4 Budgeting Tips for the Sandwich Generation

Budgeting Tips for the Sandwich Generation

Everyone wants the freedom to live their own life. But for the sandwich generation, this is easier said than done. Having a family can put a serious dent in your budget. Add taking care of elderly parents to the mix and you find that balancing your family and financial obligations is ten times harder. These budgeting tips for the sandwich generation will help you get through this.

As someone in the sandwich generation, you know just how hard it is to raise children while also taking care of your aging parents.

One of the best ways to manage and come out on top is through effective budgeting. Keep reading to learn money tips for the sandwich generation.

1. Be Open & Set Boundaries with Your Parents

Though it can be hard to have tough conversations with those you love, these talks are a must. While you want to support your parents in any way possible, it’s important to balance your own health, happiness, and finances while doing so.

Talk to your parents about what makes the most financial sense and help them plan their budget. If one of their wants simple isn’t feasible for you, such as moving into your home, it’s okay to say no.

Discuss the financial impact and discuss other housing options that are affordable and safe.

2. Boost Your Emergency Fund

Planning for the unexpected is a must. From unforeseen medical expenses to car or home repairs, it’s best to be ready for the worst to happen just in case it does.

Being sandwiched requires financial preparation. The best way to plan and prepare is by having a healthy emergency fund.

Make sure that you have at least 6-9 months’ worth of expenses saved. This way you can cover any unexpected expenses while also having peace of mind if you lose your job.

If feasible, encourage your parents to start aggressively saving as well.

3. Set Up a College Savings Plan

Odds are that you want your children to go to college. And while there are scholarships and grants to help offset the cost, it never hurts to set up a college savings plan as soon as possible.

By saving when your child is still young, you have years to plan, which means years of compound interest and growth. There are many ways to save for college, including:

  • 529 Plan
  • U.S. Savings Bonds
  • Coverdell ESA
  • Roth IRA
  • UGMA/UTMA custodial accounts

Start saving now, and by the time your child is 18, you’ll have a lot less stress.

4. Keep Saving for Retirement

Dealing with financial obligations and responsibilities from all sides makes it all too easy to put yourself on the backburner. While you want to take care of your family and your parents, don’t forget about your own needs. Check retirement account options as early as you can.

At this stage of life, you’re likely planning for your own retirement and thinking of how you want to live out your golden years. To give yourself some financial stability, continue to contribute to your retirement savings.

Maximize your earnings by contributing as much as possible, diversifying your portfolio, and taking advantage of any employer matching.

Final Thoughts

Taking care of your own family while taking care of your parents is no easy feat. However, with these budgeting tips, you’ll find that you can lead the life you want without feeling overly burdened or pressured.

3 Times You Think You’re Saving Money That Actually Cost You

Saving Money That Actually Cost You

Creating a healthy saving system is an essential step towards achieving true financial stability. However, life is riddled with examples of times when you think you’re saving money, but you’re actually setting yourself up for a financial loss. 

Below is a collection of such examples. Take note of the following points and keep them in mind the next time you’re debating a purchase or investment: 

1. Impulsively Shopping at Sales

Shopping for essential items when they’re on sale is an excellent way to save up! However, the trouble begins when people start buying nonessential items solely for the sake of availing a discount, which gives them the illusion that they’re saving money just because they’ve spent a lesser amount than the original price. Tip: You may use a shopping app to list down essential goods to buy.

Sales cost money, too! So, just because an item was purchased on sale doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve saved a significant amount of money. You still had to let go of some amount, albeit a smaller one, to purchase the product. This results in them unnecessarily spending money they could have otherwise saved.

2. Compromising on Product Quality to Save Money

Although cheaper alternatives to certain products will help you save money in the short term, there’s a high chance they’ll end up weighing your wallet down in the long run. 

This is because cheaper products are typically of lower quality than their pricier counterparts, resulting in them breaking down or malfunctioning sooner than you’d have expected them to. 

Investing in a cheap product usually means you’ll need to replace it much sooner than its pricier alternative. In the end, you end up spending more money trying to either repair or replace the damaged, low-quality product than you would have needed to spend had you bought the higher-quality product in the first place (despite the latter’s heavy price tag). 

So, be smart and buy the expensive, high-quality option. Yes, it will cost you more at the start. Try looking at it as a smart investment that’ll help you save money in the long run.

3. Compromising on Medical Visits

Doctor’s visits sure do cost a lot of money, but the good part is that they help you avoid spending even more money in the future on curing diseases that were caused due to negligence on your part. 

In other words, although skipping your doctor’s visits may seem like a smart, money-saving idea right now, this decision could end up taking a toll on your health, leaving you with massive medical bills to pay in the future for conditions that could have easily been avoided had you not skipped your doctor’s visits in the past (for the sake of saving a few extra bucks in the short-run)

The key to achieving a healthy, balanced approach to saving is to spend money on investments that will benefit you in the long run instead of trying to save a few extra dollars in the short run. Build an emergency fund in case you need to have medical visits.

Saving money doesn’t mean you cut off all your expenses (even the sensible ones!) Instead, it suggests that you cut down on inessential purchases and redirect that amount towards your savings jar. 

8 Affordable Ideas for Your Patio Makeover

Patio Makeover

With summer coming up, you might be looking forward to spending time outside with your friends and family. It’s always lovely to sit and enjoy the sun with your loved ones on your patio. Buying a home is an option, but patio makeover can be more sustainable.

If your patio is looking worn-out, here are eight affordable ways to give it a makeover just in time for summer.

1. Paint it

A coat of paint can make all the difference to the appearance of your patio. It‘s an affordable way to give your patio a makeover. You can paint over its existing colour or choose something different to give your garden a new lease of life.

2. Add Some Lighting

Lighting is a great way to give your patio a makeover. You can add small spotlight across the edges of the decking to illuminate your garden. This is particularly helpful if you want to host evening garden parties when the sun has set. You can also go for some hanging string lights to add a magical touch to your garden.

They add atmosphere and character to your patio, and there are several lighting options available, most of which are affordable and great quality.

3. Update Your Patio Furniture

Old furniture can leave your patio feeling outdated and drab. Replace your tables and chairs with brand-new ones to give your partial an immediate makeover. There are hundreds of variations available, ranging from small to large, and modern to contemporary. This is perfect for those summer BBQs you host with your friends and family round!

4. Add Some Greenery

Your garden is the perfect place to add in some colourful flowers and plants. You can opt for some hanging baskets around the fence above the patio, or place some filled plant pots around the edges.

5. Repair Any Damage

If your patio is worn or cracked, it can make your time out in the garden less enjoyable. Repairing any damage is a cost-effective way to get rid of any signs of wear and tear without having to replace the whole patio. Avoid wasting money on necessary purchases. You can buy weed killer to get rid of any unwanted growth too!

6. Get a Large Umbrella

For those hot summer days, an umbrella is a necessity to keep you cool in the shade. They also protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Get yourself a bright umbrella to place above your table, ready to enjoy your time outside on the patio.

7. Lay Down a Rug

If you don’t want to repaint the patio or buy new furniture, consider laying down a rug. Whether you choose a bright, patterned rug, or a more neutral option, this is an easy and inexpensive idea to give your patio an immediate makeover.

8. Add Some Candles

Candles are amazing to add atmosphere to your patio area. They are super relaxing and provide a beautiful low light for the evening time. Plus, the scented candles smell great!

5 Tips for Budgeting Together as a Couple

Budgeting Together

Some folks seem to think that finances get more complicated when individuals become a couple. Well actually, that may not always be the case. In fact, it can actually be the other way around. Budgeting together may actually be easier and less cumbersome, especially if you follow these tips!

If you are in a relationship now and want to improve your financial literacy with your partner or are just preparing for when your dream gal or guy comes around, keep on reading to learn about 5 tips for budgeting together, as a couple.

1. Communication is Key

Communication is vital is practically every facet of a committed relationship. This much is also true when it comes to money and budgeting. Talk about things like:

  • Your salary
  • Debt
  • Assets
  • Saving goals

Talking about finances can be an awkwardly private thing. But it doesn’t have to be, especially with your partner. The open and honest you can be about money matters with your partner, the better.

2. Understand Your Individual Money Financial Style

Everyone is different when it comes to how they understand, spend, and save money. The decisions people make as adults regarding their money are largely affected by their upbringing. So, understanding the foundation of your partners financial upbringing is important (and interesting).

Maybe they were raised to be more frugal than you. Or perhaps more free spirited with their money. Whatever the case may be, knowing what their current money style is, and how it meshes with your own allows for more budgeting success as a couple.

3. Determine Your Needs as a Couple

We each have our list of individual necessities when it comes to life. It could be the type of food we like to eat, the activities we enjoy and the type of lifestyle we practice. In a couple, you have to begin to assess the shared needs as well, especially once you begin to live together. 

Considering items rent, utilities, transportation and debt can help to determine the size of budget you need to live the life you need as a couple.

4. Talk About Your Individual Wants

You may think you have a lot in common with your partner, but everyone wants different things. Despite being individual in nature, like gym memberships, hobbies, and home improvements, with a shared budget, individual desires become shared.

There needs to be give and take, or compromise, when it comes to what the individual wants and how it affects not only the shared budget, but also the other person in the relationship.

5. Outline Your Shared Financial Goals

The goals we have for our futures are directly connected to our finances. Talking about each other’s goals, as they relate to finances and life in general, will help you get a better idea for how to budget as a couple. You may check these money apps to achieve your financial goals.

Ask questions like:

  • What does retirement look like?
  • Are children part of your future?
  • What travel plans or dream vacations do you have?
  • Would you like to buy a house?

With answers to questions like these, and by taking a few other tips to heart, you will begin to flesh out differences and commonalities that can help prepare your budget together moving forward.

Related Reading: 8 Healthy Financial Habits You Should Start Today

Top 4 Money Hacks for One Income Families

Money Hacks for One Income Families

In the world we live in today, everything is getting more and more costly. As a result, most families need numerous or more than one earning member. In the case of families having a single income source or earning member, things are quite different. 

Starting from the source of income, to expenses and budgets, a rigorous planning is necessary. Even if the source of income is huge, proper money handling is very important. Here are some effective money hacks for one income families. 

Hack 1: Proper budgeting and expense tracking

The first thing to do as a one income family is create a budget. The budget must be according to the level of income. While making a budget, it is sometimes important to cut corners. The budget should primarily focus on the daily needs and expenses. Make sure you do not add anything unnecessary to the budget.

To make sure that you don’t spend out of budget, tracking or keeping records is crucial. You must keep a record of every single expense. In addition to that, keep track of every bit of money, whether it is earned, saved, or spent.

Hack 2: Savings are always helpful

After spending according to the budget, there is a good chance of having an extra amount of cash in hand. In such cases, the wisest thing to do is save that money. However, it is not wise to consider leftovers as savings. 

The smart thing to do is setting aside a certain amount from the monthly income. As a result, some cash automatically builds up. However, upon acquiring large savings, the chances of spending on a frenzy rise in many. In such scenarios, the issue of emergency expenditures must always be considered. Savings can be great blessings in times of emergency. For example, in cases of medical emergencies and huge-scale debts, savings can remove the burden of expenses.

A very significant form of saving is investing in life insurance. It ensures the security of the non-earning members of the family, in the event of the earning member’s death.

Hack 3: Sort out major expenses

Like daily needs and expenses, the major expenses require severe attention. Major expenses can comprise debts, taxes, mortgages, or any form of debt. If a person having loans is the only earning member, his or her death will put the other family members in a huge problem.

As a result, paying off debts is a great issue for one-income families. In addition to that, expenses such as school fees, and medical bills also fall in the category of major expenses. However, major expenses vary from one family to another. 

Hack 4: Be tactical while spending

Spending according to a budget is not the only way of reducing expenses. Being tactical makes it much easier. Avoiding home deliveries is a good way of reducing costs. Instead of being lazy and ordering online or via phone, getting the parcel yourself is a good way. However, there are always exceptions.

Avoiding credit cards is also an effective method. Credit card charges and debts can easily cause a person to run low on cash. Completely avoiding credit card usage is not mandatory. As mentioned earlier, tracking is crucial here. As for credit card debts, one must treat them as a major expense. 

In day-to-day expenses, you have to be very strategic. For instance, instead of buying vegetables, and dairy products from a super shop, you can go to the farmer’s market. This way one income families can afford the same things, but fresher and at a lesser price.

The Bottom Line

One income families do not necessarily need to lead a very strict life. All it takes is to be strategic and cautious. Pre-planning and these money hacks for one income families can help family live a more disciplined and comfortable life.

Related Reading: 7 Types of Income and How They Can Change Your Future

6 Money Habits for a Richer 2021

Money Habits

It’s the New Year, and for many, a time to reflect and set new goals. According to a recent survey on spending habits, “63% of respondents lived paycheck to paycheck in 2020.” Developing effective money habits are crucial for a healthier, wealthier future and something anyone can achieve with discipline and practice. Below are our top six money habits that will set you on a path to financial health in 2021. 

Identify Your “Why”

Before you do anything else, carve out time to identify why you want better money habits. Do you need to get out of credit card debt? Are you hoping to retire early? Do you want to provide a better future for your kids? Travel the world? Your why will be that little voice keeping you on track when you want to stray from your goals. 

Track Your Spending

This is a must-do if you hope to have better spending habits. Find a time every month, week, or even day to go over your spending in relation to the money coming in. Create separate categories for different kinds of expenses. You will likely have a fixed category for expenses that do not change like your mortgage or car payment. Develop other categories for expenses such as going out to eat, entertainment, and shopping. You might be shocked at how much you are spending in some categories!

Set a Budget

Now that you understand your spending patterns, set a budget for each of your categories. Paying in cash or with a debit card is much easier to track and keeps you from the constant debt cycle that comes with using a credit card. Keep your budget accessible so you can refer to it when you need to. Mint is a great app for keeping track of your budget. 

Create Small, Achievable Goals

Instead of making one goal for the entire year that might be abandoned 6-months in, make a 90-day goal with clear directions on how to achieve it. Some examples could be paying down a specific debt, saving a certain amount of money, or any other tangible goal that aligns with your “why.” By creating a deadline, you are holding yourself accountable and breaking down what may feel like a large, daunting task into bite-size pieces. Your goals may change throughout the year, so re-evaluate them every 90 days. 

Pay Yourself First

This piece of advice, made famous by Robert Kiyosaki’s famous work, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” feels counterintuitive but is a life-changing habit to adopt. Each time you get paid, put a percentage of that money in savings first before anything else. While challenging at first, you’ll be amazed at how your spending adapts over time. You may also surprise yourself with how much you saved over the year!

Learn About Money

Lastly, healthy money habits are a continuous learning process. Read a book, attend a seminar, surround yourself with financially savvy people. Invest in your financial education and you will see results.