Get Financially Fit

Financially Fit and In Shape - 2019

It’s healthy to stay in shape on a budget! These ideas can help you get healthy without spending a lot for an expensive gym membership or lots of expensive equipment.

How to Get in Shape on a Budget

Think being fit means having an expensive gym membership, pricey exercise equipment and costly groceries from the natural-foods section of the store? Well, think again. Here are five tips to help you reach your fitness goals, without putting a huge dent in your budget.

Budget Fitness Tip No. 1: The Best Things in Life Are Free

There are lots of great exercises that don't cost a single penny. Walking and jogging are completely free, and competitive sports like basketball and soccer require only a place to play (usually public parks) and a single ball (which can usually be bought used at a discounted price).

Even playing on a golf course, which can get pricey, doesn't have to break the bank. Many courses offer Frisbee golf, and beyond the cost of the Frisbee, it can be a really fun, thrifty way to burn some calories. And if you're lucky enough to live near the ocean or a lake, you can swim as long as you want without paying any of those hefty membership fees. 

Read tips 2 - 5 here.

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Start with a Clean Slate

These 7 steps will put you on the path to making changes for the better with your financial health, including improving or building your credit score! 

How to Rebuild & Fix Your Credit Score - 7 Steps to Follow

It doesn’t take much to damage a good credit score. A missed payment here, a late payment there, and before you know it, your score has dropped below 600 and into dangerous territory. Once your score drops, you’ll find that loans are more difficult to acquire, while your interest rates go up. What’s more, you may have to pay more for insurance – and you might not be able to rent that great apartment you wanted. Plus, many employers check credit scores as part of the vetting process when hiring new employees. In short, a low credit score can really affect your life.

It can be a difficult road, but rebuilding your credit score is definitely worth the effort – often, the hardest part is just getting started. Fortunately, there are a number of tips to help you on your way.

How Your Credit Score Can Crash

Two of life’s most stressful occurrences – divorce and bankruptcy – can wreak havoc on your credit score. Divorce can leave you feeling devastated emotionally, but it can also leave you with debts that linger long after the trauma of the legal battle is over. During a divorce, it’s important to be sure that your divorce decree separates all debts as to who is responsible for paying them. Close any joint accounts that are paid off, and double-check by ordering a free copy of your credit report so that you can see what debts and accounts bear your name.

The decision to go through bankruptcy is likewise a painful experience that can level a blow to your credit score. However, the effect is temporary, and with consistent effort you can rebuild your score to a stellar rating. As long as the bankruptcy is listed on your credit report, your credit score will suffer. If your score was high – say, around 750 – a bankruptcy is likely to make it plunge by 100 points.

There are three types of bankruptcy:

  • Chapter 11 and  Chapter 7 bankruptcies, which stay on your credit report for 10 years after filing
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which remains for seven years after filing

All of the individual accounts that you owed when you filed for bankruptcy are supposed to be removed from your report after seven years. Check your credit report and make sure that your bankruptcy is removed as soon as it is eligible to be purged.

Read more to discover the 7 steps you can take to build and/or improve your credit

Article from MoneyCrashers

Budget Some Fun into Your Life!

Budgeting isn’t just about saving money. It’s about creating a plan you can stick to and live with! Check out these 5 reasons for including fun in your budget!

5 Reasons Why You Need to Budget for Fun

When I'm creating budgets for clients, the one thing I never do is cut out their budget for fun. Sure, I may cut back what they spend on discretionary items, but never do I completely cut out their fun spending. Now, fun spending can mean different things to different people. 

Whether fun means buying a new blouse or going out to eat with your girlfriends, there are plenty of reasons why anyone needs to budget for fun. I'm going to walk you through a few of them! Hopefully these reasons will convince you to add a little fun back into your budget. 

Read more to discover why fun is an important part of your budget.

Article from City Girl Savings.

Start Saving for Tomorrow Today!

The earlier you start saving for your future, the faster you’ll achieve your goals and keep up with those goals as they grow over time! Where and how much you save is not nearly as important as when you start! 

Why You Should Start Saving for Retirement Now

Today is the day we’re going to clean out the garage, weed the garden, paint the kid’s bedroom — and start saving for retirement.

Those all are chores that we know should have been done yesterday, but we think can wait until tomorrow.

The garage, bedroom and garden can wait. Retirement Savings can’t.

Saving for Retirement Takes Time

Time is an ally or an enemy with investments. You choose which it will be. There is dramatic evidence that doing it today will produce results that overwhelm whatever gain you may realize by doing it tomorrow. Any online investment calculator will confirm that.

For example, if you start a retirement savings account at 55 and contribute $3,000 a year ($250 per month) for the next 10 years with a 7 percent return, you will have $43,523 by time you reach retirement age of 65.

That’s the kind of return you get by waiting for tomorrow.

However, if you start at 25 and contribute the same amount — $3,000 annually for 10 years at 7 percent return — your retirement savings account would be worth $353,259 when you reach 65. That is without you contributing a penny after the age of 35.

Where You Save is Not Nearly as Important as When You Start Saving for Retirement

Where to open a retirement savings account is totally subjective. Knowing someone you can trust at a financial institution could be a comfortable starting point. At the very least, that person should be able to explain the boundaries for minimum investment, fees, automatic contributions and investment options.

The slam-dunk retirement savings option is a 401(k) investment in which your company matches a certain percentage of your contributions. This is free money that should never be passed up. For example, if your company matches contributions up to three percent, you put in $3, the company puts in $3 and now you have $6 to invest. That’s a 50 percent return before you even choose a stock, bond or mutual fund.

Another option is to start a traditional IRA account (taxed when you cash it in at retirement) or Roth IRA (taxed when you buy it, no taxes if you cash it in at retirement). These are available from the investment brokerage houses, some banks and credit unions, or you can do it yourself online. The benefits of an IRA account are that interest, dividends and capital gains are not subject to tax while they remain in the account but are taxed upon withdrawal, usually at a lower tax rate.

Either way, there are going to be fees involved. Investors should be careful to know how much they’re paying. In some cases, the fees can eat up 30 to 40 percent of your gains. Read the fine print carefully.

The important thing is to get started. Retirement savings are not nearly as dependent on the broker you use, the stocks or mutual funds you select or how much money you invest as they are the day you started.

Start today and leave the garage, garden and bedroom for tomorrow.

Article from The Frugal Toad.

Learn About Financial Success From Other People's Mistakes!

10 Financial/Life Tips for those new to adulting! Sometimes making your own mistakes as a learning experience is a good thing, but when it comes to money and life, it's better to learn from someone else's mistakes!

10 financial tips for millennials

Managing money is generally not taught in elementary school. 

About 17 states require students to take a personal finance course in high school, but only a handful require testing on the topic, according to the Council for Economic Education.

When it comes to money, it’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes than to make your own. Follow these tips when you’re young to avoid financial hardship in life.

1. Go to college

You may want to do something that doesn’t require a college degree, such as playing professional golf. But give serious consideration to enrolling in college anyway. Yes, it’s a major investment, but if your parents are unable to help you pay for it, make it happen yourself, even if it means taking out loans. Just don’t get in over your head; try to borrow no more than the amount you expect to earn the 1st year after graduation. That way you can pay off the loans within 10 years. One way to save on costs: Go to a community college first; then transfer to a 4-year university after 2 years.

It’s easier to get a degree when you’re young than when you have a home, family and all the attendant adult responsibilities. Your earnings potential increases significantly with a college degree — which will come in handy if your other dreams don’t materialize. Plus, you will likely experience a love of learning that you will never outgrow.

2. Find your purpose

If you’re having trouble figuring out what you want to do with your life, look within. You were born with certain talents and natural abilities. You know which subjects you excel in and which ones you struggle with. Choose a career that enables you to maximize your gifts in a way that fulfills you or helps others. As you grow, your career may change along with your desires. But for now, gravitate toward a field that feels like home.

3. Begin retirement planning with your 1st job

This tip is so important. If the company you work for offers a 401(k) plan, sign up at your 1st opportunity. If there’s no such plan, divert some of your paycheck into an IRA. Believe it or not, if you’re lucky, one day you’ll find you are older, so it’s best to be prepared. Setting up automatic contributions to either one of these retirement vehicles at a young age will help you build wealth painlessly.

Naturally, the more you earn, the more you can stash. Sock away at least 7% of your earnings in the beginning, and increase it each year until you’re diverting 15% a year.

4. Place a value on money

It doesn’t buy happiness, but it can certainly make you comfortable. Just understand what it’s worth. Money is what you earn in exchange for your time in some productive pursuit. Let’s say you earn $20 an hour at your job, and you’re considering purchasing a TV for $500. You may calculate that you spend 25 hours, or about 3 days, earning that money. It’s worth it, you may think. But that’s not an accurate value estimate. If you’re single, you’re in the 25% tax bracket, so you actually spend about 33 hours earning the net income required to make the purchase. It still may be worth it, but there may be competing demands for that money, such as rent and car payments, not to mention your retirement fund. Each purchase represents a trade-off. Make these decisions wisely.

5. Use the credit card sparingly

This tip is also really vital. It’s easy to spend now with plastic and much harder to pay later. Use credit responsibly. Comparison-shop for your card. Remember that you’ll be relying on your future earnings to pay for today’s credit card purchases. And if you keep a running balance, you’ll also be paying interest, sometimes at usurious rates. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, save money to meet financial goals.

6. Follow the golden rule

Contrary to popular belief, the duplicity and craftiness of Machiavellian tactics won’t really help you survive. Instead, they’ll engender mistrust in your relationships. Treat others fairly, the way you wish to be treated. No one looks good when trying to make others look bad. When you’re on the job, avoid gossip. Beware that when someone takes you into his or her confidence to point out someone else’s foibles, it’s only a matter of time before your foibles come to light.

Learn tips 7, 8, 9 and 10 here!

Article from Bankrate

Make Room in Your Budget for Charity

Even when things are tight, it's possible to find a way to save and give! These tips from charities and financial experts can help you help others, even when you're living on a budget.

How To Make Room in Your Budget To Donate to Charity, Even If Finances are Tight

You don't have to be flush to make giving effective.

One of the great financial dilemmas of your twenties ― and any time of life, for that matter ― is how to donate to charity when finances already feel tight. Between rent, car payments, medical expenses, groceries and more, it seems like there’s not much room for giving, even if good causes are top of mind. 

We asked charities and financial experts for advice on how to start donating even though you’re operating on a shoestring. Their tips are an excellent starter kit to making 2018 (and beyond!) a year of giving to causes you care about. 

1. Decide which cause is important to YOU.

Nearly every financial expert or charity we spoke with listed passion as the No. 1 thing to gauge before you start budgeting for donations. Since giving money often involves a sacrifice on your end, it’s critical that you believe in the cause you’re donating to, according to Tyler Dolan, a financial planner with finance site Society of Grownups. 

“Contributing to a cause that resonates with your values is better than donating to everything that comes across your email or Facebook feed, because it will mean more to you,” he told HuffPost. 

Katie Dillman is a nonprofit organizer who started her charity, Make Our Day, after years of “periodically starting and stopping monthly donations” to big-name charities she didn’t know much about, she told HuffPost. “For the life of me, I can’t tell you why I made the donations I did ... other than ‘Charity is good, you should give to charities, I give to these charities because I see people on TV giving to them in massive amounts.’”

Now, the elementary school tutor carefully picks and chooses causes she directly cares about, like Kickstarter campaigns to fund books for her students. She said life “feels radically different” giving to causes that affect her.

“The more you can align your actions with your beliefs, the happier you will start to become in every area of your life,” Dillman said. 

2. Set up a savings account called “donations.”

Priya Malani is the founder of Stash Wealth, a finance company that helps young people manage their money. She says she sets up labeled savings accounts for her clients who want to start giving, then works with them to decide how much they’ll stash in that account each month. 

“People say, ‘Should I or shouldn’t I donate?’ But if the money’s already there, you’re going to do it,” Malani said. The same applies to other goals, like saving for a vacation. “Nickname your account ‘donations’ or ‘Amalfi coast trip.’ If you label it as such, you’re much less likely to touch that money.” 

3. Choose something to sacrifice.

In order for most twenty-somethings to donate to charity, “you’re going to have to make some sort of sacrifice in your budget,” Dolan said. A common choice is cutting back on “fun money” by skipping dinner with friends once a month and giving that cash to charity instead. Or maybe, you’ll decide that making space in your budget for donations is more important than saving quite so much for a car each month.

Your sacrifice doesn’t have to be big, said Jennifer Bernstein, managing director of development at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“It really is true that every dollar counts,” she said. “Think about one thing you can forgo, like maybe skipping that daily cup of coffee once or twice a week.”

4. Then try automated, monthly donations ...

Most of the charities and experts we spoke with said that while donations of any amount are helpful at any time of year, making automatic payments every month can have major benefits for both charities and you as a donor. 

“Most people live paycheck to paycheck. If that’s you, then you need to acknowledge your donation is going to have to come out of your paycheck or it’s not going to be there at the end of the year,” Dillman said. Plus, “recurring donations to nonprofits come in on different days of the month, which is great for ones like mine who have daily needs.”

Monthly donations “provide charities like ours with a regular, consistent, and predictable source of support,” Bernstein added. “It’s also more cost effective for [us], as we can forgo renewal notices, save on our mailing costs, and put more of our money to work defending the environment.”

5. ... and get your employer to match them.

Many large companies have programs that will match the amount of money you give to charity, Dolan noted. Check with your HR department to see if such a plan exists in your office, and watch your $50 donation turn into $100 with the click of a button.

6. Understand why giving $10 is better than giving nothing. 

Charities don’t just need your money; they need you to spread the word about their cause. You’re more likely to do so after you’ve made a donation.

“We see value not just in the donation itself, but also the relationships that we build with our donors over time,” said Poul Olson, a spokesman for The Task Force For Global Health. “They often become our best advocates and help raise awareness about the importance of the work that we’re doing.”

Plus, growing the number of donors on their roster can give organizations more clout when they lobby for change, Bernstein said. 

“When we talk to decision makers, the fact that there is such a large group of people behind us — supporting the causes we’re advocating for — makes a big difference,” she said.

And of course, there’s the age-old adage that a little goes a long way.

Consider Dillman’s anecdote from the tutoring center she runs in Thailand: “One of my third-grade students used to cry inconsolably through his morning classes ... He wouldn’t tell any students or teachers what was wrong. Things started to make sense when I checked his English workbook and saw that he’d written ‘no’ next to the question ‘What did you have for breakfast?’... Now I bring him fresh fruit and granola for breakfast every school day and make sure he has food or money for the weekend. Ten dollars a week is what I spend for his breakfast, and ... I am not exaggerating when I tell you that absolutely everything about his school performance started to improve after we established this morning routine.”

Read more on charitable giving now

Article from iGrad