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How a Late 2017 Interest Rate Increase Might Impact Your Finances

interest rate impact

Guest Post: By Patty Moore, a blogger who writes about personal finance, careers, and family. You can follow Patty on Twitter @WorkMomLife.

In the United States, interest rates are controlled by the Federal Reserve Bank. It controls a key interest rate, the Fed Funds Rate, that banks charge each other to borrow money. Changes to the Fed Funds Rate ripple through the economy and can directly affect your finances. That’s why so much attention is paid to forecasting any upcoming changes to the Fed Funds Rate.

The Federal Reserve meets six times a year to consider the Fed Funds Rate, and the next meeting is in December. At the most recent meeting, in September, the Fed indicated that it will raise the Fed Funds Rate by one-quarter of 1 percent in December. It bases these decisions on various economic conditions. One is inflation – the general rise in prices across the economy. The Fed fights high inflation, and raising interest rates is an important tool. Note that the Fed anticipates inflation before it actually occurs to get an early jump on the fight against it.

Inflation and Interest

Inflation occurs when the economy overheats and shortages in materials and/or workers develop. Shortages force companies to bid up the amount they’ll pay to workers and suppliers in order to compete with each other. These increases show up in the prices of things you buy, and also in your take-home pay.

Raising interest rates will slow down inflation, because borrowers have to pay more interest when they borrow. That leaves less money left over to pay higher, inflated prices and therefore slows down the economy, which slows down inflation.

So, when the Federal Reserve see signs that the economy is threatening to overheat and raise the inflation rate, it boosts the Federal Funds Rate to slow everything down.

Impact on Borrowers

As we said, a change in the Fed Funds Rate ripples through the economy, because lenders have to pay more interest on the money they borrow in order to lend it out. Therefore, rates will increase on new credit cards, mortgages, car loans, personal loans. If you have borrowed money at a variable interest rate – that is, at a rate that can change over time – then you can expect to pay more interest charges. Most credit cards are variable rate, so a higher Fed Funds Rate should show up shortly on your credit cards’ monthly billing statements. More of your hard-earned money must then go to paying interest on any unpaid balances. You can avoid this effect by paying off your entire balance each month, but that’s often not possible for many of us.

Existing fixed-rate loans, such as those on cars and most mortgages, aren’t affected by changes to the Fed Funds Rate, but new ones will be issued at higher rates. Existing credit cards and adjustable-rate mortgages can see rates change shortly after a Fed rate hike. You can deflect changing interest rates by refinancing variable rate debt (ex. Credit cards) into fixed rate products, see example here. Some experts suggest moving variable rate credit card debt to a fixed rate term loan during rising interest rate environments.

Private student loans frequently charge a variable interest rate. Depending on your student loan agreement, you might see a higher interest rate on your loan right away, or you might not see it for up to a year. Eventually, the higher rate takes hold and your remaining private student loan debt will cost you more money each month. Most student loans in America are made by the federal government and have a fixed interest rate that protects you from rate hikes. However, the Department of Education sets new interest rates each spring that take effect on July 1, causing new loans to be more expensive during inflationary times.

If you have any adjustable rate loans or credit cards, try to replace them with fixed-interest-rate ones when rates are rising. Also, try to pay off your credit cards in full each month, so that you don’t have to pay any interest at all on credit card balances.

Impact on Savers

The flip side of interest rate hikes is that savers earn more interest on their savings. Fed Fund Rate hikes might not impact the amount of interest you earn right away, because banks and other savings institutions use a “sticky” interest strategy. This means that the banks raise interest money on loans right away, but take their time passing along higher interest rates to savers. That’s unfair, but it’s also a fact of life. Eventually, competition causes banks to pay more interest on savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money-market accounts. Investors who buy Treasury bills see interest rates rise quickly on new debt in response to Fed Funds Rate hikes.

Naturally, the effects of a lower Fed Funds Rates are the opposite – good for borrowers, bad for savers. When interest rates are very low, as they had been from 2009 to 2016, it’s hard for some retirees to earn enough interest on relatively safe savings accounts and might turn to riskier sources of income, such as stocks and junk bonds. That’s unfortunate, because retirees are the least able to absorb losses, since they are no longer earning a salary or wages.

Now What:

  • The Federal Reserve is increasing interest rates in 2018.
  • If you currently have variable rate debt (ex. credit cards), plan on your interest rate and monthly payment increasing in 2018. Let this be motivation to pay down debt!
  • Fixed interest rate debt will not be impacted. Consider refinancing variable rate debt to a fixed interest rate.
  • The interest rate you receive on your savings accounts, CD’s, and money-market accounts will increase! This is good news for savers!

About The Author

Patty Moore is a single mother to one beautiful daughter while working 40 hours a week. She writes about parenting, family finances, and creating a work life balance in her blog Working Mother Life. Her hope is to help other women in similar situations to hers become better and more balanced mothers.

 

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EP21: Small Business and Tax – With Eric Estevez

Episode #21 – Small Business and Tax – With Estevez Tax Prep




Download This Episode

Eric-Estevez-1-e1498081204400-273x300[1]Bio: Eric Estevez has been in the tax & accounting field since 2008. His experience was gained while handling clients of all sizes, from mom & pop shops to billion-dollar institutions. His inspiration comes from books such as “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, “Think & Grow Rich”, and “Awaken the Giant Within”. These books instilled a financial mindset of success from a young age. Eric is committed to spreading the message of financial literacy through Estevez Tax Preparation, LLC.

Show Description: Eric and I met at FinCon in 2016 and Have been in touch since then.  We talk about heaps of tax skills, notes, and ideas small businesses should incorporate into their behavior to minimize taxes and stay awesome.

ShowNotes:

1:55 – Eric’s Skill With Taxes Precedes Him
2:40 – Why People Don’t Learn Taxes For Their Business
3:30 – A Few Reasons For Professional Tax Services
4:40 – A Trait Of Successful People And Successful Small Business
6:15 – Why Everyone Needs A Book Keeper Now (Hint: The Job Market Is CHANGING)
6:45 – Most Common Tax Problems In Small Business
8:10 – A Rule Of Thumb For How Much To Save For Taxes When You Work For Yourself
9:10 – Business Write-Offs and Expense Tracking
11:00 – Commingling of Funds – The First Step In Business Expense Tracking
13:00 – How To Reduce Preparation Fees for Taxes and Balance Sheets
14:00 – The Value of Having a Monthly Accountant Instead of a Once A Year Tax Preparer
15:30 – Leveraging Your Money Wisely – The Importance of Monthly Statements
19:20 – 1099 VS W-2 : What?
23:40 – Minimizing Taxes
25:12 – Money Maxim from Eric and Contact Info

Money Maxim

Estevez Tax MM

“Know Your Numbers” – Budget, Net Worth, Income, Expenses
“If You Don’t Know Your Numbers, You Don’t Know Your Business”
Contacts and Links from the Show

www.EstevezTax.com – Eric Bookkeeping and Tax Prep Service

Estevez Tax’s core services are tax, bookkeeping, and payroll.  They also provide many other tax/accounting functions like estate, business valuations, etc.

1) Tax covers planning, estimated payments, preparation.

2) Bookkeeping services will provide monthly financials

3) Payroll

Drop FinancialGinger in your contact for a Discount!

www.JiuJitsuFinance.com – Eric’s Finance Blog

www.Saving-Sherpa.com – Look Up Justin’s Budget Worksheet

Some Book Recommendations from Eric Estevez
“Rich Dad, Poor Dad”,
“Think & Grow Rich”, and
“Awaken the Giant Within”

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What Recent Graduates Need to Know About Student Loan Repayment

Student Loan Repayment

Guest Post: from Dollar Diligence
For most college graduates, student loans are a fact of life.

Because the cost of a college degree has skyrocketed in recent years, student loans are necessary for a large number of students who would not otherwise be able to afford to obtain a degree.

Recent college graduates are nearing the end of what is known as the “grace period.” This is the six-month period of time after graduating or leaving school where a borrower does not have to make a payment on his or her student loans. After the grace period ends, a borrower will have to start making payments on his or her student loans.

That means that Class of 2017 graduates who received a diploma in April, May, or June, will soon receive their first student loan bills. It is critically important for these grads to understand the fundamentals of student loan repayment so they can be successful.

Learning more about student loans, including strategies for how to best pay off your loans, is vital to making informed decisions about your student loans moving forward.

Read on to learn the basics about what student loans are, your repayment options, and how you can take charge of your repayment schedule to pay them off more quickly.

 

Types of Student Loans

There are two types of student loans: federal student loans and private student loans. Federal student loans are offered by the government through the Department of Education. Private student loans are offered by private banks and lenders.

Federal student loans include both Direct Loans and Perkins Loans. With Direct Loans, the Department of Education is the lender. With Perkins Loans, the school is the lender.

There are three types of Direct federal student loans.

 

Direct Subsidized Loans

These are available to undergraduate students with a demonstrated financial need to help them pay for the cost of a degree at a college or career school. With subsidized loans, the government covers the cost of interest while the student is enrolled at least half-time in school, in a grace period, or during a period of deferment or forbearance.

 

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate, graduate or professional students. They are similar to subsidized loans, except that students do not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible, and students are responsible for interest on the loan.

 

Direct PLUS Loans

Direct PLUS Loans are available to graduate and professional students and to parents of dependent undergraduate students. Though the interest rates do not vary on these loans, the government will check to ensure that you do not have any serious adverse credit history before giving out the loan (such as bankruptcy).

All federal student loans have fixed interest rates, which means that the interest rate is the same for the life of the loan. The interest rate is the percentage that a bank or other lender charges you to loan you money. The higher the interest rate, the more money you will pay over time.  

 

Private Student Loans

There are two primary options with private student loans: those with fixed interest rates and those with variable interest rates. Variable interest rate loans tend to start out lower but can go up over time. Fixed interest rates are usually higher, but are more predictable.

Private student loans typically have higher interest rates and eligibility is based on creditworthiness. If a student does not have good credit or has no credit history at all, they can elect to add a cosigner to the loan who shares the responsibility of repayment.

It is always smart to max out federal student loans before taking out any private loans as they typically have fewer benefits and few options in the case of financial hardship.

 

Repayment Options

There are a number of options for repaying your student loans based on the type of student loan that you have (federal or private) and your current financial situation.

As mentioned, federal student loans are generally considered to be more favorable because they offer more generous repayment options, particularly for those struggling to meet their minimum monthly payments.

 

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

For borrowers with federal student loans, income-driven repayment plans are a good repayment option for anyone who does not currently have a high salary. This plan will cap your monthly student loan payment at a percentage of your monthly discretionary income, from 10 to 20 percent.

However, the standard federal student loan repayment term of 10 years will usually be extended around 20 to 25 years. At the end of that period, the remaining balance will be forgiven.

The benefit of an income-driven repayment plan is that it will immediately decrease the amount of money that you pay each month. However, because it extends the loan term, you will pay more in interest. You will also owe taxes on the amount that is forgiven.

 

Forbearance and Deferment

If your financial problems are temporary — for example, if you have been laid off or are suffering an illness — then you may be eligible for a forbearance or deferment of your federal or private student loans. Each of these options will put your student loans on “pause” while you cannot make payments.

For federal student loans, a deferment allows you to not make payments for up to three years. Forbearance for private student loans is available for up to 12 months. However, for both private student loans and unsubsidized federal loans, interest will continue to grow on your loan balance, which means that making this choice can result in owing more money on your student loans.

 

Student Loan Refinancing

For borrowers with multiple student loans, refinancing might be an option to help save money and reduce your interest rate. Refinancing your student loans is essentially applying for a new loan to pay off your private student loans, and if you choose, your federal student loans.

Borrowers can often obtain a lower, fixed interest rate by refinancing, which can help them save thousands of dollars in interest and pay off their loans more quickly. However, you should be aware that if you refinance your federal student loans along with your private student loans, you will lose the protections of the federal student loans, such as income-driven repayment plan options.

Refinancing requires that the borrower have a history of making on-time payments, a solid income and a credit score of at least 660.

 

Strategies for Repaying Student Loans

Paying off your student loans should be a top priority for recent college graduates, but it can be difficult to accomplish, particularly if you have a low starting salary. But by taking certain steps and working towards paying down your loans, you can achieve this goal.

Whenever possible, borrowers should pay extra money towards their student loans. This could be as little as $25 each month, or as much as $1,000. Each little bit can help to pay down the total amount owed on your student loans.  

Next, borrowers should take steps to reduce their interest rate. This can be accomplished through refinancing (described above), or often by signing up for automatic payments, or by making a certain number of on-time payments. Check with your lender to determine if they offer any incentives to reduce your interest rate.

Finally, borrowers should try to make extra payments whenever they can. A single extra payment each year can significantly reduce the total amount owed, and help you pay off your loan more quickly.

 

About The Author

Aside from his full-time job as a high school teacher, you can find Jacob blogging about personal finance, reading books about history, and figuring out which kind of puppy to get next. Follow him on Twitter to keep up with him! Or visit http://www.dollardiligence.com

 

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Ep20: TheGiftOfCollege – With Wayne Weber

Episode #20 TheGiftOfCollege – With Wayne Weber



Read more and listen more at www.FinancialGinger.com
Download This Episode

Wayne Weber Gift Of College

Bio: Wayne Weber is CEO and Founder of GiftofCollege.com, a company that revolutionizes college savings. He is passionate about providing families a simple and easy way to save for college tuition – bringing change to a complex process. Since 2008, Wayne has developed Gift of College into a social savings platform for parents, friends and communities with the aim of establishing the company as the leading gifting platform for college savings plans. Before founding GiftofCollege.com, Wayne led business development and sales efforts of software and hardware solutions for Fortune 500 companies including NCR Corporation and CDW. In 2007, Wayne founded Gimmepleez.com, a social savings platform that was the forerunner to his current company.

Show Description: Wayne and I talk about 529 College Savings Plans and ways pre-college, current college, and parents can help create a college fund both before and during and after college to pay for the cost of school.

ShowNotes:

0:58 – What is Gift Of College?
3:06 – How Gift Of College makes it easy to save for College
6:15 – 529’s What are those? (THIS IS IMPORTANT)
9:00 – Why 529’s are great for starting a child or teen’s saving account for school
10:20 – Additional benefits of college funds (Beyond money)
12:00 – How to create a 529 plan, or college fund
15:00 – Tax benefits for 529 College Plans!
16:45 – Ask your Employer to get involved
19:00 – Wayne’s Money Maxim
20:15 – Where to Find Gift Of College

Money Maxim

“Save Early, Save Often” – Wayne Weber

MM39 - GiftOfCollege

Contacts and Links from the Show

Give the Gift of College To Someone You Love from Nadine Perry on Vimeo.

Gift Of College’s Website

www.facebook.com/GiftOfCollege

www.Twitter.com/GiftOfCollege

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Ep13: Personal Financial Responsibility with Ryan Michler

Episode #13 Personal Financial Responsibility with Ryan Michler

A discussion on Personal Responsibility, Money Self-Talk, and Creating Value.




Download This Episode

Michler-Ryan-Bio-PictureBio: Ryan Michler – 11 years of experience in managing money as a financial planner since he returned from service in Iraq. He created Order of Man to give men a community and resource to become better at all facets of life, from self-mastery to family, from money to contribution, and everywhere in between. Find him on OrderOfMan.com

Show Description: Ryan Michler Founder of Order Of Man, is a Father and Husband. We discuss when to consider getting life insurance, taking personal responsibility for our finances, and relationship mindsets around money. You have to listen to this show, as many of its concepts can’t be read, but must be heard and felt.

ShowNotes:

  • 2:45 – Why and When should you consider Life Insurance?
  • 5:28 – When should you start saving money for retirement/mortgage/x?
  • 6:00 – Ryan explains responsibility and choices we have around money
  • 7:26 – Personal Responsibility
  • 7:37 – An Awesome example of reasonability and sacrifice, My Girlfriend.
  • 8:45 – What “Free” means
  • 9:49 – Why you’re being paid what you’re currently being paid
  • 11:00 – Ryan shares how he has improved his financial situation
  • 12:30 – Being Real and Authentic makes you valuable, solve problems
  • 12:50 – Prudence: Money Relationships with others
  • 14:38 – Money relationships: how you see other people
  • 16:25 – We talk about common misconceptions on spending money
  • 17:00 – Keys to Prudence
  • 19:30 – Side Hustles: How to ‘go-for-it’ properly
  • 21:50 – Growing Wealth
  • 23:11 – How to find Ryan Michler and the Order Of Man

Money Maxim

“Money is simply a measurement of perceived value” -Ryan Michler

MM32 - OrderOfMan
Becoming More Valuable To More People = More Wealth

Action Items

There’s nothing inherently wrong with spending money, but make sure you’re setting some aside for a rainy day, or in the case of a disaster like loss of a job, or a medical surprise, or an unexpected car accident or water heater breaking.

Create a mindset of saving, it carries on. Even if its $50 a month, start saving something now!

If you aren’t meeting your financial goals. Find a solution: be proactive in finding a better job, or finding a job, or working enough hours to make the money you want.

Avoid the perfectionist mentality: It’s impossible to be perfect, so don’t expect it. It’ll make finding work and becoming stronger and better easier.

When you become a parent, or get a mortgage, or another factor comes up where you have a financial responsibility left undone if you were to pass-away. Consider insurance and look at if it’s prudent to get

If you’re starting or considering a side-hustle. You must commit. No dabbling, or ‘trying’. Set high expectations of what you’re going to put in, and expect it to take longer than you think it’ll take.

In your business, Consider what the tactics are that you need to implement every day to make it work? Share them in the comments below!

Write out your thoughts on what you are doing and what you need to do to be a better catalyst in creating wealth and value. What is a catalyst? How are you a catalyst? What one skill could you improve upon? Who can teach you that skill? Who is your accountability partner you’ll report to on your progress? Drop a line in the comments below!

Listen to an episode of order of man, http://www.orderofman.com/about/ I encourage EVERYONE to listen to his podcast.

Contacts and Links from the Show

OrderOfMan.com

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Ep11: Taking Action With Technology – with Pluto Money

Ep11: Taking Action With Technology – with Pluto Money




Download This Episode Bios: Tim Yu and Susie Kim are the co-founders of Pluto Money, a mobile app making personal finance doable, engaging and approachable for the Snapchat generation. They met while at UCLA, and were inspired to start Pluto upon graduating because of the financial struggles they endured as college students. They’re on a mission to financially empower college students and other young people across the nation by leveraging technology, design and behavioral science.

Tim Yu - GoPluto FounderSusie Kim - GoPluto FounderShow Description: Today I talk with Pluto Money co-founders Susie Kim and Tim Yu’s financial troubles in college, and where they idea for Pluto Money came from. We talk about behavior around spending habits in College. We don’t start saving for retirement while we’ve got student debt and loans and school to pay for? So why do we save? What’s the purpose of it. GoPluto is an app being created by millennials for millennials, with the purpose of changing around you and your habits. As you age, you’re naturally going to have changes in your lifestyle and goals with your money. We talk about how Pluto helps you reach goals, manage your spending money, and start saving towards goals now, and future goals when you get there.

Join Tim and Susie on their first ever podcast, and also my first time having two guests simultaneously!

Shownotes:

  • Susie’s turning down acceptance to her dream Arts & Language program in London/Italy and why
  • Tim’s amazing internship with Expedia, and not saving any of it for the next school year
  • Pluto’s Target – Younger people with smaller amounts of Discretionary Income to spend better
  • 6:00 – The Mission of Pluto Money
  • 7:25 – Goal Based Saving
  • 8:20 – What Is Your Saving For?
  • 9:00 – Bite-Sized Steps to Reach Goals
  • 10:30 – Behavioural Finance
  • 12:00 – Motivation and Meditation
  • 13:20 – Where to Start – Don’t Get Overwhelmed, Keep it to One Thing At A Time
  • 15:00 – Opportunity Costs – Because You Can, Does It Mean You Should?
  • 17:05 – You Don’t Have To Know It All To Start
  • 18:26 – Pluto Money – Money around Millennial Lifestyle and Goals
  • 19:45 – Are College Kids Broke? It’s A Fallacy. We have 209 Billion dollars, just in college students
  • 20:15 – Details in How Pluto Works for You
  • 23:30 – Understanding Fixed and Variable Expenses
  • 24:45 – Realistic Goals for College Students (Don’t Save For Retirement in College, DUH)
  • 25:14 – Managing Money Is About Putting It Where It Matters
  • 26:15 –  Starting With Baby Steps
  • 27:18 – How Pluto Money App Works – The Heavy Lifting Done For You
  • 29:40 – Tips and Tricks behind Money from Tim and Susie For College Age / Recent Grads

Money Maxim

GoPluto - Maxim #30

“Spending To Be Happy Today Ain’t A Bad Thing, As Long As You’ve Got Enough To Be Happy Tomorrow” – Pluto Money

Action Items

  •  Stop saving money because you’re supposed to! Save for a pre-meditated purpose. Comment below with what you’re saving for! Or share it in in the Financial Ginger Facebook Group!
  • If you want to do better with money, First consider Why Do I Want to Be Better With Money? Write the answer down and put it somewhere you’ll see. Tweet it at me @FinancialGinger @GoPluto_io
  • What is something you want to take action on? Consider how much do you need to know to get started? Get that base amount and get going on it.
  • Start investing somewhere with a few dollars to get some practice in investing. Simple places to start include PlutoMoney along with -WealthFront, Betterment, Stash, and Acorns.
  • Finish your Degree!

Sign up here for GoPluto to get notified when Pluto’s invite-only beta launches on the App Store soon! Pluto truly simplifies how you manage your money. Automatically save for your goals when you complete simple, personalized challenges based on your finances Money Muscle

-Here’s an exclusive app invite code for you awesome TheFinancialGinger Podcast listeners: GOGINGER 

Contact and Links from Show

https://gopluto.io

[email protected] – Open to any questions, feedback, ideas or even just a hello!

Brian J Fog – Stanford Behavioural Research (creating habits)

Connect with Tim and Susie on:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/plutomoney

Twitter – www.twitter.com/gopluto_io

 

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EP9: A Dollar From Your Pocket – with Paul Vasey of Cash Crunch Games

Episode 9: A Dollar From Your Pocket – with Paul Vasey of Cash Crunch Games




Download This Episode

 

Bio: Paul Vasey, former teacher of business from the Uk, who is now living in the US working on financial literacy games after noticing that there was such a need for this overlooked and under rated life skill. Money is everywhere, we use it every day and are expected to be experts. If that was the case, there would be very little student debt credit card debt, fore closures and so on.

Currently has 2 games in the market – CashCrunch Junior – a physical board game for 7 to 12 year olds & CashCrunch 101 -an online game for ages 13 and upwards. Both games focus on learning the value of money, saving first, cashflow, budgets and making smarter decisions.

Show Description: Paul Vasey and I discuss Money Habits and some of the basic ideology of building savings and wealth. Simply Save First, Spend Later. We discuss Cash Crunch Games for kids and young adults and even college students and some practical ways to think about and spend in a more cognizant manner.

ShowNotes:

  • 1:03 – What is Cash Crunch Games?
  • 4:00 – Money Habits: Basic Money Skills People Learn
  • 4:30 – Basic Ideology of Passive Income
  • Over 50% of households can’t afford an unexpected bill of $500 of more
  • 40% of Americans spend more than their income each month
  • 5:35 – Join the Club: Save First, Spend Later
  • 6:45 – The Simplicity of Saving: A Dollar in Pocket
  • 8:18 – Anchoring: Mindset in Savings
  • 9:50 – Reasons We Overspend: Money Habits
  • 10:45 – How to Change Over Spending to Healthy Spending
  • 12:20 – Formula to Calculate Your Hourly Wage Quickly
  • 12:45 – The Question: Is It Worth My Time for This, Not Is It Worth This Money
  • 14:23 – Savings Is Investing Your Time In Yourself
  • 14:40 – Attitude “Spending Time” or “Investing Time”
  • 16:05 – Saving Is A Habit And Muscle, Strengthened Like A Gym
  • 17:45 – Start with little things. Empty your pockets!
  • 18:10 – It’s Not About the Number, It’s About the Habit
  • 19:50 – The Power of Habit Explained
  • 21:02-22:11 – An Exercise With Your Money: Try This At Home!
  • 23:00 – Cash Crunch Junior: Applied Learning Tools for Kids
  • 24:30 – Basic Principles Of Finance
  • 27:15 – Teaching Life Skills

Money Maxim

Save First Spend Later

 

“You Can’t Spend The Same Dollar Twice” – Paul Vasey

Action Items

  • Start saving $100 (or your choice, $10, $25, $50, $500) a month more than you currently are. Create a second bank account, or an extra checking account for that money. Make it a challenge with a friend to see who can save the most in a set period of time! (Loser pays for bowling!)
  • Quickly calculate your hourly wage. Take 3 zeros off the end and divide in 2. ($60,000 a year = 60 /2 = $30 an hour roughly).
  • Consider your next few purchases with that wage in mind. Is it worth that much of your time for this object/experience?
  • Consciously think about time you “Spend”, start thinking about how you’re “Investing” that time. Comment what that means to you below!
  • Take Your Monthly Income in Monopoly Money and Show Your Kids Where It Goes. (Physically show them!) It’ll help them learn about money.
  • Try Out Cash Crunch Games Online Version of their game!
Save First, Spend Later – Paul Vasey @CashCrunchGames Click To Tweet

Contacts and Links from the Show

Cash Crunch Games – WebsitePlay The Simple Online Version

CashCrunch Connect:

Rich Dad Poor Dad – Book

7Twelve Portfolio – Craig D Israelson

The No-Cash Allowance – Teaching Your Children How To Manage Money Practically

 

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The Basic Financial Plan

Basic Plan

A frequent question that people ask their one financial friend all the time is, “What should I expect when…” and the next bit is usually the part about getting a new job, or paying for a house, or what a good interest rate looks like for a car. Sometimes these questions are about saving for retirement, what a realistic return is for their 401(k), and how they should prepare to retire. Occasionally the question is “why is it important that…” or “Do I really need…” of course the answer is usually yes.

“Yes if you save younger it’ll make it so you can retire easier”, “Yes, Life Insurance is beneficial for most people who have dependents or debt like a mortgage”. The fact that you’re asking, is a sign you have a general idea of what you should be doing.

I figured I’d try to compile a bunch of basic principles that will get any individual to retirement in a relatively save and aware way. The purpose here is to help you set your expectations of what you need to do and understand in order to have enough money to one day be able to say, “You know what? I don’t need a job anymore, and I can live the rest of my life off of my own money.”

 

There are three basic parts of our financial life: Saving, Investing, and Diversifying.

First: Saving

Everyone hears a ton about saving, so I’m not going to hash why you should save any more. Just a few stats. The average person that should retire, (I.e. is 65+ years of age), only has about $80,000 according to Dr. Craig Israeleson of UVU. The Motley Fool recently found numbers could be potentially as high as $148,000 for those between 65 and 75.

Why does that matter to you as a 20-30 year-old? Here’s why, those people that can’t retire, they are holding your jobs. Once they retire, everyone down the line can start moving up.

The amount you save will directly relate to how much money you have for retirement. Many experts recommend saving 10% of your income, Dr. Craig Israelson, who performs research and analysis on portfolio theory, and investment returns suggested in a lecture at UVU that many millennials should adopt a rate of 15% of savings for retirement. Once you graduate and get that first job, immediately start saving 15% of every dollar you earn for retirement, and according to the experts, you’ll be very much secure for retirement.

Second: Investing

Being a Millionaire has nothing to do with income, but everything to do with Net Worth. Think about how time affects the value of money. Its been exhaustively said, so you can just google it, but the difference between the same $5,000 invested at the age of 25 and invested at 50 when you’re 65 is dramatic and exponential.

Consider a Crockpot. Have you ever gone to church on a beautiful Sunday morning, come back in the afternoon, and decided, “I want a nice roast and potatoes for dinner” then set the crock pot at 5pm for dinner at 6?

If you have, you should seriously reconsider your dining experiences. Waiting until “Later” to save if you’re not in school, is the same as setting the crock pot a-cookin’ after church, instead of the morning of, so it can simmer and soak in goodness all day.

Investing: I’m sold, but WHERE?

This is where everyone says, “Jacob, you’ve sold me on this. Where do I put my money?”

Betterment is an amazing place to invest your money. Acorns isn’t half bad either. Wealthfront is a newer online investment site that utilizes algorithms, often called a robo-advisor(LINK TO 7 TYPES OF INVESTMENT ADVISORS), and your risk to make your money grow too, and its free for portfolios smaller than $15,000. It’s also not hard to go directly through a major company like Schwab, Fidelity, or VanGuard.

Part of your portfolio (your money for retirement), will be in your 401(k) at work. You’d better be matching that sucker to 100% of the matching contribution, because if not, that’s free money you’re missing out on. Make sure the limit of up to $5,500 a year beyond your 401(k) is going into an IRA with whatever advisor you’re using, because that can create some tax savings. Then, any above that can go into either a personal brokerage account through your investing institution or other more complex retirement accounts you can work with a professional on. (The secret is to get started).

Third: Diversify

Here is where I’m going to teach you some amazing truths about investing. If you’re invested in 10 different things and they are all going up by exactly 6% a year. There is some serious issues. That means all of your investments are perfectly correlated, which means if they drop one year by 40% (cough 2008) then they are all dropping. A good portfolio has uncorrelated assets. Meaning that at least part of the time, when one is going up, another will be going down. Some parts of the global economy will be having rough weeks or days or years, while others have awesome times, then 5 years down the road it’ll switch. Because the market is unpredictable, meaning that it’s impossible to know exactly what will happen, a diversified portfolio that has a little bit of money in all types of markets is proven to generally outperform any one specific investment type.

Three Analogies: Baseball, Salsa, and Cereal

Imagine that stocks are like baseball players. If one stock bats at .365 and another bats at .127 but only hits home runs, you want a little bit on both players! According to portfolio theory, the more batters you have, the higher your average becomes, while reducing variance. Stocks bat at about .700 and bonds bat at about .960. Enough to be in the hall of fame for any baseball player in the history of ever.

So, what does this mean? It means you should put money in stocks, put some in bonds, put some in Mutual Funds that use active aggressive algorithms and research to try to find opportune moments to buy and sell stocks to make you money, use some passive ETFS that just automatically balance 50 or 100 stocks in a particular category like large healthcare companies, or medium growth companies that pay dividends.

Imagine this investing like making Salsa. If you invest in the S&P 500, sure, you have some diversity, but you just purchased 500 different types of tomatoes. Of course, you can’t invest in the S&P500 but you can invest in ETFs and mutual funds that invest in it. So, if you invest in some large cap stocks for your tomatoes, then you buy some bonds for your onions, purchase some commodities for your cilantro, and so on and so forth, you’re going to be making a good salsa.

In fact, experts have shown that the recipe (allocation) of your salsa (investments) accounts for 94% of the deliciousness (returns) in them. Meanwhile, the ingredients (actual funds and investments) only account for less than 6% of the taste (return). Using a great recipe for salsa makes better salsa then just getting good ingredients, but having an awful recipe. If you have perfect ingredients, but the wrong recipe? You’re not even making salsa any more.

Many people have told me, “I’m invested in a mutual fund, I’m diversified”, or “I’m invested in an ETF” or “Target-date Fund”. Well, yes, this is diversity, but it’s the 200 types of tomatoes diversity. Think about Cereal boxes. Do you remember those funny boxes that had 8 miniature boxes inside of them? This is how you should think about a mutual fund. Each box of cereal is a specific investment, the Mutual Fund, or ETF, or Target Date Fund, is the whole package. It choose those 8 investments and said, “here’s a good deal”. If you choose a Mutual Fund for 12 different asset classes: Large Stock, Small Stock, Mid stock, non-us stock, emerging markets, real estate, resources, commodities, US bonds, TIPS, non-US bonds, and Cash, you’d have a pretty awesome set of cereals.

You will have created a beautiful portfolio, a fund of funds of funds. That is a recipe for success, that now only needs your savings added.

 

Remember your basic financial plan.

  • Save (now)
  • Invest (all of it above emergency funds and short term purchase plans)
  • Diversify (so 2008 doesn’t get you)
  • Retire (at 45, okay maybe not, but still retire)

You’ll thank yourself later (about the retiring side of it, and the stressful side of it, and the peaceful side of it)

 

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7 Types of Financial Companies

There are 7 basic types of firms that provide financial assistance, support, guidance, education, investments, and solutions/products.

There are Registered Investment Advisors (RIA), Broker Dealers (B/D), Insurance Companies, Robo Advisors, Accounting firms, Tech Companies, and Discount Broker Dealers.

First we have our Registered Investment Advisors. These are, as a general rule, partnerships or smaller corporations that manage the overall financial situation of clients, and in some cases institutional investors as well. They must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for each individual state that they have clients in.  An RIA Financial Advisor will conduct information gathering, Risk tolerance, and spend time getting to know your goals and needs. Most of the time they also educate a client as to what the implications are of making different financial decisions. One of my favorite things about an RIA, is that many of them will be full service. They’ll help with investments, real estate, insurance, estate planning, power of attorneys, wills, and more. They may outsource part of it, or bring in an expert to do estate planning, etc. But they keep you aware of the broad scope of protecting, growing, and sheltering your money. You may not have heard of any of these, but here are some RIA’s: Geneva Advisors, HighTower Advisors, Mill Creek Capital Advisors, Ferguson Wellman Capital Management, Swan Global Investments, and True North Advisors.

Broker/ Dealers are those companies that are like The Wolf of Wall Street. I mean, except that fact that they aren’t awful money laundering devils. They call people to sell them financial products, usually in the form of stocks or bonds. Investment advice is given, and they range from small boutique firms to large commercial companies and investment banks. The difference between an RIA and a Broker/Dealer is a B/D historically purchases their own securities (stocks and bonds and other products) and then sells them to the customer, whereas an RIA buys securities on the client’s behalf. The Broker of a B/D is buying and selling on behalf of clients, the Dealer side is when the company trades their own securities. Examples of Broker/Dealers include Raymond James, Wells Fargo, AXA, Waddell & Reed, Voya, and Edward Jones

Insurance Companies usually deal with just that… Insurance! Northwestern Mutual, Geico, Allstate, State Farm, Progressive, Farmers, Liberty Mutual, and New York Life are a few examples. Most of the ones that have huge TV ads. There isn’t much else to say. These companies are very important, and having specialized skills in specific insurances can be very beneficial in reducing premiums and having quicker turnaround times when claims are made. Some RIA’s and B/D’s will have specific individuals/teams in their group that specialize in either selling insurance, or working with insurance companies to get your insurance. One thing I like is how an RIA can work with many insurance companies, whereas an agent for a specific company only sells that Insurance. Some insurance agents will be licensed with several companies and can sell you policies from different companies depending on your needs.

The way of the future is Robo-Advisors. The basic concept here is that you can break down risk tolerance and needs into numbers, and computers can then spit out information about what you should do, or you can authorize a computer to auto-invest and rebalance and work out your investments for you based on your information you give it. Very smart people back these up and as a result of mass users for one program it can be cheaper to use a Robo. Remember though, that holes are usually left, and Robo’s can only do so much.

Tech companies are companies that leverage tech with finance. Lending Club is an example of that. You add money that is utilized in creating loans that then pay you back as the person pays back lending club. Robinhood is a financial app that has free stock trades. Stripe is a payment taking company. Some finance companies create platforms for making trades like TDAmeritrade or TradeKing, (though some may be better classified as Robo-Advisors, depending on how they are used). Some create plateforms for financial planning, like MoneyGuidePro, or SilverTree, that allow you to maintain and track financial data and policies for insurance and estate documents all in one location. One company local to Utah is TradeWarrior, which can auto rebalance any portfolio while taking specific needs and illiquid assets into account.

Accounting Firms are our next stop. These are a finance tracking type of company for businesses and self-employed individuals. They may provide book keeping for paying employees, create budgets and financial statements for companies, and also deal with tax-returns. I suppose they are for everyone in the sense of tax-returns, many individuals go to accounting-firms for taxes, though some companies will specifically only do taxes. Beyond the actual tax returns, accounting firms can help consult on risk management and tax implications of certain operations.

The last of the seven is Discount Broker/Dealers. These are just really really low-cost Broker/Dealers. Think Fidelity, and Vanguard. Vanguard is the most notorious of all of these, as the regularly create huge market changes. Some of their funds will have expense ratios of 8 Bips, which to be simple is nearly three times cheaper than most funds to invest in.

Which ones you’ll want to work with depend on your needs, interests, comfort, and knowledge surrounding the individual companies. Many people want to lump all companies in one category as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘lazy’ or ‘smart’, but the truth is, there are losers and winners all around. You just have to find someone who is trust worthy, and has a good track record of helping people achieve their goals.

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Auto Insurance: What’s Inside The Paperwork?

Your Auto Insurance has six main parts

Part A: Liability Coverage

Part B: Medical Payments Coverage

Part C: Uninsured Motorists Coverage

Part D: Coverage for Damage to Your Auto

Part E: Duties after an Accident or Loss

Part F: General Provisions

Woah, what? Let’s break it down.

Part A: Liability

This is how much the Insurer will pay out for any damage you as the insured become legally responsible for. Most of these have Split Limits, and Example of which would be 250/500/100

These three numbers show how much the insurance company pay for what damages.

The first number is bodily injury coverage per person maximum, the second is maximum amount coverage for bodily injuries per accident and the third is property damage.

For 250/500/100 that means $250,000 in coverage per person, up to $500,000 total per accident, and up to $100,000 in property damage; Remember that these are only for amounts you as the insured are liable for.

If you are on the policy, you are insured, plus your family, plus anyone you legally allow to use the vehicle. This is why it’s often beneficial to consider a temporary insurance policy on a vehicle for another to use it, so your insurance isn’t liable if they get in an accident.

Part B: Medical

Within 3 years of an accident, insurance companies promise to cover medical and funeral expenses caused by the accident. Surgery, Dental, X-Rays, etc, can be covered here. There are limits, some place a limit of $1000 per person, others could be $10,000. This coverage is specifically for the insured person being injured. This wouldn’t be like Coverage A, where the company is paying for your damages to others, this is for damage to you and your family.

This is regardless of fault, so even if you are found at fault, you will still get this coverage on your policy.

Part C: Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Coverage

If you get hit by another vehicle, and it’s found to be their fault then you’re fine, right? What if they have no coverage. Remember that Coverage A only is your fault to others. The point of Uninsured Motorist Coverage is that if another person hits you without insurance, your insurance company will pay for your coverage. In some states, the percentage of drivers that are uninsured can be as high as 20! (Insurance Research Council, Recession Marked by Bump in Uninsured Motorists, News Release, April 21, 2011)

The maximum amount for these is frequently the same as your Part A coverage , but your policy can say differently.

Part D: Damages to your Auto

This is the part of your policy that says “Collision” and/or “Comprehensive” coverage.

Collision: This is when your car overturns on icy roads, or you find your car fender dented after a grocery trip. These are paid no matter who is at fault.

Comprehensive: Seperated from collision because some don’t want to pay for collision insurance, a comprehensive need is when there is a fire, theft, riot, or windstorm. Additionally this covers damages for riots, for a bird or animal breaking your car, flood and hail, or an earthquake damaging your vehicle.

Part E: Your Duties

This part in your insurance policy explains what you are required to do to obtain your coverages. There are some things you should do, like call an ambulance, the police, and get the other drivers information, but requirements from insurance companies may include: Not admitting fault, Notify your insurance company within a certain time limit, cooperating with their investigation, sending in legal paperwork in a timely manner, taking a physical exam, authorizing the insurer to obtain your medical records, and taking reasonable actions to protect your vehicle from further harm after the initial accident.

Basically, you need to cooperate with your insurance, or they aren’t required to cover your losses. That’s why a lot of online companies are harder to get coverage from, because they aren’t your personal advocate that you know or have met. It’s always nice to get auto insurance from someone you’re able to contact freely, and whom you honestly feel you can trust.

Part F: General Provisions

Provisions are details about your policy that include the ways you and your insurer can end your policy and also endorsements for your policy.

A policy has 4 ways of being ended.

  • Cancellation: simply return your policy and give a written notice that you’re done, the insurer can cancel a policy too within 60 days of giving it and giving you a 20 day notice. After 60 days they can cancel your policy if you haven’t paid, have had your license suspended or revoked, or you were deceitful in any way on your application.
  • Nonrenewal: at the end of your coverage period, the insurer can decide to not renew your policy.
  • Automatic: at the end of each insurance period, if the insurer renews, but you don’t accept the renewal, then your policy will automatically end.
  • State rules: many individual states have laws that change up the first 3, or extend time periods for renewals. It’s important to check your state laws for specific auto policy termination rules.

Endorsements are modifications to your policy. The most common being a motorcycle endorsement. Many companies adjust how much physical coverage they will have, or will have huge premiums they will only reduce when you remove or change certain coverages on a motorcycle.

To get your information simply call your auto insurer and request your coverage information. Tell them you want to see all the endorsements, riders, and Parts A-F of your insurance, and not just the fact sheet, though that can be simple and helpful too.

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The Worst Financial Mistake I’ve made + 2 Keys to Consider in Going to College

So, I’m Jacob Brad Johnson, I’m a ginger, I’m a Personal Financial Planner major at Utah Valley University(UVU), but was a Computer Science major at Brigham Young University (BYU) for 3 semesters before.

High School

After I graduated High School and I applied for many schools with my 3.86 GPA and 30 ACT score, I figured it’d be a cinch to get scholarships. I wanted to go to BYU, I wanted to study computers.

4 years later, I was wrong, and the worst financial mistake of my life was made.

“Congratulations Jacob on your submission to Utah Valley University,” the letter began. Later on it exclaimed these proud words, “The University would love to extend the Presidential Scholarship to you as you attend… This scholarship is renewable each year pending academic resilience each school year”

Presidential! I looked it up, screaming with delight at what I saw. This scholarship included full tuition, books, and partial housing reimbursement ($300 a month or something, as I recall for the housing portion).
2 days later I was reading another letter from BYU, my dream school. “You have been accepted to Brigham Young University, beginning Summer of 2012,” The words jumped out at me. YES! I’m IN!
I read the rest.
Reread it.
One last time to check for errors.
There was no scholarship, no anything. Oh. wait.
Nope, nothing. I received notification via email a few days later that I’d received a $300 book scholarship per semester for being a relative of some person who’d made a large scholarship fund for his descendants. That was good. ‘good’.

You Already Know What I Did

This is the moment where you all already know what happened. “Jacob, you’re such an idiot”, “What were you thinking!” “…” or other thoughts may have passed through your head.
Here’s the kicker, I had a 1/2 tuition scholarship to anywhere in the state because of the New Century Scholarship program, for graduating High School with an Associate Degree from a University. I’d have been PAID to go to UVU.

Mistake is made. BYU was attended. Computer Science studied. After a few years I didn’t like it. It wasn’t my cup of tea. Ended up transferring. Where to?

Back to Utah Valley University, studying Personal Financial Planning, sans scholarship.

Now, Money mistakes are a super common occurence, and there are much bigger mistakes that one can make (I’m talking more than $40,000 decisions). When you make one of those, you’ll know.

Do These 2 Things Before You Choose Your University

1. Know your Major. 

If you haven’t determined your major, how will you know what school is best? BYU had a better computer science program. UVU has a better Financial Planning major. If you still aren’t sure, try going to a community college or other cheaper college. Why pay the price of the expensive colleges when you can get the undergrad cheap at your local community college? It sometimes may make sense to get your associates from a different school before going to the one you’ve chosen to attend for your bachelor’s or higher degree.

If you don’t know which major to choose, or are struggling between a few, Act on THIS article I wrote recently. Basically, its how to get the thoughts and who you are down on paper to make decisions easier and with more knowledge out loud.

2. Know your scholarships. What are the implications of attending your school of choice? How will you pay for it? UVU gave me scholarships, BYU didn’t. Do you have to take on debt, is the cost that significant.

Will your major pay for the cost of going to school?  You need to know How Much Your Degree Makes to consider how much debt you could take on if you don’t have the scholarships.

Here is what I mean: Determine how much income your major going to bring, and how much debt it’ll take. Can that justify the debt you would get from going to the more expensive school? Here are 8 majors that just don’t justify their cost.

What’s your biggest financial mistake you’ve made! Share your confession with me here or tweet it at me @FinancialGinger and I’ll make it into a post you’ll see featured on my twitter and Facebook.

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The Ultimate Cost Saver in College: 4 steps

My father during his last semester of college told my mom, “Wait… I don’t want to major in business. I want to be a chef”.

Needless to say, he didn’t go to chef school. Many of us spend years bouncing around in majors of college and end up with all this needless classwork.

This is the key to saving both Time and Money in college.

Get the Right Major the First Time

This is easier than it sounds. First, you need a vision. If you don’t have one, use this nifty little template. (Jokes, that’s a link to my article about writing a vision statement)

But seriously, the most important thing in deciding your major is knowing who you REALLY are. Who are you? What makes you tick? Figure that out.

Here’s the process:

  1. Lists about you
  2. Interviews
  3. Comparison Charts
  4. Have 1 “figure-it-out” semester

This is the process I used to break into my major quickly. The reason it’s so good in saving you money is because of the time you spend going to college. Sure, earning a couple scholarships for $400 or $500 a piece is great, but if you can go to school for 2 semesters less because you didn’t change a major, then you just saved 2 semesters of tuition which is average about $9-10,000 dollars.

Here is, The Ultimate Cost Saver in College.

Step 1: Lists

List out 20 majors you’re interested in.

List out 20 Jobs you could enjoy doing.

It’s important to get to a larger number, so you really consider things you actually enjoy. Everyone is able to find 3 or 4 things they like, but can you get 20? Narrow it down to a top 5. Maybe a trusted friend, or therapist, or coach, or school counselor could help you narrow the list down a bit.

My Step 1: I was deciding what I wanted to do with my life after finishing a 2 year service mission in New Zealand.  The starting list included skills with dancing (I was a 4th place Titleist in Youth-American-Smooth at BYU Nationals in Ballroom in 2013), a love for computers, good conversational skills (I hope), loving people, loving group interactions, breaking ideas into pieces, loving competition and other factors. It was easy to identify event planning, financial services, and global supply chain management as 3 possible majors, among others.

Step 2: Interviews

Find people in each industry that you know (or don’t!) and interview them. This is cake. Ask people on social media, google companies that work in that industry, it’s not too hard to find someone. Most respectable people will give you 15 minutes to interview them.

You need good questions: Here is a basic list:

What makes your job worth it?

How did you end up working in this industry?

How much do people get paid working in your industry?

How do you help people?

What are the best certifications or skills to learn success?

What personality types work well in this industry?

How do you get into the industry running fast?

Is this a 40 hour a week job? How much time do you need to invest to achieve excellence?

Interviewing  5 people in each industry will give you a good way to benchmark what they enjoy, pros and cons, income levels, what they hate, skills they utilize frequently, career path and progression, and other little details you want to know.

My Step 2: After calling up a few old friends, and posting on Facebook about wanting to talk to professionals in these areas (in separate posts on different days. Posting a list of things on Facebook gets zero responses. and you want more than zero), I was able to interview a few event planners, financial planners, and a few supply chain management experts. The leader of my service mission (over 200+ of us missionaries) was a supply chain expert for UPS during his working days, my old dance partners father is a financial planner, and a man from my church back home is a very successful event planner. This grew into more interviews. My Girlfriend sent me to the finance guy for her company at a local Edward Jones branch. My interviews grew and grew and I really learned the good, the bad, and the ugly of each industry.

Step 3: Compare

If you’ve read many of my articles, you’ve probably seen that I often say “Ask your friend, boss, etc to shorten down this list with you.” or “Ask your friend if that’s really you”.

Same here! Ask people what they think, and maybe make a weighted list or pros and cons for each, then weight how important that is to you. Then you can almost make a weighted average of how important it is.

My Step 3: I didn’t make a weighted list for this (Such a Hypocrite, ae?) but I’ve done this with many projects. Deciding where to spend money, choosing to live at home or live on my own during college, If I should paint my room blue on the top half or blue on the bottom half, and other ‘very important’ decisions, or less important decisions.

 Step 4: It’s okay to have a “Figure-it-out” semester

Maybe it’d be good to take one semester and take 1 or 2 classes in each major you’ve picked. It’s also a great time to talk to counselors and teachers and continue working on clarifying step 3 (compare) and spend more time on step 2 (interviews).

Realize that rushing through college isn’t fun. There are scholarships you can get while in school, there are lots of governmental aid that you can get, and there is college life. Do you really want to be out of school in the big world at 21? Consider studying abroad, finding side hustle opportunities, start a business, do something epic during school time. Summer is the opportunity to work at a hotel in Alaska, work on a fishing boat on the sea, working in hospitality in Australia, or building up certifications, skills, and hobbies that can contribute to your overall balance in life.

Remember,

Lists, Interviews, Comparison tables, and Take a semester to figure it out.

Jacob Johnson

The Financial Ginger