Hope for your financial life and beyond

5 Innovative Retirement Planning Tools to Help You Save More

Enjoy this post on retirement planning tools by guest blogger Alfred Stallion.

retirement planning toolsOne of the key aspects of retirement is ensuring that you have sufficient funds in investments and cash to continue living comfortably for many years. By adhering to sensible investment principles and saving guidelines, this can be attained. Thanks to advanced technology and mobile apps, it’s easier than ever to know how much you need to retire, how much you have to save, and how aggressively to invest in order to lead a happy life in your senior years. Mobile app technology keeps progressing, and anyone with a smartphone can now keep track of his finances, and thus plan for retirement much more conveniently.

Here are several retirement planning tools to help you save more money along the way.

Retirement Planning Tools

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The U.S. Federal Budget Breakdown For Your Tax Money in 2016 – Infographic

With the first primary elections just a few short months away, it’s been interesting to hear the would-be presidential candidates take on taxes. Some are proposing to tax the rich at a higher rate to fund the federal budget while others highlight the virtues of cutting taxes on the middle class. Once again it appears the “take-more-money-from-the-people” or “give-money-back-to-the-people” debate will be a central theme in the 2016 presidential race.

monopoly luxury taxGenerally speaking, we like to keep the money for which we work so hard. Nobody in my circle of friends is saying of a tax increase, “Sure, I’d be happy to…take another 5% out of my paycheck to fund the government. I don’t mind.” Know anyone who thinks that way? I don’t.

Regardless on how you feel about taxes, they do allow our government to function. It’s every American’s responsibility to pay taxes into the government’s budget. If you don’t well, let’s just say there could be some serious consequences (i.e. big fines and/or potential jail time). After several years now of living with a CPA in the house, I’ve come to appreciate (#fear) the tenacity with which the IRS takes its job.

Have you ever wondered where your tax dollars really go though? How does the government use your tax dollars in the federal budget? The people at Community Tax have researched that question and put their findings into the following infographic.

2016 U.S. Federal Budget Breakdown

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The Easy and Hard Parts to Becoming a Millionaire by Age 65

Would you feel financially secure if you became a millionaire? I’d say most people would. A million dollar net worth provides the cushion you’d need to weather almost any financial storm. Becoming a millionaire should set your financial worries at ease.

becoming a millionaireThat doesn’t mean you can live recklessly and spend money on whatever you want. Do that and you might find yourself broke before you know it.

Nor does it necessarily mean you can stop working. A millionaire at 75 can sit back and enjoy the fruit of their labor. A millionaire at 35 still has many more years of life expenses in front of them.

Becoming a millionaire is both easy and hard. That may seem contradictory. How can something be both easy and hard? As you can see from the following graphs, the contradictory nature of that statement can best be viewed through three variables:

time, income and choices.

Becoming a Millionaire by Age 65 in Visuals

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10 Can’t Miss Warren Buffett Quotes On Life and Money

warren buffett quotes on lifeWhere do you seek out sound advice?

Your parents?

Friends at work?

A counselor or pastor?

The Bible or other religious literature?

As I see it, the problem with a lot of advice is threefold:

  • It’s not actually helpful…
  • It’s given by someone who has a damaging, personal life issue that clouds their bias and…
  • It’s coming from a person who has an alternative agenda (i.e. they are driving you to a decision that benefits them)

This makes it extremely hard to find advice that you can run with. Put the wrong advice in your head and hands and the results could be disastrous.

When it comes to money, perhaps no businessmen and investor has achieved more in his lifetime than Warren Buffett. From humble beginnings of selling chewing gum, Coca-Cola and magazines door-to-door as a kid, he has become one of the wealthiest men in the world. People pay money to sit at his feet for a few minutes so they can pick his brain about life and money.

So when I ran across some Warren Buffett quotes on life and money awhile ago, I couldn’t help but pause and reflect on how I felt about a few of them.

Famous Warren Buffett Quotes On Life and Money

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How to Choose A College So You Don’t Waste Money On Tuition

You may have noticed recently the federal government stepped in to help 18-year-olds with one of the biggest decisions of their lives – how to choose the right college. Although you don’t necessarily need a college education to have a successful career, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that a college graduate will earn one million dollars more on average over their lifetime when compared to someone with only a high school diploma. That figure alone makes attending college a worthwhile consideration.

college fund jarBut what college should you attend when there are thousands to choose from? Enter President’s Obama’s Consumer Reports-styled College Scorecard. It’s an initiative headed by the Dept. of Education where, “You’ll be able to see how much each school’s graduates earn, how much debt they graduate with, and what percentage of a school’s students can pay back their loans,” the President noted in a recent radio address.

The scorecard tool offers much more information than that however. Prospective students can input a college name into the site and receive all kinds of useful information about the school’s program. Among other things, potential schools can be sorted by location, size, degrees offered. The site is receiving rave reviews as the latest advancement in helping students choose the right college.

You will have to take some steps to make your college decision an easier one. There is simply too much money at stake for you to make the wrong choice. Here are the three most important things you can do.

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Attention 9th Graders: Some Focus Right Now Will Make You Rich

Thought I would perform a public service announcement today for the freshman out there starting high school this fall. I don’t have any good tips on how to avoid getting stuffed in your locker or fighting off that wedgie as you change after gym class. You might just have to endure those things…such is the right of passage into high school.

dissecction in biology

Focus – Work Hard – Be Rich

What I’d rather do is snap your mind into place as you start taking classes and get you thinking about the future.

Sound boring? Listen, I get it. The last thing you probably want to think about right now is studying for a literature test. And those Algebra I problems…ugh! When are you ever going to use that in real life?

I’m not going to try and convince you of the practical uses of Algebraic principles once you graduate high school. What I do want you to know is that your approach to Algebra (and all your other classes) has huge implications for your future. In fact, what you do right now – this 9th grade year – could eventually make you rich.

The Two Biggest Challenges of High School

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This Is What Happens When You Don’t Pay Back Student Loans

Student loans have helped many pay for the expenses of a college education. Of course you need to pay back student loans those even if you don’t graduate. Fortunately student loans have what’s known as a grace period – a set time after you graduate, leave school or drop below full-time student status before the loan repayment begins. The grace period gives you time to find a job or deal with a difficult life issue before you have to pay back the student loan.

pay back student loansIf you can’t or choose not to pay back student loans, you risk going into default. To default on a loan means you did not pay it back on schedule according to the terms of the promissory note ­– the legal document you signed when you received the loan.

The good news is you don’t have to panic if you miss one payment. Going into default won’t happen right away. If you miss a few payments your student loan will first be tagged with a delinquent status. It won’t officially go into default until 270 days have passed without a payment.

At that point, you will face some serious consequences. The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office lists these possible actions that may be taken if you default on your student loan:

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Should I Ever Get Rental Car Insurance?

The first time I ever rented a car I was unprepared for a very specific question. The agent behind the counter asked “Would you like to purchase rental car insurance?”

“I don’t know,” I thought, standing there with the deer-in-the-headlights look. My only thought was getting behind the wheel of the convertible I’d reserved.

So I listened to the spiel and bought the rental car insurance. A few minutes later I’m top down and cruising around Saint Croix with my new bride.

rental car insuranceI realized later my decision had been a small financial mistake.

There is no question you need insurance to drive. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, every state requires motorists to carry a minimum level of auto insurance coverage (or the equivalent in financial responsibility waivers). Such coverage is necessary to protect against damage to property or injuries to people caused by an accident.

But if you own a car, your rental car may already be covered. Once you realize the rules and what your own auto insurance policy covers, you will be able to answer the “Should I get rental car insurance” question with confidence.

To do so, you must prepare in advance by doing two things:

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How to Invest 1,000 Dollars at Age 18

I recently had a conversation with a former student of mine who is looking to invest in the stock market. He’s in college now and has some money sitting around that he doesn’t need for school. He wanted to know how to invest 1,000 dollars or more at this stage of his life and whether it was realistic or not.

how to invest 1,000 dollarsHis situation is similar to what many 18-year-olds face. They’ve worked full-time summer jobs since they were 16 and maybe even part-time ones during the school year. Their college expenses are taken care of either through scholarships or the bank of mom and dad. The money they have earned is just sitting in their savings account drawing little to no interest. Does it make sense for them to do something else with it, like beginning to invest?

The answer is “YES…Absolutely!” but with a very big BUT.

Before I get to the BUT though lets look at some assumptions about 18-year-olds that are going to impact how they invest and where they put their money.

Assumptions About 18-Year-Olds

While not true for all, these generalizations pretty much highlight what most 18-year-olds are going through:

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The Big Reason You Need Disability Insurance

Most of us feel we are doing fine if we have the four horseman of the insurance industry covered: health insurance for our physical needs, auto insurance for when we drive, home/renter’s insurance for our property and life insurance to provide for our family in case of a death. Beyond these four we think insurance products are unnecessary and a waste of money.

wheelchairsYou might want to check that negative sentiment while you read this post. While all four of those are important, they aren’t the end-all to insurance products. In fact, disability insurance, the one many people forget about, could be the most important coverage you buy. Here’s why.

The big reason you need disability insurance is that your income is the #1 tool for generating wealth. If for some reason you cannot earn that income your chances of being able to adequately care for yourself and your family decrease dramatically. A loss of income jeopardizes your present needs and your future financial goals. So unless you have substantial savings and investments to cover the time where you are out of work, disability insurance is your best bet to manage through the difficult times.

What is Disability Insurance?

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The Future Is Where Your Present Goes to Die

Hidden Nuggets Series #95 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

I’m not 100% sure about the future.

the futureI don’t know for certainty what it holds, where I’ll be five years from now or what I’ll be doing.

At times in my life it’s been unnerving not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week or next year. It’s easy to get wrapped up in and obsessed about it to the point where it hinders us from achieving anything in the present. In that way the future becomes where the present goes to die.

Don’t misunderstand. I’ve got plans. I’ve got ideas. I’ve even got dreams.

But they are MY plans born out of my best guesses as to where I see life taking me. There is no assurance they will unfold based on the expectations I currently maintain. The pathways of life can turn on a dime as I’m learning more and more the older I get.

I wish I could write a post for you entitled “5 Easy Ways to Figure Out Your Future” and be done with it. It’s really not that simple. But what I can share with you is the hope I have that my future is already taken care of. It’s in the hands of the One who does know.

“For I Know…”

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