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How Much Will Cutting the Cord Save You?

Cord-cutting will save you money but for many people, that’s only part of the equation. Yes, you want to spend less on cable, but you want to do that without sacrificing too many shows you enjoy watching. So, before you rip the Band-Aid off, look at the facts, and find out exactly what cord-cutting would look like for you.

The cord-cutting decision is a big one. You need to weigh how much you’ll save vs. how much you’ll miss out on. What price do you put on being excluded from conversations about the latest shows and sports on cable? Are we talking about significant savings or significant pain here?

To start, let’s take a look at the numbers to figure out what you’re really paying per month for movies and TV shows.

What are you really paying for your viewing pleasure?

If your family is like 78% of U.S. households, you are spending an average monthly payment of $107 to subscribe to a pay-TV service (either traditional cable television, a satellite service, or a streaming option. That’s a number which has steadily inched up year after year.

When you have a family like mine, you may have also committed to several online streaming services. It’s hard to say no when friends on social media gush about must-see programs like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime, The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, and The Mandalorian’s baby Yoda on Disney+.

Together an average family entertainment package — cable plus streaming services — can add up to over $140 per month, and that doesn’t include games.

How much are you spending?

And with so many cable options and a new “must-have” streaming service popping up seemingly every day, it’s easy to zoom past the average, if you’re not paying attention. Even if you stick to “the basics,” the amount you can spend can pile up fast.

Entertainment payments per month:

  • Cable bill: $107. U.S. average (according to a 2018 study by Leichtman Research Group)
  • Netflix for two H.D. streams: $12.99 (assuming you’re not borrowing a friend’s password!)
  • Amazon Prime: $12.99 (or a bulk bargain at $119 per year)
  • Hulu: $11.99

Pro tip: You can cut and paste this information into a spreadsheet to start your family budget for the new year.

Why not call and cancel cable right now?

Heck, you could save yourself $100 if you just cut the cord right now. But before you spend that money on last-minute holiday gifts, you should find out how much more your cable provider (which is generally also your internet provider) will charge you for broadband once you drop cable.  It’s generally at least $10 more a month without a bundle discount but, in some cases, the cost increase to get internet alone can be much higher, so, you have to weigh your actual savings.

Those fancy streaming subscriptions need a high-speed internet connection. Your cable/internet provider knows that and intends to make as much money off you as possible even if you cut the cord — this is especially true if you live in a market with only one provider (that also happens to be the cable company you just jilted).

I live in a rural area with broadband available only via Comcast. So, for us, it’s pay up or get ready to listen to the cows and the crickets. Our introductory rate was about $50 per month, not including setup and fees. Find out if you have a choice. Search for broadband and DSL providers in your zip code. The vast majority will offer service that’s fast enough to stream on multiple devices but be careful to read the fine print as what speeds the company promises to deliver. You will need service that’s 25 to 50 Mbps (megabits per second) in order to stream video well.

Before you cut the cord, do your research! If there’s competition in your area for internet service, try to negotiate a discount. It costs nothing to try, and you could save real money.

Pro tip: Some cable companies will offer you a “skinny” bundle with the major broadcast networks for just a few dollars more than getting internet alone. Ask before you fully cut the cord.

Prioritize your happiness

Cutting the cord almost certainly means losing access to some programming. That makes it a hard decision even when the savings will be significant. It’s important to look at your personal and family viewing habits before you make any decisions.

If you watch a lot of network television and live sports, then keeping cable might make sense for you. Or, if you prefer the content on streaming services, then go in that direction.

Consumers have more choices when it comes to television than ever before. That can be daunting – it’s easy to buy more than you can consume.

The good news is that most streaming services don’t penalize you for joining, watching what you want, and then leaving. Mix and match in order to find the right blend for you. That may mean leaving cable or opting for a smaller package.

Your options are plentiful and the choice is in your hands…though you’ll probably want to talk it through with all the other TV viewers in your home so you don’t accidentally inflict significant pain for relatively insignificant savings.

–By Nic DeSmet

The post How Much Will Cutting the Cord Save You? appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

How to Have the Money Talk When You’re Dating (+ Printable Games!)

If you’re dating someone you see a future with, talking about money is an important step in your relationship. While most couples try to avoid the topic of money altogether, especially in the beginning stages of a relationship, having the money talk early (and often) can help ensure you and your partner are on the same page — or at least heading in the same direction.

After all, you wouldn’t want to get engaged without knowing whether your partner has a budget in place or an outstanding debt that could become your own.

The money conversation gets a bad reputation for being awkward, but it doesn’t have to be. Addressing money early on is one great way to keep you and your partner feeling comfortable in your relationship trajectory. Use the printables below to turn your money talk into a chance to get to know your partner better through fun games and conversation starters.

Turn Money Talk into a Date Night

While having the money talk is essential, you don’t want to spring it on your partner out of nowhere. You also don’t want to wait until a fight around money arises. Instead, consider scheduling a date night for you and your partner to talk about money. Let them know that you’ll be discussing finances, and ask them to come with any questions or concerns of their own.

You’ll want to schedule the date somewhere where you and your partner can have an open and honest conversation. Staying in is a great option, but if you do decide to venture out, pick somewhere quiet and intimate.

You can kick off your money date with this game of Never Have I Ever, which is a lighthearted and honest way to talk about past financial situations you and your partner may have been involved in.

Never Have I Ever Mockup

Download Never Have I Ever

Ease Into the Conversation

When talking about money, remember to tread lightly — especially at first. Most people have firm beliefs about finances, and you and your partner will probably have different views during certain money talk discussions. It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to come up with a plan or solution for every potential financial problem right away.

You’ll want to consider where you are in your relationship before you tackle certain sticky situations. After all, you may not want to dive right into prenuptial agreements or retirement savings when you’ve only been seeing each other for a few months.

These conversation starters will let you ease into the conversation without heightened tensions. We’ve categorized these by relationship stage so you and your partner can easily decide what you feel comfortable discussing, and when.

Let's Talk Money, Honey! Mockup

Download Lets Talk Money, Honey!

Learn More About Your Partner’s Wants

People have different desires and expectations for what their life will look like in the future. While some people are determined to reach the peak of professional success, others prioritize family time and fun.

Understanding your partner’s preferences allows you to evaluate and manage expectations in your relationship early on. Would you be upset if your partner turned down a promotion in order to spend time at home? Conversely, would you be okay if your family took fewer vacations in order to afford a more expensive mortgage?

You can learn more about your partner’s preferences with this game of Would You Rather. Print out the sheet below for a fun and revealing activity about your partner’s wants.

Would You Rather Mockup

Download Would You Rather

Set Future Goals Together

Understanding your partner’s future plans is just as essential as learning about their financial past. This vision board craft will let you and your partner articulate your dreams and the steps needed to achieve them. While not every life goal is directly tied to growing your assets, almost every dream requires some sacrifice and money spent.

You and your partner should each fill out a vision board with two to three goals you hope to achieve over the next five years. Feel free to use colored pencils or markers to get more creative! Once you’ve both completed your sheets, share them with each other. Remember to ask your partner specific questions about their goals so they know you’re actively listening.

Couples Vision Board Mockup

Couples Vision Board Download Button

Acknowledge and Appreciate Your Differences

As you have the money talk with your partner, you’ll probably notice some differences in your attitudes towards finances. You’ll also likely have different priorities when it comes to spending and saving.

For example, you may not see the value in buying expensive workout equipment for the garage, and your partner may not agree with you spending a few hundred dollars on clothes every month.

These differences don’t mean there’s trouble in paradise: everyone has a different relationship with money and you don’t have to match up to your partner on everything. In fact, even big disagreements can be worked through with communication and compromise.

You may be a spender and your partner may be a saver, and that’s okay. Rather than tearing your partner down for their financial opinions, celebrate your differences with these appreciation cards. Write down things like “I love how you invest time, money, and energy into your health and body” to let your partner know you respect their goals and passions.

Download All Button

Make a Monthly Budget Tracker

If you and your partner are gearing up to take things to the next level, whether that be moving in together, getting engaged, or another relationship milestone, consider setting aside time during your money talk to prepare a monthly budget.

Our free budget tool lets you create a budget and then track your spending each month to see if you’re meeting your financial goals. You can also stay on top of shared bills and receive personalized tips and advice.

Remember that a budget isn’t written in permanent ink: you and your partner can learn and grow together and make adjustments when needed. Even if you aren’t combining finances yet, you can use this monthly budget as a mockup plan for the future.

While sometimes it may seem easier to avoid the money talk altogether, the best way to prevent future arguments over finances is to discuss money early and often. Remember that keeping conversations casual and positive as you learn about your partner’s relationship with money is key.

As your relationship progresses, so will your conversations around finances and how to work together to achieve your individual and shared goals. Check out our list of money talk dos and don’ts, and remember to celebrate financial victories big and small with your partner as you go.

Sources: Investopedia

The post How to Have the Money Talk When You’re Dating (+ Printable Games!) appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

Money Lessons You Must Master to Find Success and Build Wealth

Have you ever thought about life lessons about money? Honestly, most of us haven’t because we go through our day-to-day lives without taking the time to reflect or even journal about our experiences. This past week, I had the chance to visit my kid’s elementary school during lunchtime. It has been a LONG time since … Read more

Read More… Money Lessons You Must Master to Find Success and Build Wealth

Source: moneybliss.org

Watch Your Wallet: 7 Hidden Costs of Self-Isolating at Home During Coronavirus

Coronavirus Is Costing You Cash at Home: 7 Hidden Expenses of Self-IsolatingYuttachai Saechan/Getty Images; realtor.com

Those who are fortunate enough to still be collecting a paycheck while quarantined or sheltering in place might expect to build up some serious savings. While you work from home, you’re avoiding your usual commuting expenses, and you’re probably saving money by not going to bars, restaurants, and movies, or skipping that vacation to Fiji.

But as spending decreases in some areas during self-isolation, it can creep up in others. To brace yourself and your budget, keep an eye on these expenses while you’re self-isolating at home.

1. Utilities

If you’ve gone from office life to Zoom life, you’re spending more time at home than usual, which could ramp up your household expenses.

“Your utility spending might be considerably higher if you’re spending more time at home cooking, charging devices, using lights and appliances,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

To keep your utility bills down, turn off lights when you leave the room, open windows during the day to let in cool air, unplug devices that you’re not using, and consider turning down your water heater by a few degrees.

2. Groceries

Grocery delivery

m-gucci/Getty Images

Even if you’re not hoarding (and you shouldn’t be), you might find yourself spending more on groceries while you shelter in place.

For some people, an uptick in grocery spending will be offset by the money saved from not dining at restaurants. But if your local store is picked over—or if you pay fees for grocery delivery—you could spend more on groceries than usual.

“I’ve been to a local grocery store, and the only thing that was available was organic, so I couldn’t buy the generic. I actually had to spend more money,” says Steve Repak, author of the “6 Week Money Challenge for Your Personal Finances.”

If your grocery spending feels out of hand, be flexible and creative with your menu. Cook the food you already have at home before you head back to the store. Sites such as Eater have compiled resources for home cooks, including Pantry Cooking 101 and How to Stock a Pantry.

If you’re using a delivery service, place infrequent, larger orders instead of several small orders. Or consider curbside service; many stores are allowing free pickups where they bring your groceries right to your car, so you can save on delivery fees and tips.

3. Meal delivery and takeout

You may not be able to enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant, but you can order takeout and delivery—and those indulgences can add up quickly. After all, it’s not just the meal you’re paying for.

“There’s probably still a service fee, and on top of that you have to leave a gratuity,” Repak says. (It’s also a good idea to generously tip the workers who are delivering your food in these times.)

If you’re on a budget, reserve takeout and delivery for special occasions or those days when you just can’t muster the motivation to cook.

4. Alcohol and other sources of comfort

Curl up with a good bottle…

Moyo Studio/Getty Images

If you find yourself decompressing with a glass or two (or three) of wine every night, your drinking habit could do a number on your budget. And you wouldn’t be alone—alcohol consumption has shot up nationwide, and in states where recreational marijuana is legal, dispensaries are reporting booming business.

“Social isolation is really strongly linked to physical and mental health problems, and the way we cope with a lot of them is by drinking more,” Repak says. “People are going to smoke more and drink more … and we need to find other healthier coping mechanisms to offset that additional spending.”

You may not want to totally forfeit your evening glass of pinot, but you can make your supply last longer by sipping a mug of (far more affordable) chamomile tea on occasion, or opting for a calming yoga video or breathing exercise.

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Watch: Our Chief Economist’s View on the Pandemic, Mortgage Rates, and What’s Ahead

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5. Subscriptions

You’ve rewatched all your favorite shows on Netflix and Hulu—so, now’s the time to add a Disney+ subscription, right?

Not so fast, Repak says.

“Save a little bit of money by just picking one of the streaming services,” he suggests, or at least don’t pile on new subscriptions to the ones you already have.

To free up your budget, take inventory of your other monthly subscriptions, services, and other recurring expenses, and see if there’s anything that can be eliminated.

“Ten dollars a month may not sound like a lot, but if you have five of those, that’s $600 annually,” Rossman adds.

6. Online shopping

Online shopping knows no quarantine

Poike/Getty Images

If you turn to retail therapy to soothe your soul, your budget could take a hit. True, many retailers are offering deep discounts in order to move merchandise, but even discount purchases add up.

“Impulse buying is a potential trap,” Rossman says. “Some people fall victim to it more than others.”

Instead of clicking “add to cart” as a coping mechanism, Repak suggests cleaning out your closet instead.

“This is a great time that we can offset our budget by decluttering our house or apartment,” he says.

Use sites like Poshmark to sell your clothes, or Mercari for your household items. Many donation centers such as Goodwill are still accepting donations, too—just call ahead to make sure your local store or donation drop-off location will take your items.

7. New hobbies you’re trying in quarantine

Our spending habits are highly personal, and you might find yourself throwing money at a new habit or hobby to fight cabin fever.

“It’s a worthwhile exercise to track your spending, especially now that so much is different,” Rossman says. “Look through your credit card and bank statements from the past month. Do you see anything surprising? Are there areas where you spent extra but didn’t feel it was worth it? These could be good ways to cut back.”

And remember: Even if quarantine has eliminated some of your old day-to-day expenses, it’s easy to overestimate how much you’re saving.

“Most people don’t have a great handle on their budget and spending habits anyway, and so much has changed of late,” Rossman says. “It’s easy to overlook things.”

The post Watch Your Wallet: 7 Hidden Costs of Self-Isolating at Home During Coronavirus appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com