Forced to Retire Early? Follow These Five Tips

Retire Early

Sometimes, we may be forced into a position where we have to retire early. While this may cause some initial problems, it might benefit you in the long run. However, preparing for an early retirement will involve some difficulties. Due to this, we want to share five steps you should take if you need to retire earlier than you expected.

Think About Pensions and Social Security

As you worked at your job over the years, you most likely put money into social security, and you may have a pension. This means you will need to strategize your pensions and social security to get the most out of your benefits. Each of these will provide you with a certain amount of money. While social security benefits automatically accumulate as you pay taxes, you will need to see if you have a pension. 

Identify A Location

As you plan to retire, you need to find the best location available. You will still need to pay certain bills and taxes, so you need to find a location with a low cost of living. On top of this, you should purchase the home you want to live in to avoid paying rent. Once you identify the location you want to move to, you can create your plans around that idea.

Look at Investments

Many people will have different investments they contributed to as they worked. This can include IRAs, 401k plans, and purchasing stocks that increased in worth. You will need to review your investments to see how much money you earned through all of them. From here, you can add these investments into your funds alongside your pensions and social security. This will help you see how much you will have during retirement.

Create a Budget

Once you know how much money you will have, you can create a budget. Depending on the options you have available, you could easily identify how much money you will have access to each year. From here, you can divide your money to see how much you can spend each month. This will assist you as you plan for your retirement.

Make Necessary Life Changes Immediately

If you plan to move, get a new home, or anything else that will change your life, you should do it immediately. If you hold off on these changes, they will become major expenses later on. Since you will most likely receive your money in portions, you won’t be able to pay them all off at once. Due to this, it’s better to make those changes as soon as you can.

Conclusion

While you will face some problems when you need to retire early, these steps will help you out. Following them will let you see the amount of money you will need to retire alongside any other preparations you should consider. These steps will get you on the right track as you prepare for your early retirement. Make sure you review and apply them to make your retirement process as easy as possible while ensuring you have enough money for your needs.

5 Affordable Easter Basket Ideas

Affordable Easter Ideas

Children love Easter and some of us never grow out of this yearly joy. Easter is not just a holiday where people wear fun pastel colors or attend a dawn service. It’s also the first real spring holiday where kids run around, share candy, and generally have a great time. We all remember our own wonderful experiences decorating eggs and doing the yearly egg-hunt, and many families also have an Easter basket gift tradition.

So how can you make this Easter just as delightful without financially splurging on Easter baskets? Don’t worry, Easter is one of the most DIY-friendly holidays on the calendar.

 Where to Get the Baskets

  • Garage Sale Baskets
  • Construction Paper Basket Weave
  • Bunny Bag or Bunny Box
  • Hot Glue Basketry
  • Garden Planter Basket

First, get yourself a few fun Easter baskets. They don’t have to match. In fact, traditional easter baskets rarely match and make for delightfully chaotic decor when stacked together. You can find baskets in garage sales and thrift stores for cents on the dollar if you want wicker or wire baskets. Or you can make your own by getting creative. Make a bag or box into a bunny with homemade ears for a bunny-basket. Or hot-glue things to a bowl to make it into a basket when it wasn’t already. Or repurpose a plastic garden planter that you decorate for Easter.

 Affordable Easter Basket Fill Ideas

Now let’s quickly dive into a few awesome affordable ideas to fill your Easter baskets.

1. Homemade Easter Cookies

Never underestimate the joy of iced cookies. A box-mix or tube of cookie dough, icing, and food coloring are all you need to fill every Easter basket to the brim with adorable Easter-themed cookies.

2. Wildflowers and Seeds to Grow at Home

Easter is all about spring and renewal, so bring some of that springtime joy to the easter baskets. Include packets or shaped ‘bombs’ of wildflower seeds and then stuff your baskets with beautiful locally picked wildflowers for the nature-lover in your family.

3. Dollar-Store Prizes in Plastic Eggs

Plastic eggs are THE tradition for Easter joy, especially for children. If you’re planning an egg-hunt or just to fill a basket with plastic eggs, fill them with dollar-store prices. You can go all-out with candy, but most kids love the discovery of whether there’s a quarter, a parachute-man, or a bounce ball in every one of those little eggs.

4. Make Rabbits Out of Everything

Short on time, supplies, and stuffed animals? No problem! Find creative ways to make rabbit ears with cardboard, paper, and cloth to turn everything into an Easter surprise. If you’re adept at hotel towel folding, you might even make a towel-bunny for the giggling delight of your young relatives.

5. Hand-Decorated Easter Eggs

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget egg decoration. For normal hard-boiled eggs, all you need is crayons, food dye, and your ceramic mug collection. But you also don’t have to stick to real eggs. You can personally decorate anything egg-shaped and non-perishable eggs might even become precious keepsakes to remind your loved ones of the special Easter you spent together.

Easter doesn’t have to impact your finances this year when it’s one of the most DIY-fun holidays to share with your family.

How to Pay Down Credit Card Debt in 2021

The average American has $5,700 in credit card debt, so if you’re struggling with high card balances, you’re not alone. Knowing how to get out from under this debt load can be challenging, though — especially with high interest rates adding to your balance every month.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to pay down credit card debt. You can do some of it on your own, and other strategies require you to seek help from a lender or a company that focuses on helping people like you.

Are you ready to get free from credit card debt? Let’s dive in.

Create a Repayment Strategy Yourself

The easiest way to handle credit card debt is to set up a repayment strategy that fits your lifestyle. One of the most common is to focus on your smallest debts first. As they are paid off, you put your payments toward larger debts.

Over time you create momentum and end up with more money to put toward larger balances. If you can handle your minimum payments and still have a little bit of cash left over, this could be a great way to pay down debt.

Consolidate Your Debt

One of the biggest problems with credit card debt is that the interest rates are very high. The average credit card interest rate is between 14% – 18%. If you have a low credit score, it could be even higher.

This interest is added to your balance every month, making it very difficult to get out of debt. Fortunately, interest rates on other types of loans are much lower. As a result, you can get a consolidation loan and use the money to pay off your credit cards. Then, you pay a single monthly payment at a much lower rate.

This can help you reduce the amount you owe each month even as you pay down your debt balances. Just be sure to remove the credit cards from your wallet so you don’t build the balances back up.

Get Better Credit Cards

Perhaps the credit cards you have now have fees or extremely high interest, but you qualify for better offers than you used to. If that’s the case, you can apply for new credit card accounts and transfer the balance.

If you have good credit, you may find that balance transfers have 0% interest for a year or more. This can give you time to make payments and get rid of that debt without having the balance grow.

You may also choose to have a single credit card you use and pay off each month. If you do, you might enjoy having one that gives you cashback, travel points, or other perks. Shop around to find the best deal!

Home Equity Loans

If you have owned your home for a while, you’ve probably built up equity. Equity is the value of the house that you own versus the amount you owe the bank. For instance, if your home is worth $200,000 and you owe $150,000 on it, you have $50,000 in equity.

You may be able to take out a line of credit based on the $50,000 in equity. However, it’s best not to borrow more than you need because you have to pay the money back, and you don’t want to risk losing your home if something goes wrong.

Another idea is to refinance your home entirely. This would give you a new loan of $200,000, you’d pay off $150,000 to the old lender, and you’d have $50,000 in the bank. Of course, there are fees when you refinance, but it can be a big win overall if you can lock in a lower interest rate.

Debt Settlement

If you’re struggling with credit card debt and none of the other options work, you might decide to work with a debt settlement company. These companies will work with your creditors on your behalf to reduce your debt.

Debt settlement companies charge a fee for their services, but it’s worked into the monthly payment for your plan. Settling debt in this way does impact your credit score, but you can build it back up over time.

If you’re at the end of your rope, debt settlement is often a better option than outright bankruptcy. You can settle your entire balance much more quickly than you ever could making minimum payments.

Make 2021 Different

Take advantage of these strategies to pay down your credit card debt. You’ll feel freer with less debt to manage, and your

5 Ways to Avoid Overdraft Fees

What?!?

How did this happen to you…again?

You were certain you had enough money in your checking account to make that purchase. Unfortunately, you forgot about that automatic car insurance payment that came through yesterday and brought your available balance down lower than you thought.

Now, you’re stuck with yet another overdraft fee — not something you appreciate much when you’re already having a hard time making ends meet.

Only a kind-hearted customer service rep at the bank can save you now from that fee. However, there are many ways that you can avoid more of these fees in the future.

Check out these 5 ways to avoid overdraft fees.

1. Decline Overdraft Protection

This might sound backwards, but you read that right. Overdraft protection programs allow you to swipe your debit card for a purchase that will overdraw your account. So if you have $25 in your account and buy something for $50, the bank will loan you the extra $25 — and slap you with an overdraft fee in the ballpark of $35. Average overdraft fees in 2020 were $33.47 according to Bankrate.

What’s more, you might not even know that you overdrew your account. Plus, you can rack up multiple overdraft fees if you make multiple purchases before you realize what has happened.

So, overdraft protection saves you the embarrassment of not having money at the checkout counter, but the cost may not be worth it.

2. Set a Low-Balance Alert

You can set up alerts with your bank, so you’ll receive an email or text when certain things happen. For example, you can be notified when your account balance drops below a certain dollar amount.

3. Monitor Your Account

Even with a low-balance alert set up, you should still keep an eye on your account. It’s still possible to overdraw, particularly when making a large purchase. For example, you might have arranged to be notified when your account balance drops below $200. But if you buy something for $250 and have $225 in the bank, you’ll still overdraw.

Additionally, you might not have noticed when the alert came through. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of checking your account regularly, particularly before making a large purchase.

4. Use a Credit Card

Another way to avoid overdraft fees is to not use your debit card for purchases. You can use a credit card instead. As a bonus, you can make money in rewards for each purchase if you choose a card with these benefits.

However, we mention this strategy with a caveat. Monitor your purchases and ensure that you can pay off your entire credit card balance each month. This allows you to enjoy the rewards of using a credit card without being saddled with a bunch of unneeded credit card debt.

5. Find a Bank That Doesn’t Charge Overdraft Fees

Newer competition is in the market and there are some banks that don’t charge overdraft fees. These tend to be online banks that have a smaller overhead and don’t have to charge their customers as many fees to make money. Additionally, the interest they pay on savings accounts may be higher — another benefit.

Another possibility to check out is your local credit union. Some are restrictive about who can join, but many pay higher interest and charge fewer fees. All it takes is a bit of research.

Stay Free from Overdraft Fees

Nobody wants to find out they’ll have to pay a hefty fee for a small oversight. Thankfully, by following these 5 tips to avoiding overdraft fees, you can stay overdraft fee-free and enjoy keeping your money where it belongs — in your bank account.