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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
Budgeting
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Bad decisions I made with my money

Last month, I wrote about some of the things that I have bought or done with my money that I think were well worth what they cost . So it's only fair that this month, I look at the opposite: mistakes I made with my money. I suppose I should be writing about things I bought that weren't worth it, but I had a hard time coming up with that lis...

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Ads, Ads, Ads: Digital Advertising on Our Social Media Pages

There has been an important focus on digital advertising on social media platforms. For those of us who grew up prior to the advance we now see with technology and streaming services, we had to sit through all the commercials if we wanted to watch our favorite shows. Marketing strategies have changed to expand the reach and keep up with consumer behaviors. Additionally, we have seen a lot in th...

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Should I ask for donations instead of birthday gifts?

There seems to be a recent trend, thanks to Facebook, of asking for donations for your (or someone else's) birthday instead of gifts. For the last two years, we have asked for donations to our son's birthday instead of toys or gifts that he might play with for a few minutes and then forget about. Here are some items to consider if you've been wanting to ask for donations for your birthday or a...

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Is Gardening Garbage or Great

Is Gardening Garbage or Great?

For the last two summers, my family and I have had a garden in the backyard. We take the time to till the soil, plant the vegetables and herbs, then wait. This summer I want to track my spending and see if my time and money it's really worth having a garden. This year we planted: 7 tomato plants (roma, heirloom and cherry) 4 bell pepper plants 1 jalap...

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The Easy Way to Set Up a Spending Plan.

Have you ever thought about setting up a spending plan (aka budget) but it seemed like too much work? Here's an idea that can help jumpstart that process. Usually financial experts suggest that you track your expenses for a month first, to see where your money is actually going. Then you create your budget based on that information. That's a useful process. But I have a different approa...

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MSW Secondary Date 2018

Money Smart Week: A Chance to Keep Up with Changing Realities

After over 20 years of teaching personal financial management, I am still looking for more ways to empower people to use money to reach their goals and dreams. As our economy, societal practices, and laws change, our approaches to financial management education need to change too . In the past few weeks, our Extension office presented "Welcome to the Real World," a finan...

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Utilizing the Library to Keep Costs Down

Utilizing the Library to Keep Costs Down

For many people it may be obvious that by using your local library, you would save money, but many people don't even utilize their library! According to a 2016 Study on Libraries by the Pew Research Center , "just under half of all those age 16 and older (48 percent) say they have visited a public library…in person...

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2-day training for agencies working with limited resource audiences on financial management

Does your agency work with low to moderate income clients on debt management, budgeting, or understanding financial products like payday loans and prepaid debit card? University of Illinois Extension's All My Money: Change for the Better curriculum was created for you! All My Money: Change for the Better is designed s...

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Don't risk a lot to save a little. Or said a different way, stupid ways you can waste your money!

"Don't risk a lot to save a little." That simple phrase has stuck with me through many years since I learned it while studying for my Certified Financial Planner designation. It was one of three basic principles of risk management. (I've forgotten the other two.) The idea is, don't try to save a nickel when that decision might end up costing you $10. Over the years, I have often thought...

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Wedding Season is coming... is your wallet ready?

Ah, wedding season. The time of the year when we celebrate the love of two people to be bound legally together. Whether you're in the bridal party, parent, grandparent or friend... weddings these days can be costly! According to The Knot's 2016 Real Wedding Study, the average wedding costs $35,329 dollars (and that doesn't even include the honeymoon!) Even attending a wedding as a guest can g...

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Jan 17 Save Money

Seven Ways to Save Money This Year.

January is a time when we all take a look at our finances and decide "I need to do something different". Whether it's the bills coming in from Christmas or the looming doom of paying your taxes, we could all use a little extra for something. I'll admit that I am terrible at some of these items and pretty good on others. So I have challenged myself to become better at watching every penn...

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Holiday Spending Tips

The holidays are coming up… and with it is the ability to overspend. Whether you're shopping for a few or many, having a plan for the holidays can help. Below are my top 3 holiday spending tips! 1. Use a budget within a budget. Although this seems tedious, having a budget within a budget will help to keep your spending in check. In a normal spending period, you have all of your...

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My Decision to Retire - Revisited

Four years ago, I announced my retirement here on the blog . I talked about the decision-making process that I went through, and the kinds of financial information that I used. (If you're reading this, you probably know that I was lucky enough to return to Extension on a part time basis and continue writing for the blog.) Four years into my so-called...

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Life Transitions - Change is Constant

"The only thing that is constant is change."-Heraclitus Life seems to move faster and faster as we age. I know from experience that when I started working for Extension I was a single person, then engaged, then married. Our readers have followed me along in my home buying series and now I'm excited to share that we'...

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How Much Will You Spend In Retirement? It’s a Tricky Question.

Say you spent $50,000 in your first year of retirement. How much would you expect to spend in Year 2? Year 3? If you're like most people, you said that you'll probably spend a little more each year, simply because of inflation. You would be in good company, because most estimates of how long our money will last in retirement make the same assumption. But it may be wrong. And if it is wr...

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How Much are You Willing to Spend for Time, Convenience, Taste, Etc.

In your daily life, what questions are you asked? I suppose philosophers ponder questions like, ""If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" As a financial educator, I've been asked questions lately like: Does a Subscription Box save people money? Should I pay someone to mow my lawn or clean my house? Can you actually s...

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Transitions: How does leaving a job affect your income taxes?

Most of us expect our income taxes to take care of themselves, except for filing that pesky return: money gets withheld over the course of the year, and then we hope to get some of that back as a refund. When you leave a job, income taxes can get a bit more complicated. If you're retiring or being laid off, the last thing you need is an unexpected tax bill or penalty. On the other hand,...

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A Timely Conversation: Revisiting College Budgets

It seems like only yesterday that we were saying goodbye as our students left for college, and now the semester is quickly winding up. As the students return home for the holidays, now is a good time to revisit financial plans. Spending plans (budgets) are working documents. After using a plan for awhile, it's important to evaluate and adjust it. This is true for everyone but especially for ne...

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Plan Well Retire Well Wins National Award

I'd like to take a minute to toot our own horn. The writing team behind the Plan Well Retire Well blog just won two awards for Internet Education Communications from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) at their annual conference held November 2-5, 2015 in White Sulfur Springs WV. We received first-place in the Central regi...

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Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood: A Four Month Spending Spree!

Brightly colored scarecrows crowded by pumpkins, yummy pie recipes featured online, holiday lights displayed in local stores, it's that time of the year: the holidays are upon us! It can be a wonderful time of the year to catch up with friends and family, and enjoy the changing seasons. But with first Halloween, then Thanksgiving and winter holidays, all the way to celebrating the New Y...

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Dear Young Friend: “Cheap Insurance” for the Things You Worry About

Dear Young Friend, If you're twenty-something, what do you worry about? Karen ___________________   That's the question I posed on my Facebook page when I was working on last month's post, How to Think about Risk and Insurance , as part of my...

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Saving the Food Budget

Have you noticed that food prices are going up, up, and away? Flooding in the Midwest. Drought in the West. Bird flu among poultry. The price of meat higher than the price of gasoline. Where will it stop? It seems like there is not much we can do other than pay more and get less. Most people look for one simple fix that will get them to where they want to be (going vegetarian co...

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Dear Young Friend: How to Think about Risk and Insurance

Dear Young Friend, We haven't talked much about insurance and risk. Before we wrap up our conversations, I wanted to share some thoughts on this. Karen ________________   Here's a question for all my twenty-something friends: What do you worry about? What kinds of things should...

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Financial Education: Not Enough for All Financial Problems

I believe in the importance of financial education; I am a financial educator. I believe with good information people can avoid many costly errors and utilize their money to reach their dreams and goals. But it's not enough! And, as I talked to people during Money Smart Week I realized that it may sound like I think it is. However, it's clear to me that before people can make educated decisions...

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The Rising Cost of Prom and the "Promposal".

I think that social media is costing us much money. Until a few days ago, I had never heard of a promposal. Granted I went to high school in the stone ages when boys awkwardly asked girls at their lockers to go to the prom. My children's experience was not far removed from that other than all the couples went as a big group rather than as individual couples. My son even waited until the night b...

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