Making a Good Start: Preparing Your Finances for a Family

As an expectant parent, there will be a lot of things you’re trying to get your head around, from how you’re going to juggle your work when the baby arrives, to what on earth an epidural anesthesiology is.

But have you considered your finances?

Recent figures released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have revealed some astonishing things! Up to the age of 17, it costs the average middle-class family $170,460 to raise a baby that’s born now. If a family’s income is more than $65,800, this figure jumps to $249,180. And that’s without taking college expenses into consideration, which can average $11,976 per year for public schools and $26,070 at private ones.

However, by doing a bit of planning before the baby arrives, you can make sure you’re not caught out with your finances – both now, and in the future.

Consider Your Current Budget and What You Might Need

If you’ve already got a budget plan in place – great. But if you haven’t, now’s the time to sit down and analyze your spending habits. Having a budget in place can really help you take control of your finances, especially before your baby arrives.

Because of how much your budget will change once your baby’s born, you’ll ideally want to settle your debts if you can. This will allow you to meet the costs of diapers, clothes, bedding, strollers, cribs, and so on, which can soon add up over time. However, in a lot of cases, you will start to save money in other areas, as you won’t be going out as much and you might not go on vacations as frequently.

Furthermore, if you need a bit of help getting all of the essentials together for your baby – why not hold a baby shower? Have a list of things you need and invite family members and friends along who can help contribute to your baby fund.

Make Sure You’ve Got Enough Saved Up for Emergencies

Even though it’s a daunting prospect, you’re soon going to be responsible for someone else other than yourself. So, to reduce how much pressure is on your shoulders, plan ahead for all eventualities.

Emergencies aren’t something we want to think about, but they can happen. Therefore, it’s a good idea to consider adding life insurance to your monthly expenditure if you haven’t already. This will help provide financial stability for you baby should the worst happen. Equally, you might want to consider health insurance, which will cover medical expenses and doctor’s bills; and disability insurance, which will keep your head above water if you’re suddenly unable to work.

Another key part of preparing for emergencies is having a savings account in place. In general, this should cover about three to six months’ worth of your outgoings, helping to reduce any financial pressure that might arise in an emergency.

Finally, don’t forget that, no matter how young they are, your children will learn their financial habits from you. So, get into those good habits now before your baby arrives, and commit yourself to creating a good financial budget and plan that you’ll stick to.


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Family Financial Planning: $15K a Year Can Cover It

Bringing a child into the world is no small decision. Aside from the whole responsibility that goes hand in hand with creating a human life and making sure turns into a happy healthy adult, becoming a parent is also a big financial decision. According to the US Department of Agriculture, middle-income families can expect to pay around $15k per year to raise a child, which is a lot more than many people anticipate when they make the decision to start a family.


Budget, Budget, Budget


Making a budget and sticking to it is really important. While you can’t always account for incidentals like a hospital visit or unexpected home repairs, avoiding overspending on food or personal items really adds up over time. Use an app like to help you keep track of your day to day finances. Even small things like a coffee or a lunch out here and there can add up over time. Start small and put away a few dollars each day, it’ll be empowering when you start to see the benefits.


Consider a 529 Plan


529 plans are college savings accounts that are available in all 50 states. The minimum balance to open an account is only $25, and you can put away money whenever possible to invest in your child’s future. The plans are tax-advantaged and anyone can contribute—so friends and family who feel generous can throw a few bucks in to celebrate a birthday or other milestone.


Consider a Flexible Spending Plan for Healthcare Expenses


Flexible spending plans allow you to put a little money aside each month, or each pay period and come with pre-tax savings as a further incentive. These plans supplement your insurance, and cover things like hospital visits, copays, eye exams or other services, though the specifics vary depending on your plan. There are also some limits as to how much you or your partner can contribute. Check for more specifics.


Get a Handle on Your Debts


Hopefully, you’ve gotten a chance to pay down your debts. Ditch your credit cards and learn to consolidate your loans. While in an ideal world, we’d all be starting a family without any debt weighing us down. Consider that you may need to lower your payments to fit your child into your budget.


Get Life Insurance


Few things are less pleasant to think about than planning what happens after your death, but as a new parent, you want to prepare for the absolute worst. If you are the family breadwinner, you’ll need to purchase life insurance and name your child as the beneficiary. You’ll also want to figure out when your child or partner would inherit the money after your death.


Communicate with Your Partner


This is a big one. If you are raising your kids with a partner, you’ll need to get on the same page regarding spending priorities. Even if you have separate accounts, planning a monthly budget regarding child raising costs is a critical element to your financial success and the success of your relationship.


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Advantages and Disadvantages of Applying for Reverse Mortgages


There are many great reasons to apply for a reverse mortgage, but there are also some potential disadvantages and complications associated with them. It’s important for you to know both the good and bad sides of what you may be getting into when you sign a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM), as opposed to a standard home loan agreement. Here are some things to consider, both positive and negative, before you make your final decision.



HECM Closing Costs and Interest Fees Can be Confusing and Increase Over Time

One thing to be aware of is that home equity conversion mortgages have closing costs and associated fees. They are not fee-free. However, you won’t pay those fees out of your own pocket. Instead, they will be subtracted from the amount of money you receive from the loan.


As for interest fees, those increase as time passes. So, while you won’t have to make any monthly payments, the amount you owe in the end will be much higher than the amount you borrowed in the beginning. That is something that you need to anticipate and prepare for before you ever sign a loan agreement for a reverse mortgage.


The Amount You Can Borrow with a Reverse Mortgage May be Lower Than Expected

Even though reverse mortgages are home equity conversion loans, not all of the equity can be changed into spendable money. But what is a reverse mortgage borrowing limit and how is it calculated? It is an amount set according to the law that is designed to keep you from having to pay back more than a certain amount and protect lenders from loaning too much money to any one borrower. It means that you’re only going to get a percentage of your home’s equity converted to cash. The exact amount you will be eligible for depends on the appraised value of your home, how old you are, and other factors that the lender can outline for you.


Reverse Mortgages Offer Low Default Risks

One of the nicest advantages of a reverse mortgage is that you can’t default on it easily. A regular mortgage requires you to make monthly payments. When you miss one the lender can threaten you with default notices. Eventually they can actually take your home and assets.


It is possible to default on a reverse loan like this, but not easily. You don’t have to make any monthly payments, so there is no way to “miss” a payment. The only way you can generally default is by moving out of your home. Even if you do move, the lender can only sell your home and keep the amount of the proceeds that is equal to what you owe. The rest of the money goes to you. If there is no money remaining and there is still a balance on the mortgage, you don’t have to worry. The lender can’t attack any of your other assets, just the home itself.


You Can Live in Your Home as Long as You Wish

Some elderly people choose to sell their homes, move into small apartments or assisted living facilities, and use the money to help their families. But a reverse loan gives you the chance to use the money the way you want and still keep your large home and your independence. You can live there as long as you wish because you will still be the owner of the property. You don’t have to pay rent to anyone or worry about your home possibly being taken away.


You Can Receive Loan Payments on Your Own Time Schedule

Finally, keep in mind that a reverse mortgage can be customized for your needs in terms of the payment schedule. You can get a credit line, annuity, or lump sum. You can collect payments each month for a set number of months or permanently. It all depends on how much equity you need to convert at the time of the application versus over a long period of time for purposes like paying monthly bills.










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3 Tips for Teaching Your Kids About Credit

Of all the lessons you teach your children as you’re raising them within your home, how to manage money may be the lesson that can have the most impact on their ability to be self-sufficient once they leave the comfort of your nest.

However, because money is often such a taboo topic, even within familial ties, many parents find it hard to know how to talk about money with their kids, especially when it comes to complicated and confusing topics like credit. So to help you prepare your children for the world outside, here are three tips for teaching your kids about credit.

Explaining What Credit Is

The concept of credit can be hard to explain to your kids, especially if they don’t quite understand basic financial principles yet. For this reason, Real Simple suggests first explaining what credit is by talking about earning money, borrowing money, and repaying money.

If these ideas are understood, the idea of credit shouldn’t be too hard to convey. To help teach these principles, you may even want to go over your own credit report with your child to show them examples of how to use credit and what goes into a credit score.

Understanding Buying Decisions

Knowing what you can afford is a great financial lesson to teach children. However, this lesson often becomes more convoluted when credit is involved. Because you don’t have to have the physical money on your person to use a credit card, buying decisions can often be easily influenced when using credit.

That’s why, according to LaToya Irby, a contributor to, it’s important to teach your children how to make good purchasing decisions when using credit. Show them that just because something may seem like a necessity or a good deal at the time doesn’t mean it’s worth risking your credit over.

Talking About Debt

When discussing credit, you also have to discuss debt. Your child should understand that if they can’t adequately manage the credit they’re given, they could end up with crippling debt. But while debt is something to be aware of, Tim Chen, a contributor to U.S. News and World Report, reminds us that not all debt is bad.

It could also be beneficial for your child to learn that some debt is necessary and important for building your credit score, like acquiring a home loan, car loan, or student loan. Too much fear of debt can be just as harmful to your child’s financial future as not enough fear of debt, so make sure you do your best to give them a balanced education.

If you’ve been considering talking to your child about credit, use the tips mentioned above to ensure they understand what credit it, how to use it, and how to manage it wisely.

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Family Financial Fortitude – Check Out These Important Money Hacks

Boosting your family finances is something that’s really important and will help you in the long run. There are so many things you will need to think about, and money is a big part of developing a secure future for your family. You need to think about money, and what is involved in making the right financial decisions for the family. If you can do that you will be well placed to have a more secure home life.

Money is one of the biggest things to think about as a family. The cost of living has become more and more expensive these days. And that’s why you need to make sure you budget well and that you are aware of what you spend and when. There are so many different costs you will need to cover and take into account. And the hacks below should help you figure out what you can use to help fortify your family’s financial position.


Make Sure You Have Insurance


Any sensible family member will tell you that you have to make sure you have insurance. Now, there are a lot of different types of insurance you need to make sure you have these days. When you take a look at insurance options for the logical family, it’s important to think about what you need as a family. For instance, you’ll have to ensure that you have the right sort of car insurance, as this is a legal requirement. But there are other insurance premiums that you need to consider as a family. For instance, you need to make sure you look into getting home insurance and health insurance. You have to protect the future of the family, as well as your possessions. And these are great ways to achieve that as much as possible.


Savings are Key


You have to understand that savings are so important for any modern family. It’s really important that you have a safety net to fall back on finance wise. And that’s why you have to see how much you can generate great savings as often as possible. This isn’t easy these days, but it’s certainly doable. Try to make sure you have as many savings as you can because this will provide you with a rainy day fund. Emergencies always strike when you least expect them to. And it’s important that you are prepared and ready for this kind of eventuality. That’s why you have to make sure you try to generate as many savings as you possibly can whenever you can.


Should You Take Out a Loan?


One of the big questions you need to ask yourself is whether you should take out a loan. This is something that a lot of families decide to do and can prove very useful for the family. If you are having a month where you’re struggling to make ends meet it’s important to bring a bit of extra financial support in. And, the way to do that is to make sure you take out a loan. But, before doing so, you need to head to to find out more about personal loans. They can be very useful, but must also be handled with care and attention. You should never take out a loan if you don’t think you’ll be able to pay it back eventually. You want to avoid falling into financial problems and difficulties.


Be More Frugal


You also have to look at how you can become more frugal as a family in 2017. And a lot of this is to do with what you choose to buy and when. Being more economical with finances is important because it will help you to budget better. If you can spend less to get the same things you’ve gotten before, then this will be beneficial to you. Think about what you can do as a family to become more frugal. Sure, you need to think about how you can make savings. Using things like coupons and vouchers is a good way of making savings. You also have to think about where you buy things to make sure you can get the best possible deal.


Run a Greener Home


Talking of being more frugal, try to do what you can to save money and become greener. Living a more eco-friendly life is really important for benefiting your health, and saving you money as well. There are so many things you can do that will help your to run a greener home. Look at what you can do to make the property more energy-efficient, and consider investing in renewable energy. You also have to make sure you embrace recycling and computing and try to make your life greener. Ditching the car, or at the very least switching to an electric car, is really crucial for the process.


Build Your Credit


Another thing you need to try to do is to build up your credit rating as much as you can. It is important to do this because it will benefit you financially in the long-term. Having a good credit rating is really important when it comes to allowing you to maneuver financially. Think about how much better your prospects will be if you can build your credit rating back up. There are a few techniques you might employ to help you build back your credit rating. For instance, you might choose to take out a store card and repay what you spend swiftly and in full. This will help you to build back a decent credit rating and open more doors for you financially.


Make Some Extra Money


You should always be thinking about how you’re going to make more money and generate extra income. As a family, you have to think about what is involved in the process of making money outside of your job. Sure, your salary is important, and that’s something you can rely on. But, sometimes it might not be enough, so you need to come up with other ways of making money where you can as well. Working from home, and using the internet to find ways of making money is really crucial. The good thing is that it’s possible for anyone to make more money as long as they know where to look.

These days you have to do as much as you can to look out for your money and your family finances. There are a lot of things you will have to do if you want to make yourself more financially stable. And it’s important that you do what you can to achieve financial security and help the family live comfortably.

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Tips For Repairing Your Credit Without Becoming A Hermit

You don’t have to quit shopping cold turkey and you don’t have to stay home and never enjoy any time away from the house just to fix your credit. You still want to shop, but you also want to get rid of debt, and you can do both of those things. You can still have a life and still put money away and pay off bills.

You can still have fun and still have money while you are getting out of debt, you just need to learn what moderation is, and make sure you have your priorities straight when it comes to paying your bills and such.

Try Credit Repair Companies

One thing that can really help you get out of debt and still allow you to have money for other things is to find a credit repair company. They will help get all of your debts into one lump payment so that you don’t have a ton of additional bills each month.

Your credit is not going to fix itself, so if you need help, get it. You might even want to consider a small personal loan that has a better interest rate than the credit cards you already have and use that to help get you started at a better credit rating.

Make Small Payments All The Time

Always make your minimum payments, but try to pay more than that when it comes to paying on loans and credit cards. You want to keep them down so they don’t get out of control and end up with collections and on your credit report as well.

Even if you make a double payment every other month, it will help you may a quicker dent in what you owe. The more you owe the more you end up owing as those interest rates get tacked on. Keeping your balance lower will save you a good deal of money in the long run.

Consider Credit Cards For Bad Credit

If you have bad credit and you’re spending all your money on bills it can be frustrating. Not having any money to ever do anything fun can weigh on you. Consider getting a credit card with a small amount of money on it to use once in awhile to go see a movie or go out for a drink.

There are credit cards out there for people with bad credit. They will have a bit of a higher interest rate, but paying it off on time will also help you increase your credit score.

Spend Less

You may also want to do what you can to spend less money. There are all sorts of places you can cut back on expenses, from groceries to utilities.

You may also need to learn to quit unnecessary spending. Learn the difference between the things you need to live and the stuff you are simply wasting money on.

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Getting Your Family Finances Together

Family finances can be a little bit more tricky to deal with as opposed to individual finances, but there are still definite steps that you can take, and definite techniques that you can use, in order to keep everything in the best shape possible.

So if you feel like in your family unit, your financial status isn’t tightened down, consider the following tips to move you in a positive direction – make sure the adults in the family have solid credit, teach kids about allowances early in their lives, buy the least expensive family car that you can, work to maintain your property value, and keep your objects owned to a minimum if possible.

The Adults Need Solid Credit

As a baseline of financial stability, the adults in a family need to have great credit. And if one or both of them don’t, that means the first step is to fix any bad credit. There are a number of ways to do this, but ultimately it’s all about claiming responsibility for any loose debt and then establishing a monthly plan to realistically chip away at it. With the plan in order, credit scores will go up demonstrably.

Teach Kids About Allowances Early

After the adults are settled in some of their financial habits, the next step is to teach kids the value of money by working with them on things like household chores and allowances. There are as many ways to do this as there are parenting methods, so the options are pretty much unlimited, as long as the overall intent is to teach kids fiscal responsibility on a small level so they’ll know how to handle it on a large level later.

Buy an Inexpensive Family Car

One way to keep family finances in order is if you buy the least expensive car that you can that will still get the job done. Cars are money hogs. They’re expensive to buy and maintain, and if they get damaged they’re a tremendous financial liability. Check your ego at the door, and just get one that has enough value as a transportation device.

Maintain Your Property Value

It’s easy to let the appearance of and structural integrity of your home get away from you as you’re busy dealing with kids as well. Doors and windows can get yucky, yards can become ill maintained, and then if you need to sell, or if your home is audited, that’s an immediate hit on your overall perceived value.

Stay As Minimal As Possible

And finally, the fewer things that you have, the cheaper you’re living in general, which means the less money you’re paying for things that you don’t need. It may feel hard to let certain things go, but it’s one of the easiest and best ways to control your overall financial structure as a family unit.

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Insurance Options For the Logical Family

When it comes to choosing the best insurance policies in terms of logical applications for families, there’s a lot of gray area to work with. It’s hard to make reasonable choices sometimes because of cultural or financial pressure, and the fact that sometimes insurance companies are just trying to get you to do certain things out of fear.

To help you make decisions, make sure that you do fairly extensive research on things like car insurance, life insurance, renter’s or home insurance, disaster insurance, and even individual product insurance (like for your computer or phone, for instance). The more you know about average numbers when it comes to input and output within those insurance segments, the better choices you can make.

Car Insurance

Getting car insurance is pretty much a requirement for a logical family unit. So many people depend on their cars so much, that not having one isn’t really an option. So to make sure that in the event of some kind of an accident, you have an immediate recourse, making sure that you have acceptable insurance is vital. In addition, depending on the fault of the accident, you can run into personal bankruptcy issues as well depending on your insurance situation.

Life Insurance

If you have a family with children, then buying life insurance for the parents in the family is going to be a smart choice as well. You don’t want it on your conscience that your kids aren’t going to be taken care of financially in the event of some kind of accident that the family breadwinner has. Different types of life insurance policies have drastically different costs and payouts though, so be sure to research this topic intensely.

Renter’s or Home Insurance

If you have lots of things of value at home, then consider that renter’s or home insurance would be a good idea. People who work from home, or who have expensive hobbies where gear is collected at home, should make this a priority. Just be sure that all of your expensive guitar is properly inventoried at all times.

Disaster Insurance

Another tragedy that happens in many families is if there’s some sort of disaster at home. This can be geographical, like a flood or hurricane occurring, or it can be incidental, like a fire that takes out the family house. Learning about disaster insurance is your best bet before you actually buy it though. There are an incredible number of stipulations regarding payouts.

Individual Product Insurance

The last thing for a family to consider in terms of insurance is what you can purchase for individual items. Getting insurance for things like computers, mobile phones, or tablets is a toss up. If you have young kids that use these devices, it may save you thousands of dollars in damages. However, these one-off insurance policies can be expensive, so if nothing does break, then you’re out a significant amount of cash.

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Funds and Fitness: How to Make Money and Get a Great Workout at the Same Time

To some people, the prospect of exercising when they wake up or after a long day at work is about exciting to look forward to as a trip to the dentist. It’s understandable: between your busy career and your home life, you just can’t find the motivation or energy to work out for an hour.


But what if you could make money while you exercise? A little extra spending cash each month can go a long way for paying bills or just having the wiggle room to go out for a fun night with friends. The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can stay in shape and make money at the same time. Here are a few options that might interest you.


Refereeing a Youth/Intramural League


If your nights and weekends are free, you can sign up to referee a youth/intramural sporting league, like football, hockey or soccer.


Sports leagues are always looking for extra help, and refereeing can be an easy and fun way to make some cash and get your exercise. If you choose to referee a soccer league, you could end up walking or running several miles during the course of a game, depending on the age group and the length of game time. If you can skate, hockey games can provide you with an hour of fast skating up and down the rink.


You’ll probably have to attend a class or two on how to properly referee, but after that, you can get in some exercise several times a week while getting paid for it.


Bike Courier


If you live in a large city, there’s a good chance that there are several courier companies that still use bicycle messengers to get their packages delivered. This is because bikers can maneuver easily through tight traffic and it saves them on gas and maintenance costs that a vehicle would need.


Not only is riding a bike is one of the great ways to stay in shape, couriers get paid by commission, so you can probably work a few deliveries into your schedule each week for some extra cash.


Bike courier is a demanding job, so even a few time a week may be too much for some people. Make sure you’re very motivated before pursuing this option.


Become a Fitness Trainer


If you’re really motivated to exercise and make money, you can build yourself a home gym and train people on the side or, if you get enough customers, as a full-time job.


There are many different types of home gyms you can put together to make this work. Like a home masseuse, you will need to check into the legal aspects of training in your own home. If you can, this is a great way to make money and stay in shape at the same time.


If you can motivate yourself to exercise, look for a way to make money at the same time.


Hailey Parsons is a mom who always has one eye on the family finances. Any extra cash she can make goes into the vacation fund. She writes about how to earn a little extra.

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Beautiful on a Budget: Thrifty Tips for the Mother of the Bride or Groom

As the mother of the bride or groom, the wedding day can one of the most expensive and luxurious events of your life, and understandably, you’re a bit confused as to how to look gorgeous yet elegant on a budget.

Similarly, you want a ravishing dress, but at the same time, you want to draw too much attention to yourself. So, how do you go about it? From availing the “sale season” to getting the most from the best deals, you’ve so many options to buy a dress that’s just perfect for you. Below are all the tips you need to know to look beautiful on a budget.

Plan It Out

You need to keep an eye out for reasonably priced outfits delivering the same look as a high-end dress. There are various styles to choose from. This makes your job a lot easier. Since wedding planning starts at least 6 months prior to the actual date, you’ve ample time to look around and choose a dress that looks as if it’s made for you! Given such a long period of time, surely you’ll be able to lay your hands on a grand dress.

Don’t Miss the Sales!

Sales are the ultimate boon of the shopping season. You would always find plenty of outlets that are displaying  dresses on sale. Many shops have a clearance sale or end-of-season sale. Since the sale season can last for three to four months, you have a good chance of finding a splendid dress.

Shop Early

We’ve all heard the phrase, “early bird gets the worm.” Once you’ve set your eyes on the perfect dress with the best deal, don’t keep delaying the purchase till the last moment. Otherwise, there are chances of it being sold out before you take out cash to buy it! So before this happens, it’s always better to be the first one in the queue.

When you do buy it, let the mother of the groom know too as according to tradition, a bride’s mother buys the dress before the groom’s mother!

Simplicity Enhances It

Sometimes, a simple dress is the best one to go for. How about showing your style with a simple and elegant dress with a statement necklace?

Opt for the Whole Look

A brilliant idea would be to shop for the whole look (i.e. the dress itself, the matching handbag/clutch, the jewelry, and the shoes). There are many websites that offer package deals for the mother of the bride or groom. The dress is sold along with accessories and jewelry.

Go for Bridesmaid Dresses

Bridesmaids are going to be your daughter’s favorite people throughout her wedding. Making them smile will actually help you make the bride happy! To do this, buy bridesmaid dresses that aren’t only beautiful but affordable too. You can add embellishments such as sequins, beads, and other trimmings to create a unique charm to these dresses.

The Bottom Line

With all these tips in your mind, you’re sure to nail the right dress for yourself. Whether it’s the color or style of the dress that has conquered your heart, remember that you can make it more appealing by bringing your own style to it. And yes, that too within your budget!

Lauren Wallace saw her youngest daughter get married last year. She shares her tips with other Mom’s who are soon to be Mother of the Bride. Her articles appear on over 50’s sites, wedding blogs and more.

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Free or Low Fare Flights: Smart Ways to Use Your Credit Card Rewards Program for Family Travel

Getting something given to your for free always feels good, which is credit card rewards are so popular, especially when you can use these rewards to book some flights for you and your family.


If you pay by card for the majority of your purchases, there is a fair chance that you will get to rack up some decent rewards points. Choosing the right card and rewards scheme will help to get the most for your money, and being smart with how you use those rewards will also make a big difference to what you can get in return for your spending.


Getting the best return


Not all rewards schemes are created equal and not only that, if you don’t spend what you have earned in the right way, you simply won’t get the best return and won’t be getting the best value.


You have to be vigilant and on the ball to take advantage of certain promotions when they come up and be prepared to sometimes switch around with your cards to get the best possible deals.


Frequent Flyer Mile promotions are fairly commonplace, but some are infinitely more generous than others and if there is one that is running a special promotion, you need to try and take advantage.


For example, a little while ago, US Airways were offering a generous 250% bonus for certain purchases made through selected eligible frequent flyer program partners. It doesn’t take much working out to see that if you shopped wisely, you could have racked up some serious air miles for spending a few thousand dollars on your card.


Earning air miles without even having to leave the ground to do so, is one of the savvy ways of getting the best return.


Double bonus


You will find that the majority of rewards programs offer you the chance to earn some extra bonuses by visiting selected online shopping portals via their own website.


This is a bit of a no-brainer when you are presented with this opportunity, as you are earning points for shopping through the portal as well as the subsequent charge to your credit card.


Look to enroll your cards with dining programs, such as AAdvantage Dining and others like it, so you even earn points just for the pleasure of eating out at some your favorite restaurants.


Decide on a strategy

It definitely helps to have a strategy and know what you are saving your points up for, if you have a specific goal in mind.


Deciding whether you intend to use all of your rewards points for a family trip or a solo adventure somewhere, does make a big difference to targeting specific cards and rewards schemes that are more generous with what you want to do with your points.


If you are looking to earn some free or low fare flights and other rewards, make sure you are savvy with how you use your credit card, as there is every chance that you can end up getting something good for very little effort on your part.


Melissa Stone has always been a frequent traveler, first growing up as an army brat, then taking frequent business trips abroad before having her kids and suddenly finding herself on a flight with a screaming toddler!

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Cutting the Ties: Giving Your Kids Financial Lessons So They Can Fend For Themselves

When children are small, it’s natural that their parents strive to do whatever it takes to support them, love them, and pay for their every financial need. Ideally, part of childhood nurturing involves financial instruction or at least a good example of how to manage money. If, despite all good intentions, the kids grow up and have financial problems, those same parents may be called upon to bail their adult kids out. Is this a wise plan? Maybe, maybe not. In the interest of aiding parents of adult children, we are pleased to present the following money advice.


Teach your children to be financially responsible adults


Smart money management begins at a tender age. Moneyed mogul, Warren Buffet, says that children who are given sound financial lessons when they are little are apt to be successful at managing money when they are adults. Buffet notes that while some parents wait until their kids are teenagers to teach them about money management, the best time to begin such instruction is when children are of preschool age. Forbes Magazine adds that most kids are savvy enough to start learning about money and the management thereof when they are as young as three. The University of Cambridge reports that a person’s lifelong financial style and money habits are generally established by the age of seven years.


When grown children ask for money


Joe Franklin is a Certified Financial Planner as well as the founder of Franklin Wealth Management. He explains that adult kids who are generally responsible with money and who fall upon unexpected and temporary hard times may well benefit from a short-term bailout or a rent-free room in the family home. When kids evince a pattern of financial irresponsibility, however, bailing them out may not be such a grand idea.


ReShelle Barrett is a certified financial planner and senior vice president with Bill Few Associates. She explains,


“The reality is that you are not doing the adult kids any favors at all by always bailing them out. If you offer your adult kids a handout every time they hit a financial wall, they may never learn to manage money on their own.”


If your adult child is looking for work with which to support themselves, get them to understand the importance of regular income. Avoid the temptation of just going out and buying them a car that they will need for work. Instead, discuss with them how they can use proof of regular income to make the payments on a Chrysler 300 or other similar vehicle. You can act as a guarantor on the loan and be part of the process as they find their feet.


Tough love, financial style


Joel Larsen, a CFP and principal of Navion Financial Advisors, explains why it’s rarely a good idea to give adult children unlimited amounts of cash:


“People don’t want to cause their kids any pain or any stress. One day you’re not going to be around anymore. Do you want your kids learn to deal with the world when they’re 60?”


The gist is, offer unlimited love and emotional support to your adult children, but don’t allow them to lean on you financially for an extended period of time. In the long run, allowing your kids to work through a hardship on their own may help them grow into happier, stronger, more independent adults.


Ava Norris has three grown-up kids and has her first grandchild on the way making for a very exciting time. Ava shares some of her parenting wisdom online through her articles as well as participating in forums and groups.

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Updated Thinking: Adjusting your Financial Planning to meet your Modern Family Needs

The reality is that the sort of financial advice that might have been passed down to you by your parents, whilst it is undoubtedly well-intentioned, it doesn’t always reflect the financial needs of a modern family.


Financial decisions, such as buying that Dodge Challenger that you have had your eye on for a while, all have to be weighed up and justified of course. It also helps if you update your thinking in terms how to plan for a different type of family life and dynamic, than previous generations witnessed.


Kids stay at home for longer these days, retirement ages are increasing, and student debt is a reality for many households, so you can soon see why you need to re-think and update your financial strategy.


Big changes


It is estimated that almost four out of every five households no longer fit into the typical profile of parents with 2.2 children, so it makes perfect sense that these fundamental demographic and lifestyle changes, need to be considered and accounted for when you are making your financial plans for now and the future.


Many financial assumptions have been made against a demographic that is simply outdated in many families. There are many single-parent household for example, unmarried partners, and homes where the kids simply can’t afford to move out, even when they are well into their adult years.


This means that a one-size-fits-all approach to financial planning could see you fall short of your chosen targets, unless you take account of the big changes that have taken place in many households.


Make your position clear


Whether you might be classed as being one of the new blended families that don’t conform to the traditional stereotype or have a household that still fits the 2.2 kids scenario, there is plenty of merit in setting out your stall and making your financial position as clear as possible.


This means making saving a clear priority so that you are as prepared as possible for future events and landmarks. It also means trying to develop a strategy to cope with educational costs, such as working how you might be able to use college aid.


Adult kids


It also helps to make your position clear when it comes to the subject of having adult children who are still at home with you.


It is important to maintain an open and positive dialogue with your adult children and talk to them about helping them plan how they might be able to gain some independence at some point in the future.


It is certainly a challenge, when you consider the cost of rents and living expenses, but you need to have a family plan in place to deal with this scenario and have an exit strategy as it were.


If you don’t plan our talk about how you can help your kids without damaging your own financial situation, retirement could soon become a distant dream.


This is just one example of how adjusted thinking is often required these days, if you are going to meet your modern family’s needs.


Faith Todd is a personal finance consultant who contributes to a variety of personal finance blogs around the web. In her personal life, Faith enjoys living in a rural area with her dogs for company, and is taking violin lessons.

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Misleading Money Advice: Bad Financial Tips You Should Ignore


When it comes to money matters, there seems to be advice coming at you from all angles, which makes it extremely difficult to determine which tips are worth following and which pearls of wisdom you are actually better off ignoring.

Getting legal help is another matter, as you will probably need to talk to someone like a law firm in Providence at to get the right advice if you have suffered an injury for instance and need to make a claim.

Back to the subject of money, here is a look at some of the sort of financial tips that you should consider giving the swerve.

Stay away from credit cards

You will often hear advice that suggests you steer well clear of using credit cards if you want to preserve your wealth and avoid getting into serious debt.

There is obviously an element of truth in that advice, as credit cards can end up getting you into serious financial difficulties. But when you use them in the right way, there is actually nothing wrong with having credit cards, and they can even offer you some decent benefits.

If you are prone to overspending on your card and don’t clear the balance in full every month, you may well do better avoiding having any cards in your name. Used responsibly, they offer you buyer protection, the potential for rewards like air miles, and also an interest-free credit period on your purchases, provided you pay off the balance when you get the statement.

The right type of life insurance

There is no doubt that life insurance can be viewed as valuable safeguard if you have a mortgage and one of you dies unexpectedly, and your loved ones can be provided for with a lump sum.

The problem with the general advice to buy life insurance, is that you need to ensure that you buy the right type, rather than end up taking out an expensive policy that doesn’t align with your changing needs.

If you have a growing family and a mortgage to take care off, it is perfectly sensible to arrange insurance cover to ensure that the loved ones you leave behind are not left in a financial mess and unable to pay the bills.

As you get older, your needs and priorities change. You often don’t need life insurance once the kids have grown up, you have paid off the mortgage and you have a bit of money behind you. So get the right type of life insurance that covers you when you need it and not when you don’t.

Only buy stocks that offer good dividends

There are many other bits of financial advice that could turn to be damaging to your wealth, but the one about only buying stocks that provide dividends, is worth a mention.

Far too many investors have a near obsession about dividends. The actual reality is that dividends are deducted from earnings, which could have the potential of reducing earnings.

The advice is not to get so hung up on stocks with dividends that you miss other opportunities, as you are almost invariably making a trade-off when you focus on dividends as the center of your investment strategy.

Courtney Platt is a financial consultant who enjoys penning (ok, typing!), personal finance articles in her spare time. She shares her tips using her personal and professional experience to come up with interesting topics.

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What To Do When Creditors Start Calling But You Can’t Pay

No one ever plans to get incredibly into debt or resort to declaring bankruptcy, but sometimes we just get in over our heads when it comes to finances. And the more in debt you become, the harder and harder it is to crawl out of that hole.

The stress of paying back debts can be excruciating, especially if you’ve become delinquent and are getting calls from creditors. While this isn’t a pleasant experience, there are some things you can do to make these interactions a little more bearable. To show you how, here are three things you should do when creditors starts calling but you still can’t pay.

Create a Reasonable Budget

If you’ve just become too overwhelmed with your debt to face it head-on, the first thing you’re going to want to do is get a firm understanding of your exact financial situation. This include creating a budget so you can see where you can cut back and begin paying down your debts.

Kathleen Michon, a contributor to, shares that in order to create a reasonable budget, you have to know what your income is and what your expenses are. After that, you should prioritize your expenses to help you pay off your most important bills and debts first. This may include your mortgage, utility and other bills.

Plan What To Say

When you know you’re not going to be able to pay your debts the way your creditors would like, it can be very hard to want to speak to them about it. However, it’s vital that you discuss your financial problems with your creditors so they can help you come up with a plan for repayment.

When you’re needing to speak to your creditors, Erica Sandberg, a contributor to, suggests coming up with a game plan for what you’ll say to them. In this game plan, you should know what you’re going to bring up regarding the problems you’re having paying off your debts, how you plan to solve this problem, what help or assistance you may need from them, and why they should believe that this plan will work out for the both of you.

Try To Make a Deal

At a certain point, your creditors are going to be willing to work with you in order for them to recuperate as much money from your debts as they can, even if it’s not the full amount. This information could work to your advantage when trying to make a deal with your creditors as to how much and when to pay back your debts.

Lucy Lazarony, a contributor to, shares that if you make it clear that you can’t possibly pay the full amount of your debts, you can often strike a deal that may include paying a smaller lump sum or reducing the amount of your monthly payments. While neither of these options will eliminate your debts, it will make it easier for you to pay them down.

Although it can be frustrating when creditors are calling about your bad debts, you can overcome this burden by making smart decision moving forward. Use the tips mentioned above to help you do just that.

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