Here is an interesting article and video discussing how to help your children learn about money management: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2017/02/22/the-fab-mom-on-2-mistakes-parents-can-avoid-when-teaching-kids-about-money/
The video recommends: 1) Giving kids money for chores they perform rather than providing them with an allowance, 2) Replacing piggy banks with clear jars so kids can see how much money they are saving, and 3) Starting to teach your kids about money by the time they are 7 years old. Kids start forming money management habits by kindergarden or first grade so starting to teach them about money early on is a great plan!
You have probably seen mortgage lenders advertising biweekly mortgage payment programs. These are programs where you send mortgage payments to your bank once every two weeks instead of once a month. (You send half of your monthly amount every two weeks.) It sounds like a great and simple way to save money and even cut a few years off your mortgage but you should be sure to read the fine print. Before deciding to go with a company’s bi-weekly payment plan, be sure that:
- The company will apply the partial payment to your mortgage on the day that it is received.
- The payment plan is for a bi-weekly payment plan (a total of 26 payments per year) and not a bi-monthly plan (a total of 24 payments per year).
- The company is not charging excessively high fees for their bi-weekly payment plan services. If the company wants to charge you for the bi-weekly payment plan, it is probably not worth it.
The real advantage to making bi-weekly payments is that you end up paying 13 full payments a year instead of 12. If the 13th payment goes directly toward your principal amount, then you are lowering the amount that you owe faster and can reduce your 30-year loan by up to 7 years. One way to accomplish the same thing as signing up for a biweekly mortgage payment program is to just send in an extra mortgage payment one time each year—consider doing this before setting up a bi-weekly mortgage payment plan.
It can be the worst feeling when you buy gifts for your loved ones and they wind up being stolen or broken. Here are a few tips to prevent this:
1-If you buy something online, be sure to have it delivered when someone is home so it doesn’t linger on your porch for too long.
2-Don’t leave any shopping bags visible in your car–bury them in your trunk where potential thieves can’t see them.
3-Don’t mention any big purchases on social media or show pictures of any big ticket items there so potential thieves can’t target you.
4-Don’t keep your fragile gifts within reach of children–they like to shake their presents a little too much!
The holiday season is upon us and for many people, this means spending more money than any other time of the year. Yet, there are a few ways that you can make your dollar stretch even further during this time and prepare for future holiday seasons.
- Take advantage of “end of the season” clearance items. Buy summer and fall clothes and outdoor items on clearance. Just be sure that you are shopping around and buying quality items that will stay in style and last for a few years to come. Also, ask for additional discounts for items with blemishes or for floor models.
- Buy Halloween decorations and costumes after the holiday and store the items for the next year. This is a great way to save a significant amount of money on costly costumes especially for young children. Remember to account for your child’s growth and buy a size or two larger that will fit him/her in the next year. Buying Christmas decorations and wrapping paper after December 25 and storing them for next year is also a great way to save money.
- Make the most of the season’s biggest sales. Create a list of gifts or items that you want to buy this season and then research what stores sell the products, what their deals are, and compare to find the best price.
- Avoid impulse shopping. With all the great deals and lowered prices that are heavily advertised, it can be easy to be tempted to impulse buy and purchase items that you don’t need (and may regret buying later on). Stick to your list of needed items and gifts. It is also helpful to keep a close eye on your budget during this time so that you know exactly how much money you have to spend.
- Finally, stay organized. If you buy clothes to use next summer or decorations to use the following year, be sure to store them somewhere so you will remember you have them! Ignore the temptation to stash them in a closet or the garage with the intention to properly store them at a later date (you might forget you have them and buy them all over again the next year.)
A great way to save money on your daily purchases (and your larger, less frequent purchases) is to take advantage of a store or brand’s rewards program. Signing up for these programs is free and easy but keeping track of the cards and remembering to bring them with you when you shop can be a huge hassle. Luckily there are apps that help you do this. Mobile apps like Key Ring, Belly, Stocard, and Five Stars help keep your cards organized and in one place. Simply download the app to your iPhone or Android and then take pictures of your different rewards cards. The app stores and organizes the cards for you and you no longer have to remember to bring a particular store’s card with you when you shop- just remember your phone!
Some stores and brands like Walmart or Huggies offer a rewards program in a mobile app. Once you download their app, you scan your receipt or enter the receipt number into the app and the app records your points or, in the case of Walmart, your extra savings.
Other apps such as AwardWallet, TripIt, MileWise, and PointsBuzz help you keep track of frequent flyer miles and compare the best itineraries and ways to purchase airline tickets (e.g., using cash, miles, or points).
If you don’t have a smartphone, you can manage your different rewards cards by being sure to use the same phone number and/or email every time you sign up for a rewards program. That way, if you forget the card, the cashier can look up your account using your phone number or email. By always using the same phone number or email, you don’t have to remember which contact information you used for a particular rewards program. Be sure to do whatever you can to take advantage of free rewards programs so you can save money on items you buy regularly.
Most of us have heard at one point or another that it is important to “live within your means.” But what does that mean exactly? There are a few steps you can take to make sure that you are indeed living within your means.
- First, create a budget to make sure you are not spending more money than you are making each month (i.e., not accumulating debt each month).
- If you are accumulating debt each month, you need to look at your expenses and see what you can cut. It is important to carefully examine each of your expenses and decide if it is a need or a want. For the expenses that are wants, ask yourself what are you gaining from spending your money on it? What if you didn’t buy it? Would it make that big of an impact on your overall happiness? If not, stop spending money on it.
- Keep detailed records of how much money you are spending and if you are really sticking to your budget. You may be surprised how much you spend in one area or another. Then find ways to trim those expenses instead of cutting them out completely.
- Set savings goals for the items that you want but can’t afford at the moment (i.e., a big trip or car purchase). Be sure to track your progress towards your goal and have a timeline to make sure you are on track.
It is easy to get caught up in the moment and stray from your budget or make that big purchase without having the funds but it creates more debt and stress than it is worth. By living within your means, you are able to have the essentials and some “wants” without the stress of accumulating debt.
I just had the chance to read two interesting articles in a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal. The first article was an opinion piece written by Ashleigh Brooker. Ms. Brooker made the argument that it’s always smart to live below your means, or essentially to only spend up to 80% of your income and save the remaining 20% no matter what your income level is. This way, you provide a cushion for times when you may lose your job and have to live on one income or no income, or for times when an emergency arises such as an illness, or disability. She provided a couple of examples of situations where individuals either had to move and needed extra time to find a new job (thus living off one income for a short while) or when a grandparent moved to be closer to his grandkids, but had to accept a lower paying long-term position. By living below your means, you provide yourself with greater flexibility.
The second article I read was a summary of recent research conducted by Joe Gladstone, a research associate at the University of Cambridge. He had the chance to look at how happiness levels change in correlation with levels of wealth. His interesting finding was that there was a significant correlation between a person having more money in his/her checking account and the person’s happiness level. This correlation existed regardless of the overall wealth level of the individual. Thus, in reading these two articles, I immediately thought—if you live below your means and save 20% of your income, you can put that 20% of your income (or some portion of it) into your checking account and that may boost your happiness level. Not a bad plan!