Guide to Investing in Your 20s

Laying the groundwork for a lifelong investment strategy

Young man in front of a blackboard with financial notes on itYou have finally graduated college and, after finally finding a full-time job, can start paying back those student loans. Retirement seems like it is in the distant future and you are more concerned with living paycheck to paycheck. But it is never too early to start preparing for your future by establishing sound financial footing and taking early investment steps.

Save money
The first step to investing is to align your spending habits with your investment plans by carving out a chunk of every paycheck for savings. While you might not feel that you have the current flexibility to put away any money, the earlier you make saving an uncompromisable habit, the easier it will be to increase your investments long-term.

According to Charles Schwab Foundation president Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz in an interview with Forbes, people in their 20s should be budgeting for and saving at least 10 percent of their annual income. While this may seem excessive, the more you have saved early on, the more it will compound over the next 50 years. Not to mention, it is a solid step to increasing your savings rate to 20 percent in your 30s.

Pay off your debts
Get out from underneath the oppressive thumb of student loan and credit card debt as quickly as possible by establishing an aggressive debt repayment plan. According to Stacy Rapacon of Kiplinger, the longer you let debt linger, the further it will set your finances back in the form of greater interest payments and lower credit scores. The sooner you repay your debts and free yourself from crippling interest payments, the more money you’ll have to invest in your future.

Fund your retirement
It is never too early to start setting aside money in your retirement fund, especially since the years will only compound how much you will have in your account by the time you retire. Rapacon of Kiplinger calculates that if you invest $100 a month as a 25-year-old, assuming an 8 percent return and quarterly compounding, you’ll have around $346,000 by the time you turn 65.

Investing money in a retirement fund now is even more essential because of your employer’s matching program. Arielle O’Shea of NerdWallet highly suggests taking advantage of your employer’s generosity by contributing to any available retirement plan, such as a 401k, especially if your employer offers a matching percentage.

If you don’t have access to a company-based 401k, Forbes’ Samantha Sharf recommends investigating the option of starting a Roth IRA or Roth 401k that taxes your contributions now but lets those contributions grow tax-free for the rest of your lifetime.

Take risks
Those who do invest in their 20s often do so conservatively because they don’t want to see any of their hard-earned money lost, but that also limits the potential for their investments to grow. According to O’Shea, “Many millennial investors make the mistake of avoiding risk even though it helps them over a long timeframe.” Thus, to reach your target retirement financial goals, it is important to allocate much of your portfolio to stocks over bonds. While there may be more short-term drops, Vanguard analyses show that it is the way to get a better lifelong annual return.

Get advice
If you are not sure what the best investment options are for you, or would like additional clarification on what investing involves, it never hurts to ask for advice from an advisor who can help you map out a financial plan that spans. O’Shea of Nerdwallet recommends even opening an account with a robo-advisor that will give you basic insights into your current plan and offer advice on the next steps.

Your gut feeling may be to wait to invest and spend your money elsewhere while you are young, but the more aggressively you save and invest your income now, the better prepared you will be for retirement.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

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Holiday Shopping on a Budget

Tips to limit what you spend on gifts this season

Woman holiday shopping online using a laptop and a credit cardThe holidays should be time for celebration and generosity, not for accumulating credit card debt and draining your savings. By sticking to a budget and following these simple strategies, you can bestow meaningful gifts while staying within your financial means.

Create a budget
Donna Montaldo, contributor to TheBalance.com, advises that you make a spending budget before the holiday season hits. Make this an informed amount, based on what you can truly afford to pay.

Make a list
Maya Kachroo-Levine, contributor to Forbes.com, suggests making a list of everyone you want to buy presents for along with a certain amount you should spend on each person. This will help you stay within your allotted budget.

Avoid using credit cards
Montaldo recommends leaving your credit cards at home to avoid racking up debt while shopping. Mellody Hobson, writer for ABC News, recommends using your debit card instead. This way, you won’t be tempted to spend beyond your means and you won’t have to pay interest on your purchases.

Start saving early
Kachroo-Levine advises starting a holiday spending fund as early as possible so that when the holidays approach, you will already have a surplus to tap into. Consider setting aside $30 a week starting two to three months before the holidays.

Compare prices
Hobson suggests that you research prices before purchasing any gift. If you’re shopping in person, use your phone to check online to see if there’s a discounted price if you order an item online. You can also check prices of that item at similar stores.

Re-gifting
Another affordable option to stay within your budget this holiday is to re-gift an item that you received but don’t use or need, explains Montaldo. Make sure the gift is new and wrap it in an attractive package to give it a fresh look.

Go homemade
Browse ideas on Pinterest and others websites for simple gifts that you can make yourself. Montaldo suggests visiting the dollar store to purchase candy or nuts that you can package in mason jars and wrap with festive bows. Handmade items such as cookies or homemade bath salts are two additional ideas great for teachers and coworkers.

Rethink gifts for your partner
It can be easy to overspend on the people closest to you, particularly your spouse or significant other. Kachroo-Levine recommends setting money aside earlier in the year to purchase a high-cost experience or household item that you both have been wanting. Another great idea is to give your partner the gift of quality time this year, to avoid focusing on material possessions as gifts.

Amp up your gift’s appearance
Montaldo advises enhancing the visual appearance of your present by investing in quality gift wrap, ribbons, bows and accessories. You can also add a personal touch by making your own gift wrap, following do-it-yourself instructions on sites like Pinterest and Instructables.

Say “no” to holiday guilt
A thoughtful gift doesn’t necessarily mean an expensive one. Also, you don’t have to buy an item for every coworker and acquaintance you know, explains Kachroo-Levine.

Stay within your budget by applying these practical suggestions for giving affordable holiday gifts this season.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Furniture Restoration for Beginners

woman sanding an old wooden tabletopGive new life to hand-me-down treasures and thrift-store finds
Breathing new life into hand-me-down furniture, thrift store finds and flea market treasures is a creative way to save money and decorate your home with one-of-a kind, customized pieces. Whether using a new paint color to spruce up a table, new upholstery fabric to brighten up tattered chairs or a new stain to restore a youthful glow to a dresser, you can cultivate a stylish and signature look for every room in your house by letting your inner interior designer run wild.

Simple fix
Typically, second-hand furniture and thrift-store steals have seen better days in both style and condition, but if that couch or chair retains a solid foundation, making them look new again can be an easy fix. According to the experts at BHG.com, a slipcover can hide past damage and create a whole new look for an outdated piece; they suggest choosing one in a neutral pattern or color and using accessories for a punch of color and interest.

Style reinvented
Give new life to an old piece by giving it a totally new identity. CountryLiving.com writer Sienna Fantozzi highlights an antique ladder repurposed as a cute storage solution for pretty quilts and extra blankets, a table constructed from old shutters and an old metal washtub flipped upside down for a rustic addition to your décor.

A dining room table by any other name is a coffee table, says BHG.com, which suggests cutting down a dining room table to coffee table height, painting it a new color and adorning it with a fabric remnant for a distinct look.

Entertainment cabinets have fallen out of fashion as television sets have become sleeker with wall-mounting potential. BHG.com suggests turning these once-useful consoles into sturdy shelves, accessorized with decorative bins, perfect for a dorm room.

Picture perfect
Art is a captivating way to add warmth, style and texture to your walls. But sometimes you might love the frame more than the picture it surrounds. The experts at BHG.com suggest replacing an ugly picture in a beautiful frame with an eye-catching wallpaper remnant. The wallpaper can complement the look of your room, add color to a neutral room or dress your wall with an attractive pattern. Or, perhaps you’d like to incorporate your artistic ability into a new frame—paint, draw or reframe a photograph that has special meaning to you.

New hue
Sometimes fresh and clean is the best way to energize or downplay the look of old furniture and fixtures. BHG.com suggests recovering lamp bases and nightstand tables in white. With so many shades, you’ll have no problem picking the right one for your room.

If you are ready to try your hand at stripping, staining and refinishing a wood piece, HowStuffWorks.com writers Emilie Sennebogen and Jill Jaracz recommend putting safety first. Since chemicals in wood varnish and strippers are highly toxic, it’s essential that you protect your skin with proper clothing, your eyes with safety glasses and your lungs with a mask while you work in a well-ventilated area. Clean the piece well, repair areas of damage, follow the directions on any chemicals you use to strip the existing paint or finish, sand what’s necessary and take time figuring out what stain is right for your work of art, advise Sennebogen and Jaracz.

If you are a bargain hunter, a fan of DIY or just want to create something special for your home, a little time and effort can transform neglected hand-me-downs and overlooked treasures into wonderful, stylish additions to your home.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Vehicles That Offer the Best Retained Value

Blue Jeep Wrangler on scenic overlook with lake in backgroundThe following vehicles manage to best combat the effects of depreciation
One of the major drawbacks of purchasing a new vehicle is the steep depreciation that takes effect right after the purchase is completed. Once a vehicle is driven off the lot, its value usually begins to plummet significantly. Still, there are outliers in the automotive industry that retain quite a bit of their initial value. If drivers look to sell their vehicles down the line, these outliers will generate the best return on investment.

Spanning across several different segments and brands, here are just a handful of vehicles that offer the best retained value, according to experts at Kelley Blue Book.

Compact Car: 2017 Subaru Impreza
Subaru vehicles are some of the only in the industry to offer all-wheel drive standard, making them an increasingly popular choice, especially in areas with harsh winters. Because of this, many drivers hold on to their Subaru vehicles for far longer than usual, thus increasing their residual value. In the first three years, the 2017 Subaru Impreza manages to maintain 54.9% of its initial value. At five years, that amount only decreases to 36.1%, making it a standout in the sedan segment.

Compact SUV/Crossover: 2017 Jeep Wrangler
There really isn’t any other vehicle in the automotive world quite like the legendary Jeep Wrangler. Due to both its unique design and its cult following among automotive enthusiasts, the Jeep Wrangler has been able to maintain a high retained value for years. The latest iteration of the Jeep Wrangler manages to keep 60.6% of its initial value after three years have passed. Even after five years, the Wrangler manages to retain nearly half of its initial value at 47.4%.

Sports Car: 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman
Porsche is regarded as one of the world’s most recognizable and refined brands. Motorists who purchase vehicles from Porsche, like the 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman, don’t tend to turn around and sell those vehicles soon after, greatly increasing their resale value. In the first 36 months, the 718 Cayman’s value only decreases to 54.5% of its initial worth. At 60 months, the value is estimated at 39.5%.

Hybrid Car: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid
Vehicles that utilize alternative energy and hybrid technology are quickly gaining popularity. Since such vehicles are still a minority in the industry, their rarity only makes their value grow. The basic version of the 2017 Honda Accord already retains a sizable amount of its initial value over time. Still, when the Accord is upgraded to its hybrid variant, the resale value in the first three years stays set at 42.7%.

Pickup Truck: 2017 Toyota Tacoma
Out of any segment in the automotive industry, pickup trucks managed to possess the highest retained value. The leader in this segment is the 2017 Toyota Tacoma. The Tacoma manages to achieve the highest-rated resale value of any truck, with 71.8% of its initial value retained after three years and 58.4% of its value retained after five years. According to Kelley Blue Book, those ratings make it the vehicle with the best retained value across all segments and brands of the automotive industry.

Originating from iconic brands and offering distinct collections of attributes, these vehicles manage to maintain a value that other automobiles tend to quickly lose.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

How to Remove Coffee Stains from Your Life

person spilled coffe on shirt and work on deskTips and tricks for removing coffee stains from problem surfaces
Inevitable—coffee stains everything. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get those stains out. Depending on what material the coffee has been spilled on, there are a variety of tools you can use to remove the stains. Here are a few commonly coffee-stained items and the best ways to get those stains out.

Carpet
You make your morning coffee and walk into the living room to watch the news; on your way there, the dog jumps out in front of you and trips you. The mug goes flying, spilling black coffee all over the brand new carpet. Quick—grab a beer out of the fridge and pour a small amount over the stain, according to Reader’s Digest. Let it sit for a minute, then use an old towel to soak it up. The coffee, and the stain, should come right with it. You can repeat this process if necessary.

Dishes
If your beautiful wedding china has been stained by your grandpa’s insistence on drinking his five cups of coffee black, reach for some baking soda. Reader’s Digest suggests dipping a damp cloth in some baking soda and rubbing it directly on the dishes. The baking soda and water should combine into a thick paste for you to use as a kind of soap. Then simply rinse the dishes and put them away.

Car seats
According to Compare.com, the most important step in cleaning coffee stains out of your car is to act fast. The stain will become far more difficult to clean if it sets into the material. Use a towel, blanket or any other material that will absorb and blot until you’ve managed to soak up the liquid. Next, create a mixture: one-third vinegar, two-thirds water and a small amount of dishwashing liquid. Gently rub the mixture into the stain with a towel. Rinse the stain with plain water and blot up the rest of the liquid. To dry the area, Compare.com recommends using a blow dryer on a low setting.

Clothing
Did you spill coffee down the front of your dress shirt on the way to work? The Huffington Post recommends using paper towels to soak up the stain. It’s important that you blot the shirt, not rub. Rubbing the stain will just make it worse. Once you’ve soaked up as much of the liquid as possible, use a stain removal pen on the spot. If you’re at home, let some stain remover soak on the shirt before throwing it in the washing machine for its designed cycle.

Furniture upholstery
The dreaded stain: upholstery. You can’t just throw the beautifully upholstered chair in the washing machine, so what do you do? Stain Removal 101 recommends a combination of cold water and dishwashing liquid. After blotting the stain, mix two cups of cold water and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and apply it to a sponge. Use the sponge to blot the stain until it disappears. If necessary, you can repeat this process several times. Once the stain has been lifted, blot with plain water to remove any soap residue; then blot with a new towel until the spot is dry.

There is no reason you should have to give up your morning coffee to avoid coffee stains. You can kick those stains to the curb without a second thought, no matter what material it made its way onto.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Cool Ways to Save Extra Money

A little creativity and thought can save you a lot of money
Couple Saving MoneyThere are many ways to save a little extra money each month, some of which have added benefits beyond financial ones. Have a little fun and get some great additional perks with these five out-of-the-ordinary ways to save extra money.

Forgo cable
With the popularity of Hulu, Netflix and other streaming services, cable isn’t considered a necessity anymore. These streaming services even produce their own shows that you can’t watch anywhere else. Plus, their fees are just a fraction of the average monthly cable bill—services like Apple TV only cost a flat fee up front for the device.

Another way to get media on the cheap is to dust off that old library card. Many local libraries are part of a network from which you can rent a vast selection of DVDs, TV series boxed sets, CDs and books. Even better, it’s absolutely free—as long as you return everything on time.

Socialize cheaply
Instead of going to the movies on date night or heading out for drinks with your pals, look for free activities happening in your area.

“Many cities offer a host of free activities, especially in the summer months. Use social media tools and the web to find listings for community activities and make your date night a little cheaper,” wrote money blogger Nicole Graham on LifeHack.org. “This will also push you to do something new or different, which will broaden your horizons and help you meet new people.”

You can also host your own social events. Save on menu items, tax, tips and parking by hosting a potluck supper. Or organize a clothing swap—it can be a fun, intimate event; and you can all get some free new outfits out of the deal.

Eat at home
Maybe your apartment is too small to host a potluck, but you can still plan your meals ahead and cook at home for yourself in order to pocket some cash.

“Taking a few hours every weekend to grocery shop and meal plan for the week will definitely save you money, as dining out is the No. 1 expense for most households,” said Brittney Castro of CNBC. “By eating at home, you save money that would otherwise be spent on tax and tip—and you usually save calories, too.”

If you do eat out—maybe it’s a special occasion or a reward—at least try to order take-out rather than dining in or getting food delivered. You won’t have to pay the double-fee of tipping the driver AND paying the delivery charge.

Get crafty
Take to Pinterest, beauty blogs and more to find cheap, easy-to-make and oftentimes eco-friendly cleaning or beauty supplies. These online resources can also give you cool ideas for repurposing items around the house or crafting in general, so finding a new hobby out of the deal is yet another advantage.

Charge yourself for bad habits
Quitting vices, such as smoking, can save you a ton of money. But the actual process of kicking the habit can save you some money as well. On LifeHack.org, Graham recommends labeling a jar with your designated bad habit and placing a certain denomination of money in the jar every time you find yourself partaking in said bad habit.

As if watching exclusive media content, hanging with friends, helping the planet or bettering yourself could get any better—with these tips, you can save money while you’re at it!

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Saving on College Moving Expenses

Tips to save money on your move to college
Young man carrying tote with personal items, his mom and dad are in the background packing their SUVThe transition from high school student to college student is momentous emotionally, mentally and often geographically. Heading off to college typically includes relocating, and whether that relocation is across the city, state or country, it requires planning, energy and money to move your belongings from your old life to your new life.

To start your college experience on a frugal foot, consider the following tips to help you save as much as you can on your college move.

Take stock of your belongings
A move is the perfect time to take stock of your possessions and really weed out what should be kept, thrown out or donated. By going through what you already have, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you need to buy.

MoneyCrashers.com writer Lainie Petersen suggests hosting a garage sale, which is a great way to drum up funds, purge your inventory and avoid packing items you don’t really want or need.

Pack with a minimalist mindset
Moving is an emotional experience, which is why it makes sense that your instinct is to take as much as you can that reminds you of home, but for the sake of efficiency, effort and reducing expenses, fight that instinct.

“One of the basic rules of moving is that the more stuff you have, the more it costs to move. Save money by packing smart. Consider your living situation and plan your belongings accordingly. If you’re living in a furnished apartment or dorm room, you probably don’t need to bring your old desk or beanbag chair,” advise the experts at DealSpotr.com.

Research what you truly need to bring by seeking advice from older students and the housing department at your college and coordinating packing responsibilities with your roommate.

Source free packing materials
Round up as many free cardboard boxes and packing materials as possible—and the sooner the better, according to Petersen. She recommends reaching out to neighbors and friends for any packing supplies they can spare while the experts at DealSpotr.com suggest asking a manager at big box stores like Wal-Mart for boxes, which are set to hit the trash or recycle bin that you can claim.

Call in the professionals
Even after you have purged and stuck to a strict packing list of essentials, you might realize you have more items than can easily and safely fit into your vehicle. If making multiple trips is not possible, you will need to seek professional help and rent a truck. Renting a truck or trailer may seem like an extraordinary expense, but you can save some money by sharing the cost of the truck or trailer rental with your roommate or friend, according to the DealSpotr.com experts. If you plan to rent a truck, they recommend shopping around early to find the best deals.

Purchase big items upon arrival
Upon arrival, you might realize the bookshelf you hauled doesn’t work in your new space. To avoid mishaps with bulky stuff, the DealSpotr.com experts recommend purchasing bigger items, like furniture or appliances, once you get to your new address.

With these tips, you’ll be able to save money and reduce anxiety on your college move.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.