Tag: personal finance

The Role of Technology in Personal Finance Management

The Role of Technology in Personal Finance Management

The advent of technology has significantly transformed how individuals manage their personal finances. Digital tools and platforms have made managing your money easier, more efficient, and more personalized than ever before.

Budgeting and Expense Tracking

Technology has revolutionized budgeting and expense tracking, enabling individuals to monitor their spending patterns easily. Apps and software can track financial habits in real time, helping users identify areas where they can save or cut back. This instantaneous feedback loop encourages more disciplined financial behavior.

Investment and Wealth Management

The democratization of investment has been significantly propelled by technology. Robo-advisors and online trading platforms offer personalized investment advice and low-cost, automated portfolio management services. These tools have made investing more accessible to the general public, not just the affluent.

Enhanced Security Measures

Technology also enhances the security of personal financial information. Advanced encryption, biometric authentication, and real-time fraud monitoring systems protect users from identity theft and unauthorized access, ensuring their financial data remains secure.

Personalized Financial Advice

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms offer customized financial advice based on an individual’s spending habits, goals, and risk tolerance. This personalized approach helps users make more informed decisions, aligning their financial strategies with their long-term objectives.

Debt Management and Credit Building

Technology aids in debt management and credit building through tools that track outstanding balances, recommend payment strategies, and simulate the impact of certain actions on credit scores. These innovations empower individuals to take control of their debt and improve their financial health.

 

Technology has fundamentally changed the landscape of personal finance management. It provides tools that make managing money more straightforward, accessible, and secure. As technology evolves, it will bring new innovations that simplify personal finance, making it achievable globally.

How to Build an Emergency Fund on a Tight Budget

How to Build an Emergency Fund on a Tight Budget

An emergency fund is like a financial parachute that can help soften the blow of unexpected expenses or even financial catastrophes. It serves as a safety net for any unforeseen situation and is crucial for achieving monetary stability and peace of mind. Even small setbacks can become significant obstacles without an emergency fund, especially for those with limited budgets. Therefore, having an emergency fund is essential and a wise and responsible financial decision.

Starting Small but Steady

Building an emergency fund when you have a strict budget may seem challenging, but it can be done by starting small. Start by putting a small, doable amount of money from each paycheck on the side, even if it’s just $5 or $10. The key is consistency, not quantity.

Budgeting for Savings

Budgeting is crucial for finding areas where you can reduce expenses and redirect the money saved into your emergency fund. Assess your spending patterns and identify the expenditures you can reduce or do without.

Automating Your Savings

Automating your savings can simplify the process of saving an emergency fund. Create a direct deposit from your paycheck into a savings account specifically for emergencies. This “out of sight, out of mind” approach enables you to save without consciously thinking about it.

Finding Extra Money

Look for ways to generate extra income that can be directed into your emergency fund. This might include taking on a part-time job, selling unused items, or doing freelance work. Every little bit adds to your fund.

Prioritizing Your Spending

Prioritize spending on essentials like rent, utilities, and groceries, and use any leftover money to grow your emergency fund. This might mean sacrificing some wants for the time being, but the financial security is worth it.

Keeping Your Emergency Fund Accessible

Make your emergency fund readily retrievable in case of emergency, but keep it away from your ordinary checking account to resist temptation. A high-yield savings account could be a good choice, characterized by an accessible nature and a small reward for your savings.

Developing an emergency fund during hard times takes perseverance, self-discipline, and a proactive way of saving. The first and most important step is to start small by budgeting wisely and finding ways to increase your savings; this will eventually lead to a savings fund that will give you financial security and peace of mind.

What You Need To Know About The Stock Market In Order To Make Money

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Investing in the stock market might seem scary, especially watching movies like Wolf of Wall Street.

However, the world of investing isn’t actually that terrifying and can, in fact, be an effective way to set yourself up for a comfortable financial future. Yet younger Americans are not investing as much as older generations. Waiting to invest is a pretty poor money move.

While investing can be a risky game, it isn’t nearly as complicated as one would think. Here is what you should know if you want to make money off of stocks:

Think about your timeline.

The longer you wait to save and invest, the more you’re going to lose, and the less you’re going to make. Making money in the stock market is all about maximizing the benefit of compound interest. The trick is to keep saving and investing. The more time your money has to grow, the more you’ll have at the end of the day.  

Think about how much you’re investing.

The amount you earn is partially based on how much you end up investing. You don’t have to invest a lot to earn a lot. It’s simple enough to start by contributing as little as 5 percent into a 401(k) or IRA. If you’re concerned that you’ll lose your money if you do end up investing, then fret not. NerdWallet recently released an analysis of 40 years of historical returns, and discovered something pretty interesting: stock market investors had over a 99 percent chance of maintaining at least of their initial investment, the same as a traditional savings account.  

Think about the return rate.

Investors had a 95 percent chance of earning nearly 3x your initial investment, compared to a less than 3 percent chance of tripling your investment as a traditional saver. While these are some pretty nice-looking odds, the ultimate rate of your money growing is out of your control. As long as your investment outpaces inflation, you’ll do well. That’s not going to happen if your money is in a bank account with low interest rates.

Think about diversity.

Putting all of your eggs in one basket is seldom a good idea, particularly in the world of the stock market. While buying a lot of stock from Blockbuster made good business sense 20 years ago, you’d be kicking yourself now. To make sure that something like this doesn’t happen to you, invest across different types of companies, industries, and companies. Start by investing in a low-cost index fund that diversifies for you, or robo-advisors that use algorithms to build and manage your portfolio.

Telltale Signs When It’s Okay To Borrow Money

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If you have ever consulted with a financial advisor, you know that borrowing money is one of the last things you should do, especially if you are trying to build up a strong credit history or investment portfolio.

However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. If you encounter a drastic or detrimental life event, are responsible for aiding your extended family in times of trouble, or suddenly find yourself inundated with bills, you should not feel as though you have no options or means of receiving help.

With that in mind, let us take a look at some telltale signs of when it is okay to borrow money:

When you cannot afford moving costs.

If you recently purchased a home, you may be faced with a plethora of expenses you had not even taken into consideration (i.e., storage, transportation, sudden repairs or renovations, etc.). Borrowing money in this scenario can give you great peace of mind while you are getting moved and settled into your new space.

When you are hit with large medical bills.

Unfortunately, no matter how young or healthy you are, facing medical expenses is an inevitability. Thankfully, there are ways to ease the burden of big medical expenses.

Now, credit bureaus allow patients 180 days to address their medical expenses prior to putting them on their credit reports. This gives individuals enough time to sort through their options and make the most educated decision possible – all without feeling rushed or uncertain of their financial standing.

When your car requires major repairs.

A lack of reliable transportation puts a major wrench in your plan to consistently earn and save money. However, if you are in a financial bind and require assistance to get your car back in working order, borrowing money is likely your best option. This will ensure you are still able to work and will even allow you to pay off your expenses at your own pace – a definite win-win scenario.

Regardless of your reason for borrowing money, it is imperative that you remember the importance of paying off your debt in a timely manner. Otherwise, you may end up paying more due to accrued interest than you would have if you budgeted your finances to make the largest payments you could manage – within the realm of feasibility, of course.

Personal Finance Checklist: How Much You Should Save at Every Stage of Life

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The best way to build your personal wealth is to save your money as early and as often as you can. Having an account with compound interest will allow your money to begin making you more money. The bestselling author David Bach lays out a saving plan for each stage of your life in his book “The Automatic Millionaire.” The exact amount that is saved will differ from person to person depending on lifestyles and personal goals, however, Bach’s plan is a good rule of thumb to refer to.

The first decade you should start seriously saving is in your twenties. In your twenties you should be saving 10% of your gross income to your retirement savings and your emergency savings should be at least three months of expenses. If your company offers a 401 K plan and matches your contributions up to a certain percent, often somewhere between 3-5%, saving that 10% of your gross income just became much easier.

In your thirties, it can be expected that you’re not only providing for yourself anymore. You may have gotten married, may have had children, or may have bought a house. This is where you thank yourself for beginning to save at an earlier age. At this stage of life, 12.5% of your gross income should be saved for retirement and your emergency savings should cover your expenses for at least six months.

Your forties will be your peak earning years. This stage of life is going to be the most profitable time to take advantage of your increasing salary and save as much as you can. You should be saving 15-20% of your gross income to your retirement fund, and your emergency savings should be able to cover you for at least year or two of expenses. If you set yourself up with an account early on, you’ll truly start to notice your compound interest making money for you.

Once you’re in your fifties, you should be getting close to your retirement goal. Don’t stop saving once you reach this goal. You should be saving up until the day of your retirement. By this time, your emergency savings should be able to cover at least three years worth of expenses. It’s important to have this much in emergency savings because “the older you get the more you earn and spend. And if you lose your job it can take longer to find a job that replaces that income” explains Bach.

During your sixties and into retirement, you should still manage your money carefully. If you’ve followed the plan outlined above, you should be set to enjoy your money. Your emergency savings account should contain roughly five years of expenses.

How Collections Can Affect Your Credit

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Debt collectors, according to both the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are one of the most complained-about businesses. When you hear about “debt collectors,” the first image to come to mind is an aggressive loan shark. Even a “nice” debt collector can be a pain – yet they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  

debt collection is a type of financial account that’s been sent to a third-party debt collector. Hiring a debt collector is usually more cost-effective for a company than to keep spending their resources pursuing payment. Most credit card accounts get sent to a collection agency after six months of non-payment, while other businesses send them out even sooner – it varies business by business.

Debt collectors will call you and your friends, send letters, and even show up at your home to collect money – all of which is perfectly legal. If a debt collector doesn’t have your phone number or correct address, however, you may never receive notice of the debt until you see it listed on your credit report.  

How does this all affect your credit?

Whenever an account is sent to a collection agency, the original creditor or the collector updates the account on your credit report. A debt collection is one of the worst types of credit report accounts. It reveals that you have become seriously delinquent on an account. This will cause your credit score to plummet, causing you to be denied for credit cards and loans in the future, particularly if it’s recent or remains unpaid.  

These accounts can stay on your credit report for as long as seven years, meaning that their negative effects can haunt you for a long time. One of the best ways to lessen the harm of a collection account is to pay off the debt so that it will affect your collection less over time.  Another way is to continue to pay all of your additional bills on time.

A Stock-Trading App That Wants To Take On Wall Street

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Millennials tend to prefer their services condensed into an easily digestible experience. They crave this experience, just as they romanticize sleek, streamlined innovation, and they swarm to whichever service best captures such sentiments in a fast-gratifying, affordable package. Today’s industry shakers capitalize on the millennial demographic by trimming unnecessary costs and accessories; companies such as Netflix and Uber allow their service to speak its own merit by framing it as no more or less than what it is, no-strings.

Robinhood, an experimental finance app, seeks to reproduce the success of its predecessors by offering features which follow a similar pattern of simple affordability. The app was created in 2013, a passion project of Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, who sought to spread their enthusiasm for technology and the stock market by building a service that eases millennials into the trading game.

What separates Robinhood from the likes of ETrade, Charles Schwab, and other online brokerage services is its $0 commission policy. Once users pass an initial application process, they can buy and sell stocks free of any additional fees, which “allows all those people who were underserved by the previous generation of products to get started much sooner and with smaller amounts of money,” according to Tenev. This idea of uninhibited trading appeals to younger investors who might be dissuaded from rival services due to heavy fees.

Robinhood’s stripped down, accessible interface poses another attractive perk to novice investors. With the touch of a screen, users buy or sell stocks at market value; through Robinhood’s ultra-navigable interface, they can also make stop-loss orders, limit orders, and stop limit orders. By omitting more complex trading tools and sanding down the basics, Robinhood attempts to curb the stock market’s intimidation factor and paint trading as a hobby that is not only lucrative, but entertaining.  

Boasting a net worth of $1.3 billion, $176 million raised in funding, and over two million users, Robinhood appears to have cornered the previously untapped millennial demographic. Despite its breakaway success, the app still faces challenge on the bottom line. Providing a valuable service at no user cost is done at the expense of profits, which could compromise Robinhood’s ability to expand its functionality in the future.

“With ultra cheap trades comes insanely thin margins, if any at all,” comments Blain Reinkensmeyer, Head of Broker Research at StockBrokers.com, “which means compromises will have to be made somewhere, whether it is customer service, tools, or research. There is a reason why traditional brokerages all charge high rates but combined house tens of millions of overall ‘happy’ clients.”

Robinhood’s answer to its profitability pitfalls is a $10-per-month paid subscription service called Robinhood Gold. It offers additional features, such as the ability to trade before and after hours. Equipped with this business model, Tenev believes his app now walks “a clear path to profitability.”

Financial Security: Preparing For The Unexpected

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As you plan for your financial future, you are anticipating all of the monumental milestones that will occur as you continue along the trajectory of your life. These milestones are intimidating because they often require you to make very serious decisions that are financially demanding. Some of these milestones include choosing the college you want to attend, committing to signing a mortgage for a new home, starting your own family, diversifying your investment portfolio, saving up for retirement, etc.

But the one area that not many think to plan for, mainly because it is not a very pleasant topic to dwell on, is what to do in the event that a spouse passes away unexpectedly. There are resources available to help plan for this (e.g. life insurance), but it’s also good practice to be prepared for an emergency by having a plan-of-action set in place to ensure everything is organized and accounted for so that you aren’t scouring through a disarray of documents.

Here are a few of the most imperative areas that you should prepare for in case of an emergency:

Estate Plan And End-Of-Life Care

One important conversation that need to happen is what will happen to that person’s physical and monetary elements after they pass away. These documents should be readily available for review once this happens so that everything can be carried out appropriately. Some other information that falls into this category are documents such as: your will, your end-of-life care, your power of attorney, etc. You will also want to make sure that your estate plan is as up-to-date as possible.

Securing Essential Documents

These are documents that have compiled up throughout your life, starting with your birth certificate and including any important paperwork you’ve received since. You will also want to organize all of your most important financial documents, from bank account information to any pertinent investment material.

Obtaining All Passwords

Now that there has been a push for more paperless transactions, there are going to be quite a few accounts that can only be accessed online. Nothing would be more time-consuming and aggravating than trying to relocate passwords or having to go through the process of updating them once you can’t find the original passwords. Put them all in one, easily accessible document.

Seeking Aid For Future Financial Planning

If you were not the one in charge of handling your finances, it may be beneficial to look into hiring a financial advisor to help you bear this new responsibility you are now being forced to take on.

Life is unpredictable. And while no one wants to dote on the possibility of an expected death, it is worth developing a plan-of-action in case a dire situation would occur. If you are prepared for the unexpected, you won’t be left trying to grieve while also trying to get your finances in order.

4 Steps Towards A Debt-Free Life

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For some, being in debt is something that resulted from careless spending. Frivolously making purchases for unnecessary commodities with credit cards with the mindset that you will pay it off later by making the minimum monthly payments is the quickest way that Americans get themselves into debt.

For others, debt comes more unexpectedly, perhaps through an unpredicted emergency you were not financially prepared for. Maybe your car broke down and you either had to pay an expensive garage bill or the garage deemed your car unfixable so you are now forced to purchase a new vehicle.

Whatever the cause of your debt is, it’s important that you start developing better money habits as soon possible to get out of debt and prevent additional debt – a very easy cycle to fall into and a difficult one to get out of. It is being estimated that, on average, 50 percent of households currently have debt ranging around $14,000.

Here are some ways you can prevent future debt while also implementing strategies that will help you to work towards managing your current debt:

Step #1: Create a list of all of your debts, including their interest rates.

Don’t skip over this step! Before you can start tackling your debt, it’s important to be aware of exactly how much you have. Write it down in a notebook or start making a list in a spreadsheet so that you have everything contained in one area for future reference. The three most important things you will want to take down: the total amounts you owe, the annual percentage rates (or interest rates), and the monthly minimum payments.

Step #2: Set goals as you work towards paying off your debt.

It will be beneficial for both your stress and your action plan if you can break apart your debt into more manageable portions. Find out how much money you can dedicate to paying off your debt every month and, then, you can do a rough estimate of how many months or years it will take you to pay off the total amount. Set milestones for yourself as you start contributing more money to your debt, whether it be every $1,000 you pay off or every $5,000 you pay off.

Step #3: Focus on the payments with the highest annual percentage rates first.

This is where that list you created at the beginning of the process will come in handy. As you begin paying off your debt, focus on the balances that have the highest interest rates first. Work to eliminate those first by dedicating as much money to them as you can while still being able to pay the monthly minimum payments on your other balances.

Step #4: Find additional ways to bring in income.

If you bring in additional income, that is money that you can be dedicating right to your debt. The thought of working a second job may not seem appealing, but it will only be temporary until you are debt-free again, and this will make paying off your debt go by more quickly.

4 Changes To Make For A Better Financial Year

tom leydiker 4 changes to make for a better financial year blog

We are constantly setting new goals for ourselves. While these goals differ immensely from person-to-person, we create these goals for ourselves in order to better certain areas of our lives. The most common goals are primarily health-focused – losing a certain amount of weight, eating a more balanced diet, exercising at least three times every week. But one area that should be at the forefront of more people’s attention is a focus on financial success.

Finances also happen to be the area that most individuals don’t know how to traverse. The answer to your financial success does not solely rely in risk-taking and huge investments. There are a few strategies that you should implement first in order to build a strong foundation to grow upon as you continue to expand your financial understanding.

You have probably heard these strategies before, but they are important because they work. Your financial success is contingent upon your personal habits and behaviors, so making these changes this year will help you to lay out a successful financial future:

Create A Budget (Or Optimize Your Current One)

Having a budget is essentially having an organizational tool that helps you track your finances over the course of the year – and they are not as daunting to create as many people make them out to be. But a successful budget is not one that remains static. It will require frequent changes that are dependent upon your income, the changes in monetary amounts that need to be dedicated to certain monthly expenses, and to account for any financial emergencies. Be as detailed as possible because your budget is what will help you control your finances. It provides you with physical evidence of where you can afford to cut back in order to save more money.

Put Money Into A 401(k) Or IRA Plan

One of the worst things that you can do for your financial future is to put off placing money into a retirement savings account. Do not wait until you are older to begin saving for life after employment. The sooner you start saving, the more time you have to accrue a more substantial amount of money. If your workplace offers 401(k) plans to their employees, make it a goal to contribute the maximum amount possible every year – or at least as much as you can afford to in order to still live comfortably. If you don’t have access to a 401(k) plan, look into getting an IRA plan set up instead.

Learn How To Invest

It’s inspiring to read the success stories of individuals who took a risk with investing to have it pay off beyond their wildest imagination. But risky investments may not be a good strategy for a beginning investor. Save these types of investments once you have more experience and more stable funds. When you first start out, be consistent and talk with a professional to ensure that you are making decisions that are both safe and wise.

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