Friday, April 14, 2017

How Much Do You Invest?

A question that people often ask is "How much should you invest in a particular stock?" My short answer is a lot.

During a lunchtime conversation with a co-worker, he announced that he was buying 100 shares in company that makes jeans that happen to be popular with his daughter and her friends. In my mind, that is not investing; that is what some people call "playing in the stock market". And I would never do that. True stock investing requires far more fundamental research.

When deciding on how much to invest, you should push yourself to the edge of your comfort zone. The actual dollar amount depends on how big your portfolio is, and how much trading experience you have. What is comfortable for one person might be a stretch for others. But, by pushing toward the end of their comfort zone, investors are forcing themselves to more thoroughly consider their investment.


Disclaimer: This material is for general information only. It is not intended as an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any security or fund.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Discover Card Q2 2017 Cashback Bonus Categories

Discover Card offers a 5% cashback bonus on a "seasonally rotating" list of spending categories. They just announced their categories for Q2 2017. Currently, these bonus categories are as follows:

Discover Card
  • 5% cash back 1/1/17 - 3/31/17: Gas Stations, Ground Transportation, and Wholesale Clubs
  • 5% cash back 4/1/17 - 6/30/17: Home Improvement Stores, and Wholesale Clubs
  • up to 1% on everything else.

I find it curious that Discover is offering a 5% bonus on purchases from Wholesale Clubs. The only such club that I'm a member of is Costco, and they do not accept Discover as payment. Does anybody know of a Wholesale Club that accepts Discover?


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Surviving the Paycheck to Paycheck Lifestyle

Whether you live alone or have a family, living paycheck to paycheck doesn't give you any room for unexpected events. If your car needs a major repair or your child needs medical attention it can become difficult, if not impossible to get back on track. The good news is that there are many ways you can supplement your income and recover your losses in short order.

Organize a yard sale
In your time of need, there are clever ways to come up with a few hundred dollars to cover most if not all of your immediate emergency. For one, you can have a yard sale. If it's been a few years since you've cleaned out the basement, attic or garage, chances are pretty good that you have many items that you don't need. Furniture, clothing, tools and silverware are big sellers at yard sales. Doing this you get the added bonus of finally giving your home a thorough cleaning. If you collect coins, stamps, comic books or dolls, there are many private and professional retailers that will pay big for these items. Check online to see if there's a shop in your area.

Borrow money short term
I know the last thing you need is to owe more money, but in some instances, you can't avoid it. If you have a family member or friend who is able and willing you can take out a loan with them for a few months interest-free. If, however, this is not an option available to you, you could choose from any number of installment loans online. Maxlend Loans provides personal cash loans and installment loans in amounts up to $1250 as an alternative option to payday lending. Key benefits include minimal eligibility requirements, fast funding and flexible repayment. Qualified applicants must have a social security number, an active checking account, and a verifiable source of income. This will give you an easy way to borrow the funds and allow you to pay small payments over the course of 6 to 12 months.

Review your budget
As you move forward it's important to get on track so that you don't let yourself fall into this type situation again. Some people have a budget but rarely stick to it. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. A budget is only effective when you follow it. Once you change out this and push that back you eventually run out of wiggle room on your monthly bills and then you're in the mess known as the paycheck to paycheck cycle. It's important to take a look at your bills and come up with a strategy to reduce your income to debt ratio as fast as possible. If your bills are less than your income, ending the paycheck to paycheck cycle can happen rather quickly by prioritizing your bills. For example, if you have credit cards, pay the smallest one off first and then move to the next one with the lowest balance.

Live frugal

One of the fastest ways to acquire money on a shoe-string budget is to learn to live frugally. This doesn't mean you have to make your own detergent, but it is possible. No, what it means is you give up some of your habits that cost more than you think. If you pass up on the morning hot latte, your afternoon lunch with the exception of Fridays and dine in most of the month, those few items can add up to hundreds per month. The best part of learning to live frugally is that you're not sacrificing your quality of life you're simply learning how to make every penny matter.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

IRS e-file – When Will I Get My IRS Tax Refund (2017)?

If you are wondering when you can expect to receive your tax refund from the IRS, you are not alone. In past years, the IRS published a table where you could look up when your federal tax refund would be deposited in your bank account (by direct deposit), or when your check would be mailed. It seems that this document, Publication 2043, doesn't provide a table anymore. From previous years, the IRS reported that over 90% of refunds were issued in less than 21 days. The same results are expected in 2017.

You can also check the status of your income tax refund using this link. (And of course, en Español: ¿Dónde está mi reembolso?) You will need to enter your social security number, filing status, and refund amount to see your refund status.

I've heard some anecdotal stories about the IRS a long time to process refunds in the past. So I will be curious how the IRS does this time around.

If you haven't prepared your tax return yet, I encourage you to do so soon.


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