Top Financial Tips for Millennials

Are you a millennial who feels overwhelmed trying to manage your finances? Are you getting the most out of your money? Financial literacy is not often taught in schools and they don’t do a great job preparing their graduates to manage their finances. So when you’re out of college and start real life, it can be a little overwhelming and it is easy to get yourselves into debt and other financial trouble.

Most millennials are currently in their 20s and 30s – a time when many young people are ready to make major financial decisions in their lives, like home ownership, long-term investment activity, etc. If you’re currently a part of this generation here’s your crash course on what you should do to improve your financial wellness:

Take online financial courses
Since most young adults have the propensity for technology it is suggested you take a few basic online courses in economics, accounting, and any other financial topics that may be of interest to you.

Embrace Technology
When it comes down to managing your money there is probably an app. To help you do that. These apps. Can categorize your spending habits and help you manage your spending. These insights can help you save money each month and then transfer that money directly to your savings. Online financial apps can help you make a workable budget for your lifestyle and ultimately change your net worth.

When it comes down to managing your money there is probably an app to help you do that. Mobile apps like Clarity Money can help you track any wasteful spending habits. Digit and Stash can recommend where you can save money each month and then transfer that money directly to your savings. Online financial apps can help you make a workable budget for your lifestyle and ultimately change your net worth.

Examine Your Current Bank Accounts
Are you paying fees? If so, for what? Monthly maintenance and minimum balance fees should never be a fee on your account statement. Free checking accounts, are available, especially at credit unions and these accounts will help you keep more of your own money in your pockets. So don’t settle for anything else.

Build Your Credit and Understand the Impact of your Credit Score
Early on, you may only have a student loan or a credit card on your credit report. But now it’s time to start building your credit. Ask your credit union about a Credit Builder Loan to help jumpstart your credit. And if you already have some active loans, make sure you’re making payments on time every month. You’ll need that good credit history when you want to make big purchases in the future like a car, rent an apartment, or get a mortgage for your first home.

It’s also important to know that if you are planning on opening up a business your personal credit may be the defining factor in your ability to access necessary working capital.

Repay Debt Tactically
Since we are on the topic of credit, a lot of young adults have credit cards with very high interest rates. Focus on paying off those debts first! If possible, transfer those balances to a lower-rate credit card. It’s much easier to pay down debt when more is going toward the balance.

Track everything to obtain your whole financial picture
Just as businesses manage their cash flow, individuals need to do the same by tracking their income, expenses, assets and liabilities. There are many online tools to help you like Mint, Quicken and Personal Capital.

Build an Emergency Fund
Unplanned/unfair/unfortunate events can happen in the blink of an eye. You may get in a car accident, have unforeseen medical expenses or lose your job. That’s why it’s important for everyone to have an emergency fund. The best way is to set up an automatic savings plan where you pay yourself first by depositing a portion of your paycheck into a separate savings account. If you forget it’s there you won’t be tempted to spend it.

Create a Long-Term Savings Strategy
An emergency fund is a short-term strategy, but you also can’t forget the big picture. Does your employer offer a matching 401(k)? If so, be sure to take advantage of that opportunity. It’s fundamentally free money, and it’s an investment in your future.

Get yourself a financial mentor
Even though there is an overabundance of information and apps on the Internet to help with your financial security, it is far superior to pick the brain and bounce questions off a trusted friend or colleague. Their pertinent insights will most likely be tailored to your specific requirements.

Use these financial tips listed above to get your finances on track while you’re still young. You’ve got a bright future ahead – so start now and stick with it. Your financial well-being will thank you! Although these tips are targeted at millennials, they’re useful for all ages.

Tips on Choosing a Good Auto Repair Shop

Knowing a reliable car repair shop, will help keep your car operating in top condition while giving you peace of mind on the road and of course help protect your vehicle investment. Be cautious of the Auto Repair Shop that will take advantage of an unsuspecting customer. It is best to know something about vehicle repairs so that you are not totally caught off guard when discussing the repair.

Here are some tips for you to help you decide where to take your vehicle when it needs a tune-up or repair.

First look for a reliable car shop in your community. Try to observe where most people take their vehicles when they do have car problems. Try to seek opinions from your friends and neighbors on what car shop they would recommend and ask what experiences they have had. By having testimonials from people, who have experienced a certain repair shop, you can conclude from that how reputable the repair shop is.

Upon taking your car to your chosen shop, check if the shop itself is clean and organized. Try to talk to them about your concern and the possible services that they could offer for your needs. Be specific on the things that you want done. Some car repair shops may offer other services aside from what you really want. One may say that you need to change your brakes or you have some oil leaks when all you really want is for them to change your tires. In this aspect you need to get a full explanation so that you understand the reason for the repairs. and can have confidence that the repairs are really needed. If the repairs are really needed you appreciate the service shop telling you so that more costly repairs are avoided later on.

A good auto repair shop will give you a written estimate and will require your signature before getting the job done, especially on major repairs, such as an engine replacement or a major overhaul. With an estimate you may compare the prices by asking other car shops what they would charge. You can give other shops a phone call or visit their websites to do the research to save time. Try also checking the brands and quality of the materials that the repair shop is using for your car. With this, you will already know where to bring your vehicle. To attract more customers, some automotive shops offer a service warranty for a specific period of time. Hold on to this warranty just in case you need it. It will save cost and aggravation if something does break down.

Women in Business: Power UP Your Business – 10 Resolutions for the New Year!

The New Year offers a clean slate and a time to reflect on the changes you want or need to enhance your business.Take some time to look at the successes and failures of your life over the past year. Have you considered what changes you want to implement for 2012? Here are 10 resolutions to Power UP your Business for the New Year!

Resolution 1: Get a Handle on your Taxes

With the New Year fast approaching, it is important to get a firm handle on your taxes. To claim certain tax benefits, you need to act no later than Dec. 31. According to the IRS, here are “Six Year-End Tips to Reduce 2011 Taxes:”

Install Energy-Efficient Home Improvements
Make Charitable Contributions
Consider a Portfolio Adjustment
Contribute the Maximum to Retirement Accounts
Make a Qualified Charitable Distribution
Don’t Overlook the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

Resolution 2: Understand your Finances

This is extremely important for the health of your business. As a new or growing business, you need to be diligent about your finances. The NUMBER ONE reason that businesses fail is due to lack of control over finances.

Some experts suggest reviewing your profit and loss statements, balance sheets and cash flow reports on a monthly basis. To manage this, there is accounting software such as QuickBooks specifically for small businesses. Also, hiring a CPA or bookkeeper can be a wise investment.

Resolution 3: Create a Monthly Budget

This is crucial to controlling your monthly expenses. By creating a budget, forces you to examine your income and expenditures to track how much money you make and spend. Of course your living expenses, i.e., mortgage, utilities, vehicles, insurance payments and food are a must, but additional payments should be allocated to pay off bad debt.

A few handy financial tools:

HomeBudget is an expense tracker designed to help you budget, track and control your monthly expenses at home.
Moneytrackin is a free online web application that allows you to track all your expenses and income easily and without effort, thus allowing you to have a clear view of your financial situation. It intends to be a simple yet powerful online budget management tool.
MySpendingPlan is an online tool that provides consumers with the latest tools to help them manage their personal finances track their budgets, save money and keep up on the latest information about managing money and leading a better financial life.

Resolution 4: Get Out of Debt

Easy to say, difficult to do! According to some experts, Americans charge over one trillion dollars per year using Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. For many, money is a big source of stress; and it doesn’t help that we’ve had to deal with economic issues over the past few years. This coming year, make it a priority to resolve your money woes.

Resolution 5: Set Specific Time Management Goals

Why do you want to set specific goals to manage your time effectively? Well, setting simple goals will force you to plan your time wisely, thus, allowing you to get a sense of achievement and reduce work and life stress. For example, if spending time with your family is important, try working fewer hours on Friday so that you can honor that goal.

By scheduling your time based on your goals, you can assess if your goals truly align with the core values, both professionally and personally. If you find that your goals are out of align, then you are able to identify key areas that need adjusting before they get out of control.

Resolution 6: Learn How to Delegate

As your business grows, so should your ‘tight grip’ on controlling every aspect of it. The worst thing that you can do is become a slave to your business. This attitude can cripple you! I know this first hand; as a former owner of a building maintenance company; I was president, HR generalist, payroll specialist, trainer, janitor, sales woman and more! It took me a while to realize that not only could I not effectively wear every hat, but in order to grow and regain my sanity, I had to trust others.

It is important that you delegate non-core business tasks to your staff or consider outsourcing. Play on the strengths of others. The lack of delegation will stifle your growth, or worse, cause you to run your business and yourself into a pit fall.

Resolution7: Prioritize your Day

It is essential that you start your day with a ‘to do’ list. It doesn’t matter if your business is small or if you run a large corporation, having a daily plan will keep you on track in effectively running your business. Start your day by scheduling uninterrupted time to plan and create your list of tasks for that day, and rank your list in order of priority. For example, if you have 10 tasks on your list, of those, how many do you need to complete? Can you save the least important tasks for another time?

If you don’t accomplish all the tasks from your ‘to do’ list, it doesn’t mean you are having problems managing your time. It simply means that you only have limited time per day to get everything done and you may be trying to accomplish more tasks than you have time in the day.

To manage and prioritize my time, I rely on Microsoft Outlook’s calendar and task manager to plan my personal and business schedule. I then sync Microsoft Outlook to my I Phone. This helps me to stay on task and set priorities for my daily activities. Find what works for you and make it a daily habit to have a productive and organized day!

Revolution 8: Network religiously

A successful way to promote your business is through networking. You are in business to grow, so make networking a key part of your marketing strategy so that you position yourself to connect with the right people.

Networking is a lifestyle in which you need to incorporate onto your “To Do” list. By networking, you are developing your social skills by engaging or interacting in an informal gathering to communicate with others for mutual assistance or support. By acquainting yourself with other business owners or executives, you are building meaningful relationships. There are many organizations that you can become involved in such as the Chamber of Commerce, Business Network International (BNI), online communities or a professional organization related to your industry.

Resolution 9: Know your Credit

Do you know how important it is to establish business credit profile? According to some industry experts, “fewer than 10 percent of all entrepreneurs know about or truly understand how business credit is established and tracked-and how it affects their lives and businesses.”

Make sure you contact the major business credit bureaus that compile and provide copies of your credit reports. For a list of business credit reporting agencies, here’s an informative article by Marco Carbajo, “Top 10 Business Credit Bureaus.”

Resolution 10: Make More time with Family & Friends

An important reason we go into business is the idea of being flexible with our time. So, the idea of having time for family and friends seems like it should be a no-brainer, right? According to recent polls conducted by General Nutrition Centers, Quicken, and others shows that more than 50% of Americans vow to appreciate loved ones and spend more time with family and friends this year.

You have control over your time, so make sure that you balance work and life to be able to spend it with those that are important to you.

Last but not least…

If it’s not working, drop it quickly

Don’t waste your time or invest any unnecessary energy nursing something that isn’t working for your business. Time = Money and in our current economic crisis, both are a very precious commodity that a small business can’t afford to gamble with. Move on and don’t look back!