All Articles Tagged "finances"
Maybe you don’t have the luxury of your own apartment or home at the moment, especially with the economy’s job market and the rising living costs in many metropolitan cities. Even in college, many of us have lived in a roommate situation, where things like space, bills, and finances are shared amongst two, three or even four other people.
If you are preparing yourself to live in a roommate-style situation or already found yourself living with others, make sure you keep in mind a few tips on how to handle the finances of this tricky living situation.
The basics of financial planning are pretty simple. Spend less than you make, save for the future, and make smart investment choices. Still, once our wallet gets to a certain level of fatness (or deteriorates into shambles) we often feel the need to turn to an expert for advice.
Unfortunately, a good financial advisor can be hard to come by. Most of the time they aren’t trying to waste their precious billable hours on folks making less than six figures. Plus, it can feel hypocritical to fork over thousands of dollars for advice that you could be using to improve your financial standing.
Cue the internet to the rescue! Just like the travel industry and tax preparation services before it, financial advice is being streamlined by technology. Instead of a human advisor charging up to $150 an hour to ask you hundreds of questions about your financial standing, monetary goals, and openness to risk in order to develop a unique plan, a computer program does the job for a flat rate.
Web alternatives can be easier to use than going to a person. Many allow you to electronically pull information from your financial institutions, saving you the chore of compiling the information manually. An action plan is then generated specifically for you, based on the principles financial advisors follow. Some services, like NestWise, will follow up via e-mail or video chat with a human being for an additional fee.
For some people, visiting a firm may still be ideal. In his defense of financial advisors for Forbes, Mike Alfred refers to top advisors as “a quarterback in their client’s financial life [to] help coordinate estate planning, tax planning, insurance coverage, as well as providing a comprehensive process to help the client understand their funding needs and life goals.”
But, that logic is based on the theory that everyone’s financial situation is unique, and requires a plan specific to her financial position. The truth is, most of us are in the same boat. We eat out too much. We need to pay off debt. We’re saving for retirement or a big purchase.
If your finances have quirks that the average person doesn’t deal with, by all means turn to a professional for their opinion. But, if you’re an Average Jill looking to manage her money better, the web may be an effective, cost-friendly alternative. Here are a few options to consider, depending on the level of guidance you need to whip your wallet into shape:
Basic budgeting sites are perfect if you need help managing your money day-to-day. These free sites give you tools to track what you’re spending, what you’re saving, and how your investments are doing. Most will automatically pull your financial information from all your accounts into one place.
If you want the full financial advisor experience, without that pesky human being charging you by the hour, there are a few options available to you. These services are not free, but they are substantially lower compared to traditional planners’ prices. For an additional fee, you can speak with a person via chat or e-mail to talk through your financial plan.
C. Cleveland is a freelance writer and content strategist in New York City, perfecting living the fierce life at The Red Read. She is at your service on Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
With New Year’s still fresh in our minds, self-improvement is important to everyone. But, it’s easy to be dedicated in January. The true test is honoring those resolutions for 365 days. That’s 52 weeks of discipline! Dropping the cash to lock yourself into a year-long commitment and making good habits a part of your daily routine are two easy ways to preserve that “new you” you told all of social media would debut in 2013. Here are nine ideas, some for free and others with a cost incentive, to keep you on track.
Too often at the beginning of a New Year, we don’t address one of the biggest problem areas in our lives: our finances. Instead of striving to be financially fit, our physical fitness is more important. While health and wellness should be a main priority in our lives, our finances should also take some type of priority as well. And as 2013 approaches, striving to be more wealthy should be another resolution to put on our list.
If you are looking to make a few changes in your financial part of life this New Years, here are a few suggestions of resolutions for your finances. Get in better financial shape in 2013!
In her rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention, First Lady Michelle Obama not only spoke of her husband’s triumphs as President, but she spoke about their early financial problems. Among the memories, she revealed: “And believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage. We were so young, so in love and so in debt.”
Starting out in debt can wreck a marriage, especially for newlyweds still settling into their life together. Couples should take a few steps to not only ensure a healthy marriage but healthy finances as well. First and foremost, couples need to be honest with each other about their individual debts and understand the other person’s spending habits. Then, start working on building a financial future.
According to brand builder and business consultant, Theresa O’Neal, CEO of O’Neal & Co., it takes work to organize your finances as a couple. I interviewed O’Neal, who gave me a few tips for strategies that worked when she first married.
• Joined Together in Financial Matrimony: “Put everything in the pot together,” says O’Neal. This includes your bills.
• Set Goals: “Create long-term and short-term goals together, keep them visible and remind each other whenever there is a desire to stray off course,” she advises.
• Make it a Team Effort: Financial times are tough, but expenses persist. Even with these pressures, couples should remember to take steps to be good to one another. These little gifts don’t have to be big-ticket items. “Take turns treating each other (inexpensively, creatively) so each person in the marriage feels appreciated and well-respected,” she says. “Sometimes what ruins a marriage is that it feels lopsided, that one person’s goals and dreams are more important than the other person’s. Recognize sacrifices and acknowledge them verbally and non-verbally.”
Who knows… with a little effort, you and your spouse may follow the Obamas to the White House.
A new report from the Pew Charitable Trust shows that younger generations of African Americans aren’t surpassing the wealth achieved by earlier generations, a finding that’s in stark contrast with other groups.
“Specifically, African Americans are much more likely than whites to be stuck at the bottom of the income ladder over a generation, and also at the bottom of the wealth ladder,” the study’s project manger Erin Currier told The Huffington Post.
According to the Pew report, 84 percent of Americans have higher family incomes than their elders. However, when you look specifically at African Americans, they “are more likely to be stuck at the bottom and fall from the middle of the economic ladder across a generation.” More than 18,000 people across 5,000 families and a number of decades going back to the 1960s were part of the analysis.
Part of the problem is home ownership and the higher price both Blacks and Latinos pay for their property. We’ll also argue that the employment situation in the Black community is a problem. The overall high rate of joblessness in the Black community makes exceeding the prior generation’s financial standing more difficult.
Let’s face it, marriage isn’t for everyone. As a matter of fact, Nia Long made headlines recently for declaring that marriage wasn’t a “priority” for her, despite having a baby with her long time boyfriend – her second child out-of-wedlock. While we know that you can be in a loving relationship without having a piece of paper to legitimize your commitment, that piece of paper can reap greater benefits to couples who make it “official” as opposed to those who are simply shacking up. Society, communities, congregations and even the IRS tend to make things a little easier for those who decide to say “I do” – so while marriage may not be YOUR cup of tea, for those who ARE considering it, here are a few reasons why uttering a few vows in front of friends, family or the courthouse officer may be worth your while.
When starting a brand new relationship, it’s understandable to be cautious when divulging personal information. After all, you don’t want to tell someone you just met how many sexual partners you’ve had on your first date, and anyone who wants to know EVERYTHING about you before dessert is a bit creepy. It can be overwhelming, and if you have issues with “your business,” you may not want to share EVERYTHING.
But as a relationship progresses, getting close to your partner should foster a deeper level of intimacy where sharing information becomes easier. However, for some, being completely open and honest about all aspects of their lives is a scary thought – or simply unheard of – because they feel that their business is simply that…their business. We can all expect that there will be some level of secrecy in any relationship, but some go from being mysterious to downright manipulative – which is where the relationship can run into trouble. While you may be afraid that “oversharing” will either scare your partner away or cripple the relationship, the key to any union is communication and honesty; whether you have just started dating, or are in a full-blown, long-term relationship. While your man may not need to know that you secretly watch trashy reality shows, there are major things you should never keep from a significant other – here are 5.
Are you spending for the life you have or the life you want?
That’s the question I had to ask myself as I stood in an electronic store recently mulling over an iPad purchase. As I stood there considering how much this purchase would set me back financially, I glanced down at my shoes. The rubber had all but completely worn off the bottom near my toes and it looked to be only a matter of time before my big toe came out for air. These were my only pair of decent flats to wear to work and they were at a point way past raggedy. I’d been too cheap to purchase a new pair, yet I was justifying a shiny, new electronics purchase that was easily forty times the price of a new pair of shoes.
There I stood between the life I have: a working girl who needs dress shoes for the office versus the life I want: a lucrative, self-employed woman whose line of business requires flip-flops…and the latest electronics. The lives were mutually exclusive at that point, one decidedly less expensive and the other undoubtedly rooted in fantasy. Yet, I was much more willing to throw away my life savings chasing a mirage instead of investing my disposable income to improve upon what I already possessed.
I’d done this time and time again:
Deciding I wanted to be a “Woman who Scrapbooks”, I bought a ton of scrapbook materials and never made a single scrapbook page.
Deciding I wanted to be a marathon-runner, I bought a pair of custom running shoes and signed up for a gym membership only to use them both twice in six months.
Deciding I wanted to be a great cook, I purchased a Wok to make cool Asian-inspired cuisine…and that Wok is collecting a considerable amount of dust.
Deciding I wanted to go to grad school, I bought several GRE study guides and vocabulary books and hardly cracked one of them.
Author Scott Young, would call my efforts “feel good tasks”: tasks I do to make me feel like I’m doing something without my actually doing anything. He says a feel good task is a task not essential to getting started nor directly contributing to success; therefore this task rarely results in achieving a particular goal and instead becomes an end unto itself.
In other words, I determine I want to be well-read so I subscribe to the New Yorker and immediately feel like I’ve reached my goal despite not having actually read a thing.
This isn’t to say I can never change, pursue my dreams or pick up a new hobby, but maybe I can ease into those changes financially once I’ve made a serious commitment (evidenced by follow-through) rather than using my desire to change as an excuse to spend money.
If I’m serious about scrapbooking, I can start by collecting and organizing all the pictures lying around the house. If I’m serious about running, I can go outside and run every day for a month. If I’m serious about cooking, I can unthaw the meat that’s been in my freezer for a considerable amount of time. If I’m serious about grad school, there are tons of free, online practice guides for the GRE. And if I’m serious about saving money and building wealth then I can stop spending money on random, unrelated projects just to feel like I’m doing something.
Prioritizing purchases is one thing, financing a life I don’t actually live is another. It’s a sure-fire way to end up in debt or, at the very least, with a lot of stuff I don’t need or use.
What do you think? Have you ever found yourself financing a life you don’t actually live?
Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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Depending on who you talk to, we are on this earth to procreate and keep the human race thriving. In the meantime, we get jobs, we achieve things, we possibly get married, we live and learn (and change hairstyles), but in the end, folks are conditioned to be ready to bring another human being into the world (once again, this depends on who you’re talking to). According to the media, everybody is doing it (“Teen Mom,” celebrities, hell the Duggar family just won’t stop), and people should follow suit. But what happens when in your mind, you’re the one person who doesn’t want to have kids?
For years, I wasn’t extremely amped about the idea of motherhood, maybe because of the fact that I’ve had nieces and nephews to help look after and keep entertained since I was 4 (I can barely remember when my first niece and nephew were born, that’s how young I really was). I liked the idea of naming kids, but the raising kids part seemed like more than I could wrap my brain around, especially when my mom would say,”When I was your age, I had TWO kids and was married!. Oh, okay.
But as the years have gone by and I’ve watched other nieces and nephews be born and grow, and now watch my sister go through her first pregnancy, I realize that IN THE FUTURE, I’d like a little bundle of joy myself. But a coworker of mine looks at the idea of motherhood the same way she looks at the rubbery stick of cheese she tried to ingest from 7-Eleven this morning…with a bit of confusion, or as I like to say, she gives it the “Oh hell no face.” She respects those who do it, but she’s over the whole “Oh, I want to have a baby” hysteria. Aside from naming the struggles of growing up in a big family, when I asked her what influenced her to pass on having her own children in the near future, she threw out a variety of scattered reasons and responses:
The Commitment: The reality of the fact that when a child comes out, it’s with you and yours until you pass on (God willing) was a little too much for her. Having responsibility over another human being for years and years was something she was a bit leery of, and even when a child grows up, that doesn’t mean the worry over them stops. There’s no vacay from being a mom.
The Financial Burden: From the cost of the pregnancy test, to the money you have to put together to help put them through college, children are indeed expensive. My co-worker says she realizes she’s not in a place in her life where she can shoulder all the costs, and isn’t sure she’ll ever be there or ready to shoulder it at all.
The Thought of Taking Care of Children Isn’t a Pleasant One: While she might not mind taking care of a little cousin for a few hours, knowing she can’t give said child back to their parent at the end of the day is a tad bit scary. Dealing with their possible terrible twos and tantrums, their energetic personalities and more for 24 hours a day, seven days a week 365 days a year (of course, with school or daycare involved) is something that fills her with anxiety, not a sense of happiness or fullness. Forget diamonds, kids are forever!
After we discussed her issues with motherhood and childbirth, the conversation turned to the idea of whether or not having these feelings and being against the idea of having children made people self-absorbed. She told me a story about hanging out with a girlfriend while they had a conversation with a man about why they didn’t have kids yet, and her friend made it clear that she wouldn’t have a child if she didn’t meet the right guy. The fella decided to blast her friend for being “selfish.” As crazy as that sounds, it’s not the first time someone has tried to pull that on a woman. When Oprah made it clear that she wasn’t going to push out any babies and reiterated the point over the years, people wondered why a woman who could provide so much to a child wouldn’t want to have children, or even adopt them. Selfish, much? But it was an interesting question: Does not wanting children make a woman selfish?
While some women might not want to give birth for superficial reasons (“I’m trying to keep my body right!”), or for random reasons (they had a bad encounter with ONE child and are over them all), there are many who just really don’t feel the need to do have a kid. Not because they hate kids, but because they just don’t see themselves in the motherly role. Maybe they’ve had bad experiences being children in humongous families, or have aspirations to do a wealth of things that wouldn’t be baby friendly, but whatever the reason, while folks might not immediately understand it, I don’t think it makes someone selfish. That’s like a woman unsure of whether or not to get married to her boyfriend does so to please the folks who say she should, only to have a rocky marriage. If you know in your heart you don’t have an enthusiasm for the concept, why would you go forth and have a child? Why bring someone in the world that you don’t want? In reality, what would be more selfish is to bring a child in the world that you can’t provide for, don’t have love for, and don’t want to take responsibility of, and sadly, we see women do things of that nature every day. Instead of giving these ladies the side eye, you might want to show them love for keeping it real with themselves.
Who knows, my co-worker’s feelings could change in the future. The right guy could come along, sweep her off of her feet and make her want to start a family. Or maybe she’ll continue to work her way to the top of the fashion world and leave all the babies and the baby talk to everybody else. In the end, I know what I would like for myself, and she clearly knows what she doesn’t want for herself. Coming to terms with the fact that you don’t want to have kids and being okay with your choice doesn’t make you selfish though, at least in my opinion. But uh, good look getting your family to be as understanding…
What are your thoughts on women who don’t want to have children? Is it selfish?
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