money

9 Personal Finance Moves To Give You a Boost Now

9 Personal Finance Moves To Give You a Boost Now

Making a dent in your personal finances doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are nine money moves you can make right now to make a dent.

How Your Purchases Can Affect Your Future - New Podcast

podcast Are you intimidated by your 401(k)?  Have you ever wondered about how that impulse buy might be affecting your budget or financial future?  Our latest podcast episode of The Script-Notes Show highlights just that.  Make sure to listen and subscribe in your favorite podcast app so you don't miss out!

 

Money Tip Monday: Get a Safe Deposit Box

safe deposit box A safe deposit box may seem big and bulky, and can take up a lot of space.  However, in today's day and age of ever changing weather events, and life changing moments, you never know when you might need one.

Safe Deposit Box: An Ounce of Prevention

The last thing you want to have to worry about should disaster strike is finding your important documents and files.  A safe deposit box can help with this, and would highly advise all readers to look into obtaining one in some shape or fashion.

From Jonathan Pond's 'Ponderings Newsletter:

A good record-keeping system is one that is (a) complete enough to be effective and (b) simple enough that you will use it regularly. The computer can be a big help in your record-keeping but it is not essential. Even genuine computer enthusiasts will still have to maintain some paper records. Every good record-keeping “system” has three main components:

  1. A safe deposit box that should contain important personal papers that are either impossible or very difficult to replace if lost or destroyed. Be sure to keep a summary of the contents of your safe deposit box in order to avoid a wasted trip to the bank looking for something that isn’t there. A home safe is an alternative that you may want to consider. Just make sure that the safe is both secure (for example, bolted to the floor) and fire resistant.

  2. An active file kept at home that keeps track of personal papers and important information necessary to help in preparing your current year’s tax returns. Because the active file needs to be easily accessible, it should be located in a convenient and pleasant location. It doesn’t need to be fancy; a few manila file folders should suffice.

  3. An inactive file kept at home or in storage primarily for the purpose of proving past tax returns. A few other items should also be kept in your inactive file, including invoices and canceled checks pertaining to any home improvements and investment statements necessary to substantiate capital gains and losses. If you’re brokerage or mutual fund firm maintains all of the required capital gain information, you probably don’t need to keep past investment statements. You may also want to keep in the inactive file important papers that are not currently needed, such as family health records and proof that major debts and other contracts have been discharged.

As you go about organizing or improving your personal records, take the opportunity to get rid of unnecessary papers. You don’t need to hoard personal papers in order to fill up your presidential library. You don’t need to keep receipts and bills and bank statements for years on end. You might even want to regularly repeat the mantra: “when in doubt, throw it out.”

How to Invest in an IRA With Little Money

Betterment While many may already be investing in 401(k)'s through work, others may not have that option and still want to get investing in an IRA, be it Traditional or Roth.  Certainly if you are not investing at all, then now is as good a time as any to start.  You may be asking, but don't I need thousands of dollars to start investing?  Not at all.  Betterment makes it extremely easy to be able to both start and accelerate investing.  Read on for more.

Betterment can offer better returns

According to their Overview, the Betterment portfolio is designed to achieve optimal returns at every level of risk.  Utilizing features like diversification, automated rebalancing, better behavior and lower fees, their approach to investing can help investors generate 2.9% higher returns than the usual go it alone investor.

One of my favorite features is that they also offer Tax Loss Harvesting.  This can find systematically embedded capital losses that can help lower your investment taxes and increase after-tax returns.  Granted if you're looking for an IRA investment opportunity, this might not mean as much anyway due to your individual tax situation, but if you are looking for a separate investment account with them, then this feature could potentially help.

The company mentions that most people do not receive good and trustworthy investment advice.  Generally many financial advisors are paid to recommend certain investments so they recommend them - EVEN if it's not in the best interest of their client - resulting in a huge conflict of interest.  Betterment also is not paid to recommend any funds - resulting in no hidden fees.  They only choose recommendations that they feel are best for each individual and their respective goals.

History is on their side when it comes to results

Generally the company doesn't try to best the stock market, but with the goal of lowering costs and minimizing taxes, they strive to optimize your portfolio for the best-expected investor returns possible.  Looking at their page, they more often than not would have outperformed the average client investor in almost all periods over the last decade.

How Much Will This Cost Me?

Ah the million dollar question.  If you're looking to get started with your IRA investment, Betterment let's you get started with NO MINIMUM BALANCE, and you can cancel at any time!  The annual fee is only 0.25%.  You get automated portfolio management, tax-efficient investing features, advice across your investments and their award-winning customer support.  There are also no trade fees for buying and selling securities, no transfer fees for depositing or withdrawing from your account, and no rebalancing fees for when you want to change things up in your stocks/bonds allocation.

That said, we have had success with Betterment, and feel it is a great way for individuals and families to get started with their IRA retirement saving.  While one can never predict the stock market, surely it would have to beat today's interest savings rates with the proper allocations selected.

So what are you waiting for?  Get to saving and investing today - you can't afford NOT to.

Save Time, Money, and Patience at the Grocery Store

A picture of a line at the grocery store.

Ah, the grocery store.  The venue that can add costs to a family or individual's budget, in addition to costing us our mental health at times too depending on what time of the day you visit.  However, we all have to eat at some point, and there are a few ways to deal with the anxiety of heading out to local supermarket and making it less stressful on both you and your finances.

The good folks over at the EveryDollar blog have some good tips on how to solve this:

Problem 1 - We shop at the same time as everyone else.

Raise your hand if you generally do most of your grocery shopping on Saturdays and Sundays.  How about if you generally do it between 11 am and 1 pm?  If you do, don't feel bad, because according to the American Time Use Survey, apparently so does everybody else.

Simple Problem Solver - Shop during non peak hours!  If you can, try shopping during a non peak day like a Monday or a Tuesday.  Even better, if you can slide in before 4 pm, you have even better chances of avoiding the after work crowds.  This might not be the case everywhere though, as I know we frequently have still seen decent sized crowds during the daytime hours as well.

Problem 2 - We go more than once a week.

How many times have you gone to the grocery store, thought you grabbed everything only to realize, annnnnd I forgot something else?  I know we've been guilty of that on occasion as well.  It can get expensive rather quickly in both your grocery budget, and gas mileage as well!

Simple Problem Solver - While this might seem like a no brainer, it really can help to have a meal plan ahead of time, be it for breakfast, lunches or dinners.  A favorite app of our family's is the Paprika Recipe Manager.  It let's you add your own recipes, go to the in app web browser to your favorite recipe sites and parse recipe information from there, and then can automatically build shopping lists for you based on those recipes!  A definite time saver!

Problem 3 - Worst of all, we waste a TON of food.

According to Consumer Reports, we throw out about $1500 worth of groceries a year.  Not good.  While you might have intended to consume that produce in your fridge that is starting to grow additional produce, then you go out to eat a few nights, forget that brown bag lunch a few days, and next thing you know that triple coupon on $20 worth of produce didn't seem like that great of a deal after all.

Simple Problem Solver - Plan that budget of yours to your calendar, along with your new meal plan.  If you know you're going to be going out with some friends on Tuesday or to that tasty Fish Fry Friday, shift your grocery budget dollars over to your dining out budget.

Again, these might seem like no brainers, but in the long run, can really save you time, money, and patience on that next trip out.  Food delivery services like HelloFresh realize the growing trend of customers wanting healthy foods without the grocery store experience, but sometimes you need more than that as well, or perhaps want to make your own meals and ingredients with delivery as Meijer will start to roll out later this month as well in select markets.

Regardless, when in doubt, plan it out!