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!

How to Make Your Retirement Secure

When you are a working class citizen, you begin to realise just how important your retirement is. You work for years and years, so you deserve a great retirement. Now, what a lot of people do is have an IRA. The Individual Retirement Account is something nearly every employed person has. It is basically a fund that accumulates over time. It is added to by interest and using a portion of your income. This is usually a service provided to you by your employer in the form of a retirement plan. However, you do have other options available.

Employers usually use one of two retirement plans for their staff. These are the 401k and the 403b retirement funds. Of course, these are quite good on their own. There is nothing wrong with the IRAs your employer will grant you. In fact, these will give you a pretty solid retirement fund to rely on when you’re finally out. In addition to this, you can open a retirement account at a bank, or a financial services provider. A lot of these places offer comprehensive retirement options. You could open an IRA at any of these places instead of with your employer, or you could transfer the funds from your company account to the private one (called a rollover).

These aren’t the only options you have. The disadvantage of these accounts, and any IRA, is that they are very closely linked to the current market. If the world’s economy were to plummet, so would the value of the money in your IRA. With the recent recession 7 to 8 years ago, the global economy is not in a very stable state. In fact, there is always a risk of the economy going to the dogs yet again. If this were to happen, your standard IRA account would not stand a chance against dying values.

However, there is another option out there. This is called an IRA gold account. It basically means that you will be taking a portion of the money in your current IRA and buying its value in gold. It doesn’t have to be gold, of course. It can be any precious metal, but gold is one that has borne the test of time over and over. The price of gold has remained constant for so many years that it is the only stable currency worth investing in.

When you open a gold IRA rollover account, the money from your current IRA is given to you and you deposit it in the new IRA you have opened. You can then convert a part of it into gold like a standard gold IRA account.

If you don’t have an IRA yet, you should definitely make an investment in your future and open one. Inquire with your employer about their retirement options or just call up a few different financial companies and talk to them about your options. Be sure to ask about the gold option too, because that is quite a great way of securing your future after retirement.

Solve the Demands on Your Finance

Priorities change through a lifetime. It is easy in your twenties to see a life ahead and little reason to make any provision for retirement. Those people embarking on a career after college are likely to have a student loan to pay off, perhaps a new apartment in need of furnishing and even the deposit on a new automobile. There is always something! In the face of these calls on your finance it may be very difficult to think about retirement. As the years go by there can be other calls on your finance, ranging from the need to build up a deposit to buy real estate to the costs of raising a family. It can appear that there is never any time to put money away for later years. However the answer to the question about when it is important to save for retirement is a short three letter word; ’now’ whatever your age. It is never too soon.

No one is suggesting it is easy to always be in control of your finances. During the years of recession it was even more difficult. However there is little chance of having a sound financial base if you do not look at your income and expenditure and think about the competing demands on your money. It is certainly tempting to prioritize immediate demands rather than put any money aside but getting into the habit of saving should be everyone’s aim.

Difficulties of Saving

It is certainly difficult to save anything in the early years of working. Ten years on it remains easy to make excuses not to save. Certainly the financial environment in the last few years did not help. However the environment has improved and the jobs’ market has improved. There is relative security though many people have a damaged credit score in need of repair. If this is you then that repair must be a priority as part of an overall strategy to develop financial stability and with it provision for retirement.

Create a Surplus

You should look at your regular income and expenditure with a view to seeing if there is a surplus or whether one can be created; that surplus will be useful in providing for retirement or creating an emergency fund. One of the problems that many people have faced and still face is debt on their credit cards, and at the end of every month the interest rate applied to that debt is high, much higher than the rates charged on personal loans. Even though some financial institutions are extremely reluctant to lend to those with a poor credit score, modern day online lenders take a far more positive view of loan applications. Those with a regular income that can demonstrate their ability to repay a loan over a fixed term are likely to be approved.

Any balance on a credit card that is paid off with a personal loan will have the consequence of reducing monthly expenditure. The resulting surplus should be used wisely for the future. If you see your situation here and have the self-discipline not to build up a balance on any credit card once again you can actually borrow to improve your long term financial future.

It Makes Sense

Why is it that online lenders are happy to provide a lifeline to those who have defaulted on financial obligations in the past? Well, it is a combination of things. They include the belief that the recession followed a period of complacency in society as a whole. The lesson has been learnt. Equally there is profit to be made by lending with perhaps a slightly higher rate of interest charged because of the slightly higher risk involved.

The Internet is the best place for anyone to go for information. In the financial sector you can look at what is currently on offer and make decisions in your own time. There is no ‘hard sell’ and good websites will be thorough in the information regarding terms and conditions and APR to be applied to specific loans. Lenders provide a quick and easy application process, completely online, and funds usually with one business day of application if the lenders can see the repayments are affordable. Whatever your age this service is available to help you plan for your future.

CFD Trading on a Budget

Also called “contract for difference,” CFD trading is a contractual agreement between two parties (a buyer and a seller), and it is a trade based on the difference between the value of an asset from the time it is opened to the time that it closes. Whether that rate of change is positive or negative, the buyer will get paid when the market moves in his or her favor.

One main advantage of this trading system is that a person can get into the market with very little money, but it’s not without its risks. While the profit potential can be huge, it can just as easily work the other way. In fact, there is even a greater chance that someone can incur severe losses from a trade.

The reason why these types of investments are so risky is because they are bought “on margin.” This means that the trader puts only a portion of the value of the stock (which is kind of like a deposit) to facilitate the transaction.

As a rule, higher margin trades have a greater risk. So, it’s important not to put too much into a trade. In fact, you should start small, and work your way upward as you gain more trading experience. After all, it does take time to learn. That’s why you need to be patient, and you should put forth the effort to do it correctly.

With that in mind, it makes sense to have the right CFD broker, and with CMC Markets it’s easy to learn everything you need to get started. Not all CFD brokers are legitimate, so you want to make sure you have the right people by your side.

A good diversification strategy is always helpful: in fact, it is necessary. Spreading your money around into several different assets and industries will help you to minimize your risk in the market, as industry trends can often change. If one industry goes down, your investments in other areas will help to soften the blow.

Make sure you analyze and monitor your trades carefully, and you should never make a decision based on your emotions. Look at every situation logically, and base your strategy on concrete evidence and statistics. But most importantly, you should remember that timing is critical, and you should know when to get in and out of a trade.

As your portfolio grows, it might be difficult to monitor every single open trade. That’s where CMC Markets has the advantage. They have a team of analysts who look at the market carefully to see where it is and where it’s going.

Still, you have to have a solid strategy, and you have to find one that works. Otherwise, trading in the CFD market will do you more harm than good. Not only do you want to make sure you have the right information, but you also want to make sure you’re talking to the right people. Doing so will only increase your chances of being successful.