How to Spend Your Tax Return Wisley

Tax season is finally here, which means you probably have a long list of things you’re going to buy once you get your return, right? If your resolution this year is to be more confident and wise with your money, then you may want to make sure you’ve done these things before you actually go blow your cash. By all means, we all deserve to treat ourselves, however, make sure you don’t go on a spending spree. Here are the best ways to spend your tax return after this season.

Pay Down Debt

Your tax return most likely won’t be able to cover all of the student loan debt or mortgage amount you have out, however, high-interest, short-term debt, such as credit cards, could be what’s keeping you down in the dumps. One of the best things you can do to help save your credit score and lift some weight off your shoulders is to pay off your credit card debt. Credit cards are sneaky little creatures as they tend to have a high interest rate that could be what’s keeping you from paying off your total balance and lowering your credit score each month. If you have multiple cards, begin by writing out your balances for each one, along with the interest rate. The cards you should be paying off first are the ones with the highest rate. You can also use your tax return to split it up in multiple monthly payments to show that you are consistent each month.

Open Emergency Funding

Over 66 million Americans don’t have an emergency savings account. This is quite possible the most critical point in the U.S. debt crisis. Many believe that a small amount of cash, won’t help them when a true emergency comes along, however this is wrong. The slightest bit of savings could help you cover emergency expenses in such a case. Starting an emergency account with your tax return can actually help you save more money each paycheck, compared to trying to open an account with no money. By using your tax return to open a cash account, you’ll inspire yourself to contribute more, and you’ll be very thankful for doing this when life decides to take a turn. Although taxes are technically your money being deducted to the IRS, think of it as a yearly bonus that you weren’t expecting to get.

Invest

If you’ve already paid off your credit card debt and have an emergency fund already established, spending your money on investments is a great way to ensure you’re being wise. For example, maybe you’ve been saving for a home and can afford the monthly payments, but not the huge wad of cash that you need for a down-payment. Using your tax return could be the solution to your predicament, only if you’re really ready for the purchase. If you don’t already have a retirement plan set in place, taking this extra amount of cash could also be a great way to start one. Just like starting an emergency savings plan, starting a retirement plan with cash will convince you to contribute more money each month. Another way to invest your hard earned return is in yourself. Maybe there’s a skill or class you really want to take, but it’s too costly. You can never go wrong in investing into experiences, as if will help you grow into a better person.

Discussing Family Wealth

The topic of family wealth often brings a fair amount of apprehension with it. Openly discussing wealth feels like a taboo subject and one that should be avoided at all costs. The talk may feel daunting, but it’s an important one to have with your kids. If they are not prepared to inherit a large sum of money, then they are bound to make mistakes. Here’s a few tips on starting the conversation and what the younger generation needs to know about the family’s wealth.

Rip off the Band-Aid

The first step to opening a money dialogue is initiating the conversation. It may be uncomfortable and family opinions may vary, but no matter what, the discussion needs to happen. It will be easier on everyone if the topic is laid out on the table at once and intelligently discussed. At the end of the day, you will feel better for speaking about it and your children will feel much more prepared for the future.

Use Teachable Moments

The inheritance and financial planning conversation will not feel as daunting if your children are exposed to the idea in small, real life increments. These teachable moments will feel less like a hard and fast talk about the family money and much more about the idea of money. For instance, the birth of a new family member is the perfect time to organically discuss inheritance. Your children will understand inheritance, but may not directly apply it to themselves yet. That’s perfectly okay! At the very least, the building blocks will be there come time for the “big talk.”

Keep the Dialogue Open

The money talk should not be an open and closed conversation. Family wealth is complex and evolves over time – so should your conversation. Closing the door after the initial conversation will cause confusion and potentially leaves a lot of questions unanswered. The transition of wealth is a delicate matter and should be treated as such. Be an open book for your children and let them openly discuss wealth. They will develop ideas on their own about how to best use the family wealth and you need to be open to that. By doing so, you ensure that less mistakes are made down the line. Trial by fire, especially with money, is not always the best way to learn.

Post Holiday Savings

After every holiday season spending spree, how many of you feel like you’re cash-strapped? With the six tips below, I can help you bounce back from your spending extravaganza in stride — and help you plan to save for next year.

Sell Unwanted Gifts

Head to eBay, Craigslist or Amazon to sell your unwanted gift. Did you receive a gift card to a place you never shop at? You can actually turn it into cash you can put towards your savings! With Gift Card Granny, you can sell your unused gift card to someone who will use it. You may not get full price for the card, but it will be something you can put towards your savings.

Tip: This site is also a great place to purchase gift cards for yourself. You pay a small fraction less than what the gift card sells for — meaning you can save a few dollars here and there!

Hit Unsubscribe

Take a moment to think about how many emails per day you get about sales. It’s tempting to go shopping, isn’t it? Put a stop to the temptation and unsubscribe from those emails. The button is usually in small text at the bottom of the email. Tricky, right? Your wallet will thank you.

Review Your Budget

You might have some wiggle-room with your monthly income. Take a look at your budget and note how much you’re actually spending per month. If you notice you have extra money, take a fraction of that to put into savings. You can make it a game to see how much more you can contribute to your savings each month by slowly increasing the dollar amount that goes into your savings account.

Have a Change Jar

This is a small, but effective trick for saving money. At the end of each day, empty your pockets of change to donate to your “coin jar fund.” However, be careful with this strategy because it may be tempting to steal money out of the jar. To maximize your change jar savings…

  • Have a coin slot so it’s harder to steal money out of the jar.
  • Use a clear jar so you can visually see the savings you’re making.
  • Make sure the jar is large. When it’s full, you will be amazed at the amount of money you’ve saved.

Make Extra Money with a Side Hobby

Maximize your passion by turning it into a side job. Do you love to knit? Sell your items on Etsy. If you love to write in your free time, think about freelancing. Upwork, Freelancer, and Freelance Writing Gigs are good places to start. There are plenty of other industries that need freelancers as well — graphic design, web development, construction, coders, and salespeople are just a few. Put your earnings directly into your savings account.

Strategize Your Payment Method

Pay off your credit card debt quickly by targeting the highest interest rate debt first while paying the minimums on other accounts. Once you finish this payment, target the next highest interest rate while paying minimums on the others.

How to Become a Financial Advisor

Becoming a financial advisor is not an easy task and requires a specific skill set. Education, work experience, and acquiring special certifications are all things that will help you on the way to becoming a successful financial advisor. Depending on where you want to work, you will be required to have certain levels of experience and licenses. Below are some of the more common steps to entering the world of financial advisement. This is not the only path, but the most standard.

Education

The minimum requirement for most firms is a bachelor’s degree. Typically, wealth managers hold degrees in business, finance, or economics. All relevant and similar fields will normally be acceptable. The most important thing to do while gaining your education is to look for work related experience outside of the classroom. Joining clubs on campus is an excellent way to gain experience. Most colleges have associations or clubs that focus on finance related subject matter. You also can work towards becoming the treasurer of an organization. The experience of budgeting and managing the organization’s finances will be excellent for your resume. Additionally, internships are a fantastic way to acquire real world experience.

Landing the Right Internships

As mentioned above, internships are a vital part of getting work experience while completing your degree program. The more relevant experience you have before looking for your first job, the better. Look for internships that will directly help the career path you are looking for. For example, if your goal is to get into the risk management niche of finance, look for an internship working in that environment.

Additionally, interning with larger, well-known firms can help you as well. The larger firms often come with a solid reputation, which will help you in your job search after completing your degree program.

Recommended Certifications

There are a number of certifications and licenses that a financial advisor can obtain. A majority require at least 3 years of experience, continued education, and a passing score on an exam. The most common certification and licenses financial advisors go after are:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

By obtaining further certifications, you show you’re an expert, you continue learning about the field, and you are extremely qualified.

Continued Education

Most financial advisors continue their education past the initial undergraduate level. You can go through a master’s program while still working your normal hours. Many financial advisors obtain an MBA or some degree in a relevant field. Continuing your education provides you with a broader knowledge base and understanding the financial world. It also acts a vote of confidence for your clients.

Money Goals

People all too often talk about the importance of setting financial goals but do not actually talk about what those goals look like. Goals will inevitably vary from person to person, but there are some general goals that apply to the majority. If you find yourself being tasked with setting financial goals, but have no idea where to start, look no further. Pick out some goals that work for you or use these as a springboard for your own. No matter what, it’s great to be thinking about what you want out of your finances so you can start making plans and adjustments to get there.

Get out of Debt

If you have debt, this should be your ultimate goal. Debt is a financial burden you don’t need to carry. Think about all the good you could do for yourself financially if you were not already allocating a certain amount to paying down your debt. Aggressively tackle the problem and then stay out of debt. You’ll be happy when it’s behind you – trust me.

Commitment to Budgeting

Budgeting is awesome for so many reasons. You can track your spending, optimize your saving, and have a better grasp on how your money comes and goes. Set a goal of committing to a budget. It’s easy to stop putting in the effort to budget, but setting it as a goal can help push you to stick to it.

Plan Ahead

Thinking to the financial future leaves a lot of room open for goal making. You might set a goal for retirement, want to have a substantial emergency fund, or pay off your student loans at a quicker pace. No matter what you decide, even it it’s all three, just do it. It can be difficult to think to the future, but it’s necessary when it comes to finances. Life only gets more expensive the older you get. The sooner you are thinking to the future, the less worry you’ll have down the line.

Cut Down Spending

Set a goal to cut down on unnecessary spending. We all can get out of control with spending, but some people have a bigger problem with it than others. If you identify as big spender, but you want to save more money, it may be time to make a commitment to yourself. Curb the spending habit and start banking more money each month.

Make Investments in Yourself

Something people don’t often think about when financial goal planning involved taking care of themselves. Invest in your future. Spend some money for continued education classes that will beef up your resume, purchase a gym membership to take care of your health, or look out skill strengthening opportunities. Becoming the best version of yourself will ultimately lead to an enhanced career path and more money over time.

Buying Secondhand: Saving Money Without Sacrificing Quality

When attempting to save money, people often don’t think about making secondhand purchases. There are plenty of used items that we all want or need that can be bought at a cheaper price. Just because these items are used, does not necessarily mean they are of poor quality. With a little hunting and luck, you can find what you’re looking for cheaper from someone else. Check yard sales, thrift stores, eBay, and craigslist to find exceptional deals. To get you started, here’s a list of the easiest items to find secondhand for cheap without sacrificing overall quality.

Tools

Power tool and hand tools alike are the perfect secondhand item. You can find used tools everywhere – craigslist, estate sales, yard sales, and thrift stores are just a few places. People sell or donate their tools for many reasons, but mostly it’s either they don’t have a use for them anymore or they need more space. Why buy brand new tools when someone is selling their tools for a fraction of the price?

Clothing

Purchasing brand names and designer clothing is still possible for those who are frugal. Stores like Plato’s closet and various consignment shops are popping up all over. These store purchase gently used garments and sell them for a much cheaper price than the original retail cost. You won’t have an enormous selection like you would in the brand name stores, but you will be able to find things you’re looking for or love.

Vehicles

You should always buy a used car! Buying secondhand cars is immensely cheaper than buying new. If you look around enough, you can easily find used cars in new car condition. Bringing along a mechanic friend or someone who is good with cars is a good way to double check everything is in tip top shape. If it is, you’ll be driving away in a car that will last for years at a fraction of the price you were originally willing to pay.

Furniture

People are constantly selling their used furniture. As people move or want to upgrade their houses, furniture is normally the first to go. Grabbing yourself used furniture saves a ton of money. Furniture, in general, is expensive, but even gently used furniture is not worth the same thing as when you bought it. Additionally, since most furniture is large and people don’t always have the storage for it, they practically give it away.

Sports Equipment

Need a new pair of golf clubs? Instead of dropping a fortune on a brand new set, check the internet first. Much like anything, when we upgrade for ourselves, we normally try to sell off the old. Sporting equipment is no different. People sell balls, gloves, bats, bikes, and everything else under the sun once they no longer have a use for it. Scoop up great secondhand finds for a low price without sacrificing quality.

Young Adults Need Financial Role Models

Navigating finances on your own for the first time can be a difficult pill to swallow. Many young adults feel unprepared for handling their own finances in a productive way. In order to make for a smoother transition into full-fledged adulthood, Millennials need to call on a financial role model to help them. This can be a family member or anyone you feel comfortable talking finances with. Either way, seek out help to get you on your own two feet. Below are some areas that cause young adults the most stress.

Student Loans

Coming to grips with taking on all that debt was hard enough, but now it’s time to face the reality of paying them back. A financial role model can assist you in coming up with a plan of attack. Tackling students loans is a huge undertaking and shouldn’t be left for you alone to make decisions on. Someone more financially savvy than you may be able to help you formulate a plan for both the short term and long term.

Retirement

You barely just got your first full-time job and you’re already given options for retirement. Discussing an IRA and 401(k) may make your head spin, but once you understand it, you’ll be thankful you’re making contributions. A financial mentor can help you come up with the best retirement plan to set you up later on down the road.

Gaining Control

Getting a grip on your overall finances is another area where a financial mentor can help you out. This can be anything from budgeting to buying investments. Whatever the case may be, taking charge of your finances is the first step to success. The more financially stable you become, the better equipped you’ll be for all life has to throw at you.

Ask for Help

Finally, do not be afraid to ask for help in the first place. Becoming financially aware takes time and energy, but you shouldn’t have to deal with it alone. If things get tough and you feel overwhelmed, be sure to reach back out to your financial role model. They are there to help you, so use them as a resource.
Too many young adults are unprepared for taking care of their finances after college. This is why it is important to seek out a financial role model. They can show you right from wrong, how to turn your finances around, and begin planning for retirement. Take the time to gain a better understanding of your finances before you make disastrous decisions. You’ll be thankful you did.

Frugality: a How To

Shifting towards a more frugal lifestyle can be a rough transition for anyone. Frugality is even harder to achieve if you don’t have the proper tools in place. If living frugally is something you strive for, come up with a plan of action and start incorporating a frugal mentality as soon as you’re able. In order to get the ball rolling, here’s a list of things you can start doing to achieve a frugal lifestyle.

Make a Purchase Wait List

The easiest thing you to start doing immediately is creating a running purchase wait list. For all non-essential purchases of over $100, place it on the list. Wait for at least 2 days (a week might be better) and if you still find yourself thinking about it, go ahead and get it! We are all guilty of impulse buying, so your wait list acts as a buffer for your wallet. Plus, it will be interesting to see how little importance some items will have after some time passes.

Remove Extras

Another way to cut down your expenses is to remove extra charges. At a closer look, most of us have memberships, service fees, and expenses that we are not utilizing. Removing them will free up some extra cash. Additionally, audit other monthly expenses that weren’t cut to see if you can trim down the cost through discounts or negotiating a lower price.

Quarterly Self Checks

At the end of each quarter, audit yourself. Look at your finances objectively and make changes accordingly. You should be on the lookout for a few thing. The first thing are the expenses that don’t give you the value you want. Why pay for something if you aren’t happy with it? For one time purchases, use it as a lesson to do more research before opening your wallet. Secondly, objectively look at your entertainment spending. This is an area almost all people can cut down on. If you want a frugal lifestyle, you might have to stop hitting happy hour at the end of the week.

Eat at Home

A large expense every one of us has is food. It’s a necessity but doesn’t have to take such a toll on your budget. The first thing to do is make a commitment to eating at home more. Cooking your own meals has a ton of financial benefits. You control how much each dish costs you. You have to buy the ingredients, so you set the price. Also, your leftovers become a gold mine! Each meal you eat leftovers is one less meal you’re paying for.

Buddy System

The biggest worry of being frugal is actually sticking with it. Employ the buddy system with a like-minded friend. There’s nothing quite like accountability and camaraderie to help you follow through. Two heads are also better than one. Use the added brain power to come up with better practices and ultimately save more money!

How to Prepare for a Personal Financial Crisis

Anyone can experience a devastating financial crisis. The best thing you can do when disaster strikes is having a plan of action. Financial crisis can come in many forms. More often than not, it involves job loss, unexpected medical expenses, or hefty car repair bills. With that being said, it can happen to anyone, so here is a guide to preparing for, and surviving, a financial crisis.

Have a savings

The best way to prepare for a financial crisis is to have an emergency fund. Having a savings account purely for emergency situations can help pull you out of a financial hole pretty quickly. Afterward, you’ll need to build it back up again, but you’ll still be able to pay your monthly bills while doing so. A good rule of thumb is to have 3-6 months worth of salary saved up. This will buy you some time in the event of a financial disaster.

Pay down your debt

Debt is a leading cause of financial crisis. Having debt and then accruing more becomes an extremely hard hole to dig yourself out of. Before a financial crisis happens, pay off debt and keep it as low as possible. An abundance of debt also indicates that you’re living beyond your means, which leads into the next point.

Reduce expenses

Reducing your overall expenses will leave you with more money. The good thing about more money is that you have more of it to save. The more wiggle room you have in your budget the better. We all have unavoidable expenses, like housing expenses and food, but trimming the fat will make job loss a much easier pill to swallow.

Build out your resume

The best thing you can do for yourself before a financial crisis is to invest in yourself. Building out your skillset and resume increases your marketability. If you lose your job and have taken the time to hone your skills, landing a new job will be an easy task. Additionally, gaining new knowledge and refining skills can also set you up for a job that pays more, which will get you back on your feet even faster.

Extra income

Use your skills to make some extra money from home. Doing so will be vital in times of financial crisis. Having a little extra cash flow on the side won’t solve all your problems, but it will help keep you afloat or pay down debt. To start earning some extra money from home, provide freelancing services or sell unwanted personal items on eBay. The possibilities are endless, as long as you’re willing to do the work.

Seek help

Finally, seek help when needed. This can be before, during or after a financial crisis. The best option is to have a plan before disaster strikes, but asking for help at any stage is better than dealing with it on you own. Seek help from a financial advisor. They can help you budget, plan for retirement, and guide you on the ways of making the most of your money.

Tips For Retiring Early

As Market Watch calls it, retirement just means being financially independent. Many people live decades reminiscing about a day that they won’t have to work so hard to pay their bills. Many can’t wait to retire so that they can start living. As the living costs grow, so does the retirement age, but here are some tips to help you reach your goal of financial freedom.

1. Understand Numbers
The first thing to do when you want to retire early, is understand how much money you’ll be able to live off. Typically, if you’re retiring, all of your bills and mortgages are paid off. You’ll have to calculate your monthly living and emergency expenses and figure out how much money you can actually live off while saving the rest of your income in long-term investments such as 401k or Roth IRA. One couple saved $1 million dollars in four years to retire at age 43.

2. Spend Less, Save More
It seems simple enough, but the key to having money in the bank is to spend less and save more. A majority of Americans spend money left and right on things that they don’t actually need, but want. For example, Americans spend half their food budget on eating out at restaurants. Groceries have also gone up in price over the years, and retail has been booming. In March 2010, families spent over $500 a month on shopping alone. The key point is that Americans are spending their income on unnecessary things rather than investing their money for saving. The best ways to save money is to be thrifty, including groceries are much cheaper (and healthier) at your local farmer’s market. Stores such as Aldi and Trader Joe’s are also great for saving money on food because they have healthy choices at the lowest prices they can sell at. Starting with changing your household spending is a great way to begin your early retirement process.

3. Invest
You don’t have to have a finance degree in order to invest your money. For one, every person who works full-time should have some sort of savings plan, whether through a Roth IRA or 401K. Another popular form of investment is housing. Owning a house will allow you to raise equity, but also have a backup plan in case of emergencies. As long as your mortgage is paid off, you can always sell your investment and get the cash for it, especially because housing typically goes up in price value. This is the easiest form of investment.

4. Income
It’s a good idea to have multiple sources of income for your early retirement.The current prediction is that most of us will never see a social security income, and if we do, we won’t be able to receive it until at least age 65. One typical way of creating income is owning a home. As the price value goes up, so will your equity. As mentioned this will allow you to sell your home, but other people choose the route of residential rentals for consistent income. The truth is that many places in the United States don’t have enough housing available, therefore there will always be a need for housing rentals. Another source of income would be starting a side business. Many people find ways to make money off their hobbies, such as landscaping, art, or sales.

5. Understand Your Values
Saving enough money for a retirement can be a lot easier than most people think: the hard part is changing your lifestyle. If you want to retire early in your life, it’s crucial to create a plan that you can stick to. This does mean becoming frugal with your lifestyle choices and decisions, but you will soon be able to realize what your life values are. When you learn how to live a simple life, you’re able to understand the difference between your wants and needs, and can see a different perspective when it comes to your financial choices.