Saving

Save for the Days It Rains

An emergency by its very nature will strike at the most inopportune of moments. And the greatest fear that tags along with an emergency are the lack of funds. It is to overcome and be prepared for such unforeseen challenges that one should have a substantial amount of savings in place.

Warren Buffet had once famously quoted: “Savings in not what is left after you spent on your needs but it is the first investment you make before you spend on anything else.”

In today’s time of financial uncertainty and extreme competition, health and wealth are both victims. And after a point in time, there comes a situation where falling back on reserves, however unwise that would be, become a necessity. Let us list a few of them to see why people need and emergency fund or in other words, a saving.

  1. A loss of a job is a reality. Companies will restructure, downsize or maybe right size and the first casualty will be you. What would you do in that case? Jobs will never come on a platter and hence expecting one soon after you have lost one is simply wishful thinking. Also, even if you get one, there is no guarantee the salary currently drawn will be as attractive as the previous one.
  2. You or a family member has an illness. A debilitating one at that too. Where do you think you will have the funds to help you or the member get treatment? Also being too sick can make you lose your job. You would then be in a situation explained in point number 1. In addition to which the cost of treatment will add up.
  3. That property tax which you knew was under control for a long time has suddenly been raised. While previously budgeting for the taxes, you had never ensured some extra buffer for the future and now the future strikes back. It is again the savings which will come handy.
  4. You have been downsized and your hours rolled back. You are now a part time employee with very little cash in hand.
  5. An accident is a rude shock. Can happen to anyone of us at any time. Hence we call it an accident. The money needed for treatment needs to be saved from the beginning.

There is a myriad of reasons for people to start saving. The list is long and exhaustive.

If you haven’t started saving, this is the time.

Start now.

Saving Now Saves You Tomorrow

At 22 you are the king of the world. Nothing seems to bother you. You are invincible, raring to go and virtually unstoppable. Now pause and take a few steps back. This age, rage, and energy will not last forever. A few years down the line, when you slow down a bit, wisdom will suggest that the future holds no surprises, except old age and financial insecurity.

At 22, your effort to financial security begins.

At first, this might seem to be a scary proposition with too much information floating around, but there is enough reason

  1. Don’t get flustered with all that has been told to you in the form advice. Take an informed decision based on research. All those numbers around mean nothing if looked into properly.
  2. Start saving a little and more often. Start putting that in 401(k) and see it slowly rise.
  3. If you think the social security net will be good enough for you, think again. It is estimated that by 2037, social security benefit requirements will outstrip contributions. As a result of which, it would get difficult for you to sustain after retirement.
  4. The 401(k) is a reliable ally at this age. Start using it wisely. The money that is invested here is absolutely tax-free. The tax will only be deducted when you take it out. So this instrument is quite handy for a 22-year-old and needs to be made use to its fullest.
  5. The IRAs too have loads of benefits to make use of. It is an Individual Retirement Arrangement and is virtually tax-free, both on federal taxes, state and local ones. Of course, there are riders involved, but at this age, that should be bothersome.
  6. Now is the time to be aggressive. At 22, worrying about your retirement, investment becomes an art. Remember, you still have another 20 years or 30 years to go before you hang your boots up. You can take a risk now. Look out for stocks and bonds. With age, you can slowly change tracks and become conservative. Now is not the time.
  7. There are nontraditional ways to invest too. Heard about ETF (Exchange Traded Funds). They can be bought and sold at any time and is just a regular stock in disguise.
  8. Last but not the least. Stop worrying, start saving. That is the only way forward.

Employee Stock Options: Do I Invest With A 10% Discount

In other words, this would mean that you have an attractive piece of cake placed right I front of you. It is laden with all the sweetness, you ever wanted have. However, the catch is, one piece of that and you can forget the rest of the dinner because your hunger can only take in that much.

The same analogy goes in for investments. You start investing in stocks and end up putting too many eggs in one basket, the risk automatically rises. Going by the current trend among organizations is to provide a discount to employees who buy their stocks. Now understandably this is done to make things more attractive for the buyer. However, there is a certain thing one needs to keep in mind before indulging in that cake. Even before that let me tell how this thing actually works.

A set amount is of your monthly income is debited off and put into an escrow account. Twice a year, and this may vary from company to company, the money set aside in that escrow account, will be used to buy stocks, either at their lowest prices at buy in or during close, whichever is deemed cheaper. Add to it the employee discount that can vary from 10% to 15%.

Now, you can go ahead and immediately sell it if you want to and earn a 15% bonus, but again these numbers do keep changing.

Now, the thing which you need to keep in mind regarding stock options and the way to hold it. The first one, which we discussed, is for immediate selling and is called an ESOP (Employee Stock Options) and the other one is called RSP (Restricted Stock Purchase). Now what happens in the latter is akin to what one will do to the usual stock and shares i.e. hold on to it for a period in time. Now, chances are that the value of your stock may fall below your discounted price and that you may be facing a loss. If you are willing to sell it within a year, then you do act a short term investor, which may always be a bright idea, especially with company stocks. You may want to hold on to it for a longer period, which again has its risks, but has benefits too. The idea is to keep on checking the prices and the profits you would make.

As for starting a dinner with a cake and missing out on the rest of the food, investment to needs to be diversified. Having a little of most is a much better idea than stuffing oneself with only very few.

Emergency Savings Saves the Day During Financial Crisis

Savings in any form is good and better if you have an emergency fund stashed away to be used only during dire emergencies. Not many of us understand the importance of emergency savings till we actually encounter a crisis. Your personal finances can be shambles if you don’t have savings to fall back on during financial emergencies like a car breakdown, critical health problem of a family member, sudden death in the family etc. You will need to do some financial planning to allow yourself the wriggle room during crisis situations.

emergency savings

 

What does one need to do to enjoy financial freedom even during emergencies? Well, nothing much apart from creating a fund that can take care of unforeseen expenses. You can’t borrow from friends or family members – no one actually saves for friends or extended family members! You can’t even avail payday loans as they will drill a bigger hole in your pocket because of the insane interest rates. Financial planning is the only proper way of dealing with unplanned or unforeseen expenses.

 

All financial experts or market gurus harp on the need for robust financial planning in order to lead a tension-free life. No one wants to see their family members or friends struggling for money during an emergency. What’s the harm in planning ahead and creating an emergency fund that you can use when the need arises?

 

You can keep away some amount every month towards your emergency fund. This can be either in the form of a simple savings account or you can keep the cash at home only. Either way you will be able to make a substantial savings to take care of unplanned expenses. Medical emergencies, house repair, unplanned travels etc. can eat into your earnings if you don’t have an emergency fund to deal with such expenses.

 

If you are an impulsive buyer or a shopaholic then you might find it extremely difficult to save money at the end of the month. Start preparing early and make it a habit to set aside funds at the beginning of the month so that you spend only from the money you are left after saving. Emergency savings can be the best way to deal with the financial crisis and it is an important part of a robust financial plan. In order to enjoy total financial freedom, plan early and create an emergency fund to which you contribute on a regular basis.

10 Awesome Tips to Save Money on Groceries

We often don’t realize that we are spending a larger chunk of our income on groceries and end up stocking our refrigerators with unnecessary items. Before your food and grocery spending burn irreparable holes in your pocket, it is time to save some on your groceries.

save money on groceries

 

Here is a list of 10 awesome tips to save money on groceries:

  1. Prepare a menu – Planning what you want to eat before running to your nearest store might sound a drab activity but is extremely important if you want to save money on your groceries. Why do you want to end up buying items that you are not going to eat? Prepare a detailed menu so that you know the items you will have to buy.
  2. List standard items – Besides preparing a menu, there are some standard items that you will always require to rustle up a quick meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will never forget the items that are a part of almost all meals or common to several dishes.
  3. Look for sales – There is no better way to save money than buying grocery items during sales. Often the stores put up items for sale and you can get your daily food items at discounted rates.
  4. Buy in-season fruits and vegetables – For staying healthy, we all need to eat fresh vegetables and fruits. However, these are expensive items, especially if you are buying fruits or vegetables that are usually not the season’s produce. Buy only in-season produce as that’s the best way to get your regular dose of fruits and vegetables while not spending a lot of money.
  5. Collect Coupons – There are several online resources to get the best deals on grocery items; you can always collect the coupons to save a lot of money on your grocery purchases. Alternatively, you can also collect the coupons available with magazines and newspapers.
  6. Learn the store policies – Not all stores accept competitor coupons, so you will have to learn about the store policy where you usually purchase your grocery items.
  7. Cut down on the number of monthly store visits – This actually helps you to collect your coupons and visit the store during sales, so you will be able to make a killing. However, you can’t expect such outings more than once or twice in a month, so you will have to cut down on the number of monthly store visits.
  8. Choose your store wisely – Choose the store that offers maximum sales and discounts; a surefire way to save a lot of money on your groceries.
  9. Buy only necessary items – You should always buy the items that you need and nothing more than that. Even though you will be tempted but try to restrict yourselves to the necessary items only.
  10. Don’t take your kids to the store – They are not going to help you in shopping and instead compel you to buy a few items more; leave the kids at home while visiting a store and you will be able to save a few more dollars.