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Bellwether's Blog on life and money

Marriage & Money: What To Talk About Before You Send the Wedding Invitations

Posted in Main Blog
May 08, 2015 by BCCU
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Why you should talk about personal finances as a couple long before the wedding invitations go out. Image from financialtipoftheday.com

Wedding invitations, bridesmaid dresses, serving chicken or salmon (or both)…so many decisions are being made in the months leading up to your wedding, and yet many couples leave one of the most important discussions for weeks or months after their wedding. That is the discussion of how to handle their personal finances as a married couple.

Men and Women Are Different

It’s no surprise that men and women are different in many things, and money is definitely one of them. Because you’re forming a life-long partnership, sharing your feelings around money and its management is vital to the ongoing success of your relationship. That means being up front about financial tasks you’re comfortable with, and tasks that fall outside your comfort zone.


5 Key Ingredients For a (Financially) Stable Marriage

Financial author Dave Ramsey offers some specific steps on preparing financially for marriage.† Here are 5 discussion points that will help the two of you sort through and prioritize your feelings around money, its management, and your long-term financial goals as a couple and eventually a family.

1. Transparency - Both of you should be up front about your current situation and put everything on the table:

  • income
  • expenses
  • debt (large and small)
  • bankruptcies
  • student loans
  • savings
  • collections
  • credit card issues
  • credit scores

It’s great to share what your parents and others have taught you about finances, and discuss the similarities and differences you have with your partner. Getting on the same page philosophically lays a foundation of trust.

2. Merging - In his article, Dave Ramsey points out “When you get married, combining your money into joint accounts is a crucial step. You are becoming one…Working together from a shared account brings honesty, unity and a sense that ‘we’re in this together!’”

3. Budgeting - Next it’s time to take all this information and put it on paper to help you determine what a typical month will look like. Review the budget every month to see what’s working, what isn’t, and to make adjustments.

Try out our helpful budget calculator. It will help you nail down your month-to-month expenses as a new couple. Image from iMoney.my

4) Planning - Once you have all of the details in your budget written down, it’s time to make a plan. Your plan should consist of creating an emergency fund, paying off debt, setting aside 3–6 months of expenses in savings (an expansion of your emergency fund), retirement investment, home repayment, and building a plan for giving back. These are steps you plan for, but accomplish one-by-one. Start off with planning on saving $1,000 for your emergency fund, and move through each step until you reach your plan for giving back. You can read more about these steps here.

5) Relating - This is listed last, but this should be a constant in all your conversations about finances—it refers to relating to each other. This article might focus on talking about money, but your relationship is what always comes first. Don’t let your talks about money stress you out—it’s about your loved one and your relationship. Your marriage is first, money is second.

Did you know…there’s an account for that!

We help new couples like you find the right solution—from auto and home refinance to checking and savings accounts—to help you achieve your financial goals and strategies. Contact us at 603-645-8181 to speak with us about budgeting, planning and other steps to get you started on the best path to a solid financial future.

http://www.daveramsey.com/article/newlyweds-what-do-we-need-to-know-about-money/lifeandmoney_relationshipsandmoney/

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April School Vacation Ideas in New Hampshire

Posted in Main Blog
April 24, 2015 by Trish R.
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The warm weather is here, just in time for April school vacation! Chances are if you and your family aren’t going away for the week, you’ll be looking for fun things to do locally. From past experience, I’ve learned that my kids enjoy vacation with a plan a week of activities to keep them busy. Checkout this list of kid-friendly activities happening in New Hampshire next week.

Manchester Monarchs Hockey Game: Start vacation off right on Saturday April 25th at the Verizon Wireless Arena. The Manchester Monarchs will be facing the Portland Pirates in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. This is an event the whole family can enjoy!

Fisher Cats Baseball & Softball Camps: Do you have a young athlete in the family? The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are holding baseball and softball camps at the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester all week. Kids will learn baseball and softball skills from Fisher Cats players and be given a ticket to watch the baseball game on Wednesday April 29th! See a complete list of details about the camp on the MiLB website.

Graffiti Paint Bar Family Paint Sessions: Learn how to paint in a fun, kid-friendly environment during Graffiti Paint Bar’s Family Paint sessions in Nashua on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during vacation week! The sessions are being held from 12:30 PM until 2:00 PM and all ages are welcome.

Currier Museum of Art: The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester is hosting exciting events each day of vacation week! Check out story time, dance performances, or the landscape scavenger hunt! The museum has fun-filled events the whole family can enjoy!

Studio 550 Art Center: If you have an artsy teen in your family, check out the pottery art camp being held at Studio 550 Art Center. The “Teen Wheel-Throwing” class is a basic introduction to pottery. The class is a 5 day event held in Manchester, beginning Monday, April 27th.

McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center: The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord is perfect for the explorer in your family. The center will be open from 10:30 AM until 4:00 PM every day during vacation week. Squeeze in a Planetarium Show, and check out all of the neat exhibits while you are there.

SEE Science Center: Incorporate learning into your child’s vacation at the SEE Science Center! The amazing exhibits offer the chance to explore math and science in a fun, engaging way. The center, located in downtown Manchester, is open every day of the week, and has a gift shop full of fun items to continue the learning experience at home.

The best part about vacation week activities is the deals that are available to families. Many places will offer special admission pricing or discounts for siblings. If you have some down time, there are plenty of parks and ice cream stands open for the season too! Don’t miss out on the fun this year. Get out and enjoy a break from the norm with the whole family!

Sources
www.nhmagazine.com
www.ParentingNH.com
www.visitnh.gov

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Celebrate Earth Day & Go Green!

Posted in Main Blog
April 21, 2015 by Amanda N.
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Spring is upon us and everything is going to start turning green again. Fortunately, New Hampshire is a beautiful state full of lakes, mountains, and coastline. It’s important we help to keep the environment around us clean and promote going green! What better time to start doing this than Earth Day? This year Earth Day is Wednesday, April 22.

New Hampshire Magazine and Parenting NH have posted several family friendly Earth Day events. Some events are taking place on Earth Day, while others are that weekend. These events consist of garden clean ups, beach clean ups, and Earth Day 5K runs! I outlined a few of the events to give you an idea.

The 5th Annual Stoneyfield Earth Day 5K – Saturday May 16th, 2015. This event isn’t on Earth Day, but includes a free Earth Day fair. The fair starts at 10 AM and is open to the public. The race is open for registration through May 12th. There will be food, music, and other great environment friendly products!

Kennebunk Savings Rescue Run: Race for Marine Mammals – A 5K run/walk at the Seacoast Science Center on Saturday April 25th, 2015. This event is kid-friendly and will include music and additional ocean activities. The Blue Ocean Society will also be holding a beach clean-up!

Make sure to check out the lists to find an event that interest you! If you can’t make it to any of the Earth Day events, you can still Go Green. The following are some tips to be earth-friendly every day of the year.

  • Use Reusable Grocery Bags – Reduce waste by using cloth bags at the grocery store instead of paper or plastic. The bags are more durable to carry and are sometimes even made from recycled products!
     
  • Bring Your Own To-Go Cup To The Drive-Thru – Bring your own cup when ordering coffee. Some places even offer a discount when you do!
     
  • Recycle / Repurpose – Recycling allows us to reuse products instead of disposing of them. Sort your garbage and take it to the recycling center, instead of using a dumpster. If you’re crafty, you can make lots of things for your home with repurposed items. We Hate to Waste outlines how to recycle correctly at the recycling center.
     
  • Compost – Composting is all organic, and helps the soil. If you’re new to composting, check out Planet Natural for composting tips.

It’s important we all do our part in keeping Planet Earth clean. Recycle and repurpose to reduce waste whenever possible. Every little bit we do will help to keep our home clean and healthy. Since I am a gardener my goal is to be better at composting. How will you become more Earth Friendly this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Sources:
www.nhmagazine.com
www.parentingnh.com
www.planetnatural.com
www.wehatetowaste.com 

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See Fenway Park from the Inside!

Posted in Main Blog
April 12, 2015 by Jenn R.
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Living in New England, you’re most likely a Red Sox fan. Even if you’re not, you have to appreciate the historic aspect of Fenway Park. After all, it is the oldest major league ballpark in the US! But, sometimes getting there for a game isn’t that easy. From ticket prices, to parking, to the chance of late night extra innings, it all adds up. Well, I have a better idea so you can see the park from the inside, without paying hundreds of dollars - Do the Fenway Park Tour!

Which Tour?

Fenway offers a few different tours, chose one that best fits your interest, or do them all.

  • Public Tour: Enjoy a guided tour thru the historic grounds of “American’s Most Beloved Ballpark.” This tour is a 60-minute, walking tour complete with team, ball club and player history. Price: Adults $18 / Children $12 (Year-round Tour)
  • Fenway in Fifteen: Coming in for a game and short on time? Consider this 15 minute tour which includes the Royal Rooters Club, the Right Field Roof Deck, and ends with a stunning view of the ballpark and Boston City Skyline. Price: Adults & Children $10 (Seasonal Tour – check website for details)
  • Batting Practice Tour: Get on the field, literally. This tour will bring you into the park before the general public, walk out onto the warning track, check out the seats from 1934, and end up on the Green Monster, where you might even catch a ball from batting practice. Price: Adult & Children $30 (Subject to availability and weather dependent)
  • Day Game Premium Tour: Get all the history of Fenway Park and the Red Sox, meet Wally the Green Monster, and get your photo taken on the warning track. Price: Adult & Children $30 (Available on afternoon games before 3pm)

Other ways to see the Park!

Throughout the year there are a variety of opportunities to see the park. It might not be a guided tour, but you’d still get inside.

  • Concerts: This year there are 4 different artists performing at Fenway Park over a period of days. Tickets are available for regular stadium seats, as well as some “field” seats, so you’d actually be on the field!
  • Obstacle Course Race: Sign up for the Spartan Sprint at Fenway! This is one of the most unique and fun Spartan Races in their yearly lineup. Experience breathtaking views and a chance to run in a beloved American landmark.
  • Various Events: Last year there was FenwaYoga in the park, where attendees got to participate in a yoga session taught by a celebrity instructor. And you can count on it, every winter there will be an ice rink at Fenway, for either an NHL Winter Classic Game, or some collegiate games.

What’s your favorite part about Fenway Park?

Sources:
Red Sox
MassVacations.com
Spartan Races

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Financial Literacy: Teaching Your Kids How to Save Money

Posted in Main Blog
April 08, 2015 by BCCU
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Financial education for kids by osmosis—is it possible?? Image from nymetroparents.com.

It seems like teaching your kids about finances should happen by osmosis—they see you doing it, they pick up those skills. Easy-peasy, right? The problem with that is…what are they actually seeing?

For example, if your pay check is automatically deposited to your account, they don’t see you taking a check to your credit union and making a deposit. If you recharge your Starbucks card via your phone, they don’t see you writing a check and balancing your account in your check book.

If we were kids today, money—the earning, saving and spending of it—would seem pretty magical!

“Looking for extra tools to help your kids financial education? There’s a club for that! Visit our “Save It Today!” Kids Club

It’s All About ESSG—Earning, Spending, Saving and Giving

For young kids, the basics to cover are straight forward—where does money come from, how and why do we spend it, how and why do we save it, and how can we give back to help others. As kids get older, the saving and spending get more intricate, since our life goals get more complex—cars, college and more.

Here are some things to cover with your children:

Earning: Money can be earned from an allowance, performing specific chores, or birthday and holiday gifts. Some sources are recurring, such as allowances or moving lawns during the summer, and others might be one-time gifts, such as cash in a birthday card. Earning the money is the starting point.

Spending: It’s never too early to talk about expenses, even though your child likely doesn’t have many. Understanding early that one day he or she will have to set aside money for a phone bill, entertainment, or food will lay a good foundation for later years.

Saving: It’s also never too early to have a savings goal, and a conversation about how to save money. The goal might be to buy a video game or a bicycle. Noting down the goal and an idea of when your child wants to achieve it is the next step. Start today with our Kids Club Savings Worksheet!

Giving: There’s a saying that a society can be judged based on how it treats its weakest citizens. Instilling a believe of service and giving back ensures a more caring future for everybody.

Print off coloring sheets for all of our fun kids club characters—Dollar Bill, Penny, Buck…and Linc of course (shown here.)

Here Are Some Tools To Help Your Family

We’ve put together a money management tip sheet to help you go over earning, spending, saving and giving. It includes advice on how to allocate money to each category, and how to change those allocations as your children get older.

Download the Money Management Tips

If you want to talk about family-focused budgeting and education, give us a call at 603-645-8181 or visit our website to find our nearest location.

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