downsizing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7901/all en-US 10 Money Moves to Make When a Layoff Is Coming http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-to-make-when-a-layoff-is-coming <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-money-moves-to-make-when-a-layoff-is-coming" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_suffering_headache_23825868.jpg" alt="Woman making money moves with coming layoff" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The signs are right there:</p> <ul> <li>All departmental budgets are cut way back;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Several key senior managers suddenly resign;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Entire divisions are consolidated, outsourced, or cut; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Many meetings that were previously open to everybody are now held behind closed doors.</li> </ul> <p>You haven't been laid off (or fired!) yet &mdash; but the company isn't doing so hot, and you strongly suspect you'll be on the chopping block soon. What should you do to prepare? Here is your checklist of 10 money moves for when a layoff is coming. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-re-fired-20-signs-that-a-pink-slip-is-coming?ref=seealso">20 Signs That a Pink Slip is Coming</a>)</p> <h2>Health Care Coverage</h2> <p>Whether you're single or have several dependents, you need to plan how to pay for scheduled and unexpected health care related expenses.</p> <h3>1. Inquire About COBRA Continuation Health Coverage</h3> <p>The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires group health plans to provide a temporary continuation of group health coverage that otherwise might be terminated. Generally, this legislation applies to all private group health plans from employers with 20 or more employees. Some states have similar laws for employers with less than 20 employees.</p> <p>Inquire through your health plan administrator whether you're eligible for COBRA coverage, what coverage is available for you and your dependents, and how much it costs. If you're entitled to COBRA coverage, you'll have an election period of at least 60 days to choose whether to accept continuation coverage.</p> <h3>2. Gather Quotes From HealthCare.gov</h3> <p>While COBRA may be an option, it's often quite expensive. At <a href="http://www.healthcare.gov">HealthCare.gov</a>, you can shop around for health plans available in your Health Insurance Marketplace, check whether or not you qualify for Medicaid, and determine if your children are eligible for the <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/medicaid-chip/childrens-health-insurance-program/">Children's Health Insurance Program</a> (CHIP).</p> <p>By comparing how much it'd cost to maintain your existing coverage through COBRA vs. alternative options, you can make an informed decision about health plan choices.</p> <h3>3. Update Your Mailing Address With Your Current Health Carrier</h3> <p>This is key so that you receive any plan cards, bills, and forms, such as the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-prior/f1095a--2015.pdf">Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement</a>. The Form 1095-A enables you to take the premium tax credit, reconcile the credit on returns with advance payments of the premium tax credit (advance credit payments), and file an accurate tax return.</p> <h2>Retirement Planning</h2> <p>Times may be tough, but continue building up your nest egg. Your future self will be glad you did.</p> <h3>4. Pay Down Any 401K Loans</h3> <p>If you're part of the <a href="http://www.pensionresearchcouncil.org/publications/document.php?file=1271">20% of 401K holders</a> that took a loan from their plan, plan to pay back as much as you can, as <em>soon</em> as you can. When you're laid off or fired, you have only up to 60 days to pay back outstanding balances &mdash; or those funds become <em>taxable </em>income. Also, you would have to pay a 10% early distribution penalty if you're under age 59 1/2 and may be subject to additional incomes taxes and penalties from your state.</p> <h3>5. Check Vesting Period of Employer Contributions</h3> <p>Your employer may require you to work for a specific timeframe before vesting the employer contributions in your retirement account. Contact your retirement plan administrator to understand your fully vested balance.</p> <h3>6. Update Your Mailing Address With Current Plan Administrator</h3> <p>This is important for everybody, but is critical for individuals with a retirement account balance under $5,000. According to a Plan Sponsor Council of America survey, <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/planning-to-retire/2015/01/13/how-to-avoid-being-forced-out-of-your-401-k">57% of 401K plans</a> mail a cash-out check to individuals with balances under $1,000 and transfer accounts to an IRA for those with balances between $1,000 and $5,000. If you would like to prevent these events from happening, contact your plan administrator within a period usually of 60 days from the date of termination. Still, having the correct address on file prevents that a check, form, or notice is lost in the mail. (Yes, rolling over a retirement account is still mostly a paper-based process!)</p> <h3>7. Explore All of Your Rollover Options</h3> <p>Besides cashing out and rolling over to an IRA, there are many other options available for you. To find out all of them, review <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-rolling-over-all-of-your-401ks-and-iras">A Simple Guide to Rolling Over All of Your 401Ks and IRAs</a>.</p> <h2>Emergency Fund Planning</h2> <p>Since a rainy day may be coming soon, establish how you'll make ends meet in case it takes longer than expected to find a new job.</p> <h3>8. Strengthen (or Start) an Emergency Fund</h3> <p>Sock away more into your emergency fund than you usually do. One way to strengthen or start your emergency fund is to use the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator">IRS Withholding Calculator</a> to estimate your current tax bill (or return) for next year's return. Since about three in every four Americans get a refund every year, chances are that you'll be able to take home more with you for the next couple of paychecks. Follow the recommendations from the IRS Withholding Calculator to adjust your Form W-4 and put the extra monies from your next paychecks into your emergency fund. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund?ref=seealso">Figuring the Size of Your Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h3>9. Shop Around for Financing</h3> <p>Now, while you still have a job, is the time to look for financing, not once you're laid off. Select a financing option that would act as a last resort fund in case your emergency fund or saving account runs out. Besides a credit card, take a look at a personal line of credit, peer-to-peer lending account, and home equity line of credit (HELOC). Remember you're securing financing but you don't have to use it unless you really have to.</p> <h3>10. Learn the Process for Unemployment Benefits</h3> <p>Once you're laid off, you'll be worried about too many things. Buy yourself some time and contact your <a href="http://www.servicelocator.org/OWSLinks.asp">State Unemployment Insurance agency</a> ahead of time to learn how to file a claim by telephone or over the Internet. Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program, so find out your state's eligibility requirements, steps to file a claim, and reporting guidelines for continued eligibility.</p> <p>In most states, unemployment benefits (a percentage of an individual's earnings over a recent 52-week period up to a maximum set by the state) are paid up to 26 weeks. Having this support can provide you much need peace of mind during your search for the next job.</p> <p><em>How should you prepare for a layoff?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-to-make-when-a-layoff-is-coming">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-can-you-really-live-on-unemployment">How Long Can You Really Live on Unemployment?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/left-a-job-do-a-rollover">Left a job? Do a rollover.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances Before Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-generous-unemployment-benefits-prolong-the-length-of-unemployment">Do generous unemployment benefits prolong the length of unemployment?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Career and Income 401k downsizing emergency funds going out of business health care IRA laid off layoffs unemployment Wed, 08 Jun 2016 09:00:06 +0000 Damian Davila 1726484 at http://www.wisebread.com Can Tiny House Living Actually Save You Money? http://www.wisebread.com/can-tiny-house-living-actually-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-tiny-house-living-actually-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tiny_house_beach_000009394133.jpg" alt="Finding out if tiny house living can actually save you money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The hottest housing trend out there right now is the tiny home. No doubt, you've heard of it. From mini barns to micro-apartments, whole communities of folks living large in small spaces are sprouting up everywhere.</p> <p>But can tiny house living actually save you money? Read on for our roundup of the financial pros and cons of the ultra-downsizing revolution.</p> <h2>Smaller Means Cheaper &mdash; Well, Sort Of</h2> <p>Let's state the obvious: A small home is generally less expensive than a McMansion. But when it comes to <em>tiny</em> homes, that's only partially true.</p> <p>The average do-it-yourself tiny home costs about $23,000, while the average U.S. home price is up around $273,000. But square foot for square foot, tiny homes are actually tremendously expensive. They generally cost between <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2014/04/28/12-tricked-out-tiny-houses-and-why-they-cost-so-much/">$200&ndash;$400 per square foot</a>, which is far more than the <a href="http://www.census.gov/const/C25Ann/soldmedavgppsf.pdf">$77 average</a> for a normal-sized home. And, notably, normal-sized homes include land while tiny homes generally do not. Tiny homeowners have the added burden of negotiating and calculating a land purchase or lease into their overhead cost.</p> <p>All in all, a tiny home can save you heaps of money on a mortgage, but you'll pay a comparatively high price for the small square footage you've got.</p> <h2>Buying in Bulk Is No Longer Appealing</h2> <p>Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's Wholesale Club members know you can save a slew of money through bulk shopping. But buying in bulk isn't very feasible when you're living in a tiny home. The obvious lack of storage pretty much throws a wrench in that plan. You'll probably also need to make more frequent trips to the grocery store &mdash; a burden on your time and car mileage &mdash; since your pantry and refrigerator size will be smaller. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-you-are-sabotaging-your-weekly-grocery-budget">9 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Weekly Grocery Budget</a>)</p> <h2>You Can Bank on It</h2> <p>Tiny house living is a proven way to bulk up your savings. That's because 68% of those who own a tiny home don't have a mortgage. All told, 55% of tiny house owners <a href="http://thetinylife.com/tiny-house-infographic/#!prettyPhoto">have more savings</a> than the average American, with a median of $10,972 in the bank. And 89% of tiny house owners have less credit card debt.</p> <h2>The Laundromat Will Cost You</h2> <p>The typical tiny home doesn't have room for a washing machine. That likely means you'll be paying frequent visits to the laundromat, spending your time as well as your money to feed the machines and, if you own a car, drive yourself there.</p> <h2>Low Energy Expenses</h2> <p>Tiny homes are big on efficiencies of all sorts, and that includes energy. The very nature of living in a small space is economical in terms of heating and cooling. And the upside of not having enough room for a washing machine is that you're saving on energy expenses.</p> <h2>No Dinner Parties</h2> <p>You can't comfortably host a dinner party in your tiny home &mdash; there's simply not enough space. You probably won't have folks over for coffee very often for that same reason. Without an in-home gathering space, you'll likely be inclined to go out more than you otherwise might. And that means you'll be spending more money. When you live in a tiny home, coffee dates and cafe lunches as a means of catching up with friends are pretty darn appealing.</p> <h2>Add It All Up...</h2> <p>Tiny house living will undoubtedly save you money, but it will also cost you in small ways. Some of the tried and true tricks for saving simply won't work after you downsize. To reap the maximum cost-efficient benefits of tiny house living, you've got to be willing to shed and adjust some of your frugal behaviors.</p> <p><em>Have you tried living in a tiny home? How'd it add up?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-tiny-house-living-actually-save-you-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mcmansion-to-mccottage-why-smaller-houses-are-smarter">McMansion to McCottage: Why Smaller Houses Are Smarter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-lessons-from-the-tiny-house-movement">Big Lessons From the Tiny House Movement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mind-blowing-tiny-houses-with-huge-design-inspiration">Mind-Blowing Tiny Houses With Huge Design Inspiration</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-definitely-need-renters-insurance">5 Reasons You Definitely Need Renters&#039; Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-tips-to-save-on-apartment-living">7 Tips to Save on Apartment Living</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing compact downsizing micro homes small spaces tiny homes trendy Thu, 14 Jan 2016 16:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1635540 at http://www.wisebread.com Do This If You Have Too Much Credit Card Debt http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-if-you-have-too-much-credit-card-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/do-this-if-you-have-too-much-credit-card-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_stressed_finances_000062304938.jpg" alt="Couple learning what to do with too much credit card debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your credit cards are maxed out and you're feeling the pressure. You're stressed and need to make a change. You're not alone.</p> <p>According to 2015 debt statistics released by NerdWallet, the average U.S. household carries just over $16,000 of credit card debt, and that number continues to climb. Here's how to overcome the stress of having too much credit card debt &mdash; and finally get a grip on your finances.</p> <h2>1. Stop Adding to the Debt Mountain</h2> <p>The first step towards regaining control of your credit card is to stop adding to the debt mountain. Cut up your credit cards, hide them away, freeze them in water &mdash; in short, do whatever you can to stop increasing the balances. If you've been relying on credit to pay essential bills, it becomes extra important to prioritize spending. Consider negotiating payment plans with your utility company, re-financing (or downsizing) your home, or other means of bringing your essential costs within budget.</p> <p>The most important part about handling too much credit card debt is to stop the bleeding in the first place. Then you can take additional measures to regain control.</p> <h2>2. Negotiate a Lower Interest Rate</h2> <p>Now that you've stopped using your credit cards, it's time to request a lower interest rate. One quick phone call could help you save hundreds of dollars in interest payments over the life of your credit card balance.</p> <p>Not all credit card companies will be open to lowering your interest rate, but it never hurts to ask. Remind them of your good standing as a customer, how long you've been with them, and any other things that may set your account apart. You can use this as leverage to get the best rate possible.</p> <p>If you're still not able to secure a lower rate, consider whether transferring some or all of your balances to a new, lower-rate credit card (<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">ideally one with 0% APR</a>) can help. Keep in mind that balance transfers carry a cost, so any interest rate savings would need to outweigh this fee.</p> <p>See also: (<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt">When Should You Do A Balance Transfer to Pay Down Credit Card Debt?</a>)</p> <h2>3. Work Out a Payment Plan</h2> <p>If you negotiate a lower interest rate, and find that you still just can't pay the minimum payment every month, it's time to review other options. You can start by asking for a deferment on your payments, or negotiate a new payment plan with the credit card company. Most companies are more than happy to receive any payment at all versus having a non-paying account on their books.</p> <h2>4. Limit Discretionary Spending</h2> <p>You've stopped overspending, negotiated a lower interest rate and better payment plan, so now it's time to limit your discretionary spending. This will help you make larger payments each month, which means getting rid of your debt faster, and paying less interest.</p> <p>For extra motivation and discipline, consider joining spending challenges &mdash; these range from going on a 14-day spending diet, to a 60-day cash spending challenge, to a year-long shopping ban. The point is to start out with small spending habit changes, evaluate your budget along the way, and allocate any extra savings towards your debt.</p> <h2>5. Earn Extra Income Towards Debt</h2> <p>Ask anyone who's rid themselves of debt what their secret is, and they'll likely say it was earning extra money as a way of paying off their credit card debt faster. There's only so much you can do to limit your spending &mdash; but earning extra money is a higher gear toward debt reduction.</p> <p>Seek out opportunities that allow you to earn an extra bit of money. Yes, your time may be constrained. If so, set your specific dollar amount goals, and limit your extra work to that number. Allocate all the extra funds towards your credit cards, and soon you'll have made a significant dent in your debt.</p> <p><em>How do you stay in front of your credit card debt?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-if-you-have-too-much-credit-card-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The 5 Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-the-ways-minimum-payments-are-evil">All the Ways Minimum Payments Are Evil</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt">The Fastest Method to Eliminate Credit Card Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-debt-reduction-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Debt Reduction Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-add-it-up">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Add It Up</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management downsizing interest rates overspending payment plans Thu, 03 Dec 2015 12:00:39 +0000 Carrie Smith 1617567 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Start Saving for Retirement at 40+ http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-start-saving-for-retirement-at-40 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-start-saving-for-retirement-at-40" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/retirement_fund_jar_000020745280.jpg" alt="Retirement fund you should start adding to over 40" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Perhaps you missed the memo urging you to start saving for retirement in your 20s or 30s. Or, if your situation is anything like mine, you started a family early or didn't find your passion in life until you were in your 30s.</p> <p>Fortunately, it's not too late to start saving for retirement, because you're likely earning more today than you did a decade ago. You should be able to start saving now and still retire with a hefty nest egg. But first, you must take some essential steps.</p> <h2>1. Evaluate Your Savings Potential</h2> <p>Be realistic. Sure, we all wish we could save $5,000 per month, but can you <em>actually </em>achieve this based on your earnings and expenses? Remember, no savings amount is so small that it won't positively impact your goals. Save what you can, even if it's only a few hundred dollars per month. There are always ways to push your savings goals further by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-first-step-to-budgeting">establishing a budget</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-home-based-side-business-ideas">creating a side business</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-downsize-your-home-and-start-living-a-better-life">downsizing your life</a>, or all of the above.</p> <h2>2. Set a Financial Goal</h2> <p>How much do you need to retire? Start by taking an assessment of where you are financially and where you need to be. How much money do you need to live comfortably in retirement? Do you anticipate a need for $25,000, $50,000 per year, or maybe more? It may be that you have to postpone your retirement by a few years while you make a few adjustments and implement a quick-fix plan to catch up with your goals.</p> <h2>3. Create a Plan</h2> <p>Any good financial plan should begin with an honest assessment of your goals and the steps you'll take to get there. Try using a <a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/retirement-planning/retirement_calculator.html">retirement calculator</a> to determine how much you'll need to save each month in order to retire by your desired date.</p> <p>You may be surprised by how much money you'll need to save, but don't fear the challenge. Consider working longer, finding a second income, or downsizing your lifestyle to enable progress toward your savings goals.</p> <h2>4. Bias Your Portfolio Towards Stocks</h2> <p>Because stocks offer higher returns than other, less aggressive investments, and you're playing a bit of catch-up, you will want to take on more risk by favoring these over bonds or other more conservative investments. As you grow nearer to retirement, you can take a more conservative investment approach.</p> <h2>5. Max-Out Retirement Accounts and Catch-Up Contributions</h2> <p>Max out your retirement accounts. Take full advantage of employer-sponsored accounts whether your employer offers match contributions, or not. If you don't already have one, open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and make the maximum contribution of $5,500. At retirement, given your account has been open at least five years, you can make withdrawals absolutely tax-free.</p> <p>If you're over the age of 50, the government allows you to make <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Retirement-Topics-Catch-Up-Contributions">catch-up contributions</a> to your 401(k) or IRA plans, thus enabling you to save even more tax-deferred money for retirement.</p> <h2>6. Take Your Retirement Savings to New Heights</h2> <p>If you need to boost your savings in order to meet your goals, consider falling back on your business consulting skills, or any other skill you've developed throughout your career, and using it to create a second income. Freelancers, independent contractors, and small business owners can deduct many of their expenses.</p> <p>There's also a retirement savings incentive for being self-employed. The self-employed can set-up retirement accounts that allow both employer and employee contributions. For 2015, annual plan contributions for a SEP-IRA is up to $52,000, SIMPLE IRA is up to $12,500 plus an employer contribution of 3% of income, and the Solo 401(k) is up to $53,000.</p> <p>The IRS allows the self-employed to make contributions to both an IRA and 401(k). That's a lot of savings towards retirement.</p> <p><em>What steps are you taking toward retirement savings after age 40?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-start-saving-for-retirement-at-40">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-accounts-and-money-to-spend">Retirement accounts and money to spend</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-surprising-things-women-should-know-about-retirement-planning">12 Surprising Things Women Should Know About Retirement Planning</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-steps-to-starting-a-retirement-plan-in-your-30s">8 Steps to Starting a Retirement Plan in Your 30s</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-boost-your-odds-of-retiring-early">5 Ways to Boost Your Odds of Retiring Early</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances Before Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401(k) budgeting downsizing financial planning IRAs savings stocks Tue, 28 Apr 2015 11:00:29 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1397574 at http://www.wisebread.com Becoming a One-Car Family: 5 Points to Consider http://www.wisebread.com/becoming-a-one-car-family-5-points-to-consider <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/becoming-a-one-car-family-5-points-to-consider" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/one_family_car_000026960870.jpg" alt="Family deciding to become a one-car family after consideration" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you're looking to simplify your life or just save money, leaning your family down to just one car can be a wise choice. My husband and I have been doing the one car thing for around a year, and it's working out quite well since our daughter is young and I work from home. We made the change after the repairs and gas costs started taking huge chunks out of our monthly budget, and it's proved to be a smart financial choice for us overall.</p> <p>While there are still times when owning two vehicles might be more convenient, with a little compromise and some planning, we're hoping to keep it simple for as long as possible. Here's how you can do the same.</p> <h2>1. Map It Out</h2> <p>Before anything else, click open a map to investigate the area around your home. When I checked our location, I discovered that our daughter's school, as well as a hospital, pharmacy, grocery store, and even a few restaurants and shops, were all within a mile of our front door. Since I work from home, knowing these amenities were in close distance helped us feel confident that we could access most of what we might need on foot in a pinch. You can also choose to switch banks, doctor's offices, pharmacies, and other spots to fit your new lifestyle.</p> <h2>2. Consider the Weather</h2> <p>That being said, we also live in an area where winter overtakes the region a good five months out of the year. If inclement weather is a factor that might make walking or other transportation difficult, weigh it in your decision accordingly. If you have kids, think down the line to when getting to school events or other activities might get tricky with just one vehicle.</p> <h2>3. Group Your Trips</h2> <p>A lot of the bumps in switching to just one car come from convenience and ease of transport. Sometimes you can't go where you want to go at the moment you want to go there. Start keeping lists of items (food, household, etc.) that you need and try to take shopping trips all at once. Group activities, like gym classes and other recreation, to get the most out of your trips. I find it particularly helpful to post a large calendar so my husband and I can see where the car is needed and when. Then practice before you drop that second car. Can you make it work?</p> <p>As a bonus, you may also find you save money by not running to the store every time you need something. Staying home more often has its benefits.</p> <h2>4. Consider Alternative Transportation</h2> <p>There's a lot on the spectrum between driving and walking. Check out the bike routes to work, for example. The average speed bike commuters travel is around 10 mph, and trips of three miles or fewer are actually faster by bike. Those of you who live in cities can check local bus and subway schedules to see if you can get where you need to go in good time. Buying frequent rider passes can be a great way to save on travel this way. Comb Craigslist and other classifieds for motorized scooters. Where there's a wheel, there's a way.</p> <h2>5. Dip in the Pool</h2> <p>Furthermore, if you live in a more spread out area, carpooling might be a good option &mdash; especially for your daily commute. Ask your coworkers or Human Resource office if any employees have organized groups. You may also find community programs by searching online. And there are lots of carshare and rideshare programs, like <a href="http://www.zipcar.com/webch&amp;gclid=COno04Os4sQCFdY8gQodw60Amw">Zipcar</a> and <a href="https://erideshare.com">eRideShare</a>, across the country that allow you to get from point A to point B without owning a car at all. Once you've surveyed all the options, make a plan that works for your family. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carpooling-pros-cons-and-how-to-stay-safe?ref=seealso">Carpooling: Pros, Cons, and How to Stay Safe</a>)</p> <p><em>We'd love to hear your tips on making just one car work for a family (or perhaps no car at all). Please leave your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/becoming-a-one-car-family-5-points-to-consider">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-uber-saving-or-costing-you-money">Is Uber Saving or Costing You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-if-a-car-service-plan-is-worth-it">How to Tell If a Car Service Plan Is Worth It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-car-parts-that-are-safe-to-buy-used">9 Car Parts That Are Safe to Buy Used</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-rental-car-heres-what-you-need-to-know">Buying a Rental Car? Here&#039;s What You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-more-gas-by-safely-following-trucks">Save More Gas by Safely Following Trucks</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Family carpooling downsizing rideshare saving money simplifying life Wed, 15 Apr 2015 21:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1386019 at http://www.wisebread.com Mind-Blowing Tiny Houses With Huge Design Inspiration http://www.wisebread.com/mind-blowing-tiny-houses-with-huge-design-inspiration <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mind-blowing-tiny-houses-with-huge-design-inspiration" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/Tack-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Tiny houses are a huge thing.</p> <p>The movement, centered on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-lessons-from-the-tiny-house-movement">downsizing homes to live more simply</a> and less expensively, was a fringe campaign just a year or two ago. But with the passage of <a href="http://tinyhouseconference2014.tinyhouseconference.com/">the first annual Tiny House Conference</a> just last month, and the <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/business/travel/hotels-hook-tiny-house-trend-n87031">recent opening of miniature &quot;pod&quot; hotels</a> across the globe, tiny houses have officially arrived at full-blown trend status.</p> <p>And for good reason: from promoting energy efficiency to reducing maintenance costs to encouraging social interaction, tiny houses boast all kinds of benefits beyond garnering the reaction, &quot;hey, those little houses are really cool!&quot;.</p> <p>...But they are really cool. And just because you may not downsize to one tomorrow doesn't mean you can't be inspired to live cleaner, simpler, cheaper, and more artfully by this list of some of the most handsome tiny houses ever made.</p> <h2>Holes in the Wall</h2> <p><img width="605" height="402" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/Oregon-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>This <a href="http://tinyhousebuild.com/">Ashland, Oregon home</a> clocks in at just $33,000 and 207 sq ft, but you wouldn't know it from this sleek overhead view of the layout. Wall cut-outs create semi-private nooks that act as separate leisure or work spaces &mdash; something to consider implementing in any home.</p> <h2>Finland's Finest</h2> <p><img width="605" height="403" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/FinnishMicroHouse-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>With a name translating to &quot;Bird's Nest&quot;, <a href="http://tinyhouselistings.com/robins-micro-house/">this rustic design</a> was created by a young Fin bent on building a living space so small it wouldn't require a permit. Just two weeks of construction and 146 sq ft later, he had beat the system, and built himself a beautifully unregulated tiny house.</p> <h2>Colorado Comfy</h2> <p><img width="605" height="456" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/RockyMountain-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>This trailer-bound home from <a href="http://rockymountaintinyhouses.com/plans/boulder/">Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses</a> retails far below the average tiny home at $27,350, and includes a staircase that doubles as a multi-level storage space, another useful idea in a home of any size.</p> <h2>Sphere Sanctuary</h2> <p><img width="605" height="403" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/Sphere-ggnoads.jpg.png" alt="" /></p> <p>&quot;<a href="http://www.freespiritspheres.com/eryn.htm">A marriage of tree house and sailboat technology</a>,&quot; these spheres populate a rainforest in Vancouver Island, British Columbia. From inside, they more closely resemble a hobbit's house in The Shire, and are a good reminder that irregularly curved lines on things likes doors, windows, and cabinets are often instantly striking in any home.</p> <h2>Living Large, Sort of</h2> <p><img width="480" height="480" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/BigSmall-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Los Angeles's <a href="http://anonymous-projects.com/ArchProjects/project_C2-1.htm">Big and Small House</a> seeks to &quot;invert luxury, in that the smallest house contains the largest room.&quot; In other words, the design sacrifices divided rooms in favor of larger, unobstructed spaces to maximize the house's size constraints. Something to consider when remodeling.</p> <h2>Rustic Little Residence</h2> <p><img width="605" height="402" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/Tack-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Built by a husband and wife team in near Seattle, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/07/chris-malissa-tack-tiny-home_n_2422393.html?utm_hp_ref=tiny-homes#slide=1941813">the 140 sq ft Tack House</a>, however tiny, is already paying huge dividends. The couple have dramatically reduced their cost of living (they say the house will be totally paid off in two years), and have reportedly become more polite to each other, a function of being forced to respect each other's space more regularly, and a good lesson for any co-habitants.</p> <h2>The Church of Tiny</h2> <p><img width="605" height="404" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/Davidson-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>The Latin-inspired, mosaic-filled <a href="http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/1025-Alpine-Blvd_Alpine_CA_91901_M15845-60334?CID=prt300022">Davidson Residence</a> in Alpine, California has a sort of Mexican church feel, and is one of the most unique tiny homes anywhere. With A-frame windows, a dramatically curved ceiling, and ceramic aplenty, it's a good reminder that a little character can make up for a lack of space any day.</p> <h2>The Amazing Bike Bunk</h2> <p><img width="605" height="201" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/BikeTrailer-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>For people that think of tiny trailer homes as &quot;way too spacious,&quot; there's this absurdly cool <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/tiny-trailer-bicycle-home_n_3001878.html?utm_hp_ref=tiny-homes">Trailer Bicycle home</a>, with a couch, bed, TV, and kitchenette, all small enough to be towed by a two-wheeler. And yeah, OK, this one was meant as an art project, but there's no reason why your home can't be one too!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/joe-epstein">Joe Epstein</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mind-blowing-tiny-houses-with-huge-design-inspiration">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-lessons-from-the-tiny-house-movement">Big Lessons From the Tiny House Movement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lessons-in-simple-living-from-extreme-minimalists">Lessons in Simple Living From Extreme Minimalists</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-benefits-of-having-a-roommate-besides-saving-on-rent">The Benefits of Having a Roommate (Besides Saving on Rent)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mcmansion-to-mccottage-why-smaller-houses-are-smarter">McMansion to McCottage: Why Smaller Houses Are Smarter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Real Estate and Housing downsizing tiny houses Mon, 05 May 2014 14:28:36 +0000 Joe Epstein 1137950 at http://www.wisebread.com Big Lessons From the Tiny House Movement http://www.wisebread.com/big-lessons-from-the-tiny-house-movement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/big-lessons-from-the-tiny-house-movement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house-558179-small.jpg" alt="tiny house" title="tiny house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you heard the buzz about the tiny house movement or seen one moving down the road toward its new (semi) permanent home? If not, chances are you soon will. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/mcmansion-to-mccottage-why-smaller-houses-are-smarter">McMansion to McCottage: Why Smaller Houses Are Smarter</a>)</p> <p>The tiny house movement is a social movement in which people voluntarily reduce their living space in order to live more simply, to live debt-free, or to reduce their carbon footprint. Tiny homes come in all shapes and designs and are as varied as their occupants. Although there are no formal parameters, these houses can be fixed or on wheels and range in size from 250-400 square feet.</p> <p>As the movement gains steam and evolves from a fringe curiosity to a full-blown phenomenon, I thought it might be interesting to explore what we&rsquo;re learning from tiny houses and the lessons that continue to motivate new converts every day.</p> <h2>Smaller Can Be Better</h2> <p>According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the size of the average American home in 2012 was 2,480 square feet. Since the size of families is shrinking, one has to wonder what we&rsquo;re doing with all that extra space. Is it really worth it to finance, heat, clean, and furnish rooms we don&rsquo;t need? Tiny homes start conversations about expectations, wants, needs, and norms that we seldom explore.</p> <h2>Houses Are for People</h2> <p>We spend a lot of time and money building bigger to house more...things. The beauty and logic of the tiny house movement challenges the notion that our homes need to be large enough to warehouse our unchecked and always-growing inventory of stuff. The primary purpose of a home is to shelter people and &mdash; secondarily &mdash; the optimal amount of useful, beautiful, and sentimental objects that support and enrich our lives.</p> <h2>Simple Living Requires Constant Editing</h2> <p>The British craftsman and poet William Morris said, &ldquo;If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.&rdquo; Wise words.</p> <p>Reaching that optimal level of &ldquo;stuff&rdquo; requires constant attention and editing &mdash; especially in tiny spaces. But isn&rsquo;t editing something that should be happening anyway, regardless of the size of our homes? Do we really revel in stuffed closets, garages that no longer fit our cars, basements that look like the National Archives, attics that creak with the weight of dozens of storage bins? Tiny houses require us to do what larger houses let us neglect &mdash; minimize the material albatrosses we travel through life with.</p> <h2>Our Lives Are Mobile; Our Housing Should Keep Pace</h2> <p>Since I graduated college in 1992, I&rsquo;ve lived in four different cities in three states, and for my peer group, that&rsquo;s a relatively low number. Society is more mobile and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pack-up-your-house-tips-for-saving-money-and-sanity-on-a-move">adults are more transitory than ever before</a>, but our housing options are still tethered to old social norms. Tiny houses offer ownership benefits that apartments can&rsquo;t, design considerations that traditional mobile homes don&rsquo;t, and financial flexibility that typical houses can&rsquo;t come close to matching.</p> <h2>Prefab Can Be Fab</h2> <p>The reputation of prefab is changing. The old idea that prefabricated structures are quickly and cheaply tacked together is fading away.</p> <p>Prefabricated tiny houses are designed, customized, and built with <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/houses-you-can-build-yourself">an unrivaled attention to detail and durability</a> &mdash; often using reclaimed and repurposed materials. Their potential to revolutionize the way we build on a much broader scale shouldn&rsquo;t be underestimated. With reduced waste, greater cost controls, and year-round climate-regulated building processes, the new prefab really is fab.</p> <h2>Design Matters</h2> <p>Optimizing the costs of any structure begins and ends with the maximizing the space within it. Many tiny homes feel much larger than their footprints because great care has been paid to design, space planning, and other efficiencies. Vaulted ceilings with sleeping lofts, Murphy beds, vertical storage, and versatile furnishings make every square foot matter. It&rsquo;s a lesson that can be applied to any house, regardless of size.</p> <h2>Mortgage-Free Living Is Possible</h2> <p>Perhaps the most profound lesson we can take away from the tiny house movement is its lesson about debt-free living. Mortgage typically represents the single largest debt that most of us will ever face &mdash; one that will track and tax our financial freedom decade after decade. The notion that we can rethink our housing, still enjoy the benefits of home ownership, and reduce <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">or completely avoid long-term debt</a> should be sparking conversations across the country.</p> <p>Maybe you&rsquo;re not ready to downsize to a 250 square foot home &mdash; and I&rsquo;m not sure that&rsquo;s even the point. This style of living isn&rsquo;t for everybody, but there are important lessons we can all learn from it. If we start reexamining the notions that more is always better than less, bigger is always preferable to smaller, debt is an unavoidable part of life, and traditional employment is necessary to fuel a constantly-expanding cycle of consumption, then the tiny house movement has challenged a narrative that is seldom questioned. And to me, that&rsquo;s really big news.</p> <p><em>Do you know someone who lives in a tiny house? Have you daydreamed about living small? Share your story below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-lessons-from-the-tiny-house-movement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mind-blowing-tiny-houses-with-huge-design-inspiration">Mind-Blowing Tiny Houses With Huge Design Inspiration</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-downsize-and-declutter">How to Downsize and Declutter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tourist-towns-that-are-actually-great-to-live-in">6 &quot;Tourist Towns&quot; That Are Actually Great to Live In</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-cities-for-starting-over">The 5 Best Cities for Starting Over</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-employed-heres-how-to-get-your-apartment-application-approved">Self-Employed? Here&#039;s How to Get Your Apartment Application Approved</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Real Estate and Housing downsizing moving prefab tiny houses Wed, 24 Apr 2013 10:24:32 +0000 Kentin Waits 973603 at http://www.wisebread.com Find Your Hidden Spending Habits and Save http://www.wisebread.com/find-your-hidden-spending-habits-and-save <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/find-your-hidden-spending-habits-and-save" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3688015146_7fc5ef8ed1_z.jpg" alt="freezer" title="freezer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all know saving is important &mdash; some of us may have even made &ldquo;Save More&rdquo; one of our New Year's resolutions. Unfortunately, though, when the end of the month rolls around, many of us don&rsquo;t have anything left to save. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/37-savings-changes-you-can-make-today">37&nbsp;Savings Changes You&nbsp;Can Make Today</a>)</p> <p>But it doesn&rsquo;t have to be that way; there may be some hidden spending habits you haven&rsquo;t uncovered. I know there are some purchases I still don&rsquo;t believe actually matter much for my budget, such as when I buy a discounted book for my Kindle. But the truth is that all spending matters, and you need to fess up to your hidden habits if you want to put more into the bank &mdash; even $150 more.</p> <p>To that end, I&rsquo;ve gathered up a few common spending hideouts for you to investigate.</p> <h2>Household Cleaning Supplies</h2> <p>I am starting here because I am guilty of this hidden spending flaw.</p> <p>Buying one product for one purpose can get really expensive. Add expensive, pleasant-smelling candles, supposed-to-be-magic carpet cleaners, fabric refreshers, and so on into the mix, and your <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-for-spring-cleaning-on-a-budget">cleaning supply bill</a> each month can clean out your wallet.</p> <p>Cut down on your cleaning bill by getting back to basics, using home recipes for effective cleaning. Vinegar alone can clean most of the house. Stock up on ingredients your Grandma used to keep the house clean rather than go for overpriced, ineffective, smell-good products. Imagine the savings you&rsquo;ll have by instead using a gallon of vinegar and a box of baking soda.</p> <h2>Grocery Store Meats</h2> <p>I am also guilty of this spending habit.</p> <p>I rely on the grocery store for meats when I have a ton of other options that are more cost effective. We have a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-at-the-butchers">local butcher shop</a> in the area as well as a farmers market where locally-produced meats can be purchased fresher and at a much lower price than their packaged counterparts. I also have the option of buying larger portions of beef or pork from local farmers, which I can use to stock my freezer for months to come, freeing up more cash from the grocery bill that can go into savings. Consider that cutting four $10 roasts a month saves you $40 right off the bat.</p> <h2>Software Downloads</h2> <p>Technology has made it so easy to buy the latest app, game, or song with a brief touch of your finger.</p> <p>You may not actually realize how much these little $.99 purchases add up to at the end of a month because you don&rsquo;t actually look at your credit card statement or review your cell phone bill very closely. If four people in the family are downloading 25 apps each a month, that&rsquo;s at least $100 spent unnecessarily. Make the kids buy their own gift cards for app downloads, and cut off permission to add download charges to your bill for everyone on the plan, including you.</p> <h2>Convenience Products</h2> <p>I should make a T-shirt for myself to remind me that every dollar matters! I still can dismiss that $2 cup of coffee I get before attending my monthly soccer meeting or when heading out to see a friend. Fact is, I have a better brand of coffee at home, but I am too lazy to make it for myself on most occasions. It&rsquo;s easier to stop at the gas station, but it is really ruining my plan for savings.</p> <p>Other <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-inconvenience-helped-me-save-money">convenience products</a> like fast food stops, pre-made groceries, and the like can also be avoided with some pre-planning and a little food prep in advance.</p> <h2>Stuff You Already Have</h2> <p>I swear that when I walk into a Staples store, I hear angels sing. Staples and other office supply stores are a temptation I just cannot resist.</p> <p>Everyone needs new pens, another notebook, and fresh highlighters, right? Luckily, I realize how dangerous it is for me to hit the office supply aisles in any store and do my best to avoid them as much as possible. But I also know I am guilty of falling for &ldquo;great deals&rdquo; on things I already have a ton of at home. Keep your interests in check and know your weaknesses. That $20 you just blew on stuff you already have would have served you much better if it were deposited into savings.</p> <h2>Guilt Gifts</h2> <p>A lot of spending occurs out of guilt. Just because the rest of the office is buying Suzie a gift for her birthday does NOT mean you have to buy too, especially if you can&rsquo;t afford it.</p> <p>Peer pressure can guilt you into spending more than you want to, need to, or should. Take a stand with yourself, and don&rsquo;t fall for the pressure. If you feel the need to contribute to a celebration, offer to decorate her desk, make a card, or have another task that won&rsquo;t cost you money. Let&rsquo;s be honest &mdash; it is far wiser to invest in yourself than to buy useless stuff for people you hardly know.</p> <h2>Get Motivated</h2> <p>Whatever you have to do to motivate yourself, do it. Paste pictures of piles of money around the house to remind you how nice it would look sitting in your bank account. Consider life without having to worry about paying for emergencies. Whatever it takes to keep you focused on savings and related goals, find a way to make it work. If $150 is too high a goal starting out, make it $50 and find a way to get it. Keep adjusting your goals, and aim for a larger cut of your income to be safely stashed in savings.</p> <p><em>What spending habits have you transformed into savings habits?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tisha-tolar">Tisha Tolar</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-your-hidden-spending-habits-and-save">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-19"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/budgeting-for-people-who-hate-planning">Budgeting for People Who Hate Planning</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy">Beyond Debt-Free: Getting By in the New Economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-72-brilliant-ways-to-stretch-20">Flashback Friday: 72 Brilliant Ways to Stretch $20</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-budget-friendly-beach-destinations">6 Budget-Friendly Beach Destinations</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting downsizing emergency savings financial organization hidden spending Tue, 08 Jan 2013 10:36:33 +0000 Tisha Tolar 961756 at http://www.wisebread.com Great Ways to Advertise Your Yard Sale http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-advertise-your-yard-sale <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/great-ways-to-advertise-your-yard-sale" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6733886813_466a36dd6d_z.jpg" alt="yard sale sign" title="yard sale sign" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I&rsquo;m in the process of packing for a cross-country move. By the time I was three boxes in, I was committed to making sure that I had to move as little as possible, so I scheduled a yard sale. I&rsquo;m in a particularly tough location to rely on people driving by and stopping to shop &mdash; I live on a dead end with no through traffic. So I went into advertising mode. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-have-a-successful-garage-sale">How to Have a Successful Garage Sale</a>)</p> <p>Depending on the details of your yard sale, you may want to tweak your advertising plans to make sure that you&rsquo;re getting the information in front of people who are actually likely to buy. These options target a general audience, but if you&rsquo;ll be selling something very specific that you know a certain type of person will be interested in, like supplies for a certain hobby, reach out directly to that audience, such as by emailing the local groups that practice that hobby.</p> <h2>Your Social Networks</h2> <p>I know that my friends have a lot of the same interests I do, so when I decided to hold a yard sale, my first step was to set up a public Facebook event and invite all of my friends in the area. I listed some of the items that I thought they&rsquo;d all be interested in and got a huge response. In fact, I got a few requests from out-of-state from people who saw something on the list and were willing to pay to have me ship something their way!</p> <p>Of course, you can take your advertising offline and tell your social groups in person. Making a point of mentioning your garage sale at work and at social events can have a similar impact.</p> <h2>Put Up Signs</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s tried and true &mdash; putting up signs in your neighborhood will always help bring shoppers to your yard sale. I put up signs from the closest high traffic route straight up to my house, with arrows at each turn. Make sure your signs are big enough to be easily read from a distance. A single sheet of paper probably won&rsquo;t cut it &mdash; invest in some poster board and think big.</p> <h2>Advertise in the Classifieds</h2> <p>There are plenty of places that you can advertise your garage sale inexpensively or even for free. Personally, I rely on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-25-best-things-to-buy-on-craigslist">Craigslist</a> because it&rsquo;s free and easy to post to. But local newspapers and newsletters will often let you publish a classified ad for only a few dollars. You do have to plan these ads further out &mdash; at a minimum, you&rsquo;ll probably need to place your ad a week before your yard sale.</p> <h2>The Yard Sale Sites</h2> <p>There are some devoted yard sale shoppers out there, and they follow certain sites closely, particularly because they include listings of local yard sales. <a href="http://www.yardsalesearch.com/">Yard Sale Search</a> and <a href="http://www.garagesalestracker.com/">Garage Sales Tracker</a> are good places to start.</p> <h2>Community Bulletin Boards and Newsletters</h2> <p>In your area, there are probably plenty of different opportunities to connect with your neighbors &mdash; the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-you-should-support-your-local-library">library</a> or church or grocery store down the street may have a community bulletin board that you can post to. The neighborhood or community association may have a newsletter where you can send out updates. It&rsquo;s just a matter of getting your yard sale listed.</p> <h2>Be Creative</h2> <p>You can do as much or as little advertising as you&rsquo;d like for your yard sale. Doing a little more, of course, increases the chances that you&rsquo;ll sell everything you&rsquo;d like to. If you&rsquo;re not sure if you&rsquo;ve reached enough people through these advertising options, get creative. It&rsquo;s just a matter of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-mistakes-that-can-ruin-your-yard-sale">telling as many people as you possibly can</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-advertise-your-yard-sale">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-earn-extra-cash-when-money-is-tight">9 Ways to Earn Extra Cash When Money Is Tight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/clear-out-that-clutter-15-places-to-sell-your-stuff">Clear Out That Clutter: 15 Places to Sell Your Stuff</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-surprising-things-you-can-rent-for-extra-cash">13 Surprising Things You Can Rent for Extra Cash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-82-best-spring-cleaning-hacks-we-ve-ever-shared">Flashback Friday: The 82 Best Spring Cleaning Hacks We’ve Ever Shared</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-rid-of-all-your-crap">How to Get Rid of All Your Crap</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Extra Income advertising declutter downsizing yard sale Thu, 04 Oct 2012 09:48:44 +0000 Thursday Bram 954800 at http://www.wisebread.com Take an Imaginary Do-Over http://www.wisebread.com/take-an-imaginary-do-over <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/take-an-imaginary-do-over" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4333249778_2c39c9f6bb_b.jpg" alt="Piggy Bank Awaits the Spring" title="Piggy Bank Awaits the Spring" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="187" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Imagine everything you owned was lost in an insured catastrophe. Your debts were paid, and you had a lump of cash big enough that you were left &mdash; financially &mdash; in about the same position you're in now, but you had no possessions except the clothes on your back, a small box of your most precious mementos, and a USB drive with all your photos.</p> <p>Go through the mental exercise of figuring out how you'd deploy that cash to best satisfy your needs and wants. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-common-unnecessary-needs">The 4 Most Common Unnecessary&nbsp;&quot;Needs&quot;</a>)</p> <h2>The Exercise</h2> <p>Start with the little stuff:</p> <p><strong>Your Furniture</strong></p> <p>For a lot of people, this is the most fun category, because a lot of people bought cheap crappy furniture so they wouldn't have to sit on the floor, and then found themselves stuck with it &mdash; because who can afford to replace perfectly good furniture just because it's cheap and crappy?</p> <p><strong>Your Wardrobe</strong></p> <p>How much is stuff you wear every week? How much is special-purpose (swimwear, interview clothes)? How much is too big, too small, or just not quite right?</p> <p><strong>Your Tools</strong></p> <p>How many are for sports or hobbies you've abandoned? How many are duplicates because your spouse also had one, or because you couldn't find the one you had when you needed it?</p> <p><strong>Your Dishes, Pots, and Pans</strong></p> <p>How much of your kitchen and dining utensils only get used for two meals a year?</p> <p>Then go on to the big stuff:</p> <p><strong>Your Transportation</strong></p> <p>If all your vehicles were gone, what would you replace them with? If you can get by with one less vehicle, you can save <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-you-can-afford-more-house-in-the-exurbs-think-again">a huge amount of money</a> &mdash; it costs over $8,000 a year to operate a car.</p> <p><strong>Your Residence</strong></p> <p>If you've just lost all your stuff, you probably don't need as much room. If that means you could fit into a smaller house, an apartment instead of a house, or a smaller apartment, that could save you a huge amount of money. More importantly, it could go on saving you money for years to come &mdash; lower taxes, less maintenance expenses, lower insurance premiums, smaller monthly payments, etc.</p> <p>I wrote a lot of posts back in 2007 and 2008 trying to convince people that houses were a poor investment. (For example, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/renting-is-cheaper">Renting Is Cheaper</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-equity-was-always-imaginary">Your Equity Was Always Imaginary</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-your-house-is-really-worth">What Your House Is Really Worth</a>.)</p> <p>That's not such a hard sell now as it was then. A lot more people are ready to think of their residence as a place to live, rather than imagining that it's an investment.</p> <h2>The Reality</h2> <p>Some people enjoy going through this mental exercise. Imagining that you could wipe away all the errors you've made in accumulating stuff that you don't need is fun. But it's still a fantasy. The reality is tougher. Most of your stuff couldn't be sold for anything like its replacement cost. (And nobody's life is so bad that it'd be improved by going to jail for insurance fraud.)</p> <p>But I think the mental exercise of imagining what you'd do is still worthwhile, because it's a way to understand what you really want.</p> <p>If you understand what you really want, you can make progress toward it, even if you can't take the big leap of replacing all your stuff with cash. If you know you'd like to move to a smaller place, you can prepare by getting rid of clothes you no longer wear and hobby gear you no longer use. Over time, you can downsize your footprint enough that you'd fit in that smaller house. In the meantime, you get to enjoy a more relaxed, less cluttered house.</p> <p>The reality of losing everything you own would suck. It would be very different from the fantasy of freedom it provides.</p> <p>But you have something even better than the fantasy of freedom. You have actual freedom. Granted, if you have a lot of money invested in stuff that you couldn't possibly sell for what you paid for it &mdash; or worse, if you've got a car that's worth much less than what you owe on it, or if you're way <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-options-if-youre-underwater-on-your-mortgage">underwater on a mortgage</a> &mdash; there would be a cost to actualizing that freedom. But much of that cost could be recouped in fairly short order, if your imaginary do-over life were cheaper than the life you're living now.</p> <p>Once you start imagining that life, you can start taking steps to prepare for it, and pretty soon after that, you can start taking steps to move toward it. Fantasies can come true in the best way.</p> <p>As one of the early steps, I suggest that you create that thumb drive of your photos, because fantasies can also come true in the worst ways.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/take-an-imaginary-do-over">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mind-blowing-tiny-houses-with-huge-design-inspiration">Mind-Blowing Tiny Houses With Huge Design Inspiration</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/simple-living-lessons-i-learned-from-hoarders">Simple-Living Lessons I Learned From &quot;Hoarders&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-advertise-your-yard-sale">Great Ways to Advertise Your Yard Sale</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/convert-your-crap-into-cash-without-a-garage-sale">Convert Your Crap Into Cash Without a Garage Sale</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-get-junk-gone">5 Ways to Get Junk Gone</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle declutter do-over downsizing emergency Fri, 16 Mar 2012 10:36:13 +0000 Philip Brewer 911566 at http://www.wisebread.com Beyond Debt-Free: Getting By in the New Economy http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000009635694Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="187" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For most Americans, the pinnacle of financial independence centers on some vague notion of living debt-free. This debt-free life comes either through amazing feats of financial discipline during our working years, or as a final hard-won reward in retirement. But with an economy in turmoil, the specter of increased taxes looming as state and federal government deficits mushroom, and jobs becoming more and more temporary, is living debt-free even enough anymore?</p> <p>We all know the pitfalls of consumer debt, and we all strive for that sweet moment when we make our final mortgage payment. But beyond the fundamental lessons of living debt-free, how can we leverage our work, our income, and our knowledge to truly stay ahead of what appears to be an ever-more precarious financial curve? I assert that becoming debt-free is just the first in a series of steps necessary to survive in the new American economy. Here are some other points to consider:</p> <h3>1. Ruthlessly Examine Expenditures</h3> <p>Face it: Putting the credit cards on ice isn&rsquo;t enough anymore. We can work to avoid debt night and day and still be hit with some unforeseen event that levels our plans. A layoff, an uninsured medical emergency, or an accident can put us back at square one (or worse) financially. Staying ahead means saving more, and saving more means carefully examining every expenditure we make, becoming savvier to nefarious marketing influences and plugging the leaks in our financial lives. Ask yourself: Is this purchase essential? Does it support my larger financial efforts, or is it simply a black hole?</p> <h3>2. Activate Your Passive Assets</h3> <p>We work so hard to afford our homes and cars, but really put no demands on those assets themselves. Why shouldn&rsquo;t our largest purchases be income-producing capital investments too? As most people&rsquo;s biggest purchase and highest monthly expense, homes should be put to work. Is there a room you can rent out? Could the basement or attic become a permanent separate rental unit? And your automobile &mdash; would a truck serve you better and let you accomplish more (and more cheaply) by avoiding moving or delivery expenses? Could it become a means to launch and support a small side business?</p> <h3>3. Leverage All Types of Capital</h3> <p>Capital comes in all shapes and sizes. Living beyond debt-free means appreciating and leveraging social capital (your professional network, your friends, and your neighbors), knowledge capital (your skills and expertise), and time capital. How can each of these help you add to your income or reduce your expenses?</p> <h3>4. Rethink Industry and Marketing Forces</h3> <p>America runs on consumer spending, and most consumer spending is fueled by debt. Understand how the house of cards is built and carefully step away from the card table. Though the larger economic forces at play may be unchangeable, understanding how to not get caught in the worst of it is the key to success. Simplify your life where you can and become an ambassador for simplicity and frugality for your friends and family. Recalibrating expectations during birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc. can go a long way toward a saner and smarter financial existence.</p> <h3>5. Differentiate Needs and Wants</h3> <p>Reevaluating your ideas about needs and luxuries (sometimes ruthlessly) is probably part of what helped you become debt-free in the first place. Continuing to separate needs vs. wants and keeping your eye on the larger luxuries of freedom and security is still key.</p> <h3>6. Become a Micro-Entrepreneur</h3> <p>You are more than your day job. Your skills and time can be leveraged in new and creative ways to add to your income and help you be less vulnerable to the whims of larger economic forces. What skills from your primary job can be applied as a free agent part-time? What talents do you have that might translate into freelance work?</p> <h3>7. Embrace Independence and Local Interdependence</h3> <p>In an economy built on consumer unrest and dissatisfaction, independence and self-sufficiency are subversive concepts. Realizing how little you need through careful examination, thoughtful consideration, and efficient living is nothing short of revolutionary. Try growing a portion of your own food &mdash; it&rsquo;s local, organic, and virtually free. Share it with your neighbors. Learn to lend and borrow; return everything in better shape that you received it. Turn your neighbors into friends, and see how much we all already have and how independence (and friendly interdependence) can create small liberations.</p> <p>As we adjust to life mid-recession and realize that the economy is much more fragile than most of us ever understood, debt-free living may become the newest marker of success and a baseline for even more personal financial security. Though harder to attain, maybe this marker of restraint, financial mindfulness, community engagement, and simple living will be how we forge ahead and collectively change the industries and practices that brought us to the edge.&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-youre-debt-free">6 Ways Life is Wonderful When You&#039;re Debt-Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-search-and-destroy">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Search and Destroy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-freedom-of-a-debt-free-life">The Freedom of a Debt-Free Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-why-keeping-your-latte-factor-will-help-you-save-money">3 Reasons Why Keeping Your &quot;Latte Factor&quot; Will Help You Save Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-common-unnecessary-needs">The 4 Most Common Unnecessary &quot;Needs&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Debt Management Lifestyle cutting expenses debt free downsizing trading with neighbors Thu, 20 Jan 2011 14:00:12 +0000 Kentin Waits 466047 at http://www.wisebread.com Book Review: Early Retirement Extreme http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-early-retirement-extreme <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-early-retirement-extreme" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/early-retirement-extreme-cover.png" alt="Cover of Early Retirement Extreme" title="Cover of Early Retirement Extreme" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="200" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/145360121X?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=145360121X"><em>Early Retirement Extreme: A philosophical and practical guide to financial independence</em></a> by Jacob Lund Fisker.</p> <p>If you live cheaply enough, you can chose to do whatever work you want (rather than whatever pays the most). That's been my message here on Wise Bread right from the start. Jacob's message is much the same. He's just more extreme about it.</p> <p>I like to point out that there's value in having some income-earning capital even when the income is fairly small. Investment earnings that come to just one-tenth of income from employment open up a world of possibilities: They could be spent to raise your standard of living or reinvested to compound your way toward retirement; they definitely provide a great cushion if your earnings fall.</p> <p>Jacob prefers to point out that if you can live on a tenth of the income from your job, then as soon as your investment earnings add up to that much money, you can go ahead and retire.</p> <p>Faced with the suggestion that they could live on a small fraction of their income, most people simply throw up their hands and call it impossible. Jacob points out that it's not impossible at all. It's simply extreme.</p> <p>It's a bit hard to summarize Jacob's model, but very briefly, there are several pieces that interlock:</p> <h3>Don't specialize.</h3> <p>Instead, develop the skills to do many ordinary things yourself. It doesn't take nearly as much effort to develop and maintain a basic level of competence as it does to become good enough at something that you can do it professionally. This cuts costs and provides additional sources of income.</p> <h3>Develop a new understanding of needs.</h3> <p>Many people own homes with numerous rooms that are vacant almost 24 hours a day &mdash; rooms that are unused except to store stuff that the owners hardly ever use. Getting rid of stuff you don't use enables the option of moving to a smaller, cheaper space.</p> <h3>Lose the car.</h3> <p>As long as you're moving anyway, move someplace close enough to where you work and shop that you don't need a car. You will quickly and easily save a small fortune while becoming thinner, healthier, happier, and wealthier.</p> <h3>Invest the savings from these cost-saving moves.</h3> <p>In as little as five years, you can be generating enough investment income to cover your living expenses.</p> <p>Yes, it's extreme &mdash; but really, only in the sense of being very different from what most people do. It's not difficult or mysterious. It requires little more than a willingness to be unconventional.</p> <p>There are a lot of things to like about Jacob's book. I like the way he proposes achieving the cooperation of a spouse who is uninterested in being different: &quot;Unless you possess superior persuasive skills, it's no use arguing. Most people (and especially children) will follow your example rather than your suggestions, if they follow at all.&quot;&nbsp;He then goes on to suggest that once your emergency fund has grown large enough to support you over a five-year job hiatus, your spouse may start thinking his or her regular ol' six-month emergency fund looks kind of meager.</p> <p>I like the way he points out that there is a vast range of choices for every decision, running the gamut from vastly excessive to utterly minimalist &mdash; a much wider range than most people recognize &mdash; and how he proposes that <em>frequency of use</em> is the right criterion by which to select from the list.</p> <p>For example, he proposes that a stand mixer is perfectly appropriate for a professional baker who uses it multiple times a day. If you use it just once a day, a hand mixer is entirely good enough. If you use it less than daily, you can probably get by with a whisk. And if you use it once a month or less, even a whisk is overkill &mdash; he suggests that two forks rubberbanded together is the right tool for the job.</p> <p>He offers a similarly graded range of suggestions for housing &mdash; roughly in the middle of the list, with three steps between them, he includes &quot;living in a shack or cabin&quot; and &quot;living in an RV.&quot;</p> <p>I like his whole &quot;renaissance man&quot; conceptualization of someone who chooses not to specialize, and his &quot;businessman, working man, salary man&quot; conceptualization of the alternative choices.</p> <p>I particularly like the way he explains that having a <em>flexible</em> household cost structure is much more important than having <em>low</em> costs.</p> <p>It's a point I've tried to make &mdash; I've called it <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-way-to-avoid-the-worst-financial-problems ">the best way to avoid the worst financial problems</a>. But I've usually couched it in terms of avoiding recurring monthly expenses. Jacob puts it in terms of the size of your emergency fund: If most of your money goes for wants rather than needs, then even a low savings rate can keep your emergency fund topped off &mdash; because during an emergency, you only need to pay for your needs. (Plus, your standard of living is higher, because so much of your income is available to pay for wants.)</p> <p>I love the fact that he derives the equation for determining how long your capital will last at a given withdrawal rate.</p> <p>Probably the best thing about the book is its moral center. It's a book about making the personal choices that lead to freedom, health, being able to support your family in changing circumstances, and being able to help others.</p> <p>One thing a book like this always has to deal with is the argument, &quot;What if everyone lived like you? Wouldn't the economy collapse?&quot; Jacob points out that there's essentially zero chance of everyone making that choice. Even if they did, after a period of adjustment the economy would be just fine &mdash; and the people (who, after all, matter a lot more than an abstraction like &quot;the economy&quot;) would be better than fine. Households that follow his plan are more stable; they're much less likely to need help from the government (or anyone else).</p> <p>One thread that runs through the whole book, but mostly lingers just below the surface, is that living this way is lighter on the planet. Consuming less means that the earth's resources don't need to be depleted on your behalf. Further, consuming less leads directly to producing less waste, further reducing your impact on the planet.</p> <p>Another book that describes a similar path &mdash; the classic <em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-your-money-or-your-life">Your Money or Your Life</a> </em>&mdash; is&nbsp;careful not to advocate any particular level of spending. Instead, it just advocates that you start being thoughtful about your choices &mdash; about just how much time and energy it takes to earn enough money to buy yet another thing that you'll use a few times and then store in an otherwise empty room. Although the author's own choices were just about as extreme as Jacob's, the book made a pretense of being neutral about how extreme your choices ought to be. Jacob, on the other hand, makes no such pretense. He's a strong advocate for being extreme.</p> <p>If there's a downside to Jacob's book, it's that it's probably only going to useful to people if it falls into their hands at just the right moment. Give it to people three years before they're ready, and they'll dismiss it as preposterous. Even one year before they're ready, they'll dismiss it as interesting but impractical &mdash; too extreme. Give it to people eighteen months later, and they'll say, &quot;Gee, this would have been useful a year ago.&quot;</p> <p>But if you give it to someone when they're ready for it, I have no doubt that <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/145360121X?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=145360121X">Early Retirement Extreme</a></em> will change that person's life.</p> <p><em>Note: I received a free review copy of the book, and links to the book title are affiliate links.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-early-retirement-extreme">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-handle-a-forced-early-retirement">5 Ways to Handle a Forced Early Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-work-less-live-more">Book review: Work Less, Live More</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-retire-on-less-than-you-think">Book review: Retire on Less Than You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/trading-work-for-never-ending-weekends-how-to-retire-early">Trading Work for Never-Ending Weekends: How to Retire Early</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement book review downsizing early retirement Wed, 24 Nov 2010 14:00:05 +0000 Philip Brewer 321161 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Downsize and Declutter http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-downsize-and-declutter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-downsize-and-declutter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bigstock_Finally_In_Our_New_Home_6706963cropped.jpg" alt="family and moving boxes" title="family and moving boxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>These past two years I've been wavering back and forth between continuing to <a title="When You Should and Shouldn't Rent" href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-you-should-and-shouldnt-rent">rent versus buying a house</a>. Since moving is something I dread, I started packing up my belongings months ago in anticipation of moving, and storing the boxes in one of my unused bedrooms. Many items have been packed away for over six months, leading me to think about downsizing and decluttering. For instance, do I really need that bread maker that's been packed for so long? When was the last time I used it? How many other items have I stored and haven't used in years?</p> <p>I'm not only unsure of what I've packed, but I'm storing them in an unused bedroom! Does this mean I don't really need a 3-bedroom home? I know I'm not the only person to store items away for months or years; the Stor-It and Public Storage facilities a few blocks from my house confirm that others have this same problem.</p> <p>My own packing behavior has lead me to think about downsizing and decluttering. So, I've devised a simple timeline for sorting and decluttering painlessly with a three-phase strategy: 3-month plan, 6-month plan, and the year-or-more plan. (See also: <a title="25 Easy Organizing Changes You Can Make Today" href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-easy-organizing-changes-you-can-make-today">25 Easy Organizing Changes You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <h2>3-Month Plan</h2> <p>Items that have been packed for three months or less are items I will keep. Obviously, these items are the most recently packed and are freshly imprinted in my brain. Many of these items include paintings that I intend to hang in my new place, linens that I will continue to use, and knick-knacks and keepsakes that I will cherish forever.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Keep It:</strong> Valuables and family heirlooms, pictures and paintings that are timeless, items that were used frequently and are intended to be used again in the same frequency.</li> </ul> <p>This short-term plan is geared more towards individuals planning on moving within a few months, as in my case. However, if these items become stored for longer than planned, then it's time to reevaluate and move to the next phase.</p> <h2>6-Month Plan</h2> <p>Six months ago, I became serious about moving and started packing items I hadn't used in a while with the idea that I would <em>eventually</em> use them again. Now that these items have been out of sight for six months or longer, I'm beginning to think that I really don't need them.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Reevaluate It:</strong> Knick-knacks that have little sentimental value, kitchen items and small appliances that haven't been used in a while or were used infrequently to begin with, extra linens and blankets that were rarely used.</li> </ul> <p>I'm realizing that many of the items I first packed were items I could live without, such as that bread maker and blender that were only used a handful of times. These items need to be scrutinized; I can obviously live without them.</p> <h2>Year-or-More Plan</h2> <p>I have a few large Rubbermaid bins in the garage that have been sitting untouched for five years. What's in them? I'm not really sure anymore. Thankfully, I have the space to store these items, as I don't think I'd still have them if I had to <em>pay</em> for storage.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Sell It / Chuck It:</strong> Many times, boxes that have been stored for a year or more are filled with unknown and forgotten items. I'm pretty sure that some of the items in my large bins include old lighting fixtures and dishes that haven't seen the light of day for half a decade. It's time to lighten the load by going through these bins and selling, recycling, or repurposing these old items.</li> </ul> <p>Storage facilities have been known to sell occupied units that have fallen delinquent in payment. Think about how the owner could have benefited had they just sold the items they weren't using?</p> <p>Obviously, not everyone can be so nonchalant about getting rid of items they've had for years. Yet, this simple timeline can help prioritize and reduce storage concerns and declutter a home. Thankfully, I don't consider myself a pack-rat and will be following my own guidelines this month.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/little-house">Little House</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-downsize-and-declutter">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-lessons-from-the-tiny-house-movement">Big Lessons From the Tiny House Movement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-easy-organizing-changes-you-can-make-today">25 Easy Organizing Changes You Can Make Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-why-self-storage-is-a-really-bad-idea">7 Reasons Why Self-Storage Is a Really Bad Idea</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-a-deep-declutter-can-improve-your-life">12 Ways a Deep Declutter Can Improve Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/organize-a-room-for-10-with-no-extra-effort">Organize a Room for $10 with No Extra Effort</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Organization decluttering downsizing moving packing storage Tue, 05 Oct 2010 13:00:12 +0000 Little House 254302 at http://www.wisebread.com Downsizing With Kids http://www.wisebread.com/downsizing-with-kids <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/downsizing-with-kids" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3894512145_d1f22c4c04_z.jpg" alt="dollhouse" title="dollhouse" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="195" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hi. My name is Sonja, and I am crazy.</p> <p>Now that you know, I can tell you that my husband and I are selling our modest cottage on half an acre to move onto a sailboat with our two small children. Most people aren't downsizing nearly as drastically as we are, but it got me thinking: Quite a number of people are, in one way or another, moving out of larger homes for smaller homes. Quite a lot of these people must have children as well. And as I come up with the solution to the first question people inevitably ask me, &ldquo;Where will your kids play?&rdquo; I'd like to pass on the solutions I've been contemplating.</p> <h2>1. Dump the Junk</h2> <p>If your kids are anything like mine, they could do with at least 50% less toys. Make it 75%. Go through the toys, clothes, shoes, and incidentals and have yourself a garage sale. Better yet, see what those toys are going for on eBay. For bigger furniture items, Craigslist will typically get you more cash than a garage sale. Take the cash you get and put it towards a Netflix membership or some small portable play options like video games.</p> <h2>2. Make Friends</h2> <p>This one is a lifeline if you're going to be living in cramped quarters with in-laws. Join groups, get active in the community or a local church and spread out, socially. Visiting with friends, having dinner at someone else's home, or having your kids play in someone's backyard will ease the loss of space and/or land you've had to sacrifice. Plus, it's great to have someone to talk to when things get tough.</p> <h2>3. Use What Your Community Offers</h2> <p>Seriously research parks and recreation and your local library for activities that are offered throughout the year for free or very low cost. It's a great way to feel connected within your community, and it gives your kids things to do so they don't talk so much about how hard it is to share a room with their baby brother.</p> <h2>4. Get a Family Pass</h2> <p>Use any cash you may have saved in the downsize to put towards a family pass. Look into children's museums, the zoo, theme parks, local swimming pools &mdash; whatever appeals to your kids the most and fits your budget. If you're out of work, ask about scholarships. Many places will give serious discounts. All you have to do is ask.</p> <h2>5. Look for a Community Garden</h2> <p>If you're missing your yard, look for a community garden to plant some greenery. If there isn't one, maybe you're the person who can organize it and get it started. Go in front of the community council and bring your kids while you propose a local garden. Not only will you be able to get involved, but you'll be teaching them the value of seeing a need in the neighborhood and filling it. Some community gardens donate a portion of their vegetable harvest to local food banks.</p> <h2>6. Volunteer</h2> <p>While I'm on the subject, the quickest way to get out of a funk is to do something nice for someone else. If you find yourself cramped, cranky and cantankerous, take the kids and go to an elderly home. Ask the front desk if there's anyone who needs a visit, or if they could use any help. Again, this is a great opportunity to teach your kids the value of reaching out. And who knows, you may walk away with another valued friendship.</p> <p>Downsizing usually happens because life throws us a curve ball. A divorce, sudden death, a job loss, or even having to move in to care for an ailing parent can cause stress on a family. It makes for some very tough choices. Keep the books, leave the stuffed animals. We had to give our precious black lab away (which was much harder on me than the kids).</p> <p>The best lessons in life aren't easy. Compassion, empathy and resilience can only be learned through tough times. It's good to keep that perspective as we watch our kids getting what's really important. And that doesn't include your own room complete with a princess-themed bed. Sorry, Josephine.</p> <p>If you have any ideas that have worked with your recent downsize, I'd love to hear them.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sonja-stewart">Sonja Stewart</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/downsizing-with-kids">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sell-your-kids-stuff-at-a-consignment-sale">How to Sell Your Kid&#039;s Stuff at a Consignment Sale</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-bad-money-habits-youre-teaching-your-kids">4 Bad Money Habits You&#039;re Teaching Your Kids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-easy-ways-to-keep-your-family-organized">8 Easy Ways to Keep Your Family Organized</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-tips-for-a-smooth-nanny-share">Five Tips for a Smooth Nanny Share</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-should-your-kids-know-about-your-finances">How Much Should Your Kids Know About Your Finances?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Home Lifestyle downsizing kids Wed, 01 Sep 2010 14:00:18 +0000 Sonja Stewart 225392 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Get Laid Off: A Step-By-Step Guide http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-laid-off-a-step-by-step-guide <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-laid-off-a-step-by-step-guide" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/907575_56607736.jpg" alt="The Axe" title="The Axe" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It seems ironic in this economy, and with a high unemployment rate, that anyone would want advice about getting kicked from a job. But last week a question was posed to me, and it was genuine &mdash; &ldquo;How do I get laid off?&rdquo;</p> <p>When I dug below the surface of the question, I realized that the person in question was just done with the job (<a href="http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1883614,00.html ">like this</a>), but didn&rsquo;t want to quit outright. Instead, being laid off was a <a href="http://dir.salon.com/story/tech/feature/2001/02/26/can_t_get_laid_off/index.html">more favorable option</a>, with reasons including severance pay, vesting for stock options, contractual obligations, and a much more fitting job opening up soon in another company. Some people even call this the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/economy/story/74721.html">no job vacation</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p>In this obviously rare situation, quitting is not ideal. Being <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lost-my-job-tips-for-the-recently-laid-off">laid off</a> is a better solution, but believe it or not, being let go or even &ldquo;fired&rdquo; can be difficult if you&rsquo;ve been doing everything right. You need to change the dynamic. As someone so tactfully explained to me, it&rsquo;s like purposely acting like a jerk in a relationship so that the other person breaks up with you.</p> <p>So, if you&rsquo;re in the awkward position of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-hate-my-job" title="&quot;I Hate My Job&quot; Guide">looking for a way out</a> of your current job, here are some tips I have received from different industry professionals and HR websites that give you a way out without destroying your career. Some are perfectly ethical, others, well you decide for yourself.</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.sxc.hu/pic/m/b/bt/btafly/1051811_exit_sign.jpg" /></p> <p><strong>To start with, the ethical list:</strong></p> <p>1. First and foremost, check in with HR to see what kind of severance pay and other benefits your company offers. You need to know where you stand.</p> <p>2. If all looks well, let HR know that you&rsquo;d volunteer to take redundancy if there was downsizing at the company. Not only are you making life a whole lot easier for HR, you&rsquo;re also planting the seed that you&rsquo;re not 100% committed to the job.</p> <p>3. Let other people take credit for your good work. And, adversely, you can take some of the blame for projects that went wrong. Even if you weren&rsquo;t actually working on it, people love a scapegoat.</p> <p>4. Nurture your own replacement. If you see a bright, shining star with serious ambition, you can let everyone know that they&rsquo;re perfect for your role. A few comments here and there like &ldquo;wow, that Brian kid is one amazing worker&hellip;he&rsquo;s even teaching me a thing or two, and I earn way more than him!&rdquo; OK, well choose your own words, but you get the idea.</p> <p>5. Start using up your remaining vacation time. This is free money and it&rsquo;s also a good way to get noticed for being absent a lot.</p> <p>6. Have a computer? It&rsquo;s time to become a web surfer. Employers really don&rsquo;t like you using the Internet at work to do your shopping and watch movie trailers. Don&rsquo;t be blatant about it, but if Ebay is on the screen whenever your boss walks by, it won&rsquo;t make you look like employee of the month.</p> <p>7. Sleep at your desk during your breaks. Not every day, but dozing off once in a while can certainly help you stand out as a mediocre employee. If you don&rsquo;t have a desk, use the break room or another public place. Remember, there&rsquo;s nothing that says you can&rsquo;t take a nap during your breaks&hellip;it just doesn&rsquo;t look great.</p> <p>8. Renegotiate your salary. It&rsquo;s usually a delicate subject but now, you have nothing to lose. It can give you the confidence to ask for more and you may just get it, giving you a reason to stay. If you have a new job offer, why not take the terms you received at your new job and ask your old job if they will match it?</p> <p>9. Look into employee benefits and start asking thoughtful, insightful questions. For instance, why doesn't your company have a day care program? What&rsquo;s the paternity leave policy? Can I get reimbursement for professional conferences? Start circulating this discussion among other employees. At the very least, you will stand out as a hero to them and, possibly, a thorn in the side of HR.</p> <p>10. Start enjoying every available company perk. If you have employee discount programs, use them often and in large amounts. If you get reimbursed for further education, take lots of classes.</p> <p>11. Talk enthusiastically about additional education and training in a field completely unrelated to your job. For example, if you work at a tech company, talk about how excited you are about getting your new real estate license.</p> <p>12. The most important rule, and the simplest: Do the minimum. Be less than you can be. You should never be exceeding expectations if you&rsquo;re looking for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-re-fired-20-signs-that-a-pink-slip-is-coming">pink slip</a>. As I heard once, &ldquo;she had delusions of mediocrity.&rdquo; So should you. This is a surefire way to place your head on the layoff chopping block, and when used with another tip from above, it could get you the pink slip and severance package you&rsquo;re looking for.</p> <p>Now, I also got a whole lot more tips that were phrased as &ldquo;more sketchy&rdquo; ways to get laid off or fired. I would say some of them are unpleasant, others just plain rude. I would also say that this is a list of <strong>things you should avoid</strong> in your quest for the pink slip. This may get you fired, but you don't want to burn a bridge completely that may affect your career later down the road.</p> <p><img src="http://www.sxc.hu/pic/m/b/ba/baikahl/238129_hands_thumbsdown.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>13. Take a look at the code of conduct for your office and begin to bend a few rules, or even break them. Start to mess around with the dress code. Play your music a little louder.</p> <p>14. Create your own, more flexible hours. Turning up five minutes late, taking longer lunch breaks and leaving early shows a nice lack of commitment.</p> <p>15. Redirect your efforts to the wrong places. Spend 8 hours on a pointless task that should take 30 minutes. Rush a job that needs more attention. You&rsquo;re still doing your job, but you&rsquo;re doing it poorly.</p> <p>16. Get noticed for all the wrong reasons. If you have a lot of meetings to go to, don&rsquo;t feel afraid to make comments that are completely inane or make no sense at all. You can also say nothing, and spend the whole meeting doodling and staring out of the window. Put you phone on extra-loud and get people to call you all day. Let your appearance go, stop brushing your hair, allow a stain or two to appear on your shirts.</p> <p>17. Be annoying. A great way to do this is to start cornering people with pointless questions that are a waste of time. Spend 10 minutes discussing something that should take 10 seconds. Ask the most obvious questions that you should already know the answers to. Hang around in the coffee room and start long conversations. When people start to avoid you, you&rsquo;re on your way.</p> <p>18. Become the biggest naysayer in history. Now, every idea is a bad idea. Nothing will work. The coffee tastes bad. The boss sucks. No one wants to work with someone so negative, and it puts you at the top of the lay-off pile.</p> <p>19. Stop smiling. Be miserable. Act depressed. Remove yourself from conversations. Use one word answers. If you can&rsquo;t annoy people with your loud music and silly comments, you can get under their skin by being about as much fun as a funeral.</p> <p>20. Start forgetting things. Small things, big things, just have a memory like a cargo net. From meetings you should be at, to vital tasks, this is another surefire way to raise the red flag that your time has come.</p> <p>21. Interrupt people, often, and with nothing more to add. That guy who keeps butting in when you&rsquo;re talking, only to basically repeat what you just said, well maybe he&rsquo;s looking for a way out of the door.</p> <p>22. Memorize a bunch of useless quotes and start repeating them whenever possible, especially if they&rsquo;re out of context. You can make quite an impression in a meeting if you&rsquo;re asked for projected sales figures and instead come back with &ldquo;Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth.&rdquo;</p> <p>23. Send emails &ldquo;accidentally&rdquo; to the wrong people, revealing facts and figures that should not have been revealed. If the boss gets an email from you that was clearly meant for someone else, and the contents are less than flattering, that will certainly be a red mark against you. You can also send pointless or personal emails to the whole company instead of just friends, like a funny youtube video or your own ad for a garage sale.</p> <p>24. Be messy. Stop cleaning up after yourself in the break room. Miss the trash can when you throw things away. Leave your office or cubicle looking like the aftermath of a twister. Untidy is one thing. Being a slob is quite another.</p> <p>25. Use the office equipment for personal use, including job searching (obviously not the actual one you&rsquo;re going to). It may even be prudent to leave your resume in the photocopier. And make plenty of personal calls, preferably talking loudly while doing so.</p> <p>26. Do not keep secrets. If the boss tells you something private and personal, and asks you to keep your mouth shut, you may want to let that one slip out.</p> <p>27. Start parking in the reserved spots. It will really bug those people who think a reserved car parking spot is important, and they will most likely be in charge.</p> <p>28. Become a prankster on a daily basis. Whoopee cushions under chairs in the meeting rooms. Fart gas. Glue on the phones. Once is enough, but when you keep doing it you become a disruptive pain.</p> <p>So there you have it; some advice to follow, and even more advice to avoid. Do you have any more tips? Do you think anyone trying to get laid off is just asking for trouble? Let us know. And remember, this is not advice for most of us &mdash; just the few people who desperately want an exit strategy.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-laid-off-a-step-by-step-guide">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-reasons-you-deserve-to-get-fired">12 Reasons You Deserve to Get Fired</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-youre-being-a-terrible-employee">12 Ways You&#039;re Being a Terrible Employee</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/didnt-get-the-raise-ask-for-this-instead">Didn&#039;t Get the Raise? Ask for This, Instead</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-re-fired-20-signs-that-a-pink-slip-is-coming">You’re Fired! 20 Signs That a Pink Slip is Coming</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-important-signs-that-your-job-sucks">10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building benefits downsizing fired How-To Guide hr pink slip severance Fri, 23 Oct 2009 15:00:03 +0000 Paul Michael 3746 at http://www.wisebread.com