personal finance – Ecologic America

How to build your savings

More Americans have bank accounts than ever before but that doesn’t necessarily indicate a higher savings rate than in years past. In fact, household savings rates are hovering at only about 1/3

How to Create an Effective Budget

If you read the headlines, you might not be sure what to believe. Many news blurbs indicate that saving and checking balances are at highs when compared to recent years. Others tell the story of the nearly

How Student Loans Work

Whether you’re in school, planning for college, or are a parent of a college-bound student, it’s important to understand your options for paying for college. The cost of higher education has been rising

Do you have an emergency fund?

Growing your savings and having a dedicated emergency fund, in particular, can have a huge cumulative effect on your lifestyle and on your long-term quality of life. As we get older, life’s truisms tend

Things to Consider Before Renting an Apartment

There are times in life when renting is the best choice and while renting can be less troublesome than owning a home, there are some important considerations before signing the bottom line. Not every space

How Does a Mortgage Work?

Most of us start our credit journey with credit cards or car loans before attempting to climb the Mt. Everest of loans, a home mortgage. Mortgage rates tend to be lower than the interest rates for other

How to Build Credit When You Have None

It seems like the original Catch 22: You need a credit history to get credit but you can’t build a credit history until you’re approved for credit. This modern-day financial conundrum isn’t as insolvable

How Many Credit Cards Do You Need?

Credit cards can be a great convenience but if you carry a balance, they can potentially cost you thousands of dollars in interest expenses and fees. Opening or closing credit card accounts can have a

The Personal Insurance Guide for Beginners

Insurance has become an essential part of modern financial life. If you own a car or a motorcycle, your state requires that you carry insurance. Mortgage companies require homeowners insurance. Many landlords

Should I Choose Term Life Insurance or Permanent Life and How Much?

Life insurance can play many roles in financial planning, which is part of the reason that there are so many types of life insurance. Not all life insurance types are created equal, however, and depending

Buying a Used Car vs. Buying a New Car vs. Leasing

Some people refer to car buying as an art, but there may be more money to be saved by applying some math and science. Yes, negotiation plays a role in getting the right price, but math can point you toward

How Much Does Owning a Car Really Cost?

In other chapters, we discussed the cost per mile for buying new cars, for trading in new cars after 5 years, for buying used cars, and for leasing. Buying cars that were 5 years old provided the best

How Does Home Equity Work?

Whether it’s a car or a home, if you’ve borrowed money to pay for an asset, your payments over time are working to build equity. The equity in your home is the difference between the appraised value

Is a House a Good Investment?

When thinking about a home as an investment, there are different ways to consider the topic. A house can be a place to live, a place to raise a family, and perhaps even a place to retire, hopefully increasing

Understanding Opportunity Cost; Impulse Spending vs. Investing

Opportunity cost is a term used frequently in business and in investing. If you think of opportunity cost in its simplest form, the loss of gain by choosing one alternative over another, you’ll realize

How Does Credit Card Interest Work?

If credit card companies were forced to indicate the cost of borrowing at the top of a credit card statement in large red print that filled half a page, we’d probably never carry a balance again. If

How do 401(k)s, IRAs, and HSA Savings Accounts Work?

A 2017 study found that the average tax burden for US wage earners is nearly 32% of pretax earnings. Let’s call it a third. While many might argue that taxes are necessary, taxes can also destroy your

How Much Does It Really Cost to Retire?

It’s a dream shared by most – finally hanging up our work hats and enjoying our retirement years. For many people, however, the dream of retirement can seem like an elusive oasis, a hazy, far-away

Savings Account vs. Money Market Account vs. Money Market Fund

When you make the decision to start saving, you’ll find you have some options in addition to a traditional savings account. You can also choose a money market account, a money market fund, or even certificates

How Do Interest Rates Work and How They Affect Your Life

We might not give much thought to interest rates on a day-to-day basis, but interest rates can have a tremendous effect on finances. Interest rates can make the difference between a month where you’re

How Does Compound Interest Work?

One of the easiest ways to understand how interest works is to think of the interest you earn as the speed at which your money grows. If you choose to keep your savings stashed away under a loose floorboard

The Real Cost of Credit Card Debt Over Time

Debt statistics can be misleading. For example, the average credit card debt per US household is about $5,700. However, that figure includes households that have credit cards, but which don’t carry a

Should I Invest in Index Funds, Mutual Funds, or ETFs?

When it comes to investment strategy, there are nearly as many schools of thought as there are stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Some people use stock picking systems or complicated strategies

Understanding Stock Market Fundamentals

If you’ve ever watched investment shows on television, you’ve probably heard commentators mention fundamentals — but without ever explaining what stock fundamentals are and why they might matter

Effective Strategies to Pay Down Debt

Carrying debt has become part of American life, although with consequences that may be hard to foresee. For most households, it’s difficult to remember a time when the family was debt-free. Ten years

What is Dollar Cost Averaging?

What if there was a way to build a secure future or even become a millionaire without the need to be an investment expert? There is a way, and it’s easier than you think. Like any great recipe, you’ll

Choose the Best Bank or Credit Union for Your Lifestyle

When it’s time to decide whether to conduct your financial business at a bank or a credit union, you’ll need to make some decisions about your priorities. Both banks and credit unions offer

How Credit Scores and Credit Reports Work

Your credit scores help lenders make decisions about whether to say yes to your request for a loan or line of credit. While a mortgage company may take a closer look at your credit report’s contents,

Ways to Save Money Every Day

If you feel like you spend too much money, you aren’t alone. Here are some painless ways to trim your budget. If you pay a monthly maintenance fee to your bank, it’s time to switch banks Cut fees you

What To Do With Your Tax Refund

The average American taxpayer received a federal tax refund of more than $3,000 last year.1 That amount of money could help you reach financial goals much faster than you originally planned. Before you

How to Harness the Power of 50/20/30 Budgeting

When it comes to designing a budget that works, simple is best. The idea of a 50/20/30 rule for budgeting your personal finances comes from Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren. She worked with her

Sidestep These Money Mistakes to Get Ahead Faster

Everyone makes mistakes with their money from time to time. The faster you can change course, the better. Saving Forgetting to save for seasonal expenses Christmas and back-to-school time are notoriously

How Minimalism Could Save Your Financial Life

You’ve seen people use minimalism to get rid of items they no longer want or use. Capsule wardrobes, the Magic of Tidying Up, tiny homes, living with less than 100 things, and the KISS principal are

Small Changes Lead to Big Savings at Mealtime

The portion of your budget that you spend eating out and buying groceries presents the opportunity to save a great deal of money. There’s no need to become a couponing expert or purchase large volumes

How to Choose the Best Bank or Credit Union for Your Lifestyle

When it’s time to decide whether to conduct your financial business at a bank or a credit union, you’ll need to make some decisions about your priorities. Both banks and credit unions offer

What You Need to Know About Taxes to Get A Refund and Stay Out of Trouble

In the United States, we have a “progressive tax system.” This means that the more money you make, the more taxes you pay. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule that come in the form

Understand Your Credit to Get Ahead Financially

Everyone with a social security number or tax identification number who has a history of financial activity has at least one credit report. The information in this file, maintained by various credit reporting

Use the Minimalist Habit of Living Below Your Means to Achieve Financial Success

Two out of every five American adults don’t have the financial means to cover a $400 emergency.1 Strangely, 74% of Americans indicated on the same survey that they were “at least OK financially”.1

The Smartest Way to Balance Investing with Paying Off Debt

Living a debt-free life isn’t immediately within reach for many people. For those working to lower balances on credit cards and paying extra each month to shrink their loan balances, it can be intimidating

What you need to know about settling debt

When you owe more money than you can pay, it can be difficult to understand how to negotiate with your creditors. The most important thing to remember is that if you ignore the problem, it will not go

What does owning a pet actually cost?

When deciding whether a new pet fits into your life, it’s also crucial to consider whether you can provide for their material needs. There’s a financial burden associated with pet ownership

How to Build Wealth No Matter Your Financial Situation

If you don’t have much in savings and don’t have an aggressive investment plan in place, now is a perfect time to figure out how to put away money and let it grow for you. Whether you are in

How to Pay Off Debt Faster

Debt can make getting ahead in life feel impossible. It may prevent you from getting a mortgage, even with good credit. Making huge monthly payments on everything from your car to your credit cards creates

How To Travel Without Blowing Your Budget

Seeing the world doesn’t require unlimited funds. If you are saving money for a future full of adventure around the globe, you may be able to get started on your journey sooner if you understand

How to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt Faster with a Balance Transfer

If your goal is to pay off your credit card debt, but you have a high interest rate, or multiple cards with balances, a balance transfer may be the ideal solution. You’ll need a decent FICO credit score

Budgeting and Relationships

Forming and sticking to a budget is difficult enough, but when you add a significant other to the mix, it can quickly become difficult and complicated. It doesn’t have to be terrible for your bank account

How to Set Yourself Up for Financial Success by Understanding the Costs of College

When you are in the process of adding up the potential bill for higher education, it’s wise to start with a general calculator that can help you estimate the cost of college. The Vanguard College Cost

What You Need to Know About Taxes and Inheriting Assets When Your Spouse or Parent Dies

When your parent or spouse passes away, there are an overwhelming number of things that must be handled in a short amount of time. It’s not something that many of us have experience with, so it can be

How to Build Your Own Pension Plan

Companies that offer their employees a pension are rare these days. Fortunately, it’s easy to access financial planning tools to help you design your own pension plan that will provide a steady source

Fees and Taxes Have a Major Impact on Investments

The amount of money you can save and invest over time has much to do with brokerage fees and taxes. Paying even small amounts to a financial advisor, tax planner, or the federal and state government will