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How to Get Smaller Prices on Bigger-Ticket Purchases

We are all consumers and, as such, we find ourselves consuming at a broad range of prices, buying everything from soft drinks to cars to houses. When it comes to the bigger-ticket items, it helps to have a strategy for making those larger cash outlays. Budgeting should always be first on your list, to make sure you have cash available when a great price comes along. And if you have a big-ticket seasonal purchase in mind, consider seasonal budgeting. Aside from budgeting, one of the first things you should do is identify big-ticket purchases that you make all the time but may not recognize as premium items. Sure, you may need to drop the occasional bundle on a household appliance or vehicle, but there are everyday big-ticket items, too. It All Adds Up Add up how much you spend at the grocery store in the course of a year. If…

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…

How Your Credit Score Impacts Future Financial Goals

When it comes to your credit score, report and history, it’s important to remain vigilant, address issues, spend wisely and make payments on time.   Since your credit score is a reflection of your financial behaviors, your spending power is directly affected by your spending habits. A credit score also impacts your savings and future goals. Staying prompt with credit card payments and other debts will help to avoid a snowball of debt that may become unmanageable. And it will also help to maintain or improve your credit score over time. Establishing good credit creates a world of opportunity and sets you up for a future of great financial decisions. Even if your credit isn’t great, the good news is that it isn’t the end of the world. The Fair Isaac Corporation takes into account all of your credit behaviors, both good and bad. You will have plenty of opportunities…

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…

Teaching Kids About Money

A basic financial life skill is knowing how to live within your means – something that schools don’t teach. The live-now-pay-later lifestyle is alluring, with credit card companies targeting adults of all ages, starting with college students. It’s all too easy for young adults to max out several cards and paying the minimum each month until they’re in so deep they have no choice but to file for bankruptcy. Perhaps if parents can teach their children, starting at a young age, how to successfully manage money, the danger of living beyond their means could be prevented. Here are financial lessons you can teach your children to help them form sound money management skills they can carry into adulthood: Preschool, Ages 3 to 5: Sometimes You Have to Wait Desires of preschool kids are often easily granted and parents don’t think twice about grabbing that coveted toy as they wheel their…

How You Can Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

The statistics are sobering: 62 percent of Americans reported having less than $1,000 in savings. A full 20 percent have no savings accounts at all. And 78 percent of full-time workers indicate they are living paycheck to paycheck. Living paycheck to paycheck is a frustrating reality that many Americans feel trapped by, but it doesn’t have to last a lifetime. Analyzing your current financial situation, tracking your spending and taking small steps right now, it is possible to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. Tally Your Debts One of the biggest reasons 71 percent of American workers find themselves trapped in the paycheck to paycheck rut is debt. When a portion of your paycheck is already earmarked for something else, it is hard to get ahead. That is why it is essential to understand how much debt you owe. To tally debt properly, calculate the running balance on every single credit card,…

New Year's Resolutions: Money Edition

Less than half of New Year’s Resolutions last more than six months, even though most of them are designed to be longer-term improvements. Financial resolutions may fare even worse since it seems like there’s always some bill waiting to be paid, some upcharge that’s impossible to avoid, or some unexpected expense. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth setting – or that they’re impossible to keep. Unlike some financial advice that’s specific only to certain age groups, income levels or life stages, these small financial resolutions are attainable, impactful and nearly universal: Download an Automated Savings App Apps like Acorns and Digit, pull small sums of money from your checking account on a regular basis and save them electronically. You probably aren’t going to get you rich this way, but you get in the habit of saving if you aren’t already. And it’s a great way to start an emergency…

Tips on Saving for a First-Time Home Down Payment

Whenever the subject of buying a first home comes up, the conversation often turns to current interest rates. To hear some people talk, all it takes is the right interest rate to make home buying happen. While that can be, and often is, true, there are plenty of people for whom interest rates aren’t the primary concern. In fact, many would love to get to the point of worrying about interest rates. It’s that pesky down payment that concerns them. It’s recommended that homebuyers put down 20 percent or more in order to secure good financing. With the median home price in the U.S. averaging $320,000, that’s at least $64,000 homebuyers have to come up with before they even think about shopping for an interest rate. How can you put aside that kind of money? Well, unless you have direct access to cash in the form of a rich and…

Throwing a Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving Without Breaking the Bank

The holidays are a time for family, friends and feasts. Time spent together is the most important part of gathering together during the holiday season, but most people admit these gatherings wouldn’t be the same without the food – turkey, pumpkin pie, ham, mulled wine, rum balls and sugar cookies. But somewhere along the way (can we blame Instagram and Pinterest?), you may feel every holiday meal should look like it belongs in a magazine. Free-range turkeys dressed in epicurean herbs, 12 organic sides and elaborately crafted baked goods are delicious, but they’re a lot of work and frankly, they’re expensive. When you’re gearing up for arguably the most expensive months of the year, it’s not always wise – or possible – to empty your bank account for one meal. Thankfully, it’s also not necessary. It’s still possible to do a big, traditional Thanksgiving dinner on a budget. It’s All…