Archive for Shopping

Financial Tips For Single Parents

Single parenting brings unique budgeting challenges.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that it costs an estimated $241,080 for a middle-income couple to raise a child to age 18 – and many single parents 

shoulder that responsibility alone. Even with adequate child support, it’s smart to be proactive about financial matters as a single mom or dad.

Mother going over bills with young daughter

Estate planning should be your first priority. It’s essential to make arrangements for your children should you become incapacitated. Draw up a will, designating a guardian for your children, and a “power of attorney,” giving someone the legal right to make decisions on your behalf.
 
Consider setting up a trust – a legal structure that is overseen by a trustee, in which your assets can be held for your children. Also, ask your employer about disability benefits. Generally, you will receive a smaller income when you claim disability, however, ensuring even partial income is crucial for single parents who don’t have another source of income to cover a gap.
 
Taking out a life insurance policy is equally important. The policy you purchase will depend on your finances; a term policy is most economical because it offers a straightforward death benefit.
 
Health insurance is essential. Premiums may be sky-high, but if you’re uninsured, a serious medical procedure can be financially crippling. Comparison-shop for policies at your state’s marketplace or at HealthCare.gov.
 
Don’t forget about tax breaks! If you’re a single parent, file as head of household. You’ll pay less and claim a higher standard deduction – you can claim exemptions for yourself and each qualifying child. You also might qualify for the earned income tax credit, the child and dependent care credit, and the child tax credit.
 
Here are a few more tips for daily financial decisions:

1.) Credit cards

While credit cards may seem like the obvious solution for filling the gap created by a second income, they’re also the number one way to spiral into a life of debt.

2.) Shopping

Single parenting is tough. While retail therapy may be a tempting salve to pull yourself out of a funk, the added debt you’ll incur will make you feel worse. Plan all shopping carefully and avoid impulse purchases.

3.) Holidays

Guilt causes many single parents to spoil their children, even when they can’t afford to. This is especially true during the holidays and for birthdays. Set designated amounts for gifts, and keep within the budget.

4.) Ask for Help

Check with Section 705’s certified financial counselors  for financial advice. There are also many non-profit organizations with programs specifically designed for single parents.
 
Emergencies happen. Whatever your income, it’s important to give yourself a safety net. Put aside a bit of money from each paycheck to set up an emergency fund for car repairs, broken refrigerators and other unexpected expenses. It’s best to have six months’ worth of non-discretionary expenses saved up for emergencies.
 
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The ‘Pink Tax’

Pink Tax: Does Shopping Like a Girl Cost You Money?

What’s the ‘Pink Tax’ Anyway? 

Several economic studies have confirmed the existence of a so-called “pink tax,” an inflated price attached to goods and services specifically marketed to women. While theories abound to explain the pricing discrepancy, its existence seems clear. On everything from razors and deodorant to car repair and haircuts, women are expected to pay more for products marketed directly to them. In many cases, marketing is where the differences stop.
 
It may seem like pennies, but across the board, these pennies add up. One study by the University of Florida found that women end up paying about $1,400 more per year. This invisible tax is taking money out of your pocket. Want to get it back? Here are some ways you can avoid the pink tax.
 
Go ScentlessBetter sit down ladies! He paid $4.99 for a razor and she paid $10.79.
 
Personal hygiene products are among the biggest contributors to that $1,400. Items like lotion are rebranded as “facial moisturizer” and packaging with floral designs. The “moisturizer” sells for 7-8% more than the “lotion.” The functional difference between the two products? In most cases, absolutely none. When there is a difference, it’s usually in perfume.
 
The worst culprit of the flowery-smelling foul play is deodorant. Men’s and women’s deodorants all have the same active ingredients, usually in the same ratios between brands. A stick deodorant is a stick deodorant until it comes time to scent it. Floral-scented deodorants sell for as much as a dollar more than their muskier counterparts.
 
No one wants to smell like a man (even many men). So what’s the answer? Look for scentless or perfume-free personal hygiene products. Not only are they cheaper, but the lack of chemical perfumes can be better for your body in the long run, too.
 
If you miss the floral aromas of your old products, consider purchasing essential oils in similar scents. You can add them to lotions and deodorants yourself at home for a fraction of the cost and keep a closer eye on what you’re putting on your skin.
 
When in doubt, check the ingredients. Compare your usual to a comparable male product. If there’s a reason for a gender difference, it’ll show up here. In most cases, the active stuff is all the same.
 
Ignore the packaging
 
The most flagrant example of the “pink tax” has to be in razors. No difference exists between razor cartridge replacements for men and women except the color of the packaging. Yet, a 4-pack of Venus razors costs $4 more than a 4-pack of Fusion razors. They’re the same razor, made by the same company. The only difference is the more expensive one is pink and the cheaper one is blue.
 
It’s not just razors, though. Toys, like scooters that are marketed to children, can vary wildly in price depending upon their paint job. One retailer listed blue childrens’ scooters for $24.99 and an identical pink scooter for $49.99. Incontinence aids marketed to men contained twice as many pieces as the same product marketed to women. Either in quantity or in cost, pink packaging costs quite a bit!
 
Women frequently encounter what one economist calls the “pink expectation.” Most products for men are imagined to be the default, so products for women must be modified in some way to make them more acceptable. Even when there’s no difference in the product, the expectation is used to justify the increased cost. Manufacturers have been exploiting that expectation to make money on the backs of women for years.
 
Where possible, look for gender-neutral or generic brand products. For razors, especially, the only possible differences are number of blades and level of lubrication. If it has the same number of blades as the razor you’re currently using, you can use more shaving cream or soap (another popular target for the pink tax!) to increase your comfort.
 
Online services
 
Perhaps the most surprising place for price differences to occur is in the service industry. Dry cleaners, auto mechanics and hair stylists are getting away with charging more to women than to men. What can be done here?
 
For some industries, justifications may exist. Dry cleaners may need to take more care around adornments on women’s clothing, and stylists may have more hair to deal with. In these instances, it’s best to take the justification head on. Women with short hair should ask for the men’s price and cut. Bring a mixture of men’s shirts and women’s shirts to the dry cleaner and ask the counter staff to explain the pricing difference. In many instances, service providers value your business more than they value an artificial markup.
 
Where possible, though, remove gender from the equation altogether. Buying cars via email using a gender-neutral signature, like the first letter of your first name, can result in more fair haggling practices. Getting quotes and estimates from mechanics via text message can discourage them from attempting to artificially inflate their bills.
 
Finally, if you see an instance of biased pricing like this, let others know. Let businesses that do these things know that it’ll end up hurting their bottom line in the long run. By frequenting establishments that don’t practice this kind of discrimination, you can help end the “pink tax” for everyone.

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Shop Local

Shop Local, Keep Your Money Local!

various fresh fruitsYour credit union is built on the idea of people helping people. You already know we can do a better job looking after your money than a mega-chain bank that answers to shareholders, because we know you and our community. So why give that up when you find a bargain online? Shopping locally is better for the community, better for the environment and the best way to find something unique that can make all of your friends say “wow.”

1. Shopping locally benefits your community.

When you shop locally, the money you spend stays in the community. Buying a new pair of shoes from a local shop takes dollars out of your pocket and puts them into the pockets of a local resident, of course. What you might not consider is that those dollars get spent by the business owners as well, and they’re also likely to spend their money locally.

American Express estimates that about 68 cents out of every dollar spent in local shops stays at home, and if that dollar is spent locally three times, it means that – for every dollar you spend at local shops – $1.45 goes back into the community. It’s what economists refer to as the multiplier effect, and it’s very powerful.

Fun fact: The multiplier effect is why the government is still willing to make pennies, even though minting them costs more than one cent. The multiplier effect is powerful enough to justify all that loose change in the jar next to your bed, and it’s powerful enough to make shopping locally a force for change.

Of course, that money doesn’t just go to shopkeepers and restaurant owners. The local government takes out its share in local taxes. Even if you hate the idea of taxes, and we all may grumble in April, local taxes go to schools, firefighters, and other services in the area. Buying dinner at a local bistro can be the reason the town has enough money to fix the potholes on your street. Not a bad dessert.

2. Shopping locally is better for the environment.

You already know about the danger of greenhouse gases and the effects of global warming. If you don’t remember anything else, you probably remember Al Gore’s visual of a polar bear floating away. What’s easy to forget is that everything you buy had to come from somewhere. If you’re drinking imported spring water from Fiji, that water flew halfway around the world. If your new pants were made in China, they racked up frequent flyer miles, too.

It’s really hard to avoid foreign manufacturing, but many local businesses have locally made goods for sale, which eliminates at least one flight your product might take, saving on fuel and greenhouse gases. Even if the product you’re buying was manufactured overseas, buying it locally can shave a flight or two off the product’s carbon footprint.

3. Shopping locally is the best way to find hidden gems.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of finding something your friends have never seen before. Whether it’s jewelry from a local metalsmith, a purse from a local boutique or pottery from a local artisan, local shops have the best potential for one-of-a-kind, where-did-you-get-that, I-love-it-so much uniqueness out of any shopping you can do. Anyone can get on Amazon or check out a department store. It takes a real connoisseur with a real eye for style to shop locally and find the best products. Show off your personal style with buys from local artisans.

One final benefit of shopping locally is that many of your finds come with a story. Those earrings might be from a local artist who got the inspiration from the nursery rhyme her mother told her, or those plates might borrow their pattern from the artist’s love of pop art. Whatever the story, local artists will tell you how they came up with their unique designs. Part of the fun of local shopping is the connections you can build with local artists, and hearing their stories is part of it.

San Francisco started recognizing the historic contributions of local businesses by listing important shops on its historic registry. Looking around [your town], which businesses would you nominate for historic status? Check our Facebook andTwitter to see what other members have to say, and let us know any place we’ve missed.

Don’t forget, Section 705 Federal Credit Union is local too. If you are a small business owner in the Acadiana area looking to belong to a credit union, visit our website to apply.

Sources:
http://ilsr.org/why-support-locally-owned-businesses/
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/small%20business/2014/11/21/small-business-strategies-shopping-local/19259277/
http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2011/10/28/how-consumers-and-communities-can-benefit-from-buying-local

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