On this special Father’s Day episode, we chat with Darrell and Allison Perry, a father-daughter duo! We hear from Darrell, the father of Allison on how he raised his two kids, advice he has given them in regards to finances and how that influenced Allison so far in her life. You won’t want to miss what they have to say!
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Have you ever spent an obscene amount of time researching and crafting the perfect budget, only to give up on it a week later like a poorly executed diet plan? Do you find yourself trying to stick to your budget but your inner Donna Meagle just won’t let you?
If the answer is yes, you’re not alone! Only about a third of Americans actually make and maintain a budget (Yikes!). Being a college student newly introduced to the world of ‘adulting,’ I have tried countless methods in an attempt to set myself financially free. Here are some tips and tricks that have made my life easier (and hopefully yours, too).
- Find an app or budgeting system that works for you.
Mint and EveryDollar are great apps that allow you to budget and track your expenses. BUT, in case you want more options, Buzzfeed has already found, rated, and summarized 17 other apps to help you stay accountable. Other ways you can budget include Excel Spreadsheets, good old fashion pen and paper on templates like this template, journals, whiteboards, and more. You’ll want to make your budget before the month starts and adapt the budget to each month. Whether you’re picking up a side hustle in summer time or celebrating birthdays, you’ll need to account for everything! At the end of each month, see where you overspent and try to improve your budget for the next month ahead.
- Get a calendar, find a place to hang it where you’ll see it, and fill in the boxes.
Add your bills, the due dates, pricier events like birthdays, etc. to help you organize your expenses. It takes some time, but it’s totally worth it! If you have a fluctuating income, you could even add your day-to-day earnings on the calendar. This will help you visualize your month ahead and show you how much you need to have in your account by the next bill. Not to mention the satisfaction you’ll have when you get to cross out that bill for the month! If you want a more private alternative to this, create events with this information in your phone’s calendar and set reminders for yourself.
- If you can, try to pay cash!
I’m not suggesting you carry your entire life savings on you but try to keep only what you budgeted to spend for the day. This will force you to stay on target, and you won’t have to deal with credit card interests if you use cash! People tend to spend more money when they use a debit or credit card compared to when they use cash. With cash, you can look directly at what you have left and adjust your spending habits accordingly.
Another reason why paying with cash can be helpful is all the loose change you’ll accumulate! You can keep these coins to yourself and cash them in at a later time for cash, or gift cards if you want to avoid fees. If you choose the cash option, you can turn that coin fund into an extra savings fund for your personal goals. You’ll be surprised how quickly coins add up.
- Find a way to organize your cash.
Some people like Dave Ramsey’s method of using envelops, but that’s not the only way. Another easy way to organize cash is by purchasing a hanging shoe organizer and put labels on each pocket with different budget categories such as groceries, gas, rent, clothing, etc. You could hang this in your closet, your office, or anywhere you feel would be safe. This cash should be for short-term purchases, not for your emergency fund or savings goals. For that money, I recommend a safe savings account. You can find a good savings account here.
- Lastly, don’t be afraid to say no.
In the beginning, budgeting will be difficult because you’ll have to tell yourself no more often—especially compared to your friends that don’t budget. Does this mean you have stay home all day and watch re-runs of the Office instead of hanging out with your friends?
Of course not! There are plenty of free-to-low-cost ways to have fun. If you’re running low on your recreational fund, try some of these. Not only will this help you stay on track, but it will challenge you to do something different. Also, saying no lets you say yes later. Instead of spending money on late night trips to Taco Bell, you can put that money towards a short-term savings goal like a road trip!
These tips have made me perfect my budgeting habits, and they may help you conquer the budget! If you need more ideas, Pinterest and Google will be your best friends. Just remember that the hardest part about budgeting is keeping yourself accountable and accepting that you’ll make mistakes. You will fail. You will adapt. You will overcome. Be patient and find a system that works for you. Your current self and future self will thank you!
Article Contributed By: Kianna Dalton
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Welcome back! Hopefully you read my last article, where I discussed three reasons why considering life insurance should be a priority. If one of these reasons resonated with you, or you have one of your own, I want to give some thoughts as to the different types of life insurance. Broadly, there are two categories: term insurance and permanent insurance.
Term insurance is simple – you pay an annual premium for the number of years in the term, and, other than a few exceptions, the insurance company will pay your beneficiary the death benefit if you were to die during the term of the policy. For example, I own a 20 year term policy, running from 2018 to 2038. If I were to die in 2030, my wife would receive the $1,000,000 death benefit, tax-free.
Permanent insurance is a little more complex. Within the category of permanent insurance, there are several types, but we will focus on the two main “flavors.”
First, there is “protection-based” permanent insurance. Protection-based permanent insurance is designed to provide a death benefit for your entire life. Instead of securing a death benefit for a 20 year period, this kind of policy can provide a death benefit to your beneficiary regardless of how long you live.
Second, there is “accumulation-based” permanent insurance. It also has a death benefit, but is really designed to grow cash value within an account housed at the insurance company. A portion of the premium you pay goes to cover the cost of your death benefit, a portion goes to the insurance company’s operating expenses, and a portion goes into an account for you. As you pay premiums, the cash in the account grows. Depending on the strategy of distributions, you can leverage this cash value in tax-advantaged ways.
So you are probably thinking…why wouldn’t I always buy permanent insurance over term, as it has much more benefit?
You guessed it: permanent insurance is more (and can be much more) expensive than term insurance. But, most millennials are at a point in their financial journey where permanent insurance is not only too expensive, but is unnecessary. You are likely better off focusing on maximizing your contributions to tax-advantaged accounts like a 401(k) or IRA, but also securing term insurance to protect your finances. (And, if you remember from the last article, term insurance sometimes can be converted into permanent insurance!)
Remember: the cheapest day to buy life insurance was yesterday. If you just need term coverage, you are in good company. If you can afford permanent coverage, that may be a better fit. Either way, make sure you are protecting the financial plan you work so hard to build.
Want more information on life insurance? Let’s talk! Face The Fear is here to help millennials make smart financial decisions that fit their lifestyle.
Article Contributed By: Xavier Serrani
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New Year, New You — am I right? As you start to prepare for 2019 to be your best year yet (and vow to actually USE your gym membership for more than a month), don’t forget about getting your financial sh*t together, too. Even if you don’t feel like you’re in a good place with your cash money, now is the perfect time to assess what money mistakes you’ve made in the past, what financial goals you have for the future, and how you’ll start taking baby steps to get there.
For those procrastinators out there who wish they’d started investing/saving/budgeting earlier in life (myself included), it’s not too late! Hear me out: starting today is WAY better than never starting at all — or even waiting a year from now and having the same conversation with yourself all over again (not a cute #ThrowbackThursday moment).
So as we gaze longingly to the year ahead (or at least longingly at that last remaining Christmas cookie calling your name), let’s look at 5 ways you can get your finances in check during 2019:
- Open a Retirement Account (and start contributing to it)
This is important. You know this is important. But, it doesn’t seem like a top priority when you’ve got student loans, credit card debt, and bills knocking at your door today, and retirement is still decades away. You’ve still got plenty of time to save up, right? Wrong.
Let’s use a little analogy. Every year before Christmas, you have a mental conversation with yourself that goes something like this: “I really should get my Christmas shopping done early this year. That way I don’t have to stress about it later….Eh, I’ve got plenty of time, I’ll get around to it.”
Suddenly, you wake up and it’s December 24th (how did that happen??). You now have to enter beast mode to somehow find, buy, and wrap presents for all 287 members of your family in 24 hours — putting Santa himself to shame.
While pulling off this Christmas magic may be possible (think: STRESSFUL), it’s not the end of the world. Your retirement savings, on the other hand, is a different story. You really only have one shot to make sure you’ve got enough buckaroos saved up, so when you’re ready to leave the office and spend the rest of your life on a beach, you don’t have to worry about running out of money. Right now, time is on your side, so START NOW. (You’ll thank me later.)
If you’re wondering where to go to open a retirement account (and what to do with it once it’s started), listen to our latest podcast episode with Retirement Investment Advisor, Erin Martin!
2. Boost Your Retirement Account (if you’ve already got one)
You may have breezed past #1 thinking, “Well, that’s easy! I already have a retirement account that I’m contributing to like a real adult.” First of all, CONGRATS! You’re #winning.
Second of all, it’s time to supercharge that bad boy (like Vin Diesel hitting the NOS in Fast and Furious).
One way to do this is by upping the percentage of your paycheck that you’re putting away for retirement savings. Simply increasing your contributions 1% per year (hardly a noticeable difference to your take-home pay), you might be AMAZED by how quickly your retirement savings compounds over time. To make things even easier, many plans allow you to select an automatic escalation feature, which will bump up your percentage each year without any effort on your part. Nice.
3. Make a Budget You Can Actually Stick To
Remember that one time you made a detailed budget that lasted for a solid two days before you blacked out during an Amazon shopping spree? Same.
The problem with a lot of budgets (and New Year’s resolutions for that matter) is that they are very optimistic, but not always realistic. I’m not saying you need to lower your financial goals. But, instead of trying to pay off all debt overnight while also saving 50% of every paycheck, simply develop practical mini-goals that can be maintained long-term. For example, try implementing one new budgeting strategy each month in 2019. January, put $10 per week in savings. February, continue setting aside the $10, but also aim to eat out only once per week. In March, keep the first two month’s strategies going, while adding another practical goal that bumps you even further in the right direction. By the end of the year, your budgeting baby steps will snowball into a realistic, maintainable financial lifestyle.
P.S. If you’re not already using a budgeting app like Mint, what are you doing? Seriously. Go download it right now. It’s a free app that allows you to manage your checking and savings accounts, investments, credit cards, retirement plan, and bills all in one place. Say goodbye to budgeting on boring Excel spreadsheets forever (unless that’s your thing — you do you, boo boo).
4. Give Gifts that Make Cents
Christmas is officially over, which means your finances are probably in recovery mode after a month of generous gift giving. While there’s nothing quite like the feeling of finding the PERFECT gift for your loved ones, the feeling might be quickly overshadowed by the feeling of doom when you check your bank account. Yikes.
Since you can’t avoid the gazzillion birthdays, weddings, and special occasions happening throughout the year (as much as you may want to), it’s time to get creative with giving gifts that won’t break your bank.
Here’s a few ideas:
- For the person who doesn’t need anything:
- Consider donating to a local charity or Kiva (an international nonprofit microloan organization) on their behalf. You’re not giving them anyTHING, but you are providing meaning in their honor and bettering the world in the process. Win-win.
- For the person who loves experiences:
- Score discounted tickets to local events on platforms like Groupon. Take a historic tour of your city, attend a concert or comedy show, or try a ballroom dancing class — all experiences that you can enjoy together.
- For the person who likes to pick out their own gifts:
5. Subscribe to Face the Fear (Shameless Self-Promo)
You know you want to.
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5 (MORE) ideas of how to take control of your finances in 2019 coming soon! Stay tuned!
Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien (@ktaylor1395)
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