Make Investing a High Priority in Your Financial Life

Some people are afraid to invest their money because they are afraid of losing it. Others are completely unsure of what investing their money entails and what it can do for them. Investing is a building block for a healthy financial standing if done properly and with some education. Don’t worry, you won’t have to go back to school! Today we are going to talk about ways to invest, why you should invest, and who to talk to get the assistance and understanding you need.

Leave Your Legacy Behind

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When To Make The Switch To LED Christmas Lights?

We got our decorating done this past weekend. Usually, we go in full force the day after Thanksgiving, but we decided to start a bit earlier this year.  We have a mix of LED Christmas lights and regular lights.  Pretty much everything inside is regular and outside is LED.

Benefits of LED

According to the site Holiday LEDs, there are many benefits of switching to LED lights, which include:

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The One Way Our Christmas Budget Fails

We have most areas of our Christmas budget down to a science.  Saving is pretty easy.  We estimate our spending, divide by twelve, and set aside an equal amount each month.  That works out great.  Sticking to the budget works, for the most part.  But there is one area that we still can’t get right.  Tracking our spending is the one area where the Christmas budget fails.

I Can Track Just About Anything

Every year, when Christmas shopping starts, I start off filled with hope. For what, you ask?  Well, hope that I can finally get the tracking down to a science.

This should be pretty reasonable, after all, considering I have a pretty solid tracking system.  I have a spreadsheet where I track all spending.  Want to know how much we paid for electrical service in 2011? I can find that out.  Curious about what our new roof cost back in 2013?  I can track it to the penny.

But what did we spend for Christmas last year?  Well…..that all depends.

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Why Writing Checks Is Inevitable

I remember back when I first went out on my own.  You wrote a check for every bill.  Gas.  Rent.  Car payments.  Cell phone bills.  Credit card payments.  It was the only way to do business.

Now we use electronic payments for just about everything.  Our utilities are deducted each month.  The same goes with the mortgage and cell phone payments.  Just about everything is done electronically.

Even so, we still use the dreaded checkbook.  It’s inevitable!

20 Checks In 6 Months

I was surprised to see that we’ve written twenty checks over the past six months.  That’s almost a full book of checks.

I took a look and found the following breakdown:

  • Grooming Places – 4 – My son and I go to a barber, and they don’t accept credit cards.  So, we write a check.  In addition, when my wife goes to get her nails or hair done, tips can’t go on a credit card.
  • Kids Activities – 3 – Certain parts of things that our kids do seem to be easiest handled by check.  Paying for equipment or such seems to end up being done by check.
  • School – 3 – Buying a t-shirt through the PTO.  Paying for a lost library book.  Again, the school doesn’t accept credit cards so business is handled by check.
  • Passport – 3 – My wife and I both got new passports, so there were fees to the government and the clerk’s office to get things handled.
  • Painting – 2 – We recently had our house painted, and paid some up front and the rest upon completion.  Both were done via check.
  • Family – 2 – We owed money for split costs on items to family members, and it was easiest to write a check.
  • Gift – 1 – A gift for a family member’s Confirmation was done via check.
  • License Tab Renewal – 1 – There’s no charge to use a credit card at the office, but they tack on a couple of bucks if you renew via mail with a credit card. So this just saved us time and money.
  • City – 1 – We get an annual pass to our local beach, and it’s either cash or check.

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Do You Believe These Money Myths?

There are a lot of different things you’ll read when it comes to your money.  The personal finance world has lots of people with many opinions.  I’m one of them!  But with so much out there, it can often get confusing.  What do you believe?  What’s true and what’s a suggestion?  I don’t have all the answers.  But there are a few money myths that I’ve seen come up more than a few times.

#1: Always Pay The Higher Interest Loan First

The higher the interest rate means that less of your payment goes to your principal.  This is true.  So, you should always pay the highest interest loan first, right?

Not always.

I think you have some flexibility here.  If you have a loan with a low balance, maybe consider paying that off first.  It will free up some cash flow.  Plus, paying off a loan will give you a ‘win’ on your scorecard.  Those can be very important and might be worth a few bucks in higher interest in the short term.

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10 Easy Things I Do To Save Money

Saving money is a big deal.  Many people don’t know where to start.  It doesn’t have to be hard.  In fact, when it comes to saving money, think small.  A small saving is easy to do.  And many small savings add up to BIG savings.

Here are some quick and easy things I do to save.  Hopefully some of these work for you.

Call The Cable Company

Every year or so our bill jumps up.  Every year or so I call them and ask them to lower our bill.  Guess what?  It works.  We save at least $40 compared to regular pricing.

Make My Own Coffee

I brew my own coffee every day. Even at work, I bring my own ground coffee.  I indulge in buying Half & Half.  All told, it costs a fraction of what I’d spend at Starbucks.

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Oil and Gas Prices: Expert Investors are Looking at the Past to See the Futures

Read through the promotional material for a good number of financial products and you will find a wealth warning telling you that past performance is not a guide to future returns.  Some investors focused on items like oil and gas prices might disagree with that observation.

Investment companies are understandably keen not to make any rash promises.  After all, they want you to put your money with them based on their expertise.  However, any private investor is free to do their due diligence.  Someone who can look at past events and apply that knowledge to the future can come out ahead.

This seems to be the case with some savvy oil and gas investors.  This group often believe that vital clues could be gleaned and trends followed, as a route to profits. Here is a look at what aspects of past performance some experienced investors are looking at in order to determine their current investment strategy.

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6 Easy Tips for Saving Money This Summer

It can be easy to overspend during the summer. From increased energy bills (you have to crank that air conditioner during those hot days) to vacation costs, spending seems to snowball during the hottest season of the year. Instead of leaving the summer with far less in your bank account, find ways to ease the strain on your wallet—while still having a great vacation season. Keep these simple strategies in mind and ensure your finances don’t get hit by the summer spending trend.

  1. Turn Down Your Hot Water Heater

Many homeowners turn up their hot water heater during the winter months to keep their showers warm. However, they forget to turn back the settings in the summer months (when all most of us want is a cold shower). The Department of Energy recommends having any tank-based hot water heater set to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Do a double check and find out where your temperature gauge is sitting to ensure you’re not wasting energy and money on heating water you’re not using.

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10 Short Term Money Goals That Are Easy

We all know we can do a better job at saving money, right?  I know I do!  Sometimes figuring out where to start is a bigger obstacle than actually making the changes.  If you can relate to that, then this post is for you.  Here are ten short term money goals, things that you can do today and without much trouble, that can really help you out.

Review Your Insurance Policies

Most people could save money on insurance.  You can often adjust your deductibles to lower your payment.  I also recommend shopping your policies around.  If you have more than one type of policy, you can often get a multiple policy discount by using one carrier.  Either way, checking your insurance is something that can probably save you money.  The great thing is that you can do this with just a few phone calls or website visits.

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It’s OK If Your Savings Account Doesn’t Make You Money

One of the basic pieces of advice is to make sure that your money is working for you.  And of course you want that work to yield maximum returns.  Finding good investments at low cost is a perfect example of a way to make this happen.  While you definitely want to make your money work for you, don’t get carried away.  See, some people fall into the belief that every single dollar has to make money.  While this would be nice in a perfect world, it isn’t always possible.  This is no more true than with a savings account.

The Savings Account: Then And Now

Until the recession that started around 10 years ago, a savings account was a great way to earn a little money.  You could stash money away, risk free, and still earn some interest.  It wasn’t a whole lot, but it was generally enough to keep up with inflation.

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