Spending Plans and Budgeting
Mint.com lets you see all your balances and transactions together, on the web or your phone. Mint automatically pulls all your financial information into one place, so you can finally get the entire picture.
Mint automatically updates your information every night and categorizes everything for you. Mint has more than 4 million users who know their information is always secure. That’s because Mint uses 128-bit SSL encryption–the same security that banks use–and all data is protected and validated by VeriSign and TRUSTe. Manage your personal finances in real-time and on-the-go with free mobile apps for iPhone and Android. Check your accounts, track budgets, and edit info right in the apps. The fees that banks pay Mint for introducing new customers allow them to keep the service free for users.
Not a fan of budgeting technology?
Experience the tried and true method of the Envelope Cash System. Click here to learn all about it.
Escaping the Debt Trap
Car Loan Debt
Behind mortgages, auto loans are the second-largest loan people typically have. According to auto industry averages, more than 70 percent of cars purchased today, are purchased with auto loans. Most dealers will often encourage car buyers to finance their vehicle purchase due to the additional revenue the dealership receives from the finance companies. Sometimes car loans can be just as, if not MORE dangerous than credit card debt simply because most people will never get out from under it. When the car is paid off, the owner gets entranced by the new model, trades in the paid-for car, and buys a newer one on credit.
Unlike property that can appreciate in value, cars depreciate the moment you drive off the lot. Meaning, it is worth less than you paid before you even get to the first intersection!
Credit Card Debt
The average household with a balance on their credit card owes a staggering $10,000 in credit card debt. Here are a few tips to help you pay off those balances:
Snowball method: When you have multiple balances, pay the minimums on all, but pay extra to the smallest balance. Once it is completely paid, take the payment amount you were applying to the first balance, and put it toward the second lowest balance. Once the second card is paid, apply both the first and second amount to the third. This method will help you to pay down those balances in no time!
Another way to help with the high-interest payments credit card companies charge is to call and ask them to lower it. You may have to call them several times and speak to many supervisors, but the vast majority of the time, they will lower your rate.
Debt consolidation can be a great choice for someone who has multiple debt payments to high-interest creditors. Typically, debt consolidation loans offer lower interest rates, lower monthly payments, and combines your debts into one single payment. If you have multiple high-interest credit card balances, student loans, or auto payments you could qualify for a loan to consolidate your debts. Depending on your credit, you may be able to take a loan from a bank or credit union without having to have collateral, such as a paid-off car or equity in your home. One way you can try and consolidate credit card payments could be to transfer your balances to a card with a lower interest rate.
If you find yourself needing a loan to consolidate your debts, be sure and remember what got you there in the first place. If high-interest credit cards are your problem, you may need to consider taking the necessary actions to change your attitude toward debt BEFORE taking out a consolidation loan. Unfortunately, surveys have confirmed nearly two-thirds of those who borrow money to consolidate credit card debt rack up more credit card debt than before in just the following two years.
Sound Mind Investing was created to help individuals understand and apply Biblically-based principles in their spending and investing decisions. SMI has innovative tools like:
-The 401(k) Tracker
-The Vanguard Income Portfolio Tool
-The Message Boards and
-The Editor’s Weblog
-Download “timeless” investment articles from SMI.
-Click here for current, relevant articles on investing from SMI.
FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation of the securities industry. They are an independent, not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to protect America’s investors by making sure the securities industry operates fairly and honestly.
The Bloomberg App offers news, stock quotes, company descriptions, market leaders/laggers, price charts, market trends analysis, and more. You are also able to create a customized list of stocks that you want to follow from markets around the world.
QUESTIONS TO ASK POTENTIAL FINANCIAL ADVISOR
A profound need in the body of Christ today is the ability to find a financial professional who shares a biblical
perspective on stewardship. Here is a list of questions you can ask different types of advisors to ensure they are operating out of a biblical worldview.
Download the Questions to Ask Financial Advisors Worksheet.
Financial Services Search
Want to know what credit card is best for you? What savings account has the best interest rate? Where can i get a loan for my particular situation? Bankrate.com, is a great tool to help you find the best Credit card, mortgage rates, bank fees, and more than 300 other products, all for free!
Everyone should get a copy of their credit report once a year. Review it to make sure there are no mistakes or that you haven’t been the victim of identity theft. You can order a free copy of your credit report once every twelve months. To order, log on to AnnualCreditReport.com.
The free copy of your credit report does not contain your credit score. Any of the three main credit agencies will sell you your score.
Saving for Retirement
Life expectancy is growing and fewer companies provide pensions. And Social Security? Well, don’t bet the farm on it, because the entire system is projected to run out of money. The bottom line: don’t rely solely on an employer or the government; you need to invest for your retirement.
When investing for retirement, here’s a simple rule of thumb: First, take advantage of all employer matches. Second, invest in a Roth IRA. If your employer offers to match your contribution, do it! It’s free money. For example, if your employer will match up to three percent of your salary in a 401k, put three percent in. It’s that simple.
If you don’t have a match, or once you have contributed the maximum that will be matched, fund a Roth IRA. I am a huge fan of the Roth. Although your Roth contributions are not tax-deductible, they grow tax-free, and after age fifty-nine-and-a-half, all withdrawals are tax-free! The downside of a traditional IRA is that all withdrawals are fully taxable. I believe the government’s deficit will lead to much higher income taxes in the future, so using a Roth will be a huge advantage.
You and your spouse can each invest $5,500 to $6,500 every year in a Roth IRA. Since there are limitations based on age and income level, check with your tax preparer to determine what you can contribute.