The Big Question: To Invest or Pay off Debt?

A common battle takes over the minds of millions of consumers who are near the beginning of their wealth building life. Debt, which comes at a cost, and investing, which has the potential to pay off significantly in the future, are two financial tools often at odds with one another, and not much direction is provided by the financial powers that be on which to tackle first. While both serve a purpose, it can be daunting to determine which is the right path for you and when. Fortunately, there are several questions to ask yourself that will help in making the best decision for your specific financial situation.

How Much is Debt Costing Me?

The first question you should ask yourself when it comes to paying down debt or investing is how much your debt is costing you. High-interest rate debt, like credit cards and some short-term loans, should be your focus before dipping your financial toes into investing waters. That’s because, over time, compounding interest on a debt costs you tremendously, especially when you’re only paying the minimum amounts due. While you could be earning a high return on your money in an investment account, more likely than not, it won’t be as high as the interest you are paying to a lender. Focus your energy on paying down that debt first.

Do I Have an Emergency Fund?

If you’re considering taking some funds away from your debt repayment plan to put toward investing, you should take a look at your rainy day fund first. Everyone needs an emergency savings account that can be easily accessed when a financial emergency or unexpected bill pops up. Counting on credit cards or loans to manage a big bill in a hurry isn’t always the best option, as it could cost you quite a bit over the long haul. Set aside some of your discretionary income to build your emergency savings to an acceptable level before you start investing.

How Well Do I Understand Risk?

Hands down, investments are the sexiest part of a financial plan. That’s because some investments boast high returns with little risk, along with access to your cash without any withdrawal penalties. However, all investments carry some degree of risk; without an understanding of how that affects your bottom line, you could be headed for financial trouble. Before you get seduced by investments, you have to ask yourself if you’re prepared to take on risk. Investments fluctuate in value (yes, even the safer ones), and if you can’t stomach volatility right now, it’s best to work on your debt first and then explore investment options when you have more discretionary cash.

Can I Do This Alone?

Just about any financial strategy can be implemented – and championed – on your own. Resolving your debt issues may take some time to calculate and fit into your budget, but it’s manageable without the help of a pro. Investing, on the other hand, can be a complex strategy to grow your money, and as such, getting expert help from a financial professional may be your best move. Figuring out the balance between paying down debt and investing for the long-term can be done easily by employing the help of someone who’s been there, done that, or an expert who is actively helping others accomplish the same thing.

Before rushing down one path or another, it is important to understand that everyone has unique financial circumstances that should be considered prior to making a significant financial move. Ask yourself these questions to get a better understanding of what your priorities are, and then develop a plan to get to the next level of your financial life in a balanced, logical way.

How to start investing with a small budget

With the economy taking a turn for the worse now and then, it’s wise not to store one’s eggs in one basket. This may be through relying solely on one’s paycheck. One has to find alternate ways to raise extra money on the side. A great way to do so is by investing in the hope that you will get huge returns in the future. However, this is not always the go-to option for most people. This is because most people have the illusion that investing is only exclusive to those with deep pockets. However, they couldn’t be further from the truth. It is actually possible to invest while on a small budget and here is how:

Start by saving

There is a thin line between saving and investing. In order to raise some money to invest, you’ll first need to save up a bit. If you are new to saving, here are some few pointers to saving. First, start off with stowing away a little at a time, say, $10 dollars per week. This may seem like a small amount, but over time it will grow up into a sizeable amount. Ways to starting saving include putting an amount of money in an envelope, a small safe, a shoe box or even in a cookie jar. There are also online savings options and apps that can assist one in saving. With saving also comes the need to spend less than one earns.

Direct Stock Purchase Plans

Once you have saved up a small amount, one of the best places to invest in is in direct stock purchase plans. This is where one buys stocks directly from companies with the absence of a brokerage account and middlemen. However, a drawback to this is that very few companies offer these plans so one is limited in options. However, you can’t dismiss the benefits of this plan where you don’t have to pay large sums of money as commission to a broker and you can even buy half shares.

Find fund companies that offer low minimums

In one’s search for fund companies, it is very easy to get turned off by well-known no-load fund companies that command large amounts of money as investment to the tune of several quid. However, be on the look for no-load fund companies that cater for new investors and don’t require one to raise high limits.

Other ways of getting investment advice are through books by well-renowned entrepreneurs such as Jack Welch or Robert Kiyosaki. Taking the time to read and learn them by heart is a good start to saving which you can find in various stores near you, say Barnes & Noble. Look for coupons and promo codes available to save bucks. All in all, these tips will help start you off investing even on a small budget.

Today’s Top Personal Finance Apps: Manage Your Money No Matter Where You Go

Keeping track of your money can be a difficult proposition for people who either don’t take the time to make a budget, or just don’t understand how to create an effective one. This can create financial problems that you may not be able to solve simply.

Fortunately, in today’s ever-connected world, help is just a mobile device away. Application developers have created hundreds of different apps that can help you set a budget, track your investments and give you a general overall sense of your financial situation. Some of the apps are even free, so you don’t have to spend anything to get on the right financial track. Here are some of the better financial apps that are available on Android and iOS that can help you keep an eye on your money from anywhere.

Mint

The Mint Budgeting App is a great, all-in-one tool that can help anyone set a realistic, sound budget and stick to it month in and month out. It’s also a free app for all mobile devices, so there’s really no downside to giving it a try.

If you do try it, you won’t be disappointed. Mint is a very easy, hassle-free way to follow all of your saving and spending. The app syncs directly to your bank account, so many times you don’t even need to input any information yourself. The app will know when you make withdrawals or deposits and when you use your debit card for groceries, gas or other monthly expenses.

The app is very secure and will give you alerts when you approach your monthly spending limit or when there are unusual charges to your account. It can even give you your credit score, so you know where your overall financial health stands.

All of these features will help you save more and spend less, strengthening your financial position.

PocketGuard

PocketGuard is another budgeting app that tracks your financial situation from anywhere. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that Mint does, but it is free as well and boasts a simplified outlook to your finances.

PocketGuard connects directly to your bank account and, once you input some information like your take-home pay, will keep honest track of your money. From the home screen, you can see your overall financial situation, from the total amount in your account to deposits and withdrawals. The app will also analyze your spending and recognize recurring payments, such as utilities and credit card bills, so it can give you alerts a few days before those payments are due. This will help keep you ahead of your debts and on track to saving money.

Wallaby

Wallaby is a financial tracking app that works a little differently than the previous two. Rather than just linking your bank account, Wallaby links to all of your credit cards as well, making even more financial information available to you in one place.

By linking to your cards, the app keeps track of all of your credit spending and can notify you when you are spending too much. It also analyzes your credit cards and gives suggestions as to which card to use in which store, maximizing points and rewards that each card offers and taking each card’s interest rate into account.

While the app uses top-notch security, linking your cards to the app may concern you, but you don’t have to worry. Wallaby allows you to just tell it what type of card you use and the app can still analyze the cards for the best opportunities to use them.

Digit

This app is for people who have trouble saving money. Like the other apps, you link your bank account to Digit so it can analyze your saving and spending habits.

Unlike the other apps though, Digit will use that analysis and take a small amount of money based on your overall account balance and deposit it into a personalized savings account.  This makes saving money an automated procedure that you never have to think about. Of course, you can block the app from moving money and you can withdraw from the Digit savings account at anytime, so your money is never tied up and unavailable. If you use this app for several months, you will see savings results that may surprise you.

These apps can help you stay on track. However, if you need loans to help pay outstanding debts, you can find out from King of Kash.

Joseph Birch could probably tell you to the dollar how much he has in his bank account. He’s a frugal guy helping people online to manage their finances better to become happier through his articles.

How to Have the Frugal Wedding of Your Dream

Weddings and engagement parties are expensive. Adding the cost of a honeymoon onto the tab makes the idea of spending money on getting married particularly unattractive. However, destination weddings or engagement parties can keep the costs lower and add the honeymoon into the whole package.

Forget the US, Give Australia a Go

One of the easiest ways to save money is to make the money go further and be worth more. While it sounds like asking for a magic money tree, currency conversions provide this.  With $1 dollar currently equivalent to $1.34 in Australia, traveling to the land down under becomes even more attractive. Although places like England, France, or Italy may sound traditionally romantic, the US dollar doesn’t stand up as well to the British pound or the Euro. This means that a single dollar doesn’t count for as much when traveling there. If you want your wedding and engagement party budget to feel larger, Australia is the place to be.

Although the idea of an international flight might seem too much for the wallet, roundtrip flights to Australia can be found with a little research and patience. When thinking about the idea of a destination weddings or engagement parties, most people would think that the Caribbean would be the best place. However, the Caribbean is almost as expensive to fly into, and the US dollar doesn’t go as far. What this means is that for a couple wanting to fly somewhere exotic, Australia provides the best benefit overall.

Final Stop: Australia, Brisbane

Now that you’ve decided on Australia as the destination, the question becomes what destination is best. Sydney or Melbourne might seem alluring since they’re the first cities that most people associate with Australia.  Over the last twenty years, however, Brisbane has seen a revitalization making it the best of the three capital cities in Australia. In fact, over the course of the last few years, ambitious chefs have started moving to Brisbane to start new restaurants that are raising the bar for the foodie experience there.

This means that there are now a multitude of cool, new places to hold your reasonably priced destination wedding or engagement party. Whether you’re looking for something classic or something more urban chic, Brisbane has something to meet your needs. Traditionalists can find high tea served and treat their guests to something that mixes the modern into the quintessential experience.  For those looking to give their guests a unique foodie experience, check out the options for wedding and engagement party venues in Brisbane. Whether sitting down to a traditional experience or something more chicly modern, Brisbane has something for every taste.

For those couples looking to cut down on cost while still having a unique wedding or engagement party experience, destination weddings are rapidly becoming the most obvious choice. Finding the right destination, however, means thinking not just about the cost of flights, but the cost of food and boarding, as well. Brisbane and its reinvigorated urban culture provide the perfect option when combined with the current currency conversion rates.

 

Image source: Factory51, wedding venue in Brisbane Australia

 

Creative Cunning: Tips for a Budget Friendly Vacation

Vacations and getting away from everyday life should relax people. The idea of being distanced from daily responsibilities and feeling free from everyday worries takes a lot of planning. However, for a lot of people, this desire to be out of the normal routine also comes with the added stress of being able to afford time away to recharge. While a staycation may seem like the answer, frugality does not mean just making the best of the situation. With a little creativity and cunning, a budget friendly vacation is just one planning session away.

Cheap Lodging

One of the best ways to save money on a vacation is to find affordable places to sleep. If you are an outdoor person, pitching a tent is one of the best choices since it is flexible and frugal. If you want a longer term investment, use an RV. Campground rentals are reasonably priced for anyone trying to find cheap lodging. Tenting is excellent for outdoor lovers. For those who trend more towards the city folk side of things, the RV rental can save on expenses and feel like a home away from home. If being budget conscious, keep in mind that you want to factor in gas prices so traveling cross country may not be in the cards, but staying still in one beautiful outdoor location would be perfect.

Cheap Food

Eating on a vacation is the second cost deterrent to an affordable vacation. Assuming the need to eat out means assuming a larger cost than necessary. Finding local grocery stores and storing up on things you can make easily on the road is a good way to keep down costs. Whether camping, using an RV, or staying in an inexpensive hotel, food is a top priority. Treating yourself to a nice dinner out over the course of the trip can be a great way to relax. However, some meals simply aren’t worth the high cost. Instead of eating breakfast in a restaurant or eating fast food to keep it cheap, try buying boxes of cereal or breakfast bars. Even fi traveling long distances, having multiple coolers can also help if you need to keep things cool. When looking for a way to add the extra space, attaching a trailer using Westcott Towbars’ gear selection can also help.

Coupons

Frugality means deals. Deals come with coupons. With coupons abounding online and in local newspapers, it’s a good idea to do some research before you go. Going into the local grocery stores to get food means that you can probably also see what the coupons are for the week there. Take a look at apps for those big box stores that are in the places you’re traveling. If you download the apps for them, you can pick up necessities on the go for a lot less. Take a look at local libraries, also, to see if they have some options for rental of tickets with a valid library card.

Additional Income

Sometimes, the best solutions are the simplest. If you’ve always been a fan of the open road and have an RV you use for your own adventures, don’t let it languish in your driveway between trips. Rent it out to help pay for future trips.

The reality is that travel feels more expensive than it has to be. The ability to get a mental break from the daily grind doesn’t need to create the kind of stress that a vacation is meant to alleviate.

Whole List of Promo Codes

Here is a whole list of promo codes that you will find especially useful for saving money while shopping online. Whether you are shopping for athletic supply gear, vaping equipment, appliances or even psychic services, you will find sweet deals at MyFavDeal.org/stores.

Do you do a lot of Amazon shopping? If you check out the page at www.myfavdeal.org/stores, you will find dozens of Amazon coupons. Everything from ventriloquist dummies based on popular comedy acts to electric wine openers to standing desks to Kindle Unlimited memberships.

Have a special someone in your life? And are you getting ready to pop the question? This whole list of promo codes can get you sweet deals at DiamondDelight.com or other online diamond jewlery dealers on the World Wide Web. And you can rest assured that you dealing with conflict-free diamonds. Even if you are happily married, you could probably stand to get a nice diamond necklace or pair of diamond earrings to make your wife the envy of the country club.

What about health products? Do you need herbs to make your remember stuff or lift your depression? You might need vitamins that will help you achieve your best you. MyFavDeals is the place that will provide a whole list of promo codes that will give you savings on healthy juice products supplements and serious stuff to free you of almost any disease.

And when you have all the supplements you need, you can head over to TrekDesk.com to get a walking desk. Spending all those hours at your desk, hunched over typing and scouring the Internet for the best online shopping deals you can find can be hell on your back and shoulders and wrists. Take back your physical prowess with a walking treadmill desk that will get your blood flowing and the pounds shedding.

When you head out on the links, I bet you are losing balls by the bucketful. One swing and your super expensive Taylormade is swimming with Luca Brazi. Stop wasting cash on expensive golf balls that you are just going to shank into the woods anyway. This whole list of promo codes will get you deals at SchwettyBalls.com and a whole host of other golf equipment sites.

So the deal is this: if you need to shop online to get the goods you need, you have to use www.myfavdeal.org/stores to get the best coupons and the best deals. It is the only way to go.

Fashion industry: Appreciate the latest trends for wedding dresses

The fashion industry is always keen to see what the latest trends will be for designer wedding dresses and reaction from some of the latest bridal shows will create a stir.

That’s because it appears that designers are willing to meet a growing demand from brides for wedding dresses that help them stand out from the crowd.

However, for many wedding industry watchers this will mean more brides ignoring the elegant classic gown which has stood the test of time and opt for something rather different instead.

Indeed, this may mean wearing a completely sheer wedding gown, wearing unusual veil hats or even – for those brides who really do want to cause a stir – have a wedding dress with a crotch-baring design. They certainly will not be a blushing bride!

It appears that designer wedding dresses in the near future will be aiming to reveal as much of the bride’s flesh as is possible with some designers unveiling daring looks including an ‘almost naked’ look.

These wedding dresses mean the bride will be revealing their pelvic bone in a gown that has been slashed from the waist to the floor though other designers are equally keen on brides flashing their cleavage as well.

However, it’s not all about designer wedding dresses taking centre stage to get all of the attention on a bride’s big day since some fashion designers are also creating unusual veils for their outfits as well; some of them look like hats with the veil falling down like a helmet.

Other creators of unusual wedding dresses have also revealed their delicate bridal gown designs that come complete with a sheer cleavage that leaves little to the imagination.

There’s also a trend for wedding dresses to use floral prints more in the fabrics of the gown to help the bride stand out.

The trend for future wedding dresses is not just about setting out to shock and it appears that bows will be popular as well, particularly bows located in unusual places, for instance on the back of dresses and tucked into skirts.

The latest designer wedding dresses were unveiled in New York where the watching fashion fans welcomed the ground breaking designs and there’s no doubt that brides who love fashion will be tempted to dare to bare on their wedding day in some of these more unusual offerings.