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08/30/17 Personal Finance , Work #

The Biggest Thing Holding Electric Vehicle Sales Back

The Biggest Thing Holding Electric Vehicle Sales Back

I bought a used electric vehicle (EV) three years ago. My Nissan Leaf has been a great car, and one of my top concerns when I first got it — range anxiety — hasn’t turned out to be so much of a problem.

Instead of worrying if I’ll have enough juice to get home, I’ve found that two other concerns have been more troublesome. One I don’t have much control over unless I buy a new car, and the other is a frustration that electric vehicle companies should deal with if they want to see more people buy their cars.

The first issue, which some car companies such as Ford and Tesla are dealing with well, is creating a better battery for electric vehicles that gets longer range. When I bought my 2011 Leaf in 2014, it had a range of about 80 miles on a full charge. That’s now down to 60 miles, according to the car charger, though in reality it’s closer to 40 miles.

EV batteries lose charging abilities just as phones and other electronics do. They can only be charged so many times, and eventually they’ll die.

Forty to 60 miles per charge is fine for me because I use my car for local-only trips: Picking up my daughter at school, going to the grocery store, and other errands. For trips outside of our immediate area, we use my wife’s internal combustion engine car.

But someday the Leaf’s battery will get so low that I’ll either have to charge it at least once a day, or buy a new battery or car. A new battery costs about $8,000. For now, I charge the car about twice a week.

The bigger issue

Losing range and being unsure if your electric vehicle will have enough power to get you to a charging station or home to charge are big enough problems that can stop potential EV buyers.

The bigger problem is a lack of charging stations. And I don’t mean charging stations along roads — though those are welcomed — but charging stations at everyday places people drive to: Continue reading

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08/21/17 Children , Work # ,

7 Easy Ways for Teens to Make Money

7 Easy Ways for Teens to Make Money

Editor’s note: This post on how to make money as a teen is written by the daughter of the owner of CashSmarter.com.

By Emma Crowe

Growing up, children depend on their parents to feed their bellies, clothe their bodies and give them a roof to sleep under. Although teens require that as well, parents are less likely to provide them with candy, Starbucks drinks, money for the mall, CDs, electronic devices and other unnecessary items.

Parents push their kids to earn their own money to spend on those kind of things. For young teens finding out how you can make money without getting a real job (like working at at fast food restaurants) is difficult. Some want to earn their own money, yet are too young to get real jobs. I’m 13, and am trying to earn my own money.

Here are my top ways for teens to earn their own money:

Make Money by Babysitting

For some teenagers, babysitting is a walk in the park. Playing with kids all day, what could be better? For others, however, it’s annoying and irritating to deal with children’s every demand.

Some requirements for a good babysitter are:

  • CPR certified
  • Likes kids
  • Can cook meals for them
  • Energetic
  • Can handle temper tantrums

Most teen babysitters earn about $7 to $12 per hour, depending on the number of kids.

Advertise your babysitting services using flyers around your neighborhood.

About me: When I babysit, I usually do it when their mother is around, because I am not old enough to babysit them by myself yet.

Mother’s helper

If your child is not quite the age to be babysitting on their own, a mother’s helper is a great alternative. It teaches her or him how to care for a child while also having mom or dad around if anything goes wrong.

Same criteria as a babysitter.

Teens will earn about $3 to $6 an hour.

About me: When I do this, I don’t get paid because I like to do it for free. Continue reading

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08/11/17 Personal Finance , Travel # ,

Avoiding ATM Headaches in Europe When You Need Cash

Avoiding ATM Headaches in Europe When You Need Cash

With free lodging, many things already paid for and a credit card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, our vacation to Europe in July didn’t require having much cash on hand. Still, it’s smart to always have some local currency in your pocket when traveling, and a local ATM is the best way to get it.

Or so I thought.

ATM fees added up during our trip to nearly $200, mainly because I erred in figuring out which banks in Europe had a relationship with our bank in the U.S. That’s not a ton of money lost in fees, but it’s annoying because I thought I could get away without paying much in ATM fees.

ATM fees added up

Before getting into the ways I learned to get around ATM fees — beyond just using a no-transaction fee credit card during the entire trip — it’s worth quickly explaining how they work. There are different charges by different parties when you use an ATM:

  • Your U.S. bank will charge a flat fee of $5 or so each time you use a foreign bank’s ATM. This can be avoided by using a partner bank.
  • The foreign bank will charge a percentage fee on the amount withdrawn. I was charged from 3-8% in transaction fees, though when using a bank affiliated with my U.S. bank, the fee was 3%.
  • The foreign ATM sometimes charged a $5 fee also.
  • A $5 fee was also charged when using my U.S. debit card at a grocery store.

Continue reading

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08/04/17 Personal Finance , Travel # ,

5 Things I Love About How Europe Deals With Money

5 Things I Love About How Europe Deals With Money

My family recently returned from our home exchange in the Netherlands for most of July, and even though we saved a lot of money by not having many hotel bills to pay, we still needed cash each day on our vacation.

Cash is just a lot easier to deal with, especially with small merchants, and businesses seem to appreciate using cash instead of a credit card. The good news was that our travel savings account was pretty full before we left for Europe, so paying for our food, a few hotel nights and incidentals was easy. It was easy, however, until we had to find an ATM to withdraw money.

I’ll get to that mess in another post, but first I want to go over the good things I discovered about how Europe deals with money. Here are five things I found to be smart in France, Belgium and the Netherlands in how they deal with money:

Tax and tip included in the price

This was one of my favorite things about buying anything during our vacation: The price you see is the price you pay.

If the price says €7, you pay 7 Euros. Not €7.63 or some other odd amount because tax is added later. The price includes tax. At restaurants, it includes tax and tip.

You don’t have to do any math at a restaurant table to figure out a tip because it’s included in the price of everything in the menu.

The effect may be more psychological than anything, but it made reading a menu or seeing the price for anything — such as a €75 two-hour boat rental on a Dutch canal — easier to accept than seeing €60 and then adding €15 in taxes. At €60, I’d have my mind set on that price and would be unpleasantly surprised when it was upped to €75 after taxes.

No digging for pennies

There were a few exceptions to the above rule, and I never did figure out why. A few times I bought a bottle of water at a convenience store and the €1 price would become €1.09 at the cash register. I’d have to dig for pennies in my pocket when this happened.

But this rarely happened because most businesses didn’t add taxes at the cash register. Almost everything I bought didn’t require change because it was priced at the nearest Euro. Instead of €2.20 for a soda — orange Fanta was popular — it was €2 even. Continue reading

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05/04/17 Sharing Economy , Travel # , ,

How We’re Saving $4,000 on Summer Vacation With a Home Swap

How We’re Saving $4,000 on Summer Vacation With a Home Swap

The three main costs of a vacation — transportation, lodging and food — can be so high that affording a getaway can be difficult. Eliminating one of those costs with a home swap, however, can make it affordable — especially during the high season of summer vacation when more people take time off.

There are free ways to fly (credit card rewards points for free flights) and you can find cheap food anywhere. But you still have to come up with some cash to eat and to earn the rewards points.

Lodging can be trickier. There are cheap options such as renting a room in someone’s house or staying for free at a relative’s or friend’s home. But wouldn’t it be better to have a home to yourself for a relaxing vacation?

A home swap can do that for free.

A month in Europe

This summer my family is going to Europe for free for almost an entire month. We’re visiting Paris and Brussels for a week and staying in hotels — at a discount with a travel package through an airline — and then staying in a home in the Netherlands for almost three weeks for free by exchanging our home in the Bay Area with a Dutch family.

We made the swap through HomeExchange.com, a service that has more than 65,000 homes in 150 countries. You just search for homes in areas you want to visit, then email the homeowners to see if they want to do a swap.

At about $200 a night for a hotel room, I’m estimating we’re saving about $4,000 by exchanging homes. Continue reading

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Welcome
Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.