A Personal Finance Checklist To Kick Off Your 30’s

A personal finance checklist can help you achieve financial goals.

A personal finance checklist can help you achieve future goals.

A personal finance checklist can be useful to ensure you are on well on your way to achieving financial success (or even simply evaluating where you stand).

Your 20’s are a great time to figure your life (and yourself) out. By the time you are 30, though, you should ideally have much of your life in order. Today’s millennials do tend to take longer to get married and start their lives, as recent reports show, but in order to set yourself up for your later years, you should analyze and improve your finances now.

I just celebrated my 29th birthday at the end of April, which encouraged me to reflect on my life experiences thus far and consider the future. The last decade was focused on enhancing and nurturing my career and my personal life along with developing myself as a full-blown adult. Basically, I spent the last 10 years getting my life in order.

As I prepare for a new decade, it’s time to take the next steps for my future. One of the first steps includes using my own personal financial checklist to accomplish over the next year in order to achieve more of my financial goals. With each milestone, my monetary ambitions change, and yours should too. I’ve already accomplished some of these topics and others still need improvement. As you begin to map out your own, this personal finance checklist will hopefully help you in more ways than one as well:

Budgeting 

  • If you have not already created a budget for yourself, you should do this first and foremost. Tracking your income and expenses is definitely not fun, but it does help to keep you in check and help you build wealth.

Reduce your debt 

  • By the time I was 27, I had paid off my car and two credit cards. My credit score not only went up significantly following these achievements, but I was able to use the money I was using toward this debt to increase my savings account. While I still have my student loan debt I am working on, my credit cards were my top priority to pay off as their interest rates tend to be higher than student loans. I’ve been able to pay more than the minimum amount each month over the last few years with less debt hanging over my shoulders though.

Save for retirement 

  • If you have not been lucky enough to have a 401(k) or similar retirement plan with your job, it’s time to open your own Roth IRA or another retirement savings account option. If you do have a 401(k) with your employer, start contributing more toward this fund. Ask your employer about a match program they may offer and do what you need to do in order to take advantage of this benefit. If you can swing it, you could invest in a separate plan as well as following one with work.
    • How much should you put toward retirement? A common recommendation is a minimum of 10% of your income. If that does not seem feasible at this time, especially with other savings plans you may be contributing to, such as an emergency fund, shoot for 2-5% and work your way up to the 10% goal.

Diversify your financial portfolio

  • As you reach your 30’s, this becomes important to include on your finance checklist. Mix up your investments through stocks, bonds and the like. Before going into such a venture blindly, be sure to do your research and even consult with a financial adviser or stock broker.

Plan for the future

  • No one ever wants to really think about dying or life emergencies, but the fact of the matter is, anything can happen to any of us at any time. As you begin to build financial stability, consider starting a family and reach more life milestones, you will want to contemplate the following:
    • Life insurance. Having a life insurance plan for you (and your spouse, regardless of whether or not he or she works) will be imperative in making any hurdles life throws your or your family’s way a little easier to deal with.
    • Naming beneficiaries on your accounts. Appointing your assets to various people in the event of your passing may not seem necessary at this point in your life, but you need to be prepared for anything. If you are not married and do not have a family of your own, you will want to consider leaving your financial accounts and any assets to your parents or siblings. Your beneficiaries will most likely change and need updated multiple times throughout your life, but get it started now so that it is not a worry later.
    • Estate planning. You do not need to be wealthy in order to start your estate planning. Get a power of attorney and a health care proxy to act on your behalf should you become debilitated and/or lose the ability to make your own decisions. Doing this will ensure you still have a full say in what happens particularly to you and your family.
    • Disability insurance. Regardless of age, you should be prepared for any event in life. If something happens that causes you to no longer be capable of working, disability insurance will provide you with a source of income.

Have a financial plan with your significant other

  • Married or not, live-in couples and relationships that openly discuss finances tend to have a higher success rate in surviving the partnership. Talk to your significant other about a financial plan and goals and compromise when needed.
    • Not married or living with a significant other? Create your own financial plan and be as specific with it as possible.

While a personal finance checklist may seem a bit daunting, it does not have to be all work and no play. It is still important to remember to splurge on yourself from time to time. As you become more financially responsible (and stable), you will find this much easier to do without placing much stress on your bank account.

Start a new decade off right with this personal finance checklist as a beginning point. If you are already in your 30’s and have yet to incorporate any of the above items, take some time to begin including these in your life goals and plan.

What would you add to the list?

 

What to Look for When Buying Your First Home

First-time home buying is exciting but also stressful.

First-time home buying is exciting but also stressful.

Buying your first home is an exciting new chapter in your life, whether you are tackling it as a bachelor (or bachelorette) or with your soon-to-be wife (or husband).

It can be fun daydreaming about designing your new home, but one of the biggest mistakes you can make is putting the cart before the horse. First-time home buyers have the tendency to house hunt first and prepare later. Avoid this mistake, which can cost you time and money, by following these guidelines before buying your first house:

  • Check your credit report and score. Don’t even bother reviewing all those online listings until you know whether or not your credit can handle buying a home. Even if your credit can handle it, you want to have a strong enough financial background that you will be able to get a lower interest rate on your loan. It is recommended to review this at least six months before the shopping process so that you can spend some time improving it.
  • Know what you need, and prioritize. There is a difference between needs and wants, and when going into a large purchase like this, you may have to make some sacrifices of what you want for what you need. Factors such as the neighborhood, school district and location should all make your checklist. Basing your home buying decision on looks and layout alone may leave you feeling regretful.
  • Know what you can afford. Getting your finances in order and knowing what you can afford each month for your new house will be imperative to avoiding future issues. Often, there are hidden costs that are forgotten once those papers are signed such as taxes, insurance, maintenance and so on. It is safer to over-estimate your monthly payments to ensure you are fully financially prepared. Another good home-buying practice is getting an idea of what your down payment will be. This venture is all about being as prepared as possible for all costs.
  • Get pre-approved. Once you know your credit score, it’s time to see how much you are able to borrow. Sellers want to know this number, and it’s important for you to realize your spending range as well. Getting pre-qualified for a loan will help to save you time and energy as you begin the process.
  • Find the best real estate agent for you. Buying your first home is no joke, so you should spend some time finding the right real estate agent for your needs, budgets and goals. Talk to co-workers, friends and families for referrals to try to find that person you feel like you can already trust. Take some time to shop around for a real estate agent as you shop around for your home. You may want to even look into hiring a realtor to take your search one step further and ensure that credibility.
  • Consider educational seminars or consulting. The best way to make sure you are making a wise home-buying decision is to know your stuff. Research, know what you are signing off to and keep yourself educated on the process. You may want to look into one-day seminars offered by real estate companies or even consulting with a mortgage lender to really grasp what to expect.
  • Get a home inspection. Last but certainly not least, get that home inspected. You definitely do not want to make such a large purchase without knowing what is beneath those walls. Issues within the home can be fixed prior to you taking over, which will be a huge relief off your shoulders. Just be aware of all the additional expenses in maintenance that would become your responsibility upon ownership.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you begin the home buying process. The more you understand, the better the chances are that you will set yourself up for financial success with your new home.

 

Are Binary Options Worth The Risk?

Binary options can be a gamble.

Binary options can be an excellent option for beginners in investment, but are they worth the risk?

Investment typically always comes with a risk. There is no guarantee of turning around a profit, which is why you need to choose wisely and carefully. There are times, though, when it is hard to predict what will happen in the market, as was the case in the 2008 crash.

That’s why binary options seem to be so great; it simplifies the process by making your trades either a “yes” or “no” and reduces the risk of a big loss. Or, does it?

When you begin diving into the world of investing, everything seems a bit overwhelming. So, an option that makes everything simpler sounds right up any beginner’s alley, right? If you’re looking to learn more about binaries and market trends, check out Banc De Binary, where they share articles daily.

However, this 2010 Forbes article argues that binary options websites are glorified gambling sites. Binary options are rather new, and the Forbes Investor Team states in the post that they are also deceptive. Despite the controlled risk, the total invested can quickly add up in one day due to the addictive nature of binaries.

BinaryOptionsGeek.com states that the simplistic nature of binary options also make it easy to trade; however, this can be frustrating for some as it does invite those with zero investment knowledge to place a trade and cash in on your loss. (Although, that is the appeal to beginners, right?)  The site also argues that although binaries can easily and unfortunately be used as a gambling tool, it is also an excellent resource for some people to be better performers in trading.

More often than not, the person and their discipline in the industry will determine their investment success. Binary options open the door for multiple trades and a wide range of assets. With one particular focus, though, binary options can be lucrative as well as get your feet wet in the trading game at the little risk that they promise.

Whatever route you take, one trick you could use with stock is to pretend that you don’t actually have it. Seeking stock with decent dividends is key, which actually brings us to our next point.

Do your research. Truly. If you’ve been considering investing in stock more and are unsure where to start, researching is the best place. Take some time to understand the market, the trends and the basics so that you are not going in with a blind eye. Even as easy as binary options are supposedly designed to be, start small. All of this analysis also includes the programs in which you plan to use, particularly for binary options, as you will want to choose the ones who are most transparent so that you have a strong understanding of how the platform works.

Risk is fairly relative and is dependent upon the finances of the individual interested in pursuing options trading. Therefore, for you newbies, binary options at fixed gains could be worth the risk if you are able to afford a market downswing at your level of investment as well as obtaining some type of knowledge in the industry prior to starting.

As your financial portfolio begins to grow in addition to your investment experience, you can start to expand your profit ventures. Just remember to stay away from those “get rich quick” schemes. These are typically red flags.