Help Your Parents with Their Financials

How Can You Help Your Parents Manage Their Finances?

As the years pass responsibilities shift. One day you may wake up and realize you have become the caretaker of the family.  Your parents may no longer have the ability to make reasonable financial decisions and you have to step up to the plate.

Research shows that your ability to make financial decisions peaks at the age of 50 and can rapidly decline after the age of 70. However, it can be rather difficult to convince your parents you  (the person they raised) can teach them a thing or two.

Instead of changing their mind, try to encourage them to consolidate and simplify their finances. How?

Lower the amount of opened accounts

Help them bring their money to one financial institution and one brokerage firm. Then help them reduce the number of credit cards they hold. Ideally, you want them to keep 2 credit cards; one for groceries and one for automatic payments.

 

Pick a Power of Attorney

Having power of attorney allows you to have decision over your parents’ financial matters. It is normal for an elderly parent to neglect your recommendations. They see you as the small person they raised and forget you are a grown adult. A power of attorney will make your life a little easier in case something happens to them. You need to have the time to go over all of their accounts, insurance policies and balance sheets if necessary. It takes great responsibility to have power of attorney. All decisions must benefit your parents and you must be involved in their lives entirely. It is also important to be transparent about the decisions you make with your siblings, parents, and all parties concerned.

 

Analyze their Investment Accounts

You have to make sure only 30 percent of your parents’ money is in stock. The rest of their money should be in corporate and government bonds. The reason behind this statement is that your parents need to have immediate access to their money and do not have the time to make up for any losses.

Lastly, if your parents have plenty of money to care for their needs and want to leave some assets behind to benefit grandkids, consult a money manager. It is better to get seek professional help in order to avoid any future issues.


How Can You Save on Your Electrical Bill?

Living in Florida has its benefits. You never have to shovel mountains of snow; you never pay an individual state income tax and can enjoy the beach all year-round. However, the never-ending summer leads to the excessive use of air conditioning. Therefore, your electric bill keeps climbing.

If you are looking to reduce your electric bill and save money, our tips will certainly help you.

  1. Never leave your electronics turned on.

Most of you know this, but do you actually turn off your devices before leaving the house?

Computers, TV’s, coffee makers, and gaming devices should be turned off when they aren’t being used. That means you don’t have to keep them on when you are in the house showering, cleaning or sleeping either.

 

  1. Spend time outside.

The more you are outside, the less you will need to use your AC. We are not saying to spend money going out (that will defeat the purpose). You can go to a park with your pets, walk around the beach, or visit a friend. If you aren’t home you don’t need to have the AC on. If you have pets you have an excuse to take them out, and leave it on for them while you are at work.

 

  1. Invest in a smart thermostat

A sophisticated thermostat can help you adjust the temperature of your home according to your individual routines. You can divide your day into blocks and set desire temperatures for each. For example you can adjust your settings to a higher temperature while you’re at work and lower them when you return from work automatically. A smart thermostat can trim cooling cost by 15%.

 

  1. Insulate hot water pipes

According to the Department of Energy, insulating your hot water pipes can reduce your electricity or gas bill $12 annually. Insulating your hot water pipes is inexpensive­­­­­­– especially if you have duct tape at home.

 

Stop overspending in your electrical bill change your habits and start saving money.

 

 


Have fun on a budget!

4 Ways to Avoid Over Spending During the Weekend

If you are smart with your money, chances are you don’t spend much during the week. However, it all gets turned upside down when the weekend comes. You may feel the urgent need to go out, buy new outfits, and have a few drinks with friends, which leads you to spend all you saved up during the week. This is not terrible unless it becomes a habit. Lucky for you, we have some tips that will allow you to have fun during the weekends without overspending.

  1. Make good use of free recreation.

Living in Florida gives you the advantage of having beautiful outside areas where you can have fun, build memories, and relax. Take the beach for example- if you’re smart all you have to pay for is parking. Bring a cooler with some waters from home, food, and a beach ball and enjoy. If you want some drinks, buy them ahead and add them to the cooler. You will be saving a lot more money buying drinks ahead, than buying them at local hangout spots.

If you aren’t a beach person, you can try the same concept at a pool, or even a park. The outdoors can be really fun and not terribly expensive. Take advantage!

  1. Don’t go shopping out of emotion

We know you probably own a million outfits, so that millionth and one is probably not necessary. Get creative! Change accessories, do something different to your hair, make it work. Unless you absolutely need it, try to avoid it. If you do give in, look for sales and make sure it is something you will wear more than once.

  1. Take your credit cards out of your wallet.

Yes, budget yourself ahead of time by planning out your weekend. The rule of thumb is to spend the money you have in the bank only. Not the imaginary money you can have by buying extra with your cards. That is a big NO.

  1. Have a get together at home

If going out to watch the game is where your money goes, try to invite your friends over and watch the game at home. Everyone can contribute food and drinks and you can have just as much fun.

Remember, you can have fun without breaking the bank.  Use your member discount if you can. Have fun, just do it in a smart way.


Maintain and Save

6 Ways to Maintain and Save

When we’re looking to save money, the first thing most of us do is scrutinize our every purchase to see where we can squeeze out unnecessary spending. After all, a nip and a tuck here and there can add up to a bundle of savings over time! What many forget, though, is the cost savings that can result from proper maintenance of the things we already own – especially the really high-ticket items, like a home and car, which can be costly to repair and even more expensive to replace.

R. L. Polk reports the average person holds on to a new vehicle for just under six years. That’s longer than it was before the Great Recession, but with the average new car price topping $33,000, it makes good budget sense to find ways to extend the ownership period as long as possible. Just think of the boost it would be to your retirement savings if you bought just one fewer car in your lifetime, and instead directed that cash to an IRA or 401k account!

Here are some simple things you can do to keep your car and other stuff in good shape for the long haul.

  1. Get Regular Oil Changes
    Be sure to read your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find out how often oil changes and other preventive maintenance is recommended. Nobody knows more than the manufacturer about what your car needs to continue running properly. Plus, not following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule could affect your warranty.
  2. Check Tires Regularly
    A flat tire’s not just inconvenient and expensive to replace. If not fixed promptly, a flat tire can lead to costly wheel damage. In addition to checking tire pressure monthly, have tires rotated, balanced and alignment checked regularly. Oftentimes, this regular maintenance is included in the warranty for new sets of tires.
  3. Following Cleaning Instructions
    If the tag says “dry clean only” believe it! Professional cleaning can add up, so you may be tempted to try laundering at home, but it’s a false economy if it means you ruin an expensive item of clothing. Instead, look at care instructions before you buy and decide then whether or not it’s a smart purchase.
  4. Rotate Your Mattress
    Some super-premium beds have different maintenance instructions, but if you have a standard mattress and box springs set-up, you’ll get longer life out of it by rotating it at least twice a year. If you notice sagging sooner, go with a three-month rotation schedule.
  5. Replace AC Filters Regularly
    A home’s air conditioning system is one of the most expensive items to replace if it goes bad. Twice-yearly maintenance is a prudent investment, and replacing filters regularly is really important since clogged filters can cause the system to burn-out prematurely.
  6. Maintain Exterior Paint
    Shabby and peeling paint doesn’t just make the outside of a home look unkempt. A proper paint job protects surfaces from the sun and weather, and helps ensure that cracks are repaired, preventing leaks and helping to keep destructive pests like termites at bay.

Avoid Shopping

8 Amazing Ways to Avoid Binge-Shopping

Avoid Shopping
Avoid binge spending

 

It would great if we all made only rational, well-analyzed spending decisions. But none of us are robots. We’ve all made emotional buys at one point or another. Think back on things you bought because you had a rough day at work. Or maybe it was an argument that got you agitated. No matter the cause, purchases made on feelings instead of frugality can be rough on your bottom line. Here are a few ways to soothe yourself without draining your funds

1. Create “me” time

A In a lot of cases overspending happens because it gives you a sense of control over your surroundings. Instead of trying to grab control with money, take control of your time and your surroundings. Whether that means gifting yourself with a nice hot bath or time to work on that tinkering project in the garage, commit to unwinding on your own terms.

2. Connect with a loved one

Loneliness is another emotion that can turn you into a frenzied consumer. A call to a relative you haven’t spoken to in a while or even a spontaneous get-together with a friend can remind you of the wonderful bonds in your life.

3. Volunteer

It may sound strange, but in many cases the best way to help yourself is to work at making someone else’s life better.

4. Exercise

Scientists believe that for certain people splurge shopping releases the same amount of endorphins in the brain as skydiving. So if you are one of those people who gets a real charge out of filling a shopping cart, consider alternatives like going to the gym, walking or riding a bike to get your endorphin rush (if the plane and parachute are not available).

5. Enjoy nature

One of the best ways to get away from your problems is to, well…get away from them! Leave your connectivity behind and get back in touch with a favorite out-of-the-way spot.

6. Read

A little healthy escapism is always good for taking your mind off your day-to-day worries. Whereas passive media like television usually serves more as just a casual distraction, diving into a good book forces you to actively engage in the story.

7. Play

Be it with children or a pet, having some silly fun can shed a lot of stored up tension you might otherwise look to purge with shopping.

8. De-clutter

Because coming home to a place full of stuff can add to your stress level, give yourself a present and a future of increased serenity by hunting for items that can be donated or sold online or at a garage sale.


The 50/30/20 rule

What is the 50/30/20 Rule?

The 50/30/20 Rule is the simplest way to create a budget. It helps you keep your spending aligned with your savings goals. This very convenient, especially if this is the first time you try to organize your finances. Once you know how to achieve a balanced budget, you can further customize this rule around your unique expenses and goals.

50% of Your Income Goes to Essentials

Start by setting 50% of your income to pay essential items such as rent, utilities, car transportation and housing. This might be a little high in the beginning but once you get the hang of it you will be able to customize your budget to your needs. For instance, some people live in high-rent areas, yet can walk to work, while others enjoy much lower housing costs, but transportation is far more expensive.

30% of Your Income Goes to Your Lifestyle

Your lifestyle is important and although you may need to sacrifice some luxuries, you need to splurge once in a while. Therefore, 30% of your income goes to personal expenses like travel, dining out, cable, and even expensive coffee. If you travel extensively or work on-the-go, your cell phone plan is probably more of a necessity more than a luxury. It is up to you to decide which items are consider personal and which you should cut-off.

20% of Your Income Goes to Savings

The last step is to designate 20% of your income to savings. This is for your future, for everything unexpected that may come your way. This is the category you should think about after your essentials and before feeding your lifestyle expenses. It is your “get ahead” section and you must give it importance.

You don’t need to make a lot of money to budget properly. The 50/30/20 rule is only the beginning, you will customized this rule when you become an expert at budgeting.


Make the best out of your tax return

How to Make the Best Out of Your Tax Return

Make the best out of your tax return
Make the best out of your tax return!

No one likes paying taxes, and there’s no reason to pay more than you should in any given year. One of the best ways to make sure your tax returns ripped the most profit is by investing it. To make your money grow.

  1. Invest in CD’s
    CD’s are forms of investment that take time to mature and grow. If you’re looking to save money for your kid’s college fund this is a good way to do it. This will be put aside to grow and mature until you have made some profit.
  2. Increase your 401k referral
    Of course you can’t put your refund into your 401(k) but you can supplement your income with it while you increase your referral. This is especially important if your employer matches your refund amount.
  3. Put it as a down payment for a property
    Owning your own place is always better than paying someone else’s mortgage. Save as much as you can and purchase your own home. If you ever move chances are you will have some equity.
  4. Lower your debt
    You don’t have to spend your entire tax return paying your overdue debt. However, paying some debt should give you some financial stability. Lower your debt as much as you can and start from zero.

Remember, be wise and make money out of your tax return. If you are currently a BrightStar Credit Union Member, enjoy a discount when you file with Turbo Tax.


3 Simple Ways to Earn a Little Extra

 

Sometimes your full-time jobs are not enough to pay the bills, save, and have fun. Sometimes a paycheck is only enough to make ends meet.  Sure, you can always get another part-time job or look for higher paying job. However, when you have conflicting schedules and a family having an extra job isn’t so easy.

What are some ways to earn a little extra cash and keep enjoying your free time?

  1. Pet Sitting There are many websites where you can sign up to be a pet sitter. Yes, a pet sitter. Not only do you get to enjoy the company of cute fluffy creatures, you also get to spend some time in the sun. If you do this, plan accordingly. For example, if sign up to pet sit on a Sunday you’ll have company to watch the game and exercise early in the morning. TIP: Pet sitting is in high demand in South Florida. Take some time to look into it.
  1. Clean your home, and sell your unwanted items online: If you have unused –or gently used items– try selling them. Liberating yourself from all that clutter, will feel very rewarding. Remember, one man’s trash is another’s treasure.
  1. Participate in surveys or focus groups: Some marketers and research firms offer cash for participating in focus groups. This is not a lot of money, but $10 to answer 10 questions online buys you lunch.

If you ever find yourself in need of a little bit of cash, consider these methods.

Enjoy!


Do not get stuck in high student debt!

3 Ways to Avoid High Student Loan Debt

Recently, economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released new research based on Equifax credit report data on repayment rates of student loans. One of the most interesting pieces of information found in this report is that two-thirds of the nation’s student-loan debt is held by people over the age of 30.

In the event you have children who want to pursue a higher education degree, or you are looking to work on an extra certificate to better your career, this fact is a little nerve-racking. For this reason, we wanted to give you a few alternatives to avoid high rate student loans.

  1. Online Schools
    You might be wondering why we are suggesting online education as an option to save money on a student loan. The answer is simple. Online degrees allow you to have more flexibility with your schedule. Thus, giving you some extra time to have a full-time job, while going to school. You can set money aside and every six months have the money to pay one or two online courses. You can also pay your courses with a low rate Credit Card and pay it monthly little-by-little. Having a job will allow you to do this comfortably. The flexibility of an online course can also help you study during the weekend.
  2. Community College
    Yes, community colleges are still good places to go to school. They are much cheaper than attending a big university. These, often offer some certificates that can help you advance your knowledge and skills on the workplace.

 

  1. Apply for Scholarships
    You might be surprise at the amount of scholarships offered out there. Make sure you do your research and apply to anything and everything you can. Sometimes, your job has incentives that can give you some money for school. Sometimes your community has something to offer to go to school locally. Make sure you prepare yourself and save as much as you can.

 

Your education is important. Make sure you are making smart choices and don’t get stuck in high student loan debt.

Hope this helps!