Month : February 2016

Home Ownership

Home Buying Checklist – Infographic

If you are currently in the market to purchase a new home, be sure to get all the information you need! Buying a home is a big investment, and even minor details can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Phil Henderson, an experienced real estate expert, has created an infographic to help simplify the home-buying process. From researching the neighborhood, to double-checking the storage space, you’re sure to find some helpful information within this creative, informative graphic.

Charlotte Homes for Sale

Debt Management

Paying Off Debt (With Kids!)

My husband and I are heads of that happy family-of-four you often read about. A seven-year-old little girl, and a five-year-old little boy. We live in a modest home with a shared bedroom for the two kiddos and only one bathroom for the four of us. Both my husband and I work full-time – I just started again now that both kids are in school.

Picture-perfect from the outside, including the financial choices: modest home, used car, public schools, thrift-store shopping.

And yet, on the inside: we’re in debt. Man-oh-man (as my five-year-old would say) are we in debt.

How’d we get that way? For starters, we had two kids. My beautiful daughter will turn eight years old in November and we have yet to pay off her birth. Yes, we had insurance, but I had one of those complicated pregnancies you can’t predict. C-sections cost over $50,000, and even good insurance often only pays half of that. My son’s birth was less complicated, but I was not a good candidate for a VBAC, so we had another c-section and another round of bills.

My husband and I had been very careful, avoiding all credit-card debt and working to pay down our respective student loans. We just didn’t know. Where on the OB-GYN’s wall does it say that having a baby costs as much as buying a new car?

So we started paying things off, bit by bit. But life happened. You know the funny thing about trying to throw all your disposable money at a hospital bill is that you suddenly need a new washer but you don’t have any cash left in your checking account, so you put it on credit… you get the idea.

Right now my husband and I have a combined $57,378 still on our student loans and a frightening $82,491 in consumer and medical debt. (My daughter has some lingering health problems that result in expensive hospital treatments and prescriptions. We are all hoping the Affordable Care Act will reduce this burden.)

It’s frustrating because we’re doing everything “right” and it feels like we can’t get ahead. Every time I make a budget, something gets in the way. It’s also much harder to distinguish between wants and needs now that they’re both in school: am I really going to be the only mom who doesn’t let her kid go on the field trip? The only mom who doesn’t put the kid in Scouts and then let her go on the Scout overnight? The mom who crosses her fingers and ignores the life insurance guide, or who squeezes her five-year-old into a car seat that’s a little too small? Absolutely not.

(Also, while we’re at it: what’s up with parents having to take on the entire cost of school supplies? I’m happy to buy pencils for my kids, but their school also requires us to buy copy paper for the school office, as well as bulk cartons of toilet paper for the school bathrooms.)

This year, we’re starting to fight back. My son is still a little too young to get it, but I’ve started talking to my daughter about saving money and not buying everything you see. We’re reading Little House on the Prairie and Five Little Peppers before bed, and she’s still young enough to think that not buying Hostess cupcakes for lunchboxes is “like Laura and Mary.”

I organized a clothing exchange and a toy exchange with a group of moms, meaning it looks like we’ll be able to outfit our kids pretty well for free. I’ve started packing everyone’s lunches in one go – Mom, Dad, and kids alike each get a peanut butter sandwich, some fruit, and a little baggie of cheese and crackers. Cable is out, libraries are in, our life insurance plan from SILI stays in the picture because we couldn’t survive as a one-salary family, our “winter vacation” is going to be a staycation and both sets of grandparents can come visit us for a change.

We started this reduced living strategy in August. Total extra cash to pay towards our debts every month? Around $200. It’s now my goal to pay down our kids’ births before they leave the house – but at least we’re making progress.



Planning Your Big Event at A Lower Cost

In life everyone has a big occasion that they want to celebrate in style. Whether it’s a wedding, christening, anniversary or important landmark birthday, many want to adopt that “go big or go home” type of thinking to an event to celebrate. Some people feel that they simply can’t do this because of the costs associated, but this does not have to be the case. With careful planning and help, the budget for a big event isn’t always as excessive as some may expect.

Booking the ideal, first choice venue for your big event is always the first step. To get the best price on this you need to book it as far in advance as possible. The sooner you can book and pay, the lower the fee will be. Not everyone will think that they can afford to book a venue months in advance of an event, but this is in fact possible.

Payday Loans, in particular highly reasonable ones offered by reputable, respected brands like like the Wonga company, offer the assistance and help you need to guarantee you book the venue of your choice. What is often lost in the rush to give negative reports on payday loans is the fact that they are meant for circumstances like this, and when used accordingly are of immense benefit to consumers.

The idea of a payday loan is to use money that you would from your salary anyway, but before your salary hits your account. This would be to take advantage on limited offers, such as getting a great discount on booking a venue that is available only for a limited time before you get paid. Some people, unfortunately, have tried to use payday loans as a long term solution for financial worries, instead of getting the correct advice and help. Used properly, payday loans are an effective and low fee way of getting great deals.

The cost of a payday loan, assuming that the terms and conditions are met and the amounts are paid as agreed to, is a lot lower than some of the scare stories going around. Far from charging interest rates that go into the thousands, a seven day loan of £400 from a reputable payday loan company like Wonga would attract interest and charges of less than 20%. That low fee off-set against the savings you make by booking a venue for your event in advance gives you a great advantage for having the celebration you want.

When companies like Wonga are afforded the chance to speak for themselves they are able to show they are a success – and have millions of happy clients – by fair and reasonable agreements. As long as both parties honour the agreement, it becomes a win-win scenario.

Now is the time to think about big events and milestones over the next few months. Look around for the ideal and perfect venue to hold them in, contact them, and ask about discounts or lower rates for booking and paying in advance. Obtaining the means to pay in advance to guarantee your event is a success can be a lot easier and cheaper than you may think.

Extra Income

How To Start A Side Job

When you start the journey to financial freedom, the beginning can be difficult.  Not only do you have to stay within your income each month, you also have to dig yourself out of debt.  This can mean that money will be a little tight for a little while as you pay down balances on credit cards.  Sometimes earning a little income on the side may be just what you need to get ahead.  There are many great side jobs that you can take on to earn extra money and get out of debt more quickly.  Let’s look at a few ideas.

Use Your Talents

If you have some specific talents or skills, you may consider putting these to use by becoming a freelancer.  Those with graphic design, web design, marketing, accounting or an IT security degree should be able to easily find side work that will meet their needs.  Any skills that you have can be turned into a little money on the side by heading out on your own and getting a few clients. The great thing about freelance work is that it can done on your schedule and will work well with any job that you already have.

If you want to venture out on your own with a little side job, take an inventory of your abilities.  Can you write, edit, draw or keep books?  It is likely that you will be able to find freelance work that you can handle.  This is a great way to supplement your income and help you stick to your financial goals.

Work on the Weekends

You may also want to head out and find a job that you can do after work or on the weekends.  Right now many retail stores are getting ready to do their holiday hiring.  These stores typically offer flexible scheduling that will accommodate your current work schedule.  In addition, you may be able to get some great discounts that you can use on your holiday purchases.

Another possibility is to get a side job working in a bar or restaurant.  You will be able to work in a fun, fast paced environment and will probably even earn some tips, which can really add up.  If you don’t want to have to schedule yourself or find solo projects, going to work in a traditional environment may be just what you need.

If you are having trouble meeting your financial goals and getting out of debt with your own income, consider adding a little more.  There are many great side job opportunities out there for you to take advantage of.

What side job do you have or are you thinking about starting?

Money Management

How to Foil Would-Be Identity Thieves

Information is more available than ever before at a more prodigious rate. While this is a good thing in many aspects, it can also cause a lot of trouble for those looking to protect their information. Among the biggest problems with the availability of information according to is the way hackers can take advantage of it. Your personal information is not as secure as it once was, but that does not mean that you have to be the victim of identity theft. You just need to take a more active role in your finances and you will be able to protect yourself. You should make sure to do most of your banking online, monitor your credit constantly, and make sure your passwords are frequently changed. This will help you to enjoy more security for your finances.

Do Your Banking Online

Even though it is handy to have your banking records with you whenever you are looking to balance your checkbook, paper account summaries are not very secure. Anyone can snap a picture of them, remove them from your garbage, or intercept your mail. Doing your banking online allows you to avoid all of these problems. Sign up for paperless banking if it is available and switch banks if it is not. Always make sure you are checking your accounts at home on a secured Wi-Fi network or through a wired connection to ensure your protection.

Monitor Your Credit Constantly

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their finances is never checking their credit reports. There are some items that will fall off of your credit before you ever know it was there. Use one of the credit monitoring services to keep track of your credit. They will constantly check your credit reports and let you know if something new shows up on the report. You will know if you signed up for a new line of credit with a credit card. If you have not, you can take action to shut down the account before it can be used. This will stop you from being liable for someone else stealing your information. If purchases have already been made, it will help you to take action to have the charges reversed.

Change Your Passwords Often

Password security is also highly important. If you are using your wife’s birthday or your dog’s name, stop it. You are making one of the biggest mistakes in terms of passwords. Instead, you should create passwords that have personal meaning for you without making it known to hackers that they have meaning. Think about the lyrics to your favorite song or the first sentence to your favorite poem or book. Take the first letter of every word in these to create your password. It will appear random to a hacker, but it will be easy for you to remember. Make sure to change your passwords often just in case the security of your computer is ever compromised, you will not have to worry about the hacker having access for long.