The Bank of Mom and Dad: When to Shut It Down

by Sara Seeger 5. February 2015

Locked Bank

No formal application, no interest, and no credit history check- sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? In most cases, this describes the Bank of Mom and Dad. Too often, parents are left in a financial dilemma by giving out zero interest loans to their children, or in some cases, just giving out free money.

As parents, you want to give your children the world and help them through all stages of life. Ultimately, there comes a time when the support you give your kids needs to shift from financial to emotional support. This begs the question, when do you shut down the “Bank of Mom and Dad?”

Communicate Clearly

Children returning home after college or continuing to live at home through college is very common. However, parents should first have a discussion with each other about the feasibility of this, and then have a chat with their child. Communication has to be clear and expectations laid out, to ensure your child is clear on how much financial support will be provided and for what time frame.

Charge Rent...Or Insist on Contributions

Charing rent is beneficial in covering the increased cost of having your child live back at home. It's also a good way to teach your child about budgeting in order to prepare them to be self-sufficient in the real world. If parents don’t need the extra cash financially, another option would be to keep all of that “rent” money in an account and hand it over once your child moves out to help them get their independent life started.

If rent isn’t practicable for your child to afford, insist on other contributions to the house, such as covering some extra groceries or utility bills. If your child is struggling to find employment, assert that they need to help with chores around the house, such as cooking meals, doing laundry, cleaning, etc.

Your Retirement Fund is Yours

People nearing retirement shouldn’t feel obliged to take from their own savings or retirement fund for their adult child. Although this may seem harsh, there comes a point where parents shouldn’t hinder their own retirement plans to help their children.

Education is Key

Instead of just providing for your child while they are home, consider teaching them some important financial lessons. Some important lessons any dependent young adult needs to learn are how to save, how to set a budget, how to build or rebuild their credit score, how to avoid debt, and why it is important to plan early for retirement.

Most importantly, remember there is no “one size fits all” solution. Every family has their own financial and emotional circumstances that come first. The main point for parents is to do what you can to help your child become financially independent, without harming your ability to retire.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

How to Build Good Credit: 5 Steps for College Grads

What Should You Do with Your Graduation Money?

Down Payment Saving Tips for the Newbie Home Buyer

What You Need to Know before Buying Your First Car

by Sara Seeger 9. December 2014

Car Keys

You are finally prepared to trade in that hand-me-down car your parents gave you (that has seen much better days) and grab your own four-wheeled automobile. But where do you start? It doesn’t matter who you are, your first-time car buying experience can be filled with uncertainty and misunderstanding. To help unclutter some confusion, we have come up with six steps on what to do when buying your first car.

The following steps will help you determine how much “car” you can afford, research to find the car that meets your criteria, secure financing, and ultimately purchase your first car, while hopefully saving you some “moolah” in between.

1. Figure out what you can afford.

The first thing to do, even before car searching, is to establish a realistic budget. Take into account warranties, maintenance, and even gas. You may think that the new Audi A3 is trendy and perfect, but the premium gas it requires may hurt your wallet.

2. Establish your needs.

Think about it, do you really need that convertible? If you have a family (or foresee a family in the near future) you may need a car with more room. Do you just need a car to get you from point A to point B? Do you need a car that drives better in inclement weather? These are all factors you should consider.

3. Identify your wants...and then prioritize them.

Your first car will most likely not be your only car in your lifetime. It is not the be-all and end-all. You may not need all of the bells and whistles in a car, especially when working within a strict budget. If you can’t afford it, forego it. However, you don’t want buyers’ remorse after entering into a 4-5 year auto loan. So if you need those heated seats and sunroof, see how much more per month it will cost and perhaps sacrifice a few happy hours or dinners out with friends.

4. Do your research.

There are plenty of websites where you can start your car search. This way you can research any car in the comfort and convenience of your own home instead of visiting dealerships. Also take a look at the current inventory in dealerships. Some common web buying websites are:,, and After you’ve narrowed it down to look and feel, price, and size, you can schedule a test drive at a dealership.

5. Determine the proper purchase price.

It is important to make sure you are knowledgeable about how much a car should cost before you walk into the dealership. Do your due diligence, research prices, and see what dealer fees can be waived. Remember, knowledge is power and never be afraid to negotiate. Not into negotiating? Check into the True Car price of the car you want. True Car is a tool that allows a buyer to find information about what the car they want is actually worth. Select dealerships offer True Car, no-haggle pricing for similar cars they have in their inventory. Also be sure to ask about any discounts a dealership may have for military, new grad, etc.

6. Secure financing.

The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a car that you’re not sure you can secure affordable financing for. Although dealerships offer financing options, you may want to shop around at banks for interest rates/programs to get a better idea of what your personal financial situation and credit report allows you to afford. First-time car buyers often have a limited credit history and may require a co-signer in order to avoid a high interest rate.

The above above advice could seem daunting to a first time car buyer, but thanks to lower automobile interest rates and online research tools, purchasing a car has never been easier. There is a wide variety of options at different price points to accommodate the majority of people’s needs. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

The Ultimate Question: Buy or Lease?

Is It Good Debt or Bad Debt?

Establishing Credit for Beginners

Winter is Coming: How to Winter-Proof Your Home

by Sara Seeger 4. December 2014


Many winter-related disasters can be prevented if you take a few simple steps to prepare and protect your home from winter’s less than favorable conditions: freezing temperatures, snow, and wind. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute more than 10% of all catastrophic losses are a result of winter storms. Although the weather has really gotten cold recently, the weather is overall still mild, and perfect for winter-proofing your home.

For the Outside

  • The Gutters - Remove sticks, leaves, and any other debris that could clog your gutters, so that melting snow and ice can drain properly. If water can’t drain freely ice damming can occur, which is where water is unable to drain through the gutters and seeps into the house instead.
  • The Trees - If you have trees on your property, especially near your house, be sure to trim any fragile, low hanging, or dead branches. As ice and snow build up on weak tree branches, they become heavy and can break, which could result in damage to your home or car, as well as injuring someone walking on the property.
  • The Steps - It’s difficult (and dangerous) enough to walk on broken steps or without a handrail. If you add in ice and snow, the result could be catastrophic. Repairing steps and handrails to your front or back porch may prevent someone from falling and being injured.
  • The Foundation - Before it gets too cold, seal any cracks in your home’s outsides walls and foundation. Use caulking to protect outdoor water pipes and if you have a skylight or any roof openings, be sure they have proper weather stripping to prevent melting snow or ice to seep in your house.

For the Inside

  • The House - I know you won’t want to see the heating bill, but turn (and keep) your heat on. It is recommended that you set the thermostat for at least 65 degrees. This will prevent the pipes in your walls from freezing.
  • The Heating System - Have your heating system serviced. It is recommended that furnaces, boilers, and chimneys be serviced once a year to help prevent fire and smoke damage.
  • The Pipes - Check for cracks or leaks in your pipes and if anything is wrong, have it repaired immediately. It’s important to wrap any exposed pipes with heating tape. While you’re checking your pipes for cracks, learn how to shut off the main water valve (if you don’t already). Time is of the essence when your pipes freeze.
  • The Alarms - Residential fires increase in the winter, so make sure that smoke alarms, fire alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

By protecting your home from the harsh conditions of winter, you are helping to prevent damage that could happen due to ice, hail, or snow and may also be extending the life of your home by completing annual repairs and checks.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

10 Affordable Ways to Survive the Polar Vortex

Spring Forward with These 5 Energy Saving Tips

The Best Things to Buy in the Winter

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