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finance Archives - Sharkey, Howes & Javer

New Year, New Goals: Evaluate Your Finances and Make a Plan for 2017

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2016 has been a whirlwind of a year, but hopefully not on your finances. Life changes and with it come new expenses or new financial goals. It’s important to regularly check in on your finances to ensure you are staying on track. What better time than the new year?

Here are 5 things to review as we move into 2017:

Income and expenses

The key to managing a spending plan is knowing how much money is coming in and how much is going out. As we head into the new year, review your pay stubs, earnings reports and other sources of income and crunch some numbers. Once you’ve figured out your income, do the same with your expenses.

Try out an online budget tool or use online banking to automatically categorize your expenses so you can see where you are spending the most. Pull up your budget from last year to see what may have changed and adjust as needed. Remember to be realistic about how much you will spend, not how much you want to spend.

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If A Significant Other Isn’t Truthful About Finances

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Many of us are well aware of the emotional strain caused by infidelity in a relationship, but not as many are aware of the emotional strain caused by financial infidelity. However, this seems to be a growing problem in the United States. The National Foundation for Financial Education® (NEFE®) conducted a poll in early 2016, digging into the details of the presence of financial infidelity in households across the nation. “Among U.S. adults, 42 percent admit to financial infidelity compared to 33 percent just two years ago. The survey also finds that when financial deceptions occur, 75 percent say there is an effect on the relationship.” (Source)

You may be asking yourself, “What exactly qualifies as financial infidelity?” Financial infidelity has been defined as “…the secretive act of spending money, possessing credit and credit cards, holding secret accounts or stashes of money, borrowing money, or otherwise incurring debt unknown or unwilling to one’s spouse, partner, or significant other. Financial infidelity in a relationship may also include any financial decision(s) made by a partner that may effect, burden, strain or set back the financial planning of the relationship.” (Source)

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10 Ways to Show Your Money Some Love

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SHJ Show Your Money Some Love

In the month of love, we thought it was important to share our tips on how to show your money some love so it can help you attain your goals. While we could add many more tips to the list, the 10 below are an excellent place to start when thinking through your financial strategy.

1. Don’t Wait

“Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow… or next week… or next month.” We can all find excuses about getting fit, starting a diet, cleaning the house or… taking care of our finances. When it comes to showing your money some love, the first step is to put the excuses aside and take action. Money problems are associated with stress, relational challenges and decreased happiness. Waiting to take care of your finances only prolongs the hurt.

2. Save First

When a paycheck comes in, it can be tempting to pay the bills, buy a few things on the wish list and head out to a nice steak dinner. While it may be well deserved, saving before splurging can really show your money some love. When money is saved, it earns interest and the more interest it earns the more money you have later. Savings accounts, 401(k)s, IRAs and other investments are all part of a good saving strategy.

3. Look for Tax Free

Many retirement plans, such as a 401(k), allow you to save with certain tax advantages. Look into your employer’s retirement plan and possible matching programs, as well as other available programs such as the 529 plan for college education savings. Financial advisors, like the team at Sharkey, Howes and Javer, can be excellent resources when it comes to creating a smart saving strategy.

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2015 Financial Check-Up

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SH&J 2015 Financial Check-Up

By Julie Fletcher, Certified Financial Planner™ at Sharkey, Howes & Javer

1. Even if you are “maxing out” your retirement plan contributions, is it enough?

The retirement plan contribution limits are set by IRS guidelines and reviewed each year. However, the IRS is not a personal financial advisor and does not know how much you need to be saving to meet your financial goals. Just because you are “maxing out” your plan does not necessarily mean you are saving enough. 

Many people choose to contribute to the company 401(k) plan, which will allow you to contribute up to $18,000 in 2015 (with an additional $6,000 catch-up for those over age 50). A 401(k) plan allows an employee to contribute a portion of his/her salary on a pre-tax basis to a retirement savings account. Taxes are not paid until money is withdrawn from the account.

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Black Friday: 5 Tips on Spending to Save

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Sharkey Howes & Javer Black Friday Shopping Bag ImageBlack Friday, for some, has become a post-Thanksgiving tradition. Finish the pie, clean up the kitchen, bundle up and go camp out. Now, many stores are opening for Black Friday on Thanksgiving Day, making it a 2-day
“door buster.” If you plan on indulging in the deals this holiday season, here are a few tips to keep your bank account in the black.

#1: Start with a Budget

If you start by looking at all the deals, you can quickly go above what you want to spend. Remember, Black Friday isn’t the only time of year to snag a great deal. Decide early on how much you want to spend. Write it down or make a spreadsheet to hold you accountable.

#2: Go in with a Plan

The most important part of Black Friday shopping is to go in with a plan. Create yourself a list. Know exactly which items you plan to buy at what stores, and how much they will cost. Focus on the bottom line prices, not the percentage of discount. Prices can be inflated so stores can offer more of a ‘discount.’ Take time to compare prices across similar stores and look at the total savings. Read More