Personal Capital Review – Managing All Your Investments in One Place

One thing that I have craved for investors is a tool that allows you to sync all your investment accounts in one place that also gives you more investment related analysis.

Mint does a fantastic job of giving you numbers, but falls short on giving you a greater insight into your overall portfolio.

For my clients, I subscribe to Blueleaf – which is fantastic. The only downside is that you have to be my client (or another advisor that uses it) to get access to it. I realize that everyone will not be my client so the hunt continued for another option. I then discovered Personal Capital.

Bam!

Personal Capital Review

I was excited to learn more about it that I immediately signed up. I’m currently synching all my investment accounts and giving Personal Capital a try. In the meantime, I had Kevin write a review about them so you can better understand how this awesome (and free) program works. [Read more…]

10 Tips for Saving Money on Business Networking

This is a guest post by John Corcoran of SmartBusinessRevolution.com. 

Like many new entrepreneurs, I made a lot of dumb mistakes right after I started my business.

I worked too long hours. I neglected my family. I spent too much time on stuff that didn’t matter.

Most significantly, I knew the importance of spending time nurturing relationships with new potential clients and referral partners, and so I threw myself into networking. I went out to lunches and cocktail hours, met people for coffee, and attended chamber of commerce mixers and get-togethers.

10 tips for saving money on business networking

The problem was all of these efforts really started to add up. It was a bad financial habit, and the costs quickly started to spiral out of control.

The cost of acquiring new clients was far too high to sustain. If I had been on Shark Tank, they probably would have kicked me out of the room.

I have made my share of bad financial decisions in the past, so I knew I needed to do something.

Like many things in life, I knew I needed to take a long and hard look at myself and my spending patterns. As Jeff wrote in his great new book Soldier of Finance, “you will find that getting to the real root of your current situation in life requires honest reflection.”

At the same time, eliminating all networking would have been short-sighted. Like Jeff, I depend on referrals, and networking is important to maintaining a consistent referral business. So I couldn’t cut out these costs entirely.

I had to cut back, but the question was where to start. Unfortunately, there was no “one size meets all” solution. I’d have to prune my budget with a scalpel, not a machete.

Here’s how I did it.

[Read more…]

How to Outsmart Consumer Culture

It’s everywhere.

In advertisements, on TV, at the supermarket. All over town, shiny new products are sitting on shelves, calling out your name, inundating you with a desire to buy.

What do we call this? In a word (or two): “consumer culture.”

Not only does buying something tickle the fancy of our desires, it tickles the receptors of our brains. When we buy something that we like, and go through the act of purchasing, we’re affected in more ways than one.

consumer spending culture

Similar to smoking, imbibing alcohol, and exercising, we respond physically and mentally to the rush of ownership, possession, or experience. The effect of consumer culture is felt equally by the person who realizes they’re getting into debt thanks to overspending, the person who gets a mortgage they can’t afford, and even the person who can’t get a loan because their credit score isn’t good enough.

But how to avoid it? The easy answer would be: “don’t shop.”

However, that answer leaves a lot to be desired because while it’s pithy it’s also largely unreasonable. Being that we can count on interacting with purchasing messages on a regular basis, it’s not a feasible solution. Unless you’re willing to live off the grid, you’ll be faced with consumer culture, or the result of it, every day of your life.

Even living on the outskirts of town won’t necessarily guarantee a non-consumer lifestyle. The act of buying, trading and consuming goods is ever-present in modern society.  If you try to run away from it, you’ll only be followed by ads for new running shoes.

Instead of outrunning it, we have to outsmart it. We have to learn how to live within consumer culture and how to adapt to it. With that in mind, here is our guide to outsmarting consumer culture in order to save money and build wealth:

[Read more…]

Are You Talking About The Sandwich Generation?

Did you know that July is national “Sandwich Generation” month?

And not in the cold cuts and extra pickles kind of way. The Sandwich Generation is a term used to describe those who find themselves ‘sandwiched’ between two generations – providing financial care for family members in the generation above and below, while still having to find a way to care for themselves.

It’s clearly a name that lends itself to wordplay and jokes, but ‘The Sandwich Generation’ is also a serious topic that merits attention as projections for financial struggle and hardship become realities and people begin (or continue) to feel the pressure.

sandwich generation

And though its name suggests a time limit, as people continue to live longer, and students continue to take on crushing debt at a young age, the term sandwich generation could very well morph into the sandwich nation.

It’s a very real possibility, and again – less appetizing than the name suggests. So as the structure for retirement (or lack thereof) rearranges, are we doing all we can to talk about the reality of multi-generational care?

[Read more…]

7 Things To Know About a Solo 401(k) Plan

Having joined the ranks of the self-employed by co-founding my own firm in 2007, I no longer had the option to contributing to my previous employers 401k plan.

I has officially started my own small business and was now open to a slew of retirement plan choices.

solo 401k rules

I could do a Simple IRA, SEP IRA, or the Solo 401k plan.

I had done my fair share of advising clients on the investments inside these plans, but it’s whole new ballgame when you are on the other side deciding what plan is best for you.

I initially choose the SEP IRA for the first several years of running my own business, but then switched to the Solo 401k 2 years ago.  Now that I have more than one employee, I’ll be setting up a traditional 401k this year.

Although the plan is designed for the individual business owner (or self employed), it is technically available to the spouse of the owner and any shareholder or partner in the business, as well.

1.  A Solo 401(k) is Simple

Setting up a Solo 401k makes a lot of sense for sole proprietors, owners of an S Corporation, C Corporation or partnership.  Initially my business was structured as a sole proprietor so setting up a Solo 401k seemed like it made a lot of sense.   Unlike traditional 401ks, there are no complicated discrimination tests or Form 5500 filing.

Not sure what a 5500 is?  It’s a form that larger 401k plans have to file with IRS to be compliant.  A Solo 401k doesn’t have to worry until the plan reaches in excess of $250,000 to have to file a Form 5500.  If and when I have to file a form 5500, I won’t complain that much.  ;-) [Read more…]

Dollars and Cents: Can You Put Land in an IRA?

It’s time for another edition of Dollar and Cents. This is where I answer one of your questions.

If you have a question, either use the contact form on the blog or use my Facebook Fanpage.

We want to put our IRA into a self-directed IRA and purchase some land with it as an investment. Do you have any tips on how to do this? We know what it is and we know we want to do it. But now what?

[Read more…]

5 Reasons to Plant a Garden this Year

grow a garden

I love my garden. My husband and I aren’t serious gardeners, but we grow tomatoes, cucumbers, a variety of bell peppers, herbs, and berries. We also have four fruit trees in the back yard, although only the gala apple tree has provided us with something substantial so far.

We’re not alone, either. The National Gardening Association reports that about 43 million Americans grow some of their own food. Gardening can be a great way to grow your own food, improve your health, and save money. If you are wondering if you should start gardening, here are 5 good reasons to start a garden this year: [Read more…]

Video Review and Walkthrough of Personal Capital

We’ve done a review of Personal Capital in the past.

But sometimes there just isn’t a good way to put into words how well a new financial tool works.

Being able to show Good Financial Cents readers exactly how to sign up for an account with Personal Capital, look at what the tool looks like, and giving an overall walkthrough would require a video.

“But Jeff, I’ve never done a video!”, I explained… mostly calm.

“You can figure it out. Just give it a try. I think this is really important for readers to see.”, he retorted.

And that’s how we got here.
[Read more…]

How to Withdraw Money From Your IRA Penalty Free

We live in a world where stuff happens.

Air conditioners break, kids need braces, and dogs need heart worm medication.

When the unexpected occurs and you suddenly find yourself in a cash needy situation, one place that investors are tempted to raid is their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA’s).

If you don’t have a 401k that you can borrow from, your credit cards are tapped, and your emergency fund is in need of just that -an emergency, then tapping your IRA might be the only option.

This is a last resort, especially if you haven’t reached the age of 59 1/2.  Did you know, however, that there are ways that you can withdrawal your IRA without penalty?

Yes, that’s right.  Uncle Sam was generous to allow you to touch your IRA under special circumstances.  If you need the money for one of these reasons, then you might be in luck.
[Read more…]

Day Trading Your 401k is a Recipe For Disaster

I love when people try to convince me that they can time the market and day trade their 401k.

That they honestly believe that they can pull their money out at the peak and consistently do this to where they will never lose money.

Unless you have some crystal ball that I’m unaware of or there was a major called “Market Timing 101″ that I missed on my school’s class curriculum, then the chances of you timing the market are slim to none.

Even worse in your 401k since selling or buying your funds does not typically settle on the same day.

To all my 401k market timers, this video’s for you….

Have a co-worker that thinks you need to day trade your 401k? Be sure to send this video to them.

Carnival of Financial Planning

On a blog that takes great pleasure in offering great financial planning information, I’m excited to be hosting this week’s Carnival of Financial Planning. :)

Be sure to check out some of these great reads:

BUDGETING AND ECONOMICS

Anna @ BryanMaltier.com writes How To Save Money With Coupons – Couponing may still be one of the best ways to start paying closer attention to your budget by spending less and saving more. If you aren’t sure where to start on improving your personal finances, think about your consumption and find ways to cut back using coupons.

Jules Wilson @ Fat Guy,Skinny Wallet writes Plumbing And The Family Tree: The Roots Run Deep – We often have resources close to home. There are probably people in your family, your church, job, or even friends that can help save you time and a lot of money.

Chris @ Well Kept Wallet writes How to Work From Anywhere – Have you ever wanted to be able to travel and have the ability to work from any place in the world? Here are ten tips to help you make that happen.

[Read more…]

5 Things You Need to Know About The Traditional IRA 2014

traditional ira rules and limitsYou know how much I love the Roth IRA.  Love, love, love it!!

I’m actually more in love with the Roth IRA than I am the 401k.

And you already know how I feel about target date mutual funds.  <blah!>

But what about the Traditional IRA?  Does it still have it’s place in your retirement plan? You betcha!!

If you are fortunate to work at a company that offers a match on your 401(k) deposits, don’t walk away from that free money. There, however, might be some instances where the traditional IRA has its place.

Here’s a closer look at some of the rules of the Traditional IRA Account.

[Read more…]