This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf ofâ¯Mint opinions and text are all mine.Â
While I love making healthy recipes, I often get messages from people who think that eating healthy is expensive.â¯To some degree, I can agree with that because in my family of four I can spend overâ¯$300a week at the grocery store. Itâs important to me to share nutritious and delicious recipes, but I also understand that affordable recipes are just as important so that budget canât be an excuse to have a fast food diet and skip healthy eating. â¯It is possible to eat good foods at a low cost- I made this Spaghetti Squash Lasagna for only $15, but it did take some planning and research to be able to prioritize both health and savings in my home.â¯Â
To help get you on the right track, here are my top tips about how to eat healthy on a budget:Â
1) Set a food budget…and stick to it!
Establishing a budget is usually one of the first steps when it comes to saving money. â¯You have to have a real sense of what you actually need and compare that to what you actually want to spend. â¯This is easily done throughâ¯Mint, a free service that helps track all your finances, helps with budgets and financial goals. Since utilizing the Mint app, Iâve been so much more conscious of my spending- itâs been life-changing actually! Iâve set myself on a budget in groceries, clothing, entertainment and dining. I then made a separate goal with all the money I plan on saving for a family vacations and home improvements. â¯All I did was connect my accounts and cards, and my spending automatically gets categorized so I can see all that I spend on groceries- and everything else. I even received emails each week to show my spending categorized in a chart, which I can easily compare to the previous week. Once I saw how much I was spending, I knew I had to scale back and be smarter about eating healthy. All this money spent on food could be saved to spend in other categories like a trip to Hawaii!â¯Â
That was when I created my food budget. â¯My goal was to first reduce spending in my groceries category to $200 a week, so I set my amount to spend each month. â¯After that, each time I went to the grocery store, the transaction would post and automatically show how much of the grocery budget was already spent for that month. â¯It even lets me know if Iâm getting close to my budget for the month and a notification when I go over. Seeing that budget has helped me so much in making sure that Iâm not overspending. Itâs a great tool and almost like having online partner helping me stick to my budget each month.â¯Â
2) Use Seasonal ProduceÂ
There are so many reasons why eating seasonally is better- less impact on the environment, more nutrients, and better taste (to name a few)- but buying produce in season is actually a great way to save money and eat healthy. â¯You donât have to spend on foods that are imported from different regions when itâs growing in season. I like to go to farmerâs markets because you can really see whatâs growing at the moment, plus you support your local farmers. â¯I personally like the anticipation of waiting for foods to be in season- especially in the summer months when there are so many delicious fruits available.Â
3) Buy in bulkÂ
Yes, this is the trip to the warehouse. â¯I know that this may seem like itâs not money-saving when youâre shelling out hundreds of dollars for a cart full of multi-pack foods, but if you play this right, you can save so much per month. â¯One trick is to see what you find yourself running out of each month. For instance, if you know you make pasta once a week, why buy individual boxes of pasta and sauce when you can buy everything ahead of time and be set for the month? â¯I would rather be fully stocked than having to take the time to go to the grocery store each week for items that are in my weekly meal plan. Time is money, but when youâre also buying in bulk, the price per ounce is usually a greater idea. â¯I also find that since I have twin girls who are in a growth spurt, having snacks and fruits readily available is best for them, and buying those ahead of time in bulk saves time, money, and my sanity!Â
4) Have a meal plan and grocery listÂ
I suggest planning out your weekly meals and making a grocery list for it. This not only saves a lot of money, but will also help reduce food waste. Of course leave some wiggle room for those impulse buys and cravings we all have, but itâs still good to come to the grocery store with a plan. It also takes some stress away from the week knowing we have a menu plan for each meal. It is actually very motivating to set a challenge and meet it. When I saw I saved $100 last week I gave myself a mental high five! Setting a goal by putting myself on a budget was actually fun! Who doesnât love a challenge?â¯Â
If youâre looking for recipes to cook at home, I have so many healthy recipes on my blog for all preferences, but Iâm really excited to share my Spaghetti Squash Lasagna to help kick you off on your money-saving healthy recipes. â¯Itâs only $15 for 4 servings, andâ¯itâs low-carb, gluten-free andâ¯keto-friendly so it can fit into many different diet plans. â¯What I love is that this recipe suits my husband since itâs gluten-free, it fits my diet since itâs low-carb, but itâs so delicious that it doesnât even matter to my girls! Anything that looks or taste like a noodle and my kids will gobble it up.Â
Spaghetti Squash LasagnaÂ
2 spaghetti squashâ¯Â
1 jar marinara sauceÂ
4oz mozzarella cheeseÂ
1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheeseÂ
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheeseÂ
1 pound lean ground turkeyÂ
1 tbsp. minced garlicÂ
1 tsp. of saltÂ
1 tsp. black pepperÂ
1 tbsp. olive oilÂ
With a sharp knife poke a few holes around spaghetti squash.â¯Â
In a large pot bring water to a boil and submerge both squashes simmering for 20 minutes.Â
Drain and cool for 15 minutes before cutting in half and scooping out seeds.Â
With a fork shred squash strings and place in a large bowl.Â
In skillet pan heat up oil to medium heat and add garlic and ground turkey. Cook and stir for 7-9 minutes or until turkey is completely cooked. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2. tsp. black pepper.â¯Â
Add ground turkey with squash, then marinara, Parmesan cheese, ricotta and remaining salt and pepper. Gently fold and mix.â¯Â
Scoop back into halved squash shells and add slice thin mozzarella on top.Â
Bake in oven at 350F Degrees for 15 minutes for all the cheese to meltÂ
The post Healthy Food on a Budget appeared first on MintLife Blog.
You just learned of the passing of a loved one. During this stressful and emotionally taxing time, you also find out that you’re receiving an inheritance. While you’re grateful for the unexpected windfall, knowing what to do with an inheritance can bring its own share of stress.
While the amounts vary greatly, the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances reports that an average of roughly 1.7 million households receive an inheritance each year. First words of wisdomâresist the urge to spend it all at once. According to a study funded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one-third of people who receive an inheritance spend all of itâand even dip into other savingsâin the first two years.
Not me, you say? Still, you might be asking, “What should I do with my inheritance money?” Follow these four steps to help you make smart decisions with your newfound wealth:
1. Take time to grieve your loss
Deciding what to do with an inheritance can bring with it mixed emotions: a sense of reprieve for this unexpected financial gain and sadness for the loss of a loved one, says Robert Pagliarini, certified financial planner and president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors.
During this time, you might feel confused, upset and overwhelmed. âA large inheritance that pushes you out of your financial comfort zone can create anxiety about how to best manage the money,” Pagliarini says. As an inheritor, Pagliarini adds that you may feel the need to be extra careful with the funds; even though you know it is your money, it could feel borrowed.
The last thing you want to do when deciding what to do with an inheritance is make financial decisions under an emotional haze. Avoid making any drastic moves right away, such as quitting your job or selling your home. Some experts suggest giving yourself a six-month buffer before using any of your inheritance, using the time instead to develop a financial plan. While you are thinking about things to do with an inheritance, you can park any funds in a high-yield savings account or certificate of deposit.
âA large inheritance that pushes you out of your financial comfort zone can create anxiety about how to best manage the money.â
2. Know what you’re inheriting
Before you determine the things to do with an inheritance, you need to know what you’re getting. Certified financial planner and wealth manager Alex Caswell says how you use your inheritance will largely depend on its source. Typically, Caswell says an inheritance will come in the form of assets from one of three places:
Real estate, such as a house or property. As Caswell explains, if you receive assets from real estate, you will transfer them into your name. As the inheritor, you can choose what to do with the assetsâtypically sell, rent or live in them.
A trust account, a legal arrangement through which funds are held by a third party (the trustee) for the benefit of another party (the beneficiary), which may be an individual or a group. The creator of the trust is known as a grantor. âIf someone inherits assets through a trust, the trust documents will stipulate how these assets will be distributed and who ultimately decides how they are to be invested,” Caswell says. In some cases, the assets get distributed outright to you; in other instances, the trust stays intact and you get paid in installments.
A retirement account, such as an IRA, Roth IRA or 401(k). These accounts can be distributed in one lump sum, however, there may be requirements related to the amount of a distribution and the cadence of distributions.
When considering things to do with an inheritance, know that inherited assets can be designated as Transfer on Death (TOD) or beneficiary deeds (in the case of real estate), which means the assets can be transferred to beneficiaries without the often lengthy probate process. An individual may also bequeath cash or valuables, like jewelry or family heirlooms, as well as life insurance or stock certificates.
Caswell says if your inheritance comes in the form of investment assets, such as stocks or mutual funds, you’ll want to think of them as part of your own financial picture. âAll too often, we see individuals end up treating inherited assets as a living extension of their passed relative,” Caswell says. Consider how the investments can be used to support your financial goals when thinking about things to do when you get an inheritance.
An average of roughly 1.7 million households receive an inheritance each year.
3. Plan what to do with your financial gain
Just like doing your household budgeting, it’s important to “assign” your inheritance to specific purposes or goals, says Pacifica Wealth Advisors’ Pagliarini. Depending on your financial situation, the simple concepts of save, spend and give may be a good place to start when deciding on things to do when you get an inheritance:
Bolster your emergency fund: You should have at least three to six months of living expenses saved up to avoid unexpected financial shocks, such as job loss, car repairs or medical expenses. If you don’t and you’re deciding what things to do with an inheritance, consider parking some cash in this bucket.
Save for big goals: Now could be a good time to boost your long-term savings goals and pay it forward. Things to do when you get an inheritance could include putting money toward a child’s college fund or getting your retirement savings on track.
Tackle debt: If you’re evaluating what to do with an inheritance, high-interest debt is something you could consider paying off. Spending on debt repayment can help you save on hefty interest charges.
Reduce or pay off your mortgage: Getting closer to paying off your homeâor paying it off entirelyâcan also save you in interest and significantly lower your monthly expenses. Allocating cash here is a win-win.
Enjoy a little bit of it: It’s okay to use a portion of your inheritance on something you enjoy or find rewarding. Planning a vacation, investing in more education or paying for a big purchase could be good moves.
Donate funds to charity: Thinking about your loved one’s causes or your own can continue legacy goals and provide tax benefits.
When deciding what to do with an inheritance, taxes will need to be considered. “It is extremely important to be aware of all tax ramifications of any decision around inherited assets,” Caswell says. You could be required to pay a capital gains tax if you sell the gift (like property) that was passed down to you, for example. Also, depending on where you live, your inherited money could be taxed. In addition to federal estate taxes, several U.S. states impose an inheritance tax and/or an estate tax.
Since every situation is unique and tax laws can change, when considering things to do with an inheritance, consult a financial advisor or tax professional for guidance.
Make your windfall count
Receiving an inheritance has the potential to change your financial picture for good. When thinking about the things to do when you get an inheritance, be sure to give yourself ample time to grieve and to understand all of your options. Don’t be afraid to lean on the experts to get up to speed on any tax and legal implications you need to consider.
Planning can go a long way toward making the right decisions concerning your newfound wealth. Being responsible with your inheritance not only helps ensure your financial future, but will also honor your loved one’s legacy.
The post 4 Smart Things to Do When You Get an Inheritance appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Life in the military offers some distinct experiences compared to civilian life, and that includes your budget and finances. The pre-deployment process can feel overwhelming, especially when youâre organizing your money and bills.Â
Itâs important you provide your family with everything they need to keep you and any dependents comfortable and stable. This means gathering paperwork, making phone calls to service providers, creating new budgets, and organizing your estate. The more you prepare ahead of time, the less you have to worry about the state of your investments and finances when you return home.Â
To help make the process easier, weâve gathered everything you need to know for deployment finances. Read on or jump to a specific category below:
Review Your Estate
Reassign Financial Responsibilities
Update Your Services
Build a Budget
Prepare a Deployment Binder
Protect Yourself From Fraud
Adjust Your Savings
Update Your Budget
Pay Off Debt
Review Legal Documents
Before Your Deployment
Thereâs a lot of paperwork and emotions involved in preparing for deployment. Make sure you take plenty of time for yourself and your loved ones, then schedule time to organize your finances for some peace of mind.Â
investments, and dependents. Itâs an important conversation to have with your partner and establishes:
Power of attorney
Last will and testament
Anyone with property, wealth, or dependents should have some estate planning basics secured. These documents will protect your wishes and your family in the event you suffer serious injury. There are several military resources to help you prepare your estate:
Defense Finance And Accounting Servicesâ Survivor Benefit Plan and Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan
Department Of Defenseâs Military Funeral Honors Pre-arrangementÂ
Service Memberâs Group Life Insurance
Veterans Affairs Survivorâs Benefits
The Importance Of Estate Planning In The Military
Survivor Benefits Calculator
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows you to cancel a housing or auto lease, cancel your phone service, and avoid foreclosure on a home you own without penalties. Additionally, you can reduce your debt interest rates while youâre deployed, giving you a leg up on debt repayment or savings goals. Learn more about the SCRA benefits below:
Terminating Your Lease For Deployment
SCRA Interest Rate Limits
SCRA Benefits And Legal Guidance
Build a Deployment Budget
Your pay may change during and after deployment, which means itâs time to update your budget. Use a deployment calculator to estimate how your pay will change to get a foundation for your budget.Â
Typically, we recommend you put 50 percent of your pay towards needs, like rent and groceries. If you donât have anyone relying on your income, then you should consider splitting this chunk of change between your savings accounts and debt.Â
Make sure you continue to deposit at least 20 percent of your pay into savings, too. Send some of this towards an emergency fund, while the rest can go towards your larger savings goals, like buying a house and retirement.Â
Use these resources to help calculate your goals and budgets, as well as planning for your taxes:
My Army Benefits Deployment Calculator
My Army Benefits Retirement Calculator
Mint Budget Calculator
IRS Deployed Veteran Tax Extension
IRS Military Tax Resources
Combat Zone Tax Exclusions
Prepare a Deployment Binder
Itâs best to organize and arrange all of your documents, information, and needs into a deployment binder for your family. This will hold copies of your estate planning documents, budget information, and additional contacts and documents.Â
Make copies of your personal documents, like birth certificates, contracts, bank information, and more. You also want to list important contacts like family doctors, your petâs veterinarian, household contacts, and your power of attorney.Â
Once you have your book ready, give it to your most trusted friend or family member. Again, this point of contact will have a lot of information about you that needs to stay secure. Finish it off with any instructions or to-dos for while youâre gone, and your finances should be secure for your leave.Â
While Youâre Deployed
Though most of your needs are taken care of before you deploy, there are a few things to settle while youâre away from home.Â
Romance and identity scams are especially popular and can cost you thousands.Â
Social Media Scams To Watch For
Romance Scam Red Flags
Military Scam Warning Signs
Adjust Your SavingsÂ
Since you wonât be responsible for as many bills, and you may have reduced debt interest rates, deployment is the perfect time to build your savings.
While youâre deployed, you may be eligible for the Department of Defenseâs Savings Deposit Program (SDP), which offers up to 10 percent interest. This is available to service members deployed to designated combat zones and those receiving hostile fire pay.
Military and federal government employees are also eligible for the Thrift Savings Plan. This is a supplementary retirement savings to your Civil Service Retirement System plan.
Savings Deposit Program
Thrift Savings Plan Calculator
Civil Service Retirement System
Military Saves Resources
Additional Resources for Financial Assistance
Deployment can be a financially and emotionally difficult time for families of service members. Make sure you and your family have easy access to financial aid in case they find themselves in need.Â
Each individual branch of the military offers its own family and financial resources. You can find additional care through local support systems and national organizations, like Military OneSource and the American Legion.Â
Family Readiness System
Navy-marine Corps Relief Society
Air Force Aid Society
Army Emergency Relief
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
Military Onesourceâs Financial Live Chat
Find Your Military And Family Support Center
Emergency Loans Through Military Heroes Fund Foundation Programs
The American Legion Family Support Network
After You Return Home
Coming home after deployment may be a rush of emotions. Relief, exhaustion, excitement, and lots of celebration are sure to come with it. Thereâs a lot to consider with reintegration after deployment, and that includes taking another look at your finances.Â
Update Your Budget
Just like before deployment, you should update your budget to account for your new spending needs and pay. Itâs time to reinstate your car insurance, find housing, and plan your monthly grocery budget.Â
After a boost in savings while deployed, you may want to treat yourself to something nice â which is totally okay! The key is to decide what you want for yourself or your family, figure if itâs reasonable while maintaining other savings goals, like your rainy day fund, and limit other frivolous purchases. Now is not the time to go on a spending spree â itâs best to invest this money into education savings, retirement, and other long-term plans.
In addition to your savings goals, make sure youâre prepared to take care of yours and your familyâs health. Prioritize your mental health after deployment and speak with a counselor, join support groups, and prepare for reintegration. Your family and children may also have a hard time adjusting, so consider their needs and seek out resources as well.Â
FTC | NFCCÂ
The post Guide to Managing Finances for Deploying Service Members appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Use the grocery calculator below to estimate your monthly and weekly food budget based on guidelines from the USDAâs monthly food plan. Input your family size and details below to calculate how much a nutritious grocery budget should cost you. Of course, every family is different. Some love coupons and leftovers, while others prefer fresh fish and aged cheese. Once youâve established your budget, use the slider to adjust your estimate to your spending habits.Â
Getting your food budget on point takes practice. With this grocery calculator and the right spending habits, youâll have enough for your living expenses and exciting financial goals like paying off loans or buying a house.
Grocery Budget Calculator
A moderate grocery budget will run you:
Weekly Grocery Cost Food costs per individual are based on USDA research regarding Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and follow MyPyramid nutrition guidelines.
Monthly Grocery Cost Food costs per individual are based on USDA research regarding Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and follow MyPyramid nutrition guidelines.
What kind of spender are you?
Does your estimate look right? If your spending habits don’t add up, explore these other budget options and choose what’s best for your lifestyle.
Thrifty This is the USDAâs estimated food budget for families that receive food assistance like WIC or SNAP.
Cost-Conscious This is an ideal budget for nutritious meals if youâre looking to save a little extra cash with leftovers and coupons.
Moderate This is the standard for affordable, nutritious, and balanced portions for most families.
Generous This budget gives you some spending wiggle room for finer foods or extra portions.
See where the rest of your budget is going Sign up for Mint
Monthly Grocery Budget
Ever wonder how much you should spend on groceries?Â The average cost of food per month for one person ranges from $150 to $300, depending on age. However, these national averages vary based on where you live and the quality of your food purchases.
Hereâs a monthly grocery budget for the average family. This is based on the national average and likely varies by location and shop. For instance, New York City grocers are going to be far more expensive than Kansas City shops. Additionally, organic grocery stores like Whole Foods are pricier than places like Walmart or Aldi.
Youâll also want to consider dietary choices, like gluten-free or vegan diets. These can significantly affect your budget, so consider planning your grocery list online to compare prices and find your preferred alternatives.
Finding a reasonable monthly grocery budget ensures you and your family have what you need, while not overspending. Look back at previous months using a budgeting app or credit card statements to see what youâve spent at the grocery store. Decide if you want to maintain your current budget or cut back.
Purchasing Groceries vs. Dining Out
Donât forget what you spend at restaurants when you consider your food budget. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend 11 percent of their take-home income on food. It doesnât all go towards groceries, though. Approximately six percent is spent on groceries, while five percent is spent dining out â including dates, lunches with coworkers, and Sunday brunch.
With this framework in mind, you can calculate your total food budget based on your take-home income. For example, Rita makes $3,500 per month after taxes. She would budget six percent for groceries ($210) and five percent for restaurants ($175). So sheâll need a total of $385 for food each month. With a little practice, sheâll better learn her habits and be able to accurately adjust her budget.
Tips for Reducing Your Budget
There are several ways to cut back on what you spend without sacrificing the quality and taste of your food. Trimming your food budget can help you stow away more for your financial goals, such as building an emergency fund or saving for a dream vacation.
Coupons are easy to find in the mail, in store, in your inbox, and even in a Google search. Many popular grocery stores are rolling out apps that track your coupons and savings. Be sure to download and register your email for new updates and sales. These usually work in person or online, so you can shop when and how you like.Â
While a single coupon might not give you a large discount, you can save a lot with multiple coupons. Itâs also important you make sure you actually need the item youâre purchasing instead of buying it for the sale. This can quickly get out of hand and push you over budget.Â
Freeze Your Food
Freezing your fresh food before it goes bad helps your wallet and the environment. You can plan ahead and freeze prepared produce to save time on weekday cooking, or chop and freeze last weekâs produce before shopping for more. Frozen vegetables are great in soups and stews, and you can use frozen fruits for healthy breakfast smoothies.Â
Plan a Weekly Menu Ahead of Time
Plan your meals ahead of time to determine the food items and quantities you need before you head to the grocery store. This way youâre more likely to buy the exact items you need and can plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try to plan for recipes that use the same ingredients so thereâs less to purchase. You can also make larger meals and plan leftovers for lunch so you have less to plan and purchase.
Bring Lunches to WorkÂ
A $13 lunch out might not seem like much, but it can blow your food budget fast if it becomes a habit. Push your monthly food budget further with delicious lunches from home. Salads, sandwiches, and leftovers are all easy, inexpensive, and nutritious.Â
Buy Store BrandsÂ
Many packaged products have a huge price disparity between brand name and generic items, and store brand items tend to be cheaper without sacrificing much quality. You can easily save 10 cents to a dollar per item, which adds up quickly over many trips.Â
Shop at a More Affordable Store
Your local farmers market, chain grocery, and organic store will all offer different specialties and sales. Check out the different shops in your area to find the best combination of quality and price. Some stores might even offer bulk items â great for your favorite products and those with a long shelf-life. Choosing cheaper staple items like milk and yogurt can also make a huge difference over time.Â
An accurate food budget that works for you helps you feel more confident and in control of your finances. Build a budget, learn your spending habits, and keep a grocery list to keep you on track and responsible so you can reach bigger goals, like a new vehicle or a down payment on a house.Â
Sources:Â USA Today |Â EurekAlert | Persistent Economic Burden of the Gluten-Free Diet
The post How Much Your Monthly Food Budget Should Be + Grocery Calculator appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Having a baby means countless changes in your life, and they can happen very quickly. Diapers. Day care. Days running on little sleep. While it may not be on the top of your parenting list, budgeting for a new baby can help prepare your family for the excitement that’s ahead.
Kelsa Dickey is a financial coach and co-owner of Fiscal Fitness, a financial coaching company based in Phoenix. For her and her husband, budgeting has helped reduce money stress since they had their daughter in 2015.
“I absolutely worry less about finances because we budget our money,” Dickey says. “I find budgeting incredibly liberating.”
How do you prepare financially for a baby so you can worry less about finances as a parent? Here are four tips that expecting parents can use to help figure out their new financial reality and learn how to budget for a baby:
1. Prep for pregnancy expenses
Budgeting for a new baby often starts long before the baby arrives. You may have to account for medical bills, prenatal vitamins and maternity clothes, for example. Budgeting for a new baby can become easier if you account for these new expenses before you even need to make the purchases.
Alli Wittbold, a former teacher and blogger at Mom Smart Not Hard, and her husband, were able to save a significant amount on their medical bills when they had their daughter in 2016. Before they were even pregnant, they thought about ways to save money and researched the maternity coverage on both of their insurance plans. They found the coverage on her husband’s plan was much better than hers. By switching their coverage to her husband’s plan before getting pregnant, they were able to save thousands of dollars in maternity-related medical expenses.
While not all pregnancy expenses can be so well-planned in advance, sit down with your budget and make a list of all the new, common costs you’ll need to account for as you prepare for your family’s newest addition. Talking with other parents can help you get a sense for costs that may creep up higher than expected (for Dickey, it was maternity clothes, including new shoes and compression socks), as well as those not even on your radar.
“You can’t plan for everything, but if you can plan for even 75 percent of what you’ll need, the other 25 percent will be that much easier to tackle.”
2. Save for baby-related costs
For the Dickeys, budgeting for a new baby meant accounting for increased monthly spending on things they’d anticipated, such as diapers, wipes, baby food and day care. But they also encountered plenty of unexpected expenses. For instance, Dickey planned to nurse and found that nursing supplies and support took a big chunk out of their budget.
“Paying for one-on-one help and consulting was not something I anticipated,” she says.
The Wittbolds also encountered unexpected costs when budgeting for a new baby. They didn’t plan for supplies for when their baby got sick. “During our daughter’s first cold, we ran out to buy a humidifier and nasal aspirator,” Wittbold says.
To cope with unexpected expenses related to their daughter, the Dickeys adjusted their budget and began putting a set amount of money into a specific savings account each month. “I highly recommend doing this because you don’t necessarily know what you will or won’t need, so this allows for some flexibility,” Dickey says.
If you’re looking for additional strategies to learn how to budget for a baby, consider starting an emergency fund to help you better budget for a new baby’s unexpected expenses.
“You can’t plan for everything, but if you can plan for even 75 percent of what you’ll need,” Dickey says, “the other 25 percent will be that much easier to tackle.”
Sunny skies are the right time to save for a rainy day.
Start an emergency fund with no minimum balance.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC
3. Get creative with your purchases
While baby items can be fun to shop for (think cute little onesies), paying full price on everything can make it nearly impossible to budget for a new baby. The Wittbolds were gifted a lot of the things they needed at their baby shower, but they also shopped secondhandâa great tip for those worried about how to budget for a baby. They perused local classifieds and online marketplaces, and they even picked up hand-me-downs from friends with older children.
The Wittbolds also found creative (and fun) ways to save money by pooling resources from their friends. “My husband had a ‘daddy diaper party’ with all of his guy friends. As a gift, each friend brings a box of diapers,” Wittbold says. “We didn’t have to buy diapers for months.”
4. Account for income changes
Whether you intend to take a parental leave from work or have one parent stay at home to care for your child, you may have to figure out how to budget for a baby with less income than you’re used to.
Dickey and her husband own their financial coaching business, and they were worried about loss of income since they don’t work for an employer with maternity or paternity leave benefits. She knew she wanted to take six weeks off after having her daughter, so they started saving for the drop in income as soon as they knew they were pregnant.
“It made it so I didn’t worry and knew I could enjoy that time off with my daughter,” she says.
Wittbold decided to cope with her time off work as a school teacher by enacting a spending freeze once she was no longer earning an income. “For us, this means no spending aside from grocery store essentials, baby essentials like diapers, gas and of course bills,” she says. “To prepare for this, I stocked our freezer with homemade meals that could be dumped in the Crock-Pot or popped in the oven.”
Not long after her daughter was born, Wittbold decided to continue staying at home rather than return to her teaching position. She needed longer-term solutions to account for one less full-time income. After seeking out online opportunities, she found a remote position where she could teach English online. This helped her start earning enough part-time money to make staying at home possible.
“I teach every morning from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.,” she says. “This change meant an additional $1,200 for our family every month.” This kind of flexible side hustle that you can maintain while parenting is a great way to bring in additional income if you’re budgeting for a new baby and looking for ways to save money when you have a baby.
“Budgeting has forced us to do things like meal plan, create cleaning schedules and use our time more effectively in order to earn money from home. This all results in less stress and more time with our baby because we are using the time we have more intentionally.”
Sleep soundly (well, eventually) thanks to your budget
While you might not be able to sleep through the night anytime soon, budgeting for a new baby will help give you peace of mind. Knowing you have a plan for expected and unexpected expenses, as well as understanding ways to save money when you have a baby, can allow you to make the most of your time with your family.
“Budgeting has forced us to do things like meal plan, create cleaning schedules and use our time more effectively in order to earn money from home,” Wittbold says. “This all results in less stress and more time with our baby because we are using the time we have more intentionally.”
The post Budgeting for a New Baby? Babyproof Your Budget in 4 Steps appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
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Saving and investing for college expenses may seem overwhelming, but setting aside even small amounts can give your child a head start. While many people are aware of tax-efficient investing accounts like 529 plans, you may not know about UGMA/UTMA accounts – another way to save for educational and other expenses.
In this article, weâll take a look at UGMA and UTMA custodial accounts, what they are, and how to determine the best way to save for your kidsâ future, while getting tax advantages.
What are UGMA and UTMA accounts?
UGMA stands for the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act and UTMA stands for Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. Account-holders are âcustodians,â and may transfer money into the account to benefit the minor, but the money is managed by the custodian. Typically the money is released to the minor at the age of majority (usually 21 but sometimes 18 or other ages).
How do UGMA and UTMA accounts differ from 529 plans?
529 plans differ from UGMA/UTMA account in a few key areas:
529 plans can only be used for educational expenses, while UGMA/UTMA accounts can be used for anything that benefits the child. .
529 plans are owned and controlled by the person who created the account – with UTMA/UGMA accounts, the funds are transferred to the beneficiary at the age of majority.
Unlike 529 plans, custodial accounts are considered the property of the child, which means that it counts for a higher percentage in financial aid calculations.
The two types of plans share some similarities:
Both types of accounts are considered custodial accounts that can be used for the benefit of a minor.
Anyone can contribute to either type of account â there are no restrictions based on oneâs personal income
If you have a medium to long-term horizon, either a UGMA/UTMA account or a 529 account is usually better than just putting your money in a savings account at a low-interest rate. And donât forget that it is possible to have both a 529 plan AND a UGMA/UTMA account for the same child.
Why You Need to Open a UGMA/UTMA Account for Your Kids
Unlike with a 529 plan, the funds in a custodial account do not have to be used solely for higher-education expenses. The custodian can withdraw money in a UGMA/UTMA custodial account for any expense that benefits the child, like technology, transportation, housing, or any other expense for the child.
The biggest advantage of UGMA/UTMA custodial accounts is their flexibility. Because they can be used for a wide array of expenses, you can use the money in the account even if your child chooses not to go to college. While earnings do not grow completely tax-free like in a 529 plan, earnings in a UGMA/UTMA account are tax-advantaged, but in a different way.
Depending on how you file your tax return, a guardian can choose to include their childâs unearned income with their own tax return. Unearned income is money that doesnât come from employment, like from interest or investments. In 2020, the first $1,100 of a childâs unearned income can be claimed on the guardiansâ tax return tax-free, and the next $1,100 is taxed at the childâs tax rate, which is likely much lower than their parentâs.
Things to watch out for with UGMA or UTMA accounts
If youâre looking to save money or transfer assets to your kids for a variety of expenses beyond education, a UGMA/UTMA custodial account can make a lot of sense. One thing to watch out for is that a UGMA/UTMA account is tied specifically to one named beneficiary. Unlike a 529 plan, where you can transfer the money in an account to a sibling or other beneficiary, with a UGMA/UTMA account, any unused funds must be used or distributed by the time the child reaches their age of majority or their stateâs maximum age for custodial accounts.
Apps like Acorns are making it easy to start a UTMA/UGMA account with their new product, Acorns Early. You can start in under a few minutes and set Recurring Investments starting at $5 a day, week, or month. Fun fact: If you invest $5 a day from birth, considering a 7% average annual market return, you could have more than $70,000 by the time the child turns 18. To learn more, visit Acorns.com/Early.
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