We are at that time of year again where the kids will be heading off to Halloween parties, trick or treating or just wanting to dress up as a scary witch or monster. It is easy to go for the simple witch or wizard costume from the supermarket, or even just throw a sheet over your little one and call them a ghost. If you would like to surprise your little monster with something a little more creative and imaginative, why not try something a little different. If you want to use this opportunity to help a charity, check out some of the events that have been organised specifically for Halloween like this one.
Think outside the box
Halloween is not just about dressing up as a ghoul or ghost and roaming the streets looking for some tasty treats, it is about having fun, being creative together and enjoying the holiday theme. Try picking characters from a film or TV show that the kids really like. You don’t have to stop at the costume, you could theme your decorations and even your party games around the chosen theme. This would make a very fun and enjoyable treat for the kids.
Don’t just buy, use creativity to prepare your Halloween costumes!
Part of the fun of this season is being creative. Look for things around the home that you can use to create your costumes. Get the kids involved in this process and allow them to put their own stamp on their costumes. The whole experience will become much more valuable and enjoyable for them. If you are looking for some inspiration for some simple to create costumes, check out this blog post. As you can see from this post, there are many things you can do to make your costumes a little different this year.
Make your games fun and keep them inside the theme
If you have sorted your costumes out and are planning the events for the evening, you will want some Halloween party ideas to spice things up. There are hundreds of games and things to do such as ‘apple bobbing’, ‘pin the tail on the pumpkin’ and ‘hide and screech’. There are many books and articles to read on the subject which could well give you the inspiration you need to make your party go out for with a scream. If you want some great references, take a look at this blog post for some great ideas. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the day!
Everyone seems to have a cell phone today, and if you don’t, others seem to feel there is something lacking in you. The truth is that some people don’t have a cell phone due to things like not so perfect credit, or not enough money to pay for a monthly contract. Believe it or not, there is a way you can still have a cell phone that is affordable.
While not quite as fancy as some of the contract cell phones, the pre-paid, or pay as you go, type of cell phone will still offer you the same advantages of owning a cell phone. These are quite affordable as the phone itself usually sells for around $10. Some of these even come with specials that give you free $10 of talk minutes once you have purchased minutes for the phone. You are in charge of how much these types of phones end up costing you. But if you manage your minutes wisely, you will be able to keep down the cost of owning your very own cell phone.
Pre-paid cell phones are also a great idea for teenagers. As a parent, you can control the amount of time and money spent with these phones. However, your teenagers can enjoy being just like all their friends who have cell phones. They will have their own phone number to give out when asked, and get to feel as important and special as the rest of their friends. It’s also impossible for these phones to run up high bills. The pre-pay option works out well to keep costs manageable. When your teenager is old enough to start making money at a job of some sort, the cost of the minutes can then be passed on to him or her.
Even if you have a land line that you use to conduct 90 percent of your phone business, one of these cell phones can still come in handy. You can’t take the landline with you when you leave home, but you CAN take along a pre-paid cell phone in case of emergencies. All you need to do is make sure that you have some minutes on the phone, and you’re all set.
These cell phones can also work well for older children, who are not yet teenagers, but may be able to use a phone. You will need to monitor this pretty carefully, but they can come in quite handy if the child needs to get in touch with you while they are away at a friend’s. It’s a very small amount of money to spend per month for peace of mind.
Entertainment is a very important part of the lives of most people. It’s something that you do to relax, de-stress, or simply to have fun. However, it is this entertainment that tends to be a budget breaker. Movies cost an arm and a leg to buy admission, and that’s just to get in the door. Add popcorn and drinks, and you have spent enough to pay for dinner in a nice restaurant. Concerts are fun but those are also very expensive. What’s a person with little money to do for fun?
Surprisingly enough, your public library could very well be the answer. This is especially true if you happen to live in a large city because these libraries are a wonderland unto themselves. There is rarely a fee to get a library card, but even if there is, it is an amount that you can easily afford. Libraries are not just about books. They have branched out into offering all sorts of ways to enjoy yourself, and they are all free.
Obviously, libraries have books, and lots of them. For a reader, the library can be one of the most amazing places on the planet. Reading for pleasure is one of the best past times you can indulge in. There is nothing better than getting lost in a great book and you will most likely find so many books you will love in the library that you can’t imagine having time to read them all.
Everyone enjoys a good movie. Libraries have lending programs just for the many DVDs they have on hand. These usually have a shorter check out time than books, but they are reasonable, and will give you plenty of time to enjoy a new movie, or an old favorite. You can pick up some inexpensive soda and microwave popcorn, and enjoy a movie night at a fraction of the price of going to the theater.
The library also has music. Popular CDs, as well as older cassette favorites, are usually many and of varied tastes. The check out time on these is normally about the same as books. This is a great way to find out if a CD you think you want to buy for your personal collection is actually worth the money. It’s also nice to just get to enjoy new music without having to pay a lot of money to do so.
The next time you are bored and broke, take a trip to the library. You may be amazed at all the entertainment you will find there. And the best part is that it’s all free!
One of the big budget killers is the almost undeniable urge to eat at a restaurant rather than at home. It’s something that everyone just HAS to do once in awhile, which is fine if you can afford it. The problem comes in when you and your family dine out knowing that you cannot afford to do it. There is a compromise that can keep you from spending needed money, yet enjoy the “feeling” of dining out.
A lot of people like dining out due to the change of scenery, as well as being able to relax and let someone else do the cooking, serving and cleaning up. While you may still need to cook, serve and clean, you can still have the atmosphere of dining out and never have to leave your home. Plan one night each week for a “theme” meal. Take turns among the family members in choosing what the theme will be for the week. Make the menu planning a family affair, as well. Incorporate the food items needed into the weekly grocery shopping trip.
On the evening of the special meal, do some simple things to set the scene. For example, if pizza or spaghetti was chosen, use an inexpensive red and white checkered table cloth for the table, and either light a couple of candles or use small battery operated lanterns. If you have some music that is fitting for this Italian meal, play it on low in the background. Just like that, you will have the appearance of a small, cozy Italian restaurant. For extra fun, serve grape juice from a wine bottle. You will have the feeling of dining out without spending a lot of money.
This can be done with any type of food just by adjusting the setting. To make it fair, encourage the rest of the family to help with the cooking and cleaning up afterwards. As for serving, everyone can simply fill their own plates. When done this way, all the work is not put on one person and it is fun for everyone. Before long, this can become something that the entire family will look forward to even more than going out to a restaurant to eat an expensive meal.
If you want to make it even more of a money saving venture, calculate how much this meal would have cost you in a restaurant. Then subtract from that the amount spent on the special at home dinner. Take that amount and stash it in a safe place to start a fund for something special. You will be amazed at how quickly it will add up.
Insurance is a great thing to have when the unexpected happens. Some types of insurance are not only necessary, but required as well. Liability auto insurance would fall into that category. There are certain types of insurance required by landlords if you are a renter. Homeowners are smart to get a certain amount of insurance to protect their property and home contents in the event of a disaster of some sort. There IS such a thing as having too much insurance, however.
The type of insurance that usually falls into the category of “nice to have but not really needed” is life insurance. Yes, life insurance is wonderful to have so that your loved ones are taken care of should something happen to you unexpectedly, but do you really need as much as certain insurance agents will talk you into buying? Probably not. People usually start with a basic type of life insurance that will cover certain things in the event of their passing. There is usually enough insurance in this policy to cover funeral expenses along with enough money left over to take care of other things. If you keep adding on to this policy, you will find your monthly premiums almost as much as your salary.
Homeowners and renters insurance can also be over purchased. As a renter, you will want to make sure that all of your possessions are covered in the event of fire or flood damage. However, there is really no reason to carry more than the minimum. As long as you are careful with your things and the way you conduct yourself in your environment, you maintain a certain amount of control over whether or not your things are harmed. Homeowners may want to purchase a bit more to insure not only their property but their possessions as well. This is usually a wise move, but still does not need to be over done.
Unless you have a brand new car, you are usually able to get by with liability insurance. This protects you if you are involved in an accident and is required in many states before you are allowed to even drive your car off the lot. New cars require physical damage by the lender to cover their interest but if your car is an older one or is used, it’s possible that you can avoid this premium altogether.
The simple way to avoid paying too much for insurance is by doing your own research. Once you have talked to your insurance agent and received recommendations for what you need, have a look and see if you REALLY need all of it. Chances are you will be adequately covered at a fraction of the cost your agent suggests you pay.
Entertainment is most likely not at the top of your priority list when you are low on funds. It can be very depressing when you work so hard for your money, and yet, you never get to really enjoy any of it. Take heart, though, because there are a few things in the way of having fun that can be made to fit into your budget.
Nearly everyone enjoys a good movie. That is evident by the number of people who continue flocking to the theaters when a new movie is released. It is also a well known fact that going to a movie these days can cost nearly as much as a dinner in a 4 start restaurant. It may cheer you up a bit to know that there are cheaper alternatives.
One such alternative is the introduction of renting movie DVDs online in recent years. Both Netflix and Blockbuster have membership programs that you can join online. For a reasonable and affordable monthly fee, you can choose movies from the comfort of your home and they will be mailed right to your door. There is no time limit on how long you can keep the movies, so there is no late fee ever. Using either of these services makes it possible to have affordable entertainment that you can actually budget each month.
There is another version of this type of online service. It works the same way but you are borrowing, or renting, video games instead of DVD movies. The same rules apply. You pay a monthly fee for the plan of your choice, and begin choosing the games you want to play.
If you are an avid reader with a less than exciting local library, there are some online book sites you may be interested in joining. Booksfree offers a variety of plans for which you pay a monthly fee. Each plan gives you different amounts of books you can have borrowed at once. These are all paperback books, and there is an amazing selection to choose from. They also offer audio books to borrow.
Paperbackswap is another book site. With this one, you do have to register but there is no monthly fee. You are simply required to list some books you own but are ready to part with. When someone chooses a book from your list, you are responsible for mailing it to that member. When the member receives the book, you get a credit for a free book of your own. It’s a wonderful little system that offers many hours of happy reading for the price of mailing a book once in awhile.
You should be feeling a little better now that you know what’s available for people on a budget. Just because you aren’t rich doesn’t mean that you can’t have some pleasure and entertainment in your life.
When you think about credit cards and teenagers, most likely your heart starts to beat a bit faster just from the very idea of putting these two together. Teenagers have all kinds of things to spend money on. They all need things such as music CDs, clothes, shoes, DVDs, video games, and junk food. It’s scary to think of just how much trouble a teenager with a credit card could get into. You might be relieved to know that there are actually prepaid credit cards made just for teenagers.
Should you decide to get a credit like this for your teenager, it is good to keep in mind that this might actually be a good thing to do. Having the responsibility of a credit card can teach a lot about how to manage money. A regular credit card would be too tempting for most teenagers to handle, but a pre-paid credit card can be a very positive experience.
There are several programs that offer these pre-paid credit cards to teenagers. The best way to make an informed decision is by gathering information on each program. Then you can select the one you feel works best for you and your teenager.
One such program is offered by First Bank & Trust of Brookings, SD. Teenagers and high school students are eligible for their Allow Prepaid Mastercard. The activation fee is $19.95 along with a reload fee of $2.50 per $100, and a $3.50 monthly maintenance fee. There is a parental control option to monitor your teenager’s spending.
For teenagers 13 years and older, there is the US Bank Visa Buxx Card. Designed with teenagers in mind, this is a prepaid credit card that requires an enrollment fee of $10 to $15 and a $2.50 reload fee. While there is not a monthly maintenance fee, there is a $2 fee for any inactive account which will be applied monthly if necessary.
These are just examples of prepaid credit cards that are available for teenagers. If you decide to get one for your teen, you will want to explore more options. Checking with your own bank may be the simplest route to take. They may have something to offer your teenager in the way of a pre-paid credit card. Whatever card you decide to get for your teenager, make sure you utilize the parental monitoring of their spending. Your teenager will not learn the best money management skills if they are going on spending sprees.
Timeshares is a plan that popped up many years ago to enable people to vacation for more affordable rates, as well as a variety of other reasons. When the idea was first put into practice, it was quite popular. The premise of a timeshare is that several individuals or families make a monthly payment that grants them the use of the condo, home, or apartment for at least one week during the year. The weeks had to be coordinated so that each co-owner had a fair amount of time to spend at the timeshare. Most people used this as a way to plan a vacation each year.
As people gradually began to discover how limiting these timeshares could be for all the money they were paying during the year, they became a bit less popular. However, many of the co-owners found a way to make it worth the money. By putting some plans into motion, they found that timeshares were actually a good thing for them.
If you take part in a timeshare, the first thing you will have done is book the week that you want to use it. This has good points and bad points. While you have the advantage of knowing when your vacation is each year, there is no room for changing the dates. You are pretty much locked into that week. However, you also know that you will not be spending extra money to stay there for the week. You are already used to making the monthly payment, so this doesn’t dent your budget.
Plan your food shopping ahead of time right down to making daily menus. In this way, you will not be wasting any food, or put in the position of either leaving it for the next family or taking it home with you. While you will probably want to dine out a few times, it isn’t something that has to be done every day. Take along a good supply of bottled water, soda, tea and coffee. These items tend to cost more in tourist areas.
One way you can make extra money from your timeshare is by renting it out for your week. Many people co –own more than one timeshare for just that purpose. While they are vacationing in one of their timeshares, they can be renting out the other ones. This pays for their vacation, and allows them extra money to spend or save for other things. Some timeshares don’t allow this, though, so you should check ahead of time to see what the policy on this is.
Timeshares may not be as popular as they used to be, but many people still find them to be money saving investments. This is because they have learned how to make the most of them. There is no reason that you can’t do this as well.
It’s only a few more weeks before the commercials and advertisements about holiday gifts will begin. Many of you dread this time of year for the simple reason that there is never enough money to get loved ones “nice” things. The thing you have to remember is that just because the television and newspapers say there are only certain things that are “nice enough,” that is not necessarily true.
First of all, the world is so inundated with all the newest in electronic toys and gizmos, that it has forgotten just what the true spirit of the holiday season is all about. People have not always had lots of money to spend on gifts, just as the world has not always had the shiny new things it has today. It IS possible to have a perfectly wonderful holiday by going back to basics.
Of course, if you have children, they may expect the newest in video or computer games. This is possible if you begin planning many months ahead of time for the gift you will buy for them. Putting back a small amount of money each week or month may just provide enough money to buy that one special present by the end of the year. It takes some strict budgeting and discipline, but it CAN be done.
Use any talents or abilities to create gifts that come from the heart. Everyone seems to have become so competitive about who can spend the most money on the coolest presents. Don’t let yourself get caught up in that. Instead, break out the crochet hook, or sewing machine. Some of the most beautiful gifts cost only the money for supplies, and your time. If you happen to excel in baking, keep in mind that this is the time of year that people love baked goodies.
You can also give the gift of your time. Create some appropriate “coupons” to provide anything from baby sitting services, to house cleaning, to cooking some meals. These are especially appreciated by older people who may not be able to get around as much as they need to. You can offer chauffer services, or shopping for them. These mean so much when presented to the right people, and they don’t cost you anything but some of your time, and possibly some gas in your car.
Decorating can also be done from home made items. This is something the entire family can become a part of. Things such as popcorn strings for the tree, and hand made ornaments will not only save money, but provide for family togetherness, which is after all, the true spirit of the holidays.
You may be one of the many people who choose to start a small business each year. You might just want to be able to work from home, be more available to your family, or just be able to get away from a boss peering over your shoulder everyday. Whatever your reason is, you most likely need some money to get you started.
If your business idea is small enough, it is possible to get it off the ground without having to get a loan. This is a much better, and easier, route to go in the long run. Funding your own business without a loan rids you of the need to pay this money back when your business gets off the ground. You will most likely agree that it’s much nicer when you get to actually KEEP your profit.
A lot of small businesses can be started by simply saving the money you need for supplies. For example, if you are interested in beginning a gift basket business, the first thing you are going to need is baskets, and lots of them. You can find these in many places, but if you happen to live near a basket factory, you can buy a lot of them for a bulk price. As these will be an ongoing need for your business, it is impossible to buy too many of them. Decide what sort of baskets you will specialize in, and buy enough supplies to make a reasonable number of those baskets. Use your printer to make flyers for advertising in shops and anywhere else that allows flyers to be posted. At first, you can simply use your existing telephone for business calls, so you don’t have to pay for a second line. Take the money you start receiving for the baskets you sell and reinvest into the business. Branch out and start making custom baskets.
While that is only one example of how this can be done, there are many other small businesses that do not require a loan to start. If you are more eager to get your business up and running, it is possible to take on a partner, or an investor. Either of these options should be entered into only with people who share your dream or vision, or it will simply not work because your business will never be truly yours.
Think seriously about what you want to accomplish with your business and go from there. Plan for your venture and make a list of everything you need in order to begin it. It might just be easier than you think to keep banks out of the picture.
If you are faced with the dismal prospect of losing your home, you will want to take any action necessary to keep yourself from becoming homeless. To fight a foreclosure, it is vital to understand how the process works. As the process of foreclosure varies from state to state, homeowners need to be aware of not only how the process works, but also the timeline involved. When you are more familiar with the process, you can make a better decision on how to stop your foreclosure.
The first time you miss a mortgage payment by just a day, the foreclosure timeline begins, although no penalties are incurred. You will be given 16 – 30 days to make your payment. A late charge is added at this time, and you will most likely receive a phone call from the lender inquiring as to why the payment is late.
After 16 days, you will have a late fee added to your payment. If you have still not made the payment after 30 days, you will be considered in default. This means that you are really late on this payment now, and if you don’t pay it soon, the lender is going to take your home away from you. Depending on your lender, you will either be allowed to make the late payment in installments or you will be ordered to make the payment in full immediately. In certain states, once you are 60 days late, a filing of Notice of Default will be made. However, between 45 to 60 days, you will receive a “breach” letter which explains the terms of the mortgage in writing. This also gives you 30 days to resolve it. You can expect to hear from your lender daily during this time. You may be offered some payment options. If you are, you should take them.
Days 60 to 90 will bring you a notice of default. There will also be collection fees added to the already existing late fees. The loan will be handed over to the lender’s legal department, where documents will be sent to a local attorney to begin foreclosure. If things are still not resolved by 150 to 415 days, there will be a Notice of Trustee Sale filed. This means your home will be scheduled to be sold.
A foreclosure is a legal process and guidelines are set that must be met. After the case is turned over to the local attorney, there must be a public notice of the foreclosure placed in the local papers. As the homeowner, you have every right to try to stop this process. If you haven’t done so prior to this, now is definitely the time to seek the advice of your own attorney.
In the last part of the process, some states have laws that allow you the chance to buy your property if you can. By this time, though, you will most likely have been made to vacate your home by the local sheriff’s department, if you have not been able to make up the payments.
Most people hit a point in time where they truly need something such as new furniture or appliances, yet just don’t have the money to pay for them. Their credit may also not be the best it could be either. This is usually when they flock to the nearest rent-to-own store. They know that, here, they can get whatever they need by making that first weekly or monthly payment, and signing a contract in which they agree to pay this same amount weekly or monthly for a certain length of time. They can also leave the store with the items they need that very day, or have it delivered within 24 hours.
It all sounds so very simple, doesn’t it? In many ways it IS very simple. However, in other ways, it can be a huge trap. When you enter the rent-to-own store you may be in such a desperate situation that you don’t even bother to read the fine print on your contract. You are probably also not looking at the highly inflated interest rate you are paying to “rent” your new refrigerator or living room suite. All you see is that you can pay an affordable amount of money and walk out the door with what you need. This interest rate DOES add up, too. You usually end up paying 2 – 3 times higher the amount than you would have if you had purchased it elsewhere outright.
The good thing about these programs, though, is that people CAN get what they need immediately, even with bad credit. This is a life saver to many who simply cannot have the things they need in the time frame they need it. In addition, you will have monthly or weekly payments that you can budget for. So there are no unpleasant surprises. However, if you miss a payment with these stores, you can expect a phone call the day it becomes past due. You will also have late fees added to the past due payment. If you default on your payment too many times in a row, the account manager will show up at your door with the store truck to take back the merchandise. This means you will lose all the money you have paid into it.
The rent-to-own stores have both good points and bad points. But if you are truly in a situation where this is your only answer, you can make it work for you. You can budget your payment, and even double up on them when possible. Once you have completed the contract, your item will become yours. You may have paid more money than you should have, but at least you were able to get what you needed when you needed it.
All potential lenders, landlords and employers seem to require a credit report before going any further with your loan, apartment application, or job interview. This report shows them exactly what your credit score is, and will alert them to how good or bad your money managing skills are. It also tells these people you really want to impress if you are reliable or not with repaying any debts.
For better or worse, your credit score is the one thing that will follow you all of your adult life. It will make a difference as to whether or not you get the car loan you really want. It will be the thing that makes it possible to be living in a cool apartment, or sends you back to your parents’ basement. A high credit score will put you in that sporty car you crave, or in that apartment where you can invite your friends with pride. Banks will be beating down your door to loan you money.
There is, however, the other side of the story. If you have a below average or poor credit rating, you will be counting change and hitting up your friends or relatives for money to pay large deposits and down payments. Otherwise, you will have no place to live, and no car to drive. However, it’s not all hopeless. There are several ways to pull your credit rating up to an acceptable rating.
All of your financial information will affect your credit score, be it positive or negative. Some of the information will have more an affect than others. When you are trying to make your credit score better, remember to start with the negative factors.
The first thing you need to do is start making any payments you owe on time. All payments are reported to the credit agencies regularly. Your credit score can improve within as little as 3 months just bypaying your bills on time.
Getting a copy of your credit report and reviewing it carefully for accuracy is also very important. Sometimes you will find that a creditor has reported you for late payments when you have been making your payments on time. This means you will need to take the time to write a letter to the credit agency to dispute this report, requesting that a correction is made on your credit. Having proof of this will help make this correction take place quickly. If you only have your word for this, it will take much longer.
Open a savings account and keep at least $500 in it. This will help to improve your credit rating. That balance will give you collateral for a personal loan. A bank loan can raise your credit rating faster than anything else.
If your credit rating is particularly dismal, you need to understand that there is not a quick fix. It took you years to reach this point, and it won’t be repaired overnight. But don’t let this discourage you. Instead, look for the light at the end of the tunnel, which should start appearing within 3 months of your improvement actions.
It would likely be safe to assume that almost everyone in the United States has seen the “Member FDIC” signs that are displayed at banking institutions. Even if you don’t have a bank account yourself, you have still probably seen one at least once in your lifetime thus far. The signs are as common in America as hot dogs and apple pie. However, something being extremely common does not mean it is also understood by everyone. If you’re one of those people unsure of what exactly the FDIC is or what it does, read on to find out.
The FDIC stands for “The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.” It exists to provide insurance for nearly every banking institution, as well as savings and loan institution. It automatically protects individuals and businesses alike, for up to $100,000, in the event of bank failure. In the case of retirement funds, the FDIC insures up to $250,000. This basically means that if your bank goes the way of the dinosaurs, your money is guaranteed to be safe up to those listed limits. By your bank displaying those “Member FDIC” signs, they are letting you know that they are compliant with the FDIC, so you can feel more confident about letting them handle your money.
As with anything, there are some restrictions, of course. The FDIC does not cover absolutely everything, so certain situations will render the insurance coverage null. The coverage extends to more standard banking procedures, such as checking accounts and savings accounts. It will also cover Money Market Deposit Accounts if yours is one that you can write a small number of checks on a month and Certificates of Deposit that take time to reach maturity.
On the flip side, the FDIC will not cover Treasury bills or other investments backed by the United States government, stocks, bonds or mutual funds. It will not protect your annuity or insurance items, like those for your home or vehicle. Any mistakes made by your bank itself are instead usually covered by their own insurance policies, which is handy because the FDIC doesn’t have those under its protective umbrella. Likewise for any fraud committed by bank personnel.
So, to sum it up: the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is an organization that provides you with a means of protecting and recovering losses you may accrue in the event of bank failure, and next time you see one of those “Member FDIC” signs, you’ll know exactly what it means.