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:

 


 

Budgeting:

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:

 


 

Spending:

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!

Three Ways Your Location Influences Your Budget

If you are new to the world of personal money management, then you have probably turned to online resources (like this one!) for ideas about how to write your budget. Looking at sample budgets can be highly informative, especially if you have no idea what you are doing. However, it is important to be aware that the sample budgets you see on websites might not be realistic for your circumstances.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that your income may be quite different from those used in sample budgets. The second reason is that certain expenses look very different depending on where you live. Here are three expense categories that are heavily influenced by location.

  1. Groceries

Geographic location plays a significant role in determining the prices that grocery stores assign to their items. Supermarkets in suburban areas tend to have lower prices than the markets and bodegas common in cities. This is partially due to the fact that larger stores can often get greater discounts from distributors than smaller stores can. When you write your budget, pay attention both to what your family eats and to the average price of food in your area.

  1. Homeowner’s Insurance

Depending on where you live, the available home insurance plans and their respective costs vary greatly. Insurance agencies calculate rates based on the likelihood of damage being caused by weather and crime, as well as by how much it would cost to rebuild after damage. That means if you live in a hurricane-prone area, it is likely to be reflected in your insurance rates.
However, you do not have to be resigned to paying an arm and a leg just to have coverage. Contact a local insurance agency to find out how rates are determined in your area, as well as how you can customize your plan to get the best fit for your family. Local agents are well-equipped to help you since they are familiar with your area’s unique attributes. If you can negotiate a lower rate, your budget will thank you.

  1. Transportation

No matter where you live, you need to get around somehow. For some people, getting from Point A to Point B is as easy as lacing up their tennis shoes or hopping on a bicycle. For others, it requires a hardworking vehicle and lots of gasoline.
When you write your budget, you need to consider your modes of transportation and how much they cost. A commuter in Los Angeles, CA might pay almost twice as much for gasoline as a commuter in Harrisburg, PA. Someone who walks to work every day but takes long car trips each weekend might ultimately incur higher transportation costs than someone who always takes the bus but generally sticks around town.
Budget for Your Place in Life
It is always helpful to keep in mind that your budget has to reflect your lifestyle, not someone else’s. Preexisting templates are useful for learning to budget, but you have to alter them to fit your needs. It takes a lot of trial and error to work out a system that works for your family, and locational differences are a major reason for that. Remember, no matter how many snags you hit along the way, having a budget is 100 percent worth it!

The Biggest Problem With Spread Betting, And How You Can Fix It

You heard that spread betting was lucrative, so you entered the markets after learning a few basics, thinking it was just a matter of time before you could swim in profits. Well, the trend went against you and you lost a big chunk of your account balance.

Well, that same scenario is typical of traders who lose money most of the time. To be realistic, there is actually 5% of traders who are making it spread betting for a living. The rest either have a bad trading plan, or are treating it as fan and not business.

If you want to know the biggest problem with spread betting and how to fix it, this article will give you a clue on how to go about it.

The biggest problem with spread betting and how you can fix it

Let’s say you signed up with the CMC Markets and funded your trading account with $250. Would you be able to triple that capital in the long run? Of course yes. But how are you planning to realize this success?

You will probably answer this question by saying that you will use the right trading instruments like the MACD, RSI, and moving averages to gauge market sentiments. But in as much as this answer is correct, these things only play a small part in your entire performance. The real impediments that make people fail in spread betting are listed below:

All strategies are correct

Traders tend to think that losing their entire trading capital is an indication that their strategy isn’t working.

If you lose the entire $250, or lose multiple times of that amount, it doesn’t really mean that your system is ineffective. Most newcomers don’t understand that success in spread betting or Forex is not pegged on the win/loss ratio, but is rather dependent on how much they stand to lose when they are wrong and how much they stand to win when they are right. As a matter of fact, losing 5X$250 and making 1X$5000 would still place your account in good standing regardless of the strategy you used. So please understand that it’s never about the win/loss ratio.

Many traders are too impatient to make good profits

We have agreed that the only acceptable way to lose is to get knocked out of the game. If you’re able to preserve your capital no matter which trading strategy you use, then there’s always an opportunity to profit.

The problem, however, is that most traders are impatient when they think of the potential profits they are likely to make.

And the only solution to fixing this is to develop a plan, back-test it, modify and back-test again before trading it either to success or destruction. If this plan happens to be profitable, you should consider trading it with small stakes (remember greed is one reason why traders lose money). The game also changes when you switch from demo to a real account, so only ramp up your stakes when you have built a decent income.

Most traders ignore the fundamentals of successful trading

Most traders don’t make it because they have a gambling mentality towards spread betting. Consequently, they end up gearing up to ridiculous levels, thinking the market would favor them by chance.

Others have a very short term view of the market. They don’t truly listen to where the market is going.

When it comes to observing the sins of trading, they don’t take them seriously yet these things determine whether or not one will be successful in their trading.

Newbies trade against the trend when a weak signal emerges suggesting the trend will turn. That’s an impatient way of trading, and it often leads to more losses than profits.

Other traders ignore stop losses, or at best, they keep extending their stop losses in the hope that the market will eventually turn in their favor. This is the quickest way to blow an account.

Finally, the same traders ignore the 2% money management rule. They risk over and above 2% of their account balance. To add salt to the wound, they open multiple trades hopping to make substantial profits from the running trades. Again, this is one of the surest ways to lose money spread betting, why, because each trade carries a risk with it. If you place 5 trades at the same time, you are essentially multiplying your risks.

Conclusion

The only way to keep the markets from swallowing your capital is to correct those mistakes and be patient. There is no magic bullet for those who are looking for working strategies to benefit from spread trading. Also, remember not to bet for the sake of doing so. Treat it as you would with a serious business.

Saving and Side Hustles! Using Forex Trading Wisely

Although there is somewhat of a short-term nature regarding the Forex markets, we should always keep in mind that such a side hustle can quickly evolve into a lucrative financial strategy for years into the future. Due to recent market instability, a growing number of traders are wisely considering the ways in which they can turn their side hustle into a genuine savings plan. To clarify things a bit, let us take a look at some powerful methods to keep in mind. Preparation is the key to success with any investment.

The Rule of 30 Per Cent

Many traders who are new to the currency exchange sector could be unsure how much money they should put away after a successful trade. This can be especially confusing when the lure of short-term profits interferes with long-term goals. Naturally, every individual will gravitate towards his or her own preferences. Novices should embrace the rule of 30 per cent. To look at this concept from another angle, 30 per cent of all savings will be allotted into a dedicated account. These are not to be used for any future trades. This can help to add momentum to any side hustle.

Margins: To Be or Not to Be?

Some view margin trading as a decidedly risky venture. To be sure, losses can far eclipse the initial amount that was invested towards a specific position. The exact opposite is also very true. The benefit of any margin trade is that although the investor will only put down a fraction of the total value of an asset, the full profit can be realised if its momentum is predicted correctly. This can be a wonderful opportunity for those who may not have a great deal of spare capital. However, it is IMPERATIVE that margins be correctly understood before any such position is chosen.

Tight Spreads

The term “spread” is frequently used in conjunction with the Forex markets. A spread is the difference between the buy and the sell price. Different online brokers will naturally provide different spreads. Tight spreads below a single pip are associated with lower transaction costs per trade. This will benefit those who are executing multiple positions during a given time period. Also, low spreads such as those which are associated with CMC Markets are great ways to experiment with different trading styles. Finally, favourable spreads (such as 0.7 pips) can help to maximise the rewards offered by automated trading systems.

A side hustle does not necessarily have to be associated with an excessive level of risk. Understanding the importance of the concepts mentioned above is a prudent way to enter into the exciting world of currency trading. Still, losses within this industry are a fact and not every trade proves to be profitable. Using the services only found through CMC Markets is a powerful way to enjoy a profitable long-term stance. Smart trading requires patience, knowledge and experience. The architecture utilised by CMC Markets will help to provide such a financially bright future.