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How to Celebrate Halloween Safely During COVID-19

This year has been a bit different for all of us. And with the holidays looming, most of us are trying to figure out how to approach them safely. First and foremost is Halloween. Yes, I can’t believe that it’s almost here either! But, the kids are certainly excited, albeit a bit nervous. Because even they realize that this year isn’t going to look the same as all the previous years. So, here is how we plan to celebrate Halloween safely during COVID-19 and still have a great time.

House Party

Having a house party may seem like the antithesis of how to celebrate Halloween safely, but hear me out. We aren’t actually talking about hosting a raucous house party here. What I mean by house party is a bit different in this particular context.

This house party will only include you and your family. The kids still get to dress up in costumes, so that is a huge plus. But, then they get to be even more creative.

Have each child go through ideas with you regarding how to decorate their room for Halloween. Maybe they like the haunted house idea, or a fun house, or something else entirely. Whatever they come up with, help them get the supplies they need to create their idea.

You will also take each child out, separately, to get the candy of their choice to pass out. That way it’s even more of a surprise for the other kids.

When it’s time to celebrate Halloween, have the kids dress up in their costumes. Pick names or draw straws to see who will be hosting the family in their Halloween room first. That person will go into their room and prepare their candy for trick-or-treater’s. You and the rest of the family get to trick-or-treat at that child’s door so they can show you what Halloween masterpiece they have come up with. After they have walked you through it, they will give you the surprise candy and then it is the next child’s turn.

You, as the parents, can do this with your room also to stretch out the holiday fun. If you have a small family with only one or two children, then you may want to consider sharing in the fun with some other local family members or a set of close neighbors. As long as you keep the group small and continue to remain safe.

Drive by

If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of tight knit families and kids, then this might be another good option for you. Talk to your neighbors to see who you can entreat to participate first. Of course, not everyone will be willing to celebrate Halloween with you by creating a drive by. But, for those neighbors that will, this could be a lot of fun.

How this works is that everyone who is participating will decorate their house for Halloween in some way. And of course, turn on the front porch light!

They should prepare small bags of candy to pass out to each person using gloves. These bags of candy should be placed at the end of each driveway in some sort of bucket or receptacle to contain them properly. And when the time comes, the participants can set up camp on their front porch or stoop to watch the show.

As for the families with kids dressed up in Halloween costumes, they will be the ones driving by. And if you want to make it even more fun, then decorating your car for the holiday will be even more exciting.

As you drive by each house, let the kids out of the car to show off their costumes while they pick up an individual bag of candy. They can talk to the neighbors from the end of the driveway, should they choose to. But this way, the neighbors get to see your kids awesome costumes and the kids still get to trick-or-treat. Safely and from a distance though.

celebrate halloween safely summary

Ultimately, there are different ways you can approach Halloween this year. And a lot of it will be determined by the ages of your kids and the area in which you live. While a drive by party sounds like it could be fun, our neighborhood doesn’t really have that many kids. So, it’s not something we are going to do. Plus, there are more potential health risks involved with the drive by option.

Therefore, we are planning to partake in the house party option. And I can’t wait to see what the kids come up with. Once we see how Halloween goes, then it’s time to tackle the rest of the holidays. This should really be interesting!

What ways have you contemplated to celebrate Halloween safely with your family this year?

Why a UTMA Account is an Awesome Way to Help Kids Save

When it comes to helping kids save money, there are just so many different options. Of course, you could go with the traditional savings account. However, those generally don’t keep up with the rate of inflation, so they will actually be losing money. There are also money market accounts and CD’s, which can be some other better options. And if your child has any earned wages, then you can open up a custodial Roth IRA for them. Roth IRA’s can earn the highest market returns of an average 8%. But, if they don’t have any earned income, you can’t use those types of accounts. This is where a UTMA account comes into play instead.

What is a utma account?

A UTMA account is a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act account. This is a custodial account that is for taxable investing. Which is slightly different than a Roth IRA account, in that anything your child withdraws from the account in the future will be taxed.

We opened all of UTMA accounts at Fidelity, since they are one of the few that have custodial accounts. Initially, we planned to open all of the Roth IRA’s and UTMA’s with Betterment, since that is where our Roth IRA’s are. But, we found out that they don’t support custodial accounts yet, so that wasn’t an option.

Since I had an old 401k with Fidelity, it just made the most sense to stick with them. Plus, their customer service is amazingly helpful. So, if you decide to open either a Roth IRA or a UTMA for your child, you can call them and they will walk you through the whole process.

HOw can it be funded?

UTMA accounts can be funded through any account you care to connect to it. They don’t have the restrictions that Roth IRA’s do when it comes to the funding or where it comes from. What this means is that you can attach any account with EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) capability to each UTMA. Most banks won’t open anything other than a savings account for younger children, which don’t have EFT functionality, though. So, if you have younger children, you will probably have to fund their UTMA accounts with your own checking account.

Initially, we found out that some of the kids had savings bonds purchased for them when they were first born. Instead of just letting them sit there earning very little interest, we decided to cash them out and put the money into their UTMA accounts instead.

However, you can put money into these accounts at any time for any reason. So it wouldn’t just have to be from old savings bonds.

We also found that some grandparents like to give money for birthdays and holidays. Or they send us a check to get their gifts and we don’t spend all of it. So we have started putting that “extra” money into their UTMA accounts also. This way it will really help the kids in the future because they don’t even realize the money is there. And, they aren’t just getting more toys for us to break our toes on. Bonus for us!

With that being said, here are some ways you can think about funding your children’s UTMA accounts:

  • Old savings bonds
  • Extra birthday money
  • Allowance money
  • Side hustle money (kid’s lemonade stand, yard work, etc.)
  • Money for good grades
  • Gifts (just because)

teaching about investing

One of my favorite things about these accounts, besides how easy they are to fund, is that it helps us teach them about investing. Even the youngest one, at the ripe old age of 8, has found this to be a lot of fun.

Once you put money into the UTMA account, it just sits there in a money market earning basically nothing until you choose your investments. The kids can invest in mutual funds, individual stocks or ETF’s.

Teaching them the difference between the three is just the beginning of the lesson. Once they grasp the different types of accounts, then I let them find companies they are interested in. I had to explain what publicly traded meant a few times, but once they got that concept, they were on a roll.

After they wrote down a list of everything they were interested in, then came the extra fun part for me. I like for the child to see how certain assets are performing before they decide whether to pull the trigger or not. There are many different places to look up ticker symbols to find out how they are performing.

Marketwatch is a good one to start with because it is very in depth. But, if you can’t remember where to go, you can always just type in the ticker symbol in the Google search box and the first thing it usually pulls up is how the stock is performing.

I like to make sure the kids see how an asset has been performing for the past 6 months, 1 year and 5 years. A lot of times this has changed their mind about purchasing a certain fund because they don’t like how it has been performing.

I answer all of their questions to the best of my ability, but I don’t want to choose for them. This is a huge learning experience for them while they are young, so I don’t want to push them one way or another. After all, if they lose money on their choices right now, it won’t really hurt them financially in the future. So this a great time to get their feet wet.

utma account summary

Overall, opening up a UTMA account for your child is a great way to help save for their future. While these accounts are a bit different than Roth IRA accounts, they operate fairly similarly with rate of returns. These accounts have the potential to net your children some great interest on money they aren’t spending while they are young. Which means they have the opportunity to create a decent sized nest egg before they leave your nest.

Plus, you get to teach them about investing and the stock market. Which is a great lesson to learn while they are young. I know I wish my parents would have taught me more about it when I was younger, because I would have been a much savvier investor in my early twenties. But, you can’t change the past, only the future. And that is exactly what we are trying to do with our children by opening up UTMA accounts for them now.

Have you heard of a UTMA account or opened one up? If so, what has been your experience with them so far?

How to Make Teaching Young Children About Finances FUN!

When you have young children, teaching them about money is a big part of our job as parents. And this is especially important when they are young because they learn so much more quickly when they are younger. And, they are more apt to listen to us and follow our actions because they look up to us greatly at this age. Not as much once they hit the teenage years! To the earlier you can start, the better.

But it’s not always easy, or fun. Especially when they are really young because the concepts can be much too difficult for them to grasp. However, I have found some great ways to make teaching young children about finances fun. And not just for them!

grocery list

One of the easiest financial lessons I found to begin with was grocery shopping. When my children were around the age of 2, they began helping me make a grocery list. I found the best way to approach this was to have them go through the pantry and refrigerator while I wrote down a list. They would  ell me what they thought we needed and we would discuss it. Because sometimes what they thought we needed was ice cream and cookies!

Whenever we went to the store I would have them help me decide which items to buy. I started out simply by comparing the same item but different brands. That way it was easier for them to see the cost difference between the two products.

Example: If Brand A can of beans costs $.89 and Brand B can of beans costs $.99, which one is the better deal.

This math is usually simple enough for them to grasp when they are much younger. As they got a bit older, I would increase the complexity of the math needed. In that, I would then compare similar products that had different quantities also. This can be pretty confusing for them initially. But once they understand it, it’s a really fun game for them to find the best deal.

allowance budget

Every member of the family should be pitching in to help. So, chores and allowance are another great way to approach teaching young children about finances. However, with the allowance comes some strings. Besides not getting paid if they don’t do their age appropriate chores, they also have to create a budget for it.

One of the most common ways to create an allowance budget is to split it up into the following 3 categories:

  • Donations
  • Saving
  • Spending

Of course, you can discuss this with your children because they may have other categories in mind. But these 3 categories are usually the most simplistic to begin with.

Once you have the allowance budget categories defined, then it’s a good time to open the discussion with your child regarding how much should go in each category. Percentages are easier for us as adults, but may not be as easy for your young child to grasp.

Therefore, if may be best to start with a specific dollar amount in each category.

Here is a good example of both options for a simple $10 allowance since this number can be easier for them to understand from a percentage perspective.

  • $10 = $2 for Donations, $4 for Saving, $4 for Spending
  • $10 = 20% for Donations, 40% for Saving, 40% for Spending

Ultimately, how this is broken down is completely up to you and your child. The main point is that they begin to learn the basics of budgeting their income. So that it will be much easier for them as adults when they have to do it for themselves.

sell their old stuff

As most of us know, with children comes a lot of extra stuff. And as they grow, they outgrow that “stuff” fairly rapidly. Most of the time, the majority of it is also barely used. So, this is another great area to weave financial lessons in for your young child.

When it’s time to declutter the house, have your child go through their stuff to sell also.

The first thing to go through with them is which items they might be able to sell. And then you should have them help you figure out how much they think they can sell the items for.

A lot of times I prefer to sell my kids outgrown stuff online. But, having a yard sale is another great way to approach this lesson since your child will have to be physically present for it.

This lesson helps to teach them the value of their stuff and the value of a dollar. So, it’s really a two-fold lesson that is extremely important for them to grasp now.

Plus, it’s a great place to add on a third lesson while you are at it. Let them keep the money they make on their stuff and put it into a high yield savings account. That way they can watch it grow each month and you can help them learn about compound interest. Now, I call this a big win!

Birthday Budget

And last but not least, the birthday budget. I think my kids always think that money grows on trees. Which is extra funny because we actually have a money tree, but it doesn’t grow money!

With that being said, their birthday wish lists always start out much further outside the budget than they think. So, it’s a good time to bring them back down to earth and have them help with a more realistic birthday list.

First, let them know what the budget is for their birthday. The best way I have found to do this is to tell them that they need to find some gifts that are under $20 and they can find one or two that are closer to $40 – $50 also.

This way, the majority of the birthday gifts they want fall into most people’s budget. And the couple of larger gifts could be from us or a joint gift. But, I also let them know that they will never get everything on their list. That way I help to set up their expectations and keep a bit of the birthday surprise going.

Teaching young children about finances

Overall, there are a lot of great ways you can begin teaching young children about finances and it still be fun. My favorite ways include:

  • Having them help make the grocery list and compare food prices
  • Make an allowance budget
  • Selling their old stuff and putting the money into a high-yield savings account
  • Creating a reasonable birthday budget

If you can start with these easy lessons, then you are well on your way to increasing your child’s financial knowledge. And the earlier you can start, the better. So, have fun with it and get started today!

What are some of the best ways you have found to teach your young children about finances and still make it fun?

Our Favorite Ways to Save Money at the Movies

Going to the movies is a favorite past time for a lot of us. But, it can get pretty darn expensive if you aren’t careful. This is largely due to the fact that the movie production houses set the movie ticket prices, and not the individual theaters. And the theaters don’t really make anything on the movie ticket prices because of that. So that leaves concessions for them to make a profit, which is why they can be so darn expensive. So, over the years, we’ve found some great hacks to help save money at the movies.

Groupon, Living Social & Fandango

Groupon and Living Social are both sites that offer discounts on a ton of different products, services and experiences. Movie theaters just happen to be one of those potential options. We’ve used both of these sites to help us find some great budget friendly family activities in the past, which was awesome!

Since they don’t always have deals running at your local movie theater it’s best to check both sites regularly.

Another great site/app to check out is Fandango. This is a movie app that helps find the movies you are looking for at your closest theaters. But, as an added bonus, they also offer discounts and specials if you become a member.

With the app you purchase your tickets ahead of time and save money on concessions. The way this currently works is once you purchase $15 in concessions, you will then get a $5 gift card from Fandango. However, this can vary and only be on specific items purchased at concessions. So it’s best to double check ahead of time to see what qualifies.

Matinee & Tuesday Movies

One of my favorite movie theater hacks is to go to a matinee instead. Matinees are always cheaper than the prime movie showings. Going to a matinee instead can really help us save us a lot of money right out of the gate.

This is the current price breakdown from our local Regal theater for ticket prices:

  • Matinee (Noon – 4 pm) Child & Senior – $7.44
  • Matinee (Noon – 4 pm) Adult – $8.14
  • Prime (4 pm – Close) Child & Senior – $7.94
  • Prime (4 pm – Close) Adult – $10.74

And if you want to save even more money, consider going on a Tuesday instead. A lot of theaters offer a special Tuesday price because that is traditionally the slowest day of the week. Most of the time, the ticket prices hover around $5 – $6 per ticket. I don’t know about you, but I am perfectly fine with checking out a Tuesday flick for major savings!

Late Run Theaters

Another great movie theater hack is heading to late run theaters instead. These theaters specifically gear their showings towards later run movies. This means they don’t show newly released movies as soon as they come out. So, you’ll have to wait a few weeks until the movie is out of the first run theater. But, by doing so, you can save some major money on the movie ticket price.

Most of the time, these ticket prices can be as low as $1 – $2 per showing!

Theater Website

Most major movie theaters have their own website and loyalty club you can join. Usually, when you sign up to become a loyalty member, you some sort of discount right away.

Most of the time this discount is:

  • a percentage off a movie ticket
  • concessions rewards
  • free small popcorn
  • free drink

No matter what, I am perfectly fine with free bonuses. So adding this to your arsenal can only help you save even more money at the movies.

Summer Movie Programs

Most theaters have some sort of summer theater program that is geared towards children. The program only runs for a certain amount of weeks and usually has showings during the day only.

During the summer, the kids can get pretty bored, so this is something I have been utilizing for years now. After all, I am all about how to have a great time on a budget!

Usually these summer movies usually run anywhere from $1 – $2.50 per ticket. So, if you are willing to go during the day, and watch some more kid friendly movies, this might be a great option to save money at the movies this summer.

Specialty Discounts

Most theaters also offer some sort of specialty discount. These discounts are geared towards people who fall into the following categories:

  • AAA Members
  • Children
  • Government Employees
  • Military
  • Seniors
  • Students
  • Teachers

Not every theater offers all of these discounts. Therefore, it is best to ask if you happen to fall into one of these categories.

Divvy Up the Snacks

Since concessions are usually the most expensive part of the movie going experience, this is where you should try to save the most money. This works really well if you’ve got a group, or children with you. Some of the best tips we have learned are:

  • Ask for water cups and fill them up at the water fountain
  • Buy the large popcorn and split it up between all of you
  • Buy the large candy and divide equally

The best way to split up the snacks is to bring paper bags, or something like it, with you. Since theaters charge for the trays and extra cups, you don’t want to add those into your concessions cost.

Either way, purchasing the large, refillable, options, you will end up saving you the most money. Just performing these simple concessions hacks can really help you save money at the movies!

Save Money at the Movies

Overall, there are so many ways to help you save money at the movies. Some of our favorite options are:

  • Groupon, Living Social & Fandango
  • Matinees and Tuesday Movies
  • Late Run Theaters
  • Theater Website
  • Summer Movie Programs
  • Specialty Discounts
  • Divvy Up the Snacks

No matter which options you choose, combining some of these options can really help you save a ton of money. After all, we want to enjoy our movie going experience, but we don’t want it to break the bank at the same time.

What are some of the best hacks you’ve found to help you save money at the movies?

Awesome Budget Friendly Foods to Boost Your Health

When it comes to our food budget, sticking to it can be the most difficult part. Of course, we have 5 kids, so that doesn’t help at all! But, what helps us save money the most is stocking up on some of our favorite superfoods. These foods help build our immunity, which keeps us healthy, which in turn, means very little, to no, medical bills. I am all about saving money wherever I can, so these awesome budget friendly foods really help out.

Turmeric

Turmeric is one of my absolute favorite spices to keep on hand. I even put it in my coffee in the morning!

This is because it is extremely diverse in its uses. But, the flavor profile is quite pronounced. So, for some of us, it may take a little while to become accustomed. But once you do, you will love what it does for your body!

Turmeric has been used in Eastern cultures for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. When you see Indian food dishes that have a yellowish tint to them, you know there is turmeric in there.

There are so many health benefits to adding turmeric to your diet, that you really can’t go wrong. Some of the major health benefits of turmeric are:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Increases neural function
  • Increases memory
  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Reduces and potentially eliminates cancer cells
  • Anti-depressant
  • Delay aging and aging related diseases

This little yellow spice is really a huge superfood! However, in order to get the best benefits out of adding turmeric to your diet, make sure you consume it with a fatty meal (or coconut milk in your coffee) or black pepper.

Black Pepper

Black pepper is a go-to spice for us. We use it in pretty much every dish we make, including some desserts. And, as previously mentioned, it should be used with any turmeric dishes in order to activate the turmeric. When the two are combined, the amount of turmeric that is bioavailable to you goes from approximately 3% to 2000%. That is a huge jump in bioavailability!

But that is not the only thing black pepper is good for. In fact, black pepper has a lot of the same health benefits as turmeric. Some of the most common health benefits of black pepper are:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Increases memory
  • Decreases degenerative brain diseases
  • Improves blood sugar metabolism
  • Lowers cholesterol levels
  • Fights cancer cells
  • Boosts nutrient absorption
  • Increases good gut bacteria
  • Reduces pain
  • Appetite suppressant

Now, I don’t know about you, but I like all of those things! And, black pepper can be extremely cheap to purchase. So, why on earth wouldn’t you put it in everything you could?

Cinnamon

One of my other favorite spices to add to my morning coffee is cinnamon. I just love the flavor of it, especially when it is combined with turmeric. While we have a lot of cinnamon on hand, we don’t use it as much as the other two previously mentioned spices. But, it can be just as budget friendly to pick up at the store. So that is a huge bonus!

Our favorite thing to put cinnamon in, besides coffee, is overnight oats. The kids love it in the morning and have no idea that we are giving them a ton of medicinal benefits with their breakfast. This is what I call a parenting win!

Some of the most common health benefits of cinnamon are:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Reduces insulin resistance (Great for those with Type II Diabetes)
  • Decreases degenerative brain diseases
  • Fights cancer cells
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-bacterial

We not only use it in food, but make our own cleaning spray with cinnamon essential oil in it. This is due to its extremely strong anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. And it works like a charm!

Star Anise

While star anise does not seemed to be used as widely, including in our house, it is also a powerhouse. Star anise has a licorice flavor profile, so it can be a bit harder to use on a daily basis. Unless you are a big lover of licorice, that is!

However, it can still be added to coffee, savory dishes and desserts. So this is a spice to help you get creative with your cooking.

It can be found at most grocery stores, so it’s not too difficult to track down. And the cost is similar to cinnamon, so you won’t be breaking the bank.

Some of the best health affects of star anise are:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiviral
  • Antifungal
  • Antibacterial

Since it has so many great properties, this is another essential oil that we include in our household spray. The combination of cinnamon and star anise alone will kill anything our kids drag in.

Algae

Algae is one of my more recent superfood additions. A couple of years ago I ran across some really great information, including a wealth of scientific studies, about algae. The nutritional and health benefits of spirulina and chlorella are out of this world!

Since I found this information, and did more of my own scientific digging, we now incorporate algae every morning before our coffee. In fact, some of the kids ask for it too! Which is really great for our picky eaters. At least then, I know they are getting some essential vitamins, minerals and nutrition into them for the day.

Some of the most common health benefits of algae are:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin A
  • Iron
  • Omega 3
  • Vitamin K
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Protein
  • Anti-depressant
  • Reduces and potentially eliminates cancer cells
  • Boosts immune system response
  • Helps with proper digestion
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Reduces appetite
  • Builds muscle
  • Strengthens hair, nails, skin and bones

As you can see, when it comes to superfoods, algae really is the OG! But, algae can be a bit more expensive than the other items on this list. So, we take it in moderation just to maintain our level of wellness, which helps keep withing our budget.

Most awesome budget friendly foods

Overall, there are some really awesome budget friendly foods our there that you can incorporate in your daily regimen. And most of these are so cheap, and stretch really far, so you won’t even feel it. This means you get to boost your overall health, reduce potential illness and medical bills and stick within your budget. So what’s not to love?

Have you tried any of these awesome budget friendly foods yet? If so, what are your favorites and how do you usually incorporate them into your diet?

How to Keep More of Your Money This Year

With a new year comes a new slate. And for us, that means it’s a great time to create more financial freedom and independence for our future selves. And one of the best ways we have found to achieve that is to keep more of our money, as opposed to spending it. But, that doesn’t just mean we keep it and don’t do anything with it. There are many different tips and tricks used to help create more wealth with our money. So read on if you want to learn how to keep more of your money and create more long term wealth.

Setting financial goals

Setting your financial goals is the first part of the puzzle. After all, if you don’t have clear cut goals lined up then what are you wanting to keep more of your money for anyway? The best way we have found to do this is to create 4 different things.

    • Budget
    • Short-term goals
    • Mid-term goals
  • Long-term goals

Once you have those 4 things nailed down, then you can really start rolling towards your personal financial goals.

Open a high yield savings account

No matter what your debt to income ratio is, you can always find something to put aside. Even if it’s only $20 a month to begin with, something is still better than nothing. And with this $20, or whatever you are able to regularly scrape together, you will create your emergency fund.

After all, one of the most important tools in your financial arsenal is your emergency fund. Even if you don’t have 6-9 months of expenses saved to begin with, everybody has to start somewhere. And this money can really help reduce your stress levels in times of crisis. No matter what you put into the this savings account, the goal is to budget the same amount monthly.

Just pretend it’s another bill and it will be less painful. And, the best way to gain a little more on your emergency fund savings is to open a high yield savings account to put it into. 

With interest rates closer to 2% in high yield savings accounts, you will still do a whole lot better than if you put the money into a traditional savings account. Those rates are currently at a national average of .09%, which is just ridiculous!

Stay focused on your financial goals

Once you have figured out your financial goals and started your emergency fund, next you have to figure out how to stay focused on them. Believe me when I tell you that this can really be the hardest part! 

There are a lot of great tools out there to help you track your spending and your wealth. But, the one I have been using for years now is Personal Capital. You can use it on your PC or your smartphone. And once you have all of your accounts connected (that is what takes the most amount of time!), it is very easy to navigate.

You just login to the platform and it will show you your overall net worth based on the balance of each account. I take it as a personal challenge to increase my net worth every month, if even only by a little bit.

Pay off your credit card

While most of us prefer to use credit cards over cash, they can really get us into financial trouble if we aren’t careful. Some of these credit cards have pretty awesome rewards, which are fantastic to get. But if you don’t pay off your credit card in full every month, then you are ultimately spending more than you are getting in rewards.

So, the best way to fully utilize your credit card’s perks is to pay off your card in full every month. If that means only putting basic household expenses on the credit card, because you know you can pay that off. Then that is what you should do to make sure you will have enough money in your budget to pay it off. 

Determine Needs vs. wants

Once you have gone through all of the previous items, determining needs vs. wants is the next step. Because now you are getting into potentially erroneous items that may creep up monthly to spend your money on. And it is these things that can really derail us on our financial path if we aren’t careful.

Therefore, keep in mind whether the item/service is a need or a want first. If the item is a need, then go ahead and do it. But if it is actually a want instead, you may want to hold off on it or figure out a different solution. After all, not spending your hard earned cash on wants will only help you keep more of your money in your pocket.

Keep More of Your Money

Overall, it can be difficult to keep more of your money in your pocket. Especially, since it is just so easy to spend it quickly these days. And this is the reason why we have to be more aware of what we have and where we want to be with our finances. 

Just remember to:

  • Set your financial goals
  • Open a high yield savings account
  • Stay focused on your financial goals
  • Pay off your credit card every month
  • Determine needs vs. wants

For us, following these great financial tips have really helped us keep more money in our pocket. So it will be interesting to see how much we are able to keep this year and continue to grow our wealth.

What steps to you plan to take to help keep more money in your pocket this year?

How Can You Get the Best Car Insurance Rates?

When it comes to our cars, we all want to save money. This is not only true of the car purchase, but also the car insurance needed for it once we drive it off the lot. But sometimes by saving money, we end up cutting corners that can cost us more in the long run. This is where car insurance comparison sites come into play. I have found that they can be a great resource when it comes to getting new car insurance, or negotiating with your current company for a better rate.

But, before we get to the comparison sites, I want to talk about the items you should be comparing across the board to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. After all, not all insurance products are created the same.

Car Insurance features

No matter which company you end up going with, they should all offer some of the same features. Although, most of us consider these basic features today, they are really extras that don’t have to be offered. These include:

Comprehensive insurance

Comprehensive insurance covers anything that happens to your car non-collision related, such as:

  • Break-in or vandalism
  • Damage from an animal striking your car
  • Fire or explosion
  • Natural disasters
  • Shattered or cracked windshield or window
  • Things falling onto your car

Collision coverage

Collision coverage covers the repair of your car when you have been in a collision. If the car is considered a total loss, then they will cover the cost to replace your vehicle at current market value.

Roadside assistance and towing

Roadside assistance is not something that every insurance carrier offers in their basic plans, but they should. What it usually covers is:

  • Fixing a tire
  • Gas delivered to your car if you run out, but you usually have to pay for the gas
  • Jumping your battery
  • Locked out of your vehicle
  • Stuck in the snow or ice
  • Towing to a service station

Rental car insurance

Rental car insurance is an another one that is not always offered in a basic plan, but certainly should be Usually it will cover:

  • The cost of a daily rental car while your car is being fixed due to a car accident

Bodily injury insurance

Bodily injury insurance is generally used in accidents that you are deemed at fault for to pay for:

  • Death
  • Injury
  • Lawsuit
  • Sickness

Property damage insurance

Property damage covers somebody else’s property that you have damaged in an accident you are deemed at fault for. Some of the most common items are:

  • Hitting a parked car
  • Running into your neighbor’s house
  • Sliding into a neighbor’s mailbox

Uninsured motorist coverage

This coverage is extremely useful when you find yourself in an accident with someone who is either underinsured or uninsured. Your uninsured motorist coverage will pick up the slack and cover the remaining costs for injuries or damage to you and your car.

Medical expense insurance

Medical expense insurance is an extra buffer built into your car insurance plan to assist with health related issues occurring from a car accident. It helps to pay for things like:

  • Ambulance
  • Doctor visits
  • Funeral costs
  • Hospital stays
  • Medicine
  • Surgeries
  • X-rays

PIP insurance

Personal injury protection insurance is used to help people, other than yourself, who might have been injured in an accident.It covers things like:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of services
  • Lost wages
  • Medical treatment

GAP insurance

GAP insurance is for drivers who have purchased new cars. It helps to pay the difference between what the new car is now worth and what a replacement vehicle of the exact same year, make and model would cost.

Comparison sites

Now that you have a better idea as to what you should be comparing, the best way to do that is through the use of comparison sites.

I like to use a few of them, just to see if I find a difference in rates. Which does actually happen! A lot of times this is due to the fact that most of them give you a general ballpark quote, but you have to go through the final sign up process to get the final rate.

These types of sites include:

But, there are other sites that will give you cold hard facts, if you are willing to put in a bit more information. A couple of these are actually through the insurance company offering the car insurance and the other two aren’t the actual car insurance carriers.

These sites are:

To be honest, I usually start with the general ballpark quote sites just to get a broader idea of what I am looking at. And that way I don’t have to put in a ton of information, or risk getting phone calls from a lot of different agents and companies.

Once I have a better idea as to which companies might be able to offer me the best rates, for the best features, I dig in deeper.

best Car insurance rates summary

Overall, if you want to get the best car insurance rates, you are going to have to be willing to do a little work. Do your general comparison shopping first to narrow down companies of interest. Then, check into their offered features in their basic plans to see how they compare. Next, dig into the sites with real quotes, or go to the actual car insurance carriers website itself to get a real time quote.

If you are happy with your current carrier though, this may just be an exercise to help you reduce your rate or get better features added to your policy for no more money. Either way, what do you have to lose if it saves you money and can potentially get you more features? This is a win-win in my book!

What are some of the most effective ways you have found to get the best rates on car insurance?

4 of the Best Ways to Get Clothes on a Budget

As a fairly frugal family, we are always looking for ways to cut costs. This is especially true when it comes to clothes. After all, having 5 growing children can really get expensive in the clothing genre! But, over the years, we have found some great ways to procure clothes on a budget. And whether you have children or not, these tips can really come in handy to save you some money.

Poshmark

A friend of mine turned me onto Poshmark not too long ago. I had never heard of them before, but have fallen in love! This service is for buying and selling name brand clothes, shoes and accessories.

Ultimately, I don’t have a whole lot of name brand items. But, since we are always cleaning things out, I figured what the heck. Setting up your closet (if you want to sell anything) is pretty quick and painless. You have the option to share your closet on all of your social media accounts also, if you so choose. This can increase your sales opportunities.

Poshmark takes 20% of whatever you sell your items for. So this is something to keep in mind. But, you can keep the money you make in your Poshmark account to use for items you want to purchase. The seller does not pay shipping, the purchaser does.

And negotiation is allowed on Poshmark, which is pretty cool!

I have sold a few items on Poshmark so far. I was then able to use the money in my account to purchase new clothes for us. The grand total I have spent so far is $.59. Now that is what I call clothes on a budget!

consignment stores

Consignment stores are another one of my favorite places to shop for clothes on a budget. Not only do I love to donate to them, but shopping at them is pretty awesome also. Granted, there can be a lot of things that don’t appeal to you at all. Or the clothes and shoes can be extremely outdated. But, I have found quite a few diamonds in the rough at consignment stores.

There are a few consignment stores near us that are notorious for having a lot of donations with the tags still ON! These are my favorite finds because we get brand new clothes at severely discounted prices. How can you go wrong with that?

Some of our favorite consignment stores to hit up are:

Depending upon which consignment store you go to, the prices will vary. But, prices at Goodwill are the same no matter which one you frequent in your area. For us, that means the kids clothes start at $3.19 each and ours start at $3.89 each. We love this!

Just keep in mind that whenever you are consignment shopping you will also be hunting. So you have to be okay with scouring through a lot of different clothing items to find what you are seeking. If you aren’t a fan of this, then don’t worry because there are plenty of other options for you.

end of season

One of the best times to shop for clothes is the end of a season. I realize this can be difficult with growing children though. Since you have to predict how much they will grow, it is always a guessing game.

However, if you are willing to play the game, you can save some serious money. Take right now, for example. Most stores are moving into the heavy winter clothes and are trying to offload the lighter fall attire. This is the time to search for, and stock up on, things such as:

  • Capri pants
  • 3/4 length shirts
  • Lighter leggings
  • Lightweight long sleeve shirts
  • Long skirts
  • Lightweight jackets

Since we have been searching for new pants for some of the kids in the past few weeks, we have run across some great deals. I’ve been able to pick up pants for some of the kids for as low as $2.50 each. I also came across some Capri athletic pants for myself for $4.98. I don’t know about you, but those prices really make me smile!

emails and coupons

Last but not least are email lists and coupons. Even though I greatly detest all of the emails inundating my inbox, I love some of the deals I run across.

Usually, when you sign up to get a newsletter, you will also get a welcome email with discounts of some sort. I hold onto those puppies like gold!

A lot of the email lists, and/or associated store apps, will have coupons also. You have to read the fine print because some of them can’t be combined with any other offer. But I have run across quite a few that can be combined. And that is where you start really racking up the savings!

One of my favorite tricks is to sign up for a new email list and use the coupon(s) in the clearance section. I have been able to get a lot of clothes for next to nothing this way. And that really helps keep our clothes budget low.

Clothes on a budget

Overall, there are quite a few different ways you can find clothes on a budget. And sometimes, they might even be new clothes with the tags still on!

Some of the best ways we have found to restock our wardrobes on the cheap are:

  • Poshmark
  • Consignment stores scouring
  • Shopping at the end of each season
  • Getting onto email lists for deals and coupons

Therefore, getting creative and playing the game are the best ways to get clothes on a budget for the whole family.

What are some of the best ways you have found to get clothes on a budget?

How We Bought Two New Used Cars With Cash

We have been hitting the road towards debt freedom pretty hard for the past three years now. The car loan on one of our cars was the last big thing we had to get rid of before we could start throwing more at the mortgage. How to get rid of the car loan faster was something that had been vexing me since the beginning of the year. I was getting close to an answer to pay it off faster, when it suddenly happened. We were finally able to get rid of the last car loan, and buy two new used cars, with cash only. This was a miracle! Read more