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. 

5 Easy Steps to Build Your Emergency Fund

Emergency Fund

The unexpected can happen at any time, which could leave you without an income, a job, or at another type of disadvantage in life. When this happens, having access to some sort of emergency fund can be a significant advantage. An emergency fund gives you access to finances in dire times. In turn, you gain an opportunity to get back on track, while being sure that financials are covered by this fund.

Following a telephonic interview, one report shows that a mere 23% of adults in the US have an emergency fund. This means the remaining 77% are left at a disadvantage should they be struck by misfortune. If you are looking for some solid advice to get your own emergency fund going, then simply follow the five simple steps we share.

1. Understand Your Goals

One of the most important factors when it comes to saving plans and funds is to understand the financial goals you have. Before you build an emergency fund, set clear goals that are easy to follow – then break them down into smaller ones. Perhaps you want to aim for an emergency fund that can care for your entire family for a period of six months. Consider how much would be needed. You should also determine how long it will take you to achieve the goal.

2. Open the Right Account

The type of account you use for your emergency fund is important. Certain account types come with several fees that need to be paid on a monthly basis. This can reduce the amount of money you end up saving in the fund. Talk to your bank manager and make sure you use an account that is suitable for an emergency fund.

3. Create an Automated Deposit Plan

In an interview, 32% of people who are aged between 18 and 29 reported feeling more secure about their job security. Even though secure, unexpected events do happen. Once your account is up, be sure to configure an automated monthly deposit. This way, you’ll never forget to add more funds.

4. Cut Expenses or Increase Income

To build up your emergency fund faster, consider getting a side hustle that brings in some extra cash. Alternatively, see if there is any way to cut on some of the expenses you currently have.

5. Add Manual Payments

If you are able to create a second income or cut down on expenses, then you give yourself an opportunity to get to your goals faster. As you obtain extra income, be sure to make a few manual payments into the savings fund. This ensures you build-up toward the goal amount faster and that you will be sufficiently covered in those unexpected events.

Conclusion

When struck by a misfortunate event, such as a job loss, or a serious disease, having an emergency fund can save the day. Unfortunately, many Americans do not have any type of emergency fund at their disposal. To get started with yours, be sure to follow the five steps we shared in this post.

4 Ways to Help You Boost Your Retirement Savings

Boost Your Retirement Savings

Planning for retirement is something that anyone can do. Whether you’re a fresh graduate who just landed their first job or a long-time worker nearing retirement, you should boost your retirement savings. If your company offers a 401k, you’ll have accumulated a decent chunk of change over your career that you can cash out upon retirement. However, if you want to maintain your current lifestyle after retirement, you’re going to have to do a bit of planning. and self-moderated retirement investment while you’re still of working age.

Here are 4 ways to help you boost your retirement savings so you can retire in comfort.

1. Set a final goal and milestones along the way

It doesn’t matter what you’re working toward, you’ll get the best results if you know exactly what your goal is. Just saying you want to boost your retirement savings isn’t enough.

First, come up with a number that you think will allow you to live in comfort after retirement. It’s alright to use your current cost-of-living as a yardstick. You just add or reduce as you think is necessary for the quality of living you’re aiming for post-retirement.

The next step is to calculate how much money you need to put aside each month to reach that goal by the time you retire. If you’re planning on retiring early, you’ll have to put a lot more money into your savings every month. Experiment with the calculations until you find an amount that you can afford to save every month that won’t drastically negatively impact your quality of life today.

2. Start saving as early as possible

Due to the way compound interest works, it’s best to start saving as soon as possible. For example, a 25-year-old who puts in $50 a month will have roughly as much money saved up by retirement age as a person who puts away $100 a month in savings but started at 35 years old.

If you’re already putting some money away every month in a retirement account, stick with it! Consistency over time is key to achieving your retirement goals and boosting savings. And if you haven’t started saving, do it now! Every day you put off not opening a savings account will increase the money you have to invest each period in order to reach your retirement savings goal.

3. Save your extra funds

In life, there will be times when you’ll find yourself with some extra money. Whether you’ve received an inheritance or just got a raise, don’t forget to stash extra funds into your savings. It can be tempting to splurge that extra money on something fun and fancy. Try to put at least half of it away in your retirement savings. Treat yourself with something small and affordable. If you just got a raise, then go ahead and spend some of that extra money on something nice. Just remember to always work toward your retirement goal.

4. Delay your Social Security payment as long as possible

In America, you’re qualified to start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits from the age of 62. However, the longer you delay pulling from your Social Security savings, the more money you stand to earn.

For each year until the age of 70, your monthly benefit from Social Security will increase. If you’re able and willing to continue working past 62, every year you delay retirement will significantly affect your total benefits from Social Security. This also means greater survivor benefits for your spouse, which is another key factor to keep in mind when considering retirement.

Related Reading: How to deal with debt in retirement

Money Saving Tips that are Just Plain Weird

Being in debt, or permanently just skirting it, can be really stressful. It can feel like you’re trapped in a swamp – the more you struggle, the deeper in you feel. Of course, setting up a debt management plan is your first priority, as you’ll feel – and be – more in control.

Once you feel you’re headed in the right direction, you can take even more control – and maybe even bring a bit of fun (remember that?) back into your lives. Saving money can be a source of amusement and solidarity and can offer a sense of purpose – no matter how bonkers some of the ideas are. Here are four of the more out-there (but no less effective) ones.

Train your cat to use the toilet

As insane as this sounds, the cost of owning a cat can be more than £1,000 a year when you factor in food, vet bills, de-worming meds, toys and so on. You can’t nix the food and vet parts, but you can reduce or eliminate the cost of cat litter, which can total more than £100 per year. There are lots of toilet-training guides online, but if your moggy really doesn’t like it, then you’ll have to find another way of saving £2 each week. Like forgoing that fancy coffee.

Changing font before hitting “print”

Domestic printing is notoriously expensive – it can often be cheaper to just replace the printer and use its starter ink supply! Not using the printer at all would be the ideal answer, but it’s a necessary evil sometimes. Bring in some damage limitation by decreasing the size of the font and the font itself. Apparently, Century Gothic uses around a third less ink than the more commonly-chosen fonts. Using draft mode is also handy, but don’t go too far with this and with decreasing the font size – teachers don’t like using magnifying glasses to grade homework…

Make the world a cooler place

We all know how turning the thermostat down a degree can shave off 10% of your heating bills. That’s great, but how about having a chilly challenge? That’s right. No heating for one day a week, or for a few half-days a month. Our forebears managed it. Choose sunnier autumn and winter days and try to go as long as possible before sparking that boiler up. Even if you only manage a couple of hours, it’s something, and you can come up with some fun ways to stay warm, like hanging out in the kitchen and batch-cooking (which is another good money-saver; just not quite as bizarre…).

Wear too many clothes onto the plane

You’ve found some cheapo flights on a budget airline! Yay! But what’s this? Your luggage is a couple of kilos or centimetres over and you’re being charged £20? You can eliminate this risk, which is often a problem on return flights, by wearing some of your luggage – two jumpers, a skirt over trousers – you get the picture. You could also develop heat exhaustion, though, so do watch what you’re doing.

5 Steps You Can Take To Pay Off Your Debt

Whether you have some student loans, have been unfortunately living on your credit cards, or have just made a mistake or two along the way, you deserve a debt free life. You’re just going to have to work for it. That’s ok, though- work means goals and goals feel great to get to. You can get motivated by this process and actually use it to start taking real control over your financial life.

Every process begins with step one, and we will start there too. Take deep breaths and tell yourself you can do this, because you can! A few small changes will make way for bigger ones and you’ll start to see your debt number shrink.

Budget, Budget, Budget

You knew this was coming. You need to have a budget, you need to read it and you need to stick to it. If this feels painful, remind yourself that it feels worse to overspend and end up in a bad position. It also feels worse to have the uncertainty looming over you of not having any idea what is going on with your finances.

Figure out all of your expenses for the month (break them down weekly if that works best for you) and subtract that from the total amount of money you bring home every month. This clearly shows you your ‘wiggle room’ or ‘fun money’ but it also shows you the potential you have to put funds away. You don’t have to always spend it all.

Calculate your debt so you know what that figure looks like. Knowledge is power and the first key to your financial freedom.  How much of your ‘fun money’ can you spend to pay off your debt? Can you make other sacrifices in other areas of your budget to free up more funds? We will talk about tips for that a little later.

Conventional wisdom is to pay off the largest debt first so concentrate your money there as much as you can. How long will it take you to clear that debt? Now you have a goal and a date to motivate you. Once the first debt is done with, apply that money to the next largest debt and so on.

Cash Is King

It is often the best idea to make cash transactions when you are on a budget. There is nothing like a real time, physical representation of what you are spending to keep you focused on your goals. If you want, you can even use the envelope method of saving, where you set aside cash on a weekly basis in labeled envelopes to cover the cost of your bills and keep your spending money separately, also as cash.

Avoid the temptation to borrow from the envelopes, though! For some it is easier to open a separate checking account for only bill funds and transfer those monies on a weekly basis. You may not even want a debit card for that account. Understand your shortcomings and don’t berate yourself for them, just figure out a way to outsmart yourself for your financial protection.

Eliminate the Fluff

As you work your budget, you may find you’d rather spend an extra $20.00 a month on food than on streaming services for entertainment. You could get by with one instead of the three you have. Maybe you pay for lawn services even though you have a lawnmower. Why not get out and get some exercise and DIY to save some funds? The same goes for some luxuries like pedicures or some hair salon services. By doing these things yourself, you can build more room in your budget.

This is a good time to talk about coupons and discounts too. Talk to all of your service providers to be sure you have the best and most current deal they can offer. Be firm and ask for what you want. When it comes time for the grocery store, think about shopping at a discount or wholesale store and buying items you frequently use in bulk. Pick up the Sunday paper and plan your meals around what is on sale. You can save significantly by doing this.

Coupon are available for many goods and services on various online coupon websites. Frugaa.com is one of those sites and has grouped discounts and deals together to make finding them easier. Before you buy an item of clothing or a gift for someone, see if you can spend less with a discount code.

Saving As A Student

If you’re enrolled in a degree program, talk with your financial advisor to be sure you have availed yourself of all possible scholarships and grants to help pay for your education. A professional can help steer you in the right direction.

Try to buy your books used whenever possible or shop online to see if there is a better deal to be had than in your university’s bookstore. See if you can befriend anyone who is in a class you know you’ll be taking next year and offer to buy their books from them.

More DIY, In The Kitchen

Grabbing food on the go is a great way to watch funds stream out of your wallet and into someone else’s. It is fun and entertaining to go out to eat, but your budget may not allow many splurges like this if you goal is to be debt free. Once you are, you’ll have more extra spending money than ever before, so this is’t a life sentence, just a temporary tweak.

Slow cookers are a huge asset to apartment dwellers or people who don’t fancy cooking. You can load economical food choices like rice, beans and cheaper cuts of meat into the slow cooker and let it do the work for you.

If you want to simulate the experience of going out with friends, try a night of co-cooking once a week. You and your friends can each bring a dish to pass or bring ingredients to the host’s home and everyone can cook together before sharing the benefits of companionship and a great meal.

Get Started!

If you can employ these ideas and get excited enough about them to believe in them, they will work for you. If you have a little money stashed, call your creditors and try to negotiate the debt. If you can do this with even your first, biggest debt, you’ll be well on your way to ridding yourself of the rest. The plan works, so just work the plan and stay positive about the steps you are taking to master your financial future.

Introducing the Roth IRE

Oh man. I might be going to personal finance hell for this one, but ya gotta at least hear me out. You’ve all heard of the Roth IRA right? You know, it’s a crazy awesome type of Individual Retirement Account. Well, today I would like to introduce you to a new concept. The Roth IRE. That’s right. An Individual Retirement Emergency fund.

If you’ve heard of the Roth before, you probably know the annual contribution limit is $5,000. You probably also know that Roth contributions are made with ‘after-tax’ money. What you may not know is this tasty little morsel: Anyone can withdraw their Roth IRA contributions at any time, without penalty. No, you can’t withdraw earnings, but the contributions are free game.

So here is what I’m thinking. I currently have $10,000 in my E-fund. Currently, that’s about 6 months of expenses. Once I get hitched, however, that $10K only becomes like 3 to 4 months of expenses. This means I am faced with two goals that will soon conflict one another. My goal to have 6 months in an E-fund vs. my goal to fully fund my Roth every year. Unfortunately, I can’t do both at the same time. Either the E-fund savings takes precedent, or the Roth contributions become priority.

This is why I have decided to intertwine the two goals.

I’m yet to contribute a single dollar to my Roth this year, as I’ve been aggressively paying down my student loans and saving for things like my wedding. This hasn’t left me with a ton of flexibility in my cash flow. What I plan to do is save $5,000 as quickly as possible. I’ll contribute to my Roth IRA in three increments (a $2,000 contribution and two $1,500 contributions…I’ll explain why I don’t dollar cost average in a future post). Since I will be diverting all of my discretionary income to my Roth, my E-fund will remain stagnant.

The chances of me actually needing access to my E-fund are slim at best. I have a very stable job, am in pretty good health (knock on wood), and don’t have a ton of expenses. Since I’m 96.3% sure I wont be using my E-fund any time soon, I’d rather contribute to my Roth and maximize it’s earning potential.

If, by some freak chance, I end up unemployed I’ll first use my $10K savings. If I am still jobless after three or four months of hunting, I can always tap in to my Roth. Yes, I know, using a retirement account as an E-fund is a personal finance sin, but if there is no tax penalties it’s not so dumb. Besides, it will only take me a few months (after I’ve contributed to my Roth) to build up my E-fund to a true six months worth of expenses, so the window for me to be “up a creek without a paddle” is very small.

What do you think about the plan? Would you contribute to your Roth or E-fund first? Anyone else out there do what I’m doing and use the Roth as a “short term” E-fund option? Any financial know-it-alls see any flaws in my game plan?