Creating an Effective Personal Finance Budget

A personal finance software is the most progressive solution that you can get with your limited or extended cash options. The easiest to use personal finance software with which you can manage your personal finances is Desktop Budget. You can create your own customized financial budget using this new accounting software. You can record the monthly as well as annual income and expenditures to keep you focused on your expenses. This will enable you to be on guard against spending outside your means. Be it your retirement plans or your expenses on your children’s education personal budgeting will keep you in sync with your resources.

It helps you to analyze your spending and savings habits. You will also be informed of the latest currency exchange rates. As these types of budgeting offers calculators you can calculate the loan amount without depending on others. It offers a tabular representation which makes it easy to process and calculate future payments. Your day to day financial activities are recorded for future references. A Personal finance manager alone can guide you through this imbroglio.

This will help you to stay off from indulging in unwanted expenses. Its effective personal debt management keeps track of your expenses and guards you against falling into debt trap. It will also introduce you to many insurance policies and funds that will enable you to save for a rainy day. A personal finance software is a reliable tool and is like a good friend who will warn you of lurking danger. Your life will be secured if you give the reins to the personal finance manager.

Expenses are numerous and it needs the ingenuity of a useful tool to track down. Expenses like house help, grocery, medical help, laundry, basic amenities, phone, mobile, transportation that contribute to the household expenses and the Lifestyle expenses include expenses on newspaper, clothing, entertainment books, personal care, eating out, travel, holiday, and club or gym membership all get incorporated in personal finance.

What Education is the Right Education?

So You Think You Want to Or Need to Go Back to School

First, let’s get this out of the way immediately; I am a proponent and advocate for education. Personally I have undergraduate and graduate degrees a list of certifications as long as my arm and I often contemplate going back to school for my doctorate. It is imperative that we all continue our learning processes or we will become extinct! There that is out of the way.

Now for YOUR situation. If you are looking to secure a job that requires a college degree and you do not have one; then by all means that should be part of your goal. On the other hand if you have a degree and you are out of work and believe that another degree will make the difference; let’s stop and look at that one.

If you are looking for a career change from say teaching to being a CPA; yep it may not take a degree, but it will require one or two years of formal schooling in most if not all states and even in most countries. There are many specialties besides accounting where that is true as well.

The next category is going back to school because you want an advanced degree. Obviously I cannot argue with that because I did it and I am happy that I did. It was worth the time and effort. However, I did it while I was employed and because I wanted to; which is important.

Do Not Act Out of Desperation

The thing you do not want to do is make this decision out of desperation. If you are unemployed and you have a good background and an additional degree is not what is holding you back; is that the best choice?

The truth is that what you learn in a formal degree program is not necessarily what your next employer wants. What may be far more important is knowledge on what is currently happening; information that most degree programs may not teach. It is not that the programs are bad, it is just that things change so rapidly that the text books cannot even keep pace.

Beware the Book of Knowledge Is Changing Rapidly

Here is an example. I stated above that I have several certifications. They are computer industry related and quite technical. Several years ago I owned a training center that taught the certification classes. The programs were intense and the entire course, which was comprised of five to seven classes, could be completed in three to six months.

Competing with my center were colleges that taught one class a semester. The courses built upon each other so you could not take two or three courses simultaneously; it was one after another. So what we taught in three to six months would take one and one-half to two years.

The problem was that the technology was changing rapidly. That meant that the courses were revised every twelve to eighteen months. So before someone could even complete the series of classes in the college environment; the first classes had been replaced and new tests developed for the certification.

The student truly could not complete the program in this manner. Yes, the price of the class was less, but the cost was tremendous because it was wasted money and time. Money can be replaced, but time cannot; so it was at a tremendous personal cost to the individual.

Become a Watcher

One of the first things that you can do to educate yourself and move forward is watch other people. For most people there are many people with the same job and within your industry or even company that earn substantially more than you earn. Learn from them!

What makes them different? Why are they more successful? What do they do that you do not do? How do they look and dress that is different from the way you look and dress? Surprisingly one thing that is seldom done is for the people that want to move up to simply ask the person what they have done to achieve their success.

People like to talk about themselves and you will be amazed at what you can learn. When you have become the top person in your office, look to the next level and find those that are successful and learn what they do that makes them more successful. Ask the questions and follow their lead. When people follow this method success will follow them. There are people that double and even triple their earnings in a matter of a couple of years or even less.

Become a Reader

Did you know that if you were to read just one hour each day that you would read twenty-five to forty books? Or you could read countless articles, surveys, reports, and other information on your industry, products, competitors, customers, etc.

Do you know what that would do for your career? In one year you would have completed the equivalent of a masters degree in the most current information available. You would be head and shoulders above everyone, because you took an action that most did not.

Conclusion

Additional education is important just make sure you are doing it wisely and consistent with the correct goals.

Educational Opportunities in Retirement: No Retiree Left Behind

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Henry Ford – Industrialist

Retirement is a time of exploration and one very important element of this involves educational opportunities. What things would you like to know more about, but have not had the time to learn? For me, I would like to understand how the economy works, learn to speak Spanish, and further a lifelong interest in astronomy. Because of my work schedule, I have been unable to take advantage of the numerous courses offered as part of the local junior college system on these topics. However, in retirement, I will have the time to explore.

In this article, I will review several educational options for seniors. These are options that are low or no cost. One of the advantages of getting older is that you are more likely to seek educational opportunities because you want to learn about the topic, not to attain some sort of certification. If this describes you, then there is a world of possibilities that are open. Let’s take a look at some of the options.

STATE COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES

Most states have either formal policies or actual state statutes that allow residents over the age of 60, 62, or 65 (depending on the state) to attend colleges in the system free or at a substantially reduced cost. Most of these are on a space available basis and do not offer credit for completion of a course. But, if you just want to explore and learn, this could be perfect for you.

The states that have these no- or low-cost education policies for seniors are:

Two year colleges only: Alabama

Four year colleges only: California, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, South Dakota

Both two- and four-year colleges: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming

In some instances, there might be restrictions, but check with the specific state to determine the limitations. This can be a good option depending on the content you are after and whether you need the structure of a formal class.

ON-LINE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES

Over the last couple of years, educational opportunities delivered on-line have blossomed. These run the gamut from formal classes delivered through streaming video lectures, multiple-video modules focused on general topics, or relatively short video clips focused on a narrow topic. Let’s explore a couple of these possibilities.

Coursera

Coursera is an example of a growing number of educational opportunities available on-line. I will use Coursera as the example, but you can Google On-Line Courses Free and find others as well. Several courses are offered for free although you have the opportunity for certification for a fee that varies from $30 – $90 per course. These courses run over the course of an academic semester and have periodic lectures and “out of class” assignments similar to what you would find in a regular classroom. The difference is that you are attending on-line, not in person.

The courses that are offered change over time, but are taught by renowned faculty members from top public and private universities. The content of these courses run the gamut across the sciences, math, humanities, and social sciences. They vary considerably in terms of the background you need to understand the information. However, generally they should be comprehensible by the reasonably educated person. Here are some examples of courses currently being offered and the universities that are producing them:

Find, Fix, and Prevent Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities (University of Maryland)

Climate Change in Four Dimensions (University of California)

Computer Networks (University of Washington)

Social & Economic Networks (Stanford University)

Write and Produce Your Own Music (Berklee College of Music)

Write Like Mozart: An Introduction to Classical Music Composition (National University of Singapore)

The Power of Macroeconomics: Economic Principles in the Real World (University of California)

Global Sustainable Energy (University of Florida)

This list is just a small sampling of courses that are offered. Go on-line to read detailed descriptions of the courses offered and the background you will need. After that, all you will need to do is to sign-up and view the on-line lectures as they are scheduled. The Coursera home page can be found at www.coursera.org.

The Khan Academy

This is a website that offers videos covering topics in math, science, economics & finance, and the humanities. This site originally was developed by Sal Khan to assist his niece in grade school. It has expanded substantially from that. Go on to the site and you will have access to video clips ranging from around 5 – 20 minutes each explaining a specific topic. Need a basic refresher on high school algebra – this is the place. Need to understand some basic economic concepts – Khan will provide what you need. These topics are explained in very simple detail. There are, of course, Khan Academy knock-offs. However, no one does it like Sal Khan. Google or Bing Khan Academy for the link the website.

YouTube

YouTube is a resource that I have just discovered recently. This website provides access to streaming videos that explain nearly any topic that you would like information on. Do you need a video on how to check the oil level in your car? There are several videos on YouTube for that. Need to understand how to set the clock on your VCR – this is the place? Need to know how to hook up your home sound system – well you get the idea. You can find videos on virtually any topic of interest. However, YouTube goes far beyond these simple topics. Many university professors as well as high school AP teachers’ video tape their lectures and put them on YouTube. Just search on the topic you are interested seeing and all of the available videos will be listed. Click on those of interest and they will stream on your browser. The offerings vary in quality, but I have generally found what I was looking for and gotten the content I needed.

You can spend hours searching this site and viewing videos. It’s both entertaining and educational. The YouTube home page can be found at www.youtube.com

Here’s an idea. If you find a course on Coursera that you want that requires a background you don’t have, go to YouTube or the Khan Academy and view videos to get you up to speed on those required background topics. After that, go back to Coursera and sign-up.

In the world of your youth, if you wanted to learn about something your options were to read a book or attend a class. Sometimes these were at considerable expense and might not be readily available. In the new world, the educational options are nearly endless, free or low-cost, and available 24/7. All you need is the time to learn and explore. Welcome to retirement.