Under30Finance http://under30finance.com Tue, 05 Nov 2013 14:58:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6 Under30Finance no Under30Finance http://under30finance.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://under30finance.com 12 Tips for Finding Your Next Great Investment on Social Media http://under30finance.com/12-tips-for-finding-your-next-great-investment-on-social-media/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=12-tips-for-finding-your-next-great-investment-on-social-media http://under30finance.com/12-tips-for-finding-your-next-great-investment-on-social-media/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 13:00:52 +0000 Under30Finance http://finance.under30ceo.com/?p=1676 Use Social Media to Find InvestmentsSocial media has become a powerful disruption to the advertising world, connecting consumers to businesses in new ways and often empowering consumers with a voice. Investing is not often thought of as a major aspect of the social media revolution, however a recent study by Marketwire suggests that 40% of financial professionals use social media as a source of credible information and that number jumps to 60% when professionals under 40 are surveyed.

Clearly, younger Web users view social media as a more credible source of information than their older colleagues. Combining a focus on social networks along with getting finance degrees online can put a young professional in the right spot to find tips and hints about company stock performances via social media. How should a young professional look to use social media to find their next big investment?

Here are 12 tips for using social media effectively to inform your investing strategy:

1. Follow your favorite brands on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and elsewhere to find out the latest news about a company — the next stockholder meeting, growth strategies, IPO plans, etc. Since the SEC ruling on the use of social media, 80% of investors think more businesses will use social media to disseminate information with their followers.

2. Focus on an industry you are familiar with and follow them on Twitter or Facebook. Begin following small, medium and large companies to gauge their follower growth and engagement over a three month period of time. Use this information to better inform your strategy for investing with the right players in the vertical.

3. Once you’re following businesses in the industries you are most interested in, begin monitoring company mentions over time using a tool like HootSuite or Tweetdeck. Understanding the sentiment about a company is important. For example, if a business is getting more mentions one month over another and they’re all negative, then this may be a good indicator that the company is having trouble delivering its product or service. For the investor, it may be the time to trade the stock or begin investing in the competitors as result of the negative mentions.

4. Use LinkedIn and begin following industry leaders, investors and business experts for real time insights on the state of various verticals and the position these influencers are taking on the market.

5. Check trending hashtags on Twitter (and now Facebook) daily to see if any particular companies are gaining major traction across the web. Here are a few of the many financial hashtags to begin monitoring: #401k, #advisors, #financial, #investing, #equity, #bankruptcy, #taxes, #startups and #stocks.

6. Monitor your favorite companies’ stock symbols on Twitter, similar to how hashtags are used, for up to the minute news about stock valuations, insights on performance and overall market sentiment.  For instance, check out the latest tweets about General Electric, Facebook, Netflix and American Express’s stock: $GE, $FB, $NFLX & $AXP.

7. Utilize social media sentiment tools like SocialMention, TweetFeel, Trackur and others to get a snapshot of what’s being said about particular brands, companies and investors’ insights in the marketplace. These tools can help you check the pulse of a certain business and help you understand what its closest customers and partners are saying online.

8. Follow prominent financial publishers on social media. Obvious choices are The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian, Forbes, Fortune, Businessweek, CNN & many others.

9. Poll your friends! Millennials grew up with social media and are more comfortable asking friends what they like when it comes to a certain industry, brand or company. Asking a question like “what’s your favorite clothing brand right now?” might elicit solid feedback to give you leads for further research.

10. Be engaged. Don’t just follow all these tips above, staying on the sidelines. Retweet favorite investors’ content like videos, articles, e-books, case studies and white papers. By continually creating or driving relevant conversation about the businesses in an industry, you’ll make stronger connections with other investors, stay close to the pulse on the latest financial news and establish your voice as an expert on that topic.

11. Avoid being fooled by incorrect financial information and spam, which at times gains traction on social media. It’s important to research the source of every post, tweet, link or message you receive to protect yourself from making a hasty financial decision. Look out for content that seems too good to be true, that urges you to make a decision quickly and seems beyond risky.

12. Update the privacy settings on each of your social accounts to properly permit or deny access to your opinions and content on investing. The social media space is an excellent forum for discussing your investments, but at times these discussions should be kept within certain circles or specifically shared with the public. Double check your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn privacy settings before discussing your investment strategies.

What social media tips and tricks have helped bolster your investment strategy? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Brian Honigman is the Digital Marketing Executive at Marc Ecko Enterprises. He is a part of Ecko’s marketing and e-commerce team, ensuring a polished brand experience across all channels. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHonigman.

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Take Charge of Your Finances with Four Digital Tools http://under30finance.com/take-charge-of-your-finances-with-four-digital-tools/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=take-charge-of-your-finances-with-four-digital-tools http://under30finance.com/take-charge-of-your-finances-with-four-digital-tools/#comments Tue, 02 Jul 2013 13:00:13 +0000 GuestAuthor http://finance.under30ceo.com/?p=1685 Personal FinancesWhen a piece of plastic transformed into a debit card — and a way to get cash at any time, day or night — people were excited. Rushing to the bank before closing time to withdraw money was no longer necessary. When online banking was made possible, people sighed with relief. Statements and balances could be monitored from the couch, the car, or anyplace Internet was available.

Then, financial apps for the phone and tablet were created, and the simplified life was further simplified. Apps such as Square, Mint, and Google Wallet aren’t just fun to use; they finally make it convenient to take care of life’s big financial needs. Our money — whether we like to think of it this way or not — runs our lives. If we don’t understand how to manage it, or can’t easily do so, our lives are negatively affected. With these digital tools, monitoring your expenses is no longer troublesome or difficult.

Digital Tools for Everyday Use

Banking used to mean incurring fees and compulsively balancing a checkbook. Now, this can be done online from any device. On-the-go banking is helpful not only for frequent travelers, but also for those just wanting to be more responsible with money. These digital finance tools can help you.

1. Square

Square is a free app and accompanying plug-in device that allows a user to take payments from credit cards using mobile devices. It sounds tailored to businesses — retail or food services use it a lot — but it works just as well in everyday life. Square can be used to accept personal payments for anything. Having this option ensures that users can make payments even when they don’t have cash. Square also has the ability to send email receipts, which makes documentation easy for both parties.

Useful when: You want to be paid for goods and services.

2. USA Today’s Portfolio Tracker

This tool lets you not only keep track of your typical bank accounts, but it also helps you stay on top of your stocks, IRA funds, and 401(k) accounts. Its consolidation factor is what makes it special. Instead of logging onto separate websites or accounts to manage each one, you can use the Portfolio Tracker to monitor it all at once. It provides analytics for each account, as well as advice from experts on money management.

Useful when: You want to check how your penny stocks are paying off.

1. Mint.com

Sticking to a budget can be difficult. Mint keeps you in line by consolidating your financial accounts in one place. The service reminds you of your balances in each account and shows what you’re spending the most money on (food, services, gas). Its comprehensive overview can help you reach financial goals through budgeting and tracking.

Useful when: You want to look at overall finances in order to save for a big purchase or understand where you spend your money.

2. Google Wallet

Thanks to Google Wallet, money transfers can be made without check documentation. It allows users to transfer funds to friends, family, and retailers through Google accounts. The process is similar to that of PayPal’s: Users purchase items or transfer money through email, and different cards can be linked to each account. Purchases can be made over the phone, too, which makes this tool a staple for anyone who uses many of Google’s services.

Useful when: You need to send emergency money to a family member or purchase an app in the Google Play Store.

Digital Financing — the Smart Way

While all of these tools offer a wide variety of benefits, most people hesitate before putting their private banking information online. Your money and information is private, and it should stay that way if you follow a few simple tips.

  • Use antivirus and spyware software. McAfee and Norton Antivirus are two popular options that protect computers from cyber dangers.
  • Only use complicated passwords involving special characters and capital letters, and never use the same password for more than one account.
  • Learn about the website and company you’re giving your information to. Double-check the URL to make sure it offers a secure connection.

Take Charge of Your Finances

All of this information at our fingertips has changed the financial market in a positive way, giving consumers numerous choices when it comes to managing money. It’s instant, simple, portable, and normally can be done without a fee. This frees consumers from traditional banking practices. With this, consumers are able to see the big picture when it comes to their financial health, and if the view isn’t as rosy as they would like, they can seek out professional help to get back on track. It is all about having the knowledge and confidence to make smart choices — and it can all begin with a simple click of your mouse.

Daniel Wesley is the founder and CEO of CreditLoan.com, a website that educates consumers about various personal finance issues. Among some of the topics discussed are bad credit loans, credit cards, auto financing, and many other credit and financial help issues. Connect with Daniel on Twitter and Google+

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The Best Places to Invest and Save Money http://under30finance.com/the-best-places-to-invest-and-save-money/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-best-places-to-invest-and-save-money http://under30finance.com/the-best-places-to-invest-and-save-money/#comments Mon, 01 Jul 2013 13:00:29 +0000 Under30Finance http://finance.under30ceo.com/?p=1646 InvestmentsInvestors with discipline and patience to weather the economic collapse of 2008 have been rewarded with a stock market that has gained more than 135 percent between its March 9, 2009 low and May 28, 2013 record close.

Unfortunately many people sit on the sidelines and wait for the best time to begin. The adage “buy low, sell high” typically becomes “buy high, sell low” for inexperienced investors. A balanced approach to savings and investing, reserving a certain percentage toward less risky positions and putting a percentage toward higher risk, higher yielding vehicles, will improve your performance.

A Primer on Investments and Savings

It is important to understand basic concepts associated with investing and savings in order to determine how your money should work for you. One of those concepts relate to time and its impact on returns. The longer it takes for you to invest your money, the harder it needs to work for you.

Using two strategies, dollar cost averaging and portfolio rebalancing, you can see how determining a portfolio based on their risk profile and maintaining a disciplined approach through a process of rebalancing assets to achieve a desired return should result in the achievement of your financial goals.

Understanding Risk/Reward Tradeoff

Some investment and savings vehicles have a greater risk profile than others. Their risk, however, corresponds to the amount of return on your money that you should expect. The more passive or guaranteed an investment or savings vehicle is, the less it will yield versus those investment and savings vehicles that are more aggressive and not guaranteed.

The tradeoff between risk and reward is typically represented in a pyramid. The higher you go on the pyramid, the higher the risk (that the vehicle may lose all of its value), but the higher the potential return. Stocks tend to be at the top of the pyramid while guaranteed investments like certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market accounts are at the bottom.

An economist by the name of Harry Markowitz in 1952 discovered what is known to professional investors as the efficient frontier, as part of the Modern Portfolio Theory or MPT. The MPT shows a set of portfolios that consist of a mix of portfolios blended with different assets. Along the frontier, a varying percentage of those assets will move them closer to a desired return. An over concentration of any one asset (e.g., higher percentage of stocks or savings vehicles like CDs) may result in the portfolio moving away from your desired return.

Planning your Investments

You should plan your investment and savings strategy by first prioritizing your needs and time horizon for investing. As an example, if you are looking to buy a house in five years, tying your money up in a guaranteed fixed annuity would not be advisable because of the fees and penalties associated with accessing the money in such a short time frame. If you plan to retire in five years, putting all of your money in an aggressive growth fund may prove disastrous as short term swings in the market will result in a loss of your principal before retirement begins.

This article was contributed by Mark Cunningham, entrepreneur, small business supporter and casual day trader. Mark writers on behalf of Ashley D. Adams, PLC, who specializes in securities litigation, helping those who have fallen victim to fraud and white collar crimes.

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Five Things They Don’t Tell You about Payday Loans http://under30finance.com/five-things-they-dont-tell-you-about-payday-loans/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=five-things-they-dont-tell-you-about-payday-loans http://under30finance.com/five-things-they-dont-tell-you-about-payday-loans/#comments Fri, 28 Jun 2013 13:00:59 +0000 Under30Finance http://finance.under30ceo.com/?p=1696 Payday LoansAnyone who has listened to the radio, watched late-night television, or browsed the internet has seen ads for “EZ Payday Loans!” “Overnight Payday Loans! ”Low-Fee, Confidential Payday Loans!”  If you check your spam box, you might even see ads for these offers, which should be your first clue as to how these loans work.  All these advertisements use many different names to talk about the same thing; payday loans, cash advance loans, check advance loans, post-dated check loans, or deferred deposit check loans.  While you may think that these offers are harmless, these quick loans can be very damaging.

Payday loans offer devastatingly high costs for small, short-term loans.  The lender forwards cash up front in exchange for a personal check payable to the lender for the borrowed amount, plus a fee.  The borrower might also agree to an electronic withdrawal from their checking account on the due date.  The loans are for short periods of time, one to four weeks, enough time for the borrower to have cash available until payday.  However, many people go into these arrangements without understanding them.  Let’s look at some of the things people often don’t realize before they take on a payday loan.

1.)  Fees for Payday Loans are Exploitatively High.

The fees charged for taking out a payday loan are usually either a percentage of the amount borrowed or calculated based on every $100 you borrow.  On top of this, if you extend or “roll-over” the loan, you will pay additional fees for each extension.  While this may not sound expensive, studies have shown that the interest rates on payday loans ultimately total from 390% to nearly 900%.  Of course, most lenders don’t quote accurate interest rates to their customers. These fees are often hidden in the fine print of their contracts.

2.)   Lenders are not Up-Front with the Structure of Payday Loans.

A hypothetical customer borrows $300 until their next paycheck.  This customer writes a check to the lender for $345, which includes not only the original $300, but also a $45 fee.  The lender gives the customer $300, holding the customer’s check until an agreed-upon date.  On that date, either the customer redeems the check from the lender by paying the $345 in cash, or the lender deposits the check.  The customer may also roll over the loan by paying a fee to extend the loan for another two weeks.

3.)   Often, Payday Loans Lead to a Vicious Cycle of Debt.

Cash advance loans are a dangerously expensive method of obtaining short-term credit.  In the above example, the initial loan’s cost is a $45 finance charge.  If that charge is rolled over every two weeks, that can add up to $1,170 for a year, or a 390 percent APR (annual percentage rate).  It is no surprise that many people find they are unable to pay back their loans.   This is how a vicious cycle of debt and extensions begins that can cost many thousands more than the initial loan.

4.)   Plenty of Good Alternatives

On any loan, you should compare the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and the finance charge, and choose the offer with the lowest APR.  You might also consider a small loan from your credit union or bank, or asking your employer for a pay advance.  A cash advance on your credit card is another solid, though more expensive than the prior suggestions.  Finally, you might ask your creditors for more time to pay your bills, as even the fees from a delayed payment might be less than a payday loan’s fees.

5.)    It is Easy to Avoid the Need for Payday Loans.

First, budget realistically, and avoid unnecessary purchases.  Try to set aside some savings for emergencies.  You also might talk to your bank about overdraft protection for your checking account, which will protect you from incurring fees for bounced checks.  If you take these measures, and you still find yourself having short-term cash problems on a regular basis, or if you just need help developing a budget or paying off debt, make an appointment with a consumer credit counseling service.  All these methods can help make payday loans totally unnecessary.

If, after all this, you come to the conclusion that you must use a payday loan, borrow only as much as you can afford to pay with your next pay check, while still having enough to make it to following payday.  Spending beyond your means is always a bad idea.  Payday loans are an exploitative and poor fix to easily manageable financial difficulties.  They take advantage of the desperation of people living hand to mouth, robbing them of billions of dollars a year in hidden fees and roll-over costs.  Use some basic budgeting, and don’t fall victim to these immoral companies.

Helen works in marketing and finance for Clickinks.com, online distributor of brother ink cartridges and other ink cartridges for your printing needs. Helen loves her job, when she is not in the office she enjoy playing the piano and learning how to code.

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5 Ways to Rent With Bad Credit http://under30finance.com/5-ways-to-rent-with-bad-credit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-ways-to-rent-with-bad-credit http://under30finance.com/5-ways-to-rent-with-bad-credit/#comments Thu, 27 Jun 2013 13:00:32 +0000 Under30Finance http://finance.under30ceo.com/?p=1672 RentingThere are three major essentials in life: Food, Clothing and Shelter. Without these three, no one lives a decent life. Without food, you die. Without decent clothing, you won’t be able to go out of the house in a presentable manner to work and keep feeding yourself. Without shelter, you’ll either live off the kindness of others, live as a squatter on other people’s property, or even as a hobo on the street. So you probably will do just about anything in order to find a place to stay, even trying to find someone to rent a home to you despite your bad credit.

The bad part about trying to rent when you have bad credit is that your potential landlord may not trust you enough. Thus, when it comes to finding a bad credit rental, the owner may either flat-out reject you or make you pay a premium on a security deposit. Neither of which will sound appealing to you.

So how do you go about renting your place with bad credit?

Look for rental places with no credit check required.

In this economy, some landlords may consider renting in spite of your bad credit to keep their rental properties occupied. Choosing these places, if you can find them, should be your last option as doing so may result in a vicious cycle.

Bite the bullet and pay the security deposit.

Sometimes, the only way that a landlord will agree to rent a place to a person with bad credit will be if there is a substantial security deposit paid. If you can afford the security deposit, then go for it.

If you can handle a higher rental fee, then go for it.

If your landlord is serious about a credit check and finds that you have bad credit, try and negotiate for a higher monthly fee. This way, he might consider relenting and allowing you to rent.

Consider having someone co-sign the apartment lease with you.

Another way that landlords will feel comfortable enough to rent a place to a person with bad credit will be when there is a guarantee that the rent will be paid even if the renter does default on the payments. Having a guarantor or co-signer may put your landlord’s mind at ease.

Consider moving in with your parents or with your relatives before trying to rent an apartment again.

The time you spend staying with your parents or with relatives will save you what you will otherwise pay on rent. It will also bide you the time to work on turning your credit status around. You could spend this time repaying credit card debt, if you need to. If you’re done paying back your credit card debt, spend this time managing a secured card properly. Having less expense, as in having no rent to pay, will allow you to manage the rest of your budget better, ensuring that you won’t incur new credit card debt.

Private landlords actually abound, and there are reports of these landlords not requiring a credit check. However, staying in the bad credit demographic will cost you so much: credit worthiness, opportunities to apply for loans that may give you the leverage you need, and possibly even a job. Even if you will be able to secure a home or an apartment to rent, bad credit is still going to be a pain for you in other areas of your life. Thus, it is still a good idea to work on neutralizing bad credit.

Neutralizing bad credit will take a while, but with patience and perseverance, you will be able to get back to black in due time. If you must, you may even use those countdown tickers that will help motivate you towards turning your credit from bad to good. Seeing your progress will encourage you to keep going, and before you know it, your bad credit rating may have already turned to a good credit standing. Think about the perks of being in the good credit group, the task may be monumental, but it will be worth it in the end.

Now that you know how bad credit affects you when renting a house, you have to be serious about getting back in the black and neutralizing bad credit. In the long run, it is going to be advantageous to you anyway.

Amy Johnson is an active finance blogger who is fond of sharing interesting finance related articles to encourage people to manage and protect their finances.

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Great Ways to Avoid Debt and Bankruptcy http://under30finance.com/great-ways-to-avoid-debt-and-bankruptcy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=great-ways-to-avoid-debt-and-bankruptcy http://under30finance.com/great-ways-to-avoid-debt-and-bankruptcy/#comments Wed, 26 Jun 2013 13:00:54 +0000 Under30Finance http://finance.under30ceo.com/?p=1669 Personal FinancesBelieve it or not, you can live an enjoyable and healthy lifestyle without getting in over your head in debt. The best way to avoid taking on more debt than you can handle and having to file for bankruptcy is to take control of your personal finances and your spending habits. Money is not a mysterious thing; you just have to make the numbers balance out in your favor. Here are some ways to help you avoid the pain of debt-induced bankruptcy.

Track Your Spending

Many people have no idea where there money goes. Do yourself a favor and track your spending for one month. Keep all your receipts for everything. At the end of the month, group your purchases into categories and tally everything up. This will help you look for areas where you are spending far more than you should. Figuring out your typical spending habits will also help you be more prepared when you sit down and create your budget.

Budgeting for Direction

If you don’t have a personal budget, you might as well be flying blind when it comes to managing your money. The “spend as you go and figure out how to pay for it” later approach often leads down the road to bankruptcy. List all your monthly expenses including allowances for things like gas, food, clothing, etc. Tally up your expenses and compare it to your income. If you have more expenses than income, you have to either cut costs or earn more money.

Rainy Day Saving

Keep in mind that your income needs to exceed your expenses and instead of spending that surplus, you should save it. Have at least two types of savings accounts, one for unexpected emergencies, and one for your retirement. Your emergency savings account is your back-up fund for unplanned events so that you don’t have to borrow money to cover these expenditures. If you have additional goals, such as taking vacations, you should save for those things as well.

Prioritize Your Purchases

There are two types of purchases: the things you want, and the things you need. While this may seem blunt, you have to learn to recognize the difference between the two. You may need to buy new clothes for a job interview. However, buying new clothes because you see something you like and it is on sale is a want. Cut back the “want” purchases to what you can reasonably afford within your budget and without paying for them with credit.

Tackle Student Loans

For many people under 30, student loans is their biggest single debt. Even if you file for bankruptcy, they do not go away. If you are struggling with massive student loan debt, look into options like deferment or forbearance. There are a variety ways to get help paying off your student loan debt, so explore your options. The situation may not be quite as bleak as you think and you may even be able to free up some money in your budget.

Hold Off on Buying a Home

Buying a house before you are in good financial shape is one of the easiest ways to get in over your head. As a renter when something breaks, you call the property owner or management company and they take care of it. When you own a home, suddenly you’re responsible for everything.  You should be paying your bills on time, saving money, and have a good size nest egg, separate from your home down payment, before you consider buying a home.

Eat at Home

The thought of coming home and cooking after a long, hard day at work may make you cringe, but cooking your own meals is far cheaper than eating out. Try to make most of your meals at home, including lunches to take to work, and saving dining out for “date nights” or an occasional night out with friends. You will actually find that when you do “splurge” and order take-out or dine out, you will enjoy it more because it’s a rare treat.

Stay DINKs for a While

DINK is a common acronym for “dual income, no kids.” While not everyone approves of this term, there are some advantages of being a DINK you should consider. The biggest one is that having a family is expensive. No one is saying that you shouldn’t have a family, but wait until your finances can support the cost of raising children. As with buying a home, starting a family is something you should plan on and be financially prepared for.

Don’t Get Swiped Out

Overusing your credit cards can be killer. Keep in mind that unless you pay off your credit card balances during the grace period, you pay interest that adds to the cost of every purchase that you make. If you do that, you might as well be throwing your hard-earned money out the window. For the sake of keeping a good credit rating, it is good to have one or two cards that you use for small purchases, but pay the bills off everything month so they don’t charge you interest.

Take Care of Your Vehicle

A surprising number of car problems happen simply because the owner didn’t keep up with regularly scheduled car maintenance. Make sure to get your oil changed on time. Regularly check your fluids. Don’t wait until your tires are practically worn to nothing before replacing them. While these things do cost money, they are expenses you can plan on and work into your budget. Keeping up with your car’s maintenance will help save you money in the long run.

Admittedly, some of these things are difficult to do if you don’t earn a lot of money to begin with. However, that is even more reason why you need to be thrifty and make smarter financial decisions. Stretching a limited income is difficult as it is, but it becomes nearly impossible if you have bad spending habits. Instead of running up bills that you can’t pay, cut back on some of your expenditures until you can afford them.

Tony Standin is a personal finance specialist with a passion for helping others live strong financial lives. He’s filed for bankruptcy himself and knows how tough it can be to get over serious debt, but he’s living proof that it’s possible.

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Keeping Tabs on Your Credit http://under30finance.com/keeping-tabs-on-your-credit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=keeping-tabs-on-your-credit http://under30finance.com/keeping-tabs-on-your-credit/#comments Tue, 25 Jun 2013 13:00:15 +0000 Under30Finance http://finance.under30ceo.com/?p=1640 CreditIf you depend on credit to help you get by each month, there is a good chance you may be placing your credit rating at risk. Many people are unaware of the dangers in carrying a balance on their credit card, and how a single late payment can impact their credit score. Since new employers often review the credit rating of potential employees, tracking your credit is more important than ever. Here are some tips to help you understand credit, and how you can maintain good credit.

Common Credit Concerns

A high credit rating is awarded to people based on multiple factors including the following:

· Timely payment history

· Length of credit history (how long ago was your first credit card opened)

· Hard inquiries (limit how often you apply for credit)

· Balances (keep the total balance below 30% of the total credit limit available)

· Number of accounts open

Learning to balance your debt-to-income ratio can make a huge impact on your overall credit rating. It is important to pay your bills on time, and to focus on limiting your dependency upon credit. This will help you to maintain a higher credit rating.

Late Payments

Each payment you make to a lender is tracked each month. A single late payment can drop your credit rating by 90-110 points or more. The amount of points that will be dropped will be based on how late the payment was made, your previous payment history, and how many accounts had late payments. The impact from a late payment will lessen over time, but it will remain on your credit report for seven years.

Co-Signer

While you may not think being a co-signer on a friend’s car seems like a big deal, it can hurt your credit. If the co-signer fails to pay on time, it is your obligation to meet the monthly payments for them. Many co-signers do not receive a notice of the late payment before the derogatory information hits their credit report.

Identity Theft

A person that steals your identity can destroy your credit rating in a hurry. It can take months for the credit bureaus and fraud departments to fix issues related to identity theft. The first thing you need to do is place a freeze on your credit report. All three credit reports must receive a written letter from you that is sent by certified mail. Within five business days after receiving your request, the credit bureaus will place a freeze on the account. You must notify the police immediately if your identity has been stolen. You must fill out an Identity Theft Affidavit from the Federal Trade Commission to help you reclaim your identity. Your lenders may ask for a copy of the affidavit to close your accounts. Many victims of identity theft end up having multiple loans and credit cards opened in their names. It is vital to close all of the accounts in your name to limit the damage done to your name and credit rating.

Review Your Report

If there are errors on your credit report it can damage your credit rating. Review your credit report at least three times per year to check for late payments. Do you have an account that was marked as unpaid that was actually paid on time? Check with each credit bureau to find out where you can send a formal letter to dispute the mistake. The credit bureaus will send you a letter once they have checked the error and fixed it on your report. This can boost your credit score by several points.

This article was contributed by Mark Cunningham, entrepreneur and former financial advisor . If you’re looking for a job in the banking industry –small or large—Mark recommends searching for banking jobs with moneyjobs.com. Just visit moneyjobs.com.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com 

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Real Estate Investment: Go or No Go http://under30finance.com/real-estate-investment-go-or-no-go/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=real-estate-investment-go-or-no-go http://under30finance.com/real-estate-investment-go-or-no-go/#comments Mon, 24 Jun 2013 13:00:21 +0000 Under30Finance http://finance.under30ceo.com/?p=1632 Real EstateSo you’ve come to a point in your life where you have dispensable money that you want to multiply. You somehow see yourself sipping fresh juice off a coconut shell, under a shade where the warm breeze of the sea touches your face. You’re quite decided on building your retirement fund through real estate.

You already know the pros and the cons of real estate investing. You have a very good grasp of the idea that however real estate translates to tangible asset, it has the downside of not being liquid at all. No matter how quickly you get a buyer who’s head over heels for your property, closing the deal requires more than a firm handshake. It takes a month on the average. Although compared to stock investments where you have the upper hand of buying and selling quickly, you get something more than a computer screen that shows you what you own. You get a property or properties that have true value. And no matter how tough times get, real estate will still have value because housing is a basic need. Take it from Maslow and his long withstanding hierarchy of needs.

Now you’re down to choosing the real estate properties that would actually do you good. Here’s a list you might find useful:

1. Do it before it’s too late.

The current state of real estate can do better, we know that. But that shouldn’t stop you from taking advantage of low home prices and low interest rates. It is better to invest sooner than later when prices get back to how they used to be. And according to research, the real estate market is starting to recover, with a considerably lower loss for 2009 compared to 2008. So better to act upon the pos

2. Familiarize yourself with your options.

What is your strategy and your end-goal? Do you see yourself being a landlord or someone who restores and resells properties? Are you leaning towards investing in apartments or condominiums, or purchasing land that you yourself can develop? If you are a first time real-estate investor, you may want to jump in on the bandwagon and start with residential housing. It is easier to understand, buy, and manage than other kinds of properties. If you own your own house, that already gives you relevant experience.

3. Do not get fooled.

A cheap house is nothing more than that—a cheap house. Although it may be tempting to try and cut down on costs by buying what’s cheaper, a cheap house does not necessarily equate to a good investment.

4. Find the right place.

If you’re looking into real estate leasing, you have to determine if the city or town where your property is located is attracting people to migrate to the area (i.e. if it is creating long-term jobs). If you’re going to rent out an apartment and you’re eyeing families as your market, you might want to consider units with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. It would also help to gravitate on neighborhoods with low crime rates, and locations with nearby schools. On the other hand, if you want a condominium unit to rent out to young professionals, look for one that’s near public transportation, shopping malls, and central business districts.

5. Consider your bottom-line.

Let’s face it. Investing is driven by one thing: revenue. After you have determined a market and location that is slated to increase in jobs and population, you can now weigh whether your choice of property can be rented out for more money than it cost you to own and operate.

6. Don’t play God.

We know you’re old enough now and you can make your way through life. But it wouldn’t hurt to build a supporting cast. Befriend an attorney for consultations on tenant issues, or an accountant to help you understand taxes of investing, or even a plumber to fix sudden leaks.

Whatever you decide, you have to keep in mind that success is never risk-free. Understand that real estate investing is a business. You have to work smart and always make sensible decisions. And lastly, don’t invest because you have money to spend. Invest because you foresee returns.

Anna Rodriguez is a training manager for a Philippine real estate developer.  She also has varied background in real estate brokerage, investing, and content writing.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

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Cut Back on the Coffee (and Other Money Saving Tips) http://under30finance.com/cut-back-on-the-coffee-and-other-money-saving-tips/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cut-back-on-the-coffee-and-other-money-saving-tips http://under30finance.com/cut-back-on-the-coffee-and-other-money-saving-tips/#comments Fri, 21 Jun 2013 13:00:07 +0000 Under30Finance http://finance.under30ceo.com/?p=1636 Save MoneyWhat would you do with an extra $1,000 a year? Save it? Pay off a bill? Treat yourself? Having an extra $1,000 a year may be easier to achieve than you may imagine. By reducing your monthly spending by $20 a week you will save an extra $1,040 per year.

If it is hard to make ends meet each month or you are looking for more financial flexibility, there are several changes you can make to you spending habits that can create big savings. It could be as simple as purchasing a luxury coffee maker and brewing your coffee at home each morning to dramatically reduce your weekly Starbucks runs. Other money saving options are packing your lunch instead of getting take out each day, car pooling, and finding a roommate. Sometimes even picking up groceries every day instead of a weekly or monthly run can significantly increase your spending on food.

If you are looking for some additional areas in which you cut back on your weekly and monthly spending consider the options below:

Cell Phone

Look at your cell phone bill over the past few months and see how much money you have spent purchasing apps, games, and music. Now consider if it was all money well spent. Our phones make purchasing these additions fast and easy, making the money we have spent hard to remember.

Also look at your monthly contract and call your cell phone company to see if they are offering any packages or plans that will save you money on your monthly bill.

Clothing and Accessories

The next time you “need” a new article of clothing, take a look in your closet to see if there is anything you forgot about. Determine if your clothing can be mixed and matched to create the new look you are going for. If you have no luck there you can cut your clothing spending with the below tips:

• Look for online coupons or coupon codes before heading out to shop.

• Shop at discount retailers like Ross, Marshalls, or TJ Maxx.

• Look on eBay and Amazon before making any purchase to see if you can find the same item for less.

• Shop in local thrift and consignment stores to find discounted prices on your favorite designers.

• Rent a dress or tux for the evening instead of buying, as that is usually cheaper.

• If the outfit you purchase is a wear-once-and-not-again kind of purchase, sell it online or in a consignment shop.

Pack Snacks

Snacking is an easy way to spend a lot of extra money each week or more, so pack your snacks. If you have room in one of your drawers at work bring non-perishables like nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, and your favorite beverages. Also throw snacks in your purse, briefcase, gym bag, or keep them in your car console. You will spend far less for snacks at your local grocery store than at vending machines and convenience stores.

Shop at Discount Food Suppliers

This doesn’t have to be a big box bulk store, but it can be. Check to see if there are any overstock food stores in your area, discount produce markets, or discount grocers. The downfall is that you may not be able to get your entire grocery list in these stores, but the savings will be worth the extra trip.

 Give Yourself a Weekly Cash Budget

Our debit cards make it so easy to run to Starbucks, out to lunch, and to the corner store for snacks. By giving yourself a weekly cash budget for your non-bill related spending you will be more aware of what you are spending. Once it’s spent for the week, don’t allow yourself any additional cash.

Some of these changes will take some time to adjust to, while others will fit right into your routine. Just remember the money you will save and the financial relief these changes will help you achieve.

This article was contributed by Mike Gordon, recent business school graduate and penny-pincher. Mike writes on behalf of RG Brenner, who offer tax consulting in and around Rockland Country, New York.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

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How to Keep Your Home Cool While Saving Money http://under30finance.com/how-to-keep-your-home-cool-while-saving-money/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-keep-your-home-cool-while-saving-money http://under30finance.com/how-to-keep-your-home-cool-while-saving-money/#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2013 13:00:00 +0000 Under30Finance http://finance.under30ceo.com/?p=1628 Ceiling FanIt’s the classic summertime conundrum: comfort vs. money.

You want to remain cool in your home during the hottest months of the year. But you also don’t want to break the bank paying all those steep utility bills caused by running the air conditioner on full blast.

Thankfully, there is a middle ground that can be achieved by making a few easy adjustments. Here are some tips for staying cool at home and saving money.

Keep out the sunlight.

Shut the blinds, close the curtains, and pull the shades down during the heat of the day. Your home will stay cooler if the sun isn’t streaming through the windows.

Close inside doors.

That spare bedroom that’s not being used? Close the door (and the vents inside the room) so the cool air isn’t wasted in a room you don’t use. Same goes for closets that you rarely open (like those that store your winter clothes).

Close your fireplace damper.

You may not even be thinking about your fireplace. But an open damper can allow cool air to escape your home instead of cooling its occupants.

Seek out drafts.

Look for gaps around doors, windows, vents, and outlet covers. Use a match or incense stick to find them (if the smoke blows, there’s a gap). Then weatherstrip them or caulk them shut.

Adjust your vents.

Those in or near the floor, keep closed; those on or near the ceiling, open up. Any rising warmer air will be circulated back through your air conditioning unit and cooled off.

Invest in a door sweep.

Install sweeps on any doors leading outside. Make sure it gently brushes the threshold. Door sweeps can help keep cooler air indoors instead of seeping outside.

Inspect your roof and attic.

Not only should you have the proper amount of insulation recommended for your home, but you may also want to see if there are any holes in your attic or roof where indoor air is escaping.

Put up ceiling fans.

The investment you make in one or more ceiling fans can often be recouped in energy savings after a summer or two.

Use other fans.

For sitting areas, bathrooms, or other smaller areas of your home, the use of box, desk, or oscillating fans can provide ample cooling without adjusting the thermostat.

Don’t neglect your AC filters.

Change or clean them monthly. When they are free of dust and debris, your air conditioner runs more efficiently.

Insulate outdoor air conditioners naturally.

If your AC unit sits next to your home, planting some shrubs or plants around it can offer some extra insulation – as long as the flora doesn’t impede air flow.

Run appliances at night.

In addition to ovens, dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers should be run during the nighttime hours so their motors don’t generate additional heat.

Rediscover the microwave.

If you do need to cook something during the day, use your microwave. It directs most of its heat toward the food, so it’s more energy efficient.

Rediscover the grill.

Or you can simply cook outdoors so that none of the ambient heat is generated inside your home at all. Using certain pans, you can prepare almost anything on a grill that you can with an oven or stovetop.

Make minor lifestyle changes.

Take a quick cold shower when you get hot. Use a “cool” pillow at night. Drink plenty of water. Shut down heat-generating electronics that aren’t being used regularly. These little measures can make a difference.

If you take these simple steps, you won’t have to make your air conditioner work as hard to cool down your home. Then you can pocket the cost savings and use the money to have even more summer fun!

Chris Martin is a freelance writer about topics ranging from saving money to spending money wisely to earning more money. He likes money a little bit.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

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