Making Money Simple: The Complete Guide To Getting Your Financial House In Order And Keeping It That Way Forever

Making Money Simple book coverIt can sometimes feel like every decision we need to make revolves around money. How do we spend it? How much should we save? Where should we invest? How much do we need to retire? The endless stream of choices is enough to give anyone a throbbing headache!

Don’t let these decisions throw you into a panic. All you need for simplifying your money management is the proper framework for making smart financial decisions. The soon-to-be-released Making Money Simple provides that crucial framework to learn how to expertly and efficiently navigate your own finances.

Author Peter Lazaroff wants to gift readers with the foundation they need to make the proper personal finance decision in any circumstance or situation they might encounter. His book is a manifesto that will guide you through the ups and downs of your career, major milestones and the path toward growing your wealth. The framework for decisions he outlines in Making Money Simple is strong enough to get you through anything your financial life throws at you, even the most challenging circumstances where there are no hard rules at play.

Read Making Money Simple and you’ll be empowered to create your own plan for financial success, drawing on proven wealth management techniques and real-life strategies. You’ll learn about core economic principles and expert-level investing practices. You’ll study financial topics of every kind and read Lazaroff’s advice culled from his years as chief investment officer of a multibillion-dollar wealth management firm. And finally, you’ll be empowered with the tools you need to make managing your personal finances simple.

You don’t need detailed spreadsheets or complicated investment strategies to get your financial life in order; you simply need a process to help you understand your finances and make them manageable.

Making Money Simple will show you how to:

  • Create financial goals and plan for your future.
  • Understand the three core elements of building a strong financial house.
  • Implement effective investment strategies.
  • Learn the 10 questions to ask when hiring financial professionals of any kind.

Making Money Simple will help you achieve financial wellness and secure your future success.

Your Turn:
Do you think money management can truly be simple? Or, will personal finances always be challenging to navigate? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

SOURCES:

https://books.google.com/books/about/Making_Money_Simple.html?id=4q3xtgEACAAJ&source=kp_book_description

https://www.amazon.com/Making-Money-Simple-Complete-Financial/dp/1119537878/ref=mp_s_a_1_34?ie=UTF8&qid=1548732981&sr=1-34&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=personal+finance+books&dpPl=1&dpID=415SQGYM8uL&ref=plSrch

Are P2P Payment Systems Safe?

Close-up of the hands of four people holding smart phonesP2P payment services, like Venmo, Zelle and Square’s Cash App, are aiming to make cash obsolete – and some would contend they’re succeeding! Just a few quick swipes, and you can transfer funds to a friend, pay for an item you bought online or collect money that’s owed to you.

Convenient as they are, P2P payment systems have unfortunately become a breeding ground for scams and hacks. From compromised accounts to fraudulent transactions, using a P2P service opens you to some risk of losing your money to a scammer.

Read on to learn how to better protect yourself from a P2P payment scam.

How do P2P payment scams happen?
There are lots of ways using a P2P payment system can put you at risk, but the following two vulnerabilities are most common:

1.) The bogus buyer
In most cash-transfer apps, when you receive a payment, the money goes into your P2P system balance and stays there until you transfer it to an external account or use it to pay for another transaction. This transfer usually takes one to three business days to clear. Crooked scammers are taking advantage of that “float” in the transfer process to con you out of your money.

Here’s how it works:
A scammer will contact you about an item you’ve put up for sale or tickets to an event. Together, you’ll arrange for an exchange of funds and goods. You may even take precautions against a possible scam by insisting on an in-person meeting for the exchange or refusing to send out the item until you see the money in your P2P account. Things proceed according to plan. You’re notified that the money has been sent to your account and you hand over your item. Sadly, you won’t realize you’ve been ripped off until a few days later when the money transfer does not clear and the contact has disappeared with your goods. Unfortunately, there’s no way you can get your money back, because most P2P providers will not offer compensation for a fraudulent sale. Similarly, your linked financial institution bears no responsibility for the scam and can’t help you recoup the loss.

2.) Publicized payments
PayPal’s Venmo is the only P2P app with a built-in social networking component. This feature has led to a host of privacy issues that have been brought to the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

In short, every Venmo transaction you make is up for public scrutiny. No one can access the payment amounts, but anyone who is interested can track the restaurants where you like to eat, the clothing stores you most frequent and check out when you last filled your gas tank. Creepiness factor aside, all that information going public makes Venmo users super-vulnerable to scammers and identity thieves.

Venmo allows you to tweak your privacy settings to keep your information from going public, but most people are unaware of the issue and/or neglect to take this measure. Recently, the FTC ruled that Venmo must make this detail clearer to users. Venmo has since created a popup tutorial for all new users demonstrating how to adjust your privacy settings to keep your transactions from going public. If you choose to use Venmo, check your settings to be sure your money habits aren’t being broadcast for the world to see.

Protecting yourself
You can keep your money safe and still enjoy the convenience of cash-transfer apps with these simple steps:

  • Only send money to people you know and trust.
  • Never use a P2P service for business-related transactions.
  • When using Venmo, adjust your privacy settings and opt-out of public tracking.
  • Carefully read the terms and conditions of a P2P service before using.
  • Always choose two-factor identification and use a PIN when possible. If your app and phone allows, choose fingerprint recognition and/or touch ID for added protection.
  • Accept any security updates offered by the P2P app you use.
  • Check your recipient’s information carefully before completing a money transfer.
  • Choose to be notified about every transaction.
  • Link an external account instead of keeping your funds in the P2P account.

Your Turn:
Do you think P2P systems are safe? Why, or why not? Share your take with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://triblive.com/business/technology/13358843-74/peer-to-peer-apps-come-with-risks-ftc-warns

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/02/tips-using-peer-peer-payment-systems-and-apps

https://paymentweek.com/2018-3-30-problems-p2p-mobile-payments/

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/events-calendar/2016/10/fintech-series-crowdfunding-peer-peer-payments

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=9efa141a-40d2-4773-b930-bb395111d226

https://www.consumerreports.org/scams-fraud/how-to-protect-yourself-from-p2p-payment-scams/

 

Step 3 of 12 Toward A Debt-Free Life

Middle-aged black gentleman talking to a femal in the forgroundNegotiate a Lower APR

If the majority of your outstanding debt is credit card debt, you may be spending hundreds of dollars just on interest alone. Aside from wasting money, this keeps you from moving forward and paying down your debt.

Most people don’t know you can call up a credit card company and negotiate for a lower APR. Take the time this month to do that. Explain that you are working on paying down your debt and that the interest payments are impeding your progress. You can even research competing cards and cite their interest rates in a bid for a lower APR from your current credit card company.

Lowering your interest rates will allow you to make another real step toward getting rid of debt.

Your Turn:
Have you ever negotiated for a lower APR on your credit cards? Share your success stories with us in the comments!

Cash-Transfer Apps

Met up with some friends for coffee and then realize you’ve left your wallet at home? Relax; you can still pay your way! Let your buddy pay for you and then grab your phone. Choose an app, thumb out the amount you owe and send it over to a friend. Payback, done!

The app market is full of cash-transfer apps that help you pay up on borrowed funds or collect money that’s owed to you. While each of these apps serves the same function, there are differences when it comes to their accessibility, speed, transfer limits and more. Also, while every service is compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard Level 1, some have vulnerabilities you may not be aware of.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps on the market.

Google Pay logoGoogle Pay

Formerly Google Wallet, Google Pay offers wide accessibility, generous limits on transfers and the ability to store money in the app.

Accessibility: Download the Google Pay app, link a debit card or a checking account and you’re ready to send money to any email address. And some merchants allow you to use Near-Field Communication (NFC) features to pay for purchases with the funds in your Google account. But take note: There’s no way to use Google Pay with a credit card.

Fees: Sending money with your Google Pay balance or a linked checking account is completely free. If you’re paying with a debit card, though, you’ll cough up a 2.9 percent fee to transfer money.

Limits: $10,000 for each individual transaction, and a $10,000 cap per 7-day period.

Security: Google Pay uses the latest technology to keep its service safe, including PINs, passwords, fingerprint recognition and even retina-scanning screen locks.

Speed: Google Pay transfers take 2-3 business days to clear; transfers from linked accounts can take up to 10 days.

PayPal logoPayPal

PayPal stands above the pack as the pioneering cash-transfer service, and it’s the one with the widest reach.

Accessibility: With more than 26 currencies and 200 countries supported in its system, your money goes furthest with PayPal. Lots of vendors accept PayPal as well. You can send money to anyone by entering their email address or mobile phone number, but the recipient won’t be able to access the funds unless they sign up for PayPal.

Fees: PayPal won’t charge you to move money from your PayPal account or with funds in a linked checking account. Otherwise, you’ll pay 2.9 percent for every transaction, plus a $.030 fee for using a debit or credit card. There are more fees for out-of-country transfers, which vary by location.

Limits: $10,000 for each individual transaction; no limits on the total sent per verified account.

Security: PayPal’s popularity has spawned dozens of hacks. Beware of suspicious emails appearing to be from PayPal.

Speed: PayPal transfers from linked accounts or cards usually take 3-4 business days to clear. If you send money from one PayPal account to another, the transfer will happen instantly.

Square cash logo, bright green round corner square with a dollar sign in the middleSquare Cash

Square Cash prides itself on being super-accessible. There’s no need for both users to have a Square Cash account— and all you need is an email address and a debit card number.

Accessibility: This app makes cash transfers almost effortless. You can set up your own URL, or a “$Cashtag” for accepting payments and sending money with an email address or Snapchat account.

Fees: If you use a debit card or a linked account for your money transfer, Square Cash is free. For business purposes, or to use a credit card, you’ll pay 3% per transaction.

Limits: $250 weekly for unverified accounts; $2,500 weekly for verified accounts. $1,000 receiving limit for unverified accounts; no cap on funds received for verified accounts.

Security: Square Cash allows you to discover nearby users using Bluetooth technology so you’re sure your money is going to the right recipient. A big vulnerability with Square Cash, though, is that anyone with access to your email also has access to your debit card.

Speed: Your initial Square Cash transfers can take up to 2 business days to clear. Once your card is on file, the money can move within 24 hours. For instant transfers,there’s a 1.5% fee.

Venmo logo, white "v" on medium blue circle backgroundVenmo

Venmo offers a social networking platform and cash-transfer app rolled into one. Look up where your friends are shopping, “like” their purchases and comment on the stuff they’ve bought.

Accessibility: You can sync your Facebook account and phone contacts to see who among them is a Venmo user. “Venmo” money with an email address or phone number—but only to friends who also have the app.

Fees: Sending funds from your Venmo account, a linked financial account or with a major debit card is free. For credit cards and non-major debit cards, there’s a 3% fee.

Limits: $299.99 for unverified accounts, $2,999.99 for verified accounts.

Security: Every transaction you make on Venmo becomes public information. You’ll need to adjust your privacy settings to make that information private.

Speed: Venmo transfers take 1-3 business days to clear. For instant transfers of any size, Venmo charges a flat $0.25 fee.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite cash-transfer app? Tell us all about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.thesimpledollar.com/best-apps-to-send-money/

https://www.wired.com/story/venmo-alternatives/

https://www.lifehacker.com/money-transfer-showdown-square-cash-vs-venmo-vs-payp-1752058723/amp

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thepennyhoarder.com/smart-money/free-money-transfer-apps/amp/

5 Ways To Avoid Credit Fraud

Middle-aged red-haired woman in modern studying credit report witha look of concernkitchenHere are five ways that you can avoid credit fraud.

  • Keep your credit cards safe. Store your cards in a secure wallet or purse. After making a purchase, immediately return your card to that place.
  • Don’t allow websites to “remember” your card number. Only let secure payment portals, like GooglePay and PayPal, remember your card number. An even better practice is to never check the “remember card number” box for any site or portal.
  • Be wary when shopping online. Before using your credit card online, verify the site’s security and that the URL is authentic—there’s an “s” after the “http” in the web address, and a lock icon as well.
  • Report lost or stolen cards immediately. The sooner you report a missing card, the less liability you’ll have for fraudulent charges made with your card.
  • Review your monthly bill. Always look through your monthly statement to check for suspicious account activity.

Your Turn:
How do you avoid credit card fraud? Share your own tips with us in the comments.

7 Signs You’re Living Beyond Your Means And How To Fix Them

Young black couple counting money and comparing to bills due with looks of concern1. You’re carrying a credit card balance from month-to-month

If you have a high credit card balance and you’re paying just the minimum each month, you can end up carrying this balance for years while paying a lot in interest. You might also be tempted to make more purchases on this card since it already has a balance.

The fix: Try to make double payments and stop using the card until the debt is paid off.

2. You stress about bills

Monthly bills should be fixed into your budget. You should be able to pay them easily without any stress.

The fix: Take a look at your monthly budget and find ways to cut back.

3. You can’t save 5% of your monthly income

If you can’t put away at least 5% of your monthly income into savings, you’re living beyond your means.

The fix: Again, trim your expenses and restructure your budget to include at least 5% for savings.

4. You don’t have emergency and rainy-day funds

Ideally, you should have an emergency fund to cover major unexpected expenses, and a rainy-day fund for small expenses you can anticipate.

The fix: Start building your funds now by putting away as much as you possibly can each month.

5. Your mortgage payment eats up more than 30% of your monthly income

Most financial experts agree that your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 30% of your take-home pay.

The fix: You have two choices here:

1.) Find ways to boost income. Seek a raise at your current job, freelance for hire or find another side hustle for extra cash.

2.) Scale back your mortgage payments. Consider a refinance. Speak to a mortgage expert at Advantage One to see if this is right for you. If your mortgage is crippling your budget, consider downsizing to a smaller and cheaper place.

6. You lease a car you can’t afford to buy or finance

Can you afford to pay for or finance your car? If the answer is no, you’re in financial trouble.

The fix: Downgrade your vehicle to one you can actually afford.

7. Your financial decisions are influenced by your friends’ spending habits

Thanks to the hyper-sharing culture of social media, the pressure to keep up with the Joneses is stronger than ever. If you find yourself making financial decisions based on your friends’ choices, you’re likely spending more than you can afford.

The fix: Stop looking over your shoulder and keep your eyes on your own life and your own wallet.

If you’re in over your head, Advantage One wants to help! Stop by today and our financial services partners will be happy to guide you out of any financial mess.

Your Turn:
What’s your personal red flag that your spending has gotten out of control? Share it with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.hermoney.com/invest/financial-planning/warning-signs-of-living-beyond-your-means/amp/

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/in-over-your-head.asp

https://rockstarfinance.com/7-signs-that-you-might-be-living-well-beyond-your-means/

Step 2 of 12 Toward A Debt-Free Life: Don’t Dig Yourself Deeper

Young businessman eating his brown bag lunch in front of his computer screenWhen you’ve dug yourself deep into a pit, the only way to get out is to stop digging. This month, focus on not racking up more debt. Stop using your credit cards. Skip your weekly trips that usually have you buying too many non-essentials.

Instead, start brown-bagging your work lunch and brewing your own coffee. Get into the habit of spending only on essentials so you can make real progress toward paying down that debt.

Don’t forget to make the minimum payments on every line of credit and loan you have open. Neglecting your debt will only pull you deeper into the pit.

Your Turn: Did you spend only on essential things this month? What was the hardest expense to cut back on? Tell us about it in the comments.