April 17th, 2014

Financial Literacy: Learning to Balance Your Checkbook

Written By Nik Halik

Wealth Creation

Learning to balance the checkbook is an essential aspect of personal finance that so many people tend to ignore. Consumer statistics taken recently on the aspect of check balancing shows that only 2 out of every 10 persons balance their checkbooks dutifully, to the last penny. One of the great habits for learning to be a better money manager is balancing of checkbooks. Unfortunately, a larger part of the American population does not care to keep a record of the amount on the checks they issue. While some will try to do it at one time and give up along the way, a larger number of people don’t even try at all.

In fact, when it comes to balancing of check, different categories of people exist. In addition to the cases mentioned above, you will find other cases such as those that only balance their checks for the purpose of taxes. However, there was an era where people rarely forget to balance their checks. Does it mean that check balancing has become old-fashioned?

What it Means to Balance Your Checkbook

When you adopt a regular practice in checking your checkbook records to see if it corresponds with bank’s record (in your monthly bank statement), this is known as checkbook balancing. This task is as essential as other aspects of personal finance. Although different methods of balancing checkbooks may be available in this electronic era, the practice still remains the same.

Why Do You Need to Balance Your Checkbooks

No doubts, banks process thousands of transactions and barely record any error in doing so. However, it is possible for mistakes to occur. Regardless of the sophisticated electronic gadgets employed by banks in processing transactions, it is possible for errors to occur due to human input (when entering the information). Typically, any discrepancy in your bank statement should be reported to the bank within 60 days, after which there may be no further remedy. So, how can you dictate an error and send a report within 60 days when you don’t even balance your checkbook on a monthly basis?

Also, balancing your checkbook will help you spot any calculation error while making entries in your checkbook register. If you have to scout through several months of transaction to sort out transaction problems at a any point, it would be an uphill task because of piled up unbalanced checks. But, spotting a transaction issue is easier when your checks are being balanced every other month. By not embarking on regular check balancing, a lot of people end up in making huge mess of their checkbooks. Some even had to open new accounts and close up old ones due to the magnitude of the mess resulting from not balancing their checkbooks.

It is sad that basic personal financial management such as check balancing is no longer taught in school. We hope that the recent campaign on financial literacy will incorporate this essential aspect of personal finance in the curriculum.

April 16th, 2014

Travel and Adventure: How to Book a Cruise

Written By Nik Halik

Inspirational Articles

Cruise adventure is one of the attractions of travel adventure and vacation trips. In other to catch great fun with cruise trip, you need to plan ahead of time. Luckily, you will easily find tools that will help you plan your cruise adventure. According to travel pros and agents, you may need up to 6 months to plan for a cruise adventure travel. In fact, for the more popular tourists’ and vacation spots in the world, a year planning may be necessary to get a cruise space in such locations. In essence, you would need to plan and book for a cruise much early.

Here are some factors to consider when trying to book a cruise;

  • First, explore the wide range of cruises available and decide on what would appeal to you most.
  • Would you want a cruise with stops at various locations?
  • Would you want to decide on your cruise destination?

 A great way to find help with your choice of cruise trip is to visit a local travel agent. Fortunately, you don’t need to make physical movements to the local travel agencies, log on to the web and explore a local travel agency. There are different lengths of time for cruises, you can find mostly two weeks or a week long cruise.

Other areas of concerns when trying to choose and book a cruise is the weather condition in your targeted destination. For instance, cruising to certain locations during hurricane or rainy seasons may be risky. Therefore, if you have a particular cruise location in mind, ensure that you take off your cruise trip during favorable weather conditions.

 You need to look into the aspect of budget as well. Cruise travel brochures may provide valuable information to this effect. However, it is better to make up your mind on what cost is convenient for you in order to get a cruise adventure. Don’t forget to also add up other trip expenses such as air tickets, shopping and other essential expenses. If you are strictly on budget, you should try as much as possible to keep your cruise adventure affordable.

Shopping for price is one of the great ways to land great deal on cruise trip. So, do not settle for the first travel agent that comes your way. Explore as many as possible and decide which one offers the best price, putting every aspect into consideration. Do not just settle for offers at face value. Read in-between lines to find out possible hidden ‘clauses’ associated with the offer.

 Once you’ve played your own part and have prepared adequately for your cruise trip, the rest will be fun and adventure galore for you.

April 15th, 2014

Financial Literacy: Getting Started with Investing

Written By Nik Halik

Wealth Creation

Perhaps you are one of those people who simply marvel when others around you talk about their investments, especially someone you know what his monthly income is. Then you start wondering, where on earth do individuals get money to invest, and who helped them in their investment decisions. Personal investing is an essential part of personal finance.

You really do not need to be a pro or know all the investment terms in order to get started with investing. You can simply start with the basics of personal investing and grow gradually. So, do not let the bulk of information associated with investing keep you from taking a giant stride into investing.  Most times, people tend to be deterred by the risks involved in investing, it shouldn’t be so.

Now, before you can go into investing, you must take care of your outstanding debts. For instance, it is completely meaningless investing in mutual bonds, stocks and bonds when your credit card debt is not under control. This is not implying that you must pay all your debts before investing. However, your credit card debt interest rate must not go over 10%. In all, you must make serious effort to make payments towards your debt, at least every other month. Also, the interest rate on the debt should be low.

Again, in preparation for investing, you are expected to have emergency funds stored up, and such fund should be able to take care of your 3 months basic living expenses if it happens that you lost your job suddenly or become disabled. Experts advice that 6 months worth of living expenses should be kept as emergency funds.

Getting Started with Investing – Where to Get the Fund

Investment exists in various levels. You don’t need to be a super-rich person to invest. You can find a good number of stock mutual bonds that you can invest in for less amount of money, less than $1,000. So, you can budget for such level of investment and start out from there. If you really mean to invest, you can forgo some unnecessary luxuries and re-channel the fund into stocks and bonds. Some of your colleagues that boast about their investments had to delay gratification by investing their bonus payment, rather than going for name-brand items.

Choosing an Investment

When you are set to embark on an investment, you must determine how long you would be comfortable to have the money tied down in the item invested on. This is particularly true about stocks that are better off when they are held for a longer time.

In the next post, you will learn about investment risk and how to determine your risk tolerance. You will also learn how to make a choice of investment.