Saving on a Low Income

Savings are the cornerstone of financial security at any level. We all know that it’s something we should be doing, so why do so few people manage it?

When you’re living paycheque to paycheque, as many people are in the current economic climate, it becomes a daunting task to set aside any money for the future. The primary concern is to meet the rent and bills now rather than worry about hypothetical costs further down the line and this perfectly natural. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to start saving, just that it requires discipline.

So what are the key points to start saving for the future?

Firstly, start small. If you don’t think that you can afford anything then start very small.

Put away £1 a week if necessary, 10 pence, whatever you can afford. Make sure that you do this regularly, have a set time every week so that you don’t forget. In fact, the easiest way to do this is to set up a regular transfer from your account to a savings account. If you set the transfer to go through on the same day as your payday then the money will go straight out to your savings, it won’t be in your account long enough for you to notice that it’s gone!

Secondly, start today. Don’t plan to start next week, next month or next year, start now. Every day that goes by your savings will increase, every day that you don’t is a missed opportunity.

Another crucial point is very simple. Don’t touch the savings! Towards the end of the month you may be tempted to take money out of your savings to see you through until payday, often with the intention of paying the extra back in. Don’t. You’ll have to pay a little more in to your savings just to get back to where you were, so you’ll be more likely to do the same the next month, and the next month. It’s an easy cycle to get into and a difficult one to get out of so avoid this trap in the first place.

However, you do need to establish what your savings are for. Are you saving for retirement, a new car or just to have some emergency money? What establishes an emergency? Set yourself boundaries and stick to them!

I’ve found it helpful to have to separate savings accounts, one for long-term, one for an emergency fund. The long-term savings I do not touch under any circumstances, that will eventually be a deposit on a house, or even a retirement fund. The emergency fund is different, this covers expenses that aren’t covered in my monthly budget, but only emergency expenses.

For example, if the MOT is due on my car, then this is budgeted for and paid for out of my regular account. However, if my car breaks down and costs £200 to get back on the road, then this is an emergency payment from my savings. I need the car working and cannot afford to take that hit to my monthly budget.

Using the same example, it shows how important savings are. If I didn’t have that backup in place then that would have to come out of my monthly budget and leave me short on everything else for a month. This could leave me with no money for petrol, food or even rent. Having that backup, however small it is, can make the world of difference when the situation gets difficult.

A lot of keeping control of finances is about forming the right behavioural habits and this is no exception. You’ll feel the difference in your budget initially, but after a few months it’s unnoticeable. You grow accustomed to living off slightly less money, meanwhile your savings can just grow and grow.

Tips for Personal Finance

Monitoring income and expenses is a tedious process that requires patience and foresight. While it may be dull to balance your checkbook and ensure bills are being paid, the security provided from managing your money is priceless. By employing a few simple techniques you can make the process both easy and enjoyable.

When I first entered college, I found myself having to manage my first income along with a sizeable amount of bills-rent, groceries, cell phone and recreation money. I spent the first semester going out to eat, to the movies and buying unnecessary items. I soon found that I had blown my savings from my summer job. Instead of having a comfortable financial cushion, I was soon living off a meager income from a part-time campus job-lets just say ramen noodles became a fixture of my diet.

Unfortunately, I had not set up a balanced budget to ensure I was paying all my bills, saving money and allotting for “fun” money. I had overlooked one of the crucial steps for managing money: I did not set up a budget to know how much I was making or spending. It is important to sit down with your pay stubs, bills and receipts to determine how much money can be allotted for each item. In fact, this basic step is really half the battle to ensuring a sound money management strategy.

The repercussions of not having a balanced budget can often cause you actually to lose money. For instance, many banks charge overdraft fees when you buy an item and do not have sufficient funds. While in college, I often found myself not only with depleted bank account but also a hefty overdraft fee-usually around $35 dollars-after not closely monitoring my spending. It is hard to imagine now, but I was actually paying for my poor money management choices.

So, what are a few simple steps to balancing a budget? The first step you must do is actually total the money you receive monthly. Add the sum of all the income or support you receive-whether it is from a job, rental property or a relative. After figuring out your monthly income, next add up all your monthly bills-rent, mortgage, cell phone, water, gas, electricity etc. Once you have both of these numbers, subtract your total income from your expenses and what remains constitutes your surplus from each paycheck.

Now, many people decide to spend their surplus income on personal hobbies or entertainment. While it is certainly appropriate to spend a portion of your income on these items, it is not wise to spend all your extra money on dining, clothes or other luxury items. Instead, saving a portion or investing your money in a personal project allows you to invest in yourself and help you grow as a person. For example, I spent my summers while in college working for a landscape company, so I could invest in my education and myself. Although I had a lot of surplus money from the job-I lived with my parents during the summer and had almost no bills-I choose to invest and save for my education. This investment took years to pay-off, and I had to sacrifice going out and having fun; however, the “nest egg” I saved over the summer helped me pay for college expenses and develop a better future.

Finally, it is important to not see money management or a budget as a hindrance to your life. Instead, it is important to view it as a necessary tool to ensure a successful future. When I save money now, I do not feel as if I am “sacrificing” for tomorrow; rather, I recognize that I am ensuring I will have a safety net later in life. By positioning saving money as a “precaution,” it reframes it as a necessity and a much more essential part of my livelihood-rather than a burdensome sacrifice.

So, the next time you find yourself out of money at the end of the month or paying overdraft fees, reflect back on the techniques you are employing for managing money. Make sure you have developed a balanced budget, allotted “fun” money and are investing in your future. Whether you are a young professional or an individual nearing retirement, it is never too late to develop the skills necessary to managing money. Most importantly, do not think of budgeting money in detrimental manner. Rather than seeing it as a deterrent to your current life, view it as a necessary insurance policy to ensure a bright and secure future.

Secure Your Finances With Three Simple Actions

Millions of people do not understand how important it is to be financially stable. Financial stability does not necessarily refer to having a well paying job and a lot of money. In order to be secure, one has to know how to handle their monetary resources. You need to be able to determine how you will spend, save and invest your money. This will make sure that you are financially secure.

How to use your money

There are simple tricks you can apply to your life to ensure you are utilizing your money well. The three main elements are to make sure you can;

· Spend

· Save

· Invest

When you get your salary or profits from your business ventures, you must be willing to pay attention to all these three areas. The secrets to maintaining a constant structure that will ensure you are financially stable is by following the pointers below.

1. Budget

Always budget whenever you get your money. Be logical when you do so. Write down all your expenses and needs. When you budget, always indicate payments you have to make to insurance companies or loan payments if they are not part of your net pay. Once you have a clear picture of how much you are spending, you can now know how much to save.

2. Saving

Choose a savings account that will generate more funds for you. You may need to do some research before you settle for one. If you have dependents, you may want to put money aside for their needs as well such as tuition savings. Allocate your savings according to your needs.

3. Invest

Investing ensures that your future is secure. Once you have done your savings and budgeted well, make sure you take a leap of faith and invest your money in other ways. For instance, you can put some money into company shares.

For the sake of your family, you can also apply for insurance. Life insurance is the best since it covers both you and your loved ones. There are many options available for such insurance covers like new policies that offer life insurance without medical.

With these three factors in place, you can begin to take charge of your finances. In the event that you have extra money to spare, hiring a financial manager will ensure you keep track of all your expenditures. Be sure to prioritize in the first stages so that you meet your goals and live within your means.

Financial Planning at Every Life Stage

Just like there are four seasons in a year, there are different seasons of financial planning during your lifetime. Financial planning can help you can gain a better understanding of where you are at financially, how to prepare for challenges that may be ahead, and how to plan for where you want to go.

Of course, every situation is unique, including the age and circumstances under which you begin implementing a financial strategy. And what suits you at age 25 is typically different from what meets your needs at age 55.

In a nutshell, the stages include:

· Building assets

At the beginning of your career, your financial focus is typically on accumulating your assets. Your ability to earn income may be your most valuable asset, so investing in your career is critical. It’s also important to establish an emergency fund, build your personal savings and pay off student loans.

· Investing for the future

When you grow more successful financially, you will increase your discretionary income. During this stage, you’ll start planning and saving for future goals, such as a child’s college education and/or a comfortable retirement. Make sure you have a well-balanced and tax-diversified portfolio to provide potential growth opportunities.

· Planning for retirement

As you near retirement, planning for it often becomes your financial priority. Begin by thinking about your retirement goals and dreams. Then, create a detailed plan that will help you get there. You’ll want to make sure you have the flexibility to take income in tax-efficient ways that will enable you to continue your lifestyle and be prepared for the unexpected in retirement.

· Generating retirement income

Once it’s time to enter retirement, begin implementing your retirement plan and enjoying the assets you’ve accumulated. After a few months, reevaluate your plan and make adjustments so you stay on track.

· Leaving a legacy

As you become older and more financially secure, leaving a legacy becomes paramount. Legacy is about the impact you’ll make on people, charities and causes that are important you. It’s also about making sure you have the right beneficiaries in place to protect your assets.

Of course, there is some overlap in each of these stages. For example, you may take steps to get the right protection in place while laying a foundation to grow your assets. Or you may take retirement income while planning ways to transfer your wealth.

Regardless of the stage you’re in, it’s important to make sure that your legal and financial documents are properly structured to ensure the most efficient and effective transfer of your assets – including property, personal belongings and investments – in the event of your death. Doing so can give you the added peace of mind that comes from knowing your family is as financially stable no matter what happens.

Is Online Banking Safe?

Online banking is becoming an increasingly popular form of financial account management because it gives people the convenience of performing financial transactions such as depositing and transferring money whenever they want from any location – provided they have an Internet connection. Although banks use various strategies to secure the electronic transactions of their clients, consumers must take certain steps to make their electronic transactions much safer.

Security Issues
One of the biggest security problems in online banking is harmful malware. These applications are used by malicious people to intercept users’ personal data, including transaction information and passwords. Malware can affect different types of electronic systems including tablets, network routers, desktop computers, and smartphones.

Another type of security problem in Internet banking is phishing. This refers to an electronic attack that compromises people’s personal information. Criminals often send fraudulent emails that mimic the appearance of official bank emails and with links that lead to fake websites. Phishing steals users’ personal information and passwords when they enter the data into their computers.

Avoiding Risks
The most obvious risk of online banking is theft. However, some bank deposits are secured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Certain financial products such as stocks, mutual funds, non-deposit investments, and insurance products are not covered by the FDIC.

A person risks becoming ensnared in identity theft if a criminal successfully steals his personal information through Internet financial account management. Many criminals use the information they steal from online bank accounts to commit fraud like applying for credit and loans under other names.

Institutions typically use encryptions and protocols to protect their clients’ information when transactions are conducted electronically. One of the technologies used in Internet financial account management is secure socket layer protocol, which helps to authenticate clients’ electronic connections with their lending institution so that they can avoid connecting to a fake website. The bank then checks to make sure that the information it’s receiving has not been tampered with before continuing with the transaction.

Safe Account Management
Install antivirus software on your desktop computer and laptop to protect it against viruses and malware. Update your anti-virus software regularly to ensure it has the latest security features and updates.

Avoid sharing laptops and other portable Internet devices to avoid risk of exposing yourself to malware and other potentially malicious applications. Only perform exchanges on laptops and computers that are properly secured.

Never disclose your personal pecuniary information including account numbers, PIN, or passwords to anyone through word of mouth, text messages, emails, or phone calls. In addition, do not perform Internet transactions with a financial institution that does not encrypt its client’s electronic transactions.

Online banking is a great way to perform transactions and keep track of your money and account activities. One of the most important things to remember when doing transactions online is that your money is only as safe as the devices you are using. While Internet financial account management is considered safe and convenient, it is important to protect your identity and money when doing transactions electronically.

Steps to Open a Savings Account

Anyone with financial goals also needs methods for achieving them. A savings account can be one way to build a nest egg for the future. When you wish to begin this type of relationship with a bank, you will need to follow prescribed guidelines for becoming a customer.

Research Options

Different financial institutions have specific policies and guidelines for their services. Before opening a savings account with any one bank, gather information from several to enable you to compare. Optimally, the facility you select will have a convenient location, possibly with more than one branch. Also, look for a lender with hours that match your schedule, an extensive ATM network, and attractive features such as online banking. Find out about minimum balances and fees to help you choose the institution that offers the best package to fit your needs.

Gathering Materials

After choosing the bank you want to use, gather the documents you will need to open the savings account. Most financial institutions require at least one form of identification (possibly two) and proof of address. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license, passport, school identification card, voter ID card, or government-issued photo identity card. Acceptable types of proof of address include a bill from a utility service, a registration letter for the connection of a utility service, or a rental lease. You will also need to know your Social Security number, so bring your card if you have not memorized this number. Minors will need a parent or responsible adult to accompany them to the bank to open a joint account in both the minor’s name and the adult’s name. Bring the cash along that you wish to deposit, also.

The Process

You will meet with a representative to open the savings account. The representative will present the options you have for different terms and packages, and you will need to choose the one you wish to use. Ask specific questions about fees, service charges, interest, minimum balances, and statements at this time. Take notes, if necessary. If online banking is available, arrange this service at this time. You will likely need to choose a username and password to access the bank’s online portal. Review terms of online services, also. Request an ATM card to be connected to the account, if desired. Review all terms to ensure you understand them. Sign the contracts to indicate your understanding and agreement. Give the representative the cash to be deposited. You will receive a receipt to show this transaction. You will also receive a book that displays deposits, withdrawals, and balances.

To maintain the account effectively, stay up-to-date on your balance. Add all deposits and subtract all withdrawals to ensure you know the balance. When the bank adds interest or subtracts fees, add or subtract these amounts to or from the balance to get an updated balance.

With proper preparation and ongoing maintenance, a savings account can be an effective way to manage money in both the short and long term.