Planning for Your Future-Military Finances

With people living longer and healthier lives, it’s important to save adequate funds to be able to live comfortably through retirement. Read about four families stories throughout different life stages and where they should be at financially. See where you fit and if you are on track to be able to retire with the right financial security.

20s: Just graduated, starting a career, or a family on the way…

Often times college students struggle to save. With so many different college related expenses and student loans, its difficult to put money away. However after graduation and the debt needs to be paid off, people start to think about their futures and what needs to be done to live a financially stable lifestyle. Some are successful, while others continue to struggle. People who just start a career are often using that money to pay past debts so they cant save right away. If one is expecting a family then it is extremely important to have savings in mind.

Budgeting, getting rid of debt and starting an emergency fund with up to three to six months of basic living expenses should be enough to live comfortably at the time. It’s important once debt is paid off to not get into debt again, and keep proper funds in a savings account.

People in their 20′s should start contributing to a retirement savings plan as well, such as a Roth IRA or if involved in the military you can make contributions to the government’s Thrift Savings Plan.

30s: A family, with one child and one on the way, both employed.

People that are expecting a family in the future will usually start to save for a bigger home to live in if needed. This often times cuts into saving for retirement. If involved in the military, which has a pension, it probably wont be enough to cover both incomes. People in their 30′s are faced with saving for retirement and their children’s education. It’s important to think about your child’s education but also consider that they might get help through financial aid and scholarships.

In addition to retirement savings, people often choose to keep stock mutual funds as well to help reach long-term saving goals.

At this point in life it’s important to make sure a will is in place and your life and disability insurance are updated to protect the people in your family.

40s: Single but two children with one in school.

Divorce is occurring more frequently then ever before, with about half of all Americans going through the process of one. Once people get married, some will agree to have one person be responsible for the finances. If your spouse is involved in the military many will contribute their savings to a Thrift Savings account and if by chance a divorce does occur, it will be split but its still important to have another way of saving money.

It’s so important to manage expenses and save for retirement. If you are on your own at the age of 40 expenses are going to be more challenging. Plan to budget around 10-15% of your pre-tax retirement savings and increase your fixed income investment percentage. Be sure to update any estate plans, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts.

50s: Getting closer to retirement, spouse and 3 grown children, and one grand child.

The question people start asking themselves today are, “Am I going to have enough money to retire, or should I start looking for another job?” Today with people living longer, its reasonable to think if taking another job is necessary.

Creating a budget for retirement is extremely important because it will map out if you will have enough money to live off of.

People in there 50′s have one of several options. They can continue to work to save more money, reduce the income goal, or increase returns by increasing your risk with a more aggressive portfolio.

Get on track at any age

No matter your age, with time and strategies you can reach your desired retirement goal.

∑ Cut back on expenses.

∑ Consider tax-advantaged savings through the military’s Thrift Savings Plan or choose to save in a Roth IRA.

∑ Review your assets annually and make necessary adjustments as time goes on.

∑ Do not take money out of your retirement’s savings to borrow.

The road to retirement is challenging but with proper saving and strategies in mind it is possible. Explore your options to find your best choices and you’ll be one step closer to reaching your retirement goals

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Business Finance – 3 Blunders to Avoid And Popular Ways to Seek Referrals Today

Business Finance – 3 Blunders to Avoid

When you have your own business, it is important to follow some basic financial rules. Keeping track of the money flow and expenses helps you decide if your business is making enough money or spending too much on supplies. Your business should always have a strategy to follow as well as projected cash flow. Money is important in every aspect of business.

Below are some of the following business mistakes that you should try to avoid:

(1) Not keeping accurate records in your business finances can affect a business negatively.

It can hurt cash flow and the decisions and plans that you make for your business. If you find that you do not have time to keep track of accounting, it is a good investment to hire somebody to keep track of finances. If you conduct business from home, you also need to make sure that you keep two separate accounts: one for business and one for home or personal items.

(2) Not staying informed about business laws.

You need to educate yourself about Occupational Safety and Health regulations, worker’s compensation laws, unemployment insurance and employment laws. By not keeping yourself educated about business laws, you could possibly make careless mistakes that could affect your business.

(3) Not filing or estimating quarterly taxes.

Taxes are also very important when it comes to business. You should familiarize yourself regularly with the latest tax info for business and learn about filing estimated taxes early. If you don’t estimate what the cost of taxes will be each quarter, you could end up paying a large sum of money at the end of each year. Not estimating the cost of taxes or paying more taxes than you bargained for could hurt your business financially.

It is important that you avoid these business blunders so that you can be sure that your business is run professionally. Always stay educated and up to date on current business laws and practices. Not staying familiarized with business laws or your financial status could cost you more down the road.

Popular Ways to Seek Referrals Today

Referrals are important in any business. Referrals help us build a reputation and bring in new customers/clients. Without referrals, a business can’t grow.

Below is a list of ways that you can attract more referrals to your business.

• Attend meetings, luncheons or other business events and meet others who are in similar business markets as you.

Find out how other business owners create strategies to meet new clients. Attend events held by the city or other organizations where you might have a chance at meeting new clients.

• Familiarize yourself with online social networking.

By learning about other people’s interests, you can educate them about your business and services. There are millions of potential clients who are on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter each day. Visit online blogs that pertain to your market and leave comments. Be sure to leave your name website link somewhere in the visitor field in case readers or the blog owner wants more information.

• Speak with your current clients and customers.

Your current clients may have family and friends who need your services and products too. Create “coupon specials” for those who refer friends or family, and then offer introductory specials to those who were referred. Family members will often refer places of business or products to each other that they had a successful experience with.

• Post fliers, signs or business cards to attract more business.

At business events, be sure to leave your business cards, free magnets or pens that have the name of your business or website on them. People always love gifts that they can take home with them. If someone needs your services, they may call the number or visit the website that is listed on the pen or magnet.

There are several ways to attract referrals to your business. A business just can’t expect customers to show up unexpected. By going out to meet and learn about your potential clients, you can ensure the future of your business’s success.

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Managing Your Finances For a Contented Life

Managing Your Financial Habits To Attain A Contented Lifestyle can be a bit of a challenge in a world where materialism reigns. Just think of all the things you just had to have. Things that would certainly make you happier. And, then think of how long that happiness lasted. In my business (Landscape Management) I make several trips to the landfill every week or two. I see the heaps of “Stuff”, people just had to have piled high and waiting for the crusher to mash them up. Friends let me tell you as an experienced lifer (73) you will never be happy without contentment. The cycle is unending.

So What Is Going On Now? Our lives are filled with gadgets and things that either could be eliminated or cut back. Just think of the things you have bought that now control you. Either financially or personally.

1. Cell phones

2. Television

3. Cable TV

4. Internet

5. The Mac Mansion

Everyone of those 5 above are necessary. And, I am not advocating tossing them to the landfill. However, how much can be saved by making a few changes. I opted for a Trac Fone. $6.00/month and I can call any where any time. It doesn’t take pictures and it doesn’t wiggle on it’s belly like a reptile. But it is a cell phone.

Television. I had Direct TV satellited service ($68.00/month). I received 700 channels. When i found myself watching reruns on the history, discovery channels and anxious for Fred Sanford and Hogans Heroes to come on, I went to the basic local cable ($12.00/ month). Just possibly a walk in the park will do me more good than couch potatoeing.

Internet. Wonderful tool. I really need it for my work. And, I find time that i would have spent on TV keeping up with current events and world news. Here, I cannot do anything about the cost. But, I need to budget my time or else I will spend far to much time on the internet at the expense of family and friends.

The Mac Mansion. Really hard to do anything about in this financial mess we are in. However, in the future when you are considering moving on or up, think of the consequences of your actions. Will a humongous home make you happy when the tax bill hits. What about heating and cooling costs? Try to buy into a home that you can find the extra money to take your spouse to dinner. Take your family on vacation. In short a home shouldn’t be a jail.

Financial Freedom Is A Key To Financial Contentment! Let me give you a few suggestions on finding financial contentment.

As quick as possible throw away the plastic. A few years ago I began to buy money orders for distant purchases. Instead of plopping everything I wanted to buy on the credit card, I would fill out the order blank and send along a money order. Why not a check? Because, going to buy the money order did two things. It made me stop and think and it made me go do something first. Those two little steps can some times trigger thinking. And thinking instead of impulse can save you a lot of money. Sure, the money order costs. But, sometimes I would be going to buy it and change my mind. I felt I didn’t need what I thought I just had to have.

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Current Topics in Financial Services Education

For those working in the finance industry, keeping up to date with current financial services education and current events are very important. Financial services training can help advisors learn about new areas of interest and keep up with the trends of the market. Relevant subjects such as health
care are important to keep abreast of. This overview will go over some recent updates.

HEALTH CARE
Health care is always a relevant topic for financial services training. Health care costs have risen at more than twice the pace of overall inflation since 1990, more than doubling their share of the economy during that period. Even adjusting for the size of its economy and population, the U.S. spends far more money on health care each year than any other country in the world. As of 2009, health care spending made up 15.3% of the U.S. economy compared to an average of 8.8% for developed countries.

Under current policies, government spending on health care is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to rise to more than 18% of GDP per year over the next 75 years; since WWII, the U.S. government has collected tax revenue to finance its entire budget that has equaled an average of 18% of GDP each year.

DJIA: OCTOBER 2008 TO OCTOBER 2009 As you may learn in a financial services education course, the DJIA is a large stock market index. It was created by Charles Dow in 1896.

From October 1st, 2008 through September 2009, the Dow dropped from its peak of over 14,000 down to 10,000 (October 2008) to its March 2009 low and then back up to 10,000 for the first time (October 14, 2009) since dropping to 10,000 at the beginning of October 2008. The DJIA hit a closing-day low point (6,547) on March 9th, 2009.

CORRELATION COEFFICIENTS
Another topic for financial services education is correlation coefficients. Correlation coefficients measure interdependence between two (or more) variables. In financial services training you may learn how to read these coefficients.

Over the long term, different asset categories tend to have predictable relationships (correlations). For example, U.S. Treasury prices usually move in the opposite direction of stocks because people buy Treasuries and sell stocks when they are worried about the economy and do the reverse as they get more optimistic. Over short periods of time, correlation coefficients can vary wildly.

For example, from the end of July 2009 to November 2009, the U.S. dollar index and S&P 500 were 60% inversely correlated (71% inverse correlation in October). However, between January 2007 and the end of July 2009, the correlation was just 2% (an almost perfect “random correlation”).

Over a recent 15-year period (1994-2008), the correlation between oil prices and the S&P 500 ranged from +20% to -20% (random correlation). At extremes, the correlation was +40% to -40%; in mid-June 2009, the correlation briefly hit +75%.

Health care, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), and correlation coefficients are all topics of interest in financial services education. Financial services training may cover these topics in greater detail.

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