Retiring and Your Finances: Ways to Keep Your Cash Flow and Credit Going

Written by Georgina Taylor

Retirement is a great thing to look forward to: you’ll be able to spend more time doing what you love and you won’t have to worry about the daily responsibilities a life-long career requires. Once retired you will be in control of your time and free to be as active or relaxed as you choose. Yes, the best days are yet to come.

Unfortunately, many people are not financially prepared to live a life without having to work for a living. Without enough money coming in to pay the bills and still have some left over for you, you may find yourself in a downward spiral that affects your credit score, making it harder to find relief. Managing your finances on a fixed income is the most important thing you can do in retirement so you can enjoy the fruits of your labors. Here are some helpful hints.

Know Your Budget

Knowing exactly how much money you need every month to live is very important. This will help keep you from failing to pay loans, credit card debts or mortgages that you are responsible for.

First, figure out how much you will need for living expenses: house payments, food, insurance, gas and electric, phone, internet, any medicines you pay for – anything you cannot miss a payment on. Secondly, choose an amount to set aside each month for emergencies: you never know when you’ll need access to cash because of an accident or other unforeseeable event. One rule of thumb says you should set aside enough to cover all your expenses for six months. Finally, think about any short-term investments you want to make and set aside a little for those.

Everything left over is yours to do as you please.

Keep Your Credit Score Up

By paying your bills on time, you lessen the risk of your credit dropping in retirement. This can help you for future purchases, like finally buying that dream vacation home or helping your grandchildren through college.

Although you’ll be on a fixed income, make sure to pay off debts as soon as you can to avoid problems. Even though you are retired it is important to keep your score high. Should you need to improve your score, there is software to improve your credit score. The service provides you with credit reports from agencies, identity theft tools, as well as various reports, charts and graphs to assist you in your efforts.

Don’t let your credit score slip just because you retire: stay on top of everything and you’ll have plenty of great days ahead.

Look for Ways to Reduce Fees

Surcharges and fees for basic things like bank accounts and credit cards should be a big no-no during retirement. A few fees here and there can really add up if you are on a fixed income.

Look for ways to eliminate fees by using newer technology. Find a bank that offers free direct deposit so you can have all of your checks go into the account without a yearly fee. You can also choose online banking to move money around without penalties. If you use a credit card why not one gives you points toward future purchases? The more ways you can find to eliminate fees, the better your financial situation will be.

Consider a Reverse Mortgage

If you are over 62, you may qualify for a reverse mortgage, which will allow you to forgo your mortgage payments. This is a great way for older retirees to save some cash to use for other bills and purchases.

With a reverse mortgage you use the equity built up in your home to pay for your loan, so the more equity you have, the better. This can really take the burden of a large monthly payment off of your shoulders so you can enjoy your retirement. If you take a reverse mortgage, although you won’t have any payments you will still be responsible for property taxes and your homeowner’s insurance.

Open Direct Deposit

Chances are, once you retire you will be receiving money from several different sources. You may have a pension or 401K that you draw from each month or dividends from stock or social security. If you don’t learn to manage these sources quickly, you may find yourself with less money than you planned.

Having each of these sources deposited directly into your savings or checking account eliminates the need to keep track of everything. Funds instantly arrive in your account the moment they are disbursed, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to deposit a check. This way, all of your money will be easily countable and retrievable, giving you one less thing to worry about so you can enjoy your retirement.

If you manage your money right, there’s no reason retirement can’t be a great time without financial worries!

Georgina Taylor works closely with those approaching retirement age to get their finances in order. She is a personal finance consultant for the over 50s and shares her knowledge around the web. 

Advice for Retirees Thinking of Trying Their Hand at Online Trading

Written by Kim Dawkins

If you do an internet search for online brokers, the number of search results returned is staggering. Choosing the best broker from those many options can be a daunting task. In order to separate reputable brokers from those with shady dealings, and strong ones from the weak, we have a series of steps to follow. Read on to learn more.

What To Watch Out For

1. Cost

The first on the list of important considerations is cost. The bottom line is high fees and commissions can lead to decreased returns. Keep in mind that different online brokers charge different fees for trading options, bonds, CDs, mutual funds and other financial markets. When trading mutual funds and ETFs, take into account the expense ratio. And watch out for the possibility of account service fees, maintenance fees, inactivity fees and other similar costs.

2. Research and Education Tools

Beginner investors can benefit from research and education tools provided by online brokers. These resources comprise a wide range of tutorials, reports, and other information. They help to make informed decisions about online trading and investment. There are several online investment companies out there like CMC Markets that provide in-depth research and education tools.

3. Customer Service

What if you need assistance in placing trades? What happens if there is a problem with the trading platform after placing your order? What if you have other questions? Quality, timely customer service is important when you have issues you need addressed. Online brokers with good customer service can be important in your online trading endeavors.

How To Pick A Good Online Broker

Picking the right online broker comes down to your preferences and priorities. Some online investors are willing to pay higher fees and commissions for a state-of-the-art platform while other take cost as the determining factor. Here are some areas to consider when picking your online broker:

1. Pay attention to account minimums.

The amount you want to invest in various financial markets may slim down your choices. A good online broker allows you to open an account with an amount you are comfortable with. Don’t get pressured into investing more than you are able and willing to.

2. Choose brokers with lower fees.

You won’t be able to avoid account fees completely, but with some careful research you can minimize them. Many online brokers charge a fee for closing your account or transferring out funds. If you are transferring funds to another broker, you may consider companies that reimburse some transfer fees.

3. Consider your trading style and technology needs.

Choose online brokers that offer the investment opportunities you want at the most reasonable price. If you are a beginner online trader, you may not plan to trade frequently. If this is the case, choose online brokers that don’t charge inactivity fees. Consider companies that offer technological tools to help make your online trading endeavors easier.

4. Look at ratings and customer service.

Take a close look at the ratings and customer service if you want to pick a good online broker. There are several review sites that offer comprehensive broker ratings that are objective and based on factors that matter most to consumers. These factors include, but are not limited to customer service, commissions, account minimums and fees.

Online Trading Scams

1. Hacking into your trading accounts

There are scammers out there with knowledge and technology to hack into your trading accounts by stealing your username and password. Once they have control of your account, they pretend to be you, able to make trades without your knowledge and generate huge profit for themselves. Secure password selection and management is something we all need to adopt as a part of doing business on line.

2. Email hacking

Some scammers may steal your email passwords which they use to access your email. Once they have access to your compromised email account, they might communicate with your broker to create a fake story to show why you need funds released.

How To Avoid Being Scammed

• Ensure your anti-spyware and anti-virus software are up-to-date.

• Use secure passwords that are difficult to guess, ones comprised of a mix of characters, numbers and symbols..

• Avoid using public computers or public Wi-Fi to log in to your accounts.

• Avoid public domain email address when you want to communicate trading instructions.

• Never save log-in details online or disclose them to anyone including your broker.

• Always monitor your online brokerage account.

• Regularly check trade confirmations provided by your online brokerage firm.