4 Ways to Bring Your Dream Kitchen to Life

A kitchen remodel or makeover not only adds value to your home, it will almost feel like you’ve got a new home. Here’s 4 ways to bring your dream kitchen to life. 

1.) Know your budget 

First, sit down and crunch some numbers. 

  • With $5,000, you can spring for a fresh coat of paint, replace faucets, pick up a new light fixture and spruce up the area with some modern accessories.
  • With $15,000, you can also buy a new appliance or two, replace your countertops and install new, budget-friendly cabinets.

If you’re planning on spending more, you might be able to redo your entire kitchen. When determining how much to spend, remember that recently remodeled kitchens return between 80 and 105% of their cost when a home is sold.

2.) Choose your cabinets

These are your cabinet options:

  • Cabinets with wood panels and solid wood frames are sturdy, budget-friendly and fashionable.
  • Porcelain-tile cabinets are a fantastic new option that look almost exactly like wood for half the price.
  • Laminate is your cheapest option for cabinets. It’s durable, easy to clean and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Refinish the outside of your cabinets instead of replacing them for a new look that doesn’t bust your budget.

3.) Make a splash

Replacing your sink’s faucet, bowl or hardware can modernize your kitchen without costing much.

Brushed nickel is the most popular choice for faucets right now, largely due to its durability. The least expensive faucet finish is chrome, while brass is another long-lasting, economical choice.

If you’re replacing your sink’s bowl as well, there are three main styles to consider:

  • Farmhouse bowls are super-large and deep. On the flip side, their large size means they often require a customized base cabinet for installation.
  • Top-mount bowls have a “drop-in” rim that keeps the sink in place. This makes installation simple, but creates a prime place for dirt to gather.
  • Undermount sinks are trendy and look sleek, but can take double the installation time.  

4.) Choose your countertops

The trending countertop choices are granite, quartz and stone. These materials are beautiful, easy to maintain and can last for years. If you need something more budget-friendly, you might want to go with ceramic tile. It’s durable, comes in almost any imaginable color, and is a fraction of the price of stone.

Another great option is laminate. It’s easy to install and is also available in many patterns and colors.  Lastly, consider going with solid wood. You can have it sanded and treated to give it an extra long life, and it will give your kitchen a warm finish.

Longing for an upgrade and short on savings or cashflow? You can still have your dream kitchen. Call, click, or stop by UCCU today to learn about our Personal Loans, Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit.  

Your Turn: Have you recently remodeled your kitchen?  Tell us what money saving options worked for you in the comments!

 

 SOURCES:

https://www.marthastewart.com/1083498/7-steps-your-dream-kitchen

https://www.hgtv.com/design/rooms/kitchens/how-to-get-a-to-die-for-kitchen-without-killing-your-budget

https://clark.com/homes-real-estate/budget-diy-kitchen-remodel-for-less-than-15000

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All You Need to Know About Smishing Scams

Text messaging has come under attack as one of the most vulnerable mediums for identity theft and more. Here’s what you need to know about an SMS message-based scam called “smishing.”

How it works

Smishing scams use text messages to establish contact with the intended victim to later access their personal information.

The scam begins with a supposedly urgent text appearing to be from the victim’s financial institution. The text may claim that the victim’s checking account is locked, or that there has been an unauthorized purchase charged to the victim’s account. The scammer will warn that immediate action must be taken.

The victim is then instructed to call a specified number and, upon doing so, will be asked to share their financial information. Once they’ve got their hands on this info, the scammer is free to steal the victim’s identity, empty their accounts or go on a shopping spree on the victim’s dime.

Who are the victims?

Smishing scams primarily target people who do their banking online, but fraudsters will use any cellphone number they can find. If you own a checking account and a cellphone, you are a candidate for a smishing scam.

Recognizing smishing scams

Your credit union will not alert you of a possible fraud or account lockdown via text; we prefer more personal means to help you know it’s us.

You can also spot the smishing scam just by looking at the phone number. The text will often appear to come from a number that is obviously fake.

If you’ve been targeted

If you receive a suspicious-looking text, do not engage the texter! Jot down the scammer’s number and delete the message. Let us know about the smishing attempt, tell all your friends and alert the FTC.

If you’ve fallen for the scam and your accounts have been compromised, alert your credit card companies and be sure to let us know, too.

Protecting yourself

  1. Always use two-factor authentication for banking app and sites.
  2. Use strong and different passwords across your accounts and apps.
  3. Ignore all text messages from unknown numbers.

Don’t let those crooks get their hands on your money!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a smishing scam? Tell us all about it in the comments! 

SOURCES:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/saltzman/2017/07/03/delete-suspicious-text-messages-on-your-smartphone/439647001/

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/fortune/2017/07/07/smishing-scam

https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2015/01/23/5-scams-that-target-your-bank-account

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/12/this-growing-fraud-will-drain-your-bank-account.html

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Investing – Step #9: Start Investing!

Now that you’ve determined your risk factor, and have chosen your investment style along with a source of financial advice, it’s finally time to start investing beyond your existing retirement funds.

You may choose to start with a low-risk investment vehicle, such as a bond, a certificate or a money market fund. Or, you may decide you’re ready for something a little more risky, like a stock.

Here’s a list of investment vehicles and what you need to know about each choice. Our list begins with the lowest-risk options and progressively gets riskier. Find the vehicle that most suits your needs and personality, and then start investing!

1.) Bonds

A bond is essentially a loan to a company or to the government. Suppose the city you live in wants to build a park. The city may choose to sell bonds to fund this project. In exchange, they will make regular “coupon” payments at a fixed percentage to all investors. At the end of the bond term – typically 10 years – the city will pay back the initial investment. Thus, a bond holds no risk to the investor and a guaranteed promise of growth.

Bonds have a noticeable lack of the volatility that is common in stock investments. However, because of the minimal risk, there is also minimal growth. Your gains are fixed and not dependent on the success of your investment. While it’s not as exciting as a stock that has the potential to earn you huge returns, a bond is nonetheless a safe, secure place to start investing.

2.) Share Savings Certificates (similar to CDs)

A share savings certificate (aka, certificate) is like a certificate of deposit. It is the most straightforward investment you can make. You can even set one up at UCCU!

With it, you are trading in the right to withdraw your money for a specific length of time while it is on deposit with a financial institution. In return, you receive a set dividend rate for that period, and it is not subject to change, regardless of what happens to general interest rates.  You are required to keep the money in the certificate until maturity of the term length. Withdrawing cash early will net you a penalty that is generally equal to three months’ worth of dividends.

The amount you’ll earn with a certificate is dependent on the term and the rate being paid at the time of account opening. However, even if current rates are low, if you lock in your money for a while, you can earn more than a general savings rate, making certificates a great low-risk investment.

3.) Money Market Funds

When you buy a money market fund, you are buying a pool of investments, automatically creating diversification and minimizing risk. Typically, a money market fund will include CDs and short-term bonds, along with other low-risk investments. They are usually sold by brokerage firms and mutual fund companies.

Unlike CDs, money market funds are liquid, which means you can withdraw your deposits without waiting for a maturity date.

4.) Dividend-Paying Stocks

Many well-established companies pay dividends on their stocks that are higher than what you can get on safer investments like CDs . As stocks, though, they are naturally not as safe as fixed-income securities.

Dividend-paying stocks are a great option because they combine a fixed income with the possibility for growth. Also, in case of a declining market, you can still earn income from your stock, even when the price of your shares fluctuates. They are often the ideal choice in a bear market, which is when investors look toward income-producing stock over growth.

5.) Stocks

If you feel ready to dip into the general stock market, there is still some work you should consider. Before you plunk down your money, carefully research your chosen company. Don’t buy a single stock without having a clear understanding of that company’s current financial situation.

You can begin your research with some of these resources:

  1. The company’s annual report
  2. The 10K and 10Q reports that the company files with the SEC

3. Standard & Poor‘s Stock Reports

Value Line Investment Survey

5. The Wall Street Journal and/or Investor‘s Business Daily

If you find leafing through a newspaper or reams of a report to be tedious, you don’t have to resort to blind investing. With the information superhighway, research is easier than ever. The following list of resources are available online and will clue you in to your company’s financial standing:

1.                  Bloomberg

2.                  Financial Sense

3.                  Forbes

4.                  King World News

5.                  MarketWatch

6.                  The Ludwig von Mises Institute

7.                  Nasdaq

8.                  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Your Turn: Outside of retirement, what was your first investment and how did it fare? Share your experiences with us in the comments!

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Debit & Credit Card Safety

“And how are you paying for your purchases today?” 

It’s a question we have to answer almost every day. Will you be using cash, a credit card or a debit card? 

It may be instinct for you to pull out any piece of plastic without thinking, but your random card of choice might not be the safest way to pay. Sometimes, you’ll want to use a credit card. And sometimes,  its a better idea to pay with a debit card. Still other times, you’re best off using cash. 

Let’s explore when and how to use your debit card. 

Credit and debit: How are they different? 

They’re both plastic, with a series of numbers, a security code and your name embedded on them. So, how are debit and credit cards different? 

A better question might be: How are they the same? Appearances aside, your credit and debit cards have very little in common. 

Credit cards allow you to choose your purchases now, and pay for them weeks, months or even years later. If you let your balance grow, you’ll be paying for a lot more than it really costs in the way of interest. But, if you make timely payments, you’ll have yourself a small loan that usually costs you little to nothing. Credit cards also offer rewards, purchase protection and the ability to back out of a purchase you’ve decided against. You can also contest fraudulent charges on your account, freeze your credit on a compromised card or even close the card completely. 

Debit card transactions, on the other hand, take the money right out of your checking account as soon as you swipe. Some point of sale terminals put a freeze on the amount, removing it from your account a few days later. But, either way, you won’t be able to access that money and you won’t have to worry about paying for it later. There’s no interest here, but there also may be no purchase protection, depending upon your financial institution. Finally, in case of fraud you may need to resort to closing your checking account. However, usually a simple issuing of a new debit card is all that’s needed.  

Which one’s better? It depends on the purpose. Debit cards are great for helping you stick to your budget and won’t send you into a cycle of debt. However, because they may offer very little recourse in cases of fraud, credit cards are usually the better choice in the most vulnerable situations. 

5 purchases you should carefully consider before using your debit card 

According to data from FICO, during the first 6 months of 2017, the number of compromised ATMs and point-of-sale devices was 21% higher than it was in the first 6 months of 2016. Don’t let your card be next! 

Here’s where you may not want to use your debit card: 

1.) At the pump 

Card skimmers at gas stations are on the rise. By choosing to use your credit card instead of your debit card at the pump, you’ll have an added layer of protection against fraud. You can also choose to use cash. It’s the safest way to pay (so long as you watch out for pickpockets!). 

2.) At an isolated ATM 

The ATM at UCCU? Definitely safe to use.

The one at the crowded pharmacy? Probably OK.

The machine in a secluded corner of an empty convenience store? Very possibly tampered with. 

Isolated ATMs in locations with very little security and sparse foot traffic are prime targets for hackers. It’s best to give these machines a wide berth and pick up your cash at your local UCCU branch. 

3.) In an unfamiliar location 

When on vacation, it’s important to think before you swipe. You don’t know the area and you can’t be certain which clerks are to be trusted. You’re better off paying with a credit card or with cash so your purchases are protected against fraud. 

Also, a large charge in an area you never frequent might cause your purchases to be flagged as fraudulent. Let your credit union know about your trip and be careful how you swipe! 

4.) For large purchases 

If you’re springing for a new entertainment center or another big-ticket item, you’re best off using your credit card. It’ll offer you dispute rights in case the product doesn’t turn out how you expected, and you might be granted an extended warranty just for using a credit card.

5.) Restaurants 

Can you really trust the servers at your favorite restaurant with your personal financial information? When you hand them your debit card at the end of the meal, that’s exactly what you’re doing. The server has more than enough time to clone your card and then use it for any purchases they’d like to make. Unless your restaurant has a tableside payment system, you’re better off using a credit card or cash to pay for your meal. 

Look out for skimmers 

Always use caution when using your debit or credit card. Check the payment processor for anything that looks out of place, such as a newer keypad on an older machine, or a hard-to-use slot for your card. Don’t forget to cover the keypad with your hand when inputting your PIN. 

Stay ahead of hackers by using your debit card with caution! 

Your Turn: Was your debit card ever compromised? Share your experience with us in the comments!

 

SOURCES:

https://budgeting.thenest.com/problems-using-debit-cards-gas-pumps-23710.html

https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/10-places-not-to-use-debit-card-1271.php

https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/gas-pump-atm-skimmers.php

http://news4sanantonio.com/news/local/skimming-devices-found-on-pumps-at-northwest-side-gas-station

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5 Ways to Budget for Your Wedding

Q: I’m ready to tie the knot, but I don’t know if I can afford to have a wedding! Between the flowers, gown and venue, it’s thousands and thousands of dollars. How can I cut costs without compromising on my special day?

A: If you’re finding the costs of your wedding to be prohibitive, you’re not alone. According to wedding magazine The Knot, the average American wedding costs upward of $35,000.

That’s a lot of money to spend on one day, especially for twenty- and thirty-somethings who might still be carrying college debt and are probably at the starting end of their earning potential. It should come as no surprise, then, that more than half of newly married couples are still paying off debt from their special day years after the honeymoon is over. 

This doesn’t mean you need to give up your dreams of a spectacular gown and a three-tiered wedding cake. 

By planning ahead, choosing wisely and prioritizing what’s truly important, you can say “I Do”  without stressing over wedding costs. 

Here’s how: 

1.) Start saving now 

Instead of waiting for that special someone to pop the question, start saving now!

Ramit Sethi, popular finance blogger and author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, says this is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to planning for their weddings. The average age of marriage is 27 for men and 26 for women. If you start saving for your wedding when you’re 20, explains Sethi, you’ll only need to put away $333 a month. But if you start at age 26, you’ll need to put away $2,333 a month!

Start saving now and take your vows, debt-free.

2.) Time it right

Don’t assume you need to get married on a balmy Saturday in July. Think off-season and mid-week, and you’ll save a bundle!

First, consider a winter wedding. You might not have the luxury of sunny skies and blossoming flowers, but you’ll have the warmth and coziness of being inside on a freezing winter’s day. You can treat your guests to steaming hot cocoa and then set off for the ski slopes and a dreamy wintry honeymoon.

Best of all, you’ll shave thousands of dollars off the venue price by choosing an unusual time of year to get married.

Second, think beyond Saturdays. If you can find a church with a vacancy on a Sunday, grab it! Venue prices can drop dramatically with just a one-day switch.

You can also opt for a mid-week wedding that precedes a national holiday date, like July 4th or Thanksgiving. This way, your guests will still be able to enjoy the evening without rushing home.

3.) Skip the cake

A slice of a dessert for $2.50 that doesn’t even taste that good? Meh. Who needs it?

Here are some other ideas:

  • Fake your cake. If you can’t stomach the idea of a cake-less wedding, ask your baker to fake it for you by creating a false, cardboard bottom for your cake and only baking a genuine top layer or two. You’ll get the same look without the huge cost and you won’t be left with half a cake to trash when the wedding’s over.
  • Set up a bar. No, we’re not talking liquor. Make your wedding a conversation piece by setting up a dessert bar instead of a cake. You can serve hot waffles with ice cream, chocolate syrup, caramel sauce and a huge selection of other fun toppings. Or, you can choose to serve warm brownies or chocolate chip cookies as your base instead. Make it super fun with a hot chocolate fountain. Everything’s better with chocolate. You’ll be pampering your guests at a fraction of the cost!
  • Serve a sheet cake instead. Still want a cake you can eat in its entirety? Order a simple sheet cake from the best bakery in town. Your guests will be happy to savor a slice —  even without all that fondant and frosting.

4.) Save on your gown

Every little girl dreams of her special day – and the special dress she’ll be wearing when it finally comes. But wedding gowns can cost thousands of dollars, and after being worn once, are often left to turn yellow in a forgotten corner of an attic.

Instead of throwing out thousands or even hundreds of dollars on your gown, look for a pre-owned gown on eBay, OnceWed.com or PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com.  You can find a beautiful, gently used gown for under $100.

You can also look for a gown that wasn’t specifically designed as a wedding dress. Check out prom shops and sites, or embellish a bridesmaid dress to make it look like bride material. 

5.) Vary your venue 

Wedding venues tend to be couples’ biggest money-waster for their special day. 

Save a ton by choosing a venue that has no outside contracts. You can shop around for the cheapest caterer, or break convention and skip the sit down meal, opting for something simpler and cheaper, like a BBQ buffet, burger bar or hors d’oeuvres and mini deli sandwiches. 

If you really dare to be different, you can have your wedding in one of these unique, budget-friendly venues that can also serve as wedding halls for starry-eyed couples just like you: 

  • Art gallery. It’s already decorated beautifully. Make your wedding stand out with this artsy choice of venue!
  • College campus. If you’re still a student and your college has a large dining hall and picturesque grounds, this can be an ideal wedding venue. Plus, you’ll probably be able to snag a steep student discount!
  • Vacation home. By renting a vacation home for two weeks, you’ll have lodgings for your out-of-town guests, a romantic wedding venue and a honeymoon destination when the wedding’s over.

Still not sure how to pay for your wedding? We can help! Call, click or stop by [credit union] today to ask about our personal loans, wedding clubs and other great services that can take the stress out of your wedding preparations. 

Your Turn: Already married? Share your best wedding hacks with us in the comments! 

 

SOURCES:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.buzzfeed.com/amphtml/rachelwmiller/insanely-smart-ways-to-save-money-on-your-wedding

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.brides.com/gallery/wedding-budget-saving-tips/amp

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/ways-to-save-money-wedding/amp/

 

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6 Ways to Know You’re Using Your Credit Cards Responsibly

Credit cards are an important financial tool, but they need to be used responsibly. Here’s how to know you’re okay.

  1. You can easily pay more than just the minimum payment each month.
  2. You don’t rely on your credit card for everyday purchases.
  3. You are using less than 30% of your credit limit.
  4. You never take out cash advances.
  5. You use it mostly for large, necessary expenses.
  6. You read all the fine print in every letter you receive from your credit card company.

Your Turn: In what ways do you use your credit card? Share with us in the comments!

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Getting the Most out of Youth Accounts

Managing money is a foundational life skill. That’s why it’s best to give your kids a head start on money management and saving.

UCCU is proud to offer specialized saving accounts for kids. Our Be Money Smart program is geared for children, youth, and teens aged 0-18.

Youth savings accounts offer no annual fees, competitive interest rates and quarterly dividends.

What better way to start saving for your future than with FREE money? Open a BeMoneySmart Savings Account before your child’s first birthday, and UCCU will make the first deposit of $10!

When your child opens a savings account, UCCU will give them a SmartSaver Rewards deposit card. Every time they make a deposit, we’ll punch the card and they’ll move closer to cash rewards. The more punches saved… the better the reward.  It’s the perfect way to help your kids learn saving habits and how to set and achieve saving goals.

Teenagers need a sense of independence. To help them gain that, teen account holders are eligible for a debit card with maximum daily limits that are set by parents/guardians.

Ready to open an account for your child(ren)? Does your child already have one? Here are three ways to ensure that he or she gets the most out of their new or existing account:

1.) Set a goal

Let your child use this opportunity to save for something big. Together with your child, create a long-term goal, like saving up for a first car. Also create a short-term goal, like a new hoverboard. Set a date for when you hope to hit your goals.
Next, set up a savings calendar for illustrating how much money needs to be saved each month to reach the intended target on time. Discuss ways to add to the savings.
2.) Bank together
If this is your child’s first time owning an account, she’ll need you to show her the ropes. Take your child along when you stop by UCCU to deposit her savings and show her how it works. If your child asks you to withdraw money from her account, let her see how this translates into a dip for their savings.
When helping your teen child, you’ll need to walk him or her through that first deposit and withdrawal. After that, leave it to them. Make sure they understand that every swipe of their debit card means a dent in their account.
It’s also a good idea to warn kids of all ages about security. They should know to never share their account information with anyone and to keep their debit card in a safe place.
3.) Monitor your child’s activity
Always keep an eye on your child’s account. If your child is depositing less than planned, or your teen is maximizing his daily ATM allowance, speak to him about money management and impulse purchases.
Every financial lesson you teach your child today equips them with skills for a lifetime.
Your Turn: How do you maximize the benefits of having a youth account for your child? Share your best tips with us in the comments!
SOURCES:
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Springtime Gardening Tips

There’s nothing quite like a garden in full bloom, but all that beauty takes work. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to turn your own yard into a botanical work of art.

Here’s how:

1.) Prepare your garden

Remove all weeds, making sure to pull out the roots. Next, revitalize the soil by adding fertilizer or compost.

2.) Determine sunlight exposure

Make sure you know exactly how much sunlight each area of your garden gets so that you can purchase the appropriate flowers for each spot. Observe your garden’s sun exposure throughout the day before choosing your seeds or plants.

3.) Pick your flowers

Before buying anything, consider these two factors:

1. Annuals vs perennials: there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Annuals only live for one season, but are typically cheaper and bloom all season long. Perennials last several years but have a shorter blooming life and are usually more expensive.

2. Variety will make your garden pop. For incredible results, diversify the colors, heights, and flower types throughout your garden. Plant climbing roses near a lower flower bed. Use a row of evergreens to create a darker backdrop for brilliantly colored flowers.

4.) Choose vegetable plants

Here are 4 easy-to-grow veggies to get you started:

1. Zucchini. The summer squash grows quickly and is simple to plant and care for.

2. Peas. Snap and snow peas take several months to grow. You can plant them early in the season, even before the soil is completely warm.

3. Tomatoes. Sweet cherry tomatoes grow quickly and will turn any salad into a gourmet dish. Choose an area that gets full sun exposure.

4. Cabbage. Cabbages hardly need any care; just be sure to use slug bait to keep those critters away.

5.) Plant!

Before you get started, check your seed packets for the best planting time in your region. Don’t plant too early or too late in the season. It’s also important to plan your garden in full detail before you start digging.

On the day of planting, your soil should be moist and prepared for seeding. When planting each seed or flower, first determine how far beneath the soil that particular plant needs to go. Then dig an appropriate hole and add fertilizer as per the package instructions. Incorporate the fertilizer into the soil. Next, place your seed or flower in the hole and fill the hole with soil. Lastly, add mulch to help ward off diseases and weeds.

6.) MaintenanceThe amount of water each flower needs for growth can differ greatly. Make sure every plant in your garden gets the right amount of water. Weed your garden regularly to keep it looking beautiful and always trim wilted, dead blossoms to allow new growth to form.

Your Turn: How does your garden grow? Share your best gardening tips, secrets, and advice with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
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6 Ways to Protect Yourself from Fraud

  1. Keep hard copies of all credit and debit cards in a safe, secure place.
  2. Use double-authentication on all online banking transactions.
  3. Never click on any suspicious-looking links or download anything when you’re unfamiliar with the source.
  4. Don’t share sensitive information online unless you can absolutely verify the identity of the other party.
  5. Check your credit card and checking account statements carefully each month. Report any suspicious activity immediately.
  6. Set a spending cap for your credit and debit cards as well as a specific geographic area for their use.

Your Turn: How do you keep yourself and your money safe from fraud? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

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Investing – Step #8: Find a Financial Adviser

Investing advice is everywhere! It’s on TV; it’s all over the internet; it’s in newspapers and magazines and it fills the pages of dozens of books.

With this overabundance of information, you’d think nearly everyone would be financial experts. Actually, though, financial genius eludes most people and they’re wanting professional advice.

Think you can’t afford such advice? Think again. There’s investing advice available to suit every taste, and for every budget . Here’s a small sampling of investing resources for you to check out:

1.) 401(k) plan advice

One option might be a lot closer than you think: your workplace. While you may already be taking advantage of your employer-sponsored retirement plan, you might not know – or you might not be using – the free or discounted advice your company offers from the plan provider. Ask your employer before searching for an adviser of your own.

2.) Financial advisers

The default option for investing advice is also the most expensive. Financial advisors will expertly manage your portfolio, but they come with a hefty price tag. Many advisors take a percentage of the assets they manage, generally one percent, which can amount to more than you want to pay. Alternatively, they may be paid through a retainer on their services. Both payment systems can be costly and are usually only the option of choice for high-end investors. In addition, many financial advisors will only work with a minimum investment (typically $500,000) that might be way above the amount you plan on investing. Those who do work with less money often charge double the going rate in annual fees.

3.) Roboadvisers

Fortunately for those with a smaller net worth, there are excellent options. One popular choice for affordable investment advice is the roboadvisor. Essentially, a roboadvisor is an algorithm. You give it your basic background and tell it a bit about your financial goals, and it recommends an asset distribution based on those factors.

Here are some ways a roboadvisor compares with a human advisor:

  1. Cost. Most roboadvisers bill on an assets-under-management scale: The more you’ve invested with them, the more they charge you. In contrast, a human adviser will also charge for time spent in meetings, preparing reports and other tasks related to managing your account.
  2. Quality of advice. Most financial advisers, both human and automatic, subscribe to Modern Portfolio Theory, which posits that markets tend to increase in value over time. This theory is easily reducible to an algorithm, and therefore the quality of advice offered by a roboadviser tends to be nearly identical to that of a human adviser.
  3. Personalization. Roboadvisors give one-size-fits-all advice. If you have a major life event impacting your financial status, such as an unexpected raise, the roboadvisor won’t know that. You’ll need to input all your information again and start over.
  4. Accessibility. The fact that roboadvisers are only available online can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s convenient if you’ve got easy access to a Wi-Fi signal, but not so much if you live somewhere that doesn’t have a reliable signal.

4.) Hybrid service

If you like the low cost of a roboadvisor, but don’t like the idea of trusting a machine with your investments, you might want to consider a hybrid service. It gives you the best of both worlds. A hybrid service offers automated features, like the roboadvisor, with the option of speaking to a flesh-and-blood advisor when nothing but the human touch will do.

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