My Long Hiatus Finally Explained

Mover's AtlasIt’s been an awful long time since my last blog post, over a year ago actually. I didn’t intend for it to be this long and some of you may be wondering what happened or what I have been doing during this time instead.

Well, I am excited to share with you the side project, now business, I have been working on for the past year. Mover’s Atlas! A website dedicated to helping individuals moving to Florida or within Florida learn about an area online without actually having to visit.

The site is similar to Zillow or Trulia, less the houses, plus community info. We use a Google map based interface and allow users to toggle on and off different map features they are interested in. Some of the information we provide includes, schools & school grades, public parks, places of worship, safety information like the nearest police or fire station, and demographic info such as median household income and home ownership rate.

Those are just some examples, I encourage you to check out the site to see all we have to offer http://www.moversatlas.com/. If you do, let me know what you think , the more user feedback the better!

41% of U.S. adults give themselves a C, D or F on their knowledge of personal finance

I stumbled upon a great article over at Forbes yesterday that I thought was worthy of a post. It speaks to America’s lack of financial literacy and shares some eye opening results from various financial surveys taken in the past few years.

Financial Illiteracy Is Killing Us

My favorite quote of the article:

“The good news is that most college graduates are financially literate. The bad news is that only 28% of Americans graduate from college, leaving nearly three quarters ill-equipped to make critical financial decisions”.

The author makes a point to state that financial education needs to be taken more seriously in our schools and I agree 100%. What about you, do you think personal finance is something that should be given more emphasis in the educational system?

This Retirement Party is Coming to a Close

All good parties must come to an end, and this one is no exception. The old geezers of the group, grandma and grandpa Pension, are complaining that the music is too loud and that it’s past their bed time. They have however agreed to do one last meet and greet before this shindig wraps up. So without further ado it is my pleasure to introduce you to Mr. & Mrs. Pension (they are cranky so we will keep this short).

So what is it? Pensions are company sponsored retirement plans that provide retired employees with a fixed payout, usually paid monthly, for the remainder of their life. A common requirement is that the employee work for the sponsoring company for a specific period of time determined by the company (this is referred to as vesting) in order to qualify for the pension benefit.

How does it work? The employee first must sign up for the pension plan then complete a vesting period, usually 5-7 years of active employment, once complete they are entitled to a fixed benefit in retirement (age 65). The amount paid is usually determined by number of years worked for the company and salary level upon retirement or throughout the employee’s career. Traditionally pension plans do not require employee contributions, the employer provides all the funding, however there are some plans that may require employees to contribute.

  • Example[1]: Sam worked for Procter & Gamble for 30 years; his Pension plan states that he will be paid 2% of his average salary multiplied by the number of years worked for the company, each year once he retires. Sam’s average salary during his employment was $70k per year. To calculate his pension payment Sam multiplies 2% by his average salary ($70k) then multiplies the result by years worked (30) to get $42k (2% x $70k x 30). The result, once Sam retires he will receive $42k a year in pension benefits, or if paid monthly $3,500 a month for the rest of his life (pretty sweet deal in my opinion).

Important information to note: Over the past few decades pension plans have become scarcer, especially in the private sector mainly because of the high cost to maintain. With no employee contribution in many cases, and guaranteed befits, the employer must offset any market downturns to maintain the fixed benefits. It should be no surprise that direct contribution plans like the 401(k) have become the retirement vehicle of choice due to lower costs and the ability to pass the responsibility for retirement planning on to the individual employee.

So that about wraps it up for this retirement party, if you have any additional questions about pensions drop a comment below and I’m sure we can convince Mr. or Mrs. Pension to get back to you. If you missed all the action until now you can catch up here with the 401(k) and here with the IRA.

I hear there is an after party in the works for sometime next week, make sure to tell your friends (I hear Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are good ways to do that ;)) so they can catch up on all the action before it happens!


[1] This is a very simple example; the math behind the real calculations can be much more complex.

What is a Vesting Period?

A vesting period, when mentioned in reference to retirement plans, is the length of time an employee must work for a company before he or she can claim 100% of employer provided benefits. The term vesting period is most commonly used with retirement plans like a 401(k) or pension, but may also be used with stock options.

Example: My current employer requires that I work five years before I am 100% vested in my 401(k). This means if I leave and go to another company before that time I will forfeit my right to the employer contributions made to my 401(k). It doesn’t however mean I forfeit 100%, my company has an incremental vesting period, meaning each year I work for them my vested percentage increases.

  •   2 years: 40%
  •   3 years: 60%
  •   4 years: 80%
  •   5 years: 100%

Each company is different however and for some it may be 0% until the vesting period elapses.

Let’s say I leave my current company after 3 years, and up until that point I have contributed $5,000 to my 401(k) which my employer has matched, giving me total of $10,000 (not counting any gains or losses). When I officially leave my 401(k) will be reduced to $8,000 in total, I would only be entitled to keep 60% of the company match or $3,000 ($5,000 x 60%) in addition to what I have contributed.

Note that vesting only applies to contributions from your employer, everything you contribute you keep. Any gains incurred because of the employer contribution are also forfeited but any gains on your contribution or vested amount is yours to keep

11 Ways to Creatively Save Money in Your Daily Life by Debt.org

America’s Debt Help Organization at Debt.org is a company that helps people become more knowledgeable about their financial well-being. Each staff member is an IAPDA Certified Debt Specialist and Certified Credit Counseling Specialist who works to set, meet, and exceed your financial and life goals. They believe strongly in financial literacy and have been kind enough to write a guest post sharing a list of everyday ways to save money, after all one of the first ways to stay out of debt is to never get in debt. Here is

11 Ways to Creatively Save Money in Your Daily Life

Saving money is a long and arduous task for many people. It takes a certain level of patience, dedication and sacrifices. But that doesn’t mean these sacrifices have to be big. Small changes to your daily routines can add up to big savings. Here are 11 ways to save money in your everyday life.

1. Bring lunch to work

You may be spending an average of $6 a day eating lunch out when you could be spending about half that by making your lunch and bringing it to work. This would save you $60 a month, or more than $700 in a year.

2. Quit smoking

If you’re a pack-a-day smoker, you spend around $200 a month on cigarettes alone. You may also have higher medical and life insurance costs. Even just cutting down on the amount you smoke can put hundreds of dollars back in your wallet each year.

3. Rent and borrow movies and books.

Instead of going to the movie theater, rent a movie overnight. And instead of buying books and movies, borrow them from your local library.

4. Make your own coffee

Save a few dollars every day by brewing your own coffee before you leave home. If you’re a daily coffee drinker, investing in a coffee maker can pay for itself within just a few weeks.

5. Carpool, bike or ride the bus to work

With the ever-rising price of gas, avoiding extra miles in your car can mean major savings. Try out public transit, get a simultaneous workout by commuting by bike or get to know your coworkers in a carpool. It’ll also save you some money on car maintenance.

6. Pay cash

Bring a set amount of cash with you when you go shopping and use it to pay for nonessential items. You’ll be more aware of price tags and your actual spending, and it’ll be more difficult for you to go over your budget.

7. Freeze credit cards

Freeze your credit cards — literally. Place them in a cup of water and put your plastic in the freezer. It’ll make it more difficult for you to make big purchases on impulse. You’ll have to plan ahead when you want to go shopping, and it’ll give you time to change your mind. And once you implement this in your monthly routine, you’re likely to stick with it and establish your financial future as a priority avoiding future pains such as debt settlement.

8. Use coupons and buy off-brand products

Coupons are a great way to save a few dollars on your shopping list. Likewise, skipping over the name-brand groceries and trying out the store brands can also trim your grocery bill. You may not even notice a difference in the products.

9. Cancel unused gym memberships and magazine subscriptions

Check your credit card bill for needless recurring payments. Cancel your gym membership if you haven’t used it in months, and unsubscribe from magazines you no longer have time to read.

10. Plan a “staycation” or no vacation at all

Skip those plane tickets and that expensive hotel or cruise. Rediscover your own area or state by planning a “staycation” close to home. Or if your company offers a payout for unused vacation time, consider forgoing a vacation altogether in exchange for an additional week’s pay.

11. Don’t spend your tax refund

Instead of buying a large item like the newest LED TV or going on a vacation with your refund check put it away into savings or start a retirement account like a Roth IRA, this will help kick start your savings into high gear only a few months into the year.