Essay on Personal Finance Planning

Essay on Personal Finance Planning

It is odd at times to think of all the lessons that are not taught in schools. Essentially these can be considered life skills that are fundamental to the well-being of an adult but for some weird reason they are omitted from classrooms. None can be truer than the lessons which surround the management of one’s own money. Personal financial planning (PFP) is the act of systemizing a person’s resources towards the achievement of a financial goal. This exercise alone is enough to set a person down a path in their life towards a happier, more fulfilled and reassured future, but the funny thing is that educators believe that it is a lesson that they are supposed to magically unearth themselves.

While there are many different approaches to PFPs the most common would be in the most literal sense of the word. You are literally planning the way you utilize the resources at your disposal. It is good to keep in mind that this is a planning exercise and when planning for anything it is best to do so with a goal or end point in mind. To simply state “Happiness” or “Comfort” as your way of defining the term financial success is, at worst, confusing and is nebulous at best. Being granular and as detailed as possible in the definition of your end goal is critical to the development of a clear, actionable and achievable personal financial plan. At this point, some may argue that the pursuit of wealth or riches is a good enough reason, but in order to get a better and more concise goal you would have to define what it is you would want to spend that money on and what having that money would mean to you. This step quantifies goal and attaches a dollar value to the goal. Meaning that a proper plan can now be developed to reach that specific dollar amount, which is a heck of a lot easier than to quantify a single word or emotional state.

Neither can it be summarized in a single act, say – save money or don’t spend so much. Personal financial planning accounts for the entire financial spectrum. It is not just about cash and maintaining a budget. It also includes tax management, credit card and debt management, risk assessment and management, investment portfolios, retirement and estate planning. Its aim is to ensure the financial security and success in the long-term. And, that’s really the key term in all this, long-term. Personal financial planning does not ensure, neither was it meant to be, a quick fix. Sound money management is a marathon, not a sprint and adopting that mindset is key to the successful execution of a financial plan.

It is difficult to paint in broad strokes when talking about personal financial planning. This is because each financial plan must be customized not only to reflect an individual’s financial values but on their personal values as well. Everyone on this planet operates with different values. In some cases, these differences are so small they can be considered nuances, and in others, it is so large that it can be classified as a chasm. But the reality is that people place different values on different aspects of their lives. What one person can easily compromise on may be almost unthinkable to another person. These personal values, while not easily quantifiable must be taken into account. Not only can some of them directly affect a person’s net worth, but in most cases, they play an even larger role in the adoption and maintenance of that individual’s own personal financial plan.

Knowing where every dollar is coming from (revenue streams) and where they are being spent on (items of expenditure) are, needless to say, paramount to financial success. Take a page from large corporations or even small business, which know (more or less) exactly which avenues of income bring in the most money and where it is being hemorrhaged. In this respect, it is considered best practice to use balance sheets. These are usually gridded sheets, reminiscent of old-school accounting books in which credits (money coming in) is noted on the side of the page while debits (money coming out) is noted on the other half. This is particularly effective for getting an overview and a handle on, cash and day-to-day transactions. It a deceptively simple and is very easy to adopt what with all the apps and tools available today. However, a balance sheet, generally speaking, does not take into account extraneous financial data like investments. For that, a more comprehensive tool and approach is required.

Personal financial planning is meant to equip a person with the data they need to make sound financial decisions. It gives the individual, for lack of a better word, a plan to make the right decisions that will lead to the achievement of their financial goals.

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Vacationing on a Dime: Camping With the Family

Americans are known for being avid road trippers. We’re eager to load up the car, pack a few travel games and head out to take in the wonders of our natural surroundings.

Investing in a family vacation isn’t just about seeing the sights. Family travel is an important investment in each other, our physical health and our mental well-being. Unfortunately, many families forgo family vacations because they think it’s simply too expensive. That’s one reason why road trips are so popular – you can save a lot of money compared to other types of travel.

As long as you prepare well in advance, you can find ways to make a family road trip a reality this year. One cost-effective option is a camping trip. There are hundreds of state parks around the country to stay and play, so you don’t have to travel very far to find a destination.

Below are five reasons why camping is a fantastic option no matter how small your family vacation budget is this year. (Plus, find a few money-saving tips before your next camping trip!)

You’ll Save Money on Lodging

By far the most expensive part of the vacation outside of transportation is lodging. Even if you have a monthly RV loan, camping can still be a much more affordable way to vacation than staying in a hotel or motel. Plus, you’ll be investing in an asset instead of spending hundreds of dollars on hotels you’ll never see again.

Many parks charge fairly nominal entry and campsite fees if they charge at all. For example, in California camping rates for a hook-up RV site in the high season range from $25 to $75 a night, and the pricier locations are often beachfront. Try to get a beachfront hotel room during the summer season for less than $75 – it just isn’t possible.

This brings up a great money-saving point. Whenever possible plan your camping trip in the low season and your vacation will be remarkably cheap. There are also fee-free days throughout the year including President’s Day weekend, National Park Week in April and Veterans’ Day.

You Won’t Have to Dine Out Every Meal

During a camping trip, you’ll have everything you need to make breakfast, lunch and dinner at your site whether you are cooking in an RV or out on the grill. Dining out every meal is one of the biggest costs of a family vacation. Camping gives you control over the costs so that it isn’t much more than a normal week at home.

You’ll Be in Spots With Free Entertainment

Camping is about enjoying the great outdoors, which is completely free after you pay the park entry. You and the family can take daily hikes down different trails, relax in the shade with a good book and take a watercraft out on a nearby lake or river. All these activities provide a full day of fun without the expensive admission you’ll have to pay at theme parks.

Look for campgrounds that offer ample activities for everyone in the family. Some activity options to consider include sports courts, guided tours, on-site museums, information centers, bird watching and fishing.

You Probably Already Have Most of What You Need

One thing that makes people shy away from camping is the thought that it requires a lot of gear. If you don’t have an RV, you will have to get a tent, but even those can be found on Craigslist and eBay for a relatively low price.

Beyond the sleeping quarters, there’s a good chance you already have just about everything you need for a camping trip. Instead of buying a sleeping bag use your comforters and sheets. That ice chest that hasn’t gotten used since the neighbor’s backyard BBQ a year ago can finally see the light of day again. If you don’t already have battery-operated lanterns, they are a good investment in case of an emergency when you’re not on vacation.

Again, taking the time to prep beforehand can help make a camping trip super affordable compared to other family vacations.

It Brings the Family Closer Together…Priceless

Because there are so many state parks to choose from, you don’t have to travel far to spend time together as a family. A camping trip that’s an hour from home feels just the same as one 500 miles away, and it costs a lot less in fuel. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is just to relax and enjoy one another’s company.

A camping trip is ideal because everyone works together to set up the campsite and make meals. If you travel by RV, the entire family can stretch out while you’re on the road, so even the trek to the campground is an enjoyable experience. It’s also a vacation that encourages everyone to put down the electronic devices and unplug.

No matter how much you spend on a camping trip the memories you make with your family will be priceless.

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Is Making Money with Rideshare as Easy as They Say?

Hailed as the newfangled way to reach your financial goals in your spare time, ridesharing is marketed as being accessible and cost effective for virtually anyone with an automobile. Are these claims true? While the “anybody can be a cab driver” mantra of ridesharing is fairly accurate, and no one is doubting the potential to generate income by driving strangers around town, the expenses and hassles of ridesharing are rarely brought to the surface. Knowing these factors is important for deciding whether rideshare is right for you.

Let’s go over the “hidden” side of rideshare, piece by piece:

The Vehicle

Is your vehicle clean? Free from major dents, scrapes, and abrasions? Does the interior lack odor? If so, the car may still not be viable for rideshare. As it turns out, most companies want drivers to own vehicles of a certain age or younger. Typically, the range falls within ten years of the current year, so for example, any car made in 2006 or newer will likely be accepted, meanwhile anything built in 2005 or older will be rejected.

The Insurance

Rideshare companies aren’t particularly interested in the type of insurance you have, so long as the vehicle is insured. However, this doesn’t mean things are right as rain from the perspective of the insurer. Most insurance companies have restrictions on coverage when moneymaking ventures are achieved via automobile, such as ridesharing. Browse car insurance online to quickly find out which companies offer more than the simple liability/full coverage option. Otherwise, ridesharing may lead to a policy being canceled, leaving the driver responsible for any damage or injuries occurred by bad driving while ridesharing.

The Wear and Tear

The more a vehicle get used, the sooner repairs will be needed to keep it operational. This extends from the tires all the way to the steering wheel. Considering the typical rideshare driver is likely to put 50 to 100 miles on their car in a single “shift”, it’s easy to see how there is a hidden cost to making money with your own car. It’s imperative for rideshare drivers to put aside a set amount of earnings for inevitable car repairs. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when.”

The Taxes

Most men and women are used to getting a W-2 at the end of the year. From that point, all they have to do is plug a few numbers into tax software and getting caught up with Uncle Sam is done. Such is not the case with doing rideshare. Drivers are considered independent contractors and therefore are responsible for divvying up earnings for state and federal taxes on their own. In short, this means a hefty tax burden on those unprepared at the end of the year. The flip side is that drivers are able to write off numerous expenses, including rideshare mileage. The current rate per Uncle Sam is about 57 cents a mile.

The Extras

Rideshare companies recommend drivers have an array of accommodations for passengers. These include phone chargers, bottles of water, tissue paper, and so forth. It adds up to a decent chunk of change by the end of the year. Luckily, drivers can write off these purchases when it comes to tax time.

The Motivation

Finally, aspiring rideshare drivers have to realize the money is always there – they just have to be motivated to go out and get it. When you’re your own boss, as rideshare companies like to describe being a driver, there is an abundance of personal freedom. The flipside of that coin is that drivers have to will themselves to work, rather than be scheduled for specific shifts. It takes a certain amount of motivation to turn the app on in your spare time and accept fares, especially after already clocking in eight or more hours at a day job.

Ridesharing offers millions of car owners with the chance to make money by doing little else besides driving their car from point A to point B. It sounds too good to be true. In fact, rideshare does lead to earned income, but the road to net gains is easier said than done. Potential rideshare drivers, therefore, must weigh the costs of the job before proceeding. Otherwise, the potholes may not be worth the effort.

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Clever Ideas for Saving Money and Leading a Healthy Lifestyle

Saving money is something that anyone can do, but sometimes you need new ideas to get you motivated. If you have debt that you want to pay off, or you are saving up for a major expense, such as purchasing a house, you may need to look for aggressive ways to cut back on your spending.

Often, the spending habits that people have are directly related to instant gratification or habits that are unhealthy. Foods, snacks, and other items that feel good at the time of consumption may not only be bad for your health but are detrimental to your budget as well.

There are many ways to cut corners and shave off a nickel or a dime here and there, but this article will give you some tips to reduce spending on habits which you would be better off without. For a look at how to get yourself and your bank account in better shape, read on.

Cancel the Cable and Dish

It is surprising how much money people pay every month to watch television. It is also surprising how much time people spend sitting on their bottoms while focusing on their favorite programs. By canceling your television service provider, you can save hundreds of dollars every year. Likewise, by spending your time being productive around the house, exercising, or helping a friend, you can achieve greater balance in your life. You may find that after a year without television, your mind is more active, your body is more fit, and your overall level of happiness is higher.

That’s not to say that you can never watch your favorite shows again. Nowadays, virtually every series is available on DVD or as streaming video online. Treating yourself to two hours per week of programming without advertising is a great way to stay current with popular culture, while still saving money.

Make Your Own Fast Food

Money spent at fast food restaurants may seem like peanuts at the time of purchase, but over the course of a month or year, it adds up to a lot. Factor in the unhealthy calories that are consumed, and you are getting a really bad deal.

The nice thing about fast food, though, is the convenience of it. If you need food in a hurry, try making your own ahead of time. Breakfast sandwiches can be prepared in the evening and reheated in the morning. Several days’ worth of salads can be tossed together in meal-sized portions, with cooked meat and dressings added later.

Curb the Coffee Habit

As the most-frequently-consumed hot beverage in America, coffee is viewed as a necessity for many adults. It can be tough to get your brain going without a jolt of caffeine once or twice per day, but there’s no reason it has to be expensive. By brewing your own cup at home in the morning, you can save a significant amount of money each week. In addition to caffeine, fancy coffee drinks, such as lattes and macchiatos, pack a lot of calories into each cup. Try cutting back on your daily consumption to save money and feel better, too.

Grow Your Own Food

Food that is grown or produced at home is the freshest, tastiest, and healthiest food available. By delegating a corner of your yard or patio to a garden, you can cut back on the amount of money you spend on groceries each week. Gardening is also an excellent way to get some free exercise and fresh air. If you live in a neighborhood that allows chickens, ducks, and small goats, consider adding these to your backyard as well, for fresh eggs and milk.

Cooking with fresh ingredients is so much fun you may find yourself wanting to share the experience with your loved ones. One of the top financial advisers in the USA, Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch list this as a simple way to easily cut expenses while eating better.

Stop Smoking

It goes without saying that tobacco products are very, very bad for your body. It’s also true that they are an expensive habit. Spending money on tobacco takes away from money that can be spent on healthy food, fun times with the family, and bills that need to be paid. By quitting now, you can start enjoying life again.

Finding ways to cut back on your spending while forming healthier habits can be good fiscally as well as physically. By committing to a savings plan today, you and your family can have a healthier and wealthier tomorrow.

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5 Ways To Make Money Writing

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The 21st century has been characterized by the world progress, development of information technology, new opportunities, incredibly fast growth of ideas and people ready to accept all these challenges. The progress is not the same in different countries. For example, compare some countries in Africa with America or Europe. Some of the casual items that The Americans use every day in their life, African citizen can only dream about. But speaking about the developed countries, there are lots of opportunities to make money without the tiring work in a company and traveling to its office every morning. Online money making offers you a lot of possible ways while using only your mind and computer.

One of the offered ways is writing. It is not the road for everyone, not all people can sit down, collect all their thoughts and write a masterpiece. Some people consider it to be an exciting interesting creative work, but others feel it is an incredible torture for them. So if you truly feel you are one of those enthusiasts who enjoys the writing process, there is a hurricane of ideas and thoughts which you want to share with a plenty of people, then you can try yourself as a writer. Plus, the most interesting part – it will probably bring you money.

Writing for blogs

Different blogs are often searching for unique posts that can be written by you, they always need a new information on diverse topics. It can be your national blogs or if you are lucky to know the foreign language you have a chance to become a foreign freelancer. Often such overseas companies are paying much more than domestic ones. The idea to make money with a help of essay writing company is worthy your attention. Consider that when writing for someone you will receive the tasks and your fantasy will be limited by the shell of the subject, of course, you will have some freedom but it will never be unbounded.

Starting your own blog

In this case, the freedom of writing is broader, you can choose the topics whatever fits you. You can do it in a while after you have already gained an experience in writing for blogs, or you can directly start your online career with your own blog. Moreover, a good idea is to combine these two ways. Notice, that if you’re aimed to become a top-notch writer reading a lot of information from other articles, blogs, and topics to keep in touch with the latest news is a must. The more readers you have, the more money you receive for example from companies, which place the advertising banners at your blog.

Your opinion is important

I have no doubt that every person has passed a certain survey at the school or in the university, maybe he was once picked up on the streets by the statistical organization. Such questionnaires always help the business to understand what they are doing right, what actions people expect them to do in future or what people would change. Customer’s feedback is one of the biggest driving forces that can change the direction. So why can’t we answer their questions for money?

Marriage agencies

Sometimes you can meet the vacancy of a translator, which is posted by the marriage agency. What does it mean? For example, there is a girl in Australia and a boy in Germany, they are not yet acquainted but the girl wants to marry a foreigner because of some reasons. Here comes a marriage agency that is ready to help her with her problem for a fee. The girl doesn’t know German so the company begins to search for a person who knows the language and can correspond the strangers on behalf of this girl on social networks.

Social media life of the company

Social media is a vitally important part of advertising and marketing today. Often big business owners are looking for skilled writers, who will advertise the product of the company through websites, blogs, social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others. If we speak about a huge conglomerate, there can be a whole department which is responsible for products’ promotion and you can become a part of it if you meet all the requirements. Speaking about a small company it often outsources such work to freelancers, maybe it fits your demands.

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Is a Rental Property a Good Pension Investment?

Pensions are not what they once were. There is no such thing as a final salary pension these days and most jobs are not for life. You could rely on the state to pay you a pension on retirement, but unless you enjoy living in straitened circumstances, this is probably not a good idea. Instead, you should look to supplementing your pension with extra contributions, or look at other ways to generate a retirement income. So is property investment the way forward?

Financing Property Investment

Property is almost always a good investment. However, it does depend on how you finance your apartment investing and those without sufficient cash in the bank will need to look at other finance options from companies such as Crawford Park Financial.

Paying cash is preferable, as you won’t be hit with interest charges. Investing in foreclosure properties can net you some bargains, but there may be problems to fix before it is suitable for renting to a tenant. If you don’t have sufficient money, look at finance options, but remember that mortgages are harder to come by these days, as lending criteria are a lot stricter.

Capital or Income

Investing in rental property can help your retirement in two different ways. On the one hand, you have the benefit of enjoying capital growth on your original investment, since property rarely depreciates in value (although you do need to invest in the right area to maximize your gains). On the other, you will benefit from a regular income generated by tenants living in the property.

Rental income will be tempered by various costs, including management fees if you employ an agent to manage your property, taxes, and everyday property running costs, including insurance and repair bills.

Budget for Repairs

Property ownership is often expensive. Small repairs can soon snowball and unless you are handy, you will need to pay contractors to come in and fix any issues that arise. Rental properties are subject to more wear and tear than an owner occupied property, so make sure you budget for the extra repairs and periodic upgrade of fixtures and fittings.

Reaching Retirement

Once you have reached retirement age, managing a portfolio of rental properties is a great way to stay occupied. With no day job taking up your time, you are free to manage tenants, take care of minor repairs, and redecorate as and when required.

Liquidating Your Assets

There may come a time when you no longer want the hassle of managing rental properties. You may also decide to release the equity you have tied up in the properties. Any money you have left over after paying fees and settling any outstanding finance arrangements is yours to do with as you please. Invest the cash in a separate investment scheme or blow it on an extended vacation around Europe. Investing in property is better than leaving your money sitting in a savings account, but do take financial advice before you invest in rental property in lieu of a pension plan.

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Financial Conversations to Have with Your Fiancé

In the weeks and months leading up to your nuptials, your head will probably be spinning with wedding planning and daydreaming about that honeymoon. Amidst the chaos and excitement, however, you and your fiancé should sit down and have a serious conversation about family financial planning. It may sound boring and even a bit awkward, but full financial disclosure before tying the knot is one of the keys to a happy marriage. Transparency and openness about your current financial situation is a must, and it is also paramount that you sit down and make sure you are both on the same page with financial values and goals.

Work on Developing Mutual Goals

It is up to each couple how independent their individual finances will be. Some couples retain their separate accounts and credit cards, which they manage with their respective earnings. Other couples feel more comfortable lumping all of their income into one account from which both can withdraw. Regardless of how you plan on navigating your expenses, a pre-wedding conversation will help prevent tension down the road. This is also a good time to let your soon-to-be spouse know of any student loans or credit card debt you may have, so you can set realistic goals for the future.

Thinking About Insurance

You likely already have automobile and property insurance, but life insurance is also an essential part of starting a family. Sit down with your fiancé and discuss the best options for your life insurance plan. Many employers offer comprehensive insurance packages as part of their incentives, or you may find that you want to work with an agent outside that network. It’s easy to find a San Antonio insurance agent to discuss your policy needs and expectations. As soon as you are ready to make the commitment of marriage, you should set in place an insurance plan to cover your bases in the event of tragedy.

Family Planning

One of the most important conversations you can have with your fiancé is about family planning. It’s imperative that you are clear with each other regarding whether or not you want children, how many children you think is appropriate and when you think the family expansion should begin. Aside from the immediate and obvious costs of having children, there is also the issue of planning for their education, which can be a daunting task. There are many ways to save for the next generation’s schooling, some of which can be far more conducive to growth than others. You may want to consider opening up a 529 plan or even a Roth IRA rather than depending on a savings account.

No matter how you approach it, the time leading up to your wedding will be hectic and wonderful, and will call on you to make decisions you probably never considered before. Do not put off the financial conversations with your future spouse due to lack of time or because you have too much on your plate. Family financial planning and insurance coverage are far more important in the grand scheme of things than whether the centerpieces perfectly match the bridesmaids’ dresses. Be proactive in your planning and lay the foundation for a long and healthy marriage before you even begin.

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Six Useful Things to Look for When You Read Your Credit Report

Many people who obtain a free credit report wonder how they can use their credit reports to manage their credit wisely. This is understandable because credit reports contain detailed information about your credit history that savvy consumers use to manage their credit wisely.

Here are six useful things that I like to look for when I read my free credit report that can help you learn how to manage your credit wisely:

Information About My New Credit Accounts

Most free credit reports provide information about new accounts that you have opened during the last 12 months. Some of the details that I like to look for while reading this information includes:

  • The name and location of my new creditors.
  • Information about my initial credit limit.
  • The date when my new credit accounts were opened.
  • The type of credit account that was opened.
  • The number of new accounts that were opened since the last time I checked my credit report.

I like to use this information to prevent problems with identity fraud that make obtaining new sources of credit difficult.

Information About My Available Credit

Credit reports offer detailed information about my available credit that is updated at least once a month by credit reporting agencies. I like to use this information to determine how much I can afford to spend on cars, homes and other big-ticket items.

Information About How Much I Owe to My Creditors

Credit reports also offer details about how much I owe to my creditors that are easy to analyze. I use this information frequently to analyze the following items that are used by credit reporting agencies to determine my credit score:

  • The total amount of debt that I owe to my creditors.
  • The ratio of my debts to my total credit available.
  • The ratio of my debts to my total income.

I also like to use this information to calculate how much I have to pay each month in order to keep my accounts current. You should consider making this calculation because it can help you create a sensible budget for your family that is easy to use.

Information About Closed Accounts

Credit reporting agencies provide details about accounts that have been closed by consumers or lenders during the last seven years. I like to look for this information on my credit report because it helps me confirm when I closed accounts that I no longer use.

Information About Delinquent Accounts

Most creditors and collection agencies report details about delinquent accounts that is updated every month on your credit report . Some of the delinquent accounts that are listed on credit reports include:

  • Unpaid credit card bills.
  • Unpaid medical bills.
  • Delinquent student loans.
  • Overdue personal loan payments.
  • Accounts that have been sent to collection agencies for processing and collection.
  • Overdue payments for judgments obtained by creditors in court.

I like to search for these accounts on my credit report because it helps me prevent reporting errors and missed payments that could have a negative impact on my credit score for up to seven years.

Information About the Number of Inquiries Made by Creditors

The easiest way to find this information is to look for a section on your credit report that lists who made an inquiry on your credit report during the last year. I like to keep track of this information because it helps me determine the best time to apply for new lines of credit.

As you may have noticed, free credit reports offer useful information that can help you build and manage your credit wisely. Finding and using this information is easy because your creditors list and update it on your credit report every month.

Using this information to manage your credit wisely is easy if you develop an organized approach that can help you use the information about your credit report wisely. Therefore, feel free to use the suggestions mentioned here to develop an organized way to use your credit report to manage your credit wisely.

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Debt Reduction Perils and Pitfalls

Follow the Path to Lower Credit Card Debt is a fun infographic highlighting some of the most common “perils and pitfalls” faced by those trying to get out of credit card debt. It also offers a “survival kit” of helpful hints that consumers can use to lower their monthly credit card bills and increase their savings.

debt helper infographic

Getting out of card debt isn’t easy, but if you know how to avoid the “perils and pitfalls” of credit card debt, you can live a debt free life, and get back on the path toward a better financial future. Provided by DebtHelper.com.

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5 Rules for Retail Home Traders to Trade

The sheer number of diversification opportunities in Forex trading is attracting many retail home traders to dive in this highly liquid and expansive trading market. The average per day volume of foreign exchange trading is $5.3 trillion a day, with banks, governments, corporations, and private investment funds as its active partners. The ease of electronically managing your trade transactions has also contributed to the growth of home retail traders. However, still many traders lack the awareness of trading safely. Here are 5 rules to make your Forex trade safe:

Limit Your Trading Volume

Forex trading can be addictive, and despite losing money at times, people are still adamant on trading more. However, if you are new to it, chances are you must assign some time to experiential learning, which means you must keep your Forex trading volume limited in the beginning. It mustn’t be more than a few percentage points of your portfolio in order to limit the damage.

Research Well

Research should be a part of your trading practice, serving well to help limit the damage. Many retail brokerages provide data and historical trading records which are used to spot trends and pattern, helping you become a smart Forex trader. It is important to follow the news as well as understand the forces at play affecting the Forex exchange market. Any economic or political incidents or news, for instance, is typically reflected fast in the currency’s exchange rate, so find a good resource to stay up-to-date with the shifting environment.

Set Limits

Both as a new Forex trader and otherwise, you can be smart about your trading by setting up a “stop-loss” order. This automatically exits a position after a price reaches a certain level, thus minimizing or limiting loss. Similarly, traders can also set up “take profit” levels, which prevents losing on profits in case the currency changes direction abruptly.

Diversify

Forex trading, however lucrative it seems, isn’t easy to dive and come out on top, and as it goes with any other trading avenue, you must diversify your Forex trading as well. This means trading multiple currencies or using different strategies that bear fruit under different market conditions. You may also invest different amounts in manual and automated trading programs to even out your win-loss.

Be Careful How You Size Your Bet

Overtrading is a risk that most new traders should be wary of. Never trade a position that is large compared to your account. In fact, experts suggest that you must only put 5-10% of your account balance in one trade. Lack of planning can often result in overtrading, and as a serious trader, you must plan, strategize, and forecast using technical analysis before beginning to trade.

ETX Capital provides a safe and secure platform to retail home Forex traders and resources to help them get started. As long as you have the passion for Forex trading, you can learn to trade safely and minimize your losses.

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Back to School Savings in September

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Back to school shopping is traditionally a big event, but more families are saying, “Meh,” to it. According to a Deloitte study, 38 percent of K-12 parents say they don’t care so much about back-to-school shopping because they get what they need throughout the year. And 31 percent would rather wait until after school starts to shop. That’s a smart move in my book. Here’s why.

The Teacher Will Tell You What Your Kids Need

This is especially true for Kindergarten students… you can run out and buy every possible school supply your child might need only to find out the teacher just wants them to have crayons and pencils. Teachers will tell your students what they need for class, so wait for that list before buying things you don’t need.

Classroom Donations

It’s also worth noting that teachers may have a request for classroom donations. If you wait until school starts, you can see what supplies the classroom needs and possibly contribute some items. If you go before this, you’ll have to make a second trip to participate in that.

Pounce on Clearance in Mid-September

Prices for school supplies start coming down in mid-September. By the end of September, retailers are clearing the shelves to make room for Halloween costumes and candy, selling school supplies at a deep discount, sometimes as much as 90 percent off. Make do with what you have from last year and only buy what you can’t live without in mid-September. Take another trip at the end of September for the “nice to have” items. It’s also a good time to grab items you’re likely to need next year to put away in storage.
Avoid the Crowd

Let’s face it; shopping with a crowd isn’t much fun. If you can wait to buy what you need, you save yourself a lot of stress… and lots of cash!

 

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Is Citi Price Rewind Worth the Effort?

Is Citi Price Rewind Worth the Effort?

Wouldn’t it be nice to know you’re always getting the best price? What if you could just go out and buy the things you need without worrying about price? Citi Price Rewind attempts to make that a reality. But does it work?

Here’s what you need to know about this service offered to Citi Card holders.

How Citi Price Rewind Works

Citi Card members can enroll their purchases in the Citi Price Rewind program and gain price protection for 60 days. To get the protection, however, you must keep your sales receipt and enter the information into the Citi website. Citi says they cannot simply search your purchase history because they are private. This makes the price rewind a huge hassle. But let’s not discount it just yet.

Citi keeps a database of products and you can search for the item you purchased. If you find the item, you select it and enter the details of the purchase. Once you submit the purchase, Citi tracks prices. If they find a lower price within 60 days of the purchase, they send an email confirmation and you submit the claim. Okay, it looks like less of a hassle – especially if you only want price protection on the infrequent, expensive purchases.

Is It Worth the Effort?

The claim process is just about as labor intensive as shopping around for the best deal. Even after submitting the purchase details the first time, you have to submit them again, plus send in a photocopy of the sales receipt before you can get a refund for the price difference. And you must submit the claim within 180 days of the purchase. Refunds are limited to $300 per item and $1,200 per year. Whew – that’s a lot to know.

The New York Times’ Ann Carrns tried the program and wasn’t very impressed. In her case, the Citi website could not find her purchase in its database, so it could not track the price. A call to customer service told her to check back again to see if the item was added at a later date or to track the item herself and submit a claim if she found a better price. So, it wasn’t much help in her case. Other sources point out that the database is enormous, with more than 30,000 search results for an iPad alone.

According to Carrns, Citi told her that about 25 percent of purchases over $100 are eligible for refunds and 38 percent of purchases over $1,000 are eligible, with an average refund of $80. The program applies to consumer goods such as appliances, TVs, clothing and luggage. The program does not cover purchases of consumable goods (like gasoline – although that would be awesome), jewelry (except watches), motor vehicles, collectibles or event tickets. The program will not offer price protection if the lower price you found was on an auction site or part of a clearance promotion.

The Simplest Strategy

In the end, it might be smarter to shop around before you make any major purchases, and then just keep an eye out for a sale that makes a price rewind claim worth the effort. Remember to hang on to those receipts, just in case.

 

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Reasons to Use Costco Checks

Reasons to Use Costco Checks

Most people don’t realize they can get cheap checks by using a check printing service outside of the bank. Costco checks are known for being affordable and easy to order. They save you money while giving you more design options that you’ll find at most banks. For those who aren’t Costco members, other check printing services may be a better choice. Costco membership costs at least $55. Follow these tips to save the most on your next order of checks.

Bank Checks Are Pricey

We must first realize that the prices banks charge can vary widely. Anecdotal reports online suggest pricing in the range of $25 – $35 for a box of checks. Because most people use checks sparingly these days, and the bank won’t deliver them any faster than another service, it makes more sense to buy in small amounts for the cheapest price you can find.

Costco Options

It’s unusual to get a larger selection for less money, but that’s just what you get with Costco checks. Among major check printing services like those through Wal-Mart and Promise Checks, Costco offers the best pricing on the checks themselves and provide free shipping. But you have to be a Costco member to reap the benefits. That drives the price up for non-members enough to make buying checks elsewhere a little cheaper. Either way, your bank is the most expensive option.

Other Places to Buy Checks

If you don’t have a Costco membership, other options are available. Wal-Mart is an excellent choice if you need your checks fast, because they offer the cheapest expediting services. But if you just want cheap, bare-bones checks that get the job done, and you can wait two weeks, consider SuperValueChecks.com, where you can get a box of checks delivered for roughly $7.

Other affordable check printing services include PureChecks.com, VistaPrint.com, 123CheapChecks.com and CarouselChecks.com. Check out these services to find the best combination of speed and value the next time you need checks.

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How to Use the Chase Freedom Calendar

How to Use the Chase Freedom Calendar

The Chase Freedom card offers users a revolving calendar, allowing users to earn cash back on different shopping categories throughout the year. The calendar changes categories every three months on this no-annual-fee cash back credit card. The card stands out for its generous $100 sign-on bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months of carrying the card. You also earn five times the cash-back… if you know how to use the card to its fullest potential.

Basic Cash Back Benefits

The Chase Freedom® Card gives users one percent back on purchases throughout the year, and two percent back on Airlines and Hotels through the Ultimate Rewards program that is provided on the company’s entire line of personal credit cards. Cash back comes in the form of points, where each point is valued at one cent. You need at least 2,000 points to redeem cash back.

That means spending at least $400 on bonus categories or $2,000 on non-bonus categories before you can cash in. There is no annual fee, somewhat of a rarity on cash-back credit cards, but the real cash back comes when you take advantage of the Chase Freedom® Calendar. Happily, these points never expire, so you have all the time you need to accumulate enough to cash in.

The Rotating Calendar Bonus

Every year, Chase publishes a different rewards calendar, usually in December of the prior year. Once you know the type of purchases that will earn the higher cash-back rate of five percent, you can plan your purchases around it. Understand that these rewards are limited to $1,500 of purchases per quarter (or $75 cash back). You still earn one percent on purchases that don’t fall under a bonus category, on top of your bonus rewards. It’s important to remember that you have to activate your rewards each quarter to earn five times the cash back under the bonus categories.

In 2015, the Chase Freedom® Calendar looked like this:

Jan 1 – Mar 31 Grocery Stores, Movie Theaters, Starbucks
Apr 1 – Jun 30 Restaurants, Bed Bath & Beyond, H&M, Overstock.com
Jul 1 – Sep 30 Gas Stations, Kohl’s
Oct 1 – Dec 31 Amazon.com and more

More Tips for Maximizing Rewards

Because the Ultimate Rewards program is included with other Chase cards, you can combine rewards points to reach your cash-back status more quickly. And because you get 15 months interest free to pay for the purchases you make, you gain more flexibility in your budget.

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Verizon FiOS Promotion Codes Don’t Exist – Here’s How to Get the Best Deals

Verizon FIOS Promotion Codes Don’t Exist – Here’s How to Get the Best Deals

Verizon is always offering some sort of deal on FiOS service, but you don’t need promotion codes to get them. You can save on bundles or get introductory rates if you’re new to FiOS. Sites like Retailmenot.com and Coupons.com can help you find specials and deals, but they are often out of date or only available in select areas. If you want to get the best deal, follow this advice instead.

Know What They’re Offering

Verizon offers bundled services that save you money called Double Play and Triple Play. The Double Play consists of telephone and internet only. The triple play includes television as well. In addition to these regular offerings, Verizon puts out special offers designed to attract new business that can save you more money on top of the bundle deal.

It’s also important to understand the different television packages and internet speeds offered, to be sure the package you select will fit your needs. Several other options, such as Internet only or Internet plus local channels are also available, sometimes with a premium channel as well. Choose your bundle and then you’re ready to move forward knowing you got the best deal.

Go Online and Save

Ordering online automatically saves you installation and activation fees. But, if you order FiOS by phone, you’ll be charged $50 for installation and $79.99 for activation. In most cases, it’s very easy to have the $50 fee waived, but some complain that Verizon promises to waive the activation fee with no intention of following through with a credit to your account.

The best way to avoid these fees is to order online, but what if you have your own router and want to save on router rental fees? First, you must be certain your router is compatible with FiOS connections. If not, you can choose to purchase a router from Verizon to avoid the monthly fees, but this only pays off if you intend to stay where you’re living for at least two years or so.

Avoiding Router Rental Fees

Because Verizon’s website does not offer an option for those who already own a compatible router, you need to call a representative, which could then stick you with those installation and activation fees. But there is a way to avoid them.

Begin your order online, but before submitting your order, click the button to save it instead, which will bring up a “FastPass” option to complete the order. Select this option and write down the order number and phone number the website gives you.

Call the phone number and give the FastPass number. A representative will finalize the order and you’ll keep the online discounts while gaining the ability to use the router you already own. The difference is that you initiated the order online, rather than a phone representative entering the order for you. Following these steps ensures you get the services you want without overpaying.

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HMO vs PPO and Why the Difference Matters

HMO vs PPO and Why the Difference Matters

Choosing between a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) is not always an easy decision. One may save you money but limit your options or add inconvenient steps to getting health care for you or your family. Understand these important differences before you choose.

HMO vs PPO

An HMO is essentially a group of doctors who charge a reduced rate to the health insurance company. The insurance company may use other cost reducing tactics in addition to this negotiated rate, such as requiring referrals to a specialist or limiting you to a certain number of covered tests each year. In exchange for these limitations, you gain cheaper health care. You might pay lower deductibles, copays, premiums or all three.

An easy way to remember how a PPO is different is to remember the extra “P” stands for Preferred. In a PPO, the focus is on the medical provider that you prefer, rather than one chosen by the health insurance company. In a PPO, it becomes easier to see your doctor of choice, even when the doctor is outside of the network. You don’t need a referral to see a specialist, which saves you a visit to your primary care doctor when you know that a specialist is needed.

Health Care Insurance Costs

Obviously, these differences cost the insurance company more. The extra cost is passed on to you and other members of the PPO in the form of higher deductibles, copays and premiums. You might also end up losing some of the protections offered in the insurance for your maximum annual out of pocket expense because visits to out of network providers usually do not count towards that total.

Research shows that for Medicare patients, a PPO can cost twice as much as an HMO, depending on the plan. But for workers, PPOs are inexplicably cheaper. You simply will not know which one is cheaper until you get a premium quote and review the out of pocket expenses associated with the plan.

Blurring Lines

HMOs have become increasingly unpopular because of the inconveniences of getting referrals and limitations on certain tests and procedures. To compete with PPOs, more HMOs are easing restrictions on out of network providers. So when you investigate your options, don’t automatically assume the HMO will be too inflexible. Compare services and costs on a case-by-case basis before you decide.

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Toys R Us Rewards Rules

Toys R Us Rewards Rules

Toys R Us has a rewards program for frequent shoppers. It’s popular with parents, collectors and collectible resellers. Those who use the program can tell you that it has many pitfalls that can lead to disappointment. Know the rules of Rewards R Us if you want to get all the rewards you are due.

How Toys R Us Rewards Work

The Toys R Us rewards program offers $5 in ‘R’ Us Rewards for every 125 points earned through purchases. You can also earn extra rewards by using an ‘R’ Us Credit Card, which gives you double the rewards (two for every $1 spent) and other discounts. You also earn one point for every dollar you spend elsewhere that accepts MasterCard. The card also gives you 10 percent off Toys R Us purchases on Thursdays. The program is free, and Toys R Us describes it as “easy,” but certain caveats in the program belie that description.

Caveats

Now for all the exceptions to the program rules… and there are many. First, when you redeem rewards, you can only use the redemption certificate on one item if buying online. You must use a redemption certificate within 30 days of issuing it. This means you must use the rewards website to issue a separate certificate for each item you purchase. If your certificate is valued higher than the item you redeem with it, you lose the overage. This caveat does not apply in-store.

Second, the 10 percent offered with the Toys R Us credit card is only good for in-store and in-stock purchases. So collectors and resellers may find themselves out of luck when trying to cash in on this discount. In addition, the 10 percent discount doesn’t apply to diapers and formula, video game hardware, Apple items, netbooks, tablets, gift cards, protection plans, special orders or fees.

How Discounts Apply with Reward Certificates

When using a reward certificate, coupons and discounts only apply after the certificate has been applied. That devalues percent-off deals, but preserves the value of discounts such as $5 off. Using certificates online is also tricky because you can use a reward to buy an item that goes out of stock after you put the order through. If that happens, you lose the entire reward certificate.

So, Toys R Us rewards can offer you significant savings, but using them online is hit or miss. The best way to redeem rewards is in-store.

 

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7 Inventive Ways to Save on Back to School Shopping

7 Ways to Save on Back to School Shopping

It’s that time of year again! The kids are exchanging their baseball bats for number 2 pencils. College students are setting up their dorm rooms. With these transitions comes added costs. Everyone needs the proper gear for getting started for a new school year. This post will explain the 7 ways to save on back to school shopping.

1. Sell Last Year’s Items

Alternatively, do you have any supplies from last year you can sell? It can generate revenue for this upcoming year. Consider parlaying the cash just like serial entrepreneurs do when they sell a business. They often move it into the next. This is easily done for textbooks, electronics, and fashionable clothing.

2. Understand There’s Some Wiggle Room in the School Supply List Sent by Teachers

My cousin went shopping for her 3 children last week. It took her 3 stores before she found an orange notebook. In reality, the teacher would probably have been fine with an orange sheet of paper glued to the front of any old notebook. Or even just writing ‘orange’ on the front (as long as the child could read it). Supply lists usually have wiggle room. It’s probably not worth spending an hour in the car just to track down a 50 cent notebook.

3. Weather out the Storm

During my first year of college, I did everything by the book (pun). Meaning, I got all the books my professors told me to get. I got them ahead of time. I got the exact editions they told me I had to get. I found out this was a mistake.

Plenty of teachers/professors over ask when it comes to supplies. Much of what you are asked to buy may end up being a waste. For instance, most textbooks remain the same for years and years. They only make slight revisions and call them a new edition. I was an ‘A’ student in college and buying books a few editions old never held me back one bit. Older editions are usually about 50% cheaper!

My advice is to wait a few weeks before making the major purchases. See if all the supplies are really needed. This also means you may have a better selection. Most stuff gets pretty picked over before school starts – offline or online. Wait until you really need the stuff. This works especially well if you have Amazon Prime. Hooray for 2-day shipping!

4. Use Tech When Possible

When I was in elementary, everyone used to praise me for my excellent penmanship. Today, I couldn’t care less about my handwriting. Technology is taking over and that will continue. This means students should get familiar with technology. This will also save on the cost of notebooks, pens, pencils, backpacks (because they won’t tear from the weight of books inside), etc. Use tech especially if the school provides it. If you must buy the tech, of course that’s more expensive than pencils and notebooks. But it’s more useful to the student as well.

5. Buy Used

A good rule of thumb is to always consider the used market before the new market. What can you buy used? Almost anything. Check eBay and Craigslist. Also check with friends. They may have a perfect set of tennis shoes for your son. When I was in college, I saved a lot by getting textbooks from the upperclassman. They usually sold them to me for about the price of a large pizza.

6. Use Last Year’s Supplies

What you first want to do before buying ANYTHING is to look over your entire house. Check last year’s backpacks, closets, the home office, storage containers, etc. Kids rarely finish school with exactly the right amount of paper, pencils, and notebooks. There will be leftovers. What supplies do you already have on hand? It’s important to know how much stuff you currently have before assuming you need to buy anything. You may have enough leftovers from last year to keep you going for at least a few months.

7. Tax Holiday’s!

It’s fantastic if you are able to plan ahead and shop during a back to school tax holiday! See this complete list of tax holiday’s by state. Act quickly because they typically only last one weekend!

Final Word

Back to school season is stressful enough without getting worried about money. Use these 7 back to school savings tips and you’re sure to save money. Comment below if you know of more ways to save.

Good luck this year!

 

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Women’s Equality Day – Earning, Saving, and Investing Challenges for Women

Women’s Equality Day - Earning, Saving, and Investing Challenges for Women

Money and success – just how far have women come?

Women’s Equality Day is celebrated every August 26th. Starting in 1971, it’s meant to observe the certification of the 19th Amendment, passed on August 26, 1920. The Amendment gave women the right to vote. It’s a great day to celebrate the great strides made in women’s rights since the passage of the law.

Wages

Then: Low Wages – Prior to women’s right to vote, women made a quarter to a third of the wages a man made for the same job. Without health benefits or time off, some women gave birth on the floors of the factories where they worked. Of course, men had few benefits too, but with vastly different health concerns, the need for time off was more pressing for women of childbearing age.

Now: Closer to Equal – The Equal Pay Act of 1963 helped women fight for better pay, but women still do not earn the same wages as men. According to the Pew Research Center, women (including those working both full and part time) earn 84 percent of men’s wages for the same work. Young women have it better than old. Young women earning 93 percent of men’s earnings. The fact that women must take breaks from their careers to bear children is a fact of the natural world that likely influences the wage gap. In addition, women are far more likely than men to take extended time off to care for a child or family member. These reasons explain much of the pay gap.

Work

Then: No Right to Work – Before the right to vote, discrimination against women in the workplace was rampant. Women were expected to marry, stay home, and raise children. Although many women went to work during wartime to support the national effort, they were quickly displaced back to their homes as veterans returned from the war.

Now: More Women Working – Today, women don’t just have a choice between working and staying home to raise the children, they are often expected to work and raise children. They are also more likely to be the breadwinner of the family more than at any other time in history.

Wealth

Then: Few Women Held Independent Wealth – One area where the right to vote did not helped women is the ability to build wealth. In 1920, women could own property and had the right to keep their own wages, but most women gained wealth only by marrying.

Now: A Gap Persists – The wealth gap between single men and women remains high. Although the workforce is 47 percent female, the wealth of single women accounts for only six percent of the wealth of single men. As a result, women often marry for economic security, only to find themselves financially dependent on their husbands. This makes it harder for women to leave poor marriages. In addition, women fare much worse after divorce than men do, even though assets are supposed to be divided equally.

Success?

Although women have come far and fare much better than they did when they did in 1920, there are still worrisome obstacles to equality. It is hoped that the youngest generation of women, now earning nearly as much as men, will find ways to overcome the gender wealth gap.

 

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