As with any bad relationship, there will be tons of warning signs if you and your bank are a couple that’s beyond repair.
When you first met your bank, it was a romance like no other. You would spend days together at a time, eating at restaurants, going on weekend trips, or even just staying in, ordering stuff off of Amazon.
But now things have cooled a bit. They don’t seem to be offering you the same rewards they used to. Their customer service representatives used to talk on the phone with you for hours, but now they seem to be rushing you to wrap it up. They also used to keep their ATM kiosk sparkling clean if they thought there was even a chance you’d be coming over, but now it seems to be constantly covered in mustard.
(Specifically mustard. No other condiment. Just mustard.)
Is it time for you to break up with your bank? It just might be. But don’t worry, honey, because Auntie OppLoans Financial Sense Blog is here to help you make that decision.
The fee’s knees.
You’ll probably never find a bank with no fees at all. That’s just hoping for too much.
But if it seems like your bank is offering more fees than usual, it can be worth looking around and seeing what other banks are offering. Overdraft fees may be standard—and they may be preferable fees for bad credit loans—but it’s not wrong to take a look at banks that offer some form of overdraft protection. You deserve to be with a bank that tries to minimize the fees you pay, rather than squeeze you for every cent you’re worth.
After all, squeezing should be something you do to your loved one’s hand as you both watch a sunset together, not a way for bank executives to get rich at your expense.
Oh and make sure you’re paying attention to their interest rates too, especially the rates on their personal loans. If you’re not getting rewarded for being a loyal customer, then it might be time to teach them a lesson by walking out the door. That’ll show them to take you for granted!
You’ve grown distant.
People change. Maybe your bank worked for you when you were younger, but your life may have changed. You could have moved to a place that doesn’t have as many locations for your bank if it has any at all.
Maybe you were still a student when you started this account and now they’re trying to stick you with an “old person” penalty. Or you could have lost a job or gotten a new one and the specific rules and incentives this bank offer simply don’t mesh well with your new financial reality.
People and banks grow apart sometimes. It might not be anyone’s fault, but it could mean it’s time for a split.
It might just be time for a change.
There might not be any specific thing or things wrong, but it’s worth taking a look at your relationship with your bank every so often.
“I think it is good to stop and review every 6 months or every year and look at the interest rates you are receiving and the perks,” advises nationally recognized credit expert Jeanne Kelly (@creditscoop). “Sometimes you can go years as a loyal customer and that is great, but still when you sit down and take the time to review what other banks might offer for rewards, they might fit your lifestyle better for today.”
Getting back on the scene.
So you decided you might want to break up with your bank. But it’s been so long since you’ve been out there! How do people even find new banks these days? Is there some sort of app where banks post pictures and information about themselves and you can swipe left or right accordingly? How about a variation on that app where only potential customers are allowed to send the first message so you don’t get inundated with messages from banks?
Not really! But the internet is still a great resource for finding which new bank is best for your needs. Many banks also offer special rewards for starting a new account, possibly even straight up cash. But make sure you’re looking at all the terms you have to sign on to. Don’t let flashy rewards right now trap you into whole new bad bank relationship.
And speaking of the internet, different banks will offer different services in their apps and online. Take a look at each of those and consider them as one part of your decision.
Also, make totally sure that your bank is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)! That’s how you can make certain that the funds you deposit are safe. Never, ever open an account with an uninsured bank, or you could risk losing everything in your account. If you aren’t sure if the bank is FDIC insured, you can check on the FDIC site.
Staying single isn’t recommended.
When it comes to banking, being single isn’t so great.
There are actually tons of folks out there who can’t even get a bank account. According to a 2015 survey by the FDIC, as many as nine million U.S. households are entirely frozen out from banking. These folks are known as “the unbanked.” They have to rely on check cashing services that charge hefty fees just so people can access the money in their paychecks.’
(If you’re worried that a bad credit score could prevent you from opening a bank account, then you’ve come to the right place. We have a blog post for that.)
Without a bank account, you could find yourself falling prey to predatory payday loans or title loans. These are a kind of no credit check loan, and they come with incredibly high interest rates and can trap borrowers into a cycle of debt.
Unless you like the feeling sleeping on top of money stuffed into your mattress, you should always maintain a bank account. We really can’t recommend the alternative.
At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you. As much as you want to avoid any awkward conversations or hurt feelings—if you let a bad relationship with your bank fester, you’ll both just end up miserable.
Are you thinking of breaking up with your bank? We want to hear from you! You can email us or you can find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Jeanne Kelly (@CreditScoop) After being turned down for a mortgage 15 years ago, Jeanne Kelly realized she needed to get her credit in order. Not only was she able to fix her bad credit, but she took the skills and knowledge she gained and decided to share it with the world. Now she’s a nationally regarded credit coach and expert, with multiple books and television appearances. Follow her on Twitter and check out JeaneKelly.net to get the credit help you need!
Financial Issues in a Marriage: How to Overcome Them
L, is for the way you look at me. O, is for overcoming financial issues in a marriage.
Making a marriage last can take effort even if both spouses are millionaires. Add in money problems, and things can get difficult fast. We’ve talked before about how one spouse’s credit could lead to problems, but that’s just one way finances can throw a wrench into a relationship.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of the kind of problems that can arise, and the methods you can use, as a couple, to overcome them. We spoke to the experts to find out why couples fight over finances, the kind of struggles that come up, and how you can beat them and make sure that love prevails in the end with these money and marriage tips.
Values, in all senses of the word.
It’s important to understand where financial struggles in marriage come from so you can try and head them off before they ever come up, or at least have a head start on addressing them.
“Most financial issues in marriage come down to one main factor: both partners have different core values about money,” certified counselor and creator of The Popular Man (@The_Popular_Man) Jonathan Bennett explained. “And, many of these financial values developed very early and are difficult to change. For example, one partner might have been raised to value saving and investing. The other partner might have been taught to indulge his or her whims even if it means living paycheck to paycheck.
“It’s very difficult for partners who view money, saving, and spending in fundamentally conflicting ways to manage household finances successfully as a team.”
Writer and speaker Frederick Towles (@mrtowles) agreed about this foundational concern: “Financial issues can most certainly affect a marriage negatively. One of the biggest financial issues that can negatively impact a marriage is how each spouse handles and views money. Each spouse may have different views of money, one spouse may primarily seek to save money for a rainy day and another could have a spending fetish. This type of conflict will typically raise trust issues in the relationship. The difference in philosophies in money can spill over into other areas of the relationship if both spouses aren’t careful.”
Couples may even have differing ideas about who the money they have belongs to. “Some spouses freely pool their money and treat it as a joint asset,” Steven Yoda, a partner with the divorce firm Walzer Melcher (@LAfamlaw), told us. “Other spouses, rightly or wrongly, consider their earnings ‘their’ money and split expenses down the middle. Some spouses are comfortable with debt, while others are averse to it.
“Oftentimes, these issues are not fully discussed before marriage or even after marriage. This can lead to years of misunderstanding, which reach a boiling point during a divorce. It is easy to see how, in the absence of communication, one spouse may believe that the marital finances are perfectly fine, while the other may be stewing in resentment.”
Taking credit (into account).
As we mentioned above, credit can also be a source of strife. But we’ll let Yoda explain it thoroughly:
“A very practical and important issue to probe is credit. Ideally, this issue should be discussed before marriage. It can be an awkward subject to raise, but it is valuable information. First, knowing your partner’s credit score provides some insight into your partner’s past financial decisions. As indicated, money is a common source of stress in a marriage, so it is helpful to know how your partner has handled money in the past.
“Second, and perhaps more importantly, although your partner’s credit score will not affect your personal credit score per se, it still may affect access to credit after marriage. If your credit score is great but your spouse’s credit score is poor, the act of marriage will have no impact on them.
“If, however, after marriage, you two jointly apply for a credit card or a loan to purchase a house or car, the lender will consider both credit scores and, chances are, the poor credit score will result in higher interest rates and fees than if both credit scores were high. This is a tangible, real-world expense that may come as a shock to the spouse with good credit. It is easy to see how resentment might build. The best approach is to openly discuss these issues upfront so everyone knows what to expect.”
So how can you reconcile these financial issues in your marriage?
Skip the blame game.
Pride can often cause trouble in relationships. When money is involved, “losing” an argument feels like a blow to your wallet as well as your pride.
“Many partners, rather than working together, start to place blame on the other person,” warned Bennett. “This creates discord and resentment in the relationship. But, even if both partners try to work together, financial strain can create additional stress. Worries over bill payments, collectors, and repossessions/evictions overshadow positive aspects of a married life together.”
Avoiding the blame game won’t instantly fix all of your problems, but it’ll be impossible to fix anything if you’re at each other’s throats.
Start early… way early.
As Yoda made clear, the best way to deal with financial issues is to try and head them off before they even come up. And he isn’t the only one who told us that.
“While counseling and compromise can certainly help couples solve existing money problems, the best solution is to focus more on money matters before marriage,” advised Bennett. “Financial compatibility is rarely discussed before a couple makes a long-term commitment. However, given the statistics about money issues in a marriage and divorce, determining financial compatibility should play a much more important role, perhaps even in premarital counseling and preparation.”
But what if you’re already married?
Communication, communication … communication.
Communication is one of the most important parts of any relationship and communication about money is one of the most important kinds of communication, even if it might be one of the most awkward.
“Yes, absolutely money issues add stress to your marriage,” Maggie Reyes, marriage mentor and life coach at ModernMarried.com (@ModernMarried), told us. “To minimize and prevent those issues from becoming bigger problems in your relationship it is important to start with the simple act of having conversations about money. Understanding each other’s priorities and how and why you spend before major expenses are made can help you plan for them as a team instead of being on opposing sides of a money argument.”
Reyes offered us a list of good questions to ask, both when you want to break the ice on a conversation about finances, and when you’re getting down to business:
“If money is already a stressful topic in your relationship, it is sometimes easier to start with the fun side of money, here are some conversation starters you can use:
If I could do anything with my money, I would….
If money were no object I would…..
If I could use money to do something fabulous for my partner, I would…
If I could splurge on one thing, I would…
My biggest dream is….
“Once you have identified some money wishes, you can take a look at your current money reality – what is happening right now?
“And ask questions such as;
Am I keeping track of my money? Do I know how much I have in my wallet right now? In my bank account?
Do I know how much I owe? The total, for real of anything outstanding (house, credit card, car?)
Do I know how our joint funds are handled? Why or why not?
Do I know our bank account numbers and have access to all of our accounts?
What do I need to know today to be able to fully manage my money?
If I could change one thing about the way I handle money, it would be….
“Having regular conversations about money and making plans on how to use it and manage it helps you avoid having big arguments about money by allowing you to bring up ideas and plans before they are critical. Understanding that you and your partner are likely to have different ideas on how to approach anything, including money, and then making that okay before an argument arises, takes the emotional punch out of the disagreement.”
Cherie Lowe (@Thequeenoffree), author of Slaying the Debt Dragon and blogger at Queen of Free, also emphasized the importance of good communication: “The short answer is that money problems rank among the top reasons why married couples call it quits. In particular, we’ve focused in on how financial issues in a marriage lead to problems with intimacy in our next book. Ever have a hot steamy night of passion after your last money fight with your spouse? Um, no. The problems feed each other and eventually cause a lack of togetherness and paralyze relationships.
“To overcome or prevent financial fights couples need to focus in on effective communication when it comes to money, shared vision for goals, a well-delineated division of labor within in the home, and keeping their finances well organized.”
Many couples find it difficult to talk about money, but if you don’t, there’ll only be more troubles down the line. Better to speak early and often, and enjoy the priceless treasure that is your marriage.
How have you and your spouse handled financial issues in your marriage? We want to hear your stories! You can email us or you can find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Jonathan Bennett (@The_Popular_Man) is an internationally recognized dating, relationship, and life coach based out of the Columbus, Ohio metro area, where he consults, speaks, and offers classes. With a background in counseling and education, his coaching method emphasizes scientifically backed skills to take charge of your life to find personal freedom and success in all relationships. He is the author of 7 books and is frequently quoted in print and other media.
Cherie Lowe is a personal finance blogger at Queen of Free (@Thequeenoffree) and author of the book Slaying the Debt Dragon, her story of paying off over $127K in debt. She loves nothing more than helping people find freedom in their finances, save money, and live life to its fullest. Her and her husband Brian are finishing the final round of edits on our their book: Your Money, Your Marriage: The Secrets to Smart Finance, Spicy Romance, and their Intimate Connection due out September 2018 from Zondervan (Harper Collins Christian).
Maggie Reyes is A Life Coach, Writer and the feisty voice behind ModernMarried.com (@ModernMarried).
Frederick Towles (@mrtowles) is an entrepreneur, author and professional coach on personal finance, recognizing, seizing and leveraging opportunities of all kinds. Frederick founded The Towles Group Inc. to address issues that relate to small businesses and individuals – accounting, taxation, asset protection, financial compliance, wealth creation, debt management and business management. He also founded Unlimited Expectations Inc. which provides tools for individuals to assist them in the areas of opportunity recognition, leadership, and personal finance. Through the tools and services offered by these companies, people are positioned to operate their lives and their businesses at optimal capacity.
Steven Yoda is a partner with the Los Angeles divorce law firm Walzer Melcher (@LAfamlaw).
12 Jobs That Pay Over $50,000, No College Degree Required
No college degree? No problem for these career paths.
While paying for college can leave you with a mountain of debt, looking for a job with no college degree comes with a host of troubles too. Tons of jobs require those degrees right off the bat, which can drastically narrow your search before you’ve even begun.
And many of the jobs that are left over don’t pay nearly as well. Working a low-paying job while trying to support a family is exactly the kind of thing that leaves you vulnerable to predatory bad credit loans and title loans.
Luckily, this isn’t true in all cases. If you only have a high school diploma, there are many jobs you can get that that still pay pretty well! That’s why looked through the latest info from the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics and picked out 12 primo jobs—all with average annual salaries above $50,000—that don’t require a college degree.
While this job doesn’t require a high school diploma, it will require an apprenticeship. In 35 states, you’ll also need to be licensed. But if you can get the gig, you’ll be bringing in a very nice wage! The Bureau predicts that this field will grow 13 percent between 2014 and 2024. It’s not like we could have cities (or any tall buildings) without elevators, right?
This field includes inspectors for both freight and passenger transportation. Odds are you’ll be working in the rail or auto repair industry or for a branch of the government. Sure, this a job that can come with serious consequences if you screw up, but with an average annual wage in the low 70’s, it’s worth it.
No this doesn’t mean managing a Game Stop or a D&D store. It means working in the gambling industry. While this is a job you might have to work up to—climbing through the ranks—it’s not like the gambling industry’s going to go anywhere. Even with the advent of internet gambling, there’s something about casinos (the stale smell of sadness and cigarettes) that just can’t be beat.
We’re based in Chicago, which has a pretty fantastic public transportation system, so trust us when we tell you that cities literally could not function without people working these jobs. Sadly, unless there’s a huge boom in local rail construction, these jobs will continue to be less widely available than many of the other ones on this list.
This is a great job for someone who doesn’t want to sit around an office all day, as these folks are often going out and inspecting prospective claims. Higher-up positions might require a bachelor’s degree.
While the Bureau doesn’t predict a ton of growth for these roles (3% from 2014 to 2024), there will always be a market for them. People will keep screwing up and/or trying to pull a fast one. It’s what we do!
Until we can make buildings that warm themselves, boiler’s ain’t going nowhere. This is another job that usually requires an apprenticeship program (and it helps if you some prior welding) experience. Plus, the work itself can be difficult and dangerous, and you can find yourself working away from home for months at a time. If you want a job where you can earn a great wage working with your hands, then check it out.
This is a good job for someone who’s been working construction for a while, as industry experience is a big plus—bordering on a “must-have.” Its availability is tied to the construction industry (more building built = more buildings being inspected) and the Bureau predicts that it’ll grow 8 percent through 2024.
In general, getting a job at the post office is a great idea if you’re looking for a solid job that doesn’t require a college degree. Post office clerks are based in the post-office itself, which means that the job has a heavy customer service aspect to it.
If you’re into something a little more outdoorsy—and like dogs—then being a mail carrier might be a better fit.
By this point, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of these jobs are related to construction. That’s not surprising! A lot of these jobs require hard work, experience, and knowledge—just not the kind you’ll get with a bachelor’s degree!
Becoming an electrician requires an apprenticeship—and always carries the risk of getting shocked—but it’s a great job with a bright (pun intended) future. And if you’re sneaky, like this basketball-obsessed electrician, you can leave your mark on a building for years to come.
We cannot stress this enough: If you are afraid of heights, this is not the job for you. And remember that “risk of being shocked” that we mentioned with electricians? Yeah, that’s also a huge risk here. Being a line worker is a good job it’s just not necessarily the safest. It requires extensive on-the-job training and/or an apprenticeship.
Ah, yes. Sales. The world’s second-oldest profession. There are a wide array of sales positions out there, from Best Buy to IBM to Glengarry Glen Ross. These positions can be tough, with a high turnover and a lot of sketchy employers, but they represent a fantastic opportunity for someone who has a knack for it—college degree not required. Just remember your ABCs: Always Be Closing.
This is a job that you probably haven’t considered, but it’s definitely one that you should look into. As a hearing aid specialist you will administer hearing tests, take ear impressions, design ear molds, and other duties related to hearing aids.
As the U.S. population ages over the next couple decades, this demand for this job is only going to increase. That’s probably why the Bureau predicts a 27 percent rise in hearing aid specialists positions by 2024.
Have you had experience searching for a job without a college degree? We want to hear what that’s been like for you! You can email usor you can find us on Twitter at @Opploans.
Teaching Your Children How to Use Credit and Debt Responsibly
Teaching your kids how to handle money is one of the most important things you can do to prepare them for adult life and responsibilities.
As a parent or guardian, you have the heavy responsibility of preparing your child for the big world outside the home. You have to show them the things they should put in their mouth and the far larger number of things they shouldn’t. It’s up to you to teach them the danger that strangers can present. And you’ll be the one to teach them about finance, especially about credit and debt.
There’s a decent chance they won’t learn about these topics in school, and it’s knowledge they’ll need for their adult life. Without it, they might themselves buried with payday loans, trapped in a never-ending cycle of high-interest debt.
As Paul Vasey, founder of CashCrunch Games (@CashCrunchGames), told us: “Money habits are useful at any age and are basically the same whether you are 7, 17, or 70. Therefore, the earlier you learn something, the better you are at grasping your money and making smarter decisions.”
So how can you teach it to them? We’ve spoken to Vasey and other experts to learn exactly that. Read on, and educate yourself on how to best educate others.
(Oh, and by the way, if you’re looking for some financial education on the go, check out OppU—OppLoans’ free and easy online personal finance curriculum.)
Set your curriculum
Before you can start teaching your kids about finances, you have to know what you need to teach them. Other than “it’s good to have it,” what should you be teaching your kids about credit?
Identifying Needs vs Wants – It is important that children learn the difference between wants and needs. Children should be taught to think and identify if what they are looking to buy is a need or a want, and if the purchasing can be postponed for when the money is available. As part of this process, children can be encouraged to assess their financial goals to determine if they are realistic, achievable, and worthwhile.
Save and Plan – Children should learn how to keep track of their spending so they can plan their financial future. If your child has a job, explain the importance of putting a portion of the check into a savings account. Working age children should learn how to choose a bank and prepare for their financial future.
“The Value of the Dollar – It is important that children learn the core concepts about money and finances early on. Children should be introduced to the concept of money during preschool. Learning about money can be fun. Take advantage of casual trips to the grocery store as an opportunity to introduce new money concepts.
How to Budget – Budgeting is key. Children must know that they cannot buy everything when they want it. They must plan out how they can save the money to make the purchase without causing a financial disaster. Parents can introduce a budgeting worksheet that shows income and expenses so they can learn what money is being earned and spent.”
The basics of credit and debt
Natasha Rachel Smith, financial expert at TopCashBack (@TopCashBackUSA), told us what you should tell your kids about credit cards and debt:
“Teach your kids while they are young that credit cards aren’t just magical pieces of plastic that pay for things. Credit cards have due dates and, if you misunderstand the rules, you can be penalized by having to pay more money.
“My parents also stressed the importance of good debt versus bad debt. It is OK to accrue debt when it is good debt. Investing into a mortgage – provided the property was purchased at a reasonable, affordable price – is good debt. Where you can account for precisely and exactly where the money was spent is usually good debt. Frivolous spending is bad debt. Do not buy things you simply want, focus on the things you need alongside sometimes treating yourself to the items you want.”
Personal finance expert and motivational speaker Debbi King (@DebbiKing) offered her own take on what you should teach kids when it comes to debt and credit: “The first thing to let them know is that if they make positive financial decisions, their credit report will reflect that. Your credit score is your financial reputation. It shows others how you handle money.
“Then you need to make sure they know the difference between debt and credit. You can build credit without ever going into debt. For example, you can have a credit card and no debt as long as you pay it in full every month. Debt is owing more than you have. And credit is a form of payment. The best possible thing you can ever do for your finances is to build credit without debt. I know people who take out auto loans even though they have the money in the bank. They use the bank’s money at, say, 4% instead of using their money at an investment rate of 10%. Just because they have an auto loan doesn’t mean they are in debt. They have the money to pay the bill at any time that they choose.
“I would also suggest teaching your kids what makes up their credit report and how their decisions affect their score. Use a free website such as Credit Karma to look at this information. It will not only give you a free credit score, it will break down each category and how you fare in each one. Knowledge is power. You can also use this site or www.annualcreditreport.com to look at your credit report to find errors which can be disputed and help your score.”
Teach by example
“I learned about credit the hard way,” Michael Doane (@medoane) writer and marketing expert with CadmiumCD (@cadmiumcd), told us. “After college, I ate ramen every night for a year so I could put every penny to pay off my student loans. I lived in a basement with a cement floor and drove a car that barely ran. To me, the money I was making wasn’t mine, it was my creditors.
“It took about 15 months, but I eventually paid off my loans. I kept at it, living in the same conditions, until I had a decent chunk of change saved up to buy a house. The thing is, I didn’t have a credit card during that time and eventually my credit score dropped off entirely. I didn’t realize it until my then-girlfriend (now-wife) and I went to purchase a home. They told me I couldn’t get the loan because I essentially couldn’t prove my worth as a debtor. All my tradelines had disappeared.
“So, I had to start from the bottom — someone who valued paying off their loans far ahead of schedule, someone who proved that they had what it took to take and pay off a loan. 5 years later I have great credit (780+) simply buying gas every month on a single card and paying it off. I have a home with a very small mortgage for what it’s worth, and a car that’s paid off.
“My case is pretty radical, but I watched my parents lose everything during the recession and I told myself I’d never go through that again. I’d never put other people that depend on me through that.
“The point is, good or bad, your kids will learn through the example you set. Might as well set a good example and teach them through experience rather than observation.”
April Lewis-Parks, Director of Education for Consolidated Credit (@ConsolidatedUS) also emphasized the importance of setting a good example:
It’s important to remember that no matter how old your children are that being a financial role model is an important part of parenting. Setting a good example can help kids be successful with their money. Here are three tips I recommend:
Don’t get swamped with credit card debt. Taking on too much credit card debt can lead to financial difficulty. You’ll be damaging your own finances and your children could be more likely to take on debt in the future because they saw their parents do it. To avoid credit card debt, make sure you practice the best credit card behavior – i.e. always paying on time – and teach the same things to your children.
Allow your children to learn from your mistakes. While you may feel as though hiding your financial mistakes from your children is a good idea, it is better to let them learn from them so they don’t make the same mistakes when they are older, according to U.S. News & World Report. For example, if you find yourself falling short on some bills due to overspending, be sure to let your children know, as it could be useful information for them once they are in charge of their own finances.
Sit down and talk with your child about money. Sometimes, a simple talk goes a long way in helping them. Many teenagers feel as though their parents don’t talk to them enough about budgeting and money, so don’t be afraid to sit your child down and have the talk. Be sure to touch on topics such as savings and long-term planning to help set your child up for a successful financial future.
Use real world experiences
At the end of the day, there’s nothing better than learning first-hand. You might have to toss your kids into the deep end of the financial pool so they can learn to swim.
(Editor’s note: DO NOT ACTUALLY TOSS KIDS WHO CAN’T SWIM INTO POOLS.)
“The reason I had strong financial discipline was because my mom let me fail with money at a young age,” explained Phil Risher, founder of the Young Adult Survival Guide (@yasurvivalguide).
“When I was 16 she gave me a debit card and would load $100 each month so I did not have to ask her for money. One day I was out to eat with my friends and my card was declined. Talk about embarrassing. I came home and complained that the card did not work. We looked up the balance, and I had overdrafted the account.
“This was a life lesson that I am glad I made in my teens when I did not have any real bills because I started to learn how to use self-control with money.”
“Part of financial education for kids is helping them understand the value of a dollar,” Ross told us. “The best way to do this is for them to earn their own money and learn money management skills through practice. Some parents choose to do this through allowance, while others have their children earn money outside of the house. You can also do a combination of both. Consider helping kids divide earnings into threes – one part for saving, one part for spending, and one part for a charity of their choice. This shows kids the valuable skill of saving and the importance of charity.”
Baby’s first credit history
Ross offers a guide for helping your kids build their own credit history:
“Building a credit history is important. A consumer’s credit history can affect their insurance, ability to rent an apartment, get a job, or get a cell phone plan. Credit history is needed to get all types of loans, from mortgages to department store cards.”
“To start building a positive credit history, individuals should acquire and positively manage small lines of credit. The following are credit options for individuals who need to begin building a positive credit history:
Make a child an authorized user on a parent’s card.
Co-sign a credit card with your child. Co-signers on an account are equally responsible for the loan. Therefore, the loan is on their credit report as well, making a positive or negative impact depending on how the credit is managed.
Have your children open a secured card. Secured cards and loans typically require a cash or collateral security deposit to ensure payment of the debt. The larger the security deposit or collateral, the higher the credit limit granted. The cash security deposit is returned when you close the account with the balance fully paid back
Have your child establish a checking & savings account to build a good banking history.
Make small purchases and pay off balances monthly (Do not apply for too many cards at once).”
If your kid is able to build a maintain a good credit history, this will mean steering clear of bad credit loans and lowers their chances of encountering a predatory lender. While it is definitely possible to fix a damaged credit history, avoiding one in the first place is always the better option.
Start small with household chores
As has been the case for a decade, chores can be something of a “starter job,” as Smith advised:
“Start off simple with weekly chores. Pay your children based on chores they do around the house. Once they understand that money is earned, not given, you can start separating it into jars–one for saving and one for spending. It is important kids learn the fundamentals of saving vs. spending early on so understand saving is a normal thing to do.”
Vasey also suggests putting money into kids hands to practice with:
“If a parent buys them something, the child can work off their debt by doing extra chores and meeting certain expectations. For example keeping their room tidy, cutting the grass, washing the car etc. That, to them, would be working off debt.
“Parents can agree to ‘loan them money in advance’ if it is needed. This allows the child to understand that they have the money available to use if it is needed, but they need to be prepared to work the debt off. This can apply for nearly every trip to the shops, the latest product, or even as gas money for when they want to be driven around.”
Michael Doane (@medoane) is an author and marketing strategist who learned how to manage money the hard way during his formative years in college at the University of Maryland. In his spare time he reads, hikes, and writes novels about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. He currently lives in Jarrettsville, MD, with his wife and 3 pets. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Debbi King (@DebbiKing) is a personal finance expert, motivational speaker, and the author of two award winning books, “The ABC’s of Personal Finance” and “26 Weeks to Wealth and Financial Freedom”. She is also the host of a weekly radio show, “The ABC’s of Personal Finance”. Debbi has been featured in numerous media outlets empowering others to win in the area of money. In addition to her work, she is the founder and President of Lovell Ministries and is happily married with a beautiful 19 year old daughter, 4 step children and 5 wonderful granddaughters.
April Lewis Parks. Prior to joining Consolidated Credit(@ConsolidatedUS) Ms. Lewis-Parks was the public relations manager for a Boston based event firm and before that, she was employed by John Hancock Financial Services, Inc. where she counseled employees on 401K and IRA accounts. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Phil Risher is the founder of YoungAdultSurvivalGuide.com(@yasurvivalguide). Phil paid off $30,000 in student loans in 12 months making 48k. After, he saved up and bought his first place with cash at the age of 25. Phil now speaks with college students and young adults around the country about his 5-Step Guide to help them on their financial journey.
Katie Ross joined the American Consumer Credit Counseling (@talkcentsblog) management team in ’02 and is currently responsible for organizing and implementing high-performance development initiatives designed to increase consumer financial awareness. Ms. Ross’s main focus is to conceptualize the creative strategic programming for ACCC’s client base and national base to ensure a maximum level of educational programs that support and cultivate ACCC’s organization.
Natasha Rachel Smith is a personal finance expert at TopCashback.com (@topcashbackusa). Natasha’s background is in retail, banking, personal finance and consumer empowerment; ranging from sales to journalism, marketing, public relations and spokesperson work during a 17-year career period. She’s originally from London, UK, but moved to Montclair, New Jersey, USA, several years ago to launch and run the American arm of the British-owned TopCashback brand; a global consumer empowerment and money-saving portal company.
Paul Vasey is the founder of CashCrunch Games (@CashCrunchGames). Originally from the UK, he taught Business Studies for 12 years, and holds a Business Education Degree from Nottingham Trent University. Since deciding to leave the classroom and start walking the walk, Paul has dedicated his time and energy to teaching personal finance concepts to kids and teens through active, engaged gameplay. He currently lives in California and is affiliated with Centsai.com.
Six Personal Finance Forums You Should Join Today
You can comb through Google search results all you like looking for the perfect answer to your financial query, but sometimes it’s better to just ask another person.
And if there’s no one in your life who has the answers, no worries, you can just join a personal finance forum online and ask the people there!
Plus, who knows, you might end up having the perfect answer to someone else’s personal finance question.
If you’re looking for an online personal finance forum, here are six that can’t be beaten.
Get Rich Slowly Forum
If you need some classic personal finance advice or inspiration, then check out the Get Rich Slowly Forum (@getrichslowly). You’ll find general discussions about finance, success stories, and even a personal development section focusing on self-improvement and success strategies for everyday life.
The myFICO Forum (@myfico) is a great resource for anyone looking for information about credit scores, or anything else personal finance-related. This forum covers a wide range of topics from mortgages and auto loans to rebuilding your credit and advice on bankruptcy. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, check out the myFICO blog!
The The BiggerPockets Forum (@BiggerPockets) has over 12,000 posts and over 1,000 discussions about all things personal finance. According to BiggerPockets, “The personal finance forum is for the discussion of issues revolving around personal finance, including other non-real estate investments such as stocks, budgeting, credit, bankruptcy, saving, and retirement.”
If you’re familiar with YNAB (@ynab), then you know that it stands for You Need A Budget, and it’s a popular budgeting tool used by many. What you may not know is that they also have a great forum to help answer any questions you might have about budgeting and finance!
For anyone looking to learn a little bit more about investing, the Bogleheads Forum may be for you. Based on the teachings of Vanguard founder John Bogle, topics are geared toward teaching investing strategies and concepts, but they also offer a forum for general personal finance questions as well. If you’re new to investing, or even just considering getting started, check out the Bogleheads Forum.
The FatWallet Forum (@fatwallet) covers a multitude of topics. Basically, if it has anything to do with money or affects your wallet, you’ll probably get an answer in the FatWallet Forum. You’ll find advice on what credit card to get, the best mortgage rates from reputable lenders, and good 401k plans.
What personal finance forums do you use? You can send us an email by clicking here or you can let us know on Twitter at @OppLoans!
Six Personal Finance Podcasts You Should Listen To Right Now
You’re busy. You’re always on the go. You want financial advice but you don’t have time to read (with the exception of this article). That’s where podcasts come in! We’ve gathered some of the best personal finance podcasts so you can gain money wisdom on the go.
Planet Money (@planetmoney) is a twice-weekly podcast produced by NPR. If you have questions about money, and specifically how the economy works, then this is a great place to start. Here’s how they describe the podcast on their site: “Imagine you could call up a friend and say, ‘Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.’ Now imagine that’s actually a fun evening. That’s what we’re going for at Planet Money.”
Quick and Dirty Tips
Quick and Dirty Tips (@quickdirtytips) is a podcast network and website that offers just that: quick and dirty tips for financial success, time management, and other aspects of everyday life. Check it out for some great advice on becoming more successful in your career and in life.
Listen Money Matters
Listen Money Matters (@MoneyMattersMan) is described as a podcast for all things money and for building better habits. The podcast, started by Andrew Fiebert, spends a majority of its time focused on the four big tenets of personal finance: budgeting, investing, paying off debt, and income growth.
Joe Saul-Sehy started the Stacking Benjamins Podcast (@SBenjaminsCast) after being a financial planner and giving money advice on the radio for 15 years. On the podcast, he interviews people who have conquered tremendous amounts of debt or have had success accumulating wealth. The personal stories make for great money advice!
You Need A Budget
You Need A Budget (@ynab) is a budgeting app and podcast that zeroes in on the topic of budgeting. They’ll cover rules of budgeting, as well as interview people on a number of topics like student debt. If you need a little help understanding and planning your personal budget, then you’d be wise to subscribe to this podcast!
This is a podcast that covers many different aspects of personal finance, such as economics, living debt free, entrepreneurship, and living a minimalist life. You’ll hear interviews with personal finance experts, and hopefully learn how to save some money in the process! Give them a follow at @ConsumerismComm for updates on their latest episodes and for the great articles they publish on the Consumer Commentary website.
What’s your favorite personal finance podcast? Give us a ring over at @OppLoans on Twitter!
Budget Friendly Wedding Planning to Avoid Bad Credit
Your wedding is one of the most special days of your life. It could easily be one of the most expensive days of your life as well. You want to spend everything you have to make it feel like a dream you’ll never wake up from.
But you are going to wake up the next day and you don’t want to wake up with the kind of debt that comes from spending everything you have. That’s a recipe for the kind of bad credit that will haunt you for the rest of your new married life. Not a great way to start out.
Thankfully, you can have the most special day without burning through your entire future. We spoke to the matrimony masters to get you the tips you need to make sure the only tears at the reception are happy ones.
Budget and communicate.
The most important part of planning any wedding is communicating with your partner, and that’s all the more important when you’re working on a tight budget. You might not be able to get exactly everything you’d like in the dream wedding “infinite money” scenario, so it’s vital that you both figure out what the absolute essentials are.
“Determine who is paying for what and how much wedding you can afford. Communication is key! So, how should you approach the topic? Here are some guidelines to help you and your families determine an initial budget: Ask both parents to commit to a specific dollar amount or a particular aspect of the wedding such as the ceremony, decor, honeymoon or catering. Then add up all the contributions and determine the amount you and your fiancé will need to contribute to make up the difference.
“Create a detailed accountability spreadsheet that includes all your expected wedding expenses. Once you’ve pulled your wedding funds together, you’ll want to track your spending. Here’s a basic breakdown of what you can expect to pay: reception, ceremony, attire, floral arrangements, entertainment, photography/videography, stationary, transportation, gifts, wedding cake, honeymoon, and miscellaneous. It’s also a good idea to add a small cushion of about five percent to your budget to cover any unplanned expenses.”
“Put money towards what’s important to you. Each couple will have specific wedding elements that are more essential to them. Some couples want a delicious menu, while others are all about the band. Discuss what elements are important to you and put more money towards those vendors and details. WeddingWire’s Budget Tracker is a great tool and guideline to help you create the budget for your wedding in addition to helping you track your spending, set up payment schedules, and redistribute and organize funds.
“Keep a cushion in place. There are always last minute purchases that brides and grooms may not think of when allocating their budget initially, such as the cost of the bride’s mani and pedi or ribbons to tie the favors or white umbrellas if the forecast calls for rain the day of the wedding. Make sure to leave at least $500 to $1,000 for last minute purchases so they don’t catch you off guard.
“Don’t forget incidentals. Some purchases and vendors come with a flat fee, but there may be “accessories” that are charged separately. For example, you may pay your stationer for the invitations but then you have to pay for postage at the post office. Or the baker may supply the wedding cake but not the topper. When working with each vendor, draft a list of all the related items that they will be able to supply, as well as what you’re expected to purchase separately.”
Chertoff was also able to offer some more specific wedding wisdom.
Make the special day a special weekday.
The most convenient time to do anything, at least in the America, tends to be on the weekend. That includes weddings, but with weekend weddings in such high demand, you might have to sell your soul or something of equal value to get one.
Chertoff strongly recommends saving yourself money with a less popular wedding time: “Saving a lot of money on your wedding day can be as simple as just picking the right day. Avoid the spring and fall, and if you can, pick a date in January or February which are typically the least expensive months. And if that’s not a possibility, avoid getting married on a Saturday night—having a Friday and Sunday wedding can save you a bundle.”
Max Robinson, a photographer for Scotland Shop (@ScotlandShop), agreed about the need for flexible planning: “Although it might make it easier for friends and family to attend your wedding if it’s held at the weekend, you’ll save huge amounts of money if you have the wedding mid-week. Venues will generally charge much more for weekend events because they’ve usually had to turn down other offers, whereas fewer people want to hire a venue during the week which reduces the cost significantly. Even holding the wedding on a Friday could save huge amounts, and people will still be able to drink and stay out late!”
Have you ever looked up how much wedding flowers cost? No? Well, take a guess… NOPE. It’s more than that. We don’t know what you guessed, but we know it’s more than that.
Thankfully, Chertoff offered some tips for saving on the blooms:
“Choose seasonal flowers. Flowers that are in season typically cost less. Your florist is the expert—talk to him or her about which flowers will be least expensive at the time of year when you’re getting married.
“Mix with non-floral elements. Use candles, greenery and other non-floral elements, like seashells or fruit to decorate your ceremony and reception. These elements can make a big décor statement with little added cost.
“Try ‘nontraditional’ blooms. Baby’s breath and carnations are just two examples of inexpensive flowers that can look unique and modern when grouped together in floral arrangements.
“Reuse and recycle. Use flowers from your ceremony to decorate your reception. Bouquets can decorate your cake table, altar arrangements can look lovely on the escort card or buffet table, and aisle markers can be repurposed into small centerpieces for reception tables. Another idea is to consider using vessels that you already own, rather than renting them from your florist.
“Choose a naturally beautiful venue. Venues like gardens and beaches are already stunningly beautiful and don’t need as much added decoration. When looking for a wedding venue, think about how much decoration it will need on your wedding day.”
Eat, drink, and be frugal.
You might be too nervous to eat or drink too much, but your guests will probably be expecting a decent spread. And you can provide them with one and avoid financial ruin.
“Never assume a buffet will be cheaper,” Chertoff warns. “Some people think it will be but that’s not always the case. Once you know what you want to serve ask your caterer the least expensive way to serve it: plated, family style or buffet. Sometimes a buffet can be the same or almost the same cost as a plated meal because you have to have enough for everyone to get at least one and possibly two servings, and you still need a staff to work the buffet and clear tables.”
As with the date of the wedding, Chertoff also suggests timing can help you save: “Skip dinner. A brunch, luncheon or even cocktail style menus will be more affordable than a traditional dinner menu. Since catering is the most expensive part of the wedding, consider a daytime or cocktail-style reception to cut down on catering costs.”
And when it comes to booze? “Don’t go overboard on alcohol,” Chertoff cautions. Instead of offering a full, top-shelf bar, serve wine, beer, and a signature cocktail. It’s a major cost-saving move and your guests likely won’t mind. And if you have a relative or friend who simply must have a certain type of liquor, then you can have a single bottle available for him or her—just don’t overdo it.”
But there’s one thing everyone looks out for at any wedding. Here’s what Chertoff suggests when it comes to the cake:
“Choose a simple Design. Consider a simple, clean and streamlined design—avoid crazy shapes and intricate designs. The less labor-intensive your cake design is, the better for your budget. Be upfront and honest with your cake baker about your budget, and let him or her create a design that will work for both your price point and your style.
“Go Small. Even if you’re having a lot of guests, your cake doesn’t have to be an eight-tier tower. Regardless of your guest count, keep your wedding cake small and ask your baker to create sheet cake to serve, rather than display.
“Decorate your wedding cake with fresh flowers rather than intricate sugar blossoms. Again, creating sugar flowers can be quite labor-intensive—and fresh flowers can be just as pretty.
“Ice your wedding cake with buttercream rather than fondant–buttercream is much easier to work with and is a good deal less expensive than fondant.
“Instead of asking your cake baker to create a custom flavor combination just for your wedding, go with more basic flavors.”
One for the road.
If you’re planning to give your guests something to take home, why not feed two birds with one crumb (our pacifist twist on a common phrase)?
Creative writer Shelley Grieshop told us about how you can use products from Totally Promotional (@TPromotional) to offer table settings your guests can keep as a souvenir:
“It’s a good budget strategy to provide guests with wedding favors that serve a dual function. That’s why we often suggest using personalized wedding cups as favors and party supplies. Plastic cups are likely already on the list as a necessity for the wedding reception. Why not purchase customized cups that can be used by guests at the party and taken home as favors? We make it very simple to place the bride and groom’s names, wedding date and/or clever saying on reusable cups that friends and relatives can keep as mementos.”
What friends are for.
If your friends are getting to come to a fancy (but affordable wedding) they should be willing to help out a bit if they’re able to.
“What we did when we got married was we used our networks,” said Charlie Meaden (@UproarCharlie), CEO and founder of Uproar (@Uproar). “We had a vicar friend that we knew and managed to get him to officiate the wedding for free in their church. We also spoke to a family friend who had a high-end restaurant and wedding venue. We saved around $20,000 just in venue cost because we worked with people who already had an existing relationship with us. We handmade all the invites, gifts, bunting etc etc. I had a friend who a bunch of nice cars, so I asked if he would let us use them. He actually drove me to the church and to the reception, and it only cost us inviting him to the wedding and reception. We literally listed out everyone we thought could help then called in favors. That will be the biggest savings you can make.”
It IS easy being green.
If you’re concerned about the environment as well as your budget, Kathryn Kellogg of Going Zero Waste (@goingzerowaste) wants to help. She told us how she had a very affordable, very special wedding with no waste:
“I got married in May of this year with a $2,000 budget. With any small budget, thinking outside of the box is really important. We split our reception and ceremony. We had a big backyard bbq to celebrate with friends and family. I rented games like corn hole and borrowed tables from friends. I bought white sheets from the thrift store and used my extensive collection of mason jars from the kitchen for vases.
“The morning of the reception/party I walked to the farmers market where I bought a whole bunch of flowers. I bought bread to slice up for sandwiches. I went to the butcher and got brisket to go in my crock pot and I made a whole bunch of sangria! Then I asked everyone to bring a side in a reusable dish. I supplied cloth napkins, real plates, and cups. We danced and partied the night away. Not only was it AMAZING, it produced no trash. The average wedding produces 500 lbs of waste and I wanted to have an eco-friendly wedding.
“The party was on Saturday and we got married at SF city hall on Monday morning with our immediate family. We celebrated by going to a restaurant after and my wonderful mother got our wedding cake to-go in my own container to avoid that plastic disposable one. We had a cake cutting at our hotel and they were nice enough to set us up with a little room with real plates and silverware.”
Take all of this advice and the first day of the rest of your life won’t be filled with financial worry.
Anne Chertoff (@WeddingWire) is WeddingWire’s Trend Expert. She has more than fifteen years of experience in the wedding industry as a wedding editor for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings and BRIDES. Her wedding advice and expertise have been featured in The New York Times, FOX News, Good Morning America, InStyle, USA Today, and more.
Shelley Grieshop (@TPromotional) is a former newspaper reporter and copy editor who joined the team at Totally Promotional as a creative writer in January 2016. She writes company blogs, product descriptions and other items for the company’s website and general correspondence.
Kathryn Kellogg (@goingzerowaste) All of my trash for the past two years fits in a 16 oz mason jar. I spend my time educating the public on the dangers of trash, plastic pollution, and fighting to end food waste. I’m a consultant and public speaker who blogs all about small, actionable tips we can all implement to make the world a little greener.
Charlie Meaden (@UproarCharlie) founded Uproar.gg (@Uproar) and launched their product into the market in October 2016. Uproar.gg is “Air Miles for Gaming”. Gamers come to Uproar.gg to win real life rewards for competing in quests and challenges related to the games they love. They have built major partnerships with some of the largest game publishers in the world and have thousands of new users signing up every day.
Bad Credit Helper: Does Moving Back Home Make Sense.
There’s a definite stigma against moving back home once you’ve left the house. It’s seen as setback or even total failure if an adult child moves back in with their parents, which is unfortunate, given that whether or not society approves of it, more and more college grads are moving back home.
But what if the alternative is getting behind on your payments? That would leave you with bad credit, and bad credit is not a great place to start your financial journey.
We talked to the experts to find out if a “failure to launch” might just be a chance to refuel. After all, getting more money in the bank and getting ahead of your payments so you aren’t haunted by bad credit for the rest of your life doesn’t sound so bad.
Ignore the haters.
We don’t have to tell you that there’s a stigma attached to moving back home, although we did anyway in the first line of this article. Other people’s opinions about the decision should be the last thing on your mind. The only important question is if it’s the right thing for you.
That’s what we think, and certified financial educator Maggie Germano (@MaggieGermano) agrees: “Sometimes when you fall on hard times financially, the only option is to move home. (Not everyone has this option, so it’s important to keep in mind the privilege of this opportunity.) I definitely think there is no shame in moving home if you need to. It’s a great opportunity to save money in rent and get back on your feet. If your parents don’t charge you any rent, you can end up saving thousands of dollars. You should take advantage of this time to pay off debt, build up savings, and work towards other financial goals. Once you feel more financially stable, it may be time to go back out on your own. There’s no right or wrong amount of time to stay home; whatever works for you and your parents is the right thing.”
Moving back home (if you have the privilege to do so, as Germano clarified) can indeed be a smart financial choice. And we even have the experts with the first-hand experiences to prove it!
“I paid off 30k in student loans in 12 months making 48k. After, I saved up and bought my place with cash at the age of 25.
“Without moving back home after college I would not have been able to do these things.
“I always recommend for young adults to live somewhere inexpensive while they are building good financial foundations. If it isn’t at home, it could be a basement or a 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment.
“I never lived with my Dad until I asked him if I could move home after college. I sweetened the pot by telling him I would cut the grass, clean the gutters, and be an on call baby sitter for my younger siblings. (What a deal!)
“Some steps you can take to get back on your feet are to start budgeting and creating goals. A goal could be when you want to move out again. And a budget is imperative to control your money and reach your goal.”
Kelan Kline of The Savvy Couple (@TheSavvyCouple) wrote about his experience moving back home at Millennial Money Man (@GenYMoneyMan): “We all know moving back home with your parents is not the most glamorous thing in the world. Reverting back to following their rules and having a chore list to complete was not an easy transition.
“The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to remember it is temporary. Most things in life take time and sacrifice to reap the rewards. Be patient. The financial gain you can make while living at home is second to none, trust me!
“I was not only able pay off my student loans ($8,000), but save enough money for a down payment on our first house. My expenses were next to none living at home, and I have always been extremely frugal. You can’t beat free room and board! Almost all my income went straight towards my loans to get debt free as quick as possible. Then I focused on stacking the Benjamins in the bank. My net worth went from -$8,000 to +$12,000, a $20,000 swing!”
But what about the “landlord’s” perspective?
Meet the parent.
So we’ve got the “kids”’ perspectives, but what about a parent’s take on it? Financial coach and fiscally conscious father Brad Kingsley (@maximize_money) gave us the dad’s directive:
“When I’ve tackled this topic in the past it has always been an “it depends” situation.
“The first thing that comes to mind is a recent college graduate coming back home. Sometimes it takes a little longer than expected to land a job that aligns with their education. But working part-time somewhere just to bring in money can hurt them in the job search. In that case moving back in with their parents for a short transition period might be the best short term option.
“The second thing is an older child who wants to come back home. If there has been an unforeseen emergency or life situation outside of anyone’s control, then I’d certainly want to be sympathetic and support that child through the specific challenge.
“In either case there should be a plan though. Having a child move back home should never be an open-ended stay-as-long-as-you-want-for-free type of situation. It can be a bridge from one point to another, but it should not be the destination. And without a plan in place, it can quickly turn into the destination by default.
“I recommend the parents and child agree on timing, responsibilities, expectations, and ‘the plan.’ Yes, the child should share the plan because it impacts the parents and they have a right to know and agree – or disagree and encourage other options.”
In conclusion, moving back home for a while has helped other people and it could help you too. Some people might give you a side-eye, but as long as your parent(s) and or guardian(s) are on board, the side-eyers will be feeling silly when you’re in a better financial situation down the line.
Maggie Germano (@MaggieGermano) is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and financial coach for women. Her mission is to give women the support and tools that they need to take control of their money, break the taboo of discussing debt and income, and achieve their goals and dreams. She does this through one-on-one financial coaching, monthly Money Circle gatherings, her weekly Money Monday newsletter, and speaking engagements. To learn more, or to schedule a free discovery call, visit MaggieGermano.com.
Brad Kingsley (@maximize_money) is a certified financial coach helping people create a plan for their finances to achieve big goals like becoming debt free, paying for college, and preparing for a comfortable retirement. Visit his site at MaximizeYourMoney.com.
Kelan and Brittany Kline aka The Savvy Couple (@TheSavvyCouple) are two thriving millennials that are daring to live differently. They started their personal finance blog September 2016 to help others get money $avvy so they can live a frugal and free lifestyle. Brittany is a full-time 4th-grade teacher and Kelan runs The Savvy Couple full-time and works as a digital marketer. You can follow them here: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Phil Risher is the founder of YoungAdultSurvivalGuide.com. Phil paid off $30,000 in student loans in 12 months making 48k. After, he saved up and bought his first place with cash at the age of 25. Phil now speaks with college students and young adults around the country about his 5-Step Guide to help them on their financial journey.
How to Avoid a Costly Breakdown On Your Summer Road Trip.
Summer in America is the season of apple pie, baseball, pool parties, and the open road. Driving is cheaper than flying in most cases. Unless, of course, you have a breakdown.
There’s nothing better than driving with the windows down past beautiful, remote scenery, and there’s nothing worse than feeling the car slow down in the middle of nowhere, puffs of smoke seeping out from beneath the hood as your engine gives up its last dying breaths.
Repairing a busted car on the roadside is never fun and never cheap! You’re better off taking the proper steps so you won’t have a breakdown in the first place. That’s why we spoke to our favorite auto masters to find out how you can prepare your car for the journey, as well as the destination.
Beat the heat.
Much like an ice cream cone or a human being, cars can only handle so much heat. But whereas you might be able to get by with sunscreen, water, and an ice cream cone, your car has other needs.
“The summer months are hard on the engines of cars,” Jill Trotta (@RepairPal_Jill), director of the automotive group at RepairPal (@RepairPal), told us. “The extreme heat of summer causes wear on mechanical components of cars. Weather can also cause problems with tires, brakes and the engine. If you want your family to be safe on the summer road trips, it is important to do summer car maintenance.”
One heat-based issue your car can run into is oil breakdown. Trotta gave us the… breakdown:
“Viscosity breakdown is a common problem with engines during the summer months. The heat of an engine begins to cause the oil to breakdown, and it no longer lubricates the engine. As the friction causes wear on parts, eventually your car will breakdown. To avoid viscosity breakdown, it is important that the engine stays cool. The cooling maintenance and checks needed before a road trip includes:
If the radiator has a leak or any hoses are dry and cracked, have them replaced before traveling.”
If you know you’ll be driving under the hot, hot sun, you owe it to yourself and to your ride to make sure it’s prepared for the journey.
Feeling a little tired.
Unless you have a hover car (and if you do, please give us a ride) you’re going to need tires for any road trip.
“Having good tires is one of the most important safety checks that need to be done before summer travels,” Trotta warned us. “Check the air pressure of your tire and make sure it is at the recommended pressure rating. The pressure rating is printed on the sidewall of the tire and will be measured in PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch). It is also important to check the tire treads using the coin test, which tells you if it is time for new tires. Here are some of the items needed for tire maintenance on the road:
12-Volt Portable Compressor
Problems with tires often start with a small puncture due to a nail, screw or road debris and here’s what to do about it. Always check the tire pressure and keep an eye out for punctures that need to be repaired.”
Accredited financial counselor Roslyn Lash (@RosLash) echoed the tire concern: “Be sure that your tires are good i.e. proper amount of tread, air/tire pressure”
If your tires aren’t in order, you’ll risk having to “Flintstone” the entire distance of your trip, which is murder on the feet.
Manage the essential fluids.
Just as blood carries life throughout the body, your car has fluids that are also important. What are those fluids? Don’t ask us, we’re not a car doctor! But Trotta is:
“There are many fluids that need to be checked and changed before a road trip. Change the oil and check the levels of the transmission and brake fluid before you go on a road trip. It is also a good idea to pack extra fluids with the repair kit and tools. Here are the fluids that you want to have with the spare tire in case of an emergency:
Power Steering Fluid
The spare tire compartment in most cars will have room for packing extra fluids. The only fluid that will take up room is the coolant that comes in a larger container. In addition to these fluids, keep an extra bottle of water with the other fluids for emergencies.”
Even though we aren’t a car doctor or a human doctor, we’ll back up Trotta’s water bottle suggestion. You want to keep at least as hydrated as your car is on these long trips.
Pump the brakes.
You could argue the brakes are the most important part of the car. The worst thing that’ll happen if you’re missing the wheels or engine is that you won’t go anywhere. The worst thing that’ll happen if you’re missing your brakes is…. well, let’s not get into it.
But we will let Trotta get into how you can make sure your brakes are ready for a road trip: “The brakes give you stopping power and aid in handling. Before traveling, the brakes of your car need to be inspected. Check the pads, change the fluid and bleed the lines. If the pads do not have much material left, they often begin to make noise due to a metal indicator built into them, which means they need to be changed. Here are the essential brake components that need to be checked before traveling:
First, check the pads and have them changed if needed. A brake inspection is usually free at a RepairPal Certified shop near you. In addition to the brake pads, check all the lines for signs of wear or damage and bleed the brakes. Lastly, the fluid in the master cylinder needs to be checked and more brake fluid added if the level is low.”
So make sure you don’t pump the brakes… on proper brake maintenance.
Summer gets hot. The inside of your car shouldn’t be. That’s why you want to make sure your air conditioner is working properly.
“The maintenance for AC, wipers, and air filter are also important tasks to do before leaving on a road trip,” Trotta told us. Check the AC compressor and have an auto mechanic charge it if necessary. Change the air filters in your car too, which many modern cars have the air filter for the engine, as well as a cabin air filter. While you are checking the AC and changing air filters, check the wiper blades and make sure there is cleaning fluid in the deposit. Check these last few areas of your car before leaving on a road trip:
AC and Belts
Wiper Blades and Fluid
The AC compressor is connected to belts and pulleys on the engine. Turn on the engine and the AC to see if the belts make noise and visually inspect them for damage. It is a good idea to check the wiper blades as well as the wiper fluid. Wipers and wiper fluid aren’t just for rainy days – make sure you can clean off the bug graveyard your windshield turns into on long stretches of highway.
“To avoid car trouble and stay safe this summer, make sure you make a checklist. Before you pack the luggage, take care of any repairs before your next road trip. It is also important to protect against the summer heat. Make sure you have shades to prevent burns from hot car seats, steering wheels and other interior components that get hot in direct sun.”
Non-maintenance stuff too!
Of course, not all of your preparations will be car maintenance. There’s always a chance of a random incident, from an eagle dive bombing your car to some other animal attacking your car.
Karen E. (@Wanderlustingk), a travel blogger at Wanderlustingk.com, advises bringing tools, as well as financial protection: “My number one tip (after many disastrous) road trips is to have the highest level of triple AAA insurance. You have NO idea when you’ll be stranded and need be towed almost 200 miles just to find a mechanic that has the right parts. Similarly, have the right tools in your car, including a tow rope, so those driving by with pick-up trucks can help you if needed.”
Lash also suggests to: “be sure that you have a roadside assistance plan”
Take all of these precautions before your trip, and you’ll lessen the risk a breakdown that will ruin your vacation, as well as your financial life, especially if the repair costs leave you considering a payday loan or racking up credit card fees that could lead to bad credit. That’s one trip you don’t want to take.
Roslyn Lash (@RosLash) is an Accredited Financial Counselor. She specializes in financial education, adult coaching, and works virtually with adults helping them to navigate through their personal finances i.e. budgeting, debt, and credit repair. She is also the founder of Youth Smart Financial Education Services. Her advice has been featured in national publications such as USA Today, TIME, Huffington Post, NASDAQ, Los Angeles Times, and a host of other media outlets.
Jill Trotta(@RepairPal_Jill) is an automotive professional with over 25 years of professional experience. ASE Certified technician and consultant. She is currently working on the Automotive Professional Team at RepairPal. They do the hard work of identifying technically qualified, customer friendly auto shops and presenting them to consumers. They are working to develop transparency in the Automotive Industry. They also have a very accurate automotive repair price estimator that is available to shops and consumers.
Need Cash Fast? Try These 10 Great Side Hustles
When you’re in a pinch, earning some extra money is a much better option than a predatory payday loan.
The thing about surprise expenses is that they’re impossible to anticipate. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be surprises. One second your car is working fine, the next it’s stalled out on the side of the road. One second your boiler is humming along, the next your basement is filled with smelly, black smoke. Life comes at you fast and it often leaves behind a hefty bill.
The best way to handle these kinds of emergency expenses is to have a dedicated emergency fund. But for some folks, those kinds of savings just aren’t a possibility. Taking out a loan is always an option—but folks whose credit is less-than-great might find themselves at the mercy of predatory payday and title lenders. And while OppLoans offers affordable installment loans that give you a safer, more responsible alternative to payday and title loans, getting anyloan isn’t the only option available.
A great way to deal with emergency expenses is to go out and earn the cash to pay for them. That could mean taking a second job with a maid service or your local fast food joint, but there are also tons of side hustles out there that give you a lot more independence.
That’s why we reached out to a bunch of experts for some great ways to earn fast cash. We’ve got recommendations from:
“If you are great with acting/pretending, this will be a great one for you. You essentially are an independent contractor for market research companies that hire you to go into particular stores, pose as a shopper using a specified scenario script so you can gather information for them. Mystery shopping pays anywhere from $10 to $50 per shop depending on the scenario. All you’re doing is asking questions and noting the answers so you can report back. You can even make it a part of your weekly shopping trips.” – Gertrude Nonterah
2. Moving services
“Make up some business cards ($20 if you get them done) and leave them with local Storage Facilities if people are looking for movers (they always are). You don’t even need a truck. Most people rent trucks from U-Haul and need drivers and loaders.” – Becky Blanton
3. Drop shipping
Kelan Kline (The Savvy Couple) shares this story about the $50K drop shipping (fulfilling retail orders from home) business he started in college…
“When I was fourteen years old going into my freshman year my parents told me to get a job. The three words no high school kid wants to hear. Instead of getting a job I decided I would start selling things on eBay to make enough to make my parents happy.
“After selling anything I could get my hands-on, including things I should not have, I started looking into drop shipping. I had tried a few drop shipping companies even a couple that provided a free website to sell from with very little luck.
“I kept searching and finally came across Doba.com, it changed everything! I bought a lifetime membership for $1,000 (which they no longer offer). I now had hundreds of thousands of products at my fingertips that I could increase the price and keep the profit from.
“I found that Amazon was the bestselling platform due to their high-volume traffic and deep trust.
“I continued to work on my drop shipping business EpicBuyz throughout high school and got very good at it. In college, my drop shipping business on average took in $50,000 a year in revenue. My profit on my sales would range anywhere from 8—15%, not a bad side hustle for a college student!
“I still continue to sell our used items on eBay and Amazon. I have the mindset if it’s not being used it’s worth money to someone else.
“My drop shipping side hustle really set us up for success in running our blog. We started our blog TheSavvyCouple.com 10 months ago and will reach over 20,000 page views this month. Affiliate marketing is another very exciting online business with unlimited income potential.”
“A lumper is anyone who manually handles freight in a warehouse. They make from $60 to $350 per hour or job depending on the freight. Same day pay. Lots of articles online debate lumping, say you have to register, but most strong, healthy looking hard working men or women can generally find work lumping, and repeat work if they’re good and dependable.” – Becky Blanton
5. Selling on Craigslist
“Old items around my house have brought me around $400 a month before. The key here is to take multiple pictures of the item and describe the item as thoroughly as possible. To find a fair but good price to make it worth your while, you can check out store websites like Walmart.com to gain a good idea of what the item costs at full price.” – Gertrude Nonterah
6. Lawn care with GreenPal
If you have knack for yard work, you could earn money on the side through GreenPal, often described as “Uber for Lawn Care.”
Bryan Clayton CEO of GreenPal, explains:
“Our system has over 500 vendor partners in seven states throughout the county.”
“Many of our lawn care vendors are part-timers. Some are firemen, some teachers that use our app in the summer to make extra money, others are college students that work afternoons and weekends, and it is the perfect way for them to make extra money.”
“Our average vendor makes around $55 per hour mowing lawns on our system They set their own hours and pick the clients they want to work for, it is the perfect side job.”
7. Be a driver
“If you have a CDL license you can make money fast moving cars, trucks, rentals etc. around the country. There’s always Uber, Left and other taxi services, but I know people who charge $10-$20 an hour to run errands, deliver groceries, etc. using their personal vehicle. Check your insurance first if you’re hauling people around, but many businesses need delivery for small items.” – Becky Blanton
8. Avon sales
Brittany Kline had a great experience working as a salesperson for Avon…
“Similar to Kelan, I was told to get a job out of high school as well. After doing research, I decided to join Avon and start selling. I went through the training they provided, but I was never someone who pushed my business on to others. I started with ordering extra catalogs and going around on my bike hanging up bags on my neighbor’s mailboxes. It slowly took off.
“When a woman at my mom’s work stopped selling Avon, it was the perfect in for me. My mom would bring catalogs to work with her and she would collect the orders from her co-workers. When the orders came in, we would bag them together and she would deliver and receive payment. We were a great team.
“I sold to a close circle of friends and their family members for a long time. It was the perfect side hustle to cover my gas commuting to college or to cover my cell phone bill. Selling as a direct sales representative for 9 years was the perfect side hustle for me.”
9. Online yard sales
“Yard sales used to be on weekends and you had to drive there, look through crap and hope to find something you wanted or needed. Now you can go on Facebook, search on classifieds or yard sales and your area and find, OR SELL anything online. I make $200 + a month for less than an hour’s work uploading and selling clothes, books, furniture etc. online. ALWAYS meet the buyer at a public place – a grocery store parking lot, etc.someplace where there are people around. If you’re selling electronics, watches, coins or cameras, phones etc. meet INSIDE a store. You’re less likely to be mugged or robbed.” – Becky Blanton
10) Amazon Flex
“This is something my husband actually started recently and he makes between $200-$400 per week. Amazon Flex is a service that gives people the opportunity to quickly deliver items people have ordered from Amazon’s website (and indicated that wanted same/1-day delivery) from a regional Amazon location. The deliveries are local and so you will not spend a ton on gas. For something that brings in $1000-$2000 per month for my family, I’d say this one is a winner!” – Gertrude Nonterah
If you have a great fast cash side gig that isn’t on this list, we’d love to hear about! You can get in touch with us on Twitter at @OppLoans.
Becky Blanton (@BeckyBlanton_) is a TED Global speaker, blogger, ghostwriter, and founder of The Homeless Entrepreneur – a nonprofit that offers Suitcase to Briefcase, a training program that teaches those experiencing homelessness how to start their own business.
Bryan Clayton (@YourGreenPal) is the CEO of GreenPal, an online marketplace connecting homeowners with local lawn care professionals. Bryan is a serial entrepreneur in the lawn and landscaping industry having built and sold Peach Tree Inc., a Nashville based landscape group, growing the firm to over 120 employees to ultimate acquisition by Landscapes USA.
Kelan and Brittany Kline aka The Savvy Couple (@TheSavvyCouple) are two thriving millennials that are daring to live differently. They started their personal finance blog September 2016 to help others get money $avvy so they can live a frugal and free lifestyle. Brittany is a full-time 4th-grade teacher and Kelan runs The Savvy Couple full-time and works as a digital marketer. You can follow them here: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Gertrude Nonterah (@GeeNonterah) is a research scientist trying to save premature infants by day and blogger/freelance writer by night. She is also the founder of MyOnlineBizJourney.com – an educational website that focusses on teaching people how to plan and launch their own side hustles using online tools and skills they already have.
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