Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Ugly (Financial) Side of Retirement

Retirement. The very word conjures up images of lying around the house, dozing in the hammock, sipping iced tea. Or maybe you prefer a more active dream of daily golf or fishing. Whatever you imagine, it's unlikely you'll consider the ugly side of retirement that few people mention. This is the side that anyone who hasn't prepared financially for retirement can tell you about.

Instead of those lazy, relaxing, enjoyable days, or even the more active ones where you get to do what you choose, this side of retirement is a different picture altogether. It's one of limited income, financial stress, the worry over paying for your medicine or buying groceries. This side of retirement is not only ugly, it's frightening as well. The good news is, with some simple planning, you never have to encounter this unwelcome guest as you age.

Retirement is a part of life, but because age seems so far down the road, too few of us plan for it properly. We may start a 401K, but then we change jobs and cash it out. Or we may start a CD, but when it matures, we use the money for something else. We have good intentions to plan for this inevitable day, but too often we only aim and never shoot where our financial future is concerned.

One way to overcome this demoralizing time in life is to begin now, today, to plan. Even if you can only put away $50 a month, or $25 a month, put something away right now for your retirement. Don't count on the government to support you. They can't even support themselves. Instead, take action on your own behalf and start a separate account, then begin to stash a little money away every month, or ever week. This will become your small retirement fund when the day arrives.

Another way to plan for your retirement is to do your level best to get out of debt completely. If you must maintain a mortgage payment, try to get it as low as possible, but if there is anyway to pay off even the mortgage do so. It will be worth the sacrifice when the day of your retirement comes and you don't have to worry about a place to live.

Financial Expert, Dave Ramsey, says you have to live like no one else now, so that you can live like no one else later. In the world of retirement planning, that means cutting corners, saving money and living more frugally now so you can enjoy your retirement years later without a heavy financial burden hanging over your head.

Retirement is often called the "golden years." And that can be true. But only if you plan for it and do your utmost to ensure you are financially stable by the time that day arrives. Who knows... if you plan well enough, you might even be able to squeeze in a few golf games now and then if you've a mind to.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Supplementing The Cost of Education: How To Find Ways to Pay For Your Schooling

The biggest cost of education is the tuition, plain and simple. Some universities charge an average of 40 thousand dollars a year, and that's on the low end. Just because a person can take out tens of thousands of dollars doesn't necessarily mean that they should. There are a lot of ways to build up your income and save money for school without going into debt for decades to come. There are jobs and programs that are designed to help with this burden. So in order to invest in your future, consider one of the following options to build up your resources.

Many programs offer assistantships. These are usually designed for people looking to get their master's degree. A person usually applies for this. It's like a job where a person, while going to school, works as a professors' assistant and helps them with a wide variety of things anywhere from, making copies to managing email databases. It's usually not very taxing work but it depends on the department as well as the professor you're working for. The job is often located in the same department you're trying to get your master's degree in. In return for your services, you're tuition is paid for the duration of your degree.

For those who have yet to get their bachelor's degree, there's a government assistant program called a Federal Pell Grant. These are usually designed for students whose collective family income is below 20 thousand dollars. This means your mother and father's combined income. It's important to note that many families with incomes below 50 thousand are often eligible as well. The award varies but it usually ranges anywhere from 4 hundred to 4 thousand. This is all depending on your level of need. Though this won't pay for your entire tuition costs, it's free government money that can go a long way.

Some more industrious youths might consider investing in the stock market. The operation of the stock market is basic but the details aren't. It's usually best to consult investment web sites, like, to glean professional information on the different kinds of stocks that are out there. From short-term speculative stocks to more long-term investment opportunities, the stock market might be the perfect place for you to build up your resources and pay down or pay off burdensome tuition costs.

With the cost of tuition raising every year and incomes and job levels staying stagnant, it's up to every individual to make their way but it's important to realize that there is help out there. Some approaches are more proactive than others but one of these options might work for you. The Internet is always a wealth of information and there are many other possibilities and avenues out there for people willing to put in the effort and time to get the necessary funds.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Renewable Energy Always A Safe Bet, Especially with the Government Helping Out

In late 2009 the United States Treasury Department set aside $2.2 billion dollars for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds. These bonds were meant only for 805 different entities; none even remotely close to what you would consider your humble level of power brokering. But this kind of massive investment with government technology does show that the Feds are serious about clean energy. Since most any expert will tell you that climate change isn't going away anytime soon, keep your entrepreneurial ears perked for future federal action regarding clean and renewable energy investment.

If there is any industry that will be receiving massive boosts in their technological prowess at the hands of the U.S. government, it will be any industry that commits to alternative sources of fuel. This isn't just exclusive to already established energy powerhouses like Edison or super researchers like DuPont. While now in the midst of a global economic recovery we may see only the head honchos get the big bucks to invest in energy innovation, there will be plenty of demand for small business ventures to pick up the slack in the years ahead.

But why? New companies are more likely to hire people than institutions that already have an established staff and the means to lower personnel costs. With unemployment at a virtual standstill and that number likely to rise as much as it does fall over the next several years, the government is going to be very concerned with the amount of job creation entities promise to commit to in return for the ability to utilize government assets. The off-chance that your little company might figure out a way to drive a car on water faster than Ford is worth giving the funds to you as long as you're hiring.

If you're in no position to be starting your own energy research business, which is pretty understandable, then look into investing into these companies yourself, for the reasons just mentioned. A company in your hometown might just be a few years off from being in the position to receive these kinds of funds. If you can help them get there then figuring out the impossible task of carrying your investment yourself from start to finish is no longer an issue.

Good investments are made on things that can be foreseen for years to be necessary and also in fixing things that are clearly going to be problems. By this definition there is no investment more secure than one made into the pursuit for clean and renewable energy. Consider it the World War Two to our Great Depression...the War on Fossil Fuels will be what brings our nation out from the Great Recession. In fact, the investments made into renewable energy may be what brings the whole world out from the ongoing wars and depressions that have plagued humankind since, well, ever.

That sounds like one heck of a place to put my money. You bet?