school graduation

Budget Friendly High School Graduation Gift ideas

High school graduation is usually an exciting time for students and their families. While current circumstances may not always allow for official graduation ceremonies and after parties, parents and other family members can still help their kids celebrate with a number of different – and affordable – gift options.

Below are just a few great ideas for affordable gifts that you can surprise your high school graduate with:

  1. A Plush Bathrobe

Plush bathrobes are an absolute must for teens that are about to embark on their college journeys because they’re ideal for those really chilly mornings, lazy afternoons and for getting to and from the communal bathrooms. Nowadays, these bathrobes are available in virtually any color and style you can think of, so there’s sure to be one that will suit even the fussiest high school grad.

  1. A Portable Bluetooth Speaker

This will probably be one of the most-used gifts you give because it can be used virtually anywhere, from inside the dorm room playing soft music while studying to out and about or around the pool over the weekends while relaxing. These speakers can be purchased for as little as $50 in some cases, depending on brand preference.

  1. A Mattress Topper

Most dorm room beds are not of the most comfortable varieties, which is why giving the gift of a high quality mattress topper will make all the difference when it comes to getting a good night’s rest away from home. Several varieties are available, ranging from basic foam to top of the range cooling gel options.

  1. A French Press

Is your recent graduate a coffee lover? If so, a double-walled stainless steel French press will be the ideal gift for them to pack in their bag for college. Not only is the stainless steel unbreakable, you or your graduate won’t have to continually fork out money for disposable filters and K-Cups over time either.

  1. A Laptop Backpack

Your teen will definitely need something sturdy and practical to carry their laptop and other accessories around campus safely, so a high quality laptop bag will make an excellent graduation gift. Be sure to choose an option that’s waterproof and that has wide comfy shoulder straps because this will most likely be one of their most used items.

  1. A Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets are known for their ability to soothe and relax whoever is underneath them, which can be a lifesaver for a graduate who will be spending time away from home for the first time. Various guides are available online that will help you select the right blanket according to your teen’s weight.

High school graduation gifts need not cost thousands of dollars to be of use. In fact, it’s often the more affordable and practical items that will be most appreciated by your teen – especially when they find themselves in a brand new environment and having to do a lot more for themselves after leaving home for the first time.

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retirement planning

What Happens when Both Spouses Can’t Retire at the Same Time?

In cases where you and your spouse are close in age and approaching retirement at the same time, you may be wondering what to do if you cannot both retire together. However, several financial experts have agreed that in most cases, it’s actually recommended that retirement be staggered instead.

Below are a few basic guidelines for situations where one spouse isn’t able to retire right away:

Consider the Advantages

Staggering your retirement has a number of benefits, which is why it’s the recommended course of action to take. For instance, you and your spouse can stop working at a point in your career that works best, which enables you to both benefit as much as possible from pension or retirement packages. It will also allow you to evaluate and adjust your finances to accommodate the upcoming second retirement – regardless of whether it happens in a few months or even a year or two from now.

One of the main aspects to deal with is that of deciding which spouse will stop working first, and there are some points to consider here:

  • Health Conditions – If one spouse has a health issue that may worsen if they continue working, then it would make sense for them to retire first
  • Income – If you still rely heavily on earned income to make ends meet, it would be best for the spouse who earns the most to continue working for the time being
  • Retirement Benefits – If you or your spouse can increase retirement benefits by waiting a little longer to stop working, this is a crucial aspect to think about. The extra funds could make a huge difference to your budget after retiring
  • Job Security – It’s essential for both spouses to consider their job security. This could help prevent either one from being laid off soon after the other has retired
  • Health Insurance – If you and your spouse are covered under a single insurance plan, and if it provides good benefits, the spouse with the insurance may want to wait to retire

Preventing Resentment

If one spouse retires right away and the other still has to work for a few more years, it may cause the working spouse to experience feelings of jealousy. However, this should instead be considered as an opportunity to obtain the help you need – for instance, the retired spouse can now assist with housework and running errands during the day so you can spend quality time together at night.

When one spouse stops working before or after the other, it provides a great opportunity to implement budget updates that you may already have discussed. Even though one of you is still working, it may be possible to start living on your planned retirement budget. This will allow you to see whether your proposed budget is realistic and you’ll be able to save a little just before full retirement as well.

If you are keen to retire, but aren’t sure how to determine whether you’ll have enough to live on once you and your spouse stop working, get in touch with our advisors today.

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summer kids

Affordable Ways to Keep the Kids Busy This Summer

Regardless of whether you’re a parent who works from home or has a job to go to elsewhere, chances are that you’re already wondering how to keep your kids occupied during the upcoming summer vacation – especially when you start hearing, “Mom, I’m bored.”

If you’re looking for ways to keep your kids occupied without having to spend a lot, the list below will help get you started:

  1. Create an Activity Jar

Although there’s most likely a lot to do around your house, it can sometimes be challenging to come up with ideas at the spur of the moment. Start by writing down a few ideas on separate paper scraps, put them all into a tub or jar and let your kids pick one to do each day. Activities can include ideas such as playing hide and seek, baking cookies, building a blanket fort or even watching a movie at home.

  1. Visit the Library

Nowadays, most neighborhood libraries run various summer reading programs that can often encourage even the most stubborn non-reader to get involved. If possible, schedule a weekly visit to the library and let your kids choose books on topics that they’re keen to learn more about. In many cases, kids who learn to enjoy reading will seldom find the time to be bored.

  1. Search for Free Neighborhood Activities

Nowadays, several neighborhoods offer a number of free or extremely affordable activities for kids and families to take part in. Many blogs and news articles will even offer a calendar list of family- and child-friendly activities that will be available throughout summer vacation.

  1. Explore New Parks

Are your kids tired of the local park? If so, search for other parks that may be in your neighborhood or in other areas that are close by enough to visit for the day. Packing your own snacks and drinks will prevent you from stopping for costly takeout during the day and many parks will allow you to picnic as well.

  1. Let them be Bored

If you intend surviving this summer – and the next few summers – the key is to allow your kids to be bored every so often.

Kids nowadays are more over-scheduled than ever during the school year, meaning that they are hardly ever left to their own devices. This prevents them from learning how to play on their own and be creative, which experts say is a crucial skill to learn.

Providing your kids with some unscheduled down time on a regular basis will help ensure that they can nurture their inner creative skills and spend a little time unsupervised on occasion – which can provide parents with a much-needed break as well!

Keeping your kids occupied this summer need not cost an arm and a leg. In fact, many activities can be enjoyed for free or really cheap if you’re willing to look around and allow them to create some of their own fun from time to time.

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credit-retirement

Preserving your Credit Status Now to Stay Financially Sound After Retirement

It’s no secret that hard work and commitment are required if you want to obtain and keep a high credit score, especially if you’re coming close to retirement. Below are some aspects to consider that will go a long way in helping you to preserve your credit score beyond your golden years.

  1. Don’t Close Long-held Accounts

Keeping a good record on any type of open account over a number of years has a highly positive effect on your overall credit score. If you’re close to retirement age, you may have accounts that were opened several years ago that you might be tempted to close out. However, doing this will have a negative effect on your credit score virtually immediately.

Another way your credit score would be negatively affected is by decreasing the amount of credit you have available to you. A large percentage of your credit score depends on the amount of overall credit you have versus the amount you’re actually using, so decreasing your level of available credit will cause a drastic drop in your score.

  1. Don’t Cosign any Loans

After your kids have moved out, it can be tempting to cosign for them to get their first car or obtain a student loan. However, doing this will increase the level of debt that is showing on your personal credit report. Although this won’t necessarily affect your credit score overall, it can negatively impact your ability to secure a loan in future if your credit to debt ration appears to be too high.

  1. Use Old Accounts Occasionally

When considering your credit score, it’s not good enough to just keep older accounts open – they will have to be used from time to time to prevent creditors from closing them unexpectedly. Using your older accounts every now and then is especially important if you’re currently debt-free, because otherwise the credit bureaus would have nothing to base your score on. Unfortunately, a number of retirees have discovered this too late after being denied loans when they’d not carried debt for several years.

There’s no need to accrue large amounts of debt to keep a credit score active. Just making the occasional purchase and repaying it the following month will usually suffice.

  1. Review Existing Debts before Retirement

A fair percentage of your credit score is based on your ability to repay debt installments on time, and this could become a huge worry if your income decreases drastically after retiring, or if an unexpected medical emergency depletes your savings. Before you stop working, ensure that you’ll still be able to save some money each month and repay all outstanding debts ahead of time wherever possible.

Unexpected events can happen even after you retire, which could result in you needing to apply for a loan. Taking the above measures to protect your credit score now already will help ensure that you’ll be financially prepared for anything that may happen in future. If you would like to find out more about planning for your retirement, contact our advisors today.

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