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.

2018 Roth IRA Contribution Limits

2018 Roth IRA Contribution Limits

We all know that we should be saving for retirement.  Whether you have a 401k, a pension, or an IRA, retirement accounts give individuals great tax breaks to help them prepare for their golden years.  It is often reported that people misjudge how much they will need in retirement.  The rule of thumb for a long time has been you need your retirement income to supplement 80% of your income when you were working; however, this number is different for everyone based on a number of factors.  One thing is certain.  Maxing out your retirement accounts never hurts.  For 2017, the IRA contribution limits stayed the same as they were in 2016.  You could contribute up to $5,500 towards your IRA, and if you were 50 or older you can contribute an additional $1,000 bringing your total yearly contribution limit to $6,500.  The 2018 Roth IRA contribution limits won’t be released until October of this year, but we can speculate what they might be.

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sets the income and contribution limits for IRA’s.  The last year that the IRS raise the contribution limit was for the tax year of 2013.  The contribution amounts for traditional and Roth IRA’s are the same each year.  They are evaluated and raised based on inflation.  The IRS will raise contribution limits in increments of $500.  This means that the next time they are raised, people under the age of 50 will be able to contribute a maximum of $6,000 a year to their IRA, while people over the age of 50 will be able to most likely contribute $7,000 a year.  In order for this raise in contribution limits to take place, inflation would need to be around 9% over a period of time for this to occur.

9% of $5,500 = $495

This would be near the $500 increment level the IRS would like to see to raise the contribution limits.

Since the last time the IRS raised contribution limits in 2013, inflation has risen by about 6.5% based on data tables.  This means that another 2.5% increase in inflation would be needed for the IRS to raise the contribution limits for traditional and Roth IRA’s.  With all of this being said, the most likely scenario is that 2018 Roth IRA contribution limits will remain unchanged.  A more likely scenario would be a raise in the contribution limits for 2019.

Despite the fact that the 2018 Roth IRA contribution limits won’t change, the IRS will still probably change some limits.  The limit they will change, and almost always do, is the income limits associated with eligibility for participation in IRA’s.  For 2017, the IRS raised the income phase-out limit to $118,000 for single earners and $186,000 for married, joint filling earners, raises of $1,000 and $2,000 respectively.

There are still many months to wait until the IRS reveals their 2018 Roth IRA contribution limits.  An increase in the limit would allow individuals to save an additional $500 a year in a tax-advantaged account.  Although an increase is doubtful, we can still remain hopeful.

Budget Smart, Invest Wise

Financial Spring Cleaning

Spring is finally here, regardless of whether it feels like it outside or not.  Around this time of year, many see it as their obligation to go through their homes and rid themselves of unnecessary items that clutter the place up.  The idea that a clean and happy dwelling is a rebirth and a new start.  Why not take this same approach to your finances?

At the start of every calendar year, I always suggest creating a new budget for the upcoming year.  Mapping out your income and expenses presents saving opportunities and fiscal responsibility.  We are now almost three months into the new year and expenses sometimes change.  That is why I always do a financial spring cleaning.  Below are my favorite three ways to do a financial spring cleaning:

Financial Spring Cleaning Tip 1:  This first tip is directly related to a normal spring cleaning of the house people already do.  Go through your closet and determine which clothes you don’t need anymore.  Maybe you have shoes you don’t wear, pants you’ve outgrown, DVD’s you no longer watch because of a Netflix subscription.  Or a lot of cravats and bow ties that are now out of style, or men’s bracelets that you aren’t using any more.

Gather up these items and donate them to a local shelter like The Salvation Army.  Not only will you eliminate these useless items from your place, but you will be giving to those who could benefit from such items.  The best part about all of this is most of the times you can receive a tax deduction for your donations.  This can lead to a higher income tax return for the 2017 year.

Financial Spring Cleaning Tip 2:  Clean out unnecessary clutter in your budget.  For example, maybe at the beginning of the year you signed up for a gym membership you no longer use.  Cancel it.  Go through the various categories in your budget and see if they are relevant to the remainder of the year going forward.  Perhaps you dedicated a portion of your budget to pay off debt, but now you no longer have that debt.  Eliminate that category.  Eliminating categories in your budget makes it simpler and much easier to read and track.

Financial Spring Cleaning Tip 3:  Review the dollar allocations in your budget.  Say at the beginning of the year you were eating out lunch every day, but now you realize the many health benefits and cost savings of bringing your lunch to work.  See if you can slash $30-$50 a month off your food budget.  Shop around for car insurance.  Perhaps you find the same coverage with a different company for $15 less a month.  Eliminating a little bit of money from a few categories adds up and helps boost your savings potential.

Financial spring cleaning allows you to revamp your finances for the remainder of the year.  Even if you haven’t done a good job of sticking to your budget, it is never too late.  A financial spring cleaning can allow you to set up your financial priorities for the remainder of the year and gives you a clear financial conscious heading into the spring and summer months.

Diworsification: How Much Diversification is too Much or Little?

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Diworsification

When I was picking stocks, I saw my portfolio lose 15% of its value in one day.  Simply put, I had too many of my eggs in one basket or too many of my investment dollars in one stock.  I wasn’t diversified.  Sure, I could hit it big with a stock, but I could also lose.  I saw the amount of time I was spending on picking stocks and knew it could be put to better use if I let the professionals handle my money.

My portfolio was under diversified, but many people also suffer from too much diversification of their portfolio or diworsification.  Diworsification occurs when you continually invest in the same asset class and keep your risk low but hurt your overall return potential.  It would be the equivalent of investing in many different mutual funds that only contained U.S. stocks.  If you want exposure to the U.S. domestic stock market that is great, I highly recommend it, but pick a fund that gives you just that and move on.

My investment strategy has come a long way from my earlier days when I was picking and choosing stocks.  I thought just like many that I could pick homerun stocks that nobody else could.  I did well on some and poorly on others.  I would come home every day from work and watch Jim Cramer’s show Mad Money.  I soon realized that the effort I was putting in wasn’t yielding the rewards I desired.  I quickly shifted all my investments to a mutual fund.  Being young, I knew I wanted a large exposure to stocks.  What better stocks to invest in than the U.S. Stock Market?  Warren Buffett has been noted to say that when he passes he wants the remainder of his fortune put into a low-cost index fund that mirrors the S&P 500.  That’s right, just one fund.  If he wanted his fortune to be spread across many funds that mirrored the S&P 500 he would be subject to diworsification.  I decided to follow Warren’s advice.

While my investment dollars are placed into a single low-cost Index fund that mirrors the U.S. Stock Market, not everyone will agree with this position, and that is fine.  Investment advice can be given to you from a hired professional or you can decide on your own.  My knowledge came about through the reading of numerous books.  If you want to invest in South America, there are funds for that.  If you want exposure to corporate bonds, there are funds for that.  If you think that the pharmaceutical sector is the next big thing, then by all means find a fund that suits you for that investment.  There are many ways you can invest your hard-earned money, but try and keep to the One and Done Philosophy when investing in mutual funds to prevent diworsification: Pick one mutual fund that covers the class or sector you are wanting exposure to and leave it at that.  Not only does it simplify your portfolio, but it keeps you diversified and away from diworsification.

Blue Apron Free Trial: Review

Let’s be honest, many of us lack the time or the money to cook unique, cost-efficient meals today.  Whether you are a couple or a family, it is sometimes easiest to just eat out.  Eating out on a regular basis can get very expensive.  I recently received a Blue Apron free trial.  I was eager to try and cook my way through a new and adventurous meal, something I wouldn’t normally eat.

As this was a Blue Apron free trial, I had nothing to lose.  I had three meals delivered right to my door.  All of the packaging was recyclable, and it came with a couple of nice reusable freezer packs.  Here is my experience:

Meal: Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf

Blue Apron Free Trial: Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf

What I expected: Blue Apron said the prep time for this meal was just 10 minutes with the cooking time of the meal being between 35-45 minutes.  The card (included in the picture) came with a quick description of the meal along with all of the ingredients for the meal.  Each ingredient listed even came with a picture in case you weren’t sure.  The flip side of the card came with step by step instructions on how to prepare the meal and also some pictures to assist you along the way.  I laid out all of the ingredients on top of my counter along with the card and began.

The Good:  You have all of the ingredients you need to create a unique dish.  If you tried to go to the grocery store and buy all of the necessary items to create something similar, you would spend way more than $10/meal.  All of the items looked fresh and appeared top notch.  Everything from the beef, to the potatoes, to the garlic looked like it had been prepared just mere days before.  Finally, Blue Apron also pairs each of the dishes with a wine.

The Bad:  While the meal card said the prep time was just 10 minutes, this was not the case.  It took me about double that time to prepare the meal.  The only way someone could have done the prep in 10 minutes is if they were highly experienced in the kitchen or if they had prepared this meal before.  The meal also lacked a side of vegetables.  While this might seem quite minor in the details, some healthy vegetables to go along with this meal would have made it complete.  I ended up cooking some green beans to go along with the meat and potatoes.  You also needed some cooking experience to help guide you through.  I don’t believe these meals are for the complete rookie.  For instance, you had to mince garlic, slice potatoes, and needed a few kitchen accessories to complete the meal.

Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf Dish

Conclusion

Ultimately my Blue Apron free trial was a success.  I was able to create a delicious, unique meal all by myself.  At just around $10/meal, it is also a great value because the same ingredients would cost much more if you purchased them at the store.  Downsides would be that it requires some basic kitchen knowledge and elementary kitchen items.  This meal service is great for a couple who enjoys cooking together and wants to spend some time create different dishes and bonding over the experience.

Are you interested in Blue Apron? Get $30 off your first week using this link.

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How Do Millennials Finding Affordable Dental Health Care?

How important is a great smile? According to ABC News research, the first impression is the most important. Whether it’s a lack of affordable dental insurance, anxiety of going to the dentist, or burden of financial responsibility, many Millennials have put a trip to the dentist on the back burner. Underestimating the important link between oral health care and overall wellbeing can not only jeopardize that vital first impression, but cause health issues for Millennials as they get older.

Staying Away Means More Decay

A study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows 62 percent of adults ages 35-64 went to the dentist in the past year, compared to Millennials, those ages 20-34, which was just slightly over 50 percent. Millennials also had the highest percent of untreated cavities, according to the study.

Millennials now represent over a quarter of the nation’s population, 83 million, exceeding Baby Boomers for the first time. It is reported most of them have avoided the dentist for 2 to 3 years. In the end this game plan ends up being painful and expensive. Unfortunately, many employers don’t offer dental insurance and Millennials are unsure how to find affordable dental care.

In a case study by Quirk’s Media, How Millennials Are Reshaping Health and Wellness, found two thirds of Millennials “believe that insurers have too much power and are often perceived as putting profits ahead of patients.”

No Pain Means No Problem? Don’t Be Misled

Many Millennials believe if they aren’t experiencing pain, there isn’t a problem. The fact is, by the time there is pain, there is likely a severe problem. With over 85 percent of Millennials with missing teeth, fillings, or tooth decay, delayed dental visits have become a serious issue.

The American Dental Association warns, “Too many people mistakenly believe that they need to see a dentist only if they are in pain or think something is wrong, but they’re missing the bigger picture. A dental visit means being examined by a doctor of oral health capable of diagnosing and treating conditions that can range from routine to extremely complex.” Dental health is about prevention, “During a comprehensive exam, dentists examine the teeth and gums, but they also look for lumps, swellings, discolorations, ulcerations — any abnormality.

Where to find dental health care that is affordable?

Good dental health is about brushing, flossing, eating a healthy diet, and regularly visiting the dentist. Quality oral health care should be affordable for everyone. A healthy smile and good first impression is important for every person.

Today’s Millennials are discovering the benefits of discount dental plans. True Dental Discounts is not dental insurance, but gives individuals and families access to a variety of highly qualified dental care providers at a discounted price. Since there aren’t any deductibles, waiting periods, or limit to the number of visits, it’s not only affordable it easy!

Paribus Review: A Good Way to Save Money?

paribus review

Have you ever purchased something online only to find out there was a price drop three days later? Frustrated, you don’t even bother contacting the retailer because it’s time-consuming.

What if there was an app that tracked all the possible price changes, missed coupons, and better-elsewhere deals online and contacted the retailer on your behalf to get your money back?

Now there is! Paribus.co, pronounced pair-uh-bus, is a one-of-a-kind money saving app that does the work of finding better deals, coupons, and price changes for you.

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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.

Compound Interest

Some have called compound interest the unofficial 8th wonder of the world.  It is definitely a wonder when it is applied to your financial life.  The best part about compound interest is that it allows for exponential growth of a portfolio.  The concept is simple.  When you earn interest/dividends/capital gains, you reinvest them into your portfolio instead of withdrawing the funds.  The video shows just how powerful compound interest can be in increasing your wealth over time.

 

Budget Smart, Invest Wise

One Easy Way to Slash Taxes

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Reduce your taxes and increase your savings.  Sounds almost a little too good to be true right?

It’s possible, it’s easy, and I just did it and so can you.

Today is the final day for you to file your taxes for this year.  Did you pay more in taxes than you would have liked?  Do you want to lower your tax bill for next year?  If so, then here is how to do it:

Increase your 401k contribution to your company’s plan.  What percentage of your salary are you contributing to your 401k currently?  Bump it up.  By increasing your pre-tax 401k contribution to your plan you are in effect reducing the amount of income you take home, thus reducing your tax burden.

I recently increased my pre-tax contribution percentage by 8%, and found that I will save roughly $1700 this year on my taxes.  It’s that simple.  Increase your savings, reduce your tax burden.  This offers 3 key benefits.

Benefit 1:

You lower the amount of taxes you will be paying for the year.

Benefit 2:

You increase the amount of savings you will have at retirement.  The more you save now, the more you will have later.

Benefit 3:

Because you don’t see the additional money you put into your 401k plan on your paycheck, you won’t spend it, and most likely you won’t miss it.

 

Budget Smart, Invest Wise