Is Volunteering Worth It?

household budgets

Is volunteering worth the cost?

Is volunteering worth it…or would you (and the organization) be better off if you just gave money? As a RichMama you know I spend a lot of time micro managing my budget – so that you don’t have to – my goal is to find those unobvious (and obvious money sinks) and find ways to plug them.

And I recently realized that my good works were costing me money – way more money than I thought. Now I fully believe in giving time and money to worthy causes – from national organizations for diseases to more home grown ones like historic preservation and education. After all both of these causes are important – since I have kids and I live where I live because of its “charm”.

As a result of my dedication I have been asked, in recent years to head committees, join boards – in effect become more involved. I have met more people, had fun, planned cool things and raised money. In addition to my time I also made out right cash donations.

But as I counted those up – they seemed reasonnable – but still I felt like something was slipping through my fingers – I realized the hidden costs of being a volunteer…

– Babysitting, snacks and extra obligations
As a super volunteer, I was often asked to attend planning meetings and work at events…in many cases, I had to hire a babysitter in order to meet these commitments…(at about $60 a pop, with 1-2 meetings a month…)

As a super volunteer, I often brought refreshments to meetings to make it more fun – an app, a bottle of wine – (figure about $15-20 a pop 1-2 meetings month…)

Extras – donating anything from ribbons, to streamers to envelopes to tapes and markers – little things that somehow add up – $20 a month

Guess what my volunteering costs were close to $200 a month – not to mention the money I donated outright.

And then it hit me… wouldn’t it be better to split the difference – and give myself back a whole lot of time too (not to mention cost).

If gave the charity half of my volunteering costs they would see way more money and I would have way more money in my budget…for whatever…
I would have more time with my family or for myself…

But what does a charity need more — volunteers or cash. Are my time commitments priceless? Or is giving time better left for those without the obligations of young children, jobs, businesses, etc?

What do you think?

Rent vs Owning A Home – What’s Right

Rent vs Owning A Home – What’s the Right Thing to So

So rent vs owning a home – what is the right thing to do?  Rough economic times “encourage” us to think about our spending habits, lifestyles and living situations. Some of the questions to ask yourself during economic upheaval include:

 

  • How can I lower my general spending?
  • What do I need to revamp about my lifestyle to preserve more cash?
  • Is it time to change my living situation?

During such self-reflection , you might find yourself delving into the idea of rent vs owning a home – perhaps it would be to your advantage to rent.

Rent vs Owning a Home – Financial Pros of Renting

 

  1. Fewer maintenance and replacement costs. When you rent a house, you don’t have to pay to replace the appliances. Plus, if the plumbing goes haywire, all you have to do is call your landlord. When it’s time to paint, you don’t have to do it. So from this point of view, rent vs owning a home looks better.
  • Many landlords will let you perform maintenance tasks for a reduction in the amount of rent you pay, so then maintenance you do yourself becomes income or savings instead of an expense.
  • In short , no money goes out of your pocket when the home requires maintenance or appliances need repairs.

Other benefits of rent vs owning a home:

  1. No taxes to pay. It’s not unusual for even inexpensive property taxes to amount to $200 or more per month. A real benefit if you rent is you won’t have to pay separate property taxes.
  2. No more bills for homeowners’ insurance. Even for a smaller home, homeowners’ insurance can cost an average of $100 per month. Alternatively, renters’ insurance is less expensive. This can be a big benefit of rent vs owning a home.
  3. Just pay rent. When you rent, you don’t have the headache of all the extra costs that being a homeowner entails. For a flat amount each month, you’ve got a place to live that someone else is responsible for.
  4. Few cares about maintaining care of your home. Sometimes, home ownership can get nerve-wracking. Appliances start breaking down and keeping up with the maintenance tasks can be costly and entail a lot of work. When you rent, these issues are left up to someone else.

 

Rent vs Owning a Home – Exploring Home Ownership

Although you now see the advantages of renting a home, there are other issues to think about as well.

 

Consider the following questions regarding home ownership:

 

  1. Do you know how to do home maintenance and repairs? Do you like to do home maintenance tasks? Some people enjoy these types of “busy work” tasks. Others find them to be an interruption to their lives.
  • If you know how to do maintenance tasks (painting, performing various “fix-it” jobs and the like) and you don’t mind or even like doing them, you’re one step closer to home ownership. You have to take care of what you own…
  • Of course, it’s necessary to set aside a maintenance budget for these tasks.
  1. Do you plan to stay in your home for more than a few years? Home ownership is something that tends to pay off over the long haul, rather than in the short term, like renting.
  2. Do you have steady wage that provides enough money to provide for your family? Having some extra money each month makes home ownership a lot easier. When you make good money, it’s less stressful to handle owning a home.

If you answered, “yes” to all three questions, home ownership may be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you answered “no” to even one of these questions, renting might be your best option.

 

When determining whether rent vs owning a home, consider all the angles. If money is scarce, your job is not as steady and predictable as you’d like, and you don’t know how to do maintenance tasks, jumping into home ownership may not be the best plan for you. Renting might be your best choice for now.

 

If, on the other hand, you have the maintenance skills, love the idea of taking care of your home after work, and have an income you can count on, it’s time to take the leap. Rent vs owning a home can sometimes be the best thing for you.

How Do You Get A Lower Rate on Your Credit Card

lower rate on credit card

Ask to Get a Lower Rate on Your Credit Card

So just how do you get a lower rate on your credit card? Ask, Ask, and ask again.  Yes – straight from the RichMama Secrets files – here’s my personal story of getting the APR on one of my credit cards lowered dramatically.  It’s an all too familiar story – mama shops, spends and puts it on plastic – with the intent of paying it off one day…Well that one day comes and RichMama got serious about getting rich…by working with what she had.

One of the first tasks (after figuring out where all the money was going) – was attacking those credit card balances.  After discovering that I was paying almost $800 on minimums and interest payments every month I decided to eliminate credit card debt forever.

So I pulled out those cards, figured out the balances, the monthly payments and the current interest rate or APR – and I realized that for someone with great credit, and a perfect repayment record I was paying an APR that was too high – 22% – on one of the cards.  No wonder this card – with its relatively small balance – compared to the others – never seemed to go away.

The Different Debt Repayment Approaches

When deciding to pay off credit cards there are a few approaches – the first is the debt snowball, where you take your smallest debt – no matter what the interest rate is – and pay it off as fast as possible (while still paying the minimum on all your other debts).  You throw everything extra you have at this small debt and pay it off – hurrah – you feel pretty often and one payment is gone (at this point, if you haven’t already you should freeze the card, or cut it up – you don’t have to cut up the account – but just do something to that card to ensure you never, ever use it again…)

You then take the money you were throwing at that card and move onto your next smallest debt and pay that one off – and so on. You do this regardless of the interest rate on the debt because you want your debt payments to be like a giant snowball rolling down the hill in one of those old Scooby Doos – the amount of money you put towards debt repayment snowballs – and you pay off your debt.

On the other hand, other people say you should take the debt with the highest interest rate, regardless of size and pay that one down first – since the higher interest rate is costing you more bucks the longer you wait.

Pick Your Debt Repayment Methods

I say – be smart about it – there is something very satisfying about paying off a debt completely forever as quickly as possible – and then attacking the next one and so on.  I would say if you can pay off a small debt in a reasonable amount of time – say 2 -3 months – then the sense of accomplishment is more important than interest rates.

In my case  – the smallest balance and the highest interest rate were on the same card. So one day when the kids were in school (except for the littlest one) I got on the phone.  Now I know most banks or credit cards have 24/7 service, but in reality, when it’s nighttime in the US and you’re calling at 4 in the morning, you’re not likely to get onshore support.  So if you can, do this during the day.  In my case, there were dirty dishes in the sink and crumbs from breakfast – but it was worth it.

Lower The Rate On Your Credit Card – Ask, Ask and Ask

So you call and you politely say that you’d like to get a lower rate on your card.  You mention you have been a good customer and you have several offers in hand for 0% balance transfer with an ongoing rate of 10%. Always shoot for a lower rate than you want to accept.

To make this more believable, either pull out one of your offers that you received in the mail or check out bankrate.com for some names to drop.

The first person will say they can’t help you – you say “Great – may I speak to someone who can – your supervisor. please?” U

You will speak to the supervisor who will say she can’t help you  – don’t give up – ask to speak to someone who can – keep asking and even if you get passed around, keep pushing – I spoke to 5 different people before I reached the end of the line.

Lower Rate on Your Credit Card – Be Ready to Walk

And at the end of the line, I got this story – my account was already under review and within 2-3 months I might be notified that I was eligible for a rate decrease – so while the account was under review, there was nothing anyone could do…HUH?

So this is where the ulimatum comes in – I said,very politely – “That’s unacceptable.  If there is nothing you can do RIGHT NOW, then I will close the account, RIGHT NOW – do you really want to lose a good customer of X years because my account is under review?”

And that my fellow mamas – was the secret sauce – by threatening to close my account, I got an instant answer – in fact it was if all of the other excuses I had been given earlier evaporated.  My rate was reduced to 15% from 22% – not the 10 or 12% I had been hoping for  – but a big reduction and one that ultimately made it a lot faster for me to pay off that debt – and then take that payment and put to the next one on the list.

Three Great Reasons to Pay Off Credit Card

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Why Your Need to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Now!

pay off credit cardIt’s important to pay off  your credit card debt now. It is an unpleasant fact that millions of people have too much credit card debt and do not seem to be able to pay anything more than the minimum payments each month.  At that rate, it could take years to pay off credit card debt.

Why should you worry about carrying credit card debt?  If our government can run up 14 trillion dollars in debt, what is so bad about having 10 or 20 thousand dollars in credit card debt?  And if the government won’t pay it down, why you should you pay off credit card debt?

For more ways on how to pay off credit card debt check out this article: http://richmamasecrets.com/how-do-you-get-out-of-debt-a-working-plan/

Here are 3 reasons why you should try to pay off credit card debt.

1. Interest Payments are Outrageous

With most credit cards charging customers 15%-20% for the privilege of borrowing money to buy items that you may or may not really need, it can wind up costing you twice as much for your purchases as what you originally paid for them. This is a big incentive to pay off credit card debt.  On every credit card statement there will be a box that warns consumers of how long it will take to pay off the balance if you only make the minimum payments.  Take a look at that box the next time you get your statement.  It can be a real eye-opener. This alone is a great reason to pay off credit card debt now.

2. High Balances Can Hurt Your Credit Score

Even if you are current on your monthly credit card payments, carrying a high balance at or near your credit limit can negatively impact your credit rating or FICO score.  Rating agencies check the ratio of total credit you have to the amount you have used.  A ratio exceeding 50% can lower your score and also affect your ability to get new credit in the future. This is another great reason to pay off credit card debt now – so that when you want to buy something “big” – like a house or a car – you’re in the best shape – credit-wise – that you can be.

3. Pay Off Credit Card Debt to Avoid Mental Anguish

Many people with high levels of debt and big credit card balances get very stressed out worrying about how they are going to pay their bills.  By lowering or eliminating your credit card debt, you will suddenly find yourself feeling free.  While being debt free  and committing to pay off credit debt does not guarantee happiness, it does guarantee that a level of stress can be removed from your life.

For more ways on how to pay off credit card debt check out this article – http://richmamasecrets.com/how-do-you-get-out-of-debt-a-working-plan/

Do You Have a Compulsive Shopping Addiction?

Do You Have a Compulsive Shopping Addiction?

 

compulsive shoppingIs compulsive shopping ruining your life? An important part of living the good life is figuring out how to have what you want now and still save for the future. Do you find that, even though you want to save, you repeatedly spend way too much? When do you cross the line from spending too much money to  compulsive shopping and spending?

 

Although it isn’t listed in mental health professionals’ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-TR (Text Revision), the fact is that compulsive shopping as similarities to mental health challenges such as kleptomania and even alcohol/drug addiction. It is certainly a recognized addiction in many families.

In compulsive shopping, the behavior of spending money alters how you feel at first. Later, those “high” feelings transform into guilt or self-loathing due to over-spending. Have you ever felt that way? Do you feel that you may be struggling with compulsive shopping?

Questions to Ask Yourself to Determine if You’re Compulsive Shopping

  1. When you spend money, do you experience an adrenaline rush or a “high?” Spending money on items that you need or require is the natural thing to do. However, if you’re shopping and spending just to change how you feel, you could be compulsively shopping.
  • Feeling an adrenaline rush or a sense of excitement and thrill (a “high”) when you shop and spend is a red flag.
  1. Do you buy items that you never end up using? Maybe you have possessions stacked everywhere or taking up a lot of your living space. Or do you place stuff you bought in your closet where you find them later with the tags still affixed to them? It’s a tell-tale sign of a compulsive shopping addiction.
  • Even though you may not have a full-blown “hoarding” situation, collecting things you can’t use could signal you struggle with compulsive shopping.
  1. How do you usually feel? When you aren’t shopping or spending money, do you experience anxiety, feeling down, or “the blahs?” Experts believe that people who are compulsively shopping are seeking the rush to avoid feeling the way they usually do, which is unhappy or anxious.
  • Take a serious look at how you feel much of the time when you’re just living your everyday life.
  1. Do you keep your purchases secret? Do you sometimes avoid being honest with your partner about how much money you’ve spent or even conceal items you’ve bought from your loved ones? Fearing reprisal from loved ones for purchases you made means you’ve probably had such experiences in the past.
  • Compulsive shopping can be tough on your personal relationships.
  1. Can you pay your monthly bills? When it comes time to pay your regularly occurring bills to live (utilities, for example), do you have enough money to cover all your expenses? A high price to pay for compulsive shopping  is struggling to cover your actual bills due to over-spending.
  2. Do you spend more money now than ever before? When looking back at your spending habits over time, do you see yourself progressively spending more and more money with less regard for your budget? Because of the mental health aspects of compulsive sshopping behaviors, compulsive spending tends to gradually increase as time goes by.

 

What Can You Do About Compulsive Shopping?

 

  1. Liberate yourself. The good news is that if you’ve already identified yourself as as someone who compulsively shops, you’re now free to take steps to decrease your spending.
  2. Set up a budget with the help of your partner or a close friend. Seeking guidance from those you trust is important. Vow to stick to your budget.
  3. Avoid temptation. For now, decide to stay out of the stores, off of the online shopping sites, and away from the televised shopping networks.
  4. Work on developing a positive mindset. If you feel better in your daily life, you won’t need to seek the adrenaline rush that compulsive shopping gives you provides.
  5. Consider talking to a mental health professional about your situation. You might benefit from additional therapeutic support from a professional, neutral third party. Yes seriously – this could make a huge difference.  You will wind up saving money!

 

If you’re concerned about your shopping and spending, honestly answer the questions to determine if you may be compulsively shopping and spending money.

 

Once you recognize you need to reduce spending and change how you feel on a day-to-day basis, put the above 5 steps into action. You will find a more fulfilling and secure financial life by avoiding compulsive shopping.