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How to Stop Procrastinating With Your Money in 4 Easy Steps

Personal finance prosperity requires a long-term plan, dedicated effort and regular check-ins to maintain focus. It takes work to reach financial goals. Millions of Americans complain about high debt, low savings and a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle that seems difficult to escape. But if you take the time to get your money systems setup, you can relax as your money goes to work for you. Here are some easy-to-follow tips to avoid putting off getting your finances in order.   Start a Budget Already Do you know you should budget but don’t think you have the time to put one together? Wrong! Anyone can budget in the time it takes to check your email. And you can do it on your smartphone or laptop. Popular budgeting apps Mint (free) and YNAB (paid) connect to your bank accounts, credit cards, loans and other financial accounts to summarize everything in one convenient dashboard. Both…

Personal Finance Habits for Your 50s

After reaching important financial milestones in your 20s, 30s and 40s, things should calm down a bit in your 50s. If you followed good financial practices, you should have sizeable and growing retirement savings, shrinking debt and a clear path to retirement. And if you are off of your ideal plan, be sure to put the right habits in place right away to get yourself on the right track. While you can’t go back in time and change past spending and savings habits, you can start the right habits today. Start with these five personal finance habits for your 50s to get started. Pay Off Non-Mortgage Debt While the average debt for American households overall is on the rise, you should be working hard to fight that statistic for your own family. In your 50s, you should be saving and swelling credit card debt loads can crush those savings rates…

12 Apps to Help Elevate Your Finances

There’s an app for almost everything these days. So, it comes as no surprise you have a wealth of choices to help you budget, save and earn money. With so many options, it can prove difficult to find the best fit for your needs. Here are several of the leading apps in the finance category. Each of these apps has an Apple App Store rating of 4.5 stars or higher. As with any app, the key to success is consistent use. With the help of technology, you’ll have one more tool in your financial toolbelt. Five Awesome Apps That Help You Budget Better Creating and sticking to a budget is one of the best ways to find financial freedom. The following apps keep your budget at your fingertips. Mint: With Mint, you can manage all your finances in one place. Connect the app to your bank accounts, credit cards and…

Maximize Your Money With Smart Investments

A penny saved is a penny earned, right? Savings is important piece of your financial wellbeing, but to really maximize your money—or even just keep pace with inflation—you also need to invest. During periods of stock market volatility, though, investing can be difficult to embrace. Understanding the basic history of the stock market, as well as different investment strategies can help boost your peace of mind as you look to invest even during periods of market volatility. What Investors Should Keep in Mind Though some people choose not to invest because they feel it’s a gamble, the real scoop is it’s not the same. Investing is about creating wealth through the economy. It is important to remember the stock market has historically trended up. That is not to say that there were not bear markets, like the Great Depression and the Great Recession, or that we will not face bear…

What You Should Think About When Thinking About Retiring

A Gallup Poll in 2016 reported that nearly two-thirds of Americans worried they did not have enough money for retirement. With other polls showing the retirement age is rising and more data showing Americans should expect to retire even later in life than previous generations, what effect does that have on your future plans? Check Your Savings and Create a Budget It seems to be an obvious first question: Do you have enough money socked away in savings? A majority of pre-retirees probably don’t have enough in savings if they wanted to quit working tomorrow. Life expectancies are growing, yes, but many Americans simply don’t save enough of their income to begin with. Savings should be at least 10 percent, if not more. For whatever reason, and it’s not always for reasons we can control, people tend to save less. How do you know if you’ve saved enough? And what…

Should Women Save for Retirement Differently Than Men?

With cost of living outpacing salary growth and an ever-increasing average lifespan, saving enough for retirement is daunting for anyone. Women, in particular, face challenges on the road to retirement that men do not, which result in reduced quality of living during their later years. A survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found only 12 percent of working women are “very confident” in their ability to retire comfortably. An additional 46 percent are “not too confident” or “not at all confident.” This lack of confidence is, unfortunately, warranted. The average Social Security benefit for women 65 and older is less than $14,000 per year, compared with $18,000 for men. As a result of this disparity, Women over 65 are 80 percent more likely than men to be living in poverty, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security. TIAA Chief Income Strategist Diane Garnick authored a report in…

The Social Security Dilemma: The Best Decision is a Personal One

The early bird gets the worm. The slow and steady tortoise wins the race. There are a multitude of adages defending both quick-acting people and those who delay decisions. When it comes to Social Security, there are advantages and disadvantages to collecting early or postponing the start of retirement benefits. Retirement Age and Percentages People who have paid into Social Security are eligible to start collecting their retirement benefits as early as 62 or as late as age 70. The amount of benefits received depends on how close someone is to their full retirement age when they begin collecting. Depending on someone’s year of birth, the full retirement age can vary. For example, individuals born between 1943 and 1954 have a full retirement age of 66.  Those born in 1960 or later have a retirement age of 67. If someone begins collecting benefits prior to the full retirement age, the…

7 Tips for Investing When You Don’t Have Much Money to Start

While investing isn’t right for everyone, it is a tried-and-true method of building wealth over time. Many people have the mistaken impression that investing is only for the super-rich, but that isn’t the case. Even if you only have a small amount to get started, you can absolutely invest. Follow along with these seven tips for investing when you don’t have much money to start. Start Small With Investing Apps Some brokerage accounts require a $100 minimum balance or more to get started, but modern investing apps let you open an account with no minimum. An app like Acorns let you start investing with only $5. App Robinhood is a brokerage with no trade fees or commissions so you can buy and sell stocks in small lots without losing a large portion of your investment to fees. Also, some larger brokerage firms allow you to open retirement accounts with a…

What Should You Do With an Extra $1,000?

So you find yourself with an unexpected, unbudgeted $1,000 sitting in your checking account. You don’t have to think about how that nice sum got there, but you do need to figure out what to do with it. It might be tempting to use the money on a series of small luxuries, but it wouldn’t be smart. And beyond fleeting glimpses of instant gratification, it wouldn’t be very satisfying. Make the most of your windfall by planning for it immediately. Assess your current financial and material needs, your goals for the immediate and far future, and decide where your $1,000 could best be spent or saved. Not sure where to start? Here are some smart ways to spend an extra $1,000: Begin or Bulk Up an Emergency Savings Fund While most experts recommend you keep around six months’ worth of living expenses in an easily-accessible savings account for emergencies, surveys…

Steps to Take to Retire Early

Early retirement has always been a dream of many people, but some are taking solid steps today to ensure an early retirement. Why work until you are 65 or 70 years old when you might be able to retire at 50 or even younger? Follow these steps to get on track for an early retirement. Save Aggressively To retire early, you will need money to support yourself and possibly your family, for the rest of your life. Social Security doesn’t kick in until you reach the government mandated 62 years old. You need a nest egg to live on. Experts agree that most people should save 10 percent to 15 percent of their gross income every payday to maintain the same standard of living in retirement. If you are retire early, you have fewer years to save. In this case, you should work to increase your savings to 50 percent or…