5 Money Mistakes to Avoid Making in Front of Your Kids

Can you remember how your parents talked about money when you were a kid? Or, maybe you can’t remember because money was a topic that wasn’t discussed.

The way we think about money in adulthood is largely connected to how our parents talked about and dealt with money when we were kids. Just as you subconsciously transition into adulthood buying the same brand of pasta or laundry detergent as your parents, you also tend to adopt many of their perspectives on money — for better, or for worse.

Now, in your role as a parent, if you feel like you haven’t been a shining role model when it comes to how you use (or abuse) your money, don’t panic.

You don’t need to have the perfect financial track record to raise money-conscious children. However, there are a few money mistakes that you want to avoid making in front of your kids if you can help it.

Fighting about money

No kids like to see their parents fight whether it’s about money or anything else. However, when kids are repeatedly exposed to hearing their parents argue about money it can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. It also provides a negative model in regards to how to talk about money. Kids learn from their parents (shocker!). So, the way you approach your conversations about money will affect how they do so in the future.

The antidote to this issue is relatively easy (at least in theory). If you’re going to bicker about money, do it out of your kid’s earshot. And remember, kids can be sneaky, curious little things so really be sure they aren’t going to overhear.

Sharing all the dirty details

Your kids are kids. They don’t need to know every detail in regards to your financial woes. Definitely have conversations about money and even be honest if you’re having some financial issues. If approached correctly and in a way that is age-appropriate, you can use your money troubles as “teachable moments.”

The best thing you can do is to keep discussions about money simple and light in front of the kids. For instance, instead of saying “no, you can’t have that toy, your dad lost his job and we don’t even have enough money to buy food.” You can say, “money’s a bit tight right now so we won’t be able to buy that toy but don’t worry, we have enough money to take good care of you and your brother.”

Spouting negative money mantras

A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to bring concentration and focus. When used in a positive light, mantras are great. They can help you to hone in on a specific goal or way of thinking. However, if you’re constantly spouting negative mantras when it comes to money, this can lead to negative associations.

The “easy” fix is to try and talk about money in a more positive way. Avoid saying things like, “money is the root of all evil,” (I mean, this is pretty intense) or, “things will be better when we have more money,” (which will leave you and your kids constantly chasing more). Instead, you can try implementing money mantras that are more positive like, “money is a tool that we use to buy the things we value.”

Trying to keep up with the Jones’

It’s hard not to compare your financial situation to the Joneses, the Smiths, or even some random stranger on Instagram. But for the sake of your kids (and you’re own well being), try. You don’t want your kids to get the impression that what you have is never enough. You don’t want them to think their self worth is measured by their net worth.

Instead, focus on being grateful for what you do have. Teach them that the happiness attached to material things is very fleeting and that true happiness is achieved through close relationships and fun experiences.

Making money taboo

Not talking about money is almost worse than some of these other money mistakes. Why? Because at least if you’re oversharing or arguing about money in front of your kids, they still learn that money is a topic that can be discussed.

If your kids grow up thinking that conversations about money are taboo, how are they going to learn healthy financial habits? Unfortunately, you can’t assume they will learn how to handle their finances in school (I definitely didn’t) and you want them to go in the world with some financial prowess.

If you’re not comfortable talking about money, that’s okay. Buy your kids a book on personal finance, help them search for financial blogs, or take them to the library.

You’ve got this!

If you’re guilty of making some of these money mistakes in front of your kids, don’t worry — you’re not alone. By identifying that you’re making some of these mistakes you’re taking the first big step.

Look, you’re already here and reading this post so give yourself a pat on the back. Now the next step is to apply some of these simple tips — make money a more positive topic, be open about it without oversharing, encourage financial literacy in any way that you can, and try to be consistent when it comes to avoiding these money mistakes.

You’ve got this!

–By Jessica Martel

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

How Much Will Cutting the Cord Save You?

Cord-cutting will save you money but for many people, that’s only part of the equation. Yes, you want to spend less on cable, but you want to do that without sacrificing too many shows you enjoy watching. So, before you rip the Band-Aid off, look at the facts, and find out exactly what cord-cutting would look like for you.

The cord-cutting decision is a big one. You need to weigh how much you’ll save vs. how much you’ll miss out on. What price do you put on being excluded from conversations about the latest shows and sports on cable? Are we talking about significant savings or significant pain here?

To start, let’s take a look at the numbers to figure out what you’re really paying per month for movies and TV shows.

What are you really paying for your viewing pleasure?

If your family is like 78% of U.S. households, you are spending an average monthly payment of $107 to subscribe to a pay-TV service (either traditional cable television, a satellite service, or a streaming option. That’s a number which has steadily inched up year after year.

When you have a family like mine, you may have also committed to several online streaming services. It’s hard to say no when friends on social media gush about must-see programs like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime, The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, and The Mandalorian’s baby Yoda on Disney+.

Together an average family entertainment package — cable plus streaming services — can add up to over $140 per month, and that doesn’t include games.

How much are you spending?

And with so many cable options and a new “must-have” streaming service popping up seemingly every day, it’s easy to zoom past the average, if you’re not paying attention. Even if you stick to “the basics,” the amount you can spend can pile up fast.

Entertainment payments per month:

  • Cable bill: $107. U.S. average (according to a 2018 study by Leichtman Research Group)
  • Netflix for two H.D. streams: $12.99 (assuming you’re not borrowing a friend’s password!)
  • Amazon Prime: $12.99 (or a bulk bargain at $119 per year)
  • Hulu: $11.99

Pro tip: You can cut and paste this information into a spreadsheet to start your family budget for the new year.

Why not call and cancel cable right now?

Heck, you could save yourself $100 if you just cut the cord right now. But before you spend that money on last-minute holiday gifts, you should find out how much more your cable provider (which is generally also your internet provider) will charge you for broadband once you drop cable.  It’s generally at least $10 more a month without a bundle discount but, in some cases, the cost increase to get internet alone can be much higher, so, you have to weigh your actual savings.

Those fancy streaming subscriptions need a high-speed internet connection. Your cable/internet provider knows that and intends to make as much money off you as possible even if you cut the cord — this is especially true if you live in a market with only one provider (that also happens to be the cable company you just jilted).

I live in a rural area with broadband available only via Comcast. So, for us, it’s pay up or get ready to listen to the cows and the crickets. Our introductory rate was about $50 per month, not including setup and fees. Find out if you have a choice. Search for broadband and DSL providers in your zip code. The vast majority will offer service that’s fast enough to stream on multiple devices but be careful to read the fine print as what speeds the company promises to deliver. You will need service that’s 25 to 50 Mbps (megabits per second) in order to stream video well.

Before you cut the cord, do your research! If there’s competition in your area for internet service, try to negotiate a discount. It costs nothing to try, and you could save real money.

Pro tip: Some cable companies will offer you a “skinny” bundle with the major broadcast networks for just a few dollars more than getting internet alone. Ask before you fully cut the cord.

Prioritize your happiness

Cutting the cord almost certainly means losing access to some programming. That makes it a hard decision even when the savings will be significant. It’s important to look at your personal and family viewing habits before you make any decisions.

If you watch a lot of network television and live sports, then keeping cable might make sense for you. Or, if you prefer the content on streaming services, then go in that direction.

Consumers have more choices when it comes to television than ever before. That can be daunting – it’s easy to buy more than you can consume.

The good news is that most streaming services don’t penalize you for joining, watching what you want, and then leaving. Mix and match in order to find the right blend for you. That may mean leaving cable or opting for a smaller package.

Your options are plentiful and the choice is in your hands…though you’ll probably want to talk it through with all the other TV viewers in your home so you don’t accidentally inflict significant pain for relatively insignificant savings.

–By Nic DeSmet

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

12 Best Business Bank Account Promotions & Offers – January 2021

Unfortunately for small-business owners, solopreneurs, and freelancers, most of the best bank account promotions on the market right now cater exclusively to consumers. Indeed, many of the United States’ best online banks seem to favor personal account holders rather than business owners and their lieutenants.

But not all banks give business owners short shrift. You just need to know where to look to find potentially lucrative bank account bonus and referral opportunities. Let this list guide you to entrepreneur-friendly banks hungry enough for your business to pay you for it.

Best Business Bank Account Bonuses (January 2021)

These are the best business bank promotions this month. Unless otherwise noted, all are available to businesses of all sizes, including sole proprietors and freelancers without formal incorporation.

However, some accounts impose minimum balance requirements, monthly maintenance fees, and other requirements or restrictions that can impact their suitability. And all accounts must be open and in good standing when the bonus is paid.


1. Chase Business Complete Checking – $300 Bonus

Chase Bank LogoA very attractive offer awaits for Chase-curious entrepreneurs, including sole proprietors: $300 for new Chase Business Complete Checking customers who open an account and complete qualifying activities.

It’s not difficult to qualify for this opportunity. All you need to do is open a new Chase Business Complete Checking account with qualifying activities (described at the link above). No minimum opening deposit is required. Once your account is open, you’ll have multiple ways to waive the $15 monthly service fee.

Chase has ATMs and branches in the following states: AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MI, NV, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, TX, UT, WA, WV, WI. This offer is available online nationwide, except for residents of AK, HI, and PR.

Apply Now


2. Wise

5e961d64942a2f00f64d30dc Primary P 800For a limited time, earn a $100 credit in your Wise account after you sign up and spend $1,000 on your Wise card within the first 30 days. All you need to do is open your account and make qualifying purchases totaling $1,000 or more during the 30-day offer period. Moving forward, earn 0.5% incentive on base deposits (credited monthly) and 0.1% cash back incentive for every $1,000 in eligible monthly purchases with your card, up to 0.5% ($5,000 monthly spend).

Apply Now


3. Huntington Unlimited Plus Business Checking — $750 Bonus Cash

Huntington BankOpen a new Huntington National Bank Unlimited Plus Business Checking account by Feb. 7, 2021, for the opportunity to earn $750 in bonus cash. Here’s how the promotion works:

  • Open your new account by Feb. 7, 2021.
  • Deposit at least $20,000 in new money within 60 days of account opening.
  • Keep your account open for at least 90 days.

Once you’ve completed these requirements, you should receive the $750 bonus in your account within 14 days.

Moving forward, the $40 monthly maintenance fee is waived for the duration of 2020 and thereafter when you maintain at least $50,000 in combined deposit relationship balances across all eligible Huntington accounts. “New money” is defined as any funds not currently deposited in any Huntington account, except maturing business CDs.

This offer is available in states where Huntington has physical branch locations, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Apply Now


4. Huntington Unlimited Business Checking — $400 Bonus Cash

Huntington BankOpen a new Huntington National Bank Unlimited Business Checking account by Feb. 7, 2021, and you could earn $400 in bonus cash. Here’s how to take advantage of this opportunity:

  • Open your new account by Feb. 7, 2021.
  • Deposit at least $5,000 in new money within 60 days of account opening.
  • Keep your account open for at least 90 days.

You’ll receive the $400 bonus in your account within 14 days after completing these requirements.

Once your account is open, you’ll have the $20 monthly maintenance fee waived for the duration of 2020. Thereafter, maintain a combined deposit relationship balance (across all eligible accounts held with Huntington) of at least $20,000 to maintain the waiver in any given statement cycle. Bonus-qualifying funds must not currently be on deposit with Huntington, save for, maturing business CDs.

This offer is available in states where Huntington Bank has physical branch locations, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Apply Now


5. Huntington Business Checking 100 — $200 Bonus Cash

Huntington BankOpen a new Huntington National Bank Business Checking 100 account by Feb. 7, 2021, for the opportunity to earn $200 in bonus cash. Here’s how this bonus opportunity works:

  • Open your new account by Feb. 7, 2021.
  • Deposit at least $2,000 in new money within 60 days of account opening.
  • Keep your account open for at least 90 days.

You should receive the $200 bonus in your account within 14 days after completing the requirements.

This account has a $3 monthly maintenance fee that’s easy to waive by signing up for e-statements. “New money” is defined as any funds not currently deposited in any Huntington account, other than maturing business CDs.

This offer is available in states where Huntington has physical branch locations, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Apply Now


6. Bank of America Business Checking — Up to $750 Cash Bonus

bank of america logoFor a limited time, open an eligible new Bank of America business checking account (Business Fundamentals Checking or Business Advantage Checking) for the opportunity to earn a cash bonus of up to $750. Here’s how the bonus opportunity works:

  • Open a new Bank of America Business Checking account before the end of the offer period.
  • Make qualifying deposits within 15 days of opening the account.
  • Maintain a balance equal or greater to the amount of your qualifying deposits for the following 60 calendar days (the Maintenance Period).
  • Make at least five qualifying electronic payments during the Maintenance Period.

The qualifying deposit bonus thresholds are as follows:

  • $200 Bonus: Make cumulative deposits of $5,000 to $19,999 within the first 15 days.
  • $500 Bonus: Make cumulative deposits of $20,000 to $49,999 within the first 15 days.
  • $750 Bonus: Make cumulative deposits greater than $50,000 within the first 15 days.

Both eligible accounts charge monthly maintenance fees that can be avoided with qualifying activities. See Bank of America’s offer page for more information about the maintenance fees and how to avoid them.

This offer is available nationwide. Limit one offer per customer.

Apply Now


7. Brex Cash — 50,000 Bonus Points

Brex LogoOpen a new Brex Cash account and spend $1,000 in purchases to earn 50,000 bonus points. Moving forward, enjoy no account fees or minimum daily balance requirements, a generous ongoing rewards program, and value-added perks worth $150,000.

Learn More

*Brex Treasury LLC is not a bank; Brex Cash is not a bank account.


8. BMO Harris Bank Business Advantage Checking — $500 Cash Bonus

Bmo Harris Bank LogoOpen a BMO Harris Bank Business Advantage Checking account by Jan. 31, 2021, for an opportunity to earn a $500 cash bonus. Here’s how the bonus offer works:

  • Open a new Business Advantage Checking account by Jan. 31, 2021.
  • Deposit at least $5,000 (cumulatively) within the first 30 days your account is open.
  • Maintain a minimum balance of $5,000 or more for the following 90 days (between Day 31 and Day 120).
  • Have at least 10 electronic transactions post to the account within the first 90 days your account is open.

Once you complete these qualifying activities, you should receive the $500 cash bonus within 10 days.

Eligible electronic transactions include ACH credits or debits, online bill payments, mobile deposits, wire transfers, or debit card point-of-sale (POS) purchase transactions. POS credit transactions and ATM withdrawals are not eligible.

Moving forward, avoid the $20 monthly maintenance fee when you maintain an average daily balance of at least $5,000 during the statement period or a $15,000 minimum balance across all eligible BMO Harris accounts.

This checking account bonus offer is available in states where BMO Harris Bank has physical branch locations. Limit one offer per customer.

Apply Now


9. BMO Harris Bank Essential Business Checking — $200 Cash Bonus

Bmo Harris Bank LogoOpen an eligible BMO Harris Bank Business Checking account by Jan. 31, 2021, for an opportunity to earn a $200 cash bonus. Here’s how the bonus offer works:

  • Open a new Essential Business Checking account by Jan. 31, 2021.
  • Deposit at least $1,500 (cumulatively) within the first 30 days your account is open.
  • Maintain a minimum balance of $1,500 or more for the following 90 days (between Day 31 and Day 120).
  • Have at least 10 electronic transactions post to the account within the first 90 days your account is open.

Once you complete these qualifying activities, you should receive the $500 cash bonus within 10 days.

Eligible electronic transactions include ACH credits or debits, online bill payments, mobile deposits, wire transfers, or debit card POS purchase transactions. POS credit transactions and ATM withdrawals are not eligible.

Avoid the ongoing $15 monthly maintenance fee when you maintain an average daily balance of at least $1,500 during each statement period.

This checking account bonus offer is available in states where BMO Harris Bank has physical branch locations. Limit one offer per customer.

Apply Now


10. PNC Bank Business Checking — $200 Cash Bonus

Pnc Bank LogoOpen an eligible new PNC Bank business checking account (Business Checking or Business Checking Plus) by March 31, 2021, for the opportunity to earn a $200 cash bonus. Here’s how the bonus offer works:

  • Open an eligible account by March 31, 2021.
  • Maintain an average cycle balance (account balance) of $5,000 or more for each of the first three statement cycles.
  • Complete at least 20 total qualifying debit card transactions within the first three statement cycles.

Once you’ve completed the qualifying activities, you’ll receive a $200 cash bonus in your account within 90 days.

See the respective application pages for Business Checking and Business Checking Plus for more details on avoiding the monthly maintenance fees.

This offer is available nationwide. Limit one offer per customer.

Apply Now


11. SunTrust Business Checking — $200 Bonus Cash

Suntrust LogoOpen an eligible new SunTrust business checking account (Simple Business Checking, Primary Business Checking, or Business Advantage Plus) by March 31, 2021, for the opportunity to earn $200 bonus cash. Here’s how the offer works:

  • Open your eligible new account by March 31, 2021.
  • Enroll in the offer at application
  • Make cumulative qualifying deposits of $1,500 or more within 30 days of opening the account.

Once you’ve completed these activities, including the deposit requirement, you’ll receive your reward within eight weeks.

Moving forward, all eligible accounts waive monthly maintenance fees for the first two statement cycles. Refer to the offer page for information about avoiding each account’s monthly maintenance fees thereafter.

This offer is available in states where SunTrust has a physical branch presence and is limited to new customers only. Limit one offer per customer.

Apply Now


12. Axos Bank Basic Business Checking — $100 Cash Bonus

Axos Bank LogoOpen a new Axos Bank Basic Business Checking account by the offer end date using the promo code “EARN100,” to earn a $100 welcome bonus. Here’s how it works:

  • Apply for your new Axos Bank Basic Business Checking account by the offer end date with a minimum opening deposit of $1,000.
  • Maintain an average daily balance of at least $5,000 during the first three months (new funds only).
  • You’ll receive your $100 cash bonus within five business days of your third statement cycle date.

For more information, read our Axos Bank review.

Learn More


Final Word

Most of the banks mentioned here do not cater to small-business owners exclusively. They also offer consumer accounts — in some cases, generous and expansive lineups that include free checking accounts, rewards checking accounts, CDs with above-average rates, money market accounts, and high-yield savings accounts that might just keep your emergency fund on pace with inflation.

This matters. After all, every business owner is a person too — one with personal money management needs. Which means every business owner needs a personal checking account, among other key personal banking relationships. If you’d like that relationship to involve the same bank you choose for your business banking needs, perhaps one of these promotions will seal the deal.

Source: moneycrashers.com

A Parent’s Guide to Setting a Successful Budget for a College Student

 You are getting ready to send your child off to college. Before you start helping them pack their belongings, there is one thing you need to do.

You need to help them create a budget. You need to teach them how to manage their money so they can learn the tools they’ll use long after they graduate.

WHY DO COLLEGE STUDENTS NEED A BUDGET?

The truth is everyone needs a budget. It does not matter your age. If you are dealing with money, a budget is necessary.

  1. Allows you to control your money. Rather than your money telling you what it wants to do, you get to tell your money where it needs to go. You are always in control when you have a budget.
  2. It teaches financial skills. A budget helps ensure that expenses such as rent, tuition, food, insurance, transportation, and housing are paid – before spending money on the fun stuff. (It also helps to make sure you don’t spend more than you make.)
  3. Makes you aware of where your money goes. When you use a budget, you see how you spend. It is very simple to see if too much is going toward dining out when you should be building your savings.
  4. Helps you track your goals. You need to cover expenses but you should also work on building savings at the same time. Your budget allows you to not only see those goals but track them in real time.

DOESN’T A BUDGET MEAN YOU CAN’T HAVE FUN?

Not at all! If anything, your budget will allow you to have guilt-free fun.

For example, the budget may allow you to spend $50 a week dining out. That means you can go to dinner with friends once (possibly twice) a week and enjoy yourself. You won’t be left wondering how you are now going to make rent.

WHAT TYPE OF BUDGET SHOULD YOUR STUDENT USE?

There are various methods of budgeting such as the 50/30/20 and the zero-based budget. For most college students, the zero-based is the simplest and easiest to follow.

The reason is that you track everything. You give every penny a job. That means if you earn $1,500 for the month that you “spend” the entire $1,500.

You will first cover the needs (food, shelter, transportation) and then your wants. If there is money “leftover” after this is done, it can be added to your savings.

You can use other types but if you have never budgeted before, using this method is the simplest.

WHAT SHOULD A COLLEGE STUDENT INCLUDE IN A BUDGET?

The budget will vary for each person, as the income and expense will be different. However, these are the most common categories that need to be included in a budget:

  • Rent
  • Renter’s insurance
  • Car payment
  • Car insurance (also saving for annual renewal fees)
  • Food
  • Clothes
  • Utilities (phone, electricity, gas, water, etc.)
  • Tuition
  • Fees
  • Entertainment (movies, games, concerts)
  • Dining out
  • Emergency fund savings

Again, you may have items that are not included above or see some that you do not need.

However, the most important thing of all is that every penny is given a job. Account for everything you will spend each month so you never have too much month and not enough money.

HOW DO YOU KEEP TRACK OF YOUR BUDGET?

For most college students, apps or digital trackers are the best options.  But, before you rush and sign up, keep the following in mind.

  1. Cost. Many apps are free and they will work perfectly fine. Other apps have a monthly fee attached to them. If you plan to use one of them, make sure you include that as one of your regular expenses. However, do not let the cost alone be a single factor when it comes to clicking the sign-up button.
  2. Security. Your security trumps all else. You need to make sure the app uses encryption as well as two-factor authorization.

Some of the best apps include:

  • Mint
  • You Need a Budget (YNAB)
  • PocketGuard
  • Mvelopes

However, your student may also like the traditional paper and pencil method – and that is OK as well.

Find the right one that works best for your student. That is all that matters.

TEACHING THEM TO BUDGET

Knowing you need a budget and where to track it is just the beginning. You need to teach your child how to budget.

Start by looking at each category that they need on their budget. You may already know the cost for each category but if not, you may need to make phone calls or do research to know.

For example, you know the rent for the apartment is $850 a month but how much are the average utilities? Ask the manager for these costs so you can include them in the budget.

Next, decide how much they want to allow themselves to spend on food. Show them how much a meal costs for a single person at each restaurant you eat at so they can create an average.

You will then have them decide how much “fun money” they want to include as well. You can base this on them wanting to go to the movies two times a month, one concert a month, or attending three events.

Now you can see the expenses for your student. Add their income to the budget and deduct the expenses. They will see if they are operating in the black (money left over) or in the red (spending more than they make).

Show them how to adjust the numbers by increasing their savings or lowering the amount they can spend on clothes – until the budget equals zero. Zero meaning they are spending every penny they earn.

And making them keep track now will help ensure they stay on track well into the future.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

7 Best Free Business Checking Accounts of 2021

Every small-business owner knows the open secret about business banking: It’s just not as owner-friendly as consumer banking.

There’s a reason our roundup of the best online banks has few truly free business checking accounts — accounts with no monthly maintenance fees (and thus no overly burdensome monthly service fee waiver requirements) or monthly transaction limits. Unfortunately, monthly maintenance fees and transaction limits are par for the course in the business banking world.

That sets up a sharp contrast with the consumer banking space, where the free checking accounts and free high-yield savings accounts have proliferated since the global financial crisis of the late 2000s.

Free checking accounts aren’t entirely absent from business banking. They’re just more difficult to find — which means small-business owners and solopreneurs need to know where to look.

Best Free Business Checking Accounts

These FDIC-insured online banking accounts all waive monthly maintenance fees for all account holders, regardless of account balance, transaction volumes, or cash deposit requirements. They boast other user-friendly perks besides, such as mobile banking, bill pay capabilities, cash flow management tools, and ACH functionality. That puts them head and shoulders above your basic business checking account.

Here’s what you need to know about each.

1. BlueVine Business Checking

1.00% on All Balances With Qualifying Minimum Balance

Bluevine Business CheckingBlueVine Business Checking is a truly free business checking account that offers a nice yield for higher-balance account holders and waives transaction limits, nonsufficient funds (NSF) fees, and ATM fees within an expansive network. Every new account holder gets two free checkbooks to begin, which makes BlueVine Business Checking an excellent choice for businesses with vendors who don’t take electronic payments.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum balance requirement and no ongoing monthly maintenance fee.
  • Yield: Earn a 1.00% APY on all balances up to $100,000.
  • Rewards and Incentives: BlueVine has no transaction limits, waives fees at about 38,000 in-network ATMs, and delivers two free checkbooks with every new account.
  • Overdraft Options: BlueVine does not impose overdraft or NSF fees but may decline such transactions at its discretion.
  • Possible Fees: BlueVine has virtually no fees.

Apply Now


2. Axos Bank Basic Business Checking

Limited-Time Offer: $100 Account Opening Bonus

Axos Bank LogoAxos Bank Basic Business Checking is a no-nonsense, maintenance-fee-free checking account that offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, a remote (mobile) deposit feature that’s perfect for business owners on the go, and a great welcome bonus offer.

For those keen on Axos Bank but hoping to avoid maintenance fees, Basic Business Checking is an excellent alternative to Axos Bank Business Interest Checking. And you can apply entirely online. Plus, Axos has multiple consumer bank accounts appropriate for business owners looking to manage their personal finances.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: The minimum opening deposit is $1,000. There’s no monthly maintenance fee.
  • Yield: None.
  • Rewards and Incentives: To earn the limited-time welcome bonus, apply for a new Axos Bank Basic Business Checking account by Dec. 31, 2020. Then, maintain an average daily balance of at least $5,000 (new funds only) during the first three months your account is open.
  • Overdraft Options: Axos Bank offers an opt-in overdraft line of credit that covers overdrafts that would otherwise be returned unpaid. This line of credit has a variable interest rate comparable to a high-interest credit card. Payment of at least 5% of the balance or $25, whichever is greater, is due each statement cycle.
  • Possible Fees: $0.30 per item processed after the first 200 items each month.

For more information, read our Axos Bank review.

Apply Now


3. Lili

Totally Free Checking With Automatic Tax Savings and Financial Insights

Lili LogoThe Lili Account is a truly free, all-in-one checking solution that’s built with freelancers in mind. In practice, it appeals to a much broader audience: side hustlers and gig workers supplementing W-2 income, established solo professionals (one-person businesses), and full-time freelancers.

With Lili, these folks don’t need separate bank accounts for personal and business needs — just Lili. Its signature benefits include a sub-account that simplifies tax savings, early payday for qualifying account holders, instant expense categorization, cash deposits at more than 90,000 U.S. locations, an “emergency bucket” feature that allows savings transfers as small as $1 per day, and a powerful cache of financial insights and expense management tools to help you spend (and save) smarter.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: Lili has no account fees or minimums.
  • Yield: Lili doesn’t pay interest. Check back often for the latest offers.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Lili’s referral program pays $25 per successful referral and delivers a bonus of $1,000 when you make 10 successful referrals. Plus, Lili makes it easy to set aside funds earmarked for tax payments, has helpful expense management and categorization tools (like quarterly expense reports), promises an early payday for account holders with direct deposit (up to 2 days early), and delivers real-time alerts about transactions and other account activities.
  • Possible Fees: Lili charges no account fees.

Apply Now


4. Brex Cash

50,000 Bonus Points After Account Approval; No Fees or Minimums

Brex LogoBrex Cash is the perfect replacement for your old business bank account: an easy-to-use cash account with no fees or minimums. New Brex Cash companies enjoy a generous welcome offer and ongoing rewards program, plus value-added perks worth $150,000, a user-friendly mobile app with impressive capabilities, and advance payment scheduling tools built to help you avoid late vendor payments.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: Brex Cash has no account fees or minimums.
  • Yield: None.
  • Rewards and Incentives: After your account is approved and open, spend $1,000 to earn 50,000 bonus Brex Rewards points. You’ll earn points on every purchase, every day, too.
  • Possible Fees: Brex Cash has no account fees.

Learn More

*Brex Treasury LLC is not a bank; Brex Cash is not a bank account.


5. Novo Powerfully Simple Business Banking

Opportunities to Earn Thousands in Free Perks

Novo Bank LogoNovo’s Powerfully Simple Business Banking product is another branchless, free business checking option geared toward self-employed users and microbusiness owners. Its key selling points include an easy application process, opportunities to earn thousands in free perks with approved partner vendors, few if any fees, and a host of third-party integrations.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: The account opening minimum is $50. There’s no ongoing minimum balance requirement and no monthly maintenance fee.
  • Yield: None.
  • Rewards and Incentives: See Novo’s website for details on opportunities to earn thousands in free perks.
  • Overdraft Options: Novo’s overdraft protection policy states that if Novo chooses to honor an overdraft, the insufficient funds fee is $27 per item. The returned-item fee is also $27 per item.
  • Possible Fees: Novo has virtually no fees besides the insufficient funds and returned-item fees.

Apply Now


6. Citizens Bank Clearly Better Business Checking

No Monthly Maintenance Fee; High Monthly Transaction Limit

Citizens Bank LogoCitizens Bank Clearly Better Business Checking is built for established small businesses with no tolerance for monthly maintenance fees. Its high monthly transaction limit (including for cash deposits) and generous overdraft options are perfect for high-volume account holders working on thin margins.

The biggest downside is the fact that eligibility is geographically limited to states in Citizens Bank’s physical branch network, mainly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. If you happen to live and work in this part of the country, it’s difficult to envision a better free business banking option.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: The minimum opening deposit is $100. There’s no ongoing monthly balance requirement.
  • Yield: None.
  • Rewards and Incentives: None.
  • Overdraft Options: Citizens Bank offers two opt-in overdraft options. The first is an overdraft line of credit that costs $30 per year and requires a monthly payment of the greater of $20 or 2% of the balance. The second is an overdraft savings transfer program with no annual fee. Both options charge $12 for each day an overdraft transfer occurs, regardless of the number of transfers on that day.
  • Possible Fees: $0.50 per item above the 200 monthly transaction limit. See terms for information about wire fees and other possible levies.

Apply Now


7. NBKC Business Checking Account

No Minimum Daily Balance Requirements

Nbkc bankWith no balance requirements, unlimited free transactions (no transaction fees), and fee-free access to more than 34,000 ATMs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, NBKC’s business checking account is ideal for microbusiness owners and sole proprietors without significant cash reserves. Plus, it has one of the best remote check deposit features around: the Desktop Deposit feature, which pairs with a robust mobile app to facilitate seamless deposits.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum daily balance requirement or ongoing monthly balance requirements.
  • Yield: None.
  • Rewards and Incentives: NBKC refunds ATM fees charged by other banks worldwide, up to $12 per month, and charges no ATM network fees. In other words, NBKC customers enjoy free ATM use. This account comes with unlimited transactions as well.
  • Overdraft Options: See account disclosures for details on how NBKC’s courtesy overdraft sweep works.
  • Possible Fees: NBKC charges $5 to send a domestic wire and $45 to send or receive an international wire. Otherwise, it’s virtually fee-free.

Apply Now


Final Word

Some of the banks mentioned here serve small-business owners exclusively. If you prefer to work with a bank that’s laser-focused on the needs of entrepreneurs like you, that’s a major selling point.

The other banks on this list are larger institutions that also serve consumers. If you also happen to be in the market for a new personal banking relationship, you’ll want to see what else they have to offer. Some sport rewards checking accounts, competitive CD rates, and attractive money market accounts too — not to mention high-yield savings accounts that can help you keep pace with inflation. There’s a strong case to be made for doing all your banking in the same place, whether it’s a bank or credit union.

Source: moneycrashers.com

IRS Home Office Tax Deduction – Rules & Calculator

If you’re a small-business owner, freelancer, independent contractor, or self-employed person who maintains an office at home, you may qualify for a tax break by using the home office deduction.

The home office deduction allows you to deduct a portion of the cost to run and maintain your home as a business expense. Done properly, this deduction can reduce your taxable income substantially, generating a tax savings. A word of caution: This deduction is frequently abused, but, on the other hand, often overlooked. Just because this deduction is a common source of tax fraud doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it if you qualify for it.

How the IRS Defines a Home Office

Home Office Deduction

Whether you convert a bedroom, den, basement, attic, or garage into an office, the IRS does not specify what kind of facility can be an office. They do, however, have two rules about the use of the space. To qualify to deduct expenses for business, you must use that space:

  • Exclusively and regularly as your principal place of business
  • Exclusively and regularly as a place to meet clients, customers, or patients in the normal conduct of your business

“Regular use” means that you use the space on a regular basis, not on an occasional or incidental basis. If you use your den once or twice a year for a client conference, that does not meet the standard of regular use and does not qualify as a home office.

“Exclusive use” means that you use the space only for business. If you meet clients regularly in your den, but your family also uses your den to watch TV, then the den does not meet the standard of exclusive use and does not qualify as a home office.

A part of a room can be designated as an office even if other parts of the room are used for other purposes. If, for example, you have a desk, chair, filing cabinet, and copier in a 50-square-foot area of a 120-square-foot room, that space can be a home office if it meets the regular and exclusive business use criteria.

Pro tip: By using tax preparation software from a company like H&R Block, you’ll have confidence you’re getting every available tax deduction and minimizing your tax liability.

Home Expenses That Count Toward the Deduction

IRS Publication 587 notes that allowable office-in-home expenses are of three kinds:

  • Direct expenses apply to the office only (for example, repainting the office).
  • Indirect expenses apply to the entire home (for example, utilities).
  • Unrelated expenses apply to neither the office nor the home itself (for example, lawn care).

Direct expenses can be deducted on your tax return in whole. Indirect expenses are deducted proportionately, according to the office square footage compared to the square footage of the total house; unrelated expenses are not deductible.

Indirect expenses might include the following:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Qualified mortgage insurance premiums
  • Property taxes
  • Depreciation
  • Rent (if you do not own the home)
  • Utilities and services (like trash removal and cleaning)
  • Repairs (unless the repair involves only the office, then it is direct)
  • Security system
  • Casualty losses

Noticeably absent from this list is telephone expenses. The basic charge, including taxes, of the first landline to your property is a personal expense and not deductible, although long-distance costs made for business purposes are deductible separately on Schedule C (not as part of the office-in-home expenses). The cost for a second line to the office for business purposes is a direct deduction. A cell phone plan may also be partly or wholly deducted separately, depending on the percentage of business usage.

How to Calculate Your Home Office Deduction

If you opt for the general method using Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Home, the first task is to calculate the percentage of business use. To do this, you divide the square footage of your office space by the total square footage of the home. As an example, assume your home has 1,200 square feet and the part of your home used for business activity is a room that’s 10 x 12 feet (120 square feet). The percentage of office use is 120 square feet / 1,200 square feet x 100 = 10%.

If you do not know the square footage of your home, you can check with the county assessor’s office, which may be able to provide you with that information. The IRS allows you to use “any other reasonable method” to determine the percentage of business use, so if the rooms in your house are of approximately equal size, you can divide the number of rooms used as office space by the total number of rooms to find the percentage of business use. However, the square-foot method is more precise.

To continue the calculation, let’s say that you had the following indirect expenses:

  • Mortgage: $1,200 per month x 12 months = $14,400
  • Property Taxes: $1,000 x 2 payments per year = $2,000
  • Hazard Insurance: $50 per month x 12 months = $600
  • Electricity: $80 per month x 12 months = $960
  • Gas: $40 per month x 12 months = $480
  • Sewer, Water, and Trash: $60 per month x 12 months = $720
  • Furnace Repair: one-time cost of $1,840
  • Total: $21,000

In this example, the total cost of running the home for the year is $21,000. Since we previously determined that the business portion of the house is 10% of the total, then the office-in-home expense is $21,000 x .10 = $2,100.

If you had a direct expense of $200 to paint the office, you could add this amount to the indirect expense total of $2,100 to give a total expense deduction of $2,300.

Depreciation

If you are using Form 8829, after calculating your deduction for the business use of your home (Part II), you can figure your depreciation deduction in Part III. Depreciation is a mechanism for homeowners to deduct an amount for the wear and tear from normal use of the property over its useful life of. For the purpose of this depreciation, the useful life of the property is 39 years. To figure your depreciation, you need the following:

  • Your Basis in the Home on the Date You Began to Use Your Office (usually your cost plus the cost of any improvements to the property): $300,000
  • The Cost of the Land: $50,000
  • The Date You First Started Using Your Office: January 1, 2109
  • The Depreciation Factor (from the Instructions for Form 8829): 2.461%
  • The Percentage of Business Use: 10% in our example

Since land does not depreciate, the calculation is done as follows:

($300,000 – $50,000) x .02461 = $250,000 x .02461 = $6,152.50

The business use depreciation is 10% of that $6,152.50: $6,152.50 x .10 = $615.25

This amount is carried back to Part II to complete the business use expense deduction:

$2,300 + $615.25 = $2,915

This total is carried to your Schedule C, line 30.

Simplified Method

Not everyone wants to track their actual expenses and maintain proper records in the event of an audit. To make it easier for taxpayers, the IRS allows small-business owners to elect a simplified method for calculating an expense for a home office. The election is taken on Schedule C (Part II, line 30), in which case Form 8829 is not needed.

The simplified method allows a $5-per-square-foot deduction up to a maximum of 300 square feet. Therefore, for our 120-square-foot office in the above example, the simplified method would allow a deduction of 120 x $5 = $600, which is significantly less than the calculated method allowed. Moreover, with the simplified method, you are not allowed a depreciation deduction. However, the upside is that you do not have to recapture the depreciation later when you sell the property.

Additional Deductions & Exceptions

Additional Deductions Exceptions

If you use an area of your home for storage of inventory, for example, the general area does not have to be used exclusively. The area taken up by a shelving unit in the den on which you keep inventory or product samples can be included in the deduction, even though the entire den is not used exclusively for business. In addition, if you have a day care in your home, there are special rules, which are detailed in Publication 587.

Be aware, also, that if the gross income from your business is less than the deductions (including office-in-home), some of your deductions may be limited. If you use the general method, rather than the simplified method, some of the deductions may be carried forward to the next year. Again, details are in Publication 587.

Another reminder: If you’re using the general method, and you’re including home office expenses that are otherwise deductible as itemized deductions on Schedule A (such as mortgage interest, property taxes, and mortgage insurance premiums), the percentage of those indirect expenses not used on Form 8829 are still deductible on Schedule A.

For instance, in the example above, 10% of the mortgage interest of $14,400 (or $1,440) is deductible on Form 8829. The other 90%, or $14,400 – $1,440 = $12,960, can be deducted as mortgage interest on Schedule A.

Final Word

The home office tax deduction can save you a substantial amount in taxes. If you’re a small-business owner wanting to cut costs, start early to assemble your receipts, utility statements, mortgage statements, or canceled rent checks to calculate and justify your deduction for a home office. Reducing your business’s net profit not only reduces your income tax, but also your self-employment tax.

Source: moneycrashers.com

4 Ways to Spot a Work-From-Home Job Scam

Work-from-home jobs are becoming more common — who doesn’t want to help out with the family finances while being there for your little ones while wearing yoga pants with a messy bun all day? That unfortunately also means that there are scams popping up all over the internet offering work-from-home jobs that might not be what they seem.

As with most things in life, if a work-from-home job sounds too good to be true, it probably is. These scammers are after your money or personal information (you don’t want to know what they’ll do with it!). This means if you want to find legitimate work-from-home jobs, you need to do your research.

Still, scammers are getting savvier with their ads and websites. Here are 4 signs that the next ad you see is a work-from-home job scam.

You saw an ad in Google Ads or within sponsored links

There are plenty of legitimate companies that advertise for jobs, especially if they really need workers. However, most work-from-home jobs that you find through paid online channels are rarely good ones and often they are not legitimate. That’s because scammers are using ads to target as many people as possible.

Think about it: why would it be that hard for a company to fill positions for work-from-home jobs through traditional hiring channels?

Ads you need to look out for are links that have “sponsored results” or “sponsored links” next to them. That being said, there are legitimate websites (like here!) where there could be links to work from home job opportunities. If you want to work from home, look for jobs on company careers pages, on mainstream jobs sites, and on websites catering to this type of employment,

Unclear contact information

Before applying for a work-from-home job, search for a contact or about page. Legitimate companies should display their contact information clearly — email address, phone number, and business address. Scammers tend to either have just an email address or contact form, so there’s really no way to tell what kind of company it is.

Real companies generally don’t hide their identity. Think about it this way, would you go on a date with someone you met online who refused to give you a name or phone number?

The ad reads like a sales page

Of course, when you’re applying for a job, the company is just as excited to have you apply as you are  — it wants qualified applicants. That being said, scammers tend to use high-pressure tactics to get you to sign up right away.

If a website has language where it indicates there’s only a limited amount of spots, that you need to make a quick decision or “you deserve this amazing opportunity,” then it’s most likely a scam. In some cases the website uses emotional language — it could be ones where it shows the success others have had, often earning huge amounts of money within a short amount of time, or asking you to imagine what you’d do with all your wealth.

Why would a company need to resort to these tactics if it’s such a great opportunity?

Fuzzy details

Legitimate companies will clearly spell out what it is that you’ll be doing, where you submit your work, and how you’ll get paid. The website or ad should outline briefly exactly what it is you’re doing and then dive into the details. It should read like a job ad for any traditional job posting you’ll find on websites like Indeed.com.

Scammers will be fuzzy on the details. The ad will most likely lead with emotional and vague language as to what you’ll be doing. If it sounds like they’re hiding something, be suspicious.

Be careful out there

The sad fact is there are a lot of scammers who are after your personal information or money (if you have to pay to apply, steer clear) and will use work-from-home job ads to do so. You know you’re a savvy mama, so as long as you remain vigilant, you won’t fall prey to these scams. That way you can focus your efforts on legitimate jobs and earn money for your family.

Remember that there’s no magic answer to your employment needs. If a company makes promises in its ad that sound too good to be true, then they almost certainly are. Learn what your desired work-from-home field pays and know that any offer that dramatically exceeds that is likely a scam. Be skeptical and do your homework before handing over your personal data.

–By Sarah Li Cain

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

9 Ways to Recover from Overspending During the Holidays

The packages have been opened. The kids are loving their new toys.  You are enjoying your coffee one morning and reading your mail when you see them…

THE BILLS! Yikes!

It seems you went a little over your budget. It was fun and the joy you brought to your kids’ faces was worth it.

However, now you need to find a way to recover from overspending during the holidays. It is not fun, but is necessary. Here are nine steps you can take to recover from any spending mistakes you made during the holiday shopping season.

1. Put the credit cards on ice – literally

The first thing you need to do is stop spending.  You need to put the credit cards away. Take them out of your wallet and put them in the safe.

Or, if you want to make sure you really do not use them – freeze them in a block of ice! That way, if you do feel the pull to shop, it will take time to thaw out and the urge to spend my pass by then.

2. Calculate the damage

You can’t bury your head in the sand when it comes to seeing the damage done to your budget. Face it head-on.

Total every receipt and credit card statement to find how much was spent. While it may be painful to see the balance due, it is necessary.

When you see that figure in writing, it helps you know what you are facing and where you may need to cut back.

3. Review the budget

 Once you know the amount you need to pay off you also need to review (or create) your monthly budget.   That means including those new monthly payments to the credit card companies.

Make sure your budget is balanced, in that you are not spending more than you take in each month.

4. Create a repayment plan

Up next, you have to create an exit strategy – which will be to pay off those credit card bills. Grab the statements for each and then list them by including the balance and the interest rate.

You may be tempted to pay the highest balance first (which is what I recommend when it comess to getting out of debt). However, when it comes to this debt you just incurred, I recommend starting with the highest interest rate first.

By eliminating that bill quickly, you are reducing the amount of interest you will pay to the credit card company. There is no need to pay them any more than you need to!

Once the first card is paid in full, roll the monthly payment amount into the payment for the next card. Repeat until they are all paid in full.

You’ll not only pay them off quickly but also minimize the total interest paid as well!

5. Reduce your spending

When you have bills to pay it means you need look at the budget to find areas where you can cut back.

It may mean cutting cable or eliminating dining out. You may need to cancel the subscription to the gym or find frugal date night options.

Be willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains as the sooner you can eliminate these bills, the better.

6. Use your bonuses

If you are fortunate enough to get a holiday bonus don’t blow it on what you want. Use that to pay off your holiday bills.

If you don’t get a bonus then use any of that Christmas cash you received for your bills! Look ahead to see if any other money will be coming your way such as birthday money or a tax refund. Earmark that to pay off your holiday spending.

7. Get a side-hustle

If you need to tackle your balances then a side-hustle may be the solution – even if temporary. Look around the house for items to sell. If you are a teacher, consider tutoring students.

Every penny earned can be money used to put towards that holiday spending.

8. Build your savings

You don’t want to find yourself in this same situation again next year. It is not a fun cycle of rinse and repeat.

The holidays come at the same time each year. It is not a surprise or an unplanned expense.  You need to plan for it.

Review the total spent this year and divide that by 12. Focus on saving that amount each month, all year long, and you’ll be able to pay CASH next year and not even use the credit cards.

9. Save using the coin challenge

One simple way to save money for holiday shopping is to switch to a cash budget. Then, save the change and any “leftover” money each pay period.

For example, if you budget $300 for groceries and spend only $270, don’t blow that left-over $30…put it back for the holidays!

The same premise works with change. If the total is $7.49, hand over $8 and put $0.51 into your savings jar.

Saving doesn’t have to be hard

Simple tricks can help you quickly build your savings!

It is easy to spend too much during the holidays but with some smart strategies, you can get your budget back on track.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

How to Avoid These Big Retirement Mistakes

Retirement is usually a daunting transition for most people. Many would admit that the anxiety retirement carries stems from them simply not knowing how to prepare for this life-changing event.

In fact, only 27% of the baby boomers that Harris Poll surveyed claim to be “very prepared” financially for retirement. Others who aren’t as prepared most likely think so due to healthcare costs in retirement. According to The Motley Fool, nearly 30% of the boomers they surveyed believe their savings will be enough for healthcare expenses in retirement.

After these baby boomers closed in on retirement age, they realized a surprising fact – Medicare isn’t free. That’s likely the majority of baby boomers believe to not have enough saved for healthcare in retirement.

Expecting Medicare will be free is one of the biggest retirement mistakes you can make. Continue reading to find out how you can avoid this mistake and other mistakes so that you can be better prepared for your golden years.

Costs of Medicare

Throughout our working years, we have Medicare and Social Security taxes deducted from our checks. These Medicare deductions are only paying for your hospital coverage through Medicare Part A.

You shouldn’t think of this as bad news. Medicare Part A has the most expensive monthly premium, so earning a premium-free Part A is a big deal.

Medicare Part B, however, is not premium-free.

In 2019, Medicare Part B runs $135.50 per month for most people. However, if your income of greater than $85,000 as an individual, your Part B monthly premium will be increased. It’s important to estimate what your Part B premium will be based on your income so that you can be sure you have set enough aside for the costs of your healthcare in retirement.

If you didn’t know that some people pay more, you could find out after you have signed up that your premium is double or even triple what other people pay. Surprises like this one can cause you to use up your savings a lot faster than you had originally expected.

Another similar mistake people make is underestimating the amount of out-of-pocket costs you can experience with Medicare. They are significant so many people need to purchase additional coverage to take care of these expenses.

Costs of Medigap

Because there is no cap to what you can spend out-of-pocket with Original Medicare, many people elect to have a Medigap plan in addition to their Part A and B coverage. Medigap plan premiums are based on many factors such as age, location, and carrier. In some states, popular plans run about $100 to $150 for new Medicare beneficiaries while in others they may cost $250/month+.

Keep in mind that this will be a premium you pay in addition to your Part B premium. If you weren’t prepared for this extra premium, you may not be able to afford this type of Medicare plan, which could leave you responsible for paying Medicare deductibles and coinsurance out-of-pocket.

Many baby boomers admit that they will rely solely on their monthly Social Security checks as their income. Since the average Social Security check is only around $1400/month, making this mistake could create problems when trying to pay for your Medicare parts and plans. Those premiums can eat up 10% or more of your Social Security check.

Save for Healthcare Costs in Retirement by Enrolling in an HSA

An HSA is a health savings account. This type of account was created so people could save money that could later be used for qualified medical expenses, such as insurance premiums. To enroll in an HSA, you simply need to first have a qualified high-deductible health insurance policy.

Once you are enrolled in a qualifying health plan and have set up your health savings account, you can start contributing money to it. If you are an individual, you can contribute up to $3,500 a year. If you have family members on your health policy with you, you can contribute up to $7,000 a year. For those who are at least 55 years old, they can contribute up to $1,000 extra each year.

As you can see, HSA contributions can add up to a substantial amount of savings. For example, if you enroll in an HSA and start contributing the family amount at age 30, by the time you are Medicare age, you could potentially have saved $255,000 ($7,000 x 25 years + $8,000 x 10 years). This doesn’t count the interest you would also earn over those years.

Of course, you may need to dip into this account prior to Medicare for medical expenses, but you get the point; an HSA is a great way to save for healthcare expenses in retirement.

Fall Back Option

If retirement is just around the corner for you and you feel you won’t be able to live on your Social Security income and your savings, pick up a side hustle.

Baby boomers are starting part-time, work-from-home jobs all the time now. Find a hobby you enjoy that you can also make money while doing and start earning some extra income.

Danielle K Roberts is the co-founder of Boomer Benefits where she and her team help baby boomers navigate their Medicare insurance options. She is a member of the Forbes Finance Council and writes frequently about Medicare, retirement and personal finance.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

Do Warehouse Clubs Really Save You Money?

Warehouse clubs have been around for decades, offering members a way to save money on everything from bulk toilet paper and ground beef to big-screen TVs and tires (in the same shopping trip). But even with their cult followings, it can be hard to justify paying a membership fee just to be able to shop there.

Whether you’ve walked the long aisles of your local warehouse club before or are brand new to the idea, here are just a few ways that one of these memberships can save you money on many of the things you buy.

Getting a warehouse club membership

I’ll be honest: one of my favorite perks of being a Costco member is the samples. There’s just something about hot (free) food at the end of an aisle to really make your Saturday shopping experience better.

Of course, food samples alone aren’t worth the cost of my annual membership. To make that expense worthwhile, I have to take a look at how much money I’m saving each time I shop at a warehouse store, and how often those savings really come into play.

I’ll be signing on again when my membership comes up for renewal next month, because I have discovered that I definitely save serious cash with club prices. But warehouse clubs admittedly aren’t for everyone. To make that annual fee worthwhile, you’ll really have to do the math and look at your family’s needs, to see if this style of shopping makes sense.

Here’s a look at some of the things to keep in mind when debating a club membership, and some of the ways warehouse stores really can save you money.

How to save money at warehouse stores

Today, warehouse clubs are ten times better than the way I remember them from my childhood. They offer so many more products and perks, at pretty reasonable membership rates.

With a little strategy, you can save some serious cash at your local warehouse store.

You can buy organic

For years, I avoided buying a warehouse club membership because our family bought mostly organic food. Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that Costco has quietly become the largest organic retailer in the country, surpassing even Whole Foods.

You can buy everything from organic fruits and vegetables to milk, eggs, juices, meats, and more. Whether you prefer conventional food or non-GMO and organic, you can still find what you need at a warehouse store … and often for a much more competitive price.

Shop sales

Did you know that warehouse stores don’t just offer bulk prices? Most chains also publish weekly circulars with sales, promotions, and rebates.

Try to double up on the savings by taking advantage of promotional pricing. If you have manufacturers’ coupons, many warehouse stores will accept those, too.

Save even more on Black Friday

Forget fighting at your local Walmart for deals on Black Friday. Clubs like Sam’s and Costco offer additional promotions on already-low prices, and often have huge discounts that are available in the days leading up to Black Friday — so you don’t even have to stand in line at 4 a.m.

Fill ‘er up

Certain warehouse store locations will offer gas pumps for members. You can easily save a few dollars every time you fill up, just by buying there instead of a typical corner store. (I usually save $0.10 or more per gallon).

Book your next vacation

It was only last year that I discovered the value of warehouse store vacation pricing. You can buy everything from local theme park tickets to Disney passes, cruises, and family vacation packages to destinations around the world, all at a discounted rate.

You can take a look at the discounts available in your local store, or call your preferred warehouse chain’s vacation booking line to price out your own trip. Sometimes, you may still be able to find a better deal elsewhere, but it’s yet another way to potentially save on travel and experiences.

Compound savings with a credit card

By signing up for a warehouse club credit card, you can further compound your savings.

Some cards offer extra rewards for all purchases made at the warehouse store. Others may reward you for all of your everyday spending. And some may even come with promotional membership fee credits.

Take advantage of return policies and guarantees

Warehouse clubs are notorious for having excellent customer service, great return policies, and satisfaction guarantees.

At Sam’s Club, you can return items opened or unopened within 30 days for a full refund … no questions asked. Hate that new yogurt but bought a 60-pack? Yep, you can return it.

At Costco, electronics are the only returns with a specified timeframe — everything else is open to the staff’s discretion. Oh, and if you’re unhappy with your membership at any time? They’ll refund that, too.

Things to Keep in Mind

Of course, warehouse stores aren’t for everyone, and the fee isn’t always worth the cost.

It probably won’t be your one-stop-shop

Even though today’s clubs offer a huge variety of products and even organic offerings, you’ll probably still need to visit your local grocery store as well. If you’re used to knocking out all of your household’s shopping in one trip, this may be an added pain.

You’re not saving money if you’re wasting

Yes, you can save money per-unit by buying in bulk. But if you don’t need 300 of something — or cannot eat your way through a warehouse store-sized box before the food goes bad — you’re still wasting money in the end.

Don’t fall into the trap of buying more than you need. That dog food might be on an amazing sale, but it’s still not a good purchase for you if you don’t have any pets.

Budget Still Matters

It’s easy to go to Costco or BJ’s and buy a year’s worth of supplies. However, it’s important to still keep your budget in mind, and make sure that you can afford to stock up all at once.

Saving a few dollars a month over the course of the year is great…but not if you wreck your budget in the process or have to carry a credit card balance to do so.

Many warehouse clubs will offer day passes or even have promotional weekly passes for potential members. If you’re considering buying a membership, this can be a great way to look around and gauge your interest.

–By Stephanie Colestock

Source: pennypinchinmom.com