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Tag Archive | "save money"

What you can teach your grandchild about Social Security


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By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

One of the greatest gifts you can give a grandchild is the gift of financial literacy. Helping them save money early in life and showing them how to make wise spending decisions goes a long way toward a bright financial future. As they get older, they may want to save for special purchases or their college education. You can encourage them when they get their first job to begin saving for the future, including their retirement.

Planning for the Future with my Social Security

When you celebrate their graduation from high school, you can also remind them to set up a my Social Security account. They need to be age 18 or older, have a U. S. mailing address and a valid email address, and have a Social Security number. Even though their retirement is many years away, you can explain the importance of reviewing their earnings record each year since Social Security uses the record of earnings to compute their future benefits. As they start their first major job and begin saving, they’ll be able to monitor the growth of the estimates of benefits available to them. You can access my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Share How Social Security Works

You can share your knowledge about Social Security with your young savers by explaining how the program works and how it has worked for you. About 96 percent of all Americans are covered by Social Security. Nearly all working people pay Social Security taxes and about 61 million receive monthly Social Security benefits. Encourage them to watch our Social Security 101 video at www.socialsecurity.gov/multimedia/webinars/social_security_101.html.

Share Your Retirement Stories

Social Security replaces about 40 percent of an average worker’s income, but financial planners suggest that most retirees need about 70 percent to live comfortably in retirement. Americans need more than Social Security to achieve that comfortable retirement. They need private pensions, savings, and investments. That means starting to save early and monitoring your Social Security record for accuracy. The best place anyone of any age can visit for quick, easy information about Social Security is www.socialsecurity.gov.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov 

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Tips to save money and time running your small business


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(StatePoint) Being at the helm of a small business can be overwhelming. Whether you’re already your own boss or are thinking of making the leap, these tips from small business owners can help you get organized and boost productivity.

Make it Official

“If you’re thinking of starting a business, the simple act of making business cards will make you feel so much more official,” says Laura Essl, owner of “Blue Eye Brown Eye,” a calligraphy and design service.

Essl, who recently partnered with Staples as part of their #MakeMoreHappen campaign to help small business owners learn about resources to help them get things done, suggests the Staples Copy & Print Center as a go-to destination for business cards, note pads and other customized supplies. Like others too busy to go to the store, she calls their online ordering system and takes advantage of free delivery for orders over $49.99 as “the cherry on top.”

Make the Effort

If you are newly taking a crack at operating a business, you may quickly notice the little things you took for granted as an employee. No longer relying on someone else to provide basics like pens, paper and file folders, it’s important to supply your office cost-efficiently.

Buying supplies haphazardly while you happen to be grocery shopping, for example, as interior designer Anissa Zajac, owner of House Seven was doing at first, is neither a good strategy for staying organized or on-budget.

“I spend most of my time visiting clients and so I don’t need a lot of supplies, but I’ve discovered that making a special trip to an office supplies retailer is well worth it for the money I will save in the long run,” says Zajac.

Get Professional

When working from home, it can be tempting to let things lapse into chaos. But if you video conference, meet with clients or just want to get serious, it’s important to differentiate your home office from your home, at least mentally.

“What I previously called my office was a makeshift desk in my son’s playroom. It worked fine for me, as my requirements and hours were flexible, but now that my husband is working from home and conducting online business meetings and conference calls, we quickly discovered that toys in the background was just not a professional look,” says Shannon Peterson, lifestyle blogger behind “Much Most Darling.”

When upgrading your office, Peterson suggests stretching dollars by taking advantage of resources like the Staples Rewards program, which offers rewards on purchases, cash back on recycled ink cartridges and special coupons and deals. She also points out that you can enjoy further cost-savings when opting for the generic store brand, which, in most cases, is as high quality as name brand alternatives.

More cost and time efficient ideas for small businesses can be found by visiting Staples.com and by following #MakeMoreHappen on social media.

When money and time is tight, as it often is when running a small business, turn to smart strategies to take your business further with fewer resources.

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How to save money on lawn care


With a few eco-friendly tweaks to the way you care for your lawn, you can save some green from your wallet and some time.

With a few eco-friendly tweaks to the way you care for your lawn, you can save some green from your wallet and some time.

(StatePoint) There’s no doubt that Americans spend a fortune on lawn care annually. But you can trim your costs without sacrificing your beautiful yard.

And if you need more motivation than saving money, remember that many of the lawn care practices that are good for your pocketbook are great for the planet.

Why Green Matters

Sure, green lawns are a pleasure to look at…but there’s much more to it than that! Consider this:

• Environmental Benefits: Trees, shrubs and grass remove smoke, dust and other pollutants from the air.

• Lifestyle Benefits: Well-placed plantings offer privacy and tranquility by screening out busy street noises.  Do you have children or pets? Turf is necessary for play space.

• Economic Benefits: A green lawn can improve property value.

Efficient Irrigation

When you’re standing out there with a hose, it can be hard to gauge when to stop. Without efficient water distribution, you’re liable to waste water and harm your lawn and plants. However, an irrigation system can help remove that guesswork.

And opt for a licensed contractor with an established reputation for your installation. They can help avoid common do-it-yourself pitfalls, such as uneven sprinkler coverage and poor water pressure.

Smart Technology

Consider investing in a smart system that uses sensors to measure moisture levels in soil. Professionally installed, properly maintained sensors can potentially save a household more than 11,000 gallons of irrigation water annually, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates.

A good soil sensor will also have extra capabilities, such as the ability to detect soil type and adjust calculations accordingly. For example the Toro Precision Soil Sensor, which is installed without digging, is the only such sensor to offer freeze detection that prevents irrigation when temperatures approach freezing.

Don’t let the initial installation costs of an irrigation system dissuade you. Not only will you recoup the cost over time, but many municipalities and water districts nationwide offer homeowner rebates for installing water conserving irrigation products. Check with your local water district or municipality for rebates in your area.

Optimize

Don’t be afraid to upgrade your motorized lawn care equipment or parts when necessary. From lawn mowers and electric hedge trimmers to the controller, valves and sprinklers of your irrigation system, efficient alternatives may entail upfront costs, but will optimize savings over time.

For example, leaking valves are a major source of water loss, so check them annually for issues. Also, a simple immediate upgrade you may want to consider is replacing your spray nozzles with more efficient ones designed to eliminate runoff and reduce water bills. To calculate how much money you can save with a model like the Toro Precision Series Spray Nozzle, visit www.toro.com/irrigation/psn_calculator.htm.

 

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