Diversifying Investments

Business Finance Saving

If you've heard the phrase "Don't put all your eggs in one basket," then you already know one of the top pieces of advice from the leading financial experts! This simple phrase is the heart and soul behind the concept of diversifying investments. Rather than placing all of your money in one place, you divide your assets among a variety of investments to maximize gain and minimize losses. But how does your average Joe learn how to diversify investments in the best way possible? Let's dive into exactly what is a diversified investment and how you can take advantage of this concept in your personal portfolio:

Different Types of Investments

What is a diversified investment? It means spreading your savings across different types of investments - the key words being "different types." Let's say you have a portfolio of stocks and you want to diversify. Should you load up on new stocks? The smarter option would be to add new types of investments like bonds or real estate. This allows you to take advantage of the different pros and cons of investments across the board. Here are a few of your options:

Bonds International investments Real estate Stocks Cash And moreDoing the Math

Just how much of your money should you put into each of these investments? It's important to think practically. We like to use a tiered approach with financial planning. Your first tier of savings is your rainy day fund. This pool of money is used as a safeguard against any emergencies you encounter, like medical issues or auto troubles. Your second tier is your stocks and bonds.

Many financial advisors recommend using a simple calculation to estimate how much to allot to each category. Subtract your age from 100 to get a rough guide of how much to invest in stocks. For example, a 25 year old will put 75 percent of assets in stocks and 25 percent in bonds. If you want to try diversifying investments, then you'll play with these figures even more. Try investing 10 percent of your stock portfolio in international investments or 5 percent in real estate. You'll end up with a well-rounded list of investments.

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Debt Management

Debt Management

If you're trying to become debt-free, you need to have a plan to move forward - and learning debt management is the way to do it. What is debt management? It is a customized system that you create to live within your means and slowly emerge from debt. Because the causes of debt are different for everyone, your management system will also be personalized to your specific needs. This guide will break down how to identify your unique needs and how to create a sensible debt management plan that will carry you into the future. Let's get started!

Can Debt Management Help Me?

This debt management plan is best for those who have "unsecured debt". Unsecured debt includes things like credit card debt, bank overdrafts, and personal loans. If your debt is caused by mortgages or rent, this is considered "secured debt." Secured debts are a little trickier, and you may want to consult a financial advisor instead.

Why Do I Need Debt Management Skills?

It's easy to spiral into debt, but it's a lot more difficult to climb out of it. That's why it's crucial to come up with a strategy to move forward, rather than hoping things will simply get better with time. Not only does extended debt reflect poorly on your credit history, but it can also affect your ability to secure loans and mortgages down the line. Not to mention, interest accumulates and puts you in an even deeper financial hole. The best time to work on your debt is the present!

How Do I Make a DIY Debt Management Plan?

If you are driven to become debt-free, we recommend taking an honest inventory of all of your expenses. Take a look at your debit and credit card statements, and see where money is flowing. Make a list of everything that you spend within a month, like:

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How to File Taxes

How to File Taxes

The new year marks the official beginning of tax season, but do you know how to file taxes the right way? After working hard all year long, many people shudder at the very thought of 1040s and W2s, but luckily, the process isn't too tricky with the right information by your side. Let's dive into the basics of how and when can you file taxes, so you can file with total confidence!

Forms That You May Need

While the old system was full of confusing paperwork like the 1040A and 1040EZ forms, the IRS has created a new 1040 form that is the size of a postcard. The 1040 tax form is the standard federal income tax form that you'll need to report your income properly, so don't forget that number! So, where do you pick it up? You can easily download the 1040 tax form online for convenience, but if you'd prefer a hard copy, there are many locations that you can visit. Post offices, libraries, tax centers, and IRS offices across the nation have the supplies you need to file by the deadline of April 15th.

Factors That Affect Taxes

Why do taxes vary so much from person to person?

Filing status: You will fall into one or more of the following categories: single, married filing separately, married filing jointly, head of household, qualifying widow with dependent. Dependents: You can file up to four dependents, which may qualify for the Child Tax Credit. Any additional dependents must be included on a separate tax form. Income: Your taxable income isn't just the sum of your annual wages. This can also include your stock profits, real estate sales, lottery winnings, inheritance, and other funds. Tax Deductions: You might qualify for tax credits or tax deductions that reduce your taxable income. Be sure to double check the qualifications that you'll need, and if you have any questions, contact a professional to be on the safe side!Methods of Filing

The digital age has made tax preparation easier than ever before. Before you can claim that hefty tax refund, you'll need to select your method of filing:

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Apps to Save Money on Groceries

Apps to Save Money on Groceries

You've scoured the sales ads, you've created a grocery budget, but did you know that there are even more ways that you can save on your weekly food costs? Thanks to the latest technology, you can take advantage of tons of different apps to save money on groceries - and it's as easy as tapping the screen of your smartphone! Let's dive into some of our top picks, so you can learn how to save money on food without sacrificing your favorites. These handy apps are available for free on both iOS and Android, so anyone can save big:

Ibotta

Ibotta is one of the most popular apps for good reason. This isn't your traditional coupon app. Simply go to the grocery store, check the app for cash back opportunities, and scan in your receipt after checkout. Within one week, you'll get cash back on all of your qualifying items - and you'll get an automatic five dollars with your first checkout! Best of all, you can use Ibotta on hundreds of different retailers from grocery stores to apparel shops - which means you can save money across the board!

SavingStar

If you're already a coupon-clipping pro, then SavingStar might be your new favorite app. Sign up for this service to register all of your rewards cards in one place. Then, feel free to browse through the latest deals and plan your shopping list ahead of time. All of your discounts will appear at the register when you check out. This flexible choice is a great option that works with nearly all of the major grocery store chains in the United States, so it's definitely worth the quick download!

Grocery IQ

Want the best deals possible? Check out Grocery IQ. Create your weekly grocery list in the app and set your location. The app will run through every grocery store in its database to find the cheapest price on every item, so you know exactly where to head for that gallon of milk or loaf of bread. Plus, you can load your rewards cards to make sure that you compare sales prices for every item.

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Why is it Better to Rent a House

Real Estate

Many people dream of getting the keys to their very first home, but not everyone is clear on the details. Do you want a huge home or a cozy abode? Do you want modern fixtures or that vintage feel? And most importantly: Do you want to rent vs. buy? While buying used to be the more coveted option, renting has surged in popularity due to rising housing costs and a greater need for flexibility. In fact, renting a house can be a much better option for many Americans. If you're not sure whether renting vs. buying a house is for you, then check out our guide. We've laid out some of the top benefits of renting, and how to tell whether this modern option is the best for you.

Flexibility

When you rent a home, you have a lot more flexibility than a buyer. Your contract typically lasts for one year. If you decide to leave after the contract is over, there's no problem. Feel free to find a new residence with better amenities, or downsize to a more affordable living space if you'd like. Unlike a buyer, you have no obligation to to invest a lot of money in a house that you might outgrow. And if your financial situation changes, you're not trapped in a long-term mortgage.

Cost

One of the biggest perks to renting is the lower cost overall. There's no need to squirrel away thousands of dollars for a huge down payment. There's no need to deal with massive real estate taxes. And there's no need to budget for seasonal maintenance and unexpected home repairs. Renting is a much simpler process for those who aren't committed to the sometimes arduous homeowning lifestyle. Additionally, homeowners must deal with the stress of fluctuating property values. When you rent a home, you can focus your attention on other things.

Amenities

Not only is the renting process typically much less expensive than the buying process, but you could also enjoy a number of perks that you might not expect. Are you an avid swimmer? You'll love the convenience of a rental home with a pool - and you won't have to fuss with installation and maintenance costs. Love to hit the gym? Look for an apartment complex with a built-in fitness center, and you won't have to waste time in traffic after work. Many condos also offer services like landscaping to ensure that your home maintains its curb appeal with no effort on your part.

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Why Should I Refinance My Car Loan?

Smiling Young Woman Sitting in a Car

After going through so much effort to secure auto financing, you probably don't want to look at another stack of paperwork for a long time! But, many experts recommend revisiting your plan down the road. Why should I refinance my car loan? Simply put, you could get a much better deal. From lower monthly costs to better interest rates, you might be surprised by the new and improved terms of your auto financing deal if you do a little research. Let's take a look at how to refinance a car loan to reap the most benefits:

What are the Perks of Refinancing?

The biggest benefit of refinancing a car is the potential annual savings that you can achieve. Here are few scenarios where refinancing is a great idea:

Lower Interest: Interest rates are not static. They rise and fall due to a number of factors, and even if interest rates have been sky-high for a long time, keep your eyes peeled for the inevitable dip. Dealer-Sourced Loans: Dealership loans tend to have higher markups than other loans, like from a bank or online lender. Take a look at the other lenders to see if you can score a better deal by refinancing. Credit Score Changes: Maybe you bought a car when your credit was not so great, but after managing your money, you managed to move your score up. You might qualify for a better interest rate now, so consider researching your options. Leasing to Buy: If you've fallen in love with your lease, then you might want to buy it when your contract runs out. This can be a good time to renegotiate the terms and score a terrific deal on your car loan. Financial Stress: Sometimes you run into rough patches in life and you need to cut car costs as much as possible. You can refinance your car loan to get a lower payment over a longer period of time, freeing up more monthly cash flow.What are the Drawbacks of Refinancing?

You know the perks of refinancing a car loan, but before you draw up the new paperwork, when does it make more sense to stick with your current plan instead?

Long-Term Loan: Have you been paying off your current loan for years and years? You can get the most benefits from refinancing when you do so earlier in your repayment, so if it's been awhile, you might want to stick with what's working. Refinancing an Old Car: There are tons of benefits of buying used and you can save quite a bit on a pre-owned model, but refinancing is usually not considered worthwhile for the lender when the major depreciation has already occurred. Underwater Finances: If you owe more than the car's value, lenders are less likely to make a deal with you. It's better to regain control on your current loan than to try to negotiate new terms, which might not be favorable. Cash Advance Get Started Now!
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Why is Saving Money Important?

Abstract Money Saving

Between daily living expenses and piles of bills, you might feel like your paycheck disappears before your eyes - so why is saving money important? Saving money gives you the freedom to live your life the way you want. Whether you want to upgrade your house or start a new business, you have the power to take control when your financial situation is in good standing. And no matter your current situation, you can learn how to save money strategically to ensure a brighter future. Even a few dollars here and there can really add up over time, and these funds can come in handy when you're strapped for cash. Let's dive into the importance of saving money.

Benefits of Saving

One of the main benefits of saving money is the peace of mind that it brings. A rainy day fund provides protection against life's unexpected obstacles. You can take care of smaller expenses like car troubles and home repairs before they become huge headaches, and you have the freedom to save for bigger expenses like your children's college fund or retirement. Not only will savings set you up for a better financial standing, but better quality of life as well. And saving money isn't just about practicality. While rainy day funds are important, why not start a island getaway fund or a dream car fund? When you learn how to save money, you learn how to take control of your life.

Saving Strategy

Many people complain about financial stress, and when money is tight, it might be difficult to save for tomorrow when you can spend today. That's why it's important to learn how to save money in a way that works for you.

If you don't have a lot of funds to spare, consider looking for a savings account with higher interest rates and focus on reducing any debts that you have. If you're comfortable financially, start putting away money into an emergency fund. Most experts recommend saving between three to six months worth of expenses to be on the safe side. If you already have an emergency account, you have more flexibility with your funds. Look into options like IRAs, the stock market, and other investments to build your fortune!Tips and Tricks

Need a few tips and tricks from the experts? Here are a few other points to keep in mind:

While most financial planners recommend saving 20 percent of your paycheck, everyone is different. Learn how to calculate how much money you should save. Age plays a big factor in your saving strategy. While married couples have their own strategies for saving, find out how to save when you're single. If you're new to the savings game, you might want personalized help when getting started. Of course, your bank representatives are always happy to help, but why not try some of the latest money-saving apps on your smartphone? Cash Advance Get Started Now!
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What is Passive Income?

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If you're looking for ways to earn some extra cash, developing a stream of passive income is a great idea. But what is passive income - and what can it do for you? Passive income is a way to gain earnings without active participation. While there's no need to clock in or attend meetings to collect your cash, earning passive income isn't as simple as sitting on the couch and getting rich. Find out the top passive income ideas to set yourself up for a bright future!

Market Your Knowledge

Are you an expert with tons of valuable experience? Do you love to create content? Then you might want to consider making an information product. Information products include e-books, online classes, DVDs, and more. These products package your knowledge in an easy-to-digest format, so curious minds can learn from the best. After your product is on the market, you can kick back and enjoy the passive income that results with every sale. However, creating the product can be a challenge. Make sure you put your best face forward and create something you stand by, and buyers will take notice.

Rent Your Space

A spare property can yield quite a bit of money if you're open to renting out the space. From temporary rentals to long-term stays, rental income can be quite lucrative if you're willing to put forth a little effort. This is a particularly effective passive income stream if you live in a tourist-laden area. If you live in a sleepy town, the market might not be there. And while you can earn a tremendous amount of money as a landlord, you could also lose a lot if you run into the wrong tenants.

Use Your Social Media

Do you have a big following on social media? Consider affiliate marketing to earn some extra cash. When you engage in affiliate marketing, you promote a product with a link on your website. They benefit from your large following, and you get a kickback in the form of commission. The more traffic you get, the better this opportunity can be. But if you don't have the followers, you'll have to build up your base before considering this option. In the meantime, you can utilize your social media resources for other opportunities, like advertising information products or selling your stuff.

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Top Causes of Debt

Debt Avalanche

While most people have the best of intentions, debt can happen to the best of us. From simple overspending to financial fiascos, millions of Americans find themselves in debt every year. But there are ways to climb out of that hole and into a brighter future! In this guide, we’ll go over some of the top causes of debt and how to move on from financial stress. You’ll enjoy debt free living in no time with the right research and techniques!

Poor Money Management

You might be surprised how poor money management can eat away at your finances, no matter how much money you earn. One of the top ways to avoid debt is to avoid spending what you can’t afford to lose. That means keeping tabs on your household income, bank statements, credit card statements, and getting those bills under control. When you track the money coming into your life, you know how much extra cash you have to spend on fun stuff – so you won’t get a serious shock when you get the bill for that impromptu shopping spree!

Life Adjustments

Sometimes life throws curveballs at you that are difficult to predict. Unexpected medical expenses, divorce, unemployment, and other drastic life changes can change your household finances tremendously. While there’s no way to truly prepare for these events, we recommend taking inventory of your savings to stay debt-free. If you haven’t started saving for the future, there’s no time to start like the present. Most experts recommend saving six months worth of living expenses, but no amount is too small when you’re just getting started. Keep adding money to your savings to gradually build a nest egg.

Financial Literacy

Sometimes people have the income necessary to live a perfectly happy life, but poor financial literacy can lead them into a debt spiral. Think about your own financial literacy. Do you know how to do your taxes? Do you know how to balance a checkbook? Do you know when to spend or pay off debts? There's no need to feel self-conscious if you need some debt help, but the important thing is to gain the knowledge that you need to stay financially independent and debt-free. Consider looking for personal finance resources to keep you up-to-date on everything that you need to know. You can find plenty of great information through courses, books, and even online. Keep striving to learn from the best, and you'll learn how to pay off debt fast!

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What is a Savings Account?

Money Bag With Dollar Sign

Everyone knows that saving money is important, but not everyone knows how to start planning for the future. That's where your savings account comes in! What is a savings account, and why is it such a great way to build your future fortune? We're here to explain the benefits of savings in simple terms, so you can start collecting interest!

Why Should I Open a Savings Account?

Between checking accounts and retirement funds, you might feel like your paycheck is being split into a million pieces. So, why invest extra money into a savings account? Savings account interest typically pays more than a checking account, which means you get extra bang for your buck. The drawback is that you are limited in the number of transactions that you can perform every month, due to federal regulations. However, this can actually be a good thing for long-term savings. If you are building a rainy day fund, you'll feel less tempted to withdraw money for splurges with your funds in a savings account. And if you're trying to save money for a vacation or a downpayment, you can reach your goal faster from the higher interest accrued.

What is Interest?

When you open your bank account, you start earning interest - but what is it? Interest is the money that the bank gives you as an incentive to keep your money there. This is one way that different banks compete for your business, which is why it's such a good idea to shop around when deciding where to open your account. Additionally, there are two types of interest to consider: simple and compound. Simple interest is paid out based on the money that you originally had in the bank. Compound interest pays based on your original amount plus interest, which means you earn interest on your interest! Compound interest is more common, and also preferable if you want to earn money quickly.

What is the Best Savings Account?

While there is no best savings account for everyone, you can find the best savings account for your particular needs. Here are a few of the most common options:

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