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Seven saving tips for women in their 20s

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Your twenties are an exciting time, as you wrap up your studies, embark on your career and perhaps even start a family. As a woman, it is important you begin saving and investing towards your future now, especially in today’s tough economic times.

Although mastering personal finance is an essential life skill, it is not taught in most schools. This means most adults only learn about money handling once they start earning a living; which could have potentially disastrous results.

Money, for most people is an emotionally charged subject; representing power, love, or even control, particularly in relationships. Research has found that your individual beliefs about money, coupled with your emotional attachment to it strongly influences the way you spend and handle money. Key personality traits such as assertiveness, optimism, and flexibility to change are among qualities linked to smarter money choices.

These essential tips for the modern woman can however make your money work for you, at any age, and keep you financially sharp.

Know where your money is going

The key to creating wealth has always been tied to spending less than you earn. Sheba Njagi is an entrepreneur and head of training at Centonomy. She puts emphasis on importance of coming up with a budget as the first step. A good current budget helps track expenses, but it can also reveal any cash flow problems that need solving. “You need to categorise your expenses. Break them down into those that are top priority-the ones you can’t live without, those that are important but not essential and those that are essential. This helps you identify opportunities for potentially wasted income that can be channelled towards your goals.”

In her book All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan, Elizabeth Warren shared and popularised the 50/20/30 budget rule. She advises that you divide your take-home money (after taxes) into three categories: essentials, lifestyle, and the future. 50 per cent of your income goes to needs and life’s must-haves such as rent, utilities, food and transportation. 20 per cent goes to wants and involves your lifestyle spending like travel, leisure activities, shopping and gym memberships. Thirty per cent should go into a savings account or a retirement fund.

Set goals

Handling money responsibly when you don’t have deep pockets takes a great deal of restraint, planning, patience and a strong desire to succeed. Financial experts always advise to ask yourself whether you have financial dreams or financial goals. A financial dream is something you hope for, but a financial goal is something you’ve planned for. A smart financial goal usually has what you plan to accomplish, details on the resources you need to make those goals happen, a timeframe for each goal and how each goal will fit into your budget.

By setting strategic financial goals, you become motivated as well as focused. Putting money aside for specific projects, special occasions, academic or professional courses, holidays or even gifts allows you to reap the benefits of discipline and having an extra income to channel these goals towards. “There’s no need to cut down on your expenses with no financial goal in mind” Sheba says, “without a specific goal you are more likely to go back to an unhealthy spending cycle.”

Actively track your spending

The first step to getting your finances in order is in tracking your cash. “It’s one thing to come up with a good budget but another to stick to it,” Sheba says, “depending on what you like, you can either download a spending tracker app if you are always on the phone. If not, you can write; basically note down every time you spend money.” This helps not only track the major, easily identifiable expenses but also the hidden, often overlooked ones like random purchases made in traffic during rush hour. Not physically seeing where your money is going may seem ill advised but direct debit automation is a fantastic option for saving plans.

Avoid debt

Sheba cautions against taking on debt for personal use no matter what. “Understand the difference between good and bad debt. Only take debts that will lead to income generation. Using a debt for personal use means you will still have to dip back into your already strained pocket to take care of other responsibilities.”

Find the right bank

Sheba advises first time salaried employees in particular to do extensive research and look at all the fine print when choosing a bank. “Before being wowed by the exclusive services some banks promise, look at the cost of transactions. “A good bank has a secure and user friendly mobile or online banking platform. They should also have free to low cost monthly charges. Aim for banks that help customers track every transaction on the account via text or email for instance.”

Invest as early as possible

Investment is usually targeted to one’s individual goals. According to Sheba, there are three main reasons why people invest and you have to understand what yours look like. “People invest in order to preserve their capital, to generate income or to grow their capital exponentially and for each objective there are specific types of investments that can work.” Fixed deposit accounts, unit trusts or sacco accounts are good examples of investments that preserve capital while giving a fairly decent return. For income generation one can attempt to maximise on a passive business idea which they can work on in their free time. There are also government bonds and treasury bills.

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Health Canada looking into pot firms’ sponsorship of charity event

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TORONTO — Health Canada is looking into whether two cannabis companies’ sponsorship of a children’s charity event last October is in violation of promotion restrictions within the Cannabis Act.

Cannabis sector companies Canopy Growth Corp. and Halo Labs were among the sponsors of an Oct. 23 event in support of Kids, Cops & Computers for the Merry Go Round Children’s Foundation, whose honorary chairman is federal Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair.

During the annual event called Inspiration Night, held in Toronto, the cannabis companies’ logos were used in a poster of sponsors and other materials, according to pictures posted by the non-profit online.

A Health Canada spokesman says the Cannabis Act does not prohibit the sponsorship of a person, entity, activity or facility but that sponsorship cannot be used to promote cannabis and it is prohibited to display a brand element of cannabis.

“We are gathering facts and information about the situation to determine whether there may be an instance of non-compliance with the promotion prohibitions in the Cannabis Act,” said Health Canada spokesman Geoffroy Legault-Thivierge in an email.

He added that Health Canada has followed up with the company to ensure it is aware of the promotions prohibitions, and it understands that the Foundation has removed the names of the cannabis companies from the list of sponsors on its website.

Under the Cannabis Act, that came into effect when Canada legalized pot for recreational use on Oct. 17 last year, there are strict guidelines on promotion and marketing. Those include a ban on promotion that is appealing to youth, and sponsorship of people, events or buildings. However, approaches between licensed producers in the months since legalization have varied and some industry players have said that reflects uncertainty on how to interpret murky portions of the act.

The act stipulates that it is prohibited to display, refer to or otherwise use a brand element of cannabis directly, or indirectly, in a promotion that is used in the sponsorship of a person, entity, event, activity or facility. As well, it is prohibited to display the name of a person that produces, sells, or distributes cannabis, sells or distributes a cannabis accessory or provides a service related to cannabis.

Merry Go Round’s president Mark Zwicker said at the time of the event, the Cannabis Act was so new it wasn’t clear whether brand elements could be used. The charity has since removed the logos from its website, he said.

“It’s a grey area and we don’t want to do anything that would materially affect the charity… I can assure you that no one that was involved with the charity would have knowingly taken any action that would contravene the act,” Zwicker said.

Canopy Growth said it is not prohibited from sponsoring an event as long as cannabis is not promoted.

“There was no promotion of Canopy’s donation,” stated spokeswoman Caitlin O’Hara. “The only public mention of Canopy Growth’s corporate donation was the company’s logo on the charity’s donation page and logo placement at the event itself, which was a private event.”

Halo Labs and Bill Blair did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The sponsorship portion of the Cannabis Act does have some “grey areas,” such as whether a holding company would be subject to the sponsorship restrictions, said Ottawa-based lawyer Trina Fraser.

“In and of itself, it is not a producer or distributor of cannabis, its subsidiaries are… I think there is still some greyness around that,” she said.

However, the act says it is prohibited to use a trademark or brand name slogan that evokes or is reasonably associated with cannabis, said Toronto-based lawyer Matt Maurer.

“Even if Canopy is the parent company, using their name is a brand element because it is associated with cannabis, that’s what they do…. There’s an argument to be made on both sides.”

When reviewing regulated activities under the act, Health Canada considers each situation on a “case by case-basis,” said Legault-Thivierge.

“A range of factors including, but not limited to, the purpose of any promotion, its content, its context, and its intended audience would be assessed when enforcing the prohibitions on promotion in the Cannabis Act,” he said.

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When it makes sense to pay your taxes with a credit card – and when it doesn’t

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Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network.

  • You can pay taxes with a credit card through third-party providers – not through the IRS website.
  • If you cannot pay off your credit-card balance immediately, you are better off setting up a payment plan with the IRS than using your credit card to pay your taxes.
  • Paying taxes with a credit card to earn a big sign-up bonus or reward points makes sense if the value exceeds the credit-card fee you will be charged.

You can pay your taxes with a credit card, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea. The IRS allows you to pay with a credit card through third-party partners or when you e-file your taxes through online tax services like TurboTax or H&R Block.

Paying taxes with a credit card isn’t free, but sometimes it could make sense. Here’s how to figure out what’s best for you.

What taxes you can pay with a credit card

You can pay your annual tax return, due when you file your taxes sometime between the beginning of the year and April 15. You can also use a credit card to pay quarterly estimated tax payments, which are most common for people who are self-employed or who have freelance income. Some states, cities, and counties allow you to pay income and property taxes with a credit card as well.

Read more: The IRS says the busiest day of tax season is right around the corner, and there’s a simple way to beat the rush

What it costs to pay your taxes with a credit card or debit card

The IRS works with three payment processors to handle tax payments made via debit or credit card. There are also options for paying your tax bill with a credit card when you e-file.

Debit card payments require a small flat fee, but you can just as easily pay your taxes with a bank account transfer for free. In most cases, that will be the better option. For paying your taxes with a credit card through a third-party processor, you’ll pay the following convenience fees:

If you pay your taxes with your credit card when you file online through tax software like TurboTax or H&R Block, the fees typically start at 2.49%, but could be even higher.

When not to pay taxes with a credit card

Deciding whether it makes sense to pay an extra fee when filing your taxes depends on your card’s rewards and your ability to pay it off before the next statement due date.

If you can’t pay off your balance in full every month, you should avoid paying your taxes with your credit card. With average credit-card-interest rates around 17%, it is better to set up a payment plan with the IRS than pay huge interest charges from your credit card (not to mention the convenience fee). Interest rates associated with an IRS payment plan will be around 5% or so.

When to pay taxes with a credit card

If you do pay your balance off in full every month, you could be a good candidate to pay your taxes with a credit card – but only if the rewards are bigger than the fee.

If you use the Citi Double Cash Card, for example, you’ll get the equivalent of 2% cash back. That’s more than the fee. If you use points from Chase Freedom Unlimited, at 1.5% cash back (or 1.5x points per dollar spent), as travel rewards paired up with a premium Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, it could also make sense – when you hold the Sapphire Preferred, you get a bonus when you redeem points for travel through Chase, and you can get a higher value by transferring points to airline frequent flyer partners. Consequently, the value of each point can be well over 2¢.

Alternatively, if you’re using your taxes to hit the minimum spend requirement on a credit card’s sign-up bonus, you might end up getting way more than 1.87% back.

But if you don’t get rewards or the value is less than 1.87%, you should only use a card if it will get you over the hurdle for a bonus. Otherwise, you will spend more than you get back in rewards!

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More people put off home buying, due to student debt: Survey

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If you graduated from college years ago and are still reeling from the costs, you’re not alone.

A new survey from Bankrate shows that 73 percent of respondents have delayed at least one major life milestone because of their student loan debt. Participants said they’ve put off buying a house (23 percent), saving for retirement (29 percent), saving for emergencies (34 percent) or paying off other debt (27 percent).

“For prospective students and their families, many of who will help them to pay for their secondary education, we’d urge them to investigate all possible options for financial aid including scholarships to limit their borrowing, ” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate, in an email.

Bankrate surveyed 3,885 adults in the U.S. this February. The average student loan debt in 2019 is $33,310, according to financial-service marketplace Credible.

“There’s a huge toll being taken on individuals and the U.S. economy from the growing burden of student loan debt,” Hamrick said. “For the huge slice of the American population with debt, it is necessary to juggle competing goals including saving for emergencies and retirement, as well as major life decisions.”

Looking back, 77 percent of millennials with student debt said they would have made different financial decisions in college, according to the survey.

Among those regrets? Thirty percent of respondents said they would apply for more scholarships, 19 percent said they would have gone to a community college and 18 percent reported they would attend a different university.

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If you’re applying for colleges now, there’s options when it comes to footing the bill.

Melissa Ridolfi, vice president for retirement and college leadership at Fidelity Investments, told CNBC that Fidelity is seeing parents become more educated when it comes to their children’s college funds.

When it comes to funding your child’s education, Ridolfi had these tips: Start saving as early as possible, have a dedicated savings account (such as a 529 plan) and save regularly.

“We see 37 percent of parents starting to save before their child is even 2 years old,” she said.

Financing a college education? You should:
• Start saving early;
• Establish a routine and save regularly; and
• Put funds in a separate account.

Fidelity also has a gifting platform (similar to GoFundMe), in which people can send out a link and family members and friends can donate money to someone’s 529 plan.

“We’re also seeing that parents are more realistic about the cost of coverage and how much of that they can cover themselves,” Ridolfi said.

“They definitely understand the importance of saving and saving early.”

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