If you have a large amount of debt, you’re not alone. Statistics say that many people are living with debts. But the truth is, no matter the situation you’re in, you can get out of it, invest, and make more money. Just make a decision then plan wisely. Having an appropriate plan will help an individual get out of debt quickly and take control of their finances. That said here is how individuals can get started. [Read more…]
Depending on your circumstances, you may see bridging loans to be an affordable and accessible financing option when it comes to dealing with properties. They refer to a type of loan that allows clients to purchase a new house while they’re still in the process of paying and, later on, selling an existing home. Because of this, bridging loans have become a popular method of funding a property purchase.
If you haven’t heard much about bridging loans, let’s take a look at how these loans can become beneficial for your financial needs.
- Quick To Arrange
Gaining access to a significant amount of money can sometimes require a few weeks or months. This setup, for instance, is typical to business loans and other residential mortgages. So, if you’re looking forward to borrowing money in the quickest way possible, then a bridging loan can be an ideal choice. So long as you have adequate equity in the property and a few properties for security, the loan you’ve applied for will be there in your account in less than 48 hours.
- All Types Of Property As A Security
Another essential benefit of applying for bridging loans is the type of property you can use as security. Whether you have flats, shops, development land, offices, farms, commercial units, and many more, you can utilize all of these properties to secure a bridging loan and think about how you can get the most out of the money for your financial needs. In short, this type of loan doesn’t require any specific property before you can get approved and enjoy its benefits.
- Unlimited Potential Applications
In addition to properties as a security, a bridging loan comes with limitless potential applications. While most conventional banks and lenders pay attention to the intended purpose of a loan, it’s different when it comes to bridging loans.
With this type of loan, you can use it for whatever purpose you like. All you have to do is prove your ability to pay back the loan, and your application will go smoothly without giving justification to it.
If you find yourself needing a bridging loan to cover a particular purpose, many private lenders like www.novellusbridging.co.uk in the UK and other places can help you.
- No Need For Monthly Payments
Typically, bridging loans don’t require monthly payments during the first few months. Thus, the entire process becomes easier since you don’t need to fret about your monthly payments along with your other expenses.
Moreover, a bridging loan can also provide you with adequate time to sell your existing home and pay off your loan, again without worrying about the monthly payments. This is what makes this type of loan a flexible funding option these days.
- Low Fees And Interest Rates
By its very nature, a bridging loan seems to be more affordable than the loans and mortgages offered by traditional lenders. Since the loan will be completely paid off within a few months, you can be sure that you’re not going to pay annual or monthly interest rates and other fees.
- Security Over Properties In A State Of Neglect
As mentioned, all types of properties can be used to secure a bridging loan. However, one other good thing about this type of financing option is its ability to accept real estate properties that are in a state of neglect. Even if your existing properties are in urgent need of repair, applying for a bridging loan allows you to use them to secure a loan. This is another benefit that this type of loan has over traditional ones.
If you need funds to shoulder your personal expenses, a bridging loan can be the best solution. Just keep these benefits in mind so you’ll know what to expect when applying for this type of finance. Lastly, find time to shop around and compare all your options before diving into your first loan.
Since this site is primarily geared towards finances, I wanted to write a reflection about my own personal struggles with financial matters.
I might toss a few other non-finance related items in there as well, but we’ll see.
I’ve been duped
There are two instances that come to mind, where I learned the hard way about investing/handling money.
The first is from early childhood when Pokemon was all the rage. This one day, a kid from the neighborhood wanted to sell me some cards of his. I ran home, opened my piggy bank and took out $5.
I ran back to the kid and bought one card with that $5 bill. I later found out that you can get a big deck of cards for that much. I’d be swindled.
Fast forward several years. I’m in high school now. This infomercial came on with a guy raving about how much money he made using Google search. Specifically, Google Adwords.
All you had to do was pay for the program. Said program would walk you through the steps to setting up a website (I now know the site was to be an affiliated sales rep).
A $90 lesson. But mistakes are made so we can learn from them.
Young and dumb
Before I begin this section, you need to know that I did not know I was going to be a financial advisor, and financial education was limited in my household and was not taught in schools (unfortunately, very common).
That said, I made pretty typical mistakes. Got a credit card, and another, and another. I had spent too much money that I didn’t have and I’m still paying the price for it.
So when I talk about getting out of debt and using a credit card wisely, it’s because I learned first hand the negatives of using it irresponsibly.
More often than not, when individuals make financial mistakes, it’s on the personal finance side of things. Things like saving money, debt management, budgets, etc. Get those things down, the rest takes care of itself.
One part of my finances where I continually struggle is my budget. Very specifically, it’s one particular item, and that’s eating out. I am a sucker, no doubt, for restaurants. Whether that’s drive-thru or a sit-down place. It just takes all the hassle out of preparing a meal.
As good as it is sometimes, it’s also costly. My resolution was to actually include restaurant spending on my budget. I gave myself $50 for the month for take-out. This limits how much I actually spend and also scratches my itch for eating food outside of my home.
If there is an item you know you’ll spend money on, put it in your budget.
Related reading: Your Go-To Budget Guide
On the more personal side of things, it’s been a pretty challenging year for me. Had a mental health diagnosis that created some hurdles for me to jump through. As I write, I’m still jumping through these hurdles, but I’m starting to see the benefits of doing so.
By hurdles, I’m referring to medications and therapy. As well as things I can do on my own time, like exercise, journaling, and meditation.
Those last three items have been difficult for me to do consistently, but when I actually do them, I feel much better.
Another challenge of mine is that I am in the middle of a divorce. This has been incredibly difficult. It’s caused a lot of anger, sadness, doubt, among many other emotions.
What it did, however, was it forced me to turn the microscope inward and figure out the parts of me I don’t like, the parts of me I do like, and the past experiences that shaped me and the lessons to take away from those experiences to continue to grow.
With all of the battles I’ve fought this year and as taxing as this year has been, it’s also been one of the more life-changing periods in my life.
For me, it was extremely difficult to look inside myself and analyze what makes me, me, but I’m glad I did it. It’s given me a better understanding of who I am, how I function, and what I can do to continue to grow and improve.
It’s given me the tools I never thought I would have. It’s helped me be a better parent. I’ve been able to focus more on the things that matter. And I’ve been able to be more present and limit the amount of forecasting I do for the future. (Don’t worry. On the finance side, I’m still looking ahead).
My advice to you is to just keep moving forward. At times, life is stuff. Navigating your finances can be challenging, but we, as humans, are resilient creatures.
Your money philosophy and how you think about your finances make a big difference in the decisions you make.
Whether you’re just starting your financial journey or you’re well into it, it’s a good idea to take a step back and define that philosophy.
Money is a tool
Sure, there are monetary goals you would like to achieve. For example, $1 million nest egg has long been touted as the number you need to hit for a comfortable retirement, but hitting, somewhat, arbitrary numbers aren’t everything.
Money is a tool. If used properly, you really can achieve financial success. Taking the money you’ve saved and putting it to work for you is a very simple, yet effective way to use it.
Another monetary tool is a credit card. Credit cards offer a variety of reward programs, like travel miles, cashback, among others. Additionally, it enables you to build and strengthen your credit report.
It is important, however, that if you are using a credit card, you must do so responsibly. Accumulating credit card debt can really set you back, financially.
Related reading: A Deep Dive Into Credit Cards
Focus on the solution, not the problem
Often times, we focus too much on the issues with our finances. I have too much debt, I have too little saved for retirement, or my expenses are killing my ability to save.
Instead of focusing on the problem, focus on what can be done to fix it.
If you have too much debt, develop a plan to pay it down. If your retirement savings are low, figure out how you can increase your savings rate. Expenses hurting your ability to save, cut your expenses.
“Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.” Tina Fey
Related reading: How To Cut Spending
Money using emotional bandwidth
It is true that money is relatively important. I say relatively to try and redirect to my first point when I mentioned that money is to be used as a tool.
It affords you food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to live, among other things. If your basic needs are met and future goals are being worked towards, you have to try and stop worrying that you don’t have enough.
This is extremely challenging to do because we, as a society, are so fixated on money and material items that money can buy. It also doesn’t help that comparing ourselves to others is essentially baked into our DNA.
Believe me, I know that learning to stop worrying is incredibly difficult, but retraining your brain to view your finances differently can be extremely liberating.
Related reading: The Psychology Of Money
To be a successful investor or to be able to financially plan effectively, you have to think long term.
The market is going to have its ups and downs. As an investor, it’s important to ride out those down periods and continue to invest. If you have 15+ years until you need that money, you should be able to recoup your losses.
With regard to saving, I typically take the “bucket” approach. I have three buckets, short-term, medium-term, and long-term. Be advised: the following is how I define these time horizons.
- The short-term bucket is for items under 5 years away. For example, when I want certain debts paid off or a down payment for a house.
- Medium-term is anything 5-15 years away. The main one in this category is my son’s college savings.
- Long-term is retirement savings, exclusively.
Related reading: How To Make Long-Term Investing Decisions
Buying experiences versus buying stuff
Money to a certain extent can buy happiness. As long as it’s being spent on experiences rather than stuff.
Memories with family and friends, visiting different destinations and attractions are the things we’ll cherish most.
Stuff breaks and toys are outgrown. What people won’t forget, however, is the time you spent with them.
Make that a priority. I know, as a fairly new parent (my son is almost 2), that I am constantly aware of how finite time is and that I need to make the most of those moments I spend with him.
The way you think about money pulls weight in how you use it. When creating a financial plan, I would prioritize figuring that out. How you think can lead to how you act.
Questions are a fantastic way to understand things better. They are vitally important in our everyday lives.
One area where I think they are underutilized is personal finance.
You NEED to ask yourself questions on the regular so you can discern if you are doing the right things and taking the correct steps for YOU.
In the following article, we’re going to explore the various questions you need to ask yourself in order to be financially effective.
What is my goal with money?
This is a fairly general question, so we’ll break it down into three buckets: short term, medium-term, and long term.
- Short-term (Under 2 years) – If you are saving for a short-term goal, what is it? A vacation? Down payment on a house? No matter the goal, that money will be used soon so the best place for it is in a savings account.
- Medium-term (2-10 years) – This could be anything from a down payment for a house to saving for your kids’ college education. What you do in the interim depends on when you’ll need it and the goal you are saving for. If it’s less than 5 years, I’d still recommend a savings account or short-term bonds. Something that can earn you a little interest, but is still relatively safe. That 5-10 year period depends on the goal. If there’s a particular dollar amount you need to it (down payment, for instance) I’d go no more than moderately aggressive. You want to earn a little, but you don’t want that saved amount to go under what you need.
- Long-term (10+ years) – Most often, a goal that’s over 10 years away can be invested in the stock market, though the percentage of your assets that’s actually in the market depends on the risks you are willing to take and when you need to access those funds.
Related reading: Financial planning for all ages
How much am I willing to lose before I sell?
I almost always propose this question to new clients because it gives me a good understanding of their risk tolerance.
If they are only comfortable with losing 10 percent of their portfolio, they’ll be invested pretty conservatively.
On the other hand, if they can tolerate a 50 percent drawdown and not bat an eye, then we can “put the pedal to the floor”, excuse the expression.
Determine how much of a loss you can stomach and that will give you a good idea of how to allocate your assets.
Related reading: Are you taking on too much investment risk?
How long will it take to adjust my allocations?
Questions regarding asset allocation, typically, pertain to risk and time horizon. For example, if you start saving for retirement when you’re 25, the majority of your portfolio will be in equities (stocks).
This allocation, generally speaking, is suitable for you for a couple of decades. At which point, you’ll probably (again, speaking generally) want to shift a little more of your portfolio to bonds.
Your allocation will, and should, shift over time, and once you get within a few years of your goal, the primary objective of your portfolio becomes capital preservation.
Related reading: Why asset allocation matters
Are my actions suitable for my current financial situation?
Financial situation takes everything into consideration (income, debt, spending, savings, etc.) Actions can be anything related to those items.
Specifically what I’m talking about is how much you are saving, how much you are spending, and how much $ you’ve dedicated to paying down debt.
If you have a sizeable amount of debt and not a whole lot of savings, it’s time to cut your spending. Conversely, if you’ve paid down your debt and are ahead of the game with your savings, it would be alright if you loosened up a little and enjoy yourself.
Like everything in life, your personal finances are a delicate balancing act, and when you ask questions, you can figure out how to shift your priorities.
How is my money being spent?
Kind of related to the last point. Tracking your spending to find out exactly where all of your dollars are going is an important step.
Another recommendation I usually make is to create a financial playbook. Here’s a brief outline of how I create a financial playbook:
- Big picture – List all assets and liabilities. How much you have saved and how much debt you have.
- List your necessary expenses – These are things that you have to pay (rent, utilities, transportation, food, minimum debt payments, etc.)
- List your monthly income
- Total up your monthly necessary expenses and your monthly income and see how much you have leftover. What’s leftover will help you discern what to do with it.
- I would list another line item for “fun,” though I would keep it to a minimum.
- What’s left after fun should be saved and used on debt.
Related reading: How to cut your spending
As I said in the beginning, questions help us understand the world, and ourselves, better.
Having a better grasp on why and when we make certain changes or do certain things is a must if we are to be more effective in managing our finances.
Establish an emergency fund, pay down debt, save for retirement, and grow your wealth! Much of your financial life is focused on the things you should do.
However, what I think to be more important are the things you shouldn’t do!
There’s been a lot of literature/news over the last few years about how much of a problem student loan debt is. As of 2018, total student loan debt was $1.47 trillion. With a T! (Source)
That said, here are some things you should avoid.
- Taking on too much – Some degrees/professions require a lot of schooling, which can lead to large amounts of student loan debt. And I don’t mean to speak ill of any degrees/professions, but if your desired career requires a “basic” 4-year degree, it’s probably best to find an in-state university to cut costs. Better yet, start at a local 2-year university or tech school until your Gen. Eds. are complete, then transfer.
- Not having a plan for after – I think this is a common fear for Millennials and Gen Z, but you have so much time to figure things out. Don’t just go to college to get a degree. If you need time, take time. Once you figure out what you want, determine what you need to do to get there.
- Not researching options – There are SO many student loan options. Depending on what type of loan you choose (private or public), you could have a wide range of payback methodologies. I wrote about student loan options and payback options in two previous posts. Check them out!
There are two BIG problems with credit cards. People who use them irresponsibly and people who don’t use them at all.
- Using irresponsibly – This one pretty much speaks for itself. This pertains to people who spend way more than they ought to. A good rule of thumb is to only buy something using a credit card if you have the funds readily available to pay the balance off. Don’t have the money, don’t put it on the card. Doing so will cost you in interest and can really set you back.
- Not using at all – Better than the first point, but still not great. Using a credit card can help your financial situation if you use it correctly. Most of them have rewards of some sort. It’s another credit account on your report. Charging and paying off right away establishes a good payment history. All good things for your credit score.
No emergency fund
Establishing an emergency fund is Step 1. If you don’t have money set aside for unexpected expenses, you’ll have to charge it. This leads to the point above about irresponsible use.
Save $1,000 for emergencies, turn your attention to high-interest debt (credit cards), and then shift your focus back to your emergency fund once that debt is paid off.
- Paying bills late – Not paying your bills on time, especially ones shown on your credit report is a big mistake. The #1 factor in calculating your credit score is payment history. Paying ONE bill late will knock your score down. Just one. Don’t do it.
- Spending too much – (See irresponsible credit card use) This is especially harmful if you frivolously spend BEFORE taking care of important “budget items”. Things like saving, debt payments, and bills.
- Being too frugal – Though frugality is helpful in building wealth, it can also hurt you. There comes a point when you are too frugal. A vital life skill is doing things in moderation. If you pinch pennies and forego rewarding yourself, you run the risk of breaking the bank on a “bender”.
- Waiting – I cannot stress enough the importance of investing early. What helps you make the most of your retirement savings is compound interest. The more time you have to invest, the more compound interest works in your favor.
- Panic selling – This is a timely point since the market dropped almost 5 percent in the last week. Selling out of fear is always bad. More often than not, when you “panic sell,” you’ve already experienced the majority of the drawdown. Now, this depends on your particular situation, but it behooves you to stay invested during that period.
- Using generalities when setting up an investment plan – Your investment plan needs to reflect your goals, risk tolerance, time horizon, and behavior. Using generalities is good for someone who writes about this stuff, but it’s not good for YOU. Your plan has to be tailored to YOU.
Life and Wealth
- Sticking with a job you hate – Sometimes money and comfort makes us do things we don’t want to do. Being unhappy at your job is not worth it. It’s important, however, to thoroughly think through this decision. Quitting is tough, but if your family counts on you for income, you need to have a plan in place before you jump ship.
- Comparing yourself to others – I’m going to encourage you to develop a new mindset because society taught us that wealth looks like fancy cars and big houses. I want you to think about stealth wealth. It’s probably my most favorite phrase/term. Someone with stealth wealth lives within their means. They live in a modest home, drive a car for transportation only, but saves more than the average person. They don’t “look” wealthy, but their retirement account says otherwise.
Your credit score is extremely important, nowadays. It determines whether or not you qualify for other credit accounts, and if so, what terms. It plays a factor in where you live, and it can even impact job opportunities.
That said, it’s crucial you do everything you can to improve and keep your score high.
What impacts your score?
There are five factors that play a role in calculating your credit score. They are listed below with percentages to discern how big of a role each one plays.
- Payment history (35%) – How frequently do you make on-time payments. This number should be 100%
- Credit utilization (30%) – How much credit have you used compared to how much you have available. For example, if you have $20,000 of credit available and used $5,000, you have a utilization rate of 25%. Credit rating agencies want to see it below 30%, but the lower, the better.
- Credit age (15%) – How old are your current credit accounts? The older, the better. This means that every time you open a new credit account, your credit age drops.
- Types of credit (10%) – Credit cards, loans, student loans, etc. Variety helps here.
- Number of credit inquiries (10%) – Hard credit inquiries negatively affect your score. Like the utilization, low numbers are better.
What hurts your score
There are a few things that negatively impact your score. I’ll list the bad things from the list above, then I’ll list a few others.
- Poor payment history – If your payment history is below 100%, you’re already starting from behind. Anything under 100% gets notched down.
- High utilization rate – As I said, rating agencies want to see utilization rates under 30%, so anything over that will bring your score down.
- Low credit age – Older accounts are better for your score
- Only one type of credit account
- A large number of credit inquiries
- Bankruptcy – Negatively affects your credit score and stays on your credit report for 10 years.
- Liens and judgments taken out against you – Negatively affects your score and stays on your report for 7 years
Starting from a low score
If you are starting from a lower score, it could be from past experiences (bankruptcy or liens), and if that’s the case, you can only improve. Unfortunately, time is your enemy right now until those drop off.
The first place I would start is to pay off your current debt. If you don’t have any open credit accounts, the next step is to open one.
Individuals with low scores will have trouble opening credit accounts, so I would start with a secured credit card.
A secured credit card is like a regular one, except you establish the credit limit with a deposit. The amount of your deposit is the amount of your limit.
This is a slow and steady way to improve your payment history and show the credit rating agency that you’re responsible.
Current credit accounts
Speaking generally, I advise people to keep their credit accounts open. The one exception is you do plan on closing a credit account, make it one you recently set up.
Getting rid of a new account will increase your credit age, which should increase your score.
New credit accounts
If you’re looking to increase your score, I’d recommend abstaining from opening any new accounts, unless you’re someone that needs to open that secured credit card to rebuild your score.
The other two exceptions would be opening an account for a credit card balance transfer or a personal loan for debt consolidation.
Opening new accounts hurt twice. One, you effectively lower your credit age. And two, when you apply for a credit account, it counts as a hard credit inquiry.
Don’t do it unless you have to, and if the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term penalties.
Pay down debts
Paying down debt is a slow way to improve your credit score, but it’s a tremendous way to improve your finances overall.
Less debt means less money needed to service that debt. Less debt means a lower utilization rate (number 2 factor).
Also, when you make debt payments [on time], you’re strengthening your payment history (number 1 factor).
I recently wrote an article, linked here, about paying down debts. Give it a read. In that article, you’ll also find helpful resources on similar topics.
The last thing I would do is check to make sure your utility provider (for me, my local municipality has its own utility company) is listed on your credit report.
My previous utility company (WE Energies) did come up on my credit report. It’s another “credit type” and another way to strengthen your payment history.
- A Guide to Credit Tradelines: What Do They Actually Do For Your Score?
- What Hurts Your Score? 10 Things That Can Really Affect Your Rating
- What You Need To Know About Bankruptcy
Do you know what could really help you reach your financial goals? Answer: If you had more money to work with! Cutting your spending is an integral part of your finances.
I’m not saying you need to cut out the things you love (insert Starbucks coffee, avocado toast, etc.). I’m saying you need to splurge on those things wisely, either by reducing their frequency or cutting out something else.
Let’s figure out ways we can cut our spending.
How are you supposed to know what to cut spending on if you don’t know where your money is going?
Go back a few months and look for a “pattern.” Where is all of your money going? Bills, housing, transportation, debt payments, etc. are in their own category. Everything else that’s not considered necessary spending (minus groceries) goes in the discretionary spending category. Everything else that’s not considered necessary spending (minus groceries) goes in the discretionary spending category. Keep in mind, things will change if you’re living in an affordable city like Columbus, Ohio, rather than an expensive place like New York City.
This discretionary spending is what you need to pay attention to.
Grocery spending is necessary, but the amount can vary. Figure out what you typically spend, each month, on groceries and determine if that amount can be lowered. More often than not, it can. Just don’t go hungry.
Budget (and budget alternative)
The classic budget lists the necessary expenses (housing, groceries, debt, utilities, savings, and other bills). You then assign dollar amounts for other “unnecessary” expenses (take-out, clothes, etc.).
The dollar amount is what you’d like to spend on that item/category, and not go over. The purpose of a budget is to come to a total expenditure that’s less than your monthly income.
My approach is similar. I list the necessary expenses (excluding debt payments and savings). Just the things I need to pay (housing, streaming, utilities, insurance, and transportation).
Next is my grocery budget. This is a necessary expense, but I try to keep it relatively low. Between my son and I, the limit is $300 per month. Then I list debt payments and savings.
I calculated how much I needed to pay per month to pay off my debt by a certain date. My savings is automated and partitioned.
I have one savings account for emergencies, one for car repairs, one for holiday spending, and one for vacations. Once a week, money is automatically transferred from my checking to each savings account.
The amount of each transfer is less mathematical and is more about comfort. My retirement savings is done right away at the beginning of the month so I don’t have the chance to spend it away.
Whatever remains is mine to do with as I please.
No spend days
Have one day per week or a few days per month where you don’t spend any money.
I’ve seen some people go as far as having a no spend week! Implement these days at your discretion because obviously, you’ll still want to pay your bills and such.
Another cool idea is to restrict paying for certain items during particular times of the year. For example, you don’t buy any clothes during the month of September, or you don’t have any take-out/restaurant food in April.
With smartphones, applying coupons to your purchases has never been easier. I use coupons.com. You can save which coupons apply to you and they can be scanned at checkout. From your smartphone!
Also, wherever you do your shopping, make sure you are a member/rewards member. There’s usually a sale for members. Excluding paid memberships (like Costco), being a rewards member is free and can save you money.
By the way, it costs money to shop at Costco, but their goods are very reasonably priced. They make their money on the memberships, and they sell all of their goods at cost. That means they sell a product at whatever price they paid to get it in the store.
Use price per unit/item
When you are making a decision about how much of something you need to buy, always use price per unit as your factor. The overall price of something may look less expensive than the bulk item, and it is at the time of purchase, but more often than not, the price per unit is lower for the bulk item.
It’ll cost you more when you check out, but through time, you’ll spend less money.
Quick hacks to cut expenses
- Negotiate a lower interest rate on your credit cards
- Balance transfer to 0% introductory APR
- Personal loan to lower average credit card APR
- Unplug unused electrical devices
- Cancel unused subscriptions
- Reduce entertainment expenses
- Carpool to work
- Keep tires properly inflated (better gas mileage)
- Use LED light bulbs
- Use a programmable thermostat
- Lower the temperature on your hot water heater
- Eat at home more/eat out less
- Buy generic
Achieving financial success doesn’t have to be difficult and boring, though it does take some discipline. Small rewards are important. Without them, you’ll go crazy!
Cut the fat off of your budget, and you’ll see how much better it feels to make significant progress in your financial life.
Don’t you hate it when you Google financial planning tips, and it spits out articles that don’t apply to you? This could be because you’re a different age than the article is directed towards or you’re in a different position.
Well, look no further. I’ve created a rough outline of how you can plan, regardless of your age or situation.
But I’ll be honest with you, a lot of this article will link to resources or previous articles that explain these topics in more detail, but I wanted to create a rough outline of how people in different age groups can plan.
Ideally, you want to get a budget started, but nobody likes doing that. Instead, give your money a job. Figure out when you would like to have your debt paid off, then do the math to determine how much per month you need to pay.
List that payment plus housing, transportation, food, and other bills. That total tells you how much MUST go out, everything else is extra to do what you please.
In terms of saving for retirement, you have a lot of time to put money away, but if you start sooner, you’ll have to save less later. 10% of your salary is a good goal. If you can’t get there just yet, save what you can, but try to incrementally increase it over time.
Investment allocation here, as well as in your thirties and forties, should primarily be stocks. Not 100%, but definitely the majority of what you own.
The financial plan in your thirties is similar to the one in your twenties. Pay down debt and save for retirement. However, at this point, you probably have more assets and you may have some children as well.
With the cost of tuition constantly rising, saving for their future education costs is important. The 529 is the most popular, and probably the best vehicle available to do just that. (Be advised: 529 plans do involve risk so please talk to your financial advisor prior to investing)
With more assets and children, comes more insurance. Make sure your property and belongings are adequately protected. Additionally, if your children depend on your income for support, life insurance and disability insurance are a must!
Same story, different decade. Pay down (off) debt, save for retirement, and make sure you have adequate insurance. (Honestly, the save more, pay down debt, and have insurance is a great catch-all financial plan).
At this point, however, your retirement plans should become more detailed and concrete. Through your twenties and thirties, retirement planning essentially was just saving for retirement.
Now you should think about where you live and what you’ll do. You should also calculate if you’re on track and increase your savings if you’re behind.
Hopefully, by the end of this decade, your debt will be mostly paid off, you have a good idea of what retirement will look like, and you’ve determined what needs to be done (if anything) for you to hit your target number.
As you age through your fifties, you should start thinking about adjusting your investment allocation. You don’t have as much time to gain back what you lose during a down market.
Reallocating to a 60/40 or 50/50 (stocks/bonds), depending upon your risk appetite, is a good way to reduce your risk and still participate in a bull market.
Where you are at this stage in life depends on a few factors. Have you saved enough to live comfortably in retirement? Do you enjoy what you do? Are you healthy? Plans for Social Security?
If you haven’t saved enough, then you’ll probably have to work a little longer so you can save more. If you like what you do, then why not continue if you are able? If you don’t, consider a career change or (if you’ve saved enough) volunteering for a cause that’s meaningful to you.
If you are healthy, I recommend staying active and social as long as you can. Activity and a healthy social life are two of the three important variables for a fulfilling retirement.
Social Security and when to receive it is a huge decision. Obviously, I’m going to recommend waiting as long as you can so you receive a higher monthly benefit, but there are other things to consider.
Are you healthy? What’s your family history like? Do you have adequate savings/retirement income from other sources?
Health and family history help determine longevity. Poor health and/or poor family history may give you a reason to start receiving earlier.
There are calculators out the web (like this one here) that can help you discern what’s the best strategy for you. That’s to say, how do you optimize your Social Security and other retirement income so you receive the most possible?
We’re living longer, healthier lives now, and down the road, the retirement age will probably make its way into the seventies.
If you have to work for the income, you’re not alone. As of 2017, the percentage of the population that are 70 or older and still working was 19%. Up from 11% in 1994. (Source)
My recommendation. Develop an income strategy that will a) afford you to live a somewhat comfortable lifestyle (obviously, cutbacks are necessary if money is tight) and b) help your savings last as long as possible.
There are a variety of calculators out there to help figure this out.
Financial planning is tough. As I said in the beginning, not many like to budget, so it’s important to give your money a job. $100 goes towards emergency savings, $1,000 to retirement, and $250 for debt repayment.
Do this, along with several of the other items I listed (as well as the ones linked below) and you’ll do just fine.
Helpful articles and resources:
- Why Asset Allocation Matters
- What You Need To Do Before Retirement
- How To Invest During Retirement
- Retirement Series Wrap-Up
- Diving Deep Into Debt
When was the last time you exercised, had your furnace worked on, or had your oil changed? Performing regular maintenance, in any part of your life, can be quite annoying at times, but it can really make a difference.
The difference can come in the form of money saved, longevity, and/or decreased stress. That said, let’s look into why maintenance is important.
As a nation, the United States is unhealthy. We put junk food into our bodies and lead a sedentary lifestyle that is causing more problems than gaining weight.
Not only is physical exercise good for your body, with benefits like preventing bone loss, increasing muscle strength, improving coordination and balance, and reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, but it also helps your mind.
Just over half of all Americans are meeting the physical aerobic exercise requirement (Source). The requirement is either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Not a lot, right?
Americans spend $3.4 trillion per year on healthcare (Source), and I believe this number could drop dramatically if we all just took better care of ourselves.
Bottom line, regular exercise, and a well-balanced diet can (depending on other genetic risk factors, etc.) can dramatically reduce your long-term healthcare costs.
Regular maintenance of your home has a number of benefits.
- It saves you money because all the mechanical components are running optimally. Efficient use of utilities is less expensive. It also increases the longevity of that equipment.
- Maximizes your home’s value and resale potential
- Peace of mind knowing your home is well-cared for. Stress has negative health effects. Reducing it can improve your health and lower healthcare-related costs.
Keeping your car in optimal running condition will extend its life. It also makes the vehicle more safe to operate because the odds that something breaks while driving is reduced.
A poorly tuned vehicle can use up to 50% more fuel (Source). Spending $50-$100 every three months on an oil change is definitely worth it.
For example, let’s say you fill up once per week at $25. Over a three month period, you’d normally spend $325 on gas. If you’re driving a poorly tuned vehicle, you’ll spend $487.50. Over 1 year, that’s a difference of over $600.
Creating a budget and regularly checking in to make sure that a) you’re sticking with it and b) it’s still appropriate.
Often when people start budgeting, they find themselves with more money to play with. If they have outstanding debt, they can use that extra money to pay it off.
This could free up more cash that can be used for saving, investing, or getting that cable TV back.
Another thing you should do is cut or eliminate expenses that are otherwise unnecessary. The average American spends almost half of their food budget on eating out (Source).
This section will revolve around asset allocation and not about picking stocks and the like, specifically, in ones’ retirement plan.
If you have a retirement plan (you really should) my advice is to allocate your assets according to your risk tolerance, time horizon, and comfort level (from a psychological perspective).
If you have a retirement plan through your employer, I strongly recommend utilizing a target-date fund. This takes the worry and the guesswork out of the equation.
Where was I, oh yeah, asset allocation? Unless we’re in a bear market, your stock allocation will do better than your bond allocation.
Over time, the stock part of your portfolio will take up a larger share of your overall portfolio. It’s wise to regularly (though opinions differ) to rebalance back to your original allocation, otherwise, you risk being more aggressive than you intended.
Whether you’re talking about your home, car, or anything else, regular maintenance can save you a lot of money.
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