Tag Archives: finances

6 of the Worst Ways to Save

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Over the last year or so, we’ve offered up sundry tips on how to consistently and systematically save money.  However, there exists a litany of alternative methods that certain factions of people routinely employ in a hapless effort to hold on to their finances.  Let’s take a gander at some of the worst ways that people have dreamt up to “save,” and why you should avoid them like the bubonic plague.

“Everything’s fine!  Why would I need insurance?”

For the love of all that is holy, please do not adopt this attitude.  Be it home, auto or health, you need insurance.  All the money you could possibly save in your lifetime by not having insurance will still pale in comparison to the amount you would have to pay out of pocket in the event of an accident or unexpected serious condition.  Property and car insurance providers are well aware of this, and as a result must compete for your business by advertising/offering cost cutting incentives (why do you think Geico has over 100 mascots?)  Even the oft maligned ‘government’ is looking out for you in terms of reasonably affordable health insurance (Hello, Obamacare.)  Only when you’re insured, can you rest assured – or at least take a little nap.

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“Let’s buy in bulk! / Find the best deal!”

Shopping at the massive bulk item conglomerates can be quite cost effective when making purchases …if you actually use up all the items you buy.  For instance, “Octomom” could have benefited from a large supply of diapers.  You, on the other hand, may not need 200 Glade Plug-Ins.  While the individual costs of these items will be ostensibly inexpensive when you break them down, if you aren’t using the products up rapidly, then these giant quantities are effectively costing you cash.  Not to mention the annual fees that most of the wholesale clubs enforce.  Along the same lines, if you spend all day long scouring the internet for “super great deals,” you can often be tempted (and lured with clever advertising) to buy “cheap” things that you weren’t going to buy in the first place.  So great, you’ve just saved 40 cents on fabric softener with a discount code provided by a site, but you also just bought 78 dollars worth of Snuggies.

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“I see Golden Arches ahead!”

Truly, a “Dollar Value Menu” sounds like the epitome of savings/deliciousness, but if you trust your, ahem, gut, you know this is not a smart idea.  Yes, eating healthy can be costly, but ultimately it is worth it.  Scarfing down copious amounts of fast food will leave you feeling lethargic and susceptible to illness.  In the long term, doctor’s bills of any sort will always outweigh any savings you may have incurred from eating BK every day.  Repeat, do not have it your way.

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“Minimum payment: check!  I’m good to go!”

We’ve gone over a lot of the pros and cons of credit cards and how to avoid debt, but one thing is for certain; making only the minimum monthly payment on your cards is costing you a great deal.  As your balance surges higher and higher, the interest you owe also accumulates at this exponential rate, leaving you in quite the credit hole.  Try to pay as much as you can per month (unless, of course, you’ve got one of those nifty promotional cards with an APR of 0% for the first year, in which case, go buck wild.)

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“DIY, DIY, DIY!”

While some of you may love working with your hands, either digging around in a garden for weeds or popping Ikea furniture together, there is definitely a time and a place for home projects.  So let’s go over the times/places where you should NOT attempt to repair or construct things yourself (after a perfunctory Google or Bing instruction session that you deem totally adequate): fixing a hole in your steep angled roof, stopping that gas leak in your basement, putting out the fire billowing from your carburetor, building a guest-tree house for your brother-in-law to live in, capturing a rabid raccoon.  There are professionals in all these fields; if you value your safety in the least bit, please use them.  Even tasks that aren’t that dangerous can just be a colossal waste of your time.  You’ve been trying to grab it for the last three hours; you’re never going to reach that turtle your son flushed down the toilet.  Call a dang plumber immediately before you permanently lose your mind and end up in a mental hospital.

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“One day, this sparkly thing will be worth so much!”

Holding on to old diamond jewelry that you never wear anymore (or ever did, in the case of some dusty inherited pieces) is not smart.  Diamonds, and most jewelry items in general, do not appreciate in the same way that other commodities can.  If you have substantial diamonds of any nature (meaning 1 carat and larger), you should consider selling them now.  The money you make from them can then be used for something more profitable, such as a mutual fund or (a more spiritually profitable) trip to Paris or Mumbai.  Check out DiamondLighthouse.com.  We get our clients the best value for their diamond jewelry, every single time.  Find out how!

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-Joe Leone

Before You Say “I Do”…

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8 Must-Ask Questions Prior to Proposal

Most people who are on the cusp of proposing/being proposed to are familiar with the standard questions which you should ask your potential new betrothed. Such inquiries, ubiquitously regarded as mandatory, include “Do you want kids, and how will they be raised?”, “Where do you see yourself in 20+ years?”, “What religion do you practice?” and “What’s your financial status?” There are a few more topics which should be broached as well, just to fully ensure everyone is one the same premarital page. Some of these may be a little awkward to bring up, but you probably want to know if your intended spouse incessantly plays World of Warcraft all night or is a communist, right?

Any children / pets / spongy relatives I don’t know about?

Some people live their lives by the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule. If not prompted, they may never disclose the fact that they have a 12 foot long pet Komodo dragon in their attic, a gambling addicted cousin who “needs to crash for a few…months” or are the matriarch/patriarch of a whole other family, replete with 6 offspring, residing in Des Moines that they live with when on “business trips.” Sometimes you just have to ask.

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Any (other) strange relatives I don’t know about?

If you’re at the point of almost agreeing to get hitched, you’ve probably met most of your beloved’s family. This means you’ve encountered the whack jobs (every single clan has them, no need to feel ashamed of your conspiracy-theory-spouting great uncle with the monstrous monobrow). However, there sometimes lurks an abominable creature of such epic proportions that they are never even mentioned until after the nuptials have been legally confirmed and eternal vows have been spoken. At this point, it’s too late to protest when a Bigfoot-hunting hillbilly cousin shows up at your wedding reception, with a poorly wrapped, “fresh” roadkill raccoon as a present.

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I know what’s currently in your bank account…but what/who do you owe??

Look, there’s nothing wrong with being financially destitute, as long as they are totally honest about it. Even if your soon to be fiance-ed partner has shown you that they have zero available funds, there may also be a sizable debt chimera churlishly pursuing their every move. You need to explicitly ask and find out how much they owe, and to whom. If it’s 18 grand in student loans, that is something you can both work at mitigating. If it’s 100+ k to “Louie the Finger,” you may want to think twice before you walk down the aisle with this potential “hit” target.

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Have any of your exes “boiled bunnies?”

Of course it’s only natural that your honey boo has had some previous relationships (if they haven’t, and you aren’t still in high school, this may be yet another crimson flag). Even if you do not desire to dig deep into their love life past, you should gently inquire if there are any grudge holding, spell casting, stalkerific exes waiting in the bushes for you. This is not necessarily a deal breaker, you just should be prepared (with mace, a machete or judo chops).

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Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the _____ party?

Sure, you and your cuddle muffin are most likely in agreement about important political and social issues …but were they once an active participant in a violent coup, fervently sporting an anti-aircraft rifle? Yes, people can change, but if your relationship has progressed from mere dalliances to the hope of an entire life spent together, it can be vital to know of any lingering affiliations with incendiary organizations or conflicting ideologies they may be harboring. There is no circumstance where it won’t behoove you to know if they used to conduct naked rituals in moonlit forests, offering up sacrifices to various lunar deities. Nothing divides a family like differences in faith or politics…and sometimes tornados, of course.

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Who’s gonna do what?

In the America of today, both parties in a relationship often have jobs/careers that they are quite vested in. What this leads to is not a whole lot of free time to allocate for chores/home maintenance. Well, so what? The deal is that you need to figure out who is going to be responsible for what in advance, otherwise you may find yourself in a month long game of chicken with your lover over who’s taking out the recyclables. If neither of you like to cook, but both savor delicious homemade tagliatelle bolognese for dinner and western omelets at dawn, you either need to hire a live-in chef, work out a compromise or go your insatiable, separate ways.

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Kids: when, how, where, why…what’s the deal?

The super blatantly obvious topic of kids really need not be addressed here, as you clearly will have spoken to your partner about this already…or have you? You can’t be apprehensive about asking your beau if they a) want kids at all, b) want to raise them in a particular fashion (say, for instance, solely speaking French), c) how many of the little nuggets do you want scuttling about, d) when do you want them disrupting/enriching your lives, and e) who’s taking time off to initially rear the little adorable runts? Get all this out of the way (along with any other …eccentric requests regarding your offspring) and you’ll be all set and can avoid the morass of opposing child upbringing doctrines. Then you just have to deal with actually feeding, clothing and iPhoning them…

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Who’s in charge of planning out the perennially-pressure-packed-to-be-perfect wedding day?

The rules of wedding planning have changed a fair amount over the last decade or so. What was once a “bride-to-be” specific activity is now open territory, as giddy grooms want in on the action. Lest we forget, possible interloping parents in the equation. There’s a solid chance there are going to be a lot of (often imperious) personalities and opinions flying around. Have an open talk about where you want this blessed day to take place, who is invited, how much ground you’re actually going to let your parents cover and who exactly is paying for this thing (which on average costs around 30k in these glorious United States we live in). Better to have this convo now, than later when one of you excitedly suggests a destination wedding at a remote chateau, yet your partner has their heart set on the Elks Lodge in town.

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Hopefully everyone will be able to tackle any and all unresolved issues before sparkly diamond cynosures are slipped on ring fingers. If things simply can not be worked out, and you happen to be stuck with a diamond ring (or, they are temporarily worked out, and only later are you stuck with the dang thing), there is at least a place you can sell it off for a sizable amount. Diamond Lighthouse takes in all diamonds (1 carat and higher), and helps you recover lost funds.  We do not buy diamonds, rather we aid you in selling yours to a vetted network of professional buyers.  We take a commission from the sale (10% on those 1 carat and larger stones), so we naturally want to get you the highest amount possible.

Getting cash back for unneeded diamond jewelry of any nature is always a step in the right direction. Then you will be even better prepared to get out there and find the right person for you: someone who doesn’t have insane relatives or allegiances to despotic rulers or evil entities.

Happy engaging!

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-Joe Leone

Divorce Rates and the Economy

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Locked in a loveless marriage for years, the prospect of divorce can seem impossible given certain economic restraints.  Simply put, when you’re broke, you just can’t afford to separate.  So, over the last few years, there has been good news on both fronts: the economy has gone up, as well as divorce rates.

Bloomberg.com found that “the number of Americans getting divorced rose for the third year in a row to about 2.4 million in 2012, after plunging in the 18-month recession ended June 2009, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.”

With the newfound freedom of financial stability, divorce rates have peaked.  This is in stark contrast to the way things were in 2008, on the tail of the massive recession.  Divorce rates shriveled up then.  This is not an anomaly, historically speaking.  As reported by latimes.com, “’This is exactly what happened in the 1930s,’ said Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew Cherlin. ‘The divorce rate dropped during the Great Depression not because people were happier with their marriages, but because they couldn’t afford to get divorced.’”

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According to huffingtonpost.com, “divorce rates declined after the economy took a hit in 2007, which some scholars later hailed as a “silver lining” to the recession, espousing that couples became stronger in a time of crisis.”  A more accurate interpretation of this data has revealed that couples were not banding together to combat the wintry economic climate, but simply that legally separating was not financially feasible for them.  The cost of the divorce itself, court mandated alimony or child support fees, realty agent costs for securing new housing, everyday bills no longer split between two people; these are all factors which keep a couple forcibly intact.

The relationship between divorce and the economy isn’t one sided either.  Since the inception of widespread splitting, divorce has had a resolutely adverse impact on the financial well being of the country.  As stated by economicdevelopment.org:  “Divorce slows economic growth with its negative impact on productivity.”  The newly single enjoy less salary bumps than those in similar positions who are married, especially men.  Equally (negatively) affected are women, and their offspring: “women and children in single-parent households are at particular risk for living in poverty and indeed family earnings for half of the nation’s children have been falling over time,” reports brookings.edu.  However, there is one noteworthy aspect of the economy which is positively affected: the housing industry.  When a couple splits, the need for at least one more lodging often arises.  In some circumstances, both parties will leave the place they currently inhabit, thus two new spaces are sought.  This has contributed to a boost in apartment complex construction, in addition to regular smaller houses.  Then, naturally, are all the new things that go into the home: appliances, furnishings, decorations, etc.

Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-house-grab-handsAn interesting statistic that goes hand in hand with the divorce rate increase is the simultaneous rise in birth rate.  While these two seem diametrically opposed, the reality is that the couples that do indeed stay together during finically booming times are becoming less reluctant to take on the notoriously high costs of child rearing.  “Birth rates and divorce rates are rising. We may even see them rise strongly in the next couple of years, as households who put off these life-changing events decide to act.” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics (theatlantic.com).  Thus a homeostatic level of population is organically reached: some couples are splitting apart, but the ones that stay together are conceiving will vigor.

As the economy (hopefully) continues to rebound, it is not certain whether divorce percentages will be buoyed at the same rate.  Whatever the implications of a thriving national economy ultimately are, most people can agree that it’s a positive thing when we can enjoy more and more freedoms, whatever they may be.

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If you have gone through a divorce and need additional funds, a profitable and stress-free solution is to sell your old diamond engagement and/or wedding ring with Diamond Lighthouse.  We are experts at procuring the most money for you, so you can put it towards a new home, transportation costs, childcare or any other relevant expense.  We put you in full control of the process, so you can confidently move on – all on your own terms.

Find out more.

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-Joe Leone

The Silver Separators: Financial Implications of Divorce After 60

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The concept of marriage may need to hire a new P.R. rep.  As new marriages among millennials have seen a steady drop over the years, established marriages are not lasting as long as they once were either.  One group in particular where the divorce rate has spiked is seniors.  The trending term applied to these newly liberated individuals is “Silver Separators.”  While many are enjoying their newfound relationship freedom, there could be some not too pleasant financial consequences to this later in life uncoupling.

Continue reading The Silver Separators: Financial Implications of Divorce After 60

Divorce Means More than Just the Loss of a Spouse

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According to a study done by Utah State University, the average divorcing individual can’t maintain their standard of living after a divorce. That study showed the average divorcee needs a more than 30% increase in income to maintain the same standard of living they had prior to their divorce.

It seems that women are hit the hardest when it comes to divorce, but statistics show that everyone is affected, and sometimes not in the ways one may think. About one in five women fall into poverty as a result of divorce. Part of the reason is related to children: three out of four divorced mothers don’t receive the full child support due to them. Another part of that heightened risk of poverty is related to home ownership: about 1/3 of women who own a home and have children lose their home to divorce. Research indicates that most women do not recover from the hit to their standard of living unless they remarry.
Continue reading Divorce Means More than Just the Loss of a Spouse