Budgets and Planning

When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees.

How to Afford a Major Medical Expense If You Don’t Have Health Insurance

Let’s just cut to the chase. The health insurance landscape is a mess. Many Americans still don’t have health insurance and find themselves facing financial ruin when facing an unexpected medical event in their lives. For Americans who don’t receive healthcare coverage through work or for the many Americans who are self-employed, health insurance may …

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Health Savings Accounts May Be the Greatest Investment Vehicle You’ve Never Heard Of

Buying health insurance is smart for your health and for your finances, but a high deductible health care plan could prevent you from getting the care you need. There is a solution, and it comes with a lot of great bonuses. If you’ve never heard of a Health Savings Account (HSA), then keep reading. Not …

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Are You a Solopreneur Looking to Buy a Home? Here’s What You Need to Know

Being self-employed has its downsides and its benefits. Downsides include no paid vacation or holidays and the never-ending need to continually find customers. Benefits include an ability to set your own hours, no limits on your income, and lots of potential business deductions. These deductions can help you save lots of money on your taxes, …

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Six Things You Need to Do If You Want to Buy a House Next Year – Part 1

Are you looking to become a homeowner sometime next year? Congratulations! This is a really big step, especially if this will be your first home. If you are like the vast majority of Americans, then you don’t have a couple hundred thousand dollars lying around in your savings account. That means you’ll need to convince …

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Congratulations, You’re Pregnant! Here Are the First Five Money Moves New Moms Need to Make

Wow, you are going to be a mother! How exciting, and perhaps slightly terrifying. If you’ve talked to other new parents, then you know that the miracle of life also has a way of turning into the miracle of the disappearing paycheck. Babies are wonderful…and expensive. That’s why it is so important to plan now, …

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How to Afford a Major Medical Expense If You Don’t Have Health Insurance

Let’s just cut to the chase. As of the writing of this article, the health insurance landscape is a mess. More and more Americans are losing coverage as insurance providers continue to pull out of markets across the country. For Americans who don’t receive healthcare coverage through work or for the many Americans who are …

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These Ten Reasons Are Exactly Why You Need a Rainy-Day Fund

You’ve probably heard that over half of Americans don’t have $1,000 in savings. That’s truly scary because life throws all sorts of financial curve balls at us all the time. If you ever, ever, ever, ever (ever, ever) want to be financially independent, step one is to build a rainy-day fund. This is your safety …

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Stick to These Five Money Truths No Matter What Happens in Washington

Washington is a chaotic place these days, and a lot of political promises are throwing pundits into a tizzy (though, to be fair, they’re kind of always in a tizzy). Big new bills are being alternately praised by one political party as “needed change,” while the other party cries “major disruption.” While it may seem …

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Is Your Credit Card Safe This Holiday Season?

Every year now seems to be the “Year of the Data Breach.” In the past, we’ve seen massive breaches at Target (110 million customer records hacked), Neiman Marcus (1.1 customers compromised), Michaels (3 million customers compromised), Home Depot (as many as 56 million cards compromised) and many others, including smaller retailers. As you gear up …

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Ten Ways to Save at Christmas Without Looking Like a Cheapskate

You don’t need to check your January credit card statements to know that Christmas always has a way of wreaking havoc on your finances. According to the American Research Group, the average American plans on spending $992 on Christmas gifts alone in 2018. That doesn’t even include holiday decorations, ugly sweaters, and all the food …

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Buying a Home is Way More Expensive Than You Think. Can You Really Afford it?

Buying a home is a huge life accomplishment. It symbolizes success, security, and maturity. It can also serve as an important asset that grows in value over time. As the earliest millennials hit their 30s, start climbing the career ladder, and walk down the aisle, a whole new generation is beginning to dream of home …

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Five Reasons Millennials Are Struggling to Get Ahead

It’s Not the Avocado Toast Hating on the millennial generation has become a favorite pastime of many social commentators. We are vain. We are delicate little snowflakes. We want to save the world but are too busy taking selfies. We would rather stuff ourselves with insanely expensive avocado toast than actually save for retirement. Now, …

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Spring Clean Your Budget in Five Easy Steps

Isn’t it amazing how you’ll spend an entire back-breaking day cleaning your garage every few years and promise yourself that you’ll never, ever let it revert back into the cluttered mess that it was? Then, come next spring, your beautiful, spic-and-span garage has somehow de-evolved once again into something that looks suspiciously like a landfill. …

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Are You Ready to Finally Start Your Emergency Savings Fund? Take the 21-Day Savings Makeover

If you got a bill for $387.81 right now, could you pay it off without using your credit cards, begging family members, or taking out a payday loan with a huge interest rate? It just so happens that $387.81 is the average cost of a car repair when the check engine light comes on. If …

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Eight Big, Game-Changing Ideas to Finally Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt This Year – Part Two

If you thought we proposed some pretty big ideas to pay off your credit card debt this year in part one of this series, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. We’ve saved our biggest, boldest, and most serious ideas for this article. If you’ve got thousands of dollars in credit card debt to pay down, you …

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Eight Big, Game-Changing Ideas to Finally Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt This Year – Part One

You’ve got credit card debt, and you hate it! Maybe a snapped timing belt in your car (and the huge bill that followed) sent you into a credit card spiral, or you lost your job, or you simply have a habit of swiping now and worrying about the consequences later. Whatever the reason, your credit …

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How to Afford the Education You Need After a Divorce

After a divorce, your financial life is likely going to take a big hit. According to a study by the Government Accountability Office, men will, on average, see a 23% reduction in their household income. Unsurprisingly, that number is much higher for women. They will see an average drop of 41% in household income after …

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Never Pay Interest on a Credit Card Again – Credit Card Balance Transfers

Life happens, and life can be expensive. Maybe the radiator of your car blew out and you suddenly find yourself handing over your credit card to cover a $2,000 mechanic bill. Or you have to suddenly fly across the country for a week to take care of a sick parent. Or, perhaps you lost your …

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Can a Couple with 13 Kids Really Pay Off Their Seven-Bedroom House, Live Debt-Free, and Retire Early?

If you either want to feel extremely inspired or extremely terrible about your own financial habits, head on over to the Washington Post and read the story of the Fatzinger family. Rob and Sam Fatzinger are devout Catholics with thirteen children. Sam is a stay-at-home mom who homeschools her children. Rob, a software tester, earns …

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Are You Spending Too Much Time Trying to Save Money?

Trying to save money on the things you already buy or want to buy is a smart idea, especially considering that according to NerdWallet.com, the average household with credit card debt is carrying $15,310 on its cards. Ouch! Sure, every penny you save counts, but there are smart ways to save and then there are …

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Five Easy Steps to Budget and Save Like a Financial Wizard on a Fluctuating Income

Working for yourself or on commission has a lot of upsides. You might get to work in your comfy flannel PJs, or perhaps your job allows you to spend more time with your kids or earn more than you ever could staring at a cubicle all day. Of course, self-employment or the sales life isn’t …

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Take a Deep Breath – It’s Time to Talk About Saving for Your Child’s College Costs

College. That single word can lift a parent’s spirits and send an icy jolt of fear down their spine at the same time. A college education can play a huge role in a child’s chance for career and financial success, but the price tag can be breathtaking (and not in a good way). According to …

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Top Ten Low-Cost Tips for Cleaning and Changing Your Home After Divorce

If you are coming out of a rough divorce, then spring cleaning is the perfect time to physically and metaphorically scrub away all the lingering bad memories of your marriage. Rooms, objects, and even décor all have the ability to absorb meaning, emotions, and memories. Walking into your bedroom may remind you of the fights …

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Who’s Paying For College? Part Three: Finding a Middle Ground for College Costs

College…it’s expensive. No, really expensive. The sticker price even for an in-state public school can still reach $24,000 a year or more according to CollegeData.com! The question of how to pay for a child’s higher education or even if you should is one that every parent must face. In the previous two articles in this …

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I’ll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Your…Credit Report

Why You Must Have the Money Conversation Before Marriage If you are in a serious relationship, you probably know your partner’s favorite color, his dream car, and at least a few embarrassing stories from his childhood. But do you know his credit score? If not, then you don’t really know your partner at all, and …

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Four Tips to Slay the Monster Cost of College

A college education is almost a requirement these days in order to break into most well-paying jobs (unless your child is itching to start the next great tech company). However, the cost is steep! According to Collegedata.com, the average cost for a public, in-state college was $23,410 for the 2014-2015 year and $46,272 for a …

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Here are Five Big-Ticket Items You Shouldn’t Buy During the Holidays.

Think You Get The Best Deals During The Holidays? Think Again! It’s holiday season, a time of carols, decorations, and cut-rate deals. Black Friday is infamous for the deep discounts retailers are willing to offer to entice holiday shoppers through their doors. These deals may be tempting, but savvy shoppers can save even more on …

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OMG, I’m Rich! Now What?

Five tips on how to save and play responsibly with your newfound wealth Have you just landed a big windfall? Maybe you’ve received an inheritance, gotten a bonus at work, sold your business, or won a lawsuit. Congratulations on this infusion of cash. You now have the means to create more financial stability in your …

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Holiday Shopping Tips to Keep You from Breaking the Bank

Here are some smart planning tips courtesy of Bills.com that can help you save $500 or more before the holidays. Budget Before employing any other savings tactics, create a holiday budget. Calculate the amount available to spend on holiday festivities, including gifts, cards, postage, decorations, entertaining, tips and travel costs. Break up with the barista  Breaking …

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Mortgage Insurance

Dear Dollar Stretcher, My husband and I bought a house 18 months ago. We went in with less than 20% down, and so are stuck paying mortgage insurance to the tune of over $80 per month. What exactly is mortgage insurance for, and is it possible for us to “cancel” our mortgage insurance by showing …

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Bartering Clubs

Hi Gary, I just read an article on joining a bartering club in order to barter for bargains. The fee to join the club is $350. Is it worth it and are there other clubs available with lower membership fees? — Donna Even though we might not think of it, almost everyone is part of …

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The Dollar Stretcher

Dear Dollar Stretcher My husband and I aren’t quite sure which way to go to conserve on our heating bills. We have steam radiators in our old Victorian house and just replaced the boiler. The old one was over 60 years old and very inefficient. We have a programmable digital thermostat. Does it make more …

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A Five-Step Blueprint for Growing Your Money

Mutual funds are supposed to make inventing easy, but picking and managing mutual funds is bewildering for most novice investors. Fortunately, you don’t have to know a great deal about investments to make money in mutual funds. All you need is a reasonable knowledge of your own financial situation and goals, and some basic guidelines …

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25 Ways to Divorce Without Going Broke

Excerpted from the booklet “150 Ways to Divorce Without Going Broke“ Divorce is the largest single financial transaction of most people’s lives, raising important questions that demand immediate answers. Here are some helpful tips on every aspect of divorce, including: before the divorce, gathering records, alimony, tax returns, navigating the divorce, accumulating cash, hiring an …

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How Do You Really Feel About Money?

How we feel about money-whether fearful and constricted or open and generous-greatly affects how we approach our financial lives. Use this exercise to identify your money attitudes and develop a positive approach toward your financial life. Circle the words that best describe your feelings about money and finances at the moment. Circle as many as …

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Living Dangerously: The Lies We Tell Ourselves about Disability Insurance

Do you have disability insurance? Many of us don’t. A survey by The Consumer Federation of America and The American Council of Life Insurers found that 82% of people do not have long-term disability insurance or believe their coverage to be inadequate. One-third of working adults say that their families could only live for three …

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Setting Up Your Budget

In Dutch it’s “begroting,” in Spanish, “presupuesto,” and the Germans say “haushaltsplan” (which make the most sense, as in “How Shalt YOU plan?  In any language, we either love or hate the word and the idea of it.  But if you have no idea where your money goes, you are bound to end up in …

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Financial Advice: Four Good Reasons To Save Money This Year

It isn’t hard to find financial advice on how to save money. But have you ever thought about why saving money matters so much? Sure, it’s important to set aside money for retirement, for the kids’ college education and for those unexpected life expenses, but there’s another reason why it’s more blessed to save than …

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Uncommon Sense: Some Money Rules That Might Surprise You

Most money wisdom is pretty straightforward. You simply have to use your common sense to figure out that it’s good to save for a rainy day, spend wisely on things you really need, and keep a hopeful outlook for your financial future. Sometimes, though, a money rule comes along that calls upon your “uncommon sense” …

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Is Bankruptcy the Answer?

Are you considering bankruptcy as a solution to your financial woes? Bankruptcy is a very serious issue, so consider all of your options before you take action. Here are some steps to take before you file, courtesy of Bills.com. Pull a credit report first.  Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get your free credit report. Confirm that all information is accurate …

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