Virtual Volunteering: 13 Ways to Volunteer Online

Virtual Volunteering: 13 Ways to Volunteer Online

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During Giving November, we’ve been focused on ways to be grateful and give back by giving away your money, your stuff, and even your time.   Organizations need volunteers now more than ever. But, due to COVID-19, many people either aren’t able or willing to volunteer. Furthermore, some organizations can’t accept traditional volunteers.  So how can you make a difference without donating money or volunteering in person? The answer is virtual volunteering. How to Volunteer Online There are many organizations with online volunteer opportunities. But how can you find opportunities? Here are 13 ways you can volunteer online. Call or Email Local Organizations Many nonprofits are still trying to figure out how to move traditional volunteering opportunities to remote volunteer work. Some organizations were able to pivot quickly during COVID-19. Others…
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5 Unexpected Benefits of Giving Away Stuff

5 Unexpected Benefits of Giving Away Stuff

Giving, Take Action
During Giving November, we aren’t just focused on giving away money. The month is also about giving away our time, our skills, and our stuff.  Whether it’s gently used or toys, clothes, books, or even furniture, here are five unexpected benefits of donating things to charity.  1. You Will Feel Lighter Before we were all glued to Marie Kondo’s Netflix Special, “Tidying Up," Gretchen Rubin was writing about the benefits of having an empty shelf.   When you give away your things, you feel lighter and less weighed down.  2. You Gain a Sense of Control Similar to the weight that is metaphorically lifted when you give away your things, decluttering provides a sense of control. Even doing just one small thing on your checklist will empower you to take…
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Set Up Automatic Monthly Donations to Charity

Set Up Automatic Monthly Donations to Charity

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At the end of the year do you pull out your checkbook and start writing checks to numerous charities? That's what I used to do. Every year just before Thanksgiving the appeals start rolling in - to my inbox, mailbox, and even (in non-COVID years) directly by knocks at my door. (Which always makes me feel especially bad because in November in Minnesota it's not exactly warm.) With all of these organizations asking for money my spouse and I sit down with a list of nonprofits we care about and make donations to each one. While this giving certainly gets me in the holiday spirit, and the gratitude makes me feel a lot happier, it's not the best thing to do for the charity or my wallet. This week I…
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Why and How to Set Up a Donor-Advised Fund

Why and How to Set Up a Donor-Advised Fund

Goals / Taking Action, Take Action
One of the most practical tips I learned in law school was from a Wills & Trusts class. No, it wasn’t about how to plan for your death. It was about how to plan for your life, specifically when it comes to donating money. The term I heard in that class, that I had never heard about before, was “donor-advised fund.”   We learned that this was similar to a charitable trust, but with some unique differences.  I don’t know about you, but to me, setting up a charitable trust or anything similar sounded like something only rich people would or should do. However, it turns out you don’t have to be one of the ultra-rich to have a donor advised fund. You can and should set one up. Why Should…
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How and Why to Check Your Dependent Care FSA Today for COVID-19 Breaks

How and Why to Check Your Dependent Care FSA Today for COVID-19 Breaks

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For most employees, it’s open enrollment season right now. And, for many of us, it’s hard to imagine what we need to sign up for in 2021. If you’re like me, everything we thought we needed for 2020 turned out to be a bit different than we planned. A year ago, I signed up for all of my company’s benefits. These benefits included a health care plan with HSA (we have two young kids and always hit our deductible), a vision plan (because two of us wear glasses), a dental plan (yep, we all have teeth!), and the trusty Dependent Care FSA. What is a Dependent Care FSA? For those who aren’t familiar with it, a Dependent Care FSA allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars (up to $5,000 in…
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Preparing for Unexpected Financial Challenges

Preparing for Unexpected Financial Challenges

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
I think most of us agree that saving money is important, but are we putting our money where our proverbial mouths are? According to a 2015 survey, 35% of American’s had no savings, and 34% had less than $1,000. This means that 69% of Americans are financial fragile. When life starts throwing curve-balls at them, these individuals and families likely will not have the necessary funds to meet the challenge(s). It also begs the question: “Is just one savings fund enough to meet all my life’s financial challenges?” The answer is not really. If all you have is one savings fund, it is still worth taking pride in. Saving money can be very difficult and any progress you’ve deserves celebration. But don’t stop with one. There are three basic types…
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What are You Saving for?

What are You Saving for?

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
We all know that saving a little bit of money here and there throughout the month is one of the best strategies for accumulating savings. However, it can be difficult to keep that in mind while you’re shopping, especially if your goal is generalized to “save money”. Using coupons is a popular method for saving money, and can absolutely be an effective way to generate savings. There is a mental trap that many people, myself included, fall into. When you save $3.00 with a coupon, it becomes very tempting to turn around and use that savings on another item. In other words, you feel like you saved money with the coupon, and want to reward yourself.But really, this means that you didn’t save any money. Yes, it stretched farther, but…
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Are the Budget Blues Bringing You Down?

Are the Budget Blues Bringing You Down?

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
If you’ve followed my writing, I’m sure you’ve noticed several articles on budgeting. Why so many? Because a budget is one of the most valuable tools for understanding, managing, and growing your money. Yet it seems to me that many people break-out in a cold sweat the moment I say “budget”. If the B-word induces anxiety in you to the point you can’t bring yourself to write one, try changing your terminology. A budget is just a plan for how you are going to spend your money, so try calling it a “Spending Plan”. Using a Spending Plan is a small lifestyle adjustment to help you reshape your spending habits. It takes time and practice to write and use Spending Plans that are reasonable and accurate, but as you develop…
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Plan your Meals; Plan your Spending

Plan your Meals; Plan your Spending

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Relationships & Money, Take Action
Making food at home is an easy way to trim your spending, but it can often feel difficult to fit in cooking, and clean-up, within daily life. A few months ago, my boyfriend and I started meal planning to save money and eat healthier and so far, we’re achieving our goal. There are different kinds of meal planning. In one of the most popular methods, you plan and prepare every single meal for the week in one day. We chose to adapt this method slightly and only plan our meals for the week, but planning and preparing on the same day is very effective for many people. Here is some more information on the strategy, as well as a guide to help you start out. Because Sunday is our day…
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Don’t Drive into Debt

Don’t Drive into Debt

Budgeting, Debt, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
Now that tax, and tax return, season is upon us, maybe you’re thinking about purchasing a car. A tax return can make a solid down payment. Because cars are a depreciating investment, it is important to find a reliable car that fits your budget and won’t break down, causing extra bills and stress1. What do you need from a vehicle? Before you even start looking, you need to know what you’re looking for. It's easy to buy a vehicle for emotional reasons, but because it's a large expense, buying a practical car is a huge benefit to your financial well being. Do you haul trailers or equipment frequently? Are you a commuter? Do you have a family or have hopes to start one in the future? All of these questions will…
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