10 Investing Principles Everyone Should Understand

10 Investing Principles Everyone Should Understand

If you buy into all the latest investing apps, they make it look simple. But don’t be fooled; investing gets complicated. And it can become even more so if you are trying to stay ahead of new trends, strategies, financial products, and fluctuating markets. However, using common sense and sticking to a few key financial principles can help you navigate your finances. Unfortunately, many people forget these and make foolish mistakes that cost them money. Even if you are just starting out, here are 10 investing principles everyone should understand.

10 Investing Principles Everyone Should Understand

1. Saving and investing are two different things.

One of the most common misconceptions that I hear is when people assume that their saving and investing strategies are one and the same. However, understanding the difference is one of the most important investing principles.

Investing is an important part of long-term retirement planning. But, it requires you to put money in riskier assets to get higher returns. On the other hand, saving goals require more stable products and should be accessible when you need funds. Since you are allocating the funds towards different goals, they should operate independently of one another.

2. You aren’t Warren Buffett.

If you enjoy discussing investment strategies, you will encounter many eager, young investors who have high hopes of becoming the next Oracle of Omaha. However, you have to be realistic. You are probably not the next Warren Buffett. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t develop a sound investment strategy.

The average investor will experience moderate success with sound decision-making and long-term gains. While it’s great to have role models and high aspirations, you must make decisions based on your financial situation.

3. You can’t time the market.

Investors have always tried to predict the future and time the markets to maximize their ROI. But, no one has a crystal ball and investing isn’t an exact science.

Truth be told, it’s impossible to know exactly how the markets will react. Therefore, you shouldn’t try to time the markets. There will always be ebbs and flows, so it’s better to take a measured approach to ride out the highs and lows of these fluctuations.

4. Day trading is harder than it looks.

When day trading apps hit the scene, it was big news. In the past, investors relied on brokers to handle their trading. But now, the average investor can access the same markets without a middleman.

Although these apps have made investing more convenient, day trading is much harder than it looks. If you were to ask someone who makes several trades a day, they will probably tell you that they don’t make much money. In fact, many people experience losses from these trades. That’s not to say that you can’t make money day trading. But, it’s naive to ignore how much skill and luck it takes to be successful at it.

5. You probably won’t get rich on meme stocks.

Investing has become a popular topic of conversation on social media. With a quick search, you can find hundreds of sites and videos that discuss new products and available stocks. Some of these groups and forums attract novice investors and create frenzies when the nets start buzzing about the latest meme stocks.

Unfortunately, it’s probably too late to jump on the gravy train by the time it becomes newsworthy. Unless you owned these stocks become they became popular, there is very little chance you will make money from meme stocks. Any financial advisor worth their salt will tell you to avoid popular trends and stick to the fundamental investing principles and strategies.

6. Diversify!

When it comes to your assets, you never want to be all your proverbial eggs in the same basket. Therefore, diversification is an important way to mitigate risk and protect your portfolio during market declines.

When you are building your portfolio, you want a healthy, well-rounded amount of offerings with different types of assets, including some that are inversely correlated or independent of the stock market. For those who take a more hands-off approach, index funds are a wise investment since they have built-in diversification that will bring you steady returns.

7. Short-term losses and market fluctuations are normal.

If you have been tracking your portfolio day to day during the last year, it has been gut-wrenching. But when I get that feeling in the pit of my stomach, my financial planner always reminds me that market fluctuations are the nature of the game.

You have to accept that there will be periods of significant gains and serious losses. Remember, these fluctuations are normal and market corrections will happen. The worst thing you can do is panic sell. Instead, take a longer view and allow time for the markets to rebound.

8. Expect taxes and fees.

When you are investing and earning dividends, you should expect to pay management fees and taxes on your trades. When it comes to your investments, there are going to be tax implications when you sell stock or take withdrawals. So, you should have a clear understanding of these before you act.

9. Investing shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all.

Everyone has different risk tolerance and long-term goals. That’s why the initial assessment is so important to your strategy. If you haven’t done it already, it will help you determine where you are at in life and what products and assets will get you to your goals. Every situation is unique. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work when it comes to investing.

10. You have to monitor and adjust your strategy regularly.

There are several helpful investing principles. But if you take nothing else from this list, let it be this: change is constant. So, you have to monitor and sometimes adjust your strategy.

Markets and economic conditions never remain stagnant. Since they are always changing, you can’t just set your strategy and walk away. It’s a good habit to check them on a regular basis. Or if you prefer, pay someone to do it for you. As markets and circumstances fluctuate, may need to rebalance, reallocate funds to more profitable investments, or adjust your risk tolerance level. If you aren’t willing to adapt, it could cost you more than you realize.

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Editors note: If you’re reading this because you’re looking for fresh investing ideas you could always go and read about dividend stocks at Ten Factorial Rocks.  It’s a nice little site with some good thoughts on investing.

What’s the Best Payment Type When Trying To Stick on a Budget?

What’s the Best Payment Type When Trying to Stick to a Budget?

Budgeting is an important skill for money management. If you ever hope to become financially independent, then you will need to learn how to make a budget and live below your means. However, many people struggle with this and continually overspend month after month. Unfortunately, it has become even easier to blow your budget when you rely on digital payment methods. Those who have trouble tracking their finances or remain unaware of their spending habits will find it especially difficult. In addition to learning the budgeting basics, you will also need to choose payment methods that will keep you on track. So, what is the best payment type when you’re trying to stick to a budget?

The Best Payment Type When You’re Trying to Stick to a Budget

For those who are having trouble reigning in their spending habits, it’s time to get to work. When people ask me for help, I turn to the old-fashioned method. So, gather up your bills, get your notepad, and get ready to put your finances under the microscope. Once you have done the math, you may discover some hard truths about your financial situation. If you don’t like what the numbers reveal, then it’s time to make some changes.

One of the best places to re-establish control is by choosing the best payment type when you’re trying to stick to a budget. But, how do you choose?

The Danger of Credit Cards

Although they have their uses, most people will agree that credit cards are dangerous for your budget. The convenience and accessibility are too much temptation for some. Furthermore, the high-interest rates can tank your long-term goals. And if you only manage to make the minimum payment every month, you will never get out of debt. It’s best to look at credit cards as a temporary loan and a last resort option for emergency use only.

Turning to Cash-Based Payment Types

When weighing the options, cash-based alternatives are the best payment type when you’re trying to stick to a budget. For me, this usually means that I only use my debit card or cash when things are tight. This way, I can only spend money that I actually have. Since you have to pay for things up front, it trained me to understand that if I didn’t have the funds to pay for something outright, then I shouldn’t buy it.

The all-cash system was best when I was living on a bare-bones budget because it put a hard stop to overspending. I paid my bills first and set aside small amounts to get me through the rest of the month. Once the money was gone, there was nothing more to spend until the next payday.

Debit cards can function in the same way, but they come with other risks. Since they are linked to your checking account, you only have access to limited funds. But, you must be careful not to overdraw the account. Otherwise, you could incur additional fees.

Using Technology to Help You Stick to a Budget

If you want to learn how to budget successfully, then you have to know where your money is going. It can be a painful exercise, but you have to know the reality of your situation before you can make a plan and take action. Once you know how you spend your money, it will be easier to identify where you can cut back or reallocate funds.

Online Banking

Online banking has made budgeting infinitely easier to stay connected to your finances. You can log in from any computer or mobile device to check account balances, transfer money, and pay bills. You can also set alerts when they reach a certain level or you have insufficient funds. I also set credit card alerts for large purchases and reminders when payments are due to help me avoid late fees.

Automating Your Finances

Another trick to help you stick to your budget is by automating your finances. Many employers offer direct deposit so your paycheck will go directly into your account. This removed the temptation to spend when I had cash in hand. Once it reached the dedicated accounts, it took longer to access my money which made me reconsider my spending.

Automating recurring payments is another method to ensure your bills get paid before you can spend your entire paycheck. Now, my utilities and other monthly bills are paid on time every month which is helpful for people like me who sometimes miss payments and incur late fees. However, I always make sure I have enough in my accounts to cover the payments and never use it for membership fees.

There are also a plethora of digital tools and budgeting apps that can help. Mint is a great option to track your spending and savings. Meanwhile, Acorns can help you save more every month by rounding up each transaction and setting it aside for when you need it.

Tracking Finances the Old-Fashioned Way

Growing up in a lower-middle-class family, we were always painfully aware of our monthly spending. Spontaneous shopping trips and unnecessary splurging meant that we would have to forego other things we would look forward to, like pizza and movie nights or other pricey outings.

However, we made it work. Thanks to my dad’s exemplary budgeting skills and meticulous recordkeeping, we always had what we needed. Part of this included my siblings and me participating in the weekly accounting exercises. While it wasn’t the most exciting way to spend family time, I learned some valuable habits that have served me well in my adult life.

Thanks to my dad’s attention to detail, I learned how to monitor my finances and always know exactly where I stand. I check every account throughout the month, remain vigilant of my spending limits, and know how to balance the budget. He also taught me how to use credit to my advantage and avoid long-term debt.

Strangely enough, it seems many adults never gained this type of financial literacy. It shocks me how many people remain blissfully unaware of the bad financial habits that are putting them deeper into debt. But if you ever hope to regain control, then you will have to learn some self-discipline. And with the access to free online resources that we have today, you can start teaching yourself better habits to help you reach your financial goals.

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7 Facts About Retirement Planning That May Surprise You


Like many people out there, I didn’t spend much time in my early adult years thinking about retirement planning. Instead, I was more concerned with paying down my debt and making ends meet. There were times I even joked that I would never be able to afford to retire, so there was no point in starting. However, once I became established in my career and later got married, we started to look at things more seriously. As I took my first steps in planning for the future, I discovered many facts about retirement that were very surprising.

7 Facts About Retirement Planning That May Surprise You

1. Many Americans are getting a late start on investing.

I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t alone in my procrastination to invest. After reading a recent Gallup poll from 2021, the survey revealed that 21% of Americans haven’t begun saving for retirement. To break down this figure even further, 42% of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 reported that they had no retirement savings while 26% of people between 30 and 44 said the same.

Although these facts about retirement planning are concerning, I was more shocked to learn how little people are saving. Even those who have started retirement accounts are not contributing as much as they have in the past. The average retirement account balance for people 35-44 years old was only $37,000 while those 45-55 years old averaged $82,600. The numbers are far behind what financial planners recommend for their clients.

2. Debt was a major factor in the delay to save for retirement.

This next fact isn’t as surprising as it is depressing. Many of us have struggled with debt which is precisely why I waited to invest as well.

Among the participants in the survey, 28% of people said they didn’t make enough to start investing. An additional 24% responded that healthcare costs kept them from saving while 23% said that credit card debt was a major roadblock in their savings goals. However, only 17% attributed the delay to the repayment of student loans.

Personally, I thought this last group would be higher. But any way you look at it, these statistics show that debt is a serious problem in our country and a major reason why people are struggling to reach financial independence.

3. The pandemic has significantly impacted people’s retirement accounts.

Although many people probably already know this, the pandemic has taken a serious toll on people’s finances. Between layoffs, reduced hours, the decreased ability to work, and other economic concerns, Covid-19 has made difficult situations even harder to manage.

Considering how many people already live paycheck to paycheck, the increased job insecurity has stretched many budgets to their limits. And when you are struggling to survive, it is no longer feasible to save a portion of your monthly salary.

Since 2020, nearly 27% of Americans said they either decreased the amount or stopped contributing to their retirement savings altogether. Another 21% said they had to dip into their retirement accounts as well. While there are regional differences in these trends, it demonstrates how much the global economy and individual finances have been impacted during the pandemic, setting many people back several years from their savings goals.

4. The cost of long-term care is increasing every year.

It’s no secret that healthcare is getting more expensive for Americans. But, we saw the highest year-over-year increase in these expenses between 2020 and 2021.

Health experts estimate that 7 out of 10 people from the baby boomer generation will need long-term care. As this group reaches retirement age, the demand for assisted living and nursing homes continues to grow. However, many prefer to use caregivers and remain in their own homes.

This has led to a 10.64% increase in the cost of homemaker services and a 12.5% in health aid services. These figures are further supported by the fact that the average wages increased by more than 5% for those who provide these services. Furthermore, the national average rate for assisted living also went up by 4.65%.

While some of these increases are attributed to inflation, the hard truth is that people are living longer. And the older people get, the more health complications they develop. But another fact that people overlook is that we have an aging population and younger generations are reproducing enough to replenish the workforce. This means expenses will only continue to increase, and we will likely have to rely more on foreign labor to fill this need in the years to come.

5. Approximately 35% of Americans don’t have access to company-sponsored retirement plans.

In years past, pension plans were a standard company offering. However, benefits packages have been severely watered down. Some may offer contribution matching or employer-sponsored 401(k)s. But, 35% of Americans said they have never participated in these plans while an additional 41% said they didn’t currently have access to them.

One reason is that many companies restrict these plans to full-time employees. This has left many part-time and self-employed workers at a disadvantage. Therefore, they have to be resourceful and use other investment vehicles like a Simple IRA to fill this void in their portfolios.

6. The retirement age is steadily increasing.

Another one of the eye-opening facts about retirement that the Gallup poll reported is that the current median age for retirement is 62. This is the highest it has been in 20 years. However, what’s more worrying is that this number increased to 64 when they surveyed non-retirees.

This indicates that people expect to work longer. This is partially due to people living longer, which also means they have to make their savings last longer. But, the survey also revealed that 57% of respondents plan to work during retirement to mitigate these expenses. Among those who plan to work past the age of 65, 20% will stay on as full-time workers. However, 37% plan to at least keep part-time hours because they expect that their retirement benefits won’t be enough to support them.

7. An astounding 42% worry that they will outlive their retirement savings.

This last fact is probably the most terrifying to me. Although no one can predict the future, 42% of Americans fear that they will outlive their retirement savings. An additional 73% believe that Social Security benefits won’t even be an option for them when they retire.

Some formulas can help you estimate how much you will need to save to sustain your current lifestyle after you retire. But if inflation rates continue to spike for years to come, this could undermine savings plans and leave you vulnerable later in life.

Preparing to Retire

When I first started thinking about retirement planning and doing the math, I had a panic attack realizing how many years I had lost. And reading these facts about retirement planning didn’t help much. But the best piece of advice I received is that it’s never too late to start. Once I enlisted the help of a financial advisor, he helped me set my savings goals, get back on track, and keep pace with my long-term retirement goals.

Fortunately, I already had the good sense to pay off my debts before 30, so now I’m focusing my energy on investment strategy. For me, this includes creating a diverse portfolio with different types of accounts that offer various tax advantages at different stages in life. If you are struggling like I was, have an honest discussion with your financial advisor about your concerns. They can help you determine the best course of action for your retirement planning goals and financial situation.

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How To Get Free Passes to Zoos and Museums

How to Get Free Passes to Zoos and Museums

Are you looking for entertainment and cultural experiences, but can’t afford the admission prices? Then we have some good news for you! You can still plan fun adventures for the whole family, even when you’re on a budget. Here’s how to get free passes to zoos and museums in your area.

5 Ways to Get Free Passes to Zoos and Museums

Some zoos and museums, such as the 19 institutions that comprise the Smithsonian, always have free admission. However, most charge a fee for you to enjoy their public displays. The average cost is usually around $10, but sometimes ticket prices are closer to $30 per person.

If you are living on a strict budget, even small fees may not be feasible. Whether you are purchasing a single ticket or admission for the whole family, the prices and fees can quickly add up. But, several programs offer low-cost and even free admission. So if you are looking to still have fun with limited funds for entertainment, here are a few ways you can get free passes to zoos and museums near you.

1. Free Admission Days

Many attractions schedule free admission days to help those on a budget. They usually take place in the off-season, but you can also score free tickets around Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, and other annual events.

Offers for Local Residents

Some places set specific days for local residents to enjoy free admission to attractions in their own city. To take advantage of free admission on these days, you will need to provide an ID that verifies a local address. You can easily find this information since they advertise dates on their webpage or social media accounts.

Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day

Another event many people look forward to is Museum Day which Smithsonian Magazine sponsors every September. This is an annual event where participating museums, zoos, and cultural centers in nearly every state offer free admission to anyone with a pass.

This year, it will take place on Sunday, September 17. All you need to do is download your ticket, print it, then show it at admission to get free entry for 2 people. Tickets usually become available by mid-August. If you are curious about which institutions and attractions are on the list, visit their site to see the museums that are participating this year.

Blue Star Museums

Another little-known discount is through Blue Star Museums. More than 2,000 museums across the country offer free access to military members and their families. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, active duty service members and up to 5 family members can gain free entrance. This includes spouses, children, and siblings. However, you will need to show identification at the ticket window. So, make sure you have it with your to get your free passes.

Museums on Us by Bank of America

Some financial institutions also offer free admission days. Bank of America has a program called Museums on Us which grants free access to cardholders from Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and US Trust.

Customers can enjoy the extra perk of free admission on the first weekend of every month. Just be aware that you will need to present your card at the admissions window. Unfortunately, the offer is only valid for cardholders, so you will need to purchase additional tickets for children and other nonmembers.

Wells Fargo Free Museum Days

Wells Fargo has a similar benefit for its members as well. Since it sponsors several museums across the country, it offers free admission to everyone. You can look on their tickets page to see which locations qualify.

2. Passes from the Local Library

The public library is an amazing place that offers free access to books, media, the internet, and other fun activities. But did you know they also offer free passes and discounted tickets?

Libraries often partner with city governments to provide greater access to arts and cultural resources. And all you need is your library card. Next time you visit a local branch, you can ask about the Museum Adventure Pass which offers free admission to attractions on a first-come, first-served basis. This includes free tickets to zoos and museums as well as art and cultural events like theater and orchestra. You can head down to the closest branch and ask your librarian for more details.

3. Reciprocal Memberships

If you have already purchased a membership with a zoo or museum, some memberships offer reciprocal benefits in other cities. Currently, there are over 1,000 institutions that are members of the North American Reciprocal Museum Association and offer free admission to their partner locations when you join.

If you are going on vacation, look to see if they extend these perks to museums or zoos in the city you are visiting. Remember that partnerships can change, so check for the updated list before you travel.

4. Redeem Rewards for Free Tickets

Another option is to check with your loyalty and rewards programs to see if they offer free tickets. Many credit cards, airlines, hotels, retailers, and even specific brands like Coke allow you to trade points for free tickets. So if you have been saving them, you may be able to get free passes to theme parks, zoos, aquariums, and more.

5. Income-Based Programs

Those who are in lower income brackets may also qualify for special discounts. Museums for All offers free or reduced prices to families that receive SNAP benefits. Recipients will gain entrance to over 1,000 museums across the US when they show their EBT card at the admissions counter.

You can also check if your city or county offers supplemental programs to get free passes to zoos and museums. Sometimes these include buy one, get one deals or discounts on family passes. For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation Department in your state.

Planning Ahead Can Save You a Bundle

Planning fun excursions that require admission tickets can get expensive. But if you plan ahead and look for deals, it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways you can still enjoy fun outings without the high price tags. With these programs, you can give your family a new experience and expand their horizons.

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What are NFTs and What Makes Them Valuable?

What Are NFTs and What Makes Them Valuable?

While this technology has been around for a while now, NFTs have grown in popularity in recent years. And, they have created a lot of excitement for investors. However, many people like myself are still a bit confused about these assets. And some still aren’t certain what they are exactly. If you still have questions about NFTs and how they work, here’s what you need to know about them and how to start investing.

What Are NFTs?

Investopedia defines non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, as cryptographic assets on a blockchain that each have a unique identification code and metadata to distinguish them from one another. But what does this mean in laymens’ terms?

Essentially, NFTs are a new way of tokenizing assets through a blockchain, giving people the ability to buy, sell, and trade them more efficiently. While they have had a particular focus on digital artwork, they can be a digital representation of nearly any kind of asset.

For example, some NFTs represent content or ownership of real-world assets such as collectibles, artwork, gaming items, domain names, real estate, and other valuable items. NFTs can now provide an authentic certificate created through blockchain technology. While early examples focused on digital media and collectibles, they have evolved and expanded the definition of what they incorporate.

How Do They Work?

Thanks to the advent of blockchain technology, NFTs can be bought, sold, and traded like physical assets.  During the creation process, it receives a unique identifier linked to a single blockchain address, validates the information, then closes the block. It also assigns ownership to manage the NFT’s transferability. Once they are created or “minted”, the information is recorded on a blockchain and remains publically available.

However, there are key features that distinguish NFTs from other types of assets. While fungible assets like currency can be traded and exchanged for one another, non-fungible assets cannot. Though they may exist on the same blockchain and look identical, they are not interchangeable or replicable. Instead, you can trade and exchange them for money, cryptocurrencies, and other NFTs based on their market value or the value the owner places on them.

Each NFT is unique and irreplaceable. Therefore, they aren’t inherently equal since people place different values on them. However, you can combine them to create a new, unique asset altogether.

What Makes NFTs Valuable?

NFTs have gained popularity since 2015 with the growing excitement around cryptocurrencies and blockchain frameworks. However, their value is subjective since it depends on the individual value assigned to them based on what people are willing to pay.

With that being said, there are a few characteristics that can increase the general value of NFTs. For example, the more people who see it online and instantly recognize it, the more valuable it becomes. However, they do provide unique benefits that you won’t get with other assets.

Greater Security

First and foremost, it offers greater security since each NFT has a unique identification code. This acts as a digital signature, so authenticity is easily verifiable and there is no chance of circulating fakes or replicas which is especially important with collectibles.

Many investors also feel this is a safer way of transferring assets since you can store personal information on an immutable blockchain. So, it can’t be accessed, stolen, or used without the key. As long as you keep the key secure, it can’t get lost, hacked, damaged, or destroyed.

Greater Efficiency during Transfer

Another valuable benefit is that it streamlines the transfer process. Like stocks, NFTs represent the ownership of an asset or even a business. Therefore, they can be bought and sold in much the same way as stocks. However, using NFTs automates the transfer of ownership. In addition to simplifying the sales process for better market efficiency, it also removes the middlemen so sellers can directly connect with their target audience, making NFTs accessible to everyone.

More Options for Investors

Lastly, new types of assets create new opportunities for investors. While they provide an entirely new way to invest in digital assets, they also allow the digital representation of physical assets. It also creates new options to fractionalize physical assets. Rather than needing significant capital to buy a single asset, people can purchase partial shares of collectibles, artwork, and real estate.

How Do You Purchase NFTs?

If you are wanting to invest in NFTs, you first need a digital wallet. You can start with an account on a crypto platform or exchange where you can buy and sell various types of cryptocurrencies. Each one offers different services. So, it’s a good idea to research which ones have the best features and support for your needs. Once you have a digital wallet, you can store and trade them.

The vast majority of NFTs exist on the Ethereum cryptocurrency blockchain, so you can buy many of them with ether (ETH). If you already have this in your digital wallet, you can purchase them on marketplaces like OpenSea, Rarible, Foundation, or SuperRare. However, you should be aware that many exchanges take a small percentage in transaction fees.

Is It Worth Investing in NFTs?

Now that we understand a little more about NFTs and how they work, I find myself questioning if it’s worth investing in them. And like all investment opportunities, it depends.

One of the greatest pieces of sage advice from Warren Buffet is don’t invest in a business you don’t understand. However, that doesn’t mean that investing in NFTs is a bad idea. If you find an asset that appeals to your knowledge and interest, it could present a good opportunity to diversify your portfolio.

However, at this stage, I don’t feel confident enough in my understanding to sink money into these types of investments. That’s not to say this couldn’t change in the future, especially if I understand the value of the underlying asset. But since I am still working to create a well-rounded portfolio, other assets are more beneficial to my long-term goals.

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10 Professional Services That You Can DIY to Save Money

Professional Services That You Can DIY to Save Money

When it comes to household repairs, there are certain things you should always trust to an expert. However, there are easier jobs you can learn to do for yourself. Next time you face these projects, a quick YouTube tutorial or help from a friend could save you hundreds of dollars. Here are 10 professional services that you can DIY to save money and your budget.

10 Professional Services That You Can DIY to Save Money

Household Projects

1. Take care of your own yard work.

Before we moved into our home, I had always rented. So, you can imagine my surprise to learn how much time and money it took to maintain the yard. However, you can save hundreds of dollars each month by mowing, landscaping, or cleaning up your own yard waste.

Professional service fees vary depending on where you live and the size of your lot. Mowing starts from $25-$65, and you will pay more for additional services. Unfortunately, if you are paying for these services weekly or biweekly, they can quickly add up. Although you will have to invest in lawn care equipment upfront, the savings will cover the expense in time.

2. handle simple repairs yourself.

Nowadays, you can find a tutorial for any task on YouTube. With step-by-step videos from professionals, you can learn how to tackle simple repairs and skip labor fees.

For example, there are dozens of free videos that will show you how to prepare your home for seasonal changes. You can learn how to add insulation, seal doors and windows to lower heating costs, or seal your driveway to withstand the elements.

There are also instructional videos if you want to attempt easy plumbing problems. A quick search will produce dozens of people willing to show you how to install your own hardware/faucets, fix leaky toilets, or snake the drains to remove blockages.

Even if you don’t have the equipment, renting it from a home improvement store is still cheaper than paying for professional services.

3. Do your own painting.

Over time, home decor and color schemes show their age. So, painting can breathe new life into a space. But hiring professional painters is another of these professional services that you can DIY to save money.

Professional painters usually charge $20-$50 an hour. An average room will run you a few hundred dollars. But, this figure increases to the thousands when you are painting the exterior of your home.

If you decide to paint it yourself, you will only need to cover the cost of the materials for the job. Although it will take more time, you can get it done for a fraction of the cost.

4. Cancel the Cleaning Services.

My mom ran her own cleaning business for years. And it never ceased to amaze me how much people are willing to pay for these services. While you may hate doing chores, canceling your cleaning services can save you more than $200 a month.

And if you need to cut the budget even further, you can make your own cleaning products for pennies on the dollar. Most cleaning solutions use the same, low-cost ingredients that you can get in any grocery store. Not only will it save you money, but they are also more environmentally friendly than harsh, chemical cleaners.

Vehicle Maintenance

5. Skip the car wash.

I won’t lie to you, I appreciate having a monthly membership to the local car wash, especially during the winter months. But, this is one reoccurring charge that I could eliminate to save more money each month.

During the summer, I will happily wash my own car. However, regular washes become more important in the winter months when salt and other corrosives cling to the paint. If you need to trim the budget, skip the car wash. You can do it at home for free, or head to a self-service car wash to help you save cash.

6. Learn how to do basic vehicle maintenance.

When we first started driving, my dad required all my siblings to learn basic vehicle maintenance. Thanks to him, I have saved thousands of dollars over the years by maintaining my cars and knowing how they work. It has also helped me identify issues before they developed into expensive problems.

To this day, I regularly check the fluids, tires, and air filters to ensure that my car is running at maximum efficiency. These are professional services and simple replacements that you can DIY to save a ton on the cost of labor.

Health and Beauty Services

7. Save on groceries by preparing meals at home.

This DIY service is one of the most common budgeting hacks out there. Yet, people still spend a disproportionate amount of money at restaurants or for delivery services. Sure, it’s easy. But when you have a limited budget, every cent matters.

Preparing meals at home will save you a ton of money each month. And, you can save even more on groceries if you use coupons or join a discount buying club. Not only will this improve your financial health, but it is also an opportunity to focus on your physical health as well.

8. Revamp your beauty routine at home.

Most of us can’t afford regular visits to the spa. Even when you look for services at smaller salons, you are still going to pay around $30-$50 for manicures, pedicures, and skin treatments. And if you are adding hair treatments, these prices will double.

Although these services aren’t necessities, that doesn’t mean you have to stop pampering yourself. Instead, you can learn how to do some of these treatments at home. Not only does it save hundreds of dollars, but it can extend the time between professional services.

If you decide to start doing more of your beauty routine at home, make sure you choose quality products. Or, learn how to make natural treatments that are budget friendly and still give you that same glow.

Financial Services

9. Do your own taxes.

As tax season approaches, many companies and financial institutions have already sent out their documents. Although I have kept meticulous records and collected all the necessary paperwork, I still hate filing my taxes. So, I usually hire someone to prepare them for me.

But if this isn’t in the budget, there is free tax software that can help. You can find the forms online and complete your tax return without the added fees.

10. Save on Management fees with a roboadvisor.

If you take an active role in investing, a roboadvisor could save you a decent chunk of change in management fees. Many brokerages now offer automated roboadvisors to assist you with your investment strategy, sometimes free of charge.

Robo-advisors use complicated algorithms to determine which investments best suit your goals and portfolio. Some of these are fully automated while others utilized human guidance from investment managers. Either way, it provides a lower-cost option to help you save money on service fees.

What are some professional services that you can DIY when living on a budget? Share your thoughts below!

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Things Jobseekers Will Want to Know About HR

Things Jobseekers Will Want to Know About HR

If you are looking for new job opportunities, then you will want to learn everything you can about potential employers. But as you are reading up on the company’s history, you should also familiarize yourself with the current structure, including the Human Resources department. Here are 10 things that jobseekers will want to know about HR before their next interview.

What’s the Role of HR?

The Human Resources department has several different roles. However, most people don’t realize its full reach and participation within the company.

Your initial exposure to HR happens during the interview and hiring process, but they also handle other aspects of employee relations. The department is responsible for managing benefits, compensation, and career development. But, HR also monitors its employees’ behavior, assists with conflict mediation, assesses risks, and oversees legal issues involving the company.

Since it is responsible for sensitive, personal information, everyone in the HR department must use discretion and operate under a certain level of secrecy. HR can’t disclose information without having the proper authorizations. Otherwise, they may have to deal with some severe legal consequences.

What Should Jobseekers Know About HR?

For those who are currently in the job market, Human Resources will present the first opportunity to get your foot in the door. So, you should start by doing your research about the company. Understanding their HR policies is a great place to start. Here are 10 more things jobseekers will want to know about HR.

1. Human Resources is the best source of information for benefits and employee development.

Since they handle your benefits and provide opportunities for career development, HR is one of the best sources of information. It is a valuable resource for new employees who are learning their way around the company.

Additionally, they can tell you everything you need to know about the extent and eligibility requirements of your benefits. So if you have questions, HR is the place to find answers.

2. Not all information is confidential.

Many people assume that HR’s personnel files are strictly confidential. But, this isn’t true in every case. Under certain circumstances, such as when a crime has been committed or there is a harassment complaint, they must break anonymity.

The company is obligated to investigate claims and report them to the appropriate authorities. Although there are legal limits to what HR can share, employee information may be given on a need-to-know basis.

3. Human Resources may require your health information.

One thing all jobseekers should know about HR is what information you are required to share with them. In most states, you do not have to discuss your health information if you are calling in to use a sick day or PTO. As long as it doesn’t inhibit your ability to perform the essential functions of your job, you are not required to share any details of your medical history.

However, there are times when this information will be necessary to accommodate employees. For example, HR will need documentation if you are seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) so they can provide you with what you need. Or, if employees request leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they must have medical certification of their condition.

4. Confidence is great; a huge ego isn’t.

Having confidence in your skills will get you far in life and the interview process. When you speak with confidence, people tend to trust you more and want to be in business with you. However, an overinflated ego could kill your job prospects. If you really want the job, don’t assume you know everything and show a willingness to learn.

5. Your social media and online presence can impact your employment.

Nowadays, people document nearly every moment of their lives online. While social media connects us, it also blurs the lines between your personal and professional life.  Therefore, you have to be careful what thoughts, opinions, and pictures you share online.

A good rule to live by is if it’s on the internet, then assume that someone at work will see it. Even when things are set to private, there are no guarantees that your posts won’t be seen by the wrong person. And, you don’t want to sabotage a good opportunity by being careless, especially when you are searching for jobs. So, be mindful of your online presence.

6. Things you disclose to other employees can quickly get back to HR.

Becoming friends with your coworkers can greatly increase your overall job satisfaction. But, it can also create more gray areas in what you consider appropriate in the workplace.

So, practice the same caution with people as you do with social media. You must be careful who you trust and what you tell people. Once again, you never know who could overhear or what they will report back to HR. I’m not saying that you should discourage personal relationships with coworkers; just establish boundaries to protect yourself.

7. It’s wise to always conduct yourself in a thoughtful and professional manner.

In response to the previous point, the best policy is to always conduct yourself with respect and a high level of professionalism. This applies both in and outside the workplace. Even when you are off the clock, don’t assume that what you say and do is above reproach. Be mindful of your words and don’t put yourself in situations where your judgment could be compromised.

8. Human Resources can enact disciplinary plans.

There are several reasons for employee disciplinary plans. And, HR may get involved if there are behavioral issues or a need to improve your performance.

If the department is part of the discussion, they will monitor your activities and progress, share their insights with your supervisors, and contribute during the planning process. Don’t forget that you can discuss any questions or details at any point in the conversation as well.

9. They can discuss any details of your termination with potential employers.

On job applications, you will usually see a question about contacting previous employers. This could be smart if you left on good terms and they will speak highly of you. But if you were terminated, you should probably reconsider this.

Another thing jobseekers should know about HR is if they call, former employers can disclose information about their job performance and reason(s) for leaving. Should you have anything that could hurt your chances of employment, it’s probably best to leave it in the past.

10. They can give misleading information and incomplete responses.

As mentioned above, there are certain legal limitations to the information that Human Resources can share. Although “lying” may be a bit strong, HR often misleads people or omits information. They usually do this to protect the company from liability by keeping information secret until they make formal announcements about promotions, layoffs, mergers, new policies, interpersonal issues, etc.

It is important to remember this last point well. Because in almost every instance, the Human Resources department usually believes that it is better to err on the side of caution rather than tell too much and put the company at risk. While they can be a great resource, you should always act in a professional manner when dealing with HR.

What do you think people should know about HR? Share your thoughts below!

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5 Items That Are Much More Expensive to Repair Than Purchase

5 Items That Are Much More Expensive To Repair Than Purchase

Over time, most things that you own will require repairs or replacement. Sometimes it will be more cost-effective to handle the repairs yourself. But in other instances, the time and labor aren’t worth the effort. You may discover that it would actually be cheaper to buy something new. So if you are looking at a difficult DIY project and debating costs, you should know that these 5 items are often more expensive to repair than purchase.

5 Items That Are Much More Expensive to Repair Than Purchase

In the past, it seemed like there were local repair shops that could fix any household appliance at a reasonable cost. While there are still many experienced technicians and repair shops around, the scope and costs of their services have drastically changed since the late 90s.

Not only have parts become more expensive, but manufacturers have made it harder to find replacement parts for cheaper items. Other industry roadblocks, such as trademarking components and only allowing repairs through authorized dealers, have made it more expensive to fix damaged goods. Furthermore, the influx of cheap products from China has also changed consumers’ mentality and influenced the decision to replace things instead of repairing them. All of these factors have led us further down the path toward a disposable society.

But, the budget is an important factor. If you don’t have the skills to repair things yourself, it may leave you with few options. And as many people are finding out, these 5 items can be much more expensive to repair than purchase new.

1. Smartphones

With the increased dependence on the internet and technology, smartphones have become an essential part of our daily lives.  Today’s devices have incredible capabilities and provide an impressive leap in technology, but it also comes at a price.

Long gone are the days when the owner could switch out batteries and replace individual parts on their own. Nowadays, it requires special tools and knowledge to perform simple repairs. And since many of the high-tech components are encased in glass, it makes them extremely fragile and more prone to breaking.

However, the biggest issue is how quickly they devalue. After a few years, the operating systems become slow and the model obsolete. And when Apple limits you to authorized service dealers and doesn’t make parts available to the general public, it drives up the cost of repairs. While repairs make sense for new models, it would be a waste of money on outdated technology. Until more is done to make smartphones more durable and repairable, they will probably be cheaper to replace than fix.

2. Small Appliances

Small appliances like toasters, microwaves, food processors, and vacuum cleaners have made life much more convenient. They save you a significant amount of time by handling mundane chores. However, they can present a huge headache if you need to get them repaired.

Although the parts may be relatively cheap and the repairs simple, the service bill will probably be more than you originally paid for the item. And, the manufacturers don’t always make parts available since they earn more profit when you purchase a new one. Luckily, sites like iFixit.com are working to give consumers more options. It provides schematics for all types of appliances if you want to try to troubleshoot and repair the items yourself before ditching them for something new.

3. Large Appliances

Large appliances have seen many impressive advancements in construction and design over the last 50 years. Many are now fully digital, so they no longer rely on timers and switches. Other changes have made them more eco-friendly so they use water and electricity more efficiently. And, high-end appliances even offer internet-connected touchscreens and integration with your smart home apps.

However, these conveniences come with a trade-off in reliability and durability. Older models were easier to repair since it was simpler to replace mechanical parts than the more modern plastic or nylon pieces. Modern appliances also have expensive electronic parts on the circuit boards which are sensitive to moisture and shock. When they malfunction, it could cost you hundreds of dollars to replace these components.

When you invest in large appliances, you expect them to last for years to come. And, they often do. But, it’s a good idea to look at the warranties and extended service contracts before you buy. However, if you are already experiencing issues at the 5-6 year mark, it may be more worthwhile to purchase new appliances.

4. Cars

Due to the lack of infrastructure and public transport in several major cities, cars are a necessity for many American workers. Fortunately, modern cars offer more comfort and conveniences, but they also come with more costly repairs.

Like large appliances, many components are reliant on computers and electrical systems. Therefore, they have more opportunities for issues to occur. And since each vehicle comes with dealer-specific software, it may prevent those who are mechanically minded from fixing it themselves.

With the increasing inflation, supply chain issues, and lack of available cars, many car owners are finding that repairs on older vehicles may exceed the car’s value. If you are having problems with the engine or transmission, it can easily put you in this predicament. And, it will become even more expensive when the problems compound and several systems need maintenance. At this point, you have to decide if it is better to continue investing in repairs, trade it in, or scrap it altogether and buy a different vehicle.

5. Lawn Care Equipment

Having a large yard is one benefit that new homeowners look forward to. However, few understand the expense of buying and maintaining the equipment required for the job. While many city ordinances require regular upkeep, it can become a major expense.

For those who can’t afford to pay for these services, it will be up to you to do the work. And this means you’ll need to have the right tools for the job. While most gas-powered equipment will be fairly reliable, skimping out on quality may cost you more in the long run, especially when you are facing expensive repairs. Rather than paying to fix low-budget equipment, it will probably be more worthwhile to invest in better quality equipment that will withstand the test of time.

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7 Things to Consider as Newlyweds Purchasing a Home

Bride and groom are sitting inside the retro car

As a newlywed couple, purchasing a home is one of the biggest decisions you will make together. In the U.S. and other Western countries, over 90% of people get married before age 50, which means that many newlyweds will be in the market for a new home. However, the process of buying a home can be overwhelming, especially for first-time homebuyers. Here are some things to consider as you navigate the world of homeownership as a newlywed couple, from money to location to house size.

1. Location

The location of your home is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing a property. Think about your lifestyle and what you need in terms of proximity to work, schools, and amenities. Do you want to live in a bustling city or a quiet suburban area? Are you looking for a home with a big yard or something with a small patio? Consider what you are looking for in a neighborhood and what you are willing to compromise on.

2. Size

The size of the home is also an important consideration. As a newlywed couple, you may be starting a family soon and will want to make sure that you have enough space for your growing family. On the other hand, you may be more interested in a smaller, more manageable home that is easy to maintain. Consider how much space you need and how much you can afford.

3. Age and Condition

When purchasing a home, it’s also important to consider the age and condition of the property. An older home may have more character, but it may also come with more repairs and maintenance issues. A newer home may be in better condition but may also be more expensive. Consider what you are willing to deal with in terms of repairs and maintenance and choose a home that best fits your needs.

4. Roof

The roof is one of the most important parts of a home, and it’s important to consider the condition of the roof when purchasing a property.  90% of asphalt roofs are installed with fiberglass shingles, which have a lifespan of 20-30 years. If the home you are interested in has an older roof, you may need to budget for a new one soon. Be sure to have a professional inspect the roof before you close on the home.

5. Kitchen

The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home and is one of the most important rooms to consider when purchasing a property. Kitchen remodeling has increased by 23% in the last year, which means that many homeowners are investing in their kitchens. Consider the layout and condition of the kitchen and think about how you would like to use the space. If the kitchen needs a lot of work, you may need to budget for a remodel.

6. Potential for Future Expansions

As a newlywed couple, you may be starting a family soon and will want to make sure that you have enough space for your growing family. Consider the potential for future expansions when purchasing a home. Look for a home that has a lot of potential for expansion such as a large lot or a home that is built on a crawl space or a basement.

7. Finances

Finances are one of the most important things to consider when purchasing a home. Be sure to have a budget in place and make sure that you can afford the home that you are interested in. Be sure to factor in things like property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs. It’s also important to consider the long-term financial implications of purchasing a home, such as the potential for appreciation in value over time.

In conclusion, purchasing a home as a newlywed couple is a big decision that requires careful thinking. Be sure to weigh all your options before you finalize your purchase. Use these tips to help you pick the best home for you!

7 Signs That You Aren’t Saving Enough For Retirement

Signs That You Aren't Saving Enough for Retirement

Most people plan to retire in their early to mid-60s. However, that won’t be an option for everyone, especially if you think that your Social Security benefits will not be enough to support you. Financial planning must begin early in your adult life. Most advisors agree that you will need about 70-80% of your current income to sustain your lifestyle. So, are you on track to reach your goals and retire by 65? If you recognize any of these red flags, then your answer is probably a “no.” For those who see any of these 7 signs that you aren’t saving enough for retirement, then it’s time to make some changes.

7 Signs That You Aren’t Saving Enough for Retirement

1. You don’t live below your means.

The first rule of budgeting that every adult must learn is how to live below your means. Simple math will show you that it isn’t sustainable to consistently spend more than you earn. If you want to remain financially independent, you have to know how to make a budget, but also have enough discipline to stick to it.

If you frequently overspend, then you are undercutting your long-term goals and future stability. Retirement planning requires careful money management and regular contributions to your dedicated accounts. When you outspend your budget every month, it becomes incredibly challenging to save anything. In the worst-case scenario, you won’t have anything saved, which means you won’t be able to afford to retire. That’s why it is so important to learn this lesson early and ensure that you have enough to live well in retirement.

2. You continue to accrue debt.

Although this goes hand in hand with the first point, it is so detrimental that it deserves its own recognition as one of the worst signs that you aren’t saving enough for retirement.

At some point in our lives, nearly everyone will carry some amount of debt. But retirement planning also requires you to eliminate it before you are living on a fixed income. If you are already struggling to cover your expenses while you are earning a salary, imagine how much more difficult it will be when you have to rely on your benefits and retirement accounts.

Sadly, many people who continue to accrue debt after they retire quickly burn through their retirement savings. If you still have debt in your later years, retiring may not be an option for you.

3. You don’t have a retirement account.

This one should seem obvious, but you should have dedicated retirement accounts to help you with your financial planning. There are several different types of accounts that provide different contribution thresholds and tax benefits for you.

Most people have a combination of IRAs, 401(k)s, life insurance, and other investment vehicles in their portfolio. But your ultimate goals will dictate how much you should save and which ones are right for you. You will need to discuss it with your financial advisor to determine which type of accounts are best suited to your long-term goals.

4. You aren’t maxing out your contributions.

One piece of advice I got as a young investor was to max out the accounts with contribution limits. This is because they offer the greatest tax advantages and return on your investment. Therefore, maximizing your contributions is a good habit to get into.

While it may not be possible every year, hitting these thresholds will optimize your savings plan. And, it will help you get the most from your hard-earned money. For 2022, you can contribute a maximum of $6,000 to your Roth IRA and a total of $20,500 between your 401(k)s. This amount increases to $6,500 and $27,000 for those over 50 who are eligible for “catch-up” contributions. But, these limits will increase in 2023 to help compensate for the increased inflation rates to help you save even more.

5. You don’t take advantage of employer retirement benefits.

You will rarely find employers who offer pension plans as part of their retirement package anymore. Instead, they opt for 401(k)s and contribution matching plans. If your employer offers this and you aren’t taking advantage of it, then you are leaving free money on the table. Those who are lucky enough to have this option need to take advantage of it.

And the best part is that you don’t need a ton of money to get started. Even small, consistent contributions can grow into a large sum if your employer is matching a percentage. And with compounding interest, it can grow into a substantial sum over time.

6. You aren’t investing at all.

One of the most significant signs that you aren’t saving enough for retirement is that you are not investing. It can be a difficult decision to place retirement planning before your immediate financial needs. But, you have to start at some point. It is impossible to save enough of your salary to fund your retirement.

The longer you put it off, the harder it will be to reach your retirement savings goals. As previously mentioned, you don’t need a huge sum of money to get started. However, the sooner you begin investing, the better off you will be when you finally decide to retire.

7. You don’t evaluate or adjust your money management strategies.

Change is a natural part of life. As we grow, we change as people, and our financial situations change right along with us. So, it’s important to revisit your money management strategies after reaching important milestones or experiencing major life changes.

You have to adapt and adjust to your new circumstances. But, it can be overwhelming when faced with these monumental decisions. Remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Find a financial advisor you can trust to guide you through these important decisions and help you build a solid foundation for your future.

What do you think are the most significant warning signs that you aren’t saving enough for retirement? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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