Are You Ready For Early Retirement?

Are You Ready For Early Retirement?

Within the last century, retirement age for most U.S. adults was extended to about 65 years of age. With recent Medicare changes and improved senior health and longevity, more people are working even longer. However, others are finding ways to make early retirement a reality, perhaps in their mid- to late fifties. If early retirement is your goal, it might be a good idea to give the following questions some thought before turning in your resignation.

How is your Health?

Although you may be 50 and feel great, consider what may lay ahead. For example, if your family has a history of heart disease or cancer, consider getting tested before making early retirement plans. If you are battling a chronic illness like diabetes, get your doctor’s opinion about the future prognosis of this illness so you can plan ahead. In addition to factors like the ability to work and monthly income adjustments when you retire, you should also think about health care coverage before and during retirement.

What Are Your Early Retirement Lifestyle Plans?

Do you want to travel when you stop working? Maybe you plan to downsize your home to a condo. Are there other life goals you hope to accomplish during your golden years? Consider how lifestyle changes may impact your monthly budget and whether or not you might get bored of all that free time. Would you prefer to work part-time or volunteer for a charity? As you envision the ways your life will change after retirement, make sure that you are ready mentally, physically, and financially to make the transition.

How Are Your Finances Holding Up?

Everyone with a stock portfolio or savings plans as well as a retirement fund should meet with a financial adviser at least yearly to keep tabs on their investments. If the economy takes a sharp downturn just when you’re about to retire, will your finances be enough to sustain the new life you have planned? Do you have a backup plan in case of an emergency or unexpected economic shift? Remember that expenses will change in retirement. If you have paid off your home and have no credit card debt to manage, you will be in better financial standing than someone who is loaded down with debt and possibly drawing less income each month than when they were employed.

What Role Will Your Family Play?

Middle-age people often breathe a sigh of relief when the last child graduates from college. But financial and familial obligations don’t necessarily stop there. Wedding expenses may pop up later, along with grandchildren to babysit and aging parents to care for. Give some thought to the time and money that you will need during your retirement years to help family members. When relatives know that you are no longer working full-time, they may expect you to help more often.

Most of us dream of a stress-free, financially secure retirement during which we can fulfill all our dreams. However, as in every stage of life, unexpected financial crises and new responsibility can replace long-sought dreams. Before rushing into early retirement, be sure you’re ready on all fronts so that you avoid disappointment and financial hardship.

8 Creative Ways To Earn Money While In College

College students never seem to have enough money. Most of the cash that they earn from part-time jobs goes toward paying for necessities like tuition, books, rent, and food. Once you start going to college, you can forget about spending money without worry.

Smart students, however, find creative ways to earn cash while they go to school. Before you decide to split a two-bedroom apartment with three roommates, think about using these eight ideas to make more money.

Sell Your Photographs

Sell Your PhotographsImage via Flickr by Infomastern

If you have a knack for taking beautiful photographs, you can start earning money today by selling them through websites like Fotolia, Stockxpert, and iStockphoto. Each website has its own pricing model, but you can expect to earn at least a few dollars for each photo that someone buys.

The amount of money that you earn by selling photographs online depends on how good your pictures are and how many images you upload. Following these 13 ways to make your photos look professional should help your work get more attention from serious buyers.

Drive With Uber

Driving with Uber has become a popular way for people to earn extra money. If you own a car that meets the company’s requirements, you can set your own schedule and start making money this week.

As a college student, having a flexible schedule should matter a lot. If you have a typical job, then you have to conform to someone else’s schedule. By driving with Uber, you never have to worry that your job will prevent you from writing a paper or preparing for a big test.

Sell Products for Amway

Learning some basic business and sales skills now will benefit you for decades. When you make extra cash by selling Amway products, you get an opportunity to learn how to plan events, practice public speaking, and improve your organizational skills. No matter what career path you follow after graduation, these skills will help you find a lucrative position.

Selling Amway products also has many of the same benefits that you get from driving for a ridesharing company. You can set your own hours, meet new people, and earn money without neglecting your studies. Direct sales, however, doesn’t require you to own a certain type of car, buy insurance, or fill up your gas tank every day.

Take Notes for Other Students

If you’re the type of person who takes excellent notes in class, you can make money on the side by selling those notes to other students. You don’t have to meet with anyone in person. Just submit your notes to an online service like NoteUtopia or Nexus Notes. The website will help students find and purchase your work. Depending on how many people want to buy your notes, you could make hundreds of dollars each semester.

Some colleges discourage their students from selling notes online, so you should check your school’s policies before you dedicate any time to this venture.

Become a Tutor

If you take great notes, then you might also have the skills you need to tutor other students. Teaching your classmates will earn you some cash while reinforcing the knowledge you need to make better grades.

Some tutors work for companies or colleges. Search for opportunities within your city to see what’s available. If you plan to work for a company, then you may need to take a test that proves you can teach people successfully. If you’d rather not take any tests, then you can advertise your services online or by hanging fliers on campus bulletin boards.

Teach Online Classes

You can start making money from your college education before you finish your degree requirements. Udemy has a platform that lets experts in numerous fields create their own courses. When students sign up for your class, you get paid a portion of their tuition.

Udemy has about 20,000 instructors, so you face quite a bit of competition from other experts. You will have to create an interesting, useful class to attract students. The Udemy platform includes tools that will help you design your online course, but you have to develop the content on your own. According to Udemy, the average instructor earns about $8,000.

Start a Blog

Bloggers typically earn money by selling ad spaces on their websites. You can also use a blog to show off your writing skills, which could attract clients willing to pay you in return for your content creation services.

You should know that it takes time to start making money as a blogger. Some writers spend years honing their skills and connecting with readers through social media. You can, however, make money without a long-term investment.

Using Google AdWords makes it easy for you to generate money from your website. The advertising service will place ads on relevant pages, so you don’t have to spend time convincing businesses to pay for ad space. AdWords isn’t the most profitable way to earn money from a website, but it doesn’t require nearly as much time as contacting potential clients.

Take Online Surveys

Don’t take another online survey until you know whether you can get paid for it. Several companies will pay you a small fee for answering basic questions about your life, spending habits, and product experiences. Some survey websites to try include MySurvey, Opinion Outpost, Toluna, and InboxDollars.

Each company sets its own rates, so you should spend a little time reviewing your options before you decide how you want to spend your time. You’ll find that some of them pay more money than others. Some survey companies will also pay you to test products, so make sure you explore all of your options.

Most people struggle to make ends meet while they finish their degrees. Working a few hours a week may not keep you flush with cash, but it can make your life a lot easier. When you don’t have to worry about how you can afford to pay your rent next month, you can spend more time focusing on your classes.

5 Tips to Lower Utility Bills

5 Tips to Lower Utility Bills

Utility bills seem to shift frequently, due in part to instability in the energy sector and the volatility of certain environmental issues, including fracking that may endanger water wells and land management jeopardized by gas pipelines. Whatever the reason, most of us don’t see our utility bills dropping by much, if any, each year. Instead, they seem to rise almost predictably over time. Since utility company employees need to eat as customers do and our bills must be paid to maintain a good credit rating, we should pay utility bills on time. But there are simple things you can do to lower costs.

Double-Check Your Rates

Even a utility company can make a billing mistake. Double-check meter readings or compare to the previous month’s or year’s bill, and call the billing office to discuss any discrepancies. If a statement seems high, find out if a raise went into effect or if you have accidentally been overcharged, which can sometimes happen.

Compare Utility Providers

If you find that a utility company keeps raising rates consistently, or if there is a spike in the regular rate, check out the competition for lower prices. Your current provider may be willing to lower its rate to match one by a competitor. Alternately, you can switch to the lower-cost provider, but carefully check all costs to find hidden expenses before changing over to the new company.

Turn Off When Not In Use

Make a habit of turning off unused appliances like the television, computer, or lights when leaving a room. Equipment with lights that stay on during disuse can impact monthly utility bills. Collectively, several appliances that are turned off when unused may help to lower monthly costs. Check for leaky faucets and fix them to keep the water bill low. Close heat vents in unused rooms and close the door to avoid paying to heat unoccupied rooms.

Use Utilities Minimally

Cut back on utility use when possible. For example, instead of running the air conditioner around the clock in summertime, turn it on during the hottest part of the day and set it to the highest setting that will cool you off without draining the budget. Do the same for winter heating utilities involving gas, oil or propane, setting the thermostat to 68 degrees if everyone in the household can tolerate it, wearing sweaters and socks to ward off any residual chill. Use cool or warm water for the laundry instead of hot water, and consider hanging clothes outside to dry in good weather rather than using an electric or gas dryer. Opt for the basic cable television package rather than the deluxe version.

Include Utility Supplements

Instead of running air conditioners in the summer, consider installing ceiling fans or use table fans. Space heaters in cold weather can help reduce whole-house heating bills. Some people use wood burners or fireplaces in the winter to offset gas heating expenses.

Don’t let household necessities gobble up your monthly budget. A few simple steps like these can pare down those costly utility bills and save money for other important things.

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