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Financial Freedom: 4 Strategies to Be Debt Free in 2017

Will this be the year you experience debt freedom?  If you have debt, you probably made a New Year’s Resolution this year to work hard to get your debt under control. Think how wonderful it will be.  No more calls from creditors. Debt comes in many shapes and sizes so whether your debt is from credit cards, student loans, or anything else, these 4 strategies will help you tackle your debt and get it controlled once and for all. The Debt Avalanche The best way to get out of debt, according to math, is a strategy known as the “debt avalanche.” With a debt avalanche, you prioritize your debt by an interest rate. Each month, pay the minimum payment of every debt, but the one with the highest interest rate gets more. Put every extra dollar you have into that debt until it is paid off, then move on to…

The Rule of 72: How to Double Your Savings in 10 Years

If doubling your savings in 10 years sounds unrealistic to you, your suspicions are correct – so long as you choose to keep that money in a savings account. Given that most savings accounts will only earn you an average annual return of one percent at best, it would take a whopping 72 years to increase your savings from, say, $10,000 to $20,000. But if you choose to invest your savings in the stock market, the Rule of 72 states that it’s perfectly reasonable to expect it to double within 10 years – or even less! But wait, what’s the Rule of 72? The Rule of 72 An old favorite of financial planners based on compound interest, the Rule of 72 is a simple way to calculate how long an investment takes to double with a fixed annual interest rate. Basically, the rule states that the amount of time required…

3 Tips for Building the Perfect Term Life Insurance Policy

If you have no idea how much life insurance you need, you’re not alone.  Most people have no clue how much life insurance or what type of life insurance they need. Term life insurance is designed to protect your family and loved ones in the event of your untimely passing. To get the right life insurance policy to protect your family, it is important to understand how term life insurance works and how your other financial resources can work together with life insurance to create a safety net and protect the ones you love most. How Term Life Insurance Works Life insurance comes in two primary types: term life insurance and permanent life insurance, such as Whole Life or Universal Life. Permanent life insurance is comparatively much more expensive, so today we will focus on term life insurance. Term life insurance is life insurance that covers the insured individual for a…

6 Fall Budgeting Tips to Save Big

Cooler temperatures and shorter days mean fall is here. While people often focus on spring cleaning as a major annual milestone around the house, getting ready for winter is an important time as well! This season, you have an opportunity to take steps to save money, review your budget, and get on a path to a better financial future. Below are six budgeting tips and actionable steps you can take to help you get started. Invest in a Smart Thermostat If you own your own home, your energy bills may seem like a fixed cost you can’t put a dent in. However, you can save around 10%-12% on your energy bill by installing a smart thermostat. A smart thermostat costs around $200-$250 if you install it yourself. If you live in a cold or hot climate where a thermostat can lower energy use while you are away at work all…

Pet Expenses: How Much Do Pets Cost Us?

How much is that doggie in the window? What about that cat, guinea pig, bird or fish? When it comes to calculating pet expenses, “sticker price” is just the tip of the iceberg. To understand how much a new pet actually costs, you have to take into consideration the amount of money you’ll spend on pet food, veterinary care and other miscellaneous expenses for the rest of your pet’s life. Here’s a list of the five most popular pets in the US, which we’ve ranked in order from the least to the most expensive based on data from the ASPCA and Petfinder.        Fish If you’ve never owned a pet before and have a limited budget, start with fish. Freshwater fish don’t need medical attention, and it doesn’t cost much to feed them or outfit their aquariums. Though saltwater aquariums require more upkeep and investment, most freshwater fish…

5 Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids About Money and Investing

Kids learn pretty quickly that it takes money to buy things. The pace at which children develop financial literacy can be another matter, however. Most schools don’t require financial literacy and those that do typically only offer classes at the high school level. There’s no need to rely on schools or wait until your kids are teenagers to start teaching them about money. The sooner your kids can pick up practical skills like budgeting and understanding the stock market, the better. You don’t need a finance degree to teach your kids about money and investing – just have fun with it and keep things simple. Enthusiasm and patience yield good results. Below are five ways to teach your kids about money and investing. Practice Real-Life Scenarios With Board Games Did you play Monopoly or Life when you were a kid? Those games are true classics and a fun way to…

How Life Insurance Companies Choose Your Term Life Insurance Rate

Life insurance is a cornerstone of any solid personal financial plan, but to most people, there are many mysteries behind the scenes of life insurance. One of those mysteries is how insurance rates are determined. Understanding life insurance rates can help you navigate the many life insurance options and find a company that works with you to get the best rate possible. Understanding the different life insurance rates can help you quickly and easily navigate the many life insurance options available to you and to find a company that works closely with you to get the best rate possible. Insurance Policy Size When signing up for term life insurance, insurers offer a range of policy sizes. This is an important decision, but also has a direct impact on what you pay each month. As logic would have it, you pay more for a bigger policy than a smaller one. However,…

5 Budgeting Tips to Maximize Your Savings

Budgeting is a cornerstone of personal finance management. Knowing how to track your expenses and budget based on your income and goals is imperative for long-term financial success. Both veteran budgeters and people new to budgeting can always benefit from evaluating where their money is going. For example, magazine subscriptions may only cost $10 per year. But if you have five magazines coming in the mail each month, that is $50 per year. While $50 per year doesn’t sound like a lot, it doesn’t take long to add up to $100, $150, and more over the years. Read on for five tips to maximize your savings. Cut Recurring Expenses Subscriptions and other recurring expenses are some of the worst budget busters because they sneak in silently each month to drain your bank account. Like magazine subscriptions, even the smallest recurring expenses add up quickly over time to be a larger…

6 Tips for Building an Emergency Fund

Like it or not, emergency expenses happen. Your home might need an unexpected repair. You, a family member or a pet could be the victim of an accident or suddenly develop a chronic medical condition. And don’t forget about “happy accidents” like an unexpected pregnancy. If you found yourself face-to-face with any of these emergency expenses, would you be able to cover them? Alarmingly, the majority of US households would likely come up short. According to Bankrate.com’s latest Money Pulse survey, 63 percent of Americans say they may not have enough money to cover an unexpected expense like $500 car repair or a thousand-dollar hospital bill. That’s why creating – and maintaining – an emergency fund is so crucial. In addition to providing you with a financial safety net in the event of a major unexpected expense, an emergency fund prevents you from having to rely on credit cards and…

3 Online Tools to Automatically Track Finances

Most of us recognize the importance of financial planning, but we also understand that tracking money can take commitment and a lot of time and work. Good budgeting and investment software and online financial planning apps can help you significantly take charge of your finances. There are a number of new online tools that completely automate your budgeting, investment tracking, and much more! Each tool works a little differently and has its own unique focus – picking the right one for your needs can save you a ton of time when it comes to managing your money. Bonus: each one from the list below is completely free to use! Mint Mint is one of the original personal finance aggregators and offers a wide set of tools to help you manage your budget, income, expenses, and view every financial account in one handy dashboard. Founded in 2006 by Aaron Patzer, Mint…