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Saving for College

7 Jun

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Most parents know that some day their little bundle will grow up, graduate high school and might pursue going to college. With that said very few parents actually make a road map for this financially. Going to college costs a lot of money and its not getting any cheaper. Here are some suggestions to help get you started. If you have a young baby or toddler now is the time to get started. The longer you have to save the better.

  • When your child is little make sure to save all monies given to them for birthdays and holidays (tell friends and family your toddler really doesn’t need another cute outfit) 
  • The younger you start saving means the longer you have to save / grow that college fund
  • Open a UPromise account – don’t buy items just for Upromise sake but a small percentage of purchases will go into a fund for your child this won’t take the place of traditional savings but will help add to it
  • Consider opening a Coverdell Education Savings Account (parents, g.parents anyone can contribute) or an Independent 529 account – not familiar with these learn more here
  • Consider using cash back options on credit cards to deposit “extra money / rewards money” into a savings account
  • Commit to saving a percentage of your monthly income for college savings now just like you would for retirement

Free eBook

19 May

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Since the economy is slow, real estate markets are soft and the unemployment level is still too high, I decided to share this resource today. Finances are a big stressor for many families and they don’t have to be. I remember one of my favorite ways teachers taught us to count as kids was using fake money (man did I love counting it) and putting it into separate little piles (2 fives = 10, 10 ones =10 and 1 ten equals 10, oh the memories teachers leave us with.) I really recommend You Need A Budget (YNAB) its simple, straightforward and provides amazing insight to finances. What I like is this eBook is free – all you have to do is download it in PDF form. If you love this eBook you can also buy a print copy for any family or friends for only $10

What else should you know about YNAB: they have an online software program with a free 34 day trial period working on PC & MAC, they have apps for smartphones as well.

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What Every Mom Needs – part 3

11 May

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Where in our third installment – and hopefully helping you get a strong financial foundation in place.

What does every mom NEED?

Life Insurance (whether your a high powered career woman, stay at home mom, or single parent) you NEED life insurance. Now here’s something many people overlook: the reasons they need life insurance, especially women.Where should I look for life insurance?  Well, consider getting online quotes from multiple sources try Select Quote and Insure

Myth # 1 – I don’t need life insurance I’m a stay at home mom, so I don’t need income replacement. 

Ready for my answer? WRONG!

And here’s why a stay at home mom needs term life insurance to cover expenses that would usually be unaccounted for. Take this example, God forbid something happens to a stay at home mom and she dies who will take care of her children while her husband works? A daycare or babysitter if there not school aged. If the children are old enough to be in school you must figure there will still be before and/or after school care since your spouse may need someone to get the children on the bus or watch them till he gets home from work.

Myth # 2 – I only need a small policy.

Have you realistically calculated the costs both present and future (remember inflation rates need to be calculated) for what your policy will need or you want it to cover. Typically when someone does work many advisors suggest 20x their income – so a person making $50,000 per year would be advised to buy at least $1,000,000 policy. This only sounds like a lot initially trust me every dollar will need to be earmarked.

What are some items life insurance money should be used to cover:

  • Your children’s daycare or babysitting,
  • The mortgage on your family home (wouldn’t it be nice to know your mortgage would be paid off and your spouse will never loose the children’s family home)
  • College tuition (with student loans being such a huge burden it would be great to help give your children a head start in life by graduating college debt free)
  • Maybe private school tuition
  • or money set aside for children’s lessons (he likes soccer, she likes gymnastics, etc)
  • Also one item very much forgotten about is any debt you may have (credit cards, student loans, car loans, etc)

What Every Mom Needs – part 2

10 May

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Here’s part two in the continuation of this saga

What does every mom NEED?


A high (okay higher interest) savings account these are often typically found as online savings accounts or at credit union, while writing this I have found the interest rate at 1% compared to most bricks and mortars banks where its significantly less (and yess that’s possible in the world of interest rates it can be a lot less than 1%). Barclay’s Online Savings – just one of many options out there.

However, in the future all you have to do is search for “online/high yield savings accounts”.

What are the must features: no monthly fees and no minimum deposits/balances.  For single mothers I highly encourage you to set up an automatic transfer every month from your checking account to this savings account. On the first of every month this money will be re-directed and will create a forced savings perfect for those who are on tight budgets because the less you earn the easier it is not to save.  Make sure to read the full story on what every mom needs.

What Every Mom Needs – part 1

9 May

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What does every mom NEED?

Well, this list might surprise you and while it does  apply to all moms I am hoping this list will lend some extra special advice to the stay at home moms and single mothers. Please share this posting with all the women in your life so they can benefit from this free advice. I am going to apologize up front for the length so in order to make this posting more reader friendly I have broken it down into multiple parts.

All moms need a retirement account  – not just working mothers.

The best way to start is to open a ROTH IRA – see  this simple chart for a easy snapshot overview. Pretty much a Roth IRA allows you deposit $5,000 a year, grows federally tax free, and must be 18+ to have one. Stay at home moms can open one too if you manage to earn income even from non-traditional sources like babysitting, cleaning houses, or any EARNED INCOME. Why do stay at home moms/single mothers need retirement accounts? Because planning for retirement even a little bit each month will make life less stressful and easier later in life. Plus stay at home moms will receive less Social Security (if its there when your of retirement age) because you worked less years and paid less into. Also, please remember social security was NEVER meant to be your sole source of retirement income so great for those that can live on it but don’t ever put yourself in the position of needing social security (it should be in addition to not in place of).


 


Maternity Leave Finances

25 Feb

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Did you know according the Census Bureau approximately half of working women don’t qualify for maternity leave. I think that’s crazy, however today I am here to talk to you about managing your finances for maternity leave.

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First off don’t stress out this is not good for your health or the baby’s.  If your planning on getting pregnant than go ahead and create a budget (if you don’t already have one) and make adjustments for savings this is a time when you need to start saving even more $ than before. If your already pregnant take your budget and see where you can cut unnecessary expenses from, start packing lunches for work, eat out less often, detail your own car at home, rent a movie, rent books from the library do stuff that is cheaper than before or free.

Commit to a budget for baby and stick to it, there are so many items they will try and sell you that are unnecessary or just frivolous. Don’t go overboard on buying baby stuff, its a newborn it has needs remembering above that your buying your wants. Set up an automatic transfer from your checking to savings account every month this will help (minimum of 10%). I am not trying to say have no fun, just have fun that doesn’t cost a lot. When people offer to buy you something for the baby ask for items that you will really need and are disposable like diapers, baby wash, and other basic necessities – also check out my blog and read past posts on how to save $ with babies.

Don’t wait till the 11th hour, my friend did this and she was 2 days before her due date (1o/30 due 11/1) and she was still negotiating the ability for maternity compensation. Make sure to check and see if your FMLA qualified and what your compensation will be on maternity leave. Make sure to speak with your Human Resources department and get a letter in writing I really recommend doing this around the 6-7 month mark, that way you and your employer have plenty of time to get all the paperwork done, and the employer has time to make arrangements for your job to be covered while your out. Once you know what type of compensation you will or won’t receive during maternity leave –  factor that into your new monthly budget with your now adjusted monthly income. I will be writing a follow up post to this one in the next few weeks so be sure to check back for part 2 in which I will include some additional resources.

 

 

Mint – Free Finance Software

19 Feb

Part of having a stress free family (especially with a baby in the house), is being organized and on top of your finances So, here I am giving you a suggestion, try Mint – its the online, free software to help track all your money in 1 place. You can start this anytime, its free and I think you will really enjoy having a better look at your finances. Remember that you can control your finances so don’t let money be an overwhelming stress to track and manage. I love Mint because its free and able to fit in everyone’ s budget including single moms. Check out these other tips I have for managing your finances including your free credit score, getting organized, and quick tips for money management.

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Manilla Solves Organization

5 Feb

Being organized comes naturally to some others not so much…we live in a world where we get points for air travel, hotels, rewards for credit card purchases, while this is great it also leads to additional time tracking all these perk. This tracking takes time, and the paper adds clutter to already all the monthly bills you receive. Manilla will track your bills, rewards, and works with over 1,200 service providers.  Not to mention all this paper in so environmentally unfriendly and wasteful.

Tracking finances and money is the first step to understanding money so shouldn’t you get a better understanding of your family’s finances? Save time and money (Manilla is FREE and web-based) and go from this

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to this with Manilla

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The Cost of Childcare

2 Feb

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Child care is anything but cheap, lets start with that, however there are many factors that affect what it will cost you.

  • Where you live (city & state)
  • The child’s age and requirements – the younger and needier the more it will cost
  • Hours of childcare per week needed
  • Type of child care

Look at the total cost of child care which is inaccurately calculated by too many families.

Stay at home moms will save the cost of childcare at a local daycare facility, but this is at the expense of losing their prior salary earnings.

Working mothers will need to get several price quotes for childcare of their choice and then calculate the monthly / yearly cost and realize that  their wages have stayed the same however their buying power is lower because they have an additional childcare bill each month. Also, account for a higher gas/diesel bill monthly as you will be making 2 extra stops per working day (drop-off & pick-up) choose a facility close to either your home or work so it minimizes driving time and cost.

The average cost of center-based daycare in the United States is $11,666 per year ($972 a month), but prices range from $3,582 to $18,773 a year ($300 to $1,564 monthly), according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA). Parents report higher costs – up to $2,000 a month for infant care – in cities like Boston and San Francisco. Source

Choose wisely if you have multiple children that are very close in age sometimes it maybe cheaper to have someone come into your house and take of your children. You can only make an informed decision if you know all your options:

  • Childcare facility (Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency can help you find a location) call (800) 424-2246 or their website
  • Nanny ‘s or Au Pairs (yes their is a difference Au Pairs must live in your home with a private bedroom, these are sometimes more affordable options if you have several young children close in age) – its not just for the rich many dual income families use these services
  • Your church’s daycare facility: if you attend a church you will often find their daycare services are often more affordable because it’s a ministry of the church vs your local independent daycare
  • Family or Friend: do you know someone you trust that needs some extra $, then see if they’re willing to watch your child maybe at their home while you work (its a great way for a stay at home mom to earn extra money)
  • Consider bartering services (you may think this sounds antiquated but I have known people who did this and it worked), this works well for the self- employed often (get creative prepare a free tax return, do monthly financials, free weekly lawn service,  just define what it is and sign a document agreeing to the babysitting & bartering service)

This is a lengthy discussion so I am going to post a follow up to avoid any confusion and discuss more details


2 Methods to Perfect Finances

2 Feb

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In order to have the best financial future it takes budgeting and saving. The best way, sorry I have 2 methods because there is no one size fits all approach to achieve optimal financial success.

Here is 2 great methods used:

  • All Cash Method
  • The Pay in Full Credit Card Approach

Obviously, these are completely different methods but both work well you just have to determine which method works better for your family.

The All Cash Method is an approach to paying all your bills with cash (after all cash is King)you will create a budget and then pay all your bills with cash. For items like a mortgage or car payment you will mail a check, but otherwise all other purchases are paid in cash (groceries, clothes, entertainment, eating out) this method requires not using credit cards to help prevent people from going into debt. If you struggle to pay credit card payments on time or always pay the minimum payment this method is for you. If your looking for help to get started check out this site

The Pay in Full Credit Card Approach is an approach exactly as it sounds you pay all your bills on your credit card (with the exception of the ones that can’t be paid by credit card: mortgage, car payment). This means dining out, groceries, gym memberships, entertainment, shopping, you name it, you pay it on the credit card. Then when you get your statement you immediately pay off the entire balance. This method works well ONLY if you COMMIT to paying off the the ENTIRE balance each month. It does helps track all of your bills / purchases in one place.