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 Do I Know whether or not a Car Title Loan Is the Right Decision for Me?

If you are finding yourself in a difficult financial situation, you may want to consider applying for a car title loan. After all, all you really need is to be the owner of a clear title on any kind of vehicle. However, borrowing money is something you need to think long and hard about. This is why you should always consider all the different options that are out there. You should also look into these options before you are in difficulty. That way, if times get hard, you will already know where to turn to.

Some of the Options You Can Use

  • When times are not tough, try to open a savings account and set some money aside. While you should only touch this in an emergency, it is better to use your savings than to apply for a loan.
  • Use credit card balances to pay for unexpected bills and keep you going until the next payday. While this is still borrowing money in a sense, it is easier to pay back and it doesn’t require you to apply for more credit.
  • Apply for a loan. Depending on what your credit score is, there are various loan options available to you from going to the bank to applying for car title loans in Westminster. There are also often promotional programs out there that offer you cheaper fees or interest rates for a set period of time, so do also look into those.
  • Speak to your friends and family. While most people don’t want to discuss their financial situation with others, and while we all know that mixing money and friendship is a bad idea, it is often still a cheaper and better idea than going to a band or lender.
  • Always compare the market for different lending options. Even if you know that a car title loan is the only available option for you, make sure you compare at least three different companies so that you can find the one that offers you the best possible deal.

Different Types of Short Term Loans

Different types of short term loans exist and while these are generally all quite forgiving of people with bad credit, they are not all created equally. Hence, make sure you understand the difference and choose the one that is most suitable to your personal needs. Two of the most popular options are:

  • Car title loans, whereby your loan is secured against the title of your vehicle. You will be able to continue to use your car while you pay the loan back, but the title deed will be handed over to the lender.
  • Payday loans, whereby you essentially secure a loan against your next paycheck. These are the most expensive loans, but also the easiest and quickest to get.

Try to be prepared for the worst before it happens. That way, if it does happen, you will know what options are available to you.

The FCA bears its teeth to the tune of 250 million GBP

The UK Financial Conduct Authority has decided to fine Barclays a record 250m GBP for rigging the foreign exchange. Read on and we discuss the fine and ask whether the FCA is really justified in doling out the huge fines we have seen it issue since 2013.

Biggest fine ever

The fine that Barclays is set to be hit with relates to a bigger scandal which many banks have already been fined in connection with. Some refer to their as the foreign exchange rigging scandal, where banks are accused of having tolerated rogue traders fixing certain markets.

The fine is the biggest since UPS was fined 234m GBP for similar “rogue trading” in a scandal now known as the forex scandal.

FCA

Whereas for some the FCA is doing a great job – fining the “big bad boys” in the City, others are suggesting that the FCA is really going too far in its approach.

The FCA is part of a wider package of regulation the financial services market was hit with in 2013. The raft of regulation included price caps for certain financial products, and caps on interest rates which short-term creditors were allowed to charge.

Some are now asking – where is the accountability of the FCA and who is it answerable to? The answer is no one really, but should this be the case?

If the FCA is not really answerable to anyone, how do we know when, and if they ever get it wrong? Their every action – in their own eyes is bound to be a success, but how do we feedback to the FCA how damaging enormous fines really are?

More accountability needed

Some are suggesting that the FCA need to be made more accountable for the consequences of their penalties and any adverse consequences that arise from these actions. The short-term credit industry is a case in point.

Short-term lenders are still reeling from the effects of price caps on certain financial products, but they also have to cope with unfair regulations relating to APR. If they don’t express their financial products in terms of APR, they may well fall foul of the hardhitting FCA, but who can they turn to, to relay their side of the story? – which is that APR is not really suitable for short-term financial products, because these are not supposed to be taken out for anything more than a few days!

How can we get more accountability?

Some have suggested that the FCA need to pay more attention to the consequences of their penalties and fines, and consider how this is likely to impact the customer in the street.

Short-term credit providers and payday loans providers like Wizzcash are now forced to turn customers away because they don’t pass strict credit standards set. The harsher conditions have led to a heated debate, on one side – how is this fair to the customer, to be pre-emptively disqualified for an emergency loan service. On the other, the legislation was specifically created to protect the people most vulnerable and likely to use these loans.

Some say it is just one example of a problem that continues to simmer, and has not yet been addressed by any of the major political parties in the UK.

How to Save Money While Moving to Houston

Houston does everything big and moving there is no less of a show. Your move to Houston can be expensive when you look at packing materials, professional movers, utility expenses, and even gas to get there. However, below are two tips to keep in mind to save money while moving to Houston.

Select a Long Distance Moving Company Based out of Houston

A long distance moving company that is based out of Houston but travels nationwide is your best bet. Of course, you could use a company that is based in your starting location, however, think about what should happen upon your arrival in Houston.

  • What if there was an error and the home is not vacated?
  • What if you need more time due to your leasing paperwork?
  • What if there are major repairs that need to be worked on?
  • What if they still need to paint your new home?

Any of the above reasons and others not listed here are a cause to not move your items into your home. Using a Houston-based moving company, they have the perfect solution – storage units. Be it temporary PODS to sit outside your new home or to move into a self-storage unit, they can handle all the details as you surely will have your hands full. Since you are using combined services, this is at a great discount to you.

Write Off Your Moving Expenses

If you’re relocating to Houston for work purposes, congratulations as you may be able to write this off. According to the IRS, you can write this off if the following three conditions are met:

  • Your move closely relates to the start of work
  • You meet the distance test
  • You meet the time test

So what does this mean? You must be moving due to the job. You can’t move to Houston and then look for a job. You must also be moving to a new residence that is at least 50 miles away. And finally, if you work for an employer, you must work full-time for at least 39 weeks for your first 12 months. If you are self-employed you must do so and in addition to that, work full time for at least 78 weeks during the first 24 months.

While you can also save money by shopping around for the right home, you can also save by adequately preparing for your move and letting the government pitch a few bucks back in.