9 - 19 - 2011
If you have a school-age child, you know that back-to-school supplies are a necessity. Thankfully, though, overspending isn’t. In fact, with a little bit of planning, parents can stretch their dollars without sacrificing quality or quantity.
These five smart steps will help you get more bang from your back-to-school bucks.
- Don’t buy what you already own. A survey this past July by the company Deloitte, revealed that 26% of parents with school-age children are planning to reuse last year’s school items. That’s a really smart way to cut costs in a tough economy. So, before heading to the store, be sure to check your drawers and closets (and even under the back seat of the minivan) for back-to-school items that might be usable again this year—things like backpacks, lunch boxes, book covers, pencils, crayons, and glue sticks. Having just one of each of these items could decrease your spending by roughly $40 per child.
8 - 1 - 2011
While many people consider college savings plans the same as college investment funds, there is a difference. When you save for college using standard bank or credit union accounts, you receive a stated return (interest) at a disclosed rate.
Technically, college investment plans generate earnings based on the performance success—or lack—of the college investment options you choose. You should also evaluate child investment options in light of the presence or absence of tax consequences for earnings and/or withdrawals.
7 - 20 - 2011
A term life insurance plan is a good way to provide peace-of-mind, knowing that your loved ones will have the income they need to maintain their current standard of living if you die. Losing a spouse or parent is hard enough without financial concerns during this difficult time.
To determine exactly how much term life insurance coverage you’ll need, follow these steps.
- Discuss your burial wishes with your loved one and estimate funeral expenses, typically between $5,000 and $15,000.
- Calculate your debt, including your mortgage. Your family will be able to live on less if they can pay off all outstanding debt in one lump sum from your life insurance settlement.
- Include college education for your children. Estimate college costs to rise by about 5 percent per year. If your child intends to work to pay for part of school, you may get away with slightly less.
- In most cases, you won’t need to replace 100 percent of your income, especially if your spouse works as well and you’re already paying for childcare. Instead, estimate amounts totaling 50 percent of your pre-tax earnings until your retirement.
- Subtract income from other sources to get a final term life insurance coverage estimate. Any investments you have that your spouse can tap into (not counting retirement accounts) can help defray life insurance costs.
You’ll want to reassess your term life insurance coverage requirements over time, as your debt drops, your salary rises, or if your family or living conditions change. Look for a flexible policy that permits you to change the amount of coverage over time.
7 - 18 - 2011
Saving energy is not obscure science—it is a wonderful and indispensable habit. As researchers and companies large and small seek to discover renewable and alternative energy sources that could work on a prodigious scale, all of us should do our part to practice everyday conservation.
Similar to the theory that “it takes a village to raise a child,” there is no one entity that can solve the rapidly disappearing sources of fuel and other energy. However, orchestrating the components of individuals, businesses, governments, and researchers, everyday conservation achieves not one, but two critical goals.
7 - 15 - 2011
The physical benefits of regular exercise are obvious. However, you’ll enjoy additional bonuses outside your dazzling annual physical exam.
Some of the lesser recognized benefits are just as important as the physical quality of your body, effective weight management and control, and cardiovascular development. Understanding some of these extra features should help motivate you to adopt a regular exercise program, however modest, that fits your lifestyle. Regular exercise—
- Brightens your personality. After a long day at work or facing other issues, your mood and naturally sunny personality can suffer. However, a gym visit or just a long walk will clear away the clouds and restore your positive personality.
- Minimizes stress. Whether your stress is from career, budget, or health issues, regular exercise reduces this condition, stimulating beneficial chemicals in your brain and relaxing your body.