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Money Coach

April 2011 - Posts

  • How to NOT wind up with a wedding bill like Wills and Kate

    THE wedding is tomorrow. You may have heard a little something about it. Prince William will marry long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton. It's one of the most talked-about events of the year, and will no doubt be talked about for a long time to come.

    But how much is this royal shindig going to cost? Current estimates vary, and range from $34 million to $70 million. Whatever the cost, you can bet it will be one of the costliest events in history. 

    Here's where the money's going: $32 million for security, $11,000 for Kate's wedding ring, $600,000 for the receptions, $434,000 for the wedding gowns, $80,000 for the wedding cakes, $800,000 for the flowers, and $64,000 for cleanup after the festivities. That's one big check.

    It's likely the British taxpayers are going to be paying for a large portion of the wedding and all its trappings. Most people don't have that luxury. So how can you keep the cost of your nuptials manageable?

    • Determine your priorities. Are you most interested in the right location, the food, the flowers or the number of people invited. Knowing your priorities ahead of time can help you decide where to spend and where to not spend.

    • Keep the guest list to a minimum. You don't have to invite everyone you know, and you'll save money by keeping the numbers down.

    • Reduce the number of people in the bridal party. It's tradition to buy each member of your bridal party a gift, and by keeping the numbers low, you can cut expenses. You'll also save money at the rehearsal dinner.

    • Get a family member or friend to conduct the ceremony, and save the money a minister may charge.

    • When it comes to musicians, you can save money by calling the local college music department. Students work much cheaper than professionals.

    • Have your ceremony and reception at the same location. 

    • Get help with invitations, flowers and programs from talented friends and family. This can literally save you hundreds.

    • Work with a photographer that will provide you with all of your wedding photos on a CD for one low price – you can have as many inexpensive copies as you like reprinted. 

    Once you have your final wedding plan determined, but before you pay any deposits, decide where you can simplify. Simplicity saves money, and if done well, can make your wedding day much more serene and awesome.

    Posted Apr 28 2011, 12:00 PM by moneycoach with no comments
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  • Working together is the key when it comes to finances for newlyweds

    One of the most difficult things about getting married is figuring out how to shift from handling your own money to handling “our” money “together.”

    Budget negotiations and financial goals can be a source of contention for newlyweds, especially if they don’t have the same financial priorities. But ideally, these discussions should be held before you take that walk down the aisle.

    Setting financial goals as a couple is the first step in negotiating a budget. These goals can give you a guideline on how you both feel you should prioritize your spending and savings. Common areas in which to set goals include getting out of debt, saving for retirement, buying a house and setting spending limits.

    Before you begin creating your budget, look at how you’ve been spending your own money, and then compare that with your new financial goals as a couple. This should let you know how much you will need to change as you set up your new budget.

    Getting your expenses to match your income and still fit into your goals is when you’ll find the deepest negotiations take place. Remember that compromise is key, and that each spouse’s preferences should be factored in, and that each spouse should have some spending money of his or her own each month.

    Once you’ve created the budget, you need to begin to follow that budget. This will require that the two of you sit down and track your spending on a regular basis, whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly. Any changes or overspending will need to be discussed and agreed on as a couple.

    Remember, taking these steps takes time and practice, so once you’ve set up your budget, stick to it and be patient with each other. Communicate frequently about what’s working and what isn’t working. And above all, keep your focus on your goals. 

    Posted Apr 20 2011, 01:14 PM by moneycoach with no comments
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  • There is help for single parents struggling to make ends meet

    There was an old woman 

    who lived in a shoe,

    She had so many children

    she didn't know what to do;

    She gave them some broth

    without any bread;

    She whipped them all soundly

    and put them to bed.

    Not exactly sound parenting. But who could blame her? All those kids running around – and she obviously had little money. This had to be why they got broth without bread. Sounds like they were all a little on the bratty side, since she felt the need to just give up and put them to bed. And there's no mention of a father, so apparently, the poor woman had all these kids to raise on her own.

    How does a single parent make ends meet? With all the stress that is sure to come when raising kids on your own, the added stress of a mismanaged budget isn't exactly welcome. Creating a budget is the first step to successful money management, even with a gaggle of kiddos.

    As a single parent, you must be a careful spender and keep, at the very least, a basic budget for your household. Being responsible about money will help you to meet your family's needs and hopefully still have some money left over for some extras every now and then. 

    Here are some tips:

    • Tell vendors you're a single parent. Sometimes they'll cut you a deal.

    • Buy second hand.

    • Stay out of expensive stores where you may be tempted to buy things you can't afford.

    • Find entertainment for your family that costs little or nothing, like borrowing movies at the library, or going to the park. 

    • Make use of supermarket coupons. 

    • Make things yourself, like clothes, snacks, birthday cakes and home repairs.

    • Join an online or live single parents support group.

    Saving money can be challenging for single parents. But a few easy steps is all it takes to make the difference in whether you succeed or fail. 

    Posted Apr 14 2011, 11:32 AM by moneycoach with 1 comment(s)
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  • Think before you click

    You have an extra three days to file your taxes this year, but the April 18 deadline is still fast approaching. Tax season can be stressful, depending on whether you have to pay or will get a refund. Either way, the anxiety helps crooks catch people off-guard with income tax-related scams.

    Here are some tips to help you avoid tax season malware and phishing attacks.

    1. The IRS will not e-mail you. For most tax season threats, this is the No. 1 red flag. If you understand this, you can ignore 99 percent of the tax scams out there.

    2. The IRS will not ask for your bank or credit card information. Even if you owe money, the IRS will never ask you to hand over your bank account PIN or credit card number. 

    3. Don't click links or open attachments in unsolicited e-mails. This is always a good idea, but it is especially important now. Most e-mail-borne malware and phishing attacks can be avoided if you just remember to not click on any link or open any file attachment in an unsolicited e-mail.

    4. Don't conduct sensitive transactions over public networks. It's convenient to jump online in a library or use free public Wi-Fi, but don't do business on those networks. 

    5. Always log out of sites. Clicking on the "X" to end a Web session is not enough. The session will remain alive for a period of time before it times out. Someone could hijack your session and steal your information.

    6. Don't share your computer with your kids. Kids don't always understand that they shouldn't click on any link they see, and if they do, they could expose your computer to increased risk. 

    7. Conduct secure transactions. When you log into your bank or some other sensitive site, you should see "https" in the URL, or a little padlock to indicate that your session is secure.

    8. Use strong passwords. Don't make it easy for a crook to figure this out.

    9. Use spyware, anti-spam and other software to detect and filter out threats. 

    10. Remember that if it's too good to be true, it probably is. What are the odds that the IRS has reviewed your return and determined that you're owed more money? 

    Be cautious and think before you click.

    Posted Apr 07 2011, 11:04 AM by moneycoach with no comments
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