Here are some of the tried-and-true methods, along with benefits unique to each approach.
No one likes medical surprises in the form of emergency dental or medical attention. Working adults who neglect doctor and dentist visits are taking serious risks.
Living right and staying healthy means getting the medical attention you need, and getting it routinely. Especially after the age of 50, it's smart to have a full medical exam once per year. There's a reason medical coverage typically reimburses in full for annual check-ups and twice-yearly dental exams. Carriers would much rather pay for a relatively inexpensive wellness exam or check-up than fork over a sizable sum of money for long-term treatment regimens that could have been avoided with preventive care.
Purchasing life insurance does two very important things. First, it allows you to provide for your family's financial needs after you're gone. Second, if you get permanent coverage, like a standard whole life policy, you can sell it if you ever need money in an emergency, or for any reason at all.
There's genuine peace of mind that comes with knowing your loved ones are protected from financial stress after you pass away. And if you face unexpected bills and need a ready source of funds, you can simply go online and get several estimates on the sale price of your whole life policy.
The process is fast and simple. Plus, when you sell your life insurance policy, the only amount of the proceeds that are taxable are those that exceed the tax basis (the total amount of premiums you've paid to date). Selling can be a very wise move, too—often, when one spouse passes away, when there's a dire need to pay unexpected medical or other kinds of bills, or the premiums become too high.
Stress has the potential to cause medical problems, but it also can make you miserable. The good news is that there are effective ways to beat stress and minimize its effects. Learning to meditate or taking part in guided relaxation sessions are two popular strategies. Regular exercise, stretching, and yoga are other choices that many people find satisfying for keeping stress at bay.
When you get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, it's much easier to wake up refreshed and feeling good every morning. Having the inner calm and physical relaxation that comes with regular, restful sleep means being able to take on the day with a positive outlook and a body that's ready to withstand 16 hours of activity. When you realize that sleep is part of your lifestyle, it's easier to make a commitment to get the amount you need.
There's an entire industry based on the concept of PMA, or positive mental attitude. Classic books about winning friends, influencing people, and simply thinking in order to grow rich point to the immense power of the human mind.
Of course, maintaining a positive attitude is easier said than done. It takes effort, patience, and persistence. But once you decide to cultivate a PMA, you're already finished with the first step of the journey. The upside is that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books and no-cost online videos about how to create a positive outlook and attitude. The rewards are measurable and real and include things like being able to sleep more soundly, handle life's challenges more adeptly, and find solutions in the face of adversity.
As the classic tune from the 1940s suggests, it helps to eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive. Those timeless words of wisdom contain some potent advice. One way to make your life better is to say goodbye to destructive, negative forces, habits, and ways of thinking.
What does that mean for everyday people who seek self-improvement? It means they have plenty to gain from banishing harmful behaviors like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, taking part in dangerous sports like cliff diving, base jumping, and amateur race driving.
That's not to say there's anything wrong or with those activities when you do them in moderation and with appropriate safety measures in place. But they carry enough risk to make insurance carriers raise rates or flat out deny coverage to participants. So, if you have the desire to purchase an insurance policy that pays a death benefit to someone when you pass away, steer clear of extreme sports and risky hobbies.
Planning, both long- and short-range, gives you options and advance warning about financial and other types of problems. Consider making written, detailed plans about buying a first home, your career path, educational goals, relationship goals, whether you want to have a family or not, long-term care insurance, etc. Planning makes things real and attainable. A lifestyle that incorporates planning is a sustainable, rewarding one.
Welcome to my 2020 Business and Life Review! Usually, I separate my travel and business annual review content into two separate blog posts, but this year I’ve decided to combine it into one. 2020 was a different kind of year, and I’m sure nearly everyone would agree with that statement. It was a tough year […]
The post 2020 Business and Life Review appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
This guest contribution is by Ben Reynolds and Samuel Smith of Sure Dividend. You may remember Ben from his other guest posts – How I Became A Successful Dividend Growth Investor and Reaching Early Retirement Through Dividend Growth Investing. REITs are a topic that come up often with Making Sense of Cents readers, so I’m […]
The post How To Invest in Real Estate Through Publicly Traded REITs appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
A key financial decision people struggle to make is how to allocate savings for multiple financial goals. Do you save for several goals at the same time or fund them one-by-one in a series of steps? Basically, there are two ways to approach financial goal-setting:
Concurrently: Saving for two or more financial goals at the same time.
Sequentially: Saving for one financial goal at a time in a series of steps.
Each method has its pros and cons. Here's how to decide which method is best for you.
You can focus intensely on one goal at a time and feel a sense of completion when each goal is achieved. It's also simpler to set up and manage single-goal savings than plans for multiple goals. You only need to set up and manage one account.
Compound interest is not retroactive. If it takes up to a decade to get around to long-term savings goals (e.g., funding a retirement savings plan), that's time that interest is not earned.
Compound interest is not delayed on savings for goals that come later in life. The earlier money is set aside, the longer it can grow. Based on the Rule of 72, you can double a sum of money in nine years with an 8 percent average return. The earliest years of savings toward long-term goals are the most powerful ones.
Funding multiple financial goals is more complex than single-tasking. Income needs to be earmarked separately for each goal and often placed in different accounts. In addition, it will probably take longer to complete any one goal because savings is being placed in multiple locations.
Working with Wise Bread to recruit respondents, I conducted a study of financial goal-setting decisions with four colleagues that was recently published in the Journal of Personal Finance. The target audience was young adults with 69 percent of the sample under age 45. Four key financial decisions were explored: financial goals, homeownership, retirement planning, and student loans.
Results indicated that many respondents were sequencing financial priorities, instead of funding them simultaneously, and delaying homeownership and retirement savings. Three-word phrases like “once I have…,", “after I [action],” and “as soon as…,” were noted frequently, indicating a hesitancy to fund certain financial goals until achieving others.
The top three financial goals reported by 1,538 respondents were saving for something, buying something, and reducing debt. About a third (32 percent) of the sample had outstanding student loan balances at the time of data collection and student loan debt had a major impact on respondents’ financial decisions. About three-quarters of the sample said loan debt affected both housing choices and retirement savings.
Based on the findings from the study mentioned above, here are five ways to make better financial decisions.
Rethink the practice of completing financial goals one at a time. Concurrent goal-setting will maximize the awesome power of compound interest and prevent the frequently-reported survey result of having the completion date for one goal determine the start date to save for others.
Do more of anything positive that you're already doing to better your personal finances. For example, if you're saving 3 percent of your income in a SEP-IRA (if self-employed) or 401(k) or 403(b) employer retirement savings plan, decide to increase savings to 4 percent or 5 percent.
Decide to stop (or at least reduce) costly actions that are counterproductive to building financial security. Everyone has their own culprits. Key criteria for consideration are potential cost savings, health impacts, and personal enjoyment.
Almost 40 percent of the respondents were saving nothing for retirement, which is sobering. The actions that people take (or do not take) today affect their future selves. Any savings is better than no savings and even modest amounts like $100 a month add up over time.
Use an online calculator to set financial goals and make plans to achieve them. Planning increases people’s sense of control over their finances and motivation to save. Useful tools are available from FINRA and Practical Money Skills.
What's the best way to save money for financial goals? It depends. In the end, the most important thing is that you're taking positive action. Weigh the pros and cons of concurrent and sequential goal-setting strategies and personal preferences, and follow a regular savings strategy that works for you. Every small step matters!
The holiday parties may be over but the financial hangover is just setting in. Holiday sales for 2016 were estimated to top $655 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. If you blew your holiday budget, don’t panic. A January … Continue reading →
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Frugality is quite popular these days, but it’s hardly a novel concept. Frugality kept many families going during wartime and the Great Depression, and it has the power to improve our homes and lives today.
While circumstances can force us into frugality, and that’s not much fun, you can also enjoy life while being frugal. Here are some great ways to make a thrifty lifestyle a joyful choice and not a burden.
Why do you want to be a frugal person? What benefits will a frugal lifestyle bring that you can’t find any other way? To make your frugality a joyful choice, you need to have a solid reason for it.
Most of us don’t live frugally for the sheer fun of it—at least not at first. You probably have a reason to be frugal. Perhaps you’re saving for a downpayment on a home, paying off student loan debt, or reducing your budget to enjoy greater career freedom.
You must have a reason for being frugal that is greater than your desire to spend money.
Clarify why you're planning to be more frugal. (You might have several reasons). Every time you struggle with forgoing a purchase to save money, remind yourself of the purpose behind it. You must have a reason for being frugal that is greater than your desire to spend money.
Your reasons are likely things that will add to your happiness one day. Buying a home, becoming debt-free, or cutting back on work hours may significantly improve your life, so those goals are worth the effort to be frugal.
Join a no-spend challenge where you only spend money on essentials for a month to see how much money you might save. This kind of thing isn’t meant to be a long-term change in habits, although some people might continue after the challenge is over.
The point of a frugality challenge or no-spend month (or year) is to reset your baseline. Change the default of how much money you spend each month. You may struggle at first, but it gets easier the longer you avoid spending.
When the month of extreme frugality is over, don’t automatically resume spending at your former levels.
When the month of extreme frugality is over, don’t automatically resume spending at your former levels. Take some time to evaluate how you felt, what triggers tempted you, and what things you discovered you don’t really need or want anymore.
It’s OK if you start spending a bit more again, but be mindful about what you purchase. It’s like the Konmari method of decluttering your house, except with your finances: Let go of what is no longer serving you, and joyfully spend on the things that matter.
Gratitude can make you a happier person. When you think about what you’re grateful for, it’s pretty hard to dwell on what you don’t have. Research has shown people who regularly express gratitude often feel more positive emotions, savor good experiences, and improve their health.
It’s much easier to save your money when you focus on your blessings. Writing a list of things you’re grateful for daily can help you feel more content and less likely to crave the temporary high of buying something new.
You can still have so much without spending a lot.
Frugality doesn’t take away things you enjoy. Yes, it often means shopping around to get a lower price or doing without something you didn’t need. But you can still have so much without spending a lot.
Examples of things that might be on your gratitude list:
The longer you follow a frugal lifestyle, the more benefits you’ll observe. As you forgo spending on things that perhaps were luxuries, pay attention to the benefits you experience, whether expected or unexpected. Some of the common benefits you might see include:
The more you appreciate the benefits of your frugality, the easier it will become to keep following frugal principles.
When you need or want something, look for low- or no-cost ways to get it. Buy Nothing groups, Facebook Marketplace, local garage sales, or thrift stores may have the item you’re seeking for much less (or even free).
Frugality often means spending a little more time researching the item you need before rushing out and buying it. But you usually don’t need something instantly and can afford to wait a few days, weeks, or months. That time can save you a great deal of money. Plus, you get to enjoy the satisfaction of snagging a great deal.
If you’re just starting with frugal living, you may find yourself trying to fix something you usually would have replaced. Do-it-yourself tasks are an opportunity to learn.
Look at frugality as a part of your identity rather than a difficult phase.
When you choose to repair or reuse something rather than replacing it with a new one, think about how cool it is to learn something new. My husband loves YouTube for teaching him a ton of valuable skills, such as how to replace car brakes. Yes, this takes more of his time in a hands-on way, but he enjoys the challenge, saves money, and guess what? Now he knows how to do the same job in the future, saving us money for years to come.6. Make frugality your identity, not a phase
Look at frugality as a part of your identity rather than a difficult phase. Habits expert James Clear writes about this in his bestselling book Atomic Habits: “To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. You need to build identity-based habits.”
For instance, rather than stating your goal as “I want to save $200 this month,” try identifying yourself as someone who is joyfully frugal. Reframing your identity by saying, “I’m a frugal person” can be more effective than thinking, “I can’t wait until I can start spending money again.” All those little spending decisions are more manageable when you view everything as a means of honoring your values rather than temporarily denying yourself something.
Consider how you talk about money in your day-to-day life. Try to pay attention to what you think and say about money throughout a typical week.
You’re making an intentional choice to prioritize what matters.
If you often say things like “I can’t afford that,” you’re negatively framing your frugality. But if you say something like “I choose not to spend money on that,” you put the power in your hands. You’re making an intentional choice to prioritize what matters.
There’s a subtle yet essential difference in these perspectives. If you have a scarcity mindset where you don’t have enough and you always want more, it won’t get you anywhere. But if you cultivate an abundance mindset, you’ll see opportunities for the future and believe in your ability to realize those opportunities.
Honestly, frugality is a fantastic lifestyle that brings me endless joy every day. It’s exciting to look for ways to save money without sacrificing any of the things you love to do. I hope you’ll start finding the joy in frugality too.
When you need to separate the egg white from the egg yolk, here's an incredibly simple way to do it. Crack the egg into a bowl and grab an empty plastic water bottle. Rest the mouth of the bottle on the yolk and squeeze the middle of the bottle like a turkey baster. The yolk will be sucked right into the bottle. Watch a video of this here.
Speaking of turkey baster, you can make your own with a water balloon, a straw, and a utility knife. (Read this article from eHow.com for step-by-step instructions.) MacGyver would be proud.
If you want to truss your turkey—i.e., tie the wings and legs of a bird down for more even cooking—you don't need to buy trussing twine. Use dental floss! Not only does it come in a small container, it’s very strong and won’t burn in high heat.
If you have extra ceramic tiles left over from a home improvement project, you can use them as trivets. Protect tables and countertops from hot pots and dishes by affixing peel-and-stick felt corners underneath each tile.
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Keep your cool during holiday baking days. When you’re covered with flour, have no idea where the kitchen table used to be, and just pulled the fifth blisteringly hot tray of gingerbread men out of the oven, simply flip over cardboard egg trays (you’ll need two, spaced a little bit apart) and set the baking pan on top.
You can also use butter knives for cooling racks: Place them in rows on your counter, alternating directions. They'll keep hot baked goods elevated.
Have you ever seen those bowl scrapers in kitchen stores that sell for $3 to $10? These circular, plastic tools are easy to make at home. Simply take the lid of a round take-out container, cut it in half, then remove the rim. Instant savings!
If you're in need of a rolling pin, look no further than that bottle of vodka you have in your freezer. The chilled glass will result in a flakier pastry. Even a wine bottle will do.
Rather than buying a biscuit cutter or cookie cutter, use a wine glass or a clean, empty aluminum can. If you're making donuts, use the mouth of an empty water or soda bottle to cut out the center hole.
Julia Child probably used a flour sifter while preparing fine pastries, but you can keep things simple by putting a mesh colander over your mixing bowl, filling it with the needed amount of flour, and gently tapping or shaking it until the flour sifts through. You can use this for powdered sugar as well.
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An unused toothbrush is the perfect substitute for a pastry brush. A paper towel will also work in a pinch!
If you have aluminum foil in your kitchen, you don’t need a funnel. Simply fold a sheet of foil in half width-wise and roll into the shape of a funnel.
You can also use an “egg shell with a hole pierced in it” for a funnel, according to the book Thrift for Troubled Times, published in 1917 by Britain's "National Training School for Cookery"!
An unopened can of beans or vegetables makes a great meat tenderizer. Cover the bottom with plastic wrap and pound away on the meat just as you would use a mallet.
You’ve seen those nifty, colorful jar openers in cool houseware shops, but you might not realize you’ve got a bunch of tools that are just as effective lying around your garage or basement. Using an X-Acto knife, slice open an old tennis ball and you’ve got two handy openers—game, set, match! Now pass the olives.
Hate grapefruit, and wondering what to do with those grapefruit spoons that came with your set of silver? Use their serrated edges to carve the stems out of tomatoes and strawberries.
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Instead of purchasing a handheld juicer (also known as a reamer) for fruit, simply use one blade from a hand mixer instead. Halve the fruit and twist the blade into it for easy juicing.
The only thing better than homemade mashed potatoes is a homemade potato masher. Interlace the tines of two forks together (the forks should be facing each other) and mash away.
The tines of a fork can also be useful for mashing garlic. Just place the tines flat against a cutting board and rub a whole, peeled garlic clove against them.
Who needs a martini shaker? Instead of buying this expensive bar tool, simply use a stainless steel thermos with a screw-in lid. If there’s no way to close the sipping hole on the top, cover it with your thumb while you shake!
Kitchen supply stores sell bag clips to keep your half-empty bags of snacks and cereals more airtight. What's cheaper, and available at the 99¢ store? Clothespins! Or use binder clips.
If you need a kitchen caddy to hold the utensils you do have, read how this intrepid blogger made homemade utensil holders with plastic Beanie Baby boxes. Who knew?
For more second uses for everyday items, follow our Clever Second Uses Pinterest board! For more great kitchen tips, check out our eBook, Cooking Made Easy, available for Kindle and Nook.