Forced to Retire Early? Follow These Five Tips

Retire Early

Sometimes, we may be forced into a position where we have to retire early. While this may cause some initial problems, it might benefit you in the long run. However, preparing for an early retirement will involve some difficulties. Due to this, we want to share five steps you should take if you need to retire earlier than you expected.

Think About Pensions and Social Security

As you worked at your job over the years, you most likely put money into social security, and you may have a pension. This means you will need to strategize your pensions and social security to get the most out of your benefits. Each of these will provide you with a certain amount of money. While social security benefits automatically accumulate as you pay taxes, you will need to see if you have a pension. 

Identify A Location

As you plan to retire, you need to find the best location available. You will still need to pay certain bills and taxes, so you need to find a location with a low cost of living. On top of this, you should purchase the home you want to live in to avoid paying rent. Once you identify the location you want to move to, you can create your plans around that idea.

Look at Investments

Many people will have different investments they contributed to as they worked. This can include IRAs, 401k plans, and purchasing stocks that increased in worth. You will need to review your investments to see how much money you earned through all of them. From here, you can add these investments into your funds alongside your pensions and social security. This will help you see how much you will have during retirement.

Create a Budget

Once you know how much money you will have, you can create a budget. Depending on the options you have available, you could easily identify how much money you will have access to each year. From here, you can divide your money to see how much you can spend each month. This will assist you as you plan for your retirement.

Make Necessary Life Changes Immediately

If you plan to move, get a new home, or anything else that will change your life, you should do it immediately. If you hold off on these changes, they will become major expenses later on. Since you will most likely receive your money in portions, you won’t be able to pay them all off at once. Due to this, it’s better to make those changes as soon as you can.

Conclusion

While you will face some problems when you need to retire early, these steps will help you out. Following them will let you see the amount of money you will need to retire alongside any other preparations you should consider. These steps will get you on the right track as you prepare for your early retirement. Make sure you review and apply them to make your retirement process as easy as possible while ensuring you have enough money for your needs.

5 Affordable Easter Basket Ideas

Affordable Easter Ideas

Children love Easter and some of us never grow out of this yearly joy. Easter is not just a holiday where people wear fun pastel colors or attend a dawn service. It’s also the first real spring holiday where kids run around, share candy, and generally have a great time. We all remember our own wonderful experiences decorating eggs and doing the yearly egg-hunt, and many families also have an Easter basket gift tradition.

So how can you make this Easter just as delightful without financially splurging on Easter baskets? Don’t worry, Easter is one of the most DIY-friendly holidays on the calendar.

 Where to Get the Baskets

  • Garage Sale Baskets
  • Construction Paper Basket Weave
  • Bunny Bag or Bunny Box
  • Hot Glue Basketry
  • Garden Planter Basket

First, get yourself a few fun Easter baskets. They don’t have to match. In fact, traditional easter baskets rarely match and make for delightfully chaotic decor when stacked together. You can find baskets in garage sales and thrift stores for cents on the dollar if you want wicker or wire baskets. Or you can make your own by getting creative. Make a bag or box into a bunny with homemade ears for a bunny-basket. Or hot-glue things to a bowl to make it into a basket when it wasn’t already. Or repurpose a plastic garden planter that you decorate for Easter.

 Affordable Easter Basket Fill Ideas

Now let’s quickly dive into a few awesome affordable ideas to fill your Easter baskets.

1. Homemade Easter Cookies

Never underestimate the joy of iced cookies. A box-mix or tube of cookie dough, icing, and food coloring are all you need to fill every Easter basket to the brim with adorable Easter-themed cookies.

2. Wildflowers and Seeds to Grow at Home

Easter is all about spring and renewal, so bring some of that springtime joy to the easter baskets. Include packets or shaped ‘bombs’ of wildflower seeds and then stuff your baskets with beautiful locally picked wildflowers for the nature-lover in your family.

3. Dollar-Store Prizes in Plastic Eggs

Plastic eggs are THE tradition for Easter joy, especially for children. If you’re planning an egg-hunt or just to fill a basket with plastic eggs, fill them with dollar-store prices. You can go all-out with candy, but most kids love the discovery of whether there’s a quarter, a parachute-man, or a bounce ball in every one of those little eggs.

4. Make Rabbits Out of Everything

Short on time, supplies, and stuffed animals? No problem! Find creative ways to make rabbit ears with cardboard, paper, and cloth to turn everything into an Easter surprise. If you’re adept at hotel towel folding, you might even make a towel-bunny for the giggling delight of your young relatives.

5. Hand-Decorated Easter Eggs

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget egg decoration. For normal hard-boiled eggs, all you need is crayons, food dye, and your ceramic mug collection. But you also don’t have to stick to real eggs. You can personally decorate anything egg-shaped and non-perishable eggs might even become precious keepsakes to remind your loved ones of the special Easter you spent together.

Easter doesn’t have to impact your finances this year when it’s one of the most DIY-fun holidays to share with your family.

Save and Make Money with . . . Bamboo?

Bamboo trees

With so many ways to save money, using bamboo might not be the first thing you think of. Yet, it is such an amazing resource that provides so many benefits. Not only is it one of the sturdiest materials in the world, it can go very far when it comes to saving you some money. Everything from making your own backyard bamboo farm to using it to cut down on utilities, bamboo is a product that is both multi-faceted and versatile. Read below to find new ways that bamboo can help you make and save money.

Start a Bamboo Farm

One way to make supplemental income is to start a bamboo farm. You can start a small bamboo business for only $800. Bamboo is one of the most commonly utilized plants on the planet. Over half of the world’s population use bamboo in one way or another. Bamboo is also the fastest growing plant, with the record for one plant growing 47.6 inches in one day. You can buy different types of bamboo to sell to different customers. It has thousands of uses. You should grow what sells. It is possible to make $72,000 with a quarter an acre of space.

Use Bamboo Products

One of the best ways to save money is to use bamboo products. There are plenty of products made with bamboo that will save you in specific ways. The company Seek Bamboo is a zero waste store that has products like bamboo toothbrushes that can help you save money over time. The company also manufactures non-bamboo products that will help you save money and time. For example their wool dryer balls provide a way to shorten the time it takes for you to dry your clothes, offering a natural way to soften them and get rid of static.

Another product is bamboo cutlery, which is a great alternative to plastic. Not only is bamboo biodegradable, it will last longer than single-use plastic cutlery. It is also affordable, durable, as well as stain and odor resistant. Furthermore bamboo paper products last much longer than, for example, your average paper towels. Bamboo paper products can be washed and used over and over again. This will cut down on your paper product expenses around the house.

With so many products like bamboo straws, toothbrushes, soap, and even bamboo bedding options, there is no reason to waste your money on cheap, tenuous products. Instead invest in reusable bamboo that will last a lot longer than the others.

Eat Bamboo

Bamboo is also a healthy ingredient used in cooking. It isn’t just cheap, it is hearty and good for you. While it is widely consumed across Asia, few people in the West eat bamboo. Bamboo is filling and delicious when prepared correctly. You can put it in a stir fry or, if you are really ambitious, make bamboo noodles and other products. Bamboo doesn’t typically go bad and can be stored for a very long time. It may sound wacky to suggest eating bamboo as a way to save money, but the benefits are endless. It is non-perishable, healthy, cheap, and delicious.

Bamboo & Society

Bamboo doesn’t just help individuals save money, it can be used on a much wider scale to facilitate civilization. It is a renewable resource that can be harvested in one to five years while other trees like oak take around forty years. Bamboo will help combat deforestation. It doesn’t just absorb greenhouse gases, it releases 35 percent more oxygen into the atmosphere than hardwood trees.

As mentioned above, they have an incredible growth rate. No other plant grows as fast, some species can even grow more than three feet in a day. You can also use every part of the bamboo plant in some way, making waste very low. It is as versatile as it gets. It requires no pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides. Bamboo protects the soil and can provide all kinds of economic development.

Bamboo is a miracle plant of sorts. It is useful and eco-friendly, growing in a wide variety of environments. You might think that bamboo is a weird way to save money, make money, and forge new opportunities to live in a more sustainable and cleaner world. But in fact it is very fitting. 

Tips for Saving Money by Troubleshooting Appliance Repair

Appliances in need of repair

From subscription services for coffee and tea, meats, and even movies, people are constantly trying to save money on the things they use and love. However, when it comes to household appliances such as the fridge, dishwasher, stove, or washer and dryer, instead of trying to troubleshoot what’s wrong with their appliances, they either call in the professionals or simply replace them instead. 

In reality, you’ll save a lot more money by downloading appliance troubleshooting guides, such as DIY refrigerator repair manuals, than you will by replacing the appliance instead. In this blog, you’ll find some of the ways you can save money by troubleshooting and DIY repairing instead of calling a repair service or replacing the appliance. 

Repairs Cost Less/Add Years of Use

Think about it, spending a little bit of money on parts and tools for an appliance beats spending hundreds for a repairman or thousands to replace the appliance. Not only does the troubleshooting guide work you through what could be wrong with your appliance, once you fix it, it’ll add years to the life of the appliance as well. What’s not to love about that? Less money and extended years of use make it a win-win for sure. 

Older Is Usually Better Made

While newer is sometimes considered to be better, in reality, older appliances are just made better and are much sturdier. While older appliances aren’t as energy-efficient, they do have better parts than newer appliances do. The appliances of yesterday were made with quality metal parts, today’s appliances are apt to be made cheaper with a lot of plastic that breaks easily involved. If possible, it’s better to repair than replace, even with the energy-efficient models on the market, if you want the appliances to last you for years to come. 

Newer Appliances Use Complicated Computer Technology

While everyone has to eventually be dragged into this highly tech-driven world, you can prevent that with your appliances by repairing them yourself instead of calling someone or replacing them. Technology tends to break easily and you’re stuck with an appliance that you don’t know how to repair, so why not stick with what you know as long as you can and save money at the same time? Modern kitchen appliances have their place in the world, but not while your old ones are still useful. 

Motherboards Are at Risk

Many consumers don’t realize that today’s high-tech operated appliances are at risk just because they are tech motivated. A power surge or a storm can easily fry your new appliances even if they aren’t being used, just because of the motherboards that operate them. This will end up costing you more money than it would have to download an appliance repair manual and fix your old appliance DIY style. This isn’t to say that an appliance can always be fixed, but you should do what you can to fix the one you have until you can’t. 

Helps to Protect the Environment

Finally, though it won’t save you much money, repairing your appliances means that you’re doing your part to save the environment. So many old appliances end up in landfills, which pollute the earth to no end. While eventually you will have to replace every appliance, no matter how good you are at your DIY repairs, you can put this off by downloading troubleshooting manuals and at least giving it a try. 

These are just a few of the ways that you can save money by downloading troubleshooting manuals to repair your own appliances instead of replacing them, or calling in outside help. While they will eventually have to be replaced, it won’t be today.  

How to Pay Off Your Debt with a Zero-Sum Budget

Credit cards, student loans, car payments, mortgage — the average American now owes $137,063, including mortgage debt. Younger people are more likely to carry higher credit card and student loan balances, but even though you’re more likely to owe much more on your mortgage as you grow older, retired Americans still carry an average of $2,500 on credit cards.

What financial goals could you achieve if you didn’t have to pay on credit cards, student loans, and car payments every month? You could pay off your mortgage earlier, put more away for retirement, or save more for a house downpayment. Even if it’s not your goal to become completely debt-free, paying off high-interest credit card debt and difficult-to-discharge student loans can only improve your finances. Zero-sum budgeting — a budgeting method by which every dollar you make is accounted for in some way — can help you get there.

Zero-Sum Budgeting Explained

The goal of zero-sum budgeting is to use every single dollar you make, either by spending it, saving it, investing it, or using it to repay debt. You can use a spreadsheet or a pen and paper to add up your income and expenses, then allocate each dollar to a purpose. At the end of each month, your budget should balance out to zero. At the very least, you should have a small amount of cash left over at the end of the month, but you should never overspend and go into the red.

Applying the Zero-Sum Method to Your Finances

Zero-sum budgeting is a fairly straightforward method to put into practice. Use your previous month’s income and expenses to get a realistic picture of how much you’re making and how much you spend. If you’re completely new to budgeting and haven’t been using any budgeting software to track your expenses and spending so far, you’ll need to carefully go over your previous month’s bank statements and credit card statements. Figure out how much you took home last month after taxes (remembering to add back in any amounts deducted from your paycheck for retirement, health insurance, and other benefits).

Next, add up all your spending for the month and divide it into categories: housing, utilities, groceries and eating out, insurance, car payments, phone bills, and so forth. Remember to include minimum payments on credit cards, student loans, mortgage debt, and car payments, even though you may pay more than the minimum on those debts in months to come. For the first month, at least, leave yourself wiggle room — add another 15 percent to the amount to cover expenses you may have forgotten.

Once you’ve brainstormed all your essential expenses — things you can’t live without, including clothes, gas, personal care items, and grooming — don’t forget to leave yourself from room for fun. While you might well be able to cut back on frivolous spending like eating out, going out drinking or to other entertainment, and miscellaneous shopping for nonessentials, you still need to give yourself some money to enjoy the things you enjoy. Otherwise, you’ll start to feel deprived and struggle to maintain your budget and reach your financial goals.

As you go over your spending for the previous month and put it into categories, you’ll begin to see areas where you can cut back. Maybe you have more streaming subscriptions than you need, or you’re still making monthly Patreon donations to that podcast you lost interest in months ago. Maybe you’re spending hundreds a month on restaurant meals or buying stuff you don’t need. By taking a look at your spending and setting some achievable goals, you can free up lots of money for debt repayment, and you can start an emergency fund that can keep you out of debt in the future.

Pay Yourself — and Your Creditors — First

It’s all-too-easy to sabotage a zero-sum budget by deciding to “wait and see” how the month pans out and pay “what you have left” towards debt. If you do that, you’re already setting yourself up to fail. Instead, commit to the budget and use the pay yourself first method to save and pay off debt.

Figure out how much you have to pay toward debt and pay it right away from each paycheck. Set up an automatic transfer to send funds to your emergency fund in your savings account. Then you don’t have to run the risk of spending it when you go over budget in one of your other categories.

Are you living paycheck to paycheck and racking up credit card debt, despite having a healthy income? A zero-sum budget can help you find the extra funds to knock out debt, fast, so you can focus on achieving your financial goals.

Three FAQs About Financial Assistance

When people imagine dealing with banks, they picture a messy business. It revolves around endless paperwork and causes headaches all around. It doesn’t have to be this way.

If you’re considering taking out a loan, whether a short-term or a long-term one, you must have plenty of questions regarding every step of the way. In that case, doing extensive research will save you a lot of legwork.

What you’re reading now is far from a full guide, though. Exploring our favorite banking blogs, we noticed some questions showing up over and over again.

Here are the answers.

What Are Alternatives to Bank Loans?

If you’re considering taking out a personal loan, it would be smart to take a look at other options besides your bank. After all, you should stay completely loyal only if they provide the best conditions. So, what are other possibilities?

  • Online Loans are the best options for those situations when you need money quickly. Plus, you’re likely to find better interest rates. Online lenders don’t have overheads to pay, and they are dealing with competition – which delights the borrower.
  • Credit Unions are organizations which consider the full picture of your finances. Thus, if you have bad credit scores, they are more likely to approve your loan than a bank.
  • Home Equity Loans come at a lower cost, which is their most significant benefit. However, be sure you will be able to repay this one, or you’re risking losing your home.

What Are Prepayment Penalties?

Sometimes, you get a windfall or a raise, and you’re able to repay the loan to your bank before it’s due. To your surprise, then you have to pay an additional amount of money in the form of a prepayment penalty.

To prevent this from happening, you should check the contract you signed with your bank. Look for a section on prepayments. It determines a set of circumstances resulting in a penalty if you pay off your loan prematurely.

When Can I Get Title Loans?

Title loans are of great help when you find yourself strapped for resources. All you need is personal information and a vehicle with a title. You give your car as collateral and get money in return.

But can I get a title loan while still making payments, you ask? The short answer is yes. Nevertheless, not every lender is willing to bear such a risk, so you will need to look for the right one a bit longer.

Once you’ve found a lender not refusing to make a deal with you, it all comes down to the assessment they make. In essence, they will grant you a loan if they estimate you’re capable of repaying it – even if you’re still paying off your vehicle.

If you’re considering giving it a shot, remember this; your chances will be that much higher if your car was financed through a bank when you first purchased it. Nowadays, the same goes for car dealerships.

Final Thoughts

These are just bits of knowledge representing the tip of the iceberg called loan making activities. Yet, every piece of information you can get your hands on is crucial. It could save you from potential expenses and guide you towards a more profitable deal. We hope you’ve learned something useful today.

New Years and Money

The beginning of the year can be tough for some families. The holidays usually lead to excessive spending so you often feel the monetary effects after the holidays pass. A brand new year also means preparations for tax time as well. Depending on your lifestyle and business choices, you may owe money for taxes. The New Year also means New Years Resolutions for most families causing for some changes in family spending. For all of these reasons, New Years is often a popular time to think about your spending and savings and ways to improve your family’s financial situation. Below are a few tips to aid in your family’s quest to a money makeover.

Lower Bills

The first and most obvious source of a budget killer are utilities and monthly bills. So a key to saving money is to evaluate what you are spending your money on and if you can lower it. Lower your costs and you will have more money available to save. Keep a list of all of your monthly bills and utilities to see if there is anyway to eliminate any. Do you belong to gym but never use it? Cancel the membership! Do you have multiple cable boxes in the house? Do you use them all? Can any of them be eliminated to save money on your cable bill? You can also call your cable, cell phone, car insurance, etc. to see if you are getting the best deal. It’s possible that just by calling you may be able to save some major cash. It’s better to be saving money than uselessly spending it.

Coupons

An easy way to save money and an easy way to be frugal is by using coupons. Coupons can be used basically everywhere. You can use coupons on groceries, clothing, gas, travel, etc. There are so many places to find coupons. One way they come is through the mail. People often find advertisements, flyers and coupons from their favorite stores in the mail. Most stores ask you to provide your email so that they can send you coupons via email as well. Another popular source now a days are discount sites. Popular sites available are Groupon, Couponcabin.com or Retailmenot.com . Just by going to the site you can find any coupons available for a particular store or service. Depending on how serious you are with using coupons, you can save some major cash.

Stash Away Money

Your everyday spending is something to be evaluated as well. Spending money on little things can add up to major cash per month. The biggest culprit is coffee. If you get your coffee out than it could add up to $50-$100 a month. That could be your water bill, or even go towards your child’s education. It is best to try to put off on purchasing these novelties on a normal basis. If you can’t, then a trick that is good for saving is to stash away money  each time you go and spend money on these type of purchases. You spend $2.47 on coffee in the morning? Put the 0.53 in a savings account. Over time it will accumulate to substantial cash.

Loan

If you dug yourself a hole and are having a hard time getting yourself out, than a loan may be something to consider to pay off your debt. There are many sources of funding, like norskkreditt.no, that can help you research what is best for you and your family.

These quick tips are just a way to get you started on your way to saving. Obviously there are extremes for each of these but even doing a little bit at a time will help and eventually add up to something. It is important to be disciplined, than you will be able to save for you and your family. Let the new year be a new start for your family when it comes to saving and spending.