Friday, November 3, 2017

Should You Rent an Apartment or Live at Home After Graduation?

When you first graduate college, you might not know where to go next. Some people are lucky and can line up a job and a quality living situation shortly after graduation, but many others are faced with the decision of either scraping by and living paycheck to paycheck in order to afford an apartment or moving back in with their parents, which helps them save money, but also means sacrificing their freedom. It’s a difficult decision for anyone and there are pros and cons to each scenario.
Getting an apartment

  • Cost – No matter what city you live in, an apartment is going to cost a significant amount of money per month. You’ll be paying rent, utilities, purchasing your own food, and buying furniture. For someone just beginning their career, these costs can take a significant amount of your paycheck each month.
  • Lease – Leases often come with a lot of rules you must follow and some of them may seem a little ridiculous. You’re also often locked into a lease for a least a year, which means you need to stay in one place and consistently pay rent each month. If you find a better opportunity elsewhere, it can be difficult to just leave.
  • People – You’re likely going to be living with roommates or have very close neighbors. Unless you know all these people extremely well, they could be completely unpleasant to live around. You also run the risk of having a difficult landlord.

  • Privacy – The biggest pro of having an apartment is the amount of privacy and independence you’ll have, especially if you live alone. Living with your parents seriously limits your privacy and ability to do what you want; parents often find it difficult to accept you never being home and staying out late and your dating life can get pretty complicated.
  • Social life – Living in your own apartment in a city makes it much easier to make connections with your coworkers or other people living there. You have a place to hang out and it’s easier to attend networking events.
Moving home

  • Privacy – Naturally, unless your parents have an attached apartment or are rarely home, your privacy suffers when you move back home. It’s difficult to host anything at your house and it’s pretty awkward if you want to bring a date home. In college, you did your own thing whenever you wanted, but now your parents will probably question your decision to watch Netflix until 2am while eating mac and cheese.
  • Personal growth – Living alone is the best time to learn more about yourself and fully transition into being an independent adult. If you’re living at home, not worrying much about your finances, rarely buying and making your own food, and not having to clean or do much laundry, it’s likely you still feel like a child. In order to grow, you need to be on your own.

  • Cost – The biggest pro, and really the main reason anyone moves back in with their parents, is the cost. Depending how long you live at home, you’ll save thousands of dollars. If your home is close enough to a decent job, you’ll have the benefit of work and avoid the financial stress of an apartment. Even if you do pay your parents some rent or contribute to household costs, you’re going to save a lot of money that’ll help you pay off your debts or save for a house, grad school, or something else. Once you do move out, you’ll be on better financial footing than many of your peers.
  • Give back – Another pro not many people discuss is that living at home allows you to give back to your parents for all the years they took care of you. If you contribute to household expenses and help out at home, you save them that stress. If they’re getting older, you can also help care for them or other older family members. Family is important and strengthening those bonds is fantastic.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Importance of Budgeting, No Matter Your Age

No matter where you are in life, you can benefit from an evaluation of your finances. Even if you’re financially stable, there’s a definite benefit in setting up some type of budget. You never know when your circumstances may change or if you might suddenly want to use extra money toward an emergency or to splurge on something. Budgeting helps you keep track of how you spend your money and make sure you aren’t wasting it on anything unnecessary. With budgeting, you’ll gain greater control over your life and be able to prioritize your spending.
You could lose your job
I’ll start with the worst case scenario; you could be financially stable and not have to worry about money, but then you (or a spouse) could suddenly lose your job and realize that you have to make do with a lot less money. With budgeting, you understand how to live within your means and you’ve had time to save up extra money. Avoiding overspending helps discipline you, especially if money is scarce at times.
You can save up for big purchases
The better you budget, the more money you’ll have to save up (if you have expendable income that’s not going toward living expenses or debt). Avoiding overspending allows you to save money for larger purchases, like a vacation, a house, or even simply your future. After creating a budget, if you find that you have extra money, consider putting as much as you can toward a retirement fund if you don’t already have one.
You can quickly pay off debt
As you cut out overspending, you can put extra money toward debt. While you should also regularly be saving money, it’s almost equally important to pay off your debt as fast as possible. If you find that you have extra money, consider paying more on your debt each month. You’ll save interest and also have that many less payments to worry about.
You figure out what’s most important
When you start examining your budget and decide where to cut costs, you begin to realize what’s important and where you can avoid spending money. Maybe you have monthly subscriptions for services or products you rarely use. Maybe there’s another service you could use that would cost less. You might spend considerably more than you realize. It’s important to take an honest look at your spending habits and evaluate what matters most. This step allows you to stop wasting money and actually put it toward what matters.
You have more control
Maybe it doesn’t feel like it or maybe you feel overwhelmed by monetary concerns, but once you start budgeting, you’ll feel like you have more control over your life. Being financially stable frees you up to make decisions instead of always feeling like you have to worry about bills or when you’ll get your next paycheck. Gaining control over your finances leaves you feeling much more confident and reassured.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Balancing Risks vs. Rewards Regarding Alternative Energy

Every election year, alternative energy becomes a key topic in debates and candidate platforms; however, unlike some may think, alternative energy is a topic that should be discussed year round. The term, alternative energy, is used for an energy source that is different from fossil fuels. Typically, those sources are non-traditional and have low environmental impact. Most agree that alternative energy doesn’t harm the environment, which is the key distinction between alternative energy and renewable energy.
When it comes to alternative energy sources, solar energy is one of the frontrunners for providing a clean, renewable source of energy for Earth. To clarify for those who are unfamiliar, solar energy is energy emitted by the sun in the form of light that is then absorbed by special panels that convert the light into thermal or electrical energy.
Formerly, solar energy was the most expensive form of alternative energy under consideration; however, the prices of solar panels have significantly dropped in the last several years due to companies like Tesla working round the clock to make them more affordable.
To get an idea of the risks of solar energy and investing in it, take a look at the top 2 disadvantages of this alternative energy.
#1. High Initial Costs
This is first on this list of solar energy cons because it is the first problem run into when using this energy source. Most investors agree that the larger upfront investment is the biggest downside to this source of energy.
While solar panels can be a great option for single-family homes, the highest quality panels can cost more than $1,000 each. Plus it typically takes more than one to power the home. However, the lifespan of a panel is about 20-25 years, so when compared with the prices of a traditional energy source over the span of 20 years, the results are going to be staggeringly in favor of the panels.
#2: Solar is Intermittent
One of the largest concerns about solar energy is the nighttime or days of heavy overcast. During those times, the energy absorbed is significantly decreased. There is a solution: energy storage. Like most things though, it comes at a fairly high price. This issue should soon be a thing of the past, as countries, such as Germany, are working to develop solutions to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
There are far more advantages to solar power as an alternative energy source than there are disadvantages. Of course, there are the obvious advantages, such as renewability and sustainability, but what about the lesser known ones? Take a look at the top advantages of solar energy.
#1 Greenhouse Emissions
The process of taking light and creating electrical power produces zero greenhouse emissions. Although the manufacturing part of the process may be associated with slight emissions, it is severely insignificant in comparison to other energy sources in use today.
#2 Low Maintenance
Especially in comparison to other energy sources, such as nuclear, solar energy has remarkably low maintenance requirements. Most residential panels require cleaning once or twice a year. While the upfront costs can seem like a lot at first, the particularly long life-span as well as little to no maintenance balance the investment.
When it comes to the energy of the future, solar certainly looks to be a promising alternative energy source with minimal disadvantages.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

6 Tips for Preparing for the Job Hunt After Graduation

Graduating college is a joyful, but also daunting time. You’re ready to take a break from constant homework and stress, but you’ll miss your friends. You want to start being an adult, but you might also not really know how to. Often, the most stressful part of the end of college is finding a job. You know you need to have some kind of job, ideally one that pays all the bills and allows you to rent an apartment, travel, and do fun stuff with friends. Maybe your first job isn’t the best, but you need to start somewhere. For many, the job after graduation is the first professional, full-time job they’ll have. Instead of feeling nervous about finding a new job, follow these tips in order to make job hunting easier.

Be realistic
When you first begin searching for a job, you might feel excited and optimistic. You’ll want to retain this feeling for as long as possible, so it’s important that you don’t go into your search thinking you’ll land the perfect job in the perfect place right away. No job is perfect and you’ll need to build your way up from an entry level position. For some people, this isn’t that path the follow and they do get a fantastic job right away, so don’t completely lose hope. However, there’s also nothing wrong with getting an entry-level job. You need to work and you can make the most of it.
Searching for a job is like a full-time job. You need to constantly check job sites and company pages to look for openings, fill out applications, exchange emails, and schedule interviews. If you’re waiting to hear back from an interview, keep applying at other places! Even if it’s taking longer than you anticipated, stay focused on finding a job.
Update your resume
A mistake many people make is never updating their resume and then sending the same copy to dozens of potential employers. Before applying to any jobs, update your resume. Include internships, volunteer experience, and jobs you had in college. Then, feature the most pertinent information depending on what job you apply for, such as relevant classes or volunteer work.
Create an online presence
Employers love to see that you have some kind of professional, online presence. Do a purge of your social media and get rid of any posts that you wouldn’t want your boss to see, then make your accounts private, unless you want to use them for professional purposes. Create a LinkedIn account if you don’t already have one and consider creating a website to feature some professional blogs you write while job searching.
Most professionals will tell you about the incredible power of networking. Always take advantage of opportunities to build your network and meet new people. You never know who might have a connection that could turn into a future job or some other great opportunity. Make sure to take advantage of any career services your college offers or the alumni network.
Enhance your skills
While you’re searching for a job, you’ll have some free time. Spend this time productively. Consider volunteering and working a part-time job, but also make sure you enhance your marketable skills. Learn something useful, such as some coding or educate yourself on a specific topic by reading and keeping up with industry news.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Are Investing Apps Really Beneficial?

Lately, there’s been a rise of apps offered to help you manage your personal finances. There are various types of apps and options to choose from. Whether you merely want to work on budgeting, keep track of your credit score, or begin investing, you have plenty of apps  to check out. However, many people question whether or not these apps are actually worth it, especially investing apps. Is your information secure? Are you wasting money? Will you see any kind of return? I’d like to examine whether or not investing apps actually benefit the user.
The concerns about them
One of the main issues surrounding investment apps is the security of them. When you create an investment portfolio with a recognized bank or investment company, you must go through layers of security every time you want to do anything, even if it’s simply transferring money into an account. With investment apps, it doesn’t seem as though there’s as much security. Many people are also wary of putting their information online, so creating a new account with an app seems like the perfect way to have your account information compromised. While this concern is completely understandable, all of the popular investment apps have layers of cybersecurity, very similar to that of a banking website. Many apps also guarantee insurance for accounts up to a hundred thousand dollars, so if you’re below that number, you’d still be able to recover all of your money.
Another concern is whether or not the apps are worth the cost. Some of them charge high trading fees or have regular monthly fees, which can seem like a waste of money, especially when you’re trying to grow your wealth. The answer to this issue is a little murkier than the last. While you should certainly be investing your money in some way, it’s up to you what app you choose. Research the fees associated with each app and learn what different keywords mean, such as how much the app charges per trade. Decide how much you’ll be planning on investing into these accounts and whether or not regular fees are worth it.
Benefits of investing apps
One of the greatest benefits of investing apps is how most of them are designed for beginners to use. Many people do not have the first clue about investing and the best practices for it, so these apps have been designed with this issue in mind. Most investing apps are relatively simple to use once you take some time to play around with them. Some even offer blogs and other tips to help you with investment decisions. Still others offer you direct assistance from a financial advisor.
Another great benefit of investment apps is that you can open an account with relatively small amounts of money. You can start investing spare change or a few dollars and grow your portfolio. For younger investors, this feature is great, especially since many traditional investment companies require you to have a minimum of a few thousand dollars to invest upfront.
How to make them work for you
Finally, if you decide you do want to get into the world of investing and an app on your phone is the best option for you, there are ways to make sure you make the most of it. The best thing you can do is take your time and research the various apps. Check out blogs that focus on investing, financial advice, and financial apps to see what expert opinions are on the different apps and decide which one best fits your needs.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How to Teach Yourself About Investing

Far too many people are unaware of the basics of investing, even though it’s one of the best ways to build your wealth. Public schools do not teach anything about it and if you go to college, you really only learn about investing if you take business or finance courses. This lack of knowledge leads to people shying away from investing and relying on a steady and reliable source of income. They often view the stock market as a way to simply lose money, especially if they lack basic knowledge about investing. This viewpoint is completely understandable, but not one you should subscribe to. If you know nothing about investing, it’s never too late to learn! Here are some ways you can teach yourself more about investing and get ready to start a portfolio of your own!
Take a look at your finances
The first step you’ll need to take is examining your finances and determining how much money you want to put into investments. If you’re heavily in debt or have no savings, you should take care of those issues before attempting to invest large amounts of money. Get an accurate picture of your finances so you know how much you have available to invest.
Learn the basics
When you first begin looking at everything that goes into the markets and investing, it can feel overwhelming. People spend years trying to learn the secret to investment success. Instead of feeling intimidated by these approaches, simply start by learning the basics of investing. Learn what different terms mean and how creating an investment portfolio works. But, don’t take too long; the sooner you begin investing, the better!
Check out online resources
After you feel like you have a basic understanding of investing, it’s time to start learning about the different approaches people take and cultivate a deeper understanding of the market. A great place to look is online, because there’s a seemingly endless amount of online resources, such as ebooks, blogs, podcasts, and many websites that offer expert advice. Check out the credentials of a source before believing everything you read, but most information on investing can be useful, even to just teach you what not to do.
Find experienced people
You might know someone who’s a financial advisor or who spends a lot of time following the market and knows about investing. These are the people you should talk to. Even if you don’t personally know anyone like this, you can certainly find a forum or website where you can chat with someone who can give you actual advice about investing.
Set your goals
Before you actually start investing, take a bit of time to set your individual goals. How much money do you want to invest? Why are you investing? What return do you hope to see? People invest for different reasons, not simply to generate wealth. Once you’ve decided what your individual goals are, you can start investing.
Start small
As you begin your journey as an investor, remember to first start small. You definitely shouldn’t take your entire savings account and invest in high risk stocks; use a smaller, manageable amount first and invest smart. Research the best types of stocks and start out with moderate risk.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Importance of Risk When It Comes to Finance

Risk is involved in every aspect of life. The risk of taking your first steps is falling; the risk of asking a person on a date is rejection; the risk of interviewing for a job is failure; the risk of parallel parking is hitting another vehicle. So, it is guaranteed that creating a business or investing in something financially, as well as physically, involves considerable risk.
What is risk? According to Google, risk is the possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen. However, according to the business dictionary, risk is a probability of damage, liability, loss, or any other negative occurrence that is caused externally.
From a finance point of view, risk is the probability that an investment’s return will be less than expected. However, risk also offers the chance of reward. For example, a reward could be an increased return compared to a lower expectation. Financial risk is comprised of multiple categories: basic risk, capital risk, delivery risk, exchange risk, interest rate risk, political risk, settlement risk, underwriting risk, and much more.
Examining financial risk includes looking at daily finance operations, such as cash flow, transactions made by the business, and the business’ financial systems set in place. You may consider things like which clients owe the company, how the company plans to retrieve the money, insurance, and its coverage, as well as whether the business can extend credit to customers and how.
When calculating financial risk, external factors like interest rates and foreign exchange rates should be considered. Those factors can affect company competitiveness with services produced abroad; changes in interest rates and exchange rates can immediately affect debt repayments.
All businesses should extensively discuss risk management within the business’ strategic management. Doing so allows the company to identify and tackle any risks before they become an issue, which will in turn aid the chances of reaching defined business goals.
Once the risks have been pinpointed, there are several ways to address them: accept it, transfer it, reduce it, and eliminate it. Acceptance of a risk might happen if the costs are too high to handle it in any other way. The risk could be dealt with by transferring, which typically takes place with the company insurance. Reducing a risk is merely introducing safety measures to keep the risks from occurring, and eliminating the risk could be something like changing the production process. Once the risks have been determined and the type of management has been decided, take steps to put the measures into place.
Risk management is not a one time kind of deal; it requires consistent monitoring and should often be reviewed to ensure the management approach is successful. Set the plan in stone by creating a risk management policy that will identify the company’s approach to risk, and it’s management. The CEO’s and the board should all be on the same page before moving to the management policy phase.
All choices in life and business involve risk to some extent. By understanding what risk is and how to manage it, business and employees are more likely to meet their financial goals.