Oct 08

A Guest Post from Crystal –

The level of debt amongst ordinary American citizens suggests that few are really good at managing money. While no one is suggesting it is always easy there are a few pointers that might be able to help you whatever your age. The tendency for people to spend what they earn each month and sometimes more makes saving and investment alien to a whole section of the population. You should resist that and start to pay more attention to your circumstances, present financial position and the future.


Some increase their assets relying on real estate. It has been a good way to build up money though the recession was a period when values dropped, sometimes alarmingly. In the medium to long term real estate however should always be a good investment. There are other alternatives. The S&P 500 has shown average growth since 1871 of over 10%. A single dollar invested in 1871 would now be worth $2.25 million, well ahead of inflation don’t you think? The figure is even better over the last 40 years. Even if you have no financial expertise you can expect good growth if you invest, the earlier in your adult life the better.
If you had started with only $500 in your first year and put aside $250 each year for investment over the next 30 years, that $8000 at 8% would have grown to over $35,000! The amounts involved are easily affordable are they not? Compound interest produces considerable growth over a long period.
It is a message that more young people seem to be getting rather than turning exclusively to student loans and the credit cards they can first obtain at the age of 18. The picture is still poor however with two thirds of students still needing to borrow at least 25% of their education costs knowing that it can take up to 10 years to pay off the loan. Figures show that this year’s graduates with student debt owe on average $35,000.

Household Debt

NerdWallet tells us that the average US household owes $15,000 or so with interest paid on credit cards reaching a massive $90 billion. Frightening, isn’t it? The picture doesn’t look good, yet compound interest results in money growing quickly. The smallest amount set aside will grow. The secret is to get rid of debt so that you can start to set it aside.
The terms of a student loan are not onerous but the interest that is added to any balance on a credit card every month could be described as penal. Some students who have used their first card for normal daily living will be paying a high price. It is one that many US households seem to be paying as well.

Employment Critical

As the US Economy improves after the years of recession unemployment figures are encouraging. Job are being created month on month and unemployment levels are back down to the level when the economy was buoyant before the recession hit. Those people that have a regular pay check coming in each month can look for an escape from expensive debt in today’s online lenders network at realisticloans.com that look at personal loan applicants and approve loans based upon the concept of affordability rather than credit score.
The application is quick and simple. All you have to do is to decide to act to sort out your financial problems. If you don’t the chances of building up a fund as illustrated above are minimal. Online lenders deal with applicants in this completely online process within hours of the email being sent. They require employment and bank details from applicants. If the sum being sought can be justified by the figures the money will be transferred electronically very quickly. A loan that can completely remove credit card debt is good news. The caveat is that you do not build up a balance again; there may not be an escape route.

Whatever your age you must think about the future and not rely on the Social Security System as your ultimate savior. The sooner you address any financial difficulties you have the better. Retirement years should be ones of comfort not sacrifice. They can be if you are proactive and don’t simply think the future will look after itself.

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Jan 26

A guest post from Crystal –

Do you realize that much of our fun is purely dependent on our mental attitude at the time? I tend to be quite competitive at times. When I play sports, if I don’t check myself then I am often out there to win, not to merely have fun. And let’s be honest, I am not a professional athlete. I am not getting paid to play, so I may as well have some fun while I’m recreating! The same is true for gambling.

So often we can get caught up in gambling for a big jackpot return. For some, gambling is actually their retirement plan. Chances are, it’s not going to work out that way and it can make gambling incredibly unenjoyable. If you take your $20 to a casino and “put it all on red” and the ball lands on black, you may have just lost your hopes and dreams for that day. That can be an incredible let down! But, just like with sports activities, we need to learn to turn gambling into recreation, not as a necessity to win at life.

Budget For It

If I know that I am traveling for a vacation, and it will land me near a top notched casino, I will put an extra $50 into my budget for entertainment purposes. No doubt, this often turns into my casino money.

Just a tip for you (to keep it entertaining), when I leave my hotel and head out to the casino, I take only the amount of money that I have budgeted for myself that night. I know of a few people that divide their money in their wallet as “entertainment money” and “hands-off money”, but the fact is, if I am getting too involved in the gambling scene, it is just too easy to pull out that hands-off money. It’s best just to leave it at home (or in this case, in the hotel).

The purpose of the budget is to regulate yourself. If you did not put a definite number in your head before beginning to gamble, then chances are that you will spend more than you really wanted to in any given night.

Enjoy Yourself and Have Fun

There are many ways to gamble. You could wager some money at the craps table, at the track, or enjoy some sports gambling from your personal smart phone. Whatever is your choice in gambling, just remember to budget for this entertainment and have fun with your gambling.

written by Joe \\ tags:

Jan 04

A guest post on Structured Settlements, a topic I’ve not yet discussed – 

Structured settlements are basically a regular flow of compensation money that a person might be entitled to and receive after he wins a lawsuit, or after an accident or in any other forms of compensation. These bring in a steady flow of income monthly or annually over the lifetime of the benefactor with timely and guaranteed payments throughout life.

There are plenty of companies in the market right now that are interested in buying structured settlements. Especially after the fall of treasury bonds in the recent inflation, buying structured settlements is a very good investment option right now.

When can you consider selling your structured settlement?

Though such settlements provide a steady and regulated flow of income over a large span of time, sometimes there might raise circumstances where one is in immediate need of a large amount of money, instead of the smaller installments. In such cases a person might either consider taking out a loan. The other option available to him, provided he has a structured settlement to his account, is to sell it and get a lump sum of money instead of receiving controlled amounts in intervals.

Points to keep in mind while selling

  1. Discount Rates – Companies that buy structured settlements will keep a profit margin for themselves by asking for high discount rates. For example, suppose you have a settlement of total annuity of $ 100,000, with annual payments of $ 5,000 for next 20 years. If a company offers to buy it from you at a high discount rate of around 30%, then you would get paid $ 70,000, instead of the $ 88,000 that you would get if you went for a company that agrees to buy from you at a more reasonable discount rate of 12%. So it is very important to get quotes from multiple buyers before selling your annuity.

  2. Proper Legal Advice – The proceedings must take place under the supervision of a proper judge who will be able to assess the situation, while keeping in mind your financial status and your current need for the money. The selling has to be court approved. Also you need to get a good attorney to represent you, because otherwise, there are numerous fraudulent companies which might cheat you out of your settlement.

  3. Company Information – You must gather as much information as you can on the history and background of the company that you are considering and see whether it has ever gone bankrupt in the past. Also the payment should be made by its insurance company and not by the company itself, as in that way the company going bankrupt again will not affect your payment.

  4. Other factors – You should keep in mind that if the company is only providing you verbal offers and is being inflexible in its buying options, then in that case you need to forego that option. There should not be any situation where you feel coerced into making such a big decision like selling your structured settlement. Look around, judge the market and select the option that suits best your financial needs.

written by Joe \\ tags:

Nov 27

A Pre Black Friday Guest Post –

Black Friday and its adorable kid brother, Cyber Monday, are almost upon us. In just a few days, consumers across the country will be lining up to stampede into stores and grab the year’s best deals.

If you’re the kind of person who tracks prices, it’s hard to deny that Black Friday deals are often mathematically advantageous. If you’re eyeing that shiny new MacBook Pro with the retina display, for example, Best Buy is chopping off $200 to sell it at $1,099.99. This year, electronics are essentially $200 off across the board, from expensive MacBook laptops to less expensive household speakers. (If you’re curious about specific electronic deals, check out CNet’s guide to Black Friday shopping.)

Taking $200 off, say, a Samsung 32-inch 720p LED television sounds like a great deal, the type of discount that’ll keep money in your pocket as you prepare for the new year and its associated financial New Year’s Resolutions. However, before you buy, you have to consider the entire cost of the product you’re purchasing.

First: let’s just set aside this assumption that Black Friday gifts are intended for other people. You know as well as I do that the majority of those MacBooks, speakers, tablets and 32-inch 720p LED televisions are going straight into the homes of the people who purchased them. (The gifts you give to other people are more along the lines of socks and scented candles.) So before you buy that giant TV “for your wife,” take a few minutes to figure out exactly how much it’s going to cost you.

Here’s a good starting point: those tablets, MacBooks and televisions all require Internet. Even many home stereo systems are networked these days. How’s your internet provider doing? If you think saving $200 on a television is a great deal, try saving on your Internet and cable bill every month. Luckily, most Internet and cable providers have Black Friday specials too. Look for deals on Internet availability; these types of presents don’t fit as well under the tree, but if you have the choice between saving $200 on a television and saving $30 every month on the cable and Internet required to run it, it should become absolutely clear which is the smarter financial choice.

Then consider the accessories. How are you going to carry that MacBook around? Are you going to sign up for AppleCare — and if not, what are you going to do when your new laptop suffers natural wear and tear? (Although I am resolutely against most warranty programs, AppleCare is one of the few good ones out there, and a must-have for nearly all Mac users.) Even if Best Buy’s MacBook price is $1,099.99, you’re going to spend probably $1,500 total on accessories and insurance — and that’s before taxes.

Yes, $1,500 on Black Friday is still better than the original retail price of ~$1,700, and it becomes even more attractive if you’re able to slice a few dollars of your internet bill. However, the real point of this conversation is to get you to understand the true cost of what you’re buying. A laptop on sale isn’t just a laptop. You also have to buy the case, the warranty, the software package that lets you run basic programs, and the internet you need to keep the thing online.

If you’re shopping on a budget — and you should be — the number you factor into your budget needs to reflect the true cost of the product, not the featured sale price they run in the Black Friday ads. Otherwise, you’re going to overspend this holiday season.

In short: should you take advantage of this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales? Sure, why not — IF you’ve taken the time to figure out whether you can truly afford it. Happy holidays, and have fun shopping!

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Jul 02

A Guest Post from Ryan –

Being in college, the whole money-management and doing your own taxes thing can feel cumbersome. You may get the “final exam” feel while doing it, but the difference here is that this test involves money. However, with a bit of research and preparation from your end can make things easy and help you make the most out of this “test”. So how do you go about making this tax exam easier? Let’s find out:

#1: File

Don’t make much money? It still makes sense to file even if you don’t have to. Not having a lot money shouldn’t stop you from filing because if you have had cash withheld from past paychecks then you will see a refund coming your way. This might seem like a simple tip but it will work in your favor in the long run.

#2: Begin Early

Don’t worry if you haven’t got your W-2s yet. You’ll find the needed tax information (how much you earned and how much was withheld) with your final pay stub. If you feel like you need a helping hand then you may want to check with your college’s account department. There you should find students offering to help with taxes for free to gain practice in “real life” returns. Don’t wait too long for seeking on-campus help because the closer April 15th gets, the more difficult it is to find help.

#3: Take Your Time

It’s a good idea to give yourself a weekend to fill out your forms. Will it take that long? No, of course not. But the ample amount of time you have on weekend will give you the space to take breaks when and if needed and double or triple check everything before you mail your return. If you want to take a safer route, do your returns on a leisurely weekend, then seek outside help/ask any questions the following week and then finally send it the next weekend after checking your numbers one last time.

#4: Practice on Paper

If you choose to file taxes online, it is better to go through the paper forms, fill them out and get rid of any bugs before taking the final step. Your aim here is to ensure that the whole filing process goes smooth without any obvious mistakes that can be avoided with some practice. Remember, clarity is the key to getting things right the first time.

#5: Know About Your Family’s Financial Picture

Talking to your parents about money and finances is not easy for any college student. But then it’s important that you learn about their financial situation in order to plan who should be claiming as their dependent and using your education deduction or credit. Keep in mind that if your parents are taking care of fifty percent of your expenses, then you can be listed as a dependent on their taxes.

Every college student knows the importance of money, and so should you. But what’s more important than that is understanding how to manage your finances and get them in order so that you can study with peace of mind.

written by Joe