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Explaining the FIRE Movement

What if someone told you that you could retire in your 40s, 30s or even maybe late 20s if you put your mind to it? This sounds like some sort of fantasy to many people, but to a small group of dedicated budgeters it is anything but. They are members of the FIRE Movement, which stands for Financial Independence / Retire Early. If a very early retirement sounds like something you might enjoy, follow along to learn about the FIRE Movement and how you can get on track to your own early retirement. How FIRE Works for Early Retirement Early retirement has been a long-time dream for many American workers, but the FIRE movement emerged over the last decade as a viable method for many workers to escape their daily 9-5. One of the first noteworthy FIRE movement members is Mr. Money Moustache, an early retirement blogger who left his…

6 Things That Can Derail Your Savings and How to Get Back on Track

Finding extra money to save at the end of each month can be difficult. Mortgage, car payments, insurance, school loans and groceries, the list of budgeted expenses goes on. Add in unexpected expenses that are bound to pop-up and, at the end of the month, your paycheck is spoken for. While many of us have good intentions when it comes to saving, roadblocks often impede the way to savings success. Here are six things that can derail your savings and tips to get back on track and achieve your savings goals. Not Having a Clear Savings Plan and Budget Without a clear vision of your financial goals and a roadmap for achieving them, it’s easy to slip and let spending take the place of saving. Knowing what your saving for, whether it be retirement or a vacation, and how much you’ll need, helps you keep your eye on the prize.…

Get a Good Deal on a Last-Minute Getaway

February and March leave most people with a bit of cabin fever. The festivity and cheerfulness of the holidays are long over, and, for many of us, frigid temperatures and gray skies remain. Even if you live in a locale where the weather is relatively mild, there’s just something dull and dragging about this late-season slump. A last-minute weekend getaway is a popular way to beat the winter blues. And you can make it happen without breaking the bank. Here are some things to consider when you’re looking for a good deal on a last-minute getaway: It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination Often, wanting to get away last minute is more about the “getting away” than it is where you end up. That can work to your advantage. Lots of websites publish last-minute deals to cities and destinations you wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Head into your search with general…

Buying a Home? 5 Steps to Avoid Surprises

Buying a home is likely the biggest financial transaction of your life. With so much on the line, it is important to take the right steps to prepare for the home search and buying process. From figuring out how much home you can afford to signing your closing documents, follow these steps to prepare to buy a home and avoid unpleasant surprises. Calculating Your Home Purchase Budget Before you start looking for homes, it is important to understand how much home you can afford. There is nothing worse than going house hunting, finding a dream home and figuring out you can’t afford it. Rather than set yourself up for disappointment, do the math to figure out what you can afford as the first step of your home buying process. There are two main factors that determine what you can afford, the down payment and the monthly payment. The two are…

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…

Changes in Daily Habits Can Produce Big Savings

You’ve survived the big spending season known as the holidays and may be dismayed at the state of your finances – credit card bills due, depleted funds in your savings account and a general feeling of being broke. Welcome to January. If you’re like many people who make New Year’s resolutions, you may be dreaming about ending the cycle of spending too much with a firm resolve to increase your savings. Take courage – it’s not as hard as you may think. Here are some practical tips on how to live on less and save more in 2018: Sign up for Free Customer Rewards Programs Plenty of retailers, online as well as actual stores, offer rewards for shopping at their business. These are discounts, rebates and special sales just for members of the club. The down side is having your inbox filled with offers, sometimes several times a week or…

Estimate Your Income in Retirement Annually

Few people want to work forever, which means you will need savings. While every American is already saving some thanks to Social Security, you’ll likely need more if you want to maintain the same standard of living in retirement you enjoy today. And if you want to have a dream retirement, you’ll definitely need to make sure you save enough while you’re working to reach your goals. Start by estimating what you need and working backward to a savings rate. If that seems tricky, follow along with this guide and you’ll be on track to a great retirement. What You Need Drives What You Save Many people save for retirement by just guessing what they should be saving. Many people save enough to get an employer 401(k) match, but so many don’t save at all. And just because you’re saving some doesn’t mean you’ll have enough to sustain the same…

6 Holiday Tips to Improve Your Finances in 2018

If holiday shopping and social obligations have you seeing nothing but dollar signs, you can easily turn worried about your shrinking bank account and growing credit card debt into positive steps for the coming year. Take a little time now – in this busy month of December – to make small changes that will put you in better financial shape for 2018. Here are six tips to help you get started: Look Back At Your Spending If you mostly use credit and debit cards to cover your costs, it’s easy to look back through your statements for 2017 to figure out where your money went. It may be impossible to change your fixed costs – housing, utilities, car payments – but what about the decisions you make from week to week about what to buy and where to spend? You may find your lifestyle contributes to major cash outlays for…

Planning Ahead to Make Your Retirement Years Golden

What will your golden years look like? For many people, visions of cruises, beaches, golf courses and grandchildren fill their minds. People are much less likely to imagine the kind of long-term care that is necessary for many aging adults. While it may not be the blissful daydream of our imaginations, preparing for the possibility of long-term care is an important way to make the most of the golden years. Who Needs It Much like wills and life insurance, long-term care isn’t something that people enjoy thinking about. However, whether it is a parent, a spouse, a loved one, or even yourself, there is no denying long-term care is a reality that the majority of adults will have to confront at some point. Estimates from a 2005 study indicate that 69 percent of adults over the age of 65 will need at least one year of long-term care. That’s not…

7 Bad Money Habits That Can Ruin Your Finances

Habits can make or break our personal finance success. While good habits can help you build savings and live without financial stress, bad money habits can turn into a downward spiral of debt, fees and struggles. Making some small adjustments to your financial habits is easier than you may realize. Break these seven bad money habits to put yourself on track to a happy financial life. Making Only the Minimum Payment When you get a loan statement in the mail, whether it is from a credit card, mortgage or student loan, you can quickly find your minimum payment for the next month. The key word here is “minimum.” Paying only the minimum payment means you pay the maximum possible interest over the life of the loan. Every dollar you pay early saves you on interest every single month for the remainder of the loan’s life. The more you pay sooner…