5 Tips Every Renter and Homeowner Should Know About Insurance

This week, I had to evacuate because of Hurricane Dorian. If you’ve ever experienced a natural disaster or had to evacuate your home, you know that insurance is a top concern. No matter where you live, there are common threats—such as California earthquakes, Oklahoma tornados, and Texas floods—that affect renters and homeowners.

Let's review five essential insurance tips that every renter and homeowner should know. You’ll learn the variety of protections you get from basic renters and home policies, mistakes to avoid when buying a policy, and ways to save money on premiums.

5 Tips Every Renter or Homeowner Should Know About Insurance

  1. Not every type of damage is covered
  2. Certain belongings have low coverage limits
  3. Know the difference between cash value and replacement cost
  4. There are special types of deductibles
  5. Don’t leave discounts on the table

Here’s more information about each insurance tip.

1. Not every kind of damage is covered

A basic homeowners policy pays for claims when a natural disaster—such as a fire, tornado, hail, or windstorm—damages your property. Personal belongings like your furniture, electronics, and clothing are generally covered up to specific limits for damage and theft.

Home insurance includes liability, which protects you from legal issues that could arise if someone is hurt on your property.

Homeowners coverage also pays "additional living expenses." That might include things like some amount of hotel and meal expenses if you can't stay in your home after a covered disaster.

If you’re a renter, you also need insurance, because your landlord is not required to cover you. Renters insurance gives the same protections as a homeowners policy. You get coverage for your personal belongings, liability, and additional living expenses. But it doesn’t cover damage to rental property because that’s your landlord’s responsibility.

Unfortunately, about half of renters don’t have renters insurance. Many mistakenly believe that their landlord would pay to repair or replace their damaged or stolen personal belongings. Or they mistakenly think a renters policy is too expensive. The good news is that a typical renters policy is quite affordable, costing just $185 per year on average across the U.S.

The good news is that a typical renters policy is quite affordable, costing just $185 per year on average across the US.

But what surprises many people is that a standard home or renters policy doesn't cover some natural disasters. These include earthquakes and flooding from groundwater.

If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you can typically add earthquake coverage to a home or renters policy. But flooding is a different category of insurance that must be purchased separately. Flooding is handled differently than other types of disasters because it’s the nation’s most common and expensive disaster. Floods can happen anywhere, and they don’t even have to be catastrophic to cause significant damage.

If your town or community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can buy a policy for your rental or your home. And if you buy a home in a designated flood zone, mortgage lenders typically require you to have flood insurance.

Most flood policies have a 30-day waiting period, so you can’t wait until a storm is bearing down on you to sign up. You'd be too late.

Even though the federal government backs flood insurance, it’s brokered by regular insurance companies or agents. You can learn more at floodsmart.gov.

Most flood policies have a 30-day waiting period, so you can’t wait until a storm is bearing down on you to sign up.

Remember that water damage from rain, high winds, or a tree that fell on your roof are covered by a standard home or renters insurance policy. But damages to your home or personal belongings that occur due to rising groundwater are never covered, except when you have flood insurance.

Also note that if you have a home-based business with inventory, specialized equipment, or customers who enter your property, you typically need a commercial policy. Likewise, if you turn your home into a rental, Airbnb, or a vacation property, you generally need additional coverage or a landlord insurance policy.

2. Certain belongings have low coverage limits

Just like not every disaster is covered, not every type of personal belonging is fully covered under a home or renters policy. Some belongings, such as cash, aren’t coved at all. Many others have coverage caps.

For instance, jewelry, watches, furs, silverware, electronics, and firearms are typically limited to one or two thousand dollars of coverage. If you have jewelry that’s worth $10,000 and it’s lost or stolen, you’d come up very short with just $2,000 of coverage.

If you have items worth more than the coverage caps, you can add an insurance rider for more coverage. This addition is known as “scheduling” your personal property. It costs more, but it gives your most expensive items separate coverage so they could be replaced.

Another often-overlooked protection you get with renters and home insurance is that your belongings are covered outside of your home.

Another often-overlooked protection you get with renters and home insurance is that your belongings are covered outside of your home. If your vacation luggage gets stolen, you lose valuable jewelry, or your laptop gets stolen from your car, your homeowners or renters policy covers it.

So, pay close attention to the insurance limits for possessions inside and outside of your home and consider adding a rider or property schedule to beef up coverage when needed for valuable items.

3. Know the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost.

It can be a little confusing to know exactly how much money you’d receive from a renters or home insurance claim. So be sure you understand the different types of policies you can buy.

Actual cash value coverage pays to repair or replace your property or possessions up to the policy limits, minus a deduction for depreciation. The calculation can vary from insurer to insurer. But what you need to know is that a cash value policy only pays a percentage of what it would cost you to go out and buy a new item.

Cash value coverage is the least expensive option. However, it means that if you experience a severe disaster, you probably won't receive enough to rebuild your home or fully replace personal belongings.

Replacement cost coverage pays to repair or replace your property and possessions up to the policy limits, without a deduction for depreciation. That means you would receive enough money to rebuild a home with materials of similar quality. Or buy new items to replace your damaged belongings.

Yes, replacement coverage costs more than cash value. But it would allow you to replace what you lost.

There are also guaranteed or extended replacement cost policies which give you even more protection. They pay to replace your home as it was before a disaster, even if costs more than your policy limit.

Remember that a home insurance policy is based on the cost to rebuild your home and any outbuildings, not the amount you paid for the property or its appraised value.

Remember that a home insurance policy is based on the cost to rebuild your home and any outbuildings, not the amount you paid for the property or its appraised value. You never include the value of your land in your home insurance. Depending on the age, location, and style of your home, the insured value could be much higher or lower than its market value.

4. There are special types of deductibles.

A deductible is an amount you’re responsible for paying for an insured loss. The higher your deductible, the more you can save on premiums. So be sure to get quotes for different deductible amounts when shopping for renters and home insurance.

As I previously mentioned, disasters such as windstorms, hailstorms, and hurricanes, are typically covered by standard renters and home insurance. However, in some high-risk areas, you may have separate deductibles for damage caused by these disasters.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, nineteen states and the District of Columbia have hurricane deductibles: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington D.C.

These special deductibles are additional and separate from the regular deductible for all other types of claims, such as fire or theft. A hurricane deductible applies only to damage from hurricanes, and windstorm or wind/hail deductibles would apply to any wind damage.

Hurricane and wind deductibles are typically given as a percentage that may vary from 1% to 5% of a home's insured value but can be even higher in some coastal areas. The amount you must pay depends on your insured value and the "trigger" event.

For instance, if you have a 3% hurricane deductible and your home is insured for $200,000, you’d be responsible for the first $6,000 ($200,000 x 3%) in repair costs. That’s much more expensive than paying a standard $500 or $1,000 home deductible.

In some states, the triggering event for hurricane deductibles to apply is when a Category 1 storm causes damage whether it made landfall or not. Other states allow Category 2 to be the threshold. In others, a hurricane deductible applies from the moment a hurricane watch or warning gets issued until 72 hours after it ends.

A hurricane deductible can only be applied once each hurricane season, from June to November.

5. Don’t leave discounts on the table.

When it comes to the price of renters and home insurance, there are some factors you can control and some you can’t. Here are some ways to save and typical discounts to ask for:

  • Bundling insurance is when you purchase different types of policies, such as renters or home and auto, from the same insurance company. Buying two or more policies can help reduce your total cost. Just make sure that the combined price from one insurer is less than buying policies separately from different insurers.
  • Shopping around may seem obvious, but many people don’t do it. Prices can vary considerably from insurer to insurer. Be sure to compare the same coverage and deductibles to get the best deal possible.
  • Installing safety features in your home or rental, such as smoke detectors, alarm systems, deadbolts, storm shutters, shatterproof windows, or roofing, may allow you to qualify for discounts. Even being a non-smoker or being retired reduces the risk for insurers, so be sure to let them know any factors that could work in your favor.
  • Raising your deductible is an easy way to cut the cost of premiums. Just make sure that you could afford to pay it in the event of a claim. Also, the savings vary depending on where you live and your insurer, so get quotes with multiple scenarios.
  • Maintaining good credit is vital for many aspects of your financial life, including the rates you pay for home, renters, and auto insurance. Depending on where you live, having poor credit can cause you to pay double the premium compared to having excellent credit! The only states that currently prohibit home insurers from using credit when setting rates are California, Maryland, and Massachusetts
  • Being a loyal customer can pay off with a discount. However, don’t let that keep you from periodically shopping around to make sure you’re still getting a good deal.

No one enjoys paying for home or renters policy, but when disaster strikes, you’re the victim of theft, or you get involved in a lawsuit, having insurance can be a financial lifesaver.

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Source: quickanddirtytips.com

Thankful Investor – John Martinez

 

Hey, welcome back for another segment! This is the 3rd and final segment that I wanted to share with you from my recent live event called the Thankful Real Estate Investor. We hosted this live right before Thanksgiving and it was an interactive event. Our 3rd speaker is Mr. John Martinez, the top real estate investor sales trainer! Let’s get started!

If you’re not a member of the FlipNerd Private Facebook group yet, you can join here: www.flipnerd.com/pro-event, and get access to lots of upcoming live and interactive content like this going forward.

Resources and Links from this show:

  • Investor Fuel Real Estate Mastermind
  • FlipNerd Professional Real Estate Investor Network: Join for Free!
  • Investor Machine Real Estate Lead Generation

Listen to the Audio Version of this Episode

FlipNerd Show Transcript:

[00:00:00] Mike: [00:00:00] Professional real estate investors are a different breed. We’re not afraid to go all in and take educated risks to build stronger businesses and help our families live better lives.

This is the FlipNerd professional real estate investor show. And I’m your host Mike Hambright each week. I host a new episode live and bring you America’s top real estate investors as guests.

Let’s start today’s show. Hey everybody. Welcome back for another segment. This is the. The third segment of three that I wanted to share with you from my recent live events called the thankful real estate investor. We hosted this live right before Thanksgiving. It was an interactive segment. So, uh, hopefully if you weren’t there, you’ll join us on an upcoming events.

Uh, our third speaker is mr. John Martinez, by the way, I’d love for you to join us at our future live events. We’re going to be doing these several times a month, going forward events like this that are live and interactive, answering your questions in our private. FlipNerd Facebook group. The way you [00:01:00] get access to that group is you go to flipnerd.com/pro event has a hyphen there pro dash event flipnerd.com/pro-event.

Make sure you go there and register. We’ll get you in the group and you can join us if you didn’t this time on our next live and interactive, uh, event. Let’s go ahead and jump in with mr. John Martinez.

I’m going to bring my buddy John Martinez and. John, how are you? You’re a little bit cut off. I think.

John: [00:01:27] Let me adjust the camera here.

Mike: [00:01:30] We want to see your good side.

John: [00:01:34] So you have to just deal with it.

Mike: [00:01:37] Yeah. So how are you? My friend.

John: [00:01:38] I’m good. I’m good. How are you  doing? How are you doing Mike?

Mike: [00:01:41] Good. Good. So as we’re kind of getting started here, I’ll ask a really a couple of things. First is if you guys have questions for John, if you don’t know John.

That’d be kind of unusual. So if you know, John is, and you want to ask some questions about what’s working now from a sales technique standpoint, or an approach of how you handle your leads, start to chat those in I’d love to get to your [00:02:00] questions. In the meantime, John, while we’re waiting on some questions, maybe you can share a little bit about what you’re most thankful about.

We’ve got so much to be thankful for. What would you share that, uh, I know you probably have, might have a long list if we had time to talk about it, but what are one of the things that come to mind that you’re most thankful for?

Uh, my health, uh, man, I turned 40 this year. So it’s funny how I that’s like more and more of a top of mine topic.

Like, uh, every year you get older. So, uh, turning 40 every day. I’m thankful for my health. Uh, thankful for parts of me that don’t hurt when I was picked up. And then, I mean the same with my family. Yeah, me too. My kids and my wife are all healthy. And I think, um, as long as you have that, you can basically basically get through anything else.

So that’s gotta be what I’m most grateful for.

Awesome. Awesome. Well, that’s great. So, so John, while we’re kind of waiting on some more questions, or maybe you could kind of share a little bit about what’s what’s working now, like we’ve been through, I wish we were through the COVID, so I don’t know if we’re through it earlier.

Trevor said we’re kind of. In the middle of this [00:03:00] code. And I’m like, hopefully we’re at the tail end. I don’t know where we’re at, but it’s, it’s changed. The dynamic has a lot of people that are doing stuff virtually now, or certainly vetting more out on the phone than they used to. What are, what are some of the things that are, that are kind of working now that people have had to adapt to over the last six or eight months?

Yeah. So it’s, you know, in sales, what’s worked for forever was having a plan or we call sales process. But I think it’s more important now than ever because we’re not doing as much kind of face to face or belly to belly selling. Um, so a lot of people who could kind of get away with just their wit and their good looks inside of a house and really building rapport that way and going buddy, buddy, and, um, having really good conversations because of, of that ability.

It’s it’s a lot harder to do that on the phone. So you have to start to rely on your plan or your sales process. I think even more now than ever before. Right? Your plan about what I want to accomplish during this call, how do I want it to begin? What do I want to, uh, [00:04:00] what’s the agenda for the middle? How do I want this thing to end?

What will, what will the acceptable outcomes be? Um, you know, if I run up against hidden decision makers, influencers, Pushback resistance. How am I going to deal with that? So I think it’s always, you know, the cornerstone of any good sales organization or sales person is, is process or having a plan. But I just think it’s more important right now than it’s ever been since we’re so disconnected.

Yep. Yep. So we’ve got a question from Matt here. That’s talking about kind of, how are you negotiate remotely? And I think, you know, a lot, like we just talked about a lot of people who have transitioned to doing this over the phone. And you lose some things on the phone, right? You don’t get to see the facial expressions or exactly how they’re living.

You don’t really get any indication of what the house is like by just walking in the front door. Um, maybe, can you maybe share some tips on how to make that transition for those that have had to make that transition that we’re buying at the kitchen table, if you will, to doing more over the phone?

John: [00:04:57] Yeah, I, I can’t so great point.

So usually in [00:05:00] a negotiation, you know, by the time you get there, A negotiation. You’ve got to walk a pretty tight line because you want to negotiate aggressively to get yourself the best deal. But at the same time, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you, you upset someone or offend them in such a way that you kill your own deal.

Now, when you’re face to face, you can basically just read it. Right. Do you know the body language, the tonality? Um, no one can really hang up on you when they’re face-to-face either. Quit and say, get out of my house now they can, but it’s harder. Right? So in order to do that over the phone, one best practice I found what’s working right now is always assume the worst during the negotiation.

And then I’ll tell you what I mean by that. Um, you’re always safe if you assume the worst, um, uh, in a, in a sales negotiation and when it comes to keeping the conversation going and not offending someone or, or losing rapport. So here’s what I mean by that. Um, if you’re, if you’re making offers, you know, always assume that they’re not going to take it.

So here’s, here’s some examples, [00:06:00] uh, listen, I’d love to offer you a 75,000 for the property, but you know, based on this phone call, I’m guessing that if I offered that and I’m way out of the ballpark. Um, so, so you tell me, am I, am I, am I right? Am I in my way out of there? So just always assuming the worst there, you won’t put your prospect or the seller back on their heels and, and start that kind of confrontational negotiation.

So even as you go through the negotiation and you’re going back and forth, you know, Hey, I think I could offer you more money, but that would require you to, um, help it to clean out a little bit, or certainly shorten the timeframe or commit, uh, you know, within the next 48 hours. And, you know, we haven’t had a chance to think about that.

So I’m not sure if that, you know, the more, the extra money would even be worth, you know, you. Cleaning out a little bit more or painting the living room or getting their old car out of the garage. So I think, um, in order to be safe with negotiations, just err, on the side of caution and what it’ll actually do is it’ll build a, and it’s more amount of rapport.

It’ll [00:07:00] keep the conversation going. It’ll keep you out of that kind of enemy, confrontational battling type of negotiation and extend the conversation. So you can actually get through the negotiation and not end it prematurely.

Mike: [00:07:11] Yep. Good, good. That’s good stuff. So we’ve got another question here. I’m going to, I can’t tell with who the user is, but they’re saying what’s the best way to start a renegotiation or price with sellers.

So I don’t know the context of that, but let’s just say when people are buying virtually more frequently, now that they are, you’re making assumptions on repairs and stuff. And sometimes, you know, you find out that, you know, you told me the kitchen was remodeled, but it turns out is remodeled 20 years ago.

Right. And, uh, that it’s going to cost more. And so I think we all. You know, some people have an approach and I know John believes the same way that I do. You really want to use renegotiate as, as a. As a last defense, like you just really miss something and not this approach of like, well, I’m gonna try to lock it up and then go back and renegotiate.

I think we’re in agreement with how we, how we believe that. Um, but let’s just say we made [00:08:00] our best effort. We put an offer forward, an offer that we thought was good and later we found out we totally missed something or were misled on something. Cause we did it over the phone and we have to renegotiate.

So maybe talk about how to best start to renegotiate a deal with it. Somebody after they’ve agreed to something else.

John: [00:08:17] Yeah. So good question. So it pops up all the time. Um, it just happens. It’s the nature of the business is real estate and buying houses that are in disrepair or, or distressed sellers. Um, it’s going to happen.

So when you do it, you just need to really put yourself in the seller’s shoes when you go into that conversation. So here’s what I mean. We already know. And if you got one with a renegotiation and you’ve agreed to applies, and it might’ve been a tight negotiation to get to the price you originally agreed on.

When you go in and say the deal’s off, or I need even less, you have to understand how they’re going to feel. They’re going to be a little bit shocked. Um, they’re going to probably be a little upset and disappointed. And so as you go into the negotiation, first and foremost, you have to [00:09:00] realize what that will do.

If it’s with a seller it’s going to, they’re going to react the same way as is Mike, or I would react if we got upset or maybe even, you know, in that situation, you might even feel like you’re taking advantage of, or someone trying to pull one over on ya. Um, so you’ve got to realize that that’s going to be met with some type of resistance.

And now resistance in sales really shows itself in two ways. It’s either it’s kind of a fight or flight, right? If you get upset or you feel like you’re being taken advantage of, you’re either going to just shut it down and say fine, it’s off whatever. And I’m sure people have experienced that, right. They go in with the renegotiation and they just say, well, deal’s off.

No. Uh, or if there’s going to be a tremendous amount of pushback aggression, right. Um, get into a, uh, you know, a yelling confrontation or something like that. And that neither of those is going to lead to a smooth negotiation. I think we can agree on that. Right. If they’re shutting it down or, or getting pretty aggressive.

That’s not where you want to start off. So first and foremost, you got to know where your prospect’s mind is going to [00:10:00] be an address mindset first, before you get into the nego renegotiation. So knowing they’re upset, I’m just going to be open and honest and say, listen, I’ve got some bad news. I’m really reluctant to even bring it to you.

I feel like a schmuck because I know I’m going to rain on your parade today. Um, but I’ve, I’ve exhausted every option looking into this, and then we’ve got to have a really tough conversation and I want to let you know, I apologize up front because, um, it’s not going to be a fun one. Right. Uh, so if you see what I saw there, I just, I called the situation what it was.

Um, I took the temperature down using what we call tactical empathy in our sales training. Bye I’m going not okay. Just kind of, you know, going down and, and feeling bad cause you’re about to give bad news and that’s what a normal human being would do. Right. Um, and there’s some science behind it, but anyways, that’s it.

You want to go into it smoothly. And then, uh, I’m going to borrow from the last tip I gave, um, about negotiating over the phone. We want to, we want to come at it from a position where we’re [00:11:00] assuming the worst. So when I renegotiate, I started out just like I said, on the call, and then I’d say, listen, I, there’s no way I can pay 110 grand for the house.

It’s just based on what we found and everything going on. I, I can’t do it and I feel horrible about it, but I assume that if I had to pay even a dollar less, you don’t want to do it. And then just be quiet. Now, the reason why I didn’t say the number that I actually need is we feel tested this quite a bit.

And we found that we just say, you probably don’t want to sell at this point, or I’m not even sure I could buy at this point. Oftentimes sellers renegotiate down lower than, than what you need. Uh, I, I have countless emails and messages from people who said, I need a 10 K off. I went in with that exact read negotiating strategy.

And they said, well, would you take it if I took 20 K off? Right. And then, okay. Uh, so, so that’s it just know their mindsets slide into it, knowing you’re going to upset them and addressing and being real about it. And, and if it doesn’t [00:12:00] feel good to give bad news and don’t hide it, um, and then kind of go negative and assume that.

They’re not going to consider it or not like it, or you might not be able to get the deal done and then just go silent

Mike: [00:12:11] and see what happens. Yep. Yep. And I think some of it too is if you’re, if you shifted your model to bind more virtually, is there some things you can do to pre-frame that upfront? Like here’s our offer.

If part of your processes, we’re going to have an inspector come out and look what I want to try to give you a price. Now you can kind of pre-frame frame that is, uh, like we’re based on what you’ve told me. You know, here’s what we’ve come up with for repairs. And we’re going to have somebody come out and double check this.

And so you can kind of slip in there that in the event that any of that, that I missed anything here, we’ll find out and I’ll let you know, or right. You can kind of pre-frame them.

John: [00:12:44] Absolutely. Um, you know, that, that was kind of the assumption I was running with. No one likes surprises, prizes, especially bad news surprises.

So covering that upfront is definitely a best practice.

Mike: [00:12:56] Yeah. Good. We got a question here from our buddy John Harker, who [00:13:00] says hello?

John: [00:13:00] Hey John,

Mike: [00:13:01] uh, what do you do when a seller just won’t give you a price and just keeps. Saying look online. I don’t know what he means by that. Like,

John: [00:13:10] yeah. Maybe he’s, he’s referring to Zilla or do your research.

Mike: [00:13:13] They’re kind of celebrates online. They just won’t give you a price. And uh, so talk a little bit about what do you do when they just won’t show you their cards and they’re just waiting for you to give an offer.

John: [00:13:23] Yeah. So there’s a lot of strategies to get the number, but I want to come at this question two different ways.

Um, the first way is, okay, how do we get the number again? You’re probably seeing a pattern here. We’re going to pull back a little bit. Um, there there’s two ways to get it. One is I usually just suggest they don’t know the number cause people like to argue and push back. So one way to ask is. Listen, I’m guessing you don’t even know what you’d even what you’d want for the house we contacted.

You probably haven’t had time to do research, to think about it. That’s one way, another way to do it is to ask about a similar property. Oftentimes people don’t want to talk about themselves, but they’ll talk about their neighbors or a member of house in the [00:14:00] neighborhood. So another way you can ask is, Hey, listen, um, Houses in this neighborhood.

Do you know any that have sold recently? What are they going for? Right. And when you have a hundred K 200, 300 and you can kind of whittle it down from there real simply like really were you expecting to get more or less for yours? And now we’re starting to bracket them in and kind of drilling down on.

I was actually expecting a bit more. Well, why is that? Well, it’s a bigger house. It’s a nicer condition we rehab. So you can start to get to it in that round about way now, now that I gave the two ways that you’ll have more success doing it than just asking straight out, um, kind of some caution I want to throw out there.

Um, Oftentimes, unless you’re qualifying, let’s say this makes sense. If you’re qualifying, let’s say you have a bunch of leads and you want to find that, who am I going to work with? Who am I going to send my acquisitions out to? Who am I going to talk to? Where am I going to spend my time? Then you might be asking that price.

You, it’s a, it’s a level of your qualification. Now, if it’s not a level of your qualification, I’ll want to [00:15:00] caution you on asking what their expectations are, because it actually does more harm than it does. Good. Number one, it could get into your head. Um, I’ve worked with plenty of sales reps. Who’ve gone into sales calls gone.

We’re at two 50 for this house. They want 500 why even go, right? And they’re talking themselves out about, out of even showing up. But then when we show up and we run through the sales process and uncover some things, and sometimes those people actually sell for what they need to, right? No, one’s going to.

Call you up and you say, Hey, what would you like to sell for? And they’d say, Oh, 50% of what I think I could sell it for. That’s insane. Right? So sometimes that can kind of get in your head and stop you from even taking the appointment or really going full force at the appointment. The other negative.

About getting their offer is they’re setting expectations. And whenever you come in under it, cause you will come in under whatever they expect, 99 or 999 out of a thousand times. They’re going to be disappointed. [00:16:00] So, because I don’t want to disappoint them. I want to set expectations. I want to come in instead of saying, what would you like?

I’d like a hundred and me saying, I could give you 50 that’s bad. I’d rather go in and say, I’d love to give you 40, but with this, I think if we did it quickly, I could do 50. So then I’m setting, setting expectations. And then, uh, my comparison, it actually sounds a little sweeter. Um, so, so that’s my take on it.

So be careful asking, asking for asking price only do it. If you need it. Because of mindset and the expectations that sets, and then kind of the psychology that goes along with what’s called price anchoring. It could actually have a negative effect. So if you don’t need that information, you might not want to get it.

Mike: [00:16:36] Yep. Good stuff. Good stuff. So, John, we’ve got a really long question. I don’t want to put up on the screen cause I think it’ll block the whole screen, but effectively says, uh, you know, what kind of techniques are working well with speaking to homeowners or landlords? There’s a lot of trouble landlords out there these days because of all the rents, deferments and all this stuff, um, about.

COVID w on the value of their property versus kind of the future. So I think that there’s a couple of ways [00:17:00] I could translate that. I think, um, you know, there’s a, there’s probably a lot more landlords that are hurting now than there were before. COVID. And then on the other side yeah, for home owners and even, I guess for landlords is property values have gone up pretty substantially during, since COVID started because there’s just very little inventory, so prices have shot up.

So we’re, we’re kind of dealing with this whole COVID mess, but at the same time, knowing that prices just feel kind of artificially high right now because of what’s been going on. And so, uh, that’s like a huge loaded question ultimately, but kind of how do you integrate those things into. Talking about value when you’re talking to a seller.

John: [00:17:39] Yeah. So, uh, interesting questions. Um, we can break those

Mike: [00:17:44] down into a couple of smaller questions if

John: [00:17:45] you don’t know. It’s okay. It’s okay. I’m just thinking through it. So, uh, really I think having that conversation unless it needs to happen is kind of a trap. So I’m going into that question with the premise of, we’re [00:18:00] trying to convince someone that their house is worth a, when they’re trying to convince us that it’s worth B.

Yeah. And if you are in the real estate investment business, that’s, that’s not the conversation you want to be having. That’s a retail conversation, right? Um, that conversation is, is not going to do a lot for you as far as increasing your conversion rates. What you want to do is pivot that value conversation, not the price isn’t worth more because of COVID or is it worth less?

Two, what’s it worth to you right now? Uh, here is what I can offer. Let’s have a conversation about, is it worth even considering that offer? So shifting the conversation is where I’d want to take the answer to that question. If you’re having that conversation of, I think it’s worth 50. Well, I think it’s worth 60.

I think if we’re  that’s not a winning strategy and sales, you have to pivot the conversation. To listen, I’m going to give you an offer and I’m not sure it’s going to be more or less than, than what you were expecting, but let’s chat a little bit about what you want to accomplish. [00:19:00] And, um, so I know how to structure it and make sure I can maximize my offer.

And then you can just figure out at the end of this, Hey, with what I want to accomplish does accepting this offer makes sense or not make sense. And that’d be a pretty easy, easy answer for you. And then I’m shifting the conversation to, you know, what even got you started thinking about selling. Is there a, you know, is it, is it kind of a situation you want to get away from, or is there, do you want to use the money for something else?

Do you want to move across the country? What’s going on? And I want to redefine it and read it and just pivot that conversation to what’s your problem? What do you want to accomplish? And, and I’m going to ultimately give you an offer and then your only decision is in order to accomplish that. Is it going, is it worth it?

Is it worth taking the offer? And doing that you can, you can really stroke a tremendous amount of motivation. You can bring a lot of motivations to surface that your prospect may not have been thinking of. You can understand their situation a lot better. You’re going to build a lot more rapport, their urgency to take action.

The more they talk about their situation is going to increase. So I don’t know if I’m giving the right answer, but, but my answer [00:20:00] is that’s probably the wrong conversation to have, and we need to pivot.

Mike: [00:20:03] Yeah. Don’t look at the underlying issue of COVID it’s just the situation of what you think the value is versus what you can pay.

Right, right. Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of landlords that are hurting. Right. And I mean, there’s, let’s be honest. There’s a lot of landlords that didn’t buy, like. For me, all my rentals were bought at wholesale prices. And in fact, most of them were from many, many years ago. So like prices that are inconceivable now, uh, cause I’m actually older than John.

Uh, I was talking about age earlier, but, um, uh, but I think there’s a lot of landlords that, you know, they bought it off the MLS and they, in their mind, you know, or, or they bought a turnkey property at close to retail value and they never. Thought about like, well, what could go wrong? The house is newly renovated and like things go wrong, you know?

And of course, with, with COVID it’s even, uh, kind of unprecedented in terms of. You know, some States saying you don’t have to pay the rent and all that stuff. It’s just crazy. So I think what you really focus on there is that pain of like, you’re not even getting paid right now. When do you think you’re going to get paid again?

Right.

[00:21:00] John: [00:21:00] The reality of the situation is we all overpay for stuff happily because it’s worth it. Right. And we all take massive losses on things that we have when we sell them, because again, it’s worth it. So just think about any time in your life, where you said, you know what? I probably could have gotten more.

But I’m just thankful it’s over. I’m thankful I got rid of it. Yeah. I know. I overpaid for that, but here’s the opportunity it opens up. I’m glad I did. Right. And you’re excited about overpaying for something. So if you start thinking those terms, that’s how your seller’s thinking, right? It’s not always about getting, you know, fair market value to them.

Is what it actually accomplishes to them, not, not what Zillow says or what your, your, your maximum allowable offer is, or whatever you calculate the ARV to be. It’s, it’s going to be what’s it worth to them. So again, just another way to rephrase my answer is you’ve got to figure out what, moving that property is worth to them and get away from the ARV conversation.

Mike: [00:21:54] Yep. Yep. Well, guys, we’ve got time for a couple more questions, so please chat them in here. Uh, John saw this, [00:22:00] I got a question for you. How do you use, or how can you utilize the end of the year? Beginning of the year kind of phenomenon. Uh, and I’ve always kind of explained it as it’s like a health club.

Like people want to, you know, January 1st, there’s this line in the sand, that’s really just in their mind. And now I want to start the year and lose 40 pounds or whatever. There’s also people that have had. Problem rental property or a house they inherited, or a fixer upper of some sort that they’re like, I don’t want to deal with that next year.

I just want to get rid of it. How do you kind of utilize that in the year? Phenomenon of people wanting to start fresh?

John: [00:22:33] Yeah. I mean, you can use it just like you said. I, I typically don’t care. What time of year. It’s a great time to use scarcity. I can use really use scarcity no matter what time of year it is, but it works really well at this time.

Um, I’ll tell you when I was out, uh, training salespeople and kind of men buying houses coast to coast. Whenever we didn’t get one at the kitchen table, we would drive two blocks away and I would call and say, listen, We could give you a little bit more money if we can walk this up in the [00:23:00] next 60 minutes and we would often lock them up then because that’s scarcity.

So having, having a cutoff, and I think it speaks really to the broader, uh, sales strategy of having an offer expiration or having, uh, making a, no one, no right Treme salespeople out there, 20 acquisition agents and real estate investors, I think because there’s a fear of losing a potential deal. They never make their prospects actually make a decision.

Right? Think about it. Think about it. I’ll continue to follow up with you. And there’s never any cutoff where a decision has to be made. So the prospect never feels a fear of loss, a fear of actually losing the deal. So, um, cause the investors

Mike: [00:23:40] is afraid to say, I’m never going to call you again, right?

John: [00:23:43] Yeah, absolutely.

Uh, so sorry, my Alexa just went on and off. I don’t know what happened to you guys

Mike: [00:23:52] are winding it down. Guys, ask the questions. Cause the lights are going

out

John: [00:23:56] probably in the other room it’s like in it, but yeah, no. [00:24:00] And anyways, I want to just, just go back to that and say, Hey, every time you make an offer, you just word of advice.

You need an exploration, whether it’s by the time I, you know, if it’s not a yes. You know, by the time we wrap up our conversation. Totally cool. It’s no, uh, you know, don’t be a jerk about it. Uh, or Hey, you know, offers you a stand for a week. Obviously I can’t make an offer on a property and let it hang out there for a year.

If things change, my situation will change. Number of houses. I need changes the real estate market’s going to change. So I can, I can let this offer stand for three days, seven days, whatever it is. So you’ll do yourself a favor. If you just start giving a cutoff to when your

Mike: [00:24:34] offer expires. Yeah. Yeah. I remember when I first started this a long time ago now.

Um, and I used to sit there like, how good, how good is the offer for? And I was like, Oh, you know, 30 days. But even then I’d still be interested in buying it. And I was like, well, would I in hindsight, you know, so stupid, what would you do? You’d like, you’d go shop at everywhere in town. And like, I’m like plan B if they need it, which they would never need it.

So then we, then we got better. [00:25:00] Yeah. Awesome. Well, John, what do you think differentiates, let me ask you a question. What differentiates you? You, you’re a member of investor fuel as well. You know, you surround yourself with a lot of amazing people, just like I do for Schwartz, I’ve run in some of the same circles.

What do you think differentiates those that are doing really well at crushing it from those that are good, doing some deals, but kind of just getting by and kind of stuck in the grind. What do you think differentiates those two people from a sales perspective,

John: [00:25:26] from a sales perspective, It’s gonna sound funny, but it’s, uh, getting out of the sales role.

Um, I think the, the more successful people in invest a fuel, um, and, uh, you know, just, just investors in general. Um, even if they’re really good at it, uh, sometimes even if they like it pulling themselves out so they can grow, right. If they can have three acquisition agents that are half as good. Uh, the numbers typically work where you can turn up lead flow and, you know, still, uh, grow them at, uh, in the business.

So I think it’s [00:26:00] getting out of the seal rule so you can focus more on actually growing the business. And I, I train sales people, so I love to train an investor. So I don’t want to talk anyone out of, uh, investors buying houses, but at the same time, getting out of the sales role, hiring others to do it.

Even if they can only do it a fraction as well as you will allow you to focus on the actual and pull the levers that will grow your business and then turn everything off because now you’ve got the bandwidth to handle, increase everything else. So that’s when you can do sales. If you’re an investor business owner, entrepreneur is get out of the sales role and get yourself a couple of people who can do it

Mike: [00:26:36] for you.

Yeah, you can even say that about your whole business. Like we’re we’re in our way, right? I, I just, uh, before today’s event here, I did, uh, I recorded an investor fuel show with clay Rockwood. They’re doing a hundred wholesale deals a year and adding a hundred rental doors a year to their business. They’ve been in business for three years.

These guys are crushing it. And that’s what he said. That’s what he said is like, we just. I’m not the best at [00:27:00] anything that our company has to do. And I just had to get out of the way. And so I can focus on, you know, being the visionary or God forbid living your life. Right.

John: [00:27:09] You know, I’ve, I’ve, I, um, we’ve got one client in York, Pennsylvania.

This guy is probably one of the best natural salespeople I’ve met in my life. Like just, just he’s got it right. He was born with it. Um, that being said he doesn’t train the sales team. Um, he outsources that to, to me. Um, and the reason is, is not because he can’t do it. Um, but he knows his, his focus is spent elsewhere.

Now he’s doing 70 deals a month consistently and half for the last year or so last year. So we’re talking about how do you hit that volume? Um, and he’s not involved in the business that much anymore. So I just wanted to kind of throw that out there. He’s probably one of the best sales people I’ve met in my life.

He’s not selling his, he’s not even training his team, let alone selling the deals or buying the houses that are just positioning him because he knows he needs to [00:28:00] keep stepping up and taking kind of a higher level view of what’s going to grow the business instead of just taking that micro view.

Mike: [00:28:08] Yeah.

Awesome. Well, John, appreciate you spending time with us today. Great. To great to see you. My friend.

John: [00:28:12] Yeah. Good to see you, Mike,

Mike: [00:28:13] have a great Thanksgiving and a, well I’m sure we’ll be talking again soon. Okay. Thanks for joining me. On today’s episode, there are three ways I help successful real estate investors take their businesses and their lives to the next level.

First, if you’re in search of a community of successful real estate investors that help one another, take their businesses to the next level and a life changing community of lifelong friends. Please learn more about my investor fuel real estate mastermind. By visiting investor, fuel.com. If you’d like a cutting edge solution for the very best done for you lead generation on the planet where we’re handling the lead-generation for many of America.

Top real estate [00:29:00] investors. Please learn more@theinvestormachine.com. And lastly, if you’re interested in a free online community of professional real estate investors that isn’t full of spam solicitations and newbie questions, please join my free professional real estate investor Facebook group by visiting flipnerd.com/professional.

 

Source: flipnerd.com

Here’s What You Need To Know About Becoming A Cosigner

Are you thinking about becoming a cosigner for someone? Have you ever been asked to cosign on a loan before? 

becoming a cosignerMany people have been asked to cosign loans for family members and even friends. However, many people do not understand the full cosigner meaning, and becoming a cosigner is never something you should do unless you completely understand what it means.

If someone asks you to cosign a loan for them, you might be hesitant to say yes at first. You also might not want to offend the person or make them mad.

Whatever you may be thinking, I want you to fully understand what you are getting yourself into.

Becoming a cosigner can actually turn into a big financial mistake if you do it without really thinking it through.

Okay, now some of you may think that I’m a mean person for saying that, but I’ve heard many stories from people who’ve had their credit wrecked, have been stuck paying a loan for someone else, and even had their relationships ruined.

All of that from cosigning a loan.

Perhaps you have cosigned before and it went fine, or you know a friend of a friend who has done it. Perhaps you think that things won’t go bad for you or that you are hurting the person by not cosigning for them.

But, I want you to be careful before becoming a cosigner. I’m saying this to help you!

No matter how well you think you know someone, mixing money and relationships can change things. What you may have thought was a wonderful friendship or family relationship can turn into a nightmare.

It may seem very innocent – you’re just helping a good friend or relative get a loan. 

Really, if it was that simple, I’d tell everyone to do it. But, becoming a cosigner is a major financial decision that you need to seriously think about before agreeing to.

Before you cosign a mortgage or another type of loan for someone, it is always wise to be 100% positive of what cosigning a loan actually means and how it may affect your relationship with the person getting the loan.

Surprisingly, many people don’t know exactly what happens when they agree to being a cosigner. Many people just think that all you’re doing is helping a person get approved, but that’s not just it.

Sorry to break it to you, but the bank, landlord, etc., does not care if the applicant has a friend with a good credit history. 

There’s more that comes with being a cosigner.

As the cosigner, what’s actually happening is that you are taking on the full responsibility of the debt if the original applicant is unable to pay.

And, that happens more often than you might think.

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According to a survey I found on CreditCards.com, 38% of cosigners had to pay some or all of a loan that they cosigned for because the primary borrower failed to pay. This is a HUGE percentage of cosigners, so please keep that in mind.

Other statistics I found about becoming a cosigner include:

  • 28% of cosigners saw a drop in their credit score because the person that they cosigned on a loan for paid their loan late or skipped a payment.
  • 26% of cosigners said that cosigning damaged the relationship with the person that they cosigned a loan for.
  • 90% of private student loan borrowers who applied for cosigner release were rejected. So, if you think that you are going to cosign for a loan and then remove yourself from the loan later, that is much more difficult than you probably think. Stat from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)

So, who is finding cosigners for loans?

According to the survey mentioned above, 45% of cosigners are cosigning for their child or stepchild. And 21% of cosigners are cosigning for a friend.

The rest is a mixture of cosigning for spouses/partners and parents.

Today, I am going to answer common questions about becoming a cosigner for a loan.

What to know about becoming a cosigner.

 

What is a cosigner?

If you’ve been asked to become a cosigner on a loan, you may not know what that fully entails.

A cosigner is someone who agrees to be on a loan with another person so that they are more likely to be approved. 

A cosigner may be needed for different things such as a:

  • Car loan
  • Student loan
  • Mortgage
  • Apartment or other type of rental home

And more.

Here’s an example of when someone may want a cosigner: if your child wants to buy a car but doesn’t have a long enough credit history to be approved for the car loan. Your child may ask you to cosign their loan so the lender takes your credit score and financial information into account. This improves your child’s chances of being approved.

Other reasons you might be asked to be a cosigner is if the borrower doesn’t have a high enough credit score or doesn’t make enough money to pay the loan (that is a red flag right there).

However, as a cosigner, you are agreeing to pay off the debt if the original borrower is unable to pay it in the future. So, even if the original borrower doesn’t pay a penny, the cosigner would have to make all of the payments or risk being sued, having credit report damage, and more.

In that example I gave, the parent would be responsible for the car loan if their child could no longer make their payments. Not only that, if the child for some reason refused to make payments (I’ve heard of situations like this), the parent would be responsible.

Remember, like I stated above, 38% of cosigners had to pay some or all of a loan that they cosigned for because the primary borrower failed to pay. 

And in some circumstances, even if the borrower files bankruptcy, while their other loans might be discharged, the cosigner may still be responsible for paying the cosigned loan.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About How To Build Your Credit Score

 

How does a co signer work?

Here’s what happens when you agree to become a cosigner for a friend or family member. 

You will start by giving your personal information to the bank or lender. This is information like bank statements, tax returns, paycheck stubs, and so on.

You will also have to complete the loan application, and once you agree with all of the loan terms, then you sign it.

But, becoming a cosigner doesn’t mean that you will own or have partial ownership of the vehicle, house, or whatever else you are cosigning for. It does mean that you are taking full financial responsibility and promising to pay the loan yourself if the borrower does not pay.

Becoming a cosigner is nothing to take lightly.

 

Does cosigning hurt your credit? Is it bad to be a cosigner?

Becoming a cosigner can hurt your credit score and prevent you from future loans in some circumstances.

Here’s why:

  • If the person doesn’t pay the monthly payments on time, then you may be rejected for a loan in the future. Missed payments can damage your credit score and your credit report.
  • As a cosigner, you are increasing your debt-to-income ratio. So, even if your friend/family member pays every single bill on time, a lender will still see this as YOUR debt. Unfortunately, this may prevent them from approving your loan because they will think you have too much debt on your plate.

If you might be buying something soon that will need financing (house, car, etc.), you should think long and hard before you decide to be a cosigner on someone else’s loan.

 

Can cosigning a loan hurt a relationship?

Unfortunately, many cosigning relationships go sour. 

I have heard many stories where someone cosigned a loan for someone else and then didn’t talk to them for years or even decades because of a falling out of some sort.

I have always been a firm believer that money and relationships do not mix well. 

If you are going to cosign or lend money to someone, then you should consider it a gift because there is a chance that you will never see that money again.

 

Can you remove yourself from a loan as a cosigner?

Remember the statistic above – 90% of private student loan borrowers who applied for cosigner release were rejected. 

There’s not much you can do to remove yourself from a loan that you cosigned on. If the person isn’t making payments, you are stuck with it for the most part.

The loan would have to be refinanced to take yourself off the loan, and there are many horror stories out there where the original borrower refused to refinance because then they wouldn’t be able to force the cosigner to continue to pay the monthly bill.

Plus, there are instances in which refinancing is impossible because of the value decreasing, the economy changing, a person’s financial situation getting worse, and so on. 

So, while the original borrower may be okay with getting you off of the loan and refinancing, it’s still up to the lender whether or not they will refinance the loan.

 

How do I protect myself as a cosigner?

There is no guarantee that becoming a cosigner is going to work out, but if you’re determined to do it, you will want to know both of these two things for sure:

  1. That you can trust the person you are cosigning for.
  2. That YOU can make the payment.

Many people who are thinking about becoming a cosigner may not think about that last one, but it is just as important as the first one. Being stuck with the loan payment would be awful, but not being able to make the payment could cause you to go into serious debt and destroy your credit.

You may be certain you won’t be stuck making the payment, but you don’t want to be stuck in a bad financial situation.

 

Should I cosign a loan?

Even though those cosigning horror stories are real cautionary tales, most people don’t believe they would ever happen to them. 

However, don’t you think most (if not all) cosigners felt the same way in the beginning?

It’s up to each person to decide if they will cosign, and you should never feel forced to do it. However, I want you to remember that if you cosign, then you should make sure that you can afford to make the monthly payment.

You never know, one day those payments are being made and everything is going well. The original borrower may be a great person, but then they may lose their job, have an unexpected expense come up, or something else that prevents them from paying their bills.

Then, what if something happens to you and you can’t make those payments either? Unfortunately, being unprepared and not really knowing what you are getting into can turn into a disastrous situation.

Cosigning a loan may not always be bad. However, I believe it’s better to realize what the consequences are before going into something that can negatively impact your life. It’s always better to be prepared!

 

Is it a bad idea to cosign for someone?

Cosigning a loan doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

However, I want you to remember that there is a chance that you will be on the hook for the loan.

So, if you cosign, whether that be for a car, mortgage, apartment, student loan, or something else, you should make sure that you can afford the payment as well. Because, there is a chance that you may have to pay it one day.

Everyone has a different situation, and ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you. 

What do you think of becoming a cosigner for a mortgage or other type of loan? Would you ever do it?

The post Here’s What You Need To Know About Becoming A Cosigner appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

7 Pros and Cons of Investing in a 401(k) Retirement Plan at Work

A 401(k) retirement plan is one of the most powerful savings vehicles on the planet. If you’re fortunate enough to work for a company that offers one (or its sister for non-profits, a 403(b)), it’s a valuable benefit that you should take advantage of.

But many people ignore their retirement plan at work because they don’t understand the rules, which may seem confusing at first. Or they worry about what happens to their account after they leave the company or mistakenly believe you must be an investing expert to use a retirement plan.

Let's talk about seven primary pros and cons of using a 401(k). You’ll learn some lesser-known benefits and get tips to save quickly so you have plenty of money when you’re ready to kick back and enjoy retirement.

What is a 401(k) retirement plan?

Traditional retirement accounts give you an immediate benefit by making contributions on a pre-tax basis.

A 401(k) is a type of retirement plan that can be offered by an employer. And if you’re self-employed with no employees, you can have a similar account called a solo 401(k). These accounts allow you to contribute a portion of your paycheck or self-employment income and choose various savings and investment options such as CDs, stock funds, bond funds, and money market funds, to accelerate your account growth.

Traditional retirement accounts give you an immediate benefit by making contributions on a pre-tax basis, which reduces your annual taxable income and your tax liability. You defer paying income tax on contributions and account earnings until you take withdrawals in the future.

Roth retirement accounts require you to pay tax upfront on your contributions. However, your future withdrawals of contributions and investment earnings are entirely tax-free. A Roth 401(k) or 403(b) is similar to a Roth IRA; however, unlike a Roth IRA there isn’t an income limit to qualify. That means even high earners can participate in a Roth at work and reap the benefits.

RELATED: How the COVID-19 CARES Act Affects Your Retirement

Pros of investing in a 401(k) retirement plan at work

When I was in my 20s and started my first job that offered a 401(k), I didn’t enroll in it. I was nervous about having investments with an employer because I didn’t understand what would happen if I left the company, or it went out of business.

I want to put your mind at ease about using a 401(k) because there are many more advantages than disadvantages.

I want to put your mind at ease about using a 401(k) because there are many more advantages than disadvantages. Here are four primary pros for using a retirement plan at work.

1. Having federal legal protection

Qualified workplace retirement plans are protected by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), a federal law. It sets minimum standards for employers that offer retirement plans, and the administrators who manage them.

ERISA offers workplace retirement plans a powerful but lesser-known benefit—protection from creditors.

ERISA was enacted to protect your and your beneficiaries’ interests in workplace retirement plans. Here are some of the protections they give you:

  • Disclosure of important facts about your plan features and funding 
  • A claims and appeals process to get your benefits from a plan 
  • Right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty if the plan is mismanaged 
  • Payment of certain benefits if you lose your job or a plan gets terminated

Additionally, ERISA offers workplace retirement plans a powerful but lesser-known benefit—protection from creditors. Let’s say you have money in a qualified account but lose your job and can’t pay your car loan. If the car lender gets a judgment against you, they can attempt to get repayment from you in various ways, but not by tapping your 401(k) or 403(b). There are exceptions when an ERISA plan is at risk, such as when you owe federal tax debts, criminal penalties, or an ex-spouse under a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. 

When you leave an employer, you have the option to take your vested retirement funds with you. You can do a tax-free rollover to a new employer's retirement plan or into your own IRA. However, be aware that depending on your home state, assets in an IRA may not have the same legal protections as a workplace plan.

RELATED: 5 Options for Your Retirement Account When Leaving a Job

2. Getting matching funds

Many employers that offer a retirement plan also pay matching contributions. Those are additional funds that boost your account value.

Always set your 401(k) contributions to maximize an employer’s match so you never leave easy money on the table.

For example, your company might match 100% of what you contribute to your retirement plan up to 3% of your income. If you earn $50,000 per year and contribute 3% or $1,500, your employer would also contribute $1,500 on your behalf. You’d have $3,000 in total contributions and receive a 100% return on your $1,500 investment, which is fantastic!

Always set your 401(k) contributions to maximize an employer’s match, so you never leave easy money on the table.

3. Having a high annual contribution limit

Once you contribute enough to take advantage of any 401(k) matching, consider setting your sights higher by raising your savings rate every year. For 2021, the allowable limit remains $19,500, or $26,000 if you’re over age 50. A good rule of thumb is to save at least 10% to 15% of your gross income for retirement.

Most retirement plans have an automatic escalation feature that kicks up your contribution percentage at the beginning of each year. You might set it to increase your contributions by 1% per year until you reach 15%. That’s a simple way to set yourself up for a happy and secure retirement.

4. Getting free investing advice

After you enroll in a workplace retirement plan, you must choose from a menu of savings and investment options. Most plan providers are major brokerages (such as Fidelity or Vanguard) and have helpful resources, such as online assessments and free advisors. Take advantage of the opportunity to get customized advice for choosing the best investments for your financial situation, age, and risk tolerance.

In general, the more time you have until retirement, or the higher your risk tolerance, the more stock funds you should own. Likewise, having less time or a low tolerance for risk means you should own more conservative and stable investments, such as bonds or money market funds.

RELATED: A Beginner's Guide to Investing in Stocks

Cons of investing in a 401(k) retirement plan at work

While there are terrific advantages of investing in a retirement plan at work, here are three cons to consider.

1. You may have limited investment options

Compared to other types of retirement accounts, such as an IRA, or a taxable brokerage account, your 401(k) or 403 (b) may have fewer investment options. You won’t find any exotic choices, just basic asset classes, including stock, bond, and cash funds.

However, having a limited investment menu streamlines your investment choices and minimizes complexity.

2. You may have higher account fees

Due to the administrative responsibilities required by employer-sponsored retirement plans, they may charge high fees. And as a plan participant, you have little control over the fees you must pay.

One way to keep your workplace retirement account fees as low as possible is selecting low-cost index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) when possible.

One way to keep your workplace retirement account fees as low as possible is selecting low-cost index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) when possible.

3.  You must pay fees on early withdrawals

One of the inherent disadvantages of putting money in a retirement account is that you’re typically penalized 10% for early withdrawals before the official retirement age of 59½. Plus, you typically can’t tap a 401(k) or 403(b) unless you have a qualifying hardship. That discourages participants from tapping accounts, so they keep growing.

The takeaway is that you should only contribute funds to a retirement account that you won’t need for everyday living expenses. If you avoid expensive early withdrawals, the advantages of using a workplace retirement account far outweigh the downsides.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

6 Reasons to Try the FIRE Movement

The idea behind FIRE is if you can earn more money, live on less, and save and invest the rest, you can cut years — or even decades — 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 — no matter what anyone says, it would’ve been a lot harder to get excited about FIRE in 2008 when the Dow dropped by 33.84%!

Achieving FIRE and retiring early sounds good in theory, but it’s actually very hard to execute in a real-world sense. But here’s 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 I’ve become more interested in financial independence, I’ve learned that there are side benefits to cutting expenses and learning to save money and invest more. Some advantages to FIRE don’t even have anything to do with money at all.

If you’re 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 Hyatt’s book, Living Forward, its concept of “drifting” stuck with me. Drifting occurs any time you’re going through the motions in life, but living without any concrete plans or goals. 

Maybe you’re going to work every day, taking care of your kids, and keeping up with bills. But in these day-to-day tasks, you’re not actively achieving anything in particular. 

You’re just waking up and getting by.

With the FIRE movement though, you learn to live with intentionality because you’re forced to focus on your spending, and the specific goals necessary to reach financial independence. 

As you pursue FIRE, you can’t 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 you’re 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 it’s actionable and intentional today.

2. Feels More Financially Secure

Here’s another potential side benefit of pursuing FIRE — 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 it’s 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 “very confident” about reaching their financial goals.

If you’ve ever felt helpless about your finances before, then this probably makes total sense. Having a plan provides some comfort — even if you are far away from your goal. At least you’re working toward something, and that provides peace of mind. 

3. Forces You to Take Control

I don’t always agree with everything Dave Ramsey says, but I do love some of his best quotes. One example is:

“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” — Dave Ramsey

The point I’m making is that, if you don’t ask yourself important, uncomfortable questions, you might never get control of your finances — or your life. 

Think about it this way. If you’re drifting through life and spending money without really saving for a goal, you’re 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, you’ll 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 that’s in their control is their spending. The other side of that coin is, of course, how much you’re 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 you’ve 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 you’ll 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. 

You’re also forced to think about your income and your financial situation in a brand new way. This includes questions, like “How much are you actually earning?” and “How much interest are you paying toward debt every month?”

As a financial advisor, I can tell you for sure that a lot of people don’t know the answer to any of these questions because they’ve 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. We’d sit down to look over our bills, and were shocked by some of our ongoing expenses and subscriptions. 

These budgeting “meetings” 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 it’s an important part of pursuing FIRE — especially at first. After all, you can’t really work toward major financial goals if you have no idea where your money is going every month. 

And, the thing is, you can’t 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 I’ve 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, there’s one more major benefit of FIRE that goes largely ignored. I’m going to call it the “contentment factor”. It’s the ability to be content with what you have. 

Everything involved with FIRE — tracking your spending, cutting things you don’t care about, creating long-term goals — 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. That’s 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:

“Be 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.” ―

Oprah Winfrey

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 don’t 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 isn’t worth it, and that any “friend” who judges your car probably isn’t a good one. 

Learning about FIRE makes you ask yourself all of these questions, and sometimes, that’s all it takes to realize how good you have it.

Garth Brooks once said that “you aren’t wealthy until you have something money can’t buy.” 

And perhaps that’s the greatest benefit of pursuing FIRE. You learn that happiness and true contentment comes from within. And that, my friends, is priceless.

The post 6 Reasons to Try the FIRE Movement appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

Game Changing Mom Life Must Haves!

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!

game changing mom life must haves

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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.

  • Amazon Devices: 
    • 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

mom life must have #1 - family charging station
4 1/2 stars with 4,300 ratings

Hercules Tuff Charging Station

  • charges up to 80% faster!
  • charge six devices at once
  • gift-ready packaging
  • 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

mom life must have #2 - a great handheld vacuum

Black & Decker Max Pivot Handheld Vacuum

  • Lithium battery for strong suction that never fades
  • cordless
  • 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 

mom life must have #5 - safe products for our kiddos - The Honest Company
4 1/2 stars with 4,000 ratings
mom life must have #5 - safe products for our kiddos - The Honest Company
4 1/2 stars with 3,500 ratings
mom life must have #5 - safe products for our kiddos - The Honest Company
4 1/2 stars with 7,000 ratings

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 is a “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!)

I bought…

  • 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

mom life must have #6 - the best in car seat safety
Britax B-Safe Infant Car Seat
5 stars with 1,800 ratings
mom life must have #6 - the best in car seat safety
Britax Boulevard ClickTight convertible
4 1/2 stars with 3,300 ratings

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

mom life must have #7 car snacks - packaged nuts
4 1/2 stars with 2,000 ratings
mom life must have #7 car snacks - whole grain fig bar
5 stars with 76 ratings

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

mom life must have #9 - a good protein powder
4 1/2 stars with 800+ ratings

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
  • delicious! (truth!)

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.

Ugh. Fail.  

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

Then either…

  • 1/3 can pumpkin puree with 1 tsp of pumpkin pie seasoning

Or

  • 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

mom life must have #10 - a good water bottle
5 stars with 16,500 ratings for standard mouth
mom life must have #10 - a good water bottle
5 stars with 225 ratings for wide mouth

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

mom life must have #11 - comfy yoga pants
4 1/2 stars with 25,000+ ratings
mom life must have #11 - comfy yoga pants

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

mom life must have #12 - canned wine
4 1/2 stars with 50 ratings

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.

…cricket cricket…

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.

Source: moneyforthemamas.com

5 Rude Awakenings You’ll Experience Moving to the Burbs

rude awakenings you get when you move to the suburbsmonkeybusinessimages/iStock

You moved to the suburbs for a reason. You didn’t go there naively. You knew it would be different. It was clear from the start that you would trading your innovative restaurants, exciting nightlife, and cool cultural attractions for more space and, well, mostly the extra space.

But there are other things you may not see coming. I am here to warn you about the rude awakenings you’ll experience when you leave city living for the burbs.

Some streets don’t have sidewalks

no sidewalks in suburbs
Nice, but where the hell are the sidewalks?

The Odyssey Online

So we’re walking to Trader Joe’s (because we’re still holding out on buying a car), enjoying the springlike weather and sunshine when all of a sudden, we cross the street and boom: no sidewalk. The lawns go right up to the street with no  friendly path to guide our way.

How does this happen? How do you build an entire neighborhood of houses and not include a strip of concrete where people can walk without getting hit by a car? What is happening in these sidewalk-less neighborhoods? Do the kids just never visit one another? Do you walk in the street or on people’s lawns? Regardless, I feel like we’re taking our life in our hands.

It’s a driver’s world and pedestrians had better watch their butts

almost hit by a car
Get outta the street!

GifBin

The mysterious disappearance of sidewalks is just the first sign that you have no business walking around in public. There’s a new world order out here, and we pedestrians are no longer in charge.

In the city, there are so many people walking everywhere the cars have to drive more slowly and carefully. We vastly outnumber drivers, but not so in the suburbs. Drivers don’t expect to see people using their legs to get places. You are a novelty, with your “I’ll just walk the five blocks to the movie theater.” And you’d better be aware of drivers’ unawareness of you or you’ll get mowed down, fast.

panda hit by car
Panda, move!

MemeCenter

It’s nothing personal. It’s just that drivers are totally not expecting you to be out there. You’re like deer to them. They’re driving along and all of a sudden, OMG, person! What the hell is she doing out here, trying to cross the street? Doesn’t she know? It’s a STREET.

You will get lost in the supermarket

lost in grocery store
Where am I, even?

Imgur

They’re huge here. They carry everything, and yet you can’t find anything, partly because you’re spending a half-hour in front of the vast pasta aisle unable to make a choice. Grocery shopping in the suburbs becomes a huge time suck, because you have to cover so much ground to find anything and there are way too many distractions.

justin timberlake supermarket
But there is so much food here!

Giphy

Where are the green onions? Hey, look, fresh guava! Why can’t I find coconut oil anywhere? Oooh, a whole shelf of Sriracha!

The mall will suck you in and make you its own

let's go to the mall
Let’s go to the mall!

Giphy

Enjoy your limited days of being “too cool” for mall shopping, because it’s only a matter of time before you have to replace a broken wine glass. Or you’re just curious and want to indulge in a totally self-conscious ironic afternoon at the mall, as in, “haha, let’s do the mall today, stroll under the artificial lighting, and see what’s 40% off at Banana Republic.” (Answer: everything.) Because the trajectory beam of the mall will draw you in, sooner or later. And you’ll kind of like it, because all the stores are there and you have your Godiva right across from your Teavana. And then you’ll hate yourself for liking it. But you’ll go anyway, again and again. Who are you, anymore? Shh, shh, baby. It’s all right. There’s a sale on hurricane lamps at Crate & Barrel.

People are so gosh darn nice all the time

hello
Well hello there!

Giphy

Prepare yourself for this, because it’s going to throw you the first few times and you won’t even know how to respond: The people in your neighborhood may be nice. Like, sincerely friendly and helpful. The office staff at the doctor’s office. The shopkeepers. People who have no business being so nice. What is with all the smiling and hopes that I have a good experience in the waiting room?

fake smile
I can do this smiling thing.

Gifsec

Don’t worry, you’ll adjust to this culture shock. Just surrender to it all. Stop worrying and learn to love the mall, the huge supermarkets, the kindness. Just be really careful crossing the street, OK? All that niceness ends once people get behind the wheel.

The post 5 Rude Awakenings You’ll Experience Moving to the Burbs appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Money-Saving Hacks to Implement Now

Redo your monthly budget (and stick to it)

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.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com