Kickoff 2015: Investing Takeaways From the Gridiron

investment lessons from footballIn a country full of people who sometimes disagree on a variety of fundamental issues, we can find common ground on game days; nearly 80 percent of Americans watched at least one football game last year. In fact, 45 of the 50 highest-rated television programs of 2014 were football games.  We may not be able to agree on the toppings for the halftime pizza, but we can agree that we’re watching the game.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the same fanatical devotion to our finances, which are often confusing.  This guide is designed for those of us who should have spent more time in the library and less at the tailgate.  What follows is a breakdown of your financial portfolio the way you might break down your fantasy team, with links to resources to help you beef up your most important positions. [Read more…]

Is Your Rewards Credit Card Still Rewarding Your?

hidden dangers of rewards credit cardsConventional financial wisdom for the last 10 years has been that you need a rewards card. Obviously, carrying a balance is bad, but if you pay your debt in full every month, it’s a no-brainer. You put all your expenses on your credit card, pay it off before you’re charged interest, and rack up those airline rewards. You cash those in for free flights, first class upgrades, lounge stays and other perks.

There’s another bit of conventional financial wisdom, though: there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Free rewards sound great, but are you really getting everything you’re promised? Airline companies, faced with rising costs for fuel and labor, have started to cut costs everywhere they can. To understand how airlines save money by cutting your rewards, it’s helpful to understand the rewards systems. [Read more…]

How to Keep From Eating Through Your College Budget

college food budget tipsEveryone’s got to eat. But if you’re not careful, you can easily find yourself starving your wallet. For example, it doesn’t seem like you’re shelling out a whole lot for a steamy latte at your favorite coffee shop in the morning before that tough chemistry class . . . right?

But those dollars add up over the weeks, and pretty soon, you can wind up low on cash over a few frappachinos. Food expenses tend to be a sore spot for college students. Luckily, there are many ways you can eat well without blowing your budget. Next time you need to eat, try some of these handy tips. [Read more…]

How to Pay Yourself First When There’s Nothing Left to Save

pay yourself first with smart savingYou’ve read it a million times if you’ve read it once. Put money away. Save 10 percent of your income. Fund your 401(k) plan. Pay yourself first. Establish a nest-egg. Spend less than you earn.

But what if you can’t?

What if you simply don’t make it from one pay check to the next on a month-by-month basis? How are you supposed to “save” when there isn’t enough money to pay the bills in the first place?

There’s no easy answer to this question, but here are several solutions, depending upon what’s holding you back. In an honest moment, ask yourself which of the solutions apply to your situation. Once you’ve figured that out, it’s (just!) a matter of taking the steps to resolve whatever it is that’s making it impossible to save.

In every case, you CAN pay yourself first. As it is with many of life’s solutions, the answer may be simple, but it’s never easy. [Read more…]

Six Easy Ways To Save On Textbooks

tips to save on textbooksTextbooks are one of those necessary, but pricey, college expenses.

It’s easy to cut costs on food, clothing and even housing, but textbooks are a necessary requirement while in school.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the cost of textbooks rose 83% from 2002 to 2013. That’s nearly three times the rate of inflation. [Read more…]

A 4 Step Plan to Get Out Of Debt…And Stay That Way

four step plan to get out of debtDebt is an ancient phenomena. Yet, as recently as the 19th century, those who couldn’t pay their bills on time were usually thrown into dark, cobweb-filled cellars known as debtors’ prisons. It was a sane option considering the alternatives-indentured servitude, disfigurement, or death. Talk about debt to die for.

These days, penalties aren’t as brutal. However, the emotional toll of overwhelming debt can create a personal prison equally painful.

As of July 2015, consumer debt in the United States totaled $11.86 trillion, with credit card debt alone at a staggering $15,863 average per household. [Read more…]

How to Increase Your Savings (Without Changing Your Lifestyle)

save more without changing your lifestyleShort of winning the lottery or landing a Wall Street-sized bonus, can you end up with more money every month (to save or to spend) without giving up the small luxuries that make life so much more enjoyable?

Sure you can. It’ll take some time and effort, but there’s money to be found if you look for it.  Try these simple, low-impact financial tips to keep more of your hard-earned money. [Read more…]

Smart Financial Planning for New Parents

Financial planning for new parents

The first few days after you bring your baby home is an exciting time that can also be a bit stressful. So can the first few weeks. Many parents also find the first few months stressful, while others are stressed over their parental commitments a while longer.

It’s easy to get caught up in sleepless nights, organic baby food, and reading every book you can find, but sometimes parents forget an obvious priority: teaching and helping your child to save money as they grow up. [Read more…]

7 Tips to Help You Save Smarter

smart tips to build an emergency fundWe like to think of ourselves as learning animals. We take our lived experiences, extract valuable lessons from them, and use that information to improve our daily lives. This is how we get better at doing things over time.

However, a recent survey from Bankrate.com shows that we haven’t yet learned the lessons of the Great Recession. While Americans paid down their debt in the months since the recovery, a shocking 26 percent of Americans still report having no emergency fund. Another 24 percent have less than three months of living expenses saved. Only 23 percent of survey respondents have the recommended 6 months of living expenses saved. [Read more…]