Financial planning has long been associated with the wealthy. But in reality, it can and should be accessible to everyone at an affordable cost. Regardless of your financial habits, everybody can benefit from a financial plan. Wouldn't it be comforting to know that you have a savings account, a retirement plan, can afford your monthly bills, and have some wiggle room for a vacation? Many people try to handle their finances on their own, but the vast majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and don't properly prepare for the unexpected. A financial planner can work with you to get organized. We believe that the best financial planner is one that sees your goals from a holistic point of view. A leading company, LearnVest, is on a mission is to change the way people feel about their money.

LearnVest is a different kind of financial planner that provides a customized, comprehensive plan with the ease and convenience of an online service. All for a fraction of the cost of a typical financial planner, LearnVest assigns you a LearnVest Planner or Investment Advisor Representative (FINRA Series 65) to take you through your custom-built plan, step-by-step, to help get on track within a realistic timeline.

When you sign up, your financial planner will schedule a call to discuss your goals, dreams, and hurdles. If you're too busy, they'll find time to work with you on weekends or after work hours, and are always available by email 24 hours a day. After your initial consultation, you will receive a comprehensive financial plan with a detailed budget, a snapshot of your current finances, and a strategy to move forward. This is the blueprint for achieving your goals. You agree on the path to move forward and LearnVest makes it easy to stick to it. Once your budget is established, the next step is to look at retirement, credit cards, and an emergency fund.

Retirement

Many people are confused when it comes to saving for retirement. The retirement section of your plan will set forth an action plan based on your current projected retirement salary and replacement ratio. LearnVest will recommend the best retirement account for you, whether it be a 401(k), Roth 401(k), or IRA. You will talk about what you need for your nest egg, and what to put away now to help you get there.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are a huge emotional burden. Getting out of a credit card debt cycle can sometimes feel never-ending. The planner will advise that you start by eliminating debt with the highest interest rate first, prioritizing paydown order, and telling you what to do each step of the way. You will also get a debt-free date to mark on your calendar!

Emergency Fund

The most critical part of your plan is an emergency fund because it helps keep you from going into debt. In case of an emergency, you typically want to avoid using your credit cards or withdrawing from your retirement fund. Usually, LearnVest recommends having 6 months of take home pay in the bank as a safety net. LearnVest will help you determine an appropriate amount of funds to build your emergency fund and help you budget to meet that number.

Everything Else

Your financial plan may also include information on next steps. Can you afford a mortgage? When will you be able to buy your dream house? You'll also get recommendations about insurance policies and documents such as a will, trust, and beneficiary forms based on your personal picture and goals. With your carefully calculated budget, you can check off items on your financial calendar, get reminders, and manage your progress from the program dashboard.

Along with your personalized financial plan, you'll get quarterly check ins from your financial planner. You'll also have access to a host of free tools including classes, events and articles that can give you tips to stay on your path to financial freedom.

While most people need some help with their finances, many are reluctant to get started. LearnVest's free tools are designed to help get your feet in the water, and their premium service will help you on your way to achieving your financial goals.

Update: Follow this link to learn more about LearnVest and sign up for a financial plan today.

LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Please consult a financial adviser for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest, Inc. is wholly owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.

PayPath
Follow Us on

Afghan women

NBC

Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

Keep reading Show less

Stacker

Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.