Sarang Ahuja | Finance

Leader, Financial Expert, Game Changer

Tag: Finance (Page 2 of 5)

A Little Something on the Side

A Little Something on the Side: Getting Started with a Side Job

The dynamic of labor in the United States has changed over the past decade. The long-held institution of the 9-5 job is crumbling in the face of a difficult job market and the increasing interconnectedness of technology. Because of this, individuals are opting to take on smaller part time jobs, sometimes to supplement an existing source of income, and sometimes because of difficulty in securing full time employment. Either way, working a side job can be a valuable asset and resume booster, providing the individual with an alternate cash flow that may not be as consistent or time consuming as a 9-5.

So, if you’re an individual that needs some extra cash, regardless of your reasons for doing so, there are a multitude of avenues you can take. I’d like to discuss some of the options available on the part-time job market.

Driving

Uber and Lyft have effectively disrupted the public transportation industry with crowdsourced drivers and a easy-to-use apps. Known in the industry as rideshare apps, an increasing number of people are becoming Uber and Lyft drivers to earn money on nights and weekends. Though becoming a rideshare driver is not as intensive as becoming a certified taxi driver, there are certain barriers to entry that applicants need to abide by.

Drivers need to submit to a background check in addition to possessing a valid driver’s license, a smartphone, and a car with four exterior doors and five seatbelts. Additionally, some cities may not allow rideshare services to operate, so be sure to know if your area can participate! Still, on a busy weekend night, rideshare drivers can accumulate quite the haul.

Babysitting

Despite being one of the stereotypical jobs for teenagers, a good caregiver can alleviate pressure from parents and make a positive impact on a child’s life. Previously relegated to word of mouth, technology has also made it easier to find babysitting and care gigs. Care.com is one example of a website looking to match babysitters with families in need, and payment is easy to receive through the site.

Depending on when you’re available, you can expect to make anywhere from $12 to $25 an hour babysitting. The high end of the scale is generally seen among night sitters, who assist tired parents with children, particularly babies and newborns.

Writing

Writing freelance blogs and articles has a huge market on the Internet. There are plenty out there if you go looking—but be warned, the pay can often be low. Research is important when writing online; you’ll want to know the regulations of the sites that you’re pitching to, as well as having a solid understanding of the topics that you’re writing about.

Still, nothing beats the flexibility of writing for an online outlet and working wherever you’d like! Find a site that fits your schedule, interests, and needs and have a great time producing quality content.

Design

While it requires a bit of a background to do well, with a bit of artistic know-how, you can create beautiful graphics or design for the web. For doing this, it helps to have a collection of your previous work somewhere on the web; bonus points if you can make your own online portfolio from scratch.

Upwork is an online resource for the errant designer, offering potential leads and jobs to community members. Plus, if you start to gain momentum, the amount of money you can make will increase over time.

Spring Cleaning Your Wallet

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Now that tax season is here and the hustle and bustle from the holidays has finally settled down, it’s time to get cleaning, your wallet that is. Now is the perfect time to come up with new financial goals while planning out your financial expenditures for the rest of the year. Tax season is a great motivator to getting your finances on track and looking forward to springtime. Here are the some ways to clean up your financial wallet this season!

 

Pay down your debt

With tax season finally here, now is the best time to pay off as much of your debt as possible. Why? Because your tax return will give you the highest cash value that you own. Now, remember to do this the smart way. If you only got $500 back in taxes, but have $2000 in credit card debt, it may be a better idea to split those payments up to help contribute to a higher monthly payment. But if your tax return is say $3000, then you have enough to pay off your debt and treat yourself! It’s also a good idea to split up your monthly payments to an even amount until you can pay it off in full. This will show creditors that you are able to pay your monthly bills at a consistent rate.

 

Plan out vacations or trips

Now is the best time to plan out any family vacations or yearly trips. For one, you have more time to do so now as it’s still snowing and cold outside. Once spring time hits you’ll want to spend as much time outside as possible, without the worry of planning your yearly travel plans. Now is also a good time to plan things out because again, tax season is here so you may have a little extra boost in cash to contribute to your vacation funds.

 

Consider your credit cards

With spring time comes new promotions and rate options available from different financial lenders. For example, there may be a discount on personal or student loans. Many companies also offer great credit card offers with 0% interest or low fees on balance transfers. This is the time to sit down and take a look at your debt to see if there’s anyway you can cut down your monthly payments. Making a phone call to your lender provider can actually be the trick to lowering your rates. You may also consider opening a new credit card or transfer your balances for a lower rate. Whatever you decide to go with, make sure you do your research and talk to a provider before making any important decisions on your finances.

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Tax Season Tips

With tax season here, hopefully you’re not sporadically running around looking for your tax returns, receipts, and other important documents. Hopefully, you have also decided how you will be filing your taxes this year. But if not, have no fear! You still have two months left to file your taxes and most people haven’t even started yet. By following these tips you’ll be able to get organized and ready to file your state, local and federal taxes, but also take these tips to help you become organized for the rest of this year so that you have a smooth tax season next year.

Receipts

One of the most important things to do during tax season, (which sadly most people forget to do) is to save and organize your receipts. The reason for this is because if and when you get audited you have to have proof that you made that purchase (since you are filing it for a return). Many people questions if they should really be saving all of their receipts, however saving all of your receipts will give you an accurate estimate on how much money you spend on categories such as food, entertainment, shopping, etc. Saving your receipts will also allow you to become more organized and when tax season comes around, you’ll know exactly what you can and cannot claim.

Documents

As you already know, you’ll need some important documents to file your taxes. It is your employer’s responsibility to send out your w-2 or 1099 form. (If you are self employed, you should have a 1040 or 1099 form). It’s important not to lose these forms, however, some payroll and employer services have these forms on file. You will also need identification and your social security number. Along with these, you will need to bring along any documents or forms that were received from any stocks, investments or bank accounts that you will receive. Be sure to stay organized and keep everything together.

DIY or HIRE?

Another step you’ll need to consider is how do you want to file your taxes. It may be easier to hire someone, but it could also be costly. If you make over $200,000 a year, it is recommended that you hire an accountant to do your taxes for you as they will ensure that the least amount of mistakes are made. If you didn’t make much money, are not a homeowner or a business owner, and can’t claim anyone but yourself, filing your taxes via DIY may be the way to go. For one, you will usually find out how much your return will be right away. You can also do these at home with the click of a button so it saves you time and money. However, you do take the risk of making a mistake. Again, it’s always best if you can have professional advice to help you decide which way is best for you to file.

 

Top 5 Finance Books To Read Before You Turn 30

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Becoming financially successful typically cannot be done overnight. It takes a lot of time, practice and decision making to reach the ultimate peak. However, you don’t have to wait until your retirement to live financially free. One of the best things an individual can do to practice financial success is to read. Although it doesn’t sound like much, reading can help expand the mind of individuals and fill your brain with the confidence and power for strong decision making, problem solving, and analytical thinking. Here are 5 books you should read before turning 30, to get on the road to a financially free life.

 

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

As previously mentioned, decision making is a very important aspect of finance. Kahneman talks in detail about the two different types of thinking that drag our minds into making decisions, allowing us to understand the reasons behind why and how we make important, life decisions. This book will allow open your mind up in the way that we think and allow you to make choices in a way you never have before.

 

Debt-Free By 30 by Jason Anthony and Karl Kluck

As many people are burdened with debt, they also tend to think that there is no way out. However, Debt-Free by 30 offers resources, tools, and advice by two young men who have reached their peak debt point. The authors were living for and under control of their debt, when they decided it was time to get their lives back. Anyone who’s ever felt like they will never get their life back should consider reading this book and becoming prepared for the challenges that life can take us by. There is a way out.

 

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman

As many young people graduate high school and college and look for the next step in their lives, it is no surprise that millennials don’t know where to begin their financial journey. This book is a step by step guide in understanding your finances straight out of school. It even includes financial vocabulary to help reader gain a thorough understanding of finances in life. Schools typically don’t teach finances in today’s world, so whether you’re looking to buy a house, get out of debt, or come up with a financial plan, this book is a must read.

The Millionaire Next Door by, Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

Many people believe in order to become a millionaire, one must be born into money. However, this book will help you understand why this concept is a myth and what it really takes to become a millionaire. Through hard work, dedication, and financial planning, you can be on your road to financial success.

 

The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money by Carl Richards

We live in a society where buying things for satisfaction controls our financial decisions and spending habits. Richards explains in detail the theory of “the behavior gap” for consumers to understand their reality and have the ability to change their train of financial thought.

Personal Finance for Children

Kids and MoneyIt has long been discussed at what age people should start learning how to manage personal finance. It was only recently that some high schools began to require personal finance courses for graduation. Also, of course, there is the ever-popular list circulating the internet stating ‘Things I Never Learned in High School,’ most of which is related to personal finance. High schoolers, college students, and recent graduates are almost demanding that some personal finance that will be pertinent to the future is taught in school, yet the question of how early to start teaching it still remains. A new report suggests that the ideal time to start teaching personal finance may be earlier than anyone has thought before.

This Building Blocks Report, by the Consumer Financial Protection Board, makes the assertion that personal finance should start being taught at age 3. That’s right; preschoolers should be encouraged to practice make-believe play in order to develop their executive functioning. Executive functioning is, in part, learning control and how to plan, which is very helpful in budgeting. It gives people the willpower to maintain control over their actions, so, the sooner it is developed the better. Some make-believe activities that may help children to develop this section of mental processes are setting up a pretend supermarket in your home, playing accountant, and giving children calculators.

Of course, preschoolers will not be able to understand more complicated personal finance lessons, but they will understand basic concepts. Some things that should be impressed upon them include exchanging money for goods and saving money to get something better later. Remember that this is only the first phase of personal finance lessons.

Once children reach their pre-teenager stage, allowance can be used to further teach about personal finance. For example, requiring those receiving the allowance to save a portion of it each time it is given will teach how beneficial saving can be. It can also instill in them the sense that impulse buys, while fun at the time, are not always the best choice. When kids reach their teenage years, purchasing decisions can really start being discussed. At this age, it is recommended to discuss spending habits in all family activities, from filling up on gas to eating at a restaurant. Teenagers should be helping the family make spending decisions, which will ultimately prepare them for making spending decisions with their own finances in the future.

While it is great that some high schools are making personal finance courses standard, it is clear from the above report that personal finance learning should begin even soon. For more information, check out this Forbes article.

Watch out for the Five Factors that are impacting your Savings

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When it comes to your finances, it is imperative that you be more strategic with your spending. The truth of the matter is that financial freedom doesn’t come easy. Just because you have large expenses does not mean you cannot save a good portion of your salary for your future. By learning your own particular spending habits, you will be able to accumulate the necessary wealth for a long and fruitful future.

If you are looking for improving your personal financial health, start off by evaluating your own spending habits. Evaluating your expenses with an open minded view will help clarify what is holding you back from financial success. Below, I have highlighted five particular spending habits that we have all encountered over time. If you are looking to buy a house or plan a trip to Madrid, it is vital that you start controlling your spending today.

The Real Cost of Happy Hours

Social happy hours may seem harmless. But in the grand scheme of things, these particular outings do add up. To help you take control of your financial spending, make sure you are aware of the overall cost this habit can have on a monthly basis. Outings such as lunch with coworkers or happy hours with friends can be incredibly expensive. To help prevent this, try and limit yourself from going out throughout the week. On average, people spend about $20 dollars a day on these particular social events. That comes out to $400 dollars a month, money that could be used to pay off your bills or to add into your retirement account. Once you understand the extreme ramifications of your spending, you will be more than likely to save for your future.

Stop Dining Out!

Similar to happy hour, dining out and expensive hobbies can take a toll on your savings. Let’s start off with dining out. I mean, do not get me wrong, who doesn’t love going out to dinner with your significant other and your friends. The only problem is that those nights are incredibly costly. Usually, restaurants will charge on average three times their food cost on what you are actually served. One option that can help resist the urge is by staying in and cooking instead. If you can cut back on dining out, this can absolutely impact the amount of money you can save yourself each and every month

The Membership Fees

Unlike college, group activities are separate expenses in your life. Take for example signing up for a membership at a wine of the month club or a private resort club. These dues and subscriptions can eat away at your hard earned cash. Even cheap subscriptions such as gym memberships can play a factor of what you could potentially be saving in the future. Now the problem with these memberships is that most are automatically debited from your bank account, so withdrawals can happen without you noticing. If it seems like these are just passive activities, try and decide if they are worth staying on. For most cases, it is better for you to just cancel that membership and utilize that extra money for something you actually enjoy.

Resist those Impulse Buys

Making expensive purchases on a whim can quickly diminish your savings. We have all been in that situation where we see something that catches our eyes and immediately have the impulse to buy. While satisfying as it may be, you must resist that temptation. To prevent this from happening, go into your stores with an overall inventory list of what you actually need. This will prevent you from loading your cart with unwanted buys.

Pay in Full

When it comes to credit card debt, it is important that you pay in full. Yes, there will be times where you cannot pay the full amount. But making only minimum payments on your credit card will be a disservice to you and your financial future. By paying the minimum amount, you are adding years to your payoff date. In addition, the interest compound increases making it almost impossible to get out of debt if this continues. Make sure you allocate your funds in paying off your debt. Yes, this will require a big sacrifice, especially for those social activities. But, it is also absolutely necessary to get you on track in building a healthier financial future.

The One Piece of Advice for all Millennials

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No matter whom you ask, a majority of the general public wants to feel financially secure. The only problem is that there are only a few individuals who are willing to do what is absolutely necessary to create it the necessary steps for a financially healthy future. For most case scenarios, it comes down to that mentality and overall strategy that helps shape not just a person’s professional trajectory, but also an individual’s personal finance. To put it in an even greater context, the lack of drive can be due to a strong ‘subconscious’ disconnect between desire and action. This generally happens because many people feel complacent or apathetic about their overall career or financial situation that they decide not to take action. Whatever is the case, make sure you do not allow this to happen to you. One thing you should always keep in mind is your future. What you do today can have a significant impact on your life tomorrow. To help you on your path, you need to take that action.

Now to take action, it usually requires a strong internal understanding of where you currently are and where you want to be. By creating these tangible goals, you will be able to establish the overarching steps and objectives necessary to keep you on track in the best possible way. Start doing this by evaluating your career. For many millennials, they make the mistake of thinking their first job is just a job. While I can never predict what is in store for your future, you should accumulate the necessary skills and business-oriented mentality to leverage for your next job or future promotion. By developing and fostering your own professional skills, you are paving a path that is essential for your financial success.

As you continue to grow, you want to make sure you are cognizant of the values and importance of money. One of the biggest mistakes millennials and young professionals make is that they lack the strong foundational understanding of saving. Like many millennials today, you probably doubt the idea that you can save, live, and breathe easy with student loan debt and bills piling every minute of the day. While it is true that student debt can restrain you from your financial goals, it does not mean that it is impossible. To start, begin figuring out how to divide your monthly income way. Remember, some things you need, others you want, and the few are just dreams. Know your limitations. That type of mentality will help prevent any chances of overspending on discretionary items or under-saving for important investment purchases. In addition, try to find opportunities where you can increase your savings. While it may be difficult to conceptualize this, especially with an entry-level salary, you need to understand that you will not be in that particular position forever. Knowing that will help you make specific decisions, even educational decisions like graduate school, on your journey for wealth.

Now to fully grasp control of your finances, it is imperative that you create a plan and establish auto payments for your debt and other expenses. In addition, try and utilize this with your savings itself. Having that type of plan will not only control your debt, but also reduce your temptation to spend an entire paycheck. For many young professionals, they have the tendency to spend on lavish and unnecessary items. Having these systems in place will control any urges and put you on the direct path in establishing your financial future.

While this may seem overwhelming, as it should be, try and educate yourself on the on-goings of personal finance. Read particular books or articles to keep you up to date on the various products out there. Try and even see if there is anyone at your company to speak about the particular financial options that are offered to you. Remember, knowledge is power. Today’s knowledge has the opportunities you are looking for. Control it and you will be able to gain more opportunities and advancement for your future.

Everything you need to know about the Brexit

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On June 23rd, 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. While the actual cessation of membership in the EU will unlikely to happen before 2018, the news itself has led many investors, especially those in the United States to sell their stocks in fear of a plummeting market.

While there have been various talks about Britain leaving the European Union in the past, it was hard to conceptualize that the actual act may be put into place. The referendum, a vote in which everyone of voting age can take part in, was held on June 23rd where the ‘leave’ won by 52% to 48%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting. But to understand the overall gravity of this move, we have to understand the importance of the European Union.

The European Union, often known as the EU, is an economic and political partnership involving twenty-eight European countries. It began after World War II to foster an efficient and effective economic co-operation, with the idea that countries that trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with one another. Since World War II, the EU has grown to become a single market, allowing goods and people to move around as if the member states were one single country. This was also attributed with the EU’s own currency, the Euro where it is heavily and traditionally used by its members.

Now for the U.K. to leave the EU, it has to invoke an agreement called Articles 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which gives the two sides two years to agree on the terms of the split. While the U.K. government itself has campaigned against leaving the EU, warning the Brexit would kill U.K. jobs and plunge the country into a recession and create currency turbulence, the people and the powers above have made it adamantly clear about the split.

As for the economic warning for the Brexit, there was a dramatic fall in the value of the pound against the dollar and in share prices in the immediate aftermath of the vote. Britain also lost its top AAA credit rating, meaning the cost of government borrowing will be higher. While international relations and investments are still up in the air, the share prices in the U.K. had seemed to recover. Still, the overall ramifications this can have are something that the general public cannot ignore. Not only has the value of the pound have fallen greatly, but also the day-to-day spending impact is likely to be more significant. Even if the pound regains some of its value, currency experts have already expected it to remain at least 10% below where it was on June 23rd. Now the price rises may not kick in immediately.

While many people are asking if there can be a second referendum, the chances for that voting to happen seem highly unlikely. As for now, all we can do is watch and wait to see the over impacts Brexit can have on the rest of the world.

The Brilliance of a Summer Intern

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‘They hopefully arrive without battle scars, judgmental opinions, negativity, sarcasm or jadedness. The glass for each of them is not only half full, it is overflowing with optimism and excitement about the future.”

Starting this summer, many private sector businesses and nonprofit organizations will have a new crop of interns beginning their summer internship programs. As new as these novices maybe to the overall business world, their excitement and energy is something that incredibly admired by managers, supervisors, and CEOs alike.

For starters, these youthful go-getters are of course the brightest among their peers. But what make them stand out are not simply their resumes. Instead, it is their overarching professional goals that set them a part from the crowd. This, in turn, personifies their optimism and willingness to learn each and everyday as an intern during these next ten-to-fifteen weeks.

Now for these particular internships, these young professionals view this as the very beginning of a long and successful career. They see every task, every conversation, and every interaction and experience as a window of opportunity to grow and develop both personally and professionally. But what truly set them apart are the three statements below:

  1. They listen eagerly.
  2. They take risk.
  3. They build and instill confidence for the future.

For many businesses and companies, finding this type of high-level caliber is not just a challenge, but also a constant battle each and everyday. The reason why is that having the ability to listen actively, take risk, and personify confidence in every task that you do can be a daunting experience. But for these remarkable interns, this is simply second nature.

When it comes to listening, they are not just there to hear the on-going operations of the day-to-day. Instead, they actively listen to learn the tricks of the trade in order to build up their own professional skills later down the line. By absorbing various advice and tips from other professionals, especially those higher up in the hierarchy, they will be able to refine various steps in reaching their professional goals.

But listening is not just the only key factor. Instead, taking a risk and putting your knowledge into action is what can define who you will be after graduation. At many of these internships, these individuals are not looked at as children. Instead, they are seen as the future of the company. Because of their value, various supervisors and managers want to make sure they are cultivating a strong foundation for them to return in the future. By taking a risk and assuming more responsibilities, these neophytes can build both a stronger relationship and work experience each and everyday. But that type of execution cannot be done without the confidence and belief in themselves. At many of these roles such as a summer analyst or a summer associate, many of these individuals will be asked to go beyond their comfort zone and perform task that surpass their job description. While some may falter at the idea, many of these interns flourish with confidence in learning and executing to the best of their abilities.

With that said, summer will always be an exciting time for many big businesses, especially those within the financial sector. In football, you have the college season and the draft. For businesses, we have the summer and fall applications. The only question you can ask you is this: What can you do to cultivate this type of talent?

Basic Income in the United States

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Depending on who you ask, you’ll get some varied numbers as to how much the United States as a nation spends each year on welfare and other systems of poverty relief. Some sources claim is about $1 trillion, while others say the figure is significantly lower. Regardless of which side you’re inclined to agree with, the numbers are staggering.

Amidst the trials and tribulations that surround the economic situation the United States has found itself in recently, one question has begun to pick up momentum as of late.

What would happen if the United States adopted the system of basic income?

The short answer is that, well, no one knows for sure.

The long answer takes a little more explanation.

According to BasicIncome.org, the term is defined as “an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement.” Boiled down, basic income (also called “unconditional basic income” or “universal basic income” is simply money paid to citizens each month simply for living. Basic income doesn’t differentiate between the rich and the poor, the employed and the unemployed or demographic data; it is simply a check made out in your name each month courtesy of Uncle Sam.

The idea seems completely nonsensical at first glance. Giving out free money to people won’t solve their problems. The pervasive idea that seems to follow welfare and unemployment-aid recipients is that they’re either lazy, addicted to drugs/alcohol or simply gaming the system. The idea goes that giving those people free money would feed their habits, not the mouths of their children. However, studies have shown that this isn’t necessarily true; people do in fact work and attempt to provide for themselves and their families, even when they are on financial benefit programs.

Often, this money comes from taxes on the public and is integrated into a country’s already existing social welfare systems (medicaid, food stamps, etc). This raises the ire of many opposers to the idea of a basic income, as the idea of paying directly into someone else’s pockets tends not to sit well with many people.

Small scale basic income rollouts have been largely successful. Minor pilot programs have been run in impoverished countries around the world, giving unconditional monetary aid to those who needed it the most in Brazil and Kenya. GiveDirectly, a charity started in 2009, provides directly cash deposits to people living in Uganda and Kenya.

No country yet provides a universal basic income to its citizens by any means, though Switzerland has recently tossed around the idea. Because of the large cost, nearly the entirety of the Swiss government has rejected the idea as too expensive and unrealistic.

With limited research and hard experimentation on the subject a basic income rollout in the United States seems entirely unlikely. The radical idea does, however, have the support of many European citizens, where the idea of basic income has been in the news for some time now.

It’s easy to see why the United States might not be the best country to launch a basic income pilot program. The large population and comparatively large unemployment rate don’t bode well for a basic income implementation any time in the near future.

Though the idea is radical and, more than likely entirely unrealistic, it’s worth keeping a close eye on countries like Switzerland as the idea is passed through the government.

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