Dec 27

5 Essential Financial Resolutions to Improve Your 2014 – With a Practical Example

Very Insightful article on essential financial resolutions for 2014 that I came across on MainStreet.com titled ’5 Essential Financial Resolutions to Improve Your 2014′. Article is written by Kathryn Tuggle. I found this article further validate my practical approaches that I describe in my book MILLIONOMICS: My Journey to gaining financial freedom  In this book I take you through a most enlightening journey of how I practically achieved my financial resolutions step by step, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. See what the readers of my book have to say by visiting here.

Take few minutes to read this insightful article by clicking here and I have placed the same below for quick reads. Once you complete reading the article at above link, I would highly encourage to take few moments to checkout my book MILLIONOMICS: My Journey to gaining financial freedomYou will find the book greatly valuable because of the most practical insights the book touches on based on my personal experiences and how I could achieved the needed financial freedom by saving smart while living well. Here is the same article for your quick reference:

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Lose weight, take a vacation, spend more time with family … although these are all excellent resolutions to make for the New Year, none are quite as important as improving your finances — at least according to a survey by Capital One. When consumers were asked which area of their life they most needed to get more from, 59% said finances while only 27% said love and just 15% said work.

If you’re among the majority of Americans looking to improve your financial picture, there are some steps you can take for a brighter 2014. We checked in with experts who weighed in on the five most lucrative financial resolutions you can make.

1. Get on a realistic budget.

This may sound like an obvious solution for many — the simple formula of having more money going in than money going out — but it’s oftentimes much more complicated than that, says Jim Schinella, CEO of budgeting tool Manilla.

“People will forget the payments that occur once a quarter or once a year, or the fact that someone’s birthday is coming up, and then they find they’ve overspent,” Schinella says. “That’s why you need to have a system that gives you total transparency of information.”

Another big budget-buster is entertainment expenses, Schinella says. Such things as dining out, movie and concert tickets and even cocktails can really add up. Daily expenses such as morning coffee and lunch can also be an issue.

“Ask yourself: How would I cut that down? What meals might I cook at home?” Schinella says. “Many people would be shocked how much they can save by lowering those types of casual expenses.”

2. Take advantage of your employer-sponsored 401(k).

It’s no secret that everyone should be packing as much money as they can away for retirement, Schinella says. Unfortunately, not everyone takes advantage of their employer-sponsored plan. Some people don’t like the idea of the automatic paycheck withdrawal, while others may fear they won’t work at the company long enough to take full advantage of the match.

“You want to capture whatever employer match you have, because it’s free money,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate.com senior financial analyst. “You may not always work for an employer who has a 401(k), and when you switch jobs you may have to wait a period of time before you can start putting money away again.”

If the 401(k) option is not available to you — or even if it is — McBride recommends also investing in an IRA.

3. Pay off your credit cards.

If you’re already in a situation where you’re behind in credit card payments, Schinella says it’s only going to get worse after the holidays.

“Coming out of Christmas, people may not be able to pay more than the minimum. Then the fees will mount up and make it really difficult,” he says. “You’ve got to have a plan so that you can get out of the hole — out from under any recurring interest-bearing debt.”

Over the past few years, more people have made progress on paying down debt, but it’s still the biggest stumbling block to increasing savings, McBride says.

“People always say they will start saving as soon as they get their debt paid off, but they never pay it off,” he says.

4. Start an emergency fund.

Unfortunately, people are woefully under-saved for emergencies, McBride says. An emergency fund should be considered a short-term goal and should be the top priority on a savvy investor’s list of short term goals, along with a special vacation or a college fund for a child.

Only 24% of Americans have an adequate emergency savings fund, according to McBride, and 27% have no emergency fund at all.

“Starting the emergency fund is really a good place to start in terms of financial resolutions for the New Year,” McBride says. “Honestly, the biggest barrier to saving is that people aren’t in the habit of saving.”

5. Invest wisely, and use an expert.

Do your homework before making major changes in your portfolio, says Scott Tiras, an Ameriprise private wealth adviser based in Houston.

“Markets will always go up or down over time and on occasion, significant events may cause more dramatic shifts in stock prices. It’s important to keep your portfolio in line with your long-term goals,” Tiras says.

Best of all, find someone who can help keep you on track.

“It’s important to have a good sounding board when it comes to staying on track with your finances. Talk with a trusted friend or family member or hire a financial adviser to help you control your behavior so you don’t make irrational decisions when the market does go through a correction,” he says.

— By Kathryn Tuggle on MainStreet.com

 

Dec 26

2014 New Year Resolutions: 10 Key Resolutions that can save you $1,000 EACH or more!

I found this great article originally published on MoneyTalksNews.com as ’10 New Year’s Resolutions That Can Save You More Than $1,000′. Article is written by Allison Martin. I was glad to see such good summary on some of the key drain areas of spending. If given a good care, you can truly make this savings work for you. This article summarizes on what these 10 things are and my book MILLIONOMICS: My Journey to gaining financial freedom takes you through a most enlightening journey of how I achieved the same step by step, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. See what the readers of my book have to say by visiting here.

Once you read through the article, I will highly encourage that you take few minutes to check out on my book MILLIONOMICS: My Journey to gaining financial freedomYou will find the book greatly valuable because of the most practical insights the book touches on based on my personal experiences and how I could achieved the needed financial freedom by saving smart while living well. Here is the article link that I found for this on Yahoo this morning and the article is below for your quick reference:

Whether it’s responsible money management, weight loss or a healthier lifestyle, New Year’s resolutions usually become a thing in the past by February when the holiday festivities are over, the dust has settled and life is back to normal.

However, with a little determination and consistency, resolutions can help you save $1,000 or much more.

1. Implement a new shopping strategy

Next time you plan to head out to grab a few items, be sure to comparison shop at a minimum of three stores that carry each item. To save time, do this online.

Another way to save big is by shopping during off-peak periods. If you typically spend $1,000 on winter clothing and then make the decision to shop the smart way, markdowns that average 40 percent will yield cost savings of at least $400 on your transactions.

Total annual savings: $400.

2. Develop a spending plan

If created and implemented correctly, a budget will reveal weak areas and force you to live within your means. However, only 32 percent of Americans prepare a monthly budget that tracks their income and expenses, according to a Gallup poll. That leaves 68 percent of consumers who may have no real way to assess their finances and incorporate more responsible spending habits.

One possible outcome is overdraft fees. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that consumers who have at least one overdraft a year average $225 a year in overdraft fees. The average overdraft fee is $30.

Total annual savings: $225.

3. Get out of debt

About half the families that have credit cards carry a balance. And luckily, because of the Credit CARD Act, your statement now tells you how long it will take to pay off that debt if you make only the minimum payment each month.

What if you owe $2,800 on your card and have a 12 percent interest rate? The Federal Reserve credit card repayment calculator says that if you don’t add any new charges to the card and make only the $56 minimum payment, it will take you 14 years to pay off the card and cost you $2,194 in interest.

Don’t fall victim to this trap. Instead, develop a debt-management plan that can be executed with funds allocated from your budget. You can pay off that debt in a year with a monthly payment of $249 and pay only $186 in interest. See “The Best Way to Pay Off Debt.”

Total savings: $2,008.

4. Plan your meals

When making the grocery list for the week, plan your meals around the sales and corresponding coupons that are available. Since couponing can be very time- consuming, you can also try eliminating a few items from your list or substituting generics to save at least $20 per week.

Total annual savings : $1,040.

5. Reduce budget busters

The little luxuries may seem inexpensive and worthwhile, but they add up rather quickly. Try cutting variable expenses, such as coffee drinks, smoking, gym memberships and cable TV. Shaving down your $3 caffeinated beverage from five to two cups per week can save you up to $468 per year. On the other hand, if you cut out that $55 monthly gym membership and seek free alternatives, you can save up to $660.

Total annual savings: $1,128.

6. Scrap the loyalty

Switching to Geico (or any other insurance company) may or may not save you money, but it’s definitely worth looking into. Even if you have been with one car insurance company for years, use online comparison tools and shop around to find the most competitive rate.

Total annual savings : $100 to $300.

7. Load up the rainy-day fund

Failing to have a sufficient emergency fund in place is the easiest way to enter and remain in debt land. To put things into perspective, if you charge $600 for a set of new tires to a credit card with an interest rate of 16.9 percent and a minimum payment of $20 per month, you will end up paying $186 in interest over the course of three years.

Total savings: $186.

8. Adopt a healthier lifestyle

Not only is an active and healthier lifestyle beneficial to your well-being, but it also helps out your pocketbook because the need for prescribed medications, physician visits and treatments may also dwindle.

Total savings: $500 to $1,000.

9. Cut the booze

There’s nothing wrong with an occasional night out with the guys or gals, but beware of the bar. Consuming alcoholic beverages in public venues can be quite costly, particularly if you go when it’s not happy hour. And let’s not even consider what getting a DUI could cost you.

Total annual savings: $180 to $15,000.

10. Renegotiate your debts

It never hurts to call around to each of your creditors and attempt to have your interest rates lowered.

And how about refinancing your home? The savings from refinancing a $250,000 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a 5.5 percent interest rate will vary depending on the terms, but a monthly payment on a $250,000 loan at 4.5 percent is about $153 a month less.

Total annual savings: $1,836.

Even if you implement a few of these New Year’s resolutions in 2014, your wallet will thank you. What money-saving resolutions are on your list? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

I found this great article originally published on MoneyTalksNews.com as ‘10 New Year’s Resolutions That Can Save You More Than $1,000′. Article is written by Allison Martin MoneyTalksNews.com.