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About Death and Incapacitation

It is not something we like to talk about or even think about.

A bunch of us were collecting money for a group gift.

“I’ll send you money soon” one women wrote “my husband is not home and I don’t know the login to my bank account. He takes care of the finances.”

I have no problem with any division of labor in a relationship. If a couple decides that the husband should be on charge of the finances completely, I have no problem with that. Do what work for you. If she wanted to wait till her husband came home to discuss this with him or have him handle the money transfer, then that’s great. What I have a problem with is that if something would have happened to her husband- she would not have had a way to access her money.

(Disclaimer: I am using the terms husband and wife in this post but this obviously applies to any type of relationship you may have and whomever you have who takes care of your finances: whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, significant other, mother, father, great-aunt etc.)

Think for one moment (even though you don’t want to)- what would happen if you husband (or whomever takes care of the finances) would die or be incapacitated for whatever reason. WOULD YOU HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR MONEY? WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO USE YOUR MONEY? Do you know where the money is hidden? What the code to the safe is? Would you know where your money is? Do you have the login info? Do you know how to retrieve the money you need? DO you know how to pay your bills?

For some of you reading this, you may think this is crazy. Of course you know this information- if so-good for you! But you would be surprised by how many people (particularly women) DO NOT have this information or access.

I was talking about this with some friends- one person had an issue with this: what’s the big deal? Just reset the password? Just go to the bank with paperwork and they will give you access. Possibly. Probably. But how long would it take? Do you have access to the email account which is connected to the bank account? Do you have paperwork proving you should have access to the money? Can you wait until Monday at 9 am to do this? Do you have time to wait for the manager to verify your identity?

Chances are, when unfortunately dealing with death or incapacitation this is NOT something you want to deal with.

So…

Know where your money is. Know which accounts you have and with which banks. If for some reason, you have separate accounts or private accounts- perhaps consider having a list of some sort (in a SAFE, SECURE space) that lists these details for the person you wish to have access to your account in the event you are unable to communicate with them.

Make sure your spouse knows that passwords to your bank accounts, email accounts etc. If you can’t trust them with this information than perhaps you should reconsider your relationship.

Designate your spouse as your emergency contact and “additional user?” on your accounts, credit cards etc.
If you have separate credit cards, consider naming your spouse as an additional user who has access the credit card as well.

If you spouse is unwilling to give you this information- you must seriously consider why. Financial abuse is a real thing and help is available if you need it. (Contact https://www.thehotline.org/ if you feel you may be the victim of financial abuse)

Again, this doesn’t mean that you have to take care of your daily finances if that doesn’t work in your relationship. Many couples are very happy with the division of labor that they have chosen. That’s ok. But make sure that you have the KNOWLEDGE and ACCESS that you need in case of an emergency.

Caring about someone means making sure they have the ability to take care of themselves after you are gone as well.

Poor People Can Also Travel for Fun

Vacations and traveling are fun but can get really expensive. Hotels, flights, rental cars-these all add up scarily quickly. So how can you see the world and enjoy your vacations without breaking the bank?

The best way to travel on a budget is by utilizing credit cards. There are some who manage to do crazy expensive trips just using credit card points and perks. Check out dansdeals.com or http://millionmilesecrets.com/ for advice on how to do that. I am going to focus on some easier and simpler ways to use credit cards for travel.

The concept is simple: open a credit card, spend the minimum spend to receive the sign-up bonus and then open another credit card and do the same thing. DO NOT SPEND MONEY ON A CREDIT CARD THAT YOU CANNOT PAY BACK IMMEDIATELY. The point is not to rack up credit card debt but to put your regular spending on a credit card that will give you the most bang for your buck. I will be talking more about my rules for credit cards in a later post.

My Three Favorite Cards:

  1. IHG credit card: This card gives a nice sign-up bonus but also gives you 1 free night at any IHG hotel once a year. There is a $49 annual fee but it is worth it for the free night you get! IHG also has 5000 point promotions where you can book rooms at select hotels for 5000 points. This can stretch your points pretty far if you plan correctly! This card also has a low spend required for the sign-up bonus which makes it a pretty sweet card! (https://creditcards.chase.com/travel-credit-cards/ihg-rewards-club?)
  2. British Airways Card- This card has an $89 fee but gives you British Avios which can be used on many airlines both domestic and international. I think this card has the most flexibility for international flights which is why I recommend this card.( https://creditcards.chase.com/travel-credit-cards/british-airways?)
  3. Barclays Travel- The Barclay Arrival Plus has a $89 annual fee (waived the first year). This card gives you points back on travel related purchases (besides for the nice sign-up bonus). This card is great if you want to travel on budget carriers because you purchase a ticket and then use the cash back to pay for it. (https://home.barclaycardus.com/cards/barclaycard-arrival-plus-world-elite-mastercard.html)

If you are creative, okay with being limited in your flight and hotel options than you can do some great trips for cheap! There are other credit cards that you can use as well: Jet Blue, Chase Sapphire, Southwest, Hyatt etc. Do some research and figure out which is the best for where you want to travel!

Pass the Beets! Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Part of this post originally appeared in an article on Student Loan Hero’s Blog. Read the full article here.

We’ve all heard the common advice about shopping on a budget: make a list and stick to it. We’ve all heard it. Plan out what you need and then only buy what you need. Meal plan, meal plan- we’ve all heard it! However, when it comes to foods shopping however, I say: do the opposite!

When shopping on a budget, I go to the store, see what’s on sale and then plan my meals around what I buy. So I do meal plan- but based on what I bought, I don’t buy based on what I plan. Tomatoes are on sale? Go home and google tomato recipes. Canned corn is on sale? Look in your cookbooks for recipes with corn. Some of my favorite food recipes I found because I was searching what to do with food that I bought. And you will discover new foods that you like. I had a memorable two weeks where I tried tons of beet dishes because beets were dirt cheap. Turns out I really like beets!

Obviously don’t buy two pounds of bulgur just because it was on sale if you never tried it before and you may not like it but once you do try it and love it, run out and buy some more- some for eating and some for stocking up. It’s a good habit to buy one extra thing to keep in your pantry. When a staple or a favorite goes on sale, buy it and put it in your closet.

When you plan your meals around what’s cheap and available you can stay within your budget and eat deliciously even when you’re tightly budgeted. Don’t fall into the trap of finding delicious recipes online that have exotic or expensive ingredients and then go buy them. Buy the ingredients and then go find the delicious recipes!

Do you have more tips on how to save money on food? Hit the comments!

 

Read the full article here: https://studentloanhero.com/featured/money-saving-tips-mommy-blogger-secrets/

How To Save Money on Back to School Supplies

Read the full article where these tips were originally published:  https://www.opploans.com/blog/how-to-save-on-back-to-school-supplies/

1. Make a budget and stick to it. If you have older kids, let them know in advance how much they have to spend. This way they can pick which items they want to “splurge” on and which ones they don’t. They may want to spend a lot on a nice notebook but stick to the cheaper pencils and pens.

2. Shop online and shop early. Many stores have back-to-school deals on certain items already. Quickly glance through some deal sites and store ads to see which items are on sale and stock up on the basics- pens, notebooks etc.

3. Coupon and cashback. Look online for coupons and take advantage of cashback apps. These little savings can add up in a big way!

4. See what you can reuse. Not everything needs to be new every year. Go through last year’s supplies and see what can be used, passed down and what needs to be replaced.

5. Plan before you shop. Make sure you have your school supply lists along with an idea of what items you already have so you don’t end up overbuying. If you have multiple kids that need the same items you may be able to split value packs as well so make sure to have an idea of what each child needs BEFORE you shop.

Happy shopping!

It’s a New Year! (for parents anyways)

It’s almost the end of summer and for most it’s the beginning of a new year. Forget New Year’s! For all those who have kids in school August and September are the real beginning of the new year. As a mother of 2, my year begins now and ends summer time! And it’s time for New Year’s resolutions! This is a great time to look over your budget and make some plans for how things will be different this year. Make yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea and sit down with your partner (if you have one) and:

  1. Review your Budget- (assuming you have one!- and if you don’t make one now. Or yesterday.) As the school year begins,it is a perfect time to review how much money you can spend. As kids grow older, their needs change and summer is a good time to map out what you think you may need for this year. Anyone going to need braces? Teenage girl wanting lots of new clothes? Bike for your 5-year old? Now is a good time to review where your money is going and what you need to save up and budget for.
  2. Set up Systems. The best way to save is to set up systems. How? Set up automatic deposits into your savings accounts. Even if you only have $5 a month to spare, make sure that it is regularly deposited into a savings accounts. We have very busy lives and it hard to remember to save every month (especially when dealing with small amounts- it doesn’t seem worth it!) But when you have the money regularly going into an account it really adds up. And if you set up automatic payments and withdrawals you won’t even miss the money!
  3. Set a goal. Decide where you want to be financially next summer. Think about what your financial bliss is. Then take steps and step up systems to make that happen.

This is a condescending post

Here Goes:

Make coffee at home.

Don’t eat out.

Don’t buy things you don’t need.

Get less manicures.

So reads the lists of “50 ways to save money and become a millionaire overnight” that every personal finance blog and website has. The theory behind this click bait article is that everyone is really secretly rich but because they spend their money badly they are instead living in poverty. After all, poor people are poor because they don’t know anything about personal finance. If you would just stop subscribing to every subscription know to man-kind you would become as rich as Bill Gates. After all, Bill Gates makes his own coffee. (I don’t actually know if this is true but seems like the type of thing I would read somewhere). The condescending tone of these posts seem to imply that you (yes, you!) are spending so much money on silly things that if you stop then you become a millionaire! (Overnight!)

And I guess maybe these lists are good for some people. If you do all those things and don’t have enough money and aren’t saving then you should stop. Seriously. Stop. Its stupid. (And maybe one day I will write one as well to get some clicks and maybe also help someone save a dime) But what if you are one of those people (like me!) who read through those lists (avidly) and don’t have one thing to stop spending on?! I don’t buy coffee, I don’t eat out, I don’t have subscriptions. Because here is the problem with the “blog” mindset. They want you to believe that everyone can be rich. Everyone really is rich and here are a few simple ways to make that happen. The thing is that if you were truly making “rich” money than the coffee isn’t really making or breaking you. And the thing is that a lot of people are not earning a “rich” salary. And it’s not necessarily because we don’t hustle enough.

Some people just aren’t going to be rich. And that is OK. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to make it big. What you have to do is make it OK. And that means doing the best you can with what you got. And what you got is the middle-class salary that most of us are earning. Or the big salary in a big city where you can’t afford housing.

Now, don’t get me wrong- don’t buy coffee too often (I really never do, unless I am in an airport) and when you do buy something make sure that it is in your budget. We are very strict about budgets. But stop looking to get rich. Stop thinking that all it takes is a little will-power and a fewer manicures to make that happen. Live within your means. Spend what you can. Save WHATEVER you can. Work towards meaningful, achievable goals (Emergency Fund, Home ownership, Retirement Account) and stop feeling bad that you aren’t one day going to be super rich. Its OK. Really.

Why I Didn’t Get a Raise

Well, actually I did get a raise. Sort of.

My boss gave me a raise but I didn’t give it to myself. What do I mean? Right now I am at the point where I am “making it” day to day but there are still goals that I need to meet. My emergency fund is not fully funded. I have some big purchases that I need to save up for.

My raise is going to pay for that. If I have been fine with my current paycheck then I can live without my raise. The first thing I did when I was told that I would be getting a raise is increase my retirement savings contribution. If the money is immediately accounted for-then I will never miss it! I then sat down and decided how much more needs to go into each of my savings accounts- my emergency fund, my large purchases account etc. After a while, I will increase my discretionary spending but not until I bulk up my savings a bit!

Don’t think that this means that I make so much money that I don’t need the money from my raise- I absolutely do! But if I have been living poorely until now I can do it a little longer until I feel that my savings accounts are in a better place. I can do without now so that my future is a little more secure. And trust me-I do without often!

“Extra money” is the best money to put away- if you never had it then it doesn’t hurt as much to part with it.

3 Tips to Boost your Savings

  1. In order to save money you have to set systems in place. When you are following a set of rules that you make for yourself it is easier to make sure that you save. So I recommend having a specific amount of money that is set aside each month- this can be wither a dollar amount or a percentage of your paycheck, ex 20%. This amount gets taken from your paycheck immediately! If you get paid by check or direct deposit- the minute the money hits your account you transfer it to your savings account. Many accounts allow you to do automatic deposits so you can set those up to withdraw money from your checking account and into your savings account the day you get paid. If you get paid in cash, immediately separate the savings portion and place it aside. Don’t go shopping before having the savings portion in a separate envelope that you won’t spend. Tell yourself that it is not your money. It belongs to your savings account- not to you.
  2. Dream! Your state of mind is very important when it comes to saving. If you feel like you are depriving yourself in order to save then you are more likely to keep spending the money instead of saving. If you allow yourself to dream and imagine what opportunities your savings will allow you later in life you will have an easier time putting that money away.
  3. Celebrate small goals! Set small achievable goals for saving and then celebrate when you reach them. You can make a visual aid to help you stay on track and celebrate those small successes!

I Don’t Need Hand Weights to Exercise

I don’t need hand weights to exercise or how I exercise on a really tight budget..

I started exercising. I haven’t done any real exercise in a while and I decided it was about time I started again. I really wanted to go to a Pilates class in the area but kept balking at the cost. After a little soul-searching I decided that I really did not need to spend money on a class to begin exercising. I took out an old DVD (good thing my new laptop has a DVD player- many new notebooks don’t!) and decided to start doing Jillian Michael’s 30-day shred instead. Of course, my mind started racing- I really should get a new DVD- this one is so old. I need new weights. I need a good yoga mat. A nice new water bottle. I can do this for hours- think of things I need to get started. Have you ever spent tons of money on a new hobby or health kick? I do it all the time!

This time, I decided it would be different. I would use the old DVD. I would use my kids play-mat as a mat. I would pull out my old, too-tight leggings. And I would use water bottles as weights. Is it effective as real weights? Probably not- but sitting in front of the TV is not great exercise yet. For some reason, I often think that if I am not going to do it perfectly I probably shouldn’t do it at all. That thinking wasn’t really doing me any favors and I did really need to exercise. So I decided to start with what I have. And I did! Yes- its not perfect but the workout is plenty hard enough without my hand weights.

I decided that hand weights would be my reward for actually sticking to my exercise regime. Exercise regularly for 2 weeks and I would buy myself hand weights. This was I would have a “reward” for sticking to my new routine and I wouldn’t spend money for something that wouldn’t get used. I wanted to prove to myself that it would be money well spent before spending it. When you are on a tight budget- every little amount adds up and it would be shame to spend it on something that wouldn’t get used. Having a reward to look forward to really helps keep me motivated and determined to succeed. I want those hand weights! Now I only have 2 more work-outs until I “earn” them! And I know I will!

A Deal is only a Deal if you can Afford it…

A deal is only a deal if you can afford it… Keep on repeating that to yourself as all the Black Friday deals start popping up on your feed and you pass all those ads.

Black Friday can be a day to get some good stuff but it can also be a day where you blow all your money on impulse shopping.

So here are some tips to guide you through the weekend:

  1. Make a list of what you need and stick to the list. Spending $16.97 on Rubbermaid Storage Containers is great if you need storage containers, but if you never use storage containers then it’s just $17 in the garbage even though it’s technically a good deal.
  2. Decide how much you want to spend and don’t spend more! The same advice that always applies is even more applicable for Black Friday. Make a budget and stick to it! There is great pride to be had in not going over your spending limit.
  3. Allot some money for splurging. How much will you spend on impulse shopping and on fun things you see and don’t really need. It’s ok to splurge if you have the cash to back it up.
  4. Don’t count on rebates. Rebates can bring your purchase price down by a lot but don’t buy something unless you can afford to cover the entire amount. Rebates have a nasty habit of being lost, forgotten, rejected or take an endless amount of time to arrive. So if you won’t be able to afford to pay for the whole things- don’t buy it.
  5. DON’T FEEL PRESSURE- with all the advertising and marketing dollars spent over the next few days it’s hard not to get caught up in the pressure of needing to buy stuff. It can get to the point where you feel as if you “missed out” by not getting any “good deals” and being left out of all the action BUT there is nothing to gain by shopping for the sake of shopping. Don’t wake up tomorrow feeling like you spent all your money on things you don’t need and won’t use. Many of these items will probably go on sale again at one point and if you are frugal and stick to your budget then you can pay full price for these items at a later point.

Happy Saving!