Putting Your Feet Up: How to Create the Ultimate Retirement Plan

It is an understandably typical life goal to be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement where you have the security of enough money behind you to put your feet up and relax, but there are plenty of us who fall short of our ambitions.

One way of making sure you are on track to meet your retirement goals would be to view MoneyMorning.com on a regular basis and see how your investments are faring. Your first step of course, would be to create a retirement plan that works hard to fulfill your financial ambitions in your golden years.

Don’t stop, keep going

One of the simplest but effective bits of advice you can take heed of, is to start saving as early as possible and keep going for as long as possible.

Even if you start saving small amounts of money when finances are tight and maybe you are trying to balance the books while raising a family, it can accumulate into a tidy sum of money faster than you might think.

An ideal scenario would be to try and put 10% of your monthly income away and once you are in the savings habit, don’t stop putting as much money away towards your retirement, even when you can see the finishing line in sight.

Keep on saving for as long as you can and as much as you can. It will make a big difference to your retirement plans.

Make the most of tax benefits

Everyone likes the concept of getting a bit of free money, and from your point of view, if you sign up to your employer’s retirement savings plan, it can boost your retirement pot with the tax savings available.

Ask about details of what retirement savings plans are available through your employer, such as a 401 (k) for example, as the compound interest and tax deferrals available through a scheme like this, can definitely make a worthwhile difference to the amount you have to retire with when the time comes.

You can’t rely on the state

A worrying amount of people are under the illusion that Social Security will as good as pick up the check for their retirement plans and give them the money that they need to survive in retirement.

The reality is very different to the perception and it needs to be firmly understood that the government does provide a financial safety net of sorts, but it is a very basic one, and if you don’t make any worthwhile provisions of your own and start saving for retirement, the stark reality for many, is that they are going to lead a pretty meager existence when they stop working.

It is never nice to hear bad news or to discover the truth is more unpalatable that you would like, but it is worth heeding the warning and ensuring that you have your own Plan A to work to, rather than the more unfavorable Plan B of relying on Social Security.

Crunching the numbers

Continuing on the theme of realism, you do need to crunch the numbers and work out exactly how much retirement income you will actually need in order to be able to do all the things that you have got planned.

Although your monthly expenses should be lower in retirement, once you have paid off the mortgage for example, but if you want to maintain the lifestyle you currently have, expect to need somewhere in the region of 80% of your pre-retirement income.

A simple calculation would therefore be to take the amount you earn each year at the moment and work out what 80% of that figure is. That number you get is your target annual income figure, which is a good starting point for working out how much you need to save in the time that you have left, to be able to have enough to draw that amount of annual income.

Life expectancy

We don’t ever know exactly how long we have left on this planet, which can make retirement planning a bit tricky.

You obviously hope to live a long and happy life, so the best guess to work with if you take the national average, is that you will probably have about 20 years of retirement to enjoy, give or take.

While you might not want to contemplate your eventual demise, it does make planning for your retirement much clearer, if you work on the basis that you will need to accumulate about twenty years of annual income.

Once you have a set of goals and plans in your mind, you can then set about creating a financial plan that allows you to meet these targets and enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Christopher Bryant is a personal finance consultant who works with a wide range of people, from millennials and newlyweds to those approaching retirement.

Augmented Reality Gaming

indexThe new era of augmented reality gaming holds many possibilities. When people first heard about the live casino option available at the online casinos of the day, many people believed that a lot of the objections associated with online casinos had finally been answered. The traditionalists insisted that there was no way that online casinos could possibly replicate the experience of playing in a casino at Las Vegas. Since people were actually interacting with live dealers and live players, it seemed that the traditionalists had less of a point when the live casinos were introduced. Now, augmented reality gaming is going to start to close the gap even further, creating online casinos that really are functionally as good as many of the physical casinos that people have been using for all of these years

The redflush Online Casino has a lot to offer the players who are interested in trying to appreciate everything that online casinos have to offer. As a welcome bonus, people will receive one thousand dollars or euros free when they first sign on with the redflush Online Casino. They will also get the advantage of one hundred free spins as part of the welcome bonus. The redflush Online Casino has two hundred and sixty-nine online casino slot games. People will have plenty of opportunities to really enjoy their one hundred free spins and their one thousand free dollars. When people are able to get similar deals in the era of augmented reality gaming, they will be able to make a fairly natural transition.

One of the interesting things about the dawning era of augmented reality gaming is that people seem to have taken to it very quickly. Pokemon Go is certainly causing a stir, but people are still adopting it fairly readily and many places of business are making themselves friendly to augmented reality games already. People would have been shocked by the presence of something like this thirty years ago. However, people have gotten more and more used to new forms of technology, so they aren’t quite as shocked as some traditionalists might expect.

It is true that augmented reality gaming is going to change things. People will soon wear augmented eye wear when they are playing games on the redflush Online Casino website. They will see virtual images superimposed on the exterior environment, which will make them feel as if those images are more real in some cases. The graphics are no longer going to be confined within smartphone or computer screens, which might make them seem that much more real as a result. However, people are already used to graphics that seem real at the redflush Online Casino website. They are already used to immersing themselves in the games so much that they are not even aware of many other things, which is going to make the games seem more real anyway. Casino games have advanced so much that the new era of augmented reality gaming is only going to seem like one more incremental step.

Six Ways Student Debt can Swallow up Your Budget

Chances are you won’t find a single postgraduate in the nation who doesn’t audibly groan and wince like they stepped on a Lego at the mention of “student debt”. The truth of the matter is that student debt actually has even more dire implications than people are aware of. Aside from simply needing to struggle with paying back their personal debt balance, student loan debt impacts your budget in ways that are far more expansive than you may know.

Less opportunity for independent proprietorship

Historically, people have been able to survive periods of economic destitution by starting small businesses to supplement their income. However, due to the costs for college skyrocketing in such a short period of time, the windows of opportunity for you to overcome a saturated job market by opening a small business are shrinking. Student debt isn’t just something that you need to pay back, but also an anchor on the amount of money that you can safely invest into improving your overall standard of living in general. The higher your debt grows, the less freedom you have to use innovative and independent methods for fighting it.

Inability to set aside money for a buying home

In the face of soaring student debt, you won’t have nearly as much of an ability to think about becoming a homeowner. Without being able to set aside as much money as you would if you were debt free, the costs of home ownership will likely be far higher than what’s reasonable. Without being able to escape loan debt, chances are that most postgraduates will have to resign to renting for the rest of their lives.

A much lower chance of getting any other kind of loan

Even if you sweep your student loan debt under the rug and refuse to think about it, student loan delinquency is never invisible. Your inability to pay back a loan will be recorded and have a direct effect on your credit score, which will essentially blacklist you from all credit unions that bring it up. Due to the difficulty of getting any loans, student debt can end up forcing you to pay for just about everything in cash.

Your retirement will be hindered

Obviously, when you’re so focused on keeping your head above water with your student loans, there are other responsibilities and needs that just go untouched. It’s not news that it’s becoming more and more difficult every year for Americans to make retirement their priority, but what is new is the amount of debt that young adults are having to take on to help pay for a degree

If there’s one piece of advice that young adults need to take is that if your employer has a 401K plan, and they have a matching program, you should probably take advantage of it. Retirement advisors agree that the optimal time for Americans to start saving is 24 or 25. Even if it’s only $50 a month. Save.

Budgeting for student debt

Despite the reality of how daunting student debt can be, it isn’t impossible to successfully fight against it with the right budgeting techniques. The first step of the process to to simply come up with a budget in the first place, which is many people may initially find too intimidating to even consider.

Mark off a weekend that you can sit down and identify all of the specific ways that student debt could potentially interfere with your personal ambitions; there is generally a six-month grace period allowed after graduation. Even if six months have already passed, you can still benefit from working the budget out as soon as possible.

Determine a monthly payment amount, and make a commitment that you can reasonably maintain. Even if you can only pay back a small amount at a time, anything is better than nothing at all. Calculate any payments on private student loans that you may have as well, and be sure to consider talking to any private lenders who may be able to guide you in the right direction.

After you know how much you’re going to be spending on loan repayment on a daily basis, take a moment to see how you budget can be reconfigured to accommodate it.

Protecting Your Property: Should Renter’s Buy Tenant’s Insurance?

Home insurance is often a product that is not always viewed with much enthusiasm when the renewal notice comes through, especially if you have not made a claim for some considerable time, but you pay up in the knowledge that you can’t afford to take any chances and leave yourself uninsured against something going wrong.

If you are renting a property rather than being the owner, you know that the homeowner will pick up the tab for home insurance, but their policy will most likely not give you the coverage you want for your items, so should you consider buying tenant’s insurance?

If you are looking to buy or rent a property, you can view Taylor Estate Agents website amongst others, but if you are renting, here is a look at the pros and cons of renter’s insurance.

A fact of life

If you viewed insurance as a necessary evil you would not be alone, but love it or loathe it, there is no question that having some cover in place to protect you against a problem, whether it is your health or your possessions, is something most of us want.

You might argue that some insurance cover is more important than others, such as life and health insurance, leaving a product like renter’s insurance further down the pecking order, and perhaps making you wonder whether you want the expense of it at all.

Just as needing insurance cover and having to pay for it is a fact of life, having your laptop stolen or some of your property damaged, is also something that could well happen to you at some point.

What does renter’s insurance cover you for?

If you are a tenant, you will expect the landlord to have suitable property insurance in place, but the primary purpose of renter’s insurance is to provide cover in case your possessions are damaged or stolen.

A typical renter’s insurance policy will provide protection against loss or damage for the contents of your home that you own, and that cover often extends to cover some of your belongings when you are away from home as well.

It is never a good idea to assume that your landlord’s insurance provides you with cover for your possessions, so your first task when considering whether to take out renter’s insurance, is to find out what your landlord’s building insurance policy actually covers in terms of what you own in the property.

Liability protection

You will obviously want the peace of mind that an insurance policy can provide regarding your possessions, so that you know you are covered against financial loss, but there is another important aspect attached to having your own policy, which could prove invaluable.

As part of the cover you get with renter’s insurance, you will get liability protection.

This means that if someone is injured in the property, or maybe a dog that you own ends up biting someone, who subsequently sues you, your insurance cover should take care of the legal costs and any damage settlement, in the majority of cases.

Pros and cons

The pros and cons attached to renter’s insurance are fairly easy to identify.

The most obvious advantage of having this insurance cover, is the financial protection that you enjoy, knowing that you will be compensated for your loss if your personal items are stolen or damaged.

The clear negative about renter’s insurance is cost. Paying premiums can be viewed as wasted money, if you end up not making a claim. Add in the fact that there is often a deductible, which could potentially wipe out what you can claim, and you may decide that it is not worth having.

Having a high deductible means that some items you claim for could be worth less than the amount you can get back on the insurance payout, so you can adjust the figure, but that will mean that your premiums rise.

Putting all the relevant pros and cons together and also finding out just what sort of protection that your landlord has already paid for, will help you to decide whether renter’s insurance is a good fit for you or not.

You may well find that the sort of policy you need works out to be fairly inexpensive, but you have to work out how much your possessions are worth and whether the cost of protection is worth it to you.

As a general rule, it is likely that renter’s insurance should be worth having, especially if you bundle it together with some other policies so that you get a better deal, even if you consider it to be a necessary evil.

Jay Ashton has always worked in the real estate business in one form or another. Recently able to get into property investing after an inheritance, he has started to write articles for the up and coming landlord.

Cash Control: Small Steps That Make a Big Difference in Your Spending Habits

There is no need to pretend, for many of us, the idea of sitting down and creating a personal budget and accounting for every cent you spend, is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

You will probably swiftly change your opinion on that chore if you actually put yourself through the seemingly tortuous task of working out where your money is going, and suddenly find the sort of savings that can make it feel like you have had a pay rise.

Short term loans to tide you over can sometimes be a big help to your finances, and you get information from Captain Cash about that, but it also makes sense to try and gain a greater level of control over your cash, by looking at your current spending habits.

Keep it simple

It is a natural human response to feel a bit stressed when faced with something unknown, which is probably the sort of reaction plenty of us get when the latest credit card statement finds its way to you through the mailbox.

Making even a simple budget, will instantly help to ease your anxiety, if you can see what is coming in and what is going out each month. Crunching the numbers and seeing where your cash is going can be a real wake-up call and will quickly reveal whether your spending habits are out of line with your income.

It seems that many of us either don’t keep any kind of budget at all, and an equally large percentage of us tend to keep one in our heads, trusting instinct to know where they stand financially at any given point in the month.

Even a simple budget written down on a sheet of paper listing all your monthly outgoings and adding up your credit card spending, will often be revealing enough to stir you into some sort of action to review your spending habits.

Cash encourages restraint

We get closer to a cashless society with every year that passes so it does feel a bit strange to get a pile of cash out of the bank and try to live off that instead of using your cards, but you will be amazed what a difference it will make to your spending.

Numerous studies have often come to the same conclusion that most of us would be willing to spend more on something like a ticket to a game or a concert for example, if we pay by card rather than using cash.

It is so easy to just wipe your card and take your purchase, but if you have to pay cash for everything in the store or on a night out, you will almost certainly feel like you are actually spending real money and as a result, show a lot more restraint.

Try allocating some cash for groceries, entertainment and other routine purchases. Make a weekly budget on what you want to spend in each category and can afford, then leave the cards at home.

Your basket at the grocery store will probably not be overflowing with treats that you probably don’t really need anyway when you pay with cash, so try it and see what a difference it can make, or at least adopt the mindset that you are paying with real money not plastic, next time you are shopping.

Do you know if you are overspending?

You will have a certain financial personality that can probably be defined in a particular category, even if you don’t think so.

It might be for example, that you are a serial overspender. Ask yourself some searching questions about your financial habits and situation and you will probably get the answer.

Some of the classic signs of an overspender are when you are still paying bills from purchases that you made at least 12 months ago, and another common trait, is to always use credit cards instead of cash, even when it is a small purchase and you had the change available in cash.

Another classic warning sign is when your checking account is frequently overdrawn and also when your paycheck gets swallowed up each month, leaving you with an anxious few days or weeks as the month progresses, before you get another injection of funds.

If you are often running out of money completely and find that even a minor unexpected expense can cause chaos, there is a good chance that you are an overspender and need to commit to doing that budget as soon as possible.

It often takes only a few small steps in the right direction to put your finances on track, and this can make a big difference to your spending habits and improve your financial position quicker than you might imagine.

Eloise Poole has worked in finance all her working life, first in the credit department, then moving into a general personal finance consultancy role. She wants to help people succeed with their finances and spends some of her free time writing personal finance articles.

Don’t Take the Deal: Three Alternatives to Payday Loans

There is no question that you do have to behave responsibly and employ some clear thinking about your financial situation, if you are contemplating applying for a payday loan.

If you need a short term loan that gives you more flexibility on the repayment date, there are services like Moneyboat UK and other similar lenders, who do offer an alternative to getting yourself into a payday loan scenario.

Payday lenders under pressure

The fact that some payday lenders have attracted the attention of the Competition and Markets Authority, who are proposing that these lenders list their interest rates on price comparison sites, is an indication of the high cost of this form of borrowing.

One of the main concerns about these payday loans is that due to the very high interest rates they normally charge, any sort of default or late payment could very quickly escalate into a scenario where your financial situation worsens, as you try to service a higher level of debt.

The Financial Conduct Authority produce annual figures on the level of borrowing associated with payday lenders and lending levels are in the region of £2.5 billion, with some borrowers signing up for as many as six payday loans during a 12 month period.

With the interest rates being charged by payday lenders coming under scrutiny, consumer groups tend to suggest that you need to file this sort of service under the “last resort” category.

There are normally a number of viable alternatives, so here are some options to consider.

Start out on the credit repair route

A number of borrowers are likely to view payday lenders as their last option, especially if they currently have a poor credit history and their options are therefore limited.

If your credit file is not exactly perfect, that will limit your borrowing options to a certain extent, depending on how bad the information on you is. If you have missed a few payments, this can be viewed more leniently than if you have court judgments for example.

Your goal should be to try and repair your credit score so that you can qualify for more lending options. Having a better credit score will often be reflected in the interest rate that you are charged.

One way to get on the credit report road to recovery would be to apply for what are referred to as “credit repair” credit cards. These credit cards start off with a low credit limit, which is increased as you demonstrate your ability to make payments on time, so they can give you access to some funds, at a much lower rate than you would be charged for a payday loan, and you improve your credit rating at the same time.

Join a credit union

There are plenty of credit unions around and there may be a suitable one to join in your area.

The benefits attached to joining a credit union, if you meet their acceptance criteria, is that it opens up the possibility of being granted a small short term loan when you need it, at rates that are much lower than a payday loan.

You will find that some credit unions offer free financial counselling if you are experiencing difficulties, and they also offer a savings plan that should allow you to get a bit of money behind you, and might even allow you to qualify for a larger loan through the credit union at some point.

A payday loan from your employer

If you need to borrow some money for a financial emergency and can pay it back from your wages when you next get paid, it makes more sense to approach to your employer rather than go to a payday lender.

Some employers definitely do agree to provide advances on your salary and because this is an advance on money you are due to be paid rather than a loan, there should be no interest to pay.

It is not ideal to start taking money from your next wages payment and if you find yourself needing this help on a regular basis, you should take a good look at your finances to see what you can change.

If you do need an advance until payday, there is no doubt that if your employer does agree to provide this facility, it is a much cheaper option than going to a payday lender.

If you do need to borrow some money, explore the options available, such as short term loans, “credit repair” credit cards or credit union loans, as these should save you a fair amount of interest and therefore allow you to hopefully get your finances back on track faster than you first thought.

Nicholas Krauspe is the Head of Operations at MoneyBoat.co.uk, a London based alternative finance company providing unsecured consumer credit to residents of the UK. Nicholas has over 10 years of operations and management experience in the consumer finance sector.

What is More Sustainable than Living Off your Dividends

When I question whether something is sustainable I think of whether “it” can be responsibly maintained.  The goal of creating a dividend income stream should be to eventually use just the dividends letting the principal continue to grow.  It is analogous to living off the fruits of a tree rather than cutting down the tree itself, dividend payments can eventually provide an income stream that is sustainable since you don’t have to erode the principal.

This post was inspired by an interesting post the other day from a great dividend sites Sure Dividend that explored the idea of dividends paying stocks like a tree,

You start with something small – an actual seed, or a bit of hard-earned money.

Before you plant your seed or invest your money, you have to find the right place to put your tree seed or your money. Throwing a seed onto a rock will not do, nor will investing in a business on its last legs.

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Over time, your sapling becomes a tree. It now is producing seeds of its own. Your dividend stock’s payments have grown over time. In both cases, the cycle begins anew.

The tree’s seeds beget more trees. The dividend stock’s dividend payments are reinvested into other high quality dividend growth stocks.

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Once your first tree produces other trees, eventually you will have a forest of trees – let’s say they are fruit bearing trees.

You can now happily live off the sustenance your fruit trees provide.

Dividend stocks are the same way. Over time, your dividend income will grow. You will be able to live on the dividend payments of your dividend stocks.

Your Goal Should be to Live off the Dividends and Leave the Principal

Every time you eat into principal you are affecting your future income.  If you have a $500,000 portfolio yielding 4% ($20,000), but you sell another $20,000 of principal you are looking at $480,000 if that were to yield that same 4% (ignoring the growth of the underlying assets) you are looking $19,200 the following year.  Again, this is compounded when you still need that same $40,000 (now it is $19,200 of dividends and $20,800 of principal0.  In addition to the natural erosion of principal the problem compounds itself if it is a down year.

I am not sure if I’ll ever be able to a large enough portfolio where I can solely live off the dividends, but it’ll be a nice part of the income investments I’d like to create over the next few decades.