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Posts Tagged ‘saving money’

Should You Save for College or Retirement First?

November 15, 2014 Comments off

college savingsIf you’re like most people who have children, you’re probably doing all you can to save for their college education. Due to the current cost of a college eduction along with the fact that the cost is escalating at a pace much higher than inflation, and likely higher than the growth of your income, it can seem like a daunting task.

While you’re working hard and saving for college, there’s still the nagging question in the back of your mind, “Am I saving enough for retirement, too?” Some folks are lucky and have an income level that makes it possible to save adequate amounts to ensure both a top-notch education for your kids, and the retirement lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.  If you don’t fit into this lucky group you’re probably wondering which side you’ll have to sacrifice.

As parents, our natural instincts are to provide for our children first, and ourselves later.  After all, if there was only enough food in your house and you had to decide who went hungry, you know it would be you…and you wouldn’t even think about it for a second.

However, in this particular case, it makes better financial sense to over-ride this natural inclination, and think of yourself first. From a purely financial perspective, if you have to choose between saving for college and saving for retirement, you should save for retirement. There are a couple of reasons for this, but the most important one is you can finance a college education, you can’t finance a retirement.

The other aspects of this to consider are the fact that you will need a considerable amount more money for retirement than college, therefore starting to save earlier will be important for hitting your goal. Finally, you will gain more current tax advantages by saving for retirement than you will saving for college.

It goes against your parental instincts, but if you HAVE to make a choice, choose to save for retirement.

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Seven Ways to Save Money Without Giving Up the Lifestyle You Enjoy

February 28, 2012 Comments off

Saving money is easy…but it does require sacrifices. The reason so many Americans are in debt in the first place is that they want to have a certain lifestyle, and this lifestyle often requires living beyond their means. So if you’re going to start saving money rather than scrambling to pay the bills every month, you’re going to need to give up some stuff, right? Well, maybe! There are a few tricks that can help you continue to live the lifestyle you want while also spending less money every month.

Tip #1: Rent instead of buying.

Owning a home is expensive. A mortgage payment might not be much more than a rent payment, but you’ll also have to pay for homeowners insurance, maintenance, utilities, homeowners association membership, and repairs. A posh rental in an area you love might be a better choice than buying a home until you’re ready to deal with the cost.

Tip #2: Drink water or soda between every cocktail.

You don’t have to give up going out with your friends – just be smarter about your drink choices. If you order something non-alcoholic between every cocktail, your bill will be substantially lower at the end of the night.

Tip #3: Head to the pound.

That adorable pup you own may be a purebred that cost hundreds of dollars, but when it comes time to get a new pet, head to the ASPCA or another local animal shelter instead. Cute critters – often nearly purebred – are dropped off and left homeless every day. No one will know the difference at the dog park, but you’ll spend less than $100 for a dog that is already fixed and is up to date on shots.

Tip #4: Clip coupons.

You don’t need to be an extreme couponer like they show on television to rack up the savings at the grocery store. You can get coupons from Sunday papers, savings websites, and even manufacturer social media profiles, and these coupons are good on everything from shampoo to frozen foods. Pair them with sales for every more savings without resorting to purchasing generic brands.

Tip #5: Get your hair done at beauty schools.

It might be a little nerve-wracking to allow a student to work on your hair, but for basic cuts and color applications, heading to a local beauty school is a great option. Schools with working salons offer all sorts of services, including waxing, manicures, and facials, for just a fraction of the cost you’d pay at the boutique salon down the street. If all you need is your roots touched up, this is a great option.

Tip #6: Becoming a Groupon/Daily Deals/Living Social/etc. addict.

Email savings newsletters like Groupon are amazing for saving a ton of money at local restaurants, bars, spas, and so forth. Don’t use these deals as an excuse to do things you wouldn’t normally do or you’ll end up spending more…but if you like to have dinner at a nice restaurant once or twice a week or don’t want to give up your monthly massage, these deals can save you a ton of money.

Tip #7: Stock up when items are on sale.

Lastly, just play it smart and stock up on your favorite items when they’re on sale. This means dishing out a little extra money up front, but you’ll save in the long term. For example, last week, my favorite wine was on sale for $8.99 (regularly over $15) and one of the stores in my area was offering 30% off on all alcoholic products PLUS and addition 10% savings on purchases of 6 bottles of wine or more. I spent over $100 on wine, but I won’t have to purchase it again for several months and I saved over $150 compared to what I would have spent had I bought bottles here and there over the next several months.

Don’t Let Property Taxes Break the Bank

July 19, 2011 Comments off

property  taxes

With a struggling economy, you may be on the hunt for money saving tips that can free up some of your monthly budget for other expenses. While you may be slashing grocery costs, cutting coupons and seeking alternatives to high fuel costs, your property taxes may represent another way of lowering costs for your household. Taking advantage of some simple tips that can result in lower property taxes is a great way you can achieve savings and slash your family’s budget.

When seeking lower property taxes, one of the first steps you may want to take in your quest to cut costs is to gain more information about your current property tax costs. City hall is one resource which can reveal your current property tax rate, seeking out any mistakes that may have been made. Even the smallest error on your property tax rate card may provoke higher fees and payments on your part, making careful checks a good way to insure proper rates.

In addition to checking for discrepancies, insuring that assessors have given an accurate depiction of the worth of your property can unveil lower property taxes. Excessive landscaping may be one characteristic of your property that may drive the value up, sparking higher taxes. Calculated by multiplying the assessed value of your home by the tax rate in your area, property taxes can often be related to the area and community where you reside, rather than the actual status and value of your home as a whole.

According to the National Taxpayer’s Union, as many as 60 percent of homeowners are paying property taxes on a home which has been over assessed. One of the best methods for insuring your home has been fairly assessed is by comparing the homes in your community to the assessed value of your own property. If discrepancies between the assessed value of your home and those within your community arise, hiring an independent property assessor is another option, in order to reveal a more accurate account of your home’s worth. While you may not be able to challenge the property taxes of your home based on an incorrect property assessment, you may be able to file an appeal if you truly think the value has been over exaggerated.

As a property tax assessor walks through your home in order to discover its worth, walking through the home with them may help you uncover the various faults in the property that could help them assess the property at a smaller value in contrast to an assessment that results from a lone walk through. The beautiful updates you may have made in your home and on your property can often overshadow some of the more serious issues, resulting in a higher assessment than the true worth of your real estate.

Looking for small ways to save your money can be simple by looking at payments, fees and bills you already find yourself paying and reducing them by gaining information about authentic costs. While it may seem complicated or overwhelming, insuring that you are paying the correct costs for property taxes can be as simple as taking a closer look at what you currently pay and looking at the fine details accompanying.