Want to Pay Less for Your Cell Phone Plan? Here’s How

It seems like you can’t get away from having a smartphone these days. Everything you do, everything you come across, there’s an app for that. It’s our encyclopedia, email, camera, calculator, and social connection all wrapped into one. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time and we’re always on it.

And is it just me or does it seem like your cell phone bill steadily continues to get higher and higher each month? My last bill was over $125 – and that’s only for one phone line. That’s crazy considering it was only $95 a few 6 months ago when I got it!

I’ve been searching for a cheaper plan that still has everything I need for a while now and to be honest, most aren’t all that great. But, I just came across a company called SurgePhone that is offering one month free, and then only $20/month after that. And this is for an unlimited plan!

Crazy, right? Here’s what I found…

SurgePhone – How Does it work?
SurgePhone is a prepaid wireless service – you sign up and select your plan online. They send you a SIM card, you insert the SIM card into your existing device, activate and VOILA! Their service uses one of the major carriers’ wireless tower networks throughout the United States. This means you’re getting the same service as you are when paying nearly 6 times the rate with one of the major carriers. And I haven’t been able to find a negative review of the company anywhere!

They’re currently offering their unlimited wireless service starter kit for only $2.99, no contracts, no hidden fees, no surprises. Here’s what you get:

  • SIM Card: micro & nano sizes
  • Unlimited text
  • 2GB of 4G LTE data per month
  • 25 hours of talk
  • 1st month free!

After your first free month, you pay only $20/month (originally $59!).

Existing Device? So I Don’t Have To Buy a New Phone?
Already have a phone you love? If you have an unlocked LTE-compatible phone already, that can be used at any major mobile carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or any other GSM carrier) – and it accepts SIM cards, then you can use it at SurgePhone! Gone are the days of paying $900 outright, or even $50/month for a new phone. Use the phone you already have and put that extra money back in your pocket!

If you don’t have an unlocked compatible phone, or you simply just want a new one, no problem – you can buy one directly from them!

Should I Make the Switch?
Well that’s up to you, but this is a great alternative to the current carriers that we see in the cell phone space right now, and a great way to save some cold hard cash. At the end of the day, SurgePhone could save you money on your cell phone bill – over $1200/year! That’s money that can go directly into your savings account.

If you’re thinking about making the switch, check out the special $2.99 and one month free offer on the unlimited starter kit here.

Act fast! Offer expires 9/30/18.


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Seven Habits of Highly Effective Savers

Everyone likes to spend, but when it comes to saving, not everyone is good at it. Americans are among the world’s worst savers.

From low income to mortgages to student loans to credit card debt, factors like these never let us save enough for emergencies or even for a retirement fund.

But there’s a large number of people who cannot save because of overspending. Maybe they like fine dining a little too much, or cannot live without designer perfumes, or feel conscious about driving anything less than a brand new car (everyone wants to be like the Johnsons!). At the end of the day, they realize there’s not a penny in their savings account. Alan Harper from Two in a Half Men knows all about that!

Some people are smart at saving. It isn’t like they are blessed with superpowers (you will not see them in Deadpool 3!) – they are just careful and efficient with money. If you want to be good at saving money, try following these tips that effective savers live by.

Automate it

Taking out money manually from an account and putting it to savings can often be difficult, because you think there were better things you could do with that money. That is why smart people automate this process.

All you have to do is automate the transfer of a part of your income to a savings account. If you get cash back on your credit card/s, make sure to automatically transfer them into the savings account as well.

By automating your savings, you not only get to grow your savings at a consistent pace, but also never have to feel bad about manually moving money from one account to another.

Pick the right strategy

The right savings strategy isn’t one size fits all. Just like income and expenditure varies from one person to another, the proper way to save is also different. What works for your neighbor may not work for you.

That is why, instead of blindly following someone else’s savings strategy, try to devise a strategy that’s fit for your lifestyle and income.

This involves taking your income and expenditure into consideration and then coming up with a strategy that you will be able to stick to. You may also utilize the help of online tools to come up with the right savings strategy.

Create goals

Effective savers don’t just create strategies; they create goals. When you have a goal for saving money, it brings excitement and joy into the process. Kind of like experiencing tax cuts which all workers know is awesome!

For instance, you may want to save money for buying a new house or your child’s college fund. If you have no goal to work towards, you will quickly lose interest in saving, rendering the whole process ineffective. You don’t want to be a failure like Chicago, Baltimore, Oakland, Greece, and so on. Money does not grow on trees and wasting money on irrational ideas does not make any sense.

Prioritize goals

Creating goals isn’t enough; you must also prioritize your goals. For instance, is taking an international vacation more important that buying a house? Does saving for a retirement fund come first or does saving for your son’s college education? Prioritizing goals will help you reach your financial objectives.

Don’t be like Peter La Fleur in the first half of Dodgeball – organize yourself and focus!

Make the most of your savings

Don’t just let the money sit in the savings account. Invest it wisely to get greater returns. If you don’t know much about investments, take the safer route and invest in notes and bonds backed by the government.

You can also leave some of your money in your savings account and invest some in a trusted, reputed program for some decent monthly or yearly returns.

Slowly reduce expenses

It isn’t necessary to change all habits or reduce all expenses at once. Instead of eating out five times a week, reduce it to two times a week, eventually bringing it down to once a week. By taking it slow, it is possible to cut down on unnecessary expenses and save more.

Stick to a routine

Consistency is key when trying to get better at saving. Making lists of wants and needs, necessary and unnecessary expenses, and slowly cutting down on them is the way to start.

But it will only be effective when you stick to it. Sticking to the routine for six months, and spending freely for the rest of the year isn’t going to get you anywhere. For best results, make a routine that you can follow and stick to it. Don’t be like Norm from Cheers who had no focus in life.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a burden. By following these habits of successful savers, you too can reduce expenses and have your savings account jingling.

Why Millennials are not Buying Homes?

If you were between ages 25 and 34 and had to choose between buying an expensive vacation to a remote island such as Jejudo (or Cabo San Lucas – yes, it is not an island) and a home, what would you choose? In 2018, most people in that age bracket would choose the vacation because a house is too expensive.

And because the house is not going anywhere. There will always be other houses to buy right!?

Not surprisingly, the home ownership rates among millennials have hit an all-time low and keep falling. A mere decade or two ago, buying a home used to be one of the most important things on a to-do list. Young people want to do other things before they buy a home.

Most young people between 25 and 34 are not interested in buying homes. And it isn’t all about affordability. The age range of millennials is when people usually buy their first home, but home ownership in the younger population is at an all-time low in the US. Buying a house isn’t an ambition anymore. Affordable homes are available and people have jobs nowadays!

This has led the market to wonder what the possible reasons could be. Not everyone is lazy like Alan Harper in Two in a Half Men right?

Lifestyle changes

The lifestyle of young people today isn’t what they used to be in 1970. Forty years ago, a woman got married and had children or a child by age 21.

Men went straight to a job after school, and usually lived on in the same town or city they had grown up in (not always though!). Today, the scenario has completely changed. Women often wait until age 30 or later to get married, with their career being their priority. Men focus on higher education, like woman, and hunt for higher paying jobs, delaying getting married and having a family.

Children today don’t leave the nest early or when they should like they used to – they love mom’s cooking! Even if they do, they come back to live with their parents while they build their career and climb the ladder. In fact, it isn’t surprising to find 30-year-olds living at their parent’s home. Sad! But this is pretty rare.

Most millennials don’t have time for relationships either, and no partner means no urge to buy a home or settle down. As long as people live independently, the rate of home ownership will be low in the millennial age group.

Spending on experiences

Millennials don’t save for retirement and don’t invest in stocks. Buying a home is a type of investment, and millennials don’t have the time or the desire for it. Instead, they like to spend money on experiences, such as traveling and keeping up with the latest technology.

Traveling is a major fascination among millennials. Exploring the world, meeting other people, experiencing other cultures, and tasting global cuisine are some of the pleasures that younger folks seek. This is not the attitude Red had in That 70s Show!

Millennials aren’t concerned about the future much; they want to live for the moment and experience life (and some of them want us to pay for their college education! – hilarious!). Is there a new iPhone or Samsung smart phone coming out? Is there a new electric car about to hit the market? Millennials spend on experiences that they can afford, rather than buy something that requires a lot of time and planning.

Paying off loans and debts

Some millennials have a hard time paying off student loans and credit card debts but this is all changing with the new dynamic economy flourishing all around us. There is close to $1.44 trillion in outstanding student loans annually. It does not make sense to spend $100,000 on a humanities degree!

This does affect home buying for some millenials who make the wrong educational and career choices.

Renting is easier

Buying a home requires a certain level of responsibility. From realtors to loans and mortgage to taxes, there is just too much effort needed to buy a home. Renting is far easier, and the rental market has consistently performed well over the years.

It is also much easier to live a mobile life if you are a renter. Until that millennial finds that job they really like, they don’t want to be tied down to one location.

While it’s true that housing costs in the US continue to rise, there is evidence that buying a home isn’t out of reach for millennials. Not with these rising GDP rates and lower taxes!

Despite debt and that down payment, it is not affordability that keeps young people from buying a house. It is the changes in lifestyle that has brought home ownership to record low levels and led to rise in the average stay at home age for millennials. Well, and, perhaps some parents who really are not parenting, they are spoiling their child which does not help anyone in this country but this is another topic.


How to Save Money While Living Payslip to Payslip

What if I told you that you could completely turn your finances around and escape debt in just four simple steps… without living off noodles or getting a second job? Keep reading to see how I did it…

Just a few months ago, I was like so many—I was living payslip to payslip, worried about making rent. It’s such a shame that 62% of Britons are struggling to make ends meet and I was one of them, I was actually worse off than that.

But over the course of a week, I followed these four simple steps and now have over £1,100 in savings, and I didn’t get a second job. I instead focused a few minutes each day (never more than 30) to changing my finances. I’m not here to boast. It is my goal that by sharing my story, I can also help you break the payslip to payslip cycle.

Step #1 – Open a new bank account and make an initial deposit

Why does it have to be a new account? Because having a separate account will allow you to see your positive progress and will motivate you to keep going. Think about when you are working to lose weight; you step on the scale for the first time and see that you’ve lost 5 pounds. You get a rush of motivation to keep doing what you are doing. The same thing applies to your finances.

So open a new savings account, checking account, etc. whatever you prefer. Just make sure it’s one that is harder to withdraw from, and then make your initial deposit. What if you don’t have much to put in there? That’s okay! The amount of the initial deposit does not matter, but getting started does. This amount will grow over time as we go through the next three steps. Trust me!

Step #2 – Create an additional revenue stream of at least £35 each month

Ideally, this new income would not interrupt your daily life at all, so you don’t have to make that sacrifice. How I did it was with InboxPounds

What is InboxPounds? InboxPounds is a site that pays you in cash to answer anonymous surveys and watch videos. This is my favourite survey site because they actually pay you in cash!

They’ve paid out roughly £40,000,000 to date worldwide, so they know what they’re doing. And, the surveys are actually interesting, and you can do them while binge watching your favourite TV show.

Step #3 — Examine your biggest bills

This part will differ for everyone, but I’ll share a couple of my problem spots to help get you started.

1. Credit Card

I like, so many of us, have a lot of credit card debt. When I finally made a payment, I ended up using it again! It was caught up in the never ending cycle.

My solution was to find a loan with a lower interest rate and use that money to pay off all of my credit cards. This allowed me to consolidate all of my debt and pay a 3.79% interest rate instead of 17.89%. The savings are unreal!

Result: I cut my interest payment by £90 per month in just 5 minutes

2. Car insurance

I know this is the last thing you want to look for, but did you know that car insurance companies make most of their money off of people that do not shop around, but continue to renew their existing policy? Think about it – Do you have a clean driving record? Has your premium increased in the last three years? They know it’s a hassle to leave, so they charge whatever premium they want! 10 minutes saved me £552 per year, how much can you save?

Result: I saved £46 per month in just 10 minutes

3. Coffee

Have you thought about how many times you stop for a cup of coffee each week? I had a daily habit of stopping at the coffee shop on my way to work. It got so bad, we eventually made it to a first name basis. That’s when I decided to start making my coffee at home. Yes, learning how to steam your own milk is challenging at first, but i’ve gotten really good at it and i’ve turned it into an art. Maybe you don’t drink coffee every day, but do you have a daily habit that you can rethink?

Result: I saved £112 per month

4. Final saving tip: Always ask them to waive the fee.

You would be shocked at how easy it is to get fees waived. No matter what it is: late fee, parking ticket, utility payment, etc. I had a £50 late fee tacked to my rent when I was paying a day late, but nicely asking them to waive, worked! Remember: the answer is always no unless you ask (nicely!).

Once you’ve analyzed your bills and find out exactly how much you are saving from these new changes, set up an automatic transfer for that amount to your new savings account to make sure this new money actually gets put away.

Step #4 – Keep it up…

If you’ve implemented all of these changes and didn’t spend the extra money in your pocket, you should have saved and earned a total of at least £1,000. £1,000 is great, but what’s better? £5,000. You’re almost there, just keep up the good work!


The quicker you start on these changes, the more money you’ll save this year. I don’t know about you, but stressing about finances was taking a toll on me. I’m not rich and I’m not saying you will be from just these changes, but not living payslip to payslip has relieved my stress levels completely and changed my life… and I know it will change yours. Take the first step to get started today. You won’t regret it!


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Is Retirement a Fading Concept?

It has been for young people but could that change? Despite America becoming great again (low unemployment and growing GDP numbers), people in the 21st century have to keep working to provide for the needs of their own and/or their families.

The retirement age in the beginning was 60. Later, it was increased to 62. Today, even after people officially retire from their jobs, they work from home or take up a part-time gig somewhere to keep some type of money coming in. After all, even after you hit 60, your financial needs don’t disappear.

Has become a facing concept

This makes retirement a fading concept, because no one completely retires in this economy. Many people need and want to keep working and earning money. Because of the ACA law, health care costs have increased – this does not help the situation.

Regardless of the kind of job they do or can do, people who can retire want to remain productive and keep their faculties active. The ease of working online has also opened various ways of making money from home.

The origin of retirement

Back in the day (early 20th century and prior), people worked until they died. There was no retirement (unless your name was Julius Caesar, for instance!). As long as the person was alive, he or she pretty much worked. Farms were where most people worked in those days, and if they were wealthy, they managed an estate. No one sat around at home (or went to some retirement community) because they were old. If you were alive, you worked – that was the norm.

Needless to say, there was no financial plan to support the elderly. There was no concept of retirement either, you had to keep earning. As long as you had to eat, you had to keep paying for yourself and contributing. No one could be a burden on their community and that was easy to do if you did not bring home any bacon.

It was in 1881 that Otto von Bismarck, the conservative minister president of Prussia, first thought of retirement. In other words, it meant financial support from the government for the elderly. The move came about because von Bismarck faced pressure from socialists who wanted him to provide care and support for the people of his country.

These same people believe money grows on trees and never had any problem with taking money from hard workers to spread around to people who did not work that hard. Too bad they did not think of a 401K plan or an IRA!

He proposed financial support and care from the state for those that were disabled from work by age and invalidity. The move did not become official in a day. It took eight long years, but by the end of the decade the German government had a retirement system in place, to provide for citizens over the age of 70. Most people did not live until 70.

America has went down the wrong route. Retirement at age 62 when the average age is 77, for instance. The numbers don’t work. America needs to push the retirement age upward. The average age is no longer 65. The socialist FDR and his terrible New Deal (pushed America back into a depression) never thought of this but this is another topic.

The intuitive aspect here was that 70 was an age that most people never saw since the state new it could not afford to take care of thousands of people. Most people died before the age of 70 while working.

The exceptions in Germany included military pensions that were given to soldiers. From the mid 1800s, the United States also started offering pensions to firefighters, police officers, and teachers, but mostly in the big cities. By the 1920s, a number of industries in the US – such as banking, railroads, and oil – started providing workers with some form of support after they worked so many years.

Millennials and retirement

The newer generation – called the millennials – has nothing saved for retirement. It’s shocking but true that these people don’t intend to retire. A variety of factors are responsible for it. Millennials want to live for the present, rather than plan for retirement. Student loans and mortgages mean the pressure to pay off debt, which leaves less scope for savings. Also – with how much debt the government is in, no really trusts the system.

Even without loans to pay off, saving for retirement is not a priority for most millennials because there other things that come first – buying a house, traveling, raising a family. Retirement is usually so far away that no one wants to prioritize for it.

Not thinking long term

Some people just plan on continuing to work. Even though they can invest in a retirement account, they don’t, because they don’t want to look that far into the future. Too bad the makers of Meet the Parents III, Kill Bill, Thor III, and The Force Awakens did not look into the future and realize how sad their movie was about to be but this is another topic.

It is sad that the system inspires no confidence. We need social security reform. To harken back to those positive aspects that were mentioned right in the beginning….with a rising economy and more jobs available people can actually think about retirement again. Just think how good things can get when Obamacare goes away which is still restraining the economy!

6 Warning Signs of Financial Infidelity

Managing finances together is one of the biggest responsibilities that come with marriage. As uncomfortable as it is, discussing money, being open about financial goals, and saving up together are as important in a marriage as sharing chores, buying a home, and raising a family.

You might think keeping financial secrets from your spouse is no big deal, but beware, it has a name now. It’s called financial infidelity.

Yes, infidelity isn’t just sexual in nature anymore (despite that season 2 CSI Miami episode about that business that entraps men into seeing if they are sexually/physically loyal to their wife). If you hide your credit card debt from your wife or start moving your own money to a different account surreptitiously, you are committing financial infidelity and it is bad as cheating on your partner.

Now if you are married to someone like Lisa Bloom, Lois Lerner, or Lisa Page then perhaps this is warranted since anyone who makes those types of mistakes and has that type of character should not be trusted.

Accountants can help you find out if something is amiss, but there are things you can do on your own and save from that type of expense. Here are 6 warning signs that your partner is committing financial infidelity.

New accounts

If you usually know of your partner’s spending habits, credit card statements, and bank account details, then the opening of new accounts all of a sudden without your knowledge is a cause for concern.

This is typically done to move small amounts of money from the existing accounts to the new account. If you notice money is being moved away surreptitiously from the existing accounts, check if any new account has been opened. If yes, you should question your spouse.

Changes in spending habits

When you know your partner’s salary and how much money both of you jointly brings in each month, you will also be aware of exactly how much is expected from your spouse.

Changes in deposits and withdrawals should draw your attention, especially if you know nothing about it. If your spouse is honest about finances, you will usually know the reason behind the changes in the spending patterns. If you don’t know, you have every right to seek an explanation before things escalate.

You don’t want your hard earned money going down the drain on some online poker site, for instance!


Although gambling is hard to detect, it isn’t entirely impossible. Those who gamble, do not take losses well (just watch the subpar movie Wild Card to know all about that or The Sopranos – Tony Soprano’s old high school friend, David Scatino, ruined himself as an adult when it came to gambling). To make up for losses, they keep returning to the casino in hopes of winning.

If you suspect your spouse is gambling, you can ask the casino for records to be sure of the amount that’s being spent gambling. When you notice that your spouse makes frequent withdrawals from a casino ATM, but neither wins nor loses anything, you can seek an explanation for what happened to that money.

Purchasing art and other valuable items

It is easy to track the money there is in a bank account, but not many people would notice art, antiques, and other valuables items that a person possesses.

Sudden purchases of expensive items like paintings, watches, or jewelry is an indication that the person is trying to hide assets. These items are immensely valuable, don’t have titles, and can be easily sold off. Besides, they don’t raise suspicion, and can be used to evade taxes too.

You can watch the average action movie The Accountant to see how fine art can be used as currency!

Excessive shopping

As one half of a couple, you are supposed to know what your spouse spends their money on. If you know their credit card statements, you will notice when they start shopping excessively. If your spouse has credit cards you are not aware of, it will require some extra effort to find out what is happening.

You have the right to know the reason behind the sudden excessive shopping. Reviewing each other’s credit scores once a year is a good way to make sure you aren’t hiding anything from each other.

Handing documents to sign

When you sign a document jointly with your spouse, it holds a lot of value. Without your signature, there are plenty of things your spouse cannot accomplish. That’s the reason why you should be suspicious when your spouse gives you something to sign without explaining what it is. Never sign something without knowing what’s in it. If your spouse refuses to offer an explanation, you should not sign it.

The only way to make sure your spouse is not hiding anything about their finances is to make a point to talk about it often. Money is the last thing people want to discuss, but the more couples talk about it, the less likely someone will be dishonest. The last thing you would want for your marriage is a divorce resulting from financial infidelity.

Ideally you should know someone’s money habits and philosophy before you are married. But even then financial honesty for the years after marriage are vital.

How Millennials Prefer to Invest Their Money

Millennials – or Generation Y, the people born between 1982 and 2002 – have money habits vastly different from the previous generation.

Several studies have found that although millennials are more planning-oriented, the things they prioritize are not what the Generation X gave importance to. While the previous generation found family planning and retirement saving more important, millennials prioritize concepts such as buying a home or cars, vacations, weddings, and higher education.

A major money trend among younger millennials – those between the age of 18 and 25 – is the lack of investment initiative they tend to be seeking or considering. They are not Peter Lynch or Steve Forbes! Hopefully they are not Colin Kaepernick either – that would not be impressive! If you think you are mistreated in America you should consider leaving this country and then you can find out what real mistreatment is.

No one is mistreated in this country, if anything, certain groups are coddled which really does not help those students (just watch the 4th season of The Wire – you cannot learn in that system – certainly when there are not any standards) out but inner city schools and those teacher unions do not care about that though this is another topic.

Weak job growth

Moreover, according to investment information website Bankrate, only one out of three millennials invest in stocks, bonds, or retirement funds. Young millennials tend to blame this one two factors: not understanding- and thus being afraid of stocks, and not having enough money for investment. That latter is true. Dodd/Frank has crushed small businesses and the ACA health care law has limited job growth and opportunities. So this is going to affect incomes of this economic group.

Young people are also more cautious than previous generations which is another reason they are not investing that much, and do not easily trust stock brokers or advisors. The fear of risk and not enough understanding of the market keep millennials away from investments. Well, Alan Greenspan and Barney Frank did not help here that much at all.

Having said that, it must also be noted that millennials tend to save more than their parents did, and have been found to be more prepared for financial emergencies. While the average millennial saves more than five percent of their income per year, some even save more than 10 percent, which is a huge improvement from Generation X and other age groups.

Being too safe

Since millennials tend to be more cautious than previous generations, they avoid risky investment options like stocks, and choose less volatile options such as cash. In other words, instead of putting their money where they can quickly lose it, they prefer to keep money in their bank accounts. Financial experts call this ‘bad news’ because millennials have the maximum retirement saving burden, and without investing in stocks and other similar options, it is hard to build up enough wealth.

But cash as a mode of investment is preferred not just by young millennials, but by most Americans too. Real estate is the second most favored investment option among millennials, while stocks feature at number three. The fear and uncertainty around stocks, especially after the Frank/Greenspan financial meltdown of 2008, has resulted in this widespread mindset.

It is also true that millennials in their 20s and 30s do not have enough money left over for investing after paying bills, loans, and other debts. A large section of millennials also prefer to spend now rather than save for the future.

Since young millennials are also more digitally inclined, they prefer information from the Internet over a financial advisor. This is not good since Facebook is known for putting out fake news, for example. In addition, this goes on to show that being able to manage their investments online is one of the key elements they look for when choosing an investment company. The second major element in choosing a company is low fees. This is a marked difference from how their parents chose an investment company, and it was definitely not by prioritizing them based on what they found out on the Net (there was no Net!).

Different outlooks

Another group of experts choose to differ. They claim, that because older generations were conservative in their spending and preferred to buy everything via a loan, they ended up spending a good part of their lives paying off debts. Millennials, on the other hand, prefer to buy whatever they want, whether they can afford it or not. This hurts their chances of qualifying for a loan. Millennials are also not really thinking long term like their parents did either.

It goes without saying that millennials are ambitious, and like to strategize their financial circumstances. Unlike the previous generations that were afraid of the future and preferred to save instead of spend, millennials usually get what they set their heart on, and are not lazy or shy to take up a second or third job to make some extra cash for something they desire (certainly when having a large family is not vital to you). Well, when full time jobs are hard to come by because of the ACA health care law and other regulations, this is only sensible.

Millennials choose to live life to the fullest by spending on ‘experiences’ rather than material possessions. This includes vacations, music festivals, good food, and the like.

It is also true that millennials have a long time ahead to grow their wealth, and with new technologies always coming to the forefront, the financial future of millennials may not be as bleak as some old school experts make it seem.

What The Banks Don’t Want You To Know: Secret Financial Tricks Of Higher Finance

All of us are aware of the fact that banks and customers share a mutual relationship with one another. Just the way we need banks so does the bank need us.

But the problem is even if we think that our banks are looking out for us, they are not as transparent as we think them to be – we all remember those infamous words regarding the ACA health care law when we were told we could keep our doctor and we know how that turned out – that is not being transparent. Banks do not have a golden record here either.

In fact, there are numerous aspects of banking that is neither much known nor advertised and most customers are not aware of these banking secrets. Not even the NSA knows these secrets and they are supposedly everywhere right?

You will not always get the rate that is advertised

You might be feel that banks are offering a stellar rate but the truth is that not all customers get the rate that has been advertised. In fact, only a small percentage of customers are offered a low rate and the others are offered a higher rate of interest so that they can compensate for the low rate that was offered to certain other customers.

Banks make more money the more you swipe your card

Did you know every time you swipe your credit or debit card the bank is making money by charging the merchant some fees? There are promotional credit cards which will require you to spend a certain amount of money within a particular time frame so that you are eligible for a financial reward. You do not want to get a card like this. Why deal with it? Just stick with a debit card and watch the impulse buying.

Another aspect of using your credit card is that banks know for sure if the amount is around $1,000 or more you may not be able to pay off that purchase at that time. The result is that you will end up accruing some interest which in turn is a way for the bank to make more money.

This is another reason you want to pay in cash for most items. A car or a home is an exception (but if you buy a car with cash that is the way to go) but you certainly do not want to borrow money to pay for a flat screen, furniture, or some appliance unless it is an emergency. But this is not an ideal way to do things. You do not want to be paying more for items and you will be paying more if you do not pay in cash and buy the item you want outright.

If you cannot buy that item outright then wait until you can.

A closed checking account can be a salient and clever way for your bank to make some extra money

When you close a checking account you might feel that it is over. But that is not the case. It may so happen that you forget to switch over your auto-pay transactions. The result is that the closed account is charged anyway. The result is not at all pleasant because there are instances where customers end up paying heavy penalties, fees, and some of the cases are even turned over to collection agencies.

Banks have a tendency to make deposits last which many customers may not be aware of

For example, if you ever schedule a few payments (or one large payment) to go out on the same day you expect some money to come into your account to cover this expenditure your bank may do something that is slightly unethical. The bank will actually issue those payments before the money is deposited into your account. The result is you end up using the overdraft feature of the bank which in turn allows your bank to charge you overdraft fees.

Banks make money by selling insurance

When banks try to sell insurance to customers in lieu of some credit you take from them, it is actually a way to extract more money out of you. This is because if you go through the fine print of those insurance policies you will realize that it will not cover all the debt that you owe. Something you need to think about!

Lastly, we should consider what Bill Gates (who has had some positive discussions with Trump in 2017 but this is another subject) once said, “Banking is necessary; banks are not.”

5 Reasons You Need a CPA for Accounting and Filing Taxes

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, or a working professional, you may not realize that a lot of your time goes into managing your money. Keeping track of your income and expenses, filing taxes, recording tax returns, and other financial issues are a regular part of any job or business.

Various studies have found that most entrepreneurial enterprises and small business do not survive beyond five years and health care laws like the ACA do not help, ridiculous rules imposed by the thuggish EPA are terrible, high taxes, Dodd/Frank is another salient threat, and so on are certainly viable reasons why many business do not make it. While the reasons for closure can be many (and some strong reasons were just mentioned), a lack of suitable financial management happens to be one of the major reasons.

A certified personal accountant (CPA) is the solution to this aspect of having a business. A personal accountant makes sure your financial data is correct and updated at all times, helping you focus on your business, marketing, development, and/or jobs without worrying about managing your money.

Still not convinced? Here are five reasons why you need a CPA for your accounting and taxes.

Tax laws and compliance are not simple

Admit it or not, but comprehending taxes is no mean feat. America’s tax code is a disgrace but certain groups, want it to remain complicated so we have to depend on others to operate. The tax code should be simple and should be able to be completed with 5th grade math in about 15 minutes (most of that time involved in just organizing your paperwork – 2 minutes for the actual arithmetic if that).

Taxes are mindboggling, confusing, and they keep changing frequently. Trying to stay updated on taxes while understanding all of it will take up a significant portion of your time and eat into your work schedule or family time. If you’re confused when filing your taxes or tax returns, you could either end up paying more than you should or you could be penalized.

A CPA is there to help you understand your taxes, and take care of it on your behalf. You can rest assured that your taxes will be filed correctly and on time. Giving you time to watch that amazing Transformers, Star Trek, Sicario, Horrible Bosses movie and so on.

Finances come in various forms

Your earnings aren’t just your salary or monthly income from your business. There are stock options, mortgages, capital gains, loan repayments, and several other things that make your earnings more complicated. Managing your loan repayments, stock dividends, along with your monthly income from your business or job are just too burdensome to deal with on your own. You could even end up filing the wrong taxes and attracting a penalty by the massive bureaucracy known as the IRS which is part of the swamp but is another topic.

A CPA is able to prevent this and helps you keep track of all your taxes – this is their profession and they take this serious. Whether you’re buying a house or investing in stocks, a CPA is your best friend in getting your taxes figured out. They can offer you advice and they more than pay for themselves.

You like tax credits, but don’t understand them

How much did you spend this past week? Uh….you don’t seem to remember. Now, how much did you spend in the past year? Those Chalupas at Taco Bell are delicious but how many did you buy in the past 6 months, year? You probably cannot count that high! OK, this is going a little too far but Taco Bell is fantastic.

If you like deductions or tax credits, you first have to remember what counts as a deduction and going to your favorite fast food joint such as Taco Bell, Wendy’s, McDonalds, and so on, you know the business who hires people that understand what you are saying, may or may not be eligible to be counted as a tax credit or a deduction.

This is when working with a CPA is certainly beneficial. An accountant will keep track of your income and expenditures throughout the year, and help you avoid paying more than you should by recognizing the deductions you’re eligible for. With the help of financial accountant, you could file the best tax returns.

You have multiple jobs

Times are challenging, and working only one job is seldom enough if you have a family to feed. More and more people are turning to side-jobs, be it bartending, freelancing, or working part-time at a supermarket. When you have multiple jobs and more than one source of income, your taxes will become more difficult.

Managing multiple forms and calculating different taxes is time-consuming, and not to mention confusing. To avoid chances of erring, get a CPA to handle your finances and help you out. And if she looks like Kate Veatch in Dodgeball then good for you but if your paperwork is tossed in a closet like Peter La Fleur’s was from the same movie that is pretty pathetic.

It’s best to avoid risks

Taxes are an area where it is best to be safe than sorry. You must have often heard that it does not take a genius to file taxes. While it may not take a genius, some help is definitely appreciated and beneficial when handling something this complex. One wrong move can result in penalty or additional fees, and the mess can take months to clean up.

Even if you consider yourself a risk-taker, it is best avoid taking these types of risks – even if you are an extreme athlete always looking for the next thrill or mighty challenge. A CPA ensures you’re safe and sound when it comes to understanding and filing your taxes, and also helps you save money.

Your financial health is crucial to your professional success. Hiring a CPA is an investment that leads to constant support and guidance so your finances are handled properly and you make the right moves based on the information and advice they offer you.

How And When Do You Start Retirement Planning?

There is no one particular time to start your retirement planning. You can do it from the day you start working or from a later age. It is your proclivity. But the sooner you start, the better. In your early years, it is easier to always think that retirement is far away.

However, time flies and one day we all realize that the time to hang up our boots and jackets has finally arrived. And those folks who chose not to plan well for retirement earlier on are most likely to find themselves in financial trouble and extremely stressed out because their best working days are behind them and they still have many more years left on this planet to live. So start planning early!

It is pretty hard to forget about but it is easier to ignore when you are younger. The thing is, the longer you put this off the more you are going to have to save later on which could be difficult for a number of reasons. The simple fact is, if you do not save for retirement you may not be able to. Not everyone can perform so terribly in their job like Lois Lerner and Barney Frank did and be able to retire comfortably. Though most people are more honest than those two but this is another topic.

And do not think you are going to end up with boat loads of cash like Louis Winthrope III and Billy Ray Valentine did the hilarious movie Trading Places. That is just illogical!

Now is the Right Time

As you work and pay off loans and bills you need to contemplate how much you should be saving for retirement. As life changes, your plans too can change. But staying on track is vital. Once your familial responsibilities set in (you will most likely have a family), you still need to continue saving.

How much is needed to retire?

The thumb rule is to put aside 10 to 15% (according to CNN Money and do not worry about this being fake news since this information by CNN is also supported by other sources) when you are in your 20s but you should save as much as you can. This harkens back to what was said before, if you do not start saving early you are going to have to make up for it later on in your life.

You also have to maintain favorable credit rating (unless you are one of those strange ducks like me who just pays for everything in cash and does not go out much but since most people are not like this, play the game and maintain your credit) and manage your debt burden if any, carefully. A poor credit score can prevent you from obtaining reasonable loan rates, leaving you with less amounts of money to save.

Planning Your Future Finances

If your current employer offers you a 401(k) plan, sign up for it and have contributions deducted automatically from your monthly paycheck. If your employer matches your contribution with the same amount, you only stand to gain in the long run. It pays off when you accept superannuation.

If you are changing jobs, consider rolling over your 401(k). You can transfer your employer-sponsored 401(k) funds into an IRA or Individual Retirement Account as you switch jobs. This will give you a clear picture of how much you have in reserve after working for so many years and what needs to be done to enhance it further.

For those in their 50s, retirement isn’t far off (though it could be which is the point here!). It’s time to take a look at your retirement savings and to evaluate whether you are on the right track or if you should begin to start tucking more away. If you need a qualified financial professional to advise you on reducing your tax burden so that you can save more for retirement then you should consider getting one. This financial advisor can also offer you salient advice on how much you should be investing and what you should be investing in.

You could even ask your employer to deduct more from your pay as your earnings go up, provided they are willing to match your contribution every month. Moreover, catch-up contributions are always useful for making up for any shortfalls you may have in your portfolio. Evaluating your monthly expenses is also critical. You do not want to be spending too much on a car or a home and so on. You also have to pay attention and consider any interest rates on loans that you are contemplating taking on via a house or car and you should never borrow to pay for furniture. That is a terrible move to make!

Clear thinking and clearer vision are the two main facets for successful retirement planning. And the sooner you start, the better. There’s no greater relief than knowing that you are well provided for as you put your feet up and relax knowing you made the right moves in life.