Expenses You Should be Budgeting for While Living in an Apartment

Expenses You Should be Budgeting for While Living in an Apartment

When you’re living in an apartment, living expenses are at lower lows than they might be if you were living in a larger space. When you’re in this situation, it’s easy to simply pay the basic expenses that you have and then use the rest of your money on fun things. But taking the time to identify a couple other ways to budget your money will save you time and stress in the long-run.

Emergencies

In addition to saving for a future down payment, you should also start building an emergency fund. Setting aside money for potential accidents or unforeseen events that could occur—like having to replace an old laptop or needing to cover medical bills that aren’t covered by insurance—will help you be prepared when tough situations come up.

Even having a few hundred dollars set aside as a college student can make a big difference for you if you find yourself in tight times.

Renters’ Insurance

There are multiple reasons why renters’ insurance is a good idea if you’re living in an apartment. First, just like with any sort of living situation, there are risks that you could encounter by living in your apartment. There could be a flood or a fire that damages some of your possessions. On the other hand, you could be the victim of a robbery that results in the theft of expensive items.

Paying for renters’ insurance each month typically isn’t overwhelmingly expensive, but it can make a big difference in ensuring that you recover at least some of the money in the case of one of these situations.

Down Payment on a House

When you’re living in an apartment, it’s a good time to start setting aside money for a future down payment on a house. Living in an apartment typically means less overall expense especially if you’re living with roommates with whom you can split rent costs and utilities costs.

Taking advantage of this living situation to save money for a down payment will help you be that much more prepared and able to qualify for a loan when it is finally time for you to purchase your own home.

Figuring out how to budget is hard. Figuring out specific additional expenses to account for when you’re living in an apartment can be harder. But it doesn’t have to be if you start small.

Looking to save even more? Check out our resources to help you out!

Financial New Year’s Resolutions Your Family Should Make

Financial New Year’s Resolutions Your Family Should Make

New Year’s resolutions are an important tradition that can inspire you and set the tone for the coming year. By carefully choosing your financial new year’s resolutions you can help your family be more successful and productive and build towards a strong future together.

Save More for Retirement

No matter where your family is on their financial journey, it is never too early to start saving for retirement. The earlier you begin, the more time that money has to grow and accrue interest which will help your retirement be less stressful and more fulfilling when the time comes.

In order to effectively save for your retirement, you should set a reasonable savings goal and start working towards it. Investing carefully can also be a great way to build towards a good retirement and be sure to take advantage of whatever retirement savings plans your work has to offer.

Pay Down Debt

When you pay down your debt you put yourself in a better position financially and free up more of your money for more productive use. Taking care of your debts from your car to your mortgage and credit card debts can help you feel more secure and take off the pressure of constant payments. One exciting benefit of working on your home debt is that making extra payments can help reduce the term of your mortgage. This means you save on interest and can pay off your home sooner. Taking care of your debts is a great goal for the year that can make your life simpler and more fulfilling.

Stick to a Budget

Budgeting doesn’t always seem like the most fun choice but with an effective budget you can make the most of your earnings and work your way towards financial freedom. The most important part of budgeting is coming up with a balance that helps you take care of your needs, save money, and have a little bit of fun. A budget that doesn’t allow for any discretionary spending will be difficult if not impossible to stick to, but a budget with too much fun spending won’t help you in the long run. Finding that balance will help you meet your needs while also feeling satisfied in your life.

Setting financial goals is a great way to start off the new year right. With these goals in mind, you will have a plan in place that can help next year be financially successful.

Read this next for more money-saving tips: How Your Household Can Become Debt-Free

How to Spend Your Holiday Bonus on Something Fun

How to Spend Your Holiday Bonus on Something Fun

When you get a holiday bonus, it can be tempting to spend it on something functional and boring. However, your holiday bonus can be a great opportunity to do something fun with your family. Choosing the right thing to do with your bonus this year can make this holiday season extra special!

Home Improvements

Home improvements may not seem like the most fun way to spend your holiday bonus, but the right changes can make your home a more fun place to do. Try updating your kitchen, living area, or bedrooms, whatever spaces you and your family spend the most time in. Great updates in these rooms can bring added fun to your home for years to come. Choose a few easy projects to work on with your kids and you can all feel involved in the renovation process. Your home is where you spend a lot of your time, so making it a more exciting place to be can make your life so much more fun.

Take a Road Trip

A family road trip can be a great way to spend your holiday bonus and have an exciting adventure with your family. Any road trip can be fun. But getting off the standard highways and checking out scenic roads like Route 66 can make your adventure even more exciting. The historic Route 66 spans over 2,000 miles from Los Angeles to Chicago.

For a great road trip, start with a flexible plan, great snacks, and manageable stretches of driving. Especially when road tripping with kids, having good stopping places and yummy treats can make a huge difference.

Spend Some and Save Some

Finding a way to balance fun now with savings for the future can help you use your bonus effectively while having a good time now and being prepared for the future. Choose something that will be fun for the whole family to do now and choose a savings goal that will be fun for everyone in the future. That will help you make the most out of your bonus while also planning for something great to look forward to.

You deserve to have some fun with your end of year bonus, but it can also help you build a safety net and prepare for the future. Find great balance with your holiday bonus by having fun with your family and making solid choices for your future.

Read this next: How Your Household Can Become Debt-Free

How to Make Your Car Last Longer

How to Make Your Car Last Longer

There’s no way around it—good cars are often expensive. They can’t really be considered an investment, since they only depreciate and you’re very unlikely to make a profit off of them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do things to preserve the value of your car and make it last longer.

Keep It Clean

Keeping your car clean does more than just maintain its appearance. It helps it last longer too. Regularly cleaning your car helps protect it from things that can damage your paint. While that may sound like an appearance-based thing, and it is, your paint is part of what protects your car from rust. Rust can compromise your car’s structure and function. It can be difficult to get rid of once it sets in. Cleaning your car also helps prevent dirt and grit from getting into the machinery and damaging it. For best results, wash your car by hand, making sure to dry it thoroughly when you’re done. A yearly polish can help prevent water damage and prevent spreading rust. Clean the inside as well. Vacuum dirt and crumbs off the seats and carpet, dust with a microfiber cloth, and apply a protective spray to your dashboard to help prevent cracking and sun damage.

Drive Light

Cars weigh a lot. Then you add the weight of yourself, your passengers, and anything you’re hauling with you. It can add up to be quite the load. The heavier the load your car is hauling, the greater the strain on your vehicle. This speeds up the rate of wear and tear on your car’s tires, breaks, and suspension. To help it last longer, drive lightly when you can. Remove items from your car when they aren’t needed. As an added bonus, driving with lighter loads can help you improve your fuel economy, reducing the amount of money you have to spend on gas.

Drive Carefully

How you drive can impact how long your car lasts. If you’re overly aggressive with your accelerations, braking, and steering, you’ll wear your car out more quickly. While you’re at it, try to avoid driving over potholes and damaged roads. They can hurt your car’s suspension and tires. There is an exception to driving gently. It’s a good idea to rev your engine up to the red line on occasion. This helps you avoid carbon deposit buildup in your valves and intake manifold. Make sure you only do this when your oil is warm and when you’re in a place where it’s safe to do so.

Change Your Filters

Your car’s filters play a key role in keeping your car running properly. They help keep particles out of your car’s engine and the rest of its mechanisms. Over time, your filters become dirty and clogged. This can hurt your car’s performance by preventing proper air flow. You can clean and wash your filters to extend their life, but they’ll need to be replaced after a time. If you want to save some money on car maintenance, visit an auto parts store, purchase the right filters for your car, and change them out yourself. You’ll save the cost of labor and only be out the cost of parts and the time you spent to change them.

Rotate the Tires

No matter how carefully you drive, you’re constantly wearing down your tires. Depending on your car’s alignment and the load distribution in your car, you may experience uneven tire wear. If left unattended, this can be dangerous, leading to damaged tires and blowouts. You should have your tires rotated at each service to more evenly distribute wear and help the tires last longer. Make sure you check the tires and tread regularly so you catch damage sooner and can stay on top of replacing them when needed.

Replace Your Spark Plugs

While there are plenty of car maintenance tasks best left to professionals, replacing your spark plugs is another one you can do yourself. This can help preserve your engine’s performance. A spark plug in good condition should have a light brown electrode and insulator with no signs of wear, deposits, or melting. If you do notice signs of damage, change the spark out for a new one. Your owner’s manual should be able to guide you through the process. Alternatively, your mechanic can handle this maintenance task for you easily enough.

Keep Your Fluids Topped Up

Your car needs more than just fuel to run smoothly. Antifreeze, engine oil, transmission fluid, and brake and power steering fluids are some examples of essential fluids you need to keep at appropriate levels for your car to run properly. Topping off your fluids is often a standard part of having your car serviced, but this is another maintenance task you can handle yourself. Each fluid has a physical indicator either on the container or on a dipstick that indicates the appropriate level for that fluid. Especially in the case of topping up your antifreeze, it’s important that you make sure your engine is off and cool before opening your car up to add more. The contents may be somewhat pressurized, so carefully release the pressure before opening it up entirely.

Pay Attention to Warning Lights

Cars come equipped with a variety of warning lights that help alert drivers to significant problems that need prompt attention. Different lights may appear in different colors which indicate the issue’s level of severity. Blue or green lights indicate something needs attention, but not necessarily right away. Red lights, however, warrant fairly immediate attention. If your check engine light is blinking, reduce your speed immediately. It may be best to stop driving altogether just to be safe.

It’s important to do what you can to extend the life of your car. Proper care and maintenance helps protect its value for as long as possible and keep it running longer and better. There’s no denying that cars tend to be one of the more significant purchases people make. Make your car last as long as possible to get the greatest value out of that purchase.

Read this next: How to Make Extra Money on the Side With Your Car

Should Your Family Buy Dental Insurance?

Should Your Family Buy Dental Insurance?

Good oral health is very important because it can prevent serious diseases and infections. However, the costs of regular care can add up and you might need to consider dental insurance. Having dental insurance can help cover the costs, but make sure you review all the factors first.

Consider Your Needs

Before jumping in with two feet, take a moment to think about the needs of your family. One thing to think about is the number of people in your family. If you have a relatively small family, it may be easier to pay out of pocket since you will have fewer people to cover the cost of. Larger families may struggle making out of pocket payments. You can also consider the hygiene of your family. If everyone practices good oral hygiene, you may have less need for dental care and it would be easier to pay out of pocket every once in a while. You should also consider how feasible it would be to pay for more serious needs.  While you might be able to afford regular cleaning out of pocket, it may be harder to cover other unexpected dental work including braces.

What’s Not Covered

It’s also important to know what is and isn’t covered by insurance. This can help you know whether or not it will be worth it for your specific needs. For example, cosmetic dental work such as dentures or veneers are not always covered. Traditional dental veneers can typically cost up to $1,500 per tooth. Certain oral surgeries and other services might not be covered. This includes root canals, crowns, or implants. There are some plans that may provide money towards these services, but it’s still likely that you will be responsible for the majority of the cost.

Different Types of Plans

While considering whether or not to purchase dental insurance, you should be aware that there are different plans and their price and coverage vary. Some plans have certain requirements or limitations. In plans like this, such as a Dental Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), your costs will be lower but you have to see only dentists within the network. Plans such as Dental Indemnity Plans, give you more freedom but at a higher cost. Consider your financial situation as well as your preferences as you review different plan options.

Dental insurance can be very helpful for covering the costs of your dental care. However, dental plans are not one size fits all. Before purchasing a plan, make sure you review your needs and determine what will work best for you and your family.

Read this next: Why Many Families Go Underinsured and Why It’s Risky