blog, personal finance, Uncategorized

The Best Holiday Shopping Budget Tips

Holidays are a time for giving, but giving too much can also put you in a huge financial hole. If you don’t want to end up having to dig yourself out of a shopping deficit at the end of December, follow these holiday shopping budget tips.

1. Set an overall budget.

Think about what you’re really able to spend overall and stick to that amount. What you’ll spend on each individual can fluctuate within that amount, but the overall budget should remain the same to avoid overspending.

2. Make a list of gift recipients, then trim it down.

Your second cousin whom you haven’t seen in 10 years probably doesn’t need a new set of dinner plates. Stick to the closest family members and friends for gift giving. If you still want to send something to long-lost relatives and acquaintances, a holiday photo card is a nice, inexpensive idea.

3. Use cash for purchases.

Credit cards can make it much easier to overspend. Instead, put cash aside at the beginning of the holiday shopping season and use that money to make purchases. If you prefer online shopping, create a separate account for your holiday shopping money, or be extremely disciplined in sticking to your budget.

4. Take advantage of free shipping.

Online shopping is convenient, but the shipping costs can really add up. Take advantage of free shipping days by making several gift purchases at once. Most retailers offer free shipping if you spend a certain amount.

5. Start shopping early.

Waiting until the last minute can cause you to overspend. Starting your holiday shopping as early as September or October is a good idea because you can shop a little bit at a time. Everyday deals are often better than Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals anyway, and you’ll be more likely to score the big-ticket items that might sell out on these busy shopping days.

6. Think quality, not quantity.

One thoughtful gift is more appreciated than several random items. Homemade gifts are also a good idea as they come from the heart. The best part is, they’re also less expensive.

Stay on budget with these holiday shopping tips and enjoy the season!

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Estate Planning Simplified

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Nobody likes thinking about dying, but, if you die without a plan in place, you’ll be leaving your assets and your family in a difficult position. In that case, you’ll be taking the chance that the state’s probate laws will work in your family’s favor. It’s much more advantageous to develop a simple estate plan.

Start With a Will

Above all, you need a will to ensure certain arrangements will meet with your approval. Even if you don’t have many assets, you should use your will to identify your heirs and determine how assets will be divided up among them. More importantly, a will is the only way you can choose guardians for your minor children and make arrangements for their care.

Add a Living Trust

Your estate plan should also include a living trust. If you have significant assets, or if you want to make sure a loved one receives a specific piece of property, a living trust will serve this purpose better than a will. Since a trust is a private document, it typically won’t be included in the probate process. This means any property transferred via the trust will also be kept out of the probate process.

Care for Yourself With Powers of Attorney

An estate plan can also help you take care of yourself in the future by helping you choose people to make medical care and financial decisions for you. A healthcare proxy allows you to choose someone you trust to make decisions regarding your healthcare if you’re ever in a situation in which you can’t communicate your wishes. Under those same circumstances, a financial power of attorney will appoint someone of your choosing to take care of your finances until you’re able to act on your own behalf.

While you could probably create a simple will that’s legally binding, it’s a smarter move to consult an estate planning attorney. An experienced lawyer can help you draft the other documents you’ll need for your estate plan, and they can explain how the laws in your state will affect your final wishes. Creating a simple plan for the future may seem bothersome, but you’ll be surprised by the peace of mind it provides once it’s done.

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

Finance Tips for the Holiday Season

The holiday season can get pretty expensive. Starting with candy and costumes for family and neighbors in October, followed by a feast of food in November and all of the gifts, gatherings, and extras around the winter holiday season, bills can really add up. Unfortunately, your wallet may not be able to keep up with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. There are several ways to help you save money while still allowing you to delight in the magic and wonder of the holidays.

Set a budget

It’s easy to spend money when you don’t try to set a cap on how much you’re allowed to spend. Without a budget, you’ll be more likely to overspend. Sit down and work numbers before even setting foot in a store so you know exactly how much you have to spend. On average, people spend around $704 during the holiday season, but that is all dependent on an individual’s personal financial situation.

Do your research

Everyone is going to be advertising that they have the best deal on a specific product during the holiday season. It’s up to you to do your homework and see who’s actually telling the truth. You can comparison shop right from the comfort of your own home by looking up prices online. That way, you’ll know you’re getting the best deal.

To read the full blog, visit JBowmanAccountant.org.

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

3 Things to Consider Before Investing in Stocks

As an increasing number of books, websites, and apps introduce the stock market to the general public, more people find the stock market to be accessible. Even though software and guides have streamlined the process, adequate research is essential for anyone hoping to get into the stock game. It’s crucial to keep numbers in mind, but nuggets of advice are equally important. Whether you’re a first-time investor or seasoned stock aficionado, the following three tips are important to keep in mind.

You have to set goals

Throwing your cash in random directions and hoping something sticks is the exact opposite of what a good investor should do. Look into the industries that interest you and seek out key players and up-and-coming competitors. Then, develop a strategy by deciding how much money you’ll invest total, and how much each investment will be. It’s best to start simpleif you don’t have much investing experience, which means you should stick to regular investments and establish a well-researched foundation. Once you’ve started that foundation, give yourself a timeframe before you check on those stocks again—as you’ll see in the next section, obsessing over the numbers is going to hinder you.

You have to keep a level head

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has maintained for years that the buy-and-hold strategy is the best option for any investor. Real-time updates cause dramatic fluctuations to the stock market. While sudden drops in stock rates are worrisome, a goal-focused investor should be safe, even if rates are down. This is especially key in the short-term, as split-second decisions can be dangerous for the success of an investor’s stock portfolio. A volatile market is one in which long-term negative changes come into play. A short-term downturn is not necessarily a cause for alarm.

You have to diversify your investments

Don’t just invest in a bunch of businesses from one industry. Check out a few industries and businesses of interest to you, and ask yourself whether they fit in with your overall goals and budget. A diverse portfolio reduces the overall effect of a downturn on your portfolio. This may not be doable early into your investing journey, but as your portfolio grows and your investing confidence improves, diversification is going to be important.

This article was originally published at JBowmanAccountant.org.

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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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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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To continue reading please visit jbowmanaccountant.org

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

Preparing for Tax Season

Tax season can be a stressful, but rewarding time, depending on your work and financial situation.  With tax time right around the corner, you’re probably anticipating receiving your W-2 from your employer in the mail, and any other necessary documents, within the next few weeks.  Today, your taxes can be managed in numerous ways from a personal accountant, a nationwide accounting service, or even, an app on your phone that doesn’t require a visit to an office; the way you choose to have your taxes done is really based on your personal preference.  One thing, however, that everyone has in common regardless of how your taxes are done, is how you should prepare for tax time to make it easy on yourself, or your tax professional. Here are a few key ways to better prepare for tax time:

Figure Out Your Preference

As previously mentioned, today, your taxes can be done in various ways.  The first step to preparing for tax time, is figuring out how, and who, you want to do your taxes.  Do you plan on doing them yourself? Or would you prefer to have them done by an accountant or a tax-preparation service?  Keep a few things in mind. If you plan to do them yourself, you want to make sure you have all of the right information and know about the deductions that you’re entitled to.  If you plan on hiring an accountant or tax-preparation service, make sure you do the necessary research so you know who you’re working with.

Get Your Forms in Order

Everyone has a different financial situation, and there are multiple tax forms one will need depending on their situation.  To get yourself best prepared, figure out which forms are necessary for you during tax time, and get them in order. If you’re unsure, you can always take a look at the IRS website or consult a professional you may know.  

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This article was originally published on jbowmanaccountant.info 

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Great Ways to Boost Your Credit

One of the many ways we are “defined” by society, is by our credit score and history.  Your credit information has a very significant impact on not only your personal finances but also a majority of your life and different events you may experiences, such as buying your first home.  The first step in credit management is establishing your credit score. Once this is done, it’s important to remember that you’ll want to continue to build your credit up in various ways; you can do this by gradually making small credit charges or larger transactions such as financing or leasing your first vehicle.  Always remember that any credit charges you make need to be paid back within a specific period of time, and late payments can negatively impact your score, as well as result in late charges and higher interest payments. Here are some great tips for boosting your credit:

Make Payments On-Time

Whenever you make a credit charge, you should keep the payment due date noted somewhere where it will help you remember.  Credit cards are a great tool for boosting your credit when they are used properly; however, they can do more harm than good when they aren’t managed correctly.  Any credit card charges you make should always be paid on early or on time. This will give you a good rapport with the credit company, as well as boost your score.  You’ll also avoid any late charges, and you’ll have a better chance of getting future credit cards and other purchases with low-interest rates.

Avoid Making Minimum Payments

While minimum payments are an option that you’ll usually see when you’re making a payment, it’s best to pay your bills in full if you can…

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How to Curb Overspending and Avoid Debt

One of the most common problems adults deal with every month is efficiently managing their finances.  Depending on your salary, and your regular monthly expenses, you may find yourself struggling to stay afloat or save some extra money.  If you’re wondering where your paycheck is going, you may want to take a deep look into your spending habits. While you may be covering all of your necessary bills, you may also be overspending on things you don’t necessarily need.  Not to worry; this is something many adults deal with, and there are plenty of solutions to help better manage your habits.  Here’s how:

Track All Spending

The first and most obvious step to curbing your overspending is tracking your spending in general.  Every week, you should track where your money is going. By the end of the month, you should have a compiled list of what you’re spending each week, and where you can cut back.  Seems like an easy task, and something you really wouldn’t need to track; however, the smallest purchases can really add up and make a significant impact if you have enough of them.  For example, if you’re someone who goes out to lunch on your break from work, you’re likely spending almost $10 a day, if not more! This ad’s up to a minimum of $50 that you could be using for necessary bills, or putting into your savings account!

Know Your Spending Triggers

It’s not uncommon to spend based on your emotional or psychological triggers.  Things like your mood, environment, friends, etc., can really dictate the way you’re spending.  Take notice of this. Recognize what you’re feeling, or doing when you’re out splurging on things you don’t need.  For example, if you’re an emotional spender, you may find the need to go on a spree if you’re feeling down or even happy.  However, when you’re trying to save money, this can be detrimental to your savings plan. Be aware of your triggers, and do what you can to supplement them in ways other than swiping your credit or debit card…

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To continue reading please visit jbowmanaccountant.info 

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