Last night was our first summer storm of the season for our area. There were a few injuries and accidents but mainly trees and branches down, fences torn apart and patio furniture and trampolines flying around.

This is one example why it is important to have an emergency fund. This would be classified as an emergency unlike a new outfit or brand new car as some think. By putting a little money away on a regular basis, it adds up and can come in handy when needed. Even if you have insurance, you may have expenses until you get reimbursed from the insurance company and if you have a deductible your emergency fund will come in handy. When you have money saved for times like this it is less likely that you will have to put it on your credit card or borrow money from other sources. If you put it on your credit card and don’t pay it all off you will have additional expenses of interest charges.

So although times are tough for many and saving may seem impossible, look at your expenses and budget and see if there are ways that you can put money away for when emergencies come up.

Posted in Saving
Nancy Kvamme

At an event recently someone at our table made a comment about dreading the day she would need to replace her car. There were others at the table who agreed. Your car purchase is one of the larger purchases in most of our lives and something most of us need.

When looking for a car it is important to think about what kind of vehicle you need and how it will be used. For example, if you are single or have a small family is it necessary to have a huge SUV? Also, consider how much you drive. If you have a long commute to work, etc each day consider looking at a vehicle with good gas mileage.

Along with the cost of the vehicle, monthly payments if you need to borrow other costs to think about are registration costs, maintenance, insurance costs and gas expenses.

Even though it is usually a large expense, if you plan for it and save a certain amount each month, you may be able to pay for it or a major part of it without the added cost of interest expenses. If you do borrow, once you pay it off try to continue driving it for awhile before buying something newer. Once you have paid it off, put the amount you had been spending on monthly payments in a savings account to put towards a different vehicle when you need one.

Another thing to watch out for is buying a different vehicle when you still have a loan on the one you are presently driving. Car dealerships are more than happy to roll your current loan into your new one, but for you it isn’t such a good deal.

Practical Money Skills has a variety of calculators on different topics. One area is autos, one shows you how much you can afford to spend on a vehicle and how long it will take you to pay off your loan. Other areas covered are mortgage costs, credit card debt, household and family expenses.

Nancy Kvamme

A recent survey commissioned by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) in cooperation with shows that 59 percent of parents are providing or have in the past provided financial support to their adult children when they are no longer in school.

Results of the survey explore how the current economic and job conditions are presenting a bigger challenge than expected for those who should be leaving the nest. Sixty-five percent of adult children, between ages 18-39 who are not in school believe the financial pressures faced by their generation are tougher than those experienced by previous generations.

If parents are going to financially support their adult children, they should have a serious talk about their kids’ expectations so that everyone protects their financial futures. Sometimes, when the parents are trying to help their children out, they may be jeopardizing their own futures or not be able to do things they had plans to do.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of NEFE from May 10-12, 2011, among 683 adults ages 18-39 who are not students, and 391 parents of children ages 18-39 who are not students.

Nancy Kvamme

I would like to thank YWCA Cass Clay and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans for hosting the Empowering your Financial Future event tonight. Many times when we think of the YWCA we think of the work they do with the women’s shelter. But part of their mission statement is Empowering Women and that means all women.

It was a great presentation with information for women to think about their finances and resources if they have questions. Surveys show that today in many families the women write the checks and pay the bills, but may not know about the families financial situations. They pay the bills, but rely on their husbands to take care of the finances.

It is important for women to be financially savvy. The number one reason for impoverishment of women is loss of their husband’s benefits because of death or divorce.

Nancy Kvamme

We have heard many times to live within or below your means. If your financial situation has changed also need to change your spending habits. Sometimes, people lose their jobs or part of their income but do not change their spending. It may seem harmless to charge some things, but it can get out of hand quickly. If you are having to charge groceries and other usual expenses with your credit cards, it may be time to take a look at your budget and see where changes can be made.

The same is when you get an increase in salary or a bonus, it is easy to increase your spending.

So if you see someone with an expensive house, car, clothes and other toys, you may think they are doing great, but in some cases they are mortgaged to the hilt and are working hard to keep their neck above water.

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Nancy Kvamme

Some stores advertise a sale such as 5/$5 or 5/$10. That means 5 of one item for $5 or $10. You may want to check with your store. Many times, you can get the same discount by only buying 1 or 2 of the item. So you can get the same discount without having to buy so many that you may not need.

I have posted before about looking at thrift stores for books. Another place to check out may be your public library. In Fargo, the downtown library has a book sale of donated books or extra books from the library. It is only open certain hours since it is run by volunteers. They do not have regular hours. The Carlson Library has book shelves by the express checkouts with books that are for sale. Today I stopped to drop off a couple of movies I had checked out and pick up another one. While there I looked at the “book sale” shelves and found two CD sets for $2 each. One was Warren Buffet’s “Snowball” audio book which is a 8 CD set with a retail price of $40. The other was Wayne Dyer’s “The Power of Intention” with a retail value of $24. So I ended up getting almost $70 of audio books for $4.

So you never know where you will find a deal.

Nancy Kvamme

With the prices of things going up, we are looking for ways to control costs and make our money go further. One way to do this is to take a look at how you shop. At most grocery stores, you can get almost anything already prepared or partially prepared, for a price.

Sometimes you are in a hurry or away from home so it is necessary to pay the extra costs. But many times with a few extra minutes you can save the expense by doing it yourself. The other day in one of our local grocery ads, next to each other was Minute Rice in single serve portions and a box of Minute Rice. They were the same price but you got over twice as much with the box.

Another example is fruits and vegetables. Yes, it is handy to have it already chopped and ready to use. But with a few minutes of preparation you can save yourself money by doing it yourself. For items you plan on using in multiple meals throughout the week, you may be able to chop it once and use throughout the week (like peppers, onions, etc). Rachel Ray suggests washing and storing your produce when you come home from the grocery store. Then it is ready and easier to use when you need it.

When I find some fruits and vegetable on sale, I buy more than I normally would and chop and freeze on cookie sheets until hard and then store in freezer bags. Some examples are peppers and onions. I buy strawberries and other berries and do the same thing. Lately, our stores have been having whole pineapple on sale. I chop and freeze that also. When I have fruit in the freezer like this, it is easy to mix in blender or my Magic Bullet with milk or juice and make smoothies. When the fruit is frozen you don’t need ice or yogurt.

So with a few extra minutes and a little effort, you may be able to save money on your grocery bill.

Nancy Kvamme

Many high schools are teaching personal finance in schools. Even if you are teaching your kids about finances it may make a difference with the information coming from a different person. I am offering a class called “Got the Diploma, Now What?” for high school graduates, college students or even high school students who want to learn about budgeting and other personal finance topics.

The class will cover the following topics:

Establishing Goals
Credit Cards/Debit Cards
Student Loan Debt
Impulse spending
Contracts, (rental agreements, car loans)
Easy meals to cook besides having to live on ramen noodles and fast food.
Laundry tips
And more

The classes will be Tues, June 7, 7:00-8:00 pm or Sat, June 18 from 1:00-2:00 pm at 1100 32nd Ave S, Moorhead. The fee for the class is $10 which includes a workbook. Contact Nancy at or (701) 293-8808 to register or for more information.

Nancy Kvamme

Fargo residents can pickup free compost and wood chips every Wednesday and Thursday through June 2 from 3:30-5:00.

There is a one yard maximum of each and proof of residency is required.

Residents with bags or can must load their own compost. City crews will help load pick-ups and trailers during the times above. The compost and wood chips are located west of the Hazardous Waste building at 603 43 ½ St North. The pile of compost that can be accessed to fill bags or cans is located next to the scale house at the landfill at 4501 7th Avenue North.

You can call 701-241-1449 for more information.

Nancy Kvamme

Keep Saving

I know with the current uncertain economic conditions for many it is getting difficult for many to save money. But it is important to look at how you spend you money and see if any more money can be found in your budget.

With predictions of the end of the world, some people have quit saving since they think the end is coming. And also, when young people die, some say maybe we should all live like there’s no tomorrow since we never know when the end will come. It is important to live an enjoyable life, but I feel it is also important to be able to put some away for the future.

I understand it is difficult when you are younger to put money away that you will not be able to use for 20-30 or more years. But the more you put away when you are younger the less you will need to save. The more time the money has to grow the larger it will become. Even if you older and have not saved much, it is still important to save. I hear some say it won’t make any difference. But even saving some is better than not saving anything.

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Nancy Kvamme