Saturday, July 30, 2016

12 Simple Ways to Stretch Your Paycheck

 Stretch your paycheck with these five ideas!

Some Americans have moved down an income level from upper-middle class to middle class, middle class to lower income or lower income to poverty due to fluctuations in the economy and job market.  Many Americans are forced to live on less money while other Americans are finding it difficult to live on less for several reasons:  1) they don’t know how, 2) they don’t want to, 3) they are in denial or 4)employers have reduced salaries, stagnated wages or reduced benefits. Here are some helpful tips to help stretch your paycheck in a tough economy.

  1. Budget. Create a spending plan or budget to see what areas you can reduce spending.  Thirty-five percent of your budget after taxes should go towards housing (mortgage/rent, utilizes, repairs), fifteen percent towards debt (credit cards, student loans, personal loans), twenty-five percent towards transportation (maintenance and car payment),  ten-percent towards savings, and fifteen-percent towards other expenses (groceries, prescriptions, medical expenses, etc.). 
  2. Bulk. Buy items in bulk by shopping at wholesale or discount stores such as Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s.
  3. Comparison Shop. Look at prices of at least three different companies to see which has the best deal.  Ask if the company will honor competitor prices.
  4. Online. Look for coupons and specials at online websites such as or 
  5. Generic. Buy generic brands for food, canned goods, paper products, dry goods and prescriptions.
  6. Utilities. Buy the cheapest landline plan available. Turn to the lowest settings when you are not at home and use the recommended settings provided by the utility companies to save money on your monthly bills.
  7. Bundle. Bundle services to save money on insurances such as car, mortgage and homeowners.
  8. Downgrade. Downgrade all your services such as cable, internet, and cell phone.  Downgrade your car or home to a cheaper model.  You can sell your car and catch public transportation.  If you need a car you can rent a car or use a Zip car.
  9. Eat at home. Skip buying lunch every day and eating out.  Cook meals at home and take leftovers for lunch.
  10. Get assistance. Borrow money from friends or family members. Apply for government assistance, get help from your local church or get assistance from social organizations like the Salvation Army or American Red Cross.
  11. Sell Items. Sell new or used items on eBay or Craigslist for extra cash.
  12. Multiple Jobs. Work multiple part-time or full-time jobs; work a combination of full-time or part-time jobs to make ends meet. Do odd jobs such as cleaning homes, shopping for the elderly or babysitting to earn extra money.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

16 Quick Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

... . Identity Theft Protection could be the answer to your concerns 
Identity thieves are always thinking of new ways to steal someone's personal information.  Some people become victims of identity theft even though their credit card an/or debit card is still in their possession.  There are websites that allow thieves to buy hundreds of stolen credit card numbers at a time. Identity theft is a growing crime and is not going away. Many companies and people unintentionally or carelessly expose personal information. There are many things you can do to protect your identity.  Here are 16 tips to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft:

  1. Buy a sleeve: Purchase a credit card sleeve that blocks RFID transmission (skimming) so there is a lesser chance of having your credit card read while walking down the street.  Beware of people who stand close to you or who lean against you on the side where your wallet or purse is held.
  2. Aluminum foil: Wrap your credit cards and debit cards in aluminum foil blocks RFID transmissions and it is less expensive than buying a credit card sleeve.
  3. Safety: Don’t reveal your credit card in public which increases the risk for skimming. Take the credit card out of the credit card sleeve or remove the foil when making transactions. You can also put your credit card in your front pocket or sock instead of your wallet. Women can put money and credit cards in your bra or sock. Wrap the credit card in aluminum foil and put in a zip lock bag to prevent moisture from deactivating the magnetic strip. Beware of camera phones.
  4. Don’t trust caller id. Computers can scramble telephones numbers to make them look legitimate.  Skip giving out personal information over the phone unless it is someone you do business with.  Ask for their direct number and call back to give your information to ensure it is a real company.
  5. Virus Protection. Install virus protection on your computer and smartphone that you pay for.  Some popular ones for pc’s are Symantec, Norton Utilities and McAfee.  Popular ones for smartphones are Symantec, Kaspersky and F-secure.  Also use email protection to minimize spoof emails such as Spam Assassin, Barracuda or Mailwasher.
  6. Cash. Pay for items with cash and use credit cards for emergencies only.
  7. Debt. Pay down debt and keep the balance at 20% or less of the credit limit.  If you notice an unauthorized charge it is easier to detect if you have a few charges on your card. Keep track of your credit card balances at least weekly. Pay balances in full each month.
  8. GPS.  Reduce using GPS on your cell phone. If satellite can track your location so can thieves.
  9. Online.  Only shop at well-known website such as Amazon, eBay or  Don’t purchase items from third party sellers.   Shop online at secure websites that use https or shttp.
  10. Smartphones. Don’t store personal information on your cell phone or make transactions because you don’t know if you information is secure.
  11. Downloading.  Avoid downloading from your smartphone and your computer.  Download only from trusted websites. Avoid using free software or shareware. 
  12. Wallet.  Skip carrying your SSN or birth certificate in your wallet. Carry only the credit card you know you will use on a specific day.
  13. Mail. Leave mail and other personal papers at home and store in a safe place. Check your mailbox regularly, hold mail during vacations.
  14. Trash. Shred personal information and mix in with other trash.
  15. Bank. Don’t use an ATM in a secluded area. Create PINs that cannot easily be guessed. Verify all monthly statements with your receipts.
  16. Credit. Order your credit report at least once a year and verify all information is correct.

Friday, July 22, 2016

9 Easy Ways to Get Your Finances on Track

NS-PF 102 Get On Track 

Most people spend time on the weekends on during the week cleaning their house, putting things in order, throwing away things, updating, organizing, replacing and moving things around. Other people do more extensive cleaning of their house when spring arrives. Some people clean their house and donate unused items to charity. Whatever the case – everyone cleans their house or place where their live but do you clean your finances?

Many people don’t know how much money they earn, how much they spend or how much debt they owe. Organization is the key to getting your finances in order and cleaning your financial house.   Approximately seventy percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. In some instances people live paycheck to paycheck because they don’t know where their money is going.  Here are 9 ways to help you get your finances on track.

  1. Fix Credit.  Get a copy of your credit report at least once a year.  Get current on all late bills and dispute any errors.
  2. Create a budget. Create a budget or spending plan to determine how much you earn and how much you are spending.   Include savings in your budget.  Ensure that everyone in your family follows the budget. Track your spending daily, weekly or monthly.
  3. Pay bills.  Pay bills on time or before the due date to maintain good credit or increase your credit score.  Pay bills online or through automatic deduction to save money.
  4. Reduce expenses. Reduce your expenses by determining areas where you can reduce spending by buying more needs vs. wants such as bringing your lunch to work, shopping at discount stores or buying generic brands.
  5. Pay down debt.  Pay down debt and keep credit card balances at 20% or less of the limit which also helps increase your credit score.  Don’t open any new accounts or incur any additional debt.
  6. Establish an emergency fund. Create an emergency fund to cover bills and monthly expenses for 9-12 months to prevent using a credit card for unexpected expenses.
  7. Plan for retirement. Plan for retirement and contribute 10-20% towards a retirement fund each month.  Contribute to a retirement account through your employer or make automatic contributions to an IRA if you are self-employed or if your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan.
  8. Assess needs.  Determine your needs for insurance such as life, health, disability and long-term care.  Make adjustments as needed on a yearly basis or when a life event change occurs such as death, long-term illness or childbirth. Bundle services with the same company to save money.
  9. Organize. Organize all bills, financial statements, debt, and loans in separate folders.  Create a bill calendar to identify when each bill is due or create a list of keep track of bills.  Get a file cabinet, cash box or accordion folder to store receipts.   Tally receipts daily, weekly or monthly and track in your budget.