Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Thu, 24 May 2018 14:40:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 8 Reasons Graduates Need to Watch Their Budgets http://yourpfpro.com/8-reasons-graduates-need-to-watch-their-budgets/ http://yourpfpro.com/8-reasons-graduates-need-to-watch-their-budgets/#respond Mon, 21 May 2018 11:00:16 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7932 Once you graduate from college you may feel a sense of relief. No doubt part of that relief is due to the idea that your studying days are over. But you may also feel a sense of relief financially. With college costs higher than ever before it’s no wonder you might feel this way. Still, […]

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If you’re a recent college grad you shouldn’t let down your guard. In fact, there are reasons graduates need to watch their budgets now more than ever.Once you graduate from college you may feel a sense of relief. No doubt part of that relief is due to the idea that your studying days are over.

But you may also feel a sense of relief financially. With college costs higher than ever before it’s no wonder you might feel this way.

Still, if you’re a recent college grad you shouldn’t let down your guard. In fact, there are reasons graduates need to watch their budgets now more than ever.

1. Graduate School

If you’ve just graduated from college don’t let that fact allow you to relax a frugal budget. Especially if you plan to attend graduate school.

According to U.S. News & World Report, a graduate degree can cost from $20K to $80K or more. So, even if you have your bachelor’s degree already you’ll need to watch expenses. Otherwise your dreams of an even higher education could end before they start.

2. Moving Expenses

Presumably, no matter where a college graduate is living they will soon move elsewhere to start new employment. After all, education for employment is one of the reasons to go to college in the first place.

However, as a college graduate you need be mindful of just how much money it costs to move. Obviously it differs based on many things.  Distance to new location, amount of stuff to be moved, and who is doing the moving are just a few.

Coming up with the money to move isn’t easy if you didn’t plan ahead for it. That’s one reason graduates need to watch their budgets.

3. Low Income

Not all college graduates enter the workforce with jobs that pay six figure salaries. Some have to make ends meet with jobs in the fast food industry, retail, or other lower paid services. For that reason it’s wise for grads to watch budgets.

Even with a degree it sometimes takes a while to build up your income to the level that you desire. If you’re not budgeting you could find your expenses outweigh your income.

4. Delayed Employment

Even worse that taking a job with low pay is not being able to get a job at all. That’s what some graduates deal with after graduation and it could happen to you too.

If you spend extravagantly upon graduation, it will be harder to regain control of your spending. When paired with delayed employment it could end up sinking you financially.

5. Avoiding Debt

Do you need another reason for graduates to watch their budgets? Avoiding debt is one of them. By spending carefully instead of wildly you can avoid adding more debt to your budget.

The faster you pay off your debt the more financially secure you will be. Budgeting carefully will help you gain that security you are looking for.

6. Student Loans Come Due

There is some debt you may not be able to avoid. For example, that of student loan debt you already incurred. But that is another argument for why graduates need to watch their budgets.

When student loan payments come due you need to be able to pay them. Not doing so could cause a poor credit history, among other things.

7. Money for Emergencies

If you keep careful tabs on your budget after graduating college you’ll be able to start saving for emergencies. Although your budget may still be tight, the sooner you do this the more piece of mind you’ll have.

8. Investment Opportunities

Graduates who don’t watch their budgets may not have the investment opportunities everyone else does. If your money is tight you may not have enough to invest. This means you are robbing your future self.

Conversely, watching your budget will allow you to invest even if only in small ways at first.

It’s true that without studying requirements you should feel a sense of relief when you graduate college. But you still need to watch your budget so you can take care of everything that matters most.

Are you watching your budget now that you’ve graduated?

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How to Keep Your Cool in Summer Heat http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-keep-your-cool-in-summer-heat/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-keep-your-cool-in-summer-heat/#respond Mon, 14 May 2018 11:00:49 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7909 Now that Mother’s Day has passed and school is nearly out, summer is around the corner. As much as I love summer, I must confess I don’t necessarily love the heat that comes with it. The other part of summertime I don’t like is having higher bills from trying to keep cool. If you have […]

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Do you have higher bills in summer because of the heat? If you do, here’s how to keep your cool in summer heat.Now that Mother’s Day has passed and school is nearly out, summer is around the corner. As much as I love summer, I must confess I don’t necessarily love the heat that comes with it.

The other part of summertime I don’t like is having higher bills from trying to keep cool. If you have the same struggle, here’s how to keep your cool in summer heat.

Use House Fans

If you have ceiling fans or portable, oscillating fans, turn them on to keep your cool in summer heat. Then, turn your air conditioner up a few degrees. This is one of the ways you can lower your summer household budget.

Don’t Use Your Oven

When you cook with an oven it heats up the whole house. While this is nice in winter when it’s cold, during summer months it makes it harder to cool off. One thing I do to combat the heat is use smaller appliances for cooking instead of my oven.

My summertime cooking choices are my crockpot, toaster oven, stove top, and microwave. Using them lets me keep the oven turned off.

As a result, my air conditioner doesn’t work as hard. The result is that the house stays cooler, and my electricity bills are lower.

Open Windows

Whenever you’re lucky enough to have an evening breeze, open the windows and cool down your house. This will help you keep your cool in summer heat and lower your utility bills too.

See a Movie

I don’t know what your local movie theatre is like, but the ones I’ve been in are usually cold. You can use this to your advantage in summer months to stay cool. Just go to a movie for a break from the heat.

Go Swimming

Take a dip in a cool lake, pool, or other recreational body of water. This is just one more way to keep your cool in summer heat.

Getting your body temperature down can cool you off enough to prevent use of your air conditioner.

Use Vegetation

Have you ever thought about the landscaping in your yard? Some trees and bushes will provide shade that can keep both you and your home cooler during the summer heat.

Keep Up with Maintenance

If you’re not keeping up with maintenance around your home it can cost you more money each month. Fix leaks around doors and windows. Change furnace filters at least monthly and have ductwork cleaned.

Eat Cool Foods

As wonderful as popsicles are, they’re even better when it’s hot outside. But you can also enjoy cold sandwiches, ice cream, cool salads, and other foods that aren’t hot. These are a few more ways to keep your cool in summer heat.

Install Whole House Fans

Installing whole house fans can keep you cooler in summer. They can create a cross breeze with open windows. Also, they allow you to send hot air out of the top of the house.

Buy a Programmable Thermostat

Another way to keep your cool in summer heat is to buy a programmable thermostat. They’re relatively inexpensive and pay for themselves in short order.

Close Things Up

If you’re looking for other ways to keep your cool when summer heats up, try closing thing up. As an example, close vents and returns in rooms you aren’t using. Then close the doors.

But don’t stop there. Try closing blinds and drapes also to keep the heat and sun out.

Wear Cotton

The clothes do make the man, and woman, when it comes to summer heat. Wear cotton to stay cooler and beat the heat during warm months.

None of us can change the fact that summer will be here soon. But you don’t have to suffer when the thermometer starts rising. Use some of the ideas here to keep your cool in summer heat.

What other ways do you beat the heat in summer?

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Budgeting When Your Income Fluctuates http://yourpfpro.com/budgeting-when-your-income-fluctuates/ http://yourpfpro.com/budgeting-when-your-income-fluctuates/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 11:00:14 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7888 Having a monthly budget to follow can really help if you struggle with your finances. It keeps you accountable for your spending by reminding you of all your monthly monetary obligations. But imagine if your budget were to get blown out of the water because your paycheck got skipped. How would you keep your bills […]

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your income fluctuatesHaving a monthly budget to follow can really help if you struggle with your finances. It keeps you accountable for your spending by reminding you of all your monthly monetary obligations.

But imagine if your budget were to get blown out of the water because your paycheck got skipped. How would you keep your bills paid?

Yet, that is exactly what could happen each month to me and others who are self-employed. There are no guarantees of a paycheck which makes budgeting when your income fluctuates nearly impossible.

Luckily, there are ways of budgeting when your income fluctuates.

1. Break Down Your Budget

When you’re self-employed with a fluctuating income it makes budgeting a little bit tricky. One of the first things to do in overcoming the problem is to break down your budget.

Go through your bills and expenses with a fine toothed comb. Include an average of those that fluctuate in amount. Don’t forget the bills that don’t come monthly, such as doctor bills. Without exception eliminate every expense that isn’t absolutely necessary.

That can be the hard part for some people. It means ruthlessly crossing off some items on your list that may be really enjoyable. It also means you should look closely at expensive bad habits and eliminate them as well.

Remember that you can call creditors and try to negotiate down some of your expenses too. Additionally, when comparing income to expenses, use your average monthly income figured over a year.

This process gives you a starting point for budgeting when your income fluctuates. When you have months where money is tight, these are the bills that must be paid no matter what.

2. Make a Second Budget

Now that you have a basic budget you can make a second budget that allows more wiggle room. This one should include debt repayment and investments.

Clothing allowances, occasional salon visits, and other expenses would also go on this list. So would other expenses that are sometimes forgotten about.

During months when your income is higher you can spend money on these other items. Using caution you should be able to provide for your basic needs and at least some wants.

3. Start an Emergency Savings Account

The next step to budgeting when your income fluctuates is to start an emergency savings account. This will help you make it through unexpected financial crises that could happen during months of lower income.

Set aside money each month into this account until you have enough to cover three or more months of expenses. Try not to dip into this money unless you have no other choice.

4. Allow Room for Errors

Don’t expect your budgeting to be perfect the first time. You may have to make corrections and adjustments as time goes on. This is normal so don’t give up!

Life circumstances change which can have an effect on your budget. Income and expenses also change as time goes on. To help with those issues, be prepared to continually update and change your budget.

5. Set Money Goals

Something else that can help when your income fluctuates is to set financial goals. Having a clear picture of what you are working toward makes it easier to stay on track.

For example, without goals it’s easier to spend on frivolous things you want now instead of saving for the future.

Let’s face it; budgeting isn’t easy when you have to estimate your expenses. But estimating income can be just as hard. Budgeting when your income fluctuates can be easier using these tips.

Does your income fluctuate from month to month?

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5 Ways to Keep Summer Camp Fees Down http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-keep-summer-camp-fees-down/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-keep-summer-camp-fees-down/#respond Mon, 30 Apr 2018 11:00:00 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7860 Summer is fast approaching which means school lessons will soon be at an end. Kids will excitedly make their escapes from cramped classrooms for the last time until next fall. For the first few days they’ll likely be busy burning off excess pent up energy. Still, within a short time, some will inevitably mutter the […]

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Summer camps keep kids occupied but are not without fees. If you don’t want to pay them, or simply can’t afford to, you can keep summer camp fees down.Summer is fast approaching which means school lessons will soon be at an end. Kids will excitedly make their escapes from cramped classrooms for the last time until next fall.

For the first few days they’ll likely be busy burning off excess pent up energy. Still, within a short time, some will inevitably mutter the words parent’s hate to hear: “I’m bored.”

Does this sound like something you anticipate hearing from your kids soon? If so, you may have considered sending them to summer camp to keep them occupied.

Of course, summer camp is not without fees. If you don’t want to pay them, or simply can’t afford to, you can keep summer camp fees down.

1. Limit the Number of Camps

When I was young, my brothers and I attended a few different summer camps. However, my parents chose to keep summer camp fees down by limiting the number of camps we went to.

Rather than paying huge fees to 3 or 4 different camps for each of us, they took an alternate approach. They let us choose one camp to go to.

Obviously, they could have simply chosen the cheapest one to send each of us to. But by allowing us to choose we were able to pick the one we most wanted to go to. Our parents were happy because they saved money and we were happy attending the camp of our choice.

2. Choose Alternate Activities

Another way to keep summer camp fees down is to choose alternate activities for your kids. This is another tactic my parents took to save money.

For example, we were each allowed to play one summer sport. To keep us occupied we also played lots of free or cheap outdoor games too. A few we played were tag, catch, and Frisbee. We also rode our bikes and had lots of squirt gun fights to cool off. On cool, rainy, indoor days we build blanket forts, played board games, and had pillow fights.

There are plenty of different inexpensive activities to choose from that are great alternatives to summer camp. Letting your kids pick a few of them puts them in control of their own fun.

3. Let Kids Pay Their Own Way

As my brothers and I got older, the camps we wanted to go to became more expensive. In order to attend even one of them we had to use some of our own money.

One of the great things about this approach is that your kids learn about money. Have them complete odd jobs at home for pay or earn money on their own.

Then, meet them part way by paying half of their camp fees. You’ll keep summer camp fees down and they’ll learn how far their money goes.

4. Plan Ahead for Summer Camp

Planning ahead for summer camp is one more way to keep summer camps fees down. While it won’t actually decrease the costs of camp it can decrease the financial burden come summer.

You can budget for the cost of summer camp by setting aside a few dollars each month. Once summer comes around you’ll already have the money without feeling extra strain on your wallet.

5. Encourage Spending Time with Others

To keep summer camp fees down you can also encourage your kids to spend time with others instead. This is also a good way to save on summer childcare costs.

Let your kids go visit their grandparents for a few days or even a couple of weeks. Another option is to hire a dependable, trustworthy teenager or college student to spend time with them.

Your kids might learn new skills and build or strengthen relationships by spending time with others. It’s also a good way to keep them busy and engaged throughout the summer.

Having your kids spend time with others can reduce the fees you pay for summer camps. But it also helps them grow as individuals at the same time.

Trying to get your finances in shape by summer can be difficult enough on its own. You don’t need the added stress of paying hundreds in camp fees. Use these ideas to help you keep summer camp fees down and save money at the same time.

How do you keep summer camp fees down for your kids?

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How to Invest While You Are Still In College (or Just After Graduation) http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-invest-while-you-are-still-in-college-or-just-after-graduation/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-invest-while-you-are-still-in-college-or-just-after-graduation/#respond Mon, 23 Apr 2018 11:00:56 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7840 One of the things I remember best about being in college is having very little money. Although that was quite a few years ago I don’t think much has changed on that front. In fact, it’s a pretty common condition for most college students now days. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule though. Students […]

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Invest While You Are Still In CollegeOne of the things I remember best about being in college is having very little money. Although that was quite a few years ago I don’t think much has changed on that front. In fact, it’s a pretty common condition for most college students now days.

Obviously there are exceptions to this rule though. Students who have full scholarships or paid tuition from mom and dad may not experience money struggles.

For everyone else, though, having a tight budget in college means doing without some things. Nice clothes, newer cars, and other wants must be put on the back burner for a few years.

But what if you want to invest? The good news is that you may not have to put this item off. It is possible to invest while you are still in college or just after graduating.

1. Invest Fractionally

If you want to invest while you are still in college try fractional investing. This is a way to begin building wealth now rather than waiting until after graduation.

Let’s face it, once you graduation you will need time to settle into a new place to live. Then there’s also paying for a place to live as well as appliances and other needs.

Putting off investing is a bad idea. Before you know it, five, ten, or even more years have passed and you won’t have invested a dime.

To invest fractionally, check out stocks that interest you. Don’t worry if they are hundreds or thousands of dollars per share. Regardless, you can still invest in them.

Use apps such as Stockpile to get started. You only need $5 to begin and signing up is free.

There are no monthly fees and no minimums. That makes Stockpile a great way to dip your toe into investing and test the waters.  It’s an easy and fun way you can begin to invest without risking huge sums of money.

2. Micro Invest

An additional method to invest while you are still in college is micro investing. Using this avenue to invest simply makes sense if you’re a college student.

With micro investing you can begin growing your money without a lot of start-up cash. Try the app through Acorns.com and you’ll barely notice you’re investing at all.

The app links to your bank account and any credit cards you choose. Then, as you buy necessities, Acorns rounds purchases to the nearest dollar. Those amounts are invested for you to increase your wealth.

By micro investing in this manner you never miss the money in your budget. You don’t have to take a lot of time out of your busy schedule for investing either. Acorns does the hard part for you.

3. Use a Robo-advisor

Need another way to invest while you are still in college? Try using a robo-advisor. They are convenient and do most of the hard work so you don’t have to.

Most of the robo-advisors you find will have low trading fees with helps out when your budget is tight. But they have low minimum investment requirements as well. Actually, some have no minimums at all.

Accessing your account can be done through the app when installed on your smart phone. Anytime you have a couple of minutes in your schedule just pull it up and check your investments.

Additional Investing Thoughts

Of course the sooner you invest the faster you will build wealth for your future goals. But investment tracking is also a part of that as is money management.

You must learn to budget and handle money wisely. If you don’t have the skills or knowledge, ask a friend, relative, or professor for help. Or, take a class or research about it. There are plenty of ways to learn about money management.

When you are in college, or just after graduation, your budget is probably tight. However, that doesn’t have to prevent you from investing your money for the future. Use these tips to invest while you are still in college, or just after graduation, and meet your future goals.

Have you ever thought about investing while you are still in college?

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5 Tips to Help You Buy the Best House for Your Budget http://yourpfpro.com/5-tips-to-help-you-buy-the-best-house-for-your-budget/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-tips-to-help-you-buy-the-best-house-for-your-budget/#respond Mon, 16 Apr 2018 11:00:31 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7824 Where I live, just two days ago we were experiencing some pretty rough winter weather. However, today it was warmer and you’d never have known the storm had ever happened. In fact, the birds were singing earlier reminding me that even warmer days will soon arrive. On the heels of the warm weather will be […]

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Buy the Best House for Your BudgetWhere I live, just two days ago we were experiencing some pretty rough winter weather. However, today it was warmer and you’d never have known the storm had ever happened. In fact, the birds were singing earlier reminding me that even warmer days will soon arrive.

On the heels of the warm weather will be the end of school and final exams for students. Once those are over, some families will pack their belongings and lives to move to other parts of the country.

But finding new family quarters in just a few months isn’t an easy task. In fact, with all that must be done it’s a pretty major undertaking most of the time. If you’ll be moving in the near future, here are some tips to help you buy the best house for your budget.

1. Decide a Price Range

As big of a deal as moving is, you certainly don’t want to repeat it soon if you can help it. That’s why to help you buy the best house for your budget you should decide a price range first.

If you’re selling the house you currently live in, use the proceeds as a down payment for your new dwelling. You may have to finance the rest if that doesn’t cover it in full.

Of course, there are lots of things that can affect your numbers such as the city you’re moving to. In addition, current prices in the housing market, proximity to schools, work, and other factors play a part.

After you weigh all of the information, use it to decide on a target price range. This will give you a starting point as you begin searching for a new home.

2. Determine Home Requirements

Rather than buying a home based solely on looks, consider features that are important to you. If you have kids, how close is it to their school? Is it in an undesirable area such as by an airport or highway?

These types of questions must be addressed so you can determine your requirements for a new home. That is another tip to help you by the best house you can for the money.

When you discuss housing needs with your partner, make a list of absolute must haves. Then take inventory of wants as well.

Enter your search without wearing rose colored glasses. In other words, know that in all likelihood you won’t get all of the wants on your list. Still, getting some of them along with most or all of your musts should be counted as a win.

3. Talk to Your Banker

Another thing that will help you buy the best house for your budget is to talk to your banker. Discussing your options early can help you avoid making financial mistakes. They can even help you decide if you are really ready to buy a house.

Your banker can help you get pre-approved for a loan which may help in your search for a new home. It can also speed up the whole buying process.

4. Find Out Your Credit Score

Having a good credit score of 700 or above can get you a home loan with lower interest rates. It will also help you buy the best house for your budget.

Therefore, it’s important to know what your credit score is before you begin house hunting. If it’s low there are ways to raise it and save thousands on your loan. To find out more about credit scores and how to get yours, go to USA.gov.

5. Consider the Rest of Your Budget

During your search for the best house for your budget don’t forget about managing the rest of your household costs. If you’re moving to a different city or state, other expenses could drastically alter your monthly budget.

For instance, the cost of groceries in some areas is very different from others. You can expect tourist towns to charge up to three times more than in some other areas.

Gasoline, clothing, and many other goods and services can have a huge impact on your finances as well. Don’t just exchange your current housing costs with your new budgeted figure without considering this first. Instead you need to learn how to budget for your new house.

Certainly moving is a huge undertaking and it’s expensive. That’s why you need to buy the best house for your budget. Use these tips to help make it happen and maybe even find the home of your dreams in the process.

Are you planning on moving soon?

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Should You Hold Out for a Promotion or Move On? http://yourpfpro.com/should-you-hold-out-for-a-promotion-or-move-on/ http://yourpfpro.com/should-you-hold-out-for-a-promotion-or-move-on/#respond Mon, 09 Apr 2018 11:00:38 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7804 Staying at one job for your whole career isn’t as common as it used to be. Changing jobs is sometimes a way of moving up the ladder. It’s what I did several years ago to advance to a higher position and pay. But sometimes it doesn’t pay to change employers. Making that decision can be […]

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It doesn’t always pay to change jobs. Yet it can move you up the ladder. If you're on the fence, here are some tips to help you decide whether to hold out for a promotion or move on.Staying at one job for your whole career isn’t as common as it used to be. Changing jobs is sometimes a way of moving up the ladder. It’s what I did several years ago to advance to a higher position and pay.

But sometimes it doesn’t pay to change employers. Making that decision can be kind of tough. Here are some tips to help you decide if you should hold out for a promotion or move on.

No Job is Perfect

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. So, if you are tempted to move on to another company, make sure you have all of the facts first.

When you interview, pay attention to other workers as you move through work areas. If the person conducting the interview shows you around, observe what’s happening.

Do the employees smile and act as though they enjoy working there? Or are they tight lipped, tense, and frowning? Even busy staff members who are shorthanded will smile if they like what they are doing.

If you encounter such behaviors and yet aren’t completely unhappy where you currently work you might wish to simply stay.

Overtime vs More Pay

Before you hold out for a promotion or move on, compare the pay. At your current job, are you able to receive overtime pay when you have to work longer hours?

Compare this to what you will be making if you take another position. But to be comparable, you need to know what the work hours will be there as well.

If you receive more pay but must work more hours the sacrifice of family time may not be worth it. That’s what happened to me when I changed jobs and moved up the ladder. Eventually I left that job so I could spend more time with my family instead.

Retirement Account

Another thing to think over before you hold out for a promotion or move on is your retirement accounts. If you’ve only been at your current job a few years cashing out your entire 401K may not be possible.

It takes 3-5 years before you are fully vested. Therefore, if you leave your job you may only be able to take part of your 401K money with you.

Withdrawing funds early may mean you incur penalties and fees. If your retirement account is large enough, you could lose thousands. However, you may be able to take it with you to your new employer or put it in an IRA.

But it’s also possible your new employer won’t permit investing in a 401K until you have worked there awhile. Should that happen you will miss out on the investment dollars you would have made in your old position.

Work Hours

When you change jobs, like I did, there are no guarantees that you will like your new position. I did happen to like mine, but I also got burnt out.

Working incredibly long hours just isn’t possible to do for years on end. Eventually you can end up with family problems, health issues, or other negative outcomes.

Compare the required work hours of any new job offers to your current one before accepting them. It could change your mind and make you hold out for a promotion instead.

As I mentioned before, it isn’t easy to decide if you should hold out for a promotion or move on. There are several factors to consider which can put you on the fence, so to speak, about deciding. Consequently, before you make a decision you can’t take back make sure you have all of the facts.

Have you ever held out for a promotion? How did it turn out?

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Take a Trip without Paying to Stay http://yourpfpro.com/take-a-trip-without-paying-to-stay/ http://yourpfpro.com/take-a-trip-without-paying-to-stay/#respond Mon, 02 Apr 2018 11:00:15 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7797 If you’ve ever heard other’s talk about taking a fabulous cheap vacation it may have made you jealous. In fact, I wouldn’t blame you a bit if you were. But that shouldn’t prevent you from taking one of your own. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take trips more often because you’re staying for free? You […]

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Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take trips more often because you’re staying for free? It is possible to take a trip without paying to stay and see more of the world.If you’ve ever heard other’s talk about taking a fabulous cheap vacation it may have made you jealous. In fact, I wouldn’t blame you a bit if you were. But that shouldn’t prevent you from taking one of your own.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take trips more often because you’re staying for free? You could see more of the world or simply go to your favorite destinations more often.

Regardless, it is possible to take a trip without paying to stay.

1. Trade Credit Card Points

One way you can take a trip without paying to stay is by trading credit card points. Of course, you don’t have to rush right out and get another credit card just for the points.

But let’s say you just happen to be shopping around for a new credit card. You could take advantage of the opportunity and look for one that offers travel rewards points on purchases.

Next, sit back and let your points accumulate for lodging rewards when you travel. Don’t forget to pay the bill at the end of each month, though, so you don’t rack up debt. Also, make sure the card has a sign up bonus so you can build up points faster.

2. House Sit for Others

Other people’s travel needs could also allow you to take a trip without paying to stay. For instance, there are homeowners who wish to have their homes cared for while they are gone for a period of time. Hiring a house sitter is one way they do that.

House sitters provide reassurance that a house stays well maintained and secure from theft. Pets can be taken care of as well as yardwork and other small tasks.

You can cash in by signing up to do the house sitting. This is a way to get your lodging free so your vacation money can be spent on fun activities and other needs.

3. Home Swap

Another way to take a trip without paying to stay is to swap homes with other people. Home swapping has become a popular way to take a trip for much less in the last few years. There are plenty of companies to choose from, such as Airbnb.com, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Some companies allow you to swap your home directly with that of another family. However, others will let the homeowners be in residence when you stay there. While you are away from your home someone else can rent yours.

Still other companies permit you to list a second home others can rent while you do the same. But each of these scenarios help you take a trip virtually without paying a dime.

4. Buy a Second Home

Perhaps so far none of these ideas has appealed to you. That’s ok, because there’s still a way to take a trip without paying to stay. You could buy a second home to stay in for free.

Does that sound like a dream? Even if it does, you could make it work for you. Buying a second home gives you the alternative of staying there when you want and renting it to others the rest of the time.

If you’re married and your spouse doesn’t have great credit you may think buying a second home isn’t an option.  But did you know you can get a mortgage without your spouse? That’s one way you may still be able to do it.

You can also buy a fixer upper and renovate it first if it’s in a popular vacation destination. Just do your homework first to make sure it will be profitable enough to pay for itself.

As you can see, you don’t have to be envious of other people’s vacations. Instead, take a trip of your own and see the world without paying to stay.

Have you ever taken a trip without paying to stay? If so, how did you do it?

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Why Diversify Your Investments? http://yourpfpro.com/why-diversify-your-investments/ http://yourpfpro.com/why-diversify-your-investments/#respond Mon, 26 Mar 2018 11:00:09 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7780 Most of us have heard the saying that you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Of course, we also know what the saying means. If all of your eggs are in one basket and it is accidently crushed, you will lose all the eggs. However, if you put them in more than […]

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Most advisors and experts will tell you to spread out, or diversify, your investments. But why diversify your investments?Most of us have heard the saying that you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Of course, we also know what the saying means.

If all of your eggs are in one basket and it is accidently crushed, you will lose all the eggs. However, if you put them in more than one basket, you would only lose a portion of them instead.

Investing works much the same way. Most advisors or experts will tell you to spread out, or diversify, your investments. But why diversify your investments?

Why You Should Diversify

You can’t overcome all investing risks simply by diversifying. After all, there are still other outside influences that can affect the rise and fall of your investments.

For instance, inflation, politics, and interest rates are just a few other things that affect how well your investments gain. Those things can’t be controlled by you. But the one thing you can control is the diversification of your investments.

Minimize Losses

Obviously when you invest you want to make good returns on your money. After all, growing your money is why you are investing in the first place. Diversification can help you achieve those greater returns.

Placing all of your money in one investment, such as a single technology company, puts your money at risk. If something should happen to make that company fold, you could losses thousands of dollars.

Therefore, you should put only a portion of your money in that stock. Then, invest in a couple of other unrelated stocks as well.

This way if something does happen to that one company you would lose less. Your other stocks could make offsetting gains that make up for the losses you experienced from the technology company.

Maximize Gains

You should diversify your investments for maximum growth potential. As an example, you could place some money in low risk stocks. At the same time, put some money in moderate risk stocks.

Since higher risk investments usually generate the most gains you don’t want to skip them altogether. So, put some of your money there are well.

The low risk and medium risk stocks provide some cushion. Phrasing it another way, having them may make you feel more tolerant about having high risk investments too.

How to Diversify Your Investments

Now that you know why diversification is important you may be wondering how to diversify. Here are a couple of ways you can invest and remain diversified.

401K

If you are lucky enough to work for a company that offers a 401K retirement plan, this is a good place to start. They usually allow you to choose which stocks to invest in. This means you can spread your money out over low, medium, and higher risk stocks.

Real Estate

Another way to diversify your investments is through real estate. You can easily get started even if you don’t have a lot of capital.

A Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REIT, allows you to group your money with that of others. Then all of the investors can make a real estate investment that everyone benefits from.

Diversification is part of what makes REIT’s profitable. Expert team members invest the pooled money in real estate in ways that a single investor couldn’t. Usually more than one property is selected which is what increases profits and lowers risks.

Robo-Advisors

Robo-advisors are another way you can diversify your investments. Many have low minimum deposit requirements and low fees.

They’re also super easy to use. Many have apps you can put on your phone to track your investments whenever and wherever you are.

Most do the heavy lifting for you which means you don’t have to know a lot about investing to use one. That makes them perfect for beginners. But they’re also great for those who lack the time to watch their investments like a hawk.

As you can see, putting all your eggs in one basket is clearly not a good idea. Therefore, it’s important to diversify your investments in order to have a more secure future.

Are you diversifying your investments?

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What to Do When Your Debt is Taking Over http://yourpfpro.com/what-to-do-when-your-debt-is-taking-over/ http://yourpfpro.com/what-to-do-when-your-debt-is-taking-over/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:00:49 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7771 When your debt is keeping you up at night and consuming your every thought it’s time to make some changes. Getting your finances back on track won’t be easy, but you will be happier and less stressed once you do. Nevertheless, you’ve got a long road ahead until you see light at the end of […]

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When your debt is keeping you up at night it’s time to make some changes. But if you don’t know what to do when your debt is taking over, here are some options.When your debt is keeping you up at night and consuming your every thought it’s time to make some changes. Getting your finances back on track won’t be easy, but you will be happier and less stressed once you do.

Nevertheless, you’ve got a long road ahead until you see light at the end of the tunnel. If you don’t know what to do when your debt is taking over, there are options.

1. Trim Your Budget

Of course, the very first thing you need to do is trim your budget as much as possible. Shut off your cable, stop salon visits, and eliminate all unnecessary expenses.

It’s time to make the tough decisions that could save you and your family from further hardship.

2. Negotiate with Creditors

When your debt is taking over its time to humble yourself and take action. Call your creditors and try to negotiate lower payments on your bills. Many will work with you in order to get some payment rather than none.

If possible, reach a settlement on debts and pay them. Or, ask for a discount or reduced interest rates. Do whatever you can to reduce what you owe. Take notes on all conversations including who you spoke with, the dates, and what was agreed upon.

3. Consolidate Credit Cards

You might be able to consolidate your credit cards to lower your monthly payments. When you have one payment instead of several it may save some interest each month.

However, it could increase the interest instead if it stretches your payments out over a longer period of time. You may be able to pay more on the bills some months to lower the interest rates. Still, that could be a gamble you’ll lose if you don’t find a way to change your spending habits.

If consolidating is something you wish to do, look for a card with a 0% balance transfer. This could help you eliminate interest for several months and save you money. All of your payments would be applied to the principal you owe paying your debt down faster.

4. Start Side Hustling

Another thing to do when your debt is taking over is to start a side hustle. Having extra money in your income can help you pay your debt faster and relieve you of stress.

By applying all of your side hustle income to debt you will bring it down faster. There are plenty of side hustle opportunities you can look for to help you achieve the financial freedom you desire.

5. Put Credit Cards Cold Storage

To prevent the temptation to pull out plastic for your purchases, put your credit cards on ice. Literally put them in a block of ice in the freezer so you stop using them. This may be the best way to pay off your credit cards without getting further into debt.

Or, another option is to put them in a safe deposit box at the bank or even cut them up. Do whatever you honestly need to so you stop creating more debt.

6. Consider Bankruptcy

When you are out of all other options it could be time to consider bankruptcy. Most people don’t want to take this action, but sometimes it is necessary in order to get your life back on track.

There are several tips to file for bankruptcy that can help when your debt is taking over. Filing isn’t easy because legal terms can be difficult to interpret.

You want to make sure you understand your rights so you can handle your finances in the best way possible. That’s why getting legal help is important in these circumstances.

Certainly no one wants to be in a bad financial position. But when your debt is taking over there are options to get back on the right path.

Do you feel like your debt is taking over? If so, what actions have you already taken?

 

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How to Thrive When Selling Clothes Online http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-thrive-when-selling-clothes-online/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-thrive-when-selling-clothes-online/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 14:49:08 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7768 The clothing business is a constantly expanding business. Everyone needs clothes, so everyone buys clothes. It’s a limitless demand. Its progress is directly proportional to the world’s population growth, which, by itself, is exponential. Whether you’re dealing with preloved clothes or handmade ones, selling them online can be a lucrative business. Of course, since many […]

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The clothing business is a constantly expanding business. Everyone needs clothes, so everyone buys clothes. It’s a limitless demand. Its progress is directly proportional to the world’s population growth, which, by itself, is exponential.

Whether you’re dealing with preloved clothes or handmade ones, selling them online can be a lucrative business. Of course, since many people are also into that, you may face stiff competition.

So then how do clothing businesses thrive? Here are some tips.

Create Your Own Website

You may opt for doing business on online marketplaces like eBay or Amazon, but if you want to have full control over how you want to sell your clothing items, consider creating your own website. It can give you a great position for your business. You’ll have a storefront that’s always open to the world, and your customers will less likely go to your competitors because only your products are displayed in your site.

Hiring a web developer and a web designer to create your website can be a good idea. A cost-effective way is to make one using an e-commerce platform. They usually have a variety of templates and themes, and you just need to pick out the right ones for your website.

There are many online platforms that make selling clothes online a hassle-free process for yourself and your customers. Some can easily be set up within minutes and for a very reasonable fee.

Post a Lot of Beautiful Images

For some people, pictures are more attractive than words. Items with high-quality photos are likely to sell better than those without.

You don’t have to be an adept photographer. You just need a decent camera and some lights. Because among the usual tips for taking marketable photos, the common denominator is to have adequate lighting—enough that the picture will show your item clearly. Don’t use flash; keep your lighting natural.

It’s also a good idea to take multiple shots using different angles shots so buyers will have a full view of your item and a general idea of its features. For the item’s size, you can add another object (like a banana) beside it for comparison in scale. 

Details, Details, Details

Any text used in your ad or listing should normally be limited to the item’s details.

Great descriptions usually include the clothing’s size and exact measurements, its condition, the feel of the fabric, the shipping info, and if secondhand, the extent to which it has been used.

Generally, you should include all the details that you can see. If it matters to you, then it matters to your buyer. Consider learning how to write great product descriptions to make your listing more appealing.

A detailed description will also save you from frequently answering questions from potential buyers.

Always Be Honest

If your item has damages, don’t try to hide it. It’ll only hurt your reputation and seller rating. For merchants, especially internet-based businesses, one of their most valuable assets is their word—their trustworthiness.

Sure, it’s easy to make another online persona and hide under a different name, but do you really want to keep doing that? Your business won’t grow that way.

That’s why you should always be upfront about the status of your item. Even if it may not always attract a lot of potential buyers, you’ll develop your reliability over time, and people will come to trust you and your business.

Besides, if you keep your buyers’ expectations low, they may be surprised that the item’s condition is better than what they thought after they receive it.

Good Luck!

If you follow these best practices, then perhaps you’ll become one of the best online sellers for clothes.

There are still many techniques and strategies out there. Be creative, and persist in your endeavor. Someday, maybe fortune will grace your fabulous fabric enterprise.

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Don’t Count on Luck to Improve Your Finances http://yourpfpro.com/dont-count-on-luck-to-improve-your-finances/ http://yourpfpro.com/dont-count-on-luck-to-improve-your-finances/#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 11:00:00 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7759 It’s probably not a stretch of the truth to assume that many people have financial difficulties occasionally. Of course, for some people it happens more often than others. But one thing that doesn’t help is counting on luck to improve your finances. For most of us there is no pot of gold at the end […]

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For most of us there's no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Don't count on luck to improve your finances. Make your own luck instead.It’s probably not a stretch of the truth to assume that many people have financial difficulties occasionally. Of course, for some people it happens more often than others.

But one thing that doesn’t help is counting on luck to improve your finances. For most of us there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. No wee leprechaun with the secrets to fortune.

Rather than playing the lottery or risking money at the blackjack table, maybe you should make your own luck.

Budget

Instead of counting on luck to improve your finances take control of them yourself. Start out by making a budget that works for you.

First, gather together all of your outstanding bills and debts. Use them to create a list or spreadsheet so you know everything you owe money on. Use this data to figure out how much your bills are every month.

Make sure you include things that are not paid monthly. These may include car tags and taxes, property taxes, and doctor bills to name a few.

Next, compare these numbers to your monthly income. Should you have money left at the end of each month yet the reality is that you run out? If so, start tracking the extra things you buy that were not included in your budget.

Once you know where the money is going you can make changes to help improve your finances. For instance, stop buying a coffee every morning before work or eating out for lunch each day. Changing these negative spending behaviors can improve your finances.

Pay Off Debt

Now that you have a handle on where and how you are spending your money you can begin eliminating debt. But don’t rely on cash windfalls, such as tax refunds or work promotions to do it.

Look for alternative ways to cut your expenses and keep more money in your pocket. Still, if you are lucky enough to get extra cash you can use it to make more debt progress. Remember every dime you pay toward debt will improve your finances.

One tip that can help you pay debt faster is to try to negotiate bills that you owe. Some creditors will work with you more readily than others, though. A few bills to try negotiating are cell phone bills, medical bills, and utility bills.

Emergency fund

Another way not to count on luck to improve your finances is to create an emergency fund. Most likely, no one is going to rescue your finances if you get in trouble.

When your car breaks down or your refrigerator quits using a credit card for repair bills is not the answer. This will simply dig you further into debt.

To get ahead of these types of issues before they happen, start an emergency fund. Even if you can only put $5 toward this fund some months you are still making progress.

After you commit to living frugally, paying debt, and saving it gets easier to save even more. Consistence and diligence with your finances creates habits that will make a difference in the long run.

Side hustle

In order not to count on luck to improve your finances you could also pick up a side hustle. It’s a great way to help meet monthly bills, pay off debt, and build your emergency fund faster.

Some examples of easy side hustles are filling out online surveys for cash, babysitting, tutoring, or mowing lawns. But there are plenty of other ways to make extra money too.

Certainly the battle toward financial freedom can be a long one and not won overnight. But it helps if you don’t ignore the problem or worse yet count on luck to improve your finances. Use these tips to help you get out of debt and take control of your finances.

What measures have you taken to improve your finances?

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