it as you can.

You can get started by just contributing 1% to your 401k, it’s not much but it’s a great starting point. Then later on after you have adjusted your finances, you can increase it in 1% increments.

Can you afford to contribute 1% to your 401k? How much is 1% of your pretax income?

$500 = $5.00 per paycheck before any taxes come out, so it’s not actually $5.00 less of your take home, it’s probably more around $3-4

$750 = $7.50
$1,000 = $10.00
$1,250 = $12.50
$1,500 = $15.00
$1,750 = $17.50
$2,000 = $20.00
$2,500 = $25.00
$3,000 = $30.00
$3,500 = $35.00
$4,000 = $40.00

I’m sure you get the point by now, 1 percent of your pretax paycheck isn’t much. It’s enough to get you started and won’t have much impact on your take-home pay.

What if you don’t know what to do with the money once it’s in the 401k? You have a few options here:

* You can put (or keep it) in cash reserve form

* You can randomly pick a few funds or stocks (whatever your plan offers) and hope for the best

* You can pick a target date fund close to your expected year of retirement. Or if you want to be more aggressive, pick one way later than you want to retire. Or for a more conservative strategy with less risk, pick a target date fund in the next 10 years.

* Ask somebody who knows about investing to take a look at the options and help you choose.

Getting started saving for retirement is really what is important, not so much what you’re choosing off the bat. You can always switch things later down the road.

Roth IRAs

Roth IRAs are another great way to save for retirement. The money you contribute to these your aftertax dollars (take home pay).

Sharebuilder.com is where our Roth IRA is and I’ve been fairly happy with them so far. You can even get a bonus for opening your account which is helpful to get started. You even earn a little bit of interest on you money that just sits in the account, so you can take your time to figure out what you want to do with it.

Betterment.com: Betterment also offers Roth IRAs and the great thing about having your Roth IRA with Betterment is that they take care of everything for you. You don’t have to worry about what to invest your money in. You just choose your allocations, how much you want to go into stocks and how much you want to go to bonds and that’s it. I’ve been looking into Betterment and will be switching our Roth IRA over here soon, it’s good stuff.

Roth IRA savings accounts: Captial One 360 offers Roth IRA savings accounts where you just let your money sit and earn interest. I’m not sure that this is the best way to grow your money, but if you don’t want to worry about investing, it’s better than not saving at all. I started out with this and was able to easily transfer the money to our Sharebuilder investing account when I was ready to start investing it. There are many options out there, you just have to look.

Some of my posts to help you with retirement are:




How sick are you of hearing “spend less than you make”? Probably a lot, but there is a reason why everybody and their dog continuously spews this most basic point.

So do it! Spend less money than make each and every paycheck and things will get better. If there is anything left the next time you get paid, save your leftovers.

If you’re currently spending more than you make, you have 3 options (none of which include lottery tickets).

Option 1: Reduce your expenses (cut out non-essentials and anything you can honestly live without, use coupons, take advantage of rebates, start a garden, cook more meals from scratch, reduce the amount of meat you use in your meals or go without it more often, make your own laundry soap and cleaning solutions, shop the sales, stretch every dollar as much as humanly possible).

Option 2: Increase your income (try to get some overtime, sell off stuff you no longer use, get a 2nd job, get a paper route, mow lawns, earn money online, whatever you can do).

Option 3: Reduce expense & Increase your income (really drive it home in the budget department)

If you get paid bi-weekly, you can use this to your advantage (see my post: Paying Your Bills With Bi-weekly Paychecks).

Some of my posts to help you out with budgeting are:




If you don’t have the money for it, then you can’t afford it. If you have some available credit on your credit card, that does NOT count as having the money for it.

Spend your money on things that are necessary and things that are truly important to you.

Put off purchases for a set amount of time, 1 week or even a month to make sure you truly want the item as much as you think. Oftentimes, the desire fades or something new and better takes it’s place. Don’t give into instant gratification and your finances will be much healthier in the long run.

You work very hard for your money, so don’t waste it.

When you do decide to spend your money on something, look around for the best deal. Is there a cheaper price at a different store? Any rebates for the item? Can you earn gas rewards at your grocery store if you purchase a gift card to pay for your purchase? Can you earn money back on your purchase by using Cash-back shopping online?

Whatever you do though, do NOT completely deprive yourself or you will have a very hard time. Sometimes it’s best to start with baby steps.

Some of my posts to help you with your spending:



Saving Money:

Saving money doesn’t have to be difficult, but there will always be times that are worse than others. Most times, the hardest part is not touching the money you have saved.

The easiest way to not touch your saved money is to keep to your budget and pretend you don’t have any money saved. This works best if you have an online savings/checking account that is separate from your everyday accounts.

Personally, I use CapitalOne360 (formerly ING Direct) and have been since 2007 and our everyday banking is with a local physical bank. The ability to transfer small amounts (yes, even under a dollar) was what got me started with all this finance stuff in the first place.

Starting out to save money doesn’t have to be painful. Do you have a buck? Then you can start now. Don’t wait, just do what you can, when you can. I promise, in the end it all adds up and the sooner you get started, the easier it will be.

A few of my posts to help get you saving:



Obviously, I can’t shove every morsel of my financial knowledge into one post, but this should be enough to get you started and point you in the right direction.

If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing it via social media or email. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Saving!

Retirement Wars: Assisted Living vs. Staying with Your Family

Part of the process of getting older in age is trying to figure out the best way to care for your elderly parents. There is the eternal debate over if you should find a suitable assisted living program or just let them come stay with you. It’s not a simple conversation to have and it encompasses many people. You have to know how having the person in your home will affect the current ecology of your current lifestyle.

Will the addition of an elderly parent cause a financial burden? Is there adequate space to house your mom or dad in a spare room, or will adjustments have to be made? Perhaps the kids will now have to share a room- but, how will that effect their overall attitudes toward the situation? Simply put, there are no easy answers to any of these questions.

In order to best figure out what is the right fit for your family here are some talking points to figure out if bringing the parent into your home is the right idea for your family.

What Do They Want?

It can be tough to talk to your parents, or your spouse’s parents, about their financial situation, especially if it isn’t so flexible. But, if caring for them is a part of your future, you need to be able to prepare for it. Don’t be afraid to ask the parent if they even want to live with you in the first place. You may be surprised to find that they’d prefer to go to an assisted living facility. Which could ease the potential burden of having another person in your home.

Will You Need to Add-On, Renovate or Remodel?

If the parent does want to move in to your home, you’ll need to consider privacy, safety and care. Is your home big enough to accommodate an extra person? Will you need to add an extra bedroom or go through with a major overhaul of your home? Of the available space, is it wheelchair accessible? Do you need to have grab bars installed in bathrooms or other spaces? Some simple researching online could estimate the total cost of what will be required from the parent. It’s important to understand what is needed and how it will impact your homeowner’s insurance.

What Kind of Insurance Do They Have?

Understanding the financial reality facing your parent(s) is a critical step in finding them a forever home. However, so is getting acquainted with their insurance coverage. Is long-term care insurance part of their plan? What exactly does their plan cover? Not only will housing renovations potentially cost you money, but their medical costs can also be a factor you will need to account for in your budget. Can you split the cost with them and their insurance?

Find Out What It Will Cost You

With all of these figures running around, it may seem like a lot of money. However, it still might be less expensive than the assisted living facility of their choice. Don’t assume that it will be cheaper to provide care yourself, a survey from AgingCare.com found that an estimated 34 million Americans are personally providing care for elderly family members, and 34 percent of them spend $300 a month or more of their own money. If you don’t know the total cost of having your parent live with you versus how much it will cost to put them up, you will never fully have a good idea of the true weight of the situation.

Is the financial aspect of taking in an elderly family member going to impact you in a positive or a negative way? Ultimately, the choice is up to you and your family to make together.

What to do in a Financial Emergency

Financial emergencies are all too common in the United States. Almost half of Americans couldn’t handle a $400 change to their budget, and many in this situation are working members of the middle class. Whether you’re facing an unexpected medical procedure, need to repair your car as soon as possible or just can’t cover rent this month, you’re not alone in your struggles to pay the bills. You have options for handling these sudden expenses; here are a few ideas for getting money right away.

Sell Some Stuff

It’s not ideal, but you can raise cash quickly by selling off some of your possessions. You won’t get top dollar for your goods, but you can get money in your pocket to take care of your emergency right away. You have multiple options for finding a quick buyer:

  • Post an ad on Craigslist for big-ticket items like televisions, appliances and expensive apparel.
  • Visit a pawn shop or flea market stall to unload your lower-value items.
  • Host a yard sale this weekend. Even better, find a local rummage sale you can join for increased foot traffic and better odds of getting the money you need.
  • If you have children’s items like clothing, toys or books, look for a Facebook group for parents in your area. You might be able to sell unused goods in a single lot to a sympathetic family looking to fill up their nursery.

Donate Plasma

Don’t be fooled by the euphemism of “donate” plasma. That language exists to circumvent the federal government’s rules on selling blood and blood components, so you’ll technically be paid for your time, not your plasma. Either way, the end result is cash in your pocket. Plasma centers offer big bonuses to entice first-time donors, so you could score up to $100 with your first two visits. You won’t be alone; many others use plasma to stay afloat financially. Donating usually requires a physical exam to ensure you’re healthy and then 2 to 3 hours of time. You can donate up to twice a week.

Short-term Loans

Despite increasing regulation over the past few years, short-term loan options continue to be available in most states. If you own a car or home or receive a regular paycheck, these high-interest loans can help you deal with your financial emergency if you know how to manage debt wisely. Here are a few different options:

  • Title loans. If you own your car, this type of emergency banking will let you use your vehicle as collateral for loans of several thousand dollars. However, if you fail to repay the company, they can charge you large fees or seize your vehicle.
  • Borrowing from a friend or family member. Your social network probably won’t charge you interest for an emergency loan, but you might lose some goodwill by putting your friends in the awkward position of having to turn down your request. If you have a good plan for paying back the loan, you can make this method work with few downsides.
  • Payday loans. These loans are controversial, with advocates saying they provide access to cash for unbanked consumers and critics claiming they unfairly harm low-income families. If you’re strapped for cash, they can be a convenient option for an emergency loan, but make sure you don’t get trapped in the cycle of borrowing money from them with every paycheck.

Short-term loans from title or payday lenders give you immediate access to the funds you need but charge exorbitant interest rates. Pay them back quickly or you’ll find yourself in an even bigger financial emergency next month.

Use a Credit Card

If you have a credit card available, use it to cover your emergency. Ideally you’d only use your card if you were able to pay off the entire balance with each statement, but financial emergencies are less-than-ideal times. You need to take care of yourself and your family; don’t feel guilty about using the tools you have available.

You’re not alone in your financial struggles, and your situation isn’t hopeless. Use these techniques to raise the money you need right now. Once you’re back on your feet, start thinking about long-term strategies for controlling your finances and building a savings fund so you can be ready for the next financial emergency.

The 3 Most-Traded Forex Currencies

haven-asset-trading-for-mastertheartofsavingThe world of forex is vast and full of potential. However, this can be a bit intimidating if you’re new to it. That’s why we’ve put together the three most-traded currencies on all of FX. Start learning about and trading these and, in no time, you’ll be able to spread your wings and experiment with other options.

The U.S. Dollar

Easily the most traded of all forex currencies on the planet is the U.S. dollar. It can be found paired with every other major world currency on just about every single platform (at least any worth trading on). The dollar is also used as an intermediary in triangular transactions with other forex currencies.

Will this change any time soon? No, probably not. As long as the U.S. dollar continues to be used as an unofficial reserve currency for the rest of the world, you can expect that this will always top the list of most-traded currencies. It would take a huge global upheaval on the part of every major central bank and institutional investment firm before the U.S. dollar will relinquish the number one spot.

The USD is also used as the standard currency for the majority of commodities like precious metals and oil which holds huge influence.

Furthermore, there’s dollarization, where certain countries have actually adopted the USD as their own currency. There are also plenty of nations where local businesses will accept it without issue.

Lastly, many nations peg their currencies’ values to the dollar. This includes China. Doing so stabilizes the exchange rates for these countries as opposed to letting the foreign exchange market affect it.

The Euro

Second on our list of most-traded currencies is the euro. Though it lacks the history of the U.S. dollar, it has quickly made up for lost time. For one thing, it is the second largest reserve currency in the world and the official currency of most countries in the Eurozone.

These nations and many in Africa peg their currencies to this one for much the same reason as we mentioned with the U.S. dollar; it helps to stabilize exchange rates.

On forex, the big advantage with the euro is the liquidity it immediately brings to any currency it is paired with. Speculators love the euro because of how it reacts to the general wellbeing of the Eurozone. Should there ever be any disturbance amongst member nations, the flux that follows can mean huge profits. For this reason, the euro isn’t just one of the most-traded currencies, it’s probably the most politicized of them all.

The Japanese Yen

The yen and the euro have a lot in common. They are both the most-traded currencies of their respective continents. Like the euro, the yen is used as a barometer for the welfare of the Pan-Pacific region of the world.

Japan’s yen is also taken as an indicator of the strength of the country’s famed manufacturing-export sector. As Japan’s economy grows or shrinks, so too does its currency’s value on the foreign exchange market.

In the world of FX, the yen is known for its function in the carry trade. To put it simply, the currency was basically subject to zero interest for much of the 1990s and 2000s. Traders acted on this by borrowing the yen – again, with zero interest – at almost no additional cost and then invested that money in higher-yielding currency from all over the globe. Doing so gave them a nice sum of money to pocket as the difference.

This has made it very difficult to appreciate the yen and is one of the reasons it will most likely never beat the euro in popularity – at least not any time soon. While it still does extremely well and is traded with the same fundamentals that would be used for any other currency, its relation to international interest rates is a detriment, to say the least.

There you have it: the U.S. dollar, the euro and the Japanese yen. Make these the focus of your FX game plan and you’ll experience success for years to come.


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