Taking care of a family can be difficult because there is a lot of pressure to succeed in a certain way. Some challenges are universal; while others influence families differently depending on where they live. In the United States, there are a few common problems families face.
Something that is often underestimated by people who do not have families or by families who are just starting out is the high cost of raising children. As a caretaker, you are held responsible for your child at least during the first eighteen years of their lives. This includes any financial obligations your child has, like medical expenses, food, clothing, and anything else that may come up. Luckily, there are ways that you can save money and get assistance from the government. For example, you can buy your clothes secondhand and use food stamps if you qualify for them. You should also keep in mind that the cost increases with every additional child.
Across the board, the housing market can be a difficult part of adulthood to navigate. With the additional responsibility of trying to find housing that fits your family and is affordable, this can be ever more stressful. However, affordable housing is not impossible to find when you know what you should be looking for. If you live in an expensive area, like a city, you can usually find apartments to live in. Apartments are an affordable housing solution compared to buying your own home. While you might be living in a smaller space, you are often closer to work or school. This allows you to still have somewhere quality to live while saving money by not paying for a whole house.
American culture puts a large emphasis on progress driven results as a form of success. While this is a thought developed to work well in a business atmosphere, it has also translated over to the atmosphere children are raised in. This includes how children are treated in the home, school, and sports. They are taught that everything is a competition, and you are only successful if you come out on top. As a parent, you have to help your child navigate this type of environment and help them understand that winning is not everything.
While raising a family in the United States can come off as a lot of work, it is also one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Once you are aware of the challenges you may face, you will be able to make plans and raise your children in a loving environment.
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Every family should keep emergency savings for any unexpected circumstance. Ideally, you should have at least three months’ worth of expenses saved up for your family. This will keep your family secure and safe during emergencies. Below are some of the common emergencies your family could face and should save for.
Plan for Job Loss
Sometimes, jobs don’t last as long as you hope. This could be because the company isn’t doing well financially or they don’t see you as a valuable asset to their company. Oftentimes, job loss happens when you least expect it. The circumstances surrounding job loss aren’t typically your fault, either.
You should always be trying to build out your network. The connections you make there could help you find a new job. You should also stay in touch with previous connections, whether those people be from past jobs or your college. Additionally, you should try to be aware of what jobs are on the market. That way, you can immediately start searching for a new job if you are to lose yours. You could also find a job that pays more, allowing you new opportunities.
Families often have unexpected expenses, more so than single adults. Children often don’t understand the consequences or you may be more stressed because you have to care for children. For example, you may have a child who is prone to breaking bones. A single adult wouldn’t have to worry about an unexpected expense like that.
Families also typically live in homes, so you’ll have to take care of your home. You may have a roofing emergency that can cause expensive damage to your home. This could be because of a terrible storm and a tree fell on the roof. To prepare for such expenses, make sure you have great insurance that covers property damage.
Death in the Family
No one expects to have a sudden death in the family, but unfortunately it does happen. To add insult to injury, death is actually very expensive, especially when you aren’t prepared. If the person who dies is a main provider, the loss of income can also be staggering and create financial instability to compound the grief. Make sure you have enough in your emergency fund to cover a sudden loss of income for at least a few months. It would also be a good idea to look into life insurance.
Emergency savings can take time to accumulate. However, the benefits of having emergency savings greatly outweighs neglecting them. If you’re unsure how you should save up, get in contact with a financial advisor.
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When everything is extremely overwhelming, like during a global pandemic, it’s common to get overwhelmed, especially with financial matters. With fewer dollars coming in and just as many dollars going out, it’s particularly exhausting. What do you have some control over with your finances? What can you do to help? Are there some expenses you have some influence over?
It is possible to shop around and find better insurance premiums. First of all, it’s important to do all you can to show your insurers that you are dedicated to safe driving. This can include taking a defensive driving course, which can lower your premiums further. It also helps if you have a higher deductible, or a smaller vehicle. However, if you have a more valuable vehicle, it’s important to have comprehensive insurance, so consider your options wisely.
There are some things which can help you to save on your bills. Dirty air filters can cause inefficient cooling, which leads to a bigger electric bill. Make sure your water heater is set to be around 100 degrees F, so it doesn’t overwork and use extra energy keeping your water warm in the winter. Your utility company can come and see if there are any major air leaks or drafts in your house. Check on making sure that you have enough insulation in your attic as well!
Refinance your Mortgage
If you own your own home, mortgage rates are terribly low at the moment. If you plan on staying in your current home for more than another three to five years, and the refinance rates offered are one point or more lower than your current rate, you can save money refinancing. Most lenders will allow you to roll the cost of the refinance into the refinance itself, but it does pay itself off after that time period. Being able to save the extra money is important right now, so every bit counts. A one-point drop can save you a hundred dollars or more monthly.
There are a lot of stresses right now. Please don’t feel overwhelmed if you, like millions of other Americans, need to use public services as well as all the cost cutting options you can find. When in the midst of a major public health crisis, it’s all hands on deck to help one another, and find every way possible to keep moving forward!
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Having children of your own can be one of life’s greatest joys. There is so much happiness to be had in the journey of raising a child, though the road certainly comes with bumps along the way. Even with all the good things about it, people still have plenty of concerns about having kids. One of the more common concerns is how to afford it, and for good reason. Kids are expensive, and there are some major expenses that it helps to plan ahead for before you have them.
You’ve gotten used to your food budget. Maybe you even have it down to a science. But how does it get impacted by a kid? Sure, kids don’t eat very much for the first little while, but you’d be surprised by how quickly that can change and how much they can pack away sometimes. You’ll notice this ramp up especially as they hit growth spurts. Of course, it’s not like your grocery budget has to take over your entire budget. There are things you can do to save on groceries, which will help lower the overall cost of food. Just make sure you have a plan.
Ah, healthcare. Can’t live with it, can’t quite seem to live without it. As an adult, you probably don’t spend all that much time or money on your own healthcare unless you have health problems. You might go in for a yearly physical, but unless something’s wrong, that’s probably about it. Not so with kids. The first year alone will have you in the doctor’s office every few months for vaccines and general check-ups. That all adds up pretty fast, especially without insurance. Then there’s the dental work. Kids often require a lot of dental work, from braces, to teeth cleanings and wisdom teeth removal. This is one expense that you absolutely should have a plan in place for.
Of course, there’s also the cost of childbirth itself. Regardless of what birthing route you go, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny. If you’re going for a routine birth in a hospital, you can expect to shell out something around $7,500. You may find that using a birthing center or an at-home birth with a midwife is less expensive, but that also depends on the situation. Not all options may be covered by your insurance, so if you’re banking on that, you’ll need to know what your policy covers. The good news is that you have at least nine months to come up with a plan for how to pay for it.
Having kids doesn’t come cheap. The cost of food, healthcare, and birthing the child alone can be pretty high, and that doesn’t even touch on things like clothing, toys, and furniture for them. That said, it’s not impossible to afford. Talk to friends and family with children in your area. They likely know of resources and have advice that can make having kids more affordable.
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For those loved ones whose age is wearing on their ability to take care of themselves, adult children want the absolute best resources to provide them with comfortable lives. Of course, thinking of the options available for those relatives may be stressful and even frightening! Here are a few ways you can best weigh your options for your aging relatives and rest assured you made the right choice.
Move Them in With You
Keep them close to you! Moving your relatives in with you allows you to maintain confident control over their care, while enjoying their company. Set up their own space that allows for a bit of independence while allowing a sufficient amount of access to the help they need. Strengthen your relationships with these important family members! Frequent connection is mutually beneficial to you and them, as you learn from their lives and personalities and gain valuable insight into your own ancestry. You may find that these interactions enrich your life substantially.
Choose an Assisted Living Facility
Assisted living facilities can relieve the stress you feel about your loved ones needs being provided for! These homes offer comfortable assisted living in addition to various opportunities for entertainment, growth, learning, self-expression and more. Their physical needs are also attended to; while there, they will be under the watchful care of trained workers who can help them with their medical requirements to keep them healthy and happy. You should make sure your loved one is close to their medical professionals and can work with you and them on this choice.
Consider At-Home Care
Your family members may want to remain in their own homes, enjoying their personal lives and personal freedoms. However, they may still need help with the more difficult tasks of running a home and their own lives—deep cleaning, meal preparation, home maintenance, various medical procedures, shopping, and more. Consider hiring a helper for them! At-home care is an increasingly popular option for seniors that are capable of living on their own with a little bit of help. These caretakers are good company for your loved ones and will make sure that their needs are met.
Make sure these important members of your family that you care so much about, are well cared for! Consider the benefits of each of these options in relation to their needs and wants, and help them establish a lifestyle that they are comfortable with.
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Being a car owner is already expensive—you have to pay for services, insurance, and gas to name a few expenses. And unless you were somehow able to pay for your car in cash, it’s also likely that you’re paying some form of car payment. With such an expensive investment, it’s important that you adopt multiple frugal habits to avoid throwing even more money unnecessarily into your car.
Limit Use to Necessities
Limiting your driving to only necessary distances is one of the best ways to keep it in good repair and to avoid the need for constant repairs and maintenance. Considering oil changes are recommended every 5-7,000 miles, the less you use your car the less maintenance like this is needed. If you live in a city where you can use other modes of transportation like bus or metro, consider switching it up sometimes and taking advantage of public transport. Ultimately, using your car less can help you mitigate risks of accidents and the need to put more money into your car.
Keep Your Insurance Costs Down
Keeping your insurance down on your car will vary depending on each driver, car, and state. There are a variety of ways you can try to keep your insurance prices low including keeping your driving record clean, using various comparative resources to help you find the best insurance match, and doing proactive things like attending defensive driving classes.
All these things can help you find the best rate for your car insurance. But while limiting your car insurance costs is certainly one of the biggest ways to keep your overall vehicle costs low, remember that having a high deductible also shifts significant risk to your shoulders financially in the event of an accident.
Have Your Car Serviced
Having your car serviced and checked regularly is perhaps the most important thing you can do to keep your car working well and avoid large, expensive repairs. When you do get your oil changed, don’t forget to consider other services like changing the air filter, and especially doing an engine flush. Regular maintenance helps your car to run better, and have a reliable engine for much longer than what is originally expected of the car.
Protect Your Car
Efficiently protecting your car requires you to adopt various habits, but one of the most important and relevant things to think about when trying to not lose your car’s value or need large repairs is your paint job. Make sure that your car isn’t being overly exposed to sunlight or the elements including rain and snow. If you don’t have a garage, get a cover for your car. You may also consider something like paint film. Paint film will provide your car protection from debris or hazards on the road.
Use the Right Gas
Putting the right gas into your car is another important habit to adopt as a frugal car owner. First, make sure that you are putting the right gasoline grade into your car. Typically, more high-end cars require higher grades and lower-end cars require the regular grade during fill-ups.
Sometimes, people can get the mistaken idea that putting premium gas into a car that doesn’t require it can somehow be a good thing for the car. In all reality, the grade of gas doesn’t actually correlate with being better or worse for your car. Rather, it correlates with what gas requirements fit the particular needs of your engine. So simply follow what is written on the inside of your gas cap. Doing this will help your engine last longer.
Adopt Defensive Driving
Adopting defensive driving practices will help you be a more frugal driver for a couple different reasons. Mainly, adopting defensive driving practices helps prevent you from getting into more crashes caused by you which also means you’ll avoid huge repair costs and increased insurance bills. You can also avoid the fines and speeding tickets reckless drivers tend to get.
But when you learn to drive defensively and do things like maintaining a good distance between you and the car in front of you, you’ll also be able to avoid things like breaking too hard too fast or swerving, and instead help your brakes last longer.
Be Vigilant About Laws
While being a law-abiding citizen is probably something you want to prioritize all the time, being vigilant about adhering to traffic laws will not only keep you safe, but it will also keep some of your car-related expenses lower.
If you live in a big city, pay particular attention to parking rules. You’d be surprised by how often it only takes one time parking in the wrong zone or parking without paying to receive a ticket. Then, one ticket can be upwards of $100—a tall price to pay for a single violation. Because of this, try to learn all the different laws that you might run up to about things like parking, turning on different stop lights, and other laws in order to ensure you don’t end up receiving a heavy fine.
Navigate Toll Roads Correctly
Finally, one important aspect of your car strategy to help you keep costs down is to figure out the best way to approach toll roads. There are multiple route programs outside of Google Maps that can help you avoid tolls if you are going on a road trip. Toll roads tend to be more of an issue for east coast drivers, however, who cross state borders frequently.
If for example, you live in Newark, New Jersey and cross into New York to go into New York City, it’s important that you invest in something called an EZ Pass. Having this pass—typically one specific for residents in that particular area—will help keep the cost of tolls to be paid lower and help you never forget to pay a toll. Considering that when you forget to pay, you could get the bill in the mail for an amount much higher than the original toll cost, avoiding tolls or paying them on time is best for drivers wanting to be frugal.
To be frugal in this area of your life, make sure that you implement at least some of these strategies for your car. Considering how much normal expenses are for cars, dealing with higher expenses is something to be avoided. Ultimately, remember to be responsible and careful with your car and you will minimize a lot of future charges!
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