How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

There are so many fashion trends that come and go; but what does that mean for your pockets? You’re left overspending, making impulse decisions, or buying items because others are doing the same thing. Remember, fashion is a personal experience. It’s unique to each one of us as we all express our personal style in different ways. The cost of living along with everyday essentials are on the rise; what are a few ways to remain stylish while making sure it’s budget friendly? Use the following tips to build a classic wardrobe that’s always on trend – no matter the occasion.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe consists of a set of tops, bottoms, outerwear, shoes, and various accessories that are versatile and can be mixed based on occasion to create a multitude of looks. The focal point of a capsule wardrobe is to own more on quality pieces that can transcend through the various seasons.

Ranging from between 25 – 75 pieces (or more; just depends on your preference) the key is to be able to identify all your clothing items easily and severely cut down on the time it takes to decide what you’re going to wear from day-to-day. Your new wardrobe should be able to reflect you personally while also remaining super functional.

Step 1: Take an assessment of your closet

Before we get started with hitting our favorite stores or buying everything online; take note of what’s currently in your closet. Begin to create a few mounds of clothes – keep, purge, and repurpose piles. What are the items that no longer fit? What items don’t necessarily fit your personal style anymore?

Be honest with yourself during this exercise. For example, if the clothes fit but you haven’t worn them within the past six months, chances are you may not be in love with them like you thought during the initial purchase. Also consider gently used clothes that are still in good shape to donate or sell to a consignment shop. The funds made from items already in your closet can go toward new pieces for your capsule wardrobe! Consider your current lifestyle as well – are you self-employed, working a 9-5 or a stay-at-home parent? All of this will impact your personal decisions as it relates to clothing.

To streamline this process even further, take pictures of the items you’re going to keep and have them all in one album on your phone. This way, you’re able to track each piece you have before making any new purchases. We often believe we have nothing to wear when it’s time to get dressed – when we really are just unsure of what we have. Reprogram your mind to utilize what you already have versus spending out of impatience and frustration.

Step 2: Identify your personal style and experiment

Social media exposes us to so many people, their personal styles and fashion inspirations. When you take a step back from everyone else’s thoughts and opinions; who inspires you? Create a mood board with outfits that pique your interest, that are classic in nature and are flattering to your body type. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are these pieces something I’m going to love years from now?
  • Will I feel confident no matter the occasion?
  • Does this fit my work and personal lifestyle?
  • Am I committed to investing in quality items?

Answering these truthfully are a great baseline to tailoring your wardrobe for you – regardless of what’s ever changing on social media. Next is the fun part; begin experimenting with what’s in your closet! Make sure all your items are in one area in your closet or buy a fashion rack so you’re able to easily identify your growing capsule wardrobe. Using either of these methods should not only cut down your decision time when getting dressed, it gives you the opportunity to create multiple looks with the same pieces. The main goal is functionality – make sure it’s adaptable to your lifestyle and its’ demands.

Step 3: Spend wisely and fight the urge against fast fashion

Quality over quantity is the mantra to live by when wanting to build a capsule wardrobe. Think about it in this way – how can you remain timeless while also having a distinct personal style?

When you’re looking for items to add to your capsule, focus on durability and quality. There’s no point in buying a lot of clothes that can’t withstand a few cycles in the washing machine (lack of quality) or shopping for one specific event (non-functional pieces). Refer to the pictures that’ve been taken of your current items so they’re handy during any shopping trip. Don’t forget to leverage consignment shops or thrift stores during this process. Bulkier, yet timeless items such as trench coats or vests with neutral colors can often be found. If you find that shopping for each season initially is too difficult, begin offseason shopping. During the summer, fall and winter clothes can be reduced heavily in price; use these opportunities as a cost savings.

Step 4: Take your time and have fun!

Transitioning from your current wardrobe to a fully functional one isn’t easy. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to finalize each piece in your closet over a designated amount of time. Not only is that not realistic, but it’s also expensive (which partly defeats the purpose) and stressful. This should be a fun, experimental, yet intentional time.

Take note of the outfits you enjoy the most. What about them makes you confident? You’ll discover you love every item in your closet versus simply dealing with pieces to complete an outfit. Take a note of items that may be currently missing from your wardrobe that can be worn at least three ways.

Taking this into account, you’ll be able to add those items into your rotation easily. Every purchase should be strategic and purposeful. While others are chasing trends that change every season, you’ll be peaceful and empowered with a wardrobe distinctly curated by you and your wants.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Marsha Barnes

Marsha Barnes is a finance guru with over 20 years of experience dedicates her efforts to empower women worldwide to become financially thriving. Financial competency and literacy are a passion of Marsha’s, providing practical information for clients increasing their overall confidence in their personal finances. More from Marsha Barnes

Source: mint.intuit.com

Swimming Pool Financing: What to Know and Best Pool Loans

Who doesn’t love a relaxing dip in the swimming pool on a sweltering, hot day? And when that swimming pool is in your backyard, it’s even better.

You could bring your friends together over the summer by hosting pool parties. You could teach your kids to swim right at home. If you rent out your place on Airbnb or Vrbo, you could fetch top dollar for the additional amenity.

Sounds like a dream.

If your house didn’t already come with a pool when you moved in, there’s still a possibility of turning your pool fantasies into reality if you have enough space.

And if you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars upfront to spend on a pool construction project, there’s always pool financing.

What Is Pool Financing?

Pool financing is when you borrow money from a financial institution or lender to cover the costs of building a pool. Pool construction typically costs anywhere from $17,971 to $46,481 with the average cost being around $32,059, according to HomeAdvisor.

Of course, the cost will vary based on the size, the type of pool, your location and where you plan to build the pool on your property. Adding a small plunge pool to a cleared, flat space in your backyard will cost considerably less than adding a resort-style pool with waterfalls and a jacuzzi to your property that requires you to cut down multiple trees and level the land.

Besides the personal enjoyment that comes along with having a pool, this addition to your home could boost your property value and make your home more desirable to future buyers, renters or short-term guests.

The high cost to install a pool means that many people rely on pool financing. There are several ways to go about getting a loan for a pool.

Options for Pool Financing

If you want to add a pool to your property, but don’t have the cash upfront, you have several options.

You could get a personal loan (sometimes referred to as a pool loan), a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit or a cash-out refinance. Some pool builders or retailers offer in-house loan programs through their partner lenders. You might also consider using a credit card as your method of financing.

Personal Loans (AKA Pool Loans)

Pool loans are unsecured personal loans offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders. You may be able to get a pool loan through the financial institution where you already have existing accounts, or you might choose to get financed from an online lender or financing consultant company that deals exclusively with pool loans and home improvement loans.

One of the benefits of personal loans is that you don’t have to offer up any collateral. If you stop making payments and default on your loan, you don’t have to worry about your house being foreclosed — though the lender still could sue you. If approved for an unsecured personal loan, you can usually receive funds within a couple of days, much quicker than some other financing options.

Because you don’t have any collateral backing the loan, however, these financing options can come with higher interest rates. Interest rates can start around 3% and go up to about 36%.

A borrower’s credit score, credit history, income and existing debt load all affect the interest rate.

Personal loan terms generally range from about two to 12 years — though some pool loans can have terms up to 20 years or more. You can get loans from $1,000 to over $200,000 to fund simple above-ground pools or elaborate in-ground pool projects.

Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans are essentially when you tap into the equity you have in your home and take out a second mortgage. If you have a significant amount of equity, you could finance your pool project this way.

Home equity loans generally have lower interest rates than personal loans because your home is used as collateral. If you default on your loan, the lender could foreclose on your home.

Also, with home equity loans you’ll face additional fees, like a home appraisal cost and closing costs, so be sure to factor that into your decision making.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A home equity line of credit or HELOC also taps into the equity you have in your home, but it’s a revolving line of credit that you can use for several years instead of a loan that provides you with one lump sum of cash.

With a HELOC, you can pull out funds as needed to finance your pool construction and other home improvement projects. While you’ll only pay back what you borrow, the interest on HELOCs are usually adjustable rates rather than fixed rates. That means your monthly payments can increase during your repayment period.

Cash-Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance is essentially when you replace your existing mortgage with a new mortgage that exceeds what you owe on the house and you take out the difference in cash.

You can then use that lump sum to pay for your pool, and you’ll pay it back throughout the course of your new mortgage — over the next 10 to 30 years depending on your loan terms.

A cash-out refinance might make sense if you’re able to get a lower interest rate than your current mortgage. However, just like with a home equity loan or HELOC, your home is being used as collateral, and you’ll face additional fees involved in the refinancing process.

In-House Financing from the Pool Builder

Some pool companies may directly provide you with pool financing offers, so you don’t have to search for financing on your own. The pool companies typically aren’t offering the loan to you themselves, but they’ve partnered with a lender or network of lenders to provide you with financing options.

This type of financing is the same as applying for a personal loan or pool loan. The benefit is that you get a one-stop-shop experience instead of having to reach out to lenders individually. Your pool contractor may even be able to assist you through the loan process.

The downside is that you could potentially miss out on a better deal by only getting quotes from the pool company’s partnered lenders.

Credit Cards

Because of their high interest rates, credit cards are usually not recommended as options for financing a new swimming pool. However, there can be situations where it’d make sense.

If you’re able to open a zero-interest credit card and pay the balance back before the zero-interest period expires, paying with a credit card can be a great option — especially if it’s a rewards card that’ll give you points, airline miles or cash-back for spending or a bonus just for opening the account.

If you choose this financing option, be sure that you’ll be able to pay off the balance in a relatively short period of time. Most credit cards only offer zero-interest periods for the first 12 to 21 months. After that your interest rate could go up to 18% or more.

Pool Loan Comparisons

Getting quotes from multiple lenders will help you select the best deal for your pool construction project. Here’s what a few top lenders are currently offering.

Lyon Financial

Best for Long Loan Terms

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Pays the pool contractor directly
  • 600 minimum credit score
  • Offers military discounts

Lyon Financial is a financing consultant that has been in business since 1979 and works with a network of lenders to provide loans for pool and home improvement projects. Unlike personal loans that provide the borrower with the funds upfront, Lyon Financial disburses the funding directly to the pool builder in stages as the project progresses.

Lyon Financial

APR (interest rates)

As low as 2.99%

Maximum loan amount

$200,000

Loan terms

Up to 25 years

HFS Financial

Best for Large Pool Loans

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Provides loans up to $500,000
  • Most loans are funded within 48 hours
  • No prepayment penalties

HFS Financial is a financing company that partners with third-party lenders to provide homeowners with the money to construct pools on their property. Use their “60 second loan application” to kick off the loan process. Funds are typically dispersed within 48 hours.

HFS Financial

APR (interest rates)

As low as 2.99%

Maximum loan amount

$500,000

Loan terms

Up to 20 years

Viking Capital

Best for Customer Service

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Supports a network of pool builders
  • 650 minimum credit score
  • Offers military discounts

Viking Capital is a family-owned business that has been in operation since 1999. The company acts in the capacity of a financial consultant, and partners with a network of lenders to provide multiple loan offers for pool construction projects.

Viking Capital

APR (interest rates)

As low as 5.49%

Maximum loan amount

$125,000

Loan terms

Up to 20 years

5 Steps to Securing Pool Financing

Follow these steps to secure a loan for your pool.

1. Determine What Monthly Payments You Can Afford

Before you dig into your pool financing options, you should be clear on what monthly payment you can afford. Having a pool is a luxury. You don’t want a pool construction project to jeopardize your ability to pay your bills and meet your needs.

Figure out how much disposable income you have to work with by comparing your monthly earnings to how much you typically spend each month.

Don’t forget to factor in maintenance and additional utilities usage when estimating how much you can afford to go toward pool costs.

2. Check Your Credit History

When you’re financing a pool, having a good or excellent credit score will help you secure a loan with a low interest rate. Ideally, your credit score should be 700 or above.

Some lenders may offer you financing if you have fair or poor credit, however you may have to pay a lot more over time due to higher interest rates.

To boost your credit score before applying for a pool loan, follow these steps.

3. Get Cost Estimates for Your Pool

Talk with pool builders to get estimates on the total cost of your desired pool project. Get estimates from multiple pool companies so you have a better idea of what options exist.

If the estimates come in higher than you expected, consider scaling down the size of your pool project or using different materials.

Make sure any additional work — like constructing safety fencing — is included in your estimate.

4. Choose What Type of Financing Your Prefer and Shop Around For Lenders

After you figure out what options are available within your budget, it’s time to decide on what type of financing you prefer.

Will you be applying for an unsecured loan or do you plan to tap into your home equity or refinance your mortgage? Are you going to purchase a small above-ground pool that you could pay off in 15 months using a zero-interest credit card?

Once you know what type of financing you’ll go with, reach out to multiple lenders so you can compare offers and choose the best deal. You may be able to use a competitor’s lower offer to get a lender to reduce their offer even further.

5. Complete Loan Application and Sign Off on All Paperwork

The final step to get your pool project financed is to complete any additional paperwork and sign off on the dotted line. Expect to provide information about your income and other existing debt.

Your credit score may take a dip after taking on new debt, but it should rebound as you make regular, on-time payments.

Alternatives to Pool Financing

Taking on debt for a new pool doesn’t have to be your only option.

You could put off your pool construction project for a few years and save up for the expense in cash. Open a high-yield savings account to use as a sinking fund and don’t make withdrawals from the account until you’ve reached your savings goal.

If you think you’re outgrowing your current home — or are looking to downsize — wait until you’re ready to move and then look for a new home with an existing pool.

Or if you’re okay with not having a pool in your backyard, you’ll save money by visiting public pools or renting private pools from Swimply on occasion. This is a good option if you think you wouldn’t get much regular use of having your own pool.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many years can you refinance a pool for?

You can finance a pool over 20 to 30 years, depending on the type of financing you secure. If you need decades to pay back the loan, you might consider refinancing your mortgage or taking out a second mortgage. Private, unsecured loans typically need to be repaid sooner, however some have loan terms of 20 years or more.

What is the best way to finance a pool?

It all depends on your individual circumstances and preferences. If you’ve built up a ton of equity in your home and want to spread your debt payments over a lot of time, you might lean toward a home equity loan or HELOC. If you’ve got excellent credit and would qualify for a low-interest personal loan (unsecured loan), that might be the better option.

What credit score do you need for pool financing?

Ideally, you’ll want to have a credit score of 700 or higher to get the best interest rates for pool financing. Some companies, however, will accept lower credit scores. As a result, your loan may have a higher interest rate.

What is a good interest rate for a pool loan?

An interest rate around 5% is a good deal for a pool loan. You may be able to find rates even lower if you have excellent credit.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

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Additional Resources

Adoption is a life-changing journey. Whether the choice to adopt comes after years of expensive infertility treatments or is a route you’ve always wanted to take, the choice to welcome a new family member is rarely a financial one, but rather a decision of the heart.

But at some point, prospective adoptive parents have to consider the costs. It’s unlikely your decision to adopt will boil down to numbers. But it helps to know what to expect. 

The figures can vary depending on your adoption journey, from almost nothing to upward of $70,000. But you can use them as a baseline to help you financially prepare for starting a family and to make an informed decision about which type of adoption makes the most sense for you.


How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

There are three basic types of adoption: domestic infant adoption (sometimes called private adoption), international adoption, and public adoption. 


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But if you’re looking to adopt a baby, private and international adoption are the only two real options. Because of the way the foster care system operates, it’s exceedingly rare to be able to adopt an infant through public adoption. Their primary goal is reunifying families whenever possible, which can take years.     

But regardless of your adopted child’s age, some costs are common to all three, such as the expense of a home study, which involves visits by a social worker and background and financial checks. Other costs are unique to the adoption route you choose, such as the travel expenses involved with international adoption.

And the costs vary wildly, so it’s crucial you understand the ins and outs of each adoption type.


Domestic Infant Adoption

When adopting a baby in the United States, you have two options: adopting through an agency or independent adoption.

Costs of Adopting an Infant Through an Agency: $25,000 – $70,000 

Adopting through an agency is more expensive, but there’s also a higher success rate. Also, some agencies offer a sliding scale for those who need help affording adoption, which can potentially save you a few thousand dollars, depending on your income. However, each state has its own laws that regulate adoption fees, including sliding scale fee structures. 

Average Costs of Domestic Agency Adoption

Agency Fees $15,000 – $45,000
Legal Fees $2,500 – $6,000
Birth Mother Expenses $4,000 – $16,250
Home Study Fee $2,750

Adoption agencies are typically full-service operations. Thus, their fees generally include everything involved in the adoption process, which can be complex. The journey to bring a child home involves many parties, including attorneys, social workers, physicians, counselors, government administrators, and adoption specialists. 

There are also costs associated with matching birth parents and adoptive parents. For example, there are advertising expenses to find expectant mothers. And then there are medical expenses and court costs to ensure the health of the mother and child during pregnancy as well as the safety and security of the child after placement.

When you adopt through an agency, it typically completes the entire process from beginning to end, hence the expense. 

Adoption agencies that charge more include more services. For example, if you find an agency with fees at the lower end, it’s likely because their fee doesn’t include the costs of hiring an attorney, unlimited advertising for birth parents, certain birth mother expenses, or adoption disruption insurance (a guarantee you won’t lose your money if the birth mother changes her mind).

So always ask for a written, line-by-line breakdown of the agency’s costs to see what services its rate covers before signing with it. 

Costs of an Independent Adoption With an Attorney Only:  $10,000 – $40,000

If agency adoption is too expensive but you’d still like to adopt a newborn, you can save a lot of money by hiring an attorney to facilitate an independent adoption. Independent adoption happens when prospective parents locate a birth parent on their own and use an attorney to process the necessary paperwork.

Average Costs of Independent (Attorney) Adoption

Legal Fees $3,000 – $6,000
Advertising Fees $0 – $1,000
Birth Mother Expenses $6,000 – $30,000
Home Study Fee $1,000 – $4,000

The cost of an independent adoption can range from $10,000 to $40,000, though it could go higher based on your circumstances. The final bill depends on how much you need to spend to find an expectant mother and how much you pay for medical and living expenses, which may be regulated by state law. 

Further, adopting independently is a bit like trying to sell a house without a realtor. You must find a birth mom on your own, which means advertising for and vetting birth moms without help. 

So, while it can be cheaper, you still have to go it alone. And if you have trouble finding a birth mother, your costs can quickly add up. Agencies give a flat rate no matter how much advertising it takes. If you have trouble finding someone, you could quickly blow past the $40,000 mark.

Another reason independent adoption costs can vary more widely than those through a private agency is because in most states, adoptive parents won’t have their costs reimbursed if a birth mother changes her mind, what’s commonly called a disrupted adoption. Most adoption agencies build disruption insurance into their fee structures. 


International Adoption: $26,500 – $73,000

Those unfamiliar with the adoption process often believe it’s less expensive to adopt a child from another country. But the reverse is more often true. 

Average Costs of International Adoption

Agency Fees $15,000 – $30,000
Legal Fees $500 – $6,000
Immigration Application Fee $1,000 – $2,000
Dossier Preparation and Clearance $1,000 – 2,000
Home Study Fee $1,000 – $4,000
In-Country Adoption Expenses $2,000 – $10,000
Travel Expenses $5,000 – $15,000
Child’s Passport, Visa, Medical Exam $1,000 – $4,000

The cost of an international adoption can range from just over $20,000 to more than $70,000. The wide variance is due to the different requirements of each country. 

International adoption (also called intercountry adoption) has some similarities to domestic adoption. But it has its own unique steps and expenses that can quickly escalate beyond the cost of domestic adoption.

The costs of international adoptions can include immigration processing and court costs (both in the foreign country and the U.S.), travel expenses, foreign and domestic legal fees, foreign agency fees, passport and visa fees, medical examinations, and in-country adoptions expenses (such as foster care for the child, donations to the orphanage, and payments for the in-country adoption liaisons).

The costs also depend on whether a government or private agency, orphanage, nonprofit organization, attorney, or a combination of entities is managing the adoption. 

Additionally, some international adoptions are finalized in the child’s country of origin, while others must be finalized in the U.S., depending on the laws of your state, further adding to the total cost. And depending on the country’s regulations, you may have to plan an extended stay, which means time off work and (potentially) lost wages.


Public Adoption: $0 – $2,500

The least expensive route to growing your family is unquestionably public adoption, or adopting through the foster care system. It’s very difficult to adopt a baby, though. So this option is best for those who wish to adopt an older child.

Public adoption costs next to nothing because the government subsidizes many associated fees and expenses. 

Average Costs of Public Adoption

Agency Fees Usually $0
Legal Fees $0 – $2,000
Home Study Fee $0 – $500

Federal and state financial adoption assistance programs exist to encourage the adoption of children with special needs that make them difficult to place, such as older children, sibling groups, or those with physical or mental disabilities. 

Thus, most prospective parents who are adopting through public agencies will find their state is often willing to waive most or all of the fees associated with adopting through the foster care system, including both the home study fee and attorney fees. 

Additionally, if you become a foster parent and apply to foster-to-adopt, the government subsidizes some of your future adopted child’s living expenses while you await finalization. 

But if you have your heart set on adopting a newborn, foster care adoption isn’t the route for you. It’s nearly impossible to adopt an infant that way. 

Some babies in the foster care system were abandoned by their biological parents or taken by the state due to abuse, neglect, or drug addiction. But no child in the system — infant or otherwise — is immediately available for adoption. 

The state’s No. 1 priority is to reunite children with their biological families. That includes extensive sessions with counselors and social workers. If that effort ultimately proves unsuccessful, the state next tries to place the child with a biological relative. 

Only after these efforts — which could take several years — are children placed for adoption. Thus, by the time babies in foster care become eligible for adoption, they’re no longer babies. But if they were placed with a foster family, that family gets the first chance at adoption. 
However, if you’re interested in adopting an older child and are prepared to help them work through the trauma, the rewards can be immense. My parents adopted my little brother from foster care at the age of 6, and his presence has enriched our family in myriad ways.

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Factors That Influence Adoption Costs

Every adoption is unique, and though adoption agencies typically try to work within your budget, unforeseen costs can occasionally raise the base projected cost. And that can have a significant impact on your overall family budget.


Birth Mother Expenses

Depending on your state’s adoption laws, a birth mother may be eligible for coverage of certain expenses. You may have to pay medical expenses related to the pregnancy, including insurance coverage if she’s not already covered or eligible for Medicaid.

If you work with an agency, they should take care of helping her find coverage. But you may still be responsible for some medical expenses, such as doctor copays. Once you’re matched with a birth mother, her medical expenses become your medical expenses. 

Adoption agencies typically work these into their overall fee structure but allow for variances that could affect your cost. For example, you may pay more or less depending on what stage of pregnancy the mother’s in when the agency matches you. If you’re matched in the ninth month, there will be fewer expenses.

And if you’re adopting independently, some or all of the medical costs the birth mother incurs as a result of the pregnancy may be your responsibility as defined by the laws of your state. Consult with an adoption lawyer for more information.  

Additionally, in some states, you may need to cover other birth mother expenses. Birth mother expenses are court-approved funds adoptive families provide to help prospective birth mothers with pregnancy-related expenses. In addition to medical care, costs could include living expenses like maternity clothing, groceries, rent, and transportation. 

Some states that allow birth mothers to request living expenses cap the total amount. For example, Ohio caps the amount birth mothers can be reimbursed for living expenses at $3,000 and Connecticut at $1,500. Other states have no cap but permit a judge to set one on an individual basis. 

Thus, these expenses can vary widely from one adoption to another.


Advertising

The longer you have to wait for a birth mother match, the more money an agency must pay toward advertising to find you one. Ask the adoption agency how they deal with this variable cost. Some charge one flat fee regardless of the amount of advertising required; others set a variable cost.

And if you’re doing an independent adoption, you’ll be covering this expense on your own. If you don’t already know a birth mother to adopt from, you’ll need to find one. That means drawing on your personal connections, using social networks or community organizations, utilizing adoptive family websites, posting print ads, or seeking referrals from adoption attorneys. 

It could take a long time to find a birth mother if you don’t have extensive networking options. And that can substantially drive up your adoption costs. Depending on how long it takes you to find someone, fees for print and online advertising can range from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands. 


Attorney Fees

Lawyers are necessary for dealing with the legal aspects of any adoption. These include the original consent to adoption and termination of parental rights as well as the court proceedings to finalize the arrangement. 

However, the fees can vary considerably based on the type of adoption you opt for. Attorney fees can also vary depending on other factors, including:

  • The Complexity of the Case. Will they need to represent you multiple times in court? All adoptions must eventually be finalized before a judge. But some adoptions — such as international adoptions or those in which birth mother expenses must be court-ordered — could require more paperwork or court appearances than others.
  • The Number of Hours the Attorney Works on the Case. Lawyers charge by the hour. Even if you don’t have to appear in court more than once, adoption can involve a lot of paperwork.
  • The Number of Additional Attorneys or Support Staff Needed. Depending on the complexity of your case or who you hire, you may be represented by a law firm rather than a single attorney. Additionally, your lawyer may use a support team to fulfill basic tasks like clerical work.

Depending on your case, rates are often negotiable. And while attorneys often charge by the hour, many offer a flat fee for certain types of cases. 

For example, a family law attorney might charge a flat fee for a straightforward adoption case that requires a simple filing of paperwork and one court appearance. But they might charge by the hour for a more complex case, such as an international adoption.

Regardless, most lawyers offer payment options so clients can find an arrangement that works for their budget. And all lawyers have fee agreements informing clients of costs upfront. So ensure you thoroughly read the agreement beforehand. 


Time Off

Unfortunately, in the U.S., paid parental leave isn’t guaranteed by law, and many workplaces don’t have this benefit. Even when they do, it may not apply to adoptive parents. So check with your human resources department about whether your workplace offers adoption benefits. 

Whether your employer offers paid time off, all adoptive parents are entitled to up to 12 weeks (three months) of leave through the Family Medical Leave Act. The act equally guarantees maternity and paternity leave for biological and adoptive parents.

But it only guarantees your job and health insurance. It doesn’t guarantee paid time off. If your company doesn’t provide paid parental leave, you need to plan for lost wages.


Final Word

The costs of adoption may feel formidable, especially if you have your heart set on adopting an infant through domestic or international adoption. But they don’t have to be insurmountable.

Many resources are available to help families afford to adopt, including options for post-placement reimbursement, like the adoption tax credit. Talk with adoption professionals to explore your options before completely ruling it out. 

Also, talk with other families who’ve adopted. Many are happy to share stories of how they were able to afford adoption, especially if it helps others fulfill their dreams of a family.

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GME is so 2021. Fine art is forever. And its 5-year returns are a heck of a lot better than this week’s meme stock. Invest in something real. Invest with Masterworks.

Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She’s also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How Psychology Affects Your Search for a Financial Adviser

Selecting the right financial adviser is an important but difficult decision. Key considerations include whether your prospective adviser has the right technical skills, charges fair fees and puts your interests first. Focus on these factors and you’ll find thousands of qualified advisers. But which factors should you prioritize when finding the best one for you?

Turns out, you should be looking to psychology. A 2019 Vanguard study found that a client’s emotional relationship with their adviser – not their fees or technical skills – accounted for over half of the perceived value of the engagement. These feelings have real consequences for your bottom line.

Another series of Vanguard studies found clients who work with advisers have better investment returns than those who don’t. To explain this effect, the studies examined the individual impact of numerous factors, including a range of technical skills, like optimizing asset location and implementing the most cost-effective strategies. Turns out behavioral coaching, a psychological factor, accounted for half the total effect – double that of the most impactful technical skill.

While you’re interviewing a prospective adviser, here are some other considerations and questions to ask:

What are your values?

Financial planning is the process of helping clients achieve their goals – whether those goals are to be financially independent, support a charity or anything in between. Advisers are trained to respect and help fulfill all their clients’ goals. But if your goals and values are contrary to an advisers’, it can be difficult for them to take your perspective and make the best recommendations. For example, an adviser who tends to prioritize attaining financial independence may consistently push back on your goal to donate 10% of your income to charity.

An adviser who shares your deeply held values will have an easier time empathizing with your financial situation and is more likely to make recommendations that you’ll implement.

Will we get along?

Would if we could be friends with everyone, but some personalities just don’t mesh. Don’t think you need to overthink this (although you’re welcome to). Consider what kinds of people you tend to get along with. Remember that you may be spending many years working with your adviser, so it helps to like them and feel like you get along.

At a minimum, feel free to avoid working with someone who gives you a bad first impression. While our first impressions are not always accurate, they can tell us a lot – and quickly! For example, one study found it takes just a fraction of a second to decide whether you should trust someone.

How will you communicate your recommendations and coach me?

It is critical that you fully understand the recommendations your adviser is making. Otherwise, you won’t implement them! Consider your learning style. How do you understand things most easily: in writing? With charts and graphs? Whatever your answer, find an adviser whose communication style matches your learning style.

Often, recommendations take some time to implement and have many steps. Some folks struggle to follow through – especially if they have anxiety around money. The best advisers coach their clients throughout the process.

Not all great coaches are the same. Phil Jackson, winner of 11 NBA championships, was known as a “Zen Master.” Bill Belichick, the NFL coach with the most Super Bowl wins, is much more detail-oriented and logistical. Consider what motivates you to stick with a plan and try to find an adviser who fits your coaching needs.   

Keep in mind that some folks are better communicators than others. How well an adviser communicates has a real impact on their clients. For example, a study investigating clients’ trust in their financial advisers found the adviser’s communication skills were twice as important as their technical competency.

Do you have good experiences working with people from my background?

Individual differences are not the only thing to consider when selecting a financial adviser. Your adviser’s cultural background and cultural competency can affect whether you have a successful relationship.

When people share similar experiences and backgrounds, they often have an easier time communicating and empathizing with one another. Moreover, financial advising has not always been offered or provided equitably to women, people of color and members of many other minority backgrounds. Research released by The American College Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality underscores this point: Three in five Black women expressed difficulty in finding financial professionals or advisers they trust, per the study.  It’s why efforts like the CFP® Board’s diversity and inclusion initiatives are critical to increase the representation of people from all backgrounds in financial planning and meet the needs of our diverse society.

That said, the client and adviser don’t need to share a cultural connection to have a successful relationship. Many financial advisers have excellent cross-cultural communication and cultural competence. Some of the best thinking comes when people with different perspectives can work together to come up with innovative solutions.

Ultimately, you should establish a relationship you value with an adviser you trust. Exactly how you make that decision is up to you. To start that process, consider resources like https://www.letsmakeaplan.org/ and https://www.xyplanningnetwork.com/ that can connect you with  advisers held to fiduciary standard.

Assistant Professor of Financial Planning, The American College of Financial Services

Matt J. Goren is an Assistant Professor of Financial Planning at The American College of Financial Services who focuses on the interplay of personal finance and psychology. In addition to teaching and developing content, he provides strategic consulting on financial literacy initiatives and hosts a personal finance radio show, Nothing Funny About Money, which was named 2018’s most outstanding consumer financial information resource by the AFCPE.

Source: kiplinger.com

How to Secure the Bag in 2022

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Are you living by the mantra, “New Year, new you?” Year after year, we set these resolutions and goals – for them to get tossed out before the year can fully bloom. Looking for ways to elevate your life? Maintain the things you’ve started? Produce real results? Check out the tips below to secure your future and your bag in the year to come.

Write down your goals

As much as we’d like to consider ourselves computers, it’s nearly impossible for us to remember every single thing we’d like to do. In order to stay focused and remain organized, it’s best to simply jot down your goals.

Try your best not to overthink and begin to write everything that comes to your head. Essentially, this is a brain dumping exercise that allows you to clear your mind as much as possible. Often times confusion doesn’t necessarily come from us not knowing, it’s simply because we haven’t written down our thoughts.

Once this is finished, the second step is refining. Go through everything you’ve listed and organize it into categories. From there you’ll be able to highlight the top 3-5 goals you’d like to accomplish. This allows you to only focus on the goals with priority – and as those items are completed, the next ones in line will be yours for the conquering!

Are you wanting to start a new career or business venture? Write down all of the to-do items needed to accomplish that goal and assign a certain number of tasks per day, week or month. In this way you’re not overwhelming yourself with unrealistic expectations but creating an actionable guide that navigates you straight to the finish line.

Self-assess and readjust as needed

Let’s take a moment to reflect on 2021. What are the things you did exceptionally well? What are a few items that need improvement? Are you able to recall the goals that didn’t have any traction at all?

Before you can execute, you need to know where you’re currently starting from. Be honest with yourself – this isn’t an exercise to stir up negative and non-productive emotion. This is to chart your next steps and make them effective.

If you overspent this year on discretionary items, test out the cash method for your purchases. Looking to increase your earning potential? Update your resume, network and explore the opportunities that interest you. Saving for a large purchase? Create a reasonable savings plan that lays out the steps to ensure you’re successful.

Keep in mind this is not a one-day exercise. Carve out some time over the course of a week to truly reflect.

Avoid impulsive behavior and identify the root cause

Each and every one of us have thorns in our side that derail us from our goals – big or small. In order to identify the true problem, we must tap into our self-awareness and discuss some ugly truths. For example, if you are on a fitness journey and have a desire to become healthier– a routine is mandatory. Schedules allow us to operate more efficiently. So, let’s say you want to workout at least three times a week. This means there’s a certain window of time that needs to be allotted for the actual workout. After that you need time to eat, prepare food and continue flowing through the day. If one of these links are missing in the routine, it could tempt you to skip the workout completely.

What needs to happen? Have food readily available on the days you workout. Get sufficient rest the night before to make sure you’re energized to conquer the day. Try your best to eat the right foods to avoid feelings of sluggishness or irritation. Have your exercise clothes ready the night prior to avoid any mishaps in the morning. No matter how crazy and insane these little things may seem they’re very impactful. It creates a smoother workflow which decreases anxiety, worry, frustration and irrational decision making.

Let’s talk money!

If you have an issue with overspending; consider this. Do you spend more money when your emotions fluctuate?  Adopt some self-care techniques to relax and unwind before making hash decisions. Try adopting yoga within your weekly routine. Step away from the computer when the feeling of work stress occurs. Swap out the impulse to spend with something positive, like taking a quick walk or simply log off social media. Unsubscribe from retail emails so there won’t even be an urge to spend. When you’re healthy mentally and physically – your finances have no choice but to positively benefit.

Let’s talk retirement

Before the year is up evaluate your retirement account, savings methods and/or investments. Are your selections aligning with the financial goals you’ve set for the upcoming year? Assess your contributions and adjust as you see fit. If there are things you’re unclear on or are in need of further guidance, solicit the assistance of a financial advisor. Don’t allow yourself to get hung up as challenges arise! There’s always a solution. Take a deep breath and revisit your goals in moments of frustration.

Create an accountability tribe

We cannot live life alone and in confinement, so what better way to engage the people closest to you than create an accountability tribe? Establish some safe meetups or virtual check-ins as schedules permit to discuss hiccups, successes and lessons. In this way, it establishes a sense of community and support. It’s almost like having your own personal cheerleaders ushering you through all phases of life. You can gain multiple perspectives while also having a safe space that doesn’t judge you for your mistakes.

Remain positive and stay the course

In this upcoming year, don’t settle for less. The key to achieving all of your goals fall into two main categories: consistency and discipline. Will the work always be easy? Absolutely not. Your goals will stretch you in new ways and will create a new level of resilience.

2022 is ours for the taking. You have the tools; now do the work and secure the life you truly desire to live!

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Marsha Barnes

Marsha Barnes is a finance guru with over 20 years of experience dedicates her efforts to empower women worldwide to become financially thriving. Financial competency and literacy are a passion of Marsha’s, providing practical information for clients increasing their overall confidence in their personal finances. More from Marsha Barnes

Source: mint.intuit.com