Create Your Post-College Budget In 6 Easy Steps

Establish A Post-College Budget In Just 6 Steps

Congratulations on having earned your diploma and on having received a job offer. This time of life is guaranteed to be exciting.

As you begin planning your next moves, it is vital to have a budget. How do you create a post-college budget? Following are several things that I discovered after having graduated and started my first adult job.

Consider Your Monthly Income

Investment
Investment (Photo credit: LendingMemo)

You might have an awesome starting salary, but you should not use this figure to write out your budget. Determine how much you’re going to be bringing in after taxes every month instead. Remember that federal taxes, social security and Medicare are all going to be deducted from your check.

Employees are going to have to pay 6.2% of their wage earnings, up to minimum wage. A tax rate of 1.45% is paid for Medicare. If you are self-employed, however, these rates are going to be double.

Next, figure your federal income tax rate according to your projected earnings. You will be surprised by how much is going to be deducted from your check.

Think About Retirement
Decide how much you are going to invest in your 401k. Will your employer be matching your 401k? Use this match to your benefit as it is included in your compensation. Invest the minimum in order to receive this match.

If you are able to, make an immediate effort to max out your 401k. Should you invest with pre-tax money, this is going to lower the rate for your federal income tax at the year’s end. Always use low-cost funds to invest.
H&R Block gives amazing tips for investing.

Take Advantage of Pre-Tax Dollars

Use a Health Savings Account or a Flexible Savings Account to save pre-tax dollars. Do you have forthcoming medical expenses that you can cover with pre-tax money? Braces, contacts, glasses, doctor visits and prescriptions are things that you can use this money for. These savings are automatic.

Wisely Choose Your Housing
It is very easy to move into a luxury apartment after graduating. This is what I did. In retrospect, I wish I chose an apartment that was more affordable.

Housing advice varies. Some people say that you should spend no more than 30% of your earnings for a rental or 28% for your mortgage.

List Your Monthly Expenses
List all of the bills that you need to pay each month including sewage, water, rent, Internet, electricity, groceries, cable, car insurance, gym fees, debt payments, renter’s insurance, cell phone services, etc. You will have to allocate you monthly earnings for these expenses. Budgets are used to track and manage this spending.

Save Money!
Put aside monies to create an emergency fund. You never know when car maintenance issues and other expenses will arise.

You can also invest in a traditional IRA or ROTH to take your savings plan a bit further.

Creating a solid financial house early in life will assure you of a comfortable financial future.

Tax Carnival Ecstasy – July 30, 2013

Cover of Book, The Art of Investing in America.
Cover of Book, The Art of Investing in America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welcome to the July 30, 2013 edition of Tax Carnival Ecstasy. We start this edition with some short term financial goals by Viveka on the blog ‘My Journey to Millions’. John Schmoll takes a look at investing in the stock market and the level of difficulty that you face when you invest for retirement. And finally Bill Smith looks at annuities as investments and the tax implications of investing in them. Hope you like all the articles, bookmark our carnival, like on Facebook, tweet the link and come back real soon.

David presents Quick Way to Save Money on Booking a Hotel Reservation posted at Financial Nerd, saying, “Interesting Way I saved money by booking a hotel reservation”

viveka presents Top 15 Most Popular Coupon Websites posted at Top 15 Most Popular Music Websites, saying, “Here are the 15 Most Popular Coupon Websites ranked by a combination of constantly updated traffic statistics.”

deductions

viveka presents Short Term Financial Goals posted at My Journey to Millions, saying, “Short Term Financial Goals – My Journey to Millions”

filing

viveka presents The Detroit Bankruptcy Should Teach You that Nothing is Guaranteed with your Finances posted at My Journey to Millions, saying, “Detroit\’s recent bankruptcy should teach you something about risk and your personal finances and retirement. Real possibility of reduction in pension and trimming of bonds”

viveka presents Dividend Investment Portfolio Archives posted at My Journey to Millions, saying, “Dividend Investment Portfolio Archives – My Journey to Millions”

retirement

John Schmoll presents Is Investing in the Stock Market Really That Easy? posted at Frugal Rules, saying, “Many are overwhelmed when it comes to investing in the stock market. With a little homework and due diligence it can actually be simplified quite a bit and can lead to more efficient investing for long term needs like retirement.”

viveka presents Will I ever Lose my 401k? posted at My Journey to Millions.

tips

Bill Smith presents Are Annuities a Good Investment posted at 2011 Tax, saying, “There are two different types of annuities: deferred annuities and immediate annuities. The type of annuity you choose depends on how soon you expect to receive payments.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of tax carnival ecstasy using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

The Reverse Mortgage Disadvantages Are Whoppers

turbotax

There are many retirees out there who are in a world of hurt.  The economy has all but killed the American dream of retirement.  Trying to work until they are forced out, many seniors find that they just cannot survive on the pittance of a pension that they receive and social security is little more than a stipend.  For this reason, many of them are telling their heirs that there is no such thing as Santa Clause.  It is starve or sell the home.  There is another option, however, that many are considering, the reverse mortgage.

Standing Toe To Toe

The reverse mortgages pros and cons, when stood toe to toe, look at first to be quite lopsided.  It really appears that the pros far outweigh the reverse mortgage disadvantages… at first glance, that is.  When you really get a good look at the reverse mortgage disadvantages, however, you begin to realize that the pros are fluffed up to look bigger by agents and companies that want the business.

A Bunch of Whoppers

The reverse mortgages disadvantages are whoppers, even if there are only a few of them.  You have to have reached the age of 62 to receive the loan.  The interest is really big and there are huge up front fees involved.  The reverse mortgages pros and cons have to be scrutinized with a magnifying glass to see the details, but they are right there in black and white.  On the pros side of the coin, however, you do no have to repay the loan as long as you live in the house that you cherish so much.

Better Than the Alternative

The worst of the reverse mortgage disadvantages is that your children will never get to live in the home or benefit from its equity.  This is really sad if any of the children wanted to move into the place once you were gone.  The reverse mortgages pros and cons are hard to digest, but it is better than the hardships that are its alternative.

3 Ways in which you can accelerate debt reduction

If you are under severe debts and do not know what to do, then you should understand that debt reduction should be your primary focus. This is because debt reduction can help you reduce stress and levels and leaves you with more cash that you can save or utilize in investments to make money.

Some of the ways in which you can reduce your debts and also make sure that you save are as follows.

1. Plan a budget to manage finances: It is most essential for you to formulate a budget that you can use by which you can assess your financial condition. The budget that you formulate should list all your expenses and also your monthly income. It should have categories to tell you how much you spend and where you spend it. This helps you in getting a clear picture of your finances and also makes you aware about where you are spending and how much you are spending. You must also make provisions in your budget so that you can save a certain amount every month. You must subtract the total expenses from the total income and the amount that you get is to be used to pay off your debts. If you feel that this amount is not sufficient, then you must try to reduce your expenses or increase your income. The budget keeps you motivated and helps in debt reduction as well as savings.

2. Do not spend on what you do not need: It is important for you to know that when you are paying off your debts you are to try and spend as less as possible. This is to be done so that you can save enough to pay off your debts. Every month make a list of the things that you really need and buy only those things. Things that you desire but do not need must be avoided. The best way to refrain yourself form making such purchases is to wait. If you want to buy something that is very expensive wait for a few days to make the purchase. You will gradually realize that the desire to possess it has left you. This will save you a lot of money and you will be able to pay off your debts with ease. After you have finished paying your debts, if you still practice this, you will have enough left for investing and making money.

3. Do not add up more debt: You should try not to add more debt to your existing debt. This is because when you are already paying off debts then it is best that you do not take on new debts. If you take on new debts, then you will have to pay a certain amount of money towards it. This will lead to a shortfall in the amount that you have to pay off towards your current debts. In order to avoid that and accelerate debt reduction you must not take on further debt. This will also help you save and make more money in future.

These are a few ways in which you can tread the path of debt reduction and opt for a new way life where you have enough to save and enough to invest.

How To Do Your Own Taxes

Filing your taxes each year is like running a race with hurdles and hoops to jump over and through with no clear idea of what prize will await at the end of the race. Sure it may be fun for some, but if you are like most people, it is a dreaded affair. At least there is the hope of a positive lump sum of money when you are done.

Doing your own taxes is much cheaper than going to a CPA and is probably worth the effort on your part should you not have a very complex return. When should you fork out the money and get help from a CPA?

1.      You have inherited a large sum of money. There is a complex set of rules that your CPA will know about when you receive a large gift or amount of money. It’s best to trust their advice in this situation.

2.      You are starting a small business. This is highly recommended when you start; then, if you feel comfortable, you can do your own taxes in the years to come. You want to get as much money as possible and flying solo when starting out is risky.

While getting your taxes done by a professional has gotten cheaper over the years, it still is not fun paying someone before the possibility of paying more back to the state and federal governments. You will find that it may include a little painful stretching as you venture to do your own taxes this year, but it will be cheaper, and you will feel satisfied with the new skills you have learned.

The most common concern with doing your own taxes is that you will not get as much back from Uncle Sam than if you went through someone like H&R Block. TurboTax guarantees you will get the maximum amount by using their software. And they have boiled down the complex federal tax system to simple, easy steps. Pricing on TurboTax software packages range from the simple filer for free to someone that owns a corporation. Even so, it will be cheaper than having a professional do it for you. The good thing about TurboTax is that it makes it simple enough for the amateur.

Even though the price is cheap and the process is simple, there are a couple things outside of TurboTax to remember.

1.      Keep track of all of your employers, investments, retirement accounts, charitable donations, and other income before you start. This will help you not miss out on potential returns and will help you miss out on penalties.

2.      Organize. The better you keep things together, the easier the process will be.  After you have written down a list of all accounts and income, follow up with employers or fund managers that you have not received anything from. Once things are put together it involves following easy steps that TurboTax provides.

About the author: Gunter Jameson writes about minimalism, pell grants, and anything else that interests him.