Three Ways to Live Cheap and Achieve Your Dreams

Have you ever dreamt of retiring before 40? Or maybe your dream is to take a year off and travel the world. Whatever your dream life involves, living frugally can help you get there that much sooner.

Cut housing costs

Housing is one of the biggest expenses people have. Instead of living in a two-bedroom apartment, consider getting a one-bedroom or a studio. How much time do you really spend at home anyways? Spending 30% or 40% of your income on a place to go fo a few hours a day and to sleep is not wise. Reducing your housing costs can go a long way towards meeting your financial goals.

Take the bus

If you can, move into an apartment on a bus or subway line and give up your car. Not only will you be saving hundreds of dollars a month by not having a car payment, you’ll save on insurance, registration costs and gas. Plus, using transit means you won’t be stuck behind the wheel of a car, giving you an opportunity to walk to and from transit (hello gym membership savings!) and to listen to music or podcasts while being transported.

Get out of debt

Debt repayment is another large expense that takes up a lot of most people’s disposable income. Rather than wage war against your credit cards with sky-high interest rates, look into consolidation loans or personal loans. Using the money from these loans, you can pay off your high-interest debt and have manageable monthly payments. Paying off these monthly payments reduces the debt, saves you on interest costs and, more likely than not, raises your credit score which allows you to get even cheaper debt in the future.

Life is pretty hard. If you’ve got big financial dreams you might look around and wonder how some people can seem to afford everything while you can’t afford anything. Their secret is living frugally. By maintaining a frugal lifestyle with regards to your housing, transportation and debt repayment expenses, you’ll find yourself with lots of disposable income to put towards your financial goals. With so much disposable income, you might even decide to treat yourself to a luxury or two along the way to your financial dreams.

Tips And Tricks For Passing The Financial Portion Of The CPA Exam

If you’re preparing to take the CPA test, you may think that the whole process can be overwhelming. Not only is the test difficult to pass, but you have to study and prepare for four different sections that have equal importance. The entire exam is quite comprehensive, so you have to learn a lot, and learn it well, to pass with flying colors.

Fortunately, you don’t have to kill yourself with all-night study sessions, as we have compiled a list of tips and tricks for you to use. In this article, we’ll focus on the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section, which goes over maintenance of your client’s finances so you can report them to the government properly. These tips come from CPA tutors, so make sure that you make this part of your CPA study material.

Take FAR First

If you talk to most people who have passed the CPA test, they all recommend that you start with this section because it is the longest and it’s good to get out of the way. Because this part takes the longest to study for, and you have a limited amount of time to take all four sections, you want to utilize your time wisely. This way, you can study as much as you want before you start the clock on your CPA exam.

Don’t Rush Studying

Because FAR is the biggest section of the exam, you have to spend the most time studying it. The concepts are not very difficult, but there is a lot to learn. Don’t try to speed things along or skip over things and hope that you won’t see them on the test. It’s far better to go slow and steady for this section.

Learn the Layout

Before you take the test, it is a great idea to learn what parts will be on it so that you can prepare yourself better. The sections of FAR are conceptual framework, financial statement accountants, specific transactions events and disclosures, and accounting for government and private entities.

Overall, when it comes to CPA tutoring you can check out CPA Exam Guy. They offer several different resource for studying for the CPA exam. You may want to take your time and move forward once you’ve mastered each section. This will ensure that you will be well prepared to pass the entire exam.

5 Tips to Stay Cool When Teaching Your Teen How to Drive

Your teen is turning 16 soon. Many parents dread this period. Not just because teenagers at that age can be difficult to deal with but also because they’re legally eligible to take a driving test and obtain a license.

Having your teen behind the wheel of a car can be the stuff of nightmares for many parents. This is understandable since the National Center for Health Statistics lists motor-vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death among people in their teens.

If you’re lucky, your teen may decide to delay getting their driving license and wait for a time they are more mature. According to the AAA Foundation, only 54 percent of teens that participated in the survey said they had a driving license by the time they were 18 years old. These findings show that teens are waiting longer to get their license.

While this may seem like good news, young drivers are still considered reckless. It should come as no surprise that insurance premiums rise when parents add their teens to the policy. If you want to get an idea use online resources like CoverHound’s car insurance quotes compare tool to find the best insurance deals for the family. You may score a better rate by changing your insurance provider even after you have included your teen on your policy.

If you want your teen to observe the law and be a more responsible driver, it’s a good idea to instill these principles yourself. There’s no better way to do this than to teach your teen how to drive.

The following are some tips to help you remain calm and cool during those trying trips:

  1. Practice in a safe place

The first step to ensuring that your teen learns how to drive properly is to identify a safe place where they can practice. This space should be free of traffic and other obstacles. A long empty stretch of road or an empty parking lot are great places to start.

  1. Agree on some ground rules

Agree on some basic rules before you begin the driving lessons. These rules may include establishing roles and ensuring that distractions such as smartphones are turned off while driving. Rules offer guidelines for lessons.

  1. Get the basics down

Begin with the basics necessary for driving a vehicle before you hit the open road. Make sure your teen understands just how important it is to learn these basics before you hit the highway. Learning the basics will not only help them to gain more confidence and become safer drivers, but it will also help to develop more confidence in your teen. Once these basics are mastered, it will be much easier on both of you when you hit the open road.

  1. Learn to ignore slip ups

It can be hard to ignore slip ups but doing so is essential to their development. Think about when you were first learning how to drive. You probably made just as many mistakes or even more. Expect your teen to make mistakes and be prepared to accept them. The whole idea of learning how to drive is to gain confidence behind the wheel and avoid slip ups on the road, where it counts most.

  1. Give them a little free reign

The best way to build your teen’s confidence is to be confident in their abilities. This often means giving them a little more freedom and allowing them to tackle bigger challenges. Allow them to drive on the highway once in a while (only after they have their learner’s permit and a licensed adult in the passenger seat). This will go a long way in helping your teen improve their skills quickly.

Don’t panic when faced with the prospect of teaching your teen to drive. Take it as an opportunity to instill good driving habits in them.

How Your Company Can Make Smart Decisions For Online Operations

By now, every business owner and entrepreneur knows that having a great online presence is essential for overall success. However, making the decisions necessary to building your online presence can be quite stressful. From choosing web hosting and design packages to devising online marketing strategies, becoming a brand with a powerful online presence can seem overwhelming.

It’s possible for your company to navigate their online sales and marketing without hitting any roadblocks, however. Here are some smart tips on how your company can make smart decisions for online operations.

Do Your Homework

This sounds like it should be obvious for just about any business decision, but you’d be surprised how many entrepreneurs rush into things without really stopping to consider their other options. Whether it’s your web hosting plan or a prospective marketing firm that claims it will be able to take your business to the next level, it’s essential that you make decisions slowly and with a lot of consideration. When it comes to your business, never rush into things. Even if a company is touting a “limited time offer,” always really consider things before signing any contracts.

Compare Services

There are many companies out there devoted to helping companies to expand and improve their presence on the internet. They all have their own pros and cons. For this reason, it’s essential that you take the time to compare services. Look for companies that have a track record of success with brans similar to yours, as what’s ideal for one brand might not be so ideal for another.

Know The Value Of Design

These days customers tend to make a lot of split second decisions. With the plethora of goods and services available online, customers are more inclined to be swayed by first impressions. This is why great design is so important. Customers will often make buying decisions based on the emotions that the design of a website or logo evokes within them. For this reason, it’s crucial that your design is something that you’ve put a lot of work and thought into, rather than something you assemble haphazardly to get it over with.

Create A Budget

It can be easy to overspend when you’re launching your online brand. For this reason, you should lay out a budget before you begin looking at different services and hosting providers. By knowing how much you’re willing to spend in each area from the beginning, you’re less likely to go over budget.

Creating a home for your company on the internet can be a challenge, but it’s integral for your company’s success. Customers are attracted to companies with stellar online presences, so make sure that your brand is up to par.

How to Insure a Home that has Water Damage

Who doesn’t enjoy a swim on a hot summer day? Swimming is a refreshing way to cool down and relax. And with an iced drink in hand, floating in the pool is an amazing way to destress – unless you snap back to reality, realizing you don’t actually have a swimming pool, and are in the middle of a small pond in your basement.

The first question you probably have is: where the heck did all of this water come from? And the next: will my homeowners insurance cover this?

Is it Flooding or Water Damage?

When we walk down the stairs into our basement and find it actively filling with water, we immediately go into overdrive and try to remove the water by any means necessary. We look a lot like the Disney character Mickey Mouse trying to stop those magically animated brooms from dumping more water into an already overflowing space. We are so concerned with getting the water out, that we’re not paying attention to where it’s coming from.

Is this new “swimming pool” in your basement the result of a burst pipe, or is it because of the rising creek not far from your property? The reason behind the flooding will make a big difference to your insurance company.

Flooding and water damage are considered to be two different housing disasters in the insurance industry. Flooding is characterized by an external water source rising on your property, such as brought on by a hurricane, mudslide, tsunami or other natural disaster.

Water damage is characterized by an internal water source in the home that has not touched the ground outside. Examples of water damage include a burst pipe, leaky roof or faulty drainage system. Water damage is covered under your homeowners insurance policy, flood damage is not.

Insuring a Home for Water Damage

The non-profit Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that between the years 2010-2014, (the current available data) water damage and freezing claims came to a financial average of almost $8,000. That’s a lot of money for a moisture problem in the house. Even if you think your home is safe from such a watery catastrophe, it’s still smart to take out protection.

Let’s say the home inspector you hired to take a look at your house gave you top marks and assured you that your house is well-guarded against water damage and other housing disasters. Does this mean you should just forego homeowners insurance? The answer is no. Even if you take every precaution to ensure that your pipes won’t freeze during winter and that your electrical wiring won’t short and cause an electrical fire, things can still happen.

The standard homeowners insurance package will provide coverage for/in the following areas:

  • Liability protection

  • The structure of the home

  • Living expenses

  • Property loss

  • Water damage

You will have noticed that flood damage is not included in the above list. This is because homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. To get flood damage protection, you will need to take out a separate policy. In states that experience heavy rainfall and severe hurricanes, you will be required to have a hurricane deductible, protecting you, your house and your finances.

To make sure that you are getting the right amount of insurance coverage for your home, comparison sites help customers compare homeowners insurance premium rates and package offerings in just a few minutes. Let’s face it, looking for insurance is one of those frustrating and annoying occurrences in life that no one really wants to have to deal with. Comparison websites make looking for insurance a little easier, a little less stressful and way more affordable.

How to Make Your Retirement Money Last — Even If You Live to 100

When it comes to enjoying your golden years, saving money is only half the battle. Even after you reach retirement, you still have to manage your money wisely to make sure it lasts the rest of your life. You can expect to live at least 20 years after you retire — and you may even live into your 90s or older. How can you make your retirement fund last for decades?How to Make Your Retirement Money Last — Even If You Live to 100-1

While there’s no way to guarantee that your money will last for 30 or 40 years, you can maximize the chances of that happening by making the right decisions as you approach and enter retirement. You shouldn’t stop investing in stocks, but you should consider buying an annuity, long-term care insurance or longevity insurance. Divide your money up and invest each portion differently depending on which decade of your retirement you plan to use it in. You may even want to continue working part-time in your retirement, to reduce the rate at which you withdraw from your retirement accounts, and allow you to delay claiming Social Security.

Buy Insurance

There are two kinds of insurance you should consider buying as you approach or enter retirement. The first is long-term care insurance, which can help you cover the costs of nursing care should you or your spouse need it. Medicaid covers only a limited amount of at-home or residential nursing care. Health insurance, if you have it, probably won’t pay for nursing care at all.

The younger you are when you buy long-term care insurance, the more affordable it will be. It can help you protect your retirement funds from nursing care costs, and protect your loved ones from the burden of providing or paying for nursing care, too.

Longevity insurance is a little different. You buy it from an insurance company when you’re 65 and then, when you’re 80 or 85, you’ll receive monthly payments for the rest of your life. It’s cheaper and easier than trying to manage your assets for 15 or 20 years, and it guarantees that you’ll receive a monthly lump sum payment whether you live to be 85 or 105. A $25,000 policy bought at age 65 could pay out about $3,000 a month once you turn 85. If you invested that money in stocks with an eight percent rate of annual return, you’d get $116,524 after 20 years, but that would only last you 3.5 years if you spent $3,000 a month.

How to Make Your Retirement Money Last — Even If You Live to 100-2

Use the “Bucket Method”

The bucket method is a form of retirement planning that involves dividing your retirement funds up into three portions at the beginning of your retirement. The first portion will fund the first decade of your retirement, the second the second decade, and so on.

With the first portion, you’ll buy a 10-year immediate fixed annuity that will give you a monthly payout for the first 10 years of your retirement. You might not get as much as you would from a deferred annuity, but you’ll still be young enough to supplement that income with part-time work. Choose a reputable, big-name insurance company that’s unlikely to fail — if the insurance company underwriting your annuity fails, you lose the money.

The second “bucket” will fund your second decade of retirement, so you’ll want this money to be relatively safe, too. You have a couple of options here. You might buy a deferred 10-year annuity that will begin giving you monthly payments when the first annuity runs out. You might also put this money into government bonds, or look into buying high-dividend stocks or mutual funds. Consult a financial planner to help you choose the best stocks.

You’ll want to take some more risks with the third bucket. You won’t need this money for another 20 years so it still has time to grow. Put it into stocks and bonds just as you would have while you were working full-time.

Keep Working and Don’t Take Social Security Just Yet

If you can continue working part-time in retirement, do it. The more money you can earn, the less money you’ll have to draw from your retirement fund. If you can continue working full-time a little longer, that will mean fewer years you have to rely on your savings and a better chance of making that savings last. Many people set up an online business in their final years before retirement so that they can continue earning income while working from home, with minimal effort.

You should also put off drawing Social Security as long as possible. The longer you wait to claim your benefits, the larger your monthly check will be. If you’re turning 62 this year, your benefits would be $1,599 a month; but if you wait till age 70 to claim them, you’ll get a whopping $2,926 a month.

You don’t get to stop planning for your financial future once you reach 62 years of age. You have to manage your retirement funds carefully to make them last for the rest of your life. If you make the right choices with your money, you’ll have a much better chance of living comfortably throughout your old age and even leaving a little something behind for your heirs.