The Financial Impacts on Families Due to Government Shutdown

The United States is currently going through the longest government shutdown in its history. Partial government shutdown or full government shutdown, it doesn’t matter. The pain of the unpaid government workers, laid-off associated contractors, and numerous businesses that either supply the government, depend on government workers for its business or have any kind of interaction with the government are experiencing great pains.

This is not a red pain or blue pain. Instead, it’s a green pain because the economic impact puts a strain on personal bank accounts regardless of personal politics. Although government agencies have published some seemingly tone-deaf tips about how their workers can survive this shutdown, they’ve mostly fallen flat. They don’t account for the fact that most families affected by the shutdown are those who get personal loans for bad credit to pay the bills. Garage sales and mystery shopper gigs aren’t going to get the job done.

Friday, January 11, 2019, was the first day government workers missed a paycheck. That means that those financially hurt by the government shutdown are starting to see even more magnified effects on their personal finances. Many workers who have to still work during the shutdown got a pay stub that said their normal hours worked but $0.00 for pay. While the government may have itself on ‘pause,’ one’s bills, creditors and grocery needs are ever constant and far from being patient during this stoppage.

The immediate and measurable need of cash creates financial instability for those impacted by the shutdown. Some people’s homes will move into delinquency and/or foreclosure. People’s credit ratings will be impacted because of their inability to meet their monthly payments. News has promoted stories of individuals unable to get proper health care or medicine. All of these scenarios will have long term impacts, ranging far beyond whenever the government does open back up for business.

What to Do in Order to Survive the Shutdown

The following offers a few tips of things that you can do to help survive this shut down:

  • Consider borrowing money to pay bills until the shutdown ends (including from friends, family, your retirement savings, loans, and credit cards);
  • Contact your creditors in order to see if they offer any special assistance as someone impacted by the government shutdown;
  • File for unemployment, if eligible, so that at least a portion of your normal pay will be made available to you;
  • Some employees have even started GoFundMe pages in order to seek assistance from the general public; and
  • Contact your local elected officials to voice your concern and personal situation so that they can advocate on your behalf.

Avoiding bankruptcy is a key to these steps so that you’re not penalized for the actions of the government in your personal life. Avoiding bankruptcy outside of a government shutdown can usually be helped by visiting with a credit counseling agency, so that is something that you might want to do now as well.

Although this government shutdown is the longest ever, the shutdowns are happening more frequently than ever before. Thus, there is a good possibility that you might be in this situation all over again sometime in the near future. Whether it’s a delay on receiving your tax refund or being able to go to court, the shutdowns are like a pebble in a pond and the ripples will expand far beyond where the pebble hit the water.

Shopping Around in the Digital Age

We all love a bargain and, thanks to the internet, there’s usually always a host of deals to be had somewhere, all just the click of a mouse button away. What’s more, ease of browsing through search engines allows us to find multiple locations to buy exactly what we want, quicker than it’ll take you to read this article.

Focus on the Time of Year

Convenience and reputation often tend to attract the most custom, along with a vast range of diverse products, which is undoubtedly why the leading internet shopping sites in 2018 were Amazon, eBay and Walmart. However, just because they’re the biggest and most famous, offering a one-stop-shop for practically everything you could want, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better than other online stores.

Any savvy shopper will always make a point of comparing prices between stores as a matter of principle and, sometimes, the bigger name stores can offer some of the best prices and discounts. However, price shouldn’t always be the deciding factor when buying something online, given there are lots of other factors one should perhaps consider when deciding what constitutes a good deal.

Image Source: @knowledge_18 via Twitter

One interesting approach is to plan for the year ahead, given that certain products can fluctuate greatly in price depending on the season or month of the year. We’re all familiar with Black Friday in November, although, it might not always be the best time for a good deal. For example, if you’re shopping for home decor and furnishings, big-box stores frequently offer some of their best deals around Memorial Day in May. Likewise, a good time to buy home appliances can be September and the week leading up to Labor Day, with many retailers offering great clearance deals.

Articles of clothing are also affected by the seasons, as brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers alike rotate their inventories. If you’re looking for a bikini for the summer holidays or some garden furniture, then you’ll usually pay more for them when demand is highest, from June through August. Buy them during the springtime with early deals or, even better, wait until autumn and think of the following year, when retailers want to clear their stock at knockdown prices.

Smarter Gambling

While it’s fair to say that online gambling might not be considered the most financially sustainable pastime, it’s a popular pursuit that many of us do still enjoy. Indeed, placing bets and playing casino games via the internet has become so popular that the global online market is expected to generate revenues in excess of $74 billion by 2023 according to marketwatch.com reports, with the online gambling industry growing consistently by around 10% year on year since 2017.

Along with traditional table games such as poker, blackjack and roulette, amongst the most popular are the slots games and they can be promoted in a variety of different ways. While some casinos offer deposit bonus deals, crediting new user accounts with a free cash bonus based upon the first amount they deposit, others offer free spins for their slots, without the need to place an initial deposit after signing up.

Image Source: @gBitcoincasino via via Twitter

Getting something for nothing may seem too good to be true but Oddschecker has compared and listed online casino deals, highlighting those with free spin no deposit offers, how they can be used and how such offers vary from casino to casino. For example, some of the free spins are limited to very small stakes, must be used in one particular slot game, or used by a certain date; although it is possible to play without spending a single cent.

Nevertheless, always read the terms and conditions carefully, so you know exactly what you’re signing up for. Shop around to find the best offer that suits the way you play and for the kind of games you enjoy playing, whether it’s free spins or cash bonus, when opening a new account. Likewise, never deposit more than you can afford and are willing to lose, because while the chance of winning is always enticing, and the games can be great fun, it’s always sensible to set yourself a limit and stick with it.

Digital vs Traditional Purchases

Remember when video games, computer software and movies came in a box? Well, the internet and faster-than-ever connection speeds have forever changed how we consume digital products. Back in the old days, we went to a retailer and got a physical product in a box, something we could hold in our hands, usually with a neatly printed and detailed instruction manual, and perhaps even some other gimmicks such as collectibles or accessories thrown in.

These days, few want DVD cases, software or game boxes cluttering up their homes, aside perhaps from the most ardent collectors. True, doing away with needless packaging removes the environmental footprint left by the plastic and paper waste. However, one would assume that might also mean a reduction in price given there’s no packaging required, though if you’ll forgive the pun, it isn’t always the case.

Image Source: @pcgamer via Twitter

Many movie, game and software prices have actually risen, instead of falling, with online retailers and publishers citing the increased cost of servers to host the library of their products, or bandwidth needed to meet the volume of download demands. The main convenience for the buyer is they can get what they want “on demand” pretty much instantly, downloading their product whenever they want, without the need to leave the comfort of their home and visit a traditional retail store.

Yet, many video games, software and movies can still be purchased at traditional retail stores, in boxes and on disc, cheaper than their digital download equivalent. That would appear to defy all logic but nonetheless, it’s still true for even some of the latest releases. For now, that is, because the future points towards more digital downloads, online streaming, and even software as a service, requiring a subscription rather than a one-off purchase. The option of buying boxed products cheaper is looking like it’ll head the way of the dinosaurs in the next few years, so grab your bargains while you can.

Whether it’s shopping around for physical products, making digital purchases or gambling online, shopping around is just as important as it was when we used to walk down Main Street, peering through store windows at the offers and sales. As ever, keep browsing and don’t plump for the first deal you see, as there could well be a better on just around the corner.

Living sustainably in Seattle

Sustainable living is becoming less of a choice and more of a necessity.

As President Donald Trump dismantles the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and refuses to acknowledge deals such as the Paris Accord, it’s up to private citizens to make meaningful changes to this country’s carbon footprint.

For many, this will seem like spitting in the wind. With the world’s greatest superpower doubling down on fossil fuels, what can a single person do to affect change in the climate?

From a pessimist’s point of view you’d be absolutely right. However, fatalism won’t help the climate.

To show how real change is happening, let’s look at how citizens and companies in Seattle have responded to climate change.

These tips from this thriving tech city may make you look at your carbon footprint in a new light.

Duwamish Valley

The use of natural air filters (plants, bushes and other types of greenery) has had a significant impact on the air in the polluted Duwamish Valley in Seattle.

And they’ve been created by a number of groups, including King County Wastewater Treatment Division, Just Health Action, DIRT Corps, Duwamish Valley Youth Corps and Duwamish River Clean Up Coalition.

Speaking to the Seattle Times, community engagement and outreach manager for the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition Paulina Lopez said, ‘The community needs to be empowered, and needs to be heard, and needs to take action. Having a green wall is a great example of collaboration of work, but also as a showing that concrete action can be taken and that can help improve air quality. This is a way, also, of showing the community that if you speak up, you can make a change.’

Seattle Airport

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has been attempting a number of strategies to reduce air pollution. In doing so, it’s securing the future of a number of companies working alongside it, including Looking4.com, Aqua Terra and Anthony’s Restaurant.

The airport has been making headway on sustainable aviation fuels and has changed other vehicles to their electrical variants (electric cars, vans etcetera). Alongside this, it will become the first US airport to have electrical charging outputs across runways, helping reduce pollution even further.

According to KUOW, the airport aims to get 10 percent of its fuel from locally produced biofuel a decade from now and 50 percent by 2050. Will this be nothing more than a drop in the ocean? Only time will tell.

Amazon

Worldwide consumer site Amazon has been under fire from Seattle employees over its lackadaisical attitude to climate change

In another interview with the Seattle Times, Weston Fribley, a software engineer in Seattle, said, ‘We’re in a position as Amazon employees where we can push for Amazon to be a leader in the climate space. We think that by having a group of co-filers, we’re showing how broadly felt this concern is within Amazon.’

We hope you found these examples useful. Is there anything you’d like to contribute to the debate? Then let us know in the comments below.

How To Finance Your Car Purchase

Whether you are a seasoned car buyer or a first-time car buyer, the process can be daunting. Not only do you have to find a car that works for you with make and model and style, you need to find one you can afford. In most cases, people are financing the purchase of their vehicle. This is because they don’t have the cash on hand to pay for it in full. Financing your car purchase is doable, below we have outlined a few key tips that will help with the process.

Knowledge of Lending

Before going to shop around for either your car or for car loans, it is important to understand what you are doing. Learn about auto loans and get to know all the terms and items that may be thrown at you when meeting to discuss your financing. If you don’t understand it, you may end up signing a contract that isn’t in your favor and you will be locked in for its duration. This could put you in financial trouble.

Credit Score

Your credit score is a key factor when it comes to lending. If you have bad credit history than you may not get the best offers from lenders. This means you may have to pay higher rates for them to take on the risk of giving you a loan. If you have a good credit score than it may be in your favor because you will get a better deal. This means you may be offered more money with lower interest. Either way, it is important to understand where you stand when it comes to your credit score before you shop around.

What is available

Shopping around for a car loan is in your best interest. Check out comparison tools that put different loans side by side and allows you to filter the results to see exactly the type of loan you are looking for. You can also apply online for most loans. This allows you to find the best financing deal. This would mean you are getting the lowest rate and the most favorable terms for your situation. Besides finding loans online or with financial institutions, you can get offers from a car dealership directly. See what the dealership where you want your car says you are qualified for and be sure to pick the best one.

Finalize the Loan

Once you have negotiated a deal that is acceptable to both you and the seller, it’s time to sign the paperwork. Make sure you read between the lines and don’t just sign on the dotted lines. Lenders and Dealerships are known to include things in the fine print like additional fees and penalties. Things like turn in fees or over mileage fees can creep up on you. Don’t let anyone try to weasel their way into making you sign. Politely ask them to go through each page with you so you understand what you are signing and don’t regret it later.

When making such a big purchase as buying a car, it is most likely you will be financing. Be sure to follow the steps above to make the best of the experience and get exactly what you are looking for.

4 Essential Tips When Saving For the Future

It’s no secret that H and I have been working on saving quite a bit lately. Last summer, we spent a lot of cash on our house and neither of us was happy with the amount we had saved at the end of the year. We both recognized this and talked about it, and decided to finish up all of the house projects that we started, and from then on we would slow down the pace of the projects quite a bit. Just that single move alone would save us about $1,000 per month. However, that isn’t all that we’ve been doing to lower expenses.

One of the first things that I did was do a monthly expense audit. We looked at every place where we had a fixed bill every month, and started working on lowering that. I looked at getting a new cell phone and plan, as well as switched our internet provider. Just making these two moves alone, we were able to drop our costs in that area from about 200/month (1,200/year) to less than 75/month! That is a savings of $1,500 in just 12 months, and it took about 30 minutes total of my time! I haven’t even gotten to some of our other expenses, like car insurance. And what will we do with that extra money? Anything we want, whether it’s going out to a nice dinner or spending it as fun money on some Novibet online slots. When we save money, the choice is ours!

Next up, H and I have also been focusing on building our savings account. Though we have more than 1, we have been very focused on building up the money in our emergency fund. Our dedicated emergency fund is a lot lower than we would like it to be, so we’ve been moving all of our extra cash in that direction to we can build it up to at least 3 months expenses. That should happen by sometime in the second quarter of 2014. To focus more on our savings accounts, we’ve been using coupons a lot more when we’ve been going on our date nights. They have probably saved us about 100 bucks through out the time we’ve been doing date nights and saving the valpack coupons (we don’t get the newspaper).

We’ve also been focusing on our habits. I’ve noticed that when we plan to do too many things, we end up spending more money on stuff that we normally wouldn’t spend money on because we feel this huge time crunch. So, we have been very cognizant of what we are scheduling lately, and are not totally trying to run ourselves ragged. Even though we’ve been pretty careful, we still end up doing too much sometimes. For those times, we make sure that we’ve got some healthy snacks already prepared and on hand for us to just grab. This has really saved us quite a bit of money over the last few months, and we’ve been able to bank the rest into our savings.

We’ve also taken a hard look at how much driving that we do and have started riding our bikes more. We are saving quite a bit on gas, though I imagine that will change now that the weather has gotten colder and it wont be all that easy to ride our bikes around in the snow when its cold. Though we will probably start driving a bit more in the coming months, we were able to cut down on quite a bit of usage of gas in the brief fall we had and saved quite a bit of money.

This is what we’ve done over the past few months to save some money.

Readers: What have you done over the past few months to save some money? Have you looked at your monthly bills and checked to see what you can lower or do away with entirely?

Essay about The Importance of Personal Finance

This is a sample essay on the importance of personal finance. Students can use it as an overall guide on how to organize and structure your own essay on the same topic. If you have problems with such writing, turn to an essay writing service for help. In this case, you will get a professional to write the paper for you. This option is of much importance for those who want to see how real experts work on such pieces of writing.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that money is one of the most important aspects of living life. Many people spend the entirety of their lives needing money, training to make more money, or actually making it so they can afford all of life’s many expenses. That said, one cannot deny that the modern days numerous expenses call for personal financing and management for almost everyone, but especially students. It’s no secret that many college students struggle with their finances, and while this scenario can be somewhat attributed to the rising cost of a college education, there have also been many arguments supporting the notion that students simply do not understand the importance of managing their finances. This sample piece discusses the value of personal finance in a student’s life.

The primary reason many students suffer financially throughout their college years is that they are often impulsive, mostly due to being young and relatively inexperienced in living on their own. Most students do not fully understand the true extent of expense when living solo, often leading them to put less value on money for necessity rather than amenities. A lack of inhibition is to be expected to some extent, and there’s not much that can be done about it outside of life experience itself. Personal financing is an excellent alternative, due to its inherent nature of bringing money to the forefront of the student mind. The first step to solving any one problem, in this case, a student’s lack of awareness or experience on an issue, is to make the issue obvious so that it can be studied and accounted for. In this light, personal finance is important to students simply so that they may realize just how vital financial management is when living on your own.

Naturally, personal finance serves a very important functional purpose for students as well. Once the need for personal finance makes itself obvious, that usually equates to budgeting. Budgeting one’s finances is one of the most effective ways of countering the impulsiveness of youth, primarily by not condemning it outright. Being able to spend money on things one does not need but does enjoy shouldn’t be criticized, so long as it is done in moderation and secondary to necessities, which budgeting helps facilitate. By taking the time to partition one’s resources according to their needs, not only does a student learn the details of their living expenses, but they ensure that they can be met. Furthermore, this partitioning of money lets the student know exactly how much they have left over to satisfy their secondary wants following their primary needs. In this way, personal finance, and the budgeting it entails accounts for a student’s needs but does not punish them for also satisfying their wants, within reason. Not only does this lead to greater financial stability for them, but it helps keep them content as well.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, personal finance helps facilitate fiscal responsibility in students that have, for the most part, been able to rely on the financial abilities of their parents throughout most of their lives. There is much to learn about the financial world, especially once you are living on your own. Many students do not know the true value of an investment, saving money on a monthly basis, or the dangers of relying on credit, despite how important it is to build that credit. To call the financial world complicated would be an understatement, which is exactly why personal finance is such a broad term; and why learning its intricacies is valuable for anyone, not just students. In truth, the value of personal finance cannot truly be ascertained since it includes such a broad spectrum of knowledge, skills, and tricks, but that value also cannot be overstated enough. It is a valuable life skill that will serve any individual for as long as they live, but students, who are usually facing the world alone for the first time, can reap more benefits from personal finance than nearly anyone else.

In short, the value of personal finance to students is potentially even more significant than it is for the average member of society. There’s no real specific reason for why other than the simple fact that knowing how to manage your finances in useful no matter who you are or what you do. All other factors notwithstanding, there’s truly no argument to be made against an individual learning as much as they can about personal finance. But for a younger person that has less life experience than others, the benefits of learning and mastering the many facets of personal finance are great. Aside from teaching them more about managing their own money in a way that still allows them to indulge to an extent, they will also learn the value of many different financial tactics and the risks of relying too much on riskier financial alternatives. Going into full detail on the values of personal finance for a student is not possible in this brief discussion, but in reality, it doesn’t need to be. That personal finance is a valuable skill to learn is obvious, regardless of what member of society is in question.

References:

  1. Basu, Sudipto. “Personal Finance for College Students.” One Cent At A Time, 30 Dec. 2017, onecentatatime.com/personal-finance-for-college-students/.
  2. Clark, Sophia. “Why Personal Finance Education Is Important.” TechBullion, 18 Feb. 2018, www.techbullion.com/why-personal-finance-education-is-important/.
  3. https://www.BlueShoreFinancial.com, BlueShore Financial: “Ten Reasons Why Financial Planning Is Important.” Ten Reasons Why Financial Planning Is Important | BlueShore Financial, 2018, www.blueshorefinancial.com/ToolsAdvice/Articles/FinancialPlanning/TenReasonsWhyFinancialPlanningIsImportant/.
  4. Joy, Devin. “Personal Finance for College Students | Lesson Plans and Workbooks.” InCharge Debt Solutions, InCharge Debt Solutions, 2018, www.incharge.org/financial-literacy/resources-for-teachers/college/.
  5. “Personal Finance Lessons: Budget Planning for College Students | SunTrust Resource Center.” SunTrust, 2018, www.suntrust.com/resource-center/personal-finances/article/personal-finance-lessons-budget-planning-for-college-students.
  6. Sherman, Brad. “The Importance of Personal Finance Knowledge.” Sherman Wealth Management | Financial Planning in MD and DC Metro, 1 Nov. 2016, www.shermanwealth.com/the-importance-of-personal-finance-knowledge/.
  7. Zucchi, CFA Kristina. “Why Financial Literacy Is so Important.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 19 Mar. 2018, www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/100615/why-financial-literacy-and-education-so-important.asp.

Beware of These College Savings Plan Pitfalls

When saving for a child’s education there are a few options available. Every family has different needs and a different situation so it is important to research what is best for you given the age of your child, your financial means and needs. A very popular option is the college savings plan which was created for the purpose of education costs savings plans. There are many benefits to this type of plan (i.e.; tax advantages, parental controls) but there are some drawbacks and pitfalls to college savings plans that aren’t always discussed. Here’s a closer look at some of these advantages and disadvantages:

Taxes

Most people are attracted to college savings plans because of their tax benefits. There are definitely tax benefits which include earnings grow on the tax-deferred basis and qualifying educational expenses are tax-free, but it is important that you are careful. If you do withdrawal earnings it is important that they are being used for qualified expenses at a qualified institution. If you don’t do this than the earnings are taxable plus a 10% penalty is applied. This can lead to some hefty bills, so it is imperative that you keep track and are following the rules on qualified expenses for your plan.

There is an application out there that can save you time, and help kickstart your college savings plan. U-Nest.com can take what used to take hours of expensive meetings with financial advisors, and involved faxing, copying, and emailing paperwork, etc – now can be done from your phone in about 5 minutes – and the process is entirely secure and paperless. Download their app to get started today!

Flexibility

College Savings Plans are not very flexible when it comes to changes in your investment. The frequency of changes to your selections are often limited. Sometimes an additional charge may be applied or you may be forced to change plans.

Complexity

Since college savings plans are very beneficial for saving for college, there are many particulars when it comes to certain aspects of the plans that can lead to mistakes. There are often rules about what are eligible expense, rules regarding gifting, rollovers to family, financial aid and tax quirks that are unique to these type of plans. As with the tax benefits, it is important to stay on top of these particulars.

Diversify

You may find that diversifying your educational savings is the way to go. Use the 529 for their benefits, but also use the other instruments to save as well. By spreading your savings around, you’ll give yourself the most financial flexibility for that day when your kid becomes a university freshman.

Consider the items mentioned above to make sure you are making the best decisions about your college and educational savings.