How Moving to a New City Can Give You a Fresh Financial Start

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Summer is a common time for many people to change up their living situations by moving either across town or across the country. And whether you are moving for a new job, a recent graduation, or just a change of scenery, moving to a new city can help give you a fresh financial start. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your move.

Changing (lowering) your cost of living

The biggest thing to make sure that you’re aware of when moving to a new city is that your overall cost of living is going to change. This may be obvious to many people, but goods and services cost different amounts in different areas of the country and world. From very expensive places like New York and San Francisco to less expensive places like Tulsa or Boise and everywhere in between. 

Before you move to a new city, make sure to understand the difference in the cost of living between your current city and your new city. There are many online calculators that can compare the cost of living between two different cities. Make sure to dig deeper than just the overall cost of living. The cost of living accounts for lots of different areas of spending like housing, food, transportation, and more. Understanding how different things might change in price from what you’re used to can help you plan a budget for your new city.

Hopefully, you are moving to an area with a lower cost of living. That’s a great opportunity to take your extra money and start saving or investing it. If you are moving to a higher-cost area, you can take the chance to really get serious about budgeting

New friends and family

Your new city will also give you the chance to change who you interact with and how much. You may be moving closer to family, or have the chance to meet new friends. Changes in your family or friend’s situation can also impact your finances. If you are moving closer to extended family, you may have an opportunity to collaborate on child care and save some money that way. 

If you’re moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone, consider how that might affect your budget and your social life. Will you be spending more money at bars, events, and other places to meet new people? Work those expenses into your new budget!

Updating your recurring subscriptions

Recurring subscriptions can be an easy way to lose your money if you’re not careful. Without tracking them with a budgeting tool like Mint, it’s easy to find yourself paying for monthly subscriptions that you don’t actually use. Moving to a new city can be a great way to update your recurring subscriptions and be proactive about which ones you want to pay for.

While some monthly subscriptions like streaming services are easy to transfer with you when you move, others won’t make as much sense. It probably isn’t a good idea to continue paying for your local gym membership if you move halfway across the country. Take the time as part of your move to really take a look at which monthly payments you are making and which are still providing value.

Budgeting for your move

A budget is one of the most important tools you have to achieve a positive financial future. Budgeting for your move is important in two different ways. We’ve talked a bit already about how to adjust your budget for your new situation, but it’s also important to make a budget for the move itself.

Without a budget, it can be easy to spend much more than you intended to on your move. Moving is always stressful, so before you notice it, you can find yourself spending hundreds or thousands of extra dollars. Make sure to do your research on moving options, and don’t forget to give yourself some grace in the budget to account for unexpected things to come up while moving.

The Bottom Line

Moving to a new city is an exciting time, and can be a great opportunity to get a fresh financial start. Make sure to compare the cost of living in your new city, and how it compares to the prices that you’re used to. Adjust your budget for your new living situation and don’t forget to budget for the move itself. One great way to update your budget is to take a look at some of your recurring monthly subscriptions and have an honest conversation with yourself and others in your household about which subscriptions are worth it for you. Following these tips can get you off to a great start in your new city and with your new life.

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

Dan Miller

Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families to travel for free / cheap. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 kids. More from Dan Miller

Source: mint.intuit.com

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

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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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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.

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What Is Inflation (Definition) – Causes & Effects of Rate on Prices & Interest

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People have always grumbled that a dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to. But these days, that complaint is truer than ever. No matter where you go — the gas station, the grocery store, the movies — prices are higher than they were just a month or two ago.

What we’re seeing is the return of a familiar economic foe: inflation. Many Americans alive today have never seen price increases like these before. For the past three decades, inflation has never been above 4% per year. But as of March 2022, it’s at 8.5%, a level not seen since 1981.

Modest inflation, like what we had up through 2020, is normal and even healthy for an economy. But the rate of inflation we’re seeing now is neither normal nor healthy. It does more than just raise the cost of living. It can have a serious impact on the economy as a whole. 

Recent inflation-related news:


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  • In March 2022, the U.S. inflation rate hit a 40-year high of 8.5%. 
  • Prices for gasoline have increased nearly 50% over the past year.
  • Retail giant Amazon has added a 5% fuel and inflation surcharge for sellers.
  • The Federal Reserve is planning a series of interest rate hikes to cool the overheated economy.

What Is Inflation?

Inflation is more than just rising prices. Prices of specific things we buy, from a gallon of milk to a year of college tuition, rise and fall all the time. These price increases affect individual consumers’ lives, but they don’t have a big impact on the entire economy.

Inflation is a general increase in the prices of goods and services across the board. It drives up prices for everything you buy, from a haircut to a gallon of gas. Or, to put it another way, the purchasing power of every dollar in your pocket declines.

Most of the time, inflation doesn’t disrupt people’s lives too much, because prices rise for labor as well. If your household spending increases by 5% but your paycheck increases by 5% at the same time, you’re no worse off than before.

But when prices rise sharply, wages can’t always keep up. That makes it harder for consumers to make ends meet. It also drives them to change their spending behaviors in ways that often make the problem worse.


Causes of Inflation

Inflation depends on the twin forces of supply and demand. Supply is the amount of a particular good or service that’s available. Demand is the amount of that particular good or service that people want to buy. More demand drives prices up, while more supply drives them down. 

To see why, suppose you have 10 loaves of bread to sell. You have 10 buyers who want bread and are willing to pay $1 per loaf. So you can sell all 10 loaves at $1 each.

But if 10 more buyers suddenly enter the market, they will have to compete for your bread. To make sure they get some, they might be willing to pay as much as $2 per loaf. The higher demand has pushed the price up.

By contrast, if another seller shows up with 10 loaves of bread, the two of you will be competing for buyers. To sell your bread, you might have to lower the price to as little as $0.50 per loaf. The higher supply has pushed prices down.

Inflation results from demand outstripping supply. Economists often describe this as “too much money chasing too few goods.” There are several ways this kind of imbalance can happen.

Cost-Push Inflation

Cost-push inflation happens when it costs more to produce goods. To go back to the bread example, cost-push inflation might happen because a wheat shortage makes flour more expensive. It costs you more to make each loaf of bread, so you can’t afford to bake as much.

As a result, you bring only five loaves to the market. But there are still 10 customers who want to buy bread, so they must pay more to get their share. The higher cost of production drives down the supply and thus drives up the price.

In the real world, cost-push inflation can result from higher costs for anything that goes into making a product. This includes:

  • Raw Materials. The wheat that went into your bread is an example. Higher-cost wheat means higher-cost flour, which means higher-cost bread.
  • Transportation. In today’s global economy, materials and finished goods move around a lot. Transporting products requires fuel, which usually comes from oil. So whenever oil prices go up, the price of other goods rises as well. 
  • Labor. Another factor in production cost is labor. When schools closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents had to stop working to care for their children. That created a worker shortage that drove prices up.

Demand-Pull Inflation

The opposite of cost-push inflation is demand-pull inflation. It occurs when consumers want to buy more than the market can supply, driving prices up.

Typically, demand-pull inflation results from economic growth. Rising wages and lower levels of unemployment put more money in people’s pockets, and people who have more money want to spend more. If the booming economy hasn’t produced enough goods and services to match this new demand, prices rise.

Other causes of demand-pull inflation include: 

  • Increased Money Supply. Another way people can end up with more money in their pockets is because the government has put more money in circulation. Governments often do this to stimulate a weak economy or to pay off past debts. But as the money supply increases, the purchasing power of each dollar shrinks. 
  • Rapid Population Growth. When the population grows rapidly, the demand for goods and services grows also. If the economy doesn’t produce more to compensate, prices rise. In Europe during the 1500s and 1600s, prices soared as the population grew so fast that agriculture couldn’t keep up with the new demand.
  • Panic Buying. Early in the COVID pandemic, consumers started buying extra groceries to fill their pantries in preparation for a lockdown. This led to shortages of many staple products, like milk and toilet paper. As a result, prices for those goods went up.
  • Pent-Up Demand. This occurs when people return to spending after a period of going without. This often happens in the wake of a recession. It also occurred as pandemic restrictions eased and people returned to enjoying movies, travel, and restaurant meals.

Built-In Inflation

When consumers expect prices to be higher in the future, they often respond by spending more now. If the purchasing power of their savings is only going to fall, it makes more sense to take that money out of the bank and use it on a major purchase, like a new car or a large appliance.

In this way, expectations of high inflation can themselves lead to inflation. This type of inflation is called built-in inflation because it builds on itself. 

When workers expect the cost of living to rise, they demand higher wages. But then they have more to spend, so they spend more, driving prices up. This, in turn, reinforces the belief that  prices will keep rising, leading to still higher wage demands. This cycle of rising wages and prices is called a wage-price spiral.


Effects of Inflation

Inflation does more than just drive up the cost of living. It changes the economy in a variety of ways — some harmful, others helpful. The effects of inflation include:

  • Higher Wages. As prices rise with inflation, wages typically rise as well. This can create a wage-price spiral that drives inflation still higher.
  • Higher Interest Rates. When the dollar is declining in value, banks often respond by raising interest rates on loans. The Federal Reserve also typically raises interest rates to cool the economy and rein in inflation, as discussed below.
  • Cheaper Debt. Inflation is good for debtors because they can pay off their debts with cheaper dollars. This is most useful for loans with a fixed interest rate, such as fixed-rate mortgages and student loans.
  • More Consumption. Inflation encourages consumers to spend money because they know it will be worth less later. All this spending keeps the economy humming, but it can also drive prices even higher.
  • Lower Savings Rates. Just as inflation encourages spending, it discourages saving. Higher interest rates can counter this effect, but they often don’t rise enough to make a difference.
  • Less Valuable Benefits. High inflation is worse for people on a fixed income. They face higher prices without higher wages to make up for them. Benefits such as Social Security change each year to adjust for inflation, but higher benefits next year don’t help when prices are rising right now.
  • More Valuable Tangible Assets. Inflation reduces the purchasing power of the dollars you have in the bank. Tangible assets like real estate, however, gain in dollar value as prices rise.

Measuring Inflation

The most common measure of inflation is the Consumer Price Index, or CPI. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) determines the CPI based on the cost of an imaginary basket of goods and services. BLS workers painstakingly check prices on all these items each month and record how each price changes.

To calculate the annual rate of inflation, the BLS looks at how much all prices in its basket have changed since a year earlier. Then it “weights” the value of each item based on how much of it people buy. The weighted average of all items becomes the CPI.

The BLS then uses the CPI to calculate the annual rate of inflation. It divides this month’s CPI by the CPI from a year ago, then multiplies the result by 100. This shows how the purchasing power of a dollar has changed over the last year. The result is reported monthly.

Other measures of inflation include:

  • Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (PCE). This inflation measure is published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Like the CPI, it’s a measure of consumer costs, but it’s adjusted to account for changes in the products people buy. The Federal Reserve uses the PCE to guide its monetary policy, as discussed below. 
  • Producer Price Index (PPI). The PPI measures inflation from the seller’s perspective, not the buyer’s. It’s calculated by dividing the price sellers currently get for a basket of goods and services by its price in a base year, then multiplying the result by 100.

Historical Examples of Inflation

A little bit of inflation is normal. But sometimes inflation spirals out of control, with prices rising more than 50% per month. This is called hyperinflation, and it can be devastating for an economy.

Hyperinflation has occurred at various times and places throughout history. During the U.S. Civil War, both sides experienced soaring inflation. Other examples include Germany in the 1920s, Greece and Hungary after World War II, Yugoslavia and Peru in the 1990s, and Venezuela today. In most cases, the main cause was the government printing money to pay for debt. 

The last time the U.S. had prolonged, high rates of inflation was in the 1970s and early 1980s. The inflation rate was nowhere near hyperinflation levels, but it spiked above 10% twice. Eventually, the Fed hiked interest rates to double-digit levels to get it under control.

Although high inflation can be destructive, zero inflation isn’t a good thing, either. At that point, an economy is at risk of the opposite problem, deflation. 

When prices and wages fall across the board, consumers spend less. Sales of products and services fall, so companies cut back staff or go out of business. As a result, jobs are lost and spending drops still more, worsening the problem. The Great Depression was an example.


The Federal Reserve, or Fed, is the U.S. central bank — or more accurately, banks. It’s a group of 12 banks spread across the country under the control of a central board of governors. Its job is to keep the economy on track, reining in inflation while trying to avoid recessions. 

The Fed maintains this balance through monetary policy, or controlling the availability of money.

Its main tool for doing this is interest rates. When the economy is weak, the Fed lowers the federal funds rate. This makes it easier for people to borrow and spend. 

When the problem is inflation, it does the opposite, raising interest rates. This makes it more costly to borrow and more worthwhile to save. As a result, consumers spend less, slowing down the wage-price spiral.

The Fed has other tools for fighting inflation as well. One option is to change reserve requirements for banks, requiring them to hold more cash. That gives them less to lend out, which in turn reduces the amount consumers and businesses have to spend.

Finally, the Fed can reduce the money supply directly. The main way it does this is to increase the interest rate paid on government bonds. That encourages more people to buy bonds, which temporarily takes their money out of circulation and puts it in the hands of the government.


Inflation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you keep seeing stories about inflation in the news, you may have some other questions about how it works. For instance, you may wonder:

What Is Hyperinflation?

Hyperinflation is more than just high inflation. It’s a wage-price spiral gone mad, sending prices soaring out of control. As noted above, the usual definition of hyperinflation is an inflation rate of at least 50% per month — more than 12,000% per year. However, some economists use the term to refer to an inflation rate of 1,000% or more per year.

What Is Disinflation?

Disinflation is a fall in the rate of inflation. This is what the Federal Reserve and other central banks try to achieve through their monetary policy, such as raising interest rates.

Disinflation is not the same as deflation, or falling prices. During a period of disinflation, prices are continuing to rise, but the rate at which they rise is slowing down.

What Is Transitory Inflation?

When the first signs of a post-COVID-19 inflation spike appeared, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell described it as “transitory.” By this, he meant that the rise in prices would be short-lived and would not do permanent damage to the economy. 

However, in November 2021, Powell declared it was “time to retire that word.” Based on the growth in prices, he had concluded that inflation was more of a long-term trend. The Federal Reserve responded by planning to fight inflation harder, buying more bonds and plotting out a series of interest rate hikes.

What Is Core Inflation?

Measuring inflation can be tricky because prices for some products fluctuate more than others. Food and energy prices, in particular, can shift a lot from month to month. Including these products in the CPI can lead to sharp, but temporary, spikes or dips in the inflation rate.

To adjust for this, the CPI and PCE have a separate “core” version that doesn’t include food or energy prices. This core inflation measure is more useful for predicting long-term trends. The  main versions of the CPI and PCE, known as the “headline” versions, give a more accurate picture of how prices are changing right now.

What Is the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

As noted above, the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, is the main measure of inflation in the United States. The BLS calculates it based on how much prices have risen for an imaginary basket of goods and services that many Americans buy.


Final Word

A little inflation in an economy is normal. It can even be a good thing, because it’s a sign that consumers are spending and businesses are earning. The Fed generally considers an annual inflation rate of 2% to be healthy.

However, higher inflation can cause serious problems for an economy. It’s bad for savers whose nest eggs, including retirement savings, shrink in value. It’s even worse for seniors and others on fixed incomes whose purchasing power has fallen. And it often requires strong measures from the central bank to correct it — measures that risk driving the economy into a recession.

If you’re concerned about the effects of inflation, there are several ways to protect yourself. You can adjust your household budget, putting more dollars into the categories where prices are rising fastest. You can stock up on household basics now, before the purchasing power of your dollars falls too much. 

Finally, you can choose investments that do well during periods of inflation. Stock-based mutual funds and real estate investment trusts are both good choices. Just be careful with inflation hedges like gold and cryptocurrency, which carry risks of their own.

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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.

Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, “And from that you make a living?” She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Dear Penny: Is Using Retirement Money So My Daughter Can Graduate a Mistake?

Dear Penny,
A big advantage of Parent PLUS loans is that you can qualify for something called income-contingent repayment. Basically, your payment is capped at 20% of your disposable income. You’re planning to retire soon, so I’m assuming your income will drop soon as well. That means you could qualify for an extremely low payment once your daughter graduates.
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She is a good kid with some special problems that she overcomes daily. I want her to have this degree and a chance in life. She worked very hard to overcome all of the physical and mental challenges in her life, BUT expenses are starting to affect my retirement. Any advice?
Sometimes I get antsy when parents talk about spending retirement money on their child’s education. But we’re talking about one year of college, not four. I think you’d deeply regret not giving your daughter the financial support she needs to make it through this final year.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].
Contact the financial aid office for your daughter’s school if you haven’t already done so. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, bases financial aid on income from two years earlier. For example, aid for the 2022-23 school year will be based on 2020 income. But some schools offer a process called professional judgment where administrators can adjust FAFSA information based on major life changes, like a parent’s retirement, on a case-by-case basis.
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Your daughter has no doubt overcome her challenges thanks to her own grit, but also because of your love and support as a parent. You’re making a sacrifice to pay for her last year of school because you believe in her. Once she graduates, paying off any debt you’ve incurred will be another challenge you’ll need to conquer together.
-J.
Keep in mind, a Parent PLUS loan is only an option if your daughter is considered a dependent student. For example, if she’s 24 or older or she has dependent children of her own, unfortunately, you wouldn’t be eligible.
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Dear J.,
With private student loans — whether you take them out in your name or co-sign for your daughter — you’re at the mercy of your lender if you’re struggling with payments. So I’d vote in favor of a Parent PLUS loan, even if you find a private loan with a lower interest rate.
If you can’t get a Parent PLUS loan, I’d suggest splitting taking half from your retirement funds and a private loan for the other half. Neither is an ideal option, but sometimes life forces us to choose between less-than-perfect options.
What makes me nervous about using retirement money is that virtually everyone’s investments have taken a hit in recent months. You want to limit your withdrawals as much as possible right now so that your money can recover. But at least since you’re 67, you won’t pay an early withdrawal penalty.
Now let’s address your daughter’s role. I don’t know if she currently has a job. If she is able to work some to help defray costs without jeopardizing her studies, that should be on the table.
My daughter is in her last year of college. I don’t have any more money to pay for it. So for her last year, should I take from retirement monies or get a loan? 
If financial aid can’t make up the shortfall, a Parent PLUS loan is a good solution. A Parent PLUS loan is a federal student loan that you, as the parent, are responsible for repaying.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

But I want her to focus on her studies so that she can actually complete her final year of coursework in a year. Stretching out the timeline further could pose a greater risk to your retirement. So I wouldn’t ask your daughter to get a job if she’s not already working or work more hours if she has a job.

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By taking half from your retirement and half as a loan, you can minimize the damage to your nest egg while taking less debt into retirement. If you’re able to work just a bit longer to pay some of these expenses in cash, even better.

Can I Pay off a Personal Loan Early?

Perhaps you’ve gotten a raise or a bonus, and you want to pay off the remaining balance on a personal loan. Is that possible? The short answer is “yes” and, in many cases, it can be a wise decision.

But if there’s a prepayment penalty, then this loan payoff may be more costly than you’d expect. Learning how a prepayment penalty might affect your payoff amount can be helpful in making the decision whether or not to pay off a personal loan early. And if you’re gathering information about a personal loan early payoff without incurring a prepayment penalty, you do have some options.

Is It Possible to Pay Off a Personal Loan Early?

It’s unlikely that a lender would refuse an early loan payoff, so yes, you can pay off a personal loan early. What you have to calculate, though, is whether it’s financially advantageous to do so. If a personal loan early payoff triggers a prepayment penalty, it might not make financial sense to do so.

Overview of Prepayment Penalties

It may sound strange that a lender would include this kind of penalty in a loan agreement in the first place.

Some lenders may, though, to ensure you’ll pay a certain amount of interest before the loan is paid off. It is an extra fee that, when charged, helps lenders recoup more money from borrowers.

You can find out if you’d be charged with a prepayment penalty by looking at the loan agreement you signed with the lender.

If you have one, the penalty could be in effect for the entire loan term or for a portion of it, depending upon how it’s defined in the loan agreement.

Does Paying off a Personal Loan Early Affect Your Credit Score?

Personal loans are a type of installment debt. In the calculation of your credit score, your payment history on installment debt is taken into account. If you’ve made regular, on-time payments, your credit score will likely be positively affected while you’re making payments during the loan’s term.

However, once an installment loan is paid off, it’s marked as closed on your credit report — “in good standing” if you made the payments on time — and will eventually be removed from your credit report after about 10 years. Paying off the personal loan early might cause it to drop off of your credit report a few earlier than it would have and no longer help your credit score.

If I Pay Off a Personal Loan Early, Does My Interest Rate Decrease?

Since a personal loan is an installment loan with a fixed end date, if you pay off a personal loan early, you won’t pay less interest. You won’t owe any interest anymore because the loan will be paid in full.

Recommended: What are the average personal loan rates?

Advantages of Paying off a Personal Loan Early

There are definitely some advantages to personal loan early payoff. One obvious benefit is that you could save on interest over the life of the loan. A $10,000 loan at 8% for 5 years (60 monthly payments) would accrue $2,166.50 in total interest. If you could pay an extra $50 each month, you could pay the loan off 14 months early and save $518.42 in interest.

Not owing that debt anymore can be a psychological comfort, potentially lowering bill-paying stress. If you’re able to make that money available for something else each month — maybe creating an emergency fund or adding to your retirement account — it might even turn into a financial gain.

If you no longer owe the personal loan debt, you’ll essentially be lowering your debt-to-income ratio, which could positively affect your credit score.

Disadvantages of Paying off a Personal Loan Early

If your personal loan agreement includes a prepayment penalty, paying off your personal loan early might not be financially advantageous. Some prepayment penalty clauses are for specific time frames in the loan’s term, e.g., during the first year. If you pay off the loan during the penalty time frame, it could cost you just as much money as it might if you had just paid regular principal and interest payments over the life of the loan.

You might be thinking of a personal loan early payoff so you can put your money to work somewhere else. But if the interest rate on the personal loan is relatively low, it might make financial sense to put your extra money toward higher-interest debt, or to contribute enough to an employer-sponsored retirement plan so you can get the employer match, if one is offered. If you don’t have an emergency fund yet, you might also consider starting one with a bit of extra money each month until it’s at a comfortable level.

Another thing to consider is whether paying off your personal loan early will hurt your credit. As mentioned above, making regular, on-time payments to an installment loan like a personal loan can have a positive effect on your credit score. But when the loan is paid off, and marked as such on your credit report, it’s not as much help.

Advantages of early personal loan payoff Disadvantages of early personal loan payoff
Interest savings over the life of the loan Possible prepayment penalty
Could alleviate debt-related stress Extra money could be better used in another financial tool
Lowering your debt-to-income ratio Removing a positive payment history on the loan early could negatively affect your credit
More cushion in your monthly budget Taking money from another budget category might leave an unintentional financial gap

Things To Ask Yourself Before Paying off a Personal Loan Early

Everyone’s financial situation is different. Priorities that are important to you might be less so to someone else. Considering how a personal loan early payoff might affect you can be a good way to start making the decision.

Will Paying off a Personal Loan Early Put Me at Risk?

There can be some drawbacks to paying off a personal loan early — some that might be considered risks.

If you’re thinking of putting extra money toward a personal loan balance, but you don’t have any money set aside in an emergency fund, that’s a financial risk. If you encounter an expensive, necessary financial need without the means to pay for it, you might be tempted to use high-interest debt like a credit card.

If you consider it risky to pay more than you need to for something, then paying a prepayment penalty could be considered a financial risk. If paying a loan early will cost you extra money, you might think about where that money could be better spent.

Will Paying off a Personal Loan Early Improve My Debt-To-Income Ratio?

Lowering your debt-to-income ratio can have a positive effect on your credit score, and paying off a loan will accomplish this. But you might weigh that positive against any potential negative effect that might come with paying off your personal loan early, such as not having a positive payment history included on your credit score after your loan is closed.

Does Paying off a Personal Loan Early Have Clear Benefits?

There are absolutely clear benefits to paying off a personal loan early. Saving money in interest charges over the life of the loan is at the top of the list, as long as any savings is not offset by a prepayment penalty.

Having more money in your monthly budget — since you wouldn’t have that loan payment due each month — might lower your financial stress.

Types of Prepayment Penalties

If and how a prepayment penalty is charged on a personal loan will be stipulated in the loan agreement. Reviewing this document carefully is a good way to find out if the penalty could be charged and how your lender would calculate it.

If you can’t find the information in the loan agreement, asking your lender for the specifics of a prepayment penalty and for them to point out where it is in the loan agreement is another way to be certain you have the right information to make a decision.

There are a few different ways a lender might calculate a prepayment penalty fee.

Interest costs

In this case, the lender would base the fee on the interest you would have paid if you had made regular payments over the total term. So, if you paid your loan off one year early, the penalty might be 12 months’ worth of interest.

Percentage of your remaining balance

This is a common way for prepayment penalties to work on mortgages, for example, and you’d be charged a percentage of what you still owe on your loan.

Flat fee

Under this scenario, you’d have to pay a predetermined flat fee for your penalty. So, whether you still owed $9,000 on your personal loan or $900, you’d have to pay the same penalty.

Avoiding Prepayment Penalties

Finding out whether a prospective lender charges a prepayment penalty — and not using that lender if it does — is at the top of the list of ways to avoid a prepayment penalty.

If you’ve already taken out a loan that includes a prepayment penalty, there are some options.

First, you could simply decide not to pay the loan off early. This means you’ll need to continue to make regular payments on the loan rather than paying off the balance sooner, but this will allow you to avoid the prepayment penalty fee.

You could also talk to the lender and ask if the prepayment penalty could be waived, but there is no guarantee that this strategy will succeed.

If your prepayment penalty is not applicable throughout the entire term of the loan, you could wait until it expires before paying off your remaining balance.

Another strategy is calculating the amount of remaining interest owed on your personal loan and comparing that to the prepayment penalty. You may find that paying the loan off early, even if you do have to pay the prepayment penalty, would save money over continuing to make regular payments.

Types of Personal Loans

In general, there are two types of personal loans — secured and unsecured. Secured loans are backed by collateral, which is an asset of value owned by the loan applicant, such as a vehicle, real estate, or an investment account. Unsecured personal loans, on the other hand, are backed only by the borrower’s creditworthiness, with no asset attached to the loan.

You might hear unsecured personal loans referred to as signature loans, good faith loans, or character loans. Typically, these are installment loans the borrower repays at a certain interest rate over a predetermined period of time.

Personal Loan Uses

Acceptable uses of personal loan funds cover a wide range, including, but not limited to:

•   Consolidation of high-interest debt.

•   Medical expenses not covered by health insurance.

•   Home renovation or repair projects.

•   Wedding expenses.

While there are benefits to borrowing a personal loan, it might not always be the right financial move for everyone. Personal loans offer a lot of flexibility, but they are still a form of debt, so it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons before signing a personal loan agreement.

Awarded Best Personal Loan of 2022 by NerdWallet.
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Personal Loans at SoFi

If you’re looking for an unsecured personal loan with no prepayment penalties, a personal loan from SoFi might fit your financial need. There are no application fees, no origination fees, and no hidden fees attached to unsecured personal loans with SoFi.

A SoFi Personal Loan can be used to consolidate credit card debt, make home improvements, pay for relocation costs, repair your vehicle, make a major personal purchase and more.

The Takeaway

If you’re in a secure enough financial position to be able to pay off your personal loan early, that’s terrific. But before you do, it’s a good idea to calculate whether it’s a good financial decision or not. A prepayment penalty could take a bite out of any savings you might see on interest costs.

Comparing interest rates for a personal loan, along with lenders’ fees and other charges, including prepayment penalties, is a good way to find the lender that meets your financial needs.

Ready to explore SoFi personal loans? Check your rate in just one minute.

FAQ

Is it good to repay a personal loan early?

Paying off a personal loan early can be a good financial decision, as long as any prepayment penalty charge doesn’t cost more than you might pay in interest.

If I pay off a personal loan early do I pay less interest?

Paying off a personal loan early doesn’t affect the interest rate you’ve been paying up until that point. It would mean, however, that the total amount of interest you’d pay over the life of the loan would be less than anticipated.

Does paying off a personal loan early hurt your credit?

Because making regular, on-time payments on an installment loan such as a personal loan is a positive record on your credit report, removing that history early can have a slight negative affect on your credit.


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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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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

How To Start a Wedding DJ Business in 9 Essential Steps

Want to hone your DJ skills? Or maybe show them off?

Wedding DJs are in high demand these days.

Industry experts expect 2022 to be the busiest wedding season in 40 years, thanks to lockdown romances and postponed ceremonies during the pandemic.

A wedding DJ is the focal point of great wedding receptions. They set the mood, engage with the crowd and keep the couple happy.

They make good money, too. Wedding DJs make $1,000 per gig on average, according to WeddingWire, with experienced pros fetching upward of $2,000 or more.

But it takes a lot of hard work and planning to DJ a wedding. To start a successful wedding DJ business, you’ll need seed money for gear, reliable transportation — and great people skills.

How to Start a Wedding DJ Business in 9 Steps

Nick Smith started DJing weddings in southwest Indiana when he was 20 years old. His first set of speakers and audio equipment came from a bar that was going out of business.

Sixteen years later, Smith’s business has booked over 200 weddings.

“It’s a great gig if you love people and music,” he said.

Ready to spin up your own side hustle? Follow these nine steps to start a wedding DJ business.

1. Research and Talk to Other DJs

Before you invest major money into gear and advertising, make sure you’re comfortable with this type of gig.

Talk to other wedding DJs and ask what challenges they faced in the beginning — and how they overcame those hurdles.

If you’re new to DJing in general, it’s a good idea to shadow a professional wedding DJ. Search Google, Yelp or the Knot to find some in your area.

Send a friendly email asking if you can help them out at an event or two because you’re interested in being a wedding DJ.

On the day of the wedding, show up early and stay for the entire event. Observe how the wedding DJ interacts with the crowd and the type of music they play. Take notes.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do they make announcements?
  • What do they do when the dance floor thins out?
  • How do they handle requests?
  • What equipment do they have?

In exchange for the experience, offer to help the other DJ by unloading gear from the car and setting up the speakers.

2. Hone Your Skills

Practice makes perfect. You need to be comfortable behind the booth before you’re ready to book gigs.

Play for family and friends first. You can also book other, smaller events — like birthday parties and company parties — to get your feet wet. Online classes are another way to grow your knowledge base.

Practice playing songs, using a microphone and flowing from one song to another.

If you’re not ready to start your own wedding DJ business quite yet, consider working for a multi-op — a mobile DJ company that employs several disc jockeys.

3. Create a Business Plan

Creating a business plan is important if you plan to invest time and money into becoming a wedding DJ.

Your business plan should include:

  • Your business name and location
  • Customer demographics and target audience
  • Price points
  • Suppliers for your equipment
  • Initial start-up costs and how long until you’re profitable
  • Competitors

You can use one of these templates from the U.S. Small Business Administration to create a more detailed business plan.

Looking for more tips? Check out these 10 things you should know before you start a business. 

Setting Your Rate

The best way to set your initial rates is by researching prices for wedding DJs in your area, then offering a lower price.

How much you charge also depends on where you live: A wedding DJ in a big city earns more money than a wedding DJ in a small town.

Still, a good starting rate for a novice wedding DJ is roughly $500. You can raise your rates as you gain more experience. According to The Knot’s Real Weddings Study, couples spent an average of $1,400 on a DJ in 2021.

Wedding DJs usually pick one or more of the following pricing structures:

  • Flat fee or hourly rate
  • Packages
  • A la carte services
  • Custom quote

You should also be open to negotiating when you first start out.

Decide What DJ Services to Offer

Smith said offering additional services to clients is one of the best ways to make extra money as a wedding DJ.

“Additional services can really help add value,” Smith said. “You can offer things like uplighting, or doing sound for both the ceremony and the reception.”

Consider add-ons that earn you extra money with minimal effort. For example, some DJs offer photo booth services for guests, but Smith said photo booths are labor intensive to transport and set up.

“Unless you have someone else helping you, you want to keep things simple,” he said.

4. Buy Your DJ Gear

A big hurdle for many new DJs is acquiring equipment. It can cost a couple thousand dollars to purchase all your DJ gear.

“It’s a big cost up front for sure,” Nick said, “but you’ll earn it back quickly with gigs.”

While you don’t need state-of-the-art equipment to be a great wedding DJ, you do need a solid foundation to get started.

Wedding DJ gear checklist:

  • Laptop with at least 6 GB of internal memory and three USB inputs
  • DJ software, like Serato or Traktor
  • PA system (amplifier and speakers)
  • DJ controller / mixer
  • Over-the-ear headphones
  • Cables
  • MP3 music files

On a budget? Smith recommends looking for deals on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Check out sales at your local music store, too.

You could even borrow equipment from a friend or neighborhood church for your first couple gigs.

“You can start with a cheaper set-up, then upgrade it up over time,” Smith said.

You’ll also need to be comfortable setting up and tearing down your own DJ equipment. Figuring out how to efficiently store and transport your gear is also important if you want to be a mobile DJ.

Buy the Music

Buying music is important if you want to run a successful wedding DJ business.

Professionals caution against using streaming services like Spotify or YouTube. It isn’t technically legal and you shouldn’t rely on anything that requires Internet access anyway.

You have several options to legally purchase music for your wedding DJ business:

  • Buy mp3s through Amazon or iTunes/Apple Music.
  • Subscribe to a DJ pool like Promo City. This is a paid service that gives you access to volumes of modern music for download.
  • DJ subscription service like Virtual DJ or Pulselocker.
  • Buy used CDs and rip them to your laptop.

Set aside a little money from each gig to buy more music, and it won’t take long to compile a competitive professional DJ library.

5. Market Yourself

You have the gear. You have a plan. Now it’s time to get some customers.

You’ll need to create a DJ website and social media accounts to attract potential customers. Look at websites for other wedding DJ businesses to get ideas.

At the bare minimum, your website should include:

  • Your rates
  • Where you’re located (and how far you’re willing to travel)
  • A contact email address and phone number
  • What makes you unique from other DJs in the wedding industry
  • Testimonials and positive reviews

You can use a service like Wix or Weebly for free, or hire a professional to design a website for you.

Word of mouth is huge in the wedding business, Smith said. It’s about who you know and who knows you.

“Recommendations are everything,” Smith emphasized.

Give discounts for referrals. Make it easy for the bride and groom to leave glowing reviews about your wedding DJ business on Google and Facebook.

You’ll want to create some business cards and maybe some flyers, too.

Leave a space in your budget for marketing costs. Advertising on sites like The Knot and WeddingWire can really help pull in new customers because couples often visit these sites to find venues and vendors.

6. Meet the Couple for a Consultation

Meet up with the wedding couple several weeks before the event to discuss the playlist.

Ask about their favorite genres and bands, then create a short list of must-have songs, including their pick for the first dance and other important dances.

Perhaps more importantly, get a list of songs they don’t want played. The Chicken Dance, for instance.

“Get an idea of what they’re looking for,” Smith said, “then execute that to the best of your abilities.”

Print a questionnaire for the couple to fill out at the consultation with a timeline of the wedding, names of important people in the wedding party and other key details you should know.

You’ll also want to create contracts you can customize for each couple.

Your business contract should cover things like cancellation fees and damaged equipment policies. Make sure to discuss these policies with clients during the initial consultation.

Finally, prepare to spend several hours communicating back and forth with the couple before the wedding. Smith said he usually spends about 10 hours total preparing for the big day.

Two brides dance at their wedding reception.
Getty Images

7. Create the Playlist

Your goal as a wedding DJ is to create a memorable experience for the couple and keep the party going.

Don’t slide your original deep house remix into the wedding playlist. Remember, focus on the bride and groom — not your personal taste in music.

Play music to match the festivities. Break your songs into different blocks for the ceremony, cocktail hour, introductions, dinner and dance floor.

Each block should have different music to the atmosphere: Classical music at the ceremony, light jazz for the cocktail hour and soulful tunes for dinner, for example.

You can flex more creativity and play new music for the dance floor. But remember: You’re playing for a diverse audience. Don’t be afraid to bust out crowd favorites like “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Livin’ On A Prayer.”

“People are at a wedding to have a good time,” Smith said. “Your job is to play the right music and create a fun atmosphere for everyone.”

8. Be On Time and Professional

You can’t be late to the party when you’re the DJ. Get there early, set up on time and prepare for a late night.

Before the wedding, write out a script of everything you plan to say. Practice pronouncing names. You don’t want to butcher the best man’s last name on stage.

Make sure to bring backup chargers, cables and other necessary gear. Things go wrong, break and run out of battery. Don’t let something unexpected (but easily preventable) ruin your wedding gig.

9. Work the Crowd and Keep the Party Going

Successful wedding DJs set the tone and vibe for the entire reception.

Be friendly, energetic and don’t forget to smile!

It’s not all about the music, though: You’ll be in charge of making announcements, calling for special dances and fielding song requests from (often intoxicated) guests.

You’ll need to communicate with other vendors at the wedding, too. You don’t want to start playing music for a special dance, for example, without the photographers and videographers in place.

Be observant, flexible and keep the party going.

It’s a lot to manage but pulling off your first successful gig can be the start of a rewarding and lucrative wedding DJ business.

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com