In Sickness and In Wealth

Less than 5% of Americans have at least $3000 in savings and no debt. It is no wonder that most consumers struggle with saving money or grasping the concept of building wealth. We are mentally flogged with television and radio commercials, newspaper and magazine ads, billboards, signs, posters and even conversations. Whatever the method, it all serves one main purpose – to take your money and make it theirs.

Contributor: Tom Justice

For Starters
When asked to name an effective way of obtaining wealth, a common answer is: “Invest”. What is the problem with this answer? Well, the majority of respondents have very little or no money in their savings account. I see the beginning of wealth building in a different light. A saying that almost everyone knows but nearly no one applies is: “A penny saved is a penny earned”. In today’s culture it is definitely much easier to spend money than it is to save it. The average American is exposed to 247 advertisements in one day! Less than 5% of Americans have at least $3000 in savings and no debt. It is no wonder that most consumers struggle with saving money or grasping the concept of building wealth. We are mentally flogged with television and radio commercials, newspaper and magazine ads, billboards, signs, posters and even conversations. Whatever the method, it all serves one main purpose – to take your money and make it theirs.

Unveiling the Mystery
So with all those statistics and all that advertising, how in the world is it possible to build wealth? Well consider yourself ahead of the game already. By reading this article you are opening your mind to ideas and concepts which could help you to begin the process which is more than can be said for most people out there. A house starts with a single brick and the same is true with wealth building. You have to start with what you can and keep adding to it.

Why not jump in to stocks, mutual funds or other investments right off the bat? Life will continue to happen whether you plan for it or not. So plan for it. You must start with a lump sum of money in your savings account which has been referred to as an “emergency savings”. A good figure for this is $1,000. You MUST pay your savings first, before anything else. If you do not, your savings will not grow (or it may not happen at all). This extra money will act as a soft landing for any financial falls that can and will occur while you pay down other debts that are road blocking your way to building wealth. You must realize though; this money is first priority but can not be touched – ONLY for emergencies. By following these 2 steps:1) Stocking up your savings with $1,000 and then
2) Eliminating extra debts (with great fervor), you will prepare yourself for a much easier road to building wealth.Making it Happen
You have to take action now or this whole savings thing will not happen. First, get a savings account. If you have one, find out what the interest rate is. Many have something like 0.25% to 1% (WHOOPEE!). Remember that you are not trying to make all your money in interest right now but since the money is going to sit you may as well look around. It is possible to land up to a 3-5% interest rate. Another option is a money market account to get a good rate although restrictions sometimes apply for things like early withdrawal fees and keeping a minimum amount in the account at all times. Secondly, as I stated earlier, take your savings off the top on payday. You have to make a painful change as well though. You may have to sacrifice some things to get that initial $1,000. This could mean no eating out or temporarily cutting out an expensive hobby. You also might want to try changing your phone company or downgrading your cable package. I hate this next idea but it is for a good cause: Drop your credit card payments below the minimum (JUST FOR NOW). Anyway, you get the idea. Cut some here – cut some there. Now, take all the figures you cut and add them together.  This is what you will put in to your savings account until you reach $1,000. See, when the average person feels like they are getting ahead or even staying even, a setback occurs and sends everything spiraling downward. This is the hard part of building wealth and it is just the beginning (the first brick). However, without this extra money in savings you will tread water until you eventually drown, so stop thinking about it and start acting on it today.

Author Bio
Tom Justice is the webmaster for Clean Credit Online and does all the designing, marketing, SEO and maintenance for the site. He has a passion for personal finance and how the economy and consumers are affected by money.

Source

How to Pay Off Your Student Loans Before You Graduate

Contributor: Thomas Jay Daniels

Here are the HARD facts that most college graduates will be facing after school.

Not having a job or not having the job that they want, because the days of graduating from school and staying with the same company are dead and over.

“Most college graduates will have up to 3 careers or more in their lifetime”.

Well, at least that is what the economists out there are projecting.

With that being the case.

I would recommend you to start your entrepreneur career while in school.

You can start an online business or side business right out of your dormitory room and work on it around your class schedule and then turn that business into a cash cow for YOU.

Which you can then use to pay off your student loan.

I mean, you would think this would be a no-brainer for most college students but you would be thinking wrong.

Most of them are too busy using these 4 years away from home to party like crazy and follow the crowd!!

The other thing is you can use this experience to get the job that you want before you graduate.

Okay, now let’s get into a few business models.

These are just the outlines for each one.

You will have to adopt, adapt and expand on the one that you choose, and make sure that you do some research and model your business after other great businesses that are in your market.

Don’t try to re-invent the wheel.

Learn from other businesses’ mistakes and test out ideas that you think may work for your own sales funnel.

The business models are.

1). Reverse e-commerce.

This is when you set up a site or use eBay and list items that you think may sales.

First step.

You take quality pictures and list the item.

If and when they sell, you then go back and buy the item and ship it to the buyer.

This is a great way to do business because you don’t need any inventory.

This will give you the freedom to test out the market in your niche and see what is selling.

2). eBook business model.

This is when you write up a pdf and format it into an eBook with graphics.

Keep in mind though, you don’t need to create anything if you don’t want to.

Of course.

If you have a passion for an idea, try to create an eBook around that passion.

And if not.

You could just interview an expert and then turn that interview into not only into an eBook, but also an actual book and an audio product.

So, you could end up with a home study course or a membership site and earn monthly passive income from it.

Those are just 2 business model you can use and start from your very own dormitory room.

The great thing about both of these business model ideas is that you don’t need that much money to get started.

Now, can you see how this could and should work?

I would like to stress to you guys… really think about using this idea to pay off your student loan and at the same time build a successful online business!

College students can get the free online e-course right here- http://www.justforcollegestudents.com

What is your plan to be debt free right after college?

Editor’s Note: For a more traditional approach to starting your own business, try reading books like these:


5 Steps to Personal (Financial) Happiness and Balance

We often start planning financial goals using our total monthly or annual pay, which is actually our total salary. But, its income after federal withholding, Social Security taxes, 401-K contributions, flex-spending accounts and other deductions that will be the money we use to meet goals.

Contributor: JG Chambers

I like writing about personal finance, because the best hours in the day and best years in our lives we earn money. Lately, I have reflected upon the finiteness of money. It’s not without bounds and certainly is not limitless.

Money is subject to the limitations of space, time and circumstances. These are the reasons that every person should manage money as earnestly as they manage other areas in their personal lives.

Set Goals

List the things you want to carry out over the short and long-term. Think about what it will take to reach your goals. Be reasonable and don’t go overboard!

You’ve go a lot of time to realize your dreams, but you need a lifelong plan to make it happen.

  • Short term goals are one year goals. Things like pay off credit card(s), save for a vacation, pay cash for a big-ticket item.
  • Long term goals run beyond a year and are “never lose sight of” goals. Pay cash for new car, retirement plan, children’s college, pay-off home early.

Get to Know Your Net Income

We often start planning financial goals using our total monthly or annual pay, which is actually our total salary. But, its income after federal withholding, Social Security taxes, 401-K contributions, flex-spending accounts and other deductions that will be the money we use to meet goals.

Final take-home pay is not only what we actually live on day-by-day, but also the amount we really have to make our dreams come true.

Track Spending

Short Haul

Keep a list of everything you spend for 7 days. Take no shortcuts, carry a small notepad, and track every item you buy, small or large. If you really want to get off to a great start, track 14 days.

I know this is a pain, but trust me, it is well worth the pay back down the road.

Long Haul

Get out your check register, or even better go online to your checking account. Use highlighters to color code expenses, forming similarly related groups over a 2 month period.

Match this against your 7-14 notepad history. The reason for the match is that during a year we can burn through large amounts of cash a few dollars at a time buying small impulse and habitual items. It’s easier to catch these purchases in the notepad record than in our checking account.

Make Your Personal Plan

I recommend using two spending categories to start:

  • True Expenses: Recurring must pay items such as savings, groceries, rent/mortgage, insurances, car payment, school loan, utilities, cable, etc. These are items that you absolutely pay without fail.

*Tip – stick savings into the True Expense class and make it a lifelong fee paying yourself first each month.

  • Variable Expenses: Expenses that vary month by month such as fuel for car, dining out, entertainment, etc. These have the most flexibility, and some are stopped short-term or stopped altogether.

*Tip – Cash spent in True Expenses may vary within certain items, just as Variable Expenses cash definitely fluctuate each month. It’s less important to hold cash spent in categories to preset amounts, and more important to track where your money is going so that you can get the most out of net income.

  • As your plan develops over time, add other categories if needed. A word of caution is the more detailed the plan the more difficult to become a long-term habit.

The best family money managers I know use three categories: Needs, Wants, and Savings.

Monthly Tracking

Personalize your method for monitoring your plan. People use self-designed spreadsheets, online sources such as Mint.com, and canned software products like Quicken. Do it your preferred way!

The most effective family money manager I know uses a legal pad to track money flow.The real importance is to track your net income in a way that is the easiest, most meaningful way for you.

Summary

Some people will read this and think “another budgeting method.” Maybe it is but maybe it isn’t. I’ve rethought our use of money, setting personal goals, and family decision-making. Really, it’s not the process or method we follow.

  • It’s the understanding that income, specifically net income, is finite.
  • It’s a set value (cash) and runs for a set amount of time (years).
  • Make the most of it.

I have been an active investor for over 35 years. My lifelong interest in personal finance has led to teaching community classes to a variety of groups. Retirement activities include travel and serving as a volunteer site coordinator with the VITA Tax Program.

My investment experience is in Equities, REITS, Oil & Gas Royalties, Utilities, and Varied Fixed Income.

Source

Understanding and Fixing Property Tax Assessments

Before any year’s tax assessment becomes “final,” it is sent to each homeowner to review. Each homeowner has an opportunity to dispute the assessment.

Contributor: Brian Blum

Imagine, if you will, Tinyville, a community of only ten houses. All ten houses were the same size and style, built at the same time on similarly-sized lots, using similar architectural drawings and building materials, each with comparable views and amenities, and each sold to its initial owner for the same price, $250,000. Assuming the fair market value of each of these houses was $250,000, (because after a reasonable amount of time that’s the price at which the sellers and buyers had meetings of the minds, neither being under duress,) Tinyville’s tax assessor valued each property at $250,000, resulting in an underlying total property value of $2.5M for all of Tinyville.

Like any municipality, Tinyville has expenses: police & fire departments, schools & libraries, water & sewer, sanitation workers, judges & clerks, engineers & inspectors, tax assessors & collectors, officials, and secretaries. To keep the math simple, let’s imagine that Tinyville’s annual budget is a mere $100,000, and that it has no other sources of revenue (such as parking meters, local sales or income taxes, or hunting/fishing permits). In order to meet its annual expenses, Tinyville’s tax assessor divides its $100,000 of budgeted expenses (known as a total tax levy) by each property’s proportionate share of the $2.5M total assessed value of the community. Dividing $250,000 by $2.5M means that each house is responsible for 10% of Tinyville’s property tax levy. Each homeowner (or their mortgage bank) gets a tax bill for $10,000.

For years, everyone is happy in Tinyville. The families each have kids in Tinyville’s schools, they march in Tinyville’s parades, and compete in Tinyville’s pie-eating contests. In the natural course of events, two of the original families were more prosperous than others and moved into better digs in Mediumville, one retired to Southville, one got transferred to his company’s office in Westville, and one died in a tragic car accident, but their heirs in Bigville didn’t want to move back to their family homestead. Anyway, five of the homes went on the market and because the market had been doing well for the past several years, four were sold for $300,000… except the one belonging to the heirs of the deceased couple – they let the house fall into disrepair, stopped mowing the lawn, and eventually squatters moved in and started trashing the place. When they finally sold it as a “handyman special,” they got $150,000 for it.

Before any year’s tax assessment becomes “final,” it is sent to each homeowner to review. Each homeowner has an opportunity to dispute the assessment. The five original homeowners continued to be assessed at a rate commensurate with their $250,000 property value, and knowing that many of their neighbors sold their comparable homes for $300,000, they silently accepted this assessment. The four new owners who paid $300,000 each are also assessed at $250,000. Strangely, it is illegal for a municipality to perform a “spot assessment” of individual properties so although the “fair market value” of those four homes has increased by 20% since last appraised, they continue to be assessed at $250,000 each. The tenth home, purchased by the handyman for $150,000, is also assessed at $250,000, but he disputes his assessment. He argues that the fair market value of his home should be based on his recent purchase price, and through the various legal methods at his disposal, he has the house reassessed at $150,000.

Assuming the total tax levy is unchanged at $100,000, what happens to each homeowner’s property taxes? Nine of the ten houses are still assessed at $250,000 each, but the last is now assessed at only $150,000. One might quickly (and incorrectly) guess that the houses with unchanged assessed values would have no change in their $10,000 property tax bill, and that the tenth house would pay just $6,000, but that doesn’t add up correctly; Tinyville needs to collect $100,000 in taxes to balance its budget, and this formula only adds up to $96,000. What actually happens is that the denominator changes, too. Tinyville’s total assessed property value is recalculated based on each property’s assessed value, and now adds up to just $2.4M. That means that each of the $250,000 houses now accounts for just over 10.4% of the total, and is now responsible for that percentage of the $100,000 levy, increasing each of their assessments to $10,417. The handyman’s $150,000 assessed value accounts for 6.25% of the total, so he’s now responsible for just $6,250 of Tinyville’s tax levy.

Some (including the handyman) would argue that the handyman’s house is worth less, and consequently, he should pay less tax than his neighbors. Others (including his neighbors) would argue that his house is the same size and shape, takes up as much land, and places the same demand on Tinyville’s police, fire, schools, libraries, sewers, and other services, and that he should pay the same amount as the other houses. Some (including the original five families) would argue that the resold houses should be assessed at their new, higher market values, and that the new owners should pay proportionally more taxes. Others (including the four new owners) would argue that the fair market values of their homes (as evidenced by their sale prices) are indicative of the actual fair market value of the five unsold homes, despite the fact that those homes haven’t recently changed hands. These are the sort of issues that confound homeowners and plague tax assessors, assessment review boards, and courts in every municipality, every year.

In a perfect world, when the handyman files for building permits to repair and restore his home’s value, the new value he creates by the work he does should bring his tax assessment back in line with the other comparable houses, thereby reducing his neighbors’ percentage of the total tax, accordingly. Unfortunately, not everyone applies for building permits, and not every project even requires building permits. Upgrading your kitchen appliances improves the value of your home without requiring building permits. Many municipalities don’t require a building permit to add a new layer to your roof or to retile your bathrooms. Of course, there are also homeowners who build bedrooms in attics or lofts over their garages without permits, and not every new home buyer is savvy enough to realize that they are paying for such unpermitted improvements. If you complain to the tax assessor that your neighbor has an unpermitted finished basement, the tax assessor doesn’t have the same authority as a building inspector to knock and demand to see that basement so as to tax them appropriately… and not every building department inspector is willing to perform inspections on an anonymous tip, so you may have to go on record as the guy who ratted out his neighbor. Consequently, a lot of home improvements are not reflected on the tax assessment rolls.

Since buying a home in a market downturn gives you the ability to grieve your tax assessment based on its new apparent fair market value, other home owners can actually use your new “fair market value” to argue that their house is comparable to yours, and that their assessment should be lowered, too. This creates added burden on the assessors as they try to determine new values of homes that haven’t recently sold based on evidence created by comparable homes that did. As more and more homeowners grieve their assessments, it reduces the denominator in the municipality’s total assessed value, increasing the actual tax bills for houses for which assessments haven’t been grieved. Naturally, that reinforces the process, inciting more and more homeowners to grieve their taxes, creating more and more work for assessors. However, taken to the unimaginable extreme, in a community where home values have fallen, it may take a few years for all of the homeowners to realize that they are being unfairly assessed (as compared to their neighbors), but ultimately, when the last of them finally grieves his taxes, everyone’s proportion to the new denominator should be comparable to their proportion to the original denominator, meaning that they’ll all on average, eventually pay just about as much tax as they did before. In the intervening years, the ones who got onboard first and had the largest and earliest reductions in their assessed home values will reap the greatest short-term benefits. Some would go so far as to argue that this is fair, like so many other instances in life when the early bird gets the proverbial worm.

The intervening chaos and disparity, however, causes more work, thereby costing municipalities more in assessments, review boards, and grievance hearings. In the worst cases, when grievance processes fail and are left for courts to decide, municipalities have to pay unanticipated refunds to vindicated homeowners, which reduces their immediate coffers and further increases tax levies in subsequent years to make up for those losses. For scholars of economic theory, Keynes would argue that these machinations are a necessary and productive part of the system, and that they employ lawyers who otherwise would earn less; these lawyers rent offices, hire staff, and buy office supplies, and in effect, keep the economy’s wheel turning. Hayek would retort that these legal costs do not so much enrich the system, as they do redirect capital that would have been employed elsewhere, such as the tax savings permitting the homeowners to buy new furniture, hire a gardener, or take a vacation. He would consider these inefficiencies in the tax assessment process an unnecessary cost that allocated resources in a less-than-optimal manner… and I’d tend to agree with him. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know that we should try to come up with a better one.

About the Author:

Brian Blum is the founder and operating manager of Maverick Structures LLC. Maverick Structures is a real estate investment and management company, with experience in buying, renting, selling, renovating, and financing residential and commercial real estate, and managing residential rentals. View our available listings or email us for information about investment and partnering opportunities.

Source

Financial Independence: 8 Tips to Achieve It

The goal should not be to get rich in life, it should be to enrich your life. Achieving financial independence is much more than not worrying about finances, creating time freedom, having passive income, and being in a position to live your dreams and help others – it is about reaching our full potential and not letting others define or determine it.

Contributor: Matthew Toone

Financial independence is possible. Unfortunately, it is often never achieved – much like all of our goals and dreams – because we don’t desire it enough, believe it is possible, or work hard enough for it. Just as detrimental, we become comfortable with mediocrity, allow others to dictate our decisions, become unwilling to put in the effort required to achieve our dreams, and never learn and implement the necessary steps that result in financial independence, time freedom, passive income, and our full potential being realized. Desiring financial independence is perhaps the first step; but we also need to change our thinking and learn how to not only achieve it, but be willing to put in the work necessary to obtain it.

Financial independence is actually more of a mentality than it is a dollar value in a bank account. It is more about not worrying and having time freedom than it is about being capable of always paying the bills. It is about overcoming fear and taking risks as much as it is about saving for retirement. And financial independence is all about passive income, not the balance of an IRA or 401(k). Unfortunately, the majority of people do not think this way – and this is made evident in the masses who get excited about pay raises and promotions, develop the typical employee mindset, and live far below their potential because they are unwilling to take risks, think and act differently, and understand the essential laws of success that also produce financial independence.

Thankfully, we can change! But even an understanding of the essential steps below is not enough – it is when knowledge and consistent action are combined that our goals, dreams, and financial independence will be realized.

1) Never Fall Victim to the Typical Employee Mentality: Stop thinking in terms of 9-5, manager and employee, weekends and holidays off, that is not my job or responsibility, etc. Doing more than you are paid to do will not only result in success on the job, but will undoubtedly carry over into other aspects of your life. But if you continually trade time for money, believe that job security is actually security, become content with mediocrity and being average, do just enough to keep your job, and actually think that a pay raise or promotion is the solution to your problems… then the only real hope you have is that your IRA and 401(k) will have sufficient funds to keep you alive after you’ve given 40+ years of your life to a company. And by all standards, that is not my definition of financial independence (or happiness).

2) IRA’s & 401(k)’s… Not a Recipe for Financial Independence: I find it ironic that our culture successfully convinces us that our family’s financial future will be taken care of by handing over our money to unknown (and often greedy) investors and companies who essentially are only interested in making a dime now – not in 40 years. And yet, what is more surprising is the masses of people who actually believe that financial independence is obtained by devoting (a better word would probably be enduring) 40+ years of our lives to a company, and think that an IRA or 401(k) will be the solution to their retirement and financial problems. Anyone who has ever achieved financial freedom has independently created it themselves, took risks, and was extremely proactive – never did these people depend upon a company or a retirement account to fully reach their goal.

3) Leaving Your Job to Start a Business is Actually Not the Answer: Realizing that a job, being an employee, and trading time for money will not produce financial independence is the first necessary change in mentality we must obtain. However, do not fall victim to the thought that being the boss, starting or running your own company, or even being an entrepreneur is the solution. Financial independence is not defined by having more power or larger pay checks – it is measured by time freedom, no financial worries, being the manager and investor and not the boss, and especially creating passive income. The goal is not to become the boss, the goal is to be the owner and hire a boss to do the work. The goal is to not earn more to be able to spend more, but take the excess money and buy appreciating assets that make you money.

4) Passive Income is the Key: Job security is not the same as financial security. Independence within your job is not even similar to financial independence. And trading time and effort for money is the exact opposite approach as making money work for you. The goal in all of your pursuits, and the key to actually achieving financial independence (hopefully long before the age of 65) is to take every extra dime and invest it into assets that actually make you money on a continual monthly basis. Whether it is cash flow from properties, interest from accounts, or even profits from the work of others from your own businesses – the goal is to create and buy assets that continually bring in a monthly passive income.

5) Change Your Mentality About Retirement: Our culture’s unfortunate perception of retirement entails working hard for 40+ years, trading our time for money in hopes of promotions and pay raises, trusting complete strangers to manage our retirement accounts, and sacrificing pleasure now in hopes of living our dreams in years to come. Truthfully, I want nothing to do with this type of retirement. And because of this, I am thus willing to put in whatever effort necessary, take risks, change my mentality, and learn and implement the principles that will result in financial independence – long before I reach the age of 65.

6) Recognize What Keeps You from Achieving Financial Independence: There are multiple reasons why people do not achieve their dreams and goals in life, but they all can essentially be summarized into three categories: fear, mediocrity, and inaction. Do you fear taking risks, and possibly failing? Do you fear because you think you lack the necessary knowledge or abilities to be successful? Are you content with mediocrity and being average? Is ‘just getting by’ or ‘that’s good enough’ or ‘it’s not worth it’ common thoughts (and thus actions)? Are you unwilling to put in the effort required to achieve success? If so, then financial independence most certainly will be forfeited, and the result may be a good life – but good is the enemy of great!

7) Being Rich is Not the Same as Being Financially Independent: True wealth is not determined by the size of a bank account, the house we live in, or the car we drive. True wealth is a state of mind more than it is an actual dollar figure. The individual who has no financial worries or obligations, has assets and employees working for them, has created a continual monthly passive income, and has resources sufficient to create time freedom and be in a position to help others – this is true wealth (regardless of how much income or profits are actually made). Comparatively, the individual who makes millions of dollars and drives the fanciest car and lives in the greatest mansion, is actually not wealthy at all if their expenditures exceed their income, they are trading time for money, they live in fear of their debts, their lives display being ‘rich’ only to keep up with the ‘jones’, they are entrenched in the ‘rat race’ in hopes that the next promotion will produce more time freedom (which never happens), and most importantly – they have no continual monthly residual income. Financial independence should be the goal – not being rich.

8) Understand That it is Achieved by Implementing the Laws of Success: As essential as all the principles above are, the reality is that no goal or dream in life is ever achieved unless and until we implement the laws that are foundational to all success. We must first desire financial independence, believe it is possible, have faith that we are capable of achieving it, change our mentality (as described above) and think big, overcome our fears and doubts, work hard every day in pursuit of our goal, and never quit until it is accomplished.

The goal should not be to get rich in life, it should be to enrich your life. Achieving financial independence is much more than not worrying about finances, creating time freedom, having passive income, and being in a position to live your dreams and help others – it is about reaching our full potential and not letting others define or determine it.

How are you achieving Financial Independence? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

If you’re interested in this topic, you may also enjoy one of these books:

Things To Consider Before Opting For A Debt Consolidation Loan

Consolidating the debt can improve the credit ratings in a few years and this can be a quick fix. In some cases, the quick fix solution can bring problems, especially in that case when the loan borrowers are in the upside down on the consolidation loan. But otherwise, this can help the loan borrowers in combining the payments, while making it really easy to keep up the payments.

By Sarbani Bhattacharjee 

Knowing the way to consolidate the debt may not look as simple as it seems. The concept of debt consolidation is great, the ability to combine all the payments into a single one. Though, there are a number of companies that can scam the people and also take the advantage of the truth that these people are in a vulnerable condition. But before making any particular decision, it is essential to consider a few important things. Besides, you should write everything and compare the positive outcomes versus the negative ones of getting the consolidation loan to help you in your decision.

  • Every month you have to budget enough to cover all the household costs and you must not use any credit until and unless you repay the total amount of the consolidation loan.
  • In case you are in arrears with the present situation that you are having, then your credit rating would be affected. This may define that you would be unable to get the loan at any good interest rate.
  • But it is essential that you understand how much you would have to pay totally to pay the loan. In case you extend the debt consolidation loan for a longer time, then you would have to pay much more in interest and this way the total amount of debt will also increase.
  • So, it is always advisable not to consolidate the unsecured debts like as the personal loans or the credit card debts or any loan that would secure debts against your home. Because, if you fall behind with these payments in the future, then you would have the risk of repossessioning of your home.

Will this loan help you to save money?

It is a fact that while someone applies for the debt consolidation loan, they reach to a certain point where they get overwhelmed by their present financial situation. Though this process is completely tempting, but you can’t demand that this process can help you in saving money. The interest rates of this process may seem quite appealing in the beginning as the interest rates are quite low. But while somebody will take the low-interest rate over a longer time period, he/she might be paying the similar amount of hard cash, if not more.

Is debt consolidation an everlasting solution?

Consolidating the debt can improve the credit ratings in a few years and this can be a quick fix. In some cases, the quick fix solution can bring problems, especially in that case when the loan borrowers are in the upside down on the consolidation loan. But otherwise, this can help the loan borrowers in combining the payments, while making it really easy to keep up the payments. One thing you must keep in mind that the debt consolidation loan works only if the loan borrower changes his habit of savings and spending. So, if you have decided to go with the option of debt consolidation, then you have to make sure that you will stick to the new budget.

Source: EZine

Profitable Yard Sale Tips

This summer I sat in the driveway of a good friend for her yard sale. We had a few visitors, but most of those were her friends. It’s a shame because she had some seriously nice stuff at ridiculously low prices. I left with a mini-van full of stuff that I’m currently enjoying.

So what went wrong? It took some quick research to find this article from EveryDollar, and as I should have expected, you just can’t fake being prepared.

By Ann Poorboy

This summer I sat in the driveway of a good friend for her yard sale. We had a few visitors, but most of those were her friends. It’s a shame because she had some seriously nice stuff at ridiculously low prices. I left with a mini-van full of stuff that I’m currently enjoying.

So what went wrong? It took some quick research to find this article from EveryDollar, and as I should have expected, you just can’t fake being prepared.

Preparation

Getting garage sale ready takes a little patience and prep work. But the profits will be worth following this simple process:

1. Do a speedy spring clean. Set aside one weekend to skim through your entire house. Look in closets and under beds, open every drawer and cabinet (especially the junk zones where stuff goes to be lost forever), and spend some time getting to know the items in your basement. You’re on the hunt for everything you never use or forgot you even own.

2. Keep a box handy. Okay, you covered (and uncovered) every surface of your home— but, chances are, you missed a few things, or maybe someone in your family needs convincing before parting ways with their stuff. Keep a box in the basement marked “garage sale” and add to it as you go.

3. Consider hosting a multi-family sale. Ask neighbors, family and friends to join you for a multiple-family yard sale. Buyers are drawn to larger yard sales because they’re more likely to find what they’re looking for. And more foot traffic could mean more sales for you!

4. Clean up for more cash. If you’re selling a large item such as an elliptical or dining table, clean it up and make it look ready to use. Wipe away any dust or dirt. People are more impressed with—and are willing to pay more for—items that look well kept.

5. Watch the weather. Select a couple weekends that work for you and your garage sale crew. Then, as best you can, look for clear skies before giving your sale day the go-ahead.

6. Advertise. Mix some new ways of advertising—like Craigslist, your neighborhood association’s Facebook page, and your personal Facebook page—with old-fashioned ways such as posting signs around the area. The more you get the word out, the more people will stop to shop.

7. Name your prices. Determine which items are common and which are rare and set prices accordingly. Know up front that most paperback books and tiny kids’ toys will pull no more than 50 cents and be okay with that. For bigger items, decide the minimum amount you’ll take; then price those items slightly higher so you have room to negotiate. When in doubt ask yourself, What would I be willing to pay? Use your answer as your guide.

8. Get organized. Treat your garage sale like a pop-up shop. Imagine what might make the experience easier for a shopper and what might make things more difficult. Strategize how you can best group similar items together, leave plenty of room for walking, and station yourself in a visible spot—ready to answer questions and take money.

What to do the Day of Your Garage Sale

Aka, how to run your garage sale like a boss. The big day is finally here. You’ve done the groundwork—now it’s time to hit the ground running! Make the most money at your garage sale by remembering to:

1. Start your sale on time. Garage sale pros are known to hit the streets with the sun. Be ready for your most serious shoppers by being outside with both yourself and your stuff ten minutes before the advertised start time.

2. Have help at the ready. Remove any lingering buyer doubts about large purchases by providing a strong guy or gal who can help with heavy lifting. Keep a stash of grocery bags near the cash box for folks with handfuls of smaller items.

3. Offer light refreshments. Providing free cookies and lemonade gives your kids a job, brings customers closer to the stuff you’re trying to sell, and encourages conversation. Refreshing your shoppers gives them good reason to stroll around a bit longer—and buy a bunch more!

4. Accept multiple forms of payment. When it comes to garage sales, paying with cash is the classic, old-school way. So, of course, you’ll want to have plenty of bills and coins ready to make change. But if you really want to snag every potential buyer, you should also accept payment via Paypal or with Square Cash.

5. Re-merchandise as you go. Sometimes shoppers can be both your best friend and your worst enemy—buying your stuff but leaving behind a big mess in the process. Be sure to clean up as the day moves along. Hang up clothing, rearrange books, and move furniture around to keep the feeling of a full yard.

6. Be open to package deals. If you have similarly themed items, sell them together. Someone may not want to buy a set of weights for $50, but they might change their mind if you throw in workout DVDs or a yoga mat. Or if you notice a customer holding multiple, unrelated items for a while, offer a discount if they buy it all.

7. Bargain with the best of them. Garage sales are a great way to test out our bargaining skills. And while you may have lots of bargaining experience as a buyer, selling isn’t something we get to try as often. Be kind, but firm, when an offered price dips below what you’re willing to take. Consider your options for selling the item elsewhere and proceed accordingly.

What to Do After the Garage Sale Ends

The sale is over, your lawn is empty, and the leftover items are back in the basement. Now what?

1. Take your garage sale online. Left with some stuff you think you can still sell? Post your items online through sites like Poshmark, Craigslist, Varage Sale, eBay or your local buy-sell-trade group on Facebook.

2. Visit your local consignment shop for cash. Take clothes, shoes and accessories to a consignment shop. If you can, choose to receive cash up front instead of a trade or after-purchase repayment.

3. Donate your items to a worthy cause. Of course, you can always drop your items at a thrift store like Goodwill or contact Habitat for Humanity to schedule a pick-up time.

4. Give your hard-earned cash a home. Count up your earnings and do a little celebration dance. Then sit down with your spouse to talk about how you’ll use the money. Be sure to include the cash as income in your monthly budget, and then put that cash to work!

A good yard sale gives you a jolt of money momentum. You can earn enough to pay for a quick summer vacation or polish off your starter emergency fund in a single morning. In the end, your house will be cleaner, and your wallet will be greener. This opportunity is closer than you think—in fact, it happens right outside your front door!

Make sure to put your yard sale earnings into your EveryDollar budget to maximize how you give, save or spend your extra money! Don’t have an EveryDollar budget yet? It’s free and takes less than 10 minutes to set up!

What Happens to Your Debt When You Pass Away

What happens to a person’s debts after death? Every state handles this issue a bit differently. This article discusses how debts are handled in California.

By John C. Martin, Contributor

What happens to a person’s debts after death? Every state handles this issue a bit differently. This article discusses how debts are handled in California in the following situations: 

  • Debts when a probate is required
  • Debts when assets are held in a revocable living trust
  • Situations when someone can become responsible for debts after your death
  • How you can get your finances in order before you die so your family isn’t placed in a difficult situation

In California, most debts are handled in a probate proceeding. A probate proceeding is a legal action for the administration of a decedent’s estate. When a probate is initiated, known creditors of a decedent must be contacted directly by the executor. A notice to creditors must also be published in a newspaper of general circulation. Creditors then have four months after letters are issued to the executor to file their claims. If notice requirements are followed and creditors do not file their claims within the four month period, then these debts may be time-barred. Validly filed claims may be accepted or rejected by the personal representative for the estate. The debts are paid out of the decedent’s estate prior to distribution under the decedent’s will or the laws of intestate succession.

When no probate is required, there is no statutory duty to contact creditors directly or to file a notice to creditors in a court of general circulation. This is the case when individuals fund assets, which otherwise would have been subject to probate, into a revocable living trust. In such a case, the creditor must take action themselves to either file a probate, or sue the trustee of the revocable living trust directly. In all cases in California, there is a one-year statute of limitations for claims against a decedent’s estate. Accordingly, claims that are not filed by creditors against a decedent’s estate are generally time-barred and cannot be collected.

In general, all debts of a decedent will be paid at the time of probate or trust administration before the distribution to beneficiaries. The executor or trustee will be responsible for payment of debt, and not the individual beneficiaries. However, there is an exception when an asset is left to a beneficiary subject to indebtedness. At the same time, the beneficiary could always disclaim the gift, in which case it would pass to the other beneficiaries under the decedent’s estate plan, or ultimately escheat to the state.

Note that in the case of real estate subject to indebtedness which passes to a spouse or child, Federal law (Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982) provides that a “due on sale” clause under a deed of trust will not be triggered. As such, real estate can be left to a spouse or children subject to the terms of an existing loan.

We recommend that individuals execute comprehensive estate plans which address the payment of debts. By transferring assets into a revocable living trust, clients in California will avoid unnecessary intrusion into their private lives by the state. Notice and publication requirements do not exist if a probate is never initiated in California. As a result, a living trust results in substantial privacy and debt collection benefits versus a will alone. Individuals should also consider purchasing life insurance in order to address the payment of debts in the event of death.

Have more questions? Visit our website at johncmartinlaw.com. John C. Martin is a certified specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law. This article is current as of the date it was written. Laws change over time and this article may become outdated. Do not communicate confidential information by email. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Source: EZine

Delayed Saving: Starting Late in Life to Save for Retirement

The best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago …. the second best time is today.

By Maryanne Pope

“The best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago… the second best time is today.”

– Chinese Proverb

Likewise, the best time to start putting aside money for one’s retirement is when you are young. For when it comes to getting compound interest to work its magic, time is the key ingredient.

But what about all those people who don’t have 40 or 50 years left to build a significant-sized nest egg for retirement?

Well, according to financial expert and author, David Bach, it’s never too late to start. “Even if you’re starting late,” Bach writes in his book, Start Late; Finish Rich, “you can still amass quite a respectable amount of money.”

And you don’t have to be earning some sort of mega annual income either. In fact:

“How much you earn has almost no bearing on whether or not you can build wealth.”

– David Bach, Start Late; Finish Rich

Rather, explains Bach, “It’s not how much we earn, it is how much we spend.” And some of that spending can easily be trimmed by looking at what Bach calls the “Latte factor.” If, for example, you are currently buying a fancy coffee every day for $5 – and you instead saved and invested that $5 per day, you could actually build a nice little sum of money.

Here are some numbers:

If you save $5 a day ($150/month) and got an average 10% return on your money (compounded annually), then in 10 years, you would have $30,727. But in 30 years, you would have $339,073.

Now, if you double your savings and were able to save $10 a day ($300/month) and got an average of 10% return on your money (compounded annually), then in 10 years, you’d have $61,453. But in 30 years, you’d have $678,146. Now we’re talkin’ (especially if you live in Canada and put that $3600 a year into a TFSA, as then that money can be withdrawn tax-free).

And let’s say you can afford to put aside $20 a day ($600/month) and got an average of 10% return (compounded annually), then in just 20 years, you would have $455,621. But in 30 years, you’d have $1,356,293.

Now of course, the stock market at the moment isn’t exactly reflecting a 10% rate of return. And you’d be lucky to find a GIC (CD in the US) for 2% these days, let alone 10%. Fair enough. But building wealth by regular saving and prudent investing – regardless of our age – isn’t usually a quick rich scheme.

Rather, it is slow and steady wins the race, even if you’re just starting that race in your mid-forties. Because historically, the stock market has provided investors with a decent average return on their money.

According to Observations (a personal finance blog that provides historical perspective, emphasizes strategic planning, and uses graphs & spreadsheets to show how financial things work), between 1900 and 2012, the average total return/year of the Dow Jones Industrial Average was approximately 9.4% and that, of course, includes the crash of 1929.

In his blog post, The Historical Rate of Return for the Stock Market Since 1900, Tom DeGrace looks at the stock market returns over shorter chunks of time. The 1990’s, for example, were a phenomenal decade with the average return per year being 18.17%. The next decade (2000 to 2009) was not so great: 1.07%. But then in the following three years (2010 to 2013), the average return was 16.74%.

“What counts is your time in the market, not market timing.”

– Investment Funds Institute of Canada

Alas, David Chilton, in his book, The Wealthy Barber Returns, suspects the markets may have more rocky times ahead in the short term. “Going forward,” writes Chilton, “we might have to deal with “muddle-through” financial markets fighting the headwinds of excessive public and private debt and the resultant slow economic growth.”

I suspect he’s right (but then again, that also means there are – and will likely continue to be – some tremendous buying opportunities in the markets). According to Stats Canada, personal debt is on the rise: Canadians owed almost $1.64 for every dollar of disposable income they earned in the third quarter of 2015. In 1990, this figure was about 90 cents.

And on the subject of personal debt: if one is carrying any sort of a balance on their credit card and only paying the minimum monthly payments, accumulating any sort of wealth is going to be extremely difficult.

Here’s a powerful example from Start Late, Finish Rich:

If you owe $10,000 on a credit card and pay only the minimum payment (with an interest rate of 19.98%), it will take you more than 37 years to get out of debt – and before you do, you will have forked out nearly $19,000 in interest charges.

Yikes.

“Credit cards allow us to act wealthier than we are,” explains Chilton in The Wealthy Barber Returns, “and acting wealthy now makes it tough to be wealthy later.”

Yup.

So what to do? Well, I think this observation speaks volumes:

“When I sit down with people who have saved sufficiently throughout their lives, I see three common denominators: 1) They paid themselves first; 2) They started young, or if not, they compensated with increased savings rates; and 3) Their debt management followed the approach of “Owe No!”

– David Chilton, The Wealthy Barber Returns

As for how much to pay yourself, experts suggest you set aside 10% to 15% of your gross income – especially if you’re starting late in the game to save.

And if you have significant credit card debt, David Bach suggests your first step is to call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate. And if they won’t give you a lower rate, then find a credit company that will – and transfer your balance.

Interestingly, however, Bach does NOT suggest you pay down debt first and THEN start saving. Rather, he strongly suggests you do both!

But I reckon if a person is concerned about their financial future, perhaps the worst thing they can do is… nothing at all. For it is better to plant a small seed that will grow into a little oak tree than plant no seed whatsoever.

Maryanne Pope is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the author of the creative non-fiction book, A Widow’s Awakening. Maryanne also writes play scripts, screenplays and blogs and is a powerful inspirational speaker. For further details on A Widow’s Awakening and Maryanne’s other projects, please visit http://www.pinkgazelle.com/.

Source: EZine

Being Financially Stable

By Rosemarie Sumalinog Gonzales

If saving for retirement is a struggle, imagine yourself if you lost a job. More and more people really take care of their own retirement security. To avoid unnecessary financial constraints, create a plan to reduce debt as you approach retirement. Design your savings and spending plans.

Retirement planning is definitely difficult, especially if the implications of your choices tend to get magnified. You’ll need to determine the amount of savings needed for your desired lifestyle. A spending strategy is equally important. However, rather than following a budget, many people spend more than what comes in.

Determine your annual base or mandatory expenses on food, clothing, shelter, utilities, medical, and transportation expenses. Also consider investing in long-term health care insurance which can typically cover the cost of home care, nursing-home care, and assisted living which is not usually covered by traditional health insurance.

Safeguarding your finances while you are still employed will help you become financially stable even after retirement. Many people are anxious when their retirement years are fast approaching. Imagine being at that point in your life and feeling you haven’t achieved your goals yet. It could get especially worrisome if you don’t have enough savings to be able to sustain your lifestyle after you retire. So, you need to enjoy spending within your means.

Securing a retirement fund is definitely needed if you want to live comfortably. The best time to start saving for your future is now. Not next year, not next week, not tomorrow, and not even later. Start planning for retirement at this very moment. It’s better to start sooner than later. The earlier you plan, the more time you have to save money, pay off debt, and invest in the future. You also give yourself some leg room in case you make a bad decision and need to recover from a mistake. If you start investing late, then you lower the possibility of accomplishing your retirement plans.

Consistency is essential in saving money for your retirement. At first, it may be difficult, but you’ll find it easier to save as you get along. One of the solutions for this is to set aside savings every month, even just a small amount. Save more as you go along-but never, never go below the initial savings amount.

Planning may be easy, but it’s the willingness and determination to stick to your plans that could bend at times. It’s important to have a clear vision ahead. No matter how far away your retirement years may seem, it is always a good idea to learn how to manage your personal finances. Those people who know how to manage their money succeed in allotting enough money not just for their savings but also for other financial matters.

It’s important to create a budget. Separate your needs from your wants and try to track your spending on a monthly basis by listing down all your expenses. Seeing where you spend your money can help you sort out your priorities and plan how you can save more from your income and spend less on non-important expenses.

Retiring from work is a major leap in one’s life. Prepare for the inevitable as early as now and assure a financially stable future for yourself and your family.