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7 Tips to Help You Get on The Road to Financial Stability

Creating a budget, saving money, and managing debt are important steps towards financial stability. I know it feels stressful to think about it sometimes, but here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Create a budget: A budget is a plan for how you will spend your money. To create a budget, start by listing your monthly income, followed by your fixed expenses, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, and insurance. Then, list your variable expenses, such as food, transportation, and entertainment. Finally, subtract your expenses from your income to determine if you have any leftover money to put towards savings or paying off debt. 
  2. Cut unnecessary expenses: Once you have a clear understanding of your spending habits, look for areas where you can cut back. For example, you can save money on groceries by meal planning and buying in bulk, or you can reduce your entertainment expenses by opting for free activities like hiking or visiting local parks.
  3. Prioritize paying off debt: High-interest debt, such as credit card debt, can be particularly damaging to your finances. To get out of debt quickly, focus on paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first, while still making minimum payments on your other debts. You can also consider transferring your debt to a credit card with a lower interest rate or negotiating with your creditors for a lower rate. There are plenty of online borrowing resources to help with this. 
  4. Start saving: Setting aside a portion of your income each month for savings is crucial to achieving your financial goals. Consider setting up automatic transfers to a savings account each month so you can save without thinking about it. You can also consider setting financial goals, such as saving for an emergency fund or a down payment on a house, to help motivate you to save more.
  5. Live within your means: Living within your means means spending less than you earn. This requires making deliberate choices about your spending habits and avoiding overspending. For instance, we spend money on so many subscriptions that are often barely used. Consider using cash for discretionary spending, as it can be easier to stick to a budget when you physically see the money you have available.
  6. Track your spending: Keeping track of your spending is an important step in creating a budget and staying on track. You can use a budgeting app or spreadsheet to track your expenses, or simply write down your purchases in a notebook. This will give you a clear understanding of your spending habits and help you identify areas where you can cut back.
  7. Seek help if necessary: If you're struggling to manage your debt or create a budget, don't be afraid to seek help. Consider speaking with a financial advisor or reaching out to a credit counseling agency. These professionals can provide valuable advice and resources to help you get back on track.

In conclusion, creating a budget, saving money, and managing debt require discipline and a commitment to making changes in your financial habits. With the right tools and support, however, you can achieve financial stability and start working towards your long-term financial goals. You can do this! 


The 3 Best Places To Raise A Family In California

California is the land of the American Dream. It’s so big and has so many opportunities that it is no wonder that people flock here from all over the world to live. There is a lot of work, salaries are generally very high and the weather is fantastic. It has everything in other words. If you have a family then it is an ideal state to want to live in. 

When looking for the ideal place to raise a family, you’ll want to narrow things down a little and find the right town and city. You will need to have access to good schools, good infrastructure, and low crime rates. Public spaces are a plus since kids need to get out of their own backyards and be around other people. Being close to nature is another perk that many parents will be looking for. In this article, we will go over some of the best places in California where you can raise a family.

1 - Glendale

Glendale is a town near Pasadena that is very popular with families. It has just about everything you would need as far as family-friendly infrastructure. For starters, Glendale is very safe and has a low crime rate. In fact, it is consistently ranked in the top ten safest cities in the US. 

The real estate in the town is very varied. There are more renters than owners in Glendale so you can find many condos available as well as single-family houses. Real estate investment companies such as TFS Properties invest in real estate to then put up for rent so if you are thinking of renting before buying to get a feel for the place then this is a good option here. 

One of the biggest benefits to living in Glendale is that it is within an easy commute of LA. If you work in LA then you can be home in time to enjoy time with the family and enjoy everything a small city has to offer after the hustle and bustle of the big city. 

The public schools are very highly rated and there are some good hospitals in the city as well. It has just about everything a family would need. There is also good access to nature just north of the city with hiking and mountain biking opportunities in the surrounding hills. 

The biggest downside to Glendale is the cost of living is very high. Those people making an LA salary will likely find it to be affordable, however. 

2 - Imperial

Imperial is a small city that is as far south as you can go in California and still be in the US. It is right above the border with Mexico. As a result, it has a very international feel. Families here enjoy a lot of diversity in the population and culture of the place which is a big advantage. 

It has another advantage of being a small city with just under 20,000 inhabitants. This makes it one of those places where everybody knows each other and is always looking out for each other. It’s still got a lot of city conveniences and is close to Chula Vista when you need a city fix. 

There is a huge winter festival that takes place every February that is very popular with people in the area and is a lot of fun for the kids. 

3 - Moorpark

Looking for a town with a sizable community of families is ideal. Moorpark has the greatest concentration of young families so it is perfect for other families looking to relocate. Schools are well funded and there is plenty for families to do there. In fact, there are 20 public parks that are used by these families all the time. 

It is a very safe community with a low crime rate and high quality of life. Being close to downtown LA is also a plus so you can commute if you work in the city. You may not need to commute to the city anyway since there are a number of high-paying jobs there which can keep you close to home and enjoy more time with your family. 


These cities have a lot going for them in terms of livability and amenities that you need to raise a family. Since your kids are only small for a short period, it makes sense to choose a place like these cities to take advantage of everything they offer to get the most out of the years while they are still little.


Teaching Your Child About Money

As a parent, you want to make sure that your child has every opportunity available to them for the future. While you may spend time discussing manners, and the importance of education, it can also be incredibly useful for them to understand how best to manage and use money, including in the distant future. Starting this as soon as possible can really help them to understand the importance of being smart with money, as well as how vital it can be to save rather than spend. 


Your child is only at the beginning of their life, so you may wonder what the point is of discussing this far into the future, but it can really help them live a full life. By instilling the need for a pension in your child, they could understand the importance of money in retirement that bit more, and may also opt to hold a private pension - for more info click here, as well as one that their company might provide, to give them a bit more financial security later on in life. One of the ways you could potentially educate them on pensions is to show them your own pension statements or accounts, as well as the amount you pay into it each month from your standard pay check. 


Having knowledge about how to budget, and what it means, can also help your child to correctly manage their money throughout their life. Alongside making your money stretch to meet your needs, these lessons can also aid them in learning to save. This can be accomplished through the use of a weekly allowance, that they could earn via chores, good behavior, and other tasks. If they then see something they wish to buy that is more than their allowance, your child must then learn to put the money aside themselves to afford it. While it can be tempting to buy the item for your child, this won’t help them to learn to become financially independent.

Resisting Impulses

Many people, adults and children alike, fall prey to temptations and impulses on a daily basis. While some may not really affect a person’s life, others can lead to serious debt, as well as potential health problems. At points, these impulses could be used as a means of reducing negative emotions, which is not a healthy coping mechanism. Equipping your child with the tools they need to avoid impulsive purchases, such as the method where you wait a few days and then, if you still want the item and it is within your means, you could permit yourself to purchase it. Impulse purchases can become a real problem if left unchecked, especially when it means that bills or rent can no longer be paid. Finding healthy ways to avoid these, as well as to manage emotions in general, can really help to prevent these consequences from occurring.

The younger a child is when they start to understand the necessity and importance of money, the more likely they may be to have respect for their finances. Keeping your child informed, and using your own finances as an example, can really go a long way towards their own future financial stability.


Take Control of Your Finances in 2021 with These Helpful Ideas

When it comes to our finances, it can feel like we’re in a vicious cycle of spending and debt. It’s not always easy to maintain our current lifestyles and more of us than ever before are stripping back on luxuries as a way to keep control of our spending and keep debt at bay. But, there must be another way to take control of your finances, right?

Managing your money doesn’t always have to mean cutting back on the things you love. Sometimes, simply revisiting your budget is an easy yet effective way to see how you can hold onto more of your money each month. If you’re someone who is really struggling with their debt and is facing potential bankruptcy, reach out to Creditfix as soon as possible to discuss your options with one of our helpful and experienced advisors. 

Why not make this new year the one you finally gain control and build your financial confidence? Read on for how you can take control of your finances in 2021. 

Create a rainy-day fund
When we’re prepared for the unexpected, we have one less thing to stress about. And the same logic applies to your finances. The more ready you are for those financial mishaps and expenses the better you’ll sleep at night. Start by creating a rainy day fund and make sure you’re including it in your monthly budget expenses. 

How much you can afford to place in your fund is up to you, just remember to add to it! Sudden car repairs, broken appliances, a job loss or change in your living circumstances could have devastating consequences for your finances, plunging you into a spiral of debt that may be difficult to get out of - a rainy day fund gives you a much-needed safety net. 

Update your knowledge 
Unfortunately, financial literacy isn't taught in schools. Which means most of us hit adulthood with little knowledge of how to create a budget, handle money, prevent debt, or apply for a mortgage etc. Updating your financial knowledge by reading articles and even listening to podcasts on certain financial subjects can give you the information you need to make better financial choices in the future.

Pay off those credit cards
Credit card debt can hang over us for months and even years, making it difficult to break the never-ending cycle of debt. By paying off your credit card debts as soon as possible, you won’t be stung by rising interest rates and only pay off what you originally borrowed. Again, reach out to Creditfix if you need further guidance.

And finally, set a savings goal
Want a new car? Or do you have dreams of owning your own home one day? Whatever your financial goals may be, the sooner you start saving for them, the better. This savings goal should be separate from your emergency fund, however, it will also provide an additional financial safety net should you need one. Don't forget to include your savings in your monthly budget. 


Financial Planning For Families Is Easier Than You Think

Do you often worry about your financial future? You are definitely not alone. Most Americans have significantly low savings while having a pretty high debt load. Being in debt can definitely keep you up at night. Don't worry, you are not alone in this! Since the pandemic started earlier this year, many people have been taking a closer look at their finances, and retirement plan

What do you do when you don't know how to even get started? 

One of the first things you can do is clean your house. How does cleaning your house help, you ask? Going through your belongings can unlock a treasure chest filled with money that you didn't realize you had. We all have extra stuff hanging around the house that we don't use, so selling those items online or at local consignment shops can put cash in your pocket pretty quickly. You can use that cash to start a family emergency savings account. This would be an account that you do not touch since it is strictly for emergencies. Having an account that your whole family can contribute to means your available balance will add up quicker.  

What do you do if you are in a lot of debt?

That is a hard and stressful time for many, but there are ways to dig yourself out of debt. You don't realize how much you spend each week on little things that you really don't need. I know I have had this habit over the years. You see what you think is this 'great deal' that you better scoop up while you can, but you really can live without it. I know, I know, you probably feel like it takes away from you enjoying life while you can. The thing is, that $10-$20 item could have been added to your monthly credit card payment or toward paying down the principal on your mortgage. 
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You are probably thinking that such a small amount isn't going to help much, but believe me, it adds up! You should really take a look at the many free resources that's out there just waiting for you to take advantage of. Getting out of financial problems is possible with a little bit of discipline and taking the time to get organized. It's especially important to be more financially conservative during these uncertain times. After all, the pandemic isn't even close to being over. Do all you can to save, save, save! 

Thank you so much for stopping by today. 

Types of Insurance You Should Buy

Life can take a turn you were less than prepared for. When you get sick or have something happen to your house or car, it can leave you in a great deal of debt. Insurance can handle these costs for you or make the payment of them more manageable for your family. Here are a few types you should consider purchasing. 

Car Insurance

Auto insurance is required by many states when you are behind the wheel at any time. This will protect you, your passengers, and your assets if you are ever in a car accident. It will also cover your automobile if it is stolen or if it is damaged by vandalism or weather. There are various types of plans that you can purchase depending on the age of your vehicle, whether you have a loan on it with the bank, and if your area requires certain coverages such as personal injury protection. 

The amount you will pay a month can fluctuate depending on your age, the members of your family, and the type of car you drive. Contact several agencies near you to ask for a quote then select the one that works in your budget and has the coverage that you need. Once you have your insurance card from your agent, place it somewhere safe in your vehicle like your glove compartment so that it is easily accessible when you need to get to it. 

Home Insurance

Whether you own your place or rent it, you need to purchase homeowner or renter’s insurance. If you lease an apartment, it can be a requirement to live there. This policy will repair your house and the items inside it if they are damaged by weather, a fire, a broken pipe inside the structure, or any malfunction that can cause problems for you. It will replace your possessions if they are stolen.  It will also take care of the expenses for someone who is injured on your property. 

If you live in an area where certain acts of nature can destroy buildings, such as floods or hurricanes, you can invest in additional plans along with your home insurance to protect you from these events. 

Health Insurance

Medical expenses can become expensive very quickly. Health insurance can absorb most of that cost in the event you or someone in your family falls sick or gets injured and must seek the care of a doctor or be admitted into the hospital. There is usually a deductible you must pay on the bill then your coverage will take care of the rest. 

Many policies will also offer dental and vision to you as well. Ask your employer if they offer health insurance to you and what you must do to qualify for it. There are many programs that can help you get low-cost medical coverage. Be aware of what your deductible is before you see the doctor and check to see if your policy covers any pre-existing conditions that you had before you signed up for it. 



Here’s How You Can Ease Stress and Improve Your Finances

Money might make the world go around, but it’s also one of the most stressful things that we need to deal with as adults. When you’re growing up as a child, you have no idea how much cash is going to affect you when you get older. Then, as soon as you start your first job, it feels like all of your time is committed to thinking about how you’re going to make your money stretch as far as possible.

The important thing to remember is that you can always find ways to reduce the amount of stress involved with managing your money. With the right attitude and a little planning, you can improve your finances and set yourself up for a brighter tomorrow. Here’s how you can get started.
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Deal with the Debt Situation

People often struggle with different relationships with debt. We know that not all debt is bad for us. Sometimes, the right personal loan can help you to accomplish an important goal, like completing your online training for a new job or getting a car to take you to and from work. However, sometimes, if you don’t know how to deal with it, debt can hold you back too.

Think about how you’re going to banish unwanted debt as quickly as possible in the months and years to come. Can you consolidate old debts into a new and more affordable loan. Maybe the debt snowball method will help you to get things sorted a little faster.

Reduce Your Grocery Spending

It seems strange that we would recommend cutting the amount of money you spend on something as essential as food. However, if you look at your monthly incoming and outgoing cash, you’re likely to be blown away by how much you actually spend on groceries. A lot of the time, the problem will be that you’re not just buying the essentials, you’re grabbing snacks that you never eat, or paying for brand-name items that are just as good as the cheaper options on the shelf.

One way to reduce you’re your grocery shopping expenses is to plan your meals each week before you go shopping. Take a good look at what you’re going to need, and don’t buy anything else – no matter how tempted you are.
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Stop Automatic Subscriptions and Memberships

Subscriptions and automatically renewing memberships are easy to sign up for, but difficult to cancel. If you’re using your subscription every week without fail, then there’s no problem with keeping it – as long as you can afford it. The problem is that a lot of us continue to pay for memberships that we’re not actually using just because we forget to cancel them.

For instance, maybe you signed up for a gym membership in January with every intention of going to workout every week. However, if you’ve only been to the gym once since then, maybe it’s time to rethink your strategy. Look through your bank statements and highlight any of the subscriptions you’re not using regularly.

Spend Your Extra Cash Wisely
Those moments when you end up with extra cash in your bank balance might be rare, but they’re also moments that you need to work out how to use to your advantage. Whenever you work overtime at work and get a bit of bonus income, think about how you can put it to good use by building up your emergency savings fund or getting rid of some of your extra debts. Putting your cash into savings as soon as you earn it might not seem like the most exciting thing that you can do, but it will help you to get rid of some of that pesky stress that you feel whenever you think about money.

As fun as buying a new computer game might seem right now, it won’t compare to the feeling of reassurance you get when something goes wrong with your home, and you remember that you have some extra cash in your emergency funds.
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Reduce Energy Costs

Saving money on your energy bills is one of the easiest way to reduce the amount of cash that you waste each month. What’s more, the process can be as simple as just making a few basic tweaks to your regular routine. For instance, you might be able to take slightly shorter showers, or washing your clothes in cold water.

Energy efficient appliances are another excellent way to save money on your electricity if you’re thinking about upgrading anyway. Consider the benefits of spending more now to save later.

Getting Back on Your Feet: 7 Tips for Getting out of Debt Fast

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Although many of us might prefer to take things one day at a time, our financial future is important. It’s not always about how much we make, but rather, how we spend and save the money we already have.

However, since the introduction of credit cards and loans, many individuals around the world have been spending not only more than they currently have in their bank account but more than what they can afford to pay back in time. In fact, just in America alone, the amount of debt Americans accumulated in 2018 hit a record of $13.21 trillion.

While the whole “buy now, pay later” approach to purchasing a product or service is something we can all take advantage of, the deeper we dig ourselves into debt, the worse the consequences. High-interest rates, a declining credit score, and heavy stress are just some of the disadvantages.

If you’re looking to get rid of your debt fast, you’ve come to the perfect source. Try some of the following tips to help get your finances back in order.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
1. Start budgeting
Not everyone with debt is bad with their finances. Regardless, it’s a good idea to put yourself on a financial budget. This way, you can ensure your income is enough to cover not just your bills but other necessities in your life including food, gasoline or other transportation costs, and other vital expenses.

To start a personal budget, you must first decide how much you spend on a monthly basis and where exactly that money goes to. From then, you can figure out what percentage of your income should go to what. Ranking your expenses from most to least important is also a wise idea to get a better understanding of your finances.

2. Try the debt snowball method
Many people have tried the debt snowball method of tackling debt and found that it works for them. It might just work for you as well. This five-step technique involves listing all of your credit card debts in terms of the amount owed and paying off the smaller debts first, especially the ones with the largest interest rates.

Over time, you’ll notice that the number of debts you have will diminish faster. On top of that, seeing how quickly these debts are diminishing will psychologically act as a motivator to get rid of those bigger, peskier debts. It’s usually not until you see this progress that you feel more encouraged to continue doing what you’re doing.

3. Downgrade your vehicle
When you’re deep in debt to the point where you can hardly keep up, one of the quickest ways to tackle such is to sell your current vehicle and then use part of that profit to purchase a cheaper, used vehicle while using the rest of the money to pay off debt.
Especially if one has a newer vehicle they’re still paying off, one might simply sell this vehicle altogether to get rid of their monthly auto payments and wait until a more financially-feasible time to consider purchasing another vehicle.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
4. Pay more than your monthly minimum on your debts
There’s no rule that says you must pay exactly your bills’ monthly minimum payments each month. In fact, there’s a reason why they’re called monthly minimums: because that’s the minimum, not the maximum, payment a lender expects you to pay by a specific due date.
However, if you currently have the cash to do so, it’s a good idea to pay more than your monthly minimum payment, even if it’s just $10 more each time. Every dollar counts and the extra you pay off adds up over time. This is an especially great tip if some of your debts are already close to being paid off.

In the end, you could end up not only getting out of debt quicker but saving more money in the long run. Meanwhile, the more you drag on paying your dues over time, the more interest you’ll end up having to pay.

5. Go through your belongings, and sell what you don’t need
As hard as it might be for some people when you have debts to pay off, chances are, you’ll be needing more money to do so. Some folks may be left with no choice but to go through their stuff and sell what they no longer want or need. Unwanted clothing, old furniture in the basement, and extra home decor are all things you might want to sell.

These items can be sold in person at garage sales, directly sold to family members or friends, may even be sold online.

6. Cut the luxury expenses
Every one of us has some sort of luxury expenses whether it be getting our nails done every few weeks or going to the movies every Friday night. Even going out to dinner versus eating on a budget at home can be considered a luxury expense.

Your job is to figure out which luxury expenses you’re paying for and deciding which are the least important. As you’re paying off your debt, temporarily cut off some of your luxury expenses, that is, until you’re financially able to get back on your feet.

7. Consider consolidating your debt
If you have a lot of debt to tackle and several different payments to make on a monthly basis, debt consolidation can be a great way to get out of debt quicker. With just one due date per month, smaller monthly payments, and a lower interest rate, debt consolidation might just be your go-to option for obtaining better finances.

Do you need help getting out of debt as soon as possible? Get help at

At some point, most of us will have to use a credit card, take out a loan, or even occasionally borrow money from family members or friends. However, there comes a point where the amount of borrowing we do starts to pose significant problems.

No matter how much debt you’ve accumulated so far, the good news is, you can start tackling it now. From creating a financial budget to considering consolidating your debt, there are numerous ways you can quickly banish your daunting debt to lead a more financially-sound life.

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An Untapped Goldmine: 5 Items You May Find Lying Around Your House That Are Worth a Small Fortune

When you’re looking to make fast money or just to do a little bit of decluttering, you might be surprised to learn that you may have an untapped goldmine in your home. That’s right, you probably have a few items lying around the house that can fetch you more than a pretty penny. Check out this list of five things you just might have that can give your income a light boost.

1. Toys
Whether you are a parent or not, there is a good chance that you have a few toys around the house. Most people who have children in their lives undoubtedly have some playthings somewhere, and if you’re lucky, you just might be able to sell them for some extra money. For instance, selling Transformers toys can be more lucrative than you think. Other options include popular movie franchise toys, vintage toys, and even happy meal toys.

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2. Clothes and Shoes

You may be surprised at just how much you can make by putting gently used clothing and shoes on consignment. There are many types of consignment shops. Growing in popularity are online based shops that sell authenticated high-end merchandise, including accessories like purses and belts. Millennials are known for being frugal, so there is quite a large demand for quality second-hand things. Vintage never really goes out of style, which means your clothes from the 1960s and 1970s can be just as popular and sought after as something more modern or high-end name brand.

3. Electronics
Electronics, old and new can prove to be very valuable. Things like calculators, cathode ray monitors, PC laptops, game consoles, cameras, VHS tapes, and VCRs can be sold for more than you think. Although many of these things may seem obsolete, there are people who break them down for parts and metals. Other people are collectors and are looking for nostalgic electronics from yesteryear. Some folk have taken excellent care of their record players, CD players, game consoles and other items and are looking for games, records or tapes to use.

4. Precious Metals
Almost everyone has jewelry that is either damaged or unwanted. You can turn your useless jewelry into cash. To make the maximum profit off of your unwanted rings, watches, necklaces and more it helps to know the current value of the precious metals you have.

5. Old Music
They say that music is a universal language. And in many respects it certainly is, which is why you can make a small or a not so small fortune on your old vinyl records, CDs, cassette tapes and 8-track tapes. With the emergence of digital music and the ability to digitally store your music, it makes a lot of sense to upload your hard copy music and sell it. This is an especially good idea if you’ve got some special editions, signed covers or otherwise notable albums.

You’ve heard the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Well, this is certainly true when it comes to some of the things you may have sitting around the house. Extra money can come in many different shapes and sizes, so when you’re combing the house for things you can offload for a profit, be sure to keep an open mind. You may be surprised at what’s right under your nose and just how much someone will be willing to pay you for it.


Teaching Your Kids About Money

Do your kids know that money doesn’t grow on trees? Here are some helpful tips for each age group.

You don’t have to wait until your kids are teenagers. You can start talking to them about the basics of money as early as preschool. Here are some tips about how to talk to your kids about money at any age:

  • From ages three to five you can teach kids that money can be exchanged for things. Explain to them the difference between pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.
  • From ages five to nine you can start giving them an allowance. This is also a good time to explain bank accounts and what it means when a bank account earns interest.
  • From ages nine to 13 you can help them open a savings account. Encourage them to save their allowance towards a goal (a new toy or a DVD). You might even consider setting up a matching savings plan like most companies do with a 401(k). This is also a good time to start talking to them about the idea of keeping a minimum balance based on the savings account requirement. You can also introduce the concept of keeping savings in case of emergency. Even though they won’t need to pay for an emergency at such a young age, you can explain the importance of keeping a nest egg.
  • From ages 13 to 15 you can expand your children’s allowance to include more expensive items like clothes or gifts for friends. This is also a good time to introduce entrepreneurship. Encourage your kids to earn their own money with jobs for neighbors and friends.  Arrange for them to have an ATM card so they can withdraw money from their savings account.
  • From ages 15 to 18 and up you can help your children open a checking account with a debit card. Teach them how to manage their account online or with mobile banking. You can even go old school and show them how to use a check register. This is also a good time to talk fiscal responsibility about when they go off to college. Be very clear about what expenses you will pay for which ones they will cover.
Explaining money management to your kids can start out with something as simple as giving them an allowance. If you talk to them regularly, teach by your own fiscally responsible example and give them the right tools, you will do more than teach them about money basics. You will instill in them a respect for earning and saving money that will hopefully set them on a path to being financially independent and responsible in adulthood.

How Having Kids Changes Your Taxes

Having a child changes everything. Your relationship with your partner, your work schedule, your sleeping patterns—there are few things a new baby doesn’t have an effect on. Many parents are prepared for the sleepless nights, the need to switch to the minivan, and the decrease in social hours with friends, but have you thought about how your new little bundle of joy will affect your taxes? While you often hear how expensive it can be to raise a child, there are also numerous tax breaks and credits to take advantage of. Keep the following facets of the tax system in mind and give your finances the boost they need, from your little one’s birth to their college days.

Use Exemptions to Your Favor

After having a child, you’re allowed to claim them as a dependent on your taxes to receive an extra exemption. This can help reduce your AGI, or adjusted gross income. The government uses your AGI to determine how much you owe, therefore, the lower your income (after exemptions), the lower your tax bill. There are limitations to this, but most can look to save thousands of dollars. Siphon those saved dollars into a college savings account and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in paying for your child’s upcoming educational career.

In the Case of Adoption

Perhaps you’re adopting a child. This process is not an inexpensive one, but the IRS recognizes these costly expenses by offering the opportunity to claim these expenses on your income taxes. Last year, any adoptions completed in 2015 allowed a federal adoption tax credit of up to a $13,400 per child. The amount you receive depends on your income. If you and your spouse make less than $291,919, you’re eligible. However, there are limitations. Because this is a tax credit, it isn’t refundable. That means you must owe the federal government some type of income tax, and you won’t be paid out the extra money left over, if any. The adopted child cannot be a stepchild, and they must be under the age of 18 or unable to take care of themselves to qualify.

Child Tax Credit

This refundable credit is designed to reduce the taxes you’re liable for, and can be awarded in amounts up to $1,000 per child. The amount of the credit awarded depends on income and the number of children living in your home. If you claim singly or as the head of the household, you’re ineligible for this credit if you make above $75,000. If you’re married, filing jointly, you must make less than $110,000 to qualify. If you’re confused about what will best work in your financial favor, speak with a professional who can help you determine your filing status.

When it Comes to College

If your child is already in college, take advantage of the American Opportunity Credit. This credit covers certain expenses associated with the first four years of college. There are regulations about how and who qualifies for this tax credit: your child must be in pursuit of a credential or a degree, and must be enrolled as a half-time student at least for tax year. They must also have no felony drug convictions on their record. For each student, the maximum credit you can procure annually is $2,500.

You should also keep the Lifetime Learning Credit in mind. This can help cover undergraduate costs for a student that does not qualify for the American Opportunity Credit, whether that be because they have a limited course load (are enrolled in school less than half-time status) or they’ve already completed their first four years of college credit. This credit can cover expenses including tuition and enrollment fees, along with books and course materials.
Child Care Credit

If you work full time and you must enroll your child in day care, most of those expenses are deductible on your income taxes. This is a nonrefundable tax credit. In order to qualify for the Child Care Credit, you must show proof of payment to a licensed childcare provider while you’re working or in search of employment. The child must be under 13 years old, and you cannot claim this credit if you’re married, but filing separately. This credit can award more than $3,000 per child per year.

The ins and outs of the tax process become more convoluted after having a child. If you’re unsure about which credits and exemptions you qualify for, don’t be afraid to talk with a professional to discover how you can get on the right financial foot- there are probably more than you think!


Tips for buying a home

Everyone dreams of owning their own home, but buying one is a lot of work. Just preparing for homeownership is a massive undertaking that can seem daunting. There are processes that you have to go through before you can even think about looking for the home you want to buy.

Budgeting and banks
First, you have to know exactly what your budget is and how much you can afford to spend. The banks will need this information before they will even think about giving you a mortgage loan, so have it all ready. The difference can sometimes help in negotiations with a seller for a better price on the home. Make sure that you are pre-approved not pre-qualified. Research diligently through different lenders as well. Make sure you get the best possible mortgage and interest rates.

Look into the area
You will have to know what you need as far as size like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, etc. You will have to take into consideration schools, transportation, and stores as well. If you prefer public transportation, you will have to make sure that you are near to the local pick up. Do you want the local stores to be close at hand? The Local Records Office can give you a lot of information about the neighborhoods you are considering, so make sure to look them up.

Contract a buyer's agent
The housing market changes constantly. Even though we are recovering from the housing crisis from a few years ago, you will want to do plenty of research. You don't have to have a real estate agent and honestly, agents work for the seller not you. However, you can contract a buyer's agent if you wish. A buyer's agent will ensure you find the house you want for a good price and actually works for you.

Look for homes
Look at a lot of homes before you make an offer for one. You want to make sure that you are getting exactly what you want and not just settling for what you think you can afford. After all if you are paying that much money to buy a home, you want to be happy in it. Likewise, don't allow an agent to push you into a house you can't really afford either. Just because you qualify for it, doesn't mean you should buy it. You could overtax yourself and that will lead to trouble later on.

Once you make an offer and it is accepted, there are several steps that have to be taken. A home inspection to check the foundation, construction, heating and cooling system, electrical etc must be done. This is important so that you and your bank know that the home is sound.

You will have to buy homeowners insurance and bring the document with you to your closing along with your down payment and another check for closing costs unless you have negotiated for the seller to pay them, you will be responsible for those.  The closing should take about an hour and when you are finished, you will be the proud owner of a home of your own.


Spring clean and turn your clutter into cash!

Did you know the average consumer has $7,000 worth of unused stuff in their home? In fact, according to an annual clothing Resale Report from thredUP, the average family has $1,318 worth of used/outgrown clothing to sell alone. That's a lot of money that can be put towards future goals for your family or even retirement.

Whatever it is you'd like to sell, below is a list of new tech services that make it truly easy to spring clean while turning that clutter into cash. Best part? You don't have to wait for someone else to buy your stuff like you do on Craigslist or eBay. Just pack up those unwanted goods, ship 'em off, and watch the cash roll in.

· online consignment to clean out children's closets and turn outgrown clothes into cash. Order a thredUP bag, fill it with kids' clothes and earn up to 40% of the resale value. thredUP consignors inspect every item and resell only the best clothes.

·  EcoATM: an automated, self-serve kiosk that quickly evaluates and buys back used consumer electronics directly from consumers for cash. It's like a magical money robot. Find an EcoATM location near you.

· sell your home furnishing directly to Chairish. Users simply submit furniture details online, and Chairish takes care of payments while insuring white glove shipping. Chairish's curation team approves every listing to ensure the best furniture quality for buyers.

· we've all heard of Cash for Gold, but there's another option for your once loved jewelry. Gold fellow will even take broken jewelry!

· type in the ISBN and Book Scouter will search all the sites that are currently paying for used books to give you a quote. It's like having a book broker!

· gift card exchange that helps you trade in gift cards you aren't planning on using, for cards you will use - or for cash.

· instruments are often pricey to ship, and you probably won't make much selling them on craigslist. UsedInstrumentBuyer gives you a quote upfront and ship it for free.

· luxury designer resale - all online. Perfect for the Louis Vuitton bag that needs a new home.

· want someone to do your spring cleaning for you? TaskRabbit helps you find local people to run your errands– like help you sell heavier stuff such as kitchen appliances or home fitness equipment in the garage on Craigslist.

· a selling portal perfect for bigger ticket items like TVs. Best part? With every item you sell, they'll make a donation to a classroom in need.

**This information was sent to me via email and I thought the resources would be valuable. 
Shelly, Mom Files

I really need to do better

Most people think I am the most organized person they know. This might be true in some areas in my life but lacks so badly in others. I have been doing a really bad job with my food/household item spending. I think from watching Extreme Couponing and seeing all of the people in the stores with monster-sized binders I have become very turned off by it all. Strange huh? Usually shows like that and seeing people save a ton of money should be motivating. It's just not the case for me. I have decided that I need to take action and maximize my dollars. I am starting with picking one day a week to do grocery shopping. I will make an organized list and use coupons accordingly. This will mean meal planning. I think I can only meal plan for up to a week. I have been noticing the popular trend of "freezer meals". I need to look into that. If I stick to that plan maybe it will keep me out the store more and save not only on impulse purchases but also fuel.

Speaking of fuel, I was startled to see that some cities have already hit the $5 and some change bracket. That scares me since I do a lot of local back and forth driving. We decided as a family that we will not be doing much dining out or even attend birthday parties of other social events that can add up. It sounds like we are being cheap but the bottom line is what the heck do you do if an emergency hits? I know that I plan on keeping my rainy day fund! I have been very free with my spending lately and I know I need to do better. I had to go on Budget Billing with our power company since the weather has been so wacky. To say that we have not had too many freezing days I still have seen so higher than normal bills. Maybe I cook too much? Wash too much? Who knows, I just figured if I publicly talk about what I need to do I might feel pressured to keep at it.

Do you have any strategies in place to keep your finances in check? Do you have any meal planning sites you can share? Thank you, I need all the help I can get!

Shelly, Mom Files

It's tax season

Well it's that less than fun time of year- tax season. We have a pretty decent system of keeping up with our paperwork throughout the year to make it easier to file. I guess there still seems to be so much else we have to gather to ensure we are getting as much money back as we can as well as being thorough. I have thought about doing our taxes ourselves but I get all scared that we will mess something up. We just go up to the same place we have for years (a mom 'n pop's spot) and just pay them to do it correctly. I have always had friends and family tell me how easy it is to do yourself but there are just some things I am not willing to mess with!

So what about you? Are you one of the brave people that does it yourself or are you a wimp like me?
Shelly, Mom Files

Run your family like a business

Our family schedules a family meeting once per month. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss everything that pertains to our household including short and long-term goals, finances, as well as needs for each person. These meetings are a forum for each family member to voice their concerns on anything and everything. Each person takes a turn to speak on a particular section of our list. These things include: A recap of the last month, personal goals and family goals for the next month/next quarter, also if you need something (supplies, haircuts etc..). I am the note keeper for the meetings and I type up the "minutes" just as any business or committee would do. At the beginning of the next meeting each person will receive a copy of these minutes almost as a road map for that meeting. These meetings have really kept us on track as a family and is essential to our growth. Now don't get me wrong, there are some months that we have to cancel or reschedule a meeting and we really get thrown off. We do our best to catch back up and take it from there. We really try to run our family like a business so that we can teach our children the importance of communication within their family. I know that the girls get so disgusted and bored with it but at least they know they are a part of a caring family unit.

Do you have any type of family meeting in your household?
Shelly, Mom Files

Simple living

I was listening/watching a segment on one of the big network news channels yesterday while I was doing a few random things in the house. The show was about Baby Boomers and there were a bunch of interviews with some of those Baby Boomers talking about life back in the 60's on into the present. Some of these older folks had lots of money and did a lot in their time. One lady said something that really made so much sense. She said something along the lines about how in this day we think we are supposed to pack up our SUV's and drive across the state just to watch a soccer game. She then went on to say, what's wrong with playing soccer in the backyard? One gentleman was making a hearty 6 figure income and has been on the job hunt for 2 years. He has come up with nothing. He was even more than happy to take a job that would pay 1/4 of his past income. Still nothing. The Baby Boomers all came to one conclusion- We need to go back to the ways of our parents. The simpler times where community togetherness matters, where kids did not have to be involved in so many different activities at once and realizing that you don't need all that "stuff" you are lead to believe you should have.

Simple living. It really is a great thing.
Shelly, Mom Files

So it's 2010

A whole new year, wow. I guess the older you get time really does fly. My daughters still say that they think time goes by so "long". I tell them just wait when they get married, have kids and bills. Time will go super fast then! There are so many things to look forward to and accomplish in the new year. Our family has decided that 2010 will be a year of conserving on many levels. We just don't know when rainy days and storms will hit so we are taking measures to be well prepared as much as we can. We have some goals and house projects we will work on and plan to get them done this year. One thing we did decide as a family is that we will be joining our local Jewish Community Center (you don't actually have to be Jewish to join). It's a beautiful facility with state-of-the-art gym equipment, track, indoor heated pool, free babysitting and a variety of amenities that are perfect for families. The sweet part of it is that it is only a 2 minute drive from our house! We are looking forward to getting in some much needed fitness time and plan to do so as a family. Here's to good health and happiness for all!!

Another amazing deal

Here are two more reasons why I will never pay full price for anything. I went to one of my favorite stores today just to look around and these items for William caught my eye. It's a stacking cup set with a bath squirty toy and a bowl and lid set for on the go snacks. The regular retail price for these items came out to $13.00.

As you can see the clearance price was way under retail.
Don't you just love it?

Well it gets even better. Not only did I get the great low clearance price but they also qualified for the store sale of buy one accessory get the second half price. I ended up spending $1.93 (tax included). It doesn't get any better than that!


Dwayne going green?

This morning I was having conversation with Dwayne over breakfast and he was telling me about a rain water recycling unit we can purchase. He explained that it is a big container that holds rain water and has valves attached with shut-off switches to route water in the direction you want it to go. I know we have had one of those tacky bright blue water barrels before but it was hard to actually collect water in it, plus it was just plain tacky looking! He then tells me that we can have the water go straight to the new garden we are making this Spring. For an investment of $90 we can water our garden for free. This really got me to thinking and I know I don't say this often but Mr. Dwayne might actually have a very smart idea! I guess we are both slowly going in the direction of really trying to conserve resources as best we can. With the way things are going with the economy I guess we all have to do what we can to save money.

Does anyone have one of these rain water recycling barrels? If so, would you recommend it? What things are you doing to encourage green living?
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