How to Use Graduation Gifts to Improve Your Financial Future

graduation giftsIf you’re graduating in May, congratulations are in order – assuming you make it through finals, that is. You’ve survived four years of nose-to-the-grindstone studying, four years of ramen noodle breakfasts and four years of frantic, last-minute papers. Your family and friends are eager to celebrate your accomplishment, and one of the ways they know how to do that is with cash.

It may seem crass to plan for gift money you haven’t gotten yet, but it’s crass with a purpose. Money you don’t have a plan for has a funny way of turning into concert tickets, electronics and other splurge items. Making a plan to use your graduation money can prevent you from relying on debt to cover your lifestyle startup costs. Consider making space in your graduation gifting for these must-haves. [Read more…]

Rebuilding Your Emergency Fund

rebuilding your emergency fund
All the best financial experts agree you need to keep an emergency fund. Keeping 3-5 months of living expenses in a savings account, certificate account, or investment account can be the difference between a temporary hardship and a life-long debt trap. Using that money instead of credit cards or short-term loans is a lot less expensive in the long run.

There are many reasons why you might need to use that money. It could be from an unexpected expense, like a medical bill or a car repair. It could also be job loss that forces you to tap out your savings. Whatever the cause, it’s a whole lot cheaper to pay for it out of savings than to have to borrow, and it’s much less embarrassing than having to beg friends or family to cover your bills. [Read more…]

FOMO: Do You Live For Now Or for the future?

Effect of FOMO on your financesDo you suffer from FOMO? For those not in the know, FOMO is an acronym that stands for Fear Of Missing Out. It’s that sensation in the back of your mind that makes you go out even when you’re tired. It’s the reason you go to the concert featuring that band you don’t even like that much because your friends are going. An adventure can happen anywhere, and if you’re not there, you’ll be the one person in the world who missed it.

How much influence does this fear have on today’s millennials? A recent Eventbrite survey found that 78 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds prefer to “invest in experiences instead of things.”  Seventy percent cited FOMO by name as a motivator for their financial decisions. But seeking out adventures, rather than investing in your future, has consequences. Its fine to live a low-maintenance lifestyle, and no one should criticize the decision to not have more stuff than you need. But that’s not always what’s happening in these decisions. [Read more…]

Is There a Secret Millionaire in Your Neighborhood?

Financial habits of secret millionaires

Photo by Lauren Wellicome / CC BY 2.0

There are two kinds of millionaires. The first group is the obvious millionaires. These are the folks who drive flashy cars, live in big houses, and send their kids to private schools. They are lawyers, CEOs, and politicians. They have money–and everyone knows it.

The other group is less obvious. They are small business owners, plumbers, contractors, and other people who practice a trade. They live in ordinary neighborhoods, drive sensible cars, and own modest homes. They may not come from significant wealth, but they will leave a great deal to their children. They have had some luck, but they’ve also made good and well-planned decisions. [Read more…]

New credit score rules: What you need to know

credit score changesCredit scores are a serious source of worry for most folks. You already know they can affect the interest rates you are approved for on your loans, your car insurance payments, and even your job prospects. What you may not know is that, last week, the Fair-Isaac Corporation (better known as FICO), changed its rules governing the formulation of credit scores.

In a statement, the company said it was making these changes to better serve the changing demographics of borrowers. FICO’s new criteria will make it easier and cheaper for more people to borrow. They’re updating their standards in response to the financial reality that most Americans are facing. However, the changes could take as much as a year to take effect. [Read more…]

Consigning Your Clothes for Credit

Consigning Your Old ClothesShopping can be fun, especially when new trends and fashions hit the store racks. And it’s usually tempting to pick up some new pieces at the beginning of the season. But buying a new wardrobe every season usually isn’t in the budget. Sometimes, even one or two new garments is enough to max out your share draft account.

Consignment shops have increased in popularity over the years, making shopping for high-end, unique or special occasion pieces less expensive and giving consumers a way to earn some money back on old clothes.

So, where do you start? Where are the best shops? And how does consigning work? We’ve got the answers for you! [Read more…]

3 Financial Decisions To Make Before Interest Rates Start To Climb

Rising Interest RatesInterest rates are headed back up. Every economic indicator, from employment reports to bond market performance, points in this direction. If you’ve been watching financial news shows, you’ve definitely heard this prediction. Yet to most observers, it’s somewhat abstract and far away. Sure, interest rates are going up; so what? And when?

You’ve no doubt heard that if you’re thinking about refinancing your home or buying a new one, now is the key time. That’s true, but that’s not the whole story. Here are three other financial decisions that can save you money in the long run if you make them soon. [Read more…]

The Best Places In Your House To Stash Your Cash

Where to Hide MoneyKeeping a small amount of cash in your house is a good idea.

It helps you deal with minor emergencies and unexpected expenses.  But to keep your stash secure from thieves, you should make sure it’s safe and sound out-of-sight.

Check out the infographic below for a list of the best places in each room to store your dough to keep it safe! [Read more…]

Three Ways To Grow Your Credit History Before You Graduate

Building Credit HistoryIf you keep up with financial news at all, you know your credit score is one of the most important and widely circulated bits of information about you. It determines the outcome of many of your adult life decisions. The kind of car and house you can afford, the rates you’ll pay for insurance and credit cards, and even the kinds of jobs you can get all hinge on your credit score.

While much of credit-building will have to wait until after graduation, there are ways you can control your credit score now: pay your bills (and pay them on time), keep your debts low and keep your name off credit card applications. [Read more…]