Friday, May 20, 2016

Summer Expenses

Do your summer expenses normally go up or down during the summer?  Ours would normally go up slightly due to a summer vacation.  Sometimes activities are stopped for summer and replaced by camp fees.  Part of our summer expenses include a pool membership, swim team, swim team bathing suits, pictures and snacks at meets.  Maybe your food bill can go down if you don't need to buy individual snacks for lunches.  Every bit helps.  The swim club we belong to does not have a place to sell food day to day.  This is probably better but the ice cream truck does come around to try to entice everyone to buy something.  I could bring a snack similar to something that the children would buy at the ice cream truck to try to save some money that way.
I am finding out that my children don't have all the memories of the vacations that I had hoped.  Our son asked if he had ever been to a particular state.  Yes, we took a vacation in the state he mentioned but he was only 4 years old.  I personally do not have any memories prior to age 4 or 5 in my own life.
It is okay to have down time during the summer break.  Every moment does not need to be scheduled.  I have noticed that some places have discounts during the week even though it is summer.  That could be advantageous in multiple ways.  First is the discount and second is the place may be less crowded.
You can pace yourself and not do everything in the same summer.  There is an Aqua Park that looks to be fun but some of our children were probably too young to go in the past.  The best way to go would be on the discounted days even if that means a scheduled day off from work.  Many times earlier in the day or later in the day are the best times to avoid crowds.  Some places offer free or discounted twilight prices.  I have also seen pay what you wish for museum admissions.  
Whatever you do or don't do this summer, there is always next year.  Check out when the best sales are so you can plan for a certain time or destination.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Balance Transfer Checks

Recently we took notice of balance transfer checks. These offers to add to your credit card debt may appear tempting.
Here are a few items to take note of in the rules.

Interest will accrue on new credit card purchases (that are not at 0%) if your balance is not paid in full by the due date. I had seen a recommendation not to use the credit card at all if you are using the card for a balance transfer.

Minimum payments may go to pay off the lowest interest rate including 0%. Some of the companies may apply the money beyond the minimum payment to the highest interest rates first.

When you transfer a balance to a credit card it may not have the normal air miles and rewards.

I was surprised to learn that you can also deposit these balance transfer checks into the bank rather then just using them to pay off another credit card to get a lower rate. Assuming you were willing to get bogged down with using a credit card at all this could sound appealing. I can see many uses where this could come in very handy. The trick would be not to use the card for anything else until it is paid off.

Do the companies send these offers to you when you have a balance on the card or is it just a tool to draw in new business when you are not charging to the existing credit card anymore?

Good luck with your financial future!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

When Uncle Sam Comes A Knocking...

Did you ever get a rude awaking at tax time?  Ever get a bill bigger than you can handle?
What are your options to pay it?  I will cover one.
A Personal Loan
The quotes will vary based on the lending institution, based on your credit, possibly whether you have an existing financial relationship with them and if you will use the automatic debit feature.

The range of interest rates could span a number of percentage points.  It is best to contact a number of different places.  It is also a good idea to do your homework before you make any final decisions.  Can you finance less money and for a shorter amount of time?
Some lending institutions use the same interest rate regardless of whether you take the loan out for one, two or three years.  That is a surprise to me.  I would have expected to be quoted a lower rate for taking out a loan for one year than for three years.

Here are some helpful tools to help you do your homework.  Knowing the terms of the loan before you walk in the door to sign a contract are key.  You don't want to jump on a loan that you are unsure if the terms are what you need.

401K Cost Calculator for early withdrawal
The 401K Cost Calculator is helpful as more companies are shutting their doors and/or offering their employees their retirement savings early.

Personal Loan Calculator

The personal loan calculator will help you determine what your payment will be as well as how long the loan will take to pay off if you make additional payments.

Hopefully you will not be in need of a loan come tax time.