Archive for June, 2014

How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget

canstockphoto17336704Planning a wedding can be fun, but it can also be very expensive. Staying on budget is challenging, especially when trends change as well as making last minute purchases. Getting married doesn’t have to break the bank if you are living on a budget to begin with. Here are 5 Tips on How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget.

 

Do It Yourself

If you are creative, many aspects of your wedding will be easier and less expensive if you put your talent to good use. For example, designing and printing your own wedding invitations is a great way to cut back on the expenses.

Many wedding invitations are expensive while the cheaper ones tend to lack quality. You should get your family and friends to help you create the wedding invitations and other things such as the programs, escort cards and table numbers. You can easily save yourself hundreds of dollars by doing it yourself. Other items that can be done using your creativity are decorations such as the tables and flower arrangements.

 

Prepare a Strict Budget For Things That You Can’t Do Yourself

It’s obvious that you can’t be the jack of all trades at your wedding. If you are planning to provide some entertainment for your guest at the wedding reception, consider hiring caterers and a live band .When it comes to these services, do some comparison shopping. If you can’t afford to hire a caterer, ask your friends and family if they can prepare a dish. Instead of hiring a live band, get a deejay to keep your guest entertained since it’s often much cheaper. Keep in mind that you should never skimp on quality for the price. There’s an old saying “You get what you pay for.”

 

Find a Cheap High Quality Wedding Dress

Purchasing your wedding dress from a bridal shop is often cheaper than hiring a designer. If the mother of the bride still have her wedding dress that’s in great condition and is willing to allow the bride to keep or borrow the dress, this can also cut down on the expenses. You can also save money by purchasing a pre-owned wedding dress instead of buying a new one.

 

Find a Location to Have Your Wedding that Doesn’t Break the Bank

Besides having your family and friends around to celebrate your big day, the most important part of your wedding is the location. Almost any location can be made to create the perfect spot for your wedding ceremony. If you have a beautiful backyard, it can be the perfect place to have your wedding and the reception. Renting a couple of tents and placing covers and sashes over the chairs will add elegance to the décor.

Some banquet halls offer discounts if you plan your wedding on certain days of the week. Off- season weddings are typically offered at a lower rate as well.

 

Limit the Time Your Guest Spend at The Open Bar

One of the major expenses of a wedding comes from having an open bar, especially if you have friends and family that drink a lot. There are ways to cut down on these expenses. You should consider having an open bar for only the last hour. There is also an option to have an cash bar, but it is not recommended. The guest should not have to purchase their own drinks. You can easily save money by offering cheaper cocktails instead of the premium or purchase your own drinks instead.

 

Planning a wedding without going over the budget can be stressful if you don’t know what to do. However, if you plan ahead and use the above tips to your advantage, you can make the dreams of your special day a reality without going broke.

 

Escrow – Things You Need to Know

canstockphoto4224483With the continuous growth and development of online businesses, having an Escrow account has become a necessity. Online transactions are very risky not only for the buyer but also for the seller. Unless the website you are dealing with is one which is reliable and proven trustworthy, you may not be safe from possible fraud and deception. In order to protect your accounts and keep online transaction hassles to the minimum, it is important for you to have an escrow account.

 

What is Escrow?

Escrow generally means a fund that is delivered to a neutral third person known as the escrow agent. The escrow will be used whenever you enter into transactions such as lease, sale or mortgage. The escrow agent always makes sure that the funds will never be used inappropriately and that it will never be released unless the requisites for its release are complied with. Since your agreement with your escrow agent is founded upon trust and dependence, it is very important to choose an escrow company which you can truly rely on.

 

How does Escrow work?

Every individual involved in any transaction online can work with an escrow company to prevent fraud. During an online transaction, the buyer and the seller, and in some instances, the lender and the borrower, comes up with certain arrangements on the terms and conditions of the contract. This contract of sale, lease or mortgage is considered as the law governing the parties.

After the perfection of the contract, it is signed by the parties and is delivered to the escrow agent. The agent then examines the terms and conditions of the contract between the parties. Before the escrow is “closed”, the escrow agent makes sure that the agreement is done following the requisites for escrow as provided by law. After making sure that all requirements have been sufficiently complied with, the account will be “closed” and all transactions will be in the hands of the escrow agent.

While the requisites for release of funds are not yet sufficiently met, the seller, the mortgager or the lessor cannot receive any amount from the escrow agent. The buyer, mortgagee and lessee, being the passive parties in the transaction, cannot benefit as well unless the terms and conditions have been complied with. In contracts of mortgage, where there is retention of property, both private and public, the escrow agent is also responsible for the payment of taxes, insurances and other obligations attached to such property. All of the actions of escrow agent are dependent on the law governing escrow, the terms and conditions agreed upon by the parties and the authorization of the parties.

Once all the terms and conditions have been complied with, the escrow will eventually be closed with a settlement statement prepared by the escrow agent.

 

What are the Best Companies to use?

The main objective in hiring an escrow company is to have secured transactions. If so, you need to deal only with companies you can completely trust. One wrong move of an escrow agent can make your funds disappear in a blink of an eye.

With their proven reliability and competence, the following escrow companies online have been rated as among best. Here are two of the escrow companies whom you can entrust your funds to:

1. Escrow.com

Escrow.com is a licensed and accredited escrow company which is based in the US. It is among the pioneer companies in the escrow service industry and has been growing since 2013. Escrow.com complies with several laws and regulations governing escrow transactions and can be trusted when transacting for almost anything sold online.

2. The Heritage Escrow Company

The Heritage Escrow Company is another good choice for escrow services. The company has several locations in California and has been serving clients for some time. More information about the company can be known when you visit their official website.

 

A good Escrow company will not only help you in your transactions but will also protect you from harm. If you want a smooth sailing online transaction from time to time, all you need to have is a reliable, competent and trustworthy escrow company. For more information about escrow.com, you can visit their website or contact their local service provider.

How to Boost Your Credit Score

canstockphoto8042110If you’ve recently tried to buy a home or purchase a new car only to find out that you weren’t qualified, this can leave you surprised and disappointed. Building and maintaining a good credit score is important in our everyday lives. You will need it to purchase a new home, pay for your education and some jobs require their employees to maintain good credit. Rebuilding your credit isn’t hard to do. Here are five ways to Boost Your Credit Score.

 

Check For Errors

Checking for errors is one of  the best methods you can use to Boost Your Credit Score. If you don’t stay up to date on your credit report, there may be errors that you aren’t aware of that’s lowering your credit rating.

If it shows that you made a late payment for something that you paid on time, make sure that you get it straightened out. You should check your credit report with Equifax, Experian and Transunion at least once a year to ensure the information is accurate.

 

Make Payments Promptly

Making your payments on time consistently is another way to boost your credit score. When you are making a purchase with your credit card, pay it off as soon as possible. Many people view their credit card as an ATM since it’s a convenient way to pay for their purchases.

You should always keep the credit card balance lower than half of the credit limit. For example, if your card has a $5,000 credit limit, you should maintain a balance below $2,500.

 

What if you have a history of making late payments? You should simply start making your payments on time. It may take some time, but your score will eventually turn around.

 

Get Rid of Any Open Accounts

There may be things that you haven’t paid off that has a negative impact on your credit score.

What if you don’t have the money right now? It isn’t necessary to pay the total amount. Just pay whatever you can until the balance is down to zero. Neglecting your bills will reflect badly on your credit.

 

If you are receiving harassing calls from the bill collectors, avoiding the situation won’t make it go away. Negotiate with the company on when you will be able to pay off the entire amount that you owe on the bill. If the bill collectors cross the line, then you should hire your own attorney to handle the matter.

 

Raise Your Credit Limit

Raising your credit limit will improve your debt to credit ratio and enhance your credit score almost immediately. You should keep in mind that your credit card company may not approve your request, but it won’t hurt to ask.

If your request is approved, stay disciplined. You may be tempted to overspend now that your credit limit is higher. Make sure that your spending habits are under control. Getting a higher credit limit only helps if you are a Smart Spender.

 

Don’t Cosign Anything For Anyone

You can prevent yourself from getting bad credit if you just say NO. Friends and family with a bad credit history of their own may ask you to co sign for a loan, new car, or even a cell phone. You should never co sign for anyone to get anything on your credit. If the banks aren’t willing to take a chance on them, then you shouldn’t either.

 

Making your payments on time, raising your credit limit, getting rid of open accounts, and checking for errors on your credit report are a few ways you can Boost Your Credit Score. Use these methods to your advantage and watch your credit score skyrocket much sooner than you imagine.

4 Ways to Get Through a Financial Emergency

canstockphoto6226763How do you get through a Financial Emergency? Just when you think you are on top of your finances and things are going smoothly, disaster strikes. It could be something as minor as getting a flat tire on your way to work or something big such as job loss or a medical emergency. If you plan ahead, you’ll get through it, even if you are going through hard times.

The purpose of creating a budget is to save money for the unexpected. Most financial gurus agree that everyone should have an emergency fund that will cover their expenses for at least six months. Even if you are doing well with your savings, it doesn’t mean that you should stop adding money to it.

Here are some tips on how to get through a Financial Emergency whether you think you are prepared or are in deep debt:

 

Review Your Budget

Although, you may have enough money in your emergency fund to pay for car repairs, you will still need to prepare yourself in case anything else happens. What if you or your loved ones are faced with a medical emergency that your insurance company won’t cover or what would you do if you were laid off from your job today? You will need to find ways to readjust your budget.

Reducing the amount of money that you spend on your cable bill is a great way to save money. If your contract has expired with your current provider, you can ask for a smaller plan or eliminate the service all together. You can also contact your cellular phone and internet service provider and ask for cheaper plans or find another company that has better deals.

Canceling magazine or newspaper subscriptions can also save you some money. There is a good chance that there are free online newspapers and websites where you will find the same information for free.

 

Earn Extra Money

If you are currently without a job, there are still ways you can earn some extra cash. You can provide a cleaning service, wash cars or provide a dog walking service for your neighbors. If you would like to make money in your pajamas, there are easy ways you can make money online. If you have items in your home that’s no longer in use, sell it on eBay. There is a good chance that someone is looking for that item as long as it’s in good condition.

You can even use your skills to make money as a freelancer. Check out places such as taskrabbit, fiverr, eLance and oDesk.

 

What if you don’t have enough money to cover the expenses?

Negotiate the Payments

If you are faced with high credit card bills or are behind on your mortgage, contact the company as soon as possible. Ask if there is a way that you can pay a lower monthly payment until your financial situation improve. Most companies will work with you, especially if you have a good history of making your payments on time.

If you had a medical emergency that’s not covered by your health insurance company, contact the financial department of the medical facility and ask if there is a way you can pay in monthly installments until it’s paid off. However, if the payment is more than you can afford, find out if there is a way you can send a lower amount.

 

Ask for Help

If you are going through hard times, swallow your pride and ask for help. Find out if there are charities in your area that donate food and clothing. If you have a disability, visit the Social Security Administration to sign up for SSI and food stamps. This will help out with your household expenses until you are able to get back on your feet.

 

These are a few ways to get you through a Financial Emergency. It may seem impossible at first, but if you follow these tips, you will become debt free before you know it.

What are the Costs of Having a Baby?

canstockphoto18071332If you are planning to have a baby in the near future, there are some things you will need to plan for. Making the decision to have a child is a major step in your life. Having a new born will change every aspect of your life, especially when it comes to your finances. In fact, it will get very expensive. The examples below will give you an idea of the Costs of Having a Baby.

 

Babies will need formula (if you choose not to breastfeed) and diapers. These two items are expensive. Your infant will need to be fed and changed continuously. Once your baby become a toddler, he or she will begin to eat table food. This will add more to the grocery bill, especially if you buy jarred baby food.

Clothing is another expense that you will have to consider. Babies grow very fast and will require you to buy them in a bigger size sooner than you realize. Clothes can be purchased at thrift stores to minimize the costs. It is not unusual for children to grow three or four sizes or even more within the first year. The price of clothing will get more expensive as children get older.

Do you have insurance? Medical insurance is needed to cover the expenses of  your pregnancy and the birth of your child. Typical pregnancies require between twelve and fifteen visits, depending on your doctor’s requests and the development of your pregnancy. If you have a high risk pregnancy, you will need to see a doctor more often which leads to more expenses.

If you are without medical insurance, the visits to the doctor’s office will add up to a lot of your out of pocket expenses. Medical insurance is also highly recommended for the birth of your child. Having good medical coverage will ensure that most of the expenses are covered.

After the baby is born, there will be several visits to the doctor to ensure that your baby is developing well. Most medical insurance companies will fully cover the visits to the pediatrician. If the insurance company won’t cover 100% of the costs, then you will just have to pay a small out-of-pocket co-pay. If you don’t have insurance, the visits are not covered and you are responsible for all of the procedures and the vaccinations that’s given to your child.

If you and your spouse or partner both have jobs, then you will need to pay for child care expenses. The price of a day care is almost as expensive as making monthly car payments. You can cut your expenses by working opposite work shifts.

 

Making the decision to have a child should be taken seriously. Many people are not aware of the Costs of Having a Baby and what it will take to raise a child. When you have a baby, you will have to put his or her needs before your own. Talk to friends and family members who have small children to prepare yourself for the physical, emotional and financial expenses that may lie ahead for you.

canstockphoto4510251You are so excited about your upcoming wedding. There are a list of things to do such as the catering, fitting of the wedding dress, tuxedo, rehearsals, invitations and so on. When you are planning for your wedding, the last thing you would like to think about is what should happen in case of a divorce.

As people are going into marriages these days with almost the same income levels, it is best to be honest with one another and have a discussion on how they would like their financial situation to be in case they decide to get a divorce.

Marriage is often the most significant financial decision to make. There may be some major changes depending on how the bills will be split and the assets that you will build together. Of course, the topic of Prenuptial Agreements is scary for both parties. However, if you’ve accumulated assets prior to the marriage, you should consider protecting what you worked so hard for.

Negotiating a Prenuptial Agreement  is the most common way for a couple to make a decision on how they would want to proceed financially in the event of a divorce. A Prenup is a legally binding contract that’s signed by both parties. It is always a good idea for each future spouse to have their own attorney to represent their best interests when the contract is drawn up.

There are a few things you should keep in mind if you’re considering a Prenup. The first thing to do is to make sure that all financial assets and property be disclosed and addressed in the agreement. There have been many cases where the courts refused to enforce a Prenuptial Agreement because one party failed to list a major asset.

Furthermore, the agreement can’t be entirely one-sided or unreasonable. For instance, there have been examples where a court decided to dismiss it on the grounds that the contract was unfair to one of the parties in the marriage. If the arrangement in the Prenuptial Agreement will leave one spouse empty handed after the divorce, then there is a good chance that it won’t be upheld in a court of law.

Some issues are not in the contract. Custody and visitation rights of children that were born during the marriage cannot be decided by a Prenup.  A Family Court judge will make a decision based on which party should get custody based on the best interest of the children.

Getting a Prenuptial Agreement has it’s pros and cons:

 

Pros:

-It can help each party maintain any financial assets that was accrued before the marriage.

-The spouse who becomes a full-time homemaker is entitled to alimony to rebuild his or her life once the divorce is final.

-It can make the divorce process go much quickly and reduce the emotional toll on both spouses.

 

Cons:

-It can be uncomfortable to bring up the topic in the months leading up to the wedding.

-Having this discussion could create animosity and distrust between the future spouses.

 

It is difficult to discuss the topic of a Prenuptial Agreement right in the middle of planning your wedding. You should keep in mind that unexpected issues may come up in your marriage that’s beyond your control that sometimes will lead to a divorce. It shouldn’t be viewed as a solution that will cover every issue that may arise during the divorce proceeding. In many cases, it can be a great way to protect both parties in case the unthinkable should happen.

 

 

canstockphoto2014300You have all that Loose Change sitting at the bottom of your purse, in your pants pocket or even find them between the seats of your sofa. What do you do with all of these coins? Do you save it or toss it aside? Saving change may not seem like much. After all, it’s just a few extra pennies here and there. But if you were to collect all of the change and add it up, you might be surprised at how much money will be saved up . It could be enough to take your friend out to lunch or buy yourself something special.

It won’t feel like it cost anything since this money was just sitting and not included in your budget.

Many people often treat Loose Change like it’s not real money. After all, what difference can a few cents make? As a result, it usually end up in the hands of the kids, on the counter or you allow the cashier to keep it. Collecting your change can add up quickly and pay for some extras that aren’t included in your budget.

Think about how much change that you collect in a month, or over a year. Even a few pennies here and there can make a difference and will add up in several months. If you find a way to start saving all of your coins, you could always put some aside for something fun such as a family outing.

The downside to this is your loose change will take time to count, depending on how much you’ve accumulated and it takes up a lot of room. You can easily solve these problems by counting it on your day off from work and by creating a designated place to keep it. Get a big jar and place the change in it until there is enough money to spend on groceries or whatever purchases that you would like to make.

You are probably not the only person in your household who’s spending money and carrying loose change in your pockets. There is a good chance that your spouse and kids have it too. You can increase your savings even more by getting everyone together to participate by placing their coins in the change jar. Place the jar where everyone can find it and put their left over change in the jar each day. You can add it up altogether as a family and plan what to do with it when the jar is full.

Set aside time each week or month to roll the coins that you already have. That way it won’t become a tedious task once the jar is full. Rolling your coins will help you keep track of how much money that you’ve saved.

You will have enough to spend on fun things like going to an amusement park . On the other hand, you can save it for a trip, use it to purchase Christmas gifts or donate to your favorite charity. If your family have a big goal to save for, you should tape a photo of it on the front of the jar to remind everyone to stay on track.

What if you don’t want to spend it? You can choose to let it sit or add it to your savings. Some banks will charge you a small fee for adding pennies or will accept it in limited quantities. Contact them first to find out their policy on depositing change into your account.

Saving your Loose Change will allow you to save up enough money for family outings, vacations and make big and small purchases. The next time you see coins lying around the house, put it in the jar and watch those pennies turn into dollars in no time.

 

 

 

canstockphoto3417830In today’s economy, it is important for moms to look for ways to make their dollars stretch. Being frugal is an excellent way to control your spending habits. Many people mistake frugality for giving up all things that they enjoy the most for the sake of saving a dollar. This is not the case. It actually allows you to look for ways to prevent overspending. There are several methods you can use to save money on your favorite things whether you’re shopping at the supermarket or for clothing.

 

Here are Five Money Saving Tips For Moms to stay on top of their budget:

 

Cook Dinner at Home. Preparing your own home-cooked meals instead of eating out is an excellent way to save you money. The food at restaurants are often overpriced and the portion sizes are not worth the money spent. For example, the price of one adult meal can possibly feed your family for two nights.

 

Clip Coupons. Clipping coupons is an important money saving strategy that will minimize the amount of money that you spend at the grocery store. Perusing flyers, preparing dinner by what’s on sale and using coupons can maximize your savings. Clipping coupons will help lower the cost at the cash register. Many supermarkets also double the face value of coupons up to 99 cents.

 

Pack Your Children’s Lunch. You should pack your children’s lunch rather than have them spend money buying school lunch or at the vending machine. The food and drinks in the vending machine are loaded with sodium and sugar. You will be better off packing their lunch with healthy snacks and avoid the prices of school lunch which have been steadily increasing over the last few years.

 

Make Your Own Coffee. Making your own morning cup of coffee instead of going to the café will add up, especially if you consume it on a daily basis. If your husband has a job and you’re a stay-at-home mom, prepare a travel mug for him as he is getting ready for work instead of spending money for coffee day after day.

 

Shop at Thrift Shops and Close Out Sales For Clothing. Most of the clothing at the thrift stores are gently used. Typically, worn out clothing is not accepted by thrift shop owners. It is possible that you will find brand name clothes at a small fraction of the regular price.

Another way for you to save money on clothing is by looking for close out sales. Find out if there are clothing shops that are going out of business in your area. They often have products at rock bottom prices to get rid of all of the items before they close their shop for good. You can even look for items at places like Walmart and Sears/Kmart on the clearance racks.  Shopping at back to school sales and on major holidays such as labor day and  black out sales will save you money on your favorite designer clothes.

 

Clipping coupons, cooking home-cooked meals for your family, preparing lunch for your children, making your own coffee and shopping at thrift shops are five best Money Saving Tips For Moms. Take these ideas and roll with them. It won’t be long before you will find other ways to save money on your purchases. Your budget will thank you for it.

canstockphoto6563031Are you constantly looking for ways to save money? One of the best ways to keep money in your pockets is by getting Free Samples of everyday items. Many big name companies offer free samples in order to attract customers. Once they get positive feedback from their products, it will tempt the consumers to purchase the full-sized item on a regular basis. There are many places to get samples of household goods, books and even free items from fast food restaurants if you know where to look.

Companies are always developing new products to their line. However, they cannot attract potential customers to make purchases without some type of incentive. For this reason they offer discount coupons and in most cases Free Samples.

 

Here are Four Best  Places to Find Free Samples that will save you money:

 

Visit the website of the manufacturer. If you would like to sign up to receive samples, one of the best ways to do this is by visiting the company’s website. You may be required to fill out a survey to give them information on your daily needs and the type of products that you’re interested in. These surveys are tailored so that you won’t receive samples of items that you won’t use.

Most free products are in small sizes, meaning that it will not last very long. However, it is a good way for you to try the item to see if it meets your needs. That way you nor the company won’t be out of money for the full-sized version if it’s something that you don’t like.

 

Freemania.net  This website is constantly updated with either buy one get one free coupons and free samples. It lists all of the offers on the front page, then redirect you to the surveys to fill out the requests for free products. The items are tailored to your possible use and it does not list any maximum amount of free items that you can receive. You have the option to print the coupons or use your mobile device.

Justfreestuff.com is another website where you can find great selections. You can sign up for their newsletter to receive updates on free and discounted products. There are sweepstakes on the front page of the website that you can enter to win high ticket items such as $500 Gift Cards.

All-Free-Samples.com offer free samples of a wide variety of products. If you find something that you like, all you have to do is click “Get It” and it will redirect you to the company’s website. Some companies require you to login to their website while others don’t. If you would like to stay on top of the latest deals, sign up for their newsletter for the updates.

Beware of sites that are designed to scam consumers. If they ask you to pay for a free sample stay away for them. Free samples are- FREE. If you come across any websites that asks you for your credit card information, move on to the next one. You will be putting yourself at risk of identity theft by giving them your credit card number.

Finding Free Samples online is very easy if you know where to look. Sign up for their newsletters and fill out their surveys to take advantage of their deals so you will enjoy your favorite things free of charge.

Money Management Lesson For Newlyweds

canstockphoto14516096Congratulations on finding that special person that you want to spend your life with. Now that the honeymoon is over, it’s time for you to learn how to adjust to your new life together. It’s time to set yourselves up for a long and successful marriage. Unfortunately, being lovey dovey isn’t enough to keep a marriage together. Having a financial plan should be your top priority when starting your lives together. After all, money problems are the number one cause of divorce for many couples. There are steps you can take to avoid financial conflicts.

Below are some Money Management Tips to get you on track:

 

Set Up a Budget

Sit down together and list all of your household bills along with your weekly expenses. This will give you an idea of where your money is going and things you will need to cut back on. You can write all of this on a sheet of paper or use budgeting software programs such as Quicken Organize Your Money and Quicken Deluxe. There are even budget planners available that will help you stay on top of your finances. If you accumulated debt prior to getting married, you may want to consolidate this debt and pay it off as quickly as possible.

 

Avoid Using Credit Cards

Many people fall into the trap of using their credit cards for nearly everything right down to their morning latte. Although, credit cards are a convenient way to pay bills and everyday purchases, it can also put you in a lot of debt if you are not careful. You should avoid using credit cards since the interest will be charged to your card each month. Keep the card with the lowest interest rate in your wallet to be used in case of an emergency.

 

Open a Savings Account

Opening a savings account should be a top priority on your to do list. This will get you both in the habit of putting money away for vacations, making large purchases and saving up for your retirement. If you are currently in debt, start placing a small amount of money in your account each pay period until it’s paid in full. This will create your nest egg, which will allow you to buy a house, start a family and to pay for activities that you enjoy as a couple. A savings account will also prevent you from accumulating credit card debt.

 

Pay For Your Purchases In Cash

Paying for your purchases in cash will do two things for you:  First, you will find out how far your money really goes. Secondly, you will more than likely avoid making unnecessary purchases. When you are out shopping, carry just enough cash in your wallet for items that you plan to purchase. The less cash you take with you, the less money you will be able to spend. This will allow you to add more to your savings and retirement account.

 

It is common to have some financial difficulties, especially in the beginning of your marriage. By having a budget plan in place and utilizing the Money Management tips above, this will avoid financial conflicts down the road. Living debt free will allow to you enjoy fun things together and grow your nest egg much sooner than you imagined.