Statistics/Quotes: 10/31/2011

31 10 2011

With celebrations increasing, spending is expected to slightly increase across the board as well. The average consumer is expected to spend $26.52 on costumes. This year, Americans will spend $1 billion on children’s costumes, up from $840 million last year, and $1.21 billion on adult costumes, up from $990 million last year. Additionally, pet owners will shell out $310 million on pint size devils, pumpkins and witch costumes.–National Retail Federation

Read more about this year’s Halloween statistics here.





Plan your Move with Financial Confidence: Must Have Tips When Relocating

31 10 2011

Featured on Military Finance Fairy!

You’re in the U.S. Armed Forces and just received orders for a Permanent Change of Stations (PCS).  Now you have to move!  Often times military families must relocate on short notice to areas across the country.  Times like these can be stressful and strain any household’s budget.  But rest assured, luckily there are some helpful resources out there for military and civilian alike.  Apartment Guide is a handy search tool for finding housing in other states while Moving Today can provide an array of tips when it comes to Relocating.

“Planning is everything when it comes to moving your household”

I too have been faced with frequent moves.  One might call me a veteran of “the move“.  How often have I moved?  Three times in exactly three years.  Phew!  And with every move the housing got smaller and smaller.  Any smaller and I’d be living in a box!  A moving box that is.  However, when faced with a move I’ve prepared myself financially and planned ahead to reduce any financial strain or mishap that may arise.

Ways to Save Big

  • Begin with the Budget in Mind. Just as we would set vacation, holiday, food, or monthly household budgets, we all must plan financially for an upcoming move.  Set aside money per month for this expense.  Make sure you have enough money saved to cover up-front housing costs such as the first month’s rent and security deposit (these costs do not apply to those service members residing in military housing).  Whenever a service member is faced with a PCS, it is suggested that funds be set aside for moving expenses (i.e. a moving fund) to cover the up-front costs associated with moving into civilian housing.
  • Organize in Advance. Save time and money by planning ahead.  Organize your move on paper with the use of a checklist.  Search for apartments, create a time schedule, plan which items will be moved and try to sell or donate items that are not being moved.  For those folks planning a self service move, there is a checklist for you too!  Organization will save time and money during the moving process because the plan will be laid out in front of you versus planning as you go.
  • Pre-Purchase Counseling. Prior to any move, families considering to purchase a property should acquire pre-purchase counseling advice with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Any expert knowledge a person can gain prior to making any major housing purchase should be welcomed in order to make informed decisions.  Pre-purchase counseling provides information on the home-buying process and debt management.  This counseling can help to avoid a financial mistake in the long-run.  This is especially true for military families considering a home purchase.  Pre-purchase counseling may aid in the decision to live in base housing for a few years and purchase a home at a later time.
  • Cut the Clutter. Moving is a great time to sort through your belongings.  Think of it as a second chance at spring cleaning.  The less you have to move, the more money you can save because a larger moving truck may not be needed.  Sort items into three categories:  keep, donate and toss.  Hosting a garage sale can help to raise money for your moving fund.
  • Fore-go Food Shopping. If your move is happening in two weeks or less, fore-go food shopping (if you can).  Plan meals around remaining items found in your pantry.  Also, perishable food will spoil on any long distance trip if  not properly stored.  However, if you must purchase food during the last two weeks, plan out a menu to ensure all food will be used before leaving your home.
  • Move Yourself.  Hiring a professional moving company may cost hundreds!  An easy financial fix is to move yourself for a fraction of the cost by renting the moving truck and performing the move yourself.  A word of caution – choose a truck that is large enough to store your household belongings.  Usually these trucks are broken down by the number of rooms being transported (two room trucks, three room trucks, etc.).  Choosing the correct-sized vehicle eliminates the need to make multiple trips between homes if furniture does not fit inside the vehicle.  This is especially important for those facing an out-of-state or relocation.  Lastly, inquire about military discounts to compound the savings!
  • Military Moving Assistance.  The military provides moving assistance to service members based on their rank, the number of their dependents and the destination of the move.  Information on what items will be moved by the military are found on the service member’s Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders.  Weight limits are determined by the military and will dictate what items will be moved by the military.  Items not moved by the military will be the service member’s responsibility to move (or store) and the service member will incur the cost (this is where a moving budget/fund kicks in).  Service members, however, will receive a Dislocation Allowance (DLA) to supplement the moving costs not covered by the military.
  • Review Property Tax Exclusions.  If you are a Wounded Warrior and purchasing a home, look into property tax exclusions for that state.  For example, some states require a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) service-connected disability rating of 100% to qualify for property tax exclusion.  However, other sates may require a lower VA service-connected disability rating for a partial property tax exclusion.
  • Is your Move Tax Deductible? To qualify for a tax deduction, your move must be related to a new job, the new job must be at least 50 miles from your old place of work and during your first year of employment at the new job, you must be employed at least 39 weeks, working 40 hours a week.
  • Find Free Moving Supplies. Believe it or not, the cost of moving supplies can add up quickly (tape, boxes, bubble wrap, etc.).  Alleviate some of the financial burden by grabbing moving boxes from stores in your neighborhood.  Your first place to visit would be the commissary or grocery store.  More often than not these stores are happy to provide their customers with free boxes – it alleviates the strain on the store to cut and sort away for trash pick-up.
  • Save Money – Forward your Mail.  Prior to any move, always have your mail forwarded to your new home address with the United States Postal Service.  [NOTE:  the online USPS transaction requires the use of a credit card and fee of $1.  To avoid fees visit your local Post Office to process this request]  In addition to submitting a change of address with the Post Office, submit this change with those companies in which you receive mail (utility companies, credit card companies, etc.).  This is an essential part of any move because if your mail is not received – for example a credit card bill – you can be liable for late payment fees, or even worse, a hit on your credit score!  Remember 35% of your credit score is based on your payment history.  One late payment can negatively affect your FICO score so make sure your mail arrives to the home when you do!

Enjoy Your New Surroundings

Okay, the move went smoothly, you saved money and are finally settled into your new housing.  The remaining thing is to enjoy your new home!

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For stress free moving tips, visit Moving Today’s website!





Pay Less, Decorate More: Practical Tips for Decorating on a Small Budget

25 10 2011
 
Decorating can cause even the strongest of minds to shutter.  Why?  Often times people are under the presumption decorating is costly.  But rest assured, it is easy and affordable!

So without further ado, here are some quick tips to whip up picture-perfect decor on a military budget.

  • Start with a Budget.  Prior to any purchasing, you should begin with a budget in mind.  Set aside those funds for use in your quest towards decorating on a . . . . can you guess?  Budget!  Don’t have the money readily available right now?  Save up during the next few months by either cutting expenses or saving extra funds.
  • Keep it Simple.  The popular military saying KISS (keep-it-simple-silly) is fitting in a decorating scenario.  Choosing simple furniture, rather than trendy, will help to keep up with the many changing trends.  Neutral colors throughout a home or apartment provide cohesiveness between rooms.  Also, if an item needs to be replaced, it would not be hard to find the matching color tone.  Often times trendy patterns may cost folks more money in the long-run because trends, patterns and colors out-date themselves.  Keeping it simple is more cost efficient.
  • Bring the Outdoors in.  Environmentally friendly apartment decorating can also include adding plants into your personal living space.  Plants provide natural indoor air purification (NASA backs this up!) and add a pop of color to any room!  Plus, they are inexpensive!
  • Floor Plans Count.  Plan out your living space with the use of a floor plan.  Sketch it out (fancy drawing not required!) and decorate your space based on that plan.  This sketched plan ensures items will fit within each room eliminating extra purchases, thereby keeping cash in your wallet!
  • Stick with the Staples.  Simple and low-cost improvements add drama (the good kind!) to a room.  Area rugs cozy-up any room’s atmosphere, wall art can make walls appear taller or wider while candles heighten sense memory adding intimacy to any environment.  When it comes to wall furnishings – frame your child’s school art project or create a one-of-a-kind piece over the weekend, paying for only the price of a frame!
  • Save what you Have.  Time and again military members are faced with frequent moves.  If you are faced with repeated relocations (permanent change of station), save the furniture you have.  A general rule to follow is locate housing that fits your furniture.  Use Apartment Guide to find a similar housing-type in other states.
  • Less is More.  Keep money in your pockets!  Less can be more when it comes to adding your personal taste to an area.  Display your favorite keepsakes, showcase family photos and sell any items that are no longer needed or desired.
  • Garage Sale Finds.  Steals and deals are waiting to be found at garage sales.  Decorating with antiques and vintage pieces  purchased from garage sales help stretch the dollar versus purchasing items at retail.  A little paint and some TLC go a long way in restoring a relic piece of furniture or accessory!
  • Think Outside the Box……or Can.  Items in your home are just waiting to be used.  Think of items that are normally recycled (cans/jars) – rinse well and then repurpose!  Spray paint or adhere craft paper to these items and turn what once was a recyclable into something reusable such as a vase.
  • Meet my Friend “Coupon”.  Coupons will save you money as you plan your decor attack.  Scope out stores and the internet for the best deals available.
  • I Heart Camo Print.  Yes, camouflage can be attractive.  Recycling your spouse’s worn-out military uniforms will do the trick!  Refurbish seat cushions or create custom-made wall art.  Keep in mind the print need not be camouflage – any fabric will do (think old t-shirts, table clothes, bed linens).
  • Shred the Mess.  Clearing out paper clutter is a free(!)ing experience!  It definitely spruces up cluttered areas instantly.  Store documents on the computer or shred those which are no longer needed.  [Note: shredding personal documents also aids in the reduction of identity theft and fraud]
  • Box the Rest.  Conceal your gear in cabinets or decorative storage containers.  Reuse old shoe boxes to store papers or children’s toys.
  • Utilize Hidden Spaces.  A sure way to increase space, spruce up dull areas and declutter a room is by utilizing hidden spaces already provided in your home – such as underneath your bed.

For more decorating tips, visit Moving Today’s website!

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We’re Just Askin’: Smart Phones – do you have one?

19 10 2011




A Guide to Helping your Teen become Financially Fit

10 10 2011

Every parent wants to see their children succeed in school – whether that be achieving good grades, maintaining attendance and obeying school policies.  However, beyond good grades and success in the classroom are the daily trials and tribulations surrounding their life with regard to personal finance. 

Beyond high school, teens will encounter many opportunities to spend and save their money.  Junior Achievement has provided parents with a “Money Management Action Plan” to remedy negative financial implications while providing teens with the understanding and discipline to make positive financial decisions.

Read more here.





Operation Christmas Child

6 10 2011

Rolist Financial Group is pleased to share a heart-warming story about the project Operation Christmas Child (OCC).  OCC collects shoe boxes filled with goodies and ships them around the world to children in need!  OCC is equipped with a tracking system so that donors can track their package until it is in the hands of a child.  Donors can choose to put together a box for a boy or girl among various age groups.  Read more about the OCC project here.

So, what would one put inside a shoe box?  Read more about packing boxes here.  Some examples include:

  • Toys – small cars/dolls, stickers, jump ropes, books, etc.
  • Toiletries – toothpaste, soap, toothbrush, puff sponges, etc.
  • School supplies – pencil, pens, writing pads, crayons, etc.

Watch this video to frugally pack an amazing box!





2011 Teens and Personal Finance Survey

5 10 2011

 

The 2011 Junior Achievement/The Allstate Foundation “Teens and Personal Finance” Survey allows parents and educators to understand U.S. teenagers’ views about personal financial literacy.  The polled results reveal teens’ attitudes and behaviors surrounding personal finance (their perspectives on the recession and economic recovery, their awareness of the importance of personal money-management strategies, and their plans for becoming financially responsible). In summary, the survey seeks to assess how well-prepared our youth are to effectively manage their finances.

Read more here.

 








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