Budgeting

Save or Pay Student Loans?

If you recently graduated from college and landed a good job, congratulations. You may face a dilemma: Begin saving for your future or pay off student debt now?

Of course, avoid missing payments on your loans and at least meet your monthly minimums. The big question depends on whether your income exceeds your monthly expenses (including your minimum payments). How do you best put that money to work?

Saving for a Down Payment

If you are financially ready to be a home owner, now the most critical piece of the puzzle is the down payment. Coming up with enough cash for it is the biggest challenge of home buying. So once your finances are in order, it’s time to focus on saving.

Ready to Buy First Home?

Owning your home is fantastic — if you are financially ready. Here’s a quick checklist to help you determine if you can afford to be a home owner.

The first home purchase is not only a major life milestone, but it’s also a big financial commitment, a decision you should not take lightly. There’s a lot more to buying a house than just the price of it. Other items to factor in include mortgage origination fees, closing costs, interest, homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, which can fluctuate depending on the yearly assessed value of your property.

Stewardship and Your Money

What traits of the wealthy make them good at managing money? That question assumes a direct correlation between your wealth and your skill at managing that wealth. Wrong idea.

Better to ask, “What are the traits of someone who is a good steward of wealth?”

Managing Marriage & Money

One set of financial goals is hard enough to manage. Two sets can seem impossible until you learn how to merge finances with your spouse – and how to keep some assets separate.

Coming together with your spouse for big-picture costs – homes, a college education – is probably easier if you share financial goals and values. Some couples match up from the start; other couples grow into such simpatico. (Amazingly, some couples succeed in planning despite having many different goals and values.)

Investing? Know Your Goals

You know you need to put money away. You might want to save for retirement or for your child’s education or just need a rainy-day fund for emergencies. Whatever your target, know that different financial goals require different strategies.

I hate it when a client says, “I have X amount of dollars to invest” and yet won’t tell me anything about his or her goals. I can’t give you a good answer unless I can understand what you’re trying to accomplish with money.

How’s Your Emergency Fund?

Financial planners commonly recommend you keep an easily accessible emergency fund for unexpected expenses. Too bad few people do it. Take steps now to avoid being caught short of money.

More than a third (34%) of 2,000 adults recently had an unexpected event such as a medical problem or a home-related expense that set them back financially, according to a national survey by Pew Research.

Getting Free Advisor Help

Financial advisors are not just for the wealthy. If anything, the financially insecure need advisors more. If you can’t afford one, the good news is, free advisory services exist to help you stand on your feet.

“We do tons of planning for people with very limited assets,” said Anthony Canale, president of the Financial Planning Association, New York Chapter, during a panel discussion.

Young and Burdened by Debt

Today’s college grads carry unprecedented amounts of debt. How should they deal with it? Here are some strategies.

The problem sneaks up on many young borrowers. Wall Street Journal reporter Veronica Dahger, moderator of a panel of advisors, noted that a lot college grads will wake up to discover that they are burdened by an “overwhelming amount of debt.”

Talking Money With Honey

One of the most ticklish situations in a marriage is dealing with money – often because couples don’t talk about it, or if they do, not well. Advisors explored this fraught subject at National Financial Advisor Week.

“Being compatible romantically does not mean being compatible financially,” said Hilary Hendershott, on a panel of advisors that dug into the issue.

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