A 2015 Gallup poll showed 37% of Americans won’t retire until after age 65, up from 31% in 2009 and 14% in 1995.
Some of these newly minted senior citizens are delaying their retirement years out of need, having taken a hit in their investment portfolio during the 2008-2009 recession. Perhaps they tried timing the investment market and got in or out at the wrong time, or perhaps they didn’t get back into the market until it was too late.
Seniors are going into what would normally be retirement years, but they aren’t able to retire or don’t want to. Other seniors work after retirement age because they want to keep busy and stay mentally active.
Whatever the case, those retiring after the traditional retirement age have different financial planning considerations. Government benefit plans including Social Security and Medicare, for example, have an impact on seniors whether or not they use them.
Here are three financial planning areas to consider if you’re planning to work past age 65:
If you really need the Social Security money, then take it, especially if you’re not earning much from your employment wages. But know that you’ll be penalized in benefits. Those younger than full retirement age (which the government says is 65-67, depending on when you were born) will lose $1 in Social Security benefits for every $2 you earn above $15,720 in income in 2016.
Before deciding whether to take this government benefit while working, it’s a good idea to look at your cash outflow. That means considering whether you’re putting a lot of charges on credit cards, and spending unnecessarily in other ways.
While you may be covered under your employer’s health plan, you shouldn’t ignore Medicare. People who are working still need to be aware that there are substantial penalties if you don’t sign up for Medicare by age 65, even if you’re staying on your employer’s health plan.
When you sign up for Medicare, you are signing up for part B, which includes outpatient care and preventative services, as well as part D, the prescription drug benefit. You don’t have to tap into the benefits right away, though you’ll get billed for the premium. You can still use your employer-provided healthcare for primary coverage.
For most people, though, it makes sense to use Medicare as primary insurance, and employer coverage as backup, especially since employer coverage may pick up coinsurance and deductibles.
You’ll be hit with a 10% penalty for every year you don’t sign up for Medicare after age 65, and that penalty stays with you. That means you’ll pay 20% more at age 67, which is an ongoing penalty. Some people who are working aren’t aware of it.
Why does Medicare do this? The government wants to know what its costs will be. It’s part of the government budgeting and allocation process.
Retirement account withdrawals
Working after retirement age lets you continue adding to your retirement account. Once you hit age 70 1/2, however, you are usually required to take the minimum 401(k) or IRA distribution, even if you’re still working. (Roth IRAs don’t have this requirement.) That can be damaging from a tax standpoint. You might be getting investment income, wages and then taxable retirement account distributions. While you might not need the money if you’re still working, taking the withdrawals might still put you in a higher tax bracket.
One break, though, is if you’re working and contributing to an employer-based 401(k). You don’t have to take withdrawals from that active account, even if you’re older than 70.5.
If you’re planning to work past age 65, consider consulting with a financial advisor to make sure your bases are covered.
When your son or daughter begins playing a sport for the first time, there are many things that might make you nervous. How to explain sportsmanship? How can I help them stay safe while playing sports? But what parents might not consider when their child shows an initial interest in a particular sport is how that passion can take a toll on their finances.
As a child becomes more skilled at a sport, the minimal per-season fee can increase to become a costly commitment, especially if you have multiple children who want to participate. The necessary items for a child to be on a sports team, league and tournament deposits, coaching fees, travel costs, equipment, uniforms and other apparel, can not only take up space in your home, but they can also clear out your wallet, costing up to thousands of dollars per year!
Cutting down on the cost of kids’ sports doesn’t have to mean giving up the game. Here are some money saving tips that can help your child, and your finances, win:
Don’t invest until your child is committed to a sport
When your child is still deciding which sport he or she likes best, there’s no need to invest in expensive equipment that might only gather dust in a couple months. Only buy what is necessary until he or she finds the right fit.
Along the same lines, while select leagues may seem exciting, for a child still trying out a particular sport, this type of commitment might be a waste. Instead, start your child off in a recreational league, which only requires a couple hundred dollars to participate, versus a select league, which requires a far more expensive deposit, larger travel fees and a packed schedule of practices and out-of-town games.
Encourage children to try cheaper sports
If you’re child hasn’t picked out their favorite sport yet, push them to try sports that require less upfront costs. Leagues are usually cheaper when kids are young, so that is the best time to try a range of sports that don’t require pricey equipment. Here are some of the least and most expensive youth sports to help you pick the right activity.
Cheap sports for kids to play
Keep an eye on the deals
Many parents and sports organizations support and facilitate trading, selling or buying gently-used uniforms and equipment in order to cut down costs and waste of perfectly good apparel. If you can’t find the items you need in your community, check online retailers for clearance sales.
If you need to travel and are free to book your own lodging, look online for cheap hotel deals on sites like Kayak.com, Hotwire, Expedia and many more. It is also worthwhile to explore hotel loyalty programs, which can help you accrue points for future trips to get future savings.
Search for athletic sponsorship's
Some athletic organizations offer sponsored scholarships for skilled children who lack the financial resources. If you think you have the next MVP, check to see if you are eligible.
Get involved in leagues or organizations
Sometimes you can do more to help your child’s dream, beyond just providing transportation, equipment, and a cheering section. If you have time to become a member of the booster club, you may be able to take advantage of waived fees in exchange for membership.
You may love the heat of summer, but you need to help your car keep its cool when temperatures rise. An engine that runs too hot can damage the vehicle and threaten your safety. Here are some tips we’ve compiled to help prevent your car from overheating:
Preventing Your Car from Overheating
1. Park in the shade
You can feel the temperature difference between the shade and the sun – and so can your car. Parking in the shade not only keeps you cool, but can prolong the life of your car. No shady spot? Use a sunshade to reduce heat inside the car.
2. Tint your windows
A local dealership or auto body shop can apply tinted windows to help keep your car cooler, and protect your interior from sun damage.
3. Use a sun shade
Keeping a sun shade in the car is helpful because you can’t always guarantee that you’ll find a shaded or covered area to park in. These UV heat shields will keep the interior from getting super-hot, plus it protects your interior from the damaging effects of the sun. You might even consider getting a custom-made sun screen that is designed to fit your make and model of car. These special shades can be more effective at keeping all of the rays out.
4. Get rid of hot air
Closed windows trap hot air, and the glass serves as a conductor that helps heat up the enclosed space. Leave your windows open slightly so the air can escape – and if you have a sunroof, crack that, too. Make sure the opening is not large enough for someone to reach through. If you leave your windows cracked, remember to keep an eye on the weather – one sudden summer storm could lead to a soggy interior.
5. Turn the floor vents on
Most people get in the car and turn the upper vents on “high” to get the air flowing. But you’re actually better off directing the air through the floor vents. Hot air rises, so switch to the bottom vents and put your blower on the maximum setting to push that air out. Then, once the car begins cooling, you can open the upper vents again.
6. Use the fresh air setting on your A/C
Using the re-circulation setting means you’re just moving that hot, trapped air around your vehicle, so that’s something you want to use after your car has had the chance to cool down. Give it 10 minutes or so, then switch over.
7. Keep your eye on the temperature gauge
Located on the dashboard, the device has a needle that should always be pointing toward the center. If it points toward hot, pull over, turn off the engine and let the car cool down.
8. Turning on the heat
Turning on the heat may be the last thing you want to do on a hot summer day, but it can pull hot air from the engine compartment and cool the engine. It won’t fix the underlying problem, but it’s a good measure for long drives.
9. Add engine coolant
This is especially important in hot months. To check the coolant level, open the hood and locate the coolant reservoir. The coolant level is shown by indicator lines on the reservoir. If too low, simply add the appropriate amount of coolant and reattach the cap. Engine coolant is often sold as a 50/50 mix of water and coolant. You can also buy concentrated coolant and mix it yourself.
Safety tip: Never add coolant to a hot engine. Wait for the engine to cool before removing the cap or pouring in coolant.
10. Have your cooling system flushed by a mechanic
Even if you keep engine coolant at the right levels, it will eventually get dirty and need to be replaced. Flushing involves draining old coolant from the radiator, cleaning it with flush fluid and adding new coolant. Mechanics recommend a flush every 40,000 miles, but check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation.
11. Consider replacing your battery
If your car battery is older than three years, it may not be providing the power it once did, so your car has to work harder and can overheat. Your mechanic can help you determine whether you may need a new battery.
If you find yourself in a situation where your car overheats, follow these steps to ensure you and your vehicle remain safe:
Family and Finances: Money-Planning Tips For Parents
As new parents, you will be flooded with important choices to make. The most important of these choices is your family’s financial future. Financial planning can build security, anticipate future costs, and provide goals to ensure a happy future for all. Here are some basic family financial planning tips to get your family started.
Start a Budget
Some people never organize their financial lives. Without a household budget, people spend much more than they should and have no idea of their true living expenses. It is nearly impossible to plan for your family’s needs if you are financially in the dark. If you are not mindful of your income and expenses, you can also be burdened by stress. A budget helps alleviate that stress and can help guide decisions and set goals. If you feel like your income is lower than it needs to be, you can strive for a promotion or look to lower your expenses.
Craft your budget to include savings. Savings are essential not only for surprises but also for anticipated future expenses. For example, if daycare expenses are on your horizon, you can be ahead of the game and start saving away the anticipated cost. Then, the cost may be less of a source of stress because you’ll have a few months or so of the costs saved. Vacations are an important component of family enjoyment, but they can also be a source of considerable financial stress. This is often again because of a lack of budgeting and overspending. Saving for vacation can eliminate this stress, but so can taking financially responsible trips. Not only can you have just as much fun doing activities that are less expensive, the process can teach children about what is truly important in life.
Financial knowledge means more than understanding the debits and credits of any given month, but also having a big picture of your net worth. The biggest asset for most families is their homes. Since your home can also be a source of emergency funding through a home equity loan, always keep a running tab of its value. Use Zillow, Trulia, or other online real estate portals to keep track of recent sales in your neighborhood so you can always have a rough estimate of your home’s net worth.
Understand and Maximize Tax Benefits
New parents should also familiarize themselves with different tax benefits of having children. Revisit your personal deductions with your employer, as you may not want to be over-withholding. In addition to dependent exemptions, there are deductions for childcare costs, out-of-pocket medical expense, and other rules that affect families. The IRS has a useful site full of information specifically geared towards new parents.
Include Education Savings Early
One particular area where tax and financial planning align is in college savings. A 529 plan is a tax-free savings account for your children’s college expenses. Specific account benefits may vary by state participation, but they generally allow for tax benefits when the funds are invested and provide for tax-free treatment of interest as long as the funds are used for qualified educational expenses.
Don’t forget the importance of saving for retirement as well. Some financial planners advocate prioritizing retirement savings over college savings, since your children may not attend college and/or may not need the cash, but you will definitely need retirement income. Unlike college expense, retirement does not come with numerous options for funding.
Parenthood is an exciting time. Use the opportunity to take steps to strengthen your future through financial planning. Families are smarter and stronger when they work together within a budget, so plan for the future and make wise decisions.
Photo Credit: Nationwide
If it’s in your house or on your property, you’re responsible for it.
That means that you might need to be sure that things you don’t actually own are covered by your homeowners’ insurance.
Not as much as you might think.
While the process of taking inventory is about documenting what you own, figuring out what to insure is different.
Home as storage unitThese days, many American households include a mix of generations and that means a mix of possessions. You don’t own your son’s collectible guitar or your cousin’s boat, so those items would not be included in your household inventory. But if you regularly help others out by letting them live with you or by storing their things, you’ll need to sort out what your policy covers and what might need to be covered by the owners of things you are storing or borrowing. Owners may need a tenants policy.
Often-overlooked items that might be in your home but that you don’t own include:
Value in the heart, not on the spreadsheetMeanwhile, sort your possessions into three categories: things that probably require additional insurance; things that definitely are not worth insuring and things that are probably worth adding insurance protection. This will streamline your conversation with your agent. Your spreadsheet may look something like this:
Probably worth insuring:
When in doubt, hire a licensed appraiser to review your collections. While it’s tempting to simply use online auction sites as a gauge of value, such services won’t give you a defensible estimate of value.
Your home is full of things and memories. Realizing the difference lets you concentrate your insurance investment on the things that matter most.
For pet owners who want to fly with their animals, searching airlines’ policies and restrictions may seem daunting.
To make the chore easier, check out the following chart as well as the kennel and location restrictions below to find a pet airline that meets the needs of you and your pet.
Cabin only $95 No 8 weeks Small dogs only
All $100 May be required for cargo travel 8 weeks Brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs & cats
American Airlines All Cabin: $125Checked: $175 Yes, checked pets 8 weeks Brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs & cats
Delta All Cabin: $125Checked: $200 Yes, checked & cargo pets 10 weeks Brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs & cats
Frontier Cabin only $75 For domestic travel 8 weeks Small dogs only
JetBlue Cabin only $100 For domestic travel N/A Small dogs only pet + carrier 20 lbs
Southwest Cabin only $95 8 weeks Small dogs only
Spirit Cabin only $100 8 weeks Small dogs only
Sun Country Airlines AllCabin: $125 Checked: $199 checked pets 8 weeks Weather permitting for snub-nosed dogs
United/ Continental All Cabin: $125 Checked: Varies by weight 8 weeks old Brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs & cats
US Airways Cabin only $125 Varies by location 8 week old
Virgin-Atlantic All Varies by carrier size Yes 10 weeks Brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs & cats
WestJet All Cabin:$50-$59 Checked:$75-$89 8 weeks old*Fees quoted are current as of December 2014
Kennel size regulations by airlineAirTran Max size: 18.5”L x 13.5”W x 8.5”H
*Counts as carry-on
Alaska Airlines Cabin hard-sided max size: 7.5″ x 12″ x 17″
Cabin soft-sided max size: 9.5″ x 12″ x 17″
Checked max sizes:
XSML/100 series: 15″ x 16″ x 21″
SML/200 series: 19″ x 20″ x 27″
MED/300 series: 23″ x 22″ x 32″
LRG/400 series: 26″ X 24″ x 36″
XLG/500 series: 30″ x 27″ x 40″
*XL- Size 500 kennels only accepted on certain flights.
American AirlinesCabin max size: 19″L x 13″W x 9″H
*Soft-sided carriers may exceed slightly
Checked max size: Series 500; 40″L x 27″W x 30″H
Delta Max sizes:
SML/200 series: 15″ x 16″ x 21″
MED/200 series: 19″ x 20″ x 27″
MED/300 series: 23″ x 22″ x 32″
LRG/400 series: 26″ X 24″ x 36″
XLG/500 series: 30″ x 27″ x 40″
Cargo max size: GIANT/700 series; 48” x 32” x 35”
Frontier Max size: 24”L x 16”W x 10”H
*Counts as carry-on
JetBlue Max size: 17”L x 12.5”W x 8.5”H
*Counts as carry-on
Southwest Max size: 18.5”L x 13.5”W x 8.5”H
*Counts as carry-on
Spirit Max size: 18″L x 14″W x 9″H
*Soft-sided kennels allowed
Sun Country Airlines Cabin max size: 16”L x 11”W x 8”H
Checked max size: 34”H x 48”W
United/Continental Cabin hard-sided max size: 7.5″L x 12″W x 7.5″H
Cabin soft-sided max: 18″L x 11″W x 11″H
US Airways Max size: 19″L x 13″W x 9″H
*Counts as carry-on
Virgin-Atlantic Min size: 21″L x 16″W x 15″H
WestJet Cabin max size: 16″L x 17.5″ W x 8.5″H
*Counts as carry-on
Checked max size: 40″L x 27″W x 30″H
Location restrictions by airline
AirTran International restrictions vary
Alaska Airlines Canada, Hawaii, Kotzebue, Mexico, Nome
American Airlines Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, European Union, Hawaii, Japan, Tobago, Trinidad, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela*Restrictions for Transatlantic & Transpacific flights
Delta Australia, European Union, Hawaii, Hong Kong, London, Manchester, New Zealand, South Africa
JetBlue Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Tobago, Trinidad, Turks & Caicos, US Virgin Islands
Southwest No international travel
Spirit No international travel
Sun Country Airlines Anchorage, Laughlin, New York, San Juan, St. Thomas
United/Continental Australia, Dominican Republic, European areas, Greece, Hawaii, India, Italy, Mexico, Singapore
US Airways Barbados, Europe, Hawaii, Jamaica, Middle East, South America
Virgin-Atlantic Antigua, Barbados, Boston, Cape Town, Chicago, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Miami, Narita, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, St. Lucia, United Kingdom, Vancouver, Washington
WestJet Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Tobago, Trinidad, Turks & Caicos
Understanding these airline pet policies will help prepare you and your 4-legged companion for a safe and positive plane ride. Once you decide on an airline, follow these tips on protecting your pets in the car before take-off.
If you’re a parent, the thought of a long summer car ride has the potential to strike fear in your heart. It’s not the traffic or cost of gas that’s scary. It’s the prospect of keeping the kids entertained for hours on end. That’s why having a few family car games ready to go can be a lifesaver on a road trip.
Here are a few car games for kids that can make the miles go faster and create a little family bonding in the process:
1. Barn, Bike, Beetle!
In this spotting game, the first person to spot a barn, a bike (your choice if motorcycles do or don’t count) and a Volkswagen Beetle wins. Change the spotting items to work for your surroundings.
One person says a word and the next person says whatever comes to mind. Continue around the car for as long as you’d like. For example, one player might say “blue,” causing player two to say “water,” leading the next person to say “beach house!” The beauty of the game is that there are no right or wrong answers, and everyone can play.
3. Twenty Questions
A classic family car game, Twenty Questions is a simple game that can produce hours of fun. Take turns thinking of some sort of object; it can be a person, animal, food and anything in between. For younger children, you might want to establish a certain category to make the game a little easier. Players then can get 20 yes or no questions to ask, and then have to guess the secret object.
4. I Spy
I Spy is a great car game for young children due to its simplicity. One person picks out something from the surroundings, and gives a hint. Everyone then takes turns guessing the mystery object. Don’t forget the signature phrase, “I spy with my little eye” before giving a clue!
Safety FirstWhile family car games can be a welcome addition to a road trip, safety always come first. Make sure whoever is driving maintains full focus on the road at all times and doesn’t get distracted by passengers playing a game. Here are more essential driving safety tips to keep in mind on your next road trip.
Simple fixes and smart thinking can ensure a safe environment for seniors. Stairs are the most obvious barrier to seniors hoping to stay in their homes as long as possible. But lighting, bath and kitchen design as well as access to home systems all require a top-to-bottom rethinking to ensure the elderly can manage the house and their daily lives.
Design and building professionals have become knowledgeable in the principles of “universal design,” the concept that makes the design of the house easy to navigate for everyone, not just those with compromised abilities, according to the National Association of Homebuilders. By using universal design principles to gradually adapt the home for long-term senior living, seniors can be sure that their space will meet their needs and those of visitors and health care providers.
Regina Ford, founder of Lifelong Home LLC, a Beaverton, Ore.-based consulting firm that helps seniors and families assess their homes for independent living, says the conversation is often prompted by stairs but quickly turns to other problems.
Here are some important considerations to keep in mind while making a home friendlier to seniors:
Even if the homeowner can manage the stairs to the main floor, entry stairs can be problematic for bringing in walkers, wheelchairs and medical equipment. Home services that come to seniors, such as meal deliveries, medical professionals and other aids, also need a safe route inside.
Bath and kitchen
Bathrooms and kitchens are expensive to remodel, which is why many consultants recommend integrating universal design into new projects, says Ford. Key considerations: positioning at least one sink and a stretch of counter in both bathroom and kitchen to be accessible for someone sitting down, either in a wheelchair or just in a chair. Some homeowners replace the shower or bathtub with a zero-barrier, roll-in shower that has a handheld shower head, grab bars and a built-in bench – amenities that are often welcomed by younger people, too.
An easy fix, says Ford, is replacing ball-style faucet handles and traditional doorknobs with levers. Levers are easy to manage even with limited grip strength, and they don’t tax arthritic hands, she says.
Overhead but often overlooked, lighting is a key component to independent living. Lights need to be brighter to offset deteriorating vision, and controls need to be positioned for easy access by people using wheelchairs or walkers, says Ford. Temperature, sound and home safety monitors and controls also need to be similarly situated. When electrical work is scheduled, it’s smart to add a few outlets at the same height, for plugging in nightlights where walkers won’t bump them.
Hardwood floors are easier for wheeled supports and shuffling seniors, but it’s the transition between one type of floor and another – say, from wood to carpet – that’s often a tripping hazard, says Ford. Removing or minimizing thresholds and transitions between rooms can smooth daily living and help minimize falls.
Check to make sure there isn’t any loose wiring or cords on the floor. Not only is this a potential tripping hazard, but can also be an electrical fire risk.
While not exclusive to senior living, home security systems can offer protection as well as peace of mind. Make sure to arm or turn on the system, otherwise it may not protect you.
Home evaluations for seniors
Finding someone who can anticipate seniors’ needs involves more than calling the local handyman, says Ford. Independent living consultants charge about $200 and up to evaluate a modest-sized house. The National Association of Homebuilders offers in-place consultants but, says Ford, it’s important to understand how builder-affiliated consultants are paid, as fees for some are folded into a remodeling project bid.
“Be proactive,” she says. “Think about these things while you’re healthy and when you’re young enough to pay for construction.”
Learn more now about how you can design your space with senior citizen safety in mind. Don’t forget that if you make any significant changes to your home, it’s a good idea to get a home insurance check-up to ensure your home is covered.
When your child starts college and you have an empty nest, you might have a to-do list, including travel abroad and fixing up the house.
But before you book a flight, borrow money to turn your child’s room into a home theater or think about other activities for empty nesters, consider that a growing number of students are choosing to live at home and commute to college.
Nearly one in five students opts to save money by being a commuter college student rather than a campus resident. If your child is weighing whether or not to commute to college, consider the following.
Commuting to college lessens room and board expenses
College room and board averaged $10,389 a year in the 2015–2016 school year. These expenses are in addition to the thousands of dollars you may already be paying for tuition. Eliminating this expense can make college more affordable. If your child decides to drive, you can factor in wear and tear on the vehicle as well as fuel costs, which may impact the decision.
Campus life considerations
Your child may want to make the drive to school to enjoy some late-night pizzas, evening activities and casual interactions with other students that make college fun. But if affording the room-and-board cost is a main factor in whether your child can attend their college of choice, you both may need to prioritize and schedule thoughtfully. If your child is enrolled in a school with a limited campus life, commuting may already be the clear choice.
Is driving worth it?
Look closely at where the school is located and what the typical traffic is like on the route your child would take to get to classes each day. A 1.5-hour drive during the morning and evening rush hours can limit time for studying and extracurricular activities. To make longer commutes more manageable, your child can consider scheduling their classes on the same days each week — such as Mondays and Wednesdays — to limit driving during the week.
Another consideration is the school’s available parking — can your child purchase a pass for the school lots that’s good for a semester, or will they need to pay to park in a garage off campus? Are the lots well-lit and patrolled by security guards for added safety? The answers to these questions can influence the cost and your child’s decision to commute to college.
Living on campus could mean more independence
While living at home, parents are likely to continue doing what they do best: parenting. You’ll ask about homework, remind your son or daughter about upcoming responsibilities and offer assistance for difficult decisions. You may mean well, but this can be perceived as a threat to emerging independence. This may create friction in your parent-child relationship.
On campus, your child makes the decisions. If they go out to an event and put off working on a term paper, your child will have to figure out how to get it done or deal with the grade. Such life lessons can serve as a good primer for adulthood, including the working world when they’ll have to make decisions for themselves regularly.
If your child decides to commute, it helps to set some ground rules that you’re both happy with. Have a plan in place for scenarios like how your child will let you know they’re staying on campus for the night or what you’ll do to provide them with quiet studying time at home. Having these expectations lets your student explore their independence while still respecting your relationship and the home you share.
Forming new friendships
Students will make friends whether they live on campus or not, but when a student is surrounded by people their own age most of the time, the bonds can grow deeper. These are relationships that are built on late-night study sessions and shared passions for sports, music and food. They’re those relationships that can also last a lifetime. Even if your child lives off campus, they’ll have plenty of other opportunities to build new friendships through classes, volunteering, working part time or starting an off-campus study group for other students who commute. On the other hand, commuting to college while living at home can allow your child to keep in touch with existing friends that they might have otherwise lost touch with.
Auto Insurance Deciding to commute to college is an important step for you and your child. If they make the decision to drive to campus, help them stay protected with the right car insurance for their needs.
How much do you spend on groceries weekly? The average cost to feed a family of four can be up to $1,293 per month, according to an Agriculture Department report.
If you’re grocery shopping on a budget, use these 10 ways to help save money on groceries.
1. Make a list
The first place to start when planning how to save money on food is to make a list. With a prepared list, you’re less likely to buy things you don’t need or already have. Create a meal plan for each week, check the cupboards and freezer for items you have, and make a list for what’s needed. When you go shopping, stick to the list.
2. Hunt coupons
Want to make it easier to stick to your grocery budget? Use coupons! No need to break out the scissors—in today’s digital world, clipping coupons from the Sunday paper isn’t necessary. There are dozens of coupon sites and apps you can use to find coupons and save money on groceries. Print coupons from your computer, and keep them organized by food type in a binder. Some retailers offer double coupons on certain days; check with your local store to see which day can save you even more money with your coupons.
3. Buy fewer pre-made foods
Grabbing a pre-made dinner from a grocery store is a convenient option on a busy day. However, those pre-made dinners can be costly if you purchase them regularly or they’re not on sale. Try to keep the ingredients on hand for a few quick meals — staples like rice, pasta and frozen vegetables are a great start to saving time and money on those hurried nights.
4. Cut your own fruit
Buying fruit that’s pre-cut is handy, but it’s also expensive. Buy fruit that’s in season and cut it at home to save money. Take the time to portion it out into small containers or plastic bags so it’s ready to quickly add to lunches or grab as a snack.
5. Go generic
Name-brand products are more expensive and often have a generic alternative. Check the labels. Most of the time, generic brands have the same ingredients as the name brands, but they cost less.
6. Avoid eye-level shelves
Grocery stores strategically place higher-priced items on eye-level shelves. If you look above or below, you’ll often find a similar, lower-cost product.
7. Stock up during sales
When an item hits a low price, stock up. Typically, sales are on a three-month cycle. When you see great prices on non-perishable foods like pasta or crackers, it’s best to buy enough in bulk to cover the next two or three months.
8. Avoid buying kitchenware
If the mixer breaks or your favorite cookie sheet looks a little rough, the grocery store isn’t the best place to buy kitchenware. Search for better deals elsewhere. Check online retailers and compare prices rather than buying out of convenience.
9. Start an herb garden
Rather than purchase cut herbs at a grocery store, start your own herb garden. The cost of pots, dirt and seeds is a small investment that can pay for itself in a few months.
10. Shop without the kids
When kids join the shopping adventure, you may spend more time in the store, and they may ask for extra items that aren’t on your list. If you have children and are able, try to shop alone so it’s easier to stick to the list.
By using these tips, you can learn how to save on groceries and can use the extra money to give the family budget a boost.
SPI Reflections Blog
Our blog is about educating our customers and the public about important insurance information that we feel is meaningful.