How Much Should You Save for Retirement?

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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.

Why Online Dating Makes Sense for Single People Living in the U.S.

eharmony free trialThe 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 people with a more broad focus, and Eharmony for people who are interested in a long-term, serious relationship such as marriage. 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 page to visit is http://onlinedatingtrials.com/eharmony.php. 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.

Options for Dating in the Internet Age

match.com online dating profileI'd like to stay on the topic of dating today, and expand on talk on Internet dating options, which I already talked a bit about recently. 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.

Where to Buy E-Liquids Online

e-liquid flavors from vista vaporsOne 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, Vaporfi and Vista Vapors. All of these 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 Vaporfi Coupon Code). Equally important, all 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. All 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.

A Smart Way to Play Video Games

united states of video games

There's no question that there are quite a few video games that I like owning. These are the games you return to year after year and that you enjoy playing occasionally, even many years after they've been released. But I've also run into many situations where I purchase a game, play it a few times, and end up never playing it again. Such games end up being expensive, since I usually pay $50 or more for the newer releases. In the past, I've been able to recoup some of that money by selling games online, most often using Ebay. But needless to say, doing that on a routine basis can definitely become a bit of a hassle.

Renting games is one solution to this, but until recent years, there were not many great options in this regard. Blockbuster used to have video games, but as we all know, that company went bankrupt and you can no longer find any stores. Redbox likewise offers game rentals. The only problem is that you pay by the day, and the cost can get on the high side if you keep the game for any length of time. The answer to all these issues, for me, has been an Internet service called Gamefly.

Perhaps you've heard of Gamefly, or perhaps you haven't. It is a popular site among gamers, and it allows you to rent video games by mail. They currently have over 8000 games, which is quite a nice selection and one that is large enough that you'll never run out of things to rent, especially in light of the fact that new games are added continuously each year. What's more, Gamefly usually has good availability for the newly released titles.

Some people disagree with me, but I find the service to be inexpensive. If you only want to rent out one game at a time, it only costs $16 each month, and you are allowed to cancel at any time. They will let you try the service for 30 days with a Gamefly free trial. I got mine from this URL: http://freetrialspot.com/gamefly.php. That is what I did when I was first checking out the service. To be honest with you, I was not even sure if I would keep the service, but ended up doing so because the site was easy to use and they delivered games pretty quickly, which was an added bonus for me.

When You Should Use Professional Printing

printing service

Big companies use professional printing services all the time. Such services are used for banners, posters, menus, brochures, postcards, and many other business-related items. And it's usually not a problem for large companies to shell out the kind of money required to get quality, professional printing done. But what about smaller businesses?

For small to medium businesses, the cost of professional printing can be prohibitive. A simple direct marketing campaign, for example, can easily run $10,000 or more with a large chunk of that money paying for printing costs. That's why it's important for small businesses to shop around when looking for a printing company, and make sure they are getting the absolute best deal possible.

The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to turn to online printing services like Print Place. This can be a big benefit to small businesses in two ways. First, companies like Printplace provide personalized services and can assist with things like design and mailing. Such assistance can be crucial for small companies that don't have the expertise to handle such things on their own. Second, Printplace does a great job with the printing itself, and charges affordable prices. I always use Printplace coupons when I place my order and by doing so, I easily save anywhere from 10 - 50% on my orders.

Or course, there are other printing companies aside from Printplace that are worth considering as well. Who you choose in part depends on the type of printing you need to have done. For typical business printing, I prefer Printplace myself. But sometimes, businesses need more specialized printing done on pens, t-shirts, and other products. For such printing, I usually turn to Vistaprint. Finally, if I want custom, personalize printing on clothing items, I like to use Cafepress myself. Therefore, it's important for you to research a number of printing companies upfront, so you know which company to turn to when ordering printing services.

Professional printing is not always necessary. If you have a good printer and can get cheap ink, then doing your own printing can sometimes be a very economical solution. Anything you print on your own will not look as professional as something printed by a printing service, but the upside is that you will definitely save money.

Getting custom bags and boxes at a reasonable price

bags and bows products

Bags, boxes, and any other king of packaging is the perfect opportunity to sell your brand. While you can brand your business to some degree using traditional printing services (which I discussed in an earlier article), there are definitely times when you need a much more customized options.

This can be the case with things like shopping bags or boxes for chocolate, among many other items. Having your company name or logo on such products is like free marketing, and you should definitely take advantage of such opportunities.

When it comes time to get boxes or bags, it's important not to cut corners. A cheap bag or box will imply things about your business that are not at all favorable.

For this reason, I recommend using a slightly pricey but well-known company called Bags and Bows. When you visit the store, you will instantly notice that their products are a cut above the rest. In addition to selling high-quality products, Bags and Bows also provides a very wide assortment of products, thus ensuring that regardless of what type of bag or box you may need, you'll find it at their store.

If you customize your product with your logo or artwork, the cost per bag will rise a bit. To help mitigate this, I recommend that you search for a Bags and Bows coupon code before you place your order. Most of the time, I am able to find a promo code for at least 15% off by doing a search online.

Don't worry about how your product will turn out if you customize it, since the store will assign a consultant to your order, and he or she will make sure that the product ends up looking exactly the way you want.

While there are other ecommerce stores that sell packaging materials, none of them are as good as Bags and Bows in my opinion. I therefore encourage you to give this excellent store a try.