Saving

Put Your Credit Cards On An Island

There are lots of strategies when it comes to credit cards, but WalletHub's new island approach might be the best thing since sliced bread.

Credit Card Debt All Around

It’s no secret that around the world we’ve been able to amass a huge amount of credit card debt. We all want everything, and we want it right away. This kind of thinking doesn’t always bode well for our budget and bank account.

The U.S. consumer debt could hit $80 billion this year – and just in case you’re wondering, that’s a heck of a lot of debt.

We’ve talked about all the normal credit card strategies over and over again but I always feel like you can’t hear them enough. Things like:

  • Have a solid emergency fund of at least 3 month’s worth of fixed expenses
  • Get your credit card balances on low-interest cards
  • For goodness sake, please use a points or cashback credit card
  • Always use your credit card like a debit card

Time to Put Your Credit Cards On An Island

When I was glancing over WalletHub’s great credit card tips I came across their method of putting your credit cards on an island and just had to share. On this podcast I’m sharing just what that means and why you should start using this strategy (combined with all the stellar tips above).

Credit cards are a game, but one where you can win!

(Don’t forget to enter our Seattle Getaway Giveaway by December 13th)

End of the Year Money Decisions to Boost Your Bank Account

With just four more weeks of 2016, there is still some time left to make a few end of the year money decisions to help you save money and/or grow your money. I know that your mind may firmly be on holiday decorations, office holiday parties, and who you will kiss when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. However, if we’re going to do this money thing right, we should at least think about making a few of these last-minute money decisions.

With 2016 almost over, it's a great time to take advantage of some end of the year money decisions to boost your bank account.

Retirement for the Win

You may be sitting pretty with your contribution to your 401(k) at work, but the end of the year is a great time to boost your savings and enjoy a larger deduction for 2016. Ask your HR department if you can up your contribution even just a few percentage points before the end of the year. You can always drop your contribution back down in 2017. You can contribute up to $18,000 if you’re under 55 in 2016.

Don’t have a 401(k) – no problem! You actually have until you file your taxes next year to open an IRA and save up to $5,500 if you’re under 55. Why would you do this? Well, it helps you supercharge your retirement savings and potentially enjoy a write-off at the same time.

Is it deductible: (graph from IRS website)

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-2-40-35-pm

Remember, there are no deductions for a ROTH.

Go Ahead & Pay Now

One of the best end of the year secrets (well, it’s not really a secret, but many people don’t talk about it), is the advice to pre-pay your property taxes and/or your mortgage payment in 2016. Let’s say you have a mortgage, you can go ahead and make your January payment in December, and take a deduction this year for that payment. Same goes for your property taxes. Make sure you look up your own rules in the county where you live.

Why would you do this? Well, let’s say you’ve made extra money this year or a large bonus. Rather than paying more in taxes you can look for ways to balance out your extra earnings.

If you run your own biz, the same magic works for you. You can pre-pay a deductible car payment, or buy new software or get new business cards or a website. There are so many ways you can pay now, and save later.

You’ll Take the Loss

There’s a concept in the investment world called tax-loss harvesting. It may sound exotic like you’re going out to some field to find tax losses, but it’s actually a simple concept that can save you money. Let’s say you have two stocks. One lost you $2,000 this year and one had a gain of $3,000. With tax-loss harvesting, you can smooth out your gain by taking up to a $3,000 tax loss on your tax return. In this case, with a $2,000 loss and $3,000 gain, you would only pay tax on $1,000 of the gain. See how that works?

Now, even if you have a loss, you might not want to sell a stock or a mutual fund. Maybe you believe t he stock will rebound. In that case, tax-loss harvesting means nothing to you now, but it’s important to understand the concept.

Get Charitable

The end of the year is a great time to make extra donations to your favorite charity that is doing amazing things in your city, or even abroad. Here are a few rules to keep in mind:

  • Must be a 501(c)3 charity to get the deduction ( you can check your charity here)
  • You must get a receipt, even if you give them cash. You can claim a deduction of $250 or more only if you have that little magical receipt
  • You can donate stock that has appreciated if you don’t want to pay tax on it
  • You can’t deduct your time for volunteering, but your gas, parking fees, toll fees, equipment, etc.
  • Contributions can be deducted only in the year they were made – so watch the clock
  • Even if you don’t get a deduction…shouldn’t we all be more charitable

Pay Off Game Plan

If you’ve got debt that is remaining it’s a great time to get a move on a debt game plan. You can save tons on interest fees over the length of the loan by constructing a solid payoff plan. There’s a right way to do this – and it doesn’t include throwing a ton of money on your credit cards at random. Use a credit card payoff calculator to find out your ideal payoff strategy.

The Secret to Saving That You’ve Totally Overlooked

Everyone is always trying to figure out the secret to saving, but actually it's really quite simple.

What’s the Secret to Saving

I recently collaborated on an article with my very favorite budgeting app company, YNAB. It’s true, there are tons and tons of articles about saving money. It seems like everyone has a tip or a secret or a saving money hack. There are hundreds and hundreds of articles and books written about the subject.

So with this many articles, why do we still find it so hard to save money?

Why is saving money a goal that you always have and never seem to be able to achieve?

I Think I Know the Secret to Saving

It’s taken me many years to develop this secret, and quite honestly, it was hiding under my nose the whole entire time. I think the secret to saving money is a little concept called contentment. I know, you were expecting fireworks and some super top secret code that us financial planners have. No…I think it’s really just as simple as being content with where you are.

On this Podcast Episode:

  • I’ll talk about what being content really means
  • Tell you about my journey to contentment
  • Pose some questions that might help you finally win the battle with saving money
  • Talk about how easy saving money really can be

I’ve got a ton of podcasts on saving money, so go back and listen to some of those again. However, I kind of think this one is my new favorite.

Should I Care About Raising Interest Rates

Raising interest rates can and do have an impact on your saving and spending. Int this podcast episode, I'm dishing why you should care and offering tips to ensure that as interest rates go up your budget won't explode as well.Do Interest Rates Matter?

In short, yes, interest rates do matter. Think about your car loan, or your home loan, or even your savings account. Interest rates have a direct impact on all of these types of loans and financial products.

The word on the street is that the Fed is going to raise the Fed Funds rate at least .25% before the end of the year. There are countless articles that are speculating about what will or won’t happen. My guess is that interest rates will go up before the end of the year, but before you begin to panic, you must know that won’t have a dramatic impact on your budget. However, depending on the types of loans you have, you might feel the interest rate rise a bit.

In this podcast episode, I’m dishing tips on how to make it through the interest rate rise and explaining why you should care.

Should You Pay Off Debt or Save Money?

Answering the classic question on this episode of Millennial Money.

Pay Off Debt or Save Money?

That’s the classic debate – the #1 question I’m always asked. While it’s always easy to figure the answer out when you’re helping a friend, it can be hard to figure it out for yourself. It seems like a trick question. Is it wrong if pay off debt? Is it wrong if I save money? OMG, I’m so confused.

Don’t Stress Yourself Out

Not to spoil the thunder of this Millennial Money podcast episode, but the answer is neither one is wrong and neither one is right. They are just two choices and you have to do your best to figure out what will work for your individual situation.

In this podcast episode I’m covering:

  • What is smart debt and what is dumb debt
  • The two ways you use to pay off debt
  • A real live case study of a millennial stuck in this situation
  • What should your payoff plan look like

Here’s a link to a great resource where you can create your own payoff plan for any type of debt. Ready For Zero’s tool will help you crush all types of debt.

You can totally do this – whether you choose to pay off the debt, save your money or a combination of both, you’re headed in the right financial direction. Just don’t keep yourself stuck figuring out what the “right” way is, because they’re both right.

Got Renters Insurance?

If you're a millennial and you rent, then you need to know about the power of renters insuranceA new survey released by insuranceQuotes finds that millennials are most likely to rent homes, but very few are covered by renters insurance. And while coverage is not expensive, not having it could cause a huge financial hardship – and that’s no joke!

“A big takeaway from the survey is that many consumers underestimate the benefits of renters insurance and overestimate its cost. The average annual premium is $188; however, 25 percent of 18- to 29-year-old respondents believe they’d have to pay $1,000 or more. We need to educate a new generation of renters who don’t fully understand its benefits because it’s an affordable financial safety net that every renter should have,” says Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst for insuranceQuotes.

On today’s podcast I’ll chat with says Laura about:

  • Why you need renter’s insurance
  • How to find the best policy
  • How much you should spend
  • What the heck it covers

Want more info? Follow me on Twitter @shannahgame and Instagram @millennial_money.

9 Ways to Save & Spend Your Tax Refund

If you're lucky enough to score a big fat tax refund, here are 9 clever ways to spend and save it so you can maximize the money - and still have some fun!Do You Want to Splurge With Your Tax Refund?

It sounds like fun, right? Head on out and spend your tax refund. During the 2015 tax season, the IRS reported an average tax refund of around $2,776.*

Before you decide to spend the entire refund, the experts at TaxSlayer, a leading online tax service provider, have compiled a list of Top 9 ways to help taxpayers like you spend & save your tax refund.

Being wise with your refund can benefit not just the wallet, but also give you added peace of mind. (more…)

Are Your Efforts to Save Money Costing You Money?

Sometimes you may think you are saving money but you aren't actually. Here are some great tips to help you save money!Yes, it makes sense to compare prices and try to find the best deals when buying stuff, but is it always worth it to save money? Sometimes, we spend so much time trying to find the best deal that we actually spend hours doing so, when we could be using our time more wisely. Or we think we’re getting a deal, but we’re really not.

In fact some of these very things you do to save money might be more common than you think. (more…)

Secrets to Save 1K, 5k, 10K This Year

Want to know how to supercharge your savings this year? Check out this article, podcast and FREE downloadable cheat sheet with a ton of ideas.Everyone always wants to know what are the secrets to save money. In fact, one of my most popular podcasts was on Saving 1K in 6 Weeks. It seems like you know that you should be saving, but you have so many questions and don’t know where to start…so like most things money related, you just don’t save. (more…)

Ultimate Guide for Money Apps, Programs & Software

 

Confused about which money apps to download? Check out my Ultimate Guide for Money Apps 2016 and put your money habits on auto-pilot.There are thousands of money apps on the market, and countless programs and companies that offer  solutions for millennials…but which ones do you choose?

Even I’m guilty of serious “over download” when it comes to trying out money apps. The problem is, most of us download the app, but we never use it. Hmmm, that does cause a problem.

Check out my podcast below where I talk about some of my favorites and share a few stories about how I use these apps and programs.

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Want the guide? Click on the image below!

I’m bringing you all the tools that I use on a daily basis to help me be better with my finances. It’s all about making budgeting, saving and investing easier for you this year!

If you’re looking to supercharge your savings this year, sign-up for my free e course Build a Better Budget. It’s all about teaching you how to make budgeting easy AND find ways to achieve your goals through your awesome new budget. Sign up below and join the fun!

 

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