Category: Savings

What’s a Good Use for a HELOC?

June 22nd, 2017 by

When you take out a second mortgage, a name for a home equity line of credit, you’re offering your house as collateral to secure another loan. The upside: You can gain access to up to 85% of your home’s value, minus your current mortgage balance and adjusted based on your creditworthiness.

The downside? If you can’t make your payments, you could lose where you live. Because the stakes are high, you want to make sure you use a HELOC for the right reasons. Here are a (more…)

How to Be a Money-Smart Graduate Student

June 13th, 2017 by

Whether you’ll be pursuing a master’s degree in English literature or a Ph.D. in chemical engineering this fall, life as a graduate student likely will require a good deal of thriftiness. But that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to a steady diet of instant noodles and cereal for the foreseeable future.

Here’s a look at several sustainable ways that grad students can maximize their stipends or other income and cut costs in the process.

Find a roommate

Sharing a house or an apartment with others may have taken some getting used to as an undergraduate. By now, though, (more…)

How to Save $1,000 a Year — Without Breaking a Sweat

April 13th, 2017 by

Nonprofit Guidewell Financial Solutions offers 10 tips for saving big on a limited budget.

GuidewellConsumers who have never saved before sometimes worry they won’t be able to make it a habit, especially if they’re living paycheck-to-paycheck.  However, small changes in financial choices and lifestyle can lead to tangible savings rewards. To celebrate Financial Literacy Month, nonprofit Guidewell Financial Solutions (aka Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland and Delaware) shares these tips on how to save a thousand dollars in a single year:

Use direct deposit. This is an effective way to start saving. Here’s how it works – Have paychecks electronically deposited into a checking account.  Before the money goes into checking, have $10 automatically deducted and directly placed in a personal savings account.

Savings = $240/yr or more 

Brown bag it!  Bring lunch from home ($1-3 per meal) instead of dining out at work ($8-15 per meal).

Savings = $1,300/yr or more

Less is more.  Downsizing the family cell phone, cable, or satellite television package is a simple way to put more money in the bank.

Savings = $600/yr or more

Avoid putting the pedal to the metal.  Even in this era of low gas prices, the cost of fuel, oil, tires, and vehicle depreciation averages about 52 cents a mile for consumers who regularly drive to work. To reduce transportation costs, consider carpooling, walking, or biking just two days a month.

Savings =  $288/yr or more

Compare banking options. Paying for checking account services? Shop around and find an account that doesn’t charge monthly fees.

Savings = $120/yr or more

Say “no” to the one armed bandit.  Putting change into the office vending machine is convenient, but it comes at a cost.  Bring snacks and sodas from home instead.

Savings = $100/yr or more 

Stick to in-network ATMS. It’s handy to get cash from on-the-spot ATMs, but the fees really add up. Plan withdrawals so they only take place a ATMs that belong to your bank.

Savings = $100/yr or more

Go local. Rent free books and DVDs from the public library instead of renting or buying them online or at a store.

Savings = $100/yr or more

Do some homework. Comparison shop before purchasing or renewing auto, renters, or homeowners insurance. Also think about increasing the plan deductible.

Savings = $100/yr or more

Practice paycheck power. Employees who get paid bi-weekly receive three paychecks for the month twice a year.  Each time this happens, place the extra paycheck into savings.

Do the math!

Consumers who have never saved before can begin by tracking where their money goes. Before setting up a savings plan, it may also help to get outside budgeting advice and support from a reputable nonprofit agency. Guidewell Financial provides financial counseling and financial coaching in person or by phone. For an appointment or resources, call 1-800-642-2227 or visit the agency website. Small changes made now and carried throughout the year will lead to less stress and greater financial security in 2016.

About Guidewell Financial Solutions

 Guidewell Financial Solutions (also known as Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland and Delaware) is an accredited 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that helps stabilize communities by creating hope and promoting economic self-sufficiency to individuals and families through financial education and counseling.  Maryland License #14-01 / Delaware License #07-01  

Copyright © 2017 Guidewell Financial Solutions.

10 Bad Financial Habits You Need to Break to Get Out of Debt

March 8th, 2016 by

We all have our creature comforts – those habits that, for better or worse, we indulge on a daily basis. However, while a regular morning latte or a new pair of shoes might seem harmless, you’ve got to consider their effect on your bottom line. A dollar here and a dollar there add up over time – and, despite your efforts in other areas, they could be one of many reasons you’re still mired in debt.
Those of us who find ourselves experiencing chronic debt problems often share similar behaviors and financial habits. If you catch them early enough, you can avoid trouble. But even if you’re already in the red, recognizing and adjusting these behaviors can help you get back on track.

Bad Habits of Perpetual Debtors
According to data compiled through the U.S Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve, average household credit card debt in 2014 was a whopping $15,191, with Americans owing more than $854 billion to their credit card providers altogether. It’s a set of consistent habits that sets those prone to debt apart from those who stay in the black. By watching out for the following behaviors, you might be able to stop some of those bad habits in their tracks and reassess the way you think about and approach debt.Debt
1. Impulse Buying
Those who are constantly in debt are often the type to snatch up something whether it’s on sale or not – even if the purchase wasn’t exactly planned. However, impulse buying can lead to a series of dangerous spending behaviors:
• Justifying Unplanned and Poor Purchasing Decisions. By justifying a “need” for an expensive bag or new gadget, you allow yourself to (more…)

What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off a Mortgage?

February 2nd, 2016 by

If you’re like most home buyers (almost 90% in 2013), then you took out a fixed rate 30-year mortgage. There are plenty of reasons to go this route, the most important of which is low monthly payments, but it’s hard to deny that 30 years is a long time.
BlogMany first-time homeowners assume they won’t stay in their home for that long, but for those that do—or who are already halfway there—owning your house outright is the ultimate end goal. There are several ways to pay down your mortgage, but as far as actual speed goes, which method will be fastest for you depends on your individual financial situation. Here are the two strategies that have worked for other homeowners in the past:
Refinance to a shorter term.
Most lenders offer 10- and 15-year mortgages, and not only can refinancing to one from a 30-year help you pay off your home faster, it can also cut down on the total amount of interest you’ll pay. If you haven’t refinanced (more…)

6 Money Strategies for the Sandwich Generation

January 28th, 2016 by

SandwichWhen you’re caught between the financial pressures of parents and children, you have to plan ahead.When caring for your children and parents, it is especially important to hone your budget and routinely assess your financial situation.

The Sandwich Generation – adults who simultaneous care for children and aging parents –Individuals who find themselves in the sandwich generation are forced with contemplating taking care of things today in a way that may negatively impact their future. Family members might cut back on their work hours or sacrifice savings in order to care for aging parents, she adds. The pressure, both financial and emotional, weighs on people.

Those pressures are one reason that 37 percent of Gen X, who are between ages 35 and (more…)

On a Budget? Cut Back with These Frugal Tips

January 26th, 2016 by

Whether you’re a recent college grad out on your own (and paying bills) for the first time, a new homeowner feeling a little house-poor, or a reluctant apartment dweller saving up for a down payment, you can probably agree on one thing: budgets are hard.
But after you’ve stopped eating out and going to see a movie each week, where else can you cut back?

frugal-lifestyleHere are a few pretty simple ways to stay frugal.
Learn what things actually cost. How can you expect to land a good deal if you don’t know what one looks like? Scope out all the grocery stores in your area, so you can compare the prices of staples like milk and eggs. Once you know what your stores carry and how their prices vary, you’ll be able to spot deals like a pro, and the same goes for just about everything.

Stay organized. When your pantry is a mess, keeping track of what you’ve already bought gets tough. To avoid buying food (and other things) you don’t need, have an organizational system in place and know what you have.
Minimize waste. In the US, around 30-40% of the food we produce is thrown (more…)

5 Ways to Help Lower Your DTI

January 21st, 2016 by

Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is one of the three most important factors that lenders look at when deciding whether or not to approve you for a mortgage (the other two? Your FICO score and the loan-to-value ratio, which varies with the price of the house you plan to buy).DTI is considered especially important in determining your ability to repay the mortgage.
It is computed with your total monthly debt payments and gross monthly income (before taxes are taken out). It is expressed one of two ways, either including your estimated monthly mortgage payments (”back end”) or your debt obligations before you take out the mortgage (“front end”).

In 2014, an important new rule promulgated by the Treasury Department had a major impact on DTIs. Known as the QM Rule and designed to toughen ability-to-repay requirements, it had the effect of limiting DTIs to 43 (more…)

Can You Really Save on Small Business Travel?

January 14th, 2016 by

TravelDo you have tips for saving money while traveling for business?


Planning ahead before the trip seems to be a surefire way of saving money and being prepared for the unexpected.
Of course, there will always be business travel horror stories that make a disaster out of even the best laid plans.
Still, here are some money-saving tips for the small business traveler:


Before You Go
Obviously, planning ahead is the best way to save money on your small business trip. This can prevent a lot of headaches and expense if something unforeseen should occur.The small business owner may only travel a couple times a year, so they may not have all the tricks of the seasoned corporate flyer – WiFi hot-spots, battery backups, noise cancelling headphones, better access to get off of standby and (more…)

Celebrate New Year’s Eve With Some Fun Games “Money Lessons” For The Young And Old

December 30th, 2015 by

new-years-ballNew Year’s Trivia:

  • Did you know that the first New Year’s Eve Ball was dropped in 1908?
  • Did you know the the first New Year’s Eve Ball, made of iron and wood and adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs, was 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds?
  • Did you know for Times Square 2000, the millennium celebration at the Crossroads of the World, the New Year’s Eve Ball was completely redesigned by Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting?
  • Did you know that a raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top? (You gotta try this)

To many Americans, the ball dropping at Times Square in New York City signals the start of the New Year in this country. New Year’s Eve is also the perfect time to play some fun games together. Play games that can help teach your kids about counting, earning and saving money. Swap out items in the games for coin/cash amounts and let your grade-schooler unleash their inner mogul, then take a trip to the bank and let them open a Junior Savings account to deposit into one they already have!

Here are some fun ideas of activities to play with your friends and (more…)

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