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One of the best ways to keep yourself on track financially is to have financial milestones that you would like to meet by a certain date. When you have goals to start you on the right financial path early on, that helps you build up good habits for the future. The earlier you start making good financial choices, the better you will be in the long run. In this post, we will explain seven of the most important milestones in your early adulthood into middle age, explain a good age range for hitting them, and talk about why they are important.

1. Become Free of Debt

Rising tuition and increasing costs of living mean that more and more people are starting out their careers with debt. Student debt, car loans, credit card debt, mortgages- these are all possibilities. One goal to hit as soon as possible is to pay off all of your debt. The longer you keep debt, the more interest you need to pay. Aim to have your debt paid off as soon as you can. It is difficult to specify a good timeline for becoming debt free because everyone’s debt load and income are different, but it should always be a priority.

2. Learn Your Credit Score

The federal government hosts a website where you can obtain a free credit report per year at www.annualcreditreport.com. That includes your credit score and other things you should know, like whether you have a delinquent account, or if there is an error in your report, or if your identity has been stolen and someone is making charges in your name. It is good to get into the habit of regularly checking your credit report. Some credit cards provide you with your credit score for free, but for a full report you have to do it yourself. You can do this as soon as you start building credit history with a student loan, credit card, or similar financial instrument.

3. Build Your Emergency Fund

Emergency funds are important to have in case you suddenly need to spend money. There are many reasons this might occur- you might need to fly home, you might lose your job and need to live on savings, or you have an accident and need to pay medical costs. As soon as you get your first job, start setting aside money in an emergency fund. A good rule of thumb is to have a few months’ worth of pay sacked away. That obviously takes time to build up. You don’t need to starve yourself to get it done, but within a year or so of getting a job, aim to have a few thousand put away.

4. Save for Retirement

This one is critical. You need to begin putting money away for retirement as soon as you get your very first paycheck. Starting early makes an enormous difference, because you will be investing money for decades, and the earlier you get started, the more years of compound interest you get. If your employer offers any kind of matching for contributions to a 401(k) or IRA, take full advantage. Talk to a financial professional for specific advice if you need it, but the bottom line is that you need to start saving for retirement as soon as you get the opportunity.

5. Make a Budget

You can start making a budget as soon as you have income, even if it’s a work-study job at college or a part-time first job. It’s good to get in the habit of setting a budget every month so you understand where your money comes from and where it goes. That way, if you need to cut back, you know where you can afford to reduce your spending. The more you practice with it, the less time it will take. A basic budget can scale up so that the same techniques you use to categorize your spending and income can keep working for you for your whole life. Having some experience with this early on will put you a step ahead of everyone else.

6. Think About a Side Gig

There are many ways to scratch out a second source of income, and depending on your job and hours, it might not be a bad idea to spend some time on that. This isn’t a traditional second job. A side job is smaller than a full job, and should be flexible to fit your schedule. There are many ways to do this. Freelancing is popular, as is transcription work, ad rating, and Mechanical Turk. If you think creatively and look around for advice online, you will quickly see there are many sources of income that consist of small tasks you can do from home and on your own time.

7. Figure Our Your Net Worth

Your net worth is a good measure of the overall state of your finances. To obtain it, add up the value of any assets you own, like a car, house, bank accounts, and your personal possessions, and then subtract your total debt. Include all kinds of debt- credit cards, student loans, car loans, mortgages, and anything else you might have. The result is your net worth. If you thought that you were in good financial shape, but your net worth is actually negative, then that should be a wakeup call for you. It is a good idea to check on your net worth every now and then. If you want to learn more about the debt, try making a graph where you divide your total debt into the different sources of debt you have.

Financial literacy and stability is much easier to achieve with a good foundation of healthy habits. That comes from starting early. These milestones are within the grasp of just about anyone with a job, and starting out with them early on means that you will maintain these habits later in life. The key to financial success is discipline, and these habits build the right kind of discipline.

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Traveling to foreign countries requires cash when you are on the ground. You bring along money that will help you have fun on your trip, but you cannot take cash indiscriminately. Search for the best exchange rate you can find for your cash, and ensure you are using the steps listed in this article. Each step explains how you can use cash in a foreign country without losing money when you exchange from country to country.

#1: Use Your Bank

Your personal bank is the best place to get good exchange rates when you are traveling abroad. There is no guarantee that your bank will have branches in the countries you visit, but you may ask your bank for assistance finding better exchange rates. Partnering banks will help you get better exchange rates, and your account status will help you receive the rates you require.

Your bank will take note of your trip when you go abroad, and the bank will convert your money at the best exchange rate available. You may shop with your credit or debit card when you are abroad, and the bank will give you favorable rates that allow you to save money while shopping.

#2: Use Local Visitor’s Centers

The tourism and visitor’s centers you visit have exchange rate information and cash to trade. You will get the exchange rate listed on the window when you enter the facility, and you may exchange cash at any time when visiting the center. Every large city around the world has these visitor’s centers, and you may exchange currency in every location you visit. Going to the visitor’s center is the fastest way to exchange cash, and you can walk to many centers from train stations of airport in foreign cities.

#3: Use Traveler’s Checks

Traveler’s checks are still the best form of cash you can carry when you travel. The checks may be replaced at any time, and the checks can be used like cash in most locations. The bank you purchase your checks from will help with exchange rates, and you must learn the rates when you travel to new countries. The bank will send out more information on exchange rates when you travel to new countries, and you may exchange your money at the best possible times.

#4: Working With Local Vendors

The exchange rates in places around the world are not a concern to local vendors. Working with local vendors helps you save money because prices are fluid. You may barter and trade with local vendors around the world who are not concerned with the exchange rates you get for your cash. The American dollar is so valuable in many countries around the world that a few dollars will buy many things. Do not attempt to overanalyze how much money something costs in a foreign country when you can part with a few dollars easily.

#5: Exchange Cash Before You Leave

You may take out cash from your account before you leave for your trip. Budgeting for your trip is simple, and you can exchange for foreign currency at the bank branch before you leave. File all your cash in envelopes that you will use in each location, and ensure that you have enough money for each stop on your trip. You will receive excellent exchange rates at your local bank, and you need not make extra trips for cash when you visit foreign destinations.

#6: Exchange In Large Cities

The largest cities in the world have banks that can handle your currency exchanges. You may find a branch of your bank in a large city, and you may complete the transactions in each major city before you move on to new places on your journey. The largest banks in the biggest cities are going to help you find new cash that you need for the trip.

#7: Exchange Foreign Currency

Exchange your foreign currency when you come to a new country in a local bank. You may receive better exchange rates when you come to a bank in a new country, and you should not use American dollars in certain countries. You can call your bank for help with the exchange rates on certain currencies, and the bank will be prepared to offer you good rates when you visit certain locations.

#8: Visit Foreign Powers

You may visit foreign powers that have the strongest currencies, and the exchange rates will be much more favorable than what you would receive in your local bank. Do some research on the exchange rates in foreign countries before you leave for your trip. You may make a profit on some of the exchanges you make, and it is possible that your trip will pay for itself in certain locations. Do not take the first exchange rate you see unless you have done some research on the places you will visit.

#9: Use Credit Cards

Credit cards in foreign countries will give you good exchange rates that were derived for your account. Credit card providers will help you get better exchange rates on your purchases, and you need not use the credit cards at specific times or on specific days. Your trips will be much more exciting if you are not concerned with the exchange rates you are getting in each new location. Your vacations and business trips become cheaper when the credit card company offers you better exchange rates.

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A person’s credit score is a bit of a snapshot of their financial history. With a multitude of factors influencing the overall rating, called a FICO score, credit reports can be a bit of a mystery as to how they are calculated. The general premise is simple, however, and should be well known for the fiscally conscious. To know the ins and outs of keeping a healthy credit score is the key to receiving access to better interest rates and more credit availability.

What is a Credit Score?

In a nutshell, a credit score is a numerical rating as to how trustworthy the score holder is in terms of lending. A higher rating will show that the score holder is a person with a strong background of borrowing and repaying, and in general knows how to deal with loans. Conversely, a lower credit score shows that the individual either does not have much experience with lending and repayment practices, or has proven to not be capable of repayment in the past. Having a lower score will block individuals from acquiring loans with lower interests rates and of larger amounts. This can affect purchasing a home, a car, a general purpose loan, or any other countless financial activities.

What Affects a Credit Score?

There are only a few major factors that are taken into account when a FICO score is generated. These different statistics give an accurate snapshot of how willing a borrower is to repay loans responsibly and effectively. The biggest factors are:

-Payment History

Responsible for roughly 1/3 of a person’s FICO rating is payment history. This mainly involves paying borrowed money back on time and in sufficient amount. Borrowed money can include credit cards, home loans, and vehicle loans to name but a few. For a borrower, showing lenders that they are going to receive the previously specified payments in a timely manner will have an enormous impact on credit ratings.

Negatively impacting factors in terms of payment history include bankruptcy, foreclosures, and liens on a borrower’s property. All of these show that the borrower was not willing or able to repay previous debts and had to be forced to comply with the loan agreements. For financial institutions looking to lend money to a person who has declared bankruptcy in the past, the institutions will be significantly less confident that they will receive their money back in a reliable manner.

-Total Debt

Accounting for approximately 30% of a credit score is the amount of total debt owed. The amount a person owes to lenders of all types versus how much credit they have access to can be a major implication of whether or not a person can manage their debt effectively. For example, if a borrower has a credit limit of $5,000 on a card but only $500 in debt, they will show that they are able to responsibly use their card. If that same person decides to pay all of their bills and maxes out their credit card, however, it has a good chance of lowering their FICO score. This all has to do with how a lender can perceive the responsibility of a borrower.

-Length of Credit History

Younger generations will typically have more difficulty securing loans, but not because of their age directly. As previously mentioned, a FICO score is essentially a trust assessment, and young persons who have no history of paying debt will not have an accurate indicator as to whether or not they will follow through with loan agreements. Length of credit history is not as major as the previously mentioned factors, as it only accounts for roughly 15% of a FICO score. While 15% is not an insignificant amount, length of credit history is something that can only be increased slowly over time by responsibly borrowing and paying off debt.

-New Lines of Credit

A very common variable in terms of credit scoring is new credit. When calculating a FICO score, credit institutions typically view borrowers who rapidly open multiple lines of credit as people who are either struggling financially or are expecting to take on a large amount of debt. This can range from either applying for multiple credit cards within a short time period or having credit checks performed while applying for mortgage or vehicular loans. When a mortgage lender is looking at a potential borrower to determine their viability in terms of interest rates and loan amounts, they will be more wary if multiple recent credit lines have been established.

-Multiple Lines of Credit

When a FICO score is being generated, only about 10% of the overall score is affected by having credit from multiple sources. When comparing a borrower who has one source of credit to a borrower who has multiple sources from different institutions, the latter will be considered more trustworthy. A person who manages to pay off a home loan and multiple auto loans will obviously be more well versed in lending practices than a person who has one unused credit card. Multiple lines of credit is not one of the factors that has the most impact, but is still something to consider for those looking to expand their credit report while thinking of future investments.

What Does Not Affect a Credit Score?

There are several factors that have nothing to do with a FICO rating that may not be obvious. A few of these factors include:

  • Monthly income – while lenders do look at monthly eligibility for payments, they are more focused on willingness to pay loans back rather than capacity.
  • Age – credit age is a factor, but a debtor’s age is not. This leaves young people at a natural disadvantage, but only a minor one.
  • Gender – the gender of a debtor is not able to be reliably determined by credit reports, and is not a factor.

Knowing how to manage a credit score is an enormous leg up for would be homeowners, car owners, and anybody seeking to afford major items without having to pay cash up front. To know how a FICO score is determined is to know how to better take advantage of it, which means better interest rates and lower monthly payments. Taking into account the major factors listed above and applying them on a month to month basis is a sure fire way for a borrower to live within their means while consistently increasing their credit rating.

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Living in an expensive city can help residents lead happier lives, but lives are not made purely from expenses. Residents must understand what an expensive city does for them when they live in the heart of it all. Anyone considering a move to a large city with a high cost of living must read further to learn what an expensive city offers. These cities may require more money to live a comfortable lifestyle, but these cities offer things smaller towns cannot.

#1: Connections

A large and expensive city always has people who share interests with other residents. Any resident with any hobby may find people with similar interests living in town, and there are likely groups meeting in the city over these interests.

Connections in the business world are more likely to happen in a large or expensive city. Employees who live in the heart of a large city will meet people in the same field every day. These meetings happen by chance, and connections are made that can last a lifetime. The luckiest of residents may find new jobs through these connections, and a network of friends will grow in a new city.

#2: Space

A large and expensive city has more space for everything. Residents have their choice of several different places to live, companies may move their offices to prime locations and there is commerce on every street corner. New residents in town may be overwhelmed by the choices they have, but these choices make the city a more fun place to live.

Residents may move to any part of the city they choose, and residents may shop in any part of the city they choose. The commerce on every street corner prevents residents from traveling too far from home to shop, and each community has an insular group of people that make their part of town interesting to live in.

The largest and most expensive cities to live in also make space for parks within their borders. A quaint park just around the block from the apartment gives residents a place to relax or get some fresh air. The parks are wonderful places to take children, hold meetings, or go on a date. The parks bring color to the city that is not provided by the buildings, and the local fauna will congregate in the city parks.

#3: Music

Large cities have a host of arts events going on every week. There may be a full-time symphony orchestra in town, and it is possible that orchestra supports an opera house. Large cities have museums that help to enrich the mind, and there are bars or clubs where bands play every night of the week.

Someone who loves the arts can find something to do in the city, and a large city provides opportunities for musicians to work. A musician who prefers to take gigs with local groups can find jobs within a few days of arriving in town. The arts community trickles down to theater and art performance groups that make the city interesting every day. There will always be an event in a large city that has the resources to host such events.

#4: Sporting Events

The most expensive cities in the world play host to national and international sporting events all the time. The greatest cities in the world have hosted the Olympics. There are cases in which a city has hosted the Olympics more than once, and major sporting events follow the Olympics to town. Any city could host the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series, World Cup soccer games, international soccer friendlies or major golf tournaments.

The local sports teams in a large city have financial backing that makes their games good fun for the family, and local sports teams that play well have a following in the city residents can get behind. Someone who is passionate about sports will never run out of sporting events to see.

#5: International Events

Residents in large cities can make connections easily, and large cities attract international conferences. People from all over the world will flock to the local convention center for a conference that is of interest to many residents. Residents may take a half day off work to go to the conference, and these conferences may be fit for the whole family to attend.

#6: Media Consumption

A large city that is expensive to live in brings about more media attention than a smaller city. Movies are filmed in nice cities, and TV shows call nice cities home. Residents may see famous movie stars working on the set, or a television show could be based in the city. Residents get the magical experience of feeling like they are part of the entertainment they see, and the movies reflect the city back to its residents.

#7: Will You Be Happier?

No one is guaranteed to live a happier life by living in an expensive city, but an expensive city offers all the necessary tools for a happy life. Arts, culture, commerce, business and leisure come to large cities every year. Residents get to partake in the culture of a city that feeds off its own size to create more opportunities for its residents. There is something to do nearly every night of the week, and there is the prospect of even greater things happening in the future. The expensive city is a breeding ground for a fulfilling life.

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Money is a necessary tool for living in today’s society. However, all too often we let the tool control us. If we forget that money is a tool and think only about its necessity, money quickly takes control of our lives.

How do you know if you are a slave to money? The answer has nothing to do with wealth or class. The poor, middle class, and rich of all professions can be trapped by money. It has nothing to do with personality. People can be kind, cold, or sweet, but have financial problems. It doesn’t even have anything to do with their outward management of money. Spendthrifts and coupon-clippers may both be slaves to their paychecks. The only gauge is your direct relationship with your money.

Do you work for money or does it work for you?

Money has energy and force, which is why it can accomplish so much. You need to know if your money is using its energy to work for you? Is it helping you accomplish your goals? Is it creating more money? Or is it applying all of its pressure on you, making you work harder?

Are you stuck in the debt cycle?

The most obvious slaves are those trapped in the debt cycle. If you buy first and pay later you immediately become a slave. You must now earn money for your creditors instead of yourself. This creates large amounts of stress and you lose the freedom to dictate where your money goes. Before you even receive your paycheck, it is divided between government taxes, bills and creditors. Those who continue the debt cycle spend their entire lives making money for other people. However, debt is just one indication of slavery.

Where is your money directed?

Money can use its force to help you, if you give it direction. It can generate more assets and lessen liabilities. Money can work and generate assets through investing. It is smart to always have some amount kept safe, but the rest should be out working. This creates financial freedom.

Are your dreams controlled by the amount of money you earn?

Money is a necessary tool for most dreams and aspirations. It should not dictate whether the dream is possible. People who are a slave to money say things like, “I can’t afford to travel to Europe” or “It isn’t possible to start my own business in this market.” People who know that money is a tool say, “This is what I want to do. Now how do I use my money to accomplish it?” Since the first type of person is controlled by money, they rarely achieve any of their ambitions. The second type of person almost always succeeds because they see money as a problem to be fixed instead of as a locked cage.

Do you manage finances reactively or proactively?

We have looked at money’s side of the slave equation; now let’s look at your side. The path to slavery or freedom begins in the mind. It comes down to whether you manage your finances reactively or proactively. The reactive manager acts before thinking of the financial implications. He is then stuck working to make up for that action. The proactive manager is deliberate. She considers all of the implications, arranges her finances to help her and then acts. After the process is complete she is free to start something else. The reactive manager is never free because he impulsively begins another process before the first is complete.

Do you know what your money is doing at all times?

The free man knows at all times whether or not his money is working for him and how much it is earning. He knows exactly what he should and should not do with his money at the moment. The slave is impulsive. She usually doesn’t know where her finances stand. She fulfills a want then goes home to see what damage has been done. Each purchase becomes a slave driver and it loses its charm. This is why, for many people, money can never bring happiness. It instead brings slavery. If managed proactively, however, money can bring freedom, which certainly brings greater joy.

Do you pay yourself first?

Those who understand how to use money know the importance of paying themselves first. If money is a tool, then it is imperative to use it to progress. Money slaves pay everyone else first and rarely have anything left over. Paying yourself first means immediately putting some money into savings or investments. It does not mean splurging at the mall. That is just another way of paying others first.

Are you generous?

This final test may seem unusual, but it is just as important as the others. Those who fear generosity are slaves to their money, whether they have a lot of it or a little. For the slave, money is the illusion of freedom. They believe that if they start earning enough they will finally be financially free. They don’t realize it is their habits that keep them in bondage, not their money. They hold tight to the illusion. They say things such as, “I worked hard for this money and I need it” or “When I have more, then I will give.” Those who see money as a tool are much more willing to share. They recognize that the tool can always be used to create more money.

Most people in today’s society are slaves. Odds are, if you fit in perfectly with the crowd you are a slave. The first step to freedom is recognition. If you recognize the ways in which money is controlling your life, then you know what to change to finally make money work for you.

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If you cannot save money, it may actually be a personality trait that is causing you trouble. Although you cannot use this as an excuse, it is definitely good to identify problems like this so that they can be targeted and eliminated. Here are some of the reasons that your personality may make it harder to save.

Are you insecure?

Most of the first world lives in a consumer economy. Advertisers have all of the power, and they use it to make you believe that you do not have any balance in your own life. You are constantly barraged with messages of not being good enough, and the brands that you purchase do not only reflect the quality of service that you get, they reflect who you are.

Insecure people may have a much more difficult time separating the true performance of a product from the branding effort that is going on behind the scenes. In order to create a more balanced viewpoint and save more, it may be necessary to away from media as a whole.

You must learn not to let your ego make your purchases for you. Delve into the true nature of product quality, and you the biggest brands are not necessarily the best buys. You should also take a look at the financial life of secure and wealthy people. Many of them live a very understated lifestyle. However, the freedom that they have to do anything they want is more than a reward – it is a luxury.

Are you impulsive?

Just like advertisers have graphic designers to make their brands look incredibly good on television and on the Internet, they also have merchandisers negotiate placement deals with retail outlets. This is the reason that you have relatively cheap candy bars right by the cashier checkout desk in your grocery store. This is not the place to put a $10 health drink and no one would buy it there. Rest assured that you are being pulled in many directions on purpose by the professionals in the advertising industry.

One of the ways to get away from impulse buying is to have a schedule for yourself every time you go shopping. For instance, if you have a grocery list with just enough money to get the things on that list, you will be much less likely to make any impulse buys when you actually go to the grocery store.

You can also create a goal for yourself that will encourage you to save money. This goal should be out of reach of your current financial situation – you should have to actively change your spending habits in order to reach this goal. The goal should also be incredibly attractive to you. Perhaps it is a vacation that you have been looking to take for years. Maybe it is starting your own business or paying for a wedding. Maybe you are looking to have some assets to pass down to your children. Whatever the goal, be sure that it is high enough and attractive enough that you have to stretch in order to reach it. Only then will you be able to change your behavior and save over the long-term.

Are you impatient?

From games to vacations, advertisers have always been able to place a premium on being a first mover. If you make a pre-purchase before a product has actually hit retail or you are the first to try a new brand, you get some offer that is simply too good to be true. The companies that are behind these efforts understand that certain people have a need to be first. They simply want to show off for their friends, and they will do anything to be at the head of the line.

If you are trying to save money and still be on the cutting edge of your social circle, there are ways to do it without cutting your budget. You can become a focus group tester for corporations and receive free products that have not yet hit retail. This has the advantage of actually paying you to test products rather than you paying the company to do so. Many companies also have mail in coupons that they place in inconspicuous locations, knowing that no customer will actually take the time to use them. You need to use them.

Are you fearful?

It can be quite difficult to put off the pleasure of today for a promise of better living tomorrow. Advertisers definitely play off of this fear, uplifting the “you only live once” lifestyle even as every balanced financial advisor on the planet says to save more than you spend.

Some people are even afraid of money. This is a mindset that has come out of the cultures of many working-class and lower-class people. Many of them do not understand the notion of investing for the future. They may have never owned their own businesses, and they may have always relied on someone else to take all of the risk in return for a so-called secure paycheck. When these people get money, they actually want to spend it as fast as possible. They have never had it before, and they do not know what to do with it when they get it.

Learning about money is best way to get over the fear of money. There are more resources than ever for learning about money. If you do not have any ideas about what to do with your expendable income the next time you get some, a class about finances would solve both of your problems at the same time. You would then see how the opportunities for people with just a little bit of money can free you from a lifestyle of thinking in a fearful way.

If you have any of the personality traits above, you should definitely look into a master class about finances. Learning just how truly difficult it is to hold on to money may change your perspective on the way that you use in your daily life. Make sure that you do not do things with money just because your neighbor is doing them – he or she may not understand anything more than you do. Education is the key; positive changes in behavior are usually the result. Take the chance to free yourself financially, and the self-imposed limits on your life will soon disappear.

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You may just be coming of age, or you may have received a windfall of expendable income that you are looking to spend in the right way. If you have been following the news, then you have been hearing a great deal of positive things about the market in general. This may have piqued a desire in you to invest in some way. Before you make this complicated decision, you must answer a twofold question:

Is now the time to invest in the market?

Is now the time for me to invest?

Investing in the Market

The market as a whole is never something to invest in or not to invest in. People make money whether the market is going up or down. In order to determine if you should invest, you should first understand the angle from which you will attack the market.

The most successful investors of all time, people such as Peter Lynch and Warren Buffett, have been able to stay in the market and make money during the 90s Internet boom and the worst recessions in all of humanity. What is the secret? Although there is no such thing as a simple solution to making money in the marketplace, the closest thing to this solution might be encapsulated in this quote from Peter Lynch: “I don’t invest. I pick money up off of the sidewalk.”

What Peter Lynch was getting at was the way that most people think of investing versus the way that winners think of investing. There is no need to stay in the market putting money into places that are not profitable just to say that you are an investor to your friends. The only time that you need to be in the market is if you see a true opportunity to make money.

This does not mean that you are going into the market like an opportunistic day trader. Neither Lynch nor Buffett is a short term investor. The time window for an investment that you discern as a positive opportunity may be years, not hours or days. What is necessary is the discipline to discern these opportunities and act on them in a decisive manner.

Another thing to consider is that the two investors Lynch and Buffett are moving into and out of the market at different times. This means that there is no “good” or “bad” times for the market – there is only proper capitalization on opportunity.

How do you know what to invest in?

When you are looking to invest in the market, you should really be looking for the angle. You can only invest in one part of a market at a time, so it behooves you to know everything that you can about that piece of the market. If you have an intricate knowledge of one stock, you can play that stock for your entire life and make money, ignoring the rest of the market entirely.

The research that you do will determine when it is a proper time to invest in the market for you. If you have an interest in a certain stock or industry, then learn everything that you can about it. Follow the stock or the industry and paper trade it before you put real money on the line. Once you are able to discern the patterns of the stock/industry and how people respond to news in that stock/industry, then you have a much better chance of making money when you invest.

How do you know when it is a proper time to invest for you?

No matter how good your research abilities may be, there is still a risk of loss when it comes to investing in any part of the market. This risk of loss means that you must be able to withstand losing your entire investment without lowering your quality of life. In order to determine when it is a proper time to invest for you, you must determine how you manage your personal finances.

Your Personal Finances and Investing

There are a few rules about certain types of investments – you must have US $25,000 in an investment account in order to day trade. You must have at least US $100,000 of net worth before you can become involved in certain types of small, private business investments. Even though these rules stand, there are truly no barriers to entry if you are looking to begin investing in the market in some way. Even these rules can be completely flouted if you have the right connections.

This means that you must create your own internal barriers when it comes to investing in the market. The lack of rules also means that no one will care if you lose your entire investment. In some cases, you may even end up owing money to a creditor. There are ways to invest in the market that are more like a lottery, and if you fall for those investments and lose, you can create a great deal of financial trouble for yourself in a matter of minutes.

Your personal finances should be in order before you start investing in stocks, options or ETFs. Mutual funds and bonds are safer investments that may be a better solution for people who are looking to invest and not follow the investments on a daily basis. Here are a few of the rules that smart investors impose on themselves before they begin to invest in earnest.

First of all, all debts are paid.

For most investors, all debts are paid including the home mortgage. This is especially true if a person is day trading, which is a fast-paced and highly risky form of trading. Most day traders do not have credit cards, and they are able to pay their daily expenses from the interest off of capital that they have already set aside.

Secondly, their investment strategies are hard boiled.

You would be hard pressed to get a professional tech investor looking at the textiles market, and vice versa. Only amateur traders follow “hot tips” without a centered focus in an industry. Pro traders do not mind if they lose money if the investment that made money was outside of their wheelhouse. Warren Buffett did not invest at all in the huge 90s tech bubble that made Mark Cuban a billionaire – yet they stand side by side as rich men. Your investment strategy may be different from that of your neighbor, but that does not mean that you cannot both be rich. Sticking to your guns is the most important factor.

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Are you in a relationship where one person makes more money than the other? In most households, this occurs more often than not. One person is usually the breadwinner of the family and the other either stays at home or provides a supplemental income. If this is true in your situation, do you ever feel resentful over the situation?

Bringing Home The Bacon

Usually, one person will be the person who does the providing for the family. Without this job, the family would struggle. The supplemental income, however, is also key in being able to be kept afloat, so the person making less money should be in no way felt to be inferior because of the amount of money they are bringing home. In a marriage or partnership, the amount of money should not constitute which person is more important. Both need to see the money as one lump sum to be distributed together to pay bills and save.

When One Feels Inferior

If you are the one bringing home less money, does it make you feel like you are inferior to your partner? Do you feel like your contribution is just trivial and not really a solid income? If so, you need to reassess the way you view your monetary income. Although your spouse is making more money than you are, it doesn’t mean they are any more important than you are. You are most likely taking one more at home if you aren’t working as many hours. You might be taking care of children while your partner is out making money, which is equally important when you look at the entire picture.

The way people perceive others contributes to the feelings you have about your income. If you are used to making more money, and there is a setback where your partner needs to carry you through, your self-esteem is likely to suffer. You might start becoming resentful, and take it out on the person who is helping keep you afloat.

Unfortunately, the person making more money may feel upset about the situation, as well. They most likely are not upset that you are making less than they are, at all. Instead they may feel guilty for making you feel inferior and may try to hide their success so you do not feel as ashamed or angry about the situation. These feelings by both parties can escalate if they are not addressed, and they could lead to fighting and bad feelings. It is best to get your feelings out into the open with each other in an attempt at being able to express yourself and make the other person empathize with each other’s situation.

Battle Of The Sexes

If you are male, and your female partner is making more money than you are at the moment, there are bound to be some hard feelings. Since society often tries to portray the male in a relationship to be the breadwinner, it can make both partners a little uneasy when the tables are turned. The times are different now, however, and more and more female workers are pushing themselves up the food chain, grabbing higher paying jobs as a result.

If this is happening in your relationship, you need to put things into perspective. No longer is the female thought of as the one to stay at home cooking and cleaning. Child-rearing is being done more than ever by males throughout the country, while the female counterpart brings home the funds needed to survive. The main thing to consider is that all family members are cared for monetarily and emotionally.

If you are having hard feelings about your partner making more than you do, you may want to sit down and discuss the issue with him or her so he or she is aware of your feelings. Your partner most likely feels bad about the situation as well, and feels like he or she may be stepping on your toes in taking away the prominent role of the household. The best way to hand the overall situation is through discussion. You may be able to think of a few ways to increase your own pay as a result. Instead of feeling resentment, try to feel proud of your partner for the success they have within their job.

Working Together

The best way to solve one person making more than the other in a relationship, is to get it all out on the line with each other so you can discuss how you feel about the situation. Trying to change the mindset about one person being the breadwinner and the other not being as successful can make a huge difference in how each person is perceived. For the person working less hours or making less money than the other, there can be other pluses in their contributions to the daily household chores. They can help by trying to save money when making purchasing decisions or by helping the person doing the most work stay comfortable and stress-free.

The person doing the higher-paying job should try to see the positives the other person contributes to the household. They need to make an effort to appreciate the help they give. They may be able to encourage their partner to find a better paying job or to go back to school. By working through the problem together, the partnership will remain in tact. It is always in the best interest of both parties to discuss this with their partners instead of holding it inside. Keeping secrets will just harbor bad feelings that can end up turning into a full-blown fight later on down the line. If you feel embarrassed to discuss the situation or if you end up fighting about money constantly whenever the subject is brought up, you may want to consider counseling together to try to sort through your feelings about the topic.

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Most people agree that saving money is an important part of a wise money management plan. However, they often disagree about how much to save or what to spend it on at some future point. A savings account of any type or amount is better than none at all. However, there are several saving mistakes to be avoided that may lead to more problems than benefits.

Saving too little

Starting a saving plan is an important step in the right direction for managing your money. When you set aside money from each paycheck to be used for a designated purpose like a household emergency or college tuition, you can rest assured that expenses like these, planned or otherwise, will be covered without dipping into the regular monthly budget. However, saving a small amount per month may hardly be worth the effort in the event a major expense should occur.

Many financial experts recommend saving ten percent to twenty percent of the take-home paycheck, if possible. If that is not feasible at present, work toward that goal by saving whatever you can and increasing that amount when you get a pay raise, a bonus, or unexpected income.

Saving too much

Some savers become zealous in their quest to quickly save up thousands of dollars. Although their intentions are good, the logic may be faulty if they end up saving so much that it cuts into the monthly expenses to cause a shortfall. If that happens, the saver may end up borrowing money to cover living expenses in order to avoid reducing the savings account. It is best to establish a reasonable budget that includes a savings account that won’t take away from regular expenses.

Easy access to savings

Having savings funds readily available can be tempting. If someone runs short of regular income or finds that money is needed for a variety of needs, tapping the accessible savings account might be the response. Unless the withdrawn funds can be quickly replaced, it is likely the savings account will remain low and may continue to be drained sporadically rather than building up consistently. A better strategy might be to invest the savings funds in an account that cannot be immediately accessed without a penalty.

Unplanned spending

Consumers who are trying to avoid credit card debt while protecting the regular monthly budget may decide to use savings for any number of unplanned purchases. This might include when an item goes on sale, a special limited offer, a getaway weekend, holiday spending, and other expenses that are not automatically built into the monthly budget. Using the savings account for incidental costs may prevent it ever reaching an amount that will be truly helpful in an emergency or for a major expenditure, like a new furnace.

However, establishing a savings account just for incidentals can be helpful, unless it encourages people to buy more than they can truly afford and drain the savings while doing so.

Low-interest account

Additional saving mistakes are related to the type of savings account a person chooses. A no-interest or low-interest savings account is not putting the money to work while waiting to be used. If the savings are to be used for a long-term purpose like a new car in a few years, for example, a money market account that pays a low but reliable interest rate may be a safe, low-risk investment option. If funds are withdrawn early due to a specific need, the penalty may not be significant.

High-risk account

Investing personal savings in a high-risk investment account is questionable. The rule of thumb for investing is never to invest more than you can comfortably afford to lose. Putting a substantial amount of money over a period of months or years into a high-yield and high-risk account could result in a total or partial loss. It is probably best to use a more secure savings venue for funds that will be needed eventually than to place all available funds in a venture that may one day fail.

Long-term vs. short-term savings

Starting a savings account is a great way to prepare for the future. However, those funds should have a specific purpose that is part of the overall household budget. Because unexpected costs pop up frequently, some people decide to start two savings accounts, one for short-term unexpected costs and another for long-term planned purchases. These may be set up at different institutions or in varying accounts since the long-term savings may be able to generate interest while building up for a specific purpose.

Saving vs. paying bills on time

Although saving money on a regular basis can almost be addicting to some people, it should not come at the expense of paying regular bills. For example, if $100 per month is designated for saving with a routing heating bill of about $75 per month, what happens if during the winter the heating bill shoots up to $150? Rather than pay just $75 while putting $100 as planned into savings, it is better for your credit rating to pay $150 on the heating bill and put just $25 into savings.

Frugal living

Many families live on a tight budget while saving large amounts of money for the future. While this is commendable in many ways, generally it is not advisable to live on such a tight budget that everyone is miserable or there is a constant scramble to save money or do without as the savings account continues to build. Obviously, the frugality of a household budget depends on their comfort level and savings goals. But you don’t necessarily want to turn into Ebenezer Scrooge.

Collecting coins in a jar, opening a bank account, cutting household costs, or investing in long-range mutual funds are just some of the ways people can save money in a responsible way. It is a good idea to balance a savings plan with common sense and everyday comfort to enjoy a quality of life that can rapidly disappear if the savings plan dominates the monthly budget.

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Taking a journey around the world to experience different cultures and see new things is an aspiration for many. Whether the destination is Paris, Los Angeles, or Sydney, the first step is to create a budget for traveling. If plans include an extensive journey away from home, it is important to maintain a low cost budget while traveling around the world. What are some ways to turn a trip around the world into a frugal adventure that will preserve money for excursions and adventures rather than consume it all with hotel stays and airfare?

Purchase an Around the World Airline Ticket

Any journey that is designed with the intent of getting on and off of an airplane to get to more than one destination is going to cost a bit of money. Booking an around the world ticket with an Airline Alliance will make visiting multiple locations around the world a cheaper option than buying a separate ticket to each location along the beaten path. This option allows for the itineraries to connect in a way that will allow travel to any of the seven continents at a fraction of the price. The trip must either go from east to west or west to east, and the journey must include at least 3 different locations. The starting location must also be the last destination of the journey. All dates and times for travel are flexible, but the entire experience must be completed within one year.

Give up Traditional Hotel Stays

Everyone knows that during any vacation, the bulk of the money is spent on hotel stay, so why not cut this out altogether? Staying in a hostel is a great way to save a few dollars, but there is another way that is even more frugal. A workaway program gives people who are visiting certain locations around the world the option to work for small businesses and families in exchange for a place to stay and food to eat. Staying with a host family will extend the cultural experiences available and allow close interaction with the locals, who open their home to those willing to lend a hand in their quaint bed and breakfast or rustic vineyard.

Pack Durable Clothing

Anyone traveling for a long period of time should consider the clothing that will be worn along the way. Make sure to pack clothing that is appropriate for the season and the location being visited, and that the material will be durable enough to withstand rugged mountain hikes and other activities. Instead of staying in the hotel because another pair of ten dollar jeans just got a hole in them, pack a durable wardrobe to assure that an exciting day trip will not be missed. Make sure money is not being spent on replacing clothing or buying extra outfits, because rain or cold weather were not considered.

Have a Simplistic Phone Plan

Cell phones and technology are a huge part of the modern world, but it is possible to have a simple prepaid or monthly talk plan that will cost less than the unlimited data plans that are so popular today. Any destination will have Wi-Fi, it is just a matter of finding a location that is convenient to use. Airports, hotels, cafes, and shopping malls are all common locations where Wi-Fi hotspots can be found. If there is not a Wi-Fi connection nearby, then explore and discover the natural beauty of that corner of the world.

Avoid Taxis

Regardless of the city being visited, a typical trip from an airport to a city will cost at least $40. In some areas of the world, this simple trip can take almost $100 before even arriving at the hotel. Getting around by metro, subway, train, or bus is a convenient way to reach the same destination for a fraction of the cost. Public transportation often offers an experience that shows how local people in that area of the world get to work every day. If time permits, try walking the city street. Walking is truly the cheapest way of going from place to place, and it is a great way to take in the sites. Being enclosed can create an atmosphere inside the vehicle, where small pleasures like a beautiful climbing rose bush may be missed.

Make Credit Purchases

Using a debit card at an ATM in a foreign country will end up costing a ton of extra money in fees. In some areas of the world, money may need to be exchanged for the common currency in that area. Credit cards often avoid these fees and many of them offer double the rewards for using them during times of travel, so paying for any hotel stays, airplane tickets, and train and bus trips paid for with a credit card will eliminate those fees as well as earn you extra reward points.

Eat From Street Vendors

Street meat is a great way to sample local cuisine. This simple method of purchasing food is often a much cheaper option than buying a meal in a local restaurant. It will allow association with locals of the area as well as give a taste into authentic foods that are offered in an area. Sometimes the best food can be found at street vendors or farmer’s markets. This food is not only the cheaper option; it is often the best tasting one as well.

Control Coffee Addictions

Coffee is a simple pleasure that can be enjoyed daily at home, but while on a trip around the world it will do nothing but cost extra money every day. A cup of coffee or tea may only cost $5 a day, but think about how much that is in a year. Is it wise to spend $1825 a year on coffee while traveling? That money can be put to a much better use, such as exploring a mystical cave near the Mediterranean Sea or touring a museum while in Paris. Make sure to keep track of small purchases like this, or they will be the cause of a low bank account.

Having a budget while traveling is often a cause for stress on a big trip, but there are ways to make it less of a concern, which allows for more to spend on exploration and excursions. Make sure to consider these frugal tips before making an unforgettable journey on any of the seven continents.

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