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Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Nov

26.18

The holidays are a time we tend to get generous with giving and with spending, and for some that means racking up credit card debt. Last year, Americans charged more than $1,054 in holiday spending – about five percent more than the year before!*

Here are some tips to be both cheerful and frugal this year:

  1. Make a Budget. Make a budget and stick to it! Determine what you need and who you need to buy for, and buy only that.
  2. Shop Smart. Look for ways to save money and earn discounts on what you have to purchase. Look online for best prices and compare with brick and mortar stores.
  3. Get Creative. You don’t have to spend a lot on holiday décor to celebrate with the best of them! Get creative and come up with some alternative and thrifty ways to deck your halls with cheer.
  4. Resist Temptation. There will undoubtedly be multiple opportunities for you to be tempted to spend more throughout the holidays. Resist the temptation and remind yourself you’ll be in a better position financially come New Year!

*CNBC.com, “Americans racked up more than $1,000 in holiday debt,” January 2, 2018

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Oct

05.18

A rise in consumer cost of living suggests Americans may be earning less than they were a year ago, but spending more on housing. The Department of Labor found that consumer prices climbed 2.9 percent in July – the fastest rate in 10 years – and most of this increase was reflected in higher housing costs.1

One new report asserts the median rent nationwide is now $1,445.2

For middle-class Americans living predominately paycheck to paycheck, that’s not good – considering that the cost of housing generally takes the biggest chunk out of a household budget.

If you’re feeling the pinch of too-high housing costs, here’s what to do:

  • Budget to spend less. When shopping for housing, experts recommend budgeting to spend 30 percent (or less) of your salary. In expensive cities like San Francisco or NYC, that may be harder to do, but whatever your geographical area, if you’re in the market for a mortgage – or looking to rent – it pays to be frugal.
  • Get a roommate. Your home life doesn’t necessarily have to look like an episode of Friends, but sharing the costs of living with another person can save you tons of money. It doesn’t have to be forever – just long enough to make it financially worthwhile. As long as you pick a responsible roommate who has a job, dealing with another personality for a year or two just may be worth it.
  • Rent a room. Renting a room in your house to a student or young professional can help offset high housing costs. You may need to share some common space, but as long as the outcome is financially beneficial to you, and provided you’ve vetted the person you’re renting to, it should be a worthwhile way to drive down costs.
  1. CBSNews.com, “Cost of Living Increasing at Fastest Rate in 10 Years, “ August 10, 2018
  2. CNBC.com, “Millennials, Here’s How to Set a Realistic Budget,” March 22, 2018

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Sep

11.18

Are you one of the “average Americans” saddled with a balance of over $9,000 in credit card debt?1 If so, you’re certainly not alone. One survey found that one in three Americans is losing sleep over their debt, and one quarter report that debt has hurt their relationships with family.2

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, it’s time to take some action. Here are four strategies:

  1. Pay more than the minimum. Whatever your minimum monthly payment is, double it, or triple it if you can – by all means, if you’re being charged interest, pay more than the minimum. If you’re carrying debt on multiple credit cards, determine which card is costing you the most in interest and pay that off the quickest. Then, you can tackle the others in the same manner.
  2. Pay attention to your bills. Be vigilant about your credit. Look at your statements frequently. You ought to be paying your credit card bills off in full every month. Start where you are, but make a zero balance every month your ultimate goal.
  3. Build up your emergency fund. An emergency fund is a cash reserve to use for emergencies – ideally, three to six months’ worth of your salary. But if you’ve been putting life’s emergencies on credit cards, chances are your dedicated emergency fund isn’t substantial enough. Consistently put money toward your emergency fund while you’re paying off credit card debt.
  4. Bring in more income. Harness your entrepreneurial spirit and find opportunities where you can bring in more income. Start a business. Rent a room in your house. Sell some belongings. Throw all of these extra earnings toward your debt and emergency fund.
  1. Vogue.com, “6 Ways to Fool-Proof Your Finances and Save Every Month,” May 13, 2018
  2. CNBC.com, “Most Americans Would Give Up Social Media to Erase Credit Card Debt,” July 11, 2018

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Aug

16.18

Thirty percent of Americans ages 50 to 64 has an adult child living with them most of the year – the highest point in 40 years!* Here are some tips on how to cope with an adult child returning home:

Set a deadline. Establishing a target move-out date can help keep your kids focused on the future.

Expect financial help. If they have a job, grown kids should pay their own phone bills and contribute to household costs such as food and cable TV.

Work together to determine rent. Decide on a reasonable rate, then save their contributions for a security deposit on a new apartment or furniture.

Ask them to pitch in. In lieu of rent (or in addition to it) your kids should help out around the house. If you’re not happy with the current situation, speak up!

Offer financial advice. Remember your kids are dealing with new issues like student loans, credit cards and health insurance. They may not ask for your advice, but they probably need it.

*MoneyTalksNews.com, “Still Supporting Your Adult Kids? 5 Steps to Set Them Free,” October 11, 2017

 

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Jul

16.18

It’s no surprise that one in five American teens lack basic financial literacy skills – and considering that only 17 states across the nation mandate personal finance courses in schools, it’s up to parents to ensure their children understand how to properly manage their finances.*

This year, take charge when preparing to send your children back to school and make talking to them about money matters as much of a household priority as any back-to-school checklist item. This time of year is ripe with reasons to talk about personal finance, so be sure to take advantage of the opportunities when they arise.

Here is a way to incorporate finances into activities you and your child(ren) will probably already be doing together to prepare to go back to school:

  1. Make a back-to-school supplies list. Use the list your child’s school provides and add other items you know they’ll need to create a master back-to-school list. Help your child guess how much each item costs and then look up the real costs and compare.
  2. Make an inventory of what you already have. Decide from your list what you already have and what you’ll need to buy. Deduct the costs of what you have (and what you’ll save) from your list.
  3. Set a budget. Determine how much you can spend for the items on your list you’ll need to purchase. Let your child know the money has to come from somewhere, so if you are moving money from your regular household budget to cover back-to-school necessities, don’t keep them in the dark.
  4. Go shopping and save. Take your list to the store (or to the internet) and let your child help select items with the goal of saving the most money. Once you’ve crossed all the items of your list, buy your child a special treat with whatever money you’ve saved and pat yourself on the back for imparting a crucial money lesson they probably wouldn’t have learned in school.

BusinessInsider.com, “Financial Literacy is a Basic Life Skill,” April 20, 2018

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