Get the Best Mattress for Your Money

Some of the investments that we make are fairly straightforward. We will expect that we should buy our own place to live, and potentially a car as well. Making smart investments can pave the way for our futures. However, there are a lot of small investments that we can make in our everyday lives as well. For instance, have you ever considered your mattress to be an investment? Because it is! It is an investment in your physical and mental health. Having the right mattress is a good first step towards making improvements in your life. It can be tricky to find the best mattress for your money, so hopefully this article will enlighten you!

Analyze Your Needs

The type of mattress that would best suit your needs depends entirely on you. If you have a stiff and sore back, you will require a different mattress than if you wanted a plushier one. If you have chronic back pain, it is recommended that you speak to a doctor first about what you require. A firm, good quality mattress will probably be your best bet to alleviate your back pain. Memory foam is nice because it shapes itself around your body. This will give you the optimal back support that you require. If you do not have a chronic illness, it is likely that you will not need to spend top dollar on the most expensive mattress that you find. However, it is still a good idea to invest a fair amount of money in a nice mattress for yourself. After all, you will be spending much of your life sleeping, so why shouldn’t you have a great place to do it? Some people have even different needs, and they are looking for something that their guests can use. Futon mattresses are nice because they can easily be tucked out of the way in a guest bedroom.

Do Not Spend Full Price

Mattresses can be found from a multitude of suppliers, all who want you to buy their product over their competitor’s. This means that these suppliers will be offering coupons and/or deals for their mattresses fairly frequently. Keep an eye out for these deals, because they will save you a significant amount of money. If you spend less money on a good mattress that will last many years, you are making a wise investment. Another good time to invest in a mattress would be days like Black Friday or Boxing Day. These are the times when merchandise in stores is on sale the most. However, there is likely to be a great deal of people who have the same idea as you. This is why it is important to do your research beforehand, so that you know exactly what it is that you came into the store for.

Pay Attention to the Fine Print

Warranties on a mattress can be helpful if you know exactly how they can be applied. Sometimes however, people are tricked by the wording on warranties. Certain models of mattresses cannot be returned to the store if a mattress protector was not used on them. As well, if you did not use a box spring under the mattress, this is another means of dismissing the warranty. A manufacturer’s defect, such as a broken spring or bad foam, can occur in any mattress. A warranty typically covers a manufacturer’s defect for a certain period of time. Overall, it is a good idea to get a warranty for your mattress, because it is protecting the investment that you worked towards.

Take Advantage of Trials

Most mattress manufacturers, good ones anyway, will offer a sleep trial. This usually comes in the form of 30 days or 100 nights, for example, and allows the buyer to take the bed home and test it out. Remember, a bed that’s perfect for one person may not be the best for you. These sleep trials let you figure out if your new purchase is the best one and if it’s not, it allows you to return the bed for a full refund. So be sure to keep an eye out when shopping around.

Conclusion

Although you may not have thought about it, furnishing your home can involve making some pretty major decisions about investments. Good quality products come at a price, and some people are not inclined to pay it. Investing in a good mattress will provide you with a higher quality of sleep and an overall better feeling as you go through your day, without breaking your budget. When deciding to buy a new mattress it is important to analyze your exact needs, watch out for deals, and get a warranty. If you follow these tips you will be making a wise investment in your mattress, and therefore in your life.

Investing in Household Improvements

It is likely that buying a house will be one of the biggest investments that you will make in your lifetime. This means that you should work towards protecting your investment. To ensure that  the value of your house goes up, you should be investing in household improvements. Keeping everything maintained and repaired will prevent your home from deteriorating over the years. Knowing which aspects of your home should receive the most attention is tricky. Allocating your time and resources to your home is a balancing act, and therefore you should focus on a few points in particular.

Replace the Roof

Having a leaky roof can be disastrous to your home. Rain can seep in and flood the house, ruining all of your possessions. Replacing your roof can be a big decision, but it will definitely pay off for you in the end! Having a new roof can drastically improve the overall look and function of your house. If you are planning on selling your house, a new roof can increase the value. A new roof is a selling point to buyers who usually seek the advice of an inspector before they purchase the house.

Landscaping

The backyard of a home can sometimes be overlooked, so do not make this mistake yourself! Backyards can bring a lot of value into your home. They can also add enjoyment to your lives, because you can spend a great deal of family time there. Taking the time to add grass and plants can improve the look of the whole property. To assist you on your landscaping journey, you can look into some good quality equipment. For example, you can browse through some of the best rated wheelbarrows and pick one out. If you are really feeling adventurous, you could try adding something bigger to your yard, such as a pool.

Kitchen Remodels

The kitchen is a room that will add the most value to your home if it is redone. The kitchen is an area that will get very high amounts of traffic throughout the day, with people coming in and out. This is why you should focus your efforts on making the kitchen look newer and updated. The finishes do not need to be high-end, but they should look functional and nice. You could update the countertop and use a higher-grade material. Repainting the cabinets can go a long way towards the overall appearance of the kitchen. Replacing the fixtures is another quick way to give your kitchen a makeover. It is the little things that potential buyers will look for and will spend more money on.

Bathroom Remodels

Bathrooms are the other major rooms that you should focus on redoing. They will bring in a lot of value with a few changes. The most important investment you can make in a bathroom is to make sure that it is functional. If you have a bathroom that is leaking or shows signs of water damage, this won’t be bringing up its value. Fix up all the possible areas that are not working. Then you can start to work on the cosmetic changes. Changing the countertop and sink is a good way to increase the value. If the bathroom is very obviously dated, it may be a good idea to bring it up to a modern style. This will make you love the new facelift, and you will not be forced to use a decrepit, unstylish bathroom.

The Small Things

If any of the reno ideas we’ve listed are not within your budget, but you still want to invest in updating your home, then consider doing various small projects. Repainting all the walls inside can really spruce up your home and give it new life. It’s also really affordable. Another great idea is to replace all the hardware like door knobs, cabinet handles, and faucets. For the exterior, try your hand at resurfacing your deck and stairs. You’d be surprised what a difference it can make.

Conclusion

If you are investing in your home, you are taking bold steps in the right direction. Houses are big responsibilities, but they will give you back everything you spent on them and more if you do it correctly. Maintaining and updating your house is important if you want to increase it’s value. This might be for your own benefit, or it might be because you are thinking about selling it. Either way, your house will shine with your efforts, and the value will be raised. Living in a house you worked hard for and love will be a great thing for you and your family! Remember that small changes can go a long way if you are not ready to renovate the whole place. Later on, when you have more saved up, you can go back and tackle the projects that you did not get to before.

A Comprehensive Cars.com Review

Many of us have read about Cars.com online or in the latest issue of USA Today. They’ve been endorsed by national news outlets and are most often associated with the online sale, trade and purchase of a new or used car. What some people might not know are the actual benefits of using their website. The benefits are actually pretty amazing, and might be more of what you are bargaining for when it comes to buying and maintaining your car.

Benefit 1: Research Car Models

So many times people go into a car dealership and get charged extortionate sticker prices, because they simply don’t know what a car is worth. Cars.com is a great place to know exactly what you are getting, the true value of the car, and just what you should be paying for your new or used car. With an easy comparison on cars.com, you can look at just about every make and model you might like to buy. All while comparing payments and learning just how much you should put down in order to finance your next car. You can also review a dealer, review a car, and read others reviews for honest comparisons by consumers just like you.

Benefit 2: The American-Made Index

Cars.com has come out a rating system, with something so many people look for in a car, a rating system that tells the consumer just how American their car really is. If you want to know what it takes to call a car American, look no further. In 2017, “Cars.com has revamped its longstanding American-Made Index for the first time. Over the AMI’s 11-year history, the number of models meeting our original criteria has fallen due to the globalization of automobile manufacturing — from more than 60 vehicles in the AMI’s inaugural year to eight last year. By the original requirements, only three 2017 models would have qualified this year.” If you’re looking to buy American made cars with American made parts, www.cars.com is the place to look for your next vehicle. Quite often buyers want to know if their engine was completely sourced in the U.S. Or they really want to know that an American vehicle was manufactured by an American car company. You can find all of that out and more in The American-Made Index.

Benefit 3: Service & Repair Options

Cars.com doesn’t just help you buy, sell and trade cars. They don’t just tell you which cars are American made and which hybrids offer more value for money when bought new. Cars.com actually offers you even more with their service and repair options. Not only can you get a service estimate and find a service center, you can also read some great advice on car service and repairs. Cars.com offers expert service advice on maintenance, brakes, coolant systems, drive trains and transmissions, electrics, engines, and so much more. Whether you are trying to figure out what is wrong with your car, or how to fix something yourself, their comprehensive advice is well worth the read. You can also read up on the latest safety recalls and notices, so you are on the up and up when it comes to keeping you safe on the open road.

Cars are an essential part of some people’s daily lives. They get you too and from work, take your kids to practice and summer camp, get some people to and from school, and often are the centerpiece of summer road trips and family vacations. That’s why it’s important to really be knowledgeable on cars and Cars.com can keep you in the know.

Healthy Costco Foods

Last week Costco announced that they were going to be raising their membership fees.  The fee hike was relatively small, only 9%.  Executive members will now pay a $120 a year fee, while Gold Star members will now pay $60 a year.  Despite the minimal increase in a customer’s yearly fee, a shopper can still rake in many savings at the retail giant.  Costco shoppers go to the warehouse to buy items in bulk.  It is great for large families, but I even know of individuals with memberships that see the many benefits of shopping there.  While savings can abound at Costco, buying quality, healthy products can provide a big benefit.  There is a huge health benefit of buying healthy Costco foods that extends far beyond your budget and to one’s longevity.

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Healthy Costco Foods

Buying healthy Costco foods in bulk can help stretch your grocery budget for a given month.  For example, I try to set aside $350 per month to spend on food.  This includes eating out as well as purchases from Costco and other grocery stores.  A family of four might have a monthly food expenditure of around $1000.  The great part about buying food in bulk is that often times you can get a better price than buying the same item individually.  Many who purchase items in bulk at Costco tend to go ahead and plan for long shelf lives for these items.  For example, toilet paper and condiments are a few items where you can experience savings by buying in bulk.  Additionally, these items along with others can be stored in a pantry for many years down the road.  Shopping for lean healthy meats at Costco can provide a huge savings to a family of four as well.  Purchasing healthy Costco foods such as lean chicken breasts in bulk can provide healthy nutrition and savings.  By purchasing many pounds of lean chicken at once, you can slice and divide the breasts to your liking, put them in plastic Ziploc bags, and simply freeze them until a later date.  Even when shopping at grocery stores, one of the tricks I do is purchase items when they are on sale.  One week, chicken might be on sale for $1.99/lb while the next week it is $2.99/lb.  Organizing purchases so you take advantage of them during sales is the best way to optimize your monthly grocery budget.

Costco has a good reputation among shoppers. This is partly because of the quality of their products, but it is also due to their excellent customer service and robust returns policy.  So, if you’re shopping for organic food at Costco, there isn’t a lot of downside – the chances are good they’ll accept the product back if you want to return it.

While I’m raving about Costco they also have good prices on tires and are open on most major holidays, so you can get your car serviced while you’re picking up your groceries.

Buying healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive, and buying healthy Costco foods doesn’t have to cost a lot either.  When shopping for groceries, the keys are to buy in bulk when available and to also buy during sale prices for an item.  Finally, by planning your purchases ahead of time by making a list, you can avoid unneeded items.  Eating healthy and sticking to your budget doesn’t have to be hard.

2017: Starting a Roth IRA

We are now well into the new year, but it is never too late to get your finances off to the right start.  Budgeting should have been and still should be your number one goal for the year.  If you haven’t started a budget, you should.  If you have started a budget, then great, keep it up!  At budgetandinvest.com we talk also about investing and the right ways to do it.  One of the best ways to invest your money is by starting a Roth IRA.  This retirement vehicle has many benefits, the main being that your gains and distributions are tax-free when you take your withdrawals.  How do I start a Roth IRA?  I’m about to show you how.

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Starting a Roth IRA

Step 1: Determine if starting a Roth IRA is right for you.  There are a few rules you have to remember when starting.  For example, you can only contribute a maximum of $5500 per year unless you are 50 years of age or older, then you can contribute $6500.  Also, there are income limits to consider.  If you are a single tax filer who makes $300,000 a year, you can’t participate in a Roth IRA.  Additionally, the money you contribute must remain until you are 59 1/2 years old, except for a few exceptions.  For a full list of rules visit: 2017 Roth IRA.

Step 2: Once you have determined that starting a Roth IRA is right for you, the next step is opening up one online.  It is easy to do and requires about ten minutes of your time.  I’d recommend opening it up through one of the following sites:

Vanguard

TD Ameritrade

Fidelity

Step 3: After you have opened your Roth IRA, it is important for you to contribute additional money to it on an ongoing basis.  This allows you to take advantage of Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA).  Ideally you would like to max out your Roth IRA contribution every year if you are able to.  Also, contributing a set amount on a constant basis will allow you to invest your dollars during stock market highs and lows.

Step 4: Stick to a plan, be patient, and watch it grow.  Building a large Roth IRA doesn’t take a stroke of luck or perfect financial acumen, it simply boils down to a few key steps.  Open up a Roth IRA, contribute to it on an ongoing basis (the maximum is preferred), allow your dividends to reinvest, and don’t touch your money.

Whether you have a company 401k, a pension or 403b, a Roth IRA is a great complement to any individual’s retirement plan.  The tax-free income that it can provide in retirement will allow you to offset many of the taxes you will be forced to pay with ordinary retirement accounts and social security.  Don’t hesitate in opening one, the best time to start is now!

Budget Smart, Invest Wise

 

What is the Starting Credit Score?

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Starting Credit Score

Having a credit score can have many benefits.  Wait, having a good or great credit score can have many benefits.  As we go through life, credit becomes an essential tool for an individual to progress through society.  You can use credit to purchase everyday items, a car or a house.  Without credit, some of the essential purchases we rely on to carry us through our lives every day would be unavailable, such as a car for transportation to and from work.  Having a credit score and a good one at that can allow you to get the best deal on large purchases and also helps create a financially responsible person.  But just how does one get a starting credit score, and where do you begin?  I will lay out some of the easiest way to start down the path of a good credit score.

Step 1 to getting a starting credit score:

The first thing you need to do to get a starting credit score is simply to get credit.  The easiest way to do this that I recommend is by opening up a $0 annual fee credit card.  Your monthly limit won’t be all that much, most likely less than $1000.  Commit to making a couple easy purchases on it every month and paying it off at its due date.  For example, a couple tanks of gas or a visit to the grocery store is all it takes to start building your credit.  It is vital to pay off the full amount after a month’s time before the card’s due date

Step 2 to getting a starting credit score:

The second step to building a starting credit score is to continue purchases with your credit card and meet the monthly payment date, along with exploring an additional option of building your score.  If you rent an apartment, sometimes the apartment complex allows you to report your on-time payments to credit agencies.  Additionally, if you have student loans you are paying back, this also will show up on one’s credit report.  Time is a big factor in your credit score.  It usually takes at least six months for you to build your first credit score.  Image result for credit score rangeIf you make on-time payments in full, you can expect a score anywhere in the range of 675 to 740.

Step 3 to getting a starting credit score:

By step 3, you should already have shown a positive pattern to creditors through making payments on a timely manner.  The most important part of this step is just to be patient.  Building a good or great credit score takes time.  Two of the bigger factors that impact your credit score are the length of time you have had credit and the number of accounts you have that required credit.  Chances are as you start building your credit both of these factors won’t be too much in your favor.

In summary, there are many benefits to building a good credit score, but it all boils down to a few simple factors.  Firstly, you need to begin building credit through a $0 annual fee credit card, student loan repayment, etc.  Secondly, you MUST make your full payments and make them ON TIME.  Finally, you need to be patient.  It takes time to build a great credit score, but if you budget correctly and make sure not to spend above your income level then a great score will eventually come.

Saving for a Vacation: Ski Edition

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Saving for a Vacation: Ski Edition

We are currently in the heart of wintertime.  January and February are the coldest months in the United States.  While many people despise cold weather, many can agree that the snow which comes with it can be a nice compliment.  Although summertime seems to be the time when most families vacation, a ski trip during winter allows some families to break the mold.  Saving for a vacation is only half the battle.  While having the available funds to do something enjoyable is important, finding a good deal is also just as important.  I recently planned a ski vacation and will share my six tips on how I saved and budgeted for the vacation.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 1:

If you are like me and enjoy traveling with family and friends, then it is important to have a “Travel” category in your budget.  Setting aside $100 or $200 every month for travel allows the funds to add up and allows you to have a couple enjoyable vacations every year.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 2:

Vacationing for many people means eating out every meal, which can get very expensive.  Packing snacks ahead of time and a quick trip to the grocery store when you arrive can help limit your food costs.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 3:

Plan for transportation ahead of time.  Booking a rental car before you arrive to the airport is often cheaper than waiting until you arrive at the destination to get one.  Kayak.com is a great place to search for the best rental car rates.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 4:

If flying to a destination, use Google Flights to search for the best rates.  Google Flights allows you to search many airlines at once and see the cheapest rates for the best dates.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 5:

When booking a ski vacation, book your lift tickets and ski or snowboard rentals online.  Keystone Resort in Colorado offers online reservations to early bookers for a 20% discount.  Additionally, you can rent your equipment cheaper online ahead of time as well.  By booking my equipment through Christy Sports I was able to save an additional 20% versus the walk-in rate.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 6:

Lodging tends to be one of the more expensive parts of any vacation.  Last year when I traveled to Hawaii, a night at a resort was close to $600 per night; however, a couple friends and myself split a three bedroom Airbnb for less than $150 per night.  Exploring your lodging options can help greatly reduce the cost of any vacation.

As you can see, saving for a vacation is a two-fold strategy.  You first want to make sure you have the available funds.  This is done by creating money in your budget.  Secondly, you want to make sure you find the best deals out there.  I have found that planning for a vacation ahead of time is one of the easiest ways to save on your trip.  Meshing both of these aspects together can help create an enjoyable, budget friendly trip for all.

How to Become Independently Wealthy

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How to Become Independently Wealthy

Becoming wealthy is a goal many of us hope to achieve in our lifetime.  Whether you want to be wealthy so you can have unbelievable lifelong experiences or to validate your success, the goal is often dreamed of but rarely achieved.  Ken Fisher, the author of The Ten Roads to Riches, discusses the many ways people can achieve wealth throughout their lifetime, ten to be exact.  All of these roads have proven to make someone independently wealthy throughout their lives.  Some are more common than others.  So if the question of how to become independently wealthy has crossed your mind, I will discuss two of the ten Ken illustrates in his book.




How to Become Independently Wealthy: Save and Invest Wisely

I usually sign off my posts with a simple phrase: Budget Smart, Invest Wise.  Budgeting allows you to allocate your funds to various categories, and hopefully one of those categories is savings.  Whether your savings vehicle is an IRA, Roth IRA or other type of investment, saving money is critical to building wealth.  However, saving is only half of the battle to building wealth this way.  The other key ingredient is investing wisely.  Investing wisely means creating a smart investment plan, be it with a financial advisor or through acquired knowledge, that creates a return on one’s investment.  For example, I have found that investing on a monthly basis in a mutual fund that covers the broad range of the U.S. Stock Market to be of most benefit to me.  I recognize that this investment, although it has risk involved, prevents me from being susceptible to the failure of one company or one sector of the market.  Saving and investing wisely is the road most traveled, but it also provides the greatest chance of reward.

How to Become Independently Wealthy: Invent Income

Inventing income can cover a wide spectrum of earning additional money.  For example, if you are a song writer or musician, you can create an ongoing stream of royalties from your lyrics or music.  If you purchase a property that you decide to rent out, you could turn it into a cash flow positive stream of income.  The possibilities are endless.  Maybe you have a specific skill that people are willing to pay for you to teach them.  Perhaps your area of expertise at work can lead to consulting other companies on the side.  Do you have something you’re passionate about that you can create into a blog or website and charge for ad revenue?  Many of us have the tools, knowledge and capabilities to put our talents towards creating additional income.

Becoming independently wealthy or successful all boils down to one’s level of commitment.  If you are committed to becoming independently wealthy, then most likely you can find a way.  Some individuals, like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, created an enormous amount of wealth.  Maybe you want billions like these company creators, or maybe you will be satisfied with millions or even a million.  Only you can determine what being wealthy is to you.

How To Trim Your Budget

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With the new year in full swing, people are doing their best to stick to the freshly made New Year’s Resolution’s they mapped out for themselves.  The most common resolution always seems to be losing weight.  Instead of going with the status quo resolution this year, why not try to trim something else?  Your budget perhaps?




How to cut my expenses? Is a question often asked by many in order to free up funds in their daily lives.  Maybe they are living paycheck to paycheck, maybe they are trying to save up money for a special purchase, either way trimming your budget is the best way to go about doing this.

For starters, you need to have a budget.  You can download a free budget template and simply put in your income and expenses.  The best part about budgeting is you get to see where your hard-earned money is going every month.  Perhaps you are spending a large portion on eating out, can you bring your lunch instead of going out to eat?  If so, you might be able to not only cut some expenses but trim your waistline also.

The free downloadable budget allows you to choose the expense categories you have for a given month.  Say for example you spend $100 a month on your cellphone bill, can you change service providers and possibly get the monthly expense down to $80 per month?  If so, you have freed up $20 per month or $240 for the entire year.  Can you trim $10 a month off your grocery bill by purchasing generic products versus name brand?  This can be an additional $120 in savings for the year.  Attempting to save as little as $10 to $20 per category for a few of your monthly expenses can add up to some awesome end of the year savings.

Below is a quick easy way to trim your budget:

  • Create a budget: If you don’t already have one, now is the best time to start budgeting. This will determine where you are spending your money every month.
  • Track all of your expenses: See just how much you are spending in the various categories every month. Some may surprise you.
  • Pick 2-4 categories: By selecting a few categories where you think you can cut some expenses you will maximize your yearly savings.
  • See how much you can cut: It can be $5, $10, $20 or maybe even more per category per month. Living on a little less each month won’t change your quality of life for the worse.  Instead, you can use the money saved to enhance it by saving up for a vacation or a future purchase.
  • Don’t incur new expenses: While trimming your budget to save up money is the ultimate goal, don’t incur new expenses during the process. A car payment or a gym membership will quickly eat away at the money you are trying to save.

Stick to it: Trimming your budget will only be beneficial to your wallet if you stick to it.  Developing discipline for sticking to a budget can be tough but also very rewarding.

 

Confessions of A Former Credit Addict

Confessions of A Former Credit Addict
I need to make a confession. My financial life is in ruins. I am badly in need of credit repair. Throughout the past few months, I have searched for ways to atone for my past money mistakes. Methods that will wipe away old debts and missed payments like squeegee water from a windshield car, idling at a stoplight in Manhattan.




My past misdeeds include filling up my first credit card with hundreds of dollars in bar tabs during freshman year of college. Walking through the quad one day, I came upon a folding table loaded with free t-shirts bearing the logo of a mid-Atlantic bank. I had to have one of those shirts. So I signed up for a credit card with a limit of $800, despite being a full-time student with no income. And promptly spent most of it at local pizza places and a T.G.I. Friday’s where my fraternity brothers bartended.

All that semi-astute financial decision making left me as unprepared fawn in the wilds of the real world during my 20s. I spent freely, saved little and cared less. Debts were left to collection agencies and leases were handled by my parents and girlfriends.

So I have made it a mission to find and call out the best credit repair companies throughout the land. Today I own a house and 2 cars, living a good school district. All thanks to taking advantage of the great credit repair services from places like Sky Blue Credit Repair.

Credit repair is a necessary service these days. The country is under duress, with household after household struggling under the weight of overleveraged houses and unsustainable credit card debt. That is a recipe for financial disaster.

With all that credit card debt, individuals and families end up victims of horrible, terrible, no-good credit. That means that, more than ever, credit repair is needed by many people. SkyBlue Credit Repair is particularly skilled at helping consumers decide what to dispute and when to do it. It has a very accelerated dispute process because it takes 15 items at once (5 from each of the 3 credit bureaus) and disputes them all at the same time. For those clients with numerous negative items, Sky Blue could be the answer to faster score improvements.

Sky Blue even goes as far as to offer a 90-day, risk-free guarantee, meaning that if you are not satisfied for any reason during that time period, just tell them why and you can get your money back. Their pricing is reasonable: $59 to set up and $59 a month after that.

For more information and reviews about skybluecreditrepair.com, you can feel free to visit their website.