26 September 2017

2017 September Challenge: Back Where I Come From – Day 26




For more information on this challenge, click here.


26. Does your hometown experience all four seasons? If not, which ones does it skip over?

Yes, unlike here on the Texas Gulf Coast, Anderson County, South Carolina, experienced all four seasons and it was wonderful! Summers were hot, spring and fall were cool and colorful, and winter was cold, just like it is supposed to be.
 
 
Please join the challenge by either sharing a link to your challenge post in the comments or answering in the comment section. Please visit David’s post over at Random Thoughts and Observations.
 
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25 September 2017

Guest Post: 3 Retirement Scenarios That Every Couple Needs To Be Ready For


3 Retirement Scenarios That Every Couple
Needs To Be Ready For


The golden years look murky for many married couples who are still years away from retirement. Statistics show they haven’t planned well financially.

Almost half of married Americans – 46 percent ­– die nearly broke, according to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.  Surveys by GoBankingRates showed 56 percent of Americans have put away less than $10,000 toward retirement, and that about 75 percent over age 40 are behind on saving for retirement.

The uncertainties that lie ahead in retirement – life span, health, market factors, unexpected expenses – make it important for married couples to have different income plans in place to cover various scenarios.

“Every married couple needs three retirement-income plans, but most don’t even have one,” says Jeff Dixson (www.nwfts.net), a financial educator and radio talk-show host on retirement-planning matters.

“Nine out of 10 people do not have a financial plan at all. They may have some investments, but that’s not a financial plan, especially for retirement. They typically don’t understand how each investment works, what fees they’re paying, and the tax advantages and disadvantages.”

Dixson outlines three scenarios that married couples can experience in retirement and how they can get through it or plan ahead accordingly.

  • Plan A: What if you both live to be 100? One of the biggest fears people have in retirement is outliving their money. So, to do well if you both live well past normal life expectancy, it’s important to have money coming in from a solid combination of sources, Dixson says. For example, married couples may have two Social Security checks, one or two pension checks and then their investible assets. With that many income sources, they might be OK. Pensions, though, will be fewer in the future, Dixson cautions, so it’s vital for those without one to plan ahead regarding the other assets.


  • Plan B: What happens to her if he dies first? This will immediately impact the monthly cash flow, Dixson says. The wife would get to keep the higher of the two Social Security checks but not both. Planning beforehand regarding how the husband’s pension check is set up, and whether he had a survivor benefit for the spouse, has a big effect on monthly income.


  • Plan C: What happens to him if she dies first? It’s a similar scenario to Plan B, with less monthly income due to the loss of one Social Security check. Proactive planning in asset areas can help cover the gap. Dixson says the volatility of the stock market the past two decades means retirees can’t bank on the same withdrawal rates previous generations have used. This will affect the income stream a retiree can generate, ultimately making things that much more difficult for today’s retirees.


“There are a lot of pieces to the retirement puzzle,” Dixson says. “It simply makes sense to plan proactively for what could happen in the future instead of burying your head in the sand.”


About Jeff Dixson



Jeff Dixson (www.nwfts.net) is known as “The Retirement Coach” and is the founder and president of Northwest Financial & Tax Solutions, Inc. A respected financial educator, Jeff hosts a weekly radio show that airs on seven stations and is author of Winning The Retirement Game.









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Guest Post: 3 Reasons College Students Should Run Their Own Businesses



3 Reasons College Students Should Run Their Own Businesses
                       

A typical student’s goal with a college degree is to join a company. Yet some graduates lack specific business essentials and life skills crucial to landing solid employment and finding long-term success.
                       
Perhaps they should demand more of themselves while in school, and rather than merely aspire to join a company, actually gain the experience of running one. Learning how to run their own business from the ground up while attending college can give students a leg up.
                       
“When you run your own business, you will learn how to market and sell yourself,” says Matt Stewart, co-founder of College Works Painting (www.collegeworks.com), which provides internships geared to managing a house-painting business. “Those are skills often lacking in college students.”
                       
The extra time spent outside the classroom acquiring experience in the many aspects of business management can pay off in a broader education, which in turn can lead to better employment prospects. Here are some of the benefits Stewart sees for students who run a business while in college:
                       
  • Learning to deal with rejection. Rejection will happen early and perhaps often when the college graduate goes to job interviews. Learning how a business owner keeps pushing forward when rejected on sales calls will strengthen the future job aspirant for the rugged world out there. “It’s an eye-opener for many college students who have never been told no before,” Stewart says. “Are you just going to cry because the first person says you’re not qualified for the job?”

  • Adding skills to the resume. The tough job market for recent college grads has been a trend since the Great Recession (2007-09). Forty-four percent were underemployed (in jobs not requiring degrees) in the final quarter of 2016, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Thus, a more balanced resume and diverse experience is required to separate the new job seeker from the crowd. “It used to be you just needed a bachelor’s degree and an internship,” Stewart says, “but now you also better have tangible skills and the soft skills – being able to communicate, knowing how to work with others, how to interact. You have to do that when you run a business.”

  • Learning time management. Much of the college experience could be used constructively to learn this important life skill, yet many students don’t always use their down time wisely. Being busier with a learn-a-business internship, coupled with a full load of classes, could equate to better time management. “If you’re going to school and running your own business, you have to manage your time well,” Stewart says. “If you’re taking 12 to 15 credit hours in a semester, that’s maybe 30 hours of work each week. You have a ton of hours left, and what are you going to do with that time?”
                       
                       
Before a company invests in college graduates, it looks at the amount of quality time and effort they invested in their future. Learning a business while going to school shows an interest in acquiring the proper mindset.
                       
“The start of a successful career,” Steward says, “is treating college like it’s your job and getting ready for your life after college.”
                       
About Matt Stewart
                       
Matt Stewart is co-founder of College Works Painting (www.collegeworks.com/about), which provides business experience for thousands of college students each year. The award-winning program also offers high-quality house-painting services for homeowners.


Image Source: Pixabay

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Guest Post: How To Shave $300 (Or More) Off Your Monthly Budget In 30 Minutes

How To Shave $300 (Or More) Off
                       
Your Monthly Budget In 30 Minutes
                       
                       
In an age when many people live paycheck to paycheck, every dollar saved counts.
                       
But people may not routinely think about all the ways they can cut expenses and make their financial lives less stressful, says Chris Heerlein, partner at REAP Financial LLC and author of Money Won’t Buy Happiness – But Time to Find It (www.moneywontbuyhappiness.com).
                       
“You really should try to cut costs whenever possible, within reason,” Heerlein says. “For example, if you eat before you go to the movies, you are less likely to be tempted to buy popcorn, candy and drinks. In fact, if you just wait for the movie to come out on DVD, you can rent it and save a whole lot more.”
                       
Once you begin to explore all the cost-cutting possibilities, you may be able to trim $300 or more from your monthly expenditures just by making a few quick phone calls or asking the right questions in your day-to-day dealings, Heerlein says.
                       
Just a few ways to do that include:
                       
  • Ask for card a credit interest-rate reduction. If you don’t carry a balance on your credit card, then you are in good shape. But many people do carry a balance – in some cases a large balance – and that can be a killer on your monthly budget, especially if you just pay the minimum payments. Heerlein suggests calling your credit card company and asking politely for a rate reduction for a short period. “Most of them will do it if you have a good payment record,” he says. “I’ve seen companies cut the annual percentage rate in half for customers who just ask. You can also ask if they have any zero interest balance transfer offers.”

  • Reduce annual fees on credit cards. Some credit cards come with big annual fees because they provide a lot of perks. Just like the interest rates, you can call the credit card company to ask them to waive the fee or reduce it. “Of course, it helps if you have been a good customer for many years,” Heerlein says.

  • Seek lower rent. If you plan to stay in the same location for at least four or five years, you would be better off buying a home. But if you need to rent, it’s possible to negotiate how much you pay. “This is especially true with apartment complexes,” Heerlein says. “If you live in a large complex, there could be between $50 and $200 of wiggle room in your monthly rent.” When the apartment manager shows you the apartment, mention that you are looking at other apartments because that’s a bargaining chip for you, he says. An additional bargaining chip could be to offer to pre-pay a few months of rent in exchange for a reduction. “I have owned rental property, and I was always willing to do that for people,” he says.

  • Take advantage of online coupons. Heerlein says that whenever he shops online, the first thing he does is type the merchant’s name into a Google search to see if there’s a coupon code for the item he wants.
                       
“There are plenty of other places you may be able to negotiate a price reduction, like with your cable company or your cell phone provider,” Heerlein says. “The most important thing to remember is that it never hurts to ask.”
                       
                       
About Chris Heerlein
                       
Chris Heerlein, author of Money Won’t Buy Happiness – But Time to Find It (www.moneywontbuyhappiness.com), is an Investment Adviser Representative and partner at REAP Financial LLC. He hosts the “Retire Ready” TV and radio shows in Austin, Texas, and has been featured in national media outlets such as Fortune, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Money magazines. Heerlein also is an ongoing contributor to the financial publication Kiplinger.







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Press Release: Fire Department Coffee Supports Mental Health Care through Rosecrance Florian Program


Fire Department Coffee Supports Mental Health Care through Rosecrance Florian Program

The veteran and firefighter founded coffee company is donating 20% of their sales to support the cause.


 
From September 15-30, Fire Department Coffee will donate 20% of all online sales to the Rosecrance Florian Program to support mental health care for service professionals.
The program provides uniformed service personnel--including firefighters, police, military, medical personnel, and chaplains--with the tools they need to confront and overcome the serious issues that arise from traumatic experiences on the job.

Fire Dept Coffee is the creator of the highest-octane yet easiest-drinking coffee on the market for the hardest working men and women in the nation. Since the launch of FDC, the roasting company’s mission to give back to their fellow service men and women has strengthened, and their bonds with service based charities have deepened. FDC is honored and extremely appreciative of all the support they have received over the last year to help raise funds for charitable organizations.
“Since the launch of Fire Department Coffee, we’ve donated a portion of our proceeds to support firefighter and military charities,” said FDC founder and US Navy veteran Luke Schneider. “We’ve decided to focus on the Rosecrance Florian Program because our service men and women are facing an unspoken epidemic. This program gives so many another chance at life.”

The Rosecrance Florian Program was developed by Dan DeGryse and Dr. Raymond Garcia. DeGryse is a battalion chief and emergency medical technician with 27 years of service in the Chicago Fire Department. He also has three decades of experience in the fields of addiction and mental health. Garcia is a psychologist and Addiction Specialist trained in treating uniformed service personnel.


The recovery program targets the complex issues that are unique to the culture of uniformed service personnel. It offers treatment for PTSD, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and more in the format that’s right for the patient.

In addition to their promotion, Schneider and the Fire Department Coffee team will also be participating in the 2nd annual Rosecrance Florian Symposium on September 21-22 in Rosemont, Illinois.

To get involved, online shoppers can order regular or dark roast coffee in 1-pound bags, 6-pound bags or 12-packs of single-serve cups. Fire Department Coffee creates its made-to-order coffee at its roasting facility in Rockford, Illinois.

About Fire Department Coffee
Luke Schneider launched Fire Dept. Coffee in July of 2016 with the mission to bring the easiest drinking coffee to the nation's hardest working men and women. Luke is a Navy Veteran and firefighter paramedic near Chicago.

For samples or additional information, please visit www.firedeptcoffee.com



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