Archive for May 2018

Does It Pay to Upgrade Your Technology?

Does It Pay to Upgrade Your Technology?

Does It Pay to Upgrade Your Technology?If you are like most people, you use a variety of modern technologies on a daily basis. You almost certainly have a cell phone in your pocket right now, or at least you have one resting within arm?s reach. Also, you probably watch TV regularly, use a computer, and on and on.

Technology has exploded in recent years, and most of us spend the majority of our time using one type of device or another.

With all of that said, is it worth your money to upgrade your technology? There are always ?latest and greatest? products hitting the market, and it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement over something like a new phone or tablet. But are those purchases wise investments? Let?s take a look at some key points.

Think About Functionality

The first key here is to avoid getting caught up in things that don?t matter. The look of your phone, for example, is inconsequential at the end of the day. What does matter, however, is what that phone can do to improve your life.

If you are using an old phone which is well behind the times in terms of features and capabilities, it may be worth it to upgrade. On the other hand, if you just bought your phone last year and it still works just fine, there is probably no good reason to spend money on another.

What is the True Cost?

It may be possible to recover some of the expense of your new piece of technology by selling or trading in the piece that will be replaced. If that is possible, do a little math to determine how much it is actually going to cost you to buy a new device.

When you factor in the effective savings from the sale or trade-in of the old unit, the new purchase price may not look so bad.

Be Patient

One common mistake is to feel like you have to pre-order the latest device just to keep up with everyone else. That is not necessary, and it is only going to hurt your budget down the line. Instead, be patient and let a new device hit the market while you stand by.

Then, read some reviews and find out how people who did buy it are enjoying their experience. After a period of time goes by, you may still decide to buy it ? or you might decide that life is just fine without it.

Either way, being patient will give you a chance to save some money in the short term. Plus, you may wind up realizing that this device isn?t so necessary after all.


How often do you upgrade your tech? Is it always worth it to upgrade?


Photo courtesy of: kaboompics

4 Easy Ways College Students Can Invest

4 Easy Ways College Students Can Invest

4 Easy Ways College Students Can InvestIt?s no secret that the average college student doesn?t have a lot of disposable income. In fact, most are up to their eyeballs in debt long before graduation day comes.

Despite having debt, some college students have the desire to start investing early for their futures. Considering the bleak outlook for social security benefits it shouldn?t come as a surprise to the rest of us.

Nevertheless, investing may seem complicated and it can be intimidating to some. Fortunately, there are four easy ways college students can invest.

1. Micro Investing

One of the easy ways college students can invest is by micro investing. Since they lack money in general, micro investing is a way they can start with very little cash.

Stash Invest has an app that allows them to essentially invest spare change. It links to their bank account you can start investing with as little as $5.

You get to select from a grouping of ETFs and stocks and invest based on your goals and tolerance for risk.

2. Fractional Investing

Another easy way college students can invest is through fractional investing. Some stocks they may want to invest in are thousands per share. In the past this has made investing in them a dream for college students on a limited budget.

But with apps like Stockpile, they can sign up free and start investing in their favorite choices with as little as $5.00. What?s more there are no monthly fees or minimums beyond that. It?s a fast, easy, and fun way to start investing.

3. 401(k)

There are employers that offer a 401(k) retirement plan to their employees. If a college student is lucky enough to have a job where this is offered they should sign up.

Most likely a percentage of their pay will need to be contributed. However, this is deducted before taxes are withheld. Then, the employer may offer to add funds as well if the student matches the same percentage.

College students who take advantage of this option can choose which funds to invest in. They can also place money in faster growing funds or some with lower risks.

4. Robo-advisors

Robo-advisors should be counted as one of the easy ways college students can invest. The trading fees are low and they do most of the work for their investors. This makes them a perfect choice for busy college students.

Most robo-advisors have very low minimum investment requirements. In fact, you can invest with Betterment with no minimum balance required.

Students can access their investment accounts easily and on the go from an app right on their phones. This lets them check on their investments whenever they have a few free minutes.

Additional Thoughts

While it?s true that college students should begin investing as soon as possible, they also need to learn to manage their money responsibly.

If they do not already have budgeting skills they should talk to a peer, take a class, or research about budgeting methods. Then, they should set up their own budget and continue tweaking it until they have a system that works for their needs.

Furthermore, they need to control their spending and keep their debt as low as possible. They should set financial goals that are achievable and can also be re-evaluated as time passes.

Investing for retirement in any market while still in school is not a bad idea for college students. However, they should know it needs to be a life-long process and done in coordination with other money management tactics.


Do you feel it is wise for college students to start investing? How else can college students invest?


Photo courtesy of: freestocks-photos

4 Ideas to Reduce Summer Childcare Costs

4 Ideas to Reduce Summer Childcare Costs

4 Ideas to Reduce Summer Childcare CostsDuring the school year, sending your kids to school each day serves a couple of purposes. In addition to educating them for the future, you will also have a place for them to go while you are at work (for part of the day, at least).

Of course, when school lets out for the summer, you lose that benefit and you?ll need to make other arrangements. Unfortunately, those arrangements can be quite expensive, and they can quickly put a dent in your budget.

To help you cut back on the expense of summer childcare, we have listed four cost saving ideas below.

Look for Camps

If your child plays sports, or takes part in other activities, you may be able to find local camps that run during the summer. This is not a plan that is going to last all summer long, but it might be able to help you out for a week or two.

Of course, these camps aren?t free, so you?ll need to compare the cost of such a camp with the cost of other childcare arrangements. In addition to solving your childcare problem, camps are just a great way for your kids to have fun and interact with others.

Work from Home

Depending on the age of your kids and the nature of your job, you may be able to work from home on occasion to reduce your childcare bill. This is only going to work if your children are at just the right age ? old enough to mostly occupy themselves during the day, but not old enough to be left at home alone.

If your kids are too little, they will need your attention through the day and you won?t be able to actually get any work done.

Family Help

For those with local family, asking for a bit of help in the summer may be possible. This is most often the case when it comes to retired grandparents who can watch the kids during the workday.

Even if you only take advantage of this arrangement once or twice during the week, you could wind up saving a significant amount of money over the course of the summer.

Shop Around

At some point, you may have no other option than to take your child to a childcare business for at least some of the days during the summer. If that is the case, you would be wise to plan ahead and shop around for the best combination of rates and service.

Remember, this is somewhere you are going to be leaving your child for several hours, so you want to be comfortable with the business and their reputation. Don?t just shop on price alone ? make sure that the price you are paying also comes with the kind of service and care you expect for your child.

Childcare isn’t cheap and when you have to pay for full-time childcare in the summer, it can be hard on your budget. Use these ideas to find a solution that works for your family and your? budget.


Where do your children go in the summer? Do you have other ideas to save on childcare?


Photo courtesy of: eklisgirlbuh

Are You Sabotaging Your Retirement?

Are You Sabotaging Your Retirement?

Are You Sabotaging Your Retirement?We all dream of that day in our future when we?ll officially leave the workforce to enjoy an endless amount of free time.

You might envision yourself moving to someplace warmer, finally getting around to every hobby you wanted to pick up, golfing, vacationing, getting through your to-read list, or simply enjoying the fact that you can do whatever you want with your day.

Like most employees you probably put away a portion of your paycheck towards your 401(k) or other retirement fund. However, like many others, you likely do that and only that, and your retirement fund is something that?s simply out of sight and out of mind.

If that?s the case for you, you could be sabotaging your retirement without even realizing it. Here are three ways you could be doing just that.?

1. Not Saving Enough

When it comes to your retirement, the more money you put in now, the more you?ll have in the long-run. That being the case, whether you?re saving only a small portion or not saving at all because you don?t think you can afford it, not saving enough is one surefire way to sabotage your retirement fund.

No matter what, start putting away as much as you can as soon as you?re eligible to participate in a retirement plan. Begin with at least 2-3% and work your way up one percentage at a time when you can afford it.

If you don’t have access to a 401(k) through your employer, you can start investing for retirement with an online broker like Ally Invest.

Ally Invest has an industry-low price of $4.95 per stock trade and has numerous free tools to help you start saving for retirement.

2. Failing to Factor in All of Your Needs

Thinking about your end goal now might seem like a lot, but come actual retirement, it might not be as much as you think. The worst thing you can do is underestimate how much income you?ll actually need.

Think about all of your needs and what kind of lifestyle you hope to have in retirement, then create a solid plan to save for those needs.

By doing so, you?ll ensure your comfort and keep yourself from having to worry about finances or re-enter the workforce as you?re trying to enjoy the rest of your life.

3. Borrowing from Your Savings

The basic principle behind a retirement fund is putting money aside in order for it to build up over time. Start borrowing from that fund or taking out small loans, however, and you?ll lose valuable time and money.

No matter if you pay that loan back, you?ll still miss out on interest you?d otherwise have accrued. Be sure you?re also putting other savings away to use when you really need it. You?ll have money to fall back on in a crisis and keep your retirement fund untouched.

In the moment, taking money out of your paycheck for retirement can seem painful. Moreover, depending on your paycheck, it can seem downright impossible.

Nonetheless, no matter your financial situation, you should do your best to add to that 401(k). And when you do, be sure to plan out and accommodate all of your needs, save as much as you can, and leave that money right where you put it. Come your time to relax from the workforce, you won?t have to worry about money.


At what age did you start saving for retirement? What portion of your paycheck do you put away currently?


Photo courtesy of: paulbr75

How to Teach Your Kids to Budget

How to Teach Your Kids to Budget

How to Teach Your Kids to BudgetAs a parent, you have a lot on your plate. You need to teach your kids so many things on a day to day basis, along with handling your own work responsibilities.

It can be overwhelming at times, so it is tempting to cut corners and keep things as easy as possible. However, if you are willing to go the extra mile and teach your kids how to budget, you will be doing them a huge favor as they move toward adulthood.

Believe it or not, you can start quite young with the idea of a budget. Even though these early budgets will be quite simple, they will lay the groundwork for what is to come later in life. Let?s take a look at how this might work.

It Starts with Chores

One of the most important lessons that comes from budgeting is the understanding that nothing comes free in life. Even though you would gladly give what you have to your child, it doesn?t do them any good to get everything for nothing.

This is where chores come into the picture. You can think of household chores as your child?s first job, even if it is an informal one.

When your child reaches an appropriate age, have them help with a chore that is safe and reasonable for their age and size. If you choose to do so, you can attach a reward to the chore as a form of payment.

For small children, this probably won?t be money, but rather something like a tasty treat or a new toy after they have completed the chore a certain number of times. As your children get older, you can start to think about making the reward financial. Then, you can work on a budget.

A Child?s Budget

Your kids don?t have their own bills, but you can still sit down with them and establish a budget for the money they earn from chores.

For example, let?s imagine that you are giving your child $20 per month for the completion of a few chores (the amount is up to you, of course). Talk with your child about what that amount of money can buy, and speak with them about the importance of saving along the way.

So, maybe you will suggest that they save at least $10 per month, while using the other half to buy a couple small things. When you are at the store, you can point out prices and explain how money works.

As time goes by, your child?s budget will naturally get more and more complex. At some point, they will be able to drive and will need to pay for the costs that come along with a car. Also, they will head out into the real world and get a job of some kind, allowing them to have their own source of income.

By laying the groundwork early with a simple budget, the realities of the adult world will be much easier for your child to handle. Good luck!


How have you taught your kids to budget? Did your kids do chores?


Photo courtesy of: David Kessler