Archive for the ‘Money & Finance’ Category

Can Debt be “Good” Debt?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

From our money & finance contributor, Kelly Whalen.

Debt is a four letter word for many of us. We don’t want to carry debt. We don’t want to owe money to anyone. We work hard to eliminate debt and keep ourselves from going into debt through careful spending and strategic saving. But is there ever a time when debt is good? Can it help us meet our goals?

Can debt be good debt via MomAdvice.com

Mortgage Debt

While it would be lovely to buy a home outright, for most of us a little mortgage debt is necessary. Mortgage debt can be considered ‘good’ debt since the mortgage interest is tax deductible, mortgages allow you to settle into a home (and community) for a long period of time, and it offers you a stable monthly payment for your housing.

In the boom of the 2000s when mortgages were cheap and houses were expensive everyone was buying a house whether it made financial sense or not. Now the market has stabilized somewhat and in many housing markets it’s a great time to buy. You can find a home for much cheaper than you can rent in the same community. In addition, you may be able to build value by buying a home that has been foreclosed or needs some TLC.

Already own a home? Consider that debt to be a stable ‘rent’ you’re paying each month. You’ll get to live ‘rent’ free once your mortgage is paid off allowing for a lot more flexibility than an actual rental home.

If your home is underwater or you owe near what it’s worth consider your options when it comes to housing. Could you refinance and save on monthly payments? Could you pay it off faster with a shorter term mortgage? Would a short sale make sense for you financially? In some cases it may still be cheaper to stay in your home than move and pay for a rental home.

Education Debt

Americans owe over a trillion dollars in student loan debt, and student loan debt now tops all other forms of debt. While there is a cautionary tale here about not going too deeply into debt for your education, there are times when student loan debt is ‘good’ debt.

Education debt can be a smart financial move if you want to go into certain careers like becoming a doctor or lawyer. Mastering certain skills may require higher eduction as well. In addition some careers or jobs benefit from the networking that happens on a college campus.

Beyond college-aged kids though, there are other reasons you may go back to school as an older student. You may have had a life issue interrupt your schooling at the typical college age, or you may go back to school for a higher degree like a Master’s in Education. In these cases you may get some help from your employer to cover school costs or qualify for different grants and scholarships than younger students.

Earning a degree may be expensive but if it allows you to improve your income and offers you more stability in your career, then the benefit can outweigh the costs.

Car Debt

In most cases automobile loans are ‘bad’ debt, but in some cases a reliable car is a necessity and can help you earn a better income. If your job relies on a car, then having a set of wheels and good insurance is key to maintaining that job. In many suburban areas a lack of public transportation, reasonable transportation options, or safe walking and biking lanes can keep you from commuting to your job via an alternative method (you can read more about saving with these alternative methods of transportation here).

While saving and paying cash for a car is ideal, in some cases taking on car debt instead of spending all your savings may make sense. Just be sure when you’re weighing the cost of a new or newer used car versus something you can buy outright you take into account the maintenance needed or cost to own.

Other Debt

When you’re weighing whether debt is ‘good or ‘bad’ you need to take into account four things:

  1. Is your current debt-to-income ratio less than 35% (at the high end) or 25% (a more conservative balance)?
  2. Will the debt increase your earnings or earning potential?—Earning more can make a big impact on your bottom line.
  3. Is the reason you’re adding debt a need? Or a want?—Can you find a reasonably less expensive alternative?
  4. Are there other options that are less expensive but still provide what you need?—Would a local college give the same experience as an expensive university?

Do you think there is such a thing as good debt and bad debt? What do you consider to be ‘good’ debt?

 

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Apron Full of Giveaways 08.12.14

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Mommy and Me Pink Flamingo Aprons via Etsy

Source: Mchughties,  $52.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Apron Full of Giveaways 08.05.14

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Retro drink apron via Etsy

Source: Swizzlestix,  $28.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Freebie Friday August 1, 2014

Friday, August 1st, 2014

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice I think you’re going to love this refreshing summer salad from our food contributor, Diana. I’m also sharing a gluten-free lemon cake that’s to die for and how I transformed a corner of a room in our home with lots of tips you can use, too. On this week’s edition of  It’s the 3 Little Things I’m sharing what’s making me happy and hope you’ll share yours, too!

Our regular feature,  Amy’s Notebook, is of course filled with lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas, and be sure to check out all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty

Nivea Lotion Sample
Emergen-C Sample 
Garnier Clean+ Sample

Tums Ultra Chewable Tablets Sample
Suave Professionals Natural Infusions Sample
Hugo Boss Men’s Fragrance Sample
Hugo Boss Women’s Fragrance Sample
Schiff Move Free Ultra Sample

Food & Drink

Truvia Natural Sweetener Sample

Entertainment

Free Natural Beauty Mini Magazine

Pet

Timberwolf Organic Dog Food Sample

This Week’s Freebie Events: August 1 – 7

1st - Barnes & Noble: Enjoy Storytime, Sing-Along, Crafts, and Activities with Olaf, 7 pm.

2nd - Long John Silvers: Free Fish and Fries, 11 am – 3 pm.

2nd - Home Depot: Build a Mini-Crate Pencil Holder, 9 am – 12 pm.

2nd - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Personalized Door Hanger, 11 am – 3 pm.

2nd - Barnes & Noble: Celebrate Marvel Day with activities and giveaways.

2nd & 3rd - National Museums: Free Entrance to Museums for Bank of America Card Holders.

 

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Apron Full of Giveaways 07.29.14

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Owl apron via Etsy

Source: Creative Chics,  $50.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Freebie Friday July 25, 2014

Friday, July 25th, 2014

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice we have a fantastic craft from our DIY contributor, Sarah – DIY library tote bags with free printable designs, which are totally adorable! You’ll also find easy lunchbox solutions for the coming school year (oh, yes, I did just mention back-to-school!) and some fun dresser makeover ideas that will have you shopping at Goodwill asap. On this week’s edition of  It’s the 3 Little Things I’m sharing what’s making me happy and hope you’ll share yours, too!

Our regular feature,  Amy’s Notebook, is of course filled with lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas, and be sure to check out all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty

L’Oreal Triple Resist Hair Care Sample
Origins GinZing Face Mask Sample
Emergen-C Sample
Schiff Move Free Ultra Sample
Nivea Lotion Sample

Food & Drink

Entertainment

Family Fun Magazine Subscription
Bird Nature Study Printables
Cats Preschool Printables
The Paleo Summer Survival Guide eBook Download
Beginner Soap Making: Simple Homemade Recipes eBook Download

Pet

Fancy Feast Broths Sample

This Week’s Freebie Events: July 25 - 31
26th - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Make & Shake Noisemaker, 11 am – 3 pm
26th - Lowes: Make a Turbo Taco Truck, 10 am

 

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8 Fun Dresser Makeovers

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

8 Fun Dresser Makeovers

 

I have so much fun gathering up ideas for repurposing items on the Goodwill Tips Blog and look forward to showcasing these ideas for you each month. Today’s post is all about a furniture staple…the dresser. I have gathered 8 fun ways you can you can makeover a Goodwill dresser that I know you will want to run right out and find this thrift store gem to create a new fun piece in your home. In fact, I can’t wait to snag a dresser myself so I can implement these ideas in my own home.

Head over to the Goodwill Tips blog and discover 8 fun ideas for dresser makeovers today!

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Apron Full of Giveaways 07.22.14

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Floral apron via Etsy

Source: Gerbear Collectibles,  $9.99 (pattern)

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Freebie Friday July 18, 2014

Friday, July 18th, 2014

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice I’m beyond excited to share the transformation of our little shed into a super cool hangout (where you’ll probably find me over the weekend!) and a terrific Sundays With Writers interview with Michelle Gabel, author of A Paris Apartment. We’ve got two fabulous contributor articles – one from Mary Carver about creating memories to make the most of your marriage and the other from Kelly Whalen on different ways to get around for less! On this week’s edition of  It’s the 3 Little Things I’m sharing what’s making me happy and hope you’ll share yours, too!

Our regular feature,  Amy’s Notebook, is of course filled with lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas, and be sure to check out all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty
Food & Drink
Entertainment
This Week’s Freebie Events: July 19 - 25
19th - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Wiggly-Eyed Glitter Fish, 11 am – 3 pm
19th - Michael’s: Make a Paracord Bracelet, 1 – 4 pm

 

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Cars, Trains, Bikes, and Feet: How to Get Around for Less

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

From our money & finance contributor, Kelly Whalen.

Transportation costs are often the second largest expense after our homes. For cars, the cost of ownership goes beyond the sticker price and includes everything from oil changes to replacing tires and wiper blades regularly. Train and bus passes may save you big bucks, but they can also add up to lots of time (especially if you encounter delays). Walking is by far the cheapest way to get around, but it also takes the most time and may not make sense more suburban and rural areas.

In the end it doesn’t matter much how you travel- by train, by car, or by your own two feet -they all cost time and money. So, let’s dig into how to get around for less.

How to Get Around for Less

Location, location, location:

They say it’s true for real estate, but it’s also true when it comes to public transportation. If you live in an area that’s far away from work, school, and activities you will spend more time behind the wheel. If you live somewhere that has decent public transportation you may be able to rely on it for commuting. In suburban areas you may be able to do a combo of using both trains and buses and relying on your car for things like errands. While we can’t always pack up and move it’s worth a second look at what your community offers in terms of transportation.

What to look for: Look for bike routes, walking paths, bus stations, trains, and car sharing options in your local area. Try using Google Maps to create your route and look at what public transportation options are available. While biking and walking directions should be examined closely in street view (as they are in beta in many areas) you may be pleasantly surprised to find new ways to travel.

Do the math: If moving is an option look at what you could save on transportation costs. If it’s not an option consider what you’d save by using public transportation, carpooling, walking, or biking 3 days a week. Challenge yourself to see what you can save. Consider monthly passes for public transportation as well. Many locations offer monthly passes at a steep discount if you’re a regular commuter.

Consider Going Carless

For many families, but especially those in the suburbs or country, a two car way of life is the only way that their family can meet all their obligations. Mom and Dad may work in different directions while the kids need to go to after school programs. Even if one parent stays at home it may be inconvenient to spend an hour or more dropping off and picking up their spouse to work with kids in tow.

What to consider: Look at the family obligations as a whole and see if you could juggle having one car. Consider parking one for a few days or a week as a trial. You could always keep it around if it’s not costing much in insurance money for times when it is needed. This will work especially well for families with an at-home parent who either stays at home or works from home. The office worker in the family can drive in most days, look at public transportation options for a few days a week, or even consider carpooling with a local co-worker.

My one car experience: We were a one car family for several months after my husband’s car needed repairs that cost more than the car was worth. We sold the car, paid down some debt, and worked out our schedules to make one car work. It wasn’t easy but it allowed us some time to save up for our next car purchase, and definitely challenged us to be more thoughtful about our driving. You can read more about it here.

Do the math: A car payment + maintenance + gas can add up to $100s each month. If you have a car that’s paid in full you’re still looking at thousands of dollars in maintenance cost. If you could commit to going car-free or cutting back to one car for a year you could easily save upwards of $3,000-$5,000.

Save on Buying your Next Car:

Buying a car can be an intimidating prospect. Considering that most of us only do it a few times in our lives it’s not something that’s easy to ‘practice.’ The buying process can trick you into thinking you’re saving big money, but the truth is most often the dealer will always do well since it’s a process they go through regularly. But there is good news. The internet makes it easier to find out what people are actually paying for cars (both new and used) and you can use it to your advantage to source the exact car you want at a price you want to pay.

Do the math: While it’s fun to consider snazzy features and brand names that include jaw-dropping sticker prices you should really look at function over form. You want a car that has a low cost of ownership, has the features you need (and okay maybe a few you want), and holds its’ value well.

When it’s time to buy you should put everything you can reasonably afford into the purchase so you have low or no car payments. While the old adage is that used is always better and a new car loses 20-40% of its value the second you drive it off the lot that’s not always the case. For cars that hold their value well you may even find that a newly used car (like 1-2 model years old) will be just as expensive as a brand new car.

Whether you get around on foot, by bike, train, bus or car, you’re sure to have ideas on additional ways to save. Share in the comments.

 

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