What’s the biggest highlight of December for you: celebrating (and shopping for!) Christmas? Partying on New Year’s Eve? Or this year maybe it's the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens!
Lately Star Wars trailers have been hotter than infamous holiday sales. And no wonder: this sequel trilogy opener is the first new Star Wars release in more than ten years. With anticipation created by Disney’s marketing campaign, it’s expected to set box office records with profits over $1 billion.
The Force Awakens breaks new ground by including original cast members and bringing together multiple generations. Just as the movie brings multiple generations together, it will also draw multiple generations to theaters.
Of course Christmas and New Year’s are right up there as major year end events. Those will also often mean the gathering of multiple generations, hopefully in fun and meaningful ways. But they’re not always easy. If your finances are stretched the holidays add further stress. You may not feel joyful if you can’t do all you'd like for your kids and others. This month’s free money highlights offer several ways to lighten your load and brighten the season.
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That’s a major expense - and sometimes an impossible one - for families these days. President Obama has taken notice and proposed new plans designed to make good care more available and affordable. The Child Care Development fund will provide changes that should help a lot — when they get approved and funded. Unfortunately that is expected to take as much as ten years. If you need help now there are a number of resources you can turn to. You may be familiar with some of them, but probably not with all. Possibilities include:
- where you work (even if they don’t have an official program currently;
- special help for students;
- help from non-profits;
- government programs; and
- more creative options you may not have considered.
Our latest article about Assistance for Child Care covers all these and more. This may be a very busy month but if you take some time to look at these options now you may free up a whole lot of time - and spare cash - this season.
The past month has been a busy one for news in several key areas. Some could be important to you now. Here are brief summaries of the highlights with links to more info:
Computers and Internet Access: In addition to assistance for child care you may be interested in helping your family have better access to a computer and use of the internet. They are practically a requirement these days for performing well in school and keeping up with other students. You might have a library that provides free access but transportation is often a problem. There are actually a number of programs available that can help you get online without spending a lot of money.
Communications carriers are required by the FCC to offer special programs for low income families — but they are not typically well advertised. You can get internet access for less than $10 a month and no long term contract. You can even buy a good computer - with software included - for a very low price. And it’s often pretty easy to qualify and to apply online. Learn more about these options and more great tips in Low Income Help.
Dental Care for Kids: Dental health is more important to your overall health than most people realize. It’s especially important that kids get a good start taking good care of their teeth. Though few healthcare plans include dental, it is now a requirement that plans offer a dental care option for kids. Unfortunately it is not covered in basic plan costs and worse, the explanations of what you are and are not getting for your payment are not very clear. It’s super important to know what to beware of and how to know that you are getting what you think you are paying for. We provide updated details in the “Frustrations” section of our guide to healthcare.gov.
Caring for the Disabled: If you have a child - or any family member - with a disability and you are spending a significant amount of time and energy as a caregiver, you could get paid for your work. The National Family Caregiver Support Program makes this possible. Better yet, they provide special training and services in addition to financial assistance. The details vary according to what state you live in. Check out our recent update on this program in the Financial Aid for Family Caregivers section in our guide to disability.gov.
Lots of News on Pell Grants has come out recently and it could mean a lot to high school students. A new, still experimental program will allow high school students who participate in a “dual enrollment” program to receive Pell Grants. Dual enrollment programs let high school students take college courses to get an early start on college (and possibly get their degree faster and cheaper). Now they can use Pell Grants for tuition as well as other expenses. Get the details in What’s New With Pell Grants at Pell Grants. Also see quickly if you might qualify — along with more info about the new program — in Qualify for a Pell Grant.
Education Opportunity for Veterans: Ever considered being a barista — at least while you get a free college education? An amazing program offered now by Starbucks provides free tuition to veterans as well as to their spouse or child. This is a great benefit — check out the News 2015 section under Education in our article about Grants for Veterans.
Been trying to buy a house — or dreaming of buying one? The HOME Investment Partnership Program could now make it possible. And even if it can’t help you get a down payment it might be able to help with rental expenses. Learn more in the updated HOME Investment Partnership Program section of Grants for First Time Home Buyers.
Short Term Transitional Housing is offered by the U.S. Justice Department through local government agencies and non-profits. Women with children often get priority. They can procure temporary housing as well as help finding a job and eventually permanent housing. Updated details are provided in the Transitional Housing section of Grants for Housing.
That’s a long list of ways that you can bring some cheer to the rest of your year — and beyond. It takes some effort but could be well worth your time. We wish you the best as we look ahead to the end of another year - make the most of it!