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Posts Tagged ‘save money’

When we hear of a coupon clipper, most of our minds instinctively gravitate towards poor, low income or elderly – not to a city where the average household income is over $75,000.  And, when we hear of San Francisco, the natural connection is with an expensive city, high standard of living and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. However, debunking these judgements that the most prevalent coupon users come from the lower income subset of the population, San Francisco – one of the wealthiest cities in the top metropolitan areas of the U.S. – is the savviest coupon city in the nation.

That’s according to data from the latest Savings Index survey  from that shows Americans used 1.6 billion coupons last year, saving a whopping $2 billion on groceries and household goods. San Franciscans alone saved more than $56 million by using and were three times more likely to use coupons than shoppers in other cities.

But San Francisco residents have not always been the most coupon savvy. In 2013 they held the Number 14 spot among the Top 25 Most Frugal Cities List and Orlando was the most coupon-savvy city.

Ironically – or maybe not so ironic considering we’ve established that the most coupon savvy households are not financially strapped – the two cities with the highest annual household income – San Francisco and Washington D.C. – saved $106.9 million in couponing.  That’s nearly as much as the rest of the markets combined. The average annual household income in San Francisco is more than $75,000 and it’s upwards of $65,000 in Washington D.C.

Two Florida cities also made the list – Orlando which held the top spot last year now sits at Number 3 and Tampa retained its Number 4 spot from 2013.

Just in case you’re curious as to whether your city made the list of America’s Top 25 Most Frugal Cities they are listed below. To those cities that made the list, MissMoneyBee says thumbs up. As for those that didn’t, there’s always next year. With the advent of the internet, mobile devices and apps, coupons have never been easier to redeem – saving both time and money. So go ahead, redeem those coupons. There’s nothing to lose but added cost and time to be gained.  Happy Couponing!

  1. San Francisco
  2. Washington D.C.
  3. Orlando
  4. Tampa
  5. Charlotte
  6. Atlanta
  7. Nashville
  8. Cleveland
  9. Denver
  10. Virginia Beach
  11. Kansas City
  12. Raleigh
  13. Las Vegas
  14. Philadelphia
  15. Dallas
  16. Indianapolis
  17. St. Louis
  18. Phoenix
  19. Columbus
  20. Boston
  21. Cincinnati
  22. Providence
  23. Milwaukee
  24. Chicago
  25. Pittsburgh

$177,000! That’s the average amount an American is expected to inherit according to HSBC Holdings, a banking company.

The cliche “easy come, easy go,” should never apply to an inheritance, but often does. Studies show heirs lose, spend or donate half of their inheritance. Although you didn’t work for it, bear in mind that Aunt Tilly or Grandpa Tom probably worked really hard to amass the wealth they have passed on to you.

The reality is such that an inheritance often starts with grief which is one of the most profound emotions we ever experience according to Chris Bennett, co-founding partner of a consultant firm The Abbott Bennett Group. And so making financial decisions based on emotion is never wise.

“Particularly with the death of a parent, people can feel a whole range of emotions – guilt, overwhelming loss, anger, relief,” Bennett says. “It’s a very bad time to make decisions that can affect you and your family for the rest of your lives.”

It is important therefore that heirs think of their inherited wealth as the income it could provide over the rest of their lives, and not as a lump sum. So what do you do if you aren’t financially savvy to begin with? After checking out Consolidated Credit’s section on how to manage your finances, follow these tips so you don’t waste your inheritance.

“People need to plan for inheriting wealth to avoid the pitfalls that result in so many heirs making emotional or ill-informed decisions they later regret” says Michael Abbott, a veteran financial consultant and CFO of The Abbott Bennett Group.

Abbot and Bennett say the following three tips will help you plan and make the best of your inheritance.

•  Before turning non-cash assets into cash, ask questions—seek expert advice
People inherit everything from real estate to stocks and bonds, IRAS, gold and jewelry. Regardless of what you inherit there are tax burdens attached. So as you make financial decisions it’s important to keep taxes in mind. The last thing you want is to pay a large portion of your inheritance on taxes. In order to preserve as much of your inheritance as possible, learn the best way to minimize the tax burden for each asset. Tax laws are complicated so you might want to hire a CPA to help you.

Abbot says, “Once you’ve liquefied the asset – once you’ve turned it into cash – it’s too late. Life insurance is an exception. You won’t be taxed on that. A ROTH IRA that’s more than 5 years old will also be an exception if the amount is exempt under the current federal estate tax rules.” ($5.3 million for 2014.)

• Roll tax-deferred retirement plan, into an inherited IRA
“An IRA or 401(k), for instance, is a tax-deferred asset – the person who left it to you did not pay taxes on it, Bennett says. “So if you take it in a lump sum, which some plans require, everything you withdraw will be considered taxable income for you.”

So, pay particular attention to your IRA inheritance. Bear in mind that withdrawals are considered income and are thus taxable. What you can do instead is opt to roll that money into an inherited IRA. An inherited IRA retains the deceased’s name and clearly indicates it’s inherited. Do not add it onto your own IRA. Be sure to spread your withdrawals so your money will continue to grow over time.

• Have a conversation with your loved ones before they pass 

The subject of a loved one’s mortality and what you stand to inherit after their demise is a tough conversation to have. But Abbot says one of the biggest mistakes people make is to shun the discussion on inheritance while everyone is still alive and well. Doing so allows heirs to know their loved ones’ wishes so they can make plans – without emotion – for what they may do with the assets.

Not only will it help you decide what to do with your inheritance, but allowing a loved one the opportunity to express their wishes of what to do with your inheritance will also give them a peace of mind. Although these aren’t easy conversation starters, if your loved ones want to initiate the conversation, as emotional or unsettling as it may be, let them. Abbot says, “Some adult children won’t initiate the conversation because they’re afraid of appearing greedy or eager for their parents to die.”

He continued, “Sometimes, the parents want to discuss matters but their children aren’t comfortable addressing mom and dad’s mortality. Even spouses avoid talking about it. It’s the most easily avoidable mistake families make.”

While it may be hard to bring up the subject, Bennett says timing is everything. If a family you know or a family in the news is dealing with estate issues use the timing to bring up the conversation.

Inheritance can be a life-changing experience. One that also represents your loved one’s financial legacy Bennett and Abbott agree.

“Managing it well and preserving it is an important thing you can do in memory of that person you lost.”



By: Monica Victor

Janet is in her late thirties and shares an apartment with her two siblings and two nieces. She has two degrees, little job experience and over $45,000 in student loan debt.

Post-graduation, it took Janet a year to gain employment. She settled for a job, albeit fun, pays little – she can barely make ends meet. Janet works paycheck-to-paycheck and does not have an emergency savings fund.

Luckily for Janet, she still has a decent credit score so she qualifies for credit cards easily – although, she exaggerates her annual income during the application process.

Janet applied for cards that offered 0 percent APR, maxed them out and paid the minimum. She does not have a financial plan and is about $50,000 in debt – student loans and credit cards combined.  She lives in constant fear that an emergency will arise and she will be in no position to take control financially.

Janet is not alone.

Fifty percent of Americans have less than one month’s income saved for emergencies according to a study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), a national nonprofit organization that empowers low- and moderate-income households to build and preserve assets.

A survey by Gallup revealed just 32 percent of Americans keep a household budget and only 30 percent of Americans prepare a long-term financial plan such as savings and investments. Last year, CNN reported that more than three quarters of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck.

These statistics do not surprise Gregg Murset, a financial planner and CEO of MyJobChart, an online chore chart for kids.

“A lot of people living at a variety of different income levels live life paying bills, and living paycheck by paycheck,” Murset says. “The problem is that people are not planning to fail but are failing to plan.”

Murset asserts in order to become more successful with your money you need to take a thorough look at your financial situation.

“First, determine that you are going to control your money and not the other way around,” he says. “Get really good at sizing up something as a need or a want and don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to stick to your decision.”

Setting up an automatic savings plan and hiding it will also increase your chances of success with money. “If you set it up and the money disappears automatically each month it is really likely that you won’t even miss it,” he says. “It’s not the amount that really is the most important thing.  It’s the fact that you are doing something consistently each month.  It will literally become something that is “out of sight, out of mind”.

In addition – “Set up a separate savings account, with a separate financial institution and make a point not to check the balance very often,” Murset says. “Set a password on the online access TOTALLY different than the one you use for everything else.  As you put some of these roadblocks in the way of yourself, you will largely forget about that money and not be tempted to get back into the hole you just dug yourself out of.”

For people like Janet who take on 0 percent interest cards and max them out, Murset says, “These introductory rates and zero percent offers always have a catch. The low rates go away after a while and by that time you are caught in the trap of having a balance too big to pay off completely and then you have to start paying some serious interest rates.

If you get sucked into the zero percent or low introductory marketing ploys odds are you will pay the piper,” he says. “When you simply pay the minimum balances on bills and don’t understand your true debt you are only digging a deeper hole.”

About the Author:

Monica Victor is a copywriter for Her writings seek to help consumers successfully manage their hard earned dollars and cents, encourage folks to live debt-free and to improve or otherwise maintain a healthy financial outlook. Connect with Monica at



RPG-Life Transition Specialists Explain

The 401(k) has long been regarded as the standard when it comes to planning for retirement. However as Nicole Mayer AIF® CDFA™ of RPG- Life Transition Specialists points out, there are costly mistakes to avoid when stashing away your savings.  “From failing to take advantage of matched contributions to hidden fees that add up, there is more to a 401(k) than saving money,” notes Mayer.

Tips for making the most of your retirement savings:

  1. Failing to Consider an IRA: Leaving money in a former employer’s 401(k) could add up to thousands of dollars in administrative fees over the long-term. Shifting the savings to an IRA will not only provide a diversified range of investment funds, it is less expensive than those that are actively managed.
  2. Forgetting to Pay Yourself First: On the other hand, if the current employer offers to match 401(k) contributions of up to a certain sum, it would be a mistake to not leverage that benefit. Most employers will match a percentage of your contributions into their employee’s accounts.
  3. Becoming Too Conservative Too Soon: As retirement approaches, 401(k) investors may be tempted to reduce their risk by limiting their plan’s stock exposure. “Many investors fail to account for the fact that they will live another 25 years or more,” says Mayer. “They will either need to alter their lifestyle or grow their portfolio.”
  4. Passively Monitoring Activity: Rebalancing a 401(k) on an annual and/or semi-annual basis is a must. Actively managing how savings are divided will prevent funds from becoming one-sided, which could spell trouble for when it is time to withdraw money.



By Jeffrey Strain

One of the issues many people have trouble overcoming when trying to get their finances in order is that it requires a commitment to a lifestyle change. If your finances aren’t in order, it’s because you have been doing things that have lead to them not being in order. If you continue doing the same things that you have been doing, you are going to continue to get the same results. That means that if you aren’t willing to make the change, you’re going to have a difficult time succeeding in getting your finances where you want them.

A good analogy would be dieting. Going on a diet doesn’t work if you’re trying to get healthier. It’s a short term solution that will never have lasting effects. It’s not until you make a lifestyle change in your eating habits that you actually have the chance to get healthier. While many may complain that they can’t eat everything that they want, making the change is an investment in their future health.

In the same way, temporarily cutting costs isn’t the solution to getting your finances in order. It’s the same mentality as those who are trying to get healthy through the latest diet. It will likely have some short-term benefits, but it won’t deal with the underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Even worse, you will likely hate and complain about having to do it the entire time. You don’t really want to cut the costs, you have to against your will. You have to make this huge sacrifice because you don’t have enough money. Taking this approach to try and better your financial situation is bound to lead to failure.

One of the most important mental changes that you can make is changing your belief system that when you forego something now, it’s not a sacrifice, but instead it’s an investment in the future. Take a moment to let that sink in. You have two ways that you can look at it. Forgoing something you might want at this moment can either be viewed as a sacrifice that you don’t want to make but have to, or it can be viewed as an investment in the future that you do want.

By taking the initiative to see that the choices you make regarding money, and the choice to delay or forego certain things today in order to achieve the greater goals you have for the future, you are working for something positive. You are no longer sacrificing each day. Instead you’re investing in your future day in and day out.

Part of what makes this mental view change possible is the commitment that you really do want to change. If you are seeing everything as a burdensome sacrifice, there’s a good chance that you’re not really committed to making the changes. You’re more likely being forced to make them against your will. Once you have taken the time to find and set your financial goals, and then make the commitment to achieving them because that is what you want, you will find that everything you’re doing isn’t the sacrifice you once thought it was. You’ll see that what you’re truly doing is laying the foundation for your future and investing in it.