4 Habits of Productive People
(Family Features)—Appointments, meetings, tasks…life can get hectic both professionally and personally. Staying productive on a packed schedule can be difficult, but it’s not impossible—especially if you practice the following habits:
1. Rest – It seems counterproductive (pun intended), but without enough rest, it’s all the more challenging to stay on top of your schedule. It may be difficult initially to carve out time to rest, but it will pay off in the long run—even if you do something as simple as putting away your computer or phone an hour before bedtime.
2. Schedule Everything – Schedule all obligations on a calendar—mundane included. Having this information readily accessible frees up brain space for the more important tasks in your day.
3. Embrace Technology – Many tools today make keeping track easier than ever. One such tool is the “smartpad,” an alternative to paper notebooks with the benefit of digitizing every idea or reminder so that they’re available from any device.
4. Keep Clean – Messy areas can make you feel disorganized and overwhelmed, hindering your ability to be productive. Sprucing up at the end of each day helps you “wind down,” preparing you to be just as productive tomorrow.
What habits do you practice to stay productive?
5 Smart Things to Do with $1,000
By Barbara Pronin
It’s a great feeling: you received a hard-earned bonus at work, or an unexpected gift from a relative. The impulse to buy something you pine for is strong.
Before you spend that $1,000, think what it can help accomplish if you take one of these five steps, say investment advisors at the Motley Fool:
1. Create an Emergency Fund – Statistics say 62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings—not nearly enough to pay for emergencies. If you’re one of them, take that $1,000 to the bank and crank up your emergency fund. You’ll feel a lot better when you find your car needs repair and you don’t have to haul out the plastic!
2. Pay Off Debt – Carrying credit card balances wastes money on interest payments, affording you less spend-able cash. Use that $1,000 to pay down debt, which may also improve your credit score—ideal if you need to borrow money or apply for a home loan down the line.
3. Save for Retirement – Add that $1,000 to your 401(k), IRA or savings account. Those in their 30s who invest it in stocks could generate an average annual return of 8 percent—or, if you put it into savings, could grow it to $15,000 by age 65.
4. Invest in Your Child’s Education – While student loans are an option, the less debt your kids take on, the better positioned they’ll be to start adulthood on financially solid ground. If you’re on track for retirement, have adequate emergency savings, and aren’t carrying credit card debt, put that $1,000 in a traditional brokerage account, a 529 or another type of college savings plan.
5. Invest in Yourself – If a degree or certification stands between you and a promotion and a raise—or if you plan to launch a side business or a new career—put that $1,000 windfall into making your dream a reality.
A: A mechanic’s lien is a “hold” against your property that provides contractors and suppliers legal recourse to assure payment for services. The liens vary from state to state and allow for a cloud on the title of your property and foreclosure action. Also, if you paid the contractor, but he failed to pay the subcontractors and laborers – who do not have a contract with you – then the workers may file a mechanic’s lien on your home. This could result in a double payment by you for the same job. You can protect yourself from unwarranted liens by selecting your contractor carefully and managing your construction project responsibly. Also, most construction lenders will specify a payment distribution process that involves the securing of lien waivers. The remodeling contract should address this as well, assuring that the general contractor is responsible for all payments as well as any costs required to remedy lien disputes that may arise.
Millennials and Personal Finance: New Technology, Old Challenges
Millennials have conflicted feelings about their personal finances; they are uncertain but lean toward optimism. This conclusion is in accordance with a recently released Experian report originating from a survey of more than 1,000 millennials, ages 19-34, about a variety of personal finance topics – from their future views, to loan status, to credit knowledge, to use of technology.
The survey follows a July 2015 report from Experian that analyzed credit bureau data and placed millennials last in generational credit score rankings.
Topline survey results include:
- A surprising number lack knowledge about credit – or show apathy toward it
- A majority have had their credit, loan or lease attempts impacted – positively or negatively – by credit scores
- Millennials embrace technology and are quick to try new offerings – at the expense of loyalty
“Millennials are coming of financial age at a very unique time,” says Guy Abramo, President, Experian Consumer Services. “They’ve experienced a recession and the explosive advancement of personal technology. As a result, they’ve developed different views toward managing money, using credit and how they expect financial services to be delivered. The survey also showed that millennials will abandon loyalty for better products and services, which is something the entire financial services sector should consider; the pressure is on to keep innovating.”
Perception vs. Reality:
- Millennials miss the mark when estimating their generation’s average credit score (654 [est.] vs. 625 [actual]), average debt $26,610 [est.] vs. $52,210 [actual], and average debt, excluding mortgage ($12,580 [est.] vs. $26,485 [actual]).
- Despite being associated most closely with student loan debt, credit card debt takes first position as the most common millennial debt (38%), followed closely by student loans (36%). Others, in descending order, are: auto loans (28%), home loans (20%), personal loans (17%) and “other” (14%).
Pushing the Edge of Personal Finance:
- The majority of millennials (57%) use financial mobile apps to manage their finances
- Millennials have, on average, three financial apps on their phones
- Most (57%) millennials are willing to use alternative companies/services that innovate to better meet their needs
- A significant number of millennials (39%) are familiar with “non-bank” lenders (e.g., Prosper, Lending Tree, Upstart) and 13% have already used such a service
- Nearly half (47%) will likely use alternative lenders in the future, citing easier application process, not dependent solely on credit score, more accessible, faster review process and digital savvy
Loyalty to a Financial Brand Is a Tough Sell:
- Many millennials (46%) look for new financial companies/services that better meet their needs
- More than 3 out of 4 millennials will switch financial accounts if they find a better alternative
- Most frequently mentioned reasons to switch include: better interest rates (47%), better reward programs (43%), better identity protection (32%) and better customer service (35%), among others
Credit Knowledge Deficit:
- Most millennials feel confident of their credit knowledge (71%); however, 32% don’t know their credit scores and 67% have questions as to how their scores are created
- Among those who check their reports less than every three months, reasons for not checking reports and scores include: not necessary (35%/37%), afraid it will hurt their scores (24%/22%), unsure how to check their credit reports/scores (19%/18%)
- Millennials are very aware of how credit scores impact them; nearly 3 in 4 had a lending or leasing experience helped or hurt by their credit scores
Youthful Angst, but Optimism Prevails:
- Despite most having a handle on their finances (73%), more than half feel that they are “going it alone” (59%) and that “the odds are stacked against them” (57%)
- Top financial future concerns are supporting a family (30%), retirement savings (28%) and financial independence (25%)
- Nearly 3 out of every 4 survey participants had their loan, credit or rental applications impacted – positively or negatively – by their credit scores
- Despite the concerns, 83% of respondents says being debt-free is an attainable goal; 71% feel confident about their financial futures
View the full report here.