Lifestyle

The Childcare Choice: Costs and Benefits of Nannies and Daycares

When you have young children, choosing the best childcare situation – and figuring out how to pay for it – can be a major cause of stress. Some families choose to have a parent stay home while their kids are young, but many just can’t make the numbers work … or simply don’t want to. Whether you work because you have to, because you find it fulfilling or because you want to continue contributing to longer-term financial and career goals, you’re faced with the decision of finding a childcare situation that makes the most sense for your family. According to the Care Index, a significant portion of a family’s pay with children under 18 goes to childcare. Nationally, “the cost of full-time care in child care centers is 85 percent of the monthly U.S. median cost of rent.” In four states, the average cost is more than the average cost…

Holiday Shopping: Save or Splurge

So long, Black Friday. Sayonara, Cyber Monday. It’s the thick of the holiday shopping season. If all your gifts are bought, congratulations. If not, you have plenty of company to stress about buying, wrapping and delivering gifts for the next couple of weeks. With all the holiday hustle and bustle, you’re normal budget judgement may be compromised. So you have to ask yourself, is it worth it to drop the big bucks or is it better to go the frugal route. The answer should always depend on your budget, of course, and there is usually an emotional element at play in the decision. But there is usually a better time of year to buy certain items and it doesn’t always coincide with the holiday season. TVs The door-busting deals may be gone with Black Friday, but this can still be a good time to buy a new TV. However, this…

15 Best Personal Finance Blogs and Podcasts

Every year, the Plutus Awards recognizes and honors the greatest personal finance blogs, podcasts and content creators in a variety of financial niches. These finalists were voted on by other financial bloggers, so you know they are top of the line. Consider adding these blogs and podcasts to your regular rotation. Each shares high quality, fun ways learn more about mastering your money. Well Kept Wallet Deacon Hayes is behind the blog of the year winner, Well Kept Wallet. The multi-author blog features resources on a wide range of topics to help people better manage their money, get out of debt and maybe even retire early. The Well Kept Wallet even addressed the importance of life insurance in the post, “Do You Really Need Life Insurance?”   Stacking Benjamins Joe Saul-Sehy hosts Stacking Benjamins, the podcast of the year winner. It tackles financial news and advice recorded “live in Joe’s…

Moving to “Level Up” Your Real Estate and Finances

In real estate, there is a concept known as a “starter home.” A starter home is a lower cost home that works great for current needs, but may not be a perfect fit for the long-run. While moving is expensive and can be quite a hassle, it can help you level up your real estate and personal finances at the same time. Needs Change Over Time When you move into your first home, you may not have kids, you may not have a dog and you may not have a significant other. But fast forward a few years and life could look a lot different. That is one of the most common reasons people decide to move. Few people can move right into their lifelong dream home right after college or even in their 20s. Due to closing costs, many experts suggest not buying a home unless you plan to…

Want Lower Car Insurance Premiums? Choose Your Car Carefully

Trying to crack the code on everything auto insurance companies look at when deciding what your premium will be is a little like trying beat search engine algorithms. Something you won’t be able to conquer over a weekend, that’s for sure. The good news, however, if you don’t need to consult a secret playbook to get a good rate. There are some things you can watch out for while shopping for a car that can help keep those premiums manageable. Here are the most important: Safety Safety ratings aren’t necessarily top-of-mind while car shopping, so you have to make sure to stay aware of them while you’re being dazzled on the showroom floor or overwhelmed by the selection of a lot. After you’ve stared longingly at the car of your dreams, do your research and check out the safety test ratings. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a great…

What You Need to Know Before Renting Your Home on Airbnb

As of early 2017, more than 150 million people have used Airbnb, the world’s most popular online marketplace for short-term lodging. Globally, that translates into more than 500,000 stays every night. Still, the market isn’t saturated, especially in certain areas. If you want to become an Airbnb host, the platform – and its massive base of enthusiastic users – makes it easy. Still, there are some things to consider before making your property available to rent on Airbnb: Consider When, How and How Often You Want to Rent Depending on your personality, level of commitment and financial expectations, you can approach hosting in a variety of ways. If you have a spare room, you can rent it out while you’re home. Maybe you travel often for work or regularly stay with a significant other, you can rent out your entire space and stay elsewhere. And if you live in a…

Thinking About Your Monthly Cash Flow Like a Business

If you were a business, would you be a profitable one? At the end of each month, do you earn more than you spend? Is your enterprise profitable? While individuals like us go to work and earn an income each month, few of us look at our finances like a business. However, just like a business, we need to earn more than we spend each month and regularly assess our finances to know we are on the right track. Follow these steps to start treating your finances like a business and establish a path to financial success. The Business of You Before getting into the tactical aspects of managing your money like a business, the first step is to get into the mindset of running your finances like a business. This means a mental shift in how you think about and interact with your money. Businesses use accounting software to…

Ride On Insurance – 6 Bicycle Safety Tips

If you’re looking to get fit, slim down, or increase your cardiovascular health, there are few better activities like cycling. It’s easy on your joints, builds muscle, can help you stay lean and improves your balance. One Good Turn Deserves Another A 2000 study found people who regularly ride a bike for an hour a day have an 18 percent lower risk of death than people who never ride. Those who ride for at least an hour and a half have a 28 percent lower risk of death. Much of this reduced mortality may be owed to the lower incidence of heart disease this intensely cardiovascular activity provides. A study of more than 23,000 cyclists showed an 18 percent lower rate of heart disease compared to non-cyclists. The mental benefits of cycling rival the physical. It can reduce anxiety and stress, boost confidence, make you happier, and help you sleep…

Tackling the Tailgate Party with a Money-wise Strategy

Football season is finally here. In most of the country, these first few weeks of the season brings great fall weather, which means your tailgating game needs to be in top form. If you’re the type to roll into the stadium lot with a 30-foot RV with 60-inch flat screens and a giant smoker towing behind it, this post may not be for you. For the rest of us, here’s how to throw a great tailgate party without breaking the bank. Pregame Like any victory, saving money on the tailgate begins with the right game plan. Think about covering every facet of the game: offense (beverages), defense (food) and special teams (everything else). Doing this well ahead of gameday will save you from scrambling at the last minute and committing a major cash turnover. Offense For many, this tailgate party begins and ends with adult beverages. Sure, three kinds of…

5 Practical Ways to Unplug From Technology

The internet is littered with articles about how to unplug from technology, but the recommendations are often fairly extreme. Suggestions like only checking your email inbox at lunch, leaving your phone at home when you go on vacation, deactivating your Facebook account or ditching the smartphone altogether ring hollow for most of us. When you’re working in a different time zone from your boss, you’re likely expected to stay on top of your email. When you’re away from home, your smartphone is the best way for the dog boarding facility or your mother to get in touch with you. Plus, it houses the camera you use to capture memories. Not being connected or going back to a basic cell phone is not how real life works at all. Extreme tactics make it tempting to discount any suggestions for unplugging as impractical and unrealistic. But it is important to make sure…

Navigate