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IRS Will Issue Tax Refunds + 7 Smart Things to Do with Your Extra Money

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Full speed ahead for tax season: The IRS will issue refunds as expected, according to the White House, even if the shutdown persists into filing season (which kicks off January 28). Meanwhile, federal workers are set to miss their first paychecks on Friday if no agreement is made by Tuesday midnight. Some 420,000 employees, “deemed essential,” are presently working without pay, while another 380,000 have been furloughed. The current shutdown is now the third-longest in U.S. history.

So now that people will receive their tax refunds, what should they do with the extra funds? Here are seven ideas:

1. Start (or contribute more to) a financial freedom fund.

It is a good practice to have at least six to eight months worth of expenses in a savings account as an emergency fund or, as I like to call it, a financial freedom fund. Use your bonus as an opportunity to either start your own financial freedom fund or put more into it. Having this money in an account will help you weather any financial storm and give you the strength to walk away from a toxic working environment.

2. Put more money into your 401(k).

A 401(k) is a great way to save for retirement. Even more so, if your employer provides a matching program, it gives you even more of a reason to start participating. Your bonus can give you the cash flow you need to increase your 401(k) contributions. While tax laws may not allow you to deposit your bonus into your 401(k) directly, having access to the extra cash will allow you to increase what you normally contribute from your check without the fear of not having enough money to meet your budget.

3. Put money aside for a big purchase.

Many of us would love to buy a new car, fancy furniture, trendy electronics, or upgrade our wardrobe, but may not have had the funds to do so. If your bonus is big enough, this may be the time to set aside money to make a big purchase. While I don’t suggest that you use all of your bonus, this can give you a head start on achieving your dreams.

4. Start investing in the markets.

Many people do not invest their money outside of retirement savings plans. But now may be the time you take a shot at it. Investing money outside of your retirement account can give you some good returns in the long run and diversify assets to mitigate risk. Instead of putting all of your eggs in one basket, spread them out to increase your chance of reaching true financial freedom.

5. Invest in yourself.

Author Robin S. Sharma said, “Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life; it will improve the lives of all those around you.” Take this opportunity to invest in a certificate program, buy some books, hire a coach, or take an exciting online course (like the ones they offer on Udemy.com). Invest in yourself and allow your value to go up in the long term.

6. Give to charity.

Not only is giving to a good cause a noble thing to do, but it can also help increase your blessings. There is a universal law that says, “The more you, give the more you get.” Use this blessing to be a blessing to others.

7. Have some fun!

If you have been following your budget strictly and have been diligent with prioritizing finances, then this might be a good time to let your hair loose. Have some fun—use some of your bonus to simply enjoy yourself! Buy an expensive dinner, purchase a piece of jewelry you’ve always wanted, or go on a two-week excursion that’s on your bucket list. You only live once, so if you’ve been doing so responsibly, then it’s about time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

What will you do with your bonus? How would you spend it?

Ash Exantus aka Ash Cash is one of the nation’s top personal finance experts. Dubbed as the Financial Motivator, he uses a culturally responsive approach in teaching financial literacy. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ash Cash and not the views of BankMobile and/or its affiliates.

The Daily Digm (News)

Amazon Prime Day Kicks off W/ Competition + How to Kick off the Habit of Paying Full Price

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Ready, set, go! Amazon’s Prime Day starts today and continues through Tuesday, bringing a whole new meaning to retail wars, as Walmart becomes the latest rival to try to get in on the mid-summer online-shopping bonanza. This year marks Amazon’s fifth year of Prime Day, and according to Salesforce’s Rob Garf, the shopping event has prompted “rising shifts” for the entire month of July. Target and eBay have also announced sales of their own. There is definitely competition in these mean retail streets but how do you compete with yourself to save money?

I have a friend who spent time as an intern and then as an assistant buyer at a Fortune 500 specialty brand, and from her experience, she vowed never to pay full price for a pair of jeans again (unless the price is already right of course). Working in the buying department opened her eyes to reality behind retail. For instance, jewelry can be marked up to at least five times its value. As a buyer, you’re the one who actually chooses what looks go into each door. You also have the privilege of watching sales trends and dealing with a lot of retail math. You consider the cost of goods sold, retail price, and yes, the markup.

Markup is when a company produces or purchases a good at one price and then sells the good for a higher price.

Here’s how it works:

Selling price = [(Cost) ÷ (100 – percentage markup)] × 100.

So, a company buys a pair of jeans at wholesale for $60 and needs to sell it at a 60 percent markup. The calculation would be [($60) ÷ (100 – 60)] x 100. This breaks down to ($60 ÷ 40) x 100, resulting in a selling price of $150.

By having a markup on goods, a company is able to earn profits even when goods go on sale. But what does that mean for the consumer? Well, your pricey luxury shoes, shirt, and hand bag aren’t all that expensive. You just paid an absurd amount for it.

This leads me to the premise of this article – start at the sales rack. Being trendy with your finances should come before fashion. See what deals you can get before paying full price. There is nothing more fashionable then extra cash in your money bag.

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Another One! U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Wins Again + How to Win in Your Personal Finances

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The U.S. women’s soccer team are the World Cup champions after beating the Netherlands 2-0. It’s the fourth title overall for the Americans, and the first time they have won back-to-back trophies. The team has also launched itself into the gender pay gap debate with its lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation: the women can expect a guaranteed payday of about $250,000 with Sunday’s title, says the New York Times, while the winning team of the men’s World Cup would have received roughly $1.1 million each, per CNBC.

What about in your personal finances? How do you win? The short-term sacrifice of becoming financially focused early on has long term benefits that are totally worth it also. Here are just a few:

Financial Freedom. The definition of financial freedom varies depending on the person, but it boils down to being able to cover life’s necessities, including food, clothing, and housing expenses. Buckling down in your twenties and thirties to focus on laying a financial foundation leads to financial freedom. And the sooner you get there, the better off you’ll be.

Stress Free Living. Most stress is self-imposed and generally centered around money. Some relationships crumble due to tension perceived by finances. The highest liability we encounter is housing. The second and third largest consist of health care and food. While food and medicine are ongoing obligations, owning a home can eliminate a chunk of financial responsibility, freeing up more money to save and invest. Start early when it comes to homeownership. You may miss a few parties, but the peace that comes with owning the home you rest in will be made up for it.

Generational Wealth. Chances are you’re considering starting a family. What better way to honor those you love with an abundant financial future? Each generation should be able to start a notch above the last. Investing five years of your young adulthood can make a 10-year difference in the lives of your unborn children. This sacrifice isn’t only for you but for those to come after you.

More Time. We are not so much looking for more stuff but for more time to enjoy the stuff we already have and the people we can share that stuff with. The reason most look to retirement is to enjoy what they have worked so hard for. The moment you decide to be financially responsible is the moment you begin to enjoy the journey, both the highs and lows of creating wealth. By all means, don’t save the party until the end. Celebrate while you build but remember to never lose focus of the building. 

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Nike AIMS to Get on the Right Side of History + How to Be on the Right Side of Your Legacy

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Nike has pulled a U.S.A-themed sneaker from its range after receiving objections from Colin Kaepernick, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing anonymous sources. The former NFL player reportedly told the company that the early American flag featured on the Air Max 1 USA, created in celebration of July 4, was offensive due to its connection to slavery. Nike also recently stopped selling some products in China after a designer’s support for Hong Kong protests sparked backlash, and reportedly cancelled a sneaker in May following objections.

The flag in particular is the Betsy Ross flag which Wikipedia states: The Betsy Ross flag is an early design of the flag of the United States, attributed to Betsy Ross, using the common motifs of the alternating red-and-white striped field with five-pointed stars in a blue canton. Grace Rogers Cooper noted that the first documented usage of this flag was in 1792.[1] The flag features 13 stars to represent the original 13 colonies with the stars arranged in a circle. The 13 Colonies has a deep connection to Slavery which is where the objection is coming from.

It is good to see that someone is using their influence in the right way, but also this tells you how influence can affect the bottom line. This move is helping Nike create or clean up its legacy.

We are now in graduation season, and for many students, graduating college is an enormous feat that starts the beginning of their legacy. But after you are now free to do as you wish, how do you continue to add to that legacy? Yes, you are going to start a billion dollar business or work as an exec for a fortune 500 company but beyond your title and accolades, what else can you bring to the table? The truth of the matter is that what you do with your money is more important than how much you have. It is said that a good man (or woman) leaves an inheritance for his (or her) children’s children. And even if we don’t have children, leaving an inheritance of wealth on earth for the benefit of others is the truest form of what we call being rich. If one is truly wealthy, he or she freely gives. Making your riches count is found in your legacy. So, while we may not fully understand what our legacy will be when all is said and done, we can aim to leave the following:

Knowledge & Wisdom.

Maya Angelou told Oprah Winfrey that no one truly knows their legacy because they can influence different people differently. No matter your level of education, you have the ability to give a word of wisdom because the wise are those who have experienced life and learn lessons along the way. Never underestimate your ability to encourage another person.

Kindness.

Ellen DeGeneres is synonymous with kindness. At the end of each show, she can be heard saying Be Kind to One Another. The impact that she has had on students, families, young stars, and animals is surely a legacy. Something as simple as kindness, an ability we all have access to because it resides in us, goes a very long way. It literally changes lives.

Money & Assets.

Robert Kiyosaki said money isn’t everything, but it does affect almost everything in our lives that is important. Leaving beyond money and financial assets to your children and their children can put your loved ones ahead 10, 20, and even 50 years. While you are building wealth, keep future generations in mind. Most of our early adulthood is spent paying school loans, discovering our purpose, and laying a financial foundation. Imagine what life would be like if your parents set up twice as much as they did for you financially. You’d most likely be at least five years ahead of where you are.

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