Handling the Unexpected
There’s nothing harder to plan for than unexpected events that impact your life and finances. Yet loss of a job, the death of a loved one, illness or other unexpected occurrences happen at one point or another in most of our lives. The key to successfully surviving these life-changing events from a financial perspective is to anticipate hard times. Shore up your financial situation before you are hit with an unexpected expense, so you will be covered in the event something happens. Our friends at www.practicalmoneyskills.com help you map out a plan.
The Importance of an Emergency Fund
Because we cannot predict when life will throw us an unexpected challenge, it is important for everyone to build and maintain an emergency fund with three to six months’ worth of living expenses. The key to building an emergency fund is to set money aside every month, no matter how small the amount. This Emergency Fund calculator can help you get started.
Financial experts recommend that, unlike retirement funds, emergency savings should be kept fairly liquid, in a savings account or a money market fund. Hopefully you will never need it. But if you do, you’ll be glad it’s there.
A New Financial Picture
Once the immediate financial matters are taken care of after an unexpected life event, it will be time to take stock of your new financial situation and create a plan for yourself moving forward. Whether you have faced job loss, divorce, illness or another event, you should create a new budget reflecting your situation. This is the first step toward financial security and rebuilding your emergency fund, which you may have tapped into to manage a financial crisis.
To develop a budget, write down your current expenses, indicating whether each expense is a necessity or a luxury. Pulling out recent credit card bills and bank statements can help with this process. Next, estimate your monthly income, including only income that you are certain you will receive. Then compare your income to expenses. If your expenses are higher, you will need to trim your expenses until your income is higher than your expenditures.
You can learn much more about budgeting and utilize our free budgeting worksheet here.
Some of the Numbers have changed as the Unclaimed Property Program is now being adminstered by the Department of Revenue. The Office of the State Treasurer is still responsible for promoting the program and is happy to answer any questions we can for you. However, at the request of the Department of Revenue, direct lines to claims processors were removed from our website and they asks you to call and general line. That number is:
YES! What better way to honor your little one than by investing in their education this holiday season! It’s easier than ever through Edvest College Saving’s e-gift option. With our e-Gifting option, you can invite family and friends to make a contribution through our secure website in just a few clicks. There’s even a selection of gift certificates that can be printed so they can share the good news. With e-Gifting there are no checks to be mailed or deposited.
For more on how to invite friends and family to e-Gift, CLICK HERE
I celebrate Christmas with my family so I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas. Having said that, there are so many wonderful holiday celebrations which take place this time of year. I wish you and yours many blessings as you celebrate what is most important to you.
Best Wishes in the New Year!
Wisconsin State Treasurer
As we head into the holiday season, so many people focus on SPENDING rather than SAVING. We would like to help you shift your focus.
This week, Match Expenses to Income – Determine how many paydays are left from early November through mid-January. Then match holiday spending to your income, including any year-end bonuses, so expenses are paid with current income. For example, if you have $900 of holiday expenses and six paychecks, you’ll need to set aside $150 per paycheck – See more at: http://americasaves.org/blog/919-ten-terrific-tips-to-take-charge-of-holiday-spending#sthash.1ghWEWuv.dpuf READ MORE
This week, we travel to Portage County. Here’s a look at the Top 5 people and businesses there with unclaimed assets. Do you see anyone on this list you know? If so, have check out www.wismissingmoney.com and search their name to make a claim. They can also call 855-375-CASH (2274)
Tired of starting the new year with a pile of debt? Shop smart, and you can enjoy the holidays without putting yourself in the poor house. Here are 12 tips to help you make the most of your time and money. Santa threw in two extra tips for good measure:
1. Decide how much you can spend.
“Most people go about it all wrong,” says Ric Edelman, author of “Financial Security in Troubled Times.” “The first thing they do is come up with a list of people (to buy for).”
Instead, Edelman recommends setting your holiday budget before you go near a store.
One big mistake? People overlook the little extras when they draft a budget. Include everything from postage for Christmas cards to holiday party favors and home decorations to the cost of boarding a pet if you’re traveling.
2. Make a list and check it twice.
Armed with your budget, take a cue from St. Nick by making a list of all the people you want to buy for. Then go over the list and decide how much you can spend on each, Edelman suggests. Don’t have enough money to cover your holiday budget? Go through it again, and cut names or amounts. Once you settle on a dollar amount for each person, that’s it. “If you can’t afford a sweater, get something else,” says Edelman. “Focus on the amount you’ll spend, not what you’ll buy.”
For big families, develop a gift list with other relatives, advises Mark Gorkin, a licensed clinical social worker known as “The Stress Doc.” “You shouldn’t have to buy something for everyone,” he says.
3. Pay cash.
“If you know that you’ve had trouble in (years) past, do a cash-only Christmas,” says Clark Howard, co-author of the book “Get Clark Smart: The Ultimate Guide for the Savvy Consumer” and host of a nationally syndicated consumer call-in show. His holiday advice: set a limit, take that money out of your credit union or bank, “and when that (money’s) gone, it’s over.
4. Think of credit cards as short-term loans.
Ideally, you’ll want to pay everything off immediately. Have a choice of cards? Always use the card that offers the lowest interest rate. A good idea is to track your credit card spending just as you would if you were writing a check. Remember: It’s really easy in the flurry of the holiday spending to run around and not keep track.
5. Put yourself on your shopping list.
It sounds selfish, but it’s really smart. “There are things you would not have bought for yourself that you end up, on impulse, buying (for someone else),” says Howard. The best antidote is to give yourself a little splurge, too.
6. Allow enough time for all your holiday preparations.
Who hasn’t run out for a gift at the last minute and ended up paying top dollar? But whether you’re shopping, baking or wrapping presents to send cross-country, budgeting your time can end up saving you tons of money.
7. Don’t overlook the value of intangibles.
Do you want to give someone a gift but don’t have the money? If you’re already baking cookies for your family, making an extra batch as a present for a neighbor is fairly economical. Want to help a friend who’s got a lot on her plate? Offer to baby-sit, walk the dog or take an elderly relative for an outing. The cost is next to nothing, but the gift is priceless.
8. Send e-cards.
They’re free, don’t require postage and no one has to wash their hands after opening them. Some even play music, making them a fun, free way to catch up with far-flung friends and family.
9. Just say “no” to toy lust.
If your kids still believe in Santa, help them draft real-world wish lists. In the post-Santa years, set some financial boundaries, and give them some choices. “The child still gets a chance to choose,” says Gorkin. “But you help the child remember there are still real limits.”
10. Look for meaning over glitz.
“Especially when you get into your 40s and you’ve got everything you need, words and gestures mean more,” says Rachel Ashwell, author of “The Shabby Chic Gift of Giving.” A thoughtful gift can be anything as simple as a set of dice (message: life’s a gamble) to a few beautiful bottles collected for minimum cost at various flea markets or antique marts, Ashwell says.
11. Shop for weddings at Christmas.
Even if your big day is a year away, holidays are a great time to get a deal on bridal gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses. “This is the slowest time of the year for bridal apparel shops,” says Fields, who also co-authored “Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget.” “No one goes shopping for wedding dresses in November or December.”
12. Get married during the holidays.
Shopping for a wedding date? December offers some pluses in the budget department. “Most churches are already decorated for Christmas, which means you get to save a lot on flowers,” says Fields, who estimates that couples can cut at least $500 from their budgets by planning Yuletide nuptials. The downside is that because of holiday parties, many caterers, bands and DJs are booked for the season, which means it’s not a great time to plan a huge event. But if you have your heart set on an intimate gathering, you can have the wedding of your dreams and a nice nest egg to start your new life together.
13. Take a vacation.
Resorts and cruise ships are hurting for business, says Edward Hasbrouck, author of “The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World,” which makes this a great time for a luxury getaway. “They’ve paid for the hotel (rooms), and that’s a cost they’re stuck with,” says Hasbrouck. “Similarly, cruise lines are in particularly bad shape.”
“If you want to get away, you will see all kinds of hotels offering truly unprecedented bargains,” says Hasbrouck. “For not much, if anything, more than Motel 6 prices, you can have a much nicer hotel. This will make it quite tempting to get away over the holidays.”
But shop around. The same room at the same hotel can fetch vastly different prices depending on how it is booked. Look up the hotel online, through a broker and through the hotel chain’s website; chances are the prices will be different, and you might need the special codes listed on those sites to get the deal, according to Howard.
“What I like for people to do with hotels is try various online search sites, then call the hotel directly and call central reservations,” says Howard. “No matter what price is quoted, act shocked. Say, ‘Don’t you have anything better than that?'” Just like hotels, rental car companies are hurting for business and offering some good deals — daily rates for less than $20, according to Howard — so do your homework.
14. Remember the reason for the season.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, keeping the holiday’s spiritual message front and center is a good antidote to the holiday gimmies. “Instead of spending weekends leading up to Christmas in the mall, it would be a lot better gift to spend your time with your family,” says Howard.
- 14 Ways To Save Money During The Holidays (stlouishomesbygina.wordpress.com)