Is this the year to focus on saving more? If you've been disappointed when you've checked out your savings account balance, let's change that this year by figuring out how to save money each month.
How Much Should I be Saving?
Actually, advice on the topic of how much you should be saving differs based on who's giving the advice. At a minimum, most people recommend saving 10 percent of your income. Dave Ramsey recommends saving 15 percent of your income as a good goal. Still others recommend 20 percent. However, no one will complain if you save as much as you possibly can.
If you give (or receive) a gift that misses the mark, returning the item is the natural thing to do. After all, return policies are pretty awesome these days.
However, if you decide to make a bigger impact with your gift -- an item that you've probably survived without just fine for the last year anyway -- why not donate it?
Why You Should Think About Donating an Unwanted Christmas Gift
- If you donate your unwanted gifts, you'll decrease clutter. Cutting clutter has emotional benefits that I don't understand, but I feel better when my life and environment are clear.
- Your item might be useful to someone else. Many times, I have kept items I didn't really need because I might need them sometime. But I find it easier to donate or sell items if I imagine those items making someone else's life easier or better ... you know, instead of taking up space in my spare closet.
- Improve your community. Along with being useful to someone else or an organization, your donation may improve your community. How? By giving your fellow community members something they really need or letting a community organization raise money with your gift that could help them operate other community-boosting programs.
- You may be able to deduct donations on your taxes. According to the IRS, you may deduct certain donations if you've given to qualified organizations. You must maintain documentation of this donation, however.
- You're giving something. If you weren't able to donate as much as you wanted to in 2015, this is an opportunity to give a little something without, shall I say, much of an investment from you. If the gift had been given to you, you didn't invest anything at all. But, I still think it counts as giving because you could have returned the item for cash or returned it for another item.
Were you imagining a thermos of hot coffee, maybe even a sleeping bag or tent to protect you from the elements as you camp out for hot Black Friday deals?
Maybe you enjoy the mad rush of adrenaline you get when you spot and lunge for the last remaining iPad that's on sale at an improbable price.
Or maybe, just maybe, you actually prefer to avoid all that frenzy and sit at home in peace and quiet while your fingers do some serious shopping on Cyber Monday.
One of our parenting goals is to rear frugal kids. Take care of their stuff. Spend wisely. Save for a rainy day.
Making the goal is easy, but implementing the goal? Definitely harder.
How Our (Current) Allowance System Works
Over the last couple of years, we've been experimenting with the best ways to teach our kids to manage money. What I've learned is that it's best to keep our system flexible as the kids mature and develop more skills. So we decided that our system will probably always be subject to change so we can accommodate their growth, but here's how our family's allowance system currently works:
Are there seasons in your life where you're more likely to swing through the drive-thru because you're tired, stressed, or overwhelmed?
Fall is like that for me. My friends start talking boots and flannel. Pumpkin Spice Lattes start showing up in my Instagram feed. And the corn mazes and pumpkin farms open for business.
And me? While I love colorful leaves and impossibly blue autumn skies as much as the next person, I cringe when fall arrives.
Are you currently taking a hiatus from paid employment? Maybe you want to stay home with your kids until they're in school. Maybe you haven't been able to find another job after a layoff. Maybe you had some savings and took a mini-retirement. Or maybe you just wanted a break.
Self-imposed or not, taking a break from the paycheck can be scary.
You know what I find even scarier? Trying to re-enter the job market after a long hiatus.
Have you ever lost a close friend because your financial situations were too different? Maybe your friendship started when you were on similar financial ground, bonding over bowls of ramen noodles, for instance. But once out of college, your first job paid a lot more than theirs did; or perhaps, the shoe was on the other foot -- you're still flipping burgers and your friend is working in the corporate world with a bigger paycheck.
Benjamin Franklin once cautioned:
"Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship."
Hey, do you mind if I try to guess one of your passwords? No? Okay, how about "123456" or "password"? Maybe "Max123" or "Bella2011"?
Although I hope no Get Rich Slowly readers are using any of these passwords currently, "123456" and "password" are among the most common passwords chosen. And "Max" and "Bella"? Those are some of the most popular pet names; and since pet names are commonly used too -- Well …
I am no hacker, and I spend very little time thinking about hackers. I wouldn't hack into someone else's information, so why would anyone think about hacking into my information? Continue reading...
When I wrote about the pros and cons of homeschooling recently, I left one major piece of the puzzle untouched: How does a family handle the loss of income if a stay-at-home parent is required?
It's not just the loss of monthly income. The parent who stays at home doing the bulk of the educating is also missing out on some other benefits of employment (employer contributions to a 401(k), social security benefits, avoiding a resume gap, etc.). These aren't necessarily easy to quantify.
So let's take a look at the financial piece of the puzzle to the extent we can; but first, is it possible to homeschool without losing income?
What if the average cost to educate a child was over $5,000 but you could drop it to just over $500 per child? According to a really old (1997) report on homeschooling, you could do just that by taking your child out of public school and schooling them at home.
Last winter, after several days off school with bitter-cold temperatures, coupled with a few serious cases of cabin fever, I posted on Facebook that I was "feeling overwhelmed" (appropriate emoticon included) about trying to keep my cooped-up kids from fighting with each other for hours, and I wondered aloud (or at least on Facebook) how homeschooling parents handled being with their kids all day -- every day.
Well, let me tell you, I innocently fanned some flames. Anecdotal evidence and opinions were fired back and forth including topics such as socially awkward homeschooled kids, the terrible public schools that we have to send our kids to now, parents using school as a babysitting service, and people who shelter their kids too much.