Get Started on the Road to Financial Stability 2015 With a Monthly Budget

Get Started on the Road to Financial Stability 2015 With a Monthly Budget

What is your family’s financial plan? If you’re staring at the screen blankly right now or thinking “well, I do drop my loose change in a bowl each night and occasionally I take that to the bank… ” then it’s time to have a talk.

Every family needs a financial plan.

Period. No ifs, ands, or buts.

However, the term financial plan is pretty broad. Let’s start at the beginning. In order to develop a successful financial plan, your family is going to need a budget. To get off on the right foot, try this printable budget planner.

The word “budget” makes most people cringe, but I promise it isn’t nearly as scary or intimidating as you’ve built it up to be in your mind. All a budget is is a document that tracks money coming in, money going out, and money left over. It’s as easy as that.

Now, I’ll admit, tracking this data can be a bit monotonous… it certainly isn’t going to be something you jump up and down about or fight over who gets to do it. However, it isn’t hard. Anyone can create a budget especially with the help of free tools like this printable budget planner.

Whether you use the printable budget planner or not, any budget you create should show you exactly how much money you’re bringing in each month and where/how you’re spending it. It will allow you to see gaps (when you’re spending more than you bring in) and help you pinpoint areas where you could potentially cut back.

TIP: Start with the Excel version of this printable budget planner so that you can customize it to fit your family’s needs.

How to use:

1. Insert your monthly income. If you’re salary, this will be easy. If you’re hourly or work off of commission this can be tricky. Start by taking an average of your pay per month going back a year and then update the actual amount after payday.

TIP: Be sure to include all income here such as any extra money you make from dividends or a second job.

2. List your expenses starting with the most important expenses first.

TIP: To ensure you don’t forget any expenses (ex. renter’s insurance), take a look at your bank/credit card statements for reoccurring bills.

3. Insert values into the “expected” column of the printable budget planner for each expense. Be as accurate as possible. For expenses that vary month by month (ex. electricity) take an average from previous months.

4. After you’ve added all your expenses, if there is money left over, allocate funds to debt repayment, savings plans (ex. retirement), and donation categories.

TIP: Be realistic! It is always better to be able to give more than expected than less. If you can’t meet your goals you may be discouraged from sticking to the printable budget planner.

5. Once the ending balance on the printable budget planner hits “zero”, you’ve allocated all of your money and you’re done budgeting!

Use this printable budget planner as a roadmap for your month. As income comes in and actual expenses come due (ex. bills are paid), update the printable budget planner to reflect “real” (actual) values instead of expected values.

TIP: Having the expected vs. actual columns side by side is a quick and easy way to determine how you are doing each month managing your family’s finances.

The printable budget planner is a simple way to get organized. Getting a budget in place is only the first step on the road to creating a successful financial plan for your family. There are a lot of other factors to take into consideration.

 

Top 7 Reasons to Use a Community Bank 2015

Top 7 Reasons to Use a Community Bank 2015

There are many reasons to switch to a community bank over a national institution. Here are seven advantages of supporting your local bank over a larger entity.

Same Services, Lower Costs

Community banks usually offer the same services that larger ones offer, but at a lower cost. Debit and credit card fees, as well as online bill paying fees, are offered at a lower rate. Small financial institutions on average offer better interest rates on savings.

Local Deposits Stay Local

Megabanks often accept deposits in one state and then lend that money to other states. A community bank loans out their cash to local neighborhoods and communities. This supports other depositors in your area.

Executives Stay Local

With a national entity, you never know where its executives and managers are located. With a community bank, however, you can rest assured knowing that its executives live locally, are easily accessible and are invested in the community.

Productive Investment

Nationwide institutions set aside a substantial part of their resources for speculative trading on Wall Street. This provides a nice return for them but does nothing for their clients or the local economy. Smaller banks don’t rely on such investments, instead choosing to work to turn client deposits into loans.

Personal Qualification Criteria

Larger institutions that lack local roots usually operate on an impersonal qualification criterium when determining a candidate for a loan. Conversely, community banks are open to taking into account family history and personal character when deciding upon a loan. Individual circumstances actually matter to local banks and they’ll spend time to consider them.

Shorter Wait Times

Looking to receive swift acceptance for a new loan request? Community banks should work in your favor. Since all executives and employees are located locally, they are able to make such decisions with haste. Megabanks are slowed down by their loan approval committees, which are scattered across multiple states.

Small Businesses Understand Small Businesses

Sounds simple, right? Smaller banks and credit unions are themselves small businesses, and as such relate to and understand small businesses. Large banks are under the thumb of corporate America and don’t operate as small businesses themselves. They operate the same way mega corporations operate, paying their CEOs millions of dollars, shutting down branches when money gets tight, and working their employees long, strenuous hours. This leaves a void in their understanding of small businesses and the people associated with them.

Premium Finance 2015 – 5 Benefits for Business Owners

Premium Finance 2015 – 5 Benefits for Business Owners

Life insurance today is more than just paying out a death benefit. These insurance policies offer a tremendous amount of living benefits while the policy holder is alive than ever before in history. For business owners and high net-worth individuals, the benefits of premium financing of life insurance can be amazing.

Benefit #1 Tax-Free Loan:

Life insurance premium finance is a loan made to individuals and companies who want to purchase and fund large amounts of tax-free cash value inside a life insurance policy. Because businesses do not pay income taxes on loans, the money the individual or company receives can go directly into the life insurance policy and be taken out as cash at a later date, tax free. In addition to tax free loans and tax free withdrawals, business owners can write off on their taxes the loan interest.

Benefit #2 Tax-Free Income Stream:

Once the policy loan is paid back, the business owner can take out the money from their life insurance policy as tax free withdrawals. Money taken out of the insurance policy is considered a policy loan and therefore is not subject to taxation by the IRS. Usually, most individuals can start taking out money from their insurance policies is as little as 5 years.

Benefit #3 Asset Protection:

In most states, the cash value build up inside annuities and life insurance is protected from creditors. If you are ever sued, these assets will not show up on any data base that is connected with you personally. Also, most states have a guarantee association that covers cash value up to $250,000. These protections will ensure that the huge amounts of money you have inside of your life insurance policy is protected by risk and law.

Benefit #4 Never Lose Value:

The benefits as stated above are meaningless unless the underlying life insurance vehicle has some type of guarantee to protect the policy owner from stock market losses. This is achieved by using a whole life or indexed universal insurance (IUL) policy. We recommend using an indexed universal life insurance policy because the upside potential of 12-15% yearly cap and a minimum guarantee of 1% is very attractive.

Some indexed universal insurance policies offer critical and chronic illness riders. These riders are usually offered at no additional cost and they can provide for additional income in case of a medical situation. If you are ever terminally ill, you can access up to 90% of the death benefit to use while you are alive.

Benefit #5 Creative Living Buyouts

When business owners decide it is time to sell their business, they are confronted with the reality that their buyers may not be able to find financing. Most business owners will have to resort to some type of self-financing where they will help the new owner finance the purchase of the business.

Want to Win? Don’t Play With Credit Cards 2015 Latest

Want to Win? Don’t Play With Credit Cards 2015 Latest

Just say no to credit cards; it’s a losing game. Yet, no sooner do these words leave my mouth, than I hear voices chiming in to tell me: “But I get “free” miles.” “I pay the balance off every month.” “I only use it when I travel.” “Credit cards are necessary for building credit.” Oh, how successful the marketing of credit cards has been.

Trust me; the math always works in their favor. Incentivizing you with miles is a smart business strategy aimed directly at your wallet, and perhaps, more importantly, your mind. You believe you are getting something for nothing while such offers are no more than a carrot to gain your business loyalty and personal defense.

How is it that people are so na├»ve as to not realize the credit-card banking endgame is to make them mentally and financially dependent, long-term? In the meanwhile, credit cards provide the illusion of wealth and perpetuate compulsive buying at “credit card premium” prices. Like playing with fire, you can easily get burnt, even when you think you are in control.

As you are strategically addicted to the incentives and the “safety net” concept of credit cards, their banks and the businesses you buy from use proven market research to extract top dollar for their products and services. They have learned that you willingly pay more when using plastic than when handing over hard-earned cash.

“One of the most well-known studies, published in 2001 and titled ‘Always Leave Home Without It,‘ showed that in certain contexts, people were willing to pay up to twice as much for the same item when paying with a credit card instead of cash.” The New York Times, October 10, 2014

You pay more while those you benefit laugh all the way to the bank! The above study also found that (temporary) interest-free loans, of those who pay off their balance every month were not immune; they, too, overspend and pay the “credit card premium.” The mental dependency, justification of credit card use, and chronic overspending, speaks to marketing success; how it has been able to psychologically instill the importance of “consumers” spending more to keep up with social expectations.

Most people opt-in and obey these marketing messages because marketing preys on the fact people naturally want to be well thought of. To opt-out of these surround-sound commercial suggestions takes courage and determination. Your mission, should you accept it, is to opt-out, as a whole-family experiment, and discover what it actually takes to live within your means.

What does it mean about how you spend? How you earn? How you save? How you invest? Answers are there for the asking.

Unless you happen to be one of the fortunate wealthy with no financial concerns, behind closed doors, you are likely to pay the price of mounting debt and the loss of personal and spiritual well-being that goes with it in today’s economic environment. Just remember: You don’t have to “go along to get along” when it comes to the sophisticated marketing techniques used by credit-card banks to get you and keep you as a customer. You DO have a choice; it’s just not the popular one.

How To Which Debts Should You Pay Back First? 2015

How To Which Debts Should You Pay Back First? 2015

If there is one thing that any good personal finance analyst will tell you, it’s that isn’t never a good idea to just pay the minimum on your debts. This will cause you to pay much more in interest and extend your debt for a much longer time than you would like.

But what happens if you a four or five different credit cards and you’re floundering?

You know you shouldn’t just put down the minimum on every single card, but you can’t afford to put down more on every single one. Should you pay off the smallest debt first or the one with the highest interest rate first? Here are cases for both.

Paying Off the Smallest Debt First

Some finance experts recommend paying off the smallest debt first. Now this won’t save an individual as much money in the long run unless for some reason that small debt has an extraordinarily high interest rate as well. However, it could build a snowball effect. If he or she hasn’t been great with paying off debt, just getting one bill off the books can go a long way in helping an individual stay motivated to keep going with their debt payment plan.

Paying Off the Debt with Highest Interest Rate

If an individual’s primary motivation is just to save the most money possible, it might make the most sense to tackle credit cards by how much he or she has to pay in interest for each. Let’s say you’re paying 22% interest on a $1,000 credit card balance. You’ll save much more money paying this off first than focusing on a $300 balance that has a 18% balance.

In the end, the most important thing is to pick a plan that you can stick to. According to finance expert, Jeremy Marcus, individuals can do the most to improve their credit scores by getting their credit utilization under 30%. A low credit score can have serious consequences, including denied credit, rejected rental applications, and even a failure to get a job. However, it is very easy to get back on track, but you need a sound plan.

If you can’t do it on your own, it might be a good idea to speak with a personal finance adviser or debt specialist for professional advice on how you can reduce your debt. By paying off your debt, you can be well on your way to financial freedom.