4 Steps for a Sound Financial Future For Your Family

4 Steps for a Sound Financial Future For Your Family

There are many things that we hope for our family, including, of course, that everyone is happy and healthy. In order for that to be the case, however, you need to ensure that the financial aspect of family life has been well taken care of. While it is possible to be happy without millions in the bank, that goal becomes much easier to manage if you’re in a financially stable position. It provides the platform upon which many other positive things can grow. But it’s also true that it can be a little difficult. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at how you can create a secure financial landscape for your family, both now and in the future. 

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Incomings/Outgoings

It doesn’t matter how much you earn: if your outgoings are greater than your incomings, then you’re going to be in trouble sooner or later. As such, one of the best things you can do for your family is to spend an afternoon getting a complete overview of your finances. Take an in-depth look at the money you’ve got flowing into your bank account, and the money flowing outward. You might spot a couple of expenses that are unnecessarily harming your finances. 

Savings

While everything might be fine right now, it’s always important to remember that things could look a little different in the future. If things change for the worse, then you’ll be in a much better position if you have savings. Aside from helping you to stay financially secure if you hit a rough patch, savings can also help with other important and enjoyable things, such as helping to pay your child’s college tuition and taking family trips overseas. You don’t have to put huge chunks of money away each month if you’re not in a position to do so, but it should be something. Every little helps! 

Think of the Future

It’s not something that we like to think about, but it’s important to consider what would happen to your family should something happen to you, the primary breadwinner. While you can’t predict the future, you can take steps to ensure that your family is in a strong position to weather the storm by being prepared. This can involve buying life insurance, so you can have peace of mind that your family would be financially secure if something bad happened. Other types of insurance policies are also recommended, such as home and business insurance, if you’re running your own company.

Teaching Good Practices 

Finally, remember that though there’s a lot you can do to keep your family financially sound, you’ll also want to teach your children good habits too. This isn’t something they’re going to learn about in school! Ultimately, the best way to ensure that your children are financially stable in the future is to give them the tools they need to manage their own money (and, of course, make their own money too). It’ll give you peace of mind that they’ll always be OK. 

The Essential Guide To Family Car Buying

The Essential Guide To Family Car Buying

If you look at your driveway only to see a bit of an old banger staring back at you, it might be time for a new set of wheels. While you may have opted for a sporty little number or a torque laden classic in the past, now that you have a young brood, you need something more practical. You may be tempted to go for a brand new car. However, the moment you drive this vehicle away from the forecourt, it will have depreciated dramatically in value. Instead, it’s time to consider a top quality used car. Take a look at this essential guide to family car buying.

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Economy

Now that you are a parent, you need to consider your budget and ability to maintain the running costs of your new car. The more expensive vehicles with larger engines can be more expensive to insure. However, if you go for a slightly smaller hatchback, you will have less of an outlay initially, and you won’t have to fork out too much each month for your insurance. If you are concerned about your tax obligations and the fuel economy of your new motor, you might be better off investigating hybrid vehicles. These cars are electric and require a recharge rather than gas. This means that they cost less to run each week, they are better for the environment and they require no tax.

Safety

As a new parent, you want to make sure that your children are safe and secure on every journey. Check out the Euro NCAP website to look at the safety review of the car you are looking to buy. The vehicles undergo rigorous testing and a final score is calculated. The site will also list the safety features of each car and their efficacy. At the very least, you should be purchasing a car that has blind spot sensors, an advanced braking system and side impact bars. It doesn’t matter what car you buy, you must always remain a defensive driver. You might be a cautious driver, but you cannot account for the actions of other road users.

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Practicalities

While a leather trim might be your dream, it might not be practical. If you do go for a car with a luxury interior, it might pay to whip on some neoprene rubber seat covers to protect your suede or light colored fabric from toddler fingers and spillages. You also need to consider whether there is any point in buying a small hatchback, if you are soon looking to move out into the country or you want to expand your brood. If this is the case, an SUV might be more apt. Consider the long term lifestyle of your family and buy a car that suits. If you do long journeys on the motorway an SUV that does at least forty miles to the gallon is a good shout. For inner city driving you will need a smaller, perkier car that will fit into the tightest of parking spots.

It can be tricky to find your next vehicle. However, follow this guide and you will find your ideal family car.

Things You Can Do Today To Protect Your Family’s Finances

Things You Can Do Today To Protect Your Family’s Finances

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How secure is your family’s financial future? Or do you even know? Looking after your family’s budget is a difficult task in itself, but planning for the unknown events of the future can be even trickier. However, there are a few things you can do today that will have an instant and positive impact on your family’s future finances. Let’s take a look at some of your options right now.

Build an emergency fund

First thing’s first – put some money away into an emergency fund to protect you and your family from one-off events that could end up doing you severe damage. What happens if your car breaks down and you can’t get to work, for example? What if you have an accident that your health insurance doesn’t cover you for? Ultimately, if you don’t have savings set aside in an emergency fund, the likelihood i that you will be looking at getting into a lot of debt to cover yourself. And that’s going to eat into your current budget – possibly by a significant amount.

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Teach your kids about money

Your children won’t get a sound financial education for their schooling – it’s all down to you to teach them about money, saving, debt and credit. Of course, these are incredibly difficult concepts to teach kids, but there are plenty of resources out there that can help you explain finances to little ones. If you can provide them with sound financial knowledge from an early age, by the time they reach adulthood they will be able to make sensible decisions and enjoy a better life – it’s that simple.

Get a family lawyer

Having a lawyer that knows your family gives you many advantages. As Pearce Webster Dugdales Lawyers point out, family lawyers aren’t just for divorces, separations and child maintenance issues. They can also help you with your wills and estate planning, deal with powers of attorney, and help you with serious financial issues like bankruptcy.

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Get an accountant

With the best will in the world, there is no way any of us have the time to investigate all out financial options – unless we are very lucky, of course. But there is a simple solution that will save your family a lot of money – and give you more time to enjoy together: hire an accountant. They will reduce your tax exposure, identify investment opportunities, and help you put your money where it is most effective. Yes, there is a cost involved with hiring an accountant, but ultimately that expensive will be dwarfed by the amount of money they save you.

Invest

Finally, learn about investing your money, and you will enjoy a much brighter future. You can put money in a standard savings account, of course. But if you want better returns and a more comfortable lifestyle in the future, there are much better options out there, from building a property portfolio through to buying government bonds. It’s also worth setting up a college savings fund for your kids. The cost of a further education is enormous, and every dollar you save will be a great help to them.



Also the creator of Unbound Northwest

Mental Health Amid COVID-19: Six Coping Strategies for Peace of Mind

Mental Health Amid COVID-19: Six Coping Strategies for Peace of Mind

Six Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health During COVID-19

by Brian McKay

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting not only people’s physical health but also their mental health. According to a study in public health journal Elsevier, the pandemic has caused symptoms of anxiety and depression, stress, and instances of disturbed sleep.

The constant updates can be overwhelming. Public health measures like social distancing can cause isolation and loneliness, adding to the stress of the situation.

You may not have control of the pandemic, but you can take charge of your mental health. Here are several tips that can help you manage the stress and anxiety of living in these uncertain times.

Control how you see the news

A common source of stress during the pandemic is the constant updates from the news. Minimize listening, reading, and watching any news related to COVID-19 if it makes you feel anxious.

If you can’t resist receiving updates, consider checking them specific times during the day. Make sure that you’re reading news from trusted sources.

Connect with your community

Churches may have closed, but they offer ways for the community to connect outside service hours. With online resources, you can attend mass or say a prayer of forgiveness on online confession booths.

If you’re a member of any class or club, hold online meetings and do what you usually do. For example, if you’re part of a book club, assign a book to read each week or month, then meet online to discuss your thoughts. For gym junkies, grab your home equipment and do workouts together. You may not be able to hang out physically, but meeting online can somehow make up for the distance.

Seek professional help

Thanks to technology, mental health organizations and professionals are accessible. Look for online counseling services and talk to a psychiatrist. They can help you make sense of what you’re feeling and recommend activities that can help you cope with the crisis.

Support and strengthen relationships

If you’re isolated at home, look for ways to connect with your family and friends. Set aside a time each day to text or call family and friends. If you’re working or studying, check up on your classmates, teachers, and coworkers to see how they’re doing. You might be able to share strategies for coping with the situation.

Take care of your body

Being mindful about your physical health will do wonders with your mental health. Wake up and go to bed at the same time. Exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet. Take advantage of quiet times from work or school for self-care practices, like yoga, listening to music, or reading a book.

Be patient with yourself

Like many others, you might struggle with coping with the pandemic. And that’s normal. You’re not supposed to get it right the first time. Allow yourself to experience emotions like anger, frustration, and anxiety. The important part is that you shouldn’t be stuck in a rut for long.

The COVID-19 crisis has rendered almost everyone helpless, and the situation can be overwhelming for some. Although you can’t control what’s happening around the world, you can control what you’re feeling. With these tips, you can take care of your mental health despite these challenging times.

Save, Invest, Grow: Simple Steps To Improve Your Finances

Save, Invest, Grow: Simple Steps To Improve Your Finances

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Money worries are the most common source of stress among US adults. Most of us would like to have more disposable income, but it can be challenging to save when it feels like money is flying out of your account on a continual basis. If you’re keen to improve your finances, we’re here to help. Here are some simple steps you can take to save, invest and grow your money. 

Saving money

The first step on the road to improving your financial situation is saving. This involves reducing outgoings and putting more cash aside each month. The most effective way to take control of spending and identify areas where it could be possible to make savings is to learn to budget.

Budgeting is not everyone’s idea of fun, but it can make a monumental difference to your bank balance. One of the main reasons we struggle to manage our money is a lack of awareness when it comes to where our monthly paycheck goes. If you don’t check your balances on a regular basis, and you have direct debits, you shop online and you use contactless payments, it’s very easy to lose track of how much you’re spending. Use your budget to monitor outgoings, to set spending limits and to try and save more every month. You can draw up a budget using an app, create a spreadsheet, or stick to good, old-fashioned pen and paper. Your budget should cover your income, your regular outgoings and any additional expenses you expect to incur during the month ahead. Once you have a set of figures in front of you, you can work out how much you can afford to spend, how to divide your income and how much to save. Update your budget as you go, use accurate estimations, and always round up if you don’t have the exact figures. Once you’ve compiled your budget, take a moment to look at your outgoings closely. Many of us spend money on things we don’t need or even want, and having a budget is a great way to eliminate any non-essential expenses. Are you paying for a gym membership you never use, or have you forgotten to cancel a free subscription that is now costing you money?

You can also save money by making your cash stretch further and altering your spending habits. Take your weekly grocery shop as an example. Do you go into the store thinking that you’re going to spend $100 and get to the register to find that your bill is closer to $150? Supermarket layouts, marketing campaigns and promotions are designed to encourage us to spend, and it can be difficult to resist the temptation to fill the cart with all kinds of items that you don’t actually need in the name of grabbing a bargain. If you are heading to the store, and you’re keen to save money, always make a list in advance and ask yourself if you really need any of the items you put in your basket that aren’t on that shopping list. Use a calculator to track spending as you go, and avoid special offers that don’t feature products you plan to buy. 

Comparing prices on household expenses like utilities, TV and broadband and insurance is also beneficial for maximizing disposable income. The Internet enables us to look for better offers and cheaper deals in a matter of seconds without even leaving the couch. If your health, auto or pet insurance deals are due for renewal, for example, don’t automatically renew with your current provider. Take a few moments to enter some details into a comparison site and see if you could save by switching to a different company. Competition is fierce, and businesses often go all-out to impress new customers with incentives like low introductory prices and free gifts. 

If you dread your energy bills arriving, especially in the winter, it’s also worth taking some steps to increase energy-efficiency at home and try and reduce consumption. Using a smart meter can help you keep a close eye on usage and spending, and you can also lower bills by improving heat retention through insulation and double glazing, turning appliances off at the socket and replacing old bulbs and appliances with modern, energy-efficient versions. 

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Investing

If you have a pot of money set aside, and you’re keen to invest, there are several routes you could take. 

Real estate

One of the most popular investment options is buying real estate. With property investment, you can take on long or short-term projects, boosting your income through rental fees or sales. Buying bricks and mortar requires significant investment, but it can be extremely lucrative, especially if you buy at a time when demand is soaring. When acquiring real estate for investment purposes, it’s crucial to focus on the figures. This is a very different proposition to buying the home of your dreams. 

Before you start looking for a property, figure out how much you want to spend and what kind of house or apartment you’re searching for. Who is your ideal buyer or tenant, and what would they be looking for? Think carefully about location, and select properties that will appeal to your target market. If you’re keen to invest in a family home, for example, proximity to good schools and transport links is attractive, and it’s also wise to search for houses with features like large gardens and open-plan kitchens. Take your time to explore possibilities, research the local market and contact real estate agents, and keep a close eye on the news headlines. Buying at the wrong time can be costly. If you find a property that seems perfect, arrange a second viewing, make sure you know the local area well and consider whether it makes financial sense to proceed. It’s always worth trying to negotiate on the price if the house has been on the market for a while or the vendor is keen on a quick sale. 

Antiques and collectibles

Have you ever thought that your attic could be an unlikely treasure trove, or wondered if you could make a mint from a collection of vintage dolls, silver coins or oil paintings? It’s not easy to make money from antiques and collectibles, but if you make the right choices and you sell at the right time, this can be a lucrative option. If you already own antiques, or you have a small collection, take good care of each individual item. Damage and signs of wear and tear can affect resale value. You can use toothpaste to clean silver coins, protect vases and ceramics with heavy-duty wrapping and preserve decorative items like trinkets and ornaments by keeping them behind glass. If you’re a beginner, or you’re keen to add to an existing collection, always buy from a reputable dealer, negotiate on the price and carry out thorough checks to look at the condition of the item and its history and value before you shake hands on a deal. It’s hugely beneficial to research before you buy and to look out for products, collections or pieces that are in demand. 

Stocks and shares

Investing in the stock market can be exhilarating and it’s possible to reap substantial financial rewards, but this can also be a high-risk strategy. When you buy stocks and shares, you pay a price and then hope that the value increases. It is up to you to decide when to sell or to appoint a trader to act on your behalf. If you haven’t bought stocks and shares before, it’s useful to analyze the market, to keep an eye on movements in the weeks and days leading up to your first investment and to read business and financial news posts. If you’re a novice trader, take advantage of free trials, which enable you to use virtual funds to buy and sell. This will help you learn the ropes and get used to the processes. 

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Growing your money

Saving and investing go a long way to improving your finances, but it’s also useful to identify ways to grow your money and make your funds work harder. You can do this by putting money into high-interest accounts, setting up a side hustle and paying into pension and retirement schemes that offer incentives for savers. It’s wise to speak to a trustworthy, experienced financial adviser to help you make plans, reduce risks and protect your money. 

If you’ve already invested money, and you have more funds available, build on successes. If you’ve sold a property at a profit, for example, you could put the capital into a new property and eventually create a portfolio. Look for ways to keep adding to your balance, but be aware of risks that could threaten to undo all your hard work. Economic uncertainty has a direct impact on the real estate market, so it’s vital to buy and sell at the right time. 

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Many of us would like our financial situation to be healthier. If you’re looking to reduce debts, save money and work towards boosting your savings balances, there are ways to improve your finances. Start by learning to budget, lowering expenses and putting more money aside each month and work your way up to investing and growing your money. 

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