by Amber Ramsey
Do You Need Help With Money Right Now?
You're scared. You don't know how you're going to figure this one out. You need immediate help with your financial situation. We know this can be incredibly difficult. Where and who can you turn to for emergency financial help?
Figure Out Your Budget: For Free
Many families can get in over their heads and need resources to get out of a financial emergency and provide for their immediate needs. Medical bills, medical expenses, utility bills, emergency expenses, child care, a phone bill; basic needs can all add up and feel overwhelming to manage.
First things first, face your situation head on and write out your budget.
You don't need to pay anyone to do this. Google sheets offers a free spreadsheet to get your budget organized. Mint and Goodbudget are free apps that can help you figure out what your budget is and save money.
The best part about this: once you actually write everything down, you are more than likely going to realize that your financial situation is not as bad as you thought.
Get a Library Card and Get Free Financial Advice
Your taxes pay for your local library. Have you checked it out lately?
Don't turn your nose up at this pillar of the community. A library card is free, and the knowledge you can gain by being a cardholder is priceless.
Many libraries offer free financial counseling through nonprofit programs and local governments.
Free Educational Resources
Via the Libby app you can download books on budgeting, personal finances, self sufficiency, financial assistance programs, cash assistance, and consumer credit.
Your library card also gives you access to the kanopy app, which has streaming video resources related to personal finance, government programs and resources, financial support, and more.
Education is key.
Is it Career Advice You Need?
Are you struggling in your career and just feel like you need support services to address your job situation?
Back to our old friend the library again. Many libraries offer free career counseling.
You don’t have to be a woman to know that we only make about $.82 for every dollar that our brothers, husbands, and other male counterparts make.
Fortunately, the pay gap between genders is starting to close, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take steps to add extra protections to our finances.
You can improve your skills and make yourself a more valuable job candidate with free job training.
The United States Department of Labor offers many free job training programs. Improve your skills. Learn something new.
Learning new skills in high-demand industry sectors, like information technology, business analysis, customer service, project management, and digital literacy can only make you a more skilled job candidate, and overall, a more educated person.
Check out your state labor department for free job training programs as well.
A career coach can help you put your best foot forward by preparing you for interviews, assisting with resume writing, networking, LinkedIn optimization, and more.
How a Career Coach Can Help You
Forbes highlights some important ways a career coach can help you along in your journey, including evaluating career options and helping and managing your career.
A career coach won’t help you create a financial plan, segment your money, or invest, but they do have their benefits, especially if you’re trying to look ahead at what role you want to play in your career later on.
Open access education platform Forage explains that a career coach can help you identify what you want to do and hone your skills so that you can earn more later down the road.
Forage also offers tons of free career programs that can give you added skills to make your resume more competitive.
Free Business Advice
If it is your business you are struggling with, SCORE may be able to help you. SCORE is the nonprofit arm of the Small Business Association. The organization offers free support in the form of a SCORE mentor.
These are normally small business owners and retirees who can offer you priceless advice. There is no fee for meeting with a SCORE mentor either in person or virtually.
Do You Need An Attorney?
Good legal advice may cost you up front, but doing things right and having all your paperwork done correctly can help you save later by avoiding costly litigation.
The American Bar Association offers free legal advice to those who qualify. Military veterans and other particular groups can also qualify for free and low-cost legal advice.
Why Talk to an Attorney?
Attorneys have an obligation to work in their clients' best interests at all times.
If you’re currently married and happy, that’s great. But if you think things are getting a little rocky, now might be a great time to also find a family attorney and put them on retainer.
In addition to helping you create your divorce agreement, your attorney can also ensure that you have a fair custody schedule and, importantly, that you receive spousal support and other benefits that your former husband may not so easily agree to.
Even if you are married and everything is wonderful, you as a family may want to hire an attorney to make sure your assets are protected and that your finances are structured in the best way possible.
Establishing a family trust is not just for the uber wealthy. If you have a net worth of $100,000, a trust may be for you. A trust can help minimize estate taxes and can offer other benefits as part of a well-crafted estate plan. Assets that can be placed in a trust include retirement assets, health savings accounts, vehicles, cash and more. The person creating the trust puts assets in the name of the trust and authorizes a third party to administer those assets for the trust creator and the beneficiaries. A trust allows you to be very specific about how your assets are distributed. A legal document needs to be created to establish a trust and create a trust agreement.
An investment advisor teaches you how to take the money you have and turn it into more. Investment advisor Brian Wong of Red Tower Advisors explains that a financial advisor is someone to have on your side when you’re having a major life change take place, like getting married (or divorced) changing jobs or buying a home.
You may be missing out on investment opportunities, simply because you don't know about them.
Surround Yourself With People Who Help You Thrive
The people you bring into your life to help you with your finances can give you the information you need and arm you with the tools to grow your career and income.
We aren’t all born with money management skills. That’s okay. There are people that can help. Having the right people on your side makes a huge difference.
"You Are the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With"
This Jim Rohn quote applies to life, including finances. To manage your finances, put these people in place. Seek answers. Ask questions. Be willing to educate yourself and become self-disciplined so that you don’t wind up struggling throughout your adult years.
Regardless of the type of financial guidance or counseling you need, one thing that’s universally true: we all need information. You can read this blog and others to help get you up to speed on the world of finance.
It can also help to take a personal finance class or, at the very least, sit down with your financial coach to see where you are and how to get to where you want to be.
Do You Have Mentors Around You Already?
Perhaps you have a family friend who you admire. They seem to have made a successful career for themselves. Ask to take them for coffee.
What about a former colleague or boss? It's good networking to keep in touch with these people anyway. Go to coffee, catch up, and pick their brain.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” - The Dalai Lama
People love to talk about themselves. Let them speak and ask about their career journey. You will always come away having learned a minimum of one new thing.
Is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor For You?
A Certified Personal Finance Counselor can be your cheerleader as you play the financial game of life.
Finances are emotional. At FundsSavvy.com, we focus on your overall financial health. This includes the beliefs about money you may have formed as a child that are affecting decisions you are making now.
A FundsSavvy.com Certified Personal Finance Counselor is like your best friend who helps you work through your relationship with money. You want to have a healthy relationship with money so it no longer causes you stress and anxiety.
Having a healthy relationship with money is about a lot more than just possibly cutting out lattes so you save more. You have to get down to the root of your complicated relationship with money to understand why you feel certain ways about it.
Do you end up spending when you are happy to celebrate? Do you go on a shopping spree when you are depressed because you just don't care anymore? You end up paying for it later.
There are skills you can learn and practices you can put in place that help you manage these urges in a healthy way. Building a tool box can help you feel satisfied while not living recklessly and irresponsibly.
It's not either/or. You can budget for those experiences that make you happy and fulfilled. A Certified Personal Finance Counselor may be able to guide you on this journey.
Counseling To Help You With Your Relationship With Money
Our relationship with money can be one of the most fulfilling or, one of the most toxic relationships we have. Learn to handle money the way you handle any other complicated yet rewarding relationship. Communicate, set up boundaries and expectations and be honest.
You want to feel financially secure and stop having anxiety around money.
Free Personal Finance Counseling
You can try certified personal finance counseling risk-free.
FundsSavvy.com is offering a free 30 minute consultation to the first ten people who reach out. Send a quick message and let us know briefly how we can help you. We can't wait to hear from you!
Amber Ramsey contributes to LearnItForLife as the resident career guru.
How to Ask For a Raise
OK, so you have decided you want to ask for a raise. Go you!
Asking for a raise can be intimidating and nerve-wracking, but if you’ve been putting in the work, you are worthy of a competitive salary and it’s time to get what you deserve.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to asking for a raise, there are some steps that you can take to increase your chances of success.
Set Yourself Up For Success
There are several things you can do to set yourself up for the best chance of success when heading into that meeting to ask for more money.
Are you feeling undervalued at work but unsure of how to ask for a raise? Asking for a salary increase can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right preparation and strategy in place, you can make the process less intimidating and potentially get the pay rise that you deserve.
In this blog post, we will discuss how to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally before making your case, as well as tips on what information and evidence you should have ready when making your request. With these steps in mind, asking for a raise doesn’t have to be an anxiety-inducing task.
Timing is Everything
This could never be more true than when you are about to make a raise request.
You want better compensation, so ask at the appropriate time.
First of all, let's consider your personal timing. How long have you been in this position?
If you have just started, wait at least a minimum of six months before asking for a raise. Has it been six months since your last raise? Also excellent timing.
If your supervisor is asking you to perform tasks and take on new responsibilities or complete projects that are above your job title and description, it may be a good time to ask for a raise.
Is it time for performance reviews? Perhaps then is when you want to ask for higher compensation.
Office Environment Timing
What about the timing of your office environment and beyond? Did your company just make major layoffs? Is there a hiring freeze?
Although you might deserve a raise, the chances of you getting one during a tumultuous time are probably lower than when the company is in a healthier place.
If that healthier place never seems to come, well, you are going to have to ask eventually. It is ideal if the company is not in crisis mode when you ask for more compensation.
Global Economic Timing
In the United States, right now is actually an excellent time to ask for a raise.
A Wall Street Journal article just reported that job switchers are seeing salary increases of 7.7%. That means employers may be scared of employees leaving, so you can leverage that to ask for more money.
Schedule a Meeting
Now, how to set up that meeting with your boss so you have her full attention and the best chance of success.
Send her an email saying you would like to speak to her about something. You know your relationship with your boss and how you speak to each other. Are you formal? Do you have a professional friendship and do you both use emojis when you communicate? Write the way you normally do and just let her know you were hoping to chat about something for a few minutes.
If she really values you, hey, she might be scared you are going to quit. This could actually work in your favor, because when you walk in and ask for a raise, she will breathe a sigh of relief that you aren't leaving and be eager to make that pay raise happen..
You want a scheduled meeting so you know she is focused on what you have to say and is not taking other calls or rushing to another meeting.
There may be a natural meeting in the works already, such as a scheduled performance review.
If that goes well, you can easily transition into asking for more money.
Get Ready Mentally
Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally before making your case.
What do you need to do to clear your head and come into this meeting strong and ready? This is personal. Do you like to meditate? Get in a yoga session or tough workout? What puts you in the best place mentally? Do that the night before the meeting.
Talk to your cheer squad, those friends or family members who always lift you up and make you feel your best.
Why Are You Asking For a Raise?
If you are having a baby, buying a new car or home, moving into a bigger apartment or taking on any other lifestyle change that your current salary doesn't cover, that's actually not your company's problem.
Sorry, but what you need in your life really isn't your company's responsibility, as tough as that may sound.
Personal reasons are not reasons to ask for a raise. Comparable salaries and your own performance are reasons to ask for a raise.
Come Armed With Compelling Data
You need to come into the pay raise meeting armed with DATA.
What kind of data do you need?
Give specific examples of projects you have taken on that have generated more income for the company over the past year.
If your job does not directly correlate with revenue generation, show how different tasks and projects you have taken on have made your boss' work life easier or contributed to bigger company goals. Give an example of how you made your boss look good.
Are comparable positions paying significantly more? This is a reason to ask for a raise.
Come armed with salary data.
If you are friendly with certain co workers, ask around the office. Salary transparency is a hot topic. As of January 1, multiple states are enacting salary transparency laws.
Research salary benchmarks on salary.com or indeed.com to check out what people in your position are making. Compare by city.
Do Not Bluff About Having Another Job Offer
At the salary negotiation meeting, and in life, you do not want to lie. Ever.
If you do in fact have another job offer, go you! You are in a wonderful position to negotiate and leverage that offer to possibly get your salary request approved at your current job.
If you do not have another job offer, do not say you do to try to get your current employer to meet your demands. People can smell lies. Lying is also never going to work in your favor.
This tactic could potentially blow up in your face if your current boss tells you they can't meet your demands and you should go take the other job...that doesn't exist.
Getting The Raise
Ideally, your boss agrees to the raise in the meeting.
However, there may be other channels she needs to go through to get it approved. Perhaps she has to speak to her supervisor about the higher salary.
She may suggest you revisit this conversation at a later date. Ask her when and then follow up in the recommended time.
Don't be discouraged if you do not get the raise immediately.
If she has to speak to others to get it approved, let that process happen. Ask her when you should check back in with her and then follow up if you haven't heard anything.
Set Your Sights on the Future
So now you have that pay raise you wanted. Excellent! Say goodbye to your current salary and hello to your salary raise.
Get ready to take on this new role by being proactive.
Keep a log of your notable work and accomplishments so when it is time to go in and ask for the next raise, you are ready.
Give Yourself a Self-Care Bonus
You don't want lifestyle inflation to come with more money. Put the majority of your pay increase towards investing for the future you and don't forget to reward yourself for all of your hard work with a luxury you want (within your budget).
What is a Target Date Index Fund and Why Should You Have One?
One Investment For Life?
I was very intrigued when I heard "Retired at 36" Jeremy Schneider tell So Money's Farnoosh Torabi that he believes we literally could have essentially one investment. One. For life.
Take a listen:
Torabi: "Is it to assume that all we need is one Target Date Index Fund? You know, this idea that you need this like, multi-faceted portfolio. What's your? Where do you stand on that? Could we just do this and ride it out?"
Schneider has long been a fan of simple investing, telling NextAdvisor,
if he could start over, he would "put everything into a Target Date Index Fund."
“The target date index fund is actually, truly the most optimal, simple, low-cost investment strategy,” Schneider tells NextAdvisor.
Schneider says he mitigates his long-term risk, which many investors want to do, by choosing target-date index funds, which are routinely managed to steadily reduce risk as you near retirement.
What is a Target Date Index Fund?
We have discussed the best mutual funds and good mutual funds for beginners.
So what is a target date index fund and why does Schneider literally think you could put all of your money in this and let it ride?
FINRA defines a Target Date Fund as:
"Target-date funds are designed to help manage investment risk. You pick a fund with a target year that is closest to the year you anticipate retiring, say a "2050 Fund." The closer a fund gets to its target date, the more it focuses on assets that traditionally have a lower risk profile, such as fixed income, cash and cash equivalents. This shift across asset classes is called a “glide path.” A fund’s glide path is designed to reduce investment risk over time—but glide paths can vary considerably from fund to fund."
If you have heard personal finance advice about a diversified portfolio, well, essentially you are getting one with this easing of a mix of higher risk assets into a lower risk profile.
Target date funds are typically structured as a mutual fund. Most target date funds are actually a "fund of funds." They are really investing in other mutual funds, not individual securities. You are getting a great mix of stocks with this type of product.
Schneider told Torabi on "So Money" that he would actually choose the target date as the date you anticipate dying, not the date you anticipate retiring.
A target date index fund is a type of mutual fund that becomes more conservative as it approaches its target date. This type of fund is perfect for investors who want to achieve a balance between growth and stability.
Why a Target Date Index Fund?
Target date index funds are a great way to invest for both growth and stability.
The average target date index fund has a return of about 7-8% per year.
Schneider says he doubled his money in seven years. Not bad for set it and forget it, right?
Target date index funds are perfect for investors who want to achieve a balance between growth and stability.
These types of funds are becoming more popular among beginner investors because they offer a simple and convenient way to invest for the long term.
While target date index funds do have fees associated with them, these fees are typically lower than those of actively-managed mutual funds.
Target date funds charge expense ratios that can be as high as 1%. Some target-date funds investing in only low-cost Exchange Traded Funds, or ETF and have expense ratios as low as 0.1%.
There are many different target date index funds available, so it is important to choose one that aligns with your investment goals.
How Do You Get a Target Date Index Fund?
So you want to start investing in a target date index fund.
Many brokerages offer this product.
Here are a few target date index funds that may be right for you.
Fidelity Freedom Index 2060 Fund (FDKLX)
This fund allocates 90% to equities and 10% to fixed income.
Forbes reports the current allocation of this fund is 50% stocks and 505 fixed income. There is a 5-year trailing return (What even is that?) of 5.16%. Trailing returns measure how well a fund performs over a specific time period. The expense ratio is 0.12%. Passively managed and actively managed.
Vanguard Target Retirement 2060 Fund (VTTSX)
This fund allocates 90% to equities and 10% to fixed income. It has diversity at a low cost with just a 0.08% expense ratio and a 5-year-trailing return of 5.12%.
JPMorgan SmartRetirement Income Fund (JSRAX)
The 5-year is 10.24% and the expense ratio is 0.34%. This fund invests in a combination of equity, fixed income, and short-term mutual funds.
T. Rowe Price Retirement 2060 Fund (TRRLX)
This fund has an expense ratio of .64% and a 5-year trailing return of 5.36%. Although fees are higher, it has 6.78% 5 year performance.
Whether you are investing in individual stocks and bonds, saving for retirement, or buying a sandwich, remember: It's YOUR money and YOUR life.
Ask questions. A lot of them. If you find you are not getting your questions answered or someone seems uninterested in answering them, go somewhere else or speak to someone else.
Personal Finance Influencers You Should Follow
When it comes to personal finance, there's no shortage of advice out there. But who should you trust when it comes to money matters?
You may be looking for a personal finance influencer to encourage you to keep financial goals, get debt free, start investing, building wealth or generate new passive income business ideas and build wealth.
Here are top personal finance influencers who will help you with saving money and getting your finances in order.
Here She Is...Top Personal Finance Influencers to Follow
Jannese Torres, Yo Quiero Dinero
Jannese tells it like it is. Unlike personal finance influencers who flash dollar signs touting their monthly income they seem to have made in very little time, Jannese is detailed about her journey to seven figure media mogul.
She started a Latin recipes food blog, D'lish Delights, which eventually allowed her to quit her corporate job.
Jannese is transparent about the struggles she faced; going through a divorce, and the fact that she took an entire year off in 2017 and, that's OK.
If you come back, you didn't quit.
Jannese is like the woman behind the curtain who shows you how it really is, including the failures and mistakes, but overall leaves you feeling like you too can achieve financial independence.
It's not going to be easy, but it's going to be worth it and possible.
She gives you the details of how she structures her work week and is not only unapologetic, but encourages, self care.
Investing is personal. Jannese is not a fan of real estate investing, sharing on her Yo Quiero Dinero Podcast that she tried real estate investing, but it was not for her.
If you want real life, honest personal finance advice, Jannese is your girl.
Ellie Diop, Ellie Talks Money
This girl is truly amazing. Divorced and with infants, she started her business in her mom's house with a stimulus check.
Her niche really seems to be in business credit. She highlights resources such as grants and loans that can help you get your business going, and eventually achieve financial freedom.
She highlights a variety of passive income options, such as Airbnb, YouTube channels, and other ideas.
She even teaches you how you can start setting up your kids for financial success.
It feels like she is your number one fan and cheerleader, repeatedly telling you to go out and get that bag that you deserve.
Farnoosh Torabi, So Money
Farnoosh Torabi says she believes money is a deeply layered issue.
There are psychological, mental, and emotional barriers that prevent us from taking action around money.
Her "So Money" podcast is filled with value. Farnoosh and guests discuss financial topics and she makes them relatable, and sometimes, comical.
Farnoosh also addresses family dynamics and financial issues, such as her book, When She Makes More, detailing the complicated financial dynamic in a household where she makes more.
Tiffany Aliche, Budgetnista
Tiffany Aliche has helped over two million women worldwide save more than $350 million and pay over $200 million in debt.
She is a New York Times best selling author of the book Get Smart With Money.
She has broken down barriers, including as the first solo Black woman to appear on the cover of Money Magazine.
Tori Dunlap, Her First 100k
Tori Dunlap of Her First 100k is "fighting the patriarchy by making you rich."
After successfully saving $100,000 at age 15, Tori Dunlap achieved financial independence and quit her corporate job.
Dunlap encourages your financial literacy and fights financial inequality by giving you actionable resources so you can negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.
Her book, Financial Feminist encourages you to "Smash the patriarchy. Get rich."
Tori Dunlap is the financial friend you want who will fight for your rights.
What IRA is Right For Me?
What IRA is Right For Me?
What IRA is right for me? You are asking this question, so congratulations, you have already started your journey to saving.
First and foremost, give yourself some credit for even being here reading this.
There are a few different types of IRAs, which we went over in this post.
Now, we're going to get more into details about IRAs.
Why an IRA?
First of all, why an IRA?
As CNN Money explains, an IRA is a good deal because the money in the plan "grows free from the clutches of Uncle Sam." Income from interest, dividends, and capital gains can compound each year "without taxes nipping away at it."
You can also escape taxes on either the money you put in or the money you withdraw in retirement (more on that later).
So, the basic answer is, of all the investment options out there, IRAs offer a way to grow your money tax free.
Fun fact: IRA stands for Individual Retirement Arrangement, but many refer to the A as "account."
What About a 401(k)?
First and foremost, when saving for retirement, you should check out whether or not your employer offers a 401(k). This can give you potential options like matching (your employer "matching" your contributions).
You'll probably want to sign up for your employer's 401(k) first.
If your employer doesn't offer a 401(k) or you are a freelancer or self-employed, or simply just want an additional investment account, we need to discuss IRAs.
Traditional IRAA traditional IRA is the most popular.
You'll get a tax break of $6000 in 2022 and $6500 in 2023.
If money remains in the protection of the account, investment earnings are not taxed.
Withdrawals in retirement are taxed at your tax rate at that time.
The traditional IRA works if you are in a higher tax bracket.
Pay now, save later, is kind of the concept of the Roth IRA.
There is no up front tax break, but withdrawals in retirement are tax free.
Roth IRA contributions can be $6000 annually. If you're over 50, Roth IRA contributions can be $7000.
You qualify for the Roth if you fall into a certain lower tax bracket now, but think you may be in a higher tax bracket when you retire. If you make $144,000 a year or $214,000 as married joint filers.
If you make more, there is a totally legal way to open a Roth IRA. It is called a Backdoor Roth IRA.
Other Types of IRAs
Traditional and Roth IRAs are the most popular, but there are other types of IRAs that may work for you.
This is a Simplified Employee Pension.
This is like Traditional IRAs, but it is funded by employers for an employee.
You can contribute $61,000 in 2022 or $66,000 in 2023, or up to 25% of employee compensation, whatever is less.
The SEP IRA could work if you are a sole proprietor. You can open up a SEP for yourself.
Nondeductible IRAIf you don't qualify to contribute to a Roth IRA or deductible IRA, a nondeductible IRA may be for you.
Also, if your spouse has a retirement plan at work and you are above the income limits, you can contribute to an IRA with the nondeductible.
You'll get the tax advantage of deferred growth on account earnings.
When you retire and file your tax return, you'll pay on any withdrawn earnings growth, but not the principal.
If you work and your spouse doesn't, or the reverse, this may be for you.
A spousal IRA needs to be opened in the name and social security number of the non-working spouse.
The contribution limits are $6000, $7000 if 50 or older.
The working spouse can also contribute to the Traditional or Roth IRA.
SIMPLE IRA stands for Savings Incentive Match Plan For Employees.
This is kind of like a 401(k) for smaller companies.
Employees can use salary deferral to contribute. The contribution limit is $14,000 in 2022 and $15,500 in 2023.
This is a bit more advanced IRA, in that using a self-directed IRA allows one to invest in real estate, privately held companies, and a variety of other nontraditional businesses.
This type of IRA requires a trustee or custodian.
That was a lot of information.
The most important thing is that you save for retirement and invest for your future.
Start with your employer tell them you want to know about 401(k) options and what other investment resources are available to employees.
If you are self-employed or your employer just doesn't offer a 401(k), make an appointment at whatever brokerage you choose, ask a lot of questions, and then go back and ask more.
It's your retirement account and your retirement savings.
It's your money and your future.
Banks: The Best Brick and Mortar Checking Accounts
You probably do most of your banking with a banking app or online.
Occasionally, there comes a time when you need to set foot in a brick and mortar bank. Once in a while, you just need to speak to a banker face to face.
Well, we took a look at brick and mortar banks and considered things like availability, lobby hours, if they have a monthly maintenance fee, overdraft fees, monthly service fees, ATM fees, and general vibe of the bank lobby.
We've done the research and compiled a list of the top brick and mortar checking accounts available. Some of these accounts offer great features and benefits, such as free checking, no monthly fees, and more.
We also checked out these bank lobbies to see what the general feel is and if they made going to the bank feel like a chore, or more of a pleasant experience.
What Are the Best Brick and Mortar Banks?
What are the best brick and mortar checking accounts and at which banks? This is a question we get asked a lot, and it's one that we're happy to answer.
These accounts offer great features and benefits, such as free checking, no monthly fees, and more. If you're looking for a checking account that's convenient and easy to use, be sure to check out our list.
When going into a brick and mortar bank, you'll want an experience that is easy. When it comes to your financial health, you need your mental space and focus for investing. not dealing with hassles at the bank.
Here are the top four brick and mortar banks at which to have checking accounts:
There are what seem to be TD banks on almost every corner.
We like brick and mortar TD bank for its extended hours of availability.
TD is one of the best national banks because many have lobby hours from 8 AM to 6 PM on weekdays. On weekends, many branches of this bank are open Saturday 9:30 to 1:00 PM and Sunday 11-2. This is great for the many of us whose typical banking hours are filled up with work, kids, and other life responsibilities.
TD bank has a user friendly intuitive mobile app.
We don't love the monthly maintenance fees charged to some accounts if you don't meet their minimums.
There is also no option for sending domestic wires online. You have to go in person. However, if sending wires is not something you are doing often, then you won't really mind this.
TD banks in general have a welcoming vibe. We found the employees to be cheerful and easy to work with. They asked how our day was going, remembered us from prior interactions, and seemed to be fairly happy to be there.
The TD bank branches we visited tend to get a little busy on Fridays, but that goes for many banks. If you have to go in person, going on a Tuesday or Wednesday is ideal.
Sometimes they have random gifts in the lobby, like dog bandanas and lollipops. It makes going to the bank feel less like a chore when you leave with a treat and a little something for your furry best friend.
Chase Bank: Chase offers free checking and savings accounts with no monthly maintenance fee or minimum balance requirements. They also offer a mobile app that allows you to deposit checks and track your account balance.
There are 4,700 branches and 16,000 ATMs.
Chase Bank has a good basic checking account, but sometimes the fees are hard to avoid. Also, if you use a non-Chase ATM, there is a $3 fee.
They are all business here at Chase Bank. The employees are extremely professional, but friendly. Chase Bank gets the job done, but going here ultimately feels like an errand. It's not warm and fuzzy, but they do what needs to get done.
Bank of America
Bank of America: Bank of America offers free checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. Bank of America also offers a mobile app that allows you to deposit checks and track your account balance.
In the United States, Bank of America has 3,900 retail financial centers and 16,000 ATMs. So, it's safe to say there is probably a Bank of America convenient to you.
Some cons with Bank of America: the overdraft fees. The overdraft fee of $35 can be charged up to four times daily. NerdWallet only gives Bank of America a 3.5 out of 5 rating, due to low transfer limits and low rates on certificates of deposit and savings accounts.
We didn't love the vibe at Bank of America. It is very corporate and stuffy. It wasn't a bad experience, but we didn't see a lot of effort to make the place feel like less of a chore. Yeah, no dog bandanas here. That being said, Bank of America gets done what it needs to get done and you can check this errand off your list.
Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo offers free checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. They also offer a mobile app that allows you to deposit checks and track your account balance.
Wells Fargo has 4700 branches and 12,000 free ATMs.
If you are in the Northeast United States, there aren't many branches there. Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire do not have brick and mortar locations.
$35 overdraft fees can be charged up to three times per day.
As far as the in-person, brick and mortar experience, Wells Fargo is a bit less corporate feeling than Bank of America or Chase. The employees we interacted with were generally friendly and seemed happy to help us.
Wells Fargo is not as "fun" as the TD Bank branches we visited, but it's definitely a lighter feel.
You can't go wrong with any of these four brick and mortar banks.
They all offer great features and benefits.
Ultimately, you'll want to make in-person banking at a brick and mortar location easy for you.
Choose a bank that is not out of your way and works for your needs. When opening a new account, there are often promos and cash rewards that apply when you open a new account. Besides a basic checking account, what else will you need from your bank? Check out investment and credit card programs if those apply to you.
10 Investments You Can Make For $20 a Month
You may want to invest, but investing may seem like something that is above your intelligence or income range. You may think it's something for people who are "in the know" and not you. You may even think you can't afford to invest.
Maybe you have some idea that you want to invest in stocks or just open a brokerage account, but you feel like you have no investing strategy, don't even know investing basics and definitely do not have enough money to even start.
You do have enough money to start. You can open an online brokerage account with literally nothing, and start making deposits as you can.
What Can I Do With $20 a Month?
If you're looking for ways to invest your money but you don't have a lot of cash to spare, you're in luck. There are a number of investment options available to you that require just $20 per month.
Step By Step Investing
We will walk you through step by step investing with 10 different investments that you can make with just $20 per month. Some of these investments may be familiar to you, while others may be new. But all of them have the potential to grow your wealth over time!
Here are ten investments you can make for $20 a month:
#1 Index Funds
What are Index Funds?
Index funds are a type of mutual fund that tracks a specific market index, such as the S&P 500. Index funds give you instant diversification because they own a piece of every company in the S&P 500.
Index funds are a great investment for beginner investors because they are low-cost and easy to understand. And since they track an index, there is no need to constantly monitor your investment or make active trades.
With index funds, you can get exposure to a broad swath of the stock market with just one investment. And because they're passively managed (meaning they don't require a lot in terms of fees) index funds are some of the most affordable investment options available.
Index funds are a great way to get started in investing because they're simple. If you're looking for an easy way to invest your $20, Index funds are a popular choice for investors because they offer diversification and low fees.
Index funds are a way to invest in the stock market in a very diversified way. If you invest in stocks, you are buying a piece of a company that will be worth more or less in the future. When you buy an index fund, you are buying a tiny piece of every company in the index.
For example, the Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund ("VFINX") tracks the S&P 500 stock market index. This means that it owns a tiny piece of every company in the S&P 500 index.
The Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund has an expense ratio of 0.14%, which means that for every $100 you invest, you will pay $0.14 in fees.
This is a very low fee, and it is one of the reasons that index funds are a popular choice for investors.
You can start investing in index funds with as little as $20 per month.
Many brokerages offer index mutual funds with no minimum investment required. For example, Fidelity Investments offers the Fidelity ZERO Large Cap Index Fund (FNILX), which has an expense ratio of 0.
This means that you will pay $0 in fees for every $100 you invest.
#2 Target-Date Mutual Funds
What Are Target-Date Mutual Funds?
A target-date mutual fund is a type of mutual fund that automatically rebalances itself and becomes more conservative as the target date approaches.
Target-date mutual funds are a popular choice for retirement investing because they are easy to set and forget.
For example, the Vanguard Target Retirement 2025 Fund (VTRUX) is a target-date mutual fund with a target date of 2025. This means that it is designed for investors who plan to retire around the year 2025.
The Vanguard Target Retirement 2025 Fund has an expense ratio of 0. 15%.
You can start investing in target-date mutual funds with as little as $20 per month. Many brokerages offer target-date mutual funds with no minimum investment required.
What Are ETFs?
ETFs are similar to index funds in that they track a specific market index. However, ETFs are traded on stock exchanges, like individual stocks. This means that you can buy and sell ETFs throughout the day.
ETFs are a popular choice for investors because they offer the ability to trade throughout the day and they are very low-cost.
You can start investing in ETFs with as little as $20 per month. Many brokerages offer ETFs with no minimum investment required.
For example, Vanguard offers the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO), which has an expense ratio of 0.03%. This means that you will pay $0.03 in fees for every $100 you invest.
What Is A Robo-Advisor?
A robo-advisor is a type of online financial advisor that uses algorithms to provide investment recommendations. Robo-advisors are a popular choice for investors because they offer diversification and low fees.
For example, the robo-advisor Betterment has an annual fee of 0.25% on balances up to $100,000. This means that you will pay $25 in fees for every $100,000 you invest.
You can start investing with a robo-advisor with as little as $20 per month.
#5 Individual Stocks
What Are Individual Stocks?
Another option for investing your $20 is to buy individual stocks. This can be a more risky investment than some of the other options on this list, but it also has the potential to offer higher returns.
You can start investing in individual stocks with as little as $20 per month. Many brokerages offer fractional shares, which allow you to buy a portion of a share of stock.
This means that you can invest in even the most expensive stocks for just $20 per month.
What Are Bonds?
Bonds are a type of investment that pays periodic interest payments. Bonds are a popular choice for investors because they offer diversification and stability.
For example, let's say you buy a bond for $100 that pays an annual interest rate of five percent. This means that you will receive $5 in interest payments each year.
Bonds can be a more conservative investment than some of the other options on this list, but they also have the potential to offer higher returns.
You can start investing in bonds with as little as $20 per month. Many brokerages offer bond mutual funds and ETFs with no minimum investment required.
#7 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
What Are REITs?
A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a type of investment that owns and operates income-producing real estate.
REITs are a popular choice for investors because they offer diversification, monthly dividends, and the potential for high returns.
For example, the Vanguard Real Estate ETF (VNQ) is an ETF that invests in REITs. The Vanguard Real Estate ETF has an expense ratio of 0.12% and a dividend yield of four percent.
You can start investing in REITs with as little as $20 per month. Many brokerages offer REIT mutual funds and ETFs with no minimum investment required.
#8 Peer-to-Peer Lending
What is Peer-to-Peer Lending?
Peer-to-peer lending is a type of investment that allows you to lend money to businesses and individuals.
Peer-to-peer lending is a popular choice for investors because it offers the potential for high returns. For example, let's say you invest $20 in a peer-to-peer loan with an annual interest rate of 20 percent.
If the borrower repays the loan, then you will receive $24 in interest payments. That's a return of 20 percent on your investment.
You can start investing in peer-to-peer loans with as little as $20 per month.
What is Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a type of investment that allows you to invest in startups and other businesses.
Crowdfunding is a popular choice for investors because it offers the potential for high returns.
For example, let's say you invest $20 in a crowdfunding campaign with a 20 percent return.
If the business is successful, then you will receive $24 in return on your investment.
You can start investing in crowdfunding campaigns with as little as $20 per month.
#10 Micro-Investing Apps
What Are Micro-Investing Apps?
Micro-investing apps are a type of investment that allows you to invest small amounts of money in a variety of investments.
Micro-investing apps are a popular choice for investors because they offer the potential for high returns and the ability to invest small amounts of money.
For example, let's say you invest $20 in a micro-investing app with an annual return of 20 percent.
If the app is successful, then you will receive $24 in return on your investment.
You can start investing in micro-investing apps with as little as $20 per month.
So Now What?
There are a number of different investments you can make for just $20 per month.
The key is to find an investment that fits your risk tolerance and investment goals.
There are many ways to find that $20 a month; skip the Uber and walk, cook instead of getting takeout one night of the month, or use a tax refund or surprise gift.
The best gift to yourself is saving for your future.
Trust me, the you in ten years is going to thank you!
Why LGBTQ+ Financial Planning is Unique and What Questions to Ask a Potential Financial Advisor
Perhaps you are one of many same sex couples wanting to buy a house. Maybe you're transitioning and about to get married.
Planning for your financial future, whether creating a budget, retirement planning, researching investments, estate planning, or even just asking for advice are important steps for any individual or family.
Although milestones have been achieved towards marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and equality for same sex couples, there is still quite a road ahead in terms LGBTQ+ community access to mainstream financial planning.
The Obergefell decision on June 26, 2015 overturned Baker and requires all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
The landmark civil rights case gave same-sex couple the right to marry nationwide.
Obergefell granted access for the LGBTQ+ community to more than 1,100 federal benefits; things like spousal protections in the event of death, filing joint tax returns and putting spouses on health insurance on a pre-tax basis.
However, many complications persist in relation to these issues and LGBTQ+ financial planning for those who...
There are so many different credit cards on the market, and it can be difficult to determine which one is right for you.
However, as women we absolutely should not be afraid when it comes to getting a credit card and using it responsibly.
In fact, new research shows, we make better decisions with our credit cards than men. A recent Lantern by Sofi study showed sixty-five percent of women named credit building as their top reason to apply for a new credit card, compared to 51% of men.
Experian data also shows men and women's credit scores, on average, are about the same. This despite having a gender wage gap of 83 cents for full-time, year-round workers!
Which Card is Best For You?
So which credit card is best for you?
Nine States With No State Income Tax
Can You Work From Anywhere? Perhaps This is An Opportunity to Lower Your Tax Burden
Working from home has become the norm for so many careers now. For many people, that means, literally "work from anywhere."
Are you considering a move to a state where you can also lighten your tax burden? Moving to a state where you can enjoy a better quality of life and hold on to more of your personal income may be on your radar.
Relocating could improve your lifestyle, and your personal finances.
Here are the U.S. states with no state income tax.