Budget Tips for New Parents

If you’re about to embark on the life-changing journey of parenthood, you’re likely feeling a bit overwhelmed by all there is to learn and prepare for. There is no doubt that having a child is expensive, and budget concerns can be one of the key things that get new parents keyed up as they begin caring for a baby. By following these helpful budget tips for new parents, rookie moms and dads can get a handle on their finances and save their focus for what really matters: that new little bundle of joy!

Charting New Financial Waters

When it comes to spending, new parents can no longer put fun and luxuries at the top of their lists. Extra cash that once went to pleasure shopping, going out with friends, and eating out must now be used for diapers, daycare, and a hundred other things that were never on your radar before a new baby came along. As new moms and dads adjust their spending habits to meet a baby’s needs, the following tips can greatly help.

  • Stay United: Financial priorities change rapidly once a child enters the picture, and spouses and partners should set financial goals together and regularly discuss and prioritize these goals. A desire to save up for a down payment on a house or feeling the urgent need to start a college fund for Baby can have you stretching your dollars too thin before you know it. Prioritize the needs that are most important and do only what you comfortably can. This will likely mean setting aside less important financial goals for now in favor of the more immediately necessary ones.
  • Find Creative Solutions: There are many ways new parents can save money and better stay afloat as they adjust to the costs of having a baby. For instance, to stave off the often astronomical costs of childcare, one parent may elect to stay at home while the other works. A move like this will likely mean tightening the belt as you move to a one-income lifestyle, but creative budget cuts can help there, as well.
  • Take Stock: Make a detailed list of where your money is going and find and eliminate the unnecessary fund drains. You may be surprised to learn just how many unnecessary expenditures are depleting your checking account. For example, paying for a premium cable TV package when a less expensive and more basic one will do; regularly ordering costly takeout rather than cooking at home; buying name brand products when a generic would do just as well. Saving a little in a lot of places will add up fast.
  • Build Up Your Savings: Parents should absolutely have emergency funds in reserve to protect against unforeseen occurrences, like job losses or medical emergencies. If you make a regular habit of setting aside a small percentage of each paycheck, even just five or 10 percent, it will build up quickly. Setting up an auto-deposit is a good way to do this. If the money is safely in savings, you won’t figure it into your monthly spending funds and it will remain safely in your savings account for a rainy day.

  1651 Hits

How to Keep Your Internet Identity Secure

We are living in a virtual world, and you are a virtual girl…or boy. While today’s world citizens enjoy unprecedented conveniences thanks to the World Wide Web, we also experience unparalleled risks in terms of identity theft and vulnerability of key information. So, how can you keep your Internet identity secure? The experts have some important answers.

Create a Virtual Fort Knox

While no solution is failsafe when it comes to protecting your identity and your financial world on the Internet, there are some things you can do to make it dang hard for would-be thieves to get their grubby virtual paws on your data.

  • Toughen Up Those Passwords – If you’re one of the guilty many who use the same password for everything, it is bad move No. 1 in the world of virtual identity protection. Use different passwords for each website and make them complicated. Randomly using uppercase letters within your passwords, intentionally misspelling words, or just plain creating a nonsense mishmash of letters and numbers are great strategies for keeping hackers at bay.
  • Put Some Armor on Your Security Questions, too – Password-toughening tips can also be applied to your security question answers. Use bad grammar that would make your high school English teacher blush! Throw in random numbers where letters should be; misspell things to your heart’s content; or, once again, just put plain nonsense in there rather than an answer that makes logical sense with the question.
  • Use Secure Sites – Use https sites when you get online, especially if you’re connecting to the Internet through public Wi-Fi. Most of the Internet biggies (Yahoo, Google, Facebook) have secure connections that will encrypt your data while you’re using them.
  • Use Two-Step Authentication- If websites you frequently login into offer the option of a two-step sign-in, do it. Is it inconvenient? You betcha. But two login points make it twice as hard for hackers to break into your account.
  • Get Notified – Another option you should utilize whenever it’s available is receiving login notifications to alert you to suspicious activity, like an unfamiliar IP address gaining access to one of your accounts. A quick text message from Facebook, Gmail, etc., can help you nip a hack in the bud before it blossoms into a full-grown breach.

There is not currently a cure-all for identity theft, but taking measures like these can certainly throw a monkey wrench into a cyber thief’s evil plot.

Continue reading
  1751 Hits

How to Start an Emergency Fund

Unexpected expenses like car repairs and medical bills always come up. In fact, you can plan for emergency expenses simply by the fact that you can count on them happening. We’ll show you how to start an emergency fund to protect yourself from going into debt and paying high interest rates. It’s really not as hard as you think:

  • Create a Budget – If you’re not already tracking how much money comes in and goes out each month, now is the time to start. Include all household expenses – rent or mortgage, utilities, car payments, insurance, etc. Look at your bank statements to see how much you spend on groceries, eating out, and other things. Add a line item for your emergency fund, and set aside as much as you can. It may be $10 or $100 a month, but either way, it’s going to add up!
  • What is Your Goal? – A good rule of thumb is to have three to six months of basic living expenses set aside as a cushion. You never know when a sudden job change or layoff might happen, and it’s a lot less stressful if you have money in the bank. Set a goal with a specific dollar amount and deadline to get there.
  • Make a Roadmap – Break your goal down into small, achievable chunks. For example, maybe you want to put $250 a month aside for the next six months for your emergency fund while you pay down debt at the same time. Then, when you have more money available, you can update your roadmap to plan for setting aside $750 a month until you reach your target. You might want to pick up extra work to earn money for the fund.
  • Accessible at a Moment’s Notice – Keep your emergency savings in an account that you can access quickly without paying a penalty, like a checking or savings account. If you choose to invest in a mutual fund, money market fund, or certificate of deposit, be sure you understand how to access those funds when you need them.
  • Stick With It – Have the will power to keep your emergency fund separate from your other money, and don’t dip into it unless it’s an emergency. It’s easier to stay on track if you make sure your goals are reasonable and that you’ve budgeted well, so you don’t want to borrow from it. Setting up automatic transfers is a simple way to make sure you stick with the plan.

If You Need a Loan

If you find yourself stuck and your emergency funds just won’t cut it, CashMax is here. Our payday and title loans are just what you need in difficult financial situations. Safe, quick, and easy!

  1439 Hits

Simple Money Tips for Young Couples

Young couples often struggle with finances, but now is the time to take control. These money tips for young couples will help empower you for the future:

The Dreaded Budget

  • Create a budget – Software and apps like mint.com and Quicken can give you a clear picture of your income and expenses, or you can simply write everything down. Include categories for whatever typically blows your paycheck, and give yourself the freedom to spend a set amount. Don’t forget to pay yourself first, with a line item for your savings account.
  • Cut costs creatively – Find ways to cut costs. Switching from traditional cable television to a web streaming device like Roku with Amazon Prime and Netflix can save big bucks. Websites like Groupon, Living Social, and Woot have great deals for restaurants and other things. But only purchase what you need or know you’ll enjoy. Use thrift shops and eBay to buy clothing and baby items at massive discounts, and then donate or resell them when you’re finished. Costco, Sam’s Club, and Amazon also offer big savings, and not just on bulk items.

Yes, You Can Still Have Fun

  • Free is key – Look around you for a wealth of free and inexpensive activities. Hiking, picnicking, biking, and hanging out at the beach or in the mountains are just a few ideas. Check out your city’s website to learn about free concerts, art festivals, and community events.
  • Skip the airfare – Groupon and Living Social come in handy for weekend getaways, too. There are many deals out there for short stays at local resorts, so it’s easy to just jump in your car. Try the Hotel Tonight app for deeply discounted last-minute specials.

Invest for the Future

  • Keep your credit clean – Your credit score will be high if you don’t have too many open lines of credit and pay your bills in full and on time. Set up a realistic payment plan for student loans, or defer them or have them forgiven if necessary
  • Savings on steroids – Maximize whatever you can save in your company’s 401(k) so your company can match it. That savings will grow exponentially, and you have a big advantage because you’re starting young. Also, take a look at setting up an IRA, another safe investment vehicle, or investing in stocks, no-load mutual funds, or other types of funds.
  • College savings plans – 529 plans are excellent investment vehicles for saving for college. They are super-conservative, and only your child can receive the funds. These plans can vary from state to state, but they are available through any brokerage firm, such as Fidelity Investments.
  • Buy a house – If you know you’ll be in the same place for more than five years, buying a house may be a good investment for you. Interest rates are low, and there are options for first-time home buyers like Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans and Economic Opportunity Mortgages (EOM.)

CashMax Can Help

The truth is that implementing these money tips for young couples is a liberating experience. Taking control of your financial future frees you from debt and the stress of unpaid bills. CashMax can help with loans and other financial assistance.

  1523 Hits

How Age Affects Car Insurance

Did you know that your age can affect much more than just your ability to retire or purchase alcohol? Your age can also have a big impact on your auto insurance premiums and how much you have to pay.

How age affects car insurance depends on how young or old you are. Teenagers/young adults and senior citizens tend to pay more for their car insurance because people in these age groups have been found to be riskier drivers.

Since drivers under 25 or over 65 are statistically much more likely to be involved in automobile accidents and engage in risky driving behaviors, these drivers are resultantly charged more by insurance companies.

Continue reading
  1632 Hits

How to Become Debt Free

In our world of instant gratification and “buy now, pay later,” debt has become a chronic problem for many consumers. It’s far too easy to rack up a mountain of debt—and can be far too difficult to get out from underneath it. However, “difficult” is not the same as “impossible,” and there are steps individuals can start taking now to end their frivolous spending and begin working toward freedom from debt.

If you’re ready to learn how to become debt free, then keep reading!

Sit down right now, today, and take honest stock of your debts, your bills, and your income.

Continue reading
  2199 Hits

Money Management for Kids

Habits are hard to break—so help your children form good financial habits now that will stay with them throughout their lives.

Lessons in money management for kids can be started very early. Even when children are small, important principles can be taught in ways they can understand and retain. Keep reading to find out more!

Financial Lessons—Good and Bad—Start Early

According to experts, kids as young as 3 are capable of understanding financial concepts, such as spending and saving. If that statistic doesn’t spur parents into action, then this one might: studies show that financial habits are formed as early as age 7.

Continue reading
  1753 Hits

Getting By With a Single Parent Family Budget

Raising kids alone isn’t easy—but it can be done. Whether you’re widowed, divorced, or raising children alone for other reasons, you can get your finances on track with a single parent family budget.

Going from two incomes to one can be a shock to the system. Perhaps your significant other was the one who always worked. Whatever your personal circumstances, having a child in tow as you sort things out can be daunting—and there can be many financial stresses. But keep your chin up—you can get on top of things and work toward financial health. Below are some tips that will help you get started.

Create a Budget and Stick to It

If your significant other was the one who took care of finances, then you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed as you begin tackling the task yourself. The most important thing you can do is take honest stock of your finances and expenses and create a realistic budget. Make a list of all your bills, calculate how much they are, and know when they are due each month. After that, list your income and figure out which bills need to be paid with which paycheck. If you get paid twice a month, for instance, then divide your bills into two sections—one for each paycheck.

Continue reading
  1775 Hits

The Latest Tax Scams and How to Avoid Them

Even the savviest consumer may fall victim to sophisticated tax scams. Luckily, you can stay alert to the latest cons in order to avoid financial losses. CashMax has assembled a list of some of the most recent schemes to protect you and your wallet from con artists.

Email Scams

Many scam artists utilize email to seek out personal information through a practice known as "phishing." Though these emails may appear legitimate, be cautious! Some emails contain links to viruses and malware that can harm your security. Here are some tax scams to look out for:

  • Taxpayer Advocacy Groups: Scam artists may pose as real organizations, like the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, in unsolicited emails. However, the actual panel will not ask for your personal information.
  • W-2 Scams: Human Resource departments should be cautious of false emails from executives who request Social Security numbers from employees. Be sure to double check with personnel and alert the IRS if you encounter such a scam.
  • False Updates: If you receive an email to update your IRS e-file, then do not click on the links. The IRS will not contact you for personal or financial information through emails.

Telephone Scams

Scammers may also contact you through the phone to request personal information. While many scam artists used aggressive methods in the past, modern tactics may be more subtle. Here are some of the latest scams that have been reported:

  • Tax Refunds: Scam artists may promise a tax refund, but ask to verify personal information through the phone. Avoid giving out credit cards and Social Security numbers to unknown callers.
  • IRS Impersonators: Be wary if anyone calls requesting immediate payment, such as prepaid cards and wire transfers. Callers may provide names and badge numbers, but true IRS agents will never make threats or demands. True IRS agents will also mail a bill to the taxpayer and provide opportunity for appeals.

  1901 Hits

Learn the Simple Steps for Creating a Wedding Budget

If you want to plan a dream wedding without breaking the bank, then creating a wedding budget can provide peace of mind for the big day. While budgeting may not seem like the most exciting step in the planning process, a sensible budget can actually save the happy couple time and stress while making arrangements. You'll have the power to prioritize exactly what you want, while saving a few dollars on less essential services. So, where should you begin?

Creating a Wedding Budget

Setting your budget can be a great way to kick off the wedding planning process. Here are a few tips that couples can use when estimating costs:

  • Research: Do your homework to find out what services cost in your desired wedding location. What can you expect to pay for a photographer or florist? What about rental costs for different venues? Speak with a variety of experts to get a better idea of what to expect, and don't forget to request printed price lists.
  • Funding: Find out who will be paying for the event. Will you foot the bill alone, or have family members offered to provide financial help? This will help you estimate your potential budget.
  • Prioritize: Dig deep to determine what matters the most on your big day, whether it's a dazzling gown or terrific catering. These pieces will receive the bulk of your budget. Also, determine which elements may be less important for your wedding experience. While it's valuable to create a realistic budget, flexibility is also a major asset. Don't be afraid to tweak your figures as you go.

Additional Tips

Proper timing can save you unexpected dollars while planning the wedding. Between January and April, wedding services are more likely to offer lower priced deals. If you dream of a fall wedding, then consider November as an alternative to costlier September and October ceremonies.

Continue reading
  1606 Hits