Finances

What Can I Do With My Tax Refund Check?

In this post I share what you can do to flip your tax refund and make it grow
Tax Time Is Here

 

 

We are in full-fledged tax season. I had a reader request a series on how you can invest your tax refund and make it grow. About a year ago, I hosted a webinar called Flip My Refund. To start this series off, you can view that webinar here. Don’t forget, if you have a personal finance question that you would like answered, you can send me an email at tracie@traciebthreadford.com Your question may be answered on the blog, but you will remain anonymous.

If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my you tube channel!

 

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2017 Financial Goals Manifesto

 

When you think about your financial goals, I'm sure you don't think about writing out a manifesto. Well, I am a little different, I like to do things in a grandeur fashion. What I do is make not just my financial goals, but ALL of my goals into a manifesto of sorts. That just ensures that I strive extremely hard to make them happen. It shows my financial view of actively making sure my family is financially secure even after I am gone. Today, I would like to share mine and my husbands 2017 Financial Goals Manifesto with you and encourage you to craft your own.

When you think about your financial goals, I’m sure you don’t think about writing out a manifesto. Well, I am a little different, I like to do things in a grandeur fashion. What I do is make not just my financial goals, but ALL of my goals into a manifesto of sorts. That just ensures that I strive extremely hard to make them happen. It shows my financial view of actively making sure my family is financially secure even after I am gone.   Today, I would like to share mine and my husbands 2017 Financial Goals Manifesto with you and encourage you to craft your own.

When you think about your financial goals, I'm sure you don't think about writing out a manifesto. Well, I am a little different, I like to do things in a grandeur fashion. What I do is make not just my financial goals, but ALL of my goals into a manifesto of sorts. That just ensures that I strive extremely hard to make them happen. It shows my financial view of actively making sure my family is financially secure even after I am gone. Today, I would like to share mine and my husbands 2017 Financial Goals Manifesto with you and encourage you to craft your own.

  1. Continue to save for our grandchildren’s education

    The cost of education continues to climb, and students are graduating college facing mounds of debt. If college is a choice for our grand children, we vow that our fourteen and counting grands will not have debt upon graduation. As education is important to us, the patriarch and matriarch of this family, we will use strategic, necessary financial finesse to ensure that any of our grandchildren who choose college as their path, will have the means to attend the college of their choice, without financial worry, stress and strain. Do you have any loved ones that may want to attend college? Are you saving for them? If not, now would be the time to start. Saving $50 per month from the day a child’s born could give you $20,000 by the time he or she turns 17, assuming a 7% return on investment. However old your loved one is, if you want to help fund their college education, start saving. It is never too early, or too late, to start saving for your child’s college.

  2. Plan for early retirement.

    My husband and I don’t plan to work until death. We would like to retire early and enjoy many years of fun, travel and relaxation. We are retirement conscious and we know  what it will take for us annually and have given account for inflation. Our children will not have to fund our retirement. All unnecessary spending has been eliminated. No manicures and pedicures for me, unless it is a special occasion, I do my own mani pedis. I have began sewing in order to revamp my wardrobe, so that, shopping is not necessary. Have you begun thinking about retirement? Your place of employment does not offer retirement savings? Why not open an IRA or a Roth IRA?

  3. Create two more streams of income.

    Generating multiple streams of income can have a major impact on your finances. Even an extra income of $500 each month could go a long way to paying down debt or increasing your investments. We often hear about the importance of diversifying our investments, but diversifying our income streams is just as important, particularly in difficult economic times. We both have an extra stream of income, but this year we vow to create two more. While increasing our income and contining to curb our spending, therefore, living like others won’t now affords us the opportunity to live like others can’t later. Do you have a gift or talent that you can turn into extra income? If so start now and watch your savings grow.

  4. Prepare for our demise.When you think about your financial goals, I'm sure you don't think about writing out a manifesto. Well, I am a little different, I like to do things in a grandeur fashion. What I do is make not just my financial goals, but ALL of my goals into a manifesto of sorts. That just ensures that I strive extremely hard to make them happen. It shows my financial view of actively making sure my family is financially secure even after I am gone. Today, I would like to share mine and my husbands 2017 Financial Goals Manifesto with you and encourage you to craft your own.

    It is inevitable, we will all ride the lighting bolt one day. Last year, our family suffered great loss and it made my husband and I look at our own mortality. My husband and I questioned if we have enough to do what needs to be done when the time comes. We don’t want our loved ones grief compounded by us not being prepared for something we know is coming. It is imperative to us that even though we are gone to the great beyond, their financial well-being was thought of. This year we will review and increase, if need be, our stock portfolio and life insurance. This will ensure that our financial house is in order upon our demise.  While we were fortunate that our loved ones made the necessary preparations, in today’s society more are not prepared than are prepared. This is evident in the number of go fund me accounts seen to help raise money to bury someone. It is important to us that we leave wealth behind for the next generations. Have you thought about what your family will do in the event of your demise? Plan today so they won’t be left with grief and empty pockets to remember you by.

What are your financial goals this year? Share them below, you never know who you may be able to inspire by doing so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 Money Tips for Older Adults

 

Getting older isn’t all bad. If you’ve accumulated wealth over your working years, it can be the time to enjoy all of that hard work. But financial stresses often arise, including budgeting concerns, income limitations and even fraud. These tips will help older adults ensure their cash lasts as long as they do.

 

Getting older isn’t all bad. If you’ve accumulated wealth over your working years, it can be the time to enjoy all of that hard work. But financial stresses often arise, including budgeting concerns, income limitations and even fraud. These 11 money tips for older adults tips will help ensure their cash lasts as long as they do.

Budget carefully.

During retirement, income tends to be lower than it was in the prime earning years, and that means older adults need to look for ways to limit expenses to make their nest eggs last. One key is to track living expenses to make sure you don’t burn through savings too fast.

Don’t be too generous.

When grown children are struggling with their own financial lives, it can be tempting to open up your bank account to them. The problem with this approach is that it can stress your finances and lead to family tension. It’s important make protecting your money a priority, even while trying to help your children.

Plan with your partner.

Even if you’ve been married to your spouse for years, it’s possible that you have different visions of how to spend your retirement years.  Once you know about your spouses hopes and dream, you both can start planning for it.

Make sure your bank is on your side.

Some banks cater to older clients more than others, with perks such as using larger print in communication, meeting outside of the bank and speaking clearly without being condescending. Asking about your bank’s age-friendly policies before you need them can help ensure you don’t get frustrated with its policies later.

Put fraud safeguards in place.

Older adults are at a greater risk for financial fraud, but there are ways to reduce that risk. Family members can be alerted to large withdrawals from accounts. Debit cards can be programmed to only work in certain locations and names and numbers can be placed on “do not call” lists.

Prepare for cognitive decline.

When it comes to managing money, signs of cognitive decline tend to show up in one’s 60’s and 70’s. It can become harder to manage bills, calculate tips and make change. Sometimes adult children or others can help prevent bigger problems, like falling behind on bills, by noticing those red flags and stepping in to help.

Keep learning.

While cognitive decline is real, other research suggests that older adults with higher levels of financial literacy are more likely to have higher wealth levels. Understanding concepts of investment risk and the stock market is associated with the ability to build and preserve wealth.

If you’re active on social media or have an extensive digital library or music or books, you’ll want to consider how to pass on those digital assets when you die. You can include your wishes in your will, pick someone to share account information with and restrict your privacy settings now so you’re not oversharing personal details with strangers.

Get money help from your adult children.

Adult children can often play a useful role in helping their parents manage money as they age. It’s important to enlist the support of children before experiencing a crisis or cognitive decline, so they know the basics of where to find account information if they need to. Talking through plans and wishes, and even writing out an overview of how you want to manage money as you age, can also help.

Consider launching a business.

Starting a business in midlife or later can add to your income in retirement as well as bring a measure of professional and creative satisfaction even after you leave your day job.

Teach your grandchildren about money.

Grandparents can play a significant role in teaching grandchildren about the value of a dollar. A 2014 survey from TIAA-CREF found that many young people say they are open to talking about finances with their grandparents, but only a small percentage actually have those conversations. Still, most grandchildren say their grandparents do influence their financial habits.

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3 Habits Debt-Free Consumers Practice: Practicing good financial habits makes reducing debt simple

Do you often wonder how people become debt free? No need to wonder anymore. There are 3 Habits Debt-Free Consumers Practice Practicing good financial habits makes reducing debt simple

 

Many consumers attempt to become debt-free, but while setting such a goal is easy, attaining it is often difficult or impossible. Financial experts are often asked for tips on how to pay off debt. The answer many give is that it is not something achieved overnight. There are several different habits that consumers need to develop if they want to reduce or end their debt. By practicing these habits regularly, they will start to see a change in their amount of debt.

1. The main reason consumers are in debt is because they spend more than they earn. By creating a monthly budget and tracking their expenses, consumers can see where their money goes each month. Then they can cut back on unnecessary purchases until they are earning more than they spend.

2. Consumers need to review their credit card and bank statements every month, to identify things such as memberships or subscriptions that they no longer need.

3. Another tip is for consumers to approach saving as a long-term solution process. While debt can be built up in a day, it can also be built up with small, regular purchases. Those who eat out several times a week may not think they’re spending a lot of money, but when it is all added up, the result is often much more than they realized.

Practicing these good financial habits regularly can make reducing your debt simple.

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Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Debt?

debt mistakes

Do you know why paying the minimum payments is a long term trap set up by credit card companies? If you’re in debt, do you know why you should follow the strategy of big banks to get out of debt? These are innocent mistakes made by consumers who are trying to get out of debt. But these mistakes are small potatoes to the most common mistake of all – Not knowing how credit card companies use YOU to create profits.

 Here’s the problem:

Competition for profits in the credit card industry is at an all-time high with new payment technologies coming out that are squeezing company’s profits. These companies must find new ways to push profits, even at the expense of the consumer. So few people even know about these strategies, it gives you an almost unfair edge.

Here’s what you should do:

1. Follow Big Business

If you’d like to get out of debt, the best way to learn is to see how big corporations handle debt. They learn how to make debt work for them and use it to profit. They clearly understand the loopholes that banks and credit card companies don’t want you to know.

2.  Avoid The Monthly Payment Trap

First realize that your monthly payment is calculated by the banks to MAXIMIZE their profits. Companies don’t have interest in you paying off your credit card debt because that hurts their profits. Realizing credit card issuers are companies looking to maximize profit at your expense is helpful to getting out of debt.

3.  If you get in too deep, get help

If you get to the spot where you’ve gone 6 months or more and the amount you owe on your credit cards is not decreasing, then seek the right kind of help. You still have a number of options to get out of debt using the money you already earn and without hurting your credit.

Remember, debt doesn’t have to rule your life, your marriage and your family. You can be debt free if you take action on the right information.

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Debt Keeping You Up At Night? My 3 Most Effective Steps To Pay Down Debt

Pay Down Debt
Pay Down Debt

 

I remember a time when I could hardly sleep at night,I was plagued with debt. I would lay awake thinking about all the debt I had looming over me, wishing that it was some magic debt elimination pill that I could take to erase all my debt. With five children, I kept sinking deeper and deeper into debt and there just didn’t seem any way out.

With a new year approaching, many of you may want to pay off debt. If my story sounds familiar, read on. Because I’m about to share 3 tips to help you pay down your debt and get a good night’s sleep.

The truth is, you have all the tools you need to change your financial picture today. I’m here to tell you that you CAN end the madness and put yourself on the road to safe and easy recovery with just a few simple steps. Just like any tough situation that seems impossible to change, it takes a bit of time. But, once you get on the right track, the road to a debt-free life is painless and incredibly freeing and rewarding. Let me show you an example, below you will find an actual MasterCard debt of mine from about 22 years ago:

Debt Balance MonthlyPayment Interest Rate Months toPay Off
MasterCard $972 $24 22.9 6 yr, 6 mo
  1. Pay off high-interest rate debts first

This is more than a rule of thumb in the debt relief business, but most people don’t understand it until they see it in print. Once you pay off your highest interest credit card debt, you will start seeing a complete change in your financial picture.

One way to do this is obvious – pay more than the minimum payment, right? For example, if you paid just another $24 per month on the MasterCard account, you can pay it off in just over 2 years – not 6 years! Plus, all the extra interest you would have paid to the bank goes into your pocket – not theirs! You might think, “easier said than done”.

  1. Review daily expenses

It actually is easier than you think. Have you ever taken the time to review all of your extraneous expenditures? For example, how much do you spend on expensive coffees, beauty treatments and shipping from online purchases? I’m guessing that it is a lot more than you think.

Reducing and eliminating your unnecessary expenses will, most definitely, add up and you will be able to fold the extra cash into higher monthly credit card payments. Just another $24 could be all you need! But you need to start with a reality check of your actual spending beforehand, especially incidentals. Are you ready?

  1. Negotiate interest rates

This is a tip that is rarely considered by those who are in debt. Did you know that some credit card companies are willing to reduce the interest rate for a set period of time if you speak with one of their customer service representatives? Believe it or not, you may have more power than you think, particularly if you mention a strong interest in transferring your balance to another financial institution.

Get started today!

Start with my top three steps and you will immediately see a difference in your financial outlook for the future.

  1. Pay off high-interest rate debts first
  2. Review daily expenses
  3. Negotiate interest rates

I have many more pertinent and effective steps you can take, but do yourself a favor and get started today. Then you can breathe a sigh of relief and know your life’s pendulum is going to swing toward positive change.

Have the debt free life you desire!

Tracie B.Threadford,

Your money make up artist

Contouring your pockets, lifting your bottom line and highlighting your future

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5 Steps to a New Financial You in 2017

new_year

A new financial you is an achievable goal for 2017. Holiday shoppers have been careful each season to make their lists and check them twice. Budgets have become more discerning and savers have become better planners for their spending; prioritizing savings along the way. According to a September 2016 report, two out of five millennial shoppers got a head start this year and started buying gifts for the season before summer had even come to a close.

These successful financial habits don’t have to stop there. With the New Year comes an opportunity to make some improvements to your financial health. Don’t make just another resolution that disappears by Valentine’s Day. Take your financial wellness to a whole new level: a New Year, a new financial you.

These five steps will help you to establish your best financial path for 2017, and you can have all the heavy lifting done before the clock strikes twelve:

5 Steps

  1. Take stock of your finances. Analyze all of your income, expenses, and existing savings/investment accounts. And no matter how nice you were, don’t forget to include any naughty debts you may have incurred in the spirit of the season.
  2. Sketch out a budget “template” for the year to come. Think big picture. Plan your spending for 2017 and find the method for budgeting that you’re going to use in the new year, rough out what you’d like it to look like from month to month. Be pragmatic about your needs and be honest about where your money is going. Plan to make adjustments and really dig into your spending habits when you check back in on a regular basis.
  3. Check your credit report. It is your legal right to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Add a visit to AnnualCreditReport.com to the calendar as an annual “holiday” or divvy up the bureaus to get a free report from a different bureau every four months.
  4. Set up bank and credit alerts, and financial reminders. Whether you’re at your computer or on your mobile device, you are in an ideal position to receive notifications about upcoming payments, suspicious activities on an account, transactions over a certain dollar amount, low balances, and more. Find out what online services your financial institution(s) offer, and supplement what they don’t with an app or calendar reminder. It’s all right there at your fingertips.
  5. Make a Commitment to Yourself to Save. Those who make a commitment to themselves and their family to save usually save more than those who don’t. Think of this as your New Year’s FINANCIAL Resolution.

Join those savers who have successfully opted to reduce holiday spending. Make saving a priority throughout the season and make 2017 your best financial year yet.

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Do You Have A Saving Strategy?

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do you have a savings strategy

It’s never an easy question to answer. What should you save toward? Should you save only for retirement? Should you save for college first and then retirement? Should you save for college and retirement at the same time? Or should you adopt some other savings strategy? In a world where money may seem tight, picking and sticking with a savings strategy could be the difference between reaching your goals or not. But how should you prioritize your savings? Which savings strategy is best for you?

Most Americans have only certain resources —income and assets — to allocate to current needs and future goals. You should first sit down and think hard about your future goals, and be as specific as possible. What kind of retirement do you want? What type of college do you want your children to attend? You should have specific ideas of what you are saving for in light of available resources.

When thinking about those goals, analyze what would happen if one goal is funded but not the other. For example, I might first think that funding for my children’s college is my top priority. However, what would my retirement look like? Would I have enough time to save for my own retirement? Or, further, will I fund my child’s college only to find out that I will need to rely on them financially in the future because I hadn’t saved enough for my own support?

When thinking through your priorities, weigh the future issues that may arise from funding one goal but not the other or others. The fallback of retirement income is Social Security which may not meet your desired retirement lifestyle.  College, by contrast, can be financed through financial aid, loans, parent’s excess cash flow, children’s jobs, and the like.

As a rule of thumb, I suggest prioritizing in this order:

  • Save for your emergency fund;
  • Save in your 401(k) plan, or at least enough to get the full match from your employer;
  • Pay down your high-interest debt.

After that, funding your short- and intermediate-term goals and then any other goals, including retirement. Depending on your priorities, you might consider saving for your retirement goals before your short- and intermediate goals.

Deciding how you should prioritize your savings does require some number crunching so sit down and get started crunching.

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Today Is Financial Literacy Hill Day

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Today Is Financial Literacy Hill Day

‘Hill Day’ History

Financial Literacy Day on the Hill was introduced in 2003 by the Council for Economic Education, Junior Achievement and the Jump$tart Coalition, with the office of U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka serving as the original honorary host. Over the years, “Hill Day” as it’s come to be known, has evolved from a small gathering to a public event that attracts hundreds of participants. The location of the event alternates, each year, between an office location on the House of Representatives side and the Senate side of “the Hill.” This year, it’s in Hart Room 902 of the Senate Office Building.

U.S. Representative Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX-15) has served as honorary co-host on the House side since 2005, along with Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13). In 2013 Representative, Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) took over for Rep. Biggert following her departure from Congress.  U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) and Michael Enzi (R-WY) served as honorary co-hosts on the Senate side until Senator Akaka’s retirement.  U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) joined Senator Enzi as honorary co-host in 2014. The event features a free buffet lunch and the financial literacy exhibits from more than 60 non-profit, for-profit, and government entities.

Laura Levine, president and CEO of the Jump$tart Coalition, has served as the event emcee each year since 2004, representing the many coalition partners that participate.

 

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Money Lessons For Kids

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Money Lessons for kids

Our youth have a deep lack of understanding when it comes to properly managing finances. I know my two older grandchildren want to run to the store every time they receive money. It has been a monumental uphill battle to train them how to manage their money. Statistics have generated a national movement to incorporate financial literacy into our education system and encourage parents to teach money management lessons at home.

Currently, only 17 states require a course in personal finance in order to graduate high school. It is imperative that young Americans learn financial literacy at home. Teaching kids how to appropriately manage their finances is essential so they have the necessary tools to become financially responsible adults. In honor of financial literacy month, I decided I would give you some tips on how I taught my children and how I currently teach my grandchildren about personal finance and money management.

1. Use Cash

While it’s true that credit and debit cards are more convenient, children are paying attention to how you manage your money. Using plastic doesn’t allow them to see the actual exchange of money for purchases. When you use cash,children will see the transaction take place, and witness the exchange of cash for goods or services. It drives home the point that in order to make a purchase you have to hand over your hard-earned cash

2. Bank/ATM Visits

A visit to the bank or the ATM is a great way to explain where money comes from. Children can see that the bank doesn’t just give out money; it’s a place to store the money you’ve earned, as well as the place where you can go if you need to take out a loan. Many local banks will be happy to provide a quick tour of their location, which will show your child how money is stored and transacted.

3. Grocery Shopping

If you are like me, you hate to take your children to the grocery store, because they want and beg for everything they see. Although I hate to take them, a trip to the grocery store is a great opportunity to begin building basic money management habits. Parents can show children the benefits of comparison shopping and how to stretch a dollar as far as it can go. While shopping together, parents can talk to their children about the price of each item and explain how using coupons can add up to huge savings. At the checkout counter, parents can have children count out the money needed for their purchases, as well as take part in the transaction.

4. Needs vs. Wants

This is a place where my grandchildren struggle. They feel that every want is a need. I have to constantly explain to them that just because they want something does not mean that they need it. One of the basis for good money management skills is the ability to distinguish between wants and needs. For example, people need food to survive, but children want a new toy or video game. This will build the foundation for appropriately managing finances as an adult and help kids learn to appreciate saving money for items they want.

5. Build A Budget

Explaining the difference between wants and needs to children can be tough. To help with this, have your child sit down with you as you create your monthly budget. Explain the purpose of accounting for all your monthly expenses and financial responsibilities first, and then see how much money is left over to save or to make the purchases you want. Parents can also help their kids create their own budget. Even though they don’t have many expenses, it is good practice for the future and allows them to see where their money goes as they spend it.

We all want our children to do well in life, and part of that hinges on them being able to effectively and appropriately manage money. If you aren’t teaching your kids about personal finance, now would be a great time to start.

 

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