For the last couple of years, we’ve heard about the tight credit market. It’s been more difficult to qualify for credit. Even credit card issuers reduced the amount of money they were providing. However, mailboxes are starting to see an influx of credit card offers, and things are getting a little bit easier (although we are still far from the heady days of easy money seen in the years leading up to the financial crisis). It might be a little easier to get approved for a loan or credit card now than it was last year, but that mean it’s a good thing?
Marriage can be hard enough some days. Throw money into the mix, and things can get downright ugly. However, just as disagreements in other aspects of your married life don’t have to result in permanent rifts, disagreements over money don’t have to ruin your relationship. As with all things in marriage, money issues need to be worked through. Here are some ideas for overcoming disagreements about money in marriage:
One of the best things you can do is understand your relationship with money. In order to articulate your position on money to your partner, you need to be able understand. Think about why you spend (or save) money the way you do. You should also come to grips with why you don’t like the way your spouse handles money, and determine whether or not your own preferences and money prejudices are coloring the situations.
[Read more…] about Fighting Fair: How to Disagree About Money in Marriage
Many parents fully expect to pay for (or at least help pay for) their children to attend college. This, however, is becoming an increasingly daunting task. The cost of a college education continues to rise, becoming almost prohibitive. One of the first things to realize as you prepare to pay for your child’s education, or prepare to have your child get ready to pay for his or her own education, is that it is highly unlikely that you will be able to rely on one source of funding to meet your needs.
[Read more…] about Do You Know How You Will Pay for College?
The government Stimulus checks started going out on April 28th. If you are expecting one you should start looking for it in May (here’s a post listing the dates).
So what are you going to do with the extra money? Here are a list of ideas for using your stimulus check:
- Pay off credit cards – If you have any credit card debt the stimulus check will be a great way knock some of that out! Paying off the debt gives you an instant return in savings of whatever you would have paid in interest fees. Psychologically, you will help in getting the debt monkey off your back.
- Contribute to a Roth IRA – You can take your money and put it into your Roth IRA. For 2008 the contribution limit is $5000.
- Start an emergency fund – If you don’t already have some sort of emergency fund (three to six months expenses seems to be the conventional wisdom) then your stimulus check is a good way to start one. Even if you have one you can use the money to increase your fund. A great place to start one is with ING Direct (you can even get a $25 bonus by opening your account with $250).
- Contribute to a 529 college savings plan – You can use the money to help save for your kid’s education by putting the money in a 529 plan. Not only do you help save for college but you might get a tax break as well depending on your home state’s plan.
- Pre-pay your mortgage – Take the money and make additional payments to your mortgage. By making additional payments you will own your home faster and pay less in interest. Just make sure the payments go towards the loan principle and not next month’s payment (also check that your lender will accept pre-payments without fees or penalties).
- Buy a gift card – Many retailers are waiting to get their hands on your dough. Some are offering incentives to buy gift cards with your stimulus checks. It seems Kroger’s and Sears are offering 10% bonuses if you buy a gift card with your check. But be careful though and make sure there are no additional fees and know that you will actually use the card (and if the store goes out of business your gift card may be worthless).
- Go on vacation – You may have been planning to do this anyway so here is a good way to fund the vacation. Go and do something that will be a great experience for the family that you will all remember.
- Improve the house – If there’s something you’ve needed to improve on your home, such as a furnace, you can use your stimulus check to pay for it (or at least help). Other options could be new paint job, carpet, furniture, appliances, etc…
- Car maintenance – Have you been putting off a car repair? Need new brakes? New tires? Your stimulus money can fund it. If your car is about to go kaput your stimulus check could help pay for a new car (or a good new used car).
- Learn to invest – Do some research and take the money and start investing. Companies such as Sharebuilder and Zecco offer low-fee investing. You have to do your homework with this option but it might be just enough money to start investing but not so much that you will be crazy worrying if you lose it. If you invest through Sharebuilder you can buy partial shares of Berkshire Hathaway B class shares. I hear that Warren Buffett is pretty good at investing.
- Pay off student loans – If you have high interest student loans then your stimulus check can be a great way to help pay your student loans off. Just like with credit cards paying off your high interest student loans give you the instant return in savings of what you would have paid in interest.
- Have a nice evening out – Take your spouse out to a really great meal. Get babysitting and go to that great restaurant you wanted to try. Go see that new show that everyone’s talking about. Make an experience you will always remember.
- Get physically fit – The stimulus check should be enough to pay for a year’s gym membership (or more than a year). Use the stimulus check as a catalyst to get in shape and make your life healthier. Not sure about a gym? Find a class such as yoga or martial arts to join. Not into that? Buy a new bike and go riding. Or get yourself some good running sneakers and running attire. Join your local running club and enter a few small races. You never know, you may one day run a marathon.
- Go to school – Use your stimulus check to enroll in a college course or two. This can be toward a degree or just continuing education. Hey, you can take a personal finance course. Maybe learn a second language?
- Do nothing – This is the easiest of them all. Put the money in your savings account and forget about it. You don’t have to spend it or find any particular purpose for it. It doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. One day you might find a good use for it but for now it adds to your savings.
Personally, we’re closer to the Do Nothing suggestion. Our stimulus check will come via direct deposit right into our ING account. We have no specific plans for the money so it will be added into our savings. Our check may pay parts of many of the suggestions or for none of them. Either way it will earn interest until it finds a home somewhere else.
Do you have any other ideas for using the economic stimulus check?
photo by Argenberg
Have you wanted to open an online savings account?
And check this out – If you open with $250 your $25 bonus is an instant 10% return!
Here are the links to use:
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If you don’t have $250 but still want to open an an ING account please click the banner below (please note this is for the Electric Orange account not savings):
As always read the fine print from ING to make sure their online savings is right for you. You should never sign up for anything online without understanding what you are getting into.