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As a parent, it’s easy to decide to save for your child’s future. However, deciding the best way to save is a bit harder. It really depends on your purpose for saving. Therefore, before you choose how to save, determine what your ultimate goal is.
Life Experiences and Beyond
If you want your child to have enriching experiences throughout her childhood or during college, consider opening a custodial brokerage account in your child's name. This money could be used for summer camp, music lessons, a study abroad trip, or a nest egg. Commonly reserved for long-term objectives, parents usually use a nest egg for their child’s future education costs, home purchase, or retirement plan.
With a custodial account, each child can receive up to $14,000 a year from each parent without being subject to a gift tax. However, the account is still taxable under the so-called “kiddie tax” rules, which state the first $1,050 will be tax-free. Then the second $1,050 is taxed at her rate, which is usually lower than your rate. Any amount after that is taxed at your rate.
Until your child reaches a certain age, generally between 18 and 25 (depending on your state), you manage the account. Once your child is of age, she gains control of the account and can use the money however she wants. If you wish to remain in control of the savings account for a longer period of time, a trust account may be a better option.
Custodial accounts have quite an impact on financial aid, according to the Balance. Assets in a custodial account belong to your child and count more heavily. When determining aid eligibility, 20 percent of a child's assets are assumed available for college, while only 5.64 percent of a parent's assets are considered available.
While thinking about the future, you may also wish to consider whether life insurance is a viable option. Not only will a life insurance policy provide your beneficiaries with income-tax-free money, but the value also grows over time. Of course, you will likely have to pay a monthly premium for the policy, so learn the pros and cons of life insurance.
Building a Career in Business
An essential tool that has become more synonymous with high-level business jobs recently is the MBA. Obtaining this next level of education can provide you with greater career choices and increased earning potential. These changes will have a direct impact on your ability to plan for your family’s future and financial stability. Other added benefits of an MBA are expanded leadership skills, growing job prospects, and the ability to impact your family's success in other ways (inspiring and leading by example).
If you wish to save for college, a 529 plan offers two enticing benefits. First, the money grows tax-deferred, and any withdrawals are tax-free, as long as they’re used for qualifying expenses for college, such as tuition, room and board, books, and computers. Second, a 529 plan is considered a parent's asset, so unlike a custodial account, there's less impact on financial aid.
The lifetime contribution limits for a 529 are high at about $200,000. Family members and friends can contribute, and some states offer additional tax incentives. So, if you have family and friends in other states, consider shopping around to find the best 529 plan to fit your needs. The friend or family member can open one, and you can contribute.
The only way to save for retirement through an IRA is with earned income from the account holder. Once your child becomes old enough to work, she can invest her money into an IRA, and Schwab recommends using a Roth IRA account.
While your child is still a minor, you can help her get a head start on retirement savings by opening a custodial Roth IRA on her behalf. Although smaller brokerage or mutual fund companies may not offer these accounts, many of the larger ones – Vanguard, Schwab, and TD Ameritrade – will do so.
Although you can teach your child to save using a piggy bank, consider helping her save through investing. The best route of investment depends on what your main goal is for saving. No matter which option you choose, you're thinking ahead and planning for your child’s financial future, so that is a parenting win.
Imagine an office where the coffee machine is right next to you, there are always snacks in the fridge, and you can wear whatever you want. That’s more than just a fantasy for millions of people in the information economy such as copywriters, journalists, and web developers who have made the move to working at home in the new gig economy. Here are some tips on how you can join them and start living the dream rather than just dreaming.
Set Up a Workspace
Once you’ve gotten the legal documents filed and your business plan worked out, you can move on to the fun stuff. Setting up a dedicated workspace is important if you intend to work from home. Your computer and its accessories are your new lifeblood, and you do not want to face a meltdown when approaching a deadline for your first client. Take a look at the system you have now and get ready to upgrade if necessary. An old laptop the entire household uses for gaming is not going to cut it, so you may have to invest in a new one that is dedicated to your new career. Check out the state of your cables and peripheries as well before you head to the shop.
Next up comes your chair. Since there’s a good chance you’ll be sitting down and tapping at the keyboard for the better part of the day, you’ll want something that’s ergonomic to avoid back and shoulder pain. The right one should support your posture while reducing pressure on your hips, factors that will increase your overall comfort and make work a lot easier.
Install an Accounting System
You want to be ready for your first client, who might show up sooner than you expect. This means having a system in place to manage your income and expenses; otherwise, you won’t know how much money you’re making, and you could end up in hot water come tax time. A simple Excel spreadsheet may suffice in the beginning but not once the business starts picking up.
According to the Freelancers Union, a website devoted to the gig economy, the right cloud-based software will not only minimize the amount of time you spend on accounting but improve your financial decision-making. They propose a variety of solutions, including one that’s free and others for as little as $9 a month.
Stick to a Schedule
Time management could be the difference between success and failure, as hours spent gazing at cat memes can be costly and cut into your bottom line. That’s why experienced freelancers agree: Make a schedule and stick to it. This includes rather mundane things like getting up at a decent hour and getting showered, dressed, and ready for action. Too much freedom can be your worst enemy.
Next comes the actual work. It’s handy to make a checklist of the things you need to do each day, then set aside specific hours for each task. Remember not to make your schedule too tight. Trying to do too much in too little time is a real risk when you’re getting started, as the pressure is on to bring in the revenue. Be sure to include breaks and meals in your planning to avoid being run ragged.
Get Out and Network
Now that you’ve set up your home office and established a daily routine, it’s time to leave. Some of your most valuable work won’t be found online at your desk but by meeting with potential clients at networking events, so be sure to fit this into your schedule. You can start small by contacting other freelancers in your area and inviting them out for a cup of coffee.
For bigger occasions, make sure to be prepared. This means learning a little about other attendees, dressing appropriately, and having business cards at the ready. And remember, the contacts you make are only worthwhile if you follow up later with an email or a phone call. Your marketing and self-branding should continue unabated when you’re back at home in your comfy office chair.
Though success may not come immediately, you’ll hit your stride soon enough by staying motivated and sticking to your schedule. So get back to work and stop looking at those cat memes!
Image via Pixabay
Lucy is available at: Gigmine.co
Feeling a little bored of your home’s design and décor? Want to freshen up the interior and add some new features? As you decide what to include in your remodeling plans, keep your health in mind. Certain renovation projects can help you maintain a healthier lifestyle. Some of these projects will likely require you to hire a contractor, but for some renovations, you can go the DIY route. Here are a few projects that can help you create a healthy home, along with tips for vetting contractors and selecting the most qualified tradespeople to work on your house.
Before you start calling local contractors, think about which remodeling projects you could take on by yourself. You’ll need to get a basic toolkit together — for example, you should have a tape measure, screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, nails, and screws. If this sounds expensive, then you’ll need to look for ways to save money, such as looking online for special deals or waiting until seasonal or holiday sales. For example, you could possibly use Cyber Monday coupons to help save money on the supplies you’ll need to get started.
What can you accomplish with some standard tools and a little elbow grease? You can grab a few buckets of paint and spruce up your walls for about $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot — cool colors like blues and greens can influence your mood and make you feel calmer. Installing ceiling fans will help you stay cool on hot days, and if you know your way around electrical wiring, you can do it without a contractor for about $75.
Central Air Conditioning
If your area sees high temperatures every summer, you might want to take things a step further than a DIY ceiling fan installation and have professionals set up your home with a central air conditioning system. Shop around for HVAC technicians by running background checks, verifying their permits and licenses, and getting cost estimates to compare.
The cost of a central air conditioning system can vary depending on where you live. It can get pricey, but central air conditioning provides a wide range of health benefits when the temperature rises. It can lower your risk of dealing with conditions like heat stroke, and it filters the air in your home, resulting in better air quality.
Want to get a few more workouts into your usual routine without going to the gym? Consider splurging on an in-ground pool. According to Active, swimming is a great full-body workout that will increase your endurance, strength, and flexibility.
Installing an in-ground pool isn’t a quick and cheap upgrade. And you will also have additional costs, including utilities and increased insurance prices. Before selecting a contractor for the project, ask them which subcontractors they like to work with; building an in-ground pool will require a bigger team, so you want to make sure that you approve of everyone involved.
Have you ever had the opportunity to relax in a sauna and found yourself wishing that you could do it more often? Sauna sessions can help you recover after intense workouts and even improve your cardiovascular health, and according to Cost Owl, you can install an infrared sauna in your home for about $1,500 to $3,000, plus the cost of labor. Make sure to look at the portfolios of any potential contractors; saunas aren’t the most common home fixture, so you’ll need someone with the right experience.
If you feel like your home needs a new aesthetic, keep your health in mind as you make your budget and outline your plans. Carefully screening contractors and getting the right tools for DIY projects is the key to making it happen. Outfitting your home with the features you need to improve your well-being can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life.
Downsizing can mean something different for everyone, but it usually involves moving to a smaller home and getting rid of possessions. For most people, downsizing is an inevitable part of life, whether it brings you to a smaller single-family home, condo, or even an assisted living facility. Below, learn more about downsizing and find helpful resources that will guide you through the process.
Purchasing a New Home
For many seniors, it makes the most sense to buy a new home that’s smaller and easier to take care of. Here are a few tips for picking the perfect home.
Planning Your Move
Mapping out your move can eliminate a lot of the stress associated with downsizing. Once you’ve decided where you’re going to move, use these tips to develop a plan for a seamless transition.
Packing and Unpacking
If you hire professional movers, they might take care of packing for you. However, you may still want to do some of it yourself. Here are a few tips for making the process easier on yourself.
Downsizing involves a lot of work and is often stressful. However, the process may also allow you to start fresh with a new perspective. Following these tips will help streamline the process so you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and focus on getting settled in your new home.
I'm excited to announce that we have a guest blogger today: Kris Louis of Parenting with Kris. She and her husband recently sold their home and wanted to share some of the tips and tricks they learned throughout the process. Please give her a warm welcome to the blog.
5 Ways Busy Parents Can Prepare Their Home for Showings
You’ve made the big decision to put your family’s home on the market. You know that relocating to a new neighborhood is the better choice for your family, but when you have young kids, preparing your home for showings is no easy task.
As a busy parent with a packed schedule, you’re probably wondering how you can keep your house in order for buyers and keep your kids happy at the same time. It’s a balancing act, for sure, but sticking to a few basic guidelines will help. These tips can help busy parents get their house looking spotless from top to bottom before inviting in potential buyers.
Make a Checklist
Before you begin the staging process, come up with a checklist that will help you prepare for every open house. Having a list in front of you will help you stay on task when you’re juggling your responsibilities as a seller with parenting.
Which tasks should you include on your list? Redfin suggests asking a loved one or pet sitter to watch your pets for a couple of hours during open houses. You’ll also need to ensure that any valuables in your house are safe and secure. In addition, make a note to open your blinds to let natural light in and take steps to minimize smells.
Basic Home Makeover
When you list your home for sale, it’s time to take down personal family items. According to HomeGo, depersonalizing your home is a crucial aspect of staging it for buyers — they need to be able to envision themselves living there. Don’t be surprised if this sparks some strong feelings from your children, especially when you have to make some changes to their rooms! Be patient with them and give them space to express their emotions.
Decide What to Keep
As you declutter your home, everyone in the family will have to be prepared to get rid of a few things. Help your kids sort through their toys and decide which ones they want to keep in the house, which can go in storage, and which they are ready to let go of. If your child is attached to a particular toy, make sure it does not get placed in storage! You can donate unwanted toys, or you could host a garage sale to bring in a little extra cash.
Want to spend less time cleaning up before having buyers over? Take steps to prevent your kids from creating messes in the first place. For instance, you might have to explain that they won’t be able to paint or do certain arts and crafts activities in the kitchen right now. It’s also smart to be a little stricter than usual about having your children take off their shoes after walking in the front door so that they don’t accidentally track mud through the house.
Tidy Up Daily
When you’re showing your home to buyers on a regular basis, the cleaning never really stops. You’ll need to spend a day or two deep cleaning each room, but even after you’ve put your mops and sponges away, you’ll need to keep up with your efforts to make your home shine. Each day, dedicate a little time to tidying up. Whenever possible, have a loved one watch your kids for an hour or two before each showing so that you can clean without interruptions.
When you have children, keeping your home looking clean and tidy is an ongoing challenge. If it’s time for your family to pack up and move, you’ll have to put in a little extra effort to spruce it up before open houses. By keeping a checklist of essential tasks and making it a point to clean up each day, you’ll have no problem impressing prospective buyers.
We have our first guest post today which is exciting. Alice has some wonderful recommendations for keeping a clean and decluttered home. Check out her tips below and come back next week for the beginning of a new series... I've started decluttering my own home!
Having a decluttered home may seem trendy, but it can improve the quality of our lives. When we aren't surrounded by things, we can focus on what matters. However, throwing items away is not the answer. Recycling and reusing what we can keeps our planet and our houses healthy.
Keep the Home Clean
Having a decluttered home is only as freeing as how clean it is, so you'll want to maintain that fresh feeling. However, when you clean, you need to use things that are good for you and the environment. From reusable cloths to non-toxic chemicals, there are choices for everything. One way to incentivize yourself to stay on top of cleaning is to get a good vacuum. A high-quality vacuum with the capacity to quickly remove dirt and grime can make cleaning a breeze. Since there are different models to choose from, check out online reviews to ensure you’re getting a great one.
Simplify Your Furniture and Appliances
Larger goods can often be difficult to dispose of in an eco-friendly way, but it's not impossible. In fact, it can be downright easy if belongings like bedding, large electronics, and more are in decent condition. Many donation centers will come and collect big items, even if they aren't perfect. Take advantage of neighborhood yard sales as well, or list an item online as free or for a small price. Make the caveat that the buyer needs to pick it up themselves so you don't need to worry about transport. If, for instance, an old refrigerator no longer works, you still have options to explore. Companies like Best Buy will take electronic goods and appliances at no charge, but call and ask if your local store has a similar policy.
Sell What You Can
Sometimes, it's worth our while to not just list something as free but to make a little extra cash from it. This doesn't just apply to things that are in pristine condition. With a bit of time and effort, you can restore or transform older goods into something completely new. For example, you could put a fresh coat of lacquer or paint onto wooden tables or stools. Or, get a swath of colorful fabric and repair the seat of a computer chair. There is no end to what you can do, as even mismatched dining room chairs can be transformed into a chic bench. If you love what you've made, keep it. If not, list it on a site like Etsy or eBay and make a tidy profit.
Paper clutter is pernicious and can invade every room if we're not careful, which is why it's a good idea to go digital, whether that's bills or storing photographs online. Plus, you'll save paper waste from rotting in a landfill. However, make sure you know which cloud service offers what you need. Some are free, while others are paid but provide additional services. You might need a storage service that syncs continually or a cheaper one that only does it manually. If you have large files, you'll want architecture that allows for unlimited capacity. You also shouldn't rely solely on one service, so have backups on flash drives or external hard drives to be safe.
Rethink Your Media
Are you going to re-read that book that's been sitting on the shelf for years? What about the movie you bought on a whim, watched once, and only thought was okay? One solution is to go digital. You can store your movies — even books — on your tablet or laptop. With the availability of different streaming services, owning physical movies is another form of clutter. This is especially true if you're hoarding a load of VHS tapes just in case, as outdated forms of media rarely come back into vogue. It's time to clean up and upgrade your entertainment.
We don't need to live our lives in hectic chaos. By decluttering our homes, we simplify and relieve stress. You don't need a house full of things to be happy. Instead, only keep what truly makes you joyous, and let the rest go.
Image courtesy of Pixabay