Do you 401K?

Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50s, we are ALL at that age where we should start thinking about our retirement, if we haven’t done so already.  Facing the fact that Social Security will not be around when we actually reach retirement age is a little scary.  Especially since so much money has been taken out of our paychecks to go into this system.  Fact is if you want to truly retire and be able to still pay your bills, and you haven’t started a retirement savings account then you NEED to start saving NOW!  401ks are essentially free money if your company matches your contributions so make sure you’re taking advantage of it.  I found this article online about mistakes people make with their 401ks and thought I’d share it, here it goes :)

Until then,
 

Be ECO Friendly and SAVE Some Dinero

I hope this Monday finds you with a smile on your face and an attitude to take over the world!  Maybe your attitude is shifting towards, hmmm how can I help to heal the world?  Honestly, I’m not sure how we could heal the world but I think we can definitely slow down the damage we do now.  I try and recycle as often as possible, as I’m sure you do to.  I was super excited when the plastic water bottles were added to the list of what you’re able to cash in at the local supermarkets.  However, I find myself frequently buying bottled water (are you shaking your head in agreement?) and returning many of the bottles back to the store.  I recently read an article on how much energy is consumed in recycling plastics to be reused and incorporated into something new.  So I switched to plastic reusable water bottles.  Have you ever seen the price for them though, some bottles are on the pricey side.  I sucked it up and bought it though.  Of course the bottle I purchased recently broke and I’ve been trying to still use it :(

I was at Old Navy a few weeks ago and I found these SUPER CUTE 100% Stainless steel beverage bottles.  They are ECO Friendly and REUSABLE. They come in a few sizes because they are safe for THE WHOLE family.  The tag says that they are:

  • Made from High Quality food-grade 18/8 stainless steel
  • Stainless steel is a non-leaching material that does not use BPA in the manufacturing process.  
  • Hand washing is recommended with warm soapy water and air dry (super simple YAY)
  • Intended for use with cold beverages only
  • Not for use with hot liquids or microwave

So say good bye to harmful plastics, help stop damage to our lovely planet and do it all for FIVE BUCKS!  Did I mention they come in many different designs?  Heal the world…make it a better place…for you and for me and the entire Human Race…Michael Jackson said it best, so go buy yours today.  I just bought another one for my niece yesterday, Can’t wait to give it to her!

Let me know what other things you are doing to be ECO Friendly in a comment!
Until then
djrelat7

Can you prepare for the worst, financially?

When I was working in the financial business, I saw more often than not, people fitting into the percentage of people that spent more than they earned.  For the longest, American Families saved -1%.  Yes -1%.  For the first time, in a LONG time, I think that is starting to turn around.  People for once are actually saving their money.  I think we can all find a handful of things to cut out of monthly budgets to make sure we’re saving, if not 10% of what we bring home, at least a little something.

Emergency Funds are always a start, and once you get to your six months worth of income, should you stop? Absolutely not!  Losing a job can cause so many things all at once.  Not only is a steady income missing, but what about all the unforeseen issues that can arise during that interim.  Can we prepare for the worst?  What do you do when you have a family of four and you can’t afford the alternate health insurance?  What do you do when funds are super low and you don’t have enough to feed the family?  What do you do when you are single and you made just enough to cover your expenses?


Liz Pullman Weston, one of my favorite Financial Gurus on MSN.com, breaks it down for us in her article, Where to turn when you’re desparate.  Bookmark her, subscribe to her emails, I think you’ll like her as much as I do!


Today’s lesson is that we can prepare as much as we possibly can.  We can’t foresee every possible scenario so its important to know where to go in case we need it.  Hope this brings you some comfort in knowing that there’s help available if we need it!

Until then
djrelat7

Why become a landlord?

Well I would base that on 3 things – past decisions, opportunities, and risk. Let me explain.
Past Decisions:
I like to describe myself as a 20-something year old “kid”. But the fact of the matter is I like to know that I have a good head on my shoulders. I’ve been working since I was 16 and at one point held 3 jobs at once. Also, while some people may have blown the weekly paycheck on new Jordans, or a night at a cool club, I would always put some of my money away. I’m not a penny-pincher – I just am a firm believer in making money work for me – can’t really do that without putting some money away.
This past decision of saving really put me in a place where I had funds available to be able to make a larger purchase. And just to clarify, this doesn’t only mean the house, but it encompasses all things. If I really want a camera per se I know I can go to the store and buy one, and I think that is a comfort we all need in life. We need to know that if we REALLY want something we SHOULD be able to buy it. (Also, don’t try and link that to “I really want a Lamborghini” – it doesn’t work that way). At the same time though, we have to evaluate those decisions. Really wanting doesn’t always mean you need to go buy it – I usually let the idea brew for a while before finally pulling the trigger or leaving it alone.
Opportunities:
Well here I am – mrRua – a 20-something year old “kid” living during the biggest financial crash in decades… obviously the biggest one during my lifetime. Some – actually many – would say this is horrible and one of the worst things that could happen – but I think, that perspective changes depending on what side of the fence you are on.
Like I mentioned above, I save money – I also make it work for me. You might ask – what does that mean? Well, here is an example. When everyone was scared about the economy dropping and pulled their money out – it make the stock market essentially semi-crash – prices on stocks were SO low. As most sold – I bought… see the opportunity? And now here we are in 2010, and the stock market is recovering and due to stock decisions I have made, I close to doubled my input and at the same time the real-estate market is still down… once again see the opportunity?
In life – there are instances where you do just have to do it. When is the next time the stock market will drop in the manner that it did this time? I don’t know, and if we look at history it won’t be for a quite a bit (knock on wood), so acting was critical. But at the same time, just because you didn’t act on this particular opportunity doesn’t mean there wont be another. Keep your eyes open.
Risk:
Of course risk had to play a part in this all. I saved via past decisions, things happened via opportunity, but I just signed a loan with 6 figures on it – that is called taking a risk. I bought a home, and now I have to essentially “manage” it. The risks are abundant from additional costs of fixing it up, to getting tenants who pay their rent and it is definitely a scary journey, but one I feel that I made the right decision on.
Nonetheless only time will tell, but until next time – thanks for reading and feel free to check out my own blog @ http://mrrua.com – thanks again to djRelAt7 for letting me talk my words.

I can do two things at once…and so can YOU!

Last Money Monday I talked about how you can save some money by driving smarter and I hope that you took a look at some of the articles that are out there online.  I secretly hope you took it a step farther and decided to drive smarter :)  If not, today is a new day.

Today, I’d like to tell you how you can take it a step farther on saving money on gas.  Costco is a warehouse sized building filled with large quantities of products sold by the bulk.  You can purchase a bottle of shampoo that will last you a month, or if you are a family of six two weeks.  You can purchase pre-packaged and portioned chicken (my main reason for shopping there), five pounds of bananas, the latest novel, a big screen TV, lotion and your favorite pack of orbits gum.  I truly believe a dirty mouth can be cleaned up with a stick of orbits…but i digress.  One of the other nice features of Costco is there gas program.  With the Costco membership card you can save a good chunk of change on gasoline.  On average I saved 30 cents in comparison to getting gas at a regular gas station.  BJ’s I believe is another place where you can also do your groceries and get you gas at the same time.  Please locate you local warehouse style facility in your area to see if you to can do two things at once.

For those of you, like myself, who might not need to buy things in bulk yet, don’t fret as I have another trick up my sleeve.  Costco, while it did have amazing deals and a wide range of products, buying in bulk for just myself often meant I was throwing food away that did not get eaten in time.  For me that translates to shredding money, as the difference might have gone towards something else. Remember we want to save money, NOT waste money.  As I continued to end up with spoiled groceries, I looked into deals at local grocery stores.

Grocery Stores!  Yes, I found out that Stop and Shop has a gas rewards program. For every dollar that I spend I accumulate points.  Points then turn into gas price reductions.  The card alone gives you five cents off for Regular and Premium, and ten cents off for Super.  For every 100 points, or 100 dollars I spend at Stop and Shop, you get an additional 10 cents off.  Since I need gas every other week, I can accumulate at times 200 to 300 points.  I once went longer without needing gas and I got gas for 2.46 for Super with my accumulated points.  Average price in Bridgeport, CT is 3.20 to 3.30, some places even higher.  If that doesn’t get you excited then I don’t know what will.  See if you can find similar programs at where you buy your groceries.

Making a mental note of other things that you might need in the vicinity of where you are shopping or getting gas, will also save you money.  This morning I shopped at Stop and Shop to buy lunch and breakfast for the week, picked up a Venti Hot Chocolate, did laundry across the street and stopped at Kohl’s around the corner to save on gas miles.

The more money you save yourself reduces stress and makes shopping trips feel less guilty.  Stay Tuned for next Money Monday when I give you tips on when to shop and when not to shop.

Until then
djrelat7

What I’m about to tell you will piss not only yourself off but others to :)

What I am about to share with you will either get you excited OR have you shaking your head and saying “YEAH RIGHT!”  It is something that you already know, something you may see ALL the time, but never made sense to you to do it unless you had absolutely NO choice.

When I worked part time for a financial services company, I sat with clients that had extra money to reach financial goals without any issues.  Others, like myself now, find it hard to stretch that last dollar to make it til the next pay day.  Not only is financial planning essential to reach any goal, whether it be debt freedom or saving up for that new car, it is only one component to the grand scheme of things.

This is for all of you who want to find extra money in your budget, where you believe no extra money exists.  I am on a financial game plan.  I know the date of when I will be officially debt free, well with what I have accumulated as of yet.  I have savings set aside each month.  Everything is going well and then BAM! (Not to be confused with Emeril’s BAM, cause we’re not cooking here, at least not today :) )  The unexpected expensives happen all at once.  Sound Familiar?  I have been off the road to financial freedom more times than I’d like to recall.  I look at the budget, I shake my head ( is yours shaking to?), where do I possibly find extra money to make up for it.  In my excel sheet I have become proficient in shaving dollars off this payment and off that one due next week to make ends meet and I make it to the next month fine. Then there are other times when I have no clue where to get it.

It is then when you need to get creative and chant that Harry Potter spell!  Well not a spell, its reading as many ‘How to save money when you can’t find money to save.’ articles.  About a year ago I read an article that said you can save money by driving smarter.  What does that have to do with money?  RIGHT!  We are all aware of the ever raising gas prices that fluctuate ALL THE TIME.  When I first started driving the price of gas was $1.37 and now its $3.00 plus in some areas. For those of us that drive, gas is an automatic expense.  To get to work we drive, to go shopping we drive, admittedly we drive to everywhere all the time.  So how does driving smarter translate to saving money on gas and putting more money in your budget?

Now be prepared what I am about to say is something you already know.  Subconsciously you know that it will probably piss you off and others.  WARNING: If you are a person who suffers from rage on the road then I advise you to take this transition of driving smarter, in small increments.  The speed limit in most states is 55 miles per hour.  I know. Yes, you know its 55.  I know.  You never drive the speed limit.  Yes. I understand, you can’t drive 55 mph.  I laugh now thinking of the first time I tried that.  I was on Route 25 driving towards Waterbury, CT from Bridgeport at a steady pace of 55 mph.  It was quite an experience.  I was use to driving at 70 or more.  Anything less did not make sense.  It was very painful.  I felt that I was having an outer body experience.  In my mind, I jumped out of the car and ran along side it.  I think I got there faster than I did in the car.  I did it to prove a point.  To see if what the articles were saying were true.  Could I save money on gas?  I didn’t do it long enough to find out.  A few times I got the finger and most cars swerved around me.  Sometimes I still have nightmares about it.  Drivers can be very scary on the road.

A few months ago, I gave it another try.  I bought a car in August that required Plus or Super.  I was used to buying regular.  I was spending $140 a month on gas.  In my country that is a lot of money.  Especially when your budget is so tight, you hope change falls out of it so you can say you have money in your pocket.  So I got back on the road and drove that 55 mph.  I turned up the music really loud and got into my groove zone to ignore all the people rushing by me.  I sped up a bit, I brought it up to 60mph. Some days I drive 65.  Point being, I went from racing to driving smarter.  I would have to fill up my tank once a week.  Now its every two weeks.  I spent an average now of $70 a month and I’m using SUPER.  So now I tell you, I happily drive between 55 and 65.  Aside from not burning as much fuel, driving smarter also decreases the amount of times you have to brake.  Braking also wastes gas.  Oh, by the way, using your brakes less also keeps them in shape longer, which also saves you money in the long run.  How awesome is that!

To prove that I’m not pulling this out of my left butt cheek, I have added links to some of the articles that are out there today that explain all the technicalities as to why driving smarter is good for your wallet.  Next Money Monday I’ll tell you how to stretch that dollar even further, so STAY TUNED!

Until then
djrelat7

How to Save Money on Gas – 29 Tips

Five Ways to Save Gas Money

66 Ways To Save Money on Gasoline

What I’m about to tell you will piss not only yourself off but others to :)

What I am about to share with you will either get you excited OR have you shaking your head and saying “YEAH RIGHT!”  It is something that you already know, something you may see ALL the time, but never made sense to you to do it unless you had absolutely NO choice.

When I worked part time for a financial services company, I sat with clients that had extra money to reach financial goals without any issues.  Others, like myself now, find it hard to stretch that last dollar to make it til the next pay day.  Not only is financial planning essential to reach any goal, whether it be debt freedom or saving up for that new car, it is only one component to the grand scheme of things.

This is for all of you who want to find extra money in your budget, where you believe no extra money exists.  I am on a financial game plan.  I know the date of when I will be officially debt free, well with what I have accumulated as of yet.  I have savings set aside each month.  Everything is going well and then BAM! (Not to be confused with Emeril’s BAM, cause we’re not cooking here, at least not today :) )  The unexpected expensives happen all at once.  Sound Familiar?  I have been off the road to financial freedom more times than I’d like to recall.  I look at the budget, I shake my head ( is yours shaking to?), where do I possibly find extra money to make up for it.  In my excel sheet I have become proficient in shaving dollars off this payment and off that one due next week to make ends meet and I make it to the next month fine. Then there are other times when I have no clue where to get it.

It is then when you need to get creative and chant that Harry Potter spell!  Well not a spell, its reading as many ‘How to save money when you can’t find money to save.’ articles.  About a year ago I read an article that said you can save money by driving smarter.  What does that have to do with money?  RIGHT!  We are all aware of the ever raising gas prices that fluctuate ALL THE TIME.  When I first started driving the price of gas was $1.37 and now its $3.00 plus in some areas. For those of us that drive, gas is an automatic expense.  To get to work we drive, to go shopping we drive, admittedly we drive to everywhere all the time.  So how does driving smarter translate to saving money on gas and putting more money in your budget?

Now be prepared what I am about to say is something you already know.  Subconsciously you know that it will probably piss you off and others.  WARNING: If you are a person who suffers from rage on the road then I advise you to take this transition of driving smarter, in small increments.  The speed limit in most states is 55 miles per hour.  I know. Yes, you know its 55.  I know.  You never drive the speed limit.  Yes. I understand, you can’t drive 55 mph.  I laugh now thinking of the first time I tried that.  I was on Route 25 driving towards Waterbury, CT from Bridgeport at a steady pace of 55 mph.  It was quite an experience.  I was use to driving at 70 or more.  Anything less did not make sense.  It was very painful.  I felt that I was having an outer body experience.  In my mind, I jumped out of the car and ran along side it.  I think I got there faster than I did in the car.  I did it to prove a point.  To see if what the articles were saying were true.  Could I save money on gas?  I didn’t do it long enough to find out.  A few times I got the finger and most cars swerved around me.  Sometimes I still have nightmares about it.  Drivers can be very scary on the road.

A few months ago, I gave it another try.  I bought a car in August that required Plus or Super.  I was used to buying regular.  I was spending $140 a month on gas.  In my country that is a lot of money.  Especially when your budget is so tight, you hope change falls out of it so you can say you have money in your pocket.  So I got back on the road and drove that 55 mph.  I turned up the music really loud and got into my groove zone to ignore all the people rushing by me.  I sped up a bit, I brought it up to 60mph. Some days I drive 65.  Point being, I went from racing to driving smarter.  I would have to fill up my tank once a week.  Now its every two weeks.  I spent an average now of $70 a month and I’m using SUPER.  So now I tell you, I happily drive between 55 and 65.  Aside from not burning as much fuel, driving smarter also decreases the amount of times you have to brake.  Braking also wastes gas.  Oh, by the way, using your brakes less also keeps them in shape longer, which also saves you money in the long run.  How awesome is that!

To prove that I’m not pulling this out of my left butt cheek, I have added links to some of the articles that are out there today that explain all the technicalities as to why driving smarter is good for your wallet.  Next Money Monday I’ll tell you how to stretch that dollar even further, so STAY TUNED!

Until then
djrelat7

How to Save Money on Gas – 29 Tips

Five Ways to Save Gas Money

66 Ways To Save Money on Gasoline