3 Easy Post New Year’s Financial Resolutions

A new year signals a new start for many people.  Whether it is with your health, your relationships, or your finances, it is as good a time as any for a re-birthing.  When it comes to one’s finances, there are some relatively easy New Year’s financial resolutions you can do to exit 2018 in a better financial position than when you started.  Listed below are 3 easy post New Year’s financial resolutions you can make.

Financial Resolution 1: Build an Emergency Fund

It is estimated that roughly one out of every three American adults has no money stashed away in an emergency fund.  This often means that they will have to take on high-interest credit card debt in order to pay for an unexpected expense.  No matter your age, any amount of money in an emergency fund will be of benefit.  Focus on saving $100 a month into an emergency fund.  By the end of 2018, you will have $1200 stashed away for those unexpected expenses.

Financial Resolution 2: Create a Budget

Earning money is important, but also of high importance is tracking your spending.  I love the following example:

A teacher making $40,000 in annual post-tax salary, but spending $35,000 of it, has more savings at the end of the year than a doctor earning $120,000 in post-tax salary but spending $130,000.

The point of this example is that if you can make a lot, but if you spend a lot you will never get rich.  Budgeting allows you to monitor you income while also keeping track of your expenses.  We offer a free monthly budget on our website to help you get this resolution underway.

Financial Resolution 3: Open an IRA

Recent tax reform has lessened the financial burden of taxes on many individuals and families, but another way to reduce taxes while funding retirement is through an IRA.  Traditional and Roth IRA’s are both good options to help save for those late years in life.  I prefer a Roth IRA; you put in after-tax money now, and it grows tax-free and has tax-free withdrawals.  Most people qualify for IRA’s, and the best part is that they are easy to open.  Many IRA’s can be started with as little as $100.

Not everyone is a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but that is part of the reason why people make them.  They have goals they want to achieve.  Those goals may be monetary, personal or health, either way they hope to be in a better place at the end of the year than they were at the beginning.  If you haven’t made a New Year’s resolution, it isn’t too late.  We aren’t even a week into the new year.  I challenge you to try at least one of these 3 easy post New Year’s financial resolutions and make your finances great again.

Budget Smart, Invest Wise

Annual Costs of Owning a Dog

They are often referred to as man’s best friend.  As a dog owner, I can assure you this statement is quite true.  Each day when I come home from work, I look forward to seeing the wagging tail and the kisses that come upon my arrival.  Owning a dog is great, some would even say fantastic; however, despite the kisses and tail wags, one’s wallet can take a hit.  The size of the dog does play in to a lot of these factors.  My dog weighs 35 lbs and is considered by most to be a medium sized dog.  The numbers that follow for annual costs of owning a dog are based on a medium sized dog.  Smaller dogs tend to be cheaper, while larger dogs tend to be more expensive, so please bear that in mind.  A budget is the easiest way to track your expenses when it comes to your pet.

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My dog Vera

Dog Food & Treats

The most common and never-ending expense of owning a dog comes down to the dog food one has to purchase.  The price of that food can vary depending on the brand and type.  For instance, I feed my dog Purina Dog Chow, which is by no way the most expensive, but also isn’t the cheapest.  I usually am able to purchase a 36 lb bag for $25.  I estimate I go through 4 of these bags a year for my dog so $100 in annual cost for food.  When it comes to treats, I like to reward my puppy with a rawhide, various snacks, peanut butter and Dentastix (or similar).  I estimate that my yearly cost spent on treats comes out to $75.

Total Annual Cost: $175

Medication/Shots:

It is moral and also the law to give your dog the necessary vaccinations that they require in a given year.  I’ll first begin with medication.  My dog requires heart worm and flea protection just like any other dog.  For this, I use an all in one preventative treatment called Sentinel.  A year’s prescription of this treatment costs $100 for my dog.  Dog’s are also required by law to get a list of shots to maintain good health for the dog and other’s around it.  These can include the rabies vaccine among others.  The shots typically run me $150 a year when it is all said and done.

Total Annual Cost: $250

Boarding/Daycare/etc.

Every person’s situation is different.  If you like to travel and you have a dog then be prepared to spend around $25/night for boarding.  I tend to use friends and family to watch my pooch and usually pay them back with beer, a meal or an IOU.  Daycare is also another popular cost among dog owners.  Many view their dogs as an extension of their family and thus like for them to be well-cared for and interact with other dogs.  Daycare for dogs can run anywhere from $12-$25 a day on upwards.

Total Annual Cost: $250

Annual Cost of Owning a Dog: Final Results

If you total up my three previous sections, the total annual costs of owning a dog for me comes out to $675.  Again, this can vary depending on the lifestyle of the dog, what type of food you buy, and a number of other factors.  This example is only meant to give potential dog owners an idea of what to expect.  At the end of the day, my dog is priceless and whatever I can give her to make her happy and see her tail wag is worth it’s weight in gold.

Budget Smart, Invest Wise

Is a $250K Net Worth at 28 Possible?

I often write a number of net worth pieces on athletes, coaches and other famous individuals, but what about the rest of us who aren’t worth millions?  Your age and net worth should have a positive correlation, the older you get the better the opportunity to build your net worth.  That is why I pose the question, is a $250,000 net worth before you are 30 even possible?  The answer is yes!

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Net Worth Formula

We are familiar with young stars such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and Andrew Wiggins having a net worth in the high millions, but what about the rest of us?  Let’s first talk about what net worth actually means.  As is illustrated in the image above, net worth is calculated with a simple equation.  You take all of your assets (house, retirement accounts, cars, etc.) and from that you subtract all of your liabilities (mortgage, debts).  The resulting equation will equal one’s net worth.

As previously stated, net worth tends to increase the older you get.  That is why I am looking forward to my future net worth.  At 28 years of age, my net worth already exceeds a quarter of a million dollars.

How have I been able to build a $250k net worth?

There were a number of smart financial decisions I made in order to build my wealth in such a short period of time.  When I began my first job at the age of 23 (just five years ago), I had a negative net worth.  There were student loans I had to pay back, and after being in college for four years I didn’t have a chance to save much money.  I focused on paying off my debts, in this case my student loans.  Getting out of debt is crucial to building one’s net worth.

The next thing I focused on to build my net worth was by budgeting and investing.  The focus of this blog today is still the same as it was when I began it three years ago, budget and invest.  You can still download a free monthly budget template on this site.  Budgeting allowed me to focus on paying off my debts while also helping me determine how much money I could save in a given month.  This process helped me towards my $250k net worth that I am seeing today.

The final step was focusing on my earning potential.  I switched jobs a couple times, each time to a position that paid me more than the previous.  I also, turned my house purchase into a cash flow positive rental property.  By increasing my earning power and paying off my debts I have now been able to save more than ever before.

Each person’s financial situation is different.  There are plenty of individual’s in their twenties who are worth a lot more than me and there are also plenty that are worth a lot less.  I was once told long ago that you cannot focus on someone else’s earnings and net worth, you have to focus on your own.  After all, only you can control your financial decisions.

Budget Smart, Invest Wise

 

2018 401(k) Contribution Limit Unveiled

Death and taxes.  The two things that most say are certain in life.  Well now at least when it comes to taxes you might be able to avoid some because of a recent decision by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The IRS recently came out with the guidelines for 2018 when it comes to tax-advantaged retirement accounts.  Although none of the changes were dramatic, they made a few tweaks that will allow individuals to boost retirement savings in certain tax friendly accounts.

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The 2018 401(k) contribution limit is being pushed slightly upward to $18,500 per year.  This is a $500 increase on what it used to be.  Individuals who are 50 and over can still save an additional $6,000 meaning some can contribute as much as $24,500 into a company 401(k) plan.  While an increase in the 2018 401(k) contribution limit came about for the upcoming year, other retirement plans such as IRA’s and Roth IRA’s remain unchanged.  You are still only able to contribute $5,500 per year to both traditional or Roth IRA.

IS CONTRIBUTING TO A 401(k) A GOOD IDEA?

The short answer is absolutely!  While not all companies offer 401(k) plans for employees, a lot do.  It is highly recommend that you put in at least the minimum amount required to get the full match your company offers.  Once you have done this, see if you can contribute a little bit more and further increase your retirement savings.  At my first job, I began contributing 6% which was what I needed to do to get the entirety of my company’s match; however, I began to increase it over time.  Get a 3% raise?  Try increasing your 401(k) contribution by 2%.  This was a simple and easy method I did each time I’d receive one, and the best part was I never missed the money at all.

IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE TO CONTRIBUTE $18,500 OR $24,500 TO A 401(k)?

Yes again.  Is it hard?  Sure it can be, but is it doable?  Absolutely.  How do I know it’s possible?  Because I myself max out my retirement account for my 401(k).  I never see the money.  It’s taken directly out of my paycheck, so I never miss out on spending it.  The recent increase of the 2018 401(k) contribution limit is something that I will take advantage of.  A small percentage bump can make a lasting impact during one’s retirement.

In closing, the increase of the 2018 401(k) contribution limit won’t have much of an impact on most people.  Very few actually max out their retirement accounts.  But if you’re like myself, then you welcome the news with open arms.  While 2018 saw an increase to the 401(k) contribution limit, 2019 has a very good chance to see an increase for contribution limits to both traditional and Roth IRA’s.  Only time will tell.

Budget Smart, Invest Wise

Easiest Way to Become Landlord (From a Guy Who Knows)

Passive income is a term we hear about but might not truly understand.  What is passive income?  It’s the ability to generate a source of income where one is not directly involved.  One example can be dividends from stock and bond investments, but a more common passive income is rental income.

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Becoming a landlord and generating income might seem like a big task, but it can actually be done with a relatively simple process.  In the steps that follow, I will discuss the easiest way to become a landlord.  These steps are easy because I have done it, and it wasn’t very difficult.

Easiest Way to Become a Landlord (3 Steps)

Step 1:

The first step in becoming a landlord is to own a property, and thus purchasing one.  Right after school, I moved to a brand new city I had never lived in before.  I lived with an old friend for six months before I purchased my first home.  Whenever you begin thinking about purchasing a residence, always make sure you know the area.  For example, the home I purchased was near a local college and had many long-term residents as neighbors.  To complete this step requires a little bit of research, an understanding of the area you reside, and the ability to make the purchase.

Step 2:

Live in the place you purchase.  Many people get caught up in buying a rental property and renting it out immediately.  While this may work for some people, it can be a stressful situation.  You have to make sure the house is in livable condition, you have to market the place, then you have to meet potential tenants at the place throughout the week to show them the property.  All of this adds up and makes finding a tenant a long and complicated process.  By living in the place you purchase for say a year or two, you become comfortable with the property.  You won’t have to travel to show it to potential tenants, you can create your own date the property will become available, and you give yourself time to find another living situation while you look to create income.  I lived in my house for 18 months before I began renting it out.  The best part was that it was right at the beginning of summer which meant… No yard work! If you catch yourself needing to do some work around the house and you’re on a budget, you can get great vouchers and discounts online to save on these expenses.

Step 3:

Find a good tenant and pronounce yourself “Landlord”.  Although finding a good tenant isn’t always the easiest part, you can use your best judgement and various tools in order to ensure you are getting yourself into a good situation.  I made all of my applicants run a credit report on themselves and provide me with the results.  Bad credit can sometimes mean a bad tenant.  I also required the tenant to provide an additional month’s rent to ensure payments were never behind.

While there might be many easy ways to become a landlord, for me the easiest way to become a landlord was through the process I outlined above.  I have now been a landlord going on four years and having someone else pay my mortgage feels like quite the accomplishment.

Budget Smart, Invest Wise

 

Don’t Let an Accident Jeopardize Your Stability: Why Income Protection Insurance is Essential to a Family Plan

Every year, millions of Americans find themselves out of work either due to prolonged illness or injury or because their employer has ceased trading. Unfortunately, without the gift of foresight it is just not possible to predict how events may conspire against you in the future but you can take some steps to give yourself maximum protection against all eventualities.

When a principal breadwinner loses their income, it can have a devastating ripple effect on the rest of the family. If the reasons behind your inability to work are medical, there are the additional expenses to factor in to your household budget which has already lost most of its income stream. Struggling to pay for expenses in this situation can lead to additional stress and even confrontation within the family.

What is Income Protection Insurance?

Income protection insurance is also known as permanent health insurance as it is in place over the long term to protect you should you be unable to work due to illness or injury. When you have an income protection policy you will continue to receive a regular income until such times as you are able to return to work or retirement, if that time comes first.

This kind of insurance also replaces part of your income if you have to reduce your working hours due to disability and basically provides solid financial support all the way through to retirement. Most illnesses that leave you unable to work are covered in these policies, whether short or long term conditions and you can make claims as many times as you need to while you hold the policy.

Do you need Income Protection Insurance?

Whether you choose to take out income protection should not be based on whether you have dependents or not, although naturally your family are of concern if you’re unable to work. Income protection is designed to give you a blanket of protection against serious illness so that you can continue to provide for yourself if you are unable to continue working.  If prolonged illness or injury would leave you in a situation where you could not afford to pay your bills, you need to consider it as an option.

For people who are self-employed and at risk of losing considerably more than their income if they should suffer from serious illness, income protection insurance is a must. Not being able to work when you are a sole trader is a more significant problem than if you work for a business organization and there could be some delay in getting government benefits to supplement your income in these situations. Income protection means that you are already set up to continue receiving an income from the moment you are unable to work and best protects you and your family from any financial shocks.

Why is Income Protection Important to My Family?

No matter how secure you are in your job or how confident you are of your financial future, it is impossible to clearly predict. Insurance is an affordable way of protecting against high risk situations such as the possibility of losing a principal income due to serious illness. A good family plan should include adequate support for all other members should one be incapacitated in any way so that the others aren’t disadvantaged. It is definitely worth further research and getting some competitive income protection quotes online.

Stephen Strasburg Net Worth

October is finally here, and for baseball fans around the country that means one thing… PLAYOFFS.  If your MLB team is lucky enough to make the postseason, then you are likely to be glued to the TV throughout the month rooting them on.  One of the teams who did make the playoffs is the Washington Nationals.  The Nationals have seen progress over the past few season and part of it is due to the stellar pitching of Stephen Strasburg.  Stephen has spent all seven of his professional years with the Nationals and is coming off back to back 15 win seasons.  Because of his success, Stephen Strasburg net worth tops out at $25 million.

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Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg

At 29 years old, Strasburg has secured his standing as a top pitcher in the MLB.  His professional career began in 2009 when the Nationals selected the pitcher as the first overall pick in the MLB draft.  His initial four year $15.1 million contract was the highest of any rookie ever to that point.  This initial contract helped to jump start Stephen Strasburg’s net worth.  After signing a number of one year contracts with the team, Stephen was finally rewarded a long term contract with the organization.  In May of 2016, Strasburg signed a seven year contract valued at $175 million.  The contract is designed in such a way that gives Strasburg a player option beginning in the 2020 season.  It also includes a performance bonus.  The bonus is based on the number of innings he pitches during the regular season.  If he exceeds 180.0 innings pitched, he is rewarded with a $1 million bonus.

In order to justify his new contract, Stephen went out and performed quite well during the 2016 season.  He posted a 15-4 record and an ERA of 3.60.  He followed it up with another stellar performance in 2017.  For this current baseball season, he has another 15-4 overall record but has lowered his ERA to just 2.52.  Since pitchers in the National League are required to bat, Strasburg even went so far as to hit two home runs during the 2017 season.  He also was able to secure his third All-Star appearance this season representing the National League.

Stephen Strasburg net worth is due in large part to his career earnings while playing baseball professionally.  To date, he has earned over $60 million in career earnings through the 2017 season.  Strasburg is not a super flashy and well known player like his teammate Bryce Harper.  Thus, he lacks a lot of the endorsement deals that come with big name players.

Strasburg is still quite young in terms of baseball’s longevity.  We expect Stephen Strasburg’s net worth to continue to increase over the next years quite substantially.  While his net worth sits at $25 million now, it can easily double in a few years time.

 

 

Relocating to Singapore: How to Manage your Finances

If you choose to relocate to Singapore from the UK, you are making a popular and increasingly sensible decision. After all, this is regarded as the easiest Asian city for UK ex-pats to adapt to, while it is also a safe and family-friendly location that delivers an exceptionally high standard of living.

Mercer’s cost of living survey regularly lists Singapore as one of the top 10 most expensive cities in the world, entering the top five as recently as 2015. This means that you will need to plan your finances carefully when moving to Singapore, whether you are relocating for work or as part of ambitious retirement plans.

Managing Your Finances When Relocating to Singapore

So, here are some key tips to consider when relocating to Singapore, as you look to make a seamless financial transition to living abroad:

  1. Allow Time to Accumulate Savings

Let’s start with the basics, as the cost of living and purchasing property in Singapore is noticeably high. In fact, Morgan Stanley has predicted that Singapore’s property prices could double by the year 2030, with sustained hikes forecast for 2018 and beyond.

This means that you must allow time to accumulate savings and organise your finances, and you may need expert assistance to help with this. Wealth management firms such as Tilney can fulfil this role, as they combine financial advice with investment options to help optimise your capital and build savings for the future.

  1. Understand the Intricacies of Currency Fluctuations 

While the British pound (GBP) has currently enjoyed two-week highs against the Singapore Dollar, the spectre of Brexit may cause the continued devaluation of sterling over time. This means that buying Singapore currency and translating your wealth may prove difficult, which is why you must monitor macroeconomic trends and ensure that you transfer your money at the optimum time. Similarly, you must also try to convert currency without incurring huge fees, as these can also eat into your accrued capital.

  1. Consider the Miniscule Costs of Living

 Even with savings and a pronounced understanding of finance, relocating to Singapore can still be challenging. This is because there are small details associated with day-to-day living that must be attended to, and these seemingly insignificant costs can quickly accumulate over time.

Singapore has its own, unusual form of TV licence, for example which is a generic tax applied to anyone who owns a television. This must be paid annually, so you must have a full understanding of costs before completing your move.

Plan for the Unexpected: Why Home Insurance Can Save Your Future

Buying a home is one of the most significant financial commitments you make in life and so it makes sense to protect the building that houses your family from unexpected events. Severe weather is becoming an increasing threat on a more widespread level than ever before and so unless you have a crystal ball, it’s essential to have a strategy in place to protect your greatest asset – your home.

Here are some tips to help you prevent damage to your home:

  • Choose your insurance wisely: It’s important to completely understand your home insurance policy and what it covers in the event of your home sustaining any damage as a result of severe weather or any other cause.
  • Do you need Umbrella coverage? An Umbrella home insurance policy helps protect you from any incident or accident involving your home, including events where you’re determined as being at fault. Say for example your home is damaged as a result of someone leaving the taps running in the bath which causes extensive damage to the floor and ceiling of the room below. An Umbrella policy will protect you in events such as this.
  • Does your policy have full replacement coverage? This kind of home insurance policy provides for a rebuild of your home or replacement of items in it based on today’s prices. Other policies not offering full replacement cover only provide for the original cash value or market value of your home and its contents.
  • Keep detailed records: Make sure that you have all the details of your policy and who to call in the event of making a claim somewhere safe. When you’re in the middle of an incident and you are panicking about what to do, knowing where to look for the information you need is of great comfort. Most people have access to cameras with their smartphones these days which is important when it comes to making claims as photographic evidence can go a great way to substantiating the extent of damage done.
  • Keep an up to date inventory of your possessions: When you first take out your policy, make a video record of each room in the house, focusing on the items covered by your policy. Keep this information with your other policy details and if you make any purchases of significance, update your policy and take a picture of the new item to keep your records straight. Having as much information as possible ensures a really smooth process should it come to making a claim.
  • Small home improvements can make a big difference to your premiums: If you live in an area that is prone to extreme and serious weather conditions, making the alterations to your building to protect it from these outcomes can significantly reduce your home insurance premiums. Similarly, if you live in an area where there is a lot of reported burglaries, installing a security system as extra protection can also affect how much your home insurance costs.

Protect Your Home Against Any Eventuality with the RIGHT Home Insurance Policy!

This is why you should consider a reliable home insurance provider like TrustedChoice.com, who know the importance of taking the right steps to protect your home against the uncertainty of the future. Without the give of foresight, it’s just not possible to gauge how events will pan out or how your home may or may not be affected. Taking precautions by setting up a comprehensive policy that protects your most important asset over the long term gives you enormous peace of mind.

The Down Low on James Allen Rings

The online diamond and jewelry buying process is really scary for so many people who’ve never purchased something like this on the web. Since it’s such an expensive purchase – and can cost thousands of dollars if you’re buying an engagement ring – it often leaves people fearful and harboring a great deal of trepidation.

It’s hard not to be afraid when buying online, which is why some diamond sellers on the Internet do not succeed. They do not know how to make their customers feel comfortable that they’re getting exactly what they want when they buy a diamond or diamond jewelry on the Internet. JamesAllen.com does a great job of putting everyone’s mind at ease.

What makes JamesAllen.com so special? For starters, they really go out of their way to showcase every one of the diamonds they have for sale. They make it possible for their online customers to look at each and every one of the diamonds they plan to sell them, so they know exactly what they are getting whenever they make a purchase from this site.

That’s not all, because we only scratched the tip of the iceberg. So we’ll share some other amazing reasons why James Allen’s website is such an excellent place to buy diamond jewelry on the Internet.  Read more about them here.

View Real Videos and Pictures of the Actual Diamonds You’re Buying Online

Many online diamond sellers have a tendency to use generic, stock diamond photos when they show pictures of potential diamonds and pieces that people might buy on their website. That is not how it goes on JamesAllen.com. On the contrary, they have figured out the best way to sell diamonds online to make all their customers feel good about their purchase and confident that they’re getting exactly what they order.

On this website, every image and video was taken of the actual diamond being sold. So if you look at a particular diamond ring, as an example, that you really love and want to purchase for your significant other, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s the ring you’re going to get. All of the images and videos showcasing the ring are real, true to life, and represent the exact item you plan to purchase.

So never worry about buying a fake ring or phony image because that doesn’t happen on JamesAllen.com. This website is the real deal and their videos and photos are all real images of diamonds and jewelry they have for sale.

Customer Service Can Help You 24/7 All Year Round

James Allen understands the value of top level customer service and he has truly outdone himself on this website. He has a wide range of diamond experts available to answer your call, email, or instant message. So feel free to contact the expert staff at any time if you have any questions or concerns.

The staff is there to help you and the specialists know so much about diamonds. So do not hesitate to contact them whenever you feel it’s convenient.

Conclusion

Between real photos and videos and expert customer service, just know that you can’t go wrong making a purchase from James Allen’s website.