Category Archives: Personal Finance

10 Steps to Make College Affordable and Graduate Debt-free

10 Steps to Make College Affordable (and even Graduate Debt-Free) | Money Savvy Living

 

Did you know that there are ways to go to college for free, or at least drastically reduce the amount that you would have to pay?  We hear so much about getting “free” college from politicians.  I put the term “free” in quotation marks, because we all know that it isn’t truly free.  There are costs associated with paying professors, maintaining a campus, etc… and someone must pay for it.  I won’t get into the politics of the policy here, but just remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

There is a real concern though, because so many college graduates are getting their degrees and have accumulated tens-of-thousands of dollars of debt, if not hundreds-of-thousands, and aren’t able to find good-paying jobs after graduation in order to pay back those loans.  So how can you get a college education without taking on the burden of debt?  Sounds impossible?  It’s not.  The good news is, you don’t have to wait around for the promise of a “free” education in order to be able to afford to go to college.

Here are 10 steps that you can take today to put yourself on the path to an affordable college education (and maybe even graduate debt-free):

 

Fill out the FAFSA

Anyone who is thinking of going to college needs to fill out the FAFSA form, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  The reason this application is so important is that it will determine your eligibility for federal grants and loans.  Remember, you don’t have to accept all of the aid that you qualify for, this just determines qualification.

 

Visit the guidance office at your high school

If you are a high school junior or senior, the school guidance counselor should be your new best friend.  The staff in the guidance office is well-equipped to help you when it comes to applying to colleges, applying for scholarships, and even helping you assess your strengths and potential career paths.  Ask them about new scholarships to apply for.  Even though you can apply for many scholarships online or through a college directly, there may be local businesses or foundations that offer scholarships through the school.

 

Search on scholarship websites

Make sure you utilize the internet for more than just social media.  There are several websites which you can search for scholarships that you may qualify for, here a just a few to get you started:

http://www.collegescholarships.org/

https://www.scholarships.com/

http://www.fastweb.com/

 

Compare academic and athletic scholarships among colleges

Getting good grades and/or being a skilled athlete can also get you extra money for college… anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a full ride.  While the scholarships awarded in these areas will differ from college to college, it can make a huge impact on your overall financial responsibility.  Before deciding on which school to go to, take a look at the overall costs and overall scholarships that are being offered, you may find that you can save thousands of dollars by choosing one school over the other.

 

Compare private vs. public schools

According to Collegedata.com: “In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for the 2015–2016 academic year averaged $24,061. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $47,831.  Of those total amounts, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015–2016 school year was $32,405 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges.

I don’t think you need much explanation here, public is going to be more affordable than private.  In fact, in total cost, you can save nearly 50% by going to a public, in-state college.

 

Commute to college

While the idea of living at home and commuting to college may not allow the freedom or independence that you were hoping for, it can help with your financial freedom in the long run… by making college even more affordable and saving on the cost of room and board.  According to Collegedata.com, the College Board reports that the average cost of room and board in 2015–2016 ranged from $10,138 at four-year public schools to $11,516 at private schools.  While these numbers do not differ that much between public and private, it can save you at least $40,000 over a four-year education to live at home and commute to class.

 

Work part-time

Just because you are a full-time student doesn’t mean that you cannot set aside a few hours a week to make some extra money.  Of course, there may be times throughout the year that you won’t be able to work due to athletics or other activities that you are involved in while at college, but even working one night a week can help.  Getting extra work during the summer or even while on spring break or between semesters, you can probably make enough money to pay for smaller costs associated with college, such as books, lab fees, transportation, etc.  Paying for the smaller things as you go helps to cut down on the overall loans that you need overall.  Who knows, you may even be able to save up some money during this time…

 

Know the difference between a loan, a grant, and a scholarship

So what is the difference between a loan, a grant, and a scholarship?  Very simply, a loan is something that you will be required to pay backGrants and scholarships are money that you do not need to pay back.

This is why filling out the FAFSA is so important, there are certain government loans, grants and scholarships that you will automatically know if you qualify for, based on your FAFSA.  It also determines that amount you and your family are responsible for.  This form is what the colleges that you are considering will look at as well.

 

Don’t take out the max loan amount

Just because you have filled out the FAFSA and qualify for a student loan does not mean that you are obligated to take it.  Remember, a loan is money that you will be required to pay back.  You cannot just look at it as free money for the next four years, you must look at it as a financial obligation.  Even though there will be no interest until after you graduate, if there is a way to defer your college expenses otherwise, taking out a loan should be your absolute last option.

 

Serve your country

Serving your country by joining the Armed Forces is also a way to obtain money for a college education.  The GI Bill, originally signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 (and has since expanded), provides for college education benefits for those who choose to serve.

 

3 Reasons to Drop Authorized Users from Your Credit Card

 Reasons to Drop Authorized Credit Card Users | Money Savvy Living

What may have seemed like a good idea at the time that you allowed your loved one or friend to consolidate on your good credit and make purchases using your credit card, may end up not being the best decision ever.  Sometimes those authorized users begin to take advantage.

 

Sometimes dropping authorized users from your credit card completely makes sense. For many, it’s more of an emotional and painful decision rather than a financial one. Still, sometimes managing multiple cardholders becomes more like a nightmare and taking a few off is reasonable.

 

Here are three signs, perhaps, it’s time to drop an authorized user on your card:

 

They frequently max out: Suppose you’ve added your teenaged kids as authorized users, but they constantly overspend. This would undoubtedly put a strain on your household budget and hurt your credit utilization ratio. Such a spending behavior would hit you and your kids’ credit scores and push you towards credit card debt trouble.

 

Before taking action, talk to them and ask them to keep the expenses as low as possible. You can also set limits for different users if your creditor allows this. If overspending continues to be a problem, it may be time to drop your kids off your account.

 

You are parting ways: After a relationship break-up, most people forget to remove their ex as an authorized user on their credit card accounts. If you make this mistake, you’ll be liable for any debt he or she accrues using the card, and any activity of the card will still affect both of your creditworthiness.

 

So it’s better to take your ex off your accounts once you part ways. Also, ask your ex to do the same. Don’t forget to change your account passwords as well. Alternatively, close any and all joint accounts so neither of you will have to deal with any future repercussions.

 

They are financially self-reliant: It’s a great way to help teach your kids fiscal responsibility and a way to monitor their spending before they obtain their own credit; however, it’s meaningless to keep them on your accounts forever. It’s better to remove them from your account once they become financially independent and acquire two or three years of positive credit history under their belts.

 

 

*This is a guest post from Andy Masaki

Author Bio: Andy Masaki is an editor with Oak View Law Group and contributes specifically on personal finance topics. You may find his writings at Comparecards, Realmoneyanswers, Familyshare.

 

The Payday Savings Plan

Payday Savings Plan  | Money Savvy Living

 

It’s a simple concept: pay yourself when you get paid.

 

Instead of just budgeting to pay bills, make savings a part of your monthly budget. If savings aren’t a part of your monthly budget, then the chances of you actually setting money aside each month are greatly diminished.

 

Realistically, most of us spend based on what we see in our wallets or as our checking account balance. After all your bills are paid, if you have $500 left in your account, you probably feel that this entire amount is your disposable income. If, however, you have included savings into your budget—let’s say, $200—and prioritized it as you would any other expense, you would now only see $300 in your account as disposable income. This would force you to adjust your spending.

 

The payday savings plan enables consistent savings, sets aside money before it is spent on other disposable income items, and prioritizes savings as a part of your budget.

 

Pay Day Savings Plan | Money Savvy Living

 

You must plan to save money. Saving is not something that is going to happen on its own. It is a habit that you must purposefully implement into your budget.

 

Look at your entire budget.

Before you can decide how much to save, you must look at your income and expenses. After all of your bills are paid each month, the money that is leftover is your disposable income. So, for example, once you know that you will have approximately $500 a month left after all your bills are paid, you can then decide how much to set aside for savings.  Build savings in as a part of your budget.

 

Decide how much you can afford to save each month.

After you have taken a look at how much money is left over each month after all of your monthly obligations have been met is your disposable income. The disposable income is the money that you spend on the stuff you want—not the stuff you need. This is your fun money. Yes, it is fun to eat out or buy a new pair of shoes, or whatever your extra money each month goes to, but the short-term disappointment of sacrificing some of these wants will reap huge benefits for you in the long-term by saving and planning for retirement.

 

Commit to a fixed amount that you can put into savings each pay period.

It is easier to save each month when you are setting aside a set amount each time you get paid. Some savings plans tell you to start out saving $1 the first week and working your way up to saving $52 the last week of the year; this sounds good, but the reality of this means that the first month, you are saving $10, and the last month, you are saving over $200. That is a huge swing in your budget, one that can be hard to stick to, especially when unexpected expenses come up. Setting aside a specific amount allows you to budget more consistently.

 

Set up automatic funds transfer.

Whether your savings are through an employer-sponsored retirement plan or just depositing in a savings account each, set it up to go directly from your paycheck to that account. If the money is set aside before it even hits your bank account, it is not every likely to be spent. You know the old saying: out of sight, out of mind…

 

Don’t turn down “free” money.

If you have an employee sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401k, you are turning down free money if you aren’t participating in it. Many companies have some sort of matching component to their 401k plan. So if you contribute 2% of your paycheck, your employer will match that and also contribute 2%. If you aren’t contributing to a company sponsored plan, you are literally turning down free money.

Even if your employer doesn’t match or if you are self-employed and it is just you contributing to your account, you are still missing out on free money if you aren’t contributing each month. How is that possible? It has to do with the time value of money and the compounding effect that it has. Ok, this may sound a bit confusing, but simply stated, your savings account balance grows by compounding on the principle and interest each month. So the more you contribute, the more interest you will get on the larger balance each and every month. So the sooner you can start saving, the better.

Ohio Back-to-School Tax Holiday 2015

Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday 2015 | Money Savvy Living

This weekend, August 7-9, 2015, the Ohio Department of Taxation has enacted a tax holiday—meaning you pay NO SALES TAX on certain items that are being purchased during this time period! This particular tax holiday is specific to back-to-school items only. During the holiday, the following items are exempt from sales and use tax:

    • Clothing priced at $75 per item or less;
    • School supplies priced at $20 per item or less; and
    • School instructional material priced at $20 per item or less.

So start taking a look at your local store flyers to see which stores may be running special pricing on their back-to-school items, combine it with the NO TAX holiday, and you will save even more money!

 

Other states that are also offering similar tax holidays for back-to-school items, as well as other tax exemptions, such as hunting items, energy star appliances, and emergency preparedness items, throughout the remainder of the year.  Here is a list of states nationwide that will be offering tax holidays in August, September, and October 2015:

Alabama August 7-9, 2015

  • Clothing – $100
  • Computers – $750
  • School supplies – $50
  • Books – $30

Florida August 7-16, 2015

  • Clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $100 or less per item
  • School supplies selling for $15 or less per item
  • Computers and certain computer-related accessories when purchased for noncommercial home or personal use: on the first $750 of the sales price.

Georgia October 2-4, 2015

The following items, when purchased for noncommercial home or personal use will be exempt:

  • Energy Star Qualified Products with a sales price of $1,500.00 or less per item
  • WaterSense Products with a sales price of $1,500.00 or less per item.

Iowa August 7-8, 2015

  • Clothing & footwear, each item up to $100

Louisiana August 7-8, 2015

  • The Louisiana Annual Sales Tax Holiday provides an exemption from state sales tax on the first $2,500 of the purchase price of most individual items of tangible personal property for non-business use. The state sales tax is payable on the portion of the purchase price of any individual item in excess of $2,500.

Louisiana September 4-6, 2015

The sales tax holiday applies to all consumer purchases of firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies. Firearms eligible for the sales tax exemption include shotguns, rifles, pistols, revolvers, or other handguns, which may be legally sold or purchased in Louisiana. Ammunition intended to be fired from a gun or firearm is eligible for the sales tax exemption. Hunting supplies are eligible for the sales tax exemption only if used for and designed for hunting. Eligible hunting supplies include:

  • Animal feed that is manufactured and marketed as being for consumption primarily by game, which can be legally hunted; this does not include food for animals kept as pets
  • Apparel such as safety gear, camouflage clothing, jackets, hats, gloves, mittens, face masks and thermal underwear manufactured and marketed as being primarily for wear or use while hunting
  • Archery items used for hunting such as bows, crossbows, arrows, quivers and shafts
  • Bags to carry game or hunting gear
  • Belts that are manufactured and marketed as being primarily for use in hunting
  • Binoculars only if purchased to be used for hunting
  • Blinds
  • Chairs to be used for hunting; this excludes purchases by an individual of chairs or other furniture for household, business or other recreational use
  • Decoys
  • Firearm, archery, and other accessories designed for hunting
  • Float tubes only if purchased to be used for hunting
  • Hearing protection gear and enhancements
  • Holsters
  • Hunting shoes or boots designed and used for hunting
  • Knives that are manufactured and marketed as being primarily for use in hunting; this excludes the purchase of knives by an individual to be used for household, business or other recreational use
  • Miscellaneous gear that is manufactured and marketed as being primarily for use in hunting; this includes other hunting-related gear or supplies not previously listed. This excludes the purchase of toy guns and vessels or off road vehicles utilized as children’s toys;
  • Off-road vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles designed and intended primarily for hunting; the exemption does not apply to golf carts, go-carts, dirt bikes, mini-bikes, motorcycles, tractors, motor vehicles which may be legally driven on the streets and highways of Louisiana, or heavy equipment such as cranes, forklifts, backhoes and bulldozers;
  • Optical equipment such as rifle scopes and impact resistant glasses for shooting
  • Range finders
  • Slings
  • Tools that are manufactured and marketed as being primarily for use in hunting;
  • Tree stands
  • Decoys
  • Vessels such as airboats and pirogues designed and intended for hunting.

Maryland August 9-15, 2015

  • clothing & footwear, each item up to $100

Missouri August 7-9, 2015

  • Clothing – any article having a taxable value of $100 or less
  • School supplies – not to exceed $50 per purchase
  • Computer software – taxable value of $350 or less
  • Personal computers – not to exceed $3,500
  • Computer peripheral devices – not to exceed $3,500

New Mexico August 7-9, 2015

  • Clothing & footwear, each item up to $100
  • Computers: desktop, laptop, tablets or notebook up to $1,000
  • Related computer hardware – $500
  • School supplies for use in standard, general-education classrooms must be under $30 per unit

Ohio August 7-9, 2015

  • Clothing priced at $75 per item or less
  • School supplies priced at $20 per item or less
  • School instructional material priced at $20 per item or less

Oklahoma August 7-9, 2015

  • Clothing & footwear, each item up to $100

South Carolina August 7-9, 2015

  • Clothing, footwear, and clothing accessories (e.g., hats, scarves, hosiery, and handbags)
  • School supplies (e.g., pens, pencils, paper, binders, notebooks, books, bookbags, lunchboxes, and calculators)
  • Computers, printers and printer supplies, computer software
  • Home goods: bath wash clothes, blankets, bed spreads, bed linens, sheet sets, comforter sets, bath towels, shower curtains, bath rugs and mats, pillows, and pillow cases

Tennesse

  • Clothing: $100 or Less
  • School Supplies: $100 or Less
  • Computers: $1,500 or Less

Texas  August 7-9, 2015

  • Clothing & footwear: $100 of Less
  • School Supplies: $100 or Less

 

Virginia August 7-9, 2015

  • School Supplies, Clothing, and Footwear:
    • Qualified school supplies – $20 or less per item
    • Qualified clothing and footwear – $100 or less per item
    • Detailed list of school supplies, clothing and footwear
  • Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Items:
    • Portable generators – $1,000 or less per item
    • Gas-powered chainsaws – $350 or less per item
    • Chainsaw accessories – $60 or less per item
    • Other specified hurricane preparedness items with a sales price of $60 or less per item
    • Detailed list of hurricane preparedness items
  • Energy Star andWaterSense Items:
    • Qualifying items carrying either the Energy Star or WaterSense label with a sales price of $2,500 or less purchased for noncommercial home or personal use.
    • Qualifying Energy Star items include dishwashers, clothes washers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, light bulbs, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators
    • Qualifying WaterSense items include bathroom sink faucets, faucet accessories such as aerators and shower heads, toilets, urinals, and landscape irrigation controllers
    • Detailed list of Energy Star and WaterSense items

Money Lessons We Can Learn From the Game of Monopoly

 Monopoly Money Lessons | Money Savvy Living

 

Guest post by Amy Nickson, writer at Working Moms Word

 

Monopoly—the classic board game, which is quite popular among children and adults for over 100 years, is way more than just entertainment for family fun night. While you can enjoy the fun of becoming a real estate tycoon playing this game, there are also many educational lessons to be learned as well. The game offers the opportunity for players to make budgeting, investing, and financial decisions, which can help in remaining financially prudent. Following are 8 money lessons which you can learn from the monopoly board game and can apply when managing your own personal finances.

 

Value of budgeting

A successful monopoly player is a good at budgeting. Because the concept is similar, you can apply the same formula while playing the game or creating your monthly budget as well. The board game can teach you to make a realistic budget based on your income and expenses. The winner of this game can easily meet his/her each expenses and save money.

 

Giving priority to an emergency fund

A monopoly player knows well how unpredictable the game is. The player should prepare beforehand to manage any situation. Just like unforeseen circumstances arise in a Monopoly board game, it can happen in your real-life financial situation as well. You never know when you will face an emergency—such as being laid off of a job or an accident—which can use up a savings account that you’ve taken years to build. You should have an emergency fund so that you can face the financial need with solid backup. Having such an emergency fund can minimize your chances of having to sell your assets or take out loans to meet your current obligations.

 

Being a responsible decision maker

The Monopoly game helps people learn to make a proper decisions through critical thinking strategies. For instance, all players should start with the same amount of money to play the game, but, the important thing is how well you can manage your money. While “luck” can be attributed to success in the game and in real life, you still have control over the purchases that you make and assess the risk/reward of each investment. You must learn to overcome whatever comes your way and still manage your finances properly.

 

Importance of negotiation

One of the most important tricks to win the monopoly game is proper negotiation. In real life you should have the skill to negotiate with many people such as creditors, utility suppliers, sellers etc. This will help you to get best finance deals and save your hard earned money as well.

 

Investing money wisely

To ultimately be successful, there are no alternatives to making wise investment decisions. You should invest your money to make it grow with time. You’ll have to take chances and invest your money instead of simply leaving it in the bank. But for this, you need to be updated on the financial market and know all strategies well. Think about your time horizon, risk tolerance, and diversification. For more information about investing read these articles:

Investing: How to choose which investment products are right for you

Investing: Growth vs value

 

No Excuses

You probably didn’t realize that playing Monopoly could teach players lessons about personal responsibility. You shouldn’t make any excuses about losing the game. Likewise, you should not skip any chance to win while you’re playing the game either. Just like in the game, your real-life financial decisions have consequences. Unlike the game, though, the real-life decisions can have long-lasting effects. Making the unwise financial decision to overspend on credit cards, for instance, can take you years—maybe decades—to pay off.

 

Significance of building a strong asset base

Remember, building a strong asset base will help you to get passive income—income which you are not actively involved with earning. You can easily live off the passive money and can save your active income—salary from your job or business income. In the monopoly board game, the number of properties gets the advantage and control over the board, but one must also consider the value of the assets. For example, it is much better to own Park Place and Boardwalk (higher value assets that yield higher returns), rather than Mediterranean, Baltic, Oriental, Vermont, and Connecticut Avenues combined (lower valued assets, which yield lower returns).

 

Taking care of assets

In order to win the game, it’s very important to make improvement on the properties you’ve bought. You should reinvest in your properties by building houses and hotels to improve your income and financial position. In your real life, it should be your constant effort to boost your assets and minimize your financial obligations. Thus, you can achieve financial freedom in the long run. The bottom line is, don’t rely on financial shortcuts because they can ruin your financial stability.

 

 

Live Rich—Even on a Budget

Live Rich even on a Budget | Money Savvy Living

 

Living on a budget doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice quality. When people think of sticking to a budget, they automatically think that means that they have to give up something or choose cheaper, inferior-quality products or services. This definitely doesn’t have to be the case. If you’re savvy enough, you might get away with merely using a budget calculator.  Many times, you can keep the same lifestyle or still choose the high-quality products, you just have to be a bit savvier about when and how you purchase these items. Take a look at these seven ways that you, too, can live the good life… on a budget.

 

Golf

Everyone wants a 7:00 am tee time on a Saturday morning, right? While the sun peeking through the trees and the dew still shimmering on the grass does make for a beautiful and tranquil golfing experience, you can get a similar experience—possibly at half price—by going later in the day. Ok, the dew will be gone, but if you opt for a later afternoon tee time, the prices are much cheaper for 18 holes. Save yourself even more money, and take an early evening spot for nine holes of golf. Weekends are also the busiest time, so prices drop even more if you are willing to golf on weekday afternoons or evenings. Many courses also offer discounts on golf packages for the season, which can save you some money as well. We always hear about what an expensive sport golf is—but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing the best time to book your round can give you the golfing experience that you are looking for, at a fraction of the cost.

 

Sporting Events

Next time you want to attend a professional baseball game, you may want to look at going to the minor league version instead. Not only can you avoid the huge crowds, expensive parking, and the mile hike to the stadium, but you will save at least 50% on ticket prices. It is no surprise that the food at the concession stands are much cheaper as well. But the nicest thing about attending these minor league games is that the stadiums are just as nice as the bigger stadiums, and every seat is close to the action! Same great ball park experience, at a budget-friendly price.

 

Designer Clothing

If the designer label means a lot to you, but you don’t want to spend the designer price, there are still ways in which you can buy these clothes without breaking the bank. Of course, you are probably familiar with websites, such as Overstock.com or Zulily for bargains on designer goods; however, there is also a new trend in the world of second-hand designer goods. Poshmark, is an app that allows women to buy—and sell—lightly used designer fashions, so you can pick up some good deals, but also sell some of your own used designer items and pick up a few bucks along the way.

 

Luxury Car

While the thought of slipping into a brand new car and driving it off the car lot is appealing, you may want to think twice before signing and driving because once that car pulls off the lot, it is going to depreciate in value. That is good news, though. It means that you can pick up a used luxury car for a lot less than a new one. Even though it will have a few miles on it, the luxury amenities— such as leather, heated seats, premium sound system, and pretty much automatic everything—are still going to be just as nice. You can check out Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book to price and compare new and used car prices. For instance, if you are looking at buying a brand new 2015 BMW 335i Sedan, the price is around $39,500, but a used 2008 BMW 335i Sedan, with approximately 60,000 miles on it, is about 50-60% less than a new one, ranging from $15,800-$18,800.

 

Vacations

Even if you are on a budget, you can still take a nice vacation. The caveat is that you have to know when to go on vacation. Timing really is everything when it comes to being able to get a luxury vacation at a frugal price. If you want to plan a beach vacation, don’t go during the busy season—summer. Pricing during the busy season will cost you double, if not triple, what the same room would be during the off-season. A good rule of thumb for traveling, in addition to a destination’s peak season, is that holiday and weekends are typically going to cost you a bit more. An added bonus of traveling during non-peak season or non-holidays is that you will avoid the huge crowds too. If you have a flexible travel schedule, then you may also be able to take advantage of last-minute deals too.  For more ideas on how to save money on your next vacation, check out my article, Frugal Vacation Planning: 10 Ways to Save Money

Frugal Vacation Planning: 10 Ways to Save Money | Money Savvy Living

 

Fine Dining

Believe it or not, you can still eat out at the five-star restaurants—even if you are on a budget. Again, knowing when to go, makes all the difference. Many times, these restaurants are open for lunch, or even have early-bird or weeknight specials. The food tastes just as delicious, and you will experience the same up-scale atmosphere and excellent service, but by avoiding the evening dinner pricing and the weekend crowds, you can have your Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée—or cake—and eat it too.

 

Going to the Movies

If you went to the movies recently for date night, you know that the tickets and popcorn can really add up—and even more so, if you took the whole family. However, there is a way to still catch the newest Hollywood blockbusters without busting your budget: opt for the matinee or go during the weekdays—weekend and evening prices are always a bit higher. And if you don’t have the will-power to walk by the concession stand, and I know that I don’t—I mean, what is a movie without popcorn?!—share a larger size popcorn, rather than buying individual sizes and save a few dollars. And if you want to save even more money at the movies, Cinemark is running family-friendly kid specials all summer long for $1 per ticket, and even discounts on popcorn and drinks.

 

5 Ways for Kids to Earn Money this Summer

5 Ways for Kids to Earn Money this Summer | Money Savvy Living

 

I like to think that I don’t just give my kids everything they ask for and want. My husband and I make a conscious effort to try to teach them the value of money and the feeling of accomplishment that they get when they have worked hard to earn money—and then saved up to buy something that they really wanted, like iPods.

 

Ok, I admit that I am a bit of a softy when it comes to buying them “small things” or even a package of overpriced Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Oreo cookies—you know, the packages that are like half the size of a regular package of Oreo’s but still the same price!

 

But for me, being able to tell the kids “no” was not always easy—especially during the toddler stage. Every mother knows that when you tell a toddler “no” in the middle of the store, tears start falling and the wailing ensues as though the child is actually in some sort of real pain. It’s a meltdown in the middle of the store. Shopping is over. Whatever you came to the store for needs to already be in the cart because it’s time to check out.

 

At least this gets better when they get older. Now, instead of the total meltdown, it’s just an over-exaggerated, dramatic whine, “We never get anything we want!” But at least now, they understand—money doesn’t just magically appear in daddy and mommy’s wallets—it has to be earned.

 

We are about one month into summer break already. So to keep the kiddos from getting restless, here are a few ways that they can stay busy, be productive, and even earn a little spending money:

 

Selling snacks at a garage sale is a great way for kids to earn a little extra cash.

Selling snacks at a garage sale is a great way for kids to earn a little extra cash.

 

Garage Sale

Every year, we have a big garage sale and the boys sort through toys that they want to get rid of and sell them for a few extra bucks. But their big ticket money at the garage sale comes from the snacks that they sell: water, pop, cookies, and chips. We buy it at Sam’s Club, figure out how much each item actually costs, and sell them for $0.50 each—then they figure out their profit. Earning money and a little math lesson too. Win-win.

 

Mow Lawns

Mowing lawns during the summer can be a great source of income for older kids or even teens. There may be many neighbors that are willing to pay your kid to mow the lawn each week. This can be a great service to elderly people or even for families that are busy with work or summer sports and just don’t have a lot of time to keep up with the lawn—your kids can make money and they would probably charge a lot less than an actual lawn service, so it is a savings for those utilizing the service too.  Another win-win.

 

Pull Weeds

If your kids aren’t big enough to handle the lawn mower, offering to pull weeds can be a nice little gig. A few years ago, two boys went around our neighborhood offering to pull weeds for whatever people were willing to pay. I have to say, I appreciate their ingenious summer business endeavor.  And they probably made a lot of money too.

 

Make Items to Sell Online

Of course, mom or dad will have to help with this one, but it you open an Etsy shop, have an account on Ebay, or other online store, you can sell, literally, anything. From hair bows to headbands, friendship bracelets to survival bracelets, to hand-painted mugs, the sky is the limit for creativity—and potential income.

 

Do Extra Chores

I am really not very big on just giving kids money to do stuff they are expected to do. Cleaning up toys, making the bed, helping with laundry—that is just stuff that I want my kids to do because it must be done and I want them to learn responsibility. However, maybe there are some “big” projects that you can give them to do in addition to their regular household chores: helping clean out the garage, painting the shed, or re-organizing the storage area of the basement.

Major Credit Card Changes are Coming, October 2015

Major Credit Card Changes Coming | Money Savvy Living

Major changes are coming to a store—and wallet—near you this fall.

It is something that you do several times a week and probably don’t even think about it. You go to the store and upon paying for your goods, swipe your credit card and then sign at the terminal. But soon, this will be a thing of the past.

 

Starting in October 2015, a big change-over is coming to stores nationwide—and to your very own wallet. Swipe-and-sign credit card terminals will be replaced with new terminals, chip-and-PIN, which you will insert your credit card into for a chip to provide information and can enter a PIN for verification—as opposed to swiping the magnetic strip and signing. You are probably already familiar with this process if you have ever used your bank card at the ATM: insert your card and enter your PIN number to complete the transaction.

 

So why are credit card companies making this widespread switch?

There are a couple of benefits to switching to this new chip-and-PIN system, known as EMV:

 

Operates Offline—while being able to access information from both credit card and bank to authorize an expedient transaction is not a problem in the U.S. as it has been in other parts of the world, it does offer a way to process the transaction independent of this type of communication.

Digital Seal

A transaction-unique digital signature in the chip proves its authenticity in an offline location and averts criminals from using fraudulent cards 

 

Reduce Fraud—many markets around the world have already switched to this system in order to reduce fraud, which has actually had the effect of rising fraud here in the U.S. Whether being used as EMV Contact or Contactless, the payment chip cards hold an embedded microchip, which is a type of small computer that provides robust security features and other capabilities not possible with magnetic stripe cards.

EMV Contact

You may have noticed a metallic square on the front of some of your current credit cards; this is used for an EMV contact card is known as the card’s contact plate. A microchip is embedded in a small cavity directly behind the contact plate, protected by a thin resin capsule. When inserted into a card acceptance device, such as a terminal, the contact plate allows the chip to connect to a reader. This connection enables the chip to get power from and exchange data with the terminal.

EMV Contactless

Contactless EMV works by holding a contactless, chip-enabled payment device, such as a credit card or smartphone, within proximity of a contactless-capable reader. The reader activates the chip embedded in the card and allows exchange of data via radio frequency without the payment device ever leaving the customer’s possession.

Major Credit Card Changes | Money Savvy Livng 

What is important about the October 2015 deadline?

For the consumer, there is not really anything important about the October 2015 deadline, except for the fact that the process will change and you will probably receive new credit cards in the mail by that time. At least initially, consumers will still be able to sign for purchases if your bank has not chosen to issue cards that require PINs because PINs will not be required as of October 2015.

 

The Liability Shift

 

Part of the October 2015 deadline in our roadmap is what’s known as the ‘liability shift.’ Whenever card fraud happens, we need to determine who is liable for the costs. When the liability shift happens, what will change is that if there is an incidence of card fraud, whichever party has the lesser technology will bear the liability.

 

If a merchant is still using the old system, they can still run a transaction, using a swipe and a signature; however, they will be liable for any fraudulent transactions if the customer has received and is using a chip card. And vice versa—if the merchant has a new terminal, but the bank hasn’t issued a chip-and-PIN card to the customer, the bank would be liable.

 

The main purpose of a liability shift is not merely to shift liability around the market. Its purpose is to provide incentive to create coordination in the market, so you have issuers and merchants investing in the migration at the same time. In theory, fraud is not necessarily shifting around within the system, but being driven out of the system.

 

Some merchants already have the new terminals in place, so be on the lookout over the next few months for these subtle, yet major, changes in the way in which you can pay for goods and services.

Get Your Home Ready To Sell In 3 Simple Steps

Get Your Home Ready to Sell | Money Savvy LivingAs a licensed Realtor, I’m constantly giving advice to clients about how to best prepare their homes for showings. My recommendations don’t just come as part of my profession, but are based on my own experience as a seller. You see, over the last 14 years, my husband and I have been in the position of seller nine times. Seriously, NINE times! Each time we market our home, we follow these simple steps:

 

Declutter, Declutter, Declutter.

This can be anything from rooms overstuffed with bulky furniture, kitchen counters covered with appliances, to closets overflowing. All of these things distract from your home’s selling features. Since you will have to pack everything eventually anyways, clearing out the things that you can now, will make moving that much easier. When you pack, you will have to go through literally every item in your home. If you love it or regularly use it—keep it. If not, this is the perfect time to part with those things you really don’t need: sell items online, have a garage sale or donate charity.

The goal is to make each room feel spacious and functional. It can be a good investment to rent a storage unit for the few months your home will be on the market. It will provide a place to keep all those items that you don’t want to part with, but can’t stay at the home during showings.

 

Take Care of Deferred Maintenance

Though your home might not be brand new, it will be the buyer’s “new” home. If you want top-dollar you have to make buyers feel like they are walking into a move-in-ready home. On the other hand, if your home is full of half-finished projects or has several fixes that need to be made, you are literally leaving money on the table. Spend the time to freshen up paint and make needed repairs. Don’t forget the curb appeal—spruce up the landscaping, put down new mulch, and pressure was the exterior if needed.

 

Make Your Home Shine

Now that your home is decluttered and all of your fixes have been made, there is one final step—cleaning. This step can feel especially hard if you have children. My kids can take a beautiful, show-ready home and have it looking like a tornado came through within minutes! And since keeping the kids out of the house constantly isn’t an option, I had come up with a system to get the house ready.

  • Before your home hits the market deep-clean: wash windows, dust the woodwork, clean the carpets, scrub the bathrooms, clean the garage…you get the idea. This will make it so much easier to go through the house and tidy up quickly before showings. If the major cleaning is done it takes little effort to keep things in order.
  • Before each showing, make a “clean sweep” through each room: open the curtains/blinds, turn on the lights, and make sure nothing was overlooked.

There are a couple of commonly heard “tips” missing from my list. I don’t recommend that clients repaint their home in neutral or completely depersonalize. I think that homes void of color and personality tend to feel cold and uninviting. I’ve never removed my wedding photos from the wall or taken down pictures of my children. In fact, I advise my clients to keep these personal touches, as well as add some colorful pillows, throws, and flowers prior to showings.

Alison

 

Alison is a Licensed Realtor, Recipient of the OAR Award of Achievement, and President’s Sales Club 2013 & 2014.

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The Launch of Moneyworks: Customized Money-Saving Android App

MoneyWorks | Money Savvy LivingMoneyworks is an Android App on Google Play that you can download to help you save money. Of course, there are several money-saving apps out there, but this one is a bit different.

 

Instead of searching for any and all random coupons or deals in your area, Moneyworks will actually analyze your buying history from credit card purchases to find deals/savings that are customized to you and your purchase habits.

 

wand_logo

 

Moneyworks has an extensive network of retailers, from which it will search and find deals on items that you might like. Because this app analyzes your previous purchases, it will send those specific savings to you, so you don’t miss out on a deal just because you didn’t search specifically for an item.

 

Major retailers that Moneyworks searches for deals: Groupon, Yelp, Living Social

Launch of MoneyWorks  App | Money Savvy Living

This app is now available– download this free app today to start receiving your customized savings.

 

*This is a sponsored post

 

 

 

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