New Year, New Resolutions

It’s 2017! And with a new year comes new personal goals and challenges. Haven’t decided on a New Year’s resolution? Why not try one of the 7 we’ve listed below?

Learn a new language

Learning a new language can seem daunting and is certainly a challenge but thanks to technology, anyone can practice and learn the basics to another language. Our Marketing Manager, Kaylee Kirsch, has been using the Pittsburgh based app Duolingo to learn Spanish. Although she’s nowhere near fluent (and probably won’t be anytime soon), she can string together simple phrases. The free app boasts over 15 different languages for users to pick from. Users only need five to ten minutes a day to practice and the app’s game-like structure makes it fun and easy to use.

Travel

For 2017, resolve to unleash your inner wanderlust. Traveling gives you a new perspective. It opens your eyes to different cultures, gives us new experiences and memories, and teaches us a little more about ourselves. Don’t have the money for a cross country excursion or a week’s stay in Europe? Search online for inexpensive weekend getaways in your area. In some areas you can take a weekend trip for a couple hundred dollars.

Pay off debt

If your goal for 2017 is to pay off debt, now is the time to create a budget for the New Year. Budgeting will allow you to see what you are spending within a certain time frame. You’ll be better able to recognize which spending habits you can cut out of your daily, weekly, or monthly routine. Other tips for paying off debt: first pay off whichever credit card has the highest interest rate, pay more than the minimum, and halt your credit card spending entirely.

Hit the gym

Most people set a goal of getting in shape at the beginning of each year. To help keep this resolution alive throughout the year, set an actual goal that you are working towards such as running a 5k or beating a personal record. If you’re just starting out at the gym, set a realistic goal for incorporating it into your routine. For instance, going to the gym three days a week is often more realistic than trying to hit the gym six days a week. Once you are in a routine, you can add days to your schedule to challenge yourself. Also, don’t forget to add variety to your workouts. It not only helps you tone and lose weight by challenging your body but will also keep you interested in your workouts.

Rein in your diet

Another common resolution is to improve one’s diet. Eating right can be difficult. There’s portions to think about, nutrients, calories, fat, sugars, etc. There is also the issues associated with cost, feeling satisfied, time, and the social aspect of eating out. If eating healthy is a struggle, try incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. You can also try meatless Monday’s in an effort to eat healthier. Look for online recipes that offer fast, healthy meal options and of course, look out for quarterly posts to our blog from Registered Dietitian, Caroline West Passerrello, MS, RDN, LDN.

Reduce stress

Stress can have a negative impact on our health and well-being. Stress has been known to negatively affect people’s mental and physical health causing a wide range of issues from depression, weight gain, loss of sleep, and loss of appetite. If reducing stress is your goal, the Mayo Clinic recommends “daily practice of stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, massage, tai chi or yoga. Many people manage stress through practicing mindfulness in meditation or being in nature.” Practicing these techniques overtime can help lower your stress and help improve your overall well-being.

Read more  

Bookworms around the world rejoice as each passing year scientists confirm to the world what book lovers have known for quite some time now, reading is good for your health. If your resolution is to cut down on screen time, you might want to pick up a book. Reading has been proven to help those struggling with depression, can help keep your mind sharp and help ward off Alzheimer’s disease, and can help to improve sleep.  So next time you’re looking to relax, open a book rather than turning the TV on. Looking for a good book to read? Check out the list of our employees’ favorite books.

 

 

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-relief/hlv-20049495

Happy Financial Planning Month

Did you know that October is National Financial Planning Month?  As October starts winding down, we thought to remind you how important it is to start saving for the future.

Today we are giving you a few of our favorite tips and tricks to save a few dollars here and there. You know, for rainy days or that vacation you’ve been dying to take.

Drop that spare coin in a jar.  Most of us will either spend that, lose it, or let it sit some place where it won’t be able to accumulate into anything.  By putting all of your loose change into a jar or piggy bank, you are stopping yourself from frivolously spending it on things you don’t really need.

Try a subscription service.  Are there certain items that you buy over and over again?  With Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program, you are able to set up a subscription for five or more products to be delivered to your front door on your monthly delivery date.  You can order food, everyday home products, beauty products, and much more through this service.  The best part is that you get free shipping with your Amazon Prime account and the products you subscribe are even more discounted than what you can get at the store.  All you have to do is set up your subscription and save money each month.  To learn more about the program, you can click here.

Cut the cord.  If you find yourself mostly watching monthly subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Instant Video, you can save yourself hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year by getting rid of your cable.  Most television shows can be streamed these days anyways, so you won’t really be missing out on anything.

Got a $5 bill?  At the end of each day, check your wallet.  If you have any $5 bills, put those in your change jar or piggy bank, and you might find a few hundred dollars at the end of the year, or if you’re lucky, you might have a few thousand.  That will definitely buy yourself a nice vacation, a down payment for a new car, or a night out on the town.

Stop buying groceries at major grocery chains.  There are a ton of discount grocery outlets that have really great products at severely bargain prices.  There are plenty of new Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s nationwide that offer great food and products at low prices, saving you hundreds every month.  One caveat if you are a name brand buyer, is that they mostly sell their own line of products and don’t offer the major name brands. This allows them to keep their costs lower while still offering quality products. Next time you grocery shop, try checking out your local discount chain, you most definitely won’t be disappointed.

 

Sources: http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/23/here-are-20-easy-ways-to-save-some-money-every-day.html
http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/money/saving/money-saving-ideas
https://www.eidebailly.com/services/financial-services/october-is-national-financial-planning-month/

5 Retirement Tips for 20-Somethings

When I first joined the team at Babb, Inc. saving for my retirement wasn’t even a blip on my radar. I was concerned with paying off my school loans, my car, my credit card, having reliable healthcare, and being able to go out like every twenty-something is apt to after graduating from college.  Nothing else mattered.  I thought I had figured out what was most important for my future, get all my loans and bills paid off so I can really start saving for the rest of my life.

Fortunately, I started to work for a company that stresses being financially aware and competent. I was introduced to the 401k and, I will admit, was completely baffled by the whole concept. However, I signed up for my company’s 401k and began to deposit a percentage of each paycheck into it with the hopes that I would be able to increase that contribution yearly.  Below, I have compiled a list of “Do’s” when it comes to saving for your future.

  1. Start saving as soon as you can: We all have excuses as to why we shouldn’t or cannot save for our retirement in our early twenties.  There are school loans, credit cards, rent, etc. that are foremost on our minds.  The sooner you begin to put money away into a 401k, the longer your money has time to mature.  You have to remember that when your investment makes gains, those gains will also grow the next year, so by saving earlier, you will have a bigger nest egg to draw from when you are finally able to retire.
  2. Sign up for your company’s 401k: When offered, check out the 401k plan your company offers and decide if that is the right plan for you.  You don’t have to sign up with your company, but being aware of what is offered will allow you some insight in choosing another investment vehicle outside of your employment.  Let’s say you do sign up for your company’s 401K plan, when you sign up many employers will match your contribution up to a designated target percentage.
  3. Educate yourself: Financial talk is definitely confusing so don’t be embarrassed to ask questions from and expert, either at work or somewhere else. Find a financial advisor, whether company sponsored or not, that will sit down with you and explain why you should invest and in what to invest in.  Don’t be afraid to read books, articles, financial sites, etc. for more detailed information, because the more you know about your plan, the better you will be able to make important life decisions.
  4. Avoid debt: We all worry about saving for retirement because we all have of other responsibilities that can take precedence.  But, if you are struggling from paycheck to paycheck and don’t believe you are fiscally able to set aside money for your retirement, it is time for you to overhaul your budget.  A budget helps you to create a payment schedule and plan for all of your bills, necessities, and extras.  Maybe you stop eating out at restaurants multiple times a week, cut that subscription you don’t really use, or stop purchasing the things that are not necessities.  This little bit of savings can turn into your monthly contribution to your 401k and any inheritance, bonuses, or money gifts can be added to your retirement instead of using it on frivolous items.  Anything you can put away will eventually grow into a bigger contribution.
  5. Do not take money out before your retirement: Times are tough, you are low on funds and have bills to pay and the only way you think to be able to do so is to take money out of your 401k.  DO NOT DO THIS!  Every time you withdraw money, you have to pay an income tax on the amount you withdrew.  Also, if you are under 59 and withdraw early from your 401k, you may be charged a 10% early withdraw penalty.  Avoid early withdrawals and your money will be able to grow faster and you will be able to defer paying the taxes on it until you retire.  If you change jobs, do not cash out your 401k, enroll in your new employers plan or in an IRA.  If you fear needing cash quickly for emergencies, create an emergency fund so you do not have to touch your retirement savings.