How to Spend Your Tax Refund

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average tax refund was just over $3,000 in 2018. Many Americans treat their tax refund as a gift. However, a tax refund is not a gift. Tax refunds are the government’s way of returning money that workers overpaid in taxes throughout the year. Since tax refunds are workers’ hard-earned cash, this list has ideas for spending the funds wisely.

 

Start an emergency fund

Personal finance experts agree that building an emergency fund should be everyone’s top financial priority. But, most experts don’t agree on how much to save. The general rule of thumb is to save the equivalent of at least three months of essential expenses. Having this much in your savings may prevent someone from turning to debt in the event of an emergency.

 

Save for retirement

A retirement saving vehicle like an IRA has tax advantages. Funds in a Roth IRA grow tax-free while contributions to a traditional IRA provide tax deductions in the year they’re made.

 

Provide for a child’s education

Saving for a child’s college education also can be done in a tax-advantaged way through a 529 plan.

 

Plan for a major purchase

Saving for a major purchase such as a vehicle, home, or vacation may be easier with a dedicated savings account.

 

Pay down debt

A $3,000 tax refund is probably not enough to eliminate most people’s debt, but it would make a significant reduction. Paying down one’s highest-interest debt, which for many people is credit card debt, makes the most financial sense.

 

Make health a priority

People who have skipped medical, vision, or dental examinations due to their expense could schedule the necessary appointments.

 

Learn new skills

New skills have the potential to increase income if those skills are used to get a better job or start a business.

 

Make home improvements

Homeowners can protect the value of their investment handling neglected home repairs. If nothing needs fixing, replacing outdated appliances may provide significant energy savings.

 

Be safe on the road

Road safety requires proper vehicle maintenance. Noisy brakes usually are screaming to be replaced. Worn tires can slip. Taking care of car repairs reduces the risk of an undesirable event on the road.

 

Treat yourself to an experience

Buying an experience may provide more enjoyment than getting more stuff. Experiences to consider are trips, museum memberships, or season tickets for professional sports.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

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How to Spend Your Tax Refund

Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter with Money

Podcasts are a great way to take advantage of the time you have during long commutes, chores, or even workouts. There are podcasts available for every interest, and it can be overwhelming to choose from the seemingly unlimited options. If you’re looking to learn more about managing your money, the following podcasts are a great place to start!

 

So Money features Farnoosh Torbai, a leading personal finance authority for young adults. Her podcast features interviews with top entrepreneurs, authors, and influencers. So Money has won a variety of awards from sources such as Entrepreneur Magazine and Inc. Magazine.

 

For those interested in additional income streams through side businesses, The Side Hustle Show is a great choice. The Side Hustle Show offers ideas and strategies from successful entrepreneurs, and will help you to take your side business to the next level.

 

Smart Passive Income is another podcast aimed at helping you earn more passive income through a hands-off business. The podcast is produced by entrepreneur Pat Flynn, and will walk you through setting up your own source of passive income.

 

Radical Personal Finance is led by Joshua Sheats, an experienced professional financial advisor. He uses storytelling and interviews to create an engaging podcast that will help lead you toward financial freedom.

 

Paula Pant, a real estate investor and blogger, shares her wisdom in her podcast Afford Anything. Her philosophy is rooted in the idea that you can “afford anything, but not everything”. She discusses how to make smarter decisions about your time and money, and how you can use your daily habits to create the lifestyle you want.

 

Money for the Rest of Us, by financial expert David Stein, helps listeners learn how to take control of their financial decisions and save for retirement through lessons on wealth building and investing.

 

Stacking Benjamins seeks to make finance more approachable and entertaining. The tone is light and friendly, and features a wide variety of interesting characters. It’s no wonder the show has won so many awards!

 

If you’re looking for a tried and true podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show has over 3,000 five star reviews and over 200 million downloads! It’s also been ranked the #1 business podcast on Apple Podcasts. The podcast covers more than just finance, but you can pick out the financial episodes if that’s all that you’re interested in.
These podcasts will help you learn more about money in a way that’s both entertaining and informative, whether you’re a finance professional, entrepreneur, or just someone looking to take control of your personal finances.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter with Money

Online Sources to Improve Your Financial Literacy

Expensive college classes and spending hours studying is no longer required if you want to improve your financial literacy. Thanks to the information era, people today are taking control of their financial lives by using online sources that provide free education and training. If you want to improve your financial literacy, here are some reputable sites you can visit.

MyMoney.Gov
Started by the Federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission, this website is ideal for people who want to spend less and save more. The site includes budgeting worksheets and quizzes on money topics such as borrowing and earning interest. There is no cost to users.

Investopedia
This financial website offers an abundance of information on all things related to money. From learning common money terms to complex investing, Investopedia covers every aspect of finance. If you find yourself struggling with financial jargon or you want to learn more about personal finance, Investopedia is the online encyclopedia for finance and money.

Khan Academy
Some educators refer to this online source as a revolution in the way people learn about finance. Rather than trying to navigate financial markets aimlessly, a former hedge fund manager named Salman Khan decided to offer free education to anyone who wanted to learn more about finance. The Khan Academy provides an extensive curriculum for those who want to learn as much as they can about finance, and it is entirely free.

MarketWatch
If you want to stay on top of financial markets in the U.S. and abroad, MarketWatch is a great choice. Created by the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch delivers real-time stock quotes and the latest news from the world of finance. You can monitor the major exchanges and build a portfolio of stocks that you would like to track. The site also offers tutorials and articles on investing and trading.

Business Insider
If you want to learn more about a wide range of financial topics, then Business Insider is a site you should visit. From small business news and education to finance and economics, this site delivers a plethora of information for both beginners and experts alike. Business Insider tries to present content that is easily digestible making it a goldmine for those who want to learn more finance and business. The site also delivers legitimate news stories on all things related to finance.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Online Sources to Improve Your Financial Literacy

Five Best Books to Better Understand Finance

For anyone looking for finance books, these top five books will offer them a better understanding of finance. They will provide them with a wealth of knowledge that they need to manage their finances better.

 

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

The author of the book is an economist from Princeton named Burton Malkiel. The book was initially published in 1973, and it offers advice to readers regarding some investments. Whether one is starting their profession in finance or is an established finance professional intending to broaden their investment profile, the book is an excellent market fundamental source.

 

Common Sense of Mutual Funds

This book is a guide written for investors in mutual funds. It was written in 1999 by John Bogle, the Vanguard Group founder. He argues the case for the index-based-investing value. If one is looking for common-sense financial advice, this is the book for them. He notes that the less amount of money one pays a person to manage their money, the more money they have for investing.

 

The Intelligent Investor

The book was initially published in 1949, and its author is Benjamin Graham. The book has been updated multiple times including recently by Jason Zweig, a financial writer since Graham died in 1976. The book comprises a guide to approaches in long-term investing. Through the book, Graham maps out and advocates for his value approach as opposed to investing.

 

Security Analysis

The book was first published in 1934 with David Dodd and Benjamin Graham as the authors. The book is a guide to fundamental equity investing and offers approaches to value investing. Graham was Warren Buffet’s professor at Columbia University, and Buffet was able to pick up on value investing, an approach he uses till today.

 

Barbarians at the Gate

If one is interested in junk bonds and leveraged buyouts, this book is ideal for them. The book was written in 1989 by John Helyar and Bryan Burrough. In the book, they write the history of these types of financing as they recount the struggle that involved the RJR Nabisco leveraged buyout. Initially, the writers wrote the story as Wall Street Journal writers.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Five Best Books to Better Understand Finance

The Importance of Financial Literacy

Financial literacy may be defined as having the knowledge and skills to handle financial matters. Financially literate persons handle cash, credit, and other financial resources responsibly. However, many people have never developed the skills necessary to manage their financial resources.

 

The need for financial literacy

Many young people find themselves in mountains of debt before they graduate from college because of credit cards. Being able to buy on credit while paying a few dollars a month toward the balance might seem like an easy way to have it all when cash is limited. However, a buy now, pay later approach is what causes many people both young and not-so-young, to become overwhelmed with debt. In many cases, individuals accrue so much debt that they cannot pay. Defaulting on credit cards and loans not only hurts one’s credit score–it impacts the ability to get a job, purchase a car, or purchase a home. Individuals who develop financial literacy have the skills to avoid these mistakes by making informed decisions about how they spend money.

 

Individuals should develop financial literacy early

It’s never too early to help young people develop financial literacy. Parents who give their children allowances for doing chores can teach the importance of working to earn money. Teaching a child to pay him or herself first by saving money is the beginning of basic financial literacy. In middle school and high school, students can develop financial literacy through simulations where they are given a specific budget and must figure out how to pay for shelter, transportation, groceries, insurance, emergency car repairs, and other living expenses. For most participants, this type of activity is an eye-opener when they realize that they might need to forgo that prized smartphone to purchase a battery for a car.

 

What individuals need to know to make informed financial decisions

Anyone who is at risk of making poor financial decisions can benefit from financial literacy education in the following areas:

  • How to make a budget and stick to it
  • How to avoid credit traps
  • How credit interest works
  • Saving and investing
  • Understanding your credit report

Education to help individuals develop financial literacy works. It would be valuable if all students were required to participate in at least a short course on managing personal finances before graduating from high school. Research shows that high school students exposed to financial literacy education do a better job of managing their financial resources later in life.

 

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

The Importance of Financial Literacy

What to Know about Switzerland’s Cryptocurrency Platform

The Emergence of Digital Currency Systems

Once you begin to understand the applications of cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain technology, you can see the power this technology has. The people behind SIX Digital Exchange (SDX) believe in the future of the crypto space and foresee it redefining the future of the financial industry. SIX looks to bridge the gap inhibiting digital communities from advancing traditional financial services.

 

Switzerland Plans to Lead the World’s Crypto Space

The global monetary system saw its share of issues, which allowed digital currencies to catch the eye of investors. What was once thought of as merely a novelty or alternative is developing into a disruptive financial force. Many see the future of digital transactions changing, even if cryptocurrencies will need to become more professional as payment systems.

 

According to the country’s economic minister, Switzerland’s goal is to lead the world as the go-to “crypto nation.” Historically, Switzerland has been a financial haven. Now, the country is attracting crypto start-ups because of its beneficial tax and regulatory environments. With support from Switzerland’s stock exchange, trading digital assets will take place on a first world market infrastructure.

 

Regulation

Among the most discussed topics in the crypto space are regulations. Most of the world regulators skeptically view digital currencies. Still, crypto exchanges press on and now increasingly employ conventional safeguards. Higher standards are expected as bigger players, like hedge funds and proprietary traders, enter this market.

 

Switzerland plans to regulate SIX with Finma, its central bank, and financial supervisor. Expect to see cryptocurrencies under the same type of oversight as conventional exchanges. Initial services are planned for sometime during the first half of 2019.

 

A First World Blockchain Based Exchange

By design, cryptocurrencies run on blockchain technology. However, most of the exchanges that trade them do not. SIX is using blockchain technology to build its platform as a distributed ledger.

 

Services will not be limited to trading. Asset custody and deal settlement will also be offered. SIX will likely operate in a healthy financial environment. This is because, in addition to the growing acceptance of digital currencies, the country is working to liberate banks from regulations that restrict services to crypto companies.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

What to Know about Switzerland’s Cryptocurrency Platform

What to Know Before Starting a Career in Finance

Fresh-out of high school and unsure of what you want to do for the rest of your life? Or, are you already working and in a career, but want a change? If so, you may have considered working in finance. Finance can be a lucrative career, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. If you’ve been interested in pursuing finance as a career, here are a few things to consider.

 

It’s who you know, not what you know

These days, getting a job almost anywhere is about knowing the right people. But that sentiment is especially true in finance. Knowing the right people is much more likely to help you succeed than being the smartest person in the room. Develop close relationships with your coworkers and supervisors; you never know when you’ll need to lean on them for a position. Even if they can’t help you secure a new job, they have valuable, hard-earned knowledge they may be willing to impart to you.

 

The industry is always changing

Finance changes as swiftly as a river. New laws and regulations are continually emerging. The market could crash or soar at any given moment. Getting involved in an industry that changes as rapidly as finance can be scary. You need to be constantly learning, and relearning your position. If the market crashes and a recession begins, you may be out of a job. You have to be prepared to roll with the punches.

 

Past success doesn’t guarantee future success

Just because a strategy worked well for you in the past, it doesn’t ensure it’ll work well for you in the future. Because the industry is always changing, your methods have too also. It is not a career where you can get complacent; you must always be on the cutting edge. Clients will notice if you’re trying to coast off of a past win.

 

Not the right industry for everyone

Finance is a high-stress career. It involves lots of late nights, weekends spent working and on-call, and high stakes. If the downsides of the industry don’t scare you, or even excite you, it may be worth pursuing. If the only reason you’re interested in a career in finance is the chance you’ll become a millionaire, but aren’t prepared to put in the necessary work, you may want to consider another path.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

What to Know Before Starting a Career in Finance