The Frugal Toad http://www.thefrugaltoad.com Money Saving Advice for Everyday Living Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:35:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Saving for Retirement – Tips for Late Starters http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/personalfinance/saving-retirement-tips-late-starters http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/personalfinance/saving-retirement-tips-late-starters#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 02:54:30 +0000 http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/?p=6408 Are your retirement years fast approaching and your savings not fitting the bill?  According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 58% of Americans 55 and older have less than $100,000 in savings.  There is a smaller percentage (19%) who have $250,000 or more for retirement.  A lack of retirement savings seems to be a concern [...]

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saving for retirementAre your retirement years fast approaching and your savings not fitting the bill?  According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 58% of Americans 55 and older have less than $100,000 in savings.  There is a smaller percentage (19%) who have $250,000 or more for retirement.  A lack of retirement savings seems to be a concern of many, but it doesn’t mean there are no options.  While you have lost the magic of compound interest, you still can work hard to fill your retirement coffers.  Here are a few ways to save for retirement when starting late.

Know What You Need

The first step to saving for retirement is knowing how much you will need to retire. You don’t need an exact number.  That’s too much hassle.  Just know where you should be (ballpark) based on your age, how much you make, when you’ll retire, and your savings rate.  Don’t waste time with putting this on paper, use one of the great online retirement calculators, like this one.

Understand Where Your Money Will Come From

Most people reaching retirement age will have access to Social Security.  As you are calculating how much you need and want for retirement, don’t forget to include your Social Security benefits, along with any pensions or work retirement plans you already have.  These will go toward your monthly retirement stipend, so calculate them.

Create Goals

Calculating how much you need will only get you so far when saving for retirement.  You need to come up with goals to make up any difference you have between what you will already be getting and what you need to get.  Do the math and then come up with goals to reach those savings plans.

Have a Plan

Now that you have defined your goals, it is important to have a plan on how you will get there.  A professional retirement planning advisor  can help you refine your goals and provide you with concrete steps to take in order to achieve those goals.

Reduce Expenses and Save

One of the easier ways to save for retirement is to reduce expenses.  Since you will be living on less (most likely) in retirement, you should start slashing expenses now and getting into the habit of living as you would when you retire.  Don’t just slash expenses, but take that money and put it in your retirement savings or use the extra savings to pay down mortgage debt. Housing and food are typically the largest spending categories for most individuals so these are the areas to focus on first. Refinancing for a lower payment or downsizing are the easiest ways to reduce your monthly mortgage payment. And saving money on food is just as easy with these 10 tips to lower spending on food.

Maximize Your Contributions

If you don’t have a 401(k), but have access to one, sign up, and start contributing.  This is especially true if your employer matches.  Along with a 401(k), you can also contribute to a Roth IRA if you are under the income limits. The maximum contribution is $5,500 per year or $6,500 if you are 50.

Pay Off Debt

The last tip everyone should follow when saving for retirement is to pay off debt.  The more debt you have, the less you have for retirement.  This applies to any debt, such as credit cards and your mortgage.

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5 Tricks to Spot Good Financial Advice http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/personalfinance/5-tricks-spot-good-financial-advice http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/personalfinance/5-tricks-spot-good-financial-advice#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 01:53:36 +0000 http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/?p=6413 Any time you need financial advice, and you turn to the Internet for help with it, the results can be hit or miss. More often than not, this is because when you need help it’s because you don’t know enough about the topic to tell if someone is providing helpful advice, or just filling your [...]

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good financial adviceAny time you need financial advice, and you turn to the Internet for help with it, the results can be hit or miss. More often than not, this is because when you need help it’s because you don’t know enough about the topic to tell if someone is providing helpful advice, or just filling your head with rubbish. Sadly far too many sites on the web take advantage of this and pretend to provide meaningful financial advice when they are really just promoting a particular service, or are a cloaked marketing scheme.

Other times financial advice sites can be little more than windows to third party advertisements, providing little meaningful content or insightful commentary. However, there are some great financial advice sites our there, and some of them have reasonable advertising, or none at all, depending on the site. Knowing how to find these gems can mean the difference between a sound financial decision and a bad investment. That means you need to know what to look for in a site, and in particular make sure you are finding a place where you’ll get honest and impartial financial advice that you can trust. Pay attention to these five things:

Original Content

1) Do the sites tend to agree with mainstream news sources? If you’re reading a site, and it always agrees with mainstream news sources, essentially parroting the same story back at you each time you read it, then you’re probably not reading something original. A great way to check this is just to visit the blog of that financial site. If they have similar stories to major news releases, then that’s fine. What you’re looking for is anything that either disagrees with the news, offers an independent commentary and opinion on it (even if you disagree with that opinion), or provides general financial articles that appear well researched and interesting – but are on different topics. If you see a great deal of diversity, you’re most likely on a good site.

Variety

2) Is there a variety of helpful content that discusses more than one product? One of the biggest red flags to spotting a bad site is in their constant push towards one service, or one product. For example, if you’re reading financial help articles on a website, and they all constantly recommend the same service or product as a solution, that’s bad. This is an indication that the article was not written to help you, but rather that it was written to help you purchase the product recommended by the site. Look for product diversity on any financial website you visit. If you see it, and the site covers a wide range of different products, but especially competing products, then you know it’s probably a trustworthy website.

Intelligent Discussion

3) Are there any relevant or intelligent comments? Sometimes expecting to find intelligence on the Internet can seem like a waste of time, but as a general rule, a good finance site will have regularly moderated comments (this means no spam comments, or people selling services in the comments), and at least a few meaningful comments here and there throughout the site. This doesn’t mean that the site will have comments on every article, but rather that when you do see comments, they will be clear, and often answered by the person who wrote the article, or another member of the site. When you see that, you know that you’re on a website where the owners actually care what is written there. That’s a guarantee that you’ll also probably get good financial advice from them.

Questions Encouraged

4) Do the site owners encourage you to ask questions or to participate? Many times you may read an article, but still have a few questions about it or the topic material. In cases like this, you should always consider how easy it is to ask a question on the site. Good sites will have a simple mechanism that will allow you to either ask a question, or to leave a message. A corporate blog such as this one is also a fantastic way to have your say. If they do not have an easy way for you to do this, even if it is just in the comments, then you should question the ability of the site owners to actually answer you. However, when you can easily contact someone, or see evidence that others have been able to contact site owners and get help, you’ll know that you’re on a good site.

Free Information

5) Are there pop up messages that stop you from leaving a page? Many times a pop-up message will appear when you first try to leave a website. Often this message will ask if you are sure you want to leave, or whether you’d like to stay and get a great deal, or use some other feature of the site you might not have even seen. In cases like this, you are absolutely looking at a website that is more interested in making money than it is in helping you with any financial problems you may have. The only exception to this, and note that this is a rare exception, is when a site is giving away something free that can help you, such as an eBook, or subscription to something that isn’t just sales spam. Basically, if they are asking for your email, it’s probably a trick to get your email address, but if they’re giving you something for free, and only asking for your details after they’ve given it to you, the site is probably legitimate and genuinely concerned with helping you.

Remember, there is nothing at all wrong with making a little money on a website. However, if you are visiting a website that is plastered in advertisements and has failed to meet three or more of the quality concerns we outlined above, you should ask yourself just what sort of financial advise they are competent to offer, if they aren’t even able to pay their own bills and need to host random ads to pay for their site.

That’s not what we’d consider to be a sign of good financial management, and it’s not someone we’d trust with our financials. Of course, if you still choose to accept less than sound financial advice, and it ends up costing you, remember that you do have some recourse in the form of FCA complaints you can make.

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What are the Benefits of a College Financial Education? http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/personalfinance/benefits-college-financial-education http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/personalfinance/benefits-college-financial-education#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 00:32:23 +0000 http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/?p=6399 Choosing a degree is always difficult for students; there are so many courses on offer at college that it can be daunting. For those students interested in business, the choice doesn’t necessarily get easier, especially as it is understood that a business degree actually covers a variety of courses which you can specialize in. These [...]

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college financial educationChoosing a degree is always difficult for students; there are so many courses on offer at college that it can be daunting. For those students interested in business, the choice doesn’t necessarily get easier, especially as it is understood that a business degree actually covers a variety of courses which you can specialize in.

These courses can be focused on one subject or interdisciplinary and some can be more theoretical while others are more practical. Finance is one of these specialized courses and is essentially focused on the management of money.

Further enhance your financial studies by enrolling in an international institution. The UK is an exciting option, with Manchester being a vibrant financial hub in the north that is popular with students. At the London School of Business and Finance in Manchester you can study the theoretical and practical applications of a finance degree. They tailor the degree to the individual, allowing you to create the building blocks for the career path you want to make for your future.

So what are the benefits of a college financial education, and a finance degree?

Breadth of Study

Well, firstly a degree in finance is usually offered in conjunction with other FAME subjects (finance, accounting, management and economics). This exposure to the other aspects of business management affords you a larger understanding of the subject of business as a whole.

Career Choices

Finance degrees prepare students for a wide range of careers, such as commercial banking, money managing, insurance, financial planning and real estate. And it may sound obvious, but finance can be applied to almost any industry, including ones you wouldn’t typically associate with the subject; such as fashion, media, health and construction. This means that when it comes time for you to choose a career path your options are wide open.

Job options

As well as having choices in the career trajectory that you want to take, firms hire for financial positions in private, public and voluntary sectors with consistency. These roles often come in the form of graduate training schemes, many of which will give you a chance to experience different departments within the firm, though some schemes will offer a specialization from the beginning.

Lifetime knowledge

A finance degree offers more than the practical considerations of a job out of university and eventual career path. You are not only armed with knowledge but the networking skills to apply this in the working world. Furthermore, the foundation in business that this type of degree offers, will lend you a universal understanding of the current business world and how it functions in society today.

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The Car Commuter: How to Go Green and Save Money Simultaneously http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/frugal-living/car-commuter-go-green-save-money-simultaneously http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/frugal-living/car-commuter-go-green-save-money-simultaneously#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 22:22:29 +0000 http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/?p=6390 In recent times, there has been a push to show that cycling is the way forward when it comes to saving money, increasing the amount of exercise you do and lowering road congestion. However, for practical reasons, many people can’t or won’t cycle to work and continue to use a car for the daily commute. [...]

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go greenIn recent times, there has been a push to show that cycling is the way forward when it comes to saving money, increasing the amount of exercise you do and lowering road congestion. However, for practical reasons, many people can’t or won’t cycle to work and continue to use a car for the daily commute.

Some people might automatically turn their noses up at this response, but if your journey to work is long or you own a car because you have a family that you need to drive around, owning a car is a practical necessity and shouldn’t be looked down on.

Two of the major complaints levied at car owners is that they’re expensive to run and that they’re not very environmentally friendly, and which both of these are true when compared to the financial and environmental cost of commuting by bicycle, there are plenty of ways to limit the financial and environmental cost of commuting to work by car each day. Here are some of the best and most easily implementable.

Operate a Car-Share Scheme

If the drive to work is an expensive one, why not ask some of your co-workers who live in nearby areas to share the lift with you. They could contribute to your petrol money and you’d also be filling up all of the available spaces in your car, which is a great way to prevent waste and ensure you’re having the least environmental impact by driving to work each day.

In addition, you’ll also have people to share the journey to and from work with – nobody wants to sit in silence whilst they drive.

Empty the Car and Keep It Light

The heavier your vehicle, the more fuel your engine will burn in any given situation, at any given time. This means that if your car boot is full of heavy items, it’s more than likely that you’re going to empty your petrol tank faster than if it were full.

This is obviously not ideal, so every Sunday, create a routine whereby you go and see what you’ve accumulated in your car over the past 7 days, and you see what you can take out. Not only will this save you money, but it will also help your car to run that little bit greener. 

Efficient Driving Means Efficient Petrol Usage

Although it’s fair to say that if you’ve passed your driving test and you’re allowed on the road in the driver’s seat of a car, you can probably drive. However, it might be similarly reasonable to say that not all legally road-worthy drivers know how to be maximally efficient with their cars. For example, many drivers accelerate too quickly, revving their engine and burning fuel faster than they necessarily have to. This is financially and environmentally unwise, so learning how to control you acceleration will help you in both of these crucial areas. For more information on how you can drive with maximum efficiency, see the helpful guide by Different Money, if you do, you’ll certainly see almost immediate improvements.

Tweak Your Car for Better Performance

Finally, a few tweaks to your car will see that it is working to the best of its ability in terms of its general performance and its green and financial performance. For example, replacing your tires with new ones when they aren’t at their peak, or simply filling them with air when they’re running low, will boost your fuel efficiency by up to 3% according to some estimates.

Ultimately, not everybody can ditch their car in an effort to go green and save money, so if you’re going to carry on using your car, follow the advice above and you’ll soon find that you’re lowering both your financial and economic impact from driving.

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How to Be a Frugal Spender While Getting Your MBA http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/frugal-living/frugal-spender-getting-your-mba http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/frugal-living/frugal-spender-getting-your-mba#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 18:55:15 +0000 http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/?p=6386   College may be expensive, but it’s also an investment in your future.  Education opens up doors that might well remain closed without a degree. The paradox of obtaining a higher degree without starving to death is simply to learn to live frugally. Many rich people live very frugal lives, and that is one of [...]

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College may be expensive, but it’s also an investment in your future.  Education opens up doors that might well remain closed without a degree. The paradox of obtaining a higher degree without starving to death is simply to learn to live frugally. Many rich people live very frugal lives, and that is one of the tricks they used to become wealthy. What you learn now may set you up for life.

Cutting College Expenses

getting your MBA

Image Via Flickr By Tobyotter

Textbooks are one of the most expenses part of going to school. There are a few tips that help cut the cost of textbooks. When applicable considering renting textbooks, especially if you can rent the electronic versions. Not only is the electronic version lighter to carry around, but also they are often cheaper if rented. Buy used textbooks when you can. If your college has a textbook club join it. You may find awesome deals through a book exchange.

Choose the Best College

Shop all the colleges that offer the degree program that you want. Some colleges charge a lot more for the same degree. There are some occasions when paying more for a degree makes sense, but in many cases a degree is a degree. If you can find the same online MBA at a cheaper price and it is the same degree offered by a brick-and-mortar university, then consider the savings as a bonus. Be sure to check accreditation and college ranking. An online degree program is often easier to manage while working than are regular degree programs.

Dine In and Then Go Out

Everyone needs to socialize, but you can save a ton of money by eating at home and then meeting friends. Restaurants often charge 300% for many of the same meals you can make at home. If you shop wise, use coupons, and buy things in bulk you can save bank on food. Free activities can be just as fun as those you would find in a club. Try a game of frisbee in the park or joining a hiking or biking club. There are plenty of ways to have an excellent social life and not spend a ton of money.

Be Employed

One thing that is difficult for college students is showing work experience after college. Having a job not only helps you earn more money, but also it provides work references that help later with your job search. A Job is a win-win.

Don’t Be A Slave To Technology

College is a time for the bare minimum. Sure, everybody wants the best cell phone, but those cost more money than they are worth in college and the plans to support them are often exceedingly expensive. Go the basic route when it comes to technology. Save the high-tech for when you finish school.

However, you stack it up; college is expensive. It is, however, a positive expense because having a higher degree means you qualify for jobs that pay more. Being frugal helps you to life better while learning, and it also helps you to avoid piling up debt too.

 

Readers: What other ways can you think of to reduce the cost of a college degree?

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The Great Thanksgiving Giveaway – Win $125 http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/personalfinance/great-thanksgiving-giveaway http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/personalfinance/great-thanksgiving-giveaway#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 14:03:51 +0000 http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/?p=6370 Here’s how the giveaway works: $125 prize for one big winner, plus the charity pot of $125 that can also grow! If you’d like to be a sponsor in this giveaway, email Crystal at budgetingfunstuff *at* gmail.com You can participate for $25 until November 20, 2014! Each participating sponsor gets to choose 3 ways that readers can [...]

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giveawayHere’s how the giveaway works:
  • $125 prize for one big winner, plus the charity pot of $125 that can also grow!
  • If you’d like to be a sponsor in this giveaway, email Crystal at budgetingfunstuff *at* gmail.com You can participate for $25 until November 20, 2014!
  • Each participating sponsor gets to choose 3 ways that readers can enter to win (Twitter, Facebook, Email, Google Plus, etc.).
  • The giveaway runs from November 5th, 2014 at 7am EST to November 27th, 2014 at 11:59pm EST.
  • A single grand-prize winner will be chosen randomly and will take home a cool $125 in cash!
  • The grand-prize winner also gets to choose one of the following charities to receive the rest of the pot of $125+ – Big Brothers Big Sisters, the SPCA, Tabitha, Red Cross, or World Wild Life!!!

 

 

 

 

Be sure to come back for additional entries as this giveaway is sure to get bigger!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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