There’s no denying that managing your personal finances can be a bit stressful. Figuring out how you can stretch your income so that it covers all your vital expenses can seem like a daunting challenge, especially when dealing with things like medical bills and child care.
The good news, however, is that many expenses that can become a major financial burden aren’t always as costly as we tend to think — especially if you follow the right money management practices. Here’s a closer look at six items that are commonly perceived as major burdens that don’t have to add to your financial worries.
1. In-home healthcare
An aging population means that there are more seniors in need of full-time care — and quite often, their children or other close family members are left responsible for the bills. Many people assume that sending an aging parent to an assisted living facility will be the best option, but annual costs can easily exceed $50,000.
In reality, in-home medical care and even hospice can be a far less expensive thanks to Medicare coverage. Says Jason Bliss, co-founder of Healthy Living Network, “Medicare does not pay for non-medical care, but it does pay for approved, in-home medical care … In specific geographic areas, there are some exceptions to the limited home care Medicare covers, which are known as the Medicare PANCE programs. These offerings cover all of a senior’s medical costs as well as some personal care costs. Any who’s eligible for Medicare or Medicaid can apply to receive these medical and social services at home.”
2. Cable television
Paying for cable has always been more of a “want” than a “need,” but that hasn’t kept millions of families from paying well over $100 a month just so they can access their favorite channels. Unfortunately, the rising costs of cable can create a very real burden that strains your budget.
It doesn’t have to be this way. With a plethora of TV streaming options now available, you can still gain access to your favorite channels without paying the high overhead associated with a cable subscription. Many streaming services are available for less than half the price of the average cable subscription.
Smartphones are a wonderful tool, helping us stay connected to the world through email, texting, apps and more. But do you really need to spend so much for your phone? Even older models of the iPhone are sold for well over $700 — and that doesn’t factor in the expenses of your monthly plan. Add in extra phones for your family members, and you could easily spend hundreds of dollars each month on your phone bill.
As with television, there’s a cheaper option available. You don’t have to ditch smartphones entirely — many pay-as-you-go providers sell models for under $50. Sure, they may not have as good of a camera, but with lower monthly costs (and a cheaper phone), you’ll have a lot more money left over at the end of the month.
4. Vehicle maintenance
Pretty much every driver dreads going into an auto shop. After all, there are few things worse than coming out with an expensive bill for a car problem you didn’t even know you had. Because of this, many people avoid taking their car to a mechanic — but this strategy ultimately backfires when serious maintenance problems develop.
Basic automotive services like oil changes and tire rotations may feel like a waste of time, but they will ultimately save you money in the long run by helping you avoid more serious (and far more expensive) repair issues later on. Following the service recommendations in your owner’s manual may be one of your better long-term saving strategies.
Many people make the assumption that investing in the stock market is something they can only do once they’ve achieved a certain level of financial security. The belief is that you need to be able to invest thousands of dollars at a time in order to make any significant financial gains. In reality, even investing as little as $100 a month can help you gradually accumulate interest and achieve your financial goals.
As John Maxfield, writer and editor for The Motley Fool, explains, “Commit yourself to purchasing equal amounts of a stock at predetermined intervals — in this case, $100 every month. By doing so with a low-cost exchange-traded fund, moreover, you not only minimize the corrosive impact of costs on your returns, you also reduce your exposure to idiosyncratic risk — that is, the risk that a specific company’s stock will flounder while the market rises.”
Sending your kids to college can be very expensive, but with the right planning, you can avoid burdensome loans. You can help by starting a college savings account for your kids while they’re still young and consistently making small contributions (like $100 per month). Spreading the investment over time will greatly reduce the perceived impact on your wallet.
Of course, your kids should do their fair share to decrease the burden as well. Many schools offer dual-credit courses, which allow students to transfer credits to a four-year university — an easy way of lowering future tuition costs. Don’t overlook the value of an after-school job or applying for scholarships, either. Every little bit helps in reducing education expenses.
No need to worry
While the previously mentioned items may not always be as big of a financial burden as we sometimes think they are, this is still no reason to abandon basic financial best practices. By creating and following a budget and carefully setting aside money for savings and investments each month, you’ll be able to ensure a healthy financial future.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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