5 Reasons to be Frugal Even When You Can Spend More

shj021317_5_reasons_to_be_frugal_blog_imageWhy go out of your way to save $20 when you can make it back in a few minutes of work? What’s the point in shopping for a deal when you have extra income? The difference between being frugal and being cheap is caring about value as opposed to caring about cost.

Retirement is Coming
Whether it’s 5 years or 25 years away, your dream of retirement is coming. If you’re living the life of luxury now instead of pushing money into your retirement plan, you may end up having to pinch pennies during retirement. Do what you can to cut your costs now, while still living comfortably, so you can live with less financial worry during retirement. Talk with your CFP® about about your plans to help get you on the right path for a comfortable retirement.

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New Year, New Goals: Evaluate Your Finances and Make a Plan for 2017

shj121916_new_years_resolution_blog_image2016 has been a whirlwind of a year, but hopefully not on your finances. Life changes and with it come new expenses or new financial goals. It’s important to regularly check in on your finances to ensure you are staying on track. What better time than the new year?

Here are 5 things to review as we move into 2017:

Income and expenses
The key to managing a spending plan is knowing how much money is coming in and how much is going out. As we head into the new year, review your pay stubs, earnings reports and other sources of income and crunch some numbers. Once you’ve figured out your income, do the same with your expenses.

Try out an online budget tool or use online banking to automatically categorize your expenses so you can see where you are spending the most. Pull up your budget from last year to see what may have changed and adjust as needed. Remember to be realistic about how much you will spend, not how much you want to spend.

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Broadening Your Horizons with Non-traditional Higher Education

SHJ082116_College_Options_Blog_ImageReleased by The College Board, the average price paid for tuition, fees, and room and board in 2015-2016 was $43,921 at private colleges and $19,548 at public institutions. Along with the rising tuition prices, the balance of outstanding student loans has risen over $1.2 trillion with 40 million borrowers and an average balance of $29,000 (source). With numbers like this, parents who are saving for their child’s higher education may start to wonder, what is the value of attending a 4-year public or private university? And, are there other options?

As technology improves and the definition of a “traditional student” evolves, community colleges are starting to gain traction. Community colleges benefit a wide range of learners varying in age, location and need. Many offer two year programs, some of which can be completed entirely online. These programs make degrees more accessible for individuals who are already in the workforce or need flexible class schedules. By attending a community college, individuals can take advantage of program variety and small class sizes without the price tag of a private or public university.

However, if your student wants the “traditional campus experience”, consider taking a few general classes at a community college close to home over the summer to help reduce overall costs.

Another option is to look internationally to broaden your experience and reduce your costs. Pursuing a degree abroad opens the door to once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities while acquiring marketable cultural skills that short term study abroad programs may not provide. You may also find studies more tailored to your interests or needs, perhaps art history in France or a culinary program in Italy.

Make an appointment with your Certified Financial Planner™ to further discuss your college planning options. If you have already started contributing to a 529 College Savings plan remember that these funds can be used for Community Colleges and 339 schools in foreign countries!

5 Tips to Keep Holiday Spending Under Control

The holidays sneak up on us every year. Often we haven’t taken the time to plan how and what we will spend during the holiday season. Before you start shopping, take a look at our tips to help keep your spending in check and your post-holiday bank account happier.

1. Set a Limit
Take a look at your budget and set a limit for holiday purchases. Consider using cash for shopping so when the money is gone, it is gone. A better suggestion is to fund a holiday spending account throughout the year. That way, the money is already saved and ready to spend guilt-free by the time the holidays roll around.

2. Shorten Your List
Even Santa makes a list of who is naughty and nice. While you might not want to decide who receives gifts the same way Santa does, looking at your list is an important step in keeping your spending under control. If you have more than a handful of people you buy gifts for outside of your immediate family, it may be time to cut down. Instead of buying gifts for everyone, consider writing a personal note or dropping off homemade goods. Continue reading

Retirement Savings 101: What’s the Difference between a Roth 401(k) and a Traditional 401(k)?

Retirement golden eggs on dollars, IRA in focus, 401k blurryDid you know many employers offer a traditional 401(k) and a Roth 401(k)? Learn the difference between the two to see what’s right for you.

Last week we covered the difference between Roth and Traditional IRAs. This week we look at the differences between Roth and Traditional 401(k)s.

Let’s start by defining the 401(k)…

401(k)s are retirement savings plans sponsored by an employer. Employees can defer all or part of their paycheck to the plan, as long as you are within the IRS limits. You can think of it as a deferred salary. Many companies will also match contributions to the plan. Continue reading

Inside the Economy with SH&J: March 30, 2015

We’re back from our brief hiatus and have some interesting topics in this week’s discussion. Listen in to hear some insights into Japan’s economy, the good news for Americans and their savings as well as an update on the Eurozone and Greece. We look forward to hearing your comments and questions in the comments section below!