Financial Planning for a Baby: The Costs of Raising a Child

This infographic breaks down some of the expected—and not-so-expected—costs for your budget.

Babies are one of the miracles of life. Also miraculous is the growing cost of raising a child, which is why financial planning for a baby can be so important. From birth, through childhood, to adolescence (oh, the fun times) and into young adulthood, having children means a range of expenses. New expenses. This is where financial planning for new parents comes in.

If you’re planning for a child or about to welcome a new addition to the family (congrats!) and you want to prepare for a baby financially, here’s a breakdown of the expected—and some of the not-so-expected—costs to consider for your budget:

Financial Planning for a Baby Infographic

Although the numbers associated with raising a child can be eye-opening, and perhaps intimidating, it’s not that difficult to prepare for a baby financially. It just takes some organization, forward thinking and careful financial planning for a baby. That means spending less while raising a family and saving wisely with your online savings account. By planning ahead and being prepared, you’ll make financial planning for new parents look like a breeze and enjoy the ride of parenting.

Source: discover.com

Most Affordable (and Warm) Places to WFH This Winter

Remember that warm-weather place you cherished as a winter getaway back in those hazy, crazy, pre-pandemic days of, say, 2019? What would it be like to live there year-round?

For more Americans, this alluring fantasy has become a reality, especially during this particularly bleak COVID-19 winter. As office and home, work and play blend together in this pandemic age, areas that once served as sunny vacation respites from chillier climes are emerging as desirable long-term locations for remote workers—and that’s been a game changer for real estate markets across the country.

“Traditionally, winter is a season when many residents of northern, colder states move south to enjoy the warmer weather in states nearer the Gulf Coast,” says George Ratiu, senior economist for realtor.com®. “This year, the migration is compounded by the COVID pandemic, leading lots of residents from the Northeast and Midwest to seek not only a seasonal escape but a permanent home.”

One driving force: These are often much cheaper places to buy a home, in an era when working remotely is becoming a viable long-term option. While expensive cities have long held a monopoly on great jobs, it now turns out that you don’t actually have to pay for an overpriced, undersized urban apartment to make a great salary. And housing data shows that house hunters from snowy states have been bidding on homes in warmer and more affordable markets in Southern markets for a change of lifestyle, weather, and cost of living.

To find the most affordable warm-weather destinations where folks can ride out the rest of the pandemic—and well beyond—the realtor.com data team scoured the United States for counties with high median temperatures for January and February, lower cost of living with median home prices below $350,000, actual inventory, access to cultural and outdoor amenities, and high-speed internet so it’s possible to get work done. We also factored in the number of vacation rentals in each county just in case there’s a need to rent the place out.

So why not escape that tiny, overpriced apartment amid the polar vortex gales to somewhere you can actually thaw out this winter—and possibly every winter? Spring and summer, too!  Let’s take a tour of your potential new WFH headquarters.

Infographic: Warm-weather escapes
Infographic: Warm-weather escapes

Tony Frenzel for realtor.com

Median home price: $275,000

Tampa Bay residents are still celebrating their Super Bowl win, but the area has a lot more going for it than Tom Brady. The metro boasts 246 days of sunshine per year, average February temperatures in the 70s, and some of the softest sand in the continental U.S. along the Gulf Coast beaches in Pinellas County.

The county, which sits along the Gulf of Mexico, across the bay from Tampa, has seen an influx of home buyers from colder, more expensive places like Illinois, Minnesota, and even New York, who have been snatching up real estate.

“We are having New Yorkers come to the Gulf Coast,” says Terry Tillung, real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Realty. “There used to be separation where East Coast people would come to the east coast of Florida and Midwesterners would come here. We’re seeing a shift now.”

Those Northeasterners and others from cold climes have been trading out their cramped apartments for homes near the water, including this two-bedroom condo with killer views of Clearwater Beach listed for $250,000 and this two-bedroom house in St. Petersburg Beach on the market for $245,000.

Median listing price: $339,900

The Intracoastal Waterway as it bisects a residential neighborhood in the Pompano Beach area of South Florida just north of Fort Lauderdale.
The Intracoastal Waterway as it bisects a residential neighborhood in the Pompano Beach area of South Florida just north of Fort Lauderdale.

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As winter approached, remote workers from New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Chicago, and pricey California began flocking to Broward County’s beaches in droves. The area, home to Fort Lauderdale, is just north of Miami-Dade and all of its world-class cultural offerings, but boasts a more chill vibe.

Its beachfront strip, once infamous for spring break shenanigans, now boasts high-end restaurants. Walkable and sophisticated Las Olas Boulevard attracts visitors from across the region who want to eat, shop, and drink.

Plus, the area boasts a wide range of housing at a wide range of prices. For just $269,000, buyers can get into this two-bedroom condo right next to one of the nicest beaches in Fort Lauderdale. And those who want newer homes with more space and better public schools can drive 20 minutes west to find places like this three-bedroom townhouse in desirable Cooper City listed at $299,900. But these days, buyers need to move fast.

“It’s been a complete frenzy,” says Samantha DeBianchi, estate agent for DeBianchi Real Estate. “If I put a home on the market and it’s priced right, I’ll get five calls within the first 30 minutes.”

Median listing price: $225,000

According to the San Diego Audubon Society, Corpus Christi is “America’s birdiest place.” The large, shallow bay on which it lies attracts diverse flocks of water birds, songbirds, and raptors that bring in avian aficionados from across the U.S. But it’s not just amateur ornithologists who have been migrating here.

The family-friendly metro is protected from the Gulf of Mexico by the gorgeous Padre and Mustang islands, which offer outdoor activities ranging from beach combing and watching sea turtles hatch to camping and paddling trails—along with plenty of tourists looking to rent vacation homes during season.

Those homes are a steal. Starting in the mid-$100,000 range, buyers can get into condos with a view, including this two-bedroom on the water listed at $144,500 or a single-family nearby for a couple of hundred thousand more, including this three-bedroom house listed for $279,900.

Median listing price: $175,000

Pelicans on Padre Island National Seashore
Pelicans on Padre Island National Seashore

iStock

One county south of Nueces, Cameron County, home to Padre Island National Seashore and Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, has the same warm winter weather (average highs are in the 60s) with even more nature access and cheaper real estate. For $159,000, house hunters can get into this three-bedroom home in Laguna Vista, right near the waterfront and the wildlife refuge. Folks seeking a beach lifestyle can find a two-bedroom condo in the hub of South Padre Island for $172,500.

Median listing price: $179,800

Subdivision in Yuma, AZ
Subdivision in Yuma, AZ

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There’s a reason Yuma County is called “America’s salad bowl.” The border region produces much of the lettuce, broccoli, and other leafy greens that Americans eat during the winter months. That’s because with highs in the mid-70s come February, plants can get all the sun they need to thrive when much of the rest of the country is frozen over.

The idyllic weather is reason enough to pack your bags and head south, but the landscape is just as impressive. It’s home to Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, a 665,400-acre preserve with one of the largest herds of desert bighorn sheep in the Southwest, deer, foxes, and a wide variety of plants, some found only in this small slice of the Grand Canyon state.

Yuma County has plenty of affordable options for those seeking to thaw out through the winter, from relaxing retreats in the desert, such as this two-bedroom on an acre of land in Wellton for $139,900, to nice spreads in town with a pool, like this three-bedroom listed at $174,900.

Median listing price: $179,000

Terrebonne Parish is known as a paradise for outdoor activities, where locals spend their free time hiking through nature preserves and hunting and fishing in the freshwater bayous and the Gulf of Mexico. Because everyone is outside so much anyway, the pandemic hasn’t changed that much in terms of everyday life.

“My house is on the water, so COVID times did not even affect me,” says Melanie Rogers Bruce, real estate agent with Keller Williams Bayou Partners. “I sit out on my little dock, and any stress I have goes away.”

While the area does boast multimillion-dollar waterfront homes, the $250,000 to $400,000 range gets the most action. At that price, buyers can get their own little “camp,” a waterfront house raised on stilts with a dock, including this cute three-bedroom with a boat lift for $259,900.

Median listing price: $175,000

One parish over from Terrebonne and just a hop, skip, and a jump from all the action and music of New Orleans, Lafourche Parish offers a similarly outdoorsy lifestyle to its outlying neighbor with the same mild winter climate. But the area also gives Nueces County (see above) a run for its money in birding.

From fall through spring, a diverse array of migratory birds including herons, egrets, and hummingbirds spends time in the county’s idyllic pockets of salt marsh, shallow bays, grassy meadows, and shady live oak forests.

“It is one of the biggest bird-watching communities in the nation, and there’s monarch butterfly migration,” says Rogers Bruce. “Really it’s great for any kind of outdoor animal watching.”

Nature lovers can get into their own base near Grand Isle at prices starting around $200,000, including this $225,000 four-bedroom.

Median listing price: $254,900

Savannah, GA
Savannah, GA

iStock

Savannah’s oak-covered squares and historic homes have been drawing new residents seeking a calmer (and warmer) pace of life for the past decade or so, but the city has offered yet another carrot to lure remote workers since COVID-19 roiled big tech centers: a $2,000 reimbursement for relocaters.

With its great restaurants, quaint streets, and gorgeous nearby beaches, it’s no surprise that this year has seen a massive influx of Northerners.

Buyers who want to be right near the historic core—and take advantage of the city’s moving incentive—can find small houses with compact yards starting in the $200,000s, including this two-bedroom cottage listed for $239,000.

Median listing price: $260,000

Tucson and greater Pima County have been growing steadily over the past decade. This Sun Belt city’s population has grown by a healthy 6.8% in the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Even more people have been coming in since COVID-19 hit. Remote workers from California, Nevada, and beyond have been snatching up fully contained spreads with room for entertaining (outdoors, obviously) and private pools, including this $260,000 four-bedroom and this $260,000 three-bedroom on an acre just outside Tucson Mountain Park.

“Everyone wants amenities now,” says Jen Anderson of the Jen Anderson Team, Long Realty.

Median listing price: $177,900

Biloxi beach in Harrison County, MS
Biloxi beach in Harrison County, MS

iStock

Want to know where you can buy a single-family house just steps from the beach for less than $200,000? Look to Mississippi, specifically Harrison County. The popular second-home and retirement area offers mild winter temperatures (highs in the 60s), a plethora of outdoor activities, frequent events (in normal times), and incredibly affordable housing, including this four-bedroom ranch right near the sand in Pass Christian listed for $185,000.

Mississippi’s beaches, which have been dubbed the Secret Coast, traditionally haven’t drawn as much attention as Florida, Alabama, and other coastal states, but that’s started to change as more buyers from cold places like Michigan and Colorado have been buying up homes and land.

“Many people don’t realize what a gem we have here, but I think the word is getting out,” says Wendy Hope Boyd, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty.

Source: realtor.com

How Microlearning Can Level Up Your Knowledge

If you’re looking to advance your career or pivot to a new industry, then you’re probably checking out ways you can beef up your resume. Maybe you’re considering an MBA, a bootcamp, or browsing upcoming conferences. Or perhaps you’re considering the DIY route and looking for podcast and book recommendations. 

While any of these options will help you learn and could boost your resume, the best way to level up your career prospects is to dedicate yourself to becoming a lifelong learner, which is where microlearning comes into play. 

Conferences and classes are bursting with information, but you may feel limited by the course schedule and teaching style. This works for some people, but it can be expensive and hard to fit into a budget or daily schedule. Microlearning can help you take charge of your education by providing bite-sized lessons. Over time, you can build up your learnings for a more thorough and robust understanding of the subject. 

The best part is you can apply your specific lessons to your life, career, and goals to build each of these out over time and see what really works and what doesn’t. Your consistent growth can improve job satisfaction and career opportunities, putting you in the spotlight for the next raise or promotion. Learn more below or jump to our infographic to get started.

What Is Microlearning?

Microlearning has become a popular workplace trend as a learning process that breaks topics into highly specific, concise lessons. This allows the learner to build understanding and confidence at their own pace.

Microlearning is great for tackling new information and closing knowledge gaps. If you already have a foundation of knowledge for a topic, then it can be frustrating to wade through the basics for the few new ideas you were looking for. Khan Academy and TED Talks are a great example of how you may fill in knowledge gaps. 

The Benefits of Microlearning

The most important part of any lesson plan is that it’s tailored to a learner’s needs, and that the learner is actually able to retain information. Microlearning’s flexibility for learners is one of its biggest benefits.

illustration highlighting the benefits of microlearning

Here are some other reasons to consider microlearning:

  • Maximize time by preparing lessons for on-the-go and fitting them in during breaks or commutes.
  • Go in-depth to build a solid learning foundation and improve retention with practice. 
  • Find what works by experimenting with videos, articles, or podcasts to find what format works best for you. 
  • Save money with free resources like TED Talks, YouTube, and expert podcast hosts who provide episodic insights and lessons for you to follow. 
  • Fill knowledge gaps with lessons targeting exactly what you need to know instead of wading through beginner resources. 

The Disadvantages of Microlearning

Microlearning is great for career development, employee training, and specific topics that you could use a refresher on. However, they’re not a total replacement for other learning systems, and you should keep these in mind when you get started:

  • It’s not immediate and microlearning is about regular commitments to learning.
  • It isn’t easier, but it may feel easier. This is actually a benefit unless you assume it will be easy. You still have to actively learn and practice your lessons. 
  • Some topics just don’t work, including complicated topics like global economics. It’s great for learning about things like mortgages, but you likely won’t become an expert on personal finance in just a few lessons. 
  • There’s work upfront to finding and compiling the resources that fit your needs and that you trust. This work pays off in the long-run, though, with easy-to-access lessons. 

5 Ways to Begin Microlearning

You may not realize it, but you’ve probably already prioritized microlearning in your day-to-day life. If you’ve watched a YouTube video to learn how to change your oil or customize a spreadsheet, then you know exactly how beneficial short, specific, and detailed lessons can be. 

89% of employees feel more productive when their work is gamified with rewards

Here are some ways you can get started using microlearning as part of your professional development:

1. Game Groups

Gamifying your learning helps make the topic fun and builds a positive relationship with studying. You can get started by setting goals and rewards, or inviting peers to join you with a competitive leaderboard or a trivia night. 

2. Video Clips

Videos are designed to be relatively short and engaging, and YouTube has made learning largely accessible from anywhere. While YouTube playlists are a great place to learn, make sure you’ve done your research on any channels or personalities you’re watching to ensure your lessons are accurate. 

3. Podcast Playlists

Like videos, podcasts are a great way to consume information on the go and from personalities you enjoy and trust. They’ve become hugely popular because they’re easy to listen to while driving, working, or exercising, but it’s important that you give your playlist your active attention if you hope to learn effectively. 

4. Quiz Collections

Considering a quiz may bring flashbacks of test anxiety and stressful finals weeks, but in this scenario, quizzing isn’t about checking a box that you learned something new. Instead, it’s a means to practice your memory recall and retention so you can count on it when you need it most. 

5. Team Talks

Having a team to study with is not only great for motivation, but it can also improve your lesson retention. Active learning is the process of working or chatting through a subject or problem, and studies show this is the best way to learn and practice your skills. 

Keeping up with your professional development is the best way to impress your employer and expand your job prospects. Whether you want to climb the career ladder or ease your daily workload, microlearning can help you level up your skills, prove your value, and earn you more money come your next review.

infographic on microlearning techniques and benefits

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