Investing for a Secure Future

People often look at investing as a risqué or taboo activity that is only for the rich or the strong willed. In reality, investing is an absolute necessity for securing a safe and happy future. Most of us don’t relish the thought of working until we die, and retirement takes a nest egg that usually needs several decades of building in order to adequately fund us into old age.  There are so many investment vehicles available to us that we often lose track of our options. Consider some of the ways you can start saving for your retirement below.

I always like to start with the 401k. Most employers offer these accounts to their employees as an additional perk or offering to their usual compensation. It’s even becoming fairly commonplace to offer some sort of a matching contribution as well. For example, if you make $50,000 and they offer matching contributions up to 5% of your salary that means you can contribute $2,500 and they will match it dollar for dollar. This is basically free money, and not taking advantage of it means leaving money on the table.

IRA’s are another great retirement vehicle, and very tax advantageous. A traditional IRA works much like a 401k, in that your funds go into the account on a pre-tax basis, and then later on in life when you start withdrawing from the account they will be taxed at your rate then. The benefit is that you pay less taxes now, and watch compound interest take effect on those pre-tax savings as a whole. A Roth IRA is similar, except you contribute post-tax monies to this account. The benefit is that the interest and capital gains on this type of account can be withdrawn tax free upon retirement. This is a huge benefit and when possible, you should take advantage of both accounts. Just like any other type advantaged account, there are income and contribution limitations, but they often become a bit more generous year after year in order to pace with inflation, so stay tuned on any new updates.

While tax advantaged accounts are always the way to go, they alone will not usually meet your retirement dreams, or even requirements. This is why I like to look at other ways of investing my money. Diversification is a key to keeping a healthy and balanced portfolio. Binary options have become increasingly popular over the past several years. Look at Banc De Binary for more information on how you can put them to work for you. There are also several different online and brick and mortar brokerages that handle investment accounts. Gone are the days where you needed an actual investment advisor. These days you can pay a smaller and more manageable fee and have a robo-advisor handle your savings for you.

Retail Store Coupons and Credit Cards

Retail store cards may seem like a game to people, but they can save you a lot of money.  Using free store cards can save money just buy signing up with a phone number and email.  Drugstores, grocery stores, pet stores, and restaurants with frequent diner cards are great places to sign up to save money. The retailers email you coupons, send you personalized paper coupons to your home, and give you free meals after so many visits!  These store coupon cards are a great idea and signing up is so quick and easy!  You can even get free gas and store cash if you “play your cards right”.

Aside from coupon cards that require no commitment or credit checks are the store credit cards. Holding out to sign up for a store credit card is a good idea, as you probably get offered to open a store credit card and save 20% on your purchase every time you shop. This may seem temping but it’s not a good idea to jump at the chance right away.  If you have two or less credit cards opened then having one or two store credit cards is safe and acceptable for your personal finance and credit growth.

Open your store credit card when you are planning to make a large purchase.  Most stores offer 0% APR for the first twelve months and 20% off your first purchase or all purchases that day.  Open the card when you have time/all day to shop for holiday/birthday gifts, or if you’re moving into a new home, or maybe when planning to renovate or upgrade your current home.  Search big box stores sales on internet or keep your eyes open for sales in the newspaper ads if you’re looking to buy furniture or appliances.  If the sale is 50% and you open a store credit card and receive 20% off, you saved yourself 70% on that new living room set or washer and dryer!

Opening clothing store credit cards isn’t a bad thing, but it may not be as valuable to your wallet as a big box store. If you shop at the same store most of the time for your family’s clothes, you can save a lot of money getting a store credit card there. Store cards will save you money, but make sure you know how to play the coupon game and payoff your store credit card each month.

The Most Overrated Jobs of 2015

George Costanza may have always wanted to pretend he was an architect, but it may not have been as glamorous as he thought.  In a new report by job-search site CareerCast.com, the most overrated jobs of 2015 were ranked that factored in job-related stress, competition, industry volatility and high job turnover.  “These jobs have a positive public perception but a less attractive reality,” said CareerCast content editor Kyle Kensing. “While they may have high-salary potential, excitement and glamour, there are trade-offs … that can include long hours, high pressure and stiff competition for positions or clients.”  While some of these positions all seem like jobs one would be proud to have, some are surprising when you compare the salaries to the amount of work and hours that is needed to put in.  Below are the five most overrated jobs of 2015:

The 5th most overrated job:  Architect

With an annual median salary of $73,090 and a growth outlook of 17 percent, architects design and plan the construction of houses, offices and public buildings, but the volatile position hits its low when the economy is poor and construction is non-existent.

The 4th most overrated job:  Advertising Account Executive

With an Annual median salary of $115,750 and a growth outlook of 12 percent, there may be high income potential, but is an extremely high pressure atmosphere working with clients to generate sales for products, especially if an ad fails.

The 3rd most overrated job:  Event Coordinator

With an annual median salary of $45,810 and a growth outlook of 33 percent, coordinators control an event from conception to clean up, work on location day and night, on weekends, and depending on an event, even over holiday’s making sure everything turns out perfect.

The 2nd most overrated job:  Sales Representative (wholesale)

With an annual median salary of $51,670 and growth outlook of 9 percent, sales representatives often spend a majority of their time traveling to earn the majority of their salary based on commissions, and if sales are down, sales representatives are the first to go.

The #1 most overrated job: Broadcaster

With an annual median salary of $29,790 and growth outlook of 2 percent, it may seem like being on TV is the ultimate job, but with the long and unpredictable hours, starting out for little or no pay, there is intense pressure on deadlines and ratings, not to mention extreme competition with few job openings.

Ways to Save Money on a Budget

You do not have to be making huge salaries and sitting on huge piles of cash to save money.  As long as you have a budget, and disciplined with spending, and can save money at the end of the month, you’re in a great place.  Everyone can always improve their spending and saving habits, so be always on the lookout of what you can do to save a little extra money without breaking the bank.

Need to Start Shopping Smarter

The days of trips to the store without a list or only going to one store instead of price comparison are over.  The essentials need to be bought when on sale, regardless of brand, and pay attention to the Sunday paper for coupons.  To take it even further, take the extra dollars saved at the register and put into a savings account.  It may not seem like a lot at first, but week over week, adding up over the course of a year and it could be a nice chunk of change.

Remember a Piggy Bank?

May seem like a childish thing to do since we all had one as a kid, but keep a container and collect all the change and not spend it.  As you can see the coins add up, find ways to put additional money in there, adding bills every paycheck, for example.  Every month or every few months empty it out and deposit into a savings account.  Since things like Coinstar take a huge chunk of change in return for counting it, it’s wise to invest in rolling your own change, and doing it once a month so it will not be as much at once.

Stop Spending What You Don’t Have

If you find yourself not having any money left after expenses and spending before the next check is deposit, do not charge on credit cards, as you will sink deeper in debt, but come up with a budget.  Take all necessary spending such as mortgage, car, insurance, utilities, etc., subtract gas and grocery, and see how much money is left.  Examine previous month’s spending to see what can be eliminated with things like eating out is a quick fix.  Set up automatic deposits to savings accounts.  You’ll have to decide what is a logical amount, as you don’t want to be transferring money back and forth to checking accounts to cover, but make sure you’re saving some money each month, and once comfortable, gradually increase.