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How to Make Utilities Affordable on a Strict Budget in College

Posted on Jan 31, 2019 with No comments

Jan 31, 2019

When you’re on a tight budget, it’s so important to stay within the lines. When you don’t, it can lead to debt and more negative financial scenarios. It’s one thing to cut down on your expenses for food. There are food banks, coupons and other ways to make food stretch. However, this same concept doesn’t apply to your utility bills. Thankfully, there are ways you can make your utilities more affordable when you’re on a tight budget. Consider the following four ideas.

Limit Energy Consumption

This doesn’t mean that you’re supposed to sleep in a cold home during the winter. However, it does mean that you need to be intentional with your usage. Keep the thermostat at a consistent temperature like 69 degrees during the seasons. Use space heaters with timers for rooms that you’ll spend a lot of time in.

Wear a layer or two as well. Try to cook meals no more than twice a week. When you cook major meals ahead of time, you won’t have to heat up the stove for longer periods of time. Turn off the lights once you leave a room. Unplug your items when you’re finished watching television or using the toaster. These small tips add up.

Find an Affordable Internet Service Provider

It might be a wise idea to let go of your cable and internet package. There are many an internet service provider to choose from, so make sure you find one that works for you and your needs. Plus, you can also watch your favorite shows through inexpensive subscription programs online.

Implement Ways to Cut down on Water Usage

Check to see if there are any leaks. If water is continuously running in one of the toilets, make sure the issue is fixed quickly. Take shorter showers. It’s also a good idea to use a low-flow showerhead. It’ll help you conserve water, get clean and keep your water bill low.

Talk to Your Utility Providers

Always remember to talk with your utility service providers. Ask about any potential programs they offer that can help you decrease your monthly bill. Sometimes, it’s just about making a phone call to inquire. In other cases, they might send someone to your home in order to give a free consultation. Many utility companies will provide free consultations so that you can learn more about ways to conserve energy and spend less.

As you implement these tips and become used to them, you might find yourself preferring this way of living. When you do get some financial margin, these tips aren’t bad to maintain. After all, you can still live comfortably. The bills will be paid and you’ll get to put more money into other areas like savings or travel.


4 Plans to Save For Private Education Expenses

Posted on Jan 20, 2019 with No comments

Jan 20, 2019

Preparation and saving for private school tuition now is possible and more economical than financing the cost from future cash flow. While some restrictions may exist, there are tax advantaged ways of making the costs more budget-friendly and more efficient with your overall financial planning.

529 Plan

The most largely employed education savings account. Contributions are non-deductible inside a 529 plan, however they grow tax free inside the account. The contribution limitation for 2018 is $15,000 annually per contributor or $75,000 per contributor as a 5 year "pre-paid" gift. 

If applied toward qualified secondary and post-secondary education costs, distributions are tax free. There are distribution limitations for K-12 costs. The adult retains full control as the owner of the account.

Coverdell Savings Account (ESA)/ Education IRA

The non-deductible additions grow tax free inside the account. If the funds are employed for qualified education costs, distributions are tax free given they are used for qualified costs relating to private schools, but they can be utilized for both secondary and post-secondary academic expenses.

Contribution restrictions contain several factors including amount ($2,000 annually for 2018), income limits, and age limits of the minor. Contributions are deemed a gift to the child and effectively become the property of the beneficiary if they are not used for qualified educational expenses.

Regular Custodial Accounts (UTMA/UGMA)

This account is similar to the ESA in that contributions are a gift to the college student. At age 18 the student takes possession of the account. The tax benefit is different from 529s and ESAs. Distributions do not carry additional taxes as the earnings are taxed throughout the duration of the account. 

The taxation of UTMA accounts have shifted for 2018, making it very necessary to understand how this account would be taxed for you. This account usually has a dual-purpose because the goal is to pay for education with the intention that the child will receive the balance as a "graduation gift" once he/ she has completed school. The contribution limit into an UTMA is $13,000 annually per donor for 2018.

Pre-paid State Tuition Plans

Although not available in every state, some have particular plans for resident students attending an in-state university that allows for a parent to pre-pay college expenses. The adult pays for tuition at a reduced rate and can "secure" the tuition cost for that child, years in advance. This plan is seldom used, nevertheless, because of the restriction on where the child can attend. Each state program is unique and requires further study, if being considered.

As with retirement, it is important to prepare for college costs as early as possible to take advantage of long-term growth opportunities. Any one of these options will assist in saving for those costs and relieve the pressure of tuition expenses when they come due. It is recommended that one look for the advice of a Certified Financial Planner ™ expert or tax expert when deciding which plan is best for each unique circumstance.


Side Hustle: 4 Easy Ways to Make Extra Cash in College

Posted on Jan 16, 2019 with No comments

Jan 16, 2019

Getting money can seem like one of the hardest things in the world. It doesn’t have to be that difficult for anyone, however. If you’re clever and resourceful, earning spare cash shouldn’t be too complex for you. There are all sorts of options out there for ingenuous folks who don’t want to take “no” for an answer in life.

Throw a Garage Sale

Organizing a yard sale can help you earn spare cash rapidly and easily. All you have to do is browse through your belongings. If you find things that you no longer want or use, then you should consider selling them. Putting together a neighborhood garage sale can be excellent for people who want to unload and make money simultaneously.

Sell Your Possessions on the Internet

Selling belongings on the Internet can be suitable for people who want to easily and rapidly score spare cash. There are so many websites online that are fitting for the sales of old items. There are many auction sites that are fitting for them, too.

Create comprehensive listings for any items you wish to sell. If you want to sell an old acoustic guitar, write about it in great detail. Include clear photographs of it from numerous angles as well.

Look for a Part-Time Position

Part-time work can be helpful to people who need spare money. You don’t have to get a part-time job at a boutique or a grocery store, either. If you’re unable to find the time to squeeze in a conventional part-time position, you can think about starting a pet walking or sitting business in your neighborhood. You may be able to feed cats that are alone while their owners are away on business or on vacation. You may be able to walk dogs that have busy owners as well. Be sure to explore all of your available job paths.

Recycle Scrap Metal

Scrap metal recycling can be a superb option for people who are in need of more money. Be on the lookout for scrap metal services that are accessible to your household. You can even look around your community. Scrap metal recycling can help people simply and confidently make money. It doesn’t call for a substantial time commitment in any way, either.

Earning extra cash can make you feel smart. It can help you save for all kinds of essential purchases as well. Resourceful people can explore all sorts of money-making avenues nowadays.


Withdrawing Money From A 529 College Savings Plan

Posted on Jan 11, 2019 with No comments

Jan 11, 2019

Parents who've been saving for years know the benefits of putting dollars into a 529 college savings account. They get huge tax breaks on the cash. However what goes on when it's eventually time to take the money out? Financial experts at Money Magazine say there are smart techniques to accomplish it.

If you don't spend the money on a valid 529 expenditure, you'll pay income tax on the gains in the 529 and a 10 percent penalty on the amount you saved. Legitimate 529 expenses consist of common things, such as tuition and supplies, like books and personal computers. You can additionally use the money towards room and board if the trainee is registered in school at least half-time.

As you spend, be sure to keep all your receipts. The IRS may have questions later. Know that when you spend the money also make a difference. You need to spend it in the corresponding year that you make the withdrawal. That means the fiscal year, not the academic year.

If you're lucky enough to have left over 529 funds, you can avoid taxes and penalties by saving it for graduate school, moving the money to another child, a family member or perhaps apply it to advance your own education.

- Managing Your Strategies For 529 Plan Withdrawals -

Money Magazine says that in some cases you can even use 529 money towards education expenses for kids in kindergarten through the 12th grade, but only up to ten thousand dollars per child, per year. Simply be sure to get in touch with your plan administrator to find out what's covered.


4 Home Additions To Save Up For Years Before Undertaking

Posted on Jan 3, 2019 with No comments

Jan 3, 2019

While many home renovation projects are simple and inexpensive, there might be a few major upgrades that you are interested in. If that sounds like your own situation, then you need to start figuring out your finances a few years in advance. Here is a look at four large projects that are going to require careful planning and a solid budget.

In-ground Pool

Installing an in-ground pool is going to turn your backyard into an outdoor getaway, but there are a few major expenses to consider. In addition to the initial installation costs, you also need to think about how the pool is going to impact your home insurance. As a general rule, most basic home policies don’t cover any liability issues with a new pool unless the owner has purposefully added that coverage.

Upgrade Major Mechanical Systems

Adding a new electrical outlet or faucet generally won’t be a big deal, but replacing all of the wires and pipes in your home is a serious undertaking. That being said, you should consider carrying this project out if those systems haven’t been updated within the last few decades.

Old pipes often contain a wide variety of unwanted contaminants, and frayed wires are a fire hazard. This project should only be carried out by licensed and insured professionals who have permits to work in your state.

Outdoor Patio

Depending on where you live, installing one of many outdoor patios is another major project that can drastically increase the resale value of your home. This upgrade is also going to extend your living area and give you an excellent place to relax with family and friends throughout the year. Before your contractor breaks ground on this project, you will need to consider a few different variables including the overall size, what types of materials you would like to use, and what amenities you would like inside the covered area.

Remodel the Kitchen

Even though remodeling an outdated or unattractive kitchen will make a home much more appealing, it is a serious undertaking that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You might even need to leave your home for a few days if the contractors are going to turn off your water or electricity. That being said, this is a great option for anyone who would like to increase the value of their property as much as possible. Simply installing new appliances and cabinets could boost your home’s resale value by tens of thousands of dollars.

When it comes time to pay for one of these projects, homeowners need to consider all of their financial options. Some homeowners might benefit from taking out a small loan while others will actually save money by putting the expenses on a low-interest credit card.


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