Monday, March 28, 2016

Financial Gurus - Help or Hurt


There are thousands are financial experts, advisors, coaches, planners but how do you know which one is right or which you should listen to. You shouldn’t give advice on any issue if you have experienced the issue yourself, i.e. unemployment, divorce, single parent, reduced benefits, death of a spouse, illness, foreclosure, bankruptcy, etc.  Just because someone has a degree, license or certification does not make him or her an expert. 

Just because someone has sold millions of book, has their own TV show or radio show or has appeared on national TV does not make them an expert. However, there are experts who have these credentials.  Webster’s dictionary defines an expert as: 

  • a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority
  • possessing special skill or knowledge; trained by practice; skillful or skilled (often followed by in or at): an expert driver; to be expert at driving a car.
  • pertaining to, coming from, or characteristic of an expert: expert work; expert advice.

Personal finance gurus’ advice does not apply to everyone. Just like you when have to find the right mechanic who is knowledgeable about your car make and model, you have to right the right personal finance guru that works for you. As with any advice, you have to do your own research and know what works for you. Just because advice worked for someone else does not mean it will work for you. Find out where these gurus put their money and who their financial advisors are.  Experts should follow their own advice.  If not, you probably should not be listening to them.  

Gurus should explain how they recovered from their financial mishaps. Also, beware if a guru is constantly advertising their products because they are more focused on making money than helping people. A guru should be humble and wise enough to state they cannot help everyone and there are some things that they cannot help you with or do not have a solution for. 

Gurus’ advice should be consistent and current. They should state that their advice does not work for all situations and does not work for everyone.

Advice can be hurtful if it does not work for you or makes your situation worse. Advice can be helpful if it does work for you. It may not mean the guru’s advice is bad or good, it means their advice is not right for you. However, if none of the advice from a guru works for you, you might want to reconsider following their advice.  Gurus tend to give advice for the masses, which rarely works, well for individuals. Like the saying goes, “one size does not fit all”.  

I think all some gurus have advice that is helpful but you must be savvy enough to take bits and pieces of advice from each one instead of following advice from one guru religiously. 

Gurus should be able to get you motivated and inspire you to do better. Follow advice from a guru that focuses on your particular problem: you need to pay down debt, save money, plan for retirement, pay for college, buy a home, on the verge of bankruptcy or foreclosure, need to increase your credit score, etc. 

Use common sense first before making a financial decision or spending your money. Ask friends or relatives who are good with spending money what they did to get out of debt or their situation or improve their spending habits.  The best advice for everyday Americans is a book written by an everyday American or someone who previously lived as an everyday American. If all else fails go with you gut.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

10 Sexy Financial Tips

... Me to Save Money | Saving is Sexy – Saving and Budgeting Tips 
Do you think you are sexy? Being sexy can be summarized in three main areas: attitude, confidence and image. Attitude relates to your views on life, usually an optimistic person who can take criticism well and always remains positive. Confidence is how you feel about yourself no matter what someone else says about you or does to you. Image is the physical appearance of a person, their smile, their teeth, their hair, their walk, their laugh, their face, their body, how they dress and how they smell.

According to a study by ING 61% of the men that participated in the survey feel that women who are frugal are smart and sexy. Saving is smart. Investing is smarter. Good credit is smart and sexy. Saving the environment is sexy. Saving is sexy. Cash is king and having a savings account makes you more attractive and appealing. When you are in debt and have bad credit it is hard to focus on anything else and if you do, you can’t give it your all because of your financial problems especially when it comes to relationships. It is never too late to get on track with your finances. Here are 10 financial tips for sexy consumers.

  1. Being debt free is fantastic. Save money on interest by paying more than the minimum monthly credit card or loan payment which helps pay your balance down faster so you can get out of debt. Keep debt balances at than 10% of your monthly income.
  2. Pay down debt as fast as twista rhymes. Pay ½ the balance with the 1st paycheck then pay the remaining balance with the 2nd paycheck or pay the minimum monthly payment when you get the bill, then each week pay as much as you can toward the balance.
  3. Cut back. See what areas you can reduce spending by creating a balanced budget to stay out of debt. Thirty-five percent should go towards housing, 15% towards debt, 25% towards transportation, 10% towards savings, and 15% towards other expenses.
  4. Stay cozy and keep money in your pocket. Do an annual check on your heating system. Insulate your attic. Automate thermostat settings and use the lowest setting. Seal drafts and cover floors to retain heat. Open blinds during the day to let heat in.
  5. Plan for the unexpected. Create an emergency savings fund to cover all of your monthly bills and expenses for 9-12 months. Create a backup plan if some financial crisis occurs and you need extra money. Have a plan A, B, C and D.
  6. Shop live the rich. Set a budget and find bargains online, use coupons or shop at holiday sales. Mix and match basic pieces with fashionable accessories such as belts, earrings, bracelets, shoes and purses. Buy knockoff pieces for extra style. Shop at discount stores and outlets for name brand pieces for less.
  7. Act like a celebrity and go green. Help save the environment by filing your taxes electronically and get your refund in 2 weeks from the date of filing. Use tax preparation software like Turbo Tax or Tax Cut to help with the tax filing process.
  8. Social media can be your enemy. Many debt collectors and some state taxing authorities are searching for consumers on social media networks who owe debt. If you owe debt, hide your profile from public access or just be responsible and pay your debt.
  9. Plan for the future. Open a retirement account and save at least 10% towards your retirement each month. You will need 60-80% of your pre-retirement salary for a minimum of 20 years to have enough money during retirement or at least $1,000,000.
  10. Don’t be a question mark. Know your net worth (assets - liabilities). Verify your net worth annually. Know how much you earn, how much you owe and how many assets you have. Use the figure as a baseline to increase your net worth on a yearly basis.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

16 Dynamic Ways to Save Money During Prom Season

CanVirRies: Go Vintage This Prom Season - By Dresswe  
Prom season is finally here which means the end of the school year is right around the corner. Parents pay for prom expenses for some students. Some students may get some money from parents, family members or save money to pay for prom expenses. Some families however are not so fortunate and struggle to find ways to pay for the prom. Whatever the case may be do not spend more money than you have to especially when you are spending someone else’s money.

Attending a school prom is a great time to hang out with friends and display your sense of style. At your prom, you can show how creative or boring you can be when it comes to fashion. Clothes for the prom can range from $100 - $1,000, not including the costs for accessories, shoes, transportation, dining, pictures, jewelry, hair, makeup and other costs. The prom is a big deal for high school seniors and everything has to be just right for the big night especially the outfit. However, that can also come with a huge price tag.

Remember there are still other expenses you have to pay for prior to graduation if you are a high school senior. You should not go into debt to attend any event. You can find items for a cheaper price that are still of a good quality. Remember to have fun and do not let anyone ruin your prom experience. Here are 16 ways to be promtastic.

  1. Budget. Create a shopping list and dollar amount and stick to it.
  2. Technology. Use an app on your smartphone to help you budget money for your prom such as Plan'it Prom, Promgirl or Tux.
  3. Cost. Do not spend more than $200 - $300 on a dress or suit. Consider renting a dress or borrowing a dress from someone who wears the same size. Consider renting a suit or tuxedo or going to a consignment shop or thrift store to save money. If you cannot afford to buy a dress use to find a dress.
  4. Be Different. Look for unique colors and styles. Shop online on websites like Craigslist, eBay, or online consignment shops for unique pieces. Buy your own fabric and designs and get your dress or suit tailor made.
  5. Jewelry. Skip the diamonds. Buy jewelry from accessory stores, outlet stores or online websites such as Ask parents, friends or relatives if you can borrow their accessories or jewelry for prom night. If you have a nice watch wear that instead of buying a new one. Look for discounted styles to save money. Cuff links are not necessary. Save some money and buy a nice dress shirt, tie, belt and socks to match.
  6. Flowers. Go to a small floral shop or the grocery store to save money.
  7. Appearance. Consider doing your manicure and pedicure yourself. Go to the hairdresser the day of or the night before your prom to ensure you style lasts and ask about prom specials. See if you can get a friend to go with you to get their hair styled to encourage a discount from the hairstylist. Spa services and hairstyles require a tip.
  8. Shoes. See what is already in your closet or buy dyeable shoes and add designs to your shoes to save money. Borrow a pair of shoes from a friend or relative. If you must purchase a pair of shoes, buy a pair from an outlet store and make sure your shoes are comfortable especially if you plan on dancing.
  9. Online shopping. It is difficult to see the quality of an item when shopping online. Consider shopping online at stores that have physical locations. Go to the store and try on the dress, once you find one you like buy it online. Some stores offer online specials and free shipping, for certain dollars amounts but you will have to pay shipping costs and may have to pay sales tax. Read the return policy before making a purchase.
  10. Makeup. Wear long-lasting makeup or waterproof makeup so your face stays beautiful through the night. Consider buying your makeup from the drug store to save money. You can also go to a makeup counter at the mall and get a free makeup consultation.
  11. Transportation. Skip the limo unless you can find a great deal or get another couple to split the cost. Try renting a car or town car or using Uber.
  12. Food. Eat dinner at home or at an inexpensive restaurant at least two hours prior to going to the prom to give your food enough time to digest so you will not look bloated in your clothes. Get coupons from Groupon or Living Social for a restaurant to save money.
  13. Optics. Ask parents to take pictures with a digital camera; they look just as good as professional photos. Purchase no more than two pictures at the prom or bring your own camera to save money.
  14. Time. Do not wait until the last minute. You will spend more money than necessary and this will cause you extra stress by trying to do everything at once.
  15. Money. Take cash with you to ensure you do not go overboard on spending. Taking a debit card or credit card may cause you to spend more money.
  16. Tickets. Ask about discounted tickets or group rates. Ask a sponsor, teacher or counselor if you can barter services and work for them to pay the cost of your prom ticket. Buying tickets at the last minute can cost more.