5 Things You Must Know to Take Control of Your Budget

Control of Your Budget

Managing your finances can be extremely rewarding, but also challenging. If you’ve never tried to budget before, then it can be hard to figure out how to make it work for you. That’s because many factors affect your budget, which can seem quite complicated. But once you break out of old habits and learn to focus on the things that matter most, it’s possible to have fun with your money and save up at the same time. Below are some tips for mastering the budget game.

Know Your Numbers

The first step in budgeting is figuring out where your money is going now — and what you can cut back on. You can’t control your money if you don’t know where your money is going. Start by tracking your spending for a month or two so you have an accurate picture of your income and expenses. You can do this manually, like write everything down in a notebook or use free apps to help keep track of your spending and see what areas of your budget need tweaking.

If you get paid weekly, write down each paycheck every time you get one — don’t wait until the end of the month to do it all at once. This is especially important if you have an irregular income. If you only get paid once per month, once per quarter, or something similar, then write down each payment along with any other transactions. You’ll also want to ensure you’re getting the most out of any credit cards or rewards programs.

Set a Goal for Yourself

Once you know how much money is coming in and going out each month, set a realistic monthly savings goal. For example, if you want to save $500 per month, then plan to spend $500 less than what comes in each month, assuming there are no unexpected expenses.

If possible, try to set aside extra monthly money, say $100, which goes straight into savings without being touched until the next month rolls around. This will help build up your savings account quickly without taking away from other priorities like paying off debt or contributing toward retirement accounts.

Set aside Sinking Funds

A sinking fund is an accounting measure used to allocate funds for an ongoing project. The money is put aside for a specific purpose, such as paying off debt or paying for something in the future. It allows you to set aside money always to have it available for your project. They can be used not just for savings purposes but also for working towards a specific goal, such as saving for college funds because society spends enough on K-12, it just cannot afford to pay for peoples’ college pursuits.

The alternative approach would be to put extra money towards the debt monthly, but in practice, this may not happen because people overspend their normal limits and have nothing left to add to their debt repayment plan. A sinking fund is a way you can pay down your debt and have extra money built up in reserve if you ever fall short on funds which can happen in a high gas costing, inflationary environment.

Anticipate Irregular Expenses

We set budgets for the many things we purchase throughout the year. But one of the most critical areas to budget for is irregular expenses. Inconsistent expenses are just that – not every month or six months, but only once a year, such as saving for festival gifts, vet visits, or medical check-ups.

It is essential to plan for these as they can seriously impact your cash flow and should not be overlooked. Forgetting to add these into your initial budget could make a difference between having money in your account and not.

Automate Money for Savings

Saving money can feel like a challenge. It’s hard to remember to do it every day and don’t even think about saving in between paychecks or on paydays. By automating your savings, you can ensure that you’re saving and setting money aside for emergencies or larger goals like retirement. Saving money on an automatic deposit can seem daunting at first, but once you get into the routine of saving on auto pilot, it becomes second nature. Once you’ve taken the first step of linking accounts and setting up automatic deposits, all that’s left is sticking to it and ensuring that each account has enough money in it so that transactions are completed successfully and without error.

7 Tips to Ensure Financial Stability During Retirement

Financial Stability During Retirement

How will I afford my expenses in the post-retirement years? That is the one question that crosses everyone’s mind at some point in their lives. A large number of people do not have a plan for their retirement. Having insufficient retirement funds is one of the biggest financial worries of more than 50% of the population. 

But it is never too late to start. Even if you are in your 50s, you still have 10-15 years to ‘tighten the reins’ and save for your retirement. It will give you much-needed peace of mind and keep you from all the hassles during any emergency.

If you want to be financially stable during retirement, here are some valuable tips: 

Start saving as soon as you can 

The earlier you start, the more benefits you have. It is true for every investment. You need to start saving as soon as possible because each penny saved will add significantly to your retirement savings pool. Moreover, the power of compounding will start working to boost your savings exponentially with the passage of time.

Remember that around 30 percent of working adults say they have no savings for retirement funds. But this number declines as they move towards their retirement age. The cue here is to get started whenever you think it is feasible and not keep delaying your decision. 

Be debt free

A debt at any stage of life can be harsh on savings. It is when you are close to your retirement age. When your savings are scarce, having debt can be a substantial financial strain. The interest burden on the debts can hit your ability to save. As you approach your retirement age, ensure that you do not have any outstanding debts. If any, whether that is vehicle loans, credit cards, private loans, etc., make a special and aggressive effort to pay off the debts before you retire.

Diversify your portfolio

The age-old adage tells us that we should not put all our eggs in one basket. It holds for saving for retirement as well. You should not put all your savings into one account. Having only one form of investment increases the risk of losing all your savings in an emergency. It is advised that you invest in a diversified portfolio.

Asset allocation plays a crucial role while planning your retirement. You should also have some liquid cash handy when you need it. You should consider your risk tolerance and years in retirement before finalizing an investment.

Consider potential retirement costs

Life after retirement can be full of surprises – there could be runaway inflation and high gas prices, for instance. You may have to incur costs that you may not have planned for. As a result, it is always better to keep a certain buffer amount to cover your expenses. You should also consider the potential expenses in old age, including dental and other medical costs, long-term care charges, income tax, etc. Proper financial planning allows you the freedom to lead a peaceful post-retirement life.

Plan your expenses

It is good to reassess your financial profile and savings and make adjustments if required. Consider downsizing or relocating to a city with a lower cost of living. For instance, while traveling the world can be an enrapturing idea post-retirement, going on vacation during the off-season can save you a significant amount of money.

Keep earning during retirement

A report by Provision Living states that more than 20% of the retired population continues to work – probably even more so when the cost of goods are so high. It adds that it is not due to a shortage of money but because they enjoy their work. Post-retirement, you can take up work you always wanted to take up. It can be either a part-time or full-time job as per your preference.

Retirement time is a golden opportunity to leverage the skills, talents, or hobbies you have always wanted to try out. It can be anything ranging from teaching music to church work on Sundays. In addition to having a purposeful time, it will also add up to your savings.

Work with a financial planner

You can always benefit from expert advice. Financial planners are aware of the unique challenges that retirees face. They can chalk out your investments and expenses and suggest ways to optimize them. Also, if you are not experienced in financial planning, you can always consider working with professionals. They can guide you in choosing your retirement plans customized to your needs.

4 Financial Milestones You Must Accomplish by Age 30

Financial Milestones

A popular perception amongst millennials is that they stand a fair chance of becoming millionaires at some point in their lives. The American dream is still alive even despite the problems this country is facing now. Most believe that they will retire by the time they reach the age of 60 or thereabouts. However, for accomplishing these ambitious and admittedly optimistic goals, it is crucial that you first attain specific financial milestones grounded in reality.

In this post, we will discuss 4 realistic milestones that you need to accomplish by the time you reach the age of 30, so that you are set for a strong and growth-oriented financial future. 

Goal 1: Strengthen Your Skill Set

Compared to all the other goals, you might find this one the most enjoyable. Your 20s are meant to invest in yourself, whether that involves saving up for further education, traveling or experiencing the myriad facets of life. You have fewer commitments at this stage and can easily pursue activities that interest you the most.

Start by listing your goals, whether you are considering a trip to an exotic destination, attending an upcoming music festival, or gaining admission to a top university. With that done, you need to start saving. The importance of developing the discipline to keep some money aside from each paycheck that you receive cannot be emphasized enough. Living within your means is critically important.

You might even consider an arrangement in which your savings are directly taken out of your paycheck, which deters you from overspending. Whenever you receive a raise, increase the amount of your savings until you reach a point where about 15% of your income is kept away for your financial security. 

Goal 2: Keep Your Debt Under Control

On an average, personal debt has scaled new heights in recent times. More than 50% of Americans admit that debt reduction is a top financial priority for them today. 

Interestingly, a study found that there was a much higher probability of people accumulating from $5,000 to $25,000 as debt rather than personal savings. This can be because of college loans which can be paid off with dedication. 

Considering all this, it is vital to start early in managing your debt, whether it is for car loans, student loans or credit card debt. Keeping your debt under control gives you a better grip on life and helps you focus on achieving greater success in every aspect of your life and career.

Goal 3: Begin Saving For Your Retirement

Even if you aren’t able to do anything else before reaching the age of 30, this one counts as one of the key goals. Don’t fall short of contributing enough to your employer’s 403(b) or 401(k) for maximizing the employer match. 

While 66% of millennials are engaged in jobs that include a retirement plan, just 55% of them (in contrast to 80% of Boomers) are qualified for participating in an employer’s plan, a study has found. Workers may fail to be eligible for such a plan due to not having been employed long enough or not working enough hours to be able to qualify.

Taking advantage of your employer’s plan makes for good financial sense. When you’re in your golden years of life, these efforts at frugality will stand you in good stead. The earlier you begin saving, the longer your money will compound, resulting in a comfortable retirement saving. 

Goal 4: Acquire the Knowledge and Habit of Investing

You’ll get an idea of the power of investing when you open your first employer-sponsored savings plan like 401(k). However, there are other opportunities available to invest as well for those in their 20s and 30s. 

Although it may be somewhat premature to start consulting with a financial advisor, there are quite a few robo-advisors that specifically focus on millennials with less demanding fees and minimums. For a small monthly fee, you can start investing in good retirement products through reliable investment apps. 

These apps and robo-advisors can help you open an IRA and select a low-cost portfolio for you in accordance with your risk appetite and investment goals. You can begin investing with very small amounts in a Traditional IRA, Roth IRA or SEP IRA. 

Another option for low cost investing is the Robinhood platform – which has a mobile as well as web app. Robinhood allows you to trade in stocks for free and offers a Gold service as well, which comes for a small monthly fee. Robinhood has also launched Robinhood Crypto, which allows users to trade in Bitcoin and other virtual currencies – for which no commission is charged.

7 Strategies to Clean Up Your Finances in The New Year

Your Finances

The year is almost gone and whew, what a year it has been! Like most people, you’ve probably also been a busy bee – saving, spending, collecting rewards points, paying off bills, and dealing with inflation and high gas prices – problems we have not had since the late 1970s. So, with the New Year just around the corner, now is a great time to de-clutter your finances and start taking steps towards a better financial future.

In this post, we have compiled a list of 7 strategies you can implement today to clean up your paperwork and accounts and make the most of your money. 

Make Retirement Planning A Priority

When it comes to getting your finances in order, most people tend to neglect their retirement planning especially if they are in their 20s or 30s. It is crucial, however, to remember that the sooner you start saving for your golden years, the more moolah you’ll have, thanks to the miraculous phenomenon known as compound interest. 

Calculate how much money you’ll need to save for a comfortable retirement, then create a realistic plan to put away the necessary amount each month. Better yet, automate the retirement savings transfer so you won’t even have to think about it. 

Sort Through All the Paperwork

This is also an excellent time to get your financial documents organized and filed properly, so they will easy to access when you need them during the tax season. If you don’t have enough space to organize all of the paperwork, you can scan the documents like expense reports and receipts, and store them digitally. Please make sure that you create backups of those digital files, in case your computer/hard drive crashes.

Clear Out the Debt

If you have a high amount of debt or high-interest rates, create a plan to pay it all off as soon as you can. You can start with debt with the highest interest, and then start applying more each month to it until you are in the clear.

This may sound like easier said than done but with a good plan, it’s very much possible. Find a way to double down on your payments – this can mean reducing your expenses, asking for a promotion at work, or starting a side hustle or taking another, part-time job. Working is good, it’s healthy, and all the facts indicate this.

Save For A Rainy Day

The last couple of years have shown us that life is unpredictable and you never know when you might need to face a financial difficulty. Make sure you are always prepared for such a situation without having to fall behind on your mortgage/rent payments or take on more debt. Your goal should be to have at least 3 to 6 months of expenses saved up. Calculate an amount that you can set aside each month and automate that deduction. 

Check Your Credit Report

A sunny credit score is that Holy Grail that can allow you to borrow money when you need it and get it lower interest rates. Take a thorough look at your full, yearly credit report to check if it has any errors. According to Federal Trade Commission, 5% of people have major errors on their credit report that can lead to loan application rejection, and 25% of people have some sort of minor errors. 

Evaluate Your Monthly Budget

Take a good look at your spending habits of the last few months and make note of your spending habits. Have you been spending too much money for one category (say, dining out) and not enough for another (say, saving)? Where can you cut back?

If you want to save more or reduce your expenses in one area, create a realistic plan to make it happen. For example, use only cash for all of your spending needs; no checks, debit, or credit cards are allowed. And when you are planning for a vacation or a birthday party, come up with a budget for it and plan ahead, so you don’t overspend.

Evaluate Your W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Certificate)

Look at your W-4; you may want to withhold less taxes. If you generally receive a tax refund, it’s wise to consider having less tax withheld. Think about it – this money has been essentially handled by the government all year long when you could have invested it or used it to launch a business or added it to your emergency fund. 

Use the IRS Tax Withholding Calculator to see if you can claim more allowances and have more money with each paycheck to save for emergencies. However, be careful, if you fail to withhold enough money, you will owe to the IRS which is never a perspicacious idea.

Investing With Little Money: 5 Ways to Get Started

Investing with little money

Wondering if you can start investing with little money?


You don’t need to be a millionaire to reap big investment rewards. Even with little savings, you can try various ways to grow your money.   

We have prepared this guide to help you start investing as a beginner.

5 Ways to Start Investing with Little Money 

Follow the tips below to become a smart investor.

1. Save Money Using the Cookie Jar Approach

To begin investing, you need to save some money. Start by stashing $10 to $15 away in a cookie jar every week. Alternatively, you can put your savings in an online savings account.

You may increase this amount as you get into the habit of saving money so that you can move it into an investment vehicle ASAP.       

2. Get Help from a Robo Advisor

Robo advisors can take the guesswork out of investing. They ask some questions to determine your goals, risk tolerance, and expectations to help you create a low-cost portfolio of bonds and stocks. They also use smart rebalancing techniques to optimize your portfolio for taxes.   

Robo advisors usually charge an annual fee of up to $500 to start investing with little money. In return, they offer automated investment plans to increase your balance.   

3. Enter the Stock Market

Today, you can start investing in the stock market with just a dollar without having to pay trade commissions. You should consider investing in companies with partial shares, as it allows you to diversify your portfolio while saving money.

4. Put Your Money in Mutual Funds

Investing in low-initial-investment mutual funds is an excellent idea if you want to start small. Companies usually require you to automate the monthly payments between $50 and $100. You can do this through payroll savings. Discuss how to set it up with your human resources department.  

5. Enroll in Employer’s Retirement Plan

If you’re on a tight budget, you can invest 1% of your monthly income into your employer’s retirement plan. See if the company offers a matching contribution.  

These are only a few ways you can start investing with little money. The key is to just start somewhere. No matter how tight your budget is right now, it’ll get easier with time and you’ll be happy you took the leap.  

How to Take Care of Your Finances during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

How to take care of your finances

How different does your financial situation look from before COVID-19?

Many people experienced a drop in income, were furloughed, or lost their jobs when the pandemic hit. Whatever your situation, you may be concerned about your future and how to take care of your finances as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.  

4 Tips for Managing Your Finances

Here are a few ways you can help yourself financially during these unprecedented times.  

1. Stay Informed

In times when the global economy is struggling, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date on financial and economic news. You can subscribe to newsletters sharing the latest updates. Most importantly, you must protect yourself against scams. Keep your financial information private and ensure the security of your accounts.    

2. Adjust Your Financial Plans

Sit down with your family and discuss your financial outlook, highlighting any significant changes that may be necessary. This is especially important if a family member has lost their job at the hands of the pandemic. You may have to make some changes in your financial habits and plans accordingly.

3. Revise Your Budget

You should also assess how the pandemic has affected your finances and revise your budget. While some costs like transportation, dining out, and fitness classes, may have dropped, others like groceries, online services, and food delivery may have gone up. Make sure the new budget reflects these changes.  

4. Save for Emergencies

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that life is uncertain. So, you should prepare for the unexpected as much as you can. This is a good time to start an emergency fund if you don’t have one already. This will keep unplanned expenses from messing up your budget.   

These tips on how to take care of your finances during the COVID-19 pandemic will help you maintain financial stability in the long run. Just make sure you save and invest as much as possible and minimize financial risk.

Four Mistakes That Can Weaken Your Financial Security

financial security

Earning money requires skill and hard work, but saving a part of it and investing it wisely requires financial discipline and a long-term commitment to building a secure future for yourself and your loved ones. In this article, let us look at four mistakes that could lead to economic hardships in the future and weaken your financial security.

Don’t spend the money that you can invest

It is one of the most common mistakes and it also is among the most important money lessons. The reality is that you cannot take advantage of a thriving economy by consuming more and investing little. Spending provides instant gratification, but investments will make you wealthy.

Many of us have a spending problem. If you want to grow your wealth, you need to invest prudently in stocks, mutual funds, property or other growth or income generating assets. If you had done that since the economic recession in 2008 caused by Barney Frank and Alan Greenspan, you would have seen significant profits.

All you need to do is start by setting 10-20% of your income aside every month. Let it build up through your retirement saving accounts, or you can directly invest in the markets. Also, if you are unsure about investing and planning by yourself, it will be best to hire a financial planner.

Refrain from purchasing new things all the time

It is more than enough if you can call anybody from your cell phone, watch movies, text people, and click pictures. Similarly, if your car is in good condition, it is all that matters. In the end, it all comes down to choosing utility over luxury. You need not have the best phone or car for that, especially when you cannot afford it.

Here is where most financial problems arise. Many people try to live like they make $75,000 a year, when they are actually making only $50,000 a year. Maybe their car is fancy, or perhaps their house is too spacious for their needs. You can avoid such problems and secure your future by practicing minimalism when it comes to luxury.

You can cut down a lot by refraining from buying the latest model of everything. There is no need to buy the latest phone on the market, when your old phone is working fine. Unless you have a large disposable income and major financial assets, there is no necessity to buy a high-end car. All these are depreciating assets. They will lose value over time, and they won’t benefit you in the long run.

Don’t try becoming rich quickly

There is no problem in making quick money, but there are various problems that can occur after you have made a quick buck. Have you heard of the phrase, “Easy come and easy go?” Wealth building is a long-term, sustainable process. Although it might feel great to dream of getting rich overnight, but it rarely happens in real life through legitimate means.

Almost all of the millionaires have waited for it and gone through the slow process. Remember the famous proverb that says, “Wealth grown hastily will dwindle fast.” It makes a lot of sense, and many of those who have faced these problems early in life can relate to them very well.

Don’t go to fancy colleges

Some of us might have been the toppers of our class or have an excellent academic record throughout. So, what’s wrong with going to the most expensive colleges? As of 2020, the total student debt amount in the US is a whopping $1.56 trillion. Many graduates end up struggling and try to come up with new ways to deal with their unpaid loans.

One of the reasons this is the case is because they chose a degree that does not mean much in the real world – something to think about. Spending big bucks on a degree that does not prepare you for what this country needs is not a smart way to go. For instance, some people spend $150,000 or more and end up being a waitress because their political science degree does not do anything for them.

Therefore, it may make sense is to complete your education without taking a huge student loan. Going to a renowned college is not the only good thing that can happen to you. If you cannot afford it, there is no point in setting yourself up for a debt trap by choosing an expensive college – certainly when you have to think about inflation, higher taxes, higher energy costs because of new policies. All of this can impact your quality of life.

The final word

When you adopt a conservative approach to build your financial security, you will emerge a surefire winner in the long run. Keep these four common mistakes in mind and steer clear of them in order to enjoy a successful, growth-oriented career, whether in a job or as an entrepreneur.

5 Financial Tips for College Students

Financial tips for college students

Ready to embark upon your college life?

It’s time to learn some surefire financial tips for college students that will serve you well when you enter a new phase of adulthood and independence.   

College is a time of exploration, freedom, and growth. One of the most important things you can learn during this time is how to spend money wisely.

Top 5 Financial Tips for College Students

Here’s how you can lay the foundation for a financially prosperous future.

1. Start Building Credit

Your credit score will be one of the most important things in your life after graduation. If you end up with a bad credit score, it’ll be difficult for you to get a lot of things in life, including a job and housing. Moreover, loan companies may ask you to pay more or deny your request altogether if you have a bad credit score.   

Hence, you must start building credit in college. Get yourself a credit card or become an authorized user of your parents’ card. The earlier you get yourself in the game, the better.  

2. Avoid Credit Card Debt

It’s not uncommon for college students to graduate with student loan debt. In 2021, it has topped $1.7 trillion!

Unfortunately, it may be difficult to avoid student loan debt if you want to go to a good college. However, credit card debt is a different thing. You can easily stay away from that.

Considering the high interest rates, credit card debt can hold you back financially for years!

So, make sure you spend less than you earn in your college days so you can easily pay off your monthly credit card bill.

3. Follow a Budget

Budgeting is a critical skill that will come in handy all your life. To create a budget, you should calculate the amount of money that comes in every month and then estimate your expenses. It’s best to create different categories for your spending.

As the month progresses, track how well you’re following the budget. Any money that’s left at the end of the month can go into savings.

4. Savings, Savings, Savings

The uncertainty of life calls for savings or an emergency fund for rainy days. When you’re in college, these emergencies will be minor. However, your savings will prevent these extra charges from going on your credit card. This will help you maintain your position of financial safety.  

5. Learn How to Invest

While saving money in your college days makes you worthy of a pat on your back, you should learn how to invest it in order to grow wealth.

If you have a job, you should consider getting Roth IRAs. These tax-free retirement accounts take post-tax money. While it’s great to explore more options, try to leave anything complex for after graduation.  

These simple financial tips for college students will ensure you enjoy your college days without having to worry about money. The best thing is that these habits will make your life after graduation easier too!

Annuity vs. Mutual Fund: Which Makes More Sense For Retirees?

investment options

Two of the most prevalent investment options for retirees are mutual funds and annuities. Like all financial and investment products, investing in either of these options comes with a set of benefits and drawbacks.

Let us discuss in detail and try to find out which one of these two investment options makes sense for you if you are about to retire.

What is an Annuity?

In an annuity, you can invest an amount of money, as a lump-sum payment or in parts, as a part of a contract between you and your insurance company. In return, you can choose to receive guaranteed proceeds either for a fixed tenure or for as long as you live. Whether the payments start immediately or after a fixed period, depends on the terms and conditions of the annuity you invest in.

Based on the likely rate of return, annuities broadly fall into two types of categories, namely, fixed annuities and variable annuities.

Fixed Annuity

A fixed annuity, true to its name, provides an assured return for the tenure of the contract. The insurance company guarantees reimbursement in advance, regardless of the market performance.

Variable Annuity

The variable annuity payouts are neither fixed nor assured. They may increase or decrease based on the market performance.

A key advantage of annuities is that investors defer taxes on interest, dividend, or capital gains for the duration of time their money is in the annuity. The taxation, at withdrawal, is only on the capital gains and not on the amount contributed towards the annuity. Also, as their name suggests, the annuities can be annuitized. You can make a guaranteed income stream for a fixed period.

Annuities are basically insurance products and not investment securities and hence the insurance companies provide the guarantees to back them. However, you should keep in mind that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates only the variable annuities and not the fixed ones.

Annuities are a useful means to defer taxes on investments and generate assured regular income in retirement which is even more vital in a rising cost and energy environment because of new policies.

What Is a Mutual Fund?

In a mutual fund, investment companies collect money from investors and invest it on their behalf. The money goes into a mix of investment securities and money market instruments to maximize returns.

You can set up and use a 401(k) account, a brokerage account, or an individual retirement account (IRA) to invest in mutual funds. Investment specialists and money managers run mutual fund portfolios and are responsible to generate the maximum possible returns for their investors consistently.

There are several types of mutual funds, each based on its investment strategy and the nature of securities that it invests in:

  • Equity Funds invest entirely in stocks
  • Index Funds imitate the investment mix of a market index, and their performance is directly linked to that of the index
  • Exchange-Traded Funds trade on stock exchanges
  • Money Market Funds invest in debt instruments
  • Fixed Income Funds invest in bonds
  • Balanced Funds invest in both stocks and bonds
  • Sector Funds invest in a particular sector
  • Global Funds invest in overseas markets

Annuity or Mutual Fund: Factors to Consider Before Investing

Here is a comparison that may help you choose between the two types of investments:


If you do not foresee having a steady income post-retirement, a fixed annuity may be the best option for you. In a fixed annuity, the insurance company guarantees to pay you a particular amount until the end of your contract period. Variable annuities do not guarantee a specific amount, but some may have a minimum rate of return guaranteed by the insurance provider.

With mutual funds, there is no guaranteed income. The rate of returns on the money you invest varies a great deal depending on the market performance.


Annuities have some of the highest associated expenses among the investment products.

Mutual funds, especially index funds, are very low on expenses.


Tax on any income from annuities is deferred until the time of withdrawal. On withdrawal, only the capital gains are taxable.

In mutual funds, you are liable to pay taxes on dividends and capital gains. However, if you invest through an individual retirement account (IRA) or a 401(k) account, you are liable to pay tax only at the time of withdrawal.

Return on Investments

Mutual funds may offer variable returns based on market performance, while annuities offer assured returns. On the other hand, there are many charges and fees associated with the annuities, which, when deducted from your gains, tend to make the returns on investment much lower. 


With mutual funds there is no lock-in period, making it easier for you to sell and exit anytime you wish. 

With annuities, however, there can be a lock-in period, as long as 10 years sometimes. Any early withdrawal can attract high surrender charges which hurts even more in a slow growth or no growth economy.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for absolute safety, annuities are the best option for you. But if you do not mind some added risk with the potential to earn higher returns, you should invest in mutual funds. 

Personal Finance Tips to Follow When You Get Your First Job

Personal Finance Tips

Congratulations! You have landed your first job. It is an exciting time full of new experiences and challenges. Even as you are going about your responsibilities in the new job, you are probably looking forward to your first paycheck and have already begun a list of things you want to buy.

This is the right time to exercise some caution and have a concrete financial plan in place which is vital in a rising cost and tax environment because of new policy. Developing sound financial habits from your first job will stand you in good stead as you grow your career. Here are a few tips on how to manage your money right from the first paycheck.

Write down your financial goals

It’s critical to write them down as that will bring you greater clarity. Make a note of both short and long term goals. It is all right if your goals change at some point or when you have met one of your short term goals. You are doing this to help you plan your budget and to know how much to save and how much to spend.

Make a budget

You know what your income is and you know your priorities. Some expenses are unavoidable. Set aside a portion of your income to meet those expenses. With the leftover money, you can exercise a greater level of control and where it goes. Remember, you have a goal. Put aside another portion of your income towards that goal.

Keep track of your accounts

You may want to do it once a month or bi-weekly. It will keep you on track with your spending without running short at the end of the month. Keeping your checking accounts balanced will also ensure that there have been no unauthorized debiting of funds. 

Start saving

It is never too early to start saving. Set up a retirement fund from your first job. If you are only able to set aside a small portion of your income towards a 401K offered by your employer or any other available retirement funds, it is still alright. Ideally, you should plan to invest 15% of your income to this fund but you may want to consider investing more with higher energy prices and other costs that are rising in this new environment. 

Shop wisely

If you must shop, shop wisely. Make a list of things you need and stick to the list instead of getting tempted into impulsive buying. It will help if you make a separate list of things you want to buy and mull over the items for a day or two. You may realize that you can do without some of them, or at least prioritize your shopping list between the things you need and the things you want. 

Find the best deals

Scouring the various deals online would give you an opportunity to compare prices and choose the best deal. This is a smart habit to cultivate. There are plenty of deals on every item in the market from clothes to household articles. You will save quite a bit of money by doing your research before shopping. 

Irregular expenses

If you have a desire to travel, you may choose to set up a holiday fund and start adding to it with each paycheck. You will enjoy the trip more when you know that you are not dipping into your funds set aside for necessities and other savings.  

Incidental expenses

It is always best to be prepared for the odd incidental expenses that may come up. It could be as small as your phone bills or tips to porters. Or, it could be the odd repair work that needs attention. Keeping such expenses in mind will ensure that you do not sway from your original budget.

Watch your credit report

You do not want to be caught unawares when you are building your credit history. It is essential that you keep an eye on the credit report regularly as it will help ensure that you are not slipping to a lower rating because of some oversight in settling your bills. 

Monitor your progress

Every couple of months, you could study your accounts and compare the expenses incurred. It will give you a better idea as to your spending and saving. You can also plan for an improved lifestyle as you grow in your career and your income increases. 

The bottom line

Armed with these tips, you can feel secure and in control of your finances. No one can have a better idea of your needs and wants. Stay focused on growing your wealth as your income grows while you progress in your career.