Apr 152015
 

The following post is contributed by a staff writer.

The thing about getting better at personal finance is you wish you could have known what you do now when you were younger. If I had the skill and experience I have now, at 21, I could have set amazing decisions in motion, investments and practices that would have paid off many times over. Time is your best friend when it comes to money, and we tend to waste plenty of it when we’re young. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff, but I’ve gotten some emails asking me about this. So here goes: what I would do with my money if I was 21.

  • Make good decisions with limited resources. Most people don’t make a lot of money at age 21 but let’s say you can scrape together $2000 a month from a decent job. If you live with roommates, you can share the cost of housing so it’s cheaper than living alone. As you start to earn a higher income over time you can keep your spending the same. Let’s say you spend $300 a month sharing a house with 3 other people. You eat noodles, rice, and beans, with some veggies thrown in. This totals less than $200 a month. You limit your “fun money” to less than $200 a month, and pay about $200 a month for student loans. That’s a total of $900 of spending, which means you have $1500 each month for other purposes. Of course, this is painting a picture of a pretty spartan existence, but sticking to a budget while you’re young is a lot easier than changing your habits when you’re older. With the outlined budget you can save approximately $500 a month to first build up an emergency fund of $5000, and then starting investing for your retirement.
  • Start investing. Buying a home can be a high priority for many people. In some cities, especially in America, it’s possible to buy a house that gains value fast, for less than $100,000. You may decide to save for a down payment instead of only buying stocks or bonds. You can also research other investment types such as the Forex market, and CMC markets. Another popular strategy would be to learn about the world of P2P lending, and other similar investment options. However P2P lending is not available in all countries.

These are all steps that people who spend a lot of time with there personal finance will get to eventually. But it’s important to make these decisions and steps as soon as possible. By doing them at 20 or 21, rather than 30 or 31, you’ll have a lot more time to grow and will build up a lot more wealth and success.

 Posted by at 8:55 pm
Apr 022015
 

The following post is contributed by a staff writer.

4 Ways to Supercharge Your Retirement Savings Efforts

When you’re young and naive, the idea of saving for your retirement is something that you don’t consider. We often believe we have a surplus of years to save, and therefore make the assumption that saving now is not necessary. However, according to an article on Bankrate, 19% of the working population fears that they won’t have enough to retire. While a mere 33% state they will have enough to “just get by”. But why?

After having dedicated 30 plus years of your life to a career, don’t you want to enjoy the rest of your life? Don’t you deserve to live comfortably and enjoy retirement without the fear of going into debt, living check to check, or even worse…Having to work through your retirement years.

The Sooner You Plan The Better

From the very moment that you begin working (say 25 years of age) you should begin thinking about your retirement. Opening a 401K or other form of retirement savings account and making consistent contributions is the most basic step that should be considered. The younger you are when you start planning for retirement, the less stressful the entire process will be.

Be that as it may, it is never too late to start planning for your future. Below are a few options on how you can supercharge your retirement savings and begin securing your future.

  1. Increase Your Retirement Savings Contributions

Whether you have a pension account, 401K, or IRA, you should really consider increasing your contributions. If you’re currently contributing $100 per month, you should consider increasing that dollar amount by at least $50 or $100. If you have any of these accounts through your employer, see what percentage they match. Many employers will match your contributions thus making a periodic increase on your behalf worthwhile. By increasing the amount by $50, your employers will then do the same.

While I wouldn’t recommend increasing your contribution to the point that you can’t afford your monthly bills or necessities, making a few sacrifices (such as eliminating one day of eating out each month) can make a huge difference in the long run. In fact, CNN money states that while in your 20’s you should be investing about 10 to 20% of your income into retirement.

  1. Get Rid of Those Debts

I bet you’re wondering how in the world paying down your debt is going to help you save towards retirement, but it’s really quite simple. For every bill that you have to pay on the regular basis, that is less money that can be contributed to your retirement. Not to mention, debt can also become so overwhelming that you can’t even enjoy retirement. Therefore, if you begin chipping away at those credit card bills, loans, and other forms of debt, you can then take that money and put it right back into your retirement savings account.

  1. Consider Investing in the Stock Market

There are plenty of options for investing in the stock market. Whether you’re looking for long term investment options or you’re interested in immediate returns from day trading, you can begin to build upon your portfolio and invest this money right back into your future. Not sure how to invest in the stock market? Trust me, I was a bit confused before I got started, but once I did a bit of research I realized how simplistic it can be.

Not to mention technology has led us to many resources and tools to make things easier. There are resourceful tools such as day trading software online, which makes it easier to manage your portfolio and decide on more informed decisions. There are also apps, beginner’s accounts, and other tutorials out there to help increase your knowledge of the stock market to make the best decisions on investing.

  1. Earn Extra Income

In times past, earning more money essentially meant you had to search for local companies hiring, fill out an application, and hopefully be hired for the job. Today however, you can create your own job and generate as much income as you’d like all on your own. There are plenty of ways you could earn some extra income. For instance, starting a blog, being an at home customer service rep, or even turning a hobby into a part time career. The skies are most certainly the limits in this case, and all that extra money can go towards either paying down your debts or right into your retirement savings account.

Dreaming of the future is something we should all be doing from the moment we begin generating income. By being more financially aware and planning for what lies ahead, we can have a better chance at living out our retirement years as we’d imagined. Sipping a Mai Tai, traveling the world, or even simply creating precious memories with those we love the most. If you haven’t started saving towards your retirement at this point, remember, it’s never too late the start. The sooner you do, the more secure your financial future will be.

 

Feb 242015
 

The following is a guest post.

If you have been injured in an accident and have filed a civil lawsuit, you might consider pre-settlement funding. People who have been injured in an accident often cannot work but still have living expenses. A pre-settlement company provides the victim of an accident with money prior to the resolution of a civil lawsuit. The median length of a civil lawsuit is nine months, which has remained constant in recent years, according to a Princeton University study. But many cases take longer, because insurance companies want to drag out the process. According to the study, on 1.8% of cases went to trial. That was down from 11% in 1962.

“Pre-settlement funding is beneficial to people who are injured, especially those who cannot work,” said Sara Murphy, administrator at Cash in Your Case, a pre-settlement funding company in New York.

Here are the answers to several questions you might have about using a pre-settlement funding company:

What types of pre-settlement funding are there?

In general, pre-settlement takes two different approaches. The first is a lawsuit loan. The other is pre-settlement financing. While they sound similar, they are very different. A loan lawsuit, like the name implies, is a loan. A company loans you a certain amount of money based on the expected outcome of a lawsuit. You are required to pay the money back. On the other hand, pre-settlement financing is an advance. You pay the money back once the lawsuit is resolved. If you lose the case, you’re not required to pay the money back. Both a lawsuit loan and pre-settlement financing will charge you interest for the money, so make sure you read the contract before signing.

How does the process work?

If you are considering pre-settlement funding, you start with an application. That means you provide the particulars of your case and a little about your background. You will also give the pre-settlement company your attorney’s name. The pre-settlement company will research the lawsuit and evaluate the potential for a financial resolution in the case. Based on that information, you will be presented with terms for pre-settlement funding. You must decide if you want to accept the terms. It’s usually best to talk with your attorney. He or she has a good understanding of your case and the chances of winning a significant sum in a lawsuit. The process can take as little as 24 to 48 hours.

What can I use the money for?

You’re allowed to use the money for anything. It’s your money. Most people will pay a mortgage or living expenses. Others pay off medical expenses or outstanding credit card bills.  You should talk with your family and decide the best avenue to spend the money.

Conclusion

There are several companies that offer either pre-settlement financing or lawsuit loans. Most have a websites. Some of the larger companies are reviewed and rated online. Also, ask questions.

Feb 102015
 


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 Posted by at 10:42 pm
Feb 092015
 

The following is a guest post by job search company, Trud.

Becoming A Financial Stakeholder in a Recovering Economy

You may not be feeling the sting of last decade’s financial meltdown anymore. At least not in full force. But there are plenty of places on the globe that haven’t recovered one iota. I’m talking mostly about cities. Municipalities are only as strong as their design, industry, and infrastructure. If one of these fails, you’ll see your best chunk of tax base fleeing for security elsewhere. This has been seen nowhere more clearly than in vulnerable American cities wherein, some neighborhoods have the conditions of third world countries. I’m speaking here of Detroit, Baltimore, Buffalo, and St. Louis.

Of course, not every part of each of these cities is dilapidated. But get too far off the main drag and you’ll find block after block of uninhabited houses, decaying. In a recent trip to Baltimore, I saw this first hand. In a truly surreal scene, I drove past probably 15 continuous rows of 3 story Victorian homes, all apparently empty. While homes like this can be had for as little as $5000 – $15,000 in some cases, repair and renovation is an enormous cost for any homeowner and investor. So many of Baltimore’s formerly wealthy districts now look like rotting palaces. But the same can not be said for many former slums.

Being a part of a recovering economy is also about providing jobs. In many locations around the world, it’s not as easy as going on Trud.co.uk to find employment. If the jobs aren’t there, and the people haven’t the experience and skills to get them, distressed communities can easily sink into further economic depression. A healthy economic structure within a city or a smaller community has rungs going up from unskilled working positions all the way up to semi-professional and professional positions. This is built right into the physical structure of many of these older cities. Main streets have 3 and 4 story homes, with 1 and 2 story homes on side streets and alleys beside them. When these were constructed it was with the intention that multiple economic levels of citizens would live on the same block. Restoring this economic character to municipal neighborhoods is inherent to the problem of making these cities new again. Jobs for all, at all levels of employment, is a key part of this process.

Because of their size and affordability, a new generation of homeowner have moved into some of the smallest rowhouses in the city. The same can be said of all the other cities mentioned above. Millennials with careers that never really began suddenly find that they can afford $10,000 for a home in these areas, and are developing bright new communities in disused spaces. This isn’t the same old gentrification. In many areas, like the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore, had roughly ½ occupancy. In a city with a population at 60% of it’s peak fifty years ago, any new and committed residents is a godsend.

Because situations like this are available around North America, it’s an opportunity for the young and the poor to invest in homeownership, something they may never have dreamed for themselves before. Home ownership is one of the most efficient forms of investment available for primary wealth building, but it has been out of reach for a certain subset of the population for a generation. Because interest and home taxes are tax deductible, and home prices grow on average 4-5% per annum (much more in many of these formerly blighted communities), many new homeowners will find themselves with a 25% return or more after just 5 years in their new home.

The added benefit of equity – monthly payments that get stored as wealth in the ownership of your home – makes this arrangement a no-brainer for many. Lots of these individuals have been able to open businesses in their communities, having become very active and committed to the shared life with their neighbors, as homeowners often do. It will be interesting to see how communities like these develop, but in the meantime it’s enough to know that it’s a tremendous investment opportunity for those without a lot of money, looking for a way to start amassing wealth.

 Posted by at 5:00 am