The cost of living gets more expensive each year, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be continually strapped for cash. If you can learn the ins and outs of some of life’s most expensive rites of passage — such as having children and buying a home — you can make that knowledge work for you. Instead of stumbling through life, turn those financial obstacles into stepping stones with the advice below.
Buying a Home
Buying a home is likely to be the largest financial decision you will have to make in life. It is a huge commitment, but it is also well-worth it, considering that you want to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your children to grow up in. Given all of the uncertainty in the housing market, however, it’s understandable if you’re wary of becoming a homeowner at the moment.
The key to cushioning the blow that can come from the current housing market is taking your time to make smart, well-informed decisions. Don’t feel rushed to buy a home if you’re not ready; it is better to save up enough money for a down payment, which would be at least 20 percent of the total cost of the home in the best case scenario. You can also use this time to boost your credit, which is an important part of finding the best mortgage rates. Taking these steps can shave years off of your mortgage and thousands of dollars off of the total interest that you will pay on your home in the long run.
When you think of growing your family, many things come to mind: little league baseball games, dance recitals, and family vacations, to name a few. But did you stop to consider a $227,000 bill? That’s how much you’ll have to fork over per child, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And this only calculates costs up until age 18; a college education could easily increase that amount by as much as half.
Obviously, spending this more than $200,000 on your child will happen over the course of two decades, which should soften the blow. The most expensive areas of spending for a family include food, transportation, and child care, and if you can figure out ways to reduce these expenses, you can chip away at that astronomical cost. Couponing can reduce your grocery bill to practically nothing if you do it often and learn the tricks of the trade. And making an alternative plan for childcare (such as relying on a nearby relative or close friend) can help you save thousands of dollars each year. When it comes to college education, starting an education savings account early in their lives can significantly increase the amount of funds that your children have to rely on when they come of age.
Credit Card Usage
There are some areas of debt, such as education or home financing, that are considered positive because they make you a more valuable asset to your family, to your community, and to yourself. However, too often, parents get bogged down by credit card debt that quickly spirals out of control. The best thing you can do to help yourself chisel away at your card balances is to pay more than the minimum payment. Often, the just handing over very least you’re allow to pay each month won’t help you get out of debt; in fact, you may even see your account balance rise, even if you aren’t making any new charges on your card.
You should also consider switching your balances over to a zero percent interest card, which buys you time to pay them down. And if you struggle with budgeting, spending cash only is a great way to cut out unnecessary expenses.
Information is power, but in these cases, it can also equate to more money for you. There’s no handbook on how to provide for your family, but if you make it a point to constantly search for new ways to save and invest, you can put together a pretty helpful guide of your own.
What other obstacles do you foresee?