Your ability to keep more of your money greatly impacts every aspect of your life. If you’re like many people, then you probably wish you had more money than you do right now. The good news is by taking the following steps, you’ll be on your way to keeping more of the money you earn.
Watch Your Credit
The state of your credit score has a big effect on your buying power as a consumer. It determines whether or not you can buy a car or a home or even whether or not a landlord will rent to you. One way you can increase your credit is by repairing your credit, which can help you get a loan. An improved credit score also means you’ll have an easier time getting credit cards, renting apartments and sometimes, getting certain jobs. Making your payments on time, reducing your debt-to-income ratio and keeping your new credit inquiries down are just a few of the ways that you can increase your credit score.
Find a Budgeting System That Works for You
It’s nearly impossible to get a handle on your money situation without a budget. In this situation, it’s easy to overspend without realizing it, in part because digital tools, like debit and credit cards, make it easy to do so. However, having a budget forces you to keep track of the small purchases, like your daily latte, that can add up quickly. One simple budgeting method that works is the 50/30/20 method. Under this plan, you spend 50 percent of your money on your necessities, like housing and food. Thirty percent goes toward entertainment, shopping, and other “fun” activities. You then spend 20 percent of your income on savings and debt.
Get Out of Debt
Having a lot of debt weighs you down financially. It seriously curbs your spending power, and if your debt load is significant enough, you’ll spend most of your time working to get out of debt. This severely impacts your ability to save money for a new home, vacations or retirement. If the debt is an issue for you, then make sure you do everything you can to pay it down, using either the debt snowball or debt avalanche systems.
Getting control of your finances has many benefits. It allows you to get loans, pay off debt and save for important events, like retirement. However, it’s not enough to just take care of your finances only occasionally. To have a lasting impact on your finances, you must keep track of them regularly over the course of your life.
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When a young person turns 18, it’s an exciting time full of possibilities. Being able to vote and no longer adhering to a curfew is just the beginning. Now an official adult, it’s time to begin a new chapter that sets the foundation for the rest of their life, including their financial wellness.
Think you are ready to "take the leap" and buy your first home? Here's things you need to think about and do as you get ready to make your biggest investment.
Buying your first home counts as one of life's rites of passage. It's an exciting time, but it's also fraught with some legitimate concerns. It's best to deal with those concerns before you get too involved in the process. This allows you to make better decisions overall. Here are some factors to keep in mind as you're moving through the pre-buying process.
Determine Your Price Range
Probably the biggest factor in your home-buying venture is price. You'll have to determine how much money you can afford to pay for a home mortgage each month. While it's natural to want to dream a bit when you're buying your first home, it's easy to get carried away with these feelings. If this happens, you could wind up trying to buy a home you can't afford. It's better to find a home that doesn't force you to pay more than you currently do for rent. It's even better if you find a home that costs less.
Mortgage and Down Payments
Many banks require you to have at least 20% of the home's purchase cost to put down before they even think about lending you money. However, that can be a significant amount for someone to put aside. For example, if you want to buy a home worth $300,000, you're looking at a $60,000 down payment. If you find yourself in this predicament, you may want to look for a lender who will work with you and accept a down payment closer to 5%.
There are several advantages of a 5% down-payment, but determine what's right for you. Here's a look at a few of them. First, you don't have to wait quite as long to build up savings if you pay 5% down. On a $300,000 home, that's $15K instead of $60K. That's a much easier amount to set aside. Second, if you get into a home quicker, then you're paying to own a home instead of paying rent. You're contributing to an investment. Finally, paying this amount also allows you to keep more money in savings, which can come in handy come home improvement time. Keep these advantages of placing a 5% down-payment in mind.
Get Your Credit in Order
Unless you're paying for a house outright, you're probably going to have to borrow money. Start getting a handle on your credit score long before you start the buying process. It isn't unreasonable to plan on working on your credit for a year or two if you have some problems
with your credit.
While this thought may seem like a lot of work, it'll be worth it come buying time. A solid credit score will only help you, especially if you want to pay a lower amount down. A banker will be more inclined to lend you money if they know that you have a good payment history.
Buying your first home comes with a lot of challenges. Factors like home prices, down payment and credit scores all play a role. Your best bet is to do your research and start getting your finances in order. Doing this will help you regardless of where you are in the home-buying process.
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When it comes to economics, many teens’ mouths write checks their knowledge can’t cash. Help influence the financial literacy of a teen in your life with these practical money-management tips.
5 Financial Tips for Teens
(Family Features) When it comes to economics, many teens’ mouths write checks their knowledge can’t cash.
While 93% of American teens say they know how the economy works, 29% have had no economic schooling, according to a survey of 1,000 U.S. teens ages 13-18 by Wakefield Research on behalf of Junior Achievement and the Charles Koch Foundation. Even in light of their false confidence, teens are aware of the importance of financial education.
Although the study identified numerous gaps in economic and financial knowledge, it also showed teens do know where to look for credible information. Two-thirds (67%) recognize they should use their school as a resource.
“One of the things we hear often is that some textbooks are written too academically for most students to understand the concepts,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “Our programs, which work as a complement to the school curriculum, are written from the perspective of today’s teens and use digital content to help bring economic concepts to life for students.”
Beyond the classroom, another 63% of students believe they should use their parents as resources for economics education. Help influence the financial literacy of a teen in your life with these practical money-management tips adapted from the curriculum.
Set goals. Managing your money is more meaningful when you’re doing it with purpose. This might mean budgeting to ensure you have enough money to maintain your auto insurance and keep gas in your car, or you may be saving for a big senior trip. Knowing what you want to achieve with your money can help you plan how you spend it more wisely.
Weigh needs vs. wants. When you begin making your own money, it’s easier to indulge your own wishes and spend money on things you don’t necessarily need. To some extent, that’s not a bad thing; rewarding yourself is fine when you do so within reason. That means not exceeding your available funds, and not forsaking things you truly need, like gas money to get to and from a job or school.
Get a debit card. Most people find that having cash on hand makes it easier to spend. If you use a debit card instead, you’re an extra step away from spending so you have a little more time to consider your purchase. Another benefit of a debit card is it helps track your purchases in real time so you can keep constant tabs on your balance and ensure you don’t overdraft your account.
Start a savings habit. Even if your income doesn’t allow for much, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of setting aside a portion of each check. It may only be $10, but over time each $10 deposit can build your account toward a long-range goal.
Protect your privacy. Teens who’ve grown up in the digital age tend to be less skeptical and cautious about privacy matters than their elder counterparts. It’s important that young people understand the potential impact of failing to protect their privacy when it comes to financial matters, including the possibility that their identities could be stolen and all of their money siphoned away. Teaching kids about security is an essential lesson in economics.
Visit ja.org for more tips and information to help raise your teen’s financial literacy.
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Most people don’t have enough money saved for a rainy day. It’s important to have enough money in the bank to be able to survive a major financial downturn like a job loss. You should also be saving for your retirement. Maybe you are worried about the state of your finances and wonder how you can get in control of them. The key to getting control of your money is to live on less than you have. Here’s how.
Putting Away Something in Savings
Building an emergency fund counts as the most important financial step you can take to ensure that you are living below your means. Most financial advisors suggest that you have between three and six months' of income stored in savings in case of an emergency. Most people don’t. The problem is that if they become unemployed, they’re forced to live on credit cards or loans from family because they have no money in savings. If you have to borrow money to live, you’ll eventually have to pay it back or go bankrupt. Putting money into savings each month ensures that you never have to go into debt should a major financial blow occur.
Not Investing Too Much
It's certainly true that real estate, starting with your home, can be a sound investment. That said, you should be careful about putting too much money into real estate because doing so can make you property rich but cash poor. While it’s nice to have property, you may not have enough money in the bank should you experience a job loss or serious illness. So how much can you safely invest in your home? Here’s a rule of thumb. The average American making $61,372, assuming they have no debts, should pay no more than $2,301.45 a month if they buy a house with a conventional 30-year mortgage. This means that you would have no more than 30% to 40% of your money sunk into real estate at any given time. Following this tip will keep you from paying too much on housing.
Living Below Your Means
Living below your means ensures that you always have more money coming in than going out. People who adopt this lifestyle often vow to forego buying something new until they can pay cash for it. If they do get a raise at work, they pretend to themselves that they are still bringing in the same amount of money each month, and the extra money from their raise goes into savings or an IRA. The less of your money you spend, the more of it you can keep.
Spending less cash than you earn takes effort. It’s really a lifestyle choice and not a one-time thing. To get started, you first want to put money into savings each month. Next, be mindful of how you invest your money. Being cash poor can hurt you if tragedy strikes. Finally, do your utmost to spend less money than you have. If you follow all of these steps, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to worry about your finances.
(BPT) - If you had to grade your financial literacy, what would it be? Are you an A+ saver, investor and planner, or do you think you could do better? If you grade yourself average at best, you’re not alone.
When asked to grade their own financial literacy, more than half of Americans say they’d earn a “C” or lower, according to new data from Prudential Financial. This isn’t surprising, considering data from Prudential’s Financial Wellness Census shows less than half of Americans are on track to meet their financial goals, including planning for retirement.
“Regardless of where you are on your family’s financial wellness journey, the best way forward is through financial literacy,” says Prudential Advisors President Brad Hearn. “Researching, educating yourself and getting advice from a financial professional can help you make the best decisions based on your life stage, risk tolerance and goals.”
Hearn says each family’s situation and goals are unique, and things like life stage and personal preference will impact how they choose to prepare for their financial future. To get started, here are five financial wellness basics every family should master:
Set up an emergency fund
Life is a series of experiences, and sometimes the unexpected can hit your finances hard. Whether it’s a car breaking down, your AC unit on the fritz or even losing a job, it’s important to be prepared for emergencies. If you don’t already have an emergency fund, start saving a little each month until you reach your goal. A good rule of thumb is to have three months’ worth of expenses saved in an emergency fund. So, if your monthly expenses are $2,500, you should have $7,500 saved.
Create a budget
Saving for college? A new car? How about starting that emergency fund? Whatever your family’s financial goals are, it’s important to have a plan in place that helps you achieve those goals. Budget to manage day-to-day expenses, and include in that budget a commitment to save for bigger milestones. For tips on getting started, do some research. There’s no shortage of advice, whether you decide to go it alone or consider using the help of a professional financial advisor.
Plan for the unimaginable
If you have people who count on you for financial support or caregiving, you should have life insurance. A life insurance policy can help give your family financial peace of mind should the worst happen. There is no rule as to how much life insurance you need, but important things to consider are your annual income, mortgage debt, potential college costs for kids and other future financial obligations.
Save for retirement
According to Prudential data, of Americans who have retirement savings and debt, nearly one-quarter have more in total debt than in retirement savings (23%), while 15% of Americans say that they have no debt, but also have nothing saved for retirement. Planning for retirement is something that should start as soon as possible. If your work offers any type of matching program, make sure to take advantage. If you don’t, you’re essentially leaving free money on the table.
Seek professional advice
Retirement, life insurance and savings can be confusing. Information overload is partly to blame. According to Prudential data, two-thirds of Americans agree that the list of things they need to learn to successfully manage their finances keeps growing, not shrinking. That’s where financial literacy programs and professional financial advice can play a key role. Nearly two-thirds of Americans don’t have a financial advisor. They say they cannot afford one (42%) or don’t believe their financial situation warrants needing an advisor’s help (26%). The reality is that advice is more within reach than ever before — and it’s not just for the wealthy. A financial professional can help at various stages in life and work with you to create a strategy based on your timeline, risk tolerance and goals.
“Financial wellness isn’t always a matter of having more money,” says Hearn. “Instead, it’s a journey that takes a combination of proactive effort, dedication and professional guidance.”
Prudential Advisors is a brand name of The Prudential Insurance Company of America and its subsidiaries. Life insurance is issued by The Prudential Insurance Company of America, Newark, NJ and its affiliates.
Regardless of income or wealth, the road to financial health – how you are able to manage your day-to-day financial life while building for the future – can be a lifelong journey. What you do today can build toward or detract from your long-term resilience and ability to pursue opportunities. These questions can serve as a starting point to take inventory of your financial health.
Planning for the Future
Taking inventory of your financial health
(Family Features) Only 28% of Americans are financially healthy, according to the U.S. Financial Health Pulse. Most others will have difficulty reaching long-term financial goals and are more vulnerable to the threat of financial shocks, such as car trouble, unforeseen medical bills or job loss.
Regardless of income or wealth, the road to financial health – how you are able to manage your day-to-day financial life while building for the future – can be a lifelong journey. What you do today can build toward or detract from your long-term resilience and ability to pursue opportunities. Whether you want to take that dream vacation, prepare for retirement or save for college, financial health takes effort to build.
“An overwhelming majority of the country is experiencing financial challenges that have lasting effects on people’s lives, on their ability to weather the inevitable ups and downs and on their chances to pursue their dreams,” said Jennifer Tescher, CEO of the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), the nation’s authority on consumer financial health. “Each year, CFSI and MetLife Foundation join forces on #FinHealthMatters Day to highlight the importance of financial health, especially for the 180 million people who are financially vulnerable.”
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Center for Financial Services Innovation
When you apply for a loan, your future lender wants to make sure that you aren’t too much of a risk on defaulting. In the past, lenders have used the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses (ALLL) standard to evaluate the risk of your loan. However, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has decided to switch to a new system, known as Current Expected Credit Losses (CECL). This means that, starting in 2020, loans will be evaluated differently. Here’s what you need to know about these changes.
Why The Change?
The financial crisis of 2007 was devastating for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest ones is that it demonstrated that the ALLL was not adequate for making timely adjustments. ALLL worked well for evaluating losses that would happen with some certainty, but it was not able to respond to changes that happened suddenly. The financial crisis demonstrated that the current evaluation was not able to adjust for fluctuations in the economy. As a result, The FASB decided to reevaluate how risk was calculated for loans. In 2016, they announced the new accounting standard, known as CECL, that would be implemented by 2020.
CECL is Based on GroupsUnder CECL, review for loans is mostly based on collective groups. CECL looks at your situation and puts on you in a category. Each institution will have to develop their own way of dividing these groups up, but they will be based on things such as credit score, type of loan, length of the loan, the interest rate, what year you are applying, and what your individual finances look like. Once you are placed in a category, your lender is able to determine how much risk this loan will carry. However, under CECL you can still be individually reviewed, but only when you fit a couple different requirements. Your lending institution will decide whether your loan will be individually reviewed based on your circumstances and other factors with your loan.
Understanding the Effects
In the banking industry, there has been some criticism about CECL accounts. Some lenders have a tough time adjusting to the policies since they have to implement procedures in order to pinpoint losses that could possibly happen down the road. This requires a lot more data and analysis than they have previously used. However, CECL will help lenders stay competitive and prevent a lot of the losses that many of these institutions saw during the 2007 financial crisis. To use CECL methods, bankers must always monitor the conditions in the economy, and this process heightens focus, awareness, and drive.
Most of the major changes will occur behind the scenes, and you may not see much impact on your loans as a consumer. When applying for a loan, you will still need to pay attention to your earning potential, personal debt, and credit score. While it may seem intimidating and confusing, don’t let these changes scare you when it comes to getting a new loan. Your lender will be able to guide you in the right direction.
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