How I Travel Full-Time By RV And Boat With My 2 Dogs

Traveling with a dog is a lot of fun, but there are some important things to consider so you and your pet are prepared. 

How I Travel Full-Time By RV And Boat With My 2 Dogs

How I Travel Full-Time By RV And Boat With My 2 DogsSometimes people think we are crazy for bringing our dogs on our adventures, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. For us, it’s like bringing your kids along, haha! 

Since we’ve been doing this for several years and in so many different ways, I figured I would be a good person to share what it’s like traveling with a dog for anyone who is interested in learning how it’s done.

You might be interested in going on a roadtrip with a dog. Maybe you want to sail or RV full-time with them, or perhaps you just want to take your furry companion on your next week long vacation. 

Whether you want to travel full-time with your pets, or if you want to just go on the occasional trip, hopefully my experiences will help you.

Traveling with a dog has been a huge learning process for me.

We’ve had to go slow and learn what works for our dogs. I say this because there is no single right way to travel with pets. So, you may have to adjust a little for your specific animal, as all animals are different and have different needs. We even see differences between our two dogs in how they travel.

Before I go on, let me backup a little bit. If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know this – I travel full-time with my two dogs. We’ve been traveling with them for years now, and they are pretty used to it whether we are in a tent, Jeep, RV, campervan, or sailboat.

Our dogs have been to several new countries, many new states, national and state parks, hiked some of the tallest mountains in the U.S., swam in beautiful Caribbean waters, and more.

We absolutely love our dogs, and we go to the extreme to make sure they are happy and comfortable with what we are doing.

While we love bringing our dogs everywhere with us, that does not mean it’s easy. Traveling with a dog takes some serious planning, and it is not something to take lightly.

Everything takes a little bit longer due to bathroom breaks, walks, and all the planning, so it definitely takes more effort.

I have received a ton of questions over the years on how we keep everyone happy, us and the dogs, while we travel. Of course, my experiences won’t apply to all dogs, as all dogs are different. But, hopefully you will find some ideas or tips that will make traveling with pets a little easier on everyone.

Content related to traveling with a dog:

 

traveling with dogs by boat

The four of us on SV Paradise (our boat)

About our dogs, Sailor and Mr. French.

Our bigger dog is Sailor, and she is about 85 pounds and is over 13 years old. Our smaller dog is Mr. French, and he is a 15-pound French Bulldog who is over 11 years old. We’ve had them since they were puppies (we adopted both of them) and love them so much!

Mr. French is happy to be wherever we are, and he doesn’t care much for being outside so he makes the perfect pet for an RV or boat. He enjoys sailing and likes to be right at the helm with us.

Sailor enjoys all of the smells when we travel to new places as well as the attention and petting from being a big dog at a campground, marina, or anchorage. Due to her bigger size, we have to do more to make sure she is comfortable and happy, but it is all worth it. She is a great hiking buddy and is very friendly and social with new people.

Honestly, while traveling with a dog is more work, I can’t imagine what it would be like to travel without them. They bring us so much happiness and love, so it is well worth it to us.

When traveling with a dog, here are my tips so that both the humans and animals are happy and healthy.

Here’s how to start traveling with a dog.

 

1. Take it slow when introducing your pets to travel.

If you want to start traveling with a dog, then I recommend taking it slow.

Whether you are going to live in a boat or an RV full time, or are just going on a weeklong road trip, I recommend slowly introducing your dog to travel.

This is the top tip we’ve heard from others who travel with their dogs, and it’s very true.

So, instead of throwing your pets into a long trip, you may want to start with something much smaller, so that they can get used to the process. You will be completely changing their routine, and many pets are used to following routines each day.

I also recommend trying to keep some of their routines as close to normal as possible, such as feeding times and when you let them out for exercise and bathroom breaks.

For example, when we started sailing, numerous people suggested starting the dogs out at a marina, then doing day sails, then an anchorage, and go from there. So, that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t want them to be afraid of sailing or make them afraid to get on the boat, so we took it as slow as possible. That’s worked out well for us, and we recently did a 9-day sail with them, and they acted like it was no big deal at all.

We got them very comfortable with being on the boat, and we haven’t had to quit just yet, so I would say it was a huge success.

If you are not planning on traveling full-time, but want to go on a road trip with your dog, I recommend not traveling too far at first, especially if they’re not used to being in the car. Slowly introducing them to travel is good so that they don’t get scared or stressed out. So, you may want to start by bringing them to a park nearby to help them with their nerves, as some dogs can be quite anxious!

 

traveling with dogs internationally

This is what a normal day on the water looks like.

2. Know the rules and customs of where you are going.

Not every place you go to will be pet friendly.

When traveling with a dog, you will quickly learn that not every park or trail is open to dogs. Most national parks are this way and don’t allow dogs on the trails.

However, there are some national parks that do. This is why I recommend doing some research ahead of time so that you are not surprised or frustrated when you get to your destination.

No matter where you are traveling with a dog, respect the land and the people there. You should always pick up after your dog, even if that means that you will have to hike for hours with a dog waste bag. You should not let your pets trample over delicate areas, and don’t let them approach people who don’t want to be bothered.

The same also applies to campgrounds and hotels. You will want to make sure that you find dog friendly camping, dog friendly hotels, and more. You’ll want to call in advance to make sure the weight and breed are acceptable.

 

3. How to do veterinarian visits.

Going to the vet is an important part of being a pet owner, and you still need to do it when you’re traveling with a dog.

I receive a lot of questions about how we handle this.

Our dogs still see the vet each year, and sometimes more often if there are any issues. They just usually see a new vet each year. If we’re in the same place for longer than a year, then they might see the same vet more than once.

Our dogs have never had an issue going to a new vet, and they go each time with no problem. We simply make sure to bring all of their paperwork with us so that there is no confusion as to what was done at a previous appointment.

When it comes to medications, we try to stock up on what we need for the whole year. 

If you’re going to start traveling with a dog, especially full-time here are some thing you’ll want to bring up with your vet to prepare:

  • Getting your dog microchipped. This is a great thing to have, and if you are going to a new country then it is usually mandatory.
  • Rabies vaccination – this is normal.
  • Seeing what vaccinations and medications are recommended or required in the area you will be traveling to in the next year. This can vary even state by state!

 

4. How to visit new countries with dogs.

When visiting new countries with our dogs, there have been a lot of steps and hurdles to go through.

Here are some of the preparations you may need to make when traveling with a dog to a foreign country:

  1. Contact the government veterinarian agency of the country you are seeking to visit and ask for an up-to-date list of requirements for bringing a pet.
  2. Bring your dog to a veterinarian where you are currently located and get all of the required shots, tests, paperwork, etc.
  3. Visit the USDA or the equivalent in the country you are in to get your paperwork certified and stamped.
  4. Send all of the required paperwork back to the government veterinarian in the country you are desiring to go to and have them approve it. You will also need to get a permit from them for your pet to enter the country.
  5. Then, once you get to the new country, you may have to bring your pet to the government vet so that they can make sure it is the same pet on the paperwork, as well as to make sure the pet is healthy.

Now, these aren’t the exact steps for every single country, as every country has its own process.

The process can take several months from beginning to end, so you will want to make sure that you budget for plenty of time to get everything ready. When you’re boating with dogs, especially around the Caribbean, you can spend a lot of time researching this kind of stuff.

You’ll want to make sure you follow the steps exactly as detailed by the country you are going to, because doing them out of order (such as getting the vaccinations in the wrong timeline) will invalidate the process. This can be a costly and timely mistake, but it’s avoidable.

When you’re traveling with a dog or another pet, I also recommend:

  • Try to bring as much food for your pet as you can. We usually bring several months of dog food with us, as there may not be as many choices where you are going.
  • Keep your dog on a leash when it is required, if there are people near, and so on. And, always follow the leash rules of the area you’re visiting. Not everyone in other countries and areas like dogs, so you will want to keep that in mind.
  • When you go to the vet, try to get any standard medications that you may need. For example, our bigger dog can sometimes have an ear issue that requires a liquid steroid that you insert in her ears. We always try to have at least one backup on us so we don’t have to try to find a vet, as it can be quite difficult in foreign countries to get your dog to a vet if you don’t have a car, and not all islands have a vet either.
  • In some countries and/or areas, you may have to keep your pet documents on you at all times as you may be asked to show it at random times.

While it is a lot of work to bring your dog to a new country, it is possible and most government vets are super nice and helpful.

Some helpful resources for more information on each specific country include:

 

Traveling with a dog in a van

Can you spot Mr. French?

5. How to keep a tiny area clean when traveling with pets.

We keep our home as clean as it can be, which usually means vacuuming every single day. Our bigger dog sheds a ton, and we would be choking on hair all day if we didn’t vacuum as much.

We use a Dyson vacuum (this is the one that we love) and it works great. It’s small, rechargeable, and super portable.

We bring this with us whether we’re on the van or in the boat. Highly, highly recommend.

 

6. How to keep the temperature comfortable in an RV or boat for a pet.

For us, we try to follow good weather as much as we can. However, I know that is not always possible.

There are devices where you can track the temperature over a cell signal back to wherever your dog is (you can find a whole bunch of them on Amazon), which can be a great option. However, you might not always have a signal.

If we are unable to make the temperature comfortable for our dogs or if the electrical power isn’t stable, we simply do not leave our dogs alone.

But, it usually isn’t hard to make it comfortable for them. By opening windows, turning on fans, or the AC, you can make it pretty comfortable for both humans and pets.

 

What do I need to travel with my dog?

Walking in Utah

7. Full-time travel with dogs – how they use the bathroom on the boat.

This is one of the most common questions we’re asked about traveling with a dog. People are fascinated with how our dogs go to the bathroom on our boat.

We always try to make regular and frequent bathroom breaks for our dogs.

Whether we are traveling by boat or car, we like to keep bathroom breaks as similar as possible.

We were nervous training our older dogs to use the bathroom on the boat, but it has been just fine. They only have to do this when we’re on an overnight sail, so it’s not very often. Keep in mind that 90% of the time you’re living on a boat is either at anchor or in a marina, so there is almost always land access.

When we look for a marina or an anchorage, we are always looking to see if there is a good area to let out the dogs. That may mean a beach, a grassy area, a dinghy dock so that we can walk to town with the dogs, and so on.

A lot of people falsely assume that when you’re sailing full-time, neither you or your pets touch land for years at a time, and that assumption just makes me laugh. Our dogs go to shore multiple times a day, except for when we are doing a long passage (which isn’t often).

Depending on where we are, we may have to take them for a short dinghy ride to shore or we’re at dock and can simply walk them off the boat to use the bathroom.

If we are doing a longer passage on our sailboat and there is no land for them to step their paws on, we do have fake grass on our boat that they are able to use. It doesn’t happen often though, and most of the time they still get walked 3-5 times a day even when we are on our sailboat.

 

8. How to keep dogs safe on a boat.

The longest sail that we have done with our dogs was 9 days, and they did extremely well on that sail.

Some of the things we do to make sure they are happy and safe include:

  • One of us is pretty much always keeping an eye on them. If we can’t pay close attention to them, then we put a leash on them or close off the inside area so they cannot fall overboard. (If you decide to leash your dog, please make sure they cannot fall off the boat and choke themselves. This applies to being on the boat, dock, land, etc. Sadly we know someone who had this happen to their dog and it had a very sad ending.)
  • We have life jackets for each dog, and we’ve tested them before bringing them out for sails.
  • At night, we keep everything closed off so that there are absolutely no worries with the dogs.
  • We make sure there is plenty of water, food, snacks, and snuggles.

We are lucky that our dogs are quite comfortable on the boat.

They don’t panic or bark.

They simply fall asleep and are relaxed when on the boat.

I think this ties back into #1 of this blog post – we slowly introduce them to new things. This has allowed them to be quite adaptable to any environment that they are put in, whether we are tent camping, roadtripping, in an RV, or on an overnight sail.

 

Traveling with dog tips

Testing out their new dog life jackets 

9. The items that make it easy for traveling with a dog.

We have a lot of items on the boat that are specifically for our dogs, and many of them come with us when we move to our camper van. Here are the most helpful items we have:

  • Dog ramp – This is for when we are at a fixed dock, where it’s a long hop from our transom to the dock. We had a plastic one for a little bit but we found that it would bend in the heat so we had to switch to something better. We are much happier with an aluminum ramp now.
  • Dog toys – To keep our dogs busy and happy, I like to put peanut butter in a Kong and give it to them as a nice treat.
  • Dog waste bags – We keep a plethora of these onboard our boat and van. We usually bulk buy a big box of around 1,000 bags. We also make sure they are biodegradable and compostable.
  • Help ‘Em Up Harness – This is the harness we have for our bigger dog, and I highly recommend it. We put it on her so that she can easily get in and out of steeper places. It’s a little pricey, but well worth it to make sure your dog is safe.
  • K9 SportSack – We use this for our smaller dog so that we can easily just carry him around. He’s not a huge fan of walking everywhere so putting him in the backpack makes it easier on everyone.
  • Collapsible bowl – We always keep one of these in our hiking bag so that the dogs always have something easy to drink out of.
  • Life jacket – If your dog is going to be on a boat, you’ll want a life jacket for them.

 

10. Getting exercise is still important.

Some people think that having a dog on a boat or in an RV is bad for the dog. I don’t think that could be further from the truth, though.

Our dogs get 3-5 walks (sometimes more) each and every single day.

Exercise is so important whether you’re camping with a dog, sailing with them, etc. Don’t assume you’ll fit in walks – you have to plan them in advance.

We always make sure to give our dogs a long walk at the start of the day if we know we’re going to have a long drive or sail. This way, we can try to tire them out and get rid of a lot of energy.

Taking them for a walk is one of the first things we do when we stop, and then we always fit in another long walk before bedtime. You may feel exhausted after a long day of sailing or traveling, but don’t forget how important exercise and routines are to your pets.

 

11. Have a traveling checklist.

Before you leave for wherever you’re going, I recommend bringing anything you think you’ll need, even if you don’t end up using it. This may include:

  • Pet food
  • Water and food bowls
  • Collars, leashes, harnesses
  • Dog waste bags
  • Treats
  • Blankets and beds
  • Medication
  • Paperwork

Specific pets may need different items, and go over your list before you leave. 

12. What about traveling with a dog on a plane?

I would be careful if you are wanting to fly places with your pets where they have to go in the cargo area, as it can be traumatizing to put them in the cargo area of a plane. It can be extremely hot, scary, and they will be away from you for quite some time.

I know several people who have moved to a new country and flew their dogs in cargo in order to make it possible to bring their pets. But, nearly all of these people have told me that they would never do it again, unless absolutely necessary.

If you are going on short trips by plane, I would not recommend putting your pets in cargo for that. Instead, if you have to bring your pet, I would simply find another way to travel. Or, you can find someone to watch your pet.

If your pet can sit with you on the plane, then that’s a whole different story. They may be just fine on the plane, but you should consult with a veterinarian if you have any questions. We’ve avoided flying with our dogs, so I’m just not as familiar with it.

 

Traveling with a dog

We rented a pontoon in Nevada several years ago with the dogs

Traveling with a dog – in summary

I hope you found today’s article helpful.

Please remember that I am not a pet expert, nor a veterinarian. I do have a lot of experience traveling with a dog, but all pets are different. They have different needs and personalities, and what works for my dogs may not work for yours.

So if you have any concerns about traveling with your pet, please contact your veterinarian.

Traveling with a dog can be extremely enjoyable, but there are a few more things you’ll have to think about.

If you’re anything like me, though, it will be well worth it and your pet will enjoy it as well!

Do you like to travel with your dogs? What other questions do you have for me about traveling with pets?

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How Interest Rate Hikes Affect Personal Loan Investors – SmartAsset

How Interest Rate Hikes Affect Personal Loan Investors – SmartAsset

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In December 2015, the Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point. That was the first time the Fed had raised rates in nearly a decade. While federal funds rate changes don’t directly impact peer-to-peer (P2P) loan interest rates, lending platforms may begin increasing their rates. If you’re investing in peer-to-peer loans, it’s important to understand how that may impact your portfolio.

Rising Rates May Mean Better Returns

Personal loan investors make money by claiming a share of the interest that’s paid on the loans, in proportion to the amount that’s invested. If the platform you’re using raises rates for their borrowers, that means you’ll likely see higher returns.

That’s especially true if you’re open to funding high-risk loans. Peer-to-peer platforms assign each of their borrowers a credit risk rating, based on their credit scores and credit history. The loans that get the lowest ratings are assigned the highest rates. For example, Lending Club’s “G” grade loans (the loans that go to the riskiest borrowers) have interest rates of 25.72%.

Assuming borrowers don’t default on their payments, these investments can be more lucrative than lower-risk loans. Using Lending Club as an example again, F and G grade loans historically have had annual returns of 9.05%, which is nearly double the 5.22% return that investors earn from low-risk “A” grade loans.

The Downsides of a Rate Increase

While rising interest rates may put more money in investors’ pockets, there are some drawbacks to keep in mind. For one thing, it’s possible that as rates rise, borrowers could decide to explore other lending options. If that happens, there would be a smaller pool of loans for investors to choose from.

To compensate, peer-to-peer lenders may resort to issuing lower-quality loans as rates rise, but that could be problematic for investors who prefer to steer away from riskier borrowers. If the platform you use no longer offers the kinds of loan products you want to invest in, you’ll have to reallocate those assets elsewhere to keep your portfolio from becoming unbalanced.

Finally, rising interest rates could result in a higher default rate. Increased rates mean that borrowers have to pay a lot of money for taking out personal loans. If the personal loan payments become unmanageable, a borrower may end up defaulting on their loan altogether. Some platforms refund the fees that investors have paid, but they usually don’t refund their initial investments after borrowers default.

What Investors Ought to Consider

If you’re an active P2P investor or you’re thinking of adding P2P loans to your portfolio, you can’t afford to overlook the risk that’s involved. Financing the riskiest loans is a gamble, so it’s important to consider the consequences of putting money into those kinds of investments.

A good way to hedge your bets is to spread out your investments over a variety of loan grades. That way, if a high-risk borrower defaults you still have other loans to fall back on.

If you want more help with this decision and others relating to your financial health, you might want to consider hiring a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with top financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Ondine32, ©iStock.com/Tomwang112, ©iStock.com/xijian

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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5 Things to Consider Before Getting a Personal Loan

Consider This Before Getting a Personal Loan – SmartAsset

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It’s a new year and if one of your resolutions is to get out of debt, you might be thinking about consolidating your bills into a personal loan. With this kind of loan, you can streamline your payments and potentially get rid of your debt more quickly. If you plan on getting a personal loan in 2016, here are some key things to keep in mind before you start searching for a lender.

Check out our personal loan calculator.

1. Interest Rates Are Going Up

At the end of 2015, the Federal Reserve initiated a much anticipated hike in the federal funds rate. What this means for borrowers is that taking on debt is going to be more expensive going forward. That means that the personal loan rates you’re seeing now could be a lot higher six or nine months from now. If you’re planning on borrowing, it might be a good idea to scope out loan offers sooner rather than later.

2. Online Lenders Likely Have the Best Deals

The online lending marketplace has exploded in recent years. With an online lender, there are fewer overhead costs involved, which translates to fewer fees and lower rates for borrowers.

With a lower interest rate, more money will stay in your pocket in the long run. Lending Club, for example, claims that their customers have interest rates that are 33% lower, on average, after consolidating their debt or paying off credit cards using a personal loan.

Related Article: How to Get a Personal Loan

3. Your Credit Matters

Regardless of whether you go through a brick-and-mortar bank or an online lender, you  likely won’t have access to the best rates if you don’t have a great credit score. In the worst case scenario, you could be denied a personal loan altogether.

You can check your credit score for free. And each year, you have a chance to get a free credit report from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If you haven’t pulled yours in a while, now might be a good time to take a look.

As you review your report, it’s important to make sure that all of your account information is being reported properly. If you see a paid account that’s still showing a balance, for example, or a collection account you don’t recognize, you’ll need to dispute those items with the credit bureau that’s reporting the information.

4. Personal Loan Scams Are Common

As more and more lenders enter the personal loan arena, the opportunity for scammers to cash in on unsuspecting victims also increases. If you’re applying for a loan online, it’s best to be careful about who you give your personal information to.

Some of the signs that may indicate that a personal loan agreement is actually a scam include lenders who use overly pushy sales tactics to get you to commit or ask you to put up a deposit as a guarantee against the loan. If you come across a lender who doesn’t seem concerned about checking your credit or tells you they can give you a loan without doing any paperwork, those are big red flags that the lender may not be legit.

Related Article: How to Avoid Personal Loan Scams

5. Not Reading the Fine Print Could Cost You

Before you sign off on a personal loan, it’s best to take time to read over the details of the loan agreement. Something as simple as paying one date late could trigger a fee or cause a higher penalty rate to kick in, which would make the loan more expensive in the long run.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/DragonImages, ©iStock.com/Vikram Raghuvanshi, ©iStock.com/MachineHeadz

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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The Millionaire Next Door Book Review [6 Important Lessons]

You know that plumber who lives on your street and drives the beat up pickup truck? He’s much more likely to be a millionaire than the executive next door driving the BMW.

Don’t believe me? Well that was a common theme found in The Millionaire Next Door:The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by William Danko and Thomas Stanley.

The Millionaire Next DoorThe Millionaire Next Door
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

The authors surveyed thousands of real millionaires and their answers revealed many surprising lessons, such as:

1. The wealthy don’t always look wealthy and vice-versa.

People who look rich may not actually be rich.

They spend more than they can afford on symbols of wealth but have modest portfolios. Some are living paycheck to paycheck, heavily in debt with little or no savings.

Conversely, real millionaires usually live in middle class neighborhoods, drive cars they own outright, and don’t spend extravagantly on material things.

2. They don’t spend a lot of money on cars.

The authors point out that cars are the second biggest material expense in our lifetime.

If you add up all the money you’ve spent on cars over the years it can be really eye-opening.

Even if you’re young, the amount you’ve spent on cars compared to how much money you’ve earned is usually pretty high.

According to their survey results, most real millionaires buy a nice car, like an Acura or Lexus. They buy it with cash, or make payments until they own it, and ultimately hold on to the car for at least a decade.

Forbes backs this up, stating 61% of those earning at least $250,000 a year are driving Honda, Toyota, Acura and Volkswagens.

3. They save and consistently invest.

In America, our average household savings rate dipped into the negative in 2005, for the first time since the Great Depression. The savings rate has improved but is still only 5% currently.

Which brings us back to your original question; What are the secrets only the wealthy now and the middle class is unaware of?

Now, we all know saving money to acquire wealth is not a secret. But clearly this is an area the middle class can improve in

Compare that negative savings rate to that of the average millionaire, who invests nearly 20% of their income.

In its simplest form, that’s really all wealth is; earning more than you spend and investing the difference — consistently.

Consistently investing means you are fully capitalizing on compounding interest.

It means you are turning small contributions into large sums over time.

4. They adhere to a budget.

The majority of millionaires stick to a budget.

Even among those who don’t budget, they pay themselves first with money directly to their savings and investment accounts. They then work from the remaining funds.

But the majority do take the time to budget, even if they don’t want to, because the know the long-term benefits first-hand.

5. They spend a lot of time managing their money.

managing money

managing money

The wealthy spend a lot of time budgeting, goal setting and managing their portfolios.

According to Danko and Stanley, the wealthy spend nearly twice as many hours per month managing their finances as those without wealth.

The good news?

You don’t have to earn a big six-figure salary to accumulate wealth, as long as you plan for it.

In their survey of 854 middle-income workers, the authors found a strong correlation between investment planning and wealth accumulation citing; “Most prodigious accumulators of wealth have a regimented planning schedule. Each week, each month, each year, they plan their investments.”

6. They own their own business or work for themselves.

Not everyone that gets rich owns their own businesses.

But in The Millionaire Next Door, they discovered a lot of folks who ran their own service businesses such as landscapers, plumbers, electricians, commercial cleaners and so on.

One of the key takeaways of this book for me is many millionaires attributed their dedication to financial planning as a requirement of doing business.

Because their business finances and personal finances are so closely intertwined, they really have no choice but to consistently examine their finances in order to survive — and thrive.

There’s many more lessons in the book but I wanted to mention some of the biggest takeaways for me.

Thumbs Up

I initially read The Millionaire Next Door around the year 2000.  I don’t remember the exact year.  But it was very impactful in my life, so much so that I’ve read it several times since then.

It’s a mindset book as much as it’s a nuts-and-bolts how-to book.  Much of the advice is tried and true stuff your parents or grandparents would tell you.   You’d be wise to listen to it, as tried-and-true tactics provide the best template to follow for proven success.

At the same time, the data from their surveys also uncovers many surprising similarities among millionaires.   Tendencies and habits that challenge conventional wisdom and make you rethink your employment, lifestyle and personal finance decisions.

It’s definitely one of my favorite personal finance books, which is why I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned from it here.

The Millionaire Next Door is a must-read, no matter where you are in your personal finance journey.  It really provides the proper mindset needed to successfully manage your money.

It sets the right foundation for your money goals.  When you see the common habits of hundreds of millionaires, along with the logic behind those habits, it’s becomes painfully obvious the personal choices you need to make to become a millionaire yourself, or at least improve your personal finances significantly.

Have you read The Millionaire Next Door?  What is the biggest lesson you learned from reading it?

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Source: incomist.com

How to (Actually) Stop Overspending on Christmas Presents

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how to actually stop overspending on christmas presents

Here are the 5 steps you need to take to stop yourself from overspending on Christmas gifts

The excitement, the gingerbread latte is now kicking in … the click-clack of your shoes racing down Target’s floor tiles… as you frantically snatch the must-have toy of the season off the shelf, clutching it possessively to your chest!  

VICTORY!

As you round the corner trying to get back to the main aisle, you can’t believe your eyes; you haven’t seen this Magnolia item in stock in FOREVER! In your shopping cart it goes! Off to checkout, and you slooooow way down going by the girl’s section, and think, “That’s super cute! My little one would love that!” It too goes in the cart!

An hour later, and your phone bings at you. Yup, it’s a large purchase amount alert from your credit card. It reads, “Did you spend $358.42 at Target? This amount is over your alert limit notification settings”.

And just like in The Christmas Story, you say (in slow motion for dramatic effect) “Oh FUDGE!”

You totally overspent! Again! You told yourself you weren’t going to overspend on Christmas presents again! (like ever!) Last year’s holiday credit card bill left you with hives, and you promised yourself that this next year would be different!

Well, guess what, that Target scenario up above… it was just a dream. Just like Ebenezer, there is time for you to change your ways. You’re not doomed to follow the same path you did last year! So if you’re ready, let’s dive into how to stop overspending at Christmas!

how to stop overspending on christmas presents

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info

What is the Christmas Debt Hangover?

Ugh! No one likes a hangover! But unlike a hangover from too much bubbly, a Christmas debt hangover can last months and months (sometimes years)! No thanks!

According to a MagnifyMoney survey, “Americans took on an average of $1,325 of holiday debt in 2019”. Here’s how their numbers played out…

  • 44% of consumers took on debt this holiday season, and the majority (57%) didn’t plan on doing so.
  • 78% of those with holiday debt won’t be able to pay it off come January, including 15% who are only making minimum payments.
  • 58% of indebted consumers are stressed about their holiday debt.
  • 40% plan to consolidate debt and/or shop around for a good balance transfer interest rate, but more than half won’t even try. Of those that won’t try, 20% think it’s not necessary, and 18% don’t want to deal with another bank.

Now specifically regarding how long it would take them to pay off the debt, survey responders said…

  • 22% said one month
  • 21% said two months
  • 19% said three months
  • 8% said four months
  • 16% said 5+ months
  • 15% are paying only minimum payments

Right now, The Fed Reserve lists the average credit card interest rate to be 14.52%. You can generally assume that your minimum payment will be about 2% of your total bill. Here’s a screenshot of how long it would take to pay off the card (if you didn’t put any more purchases on it).

magnify money debt calculator
using Magnify Money’s credit card debt calculator

64 months? Paying $582 in interest? W.T.F.!

Are you ready to tame your shopping spree beast? Because, after looking at those numbers, overspending at Christmas is not cool!

How to stop overspending on Christmas presents: Step One – decide what you will focus on besides the gifts!

It’s just smart sense that when you take something away, you need to replace it with something else. Instead of a donut, have a whole grain muffin!  

So instead of focusing on gifts, what do you want to spend the season focused on? I’ve got a great list of frugal family fun ideas for the holidays!  These are bucket list items perfect for the holiday season!

You’re especially going to need something fun to do Christmas morning, as you don’t want the day to be anticlimactic without all the presents, as it might be hard on our littlest ones. Think about…

  • Doing a Meals on Wheels delivery route in your neighborhood.
  • Go caroling.
  • Do a Christmas movie marathon (pj’s required!).
  • Make a full holiday meal together as a family.
  • Go sledding/skiing/ice skating or go to the mountains for snow time fun! Don’t forget the hot cocoa and accessories for the snowman you’ll build!

Step Two – Consider a gifting strategy

Every good General knows that you need a plan of attack or a strategy, shall we say. And if you don’t think Christmas shopping is kind of like preparing for battle, then hats off to your peaceful and serene holidays of the past. The rest of us battle-weary moms can barely nod in agreement (as we’re still a little shell shocked from last year’s holiday season).

Strategy One – Adopt the 4 Gift Rule

This one is amazing in its simplicity to help you stop overspending on Christmas gifts! It caters to those toying with the idea of having a minimalist(ish) holiday, and it’s gaining popularity every year! You gift each recipient (that you would typically buy lots for) just four gifts.

  1. Something to wear
  2. Something to read
  3. Something they need
  4. Something they want

I’d like to think of it as a way to buy a more meaningful selection of gifts. As you’re looking not just to buy lots of things, but purchase specific items. Hopefully, the receivers will appreciate their gifts a little more and not get lost in the craze of ripping off wrapping paper at the speed of light.

Don’t forget to snag your printable gift list tracker; there’s a four gift rule one and then a classic gift list printable. Everything you need to stay organized and on budget!

christmas gifting list

Strategy Two – Give the gift of an experience

Maybe your kids have everything that they need! Maybe you are dreading anything more coming into your home as you need to get your Home Edit on right now!

If that’s the case, then consider giving an experience instead. This could be a short trip to the beach or a big trip to Walt Disney World. Or tickets to a sporting game or an event like Comic-Con. Go as big or as small as you like. Set aside the Christmas money and put it in a sinking fund to make this experience come true (even if it’s at a later date).

Hint: if it’s a trip to a theme park, some have vacation planning DVDs or online videos (DisneyWorld does). This would be a great thing to wrap and put under the tree!

Strategy Three – Go the D.I.Y. route

Now, this isn’t for those of us that are all thumbs (meeee!) I am not a crafter/knitter/artist/DIYer by nature. But for those of you that are, consider harnessing your talent for homemade gifts!

Even if you don’t have a talent, maybe consider gifting a custom photo book from Shutterfly. Or collect great grandmothers family recipes together and turn them into a little book (or place her most famous recipe on a tea towel! Cute huh!)

That’s right, as your mother always said, it pays to plan ahead! That means getting your Christmas present shopping done early! As the holiday gets closer, we tend to panic slightly; we grab just about anything that will do as a good gift. Most of the time that means we’re spending a little more (because we don’t want to get a cheapo lame gift)!

So start jotting down your gift choices now! Aka ASAP! I.e., immediately!

Okay, you get the drift. Besides, online ordering gets bigger every year, and sometimes there are shipping delays or snowstorms that stop service in half the country (yikes!) You don’t want to get a substitute gift because your original gift won’t be back in stock until January 17th!

Christmas Budget Workbook mock up

Step Four – Use Cash

They say cash is king, and they’re right! Especially when it comes to spending money. Because when the cash is out, the spending is done! It’s genius at its most basic, and it works every time (as long as you leave your credit cards at home). You simply cannot overspend on Christmas gifts!

Using cash envelopes is a strategy used by many successful budgeters! Besides, stuffing these cute festive holiday cash envelopes is fun! You can use one for each person you’re gifting to or use one for each holiday shopping category—I.e., food, decorations, gifting, fun times, supplies, etc. Or if you’re crafty here are some cash envelope templates that you can make on your own!

Nerdwallet references a cult classic report where, “An often-cited study is one conducted by Dun & Bradstreet, in which the company found that people spend 12%-18% more when using credit cards instead of cash.”

Don’t forget that when you pay with cash, you won’t have to pay interest on the charge either! Look at it this way; when you pay cash, you’re buying something. When you pay with a credit card, you’re borrowing the money for it; you didn’t buy it (but you’ll pay extra for it in interest!)

Step Five – Don’t go into the stores!

This one sounds silly, I know, but it’s so painfully obvious. If you don’t have to go into a store, then don’t! Because really, we’ve all gone into a store, we don’t grab a cart because we just need one thing, and we come up to the cashier juggling items like a clown!  

Inevitably when you go into a store, it’s straight temptation. Why do that to yourself? Stay home, and send someone else to the store, or better yet, do some online ordering for that item you need!

Or if you’re poison is the 1-click buy, then take some super easy preventative measures. Delete your credit card info on your devices! GASP! I know, I know, it sounds drastic, but making it just the teensiest bit harder on yourself to shop online could mean saving hundreds! Because honestly, sometimes I don’t get up to walk across the house to grab my credit card number!

Better yet, do a marketing edit! Unsubscribe from those pesky emails from your favorite retailers and unfollow them on social media! You won’t want what you never see! Now, I know you’ve been thinking about this idea for a while, give it a try! You can always go back later and subscribe again!

Simple hacks to stop overspending on Christmas presents

Know your prices

Do you know the regular price of the “sale” item in your hand? Even though it says it’s on sale or discounted 20% off, it might still not be a great price! If you are 100% in on saving money this holiday season, then you should scout your gifts early, record their prices, and wait to see what the “holiday deals” actually are.

Many retailers change their prices regularly. What was $59 in September could easily now be $75 in December. Yet now they can mark it being 20% off! They get to keep their sales margin high enough to get a good profit, and you (the customer) feel like you got a good deal. Winner Winner… oh wait, that’s a bull$hit dinner!

Be smarter than the retailer!

Don’t go shopping when…

  • You are hungry
  • You’re short on time
  • With somebody else (friends can be bad influences, sorry friends)
  • It’s going to be super crowded (instead go early in the morning, or late at night)

Next years plan for Christmas gifting

If you get through this Christmas and going low key on gifts wasn’t for your family, then no problem. You can have the Christmas that your family wants; you may need to start socking away money for it a bit earlier than usual! Check out How to Start a Christmas Savings Plan and How to Plan the Perfect Christmas Budget!

At the end of the day

I know that reading about how to not overspend at Christmas sounds like a bummer of a topic. But honestly, think about how you’ll feel come January when you don’t have that big fat credit card bill that’s knocking out your wallet like it’s Balboa in Rocky 1!

I know that for many of us, we remember Christmases of youth, with mountains of presents, and we want to recreate those warm fuzzy memories for our own kids. But those warm fuzzy feelings can be created out of so many instances, not just present opening. So save yourself the agony and angst of overspending at Christmas, and don’t even go there!

Christmas Budget Workbook mock up

What are your top tips for how to stop overspending on holiday gifts ?

Source: moneyforthemamas.com

Things to Consider When Moving From a House to an Apartment

Moving from a house to an apartment has its perks and its challenges – and planning your move strategically can help with the latter! Whether you’re looking for a fresh start in a new town or moving cross-country for school, there are several things to consider as you downsize to an apartment.

1. Measure your new space.

That plush, overstuffed couch may look incredible in your house’s open-concept living room. However, it might be a bit overwhelming in a smaller apartment. The same goes for your six-person dining table and king size bed.

Don’t spend time or money (or elbow grease!) lugging your furniture to a new apartment only to discover it won’t fit in the door! If you’ve already picked out your specific apartment, you’ll be able to get exact measurements of each room you’ll be furnishing. Use those measurements or your apartment’s floor plan to figure out what can stay and what needs to go.

Haven’t selected your apartment yet and not sure how to downsize? You can still start determining which furnishings need to go. For example, if you know you’ll be searching for a one-bedroom apartment, you can probably get rid of your guest room and home office furniture.

2. Ditch the (unnecessary) past.

Aside from losing the excess or oversized furniture, you’ll likely have plenty of belongings to sort through as well. The beautiful thing about apartment living is that you won’t need everything you needed in a house. Appliances are provided, so don’t worry about transporting your stove. Lawn care is officially a thing of the past, so you can get rid of your gardening and landscaping tools. One downside of moving from a house to an apartment is that you’ll likely lose some storage space. However, this makes your move a perfect opportunity to declutter, donate, and sell stuff you won’t need.

3. Look into storage units.

If you’ve got things that won’t quite fit in your new apartment, but you can’t fathom getting rid of them, check out your local storage options. You can use a storage unit for keeping the things you only use sporadically, like a camping tent, seasonal décor, family heirlooms, and so on. This is also the perfect option for someone moving into a temporary apartment, who needs to stash their extra things for the time being.

4. Consider “double duty” furniture.

When downsizing to an apartment, it’s wise to be savvy with your furnishings. For example, buying a pullout couch can instantly turn your living room into a makeshift guest room. Opting for a storage ottoman instead of a coffee table can offer extra functionality. In an apartment, multi-tasking furniture like futons, modular couches, and expandable dining tables can help you make the most out of every square foot.

If you’re just testing the apartment life, you don’t need to spend a fortune on new, “multi-tasking” furniture. Avoid the upfront costs and hassle of furnishing a new space by renting furniture with CORT. When you shop at CORT, you don’t have to empty your life-savings to furnish an apartment for a one-year lease!

5. Embrace everything apartment living has to offer!

One beautiful thing about moving from a house to an apartment is the ability to take advantage of the amenities of the property. For example, an on-site gym means you can cancel your pricey gym memberships and sell your home gym equipment. Additionally, some apartment complexes offer free internet and cable, giving you one less bill to pay. There are plenty of things to look forward to when moving to an apartment!

Considering a grander life in a smaller space? Make sure you’re happy with your new home’s amenities, neighborhood, and square footage. Find your next place on Apartment Search and downsize to the perfect apartment.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

What Is Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)?

What Is Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)?

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Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) is the process businesses use to prepare budgets, generate forecasts, analyze profitability and otherwise inform senior management decisions of how to implement the company’s strategy most effectively and efficiently. The FP&A functions can be accomplished by an individual or a team working alongside other finance professionals such as the controller and treasurer and reporting to the chief financial officer (CFO). While FP&A is often performed by people with an accounting background, it differs from accounting by focusing primarily on forward-looking information as opposed to historical data.

Typical members of an FP&A team include financial analysts and one or more FP&A managers charged with coordinating the work of the analysts. In larger organizations, a director or vice president of FP&A oversees the overall process and strategic direction and communicates with the CFO, CEO and members of the board of directors.

FP&A Functions

To fulfill its function of providing information and insight connecting corporate strategy and execution, FP&A performs a wide range of activities. These can be divided into a few broad categories including planning and budgeting, forecasting and management reporting.

The central output of the FP&A process consists of long- and short-term plans. The job requires using financial and operational data gathered from throughout the company. A key part of the FP&A process is collecting and combining a wide variety of figures from operations, sales, marketing and accounting departments to produce a unified view of the entire business that can guide strategy decisions by senior executives and board members.

Producing budgets is a big part of the FP&A planning function. Budgets describe expectations for the timing and amounts of arriving income, cash generation, disbursements to pay bills and debt reductions. Budgets may be monthly, quarterly and annually. Often FP&A creates a rolling budget for the following 12-month period that will be reviewed, adjusted and extended at the end of each quarter. FP&A also creates income statements and cash flow statements.

One of the performance reporting functions of FP&A is identifying variances when actual numbers reported by business units don’t match up to the budgeted amounts. In addition to identifying and quantifying variances, FP&A can offer recommendations for strategies that could be used to bring actual results in line with expectations.

Reports and forecasts from FP&A may be presented to the board of directors, to the CEO or other senior executives or to outside stakeholders such as lenders and investors. At a strategic level, decision makers use these analyses to choose how best to allocate the company’s resources.

Public companies reply on FP&A to provide shareholders and analysts with guidance on revenue and profits for upcoming quarters and fiscal years. The accuracy of the guidance supplied to the markets can have a sizable effect on stock prices.

Decision Support

Along with the ongoing responsibility to produce budgets, plans and forecasts, FP&A may also be called upon to support specific management decisions. For instance, it might analyze a merger or acquisition proposal to enable management to decide whether to pursue it or not. Other special projects delegated to FP&A could include analyzing internal incompatibilities and bottlenecks and making recommendations about how to improve the company’s processes.

Initiatives to find ways to trim costs and make a business more efficient are also likely to involve input from FP&A specialists. Because it is in constant communication with all areas of the company in order to gather data for its budgets and plans, FP&A is well suited to optimization efforts.

FP&A’s responsibilities could extend to nearly any department in the company, from operations to marketing to finance. For instance, FP&A may conduct internal audits, research markets or evaluate individual customer profitability. FP&A could also be called upon to provide risk management insights or assess the financial impact of tax policy decisions.

Bottom Line

Financial planning and analysis involves gathering financial and other data from throughout a business’s various departments and using that to generate projections, forecasts and reports to help executives make optimum business decisions. Annual and quarterly budgets and forecasts, profit-and-loss statements, cash flow projections and similar decision-making tools are all produced by FP&A.

Tips for Small Business Owners

  • Financial planning and analysis is a job best handled by an experienced financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • The 80/20 Rule can help businesses gain insight into issues and opportunities so they can respond more effectively and efficiently. By identifying elements contributing most to a given outcome, businesses can better target resources to remove obstacles and exploit openings.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/kali9, ©iStock.com/Maica, ©iStock.com/Korrawin

Mark Henricks Mark Henricks has reported on personal finance, investing, retirement, entrepreneurship and other topics for more than 30 years. His freelance byline has appeared on CNBC.com and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and other leading publications. Mark has written books including, “Not Just A Living: The Complete Guide to Creating a Business That Gives You A Life.” His favorite reporting is the kind that helps ordinary people increase their personal wealth and life satisfaction. A graduate of the University of Texas journalism program, he lives in Austin, Texas. In his spare time he enjoys reading, volunteering, performing in an acoustic music duo, whitewater kayaking, wilderness backpacking and competing in triathlons.
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Source: smartasset.com