With a whole new year at your fingertips, and plenty of virtual classes becoming available each day, there’s never been a better time to try something new. Now is the perfect opportunity to finally get around to that new skill or hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Better yet, many of these classes can be attended from the comfort of your own home.
Community or State College Course
If you’ve always wanted to learn a second language, or you’re interested in learning more about cooking, sign up for an online class through your local college. Many will allow you to audit a class for no credit, which means you can take the course without worrying about grades while still getting access to the same textbooks, lessons and materials. Some colleges even allow senior citizens to audit courses for free or at reduced rates.
Sewing or Knitting Lessons
There are a plethora of virtual lessons out there ranging from paid craft store-sponsored classes to free videos on YouTube. Sign up for a class or ask a generous and crafty friend to plan a Zoom get-together so they can show you the ropes.
Join a Virtual Book Club
While not technically a class, if your goal is to read more books, there’s no better time to join a book club. Get accountability, amazing book suggestions and interesting conversation—and do it all without leaving your couch. It’s an introverted book-lover’s dream come true.
Online Painting Course or Paint and Sip
Taking a painting course through a college or your local art society can be a great way to polish up on your painting skills. If you’re not ready for a big time commitment, look around and see if a local shop is hosting a virtual paint and sip event. Simply pay for the class, pick up your materials and wine pairing, and take the course from home by yourself or with a friend or family member.
Local Fitness Class
Whether you opt for Zumba, Pilates or yoga, your local fitness club likely has a variety of options so that you can join in the fun without leaving your house. This is a great option for anyone looking to improve their health without having to worry about the logistics of heading to the gym.
Virtual Museum Tours
If you’re interested in learning about history or other cultures, signing up for a few virtual museum tours could be the perfect way to scratch that itch.
Great suggestions! Thanks, RISMedia.
People sometimes set aside money for a rainy day, but don’t know when they should tap into their emergency fund and when they shouldn’t. It’s important to be able to distinguish between needs and wants so you don’t use your savings for the wrong things, just to find yourself unable to cover essentials when a true emergency arises.
What Is an Emergency?
A job loss or pay cut, home or car repairs that can’t wait, urgent medical care for a member of your family that your insurance doesn’t cover and unexpected travel, such as visiting a loved one who is in the hospital or attending a funeral, are examples of emergencies. In those types of situations, you may have to tap into your emergency fund.
What Is Not an Emergency?
Anticipated expenses, such as property and income taxes, routine home and auto maintenance, and gifts for birthdays and holidays are not emergencies. If you want to take a vacation or attend a friend’s wedding, you will have months to plan and save. If you’re thinking about buying a car or a house, you will have months, if not years, to save up for a down payment. Factor those expenses into your regular budget and set up one or more savings accounts to keep money for those goals separate from your emergency fund.
How to Avoid Using Your Emergency Fund
If you experience a true emergency, such as a job loss, look for ways to cut expenses before you dip into your emergency fund. You may be able to cut back on entertainment costs and work with your creditors to postpone or reduce your monthly payments. You may be able to pick up a part-time job or a side gig, or sell some items you own to make some quick cash. Once you have explored all those options, you may have to use your emergency fund, but you won’t go through all the money right away.
How Much Should You Have in Your Emergency Fund?
Work on setting aside enough money to cover essential living expenses for at least three months. If that goal seems overwhelming, start small. Look for areas where you can cut back and put the money you save into an emergency fund. Even $500 is a good start. Once you have made some changes and have begun to see your savings account balance grow, your initial success may motivate you to save even more.
Replace Money in Your Emergency Fund as Soon as Possible
Life happens. If you have to use your emergency fund for a legitimate purpose, don’t feel guilty. Just be sure to build the fund back up after your financial situation stabilizes so you’ll be prepared if another setback occurs.
Great info! Thanks RISMedia
An accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, is a residence that may be attached to a house or in a separate structure located on the same property. An ADU must have its own entrance, kitchen and living area, and may tap into the main house’s utilities.
Renovating your garage into an accessory dwelling unit can give you additional living space or a new stream of income. **Before you undertake such a project, consider the benefits and downsides, as well as local zoning rules.
Reasons to Convert Your Garage to an ADU
A garage can be turned into an apartment for an elderly parent, a place for a child to live when returning home from college during breaks, or a place for other relatives to stay when they come to visit. An apartment with a separate entrance can give family members privacy while allowing people to spend time together when they want.
You may be able to convert your garage into an apartment and rent it out to generate income. If you find a tenant to live there year-round, the monthly rent payments can offset some of your mortgage payments and give you more flexibility in your budget.
Another option is to offer an accessory dwelling unit for short-term rentals. If you live in an area that’s popular with tourists, a garage that has been converted to an apartment may be more appealing to visitors than a hotel room.
An ADU can also provide additional space for people who are already living in your household. For example, you can use it as a workshop, art studio, home office or children’s playroom.
Yet another option is to live in an ADU yourself and rent out the main house. That can give you financial freedom in retirement.
Though this additional living space may quickly increase your home’s value, remember that your property taxes may also go up.
Drawbacks to Consider
If you want to convert your garage, you will, of course, have to pay for renovations. The price tag will depend on the types of changes you want to make and costs for an architect, contractors, materials and permits.
You may have to take out a loan or use a home equity line of credit to fund the project. If you rent out the unit, you may recoup the money, but there is no guarantee that you’ll get a renter right away or that the apartment will be rented out consistently. If you don’t have rental money coming in, you’ll still have to make payments toward a loan or HELOC.
If you decide to rent out this space, you will have to deal with maintenance, rent collection and other landlord-tenant issues. You’ll also have less privacy with a tenant nearby.
Converting your garage to an apartment means you won’t be able to use the space for storage. You’ll have to find somewhere else to store your vehicles, lawn care equipment and other items you currently keep in the garage.
*Great Article - thanks RIS MEDIA
Four Ways to a Higher Credit ScoreImproving your credit can take time, often many months. But there are some things you can do to raise your credit score quickly, even if only by a few points.
Pay Bills on Time
Payment history is the most important factor in FICO scores, accounting for up to 35 percent of a credit score. Paying your bills on time—regardless of whether it’s a credit card bill or a utility bill—can significantly improve your score.
Late payments stay on a credit report for seven years. The longer ago they happened, the less they affect credit scores. If a bill goes unpaid long enough, the debt can be sold to a collections agency and will get reported to credit bureaus.
Maintain Low Balances
Keeping a low balance lowers your credit utilization rate, which is the amount of credit you’re using. Also called credit usage, it is the second most important factor in credit scores and accounts for 30 percent of a score.
Your credit usage is calculated by dividing the total of your balances by your total credit limits. For example, $3,740 in credit card debt divided by $16,000 in a total credit card limit equals 23 percent usage.
Paying off the balances in full each month should keep the credit utilization rate low, which should preferably be at no more than 30 percent on any one card or in total.
Increase Your Credit Limit
Another part of credit usage is how much your credit limit is. Increasing your limit in small increments by getting a new credit card can lower your credit utilization rate by giving you more money to use. You could also ask your current credit card provider to increase your credit limit. However, using that higher credit card limit could increase your credit usage, so you may want to use it rarely and pay it off in full each month.
Keep Credit Card Accounts Open
Age of credit history has a 15 percent impact on a credit score. Creditors and lenders like to see an average account age of more than five years. Keep your older accounts open to get over the five-year average. While this isn’t a quick step to improving your credit score, it’s worth keeping in mind for the long-term health of your credit. If you want to see faster results, start by paying your bills on time, using less of your available credit and ask for a credit limit increase.
Great article! Thanks - RISMedia!
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