Thursday, November 24, 2011

Get the Life Insurance That Fits You and Your Family

Potential life insurance policy buyers need to know the features of the various types of programs available in the market and the benefits of each type of plan and compare these advantages against their own lifestyle and financial commitments in order to ensure they buy a policy that fits them.
This is because for some people whole life insurance policies may offer extensive coverage, but at higher than average premium rates and they can afford it; but, for others, who can't quite meet the monthly payments required for this type of policy, opting for term life insurance may be a better deal.

So, it is a good idea to get proper knowledge and guidance from professional finance advisors if possible, before buying a policy in order to determine which one fits your financial commitments for both current times and future needs.

If it is not possible to hire the services of a professional finance expert, then going online and searching through various websites giving specialized information about various life insurance companies is the best route to purchasing the perfect insurance policy.

Reading up the various online guides to life insurance buying available on financial websites also enables insurance shoppers to get the basics of different types of policies and select the appropriate coverage amount according to their budget.

Once buyers have ascertained current and future financial responsibilities and what their dependents will require in order to lead an economically secure life, they are in a better position to choose the best policy.

The best policy is always one that offers provisions for additional benefits, such as flexible payments, cash benefits and adjustment in policy features afterward (e.g. if their financial situations changes and they want to increase coverage, how they can do so is explained to them and is an option that is open for the variable policy owner to choose from).

So, in order to get the insurance that fits you best, as a potential coverage buyer, you need to learn how much coverage and for how much time do you need this protection, after evaluating your personal financial situation. For example, those having no dependents may not really require insurance just like those who don't produce a major percentage of the family's income. But, if you have dependents who are surviving on your income and you are paying for the mortgage, any recurring bills, or want kids to have a college, all of which are big expenses, then insurance that meets these financial obligations of you, in the event of your death, is a handy tool for providing benefits to your family after you are no longer there to take care of them yourself.

Finding a Good House for Your Family Based On Your Budgets

Finding a good house that completely fits your budget may be hectic for you. Sometimes it's not the place you prefer to own and sometimes it's the money you don't have to invest in. but owning a new home is your necessity and you want to invest the limited amount of money you have to get a new home for you and your family.

Today at the time of competitive business world all can be achieved at the affordable price. With some research and patience you can find your dream home at your budget. You require doing some home work and find some better resources. Internet is a great place to get the help you want for anything. You can buy anything from a needle to a home on internet. There are many of local companies and real estate agents you can find online that can help you in finding your home.

The first step will be your finances. You should have an idea of what you are going to invest and what you actually want to have for this. You should also figure out your family necessity which will be increasing in the near future. It is therefore suggested that you find the home bit spacious which will be comfortable for you at present and in near future.

Getting in contact with a real estate agent is must for you if you do not have any idea about the paper work and documents that you are going to have. Owning a home will require lots of paper work for you and you should have a person with you that can understand it completely so that you do not get into any trouble.

5 Reasons Why Working a Job You Hate Will Kill You! (And Your Family)

We have all heard how stress can really create havoc in our lives. But did you know that working at a job you can't stand is not just hurting you but your kids as well? That' right. Let me give you 5 reasons why that job could mean future and present disaster.
Acute Stress Turns Your Body Into a Yo-Yo
A service review of your department will take up the next 4 days. You're going to have to pull 12 hours of overtime to get ready. The boss teams you with the most annoying co-worker. This kind of stress will pass. After the service review, you'll release the stress and all will be well. If this kind of drama happens frequently, your body's functions will bounce and stress levels will return to normal after each occurrence. This could eventually lead to some chronic illness.

Chronic Stress Squeezes You Until You Break 
Your temples throb as you attempt to ignore the blurred vision. You're working on 3 projects with 72 hour dead lines. The headaches, vision and indigestion are on-going problems for you. If this situation continues, a myriad of difficulties could start to overwhelm you including, but not limited to, high blood pressure, depression, acne, back pain, muscle pain, insomnia etc.

Stress Causes Early Drainage of Savings and 401Ks 
When you stress yourself out by working a job you don't enjoy, you decrease your productive years. The fewer years you can work, the shorter time to compile cash to live on for your retirement. Retiring because of illness causes not only a shortage of funds but puts a strain on your family's time and finances.

Stress Changes Kids from the Inside Out 
Children are resilient. They appear to come out of tough times without a scratch. But stress is different. Even these little ones are not able to totally wash away the affects. A children exposed to chronic stress will begin to experience strain on their internal organs. This can present as attention problems, frequent colds or frequent stomach aches.

Stress Changes Your Kids Immune System Permanently

It has been proven a child's immune system having been compromised by stress early in life does not return to normal. The immune system will remain in jeopardy even when the stress has been removed for a long period of time.

Now how many reasons do you need to start taking care of yourself and your family and living your dreams?

Declaring Financial Independence for Yourself and Your Family

I'm sure you have noticed the plethora of advertisements on the TV and in radio and print media hawking various companies and their ability to facilitate you taking control of your own finances.
What is the offer here? You send your assets to them and they will welcome you as a customer. After that, it is all up to you. I'll be one of the first to admit taking and having control over any piece of your life is an attractive and desirable pitch. I will tell you it is not universally advantageous for everyone or for every reason.

If it were, I should buy a lot of ads enticing you to take control of your own car repairs. You send me the title to your car and in return I give you access to some tools for a quarterly fee and you decide yourself how to use them. I would give you, yes you, a power you never had before; to diagnose, chose repair parts, and install them (in your spare time?).

Would this be the way you would like to keep your vehicle, maintain it, and ensure it's safe operation? This is a twisted marketing tactic and you should take it for what it is worth - nothing. Now, if you are involved in a dedicated hobby of economic, stock, bond, derivative, benchmark, allocation, fundamental, and technical analysis over hundreds of companies and an increasing number of countries then maybe you will choose that hobby over enjoying the outdoors, your children and grandchildren, gardening, bird watching, boating, or maybe even reading for enjoyment.

The investment world is a dynamic and complicated place. You can still make all the decisions. (Never allow a broker or firm to have discretion over your nest egg.) Your broker should spend time to educate you and explain where you are, ask you where you would like to be, and your desire to leave a legacy (or not).

After they know this and more, their advice to you will be right for you and your family. The cost for this type of service is far less than the percentage tip you pay at you favorite restaurant or barber/hair salon. What is even better, your returns over going it alone will likely sail past your independent choices. This will more than compensate you for choosing to hire someone who gets up everyday and goes to work (just like you), and who's job is tapping into the best advice and hiring the top money managers in the country - for your benefit.

So the next time you see an offer to declare your financial independence, or never pay anything for a fee on a mutual fund, ask yourself how long you wish to spend each day on your back under your car, with your rented tools, working with parts you won't be certain were installed correctly or were the right choice for your vehicle.

Cheap Holidays, Saving Your Family Finance

Cheap holidays can be an outstanding offer for the people who are planning a holiday trip with their loves ones or family. As the name suggests, you can now easily avail a wonderful holiday package at cheaper rates. There are numerous holiday destinations in the whole world. You can select any holiday location as per your convenience and desire.
Various travel agencies are available in the market which offer you cheap holidays benefit. However, the terms and facilities provided by them may differ. So, you have to research the market carefully and need to compare different holiday packages conveniently to grab the best one, suiting your needs and budget.
In the cheap holidays packages the cheap flights and cheap hotels deals are included. Therefore, now you need not have to waste your time in booking them separately. You will get a chance to book air tickets in best flights and rooms in luxury hotels at a pocket friendly price.

The best way to book holiday deals at cheaper rates is through extremely popular online traveling sites. Online price comparison facility helps you to fetch cheap holidays package in a hassle free and convenient manner. Online holiday package booking process is also really very easy and fast. You just have to tell your holiday destination, departure date and time, the most suitable holiday package deal will be arranged for you in a very less time and that too without burning a hole in your pocket.
Moreover, online you will be able to find advance as well as last minute cheap holidays packages deals. In fact, online traveling sites provides you travel guide facility, in which you can find detailed information of all holiday destinations including famous attractions, pubs, nightlife, food, shopping places etc. This helps you to plan your holiday trip in a suitable way.
In addition to that, traveling sites and agencies will offer you details of flights, its schedules and departure and arrival time. Also, you can find a long list of hotels deals.
Therefore, with such beneficial offers you can certainly make your holiday trip affordable as well as well-organized.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Family Budgeting Secrets - Three Top Tips You Must Know

Here are three easy tips to get you started. If you want to ensure that your success is guaranteed, it's worth taking a look. After all, if you've done the hard work to start, you really do want to succeed now, don't you!

Secret One

Because this is a vital step for you, your first family budgeting secret to success is to have a vision for what you want at the end of it. For some it might be that debt is eliminated real fast. For others it might be to save for a glorious family vacation later in the year.

It could be to set up a college fund for the future. Whatever it is, a clear and well understood goal, which is of interest to the whole family, really will focus you all to get going and to stick to the budget you have worked so hard to create.

For secret two, you have to get deep down and honest with yourself. This where it gets to be a little uncomfortable (though by doing this step, you will set yourself up for real and sustainable success in your budgeting).

This secret is about analyzing very clearly where you are spending your money. Don't give yourself a hard time - just be ruthlessly honest with yourself, to make sure that the starting line is a very good basepoint.

Remember, you will only make progress in your family budgeting if you behave how you mean to go on - so by letting yourself be fully truthful with the current situation, it will be onwards and upwards from now on for you - and your family.

Secret Three

We've found two hugely valuable secrets so far and the third one is even better! Taking full account of your spending will highlight the impact any debts you owe has on your budget as a whole. It can be quite a scary place to go - that black hole of realizing what debt is doing to you and your family.

Here's a special tip then.

As you see how much you are spending and notice opportunities to tighten up, put some of that saved money - however small, into reducing any debts you have. Pick the debts that are costing you most first of all and even if it is only a sliver you can spare, make sure you do - because it will give you the confidence to do even more. Making the difference where so many fail to.

It's as simple as 1-2-3. Steps you can take, one at a time, to progress the security and financial well-being of your family. Let's first enjoy that you have gotten this far at all - so many families just don't. The three steps are your route to successfully developing, with your family, the ways to the future financial success of your family.

And, ultimately of course, their happiness too.

No-one can make light of financial challenges. The view can look tough from where you sit now. It's time for action to change things if they have gotten stuck.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Financing College Studies With Home Equity

Home equity provides an incredible source of funds that can be good enough to finance college studies. With home equity loans you can get better loan terms due to the secured nature of these loans. Compared to unsecured student loans, they provide a much better source of funds and incredibly better loan conditions.

Home Equity Loans

Home equity is the difference between the value of the property guaranteeing a loan and the outstanding debt that the asset is already being used as collateral for. For instance: if you have a property with a market value of $100,000 and a mortgage guaranteed by it with an outstanding balance of $45,000, this means that there is still $55,000 worth of equity left on your home. And this amount can be used to guarantee another loan with a similarly low interest rate.

Home equity loans have the lowest rates on the loan market only matched by home loans and subsidized loans that can be a little lower. Also, they have other advantageous terms like higher loan amounts, longer repayment programs that can reach up to 15 years or more and resulting lower monthly payments that make these loan incredibly affordable.

Home Equity Loans For Financing College Studies

You may wonder: why use a home equity loan as a student loan? The answer is rather simple: Home equity loans constitute one of the cheapest sources of funds on the loan market and also provide high loan amounts compared to all kind of loans. There are of course more suitable loan instruments for this purpose like subsidized student loans or federal student loans. However, when qualification for these loans is not possible, home equity loans are an excellent alternative that can result less onerous than regular private student loans.

Moreover, these loans can also be the perfect complement for federal loans when federal loans can't provide enough money for financing all college expenses. Home equity loans provide higher loan amounts and thus can finance a whole career on their own. But if you get better loan terms on federal loans or private subsidized loans, you can supplement the funds provided by them with a small home equity loan so as to cover for any additional expenses.

Also, since these loans can provide longer repayment programs than the average student loan, you can thus obtain lower monthly payments that can make the loan repayment significantly more affordable. Moreover, parents can finance college studies and their children can afford the whole or part of the monthly payments with a part-time job without difficulties.

All these characteristics make home equity loans a good alternative when traditional financial sources for college studies are out of reach. Thus, they should be taken into consideration among the other options and pondered to see which alternative best suits your needs and budget.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Finessing Finances Through Fatherhood

Fatherhood can really put a strain on your finances. To begin with, there is an additional mouth to feed. Second, you have probably just received a huge pay cut (in yours and your wife's combined income) and then there are all the other new expenses which continue to come up. Nursery furniture, nappies, toys, safety devices, baby clothes, medical expenses.  The future does not look too bright on the financial front either, when you consider things like school fees, pocket money and the inexhaustible list of expenses which children create.
From my recent experiences, I thought I'd put together a Fatherhood Finance Cheat Sheet.  So here it is.  4 ways you can finesse your way through the financial challenges of fatherhood.
1. Check Through Your Subsciptions
I found that I had subscribed to a bunch of services I was not using anymore.  So I did some house-cleaning and cancelled all those which were frivolous or not being used.  This alone saved me about $100 per month.
2. Check Your Service Providers
Do you have services such as telephone, internet or pay TV that are out of contract? If so, do some shopping. Look for a better deal. You will probably find an offer out there that will give you more for less. In my case, I found a mobile phone deal which provided me with more free monthly phone calls for half the price. I saved $30 per month. They also gave me a free iPhone as part of the deal.
3. Check Your Debts
This is a tough one, many people find it difficult to manage debt. Review your debt portfolio, do you have debt from many sources? This includes credit cards.

3a) Eliminate Debt If Possible
Look at the smallest debt. Can you completely pay it off without too much hardship? If so, do it. Then look at the next smallest one and repeat. The problem with multiple debts is they all have their minimum payment requirements. If you can eliminate your small ones, you can quickly free up cash (by removing these minimum payments) which can be used for family.
3b) Consolidate Debt If Possible
Look at your cheapest debt. (the one with the lowest interest rate) Can you approach the provider and ask them to take more of your business, by buying out your other debts. If so, do it. This will give you two benefits. By consolidating many small debts into one large debt, you will reduce your minimum monthly payments, freeing up cash for family. If you do it in a way that reduces your average (across your debts) interest rate, you will save money over the life of the debts.
4. Use Ebay Where Possible
You do not have to buy new baby things all the time. Babies grow so fast, they rarely wear anything out, be it toys, clothes or furniture. There is a massive market for second hand baby gear on eBay. You will save a fortune.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How Does A Single Parent Finance the Family?

Today, in most two-parent families, mothers work outside of the home. Yet, there are more children living in poverty in America. It is believed that families need two incomes to maintain a marginal middle-class lifestyle. Two-parent families have financial difficulties, but this is nothing compared to the abject poverty suffered in single-parent families. Families are making more money today than fifty years ago, yet the average median income for the family has fallen. Inflation, family assistance, and the disparity between high and low-wage earners may explain the major decline in the national median income. America's middle class is rapidly disappearing.
Money can be a source of power over single parents. Traditionally, men earn twice as much as women. In a divorce, many women keep the kids while the men keep the money. Divorce courts across the nation have responded with adequate child support mandates, but have had trouble getting payments to the custodial parent. Nonpayment of child support is a major reason that millions of children live in deep poverty.
Delinquent parents in New York have been threatened with driver's license revocation for not paying their child support. In 1995, almost a half-million children in New York were owed child support. Additionally, the state of New York posted "Wanted" posters with pictures of parents that owed the most back child support. When delinquent parents do not support their children, taxpayers pick up the tab through bloated welfare rolls, exploding Medicaid bills, housing assistance, Aid for Dependent Children, food stamps, and food charities. Almost one-half of America's families receive some sort of assistance. That means they are not paying taxes, either.

America sends a mixed message to career mothers when they are stereotyped as not having enough time for the kids. Yet, society expects mothers on subsistence to work. All parents single, divorced or married simply must have rock-solid child care plans. These plans should cover normal, everyday supervision as well as sick-kid child care. Divorce courts must put the needs and interests of the children first when separating property and custody.
Teens can learn valuable lessons from financial hardship of the single parent family. Teenagers that have everything handed to them grow up to the rude awakening that everything they want is not going to magically appear when they are adults. Teens of single parent families know all about abject poverty. Their help at home is enlisted from the beginning and together they and their single parent can work for a future in a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

3 Tips to Run the Family Finance

In any contemporary society, three classes of couples could be identified, namely: the salary earning, the self-employed and the one employed/other self-employed couples respectively.
The Salary Earning Couple -The salary earning couple simply means that both the husband and his wife are gainfully employed either as public servants or factory workers. In this case, their income is fixed, prompt and regular, too.
The Self-Employed Couple -The self-employed couples are into private business either jointly or severally. In this case their income may not be fixed, prompt and regular.
The One Employed/Self-Employed Couple -One of these couple is gainfully employed with a fixed, prompt and regular income. The other is into a private business wit a non-fixed, non-prompt and irregular income.
The Ideal Status
Irrespective of above classes of couple, it is ideal that the husband's income be higher than that of his wife as the bread-winner of the home, according to the biblical stand point. A husband would stand his grounds where he does not shy away from his financial obligations and responsibilities to his wife. He must not be among the class of husbands who cleverly shift their financial responsibilities on their wives.
However, most women, by virtue of their educational status and parental influence earn more than their husbands either as business merchants or public servants. It is not biblically ideal for a husband to be under the control, influence or manipulations of his wife's finances. Nevertheless, he should not be too spiritual or envious that he rejects here financial assistance. Most women are tenderhearted, merciful, generous, loving and caring. They could give everything they have to their husbands, shouldering his financial responsibilities but on the condition of trust.

The financial management responsibilities in a Christian home are the exclusive preserve of the husband but not without his wife. They should make their budget and agree on their expenditure not as individuals but a couple.
Budgeting is not only vital but also essential to effective Financial Management in a Christian Home. This budget includes items such a Tithes, Feeding Allowance, Rents, Electricity and Telephone Bills, Transport, Fuel and Maintenance of the car, waste Disposal, Children's Allowance, Savings and others. Budgeting allows for the allocation of sufficient funds to each of the items. The husband could keep labeled envelopes for each item. The wife must conduct a market research prior to the family budget to compare the prices of items to buy, having the overview of the market situation as it affects or may affect their budget.
Restricted Expenditure
A Christian couple must live within their income. They should not borrow except for capital expenditure. God's commandment in this respect as contained in Deuteronomy 15.6 is that: "you will lend unto many nations but you will not borrow." Ellen G White in her counsel on Stewardship wrote, as follows: "Many, very many, have not so educated themselves that they can keep their expenditure within the limit of their income. They do not learn to adapt themselves to circumstances, they borrow and borrow again and again and become overwhelmed in debt, and consequently they become discouraged and disheartened. We should be on guard, and not allow ourselves to spend money upon that which is not necessary, and simply for display. We should not permit ourselves to indulge in tastes that lead us to pattern after the customs of the world, and rob the treasury of the Lord."
Several marriages ended up in divorce because of greed and lack of budgeting. For example, a civil servant on grade level 03 would buy an elegant food flask in the month of January, latest shoe design in February, expensive attire in March and so on, throughout the year. At the end of it all, he would argue that any civil servant, irrespective of his level, who succeeds in life, is a pen-robber!
Family Finance -Planning and Policy
The income of a Christian couple is better managed, using the economic tool of a scale of preference, with a clear boundary between the family needs and wants. It could come under the following Financial Policies:
Subsistence Economic Policy -In this home, all members of the family, including the children live on wages. They all contribute directly or not, to the Family Economy. For example, the child may have to play the gardener for a living in the home. As a girl, she may play the Nanny or Sales girl or something else!
Socialist Economic Policy -In this home, the couple, with or without other members of the family, contribute equally or otherwise to the upkeep of the home., Decisions as regards the family expenditure are taken by one partner on behalf of the other. The husband and his wife are joint owners of the family heritage.
Capitalist Economic Policy -In this home, there is a sharp division between the breadwinner and other members of the family. Usually, the husband is the breadwinner of the home. He dictates what should be bought, why, when and how! He makes sufficient provision for his home, without having to look up to his wife for any form of financial support. He sets up a business for her with the expectation of returns via the preparation of sumptuous meals, beautification of the living room and the meeting of other variable needs.
Communist Accounting Policy -In recent times, there has been a widespread propagation of the "common purse" or "joint account" policy of effective money management in a Christian home. Some couples have practiced this policy successfully while others have failed.
The Need to Tithe
Christian couples that desire to have surplus budget must be obedient to God's commandment on tithes and offering. It should be the couple's priority to separate one tenth of their gross income as God's rightful due. In Malachi 3.8-11, it is explicitly stated that non-tithers are robbers of God's treasury who are under the curse of poverty, lack and want! The biblical reason why many Christians toil fruitlessly is because of their disobedience to this commandment.
"You have sown much, and harvested little: you eat but you never have enough: you drink, but you never have your fill: you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into bag of have looked for much, and lo, it came to little, and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? Says the Lord of hosts". Because of my house that lies in ruins while you busy yourselves each with his own house -Haggai 1.4-11
The Need To Save
The problem with some Christian couple is in their inability to save for their future. This is due either to insufficient income or wrong interpretation of Matthew 6.19 that: Do not keep up for yourselves treasures on earth. In both cases, these couples are wrong. In the first instance, if they could not save Ten Dollars out of every Hundred Dollars earned as income today, it will be impossible for them to save Fifty Dollars out of every One Thousand Dollars they might earn tomorrow. In the other instance, not laying up treasures here on earth does not refer to savings.
Treasure is a vested and acquired wealth or property in which one's interests and desire incline to. Savings is something that can be conveniently put away for a period of time and for a raining day. Our world is full of uncertainties. Erosion, flood or fire disaster may destroy lives and properties. The child could be sick of fever. Parents, friends, or relations could make financial demands. Above all, the Church could call on us to give to charity and the cause of evangelism. Ellen G. White wrote that "We sin against ourselves when we are satisfied with enough to eat and drink and wear. God has something higher than this before us. Even though they may be poor, the couple who is industrious and economical can save a little for the cause of God, success and charity."
It is not sinful to save. It can be sinful not to save. One hindrance to savings by the above stated couple is their faith in the belief that this present world would come to an end abruptly someday. But their ignorance is in the fact that this someday may not come in the next one hundred years! In this instance their savings would be a preparation for their old age. Also, other Christian partners and missionaries would need our savings for the continuous propagation of the gospel prior to the arrival of Jesus Christ.
Three vital questions to savings are: when should one start to save, how much should one save and, by what method?
1. Start to save as soon as you collect your first allowance. Salary, wage or gift. As a couple, begin the very first night of your wedding, especially with your wedding gifts and presents.
2. Save whatever you can conveniently put away, knowing that" little drops of water make a might ocean" Save at least five Dollars out of every fifty. Put aside a certain percentage of your income for a defined period of time to start a project, trade or purchase home equipment. For example, put away X Dollars every month for twelve months to buy a Refrigerator or Y Dollars monthly for twenty-five years, to build a house. It is possible!
3. Several other methods of savings include Property acquisitions. Buy don't sell. Buy radios, television and video sets. Buy Refrigerators and Air-conditioners. But make sure you invest in properties whose value appreciates. They should have second-hand value. Besides, they must be materials that are needed at home for production purposes, not for showmanship. Put money into a fixed account. Save (y) Dollars every month for twelve months and then transfer it into a fixed deposit for five or more years. Buy shares in growing companies. Take a policy with a reliable insurance company. Go for life policy, Education fund. Buy landed properties for resale at a later date. Buy and refurbished cars for sale. However, be cautious. Do not save more than you can conveniently afford. Striving to save two thousand Dollars out of an income of Five Thousand Dollars may be frustrating!

Friday, August 19, 2011

5 Ways to Take Back Your Finances

Lately I've been meeting women who have found themselves in precarious financial positions for surprising reasons. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Liz just found out that her family is broke because of some bad investment decisions her husband has made. Rita recently got divorced and although the family was 'living the life' before the divorce, she received very little in child support and is living off savings. Or Lori, who just lost her husband - he managed all the family finances, and now she finds herself drowning in paperwork (and a little scared)!

It's bad enough when financial crisis happens, but when one partner is fully unaware - it's even worse. Many households divvy up family chores to make life easier on everyone. But, finances should always be a family event. Here are 5 things to do now to keep your family on track, and making better financial decisions!

5. Get your credit report

Not everyone realizes that your credit report is just that - yours and yours alone. There is no such thing as a joint credit report. You can get a copy of your report for free, from each of the three agencies, once per year through Check the report for anything that looks unfamiliar - these are red flags that something is going on with your credit without your knowledge.

4. Read your tax return

Sound difficult? It doesn't have to be. While understanding your whole tax return might seem a bit complex, start out by becoming familiar with some of the most important numbers to see if they pass the "reality test" with you. Check the Wages (line 7) and the Ordinary dividends (line 9), and Capital gains or (losses) (line 13) - do these pass the smell test? How have they changed over the years? If something seems odd, you have every right to follow-up on it.

3. Save now for your future

Sometimes the biggest loser in a financial crisis is your retirement! Avoid this by funding your IRA or retirement plan at work each year. Even if you do not work outside of the house, you can generally contribute to an IRA and you should be saving for your future. This money cannot be taken from you without your permission and is generally protected from creditors. The same is true for your college funding. Each year, contribute to your children's 529 plans. Once again, this money is rarely touched for creditors or a divorce settlement. Therefore it should be there when you need it most. (It also makes a great deduction on your taxes in many states.)

2. Become familiar with your investments

Review all of your current investments with your spouse. Realize, as you go through this step, that most families with average, or even above average assets, do not need to go far to find the right investments. For most of us, the basic bank accounts plus some mutual funds will meet our investment needs well into the future. For that matter, betting on a less-well-known fund company is generally a bit riskier than the tried and true big mutual fund companies. These companies are under much more scrutiny, and are much more transparent than the smaller companies - and they offer everything you need at a reasonable price. The lesson here is: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't go out on a limb unless you truly know how to evaluate an investment.

1. Sit down together and set goals

Honestly, how often do we do this? As husband and wife, probably with a few children, we fly through life and generally let it take us for a ride. We rarely sit back and think about where we see ourselves in five or ten years and direct our actions towards those goals.

The breadwinner in the family can sometimes feel an unnecessary pressure to over-provide for the family. This can cause him or her to take unnecessary risks with investments or overextend the family finances. Sitting down once a year to set the record straight on spending and saving expectations can put these fears to rest and reset priorities in a way that relieves the pressure.

Each of the steps listed above are ideas to get you and your spouse on the same page with investments. Making sure your money is working hard for you is central to helping your family meet your future goals - whether they're retiring early or buying a boat or starting a new business. When you plan your future as a family, you're sure to get there faster!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Self Discipline Is Not All You Need For Healthy Finances

Recently, someone told me "if I only had more discipline, I could get ahead financially". What struck me as odd was this person recently retired from the US Marine Corps. How much more discipline could this person possible have. Then it occurred to me that perhaps discipline was not the only thing we need for stronger healthier personal finances. Perhaps self discipline only contributes to a small percentage of our financial success. Here is what I found:
-- You need the RIGHT tools --
I love watching commercials on TV. Recently there was a commercial that portrayed a man who was showing off the handcrafted framing hammer his dad had given him as a gift. But would he use it to frame a house? Of course not! He help up the most powerful nail gun I had ever seen and proudly proclaimed this is what it truly takes to get the job done.
What tools will you use in your personal household management? Would you build a deck with a table knife and plastic screwdriver? Would you hammer a nail with a pipe wrench or the sole of your shoe? Will you spend your hard earned money without a plan or a purpose?
-- You need the RIGHT budget --
To begin with you need a good working monthly budget. Not just any budget. Most budgets never work or are very frustrating to use. If you use the wrong budget you might as well saw wood with a table knife. Boy, will your hand hurt after awhile.

I prefer to use a monthly cash spending plan called a "zero based budget". It is simple, easy to use and it works every time. It can be done on paper or inside of an MS-Excel spreadsheet. First, put your income (take home pay) at the top. Second, set a little aside for giving and saving for emergencies. Third, pay all your basic expenses such as housing, food, transportation and clothing. Last pay your credit card debt and miscellaneous expenses. Spend **every** dollar. Your income minus your expenses MUST equal zero or you have to go back a reallocate somewhere. Do one cash spending plan for every month. Every month is different so don't try to make that ghastly unrealistic magic budget that you will never be able to make work.
-- You need the RIGHT cash management system --
Want to give yourself a 12-18% raise without increasing your current salary by one penny? Use cash! When you use actual cash (not your credit card, debit card or ATM card) you will spend 12-18% less and feel greater control of your finances and your life. You will not starve or do without. Though it may not hurt a few of us to go on a diet, you will not suffer any ill effects.
The cash envelope system has been around for decades. It was most commonly used in the 1930's and 1940's. For example, Joe and Suzy would sit down at their kitchen table the first of every month. They would take Joe's paycheck, cash it and distribute the money into several envelopes. They had one envelope for their rent or mortgage, one for gas and electric, one for vacation, one envelope for gas for their car, one for groceries, and one envelope for eating out, and so on. They spent only out these envelopes and if the envelope was empty they did without or transferred money from another envelope. This is by far the simplest and most effective budgeting system known today. A modified version of this system is now being taught by consumer financial education specialists and is used by families today.
-- You need the RIGHT mindset -
Personal values and principles play a large role in healthy personal finances. From our values and principle we derive our boundaries. Would you feed your children only candy and ice cream at all hours of the day or night as they demanded? Of course not.
Our local electronics store has to mop their floor every night. They have to mop the saliva and scuff marks from in front of the huge 47 inch plasma TVs. Customers come into the store, skid to a stop in front of the big televisions sets and salivate all over the floor. It happens all the time. Our inner child comes out to play when we least expect it.
So, why do we allow our inner child to tantrum every time we go to the local store, car dealership, gold pro shop, or restaurant? Ok, you may think I am hitting a little below the belt here and perhaps I am. But think about it. That grocery store kid that lives inside of us needs just as much love and care our external kids. We need to establish and hold ourselves true to the same healthy boundaries that we would impose on those around us.
Don't be confused. A boundary is not the same as self discipline. A boundary is simply a line that we will not cross and that we will respect. We establish boundaries all the time. Self discipline is the commitment to stay true to our boundaries, values and principles. Many have all the self discipline they will ever need. In fact, we have all the discipline there is in the world today. What many lack is the understanding of our boundaries.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Family Finances - A Role For Both Spouses

Dad mows the yard, cooks all the meals, and handles all repair jobs. Mom does all the grocery shopping, is in charge of taxiing the kids to their 'practice du jour', and takes care of the laundry.
Division of household duties such as these sounds all too common these days. In most cases, the handling of family finances falls to a particular spouse as well. However, when it comes to the family finances, it is imperative that both spouses play a role. If not, the result could be a devastating blow when a spouse is left to pick up the pieces.
The primary risk faced by a household which has one spouse managing the family financial affairs alone is that the other spouse is left completely in the dark. Being the financial decision maker in the family, if something were to happen to you would your spouse be able to step in and manage the family wealth? More times than not, the death of a spouse is the immediate situation people think of. But the same can be said about being a spouse of a soldier being sent half way around the world for the next year, or someone who is too ill to continue handling the family finances. Even if you expect your spouse will turn to a financial planner or advisor for help when you are not available, will your spouse even know where to look for such help much less what questions to ask?

Taking a proactive approach to bringing your spouse up to speed on your family's finances will pay huge dividends in case the time comes when you are not around to assist. Most financial advisors will agree that there are six questions your spouse needs to be able to answer regarding your family's financial picture.
1. Who Do I Need To Contact?
This first step is the most critical. Your spouse needs to have a well prepared list drawn up for him or her listing your important contacts. These include, but are not limited to, financial planners, accountants, attorneys, insurance agents, and bankers. Anybody who has a role, as slight as it may seem, in your family's finances needs to be on this list. For each person on the list you should include their names, company names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses. A brief overview of what each one of these individuals has done for your family would be beneficial as well.
2. Where Is Everything Located?
Your next step is to outline what assets are held and where they are held. These assets include not only any personal investment accounts, but also company retirement accounts and insurance policies. Other documents of equal importance are your wills and ancillary documents, such as your Power of Attorney documents and Living Will. If you currently do not have these documents in place, it is critical you do so as soon as possible.
Organization is critical. A well-organized filing system will lighten the already mounting stress felt by your spouse or loved ones forced to pick up where you left off. Start by creating folders for each investment and bank account, estate planning documents, insurance polices, etc. and be cognizant in what information is contained in each. For example you will want to keep investment account statements and trade confirmations, but you can throw away annual reports, prospectuses, and marketing material. With insurance policies you will want to keep the policy statement that is currently in force, but you can throw away older policies that have lapsed.
Once this has been done, consider creating a master directory that lists all of your accounts and account numbers, names and numbers to the appropriate contact person, any website addresses and login/password information to gain access to your accounts. Store this information in an ultra-safe place such as a home safe, safe deposit box at your bank, or in a password-protected file on your computer (and make sure your spouse knows that password!).
3. How Are We Doing Financially?
Your spouse does not need to know about every trade you make and every stock you may own; however, you should sit down as a couple from time to time and review your current financial picture. How much do you have now and how much of that is liquid (how easily can it be converted to cash in an emergency) are just a few items to discuss. Are you on track to reach your shared goals? If not, what steps need to be taken now to get you pointed in the right direction?
Deciding how much to spend, save and invest each month is a basic discussion that every family needs to have, and both partners should be involved in those decisions. There is a saying: It is best to discuss your finances on the 1st than to argue about them on the 31st.
4. In What Order Should I Access Our Assets?
While some of your assets can be accessed at any time, drawing on other assets may result in unnecessary fees, penalties and taxes. Your spouse needs to know which accounts and assets to tap into first should the need arise. He or she will need to know which assets are more liquid and those that are not. The standard rule of thumb is you will want to have at least three to six months of living expenses in a highly-liquid account for emergencies. Ideally, this will be held in savings accounts, money market funds, or certificate of deposits (CDs). If you are retired and are dependant on your portfolios for living expenses, a good target to shoot for is two to three years of living expenses in highly liquid accounts.
5. Who Do I Turn To For Help?
You may be the go-it-alone type when it comes to your investments and family finances, but it may be unrealistic to expect your spouse to follow in your footsteps. It can't hurt to assume the possibility that your spouse will be in need of a financial planner or advisor. Start asking your friends and co-workers if they are working with an advisor or could refer you to someone.
As with most professions, numerous professional designations exist in the field of financial planning. The most widely recognized is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation. Financial professionals who carry the CFP® designation have been educated and tested in all areas of financial planning, including estate, insurance, and tax planning - not just investments. Additionally, they must maintain a required amount of continuing education each year and adhere to a very strict code of ethics. Other designations in the industry include the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Certified Personal Accountant (CPA), and the Personal Financial Consultant (PFC), and most of these designations carry education and continuing education requirements as well to maintain the credential.
In the end, however, you will want to find a financial professional who shares your philosophies on life and your finances, and has experience working with others who have needs similar to yours. Professional designations are important; finding someone you trust is critical.
6. Where Can I Learn More?
Even with a financial planner or advisor in the wings, it is important for your spouse to know where to turn to build a basic foundation of financial literacy. For a spouse that is not used to finances, more times than not any book on basic investment and financial topics won't fall into the 'I just couldn't put it down' won't be a fun read. Having a handful of commonsense investment and personal financial planning books will, however, provide a lot of useful information in an easy-to-digest format. A few examples are The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias, and A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton G. Malkiel.
Another option to consider is taking a personal financial planning course at your local university or community college. Non-credential courses are very affordable and are offered at various times and days of the week to conform to your schedule. More importantly, it can provide enough information to make the transition from having never touched the checkbook to actually running the family finances much more seamless.
Nobody wants to think about life without their spouse. Not having your financial ducks in a row, along with a financially-educated spouse who will be able to pick up the baton and run, will only make the transition that much more difficult.....both emotionally and financially. Take the time to sit down together and start this indispensable process.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Family Budgeting - The 3 Key Secrets to Success

While there is some truth in the fact that it can prove to be a time consuming task that requires a little patience and diligence, it can result in many rewards. Here are just some of the basic secrets of success in creating your family budget.

Family Budgeting - Secret 1

The first secret of success when it comes to budgeting for the family, is to develop a goal (or more than one goal if you like!). Without a goal, or something to work towards, you will find that it is difficult to stay motivated enough to stick to your personal finance budget.

A goal that is appropriate to a family budget, may be something like, say, accumulating enough cash to pay off any outstanding debts; saving for a down payment on a home; buying a new family car even.

The choice is yours when it comes to setting goals, but it is a choice that must be made, to ensure success when it comes to disciplining yourself to a budget for your family.

Family Budgeting - Secret 2

The second secret to creating a successful family budget is making certain that you take the time to carefully outline all of your recurring expenses, as well as any other spending that you may take part in.

You will want to outline all of the money that goes out on a monthly basis, such as utility costs, mortgage and/or rent payments, and any type of insurance coverage that your family may have.

Once you have done this, it is important to take the time to create a detailed list of all the other spending that you engage in. This may include eating out, family entertainment, and various other expenses.

The whole idea is to get a glimpse of what you have coming in, and to ensure that what you have going out is relatively less.

Family Budgeting - Secret 3

The third way that you can create a successful family budget, is by ensuring that all of your previous debt is handled in an appropriate manner. If you are unable to completely cover the debt that you have, you should take the time to make certain that the budget that you create allots a certain amount towards those vital financial goals.

It really is not possible to step ahead until all of your previous steps have been covered. You should elect a certain percentage of your total income in order to do this. Once you have done this, you will find more and more funding becoming free for you to use towards your financial goals.

Once you have carefully outlined your goals, written down all of your spending and are committed to working off your past debts, you will find that creating a family budget that you can be successful at is not difficult at all!

It will take a little time, and quite a bit financial action and in the end, creating and delivering a successful family budget will be one of the most rewarding experiences that you can benefit from for many years to come!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Finances For Having a Baby

Summer brings more than just warm weather... it brings new life. More babies are born in July and August than in any other months of the year. Bringing a baby into the world can be one of the most fulfilling and exciting times for a family but, in the midst of the joy and excitement, don't forget about the financial responsibilities that go along with parenthood.
Here are some things new parents should do to ensure a sound financial future for themselves and their families.
1. Budget for your baby. Having a baby means a whole new financial plan has to be made. Hospital bills, taking leave from work, new furniture, and a bevy of baby necessities will soon put a big dent in your wallet. So, plan your spending accordingly. Will both parents work? Who will stay home? Will one income be enough? Ask yourself these questions and be sure of what your income will be.
2. Make a will. This allows you to designate not only how your possessions and finances are handled, but also who will be the guardian of your child in the event of your death. There are a number of online resources to help you with finances and planning, but it's best to consult with a lawyer.
3. Get life insurance. In the same vein as the will, you want to have something to leave your family if something should happen to you. You generally want to have enough to cover about 5 times your annual income. Depending on your job, you may also want to consider disability insurance.

4. Save for retirement before college. Some would think that the kid's college fund is more important. There are loans and scholarships to help with college tuition, but not for retirement. You can put your kid through college, but he or she may end up bearing the burden of your elder care because you'll be broke. You can still save for their college, but try to put 10% of your income towards retirement first and any extra money can go into the college fund. If necessary, you can withdraw money from a Roth IRA with no tax penalties if the money is used for college expenses.
Having a child will change your life. It will be a joy and, if not properly prepared, a financial burden. If your stork is on her way, now is the time to put a plan in place so that when your bundle of joy joins your family, you are financially prepared. A little planning for your family finances goes a long way.

Monday, June 6, 2011

5 Tips For Managing Your Family Finances Successfully

Day by day as inflation is increasing but real income decreases, it is important to make sure you have a plan to maximize your financial resources. With a plan like a family budget, this helps to ensure that every cent you earn is well spent.

When is the best time to do this? The answer is now. Now is the best time to start the process of looking over your family finances in terms of spending and savings. By taking time to access and setting up a budget can affect the way you use your income as well as helping you and your family to be on your way to economic stability.

In accessing your situation and planning a budget, there are many factors to be considered. Factors such as your source of income, lifestyle, spending habits, current jobs, cost of living, debts and loans. All these factors will determine your budget needs and how successful your budget will be.

Below are 5 tips and recommendation that will provide some details to you on how you can manage your family finances successfully. Hopefully with this you will look at budgeting differently and become more responsible in spending money.

1. Try your best to save as much as you can when you are doing your shopping. There are many ways to do this and one of them is to do comparison-shopping using the Internet before your usual shopping. You can also do that while you are shopping too. By practicing this as a habit, this will save you money in the long run.

2. Another tip is to purchase in bulk if possible. Then you can use coupons or wait for special sales or when the stores are offering discounts. Again you can do this online or make phone calls.

3. Do not gamble. This might seems obvious but it is a known fact that gambling is one main factor that causes financial ruins. Gambling not only waste your hard earned money but may even results in unpleasant legal action which eventually leads to bankruptcy over the long run.

4. Learn to differentiate what are your needs and wants. Always practice to limit your spending to things that you really need and not things considered as want. Studies had shown that luxuries are only second to gambling in terms of the money wasting capability.

However it does not mean that you cannot purchase things that you want. Just make sure that you had planned ahead for the said purchase and that the purchase does not over shoot your budget and laden you with debts.

5. Do not over spend. What this means is not to spend more than what you earned. Again this tip is very obvious but sometime we just do not heed what is obvious and logic. If you spend more than you earn, where will there be money left to save and invest? This is why making a budget is important.

With a budget, this will help you to consider the amount of the purchase and how it will impact your finances and life. Do take time to create your budget and as well to think before you buy and living within plus sticking to your budget will be easier.

Hopefully with the above 5 tips, you had found them useful so that you can successfully manage your family finances and be on your way to achieve your family financial goals.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Family & Marriage Finances 101 - The 14 Essentials Everyone Must Know

There are two words that are very closely synonymous with the two words 'family happiness' - those two words are 'family finances'! Notice I did not say 'family wealth' - happiness in a home, marriage, and family is most often directly correlated with the ability of the parents to properly manage (not necessarily accumulate) and budget their finances. It is unfortunately true that over 80% of all divorces result, in some way or another, because of finances. More tragic than the divorce is the fact that families are torn apart, children suffer, and society is feeling the negative ramifications of this all too common reality.

At the outset, it is absolutely important to note that the 14 essential principles described below are not designed to teach people how to accumulate wealth through the application of the principles described. The sole objective in revealing and explaining these principles if for one purpose - to help marriages and people everywhere experience the family happiness that results from the application of simple financial principles. Will applying these principles require effort and a change? Certainly! But does not everything good and worth while in life also require change and consistent effort?

Fortunately, with a little education, self-discipline, and effort, we truly can ensure that our 'family finances' result in 'family happiness.' May I suggest 14 ways on how to accomplish this:

1) Establish a budget and live within your means: First, do you even have a budget? If so, do you actually live by it? Do you actually record every expenditure, so that at the end of the month (when you sit down and go over finances ... right) you know where every penny has gone? At the end of the month as you look over the finances, did you purchase something you did not need? Stick to the budget and live within your means!

2) Never accumulate consumer debt: Do you know the difference between Good Debt vs. Consumer Debt? Good debt is when you have to borrow money for some type of an investment: a house, your education, or to start a business, etc. Consumer debt is simply purchasing anything on credit outside of these three areas. If you don't have the money to buy it - don't buy it!

3) Credit cards are NOT bad: Now, above on point 2 I mentioned to never purchase anything on credit you don't need or have money for. That does not mean you can't purchase your groceries or other expenditures on a credit card (in fact, I encourage you to do that). Using credit cards, properly, is essential to your financial success. What is the proper way to use a credit card? It is simple: never use more than 25% of the credit limit, make your payments on time, and pay off the entire balance at the end of the month.

4) Understand the importance of building and protecting your credit: In my opinion, protecting your credit is just as important as protecting your social security number. Your financial future and success hinges upon that report/score. Do you want lower rates, better jobs, larger loans, better pay, etc.? Than you better protect your credit. I tell people all the time that investing in Identity Theft Protection is just as important as any Life Insurance program in our day and age. Now, do you know how to build and improve you score/report? It really is simple: never use more than 25% of the credit limit, make your payments on time, and pay off the entire balance at the end of the month (sound familiar)!

5) 'Wealth' is not the accumulation of money, it is the proper management of it: Our culture and society certainly has a skewed perception of what true wealth is. If, for example, an individual makes 1 million dollars a year, we assume they are wealthy. Well, if that person spent 1.2 million dollars that same year, that certainly is not wealth is it? In fact, the promotions and pay raises we all seek in our jobs will do little if we increase our spending as our income increases. Robert Kiyosaki refers to this habit as the 'rat race.' We need to learn how to properly budget, manage, save, and invest our money - not just spend it. Thus, true 'Wealth' is getting out of this 'rat race,' it is financial independence, it is passive income, and it is time freedom. Learn now how to manage your money before it manages you! Both men and women would do well to change their perception from 'how much can my spouse make' to 'how well do they manage their finances.'

6) Self-Discipline and Self-Restraint are essential: Self-discipline in regards to money is far more important than any advanced course in accounting or financial management. Parents would do well to develop this ability, and they would be wise to teach this to their children. However, please don't mis-understand - 'self-discipline' does not translate into self-denial or impoverishment. There is nothing wrong with buying 'things' that are fun, entertaining, or that the kids would enjoy. Where the line must be drawn is in the questions 'can we afford this' or 'is this in our budget' or 'do we actually need this' etc. And, ironically, self-discipline in financial matters will translate into self-discipline in other areas and aspects of life.

7) Saving Saves: That's it - just save! Learn now to discipline yourselves and budget 10% of all earnings. Save for a rainy day, for retirement, for kid's college funds, vacations, investments, etc. Avoid consumer debt, prepare for disasters or unemployment, and save 10% of all earnings - ALWAYS!

8) The importance of Insurance: Do you have proper and adequate home insurance, life insurance, health insurance, and car insurance? If not, you are potentially setting yourself up for financial disaster. And, in our day and age, do you have Identity Theft Protection? This type of insurance is just as, if not more important.

9) Wants vs. Needs: Wise is the wife, husband, parent, or child who can discipline themselves financially. The ability to sacrifice, go without, save, be patient, and determine wants compared to needs is an absolutely necessary attribute to develop; ironically, this attribute is not only necessary for finance-related issues, but every aspect of our lives!

10) Money is NOT Evil: Unfortunately, the majority of people have engrained into their minds that money is evil. Money is NOT evil; it is the pride people develop from possessing and accumulating money that causes others to perceive money as being 'evil.' A wealthy person's snobbish attitude, condescending comments, assumed superiority, and arrogant actions are what is 'evil' - not the money! 'But the money created the pride,' some may wrongfully say; no, the choice to become prideful is what created the pride. Money is absolutely necessary for our daily survival; and if we choose, our excess money can also free up our time and create opportunities and resources that help and bless other people's lives. We need more people who choose to acquire wealth for charitable purposes, and less people who develop the strength to financially suffer because they ignorantly believe 'money is evil.'

11) Communication & Involvement is Essential: If you are married, are both of you involved in, informed about, and joint decision makers in the financial affairs of the family? If not, the very question should reveal the necessary changes needing to be made. Are children simply given money, or are they expected to work for and earn it? Grateful will be the child, and wise would be the parent for teaching their child this reality of life in the real world. And perhaps just as important, are children taught the very principles described in this article - saving, compound interest, credit, insurance, wants vs. needs, etc.? The fact that this article even needs to be written should suggest that our educational system fails to teach these important principles, which should suggest that if any parent is dependent upon others to teach their children these necessary financial principles - they will pay for it, literally!

12) Investing in Appreciating Assets, Not Depreciating Liabilities: How often are we personally guilty of ensuring that our car is loaded with the best features, our clothes are updated with the latest fashions, or our sheds and garages are filled with all the fun toys and tools? There is nothing necessarily wrong with having these (see point #13 below); however, how unfortunate it is when excess funds (or what's worse - funds/debt obtained from credit) goes to obtain more toys, cars, and clothes rather than assets that will appreciate over time. The key to financial independence is not obtained through pay-raises, promotions, 401(k)'s, or even the lottery - it is obtained by applying the principles discussed in this article, and more importantly, buying appreciating assets rather than depreciating liabilities.

13) Be balanced and enjoy life also: Sometimes I read articles of couples who save every penny (literally) so they can retire at age 40. Some are able to do this, and good for them. But, let's be realistic and also enjoy life as well. Perhaps it is setting aside a few hundred dollars a month, or just $20 - but take your wife on a date, treat your kids to pizza, go out to a movie, etc. Have fun and be balanced!

14) Give and you shall receive: Ironic that this is on the list - but it is not last suggesting it's least important. In fact, it should be number one on this list! Learn now the great truth that when you give, you will receive. The 'giving' will be different for everyone. For some, it may mean giving to a charity, giving to a neighbor, to a church, to a family member, etc. But, give with no expectation or thought of reward or return, and you will receive much more in return, somehow in someway, but it will happen!

In conclusion, never forget that this is not about saving, budgeting, or investing properly - this is about happiness in your marriage and family life. A great credit score, a large bank account, an excellent insurance policy, and even a healthy retirement account are comparatively insignificant compared to the marital and family happiness, which can be achieved by applying the principles above.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Family Funds - Is Having Children Going Out of Fashion?

As we gradually move out of recessionary times, the need to save and to get the most from our savings is at the forefront of every parent's mind. While the simple answer for decent returns is to stop spending and to deposit a good amount of cash in a fixed rate account, this is easier said than done when plans for a family are still being thought about - and have been the subject of discussion since before the credit crunched.

Yet, while it is particularly difficult to predict when the best financial time to have children will occur, recent research from Irish parenting advice website,, is showing that some mothers may now be less enthusiastic about the prospect of having children because of the financial implications involved.

In results from a survey published in September, 78 percent of parents said they would hesitate to expand their families because of the increased costs involved. More than 50 percent of mothers asked admitted that it is not currently worth their while to work - because of costs such as those for childcare - and they would be better off if they were claiming social welfare instead.

The survey comes before child benefit payments are set to be either cut, taxed or means tested in the near future as part of the upcoming Budget. Yet the research does seem to have a definite focus on families that already have a number of children, and doesn't give much insight into whether prospective first-time parents are set to change their family plans. I don't hesitate to add that I doubt many adults who had plans to start a family around the time of the credit crunch are still set on putting it off - even if they did so a year ago.

Research in the UK signifies, at least, that it is not money itself which is of most concern to young mothers. In a survey by, a 79 percent majority of mums pointed out that flexibility in work was the top priority during the recession - while more than half (54 percent) admitted that they would take a lower paid job for more flexible hours. One thing that is consistent in both sets of research, however, is that as the economy looks to improve more parents are eager to spend more time at home with their children - and employers are certain to need to adapt to this.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Family Financial Planning

The financial fortunes of most families tend to fluctuate over time. However, everyone wishes to have a smooth, well planned finance plan in place, so that such fluctuations do not affect them adversely. Hence, a proper planning is necessary for maintaining the economic balance of a household. Family finances need to be handled expertly, so that a household can face any possible economic scenario. Indeed, most of us often do not have the skill or expertise to perform finances managing tasks properly for ourselves. Hence, expert advice from financial advisors is often sought for in this regard.
While handling finances for families, most professional financial planners would provide certain basic tips to their clients. Such useful guidelines for effective financial planning for family include the following:
o Proper finances managing require that families do not spend too much on rather unnecessary, luxury items. Rather, focus should mainly be on buying the necessary items,
o For successful planning, individuals need to have specific targets and goals, regarding the rates of return or savings they (s)he wishes to achieve from the finance markets. Such financial targets, however, need also be realistic, so that they remain achievable, providing the desirable benefits to families at the same time,
o A family need to be prepared at all times for an emergency situation. Unnecessary expenses can be cut down , provided the necessary prior financial arrangements are in place,
o There are several tax benefits and incentives that are offered from time to time by the authorities. Taxpayers can avail of these benefits effectively,

o People should have an eye on the future while managing the finances for their families. Probable changes in the economic scenario should be kept under consideration too,
o Retirement planning and estate planning are two of the most important components of financial planning for family. There generally exists a trade-off between the two as well. Retirement planning requires individuals to store away a portion of their income in view of their impending retirement. This brings the money currently available for spending on new estates. Hence, a proper balance between these two components need to be achieved,
o For effective finances managing, families need to identify the main crisis situations that they might be faced with. The major crisis situations for a family include pay cuts, loss of jobs, health-related problems, divorce, or even natural disasters. A proper strategy to guard against the impact of such scenarios should be present.
Handling family finances in a wise, informed manner can prove to be a tricky affair. Hence, it is imperative that people take into account all aspects of planning, and, if necessary, hire the services of a professional financial advisor.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Handling Family Finance

Family Finance - What has this got to do with LOVE?
Yesterday, at a couples' dinner that was put together by our organisation, We had different sessions that dealt with relationships, sex, communication in marriage, what to do when communication breaks down, handling family finance e.t.c.
The session on Family Finance attracted the most comments, questions and heated arguments. And I felt I should share some of my views with you today.
The following are some of the symptoms of wrong financial system in the family:
Regular quarreling: between you and your spouse shows that you are operating a wrong financial system in your family. More importantly, it reveals that there is a disparity in financial views and probably a lack of trust. Continuous misunderstanding in the area of finance at home is a sign that both of you and your spouse are not mature in the area of family finance; you need to improve on that.
Family Replacement: If you hustle for money at the expense of your family, if all you do is to look for money all day long with no family time, no time for your spouse or your children; then money is working against you and you are working on a wrong financial system. The best gift you can give to your family is your time. How can you prove to them that you love them without spending time with them? You have to create time for your family.

Wrong Money Usage: There are good and bad ways to use money. That is why you need to sit down and take stocks of your life. Check where your money is going; if it has been going into negative ventures then you should know that the future is bleak as your spending will definitely affect your family negatively.
How do you ensure that money works for your family?
Making money work for your family is not a one-day event, it is a life-long experience.
Yet, the importance can never be over-emphasized.
It will not only ensure that you have enough to meet your family needs and obligations, you will also be able to even build wealth for your family. When you do it right, you will also build trust in each other.
Both of you will now have to sit down and develop a marathon mentality for investment.
It is a decision that both parties must take. if only one person is committed to a better financial system and the other is indifferent, the one person who is desirous of change will eventually feel frustrated.
You need gut and graft: You need gut, you need determination, you need to close your eyes to present accolade and look up to the future ovation, move forward at a time and win the race for your family TOGETHER.
Discipline Yourself: One thing you need more than anything else is discipline, when you are setting a new course for your family finance. Discipline is the mother of distinction.
Don't buy what others are buying because they are buying it and never buy to impress anybody because the people you want to impress are not really impressed.
Can you imagine running any company, business organisation or your home-based business without any form of financial system in place? Yet, that is how we, often times, treat our finances. That is definitely not good enough.
One principle that has worked for my family and that I recommend to people is that you should handle family financial issues OFFICIALLY. I know that may sound kind of boring to many of us, but it works. It is the first lesson in financial eduaction and intelligence that you and your spouse must learn.
I have realised that those who handle even personal financial issues officially fare better than those who don't have any structured plan on how to make, spend or invest. The same principle apply to your family's finance.