Dancing in the Rain at #Disney. And a #Giveaway.

Before we get started today with some great content from Laura, I want to put the word out that I’m looking for some guest posts!  Disney-themed guest posts, that is.  If you’d like to share your family’s travel experience, I’d love to have you!  Check out the “About & Contact” tab above for my email.

There are two free, fun, tangible things about this post.  The first is that Laura is running a special right now.  Whenever you request a quote and book through her (the quote is free, as are all of her services,) every child in your party will receive a set of free Mickey Mouse ears!  This applies to all 2015 trips booked by August 30.

The second is another Disney watch giveaway….we had such a great response last time we decided to give everyone another shot at winning!  Check out the rafflecopter at the bottom of the post to enter, but only after Laura gets real about weather in central Florida:

dancing in the rain

Often when helping a guest plan their Disney vacation, I get questions about the weather.

“I just looked at the forecast and it’s supposed to rain every day we’re there! Should we cancel?”

Of course not! But definitely be prepared for rain (whether the forecast is calling for it or not!) Central Florida sees rain pretty much every day in the summer months. Usually it’s in the form of a quick shower or thunderstorm that blows through after half an hour or so. It’s a great excuse to enjoy a bit of a break from the crazy and take in a show or other indoor attraction. Has it been awhile since you’ve seen the Hall of Presidents or watched Impressions de France in Epcot? If you’re walking nearby and it starts to rain, get comfy in the cool darkness of the theater and enjoy your break. There’s a good chance the rain will be finished by the time you leave!

And if it does happen to be more of an all-day rain than a passing shower, you can still enjoy the day. The parks will be less crowded, and honestly, most of the attractions are indoors anyway—you’ll just have to be in the rain getting from place to place. Just be prepared and bring ponchos or umbrellas. Carry a backpack or other bag so you can put them away once you’re indoors and out of the elements.

And while it can be fun to splash in the puddles and dance in the rain—this makes for great memories, by the way—just plan ahead and be prepared. You probably don’t want to head into your dinner reservation at Be Our Guest in soaked clothes and shoes. That nice, cool air conditioning you were so looking forward to will give you quite a chill if you’re dripping wet. So save the puddle-hopping until you’re headed back to your room.

Rain is just a part of any Florida vacation. Plan for it and don’t let it stop you from having the trip of a lifetime. After all, a rainy day at Disney is better than a nice day at the office, right?

 

Laura is an agent with Destinations to Explore and, while she specializes in Disney and Orlando travel, she can book trips all over the world, at no cost to you! She is super excited to help you plan your next adventure

Mickey Mouse Watch

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a little monetary kickback when you use them.  It’s compensation for the time I put into blogging. I only choose to be affiliates with people and businesses that I love, and I think would be helpful to my readers.*

#Free #Pittsburgh Event: Lake Arthur Regatta

As a child, our family would occasionally take a short car ride up to Morraine State Park.  It’s situated around a large lake, Lake Arthur.  We would find sticks to draw pictures in the sand, take off our shoes, roll up our jeans, and splash in the water, and run around the spacious green lawns for hours, stopping only to climb trees.  Fine real estate lined the other side of the lake, and sail boats would whisk around in the wind.  We’d leave just as the sun was setting, turning the waters orange and pink.

This weekend I’m going to go relive some of those memories with my own children.  The 2014 Regatta at Lake Arthur is in its 16th year, and will be happening on August 2nd & 3rd.  It will be a little more grandiose than my childhood memories.  There will be races of all kinds, from paddle boarding to catamarans to puddle boats to MECA, which is a triathalon-ish event.  There will be rock walls to climb in addition to the trees.  There will be music, and the Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater will be performing story time.  Saturday will end in fireworks.  Sunday will end with the release of 200 butterflies.

While there are a few events that you have to pay for, most of it is free, including parking and general admission.  For a full list of events, including a schedule and which happenings are free vs. pay, check out the Regatta at Lake Arthur’s website.

Another Way to Cut the Cable

I know, I’ve been pimping out Republic Wireless a lot lately.  I can’t help it.  I blog about ways to save money, and they offer a ton of them.  I feel like a jerk when I know about some of these deals and don’t let you all know about them, so how could I not?

Right now they have a pretty sweet promo going on:  when you add a line or start a new one, purchasing a Moto X, you get a free Google Chromecast.  It’s a little USB stick that you plug into your TV so you can display whatever you’re seeing on your phone or computer on the television.

For example, we have Netflix.  We use it through our PS3, because we already have a PS3.  If you’re thinking about cutting the cable and don’t have a device that allows you access subscription services (like Netflix, Hulu, HBOgo, etc,) then the Chromecast does the trick.

Back in the day (circa 2007,) I watched the entirety of Lost up to that point by hooking up an HDMI cable to my PC and streaming it off of ABC’s website for free.  You can still do this with most recent episodes, or in rare cases, entire shows, by going to the network’s website.  For example, today you could catch up on some Modern Family, sans the pain-in-the-butt HDMI cable set up.  You’d just plug your Chromecast in, follow the instructions, and it will be synced up with your phone or laptop as long as they’re on the same WiFi connection. You’re essentially using your phone or laptop like a remote.

If you’ve been thinking about switching to Republic because of their affordable phone plans, this might be a great opportunity to take the plunge.  When you purchase the standard black or white MotoX, you get that free Chromecast which can significantly cut that cable bill.  As an affiliate, I also get to pass on a $20 savings on your first service bill (which equals either an entire month of service free or dang near close) if you order through this link.

Financially Savvy Saturdays: Fourty-Eighth Edition

Welcome to Financially Savvy Saturdays, a blog hop created specifically for personal finance writers. We welcome all things money here. Whether you’ve written anything from student loans to investing,  you’re invited to link up. If it ties into personal finance, we want to read it!

Tweet about it. You can use #finsavsat when tweeting about the party!

Concerns about SEO?  Recently many bloggers have decided to stop participating in events such as Carnivals.  If you’re worried about how participating in this link-up could effect your SEO, I’d encourage you to check out this article.

Feature of the Week

I’m flying solo this week, which means I get the rare chance to pick my favorite contribution from the last party for a feature!  All of the contributions were so great that it was really hard to choose, but my fave was “Creative Ways to Pay Off Debt” from The Budget Mama.   The woman is using Swagbucks to pay off her student loans!  Click on the image to read her great post.

american flags

 

 

If you submit a post, you could be featured in next week’s party!

 

We do have a couple of rules for participation. Those who don’t follow the rules will have their link taken down.

1. Your post must be written in the past seven days and not be a giveaway.

2. Be sure to include a link to one of your hosts by copying and pasting the html in one of the boxes below into your linked up post. You have the option of the button or a text link.

3. Follow your hosts. You can follow Femme Frugality on Google+, Twitter OR by subscribing to her RSS feed via email.

4. Comment on at least two other posts that have joined the party.

5. HAVE FUN!

 

Femme Frugality

OR grab the text link here!

 <em>*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on <a href="http://wp.me/p3TJm1-wR" rel="nofollow">Femme Frugality</a>*</em>


A Lack of Information Cost Me $50,000 in Student Loan Repayments: Don’t Let it Happen to You!

Today I’m excited to bring you a guest post from fellow-blogger Christa.  She’s going to talk to you all about her experience with student debt.  It’s a perspective I can’t bring you as dragged out my education in order to get a degree without taking out loans, graduating debt-free.  But it’s a serious problem that effects so many people.  Today she’s going to give you some insider tips so you don’t miss out on any potential loan forgiveness!

 

benjamin franklin fire

 

Do you have student loan debt? If your answer is no, congratulations! I am supremely jealous. If your answer is yes, then I can commiserate and maybe help guide you in the right direction.

Student loan debt is a problem that plagues many of us. We work hard, get into a good college, research the right career and major – then blindly take out loans to pay for it. Our adult self is left with the financial consequences of repaying the loans a teenager took out for the next 10-30 years.

I have a love-hate relationship with my student loans. I love that they helped get me through undergrad and pharmacy school and into a fulfilling career that helps people. I hate that I am now trying to pay off about $220,000 in student loan debt.

What I really, truly hate is that I lacked certain information regarding student loans when I came out of school. All else being the same, not knowing this single piece of information cost me nearly $50,000. So what is this information? The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program

This is a program available by the federal government to help those working for the government and public service non-profit companies.

I have seen three big reasons why people don’t use this opportunity:
1) Lack of knowledge about the program
2) Difficulty level to get on the program
3) Procrastination

To qualify for the PSLF, you have to have the right kind of student loans under the right kind of repayment program and work full time at the right kind of job for 10 years. After 10 years of making on-time, scheduled monthly payments the remaining balance is forgiven.

When I originally found out about the program, I had:
~The right kind of student loans
~The wrong kind of repayment plan
~The right kind of job

Unfortunately for me, since I was under the wrong repayment plan, the first 3 years of work did not count. A little bit of math tells me that because I did not know about the PSLF program, I will have to pay an additional $48,000 worth of payments!

I quickly realized I was not the only person who did not know about the program and was, therefore, paying thousands more than they need to. It has become my mission to spread the word about this program in order to help as many people with their student loan debt as possible.

Some specifics about the program:

~What type of job do I need?

  • Those who work for the government (example: military, police officers)
  • Those who work for public service non-profit company with a tax exemption code of 501(c)(3). (example: public libraries, non-profit hospitals) Tip: You can call human resources or even check your company’s website for their tax exemption code.

~Which type of student loans qualify?

  • Federal loans that were received under the Federal Direct Loan Program.
  • If you have student loans under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, the Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) Program, you can consolidate them into the Direct Loan program in order for those loans to be eligible.
  • Sorry, but private student loans are not eligible :(

~What repayment programs do I need to be on?

  • Income Based Repayment (IBR)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
  • Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan
  • 10 year repayment plan (this one is kind of silly since you would have nothing to forgive after 10 years)

~What qualifies as an on time, scheduled monthly payment?

  • On-time payments- paid no later than 15 days after the due date.
  • Scheduled monthly payments- you must be in active repayment status for the payments to count. You can’t be in a grace period, forbearance, deferment…

~Where can I find out more?

  • You can go to the Federal Student Aid website. They have a bunch of information regarding student loans.
  • You can also come visit me on my site where I talk about all things personal finance including my step-by-step guide to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

 

This is a guest post from Christa, the founder of ObjectWealth.com, a blog on personal finance and her journey to go from massive debt to building financial independence. She is also a hospital pharmacist and enjoys eating bologna straight out of the container.

*Featured image: ©Raven/PhotoXpress

Is It Wrong to Spy on My Fiance?

is it wrong to spy on my husband?It was an accident.  Really, it was.

It was about two weeks before our wedding.  The kids by some miracle were actually sleeping, all at the same time.  My phone rang.  It was my fiance.  He was at work.  I picked it up with a musical, “Hi, baby!” (Because that’s how I sound in my head: musical.)

No response.  “Hello?”

I could hear him talking to someone as his phone swished around.  I had been pocket-dialed.

And I almost hung up.

But I didn’t.  Someone just asked him if he was nervous about the wedding.  And I couldn’t force myself to hang up.

“No, not really.  I love her.  We’ve been together for xxxxx years, so it’s not like anything’s really changing.  I mean, we don’t have joint bank accounts or anything yet, but pretty much everything’s the same.”

Interesting.  For those of you who are new, I’m not very into joint bank accounts.  I prefer my money separate, and he seemed okay with that.  I stayed on the line.  Because I had to know what else he would say when I wasn’t listening.

Maybe that’s wrong.

But it turned out okay.  It turned out great, actually.  People were asking him a succession of questions, all of which had answers that were congruent with what we’ve talked about together.  We want to buy a house, and this next tax return will be awesome to help us save up for that in addition to what we’re already trying to stash away.  Of course, he also outlined everything we’ve spent our past tax return money on, which was a little more than I’d normally share.  He outlined my jobs options and prospects…including salaries.  And he said he wanted to find an entry-level position somewhere in his field before he graduated so he could have benefits and have experience under his belt before graduation.  Again with the expected salary.

Then he started walking and things got all swishy again.  So I finally hung up.

Overall I was really glad I spied.  How many people get the chance to know that you’re really, truly on the same page in such a candid way two weeks before you say, “I do?”  The only thing I found a little surprising was how open he was about our money.

I confessed my espionage when he got home. We talked about the joint bank account.  He said he knew my stance on it.  He also said that it wouldn’t make sense for us with the ways we get paid and how much sense each of the services our respective banks offer us; combining would just make things 20 times more complicated.  Which wasn’t something I had thought about, but is true.  He said the reason he even brought it up was that most people just think that’s “what you do” when you get married.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about what he was going to say when he didn’t know I was listening.  But I was super happy about everything I heard.  Especially that, “I love her,” part.

Financially Savvy Saturdays: Forty-Seventh Edition

Welcome to Financially Savvy Saturdays, a blog hop created specifically for personal finance writers. We welcome all things money here. Whether you’ve written anything from updating your financial goals to a spending fast,  you’re invited to link up. If it ties into personal finance, we want to read it!

Tweet about it. You can use #finsavsat when tweeting about the party!

Concerns about SEO?  Recently many bloggers have decided to stop participating in events such as Carnivals.  If you’re worried about how participating in this link-up could effect your SEO, I’d encourage you to check out this article.

Feature of the Week

This week’s determined co-host, Kayla from Shoeaholic No More, has selected her favorite post from last week’s blog hop. This week’s feature is “My Single Most Effective Money Saving Strategy:  Safe Sex” from The Broke and Beautiful Life.   Click on the image to read her great post!

birth control

 

 

If you submit a post, you could be featured in next week’s party!

 

We do have a couple of rules for participation. Those who don’t follow the rules will have their link taken down.

1. Your post must be written in the past seven days and not be a giveaway.

2. Be sure to include a link to one of your hosts by copying and pasting the html in one of the boxes below into your linked up post. You have the option of the button or a text link.

3. Follow your hosts. You can follow Femme Frugality on Google+, Twitter OR by subscribing to her RSS feed via email. Also follow Shoeaholic No More on Twitter, Bloglovin’, OR subscribe to her RSS feed.

4. Comment on at least two other posts that have joined the party.

5. HAVE FUN!

 

Shoeaholic No More

OR grab the text link here!

 <em>*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on <a href="http://wp.me/p3TJm1-wR" rel="nofollow">Femme Frugality</a> and <a href="http://shoeaholicnomore.com/financially-savvy-saturdays-forty-seventh-edition">Shoeaholic No More</a>*</em>


Socially Responsible Investing Through Index Funds

sri index fundsI’m in the process of trying to save up enough money to open a Roth IRA.  From everything I’ve learned, an index fund is the way to go.  I was all mentally prepared for everything when Done By Forty’s article threw me for a loop.  In it, he raises questions about supporting some of the most socially irresponsible companies and not even knowing it…because you’re investing in it through your index fund.

The large consensus from commenters was, “Oh, well, what can I do?  Sometimes evil wins, and I want to be invested in things that profit.”

That wasn’t good enough for me.  I want to make money as much as the next guy, but I’m not willing to sacrifice the sake of our planet and the welfare of my fellow human beings for extra wealth.  So I researched.  And it turns out there’s a whole field of investing dedicated to this exact issue.  It’s called Socially Responsible Investing (or SRI.)

They Have Index Funds!

If you search for an SRI index fund, you’ll find funds managed with social responsibility in mind.  I know what you’re all thinking:  does Vanguard have one?

Yes.  It’s the VFTSX and you can check it out here.  I can’t lie to you…it’s not performing as well as the S&P 500 right now.  (In this very moment of writing VFTSX sits at $18,445.26 while the S&P 500 is at $21,907.)  But it has a low expense ratio of 0.28%, and no front or back end loads.

“Oh!” you cry.  “I knew SRI couldn’t produce the same results I’m getting now!”

Hold on a minute.  Vanguard’s fund isn’t outperforming the S&P, but others most certainly are.  Take Parnassus (PARNX.)  They’ve been steadily outpacing the S&P since we started this slow crawl out of the Great Recession.  No loads, and the expense ratio is 0.86%.  Over the past 10 years it’s outperformed the S&P 500 by 1.85%.  It only has 45 holdings, but it’s record is  pretty solid.

Or look at TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Equity (TICRX) which has a ten year record of +0.15 over the S&P, no loads and an expense ratio of 0.45%.

The point isn’t to tell you which funds to invest in.  Let me say that again:  this is not an article to reccomend which funds to invest in.  Markets are volatile and I only minimally know what I’m talking about.  The point is that it doesn’t really take that much research to find an index fund that could allocate your investments into companies that aren’t abusing human beings or killing the planet I want my children to grow up on.

But that’s ACTIVE investing.

Kind of.  Not really.  The way I see it, it’s the same as investing in any other index fund except you’re banking on the fact that the fund will not funnel money into inhuman work conditions or chemical “spills.”  If that’s active, sign me up.  But I’m not going to be picking my own stocks.  That’s the whole reason I want an index fund…I want someone smarter than I am to capture a snapshot of the market, and if they’re going to do it in a socially responsible way that will promote businesses that are, in fact, socially responsible, that’s the fund I want.  Especially since the performance issue seems to be a myth.

But therein lies the moral dilemma of investing in even SRI Index funds:  you are letting someone else make your moral decisions for you.  Unless you keep up on every investment in that fund, you don’t really know if they’re making decisions you’d agree with.  For example, VFTSX’s 4th largest holding is JPMorgan Chase, which is on the list of bad companies that orignally spurred Done By Forty’s post.  So without becoming an active investor, there’s really no way to be 100% sure you support where your money’s going.

But an SRI index fund is a hell of a lot better.  At least they are trying to implement some type of code.

I don’t care.  I’m not switching.

Fine.  I understand that.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t help make changes for better.  Take the investments you have now.  And try these things:

  • If you care at all about climate change, check out the CDP’s Climate Perfromance Leadership Index.  As a stockholder, voice your opinion that you’d like company disclosures and practices to be sufficient to get them into the top performing category (A-Band) on that list.
  • File a shareholder resolution.  You may have to have own $2,000 in company stock for 1 year+, but you can do that collectively.  So find some other people who care.  Know that you won’t win majority support, but generally if 20% of stockholders voice an opinion, the company pays attention.  I’d argue that this is more powerful than switching the type of index funds you buy.  It’s more work, but you’re actually working to change the “evil” part of the company into something good.  I’m guessing you’d feel pretty amazing after all that.  (All numbers in this paragraph can be found in USSIF’s “Investing to Curb Climate Change.”  I’d highly recommend the short read.  If you don’t care about the planet, but do want to improve work conditions of people in third world countries, or whatever your cause is, you can apply the same principles and process…just change the motivating factor.)
  • Tell the investment management company that you want to see more of a consciousness towards SRI in your index fund.  If you have a specific example, site it.  Enough people expressing their opinions can really produce a change.

 

Before I wrap this up, I want to mention Done By Forty’s article one more time.  It’s well-written and thought provoking.  It’s called Hotel Soaps and Externalities.

The Lemonade Stand Book Review (And an iPad Mini #Giveaway)

shannon ryan

For those of you who don’t know about Shannon Ryan, I’d highly suggest becoming familiar with her.  Especially if you have kids.  Shannon’s a certified financial planner that writes financial education books for kids.  She also has books for their parents, who want to teach those kiddos to use money responsibly.  You can check them all out on her website, The Heavy Purse.

Her latest, brand-new book is “The Lemonade Stand.”  And I’m lucky to have been offered a free copy to review it.  (All opinions are my own, or those of my children, free or not.)

lemonade stand

 

My kids love books.  So when this came in the mail they were super excited.  They loved following the main characters as they lusted after items such as model airplanes, toy balls, and drum sets.  They sympathized with them as their mother told them, “No, we’re only here for xyz.” (My paraphrase.)  They liked the idea of building their own lemonade stand to make money, especially when we got to their favorite page:

counting coins

Because who doesn’t love counting out their hard-earned cash?

Then, after they earn the money, Shannon does something amazing:  she has the child-characters decide how they’re going to spend and save their own money.  Some of the children are generous with their earnings, and some are a little bit near-sighted.  But this method is one that I whole-heartedly support, in a book or in real life.  Educating your children and then letting them make their own decisions.

Overall review?  Awesome.  I’d suggest that your child be at least four years old to have the attention-span necessary to follow the story and grasp the concepts.

Wait, didn’t you say something about an iPad Mini?

Yes, I did!  To celebrate the book’s launch, The Heavy Purse is giving one away.  And Femme Frugality readers can enter below!  Make sure to use the rafflecopter to secure your entries!

 

The Lemonade Stand – iPad Mini Giveaway

July 14-31, 2014

Sponsored by The Heavy Purse

Co-hosted by Are Ya Gonna Eat That, Broke Millennial, Budget and The Beach, Budget Blonde,Budgeting for More,Busy Mom Budgets,Cash Cow Couple,Cents and Sensibility,Club Thrifty,Color Me Frugal,Debt Debs,Debt Roundup,Disease Called Debt,Eat Laugh Purr,Enemy of Debt,Eyes on the Dollar,Femme Frugality,Financially Blonde,Frugal Rules,Living Rich Cheaply,Luke 1428,Making Sense of Cents,Money Saving Dude,Monster Piggy Bank,Not Now Mom’s Busy,Reach Financial Independence,Shoeaholic No More,Tackling Our Debt,The Broke and Beautiful Life,The Finance Girl,The Frugal Farmer,The Random Path,Thrifty Dad, and Young Adult Money.

Join Lauren and Taylor in their continuing money adventures in The Lemonade Stand by Shannon Ryan, CFP®. Shannon is a Mom on a mission to help busy parents teach their children simple, value-based principles that guide their money decisions and support their long-term financial well-being.

“Everyone handles money. Unfortunately, not everyone does it with confidence. Money has long been a taboo topic in many homes, which makes it even harder for parents to know where to start or what to teach. So I created a series of children books to help parents ease into these important conversations. Financial literacy is one of the most loving gifts you can give your children, and I encourage everyone to make money conversations a priority in your home.”

We’re Giving Away an iPad Mini to One Lucky Reader!

Help us celebrate the release of The Lemonade Stand and join Shannon in her mission to increase financial literacy in both children and adults.

The giveaway runs from July 14-31, 2014 and is open worldwide.*

* A winner located outside of the United States will receive a cash equivalent prize via PayPal.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Financially Savvy Saturdays-Forty Sixth Edition

Welcome to Financially Savvy Saturdays, a blog hop created specifically for personal finance writers. We welcome all things money here. Whether you’ve written anything from the merits of renting to the merits of the 401k, you’re invited to link up. If it ties into personal finance, we want to read it!

Tweet about it. You can use #finsavsat when tweeting about the party!

Concerns about SEO?  Recently many bloggers have decided to stop participating in events such as Carnivals.  If you’re worried about how participating in this link-up could effect your SEO, I’d encourage you to check out this article.

Feature of the Week

This week’s recently-well-traveled host, Janine from My Pennies, My Thoughts, has selected her favorite post from last week’s blog hop. This week’s feature is “Accountability: June 2014″ from brokeGIRLrich.   Click on the image to read her great post!

budget

 

 

If you submit a post, you could be featured in next week’s party!

 

We do have a couple of rules for participation. Those who don’t follow the rules will have their link taken down.

1. Your post must be written in the past seven days and not be a giveaway.

2. Be sure to include a link to one of your hosts by copying and pasting the html in one of the boxes below into your linked up post. You have the option of the button or a text link.

3. Follow your hosts. You can follow Femme Frugality on Google+, Twitter OR by subscribing to her RSS feed via email. Also follow janine from My Pennies, My Thoughts on  FacebookTwitter, Instagram, Pinterest, OR subscribe to her RSS feed.

4. Comment on at least two other posts that have joined the party.

5. HAVE FUN!

 

My Pennies, My Thoughts

OR grab the text link here!

 <em>*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on <a href="http://wp.me/p3TJm1-w3" rel="nofollow">Femme Frugality</a> and <a href="http://mypenniesmythoughts.com/2014/07/financially-savvy-saturdays-forty-sixth-edition.html" rel="nofollow">My Pennies, My Thoughts</a>*</em>


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