MORE than Finances

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Patrick Mackaronis Explains Three Benefits of Early 401k Investing

The following is a guest post from someone experienced in both sides of the investment coin: Patrick Mackaronis. Patrick got his start as a high-stakes trader and serial entrepreneur, eventually pivoting into a powerful career as a co-founder and director of business development for social media startup Brabble in bustling New York City.

A 401k can easily make millionaires out of mere mortals. By investing small amounts in regular intervals (like a percentage of each paycheck) beginning in your early to mid 20’s, your savings can expand tax-free for 40 or more years. Sadly, a lot of people veer towards procrastination, as they find themselves focused on bills due or purchases at the forefront of their mind. As adults, we are inherently terrible at comprehending the concepts of events decades in the future. Luckily, in regards to investments, time is on your side in a big way if you start earlier.

HIGHER CONTRIBUTION AMOUNTS THROUGH THE COFFEE CONCEPT

Small impressions leave large impacts. Think of it as the Coffee Concept. The smaller, less consequential things we purchase on a regular basis over time will add up to a surprisingly large sum. Do you spend $3 on a specialty coffee every morning from your local coffee shop? Do that five times a week for 50 weeks a year for twenty years, and you’ve spent $15,000 on coffee. Instead, make 401k contributions your vice, contributing an additional amount equal to this coffee, and making your own cup at home.

You will be pleasantly surprised how these trivial amounts can add up over the years, and even more impressed at the accumulation as years turn into decades. Three dollars, compounded annually for forty years, is $135.78. The power of compound interest over time is incredible.

NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF EMPLOYER MATCH IS LIKE THROWING AWAY FREE MONEY

If I handed you $250, and told you that I would keep handing you $250 every two weeks, with the only stipulation being that you had to hide $250 of your own money every time, would you do it? If you’re making $5,000 per month before taxes and your employer has a 5% 401k match that you aren’t taking advantage of, you are literally saying no to that proposal. An alarming percentage of Americans are failing to take advantage of the concept of the employer match on 401k’s. Latest polls show that over one third of working-class professionals in the United States have nothing saved for retirement at all!

Contribution matching from your employer is as close to free money as it gets, guaranteed investment returns at 100% that skyrocket your own contributions. If you are investing early, this adds up so much over time that it can be mind-blowing. Don’t leave the offer of free cash on the table.

COMPOUND INTEREST: YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND

Want to know the secret to creating personal wealth? Its name is compound interest, and it is an investor’s best friend and secret weapon when it comes to turning money into more money. People tend to not get too excited about compound interest. This rings even more true with interest rates at all-time lows. The truth is, compound interest is the secret formula to bust through those low interest numbers into the stratosphere.

Let’s say you are saving $600 each month. That’s $7,200 in one year. But over time your money is growing as you invest it each month. Once you hit year two, an increase of five percent makes the $7,200 worth $7,560. This, in combination with continuous contributions and appreciation of capital, causes exponential growth as time passes.

INVEST EARLY TO INVEST MORE

The Coffee Concept shows how tiny savings on a regular basis leads to massive growth on a large timeline. Employer matches are literally free money being offered by your employer. And compound interest is the secret to wealth creation that is yet another bonus of investing often and investing early. If you are in your 20’s and you have not yet begun taking advantage of the benefits of 401k investment, now is the second best time to start (the best time being earlier).

Patrick Mackaronis is a veteran of the startup and investing scene in the Big Apple. He can be contacted via Twitter at @patty__mack.

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Simple Ways to Afford a Degree in Criminal Justice

Whether you want to graduate with a degree in criminal justice so that you can become a probation officer or believe that you can help troubled youth to change their lives, you need to find a way to afford your education. Financial Aid is extremely helpful to those needing help paying for school, but it isn’t available to everyone who applies. And even those who qualify for Federal Financial Aid might be disappointed to learn that there’s still thousands of dollars left due for them to pay for.

An online CJ degree program can be less expensive than taking classes at a community college and it is also much more convenient for working adults. Here are some other smart ways that you can make earning your criminal justice degree easier no matter what your background is.

Take a Light Course Load

In order to earn a bachelor’s degree, you need to take classes for approximately four years. Some people earn college degrees in three years while others might need five or six. It really doesn’t make a difference how long it takes you to get through a criminal justice degree online program so long as you are happy that your career is beginning to move forward. If the cost of tuition might hold you back, try taking a lighter course load. Taking just two or three classes a semester compared to five or more will help you to pay for college a little at a time.

Go to School Part-Time

Money might not be the primary factor that makes it difficult for you to afford completing your online CJ degree. By contrast, lots of those looking to get into the criminal justice field have jobs that already take up the bulk of their available time. Study during the summer or enroll on a part-time class schedule that lets you earn the credits you need to graduate. Slowly but surely you will get closer and closer to completing your degree and taking classes part-time will allow you to really focus on the classes that you take.

Get a Job In the Field

Some jobs are available in the criminal justice field to people who don’t have bachelor’s or associate’s degrees. The good part about working in the criminal justice field prior to graduating is that you might qualify for employer reimbursed tuition. Imagine how happy your supervisor will be to learn that you want to stay in the field as well as with your company as you go to school to become a criminal justice degree holder. You might be able to study while you’re at work and be excused to leave work early to prepare for your big exams simply because you’ll be employed in a supportive environment.

Once you get accepted to a college and decide to concentrate on criminal justice, you can etch out a plan that will help to make school completely affordable. Learn what scholarships there are that you can use to pay for all sorts of school expenses. Estimate your costs for every semester so there are no surprise costs that come up. Lastly, try to save before you go to school so that there’s a nest egg you can tap into.

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How to Pay for Your Masters of Accounting Degree

Perhaps the hardest part of staying in the education system after school is the cost of college. If you are an accounting student looking to get your masters degree in accounting, you will likely face similar problems as well. Granted, it’s not going to be as costly as getting a medical degree, for example, but it still can be quite expensive nevertheless. The good news is that there are ways in which you can help your parents by relieving the financial burdens that generally come with higher education in the US.

Scholarships and Fellowships

Find out if your college or graduate school has active scholarship programs and what are the requirements you must meet to qualify for them. As they are given out on the basis of merit, it literally pays to keep top grades! Fellowships can be offered by external organizations, which can be both public and private. Apply as early as possible because this is an extremely competitive field where numerous other students in your shoes are also trying to secure financial aid for completing their education.

Studying Online

Getting your masters accounting degree online has multiple benefits and some of them go beyond just financial advantages, but the monetary benefit is most certainly there.

  • The courses are less expensive
  • There’s no additional cost of external accommodation or regular commuting
  • You can hold a part-time job as online courses generally have flexible schedules
  • The same flexible schedule allows you to strengthen your resume even further by completing supplementary courses at the same time

The only thing to make sure is that you do your online masters degree in accounting from a reputed and affiliated institution with an updated course.

Work at the Institution

Getting a part-time job is what most students do to pay their way through college, but you may not have to look for that job further than the very institution you are studying at. Assistantship is a good way to relieve some of your financial burdens, so seek out that accountancy professor who is looking for a teaching assistant. Alternatively, you can work in other departments too, provided the opportunity is available and you qualify.

Tax Credits

You should look to take advantage of the tax credits that are applicable; for example, the federal Lifetime Learning Tax Credit will give students a tax rebate of up to $2,000 if they are eligible for it. There are other leniencies in place for students and as an aspiring accountant, you should be able to make the necessary calculations yourself.

Your Company May Pay for It

If you are already working for a company, check to see if they will pay for your higher education because they often do. It is sometimes more convenient and beneficial for an organization to offer their existing employees the education they need to perform better than hiring new untrained workers. Your degree has to be relevant to the job you are doing for the company though.

Apart from these five tips, it is wise to be mindful of the interest rates while you apply for education loans. Make use of those accounting skills and crunch the numbers until you find the best deal that you possibly can. At the end of the day, some of these things will probably not be easy to do while studying for a master’s degree, but it will be well worth it in the future.

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5 Financial Reasons to Complete a Project Management Course

Has it ever crossed your mind to enroll in a project management course? A course such as this can equip you with a wide range of practical and financial skills that could improve different aspects of your life. Below are five good financial reasons why you should consider completing an online project management course.

1. You Become a More Efficient Program Manager

If you own your own business or you’re a manager in an organization, you may need to improve your project management skills by completing a course like a masters in project and program management program. Over time, the skills and knowledge you obtain through an online MSMPP degree could save your company a lot of money and make it a much more efficient organization.

2. You Can Work While You Study

Taking a traditional classroom-based project management course means you must attend lectures in person. This can take up a lot of your time. In many cases, you may not be able to work or take part in other activities while you’re a student.

However, with an online project management course, this is not as much of an issue. You can study whenever and wherever you wish and hold down a full-time job or a part-time job at the same time, so you’ll have an income coming in while you study.

3. Your Project Management Skills Will Be in High Demands

Many of today’s businesses look for ways to improve their company and make it more efficient. Once you have graduated from a program management course, there will be many potential employers interested in what you can offer them.

This puts program management graduates in an extremely strong position because you can ask for a higher salary than you may be on already. If you already work in management, this type of qualification will enhance your resume and allow you to look for a promotion or an increase in your salary.

4. You Can Use the Skills and Knowledge You Learn in Other Areas of Your Life

The skills you develop through this a course like this can be used in other areas of your life too. For instance, you can plan your family budget, vacations, and activities that involve money in a much more efficient manner. Over the course of a year, the savings you make could be substantial and could be put to better use, instead of being wasted because you were not able to plan properly.

5. It’s More Affordable Than Traditional Project Management Courses

Like most online courses, an online project management course costs less than classroom-based alternatives. The fees are usually lower, you have fewer learning materials to purchase, and you don’t have any additional travel costs or living costs to worry about.

When you complete a project management course, you will have an extremely valuable qualification, but it can come at a cost. However, completing an online project management course will have less of an impact on your bank account and will offer the financial benefits mentioned above.

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3 Reasons You Need a Home Warranty on your Property

When you buy stuff – smartphone, cars, computers, lawn mower—they usually come with a warranty. A warranty helps you to cover the cost of repair or replacement when such devices become damaged. You can also pay an extra for an extended warranty that keeps the manufacturer or seller under obligation to fix or repair the item if it breaks down even after the regular warranty period. What many people don’t know however is that you can buy a warranty for your home.

A home warranty is simply a policy that provides coverage on the cost of fixing or replacing home appliances when they become damaged.  A home warranty is different from a home insurance in that while home insurance covers the structure of your house, the home warranty covers the appliances and systems in the house.  More so, it is somewhat compulsory to have homeowners insurance but a home warranty is optional; yet, below are three reasons you should seriously consider buying a home warranty.

  1. Save money on repairs

Repairs on home appliances and systems are usually costly; unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and home appliances have a tendency of breaking down at the most inopportune moments. A home warranty typically covers systems such as plumbing, electrical, washer and dryer, HVAC, and kitchen appliances. A home warranty saves you from having to spend money out of your pocket to repair these items when they break down.

When an item under the home warranty coverage breaks down, you call the warranty company and they’ll send someone over to fix the item. If it can’t be fixed, you can reasonably expect the home warranty company to bear the cost of replacement. ReviewHomeWarranties provides insight on companies that offer home warranties so that you can find a local provider that offers excellent coverage at fair prices.

  1. Escape the stress that comes with home ownership and maintenance

Home ownership is fun and exciting, until the hidden costs of homeownership begin to take a toll on your wallet and your emotional sanity. A homeowner spends more money, effort and time on home maintenance than a renter because there’s no other landlord or property manager to call – the buck stops at your door. Hence, homeowners could find themselves under immense stress and pressure when their home appliances breakdown and they have to navigate the maze of finding and working with contractors.

A home warranty takes the stress out of homeownership because the warranty company does the heavy lifting of keeping your home systems and appliances in top shape. You also don’t have to worry about finding the right contractor because the warranty company has established relationships with licensed technicians who will fix faulty appliances. Hence, you don’t have to spend countless hours reading reviews or worrying about whether the technician has enough insurance.

  1. A home warranty helps you sell your home at a better price

Buyers are very selective when buying real estate – they look at the structural integrity of the house, the state of systems, appliances, and fixtures, and they look at the curb appeal among other things before they decide to buy. Hence, if your home is in a state of disrepair relative to other houses in the same market, your house will probably be the last to sell, and even at a ridiculously cheaper price. A home warranty ensures that your house doesn’t fall into a state of disrepair because you didn’t have the funds or time to facilitate timely repairs when things breakdown.

More so, buyers don’t want to start spending money on fixing home appliances and systems soon after moving in – it could be very frustrating dealing with a clogged toilet barely two weeks after moving in. Buyers will be more inclined to purchase a property that has a home warranty because it offers them protection in the event that one of the home systems break down after they close the deal.