FEATURED POST

Advisors Management Group

Mapping Out Your Future with a Financial Plan
Just like a map or a GPS is needed for someone driving a car on a long trip, a financial plan is useful for anyone wondering about their financial future.  A financial plan lets us know if we are heading in the right direction, for example north instead of south.  Much like a long journey, life will have many twists, turns and a few unexpected bumps in the road.  However, with a well-planned route, we can have a clear idea of whether we are heading in the direction of our destination. What is a Financial Plan? A financial plan is a document that evaluates cash flow, assets, goals, and brings the information together in a document that predicts how much money and income you will have in the future. This document will be used to determine if your current strategy will accomplish your goals, or if you need a different one. Who can benefit from a financial plan? Financial plans are useful for people of all ages. A financial plan looks at money that is coming in (wages for most people), assets that you have saved so far, and what you are currently saving. This along with other factors helps to plan a path for your financial future.  This could be saving for a large purchase, paying off debt, or saving for the future (children’s education or retirement).  Financial plans are also helpful for people already in retirement as they can be used to help identify a strategy for creating retirement income, spending down assets, or planning to leave them to heirs. To prepare a financial plan your financial planner will need to gather some information from you. You will likely need to bring the following: Recent paystubs Last year’s tax return Statements for any retirement or investment accounts that you have Information on any pensions that you may have Social Security Statements (get yours at ssa.gov/myaccount ) More complex plans may require information about insurance and/or legal work Your planner will ask some questions to get to know you and find out what is important to you. A good planner will be interested in not just how much money you have, but also in what you would like to accomplish with your money. This conversation along with the data you bring to your appointment will help your planner to craft a financial plan that is specific to your goals. Your planning process will likely consist of several meetings. Costs are generally dependent on the complexity of your plan, and it is even possible that your advisor will provide some basic planning at no cost. Life will continue to change over time, for this reason it is important to revisit your financial plan with your advisor every so often to account for any detours or bumps along the road of life.  Financial plans are working documents that need to be adjusted as circumstances change. You should expect to update your financial plan several times during your working years. Generally, this will be every few years or when a major life change occurs. If you would like to find out more about having your personal financial plan prepared, contact us to set up your no obligation consultation today. Kate Pederson Investment Advisor Representative & Tax Preparer  Kate joined Advisors Management Group in December 2017. Prior to joining the firm, she worked in manufacturing and healthcare during her career as a financial analyst. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.
Read More

Category: Tips

17 May 2018

Advisors Management Group

What You Should Ask When Hiring a Financial Adviser

Many people don’t quite know what to look for in an adviser. A Harris Poll found that more than a third of Americans don’t even know what a financial adviser does. Choosing the right financial adviser for your needs is crucial. It’s not just your money that’s at stake. Your ideal future is, too. Any good adviser will take as much time as needed to help you feel comfortable with their services. However, the best way to learn how your money will be managed and if you can trust your adviser is to ask questions. The Greek philosopher Socrates is quoted as saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” When it comes to finding financial help, I say, “The unexamined adviser is not worth hiring.” The caveat? You should also fully understand the answers to your questions before signing on the dotted line. Here are 10 questions we would ask and the reasons why. 1. What are all the costs and fees associated with investing? When it comes to investing, there are always costs. There are costs associated with owning investments, such as mutual funds and ETFs, as well as transaction fees for trading. If an adviser tells you there are none, proceed no further — except for the exit. The financial industry is creative when it comes to fees though, so this is a question you may need to ask several ways. Ask if you will be charged front-end or back-end commissions. Also, find out if any of the investments charge 12b-1 fees, which are fees charged by mutual funds to shareholders for marketing and distribution purposes. Essentially, these fees don’t directly benefit you, but instead lower your return. Remember, the more you pay in fees, the less you get in return. Some advisers also sell annuities. Be careful. Annuities are often wrapped in layers of fees. If you’re considering an annuity, ask for a complete summary of the fees, including any optional riders and benefits, mortality and expense charges, administration fees and investment fees. Further, make sure you understand the annuity’s surrender fee schedule. 2. How will you and your firm be compensated? The fact is, we advisers don’t work for free. Sorry. We charge for our services just like everyone else. The tricky part is that advisers can be compensated for their services in different ways. Some charge a flat dollar amount or a percentage of assets under management. Others are compensated by the investments they sell in the form of commissions and 12b-1 fees. This is an important difference. It’s better to have an adviser who is compensated for the work done for you and not for the investments sold. Advisers should not be compensated extra for making changes to your account or selling you more products. 3. Are you a fiduciary? Fiduciary is the highest legal standard to reach. It means those providing financial services are legally obligated to act in the best interests of their clients. Registered investment advisors (“RIAs”) are regulated under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, which binds them to the fiduciary standard. This is a higher standard than the “suitability” standard that is followed by registered representatives, such as stockbrokers. Therefore, you should be aware that the advice you receive from one adviser to the next can differ depending on how they are registered. However, one thing to keep in mind is that advisers are technically not fiduciaries on the investments they don’t manage. For example, an adviser helping a client with an active 401(k) or providing advice on purchasing a car is not in those instances held to the fiduciary standard. When interviewing an adviser, ask what standard would apply to the investments he or she manages and any others you need help with. 4. Who’s your custodian? You should never be required to give the money you’re investing directly to a financial adviser. Think Bernie Madoff. Instead, there should be a third party, the custodian, who holds your account and the assets in it. This should be a reputable company that sends you regular statements and provides online access. 5. Are you credentialed? The financial industry is home to an alphabet soup of letters. Arguably, the three most respected sets of letters are CFP (Certified Financial Planner), CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst). Advisers are required to undergo rigorous testing and continuing education to earn and maintain these designations. For personal finance help, look for a CFP. 6. How long have you been a financial adviser? Along those same lines, if applicable, you might also ask how long have you been employed with your company? Further, what’s your future look like? It’s good to know that your adviser has a history with a reputable firm and has every intention of sticking around. It takes time to build a trusted relationship, which is an investment on your part that you don’t want to go to waste if your adviser leaves in 12 months. 7. Do you have any disclosures? If your adviser has any rulings against him or her, it’s important to know what they are. You can also find this information on your own. Search through government websites such as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Central Registration Depository and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck. Simply type the adviser’s name in the search field and you’ll find any past disciplinary action, registrations or licenses and educational and career histories. 8. How will you invest my money, and what’s your investment philosophy? You don’t necessarily need to know how the sausage is made, but you should be comfortable with what’s served to you on the plate. You and your adviser should come to an agreement on the appropriate asset allocation in your portfolio based on the level of risk you’re comfortable with and your long-term financial goals. You should also understand what types of investments your adviser recommends. Will your adviser use mutual funds and ETFs, individual securities, insurance products, etc.? And, how often might changes be made? Few investments perform well indefinitely, so it’s inevitable you will need adjustments in your portfolio from time to time. However, frequent investment changes can hurt more than help. Learning how often an adviser buys and sells investments will provide some indication of what you could experience. It’ll tell you whether he or she is trying to help your money grow over the long term or constantly trading in hopes of hitting a home run. 9. How often will we communicate? Perhaps you’ll need a lot of hand holding or want continued comprehensive planning. Or, maybe you just want someone to manage your money while you concentrate on living life to the fullest. Either way, make sure your new adviser will provide the level of attention you desire via written correspondence, phone, email and in-person meetings. 10. How will I fit in among your clients? The last thing you want from an adviser is to be treated as just another number. Nor do you want to have financial needs your adviser isn’t able to help you with. One way to get an idea of where you stand with your adviser is to ask how many clients he or she services. After all, there’s only so much of one adviser to go around. Further, ask how your account size and financial goals relate to other clients. Lastly, what other aspects of your financial life — beyond investing your money, planning for retirement, etc. — can you get help with. If you feel like small fish in a big pond with important financial needs unmet, then it’s a sign you need to find another adviser. Source: Kiplinger.com

Read More...
17 May 2018

Advisors Management Group

Are You Overspending on Groceries?

Parents know all too well that getting food on the table doesn't come cheap. If you're not careful about your expenses, you might just blow a good portion of your paycheck on a routine stop at the supermarket. To help you figure out if you're overspending on food for your family, budgeting website Growing Slower created a monthly grocery spending guidelines chart. The guideline, which was shared by The Real Deal of Parenting Facebook page, uses data from the USDA's Cost of Food report to make recommendations for a thrifty monthly grocery budget based on family size. The chart starts with a family of one and goes up to a family of 11. For just a mom, dad and child, for example, Growing Slower suggests dedicating between $475 and $558 a month on groceries. For a family of six, the range is $768 to $999 per month. The chart can be seen here or below: Family Size (Total) Thrifty Monthly Grocery Budget 1 $200 - 227 2 $392 3 $475 - 558 4 $557 - 707 5 $633 - 882 6 $768 - 999 7 $870-1089 8 $1013-1216 9 $1166-1343 10 $1355-1442 11 $1543-1536   When the chart was shared on The Real Deal of Parenting's Facebook page, a lot of parents were surprised at how they actually spent less than the range given for their size family. Though, it's worth noting that a family of four that includes a toddler and a breastfeeding baby is very different than one that includes two voracious middle-schoolers. It's also not a complete science — it doesn't account for the cost of groceries in more expensive cities, and it doesn't account for extra spending on meals out of the house. So take it with a grain of bargain salt, and see if your family's spending is on track. Source: PopSugar.com

Read More...
23 Apr 2018

Advisors Management Group

What Everybody Needs to Know About Investment Fees

Check out this article by Ian Maxwell that discusses what everybody needs to know about investment fees. I recently read an article in The Wall Street Journal where a reporter went on an epic quest to discover exactly what fees she was paying within her employer 401(k) plan. Unfortunately, the difficulties encountered, and the time invested, only led her back to where she started — confused and unclear. This is an all too common experience for investors today. I was moved by her story and reached out to see if she ever found answers to the valid questions she was asking. Her response was telling. She was receiving so many emails in response to her article, more response than she had received from anything else she had ever written, that she felt she did not have time to even set up a quick call. This got me wondering, why are fees such a hot topic, consistently generating significant attention and emotional turmoil? I think it comes down to one key concept: value. Most people are OK paying for something if they can perceive an appropriate amount of value in it. Based on the complexity and confusion often encountered when trying to clearly understand how much you are paying in fees, how can anyone decide if they are getting value? If you have no idea what you are paying, how can you make this important decision? No one likes the feeling of being confused or that feeling of being kept in the dark, especially when trying to decide if they are willing or unwilling to pay for something. We live in the “information age.” We have access to more technology and more information on our phones today than NASA scientists had when launching rockets into space 30 to 40 years ago, and this is also true of professionals in the world of financial services. There is no reason why it should be so hard to clarify and clearly explain investment fees so that the investor can decide if the options being presented provide the desired levels of value. Especially when considering the push for fiduciary standards across the financial services industry, clients and investors should come to expect 100% disclosure and clarity when it comes to understanding the investment fees they are going to pay. Getting back to the question of why fees are such a hot topic, I do not think it is because fees are inherently bad - this is how many financial services professionals get paid, and there is nothing wrong with that as most provide a valuable service to their clients. The issue, I think, is feeling a lack of control and awareness when a client or investor wants to know what they are paying, and finding that no one is able to quickly provide an exact answer. That is anything but comforting. How can an adviser uphold his or her fiduciary commitment to clients if they can neither understand, nor clearly explain fees? How can an adviser be sure they are doing what is in the client’s best interests? Again, it is not the fees that are inherently bad, it is the lack of clarity surrounding them. It is the complete inability to decide if the fees are fair, if they make sense, if the services being provided for the fees are helping to reach defined goals, and if they are providing value. When starting your investigation into investment and advisory fees, there are a few basic categories you can use to help clarify who you are paying and exactly what you are paying for. I encourage people to have a clear understanding of their “All In” number so they can understand the total they are paying in fees. See the categories below: Adviser Fee This is the fee that is charged by your financial adviser if you have decided to hire someone for additional help. This can range widely based on different pricing structures, but annual averages should be somewhere around 1% - 1.5% of assets under management, depending on account size. Other advisers charge by the hour. The adviser fee is sometimes mistaken for all the fees the client is paying, but this is not usually the case. Investment Management Fees These are the fees charged by money managers to manage the funds and strategies being used to invest client money. These can range widely and can drive up the “All In” number behind the scenes without proper disclosure and close monitoring. Investment management fees can range from 0.3% - 2.5% per year levied on the amount invested. Platform Fees Depending on how the adviser is setting up his or her investment models, there may be added fees for the investment platform being used. These fees can range in the area of 0.5%. These can be harder to spot and often relate to different custodians and/or TAMP-UMA services. Transaction Costs These also happen behind the scenes and can cause the most difficulty when trying to find them out. Depending on the investment style of the funds being used, there can be costs for buys and sells executed to adjust the holdings of a given fund or strategy. They vary from year to year. An efficiently run fund could cost a few hundred dollars per year in addition to adviser, platform and management fees. Use these criteria to guide your search for understanding your fees and add them all up to get your true “All In” number. With this number in mind, now you can properly assess if it is worth it or if you want to look around to find better value elsewhere. Keeping everything at or below 2% is a decent general benchmark to keep in mind. For example: A 1.2% adviser fee, investment management fees of 0.5%, and a platform fee of 0.3% would give you an “All In” total fee of 2% before counting transaction costs. It should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes to find an answer to the simple question, “What am I paying in fees?" If it takes more than 30 minutes of actual research, or no one can get back to you within a few hours with a clear answer, you may want to reconsider who you are working with when seeking financial advice. Source: Kiplinger.com

Read More...
20 Mar 2018

Advisors Management Group

Are You Investing or Speculating?

Do you feel hesitant to put more of your money in the market because it feels like a gamble? Even seasoned investors can get nervous about investing their hard-earned money, because all investments come with risk. And for most people, the thought of losing the money you worked hard to earn is far more painful than the chance of possibly earning more. But here’s the thing: If you’re investing wisely, you can mitigate your risks through the right strategies, like appropriate asset allocation and diversification. You still risk experiencing temporary losses, but it’s not the same as taking your cash to the blackjack table. Some people, though, treat investing that way. They throw money into the market without a plan, without a strategy, and without the proper safeguards in place to protect against unnecessary risks. In other words, they don’t invest at all. They speculate, and they often experience wild swings and major losses in their portfolios as a result. What Are You Doing with Your Wealth? Benjamin Graham wrote about how to identify a speculator in his great investment book, The Intelligent Investor. He explained that “the speculator’s primary interest lies in anticipating and profiting from market fluctuations. The investor’s primary interest lies in acquiring and holding suitable securities at suitable prices.” Graham goes on to write that investors do care about market movements — but only from a practical standpoint, not because they get emotionally involved with volatility. Movements in a market, said Graham, “alternately create low price levels, at which [the investor] would be wise to buy, and high price levels, at which [the investor] certainly should refrain from buying and probably would be wise to sell.” Based on this definition, “investors” are not just individuals who put money into the market. Investors are people who purposefully, strategically and rationally buy and sell securities. Speculators, on the other hand? Those are individuals who also buy and sell in the market — but they do so emotionally and without a strategy. So, on which side of the spectrum do you fall? Are you investing or speculating? If you’re unsure, consider this list of activities and behaviors. If you’re checking the boxes here, you might be speculating: You think about the short term. You’re trying to earn a big return in a short amount of time. Rather than planning to invest over years or decades, you want to see a return within months, weeks or even days. You act based on hunches, guesses or tips. No one knows what the market is going to do tomorrow (let alone any one individual security in that market). If you base your investments off of predictions, forecasts or what someone else told you was going to happen… that’s speculating, not investing. And yes, this holds true even if the hunch came from a so-called “expert” on a financial TV program! You let your emotions get the best of you. Humans are highly emotional, irrational decision-makers. There’s nothing we can do to change that — but we can plan for it by putting an investment strategy in place and then sticking to that strategy. If you abandon your plan in favor of your feelings, you’re probably speculating. You think you know more than the market. An efficient financial market means that the securities within that market are accurately priced. But speculators think they have some sort of information the rest of the market doesn’t have — and they try to use that information to find mispriced securities. If you think you know more than the millions of other market participants and all the data that flows in and out of that market to determine individual prices … A. you’re probably wrong, and B. you’re speculating. If You Are Speculating … That Might Be Just Fine Here’s the thing: If you realize you’re speculating instead of investing, that might be OK in some circumstances. Speculating isn’t inherently bad, but people run into problems when they leverage all their available wealth to do so or fail to realize they’re not investing. If you use 95% of your available funds to invest wisely, you’re on track to meet all your financial goals, and you have the risk capacity (and tolerance)to be OK losing a small amount of cash on a speculative investment. It might be OK to take 5% of your available funds and go play. The key is to understand you’re doing just that: playing around, or making a gamble, or speculating. If you have the money available, feel free to speculate on the side — and make a distinction between that activity and your strategic investment plans. Of course, some people do not have the capacity to speculate with any amount of their money. A good financial planner can help you determine what’s appropriate for your situation and provide an objective, third-party opinion on how much cash you can safely use to speculate with stocks, businesses or other vehicles like cryptocurrencies. Your adviser might also be able to serve as the voice of reason needed to say, “OK, you’ve made a great return with your speculative investment — now, it’s time to sell.” Even when you’re exploring the possibilities with a small, safe amount of your wealth, it’s helpful to have a logical voice on your shoulder to help you make the most of both your strategic investments and your more speculative ventures. Source: Kiplinger.com

Read More...
20 Mar 2018

Advisors Management Group

Health Insurance Options When Leaving a Job

Q: I'm thinking about leaving my job and starting my own business, but I'll lose my health insurance from work. Can I sign up for coverage through HealthCare.gov now, or do I have to wait until open enrollment? A: You usually need to wait until open enrollment to buy individual health insurance, but you can get coverage anytime during the year if you're eligible for a "special enrollment period." To qualify, you must have experienced one of several life changes, which include leaving your job and losing your employer health coverage; moving to a new zip code; getting married; having a baby or adopting a child; or losing health insurance because you got divorced or legally separated. If you qualify for a special enrollment period, you usually have up to 60 days following the event to enroll in a new health insurance plan. See Healthcare.gov for more information about special enrollment periods. To shop for coverage, start by going to HealthCare.gov. Depending on your state, either you'll be able to buy individual health insurance at the site or you'll find a link to your state's health insurance marketplace. If your income is less than 400% of the federal poverty level ($48,240 for singles, $64,960 for couples or $98,400 for a family of four in 2018), then you'll qualify for a subsidy to help pay the premiums of a policy you purchase through HealthCare.gov or your state's health insurance marketplace. Use the tool at HealthCare.gov to see if you qualify for a subsidy. If your income is higher than the cut-off point, you can still buy a policy through the marketplace, but you won't receive a subsidy. You may also want to compare the costs and coverage of policies offered through a health care exchange to policies that are being sold outside of the marketplace, such as directly from an insurer, through an agent or at a website such as eHealthInsurance.com. Your state insurance department may also have information about health insurance available in your state. See www.naic.org/map for links. Another option is to continue your current coverage under COBRA. That's the federal law that allows people to stay on their employer's plan for up to 18 months after leaving a job. COBRA coverage tends to cost more than individual insurance because you have to pay both the employer's and the employee's share of the cost. You would, however, have the same provider network and cost-sharing arrangements that you have now. Ask your employer about your options. People who want to change health insurance plans midyear and don't qualify for a special enrollment period need to wait until the next open-enrollment period to buy a new policy. Open enrollment for coverage starting in 2018 ran from November 1 to December 15, 2017. No open-enrollment period has been set for choosing 2019 coverage, although it may be similar to last year's. Some states also have longer enrollment periods. Source: Kiplinger.com

Read More...
28 Feb 2018

Advisors Management Group

5 Times You Don’t Need to Give Your Social Security Number

If you feel like you’re constantly asked to provide your Social Security number, you may be right! Social Security numbers were originally created to track income to determine your Social Security benefits in retirement. But now, a Social Security number has become a near-universal form of identification, and is often sought whenever you give out your personal information. With this increase in use has come a massive increase in the amount of identity theft reported in the United States. In 2016, 15.4 million cases of identity theft were reported, according to the Insurance Information Institute. One way to lessen your risk is to limit where you give out your information. Here are 5 places where you don’t need to give out your Social Security number. 1. Before you’ve been hired for a job Employers may ask for a Social Security number before you’ve been hired, but it’s not mandatory to provide it, according to the Society of Human Resource Management. When you are hired, you will need to provide your Social Security number so your employer can do a background check. But if you’re asked for your SSN on your job application, you may be able to leave it blank, or explain that you don’t feel comfortable providing that information. 2. At the doctor’s office Your doctor may ask for your Social Security number when you fill out patient forms because they want to easily identify you to collect outstanding payments. But your insurance company identifies you by your insurance policy number in order to bill you and submit payments. While your insurance company will need your SSN, your doctor does not need this information for billing purposes. If you have Medicare or other federally sponsored health care, you will need to provide your SSN, according to the IRS. Otherwise, leave this box blank the next time you’re visiting the doctor. 3. To attend schools or colleges According to the US Department of Justice, all children living in the US are entitled to attend public school, and schools cannot require children or their parents to provide a Social Security number in order to enroll. If they ask for proof of identity, provide a birth certificate or passport. Leases or electric bills can also be presented as proof of address. If you’re heading to college, you’re not required to submit your Social Security number. However, if you’re applying for financial aid, loans, or scholarships, this information will be needed to confirm you or your family’s income, as well as to check your credit score. 4. At supermarkets and other retailers You will need to provide your Social Security number when applying for a credit card, because the bank associated with your card will want to track your credit score. But rewards cards at grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers don’t have any credit value, and are used just to track your purchases. So don’t give out your SSN when you sign up! 5. When purchasing travel You don’t need to provide your SSN in order to book travel. Depending on where you’re going, you will need to provide your passport number and will need a credit card in order to purchase your tickets. Once you’re ready to take off, bring your driver’s license, passport, or another TSA-approved form of ID. There are situations when you will need to provide your Social Security number, like applying for a credit card; filing your tax returns; when signing up for state and federal benefits like Medicare or food stamps; or when applying for a driver’s licence. Otherwise, if you’re asked for your SSN, the Social Security Administration recommends you ask these questions:   Why do you need it? What will it be used for? What other identification do you accept? What will happen if I don’t provide my number? Keep your Social Security card in a safe place and take steps to protect your identity. Source: Finance.Yahoo.com

Read More...
28 Feb 2018

Advisors Management Group

Avoid 3 Common Credit Card Traps

Getting a credit card an easy way to build your credit, but you should still be careful when it comes to spending and swiping. Kimberly Palmer, credit card and banking expert from Nerdwallet, shares some pros and cons of using plastic. PRO: Credit cards can help build your credit history “Credit cards are actually one of the simplest and most straightforward ways to build credit,’ Palmer says. “Building your credit history when you’re young is so important because it can really affect so much of what you do in your financial life.” Showing that you can responsibly handle credit will make it easier for you to take out a loan — for your education, a car, or a new home — down the line. But in order to build a strong credit history, be sure to pay off your bills on time every month. “The lender you’re considering using will always check your credit history to see how you’ve paid off your bills each month,” Palmer says. “It’s such an important thing to build up [your credit history].” CON: Late payments can snowball Palmer cautions credit card users to not see credit cards as “free money.” “It’s really important to understand that if you don’t pay off the balance at the end of every month, then really quickly fees and interest can accrue and you can end up building up a lot of debt,” she says. PRO: Rewards and perks When you sign up for a credit card, Palmer recommends researching all the benefits that come with it. Aside from earning points and getting cash-back deals, there might be other advantages that come with your card. “Some of the perks that come with credit cards are things like renters’ insurance or car insurance. Some cards come with purchase protection, so if you buy something you can get your money back. There’s also things like fraud protection, which can help you avoid worrying about losing money,” Palmer says. CON: Leaving money on the table If you avoid researching the benefits and perks of offered by your card, you could be leaving money on the table, Palmer says. “Credit cards will reward you for spending on different categories and you want to make sure you’re maximizing that,” Palmer says. “Cards are so different from each other so you first have to really think about how you spend the money because you can actually get rewarded based on how you spend,” she says. Look for cards that offer the best benefits for the purchases you make. For example, if you use your card for groceries, find cards that offer a high percentage back on those purchases. Or if you want to travel, find a card that offers travel deals or rewards points you can cash in later. PRO: Using your card as a budgeting tool Palmer says your credit card can be an easy way to organize your finances and see where your money is going each month. “Every time you use it, it gets logged on to your account, so you can look up your statement and review where you spent money,” Palmer says. “You can also organize that spending by category so you can see the percentage you’re spending at restaurants or on travel [for example].” Seeing where you spend can help you determine if you need to cut back. “It’s a really useful way of getting organized with your finances without having to collect receipts,” Palmer says. CON: The temptation to overspend Palmer cautions that if people find themselves overusing their cards to pay with cash instead. “If you really need to exert more self-discipline, and it’s just too tempting to pull out that credit card and spend — even when you know you shouldn’t — that’s a red flag,” Palmer says. Source: Finance.Yahoo.com

Read More...
22 Aug 2017

Advisors Management Group

8 Back to School Financial Tips

According to the Huntington Bank Backpack Index, the cost of school supplies increased 88% from 2007 to 2016, and their recently released 2017 report anticipates increases of 1.0% for elementary and 4.6% for middle schoolers this coming school year. Even so, there are reasons that parents can feel good about back-to-school shopping: 1.  It’s an exciting time of year, and parents can share in their children’s enthusiasm. 2.  It’s a chance to spend time with your kids while teaching them smart shopping habits. 3.  It’s an opportunity for what I call “painless savings:” if you consistently watch your spending on “the small stuff” like school supplies, groceries, and clothing, over time you can significantly increase in your overall savings. To maximize the learning experience, involve your kids in the back-to-school shopping process. Start by reading this article with them. Together, identify your spending goals and decide where you’ll do your shopping. Discuss a strategy for spending on “extra” things that are not on the shopping list. For example, when your child can’t live without a new tablet, even though you think her current one is fine, who gets final say? Here are 8 more tips your family can consider during this back-to-school season: 1.  Visit your local brick and mortar retailers. Stores such as Staples, Office Depot, and Walmart offer competitive bargains versus internet-only retailers. Look for specials and door busters, but try not to let good prices lure you into spending on things you don’t need. Also, don't forget about local discount retailers who have low pricing year-round, such as Dollar Store or Five Below. 2.  Shop during your state’s sales-tax holiday. Many states offer a shopping day or weekend during which they waive state sales tax. On these days, you can avoid state and local taxes, which can approach 10% in some states. 3.  Use store coupons and rewards programs. Before heading to a retailer, check your mailbox for weekly coupons and store websites for printable coupons. Art supply stores such as Michaels often have coupons in the Sunday paper. Or simply download them onto your smart phone. These can mean big savings on your more expensive items. Coupons may even be available to pick up “in store;” so don’t forget to ask once you’re there. You can also sign up for a store loyalty program where you can earn rewards points toward future purchases. 4.  Combine your deals. If you find a great sale at your local retailer, shop during a sales tax exemption period, use some coupons, and earn rewards points, you have just hit the grand slam of savings! If you pay with a credit card that gives you cash back, you can save even more—just don’t let those credit card balances run up and accrue interest charges. 5.  Online shopping is still the biggest timesaver, and we all know time is money. In addition to Amazon, there are other web-based competitors such as Oriental Trading Company and eBay. If your family feels that time is your scarcest resource, searching for deals online may still be your best way to save both time and money. 6.  Consider taking advantage of any pre-packaged, school supplies program offered by your school district. This usually involves paying online for a tailored packet of school supplies that is delivered to the school, ready for use. These programs can offer competitive pricing and save you the time and effort of shopping online or driving to the store. 7.  Buy used textbooks or download digital textbooks. If buying used books makes you cringe because you're concerned about the quality of the retailer, be assured that both Barnes and Noble and Amazon are dominant in this space. But for really deep values, you may want to look at other providers—just do some research on these lesser-known retailers before sending them your money. 8.  The best way to save may be not to spend at all; you may already have on hand some of the things on your shopping list. Look around your house before you shop. I’m a big believer in the power of spending less on the small stuff whenever you can in order to accrue big savings in the long run. I’ve written more about this idea of “painless savings” in Countdown To Financial Freedom. The earlier in life that young people begin to apply this saving strategy, the more they will benefit in terms of the compounding growth potential of the money they are able to save. That is how the back-to-school shopping process can positively influence your children’s financial education and their future net worth. And that is something we can all feel good about! Source: Forbes.com

Read More...

Popular Posts

Blog Categories