According to a recent Gallup poll, 58% of Americans believe that the “ideal age” for a woman to have her first child is 25 or younger. And medical experts generally agree, citing your late teens and early twenties as the age at which you are most likely to conceive a healthy child.
If you’re like me, on the upper end of the 20-something age bracket yet still childless, these statistics might seem a bit alarming. Even more so if you’re still attending college and/or living with your parents.
But before you throw your birth control out the window and start trying to have a baby before it’s “too late,” be sure to consider the following:
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We’re getting close to the end of October, and it’s official – my husband and I already caved and turned on the heat. To be fair though, we’ve had temperatures in the 30s and 40s (as well as the threat of snow) which is somewhat unusual this early in the season.
Of course, the minute I set the temperature on our downstairs thermostat, I started thinking about how we can be more efficient in our heat usage this year.
While heating costs fluctuate depending on the weather and the part of the country in which you live, the US Energy Information Administration predicts that the average American household will spend approximately $679 on natural gas or $909 on electric heat this winter. Meanwhile, those with oil heat will spend over $2,000 heating their homes this winter. (Yikes!)
Want to reduce your heating expenses this winter? Here are a few ideas:
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In her book, Frugal Isn’t Cheap, Clare K. Levison wrote the following about mortgages:
The problem with a 30-year mortgage is that you pay and pay and pay, and never get anywhere. [...] If you haven’t made your purchase yet, only consider homes that you can comfortably make a 15-year mortgage payment on. If you’ve already purchased a home, start reworking your budget so that you can refinance for 15 years. A 30-year mortgage is just a smoke screen to convince people to buy houses they can’t afford and finance them for longer than they should.
This is one of those points that I sort of agree with, but sort of don’t. In theory, yes, shorter terms are always better when it comes to debt. However, my husband and I have a 30-year mortgage on our house and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Before I explain why we chose a 30-year mortgage, let me start by highlighting a few benefits of each option.
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I was recently asked to read and review Frugal Isn’t Cheap: Spend Less, Save More, and Live Better by Clare K. Levison, CPA.
Based on the title, I expected this book to focus primarily on ways in which you can be frugal without being cheap. For example: investing in high-quality clothing that will last significantly longer than a $5 shirt from Walmart, learning to cook quality meals at home, using coupons when dining out, planning purchases around sales or seasonal events, buying a reliable and efficient car, etc.
While the author did discuss several of these ideas, I felt like the book strayed a bit from its original theme after the first few chapters. Beyond that point, it was pretty much your standard beginner’s guide to money management which covered the basics of budgeting, saving, investment, paying off debt, buying your first home, increasing income, etc.
For the most part, the author offered solid financial advice for readers of all ages and financial backgrounds. I especially appreciated her points about valuing your time, carefully weighing your options when making a purchase, and avoiding societal pressure to overspend. The book just wasn’t what I expected.
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Your college debt clock begins once you take out your first student loan. Inflation doesn’t help either because by the time you graduate, your debt will increase. Moreover, your credit won’t be dependable to the banks when they look at your debt. Your responsibility is to monitor and maintain your debt clock based on how much you owe. Treat your debt like a company’s balance sheet. This will allow you to make smarter decisions in reducing your college debt.
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Budgeting is undoubtedly one of the biggest keys to money management. There are many people who get scared at the word ‘budgeting’ as they think that budgeting deals with pinching your pennies. Most people are of the opinion that when one follows a budget, he actually deprives himself from all the luxuries of life.
Budgeting, for most people, is associated with lot of headaches and hassles. What they don’t realize is that budgeting is the best way to save money and allow you to strike a balance between what you earn and what you spend. At the end of the month, if you see that your expenses are way above your income, you would ultimately feel like a loser and soon be overwhelmed with a huge amount of debt.
In fact, the most probable reason behind the large number of debtors in the US is the people who don’t follow a budget. Debt can be dangerous when left unattended and if you’re someone who doesn’t do anything about his debt, you will fall in a bigger mess in the long run. Budgeting can be the secret behind a debt free future and if you’re wondering about the valid reasons behind budgeting, consider the following:
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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I write a lot of posts about food – enough to warrant an entire Recipe section on the navigation bar above.
Putting so much emphasis on food may seem a little odd, considering this isn’t a cooking blog… it’s a budgeting blog. However, I truly believe that the single most important skill any 20-something can have is the ability to cook at home.
Why are basic cooking skills so important? Because food is guaranteed to be one of your largest (and most important) expense categories, and cooking at home is the single best way to save money in that category without sacrificing your health.
For those who never learned to cook as children or teens, learning to do it on your own can feel like a daunting task – especially when everyone else seems to already have their shit together. However, the truth of the matter is that cooking doesn’t have to be overly complicated. You don’t need 20 different ingredients in a recipe and your food doesn’t have to be photogenic. Heck, your food can look like total crap for all I care, as long as it tastes good.
(Seriously, stop letting Pinterest make you feel bad. Half of the photos are fake anyway.)
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The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College recently released a report grading each state’s efforts to teach financial literacy in high school. According to the report, 60% of states received a grade of “C” or below, suggesting that the majority of schools in this country need to do a better job of teaching basic finance skills.
Of course, my first impulse was to see how New York stacks up. I was a bit surprised to see that the state managed to earn a respectable “B,” considering we learned absolutely nothing related to personal finance or economics when I was in high school.
While the report cites a state-mandated high school economics course as the primary reason for New York’s above-average grade, we were able to avoid that class completely by taking AP Government & Politics instead. Additionally, while we were required to take Home & Careers in middle school, the vast majority of our time was spent cooking and sewing – not budgeting or balancing a checkbook. So while New York’s requirements may sound good on paper, in practice, they were sorely lacking.
I’d be interested to find out other 20-somethings’ impressions of this report. Did your school teach financial literacy? If so, to what extent? If not, where and when did you eventually acquire those skills?
With home prices and mortgage interest rates still at historic lows, millennials are constantly being told to hurry up and buy a house before the market recovers. (You can never have too much debt, right?)
While it is still a great time to buy in most parts of the country, buying your first home is a huge decision; one that comes with a number of different risks and responsibilities and must not be taken lightly.
Before deciding to buy your first home, be sure to have a thorough understanding of what you’re looking for and why you’d rather buy than rent. Then be sure to read the following list of 10 common mistakes made by first-time home buyers:
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My husband and I have used Mint.com for several years now… but recently had second thoughts about it.
For those of you who don’t know, Mint offers free online budgeting tools which allow you to set monthly budgets, set long-term and short-term goals, assess your overall financial situation, and learn about ways to save money on regular expenses.
So why did I suddenly decide to delete our account?
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