Secure Your Financial Future by Choosing the Right Career

It is quite noticeable that it almost always seems as if bad news is passed around much more quickly than good news. Unfortunately, this is also true when it comes to the actual condition of several different business sectors. The public as a whole has been pretty much led to believe that the economy has put the job market at a standstill. This is most certainly far from the truth. As a matter of fact, there are several different high paying career sectors that are open to those that have obtained the proper skills and training.

Financial Advisor

After only four years of experience, individuals in this career sector generally earn $93,900 annually. One of the most appealing aspects about this particular position is the high ceiling on income possibilities. As a person’s level of expertise expands, so does their annual income. The continued need for professional advice on finances, taxes, estate matters, investment and estate advice is expected to only become greater.

Electrical Engineer

After only four years of experience, individuals in the electrical engineering field generally earn $84,700 annually. While this may initially be a competitive sector of the workforce, just a couple years’ experience working in this field can successfully increase job opportunities. Areas of specialty within this career sector include equipment manufacturing, power systems and building design. Important elements of each of these areas are to consistently stay focused on quality, the economy, sustainability, reliability and safety.

Software Developer

After only four years of experience, individuals in this particular career sector generally earn $82,400 annually. Large businesses such as Google and Facebook have a high demand for professional experts in this career field. Required knowledge and skills necessary for positions like this include analytical skills, high levels of communication and creative problem solving.

Manufacturing Engineer

After only five years of experience, individuals in this career sector generally earn as much as $73,900 on an annual basis. It is of huge benefit for experts in this career field to have a thorough knowledge of logistics and the international marketplace. Areas of specialty experts in this position have the knowledge required to refine specific products design, lower company expenses, increase production and reduce competition.

Mechanical Engineer

After only three years of experience, individuals that have chosen this career sector generally reach an annual income of $73,200. This particular sector of engineering is one of the highest in demand and it is also one that provides the broadest range. There is a wide range of specialized experience in both mathematics and science that is required of mechanical engineers for the planning and designing of machines, engines and tools.

Project Engineer

After just three years of experience, a person in this career field has the ability to earn as much as $69,200 annually. Individuals in this career field are responsible for the planning, designing and overseeing all elements involved in the maintenance of facilities and building structures.

Construction Estimator

After only four years of experience in this career field, a person can make as much as $67,400 on an annual basis. They have the skill and knowledge required to create a cost estimate for building companies. This includes elements that involve building materials, location, labor and timelines of the project.

6 Tips to Ensure Your Retirement Is Secure

Almost anything in life will go a lot smoother and goals will be reached a lot easier if an adequate amount of time is set aside for planning. This is also true when it comes to the retirement years and taking the steps to make certain a person’s financial condition will remain solid. To enjoy a secure retirement, it is wise to consider the following 6 tips.

  1. Make the determination of what your assets and net worth are – Every asset, whether it be financial or non-financial, should be added up. Assets include businesses that are self-owned, homes and everything else that a person’s owns. It is also important to make a tally of everything that is owed.

    A large amount of consideration should be put into ways that income can be created. This can be from selling or renting a home, moving in with other family members, renting rooms out, a home-equity loan or a reverse mortgage.

    Another important step is to convert assets into income and streams of income must also be changed into assets. It can be helpful to remember that you will benefit from income coming in each month simply by changing assets into income. This is essential for benefitting from secure savings for retirement.

  1. Make sure insurance policies are in order – Determine the policies that you already have and make a determination of those you will need to get. These include life, health, auto, disability and homeowners insurance. Long-term care insurance is another policy that should also be considered, as we all know the need for this type of insurance often becomes essential as a person ages.

    Life insurance policies are important to ensure the surviving spouse will be taken care of in the event that death occurs. The surviving spouse can use this money for income or it can be used for bequests.

  1. Compare retirement income with anticipated expenses – It is important to keep in mind that income needs can change throughout the retirement years. Not only should the minimum amount of income needed for retirement be considered but you will also want to consider the cost of extras. The difference in income requirements for essentials like insurance policies, food and housing can change drastically when things like discretionary expenses are figured in. In many cases, discretionary expenses for things like traveling will often need to be revised when guaranteed sources of income are used to plan for retirement.
  1. Compare total assets to needed retirement funds – This is a process that frequently takes a lot of revising. There are many different factors that are used to determine the current value of expenses. This should include things like inflation rates, date of expected retirement, life expectancy and investment returns after-taxes. When it is evident adjustments need to be made there are many things that can be considered. Part-time work may be required, expenses may need to be adjusted or the expected retirement date may need to be delayed.
  1. Investments – While making investments can be extremely beneficial for the retirement years, it is important to only invest in items that are not much greater than the risk tolerance.
  1. Stay current with your plan – Health care needs, investment returns and many other elements can change drastically in just a year’s time. For this reason, a retirement plan should be reviewed on a regular basis and kept current.

The 2 Easiest Ways to Save a lot of Money on Gas

This trick (although very obvious) seems to be rarely used.

Where I live, the average price of gas is $3.29 per gallon, but I’m allowed to get it for $3.01 (even though the cheaper station is $3.17). That’s $0.28 savings per gallon over the average. And, I pay a lot less than even the most diligent shoppers.

1) Lowering your price per gallon by $0.28

Here’s what I do:

1) Go to Gasbuddy.com. Find the cheapest station. This allows me to save approximately $0.12/gallon on average.

The average price was $3.29 (rounding down).
A cheaper station was $3.17.

2) Get a credit card or a debit card with cash back rewards. Even my debit card (from Wells Fargo) allows me to charge it as “credit” and get cash back for all purchases (you’ll have to ask your banking representative to see if this would be an option for you). My American Express credit card gives me 5% cash back on all gas purchases. This gives me the extra $0.16 per gallon savings.

My total savings from just this simple trick is $0.28 per gallon.

2) Driving smart to use less gas

Carpool — This is well-known, but it works. With two people, you essentially cut your cost in half.

Drafting — I had a friend in high school that claimed he could turn off his Volkswagen Bug while drafting behind a semi-truck. He said his car would continue to just cruise the same speed as the truck in front of him because his car was so light and drafting caused a “suction” to keep his car moving. I cannot vouch and say drafting works this well, but it does help according to the popular TV show, Mythbusters. However, if done too closely to another vehicle, you will drive unsafely and likely not save much. Constant acceleration and deceleration causes a loss in gas mileage.

Car maintenance — Proper upkeep helps a lot. Here’s a few things: replace your air-filter, engine tuneups, proper air pressure in tires, etc.

Drive in an intelligent manner — Constant acceleration and deceleration hurts gas mileage significantly. This has been proven been. Also, driving at 55 mph rather than 65 mph can improve your fuel economy by two miles per gallon (reported by Bankrate).

There you have it. These are proven ways to cut your cost of driving. If you have any other ideas that work for you, comment below.

Budgeting on a Low Income

There are quite a few people who stress over how they’re going to pay the bills or even their mortgage payment each month. In a majority of situations like this, money problems arise due to a lack of budgeting. A better financial standing is obtainable, even for those that depend on low levels of income. Below are essential steps that everyone should consider, even those that depend on low income levels.

  1. Consider other income sources – When the current budget is impossible to balance, it would be a good idea to consider other sources of income. If earning overtime is not an option, it may be time to look at a job that pays more or locate a second job.
  1. Request extensions – If the mortgage payment and timing of all the household bills have hit all at once, it is possible to ask for extensions. Most all utility companies will work with existing customers on the balance owed with an extension. By extending the date these bills are due, it makes it much easier to pay rent and mortgage payments on time.
  1. Obtain stability before saving – While every person would like to stash money in a savings account, this is not feasible in all situations. It is more important to first create a workable budget that will successfully decrease debt. Once debt begins to decrease, then it’s time to start focusing on savings.
  1. Negotiate rates on credit cards whenever possible – Most people are unaware that some credit card companies will negotiate a lower interest rate, especially for customers with good credit. This is a move that can make it much easier to plan a budget that will work. When companies refuse to negotiate lower rates, switching balances to credit cards with lower rates is also a wise decision.
  1. Bill priority – Prioritizing monthly bills is an extremely important element required for successful budgeting. Bills that must be paid immediately should be listed on the budget first. Payment schedules for all other bills can then be planned according to remaining paydays.
  1. Review spending habits – Reviewing a history of spending can be very helpful when budgeting on a low income. This makes it easy for a person to know exactly where adjustments may need to be made.
  1. Eliminate expenses that are not necessary – When excess spending is noticed in specific areas, it is important to eliminate these expenses. The extra money that is saved can then be used towards bills, debts or through the month so money isn’t so tight.
  1. Journal spending – Journaling can be a huge benefit to those that have trouble sticking to a budget. This is done by simply making notes of every dime that is spent all throughout the month. This is a step that is often easier when money spent is broken down into categories.
  1. Spending adjustments – Many people find after journaling their spending for once month that minor adjustments need to be made to their budget. It is important to make sure basics are included.

By following these simple steps, people who are on the smallest of incomes will soon find that budgeting is possible and one of the best ways to keep finances on track.

Personal Finance and Preventing Identity Theft – 5 Simple Steps

While identity theft is a real problem that everyone should be alert to, it is a problem that has definitely been over-hyped by specific companies that are trying to sell a particular service. Rather than spending a large amount of money to protect your identity, consider the following 8 steps:

  1. Don’t get scared, get serious – Many of the horror stories that most people have heard make people think that identity theft is something that happens to countless people every single day. In actuality, there are less than 1% of U.S. families that run into this problem. To lay another myth to rest that it can take months to solve, the problems that do occur can generally be fixed within a few short weeks. When it comes to identity theft, a majority of problems occur when a credit card or checks have been stolen, not from a person’s entire identity being taken. Another thing to keep in mind is it’s usually the banks and issuers of the credit cards that are liable for the loss that occurs. The best way to stay protected from identity theft is to take the steps necessary to keep your credit cards, checks and important papers safely away from hands they shouldn’t be in.
  1. Take advantage of security freezes and fraud alerts – A security freeze can make it impossible for anyone to access your credit report, except for those that you already have a business relationship with. In the event someone has stolen your identity and they are trying to obtain new credit, it is unlikely they will succeed since lenders will be unable to view your credit report. Security freezes are essential when identity theft is suspected.
  1. Keep electronic devices secure at all times – There are numerous electronics devices that many people use on a regular basis for numerous business and financial matters. When using computer systems, flash drives, iPads and smart phones, it is essential to learn the steps needed to make certain the data on these devices remains protected. Aside from using passwords that contain both upper and lower case letters, you should also use numbers and other symbols as well. When personal and banking information is kept on devices like this, it is also recommended to use an encryption program.
  1. An ID theft file is important – The theft of your identity could be disastrous if you do not take the steps required to create an ID theft file. This is simply a folder that you set up on your computer system that contains important data and documents. It is however a must to make sure this file is kept in a safe and secure place at all times. Some items to keep in this folder include annual privacy notices, credit reports, security-breach notices, security-freeze passwords and documents and any evidence that pertains to suspected identity theft. Other items that should be stores in this file include club memberships and photocopies of credit cards and your drivers’ license.
  1. Regularly check your credit report for errors – It is not uncommon for unsuspected errors to appear on a person’s credit report. This is something that you will want to check for often and fix any errors you come across as quickly as possible.

5 Debit Card Pitfalls You’ll Want to Pay Attention to

For a lot of people, debit cards are a lot safer to use than credit cards, as the risk for watching debt climb higher and higher is eliminated. However, there are several different pitfalls that can occur with debit cards that can cause a large amount of financial distress. Below you’ll find 5 pitfalls that you will want to watch for when debit cards are frequently used.

  1. Steer clear of the overdraft fee trap – There are numerous people who have ended up paying tons of money in overdraft fees from purchases made on debit cards. A majority of the time it is consumers that already struggle to stay afloat. When overdraft fees are charged to a banking account, it can quickly end up in a vicious cycle that is hard to get out of.
  1. Keep the calendar in sight – To avoid problems that small transactions made on a debit card can create, it is much better to pay close attention to dates for paycheck deposits. While a few bucks here and a few bucks there may not seem like much, it can quickly turn into over $100 when you consider all the fees for these transactions are tacked onto the account. If you’re running tight towards the end of the month, consider calling utility companies to set the due date off a week or so.
  1. Be mindful of holds – Many people are unaware that companies like gas stations, rental car companies and hotels tend to put holds on debit cards that are used for an amount that is larger than the actual transaction. This can turn into a frustrating situation in a hurry when you are limited on funds to begin with.
  1. Always pay attention to activity on your account – It can be difficult to know about all the activity that is occurring with a bank account when there are numerous transactions being made and especially when it is a joint account. In order to make certain fraud charges on an account will be noticed immediately, it is essential that partners of joint accounts stay in constant communication. This is due to the fact that there is often a specific time frame that fraud charges can be reported and covered by your bank.
  1. Use cash instead of debit cards whenever possible – There are many people who find it to be way too easy to throw their debit card onto a merchant’s counter when they’ve made a purchase. When debit cards are used frequently, it can be a habit that takes a little time to break. In many situations when these cards are used on a regular basis, families find their checking account to have a zero balance before the month is even up. Although each purchase they make may be just a couple bucks, when numerous transactions are added together it ends up being a lot more money than they intended on spending throughout the month. It is much safer to treat debit cards as if they are the same as credit cards and use cash for items needed during the month.

Motorola Droid RAZR Costs $100 More Than the iPhone 4S?

The highly anticipated Motorola Droid RAZR has been released. Some critics wonder why the high price tag. It starts at $299 for the cheapest model–which is $100 more the base model of the iPhone 4S. Is it worth the extra money?

Many critics pointed out what they consider cons:

1) Cost

2) It overheats and slows performance

3) Battery life was low

Here are two reviews:

  • TechCrunch – Claims that the Motorola Droid RAZR is still far from what they wanted in a Droid.
  • Gizmodo – A nearly perfect review of this new Motorola.

Obtaining Credit Card Rewards – 5 Tips Worth Remembering

Even though there are some credit card companies that have made it quite a bit harder for a person to earn reward points for purchases made on credit cards, there are some great ways to boost credit card rewards. By making sure to follow the 5 great tips below, it will make it much easier to obtain reward points on credit cards you’ve obtained.

  1. Obtain credit cards from stores that are visited frequently – A lot of people have found that the rewards given by particular retailers is often much better than those provided by other stores. With some credit cards that are co-branded, reward points as high as 1.8 can be earned. Amazon.com has a rewards Visa card that offers up to two points on purchases of everyday items and they give three points on items that are purchased at the Amazon website.
  1. Get rewards you have earned in cash – There are as many as 61% of credit card owners that obtain rewards they receive on their cards by transferring the points they’ve earned into spending money. You will find that a lot of issuing companies have changed their rewards programs to categories that rotate. While in the first quarter gas purchases may provide rewards, the second quarter may provide rewards on grocery purchases.
  1. Purchase gift cards – Gift cards can be beneficial when your only option is to swap points for catalog merchandise. This is also a step that helps to keep a person from spending money on items that are not needed.
  1. Obtain a flexible card for acquiring travel points – There are three main problems that a lot of people notice with many programs for travel rewards. A lot of these programs have specific dates blocked out, which can make it difficult to redeem points. A lack of seating for individuals that would like to cash in rewards for travel is another major issue that people often run into. Another big problem is being required to pay fees when cashing in travel rewards. To avoid these issues, choose a flexible card that allows you to earn points from several different hotels and airlines.
  1. Reach your financial goals by using reward points – It can be extremely beneficial to take advantage of credit cards that make deposits on cash back rewards right into your investment, savings account or 529 college funds. One of the advantages of cards like this is the deposits are made automatically.

While it may not be drastic purchases that can be made with reward points, every little bit helps. Having the ability to earn gift cards, real cash, travel or merchandise with the rewards points from purchases made on credit cards remains to be a compelling idea that many people find hard to pass up.

The points that can be earned can differ a great deal from one issuing company to another. For this reason, it is important to take the time to research various companies and the rewards packages that they offer.

5 Effective Ways to Boost Savings

Almost every person who has the goal of saving as much money as possible is or should be open to reading about helpful and easy ways to increase the amount of money they can save. Below, you will find 5 effective ways to give a well-deserved boost to savings.

  1. Link rewards such as cash backs to savings accounts – The money earned in savings through cash back rewards can result in huge boosts with men and women who are accustomed to spending big. Things like Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card as well as certain prepaid cash debit rewards have the potential of earning large amounts of money. Every day, buyers can earn as much as 10% of purchases with a lot of prepaid cash debit rewards programs. As much as 2% of purchases are provided to customers who use the rewards program of the American Express card.
  1. Saving incentives – There are many banks offering a fantastic program that quickly builds up money earned in a savings account. This is a program that rounds up the total on purchases to the nearest dollar. The extra money is then deposited into the person’s savings account. There are many banks that will also match savings on these programs in amounts up to $250 on the first three months.
  1. Social networking advantages – There are several benefits provided to teenagers through various sites that provide social networking. Some of them even give parents the ability to match deposits made on savings accounts. Sites like this make it much easier for teens to learn the aspects of finances, create goals for savings and organize their purchases. Another benefit of some social networking sites is money being saved can earn as much as 1.35 percent.
  1. Credit card savings accounts – Earning money on balances that are held in savings accounts has never been easier or more beneficial. Credit card companies are now making it possible for people to earn as much as 1.15 percent on balances saved in these online accounts.
  1. Thinking big can earn more money – Most people are aware that larger amounts of money being held in savings accounts will naturally earn a much higher rate than smaller amounts. As a matter of fact, the difference that can be earned is often as much as 4 times higher. This is however a benefit that most people are not able to take advantage of. This is simply because higher rates are not generally provided except on deposits of $25,000 and higher.

While each of these may not seem like they would be able to earn much money when used alone, money saved from a combination of all of these can add up to be quite a large amount. By taking the time to do a little investigating online, families find that there are several different opportunities for finding higher rates and incentives. In some cases, families can double the amount of money that their savings accounts earn by choosing to stash their cash away in more than one account.

5 Ways to Generate the Cash Needed for a Mortgage Loan Down Payment

You will find that recent studies show a decline in the mortgage rates that are being placed on a vast majority of homes for sale all around the country. However, it is becoming harder and harder for home-buyers and especially those buying a home for the first time, to successfully save enough money to actually purchase a home for their family. The main reason for this is simply because credit unions, banks and other lending institutions are requiring as much as a 15% down payment before mortgage loans are approved. This can be literally impossible for individuals and families to come up with this large amount of money at one time.

If this is the type of situation that happens to describe the situation you are in, you will want to take a close look at the 5 steps listed below. These options can provide home-buyers with some of the best techniques for effectively building personal finances.

  1. Consider a second job – Saving money is always an easier undertaking when the amount of your monthly income is increased. Even though the employment rate has decreased over the past few years, there are still several different freelance jobs to be found in just about any small or large city.

  1. Consider using your 401(k) – There is a large amount of thought that should go into making this type of decision. This is an option that should only be considered when all other options have already been completely exhausted. One of the stipulations of withdrawing cash from a 401(k) fund is there must be a financial hardship that is proven before it will be approved. In a lot of situations this is the only option that provides families with the down payment on a mortgage loan.

  1. Investigate state programs that may be available – Although there are certain requirements that may need to be met, each state offer a varying range of local housing finance agencies that can provide assistance. To list a few of the services that they often provide would include subsidized home loans, grants and other types of programs. Some states even have programs that supply first and second home loans that are federally insured. This is an option that can be of great help, as the second mortgage gives families a way to pay the often large amount of money needed for the closing costs and down payment for the loan.

  1. Open a savings account – This is an option that can be beneficial regardless of the reason a person would like to improve their financial status. As the balance that is held in the account grows, so will the amount of cash that is received from interest earned on the account.

  1. See if you qualify for any FHA programs – Home-buyers are often able to obtain a mortgage loan quite a bit easier when the lender is insured by the FHA. Mortgages that are backed by the FHA can often be acquired by buyers that are qualified for only about 3.5 percent down.