Category: Personal Finance

How to Find a Tasty Seafood Restaurant on a Budget

seafood restaurantFamilies trying to save money often reserve going out to eat for special occasions. Elegant steakhouses and fresh seafood restaurants are often ruled out for fear that they will be too expensive.

The good news is that following a few simple tips makes it easy to find a tasty seafood restaurant that won’t blow up the family budget.

Are you ready to enjoy your next night out? Read on to learn more.

Do Your Research

Ask friends and family for recommendations and check out online reviews on sites like Yelp. Visit the restaurant’s website and Facebook page to get a feel for the atmosphere. Review the menu online before leaving will help ensure that the options fit within the set budget and the food choices are acceptable.

Choose Local Favorites

Avoid over-priced tourist traps by dining at restaurants off the beaten path. Find out where the locals go and you’re likely to find the best deals in town. If your city has a local fish market that also serves food, this is often the best bet for a fresh and affordable meal.

Look for Coupons and Deals

Visit sites like Groupon and Living Social to look for discounts and deals. Peruse the daily newspaper for printed coupons, and keep an eye out for complimentary coupon books. To entice new visitors, popular restaurants often publish coupons in local tourism guides.

Stretch Your Dining Budget

Even a high-end seafood restaurant can be budget-friendly for patrons who make smart menu choices. Restaurant portions are typically much larger than a single serving, so plan to take half of the meal home. Here are a few more tips to help stretch your dining budget:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Share an appetizer
  • Consider splitting your meal
  • Stick to one alcoholic beverage
  • Skip dessert, or wait until you get home

Turn Your Home into a Seafood Restaurant

When you factor in extra costs like gas money, gratuity, and babysitting fees, dining out is still too expensive for some families. The good news is that with just a little bit of effort, it’s easy to create a delicious seafood restaurant experience right in the comfort of your own home. This is typically a far less expensive option and comes with the advantage of knowing exactly how the meal was prepared.

The good news is that with just a little bit of effort, it’s easy to create a delicious seafood restaurant experience right in the comfort of your own home. This is typically a far less expensive option and comes with the advantage of knowing exactly how the meal was prepared.

Home delivery services like Crab Dynasty, ship fresh quality seafood right to your door. There are a variety of seafood options offered including softshell Maryland crab, lobster, shellfish, and a variety of fresh fish fillets. Pair your main entree with your favorite local foods and a nice bottle of wine for an exquisite dining experience that doesn’t break the bank.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re planning a date night away from the kids, a girl’s night out, or a family outing, it’s important to let yourself relax and have some fun once in a while. Choosing the right restaurant can mean the difference between an excellent experience and a veritable disaster. Following the steps above will help ensure a delicious, guilt-free dining experience.

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The 5 Best Loans for Single Moms With Bad Credit

loans for single momsAs a single parent, you know how challenging it is to manage your family’s finances.

Despite your best efforts to save, you may find yourself in a situation when you need money right now. If you need cash and your credit is poor, your situation is even more complicated.

But don’t despair. Just because you have bad credit doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for financial help.

Read on to learn about five loans for single moms who have bad credit

1. Small Personal Loan

Depending on the amount of money you need to borrow, a small personal loan could be the perfect solution.

Most personal loans are for amounts between $1,000 and $10,000. Because the beginning principal is so low, your monthly payments will also be low. Logically, the more you borrow, the higher your payments will be.

Worried about your poor credit rating? Requesting the smallest sum necessary will improve your chances of approval.

2. Installment Loan

Another common type of loans for single moms is an installment loan. These loans also feature low monthly payments, which are ideal for single parents on a tight budget.

The longer your borrowing term, the lower your monthly payments. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll pay more interest over time this way.

In general, bad credit loans monthly payments are affordable for most single-parent families.

3. Payday Cash Advance Loans

If you have a steady paycheck and you need cash quickly, you could consider a payday cash advance loan.

Rather than long-term monthly payments, payday cash loans always come in small, manageable amounts. Most lenders limit the amount you can borrow to less than $1,000.

You secure the principal amount with your next paycheck, and you repay the loan in a single installment. This can be a great way to get cash in an emergency, but keep in mind these loans usually come with high interest rates.

4. Self-Sufficiency Grants

Are you living “paycheck to paycheck?” If you’re working as long and hard as possible but you still can’t make ends meet, you may qualify for a self-sufficiency grant.

Because these are grants and not loans, the recipient does not have to repay the money they receive. For low-income families living just above the poverty line, this could be a viable way to get needed help.

If you’re struggling to pay for essentials like utility bills, you might also consider federal or state assistance options.

5. Veterans Administration (VA) Loan

Would you like to stop renting and buy your own home? Did you or someone in your family serve in the military?

If so, you may be eligible for a VA loan. This loan is available to veterans and their families and features no down payments and no mortgage insurance.

Best of all, financing is 100% backed by the government.

Final Thoughts on Loans for Single Moms

There are few things in life as stressful as financial problems. For single parents with poor credit, the struggle is even greater.

Your situation isn’t hopeless. There are plenty of loans for single moms available to help you and your family.

Be sure to check out my latest frugal living tips for more advice on thrifty living.

Taking the Hassle Out of Home Loans for Single Mothers

mother daughterIf you’re a single mom, buying a home can be tough. If there aren’t two people contributing to the household economy, saving up enough money for a down-payment can seem like a Herculean task.

Fortunately, there are a lot of organizations out there willing to approve home loans for single mothers. Unfortunately, looking for these organizations and trying to take stock of your options can be a hassle.

This guide will help you find the help you need to get a home loan as a single mom.

Organizations That Help Provide Home Loans For Single Mothers

It’s important to note that not every bit of assistance you’ll get is a loan. Because a lot of loans are need-based, you should evaluate your specific situation to see exactly how much you can get out of a loan. Every penny helps, so finding ways to get extra money will also be important.

Here are a few organizations that can help in a variety of ways.

 The Nehemiah Foundation

The Nehemiah Foundation is an organization offering grants to help single parents make a down payment on a home. While this grant can be helpful, it’s also highly in demand. Therefore, it’s recommended that you apply right away and are realistic with yourself about your own financial situation.

For more information about the Nehemiah Foundation’s generous grants, check out their website.

Habitat For Humanity

While it isn’t a loan, Habitat for Humanity will provide a house for you to live in. The only catch is that you have to build it yourself.

Whether they’re building international or Florida homes, Habitat for Humanity considers applicants on a case-by-case basis. The other thing to consider is your own willingness to work on the construction of the home. It’s a huge time commitment between jobs and sources of income like blogging.

VA Loans

Women make up 15.3% of armed services personnel. If you’ve served, you should look into getting a VA loan. They can be some of the best home loans for single mothers.

For more information on VA home loans and whether or not you’re eligible, click here.

FHA Loans

FHA loans are there to help you reduce down payment and closing costs on buying a home. They’ve been around for over 80 years and can help you get the results you need on your down payment.

Using an FHA loan, you can reduce your down payment to as low as 3.5 percent of the total price of the home. In addition, you can even apply if you have bad credit. That means these loans are entirely worth taking a look at.

More Advice

While there are plenty of options regarding home loans for single mothers, you should still consider finding ways to increase your income potential.

Whether it’s starting a blog or trying out product testing for money, even a busy single mother can work some things into her schedule with just a few extra minutes a day. For more information, check out this income-boosting advice.


5 Good Options for When You Need Money Now

need money now

We’ve all been there. Your savings are drained, you won’t get your next paycheck for a couple of weeks, and your car breaks down. Maybe your roof needs to be repaired.

If you’re in a jam and need money now, don’t abandon hope. There are several ways to get what you need, including the five options listed below.

What To Do When You Need Money Now

Look for Things to Sell

One of the first things you should do when you need money now is to start looking for things that you can sell. Take old clothes to a consignment store, or take some electronics to a pawn shop.

Depending on the amount of money you need, getting cash for things you don’t want or use anymore can be a great option.

You can also look into things like paid surveys and product testing opportunities to make some extra cash.

Get a Loan

If you need more than you’re able to get from selling old clothes and other items, you might want to consider getting a loan.

Personal loans from a bank are a good option, especially if you have a good credit score. Good credit generally means lower interest rates. You can also look into home equity loans and lines of credit for major expenses.

If your credit is not great and you’re not able to get a loan from a bank, you can also consider borrowing from a private money lender instead.

Get a Cash Advance

Most credit cards offer cash advances. If you need money now, check your cardholder agreement to see is a cash advance is an option. You can get an advance through an ATM, bank withdrawal, or checks that work like a short-term loan.

If you go this route, keep in mind that you’ll likely be charged a transaction fee. Cash advances also tend to have higher interest rates than your card’s usual rate.

Borrow from Yourself

If you’re able, borrowing from yourself is another good option as well. If you’ve invested money in a 401(k) or IRA, you can take a loan from one of these accounts. Interest rates will be lower and your credit score won’t be affected.

Keep in mind, though, that you might have to pay the loan back within a certain time frame to avoid penalties. You may also have to pay it back in its entirety if you lose your job; otherwise, the loan will be considered an early withdrawal.

Look into Peer-to-Peer Lending

Peer-to-peer lending sites allow you to get a personal loan from a stranger who is interested in lending as a source of investment. Just like other types of loans, interest rates for this kind of loan are often based on your credit score.

Before you get a peer loan, you might need to provide pay stubs to prove your income. You’ll also be expected to stick to a payment schedule to avoid late fees.

Find More Options

If you need more advice on ways to get cash quickly, whether it’s for an emergency or to start building up your emergency fund again, check out the rest of our blog!

If you know of any other ways to bring in some quick cash, leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

5 Tips for Handling Your Travel Finances Next Vacation

travel financesIf you’re dreaming of the perfect trip, getting your travel finances in order well before you leave home is the best way to make it a great experience.

The Census Bureau states that tourist spending within America has been growing steadily since the start of this decade. However, you can keep your costs low by planning ahead and cutting your travel costs in advance.

Get a grip on your travel finances right now with these 5 simple tips.

1. Save Ahead of Time

It sounds so simple, but many of us don’t really think about the cash we’re going to take on vacation with us until we leave.

Putting aside a little each month over 12 months is a lot easier than trying to find the money all at once when the time comes.

Say you put $50 of your paycheck into a special account for your vacation. That’s $600 marked for vacation use, which sounds like a very good start to a trip!

You can also save yourself a bit more cash with these savvy tips. Then, you can put the difference aside for your vacation.

2. Buy Ahead of Time

You can also help to spread out your spending by buying activities and experiences ahead of time through sites like Groupon.

This type of site sells prepaid vouchers for things to do during your trip. Usually, these offers are sold at a big discount.

Just don’t forget to bring the vouchers with you when you leave for vacation!

3. Consider a Credit Card for Travel Finances

A credit card processed by a travelers epay system can help you to spread the cost of your vacation as you go. That way, you can deal with the debt later.

However, this isn’t meant to encourage you to spend what you don’t have.

The best way to manage this aspect of your travel finance is to take out a trip-friendly 0%-on-purchases card that you can spend on and pay off later. Ideally, you can pay it off during the 0% period.

Just remember to pick a card which offers a good exchange rate if you’re leaving the states.

4. Look at Airbnb

We all need little luxuries from time to time, but Airbnb is often so much cheaper than hotels.

You can spend the difference on treats for your vacation. That way, you’re not forking out hundreds of extra dollars for a hotel room.

Also take a look at, FlipKey and HomeAway when looking for hotel alternatives.

5. Discount Vacation Websites

There are sites out there like VacationsToGo which scout for ‘clearance’ vacations and sell them to the rest of us.

You can enjoy 50% or more off the cost of a trip using these sites. They’re great if you’re traveling on a budget.

And they’re also great for anyone who’d rather spend the money they save on more exciting things than a hotel room!

Enjoy Your Trip

Wherever you’re going, use these tips to make it a fabulous (and affordable) experience.

If you’re looking to earn some extra cash on the side before you go, check out these ways to earn money for your vacation.

5 Surprising Benefits of a Living Trust

benefits of a living trustDo you want to make sure your loved ones are taken care of when you’re no longer around? If so, you might want to consider setting up a living trust.

It’s not a fun subject, but it’s important to decide now how you want to handle your estate. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of a living trust.

What Is A Living Trust?

A living trust is a legal document that clearly outlines what you want to do with your assets after you die. It’s similar to a will, but it comes with a number of benefits that make it more appealing.

Top 5 Benefits of a Living Trust

Avoid Probate

The biggest difference between a living trust and a will is that a will only becomes effective after it’s been entered into probate after you die. Probate is the court-supervised process of distributing the deceased person’s estate.

Probate is often time-consuming and expensive, but a living trust allows you to avoid this process. Instead, a successor trustee — whom you appoint — distributes assets without court intervention.

Save Money

There are a lot of fees associated with probate, including attorneys’ fees, court fees, and executor fees.

In some states, attorneys and courts can take up to 5 percent of an estate. Depending on the size of the entire estate, that could easily add up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Protect Your Privacy

A living trust is a private document. It does not become part of public record, as a will does during the probate process.

Because a living trust is private, no one can search public records to learn more about the distribution of your state.

Avoid Court Intervention

When you choose a successor trustee to manage your estate, he or she can step in without court intervention if you become ill or incapacitated. This way, you avoid court-appointed conservatorship of your affairs.

Gain Peace of Mind

A living trust sets up a clear plan for distributing your assets. This way, you have peace of mind knowing that all your loved ones will be cared for in the future.

A living trust also gives your beneficiaries peace of mind because they’ll know you’ve already handled your estate.

How To Settle A Living Trust

There are lots of benefits of a living trust, but, if you’ve been named a successor trustee, settling one is a lengthy process. It helps to make a living trust checklist so that you don’t miss anything.

The following should all be included on this checklist:

  • Prepare an inventory of the estate, including assets and liabilities
  • Order five to ten original death certificates from the funeral home
  • Keep records of your expenses
  • Send out a statutory notice to beneficiaries
  • File an estate tax return
  • Distribute personal property
  • Make preliminary and final distribution to beneficiaries
  • Have beneficiaries sign a receipt and waiver of further accounting

What Do You Think?

Have you ever set up or settled a living trust? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’re looking for more tips on saving money, be sure to check out our other blog posts for advice on everything from getting rid of student loan debt to setting up a safe harbor 401K.

5 Tips for Doing Your Taxes that Every Single Mom Needs

single mom taxesIf there are two things in life that are relentlessly complicated, it’s parenthood and filing a tax return.

While being a single parent will always present a unique set of challenges, filing your taxes as a single mom doesn’t need to be as hard as it seems.

Here are five tips for simplifying your taxes as a single parent.

1. File as Head of Household

Being the head of household typically provides you with a lower tax rate than you’d get filing separately. It should also allow for a higher standard deduction. Both of these together should dramatically lower the chances of needing to apply for tax loans.

How do you know if you qualify as the head of household according to the IRS? These are the requirements:

  • You’re unmarried on the last day of the tax year you’re filing in.
  • Your kids live with you at least 6 months of the year.
  • You contribute to at least 50 percent of the finances in the home.

2. Claim Dependents

If you’re a single mom, you might be able to claim your child as a dependent. Doing so will provide you with extra benefits like the dependent exemption and a tax credit.

However, not all single moms can claim children as dependents. You can claim your child as a depending if you meet the following criteria:

  • You and the father of the child are legally divorced or are separated
  • You and the child’s father have lived apart for the past six months
  • The child receives at least 50 percent of their support from you at least half of the year
  • You or your child’s father has legal custody
  • You have written a waiver or have a pre-1984 legal agreement allowing the non-custodial father to claim your child as a dependent

3. Go for Child-Related Tax Credits

If you filed in the 2016 tax year, you could have earned a Child Tax Credit of up to $1,000 per child claimed. You could also have earned the Child and Dependent Care Credit of up to $3,000.

4. Don’t Forget the Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is available for working single mothers and families whose income is below a certain threshold.

If you’re single and filing as a head of household, you can claim the ETIC if you make less than $39,617 and have one child, $45,007 and have two children, and $48,340 if you have three or more children.

The maximum credits for this year are:

  • $6,318 if you can claim three children
  • $5,616 for two children
  • $3,400 for one child

5. Post-Secondary Education Tax Benefits

If you’re a single mom of kids who are out of school but still dependent, you can avail of two tax credits: the American Opportunity Credit (AOTC) and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

The American Opportunity credit provides up to $2,500 of the cost of post-secondary education for the first four years of that education. The second credit provides a $2,000 tax credit per student for an unlimited number of years.

Saving Money and Time on Your Taxes

Being a single mother is tough. Fortunately, the IRS has provided a few ways to benefit from tax credits based on your status and income.

With these five tax tips, you’ll be able to spend less on taxes and more on something nice just for you. You deserve it!