How Retirement Spending Changes With Time

New retirees sometimes worry that they are spending too much, too soon. Should they scale back? Are they at risk of outliving their money? This concern may be legitimate. Some households “live it up” and spend more than they anticipate as retirement starts to unfold. In 10 or 20 years, though, they may not spend nearly as much.

By The Numbers

The initial stage of retirement can be expensive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show average spending of $60,076 per year for households headed by pre-retirees, Americans age 55-64. That figure drops to $45,221 for households headed by people age 65 and older.1

When retirees are well into their 70s, spending often decreases. The Government Accountability Office data shows that people age 75-79 spend 41% less on average than people in their peak spending years (which usually occur in the late 40s).

Spending Pattern

Some suggest that retirement spending is best depicted by a U-shaped graph — It rises, then falls, then increases quickly due to medical expenses.

But in a 2017 study, the investment firm BlackRock found that retiree spending declined very slightly over time. Also, medical expenses only spiked for a small percentage of retirees in the last two years of their lives.2

What’s the best course for you? Your spending pattern will depend on your personal choices as you enter retirement. A carefully designed strategy can help you be prepared and enjoy your retirement years.

 

 

 

 

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

2. CBSnews December 26, 2017

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.

Money Management 101 for Single Parents Going it Alone

1. Determine What You Owe

As the head of the household, it’s up to you to make sure that your entire family’s needs are being met. In order to do that, you need to be extremely diligent when it comes to money management basics. This is not something that will happen by accident. Instead, you must plan for it and work toward it.

The first step is to set up your “office.” Gather all of your bills, a calculator, a pencil, and your checkbook.

I would also recommend that you grab an old binder that you can use to keep track of your financial data and a shoebox for storing paid bills.

Now you’re ready to begin:

  • Go through all of your bills, and pay anything that is due within the next week.
  • If you have bills coming due that you cannot pay, notify the company and ask them to set up a payment plan with you.
  • Print a copy of the chart “Paying Down My Debts” or make your own.
  • On the chart, list all of your debts, including any car loans, student loans, and credit card debt.
  • In addition, list the total balance left to be paid on all of these debts, and the percentage rate you are paying.
  • For now, leave the fourth column of the chart blank, and store it in your “Financial Data” binder.

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2. Eliminate Joint Debt

Before we create a plan for paying down your debt, it’s important to consider some special circumstances that may apply to you as a single parent. I asked LaToya Irby, Credit/Debt Management Expert, to share her expertise on handling joint debt:

Wolf: Let’s say a single mom still shares a credit card with her ex. What should she do?

Irby: Ideally, she would want her ex to transfer his portion of any joint balances onto his own credit card. That way, everyone is paying for their own debt.

Wolf: What about leaving both names on the account, and agreeing to pay part of the amount due? Is that ever advisable?

Irby: No. If you’ve made an agreement with your ex to split the debt payments on accounts that include your name, and your ex-misses a payment, it’s going to hurt your credit. If the ex-fails to pay altogether, the creditors and collectors will come after you. Not even a divorce decree can change the terms of a joint credit card agreement. In the credit card issuer’s eyes, you’re just as much responsible for post-divorce accounts as before.

Wolf: What about situations when a couple’s divorce decree mandates that one individual must pay off the joint credit card debt, but that person fails to do it?

Irby: You can always file contempt of court papers against him/her, but in the meantime, your credit score suffers. So I suggest paying off the debt to save your credit. If you can’t afford to pay the debt, at least make minimum payments to keep a positive payment history on your credit report.

Wolf: What about other accounts, such as utilities and cell phones?

Irby: The safest thing to do, if you have a service in your ex’s name, is to turn off the account and reestablish service in your name.

 

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3. Find Money to Pay Down Debt

Another thing we have to do before creating a plan to pay down your existing debt is to find money in your budget each month. To assist in this step, I contacted Erin Huffstetler, Frugal Living Expert.

Wolf: How much money do you think the average person can uncover just by being more intentional about spending and budgeting?

Huffstetler: The average person could easily uncover an extra $250 a month—and probably much more.

Wolf: What are the top 5 areas that you think people should look to first when they’re trying to cut their expenses?

Huffstetler:

  • Food spending (both groceries and eating out)
  • TV-related expenses (cable/satellite services, certainly; but also movie subscriptions and rentals)
  • Phone services (particularly extras like call waiting, caller id, long distance, and cell phones)
  • Insurance premiums
  • Miscellaneous spending (all those small amounts spent on coffee, vending machine snacks, and other indulgences)

Wolf: How can single parents, specifically, stretch their child support dollars and reduce child-related expenses?

Huffstetler: For single parents looking to stretch their child support dollars, creativity is the key. Look to children’s consignment shops and thrift stores to buy your kids’ clothes instead of department stores; sign them up for Parks and Rec-run activities instead of privately-run activities (which will always cost more); and don’t feel like you have to make up for being a single parent by buying them extra things—it’s you they need, not stuff.

 

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4. Pay Off Your Debt

The next step is creating a schedule for paying down your debt:

  1. Pay off the debts that charge you the highest interest first.Bob Hammond, author of Life Without Debt, recommends that you pay off the debts that are charging you the highest interest first since borrowing from those creditors is costing you the most money. “Concentrate on paying off the high-cost debts as soon as possible,” Hammond advises. LaToya Irby, Credit/Debt Management Expert, agrees. “Highest interest rate debts cost the most money, especially when those debts have high balances. So you’ll save money on interest charges when you pay off those high-interest rate debts first.”However, there are exceptions to this general rule. Irby notes, “If you’re likely to get discouraged because it’s taking a long time to pay off that high-interest rate debt, you can start with the lowest balance debt. Getting some small debts paid off will motivate you to keep going.”
  2. Pay more than the minimum payment. Aim for paying more than the suggested minimum payment, in order to pay off your debts as quickly as possible.Miriam Caldwell, Money in Your 20’s Expert, shares this advice:
    • Choose one debt to focus on.
    • Increase your payment on that debt by as much as you can.
    • Once you have paid off that debt, move all that you are paying on it to the next debt you want to pay off.
    • You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get out of debt with this plan!
  3. Meanwhile, continue to pay the minimum balance due on all of your other debts.Record what you intend to pay toward each debt on the debt chart you made in Step 1.

 

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5. Budget Your Monthly Expenses

Now that you know where you stand financially, and you’ve created a plan for paying down your debts, it’s time to make sure that you’re making any other necessary adjustments so that you can keep up with your plan. And this means creating a budget.

I know this can be intimidating, but I’m going to make a suggestion for you: Sign up for Mint.com. It’s a free financial software program available on the Internet, and it will basically do your budgeting for you. It will create a visual pie chart showing how much you’re spending each month on housing, gas, food, entertainment, and more. This way, if it turns out that you’re spending a lot more on food than you really should, you can begin to make the necessary adjustments to get your spending under control.

If you would prefer to create your budget the traditional way, allotting a certain amount of money to each spending category, I’ve created an online budget calculator you can use, which includes categories for child support and other details specific to your life as a single parent.

Finally, in taking a look at where your money really goes each month, it’s important to know approximately how much money you “should” be spending in each category. Generally speaking, your net spendable income (after taxes) should be allocated as follows*:

  • Housing: 30%
  • Food: 12%
  • Auto: 14%
  • Insurance: 5%
  • Debt: 5%
  • Entertainment: 7%
  • Clothing: 6%
  • Savings: 5%
  • Medical/Dental: 4%
  • Miscellaneous: 7%
  • Child Care: 5%
  • Investments: 5%

 

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6. Set Financial Goals

Now that you’ve worked out a plan to pay down your debt, and you’ve created a budget, it’s time to determine your needs moving forward.

Specifically, as a single parent, you need to ask yourself some questions, such as:

  • Do you need to file for child support?
  • Do you need to get a higher-paying job?
  • Is it time to think about going back to school?
  • Do you need to consider moving into a home/rental that would reduce your overall monthly payments?
  • Are there alternatives, such as taking on another job or splitting expenses with another single parent family, that you need to consider at this point?

One of the things that I want you to know is that the ball is in your court. You determine where this goes from here on out. But unfortunately, you can’t do that if you’re ignoring your financial health, right?

So the fact that you’ve come this far in the process of getting a handle on your finances tells me that you’re determined to make the changes you need to make in order to provide for your family’s future.

So go ahead and ask yourself these questions. So much of single parenting is learning to roll with the punches and be creative in the face of adversity. If, indeed, you need to make some pretty major changes, now is the time to do it. Don’t incur any more debt where you are. Be resourceful, follow through, and do what you need to do to turn your financial situation around.

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7. Increase Your Net Worth

The next step is to determine your net worth and begin adding to it.

Determine Your Net Worth:

Your net worth is what you own minus what you owe. Programs such as Mint.com, Quicken, and Microsoft Money will calculate your net worth for you, automatically.

You can also determine your net worth simply by adding up all that you own, including all of your investments, the equity you may have paid into your home, the value of your car, and any other assets you possess; and subtracting what you owe in remaining debts.

Set Up a Savings Account:

Once you know where you stand, you’ll be ready to set up a savings account. You can do this through your regular bank, or begin investing in a mutual fund that pays interest.

Even if you can only afford to set aside $25 or $50 per month, it will begin to add up.

Before you know it, you’ll have an emergency savings plan in place, to protect you in the event that your car breaks down, or your home needs a major repair.

In addition, this regular savings will help you increase your net worth over time.

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8. Become Even More Frugal

Unfortunately, all of the work you’ve already done in steps 1-7 will have little lasting value if you don’t change your attitude toward money. Now is the time to become even more frugal and learn to live within your means.

Practice Discipline:

Stop imagining that more money is going to pour in tomorrow—through finally collecting on unpaid child support, winning the lottery, or getting a promotion. If those things happen, great! You’ll be even better off. But living as if they’re going to happen is causing you to spend money you don’t have.

Instead, force yourself to make purchases with cash only. Do not continue to pay outrageous interest payments toward credit cards for purchases you don’t absolutely need. You can get by without that new furniture, right? What else could you skip, in the interest of spending only what you have right now in the bank?

Try These Ideas:

  • Check Freecycle before you make another major purchase. Someone else may be giving away the very thing you’d like to buy!
  • When you’re getting ready to buy something specific, look for it on eBay first. I buy a lot of my clothes, new-with-tags, through online auctions!
  • Forget trying to keep up with “The Jones’s.” You already know your value; don’t get caught up trying to “prove” your worth to others by having “just the right” house, car, or appearance.
  • Do not use shopping, ever, to appease your emotions.
  • Finally, when you do go to make a big purchase, step back and give yourself a few days–or even a week–to think about it. There’s no reason to suffer through buyer’s remorse and try to justify to yourself purchases that you really can’t afford. Think it over carefully and make those purchases, when necessary, with cash.

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9. Schedule Your Own Weekly Financial Check-In

Grab your calendar and schedule a weekly financial update meeting with yourself. This is an extremely important step in managing your personal finances, and it’s one that you need to continue each and every week. During your “meeting” time:

  • Pay any bills that are due.
  • If your bank statement has arrived, take the time to balance your checkbook.
  • Check the balances of your checking and savings accounts.
  • Update your debt list to incorporate any recent payments.
  • This is also a good time to write out your grocery shopping list and check what’s on sale at your local grocery store this week (either using the store’s Web site or the sales circular that comes in the newspaper).
  • Finally, also make note of any upcoming expenses you need to anticipate and plan for.

An attitude of gratitude and finances.

 

 

References:
Irby, LaToya. Email interview. 24 Oct. 2008, 
Huffstetler, Erin. Email interview. 24 Oct. 2008. 
Sources:
Caldwell, Miriam. Email interview. 27 Oct. 2008, Hammond, Bob. “Debt Free Key: 10 Steps for Coping With Credit Problems.” Life Without Debt. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 1995. 31-32, Irby, LaToya. Email interview. 24 Oct. 2008. 
“Spending Plan Online Calculator.” Crown Financial Ministries. 11 Oct. 2008.

Written By: Jennifer Wolf

Source: thebalance

 

 

 

20 Hidden Sources Of Income Lying Around Your House

You can sell things online, like dolls, old appliances and books, for cash.

The unused items collecting dust in your home could be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. People tend to underestimate the value of their belongings, but buyers often are happy to pay serious cash for rare or limited items, said Jacquie Denny, founder of Everything But The House (EBTH), an online estate sale service. However, even everyday items can find a buyer.

Whether you’re on a cash crunch or want to do some heavy spring cleaning, check around your house. Find out which 20 things you can sell online and elsewhere for extra money.

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1. CLOTHING

Chances are that you and your loved ones have clothing that’s collecting dust in a closet. If these items are gently worn, you might be able to cash in by selling them. One of the easiest ways to unload your used clothing for cash is to sell items on consignment.

I’ve been selling clothes through a local consignment store for years and regularly receive 50 percent of the selling price for items I unload. To earn top dollar, look for upscale consignment stores that enjoy a lot of foot traffic. Additionally, you should find out what brands and items the store accepts and make sure your clothing meets the store’s standards.

You can also sell to an online reseller such as ThredUP.com, which will send you a prepaid package to ship your items. ThredUP sellers can earn up to 80 percent of the marked price of their items.

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2. DESIGNER SHOES AND HANDBAGS

If you paid big bucks for designer shoes or a handbag that you now rarely use, you can reclaim some of your money by selling these items online. Frugal living expert Lauren Greutman said she has sold shoes through Poshmark for up to 50 percent of the retail price.

You can snap a picture of the items you want to sell using the Poshmark app and list them instantly. Poshmark will send a prepaid box to ship items that sell and take a $2.95 commission for sales less than $15 and a 20 percent commission for sales above $15.

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3. JEWELRY

If you have an inherited necklace that isn’t your style, or an engagement ring you no longer wear because you’re divorced, you might want to consider selling these pieces for cash. Fine jewelry can be worth a lot, said Denny.

To make sure you get the full value of your jewelry, consider having items appraised beforehand. You can find an appraiser near you through the American Society of Appraisers’ site, Appraisers.org, or sell online through an auction site such as eBay.com. You can also opt to sell to a jeweler or pawn shop, but it’s important to seek out quotes from several stores before doing so.

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4. COMPUTERS

Many households have $400 to $800 worth of cash in the form of unused laptop computers, said Michele Perry, a consumer tech expert at electronics resale site Gazelle.com. Fortunately, sites such as Gazelle and NextWorth.com make it easy to unload these unwanted laptops for cash.

With Gazelle, sellers can request quotes for their devices. They are then sent prepaid shipping boxes.

“You just send it back with your device, and we’ll send you cash,” Perry said. She went on to remind sellers to erase the data on their computers prior to sending them in.

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5. CELLPHONES

Used cellphones are another tech item you can sell for cash — even if it’s damaged.

“Most devices still have value even if they are broken or damaged, as long as they are fully functional and just have a broken screen or need to replace a battery or button,” Perry said. In fact, sellers can net $75 for a broken iPhone 6S on Gazelle.com. Moreover, they can earn $185 if the item is in good condition with normal wear and tear.

Sellers can also unload old cellphones on sites like Kiiboo.com and NextWorth.com or drop their phones into one of the more than 2,000 ecoATM kiosks located in shopping malls across the nation.

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6. GIFT CARDS

In 2015, $973 million worth of gift cards went unused, according to the professional services firm CEB. If you have gift cards you’re not planning to use, you can sell them for cash on sites such as CardCash.com, Cardpool.com, GiftCardZen.com and Raise.com.

The above sites purchase gift cards for less than face value and then resell them at a discount. For example, you can get back up to 92 percent of a card’s value at Cardpool.com. You also can exchange gift cards for cash at Coinstar Exchange kiosks in grocery stores.

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7. BOOKS

If you have books you know you’ll never read again — or at all — you can easily turn them into cash by selling online. Check to see if you have any first edition books and books autographed by authors to start, said Denny of EBTH, as these items could be good sources of hidden cash.

Greutman recommended selling unwanted books on Amazon. Scan your books using the free Amazon Seller app, which tells you the current value. You can list your books with the app and price them based on Amazon’s pricing suggestions, she said. It’s important to note that Amazon charges 99 cents per item sold.

Additionally, sellers can unload unwanted books through Half.com, which doesn’t charge a listing fee. Start by visiting sites like AbeBooks.com and Biblio.com to see what your books might be worth.

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8. CHILDREN’S TOYS

It’s no secret that children outgrow their toys quickly. Luckily, you can make money selling your kids’ unwanted toys — especially larger items such as kitchen playsets. I made about $50 on a wooden train set for which I originally paid $75 by selling it through a consignment store.

If you have several smaller toys to sell, Greutman advised requesting a box from Swap.com. You can fill it with items and then ship it back to the company for free. Earning $25 to $50 per box is not uncommon, according to Greutman.

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9. COLLECTIBLE DOLLS

If you inherited a collection of porcelain dolls from your grandmother, it might be time to dig them out of storage. In fact, according to Denny, people are willing to pay top dollar for collectible dolls.

Additionally, individuals whose children have old American Girl dolls might be sitting on cash cows. These toys command a high price on eBay.com, said Greutman. For example, a 2014 American Girl Doll of the Year recently had a list price of $399.99 on eBay. This listing is $285 higher than that of the current Doll of the Year sold by American Girl.

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10. FURNITURE

Make some extra cash by selling unwanted furniture that’s occupying space in your garage, attic or storage unit. Along with selling items in consignment stores, which offer owners a percentage of the final price, individuals can opt to advertise locally on Facebook, Craigslist.org or OfferUp.

BudgetsAreSexy.com blogger J. Money has made more than $1,000 selling items on Craigslist, including furniture. When listing an item on the site, he recommended posting several pictures, providing all of the dimensions, using keywords such as brand names in your description and researching prices of similar items. Additionally, you should make yourself available by phone or email to respond to interested buyers.

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11. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

That guitar or drum set you bought years ago, because you thought you were going to start a band, can be turned into cash if your dreams of rockstardom never materialized. In fact, J. Money reported selling an electric guitar, amps and accessories on Craigslist for $225. You also can sell musical instruments online through sites such as Reverb.com, which charges a 3.5 percent fee on sales, or at a physical retailer such as Guitar Center.

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12. SPORTING GOODS

Denny said that outdoor sporting goods, such as bicycles, canoes and fishing gear, tend to sell well on EBTH. If you have sporting goods you bought for yourself or your kids, you can sell them on your own through Craigslist or OfferUp.

Additionally, you can take sports gear — such as skis, golf clubs, baseball bats, gloves and football cleats and helmets — to a Play It Again Sports store and receive 30 percent to 50 percent of the selling price.

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13. SPORTS MEMORABILIA

If you collected baseball cards or sports jerseys as a child, you might be able to exchange these items for much-needed cash. Signed sports memorabilia, in particular, can be a big source of income.

“The more famous the player, the higher the prices demanded,” Denny said. For best results, consider having your items appraised to determine how valuable they are.

You can find an appraiser through Appraisers.org or have trading cards professionally authenticated through the Professional Sports Authentication at PSACard.com. One of the best places to sell sports memorabilia is eBay, which many sports enthusiasts use to find collectibles.

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14. ANTIQUES

If you have antiques you’re willing to sell, their value will hinge largely on their condition and whether they are rare or have historical significance, Denny said.

“With antiques, small scratches and evidence of light wear and tear can actually increase the value slightly, but structural damage and other repairs can be costly and dissuade sellers,” she said. “All these complicating factors are part of why it’s important to work with a reputable appraiser.”

The best way to secure top dollar for antiques is to sell them through an auction house, according to Consumer Reports. You can also sell to antique dealers, but be sure to get quotes from a few services before doing so. Additionally, you can sell antiques at EBTH, which offers appraisers who will value individual items or an entire estate.

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15. ARTWORK

Whether you have inherited artwork that isn’t your taste, or pieces you purchased are collecting dust in the attic, you can opt to sell these items for cash. In fact, I’ve sold numerous pieces of art at consignment stores.

For fine art, consider having items appraised before selling. Regional artwork sells particularly well in EBTH sales, said Denny. You can also sell your fine art through auction houses.

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16. CHINA SETS

If formal dining isn’t your style, you can unload that china set you inherited or received as a wedding gift at a local consignment store. Denny said china is a popular item sold on EBTH — especially sets made by Spode, Lenox and modern designers, such as Ralph Lauren. Additionally, sellers can list china sets on Craigslist.

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17. SILVER

If you inherited some sterling silver trays, serving spoons or other items you don’t use, you might be able to earn cash selling them “as is” or for scrap.

“If the silver holds any sort of historical significance, or has any brand association, it will offer a much greater return than if you were to sell it to scrap,” Denny said. However, she acknowledged that the current market for silver is a difficult one.

At the present time, buyers might get more money selling silver pieces for scrap than at a consignment store or through an auction house. For best results, secure quotes from several metals dealers — both online and storefront.

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18. SAVINGS BONDS

You might have received — or even purchased — savings bonds decades ago only to forget about them completely. In fact, billions of dollars’ worth of matured savings bonds have never been cashed in, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

You can use the Treasury Hunt tool at Treasuryhunt.gov to discover whether you have Series E bonds issued after 1974 that are no longer earning interest and can be cashed in. The tool can also help you identify bonds you might have lost and claim them.

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19. APPLIANCE PARTS

Small appliances that are old or broken can still have value, Greutman said. That’s because you can sell their parts on eBay. For example, a used Keurig K-cup holder recently had a list price of $29.90 on eBay.

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20. VIDEO GAMES

You can cash in on those video games you or your kids no longer play by selling them online or at various brick-and-mortar retailers. Sites such as uSell.com and NextWorth purchase used video games and offer free shipping. Additionally, you can sell used video games at retailers such as GameStop, which will pay cash or give you store credit to buy more hours of fun.

 

 

Written by: Cameron Huddleston
Source: GOBankingRates

Monthly Market Insights | January 2017

U.S. Markets

The post-election rally in the stock market gathered fresh momentum in December, but lost steam following a Fed rate hike and the onset of holiday trading.

For December, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 3.3 percent, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 1.8 percent and the NASDAQ Composite rose 1.1 percent.1

quote

After slipping in the first days of the new month, stocks renewed their climb higher, setting new records on major indices. The market maintained its optimistic view of the anticipated economic direction that a Trump presidency may take, focusing on the potential positive impact expected tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation might have on economic growth and corporate profits.

Fed’s Influence

The climb in stock prices stalled in advance of the Fed decision to raise the federal funds rate by a quarter-percentage point. The Fed also suggested that it might increase rates further in 2017 by three-quarters of a percentage point. This took some of the wind out the equity market’s sails and led to a higher U.S. dollar and tumbling bond prices. (Bond prices move inversely to yields, so as yields rise, bond prices decline.)

Amid thin holiday trading the market moved lower, shaving off some of its December gains.

For the Year

For 2016, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 13.4 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 9.5 percent. The NASDAQ Composite picked up 7.5 percent.2

Sector Performance

Most industry sectors ended higher in December, led by Energy (+6.65 percent) and Financials (+4.46 percent). Other sectors posting gains included Consumer Staples (+1.11 percent), Industrials (+0.18 percent), Materials (+1.25 percent), Real Estate (+0.26 percent), Technology (+1.39 percent) and Utilities (+1.18 percent). Consumer Discretionary (-0.55 percent) and Health Care (-0.32 percent) sustained minor losses.3

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World Markets

Global markets ended the year on an encouraging note, with the MSCI-EAFE Index rising 2.8 percent for the month.4

European stocks staged a broad rally to end 2016. Major markets posted strong gains, including Germany, France and the U.K.5

Pacific Rim markets were mixed, as Australia benefited from higher commodity prices, Hong Kong fell on a weaker Yuan and capital outflows from China and Japan settled higher.6

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Indicators

Gross Domestic Product: An earlier estimate of third quarter GNP growth was revised higher to 3.5 percent, up from 3.2 percent. While the increase represented an exceptional growth rate for the economy, the overall economic growth rate through September 2016 remained consistent with the tepid growth that has marked this long economic expansion.7

Employment: The unemployment rate declined to its lowest level in nine years, dropping to 4.6 percent from 4.9 percent a month earlier. Workers’ wages also gained, rising 2.5 percent over November 2015, as employers competed for workers in a tightening labor pool.8

Retail Sales: Sales at retailers ticked 0.1 percent higher in November, a disappointing slowdown that some attributed to uncertainty about the U.S. election. Nevertheless, retail sales were higher over the same month last year by 3.8 percent, suggesting a better start to the holiday shopping season.9

Industrial Production: Industrial output by factories, mines and utilities fell 0.4 percent as a consequence of unseasonably warm weather in November. Capacity utilization also slipped 0.4 percent to 75 percent.10

Housing: Housing starts fell 18.7 percent from a robust result in October. However, over the last three months, housing starts have been at their highest level since the end of 2007.11

Sales of existing homes rose 0.7 percent, the third consecutive month of higher sales. Thirty-two percent of November sales were from first-time buyers, while over 20 percent of sales were all-cash transactions.12

New home purchases climbed 5.2 percent, the largest one-month gain since July. Through November, sales are 12.7 percent higher over the same period last year.13

CPI: For the fourth straight month, consumer prices moved higher, rising 0.2 percent in November. Prices were also higher when compared to November of last year, up by 1.7 percent—the biggest increase since October 2014.14

Durable Goods Orders: Orders for civilian aircraft dropped sharply in November, leading to a 4.6 percent decline in durable goods orders. Excluding transportation orders, orders for long-lasting goods increased 0.5 percent.15

The Fed

The Federal Reserve announced on December 14 that it would hike the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point, with Fed officials signaling their expectation to raise rates by another 0.75 percent in 2017, which may come in three separate quarter-point moves. The decision to hike rates at a faster pace than previously anticipated reflected the Fed’s escalating conviction in the economy’s strength and stability.16

What Investors May Be Talking About

Markets are expected to watch carefully to see what President Trump attempts to accomplish in the early days of his presidency with a Republican Congress. Many of the initiatives that have been discussed by the President-elect have the potential to further impact stock valuations. Among them are:

  • The rollback of environmental, energy and climate policies enacted by the Obama Administration.
  • Corporate income tax reform to reduce taxes, eliminate deductions and repatriate overseas profits with a one-time reduced tax assessment.
  • The withdrawal from trade agreement talks (Trans Pacific Partnership) or the renegotiation or withdrawal from existing trade agreements (NAFTA) may benefit some companies, but could harm others with substantial exports or overseas manufacturing.
  • The reduction of corporate regulations may influence profits. For example, revamping Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act may prove beneficial to financial companies’ profits.
  • The Affordable Care Act may be up for a significant rewrite or even repeal, though without knowing what replaces it, it is difficult to estimate the impact any health care law changes may have in the market.

Of course, disappointment in achieving some of the anticipated changes that have driven markets higher since the election may be cause for a broad price retreat.

In any event, experience teaches investors that overreacting to current events can be counterproductive to long-term investment strategies, but ignoring them entirely runs its own set of risks.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2016
  2. The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2016
  3. Interactive Data Managed Solutions, December 31, 2016
  4. MSCI.com, December 31, 2016
  5. MSCI.com, December 31, 2016
  6. MSCI.com, December 31, 2016
  7. The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2016
  8. The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2016
  9. The Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2016
  10. The Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2016
  11. The Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2016
  12. The Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2016
  13. The Wall Street Journal, December 23, 2016
  14. The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2016
  15. The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2016
  16. The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2016

 

Source: Lake Avenue Financial

$3,000 for Lunch? Little Splurges Add Up if You’re Not Careful

© Blend Images/Getty Images
© Blend Images/Getty Images

Dining out a few times per week might not seem like a big deal … until you do the math.

On average, Americans spend about $20 per week getting lunch in restaurants, or $1,043 a year, according to a survey of 2,033 people by Visa in July and August. What’s more, when you add in the costs of takeout and brown-bag meals, respondents spent $53 a week, for a grand total of $2,746 a year.

“Most people might not realize that they are spending over $50 a week on lunch,” said Nat Sillin, global head of financial literacy at Visa. He said spending a little time in the kitchen can have a big impact on the bottom line because while eating out costs $11 per meal, it’s only $6.30 on average if you prepare your own lunch.

The survey found that men and students are more likely to spend money eating out. Men spend an average of $24.93 per week, compared with $15.55 for women. Students pay $27.47 dining out every week, the highest among all groups. And being out of work doesn’t stop folks from going out for lunch. Unemployed American workers, the report says, purchase lunch out more than once a week, at over $15 per week.

“Grocery store or gastro pub, don’t burst your budget on your midday meal,” Sillin said.

Hugh Norton, U.S. head of financial education at Visa, agreed. He said you should set a daily budget and track your spending. Packing your lunch, like sandwiches, is an easy way to cut your spending, said Barbara O’Neill, a professor at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. She said you can also stock up on convenience foods, such as Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen meals when they are on sale.

However, even the budget experts agree that sometimes a nuked frozen meatloaf just won’t do. When you reach a milestone in your life, meeting your financial goals or other achievements, O’Neill said by all means, go out and treat yourself.

When you do, Norton recommends that you do your homework to search for coupons and compare restaurant prices before you head out. Apps like Yelp can give you a sense of how much it might cost dining in a particular restaurant.

Sillin agreed. “Clipping a coupon or choosing a less expensive item can save you hundreds over the course of a year.”

And if you go with friends and share, O’Nell added, you can “split the calories and costs.”

To keep your spending in check, Visa launched a free app called Lunch Tracker on Nov. 4. Besides adding up how much you have spent on your meals, the app makes saving money a game among friends. You can share photos of your lunch with friends, compare your month-over-month spending with them to see who is a better saver and learn saving strategies.

The survey also found:

  • Americans in the South eat lunch out most often and spend $1,240 dining out every year.
  • Northeasterners spend $1,001 per year dining out for lunch, the second highest in the nation. Midwesterners, however, spend $866 every year, the lowest among all.
  • Homemakers are least likely to go out, but they tend to spend more when they do, an average of $17.60.

Written by Jiayue Huang of USA Today

(Source: USA Today)

It Wasn’t Just About the Budget

geralt/Pixabay
geralt/Pixabay

Last week, the bipartisan budget bill was signed into law, averting a U.S. default and deferring further battle over debt and spending levels until presidential and congressional elections are over, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The new law includes provisions that CBS Money Watch said are likely to strengthen Social Security and Medicare by improving the programs’ finances. Since the provisions also have the potential to reduce benefits for some Americans, they may not prove to be all that popular. Here are two of the changes that affect Social Security benefits:

  • File-and-suspend strategies will be limited in 2016. This change could cost some Americans up to $50,000 in lifetime Social Security benefits, according to PBS News Hour. The strategy entails having a husband or wife file for Social Security benefits at full retirement age and then suspend the benefits immediately. This allows a spouse to claim a spousal benefit, while the husband or wife receives delayed retirement credits.

Effective May 1, 2016, no one will be able to voluntarily file and suspend benefits to make a spousal benefit available to a spouse or to protect the right to file for retroactive benefits.

  • Restricted application strategies will not be an option after 2015. Restricted application also is a Social Security claiming strategy. It allows an applicant to receive spousal benefits while earning delayed retirement credits until age 70. Americans who meet age requirements in 2015 can employ the strategy; younger Americans cannot.

If you are currently employing these strategies, you are probably grandfathered. We’ll know more when the Social Security Administration offers some insight as to how the new rules will be interpreted. That’s expected to happen before the end of the year. In the meantime, if you have questions about how this may affect your retirement plans, please contact your financial advisor.

College Student Blames Parents After She Blows $90G College Fund

Provided by 401(K) 2012/Pixabay
Provided by 401(K) 2012/Pixabay

This college student deserves an “F” in accounting after she blew through a $90,000 college fund on expensive clothes and a trip to Europe and now has no way to pay for her senior year, a predicament  she blames on her parents.

The 22-year-old woman detailed her financial woes on an Atlanta FM-radio show whose wisecracking hosts derided her spendthrift ways and whose listeners belittled on Twitter as the millennial who was giving millennials a bad name. Kim, who did not mention her last name or her school, told “The Bert Show” that it was all her parents fault for not showing her how to manage her money.

“Maybe they should have taught me how to budget a little better, a little more carefully,” she told the show the other day. “They never sat me down and had a real serious talk about it. They said, ‘Here’s your college fund, it’s for classes only.’”

Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, told “Fox & Friends” Sunday that Kim’s parents do share part of the blame.

“Not necessarily for failing to teach their daughter financial regimens and accounting, but because they didn’t teach her character,” he said.

Kim said her grandparents set up the college fund for her years ago. She contacted “The Bert Show” after the school had just mailed her the tuition bill for her senior year, according to Yahoo’s financial news website. She explained that she was short about $20,000 for her final two semesters.

“I just wasn’t very good with my budget,” she said. “I also used it to budget for school clothes, stuff like that. My college break money…Maybe I should have not done that.”

Kim said she also used her college tuition money on a European vacation. “The Europe thing I thought was part of my education and that’s how I tried to justify that,” she said, according to Yahoo!

In another call, the young woman said her parents told her there was nothing they could do for her because they didn’t have any money. She accused her father of being a “little bit of a jerk about it” after she told him she was broke.

“They’re not being honest with me, saying they don’t have it because my father has worked for like a million years and they have a retirement account,” Kim said.

She said her parents suggested she take out a loan with the credit union. “And I’m like, ‘How am I supposed to do that?’” she said.

The next day Kim told the show she went down to the credit union after all to apply for a loan. She said the loan officer told her she would need her parents as co-signers because she didn’t work and didn’t have collateral.

Kim told the show her parents wouldn’t co-sign unless she got a part-time job.

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll tell my parents I’ll be a stripper if they don’t co-sign,” the woman said.

In a fourth call to the station, Kim said her situation had improved. Her loan had been approved and she was looking for a job, as much as that pained her.

She was also still blaming her parents.

“I know they’re trying to teach me a lesson blah, blah, blah and character building, but like I hope they realize that this can have such a negative effect on my grades and as a person,” Kim said on the air.

Written by Fox News

(Source: Fox News)

Boehner’s Resignation Could Shake Up the Stock Market

© Win Mcnamee
© Win Mcnamee

Speaker John Boehner’s announcement that he will be resigning next month is, in the words of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, “seismic to the House.” But it could also shake up the stock market if it injects additional uncertainty into congressional efforts to reach a deal on the budget and debt ceiling.

That uncertainty might come into play as soon as next week, as Congress needs to pass a continuing resolution to authorize federal spending at 2015 levels by the end of the month to avert a partial government shutdown. Boehner’s resignation reportedly makes such legislation more likely to pass, giving a victory to conservatives who had been pushing for a fight over funding for Planned Parenthood.

But that stopgap measure might not do much to prevent another budget and debt ceiling showdown, or Republican infighting over strategy, beyond the end of the month. “The shock announcement that Republican House Speaker John Boehner will retire in October has increased the odds of a shutdown, if not this week then in early December,” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote to clients on Friday.

A continuing resolution would simply delay the fight until late November or December, by which time the debt ceiling would also need to be addressed. The government recently hit that $18.1 trillion limit, and the Treasury Department is again performing a financial juggling act to prevent a default, but those accounting maneuvers can’t go on indefinitely.

Election-year pressures — the notion that Republicans don’t want to be blamed by voters for another shutdown — might also cut the other way. “Not only is there a multitude of Republican presidential nominees looking for a boost among the party’s base, but all of the House representatives and a third of the Senate will be up for election next year,” Ashworth notes. “Republicans will be under pressure to play hard ball to avoid nomination fights against more conservative candidates. Boehner’s retirement will only embolden the conservatives in Congress to push harder.”

That potential scenario hasn’t rattled the market, at least not yet. Stocks rallied Friday after the Commerce Department revised its read on second-quarter GDP growth to a 3.9 percent annual pace, up from 3.7 percent — reinforcing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s case in a speech she delivered Thursday that economic progress makes it appropriate for policymakers to raise interest rates this year and to continue boosting them gradually.

The Fed’s rate-setting committee is scheduled to meet again late next month and then on Dec. 15 and 16. If the committee holds off on a rate hike next month, Washington could be in the midst of another fiscal fight by the time it convenes in December, potentially clouding any rate hike decision.

Back in Feb. 2014, when Congress was also confronted with a deadline decision on the debt ceiling and Boehner’s efforts to pass a compromise plan had failed, the Speaker admitted his defeat by saying, “When you don’t have 218 votes, you have nothing.” Boehner’s successor as House speaker, whether it’s Kevin McCarthy or someone else, will be facing many of the same pressures from the right wing of his caucus — and he or she will be dealing with the same math.

So while Boehner’s resignation may reduce risks of a disruptive government shutdown and a market-rattling fiscal fight this month, it might not do much to forestall further Washington turmoil and uncertainty. And Wall Street abhors uncertainty.

Written by Yuval Rosenberg of The Fiscal Times

(Source: The Fiscal Times)

6 Financial Lessons from America’s Founding Fathers

In theory, the founding fathers should be the ultimate financial role models. After all, they’re literally on the money. Warren Buffett might be every investor’s hero, but even he can’t count his earnings without seeing the faces of Washington, Hamilton, Franklin, and Jefferson. Even John Adams, perhaps the most neglected of the founding fathers, has been commemorated on the dollar coin.

What can the men who adorn our currency teach us about our own finances? Quite a lot, actually, but not because they were all as good with money as they were at creating a nation. Jefferson, for example, amassed a great fortune but later squandered it and ended his life all but penniless (despite, of course, the economic advantages of being a slaveholder). But others, including Washington — a shrewd and even ruthless businessman — died very wealthy men.

Here are some of the lessons, still applicable today, that can be drawn from these historic financial lives.

1. Have a Backup Plan 

1792: The first Wall Street bailout: Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)

© Jerry Tavin/Everett Collection Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)

Alexander Hamilton may have been the greatest financial visionary in American history. After the Revolutionary War, as Washington’s Treasury Secretary, Hamilton steered the fledgling nation out of economic turmoil, ensured the U.S. could pay back its debts, established a national bank, and set the country on a healthy economic path. But it turned out that he was far better at managing the country’s finances than his own.

When Hamilton was killed in a duel with vice president Aaron Burr, his relatives found they were broke without his government salary. Willard Sterne Randall, biographer of multiple founding fathers, recounts that Hamilton’s wife was forced to take up a collection at his funeral in order to pay for a proper burial.

What went wrong? Hamilton’s law practice had made him wealthy and a government salary paid the bills once he moved to Washington, but he also had seven children and two mistresses to support. Those expenses, in addition to his spendthrift ways, left Hamilton living from paycheck to paycheck.

The take-away: Don’t stake your family’s financial future on your current salary. The Amicable Society pioneered the first life insurance policy in 1706, well before Hamilton’s demise in 1804, and term life insurance remains an excellent way to provide for loved ones in the event of an untimely death. Also, don’t get into duels. Life insurance usually doesn’t cover those.

2. Diversify Your Assets

General George Washington - portrait of the first President of the United States (1789?97). 22 February 1732 - 14 December 1799. Painted by Charles Willson Peale, American painter, 15 April 1741 - 22 February 1827.

© Mountain Vernon Collection/Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images General George Washington – portrait of the first President of the United States (1789?97). 22 February 1732 – 14 December 1799. Painted by Charles Willson Peale, American painter, 15 April 1741 – 22 February 1827.

Conventional wisdom holds that investors shouldn’t put all their eggs in one basket, and our nation’s first president prospered by following this truism.

During the early 18th century, Virginia’s landed gentry became rich selling fine tobacco to European buyers. Times were so good for so long that few thought to change their strategy when the bottom fell out of the market in the 1760s, and Jefferson in particular continued to throw good money after bad as prices plummeted. George W. wasn’t as foolish. “Washington was the first to figure out that you had to diversify,” explains Randall. “Only Washington figured out that you couldn’t rely on a single crop.”

After determining tobacco to be a poor investment, Washington switched to wheat. He shipped his finest grain overseas and sold the lower quality product to his Virginia neighbors (who, historians believe, used it to feed their slaves). As land lost its value, Washington stopped acquiring new property and started renting out what he owned. He also fished on the Chesapeake and charged local businessmen for the use of his docks. The president was so focussed on revenues that at times he could even be heartless: When a group of revolutionary war veterans became delinquent on rent, they found themselves evicted from the Washington estate by their former commander.

3. Invest in What You Know

A statue of Benjamin Franklin is seen at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

© Matt Rourke/AP Photo A statue of Benjamin Franklin is seen at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

Warren Buffett’s famous piece of investing wisdom is also a major lesson of Benjamin Franklin’s path to success. After running away from home, the young Franklin started a print shop in Boston and started publishing Poor Richard’s Almanac. When Poor Richard’s became a success, Franklin reinvested in publishing.

“What he did that was smart was that he created America’s first media empire,” says Walter Isaacson, former editor of TIME magazine and author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. Franklin franchised his printing business to relatives and apprentices and spread them all the way from Pennsylvania to the Carolinas. He also founded the Pennsylvania Gazette, the colonies’ most popular newspaper, and published it on his own presses. In line with his principle of “doing well by doing good,” Franklin used his position as postmaster general to create the first truly national mail service. The new postal network not only provided the country with a means of communication, but also allowed Franklin wider distribution for his various print products. Isaacson says Franklin even provided his publishing affiliates with privileged mail service before ultimately giving all citizens equal access.

Franklin’s domination of the print industry paid off big time. He became America’s first self-made millionaire and was able to retire at age 42.

4. Don’t Try to Keep Up With the Joneses

Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826), the 3rd President of the United States of America. Born in Virginia, he drafted the Declaration of Independence, signed 4th July, 1776. Original Artwork: Engraving by A B Hall of New York

© Hulton Archive/Getty Images Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), the 3rd President of the United States of America.

Born in Virginia, he drafted the Declaration of Independence, signed 4th July, 1776. Original Artwork: Engraving by A B Hall of New YorkEveryone wants to impress their friends, even America’s founders. Alexander Hamilton blew through his fortune trying to match the lifestyle of a colonial gentleman. He worked himself to the bone as a New York lawyer to still-not-quite afford the expenses incurred by Virginia aristocrats.

Similarly, Thomas Jefferson’s dedication to impressing guests with fine wines, not to mention his compulsive nest feathering (his plantation, Monticello, was in an almost constant state of renovation), made him a life-long debtor.

Once again, it was Ben Franklin who set the positive example: Franklin biographer Henry Wilson Brands, professor of history at the University of Austin, believes the inventor’s relative maturity made him immune to the type of one-upmanship that was common amongst the upper classes. By the time he entered politics in earnest, he was hardly threatened by a group of colleagues young enough to be his children. Franklin’s hard work on the way to wealth also deterred him from excessive conspicuous consumption. “Franklin, like many people who earned their money the hard way, was very careful with it,” says Brands. “He worked hard to earn his money and he wasn’t going to squander it.”

5. Not Good With Money? Get Some Help

John Adams (1735 - 1826), second president of the United States of America.

© Stock Montage/Getty Images John Adams (1735 – 1826), second president of the United States of America.

In addition to being boring and generally unlikeable, John Adams was not very good with money. Luckily for him, his wife Abigail was something of a financial genius. While John was intent on increasing the size of his estate, Abigail knew that property was a rookie investment. “He had this emotional attachment to land,” recounts Woody Holton, author of an acclaimed Abigail Adams biography. “She told him ‘Thats all well and good, but you’re making 1% on your land and I can get you 25%.’”

She lived up to her word. During the war, Abigail managed the manufacturing of gunpowder and other military supplies while her husband was away. After John ventured to France on business, she instructed him to ship her goods in place of money so she could sell supplies to stores beleaguered by the British blockade. Showing an acute understanding of risk and reward, she even reassured her worried spouse after a few shipments were intercepted by British authorities. “If one in three arrives, I should be a gainer,” explained Abigail in one correspondence. When she finally rejoined John in Europe, the future first lady had put them on the road to wealth. “Financially, the best thing John Adams did for his family was to leave it for 10 years,” says Holton.

As good as her wartime performance was, Abigail’s masterstroke would take place after the revolution. Lacking hard currency, the Continental Congress had been forced to pay soldiers with then-worthless government bonds. Abigail bought bundles of the securities for pennies on the dollar and earned massive sums when the country’s finances stabilized.

Despite Abigail’s talent, John continued to pursue his own bumbling financial strategies. Abigail had to be eternally vigilant, and frequently stepped in at the last minute to stop a particularly ill-conceived venture. After spending the first half of one letter instructing his financial manager to purchase nearby property, John abruptly contradicted the order after an intervention by Abigail. “Shewing [showing] what I had written to Madam she has made me sick of purchasing Veseys Place,” wrote Adams. Instead, at his wife’s urging, he told the manager to purchase more bonds.

6. Make A Budget And Stick To It

MONTICELLO: Aerial view of Monticello.

© Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Aerial view of Monticello.

From a financial perspective, Thomas Jefferson was one giant cautionary tale. He spent too much, saved too little, and had no understanding of how to make money from agriculture. As Barnard history professor Herbert Sloan succinctly puts it, Jefferson “had the remarkable ability to always make the wrong decision.” To make matters worse, Jefferson’s major holdings were in land. Large estates had previously brought in considerable profits, but during his later years farmland became extremely difficult to sell. Jefferson was so destitute during one trip that he borrowed money from one of his slaves.

Yet, despite his dismal economic abilities, Jefferson also kept meticulous financial records. Year after year, he dutifully logged his earnings and expenditures. The problem? He never balanced them. When Jefferson died, his estate was essentially liquidated to pay his creditors.

Written by Jacob Davidson of Money

(Source: Time)

Millennial’s Guide to Moving Out of Your Parent’s House

When it comes to leaving home, millennials seem to need extra help these days.

Despite falling rates of unemployment and increased median salaries among adults in the 18-to-34 age range, more and more of them are choosing, at least temporarily, to live in their family homes, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data released last week by the Pew Research Center.

As of April 2015, the number of millennials living independently — taken by Pew to mean “heading their own households” without having a roommate — was about 67% of the approximately 63 million counted by the Census within this young adult category. That’s even fewer than during the Great Recession.

Take it from someone who just celebrated two months out of the nest myself: “Adulting,” as Kelly Williams Brown calls the process of moving out, is about as awkward and unglamorous as the gerund makes it sound. And to be fair, there’s more than one good argument for why it may be pretty brilliant to live with your family for a year or two out of college.

Yet for millennials looking to leave the nest, here are a few suggestions on how to “adult” well.

1. Play Pretend

Woman paying bills.

© JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images Woman paying bills.

Some experts recommend that millennials looking to leave home form good bill-paying habits by paying their way within the family household. And you should pay your parents — by being gracious, being helpful around the house, not sleeping until noon, and perhaps, after a serious conversation about how they’d like you to pitch in, by making a financial household contribution.

But if your parents decide to let you resume your place in the family home rent-free — or if they’re charging you a rent that’s below market rate — be sure to save any earnings that would otherwise be spoken for.

Write down a pretend budget, listing what you might otherwise need to spend on rent, groceries, transportation, etc. Then put that money aside every month as if you were paying the bills. Use that money for two things: to help pay down any student loans or credit card debts (thus boosting your credit score), and to provide a crucial safety net for after you do move out.

2. Jumpstart Your Job Search

If you’re thinking of moving out at any point in the near future, there’s no such thing as starting a job search too early.

© Monalyn Gracia/Corbis If you’re thinking of moving out at any point in the near future, there’s no such thing as starting a job search too early.

You may have a job already, but will it cover your lifestyle shift? Or you may be stuck at home simply because you don’t have a job; earlier Pew Center research found that unemployed millennials were almost half again as likely as employed millennials to be living at home.

If you’re thinking of moving out at any point in the near future, there’s no such thing as starting a job search too early. Job openings may be at a historic high, but employers are getting pickier and pickier about who they hire.

Worst-case scenario, you may end up getting some extra interview practice for a job you don’t want. More likely, you’ll get a sense of what jobs are out there and appeal to you, what positions employers seem willing (or unwilling) to hire you for, and whether there are certain skills you’d like to buff up before you leave home. Maybe taking a coding class would put you ahead in the industry you were hoping to enter; perhaps your design portfolio or your resume could use some work.

Know these things before they get overshadowed by the stress of having to pay rent each month.

3. Set a Deadline

Calendar date

© Image Source/Getty Images Calendar date

Once you’ve decided that it’s time to get gone, make it official. Set a deadline, give the family your tearful notice, and begin counting down.

Figure out how much you’ll need to put aside for a security deposit, first month’s rent, moving and furniture costs. Start apartment scouting a few months in advance, to understand costs in the neighborhoods you like — and to adjust your expectations if necessary.

If you need to ask your parents for a short-term loan to get you off the ground, be sure to clearly document the agreement and its terms, and resolve to stick to them.

4. Give Your Identity a Reality Check

Bag Lunch with Fruit

© Robert Byron/Getty Images Bag Lunch with Fruit

Planning a budget is important, but sticking to it is more difficult once you’re in the real world. Last night I came home from work only to realize that I was out of laundry detergent, paper towels, and toothpaste. About $30 later, I had all of those things — along with a poorly planned budget that I had overshot.

For at least the first couple of months, while you’re still learning what you can actually afford, rethink your identity. These days, I try to think of myself as a “rent payer,” “grocery buyer,” “home cook,” “lunch packer,” “subway rider,” “phone user,” “health care consumer,” “daily showerer,” and “saver.”

I am not, I try to remind myself, a “shopper” or a “restaurant explorer”; nor am I a “$90-a-month gym subscriber” — at least until I can prove a daily gym habit at my $30-a-month gym and decide whether the extra $60 would cut into my toothpaste fund. My roots look pretty terrible, and I need a pedicure, but I am not a “salon-goer” for now, either — which leaves me even more motivated to figure out a budget I can meet.

5. Keep Asking Your Parents for Help

Mother and Daughter

© davidf/iStockphoto/Getty Images Mother and Daughter

Millennials aren’t a financially literate bunch; last year, a study by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation found that only about a quarter of Americans in their 20s could pass a five-question financial literacy quiz. Luckily, your parents remain a resource that you can tap into for financial advice long after you’ve moved out; if they’re anything like mine, they’ll even offer plenty that’s unsolicited.

It may be tempting to take your financial independence to an extreme and tell your folks to mind their own business — but hold off. They’ve been handling their own matters of personal finance for years — and there’s much to learn from both their successes and mistakes.

 Written by Katy Osborn of Money
(Source: Time)
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