My husband has always been crazy about cars. So when he wanted to buy a sleek two-door sports car to celebrate a big promotion a few years ago—I gave him the green light. Though it’s somewhat impractical, I have to admit that I fell in love with the car, too.
But now that having kids is on our horizon, we’re on the hunt for a vehicle that’s a bit more car-seat friendly. While skimming websites and visiting local dealerships, we’ve learned what’s important when it comes to purchasing a car for our family—and, unfortunately, that wind-in-my-hair feeling isn’t one of them. Living through that process allows us to make some solid, family-friendly recommendations:
Set a Vehicle Budget From doctor visits to college funds, planning for a baby is expensive. Though looking at flashier cars has been tempting, we decided to stick with vehicles slightly below our budget limit. We never mention our target price until required.
When we do finally talk numbers, we stay focused on the total cost of the vehicle—not the amount of monthly payments. This strategy makes it easier for us to stick to the number we landed on, as opposed to stretching out the loan-payback period so we can buy a more expensive car.
Don’t Fall in Love with a Single Model Try not to let emotions rule such an important investment. By focusing on only one car, no matter how much you love it, you may deter yourself from vehicles that better suit your needs. You could also miss out on alternative vehicles with better ratings, reviews and reliability.
Compare several different models and assess your real wants and needs. (Looking into reviews from Consumer Reports can be a great place to start.) This is also a perfect opportunity to test drive a variety of cars. My husband’s favorite part of buying a car, the test drive is your best chance to see how a vehicle measures up to your expectations and whether it’s a fit for your family.
Think Everyday and Long-term Use Families are always changing, so it’s hard to determine what will be important to you a few years down the road. Still, buying a new car whenever your life changes doesn’t make a lot of financial sense. Before deciding on a car, think about the changes you expect your family to go through during the car’s lifespan.
Your daily routine is important, too. If that includes dropping children off at day care or sitting in traffic as you head to the office, good fuel economy and city maneuverability may matter more than having a surplus of storage space.
Make Car Safety a Priority With the precious cargo we plan to add to our lives, safety is our number-one priority. Car safety features have evolved through the years, so if you’re juggling work and family, consider vehicles with special safety features like voice command or hands-free calling. You may also want to think about high-tech models that have rearview cameras, blind spot monitoring and antilock breaks. As a bonus, some safety features could save you money on car insurance.
Just because you’re starting a family doesn’t mean you have to settle for a mom-mobile. With a little research and careful planning, you can find a vehicle that’s both practical for your family and perfect for you.
From: LifeHealth Pro
MAR 15, 2017 | BY CLAIRE SERANT
American workers ages 35 to 54, better known as Generation X, particularly single working parents, are more concerned about sluggish finances and expenses related to emotional and physical health than saving for retirement, according to fresh research from Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.
These findings are part of the Fourth Annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study. The 12-page report entitled “Mind, Body and Wallet” was released earlier this year. It evaluated the “financial, physical and emotional wellness” of 1,439 employees nationwide who worked for companies with at least five employees. About 277 responses were from part-time permanent workers, contract and non-permanent workers.
At least 1,204 employee benefit decision makers survey were from diverse industries. The report included input from business executives, human resources and financial management professionals. The survey was conducted in spring 2016.
“Working Americans face financial difficulties, which can be stressful and makes it hard to focus on their overall well-being,” said Dave Mahder, vice president and chief marketing officer of Guardian’s Group and Worksite Markets business in a press release statement.
Unlike their baby boomer parents, research indicates Gen Xers and single heads of households are more worried about paying for today than saving for tomorrow. What could help? More employers offering such substantive benefits as college tuition reimbursement, discounted gym memberships, flex-time, telecommuting options and an array of retirement savings options.
Gen Xers comprise roughly 30 percent of all American workers.
Single parents, identified as both Gen Xers and millennials, are the most cash-strapped segment of the population. The people are often emotionally and physically drained. At least 1 out of 10 American workers describe themselves as single parents. Nearly half of those parents are millennials who earn less than $75,000 annually, according to Guardian.
American workers, the report said, are still struggling with the aftermath of the 2008 economic downturn. About 40 percent of Guardian’s survey participants blamed “stagnant wages along with the economic downturn” for their current financial woes. The Great Recession led to cost-cutting in all industries and suppressed wages and employee benefit programs across the board.
“While some have recovered financially since then, most [Gen Xers and millennials] are in the prime of the expensive family raising/child education years,” said Gene Lanzoni, Guardian’s assistant vice president for Group & Worksite Marketing – Thought Leadership.
The uneasy financial situation that Gen Xers and millennials currently face is vastly different from the security and peace of mind their baby boomer parents experienced at the same point of their lives.
But there is hope.
The survey suggests that best options now for Americans with no retirement savings are: “Contributing to a retirement plan (and making higher contributions, if possible) either through their employer’s 401(k) or into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or buying an individual annuity.”
Based on the Fourth Annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study, here is a look at the top six financial stressors that are preventing Americans workers from saving and planning for retirement.
American workers, the report said, are still struggling with the aftermath of the 2008 economic downturn.
No. 6: Trouble making ends meet Only three in five Gen X workers and single working parents believe they are keeping up with basic bills and expenses.
No. 5: Stagnant income Compared to two years ago, 2016 survey respondents do not believe they are making significant progress toward their financial goals. They insist they are worse off financially than in 2014.
No. 4: Debt High rates of non-mortgage debt, especially auto and education loans, has contributed to Gen Xers and single working parents financial insecurities.
At least 3 in 4 working Americans carry some form of debt:
No. 3: Coverage gaps Few working Americans now have disability insurance. What's more, at least 3 in 5 workers admitted they did not have six months of savings in the event of illness, injury or the inability to work.
And despite having life insurance coverage paid by their employers, that amount is “not enough to adequately protect families” from financial harm, the survey said:
No. 2: Lackluster benefits Only 22 percent of American workers surveyed have access to college savings or tuition benefits through their employer.
No 1: Lack of life insurance Nearly 1 in 4 working Americans (24%) said they had no life insurance. The majority of workers who did have life insurance (57%) rely heavily on their workplace coverage.
If you’re like many people, that old photo album tucked away in your closet (or in your attic, basement, etc.) is one of your most valuable possessions. In fact, Allstate’s “It’s Not Just Stuff” survey found that more than half of Americans said keepsakes like videos and photos related to family history are “very important” to them. Nearly two-thirds of respondents plan to pass down keepsakes to future generations, a process that may benefit from some form of storage and preservation, also called digital preservation.
Get to Know Home Insurance Like a Pro Protect what matters most with homeowners insurance.
Digital preservation, or personal archiving, is becoming more and more popular, says Russell Martin, a librarian with the District of Columbia Public Library. Creating a personal archive can take a fair amount of work, especially when items range from old film footage to Facebook photos, but he has some tips to help guide you.
At the Memory Lab, a free resource at the D.C. Public Library, Martin helps community members navigate a broad range of software and equipment to create their own archives. Similar services are available at libraries around the country. In addition, you can find tips and tools online: The American Library Association’s Preservation Resources is a good place to start. He says the same basic process can apply to almost anyone creating a digital archive at home:
1. Make a List A personal archive might consist of a single thumb drive or an entire cabinet full of audio-visual equipment. Start your process with a list of items intended for preservation, including the location and type of content. Weed out anything not worth keeping or gifting to others.
“When your files are in a lot of different places, the list helps you save time,” Martin says.
2. Organize Your Files Transfer or download files from DVDs, smartphones and social media sites to a common location. Martin suggests storing them on thumb drives or external hard drives, each with a corresponding label or package reflecting the contents.
Whether you have video files or audio files, the Library of Congress recommends that you:
3. Use an Appropriate Storage Format While thumb drives are practical for passing a few files along to relatives, external hard drives typically contain more storage space, Martin says. Avoid storing files on CDs, DVDs and other formats that may rely on a soon-to-be-obsolete technology, he suggests.
4. Scan Photos and Paper Items Scan physical photos or paper documents you want to keep. Scanners are available in local libraries, Martin says, although you may want to consider purchasing one for higher-quality copies, and on-demand availability.
5. Convert Other Formats to Digital If you have memories stored in older formats, like VHS, you may need special tools to help convert them into digital formats. For instance, a digital converter can connect your VCR to your computer to transfer VHS tapes into digital video files. Many digital video cameras have similar capabilities.
The Library of Congress provides helpful online instructions for converting tapes, DVDs and videos that are still on cameras. For in-person assistance, you may want to visit a professional camera retailer or a store with personal technology services.
6. Keep Your Files in Separate Locations For extra security, you may want to make at least two copies of each item and store them in different locations, the Library of Congress recommends. Once your digital archive is completed, regular upkeep can help ensure that it’s to use. The Library of Congress suggests checking saved video files at least once a year and creating new media copies periodically to help prevent a data loss.
Finally, keep the originals. They may just turn out to be the longest-lasting format after all, Martin says.
2. Reduce Your Tax Burden Using an IRA Contribution Traditional IRA contributions of up to $5,500 (or $6,500 if you’re older than 50) may be tax deductible, depending on your income and other factors, according to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). Even if you didn’t contribute during the 2013 calendar year, there’s still time. Take advantage of this opportunity to grow your retirement savings and potentially reduce your tax burden by making a last-minute IRA contribution prior to April 15, the AICPA says.
3. Important Tax Code Changes to Know Recent additions to the tax code affect many Americans. According to the AICPA, some of these changes include:
5. File an Extension If you absolutely cannot file your taxes by April 15, it’s critical that you file an extension by that date in order to avoid incurring possible penalties and fees. An automatic six-month extension is available via Free File or tax form 4868. Remember, however, that interest or penalties may continue accruing on any taxes owed, so get to work on that payment plan ASAP to minimize the expense.
Please note that Allstate Life Insurance Company or its agents and representatives cannot give legal or tax advice. The brief discussion of taxes on this page may not be complete or current. The laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. For complete details consult your attorney or tax advisor.
The Richard Rose Agency will frequently provide helpful tips and information that can save you money, keep you safe and improve your life.