Category: Personal Finance

Building a Nest Egg for a Happy Retirement

happy financial retirementWhen you are young and care-free, planning for a silver-haired future might feel weird. It’s difficult to image how next week is going to go, never mind figuring out how you are going to support yourself when you no longer want to work.

However odd it might be, planning for the future while you are young will give you the best chance of a happy retirement. It may be unpleasant to imagine a day when you will need full time care or perhaps can’t make decisions for yourself, but thinking about it now will certainly help.

Start Young

As soon as you start earning, you should be thinking about how you are going to save up and build your retirement nest egg. By starting young, you are giving yourself plenty of time to build up your financial portfolio and save without really feeling the loss. The older you are when you start, the more aggressive your saving plan will have to be.

Set out your financial goals early on and work steadily toward achieving them over a long period of time. This method will help you to budget properly without sacrificing all the good things you enjoy like meals out with friends or holidays.

Invest Smart

In order to accumulate, you must speculate. This means making smart investments in things such as stocks and shares or alternative opportunities like antiques or gold. In fact, a gold-backed IRA is an excellent supplement to your portfolio as it reacts slightly differently to the rest of the market. This is an advantage because it will help to smooth out any risks as the market naturally fluctuates.

If you aren’t too confident about what you should and shouldn’t be investing in, or how to balance risks, you must see an independent financial advisor before you part with any cash. They will be able to create a personalized financial plan for you and offer good advice to ensure you can save enough for your future.

Save, Save, Save!

If you have a budget, and stick to it as best you can, then saving a portion of your income each month should be fairly easy. In fact, if you get the balance right, you probably won’t even notice it’s happening.

Some of the best advice for building your nest egg is to put any windfalls into savings rather than splurge on things you don’t need. Find other ways to treat yourself without completely blowing your budget out of the water. This isn’t to say that you can’t treat yourself every now and again, but just to make sure that you adjust your budget accordingly.

With a sensible portfolio, your retirement plan should be easy to manage and your nest egg will gradually build up over the years. Try to keep this fund separate from your other savings to prevent you from being tempted to dip in for some extra cash. Keep a rainy day fund as well as a contingency fund and your nest egg will be safe for the future.

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The Golden Rules of Taking Out a Loan

loan timeIf the world was perfect for everyone, no one would ever need to borrow any money. Unfortunately, things just don’t work like that yet – and as long as we have a banking system, it’s unlikely to change. The reality is that we have to borrow money to lead the lives we want. However, there are limits, and many people are guilty of stepping over the mark.

The truth is there are good debts and bad debts, as you probably already know. And even if you are in good enough shape to take out the former, after a few missed payments or a challenging life event, it can quickly turn into the latter.

When it comes to personal loans, the temptation is strong enough to turn heads of even people with the strongest financial constitutions. Advertising is everywhere, and almost all speak to your aspirations and the life you could have – if only you would borrow a few thousand dollars or more.

To make sure you don’t fall into a trap, there are a few things you need to consider when taking out a loan. These golden rules should be set in stone, as when you step outside of them, it’s often the first step down a slippery slope to unaffordable, bad debts. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

Always shop around

It doesn’t matter whether you are borrowing money to buy a car, a home, or just pay for something quickly with cash loans, always shop around and look for the best deal possible. You should compare percentage rates for interest, but also check the length of the loan. Sometimes, cheaper interest rates over a longer time period will result in a higher overall cost.

Always check your credit score.

Another thing to consider before applying for a loan is your credit rating. When you make an application and get turned down, your credit score takes a hit. Not only that, however, but when you are attracted by a fantastic looking deal that you see in an advertisement, you have to remember that these deals are only offered to consumers with the best credit scores. If your rating is anything less than perfect, you won’t be offered it, and instead, have to put up with a much more expensive deal than you applied for in the first place. A lot of people fall for this, so ensure your credit rating is up to scratch before you apply.

Always read the small print.

The terms and conditions on loans are notoriously detailed, and the vast majority of borrowers never pay them a blind bit of notice. It’s no surprise – who has time to read the reams of paper that often come with your application form? However, you should make time. Banks and lenders of all varieties depend on your ignorance and lack of time, and will often include some pretty dire conditions that you need to meet to qualify for any of the supposed advantages. Another thing to watch out for is early repayment charges – you should always include them in the overall cost of the loan when you do your initial sums. Ideally, all loans would be free to pay off whenever you want, but the reality is somewhat different.

Consider insurance

Loan insurance gets a bad rep, because of a lot of malpractice in the past. However, it’s a valuable protection if you can find the right deal. For a few dollars a month you can protect yourself in the event you suffer an injury at work or get ill and can’t earn any money to pay the loan back. Again, shop around – there are varying rates from all kinds of lenders and insurance companies, and you will often find it is more expensive to buy insurance from the company offering the loan.

Compare with a credit card.

Another major misconception is that personal loans always have better deals than credit cards. To be fair, this used to be the case, back in the day when credit cards were only for the very wealthy, but times have changed. When you consider the long 0% deals you get on credit cards – some of which go for around 18 months at the moment – they often compare very favorably to a personal loan at, say, 6%. And if you can pay off the card before those 18 months are complete, it won’t actually cost you a penny.

Pro tip: borrow more money

As a rule, you should never borrow more than you can pay back. However, when you consider that banks and lenders will offer lower interest rates for higher loans, wouldn’t it make sense to get the better deal? In short, of course, it would, but you have to have a lot of self-discipline. You could borrow a larger amount of money, only spend what you need, and then pay it back over time using a combination of your personal repayments and the surplus. Over the course of a 4-5 year loan, this could actually save you a four-figure sum, so it’s well worth investigating – if you have the discipline, of course.

Be careful with secured loans.

Secured loans will always give you a fantastic sounding deal. But there is a reason – it’s because you have capital at stake. When a loan is secured against your possessions, lenders tend to sleep easily, content in the knowledge that if you fail to pay, they get your house, car, or treasured objects. Yes, the deals can be tempting. But unless you are 100% sure that you will be able to pay them back. Unsecured loans may attract higher interest charges, but ultimately if you have a problem paying them, there is little a lender can actually do.

Always stake the shortest path.

Finally, whenever you take out a loan, the cheapest option will always be to pay it back as quick as possible. It’s down to your personal circumstances, of course, but if your idea of the perfect loan is that it ends up costing you less, it’s the only way to go.

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Making Your Retirement Fund Last

retirement timeNo matter how big or small your retirement fund is, it is always going to be in your interest to make it stretch further and last as long as possible. Retirement, when you’re finally free from responsibilities, can be great fun, but only if you have enough money to actually enjoy yourself, even if that just means enjoying the simple things in life without having to worry about how you’re going to pay the power bill.

To ensure that your retirement is the best it can be, here are some tips to help you save cash and make your fund go further:

Create a Retirement Plan

Obviously (or at least it should be obvious), sitting down with a financial planner and actually looking at your finances so that you can come up with a realistic retirement plan, is the most essential thing you can do to make your retirement fund last.

A good financial planner will always tell you the brutal truth about your finances and help you to maximize the money available to you through wise investments and a realistic budget, As long as you stick to the plan you create, you should not, barring any serious financial calamities, have to worry unduly about your retirement fund.

Liquidate Your Assets

When you finally get to retirement age, chances are that you will have accumulated a lot of stuff and although many of the things you have you will use regularly or get a lot of enjoyment out of, chances are there’s a lot of stuff you no longer get anything out of too. It’s foolish to hold onto this stuff when you could sell it and liquidate that cash, add to your retirement fund and keep yourself going for longer.

Downsize

In a similar vein, if you own your own property, you might want to think about downsizing and releasing some of the equity in your home. Moving to a smaller place or even an independent living community could three up several thousands which you can then use to pay the bills, have fun during your retirement, or even invest in stocks and shares that will actually give you a return, rather than sit doing next to nothing like the equity in your home does.

Look After Your Health

If you want to avoid expensive medical bills in the future as you age, then the best thing you can do now that will prolong you5r retirement fund in the future, is to take good care of your health. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and take any preventative measures you can to cut your chances of getting seriously ill and you won’t have to worry half as much about your retirement fund and how fast it’s dwindling!

Review Your Bills

No matter whether you’re retired or not, one of the best ways to make your money go further is by using price comparison sites to ensure that you are always getting the best deals on everything from electricity to your cell phone bill. You might not think it would, but reviewing how much you’re paying and whether you’re paying over the odds every six months or so will really make a huge difference to your financial situation and how far your retirement fund will stretch.

Living on a retirement fund isn’t always easy, but if you’re sensible and you do all of the above, it shouldn’t be too difficult either!

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Saving Up For Christmas

christmas moneyChristmas is only a couple of months away, and many people are already way into their Christmas shopping. But the real task is budgeting for your perfect Christmas as well as making sure you enjoy the festive season as much as possible.

Work Out What You Can Afford

Before you start planning all of your decorations, food and gifts for everyone you know, first take the time to sit down and look at what you can realistically afford. Think about it this way- Christmas is only one day a year. You don’t want to splash out on 24 hours and regret it for the next year. Be smart and think about how much expendable income you have saved for the festive season.

Stop Buying Unnecessary Presents

Sure, Christmas is a time for puzzle games and silly gifts; but if you are trying to save up and stay smart with your finances, it’s not really a great idea to buy 10 whoopee cushions for your friends. Stick to presents you know your loved ones will love.

Or, if you really hate the idea of not being able to be a bit fun- give yourself and your friends a small budget to stick to for silly presents. Maybe even arrange a secret santa

$100+ in time for Xmas

Yes, that’s right. You can bag yourself some extra cash for the festive season by simply switching bank accounts. Make the switch and get yourself a nice little bonus to go towards your festivities.

Supermarket Saving Stamps

Supermarket saving stamps schemes are used to help families save up for Christmas throughout the year to cut the bow at the end. However, if you are smart about it you could get an extra 4% bonus on your savings in time for Christmas. If you add in a large amount to the card at once, the supermarket will give you a bonus. So pay in, get your extra cash and spend on all of your winter essentials.

Christmas IOU generator

As many of you will know, during December the price of even the simplest item can sky rocket. However, in contrast the prices drop in January. So if you are trying to save up for something big such as a TV or Games Console, just wait for it. Yes, it might mean that the kids are opening an empty box (or a cheaper gift in the meantime) on Christmas Day, but it will save you a huge amount of money in the long run.

Black Friday

When you think of Black Friday, you may have visions of riots in the street and carnage at the supermarket…you wouldn’t be wrong. But you don’t have to step out into no man’s land this November to bag yourself a bargain. Instead, shop online. Sites such as Amazon run week-long events for Black Friday and chop the prices of products by anything up to 80-90%. If you are waiting for a game or DVD release, hold out for Black Friday because the likelihood is that a deal will come on for it.

Sell Your Old Stuff

Out with the old, in with the new. And money goes straight into your pocket ready for the festive season. We get a lot of things around Christmas, and often it can be difficult to move in a sea of gifts for the week afterwards. Get onto GumTree and sell some of your old things to make room for the new stuff, it’ll also mean a nice financial bonus for the festive season.

Home Or Away?

Although staying at home is the obvious choice for most of us, you don’t have to spend Christmas in your house using up all of your own electricity and water. Why not club together as a whole family and rent a lovely cottage or apartment from a site such as Meriton? It will be exciting for the whole family and means that you all club together for a great holiday and amazing memories.

Avoid Expensive Turkey

Now, of course turkey is the star of the show for your Christmas Dinner, but to be honest, you don’t need to splash out for the most expensive brand to get a good quality bird. Try swapping out your usual choice for a lower brand option, you probably won’t even notice the difference!

And there is another option… you could eat a different meat.

‘That’s sacrilege!’ you say- but it is well known that stores will hike up the price of turkey through the winter months because they know people are willing to pay for it. But actually, not everyone likes turkey, and a great alternative would be a beautiful joint of roast beef.

Consider the Risk of Gift Cards

You might think that getting someone you don’t know very well a gift card is much better than buying them a gift that they won’t like, and that can be the case. However, sometimes there can be a few risks with opting for a gift card over money.

• Big Retailers can go under. It’s happened before, and it could happen again. When a retailer declares bankruptcy, they will stop accepting gift cards as payment.

• Expiry Dates – always check that there is a good amount of time for the recipient to use the card.

Kids Don’t Care

If you have children, you’ll know that you could buy them the most expensive and elaborate toy for Christmas and they will still play with the box. Children don’t care how much you’ve spent on decorations, how many presents they have in front of them or whether you’ve bought a budget turkey. For kids, it’s the magic of Christmas and the thought of Santa visiting which makes it special.

So save up your cash for a rainy day and keep it simple. Put out a cookie and a carrot for Santa and his reindeer, read them a bedtime story and sleep safe in the knowledge that you can have a perfect family Christmas without spending all of your savings.

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There’s a Difference Between Good and Bad Debt

money debtsMost people contribute the word debt to something negative. If you’re in debt, it’s usually because you’re bad at managing your money and you’ve somehow ended up in the negative. You probably had to resort to loans to pay for something important, and that set you on a slippery slope that has plunged you into debt.

At least, that’s the stigma against people who take out loans and say they’re in debt.

Fortunately, it’s not as bleak as it sounds. There is such a thing as good debt despite what many people say. Before you start borrowing money, it’s a good idea to understand the concepts of good and bad debt because it could change your entire opinion on loans. In fact, you could go as far to say that being in debt is actually a positive thing if used correctly. But before you go apply for a personal loan and get yourself in trouble for misunderstanding this idea, here is some advice.

What is Good Debt?

Good debts can be characterised by good and productive uses of the money. For instance, if your car breaks down and you need to fix it so you can ferry your kids to school, then it can be considered a long-term investment for your future. Another example is taking out a loan in order to start a business. These are positive uses for your money because they serve as investments, which is the general idea that your borrowing should follow.

Thanks to sources like cashloans.co, it’s possible to look up all the different types of loans you can take out so you can fit the interest rates and terms to your needs. As long as you’re able to pay it back in a reasonable amount of time (or even make earlier repayments) there’s almost no reason not to take out a loan as long as it’s put towards something useful that can help you. Other good examples of good debt are student loans, mortgages and paying for child services.

What is Bad Debt?

Bad debt covers anything that is used to pay for your personal enjoyment and luxury. A week-long holiday to China paid with a personal loan? Bad debt. Purchasing a luxury new television that you didn’t really need? Yet another example of bad debt. Borrowing money to pay back other loans? That’s probably the worst thing you could do.

Bad debt is characterised by bad decisions. If you struggle to pay all of your bills at the end of the month, then you might be living a lifestyle that you really can’t afford. Perhaps you’re subscribed to too many entertainment services or maybe you eat out far too much. Good financial management will eliminate all sources of bad debt, but you need to be self-aware that you’re overspending.

If you’re still unsure if your reasons for getting a loan is good or bad, then this article from nasdaq.com has a couple of examples that you could follow. In short, make sure you take out a loan for a good reason, not a personal one for your own enjoyment.

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