POSTS WITH TAG: home finances

  • 31 +SHARE

    Before even becoming a mom, one of the most common warnings you'll hear from other parents is how expensive it can be to raise children. As it turns out, they're right.

    Families who had a baby in 2013 can expect to spend on average $245,340 until the child is 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's just-released annual report, Expenditures on Children by Families. That's between $12,800 and $14,970 a year for a middle-income family with two parents, depending on the kids' ages.

    Angela Hawkins, 33, a mom of three in the suburbs of Houston, is living proof that the numbers don't lie.

    She shared her household budget with The Stir and estimated that she and her husband Shane will spend about $270,000 per child by the time they turn 18.

    "The figures can be overwhelming," Angela admits.

    So where exactly does all that money go?

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    Several years ago our circumstances changed quite a bit when my husband left his established job to launch a business. I couldn't have been more supporting of his decision, and I was thrilled that he had the courage to follow his dream in such a big way -- but I hadn't realized how much a drastically reduced salary would impact our daily lives. At first it was enormously challenging, as I'd analyze nearly everything I did in order to determine if it fit within our newly tightened budget. Eventually, however, things greatly simplified: by and large, I just ... stopped spending money on non-essential items.

    These days our budget isn't nearly so cramped. We have discretionary income again, and I don't budget like I used to. I'm also pretty sure my parenting has suffered as a result.

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    With the news that Target and Neiman Marcus revealed more than 70 million pieces of customer data to hackers, I thought it would behoove me to inspect my credit card bill. Sure enough, my card number had been stolen and used to buy $10 worth of something somewhere in Ohio. 

    I won't go into what to do when someone steals your credit card (cancel it immediately, report fraudulent charges, subscribe to a credit watch service, keep track of your bills like a hawk) or how to prevent it in the first place (use Paypal online, cut up your debit card, use one credit card for "unsafe" purchases at companies that have been compromised). Instead, let's look at how my credit card information was stolen and where it probably went.

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    OMG, this story makes me furious!!! A woman has actually lost her home because of a $6 bill. Yes, I'm not making this up!! The woman, Eileen Battisti, owned a $280,000 home in Pennsylvania. When her husband died, she was in the process of taking over all of the finances, which can be an arduous endeavor, let me assure you, and somehow $6.30 in interest on a property tax bill got overlooked. And apparently no one bothered to tell Battisti about it. Soon, interest and penalties accrued and the tax bill was up to $235. And then ... somehow ... horribly ... the house went to auction, with Battisti still living there. And was sold!

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    When it comes to my family, I'm an open book. We've gotten to the point now where we've stopped judging each other's lifestyles ... well, for the most part. By now we've all done some pretty wild stuff, and nothing surprises my mother anymore. When it comes to money and budgeting, though, forget it. I'm not spilling anything. But why? What is it about money that feels so private to me?

    Okay, I'm willing to tell my family how much my home is worth. The number is so crazy out of proportion to the actual size of my apartment, they'd never believe me anyway. (Life in NYC ...) I'll tell them how much cash I usually carry around with me -- loose change. But the rest? Here's what I'm not sharing.

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    Motherhood has taught me many life lessons. Learn to laugh through the tears. A Hello Kitty ice pack and a Band-Aid can cure most injuries. Paying retail is for suckers – and Kardashians.

    Which is why I love me an outlet mall. But just because something is on discount doesn’t mean it’s a great deal. So before you hit the stores, check out this sage shopping advice from beauty and style expert Andie Paige. The Style on a Shoestring author who has appeared on shows like How Do I Look, Starting Over, and Ten Years Younger says to grab your tape measure and check your vanity at the door. But after doing battle in the bargain bin, sneaking a Hello Kitty ice pack into your arsenal won’t hurt either.

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    What would you do to save your home? Sadly, that is a question tens of thousands of people have had to ask themselves in recent years. Likely inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey, one Detroit couple ended up doing something they never dreamed of to keep their family of seven from being homeless.

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    Is it me or are tip jars everywhere now? Remember the days when tips were the province of restaurants and bars? Okay, yeah, you tip your cab driver, the guy who brings your bags into your hotel, your doorman on the holidays. But now it seems like you're supposed to tip everyone. I mean EVERYONE. I've seen tip jars in drug stores, hardware stores, rental car places, even a doctor's office. Are you kidding me??!!

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    I have a bit of a confession to make, and I'm already anticipating most of you gasping in horror at what I'm about to tell you -- but I'm going to spill the beans anyway.

    I don't use nor stick to any sort of budget when it comes to my personal finances. I don't balance my checkbook and never have. I don't have a set amount put aside each month for "fun money," disposable income, etc. And while I do add to my savings account on a regular basis, I don't have a set percentage of my paycheck that has to go in there each and every single time.

    I pay my bills on time, buy gas, groceries, and other necessary household items, and whatever is left over is great and I'll spend it as I see fit.

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    Meet the Wagasky’s, the Las Vegas family of four that lives debt-free on (wait for it) $14,000 a year. That’s just over a thousand bucks a month, folks. A scratch under $270 a week. I hate to say it, but I don’t think that even covers our grocery bill. But dad Jason and mom Danielle have found a way to make it work, and they say it makes them “happier” and “a better family.”

    The frugal lifestyle began out of necessity in 2008 when Jason, a former Army sergeant, was stationed in Iraq. Danielle was left managing the home, two kids (Keigan and Libby), and the budget.

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