Archive for July, 2016

canstockphoto24746428It is quite expensive to feed a family nowadays! The price of food is a large portion of most budgets, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. There are several alarming statistics concerning the food prices in the U.S. The cost of feeding a family of four in July 2014 are ranging from $568-$1,293.20 per month according to Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Data from the Consumer Price index shows that food prices have increased an average of 2.8% per year since 1990 and will most likely continue on an upward spiral.

Fortunately, there are a few strategies that can help you save big at the supermarket. Use these techniques to substantially lower your grocery bill:

 

1. Avoid paying for pre-cut and cooked food. To get the biggest savings at the checkout, stop shopping for convenience. You should avoid pre-cooked, pre-washed and pre-chopped food at all costs. Look for whole food that you can prepare instead of buying highly processed food. This is a lot cheaper and also gives you more control over how much salt, sugar and fat are added to your meals.

Another way to further your savings is by eating home-cooked meals rather than dining out. If you don’t know how to cook very well, consider asking your friends and family members to share some of their recipes. You can also do a Google search and watch Youtube videos for step-by-step instructions on how to prepare specific dishes.

 

 

2. Plan your menu around weekly sales. Prepare dishes with items that’s on sale or marked down for the week. Many grocery stores offer weekly specials on items, especially in the meat and produce department while others offer significant savings on products that are nearing the expiration date.

Purchasing items when it’s offered at rock bottom prices will dramatically increase your savings. Most meat and produce can be stored in your freezer until you’re ready to cook them. If you come across good deals, stock up on these items and plan your meals accordingly. On the other hand, if you let it go to waste you’ll be wasting money!

 

 

3. Compare prices at different stores. Avoid shopping exclusively at one retailer for groceries and other household products. There is a good chance that you’ll end up paying more when shopping at one particular supermarket. Search for specials and reward programs at all of the grocery stores in your area. You should include smaller community grocers as well as farmer’s markets on your list of places to do your shopping.

 

4. Take advantage of coupons and rewards clubs. Many stores offer deep discounts to members of their shopping clubs. It’s usually free to sign up and always remember to take your membership card whenever you go shopping.

You can save even more by using coupons that you find online. There are several websites that offer coupons for food, baby items and a long list of household products that allows consumers to download on their computer and smartphones. Using your smartphone is better since it will save time printing and clipping coupons.

Keep in mind that using coupons on an items that’s on sale will give you extra savings. Always buy food that you’re going to use. If you purchase items that you don’t use, you’re throwing food and money down the drain.

Rising food prices are making it difficult for many families to enjoy nutritious meals. Use these tricks to make it easy for you to cut your grocery bill in half without skimping on your favorites. Watch you savings grow while you’re getting more bang for your buck at the cash register!

canstockphoto13779951Many people nearing retirement don’t have any idea how their expenses will be affected. They are looking forward to sleeping late since they will no longer have to get up early in the morning for work. Have you really thought about the expenses you’re likely going to face in your golden years?

Whether your idea of retirement includes taking a trip to the Caribbean or spending time with your grandchildren, there  are going to be expenses that you underestimated or haven’t thought about. It’s very important for you to take the time to accurately estimate your expenses if you want to enjoy a comfortable retirement. Here are a few examples:

1. Entertainment. One mistake many retirees are making is assuming their recreational expenses will remain the same. There will be some drastic changes. You should consider that while you’re working on a regular job, it takes up much of you day. There is a great chance that you’re away from home for around 10 hours a day if you include driving back and forth to work.

You will probably spend much of the day doing something other than sleeping late and watching television. Dining out, traveling, playing golf and shopping is a lot more expensive than going to work. Consider that you’re replacing a full time income with activities that will potentially cost money.

2. Household expenses. Once you retire, there’s a list of household expenses that you’ll have to pay. Hopefully, you are close to paying off your mortgage. Just because your home is paid for, you will still be responsible for the property taxes. Other monthly bills to consider are the utility bills, cable service, internet and other basic expenses.

Your utility bills are certainly going to increase in the future. It’s important to take this into consideration when you’re planning for your retirement. Remember the cost of food, gas and insurance is also on the rise.

3. Medical expenses. Ultimately, health care expenses are usually the biggest expense for many retirees. The average costs of medical expenses are currently over $220,000. Seventy percent of seniors over the age of 65 will require long-term  care in their lifetime. Keep in mind assisted living average $3,500 per month, private nursing home is approximately $8,000 per month and in home care from a home health aide cost around $50 per hour.

Depending on the option that you choose, it can get very expensive.

4. Unexpected expenses. There’s a great chance that you will have to pay for the upkeep of your home and you’ll need to get car repairs. Building an emergency fund is a great way to prepare for expenses that will pop up instead of using your credit cards.

Planning for retirement can be a challenge, especially when your income and expenses are changing. While it’s impossible to predict how much all of your expenses are going to be, you should still make preparations. You may want to spend that time with interesting and fun activities. Start planning for your retirement today. Consider the lifestyle that you would like to live and the expenses required to maintain it.

5. Miscellaneous expenses. You’ll never know what new hobbies and interests you might develop over time. Maybe golf never sounded interesting before, but you may develop friendships with those that love to play. Perhaps you will develop a love of art and would like to start collecting or visiting art galleries. Assume you will find new activities to participate on a daily or weekly basis and plan accordingly.

These are just a few things that you need to prepare for when you retire. Start making plans today to enjoy a comfortable bt-free retirement.

canstockphoto28074279Divorce is challenging for a number of reasons. The legal part of the divorce can be stressful since it concentrate mainly on how the assets and debts will be split up. Divorce isn’t just emotionally draining. It can also get quite expensive.

 

There are ways you can avoid stress by learning the basics of debt and divorce:

 

1. Get familiar with the laws in your state. Since the rules vary from state to state, find out who will be responsible for paying off the debts. In some states, the name on the debt is the one that’s required for making the payments while both parties are reliable in other places. Regardless of whose name is on the account, you may still be responsible.

Speak with a divorce attorney to learn more about the laws in your state.

 

2. Joint credit cards are equivalent to joint debt. If both of your names are on the credit card, you’re also responsible for paying off the debt. If your spouse charged $10,000 without your knowledge, the credit card company will potentially hold you equally responsible for the debt.

After the separation, all credit card purchases and cash advances are the sole responsibility of the person that made the transactions. The time period of the separation occur depends on the laws in your state.

 

3. Cancel all joint accounts during the divorce proceedings. You don’t want to be held responsible for your soon to be ex spouse taking out a large cash advance or mounting credit card debt. Make sure that you’ll have enough money in your account and check your credit rating before cancelling the credit card account.

 

4. The court ruling may not protect you from creditors. If your name is on the account, the court’s decision doesn’t matter to the creditors. If there’s a credit card, mortgage, car loan or any other debt, you are still liable. This can negatively affect your credit if your ex fail to pay it off.

 

You can also face a lawsuit for the debt. If this describes your situation, you have the option to sue your ex for failing to honor the agreement. This can be very stressful for both parties. If you feel that you’re not responsible for paying the debt, allow the courts make a decision on the matter.

 

5. Pay off outstanding debts. Paying off all of your debts or converting joint accounts to individual accounts will make the divorce process easier and less stressful. If this isn’t possible, keep a close watch on your joint accounts and get a copy of the documentation of your finances.

 

6. Consider the mortgage payments. The banks unlikely will remove either of your names from the mortgage.  The more people that’s responsible for the mortgage payments, the happier it will make the lender. It’s probably best for you to sell the home and split the proceeds. If either one of you decide to keep the home, you have the option to refinance the home to remove the other party from the loan.

This is usually the largest debt that’s created by married couples and is also chaotic during divorce proceedings. The parent with physical custody of the children will typically get possession of the home.

Refinancing is a possible solution if one of you have sufficient income and a good credit rating and there is enough equity in the home.

Selling the property is the best choice to pay off the mortgage in most cases. This will allow both parties to be free of debt and rebuild their life.

 

7. Think twice about signing a quitclaim deed.  It allows one party to give up all claims of the property. Many people make the mistake of thinking they are no longer responsible for making the payments if they sign it. You will lose any equity and use of the property and still be responsible for the mortgage payments.

Divorce can be emotionally and financially draining. The way debts are handled during the divorce process depends on the laws in your state. A good divorce attorney can help you to make sure that your finances are intact and make it easier to transition to the single life without emptying your bank account.