Why blogging should be on YOUR to-do list, especially during tough economic times

People create blogs for many reasons: to keep in touch with family and friends; to promote a product or service; to make money working from home.

A few full-time bloggers reportedly earn a very healthy income from blogging. Bloggers sell links and space to advertisers and generate referral income from affiliate sales programs. For those that blog as a means of making money, generating traffic is paramount. The higher the number of page views, the higher the opportunity to generate income. A-list bloggers make a lot of money because they receive tens of thousands of hits every day.

Most bloggers, however, earn very little. Don’t be discouraged though, because even with low traffic counts, blogging provides other valuable income opportunities.

Let me explain by way of example: I don’t make much money from the advertisement placed in my right sidebar — and what I do earn is donated to Kiva.org. But nonetheless, because of my blog, interesting and profitable income opportunities present themselves. I’ve appeared on national television, I’ve been profiled in several books, newspapers and magazines, I’ve been encouraged by literary agents and publishers to write a book, I’ve been offered writing and speaking gigs, and I’ve established a coaching business.

Considering today’s tough economic times, blogging should be on your to-do list too because it can open new doors.

Blogging provides a way for me to:

  • network, make connections, and influence others in a positive way
  • build my platform as an author before writing a book (essential in today’s publishing market)
  • offer my coaching services to a targeted and receptive audience
  • improve my writing skills
  • express myself and share an exchange of thoughts and ideas with a diverse, worldwide community of readers
  • promote topics near and dear to my heart (personal empowerment, science of happiness, financial literacy)
  • help small businesses operated by working, impoverished women in developing countries by pledging my blogging profits to Kiva.org

If you’re a consultant, small business owner, paid professional – or currently unemployed and looking for work — you owe it to your financial future to establish a blog of your own. But how? Here are the lessons I’ve learned:

Blogging 101

1)  First, answer the question “Why do I want to blog?”

Blogging takes a lot of time. Most bloggers quit within their first three months. Without a clear purpose, mission or vision statement, you’re likely to become a disillusioned short-term blogger. Realize that it takes plenty of time and work to create and maintain a well-trafficked and respected blog.

2)  Research the business of blogging and find mentors

Before launching my blog, I invested three months time researching the business of blogging. I followed successful blogs and those that teach the art of blogging (like Problogger). I joined a writers’ group to share my ideas with other writers, ask for feedback and reciprocate proofreading. Knowing that first impressions are everything, I made sure that I was ready to impress new readers during their first visit.

3)  Carefully select your niche and blog title

Pick a topic that you are passionate about. Your passion will be evident in your writing. You will spend a lot of time blogging about it, thinking about it and talking about it. Make sure you love-love-love your blog topic! Now, craft a title that will convey your blog’s topic AND grab your readers attention. Ask for feedback before committing.

4)  Have a plan

Before launching my blog, I drafted an outline for my 52 Baby Steps to Financial Freedom series (which I may eventually turn into a book), wrote an About Me page to introduce myself to new readers, and made a list of hundreds of topics I’d like to blog about.

5)  Use a self-hosted domain

I started my first blog in July 2007 using Blogger’s free service. Just four months later, my blogspot domain had earned thousands of inbound links and a nice Google page rank. It was discovered by the media and I was invited to appear on national television. My blog’s readership and traffic continued to climb.

In October of 2008, my entire Google account was hacked into and disabled. This means my blog, my gmail account, my calendar… the whole shebang… were gone. Since Blogger is not self-hosted, I had no recourse.  I had to start all over again.

Now I pay about $10 a year to register my own domain URL and $99 a year for my hosting service. Take it from me, the expense and hassle is worth it!

6)  Schedule blogging time

One of my favorite productivity tools is a digital kitchen timer. As a work-from-home mom of a three-year-old, I find it necessary to structure my writing and blogging time according to her schedule and push to get it done. I write when she’s sleeping, engrossed in Sesame Street or enjoying one-on-one time with her daddy.

Nothing can sideswipe my attention and redirect my efforts quite like the world wide web. The timer keeps me focused, motivated and targeted on the individual task at hand.

Identify your daily, weekly and monthly activities, set a time limit for each one, and start the digital timer in countdown mode. Save your favorite activities for last to serve as your reward for staying on task.

For example, here’s the timed list I strive to keep for writing and blogging activities. (Note: You can also use your digital timer for other tasks: managing personal finances; housecleaning; de-cluttering; exercising; tackling a big project or assignment.) Use your timer to “eat your elephant one bite at a time”.

15 minutes: backup previous posts and template changes
15 minutes: submit posts to blog carnivals, write and publish my blog carnival roundup
30 minutes: thank bloggers for new incoming links
(Total = 1 hour per week)

30 minutes: reply to emails
15 minutes: respond to blog comments
15 minutes: check stats
30 minutes: read other blogs, leave comments, copy my comments for future post ideas
(Total = 1.5 hours/day x 5 days = 7.5 hours per week)

1-2 Times Per Week (my writing process):
30 minutes: brainstorm topics, research, outline, collect relevant links
60 minutes: write rough draft
30 minutes: proofread, edit, polish
15 minutes: publish post to blog, check for broken links
(Total = 2.25 hours oer post = 2.25 to 4.5 hours per week)

TOTAL = 10.75 to 13 hours per week

The digital timer can also serve as a reminder to get up from your desk, stretch your muscles and rest your eyes. I usually multi-task these mini-breaks: I throw a load of laundry in the dryer, do some yoga stretches with my daughter, or take the dog for a walk. About 10 minutes later, I’m sufficiently refreshed to sit at my desk for the next itemized task at hand.

7)  Create post titles that grab attention

Copyblogger writes,

Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a headline or post title that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.

But a headline can do more than simply grab attention. A great headline can also communicate a full message to its intended audience, and it absolutely must lure the reader into your body text.

At its essence, a compelling headline must promise some kind of benefit or reward for the reader, in trade for the valuable time it takes to read more.

8)  Provide value

Aim to make each post a resource for your readers. Content is king queen. Quality content creates value for the reader, and in turn, value drives long-term traffic. Proofread before you hit the publish button.

9) Seek exposure with a targeted audience

Submit articles to blog carnivals related to your niche. Offer guest posts to other bloggers and include your web page link in your byline. Participate in conversations on related blogs and online forums. Include your link in your email signature.

10)  Be a polite blogger

Respond to readers’ questions, comments and emails. Link back to blog carnival hosts. Monitor inbound links, comments and mentions of your blog via Google Alerts, Technorati, SiteMeter and Google Analytics. When you detect a mention of your blog, visit the referring blog and thank the blogger in the comments of the post.

11)  Share the link-love

Creating a blog roll and link out to other web sites within your niche. Encourage an online conversation.

12)  Make it easy for readers to return to your site

Ask readers to subscribe to your feed and make the process as easy as possible. Then keep in mind that your subscriber list is full of people who have trusted you with their valuable attention.

13)  Measure and evaluate your progress

Regular evaluations using analytical measures are important for keeping on track and staying in alignment with your vision. Identify what works, what doesn’t and what you want to accomplish next.

14)  Ask for reader feedback

Readers, I welcome questions, comments and suggestions. Please let me know if (and how) I can improve this blog to better assist you in your journey to success, wealth and happiness.

Blogging Tools and Resources:

Google Analytics
Blog Carnival List
Windows Live Writer
Help A Reporter Out

Can’t Sell Your Home In Today’s Market? Here Are Some Suggestions.

A reader asks, “Our family needs to move to another state soon because of my husband’s job transfer. But homes for sale in our area are sitting on the market for a long time. We have enough in savings to cover a couple months of mortgage payments after our move, but after that, our unsold home will put us in a financial pickle. Do you have any suggestions?”

My Suggestions:

Drop the asking price. If this means you’ll be upside down with your mortgage, ask your mortgage company to consider a short sale.

Hire a home staging service. These expert home image consultants can dress up your home to appeal to buyers better.

Exchange free housing for private property caretaker services. This way, you’ll have someone around to keep an eye on your home, maintain the lawn, and keep it tidy for Realtor showings.  Advertise your exchange in the Caretaker Gazette or in your local craigslist.org classifieds.

Alternatively, rather than selling, consider turning your furnished home into:

  • business travelers / short-term corporate housing* Hotels get expensive and are often less comfortable for long-term business travelers. Contact local corporate housing departments to discuss their needs.
  • family vacation rental* This could be a viable option for you, depending upon your home’s location. Charge by the night or by the week. Peruse Vacation Rentals By Owner to research this potential market. You’ll probably need to hire a management and/or housekeeping service, so charge accordingly.
  • special needs housing* For example, lease to members of a substance abuse recovery program on a per-bed “all bills paid” basis. Give one tenant a discount for acting as “house manager”.
  • university student housing* If your home is located near a university, lease it on a per bedroom, per semester basis. Once again, provide one tenant a discount for acting as manager to maintain your home.

*Before selecting one of these options, make sure you check with your local zoning department and homeowner’s association first.

When calculating cash flow, don’t forget to consider the following expenses: mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, maintenance, repairs, management fees, utilities, a vacancy allowance, and lost opportunity costs.

Readers, please share your suggestions in the comments below.

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How To Revolutionize Your Spending Habits

For some, buying with credit is akin to paying with funny-money. You want something, you pull out a plastic card and shazam, you own it. At least that’s what you think… But money, whether earned yesterday or tomorrow, is something we trade our life energy for.

Do you want financial freedom? Then it’s necessary to keep your credit cards (and cash) out of merchant’s hands. Today, I’m sharing a trick that can completely revolutionize your spending habits by changing the way you see the cost of the goodies that merchants want to sell to you.

Here’s the trick: Translate the number of dollars you see printed on a price tag into the number of hours the purchase will require you to work for it. By doing so, you’ll make well-informed decisions regarding what you’re willing to pay for with your irreplaceable life energy.

Do you know how much your net pay is per hour — after all work-related expenses are subtracted? Here’s a cool tool you can use to determine your bottom line: Time Value Calculator.

One of my coaching clients (Sue) earns $60,000 annually. She’s thinking about buying a new car. She’s considering taking on a $400 monthly car payment. Should she do it?

It’s not my place to answer that question for her. But I CAN help her come to her own conclusion by turning dollars into the time she’ll need to work to pay for it. Using the Time Value Calculator, we find that after taxes, commuting, daycare and other work-related expenses are subtracted, Sue’s net pay per hour is $16.07.

Now we take the $400 monthly car payment she’s considering and divide it by $16.07 to find that buying a new car would cost her almost 25 hours of time working EACH MONTH for the next five years.

Translating dollars into time made it easy for Sue to come to her own conclusion. She decided to have her current car professionally cleaned and detailed instead.

I suggested that she write her true hourly wage on a piece of paper and affix it to her credit card and checkbook. Before making any purchase, she would be reminded to divide the sales price by her true hourly wage. Is the item or service worth the hours of work required to pay for it? If so, buy it. If not, walk away.

Let’s look at some other time-price tag examples:

Apple iPod: $250 divided by $16.07 = 16 working hours.
Monthly supply of cigarettes and chewing gum: $200 divided by $16.07 = 12 working hours every month… until you quit!
House payment (PITI and maintenance) = $1600 divided by $16.07 = 100 working hours every month for 30 years.

What’s YOUR number?

Do it – convert your dollars into time. Then spend your money AND your time in accordance with your own personal values and priorities.

110 Financial Calculators: Fast Answers to Your Money Questions

Have you ever wondered how your salary compares with others in your profession? Do you want to know if it’s better to prepay your mortgage or to invest instead? Are you confused about how to accelerate your debt payoff? Curious what it will take to save your first million dollars?

Today is your lucky day! It doesn’t matter if you flunked math class; you won’t need a graphing calculator, abacus or legal pad. You don’t even need to count your fingers and toes. Simply click on your financial question, enter your numbers, and receive an accurate answer, fast!

I’ve compiled a comprehensive collection — organized by category — of 110 personal finance calculators and helpful tools. They’re free, found online and designed to help you find fast answers to your financial questions.

As they say, knowledge is power so please share this resource page with others and bookmark it to keep it handy!


What is the true cost of car ownership?
This calculator reveals the hidden costs — depreciation, interest on your loan, taxes, fees, insurance premiums, fuel costs, maintenance and repairs — associated with buying, owning and operating a car over a five-year-period.

Your next car, new or used: Which is right for you?
The average used car costs less than half the average new car. It’s no surprise that used cars outsell new cars 3-to-1.

Should I lease or buy my car?
Calculate your monthly payments and your total net cost. By comparing, you can determine which is the better value for you.

How much will the auto lease really cost?
Calculate your payment and more.

Should I get a auto loan or a home equity loan?
Two good reasons to take a look at home equity loans to finance your automobile purchase: Home equity loans often have lower interest rates than auto loans and the interest may be tax deductible.

How long should I keep a vehicle?

Should I finance or pay cash for a vehicle?

What term of vehicle loan should I choose?

Which is better: a rebate or special dealer financing?

Will driving to a cheaper gas station save me money?


How much would my budget reductions be worth if I were to invest them?
Reducing your spending can be worth more than you might think.

How will payroll adjustments affect my take-home pay?
Contributions to a retirement plan, participation in a company-sponsored flexible spending account, change in filing status, or number of allowances claimed could have a direct impact on take-home pay. Use this calculator to help compare your current situation to what-if scenarios.

What is my current cash flow?
Evaluate your personal income and expenses and see if you are running in the red or the black each month.

If I move, how much income will I need to maintain my current standard of living?
Use this cost of living comparison calculator to compare the cost of living between U.S. cities. The information is updated quarterly.

How does my budget compare to others?
Compiled with information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this worksheet tells you how much you’re spending relative to people in the same income bracket.

Where does my money go?
See where your money is being spent and how much you have left to save. Compare your expenditures to targets, which can help identify areas for improvement.

Should my spouse work, too? (View an additional calculation here.)
Are two paychecks worth it? Child-care costs, transportation, work clothes and take-out meals all add up. See what makes sense for you and your family.

How much does it cost to raise a child?
Children are worth their weight in gold — that is, when you add up all the costs. Use this calculator to figure out Junior’s bottom line.

How much allowance might I pay my child?
Find out what your childhood allowance is worth in today’s dollars. Or compute what your kid’s allowance would be worth in any year back to 1913.


How many and what price must I sell my product at to make a profit?
The breakeven analysis calculator is designed to demonstrate how many units of your product must be sold to make a profit.

What is my business worth?
This Business Valuation Calculator creates a possible market valuation for your business and determines how much your future cash flow is worth today.

Should I lease or buy my business equipment?
The Equipment Buy vs. Lease Calculator evaluates monthly payments and your total net cost. By comparing these amounts, you can determine which is the better value for you.

What is my operating profit percentage?
Operating profit is what’s left from your sales dollar after you’ve deducted your cost of goods sold and your ordinary operating costs. Your operating profit percentage tells you the percentage of your sales that turn into profit.

What are my business financial ratios?
This calculator is designed to show you ten different financial ratios. Financial ratios are used as indicators that allow you to zero in on areas of your business that may need attention such as solvency, liquidity, operational efficiency and profitability.

Should I be a landlord?
Buying a house or duplex to rent isn’t at all like investing in stocks or mutual funds. This is hands-on work that starts with finding a property capable of generating enough rental income to make the transaction pay off. See if the numbers work.

What is the maximum self-employed retirement plan contribution I can make? Determine your maximum contribution amount for a Self-Employed 401(k), SIMPLE IRA and SEP based on the assumptions you input.


What will it take to save for my child’s college education?
Higher education carries a high price tag. If you want to send your child to college, now is the time to start saving.

How do I calculate my budget as a full-time student?
This calculator is specifically designed to help students understand their expenses and income while attending a university, college or other full-time educational institution. It allows you to input your expenses and income for an eight-month school year.

How much financial aid can I expect for college?
If finances are tight, chances are you’re going to have to rely on some combination of savings, financial aid and student loans.

How do I choose and evaluate my 529 College Savings Plan?
The question isn’t should you invest in a 529 College Savings Plan, but rather, which one?

Should I live on campus, off campus or at home?

Should I go to grad school?
A graduate degree can be the ticket to a better career or the stepping stone to advancement in your current job. But by the time you factor in lost income and the inevitable student loans, is it really worth it? Weigh the actual costs versus the fiscal benefits.

What is the value of higher education?
This calculator takes into effect any increase in expected earnings after you graduate, your estimated education expenses, and any lost earnings during the time you are in school.


How does class work? Where do I fit in?
Four commonly used criteria for evaluating a person’s position in society (class) are education, income, occupation and wealth. This interactive graphic tool allows you to access your social class and examines how economic mobility has changed in recent decades.

How does my salary compare with others in my profession?
A free basic report shows national average salaries adjusted by location.

How does my income stack up? What portion of the tax burden do I pay?
Find out how your income stacks up against your fellow citizens.

How does my net worth compare with others?
See where you rank based on your age and income.

How does my budget compare to others?
Compiled with information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this worksheet tells you how much you’re spending relative to people in the same income bracket.

How does my savings compare with the national average?
See how much you will have accumulated when you reach age 65 and the national average of 401(k) savings in your age group.


Should I consolidate my debt?
The Debt Consolidation Calculator is designed to help determine if debt consolidation is right for you.

How can I accelerate my debt payoff?
Consolidating your debt is only half of the battle. You still need a plan to get your debt paid off.

How do I roll-down my credit card debt?
The Credit Card Roll-down Calculator applies two simple principles to paying off your credit card debt: 1) Payoff your highest interest rate first; 2) When a card balance is paid in full, apply its monthly payment to the card with the next highest interest rate. See how these principles can be applied to your debt to become debt-free.

Is my debt load too high for my income? Am I in financial trouble?
Find out how much you’re paying each month and whether your ratio of debt to income puts you at risk.

Do I have a spending problem?
The ideal spender saves money off the top, covers basic needs, stays out of debt, gives generously to charity and gets real pleasure from planned, prudent purchases. The Savvy Spending Quiz is designed to get you thinking about how you spend money and, perhaps, to bring you closer to the ideal.

What is my credit score?
See your potential credit score range by answering this credit survey.

What is my estimated range of FICO scores?
Answer these ten easy questions and they’ll give you a free estimated range for your three FICO® scores.

How do I find a credit card deal based on the criteria I care about most?
Try the Credit Card Analyzer.

Which is better for me: rebate card or low rate card?

How might a consolidated loan increase my investment balance?
Getting a consolidation loan can do more than payoff your debt. Use this Consolidation Loan Investment Calculator to see the results of paying off your debt and investing your payment savings.

How long will it take to pay off my credit cards if I only make the minimum payments?
Use the Credit Card Minimum Payment Calculator to calculate your debt pay off date.


Should I prepare my own will?
This quiz will help you assess your estate planning knowledge so you will have an idea of how much help you need to make sure what actually happens at your death is what you want to happen.

What is my life expectancy?
Your life expectancy is influenced by a number of factors including family history and your personal lifestyle.

What is my estimated estate tax liability?
Estimate your estate tax liability and project the value of your estate, and the associated estate tax, for the next ten years.


What goal is most important to me?
The Prioritizer helps you rank a series of goals or options which are most attractive to you.

What will it take to reach my savings goal?
Find out when you’ll reach your goal.

What will it take to save one million dollars?
Find out when your savings plan will make you a millionaire!


Should I prepay my mortgage? Or should I invest instead?
Compare what would happen if you took one of two choices with some extra cash you have — prepaying your mortgage each month, or investing it instead.

How much home equity will I have?
Estimate your current and future home equity by subtracting the balance on your mortgage from the projected value of your home.

Should I rent or should I buy a home?
Weed through the fees, taxes, monthly payments, home appreciation rates, inflation, future sales commissions, dues and maintenance costs to help you make a wise financial decision. (Note: I calculate 1.5% of the total home value, divide it by 12, and add it to the maintenance field.)

Am I paying too much for rent? Am I charging too little for rent?
Your rent is compared to comparable rental listings by proximity.

Should I be a landlord?
Buying a house or duplex to rent isn’t at all like investing in stocks or mutual funds. This is hands-on work that starts with finding a property capable of generating enough rental income to make the transaction pay off. See if the numbers work.

How much mortgage can I qualify for?
This calculator steps you through the process of finding out how much you can borrow.

What type of mortgage loan is best for me?
Compare mortgage payments and other monthly costs for different mortgage loan types. Get an estimate of the potential tax credit if you itemize and deduct interest on the loan.

Which mortgage loan is the best value?
Use this Loan Comparison Calculator to sort through the monthly payments, fees and other costs associated with getting a new loan. By comparing these important variables side by side, this calculator can help you pick the loan that works best for you.

How do I generate an amortization schedule for my current mortgage?
The Mortgage Loan Calculator calculates your monthly mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance payment (PITI) and amortization schedule.

What happens when my adjustable rate mortgage adjusts?
This calculator will help you find your new payment.

Should I refinance my mortgage?
Determine when you would break-even with a mortgage refinance.

Should I pay discount points for a lower interest rate?
You may decide to “buy down the interest rate” by paying extra money up front in the form of discount points. Determine if this might make sense for you.

What is my home’s rate of return?

What is the return on my real estate investment?
Purchase price, loan terms, appreciation rate, taxes, expenses and other factors are considerations when evaluating a real estate investment. Determine your potential IRR (internal rate of return) on a property.


Do I have the right kind of insurance?
The Insurance Planner evaluates you and your auto, home, health, life and career to make a personalized assessment of your insurance needs.

How much life insurance should I have?
Try the Life Insurance Needs Estimator to find out.

What are my disability insurance needs?
One of the most common causes of income loss is through a disability. While most disabilities cause only temporary loss of income, any income loss can be devastating if you are not financially prepared.


How Much Risk Can I Handle?
This quiz gets you thinking about your attitude toward, and capacity for, risk. It suggests typical investment portfolios based on your answers.

How should I mix stocks, bonds and cash in my investment portfolio?
The Asset Allocator is designed to help you create a balanced portfolio of investments using your age, ability to tolerate risk, and several other factors.

How much will my investment return?
Meeting your long-term investment goal is dependent on your investment capital, rate of return, inflation, taxes and your time horizon. Sort through these factors to determine your bottom line.

What was the Compound Annual Growth Rate (Annualized Return) of the S&P 500 over various time spans?
This calculator lets you find the annualized growth rate of the S&P 500 over the date range you specify; you’ll find that the CAGR is usually about a percent or two less than the simple average.

How can different investment fees impact my investment strategy?
Even a small difference in the fees you are pay on your investments can add up over time.

What will it take to reach my investment goal?
Determine how much your investment might grow before taxes, after taxes, and after taxes and inflation. It also provides suggestions on what to change if your plan doesn’t look like it will meet your investment goal.

How might I use debt to magnify my investment returns?
This Investment Loan calculator helps illustrate the effect of using a loan to purchase an investment or appreciable asset. Using debt as leverage to purchase investments can magnify your return. The downside is that you also increase your risk. For example, if your investment were to lose all of its value you would not only have lost your investment but you would still owe the balance on the loan.

How do I estimate the tax-equivalent yield for a municipal bond?
Income generated from municipal bond coupon payments are not subject to Federal income tax. In addition, if the bond was issued in your state of residence, you can also avoid state income taxes. Use this Municipal Bond Tax Equivalent Yield calculator to determine the yield required by a fully taxable bond to earn the same after tax income as a municipal bond.

How do taxes affect investments?
This Taxable vs. Tax Advantaged Investments calculator is designed to help compare a normal taxable investment, a tax deferred investment and tax-free investment.

Should I invest? Or should I prepay my mortgage instead?
This calculator allows you to compare what would happen if you took one of two choices with some extra cash you have — prepaying your mortgage each month, or investing it instead.

Which online broker is best for me?
How do you choose an online broker? The answer comes down to your priorities and what type of investor you are.

Should I be a landlord?
Buying a house or duplex to rent isn’t at all like investing in stocks or mutual funds. This is hands-on work that starts with finding a property capable of generating enough rental income to make the transaction pay off. See if the numbers work.


How much loan can I qualify for?
Use this Loan Prequalification Calculator as your first step in determining your ability to qualify for a loan.

How much will my loan payment be?
This simple tool calculates a mortgage, car loan, or any other simple interest amortization over a fixed time with fixed monthly payments.


How much am I worth?
Your net worth is the value of all of your assets, minus the total of all of your liabilities. This calculator helps you determine your net worth and estimates how your net worth could change over the next ten years.

According to The Millionaire Next Door, how wealthy am I?
In the book titled The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, there is an interesting wealth calculation. See where you stand.

How does my net worth compare with others?
See where you rank based on your age and income.


How much will it take to create a secure retirement?
Use this Retirement Nestegg Calculator to help determine what size your retirement nest-egg should be.

How much should I plan to save for retirement?
The charts and calculations will change as you go along, so try a few different numbers and see how different scenarios might play out for you.

Should I convert my regular IRA into a Roth IRA? Which type of IRA is the best choice for me? How much annual income might I have at retirement?

How much retirement income will my savings produce?
Annual savings, expected rate of return and current age impact monthly income during retirement. Will you have enough?

Do I know enough to plan my retirement?
Take this quiz to determine if you’re ready to tackle the task of planning your own retirement.

How might my expenses change after retirement?
The retirement expenses calculator will help you determine how your annual living expenses are likely to change after retirement.

How much might I receive in Social Security?
Use this calculator to help you estimate your Social Security benefits.

How will retirement affect my expenses?

Which savings should be used first?
Determine which accounts you should withdraw from first for income needed during your retirement.

How much money can I save in my 401(k) plan?

401(k): Should I spend it or save it?
Depending on your age and tax bracket, making the wrong decision can cost you thousands of dollars both in taxes and lost earnings. This calculator helps illustrate the difference.

What is the maximum self-employed retirement plan contribution I can make? Determine your maximum contribution amount for a Self-Employed 401(k), SIMPLE IRA and SEP based on the assumptions you input.


How much money should I stash for emergencies?
Having adequate emergency savings can make unforeseen unemployment, auto repairs, medical emergencies, property damage and legal issues more manageable.

How much can I save by packing my lunch instead of dining out?
Use this calculator to see how a simple change such as bringing a bagged lunch to work can really add up.

What will it take to reach my savings goal?
Find out when you’ll reach your goal.

What will it take to save one million dollars?
Find out when your savings plan may make you a millionaire!

How much would postponing my savings plan cost me?
Waiting to begin your savings plan can have a huge impact on your results. A delay of even a few years could cost you thousands of dollars.


What is my time worth?
Most people value their work time in relation to their gross pay, but several expenses should be subtracted. You’ll need some basic information about your spending habits to complete this worksheet.

This basic financial calculator works just like a pocket financial calculator. In addition to the normal calculator arithmetic it can also calculate present value, future value, payments or number or periods.

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