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Home Sweet Home: Avoid These Energy-Wasting Habits

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Originally published on Michael Dinich’s website.

We all have bad habits. It’s the human condition. Some people don’t take the proper steps in caring for their health. Others carelessly drain their savings account on frivolous purchases. But what if your bad habit didn’t only affect you – it affected the environment as well?

Do you actually pay attention to your energy bill every month? If so, you should question why you’re paying as much as you are. But most of us are comfortable paying this amount because it’s what we are accustomed to.

What if a simple look into how you utilize energy in your home meant more money in your wallet every month? Check to see if you are guilty of these bad, energy-wasting habits. Once you know how to break these habits, you can begin saving more of your hard-earned money, as well as reducing your carbon footprint.

If it’s not being used, unplug it.

Sometimes it’s just easier to leave things plugged in. However, this mentality could end up costing you an extra $38 every electric bill. If you are not using an electronic device or kitchen appliance, unplug it.

Entertainment systems, iPhone chargers, coffee makers – all of these appliances use electricity even when they are not being used. This is called phantom power because it happens unbeknownst to most homeowners, which is why many individuals don’t think to unplug something as seemingly small as an Xbox every time it’s not in use.

Yet, these devices suck up energy just by being plugged in and count as 10 percent of household energy use. You can make it even easier on yourself by using power strips, which only require the flip of a switch to turn off the power to a few sources.

If you’re not in the room, turn off the lights.

It’s obvious that all lights in your house should be turned off while you are gone for the day. But even when you’re at home, get into the habit of turning off the light every time you go from room to room.

If you only have a few dishes, hold off on cleaning them.

If cleanliness is important to you, it may be tempting to wash your dishes every time you have a few dirty plates or glasses. Hold off until you have a full load to run your dishwasher. Used daily, the energy used by your dishwasher could add $66 to your bill annually.

If you need to relax, opt for a hot shower.

There is nothing more relaxing than a hot bath after a long day. This is okay every now and then, but don’t make it a daily habit. Opt for a shower instead if you need to unwind. This switch from bath to shower could save a homeowner 15-25 percent on their energy bill.

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Your Guide To Retirement: How Much You Should Have Saved By Every Age

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Originally published on Michael Dinich’s website.

Saving for retirement can be overwhelming. Fretting about how much money you should have saved or how much you should be saving at a certain point in your life are two questions that can weigh heavily on anyone’s conscious.

They say that every 5 years you should aim for saving the equivalent of a one year’s salary. For example, if your income is 80k a year and you are around 30 years old, you want to have at least $80,000 in your retirement fund.

Here are some bullet points on what you should be aiming for in your goals for saving for retirement:

  • 30 years of age – 80k saved
  • 35 years of age – 160k saved
  • 40 years of age – 240k saved
  • 45 years of age – 320k saved
  • 50 years of age – 400k saved

Use this as a guide for the amounts you want to have saved at certain points in your life.

There will be factors that may change the amount you put away for your fund, however. These factors include a change in career, being rewarded with a raise, or having expensive medical bills that need to be paid off.

If you are behind on your retirement goals, you can look to other means to catch up. Investing your money is an option that can reap big rewards for your retirement fund. Do research on companies you want to invest in and allocate funds to do so. Help make your money work for you so you can enjoy the retired life!

You can also set an age goal for your retirement. This number will be the focal point to how much you save and how aggressive your investment profile should be to reach your goal.

Consider what type of lifestyle you want to live during retirement. If you are thinking you want to increase or decrease your expenses, then plan your savings for your retirement accordingly.

The goal should be to set aside money every month for your retirement fund, no matter if the amount is large or small. If something comes up that restricts your budget, it’s still better to save something. Getting into the habit of saving a portion of your paycheck will help you later down the line as you begin to add more to your retirement fund!

Buying Vs. Leasing Solar Panels For Your Home

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Originally published on Michael Dinich’s website.

In 2016, the United States hit a pretty significant milestone in renewable energy. Over 1 million households across the nation invested in solar panels for their homes!

But individuals are not the only ones who see the huge benefits of solar energy. In addition to the 1 million homes that installed solar panels, businesses also followed suit, adding solar panels to their buildings when possible.

Solar energy is just a minor glimpse into renewable energy and the impact it can have on our environment, but it is perhaps the area of renewable energy that has been growing the fastest. Not only is the cost per watt much cheaper now – coming in at a mere $3.79, which is a little more than what you would pay for a cup of coffee – but solar panels have also become more efficient now that they have been around for longer.

Solar energy, at its most basic level, is more cost-efficient, works to reduce carbon pollution, and helps our nation conserve the water we so desperately rely on every day. While more people are realizing just how advantageous and important solar energy is, some are hesitant to join the trend of renewable energy because of how expensive it can be at the onset. One common concern surrounding solar energy is figuring out how to financially invest in it.

What are the benefits of buying solar panels?

When you purchase solar panels either with or without financial aid, you are already working to maximize the finances that you have already invested. This is possible through tax credits created by the government to aid people interested in “going green.” Currently, there is a 30 percent tax credit for those that buy solar panels.

There is no denying that you will benefit greatly from the long-term savings that come with purchasing a solar power system, especially if you qualify for the tax credit. However, even with the help of a loan and the potential for the greatest benefits, this can still be financially restrictive for some individuals.

What are the benefits of leasing solar panels?

Leasing solar panels has made renewable energy more accessible to households and businesses that may not be able to purchase a solar power system outright. This option is also what has helped to increase the number of solar panels being used across the nation. While leasing solar panels will not yield the highest financial success over time, these individuals can start saving money faster.

Whether you chose to buy or lease solar panels, your decision will not only have a significant impact on the environment, but you will also reap the benefits of solar energy yourself.

The Top 10 Questions To Ask Your Financial Advisor

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Originally published on Michael Dinich’s website.

Managing investments can be difficult, which is why so many people hire a financial advisor to help aid them in the process. These experts are supposed to help you plan your investments in order for you to successfully strengthen your financial safety net.

While a financial advisor’s credentials look good on paper, it’s important to remember that there are often individuals in every profession that are only offering their services in order to take advantage of their clientele base.

To avoid entrusting your money with a scam artist, make sure to ask any financial advisor you are contemplating working with these ten important questions:

1. Are you a fiduciary?

Fiduciaries are required by law to put their clients’ best interests above their own. They are required to inform clients of any conflicts of interest, including, for example, how they are compensated. You can also ask if an advisor receives kickbacks from certain products.

2. Do you guarantee a certain investment return?

This is one of the most telling signs of a fraud. Financial advisors cannot guarantee an investment return and could find themselves in legal trouble if they would. If someone tries to guarantee you anything, do not hire them, no matter how good their rates seem.

3. Who, specifically, would I be working with?

Some investment firms set up meetings with a senior advisor to gain clients before handing them over to a junior advisor. Make sure to meet and speak with the person who would handle your money, especially since it could be someone different from who you originally researched and met with. It is important to see that they check out as well.

4. What services do you provide?

The services firms provide vary, from simply investment advising to wealth management. Identify your needs and choose a firm that meets them or else there could be conflicts that arise in the future concerning your finances.

5. How much contact do you have with your clients?

If you’re more of a hands-off client, you may not care about this answer, but it is still important to know. If something drastic happens with your investments, you may want to get in contact with your advisor. Make sure they will make time for you, especially in the event of an emergency.

6. What credentials do you have?

An advisor without adequate credentials is not typically someone you want to work with. Ensure they have the proper licenses and certifications before you accept their services.

7. Can you optimize my portfolio for taxes?

A worthwhile financial advisor will have the means to strategize where to place your money for the most benefit. Not all investments work the same, so they should recognize the differences easily.

8. How much is the smallest portfolio you manage, versus the average and the largest amount?

Although you may have more than enough money to work with an advisor, some only take extremely large accounts. It is important to know if you match the profile of their typical client so you are treated as such.

9. Do you have different investment plans depending on risk tolerance?

Risk tolerance is one of the largest factors in investing, so a financial advisor should have an idea of where to start, depending on your level of comfort. If they approach each account exactly the same, this should be a giant red flag that they do not care about your best interests.

10. Why should I work with you?

Simply put, your financial advisor should impress you with this response.

Choosing a financial advisor can be one of the most challenging tasks for anyone, but these questions are a great starting point for you to weed out those who do not meet your needs. To find the best financial advisor for you, make sure to speak with multiple advisors and do not compromise what you want for their benefit!