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8 Things Couples Must Do Now for a Financially Secure Future

8 Things Couples Must Do Now for a Financially Secure Future

Whether you’re newlyweds, in a long-term relationship, or several years into a happy marriage, there are many steps you can take to ensure a financially secure future.

It’s wise to look at this from two points of view; first, what can be done to help the two of you remain secure throughout life, including your retirement? Secondly, determine what needs to happen right now for each of you to have financial security if one of you were to pass away at a young age.

Fortunately, this process doesn’t have to be nearly as difficult or time-consuming as most people fear. By making a few simple lifestyle changes and taking care of some critical paperwork, you can have a better future.

1. Make Wills

It’s always important to make a will in order to protect your partner. However, this is especially true if you aren’t married. After all, the state will be given the duty of dividing your estate if you die without a will, and this process always favors blood relatives.

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This doesn’t mean that married couples don’t need to worry about a will, though. Although your spouse is most likely to get the majority of your estate from the state if no will is present, the process of dividing everything could impose costly taxes on them that can often be avoided with a legal will.

2. Get Life Insurance

Both of you should have life insurance that names your partner as the beneficiary. There are many types of life insurance available, so be sure to take some time to research your options. For example, the Ladder online life insurance calculator helps you look at many aspects of your financial needs that may otherwise be forgotten.

By factoring in your remaining mortgage amount and other existing debts, you can get a clearer picture of how much coverage will be necessary for your partner to survive financially when you pass away. Doing this for each other is one of the best ways to show love because it ensures you’re each safeguarded and won’t need to sell your house in order to survive.

3. Determine Your Priorities

Most people could easily blow through millions of dollars if given the opportunity, but since this isn’t likely to happen, the two of you need to determine what your top priorities are. For some couples, this means living in a cheap apartment so that they can travel and build a retirement account. For others, a nice house is more important. By deciding what your top priorities are, you can adjust the rest of your life to continue saving money, while simultaneously improving your quality of life.

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4. Take Care of Your Health

A study by the American Heart Association indicated that exercising 30 minutes a day, five times a week, can reduce your annual healthcare expenses by $2,500. If you add in a healthier diet filled with vegetables and fruit, you’ll be in a good position to save even more money!

Commit to exercising and eating right to bulk up your retirement savings account, boost your life expectancy, and make it easier to enjoy your twilight years. After all, no one wants to spend the latter portion of their life feeling physically debilitated by medical issues that could have been avoided with a proactive approach.

5. Simplify Your Lifestyle

Take a look around your home. Is it filled with objects you don’t need and never use? Do you have a cable plan that includes hundreds of channels you’ve never watched? Is it common for you to buy new clothes before your current ones get anywhere near worn out? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you can save money by simplifying your lifestyle.

Reduce your cable plan or cut the cord entirely to save money. Start buying items only if they have a truly useful and practical purpose. Stop spending so much on clothing, especially if most of it hangs in your closet untouched for months at a time. Instead, put the money you would have spent on these things into your retirement account. You’ll thank yourself when you get older.

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6. Set Up an Auto Transfer

For many people, the process of taking money out of their paycheck and moving it into a savings account is where everything breaks down. People forget, or they end up spending the money on something frivolous.

Stop this breakdown in its tracks by setting up an automatic transfer. This will take the money out of your checking account and move it into your savings account for you. Experts recommend putting 10 to 15 percent of your net income into your retirement account. Overall, saving 20 percent is best because this allows you to also build a nest egg for emergencies.

7. Chip Away at Your Debt

Whether it’s a mortgage, credit cards, or old debt that’s hanging around your neck like an albatross, you must clear away this financial responsibility to boost your ability to save for retirement. It’s common for people to pay the minimum due on their debts, but this will drag your payments out for an extremely long period of time. Instead, even if you can only afford an extra $5 to $10 per month, be sure to always pay more than the minimum due.

It’s also wise to pick the debt with the highest interest and work on paying that one down as quickly as possible. Once you zero out a balance, start paying extra toward the next debt in line. According to Bank of America, paying just $10 more per month on a credit card balance of $1,500 with an APR of 18 percent will save you $1,202.41 in interest fees. The card will also be paid off in less than 4 years, instead of it taking an astounding 13 years.

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8. Make Wise Financial Decisions

One of the things that makes it heartbreakingly easy for people to lose everything is the tendency many of us have to overextend ourselves financially.

A great example can be found with people who agree to a mortgage that leaves them with no wiggle room for emergencies. In other words, if you and your spouse make a combined $7,000 a month, but your mortgage, bills, and other necessary expenses cost $7,000, you are setting yourself up for disaster.

Always make sure that you set up your expenses with a cushion of at least 20 percent. This makes it possible to build a savings account, and it also makes it less catastrophic if someone gets sick or loses their job.

It may seem daunting to make lifestyle changes and take on vital steps such as writing your wills, but this is the best way to have a happy, financially secure future. Don’t forget that exercising and eating healthy are also critical for future financial and physical health. As an added bonus, there are many proven ways to save money while eating healthier.

Begin implementing these changes right now to reduce your future risks.

Featured photo credit: Kan Wu via flic.kr

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Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

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Last Updated on July 4, 2019

25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless.

Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent free online education awaits on the following 25 sites.

1. Coursera

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    Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

    Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education, and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

    Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups.

    2. Khan Academy

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      Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

      Among the more well known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly useable, which may make it easier to keep learning goals.

      3. Open Culture Online Courses

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        If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.

        Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales and many state universities around the United States. A very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

        4. Udemy 

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          Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

          Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top quality content. This is another site however, that mixes free and paid content.

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          5. Academic Earth

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            Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources, and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

            Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

            6. edX

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              Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics.

              7. Alison

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                Unlike the previous sites on this lists, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

                It’s a great option if users need certification for their learning as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

                8. iTunesU Free Courses

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                  A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod, or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

                  Desktop users can access  iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

                  Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos, and paid content.

                  ITunesU does include courses on a pretty wide scope of topics, but does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

                  9. Stanford Online

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                    Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

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                    Stanford Online is a great site for high quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school.

                    10. Harvard Extension

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                      Like Stanford Online, Harvard Extension features free online education courses from Harvard only. This is another excellent source for top notch course material, though the course variety is less rich than multi-school sites.

                      Additionally, Harvard Extension allows you to search for courses by professional certificate. This makes it much easier if your online education goal includes certification.

                      11. Open Yale Courses

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                        Open Yale Courses echoes Harvard Extension and Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses, but learn better by watching than by reading.

                        12. UC Berkeley Class Central

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                          Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

                          13. MIT OpenCourseWare

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                            Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, plus includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

                            14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

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                              Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list, however, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics. But for the topics that are covered impressive, in-depth material is available.

                              15. Codecademy

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                                Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

                                The courses at Codecademy are well written and easy to follow and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

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                                16. Code

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                                  Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

                                  In addition to kid friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics and Javascript.

                                  Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

                                  17. University of London Podcasts

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                                    The podcast page on the University of London website is another great source for free education. While the courses are limited to podcasts, the site features podcasts from it’s own campus, as well as eleven universities in and around London. This gives learners a wide base of topics and lectures, but still ensures in-depth material.

                                    18. University of Oxford Podcasts

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                                      Similar to the University of London, the University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

                                      The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. Another good site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

                                      19. BBC Podcasts

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                                        For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly, and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

                                        Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

                                        20. TED-Ed

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                                          Another great destination for more general learning is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all encompassing, motivational web series, comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

                                          Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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                                          21. LessonPaths

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                                            LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

                                            22. Memrise

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                                              Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

                                              Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

                                              23. National Geographic Kids

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                                                The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keeps kids interested on this site.

                                                National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

                                                24. Fun Brain

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                                                  Fun Brain is another good option for kids who want to learn online, but focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

                                                  Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

                                                  25. Whyville

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                                                    Similar to the sites for kids free online education is Whyville a destination for preteen online learning. The site includes a variety of social features, with a focus on learning materials geared for young teens.

                                                    Whyville also mixes in educational games, to make the site a well rounded option for kids too old for simple games, but too young for heavy reading based material.

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                                                    Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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