The SmartyPig Blog

The Cost of Kids, Going Up

The cost of raising a child has increased by 25% in the last 10 years. Yes, you read that right, we’re talking tens of thousands more.  “The government’s most recent annual report reveals a middle-income family with a child born in 2010 can expect to spend roughly $227,000 for food, shelter and other expenses necessary to raise that child – $287,000 when you factor in projected inflation,” stated the folks at CNBC.

These experts exclaim, and many agree; the decision to expand your family has much to do with dollar signs. I hear my husband often telling his male friends, “If you wait until you’re ‘ready’ you’ll be waiting forever.” I think this is true, but I also feel there is some ‘getting ready’ that can take place at a minimum during pregnancy. The CNBC folks chime in, “Plan early.”  Get your finances in order, think about childcare – or consider one parent staying home, think about your car and home, and maternity and paternity benefits. And most importantly, start saving today. Beginning a SmartyPig goal for your new addition can help you cover your labor and delivery costs, a place for that bundle to sleep, and the many accessories that will accompany your new family member.

And after they arrive? Well, then it’s time for an emergency fund. While we hope you never need it, there’s a decent chance you will, for at least something small. And that goal will surely help you sleep better at night. Even if you’re new addition isn’t.

Wishing you successful saving.

Sarah Foss, SmartyPig’s Media Mad Woman
SFoss@SmartyPig.com

How Are You Using Your SmartyPig?

Thanks, @SmartyPig! I’ve used you to fund my#journalism conventions since 2012!

I start saving for #NABJ & @ONA conferences the June before using SmartyPig. I never scramble for $$. #nabjnahj16- @benetwilson

I just added money to my “Disney Extras” savings goal on @SmartyPig#SmartyPigGoal - @anewwise

I need to set up an account for an Emergency Savings goal with @SmartyPig! – @creditandcoffee

@SmartyPig Did not get a tax refund. but started a new goal anyway. #Cruisein2017 - @diabeetus441

Regret Not

financial-goalsRegret is a horrible thing. Especially when it comes to financial regrets. One horrible decision in the dollars department could literally change your life forever, so, when the folks at MSN Money spoke up about what I should avoid, I listened. And you should too.

Claiming social security early or borrowing from your 401k are big no-nos. This money is meant to keep you secure in your older age and borrowing from it now will only decrease your growth potential. On that same note, don’t put off saving for retirement. Your future security is important and the earlier you start saving, the better. Lastly, don’t forget to invest in yourself – and by that I mean, continuing education, saving for things like vacations and holiday gifts to avoid credit card debt, and considering learning about investments and ways to grow your money faster.

Wishing you successful saving.

Sarah Foss, SmartyPig’s Media Mad Woman, SFoss@SmartyPig.com

A Few Ways to Save $100 a Month

Just a Few Ways to Save $100 a Month

These days, it feels like everyone is looking for ways to save as much money as possible. The good news is that there are several easy steps that you can take to save up to $100 or more per month. While that may not seem like much, it is more than enough to start an emergency fund or start saving for a well-deserved vacation. Once you find your method, use the SmartyPig app to start your savings and keep track of your money.

Stay Home for Lunch or Dinner Once a Week

If you have made a habit of ordering food for lunch or like to go out for dinner, you could say a lot of money just by staying home once week. Instead of spending $10 for a basic meal for yourself, you could stay home and enjoy some leftover pasta or make yourself a nice sandwich. Just by staying home an extra four times a month, you can save $40 or more without seriously altering your lifestyle.

Make Sure That There is Maximum Power Quality

A power quality meter ensures that you are getting the most from your electrical grid. If your lights aren’t as bright as they could be or are flickering, you may need additional lights in your home just to be able to see while you are walking to the basement to do laundry. By identifying issues with your power supply, you can take steps to replace inefficient equipment that may be consuming power without providing any tangible benefit to you.

Replace Your Windows to Let More Light In

Do you find yourself turning on the lights in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is still shining and should be providing natural light? If that sounds like something you deal with daily, it may be time to either replace your windows or add new ones to your living room or bedroom. If you have privacy concerns, etched glass can make it impossible to see in even if you don’t have any blinds or curtains on the window. By keeping the lights off for a few extra hours a week, you can easily save a significant amount on utility costs.

Cut the Cord

If you have a cable television package, you may want to get rid of it in favor of less expensive services like Netflix or Hulu. Instead of paying $100 or more per month in cable fees, you could pay as little as $8 a month for basic services from the competition. You may also be able to save money by getting rid of your Internet package and just using the data on your phone if you only go online sparingly.

Cut Coupons Before You Go Shopping

Coupons are easy to acquire and can save you a significant amount of money with minimal effort. Grocery coupons can be collected online while smartphone apps will actually find and automatically apply discounts without the need to do anything on your part. When you decide it’s time to shop for new clothes or a new television, doing so online instead of in store could entitle you to a discount.

Compare Auto, Renters and Home Insurance Rates

Another easy way to save money is to constantly shop around for better insurance rates. You can switch whenever you want, and policies can be purchased online in a matter of minutes. Once you find a policy that suits your needs, you can print out new cards and continue with your life. Your new rate will take effect as soon as you complete your transaction.

If you are looking to save money each month, there are many small cuts that you can make that will result in large savings. In some cases, these cuts will not have a negative impact on your lifestyle, and installing new windows could actually make you more secure in your own home. Combined with the financial savings, making these adjustments could make your life easier and less stressful to live.

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Mikkie Mills.

Tax Time

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Is your tax refund padding your bank account? You’re not the only one. The average refund for last year was $2,800 and most expect around the same, if not higher this year. A Capital One survey states 21% of tax fund recipients are spending their dough on new clothes, vacations, and electronics. One smart shopper told us he deposited his newfound funds into a SmartyPig goal already and cashed out to a Macy’s gift card. The amount he received in cash back was obscene!

So if you’re going to spend, put that money to work for you in the short-term with SmartyPig’s high interest and long list of Retailer Gift Card providers. And if instant gratification isn’t your thing, do what most refund recipients are doing and save that chunk of change. Is a summer vacation in your future? What about back to school shopping? Take your funds right to the pig and start maximizing your dollars today. And if you don’t have an emergency fund, wouldn’t now be a great time to start one of those?

Whether you’re spending or saving, SmartyPig makes those tax dollars work for you!

Wishing you successful saving and spending.

Sarah Foss, SmartyPig’s Media Mad Woman
SFoss@SmartyPig.com

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