Earlier this year, I published the post Is Being House Poor Limiting You? While no one ever thinks they will fall into being house poor, it does happen to some. Due to this, when asking yourself the question “how much home can I afford,” it’s best to think about ALL of the expenses that go into homeownership.
There are many “hidden” costs that go into homeownership that many do not think about when buying a home. While some homes may seem affordable, there are many factors and expenses to think about.
According to recent data from Zillow:
U.S. homeowners on average spend more than $9,000 per year in hidden homeownership costs and maintenance expenses
U.S. homeowners pay an average of $6,042 per year in unavoidable hidden costs: homeowners insurance, property taxes and utilities
U.S. homeowners pay an average of $3,435 per year in annual optional costs including house cleaning, yard care, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning, and pressure washing.
That’s a lot of extra money each year that many homeowners do not realize that they may need to pay for.
By not knowing about these costs, a person may become stressed due to the amount of debt they may rack up from being house poor. It may also delay retirement, lead to a house being empty (there might be no money left to decorate), and more.
There are things you can do though so that you can make sure you don’t fall into a house poor situation, though. When pondering the question “How much home can I afford,” think about the many tips below.
Add up all of the costs.
Buying a home can easily lead to being house poor if you don’t do enough research. This can limit you because you may be even more house poor than you originally thought.
When some families buy a home, they don’t think about the total cost of homeownership. While you may be able to afford the monthly mortgage payment, you may not be able to afford everything else if you don’t do your research.
Before you say “yes” to a home, I recommend you add up all of the extra costs that you may have to pay for if you decide to buy a specific home.
Other homeownership costs include:
Gas. Many homes run on gas in order to have hot water, to use the stove, and so on.
Electricity. Generally, the bigger your home then the higher your electricity bill will be.
Sewer. This isn’t super expensive, but it is generally around $30 a month from what I’ve seen.
Trash. This isn’t super expensive either but it does cost money.
Water (and possibly irrigation). Water bills can vary widely. I know many who live in areas where the average water bill is a few hundred each month.
Property taxes. Property taxes can vary widely from town to town. You may find yourself looking at two similar houses with similar price tags, but the property taxes may vary by thousands of dollars annually. That is a LOT of money. While it may seem small when compared to the actual home purchase price, remember that you have to pay property taxes annually and a difference of just $3,600 a year is $300 a month for life.
Home insurance. Home insurance can be cheap in some areas but crazy expensive in others. Don’t forget to look into the cost of earthquake, flood, and hurricane insurance as well as that can add up quickly depending on where you live.
Maintenance and repairs. Even if your home is brand new, you may have to pay for repairs, which is something that many don’t realize. No matter how old your home is, repair and maintenance costs will eventually come into play.
Homeowners association fees. This can also vary widely. You should always see if the house you are interested in is in an HOA because the fees can be high and there may be rules you don’t like as well.
Home furnishings. Furnishing your home can be done cheaply, but I know some who buy huge homes but can’t afford to put anything in them, such as a table, a bed, and so on. Why own a $500,000 house if you don’t have any furniture?
Related: Home Buying Tips You Need To Know Before You Buy
Buy for less than what you are approved for.
Many potential homeowners are approved for home loans that are somewhere around 30% to 35% of their salary before taxes.
That’s a lot of money. This amount is before taxes as well, which means that your actual monthly home payment would be a significant portion of your take-home income each month. Many who buy at the full approval amount cannot afford their homes due to the fact that it is such a significant percentage of what they earn.
If you don’t want to be house poor, then you should make sure to buy a home that is less than what you are approved for. You should also add up all of the costs of owning a home and make sure it is an amount that you are comfortable with.
Renting Out A Room In Your Home For Extra Money
How To Live On One Income
Ways To Make An Extra $1,000 A Month
Have an emergency fund.
An emergency fund isn’t just to protect you from your job. They also exist to help you in case something goes wrong with your home.
Your roof could spring a leak, a tree may fall on your home, a pipe may burst, there may be an electrical problem and more. Homes have many things that go into them and you never know if something may need to be fixed.
By having an emergency fund, you will have a fund that will help you if something were to go wrong. It will be you be more prepared so that you don’t have to take on any debt in order to help pay for an expense.
What would you say to someone who asks “How much home can I afford?” Do you know anyone who is house poor?
The post How To Avoid Being House Poor appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
I first adopted my dog Molly, I was so excited. She was the first dog in the first kennel at the SPCA, and the only dog in the group not barking. My fiance and I were instantly drawn to her.
We continued down the row of kennels, looking into the cages and seeing dogs of all different shapes, sizes and energy levels, but none of them got our attention like the little black and white dog in the first kennel.
After walking her around outside of her kennel for a few minutes, it became even more clear that this was the pup for us. She wasn’t spayed, and the shelter wouldn’t release her until she was, so we shut her back into her cage, and put our name down for her with the office staff. She’d be ready to pick up in a few days, but in the mean time, we were off to get her supplies.
That was six months ago, and since then, I’ve learned a lot about the huge industry that is pet products. For every genuinely useful or essential product, there are ten poorly constructed or downright pointless products sitting right next to it on your shelf or screen. So, today I’m going to go through some of the pet products I think are completely worth spending money on, and, just for fun, some that aren’t a good investment.
A Strong Collar
Our first stop when picking up Molly’s supplies was to Walmart, where I picked up a typical collar with a plastic buckle. Within one week, the flimsy buckle was snapping loose. So back we went, to replace the cheap-o collar with one with a strong metal clasp.
Tartar Busting Bones
Poor dental hygiene can lead to costly teeth cleanings and other nasty diseases if left untreated. To combat this, invest in some tartar busting bones. The rough surfaces naturally clean a dog’s teeth when chewed on, and keeping tartar at bay early on means cheaper long term dental care (better breath too).
High Quality Dog Food
Now, I’m not saying you need to go out and buy the $30 bag of organic, free range, human grade dog food. But in the arena of nutrition, dogs aren’t that different from people. Poor quality food contributes to poor quality health, and an unhealthy dog is an expensive dog. High quality food also contributes to better breath, a shinier and softer coat, and less…erm…waste.
A Dremel Nail Grinder
Unless you want your floors, couches and skin all scratched to hell, you need to clip your dog’s nails. With some care and positive training, nail clipping can easily be done at home, without any need for a trip to the groomer. I bought a pair of cheap nail clippers, and their dull edges means I have proceed with nail clipping very carefully in order not to hurt Molly’s little paws. To make the project easier yet still save hundreds at the groomer, consider investing in a Dremel Nail Grinder instead.
Pets shed. A ton. I have a long haired cat and a short haired dog in four hundred square feet of living space. To cut down on the crazy amount of hair that can accumulate ridiculously quickly, good quality brushes are a must. The furminator is great for that.
Things That Aren’t a Good Investment
This, this, this, oh and this (although that one is kinda cute).
Not everything that is put out by the pet industry is a worthwhile investment, or even remotely useful. In fact, most of it is probably crap just released because pet crazy people love to spoil their animals. To make your dollar go further, make sure to invest in high quality items that will keep your pet healthy, and help you save money over the long term.
What’s your number one indispensable pet item? I want to know!
The post Top Pet Products Not to Skimp On appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
The start of a new year is a great time to update your financial goals and give your budget a second look. If you didnât save as much as you had hoped to in 2017 â or youâve racked up holiday debt â making some financial resolutions can help you get back on track. As youâre reviewing your spending habits and expenses, here are three money moves you might want to make.
1. Prioritize Your Emergency Fund
An emergency fund can be your best friend when disasters strike. If your heating system bites the dust in the middle of the winter or April showers cause your roof to leak, having some cash in the bank can keep you from having to cover the damages using loans or credit cards.
If your emergency fund is on the small side (or worse, nonexistent), whipping it into shape belongs at the top of your to-do list. You can begin by setting a savings goal. For example, you could initially aim to save $1,000. Then you could work on bumping that up to an amount equal to three to six monthsâ worth of expenses.
Depending on how you manage your finances, you may need to break down your bigger savings goals into smaller ones that you can hit on a monthly basis. You may only be able to save $25 or $50 every month, but the key is to be consistent. If youâre struggling to get into the habit of saving money regularly, you can have part of your paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account.
2. Track Your Spending
One of the biggest budgeting blunders you can make is not knowing where your moneyâs going. Aside from knowing how much youâre spending on essentials like housing, utilities and transportation, itâs important to keep an eye on how much money is going toward non-essential expenses, like movie tickets, clothing and fast food.
You can track your expenses by listing them in a notebook. Or you can find an app to do that for you. Apps like Level Money and Mint, for example, make it easy to see what youâre spending money on.
3. Switch up Your Payment Methods
Using a credit card can be a convenient way to pay for purchases. But credit cards can be dangerous, especially if you fall into the habit of thinking itâs okay to spend more than you need to. Paying with a debit card could also get you in trouble if you often overspend.
Paying for everything with cash for the first few months of the new year might help you reign in your spending. Having to physically hand over money tends to be more painful than swiping or dipping a piece of plastic. Setting aside a certain amount of cash for non-essential items may force you to think twice about what youâre doing with your dollars and cents.
Each of these resolutions is based on the assumption that you have a budget. If you donât have one, itâs best to create a spending plan before setting other financial goals.
To get started, you can review your pay stubs and your bank statements to get an idea of how much money you have coming in and going out. Then you can fine-tune your budget by adding up all of your debts and estimating how much you can spend on discretionary items. Finally, you can decide how much you can afford to save, based on whether youâre trying to prepare for retirement or make a major purchase.
Would you like to learn how to save for retirement?
Learning how to save for retirement is how you start preparing for your future. It’s necessary if you don’t want to work for the rest of your life or if you want to do amazing things after you quit working, like traveling or trying new hobbies.
I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon, but it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and planning for. There are lots of reasons for why you should too, such as:
You can retire sooner rather than later.
You won’t have to keep working forever.
You can lead a good life well after you finish working.
Compound interest means the earlier you save the more you earn.
You won’t have to rely on your children or others in order to survive.
But, many people are confused or overwhelmed when it comes to retirement savings and investing.
There are different kinds of retirement accounts, personal finance terms you might be unfamiliar with, and you might feel like you don’t have enough money to start saving.
But, you have to remember that everyone is new to this at some point. Anyone who has already started saving for retirement started where you are today – having a lot of questions about how to save for retirement.
You might even have a lot of questions that you are too embarrassed to ask anyone. However, you shouldn’t be embarrassed or feel bad about not knowing how to start saving for retirement.
Personal finance bloggers and retirement experts all started at the same point as you. No one was born knowing how!
Today, I’m going to try to take the stress out of learning how to save for retirement. I am going to explain some common retirement and investing terms – like what compound interest is, the difference in IRAs, and what a 401(k) is.
I’m also going to answer some of the most common questions about retirement savings. These include topics like how much you should save, and if you should save for retirement or help your kids pay for college.
If you are worried that you don’t have enough to start saving for retirement, I have some great tips to get started.
Learning the answers to these questions now is so important because it can help you live a better life in the future. By preparing now, you can prevent future financial stress, you can reach your goals, and pursue your passions.
And remember, it is never too late to learn how to save for retirement, and it’s very important to do if you don’t want to work for the rest of your life.
Related content on how to save for retirement:
Why Investing for Retirement is So Important for Women (and How To Do It)
How This Couple Retired In Their 30s and Now Travel Around The World
How To Become Rich – It’s More Than Millions In The Bank
How This Couple Retired at 38 and 41
How My 401k Loan Cost Me $1 Million Dollars
Here’s how to save for retirement.
What is a 401(k)?
A 401(k) is a type of retirement account that you get through an employer.
It allows you to invest a portion of your paycheck before taxes are taken out, and the amount in your 401(k) can grow tax free until you withdraw. Once you reach retirement and take money out of your 401(k), the amount you withdraw from this account is taxed.
Your 401(k) is an account that holds investments, similar to how your bank account holds your money. You may choose to place investments such as stocks, mutual funds, and more in your 401(k).
What’s a company match? Or employer match?
You’ve probably heard the term “employer match” or “company match.” But, what do they mean?
A company or employer match is when your employer contributes to your 401(k).
For example, an employer may match 100% of your contribution, up to 5% of your salary. So, if you contribute 5% of your salary to your 401(k), then your employer will also match and put 5% in as well.
This is basically free money that will help you grow your retirement savings, and you should take advantage of it if you can!
What is an IRA?
An IRA (Individual Retirement Account) is a type of retirement account that anyone can open, without an employer.
If you do not work for someone else, or if the business you work for does not have a 401(k), then an IRA may be a good option for you.
This is a confusing term and topic for people who want to learn how to save for retirement because there are different types of IRAs, including:
Traditional IRA – Contributions to this kind of IRA are tax deductible the year they are made.
SEP IRA – This is a traditional IRA that offers tax breaks for those who are self-employed.
Roth IRA – This account uses after-tax money, and your withdrawals in retirement are not taxed.
One way people decide between a Roth and traditional IRA is by what their tax rate (this is based on your income) will be like during retirement. If you will be at a higher tax rate, you may want to choose a Roth IRA. If you will be at a lower rate, a traditional IRA might be better.
What is compound interest?
This is a very important question to cover, because it’s something that may motivate you to start saving as much money as you can right now!
Learning how to save for retirement as soon as you can is a great thing, with one of the reasons being because of compound interest.
So, what is compound interest?
Compound interest is when your interest is earning interest. This can turn the amount of money you have saved into a much larger amount years later.
Compound interest is a crazy thing because $100 today will not be worth $100 in the future if you just let it sit under a mattress or in a basic, low interest checking account. However, if you invest through your retirement account, then you may be able to turn your $100 into something more.
When you invest, your money is working for you and growing your savings, and that’s because of compound interest.
For example: If you put $1,000 into a retirement account with an annual 8% return, 40 years later you will have $21,724. If you started with that same $1,000 and put an extra $1,000 in it for the next 40 years at an annual 8% return, that would then turn into $301,505. If you started with $10,000 and put an extra $10,000 in it for the next 40 years at an annual 8% return, that would grow into $3,015,055.
How much money do I need to retire? What percentage of your income should you save for retirement?
Figuring out how much to save for retirement isn’t an easy question to answer, as this will vary from person to person. It depends on your goals, when you want to retire, and what retirement means to you.
However, many people aren’t saving enough for retirement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the personal savings rate has averaged around 5% in the past year, and averaged 8.33% from 1959 until 2016.
I’ve talked to a lot of people who think that saving between 1% and 5% of their income is enough to be on track for retirement.
Sadly, saving 5% means it may take you a very long time to retire.
For the average person, I recommend saving at least 20% of your income.
However, there is no perfect percentage.
If you have a high income, then you should probably save more of your income so that you aren’t being wasteful with your money.
On the other hand, if 20% just seems like a crazy high percentage for you to save, then just start somewhere, anywhere! Saving something is better than saving nothing.
And, everyone has different financial goals. If you want to retire early, then you’ll most likely have to save more than 20% of your income.
How much money should you have saved by 30?
Many young people who are learning how to save for retirement ask me this question.
Some advisors recommend that you have an amount equal to your annual salary saved by 30, and others say that you should have half of your annual salary saved by 30.
I think those amounts are great to save by 30, but the problem with those guidelines is that if you haven’t started saving or are much older, you can easily feel like you will never be able to reach retirement.
Those recommendations may be very difficult for many people to follow. You have to be realistic with yourself, and start with small goals that you can build over time. Any amount helps, and it’s never too late to start saving!
What if I can’t save very much money for retirement?
You may be thinking “How much money should I save, if I don’t have much money?!”
Thinking about the above recommendations can be frustrating if you are already having a hard time paying your bills and/or living paycheck to paycheck.
However, I recommend saving as much money as you realistically can. This may be nowhere near 20% at first, heck, this might not even be 5%, but any little bit will help. If you are not able to save that much, just save something! Start with $25 a month if you have to – seriously, every little bit does help.
Even if it’s just $1 a day, set that amount aside and start saving it.
You may want to look into Acorns, which is a cell phone app that rounds up your credit card and debit card purchases, and then invests your spare change. Acorns automatically invests for you, and you can get started in under 5 minutes. This app is amazing!
So, no matter how you are doing right now, just start with something, no matter how small. Then, work your way up until you are saving a percentage of your income that you are happy with.
Start small and work your way towards your savings goal. And, if you are currently paying off debt, keep in mind that it counts too! Once your debt is paid off, you can use that amount towards your retirement savings.
Just keep moving in a positive direction and keep getting closer and closer to reaching your financial goals.
I understand that some people have financial situations in which they may not be able to save as much money as they would like. Living paycheck to paycheck, having lots of medical debt, or having a major unexpected expense can wreck a person’s financial situation and their goals, and I understand that.
However, you will need to find a way out of that if you want to learn how to save for retirement. To find a way out, you may want to find ways to cut your spending, make more money (learn ways to make extra money), and more. You will have to challenge yourself, and it may not be easy. However, it will all be worth it once you reach your financial goals!
By spending less money, you’ll decrease the amount of money you need for the future, including money for emergency funds, retirement, and more.
Just think about it: If you are currently living a frugal lifestyle, then you will be used to living on less in the future. This means that your saved retirement amount doesn’t need to be as large, which means it may be easier to reach that savings goal.
Where do I invest for retirement?
Now we are getting into questions about how to save for retirement that focus on some specific investing questions. And there are two main ways to start investing your money.
Either invest your money yourself, such as through an online brokerage, or find an expert to manage your investment portfolio.
Part of learning how to start investing includes determining the company, platform, or person you will use to invest your first dollar.
There are many online brokers for you to choose from. My favorite ways to save for retirement include:
Ally Invest – This is a full service discount broker that doesn’t have a minimum investment amount, so you can start investing with them right away.
Betterment – Betterment offers an affordable way to invest your money. They have over 400,000 customers and over $14 billion has been invested through their platform. With Betterment, you can invest with as little money as you want each month, which is great for a new investor!
Vanguard – I absolutely love Vanguard and use them personally, and I recommend that you check them out.
Also, if your employer has a retirement plan, then you will definitely want to look into that as well. If your company offers a retirement plan match, then this is where you will want to start as their retirement match is pretty much free money, as discussed earlier!
What do I invest in?
After you open your brokerage account, you will want to decide how exactly you will invest your money.
I think this might be one of the biggest hurdles for those wondering how to start investing. There are a lot of what ifs in the investment world, and a good brokerage or expert will help you navigate as you decide where to put your money as you learn how to save for retirement.
Basically, where you invest your money depends a lot on the level of risk you are willing to take and the time you have to watch your funds mature. A simple way of explaining this is that more time equals more risk and less time equals less risk.
For example: if you are in your 20’s, you may have many, many years worth of investing ahead of you. You will likely be able to make some riskier investments knowing that the market will bounce up and down over time. If you are closer to retirement, you may want your funds in something that you are confident will make small but steady gains.
Choosing the stocks you invest in is not the easiest thing because no one knows what will happen in the future. This is why it’s important to have a diverse portfolio.
When you are first learning how to save for retirement, you may want to consult an expert to help you determine your goals, your risk level, and how to diversify your investments in a way that will benefit you.
Even if you do have a professional helping you, it’s always important to do your own research on the types of investments available and which ones interest you.
Please remember that I am not an investment professional and that you should do your research when choosing who/what to invest in.
How often should I check on my investments in my retirement portfolio?
After you’ve started investing, you will want to regularly track your investments. This is important because you may eventually have to change where your money is invested, put more money towards your investments, and so on.
Now, the key here is to not go crazy. Checking on your portfolio can be an exciting thing when you first start investing. But, you do not want to become a person who checks their investments every hour of the day. That won’t help you at all. Your investments will make small changes throughout the day, and these likely won’t matter to you, especially if you are investing for your long-term future.
However, you do want to occasionally check your progress as things may change in the market, your investment interests may change, and you may even change your retirement and/or investing goals.
A free tool that I recommend using to monitor your investments is Personal Capital.
You can see your investment portfolio all in one place so that you can easily track your performance, see your investment allocations, and easily analyze everything related to your investments. The Personal Capital Retirement Planner will also tell you if you have saved enough for retirement, which is great when you’re learning how to save for retirement.
Should I risk my retirement and help my children pay for college?
If you are not currently saving enough money for retirement, and you are in jeopardy of not retiring, then I do not recommend risking your retirement to help your children pay for college.
I have personally heard too many real life stories of parents who have $200,000 in student loan debt for their children. These parents have found that these debts are causing them to struggle financially and that they’re unable to reach their retirement goals.
These parents just honestly want to help their children get through college, but they end up drowning in debt. What they don’t realize, though, is that there are other ways to help your kids graduate from college.
I recommend learning more at Parents Paying For College – Is This A Good Idea?
What are the best retirement and investing books?
There are many great investing and retirement books if you want even more about how to save for retirement. These books can clear up any other questions you have, as well as dive deeper into the many different ways to retire.
Here are some of the investing and retirement books that I recommend:
Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way
Broke Millennial Takes On Investing
Quit Like A Millionaire
The Simple Path To Wealth
The Millionaire Next Door
How Much Money Do I Need To Retire?
There are many more out there, but these are great books to start with. I have read each of them, and they are all very helpful.
How do I actually start saving for retirement?
There are many different ways to save money for retirement.
Actually getting started can be difficult, so in this section I wanted to list out the steps so you can learn exactly how to save for retirement.
Start setting aside money for retirement. If you want to learn how to save for retirement, you need to start setting aside money specifically for it. The amount of money you save is entirely up to you, but in general, the more the better. You can take money out of each paycheck, set up direct deposit, etc.
Research and learn more. I recommend learning more about investing and retirement if you are unsure about anything, such as by reading retirement books, websites, and so on. Sure, it can be easy just to hire someone to do it all for you – but how do you know that they are doing the correct thing to begin with? So, I recommend at the very least having a basic knowledge of everything yourself first.
Choose a brokerage or someone to manage your investments. Like I said earlier, there are two main ways to invest your money – yourself through a brokerage or you can find someone to manage your investment portfolio for you. You will need to choose one of these options to actually start investing your money. Personally, I like to do everything myself through Vanguard.
Decide how you will invest. How you invest depends on your risk tolerance, the time period for which you are investing (when will you retire?), and more. Generally, the sooner you need your funds the less risk you will take on, whereas the longer your time period is, then the more risk you may be willing to take.
Track your investment portfolio. This is important because you may eventually have to change what you are invested in, put more money towards your investments, and so on.
Continue the steps above over and over again. To invest for years and years to come, you will want to continue the steps above over and over again. Now that you know how to save for retirement and the steps it takes to invest your money, it only gets easier.
As you can see from the list above, saving for retirement is attainable, and you can do it!
What else do you want to learn about how to save for retirement? When do you think you’ll retire?
The post How To Save For Retirement – Answers To 13 Of The Most Common Questions appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
The idea behind FIRE is if you can earn more money, live on less, and save and invest the rest, you can cut years â or even decades â off of your working career. Of course, the FIRE movement has its problems.
Not everyone can save 50% or more of their income to work toward FIRE. And most who retire early continue working in some capacity to avoid running out of money early. Also, achieving FIRE is considerably easier during times of economic prosperity â no matter what anyone says, it wouldâve been a lot harder to get excited about FIRE in 2008 when the Dow dropped by 33.84%!
Iâve learned that there are benefits to cutting expenses, saving money, and investing more. Some advantages to FIRE donât even have anything to do with money at all.
Achieving FIRE and retiring early sounds good in theory, but itâs actually very hard to execute in a real-world sense. But hereâs why you should try anyway.
6 Reasons FIRE Still Works
But, you know what? I would argue that anyone who can, should at least try to pursue FIRE anyway. As Iâve become more interested in financial independence, Iâve learned that there are side benefits to cutting expenses and learning to save money and invest more. Some advantages to FIRE donât even have anything to do with money at all.
If youâre on the fence about FIRE, here are some of the reasons you might want to change your way of thinking and get on board.
1. Encourages Living With Intention
After reading Michael Hyattâs book, Living Forward, its concept of âdriftingâ stuck with me. Drifting occurs any time youâre going through the motions in life, but living without any concrete plans or goals.
Maybe youâre going to work every day, taking care of your kids, and keeping up with bills. But in these day-to-day tasks, youâre not actively achieving anything in particular.
Youâre just waking up and getting by.
With the FIRE movement though, you learn to live with intentionality because youâre forced to focus on your spending, and the specific goals necessary to reach financial independence.
As you pursue FIRE, you canât simply drift through life in hopes that the numbers work out in your favor. To have enough money to retire early, you need a plan. You have no choice but to set goals, and the act of doing so forces you to get real about how youâre living and what you really want in life.
Are you saving to buy a house? Are you saving to pay for college? Are you saving to retire early? Whatever your goals are, FIRE forces you to reverse engineer your long-term plan so itâs actionable and intentional today.
2. Feels More Financially Secure
Hereâs another potential side benefit of pursuing FIRE â you get the opportunity to feel more secure and sleep better at night. This is something I personally experienced when I started becoming FIRE-minded, but itâs also backed up by research.
In fact, a 2019 survey from Schwab showed that 63% of people with a written financial plan said they felt financially stable, compared to only 28% of those without a financial plan. Further, 56% of people with a financial plan said they felt âvery confidentâ about reaching their financial goals.
If youâve ever felt helpless about your finances before, then this probably makes total sense. Having a plan provides some comfort â even if you are far away from your goal. At least youâre working toward something, and that provides peace of mind.
3. Forces You to Take Control
I donât always agree with everything Dave Ramsey says, but I do love some of his best quotes. One example is:
âYou must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.â â Dave Ramsey
The point Iâm making is that, if you donât ask yourself important, uncomfortable questions, you might never get control of your finances â or your life.
Think about it this way. If youâre drifting through life and spending money without really saving for a goal, youâre at the mercy of your job and outside factors that affect your income and savings. But if you learn to take control of your spending, youâll also learn to take control of your future finances in ways you probably never realized before.
When most people start pursuing FIRE, they realize right away that the biggest part thatâs in their control is their spending. The other side of that coin is, of course, how much youâre able to save.
A recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows the average American set aside 5% to 8% of their income in savings. In contrast, those who pursue FIRE, frequently save 50% to 70% of their incomes toward their goals.
When you find a way to save a large percentage of your income, this means youâve taken control of the reins. You have goals and you have a purpose, and your money is no longer controlling your future. You are.
4. Empowers You with Information
According to a joint study from PwC US and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at the George Washington University, only 24% of millennials demonstrate basic financial literacy. And, even with minimal knowledge of their own, only 27% had sought out professional financial advice.
This is one area where even studying FIRE can leave you dramatically ahead. After all, pursuing FIRE or even reading about it forces empowers you with information about saving and investing for the long haul.
For example, through FIRE youâll randomly learn personal finance lessons like the 4% rule for retirement and how to create a budget. These are cornerstone concepts of the FIRE movement.
Youâre also forced to think about your income and your financial situation in a brand new way. This includes questions, like âHow much are you actually earning?â and âHow much interest are you paying toward debt every month?â
As a financial advisor, I can tell you for sure that a lot of people donât know the answer to any of these questions because theyâve never thought about it before. You wind up learning so much that can help you along the way toward your goal.
5. Learn How to Budget and Question Yourself
I remember back in the day when my wife and I first started getting serious about budgeting. Weâd sit down to look over our bills, and were shocked by some of our ongoing expenses and subscriptions.
These budgeting âmeetingsâ made a big difference in how we worked together to achieve our financial goals. When we sat down to look over our expenses, our income, and where we were headed, we found ways to spend less without affecting our quality of life.
Now, I hate budgeting, but I do think itâs an important part of pursuing FIRE â especially at first. After all, you canât really work toward major financial goals if you have no idea where your money is going every month.
And, the thing is, you canât really argue anything when you start budgeting and tracking your expenses. You get the chance to see where your money went, in black and white, and you get the opportunity to act accordingly. This may sound like a huge buzzkill, but Iâve found that taking control and budgeting is actually really empowering.
Crazily enough, not enough people have any idea how they spend the income they work so hard to earn. In fact, a recent survey from the budgeting app Mint found that 65% of respondents had no idea how much they spent last month.
When you ask someone pursuing FIRE how much they save each month, these people know. In fact, they often know their savings amount down to the penny.
6. FIRE Helps You Be Grateful
Finally, thereâs one more major benefit of FIRE that goes largely ignored. Iâm going to call it the âcontentment factorâ. Itâs the ability to be content with what you have.
Everything involved with FIRE â tracking your spending, cutting things you donât care about, creating long-term goals â can really put your life in perspective for you. It also makes you realize you might have more power over your life than you realized. Thatâs a pretty amazing lesson.
And of course, learning contentment leads to learning how to feel grateful. How amazing is it that, in this broken world we live in, you can earn a living, care for your family, and set aside something for the future? How amazing is it that you have the chance to work hard and retire early, and then spend decades doing whatever it is you love?
This brings me to a quote I love from Oprah:
âBe thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.â â
This is what I love about FIRE; it really encourages you to be grateful and teaches you to be content with what you have. After all, there is no way you could ever save 50% or even 30% of your income without these lessons.
Pursuing FIRE teaches you that you donât need the hottest pair of sneakers, and that you might not need that cable television package you pay for each month. It teaches you that a huge car payment isnât worth it, and that any âfriendâ who judges your car probably isnât a good one.
Learning about FIRE makes you ask yourself all of these questions, and sometimes, thatâs all it takes to realize how good you have it.
Garth Brooks once said that âyou arenât wealthy until you have something money canât buy.â
And perhaps thatâs the greatest benefit of pursuing FIRE. You learn that happiness and true contentment comes from within. And that, my friends, is priceless.
Related: What Is Financial Independence And How Do I Achieve It?
The post 6 Reasons to Try the FIRE Movement appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
Everyone whoâs ever had an emergency will tell you money is key to making good decisions. We make bad financial decisions when we’re broke and desperate. Thatâs why having an emergency fund is vital to starting any personal finance journey.…
The post Tips to Help You Fund (and Keep) Your Emergency Fund appeared first on Modern Frugality.
As busy moms, we need to cut the time, trim the cost, and lessen the mental load, and here are the mom life must haves to help you do it!
Ugh! You just crossed off two items on your to-do list (yaaa!), and then you immediately added four more on to it! #momlife Seriously, you feel like you’re bailing out a sinking battleship with a sippy cup, and there’s no end in sight. Or so it seems…
Every good General knows you need the right tools & resources to win the war, so it’s time to fill your arsenal with the best mom life must haves! These are the things that will help you triumph over errands, chores, and mealtime! All while helping you feel calmer and happier, settling your racing mind, giving you the space to do what’s most important!
Yes, snuggling your kiddos, kissing on your honey, or maybe hiding in the bathtub for 2.5 hours reading a good book and eating chocolate. Hey, self-care is in, right? So sit tight, and get ready to rock your to-do list!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info
How to be a better mom (by having the right support)
Whoa, that’s a loaded statement! I mean, “be a better mom” implies that you’re doing a bad job now, right? NO! We are all doing the best job we can in the life we have right now. No one wakes up and says, “I want to be mediocre today”! No, we want to do a great job every day. Yet, sometimes, at least for me, I fall short.
Some days I’m exhausted, have too much on my schedule, or run out of brown sugar, so no cookie baking today (true story, huge tears ensued from my 5-year-old). When these days happen more than I would like, I know that I need to sit down and recalibrate. Take stock of the common themes, look for overlapping reasons why the $hit keeps hitting the fan, and then figure out what I need to do to get back on track.
Usually, either I need a mini-vacation (sigh), or I need to check out my tools and see where I need more support and even some tools that I may have forgotten about. I call these my mom life must haves! I’ve rounded up my best tips, tools, and resources on the items that help me be a better mom!
When I say “better mom,” I mean…
less frazzled, more calm
less scatterbrained, more organized
less tired, more energized
less scroungy, more stylish
less last minute, more prepared
less mediocre, more badass!
Being a better mom can mean anything that you want it to mean! Don’t let my own definition put restrictions on your best version of you! You can use my ideas to be a jumping-off point, and then tailor them to your own personality and goals!
Take advantage of Amazon Prime Day for huge savings!
I know that spending money on ourselves is hard. I will convince myself that I don’t really need something, or that the money would be better spent on a new thingamajig for my little one. I don’t know why I feel guilty spending money on myself, I just do sometimes.
One thing that always helps me feel better about spending money on myself is if I get it at a good deal! I love saving money! (yes, I’d save a whole lot more if I didn’t buy “it” at all but sometimes we need something! Especially when that something makes our life better or easier! So that’s why I am super excited about Amazon Prime Day!
What is Amazon Prime Day?
It’s a two day event where Amazon offers up steep discounts on millions of products across all categories! People use this time to stock up for holiday gifting, or to splurge on normally expensive items. If you’re a Prime Member you get early access to some of their deals so if you have been thinking about getting a membership, then now is the time! Don’t forget to snag your free 30 day trial!
When is Prime Day this year?
It’s October 13th & 14th this year, but if you’re a Prime Member you’ll get early access!
I am so happy to say that Amazon will be supporting small businesses this year too (sounds counterintuitive but hear me out). Small Businesses can be a partner shop on their platform, and if you purchase starting now through October 12th, if you purchase $10 worth of items from a participating small business you will get $10 credit to use on Prime Day! Check out all the small business partners here!
Amazon Prime Day Deals
Now the following items aren’t a part of my own person list of mom life must haves, yet so many people swear by these. Starting today, Prime members can shop early offers and deals everyday leading up to Prime Day on October 13 & 14.
Get two Echo Dot devices for $39.98
Fire TV Recast for $129.99 to store up to 75 hours of HD programming.
Save up to $100 on Toshiba 43-inch Smart HD Fire TV Edition TV for $179.99.
Insignia 43-inch Smart 4K UHD Fire TV Edition TV for $199.99;
Save $40 on Echo Show 5
Amazon Music: For just $0.99, Prime members who haven’t yet tried Amazon Music Unlimited can get four months of the premium streaming tier with unlimited access to more than 60 million songs ad-free, and now a wide selection of popular podcasts.
Audible: Prime members can save $50 on a year of Audible Premium Plus. Audible members will also get access to the Plus catalog, featuring more than 10K Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts, all at no additional cost.
Kindle Unlimited: New customers to Kindle Unlimited save 50% off a 6-month subscription.
The main question with Prime Day Deals, is did you want this item before you heard about it on Prime Day? Or did you simply see it and think “ohhhh, shiny!” Remember, it’s only a deal, if you were going to buy it anyway!
Mom life must haves for the home
1. Family charging station
Hercules Tuff Charging Station
charges up to 80% faster!
charge six devices at once
includes 4 Lightning Cables, 1 Type-C Cable, and 1 Micro-USB cable perfectly sized to keep your space organized
This is honestly one of my favorite things, and I’m not usually a gadget person. If my phone isn’t in my hand, I always know where it is, the family charging station is the natural place to put it down, so it’s an easy habit to start. There’s no worrying about your hubby or kiddo walking off with your charging cables! Plus, it makes mealtimes more family-friendly.
We can sit down to a meal without having our phones on the table or in our pockets, where it’s so easy to start scrolling or get sidetracked by notifications!
Time Saved by less distractions and mindless scrolling!
2.A great handheld vacuum
Black & Decker Max Pivot Handheld Vacuum
Lithium battery for strong suction that never fades
4 stars with over 12,000 ratings!
I’m not a Roomba vacuum kind of person, even though the concept sounds great. I don’t trust them I don’t think they’ll do a great job, and I’ve heard the horror stories of them eating cords & carpets. So that means a handheld vacuum, which sounds lame as they don’t usually have a lot of power. Until I found this one, the Black & Decker Pivot! He’s lightweight and super fast to pull out of the pantry for a quick clean up!
Honestly, this vacuum is amazing! I got mine for Christmas 2015. Yes, 5 years ago, and I can still say it’s amazing! It has so much power to it; it vacuums up everything! I’ve only had the battery run out one time; it was when we were moving, and I cleaned the whole house for the entire day. So I don’t blame it
I hate to admit this, but I didn’t know that there was a removable filter that you had to take and shake out for the first two years. Yes, I emptied the chamber, but I didn’t know about the filter. I didn’t notice it, and it still worked great! Shhh… don’t tell anyone how dumb I was!
Besides, you cant lift a Roomba up and vacuum huge spiders off the ceiling like you can with this handheld vacuum! (Just this past week, it was two mornings in a row that I had to climb on the bathroom counter and get ’em!)
Both time & money saved, as it’s very convient for a quick clean and money saved as this is a quality vacuum, and I expect it to last a long time!
3. An Amazon prime membership
This sounds so silly, as everyone must have it by now, right? Nope, they don’t, but it’s such a lifesaver! Every one should find a way to fit this into their budget. It’s $119 a year for an annual subscription or $12.99 a month. But the main question busy mom’s ask is, “Is it worth it?”
“The actual value of Amazon Prime is estimated to be around $784 annually after all of its individual perks and benefits are considered, according to a recent analysis by JPMorgan”, says Business Insider. So the resounding answer is yes! Click here for your 30 day free trial to Prime.
You get free shipping, two-day shipping, movies, free ebooks, music, file storage, and more! Prime members also get extra discounts to Whole Foods and member-only deals.
Plus, there’s Prime Reload, which gives you 2% by linking up your debit card and reloading your “available shopping balance” from there! Saving money without the lure of a credit card is a great option!
Their Subscribe & Save program also offers great perks! You pick out which items you order all the time, like bar soap or diaper pail liners, and you signup to get them regularly delivered to your door; with this you can save up to 15% on these purchases! Amazon Prime Family also offers 20% off diapers and special baby registry benefits!
Don’t forget to look for available Prime Membership discounts:
Prime Discounted Monthly offering is just $5.99/month for qualifying customers with an EBT or Medicaid card
Prime Student has a 6-month trial and then $6.49 a month
Amazon also has their Signature Visa, where you get 3% back at Whole Foods, 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores. 1% back on utilities and all other purchases (see terms & conditions for current details).
Don’t forget you can get a 30-day free trial on all Amazon Prime!
Money saved! You will find great deals on Amazon, but you might need to spend some time digging through reviews and products.
4. Easy & fast dinners
Meal kits certainly aren’t new anymore, so the novelty has worn off. They’re not just for “fun” anymore, but they are a lifesaver! And there are so many different companies you can choose from, meal kits for any diet and lifestyle!
We like EveryPlate, as it’s one of the cheapest out there at $4.99 a serving! Meal kits save me so much time and brain angst (is that even a thing?). But you get me, I mean I would waste so much time trying to figure out what to make for dinners for the week. Then I have to go buy it all, and the prep it. Ugh! My brain hurts just thinking about it!
With EveryPlate, it takes me 12 minutes every month to go into their dashboard and pick my meals. That’s it. The recipes are easy to make, tasty, and I feel good about not serving up a frozen pizza or take out every night.
We have also started trying Dinnerly too. I’m not into blindly following brands, I like to be sure that I am getting the best deal for the best value out there! So of course I am going to try the competition! Dinnerly and Everyplate are similar in cost, program, and quality.
YET, Dinnerly just started offering extra protein portions (in case you want to make a little more). AND, they just started offering desserts too! This next week I signed up to get a caramel apple spice cake and the following week pumpkin pie cheesecake bars! (fall flavored treats are my weakness). Click the here to start making meal time easy (finally!) and treating your family!
Don’t get me wrong, meal kits have their drawbacks, sometimes the cucumber arrives soft, or it’s not enough for my hubs, but overall it’s a great option, and it totally works for us!
We also use our trusty old slow cooker! It’s still great for making a good amount of food that we can use as quick leftover meals throughout the week. Things like chicken fajitas, or three-bean chili, or mac & cheese are great options.
This slow cooker is great as it’s programable for temp & time. Then when it’s done cooking, it switches to warm mode, so you don’t overcook your dinner! It also comes with a temperature probe, so if you’re cooking meats you can be doubly sure it’s fully cooked!
On my wish list is this Instant Pot; I mean, it has 4 1/2 stars with over 100,000 reviews! That’s crazy, right! Besides, any gadget that says it’s perfect for beginners is for me!
Time & money saved! But more so, my sanity as I hated trying to decide what to make for dinner!
Mom life must haves for our kids
So we wouldn’t be busy moms if it wasn’t for our kiddos, right? These things are ones that I love, and have made this crazy journey a lot easier!
5.Honest Company products
So this sounds corny, but I honestly love Honest Products! Actress Jessica Alba started the brand. Honest’s bio page says, “When she couldn’t find one brand to trust for all her everyday needs, she had to create it. And she knew that there had to be others out there looking for safe products, simple solutions, and clear information about their choices, just like her.”
Did I ever tell you that I am a natural skeptic? When someone says their product is safe and uses only the best ingredients, I look to the experts to tell the truth. I use the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep app on my phone all the time for this! I scan the barcode of an item, and it tells me if it’s considered safe by their 3rd party unbiased testing. EWG isa “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.” Their app doesn’t have every product in its database, but they have a lot (mostly in the beauty and cleaning area).
When I am standing in Target and looking for something for my kiddo, I scan all the brands to find the one that is the least toxic, and then I go to Amazon to check out the reviews on that item. If people love it, then I buy it!
I just used it this past month, we stayed at my mom’s house for a few days, and my daughter used their bubble bath; she loved all the bubbles. But a few days later, she broke out in a rash, sure enough, I found it was rated an 8 (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst). Whoops!
So I went to target and scanned a few and settled on The Honest Company’s lavender bubble bath, and it was rated a 1! I bought it, and it worked great (as much as a bubble bath works), the bubbles lasted forever, smelled great, and she loved every second of it! (oh and no rash!)
The Honest Company Truly Calming Lavender Shampoo & Body Wash
The Honest Company Truly Calming Conditioner
The Honest Company Truly Calming Bubble Bath
I feel great about these products as I know they’re safe (peace of mind is priceless), work great, and don’t cost a fortune!
Mental space & time saved! As I don’t wonder anymore (or feel guilty) about knowing that the products I use on her are safe!
6.The best safety in the industry
Along the same vein of keeping our kiddos safe, I researched a lot of items when I was pregnant, and one of the most researched items is a car seat! I finally chose the Britax B-Safe 35 (funny story here), and then when she got older, the Britax Boulevard ClickTight convertible car seat.
I honestly spent way too much time agonizing over the car seat choices. I wanted the best for her without spending a fortune. Yes, Britax is a teeny tiny bit expensive, but a car seat is so important, as a bad car seat can have horrible repercussions!
Anyway, funny story, so I was agonizing over which to choose for weeks. One day, as I watched TV, a clip about Prince William & Kate came on, as they just had their first baby. The TV shot was of them standing at the top of some stairs, walking down and outside to their car. Prince William was holding the car seat, and I recognized the colors (black & red) of the car seat.
I paused it, screenshot it, and zoomed in; sure enough, it was a Britax B-Safe! Within two minutes, I was on Amazon and ordered it! If this was the brand & model that the Royal Family trusted, then this was the one for me! Problem solved, no more worries!
All of their models’ rates very high for safety, their quality is great, and they are easy to use!
Peace of mind! Knowing that I have done everything I can to protect my daughter, while in the car, is important to me!
7. Car Snacks
A busy mom’s best friend is without a doubt her car snacks! Car snacks for the kiddo and absolutely car snacks for us!
Car snacks keep everyone happy, and they keep you out of the drive-through! Oh, and did I mention that when your kiddos are eating the snacks they’re not asking you 459 questions!
I have two go-to’s for this.
Emerald nut mix, variety pack 100 calories packs. Right now, it’s $9.44 for the box of 18 small individual packs. That’s $.52 a pack.
Nature’s Bakery Whole Grain Fig Bar – these are the best, as they don’t harden into rocks when your car has been sitting out in the freezing cold. They don’t melt in the summer, and they don’t crumble and get a mess everywhere! Plus, they’re tasty and not total garbage nutritionally speaking!
Time & money saved, as you’re not stopping for fast food! More importantly, I can say that the magic of car snacks has saved my own personal sanity!
Mom life must haves for ourselves
8.An organized life
If I had to get married again (and not to my husband), I would marry Trello! Seriously, I feel that strongly about this app! If you’re not familiar with Trello, it’s basically a place where you can put your entire life & brain to help keep you organized!
Picture this; it’s like a giant whiteboard with lists and sticky notes, links, files, and images. It’s sharable so you can work with people on projects too! It gives you the big picture and zero’s in on the tiny details. It’s for desktop and mobile, and it’s free! Yup, FREE!
If you have a daily planner or 489 sticky notes, then you have to check out Trello!
If you absolutely love your pen & paper style organizing, then check out my Brain Dump printables! It’s for when you’ve got way too much swirling around in your brain. You lay it all out in formatted sections, and it helps you plan, prioritize & delegate your to-do list!
Time & sanity saved! I don’t forget things nearly as much (but I’m not perfect).
9.A delicious nutritional home run
Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass Fed Clean Whey Protein
vanilla or chocolate flavor
24 grams of protein
no added hormones, sugars, or rbst free, and gluten free
As busy mom’s we’re run ragged sometimes. So much to do, and it’s easy to forget about taking care of ourselves. Or we push it to the back burner, always meaning to get to it later, but never actually doing it.
We know we feel better when we take care of ourselves, yet it’s hard to prioritize yourself over your to-do list (at least I do). So make a promise to yourself to start taking better care of you! For me, that looks like having a healthy smoothie! For you, it could look totally different, and that’s fine!
My favorite protein powder is Garden of Life Whey Protein Powder, I don’t need anything crazy with 78 grams of protein, I just need something to feed my body, without a ton of crazy chemicals. (Yes, I do realize that protein powders are processed, but this is a very well respected brand, and it was recommended to me by super knowledgeable staff at a natural grocery store.)
“We start with what goes IN our products—true, whole food ingredients. But we don’t stop there. We also pay very close attention to what we keep OUT of them. And once again, we look at food—real nutrition food. When is the last time you picked up an apple, turned to read the ingredients, and saw a list of chemicals? If it’s not in your food, then we don’t want it in our supplements. We use third-party (never self-affirmed) certifications to prove we are clean!” (source).
My base recipe…
1 scoop of protein powder
1 frozen banana
1/2 can full-fat coconut milk
2 Tbs chia seeds
1/3 can pumpkin puree with 1 tsp of pumpkin pie seasoning
a handful of frozen mixed berries with 1 tsp of vanilla
These smoothies are a part of 21 Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide, which I did last year! I felt so good about focusing on my health and I plan to do the program again (as life happens, right).
For those of you a little wary of the can of coconut milk, I want you to try it at least once. It’s delicious, and it fills me up all day long! Yes, it has a lot of fat in it, but so many vitamins and nutrients. I’m not a food or weight loss blogger, so I won’t try and convince you of the scientific health benefits.
It’s delicious (truly, I’m not exaggerating), and it makes me feel great, and it’s healthy! That’s good enough for me. Besides, when I make it in my Vitamix, cleaning up is super easy! I just give it a quick rinse in the sink, pour some dish soap in it, fill it with hot water, put it back on the base, and turn it on for 40 seconds! No taking apart pieces and scrubbing it! (of course, if I use dairy, then I do put it through the dishwasher)
Time saved! Smoothies are quick and easy, plus I feel good knowing that I am taking care of myself so that I can have the energy to take care of my daughter and answer her 45,871 questions!
10.Chug Chug Glug
That’s code for drink more water! We all know this; it’s been drummed into our head with 1000 hammers. Yet, it’s still true; we all need to drink more water!
I love my Hydro Flask! It keeps my water cold for FO-EV-ER! It never sweats, I have dropped it a billion times, and it only has one dent (haha). I love the lid with the loop, as I can hang it from my mommy hook on my little one’s stroller. (Mommy hooks are great too, you can hang anything with it!)
My current one I’ve had for two years, and the only reason I needed a new one is I lost my older one, which was at least three years old (my Amazon order history only goes back so many years, I guess). So that ‘a good sign; they last forever! Well worth the price! Plus, they come in super cute colors!
Oh, and did I mention Hydro Flask makes a wine tumbler too! Ha! This might absolutely help me be a better mom!
Money saved, as this water bottle lasts forever! Probably money saved too, as I eat less snacks and less at meal time as I’m well hydrated.
11.A simple cute & comfy style
This is a hard one, as I’m a little bit ashamed of my path to this product. I got to a point where I was getting a bit scroungy; you know sloppy. My sweatpants were old, and the t-shirts were stained. Sexy huh!?!
It was time for a mini mommy wardrobe makeover! I have been reading a lot about minimalism and especially capsule wardrobes, and am in love with the nice, basic simplicity of it! It appeals to me on all levels! Find pieces that fit & flatter, that all go together and stick to it!
So I went through, purged my closet (I got rid of 75% of my clothes), and focused on an inexpensive capsule wardrobe! The base of the collection is these amazing IUGA high waist yoga pants! I got a pair in black, and I love them! With 4 1/2 stars with over 25,000 reviews, they have to be amazing, right? They are! An absolute staple for this mom life must have list!
And they don’t cost a fortune either! Just $25 for this pair! I did buy some nice yoga pants at Target before finding these, but they didn’t come in black). These IUGA pants…
come in 26 colors
inside waistband pocket for keys
hip pocket for phone
aren’t see through (whew!)
30 day money back love it guarantee
Time & sanity saved! As I don’t stare blankly at my closet for 12 minutes every am, wondering what to wear, of if it will look okay! It’s a quick scan the closet, grab the pants and it’s go time!
12.Survival in a can
If I didn’t mention my absolute favorite must have for moms, I would be doing you a disservice. I would also be hiding the real me. I don’t want to do that, as that’s lame. So my favorite mom life must have is canned wine.
Let me explain. I love canned wine. I really do. I like wine, but I don’t like opening a whole bottle of it. If I drank a whole bottle, that’s bad news. Yes, I could put a stopper in a bottle and save it. But my favorite one is The Bubbles, a sparkling white wine (kind of like a Pinot Gris). So if I used a stopper, the bubbles wouldn’t be as amazing a few days later.
A can size is perfect, usually consumed over two nights. And then I don’t have to worry about it going bad, or feeling like I need to drink more than I should, just because I don’t want to “waste” a bottle.
Besides, canned wine is coming up in quality and popularity! It’s not like those jugs you see at discount grocery stores for $4.99. Trust me; it’s delicious!
The Bubbles is my favorite, and you can get it from Whole Foods through Amazon Prime delivery! Plus, add a snack tray and a heavenly chocolate bar from WF, and you’re set! This is my perfect meal for a relaxing evening on my own!
I wish that I could say that this saved me time or money. But this is just something that makes me happy!
At the end of the day
As busy moms, we have our hands full, not to mention our brains! We need all the help we can get, and I am not too proud to accept help from great tools and resources! These mom life must haves help me be a better mom by taking away the unnecessary, automating what can be, and making me feel better in my skin, my mind, and in my heart!
Posts related to mom life must haves:
The Secret Formula for Getting the Best Gift for Mom
Want to be a Stay at Home Mom? Read This First!
Mamas Talk Money Goals!
What’s your mom life must have item? Let me know in the comments below!
The post Game Changing Mom Life Must Haves! appeared first on Money for the Mamas.
The time off work spent with a newborn is one of the most memorable times in a parentâs life. Like any other major life event, financial planning is crucial to make the experience as stress-free as possible. Saving for maternity leave takes strategic financial preparation, especially in the United States where there isnât a mandate on paid leave for new parents. Although women are still outnumbering men when it comes to taking parental leave, paternity leave is also on the rise.
Saving for maternity leave (or paternity leave) doesnât have to be a grueling process as long as you plan ahead. Rather than stressing about finding additional sources of income, itâs helpful to start by finding areas where you can save. With so many unpredictable factors affecting our daily lives, it helps to get as detailed as possible with your plan.
Below, weâve outlined some of the best ways to stay on track financially while saving for maternity leave.
10 Tips for Saving for Maternity Leave
Check In With HR
As soon as you plan to notify your workplace of your pregnancy, stop by your HR department to clarify parental leave policies. These policies include health insurance, using vacation and paid time off as part of your leave, collecting partial payment for maternity leave, and claiming short-term disability.
Your HR department might also help you maximize a flexible spending account (FSA), which will allow you to devote more pre-tax dollars to upcoming medical and child care expenses. Confirm what your insurance policy covers in regards to the duration of hospital stays, prescription drugs, medical materials, and how long the baby will be covered under your policy after birth. After clarifying the details with HR, youâll want to discuss your upcoming maternity or paternity leave with your supervisor and coworkers too.
Take Charge of Your Spending
If you donât actively stick to and monitor your budget, now is the time to start. For at least 30 days, track everything you and other family members spend to get a clear idea of where your money goes each month. Pick a time for a biweekly family financial meeting to maintain your progress.
Successful saving is about defining a realistic plan of action with all parties who spend and generate income in your household. Saving for maternity leave is all about determining what your income and expenses will look like when youâre out of work and caring for baby, at least to the extent that you can reasonably project them.
Crunch the Numbers to Maximize Your Budget
Too many families saving for maternity leave rely heavily on estimates rather than doing the math to figure out specifics. Be sure to project your monthly income during maternity leave.
Factor in payouts you will receive for any partially paid maternity leave by your employer, unused vacation days, and any other extra income you plan on generating by freelancing or working part-time. Then, subtract your maternity leave income from your expenses. If itâs negative, then that figure is the absolute minimum youâll need to save for each month you wonât be working when the baby arrives.
When you make the time to specifically predict your budget, you eliminate the confusion and stress that comes with unforeseen expenses. Don’t forget to also account for spending changes that happen after the baby arrives. Baby supplies and gear can get expensive quite fast. Plus, you might find yourself spending more on takeout and outsourcing cleaning or errands as youâll have less time on your hands with a demanding newborn.
Automate Your Savings
When it comes to automating your savings, the concept is simple: If you never see the money, you wonât be tempted to spend it. Establish an automatic savings plan through your bank that will automatically transfer money from checking into savings.
Another option is contacting your employer to have a portion of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings account each payday. Using a budgeting app that allows you to see how much youâre stashing away in real-time also helps.
Make Couponing a Family Activity
Savings can really add up by recognizing opportunities to capture low hanging fruit opportunities like couponing. There are a ton of free online couponing sites, but donât miss out on old fashioned couponing and start a binder or folder as well. Be sure you donât negate your hard work couponing by splurging.
Try to reduce all non-essential expenses in your budget and dedicate that money to your savings account instead. If you get a tax return or bonus, skip buying the fancy crib and put it right into savings. By connecting with family members, friends, and neighbors you can take advantage of gently used baby items to save cash. Also, it canât hurt to see if there is a second-hand store in your area specifically for baby clothes and supplies, like Once Upon a Child.
Get a Credit Card That Helps You Save
Although itâs important to be wise with your credit card usage, your credit card spending can help you with your budgeting goals. Depending on your stage of life, certain credit card choices might make more sense than others.
As a reminder, no matter which card you use, always use the same best practices to increase your credit score. For example, make an effort to keep your utilization low and always pay your bill on time. After all, making payments late can have the biggest negative impact on your credit score.
Choose a Bank that Helps Your Financial Goals
Stick to accounts that are free of balance requirements and fees, and compare rates at local banks and credit unions. Remember, smaller financial institutions sometimes offer more competitive rates than major banks, so donât be afraid to do some shopping around.
If youâre comfortable banking online only, some online banks offer very competitive rates. For example, a high yield savings account will help your money work for you as youâre saving for maternity leave.
Take Advantage of Family-Specific Discounts and Tax Credits
With a little research, youâll likely find a wide array of discount programs and free resources for expectant parents. Donât forget to take advantage of tax credits, too.
For example, you may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit for the year your baby was born (depending on the time of birth), deduct qualifying child care expenses, and contributions to a College 529 savings plan. All of these will reduce your taxable income, leaving more money in your pocket.
Plan to Keep Your Professional Skills Sharp
There are certain realities about taking extended time off from work for parental leave that are inevitable. The time away from your job could cause you to feel out of the loop or more stressed when you return.
Taking some time during your parental leave to maintain key skills or read up on company/industry news could help you maintain job security (and therefore financial security) when you get back to work.
Avoid the Baby Registry Trap
Baby registries are big business and can be big budget busters. Only register for the items that truly need to be brand new and reach out to friends, family, and consignment stores for gently used items before you splurge on a registry.
From financial coverage for maternity leave to childcare costs, increased medical expenses, and college savings accounts, thereâs bound to be a lot on your mind. Fortunately, youâre not on this parenting journey alone. There are plenty of families making it work with lean budgets who are stressing less by following tips like the ones weâve compiled in this graphic below:
budget that works for you.
Make a game plan and take advantage of resources as youâre prepping for parental leave. Keeping your finances in check while spending time away from work undoubtedly provides a sense of reassurance. Take control of your budgeting goals and get creative with new ways to generate income and save money.
Sources: National Partnership | US Census | CBS
The post Saving for Maternity Leave: How to Financially Prepare Your Family appeared first on MintLife Blog.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., it sent shock waves throughout the economy and peopleâs pocketbooks.
Millions have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts, causing families to make hard financial decisions. For those with emergency cash saved up, it has become an important lifeline. But itâs not always obvious how and when to spend your emergency fund. So if youâre wondering, âHow should I manage my emergency fund during a recession?ââyouâre not alone.
âSometimes [emergencies] can be foreseen, but most often they come out of the blue,â says Jim Wang, founder of personal finance blog Best Wallet Hacks. âItâs okay to use [your emergency fund]âthatâs what itâs there for.â
This economic crisis came out of the blue for many families. A May 2020 AP-NORC poll1 found that 49% of Americans say they or someone in their household has lost wages either through being laid-off, having a wage or salary reduction, working fewer hours or having unpaid time off.
In response, the U.S. government acted quickly to introduce financial relief, sending stimulus checks to taxpayers and providing qualifying businesses with loans to help them meet payroll. And in a sweeping change to a law called Regulation D, the Federal Reserve Board suspended enforcement of the monthly limit for certain types of withdrawals or transfers from savings deposits. Financial institutions may opt to suspend the six-transfer limit, but are not required to do so.
All of these factors are impacting considerations around emergency funds and may have you questioning how to use your emergency fund. To help steer you through whatever uncertainty you might be facing, Wang offers insight into when to use your emergency fund, how to manage your emergency fund when times are tough, how the Regulation D change may affect you and tips on how to build (or rebuild) your emergency fund.
To spend, or not: When to use your emergency fund
Commonly known as a last-resort reserve, an emergency fund is supposed to be there for you when youâre in a jam.
This can mean large, unexpected expenses, like when your fridge springs a leak, your stove is on the fritz or you need emergency dental work. But expenses come in all shapes, sizes and moments of your life. So how can you tell when to spend your emergency fundâespecially during a recession?
Simply put, if you think your short-term checking account isnât going to cover any essential bills or expenses, such as housing, utilities and food, then you should use your emergency fund. Products and services that arenât essential, such as TV streaming services or magazine subscriptions, fall into the âwantâ category. They should not be paid for with emergency funds.
âYou really want to make sure you keep your emergency fund for emergencies that must be addressed right now,â Wang says.
In fact, as you consider when to spend your emergency fund, you should be actively removing costly nice-to-haves from your life. Not sure what expenses to cut? Sort through your monthly statements and highlight anything that isnât absolutely required. âWhile it may be hard to cut some subscriptions, just tell yourself that itâs only temporary and you can sign back up at a later time,â Wang says.
As you decide how to use your emergency fund, Wang advises against dipping into the fund for minor or non-essential expenses with the expectation to rebuild after another paycheckâespecially during times of financial hardship or in the middle of a recession.
Make the Regulation D change work for you
In April 2020, the Federal Reserve Board suspended enforcement of the monthly six-transfer limit in Regulation D. While not a requirement, the interim rule gives financial institutions the option to waive the monthly limit. This could allow consumers more flexibility with the savings accounts containing their emergency funds. This was the first change to Regulation D transaction limits since 2009, during the financial crisis.
âYou really want to make sure you keep your emergency fund for emergencies that must be addressed right now.â
If youâve ever transferred or withdrawn money from savings or money market accounts and received a warning that youâve hit your transaction limit, youâre probably more familiar with Regulation D than you think.
âI ran into this myself a year ago,â Wang says. âIt happened to be my seventh transaction and I received a warning from my bank.â
Prior to the change, certain types of withdrawals and transfers from savings and money market accounts were limited to a total of six times per calendar month per account.
With the limit temporarily suspended, consumers may now be allowed an âunlimited number of convenient transfers and withdrawals from their savings deposits at a time when financial events associated with the coronavirus pandemic have made such access more urgent,â according to the Federal Reserve Board.
If youâre considering when to use your emergency fund, this is great news if you keep your fund in a savings or money market account. If the monthly limit has been suspended by your financial institution, you may have the flexibility to use your emergency fund to ease financial stress and cover unexpected, high-priority expenses without having to worry about the fees or account closures that can sometimes come with an excessive number of withdrawals.
To decide how best to use your emergency fund, be sure to check with your financial institution to confirm whether the monthly transaction limit on your savings or money market account has been suspended.
To provide easier access to funds during the crisis, Discover is not currently enforcing the monthly transaction limit on the number of certain types of withdrawals and transfers out of a Discover Online Savings Account or a Discover Money Market Account. You can rest assured knowing that your account wonât be at risk of closure due to excessive limited transfers out of your account.
Keep in mind that there is no set timeframe on if (or when) the transaction limit may be enforced again.
Keep saving during a recession if you can
When dealing with a financial emergency, itâs only natural to wonder if you should pull from investments, retirement funds or savings accounts not designated for emergencies.
But while it might be tempting to dip into investments and cash out, itâs important to focus on the long term as you decide when to use your emergency fund. After all, you alone canât keep the market from going up, down or sideways, but you can keep your investments on an upward trajectory. âThink about your investment as a time capsule,â Wang says. âYou can put stuff in, but you can’t take anything out.â
Opting to use your emergency fund instead of dipping into other high-priority, often long-term savings or investment vehicles will allow the accounts to grow over time without disruption.
âI have a rollover IRA that I won’t access until I’m in my 60sâthat’s over 20 years away,â Wang says. âIf I look back 20 years, we’ve had the dot-com bubble bursting, the financial crisis and the Great Recession, and we’re currently going through the coronavirus pandemic, but [my] IRA is still up because of the massive bull market between the Great Recession and this year. It’s best to leave it be because trying to time everything is going to be a lot of stress you don’t need at a time when you’re already dealing with other stresses.â
Recession-proof your budget
As you determine when to spend your emergency fund and how, youâll also want to rework your budget to reflect your new normalâespecially if youâve experienced a change in your income. To extend the life of your emergency fund and determine how to use your emergency fund more effectively, seek money-saving alternatives or work to earn short-term, supplementary income.
In addition to cutting back on expenses, try to find ways to save money in your daily life. Maybe you can cook at home instead of ordering delivery, or you can finally tame your online impulse buying. If your financial situation gets more severe, you can also seek out community resources, like a local food pantry, to offset essential expenses that may be difficult to cover at the moment.
If youâre employed and have some extra time to spare, a side hustle can turn things you already do, whether at home or at work, into extra money. This option is a great way to supplement your current income and keep up with minor expenses without having to spend your emergency fund or dip into your savings accounts.
âAfter youâve cut your expenses, you can look for ways to earn a little extra income, which may take the form of odd jobs, like walking dogs or delivering food,â Wang says. âYou can also try to find jobs that are strictly online, like transcription or becoming a virtual assistant. If youâre willing to do a little extra digging, there are plenty of opportunities.â
Rebuild your emergency fund
After youâve determined when to spend your emergency fund, youâll likely be motivated to get it back to the state it was in before the emergency. The approach to replenishing lost funds is no different than building your funds, Wang says, and it starts by establishing a financial plan that helps you reach your goal in a sustainable time period.
âExperts say you should aim to get six to 12 months of expenses into an emergency fund, but you canât be expected to get that [amount] within a month,â says Wang.
âThink about your investment as a time capsule. You can put stuff in, but you can’t take anything out.â
If your budget has $100 of surplus each month after youâve cut back on expenses, found money-saving alternatives or explored a side hustle, you can save your first $1,000 in 10 months. During that same time frame, if you can, try to find ways to cut expenses further so that you can reach that amount sooner or put your money-saving alternatives or extra income to use.
Start an emergency fund from zero
Forty-one percent of U.S. adults report that they would tap into their savings to cover an unexpected $1,000 expenseâand the higher the household income is, the more likely they are to use savings to pay for unanticipated costs, according to a January 2020 Bankrate survey.
While the task may seem daunting, especially during rough times, you should consider building your emergency fund now.
Start with a goal that makes sense for your financial situation and donât force yourself into saving up your entire emergency fund amount immediately, Wang advises. âIt comes down to treating it like a savings goal and building a surplus into your budget so you can put it in an emergency fund.â
If you donât have a surplus, make one. Do you have a winter coat you havenât worn in years or an old computer, coffee machine or television that still works but you donât use? Sell them and reap the rewards of extra cash and a roomier closet.
Your emergency fund: There when you need it
Ultimately, an emergency fund offers an important financial cushion. Not only does it help cover unexpected expenses, it can also keep you afloat during rocky times. No matter the situation, if youâve found yourself in a financial position where you need to act now, then now may be the right time to spend your emergency fund.
Now that you know how to use your emergency fund during a recession, you may want to master some more recession-proof strategies. Keep reading to find out how parents can learn how to protect their retirement savings from a recession.
1 The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. May 2020. Economic Attitudes as the Country Starts to Reopen. https://apnorc.org/projects/economic-attitudes-as-the-country-starts-to-reopen/
The post Deciding When to Use Your Emergency Fund: Is Now the Right Time? appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
You can do plenty of things to improve your budget, and it's not all about pain and suffering, as many would have you believe. Everyone has a few things they overspend on. The challenge lies in identifying those particular items and weeding them out. A good place to begin is with restaurant spending, grocery bills, and impulse buying. A wise general philosophy is to assign a destination for every dollar you earn and place that category on your budget. Try cutting restaurant expenditures in half, reducing impulse buys at convenience stores, and shopping for groceries just once each week to regulate what goes toward food items.
Refinance your education debt
If you have any education debt still hanging around after all these years, refinancing student loans through a private lender is a way to lessen your monthly expenses. Not only can you get a longer repayment period, but have the chance to snag a favorable interest rate. But the clincher for money-saving enthusiasts is that your monthly payments can instantly go way down. That means extra cash for whatever you want. Use the excess to fatten savings or IRA accounts, or pay off high-interest credit card debt.
Install a programmable thermostat
For less than $20, it's possible to chop at least three percent off your utility bills and perhaps much more than that.
Programmable thermostats are easy to install. You don't need special tools or advanced skills. Be sensible about summer and winter settings and you'll see a difference in your electric bill almost immediately, especially during the hottest months of the year. Don't forget to program the device to go into low-use mode while you're away for long weekends or longer vacations.
Join a shopping club
Although shopping clubs come with annual membership fees, the savings on groceries, household items, and gasoline usually offset them within a month or two of actively using the membership. That leaves the other months of the year for you to save money on household necessities.
For people who drive a lot, shopping clubs with on-site gas stations offer one of the best deals going. Not only do the clubs offer gasoline for about 10 cents off the regular price, but some also offer free car washes and coupons for repair work at participating shops. Although shopping clubs are a win for most anyone, a family of three or more can log thousands per year in savings.
Refinance your home or car
If you have owned your home or car long enough to ride the interest rate waves, you likely qualify for a refinancing agreement. This strategy is excellent for consumers who have better credit now than when they made the original purchase.
Young couples are perfectly positioned to refinance a home after several years of making payments on it. Likewise, anyone who still owes on a vehicle and can get a lower interest rate should look into a car or truck refi. Not only can you get additional months to pay off the obligation, but with a lower rate, you stand to save a nice chunk of money.
Take bagged lunches to work
One of the oldest, more reliable ways to instantly cut personal expenses is to prepare and take your own lunch to work each day. Not only do you save money by not eating out or buying lunch in the company cafeteria, but you also have added control over what you eat. That means you're doing a favor for your wallet and your health at the same time.
Don't fall into the rut of eating at your desk. Consider taking your bagged meal outside and enjoying the scenery, taking a walk after eating, or joining friends in the cafeteria to socialize.
Use public transportation as often as possible
If you live on or near a bus or light-rail route, do the logistical planning necessary to travel to work at least a few times each week by public transit instead of by car.
Unless you reside in a small town, chances are you have access to buses and trains for commuting purposes. Once you get into a habit of using the public transit system, consider buying a one-month or annual pass, which can represent a major discount on one-time fare prices. Public transportation can take a bit longer to get you to your destination, but it's easy enough to make use of the time reading, catching up on work, or just relaxing.
Use credit cards wisely
If you use credit cards to make purchases you can't afford, you're headed for trouble. But if you use your plastic wisely, you can reap real benefits.
If you have a good credit rating, you'll likely qualify for cashback cards that give a percentage of your money back on some or all of your purchases. You can use that cash to pay for a portion of your monthly credit card bill. You could also let your cashback savings accumulate and use it to pay for larger purchases in the future.
Just make sure not to outspend your monthly budget so you're able to pay your credit card balance off in full each month. Keeping a balance on your cards is counterproductive because you'll also be paying interest fees.