Having a baby is one of the most profound human experiences, but it does cost money. Having a solid plan in place makes a big difference, according to The Simple Dollar.
The first year of care for an infant can run from $5,496 in Mississippi to $16,549 in Massachusetts with factors like child care and hospital costs being the most significant variables.
U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics on the cost of raising a child look daunting: $245,340 to age 18. This works out to about $13,600 a year or $1,133 per month, which seems at least a little more doable.
The critical costs include healthcare, child care and housing.
Start with a quality healthcare plan. Those with different options through an employer should look carefully at their premiums, deductibles, and maximum out of pocket dollars for each plan to determine the best choice. Those without coverage at all will still be able to take advantage of insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace during open enrollment because these plans cannot consider
a preexisting condition and there are no waiting periods. Consider saving for the deductible for eight months during pregnancy so you will be ready to cover the cost.
Lifestyle choices count. Calculate the cost of one parent staying home instead of working and paying childcare, which can add up to more than $1,500 per month in some areas.
Plan ahead for housing. For instance, new parents might not opt to stay in a trendy one-bedroom condo when a small house would be more manageable.
Once the baby has arrived, there is a long list of items that new parents want to buy, but only a small portion of them are actually essential to the health and happiness of a newborn. A car seat, for instance, is absolutely required and, in fact, the hospital will not let the baby leave without one. Similarly, the baby will need food and feeding equipment, diapers, basic clothing, a bath, a sleeping area such as a bassinet, and some baby care items like shampoo, towels, and a thermometer.
But, you can save big on clothing, toys, and many accessories at secondhand stores or at garage sales. Thrifty parents can find high-quality items for pennies on the dollar. Let grandparents and friends buy the new stuff.
Another big savings is in breastfeeding which is not only healthy for baby and mother, but can also save between $1,100 and $1,700 during the first year, according to What to Expect.
Five ways to have a full social life during retirement
If you’re retired and have spare time on your hands, why not take the opportunity to try something new or meet new people? Here are five things you can do to enrich your social life.
1. Join a club (hiking, book, knitting, golf or acting)
2. Sign up for a group activity (yoga, painting, photography, choir or learning a second language)
3. Volunteer (at a non-profit, an animal shelter or the local library)
4. Attend lectures, readings and meet-and-greets
5. Join a group suited to your interests on the site MeetUp.com
If all else fails, simply go out. Visit a coffee shop, stroll through a museum, attend a show, play bingo or simply go somewhere where you can experience something new or see new faces.
Can a financial adviser help you manage your budget?
If you find yourself constantly struggling to pay off debt, save for the future or stay on budget, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a financial adviser.
Here are some situations where you should consider meeting with a financial adviser:
• You’re looking for help managing your debt and coming up with strategies for paying it off
• You’re getting your finances in order to plan for a major lifestyle change (buying your first home, having your first child, preparing for your retirement, etc.)
• You’d like help setting a budget that will help you save for specific goals (making a down-payment on a house, buying a new car, a trip to Europe, etc.)
• You want to learn about the right investment opportunities for a person in your financial situation.
Although it may seem impractical to pay someone to help you with your finances when you’re having money trouble, working with a professional can help get you on the right track towards meeting your long-term financial goals.
Avoiding mortgage refinancing scam
Scammers are targeting homeowners, trying to trick them out of cash and home equity, according to U.S. News.
‘Loan flipping’ scams seem to offer relief for those struggling with monthly mortgages. What actually happens is the scammer offers a fantastic deal on lower interest rates or mortgage payments.
The homeowner goes through the lengthy loan application process only to find the terms and fees are much higher than advertised.
Scammers get away with this because victims are either too fearful or exhausted by the process to end the deal.
Some schemes strip equity from homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure. ‘Mortgage rescuers’ focus on homeowners who have a lot of equity in the property, but now can’t make mortgage payments. They tell delinquent payers that they will pay off the mortgage if they sign over the deed and make rental payments. Unfortunately, the rental fees are likely to be just as high. The scammer waits until the person falls behind, evicts them, keeps the equity and sells the home or skips town.
Here are things to look for:
* Leaseback schemes. The scammer is going to own your home and you will rent from him. Always crooked.
* Bad credit doesn’t matter. Credit always matters. If someone tells you otherwise, be suspicious.
* Upfront fees. These criminals review public records of people in default on their mortgages. For a big fee, they offer to help homeowners refinance, usually through a government program, but they actually do nothing. In the end, the house is foreclosed, the homeowner loses everything, and the helper pockets the fees.
Snow Day essentials
Kids usually jump for joy when a snow day is announced, but for parents, the news tends to be somewhat less exciting. Here are a few things to have on hand should you end up staying home with your children during a snowstorm.
• The right outdoor clothes: snow days are best spent outdoors, but your kids need to have all the right clothes so they won’t get too cold or too wet. Check that everyone in your household has winter jackets, snow pants and insulated, waterproof boots. Make sure to keep extra gloves, scarves and hats on hand; these items of clothing often end up disappearing while kids are off sledding and making snow forts.
• Warm beverages: classic snow-day drinks like hot chocolate, peppermint tea or spiced apple cider will warm everyone up after a day out in the cold. On days when the weather’s too bad to go outside, hot beverages will help create a cozy atmosphere at home.
• Arts and crafts supplies: art projects can be a great way to keep kids occupied on days when it’s too cold or snowy to play outdoors. Keep supplies like crayons, markers, paints and paper around so you can pull them out before anyone starts to complain about being bored.
• Board games: board games are a classic way to spend snow days as a family. Getting children involved in a heated game of Monopoly, Risk or Chutes and Ladders will make the time pass quickly for all of you.
With these ideas in mind, you’ll be able to keep your kids entertained for hours on end, even during the snowiest of snow days.
Did you know?
The largest recorded snowfall in American history occurred in Sliver Lake, Colorado, on April 14, 1921. How much snow did the area near Boulder get? A whopping 75.8 inches — within just 24 hours!
Side hustles and the gig economy
In today’s gig economy, it’s becoming more common to have a “side hustle” — a flexible second job that’s done in addition to a full-time position to generate extra income.
The emergence of gig-based companies like Airbnb, Uber and Etsy has made it easier than ever for people to have a side hustle. Some popular side gigs include renting out apartments, driving for rideshare companies and selling handmade products online. Additionally, freelance writing, editing and designing for the web are prevalent types of side hustles.
While side hustles are often associated with making a hobby into a source of income, most people turn to them because they need the extra cash. Many people working side hustles are millennials struggling to find well-paying jobs and pay off student loans. However, studies also show that older Americans are starting to use side hustles to boost their retirement savings.
If you’re thinking about taking on a side hustle, be sure to choose something you enjoy doing. This way your motivation to work during your free time will be high. In most cases, however, you shouldn’t depend on what you earn from your side hustle. The availability of freelance work tends to fluctuate, making it a source of income that’s unreliable.
How to safely walk your dog during the winter
During the colder season, it’s important to take a few precautions when bringing your dog out for a walk. Read on to find out how to make your snowy strolls enjoyable and safe for your pup.
Each dog deals with the cold differently. Depending on your dog’s breed, age and health condition, your trusted companion could be extra-sensitive to cold temperatures. Never push your dog beyond its limits when it comes to weather sensitivity.
Before venturing outdoors, protect your dog’s paws from the salt used on city streets and sidewalks. Invest in tiny boots specially designed for dogs. If your pup refuses to keep them on, avoid walking in areas with too much salt on the ground. Furthermore, consider dressing your furry friend in a warm coat to help preserve its body heat. Some pet-sized snowsuits will even cover your dog’s paws.
In periods of extreme cold weather, prefer frequent short walks to ensure that your four-legged friend gets enough exercise.
Finally, if you notice that your dog’s fur is wet after a stroll outdoors, make sure to dry it thoroughly with a towel or blow dryer. Focus on the paws, belly and ears, and take the opportunity to inspect the pads under Fido’s feet for any signs of injury.
Beware of snow!
Try to stop your dog from eating snow as much as possible. Even if it looks clean, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. Eating snow can cause gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting.