Retirement Planning: A cFIREsim Review

cFIREsim

It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. In fact, the sooner you start planning the better. But, when retirement age feels light years away, it can be hard to be motivated to do so. Not to mention, how do you know how much you should contribute to a retirement fund? What will be best for you when you don’t have a current retirement budget? The internet is full of helpful retirement tools to assist, such as cFIREsim, which just might have the answers you need.

What is cFIREsim?

cFIREsim is a free web-based tool that stands for Crowdsourced Financial Independence and Early Retirement (FIRE) Simulator. It uses data from the last 146 years to simulate how your portfolio would stand the test of time. According to the cFIREsim website, it “uses historical stock/bond/gold/inflation data from 1871 to present, and calculates how your portfolio would have fared throughout history.”

To use the simulator, you will fill in few responses regarding your current retirement plan. From there, it mimics your financial future based on how well your portfolio did throughout some of the toughest times in history. Using this tool, you’ll be able to see whether or not you’re account will survive based on how much you want to take out during retirement. Once you’ve put in your information, you’ll be directed to a color-coded interactive graph, which will show your portfolio compared over time.

cfireism graph

cFIREsim Pros

There are no frills with cFIREsim; upon entering the site, you can immediately start entering your information. There is no copy to navigate through to get to the simulator. The entire site is essentially the simulation.

If unsure where to start, you’ll be able to reference the cFIREsim FAQ and tutorial, but you can start with the most basic information. This includes the year you plan to retire, the year you plan to live until,  your current retirement information, and how much you’d like to live off of per year. Thus, to get an idea of what your retirement will look like, you only need basic information to start. Although the more details you enter, the better idea you’ll have.

One of the biggest pros of cFIREsim is the fact that you do not have to create any kind of account to participate nor do you have to pay anything. The tool is completely free to for users.

cFIREsim Cons

Even though the site allows you to immediately get started with your retirement simulation, the fact that there is no introduction to the page makes it a little confusing. The layout can feel overwhelming if you did not read the tutorial first or know what type of information you should enter. The graph can also seem overwhelming, but it is simply showing you how well your retirement would have done back through 1871.

Accuracy can also be an issue due to the fact that taxes are not incorporated into the simulation as well as inflation rates calculated yearly. In addition, the forms do not appear to be updated, and their tutorial could also provide more details explaining the varying capabilities of cFIREsim, as there are quite a few beyond the basic retirement planner, the site claims.

Overall, when used as just a tool to provide an idea of how to plan for your future retirement, it can be useful.

What are your thoughts of cFIREsim? 

Business Practices that Translate Well to Personal Finances

seniors pay debtsFinances are finances. Whether you are a global corporation with assets in the billions of dollars or an itinerant busker living from gig to gig, the way you use the money you have is a comparable process. To make money, in business or personal life, using the assets you already have is the key.

Large corporations all started out with one person who was willing to invest his time to make money. There are no exceptions to this. No company started out fully built and funded, ready to take on even bigger challenges. Your personal life is similar.

Note: If you did start out with plenty of money and time, through inheritance or pure luck, this article could introduce you to some concepts that might have been skipped, like working for a living.

Investing time or money is still investing

Investments can be either time or money. When we work, we are investing our time in expectation of getting compensated for it. You clock in, do your job and get paid.  Businesses invest their money in expectation of being rewarded by making even more.

Successful businesses invest their assets wisely. They are constantly looking for the most efficient, least expensive way to make or sell a product to make them money. Look at Apple, for example. They don’t manufacture their iPhones in China to increase the standard of living in that country. They manufacture them there because it is much cheaper. The bottom line for Apple (and many other companies) is that keeping the cost of their products down means they have more profit in the company coffers.

Delayed gratification can reap benefits

By keeping costs down, you have more money to invest in your future. Working hard while young means that your quality of life should improve through your career. As we go from minimum wage jobs to careers that give us a living wage, maintaining a lower quality of living allows us to invest more money into our future.

Adapting that philosophy to your personal life means that you should look for the most cost-effective way to do everything. Balancing cost vs standard of living gives us reason to strive to succeed. It is cheaper to eat Ramen noodles than a Porterhouse steak, but our standard of living should eventually rise high enough where we can choose the steak.

Keeping your reputation pristine

A business that pays its bills slowly or sporadically gets a reputation. They have difficulty finding sources for stock and have trouble keeping employees. They have allowed the needs of the moment to override long-term advantages.

We see the same problem with people who get into trouble living above their means. A corporation may have a line of credit for account receivable that gets overdue, while a person may have overextended their credit, but the result is the same. In the short term, you will have trouble getting credit to cover your expenses and in the long term, you will have trouble buying the more expensive things – such as houses or cars – that most people cannot pay for out of pocket.

Protect your credit rating like your life depends on it. Having less-than-good credit makes it much more difficult to increase your quality of life when you reach the point where that becomes an overriding concern.

There are fundamental differences between people and corporations, but there is a great deal of overlap in the importance of fiscal discipline and wise investments. For most of us, the one thing we have to invest is our time. Unlike money, time is finite. Once you have used it, it’s gone with no way to get it back.

7 Easy Ways to Fix Your Credit

easy ways to fix your credit

If you have the day off today it’s the perfect time to spend it improving your personal finances, and it all starts with your credit.

Analyzing our financial situations can be a daunting task, especially if a bad credit score haunts you. But, despite how easy it is to fall victim to credit, it doesn’t have to be the enemy we often make it out to be. If the words “charge it” made a regular appearance in your everyday vocabulary without a plan of action, you may be in need of some personal credit repair. Although the damage may seem irreversible, there are easy ways to fix your credit. Below, I’ve listed just a few:

Easy Ways to Fix Your Credit

Don’t Transfer Your Credit

It may be tempting to simply transfer your credit from one card to another, but avoid this as much as possible. All you are doing is causing yourself more heartache and (and debt) instead of taking action on your existing due payments. Along with putting off the inevitable, you may be subject to transfer fees and are therefore increasing your costs.

Keep Cards Without Annual Fees Open

As counterintuitive as it sounds, don’t close all your accounts at once. Instead, keep the ones that do not charge you annual fees to use for small purchases. The key is to make sure you then pay off those balances right away to avoid late fees, increased interest, and so on. This action alone is one small step you can take in improving your credit. Plus, canceling your cards without taking the proper steps (or that still have a balance) can end up hurting you more. CreditCards.com provides these helpful tips on how to cancel a credit card.

Seek Help Online

The internet is full of resources just waiting to help you with all your financial woes. In addition to this blog, you can find companies online dedicated to helping you repair your credit, such as Credit Sesame, which is a free web-based tool that provides you with not only a free credit score but advice on how to improve it as well. Not to mention, there are plenty of online financial forums you can participate in as well, like this one.

Review the Statute of Limitations on Your Debt

Your debt does have a statute of limitations, which essentially means the length of time that passes where a creditor can sue you for the outstanding payment. This length of time varies from state to state. If the statute of limitations on your debt has run out, you’ll be able to negotiate a lower overall sum. In some cases, the collector may end up ceasing efforts to collect the money owed.

Look Into a Secured Credit Card

CreditKarma.com advises individuals looking to rebuild (or building credit history in general) to consider a secured credit card. Secured credit cards, they explain, typically require that you pay a security deposit to work as collateral in the event you may have a past due payment on your account. Because you are taking on the financial risk with this deposit, they are not only easier to obtain approval by lenders but also help you improve your credit.

Avoid Filing for Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy should be an absolute last resort. Try to avoid taking this step as much as you can as this stays on your credit record for roughly seven to ten years. It may wipe out your credit card debt, but it will not improve your credit report. In some cases, it may actually make it worse and will make it harder to obtain a loan or credit cards in the future.

Pay Your Credit Card Bills Early

Make an effort to pay your credit card bills before the statement due date. By paying your bill before your next statement is even ready, you can help to increase your credit score. This is really one of the easiest ways to fix your overall credit.

The important thing to remember is that you are not alone in this process. It does also seem to be easier to improve your credit as you get older, given that time helps to build a credit history, as shown in this December 8, 2016, article on CreditCards.com by Jamie Gonzalez-Garcia. The process is not easy (or fun), but with due diligence and discipline, you can conquer your credit and look forward to reaping the benefits of your hard work.

The above methods are just a few of the easy ways to fix your credit. What would you add to the list?