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What do you do when you are faced with a financially costly emergency? Some people borrow money from friends and family while some rely on credit cards or loans None of these is ideal; having an emergency fund to tap into is the best option.
Putting aside money for urgent needs takes discipline but at the end of the day it will definitely beat costlier options like taking out online personal loans. These types of loans should be sought only for genuine emergencies and they shouldn’t be used as part of a long-term financial plan. The interest rates are very high and if you don’t pay back on time, other high fees will apply. This can easily worsen your finances in the long run.
Here are five ideas that can help you build an emergency fund.
Treat saving like a bill
Determine how much money you ultimately want to put aside and work out how much you can afford to save each week or month. Give yourself a due date and put aside that money religiously. If you need a partner or relative to hold you accountable, ask them to check in with you to make sure you’ve made the investment.
Trim unnecessary expenses
This may sound obvious but we often get so attached to certain products and services that we deem them necessary when they actually aren’t. Do you need to buy a fancy lunch every day or can you pack a sandwich from home at least two days each week? Can you skip the salon and do your own hair or nails some months? Cell phone bills, cable subscriptions and gym memberships are all things that should be reviewed. Maybe you can find cheaper alternatives to your current provider.
Earn extra income
If after reviewing your expenses and cutting out a few things you still think you need to do more, perhaps you should find a way to make extra money. Depending on your current job and lifestyle you may be able to take on extra hours at work or start a part-time job. If not, you can tap into your talents and make money from things you already enjoy doing. You can put your baking skills to work, make personalized craft items or pick up an online writing gig. You can also sell items which you have around the house but no longer use.
Get a coin jar and keep those singles
It’s OK to start small. Begin your emergency fund by putting any small coins you get into a jar. Make a vow not to spend $1 bills and stash them away instead. It might not seem like much at the time but at the end of a year, it can be quite a substantial amount.
Reduce transportation costs
If you absolutely must have a car, make sure it is as fuel efficient as possible. Try to carpool where possible with colleagues or use public transportation. You can also walk or bike if your circumstances allow for it. This will not only save you money but help you to keep in shape.
The importance of an emergency fund can never be overstated. The thought of saving a large sum is overwhelming and this can keep you from starting. However, if you start small and set achievable goals, you’ll be on your way in no time.
Some people shop all year long for Christmas. Others wait until December 24th. Wherever you fit in that spectrum, you still want to score a deal. Americans spend $830 billion on Christmas, according to a 2013 statistic. If you’re looking for cheap Christmas gifts for kids, then here are five tips that will help.
(Got any kids 5 and under? Here’s a great list of gift ideas for them!)
If you’re a fan of Amazon, especially around the holidays, then check out SnagShout.com. It offers hundreds of deeply discounted products you can purchase in exchange for a review.
How does SnagShout work:
- Browse their merchandise to see if there is something you’d like to purchase. Often these products are marked 60% to 90% off. Some products are even free.
- You’ll be given a specific SnagShout code to enter at check out.
- These are Amazon products, so you’ll be automatically transferred to Amazon to complete your purchase.
- Once you’ve received and tried out the product, you must leave a review on Amazon to complete your agreement with SnagShout.
- After that, you’re permitted to shop for your next SnagShout product.
Giving SnagShout products as gifts is tricky since you do need to leave a review. I’m certainly not suggesting you lie because that’s unethical and could get you banned from SnagShout. The best solution is to purchase the item for your child, let him play with it, then ask what he thinks. You could also purchase an item of which you’re already familiar and leave a review based on what you already know.
Off-season clearance racks
Fall and spring are great times of the year for garage sales. Every changing season brings a deep discount (i.e. end of summer, back to school, end of winter, etc.). If there are huge discounts on summer clothes during the fall, then you could score some big savings on next year’s summer wardrobe and give them as Christmas presents.
If gift cards and online shopping are your preferred methods for finding cheap Christmas gifts for kids, then look up Swagbucks. This is one of the most popular survey + reward sites because it offers a wide variety of ways to earn. They include:
- Searching the Web
- Online shopping
- Watching videos
- Playing games
You could earn points the next time you shop online at Toys R Us, Target, Old Navy, or the Disney Store. Cash in your points for free gift cards for Amazon, PayPal, Walmart, Target, Visa and more.
Click here to sign up for your free Swagbucks account.
Cheap Christmas gifts for kids come in every shape in size. One of my favorite things about Pinterest is that there are so many options for making awesome gifts for your awesome kids. Not everything is cheaper to make at home than it is in the store. However, I encourage you to at least consider this route, especially if time is on your side. I made a no-sew blanket for each of my babies, and could easily work on it while I watched a movie. Fabric stores often have coupons for supplies, so I saved money and gave my kids something homemade they’ll have for a long time from their not-that-crafty mom.
One of the coolest gifts you can give your kids is the gift of experiences. Groupon is a great resource for discounted events and adventures. Search “Groupon + Your City” to find some kid-friendly events happening near you.
Do you start Christmas shopping before or after Thanksgiving? Tell us in the comments below?
Image Credit: Andrew Neel (UnSplash)
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, Kids Ain’t Cheap will receive a commission, but we only recommend products that we know and love. Thank you for your business!
The moment you hold your newborn baby in your arms for the first time you fully realize how precious and fragile life can be. This little itty bitty human is relying on you for everything. It’s up to you to keep them safe and healthy.
There are so many things that happen in these first few months that set the stage for what’s to come in the following years. After getting through the infant stage a few times myself, I’ve learned there are five key ways to invest in the health of your newborn.
A Safe Crib Mattress for Safe Sleeping Habits
Your newborn will spend more time sleeping than they will awake for the first year or so. With that in mind, the crib should be a primary focus. Start by selecting a safe crib mattress.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that parents look for a firm sleep surface. While some crib mattresses may seem a little too firm, that’s by design. A firm mattress decreases the likelihood of suffocation. You’ll also want to look for a crib mattress that are free to chemicals and easy to clean.
Want the most bang for your buck? Look for a double-sided crib mattress that’s firm on one side for infants and a little softer on the other side for older babies and toddlers.
ALSO: When you lay your little one down to sleep on their safe, firm mattress make sure to lie them down on their back. That’s by far the safest sleeping position for a baby. Following these best steps now will help protect your baby as they grow into a toddler.
After you’ve selected a safe mattress, next consider the bedding that goes on top of it. We now know that the only thing that should be in the crib with a baby is a fitted sheet. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for a safe sleeping environment state that nothing should be put in the crib with the baby
As your baby grows into a toddler the rest of the bedding will come into play. Sure, there’s a good chance that non-organic bedding and towels will have little effect on your baby’s health. But there’s also a possibility that the chemicals used to create non-organic fabrics could do harm. We just don’t know enough yet to say for sure. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution when it comes to a baby.
Whip Up Natural Baby Food
Nothing is better for a newborn than mother’s milk. But eventually, your baby will expand their palate to solid foods around the six-month mark. That’s when you really have to start paying attention to every ingredient.
Even with all the FDA regulations and safeguards, unhealthy ingredients can still sneak into baby food and baby products. An alarming study released earlier this year found that 80% of baby formulas tested contained arsenic.
Like bedding, the best option is to go with organic baby food that’s 100% free of pesticides. Many parents are also playing it safe by selection non-GMO (genetically modified) baby food.
Of course, anyone who’s gone grocery shopping in recent years knows that organic food it’s cheap, especially when it’s made for babies. The solution – make your own baby food. I’ve come up with homemade baby food hacks that are real sanity savers. The key is to keep it simple. Use organic fruits and vegetables that are easy to blend and don’t worry about fancy equipment at first.
Check for Recalls Often
Sometimes you don’t have to invest money to protect your newborn, but you do have to invest time. Checking for recalls is the perfect example. If arsenic is discovered in a type of baby food or the FDA finds lead in a toy the Consumer Product Safety Commission will put out a recall. They have a recall list online that’s updated daily and arranged by date.
Set Up Playdates Sooner Than You Think
Socialization is extremely important for all human beings, even the smallest of us. Socializing with others helps babies begin developing essential communication skills, and they’ll begin picking up behavioral cues.
Go ahead and start lining up playdates while your baby is still an infant. By the time they are one year old your baby should be parallel playing with others. Keep in mind playdates are also just as beneficial for moms. It gives you a chance to connect with your peers and share advice.
When you are caring for your parents and your children, you are part of the sandwich generation. This population makes up as much as 47 percent of adults, according to a report by Pew Research. With so many adults living in this type of arrangement, you may wonder how you can get time away. You deserve a break and most likely need to recharge your batteries as well. This is where respite care can help.
What Is Respite Care?
If you are wondering what is respite care and how it helps the sandwich generation, you are not alone. Respite care is a form of caregiving that gives sandwich generation adults the ability to pass their caregiving responsibilities on to a professional caregiver for a temporary period of time. It may only be for a few hours or a few days such as a weekend, but it allows you to take the time away you need to do something that you enjoy.
As a sandwich generation caregiver, you may feel guilty leaving your parents along without being there to provide to their health needs. But, you are deserving of a break and respite care can offer you the opportunity to know that your parents are being cared for when you cannot be there.
Professional and experienced caregivers will come directly to your home and provide the care that your parents need when you are unable to do so. This can make going out of town or leaving for a few hours a day less stressful as you know that your parents are in the capable hands of a respite caregiver.
Why Is Respite Care Needed?
It is important as a sandwich generation caregiver that you take time away for yourself. Your role as a caregiver to your parents and children is important, but you cannot provide to them in the best way possible if you are not taking care of yourself first. Respite caregivers allow you time away so that you can feel renewed, get a break, and come back refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of the day again.
Even a momentary break from caring for your parents and children can help you stay balanced and not become easily frustrated when things do not go as they should. Being away from your home situation for some time, allows you to see things in a new light when you return. You will be more receptive to your parents’ and children’s needs and be able to serve them better each day.
Respite care is as much for your parents as it is for you. Your needs matter as much as your children’s and parents’ and respite caregivers offer you the ability to take your own needs into consideration. You do not need to feel guilty about leaving your parents alone as respite caregivers are there to provide them the continuous care they need and pick up your responsibilities when you are gone. Allow a respite caregiver to give you a break. You’ll appreciate the break and come back better than ever.
As a parent to a growing teenager, you are well aware of all the financial responsibilities that fall upon you. So if you’re trying to put together a budget of potential family expenses to make sure you have enough money set aside to cover your monthly bills, you need to consider new and growing costs of your teens.
On the other hand, teenagers are also going to accrue some unexpected expenses as well. So it’s best to be prepared for the inevitable. Whether it’s paying for the best family medicine Jersey City has to offer or clothes from the latest sale on the Wear Saga website, you’ll need to set aside extra money in your monthly budget to pay for these new, unexpected bills your teen accumulates.
- Driving Related Expenses
Is your teenager driving? If so, you can expect many additional expenses. Depending on your financial situation, you may end up buying your teen a brand-new car, a used car, you may have to deal with car repairs, gas, tune ups, tows, and everything else that comes along with owning a motor vehicle.
Some parents might use this as an opportunity to teach their teenagers how to handle these new responsibilities. In that case, you’ll have your teen get a job so he or she can either pay for their expenses in their entirety or chip in to help you pay for car related expenses.
On the flipside, you may want your teen to focus on school so that he or she can get the best education possible. If that’s the case, you may decide to pay for all car related expenses yourself so your child doesn’t have to get an afterschool job.
Just remember that once your teen starts driving, you’re going to accumulate many automobile related expenses. Keep track of everything you spent during their first year driving and use it as a guideline to determine how much money you’ll have to put aside each month to cover your child’s driving related costs.
- Cell Phone Expenses
As your son or daughter begins to get older, he or she will likely drive you crazy because they’ll want their own cell phone. Many parents have no problem buying their kids a new smartphone or iPhone because they want their children to be safe and available at all times. Once they reach a certain age and start showing responsibility, you’ll feel good about giving your teenager a phone.
But additional cell phones create additional expenses. For starters, every teenager wants the shiniest, most brand-new phone on the market, which can cost anywhere from $500-$1000. Then add on the monthly charges and you’re talking about a large upfront investment and around $35-$50 a month extra for 12 months out of the year. This will really add up over time, so remember to factor it into your monthly budget.
- Computer Equipment
Finally, when your kids get older and become teenagers, their computer skills are going to improve and they’ll begin looking for new software for school, more video games, new hardware, and a whole lot more. These expenses can add up if you aren’t careful, so pay attention to what your teenager is buying and limit their ability to make these purchases.
We all know that teens can generate additional expenses. When setting up your budget, remember to factor in these additional costs so you can stay on top of your bills and never have to worry about falling behind.
Yorkshire is perhaps unjustly overlooked as a holiday destination. It has some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK, from gentle, rolling hills that have sheltered sheep and farmers for centuries, to dramatic crags of limestone that burst out of the Dales, reminding you this is a really ancient landscape. It’s dotted with picturesque market towns, and cosmopolitan cities that offer a balance between the ancient countryside and the convenience of the modern day.
Today, let’s take a look at one of the jewels in Yorkshire’s crown and a couple of very good reasons you should go to Huddersfield.
Bring Your Kids
If you have a school holiday bearing down on you, it’s always a challenge to think of ways to keep the children entertained. A family holiday is a great idea: the sheer novelty of being somewhere new does a great deal to fill the time, and the activities available in a new location will be something your children can anticipate, enjoy and then reminisce about afterwards.
Huddersfield is a great town for children: it’s small enough that even with little ones you can walk to most places easily, and the array of possibilities on offer is surprising! If you need indoor activities to fill a day and ensure your kids sleep the night through, Huddersfield has a handsomely equipped waterpark, a nearby climbing centre and popular soft play areas as well!
If the weather is fine, the town and surrounding countryside are scattered with beautiful parks, and museums about the region’s rich history, from it’s role in the Wars of the Roses to it’s pivotal part in the industrial revolution to feed young minds.
Choosing a wedding venue is a tricky business. Getting married near to home might be convenient to you but if you’re inviting people from all over the UK you need to find somewhere that’s easily accessible for everyone. If you’re looking for a wedding venue in Yorkshire you’ll find Huddersfield offers an embarrassment of riches and is handily near the centre point of the country.
From the town hall in the heart of the town that can accommodate more than a thousand people to Storthes Hall Park, overlooking the countryside outside town, Huddersfield offers a spread of venues that can accommodate you and your guests whatever your dream wedding and, possibly more importantly, whatever your budget is.
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