College Savings or Retirement Savings – Which Should I Save For First?

There is a deep, deep instinct within parents to care for their children. Every parent I’ve ever known wants their children to have it better than they did.

Often this means Mom and Dad sacrifice for their children.  These sacrifices can be small such as not ordering dessert when eating out or driving the old beat up (paid off) car one more year before buying something manufactured in the last 5 years.

Other times the sacrifices made by parents can be financially devastating.

The desire to provide for children is so strong that choices are made that can make things worse than they need to be.

The classic question of saving for your children’s college funds or for your retirement falls right in line with this idea.  Is it a terrible idea to set aside your retirement needs to save some extra dollars for the college fund?  Or can you justify putting off retirement savings to make sure there is enough money to pay the college bills?

Deciding Whether to Save for College or Retirement

Here are 6 factors to consider when making the decision of whether to save for college education costs or your retirement.

1. Why Not Do Both?

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Walmart Life Insurance Policies – Should You Buy Yours There?

Imagine the unimaginable–you’ve died. 

In the prime of your life, years before you thought you would, you’ve died.  You’ve likely left behind a spouse and children.  Of course, they will grieve your loss terribly, but soon after you pass on they’ll be confronted by a harsh reality of life without your financial contribution.

How will your spouse survive and meet the bills?  Will she have money to send the kids to college?

Unfortunately, financial considerations crop up soon after someone dies when the funeral needs to be planned.

Life goes on.

If you’re the primary breadwinner, life goes on for your family with much less money, unless you had life insurance in place.

Unfortunately, 30% of Americans have no life insurance.  “Of the 35 million American households without life insurance, 11 million include children under 18″ (MSN).  While dying in your prime is unlikely, it happens every day.  My dad died when he was just 38, and my parents were woefully underinsured with life insurance.  My mom has struggled financially since he died over 25 years ago.

Why Don’t More Americans Get Life Insurance?

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Stocks Drop 2% This Week and Links

The US stock markets dropped about 2% this week.

Is it time to abandon ship on stocks?

Maybe!  Or maybe not.  How can you tell?

It all comes down to your asset allocation and investment plan.  You shouldn’t make significant investing moves just because the stock market goes up or down.  Your shifting of assets should only occur inside your investment plan’s rules rather than because of an emotional decision.

Not sure how to handle your money or investments? Here are some articles to help out:

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Fixed Or Adjustable Rate Mortgage – Does An ARM Ever Make Sense?

Adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs are a different kind of mortgage than the standard 15 year or 30 year loans available at your local credit union.

ARMs have a lot of negative stigmas attached to them, but are there situations where using an adjustable rate mortgage is a wise financial move?

Pros and Cons to Having an Adjustable Rate Mortgage

Before you jump onto the adjustable rate mortgage train, consider the following:

What is an Adjustable Rate Mortgage?

Most of the mortgages now available post-financial crisis are less risky investments for the lenders.

Gone are the days of getting a mortgage without income documentation.  The most common loans are 30-year fixed loans and 15-year fixed loans.  Fixed rate loans give stability to the payment for the borrower.  Your mortgage is $800 today, $800 tomorrow, and $800 10 years from now.  The stability in the payment makes it a lot easier to plan for your financial needs for years to come.
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How to Use a Prepaid Debit Card to Your Best Advantage

ATM

Prepaid debit cards are becoming increasingly common, thanks to a push to cater to the unbanked.

In recent years, banks have raised fees on checking accounts, and many consumers are fed up with it.  You might not even be safe from fees at a credit union.

My credit union added a monthly fee to its checking account products a couple of years ago.

It’s possible to avoid these fees if you can maintain a minimum balance, or deposit a certain amount of money in your account each month, but some consumers can’t realistically meet those requirements.

On top of that, the fact that some banks will deny you a checking account due to a ChexSystems report or even a credit score, makes it difficult to open a “regular” bank account.

For the unbanked, and even for other purposes, it can make sense to use prepaid debit cards.

Here are the Best Ways to Use Prepaid Debit Cards

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Children and Allowance – When to Start and How Much

Long before we enter the working world, wage disparity can occur in the form of allowance.

I don’t remember talking to my friends about how much allowance they made, but I am guessing the subject probably came up.  As a parent, allowance is definitely something to consider carefully.  You don’t want to give your child too much nor too little.

-“This is an emergency!  I need to know all of your allowances!”

-“Why?”

-“Because you are all still friends, even with different allowances!  I have to know how you do it.”

-“Do we get different allowances?”

-“I don’t know, do we?”

From the kids’ show Arthur, in the episode More! where Arthur’s little sister, D.W., is angry she earns less allowance than her friend.

When Should Children Get an Allowance and How Much Should it Be?

Determining the Work to Be Done

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Happy Father’s Day 2013 and Links

Thanks Dad!

It’s a shame it took until I had kids to fully understand everything you did but now I get it.  Thanks for all the time you gave me.  I certainly didn’t appreciate it all when I was a kid but I do now.

For the rest of you, take some time out to appreciate the dads in your life.  Think about the life and money lessons Dad taught you and consider what you are passing down to your kids.  They may not realize it now but they are learning a lot from your actions.

And here are some great personal finance articles to read as well:

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