For those with children, toy shopping is admittedly a large portion of your holiday spending. This time of year, retailers are especially eager to cash in on this category of sales and they will use the media to make sure you (and more importantly, your child) know what’s new and exciting.

There’s nothing wrong with buying new toys for your children every holiday season, but the problem is that, they will be either:

  • Become broken or outdated
  • Need new batteries or repairs
  • Discarded for something new

As parents, it’s hard to justify purchasing new toys when perfectly good ones are sitting at home in the toy box. But children don’t understand this kind of reasoning.

Hey, even adults don’t, sometimes. Are you buying the latest iPhone even though yours is perfectly fine? Are you saving for a new TV when your older one still functions? The good news is that there are ways to find new toys for your children without feeling like you’re wasting money (and toys).

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When the leaves begin to change colors and the year draws to a close, people think about many things: the football season in full swing, apple picking, maybe even a thought or two about finding your rakes before the leaves start to fall all over your lawn. Fall is a great time to think about your finances, too. As the year begins its last act before drawing to a close, here are five things to do to get your finances in top shape for year’s end.

Assess Your Status

Summer’s end is a great time to take stock of your overall financial status. Look back on the goals you had for the year. Have you met them? You still have a little bit of time left, so don’t give up! And don’t just look at your short-term goals, either. Review your earnings, your long term financial requirements, and your overall level of financial peace. If nothing is adding up, then it might be time to think about making some serious life changes – new job, downsizing, selling assets – to make sure you are meeting all of your financial objectives.
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Woman working on computer

We live in an exciting era if you are a techie. New electronics with never-before-seen features are coming out all the time. My wife’s had the same computer for about four years, and it’s starting to show signs of wear and tear. It’s slowed down a lot and freezes occasionally. We’re nearing the time when she’ll need a new one, but how do we decide when? And where do we look?

These are a couple of things everyone should carefully consider before replacing their electronics.

Try to Fix Your Current Device

Sometimes, computers and other devices get clogged up with too many documents. They can even have viruses that are affecting their performance. If you’ve just begun to experience issues with your electronic device, you should try to clean it up or fix it before replacing it.

Many people jump to replace a device that can still function perfectly well. I’ve cleared viruses from my computer and deleted unnecessary documents to improve my computer’s functionality. Once a number of steps are taken to fix something and it still isn’t working, it may be time to find something new.
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My ex-husband and I had a “big pot” financial management style when we were married back in the day. We tied the knot young, when neither of us had anything, and it was easy to combine finances. Later, I added a retirement account and a taxable investment account, as well as a savings account and a Health Savings Account (HSA).

I tried to get him interested in our shared finances and to share some of these accounts, but he never wanted to be bothered. He eventually got a retirement account through his work and set up his own HSA. This turned out to be fortunate since we eventually went our separate ways. We still had to manage the “big pot,” but it was remarkably easy to divvy everything up because our other finances grew separately.

Turns out the fact that we didn’t share everything was a good thing – as was the fact that my ex and I didn’t try to ruin each other during the divorce. Mikel Van Cleve, CFP and director of personal finance advice at USAA, points out that some things are better separate, such as:
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save money long term

Finding practical ways to save money over the long haul can be something that escapes our attention.

It’s easy to look for the best price on an item when shopping, or add money to your savings account every week, but thinking long-term is an intentional action that takes thought and planning.

Here are 20 easy-to-implement ways to save money long term — that you can start today.
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going to work
The Department of Labor reports that job openings and unemployment numbers continue to be very healthy. Still, there are still 6.4 million people who aren’t able to find work and millions more who only work part-time. Being unhappily unemployed or only working part-time isn’t ideal, but reports show that the majority ‘not in the workforce’ are retirees, students, and stay-at-home parents (it may be their choice). The increase in part-time employment may also have more to do with the trend toward a ‘gig economy’ than the availability of full-time work.

Are you among those avoiding a full-time job because of your stage in life or bucking the traditional workplace? In either case, you might be considering a part-time job.

I’ve noticed that people tend to have a more casual attitude toward part-time work than full-time work. They don’t take it nearly as seriously. Why is this? In my opinion, unless you need to grab the first job you come across just to make ends meet, you should put just as much care into choosing a part time gig as you do a full time one. Any job has a tremendous impact on your life, your finances, and your long-term career goals. With that in mind, here are three questions I recommend you ask yourself when considering a part time gig.
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