As a fun, frugal, family activity, we recently decided to start a weekly family game night with our kids, ages 7 and 8. There was just one problem… A lot of “family games” are really boring for the adults! Some of the old classics also took too long to hold everyone’s attention or involved too much reading for the kids. After a lot of trial and error, we found some that the whole family can all really enjoy! [Read more…]
One of the most common questions I hear from new budgeters is, “How do I convince my husband / wife to use a budget?” When one spouse is on board and the other isn’t, it can be very difficult to get started. People often compare paying off debt or saving money to the process of losing weight, but you can lose weight by yourself. If you’re married, it’s pretty difficult for one spouse to make financial progress without at least partial support from the other spouse. So what do you do? Here are some ideas: [Read more…]
Would you love to have some great photos for your Christmas cards, but can’t afford a professional photographer? Good news! You can do it yourself at home FOR FREE! You probably already have everything you need for a studio-style photo: [Read more…]
Last week, we realized that our son (age 7) needed prescription glasses. He had been playing video games and started crying because his sister wouldn’t let him have the seat closest to the TV, and he couldn’t read the words on the TV screen from the other seat. I didn’t waste any time and called the next day to get an appointment for an exam with our eye doctor.
After the doctor confirmed that he definitely did need glasses for near-sightedness, the challenge became choosing where to buy the glasses. With a rambunctious 7-year-old boy, I was certainly not going to pay the high prices at the doctor’s office. Why would I pay $200+ for something that was likely going to be lost or stepped on the very next day? I was also disappointed to learn that most of the doctor’s offices and chains offer no coverage for damage after the initial return period (generally 60 or 90 days). [Read more…]
My daughter is on a Lego robotics team this year, and she’d love to have her own Lego robot to practice on. One of her teammates has one at home and she asked if we could get one too. While I fully support her interest in robotics, the price is quite a bit more than we currently have in our “kids activities” budget category, and she certainly doesn’t have enough in her allowance money. It’s so hard to say no in situations like this. I agree with the idea, and I have the money (but the money has other jobs in the budget).
So, how do you tell kids it’s not in the budget? [Read more…]
A reader recently asked me about tax benefits for college tuition. She’s a mom thinking about going back to school for a new career and also thinking about how she will afford her children’s future education. Educational tax benefits are confusing because there are a number of options, and if you try to read all the details on the IRS website, you’ll probably end up either confused or asleep. To make it a little simpler for you, I’ll break it down to just the basics.
There are really only three options for getting a tax break on tuition that you’ve paid in the current tax year. There are some other tax benefits for saving for college, but that’s a post for another day. For tuition paid, there are two credits and one deduction available. If you don’t understand the difference between a credit and a deduction, start by reading my post on the most important tax lesson you need. [Read more…]
I really enjoy Halloween and I think great costumes are a big part of the fun. It’s hard to believe this will be my 9th Halloween with kids, and I’ve put together 17 different kids’ Halloween costumes! I’ve learned a lot along the way, and while I love good costumes, I try hard to keep the costs as low as possible. I want to share some ways I’ve learned to save on Halloween costumes, so you can have fun without breaking the bank. [Read more…]
When people talk about different kinds of saving, there are a lot of terms that get thrown around. “Sinking fund” is a term that’s frequently used, but often gets misunderstood. I love sinking funds and they can be a great way to avoid debt, so I thought I’d clear up some of the confusion.
Disclaimer: I am not a CPA or a lawyer, and this post should not be taken as legal or financial advice.
I like to talk about taxes because taxes matter A LOT when you’re trying to figure out how to optimize your finances. I’ve talked before about why you should care about taxes and why different kinds of tax-advantaged accounts are better than others (and how there’s only one unicorn account!). As we get closer to the end of the year, I’m going to be discussing more tax topics. Before we delve deeper, I need to cover some basics. Let’s start with the most important lesson…
The most important thing you need to understand about income taxes is the difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit. [Read more…]
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When I talk about “cutting the cord” of cable TV, the most common objection I hear is sports. How can someone possibly watch sports without spending a small fortune on cable TV service? There are a number of ways: [Read more…]