How to Use Graduation Money Wisely

Credit Cards

When you have graduation money in the bank, it may be tempting to head on a shopping spree. And while every graduate deserves something special for completing such an important goal, we encourage you to think ahead! From college savings to dorm decor, you can put yourself in a great position for the future if you use that graduation money wisely.

Savings

Dropping your graduation money into a savings account may not be the most exciting option in the present, but this smart decision can be a major asset for the future. Consider stashing a portion of your grad cash into a savings account as a small nest egg for the future. You can use that money to cushion the blow if you run into financial mishaps, like unexpected car expenses or tuition hikes. Even a small rainy day fund can prevent major headaches in the future!

School Supplies

If you're college-bound, consider diverting some of that graduation money into your freshman year school supply fund. Get a head start on the crowd by looking for your books early. Used copies sell out fast, and you can save a lot of money by securing your reading list early. You might also think about upgrading your computer before you head out to college. Look for fast, dependable, and portable models over the latest fads. You'll spend countless hours behind that computer screen, so be sure to get one that you can count on.

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Types of Credit Cards: Which One is Right For You?

Credit Cards

There are many different types of credit cards out there. Which one should you choose? You never want to leave money on the table, and it’s easy to be swayed by the idea of airline points, cash back, or a free balance transfer. Take the time to understand the fine print and pick the one that’s best for what you need.

Travel and Airline Credit Cards

These are ideal for consumers who travel frequently. Narrow down the ones you’re looking at to the airlines you like to fly and where they travel, and then compare how points are earned, how many you need for a ticket, interest rates, and annual fees.

0% APR Credit Cards

If you’re in a situation where you need to make a large charge that you can’t pay off right away, a 0% APR credit card might be a good solution for you. These types of cards save money in finance charges because they offer zero percent interest for an introductory period.

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Jobs for Retirees to Earn Extra Cash

Job for retirees

If you’re retired or still in the planning stages, you may want to consider a part-time job to earn some extra cash, especially if you’re behind the eight ball in savings. There are plenty of jobs for retirees out there, and they come with more than financial benefits - they’re an outstanding way to keep your mind sharp and develop new relationships.

What Will Work For You?

Before you just go out and get a part-time job, think about your retirement situation and what you want out of it. Have you saved enough money? How many hours do you want to work per week? How much money do you want to make? What kind of responsibility level are you looking for? The more you can define this, the better. You want to look at the right types of positions, and there are a lot of options out there to choose from:

Full-time to Part-time

Sometimes companies don’t want to lose all the valuable knowledge and experience that a long-time employee has, and they’re willing to offer you a part-time or contract version of your old position.

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Questions to Ask When Hiring a Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor

Planning for retirement and investing wisely are goals most of us have, but where do you begin? Hiring a financial advisor is a smart first step. They’re trained to educate you and help you make the right decisions for your situation. But finding one you can trust isn’t necessarily easy. Before you sign on the dotted line, consider these important questions:

Who are They?

How did you hear about this financial advisor? Were you referred by someone you respect? Be wary of turning your funds over to someone you connected with through an Internet ad or telemarketing.

What’s Their Story?

Research your potential financial advisor on the Internet and LinkedIn. Where did they go to college? What’s their professional experience? Do you know any of their clients? Are they satisfied? How do they describe their services? Are they conservative, or are they promising astronomical results?

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Financial Advice to Avoid

Thief robbing dollars

You’re probably used to reading articles that give you tips and financial guidance, but here’s a new take on it all: financial advice to avoid. Well-meaning friends and relatives often give unsolicited input on how you should spend or invest your money, and it’s not always something you should follow. Here are some instances where you should walk, or maybe even run, away!

Hot Stock Tips

While someone may believe they have a hot tip to share, no one knows for sure whether a stock is going to go up in the short term. Even if the tipster has invested in it, do your own due diligence, and realize you’re probably not going to make money buying and selling stocks quickly. Stocks are more for the long view and your own personal investment plan.

Spec Ventures

Speculative ventures are just what they sound like: risky, unsubstantiated deals. Even if you see a business plan, there’s absolutely no assurance that the venture will succeed. Some startups or spec projects will prosper, but if you choose to get involved, make sure you go into it with your eyes open. If you’re going to invest in a spec project, it’s best to do it with money you can afford to lose - one of many investing mistakes to avoid.

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Gain the Skills You Need for Financial Success

Financial Success

Thinking about finances can be intimidating. Maybe financial success seems out of reach to you, or you don’t think of yourself as a math person. Never fear. You probably already have some of the qualities you need to get control of your financial world, and if you don’t, you can learn and start implementing them in your day-to-day life.

Organization

This is the #1 thing that can help you stay on top of things and plan for the future. Paying your bills late hikes up your expenses with fees and penalties and can add major stress to your life. Make a commitment to yourself to organize your bills, whether they arrive in the mail or via text or email. If you have a hard time remembering to pay bills, simply use an app to remind you or add alerts to your calendar. Online banking software can consolidate bills and deadlines and make your life easier.

Self-Control

Spending with discipline is probably even harder than staying organized. It takes a lot of willpower to stick to a budget. But self-control encompasses even more than that: if you can understand how you relate to money and finances psychologically, than you can use coping strategies to help keep your behavior in check. Did you grow up poor? You might be a compulsive spender as an adult. Do you buy things and never take the price tags off? It might be a good idea to disable your password or one-click ordering capabilities. Take a hard look at what habits might be keeping you from working toward your long-term goals. Work extras into your budget so you don’t feel too restricted.

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How to Make Good Financial Decisions

Light bulb and brain

Choices. Decisions. We’re faced with them every day, especially when it comes to money. Most people struggle with how to make good financial decisions, and while some of us may begin with more advantages than others, our financial journey depends on what kind of decisions we make.

Think

Stop and think. That’s some of the best free advice you’ll ever get. You might be mulling over purchasing a new home, or just throwing something into your grocery cart, but you should always be thinking. Do I really need that? What are the pros and cons here? What’s the upside? What’s the worst thing that can happen as a result of my decision? There are many psychological elements that affect the way we make financial decisions, and they include aspirations, social status, and confusing wants with needs.

Live in the Past

If you feel like you can never get ahead, maybe it’s because as your income increases, you simply spend more, so it never feels any different. Try living like you used to a few years ago. Don’t trade up to a new car just because you want to. If you get a raise, funnel the increase directly into savings or an investment account. If you want to splurge, stop and think about whether you could have afforded it last year and if you think you could afford it next year. Do you need it, or do you just want it? It just comes down to something you probably already know: if you spend everything you make, it doesn’t matter how much you make!

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Financial Help for Veterans

Financial Help for Veterans

Before you make any big financial moves, wait! Did you know that there are many opportunities for financial help for veterans? Whether you're applying for a home loan or entering college, you might be surprised to learn just how many benefits you can explore as someone who has served our country. In this guide, we'll walk you through some of the most important benefits - and where you can go to research other financial opportunities for the future!

Researching Veteran Benefits

Did you know that nearly 60 percent of veterans don't know what benefits they have earned? While anyone can get quick financial help with resources like cash advances and loans, veterans are entitled to many unique benefits that are worth investigating. Luckily, it's easy to find the financial help that you deserve. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs provides a comprehensive list of veteran benefits, from loans to medical assistance, so you can find the information that you need quickly. This website is a great place to conduct research, while also learning everything you need to apply for each application. Not only can you find information for yourself, but the website also includes a section on how to help homeless veterans in need.

Taxes

Veterans may be eligible for a number of tax benefits that you might not expect, so a little research may pay off in a big way.

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Combining Finances after Marriage

Combining Finances after Marriage

While managing finances as an individual can be challenging enough, adding another person into the mix can make things even more confusing. However, combining finances after marriage has plenty of advantages if you think strategically. Communication and planning are key measures to ensuring a solid financial future for both of you, and the first step is to do your research. Check out our guide below, and learn how to combine your finances in a way that works well for both of you.

Pros and Cons

Combining finances after marriage can be complicated. Instead of dealing with one set of investments and debts, now you have two sets to handle. This can be a good and bad thing. If one partner has a great deal of credit card debt, for example, the responsibility is now on both partners in the relationship. However, merging assets can also be a benefit. Maybe one partner is a perpetual saver and the other is a pro at managing credit. You can figure out ways to use each others' strengths in a way that lifts you both up.

When to Start Planning

If you're in the middle of planning your wedding, financial planning may not be on the forefront of your mind. But, many couples start the process long before the big day. It's important to sit down to talk about financial concerns - especially for engaged, married, and cohabiting couples. The more you know about your money situation, the better off you'll be.

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Learn Tips and Tricks for Cutting Car Costs

Cutting Car Costs

Auto expenses make up a huge percent of your annual budget. In fact, some experts estimate that car costs take up 15 percent of the average American's yearly spending! That's why it's so crucial to learn the best practices for cutting car costs. Between maintenance fees and gas prices, you can really save a bundle if you know how to scrimp!

Efficient Driving

Do you know how to get the most out of every drop of that fuel tank? Improving your driving efficiency can have a big impact on your fuel economy over time. Try a few of these mileage-boosting tips:

  • The lighter your car, the better your fuel economy. Streamline your vehicle by cleaning up the trunk and cabin.
  • Change your oil regularly to ensure that your engine works at peak efficiency.
  • Keep your tires inflated to the right pressure, so your car doesn't have to work as hard during the commute.
  • Roll your windows up on the highway to cut down on drag, but feel free to roll down the window and turn off the air conditioner to save fuel in the city.

Insurance

When was the last time you shopped around for car insurance? You may find that your needs have changed over time. If you've downgraded your luxury vehicle to an older sedan, do you still need the most expensive collision insurance? Speak with your agent about your options. Also, many insurers offer discounts periodically. Don't miss out on a chance to save some cash!

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