We all want a secure retirement, but how many of us are saving enough to ensure a stable future?
While most people will agree about the importance of putting away money for retirement, quite a few are confused or completely in the dark about how much they need to save. Fortunately, there are some simple guidelines you can use to better understand what your financial needs will be.
If you are looking for something easy to follow, you should begin saving before the age of 30 and open up an IRA, 401K, or other retirement account where you can put away your funds. Then, use one of the following figures to determine how much to save:
1. 15% of your gross income
This method is simple and will work for most people. First, determine how much you make each year, and simply multiply that number by .15. Therefore, if you make $50,000 a year, 15% of your gross income will be $7500. Note that you should use pre-tax income figures.
2. 20% of your take-home pay
If your income situation is complex, or if you pay a high percentage of taxes, use 20% of your take home pay instead of 15% of your gross pay. Regardless of which formula you use, you should end up saving around the same amount of money.
If you began to save money in your 20s, you may be able to get away with putting away less than 15-20% of your income. On the other hand, if you began saving late (in your 40s, for example) you should raise the percentage and save a greater percentage of your income.
Next, you need to decide where to invest your money. For most people, the most sensible investments will be mutual funds and bonds. In general, you want a greater percentage of your investments to be in stocks while you are young, and then move more money to bonds as you get older and near retirement. Once you are over 50, I believe you should only have about half or your money in stocks. However, some people may be more aggressive or conservative. It all boils down to what your risk tolerance is.
When picking mutual funds, it's important to select the best rated funds. One service you can use to determine what the best funds are is Morningstar, which rates all the major mutual funds out there. One other way to invest in the stock market without much hassle is to buy something called and exchange traded fund (ETFs). You can use ETFs to invest in most of the market benchmarks, like the Dow Jones Indexes, the S&P 500, and others.
Now, if you want to get more exact numbers on how much to save, you should use a couple of the retirement calculators online. I like the retirement calculators available at Bankrate. These calculators will help you calculate everything from how much to save to life expectancy.
Roth or Traditional IRA
Many people struggle with deciding whether to invest in a Roth or Non-Roth IRA. In general, if you make a lot of money, you want to use a traditional IRA. This way, you'll be able to write off your IRA contributions and get more money back when you file your taxes. On the other hand, if your income is lower than what you think it may be once you retire, you are better off putting money in a Roth IRA.
If your employer allows you to have a 401K, you should be using that account for your retirement savings. In most cases, 401Ks will allow you to save more money compared to regular IRAs. In addition, your employer may match contributions that you make. If this is the case, you should definitely contribute enough money to your 401K each year to get the maximum matched funds from your employer.
As you can see, saving for retirment requires a lot of knowledge and planning. Don't be shy to speak with a financial advisor if your financial and tax situation is complex. A good advisor will be able to help you come up with a solid, customized plan to ensure you have a bright future.
The other day, I spoke with someone who turned 36 and was bemoaning the fact that he was still single. I suggested to that person that he join an online dating site such as Christian Mingle. However, he was quite reluctant, believing that it felt too artificial to meet someone through what he considered to be an online market for singles.
The way I see it, the only real consideration is whether or not online dating works. There have been a number of studies indicating that people who meet through dating sites are happier and that their relationships are more likely to stand the test of time. So as far as I am concerned, online dating is a superior way to meet someone.
I think most of the reluctance among some single people such as the individual I spoke of earlier, is due to old-fashioned ways of looking at the world. Part of the resistance may stem from an idealized notion that you're supposed to meet your soul mate by fate. The idea of technology assisting in people meeting is also a newer notion that older people may not be completely comfortable with. But In time, I believe online dating will become widely accepted and be perceived as perfectly "normal."
If you want to join a dating site, I recommend Christian Mingle for Christians, and something like Match.com (which I talk about in another post) for everyone else. These sites offer free trials that will help you decide whether you want to pay for a membership. If you want to get free trials for dating sites, one great site you can visit is Onlinedatingtrials.com. It's of course always a good idea to use such free trial offers from a few sites before deciding which site you want to join.
One of the things that the Internet has impacted greatly is the way we socialize or interact with each other. It wasn't long ago that the only interactions people had with each other were mostly face to fact or over the phone. Today, it's possible to have video chats with people all over the world, and it usually costs next to nothing. Both businesses and individuals have taken advantage of this fact.
Dating is also something that has been facilitated by the Internet. While it's true that many people still prefer meeting people offline, the younger generation has definitely cottoned onto the idea of finding a date online. Online encounters can happen in many different ways. A lot of people are connecting through online games or social media sites. Nevertheless, I believe dating sites such as Match.com are still the best option for single people who are in search for love.
While you may be tempted to pick a dating site based on the features a site has, I would caution against this approach. In the end, it matters not how fancy a site is. Success in online dating boils down to two things, as far as I'm concerned. First, a site must have a lot of members. This is critical, because the more people you interact with, the higher your chances of finding someone you click with. Second, it's important that the membership community is active. Many sites boasts millions of members, but the majority of the members throw up a profile and never come back. You want to join a site where the members log in and interact on a daily basis.
Match.com is the one site that fits both criteria. While it's hard to know the exact number of members Match.com has, estimates range in the millions. Along with eHarmony, Match.com is probably one of the most well-known dating sites in the country. And from using the site myself, I can attest to the fact that the membership is relatively active. You don't have to take my word for it, however. Some sites like Couponleaf.com allow you to obtain a 72-hour Match.com free trial. This will allow you to interact with Match.com members free of charge, allowing you to gauge for yourself how active the communitiy is.
You should never close the doors to other avenues of meeting people, but if you are looking to get into a relationship, a dating site is the most logical place to start online. Thus, I encourage you to join Match.com and perhaps a couple other prominent dating websites to get the ball rolling. It may take a bit of time, but if you keep at it, I believe almost anyone should be able to find a match on the Internet.
One thing e-cigarette users need a lot of is e-liquid (also known as e-juice). E-liquid is the liquid that contains nicotine and flavoring, and is used by all e-cigarettes. Users of tanks and clearomizers will need quite a bit of e-liquid, as such setups deplete the liquid more quickly than a standard e-cigarette cartomizer might. Because of this, it's crucial that you find a good e-liquid store online that offers low prices, such as Vista Vapors.
The most important thing for most e-cigarettes users when choosing an e-liquid is the flavoring. Everything else, such as the amount of nicotine in the liquid, or the PG/VG ratio, can pretty much be customized regardless of which e-liquid store you buy from. The flavoring, however, is where you take the risk. If you buy a large bottle and end up not liking the flavor, then you will have wasted money. For this reason, it's a good reason to get samples from e-liquid stores whenever possible. Some e-liquid stores offer sample packs with five or more small bottles containing different e-liquids.
One thing that must be emphasized is that all e-liquids need to be stored for a period of time before being used. This process is called steeping, and if you skip this step, the flavor will not be good. I don't know the science behind it, but you must "age" your e-liquid first if you want the best flavor. Fortunately, this process usually only takes one or two weeks.
So what are the best online stores for e-liquids? Right now, I have two that I really like: ECblend and Vista Vapors. Both stores offer very low prices for their e-liquids, and also offers coupon codes and discounts you can use to get a really good price (You can use the following link to receive a Vista Vapors Coupon Code). Equally important, both of these stores offer hundreds of flavors you can try out. If you own a blog or do reviews on YouTube, you may even be able to get free samples from these companies. If you don't want to get samples, then the next best way to select a flavor is by reading the reviews. Both of these sites have many customers, and as a result, you can read reviews for almost all of the popular flavors. If you choose a flavor without having tried it, I recommend you first buy the smallest size bottle. This way, even if you end up not liking that particular flavor, you will only have spent a small amount of money.