Whether you’re just entering the workforce and kick-starting your retirement savings or cruising toward the finish line and retirement bliss, making the wrong financial move could have a big impact on your future plans.
Just ask Sharon Marchisello. When she was in her twenties, she made a significant retirement savings mistake. She was a social worker for the state of Texas and resented the fact that part of her monthly paycheck went toward the state’s retirement fund. She thought retirement was too far off for her to worry about.
âI quit that job after only two years,” she says, “and since I was not yet vested in the plan, my retirement contributions were returned to me when I left. I promptly spent them on something else.”
That retirement savings mistake meant that Marchisello, now 64, would have to put away more money later in life for her retirement, since she didn’t benefit from compound interest growing her savings throughout her 20s. She was able to recover from that misstep by saving aggressively and consistently later on. She contributed 15 percent of her income to anÂ individual retirement account (IRA) each year and later maxed out all of her potential contributions to her company’s 401(k). Marchisello now blogs at Countdown to Financial Fitness to ensure others don’t fumble their retirement planning the way she didâwhether in their 20s or at any other age.
In order to help keep your retirement savings on track, review these common retirement savings mistakes to avoid by decade:
Your ‘get started’ 20s
Marchisello isn’t the only one to make a retirement savings mistake in her 20s. Ian Atkins, 32, an analyst and staff writer for the online publication Fit Small Business with experience in personal finance, also made some retirement planning mistakes. He thought saving for retirement was something people did once they checked off all the other things on the journey to becoming a financial “grown-up,” like buying a car and a home.
âThis meant that saving for retirement was dependent not on my income,” he says, âbut on some ever-shifting idea of what ‘grown-up’ would look like.”
Atkins ended up waiting until later in his 20s to start saving and thus, like Marchisello, missed out on the benefits of several years of compound interest had he started earlier. Compound interest is what happens when the interest earned on the amount you save starts earning its own interest. The more time you have to save your money, the more compound interest can boost your savings. Without the benefit of compound interest, Atkins had to save more, for longer, to make up for lost time.
This retirement planning mistake is something Marchisello sees all of the time among 20-somethings. Some, she believes, aren’t focused on saving for retirement because they are determined to pay off student loans and start a family first. While certainly important priorities for many at this point in life, so too is allowing as much time as possible for your retirement fund to grow.
âThe earlier you start, the easier it is to build a sizable nest egg,” she says.
Many millennials may not be signing up for their company’s 401(k) plans when they aren’t auto-enrolled, and some may not be contributing the recommended percentage of their income to the plan. Not contributing to your 401(k) in your twenties might also mean that you miss out on matching money from your employer. Many millennials may also not be fully taking advantage of their company’s matching contributions. Add this to your list of retirement savings mistakes to avoid. Why turn down matching money?
While you might feel older, wiser and more mature when you hit your 30s, you may still be making some retirement planning mistakes.
Atkins thinks the biggest retirement savings mistake made by people in their 30s is contributing just a small amount toward their retirement.
âThey think if they are making some contributions to a 401(k), they’re fine,” he says. But, depending on your retirement dreams and the amount that you’re contributing, that might not be enough.
To stay clear of this retirement savings mistake, Atkins suggests maxing out your 401(k) contributions. For the 2020 tax year, the IRS set a $19,500 maximum 401(k) contribution limit (those 50 and older are eligible for catch-up contributions of an additional $6,500). You can also consider looking into other savings vehicles that offer tax incentives. Those could include IRAs and a health savings account (HSA), which allow you to put away pre-tax money.
Another retirement savings mistake to avoid is being too conservative in your investment strategy in your 30s. Many people see this as a time when you can take more investment chances in order to benefit from the increased growth potential of riskier stocks.
âWhen you’re in your 30s,” Marchisello says, “you still have many years ahead to recover from market downturns.”
Your ‘get serious’ 40s and 50s
People in their 40s and 50s who have fallen behind on their retirement savings often make the retirement savings mistake of letting their worries get the best of them, Atkins says. Rather than starting early with a slow, consistent and reliable approach to saving for retirement, they become desperate to catch up. Like the hare that sprints to catch up to the tortoise at the end of the race after procrastinating for most of it, some may run out of time.
Marchisello agrees. âPeople in their 40s and 50s,” she says, âmight try to take shortcuts and invest too aggressively to make up for not having saved enough.”
But as you age, you have less time to correct for market downturns. So, if you use an aggressive strategy, you could risk losing savings without the chance for recovery. Instead, this is the period during which you might want to consider slowly shifting your assets into more conservative investments, Marchisello says.
Other retirement savings mistakes to avoid include going into too much debt, either by taking on student loans for children or an outsized mortgage, or taking money out of retirement accounts to pay for major expenses like children’s weddings, college, unexpected bills and renovations projects. This may trigger early withdrawal penalties and taxes and could diminish your retirement account’s value, even if you pay the amount back. That’s because you will have missed out, again, on the compound interest the money you withdrew might have earned.
âThis setback could erase much of their effort,” Marchisello says.
Your ‘now or never’ 60s
One of the biggest retirement savings mistakes to avoid in your 60s? Marchisello often sees people file for Social Security as soon as they’re eligible to start receiving retirement benefits at age 62.
âYou’re better off waiting until you reach full retirement age,” she says, âbecause your benefit checks will be larger. If you can wait until age 70, even better.” According to the Social Security Administration, in 2020, full retirement age for those born between 1943 and 1954 is 66.
Meanwhile, a common retirement savings mistake that Atkins sees people in their 60s make is not cutting back on their expenses as they get ready for retirement.
âAdjusting your living expenses to better align with your available savings,” says Atkins, “is not something that should be ignored.”
He suggests that you consider more drastic moves like downsizing to a smaller house or moving to a place with a lower cost of living. But, if you can’tâor don’t want toâdo that then it’s important to reduce other expenses. That might mean cutting back on travel, getting rid of a second car or decreasing how much you spend on dining out and entertainment.
âThe realization that you need to make changes in order to enjoy a comfortable retirement actually puts you ahead of most folks. Now itâs time for you to steadily build on that lead.â
You can recover from retirement planning mistakes
Even if you’ve made one or more retirement planning mistakes, it’s important to know that it’s not the end of the world. After all, Marchisello was able to recover from her missteps and now says she has enough to cover her daily expenses and any medical problems she may encounter. She’s also able to travel throughout her retirement.
If you do find yourself behind, Atkins believes you shouldn’t spend your time worrying.
âThe realization that you need to make changes in order to enjoy a comfortable retirement actually puts you ahead of most folks,” he says. âNow it’s time for you to steadily build on that lead.”
You can do that by starting to save immediately, or by putting a larger percentage of your salary in your retirement accounts.
“The goal isn’t to become the hare,” Atkins says. “It’s to become the tortoise as soon as possible.”
Articles may contain information from third-parties. The inclusion of such information does not imply an affiliation with the bank or bank sponsorship, endorsement, or verification regarding the third-party or information.
The post From Your 20s Through Your 60s: Retirement Savings Mistakes to Avoid appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Eviction may soon become a reality for millions of American renters.
In March, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act prohibited landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent in homes with federally backed mortgages. But this program ended on July 24.
As a result, an estimated 20% of the 110 million Americans who rent their homes are at risk for eviction by Sept. 30, according to a report by the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, a group of economic researchers and legal experts working to better understand the housing, homeless, and community recovery during the pandemic.
âWe anticipate a flood of evictions because many tenants wonât be able to pay the back rent, and it will be due,â says Deborah Thrope, deputy director at the National Housing Law Project, a housing and legal advocacy nonprofit.
âThe eviction moratorium is simply a pause. It’s not rent cancelation,â Thrope says.
But even if you’re struggling to pay rent, this doesn’t mean an eviction is your only choice. Hereâs an overview of some of the steps you can take to fight an eviction.
Talk to your landlord ASAP
âThe best advice I can give tenants when their financial situation starts to deteriorate is to communicate with your landlord,â says Marina Vaamonde, a real estate investor in Houston and founder of HouseCashin. âTheir willingness to have a discussion is the only way tenants can come to a resolution without going to court.â
According to a recent survey of landlords by the American Apartment Owners Association, 67% said they would be willing to offer tenants a rent deferment if they needed it.
So if you know you canât make your next rent payment, reach out to your landlord as soon as possible. Waiting until after you get an eviction notice may be too late, and your landlord may be less likely to work with you. Your landlord could also already be in the process of filing the eviction with the court, and have paid fees to do so, which may make him more likely to follow through.
âThere are a number of things you can negotiate with your landlord,â Thrope says. Some options to consider include a rent repayment agreement, shortening the terms of your lease, or possibly getting out of your lease altogether.
Learn how COVID-19 moratoriums apply to you
Eviction laws vary drastically across the country at the state and even city level, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it all even more complicated. Along with the CARES Act eviction moratorium, states and municipalities issued their own mandates to pause evictions. So make sure to read up on the eviction laws in your area specifically to better understand what your landlord is legally allowed and not allowed to do.
âOnce you understand your legal rights, youâll know your options,â Thrope says. âWe have this patchwork of policy all across the country right now, so it’s important to know the local law and tenant protections.â
One resource for finding out the statutes of local eviction laws is the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, which created a nationwide database. The group has also developed a state-by-state COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard, tracking statesâ responses to evictions and during the pandemic.
NHLP also has local and national online resources for renters and homeowners during the pandemic.
Make sure your landlord gives you adequate notice
Landlords usually have the legal right to evict tenants for not paying rent, violating a lease, causing damage to the property, or engaging in illegal activity at the home.
Most states require landlords to give an adequate notice of eviction with a deadline to pay rent or move out and the amount owed. If you donât meet the deadline, the landlord can file a lawsuit to evict you.
But if landlords donât provide adequate notice of eviction, Vaamonde says a judge will often throw out the case.
In Texas, for example, landlords must provide an official three-day notice to vacate the property with the reason for the eviction, and can file an eviction hearing with the court if the tenant doesnât respond or move out.
Landlords are also prohibited from taking extreme actions during the eviction process, like changing the locks or cutting off utilities.
Attend your eviction hearing
After being closed because of the pandemic, eviction courts are beginning to reopen across the country, and are moving cases through quickly to clear up the backlog of evictions.
If your landlord files for an eviction in court, you will receive a notice to appear for the hearing. Itâs important to show up, especially if you hope to fight the case. You have the right to examine and present evidence and bring witnesses, Thrope says.
âShowing up to the eviction hearing at the courthouse is the only way to receive some form of leniency,â Vaamonde says. âIf the landlord wants you out of his property, the judge is the only one with the authority to defer your eviction.â
Since the pandemic has made showing up to court more difficult and dangerous, many proceedings are being held virtually, with tenants expected to appear by phone or videoconference. This may be easier for some tenants, but Thrope says in other cases, it can interfere with due process for some tenants who may not have access to the technology. It also makes it more difficult to look over evidence or converse with attorneys. Make sure you know when, where, and how you’re supposed to show up in court to make sure you do what you can to present your case.
âWe hope that courts understand that this is a public health crisis, and that people sheltering in their homes is one of the remedies,â Thrope says. âTo put people on the street right now is only going to exacerbate this crisis, so we hope courts will do the right thing.â
Consult an attorney
Fighting an eviction alone is overwhelming for many tenants since the process is so complex. Thrope urges tenants facing eviction to hire an attorney or contact local legal aid organizations.
âReach out for legal assistance,â she says. âThatâs really important because you need to understand what protections you can avail yourself locally.â
A lawyer can help explain whether youâre protected by the CARES Act or other local mandate, as well as how regular eviction laws apply in your situation and what exactly you need to do to fight an eviction.
A lawyer will also help you gather documentation to use as evidence, such as proof of past rent payments or that you lost your job, and any communication that you had with your landlord.
âMost tenants are not represented,â she says. âSome tenants may be savvy enough to [represent themselves], but itâs a legal process. We have the right to counsel, and itâs really critical here.â
The post How To Fight an Eviction During the Coronavirus Pandemic appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
Earlier this year, I published the post Is Being House Poor Limiting You? While no one ever thinks they will fall into being house poor, it does happen to some. Due to this, when asking yourself the question “how much home can I afford,” it’s best to think about ALL of the expenses that go into homeownership.
There are many “hidden” costs that go into homeownership that many do not think about when buying a home. While some homes may seem affordable, there are many factors and expenses to think about.
According to recent data from Zillow:
U.S. homeowners on average spend more than $9,000 per year in hidden homeownership costs and maintenance expenses
U.S. homeowners pay an average of $6,042 per year in unavoidable hidden costs: homeowners insurance, property taxes and utilities
U.S. homeowners pay an average of $3,435 per year in annual optional costs including house cleaning, yard care, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning, and pressure washing.
That’s a lot of extra money each year that many homeowners do not realize that they may need to pay for.
By not knowing about these costs, a person may become stressed due to the amount of debt they may rack up from being house poor. It may also delay retirement, lead to a house being empty (there might be no money left to decorate), and more.
There are things you can do though so that you can make sure you don’t fall into a house poor situation, though. When pondering the question “How much home can I afford,” think about the many tips below.
Add up all of the costs.
Buying a home can easily lead to being house poor if you don’t do enough research. This can limit you because you may be even more house poor than you originally thought.
When some families buy a home, they don’t think about the total cost of homeownership. While you may be able to afford the monthly mortgage payment, you may not be able to afford everything else if you don’t do your research.
Before you say “yes” to a home, I recommend you add up all of the extra costs that you may have to pay for if you decide to buy a specific home.
Other homeownership costs include:
Gas. Many homes run on gas in order to have hot water, to use the stove, and so on.
Electricity. Generally, the bigger your home then the higher your electricity bill will be.
Sewer. This isn’t super expensive, but it is generally around $30 a month from what I’ve seen.
Trash. This isn’t super expensive either but it does cost money.
Water (and possibly irrigation). Water bills can vary widely. I know many who live in areas where the average water bill is a few hundred each month.
Property taxes. Property taxes can vary widely from town to town. You may find yourself looking at two similar houses with similar price tags, but the property taxes may vary by thousands of dollars annually. That is a LOT of money. While it may seem small when compared to the actual home purchase price, remember that you have to pay property taxes annually and a difference of just $3,600 a year is $300 a month for life.
Home insurance. Home insurance can be cheap in some areas but crazy expensive in others. Don’t forget to look into the cost of earthquake, flood, and hurricane insurance as well as that can add up quickly depending on where you live.
Maintenance and repairs. Even if your home is brand new, you may have to pay for repairs, which is something that many don’t realize. No matter how old your home is, repair and maintenance costs will eventually come into play.
Homeowners association fees. This can also vary widely. You should always see if the house you are interested in is in an HOA because the fees can be high and there may be rules you don’t like as well.
Home furnishings. Furnishing your home can be done cheaply, but I know some who buy huge homes but can’t afford to put anything in them, such as a table, a bed, and so on. Why own a $500,000 house if you don’t have any furniture?
Related: Home Buying Tips You Need To Know Before You Buy
Buy for less than what you are approved for.
Many potential homeowners are approved for home loans that are somewhere around 30% to 35% of their salary before taxes.
That’s a lot of money. This amount is before taxes as well, which means that your actual monthly home payment would be a significant portion of your take-home income each month. Many who buy at the full approval amount cannot afford their homes due to the fact that it is such a significant percentage of what they earn.
If you don’t want to be house poor, then you should make sure to buy a home that is less than what you are approved for. You should also add up all of the costs of owning a home and make sure it is an amount that you are comfortable with.
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Have an emergency fund.
An emergency fund isn’t just to protect you from your job. They also exist to help you in case something goes wrong with your home.
Your roof could spring a leak, a tree may fall on your home, a pipe may burst, there may be an electrical problem and more. Homes have many things that go into them and you never know if something may need to be fixed.
By having an emergency fund, you will have a fund that will help you if something were to go wrong. It will be you be more prepared so that you don’t have to take on any debt in order to help pay for an expense.
What would you say to someone who asks “How much home can I afford?” Do you know anyone who is house poor?
The post How To Avoid Being House Poor appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
Are you thinking about becoming a cosigner for someone? Have you ever been asked to cosign on a loan before?
Many 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:
Apartment or other type of rental home
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.
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:
That you can trust the person you are cosigning for.
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 Hereâs What You Need To Know About Becoming A Cosigner appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
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.
The idea behind FIRE is if you can earn more money, live on less, and save and invest the rest, you can cut years â or even decades â off of your working career. Of course, the FIRE movement has its problems.
Not everyone can save 50% or more of their income to work toward FIRE. And most who retire early continue working in some capacity to avoid running out of money early. Also, achieving FIRE is considerably easier during times of economic prosperity â no matter what anyone says, it wouldâve been a lot harder to get excited about FIRE in 2008 when the Dow dropped by 33.84%!
Iâve learned that there are benefits to cutting expenses, saving money, and investing more. Some advantages to FIRE donât even have anything to do with money at all.
Achieving FIRE and retiring early sounds good in theory, but itâs actually very hard to execute in a real-world sense. But hereâs why you should try anyway.
6 Reasons FIRE Still Works
But, you know what? I would argue that anyone who can, should at least try to pursue FIRE anyway. As Iâve become more interested in financial independence, Iâve learned that there are side benefits to cutting expenses and learning to save money and invest more. Some advantages to FIRE donât even have anything to do with money at all.
If youâre on the fence about FIRE, here are some of the reasons you might want to change your way of thinking and get on board.
1. Encourages Living With Intention
After reading Michael Hyattâs book, Living Forward, its concept of âdriftingâ stuck with me. Drifting occurs any time youâre going through the motions in life, but living without any concrete plans or goals.
Maybe youâre going to work every day, taking care of your kids, and keeping up with bills. But in these day-to-day tasks, youâre not actively achieving anything in particular.
Youâre just waking up and getting by.
With the FIRE movement though, you learn to live with intentionality because youâre forced to focus on your spending, and the specific goals necessary to reach financial independence.
As you pursue FIRE, you canât simply drift through life in hopes that the numbers work out in your favor. To have enough money to retire early, you need a plan. You have no choice but to set goals, and the act of doing so forces you to get real about how youâre living and what you really want in life.
Are you saving to buy a house? Are you saving to pay for college? Are you saving to retire early? Whatever your goals are, FIRE forces you to reverse engineer your long-term plan so itâs actionable and intentional today.
2. Feels More Financially Secure
Hereâs another potential side benefit of pursuing FIRE â you get the opportunity to feel more secure and sleep better at night. This is something I personally experienced when I started becoming FIRE-minded, but itâs also backed up by research.
In fact, a 2019 survey from Schwab showed that 63% of people with a written financial plan said they felt financially stable, compared to only 28% of those without a financial plan. Further, 56% of people with a financial plan said they felt âvery confidentâ about reaching their financial goals.
If youâve ever felt helpless about your finances before, then this probably makes total sense. Having a plan provides some comfort â even if you are far away from your goal. At least youâre working toward something, and that provides peace of mind.
3. Forces You to Take Control
I donât always agree with everything Dave Ramsey says, but I do love some of his best quotes. One example is:
âYou must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.â â Dave Ramsey
The point Iâm making is that, if you donât ask yourself important, uncomfortable questions, you might never get control of your finances â or your life.
Think about it this way. If youâre drifting through life and spending money without really saving for a goal, youâre at the mercy of your job and outside factors that affect your income and savings. But if you learn to take control of your spending, youâll also learn to take control of your future finances in ways you probably never realized before.
When most people start pursuing FIRE, they realize right away that the biggest part thatâs in their control is their spending. The other side of that coin is, of course, how much youâre able to save.
A recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows the average American set aside 5% to 8% of their income in savings. In contrast, those who pursue FIRE, frequently save 50% to 70% of their incomes toward their goals.
When you find a way to save a large percentage of your income, this means youâve taken control of the reins. You have goals and you have a purpose, and your money is no longer controlling your future. You are.
4. Empowers You with Information
According to a joint study from PwC US and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at the George Washington University, only 24% of millennials demonstrate basic financial literacy. And, even with minimal knowledge of their own, only 27% had sought out professional financial advice.
This is one area where even studying FIRE can leave you dramatically ahead. After all, pursuing FIRE or even reading about it forces empowers you with information about saving and investing for the long haul.
For example, through FIRE youâll randomly learn personal finance lessons like the 4% rule for retirement and how to create a budget. These are cornerstone concepts of the FIRE movement.
Youâre also forced to think about your income and your financial situation in a brand new way. This includes questions, like âHow much are you actually earning?â and âHow much interest are you paying toward debt every month?â
As a financial advisor, I can tell you for sure that a lot of people donât know the answer to any of these questions because theyâve never thought about it before. You wind up learning so much that can help you along the way toward your goal.
5. Learn How to Budget and Question Yourself
I remember back in the day when my wife and I first started getting serious about budgeting. Weâd sit down to look over our bills, and were shocked by some of our ongoing expenses and subscriptions.
These budgeting âmeetingsâ made a big difference in how we worked together to achieve our financial goals. When we sat down to look over our expenses, our income, and where we were headed, we found ways to spend less without affecting our quality of life.
Now, I hate budgeting, but I do think itâs an important part of pursuing FIRE â especially at first. After all, you canât really work toward major financial goals if you have no idea where your money is going every month.
And, the thing is, you canât really argue anything when you start budgeting and tracking your expenses. You get the chance to see where your money went, in black and white, and you get the opportunity to act accordingly. This may sound like a huge buzzkill, but Iâve found that taking control and budgeting is actually really empowering.
Crazily enough, not enough people have any idea how they spend the income they work so hard to earn. In fact, a recent survey from the budgeting app Mint found that 65% of respondents had no idea how much they spent last month.
When you ask someone pursuing FIRE how much they save each month, these people know. In fact, they often know their savings amount down to the penny.
6. FIRE Helps You Be Grateful
Finally, thereâs one more major benefit of FIRE that goes largely ignored. Iâm going to call it the âcontentment factorâ. Itâs the ability to be content with what you have.
Everything involved with FIRE â tracking your spending, cutting things you donât care about, creating long-term goals â can really put your life in perspective for you. It also makes you realize you might have more power over your life than you realized. Thatâs a pretty amazing lesson.
And of course, learning contentment leads to learning how to feel grateful. How amazing is it that, in this broken world we live in, you can earn a living, care for your family, and set aside something for the future? How amazing is it that you have the chance to work hard and retire early, and then spend decades doing whatever it is you love?
This brings me to a quote I love from Oprah:
âBe thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.â â
This is what I love about FIRE; it really encourages you to be grateful and teaches you to be content with what you have. After all, there is no way you could ever save 50% or even 30% of your income without these lessons.
Pursuing FIRE teaches you that you donât need the hottest pair of sneakers, and that you might not need that cable television package you pay for each month. It teaches you that a huge car payment isnât worth it, and that any âfriendâ who judges your car probably isnât a good one.
Learning about FIRE makes you ask yourself all of these questions, and sometimes, thatâs all it takes to realize how good you have it.
Garth Brooks once said that âyou arenât wealthy until you have something money canât buy.â
And perhaps thatâs the greatest benefit of pursuing FIRE. You learn that happiness and true contentment comes from within. And that, my friends, is priceless.
Related: What Is Financial Independence And How Do I Achieve It?
The post 6 Reasons to Try the FIRE Movement appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
As busy moms, we need to cut the time, trim the cost, and lessen the mental load, and here are the mom life must haves to help you do it!
Ugh! You just crossed off two items on your to-do list (yaaa!), and then you immediately added four more on to it! #momlife Seriously, you feel like you’re bailing out a sinking battleship with a sippy cup, and there’s no end in sight. Or so it seems…
Every good General knows you need the right tools & resources to win the war, so it’s time to fill your arsenal with the best mom life must haves! These are the things that will help you triumph over errands, chores, and mealtime! All while helping you feel calmer and happier, settling your racing mind, giving you the space to do what’s most important!
Yes, snuggling your kiddos, kissing on your honey, or maybe hiding in the bathtub for 2.5 hours reading a good book and eating chocolate. Hey, self-care is in, right? So sit tight, and get ready to rock your to-do list!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info
How to be a better mom (by having the right support)
Whoa, that’s a loaded statement! I mean, “be a better mom” implies that you’re doing a bad job now, right? NO! We are all doing the best job we can in the life we have right now. No one wakes up and says, “I want to be mediocre today”! No, we want to do a great job every day. Yet, sometimes, at least for me, I fall short.
Some days I’m exhausted, have too much on my schedule, or run out of brown sugar, so no cookie baking today (true story, huge tears ensued from my 5-year-old). When these days happen more than I would like, I know that I need to sit down and recalibrate. Take stock of the common themes, look for overlapping reasons why the $hit keeps hitting the fan, and then figure out what I need to do to get back on track.
Usually, either I need a mini-vacation (sigh), or I need to check out my tools and see where I need more support and even some tools that I may have forgotten about. I call these my mom life must haves! I’ve rounded up my best tips, tools, and resources on the items that help me be a better mom!
When I say “better mom,” I mean…
less frazzled, more calm
less scatterbrained, more organized
less tired, more energized
less scroungy, more stylish
less last minute, more prepared
less mediocre, more badass!
Being a better mom can mean anything that you want it to mean! Don’t let my own definition put restrictions on your best version of you! You can use my ideas to be a jumping-off point, and then tailor them to your own personality and goals!
Take advantage of Amazon Prime Day for huge savings!
I know that spending money on ourselves is hard. I will convince myself that I don’t really need something, or that the money would be better spent on a new thingamajig for my little one. I don’t know why I feel guilty spending money on myself, I just do sometimes.
One thing that always helps me feel better about spending money on myself is if I get it at a good deal! I love saving money! (yes, I’d save a whole lot more if I didn’t buy “it” at all but sometimes we need something! Especially when that something makes our life better or easier! So that’s why I am super excited about Amazon Prime Day!
What is Amazon Prime Day?
It’s a two day event where Amazon offers up steep discounts on millions of products across all categories! People use this time to stock up for holiday gifting, or to splurge on normally expensive items. If you’re a Prime Member you get early access to some of their deals so if you have been thinking about getting a membership, then now is the time! Don’t forget to snag your free 30 day trial!
When is Prime Day this year?
It’s October 13th & 14th this year, but if you’re a Prime Member you’ll get early access!
I am so happy to say that Amazon will be supporting small businesses this year too (sounds counterintuitive but hear me out). Small Businesses can be a partner shop on their platform, and if you purchase starting now through October 12th, if you purchase $10 worth of items from a participating small business you will get $10 credit to use on Prime Day! Check out all the small business partners here!
Amazon Prime Day Deals
Now the following items aren’t a part of my own person list of mom life must haves, yet so many people swear by these. Starting today, Prime members can shop early offers and deals everyday leading up to Prime Day on October 13 & 14.
Get two Echo Dot devices for $39.98
Fire TV Recast for $129.99 to store up to 75 hours of HD programming.
Save up to $100 on Toshiba 43-inch Smart HD Fire TV Edition TV for $179.99.
Insignia 43-inch Smart 4K UHD Fire TV Edition TV for $199.99;
Save $40 on Echo Show 5
Amazon Music: For just $0.99, Prime members who haven’t yet tried Amazon Music Unlimited can get four months of the premium streaming tier with unlimited access to more than 60 million songs ad-free, and now a wide selection of popular podcasts.
Audible: Prime members can save $50 on a year of Audible Premium Plus. Audible members will also get access to the Plus catalog, featuring more than 10K Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts, all at no additional cost.
Kindle Unlimited: New customers to Kindle Unlimited save 50% off a 6-month subscription.
The main question with Prime Day Deals, is did you want this item before you heard about it on Prime Day? Or did you simply see it and think “ohhhh, shiny!” Remember, it’s only a deal, if you were going to buy it anyway!
Mom life must haves for the home
1. Family charging station
Hercules Tuff Charging Station
charges up to 80% faster!
charge six devices at once
includes 4 Lightning Cables, 1 Type-C Cable, and 1 Micro-USB cable perfectly sized to keep your space organized
This is honestly one of my favorite things, and I’m not usually a gadget person. If my phone isn’t in my hand, I always know where it is, the family charging station is the natural place to put it down, so it’s an easy habit to start. There’s no worrying about your hubby or kiddo walking off with your charging cables! Plus, it makes mealtimes more family-friendly.
We can sit down to a meal without having our phones on the table or in our pockets, where it’s so easy to start scrolling or get sidetracked by notifications!
Time Saved by less distractions and mindless scrolling!
2.A great handheld vacuum
Black & Decker Max Pivot Handheld Vacuum
Lithium battery for strong suction that never fades
4 stars with over 12,000 ratings!
I’m not a Roomba vacuum kind of person, even though the concept sounds great. I don’t trust them I don’t think they’ll do a great job, and I’ve heard the horror stories of them eating cords & carpets. So that means a handheld vacuum, which sounds lame as they don’t usually have a lot of power. Until I found this one, the Black & Decker Pivot! He’s lightweight and super fast to pull out of the pantry for a quick clean up!
Honestly, this vacuum is amazing! I got mine for Christmas 2015. Yes, 5 years ago, and I can still say it’s amazing! It has so much power to it; it vacuums up everything! I’ve only had the battery run out one time; it was when we were moving, and I cleaned the whole house for the entire day. So I don’t blame it
I hate to admit this, but I didn’t know that there was a removable filter that you had to take and shake out for the first two years. Yes, I emptied the chamber, but I didn’t know about the filter. I didn’t notice it, and it still worked great! Shhh… don’t tell anyone how dumb I was!
Besides, you cant lift a Roomba up and vacuum huge spiders off the ceiling like you can with this handheld vacuum! (Just this past week, it was two mornings in a row that I had to climb on the bathroom counter and get ’em!)
Both time & money saved, as it’s very convient for a quick clean and money saved as this is a quality vacuum, and I expect it to last a long time!
3. An Amazon prime membership
This sounds so silly, as everyone must have it by now, right? Nope, they don’t, but it’s such a lifesaver! Every one should find a way to fit this into their budget. It’s $119 a year for an annual subscription or $12.99 a month. But the main question busy mom’s ask is, “Is it worth it?”
“The actual value of Amazon Prime is estimated to be around $784 annually after all of its individual perks and benefits are considered, according to a recent analysis by JPMorgan”, says Business Insider. So the resounding answer is yes! Click here for your 30 day free trial to Prime.
You get free shipping, two-day shipping, movies, free ebooks, music, file storage, and more! Prime members also get extra discounts to Whole Foods and member-only deals.
Plus, there’s Prime Reload, which gives you 2% by linking up your debit card and reloading your “available shopping balance” from there! Saving money without the lure of a credit card is a great option!
Their Subscribe & Save program also offers great perks! You pick out which items you order all the time, like bar soap or diaper pail liners, and you signup to get them regularly delivered to your door; with this you can save up to 15% on these purchases! Amazon Prime Family also offers 20% off diapers and special baby registry benefits!
Don’t forget to look for available Prime Membership discounts:
Prime Discounted Monthly offering is just $5.99/month for qualifying customers with an EBT or Medicaid card
Prime Student has a 6-month trial and then $6.49 a month
Amazon also has their Signature Visa, where you get 3% back at Whole Foods, 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores. 1% back on utilities and all other purchases (see terms & conditions for current details).
Don’t forget you can get a 30-day free trial on all Amazon Prime!
Money saved! You will find great deals on Amazon, but you might need to spend some time digging through reviews and products.
4. Easy & fast dinners
Meal kits certainly aren’t new anymore, so the novelty has worn off. They’re not just for “fun” anymore, but they are a lifesaver! And there are so many different companies you can choose from, meal kits for any diet and lifestyle!
We like EveryPlate, as it’s one of the cheapest out there at $4.99 a serving! Meal kits save me so much time and brain angst (is that even a thing?). But you get me, I mean I would waste so much time trying to figure out what to make for dinners for the week. Then I have to go buy it all, and the prep it. Ugh! My brain hurts just thinking about it!
With EveryPlate, it takes me 12 minutes every month to go into their dashboard and pick my meals. That’s it. The recipes are easy to make, tasty, and I feel good about not serving up a frozen pizza or take out every night.
We have also started trying Dinnerly too. I’m not into blindly following brands, I like to be sure that I am getting the best deal for the best value out there! So of course I am going to try the competition! Dinnerly and Everyplate are similar in cost, program, and quality.
YET, Dinnerly just started offering extra protein portions (in case you want to make a little more). AND, they just started offering desserts too! This next week I signed up to get a caramel apple spice cake and the following week pumpkin pie cheesecake bars! (fall flavored treats are my weakness). Click the here to start making meal time easy (finally!) and treating your family!
Don’t get me wrong, meal kits have their drawbacks, sometimes the cucumber arrives soft, or it’s not enough for my hubs, but overall it’s a great option, and it totally works for us!
We also use our trusty old slow cooker! It’s still great for making a good amount of food that we can use as quick leftover meals throughout the week. Things like chicken fajitas, or three-bean chili, or mac & cheese are great options.
This slow cooker is great as it’s programable for temp & time. Then when it’s done cooking, it switches to warm mode, so you don’t overcook your dinner! It also comes with a temperature probe, so if you’re cooking meats you can be doubly sure it’s fully cooked!
On my wish list is this Instant Pot; I mean, it has 4 1/2 stars with over 100,000 reviews! That’s crazy, right! Besides, any gadget that says it’s perfect for beginners is for me!
Time & money saved! But more so, my sanity as I hated trying to decide what to make for dinner!
Mom life must haves for our kids
So we wouldn’t be busy moms if it wasn’t for our kiddos, right? These things are ones that I love, and have made this crazy journey a lot easier!
5.Honest Company products
So this sounds corny, but I honestly love Honest Products! Actress Jessica Alba started the brand. Honest’s bio page says, “When she couldn’t find one brand to trust for all her everyday needs, she had to create it. And she knew that there had to be others out there looking for safe products, simple solutions, and clear information about their choices, just like her.”
Did I ever tell you that I am a natural skeptic? When someone says their product is safe and uses only the best ingredients, I look to the experts to tell the truth. I use the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep app on my phone all the time for this! I scan the barcode of an item, and it tells me if it’s considered safe by their 3rd party unbiased testing. EWG isa “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.” Their app doesn’t have every product in its database, but they have a lot (mostly in the beauty and cleaning area).
When I am standing in Target and looking for something for my kiddo, I scan all the brands to find the one that is the least toxic, and then I go to Amazon to check out the reviews on that item. If people love it, then I buy it!
I just used it this past month, we stayed at my mom’s house for a few days, and my daughter used their bubble bath; she loved all the bubbles. But a few days later, she broke out in a rash, sure enough, I found it was rated an 8 (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst). Whoops!
So I went to target and scanned a few and settled on The Honest Company’s lavender bubble bath, and it was rated a 1! I bought it, and it worked great (as much as a bubble bath works), the bubbles lasted forever, smelled great, and she loved every second of it! (oh and no rash!)
The Honest Company Truly Calming Lavender Shampoo & Body Wash
The Honest Company Truly Calming Conditioner
The Honest Company Truly Calming Bubble Bath
I feel great about these products as I know they’re safe (peace of mind is priceless), work great, and don’t cost a fortune!
Mental space & time saved! As I don’t wonder anymore (or feel guilty) about knowing that the products I use on her are safe!
6.The best safety in the industry
Along the same vein of keeping our kiddos safe, I researched a lot of items when I was pregnant, and one of the most researched items is a car seat! I finally chose the Britax B-Safe 35 (funny story here), and then when she got older, the Britax Boulevard ClickTight convertible car seat.
I honestly spent way too much time agonizing over the car seat choices. I wanted the best for her without spending a fortune. Yes, Britax is a teeny tiny bit expensive, but a car seat is so important, as a bad car seat can have horrible repercussions!
Anyway, funny story, so I was agonizing over which to choose for weeks. One day, as I watched TV, a clip about Prince William & Kate came on, as they just had their first baby. The TV shot was of them standing at the top of some stairs, walking down and outside to their car. Prince William was holding the car seat, and I recognized the colors (black & red) of the car seat.
I paused it, screenshot it, and zoomed in; sure enough, it was a Britax B-Safe! Within two minutes, I was on Amazon and ordered it! If this was the brand & model that the Royal Family trusted, then this was the one for me! Problem solved, no more worries!
All of their models’ rates very high for safety, their quality is great, and they are easy to use!
Peace of mind! Knowing that I have done everything I can to protect my daughter, while in the car, is important to me!
7. Car Snacks
A busy mom’s best friend is without a doubt her car snacks! Car snacks for the kiddo and absolutely car snacks for us!
Car snacks keep everyone happy, and they keep you out of the drive-through! Oh, and did I mention that when your kiddos are eating the snacks they’re not asking you 459 questions!
I have two go-to’s for this.
Emerald nut mix, variety pack 100 calories packs. Right now, it’s $9.44 for the box of 18 small individual packs. That’s $.52 a pack.
Nature’s Bakery Whole Grain Fig Bar – these are the best, as they don’t harden into rocks when your car has been sitting out in the freezing cold. They don’t melt in the summer, and they don’t crumble and get a mess everywhere! Plus, they’re tasty and not total garbage nutritionally speaking!
Time & money saved, as you’re not stopping for fast food! More importantly, I can say that the magic of car snacks has saved my own personal sanity!
Mom life must haves for ourselves
8.An organized life
If I had to get married again (and not to my husband), I would marry Trello! Seriously, I feel that strongly about this app! If you’re not familiar with Trello, it’s basically a place where you can put your entire life & brain to help keep you organized!
Picture this; it’s like a giant whiteboard with lists and sticky notes, links, files, and images. It’s sharable so you can work with people on projects too! It gives you the big picture and zero’s in on the tiny details. It’s for desktop and mobile, and it’s free! Yup, FREE!
If you have a daily planner or 489 sticky notes, then you have to check out Trello!
If you absolutely love your pen & paper style organizing, then check out my Brain Dump printables! It’s for when you’ve got way too much swirling around in your brain. You lay it all out in formatted sections, and it helps you plan, prioritize & delegate your to-do list!
Time & sanity saved! I don’t forget things nearly as much (but I’m not perfect).
9.A delicious nutritional home run
Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass Fed Clean Whey Protein
vanilla or chocolate flavor
24 grams of protein
no added hormones, sugars, or rbst free, and gluten free
As busy mom’s we’re run ragged sometimes. So much to do, and it’s easy to forget about taking care of ourselves. Or we push it to the back burner, always meaning to get to it later, but never actually doing it.
We know we feel better when we take care of ourselves, yet it’s hard to prioritize yourself over your to-do list (at least I do). So make a promise to yourself to start taking better care of you! For me, that looks like having a healthy smoothie! For you, it could look totally different, and that’s fine!
My favorite protein powder is Garden of Life Whey Protein Powder, I don’t need anything crazy with 78 grams of protein, I just need something to feed my body, without a ton of crazy chemicals. (Yes, I do realize that protein powders are processed, but this is a very well respected brand, and it was recommended to me by super knowledgeable staff at a natural grocery store.)
“We start with what goes IN our products—true, whole food ingredients. But we don’t stop there. We also pay very close attention to what we keep OUT of them. And once again, we look at food—real nutrition food. When is the last time you picked up an apple, turned to read the ingredients, and saw a list of chemicals? If it’s not in your food, then we don’t want it in our supplements. We use third-party (never self-affirmed) certifications to prove we are clean!” (source).
My base recipe…
1 scoop of protein powder
1 frozen banana
1/2 can full-fat coconut milk
2 Tbs chia seeds
1/3 can pumpkin puree with 1 tsp of pumpkin pie seasoning
a handful of frozen mixed berries with 1 tsp of vanilla
These smoothies are a part of 21 Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide, which I did last year! I felt so good about focusing on my health and I plan to do the program again (as life happens, right).
For those of you a little wary of the can of coconut milk, I want you to try it at least once. It’s delicious, and it fills me up all day long! Yes, it has a lot of fat in it, but so many vitamins and nutrients. I’m not a food or weight loss blogger, so I won’t try and convince you of the scientific health benefits.
It’s delicious (truly, I’m not exaggerating), and it makes me feel great, and it’s healthy! That’s good enough for me. Besides, when I make it in my Vitamix, cleaning up is super easy! I just give it a quick rinse in the sink, pour some dish soap in it, fill it with hot water, put it back on the base, and turn it on for 40 seconds! No taking apart pieces and scrubbing it! (of course, if I use dairy, then I do put it through the dishwasher)
Time saved! Smoothies are quick and easy, plus I feel good knowing that I am taking care of myself so that I can have the energy to take care of my daughter and answer her 45,871 questions!
10.Chug Chug Glug
That’s code for drink more water! We all know this; it’s been drummed into our head with 1000 hammers. Yet, it’s still true; we all need to drink more water!
I love my Hydro Flask! It keeps my water cold for FO-EV-ER! It never sweats, I have dropped it a billion times, and it only has one dent (haha). I love the lid with the loop, as I can hang it from my mommy hook on my little one’s stroller. (Mommy hooks are great too, you can hang anything with it!)
My current one I’ve had for two years, and the only reason I needed a new one is I lost my older one, which was at least three years old (my Amazon order history only goes back so many years, I guess). So that ‘a good sign; they last forever! Well worth the price! Plus, they come in super cute colors!
Oh, and did I mention Hydro Flask makes a wine tumbler too! Ha! This might absolutely help me be a better mom!
Money saved, as this water bottle lasts forever! Probably money saved too, as I eat less snacks and less at meal time as I’m well hydrated.
11.A simple cute & comfy style
This is a hard one, as I’m a little bit ashamed of my path to this product. I got to a point where I was getting a bit scroungy; you know sloppy. My sweatpants were old, and the t-shirts were stained. Sexy huh!?!
It was time for a mini mommy wardrobe makeover! I have been reading a lot about minimalism and especially capsule wardrobes, and am in love with the nice, basic simplicity of it! It appeals to me on all levels! Find pieces that fit & flatter, that all go together and stick to it!
So I went through, purged my closet (I got rid of 75% of my clothes), and focused on an inexpensive capsule wardrobe! The base of the collection is these amazing IUGA high waist yoga pants! I got a pair in black, and I love them! With 4 1/2 stars with over 25,000 reviews, they have to be amazing, right? They are! An absolute staple for this mom life must have list!
And they don’t cost a fortune either! Just $25 for this pair! I did buy some nice yoga pants at Target before finding these, but they didn’t come in black). These IUGA pants…
come in 26 colors
inside waistband pocket for keys
hip pocket for phone
aren’t see through (whew!)
30 day money back love it guarantee
Time & sanity saved! As I don’t stare blankly at my closet for 12 minutes every am, wondering what to wear, of if it will look okay! It’s a quick scan the closet, grab the pants and it’s go time!
12.Survival in a can
If I didn’t mention my absolute favorite must have for moms, I would be doing you a disservice. I would also be hiding the real me. I don’t want to do that, as that’s lame. So my favorite mom life must have is canned wine.
Let me explain. I love canned wine. I really do. I like wine, but I don’t like opening a whole bottle of it. If I drank a whole bottle, that’s bad news. Yes, I could put a stopper in a bottle and save it. But my favorite one is The Bubbles, a sparkling white wine (kind of like a Pinot Gris). So if I used a stopper, the bubbles wouldn’t be as amazing a few days later.
A can size is perfect, usually consumed over two nights. And then I don’t have to worry about it going bad, or feeling like I need to drink more than I should, just because I don’t want to “waste” a bottle.
Besides, canned wine is coming up in quality and popularity! It’s not like those jugs you see at discount grocery stores for $4.99. Trust me; it’s delicious!
The Bubbles is my favorite, and you can get it from Whole Foods through Amazon Prime delivery! Plus, add a snack tray and a heavenly chocolate bar from WF, and you’re set! This is my perfect meal for a relaxing evening on my own!
I wish that I could say that this saved me time or money. But this is just something that makes me happy!
At the end of the day
As busy moms, we have our hands full, not to mention our brains! We need all the help we can get, and I am not too proud to accept help from great tools and resources! These mom life must haves help me be a better mom by taking away the unnecessary, automating what can be, and making me feel better in my skin, my mind, and in my heart!
Posts related to mom life must haves:
The Secret Formula for Getting the Best Gift for Mom
Want to be a Stay at Home Mom? Read This First!
Mamas Talk Money Goals!
What’s your mom life must have item? Let me know in the comments below!
The post Game Changing Mom Life Must Haves! appeared first on Money for the Mamas.
The time off work spent with a newborn is one of the most memorable times in a parentâs life. Like any other major life event, financial planning is crucial to make the experience as stress-free as possible. Saving for maternity leave takes strategic financial preparation, especially in the United States where there isnât a mandate on paid leave for new parents. Although women are still outnumbering men when it comes to taking parental leave, paternity leave is also on the rise.
Saving for maternity leave (or paternity leave) doesnât have to be a grueling process as long as you plan ahead. Rather than stressing about finding additional sources of income, itâs helpful to start by finding areas where you can save. With so many unpredictable factors affecting our daily lives, it helps to get as detailed as possible with your plan.
Below, weâve outlined some of the best ways to stay on track financially while saving for maternity leave.
10 Tips for Saving for Maternity Leave
Check In With HR
As soon as you plan to notify your workplace of your pregnancy, stop by your HR department to clarify parental leave policies. These policies include health insurance, using vacation and paid time off as part of your leave, collecting partial payment for maternity leave, and claiming short-term disability.
Your HR department might also help you maximize a flexible spending account (FSA), which will allow you to devote more pre-tax dollars to upcoming medical and child care expenses. Confirm what your insurance policy covers in regards to the duration of hospital stays, prescription drugs, medical materials, and how long the baby will be covered under your policy after birth. After clarifying the details with HR, youâll want to discuss your upcoming maternity or paternity leave with your supervisor and coworkers too.
Take Charge of Your Spending
If you donât actively stick to and monitor your budget, now is the time to start. For at least 30 days, track everything you and other family members spend to get a clear idea of where your money goes each month. Pick a time for a biweekly family financial meeting to maintain your progress.
Successful saving is about defining a realistic plan of action with all parties who spend and generate income in your household. Saving for maternity leave is all about determining what your income and expenses will look like when youâre out of work and caring for baby, at least to the extent that you can reasonably project them.
Crunch the Numbers to Maximize Your Budget
Too many families saving for maternity leave rely heavily on estimates rather than doing the math to figure out specifics. Be sure to project your monthly income during maternity leave.
Factor in payouts you will receive for any partially paid maternity leave by your employer, unused vacation days, and any other extra income you plan on generating by freelancing or working part-time. Then, subtract your maternity leave income from your expenses. If itâs negative, then that figure is the absolute minimum youâll need to save for each month you wonât be working when the baby arrives.
When you make the time to specifically predict your budget, you eliminate the confusion and stress that comes with unforeseen expenses. Don’t forget to also account for spending changes that happen after the baby arrives. Baby supplies and gear can get expensive quite fast. Plus, you might find yourself spending more on takeout and outsourcing cleaning or errands as youâll have less time on your hands with a demanding newborn.
Automate Your Savings
When it comes to automating your savings, the concept is simple: If you never see the money, you wonât be tempted to spend it. Establish an automatic savings plan through your bank that will automatically transfer money from checking into savings.
Another option is contacting your employer to have a portion of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings account each payday. Using a budgeting app that allows you to see how much youâre stashing away in real-time also helps.
Make Couponing a Family Activity
Savings can really add up by recognizing opportunities to capture low hanging fruit opportunities like couponing. There are a ton of free online couponing sites, but donât miss out on old fashioned couponing and start a binder or folder as well. Be sure you donât negate your hard work couponing by splurging.
Try to reduce all non-essential expenses in your budget and dedicate that money to your savings account instead. If you get a tax return or bonus, skip buying the fancy crib and put it right into savings. By connecting with family members, friends, and neighbors you can take advantage of gently used baby items to save cash. Also, it canât hurt to see if there is a second-hand store in your area specifically for baby clothes and supplies, like Once Upon a Child.
Get a Credit Card That Helps You Save
Although itâs important to be wise with your credit card usage, your credit card spending can help you with your budgeting goals. Depending on your stage of life, certain credit card choices might make more sense than others.
As a reminder, no matter which card you use, always use the same best practices to increase your credit score. For example, make an effort to keep your utilization low and always pay your bill on time. After all, making payments late can have the biggest negative impact on your credit score.
Choose a Bank that Helps Your Financial Goals
Stick to accounts that are free of balance requirements and fees, and compare rates at local banks and credit unions. Remember, smaller financial institutions sometimes offer more competitive rates than major banks, so donât be afraid to do some shopping around.
If youâre comfortable banking online only, some online banks offer very competitive rates. For example, a high yield savings account will help your money work for you as youâre saving for maternity leave.
Take Advantage of Family-Specific Discounts and Tax Credits
With a little research, youâll likely find a wide array of discount programs and free resources for expectant parents. Donât forget to take advantage of tax credits, too.
For example, you may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit for the year your baby was born (depending on the time of birth), deduct qualifying child care expenses, and contributions to a College 529 savings plan. All of these will reduce your taxable income, leaving more money in your pocket.
Plan to Keep Your Professional Skills Sharp
There are certain realities about taking extended time off from work for parental leave that are inevitable. The time away from your job could cause you to feel out of the loop or more stressed when you return.
Taking some time during your parental leave to maintain key skills or read up on company/industry news could help you maintain job security (and therefore financial security) when you get back to work.
Avoid the Baby Registry Trap
Baby registries are big business and can be big budget busters. Only register for the items that truly need to be brand new and reach out to friends, family, and consignment stores for gently used items before you splurge on a registry.
From financial coverage for maternity leave to childcare costs, increased medical expenses, and college savings accounts, thereâs bound to be a lot on your mind. Fortunately, youâre not on this parenting journey alone. There are plenty of families making it work with lean budgets who are stressing less by following tips like the ones weâve compiled in this graphic below:
budget that works for you.
Make a game plan and take advantage of resources as youâre prepping for parental leave. Keeping your finances in check while spending time away from work undoubtedly provides a sense of reassurance. Take control of your budgeting goals and get creative with new ways to generate income and save money.
Sources: National Partnership | US Census | CBS
The post Saving for Maternity Leave: How to Financially Prepare Your Family appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Flipping a house is a lot of work, and can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our new series “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped make a house desirable to buyers.
Oklahoma City is an alluring place for home buyers these days. Its cost of living is low, there are plenty of opportunities for work and play, and you get the pace of city life with the quiet of the country nearby.
With a median listing price of $225,000, Oklahoma City is certainly a place to score a sizable single-family home for a reasonable chunk of cash, but finding an age-old property with good bones is a challenge. So when our flippers stumbled upon this four-bedroom, three-bathroom home from the early 1900sâin one of the city’s most prestigious and historic neighborhoodsâthey jumped.
Sure, the home wasn’t exactly in great shape, but that’s where the flip comes in. This old home went from drab and dusty to absolutely fabulous. It was purchased in July 2018 for $325,000, and in September 2019 it was sold again, for $642,000. The sellers doubled their money in just over a yearâa result that any flipper could hope for.
So what made this such a successful flip? We turned to our experts to uncover the winning design and home improvement moves.
The living room is often the first space buyers see when they enter the home, so bringing this room up to date was key. The original room felt dark, dirty, and cramped, so the sellers had a big project on their hands.
“Lighting is key to this room,” says Malissa Kelsch, real estate adviser with Red Rock Real Estate. “Removal of window coverings and additional can lights deliver a distinctive sensation of relaxation.”
“They resurfaced the walls, which was a great choice to make the walls feel like new construction,” adds architect and interior designer Alondra Alberti. “The light paint and blond floor stain showcase how large the space actually is.”
But one of the most impactful changes was simply the removal of the accordion doors leading to the kitchen.
“The living room seamlessly flows into the kitchen to make it a perfect home for entertaining,” adds real estate agent Sarah Bernard. “This is the open, bright look that buyers today are demanding in new construction, so to renovate with this in mind makes lots of sense.”
Previously, the home office looks like a strange afterthought. The flip transformed it into a gorgeous, usable room.
“Home offices are one of the most sought-after spaces in our current climate of working and teaching kids remotely,” says Bernard. “The new floor, lighting, and open, sleek modern space with windows make this a strong selling point for busy buyers.”
“The hardwood floors throughout facilitate the visual flow between spaces, creating a more harmonious relationship between the office and the rest of the house,” says Alberti. “I also love the contrast of the black-matte stair raisers and wooden handrails. It provides a sophisticated rustic appeal that a lot of buyers look for in a home.”
“It looked like a sad little kitchen crying in the corner,” Alberti says of the pre-renovation space. But the flip made a huge difference in this all-important room.
“They have repositioned and expanded the kitchen, creating an open concept tied in by a beautiful, massive island that not only provides contrast but also bar seating,” Alberti explains. “They did a great job combining different materials and textures. … It’s a design risk that elevates the home.”
Kelsch says the new kitchen is definitely more appealing to potential buyers.
“Additional usable counter space, storage, and lighting make this a desirable kitchen and a ‘wow’ feature in the home,” she says.
The old bathroom in this home was like a walk back in time, but not in a good way.
“The wallpaper and the top-and-bottom built-in cabinets made the space feel enclosed and restricted,” says Alberti. “The old shower doors are always a must-goâthey have had their run for far too long.”
The updated bathroom now feels warm and welcoming.
“The shower wall niche was a particularly nice touch because it provides practicality to the user,” adds Alberti. “Those kinds of details are never overlooked by buyers.”
Bernard agrees: “The new, beautiful bath lets in natural light for the tranquility that homeowners want in their bathrooms,” she says. “The updated shower and more functional and modern vanity feel clean and fresh compared to the original.”
From the gray wall-to-wall carpet to the heavy drapes, can we all just agree that the old bedroom was the stuff of nightmares?
“The new bedroom sheds pounds of darkness that were exhibited in the old carpeting and bulky cabinets,” says Bernard. “The white walls and wonderful new windows are inviting in a room that anyone can envision themselves waking up in. This is a luxury look that buyers in all price ranges desire.”
“This bedroom has had a complete turnaround. The new vaulted ceiling helps make the room feel more spacious, and removing the cabinetry opens up the room,” says Kelsch. “Bringing in as much natural light as possible by taking down dated old drapes and updating furnishings and fixtures will bring top dollar to this house.”
The post What the Flip? A 1909 Family Home Is Fully Restored and Grabs Top Dollar appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
If youâre looking for ways to put some extra cash in your pocket, make sure to take advantage of credit card rewards programs.
Credit card companies and banks make some of their money from the merchant interchange fees that are charged when you use your card.
As an incentive for you to use their cards, many credit card issuers pass some of those funds on to the consumer in the form of credit card rewards.
If you have good credit and the ability and discipline to pay off your credit cards in full each month, you should try to maximize your credit card rewards. Otherwise you may be leaving a lot of money on the table.
But it can be challenging to navigate the world of credit card rewards. Hundreds, if not thousands, of different credit cards exist, and the type and amount of rewards vary with each card.
There are three main kinds of rewards card offers available:
Bank and credit card points: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, etc.
Airline miles and hotel points: Delta SkyMiles, Hilton Honors points, etc.
Cash back: Straight cash that can be redeemed either as statement credits or checks mailed to you.
How to Maximize Your Credit Card Rewards
You have three different ways to maximize any credit card rewards program:
The sign-up bonus or welcome offer: Many cards offer a large number of miles or points as a welcome bonus for signing up and using the card to make purchases totaling a specific amount within a specified time period.
Rewards for spending: Most rewards credit cards offer between one and five points for every dollar you spend on the card. Some cards offer the same rewards on every purchase, while others offer a greater reward for buying certain products.
Perks: Simply having certain credit cards can get you perks like free checked bags on certain airlines, hotel elite status or membership with airline lounge clubs and other retail partners.
Usually, the rewards for signing up are much higher than the rewards you get from ongoing spending, so you may want to pursue sign-up bonuses on multiple credit cards as a way of racking up rewards.
Consider a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, where you can get 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points for spending $4,000 in the first three months of having the card. That means that while youâre meeting that minimum spending requirement, youâre earning 15 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. Compare that to the one or two points youâll earn with each dollar of spending after meeting the minimum spending. You can see the difference.
Other than getting the welcome bonus offers for signing up for new credit cards, another great way to maximize your rewards is by paying attention to bonus categories on your cards. Some cards offer a flat 1 or 2 points for every dollar you spend.
How Applying for Credit Cards Affects Your Credit Score
Itâs important to be aware of how applying for new credit cards affects your credit score.
Your credit score consists of five factors, and one of the largest factors is your credit utilization.
Credit utilization is the percentage of your total available credit that youâre currently using. If you have one credit card with a $10,000 credit limit and you charge $2,000 to that card, then your utilization percentage is 20%. But if you have 10 different cards, each with $10,000 credit limits, then that your credit utilization percentage is only 2%.
Since a lower credit utilization is better, having multiple credit cards can actually help this part of your credit score.
New credit â how recently youâve applied for new credit cards â accounts for about 10% of your credit score. When you apply for a new credit card, your credit score usually will dip 3-5 points. However, if youâre conscientious with your credit card usage, your score will come back up in a few months.
What to Watch Out for When Using Credit Card Rewards
While itâs true that careful use of credit cards can be a boon, you should watch out for pitfalls.
The first thing is to make sure that you have the financial ability, discipline and organization to manage all of your credit cards. Missing payments and paying credit card interest and fees will quickly sap up any rewards you might earn.
Another thing to be aware of is the psychology of credit card rewards. It can be easy to justify additional spending because youâre getting rewards or cash back, but remember that buying something that you donât need in order to get 2% cash back is a waste of 98% of your money.
Credit card rewards are alluring, but what do they really cost? Hereâs what you should know about the dark side of credit card rewards.
The Best Credit Cards to Get Started
Before signing up for a new credit card, itâs best to pay off your existing cards first â otherwise the fees and interest will quickly outweigh any rewards you earn.
If youâre ready to start shopping rewards offers, here are five credit cards to consider. Note that these introductory offers are subject to change:
Chase Sapphire Preferred â The Sapphire Preferred card earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards and currently offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards if you spend $4,000 in the first three months. It comes with a $95 annual fee.
Capital One Venture Rewards â The Capital One Venture Rewards is offering 100,000 Venture miles, which can be used on any airline or at any hotel. It also comes with a $95 annual fee.
Barclays American AAdvantage Aviator Red â With the AAdvantage Aviator Red card, youâll get 50,000 American Airlines miles after paying the $99 annual fee and making only one purchase.
American Express Hilton Honors â If youâre looking for a hotel card, consider the no-fee Hilton Honors card, which comes with a signup bonus of 80,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $1,000 in three months. There is no annual fee.
Bank of America Premium Rewards â The Bank of America Premium Rewards card comes with a bonus of 50,000 Preferred Rewards points (worth $500) after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card has a $95 annual fee.
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The Bottom Line
The best credit card is the one that gets you the rewards that help you do what is most important to you.
If youâre looking to maximize travel credit, then pick an upcoming trip and figure out what airline miles and hotel chain points youâll need. Then pick the credit cards that give those miles and points. If you want to maximize your cash back, look for a card with a good signup bonus that either offers cash back or bank points that can be converted into cash.
Dan Miller is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.