Posted on

BUDGET: What does this mean to you?

financial freedom with budgets
The Money Nerve Budget

BUDGET: What does this mean

to you?

Budget: an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time. Or “keeping within the household budget.” Many people cringe when they hear the word budget, and instantly assume it is a gloomy, painful process of giving up all the joy in their lives!

Since the word budget has such a bad rap, let’s make a change and call it “proactive money management” or a forecast. A forecast is a general vision of what’s to come; it allows us to make decisions for the next few days. We all know that the weatherman isn’t always exactly right, often changing the outlook as the clouds roll in faster or the sun bumps up the temperature.

When you forecast how you want to spend and save your money, you are pushing out your projection for the next week, month, 1-year plan and beyond. Just like a weather forecaster evaluates new information to share with viewers, you may have to adjust your financial timetable as “life” happens.

Be Honest and Accurate

To accurately predict the weather, you must set the destination. Knowing the temperature in Seattle has no meaning if you live in Miami. With your finances, you need to know where you are; how much you bring home and what your monthly expenses are. Creating an estimate of how you want to direct or point your extra money into different funnels establishes a roadmap for the plans or goals you set for the future.

If you are like 90% of Americans, you tend to inflate your salary and round down your bills. Try to flip that assessment around. By underestimating your take-home pay and then basing your monthly bills at the highest projected amount, you have now given yourself a cushion of cash reserves. That’s refreshing!

Inflow and Outflow

A budget doesn’t always mean cutting costs; it is merely a plan for how your money will flow into your life and then dispersed to others for the benefits you want. Most people apply their money to three main priorities: food, housing, and transportation. These are essential components for a higher quality of life, and once you have these taken care of, you can begin to set aside money for other important goals or dreams.

Write down every expense, good or bad. Don’t pretend that you always spend money wisely. We all have habits and plenty of opportunities to be wasteful with our dollars.

One of my colleagues Kelli, (aka the Freebie Finding Mom) has developed a handy budget sheet to track your cash easily. Take a moment to download this helpful resource HERE.

Finding Balance

If you discover there is not enough money for the three essentials of housing, food and transportation, then you must explore your options to find a reasonable balance. You could cut down on one of these components, (smaller apartment or using coupons for groceries) or you could ask for a raise, look for another job or add a second job on the weekends. Creating a forecast (or budget) of what bills need to be paid each month, along with one time expenses that come up each year –– gives you a good guesstimate of where your cash flows in and out. A lot of people arrange to get monthly insurance bills instead of one massive bill annually, and this makes it easier to stay on track and “In-Budget.”

Financial Freedom

Work your desires into your budget. Save for special events and big purchases. Once you have identified where your money comes in and how you want to spend it, you have the power to change your plans. You have opened a new door of opportunity with intentional, proactive choices. The benefits of forecasting your money flow include less financial stress, a new sense of understanding of what’s important and the freedom to choose how you spend your money!

Follow me @themoneynerve on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ To receive our monthly newsletter with financial tips and tools, visit https://business.facebook.com/TheMoneyNerve/app/100265896690345/

 

Posted on

Six Best Financial Goals to be Financially Smart 

The Money Nerve blog
Guest-blogger Patricia Sanders

Six Best Financial Goals

to be Financially Smart

2018 has already arrived. Now is the time for you to set some serious financial goals and chalk out the strategies for achieving your success.

Didn’t get any time to make a list of new financial goals for the year 2018?

Don’t worry. We have compiled a list of six best financial goals to be financially smart – that will help you to improve your wallet and your life in 2018!

1. Pay off your debts

Decide how much debt you wish to get rid of in 2018. The best option is to get out of debt completely. But it may not be possible depending on your income and debt amount. So set an amount you can pay off in 2018 with strategic planning. Figure out how much extra you want to put towards your debt every month and then try to reach it. You can follow a debt repayment plan to speed up your repayments. Smart investments help to accelerate your savings. Likewise, unpaid debts eat up your savings. Late fees, compounding interests, fines, finance charges, penalties, etc. increase your outstanding balance, and you end up paying more in the long run. So, make it your goal to get rid of debt in 2018.

2. Review your investment plans

Investments should be made with particular goals in mind. They should help you attain your financial goals in 2018. Have a look at where your investments are now and evaluate your progress.

Here are a few tips to review your investment plans:
(i) Calculate your actual return to know if you’re on the right financial track. Once you get the number, compare it to your expected return. Find out if you have made any financial progress in the last few years.
(ii) Compare each individual holding to a benchmark. This comparison would help you discover portions of your portfolio that need adjustment. Monitor those parts of your portfolio every month.
(iii) Analyze your overall asset allocation to identify the areas where you need to make changes. For instance, sell those investments that are not meeting your expectations. If you don’t have proper information or tools to review your investment mix, then it’s best to consult a qualified and experienced CPA financial adviser. He can make an in-depth analysis of your portfolio and help you make the required changes.

3. Stick to your budget every month

Budgeting is vital for proper allocation of funds and resources. It helps you know the amount designated for each expenditure line. A budget also assists you to determine the maximum amount to be spent on a particular item. If your goal is to invest in the stock market in 2018, then budgeting can help you a lot. Your budget gives you a better idea of how much you can invest or save in a particular month. Remember, if you can stick to your budget, then you’re financial goals will be reached more effectively.

4. Invest more in your retirement plans

Do you have a 401(k) plan? If not, open an account today. How much are you contributing to your 401(k) plan every month? Is it enough? Are you getting the maximum employer match? If not, then find out if there is a “catch up” opportunity this year. Increase your IRA contribution if you haven’t reached the maximum limit for the current financial year. Take full advantage of the new year’s opportunity for building your nest-egg.

5. Choose the right 529 plan

The right 529 plan can help to accelerate college savings. Research and choose the right 529 plan in 2018 by the following factors:

(i) State tax benefits
(ii) Investment choice
(iii) Fees and costs
(iv) How much you have to invest initially

A good way to kick-start your college savings is to invest a set amount each year. Consider the daily expenses you need to take care of and select a plan that has a minimum investment.

6. Create a long-term financial plan

Where do you see yourself after five years? Do you see yourself
living with your children in a nice house? Do you see yourself leading a peaceful life? The answers to these questions help you create a long-term financial plan.

Outline your timetable:
● When you’re planning to buy a new apartment
● When you’re planning to switch job
● When you’re planning for retirement
● How you’re planning to build wealth
● What type of investments you’re interested in
● How you’re planning to invest your money
● When your kids will go to college

A long-term financial plan can help you make the right financial decision not only in 2018 but also in the next few years. Try implementing these six best financial goals into your life. Note: Don’t compare your long-term financial plan with others since it won’t be beneficial for you. Your long-term financial plan will be different from your best friend’s, especially if he is married and you’re single. I hope you understand my point.

Summing It Up

Remember, you have to work hard and make plans to achieve your financial goals. Believe in yourself, set a strategic course of action, and start making positive changes using these six best financial goals to get your money matters organized. Best of luck! Patricia

About our Guest Blogger: Patricia Sanders is a financial writer and a blogger as well. She has been associated with DebtConsolidationCare for a long time. She writes regularly for wiki.debtcc.com on a variety of topics and also contributes valuable posts to different financial communities, blogs, and websites. Connect with Patricia on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted on

The Money Nerve College Scholarship Opportunity

The Money Nerve College Scholarship Opportunity

Money Nerve College Scholarship

Bob Wheeler, Author of The Money Nerve: Navigating the Emotions of Money, and founder of RWW CPA, is proud to offer a $500 Money Nerve College Scholarship opportunity to students majoring in Accounting. I am a proud alumni of Rhodes College, located in Memphis, TN. Although I cobbled together a variety of financial scholarships and financial aid, I loved my education experience, and have a successful career today, despite being very aware of money!

One of the core values of The Money Nerve and RWW CPA is that financial education and good money habits start at home. This Money Nerve College Scholarship opportunity is for students who are majoring in Accounting. Some of you may wish to serve your community in the future as a CPA.

Submissions will be accepted starting January 30th of each year with a winner announced August 1st.

The Money Nerve Scholarship

Being smart is no guarantee that you’ll reach your financial goals in life. In fact, many people with graduate degrees feel like they never received the financial education they needed. as a result, lots of people struggle with their money, often living “month-to-month,” because they weren’t taught to manage their money.

Good financial habits start at home, and I want to reward you and promote your family for making money management a priority. Your essay can assist you to pay for college classes or help with your expenses. As a result of your essay, you will teach Money Nerve readers and followers smarter ways to budget, invest, save and make money. I am happy to offer this Money Nerve college scholarship, and want to help with of the cost of completing college.

Check out the articles on The Money Nerve blog. Share your own financial story. My financial habits are influenced by my family, my emotional reactions to money decisions, and more than 25-years of listening to clients. As a matter of fact, many of my clients share common challenges with their money, no matter what their income is!

My passion for assisting others focuses on three concepts. First: exploring “why” people make the same financial decisions repeatedly. Second: examining “where” positive change can be made. Third: learning to set intentions – creating a “healthy relationship” with money.

This fresh perspective generates a life of proactive abundance. And anyone striving to be a CPA soon learns that the job is more than just numbers. It takes a mixture of savvy financial knowledge paired with compassion to provide assistance for people to manage their finances more efficiently.

How to Apply for The Money Nerve College Scholarship

Applicants must submit an essay (minimum 500 words- no more than 1,000 words). Share what your parents/family taught you about personal finance, and how that benefitted your life. Topics can include: budgeting, paying bills, balancing your bank statement, how to start investing, saving for big goals, making money or other financial skills that you learned. These practical tips will also help you to be a successful CPA.

• Essays must be original and not submitted to other websites.
• Applicants must be either currently enrolled in or actively applying to an undergraduate business program with a declared major in Accounting. Students at both community colleges and four-year institutions are encouraged to apply. One application per student.
• Essays can be submitted beginning January 29, 2018, and must be in my inbox by May 1st, 2018. (Word document format-not PDF)
• Mail applications to bob@themoneynerve.com, and include name, address and phone number. Please be sure to place “Scholarship” in the email subject line.
• Each applicant must state the school the student is attending or registered for, and current college level, (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student).

The Money Nerve College Scholarship Winner

Essays to be featured February – June 2018, on The Money Nerve blog. This is a great way highlight and teach financial education to young adults. The Money Nerve College scholarship winner will be selected on Friday, July 20th, and posted on Wednesday, August 1st. Winning is determined by which submitted essay receives the most social media “buzz” – generating the most social media shares.

Best of luck and I look forward to hearing what money lessons and tips have made a difference in your life!

~Bob Wheeler

Posted on

Facing Your Financial Fears

The Money Nerve
Facing Your Financial Fears

Facing Your Financial Fears

We all have money habits ingrained in our lives, yet many of us are afraid of facing financial fears. Financial fear is often caused by emotional response that we unconsciously carry with us, and facing your financial fear is the first step to eliminating stress and worry.

There are dozens of emotions that surface when it comes to money. When I was thinking back on the emotions I have dealt with in client meetings over the years, I came up with an extensive list. But one emotion seems to crop up more often than others. It’s exhaustion. Looking at the root cause of our financial actions can be exhausting. Being broke can be exhausting. Budgeting can be exhausting.

Exhaustion

Many people have a message in their mind stuck on replay, and it says, “I don’t want to look at my financial reality. I just don’t want to look at how messed up I actually am.” It seems less exhausting to live in a make-believe world! The problem with that assumption is that it’s a fantasy. As soon as you get an overdraft fee – BAM! Welcome to the real world. Dealing with reality out of fear makes you may feel even more de- energized and defeated.

Turn your exhaustion around:

• Analyze your true situation. Don’t spend money before you receive it.
• Have a contingency plan
• Create a strategy to move in a new direction.
• Investigate smarter personal finance tips and tools

Determine where your “MONEY NERVE” is by facing Your Financial Fears

1. Write down a recent, uncomfortable Money Nerve moment and analyze how you might have mitigated the emotions behind it and improved the situation.
2. Start a journal to track your money habits and emotions
3. Make a list of people in your inner circle of family and friends with whom you could discuss finances.
4. Make a list of professionals who could provide financial advice, maybe a CPA or a financial advisor.
5. Pick the three strongest emotions that trigger your Money Nerve. Mentally trace them back to what you believe to be the root cause. For example, “My father got angry whenever we wanted to eat out.”
A.
B.
C.
6. Write down a recent, uncomfortable Money Nerve moment and analyze how you might have mitigated the emotions behind it and improved the situation.
7. Review your journal entries to identify other emotions that trigger your Money Nerve.

Becoming more aware of the emotions that trigger your Money Nerve will create new options for making positive change in your life!

Posted on

Low and No Payment Mortgages

mortgages

Low and No Down Payment Mortgages

Low and No Down Payment Mortgages

~ written by Clever Dude

Hi Money Nerve readers! Thought this “Clever Dude” article about mortgages was very informative. Check out the details.

Many years ago, mortgages required a good credit score and a large down payment of at least 20%. That’s no longer the case since the Federal Government created several home loan programs making it easier for borrowers to attain a mortgage loan.

Here are some loan programs that allow for a low, or no down payment.

FHA Loans
The Federal Housing Administration was introduced to help encourage home ownership in the U.S.You may qualify for an FHA loan with just a 580 credit score and a low down payment of just 3.5%. That’s a much lower down payment than conventional loans which require between 10% – 20% down.

One of the great things about FHA loans is that the down payment can be a gift from a friend or family member. Up to 100% of the down payment amount can be gifted to the borrower allowing for 100% financing to those who are receiving a gifted down payment.

The FHA also allows for higher debt-to-income ratios than other types of home loans. In some cases, lenders can allow for DTI ratios up to 50%. With this calculator, you can figure out how much house you can afford factoring in PMI and property taxes.

Pros and Cons of FHA Loans

Pros

Low down payment
Low 580 credit requirement
Lower interest rates
Higher debt-to-income ratios allowed
Up to 6% of closing cost can be paid by the seller
Non-occupying co-borrowers allowed
Many FHA approved lenders nationwide
Higher allowed debt-to-income ratios

Cons

Low loan limits
Fixer-upper homes can’t be financed
Mortgage insurance premium required
High MIP costs, up to 1% of loan amount
Up-front MIP required

VA Loans
If you’re a Veteran you may qualify for a VA mortgage. VA loans are the cheapest type of mortgage loan available. They require no down payment and no mortgage insurance is required. In order to qualify, you must be an active, or retired Veteran or a Veteran spouse.

Like FHA loans, VA loans come with lower mortgage rates than most conventional loans do. They do require a higher credit score than FHA, most lenders require a minimum 620 credit score to receive 100% financing.

USDA Loans
The U.S. Department of Agriculture created the USDA rural housing program to help loan to median-income borrowers become homeowners in rural parts of the country. USDA loans do not require a down payment.

Because they are 100 % financing lenders have higher credit score requirements. Typically you will need a minimum 640 FICO score to qualify for a USDA mortgage. When you think of the term “rural” you generally think of farms and ranches. However, about 97% of the country is in an eligible USDA location. Most areas that are 30 miles outside of major cities are USDA eligible.

Conventional 97 Loans
Fannie Mae is one of the largest buyers of mortgage in the U.S. Fannie Mae has started the 97% LTV conventional mortgage loan which requires just a 3% down payment. That’s even lower than FHA. To qualify for this loan program you must have at least a 620 credit score.

Some of the benefits of conventional loans are the higher loan limits than Government backed mortgages. In low-cost areas of the country, the loan limit is $424,100 which is over $150,000 higher than the FHA limits. Like FHA loans, conventional 97 loans also allow 100% of the down payment to come from gift funds.

The Bottom Line…
There are many mortgage programs besides just FHA that offer low or no down payment loans. USDA and VA are the only two mortgages that offer 100% financing. If you’re not eligible for either you may qualify for FHA or a conventional 97 loan with low down payment requires, much lower than traditional financing.

Knowing your options is an important part of the process especially before speaking to a loan officer. Not all lenders offer all types of loans, knowing the different types of loan programs can help you save a bundle on your home.

Posted on

Teaching Yourself to Say NO to Debt

Today’s Guest Blogger is Matthew Woodley, creditexpertrepair.com.

Be sure to implement some of his insightful tips for dropping debt!

Teaching Yourself to Say No to Debt

If you are struggling with debt then you have to make a commitment to change the way you spend your money. There are many places you can turn for help, such as financial advisors, and there are many ways to help turn your finances around with programs involving debt management, refinancing, or even debt consolidation. Tapping into professional assistance and teaching yourself to say no to debt can pave a new path to financial freedom.

With that said, no matter what options you choose you need to commit to saying no to any more debt. No matter how tempting it may be to spend, if you want to get out debt you have to stop adding to it.

It is true that it can be hard not to take on new debt, especially if you are used to using your credit cards and are living pay-check to pay-check. To get started here are a few suggestions for teaching yourself to say NO to debt and changing your habits.

Avoid New Loans

When you are having trouble paying bills, it can be very tempting to seek out a new loan in order to cushion yourself and have a sense of security. However, you are much better off reducing your expenses in other ways and creating a monthly budget. This can show you how easy it can be to save money and allow you to learn how to live within your means.

Begin teaching yourself to say no to debt by using cash for all of your expenses. You will begin to realize just how much of a crutch your credit card and loans have been. If you have a lot of debt and cannot afford to buy something in full using cash, then you should not be allowing yourself to buy it.

Breaking Bad Habits

It is very important to allow yourself to put paying off debt before anything else. By avoiding loans and only spending the money that you have in your account you will be able to break away from your spending habits and stand up to your finances.

Another great way to learn new habits is to start paying yourself before you turn to other expenses. You can do this by setting up a deposit into your savings account on the first of the month. When you start to see this money disappearing each month you will begin to treat it like any other payment, and even forget that you are actually saving money. This is one of the best habits to get into and is a great way to save for an emergency or start to build up a nest egg.

Even if you set up a withdrawal that puts $50 a month into your savings – you will have at least $600 in an emergency fund at the end of the year. While that may not seem worth it right now, it can be the difference between bankruptcy and making it through any difficult times. Something as simple as avoiding buying a cup of coffee each day can allow you to pay yourself first, and is more than worth it in the long run.

Reducing Toxic Debt

Aside from putting away a bit of money, you should always do your best to target toxic debt with any extra money you have from your budget. Toxic debt refers to the high interest payments that you have in terms of credit card balances or pay advance loans. You should always being focusing on paying off this kind of debt first before upping your payments on things such as student loans or car payments. Tackle the worst debts first and then you will be in better shape to slowly pay off other debt such as your mortgage.

The fact is that most of us have more money than we think we do, we are just guilty of impulse buys and not having our priorities straight. By teaching yourself to spend in cash, avoid loans, pay yourself first, and attacking toxic debt, you can form all new habits and in many instances find out just how much extra cash you will eventually have lying around at the end of each month.

Be smart, stick to your guns, and that dream retirement or debt-free future could be closer than you think.

Matthew Woodley is the founder of CreditRepairExpert.org which provides users with free and unbiased information on how to repair and improve their credit score. Make sure to follow him on Twitter for the latest on credit repair and debt management.

For more info, please visit CreditRepairExpert.org

Posted on

Radical Abundance Workshops

Radical Abundance Workshops are happening this September in Montreal and Toronto!

Radical Abundance Workshops in Montreal and Toronto
Find Radical Abundance with The Money Nerve

Join us in Montreal September 15-17, and in Toronto September 22-24!

Do you have limiting money beliefs? Are you ready for a path to create financial freedom? Want to heal your relationship with money in a creative, collaborative and supportive way?

FINANCIALLY TAPPED, EMOTIONALLY TRAPPED?
You CAN create a new path for financial freedom. If you feel the heat rising when you pay those monthly bills, that could be your money nerve alerting you that it’s time to make a change. The Money Nerve concept will inspire you to make a real change in your perspective about money. I love working with groups and leading workshops – to help each of you navigate your emotional response to money, create a healthy budget and chart a new course!

Our Radical Abundance Workshops have been engineered to create a transformation of your limiting financial mindset and help you to uncover new pathways for creative solution and a richer life experience.

Join us…

Join me  and colleague CORE Energetics professional Josee Martel, for an incredible mind-opening experience that will change your life! You will be given tools and techniques for personal and professional success, while learning to live a life of proactive abundance!

Be a part of this weekend workshop in either Montreal or Toronto

Take advantage of this opportunity to evolve your capacity to play big in life and relationships. We’d LOVE to have you at our Radical Abundance Workshops!

Select Your Location

Montreal911 Rue Jean-Talon E, Montréal, QC H2R 1V5, Canada

Montreal Facebook Event Info HERE

Toronto: Colt Paper Building, 151 Sterling Rd, Toronto, ON M6R 2B2, Canada

Toronto Facebook Info HERE

Schedule both weekends:

Friday: 7-9:30 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 9:30 am – 5 pm

Radical Abundance Workshops
Bob Wheeler & Josee Martel

 

Posted on

Investing In a Volatile Market

Guest Blogger George Diaz

Investing In a Volatile Market

Ever since the election of Donald Trump, markets have been very volatile, hitting record highs one minute, and then experiencing massive selloffs the next. For this reason, it is imperative to know “how and where” when investing in a volatile market.

We are living in turbulent times.

Market volatility should be a reminder to regularly review your investments and make sure you have a diversified investment strategy that matches the overall risk in your portfolio to your personality and goals. Here are some guidelines for you to invest in an unpredictable market.

1. Stand firm: Crises happen on a regular basis and are usually of short duration.

Market crashes can be annoying, but history shows that the stock market has been able to recover from declines and can still offer investors a positive return in the long run.

In fact, in the last 35 years, the market has experienced an average decrease of 14% from highest to lowest during each year, but still had a positive annual return more than 80% of the time.

2. Be at ease with your investments

If you are nervous when the market goes down, you may not have the right investments. Your time horizon, goals and risk tolerance are key factors in ensuring that you have an investment strategy that works for you. Even if your time horizon is long enough to justify an aggressive portfolio, you have to be comfortable with the bumps you will encounter.

However, you should be mindful of not being too conservative, especially if you have a long-term horizon because strategies that are more conservative can not provide the growth potential you need to achieve your goals.

 

Attempting to enter and exit the market can be costly.

3. Do not try to time the market

4. Invest regularly despite volatility

If you invest regularly for months, years and decades, short-term crises will not have a big impact on your bottom line. Instead of trying to judge when to buy and sell based on market conditions, if you take a disciplined approach to investing, you avoid the dangers of market timing. Seize opportunities!

Bear Market Strategies

During a general downturn in financial markets as a result of economic uncertainty, investors rush and seek security in their investments.

There may be some actions to take while the markets are down, to help you have a better position for the long term. These strategies are complex, and you may want to consult a professional before making any investment or tax decisions.

1. Avoid positioning yourself in volatile funds or ETFs of complex nature, even more so during a full correction.

2. Say goodbye to the losers. Now is the right time to do a portfolio cleaning. If these stocks did not perform well in boom times, why would it be any different now?

3. Reduce your stock positions. If the market continues to decline, you will be able to go hunting for undervalued securities, because you will have sufficient liquidity.

4. Buy bonds. Debt securities can be great allies in the midst of bearish gaps in the market.

5. If the stock market continues to move down, try to avoid constant monitoring, as fear will make you anxious and often results in people making hasty decisions about their assets.

6. Taking short positions is one way to make money in a bear market, such as selling futures, betting on declines or helping to reduce your portfolio exposure to the market.

Guest blooger George Diaz writes for finance sites: sobredinero.com and Myfinancialwisdom.com. He can be reached at george@sobredinero.com or via Twitter @sobredinero1

Posted on

Time Value of Money

Understanding The Time Value of Money

Today’s guest post is by Gary Forman, founder of the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and website. One of his clients asked Gary:

“Does anyone think that $20,000 will buy a new car forty years from today? Maybe it’s time for an article on the time value of money, accounting for inflation in long term investment plans, and related issues.” ~  Lester

Lester was referring to an article that I had written saying that when you buy something today, you’re agreeing not to buy something more expensive later. And, he’s right. You can’t simply take today’s prices and expect them to be valid for future purchases, especially if you’re looking more than a few years into the future.

The concept of rising prices is only one component of an economic theory called “the time value of money.”

Having money over a period of time is valuable. Money can earn more money. Suppose that you had $100 today and could earn 10% on it. A year from now you’d have $110. In two years $121. So having that $100 is valuable.

Also, I’d rather have $100 today than wait and get it tomorrow. I won’t earn much interest in one day, but it should be worth a little more tomorrow. It’s also safer getting it today. There’s always that possibility, however small, that you won’t get the money tomorrow. By getting it today, you’ve eliminated that risk.

Another area where the time value of money applies is in the area of retirement planning. Suppose that you expect to retire in 20 years. You know that prices will rise before then. But can you estimate by how much?

Rule of 72

A quick and easy way to answer that question is to use the rule of 72. The formula is easy. The number of years in the future times the interest rate you expect equals 72. That’s how long it will take for prices to double.

Let’s do an example. You want to know how long it will take prices to double if inflation is 6%. A little algebra tells us that you divide 72 by 6. Thus, prices will double in 12 years. So if you expect to retire in 20 years and inflation is 6%, prices will be nearly 4 times higher when you retire. ($1 x 2 = $2 in 12 years. That $2 x 2 = $4 the next 12 years. Or 4 times in 24 years)

Suppose that you had $100 today and could earn 10% on it. A year from now you’d have $110. In two years $121. So having that $100 now is valuable. Also, I’d rather have $100 today than wait and get it tomorrow. I won’t earn much interest in one day, but it should be worth a little more tomorrow. It’s also safer getting it today. There’s always that possibility, however small, that you won’t get the money tomorrow. By getting it today, you’ve eliminated that risk.

If you play with the formula, you’ll find that the rate of interest you choose makes a big difference in the results. For instance, 3% inflation would mean that prices would double every 24 years. Quite a difference compared to our first example – going up 4 times in the same amount of time.

You can also use the same formula to calculate how long it will take your money to double in an investment account. For instance, if you’re earning 9% on your investments, it will take 8 years to double. (9 x 8 = 72).

You may want to get more precise than our little formula will allow. For that, you’ll need something called a financial function calculator. It will do a lot more than the time value of money formula, but it’s easy enough to learn how to use it for time value questions. And, they’re not expensive.

Some people will subtract the inflation rate from their investment return to get a “real” rate of return on their retirement savings. For instance, if you earned 8% on the money and inflation was 3%, you’ve really gained 5% in buying power.

Another application for time value of money is when you’re trying to decide which payment plan you’d prefer. What happens if you were told that you could buy a car for $20,000 cash today. Or you could make $400 payments for 60 months. Or you could put $4,000 down and make $375 payments for 48 months.

You could add up all the payments you would make, and that would be a good rough estimate. But you’d get a more precise answer by using a calculator to bring everything back to today’s dollars so that you’d have a fairer comparison.

$1 today is more valuable

Don’t be intimidated by the concept. Just remember that having $1 today is more valuable that having one a year from now. And the same holds true if you’re paying. A dollar that you pay today is more valuable than one that you’ll pay next year.
With an understanding of the time value of money and the ability to use the rule of 72, you can help yourself in a variety of common money situations.

~~~~~~~

Thanks Gary! This article by Gary Foreman originally appeared in The Dollar Stretcher.com.

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He’s been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

Time Value of Money Image via weakonomics.com

 

Posted on

Tax Tips to Lower Your 2016 Tax Bill

Tax Tips to Lower Your 2016 Tax Bill

You still have time to cut your taxes — and make smart moves to lower next year’s as well. As a certified CPA myself, I am swimming through a pile of tax returns for my clients! I wanted you to have some good info on how to lower your 2016 tax bill, if you haven’t filed yet.  Here are some effective tips from SANDRA BLOCK, Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Most taxpayers approach the tax-filing deadline with a mixture of fear and loathing. But this year, there are reasons to be more sanguine. For one thing, because 2016 was an election year, Congress didn’t tinker much with the tax code. If your personal circumstances didn’t change last year, your tax bill probably won’t change much, either. And if you’re a do-it-yourself filer, you don’t have to get up to speed on a slew of new rules.

Because April 15 falls on a Saturday this year and April 17 is a holiday in Washington, D.C., you have until Tuesday, April 18, to file your federal tax return.

VIDEO: How to Prepare for Tax Season

Here are some ways you can still trim your 2016 tax bill, plus potential speed bumps.

Contribute to an IRA.

If you’re not enrolled in a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan, you can deduct an IRA contribution of up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older), no matter how high your income. You have until April 18 to make a 2016 contribution to your IRA.

Fund a health savings account.

You also have until April 18 to set up and fund a health savings account for 2016. To qualify, you must have had an HSA-eligible insurance policy at least since December 1.

Get credit for tuition payments.

The American Opportunity tax credit, worth up to $2,500 per eligible student for the first four years of college, is a valuable tax break for parents of college students.

Health care housekeeping.

President Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but it was still in effect in 2016, so you’ll have to deal with it on your tax return. To avoid a “shared responsibility payment”—longhand for a penalty—you must prove that you had qualifying health insurance in 2016 or were eligible for an exemption.

Want to investigate these ideas  a little deeper? Additional details HERE