How to Prepare for Retirement


Your finances are a big deal, whether you think about them regularly or not. Not only do you need to ensure you have enough money to get by today, but you also need to make sure that you are doing everything you can to save for your future.

The cost of everything is rising, and certain benefits like Social Security may not be around much longer, which means you need to do an even better job ensuring that you can retire at a decent age and still live comfortably. There are plenty of ways you can save money for retirement, and the following tips are there to help you make the decision that’s right for you.


One of the most popular ways that people save for retirement is through investment programs. Some people use their company’s 401 K program or opt for their own. Others place money into a Roth IRA. And some simply tackle the stock market on their own. No matter how you choose to invest, it’s a good way to save for retirement, but there are also plenty of risks involved too. If you’re new to the stock market and investment game, then you need to be sure you do some research to ensure you’re making smart investments. Alvexo’s YouTube Channel has a lot of great tips and tricks to ensure you’re making the right choice, or you can us investment apps or talk with a professional financial advisor. The more knowledgeable you are on the subject, the better your chances will be of earning a good amount of money for your later years.


If the stock market is too risky for you, you also have the option of just putting money into your savings account. Most banks offer some type of interest on the money in your savings, which means that you will be able to earn a little bit extra just for putting money away. There are different ways you can save your money. First, you should try to put a certain amount of every check into savings. A good rule of thumb is to put 10% away. If you have a hard time doing this yourself, you can see if your employer will do it for you, as many payroll processors will give you the option of putting your checks into multiple accounts. This way, you don’t even need to think about that money, and you’ll simply have it when you retire.

If you’re too financially strapped to do that, another way to save is to put all extra money directly into your savings account. For example, if you get a tax return every year, put that money into your savings account for your retirement. If you get an inheritance from a parent, put that money into a savings account. If you’re not used to having that money, and if you put it somewhere you can’t touch it, then you won’t be tempted to use it.


Sometimes in order to get extra money for retirement you need to earn it. There are plenty of ways that you can make some extra cash that you can put away for your retirement. For example, if you have an attic or garage filled with stuff, try selling it at a garage sale or even online. If you have a talent, such as sewing, take up a side business doing alterations for weddings or dances. Then, instead of putting this money into your checking account where you will likely just spend it, be sure to instead put it into savings account or investment so that it goes directly towards your future.

In Your Personal Finance Goals, Don’t Forget About Fun


The reward centers of your brain are insatiable. Those little serotonin and dopamine receptors (and whatever else…I’m not a scientist) need frequent stimulation in order to make you feel happy and fulfilled. People experience this stimulation through, among other things, novelty. It’s why we like to go new places, meet new people, and try new foods. It’s also why it’s easy to get stuck in an emotional rut when you aren’t able to break away from your routine for a long time. Yes indeed, novelty is the essence of satisfaction, for some people more than others. But how do we still scratch the itch of novelty and fun when we’re trying to be frugal?

Personal finance is all about self-control with money. But money is how many of us acquire the stuff and experiences that translates into satisfaction. If, all of a sudden, we cut off the flow of stuff we enjoy (eating out at restaurants, paying for awesome entertainment, buying sexy stuff), it’s easy to start to feel kind of bummed out. That’s why a lot of saving and investment plans never really get off the ground. People are just too bored to keep it up. That’s why it’s vital to keep an element of fun in your early saving in investment plans. When you’ve achieved some measure of wealth, you can afford more of life’s luxuries. But to get to that point, you’ve got to learn some tricks.

  • Learn to DIY. If you can learn to do for yourself many of the things that you pay other people to do for you, you’ll accomplish two things which will help you save and invest your money. A) These things will take time, so you won’t have as much time to be bored and wasteful with your money. B) You’ll get the same buzz from learning how to grill the ultimate burger that you will from buying it at an expensive restaurant, especially if you share the experience with friends. Tactics like these can help you have the same satisfying experiences you enjoy, while saving money by doing the work yourself. You’ll also pick up lifelong skills this way.
  • Use Technology Investment. The most efficient way is not always the best way, because it’s not always a way that you’ll stay interested in long enough to actually accomplish. This is especially true of investment. There are plenty of ways to make money reliably, but they’re boring as toast. There are lots of modern apps and services which makes investment easy and fun, but they skim a little money off the top to make their living. Some investors sneer at stuff like this, but I say, if it’s the difference between you investing and not investing, services like these are worth it. CMC Markets Trading Platforms bring the fun to investment. By using fast paced day trading approaches, you essentially gamify your investment, all while learning real skills which will serve you well for the rest of your investment life.

So learn how to have a fun time with your frugality and investment decisions. It may require a change of pace, or an entirely new lifestyle. But it’s still possible to have an awesome life and grow wealthy, without having to pick one or the other.

5 Potential Pitfalls of Property Investment


There is a growing trend towards DIY these days and it is not limited to projects around the home. The internet makes it possible to become a self-taught expert in all kinds of subjects. Increasingly, people look to manage their own finances with advice garnered online where previously they have sought out professional help face-to-face. However, when it comes to property investment, you need to ensure that you’ve considered all the options and that you’re well-equipped to address them. Here are five important areas where you may need to seek professional advice if you choose to buy-to-let.

Tax implications

The rent generated by your second property will be treated as income by the taxman; and must be declared on an annual self-assessment form. You’ll be taxed according to the income band you fall into. Some costs can be offset ñ mortgage interest payments, letting agency costs and maintenance expenses can all help bring down your tax bill, for example. However, you may also face Capital Gains Tax liabilities if you ultimately sell the property for a profit. If you are not fully clear on the tax implications of owning an investment property, it could pay to seek sound financial advice from a savvy accountant.

Legal responsibilities of being a landlord

There are whole swathes of regulation here designed to protect landlords and tenants alike. To avoid falling foul of your legal responsibilities, you need, for example, to have a compliant tenancy agreement in place. The tenant’s deposit must be protected through a UK-government approved deposit protection scheme. The property must have an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate; and you are also responsible for the safety of gas and electricity supplies on-site. Landlords are under increasing pressure to treat tenants fairly Professional help is often advised to ensure you stay on the right side of the law here.

Ongoing property maintenance

Another area you will be legally responsible for as a landlord is much of the maintenance of the property. Bricks and mortar may look like a solid investment, but inevitably require care and attention from time to time. Apart from that, you stand a better chance of leasing to a better class of tenant if the property is well-maintained. Additionally, you will have to pay out for routine costs such as gas and electricity safety checks, decorating between tenants and so on. Fail to add this to your budget and you may well find that your investment costs more than it generates in profit for you. If youíre no expert at DIY, you’ll need someone who is to ensure repairs and so on are carried out safely.

Void periods

Your property won’t earn money if you have no tenants. In fact, an unexpected or protracted void period may wipe out your profit for the entire year. It’s widely accepted that you should factor in at least 20 days a year when there’s no rent coming in. Because let’s face it, if you’ve taken out a mortgage on the property, the bank still expects their payments, no matter what your status. A good agency can help fill the void quickly and efficiently when tenants move on.


Investing in property is a big commitment. You won’t be able to extract your capital quickly if financial disaster strikes your personal finances. Houses take time to sell, unlike shares and bonds which can be disposed of relatively quickly. It’s far better to have a diverse portfolio of investments, rather than to sink your life savings into a single buy-to-let. Take professional advice from an investment broker so you have a sound exit strategy if necessary.

There is a great deal to be aware of and even more to do. That’s why these days, many still turn to professional and independent property investment brokerage services. These provide a dedicated and integrated service to help you invest in property while avoiding many of the common pitfalls – and much of the hassle ñ that being a hands-on landlord can bring.

Here’s How to Beat the Dealership at Their Own Game


If you’re like most Americans, you probably find buying a car as thrilling as it is frustrating. And, like most Americans, you probably find that the bulk of the frustration comes from dealing with manipulative or just plain dishonest salespeople.

Worse? Buying a car is not the investment that buying a home is. Cars immediately depreciate in value, which makes it even more crucial that you get the best deal you can.

The good news is that staying informed about dealership sales practices is pretty easy if you know where to look. While you’re still bound to get the best price if you’re on friendly terms with someone on the sales team, a bit of research can still turn up plenty of opportunities for you to beat them at their own game.

Here are some tips to help you get the most bang for your buck next time you find yourself looking for a new car.

Do the Homework

Doing research before going to the dealer is a no-brainer. 90% of prospective car buyers conduct online research before making a purchase. In fact, 48% of people take anywhere from one to three months to research their options before setting foot on a lot.

Unfortunately, a further 38% of car buyers make a purchase within four hours after they’ve committed to buying a car, which probably indicates that people aren’t weighing their options as thoroughly as they should. The same goes for buying insurance: most drivers are unaware of just a few basic changes you can make to shave a considerable chunk of change off your premium. For example: combining auto insurance with homeowner’s insurance could net you a savings of up to 15% on your bill, for an average total savings of $285 every year.

Likewise, research will tell you not only what kind of car might fit your lifestyle, but also show you the full range of financing options. Take your time and get the full story.

Look Out for Interest Rate Mark-Ups

Would you be surprised to learn that dealerships regularly mark up the interest rates that they offer their customers? It’s true. Research suggests that the average mark-up is about 2.7%. What does this mean for you? It means that you’d be better off dealing with your financial institution directly instead of relying on the dealership to be the middle-man.

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, about 79% of all auto loans are made through third-party lenders that partner with dealerships. That’s a lot of money that American drivers are leaving on the table: a cumulative $25.8 billion paid in interest each year. If that’s not reason enough to start thinking differently about how you finance your next car, I don’t know what is.

This probably means that you’ll want to commit to a phone call or a visit to your bank or credit union before you even make it to the dealer. To put it another way, anything that makes you less reliant on the dealership will give you an advantage.

Beware the Bait-and-Switch

For another example of a time-honored dealership “technique,” let’s look at the bait-and-switch. This tactic is almost too simple: it involves the dealership advertising a highly attractive price to lure in potential buyers – but when they arrive, that wonderfully low price they’ve been promised is nowhere to be found.

To be honest, I’m as guilty of falling for this tactic as the next person. Last time I was looking for a new car, I got swept up in the aggressive marketing spread throughout the Sunday paper, courtesy of the many car dealerships in my area. When I got to the dealership, though, all of their too-low-to-be-true prices and rates were nowhere to be seen.

As with anything in life, buying a car is another example of a situation where skepticism is your friend. Again, do the requisite research, and take the time to study valuable resources like Kelley Blue Book to get a more realistic idea of the prices you can expect.

Negotiate Each Expense Separately & Know When to Shop

Dealerships also tend to make use of a tactic known as the Four Square Method. The simplest explanation of this tactic is that they choose to lump together each of the major expenses associated with car buying, including the actual price of the car, the down payment, the trade-in value of your current car, and the monthly payments. You’re well within your rights to negotiate each of these elements as their own transaction; in doing so, you’re very likely to save money versus combining them into a single expense.

Finally, knowing when to visit your dealership could be the difference between a middling deal and the deal of a lifetime. Holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day can offer great opportunities to save—just be prepared for the usual holiday traffic, and a higher-than-usual chance of a fender-bender.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this brief look at a few ways to save money at the dealership. If you’ve had success with techniques of your own, feel free to let us know in the comments below!

About the Author:

Daniel Faris currently works as a freelance blogger, journalist, and ghost writer. He writes about technology for The Byte Beat and politics for Only Slightly Biased and The Sound of Progress.

How to Make Driving More Affordable

Let’s face it, driving isn’t cheap these days. However, like lots of people, you might rely on a car to get around. The good news is, as long as you’re savvy, there are ways to control your spending. By following these simple but effective tips, you may be able to bring your motoring costs down.

Choose an efficient car

First and foremost, make sure you’re savvy when you’re selecting your cars. It’s not only the initial price you must take into account, but the ongoing running costs too. As a general rule, small cars with small, efficient engines are the cheapest to use. These vehicles also benefit from lower road tax charges.

Keep your insurance costs down

Regardless of the type of vehicle you purchase, you’ll need to keep your insurance costs down. Lots of people make the mistake of renewing with their existing cover providers year after year without seeing if there are better deals available. Bear in mind, you don’t have to spend hours trawling the web to find competitive premiums. You can leave the legwork up to brokers like Chill, who will search the market on your behalf to turn up the best offers.

You may also be able to reduce your cover costs by fitting approved alarms or immobilisers, and by using off-street parking.

Think before you refuel

Another money saving tip is to choose the cheapest garages when you need to refuel. If you simply wait until you’re nearly out of petrol and then head to nearest fuel station, you could end up paying much more than you need to, especially if you find yourself in motorway petrol stations. Pump prices can vary considerably, and it’s a good idea to get to know the cheapest in your area, and to shop around when you’re away from home.

Service your car regularly

Although services themselves can cost you money, it’s important to get your car checked out on a regular basis. This will help to maintain engine efficiency and therefore keep your fuel consumption down. Keep a close eye on your tyre pressures too.

Drive carefully

Then there’s your driving to consider. To reduce your fuel use, try to drive smoothly and change gear as soon as possible without labouring the engine. Also, stick to the speed limit on the motorway. Travelling at 80-85 miles per hour on these roads can raise your fuel use by a quarter or more.

Also, remove any roof boxes when they’re not in use and don’t store unnecessary items in your boot. This will increase the weight of your vehicle and cause you to burn more fuel.

Driving may never be cheap, but by following advice like this, you can at least keep your expenses in check.

London vs The Rest of The UK – The Housing Difference


London House Prices

Infographic credit:

Three Tips on Saving on Fuel

One of the costs impossible to avoid in our days is the one with the fuel our cars burn day by day. If only there was a way to reduce this cost – which, even with the pronounced reduction of gas prices across the nation – make up an important share of what we spend every month. But wait, there are some things to consider that can vastly improve our cars’ fuel economy, reducing the amount we spend at the pump. Here are some tips to help.

1. Keeping a car in a good shape improves fuel economy

A car with a faulty engine, with dirty filters and dirty oil always consumes much more fuel than one that is maintained in a good shape. Engine troubles can reduce its performance, making it require much more fuel to offer the same performance. Dirty oil reduces friction, again contributing to the heightened fuel consumption. Not to mention the dirty air filter and the partially blocked exhaust, that also contribute to the car running on more gas.

I know that a periodical visit to a mechanic can be costly, but in the long run it costs much less than the loads of fuel consumed by the faulty engine – especially considering that some things – like changing oil or replacing dirty air filters – can be done at home. Maybe by a handy boyfriend or nice neighbor…

2. Keeping your tires well inflated reduces fuel consumption

According to a study, every five pounds per square inch (psi) of tire pressure you lose can translate into a two per cent loss of gas mileage. Translated into more “human” terms, this means that keeping your car’s tires inflated to their recommended pressure will help you save on gas in the long run. Don’t over-inflate your tires, though – besides not helping you at all with fuel economy, an overly inflated set of tires reduces the car’s handling and poses the risk of them blowing out on the road.

3. Keep your AC off while driving at low speeds

Air conditioning can increase your car’s fuel consumption by up to 20%, so when driving around the city at low speeds it’s the best choice to keep it off and travel with your windows down. Things change when you travel at high speeds, say on a highway – the drag caused by opening the windows at speeds of over 60 miles per hour reduces the car’s performance, so there is no significant difference between driving with your windows down or driving with your AC on.

With fossil fuels running low, not minding fuel efficiency is like betting blind in a microgaming casino – it will surely cost you money in the long run. Keep your dollars in your wallet, don’t let them fly out through your car’s exhaust…

How a Shopping Addiction Can Get You Into Legal Trouble

Once upon a time, shopping addictions were confined to grocery stores, malls, and outlets. With the advent of the internet, and the smartphone, both men and women have found that they can get a “rush” by buying online. People now have the opportunity to buy anything at the tip of their fingers. As shopping habits have increased, the number of high paying jobs to fuel these shopping addictions has decreased, helping result in a rise of shopping addictions.

Shopoholism, much like drug and alcoholism, can be destructive to oneself and those close to them. Where an alcoholic will try and hide their bottles, a shopaholic will likely hide their purchases from others due to guilt. If you are unsure if you are a shopaholic, you may want to look at these signs:

Over Spending – Do you go out shopping or online, and spend more than you have allotted?

  • Keeping the Problem Secret – Do you get home from a spree and bury your purchases? Do you also conceal purchases from others?
  • Isolation – Do you hide from others to keep from being criticized?
  • Circle Spree – Do you feel guilty about your purchases and return them, just to go on another spree?

These can be serious signs that you have a shopping addiction.

In some cases, these urges mixed with a lack of income to fuel the addiction can lead one to break the law to fill their rush. Whether it’s charging more than you have on your card or writing a bad check, or stealing someone else’s card to make your purchases. By stealing someone else’s credit, identity theft felony charges can result in a $10,000 fine and up to 3 years in prison, and a misdemeanor may also lead to a $1,000 maximum fine and up to 1 year in county jail.

If you are caught shoplifting, you could face the following financial charges depending on where you live:

  • You must pay full restitution.
  • A civil penalty, which could be a formula that includes the cost of an item plus an additional fine, consisting of double the value or $500, whichever is higher.
  • Reasonable court costs may also be added to your fine.
  • Depending on the value of the item and your record, you could face anywhere from 3 months to 3 years in jail.

In one situation, a woman went on a killing spree to fill her shopping spree needs. Dana Sue Grey killed three elderly women and went on a shopping spree with their credit cards. One of the victims luckily survived Grey’s attack and was able to alert the authorities. Grey’s little spree landed her in prison for life.


People who steal, usually do so for the emotional “rush”. In other words, they like the feeling when they get away with it. The sensation of adrenaline running through their body. Many people in this situation may be depressed, and not even realize it!

If you or someone you love may suffer from a shopping addiction, you should look into getting some help. Whether you get some self-help, find a counseling group, or check into a rehab center, you do have options. As you way your options, you can start your recovery with some of these simple tips:

  • The first step to any addiction is admitting you have a problem.
  • Remove any check books and credit cards. Studies have shown that people, who carry a limited amount of cash, are less likely to spend more.
  • Find ways to fill your time in a meaningful way outside of shopping.

It is highly recommended that a psychiatric evaluation be done to better understand the degree of addiction to better help you, a friend, or relative repair their lives. If you or someone you know if facing criminal charges, you should also look for a criminal defense lawyer in your area as soon as possible to better understand your legal options.