John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

What To Know About Financing A Car

One of the first large purchases a person typically makes is a car. Although the process can seem a bit daunting, it is far less complicated than it seems. Once you have a basic understanding of what financing a car means, you will be far more capable of choosing the right option for you.

To get started, take a look at what financing a car means: put simply, you want to be a car, but you don’t have the money to pay for it in full. So instead, you finance the vehicle or pay the car off over time with either a loan or a lease. The most important thing to understand about financing is that along with the loan or lease comes interest rates, fees, and other costs, so although financing happens more often than not, it is more expensive to do so than to purchase the car outright.

Once you have determined that financing a car is your best option, it is time to look at whether you want to finance through a loan or a lease.

Loan v. Lease

There is a distinct difference between loaning and leasing: when you are financing a car with a loan, you are paying to own the vehicle, whereas if you are financing a car with a lease, you’re paying to use the car, not to own.

Financing a car through a loan consists of 3 factors: the loan amount, the annual percentage rate (APR) and the length of the loan. Use a calculator like THIS one to determine how various loan amounts, APRs and loan periods will affect your monthly payment. Other essential components to remember:

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blog, John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

Tips When Buying Your First Home

Buying a home is an exciting, yet stressful process.  You’re making one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make, and you want to ensure you’re going about things the right way.  For first time home buyers, this may seem even more difficult, since you aren’t exactly familiar with the process and everything that comes with it.  Additionally, depending on your state, the buying process may vary, to it’s important to be aware of any local differences. Generally, however, there are a few good tips to consider when buying your first home:

Enquire About Your Mortgage Options

As a first time home buyer, your mortgage options are one of the most important parts of your entire buying process.  Your mortgage loan determines the type of home you can afford (price wise), and how long you’ll be paying for it, depending on the amount of your down payment.  Keep in mind, your downpayment affects how much you need to borrow in your mortgage loan, so the more you have in your down payment, the better. However, for first time home buyers, down payments requirements also differ sometimes from that of someone who’s owned a home before.  Either way, find out what option works best for you, and work on your mortgage from there.

Start Saving Early

To ensure you have a solid down payment, you definitely want to start saving as early as possible.  Whether you’re putting down a “traditional” down payment of 20%, or taking advantage of a first time home buyer program, with a down payment as little as 3%, you will likely need a nice lump sum saved to cover the downpayment and closing costs…

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John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

Common Financial Mistakes Many People Make

Rarely, does someone have a perfect financial history.  Mistakes in finance are common and it’s likely that most people have experienced them at one point or another.  The important thing is to figure out how to correct them, as they can tend to pile up and create somewhat of financial hardship.  However, don’t panic; with the right tools, you can easily change your financial habits. The following tips are a great guide and provide insight into the many financial mistakes people tend to make.

Too Many Monthly Payments

You may not realize it, but your monthly payments tend to add up, quickly.  Many people are seeking the “better” things in life, so they’re willing to tack on monthly finance payments to acquire the things they desire.  And while the monthly payments may not seem like a big hit at the time, the more you have, the more they tend to add up. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for people to have monthly payments that are more on the unnecessary side.  Consider the gym, for example. While for some, a gym membership is a great investment, for others, it may just be a monthly bill that isn’t regularly utilized.  Consider where your bills each month are going, and see which ones are actually necessary.

High Credit Balances

While credit cards may seem like a great way to get what you need, without having to see your bank account take an immediate hit, they can do more harm than good if they aren’t used properly.  Think of a credit card as borrowed money; money that needs to be paid back, and should be paid back in full to avoid any further charges like interest and late fees. The days of cash only are gone for many people, as credit cards are a regular part of today’s society.  Utilize your credit cards to purchases that you know you’ll be able to pay in full and avoid using them for everyday purchases that will increase your balance quickly…

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John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

Increasing Your Savings Account Contributions

We frequently talk about ways to manage your credit score, combat debt, and be financially free.  One of the best ways to work towards financial freedom is having a savings account and directly contributing to it regularly.  A savings account is a great way to budget your money, and give yourself a nice fund for your future and any major life events that might come your way, such as purchasing your first home, or sending your child to college.  If you already have a savings account, you may want to find ways to increase your contributions. Here are a few key ways to do so:

Evaluate Expenses

Always evaluate your expenses before you get into forming your plan.  The amount of money you save will likely be based partially on how much you’re spending per month.  So you’ll want to calculate your monthly bills, and how much you spend on any other monthly expenses, such as food, gas, dry cleaning, etc.  If you’re finding your spending habits are extreme and are preventing you from regularly contributing to your savings account, find ways to cut back on things that may not be that necessary or important.

Set Achievable Goals

The first step in creating any solid savings plan is setting goals that are realistic and achievable.  You’ll want to base these goals on your current finances; how much money you bring in a month, versus your spending and expenses.  Once you have figured that out, set goals that make sense with your finances, whether that’s a specific portion of your paycheck per week or working on a monthly basis…

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Saving for Your Child’s College Education

With the rapidly rising cost of college tuition, parents are well-justified in their anxiousness about how to pay for their child’s education. There is a myriad of options for parents wanting to get a head start in saving for this big investment. Although it can often be overwhelming deciding what path to take when planning for your child’s educational future and how to pay for it, here are a few of the top options to consider for your savings plan:

529 College Plan

The gold standard of college saving is the 529 plan. Also known as Qualified Tuition Programs (QTP), this plan allows parents to invest after-tax money into a qualified fund and then withdraw that money and its gains tax-free to put toward use for educational expenses. With more than 30 states offering these type of plans, it pays to shop around to find the best fit for your individual needs.

Roth IRA

Although this type of investment is most associated with retirement savings, a Roth IRA can also be an invaluable vehicle when saving for college expenses. The withdraw rules are similar to the 529, however, investors can use the Roth dividends to also go toward retirement, giving this type of plan more flexibility should your child not pursue a higher education.

Prepaid College Tuition Plans

Self-explanatory in nature, these plans allow parents the benefit of pre-paying for college at today’s prices. By locking in current prices, parents can guard themselves against rapidly escalating costs while also saving money.

Coverdell Education Savings Account

This trust applies to both college education expenses as well as costs incurred at K-12 levels. Although the terms are more flexible, a Coverdell account comes with a $2,000 annual limit, making this choice a deterrent for families wishing to contribute more.

UGMA and UTMA Custodial Accounts

Although these accounts do not have as many tax advantages as its Roth or 529 counterparts, they can be gifted to a child for any reason. Unlike other investment accounts geared toward education, these accounts are placed in the child’s name, giving them full control over the money when the term expires. Conversely, since the child owns the fund, the amount of qualifying aid might be affected.

 

This article was originally posted on jbowmanaccountant.org

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John J. Bowman Jr Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

How to Maintain Financial Stability

If you’re looking for a better financial future, then maintaining stability should be at the top of the list of things you may want to focus on.  However, maintaining a financially stable bank account may often seem easier than it actually is. As you do your research, you will find yourself creating a path to help you reach your financial goals.  Build your path beginning with a few of these staple tips to help maintain and build your financial stability.

Set Your Goals

If you are going to get to your target of financial stability, you have to know what that looks like for you. After all, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. Set attainable goals that will act as stepping stones to your goal.  Keep in mind, unrealistic goals can often do more harm than good; keep your goals within realistic reach.

Always think SMART

Achieving goals requires SMART thinking.  SMART stands for, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. For instance, saying you want to have more money is not a goal.  However, saying you want to contribute 20% of your paycheck into your savings account for the next year, is setting a SMART goal for yourself to reach.

Seek Help From Mentors

It would be very safe for you to assume that there are people in your life who have similar financial goals, and have taken the necessary steps to achieve them.  Seek their guidance and ask for assistance if you need it. Additionally, look for books, teachers, seminars, and any kind of connection with a mentor or source of information that can help you get where you want to go. Now that you know your goal, you can be more selective in picking your program to get you there.

Cut Down on Spending

Spending on things you don’t need is the quickest way to decrease your financial stability. However, it remains a very common problem for many Americans. Understanding the smaller things that you may not realize you’re consistently spending on, is a great way to start.  Go further by making a list of all the things you spend money on in your life that you can cut out if you want to. Doing this will give you a great look into how much money you could really be saving.

When it comes to finances, it is something that is on everyone’s mind but few people take enough action on. Instead of suffering financially as an entrepreneur, you can have financial stability. But it won’t happen overnight. Use the tips above and start going in the right direction in your financial life. Eventually, you will be in a place of complete security and peace of mind.

 

This article was originally posted on jbowmanaccountant.com

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blog, John J. Bowman Jr Accountant, John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

Essential Money Tips for Before and After Retirement

Throughout life, there are many different financial phases and stages that someone goes through.  From opening your first savings account to buying your first house, and so on.  It is important to build your financial structure over time, to ensure the best possible financial stability as you embark on a lifelong journey.  Here are a few simple money tips to follow before and after your retire.

Open a Savings Account

The first savings account you open independently is an important part of your quest to build financial stability, and a retirement plan that will keep you comfortable.  Start with your preferred banking institution, and sit down with a personal banker. Find out what type of savings accounts your bank offers, if there are any fees or perks, and do your best to contribute to it every paycheck.

Pay Down Your Debt

Outstanding debt is a major issue for many American adults.  Student loans, mortgages, credit cards, and car loans are all components of consumer or household debt.  In fact, by 2018, Americans accumulated a new record of $13 trillion in debt.  It is important, and wildly beneficial, to start tackling outstanding debt as soon as possible.  Establish payment plans for your student loans, and work on paying off credit card debt.

Consider Your Budget When Buying Your First House

Buying your first home can be very exciting; however, it can also be extremely expensive.  Always consider your budget when house hunting. Think about and understand what you can afford, while still being able to live comfortably, rather than what you want to afford.  Take time to do the required research on loans, mortgages, and lenders; a first home can often come with renovations, you will want to have some money set aside for this as well.

Invest In Retirement

Though it could be years away, it is essential to your future retirement to start planning as soon as possible.  Take a look into 401K plans that your company may offer, if they match or not, and if so, how much. If your company doesn’t offer a 401K, take a look into some independent options, like an individual 401K or an IRA (Individual Retirement Account).

Know Your Budget

While you will have resources like social security, and the retirement plans that you contributed to over the years, it’s important to understand your budget after you retire.  Not having a flowing steady income that you may be used to, can sometimes make understanding what your budget is a little more difficult. After you retire, take a look at the money you are still collecting, and your expenses; and don’t forget, part-time work is always available to stay busy and still collect an income.

Consider Downsizing

The idea of downsizing can be frightening, depending on what you’re used to.  First, try not to look at it in a negative light. Downsizing can be a great way to enjoy retirement and cut down some living expenses.  Not only can you potentially save on your living expenses, but also reduce upkeep, home maintenance, and taxes.

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John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance

How to Stop Overpaying for the Basics

Households across America are struggling to make ends meet. High housing costs plague many cities. In others, stagnant wages offer little prospect for relief. Many people try to work multiple jobs and reach for just a few more billable hours, but even the hardest workers only have so much time and energy. This leaves people feeling pinched every month, concerned that paying basic expenses will tips them over the edge and into debt.

Ben Franklin is famous for the adage, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” With budgets so tight, this adage is truer than ever. The best place to start saving is on the recurring expenses that you resign yourself to paying every month.

Rethink Cable

Do you really need cable? If you have an Internet connection, you can save a bundle by cutting the cord and opting for streaming services like Netflix, Roku, and Hulu. Speaking of electronics, are you overpaying for your cell phone? Unlimited service is available for as low as $35/month via certain retailers; if you are paying more than that, shop around for other options.

Be Sustainable

Energy bills can leave you broke, especially if you live hot or cold climates. Every degree you lower the thermostat in winter and raise it in summer can save you up to 3 percent on your bill. If no one’s home all day, why pay to keep the place at 75 degrees? A programmable thermostat can help you adjust temperatures according to your schedule. When you head to work, are buses and trains an option? Many Millennials find they can do without cars and the payments, insurance, and gas that keep many Americans broke.

Eat In

Dining out can serve up an unnecessary burden on your budget. Avoid high costs and calories by learning some quick recipes to prepare at home. Brown bagging your lunch saves you money and calories. Cook a big dish over the weekend and take the leftover to work. For groceries, forget convenience and shop where you get the best value. Warehouse clubs can save you money if you avoid the temptation to buy more than you use. Be especially careful with perishables. Also, get a coffee maker to make your brew at home. If you like gourmet coffee, you’ll need to invest in gourmet maker, but you’ll make up for the expense over time. If you are stopping by the pharmacy, make sure to get the generic equivalents for both prescription and over the counter medications.

Find Low-Cost Entertainment

Unless you’re a monk, you probably need some entertainment now and then. Big movie theatre chains offer discount plans and second-run movie houses provide big savings. There are also great deals for kids.

These strategies can save you hundreds every month. That can be enough to fund an emergency savings account or retirement plan. Establishing a cost-effective lifestyle takes planning and discipline, but it’s better than being broke.

 

Originally posted on JBowmanAccountant.info

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Which Schools Have the Best MBA Programs?

For business students, earning their MBA is a major goal. Earning an MBA can provide business school graduates with multiple benefits; including the opportunity for an increased salary, new opportunities, and a large network of industry contacts. However, to achieve the maximum benefits of earning an MBA, business school students try to attend the elite business schools to give themselves a chance at the best opportunities. Here is a look at the top business schools in the World.

Yale University (Yale School of Management)

All MBA students attending Yale’s School of Management are required to complete one global studies course. Students can choose from International Experiences Courses, Global Network Courses, or Global Network Weeks. Students even have the option of spending a semester at the school of an exchange partner.

The University of California at Berkeley (Haas School of Business)

The Haas School of Business is the second oldest business school in the United States. The school was named after Walter Haas, an undergrad at California Berkeley who grew Levi Strauss & Co. into the largest apparel manufacturer in the World. The Haas School of Business is known for its impressive diversity among its MBA classes. The student body is composed of many women, minorities, and international students.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has established itself as one of the best colleges in the World. The Sloan School of Management recently celebrated its 100 year anniversary, and offers students three different MBA programs; entrepreneurship and innovation, enterprise management, and finance. Graduates from the Sloan School of Management found employment at major companies such as Adobe, Google, and Microsoft. Multiple graduates also went on to start their own businesses.

The University of Chicago (Booth School of Business)

The Booth School of Business features a high job placement rate, as over 95% of graduating students find employment within a few months of graduation. Many students were able to find employment in companies such as Amazon, Boston Consulting Group and Bank of America. The Booth School of Business prepares students for the future by using real-world business scenarios through lab courses and experiential learning.

The University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)

The Wharton School has a great reputation for helping their students find a high paying job within months of graduation. The Wharton School is the oldest business school in the US, and was established with a donation from industrial giant Joseph Wharton. Graduates from the Wharton School have access to large networks of famous alumni; including LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and John Sculley of Pepsi and Apple.

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