How Much Will You Spend on Christmas?

christmas treeAccording to last year’s statistics, Canadians planned on spending approximately $1,800 on Christmas. This stat sort of blew my mind. I knew we were frugal but truthfully I didn’t think we were that far off the national average.

Especially now that we have a kid, Christmas is way more about her than it is us, in terms of gifts and celebration. Last year I actually convinced my husband to not get gifts for each other and instead go on a kid-free date. While we both had fun, my husband made it quite clear that he did not enjoy not getting me, as his wife, a gift. I truthfully didn’t mind, but he really loves to spend time buying ”his girls” presents, so I have re-instated a strict shopping budget for us to have fun with.

Aside from our daughter we only have a few other small gifts to buy for a few other family members, as well, a (real) Christmas tree and money for our annual Christmas party. All gifts, party, baking and booze included will be around $650. About 1/3 the average Canadian.

To me Christmas is not worth spending money on. I love Christmas. The smells, the traditions, the food, the friends and family, the gatherings. To me gifts are the absolute smallest part of the season. Even growing up, while I loved Santa and the anticipation of the day with my family it was never my favorite part. My favorite day has always been Christmas eve, going to church and spending the whole day and night together. My hope is that as my daughter gets older she’s able to feel the same way. Keep it close to her heart what’s really important to our family.

I am by no means suggesting if you do spend a lot of money it’s a bad thing I’m just curious to know what you plan on spending for your budget? Obviously the larger the family you have, the more you may spend, and generally you can get away with spending less on younger children (it will be a few years before letters to Santa in our house include extravagant gift requests) but I love the idea of a much lower-key Christmas gift exchange.

I love the idea of buying gifts for my daughter and either doing a large family outing in lieu of gifts or doing a secret-santa style gift exchange with only one other person, setting a modest budget. I don’t think it will happen though, I’ve married into a very generous family who, though don’t focus on it as being the main importance of the day, loves to exchange gifts with each other ;)

Has your budget changed a lot over the years? Can you believe Christmas is in ONE MONTH?!

When Was The Last Time You Enjoyed Your Money?

My husband and I make decent money but rarely do I actually get to enjoy it. Since most of our money goes towards debt and other household bills like heat and mortgage, the money we do have ”left over” is used with discretion. Outside of groceries, gas and the day-to-day boring stuff, we usually end up spending on stuff we need, like the shoes my husband desperately needs replacing. For some, buying new shoes may be fun, when it’s an absolute there’s-a-big-hole-in-the-sole type of situation, it’s a little less fun.

Today however I plan on enjoying some of our money. After work I’m going to a concert with my best friend and it will be great! As soon as I heard Brad Paisley was coming to town, what seems like forever ago, I knew that was what I wanted for my birthday. I chatted with my husband and he agreed that if that’s what I wanted as a gift for my 30th birthday then we’d spend the money. The ticket was bought and paid for months ago so outside of it being on my calendar, and me seeing the reminder daily, I almost forgot about it.

I’ve always been one who would rather spend money on experiences than things. I’d much rather have these memories with her than something I’ll wear for a while and then throw away or donate and totally forget about. For me doing something like this, going to dinner and a concert with my best friend is the best way I could enjoy my money.

One of the biggest motivators in us paying the debt off is so we can have more of these memories. While not all memories include spending money when I think about my favorite memories they’re usually from a vacation with my family or a concert or something ”special” (like the super delicious dinner we recently had in memory of my 20’s, aka my 30th birthday). Most of which require spending money.

We do a pretty good job at enjoying life while paying this debt off, I am by no means complaining about our life but I can’t help but wait for the feeling of buying something and enjoy it totally guilt free. Not spending it and immediately thinking about what I should be using the money on, or shopping on credit, or simply not spending at all because we can’t, or don’t want to.

I look forward to the day when I can go to a concert, or trip or buy the shirt or dinner out and think to myself ”I worked my butt off for ”this” and I’m going to enjoy it!’. I work to support my family but I’ll be damned if I don’t enjoy it too (within reason of course ;)).

When was the last time you really enjoyed your money??

5 Ways the Internet Will Help You Save on Your Master’s Degree

Online master’s degrees are becoming increasingly available due to high demand from prospective students. Online classes are convenient, but that is only one of the perks. Cyberspace can save you a ton of money when you’re pursuing higher education. Check out a few of the ways that the Internet will help out your wallet while you’re earning that master’s degree.

Time and Travel

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Image via Flickr by DaveFayram

Time spent traveling to and from school is wasteful, especially for students that take multiple trips between home, work, and school each week. Students spending long hours commuting miss out on tim they could use to work or study instead. Commuting to school, arriving early, and breaks between classes all add up to hours of lost time and hundreds of dollars. Some students choose to live in campus dorms or in nearby apartments, but these options are costly. Online classes let you stay put and save on lodging. The high costs that come with maintaining vehicles and filling gas tanks should also be considered, especially for those living in rural areas.

On Campus Costs

It’s easy to bring snacks, sack lunches, and drinks from home, but many students find themselves the victims of poor planning. Meals at colleges are notoriously expensive. The food is high in calories and not always tasty. This makes eating and drinking at home ideal for saving money on food.

There is also an increase in material costs on campus. Turning in papers is expensive because ink, printers, and paper are expensive. Presentations often require pricey materials. Students can eliminate these costs through online submissions and multimedia presentations.

Online Resources and Books

Many resources online are free and help students avoid making frequent trips to the library. Students can rent textbooks for as many days as needed on sites like Amazon. Some classes barely use their assigned textbooks, so online rentals are particularly attractive for students. Renting also eliminates the hassle of selling your books back when your class finishes. Although traditional in-class students can buy or rent online books as well, not everyone has an e-reader or laptop that they can easily take to class.

Tuition Reimbursement

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement for job-related classes, but the schedule for traditional classes often conflicts with the work schedules of prospective students. Being able to take advantage of employer offerings saves students thousands on their advanced degrees. Those pursuing degrees in the arts may have more difficulty getting tuition reimbursement from an employer as opposed to someone looking for an online MBA which is more relevant for general business use.

Childcare

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Image via Flickr by Photos from SkiStar

Few things are more terrifying to a parent than the cost of their childcare bill. Babysitters, nannies, and daycare are expensive and often too costly for most parents to consider. When childcare costs are an issue, online classes are the only option for some moms and dads.

The Internet makes attending classes easier than ever before, and it can save you a lot of money. Keep in mind, however, that some online classes cost more than traditional ones, so you should draft two sample budgets in advance. When universities charge the same tuition for traditional and online classes, thoroughly exploring your online options will ensure the most affordable education possible.

An Introduction to Part-time Trading: Selecting a Viable Trading Platform

The forex market is the largest financial platform in the world, generating more than $3.5 trillion each day. It is also renowned globally for its high levels of leverage and liquidity while its capacity to deliver sizable financial returns has cemented its worldwide appeal. Thanks to the promise of high returns and technological advancement, there has also been a recent influx of part time and independent financial traders who are hoping to earn an additional income through the forex market and similar derivatives over time.

Online Forex Trading: Selecting a Trading Platform

This influx has been at least partially triggered by the development of online trading platforms, which connect investors to the market and enable them to make informed, real time transactions. Selecting a viable trading platform is therefore one of your first challenges as a forex trader, as there are numerous options that are suited to various markets and core financial products. If you looking to develop a rigid portfolio that features currency as its core asset, there is an even wider choice and this can make your task even more difficult.

For more forward-thinking traders, however, it may be worth considering your future career or endeavours as a financial trader. While trading forex may represent a viable and lucrative entry point into the financial market, the most successful investors diversify their portfolio over time and develop it to include numerous alternative assets. This principle can also be applied by part-time traders, who will need to do their best to maximize their returns within a relatively short window of opportunity. For these individuals, web trading platforms such as those provided by Sucden Financial offer more depth and a wider range of markets.

The Final Thoughts for Aspiring Traders

With these points in mind, the concept of forex trading should appear far less daunting than previously. The marriage of the forex market and advanced technological software has delivered huge benefits to traders, and now is the ideal time to capitalise on these in the pursuit of maximising your earning capacity.

The forex market is just one of many potential trading environments, however, each of which has variable levels of risk, reward and volatility. If you intend to make the most of your part-time trading activities or hope to transform this passion into a lucrative career as you grow older, you will need to partner with suitable online brokerage firms and platforms that afford you widespread access to the market.

Why We Need to Redefine the Indications of Wealth

Last week on my blog, Jordann had a comment that made me think. In commenting about assumptions about her (and her husband’s) financial life, she said:

‘’…People who don’t read my blog think I’m poor because my husband and I live on a pretty strict budget and don’t spend money on items that would indicate wealth…’’

According to Wikipedia, wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions.

It saddens me to realize this. I think if you asked anyone if they would like to be ‘’wealthy’’ the answer would be yes. Given the choice I’d certainly rather be wealthy than not. While I understand that the definition of wealth is up for interpretation, working with the public for as long as I have has taught me one thing, most people would not reinterpret the definition of wealth. Most people would equate wealth with the acquisition of ‘’stuff’’.

Most of this stuff adds no value to our lives, it simply clutters it. It clutters not only our lives but our thought processes. Since we live in a society that largely looks for social acceptance, if it’s a ‘’wealthy’’ circle we’re looking to be in, how else would one be accepted if not for materialistic items? When we live our lives chasing the perfect definition of wealth we’re in this constant state of needing more ‘’stuff’’ and logic has it the ‘’wealthier’’ we are, the more stuff we’d need to prove that.

The big problem being that people are equating stuff with wealth, regardless of how they come into these objects. The abundance of material possessions is not something that indicates wealth to me, nor can we assume someone who has a lot of material possessions is wealthy. In today’s age of credit, it doesn’t require true wealth to have a lot of any one thing, unfortunately.

If you truly do have a lot of money and assets, I’m not suggesting you don’t go out and enjoy it, though I do hope you’ll do some good with it too…What I am suggesting is that if you’re living your life accumulating stuff thinking it will make you wealthy, you’re in for a big, unhappy, surprise. While money can’t buy happiness, if you have money it certainly can be enjoyed, but if you don’t (have money), spending the money (you don’t have) will leave you miserable, not wealthy. You’re chasing a dream that doesn’t exist.

So while Wikipedia’s definition of wealth ‘’is the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions’’ I think it needs to be altered to ‘’wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions which one gains through inheritance or earned through wages’’ OR wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions not bought on credit, or with your kids diaper money, or from illegal activity’’. Whatever definition you choose to adopt, remember that the acquisition of stuff does not equal wealth. True wealth is more about the life you choose to live than the objects in it.

How do you define wealth? Do you consider yourself wealthy?

Banking in the Modern Age

In this day and age, it is practically impossible to go through life without having a banking institution. It is much easier to get through life with a bank account and a debit card. In fact, some companies require you to have one in order to use their services or purchase products. Using a financial bank can also make life easier in the long run. While it may not allow you to build credit, it can allow you to show some financial stability when buying a car or renting a home. In order to buy a home, you have to have a bank account to show your income and expenses. The fact of the matter is that in today’s world, using a bank is almost a necessity.

How To Choose The Right Bank For Your Needs

When choosing a bank, one must take great care in understanding what the bank is offering you. There are many terms and conditions that customers should know and understand. Before choosing a bank to use, it makes sense to shop around to find the right one for your needs. Many banks have basic information available online for viewing. This is probably the best place to start. Once you have narrowed down your choices, the next step is actually visiting the banks and meeting with a representative. They can help you with any questions you may have and can provide you with detailed information. Once you have chosen the right bank and account type for your needs, these representatives can help you through the process of opening your account.

What Makes J.P. Morgan Stand Out

JP Morgan is the largest financial institutions in the United States. Their hedge fund unit is the second largest in the country as well. The multinational company offers many banking and financial services so you can use J.P. Morgan for all of your banking needs. The bank is a very established institution and would be a safe choice for any customer. J.P. Morgan wealth management is one of the best in the country, and can give you sound financial advice on all investment opportunities. Wherever you decide to do your banking, make sure it is a place that you are comfortable with and that the bank meets your needs.

How to Increase Your Home’s Value: Curb Appeal

Interior renovations on a home can be quite expensive and generally require more work than what you originally planned on. But the reason most people choose to renovate a home is generate a profit down the road when they get ready to market the home and move to a new home or location. What many people overlook when they are trying to increase their home’s value is the value of curb appeal. Here are just a few ways you can increase your curb appeal.

Add Some Color

Changing up the look on the front of your home can be easy. Painting the outside of your front door in an appealing color that provides some visual interest is a great way to draw the eyes of potential buyers.

While paining your door is fairly easy and inexpensive, painting your shutters or trim may take a little more work, but it can be worth it to have attractive and color coordinated accents on the front of your home.

Replace Hardware

No matter if you’ve given your door a fresh coat of paint or not, you can easily add some curb appeal and updated beauty to the front of your home by cleaning off any marks or smudges on and around your door and doorbell. Once you’ve cleaned the area, changing out your doorknobs and other hardware can make your older home look more modern and sophisticated.

Clean up the Landscape

Making sure your lawn is always mowed on time and free of weeds can go a long way in making your home look more presentable. Beyond that planning a few flowers or shrubs in a garden or mulch bed adds some personality and additional color to the front of your home. Consider edging your garden beds to make them look even more crisp and defined.

Create a Shady Spot

Having a small seating area in your front, side, or backyard is a great idea for entertaining guests during mild-weather times of year. Outdoor entertainment areas are a big value addition you can make to your home. If you have a covered porch or deck that’s great, but if not maybe some cladding would be a great way to add some shade and visual interest to your outdoor entertainment space. Composite cladding provides a cost-effective solution when compared to most wood cladding, plus it usually lasts longer.

Mailbox Makeover

Give your mailbox a quick makeover with a coat of new paint, adding a design, or going over you house number. This is a fast and easy way to catch the eye of any potential buyers who might drive by your home for quick preview.

What other ways have you helped create some curb appeal and add value to your home?

An Introduction to Part-time Trading: Selecting a Viable Trading Platfor

The forex market is the largest financial platform in the world, generating more than $3.5 trillion each day. It is also renowned globally for its high levels of leverage and liquidity while its capacity to deliver sizable financial returns has cemented its worldwide appeal. Thanks to the promise of high returns and technological advancement, there has also been a recent influx of part time and independent financial traders who are hoping to earn an additional income through the forex market and similar derivatives over time.

Online Forex Trading: Selecting a Trading Platform

This influx has been at least partially triggered by the development of online trading platforms, which connect investors to the market and enable them to make informed, real time transactions. Selecting a viable trading platform is therefore one of your first challenges as a forex trader, as there are numerous options that are suited to various markets and core financial products. If you looking to develop a rigid portfolio that features currency as its core asset, there is an even wider choice and this can make your task even more difficult.

 

For more forward-thinking traders, however, it may be worth considering your future career or endeavours as a financial trader. While trading forex may represent a viable and lucrative entry point into the financial market, the most successful investors diversify their portfolio over time and develop it to include numerous alternative assets. This principle can also be applied by part-time traders, who will need to do their best to maximize their returns within a relatively short window of opportunity. For these individuals, web trading platforms such as those provided by Sucden Financial offer more depth and a wider range of markets.

 

The Final Thoughts for Aspiring Traders

With these points in mind, the concept of forex trading should appear far less daunting than previously. The marriage of the forex market and advanced technological software has delivered huge benefits to traders, and now is the ideal time to capitalise on these in the pursuit of maximising your earning capacity.

 

The forex market is just one of many potential trading environments, however, each of which has variable levels of risk, reward and volatility. If you intend to make the most of your part-time trading activities or hope to transform this passion into a lucrative career as you grow older, you will need to partner with suitable online brokerage firms and platforms that afford you widespread access to the market.

I’m Sick of Assumptions About My Financial Life

In my job, I chat with a lot of people day-to-day which, to say the least, keeps my day interesting. I have some incredibly enlightening and inspiring conversations and, conversely, I have conversations with people I simply….shouldn’t (why do people feel the need to tell me intimate life details…). Every day is a new day.

Money doesn’t often come up in conversion but sometimes it does. Yesterday was one of those days.

I have a patient who, for lack of better words, is a total brat. Her attitude drives me crazy and she sucks all life out of the air when she’s around. I know her family well. They’re a fairly established family with two working parents who seem to be so busy in their own social engagements I don’t think they remember how many children they actually have. Not the point. Their daughter, patient in question, was in to see me and complaining about her sensitivity.

{Important description: 18 years old, walks in wearing TOO much perfume, sporting her MK watch, Kate Spade purse and Hunter rainboots}

Though the sensitivity could easily be remedied if she’d cut the two liters of pop and energy drinks out of her diet, it’s always MY fault they’re sensitive. Given that I’ve established there’s no changing this woman’s habits I simply suggest, again, that she try one of the desensitizing toothpastes I have suggested in the past. Her response?

”I’m not a rich girl like you who can just go out and buy $5 toothpaste. I don’t have the kind of money you do”

Taken aback (and beyond annoyed with her at this point), I put my instruments down and immediately ask her what she means. She goes on to explain that she doesn’t have the ”kind of money that a dentist does” and that she can’t ”waste her money” on toothpaste. Umm OK.

I explain that I’m not a dentist and that I don’t have nearly as much money (as most dentists) do. The mother in me went on to explain that, yes, though I have good paying job, I don’t actually enjoy most of my money since my husband and I are sill working to pay off our educations and that she really shouldn’t make assumptions about people, period.

Intrigued (and lacking a social filter), she went on to ask me a bunch of questions about why my parents didn’t pay for my education, why I have the debt, why I had a kid, how I ”even live” if I have debt, since she would ”kill herself if her parents didn’t pay for her stuff”…Yup, for reals. I answered her questions and reminded her if she could wear more than $1,000 in apparel in ONE outfit she could obviously afford the $5.00 toothpaste.

Though this girl drives me nuts every time she’s in, I’ll give credit when due, she apologized for for assuming I was ”rich” and felt bad for saying so. She also gave me ”props” for working hard to pay it off. Thanks, I guess?

This incident isn’t he first time something like this has happened though.Most of the time we don’t have the time (or energy) to lay it all out, as I did for her. I’ve had friends and family assume we did or did not have money based on, what I can guess, is nothing but assumptions since they didn’t ask ”why”. Let me take the time to say we (happily) have full control over financial life. If we decline an invitation to something it doesn’t mean we’re poor and have no money, if we try and give money it doesn’t mean we’re rolling in the dough or will struggle next week.

I don’t really care what anyone thinks of me, but my God, it drives me crazy when people make assumptions about our finances. Part of me wants to tell them to bugger off and the other half of me wants to give them the login info to my personal accounts and speadsheets.

Why do we (as a society in general) assume people who have seemingly well-paying jobs are ”rich” and those who don’t couldn’t possibly be?

Afterall, you know what they say about assumptions? They make and ass out of u and me ;)

 

 

 

A Look at Types of Home Loans

Graduating high school, going to college, getting married, landing a “career” type job, and buying your first home. All of these things are commonly seen as mile markers along the road to becoming an adult. But that last one, buying your first home, can be a very confusing and complex process. Luckily, there are a variety of home mortgage loans for you to choose from to find the one best fits your situation.

No matter if you’re a young adult with little saved up, or more established in your career with a large down payment already saved up, there is a home mortgage out there for you. Here are just a couple of the most popular types of home loans.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A fixed rate mortgage if interest rates are especially low when you go to secure financing for the purchase of your home, because the interest rate will be fixed at the same percentage level for the entire life of the mortgage. This means that if interest rates go up over time it won’t affect your loan or your monthly payments because your rate is locked in. This type of loan is more secure and stable than an adjustable rate mortgage.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage

If interest rates are low, you may want to consider a fixed rate mortgage when you secure financing for the purchase of your home. This will ensure that the interest rate is fixed at the same rate for the entire life of the mortgage Again, there is more risk associated with this loan type than a fixed rate mortgage. Interest rates might drop, but on the flip side they could rise and you’d be stuck with a higher monthly payment to help cover the increased interest cost of your loan.

Low or No Down Payment Loans

Most conventional home mortgage loans require a 20% minimum down payment of the houses’ selling cost. But if you do not have a good chunk of money stashed away for a down payment, you may be able to secure a loan with a low (or no) required down payment. Instead, you will be required to pay for loan insurance to help cover your lender’s risk.

Sometimes there are first time homebuyer’s programs that may waive the insurance requirement even if you don’t have a large enough down payment saved up. These programs are usually government sponsored to help young people purchase their first family home.

With so many different loan products to choose from when you go to buy your first home, it’s a good idea to consult with your lender or other financial professional about what type of mortgage is best for your situation.

What type of mortgage fit your home buying process the best?