A little late putting a plan in motion for Mother’s Day this year? (Heads up: It’s Sunday.) No worries — that’s why we decided to dedicate this week’s Frugal Friday to mom — because after all, it’s the thought that counts, and mom won’t mind if you get a good deal.
Here, retailers that are cutting prices and amping up promotions for the holiday:
1-800-FLOWERS.COM. Flowers are always a safe bet, and in conjunction with RetailMeNot.com, this online site will give you 20% off your order if you enter the code RMNMDAY at checkout. Note that the discount does is on the purchase price only and does not include service and delivery fees. This deal is good only through today.
ProFlowers.com. This online flower retailer has a variety of deals to choose from, including 20% off orders of $39 or more, 15% off orders regardless of value, and 50% off the second bouquet when you purchase two in the same order.
RedEnvelope. The website is offering 15% off — no minimum purchase — when the promo code REDNB15AR is entered at check out.
BedandBreakfast.com. Thanks to SuddenlyFrugal for this tip: If you purchase a gift card worth $250 or more from BedandBreakfast.com, you’ll receive another gift card for $75 free. The promo code is LUVMOM75 and you must purchase by May 12.
Perfumania. Hat tip to dealnews for this one: Through May 22, select items are buy one, get one free online at Perfumania.com. I’d say that means you can get a gift for mom, and a gift for yourself — or just two for mom!
Amazon. Not a gift for mom, but a promotion nonetheless: Their Mom Appreciation Event gives members of Amazon Mom with Prime 20% off eligible baby products with the promo code BABY0513, for up to $100 in total savings. The code is single-use and good through May 31.
Recently, Anderson Cooper invited me on his show, Anderson Live, to talk to one family about how they can scale back their spending and get out of debt. While the examples come directly from their budget, my tips apply to anyone with the same goals — so check it out!
To say that working from home has been a hot button issue recently would be a bit of an understatement. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer started the firestorm by announcing that she would be revamping the company’s telecommuting policy and sending everyone back to the office. Then, MarketWatch published this article saying that telecommuters have a greater chance of being passed over for a promotion than their on-site counterparts. Considering the debate, it’s only natural to wonder: is working from home career suicide?
It’s a question that applies to more Americans than ever before. According to a U.S Census Bureau report issued late last year, the number of people working from home has grown more than 40 percent over the past decade, up to about 13.4 million telecommuters. Whether that number continues to grow in light of policies like Yahoo’s, and, more recently, Best Buy’s, will largely depend on the field, position and person that is transitioning from the cubical to the couch.
“It’s how aggressive you are and how ‘leaned-in’ you are and what your work ethic is. That’s how you get growth,” said Patty McCreary, an engineer who telecommutes for a technology company called Double Prime.
McCreary’s journey to telework will sound familiar to any working parent: prior to having kids, she was logging 60 hours a week. She tried to maintain her this pace for a year or two after becoming a mom, but found the commuting — coupled with the time away from home — to be untenable. After reaching out to FlexJobs.com, she found her position at Double Prime and hasn’t looked back.
“I have three kids under the age of five,” she said. “I need every moment of every day.”
Monica Clarke, an interactive marketer who telecommutes for a PR firm in New York City, similarly sees her work-from-home job as a rung up on the career ladder, not down.
“It’s on a better career trajectory actually,” Clarke said, noting that her current position demands more of the skills she developed in college than any previous position she had. As a military spouse, Clarke and her husband need to move around a lot, but the ability to move her workplace with her means she can work without interruption. Last month, when she and her husband had to move from North Carolina to Colorado, provided the most recent illustration of what there is to be gained from such a flexible work environment.
“My company, the Wakeman Agency, has seen no hiccup,” she said. “Even on the road, I was able to prep everything. It makes things really smooth.”
Clarke and McCreary represent workers who have used online resources (like FlexJobs.com or MomCorps.com) to find existing telecommuting jobs; however, this is not the only way to put a home office to use. Jennifer Forest, author of the forthcoming Work Women Want, noted that starting a business from scratch can be another great, if not challenging, way to go.
“You take a skill you have and look for your own client base,” she said. “Build on your networks. It’s easier to build on skills you have and work with old clients.”
Forest acknowledges that building a business can be a daunting prospect for a lot of people, which is why her website features a list of industries that lend themselves well to telecommuting or even bringing kids to the worksite. She says the key to getting hired in — or even promoted within — these spaces, or any other industry, is to focus less on where the work is coming from, but the quality of the finished product.
“Purple cow them,” she said, referencing Seth Godin’s book of the same name, which encourages people to stand out in business by focusing on the remarkable. “Sell how your skills can be so much better than someone else’s, regardless of where you work.”
My husband is an entrepreneur and we were living for years within a budget that turns out not to be real (our savings and investments were used as salary). I have discovered all our savings (including 401k) are gone. We have $0 to our name. I also discovered that we are in debt up to $494,000, which includes a home equity loan on my in-laws home, a car loan, money borrowed from friends and his parents, and credit cards. Our health insurance has just been cancelled. We are unable to pay our rent of $5,200 and our car loan is in default. I don’t know the first thing about taking a step forward with this mountain of debt on top of me. I negotiated with all the credit card companies to reduce interest rates and drop late fees and I make double payments on the cards.
Suzanne, this sounds like a scary situation — but it also sounds like you’re getting a handle on things. It was smart to call your creditors and negotiate a better rate. The next thing I think you are going to need to do is downsize. You’re lucky in that you rent, so you have the flexibility to move to a less expensive property. I highly encourage you to do that immediately – you simply cannot afford this home. Cutting that chunk of your budget will free up more money that you can use to save and chisel away at those cards and other loans.
Then I want you to consider where else you might be able to make cuts. Can you drop down to one car? A less expensive car? Cut the cable or any other extra services? Go over your budget with your husband and see what can be cut back. I guarantee you will find some savings. And it sounds like both your and your husband’s income is somewhat sporadic, so I want you to get on a system in which you deposit your income into a savings account, then pay yourself a set paycheck each month. If you earn more one month, you still get the same amount – because it accommodates for the months during which you’ll earn less. This is a wake-up call that you needed to get more involved in your finances – it’s never too late.
If that doesn’t work, and you feel like you’re facing bankruptcy, I wanted to address how that might work with all of these loans from friends and family members. When you file bankruptcy, every loan must be listed, even loans that are undocumented among friends. If they are unsecured, and they get discharged, you won’t have to pay. That doesn’t mean you can’t – or shouldn’t – pay these people back, but they won’t be able to do anything to collect the debt. For the home equity loan, if no one pays it, the lender can foreclose. If your in-laws continue to pay it and you do not, they will likely be able to keep their home, even if you are on the loan and you file for bankruptcy. Your obligation to pay your in-laws for that loan may be eliminated, but again, you could continue to pay.
Has empty nest syndrome officially gone the way of the dodo? There is, after all, much evidence that the Millennial generation is returning Chez Mom-and-Dad in droves: Failure to launch, wrote Forbes in 2012. “Cluttered nest syndrome” and “babygloomers,” a Philadelphia magazine writer recently complained. And according to new research, more teens than ever before say they’ll be dependent on their parents until they turn 25 to 27.
The Junior Achievement USA (JA) and Allstate Foundation’s 2013 Teens and Personal Finance Poll found that 25 percent of teens say they won’t be financially independent until age 25 to 27. This is a big jump from last year’s findings, in which only 12 percent of teens predicted they’d be financially dependent until age 25. What’s more, JA and Allstate found that 42 percent of teens say they don’t budget because they’re “not interested,” and 41 percent say they’re unsure that they’re using credit cards successfully. This begs the question: how can children ever become financially independent if they haven’t mastered the basics?
“Our experience has been that most parents feel ill equipped to talk to their kids about money,” said Jack Kosakowski, CEO of JA. “It’s a vicious cycle. Kids raised without [money] experience, they don’t pass it on to their kids and the cycle continues.”
This isn’t to lay all the blame on parents — Kosakowski noted that when any adult (even a teacher) tries to teach kids about money, they tend to overcomplicate the lesson, obscuring what he sees as the three most essential points: you can’t spend more than you earn, you should save a little bit out of every revenue source you have (even if it’s 50 cents, he noted), and what it means to be responsible credit card user.
“When adults try to teach budgeting, they talk about house payments, which kids can’t relate to,” he said. “Making it real is critical to kids grasping it.”
Kosakowski recommended using examples kids can relate to, like smartphones and designer jeans: “If I buy a cheaper pair of jeans at $40 or $50 versus designer jeans at $110, what can I do with that difference?”
The JA and Allstate study also found that 52 percent of teens think students are borrowing too much money to go to college, yet only nine percent reported that they’re actually setting money aside for their own education.
“We wonder why kids are ending up with college debt,” Kosakowski said. “Parents should think about that as soon as they have a child. [Then,] as soon as they start getting into upper elementary, middle, and certainly high school, that’s a great way to have a money talk. It’s never too early.”
One-quarter of Americans over the age of 65 and half over the age of 85 have some sort of cognitive impairment, which can be a big problem when they have to make financial decisions. So how do you know when your own parents might need help? I went on the TODAY show to talk about how — and when — to take over your parents’ checkbook. Take a look:
I had to co-sign for my son to secure student loans for going to college. Now he is two years out of college and has a full time job and meeting his payments completely on his own. My question is: Will I always have to be listed as a co-signer on these loans?
Hi James, thanks for writing. The answer is not necessarily, and that’s because it largely depends on the lender. Many, like Sallie Mae, offer a cosigner release after the borrower has met certain obligations – under Sallie Mae’s program, the borrower must have completed school, made 12 to 24 consecutive on-time payments, and met underwriting requirements. Wells Fargo allows a cosigner release if the borrower meets credit requirements and has made all of the first 24 payments on time. Contact your lender for specifics about your loan – with two years of payments under his belt, you may qualify to be removed. If you don’t yet, you can at least find out the qualifications and then have your son work to meet them. Once he does, you should get off that loan.
With all due respect to the Bard, it’s not just the course of true love that never did run smooth — it’s intra-family communication. In other words, talking to mom and dad.
According to Fidelity’s Intra-Family Generational Finance Study, parents and their adult children are as at-odds with each other as they were during the kids’ turbulent teenage years. The only difference? Instead of arguing over allowances and curfews, parents and their adult children don’t see eye-to-eye on how, when and how much they should discuss family finances.
After surveying 975 parents and 152 adult children, Fidelity found that the differences in opinion are as widespread as they are deep. For instance: Sixty-eight percent of parents and 60 percent of adult children are more comfortable talking with a financial adviser than with each other. Nine in ten parents and adult children agree that having open financial discussions is important, but only one-third of those parents and children agree over when these discussions should take place. On average, adult children underestimate the value of their parents’ estate by more than $100,000. And perhaps most concerning of all? Ninety-seven percent of parents and adult children disagree on whether the adult child will take care of their parents in the event of an illness.
Kevin Hevert, vice president of retirement products at Fidelity, suspects that a large portion of the misunderstanding stems from the fact that parents and children make a lot of assumptions about the other’s situation — and that there’s not enough real detail shared to clarify these assumptions. He suggests circumventing this problem by pegging financial discussions to milestones and other notable life events.
“For myself, when I got new jobs, I could talk to my father about how I should set up my retirement accounts and what benefits I should take,” he said. “As a father, I’ve got kids who recently graduated high school, and those [changes in their lives] created opportunities as well.” He noted that when his son’s first tax refund came in, he used it to open the door to a conversation about saving for the future.
Hevert recognizes that retirement and estate planning can be stressful subjects to broach, but talking about it can be the best way to relieve that stress. One part of the study found that even though two-thirds of parents surveyed say they have already factored potential healthcare costs into their retirement strategy, they have not fully communicated their “eldercare” strategy to their adult children. This disconnect doesn’t have to exist.
“It keeps people up at night, wondering if their parents are going to be okay,” he said. “You gotta get on the same page.”
Do you have any treasures hidden in your attic? This morning on TODAY, I teamed up with an appraisal expert to talk about how to assess the value of antiques and other “priceless” items you may be holding onto. To see our tips — plus a surprise appearance from a very special guest (my husband!) — check out the video clip below.
According to a new survey from Fidelity, parents and adult children are having a hard time talking about their finances and setting expectations about caregiving. Among the most concerning statistics from the findings: 97% of parents and adult children disagree over whether the children will take care of their parents in the event of illness. I went on the TODAY show this morning and, along with psychiatrist Gail Saltz, talked about how to have these important conversations. To see our tips, check out the video clip below.