Hello friends! Praise be, the election is over and I just marked my birthday over the weekend – my official holiday season milestone. Whenever the calendar passes November 8, I feel like I can finally turn 100% of my attention to all things holiday. Obviously, the holidays are going to look and feel very different than years past. Perhaps instead of the holiday season, we should start referring to the next few months as the hunker down season. Because that’s what holidays in the time of Covid are going to require of us. But I’m not entirely mad about the idea of holing up at home. I’ll take a very valid excuse to look for ways to make my home as cozy, comforting, and beautiful as possible.
Enter the new rug collection from Beni Rugs, designed by my style soul twin, Colin King.
Called the Shape of Color, this new rug collection offers eleven Moroccan style rugs. Each rug features shocks of color inspired by Tangier and Marrakech. The hues are deeply saturated in simple geometric shapes or big bold stripes.
While I typically eschew color, rugs are a wonderful spot to inject something fresh into a room. I used a bold colored rug in my own living room. The particularly nice thing about a rug – it’s an easy way to reenergize a space without really having to change anything else.
There are a few secrets to picking out a rug. First, you want to think about size. A common mistake is getting a rug that is too small. You want all (or nearly all) your furniture in a space to sit on your rug. That helps a room feel anchored and like everything is working together. A too-small rug will actually make a small space feel even smaller!
Next, you want to think about foot traffic. If you’re looking to put a rug in a high foot traffic area, you’ll want to ensure any rug you select will withstand an onslaught of dirt and use.
Finally, when adding a colorful rug to your space you don’t need to “match your decor. You just want to keep everything in the same design family. Do you decorate with mostly warm colors or cooler tones? That will help you pick your colors.
If you’re looking to upgrade the coziness of your home before the holidays hit, I definitely think one of these rugs would be a great way to do it. I’m already debating which one I might add to our house. I do have a home office refresh in the works! If I pick out one of these rugs – I’ll be sure to share.
How are you planning on sprucing up your spaces for the holidays?
images c/o beni rugs
The post A Cozy New Rug Collection appeared first on Apartment34.
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Saving and investing for college expenses may seem overwhelming, but setting aside even small amounts can give your child a head start. While many people are aware of tax-efficient investing accounts like 529 plans, you may not know about UGMA/UTMA accounts – another way to save for educational and other expenses.
In this article, weâll take a look at UGMA and UTMA custodial accounts, what they are, and how to determine the best way to save for your kidsâ future, while getting tax advantages.
What are UGMA and UTMA accounts?
UGMA stands for the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act and UTMA stands for Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. Account-holders are âcustodians,â and may transfer money into the account to benefit the minor, but the money is managed by the custodian. Typically the money is released to the minor at the age of majority (usually 21 but sometimes 18 or other ages).
How do UGMA and UTMA accounts differ from 529 plans?
529 plans differ from UGMA/UTMA account in a few key areas:
- 529 plans can only be used for educational expenses, while UGMA/UTMA accounts can be used for anything that benefits the child. .
- 529 plans are owned and controlled by the person who created the account – with UTMA/UGMA accounts, the funds are transferred to the beneficiary at the age of majority.
- Unlike 529 plans, custodial accounts are considered the property of the child, which means that it counts for a higher percentage in financial aid calculations.
The two types of plans share some similarities:
- Both types of accounts are considered custodial accounts that can be used for the benefit of a minor.
- Anyone can contribute to either type of account â there are no restrictions based on oneâs personal income
If you have a medium to long-term horizon, either a UGMA/UTMA account or a 529 account is usually better than just putting your money in a savings account at a low-interest rate. And donât forget that it is possible to have both a 529 plan AND a UGMA/UTMA account for the same child.
Why You Need to Open a UGMA/UTMA Account for Your Kids
Unlike with a 529 plan, the funds in a custodial account do not have to be used solely for higher-education expenses. The custodian can withdraw money in a UGMA/UTMA custodial account for any expense that benefits the child, like technology, transportation, housing, or any other expense for the child.
The biggest advantage of UGMA/UTMA custodial accounts is their flexibility. Because they can be used for a wide array of expenses, you can use the money in the account even if your child chooses not to go to college. While earnings do not grow completely tax-free like in a 529 plan, earnings in a UGMA/UTMA account are tax-advantaged, but in a different way.
Depending on how you file your tax return, a guardian can choose to include their childâs unearned income with their own tax return. Unearned income is money that doesnât come from employment, like from interest or investments. In 2020, the first $1,100 of a childâs unearned income can be claimed on the guardiansâ tax return tax-free, and the next $1,100 is taxed at the childâs tax rate, which is likely much lower than their parentâs.
Things to watch out for with UGMA or UTMA accounts
If youâre looking to save money or transfer assets to your kids for a variety of expenses beyond education, a UGMA/UTMA custodial account can make a lot of sense. One thing to watch out for is that a UGMA/UTMA account is tied specifically to one named beneficiary. Unlike a 529 plan, where you can transfer the money in an account to a sibling or other beneficiary, with a UGMA/UTMA account, any unused funds must be used or distributed by the time the child reaches their age of majority or their stateâs maximum age for custodial accounts.
Apps like Acorns are making it easy to start a UTMA/UGMA account with their new product, Acorns Early. You can start in under a few minutes and set Recurring Investments starting at $5 a day, week, or month. Fun fact: If you invest $5 a day from birth, considering a 7% average annual market return, you could have more than $70,000 by the time the child turns 18. To learn more, visit Acorns.com/Early.
The post Why You Need to Open a UGMA/UTMA Account for Your Kids appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Weâre living in an age of convenience. Groceries can be delivered, clothes can be picked out for you and just about every TV show and movie ever made can be beamed straight into your living room. If I had the money, I could get pretty much everything I need without ever leaving my house.
But unfortunately, I donât have the money. Do you?
As our society has collectively fallen in love with subscription services, many of us have let them take over our budget. Because these are recurring expenses, itâs all too easy to sign up and forget about your card being charged every month.
Itâs time to finally ask yourself -are all of these subscription services worth the money?
Are You Spending Too Much on Subscription Services?
Before you can decide if meal subscription and delivery services are eating up too much of your budget, you have to figure out how much youâre spending on them. This is a very subjective and personal question that depends on your income, total spending and other goals.
Look at your monthly subscription and food delivery spending in Mint, checking to see if the numbers align with your budget. Take the time to sort and categorize the transactions if you havenât done so in a while. It may help to look through several monthâs worth of expenses, because some subscription services like FabFitFun only ship once a quarter.
Spending may also vary based on the seasons or other external factors. You may spend more on food delivery services during final exams because youâre too busy to meal plan. If the seasons change and you donât have any clothes, you may spend more on personal styling services.
Once you have an accurate account of how much you spend, compare it to your income and other expenses. Spending $50 a week on a meal kit service doesnât mean anything without context. You need to know how that compares to your other expenses.
How to Cut Down on Subscription Services
If you found that youâre overspending on subscription services, it doesnât mean that you need to cut them out entirely. Think about how much value each service provides to your life, and prioritize where your money is going.
Make a list of all the subscription services you currently have and how much you spend on them each month. Then rank the subscription and delivery services from most important to least.
Write down how often you actually use the products or services. Be honest with yourself. The goal is to keep the boxes and services that you actually use, love and enjoy on a regular basis. This can help you identify which services donât fit into your lifestyle – or budget.
Try to be as objective and ruthless as possible here. Yes, you may love getting the monthly Stitch Fix box in the mail, but do you actually keep the clothes they send? Learning to cook with Blue Apron may be a worthy goal, but do you actually like the meals they send?
Once you have a list of essential subscriptions, look at your budget again and determine how much money is left for those services. If the available amount is greater than the total cost, youâre in the clear.
However, if the amount is more than you can afford, itâs time to go back to the drawing board. If you absolutely canât bear the thought of parting with your subscriptions, youâll have to look at cuts you can make in other spending categories.
How to Save on Subscription Services
Chances are, youâre paying more for some of your subscription services than is absolutely necessary. Most video streaming services let you watch multiple screens at once so you can split it with friends or family. Some even have student deals if you have a university email address. Your school may even have its own special agreements with certain providers.
If there are a lot of subscription services you want to keep, consider alternating which ones you use throughout the year. Most subscription and delivery services make it easy to cancel and resubscribe later.
For example, if you have a beauty box subscription and a bathroom full of toiletries, quit the service until youâve used most of the products. Many of these products expire, so youâll be saving money and cutting down on waste.
If you subscribe services but only use them during a particular season, like a streaming service tied to a seasonal sport, get rid of them and reactivate when youâre ready. You can also do this with streaming services that only have a few shows youâre interested in. Once youâre done watching Stranger Things, for example, you can deactivate your Netflix membership for no penalty.
Seek Alternative Ways to Save
Looking for cheaper versions of your favorite services can also help you avoid overspending. Some grocery stores now have meal kits similar to Blue Apron or HelloFresh. Itâs not as convenient, but itâs a much more affordable alternative.
Many companies give customers referral codes they can send out to friends and family. When people use your referral codes, youâll earn free credit or cash. For example, Barkbox provides a free month if someone signs up for a six or 12-month membership through your referral link.
Sometimes companies will have a special coupon for new customers that use referral codes, like Stitch Fix who provide a $25 bonus for both the new customer and the one who referred them.
You can share these links on social media, by text or through email. Some programs have a limit on how much you can earn with referral codes, but it never hurts to try. If you end up exceeding that amount, you can apply for their official affiliate program to earn cash instead of credit.
If you do cancel a program, check your bank account to make sure youâre no longer paying for it. Some services are guilty of occasionally charging former subscribers even after theyâve quit.
Which subscription service are you going to cut back on this year? Let us know in the comments!
The post Are All the Food Delivery and Subscription Services Worth It? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
It amazes us how quickly our girls are growing up. Next month when school starts up again, weâll have a fourth-grader and a kindergartener.
Even though we have some time before they are ready to move out of the house, we want to spend time now prepare them for the big transition. As a parent, you probably feel the same way too.Â
One crucial piece of a financial foundation kids and in particular, teens, need to master is learning to budget (and sticking with it),
While theyâre home now, you have a fantastic opportunity to get them comfortable with handling their money.
If youâre not sure where to start, here are some tips from fellow parents and experts in the personal finance space to make teaching this life skill a bit easier less stressful for you and your teen!
Teach Your Teen to Budget for Real Life
Teens or not, whenever most people hear the word budget, they also hear the word ânoâ. To them, budgets feel like a strict diet. Just as fad diets fail, an unrealistic or extreme budget will more than likely discourage your teen and they will quit.
The first step before you even talk about the numbers is to discuss exactly what a successful and sustainable budget should be. When done right, a budget is something that helps you move your money towards your goals. Explain to them that at its root, budget is simply a plan about what theyâd like to do.
You want a budget that can cover:
- Â Â Essential bills
- Â Â Future goals
- Â Â Discretionary expenses
When your teenâs budget covers those goals, theyâre not only putting their finances in a good spot, but theyâre moving closer to their specific long term dreams.
Creating a Doable Budget (Theyâll Actually Enjoy!)
Once your teen(s) understands how a budget works, itâs important for them to create a budget that they can use in the real world. You can honestly budget however you want, but an easy budget to get your teen started is the 50/20/30.
Quite simplify, the 50/20/30 budget puts money into those three main buckets:
- Â Â 50%Â goes towards essentials
- Â Â 20% towards savings (or investing)
- Â Â 30% for fun and discretionary expenses
I appreciate how easy and flexible this budget can be. You can adjust the percentages for your teenâs needs, but it gives them some ballpark idea of how to portion their finances when they are out on their own.
How do you start them out on this budget?
With teens, you may have expenses like clothing or their cellphone bill count as essentials, or you may want to give your child the experience of being responsible for a small, shared family bill while they are still at home.
For older teens, you could even charge them a nominal ârentâ to offset their portion of the bills. In some cases, parents give that money back to their child as a gift to help with moving expenses (like for their security deposit) or use as additional savings.Â
However you decide, talk it over so your teen understands why youâre doing it this way.
Share Your Family Budget
Creating a budget isnât complicated, but it can difficult if your teen has no idea what to expect. Knowledge can be empowering.
While we may take it for granted since have to deal with the numbers, but your teen may not be aware of how much it takes to keep the lights on and roof over their heads. If you havenât already shared your own budget already, now is the time.
Not knowing also puts them at a disadvantage when they start searching for a place or are comparing prices on expenses. Being armed with the numbers makes your teenager a more informed consumer.
When Your Teen Breaks Their Budget
Will there be times where your teenager will mess up with their budget? Probably so. However, thatâs not necessarily a bad thing. As parents, we tend to want to protect our kids, but we also have to prepare them for the real world. As Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled, pointed out we should let our kids make financial mistakes.Â
Wouldnât it be better for your child to break the clothing budget while theyâre still at home allowing you to help guide them through rather than having break their monthly budget while they are on their own and have bills to pay?
Mistakes will happen, theyâre a part of life so giving your teen time to work those them and adjust their budget is a blessing for their future selves.
Essential Accounts for Your TeenÂ to Have
Since weâre talking about budgets, we should also mention some essential accounts youâd want your kid to have so they can practice managing their money.
Opening up student checking and savings accounts (usually free low on fees as well as not having minimum balance requirements) are good foundational accounts for your teen. They can deal with real-world situations pending charges, automatic transfers, and direct deposits.
As Family Balance Sheet founder Kristia Ludwick pointed out, teens should have the skill of balancing a checkbook even if they decide to go all-digital with their banking.
If they work, talk it over together and see if they can open up an IRA and start contributing. It doesnât have to be much. The idea is to get them familiar and comfortable with the basics of investing.
Even if they put in $25 a paycheck, having them practice setting aside money in their budget for both long and short term goals is an invaluable lesson. You can also encourage them to contribute by offering a match for what they put in.
How Teens Can Easily Stay on Top of Their Money
With several accounts to keep tabs on, your teen is going to need an easy system to track their budget and goals.
With Mint, they can link up their accounts in one secure spot. They can also add their budget along with any savings goals they want to hit and make sure they stick with them.
Hopefully, these ideas and tips will make it easier to help your teen transition into a self-sufficient adult.
The post How to Teach Your Teen to Budget Like a Pro appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Hi friends. So sorry to go completely MIA on you. Between attempting online school with a five-year-old, much of California burning to the ground, and the general state total chaos in which we find ourselves, getting to the computer for any length of time has been a bit of challenge, to put it mildly. And then I blinked and summer is officially over.
But I had to finally get on here as I have big news for you!
They say you shouldn’t make major life decisions during times of extreme stress, right? Well, we decided to throw all caution to the wind and instead have purchased a coastal cottage in Washington State! Apparently a global pandemic, homeschooling a kindergartner and the most consequential presidential election of our lifetime wasn’t enough to keep me busy.
In all seriousness, if the past seven months of Covid have taught us anything, it’s the importance of friends and family and so we decided to create a gathering place that can bring together those we love most for years to come. Nestled within the myriad of inlets and islands that dot the Puget Sound north of Seattle, the cottage enjoys sweeping views of the Olympic mountains and Hood Canal. I consider it my official respite from the impending doom. Sadly it looks nothing like the inspiration images I’ve collected here.
Instead, it is going to take a LOT of work to get our little coastal cottage visitor ready – and in a very short period of time. Over the coming weeks, I plan to take you along on the entire design journey. I will be sharing everything with you – from the cottage’s current state, to all of my design inspiration and through the remodel process. If all goes according to plan, I’ll share a major before and after reveal in time to spend the holiday season with our family rather than more than 800 miles away.
Trust me, we’re going to have plenty to discuss, as I have to pick an entire household’s worth of things – from paint colors and kitchen cabinets down to dishware, bedding and everything in between. No design decision will be left unturned. It’s both exhilarating and incredibly daunting. These mood boards are just part my first ideation session for my dream vibe.
I’m hopeful sharing this process with you will offer you some fresh design ideas and positive inspiration as we all hunker down to weather what will undoubtedly be a stormy fall – be it literally or just politically. It’s been a rather dark year and I feel like this might be a way to share a little bit of light. I know I am very happy for the creative distraction. I hope you are too.
I can’t wait to share more very soon!
The post A September State of Mind appeared first on Apartment34.