Entries from April 2012 ↓

Financial Planning for Families

Author’s Bio: Val Anne is an in-house writer from Franklin Debt Relief, a company specializing in programs for people with high credit card debt.

It is no secret that families require a different financial plan than single individuals.  However, many people seem to keep their old savings methods after getting married and having kids.  While these methods are still semi-effective, adjusting your financial plan to fit the needs of your family will allow you to save more money and budget more wisely in the long run.

The first thing you should do after getting married or having a child is to re-evaluate your tax status.  This includes the amount of deductions you allow on your W-2, as well as your actually filing status as a single or
married individual.  If you are married, look at the advantages and disadvantages of filing jointly.  Similarly, after having a child, you may wish to change your deduction status on your W-2 to reflect that you now have a dependent to provide for.

Second, purchase quality life and disability insurance for you and your spouse, if married.  During you single years, life insurance was of little priority, however as you grow older and start a family, you have more
people who depend on you, your well-being and your income.

Third, begin working on a family savings plan and a retirement plan. Always remember, that you aren’t getting younger.  Saving for your retirement should become a priority as soon as you begin making an income, but if you have waited until your married years, you should look into more aggressive retirement savings
plans to get you started.  In regards to a family savings plan, consider opening up a savings account or high yield interest bearing account for your family and making deposits into the account on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, depending on how you get paid.  This savings account is best used for family emergencies or unexpected events in your life, but you can also put extra money in it for things like vacation.

Finally, in addition to working on a retirement savings plan and a family emergency fund, you may also want to start thinking about your child’s education fund. A college education is a very large expense in a child’s life and you may wish to help him or her with this investment by putting money away in a savings account or setting up an investing plan such as a 529 to help out.

While these may seem like very basic financial plans for the family, their importance cannot be over stated.  If you are just starting a family or have been recently married, try initiating only one or two financial changes at once.  After you have gotten use to the new financial system, try adding a few more changes if they seem like something that may benefit you.


How does Loan Consolidation Work

Getting into debt can be quite a serious situation. It’s not an uncommon situation however especially in the current climate where most households are feeling the strain of the unstable economy. Debt can come from mortgages, car loans, credit cards, overdrafts, personal loans and other sources as unfortunately lenders often fall over themselves to provide you with credit for their own financial gain. It can become very tricky to manage if you have debt from a number of different sources as direct debits are taken at different times of the month which leave you unsure how much money you have to last you until your next payday. Fortunately, there is practical help at hand.

Having more than one loan to pay off is not only is difficult to manage logically, but the implications of having different debts with different rates of interest means that the cost of the debt soon mounts up because it is more expensive to pay interest on several loans than it is on one loan. Therefore the logical solution is to consolidate your debt. This means combining all of your different loans into one loan which makes it more practical to manage and also cheaper in the long run. Every reputable money expert website or professional will concede this advice.

Debt consolidation loans can be sourced from various places. For example a bank or building society might offer you a debt consolidation loan against your house. This means that you will pay lower interest rates, however it also means that if you fail to meet the loan repayments, you could lose your home. An alternative consolidation loan could be sourced from a payday loans lender. Payday lenders can be sourced via the internet and also on the high street. The great thing about payday loans is that they are quick and easy to apply for and you do not have to answer difficult questions about your financial history or the way you manage your money. The other benefit is that these types of loans are unsecured which means that they are not tied into any of your assets i.e. your house therefore there is no risk of you losing your home. Of course there are drawbacks, the main one being that payday loans generally come with a high rate of interest or ‘APR.’

The best thing to do if you are considering a consolidation loan is to determine your borrowing options and calculate exactly how much it is going to cost to take the loan and make all the repayments in full. Compare this to your current costs of paying back multiple loans with multiple interest rates. Identify which is your cheapest option and make the transaction.

Debt consolidation loans can provide great relief for people who are struggling to manage multiple loans from multiple sources. Research the options available to you from banks, building societies or payday loans lenders and determine which is the cheapest, and best fit solution for your needs.

Laura Susstance is a content writer from London, UK. as well as actively contributing to guest blog posts she also writes on her own website: Fast Payday Loans Review

Free Money – 7 Ways to Save Money without Even Trying

Saving money often means making sacrifices. Fortunately, some sacrifices are easy to make. If you need to cut money out of your budget, start by employing these simple tricks to free up some extra cash without too much suffering.

Make your own cup of coffee. Fancy coffee drinks can cost upwards of $4 a cup, and they’re easy to replicate at home. Invest in high-quality coffee and a few flavored creamers and buy a travel mug or thermos so you can bring your confections to work.

Eat meals made at home. Reserve your eating-out experiences to one relaxing meal a week or less, and focus the rest of your meal expenses on groceries. Make it your goal to try a new recipe each week so you don’t get bored with the same old meals. Not only are home-cooked meals cheaper, they’re also healthier and taste better than most processed restaurant fare.

Dry your clothes out in the backyard. Clothes dryers use quite a bit of electricity. You can save money by washing your clothes in the machine and hanging them out on a clothesline or rack to dry. It’s not only cheaper; it’s better for the environment and is more delicate on clothing, so your clothes will last longer.

Save your loose change. Every time you empty your pockets, put all the excess change into a jar and then don’t touch it. Over time, this money will build up substantially. Once every few months, roll all the loose change and deposit it at the bank.

Cancel your magazine subscriptions. You don’t have to quit all your hobbies, but be selective about which you choose to pay for, and you’ll save money in the long term. Decide what’s most important to you, and cancel your other services. For example, you might decide you don’t need cable if you have Netflix, or you could opt out of a gym membership and work out at home instead.

Clip saving coupons. Coupons aren’t just for groceries; you can use them for discounts on car repairs, pedicures and even tax preparation help. In order to get the most for your money, only use coupons for items you would have bought anyway, and try to combine coupons with sales or other promotions.

Buy used instead of new. Plenty of items, from furniture to books, are just as effective used as new but cost a whole lot less. Try shopping at a used bookstore, consignment store or pawnshop. Just make sure the items you buy are undamaged and in good working order, since most of these shops don’t accept returns.

Once you’ve cut unnecessary expenses, you may need to continue trimming your budget in order to get your finances in line. The extra money you’ve saved from cutting frivolous spending can make it much easier to maintain your budget, and with careful financial planning, you can find space in your budget to enjoy your favorite activities.

Billeater.com offers tons of helpful tips and advice on saving money, saving energy, and finding free money.

What College Students Should Know About Credit Cards Designed for their Demographic

Visit any college campus during a football game or during the first week of school and you will see vendors offering free t-shirts and hats in exchange for a signed credit card application. “But I don’t have a job,” you may hear a student explain to the vendor.

“That’s okay, all we need is a signed application and we’ll look at what we can do for you.”

The student complies, assuming the process is without harm, and goes about her day with a new t-shirt that she will most likely wear only once.

A couple weeks later, a shiny new credit card arrives in the mail. Not wanting to throw it away, she holds on to it, “in case of an emergency.” Being a college student living on loans, excess spending money is limited and there are some clothes she “needs” for a get together this weekend. She pulls out the credit card, swearing that she will pay it off in full when the bill arrives. She will just have to skimp on groceries for the month.

Time flies by and the bill comes sooner than expected. She has 25 days to come up with the money, not only for the clothes she initially purchased, but also for the groceries she could not afford. She writes a check for the minimum amount owed, vowing to pay the remaining balance over time, which is accumulating daily thanks to a 22% rate of interest.

Do credit card companies care if you fail to pay the balance every month? Absolutely not: they profit from it. That is exactly why they target the post-high school demographic so aggressively. It is common to see a 20% interest rate for a student credit card. Capital One’s student card has a 19.8% variable APR (annual percentage rate). This means that it changes with the prime rate.

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, almost 20% of individuals filing for bankruptcy are college students. That is a sad statistic, adding unnecessary financial burden to an already cash-strapped individual. It is possible that because bankruptcy is becoming more common, people fail to realize how it can affect their ability to live the life they expected. A college student who declares bankruptcy will have a difficult time finding housing, getting a car loan, or even choosing a reasonable cell phone provider.

Yes, credit cards are convenient and can be helpful when building credit, but only when used responsibly. The same tool that can help build credit can cause irreversible damage. Many online retailers are making it easier to shop without a credit card by deducting funds directly from a checking account or by using tools such as Paypal.

Plastic spends more easily than cash. When we carry cash in our pockets, we tend to spend less than when we use a credit card. Both students and parents should consider the consequences of using a student credit card before signing for that free t-shirt.

George Gallagher has written for over 30 personal finance and education blogs. His expertise is in the field of student loans where he guides students through the process of comparing student loan consolidation to make sure they are getting the most out of their situation.

Improve Your Financial Skills In A Difficult Economy

During this economically difficult time many people have had to tighten their belts financially. Living from paycheck to paycheck has become the norm as prices escalate and salaries have taken a turn for the worse. Hopefully this has not happened to you, but if it has then it may be time to stretch your dollars in order to pay the bills. Below are some financial skills that are easy to adapt.

Set Up A Budget

There are many free budget software systems available to help set up a budget. If you would rather not use one, try Excel or a paper and pencil. Setting up a budget is easy and will show you where you can cut back to save money. Monthly payments like mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance and a vehicle payment are preset, so it’s easy to see how much money is remaining for other expenses. With what is left, predetermine an amount of money for groceries, entertainment, and miscellaneous expenses. If your expenses exceed your income then it’s time to make cut back your spending.

Familiarize Yourself With Financial Basics

If you aren’t the slightest bit aware of how much interest you are paying in loans and credit cards, you could be wasting thousands of dollars. Educate yourself on the basics of finances, such as interest rates, mortgage rates, and investment types. This form of knowledge goes a long way in determining your financial health and can all be obtained on the internet for free.

Make Better Decisions

Unexpected expenses still arise from time to time. If you find that you have no other option than to open up a line of credit, be sure to compare each company before committing to one. It does not make sense to jeopardize your finances even further due to small setbacks. There are multiple ways that you can access cash ranging from personal loans to payday loans. Find the one that works best for you, as opposed as the easiest to acquire.

Plan Ahead

When setting up a budget, emergency funds should be included. These funds are intended for times when something unexpected occurs, not for leisure. If it’s the middle of summer and your air conditioning has broken, you’ll be very glad you have a bit of saving to tap into. Or even worse, if you should find yourself out of work for a period of time, having extra savings available can keep you on track until you are working again.

Strengthening your financial skills should be an important part of everyone’s life. A good way to start is by planning a budget with careful consideration of your financial needs. However, that budget means nothing if you can’t stick to it. It’s also beneficial to really understand the economy, key financial terms and to avoid making uneducated decisions that negatively affect your finances.

Freelance financial writer Alison Greene blogs for nowaitpaydayloans.co.uk, a site she recommends for those who need payday loans in an emergency.

A Beginner’s Guide to Organizing Coupons

Using coupons is a great way to cut down your grocery budget and save money on items you constantly use. Some people are avid couponers, and they know the ins and outs of every coupon policy at every store, and they have the coupon science down to a T. Others are new to couponing, and they’re still struggling to figure out how it all works.
One of the biggest questions that new couponers often ask is how to organize coupons. There is no one correct way to organize coupons. There are numerous ways to organize your coupons, and you have to decide which way is the right and the most convenient for you.

Coupon wallets.

Some people decide to organize their coupons within a convenient coupon wallet. These wallets only contain one pocket, and they close with either a button or a piece of Velcro. Coupon wallets may come with their own dividers. If not, you can always use index cards. Create categories, and name each divider appropriately.

Coupon wallets are great because they are small enough to fit in your purse or bag. This way, you can always be sure that your coupons are on you—even when you make those impromptu trips to the store. The downside to coupon wallets is that since they’re smaller in size, they don’t hold as many coupons as other methods. If you don’t clip that many coupons, this will not be a problem. But if you clip hundreds of coupons, you may need something bigger.

Coupon bins.

Another way to organize your coupons is to use a coupon bin. This is generally made of plastic and has a lockable lid. (If it doesn’t, make sure that you buy one that has a lockable lid. You don’t want to be cleaning up coupons if the bin falls to the floor in the middle of an aisle.) Coupon bins can hold more coupons than a wallet, and they’re more durable, so if it got wet, you won’t have a ton of soggy coupons on your hands.
You should use white index cards to create dividers within your coupon bin. Again, make sure to name each one appropriately.

Coupon binders.

The final way to organize coupons is to use a binder. In order to better organize a coupon binder, you need to purchase plastic photograph dividers, and then place the coupons within the dividers. This way, you can easily view each coupon without needing to pull out a category.

Coupon binders are durable, and the plastic protectors will keep your coupons from being damaged. The only downside to a binder is that it may not easily fit in your purse or bag, so you have to remember to grab it before you run out to the store.

The divider categories.

There are plenty of ways to organize your dividers. The most popular way to organize coupons is to label each divider as a category, such as meat, dairy, pet, etc. This way, you know that a specific item will be placed in a certain category. Another way to organize is to place them alphabetically by brand name. This way, if you’re looking for Heinz, you will know to look under H. Some people also organize their coupons by expiration date so that they know which batch to use up first.

In order to organize your coupons, you need to try out a few different methods to find out which works best for you. As previously mentioned, there is no right or wrong way to organize your coupons. Whichever way works best for you is the way to organize.

Ashley Cole is a stay at home mom who is used to couponing and working with a tight budget. She is a coupon expert and often uses Eco Tools coupons to get what she wants at a reasonable price. She never leaves home without her cosmetic brushes.