A happy couple lovingly holds their young daughter

6 Budgeting Tips That Yield Financial Freedom for New Parents

Proper management of finances is a pain point for most individuals to the extent that the idea of discussing this subject is not welcome. Unfortunately, those who are not keen on taming their spending habits continue sinking in credit card debts, and financial freedom becomes evasive. Exercising shrewdness in financial matters is not an option especially for new parents who intend to raise their child in the best way possible because parenting comes with new responsibilities.

Here are some budgeting tips that new parents can consider adopting as they adjust to their new lifestyle.

Evaluate and Prepare for A Possible Drop in Income

Understanding the maternal and paternal benefits your employer or state offers is critical for anyone who is set to become a new parent. So, part of the preparations you should make is seeking information on whether there are any benefits you should expect when the newborn arrives. In some cases, some employers have no maternal or paternal benefits for their employees depending on company policies, which suggests that there is no compensation for staff members who take leave from work on such occasions.

Anticipating a possible drop in income can eliminate the shock of becoming a new parent by helping you to budget accordingly in advance.

Proper Management of Expenditures

The joy of welcoming a newborn encourages prospective parents to buy clothes, diapers, wipes, among other supplies they will require after receiving their new bundle of joy. When attending to the basics as first-time parents, you should also consider other unforeseen expenditures that may overstretch your budget.

Some of the additional expenses for new parents include the cost of emergency medical visits, babysitting services, infant daycare expenses, among others. Any strategy that can help you minimize wasteful spending as new parents will go a long way in reducing pressure on your finances.

Research Child Care Options in Advance

Striking a balance between work and taking care of a child is challenging for most new parents and for that reason exploring child care options in advance is a necessity. Several child care facilities may be available within your locality, but that does not imply that each of them is ideal for your child. Identifying the best child care establishment for the best price should be your priority as a new parent, and the only way to achieve this is by researching the options you have in advance.

If you wait longer than necessary, you will most likely settle for a child care facility you may not like and at a higher cost. Enquiring if there is a dependent care savings option from your employer is also a wise idea because it will help you prepare in advance, which can attract some savings.

Avoid Overspending

The temptation to acquire expensive items that are unnecessary in a bid to entertain a baby for long hours and help them sleep better is irresistible for most new parents. Investing in the basics for your child’s development and opting for additional items when the need arises discourages overspending.

Start Saving for College

Most parents desire to give their children the best possible education they can afford, and that may not be a challenge in the early stages. The uphill task is when you have to part with hundreds or thousands of dollars for the sake of financing your child’s college education. If you start saving for college when your child is born, you will eliminate the stress that comes with dealing with budgetary constraints and paying for college when your child is ready to join one.

Experiment Meal Planning

Creating time to bond with your child after work as a new parent is paramount, but you may not have sufficient time or any energy left by the time you arrive home. In most cases, the priority for new mothers after work is to prepare a quick meal for the family to eat before resting for the night. Preparing meals in bulk is a wise idea because you will enjoy more time with your family. There are several inexpensive meal planning resources you can consider if you need help to save on cost and the time you spend preparing food.

If you are burdened with high amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to make your payments, or you’re just not seeing your balances go down, call Timberline Financial today for a FREE financial analysis.  Our team of highly skilled professionals will evaluate your current situation to see if you may qualify for one of our debt relief programs.  You don’t have to struggle with high-interest credit card debt any longer.  Call (855) 250-8329 or get in touch with us by sending a message through our website https://timberlinefinancial.com.

Happy grandparents chase laughing children on the beach

5 Easy Ways to Save Money Towards Your Next Vacation

Thinking about your next vacation, but not sure where the money for it will come from? It is never too early to start saving. Here are five easy ways to set funds aside that you may want to consider.

1. Open a dedicated savings account for your vacation funds

Setting up an additional account may seem like extra work initially, but it is an easy way to start saving for vacation. First, placing money in a separate account from the one you use for everyday or emergency expenses ensures it will be there when you’re ready to start booking. Second, watching your vacation savings grow is a great incentive to keep setting money aside.

If this is something you have already done, you’re already in good shape.

2. Set up an auto draft for a specific amount every week/pay period

After opening a dedicated savings account, another great idea for saving money towards your next vacation is an auto draft. Pick a set amount to send to your vacation savings and how often you want to send it ($25 per week is a great place to start), then set up the auto draft. If you only want it to occur during a specific time period, you can set it up to include that information as well.

After that? Sit back and watch your vacation funds grow without lifting a finger.

3. Use cash-back sites and apps for online shopping

These days, most people do at least some of their shopping online. You can earn some cash back on qualifying purchases through cash-back sites and apps like Ebates and ShopAtHome. Some may have browser extensions to make it even easier. Once you reach the specified minimum amount, you’ll receive a check. Just deposit it into your vacation savings for an extra boost beyond what gets auto drafted every week.

4. Cook at home/Bring your lunch to work

Yes, eating dinner out is easy. Yes, grabbing lunch with your coworkers can be a great break from the stress of the office. The problem is that these easy solutions for resolving your hunger also dig deep into your pocket book. Try cooking dinner at home. Or, if that’s something you already do, start bringing leftovers for lunch the next day. It may not be as much fun in the short term, but the extra bucks you save will get you a few steps closer to the vacation you’ve been dreaming about.

Are you more likely to stop off for coffee in the morning than go out for lunch or dinner? Invest in a coffee maker and brew your own cup before you leave in the morning. You can save more than you thought. Maybe you’ll get lucky and come up with a coffee drink that’s better than what you order now.

5.  Clean out your house and sell what you’re not using

Most of us have things lying around the house that we never use and other people are looking for. Sell them online and earn some extra spending money for your vacation. Apps like OfferUp, Letgo, and Close5 make the process quick and easy. If apps do not appeal, websites like eBay still exist, and even Facebook’s Buy and Sell Markets can be put to good use. With this tip, you will be able to kill two birds with one stone – earning money for your vacation and getting rid of what you’re not using.

For a more complete list of apps you can use to sell things you are willing to part with, check out Well Kept Wallet’s 28 Best Apps to Sell Your Stuff Locally and Online.

If you are burdened with high amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to make your payments, or you’re just not seeing your balances go down, call Timberline Financial today for a FREE financial analysis.  Our team of highly skilled professionals will evaluate your current situation to see if you may qualify for one of our debt relief programs.  You don’t have to struggle with high-interest credit card debt any longer.  Call (855) 250-8329 or get in touch with us by sending a message through our website https://timberlinefinancial.com.

A man tries to move the ticker on his credit score rating

5 Things to Know about FICO’s Newest Credit Score System

Credit scores are traditionally figured using a system by Fair Isaac Corp. Commonly called FICO credit scores. The scores range from 300 to 850. They are figured on a mix of credit use, length of credit, payment history on credit, and debt to income ratio. If any of those are “off”, the credit score is lower.

Of U.S. consumers with credit scores, a record 58.2 percent had a score of 700 or higher on a scale that tops out at 850. The average FICO score is at a record 704. Lenders may have different cutoffs, but Experian considers scores under 670 subprime.

According to FICO, around seven million applicants who have low credit scores as a result of thin borrowing histories would likely see their scores improve under the new system. (Source Fox News)

Some consumers may be cash rich but credit poor. This would be consumers who use cash, checks, or debit cards only for their purchases. This can be wise financial management, but in the eyes of the credit score model currently in use, it would give them a very low credit score.

The Announcement

“The UltraFICO™ Score is the latest innovation from FICO, a pioneer in pursuing new and alternative data to responsibly improve the credit score process and reach more consumers. With the UltraFICO™ Score, consumers are empowered to contribute their checking, savings or money market account data to be leveraged by the score, providing an unprecedented and broader view for lenders to assess credit worthiness”. (Source FICO)

Consumers who have what is considered a subprime credit score or have a lower score than the lender’s cutoff for a loan program can give permission to the lender to have access to their bank savings, checking and money market accounts.

Breaking Down The Benefits

  1. The length of time these accounts have been open will improve your credit score.
  2. If the checking account usually has a balance of a couple hundred dollars that can improve your score.
  3. If you do not have overdrafts in your checking, your score can improve.
  4. Showing savings in a bank savings account or money market can improve your score.
  5. It will increase the speed in which a fair credit score can be ascertained, and the loan approved.

Consumers with a score that falls just under the cutoff score have a chance with this new method of scoring to increase their score. Those that are not scorable because of not using credit cards or installment loans will be able to have a score that fairly assesses their credit worthiness. FICO stresses that this is done only by consumer permission. It may be implemented in a simple way by using a secured application on your smartphone.

Inclusive

  • It will attract those who are underscored or non-scored. Such as those who are self-employed, have a short credit history, cash only buyers, or immigrant entrepreneurs, making them have a longer or better credit history.
  • This new system will give a second chance and better rates to those who have come through a difficult financial time. It can show their credit worthiness to be better than the older late payments that show up on a traditional credit scoring product.

The new credit scoring system called the Ultra FICO will follow the same general blueprint as the traditional FICO. Data from checking and savings accounts have not been included in the old, traditional system. The new system will boost the number of approvals and the speed at which they can be done by the lender. This shortens the waiting time for the applicant, as well as making the lender more efficient.

The Ultra FICO is set to roll out at the early part of 2019. An exact date has not been indicated. To see how this new method of credit scoring increases your score contact the professionals at Timberline Financial.

If you are burdened with high amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to make your payments, or you’re just not seeing your balances go down, call Timberline Financial today for a FREE financial analysis.  Our team of highly skilled professionals will evaluate your current situation to see if you may qualify for one of our debt relief programs.  You don’t have to struggle with high-interest credit card debt any longer.  Call (855) 250-8329 or get in touch with us by sending a message through our website https://timberlinefinancial.com.

Young adults make funny faces into the camera.

If You’re a “Twenty-Something,” Avoid These Money Mistakes!

Your twenties are a time of newfound power. You’re coming into your own as an adult… and you’re ready to take on the world. Read more

A young couple reviews their finances together.

Build Your Personal Budget and Save More

Budgeting and saving your money seems simple, doesn’t it? Then why do so many people find it intimidating? To start with, it is easier and often more fun to spend money without really thinking about it. Read more

A young child happily sits and plays in a pile of fallen leaves

7 Festive and Frugal Fall Time Favorites to Enjoy with Your Little Ones

Fall time is full of pumpkins, cool air, and fun holidays. And when you have little kids, it becomes a time of excitement, wonder, and imagination. Read more

A Yard Sale with clothes spilling out of large buckets

Transform a Yard Sale Habit into a Profitable Side Hustle

Everyone has a few more ‘primitive’ activities we love whether or not they make sense. Eating sugar is one of them, as is gardening, rock climbing, hunting, and most sports.

It doesn’t matter why we want to do them, we just do.

Oddly enough, antiquing, browsing flea markets and hunting for yard sale bargains is another one of these atavisms or primitive urges.

Even though everything we need can be found through the same kind of savvy shopping done online, it’s satisfying to physically comb through the junk and treasures that people can’t be bothered to take pictures of and post on eBay, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t.

The Yard Sale Hobby

If you crave a great yard sale, flea market, or swap meet deal, this is just your many skilled bargain-hunting ancestors rearing their heads and driving you to do things they did for generations.

It’s not unusual to long to comb through old clocks, stopped watches, and potentially priceless jewelry trying to sort the useless knickknacks from the true valuables. When you find something great, beautiful, or useful, you get it for the lowest possible price and feel that something has been one.

While most people with the yard sale hobby struggle to find enough places to put and things to do with their prizes, the modern e-commerce culture gives you the perfect answer.

Put your trained eye to work making money online from your real-world treasure hunting.

Cleaning Up Your Yard Sale Treasures

The first step to turning your yard sale prizes into profits is to clean them up.

Ideally, you want to restore each item to as close as ‘new’ quality as possible while emphasizing the age and personality in each piece.

While you won’t be able to sell them as new, many people look for antiques and unique items through public eCommerce sites like eBay and Gumdrop.

Cleaning Supplies

  • Towel
  • Soft cotton cloth
  • Q-Tips
  • Multi-surface cleaner
  • Oil for polishing

Start by wiping most of the dust or grime away with the towel, possibly with the help of some cleaning solution. Then use a combination of the soft cloth and the q-tips to get the dust out of the corners and small grooves.

If the item is either wood or metal, finish by using the oil to polish it to a bright shine. You may need special procedures for metals that have rusted or tarnished over time.

Take Pictures from All Sides

No matter what your favorite selling platform is, you’ll want clean, clear images from as many angles as possible.

Shoot the item on a white sheet or a set of draped white paper and make sure your illumination lights all visible surfaces clearly and pleasantly before taking a flash-free picture.

Turn the item and repeat the process until you have at least the top, bottom, front, back, left, and right sides.

If you can, remove the background entirely for a professional looking set of item images.

Describe the Item in an Honest and Complimentary Manner

There are two important aspects to your description when selling online. The first is honesty, as you’re building your online seller reputation. You want every buyer to know exactly what they’re getting and to be happy with it.

The second key to a great item description is positivity. Your scavenged treasures exude history, glow with elegance, and add a touch of class to any room.

With an artistic turn of phrase you can tell the complete truth and sell your items hard at the same time.

Sit Back and Wait for Money

Because you’re already doing something you love and have an eye for valuable items, once you list them, your eBay store becomes a source of passive income and a receptacle for all your best treasure finds.

You get to celebrate each yard sale discovery by making a new listing and when the right buyer eventually comes along, you get paid and have the final duty of shipping your treasures to their new appreciative owners.

Yard sales, garage sales, and flea markets are a great place to find hidden and undervalued treasures. If you delight in yard sale archaeology, why not use that eye for value to your own benefit? Fund future ‘digs’ with the proceeds from your finds today or even start building a savings account for longer-term goals.

A young girl sorting change into savings jars

How to Manage Your Savings Without the Temptation to Spend It

Saving up money as a young professional can be challenging. The more of your life is ahead of you, the more things you need to save up for. Read more

Looking down a street seeing pricing overlays for nearby shops

5 Apps To Save You Cold Hard Cash

We could all use a little extra cash on hand, and what better way to do it than through an app that’s right at our fingertips. Read more

A happy couple holding sparklers on their wedding day.

How to Save Money and Still Have a Great Wedding

Getting married is an exciting experience. Unfortunately, if you aren’t careful, it can also be an extremely pricey experience. Luckily, there are several things you can do to have your dream wedding without having to break the bank.

Enlist the Help of Friends and Family

Your friends and family are there to help you. While you should not expect your family and friends to do everything for you, don’t be afraid to ask for their help. If you know someone who is a great photographer, baker, DJ, or who can offer other wedding-related services, you can likely work out a deal to get their services for less, especially if the person gives it to you as part of a wedding gift. Friends or family members, especially those who have gotten married recently, may also be able to suggest wedding vendors who will offer great services for a reasonable price.

While you should be careful about taking on too ambitious of DIY projects, if you do decide to take on a DIY project or two, have your friends help you. DIY projects save you money, and having others help you will save you time and likely make the experience less stressful.

Pick the Right Flowers

One of the best ways to save on your flowers is to pick flowers that are in season. This may mean going with flowers that would not be your first choice or planning your wedding during a specific time of year. You may also be able to save money by mixing a few of the more expensive flowers with less expensive floral options. For example, you could use the more expensive flowers in the bridal bouquet and opt for less expensive options for the bridesmaids’ bouquets, the groom’s and groomsmen’s boutonnières, and the centerpieces. In many cases, the florist may be able to suggest another flower, which may look similar to your top choice, but that will save you significant money in the end.

Choose a Less Popular Date

When it comes to renting a wedding venue, you can often save significant money depending on the day that you get married. You can often save thousands of dollars by opting to get married during the off-peak season. Many venues also have higher rental fees on Saturdays, and in some cases on Fridays and Sundays. If you are looking to save money on the rental cost, ask the venue if there are specific times of the year or days of the week when the rental costs are lower. Pick a wedding date based on this information.

Consider Venue Rental Costs

Avoid falling in love with a venue before you know the rental cost. It’s a good idea to shop around a little and compare prices. Some venues are significantly more than others. If you really want to save money on the venue, you may want to consider free or very low-cost options, such as a friend or family member’s backyard, a public park, or another location that rarely hosts weddings.

Save Money on the Dress

For many couples, the dress takes up a significant portion of the wedding budget. By starting the wedding dress shopping process early, you are more likely to be able to save money. Shop the sale racks at your local bridal stores.

You can also look online for deals. There are several sites that have beautiful wedding dresses for a reduced price. For example, you can get a dress at Brides Against Breast Cancer. Some of the dresses are used while others are new. All come at a reduced cost. A portion of the proceeds goes to cancer charities, allowing you to save money while helping others. Some stores, such as David’s Bridal, also offer online-only Sample Sales, where you can buy a sample dress for hundreds of dollars less than you would pay in the store.

You may also be able to borrow a wedding dress from a friend or family member. While this could save you significant money, you will likely be limited in the alterations you can make, especially if the person wants the dress back.

Of course, these are just a few of the ways that you can save significant money on your wedding. There are plenty of other areas where you can save money on your wedding. For example, this Martha Stewart Weddings article offers tips on saving money on your wedding alcohol, which is often another big wedding expense. Each couple is different. It is important for you to evaluate your own wedding budget as a couple and decide where you are willing to make sacrifices so that you can have a great wedding without spending too much money.

If you are burdened with high amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to make your payments, or you’re just not seeing your balances go down, call Timberline Financial today for a FREE financial analysis.  Our team of highly skilled professionals will evaluate your current situation to see if you may qualify for one of our debt relief programs.  You don’t have to struggle with high-interest credit card debt any longer.  Call (855) 250-8329 or get in touch with us by sending a message through our website.