Monthly Archives: March 2017

Life Triangle – Work, Life, and Salary – it is your job to balance it

In the connect world today everyone looks so busy to in connecting these three dots called Work, Life, and Salary. To have a good life you need good salary and for getting the good salary you need to have a good job, which demands loads of time at work. If you spend loads of time at work, then where is time for life? Are you in a similar situation? Are you still running every day to connect these three dots? Not able to balance? Confused?

Don’t worry you are not only one with this problem, most of us get into this problem. The main reason is we focus on one goal and forget other. The mantra to achieve balance is knowing you. Pause the run of the life for some time and do deep thinking on what makes you happy? Absolutely there is no one answer.  Once you know the key to your happiness, you can prioritize the three dots to get the right balance.

If you don’t achieve the right balance it will lead to poor work-life balance which results in stress, unhappiness, and even reduced productivity. Here is a quick tip for achieving happiness by creating the right balance.

  • Spend time to understand yourself: pause your busy life sometimes and write answers for the key question of life Who I am? Do I know myself? What makes me happy? who I want to be?. Keep scribbling until you land on the stable and self-convincing answer. Remember there is no right or wrong answer, every answer is right until you are convinced.
  • Priorities the key goals of life: Once you know who you are and what makes you happy, you will understand pathway for happiness? What is your number one priority in life?
  • If you can’t track you can’t progress: As now you have understood where you need to be, it is equally important to get the correct measurement of where you are today. Start measuring the time you spend on different aspects of life. If you can’t measure you can’t improve. This is not your exam result, so no pass or fail, measure genuinely
  • Analyze and reschedule your days: Now you understand where you spend more time, start planning your day and assign more time to activity in the path of your balanced life. Nothing changes in one day, have discipline and dedication.
  • Have personal time: have some time blocked for yourself. Spending time with yourself is most important. Keep revisiting your goals and reprioritizing tasks. Remember no multi-tasking during your personal time.
  • Influencers: Understanding yourself and measuring yourself will let you understand key influencers.
    • Example less sleep leads to less productivity and more stress. Less productivity means more time you spend in the office. This cyclic process leads to poor performance and fewer chances of promotions or higher salary.
    • Health, as everyone says health is wealth, poor health leads to poor performance and poor work-life balance.
  • Social life is important: Build good friends circle, family relationships and dedicate time for your social life. You need to draw energy from society, end of the day you live in society, positive circle creates positive energy.

Finally, it is your life; you live the way it makes you happy. Never forget it is all about Life balance.

Save for the Days It Rains

An emergency by its very nature will strike at the most inopportune of moments. And the greatest fear that tags along with an emergency are the lack of funds. It is to overcome and be prepared for such unforeseen challenges that one should have a substantial amount of savings in place.

Warren Buffet had once famously quoted: “Savings in not what is left after you spent on your needs but it is the first investment you make before you spend on anything else.”

In today’s time of financial uncertainty and extreme competition, health and wealth are both victims. And after a point in time, there comes a situation where falling back on reserves, however unwise that would be, become a necessity. Let us list a few of them to see why people need and emergency fund or in other words, a saving.

  1. A loss of a job is a reality. Companies will restructure, downsize or maybe right size and the first casualty will be you. What would you do in that case? Jobs will never come on a platter and hence expecting one soon after you have lost one is simply wishful thinking. Also, even if you get one, there is no guarantee the salary currently drawn will be as attractive as the previous one.
  2. You or a family member has an illness. A debilitating one at that too. Where do you think you will have the funds to help you or the member get treatment? Also being too sick can make you lose your job. You would then be in a situation explained in point number 1. In addition to which the cost of treatment will add up.
  3. That property tax which you knew was under control for a long time has suddenly been raised. While previously budgeting for the taxes, you had never ensured some extra buffer for the future and now the future strikes back. It is again the savings which will come handy.
  4. You have been downsized and your hours rolled back. You are now a part time employee with very little cash in hand.
  5. An accident is a rude shock. Can happen to anyone of us at any time. Hence we call it an accident. The money needed for treatment needs to be saved from the beginning.

There is a myriad of reasons for people to start saving. The list is long and exhaustive.

If you haven’t started saving, this is the time.

Start now.

Why Are People Scared to Have Multiple Credit Cards?

In the recent world, banking business has provided new technological facilities that are making our lives easier than ever. Starting from online banking transactions to payouts through cards, transferring money from world’s one end to other has become a regular exercise. The two basic types of cards, Credit and Debit cards have made the transaction a simple process. However, some people are yet not used to the system and some are afraid of using it for various purposes. Here, we will talk about why people are afraid of using credit and debit cards and how can these issues be solved.

Reasons to be Afraid of Multiple Credit Cards

People usually use multiple credit cards to earn more credit points which can benefit them in getting a loan, reducing insurance rate and even get themselves a job. But not everyone is familiar with these advantages. They mostly fear using multiple credit cards because –

  • They don’t like using banks for money transfer. They fear banks might loot them instead of saving their money. They think using a credit card will increase the chances of a bank trapping them with debt.
  • The idea of taking or borrowing money from a bank makes people feel indebted towards the bank. They don’t prefer to have such a risk which can become a serious issue if there is any problem with transactions.
  • Everyone does not have a fixed monthly salary. While using a credit card, the amount taken from the bank will be charged from your account on a monthly basis. Usually, depending on the salary these allowances are given which is not applicable in some people’s cases.
  • They fear to spend too much through credit cards and end up going to jail for not being to pay the debt back.

How to Get Over the Fear

These above fears are likely to come in mind of a novice in bank dealings. If you are a regular you know there is nothing to worry about. But for that, you must keep a few things in mind –

  • Build credit history by transacting through credit cards for future loans and insurance benefits.
  • Stay alerted about fraudulent websites and try to keep a check on your payments and debt rate. Your payments on the card should never exceed your income.
  • Have an insurance and cash coverage for unexpected situations.
  • Know the law and try to follow it to avoid legal issues.

What are the Pros and Cons of Home Ownership.

Home is where the heart is. So went the adage. It has always been drilled into our brain that growing up and buying a home was the smartest financial move ever. In fact, buying a home was and is considered as a very good investment opportunity. Sounds too good to be true, right?  Or is it?

Let us look at the pros and cons of home ownership.

  1. Yale economist and Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller debates about the feasibility of accepting home buying as an investment. He says, that the returns are just too small and that the premise of real estate appreciation does not always stand true. Calculated over the past 100 years, home prices have grown at a measly rate of 0.3%, after adjusted for inflation. Stocks and bonds have given, over the same period, an annual return of 6.5%. This difference is just big to ignore.
  2. Home buying should be kept as just that. An asset to protect you and your family against the vagaries of nature. As an investment vehicle, it simply does not stand up to the other instruments available in the market. What blunder most do is to make up more than 75% of their investment based on the price of their home. There is an inherent risk because of the lack of diversification.
  3. Owning a home is an absolute matter of pride. And beyond that, a recognition of all the hard work you have put in to buy that property. It is also a sign of prosperity.
  4. Owning a home is an excellent tax saver.
  5. The question of equity comes into play. Rent paid is gone forever. It never builds up your financial equity. However, with a mortgage payment, equity is built over a period in time.
  6. Owning home lets you beat inflation, even though by a very small percentage. According to Prof. Karl Case, long-term housing did have its moment when it went a wee bit ahead of inflation. Now, if you are young and thinking 30 to 40 years ahead, it is a very valuable insurance against inflation. Not a mean task at all.
  7. Contradicting to what I had said in point 1, the house is a risk capital. Again, as mentioned earlier, a home should never be viewed as a way to get rich, because it simply does not work that way. However, equity in a home can always be linked to your portfolio.

Home owning does have its fair share of pros and cons.  It totally depends on the individual and his or hers financial situations. But as the line goes, “Home sweet home”.

Best Features from Quicken Budgeting Software

Budgeting is an art. It takes a lot of imagination and decision-making skills to create a budget for oneself. In the past all one had to budget was a pen and their balance sheets. It was left primarily to brain power to come up with solutions. The arrival of the new age has seen an advent of newer tools. Tools which have more computational power and is able to calculate a long set of numbers in a jiffy. There are quite a few of them in the market today. Each comes with its own set of unique propositions and one must understand his or her own personal needs before selecting one.

In this long list of budgeting tools stands out one name: Quicken. And it should not be mistaken with Kraken, the monster of Norwegian folklore.

The former is quite a smart tool and the latter, a legend.

Quicken has the following features:

  • It saves every piece of financial transaction information and categorizes them
  • It has a robust data visualization capability
  • It helps you by comparing your investments with the other instruments currently available in the market
  • It’s 128-bit and 256-bit encryption ensures your information is beyond the reach of any wrongdoer.
  • The software creates separate heads for retail and small business and helps you put funds in the correct places.
  • It tracks all expenses like rental, leases, rates and deposits all in one place to give you firsthand information.
  • It also comes with a mobile app. Now, this would mean you can manage your money anywhere and at your convenience.

Hence, the question that now arises is why then Quicken is rarely suggested as a budgeting tool. With so many features to go for it, what pulls it back? We see the reasons are many.

The lack of a free trail especially for a budgeting tool is off-putting. When someone installs software to handle money, the trail period usually works like a charm. Quicken does not have one.

It has way more functionality than what a layman can handle and it does get intimidating for most while using it for the first time.

Over the past few years and versions, there have been complaining about the memory Quicken eats up. Also, reports of bugs causing trouble for the budgeting tool has been around for some time now

In spite of these shortcomings, Quicken does have its followers. However, to up the ante in the field of budgeting tools, it needs to get sharp.

Saving Now Saves You Tomorrow

At 22 you are the king of the world. Nothing seems to bother you. You are invincible, raring to go and virtually unstoppable. Now pause and take a few steps back. This age, rage, and energy will not last forever. A few years down the line, when you slow down a bit, wisdom will suggest that the future holds no surprises, except old age and financial insecurity.

At 22, your effort to financial security begins.

At first, this might seem to be a scary proposition with too much information floating around, but there is enough reason

  1. Don’t get flustered with all that has been told to you in the form advice. Take an informed decision based on research. All those numbers around mean nothing if looked into properly.
  2. Start saving a little and more often. Start putting that in 401(k) and see it slowly rise.
  3. If you think the social security net will be good enough for you, think again. It is estimated that by 2037, social security benefit requirements will outstrip contributions. As a result of which, it would get difficult for you to sustain after retirement.
  4. The 401(k) is a reliable ally at this age. Start using it wisely. The money that is invested here is absolutely tax-free. The tax will only be deducted when you take it out. So this instrument is quite handy for a 22-year-old and needs to be made use to its fullest.
  5. The IRAs too have loads of benefits to make use of. It is an Individual Retirement Arrangement and is virtually tax-free, both on federal taxes, state and local ones. Of course, there are riders involved, but at this age, that should be bothersome.
  6. Now is the time to be aggressive. At 22, worrying about your retirement, investment becomes an art. Remember, you still have another 20 years or 30 years to go before you hang your boots up. You can take a risk now. Look out for stocks and bonds. With age, you can slowly change tracks and become conservative. Now is not the time.
  7. There are nontraditional ways to invest too. Heard about ETF (Exchange Traded Funds). They can be bought and sold at any time and is just a regular stock in disguise.
  8. Last but not the least. Stop worrying, start saving. That is the only way forward.

Why Should Not I Pay Off My Home Loan?

No one needs to pay a home loan any more extended than would normally be appropriate. It’s a bit unsettling to have a tremendous obligation approaching over you for a considerable length of time, piling on intrigue. You may even be enticed to pay off your home loan early in case you’re sufficiently blessed to have the money lying around. In any case, paying off a home loan early isn’t generally the most intelligent choice, and there’s a reason home loans are alluded to as “great obligation.” So in case you’re considering paying off your home loan ahead of schedule, here are three motivations to re-examine.

  1. You’ll miss out on that intrigue finding

Paying all that home loan intrigue has an advantage, and it comes as a conceivably sizable assessment derivation. In case you’re in a high assessment section, missing out on this finding could mean paying more in duties, particularly if doing without it pushes you into the following higher section.

  1. You might be left with constrained liquidity

The lodging business sector isn’t especially fluid. Purchasing and offering property takes a great deal of time and work; wrapping everything up can take weeks or even months. On the off chance that you utilize your discretionary cash flow to pay off your home loan, making your home your lone real resource, then you’ll experience issues covering any enormous costs that may emerge. In the event that you lose your employment, have a medicinal crisis, get hitched, or send a child to school, for instance, you’ll need to have fluid resources available. Moving house ought not to be your exclusive choice.

Then again, in the event that you take the cash you’d use to pay off your home loan and rather spread it out over a differing arrangement of speculations, including stocks and bonds, then you’ll have more choices ought to the requirement for money emerge.

  1. It won’t give salary

When you put your cash in stocks and bonds, you can possibly secure a salary stream through profits, premium instalments, and capital increases. Paying off your home loan, notwithstanding, won’t give you salary. Rather, it will abandon you with constrained money left over to contribute. In the event that you put all your cash into your home, it could take years for it to develop in esteem, and paying off your home loan could restrain your capacity to produce wage for things like school, retirement, or other short-and long haul objectives.

 

It’s about the financing cost

In the event that your home loan conveys a high financing cost and you have the money close by to pay it off, then you should pull out all the stops. However, in the event that you have a low loan fee, you can exploit it by clinging to that home loan and utilizing your money to create higher returns somewhere else.

So in totality one can say very easily that its beneficial sometimes not to pay home loans as it saves you a lot of tax and can help in negotiating salary. One should paying off home loans in such a way that one can easily turn the liability into asset.

To Sign Or Not To Sign – Should you Sign the Back of Your Credit Card

A credit card is the most happening thing in the world of financial transaction. Gone are the days when long queues in banks would give jitters to its customers. With credit cards, there is a degree of financial freedom seldom seen in any other mode. It is also a security nightmare. Imagine, a card with your details falling into wrong hands. Apart from the monetary loss, the loss of identity to is a very big threat. As a result of which, every financial institution issuing a credit card has taken precautions to counter it.

That makes us come to a very pertinent question. Is it necessary to sign in the back of the credit card? Now for years, there has been a school of thought who followed the principle of either keeping the strip blank or mention the statement: “See ID”. However, that really does not make any sense. And the reason for this is that the signature at the back of the strip provides the card holder with an extra level of protection against fraud. You may ask how? When the teller or cashier at the counter provides you with the receipt slip you are supposed to sign, he gives a quick check to the signature done on the credit card. He or she does this to verify, whether the signature belongs to the same person.

More relevant that this is the violation you may be accused of for not signing the credit or debit card signature strip. The cardholder agreement very explicitly mentions the terms and conditions under which the card may be used. One of the conditions is signing at the back of the card.

However, the flip side to this is, many transactions do not require you to sign sales slips. And in a majority of credit or debit card transactions, the employees do not check the signatures. So basically the theory of an extra layer of protection falls flat.

The most foolproof method to keep your card safe is to follow a few rules:

  1. Do not, and I mean never, tell your PIN to anyone. It’s a recipe for disaster.
  2. Do not let any else use your card.
  3. Keep a tab on all the expenses on your credit card. This is the ideal way to find out any suspicious activity on your card.

Following these rules is far more important than deciding whether to sign or not to sign.

HSA: Guess Not Yet Time

Would the question rather be should you? Or would you? Now before we indulge in some plain talking, let us first know what HSA is all about.

What is HSA?

HSA or Health Savings Account, tax benefited medical savings account, which is available to taxpayers who are enrolled in an HDHP or High-deductible Health Plan. The funds invested in such an account will not attract Federal taxes at the time of deposit.

And now come back to the question, why shouldn’t we have an HSA?

Now let me be clear at the onset, that HSA does offer some great benefits and is not all bad. In fact, it should be a plan for the future for every young investor and savings aficionado. However, it really is not for everybody. Let us see the reasons:

  1. HSA needs time to have your funds build up. HSA is basically the combination of employees as well as the employer contributing towards that account, every payday. Now, given that kind of a rate and depending on the expense getting pulled out, it does take a fair amount of time for money to build up.
  2. Suddenly the drug prices begin to pinch. A $20 prescription drug can suddenly turn into a $120 behemoth. Now we know there is a reason for it but it usually is very confusing to understand the dynamics behind it all.
  3. The HDHP is named for a reason. High Deductible in an HSA is high. Period. Compared to most traditional health plans, the deductible here is absolutely in the north. The IRS has also asked for HSA plans to have a minimum family deductible of $2400. On the higher, this figure could touch $6500 for a maximum out of pocket payment of $12100. One look at the figure and you can understand that this entails a lot of cash in one go.
  4. One of the greatest reasons why HSA is not for everyone is primarily because of the confusion it creates. Now, as a rule, you can use your HSA card to pay for any 213(d) expense. There is a list of expenses which fall under the 213(d) expenses as per the schedule present in the IRS Code Section 213(d) Eligible Medical Expenses. The question is how many of us would actually know it. None carry a list and would probably ever do.
  5. As I had mentioned earlier, HSA has its fair share of advantages, but because of the lack of education, it becomes very difficult for most organizations to drive it among its employees. HAS does require a bit of self-research but when fully understood it does offer great benefits. Till such time, it would be an advice to look out for more traditional and simpler medical plans.

Why Shouldn’t I Use a Roth Ira as a Saving Account?

Investment account IRAs (Roth or Traditional), like other IRA items, are beneficial for a few people in specific situations. Somebody as of now said the amassing stage, holding up to develop the base beginning venture required for some common assets. Another awesome case would be money that is stopped, prepared to move without punishment, simply sitting tight for the correct venture openings, yet on which one needs an arrival and some kind of FDIC insurance while holding up.

Before the (practically) incomprehensible occurred in 2008- – amazing speculation banks (Lehman, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, and so forth.) become bankrupt, Reserve Money Market Funds breaking the buck, TARP, Bernie Mad off- – the standard way of thinking was that exclusive the monetarily ignorant would need to keep any IRA cash in FDIC safeguarded accounts at banks. Now that we’re entering The Great Depression II, it can be one of the numerous reasonable decisions for those of us who still have cash cleared out. A 2% APR yield on a segment of one’s IRA resources amid market turmoil is greatly improved than a – 33% profit for the IRA portfolio.

Numerous speculations one can make outside an IRA can likewise be made inside an IRA. The trap is finding an organization that can help you make the ventures you need. A bank account isn’t generally proper for an IRA, nonetheless. In spite of the fact that it’s conceivable to pull back cash from your record under uncommon conditions, IRAs are intended for retirement, not for simple reserve get to henceforth it ought not to be utilized as a sparing record from where you can pull back sum according to your necessities now and again.

One ought to dependably imagine that it is the retirement finance which he had put something aside for harder circumstance when one begins their life after retirement. This sum is spared essentially for the different costs which is borne by different medicinal conditions and individual needs consequently sparing the piece of IRA can make mess at the later phase of your life.

One ought to want to proceed with the IRA and ought not to consider withdrawal till the person had accomplished superannuate, as the sum spared can truly be utilized when one gets dismissal from the general population because of their maturity. Indeed, even after retirement one ought to attempt to put resources into a wide range of things- – conventional stocks and bonds, as well as land, private stock, assess liens, contracts with an IRA. The points of interest being that you get more prominent broadening and can put resources into things in which you are well known/accept with the possibility to develop your cash tax-exempt in the event that you utilize a Roth IRA. Obviously, there are principles you have to take after. Yet, on the off chance that you take after the tenets there are brilliant opportunities to run the show. Thus utilize your Roth IRA sum admirably and put resources into productive ventures as it were.