Financial Planning: Most Popular Articles
Budget worksheet form for setting up your personal budget
For most people, a car is a necessity. We often depend on our vehicles to get us to and from work every day, transport children to events, and even for pleasure. Because they are such an important aspect of your life, you want a vehicle that is reliable, comfortable, and maybe even a bit stylish. The vehicle choices are almost endless, so finding the right combination of wants and needs with an affordable price tag can be challenging.
Creating a budget may not sound like the most exciting thing in the world to do but it is vital in keeping your financial house in order. Before you begin to create your budget it is important to realize that in order to be successful you have to provide as much detailed information as possible. Ultimately the end result will be able to show where your money is coming from, how much is there and where it is all going.
Top Ten Financial Tips: Keys to Financial Success
When deciding to get engaged, you’ll surely have a lot running through your mind, but putting yourself into debt by buying an overpriced engagement ring shouldn’t be one of them. Some people still go by the old “two month’s salary” standard, but that surely isn’t necessary.
Budgeting lies at the foundation of every financial plan. It doesn’t matter if you’re living paycheck to paycheck or earning six-figures a year, you need to know where your money is going if you want to have a handle on your finances. Unlike what you might believe, budgeting isn’t all about restricting what you spend money on and cutting out all the fun in your life.
When you don’t have a credit history, it can be difficult and frustrating when trying to obtain a credit card or other type of loan. Establishing your initial credit history can be a Catch-22. If you don’t have credit, not many places are willing to give you credit, yet how can you ever establish credit if nobody is willing to give you any?
A look at savings accounts, money markets, certificates of deposit, and savings bonds, and help in figuring out which is right for you.
In order to receive the best possible interest rates and to avoid private mortgage insurance it is still a wise decision to have a significant down payment, but how can you save tens of thousands of dollars for this purchase?
Is trying to come up with hundreds or even thousands of dollars keeping you from opening an investment account? It shouldn’t. In the past it was almost a requirement to have quite a bit of money available in order to make your initial investment in a mutual fund or open a brokerage account. Today, things are quite different. You can now start investing with very little money up front. Here’s how.
One key to retiring happily is to have a balanced approach to spending and saving. This taxes, savings, life approach will help you get there.
Navigating the life insurance landscape can be tricky. You are sure to encounter a number of different policies and terms such as whole life, term life, cash value, variable life, and much more. How can you make sense of all the different types of policies and know that you’re making the best choice?
Are you looking for help with your taxes? Try calling 1-800-829-1040. This is the toll-free number for the IRS tax question line. With this number, you will be put in touch with someone right at the IRS who can assist you with your own personal tax situation if you have any questions.
Have questions on your tax return, refund status, or need help? The IRS makes itself quite accessible. You don’t have to fear the IRS. While nobody wants to talk to them about an audit, they are there to help you with your taxes.
Happy retirees have their mortgages paid off or are within five years of paying off their mortgage. Follow these four steps and enjoy a little extra peace of mind.
Your net worth can be a useful tool to measure your financial progress from year to year. Your net worth is essentially a grand total of all your assets minus your liabilities.
Chances are that if you have a mortgage currently you’re making monthly payments. The typical mortgage is structured so that you make a single payment each month for a total of twelve payments per year. The good thing about this is that it means you pay the same amount at the same time each month so there are no surprises and it’s easy to budget for.
One of the main advantages of a joint bank account is that there is a smaller chance of encountering financial “surprises” when all money goes into and comes out of one account. Married couples with joint accounts often have an easier time keeping track of their finances because all expenses come out of one account. This makes it harder to miss account activity, such as withdrawals and payments, and easier to balance the checkbook at the end of the month.
High interest rates make it difficult for people to pay down their credit card debt.But you can if you follow a few basic steps and put a plan in place.
A Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) is a loan that is offered by many tax preparation companies to people against their income tax return. A tax refund anticipation loan can be approved in a manner of minutes and the money accessible within a day or two
Many retirement plans such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s allow participants to borrow money from their retirement savings, but there are many things you should consider before tapping into that retirement plan with a loan.
Two major components of tracking how you’re doing financially can be broken down into your income and debt levels. ¬Obviously, you’d like to have more income coming in than debt payments going out, but even if you are making more money than you owe, how can you tell if that’s good enough?
In life you should expect the unexpected, and this is why you need an emergency fund. The best you can do is to prepare for emergencies that require access to additional money and having an emergency fund is the ideal solution. Financial emergencies can come in the form of a job loss, significant medical expenses, home or auto repairs or something you’ve never dreamed of.
Closing costs are funds, in addition to a loan down payment, paid at settlement. Costs vary among states, but cash transactions have fewer costs than financed purchases. Although many of the costs are associated with financing, others are independent of the mortgage loan.
Private mortgage insurance, often referred to as PMI, is insurance that lenders require borrowers to pay for when they get a mortgage and don’t have enough equity in the home.
A budget is nothing more than a breakdown and plan of how much money you have coming in and where it goes. Could you imagine a business becoming successful if it didn’t keep track of its income and expenses? The same holds true when it comes to your personal finances. If you don’t know how much money you have coming in and where it goes, your road to financial success will be a difficult one.
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Both APR (annual percentage rate) and APY (annual percentage yield) are commonly used to reflect the interest rate paid on something, but what is the difference between the two? Understanding the difference will help you understand exactly how hard your money is working for you.
What Makes a Good Budget? Top Ten Features of a Successful Budget
Would you be interested if I told you there’s a secret to saving money? Well, it’s true. There are a few secrets that can be used to save money, even if it doesn’t feel like you have any money to save. The bad news is that these secrets have been made public for decades and it’s simply up to you to decide whether or not to use them.
If you’re tired of the pitiful interest rate on your savings account at the bank, you may want to look into U.S. savings bonds for an equally safe place to keep some of your savings. With most bank accounts, the safety of your money comes from being insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC. This provides insurance on up to $100,000 per depositor. Unfortunately, while your money may be safe, there is a good chance the interest rate on the account is quite low.
Are you looking for some easy money saving tips for your family? It's easy to make small tweaks that will help your keep your family within budget.
Creating a CD ladder can be a creative and simple way to take advantage of a traditionally safe investment product. By laddering your CDs, you can maximize your potential earnings and determine the frequency at which you'd like them available.
Some teens want to work right out of the gate, but in many cases you’ll have to coax your teen into making money for themselves.. This can help them become responsible young adults.
Ten Ways To Cut Your Homeowner's Insurance Premiums
You can find an insurance policy to cover almost anything imaginable but only a handful of policies are actually ones that you need to have. You work hard throughout your life to build wealth and live a happy and comfortable life, so some types of insurance can protect your possessions, income and even provide for a loved one when you are gone.
Understanding and Choosing Life Insurance - What Type of Insurance Is Best For You?
Living without a budget is similar to traveling across the country without a roadmap. While both can be accomplished, the result is usually expensive and wasteful.
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Compound interest is an amazing thing, and the Rule of 72 is a simple way to quickly estimate how long it will take your investment to double.
Ten Tips for Late Starters To Boost Their Retirement Savings
Have you filed your tax return and are now awaiting a refund? The good news is that you don’t have to be left in the dark in regards to the status of your refund. The IRS has a great tool on their website that allows you to instantly check on your refund status.
BUDGET WORKSHEET FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS Click here for a printer-friendly version of the College Budget
When the time is right to purchase a home, the first question you need to be able to answer is how of a home you can afford.
One of the favors that might be asked of you at one point is to co-sign on a loan. Whether your child is asking for help getting his or her first credit card, or whether a friend needs a co-signer for a car loan, you might be asked to help out. Before you co-sign a loan, though, you need to consider the pros and cons associated with taking on this responsibility.
Here's what to expect for closing costs when you buy a home, and how to be prepared to identify inflated fees
Maximize Your Employment Benefits: Flexible Spending Accounts
Balancing Your Checkbook: Four Reasons You Should Do It and Step-by-Step Instructions
There are many factors to consider before selecting a bank. An ideal bank will offer more than the basic services and go the extra mile for their customers.
You may have heard that your credit score is important, but what is a FICO score? FICO is short for Fair Isaac and Co. The Fair Isaac Company developed custom software back in the 1980s that helped other companies determine a credit risk based on a number derived from a person’s credit history. This number soon became a standard that was adopted by the three main credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The FICO score ranges between 300 and 850.
When buying a home, most people focus on how much it costs and what interest rate they can get on the loan. While that is certainly very important, the other fees that come with buying a home are often overlooked. Here is a list of the most common fees involved when buying a home.
Quick and easy cash? There's nothing easy about payday loans.
There is a great deal of mystery that surrounds high frequency trading. However, it may not be as detrimental to the small investor as you may think.
Find out if you're one of millions of Americans entitled to receive unclaimed money or property. Page 2.
Personal finance covers a wide variety of money topics including budgeting, expenses, debt, saving, retirement and insurance among others. Understanding how each of these topics work together and affect each other is important for laying the groundwork for a solid financial foundation for you and your family.
If you are going to use a credit card, why not earn money while you spend money? There are a number of credit card companies that now offer cashback rewards when you use their cards.
Many companies today are offering employees heading into retirement a lump sum in lieu of a pension. Be sure to weigh all the factors before making this important decision.
During these turbulent economic times millions of working Americans are facing, payday loans are becoming a popular source of short-term financing. This has been especially true for low-income families. Payday loans are easy to get and don’t require any sort of credit check, but are they really a good idea?
College students face many hard financial decisions. As a young adult they need to figure out how to pay for college, earn some spending money, and still get a good education. This is a tall order for anyone, so it’s no wonder that many college students end up making some costly money mistakes.
Your car payment may prevent you from qualifying for a mortgage. Choosing between owning a new car or your own home.
Have you ever been in the market for a new vehicle and wondered whether you should buy or lease? In recent years leasing a vehicle has become very popular and carries some definite advantages depending on certain individual preferences, but before deciding whether to lease or purchase a vehicle there are a number of important factors to be considered.
If you have a fixed-rate mortgage and mortgage rates are falling, it only makes sense to consider trying to refinance at a lower rate. But as with most things in finance, it isn’t always a simple answer. Refinancing can certainly make sense, but it also costs money to refinance a mortgage. Depending on your specific situation, a refinance may actually end up costing you more money instead of saving money.
Many people worried about overdue bills and debt collectors can seek out these nonprofit agencies to help you find a workable solution to financial problems.
Have you just been blindsided by an unexpected financial emergency and don’t know what to do? Whether it’s a job loss, medical expenses, or an emergency home repair, an unexpected change in your financial situation can be incredibly stressful. The bills still need to be paid, the utilities need to stay on, and you need to put food on the table, so how should you cope with a financial crisis?
Discover four ways to stop yourself from drowning in debt- starting today.
According to a recent survey, the average cost of an American wedding is just over $27,000. This can be a significant burden on those who need to foot the bill, but it doesn’t have to be so painful. There are many steps you can take to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck when planning that special day.
Here we are, noticing our summer tans fading, dark roots growing out from our scalps, and waiting for the first winter snow fall amidst the freezing rain and blowing wind. Winter is rearing its ugly head and so are heating costs. The television and web are full of great ideas on how to save money on energy costs, but more often than not it takes money to save money. For many, spending money on major home improvement projects to make a home more energy efficient just isn’t in the cards this year.
Marriage introduces changes in a new couple’s financial situation that will affect all aspects of their life together. Everything from personal financial goals to credit card debt will bring new challenges to the relationship. Understanding how to navigate through these changes can be challenging, but planning ahead can allow you to build a strong financial foundation for your relationship.
Did you know that there is a hefty tax credit available to many households who have a dependent child? This may come as a surprise to many new parents, but it’s important to plan for so that you can make the most of your money. After all, the credit is worth up to $1,000 per child.
Everyone is responsible for the child they bring into this world. It doesn’t matter if was planned, unplanned, or even a child through adoption. This child has a right to be raised in a safe environment and provided everything needed which often includes financial support even if one of the parents are not around.
Using software to assist in keeping your finances in order is a great way to stay on track. Most financial software will allow you to keep track of income, expenses, and even your investments. Some even have the option to automatically download or connect to your financial institutions via the Internet, which can simply the process even further.
The realization that you cant afford to pay your taxes can make you feel uneasy, but dont worry, there are some actions you can take to remedy the situation.
Don't Let Student Loans Prevent You From Qualifying for a Mortgage - Advice for Students and College Graduates
If you receive an inheritance, it is not an excuse for reckless spending. Use this money wisely, and don't let it change your life.
There a number of alarming statistics about the financial situation of people heading into retirement. Start saving today with these five easy steps.
The Real Culprit Behind Your Urge to Splurge
Should You and Your Spouse Have Joint or Separate Checking Accounts? Tips on How to Decide and How to Make It Work
Tweak Your Income Tax Withholding and Avoid Paying More or Less Than You Owe
You've worked hard to build a solid financial footing for you and your family, so it needs to be protected. Accidents and disasters can and do happen and if you aren’t adequately insured it could leave you in financial ruin. You need insurance to protect your life, your ability to earn income, and to keep a roof over your head.
Credit card offers are hard to resist. It would be tough for most people to pass up an offer for a 56 inch plasma television worth $2500 for only $50 a month on a credit card. Even though many individuals can afford a $50 monthly payment, they may not realize that they will end up paying more in interest than for the original cost of the television.
The debt snowball, made popular by Dave Ramsey, is a method that allows you to reduce debt by tackling the small balances first. Getting out of debt is one of the top financial goals for many people.
Everyone has a unique situation, and there are no concrete financial numbers that define success, but there are some rules of thumb that can help you gauge your progress.
Most people fail not in creating a budget but maintaining one. Three traits you must have: a positive attitude, motivation, realistic expectations.
A big drain on your finances is bad money management. When it comes to monthly expenses, it can be difficult to identify financial leaks, but just like those tiny drops of water, pennies at a time can add up to an ocean of lost cash. So, pull on your plumber's overalls and put these five tips in your tool kit.
You’ve heard about identity theft in the news, and if you’re like most people, you probably think it will never happen to you. While there is a good chance that you’ll never experience this unfortunate situation, it only takes one misplaced document or accidentally clicking on a link on the web to put you at risk. Because it is becoming easier for thieves to obtain the information needed to steal and damage your identity, it is important to take a proactive approach and protect yourself.
Should You Buy Identity Theft Insurance or Credit Monitoring Services?
The open enrollment period is important because it is one of the few times you can make changes to many of your employer provided benefits.
For many people, owning a home brings a sense of pride and freedom that cannot be matched by renting. When you own your own home, you aren’t bound by a landlord’s rules, and your monthly payments are actually building equity. Although buying a home may be the first step you take toward building long-term wealth, it is important to understand the pros and cons of home ownership before taking the plunge.
Getting out of debt is a major financial goal for many people. While it’s important to reduce your debt load and try to begin creating wealth it’s also important that you take the right steps toward repaying your debt. In fact, there are a few common methods people use to help them get out of debt that can end up doing even more harm than good. Here are a few things you may want to think twice about in your quest to become debt free.
Can You Afford to Have Kids? Financial Planning for a New Baby
Setting Financial Goals - The Second Step in Personal Financial Planning
If you want your child to have good spending habits and resist the temptation that can come with having a credit card, it’s up to you to educate them.
For most of us the quality of our retirement will depend on how much money we saved. While you may have some retirement income in the form of Social Security or a pension, more often than not it isn't enough. That means it's up to you to plan for and put some money aside for retirement. Here's what you need to know to get your retirement on track.
To build wealth and reach financial independence, you simply need to spend less than you earn. It is an easy concept to understand, but why is it so difficult? To answer this question, you need to examine the roots of overspending. When you know what factors drive your spending, you can fight back and save money so that you can spend less than you earn.
Save Money on Air Conditioning Costs
Should Teens Have Credit Cards? Financial Planning.
Your Monthly Credit Card Minimum Payments May Double
In 2004, an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act was made that states that you can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three main credit reporting bureaus once every 12 months. Your credit report contains the following information:
Even with all of the advice and information available to help people break their overspending habits, for some, this desire to spend and rack up insurmountable debt becomes a serious problem that overtakes other aspects of their lives. As with any addiction, this can negatively affect your performance at work, quality of life, and relationships with family and friends.
t may seem impossible to track down the old pension provider but there is a valuable resource available to the public in the form of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
A traditional IRA (individual retirement account) is an account that is used to save pre-tax dollars for use in retirement.
MONTHLY BUDGET WORKSHEET FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS (Printer friendly version of this worksheet) CATEGORY MONTHLY
Being single presents some unique financial planning challenges. Whether you’re single by choice, or as a result of a recent breakup or divorce, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when managing money just for yourself. Since you’re the only one earning income and still have bills to pay, you need to be sure that you’re making the most of what you have since you don’t have someone else to fall back on.
College students today are getting into more debt than ever, and it goes far beyond just student loans. Yes, student loans play a big role and can mean racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt after college, but any students fall into the credit card trap. Credit cards are often pushed and promoted to college students, and with students typically lacking significant income it can make paying off those debts very hard.
Personal finance covers a wide variety of money topics including budgeting, expenses, debt, saving, retirement and insurance among others. Understanding how each of these topics work together and affect each other is important for laying the groundwork for a solid financial foundation for you and your family.
Protect your share of your spouse's retirement plan if you're getting a separation or divorce
Your credit score is a very important number that lenders use in order to determine whether or not to extend credit to you, and what the interest rate and terms of the credit or loan are.
Couples and Money: How to Talk the Talk
If you work for an employer that automatically withholds taxes from each paycheck, then you have the ability to adjust how much is withheld by adjusting the exemptions on IRS Form W-4. This is important to review because many different changes in your life could impact the amount of money you should have withheld.
Single couples living together face unique money issues. Learn the three most critical personal finance issues facing unmarried couples.
Interest rates play an important role in not only the economy, but your personal finances as well. The Federal Reserve regularly monitors economic conditions and has the ability to raise or lower key interest rates that trickle down and affect everything right down to your savings account. As rates begin to fall, what does this mean for you, and how can you plan for lower rates?
There are some types of insurance that you absolutely should have but there are just as many that you are probably better off without. Some of these policies may sound like a good idea when in reality all you are doing is wasting money on the premiums.
If you work, you are probably aware of the Social Security taxes that come out of your paycheck. Since a relatively large portion of your income goes toward this tax, it is important to understand where it actually goes.
If you worked for an employer that offered health benefits, when you decide to retire early or lose your job, it becomes quickly apparent how valuable that benefit was. Generally, when an employer offers health insurance coverage, the premium costs are split between you and the employer. Whether it is $20 or $300 per paycheck, you’re generally only paying a portion of the total premium in a large group plan. So, what happens when you are no longer employed and eligible for these benefits?
Although the down economy may have inspired you to reduce spending and start saving, the average American still carries more than $7,000 in credit card debt, according to CreditCards.com. With the average current interest rate on credit cards at more than 14%, that's almost $1,000 in unnecessary interest payments you could be doling out each year. Now is the time to get out of debt by selling your stuff.
Most investors are familiar with the two primary types of investments: stocks and bonds. Stocks are easy to understand because we hear about the stock market on a daily basis. The news constantly reminds us about whether the stock market is going up, down, and what companies are doing the best and worst. What about bonds? Most of us have bonds in our portfolios, but we hear very little about bond markets or how these financial instruments actually work.
If you are self-employed, or otherwise find yourself in a situation where you need to obtain your own health insurance coverage, the choices available to you can be confusing. You'll be sifting through terms like HMO, PPO, premiums, co-pay and deductibles, which can be intimidating if you don't know what you're looking at.
Top Ten Money Tips for Women. Financial Planning.
Don’t let the cryptic name of the plan confuse you, these plans are actually fairly easy to understand. A 401(k) is a retirement plan offered by some employers in the United States. The plan received the name from the section of Internal Revenue Code it was named after.
Budgeting information, advice, tips, and resources to help you set up a successful budget and stay motivated
The ability to save money is the cornerstone of building wealth. In order to save money, you need to spend less than you earn. This is often easier said than done, but there are plenty of ways to help you begin saving money on even the tightest budget.
With a little knowledge and willingness to create and follow a financial plan, most people can adequately manage their own finances. Even so, there are many instances where you just don’t have the time or have a complicated situation that may need the assistance of a finance professional.
How to Take Advantage of Lower Mortgage Interest Rates
The average American carries about $8k in credit card debt and wastes more than $$1k per year on interest. Find out why you should get out of debt.
Distributions from a mutual fund are earnings from the fund's operation. Unlike individual company who can chose either to retain the profit, or return it to shareholders in the form of dividend or through share buyback, a mutual fund is required by law to be passed on profits to investors.
Click here for a printable version of this checkbook balancing form. Checkbook Balancing Form 1. Outstanding
Your credit score and underlying history is one of your most vital parts of your financial life. Your credit score follows you forever and it will play a huge role in many major financial situations throughout your life.
College living is an exciting and challenging undertaking for most students. Moving away from mom and dad, living on your own and making decisions for yourself and having to manage your own finances are just a few of the roadblocks you will be facing.
This question is frequently asked, but rarely has a definitive answer. The problem is that everyone’s needs are different. What you might need in retirement will be completely different than your friends, neighbors, or co-workers. Even though your situation is unique, there are a few ways you can estimate how much money you will need to retire.
Creating a power of attorney and the elements of a general durable power of attorney
How much money you are saving is less important than how soon you begin saving. Compound interest is a wonderful thing and the longer your money has to grow, the more it will grow.
Do you have a savings account yet find it difficult to find money to deposit into it? This isn’t an uncommon problem and most people find it hard to save.
Eight Warning Signs That You May Be Headed for Bankruptcy and Eight Tips for Avoiding It
Home Equity Loans: Look Before You Leap. Things to Consider Before Taking Out a Home Equity Loan
When it comes to taxes, there is a three-letter abbreviation that is feared, yet it’s still a mystery to most people. AMT stands for the Alternative Minimum Tax, and while it doesn't sound too harmful, if you’ve ever been hit with it you know that it can be quite painful.
Top Personal Finance Magazines for the average person
In the wake of the U.S. housing bubble and resulting global financial crisis, mortgage risk was lowered substantially in that it became much harder for aspiring homeowners to get a risky mortgage.
What To Do When You Can't Pay Your Income Taxes Due: The Worst Thing You Can Do Is To Do Nothing
Top picks for personal finance books: personal finance books managing your personal finances college educations money goals corporate tools
How to Achieve Guilt-free Budgeting and Take Control of Your Finances
Do You Need a Will? The Answer is Probably Yes.
Even though the job market is beginning an economic upswing, there are still many unemployed workers in the US, and often simply not an adequate number of jobs to sustain the surplus pool of applicants.
Financial Advice for Your Twenties or if You're Just Starting a Financial Plan, Regardless of Your Age
Seven Biggest Money Mistakes in Accumulating Wealth
Sometimes it is the little things that add up. Stopping the little spending leaks in your life may amount to significant savings over time.
One of the most costly mistakes you can make with credit cards is getting into the habit of only paying the minimum amount due each month. While the minimum amount may be affordable; it will also cost you more money in the long run.
Tying the Knot: A Financial To Do List for Newlyweds
When it comes to planning for the future, most people think of retirement. Retirement planning is important because it allows you to do the things that you were unable to do while working—travel, start a business, go back to school, be closer to family, or simply relax. Because retirement is such an important phase in your life, careful planning is a must.
Money Guide for Married Couples. Financial Planning. Page 2.
Conversations about money can be uncomfortable for new couples, but deciding how you are going to handle your finances together is essential.