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Book Review: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

book review

Dave Ramsey is a best selling author of many popular self-help books about getting your finances together. He’s inspired many with his simple, no-hassle philosophies on how to manage money. He also has a radio talk show called the Dave Ramsey Show, that you can listen to anywhere you listen to podcasts. He even started his own company built on his financial philosophies called Financial Peace University. Dave Ramsey and his colleagues have loads of resources you can find helpful in your own personal money management journey. Whether you are managing a household or a small business, Dave Ramsey has the financial advice you need to be successful and smart with your funds.

Today we’re going to take a focused look into one of Dave Ramsey’s most prolific publications, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. You’ve heard of fitness journeys and makeovers that change your style into something fresh and new, but Dave Ramsey takes all that and puts a financial spin onto it. With Dave Ramsey’s baby step plan you can exercise your financial abilities in ways you never thought possible and finally get into shape where your wallet is concerned.

What Kind of Book is The Total Money Makeover?

book cover

The Total Money Makeover is written as a self-help book. It’s even been compared to popular self-help books like, Your Best Life Now and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People because of the reader-friendly way it is written. It’s an engaging book with lots of real-world examples and stories from real people who have actually gone through Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and seen results. These short anecdotal stories throughout the book help all of Dave Ramsey’s concepts make clear common sense.

The book also includes a lot of motivational help along with the tips and advice. One of the biggest factors that holds people back from taking full control over their finances is the proper motivation and encouragement to make necessary changes to their lifestyle. Dave Ramsey helps with that too, giving you the fresh outlook you need to understand your goal and the rewards you can gain.

Dave Ramsey is also a Christian, so his books often have a religious undertone. So you may find him referencing Bible verses every so often in this book, and tackling religious views and practices with regard to money as well.

What’s in the Book?

The Total Money Makeover is essentially a step-by-step guide for how to go about your own personal money makeover journey. These steps are based on Dave Ramsey’s key money philosophies. Dave Ramsey has strict beliefs about not ever using debt, loans, or credit cards. He believes that our society today is too dependent on credit and that true financial freedom only comes when you live a completely debt free life. So the first steps in his plan are all about helping you get out of debt, and then setting you up to never get into debt again.

Simple and straightforward advice.

Dave Ramsey’s book became so popular probably because of how easy it is to follow his clearly set plan. Each step is specific enough to leave no doubts about what exactly you need to do, making his plan one that anyone can follow and find success. It also helps that he is never vague about his advice, but rather he is extremely straightforward, open, and honest.

Dave Ramsey has no get-rich-quick schemes. He’s more about using honest work, responsibility, and common sense to reach your goals. So you won’t find any crazy secrets to financial stability and success in his book, you’ll just finally learn to implement the basics in a way that really works.

A change in perspective.

Another reason people enjoy Dave Ramsey’s teachings is because he doesn’t pretend that money is what brings happiness. He’s realistic and believes that money is a tool to create stability and contentment in our lives, not the secret solution to all our problems.

He eloquently tackles many mental barriers and misconceptions many of us have about money, and works to not only change your behavior with money, but your perspective about money as well. One thing he talks about a lot is getting over the need to “keep up with the Joneses.” Often in life we compare ourselves to others in unhealthy ways, and sometimes those comparisons can lead us to make poor financial decisions for superficial reasons. So, when you read the Total Money Makeover be prepared to gain a whole new outlook on the purpose of money, and break free from comparing yourself to others.

The Money Makeover Baby Steps:

The main event of this self-help read are the baby steps the reader can take to reach financial peace and freedom. You can read a more detailed article about each of the 7 baby steps that Dave Ramsey will go through in this book, but we’ll go over a quick outline of those steps here too.

Emergency Fund

The first step in Dave Ramsey’s 7 step plan is to basically get your financial life in order. The road to stability starts by setting up your finance in a certain way. This begins with setting up an emergency fund. You can start with at least $1,000 in your emergency fund but eventually you’ll want to work your way toward having at least 6 months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund at all times.

Debts

Once you start getting your emergency fund in place, it’s time to focus all other monetary efforts toward annihilating all your debts. He goes into more detail about this in the book. For example, he suggests you start with your smallest debts first and work your way up to your larger ones. He also recommends you save paying off your mortgage for last. But eventually the idea is to throw everything you can at your debts until they are all completely wiped out.

Build Wealth

Now it’s time to build wealth and continue saving. Since Dave Ramsey argues you should pay for everything in cash, continually building up your financial stores is an important aspect of the Dave Ramsey lifestyle. You have to have enough in savings to cover all your costs completely with cash.

In the book Dave Ramsey goes into more detail about what savings you should prioritize. He advises that you first complete your 6 months’ worth emergency fund if you haven’t gotten there already. Then he suggests you work toward saving for retirement and (if you have kids or plan on having kids) your children’s college funds.

Things You Can Do Differently:

Dave Ramsey’s primary goal in all of this is to help people get out of crippling debt and stay out of it. But there are modifications you can make to his more rigorous financial plan.

You can choose how much you want in your emergency fund.

If you’re a college student then putting aside even $1,000 may be more difficult for you. But that’s ok! Just put aside what you can. Even just adding $5 to $10 a month into an emergency fund is better than having no emergency fund at all.

Likewise, if you’re more settled in life it might be easier for you to put even more than $1,000 aside into an emergency fund. It really doesn’t matter how you do it, what matters most is that you start accumulating that safety fund in order to be more prepared for surprise expenses in the future.

You can still use credit cards and loans.

Dave Ramsey may believe in using only cash to pay for things but there are advantages to using credit cards and installment loans. When used responsibly using credit can help boost your credit score and get you the things you need to have a comfortable life. Credit cards can also provide lots of perks outside of boosting credit scores. Some credit cards come with special points that can go toward paying for things like groceries and traveling. So long as you understand your limits and include loans and credit payments in your carefully calculated budget and financial plans, you’ll be just fine.

Should I Read This Book?

You may now be wondering whether you should give this book a read or not. You should definitely read this book if . . .

  • you are in debt
  • you have trouble managing your money or realizing where your money goes
  • you have trouble making a budget

If you are looking for a book with more specific details about financial topics (like investing, or small businesses) then you should check out Dave Ramsey’s other books that go more in depth on complex financial topics. The Total Money Makeover doesn’t expound upon these topics too much since it was written more as a beginners guide to Dave Ramsey’s financial baby steps.

 

READ MORE

Check out some other helpful reviews about Dave Ramsey’s book, the Total Money Makeover:

Review: The Total Money Makeover

The Total Money Makeover Review

Goodreads


Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps

dave ramsey baby steps

Are you trying to get out of debt? Do you want more financial stability and freedom? Are your finances one of the bigger stresses in your life right now? If any of these sentiments apply to you then Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps might be just what you need to cure your money blues.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Start an Emergency Fund
Step 2: Focus on Debts
Step 3: Complete Your Emergency Fund
Step 4: Save for Retirement
Step 5: Start a College Fund
Step 6: Pay Off Your House
Step 7: Build Wealth

Dave Ramsey is a guy who, through personal experience, was able to get out of debt and find financial peace of mind. He is now a financial expert with courses and books to help the everyday person get in control of their finances.

The best place to start when trying to regain control over your finances and achieve a full “money makeover” is to start with his 7 step plan. This plan has 7 baby steps that you follow to reach more financial stability and get to the point where you can start building wealth.

Step 1: Start an Emergency Fund

car maintenance

The first step in Dave Ramsey’s 7 step plan is, “Save $1,000 for Your Starter Emergency Fund.”

One of the main reasons people struggle with money is because necessary emergency expenses (like medical bills, car bills, or home repairs) come out of nowhere and drag you deeper and deeper into debt. But if you are preemptively prepared for these surprise expenses then they won’t take you off guard again.

So the very first thing you should do when getting your money in line is to get an emergency fund started. Save up an emergency fund in a separate bank account, until you have at least $1,000 in the account. This will be the start of the emergency fund that will keep sudden necessary expenses from plunging you into deep debts because you weren’t prepared.

Step 2: Focus on Debts

debts

The second step in Dave Ramsey’s plan is to “Pay Off All Debt (Except the House) Using the Debt Snowball.”

The snowball method that Dave Ramsey refers to here means that you start by paying off small debts first, and work your way up to the bigger debts. Debts can include paying off your car, credit card debts, and student loans.

First, make a giant list of all your debts, every single one, except for your mortgage if you have a house. Then, put your list of debts in order from the smallest debt amount to the largest. Then you go through knocking out each debt by eliminating the smallest debts first and working your way up to the largest debt last.

Step 3: Complete Your Emergency Fund

medical bills

The third step is to “Save 3 to 6 Months of Expenses in a Fully Funded Emergency Fund.”

Now that you’ve gotten all your debts out of the way, it’s time to finish your emergency fund. You can use the same money you were using to pay off debts each month and put it toward your emergency fund until it has enough to cover 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses and bills. Then you’ll really be prepared for anything.

Reasons to Have an Emergency Fund

  1. If you lose your job.
  2. You won’t have to worry because you’ll have enough to last you 6 months. This will give you the time you’ll need to find a new job.

  3. If your car breaks down.
  4. You’ll be able to pay for the necessary repairs, the tow truck, or even for a new car in some cases.

  5. Medical bills.
  6. Don’t let your health and necessary medical bills keep you from staying afloat financially.

  7. Home repairs.
  8. If something happens to your home you’ll be able to fix the problem rather than living with it.

Having an emergency fund is THE key to keeping you out of debt in the future. After getting yourself out of debt, an emergency fund is what will keep you from getting back into debt in the future.

Step 4: Save for Retirement

retirement

The fourth step in the Dave Ramsey plan is to, “Invest 15% of Your Household Income in Retirement.”

After your debts are gone and your emergency fund is taken care of, it’s time to start seeing to other important savings like a 401K. Dave Ramsey recommends you take 15% of your gross monthly income and put it toward a retirement fund each month. To figure out how much you should be putting into your retirement fund each month, take your monthly income and multiply that number by 0.15.

Step 5: Start a College Fund

college funds

The fifth step to Dave Ramsey’s plan is to, “Save for Your Children’s College Fund.”

Avoiding student loan debts can be one of the biggest factors in staying out debt as a young adult. If you can pay for your kids college tuition then you’ll ensure their financial security in the future, as they’ll better be able to stay out debt. Dave Ramsey recommends using either a 529 college savings plans, or an education savings accounts (ESA). Talk to your bank or credit union about setting up these accounts for these specific purposes.

Step 6: Pay Off Your House

mortgage

The next to last step in this 7 step plan is to, “Pay Off Your Home Early.”

Put all the extra monthly income you have into your mortgage so you can finish paying it off early. After this step you will officially have no debts whatsoever! All of your earnings will go to you instead of getting drained away in large debts and payments.

Step 7: Build Wealth

wealth and legacy

Finally, it is time to, “Build Wealth and Give.”

Congratulations! Once you’ve reached the 7th step in Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, you can start focusing on building your wealth and leaving a legacy. Don’t forget to keep and maintain those financial safety nets like a healthy emergency fund, retirement account, savings account, and college funds.

Now you are officially in charge of your money rather than it being in charge of you.

Financial freedom is possible for you! Everyone can do it and Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps can help you get there. Dave Ramsey also has other resources that can help you implement this plan. You can participate in Dave Ramsey’s program, books, and podcasts.

You can take the actual course with Financial Peace University.

Dave Ramsey also has a free customized plan and assessment that you can do right now, in just 3 minutes!

Listen to the Dave Ramsey Show anywhere you listen to podcasts or radio.

 
Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps to financial freedom can help you with so many aspects of your life. They can help you decide when to buy a house or help you get situated for saving for a house. It’s a checklist program that can help you get rid of loans and debt (like student loans), or even help you get to where you can budget for a wedding.

Another way you can get some needed financial help is to take out an Installment Loan at Check City! Installment loans can help you stay on top of your bill payments and avoid late fees, which can really hurt your long-term financial goals.
 

READ MORE

Browse Dave Ramsey’s online store for more great financial resources to help you on your financial journey.

Read more helpful articles on the Dave Ramsey Blog

Learn more about the debt snowball, “How the Debt Snowball Method Works.”

Read Dave Ramsey’s full article on his 7 baby steps, “What Are the Baby Steps?

Stay out of debt through college by using these tips, “How to Stay Debt Free through Grad School.”


How Much Do Flight Attendant’s Make?

flight attendants salary

Flight attendants fill a lot of hats—from janitor to EMT, they take care of everything related to the passenger. In fact, flight attendants are more like aerial experts than they are servers. Below is a brief overview of the flight attendant profession and its salary.
 

 
The career path you choose is important because you will spend a large part of your life at your job. So deciding on which career to pursue is no small matter. The career of a flight attendant provides a very unique form of work life and can pay extremely well. If you want your job to include free travel and frequent travel opportunities then this career option might be the perfect choice for you. Keep reading to find out more about this career, the work-life it provides, and how much flight attendants earn.

The Life of a Flight Attendant

Anyone who has flown before has probably seen their flight attendant walking around the cabin, ushering people in and out of the plane, serving food and beverages to the passengers, and collecting trash. These tasks may not seem very glamorous, but flight attendants are actually much more than just servers and ushers. They are also highly trained professionals, taught to handle a variety of scenarios from medical emergencies to aerial ones.

Common Flight Attendant Duties
  • Greet and usher passengers to their seats
  • Process passenger tickets
  • Assist with passenger’s carry-on luggage
  • Keep the cabin clean
  • Make announcements
  • Serve passengers food, snacks, and beverages
  • Train passengers about basic plane safety and protocol
  • Train the exit rows on their specific duties in case of an emergency
  • Make sure passengers adhere to the safety protocol and regulations of the plane
  • Take part in preflight meetings with the pilots
  • Do preflight inspections and checks
  • Administer emergency medical care


As you can see flight attendants fill a lot of hats. They are trained professionals, hired to take care of everything related to the passenger, and trained to be ready for almost anything that could happen while they’re in the air. In fact, much of what flight attendants are trained for actually has more to do with safety and the mechanics of the plane than serving passengers. They even need to have separate qualifications for each of the different kinds of aircrafts they work in. Short from maybe the pilot, your flight attendant knows a lot about planes.

So what is it like to be a flight attendant and how satisfied are they in their jobs? The Bureau of Labor Statistics and Payscale both have some promising numbers for the profession.

Payscale found that 4 out of 5 flight attendants reported feeling highly satisfied with their job. They also found that 71.7% of flight attendants are female and 28.3% are male.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the job outlook for aspiring flight attendants is very good, reaching a growth rate of 10 percent. They predict that this healthy job growth rate is due to the promising future that air travel has, which will mean an increase in plane passengers, and thus cause an increase in demand for flight attendants. Overall, the future looks bright for anyone thinking about entering the flight attendant profession.

How Do You Become a Flight Attendant?

First,

you have to complete training and certifications. There are places you can go to get certificates and then when you are applying to get hired by an actual airline they will put you through what is called ground school. If you pass ground school you are hired.

Second,

you go through training with your airline, and receive any specific training for the aircrafts you’ll be working on.

Third,

you progress through the ranks! Seniority matters a lot in the flight attendant world, so generally those who are just starting out will have to be on call for a while and work lots of holidays. But eventually you can work your way up, get better hours, maybe get off on some holidays, and get more pay.

How Much Do Flight Attendants Actually Make?

Flight attendants can really make good money. Some stereotypes about flight attendants may lead some to believe that their jobs primarily entail customer service work, like being a waiter or working in the gig economy. But the numbers show that this is far from true. Flight attendants are actually more like airline experts than they are servers, though they do provide those services as well. Their pay also reflects the amount of training they require, and most flight attendants make much more than the average waiter.

Pay Depends On:

How many years of flight attendant experience you have. Like many jobs, the longer you work as a flight attendant, the more experience you have and the more employers will pay for your expertise. Generally employers are willing to pay more for experience because it means they will have to train you less.

What airport you work from. A flight attendant usually works from a specific airport. Just like other workers who go to the same office building each day for work, flight attendants also go to the same airport each day to begin their shift. Bigger airports are going to have higher salaries available than smaller ones.

What airline you work for. Flight attendants may work from the same airport, but the airport is not their boss, the airline is. Flight attendants are primarily employed by airlines, like Delta or United, who all offer different kinds of pay and benefits to their employees.

How Much Do Flight Attendants Make a Year

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median annual wage for flight attendants was $56,000 a year. The lowest 10% earned less than $28,950, and the highest 10% earned more than $80,870.

How Much Do Flight Attendants Make an Hour

PayScale also did a study that found some interesting information about the flight attendant profession. They found that the average flight attendant’s hourly pay is $20.73 an hour. The lowest 10% earned $12.73 an hour and the highest 10% earned $50.97 an hour. As of August 2019, the national average for hourly wage was $28.11, so a flight attendant’s average hourly wage is not far behind the national average.
 
When deciding any career path it is important to do your research and understand not just the kind of financial life it can provide for you, but the work life it comes with as well. If you want to see the world you don’t have to quit your job. You can become a flight attendant and keep earning while you follow your traveling dreams!

Meanwhile, if you’re in between jobs and need some financial help, feel free to check out Check City’s Payday Loans.


READ MORE
Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s website for more details on their May 2018 survey about the flight attendant profession.

See more details about PayScale’s very own study on the flight attendant profession.

Plan more ways to follow your traveling dreams on a budget, “Cheap Ways to Travel on a Budget.”

How to Choose a Career

choose a career

A career dictates a lot about your life. What career you choose determines what major you study while in college. It influences what life you can afford and what you spend so much of your time doing each week of your life until retirement.

Choosing a career is a big decision to make and high school seniors each year are stressing out about how to go about deciding their future. But deciding a career path doesn’t need to be too stressful. Finding your passion is largely about self-awareness and researching all your options. By following the suggestions below you can decide your future career with ease.

  1. Understand Yourself
  2. Research Options
  3. Weigh Options
  4. Make a Plan

Understand Yourself

self introspection
 
Becoming more self-aware can be especially difficult for younger, high school students who are still figuring out so much about who they are. But this journey into self-exploration can be fun and eye opening too! You want to discover and record your skills, interests, strengths, weaknesses, and passions.

Start exploring the things you love right now. This is the first part of the journey that leads you to a career you’ll love. You also want to know your values, or what you will and won’t do in a job.

This is where learning more about your personality type will come in handy. For instance, if you are more introverted, then working with customers may be on your list of things you don’t want in a job. If you love being up on your feet then having a more hands-on job might be on your list of things you do want in a job.

Taking the Myers Briggs Personality Test might help you better understand key aspects of your personality.

If you have trouble finding these personal answers within yourself, there are some things you can do to find the answers.

Ask Yourself Questions

Giving yourself an introspective interview can really help learn more about yourself. Questions are good because they help you analyze yourself and what you do and don’t like. It also helps you look at yourself more realistically. You may like the idea of being a lawyer, but you have to ask yourself if you are willing to do all that is necessary to become a lawyer, and if you’ll really be happy with the required daily tasks of a lawyer.

Questions help you see patterns and become more self-aware, which is paramount to finding a career path for you. They also help you to know what you would like in a job (so you can accumulate a list of options) and what you wouldn’t like in a job (so you can cancel certain options out).

To conduct your introspective interview you can ask yourself the following questions, or you can have someone else ask them while you respond and talk about your answers together.

  • If I could choose one friend to trade jobs with, I’d choose __, because __.
  • I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do __. It’s interesting to me because __.
  • If I had the right education or skill set, I’d definitely try __, because __.
  • If I had to go back to school tomorrow, I’d major in __, because __.
  • My co-workers and friends always say I’m great at __, because __.
  • The thing I love most about my current job is __, because __.
  • If my boss would let me, I’d do more of __, because __.
  • If I had a free Saturday that had to be spent “working” on something, I’d choose __, because __.
  • When I retire, I want to be known for __, because __.
Take an Aptitude Test

There are lots of online career tests you can take. A career quiz will give you ideas about what fields and jobs that might be right for you.

You’ll be asked questions to determine your skills and interests. Then the test will pair your results with careers that best fit your answers. You can then weigh these different options and research them to help you pick one. Below are two free tests you can take right now:

The MAPP Career Assessment

Career Aptitude Test

Research Options

research careers
 
After you have some options in mind you can learn about your choices in order to make an informed final decision. Don’t only research specific jobs though. This can be really helpful, but think about broader fields of work as well.

There are fields of work and then there are jobs in those fields. Sometimes deciding a field of work first will help you find the specific job you’re looking for.

Types of Careers
  • Arts and Communication
  • Business
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Humanities
  • Law and Government
  • Medical
  • Science
  • Social Services

Once you’ve decided on a career field, you can narrow your search down to a specific job in that field. Deciding which job to pick is easier if you read the requirements or the responsibilities for each job, and see if they interest you. You can search actual job openings to find the most common real-world requirements involved. Indeed and ZipRecruiter are two popular job search websites where you can see real postings for the careers you’re interested in.

You can research other important aspects of the career by visiting PayScale.com. This website has surveys about almost every profession imaginable, and can tell you things like average salary, what people on the high end of the job get paid vs the lower end. You can even search by your location and experience to assess how much you can expect to get paid.

They also list the skills that are most important to the field, the tasks and requirements involved, how people review the job, gender percentages in the field, and the health benefits you generally get. It’ll even show you related jobs and jobs in your area and it’s all shown to you in pretty, simple graphics.

Do Internships and Job Shadowing

Internships and job shadowing can be a great way to get some hands-on experience with the careers you’re interested in. Often your school advisers can help you find internships and job shadowing opportunities near you.

Conduct an Informational Interview

If you don’t have the time for internships and job shadowing, you can conduct an informational interview. It’s like a reversed job interview. You visit with someone who has the job you’re interested in, and you ask them a series of questions to get a feel for their job, what they did to get where they are, and any other insights or advice they might have for you. Here are some example questions you could ask from the Berkeley University of California:

  • What are your main responsibilities as a…?
  • What is a typical day (or week) like for you?
  • What do you like most about your work?
  • What do you like least about your work?
  • What kinds of problems do you deal with?
  • What kinds of decisions do you make?
  • How does your position fit within the organization/career field/industry?
  • How does your job affect your general lifestyle?
  • What current issues and trends in the field should I know about/be aware of?
  • What are some common career paths in this field?
  • What kinds of accomplishments tend to be valued and rewarded in this field?
  • What related fields do you think I should consider looking into?
  • How did you become interested in this field?
  • How did you begin your career?
  • How do most people get into this field? What are common entry-level jobs?
  • What steps would you recommend I take to prepare to enter this field?
  • How relevant to your work is your undergraduate major?
  • What kind of education, training, or background does your job require?
  • What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job/this field?
  • What is the profile of the person most recently hired at my level?
  • What are the most effective strategies for seeking a position in this field?
  • Can you recommend trade journals, magazines or professional associations which would be helpful for my professional development?
  • If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?
  • I’ve read that the entry-level salary range for this field is usually in the range of ______? Does this fit with what you’ve seen? (Don’t ask about the person’s actual salary.)
  • What advice would you give someone who is considering this type of job (or field)?
  • Can you suggest anyone else I could contact for additional information?

Weigh Options

weigh options
 
Now that you have a couple choices in mind, and have done your due diligence learning all about each one, you have to make a final decision. When making this final decision about your future, it’s important that you keep certain things in mind.

Think about the future, retirement, the family life you want. Think about what you would like your life to be known for and any other long-term goals you may have for your life. Will this career choice help you reach those goals?

Make sure you take priority over what you want to do over any societal expectations pressed upon you. After all, you are the one who’s going to live with this career.

Make a Plan

make plan
 
If you’re graduating high school and starting college soon, then you’ll want to not only pick a college but a major, and possibly minor, that will be useful for the field you want to go into. You can also start taking advantage of high school and college advisers and mentors if your school has a program like that. These counselors can act as career coaches to help you map out your career path.

In your research and studies you should figure out the steps, milestones, and requirements that people in your field must go through. Then you can plan these steps out in your own life. Record these plans in a place or a calendar that you can easily revisit and adjust as needed. Plan is a great website that can connect to your gmail or outlook account to help you plan your future effectively in one easy to use space. If you need some help planning financially, a Check City Personal Loan may be able to help you as well.
 
choose a career
 
Whether you are a college freshman looking to decide on a career path for the first time, or a seasoned career veteran looking for your dream job, the process is going to look about the same. By following this guidance you can learn more about yourself and discover what career path is the best for you, and find happiness and success in your professional life.


READ MORE
Check out “How to Change Careers in 3 Simple Steps” to learn some other steps to changing careers.

Read “11 Important Qualities to Have When Changing Careers” to see what skills almost all professions are looking for today.

Budgeting in 4 Easy Steps

budget
No matter your financial situation in life, everyone needs a budget. With a budget you can plan for needed expenses and prepare for the things you want. In fact, the most simple budget only needs a couple lists, a calculator, and some goals. Below are the the main points our post will go over to help you set up your budget:
 

 
Budgets are an important tool in anyone’s financial arsenal. Budgets can help you organize your needed expenses, like rent and bills, prepare for emergencies and get ready for whatever your future might hold. By knowing how to budget you can learn to stop living paycheck to paycheck and start building up your savings. it can help you save up for big expenses or future life events like a wedding, starting a family, buying a car or a house or moving to a new state.

Budgeting can also help you save for retirement, something else that even younger people just starting out on their own sometimes forget to think about but should. But most of all a it can grant you financial power and freedom and help you provide for your wants and needs. But for those just starting out on their own especially, it can be hard to know where to begin.

There are several key elements you’ll need to include in your budget. You need to think about all your necessary expenses and plan them out accordingly so you are aware of how much of your monthly income you need to spend each month no matter what. Then you’ll have to think about unnecessary expenses. This is where you have the most freedom to plan out the numbers and make adjustments.
budget-template

How to Budget

There are many ways to budget and there is a lot of advice out there in the financial spheres about how to do it. You can also choose to plan for certain events by making a specific wedding budget, or for major purchases like car payments. But if you’re making a simple budget for yourself, then the main thing you’ll want to decide first is whether you want to make a monthly or yearly budget. Most people like to create a yearly one to get a general big picture view of their financial goals and future plans. But, a monthly one is more helpful for everyday use. We’re going to try and condense all that down to the bare bones minimum of what every smart budget needs.

#1: List your monthly income

List out all your forms of income. This would include the paychecks from your job, but also any extra money you make from any of your side hustles. Here is also where you can decide whether you want to organize your finances for gross income or net income.

Gross income is simpler and easier to calculate. You just need to know how much you get paid and use that money for your calculations.

Net income isn’t as simple to figure out but there are advantages to using it. You figure out your net income by looking up what the income tax is in your state, and taking out that percentage from your gross income. Using net income instead of gross income is perhaps better because it more realistically reflects what you will actually receive from your paycheck.

#2: List your fixed expenses

After you have all your sources of income written down you’ll want to form another list for all your fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are the expenses you have each month that don’t fluctuate in amount. Everyone’s list is going to look different depending on what expenses do and don’t apply to you, but here is an example list of some fixed expenses:

  • Rent or Mortgage: A calculation you’ll want to do when looking at your housing expenses is to check that your total housing expenses aren’t over 28% of your monthly gross income.
  • Insurance
  • Debts: A calculation you’ll want to do when looking at your debts is to check that your total debts aren’t over 36% of your monthly gross income.
  • Loans
  • Student loans
  • Credit card payments
  • Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify
  • Phone bill
  • Medication you pay for each month
  • Child support
  • Education

After you’ve listed all your fixed expenses total the amount, subtract it from your monthly income, and that’s what you have left to spend on varied expenses . . .

#3: Set up your savings

Before we go into varied expenses though, let’s take a moment to think about your savings and retirement. Get a savings account if you don’t have one already, and set aside a portion of what’s left over after fixed expenses. Any amount you can afford to put away into a savings account each month will set you up for success in the long term, even if it’s only 5 to 10 dollars a month.

Aside from general savings and saving for retirement, you also want to set money aside in an emergency fund. It’s recommended that you have at least 3 months worth of your fixed expenses put away into an emergency fund at all times.

Digit is a great app you can use to help you plan and organize all your savings.

#4: List and portion out your varied expenses

Everyone’s list of varied expenses is going to look differently depending on what expenses do and don’t apply to you. Varied expenses are any expenses that are going to fluctuate in amount each month, or are considered more like luxury expenses than needed ones.

Varied expenses are a big reason to do a budget in the first place so that your varied expenses each month don’t overtake your more important fixed expenses and your savings. Here are some examples of varied expenses you might need to consider:

  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Entertainment
  • Gas and transportation
  • Recreation
  • Clothes
  • College textbooks

Another way to figure out the reality of what you’re spending on varied expenses is to look at your transaction history for the month and see 1) How much in total you were spending on varied expenses that month, and 2) What those varied expenses were on. Do this for a couple months back to get a more realistic idea of what you are spending on varied expenses each month.

Organizing your varied expenses is where you have the most control over your budget. Whatever is left over after your fixed expenses and your monthly payments to your savings account is what you have to spend on all your other spending for the month.

Here is where you will list out what all those varied expenses might be and portion what you have left in the budget into them. Remember that you don’t necessarily want to portion out 100% of what’s left into these categories so that you can accumulate a comfortable cushion in not just your savings account but your checking account as well.

Budgeting Tips

Invest

Making investments is a great way to beef up your financial portfolio. There are probably a trillion ways to invest, but the idea behind investments is that you put money into something that will give you more money in return later. This is called compounding interest.
interest-rate
A helpful tip to remember when going into any investment is the rule of 72. This rule means that if you take 72 divided by the interest rate you’ll figure out the estimated number of years it will take for your interest to double your initial investment.

Personal Capital and Acorns are some of the most helpful investing apps you can use to step up your investment game.

Where should I put my budget?

Figuring out where to even put your budget can get complicated. You can use excel or make your own table in Word or Google Docs or any note taking program of your choice. There are also many free budget templates online that you can print out and use. Budget tools are all around if you take the time to look and decide on which ones best suit your needs.

Click here for a free budget worksheet from the Federal Trade Commission.

You can also use budgeting apps to keep track of all your bills, expenses, plans, and goals. Some of these apps even allow you to connect your budget to your financial accounts.

Control your spending

Sometimes it can be difficult to control your varied expenses throughout the month and track your spending. You can make controlling how much you spend each month easier by using a prepaid debit card. With a prepaid debit card you put money on it like a gift card to yourself almost. You can also use a similar method of spending control by just taking money out and only using that cash for your varied expenses each week.

PocketGuard is an app that can help you track your purchases.

Get a Side Gig

Getting an extra source of income can really come in handy. There are a million different kinds of side hustles any ambitious person these days can get into. You can babysit, drive for uber, or sell your own products. The possibilities are endless and it never hurts to have a little extra money each month.

Plan to Decrease Debts

Debt can be a real financial weight on your shoulders, but it can also be a necessary evil in order to get a house, get a car, get through college, and much more. Decreasing the amount of debts you owe can still help alleviate some of that weight and provide more financial comfort and peace of mind.

So it’s important to budget with paying down your debts in mind. You can pay down debts quicker by planning to spend more on that fixed/necessary expenses each month, by spending less on varied expenses, or by getting another job to provide more income to put into your debts each month.
 
Budgeting doesn’t have to be hard. All you really need is 4 lists and a calculator! Everyone should practice using a budget now so that you can control your finances instead of your finances controlling you.


READ MORE
Check out some of other Check City articles on budgeting:
Budgeting for Dummies
 
What is a Budget?
 
Budgeting Tips You May Not Have Thought of Before
 
3 Simple Tips to Building a Budget
 
Ways to Keep Track of Your Spending

Saving for Retirement Now

One of the biggest buzz words of the modern financial market is retirement and saving for retirement. While some make retirement look scary or even impossible to fully prepare for, there are simple steps that a person can take to ensure that they have a comfortable base when it does come time to retire.

Financial advisors and retirement professionals will be able to give specific suggestions on what investment plans one can build their retirement on and what different strategies they can use to build up their retirement savings. But the one piece of advice that almost all of these professionals will give to their clients is to start saving for retirement now.

Never Postpone Saving For Retirement

Making up for lost time is one thing, but when a person chooses to postpone their retirement savings for a later date, that later date seemingly never comes and leaves the person struggling greatly to build up their retirement savings. People postpone their retirement savings plans for a wide variety of reasons, but the one reason that seems to be the most common is that people believe that they simply do not have the money to start saving for retirement.
While tight budgets are certainly something that most people deal with, this does not mean that they are by any means easy to handle. But even with the constraints of a tight budget, people can and should find the money to begin their retirement savings.

You Can Find Savings, if You Know Where to Look

Almost every individual can find the beginnings of their retirement savings if they know where to look. And by finding these beginning funds of a retirement plan, an individual will be able to start saving for retirement now, which will greatly help them down the road of life.

Finding the first funds that one can put towards retirement can be a difficult task, especially for those who are living paycheck to paycheck, but with honest and careful consideration, each individual should be able to find some small portions of their assets that they can put towards savings. For many people, this initial fund for retirement may come from money that would otherwise be spent on going out to eat for lunches throughout the work week.

Going out to lunch while at work is perhaps the best place for individuals who are striving to find some startup funds for their retirement savings. Going for a quick bite while on the lunch break at work is not an inherently bad thing, but when a person realizes how much they spend on eating out at lunch they can easily see how cutting back could benefit their retirement funds.

Pack Your Lunch, Save for the Future

Choosing to pack a lunch for work rather than eating out every day or even every other day during the work week can save an individual thousands of dollars over the course of just a few years. In fact, if a person can cut out just eight dollars per week each week over five years on the money that they would be spending buying lunches for that week at fast food restaurants or other popular eateries, that person could save upwards of two thousand dollars.

While two thousand dollars may not seem like much as far as savings go, it is certainly a step in the right direction for those who are striving to save for retirement. With just eight dollars per week coming off the restaurant tab and going towards savings a person can save two thousand dollars for their retirement, but if that same person could save even more from their eating out budget, or from other areas of their budget like entertainment, that same number of two thousand could easily be doubled by simple and small means.

By carrying out simple saving plans that can be enacted each week, a person will find that they are able to save much more than eight dollars per week. With cut backs in personal spending on such things as superfluous clothes, shoes, and entertainment costs, a young person who believes they simply do not have money to save could find that they actually have large stores of funds they can save every year.

In fact, if a person or a couple can save just twenty dollars per week to set aside for retirement, they will be able to save over one thousand dollars in a year. Here again, one thousand dollars may not seem like much, and truly is not very much money when it comes to living costs after retirement, but year after year this number can build and it can be started right now at almost any point in the life of a person planning for their retirement.

Planning the Perfect Time to Retire

Many look forward to retirement their entire careers. Nothing sounds better than being able to rest again, especially since you spend so much of your time between 20 and 60 not resting. If you’re one of those people, consider the following so you can plan perfectly for that blissful day.

Reach full retirement age for your Social Security

Your social security is best taken out later rather than sooner. It turns out that every year you delay retiring; the more you get back from social security in the long run. Here’s how it works.

The “full” retirement age according to the U.S. Social Security Administration is over 65. The exact age is dependent on your year of birth. Anyone born in 1960 and later must wait until 67 to reach full retirement age. To see where you fit in, check out the Age to Receive Full Social Security Benefits page on ssa.gov.

That said, the minimum age to start receiving Social Security is 62. If you retire at 62, your total monthly benefit amount will be reduced by about 30 percent. The closer you approach your full retirement age, the more you’ll receive.

63 will diminish it by 25%. 64 by 20%. 65 by 13.3%, and 66 is 6.7%. When you reach 67, you become eligible for full benefits. In addition, you become eligible for higher monthly checks the longer you wait after you reach full retirement age.

Maybe these percentages don’t mean much to you now, but consider the following deficits in yearly incomes. Consider the example of a hypothetical 61-year old woman making $55,000 a year.

If she were to claim her benefit at 62, she would receive about $15,400 a year. If she were to delay that by four years (to her designated full retirement age), then she would receive about $20,500 a year. Wait a further four years and she gets $27,100 a year, not to mention how much she saved from the extra eight years of $55,000 a year. The jump from $15,000 to just over $27,000 is usually worth the time.

You’ll want to at least delay retirement until 67 to maximize your full potential in regards to social security. The added benefit of delaying until 67 will be that you are able to earn more throughout those years, as well as save more, abolish debt better, and possibly even further your career that much farther. So wait if your situation allows it.

Wait for your 401k to fully mature

The money in your 401k is yours. That said, it may not have fully matured or become “vested.” Your company has likely signed an agreement to match your contributions for a set amount of time. If this is the case, then you likely won’t have full access to your 401k until that time frame is complete.

Pay off your debts

The last thing you want to take into retirement is a mortgage, car payment, or other forms of debt. Debt will hurt you more than you can imagine. Retirement comes with a reduced, fix income. In most cases, it doesn’t nearly afford you the comfortable spending habits that you’re used to. Adding debt to that reduced income is a form of suicide. Strive to have all of your debt paid off before you retire so you have nothing left hanging over your head.

Prepare a plan to stay busy

As blissful as retirement sounds, many fall into depression after a few years. When you’ve spent your life working, you can only take sitting still for so long. You want to be doing something, but there’s nothing to be done. Money is coming in and your life is taken care of. Yet you still lack that sense of fulfillment that comes from working every day.

Bring meaning back into your life with plans. Volunteer at a hospital. Get involved in the community. Spend a lot more time with your family. When all is said and done, returning your life to a busier state will help you to be happy throughout the experience. The happiest in retirement are those that stay busy.

If you plan properly for your financial and mental health, then you’ll find yourself enjoying the bliss of doing what you want to do, when you want to do it. You maximize your freedom in retirement, even if it means that you have to stick around a job for a few extra years to make it happen. You’ll never regret that sacrifice. You’ll only ever regret jumping into it without preparing for these four concerns.

Strategies for Planning for Retirement

There are many reasons that a person may wish to switch jobs or even careers, but one of the main reasons is for a better retirement. Retirement issues are weighing heavily on the minds of a lot of Americans and these issues must be addressed by each individual person, and may entice a change of career or job from those who will want to provide a more secure future retirement for themselves.

There is a lot of uneasiness and nervous feelings surrounding people’s retirement plans these days for a number of reasons. One primary reason for the coming alarm is the diminishing ability of the Social Security program to help senior citizens with the cost of living due to the growing number of retirees compared with the shrinking number of contributing citizens to the Social Security funds.

Don’t Bank on Social Security

With government help fading for those soon to be retirees, more and more people are searching for new ways to plan for the day when they will leave their careers behind through retirement. Before this can happen, however, an individual or couple must feel secure in their financials in order to be fiscally stable moving forward.

To accomplish this financial security, there is a trend emerging out of the working middle class that involves retirement minded saving plans. With more people changing to this fiscally minded retirement type of mentality, there continues to be a need for those people to be informed on new and inventive ways to save for retirement.

It is important, however, for these individuals who are working now to save for the future to understand that there are not set guidelines on how to appropriately save money for retirement. And there are multiple ways in which to do so, many of which are common knowledge and may already be in use by people looking to save but can still be used to spark other inventive methods for saving.

Start By Getting Out of Debt

One way to smartly prepare for the future is to get yourself out of debt now. By proportioning more of your paycheck towards the payment of debts, you will be able to save hundreds, maybe thousands, of interest dollars over the course of the loan.

Start Investing ASAP

Once debt free or even before, an individual can explore options of investment that will return more on their savings than will a standard interest rate provided by a savings account at a bank. One such investment option is to explore differing 401 (k) plans and manipulate those plans to your utmost advantage.

This can be accomplished by placing the maximum amount of money into the 401 (k) that will be matched by the employer. Companies will have varying percentages for which they will match an employee’s contribution into their 401 (k), but all will do so, so one should take advantage of this essentially free money.

It was said earlier that investments should be considered over holding all of one’s money in a bank’s savings account. But this is not to say that one should empty their savings accounts entirely as these definitely have their place in preparing for the future, but people should diversify their savings in investments that could bring the profit of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a few decades of investment.

It May Be Time to Switch Careers

Another way in which to prepare for a future retirement may be to consider switching jobs or careers. There are many individuals who currently hold down great and meaningful jobs, but some individuals throughout the course of their career may wish to consider switching jobs or even career paths to better their retirement savings.

Deciding to leave one’s job for another can be done, and should be done, in a respectful and professional way that will leave all parties involved with good outlooks. The absolute last thing that a person who is switching jobs should want to do is burn proverbial bridges with their former company or organization, as those networked professionals one is leaving behind will more than likely be a valuable asset in the future.

Leaving one job for another can be a productive process for all parties included if the situation is handled correctly. A person who is considering switching jobs after years with a company should strive to be honest with those within the company that will need to have time to prepare for the loss of the employee.

This is because in most cases, two weeks simply is not enough time to find and fully train a replacement person. By notifying those who will need to know, a person who is planning on leaving their current company will be able to keep valuable contacts and friendships at their former place of work.

By keeping these tips in mind as you prepare for your future you’ll be able to stay ahead of the curve and live more comfortably in your “Golden Years.”

Planning Ahead for Retirement Before it is Too Late

Planning for one’s retirement is an increasingly vital preparation for people to make. With Social Security funds waning as more and more of the workforce heads towards retirement, the time to set up one’s own plans for retirement is right now.

A study conducted in 2012 found that almost half of the American citizenry is not planning for retirement through saving for retirement. For those American workers under the age of thirty four, the percentage of individuals who are not starting to save for their retirement is over half.

These statistics show that nearly one out of every two Americans has no concrete plans for retirement, or are otherwise failing to accomplish any plans they may have established in the past. Without starting to save money for retirement right now, almost half of the American workforce is deciding to make retirement more difficult for themselves.

Without saving money long before the goal retirement age, a person can practically guarantee themselves employment after retirement. For these reason, saving money early in life and throughout one’s career is a fundamental element in a solid retirement plan.

So, why does almost half of the American work force refuse to start saving money for their retirement now? Most people, when asked this very question, have stated that they are not yet saving for retirement because they do not believe they can afford it.

But the ability to save money for retirement is just that, a belief in one’s self that they can make the choice to save if they so desire. The real issue at the core of the inability to begin saving for retirement is not the amount of income that a person or family makes, it is instead they believe that whatever the income amount is that it is not enough to live on.

Or in other words, the root problem for the nearly fifty percent of Americans who are not saving for retirement is not that they have a low income, but that they do not know how to manage that income and still be able to save a portion of their income every month. Thus, in order to start planning for retirement effectively by taking steps to save money now for retirement in the future, an individual or family will need to understand and implement proper money management.

Choose to Start Saving Now!

The first way that an individual or family can begin to save a portion of their monthly income is by simply choosing to do so. It may sound over simplistic or perhaps even impossible because of the monthly bills and debt, but by simply choosing to save a portion of their monthly income, a family will be able to begin doing so.
One can choose to save money every month by making saving a habit. One can make saving a habit by deciding that no matter what, some portion of the month’s income will be put away into a savings account or otherwise preserved for future use.

By choosing to save a little each month, the action of saving some money every paycheck or every month will become an automatic, and richly rewarding, habit. But some may gawk at the thought of reserving money every month simply because they do not see how they can live without that portion.

This cycle of needing to spend every cent of one’s income to pay for the various necessities of life is called living paycheck to paycheck. While many are stuck in this cycle, it can be broken in time after these individuals choose to make saving and budgeting a part of their fiscal lives.

Free Up Money by Budgeting Now

Budgeting is a common topic of discussion among financial advisors because of the effectiveness that a strict and adhered to budget can have on the financial success of individuals and families. Creating a budget for one’s family is a relatively easy task to undertake but can be a difficult task to accomplish.

The difficulty in implementing an effective budget comes because of a lack of discipline to limit spending to the assigned goals one has set for each category of expense. Another factor that can inhibit the realization of a set budget is the unexpected expense.

Even when people and families stick to their budget and remain disciplined, unexpected expenses can rob a family of their hard earned savings. To avoid this, a family may wish to build up their savings with an emergency fund built in that can be specifically used for such unexpected expenses.

Auto Title Loans For Unexpected Expenses

Another way for a family to deal with unexpected expenses is by using their available assets to handle the expense. For example, an auto title loan on the family car can be taken out to cover costs of unexpected or emergency expenses and subsequently paid off on the next payday.

Saving for retirement is one of the most import plans a person can make for the benefit of their future. Building up savings through deciding to save on every paycheck and budgeting wisely will enable an individual or family to save for their retirement.

Tip of the Week: The Sooner You Start Saving, the Better

For the tip of the week this week we’re going to cover a topic that seems like it’d be common sense but according to a number of studies that have been done recently people are still not taking this common sense tip to heart and for many of them, the penalty is working well into their “Golden Years”. The tip is simple; the sooner you start saving, the better. That means no matter what age you are right now, you need to start saving for retirement.

Start Saving

According to a recent Washington Post article Teresa Ghilarducci, the director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research said that, “This is the first time that Americans are going to be relatively worse off than their parents or grandparents in old age.”

That simple fact should be enough to kick the younger generation into gear. Experts are now saying that if you’re not starting to save for retirement by the age of 30 you’re already behind. Kevin Luss of the Luss Groups says that, “If you start at age 30 you have to put 10% of your income away as a benchmark. If you start at 45 you have to put 50% of your salary.” While it makes complete sense on paper it’s the real world application that becomes difficult for younger people.

With the current status of the economy and the rate at which college and university tuition’s have inflated most 30 year olds are more worried about the mountain of student loan debt that they face along with the fact that there aren’t as many jobs available as they thought there would be as they worked tirelessly to earn their degrees. All of this goes without mentioning the fact that most 30 year olds are starting to give at least some consideration to settling down with that special someone and starting a family. Combine the expenses of student loans with starting a new family and setting aside 10% of your income can be incredibly difficult to think about.

So what are the best options to start saving?

401k Plans

While there has been some debate in recent years as to whether or not 401k plans are still a viable means of saving for retirement but financial experts are still recommending that the 10% that you save each year should be going into your 401k. There are several reasons for this, one being that you’ll be less tempted to remove the money from a 401k and the other huge factor is that a lot of companies offer a matching program for a portion of the employee’s savings, if that’s the case with your employer you should at least make a goal of setting aside the maximum amount that your employer is willing to match, for example if your employer is willing to match 3% then you should shoot for that same amount.

Stick With an IRA

While starting to save money when you’re young is a great move there are also some downsides. If you start to save when you’re 30 you’re more likely to take higher risks or to continuously chase the best stock. By always chasing the hottest stock rather than slowly and steadily setting aside savings you may end up finding yourself worse off than when you started and several years behind the curve. Rather than chasing hot stocks it’s recommended that you set up an IRA because the money can go tax free until you are 59 ½ years old and you can start with as little as $50. If you set up your accounts to deposit $50/month you’ll be shocked to see how quickly your IRA will grow.

There are hundreds of ways to save for retirement; the key is just to start soon. If you play your cards right now you will set yourself up for a much more comfortable retirement several years from now.

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