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Avoid These Mistakes With Your Wedding Gift Money

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Congratulations! You’ve followed our advice and saved a ton of money on your wedding. Plus, you probably got a bunch of awesome wedding gifts. Personalized wedding gifts are great… maybe you got one or more of these things:

Coasters, wine glasses, champagne flutes, wedding party gifts, a toaster, monogrammed sheets, a cheese board, gift set, knife set, (including the knife block) glass set, a juicer (ever popular these days), a serving set, or everybody’s favorite – the robot vacuum! 🤣

 

The Best Gift for Newlyweds

All those tangible gifts are nice, but do you know what most couples think the best gift is? If you guessed cash, you’re spot on!

As newlyweds, you may need the gifts listed above. However, cash is often in short supply. Wedding gift money is one of the most appreciated gifts for newly married couples, due in large part to its flexibility.

Here’s the thing the wedding presents and keepsakes won’t help with your expenses. They won’t help you save. Wedding gift money is the gift that can keep on giving.

Plus, If you followed my advice on BSB, you likely had a reasonably affordable wedding. Think of all the money you saved as a cash wedding gift to yourselves! 😉

What to Do with Wedding Gift Money

Now for the million-dollar question… what are you going to do with all that wedding gift money?

I have the answer for you… but first, we need to have an honest conversation. There are several things newlyweds do with wedding gift money that hurt them. We need to talk about the many mistakes I’ve seen newlyweds make with their wedding gift cash.

Let’s start with the bad news, and then I’ll share the right way to use your cash wedding gifts.

Sound good? Ok. Let’s get started!

Mistakes Couples Make with Their Wedding Gift Money

SPENDING IT ALL

The overwhelming temptation when newlyweds get wedding gift money is to spend it. After all, it’s free money, right? Maybe. But not so fast.

When you planned your wedding, you did it on a budget (that is if you followed my advice 😀). Don’t let the budgeting stop after you’re married. It may be even more important than in your wedding planning.

Budgets tell you where your money is going and how much you have left to save and invest. 

Yes. Saving and investing are a part of the budget. At least they should be. Mistake #1, when we get extra money, be it from wedding gift money or somewhere else, is to spend it quickly. BIG MISTAKE!

Financial planning 101 says that you should first set up an emergency fund. Guidelines for that fund vary. Best practices say to have anywhere from three to six months of your monthly expenses set aside in this fund. That money should not be at risk. Keep it in a liquid (readily available) savings account that you can immediately access. Pro tip: online banks like Capital One 360 or Ally often pay higher interest rates than local brick and mortar.

Bottom line – don’t spend that all your wedding gift money so fast!

BORROWING (MORE) MONEY

Borrowing and spending go hand in hand. Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you’ve had your eye on a shiny new car (fill in the blank for the make and model). Your wedding gift money isn’t enough to pay cash for the vehicle. However, in your clever mind, you decide you can use some of that money for a downpayment on the car. BAD IDEA!

Once again, you’re spending that money, not saving or investing. A basic rule on spending and investing is this. Invest money into appreciating assets. Autos don’t fit that rule. As soon as you drive that car off the lot, you lose from 15% to as much as 25% or more on the value of the vehicle.

If you tack on finance costs to that picture, it isn’t pretty. Find ways to get a good used car and pay cash for it. Drive it until the wheels fall off. It’s best to not waste your hard-earned money (or any of your wedding gift money) on depreciating assets.

AN EXCEPTION FOR BORROWING

Many newlyweds have their hearts set on buying their first home together after the big day. Keeping in mind rule #1 on spending and investing, be sure that the house you’re buying is in an area where the expectation is for the house to appreciate (i.e., go up in value.)

Most people (especially newlyweds) can’t afford to pay cash for a home. If you and your spouse agree you want to buy a house, do it the savvy way.

What do I mean? Like with cars, don’t look for the largest house in the most trendy neighborhood. Put at least 20% cash toward the downpayment to get the best interest rate and monthly payment. Be conservative when calculating your mortgage payment.

Be Conservative with Your Mortgage

The general rule of thumb on mortgage payments is to keep them below 36% of your net income. As newlyweds, I actually think it may be too high. To set yourself up for the best financial situation, look for a house that’s affordable and keeps your mortgage payment below 25% of your income.

Even better would be to delay buying a house for a few years. As newlyweds, take some time to get to save money and work on your finances together. The more you save and invest, the better you’ll feel about buying a house.

The worst mistake you can make as newlyweds is to buy a big house with a large mortgage payment that stretches your budget. Since stress over money is one of the leading causes of divorce, you both need to be on the same page before making big decisions.

Okay. We got the bad news out of the way… whew!

The truth is, everyone’s wants and desires for things are different, and therefore their priorities are different. That’s why it’s called personal finance, after all! One thing is for sure, looking at wedding gift money as free money to blow on stuff without thoroughly planning will hurt you in the long run.

The Right Way to Use Your Wedding Cash

Now let’s talk about the right things to do with your wedding gift money.

INVESTING WEDDING GIFT MONEY

If you’ve never invested money before, the task may seem daunting. My best advice is to start small and keep it simple. Most people who get stuck overcomplicate investing.

Remember, before you start investing, be sure you have your emergency fund in place. The amount you keep in your emergency fund is personal to you and your spouse, and you should decide on that together based on your unique situation. Generally speaking, anywhere between 3-6 months of living expenses is a great amount to have as a backup.

With your fully-funded emergency fund in place, let’s talk about options to invest your cash!

💰 Retirement Plans

No matter your age, one of the best ways to invest your money is in retirement plans. Employer-sponsored plans, IRAs, etc. all fall into that category. If you’re in a U.S company, you likely have access to a 401(k) plan. Most employers match what you contribute up to a certain amount or percentage– aka you may be able to double your investment– score!

For example, let’s say you decide to set aside 10% of your salary into the company plan. Their matching contribution might be 50% of what you contribute up to a maximum of 6% of wages. Or it might be 100% to that level or some lower percentage. Whatever that matching percentage is, your minimum contribution should be at least that matching amount. Why? It’s free money!

If they’re willing to help you with that match, you owe it to yourself to put in at least that percentage. It may seem hard to part with a portion of your paycheck, but you’re investing in your future that’s worth it.

There is a lot more to say about these plans that fall outside the scope of this post. Though it isn’t specific to wedding gift money, it’s essential as newlyweds to think about this kind of long term planning.

💰 Mutual Funds

Another popular and easy way to invest money is with mutual funds. Mutual funds are investment companies who take your money, along with other investors, and invest it on your behalf. Each fund has it’s own objectives and invests in various kinds of securities.

The most straightforward way to start with mutual funds is with index funds. Index funds are designed to track a market index. The most popular and well known of these indices is the Standard and Poors 500 index. The S&P 500 contains stocks from the largest 500 companies (roughly) in the U.S. stock market. When you invest in an S&P 500 index fund, you own all of the stock in that index in the same percentages they make up in that index.

💰 Index funds

Why invest in index funds? Non-index mutual funds underperform index funds over almost all periods (1 year, five years, ten years, etc.). The costs of these non-index funds are much higher than index funds. Higher costs (management fees and expenses) cut into the return investors earn on the fund. Keeping costs low is one of the things you can control when investing.

Index funds allow you to keep costs low and take what the market gives you. That’s much higher than investors who try to time the market or pick mutual funds that beat the market. Vanguard funds are a great place to start your index investing. They are among the lowest cost providers out there. They’ve been at index investing longer than most.

Invest your wedding gift money in index funds and hold them for the long term. Markets go up and down often over short periods (referred to as volatility). Staying invested during those short term ups and downs may seem scary, but will serve you well over the long term.

💰 Invest in Real Estate

When we talk about investing in real estate, we’re not talking about buying a home in which you live. We’re talking about real estate as an outside investment.

There are several ways to invest in real estate. Residential real estate, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and private equity funds are all good options.

Investing in residential real estate properties takes cash, and typically lots of it. The rules on buying a house also apply when purchasing rental properties. Unless you are flush with tens of thousands of dollars in cash, you may not want to jump into rental properties as newlyweds.

On the other hand, it’s easy to invest in REITs. REITs are publicly traded on most stock exchanges, U.S. and international. Like mutual funds, REITs pool investors’ money and invest it. In this case, it’s invested in various types of real estate. It might be residential housing, commercial properties like office buildings, etc. Each REIT has it’s own investment strategies.

Publically traded REITs, in most cases, will not help you build wealth, necessarily. Publicly traded REITs are required to distribute 95% of the income they receive from properties. Most investors put money in REITs for income.

💰 Private Equity REITs

My choice for investing in real estate at an approachable buy-in is private equity REITs. Specifically, I like crowdfunded real estate funds.

You’ve heard of crowdfunding, right? Think GoFundMe or Kickstarter or IndieGogo. It’s a way for people to raise money from smaller investors for a specific project or cause.

Real estate crowdfunding applies the same concept to raise money from smaller investors, allowing them access to investment properties normally only available to the 1%.

The SEC calls these people accredited investors. That means they have at least $200,000 in income ($300,000 if married filing joint tax returns) or at least $1 million in net worth (not including their residence). These requirements leave out the vast majority of investors.

That’s why crowdfunded real estate makes sense.

Choosing the right fund

My favorite choice in crowdfunded real estate is DiversyFund. DiversyFund allows people like you and me to access commercial real estate customarily set aside for the wealthy. How do they do that? Crowdfunding.

You can invest in the DiversyFund Growth REIT for as little as $500. Yep, you heard that right. You can get access to commercial real estate, where the one often builds their wealth with DiversyFund.

When I was thinking about investing in real estate, I checked out several of these companies. Fundrise is one of the most popular. Granted, I’m a wedding planner and not an expert. But the more I looked into DiversyFund, the more I liked them.

DiversyFund Investment Strategy

Their investment strategy just made sense to me. The only invest in one type of property – multifamily housing. Specifically, they look for properties that fit these three criteria:

  1. They are cash flow positive – in other words, the rents they receive are higher than the costs of maintaining the properties
  2. They must be in high growth areas – they use some fancy technology (which I really don’t understand) to find their properties. I’m not tech-savvy, but that made sense to me.
  3. Properties need some work – Don’t be alarmed at this. We’re not talking about high-risk foreclosures in bad areas. These properties might need a new roof, new HVAC, or a fresh coat of paint. They do all the work themselves. That saves a ton of money

 

To me, this is a simple strategy that made sense. I don’t have to understand how and why they pick properties. Focusing on one thing and doing it well make sense to me. After all, that’s what The Budget Savvy Bride is all about. We do weddings inexpensively and well.

DiversyFund does commercial real estate well. They aren’t trying to be all things to all people. Neither am I. That’s why I like DiversyFund over the other options I looked at. If you want to learn more about how it works and see if this is right for you, click the button below!

Final Thoughts

Listen, wedding planning might be my field, but being financially savvy about it is my specialty. I help you save money – lots of it – at your wedding.

Admittedly, investing is not something I know a ton about. But as I thought about the couples, I advise about savvy wedding planning, and it occurred to me, I was leaving a gap for newlyweds.

I don’t want to see couples who worked so hard to save money on their weddings, follow up by making avoidable mistakes with their wedding gift money. I hope you find this info helpful, and that my attempt at educating you or introducing you to this concept has been successful

My best advice? Keep it simple. Build your emergency fund before doing any investing. Start contributing to your retirement plans. Invest your excess cash in a diversified portfolio of mutual funds and real estate. Vanguard is a good option for mutual funds. DiversyFund is an excellent choice to invest in real estate.

Let me know what you think. Was this helpful? Have you thought about what to do with your wedding gift money? 

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Finance

5 Legal Documents You Need During a Pandemic

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As Americans grapple with how to stay physically and financially healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical to make sure you and your family have the right emergency documents. It’s much easier to prepare for a potential disaster than to recover from one that blind-sides you. After a tragedy occurs, it may be too late to make critical decisions.

Let’s talk about the different emergency documents and why you may need to create or update existing paperwork. If you get COVID-19 or have another unexpected illness or accident, these documents will help you manage your finances and make essential decisions with more clarity and less stress.   

5 emergency and legal documents to have during a pandemic

Instead of being caught off guard during a difficult time, consider if you should have these five legal documents.

1. Last will and testament

The purpose of a will is to communicate your final wishes after you die. Too many people don’t have one of these incredibly important documents because they mistakenly believe it’s something just for old rich people.

The fact is, every adult should have a will. If you die without one, the courts decide what happens to your possessions, not your family.

The fact is, every adult should have a will. If you die without one, the courts decide what happens to your possessions, not your family.

And once you have a will, don’t forget to update it periodically to make sure it addresses all your wishes, assets, and beneficiaries. Critical life events—such as getting married, divorced, having a child, or losing a spouse or partner—should trigger you to update your will.

If you’re starting from scratch, make an inventory of your assets—like bank accounts, investments, real estate, vehicles, expensive belongings, and sentimental possessions—and decide what you want to happen to them. You can list beneficiaries for specific items, like who gets a piece of heirloom jewelry or an artwork collection. You can also create distribution percentages, such as 50 percent of the value of your assets go to your partner and 50 percent to your only child.

In addition to dealing with your possessions, a will allows you to name a guardian for your minor children.

In addition to dealing with your possessions, a will allows you to name a guardian for your minor children. And don’t forget to leave instructions for what you want to happen to your pets, digital assets, intellectual property, and business assets. You can create a plan for your funeral, such as where you want to be buried and whether you want your organs donated.

Someone must carry out…

Keep reading on Quick and Dirty Tips



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Car Rental sends me an invoice after a settled charge dispute

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TLDR; Made non-refundable car reservation before pandemic. Cancelled vacation plans after pandemic announced. Filed a charge dispute and won. Received an invoice from the car rental company for the disputed amount one month later.

Location: USA

Before the pandemic hit, I had made a 5-day car rental reservation (prepayment, non-refundable) in early 2020 for a May 17, 2020 vacation. On April 6, I request a refund due to the coronavirus situation impacting my travel plans. They replied saying there is nothing they can do currently and told me to email again within 30 days of the pickup date. In May, the destination where I was to pick up the car required a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all visitors to the state. I could not accommodate for this unexpected additional 14 days so I cancelled my vacation plans altogether. I decided to request a refund again on April 23 due to the unforeseen circumstances as my trip would be severely impacted by the extra 14 days.

The car rental company agreed to issue a partial refund ($100) and the remainder as a one-year voucher (less than $200). I received the partial refund the next day on April 24 but not the voucher. I followed up with an email on April 27 and May 2 with no response. I assumed they were not going to follow through so I decided to dispute the charge with my credit card company for the remainder amount on May 5 (12 days before the pickup date). Later that same day, I received an email from the car rental company with the voucher. Given the situation I had my doubts that I'll even be able to use the voucher by its one-year expiration date due to the ongoing pandemic, but whatever. Anyways, I figured they sent me the voucher before they had knowledge that I filed a charge dispute, so I assumed they'd either cancel/invalidate the voucher once they found out or they'd dispute the chargeback and win. Either outcome would've been fine with me at the time.

Despite this, my credit card company awards the dispute in my favor and closes the case on June 10. With this decision, I automatically assumed that the voucher would've been cancelled/invalidated (I actually don't know whether the voucher is still valid or not). Today I received a notice from the car rental company dated June 24 stating I have an invoice due on my account in the amount of the voucher (less than $200).

So now I have a few questions:

  1. I don't mind paying the invoice but I'd rather not if I don't have to. How legal is it for them to send me an invoice after the investigation and case was already decided? Why wouldn't the car rental company just have disputed the chargeback in the first place during the open investigation from May 5 – June 10? Why send me an invoice after the fact? If they'd had disputed the chargeback, they would've won the case, no?
  2. Since I was awarded the dispute, can I just have the car rental company cancel the voucher and waive the invoice? I don't have any intentions of using the voucher by its May 2021 expiration anyway.
  3. When I originally made the reservation (prior to pandemic), I was expecting a certain product/service. Obviously now that product/service has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, I no longer feel like I can get the same product/service. Despite the car rental company's "non-refundable" policy, do I have any consumer rights/protections?
  4. Do I have any other options?

I feel like I went through the proper and necessary channels to find a resolution (but I could be wrong), so I was quite surprised when I received this invoice. Any help or clarification on the situation would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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Is it cheaper to buy eggs or raise chickens?

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Hello! Today, I have a great article to share about raising backyard chickens for eggs, and how much it will cost you to raise chickens. I have several different family members who raise chickens for eggs, so I am familiar with the topic. When Chris approached me with the guest post idea, I had to say yes because I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the money side of it. Enjoy!

Like many, I didn’t decide to start raising chickens with a spreadsheet in front of me.

I had just returned from visiting my parents’ new retirement project, a hobby farm in northern Vermont that was bustling with chickens and ducks and all sorts of wonderful, useful livestock I had never considered keeping for myself until that moment.

After all, I grew up in the suburbs, full of cats, dogs, and the snake the “weird kid” in middle school loved to talk about, and the only “livestock” were the cows that were shipped in every summer to picturesquely dot the fields behind the local ice cream place – carefully kept too far away from customers to smell.

I was thinking about delicious, farm-fresh eggs; endless access to high-quality fertilizer and pest controls; taking control of where my food came from and developing a healthier, organic diet; and of course, just the joys of animal ownership.

Waking up to the delightful chattering of chickens in the yard, getting to hang out with feathery friends on the weekend – spending time with the animals we love can be so intoxicating, you can read more about my story here.

However, starting a chicken coop is an economic venture, even for chicken owners who don’t intend to make a profit off of their eggs.

For a chicken coop to be sustainable, owners have to take into account all of their costs – from starting costs like building a coop and buying chicks, to the regular maintenance costs of feed and supplements, to the unexpected expenses like repairs and vet bills – to figure out how much they’ll need to plan to spend every year on keeping their animals happy and healthy.

Related content: How Elizabeth Reached Financial Independence by 32 And Moved To A Homestead

 

Here is a picture of my chickens.

Start-Up Costs Of Raising Chickens For Eggs

The costs and logistics of starting your first chicken coop can be daunting, and this is the point where a lot of people who had romantic ideas of homesteading with a few picturesque white chickens beside the red wheelbarrow in the garden give up.

I know I almost quit after I spent more than an hour on the town website, looking for a simple list of the steps I needed to take to keep chickens in my backyard –

  • Was there paperwork?
  • What about noise regulations?
  • Did I need a permit?

-and ended up wading through 100-page food regulations, months’ worth of senior center lunch menus, and Board of Health meeting minutes, only to finally show up to the town hall to ask in person and find out there were no paperwork requirements.

That saved cost on my part, because there were no filing fees in order to get a permit, but every locality is different. And every prospective chicken owner should do their own research on their town or district’s regulations before moving ahead with their planning.

The most obvious start-up cost in chicken keeping is, of course, the cost of the chickens themselves. This can vary, depending on what kind of chickens you get and how old they are.

On paper, the cheapest option might seem to be to buy eggs and hatch them yourself. For common breeds like the Rhode Island Red or Plymouth Rock, hatching eggs can cost less than $5 each. However, you should know that chicken eggs do not have a 100 percent hatch rate – for a shipment of eggs, the hatch rate actually averages around 50 percent.

Additionally, hatching eggs can be difficult, and comes with extra costs, most notably an incubator for the eggs, which usually run about $100, plus all the extra equipment needed to raise chicks, which can be another $100.

On the plus side, as kindergarten classes around the country learn every spring, watching eggs hatch and caring for adorable baby chicks can be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences in the chicken-keeping world.

In total, starting a flock of five hens from eggs will probably run you about $250.

On the other hand, one of the most common ways to start a flock is to bypass eggs entirely and buy live chicks.

This has several advantages over hatching eggs, including saving incubator costs and having to pay for eggs that ultimately won’t hatch.

As with eggs, chick costs vary depending on the breed, but common breeds average about $5 per chick, unless you want a purebred or particularly exotic bird, in which case each chick can cost up to $100!

However, raising chicks will also require additional costs in purchasing the equipment necessary to replace their mothers – things like a brood box to keep them warm while they grow their feathers and prevent them from running off and a specialized chick feeder, which will need to be replaced with a traditional feeder as they get older.

Most of those expenses will add up to about $100 – although the handier amongst us can try to save costs by building their own brooder box, for example.

There are also still the costs of setting them up to thrive as adults, which we’ll get to in just a minute. Just getting set up for the chicks, though, will come out to about $125.

The other option when starting a flock is to acquire adult chickens – either pullets, young adults around 4-16 weeks old, which run around $25 a bird, or rescue hens, fully grown adults who have been “spent” in the industrial poultry world, but will still produce good eggs regularly enough for backyard purposes.

For folks who really want to bond with their chickens and have them be pets as well as livestock, adults probably aren’t the way to go, as chicks that have bonded with you from the beginning will be much friendlier and more trusting than older birds. The main advantage to starting with pullets is the cost savings, since you’ll only have to outfit them once, with the same coop, feeder, and other supplies that they’ll use their whole lives.

 

How much does a chicken coop cost?

Coop costs is the big expense many prospective chicken owners worry about the most, and they’re not wrong to do so – it’s going to be your biggest expense!

And it should be, because having a sturdy, healthy place to live is crucial to your birds’ overall health and well-being.

Trying to cut costs on the coop, by going smaller than you need or buying second-hand, will almost always end up costing you more in the long run, either in medical care or replacement costs for sick birds or in finally ponying up for the more expensive coop you should have gotten in the first place.

While local regulations vary, the rule of thumb for coop size is four square feet per bird if they have an attached run or free range, and 10 square feet per bird if they don’t, which is enough space to allow them to be comfortable, exercise, and gives them enough fresh air to prevent respiratory illnesses, assuming the coop is well-ventilated.

For our hypothetical five-bird starter flock, that’s a 20 square foot coop, five feet by four, plus a run.

This is another area where you can cut costs by building your own, and there are lots of do-it-yourself chicken coop guides and blueprints available online. Just make sure the material you’re using is chicken-friendly and non-toxic, as well as being sturdy enough to last through years of chicken poop and bad weather.

For those who aren’t thrilled about their next home carpentry project, ready-made coops or some assembly required coop kits are easy to find and easy to build.

Small wooden coops start at about $160, though some will tell you you’ll have to spend more if you want to get a really high-quality one, while a plastic coop will usually run about $700.

Which one will work better for you and your flock will depend on a number of factors, but both materials have their devotees. Plastic coops are easier to clean and dry much faster, which will be a huge boon to anyone raising chickens in an area with harsh winters.

As a New Englander, this was a big consideration for me when choosing my first coop. I ultimately went with wood, though, because wooden coops come in a much wider variety of designs and are much easier to repair – another consideration in a region prone to nasty blizzards.

As for run costs, here again you can build your own – which usually costs about $1 per meter – or buy a kit for about $150.

You might also be able to roll your run costs into your coop costs by buying one of the many coops with a run attachment included. As for size, you’ll want to plan for approximately 15 square feet per chicken, though this can vary by breed. As an example, bantam chickens usually need less space than their larger cousins, so they’re absolutely an option to look into if you’re strapped for space in your backyard.

A 15 square foot requirement, though, means our starter flock of five will need 75 square feet total, maybe 7.5 by 10 feet, which is only about $11 worth of fencing. All of this brings our coop and run costs anywhere from $171 to $850.

Unfortunately, we aren’t done with start-up costs yet, as we also need to outfit our chicken coop, with things like a feeder, a waterer, perches, and nesting boxes. Luckily, our five-hen flock will only need one feeder and one waterer, though costs can vary widely depending on what kind you decide is best for your flock.

Owners planning for bigger flocks should aim to have one feeder and one waterer for every eight birds. Waterers can be plastic or metal, with metal being the more durable but also more expensive option of the two. Depending on material and size, a waterer will usually run between $6-$30.   

For feeders, chicken owners have more choices. A wall-mounted feeder can cost as little as $3, and hanging feeders are only slightly more expensive at $7. Trough feeders, which are ideal for chicks and smaller bantam birds, average $15, so whichever one you go with, it’s unlikely your feeder cost will break the bank.

Nesting boxes and perches are also relatively inexpensive; many will often come with the coop. If your coop doesn’t come with nesting boxes, you can get your own for about $10 a pop for the most basic model, which is likely all you need. You’ll want to plan for one nesting box for every three hens. The cost for perches, on the other hand, is essentially just the cost of a 2×4 and a handful of nails at your local hardware store – probably about $5. You’ll want a long enough perch for each of your hens to get about 10 inches of space.

So, when all is said and done, where does that leave the total cost for setting up a flock of five hens?

  • $125-250 for chickens and the equipment to raise them to adulthood
  • $171-850 for a coop and a run
  • $34-70 to outfit the coop

For a grand total of between $330 and $1,170. Ouch.

 

Maintenance Costs Of Raising Chickens For Eggs

Of course, we’re just getting started on our expenses.

Now that you have your chickens, you still need to buy feed, supplements, bedding, and other crucial supplies for your birds. These are recurring expenses, so what seem like small savings on one bag of feed or bale of hay will add up in the long run.

For feed, there’s no need to get caught up in the many, many different types of feed you might see on the shelves – for the most part, your small backyard flock of layers will only need a basic layer feed once they reach adulthood, which usually runs about $15-25 per 50 pound bag.

A good starter rate is to feed six ounces of feed per chicken per day, which means that 50-pound bag will last our hypothetical five hens a little less than a month. Those raising their flocks from eggs or chicks will have to feed them on starter feed or starter crumbles to make sure they get enough protein and don’t overdose on calcium, transitioning to layer feed at around 18 weeks old.

Chickens also need several supplements in their diets, the most important of these being calcium carbonate and insoluble grit. Calcium carbonate helps laying chickens get the calcium they need to put strong, healthy shells on their eggs; it can be introduced to their diet through ground up oyster shells, which usually cost about $3 for a month’s supply. Insoluble grit helps the birds digest their food, basically serving the same purpose as teeth do for people, and costs about $15 a bag.

Free range chickens will need less grit than their confined counterparts, because they pick it up while foraging, but they should still have grit available to them to supplement that.

Another potential maintenance cost is bedding. Here again, chicken owners have a lot of different options, including some that can be basically free, like wood shavings or shredded newspapers. The classic straw is also an option, as are hemp and sand. All of these beddings have their potential upsides and downsides, and chicken owners may have to experiment a bit before they find an option that makes both their chickens and their bottom lines happy. A good number to expect for your bedding costs would be about $5 a month.

Other chicken maintenance costs are harder to quantify – how much they’ll add to your water and electricity bills, for example, or time and labor costs.

You might also run up against unexpected one-time expenses, like vet bills or repairs to your coop or your run. These things can be difficult to plan for, so make sure to keep a cushion in your chicken budget so you can comfortably cover any surprises that might come up.

Based on these numbers, though, our hypothetical starter flock of five hens will cost about $45 a month in maintenance and upkeep, for a yearly total of about $516.

 

Are backyard chickens worth it?

Of course, keeping chickens isn’t all about the bottom line.

It’s almost impossible to put a monetary value on most of the benefits we reap from our feathery friends, including the joys of their company and the myriad mental and physical health benefits of keeping a backyard barnyard.

For my part, watching my five-year-old niece absolutely glow when she finally got a hen to hop into her lap after months of trying was worth, conservatively, about $1 million in oyster shells and layer feed.

And many others have written more eloquently than I about the joys and sorrows of chicken keeping.

Suffice it to say that a single number cannot possibly sum up all the costs and benefits of chicken keeping.

For those obsessed with the numbers, though, we can come up with a rough per-egg cost of keeping hens. Your average hen produces about 200 eggs per year, though, again, this varies widely by breed and also depends on the health and age of your chickens. That means our five-hen flock will produce about 1000 eggs per year, for a first-year cost of between 84 cents and $1.69 per egg.

Every year after that, though, will yield a per egg cost of about 52 cents. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s worth it. 

Author bio: Chris Lesley has been Raising Chickens for over 20 years and today keeps 11 chickens. She can remember being a young child when her grandad first taught her how to hold and care for chickens. She also holds a certificate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and are interested in backyard chicken health and care. Her work has been shared on HuffPost, Mother Nature Network, Community Chickens, Mother Earth News and many more outlets. You can find Chris at Chickens and More.

Are you interested in raising backyard chickens for eggs? Have you ever thought about the money side of it all?

The post Is it cheaper to buy eggs or raise chickens? appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.



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