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.

 

Mind Over Money

4 Quick And Easy Tips That Will Make You A Millionaire Fast

million%20dollar%20bill

Everyone wants to be a millionaire. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do it quick and easy?

Well it’s not. But why are people attracted to things like the title of this post? Once you get past looking at these types of articles you can move onto actually becoming financially free.

Nothing in life is easy. It takes hard work whether physically or mentally. You have to be prepared to recognize opportunities and seize them. Nothing helps that better than hard work.

Read, listen, and watch as much as you can about successful people. Learn from their mistakes and from their successes. Work what they have done into your own life

Here are real tips that will turn you into a millionaire….over time or at least make you better in life.

Be different

Don’t just do what everyone else does because then you’re not you. Still learn from others but add your own twist to it.

Persist

Like I said before, getting rich isn’t easy. So if you don’t want to work hard you will never be financially well off. It’s just not in your cards.

On that note, there will be times that you run into walls. When that happens you need to run through it. If you don’t stick through those hard times you shouldn’t even be trying because you will just be wasting your time. Just go back to your regular life until you’re motivated enough to want what’s on the other side of that wall. Success is filled with a lot of ups and downs so you need to be able to stick out those down times

Think Positive

If you don’t support yourself no one else is going to. You have to believe in yourself. You are going to be trying new things so always believe that you can do it.

Do you know why?

Because you can do it. There is no difference between you and Bill Gates other than that he seized on opportunities because he believed he could.

Have no fear

Remember “The only thing we have to fear……is fear itself”. If you truly believe that, then you can conquer fear.

I was scared to start this blog because I didn’t know what people would think or if anyone would even read it. And it really took me a while to get it started, but you know what? If I kept focusing on the fear I would have never started. Instead, I focused on “can you imagine how many people could end up reading what I write and have their lives touched?”.

I turned that fear into motivation.

If you do all of these things you will be successful. Being successful takes a lot of character, so when you do become successful don’t forget those that were there for you along the way. And always give back to those that don’t have the same opportunities that you had.

So, enjoy your success and be happy to know that your hard work has made you that way instead of spending a bunch of money on get rich quick schemes that never amounted to anything.

What do you think?

photo credit: Simon Davison

Investing

The Basics of Stock Market Analysis

stock market

At times, the stock market can seem like an unpredictable, crazy world of fluctuating numbers. When looking to enter the stock market, you want to have at least a basic understanding of the process and what is happening to your money. This is where stock market analysis comes in. Whether you have been trading for two days or two years, understanding the basics of stock market analysis is vital for successful online trading.

Consider the Economic Environment

One of the first things to do when learning how to analyse the stock market is to look at the big picture. Consider the economic environment. Behind every increase and decrease in the market and in each stock are economic influences. These can include inflation rates, which include the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the Producer Price Index (PPI), the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate of growth for the current climate and other economic news, such as employment statistics and Federal Reserve Bank predictions. Another important consideration when looking at the overall economic environment is to stay current with national and international politics. What are the superpowers up to, how are their economies stacking up, and how does this affect the Australian economy? Even world events like national disasters, mass strikes or liquidation of certain multi-national corporations can have a dramatic influence on the economic state and the stock market.

Over time, you will begin to gain a significant amount of knowledge and experience that you can incorporate into your trading.

Do Some Research

A little research can go a long way when it comes to accurate stock market analysis. Research the stock market from a historical point of view, watching trends and identifying what may have contributed to market fluctuations. Focus on researching stocks similar to those you would consider purchasing and research the company. Consider their history and future outlook and then compare this information to their stock performances.

Research the various industries, such as the mining, healthcare, finance, utilities and technology. Watch how each performs over time. This is one great way of finding out more about a specific company you may be thinking of investing in. You can tell a lot about the potential of a company’s shares simply by following other companies within the same sector.

Consider the Current Market

Look at the current stock market performance. Don’t just look at your stock market, but also consider those around the world. A keen trader looking to learn the stock market will review the stock market each day. There are various information sites available that offer accurate analysis of the major stock markets, summarising their performances over the day, month, quarter or year.

Depending on the types of shares you are considering investing in, the current market may refer to the previous quarter to date or it may refer to a longer or shorter time period. Each share is different and each sector acts and reacts differently.

Choose a Company

When analysing the stock market in terms of specific shares, it pays to do your research and analysis from the viewpoint of one or a few particular companies. Choose a company you may look to invest in or one that seems to be standing out above its competitors. Look into public financial information, reading annual and quarterly reports, taking particular note of quarterly growth and company balance sheets. If you want to compare similar companies you can easily do this by converting the financial information into per-share data. This way you get to accurately compare share market performances of one company to another.

Take a Technical Viewpoint

Technical stock market analysis is all about evaluating trends in share prices, the volume of shares and when they fluctuate. The stock’s moving average can tell you a lot about its performance over time, giving indications as to when it is likely to rise or fall again. It shows useful trends that can help you to confidently enter the market at any given time. Technical analysis takes much of the guess work out of when to buy and when to sell a certain share. Mastering this basic fundamental of stock market analysis will have you making confident investment decisions. 

About the Author: Margaret Knight has been a stock broker for 15 years and enjoys working with a range of clients from various backgrounds and with different levels of investment experience.

image source: http://www.123rf.com/photo_15357958_stock-market-chart.html

Money Management

Guarantor Loans May Guarantee a Brighter Future

What is a Guarantor Loan?

A guarantor loan involves getting someone you know, usually a parent or other family member, to vouch for your ability to pay back a loan. They themselves will become liable to make the repayments on the loan in the event that you cannot. So, in other words, they are your security against the loan.

What are the Risks of a Guarantor Loan?

The first thing to think about when considering taking out a guarantor loan are your own personal circumstances and whether or not they are likely to change. For example, you may have just secured some type of employment and are working through a probationary period. Should the worst happen and you don’t complete the probationary period successfully and are therefore out of work, would you still be able to continue making the repayments on the loan? Using a loan calculator will help you work this out.

Personal relationships are also to be considered carefully. Acting as a guarantor or borrowing using a guarantor can in some circumstances put pressure on relationships, particularly if things go wrong. If you are going to take out a guarantor loan, then you need to sit down, write out a plan that both parties are happy with and then stick to the plan. The plan should contain contingency information that outlines what will happen if things go wrong.

What are the Rewards of Taking out a Guarantor Loan?

Guarantor loans are great for those unable to get an unsecured loan. It may be that you have a poor credit history or can’t prove a regular income. Companies like TrustTwo specialise in helping people in these situations to get the money you need.

Taking out a guarantor loan for essential items can mean that the borrower isn’t forced into the position of taking out a loan such as a payday loan that typically comes with an extortionate rate of interest. This type of loan often leads to problems, whereas a guarantor loan is a far cheaper way to borrow. In addition to this, guarantor loans can often be taken out over a long period of time and this means the repayments are spread more widely and are therefore more manageable.

Should I Take Out a Guarantor Loan?

If you have considered the risks and decided that they won’t cause you a problem and if you have a plan that you and your guarantor are both happy with, then taking out a guarantor loan can be an extremely good way to secure the money that you need at a good rate and look to a brighter future.

Politics

Who Are The Job Creators?

A popular buzzword out there is Job Creator (Ok, so buzzwords) and it has pretty much infected all talks of life. It seems like every sentence out of anyone’s mouth includes that word.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about it since it’s recently taken off. To get a better look at what most people think a job creator is look here.

I agree with a lot of people out there that we shouldn’t raise taxes on job creators and we should give more tax credits to them so that they won’t be held back from creating jobs.

It’s a tough economy out there and it isn’t easy for them to create jobs without sacrificing.

No I’m not talking about these people. I’m talking about the majority of Americans out there that spend money.

“Rich People” and Corporations are not job creators. They even somewhat admit this when they say that there aren’t more jobs because there aren’t people spending money.

Without the American people spending money, there wouldn’t be any jobs.

Why is a company made?

To make money, but to also fill a demand.

If no one wanted what they offer they won’t last, thus the jobs won’t be there.

So who are the real “Job Creators”?

You, me, and anyone else out there that spends money because we want something beyond our needs. (if we just bought within our needs there wouldn’t be enough jobs out there for everyone, hence the high unemployment rate right now)

So the government should give us a tax cut and some tax credits to get us to spend that extra money. Because if history is any indicator, we love to spend beyond our needs whenever we have extra money…or if we have some extra room on our credit cards. But it all goes back to having our needs taken care of first (for the most part).

So my advice to the government is to just give us a little extra money and we’ll take care of those jobs for you.

What do you think?