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How To Be A Frugal Shopper

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 414)
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A frugal shopper has skills and ways of looking at things that help him or her take advantage of the money-saving opportunities in life. There are eleven of these techniques below. You can learn them in a matter of a day or two, practice them for a few weeks, and then save money for the rest of your life.

1. A frugal shopper studies other people. Do you know someone who always gets the best deal on cars, boats, or whatever? Ask him how he does it! Some people will tell you that the cheapest coffee in town is $3 per cup, while others will say 50 cents. There are probably people near you living a good life on half of what you make. Learn how others do things, so you'll know your options.

2. Frugality requires knowledge of values. It's tough to get a great deal on a car if you don't know what a great deal is. Start educating yourself on prices, especially before you're ready to buy anything that costs a lot.

3. Frugal shoppers pay cash. Things are cheaper when paid for in cash instead of credit. Want that new patio set? The price divided by the number of weeks you can wait to get it equals how much you need to set aside each week. You'll not only save on interest when you pay cash, but you'll often get a better price.

4. A good shopper looks for alternatives. Maybe you'd have just as much fun taking that discounted trip to the Bahamas as you would going to Jamaica. If you happen to enjoy pizza just as much - or more, skip the expensive restaurant and call Dominoes.

5. Frugal shoppers tell people what they need. Just mention it in conversation. Do you know how many people get free or cheap things, just because they talk? My neighbor wanted to upgrade her living room debt, and was thrilled that I would take her 3-month-old couch off her hands for $30. Glad I mentioned I was looking for one.

6. Do the math. You didn't really save $400 on that car if it costs you $500 more in gas each year. Also, be aware that some stores are cashing in on shopper's assumptions that larger is cheaper. Yes, the gallon of pickles might actually cost more than four quart jars. Be ready to do the math if you want to be a frugal shopper.

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Tips To Consider Before Buying An Annuity Policy

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 433)
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Annuities may be a useful tool for those who want a steady stream of income throughout their lives. While most annuities include a death benefit, an annuity is almost the opposite of a life insurance policy - annuities offer financial protection against outliving your income.

Buying an annuity can be a complicated decision. Following are a few key considerations for buyers before deciding whether to purchase annuity policies:

* Review all of your other savings plans, pensions or retirement funds to determine whether you need an annuity and whether the annuity you are considering is the right one for you based on your age, financial status, investment objective and risk tolerance. Is there a possibility that you could outlive your assets? Will you keep the annuity long enough so that the charges do not eat up your investment?

* Determine whether you want your investment to be steady and fixed or variable. While variable products offer an opportunity to capitalize on market highs, they also carry additional risk in a downturn.

* Be careful about exchanging one variable product for another. For instance, exchanging a variable annuity for a fixed or equity-indexed product may result in a "surrender charge" and higher annual fees, along with a new period of time during which you cannot withdraw money from your account without substantial surrender charges. Always check the schedule of surrender charges and other fees. They may be higher on the variable annuity with the bonus credit than they were on the annuity you already own.

* Make certain the company from which you are considering buying an annuity product is reputable. A good place to start is to look for the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association logo. Only companies that have proven through extensive outside review that they adhere to IMSA's stringent Principles and Code of Ethical Market Conduct can display this logo. Visit www.IMSAethics.org to see if the company is listed and for other information.

* Be sure the company offering the annuity product is financially strong. Many independent services rate the financial strength of insurance companies, such as Standard & Poor's Insurance Rating Services (www.standardandpoors.com), Moody's Investor Services Inc. (www.moodys.com), Fitch Ratings Inc. (www.fitchratings.com) and A.M. Best Co. (www.ambest.com).

* Check with your state's insurance department to be sure the company you're considering buying from is licensed to do business in your state.

* Remember, an annuity is a legally binding document. Read the annuity contract carefully and be sure your agent has answered your questions thoroughly before you buy. - NU

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Payday Advance Money Available To Borrowers For Urgent Use

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 201)
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It is very useful for those people who are employed on fixed salaries that there should be present an opportunity which they can use up when facing a need of money. This opportunity is highly advantageous when sudden requirements of money occur and leave the person helpless. This chance is Payday Advance which can be easily availed.

Through these loans, the borrowers can get money for fulfilling those needs that cannot wait till the next payday for their fulfillment. The payday of the borrower may still be too far to wait and delay the fulfillment of the need. Money is approved through these loans in a matter of less than 24 hours of application.

The borrower has to be regularly employed since the last 6months to get approval for these loans. He is also required to have a regular place of residence since the last 3 months. The borrower should be an adult national of the UK to get approval for these loans and should be having a current bank account which is at least 6months old.

The amount that can be borrowed ahead of the payday lies in the range of

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Should I Save Mad Money For A Rainy Day

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 547)
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Yes, this is a good idea! I know you want to know what is mad money? Well, a long time ago this term came about when a young lady went out with her friend to a party and her friend left her at the party with no way home. So, the young lady was mad with her friend that left her at the party and luckily for her, she had money stowed away in her shoe to take a cab back home. She thought to herself on her way home in the cab, that it was good that her mother had taught her to always have money set aside for emergency situations such as this!

Thank goodness, this young lady had the forethought to stash her mad money away so she could take a cab back home, since her friend left her in a lurch. Get the point? Having an emergency fund whether it be mad money or saved money is important for you to have. You say, how do I go about doing this? Well, you can read these tips to help you learn what you can do:

1) Set up a savings account specifically for your emergency fund or mad money fund. Whatever you want to call it, just establish one!

2) Deposit a certain amount of money on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis in your account. You may want to set up automatic deposits to your account via your payroll department. Or, you may want to have your bank automatically withdraw a certain amount of money from your checking account into your emergency or mad money savings account.

3) Try to save at least 2-3 months of your monthly salary to cover your bills for at least three months if you were to loose your job. This amount of time will hopefully allow you the cushion you need until you secure new employment.

4) The money you save in your emergency or mad money account should be used for household emergencies, personal emergencies or if you're no longer able to work. Don't use it for other expenditures such as bills, travel, etc... Get the idea? It's a savings account that you don't want to touch unless it's absolutely necessary!

5) Make sure the bank account you put your emergency or mad money into, is paying you the most interest you can earn for this account! Research as many sources as possible on securing the best interest rate you can get. Check with your bank, the internet, newspaper and other sources for the prevailing interest rate. You want to make sure your money can be accessed easily and quickly if you need it for an emergency!

By establishing an emergency or mad money fund, this will give you a better peace of mind if you need access to money when there is an emergency in your life. So, the sooner you start setting money aside for a rainy day, the better off you will be! Make sure the amount of money you contribute to your emergency or mad money fund, is realistic for your budget. Save as much as you can without upsetting your overall personal or family finances. So go ahead, get started today!

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Finance Your Child S Education Stress Free

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 449)
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In 2002, the average annual cost for a public university was $9,338. It is estimated that by 2017, the average annual cost will be $19,413. And that's just for tuition and credit fees. Let's not forget about room and board, books, food, clothes and extra activities.

With those figures it mind, it would be wise to start planning for your child's education today.

You already know about loans and scholarships but those aren't the only options. You don't have to go into debt! There are several choices to help you prepare for your child's future.

529 Plans

A 529 or qualified tuition program is a (federal) tax-free investment plan that allows families to save for their childrens college educations.

Each state has its own 529 plan and you do not have to be a resident of a particular state to invest in that state's plan.

The 2 types of plans include:

Prepaid Tuition Plans - These plans allow you to pay for your child's in-state tuition at today's prices. These accounts are low-risk and they are guaranteed to match or exceed in-state inflation. However, these plans are often limited to state residents and the cost may not be covered if your child decides to attend an in-state private university.

Education Savings Accounts- Or college savings plans are investment accounts whose value fluctuates with the market. They can be used at eligible public and private universities- there are no residency requirements. Additionally, some plans have high contribution limits per beneficiary and you can contribute up to $11,000 per year without paying a gift tax.

Savings Accounts

Even if your child only has a few years until it's time to go to college, it's never too late to begin saving. Determine where you can cut costs and put that money into a high-interest savings account.

For example, instead of buying 2 video games as a birthday present, buy one and put the extra money into a savings account. What about Christmas and Hanukkah? Sure, it's fun to open presents but I guarantee that the novelty of those gifts will soon be forgotten and later on your child will thank you for making sure that their education was financed in a stress-free way.

Here is a tip: look for a FDIC insured bank that is based online. These banks offer higher interest rates because they don't have the operating overhead of having branches. The work the same way as a regular bank except that there is no physical branch. You deposit money through your current checking account and receive monthly statements either via email or through the mail.

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Creating Surplus Cash For Savings And Investments

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 873)
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You know you need to be saving money but you never seem to have enough at the end of the month or worse, you are further in debt.

Living below your means is more a matter of self-discipline. A few adjustments here and there could be all it takes to have the necessary funds available for saving and investing.

Some mutual funds can be opened up for as little as $200 with minimum contributions around $50.

Here's a list of ways to save money by spending less.

*Open up bank accounts that have little or no service fees. Keep a cushion to avoid accidental bounced checks. These can eat you alive. Be sure to maintain your minimum balance to avoid service charges.

*Try to avoid banks that charge you a transaction fee for using their debit cards. If you have no choice, plan how much money you will need in a given period and then withdraw it all at once to avoid too many transaction fees.

*Compare credit cards. Look for the ones that have little or no annual fees. It's not too hard to find those with no annual fee.

*Avoid specialty store charge cards as they often have interest rates six or seven points higher than major credit cards.

*Never choose a card based solely on incentives or reward programs. These include auto reward points and air travel miles. These cards may lead you to spend more money over time than you can afford.

*Most importantly, avoid unnecessary interest charges by paying off the complete monthly balance. You can avoid hundreds of dollars in interest expenses on an annual basis.

*When you buy a car, consider buying one that is one to three years old. A one-year old car will be about 20% to 30% less than a new car. A three-year old car is a good buy because it could be around half the price of a new car. A car depreciates the most in its first three years. After that the depreciation levels off and it will lose less of its value.

*Another good saving when buying a used car is you will pay less for the insurance.

*When going on vacation, consider staying in your home state instead of long distance trips or even international travel. It's often cheaper to travel within your own borders, that way, you avoid visa and passport costs, border hassles, currency exchanges, tropical shots, medication, and additional health insurance. Frequently, people travel thousands of miles to see sights not nearly as spectacular as what's next door.

*You should consider off-season vacations. Travel at a time when everyone else is at work or school, and the staff will actually be glad to see you. You may also save 50% or more on the usual travel expenses.

*Avoid large cities and tourist traps; you'll save a ton by avoiding these places, where you pay more to eat, drink, sleep, and travel. If you do decide to visit a big city, consider accommodations in a smaller town close by.

*If you have a lot of credit card debt at high rates, look into consolidating your debt at a lower rate.

*Refrain from making impulse purchases. Exercise self-discipline.

*Refinance your mortgage or debt at a lower rate.

*Refinance your car loan at a lower rate.

*Shop around for cheaper car insurance rates. There can be a big difference.

*Lower your phone bill by using self-control on long distance calling.

*Use a phone card for long distance or international calls.

*Use coupons when you shop.

*Don't buy things just because they are on sale.

*Wait for things to go on sale before buying them. Keep a record of when things go on sale. Some items will seasonally go on sale. Ask stores when certain things will go on sale.

*Buy generic, or non-name brand merchandise. Most times the quality is just as good.

*Stop smoking. This habit is extremely expensive.

*Contribute the maximum each year to your 401K or to an IRA.

*Remember, paying down debt is also a way to save money. If you can make extra payments on your mortgage or go for a 15 year mortgage instead of a 30 year mortgage. The savings are enormous.

*Reduce the number of times you eat out. Oftentimes eating out at a restaurant involves paying a lot of money for over-priced and over-sized meals. For healthy meals and to save money, eat at home.

*Watch videos or DVDs at home instead of going to the movies. Pop your own popcorn instead of paying a lot for theater popcorn.

*Evaluate your entertainment and recreational activities. Many are very expensive to participate in. There are many others that are just as fun and entertaining that are at the fraction of the cost.

*Don't try to compete with your friends and neighbors. Sometimes, an apparent prosperous lifestyle can be an illusion. Those illusions come with a lot of debt. It's much better to have peace of mind.

Be alert. There are always ways to save money. Soon you will yourself with money you never knew you had. The key is to put that money to work for you instead of spending it.

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Post Christmas Financial Difficulties

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 135)
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If you've spent more than your budget can cope with, then maybe you're thinking about credit to help you through January. Many people fear the long, broke month of January. After a lovely Christmas full of joyous smiles January can see a mood swing in the wrong direction. Many of us turn to credit cards to help get through this terrible month. But without knowledge of the financial industry a person without a great income can fall victim to the evil grip of unscrupulous credit companies.

In his newspaper article, Simon Bain of the Herald tells of how one particular bank has been sending credit card applications to people with offers of a credit card with APR of up to 69% (http://www.theherald.co.uk/business/52784.html). This astounding rate applies with a credit limit of

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Investors And Financial Execs Agree Dividends Are On The Rise

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 591)
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In a recent study released by Boston-based investment manager, Eaton Vance, senior finance executives at dividend-paying American corporations agreed that stocks that pay dividends are growing in appeal. The nationwide survey of executives from all major corporate sectors also projected long-term dividend growth.

The survey, conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Inc., revealed that 47 percent of finance executives anticipate dividend growth to continue to outpace earnings growth in 2006. These projections dovetail with research by Standard & Poor's, which found that dividends rose faster than corporate earnings over the past year. Duncan Richardson, executive vice president and chief equity investment officer of Eaton Vance remarked, "With strong balance sheets and cash flows, American companies have the means and motivation to continue to increase dividends."

How long is this trend likely to continue? Of executives who believe dividends will continue to outpace earnings, a majority (60 percent) expect the trend to last for one to two years. An additional 25 percent anticipate the trend will last up to five years. However, the duration of this trend may depend on whether Congress extends the current reduced tax rate on dividends. According to Mr. Richardson, "Businesses may not continue increasing their dividends if the tax cut extensions fail to go through and dividends once again are taxed at a higher rate."

Regardless of the possible extension to current tax act provisions, "the important takeaway is companies are increasingly returning more to investors in the form of dividends," said Mr. Richardson. As many dividend-paying companies use excess cash to increase dividends, six out of seven finance executives polled said they consider a company's track record of increasing annual dividends as a way of displaying shareholder friendly behavior. Furthermore, four out of five believe a firm's dividend growth rate can give investors confidence in the company's projected long-term growth potential.

Investors who were polled last year in Eaton Vance's sixth annual investor survey agreed with these sentiments. A majority of investors polled held a very positive view of companies that pay dividends (78 percent), seeing them as predictable cash generators and viewing dividends as a sign of financial strength.

"There has been a significant shift in investor preference from an emphasis on growth investing towards a more value-oriented conservative investment style," said Mr. Richardson. "In the 1990s, investors preferred companies that offered buybacks-which increase reported earnings per share-over dividends." As the results of the Eaton Vance study reveal, a majority of polled individual investors (57 percent) now say they prefer regular quarterly dividends over stock buybacks (23 percent) or special dividends (8 percent).

According to Mr. Richardson, "Dividends have returned to popularity, and value investing has emerged from the doghouse."

Eaton Vance Corp. is a Boston-based investment management firm whose stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol EV. Eaton Vance and its affiliates managed over $113.3 billion in assets as of January 31, 2006, for more than 100 investment companies, as well as individual and institutional accounts, including those of corporations, hospitals, retirement plans, universities, foundations and trusts.

Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Inc. is a Washington, D.C.-based full-service strategic polling and market research firm.

Before investing in any Eaton Vance Fund, prospective investors should consider carefully the Fund's investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses. The Fund's current prospectus contains this and other information about the Fund and is available through your financial advisor. Read the prospectus carefully before you invest or send money.

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Saving Money On Magazine Subscriptions

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 411)
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If you are interested in subscribing to a magazine or different magazines, you may be wondering how you can fit the costs of subscribing to a magazine or magazines into your overall budget. In this day and age, many people find it very difficult to make ends meet, to maintain a wise budget. They simply do not have a great deal of discretionary money to be used on such things as magazine subscriptions.

With that said, there are some ways in which you can save money on magazine subscriptions. One of the easiest ways you can save money on magazine subscriptions is through the Internet and World Wide Web. There are now many websites in operation that offer magazine subscriptions at reduced costs.

In addition to websites that market magazine subscriptions at reduced costs, there are also Internet websites that market magazine package deals. In other words, you can obtain a number of different magazine subscriptions that you might not otherwise be able to afford for a low cost.

In the brick and mortar world, you can stop by the local bookseller and visit the magazine section. By flipping through magazines, you can find subscription cards that offer reduced costs for subscriptions to these publications. For example, they might offer upwards to 75% off the regular price for these magazines.

Also keep in mind that by subscribing to a magazine for an extended period of time, the publication likely will knock a good deal of money off of the overall subscription cost. For example, you can save a great deal of money by subscribing to a magazine for a period of three years as opposed to a single year subscription.

Finally, there are some charities that sell magazine subscriptions to raise money for their work and causes. In this regard, these magazines are made available to people at a reduced cost. In addition, a part of what you pay for the subscription is donated to the charity in order to allow it to further its good works.

When all is said and done, by taking the time to shop around, you can save money on magazine subscriptions. You will be able to work the costs of receiving magazines into your overall budget. By keeping an open mind as to where to look for reduced costs magazine subscriptions you will be able to have the publications that you want at a price that you truly can afford.

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