Investing for the Long Term – Investment Strategy & Allocation By Age

stages of lifeFinancial planning is considered by many to be a critical operation that facilitates secure investment and financial goals for both the short and long term. Some even elevate financial planning skills to an art form with elegance and style.

But whatever label is applied to securing a financial goal, the planning process is constant and spans many decades. The goals of an investor will change with increasing age and family composition. For example, the age at which an investor starts provides significant clues to their financial potential as well as their ability to handle investment risk.

Click to continue reading...

Fannie Mae’s Know Your Options – Get Mortgage Help & Learn How to Avoid Foreclosure

This post brought to you by Fannie Mae. All opinions are 100% mine.

If the ongoing economic downturn has led to unemployment or a general decrease in your income, you’re probably struggling to meet your monthly home mortgage payment.

know your options fannie mae logo

Whether you’re first starting to experience difficulties or you’re already in default, the KnowYourOptions.com site has the information and advice you need. The site, which is affiliated with Fannie Mae, is a credible, comprehensive collection of information to help you through your situation.

Before you make any rash decisions, check out the site’s advice about home mortgage scams, next steps, and the best options that are open to you.

Click to continue reading...

4 Different Types of Taxes and How To Minimize Them

pay taxes piggy banksAlthough your personal income taxes are probably foremost in your mind right now, they’re not the only taxes you’re required to pay. In fact, Americans are on the hook for several different types of taxes over the course of the year.

Of course, most of us would prefer not to pay any taxes at all, but the truth is there are several benefits to paying different types of taxes, including opportunities to reduce your burden and spread out the impact taxes have on your financial picture. Here are four types of taxes many of us are subject to at some point, along with tips on how to minimize their impact.

Click to continue reading...

5 Best Free Travel Apps for Saving Money on the Road with Your Smartphone

travel apps smartphoneSometimes traveling seems like more stress than it’s worth. Whether you’re taking a trip for business or pleasure, keeping flights, hotel reservations, and general itinerary straight can be a hassle. How can you possibly juggle all of those things and find the best deals? The answer is easier than you think.

With thousands of travel apps to choose from, traveling with an Android or iPhone is like traveling with a personal assistant. The ability to keep a journal of your trip, post updates to Facebook and Twitter from the road, take panoramic photos, or even find a day spa in your area are all just a simple download away.

Click to continue reading...

Personal & Household Monthly Budget Categories – 9 Ways to Determine How Much to Put in

budget categories money bucketsDuring a recent get-together with some friends, the topic of how much we all budget for buying groceries came up in conversation. Since I had started dabbling in extreme couponing, I recently adjusted my grocery budget from $400 a month to $250 a month. My friends were surprised at my lofty goal and felt in a way that it was unreasonable, although not necessarily unattainable.

After having that conversation, I began thinking about my budget caps, not just for groceries, but for all of my expense categories and how I determined the dollar amounts that I was willing to spend for each.

Click to continue reading...

3 Ways to Find & Invest in a List of the Top Blue Chip Stocks With Dividends

blue chips stocks newspaperCompanies represented by blue chip stocks are typically of high quality with a long history of stable earnings. The publicly traded shares often represent well-known name brands run by high quality management teams that often pay dividends to their shareholders.

Some long-term investors view these companies as being of lower risk when compared to newer fad stocks that have yet to prove themselves fiscally.

The bottom line is that blue chips stocks are typically a good investment. But how do you choose the best ones to invest in? Here are 3 steps you can use as a guide.

Click to continue reading...

The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit – Federal Tax Deductions for Child Care Expenses

childcare expenses paintingFinding the right person or company to care for your child or disabled spouse is difficult, and paying for it can become very expensive.

Fortunately, you can get a break on these expenses by claiming the child and dependent care tax credit.

Depending on your income and how many of your dependents need care, you can get up to a $2,100 credit. Below is more information regarding the credit, including who qualifies as someone who needs care, what kind of expenses count, and who can claim the tax break.

Click to continue reading...

12 Steps for How to Make a Budget – Personal Budgeting Tips for First Timers

budgeting calculator pen paperCreating your first budget can be extremely overwhelming. So overwhelming, in fact, that only 40% of American families have a working monthly budget. But it’s worth the effort. Developing a budget that you can maintain over the long term  has been definitively linked to building wealth, while simultaneously helping you get out of debt and cut expenses.

When I built my first budget several years ago, I knew approximately how much money I was making annually, but I had never broken down my expenses by category to figure out what I could afford on a recurring basis, or how much money I could regularly invest.

Click to continue reading...

6 Ways to Prepare for Rising Gas Prices – $5 Per Gallon Gas Coming Soon?

gas pump car moneyIf you missed the NPR feature with former Shell Oil president Jon Hofmeister, then you might not have heard his prediction that we could be facing $5 per gallon gas here in the U.S. The story was also featured on major news outlets like Fox News, CNN and NBC News.

I know, it’s enough to make your eyes glaze over. All of us can still remember how tough it was in 2008, when a gallon of gas hit $4 (at least, it did here in Michigan).

So what’s going to happen if the experts are right, and we really do see $5 per gallon gas?

Click to continue reading...

5 Computer Hardware Upgrades to Improve Speed, Memory & Performance

computer dual monitorsWhen I first began my career in IT in the mid ’90s, we generally expected new computers to be obsolete within a few years. Thanks to improving technology however, we can now get a few more years out of computers before they break down or can’t keep up. That’s good news for your budget.

Even better, rather than investing in a completely new machine every time you want to make an improvement, you can snap up some new innovative tech products that will act as sensible and affordable upgrades on their own.

Click to continue reading...