What Is the Cost to Change Your Name?

What Is the Cost to Change Your Name?

 

When we got married last year, I faced a dilemma that more and more women are calling into question. Although in the past it was normal for a married woman to take her husband’s last name, it has become a more contentious issue in recent years. Since I didn’t marry until later in life, I have felt more hesitant to give up my maiden name. In addition to the time and hassle to go through the whole process, there are some fees associated with it as well. As I wrestled with this decision for a few weeks, I decided to start by figuring out exactly how much it would cost to change your name.

The Hesitancy to Make the Change

After 35 years, I have grown quite attached to my maiden name. Since it is unique, it creates a strong familial bond and an easily identifiable way to recognize more distant relatives. And after losing my dad this year, I have an even greater attachment to my name.

In addition to all my personal feelings, there is also a professional cost to change your name. Over the years, I have published many things under my maiden name and made several important business contacts.  A part of me feels that giving up my last name is also giving up an important piece of my identity.

The Logistics to Change Your Name

Despite my conflicting emotions on the subject, I decided to go on a fact-finding mission to find out what it would take to formally change my name.

Luckily, I had made a list of all the things that required me to update my contact information from my last move. So, I had a good idea of how many places I would need to call to change my name as well. However, I knew it would not be nearly as simple as changing my address or phone number. Each organization and financial institution is different and will have its own process you need to follow.

Checking the List

Making a to-do list always makes large tasks seem more manageable. So, I reviewed which legal, financial, and personal accounts I would need to change. All in all, there were about 25 documents and accounts that would need to be updated:

  • driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • passport
  • Foreign Residency card
  • W2s and tax documents
  • banking and investment accounts
  • credit cards
  • digital wallet
  • health and car insurance
  • car titles
  • phone plan
  • memberships and subscriptions

Starting with the Easy Ones

Once I made a few initial phone calls and went online to see what would need to be done, I started by tackling the easy one. Fortunately, many of my accounts would allow me to do it online. All they needed was a digital copy of our marriage license and my new ID to update the accounts.

And much to my surprise, a new ID was relatively easy to get. I just needed to schedule an appointment online with the DMV and bring a certified copy of the marriage license with me. All it would take is about 15 minutes and a $16 fee to get it changed. The process was about the same to change your name with the Social Security office as well. However, they take care of it free of charge.

Saving the Worst for Last

Unfortunately, some of the more important documents and financial accounts require you to jump through more hoops.

The most time-consuming ones would be my financial accounts. Each bank requires you to visit a branch in person to make the change with a banker. For security purposes, they wanted to make photocopies of your ID and marriage license, and get your signature on the paperwork. Although my credit card would let me do it by mail, they would also require me to send a certified copy of the marriage license along with the photocopies.

The final piece would be to change my passport. Since they have recently changed the process, you can now renew online. So, I went online to find the forms to change my name on my passport. You can complete it online for about $60 and then wait for them to send it in the mail.

Tallying Up the Cost to Change Your Name

When I tallied up the final cost for the documents and fees to update my information, here’s what it came to:

  • marriage license – $25
  • 3 certified copies – $27
  • ceremony with the justice of the peace – $150
  • driver’s license – $16
  • passport – $60

The grand total to change my name after marriage was $278.  However, it costs more money if you decide to legally change your name for any other reason. This will require you to file a petition through the local court and publish it in the local newspaper for four consecutive weeks. Both these actions come with additional costs.

The Final Decision

From the onset, I had my doubts about giving up my name because I felt like I would be giving up a piece of myself. In addition, it is a huge time commitment to make all the necessary phone calls and in-person visits to change your name. And grieving the loss of my dad made it even harder.

However, my husband made a good point that I wasn’t losing my identity, just evolving. Sharing a surname would create a sense of cohesion within the new family and life we are trying to build together.

So in the end, we compromised by hyphenating my name. Although I plan to continue using my maiden name professionally, I’m okay using just his socially After a year of being married, I finally made the formal change. Now, I am waiting for the last of the documents and confirmations to be sent by mail before I can mark the task complete. I feel like it’s the best of both worlds and I am at peace with the decision.

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Finding the Best Deal for Our TV Bundle Package

Finding the Best Deal on Our TV Bundle Package

Finding the Best Deal on Our TV Bundle Package

After my husband and I got married last year, we did what most couples do and combined households. As we joined our lives and finances, we also evaluated our monthly expenses. We started by establishing our new budget. Then, we divided the financial responsibilities, set our savings goals, and looked for areas where we could cut back. The most obvious way was to cancel duplicate memberships and services we no longer needed. However, we overlooked a few opportunities to save money with our telecom services. Now that my husband will need to relocate for work, we are looking for more ways to trim the budget. So, I’m wondering if we have the best deal for our TV bundle package or if there are better options for us.

The Current TV Bundle Package

Before we got together, he had two roommates living in the same house. For budgeting purposes, they shared services and streaming memberships. However, anyone who lives in a large household will tell you how frustrating it is when you skimp on your internet speed. With all three of them working from home, streaming, and gaming, they chose a package with greater bandwidth. But now that it was just the two of us, I wasn’t sure if we were paying for more than we needed.

Our current bundle includes TV and internet services, but all streaming services are separate. With the bundle, we have the Ultimate plan with download speeds up to 500Mbps, a 1.25 TB monthly data plan, and 140 channels. The latest bill showed that we pay $83 a month for internet and $114 for TV; with taxes and fees, it’s just more than $210 a month. This price included a $30 discount on the package, which makes it a good deal. Unfortunately, the offer expires in April 2023.

Options in Our Area

Local Providers

Sadly, there are a limited number of service providers in our area. Only two, to be exact. This doesn’t work in our favor or create much competition for pricing and customer service.

Over the years, I’ve used both providers and neither one comes close to satisfactory. Since their prices and quality of service are about the same, I have no loyalty to either one. Therefore, I let the bottom line determine where I go and sometimes switch between the two, depending on who is running the best promotion.

Satellite Services

I’ve also looked into satellite services, but have had bad experiences in the past. Living in the midwest means that we often deal with poor weather conditions. When it gets bad, service gets spotty and is often out for several hours at a time. So, if you have been considering satellite and wondering “does weather affect satellite internet?”, in short, it seems that you are more likely to experience connection issues during inclement weather than with other types of internet. Since I need reliable internet access to run my business, satellite service isn’t a good option for me. However, for some, it can be the only option available.

Mix and Match

The other alternative is to pay for the services individually. We don’t watch many cable TV channels, so we have discussed ditching the extras for local channels only. Additionally, we don’t need a landline since we rely on our cell phones.

While it may seem limited, we would still have plenty of entertainment services. Since we already pay for subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon Prime, we could still watch our favorite TV shows and movies through these streaming services. Looking at our options, we are seriously considering canceling the cable and finding a bundle for our streaming services.

Getting the Best Deal on Your TV Bundle Package

Looking at our current package, it seems like we are getting the best deal available right now. However, that will change when our discount expires. So, if you are looking for ways to get the best deal on your TV bundle package, here are three things you should keep in mind.

1. Bundle your services for better discounts.

Obviously, bundling is one of the best ways to save on your telecom services. As a general rule, you typically pay less for each service when you go through a single provider.

Sometimes, they will also offer promotional deals and discounts to help you save even more. Not only is it good news for your wallet, but telecom companies also love it when you bundle because it boosts revenue for each client and has its users committing to long-term contracts.

However, not all bundles are a bargain. You need to do your due diligence and pay attention to the fine print. Watch out for the fees for add-ons and equipment rentals. These hidden charges may cost you more by nickel and diming you beyond your budget.

2. Check out the competition.

Any true budgeter knows that you should always shop around and compare prices. The same is true when it comes to your telecom services. If you live in larger cities, you will usually find better deals. The bigger the local market, the better the inducement offers will be as well.

Many providers offer great deals and packages to sign up. Plus, you can sometimes find exclusive web offers to save even more. Others offer incentives like prepaid credit cards or discounts when you sign up or pay for services online. Sometimes the savings are so significant, that I’m willing to switch contracts and go through the hassle of changing service providers.

3. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Most people think that rates are set in stone. While there may be standard pricing, there are usually ways that service providers are willing to sweeten the deal to keep your business. So when your contract expires, be ready to have a conversation about your renewal.

When you go into the conversation, keep in mind that there is some room for negotiation. Although they will rarely give you free service, it never hurts to ask for a current promotional rate for new members or that they extend your current deal.

The staunchest savers will also advise you to be willing to walk away. Let your provider know that you will be looking at other options if they can’t honor the rate or offer other discounts. Sometimes threatening to end your service spurs them to find ways to reduce your monthly bill and extend your contract.

Ultimately, you have to decide what is most important for your communication needs and choose the package that is right for you. It never hurts to ask for what you want from your service provider. They may surprise you and grant your requests. In the long run, they know a satisfied customer is worth more than the discount.

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Is It Worth Going into Business for Yourself?

Is It Worth Going Into Business for Yourself?

 

Many of us have often contemplated it but never taken the leap into entrepreneurship. For years, my friends and I have sat around and discussed how you could make that happen. But with all the risks and potential losses, it’s hard to leave security and strike out on your own. However, nearly three years ago, life presented me with an opportunity to do just that. When I returned home after years abroad, I decided it was time to make my dream a reality. While it has been one of the greatest challenges of my life, for me, the financial and personal benefits have more than made it worth going into business for yourself.

What Are the Risks of Going into Business for Yourself?

Change is hard for many of us. And, it’s even more terrifying when you have to make life-changing decisions, such as starting a business. No one can deny that there are serious risks involved.

The Financial Risks

First off, there are no guarantees that you will be successful or earn a steady income. If there are significant startup costs, that increases the financial stakes as well. And with a volatile market, it’s risky to attempt any new business venture right now. Furthermore, those who are entering saturated markets will face greater competition and find it even more difficult to achieve success.

The truth is that 20% of all new businesses fail within two years. If you don’t have a solid business plan in place, you could find yourself facing bankruptcy.

The Personal Risks

Any new business owner will tell you the same thing: starting a new business is a huge time investment. Unfortunately, as your business demands more of your time and attention, it could affect your personal life. Maintaining this balance is crucial. However, with so many people depending on me and several other time commitments, I know this will be a never-ending struggle.

The other major concern for me was the potential effect on my mental health. With all the added stress, I wasn’t sure how it would affect my anxiety, especially as my family was dealing with the care of multiple members facing serious medical conditions. Although some don’t calculate these risks into their decision, it has an impact on your productivity, quality of life, and job satisfaction.

Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?

The moment I made the decision was when I realized that the benefits would outweigh the risks. I was unhappy in my current field, returning to a place I hadn’t lived in for over a decade, and needed something that gave me flexibility. My job prospects were limited, so I started thinking outside the box. After some debate, it seemed like a good opportunity to finally see if my business idea would hold water. When I assessed my worst-case scenario, I didn’t have much to lose.

My biggest advantage was that online consulting has very little overhead costs. I only spend about 5% of my annual earnings on business expenses. Since I only need my computer and a strong wi-fi signal, I can generate more profit in a shorter amount of time. I have also established a few long-term clients and contracts that offer some stability. As long as I maintain these relationships and continue building my reputation, there will be a steady demand in the future.

However, the greatest benefit has been the improved quality of life. In the beginning, it was stressful. But once I learned how to manage my time and got things running, I have more free time since I have more control and flexibility to set my own schedule. This has allowed me to take care of both my professional needs and my personal relationships since I can be there when they need me. I’m simply happier all around when I don’t have to answer to superiors and can decide how I conduct business. Rather than dreading the workday ahead, I look forward to it. And you really can’t put a price on happiness.

What Is the Deciding Factor for Going into Business for Yourself?

For those who are asking themselves if now is the right time to start a new business, remember, this is not a decision you should make lightly. Discuss it with your family, friends, and your financial advisor to help you assess your idea.

However, the deciding factor will come down to a tough, personal choice. Are you willing to commit your time, energy, and finances to your idea? Because it will require all of them to make it a reality. Therefore, take the time to evaluate whether you have a viable business plan and the capacity to commit the resources needed before you dive in.

Once I made this choice to go all in, everything else fell into place with a cascading effect. It became clear who and what was most important in my life. This set my priorities. And, it helped me to see how going into business for myself would help me achieve my goals. I wanted a career that brought me personal satisfaction and enough income to support myself. Rather than keeping my personal and professional life separated, I began using them to support one another. When I stopped compartmentalizing these aspects of my life, I immediately achieved a better work-life balance and overall satisfaction in life.

Nothing worth having comes easily, and building a successful business doesn’t happen overnight. It will require your blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen. I won’t sugar-coat it and tell you that starting my own business has been a breeze. It has been a lot of long hours and hard work. But now that I see the results, it has been well worth every sacrifice along the way.

Have you made the decision to start your own business? What are your thoughts…was it worth it, or a waste? 

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