All Articles Tagged "finances"

Let’s Just Be Honest: Why New Millennials Stay Broke

August 19th, 2015 - By Deja Jones
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If we’re keeping it 100, a big part of why new millennials are broke is that we often live beyond our means. Trust me, I’ve done it too. We go to brunch with friends when we know we don’t have the money to do so. Endless mimosas, buffet-style brunches…it’s all fun and games until a bill shows up in your mailbox and you can’t afford to pay it. We’ve adopted the model that our 20s are our fun years. It’s the time to explore, be adventurous and be fully alive, which is why we have such a hard time saying no to invitations to things that are going to end up costing us in ways that we know we shouldn’t be spending our money. We’ve followed the happy hour crowd Monday through Friday to the bar, spending money on drinks and running up tabs. But yet we carry on being financially irresponsible while struggling to keep our heads above water and money in the bank. Yes, for some of us, being broke is a result of poor budgeting. But for others, it’s from a lack of stability and opportunities.

For new millennials who have accepted the fact that we can’t afford the lifestyle we want, saving isn’t even a priority, especially when the bills keep piling up. Although jobs are being created to combat the unemployment rate, they aren’t necessarily jobs that we qualify for. So these days you’re either overqualified for the retail position or underqualified for the entry-level job.

Over some drinks, a group of friends and I were talking about how no matter how much we try to save, there’s always a bill blasting our accounts. One bill gets paid just for us to be faced with another hefty one. Thorough grocery shopping has become a luxury and it’s a wonder if your fridge and cabinets have food in them throughout the week. Trying to balance our budgets leaves hardly any room for a social life if activities aren’t free. And contributing to the national debt in student loans, we’ve cried about how life would be so much easier if our salaries matched that of our student loan debt. But truth be told, it is nowhere near what we owe, and while we plead with Sallie Mae and Navient each month when we don’t have money to pay them, they remain relentless.

Even with bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, certifications, and credentials, the only full-time job some of us have been able to land is the full-time hours that we place into searching for a gig. While this may sound depressing, it’s a story that a lot of new millennials share. It’s the reason why many of us have pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps and have created our own way, starting our own businesses and creating our own platforms. But even in creating our own way, we need the money to fund it. It’s the never-ending cycle of broke.

I recently saw a meme that read “Livin La Vida Broka” and I almost lost it in laughter. But after associating it with the Ricky Martin song, I realized that, yes, we new millennials are some broke asses. But like those before us, we sure know how to find and make a way.

 

Money Apps: 15 To Help Educate Your Kids About Finance

August 5th, 2015 - By Rich
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It’s never to early to start learning about money, budgeting and creating spending habits. Many of these money apps are not only for kids of all ages but have one multiple awards for just how good they are!

Money Apps: 15 To Help Educate Your Kids About Finance

Millennials Would Rather Receive Monetary Wedding Gifts Than Appliances

July 27th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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In true millennial fashion, the envelope-pushing generation’s latest trend is bypassing traditional gifts at their wedding.

Instead, millennials are more interested in monetary gifts than receiving china or cutlery. Besides money, millennials are also opting for home repair gift cards or all-inclusive honeymoon adventures. Nina Vitale told The New York Times, “It’s a generational thing. During the past two years, guests have been bringing mostly envelopes, no gifts.”

One couple told The Times they registered at Bloomingdale’s for older friends and relatives who were not tech-savvy or felt uncomfortable giving cash as a wedding gift. However, for their friends who didn’t mind, the couple created an account with Simple Registry, a site where guests can financially contribute towards a couple’s honeymoon activities.

Jason Dorsey, who serves as the chief strategy officer and millennials researcher at the Center for Generational Kinetics, revealed how millennials celebrate their wedding is due to student loans, marriages taking place later, purchasing property or conceiving children before marriage. Because of these other expenses, millennials crave experiences rather than shelling out funds for materialistic appliances.

Dorsey continued saying, “Less is more. This generation of couples live in smaller spaces and don’t need gifts. They would prefer a visit a yoga retreat or tickets to a concert. They want more personal reflections of what they value.”

An assistant professor of sociology, Dr. Arielle Kuperberg also gave insight on this new trend. “When people have lived on their own for years, it is hard to register when they marry,” she said. “This generation of couples also cohabitate in great numbers, entertain casually, marry later. We call this the ‘independent life stage’ in sociological terms. They don’t need anything more for the house.”

When reading the case studies of couples via The NY Times, many still create registries in order to appease those who aren’t ready to break with tradition. In order to bridge the various gaps, couples seek different types of gifts from family and friends who will support their wishes, whether it be helping them with their honeymoon fund or purchasing fancy china for future family dinners.

Don’t Cheat Yourself: 15 Things That Are Worth Splurging On

July 17th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Smart shopping is an art form. But it doesn’t always mean looking for the cheapest price. Even master bargain hunters have to know when spending a little more can do a lot for your quality of life.

Know Your Boo’s Bank Account! 43% Of Couples Inaccurately Guessed Their Partner’s Salary

July 2nd, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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We get it. Talking about finances with your partner can get a little — well — awkward. But trust me, an uncomfortable financial discussion now will save you the whirlwind of money troubles you may plummet into later. You don’t want to be among the 43 percent who inaccurately guessed their significant others’ earnings in Fidelity Investments’ 2015 Couples Retirement Study.

And here’s the kicker: Despite the fact that four in 10 clearly have a hazy idea about their partner’s finances, a whopping 72 percent say they communicate “exceptionally” or “very well” with their significant other. America has a problem — and that’s getting into the nitty gritty of our relationships’ finances.

MadameNoire Business spoke with Kristen Robinson, Fidelity’s SVP of Women and Young Investors, to get some insight on why we shy away from crucial financial talks.

“For many, conversations about money can feel uncomfortable. In some cases we don’t know how to start a discussion, so we put it off, even though we know it’s important,” Robinson said. “Clearly though, avoiding the conversation leads to these disconnects.”

The “disconnects” that Robinson is referring to is the significant share of couples in the study who have a fuzzy idea about their future financial standing — particularly retirement.

“We saw in the survey that one in three couples disagree on the kind of lifestyle they want to live in retirement – how they want to spend their time,” Robinson said. “Those disagreements could likely be avoided by tackling the topic head on.”

On top of this, nearly half of couples had absolutely “no idea” how much money they would need to maintain their current lifestyle when they retire. And 48 percent of couples disagreed on the amount needed to preserve their present way of life.

Yikes!

Robinson says that all this confusion can be avoided with an in-depth financial discussion. There must be a time where couples put away the mushy-gushy talk and get serious about money.

“Sure, you can name their favorite color, but when it comes to building a life together, do you know what your other half brings to the table?” Robinson asked. “Get to know what investments your partner has.”

Robinson also suggests discussing future expenditures — such as having a family, buying a home, and saving for your children’s college education. “These sorts of discussions should not be left to impulse. Planning together and making decisions jointly can make life a lot easier,” she said.

And again — we get it. It’s financial talks are awkward. But Robinson gives us all a tip on how we can break the ice: “Use something timely, like planning a vacation together. This opens the door to talking about how you’ll share the expense of paying for travel costs and activities. Sharing what you’re comfortable spending and what your limits may be can lead to a broader discussion about your own financial situation and goals.”

This is brilliant. While you’re getting the scoop on your partner’s financial position on a short-term plan, you can gauge where he or she stands in the long run.

Robinson suggests you check out the Fidelity’s Couples Quiz, and Conversation Starter Guide to get started.

Super Easy Ways One Single Mom Cut Spending And Saved $12,000 A Year

May 12th, 2015 - By Kweli Wright
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A little over five years ago, I left my job to start a career as a freelance writer. My goal was to have more time with my kids, more energy and more time to be a better mom. I didn’t expect to get rich — but I didn’t care. All I needed was to be able to pay the bills so that I could get back to writing my books. I expected to make a lot less money and I was willing and prepared to live on a lot less, too.
I would be leaving my job with no savings above a couple of months’ expenses, no contacts in the writing field, no experience writing professionally and no idea how long it would take to become self-sufficient. What I did have, though, was a pretty good idea that the lower my monthly expenses were when I worked my last day, the longer I would have to get going and the more freedom I would have to write about what I wanted to write.
Although I’ve never been much of a spender, I found several ways to cut my expenses to the bare bones — and I actually had a lot of fun doing it. 
Because my budget was already pretty tight (recently divorced, three kids still at home, mid-level management job), I really had to look closely at what I was spending in order to figure out ways to cut my budget even more.
I discovered there are really only four areas where you’re free to cut at will, meaning that everything else is either a necessity or out of your control like rent, utilities, medical insurance, etc. Those four areas are groceries, entertainment, clothing and personal upkeep, and miscellaneous. To me, miscellaneous includes purchases I never think about, like a pack of gum or hair ties.
Here are eight ways I slashed my expenses dramatically, even on an already tight budget.
1. Swap fast food for good food.
Every mom on the planet knows what I mean when I say you don’t usually plan for (or even want) half of the meals you go out and buy. But you ran late at work, you forgot to turn on the crock pot, and you end up at an inexpensive restaurant just to get dinner ticked off the to-do list with minimum time and energy.
What really got to me was that we rarely actually enjoyed these meals. It was just calories. So I decided fast food was off the table. Non-negotiable. I planned ahead, I used the crock pot, I cooked two meals at once, I did a little freezer cooking on weekends but I made sure that we never had to go out for a meal, just because.
However, I occasionally enjoy a nice meal out (and I wanted my kids to have incentive for this change) so I earmarked $40 per month for a really good meal out (we don’t have expensive taste). This $40 was far less than the $200 a month we were spending.
MONEY SAVED: $160 per month or $1920 per year.
2. Be your own barista.
I’m a coffee snob. I grew up on Cuban coffee, called café con leche, which is similar to a latte. I cannot and will not drink American swill. When I was working outside the home, I spent a huge amount of money at Starbuck’s and I knew I had to cut it out, so I got myself an inexpensive espresso machine and a really cute travel cup and started making my own — and the best part? It tastes better!
MONEY SAVED: $75 per month or $900 a year.
3. Skip the grocery store; try a grocery salvage.
One thing I have never been able to scrimp on is nutrition. As a kid, I knew what it was like to be hungry. I have always made it a top priority to have plenty of food in the house and to make it as nutritious as possible. That meant organic dairy and produce and stuff to pack healthy lunches for the kids.
I used to spend about $600 a month for the four of us, which included plenty of coupons. Then I discovered our local grocery salvage and my first trip there, I swear I heard an angelic chorus singing. (For the record, a grocery salvage isn’t about dented cans and expired store brands. Grocery salvage stores typically buy stock of both fresh and pantry foods by the semi-truck load and pass the savings on. Those savings are enormous.)
Here are some of my recent buys:
A case of 14 fresh, marinated 3 to 4lb chickens – $11
A case of 24 Muller Greek yogurt – 99 cents.
½ gallon of Full Circle organic almond milk – 79 cents.
Whole fresh cauliflower – 2/$1.00
A case of 26 rib-eye steaks – $35
12-oz. wedges of brie cheese – $2.99
2 lb. marinated and frozen Hormel pork loins – $2.99
Organic cantaloupe – 2/$1.00
1 lb. bags of fresh organic kale and spinach – 4/$1.00
As you can see, you can get huge deals on really high-quality foods, in addition to normal canned and boxed goods. Since I started shopping almost exclusively at the salvage (I sometimes have to get milk or eggs or butter at the grocery store) my monthly grocery expense has dropped to $300 per month.
MONEY SAVED: $300 per month or $3,600 per year.
PS: To find a grocery salvage near you, check the Internet and your phone book for grocery wholesalers and grocery salvage. And don’t let the outside appearance of the place fool you.
4. Ditch your cable.
When I was working outside the home, we spent $165 for the cheapest cable option and internet service. That was $1980 per year. I work online, so I needed the internet, but I knew cable was going to have to go.
I cut back to just the Internet (with another company to get a $35 deal), and we had nothing but Netflix (nine dollars) for two years. As I started making good money, we switched to a Roku and now have Netflix and Amazon Prime. I paid $99 for the Roku, $99 a year for prime and $108 a year for Netflix.
We not only didn’t miss cable (the kids found plenty of stuff to watch, and so did I) but we spent more time together playing games, going to the pool or just GASP: talking to each other.
MONEY SAVED: $1872 per year the first two years and $1,674 per year since then.
5. Change your cell service and cut your landline.
When I was starting my freelancing career, I was paying for the “cool” phones for both myself and my then 13-year-old daughter, plus contract service. It cost us $170 per month. I paid off our contract the month before I left my job (it was up anyway), let my daughter keep her phone but sold mine and used the money to get a less cool phone for me and Straight Talk monthly service for both of us. Our monthly cell phone expense dropped from $170 to $90.
Also, since I was going to be working at home, I got rid of our landline and saved an additional $25 per month or $300 per year.
MONEY SAVED: $1260 per year.
6. Shop thrift.
Disclaimer: I’ve always loved thrift shops. But this one is for the moms who are still using your credit cards (or what little extra cash you have) to shop brand-name for you and your kids.
I’m lucky in the sense that because I work from home, I can wear whatever I want — and that tends to be jeans, yoga pants and Old Navy cargos. But when I was working outside the home, I had to dress nicely and I wore everything from Ralph Lauren to Tahari to Milly. BUT: I got everything at the thrifts. (You can’t imagine the fun of finding last season’s Milly dress, in your size, for seven dollars.)
Even now, I may wear jeans, but they’re Seven for All Mankind, Citizens for Humanity and Hudson. My now-16-year-old daughter wears nothing but American Eagle, Aeropostale, Journeys, Buckle, Roxy and Hollister. My ten year old boy/girl twins wear mainly Gymboree. I spend about $600 per year for all of us, and that includes new thrift wardrobes every spring and fall and periodic shopping here and there.
MONEY SAVED: $600 per year.
7. Visit your library.
I’m a read-a-holic and I’m not interested in a 12-step program. I love to read books and magazines (magazines were my weekend treat) and before I started freelancing, I spent about $100 per month on new books from Amazon and magazines from the grocery store.
A few months before quitting my job, I got us all library cards and limited my magazines to those I got for free. My monthly expenses for books went from $100 to about five dollars. I also have a Kindle app on my phone and download tons of free books for the kids and me.
MONEY SAVED: $1,140 per year.
8. DIY your hair and nails.
When I was working in management, I spent about $40 per month on gel nails and about $60 per month (all told) on coloring and highlights.
Working from home gives me more freedom to look as bad as I need to — and I get that. But I think I look just fine with my $12 home coloring every three months and my DIY mani/peditreatment.
MONEY SAVED: $1,100 per year.
Between just these eight things I’ve shared with you, I managed to cut $12,000 a year from my expenses. That made all the difference in being able to work from home. We’ve had tight months since I started freelancing but we’ve always paid the bills from the get-go — but only because my bills were so small!
You have two choices: you can make more money or you can need less. To be honest, I like the freedom that comes with the latter.
Originally appeared on YourTango.com

Goodbye, Sallie Mae: How To Pay Off Your Student Loan Debt Faster

April 14th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Student loans are a pain, but they don’t have to be for long. These tricks to paying off your student loans faster will put you at the top of the debt-repayment class.

Why Men Shouldn’t Fear Women Who Make More Money

April 10th, 2015 - By Madame Noire
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From MommyNoire

Moms, do you bring home a bigger salary than your man? If you do – is he bothered by that? Do you get the feeling like he’s hating on your hustle because you are the primary breadwinner within your house? Do know – for many men, a woman with a bigger paycheck can play with a man’s ego, and because of that, men often run away from women who appear to be strong, independent, educated, and financially set. Most men have been raised and taught that they should be the sole provider of their household.

But we all know with today’s economy that’s not happening in many cases. In fact, you have a lot of men being stay-at-home dads, but that’s another post. To tell you the truth, I don’t know why men get upset if their woman brings in most of the money. If you are moving as a team, for the greater good, then the only thing that should matter is the bottom line. I tell my fellas all the time that they shouldn’t be upset because their woman is stacking. Honestly, I feel like the more the merrier. Here is my advice on that scenario, if you and your partner are in a committed relationship and are living together, or in some cases separately, come up with a financial game plan so you both can win. No need to run from that – unless you don’t have a vision of how good things could be if you blend your funds.

If the woman got a good job, ask her about her come up and for communications sake, ask her to show you the road map to success. You know what I’ve learned after falling on hard times, and during some of those broke days – if you have a woman who is financially stable, if you ever fall on hard times again, she can and often will hold you down until you get your feet back on solid ground. For instance, I run a few businesses, so when dating, its important for me, at this stage, to find a woman who can bring something to the table, so we can build a stronger family unit. Running a business demands a lot of my money, so it doesn’t make sense for me to deal with a woman who isn’t thinking about the bigger picture, or be able to help us overall. If she makes more while I’m laying down the foundation – we can do more together.

Read more about financial issues in relationships at MommyNoire.com 

U.S. Dollar Becomes Stronger, Lowering Travel Expenses For Americans

April 6th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Just in time for travel season, the US dollar is coming on strong, lowering the cost for Americans to vacation abroad.

Over the past nine months, the U.S. currency has become stronger—leveling against other global currencies. Currently in Europe, it costs $1.09 to buy €1 rather than $1.37 (2014) or $1.50 (2011). So if you head to Paris right now you can purchase 25 percent more croissants, café au laits or mini Eiffel towers than years past.

The US dollar can also purchase 30 percent more Swedish kronor, 40 percent more Brazilian reais and 61 percent more Russian rubles, reports the Los Angeles Times. Not only has the dollar strengthened US spending habits, the overall U.S. economy is stronger than other global economies. The economy has also attracted investments and there is a rising international demand for the dollar. This new financial development has pushed the U.S. economy into its best position since 2003.

Although other economic markets are sinking, many countries use this as a tool to revive economic growth by decreasing prices of its exports, stocks and real estate. Richard Bernstein who serves as a financial advisor in New York believes, “Countries are fighting for market share. How do you get it? You make your currency cheaper.” Although this strategy seems like a good idea, it can create competition between countries who try to out-devalue one another, which can spur a global economic crisis .

On the flip side, foreign companies can create competitive sales by reducing their prices while not hurting the financial benefits they generate. Each dollar would then create more foreign currency for that particular company. Each dollar would then create more foreign currency. US exporters will have lower profits and less staff, which hurts U.S. sales and employment.

But back to the fun stuff: Will you be traveling abroad anytime soon?

Read also: As Black Travelers Venture Far & Wide, Social Media Documents Their Adventures

Justice Department Runs Into Problems As It Tries To Stop Bias In Auto Loan Practices

March 31st, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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People of color have struggled with trying to receive home mortgages from banks. Now, the auto industry is another source of financial bias with Blacks and Hispanics who seek car loans. The New York Times reports, there are many auto companies who are charging higher rates for car loans to minorities, what officials call reverse-redlining. But the problem is hard to root out because auto dealers aren’t regulated the way banks are.

Prosecutors from the Justice Department and officials from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have begun investigating which auto dealerships are giving these inflated loans to people of color. In addition, it’s hard to determine who is a minority that’s been harmed by the practice. It’s an issue the Justice Department has run into in the case of Ally Financial. Dealers nor lenders have to collect information about a customer’s race or ethnicity.

Add to this, the issue with pricing. Dealers can mark things up, and in some cases do on a discriminatory basis, which then impacts the loan. Passing a law to stop this, however, could prove to be nearly impossible given the powerful auto-selling lobby.

Although it may seem as though this is a hopeless civil rights case, the Justice Department did resolve a case in North Carolina where Blacks were targeted by several dealerships. The dealerships attached the highest interest rate that the North Carolina state allows and even repossessed cars from owners even if they paid their payments on time.

Although the dealerships settled with the Justice Department, they claimed they were not in the wrong. Moving forward, they have agreed to cap their maximum interest rates for all borrowers and not target minorities. This case sounds so outrageous that it would be impossible for justice to exist without making these horrible dealerships pay. The problem is most of the cases outlined by the Times aren’t as cut and dried. It’s in these details that the government is running into problems.