Why Timeless Jewelry Pieces Are More Budget Friendly Long-Term

Why Timeless Jewelry Pieces Are More Budget Friendly Long-Term Blog Banner

Investing in timeless, high-quality jewelry pieces is more cost-effective in the long run compared to buying trendy costume jewelry

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friends over at FastFix. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

The Long-Term Benefits of Investing in Classic Jewelry

Jewelry does more than accentuate your outfit and impress other people. It says much about your style, your self-confidence, and your eye for beauty. Buying fashion jewelry is fun and gives you a contemporary look. There is nothing wrong with following current trends. These pieces will rarely hold their value or increase it, and it’s unlikely they will last long enough to be passed down to your heirs.

Fine jewelry is often timeless jewelry. Investing in these pieces is more budget-friendly in the long term and has other advantages as well. It always stays in style and can be worn with almost anything. Your appreciation of it grows because of its many benefits. And classic jewelry holds its value and usually appreciates in value. It costs far more than costume jewelry when you purchase it, but over its lifespan, it is worth much more.

What is Timeless Jewelry?

Timeless jewelry pieces are often simple and elegant. Diamond studs, a twisted gold chain, and natural pearl strands are examples of timeless pieces. They are made with superior metals and stone, are often uncomplicated, and look at home in any era. With care, they will last generations and become prized family heirlooms.

In contrast, costume jewelry is frequently trendy, so that it may go out of style in a year or so. Even the best pieces are not made with the care of fine jewelry and use lower-quality gold, imitation gems, and other cost-saving elements. This approach is sensible when a piece is not meant to last. Of course, some of these items may be recycled if 80s fashion comes back around.


Cost

Timeless jewelry pieces are usually more expensive than costume jewelry or other “on-trend” pieces. A natural pearl necklace will cost thousands while you can buy a cultured pearl necklace for several hundred dollars(depending on its quality). Natural pearls age well and gather luster over time, often increasing in value. Cultured pearls never quite achieve the loveliness of natural ones, and antique pieces don’t sell for nearly as much. An antique natural pearl necklace is worth quite a bit if it’s in good shape. Fake pearls only have decorative value and no real sale worth.

Classic gold jewelry is usually 18 karats or higher and has clean lines and perhaps authentic jewels. Gold prices fluctuate, but they often trend upward. Currently, the price of gold is quite high, which means any gold piece in your home is worth more than it was last year. 18K and 24K will bring you the best price, but 14K can be resold as well. With gold jewelry, the style doesn’t matter if you are selling it to a gold dealer who plans to have it melted down. If you have a classic gold piece, you should have it appraised by a jeweler. If it is a quality piece, it will have more value in its current form.

You can buy an attractive piece for $200 and have its value be almost nothing in a few months. Or you can spend more for a classic piece that can make you money as the years pass. This is the case with most classic jewelry.


Craftsmanship

Timeless pieces are made well and will be more durable as a result. As you’ve probably experienced, costume jewelry is fun and flashy but often falls apart quickly. Pearls drop out, gold strands break, and brooch pins break.


Timeless pieces are created with top materials and the craftspeople work to create art

pieces. That takes time and attention to detail. Their purpose is to make things that last and that will be passed down in families. Timeless pieces last because they are well-built and beautiful in any era.

Appreciation

Timeless pieces appreciate over time. Luxury watches are an excellent example. A Rolex watch is usually worth 113% of its initial value/price on the resale market.

Good quality diamonds also appreciate, so it pays to purchase those with excellent cut, clarity, carat, and color. It may be tempting to purchase a small flawed diamond, but you should realize that it won’t bring much if you try to sell it. The market for larger, quality diamonds is much stronger, and the money you spend on them should be considered a long-term investment.

Jewelry from respected brands such as Tiffany Co., Hermes, and Chanel will likely appreciate more than fine pieces from unknown brands. Buyers find certain brands more valuable because of their style and their name. The name helps ensure a higher price when reselling.


Heirlooms

You want to leave your children valuable items but also ones with sentimental value. A timeless piece of jewelry fulfills both goals. An antique gold ring from the 1900s has monetary value, but it is also a symbol of family love and affection. And in many families, the piece will be passed on to many generations. That process alone is worth investing in fine pieces, the monetary worth is a bonus.

Timeless Care

Even the best-crafted pieces need regular maintenance. Stone settings must be checked to make sure diamonds and other precious gems are not lost. This jewelry should also be cleaned professionally to keep it looking its best. Take your timeless pieces to an expert for maintenance and repair. It’s an essential step in keeping their value and preserving them for future generations.


Why Timeless Jewelry?

Investing in better pieces just makes sense financially. They will retain their value, and in many cases, increase it. Timeless jewelry is always in style, and if you do need to sell it, you should find plenty of buyers. You will want to wear this jewelry and not keep it stored in a safe.

Inexpensive or trendy jewelry is fun to buy and wear, but it’s not meant to last. It won’t be on trend for long, and it won’t last centuries. Before buying jewelry, consider investing in top-quality, well-designed items that will be worth more next year than they are today. In the long run, it pays to buy the good stuff.

How to be Financially Proactive About Planning Your Wedding

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friends over at Blushington Blooms. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Tying the Knot Without Going Broke: A Financial Guide for Savvy Couples

TLDR: Practical tips for setting a wedding budget, saving strategically through side hustles and smart spending, and creatively cutting costs on venues, flowers, transport and more.

Getting married doesn’t have to break the bank if you can plan for priorities. If you must have a big reception with a dance and a DJ, you should. If you have to have a beautifully tailored dress and bridal party, allocate funds for that purpose. By listing your priorities, you can make sure that those items are fully funded for your enjoyment. 

What to do to prepare for your wedding financially 

Set up a bank account you can ignore, preferably one that offers high interest. If your family can contribute for your wedding, ask for their contributions early and load the account with that cash so you can earn interest on it. 

Start a side hustle and ask your partner to do the same. If you and your partner haven’t talked about merging your finances, now is the time to have a frank and open conversation. Load the funds from your side hustle into your new bank account. Make this bank account easy to load 

and hard to empty; don’t get a debit card for this account until you’re ready to start making purchases. 

How to get the best deals for your wedding 

Consider going off-season. May and June are often popular for weddings, but you may find that your favorite venue is over-booked or quite expensive. Consider also using non-traditional venues. 

Find out what flowers are in full season around the date you plan to marry. Seasonal flowers will be cheaper and more abundant; you can use these flowers to decorate your reception space. Save your floral funds for your bouquet and for your bridesmaids to carry. 

Limousine rentals can get quite costly. Again, plan early. Check in with your parents friends and your aunts and uncles. Does one of them have a classic car that they would be willing to rent to you or lend you? You may actually be able to ask to borrow a classic car or even a horse and carriage as your wedding gift from a family member or friend. 

How you can save money prior to your wedding

If you live on your own, now may be the time to bring in a roommate or even move back home. You and your partner may live together; it may be time to move into a smaller apartment to save money for your big day. 

Now is also the time to set up a budget together. Financial stress and conflict can do a great deal of damage to your relationship; financial conflict is actually a big contributor to many divorces. If you and your partner can save up and get through the financial pressure of a wedding, you can manage your next financial challenge with ease! 

If you’re in your 20s, you may be just starting out in your career or just out of college. Don’t fall into the trap of easily available credit for new furniture or a new car. You and your partner need to stay liquid until you’re married and ready to build a home life together. 

Tips and tricks for saving for your wedding 

Make a list of things you want to have done for your wedding. Do you want to lose weight before your big day? Focus your budget and your diet on cheap, filling foods that are low in calories. 

Maybe your goal is to have a big family gathering as part of your wedding. While you’ll likely want a caterer for your actual wedding reception, it may make more sense to have a potluck for your rehearsal dinner. If the weather and outdoor space will work, consider putting together a rustic outdoor gathering of hearty salads and grill up burgers and hot dogs. 

You can add picnic table coverings in your wedding colors. Get online and look for paper plates and plastic cups that will match your bridesmaid dresses. Clean-up will be simple and you can keep costs low. 

You don’t have to have a fairytale wedding with an unlimited budget to have an amazing day. Your grandmother’s dress can be altered to suit your shape and style. Revel in the financial skills you and your partner are building together!

8 Benefits of Real Estate Investing

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If you’re curious about real estate investment like I am, read this post to learn the top advantages of diving into real estate.

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Megan Isola. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Top Advantages of Real Estate Investing

Many people consider investing in real estate because it’s something tangible and understandable. Everyone needs somewhere to live and work, so investing in rental properties and other types of real estate might seem like a great way to grow your wealth since it’s fairly resistant to other market fluctuations. Veteran investors often diversify their investment portfolios to mitigate risk. For instance, if the stock market is down, it doesn’t necessarily mean the housing market is. 

Of course, investing in real estate isn’t for everyone. It’s a major financial and time commitment that’s not suited for individuals who prefer a more passive income stream. If this is the case for you, there are other ways to invest in real estate that don’t require you to hold physical property.  

However, if you decide to invest in physical property, you can expect the following benefits:

Additional income

When you invest in real estate, you can expect an additional monthly income. Whether you rent commercial buildings, houses, apartments, townhomes, or anything else, you can increase your monthly income without necessarily having a second job. Of course, being a real estate investor can feel like a second job if you’re handling all the tasks involved on your own, so that’s something to consider. 

When you purchase a rental property, you effectively become a landlord. If you want to avoid managing the day-to-day of your rentals, you can hire a property management company that can do it for you, but this will take a big chunk out of your income.

Appreciation

Most investors choose real estate because it tends to appreciate in value over time. While it’s certainly possible for any asset to depreciate in value, as long as you’re in the right location and continue with the proper upkeep of your property, you can expect its value to increase over time. More appreciation means more equity, allowing you to sell the property for much more than you purchased it for should you choose to. 

Hedge against stock market risks and inflation

The stock market can be volatile, so you don’t want to invest all your money into stocks even though they often yield higher returns than other investments like bonds and certificates of deposit (CDs). When the stock market is down, you can still rely on real estate because it’s less volatile and more predictable; as a landlord, you can predict how much you earn in rental income every month. 

Real estate investments can also protect you from inflation. Home prices tend to increase with inflation, allowing you to sell an investment property for much more than you purchased it for. 

Low Risk

Investing in real estate is considered relatively low risk compared to other more volatile investments like stocks. If you want the highest possible return on your investment without worrying about market volatility, you’ll prefer real estate over stocks. However, you shouldn’t put all your investments in one strategy. 

You should have a diversified investment portfolio that allows you to hedge against different risks. For instance, while real estate properties tend to appreciate value, they can depreciate. The area might no longer be safe or feasible for businesses, individuals, and families to pay a premium for it, forcing you to reduce your rental prices or how much you sell a home for. When and if this happens, you’ll want to have other investments to fall back on and help you recoup any losses. 

Working for Yourself

Many people earn their living from real estate investments alone. They become landlords or house flippers who solely work for themselves. Real estate investment has a low barrier to entry, allowing you to get a mortgage loan or residential hard money loan and begin investing as soon as you can afford the down payment and ability to repay the loan. This is easier said than done, but you can slowly build wealth over time in other ways before investing in real estate. 

Financial Security

A steady monthly income is great, but financial security is better. When you own rental property, you know where your monthly income is coming from. Your tenants are legally required to pay rent, and if they don’t, you can take them to court, so you’ll always have a paycheck coming your way. When you have a steady flow of cash, you can reinvest in your future, which may include retirement. 

Investing in real estate provides long-term financial security because it’s highly likely the property will appreciate over time. Of course, there’s no guarantee with investing, but doing your research about a location and property can mitigate risk. 

Potential Tax Advantages

Investing in real estate comes with some tax advantages if you own rental property. While technically, as a landlord, you’re self-employed, your income isn’t subject to self-employment tax, which is 15.3 percent of your earnings. You may also be eligible for tax breaks for depreciation, maintenance repairs, insurance, property taxes, and other business expenses.

Wealth Building 

real-estate-investing-bar-chart-of-time-and-wealth.

Investing in real estate isn’t just about earning more money per month. Instead, it’s an avenue to building wealth over time. When you invest in rental properties, your mortgage payments are covered by rental income. However, you should always charge more than the base mortgage payment to earn additional monthly income. 

That additional income can be put away into a savings or retirement account and accrue interest, making it a relatively passive way to earn more money. Yes, there’s a lot of work involved for investors who have hundreds of tenants. However, if you only own a few rental properties, you don’t have to expect a maintenance concern or emergency every day of the week, allowing you to earn an additional income on top of your existing job salary. 

Should You Invest in Real Estate?

Investing in real estate is a big undertaking, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to invest in physical property. While there are benefits to holding property, especially rental property or homes you intend to fix and flip. There are other investments available if you’re interested in real estate. We recommend discussing your options with a financial advisor to help you make the right decision based on your financial situation. 

About the Author

real-estate-investing-author-megan-isola

Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends. 

7 Tips to Write a Lease Agreement

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Thinking about becoming a landlord? Then you need these tips on writing a lease agreement!

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Ashley Nielsen. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Tips on Writing a Lease Agreement

When becoming a landlord, you should always provide your tenants with a lease that protects your rights and theirs. A lease agreement is a legally binding document with the terms and conditions of property rentals. 

Lease agreements benefit landlords because they ensure a tenant cannot disrupt other tenants with noise, treat the property disrespectfully, or cause others problems. Meanwhile, a lease also protects tenants by setting clear expectations about what the landlord is responsible for, including snow cleanup and trash pickup, while setting clear rules for how tenants can use their homes. Unfortunately, most landlords aren’t lawyers, so writing a lease agreement or a rental agreement can be difficult and downright confusing. Here are a few tips to help you write a lease. 

Start With an Outline

Outlining your lease will help you understand all the necessary components and pieces of information that need to be laid out for tenants before they sign. Each section should start on a new page with a header and have subheadings when applicable. The sections you should include in your lease are:

  • Leased Property: Information about the property, including whether it’s a house, apartment, or condo, along with the name of the landlord and the location
  • Duration or term: The duration of the lease, which can range from a month to a year or more. You can also include your policy for renewing the lease. 
  • Rent amount: The total amount the tenant will pay, including base rent and additional fees for pets or parking spots. You should also include when rent is due, the accepted form of payment, and any other information about what’s included or not included in rent. 
  • Deposit fee: The amount someone pays for the security deposit and how they can get a refund when there’s no damage at the end of their lease. You should also define what qualifies as damage to the rental. 
  • Utility costs: If utilities are not included in rent, you should define the typical cost of utilities or how tenants can set up their utilities with the power company. 
  • Late fees: Fees for penalties on late rent payments that should state when a tenant will be charged a late fee. You may choose to include a grace period, especially if payment dates fall on a weekend or holiday. 
  • Tenant Responsibilities and Rights: The legal rights of tenants according to the state should be outlined in your lease, along with the responsibilities they have to the property, including the use of the property, cleanliness, and following local health and safety guidelines. 
  • Landlord Responsibilities and Rights: Landlord rights and responsibilities when renting units, including maintaining the property, making repairs, and following all local laws. 
  • Lease Termination: Explains how someone can terminate their lease before the agreed-upon date. Most landlords define circumstances in which a tenant can cancel the lease, including paying any fees. Additionally, the termination section should cover what happens when the landlord chooses to terminate the lease, including situations when they can, like failure to pay, property damage, illegal activity, and other lease violations. 
  • Governing Law: The governing law is the section of the lease that states the law the lease follows, usually with a stipulation that the law overrides the lease if it’s incorrect without invalidating the entire agreement.
  • Additional Property or Community Rules: Many landlords choose to add additional rules for the property or community. For example, if an apartment complex allows dogs, they may have a rule stating that dogs cannot be near the pool and all residents must pick up after their dogs on walks. 

Talk to a Real Estate Lawyer

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To write a legally binding contract, you must follow local and state laws regarding tenant rights. Many laws dictate the types of terms you can have in your lease agreement, and they vary, so you can check your local laws or hire a real estate lawyer to help you understand the types of information allowed in your lease. If you want to save time and hassle, you can hire a lawyer to draft your lease agreement for you or ask them to review the lease once you’ve finished writing it to ensure everything stated can be upheld in court. 

Specify Pet Policy

If you allow tenants to have pets with restrictions or additional rules, you must specify them in your lease. You can also cover your bases by specifying that you don’t allow pets in units and the consequences for the tenant if you discover they’re housing a pet. Your pet policy can be as strict as you want, including restrictions for types of dog breeds, number of pets, the types of pets allowed, and weight restrictions. Of course, you can also completely prohibit animals in the unit. 

Add Right of Entry Information

Every state has a Right of Entry stimulation that tells landlords how much notice they have to give tenants before entering their homes. Knowing this law can help you avoid a potential lawsuit, but you should also include it in the lease to ensure tenants understand the law and that you have the right to enter their apartment as long as you give them notice.

Specify What to Do in Emergencies

Emergencies happen after hours, and a landlord can’t be present at all times waiting for them. Instead, you can specify what tenants should do if they have a maintenance issue that’s an emergency, like a broken pipe or flood. Since you must be available to respond to these types of situations, you can give tenants an emergency phone number where they can reach someone for help immediately. 

Activity Restrictions

Landlords can include their code of conduct in their lease to help tenants understand what type of behaviors are expected of them. For example, you can prohibit loud music after a certain time or prevent tenants from allowing unauthorized pets to enter their homes. In addition, activity restrictions give tenants a clear idea of what they’re not allowed to do, helping to prevent them from lease violations. 

Have Clear Payment Terms and Conditions

Your lease might already state how much rent a tenant owes at the beginning of the month and the types of payments you accept. However, it’s always a good idea to add a page about payments to your lease to ensure they know where to look when they have questions. You can give them a page that discusses how security deposits work and how they can pay rent, along with instructions for how to pay rent online or after hours. 

Final Thoughts

Before allowing someone to move into your rental property, you need to set clear terms and conditions with them to ensure they’re following the law and know their rights while also protecting your apartment and your reputation. A lease is beneficial for landlords and tenants because it lays out the different expectations for one another to prevent misunderstandings down the line.

About the Author

write-lease-agreement-author-ashley-nielsen

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer where she shares knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness or financial tips. During her free time she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music. 

Why It is Important to Invest in Good Fabric

Invest in Good Fabric - EcoPak Textiles Spools of Cloth

Want to know why it’s so important to invest in good fabric? We’re covering the answer in this guest post by Rockywoods Fabrics.

TLDR: Good quality fabrics provide numerous benefits including sustainability, longer-lasting clothing, better fit and drape, comfort, professional sewing results, customer satisfaction, and the ability to purchase all necessary materials from a single quality retailer.

The Many Advantages of Choosing Quality Fabrics

Finding the right fabric can often feel like an exciting treasure hunt when you love to sew. Or, you might be someone who needs soft fabrics for sensory challenges, and it’s always a struggle to find what you need in a general clothing store. While you’ll find lots of inexpensive fabrics at big box retailers, the truth is that you do get what you pay for sometimes. Choosing to purchase good fabric provides you with many benefits that are worth knowing as you plan your wardrobe. 

Choose the More Sustainable Option

Fast fashion might help you stay on top of the latest trends, but all of those trendy outfits are wreaking havoc on the environment. Sadly, cheap fabrics are often made from materials that don’t last long, which means that they end up in landfills. Low-quality fabrics also use up unsustainable resources, but you can do your part to lower your environmental footprint by opting for higher-quality clothing whenever you can. 

Extend the Life of the Clothing You Wear 

There’s a reason why fast fashion earned its name. In many cases, those trendy shirts and dresses won’t last as long as the latest styles. Cheap fabric pills, tears and stretches out of shape fast, which can lower the life of your clothing. Since having to toss out a shirt that you love is never fun, it’s worth paying a little more for quality fabric that lasts long enough to still be good the next time the trend rolls around. 

Enjoy a More Flattering Fit 

If you’ve ever wondered why your favorite performers look so good in their clothes, then you may just discover the answer in the type of fabric their designers use. Nicer fabric hangs and drapes properly on your body which makes a difference in how it looks. If you’re sewing clothing for yourself or your family, then you’ll also find that it’s easier to achieve the ideal fit when the fabric doesn’t move out of place as you cut out the pattern. 

Feel Comfortable In Your New Clothes 

Well-fitting clothing also feels as amazing as it looks. You shouldn’t have to feel awkward stretching out your arm because a shirt sleeve keeps moving out of place. Nor, should you have to worry about the waistband of your pants constantly shifting around. Quality fabric feels soft against your skin, and you’ll notice the difference in its breathability or warmth as you go about your day. This is especially true with winter wear such as sweaters that tend to be overly heavy and scratchy if you don’t choose the right fabric. 

Achieve Professional Results While Sewing 

Cutting out perfect pattern pieces helps them to fit together better, which is only possible with quality fabric. Plus, you’ll find that good fabric also holds a crease better when you press it to create a hem, and the thread will glide through the layers when the weave is just right. Whether you sew clothing for your family or have a custom-sewing business, working with quality fabric is a true joy that makes your job easier. You’ll also find that you can whip out projects faster when the fabric doesn’t snag.

Ensure Customer Satisfaction 

When you sew for others, you know that every aspect of a piece of clothing matters. Customers can often tell the difference between cheap fabric and quality types, even if they don’t sew themselves. Low-quality fabric tends to be thin, which can pose a problem for your customers if they expect an outfit to be professional enough to wear to work or out in public. When you choose quality fabric, you know that your online reviews will also be positive and beneficial for your business. 

Know Where to Find the Best Fabric 

Figuring out where to shop for fabric is important. Ideally, you’ll want to buy good fabric from retailers that prioritize quality. For instance, buying fabric from a shop that sources fabric and notions from American companies allows you to know that they recognize the importance of quality and sustainability. You can also choose to buy your fabric from a retailer that supplies everything you need for a project. Being able to buy patterns, zippers, and buckles at the same place makes it easier to match them to your fabric and get started on your project. 

Investing in good fabric pays for itself over time. Not only will you spend less money on clothing when your new outfits last, but you’ll also look and feel better every time you put on your new shirt or dress. Now, all you need to do is start searching for the perfect fabrics to round out your wardrobe. After all, everyone deserves to love their clothes.

* Header Photo via the Rockwoods Fabrics Page

10 Ways to Make Your Annual Income Last Longer

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Help your annual income last the whole year with these 10 ideas for maximizing your money.

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Ashley Nielsen. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Make the Most of Your Annual Income: 10 Strategies to Make Every Dollar Go Further

Managing your finances is crucial to financial health. Regardless of how much you earn on your paycheck, maximizing your income’s potential helps build financial security. With the right strategies, you can make your income last longer, and here are ten ways to get you started. 

1. Review your expenses.

If your goal is to make your income last longer, reviewing your expenses is a crucial first step. Taking a hard look at your expenditures allows you to identify areas where you might be overspending. By understanding your spending habits, you can prioritize your spending based on your financial goals and needs. 

When reviewing your expenses, identify any unnecessary items affecting your budget. You might realize you’re spending too much on things you don’t need or use, such as dining out or streaming subscriptions you aren’t using. Cutting back on non-essential expenses frees up income to save for the future or pay bills. 

Additionally, reviewing your expenses and using a bank statement loan calculator assists in prioritizing your spending. By identifying areas where spending is necessary, such as rent, utilities, and groceries, you ensure you have enough funds to cover your basic needs. If you need extra help, accounting apps, and tax software can help you identify some areas affecting your budget. 

2. Implement saving into your budget.

Saving money is a vital part of building financial stability. Save enough to cover your expenses for three to six months to protect you if you lose your job. You should also set money aside for an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses like car repairs or medical bills. 

While an emergency fund protects you from unexpected circumstances, saving money helps you achieve long-term financial goals. You may dream of buying a house, retiring, or starting a family or business, and implementing your savings into your budget can get you there. Many goals may require you to take out a loan, such as investment property loans or business loans. Saving money helps you reduce your debt and pay off high interest rates quicker by allocating funds toward debt repayment. 

3. Search for areas to reduce your spending.

Aside from essentials like rent or mortgage payments, groceries, and utilities, much of our money goes toward non-essentials. Your daily Starbucks order to your Doordash, going out on the weekends, and impulse purchases can quickly add up. If you wonder where your money is going at the end of each paycheck, it’s time to reduce your daily spending. 

If you’re spending too much income on mundane things, start tracking your spending. Apps like Truebill, Mint, and more help you track and categorize your spending. By being mindful of where you spend your money, you can make your income last longer and put it towards more important things in your life. 

4. Consolidate your debt

If you have any loans and debt, consolidating it is helpful to make your income last longer. By consolidating your debt into fewer payments, you lower your interest rates than current payments, saving you money in the long run. Additionally, consolidating your debt may lower your monthly payments and improve your credit score. By consolidating your debt, you can save money, reduce stress and simplify your finances. 

5. Cut out unnecessary subscriptions.

As mentioned before, reducing your monthly spending is essential to making your income last longer. Streaming subscription services are plentiful, but these expenses quickly become more expensive than cable if you sign up for too many. Additionally, if you have a gym membership you never use, multiple music streaming apps, magazine subscriptions, meal kits, and other monthly services, it may be time to let some go. By cutting unnecessary expenses, you make each paycheck go further so you can save money or put it towards more important things. 

6. Be mindful of where you spend your ‘extra’ income

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With all this saving, it’s critical to be mindful of where you put that extra income. Aim to save as much money as possible and research any large purchases you plan on making. Additionally, as you save money, credit card companies may increase your credit limit to entice you to spend more, but resist the temptation! Only use your credit card when you know you can pay it back immediately to avoid interest charges and overspending. 

7. Reduce your utility bills.

If you own your home or rent, you likely pay at least a few utilities. Utility bills are expensive, especially during warmer and colder months. To reduce these costly expenses, look for ways to save. 

If you own older appliances, these could be racking up your energy and water bills. Modern appliances are energy-efficient, and while it may be expensive to invest in initially, you save in the long run. Additionally, see if sustainable energy sources are available in your area. Energy sources like wind, solar, and hydro are better for the planet and significantly reduce utility bills and can help you avoid a potential blackout or brownout in the future. 

8. Eat at home

As mentioned above, eating out adds up quickly. However, so does wasting money on groceries you don’t eat. Many people go to the grocery store and spend hundreds of dollars to fill their fridge, only to watch it go to waste as they dine out every evening. 

Purchasing groceries and using them is a great way to save money. The prices in grocery stores are at an all-time high, but so are restaurant bills. There are also some affordable meal delivery plans that are easy on the wallet while also being easy to cook and healthy for the family. Making yourself food is an essential life skill and vital to making your money last longer. 

9. Be a discount shopper.

Clipping coupons is in the past, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t still ways to save. Many grocery stores still offer deals online by downloading their app. Save these digital coupons to cut down your grocery bills. With some digital shopping retailers like Amazon, you can check an item’s price to see if it has gone down. 

Before spending your money, always check online to see if you can find the same item at a better price. While many retailers may carry the same product, they often compete with each other’s prices, giving you a better deal. Lastly, the nonprofit organization Consumer Affairs aims to provide consumers with unbiased information on products and services and report the best times of year to purchase an item. 

10. Sell your unwanted household items.

Lastly, if you have junk around your home, hosting a yard sale is an opportunity to declutter and make money. While you likely won’t sell your items for the same prices they were purchased at, it’s a great way to make some money when you’re in a bunch. Additionally, if you have a closet full of clothes you never wear, some clothing consignment stores will purchase your clothes to stock their store with. 

Making your income last longer makes you more secure

Overall, making your income last longer is crucial to long-term financial security. By implementing some of the strategies in this article, you’ll have better control of your finances, reduce your financial burden, and get closer to achieving your financial goals. 

About the Author – Ashley Nielsen

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music. 

Annual Income Ashley Nielsen

Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Income Taxes

Income Tax Paperwork with Glasses and Clock

Income taxes can be confusing, but knowledge is power. This beginner’s guide covers the basics of what you need to know.

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Megan Isola. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Demystifying Income Taxes: A Beginner’s Guide to Filing, Deductions, and Building Financial Literacy

Welcome to our beginner’s guide to understanding taxes. If filing your taxes confuses or overwhelms you, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. However, a basic knowledge of taxes and how they work is essential to building financial literacy and improving your financial health. In this guide, we’ll discuss some different types of taxes. Additionally, you’ll learn how to file and some lucrative tax deductions and credits to apply to your tax filing. Whether this is your first year filing or you want to improve your understanding of taxes, you’ll be better able to navigate the world of taxes after reading our guide. Let’s get started! 

Types of taxes

When it comes to taxes, you probably aren’t surprised to learn there are many different types. Some may pertain to you, and others may not be relevant to your specific economic situation. However, it is good to be aware of the different types when improving your understanding of the world of taxes, especially those that may apply to you.

  • Income Taxes are taxes on an individual or business’s income. Income tax includes any form of revenue, such as salaries, wages, dividends, and more. This tax is a percentage of your earned income and may vary based on your tax bracket and current laws and regulations. It’s important to note that any loans you take out, such as hard money loans, are not taxable income. In addition, monetary gifts you receive under $17,000 are not taxable income, nor is any money you receive from a will. 
  • Capital Gains Taxes may apply if you sell any capital assets like stocks, bonds, and real estate. The government taxes profits you make between your purchase and selling price (capital gains). For individuals, the percentage taken varies depending on your holding period, your income, and current tax laws. 
  • Sales Taxes apply to the sale of goods and services. A tax percentage, typically a percentage of the purchase price depending on local regulations, gets added when you purchase an item. For example, the state of Oregon does not have sales taxes. 
  • Property Taxes are taxes on property owned, including land, commercial buildings, and housing. Expect to pay your property taxes on an annual basis. The amount you pay depends on the value of your property and will depend on regulations set by your local government. 

The 101 on filing

You’ve probably never met anyone who looks forward to tax season, except maybe tax accountants. Luckily for you, there are a couple of ways to make filing easier. Tax season typically begins in January and is due on April 15. These dates, however, are subject to change, as we saw during the pandemic. 

To prepare for filing your taxes, gather relevant documents, such as your W2 or 1099s, depending on your type of employment. After you have your records together, choose how you will file them. You can file electronically using software like Turbotax or H&R Block. However, if your financial circumstances are complex, we recommend working with a tax professional. A tax professional has access to practice management software and complex tax operating systems which can help you owe less and get a better tax refund

Whether you work with a tax accountant or file your taxes yourself, you may need to complete additional forms like a 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ. You or your accountant will then calculate your tax liability based on your taxable income, current tax rate, and any credits or deductions you’re entitled to. After this is complete, you’re ready to file with the IRS. You must pay any taxes you owe within a certain period, but you can use your federal or state return (if you get one) on your owed amount. If you cannot pay the owed amount within the due period, you may open a payment plan and make payments monthly. 

Tax deductions and credits

Income Taxes Blonde Haired Boy Holding Money Stack

Tax deductions and credits help reduce your tax liability. Tax deductions reduce your taxable income, which in turn, reduces the amount you owe. Deductions are dollar-for-dollar reductions to your taxable income, meaning every dollar you deduct is a dollar you save. 

Tax credits are slightly different because they are a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the taxes owed, rather than reducing your taxable income. Tax credits are more valuable because it directly reduces the amount you owe to the IRS. 

Here are a few examples of commonly used tax deductions and credits:

  • Child tax credit: This credit is available to you if you have dependent children under 17 years old. This credit is worth up to $2,000 per child, with a portion being refundable. If you owe less than $2,000 to the IRS, the remaining amount gets applied to your tax refund.
  • Lifetime learning credit: If you spent any income on tuition, claiming 20% of the first $10,000 you paid within the last tax year is a great way to save on taxes, and there is no limit to the number of years you can utilize this credit. However, you are not reimbursed the remaining amount in your taxable income. 
  • Student loan deduction: If you or a family member took on debt to pay for school in the form of a student loan, you’re eligible to deduct $2,500 from your taxable income because of your interest payments. International student’s taxes may be different, so contact a tax professional to get an accurate understanding of your tax situation.
  • Charitable donations deduction: If you made any donations to charity within the last year, the world and the IRS thank you. On your return, your generous donations allow you to deduct 60% of your adjusted gross income. 
  • 401K Contributions deduction: Hopefully, you’re contributing to your 401K, and if you are, the government rewards you for it. The IRS does not consider contributions to your 401K plan as taxable income. Reducing your taxable income reduces the amount you owe after filing. 

There are many more deductions and credits, so it benefits you to work with a tax professional to ensure you’re getting the most out of your filing. 

Ready to file?

Taxes are a complex topic, but a basic understanding of how they work will help you navigate tax season more confidently. Remember, if this is your first year filing or you have a complex financial situation, working with a tax professional is a worthwhile investment. Additionally, remember to start organizing your financial records so you have a clear picture of your tax situation and can make any applicable deductions or credits. Following the guidelines above gives you a jumpstart to understanding and managing your taxes effectively. So when tax season comes around, it’ll hurt a little less. 

About the Author – Megan Isola
Income Taxes Megan Isola

Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends.

Smart Ways to Invest with a Small Budget

Invest With Small Budget - Woman Looking At Stocks Chart on Computer

Learn smart ways to invest with a small budget. Hopefully, this post will inspire some new ideas for earning more from your money.

Key Points From This Post:

  1. Set clear financial goals aligned with your investment decisions.
  2. Start an emergency fund with 3-6 months of living expenses.
  3. Invest in low-cost options like index funds and ETFs.
  4. Use fractional shares and micro-investing apps to start small.
  5. Invest in yourself through education and skills development.
The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Ashley Nielsen. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Investing is often seen as a privilege reserved for those in high tax brackets. However, the notion that investing requires a large budget is no longer valid in today’s dynamic financial landscape. With the advent of technology and innovative investment platforms, there are now smart ways to invest even with a small budget. This opens up opportunities for individuals who may have limited funds but still aspire to grow their wealth and achieve their financial goals. In this article, we’ll explore some practical strategies and techniques that can empower you to make the most of your small budget and embark on a path of successful investing.

Set clear financial goals

Establishing specific and measurable financial goals when investing with a small budget is essential. Clearly define your objectives, whether saving for a down payment on a rental property or building an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses. A clear focus allows you to align your investment decisions with your long-term goals. Take the time to break down your goals into smaller milestones, allowing you to track your progress and stay motivated toward your goals. Regularly reassess your objectives to ensure they remain relevant and adjust them as needed based on your evolving financial situation. Setting clear financial goals is the foundation for a successful investment strategy.

Start with an emergency fund

Building an emergency fund is a crucial first step in investing with a small budget. This fund provides a safety net for financial security during unexpected events such as job loss or medical emergencies. Aim to save at least three to six months of living expenses in a high-yield savings account or a liquid, low-risk investment. This fund helps protect your assets from being prematurely liquidated, ensuring you don’t incur unnecessary losses. Make it a priority to consistently contribute to your emergency fund until you reach your target amount, and avoid tapping into it for non-emergency purposes.

Utilize employer-sponsored retirement plans 

If your employer offers a retirement plan like a 401(k) or a similar option, take advantage of it. These plans often provide attractive benefits, such as tax advantages and employer-matching contributions. Contribute to the plan, especially if your employer matches a portion of your contributions, as it’s free money. By starting early and consistently contributing to your retirement plan, even with a small budget, you can harness the power of compounding and build a substantial retirement nest egg over time.

Invest in low-cost index funds or ETFs 

When investing with a limited budget, focusing on cost-effective options that provide broad market exposure is crucial. Low-cost index funds and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) fit this description. These funds track a specific market index, such as the S&P 500, and offer diversification by including various stocks within the index. They often have low expense ratios, meaning you pay minimal investment fees. By choosing reputable funds with a history of consistent performance and low costs, you can gain exposure to the stock market without a big initial investment.

Consider fractional shares and micro-investing apps

Invest With Small Budget - Group Meeting with Woman Looking at Chart on Paper

Fractional shares and micro-investing apps have made investing accessible to individuals with small budgets. Fractional shares allow you to invest in stocks or funds with a fraction of the share’s cost, making it easier to diversify your portfolio and invest in companies with higher-priced stocks. Many investment apps offer fractional shares and micro-investing features, enabling you to start investing with as little as a few dollars. These apps often provide educational resources, automated investing features, and user-friendly interfaces, making the investment process straightforward and convenient. Utilizing micro-investing tools allows you to gradually build your portfolio, even with limited funds.

Dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs)

Dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs) are a great way to maximize your small investment budget. Some companies offer DRIPs that allow you to automatically reinvest dividends received into purchasing additional shares of the company’s stock. This strategy permits you to harness the power of compounding by acquiring more shares over time. When dividends are reinvested, you benefit from the potential growth of both the stock price and the dividend payouts. Research and choose companies with a history of regular dividend payments and strong financial stability to maximize the benefits of DRIPs.

Peer-to-peer lending 

Peer-to-peer lending platforms provide an alternative investment opportunity if you have a small. These platforms allow you to lend money to individuals or businesses in exchange for interest payments. While this investment option carries some risks, it can also provide higher potential returns than traditional savings accounts. Research and carefully select reputable peer-to-peer lending platforms with strict borrower evaluation processes and offer robust risk management tools. Diversify your loans across different borrowers and loan types to mitigate risk. Regularly monitor your investments and reinvest the interest earned to compound your returns over time.

Education and personal development

Investing in your knowledge and skills can significantly impact your long-term financial success. By allocating resources to educational opportunities and personal development, you enhance your expertise, increase your job prospects, and potentially earn a higher income. Consider pursuing certifications, attending relevant workshops or conferences, or enrolling in courses that align with your investment interests and help improve your financial situation. For example, if you have poor credit invest in your credit management skills. The more you invest in yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed financial decisions and grow your wealth over time.

Avoid high-cost investments

When investing with a small budget, be mindful of expenses that can erode your returns. High-cost investment products, such as actively managed funds or individual stocks with frequent trading fees, can significantly impact your investment performance. These expenses can eat into your returns, making it harder to achieve your financial goals. Instead, opt for low-cost investment options like index funds or ETFs, as mentioned earlier, as they typically have lower expense ratios. By minimizing costs, you keep more of your investment gains and increase your overall investment returns. If you want to invest in something with minimal upkeep and low risk, consider investing in precious metals

Regularly review and adjust your portfolio 

As your financial situation evolves, periodically review and adjust your investment portfolio. Regularly assess whether your portfolio allocation aligns with your goals and risk tolerance. Consider rebalancing your portfolio if certain investments have significantly deviated from your target allocation. Additionally, stay updated on market trends, economic conditions, and changes in investment regulations that may impact your portfolio. By actively managing and adjusting your investments, you can optimize your returns and stay on track toward achieving your financial objectives.

Investing is for everyone

In conclusion, investing with a small budget is no longer a barrier to building wealth and securing a prosperous future. Adopting intelligent strategies and leveraging technology allows individuals with limited funds can participate in the investment world. Whether it’s through fractional shares, robo-advisors, micro-investing apps, or diversified portfolios, there are various avenues to capitalize on. Remember, the key lies in starting early, educating yourself about different investment options, and staying consistent with your contributions. With patience, discipline, and a growth mindset, you can turn your small budget into a powerful tool for long-term financial success. So, don’t let the size of your budget deter you—take that first step and embark on your investment journey today.

About the Author – Ashley Nielsen

Invest With Small Budget - Guest Blogger - Ashley Nielsen

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.

Financial Freedom: Strategies for Managing Your Money and Achieving Your Goals

Strategies for Managing Your Money - Man Counting Coins

Living paycheck to paycheck can create financial stress. Learn strategies to manage your money through budgeting, paying off debt, automating savings, and more.

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Megan Isola. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Living paycheck to paycheck can be stressful; you never know if you can cover all your bills. They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can help reduce stress. Financial freedom allows you to live a quality life without worrying about money. However, it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily wealthy. Instead, financial freedom allows you to pay your bills and have enough left to invest in savings. 

The definition of financial freedom varies from person to person, but it will allow you to live comfortably without stressing over money too much. In addition, becoming financially free permits you to focus on more substantial parts of your life, such as saving for a home or retirement. But unfortunately, many people struggle to reach financial freedom because of their spending habits. If you’re wondering how to maximize your budget and reduce financial stress, here are a few strategies for managing your money: 

Define Your Financial Goals 

Having a goal to become financially free is one thing, but you need an attainable goal to work on. First, consider what financial freedom means to you and your financial goals. For instance, are you looking to save more money for retirement or a particular future goal, or are you simply trying to save more money and reduce your spending? Once you’ve determined what financial freedom means to you and have goals in mind, you can analyze your current financial situation. 

Analyze Your Current Financial Habits

Before becoming financially independent, you must look hard at your finances to learn where your money goes. If you’re constantly wondering where your paycheck goes every month and why you’re left with very little after paying your bills, you should start tracking your spending immediately. Identifying all of your spending, including bills and entertainment, can help you find ways to reduce it. For example, you might find that you spend an excessive amount of money on streaming services you don’t even use. 

Additionally, you should compare your spending to your income. For example, are you breaking even every month or paying too many bills with a credit card, leaving you in debt? Comparing your income versus expenses can help you determine how much you need to cut back to save more money. 

Automate Savings

Automating your savings account can help you put more money away in an account you’re less likely to use for non-essential expenses. After subtracting your expenses from your income, you can see how much you have left over and set up automatic deposits to send money from your checking to your savings account to ensure you save at least a little bit of income every month. 

Start Paying Down Debt

Strategies for Managing Your Money - Woman Counting Dollars

Being financially free means having zero debt. If you have any debt, you probably receive monthly bills that prevent you from being able to spend your money exactly how you want. Of course, everyone has a little bit of debt throughout their lives. For example, homeowners have mortgage loans, while many college students take out loans to pay for their education. Additionally, many of us have credit cards because they come with benefits like improving your credit score and allowing you to purchase items without paying for them immediately. 

However, if you’re not careful with how you use your debt, it can quickly become a burden. If you have substantial debt, start repaying it immediately to achieve financial freedom. You can use several debt repayment strategies to reduce your debt over time and help you stay on track, but consolidating your debt might be the easiest solution if you only want to pay one single bill every month. 

Once you reduce your debt, you can have more free money for important savings goals like buying a home, purchasing a car, or saving for retirement. 

Invest 

What if you could grow your wealth without taking on an extra job or side gig? You can invest. Putting some of your money towards stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, and other types of investments can help you build wealth over time and help you earn more every year. If you’re considering investing, you can use a Robo-advisor to make all the hard decisions, or you can work directly with a human financial advisor to ensure you build a portfolio supporting your savings goals. 

Build Credit

One way to save money is to build your credit score. Having a higher credit score can get you a lower interest rate on any loans you take out, including home loans. In addition, having a good credit score makes you a more trustworthy borrower, so you can get better terms when you take on debt. 

Create a Budget

After understanding your income versus expenses, you can create a budget to help you understand where your money goes every month and how much you have left over. Having a budget can help you hold yourself accountable. You already know your regular monthly bills and how much they’ll cost. Knowing how much is left over and what you can use it on can help you make better decisions with your money. For example, do you need to purchase those expensive shoes you saw online? Probably not, but you can create a new savings goal and set aside a little bit of money every month to purchase them in the future. 

A budget helps you make smarter spending decisions and will help you understand exactly how much money you have left over every month. Then, you can decide what to do with that money — whether it’s putting it into a savings or retirement account or spending it on entertainment. 

Achieve Financial Freedom

Achieving financial freedom isn’t a direct route to wealth. Instead, it can help relieve some of the monthly stress of paying your bills. Financial freedom is easier for some than others, depending on how much they earn. Therefore, you may have to find more ways to earn money to increase your savings. However you go about it, constantly analyzing your financial situation can help you make better spending decisions. 

About the Author Megan Isola

Strategies for Managing Your Money  - Guest Author Headshot

Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys attending concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends. 

Buying Clothes On A Shoe String Budget

Nowadays fashion trends come and go. Styles that are now in will be quickly dropped for another hot look two months from now.

Dressing up really doesn’t have to be that difficult. Trends can be fun for the whimsical who enjoy keeping up with them, but painful for people who cannot afford to be following fashion cycles that move and change as quickly as water. Keeping a few fashion-wise things in mind can help to balance out the crazy cycles.

Working with Styles that Never Fade

Some styles never seem to go out of fashion and can always be useful. Fashion tends to go in cycles and certain styles always do seem to make it back one way or another. For instance, polyester blends do not go out of fashion. Polyester is very wearable and simple to care for. It is a synthetic fabric that saves time and money for the person who chooses to wear it.

One way to battle the fashion trends is to always have some fabrics like polyester or even rayon blends that never seem to go out and are very wearable. Also, stocking the wardrobe with some basic pieces including stripes, dots and monochromatic colors can prove to come in handy and can be used any time under jackets or with jeans.

Leaning on Accessories in Fashion

Accessories are a fun way to make any outfit look like a million bucks. If the dress or the pants cannot be purchased, or are way out of the budget’s reason, accessories can save the day. Colorful bracelets, pins, necklaces, rings, and even belts, beads and purses can add a sense of style and update any look.

Just open up a popular fashion magazine and see what is in store for the season. Chances are there will be a wide display of current accessories to choose from. This may also include makeup, specifically, what is being done with lips, cheeks and hair accessories opposed to last season.

Seeking out Shops within Budget and Reason

Many stores have pumped up prices on clothing especially if the look is a hot, trendy, sought after style that has stemmed right from the fashion runways into the mainstream. There are other places that exist that do not have such high pricetags. These places may include thrift shops, consignment shops, and certain (gently used) clothing boutiques. Stores such as these tend to carry irregular, lightly used or sell out clothing items for much cheaper prices.

To wrap up dressing great on a budget, just try to keep styles and fabrics in the closet that never seem to go out, pile up on the accessories of the season to keep it moving, and seek out plenty of bargain clothing shops (stay clear of department stores). With these guidelines, dressing fabulous on a budget will be very attainable.