HI.  It’s been a while.  I’ve received a lot of mail from readers, fellow writers, and friends about what happened with F4Y, and I feel that it is only fair to address what has been, and where, if anywhere, F4Y is going in the future.

I while back, we suffered the loss of the most important part of the Finance For Youth family.  At the time, I had to put everything I had into doing whatever I could to save the situation, but in the end it wasn’t enough.  I disappointed my readers, my fans, and my friends.  For that, along with many other things surrounding all of this, I’m truly sorry.  Since then, we have been on hiatus, while I determined whether or not F4Y deserved to go back online. The truth is, I’m still not sure.

The truth is, I’m still not sure…,

I think the information in F4Y:TB is still valid, and as important as ever.  I’m just questioning whether I need to be the person who puts out that information.  I’ve been contacted by a few interested parties about the possibility of allowing someone else to control the future of F4Y, which would allow me to stay out and continue with other things.  I’m also considering shuttering F4Y permanently.  Finally, there is a possibility that I might, with a little more time, come back and rebuild F4Y.  I’m not exactly sure which way I’m going, But I think I need some input, or even the lack of input, to tell me how viable and relevant F4Y still is.  Please take a few seconds to leave a comment about what you would like to see happen.  If, as I suspect, there are no comments, that also tells me where you want to see F4Y go.

Thank you, for your continued support and patience,

Wil Stanton
Founder,
Finance For Youth

Hiatus

Posted: February 24, 2012 in Finance For Youth
Tags:

Sometimes stuff happens that is outside our control. One thing many people will do is to try to react quickly to “fix” the problem. Generally, doing that just makes the original stuff worse. Over the years, I’ve tried to teach young people and the people who love them to do the right thing.

Even when the right thing is to step back.

Knowing that this decision may cause some readers to stop following F4Y, but also knowing that the quality and integrity of my work is too important to play with, it brings be great sadness to say that Finance For Youth: The Blog is temporarily going on hiatus until some situations from my life outside of F4Y get settled.

It is my hope that I will be back soon, providing accurate financial information, funny pictures, and even songs. I thank you, the reader, for your loyalty thus far, and while I shouldn’t ask for it, I appreciate your patience and continued loyalty in the future.

 

William J. Stanton
Founder
Finance For Youth

 

Note from Wil:
This is a post from Maria Rainer, a self-described “blog junkie”. Maria seems to be writing right in my wheel-house with articles on online education, online degrees, and this latest effort of hers which is a great idea.

I like to include the writings and opinions of as many people as I can, regardless of whether or not I agree with someone’s opinion. If you want to contribute to Finance For Youth: The Blog, send me an email:
wil@finance4youth.com.

Money management—as one of the most recent posts has demonstrated, it’s a principle that is rather difficult for some children to grasp. And like already mentioned in the previous article, if money management skills are not taught at an early age, your child can suffer many consequences and hardships in their future—they can get into debt after college, be forced to barely survive pay check-to-pay check, or ruin their credit early on, preventing them from acquiring a house or car. While open communication and positive affirmation for saving are great techniques to teach your child about finances, another way is discreetly disguise money management lessons via games. The games listed below (which vary from board games, online games and iPhone apps) are designed to teach your children all about their finances, including money management, debt and even the consequences of bad credit—all in a fun and engaging way.

1. Pay Day.

 

This game may have been originally created in 1975, but the lessons that your child can secretly learn while having a blast with family and friends is still impactful today. Of course the game has had a huge facelift and is modern-looking, but it still teaches the traditional lessons as the original: children learn about employment, loans and interest, as well as the importance of paying bills and handling unexpected expenses. Price: $14.98 on Amazon.


 

2. The Debt-Free Game.


If the title didn’t blatantly explain the premise of the game as it is, the Debt-Free Game is a board game designed to teach both children and adults about all different aspects of finance, including creating emergency funds, saving for college, paying off credit card debt and car notes. It even teaches children how to differentiate the difference between “wants” and “needs.” The first person to complete their “money tree” using a set of dimes is dubbed the winner. This game is exclusively sold online. Price: $22

3. The Bad Credit Hotel.


The Bad Credit Hotel, which is a by-product of the U.S. Treasury Department, is designed to teach children about, well “bad credit.” Based in a haunted-like hotel, players must use smart-credit card practices and techniques to build up their credit and move on to the next stage. It has “clues” that tell players what they need to do while simultaneously educating players on the importance of credit. Once the player earns a total score of 850 (which is a real-life perfect credit score) he or she wins the game. Price: Free

4. Save! The Game.
iPhone Screenshot 1Lastly the interactive iPhone app Save! The Game is also a great game to teach your child about finance-smarts. As the name suggests, this game takes children into a fantasy world in order to teach children about the importance of saving money and avoiding impulse shopping: players who can dodge the evil “iwannas” successfully and make it to the bank wins the game. Price: Free

 

 

 

 

 

Author Bio:

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online colleges, online degrees etc. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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A couple of days ago, a young student approached me and asked me for some career advice. The student wanted to understand a little more about what banking and finance is about, and how it measures up in terms of their “dream job“. I was very impressed with this young student, because unlike many of their peers, they were actually trying to look at their future and start planning. This student, to be fair, is part of an advanced group of students. They get tutoring as part of their regular school day, they have additional instruction in note-taking and other study skills, and they are in advanced Math and English classes. They have a leg up over many students already. This young person seemed to have a leg up on even this group.

There was another teacher in the room at the time, who had worked in a similar field in her younger years, and we both shared some of the upsides and downsides, many of the really funny incidents, and some of the sad, sobering, almost depressing parts of our former jobs. See, no job is truly perfect. There are some good parts and bad parts, and much of adult life is about learning to deal with the bad parts while preparing for, waiting for, and whenever possible working to create the good parts.

And while just that much would have been a good enough lesson, that isn’t the main point of this post.

If you have been doing your job as a parent or concerned party of a young person, there is likely to be a point where they will ask you about career advice themselves. How you respond, what you say and how you say it, and your timing are crucial.

Once a young person asks your advice about future careers, they are putting the trust of their future in your hands!

So how do you respond?

“Follow your bliss!”

Some parents think this is great advice. They want their children to be happy in whatever they do. I’m not going to say that this approach doesn’t have any merit because I know that all parents want their children to be happy. Hell! I’m not even a parent, and I want other people’s children to be happy in their career. Happy people generally don’t make as many mistakes, and tend to do their jobs much better overall than their less happy peers. If that’s all it takes to be able to go to Taco Bell and not get my order screwed up or just ugly, then follow that bliss.

But there is a slight downside. For many kids, their bliss is playing video games or taking obnoxious pictures of themselves for Facebook. True, with a little creativity and some luck, you can make a career out of either of those, but neither has that ring of career aspirations that would make a parent proud.


 

“Follow the family!”

Okay, if “the family” is really The Family, I’m staying out of this argument altogether! But assuming that we’re talking about parents like my mom, who truly believe that following in the family business or doing the same job as your parents is a good thing, there’s a lot to be said for this method too. There is nothing wrong with upholding the traditions of your family, taking advantage of the skills and training from what may be generations of people who have done a job with love and with pride. I kind of like to believe that I’m in my family’s business as a teacher because my grandfather was a teacher in his home country. I get that I’m probably stretching a bit, but it makes me feel good.

But what if, like me with my mom, the family business just isn’t a good fit? Even if I went into my mom’s business of nursing and caring for the sick, that isn’t me either. One of my brothers works construction. He has three daughters that all together probably don’t have the upper body strength required to do what he does, plus it isn’t a very feminine job, and his daughters are very feminine girls. Should they, and I, have taken a job that we don’t enjoy? Even if it means that we will suck at it and embarrass the very people we were trying to please by doing the job in the first place?

“What’s important to you?”

The way I approached my student was to ask what was important to them. What are they looking for in a career? We also talked about what skills they felt they might want to strengthen. As we talked, I was able to throw a few different ideas their way, and as what they said changed, I was able to change my suggestions to fit their evolving priorities. Keeping in mind that this student is very young, and their priorities will change several times between now and when they become an adult, it was more important to get them to think in terms of what they want out of a job than it was to try to stuff them in a hole that might become a bad fit later on.

Is there a downside to this? Sure, I guess that the student might have felt a little unfulfilled when they came to a trusted advisor with the hopes of getting a concrete suggestion. I guess that walking away from a conversation where you hope to get answers with nothing but more questions can be annoying. I’m okay with that because this student needs the opportunity to decide things about themselves before they are going to be ready to plop down for a career that might last them the rest of their lives.

I don’t know why, but as I was having my conversation with my student, I kept thinking that someday they’d be alright.  Of course, one of my favorite songs about someday is this one, and while it is a sad song, and possibly a little depressing, I’ve always enjoyed it and I hope you do too.  Enjoy!

 

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Let me start by apologizing for this being a longer post. I’ll try to keep it short, but I am covering like 30 years of history, so I beg a little grace from my awesome readers!

 

When I was young, from a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I knew I was GOING TO BE A TEACHER. This might come as a bit of a surprise to many of the teachers when I was in school, but I knew that someday I would be among them as a peer, and not as a student. Because I liked to read, was good at writing, spelling, and grammar, I was sure I would be an English teacher. Like I said, my teachers didn’t have as much faith in my ability to become a teacher as I did, but more interestingly, my parents would frequently throw out alternatives to try and tempt me away from following my dreams. My dad was an X-ray technician who transitioned into being one of the very early MRI technicians when the technology was just becoming available. My mom would encourage me to follow in his footsteps, regardless of how loudly or excitedly I would protest that I wanted to forge my own path. I guess old habits are hard to break, because it was only in the last 4 or so years, when it was obvious that I was actually, no-kidding around, for reals, becoming a teacher, that she stopped with her brand of “encouragement”.

When I left high school, I was a little disillusioned about higher education or the prospect of being a teacher. I figured it would happen, but I was young and I wanted to take a little time to enjoy being outside of a classroom before I committed myself to being inside one again for the rest of my life. So I went into the exciting world of finance. I took a brief (15 or so year) sabbatical from my childhood dream, and I kind of dug it for a while, until I didn’t. Then I went back to school and was convinced that I was going to be a teacher again.

A strange thing happened during those 15 years. I got to enjoy other subjects. I was into economics of course, but tied in with that was government and history. I still say that each of those three have to be taught in tandem in order to be taught correctly. Currently our school system teaches one at a time, and almost in a vacuum, which has a chilling effect on the interest levels of students. But that’s another argument for another time. I decided that I didn’t really want to teach English after all. I decided that I was going to teach economics.

Over the past three years, I’ve had some very interesting teaching assignments. I’ve been able to teach incarcerated youth; I’ve taught in regular schools; I’ve even taught at some alternative schools that would break most peoples’ hearts (mine included). I’ve taught every subject, including subjects that I wasn’t able to pass when I was in school. I wound up avoiding those classes in favor of teaching subjects that I was good at.

Except one.

Never in my own academic career was I good certain subjects. I sucked at Woodshop, a fact that those who know me well understand. But worse than my ineptitude with carpentry was my absolute idiocy when it came to math. I could not do math. It was my worst subject ever. People used to ask me when I was in banking how I could do that job and still be bad at math. Luckily, there is this thing on top of most desks, called a computer, that does the math for me. Once, by pure luck, I was assigned to teach a math class at a school. Apparently, I did something right, because teachers at that school and others in the district have been passing my name around as a great math teacher because of the way I teach. It has gotten to the point where many people in the district think that I actually am a math teacher, and not a history, economics, government, or whatever teacher like my credential says. So I’ve made the decision to do what I need to do to actually become a math teacher.

I told my story because I hear from people every day who tell me that they are in situations that they never thought they would be in. They had a view of what their lives would be like when they grew up that wound up not matching reality.

I also see people with their noses stuck in books written by some very intelligent financial advice sales people. They make all their decisions based on what they believe this writer or that TV personality would suggest. They do all this to the exclusion of everything else that is going on in their lives. For some, it works as they hoped. For others, like those who try fad diets, fad financial advice is a round trip proposition. You get yourself into the position you planned on getting yourself into, only to relax back into your old habits. This leads to you getting into a deeper hole than the one you started in.

The answer is to be open to different paths while still keeping your eye on your overarching goal.

Is your goal to be able to send your kids to a college you couldn’t afford for yourself?

How about to be able to retire and live out your remaining years in a bungalow in Disney World?

Maybe your goal is as simple as being able to pay off your credit card and possibly taking your kids to Disneyland during spring break. It is important to have a plan, but when something comes around that messes with that plan, you have to be able to reevaluate your plan from the new point of reference instead of the original, where you started.

Whatever your goal is, life will sometimes get in your way.  Sometimes your own decisions will get in your way, and sometimes the decisions of others will be responsible.  Whether or not you make your goals depends in large part on how you react, on what decisions you make, and on your own ability to assess and deal with changes as they come up.

Whenever I think of my life, and all the twists and turns it has taken over the years, I think of a river.  Whenever I think of a river, I think of this song.  Because the original is somewhat sad and this is a weekend, I’ve also included a more up-beat version that always makes me laugh.  Enjoy!

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“I don’t get it. I should have gotten the promotion. I’m better than he is.”

“She never notices all I do for the company, she sucks as a boss!”

“It’s not like it was my fault! WTF was she doing checking up on me?”

“He got me written up for being late a bunch of times.”

I used to hear stuff like this all the time when I was in banking and dealing with so-called “adults“. To be honest, it was mostly the younger adults, but not always. Now that I’m out of the business of dealing with adults, I hear a lot of complaints from kids that sound eerily familiar and worry me about the future.

“She got me in trouble for dress code violation!”

“I got yelled at because I had my phone out during a test. I was just checking the time!”

“He gave me Friday Detention because I didn’t turn in my homework on Tuesday.”

“Stupid Principal, called my parents because I didn’t go to school yesterday, now I’m in trouble at home too.”

What are all these people really saying? Really, they are expressing their own disappointment in their jobs or in their performance at school. The adults know, however deep-down, that their setbacks are not the fault of the other person. They know that their own behavior led to the situations about which they are reacting. It just feels better to bitch about who wronged you were. They know that there are probably reasons why one person will get a promotion over another. Sometimes these decisions are unfair, but most of the time they are justified. They know that bosses have a lot on their plates, and sometimes don’t have the ability to see everything they should. They know that part of their bosses’ responsibilities might be to make sure that they are doing the job they are paid to do. They know that they are held accountable to be at work on time every time.

My kids at school are at a precipice. I want to believe that they also know that they can’t blame Teacher X or Principal Y for their own misfortune. I want to believe that they really understand that they chose to violate the dress code. I want to believe that they know that they can’t pull out their cells during a test without opening themselves up to the possibility of being accused of cheating. I hope they understand that there are consequences for actions, and in the case of not doing homework, for inaction. I want to believe that they understand that cutting class is a big deal, and parents get a little pissed about these kinds of things.

But should I?

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I put it together in my head that the parents of the kids that complain about the world being against them are the same people who are complaining about how the world is against them! This is a learned behavior.

So how do we fight back?

It starts with me: If you are a parent, or like me, a teacher, or any other kind of role model, you need to let it start with you. We all have bad days at work, bad months even. We need to be honest with ourselves to recognize that sometimes stuff just happens. Sometimes we contribute to the problem by our reactions, and sometimes we create the problems. We need to act and react in a proper way so that those watching us with little eyes can learn the correct way to handle adversity.

Take control early: All of the above statements share one thing. They are all statements of reaction. Too often, we get busy, or bogged down in day-to-day details to think about proactively attacking situation. If my boss isn’t prone to notice the contributions I make to the company, maybe I should take some time to point out, in a respectful way, how valuable I am to the company before I get frustrated.

Be your best you: I get that it can become tough and monotonous to come in to work every day and give your absolute best. That’s what vacations are for. That’s what time off (weekends or just time between shifts) is for. I’m sorry, and I know full well how hard it is for me as well, but you have to be the best you possible whenever you go to work. Not just because your boss will like it, not because it is your job to do your best, but because doing so can motivate others around you to up their game as well.

These are just three of hundreds of things that you can do to deal with many of the setbacks that seem to creep up when least expected and least wanted. I’m sure there are more ideas, and I look forward to hearing what your ideas might be.

Of course we don’t just try to shift blame when it comes to work. Dylan wrote this song, but I firmly believe Mr. Cash did it best.  Enjoy!

 


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Here at F4Y:TB, we tend to focus more on avoiding financial mishaps. That is by design. I believe that my energies are best spent helping young people learn the skills and gain the tools needed to avoid as many financial setbacks as possible. Because of the time I’ve spent in the financial field, I don’t have a cautionary tale about when I hit the bottom or how I clawed my way to where I am financially. My personal money story is much like the majority of people’s. If you are looking for the other kind of narrative, there are many awesome bloggers out there who fit the bill. What I provide is professional advice, accurate information, catchy music, gratuitous pictures of excessively cute animals, and hopefully a laugh here and there, all while trying to make sure you don’t make the mistakes that get so many others in trouble.

All that being said, it happens to many people every day. Maybe you made the colossal error of trying to with the credit arbitrage game and missed a payment because you forgot about it. Maybe you “won” that thing from e-bay that you don’t really need, but you kinda thought it might be cool so you bid on it just for fun but not really. Or maybe you lost a job, or got sick, or worst of all, you just got unlucky. Whatever happened, you are now financially screwed and all the “spend less than you earn” just isn’t helping right now! So what do you do?

Whatever happened, you are now financially screwed, and all the “spend less than you earn” just isn’t helping right now!

First, don’t panic! Chances are that you are already panicking, so your first goal is to stop panicking. When you panic, you are more likely to make a wrong choice that makes things worse than if you face your problems calmly, with reason rather than emotion. While we’re at it, are you really in as bad a situation as you initially thought, or did you panic and things are bad, but not yet drastic?

Second, if you find yourself in a worst case scenario position, you have to do some serious assessment to see where things went wrong. Some PF guys will say it doesn’t matter where things went wrong, you are trying to fix that they went wrong. I get the impulse, but this is a short-sighted way of looking at things, and chances are good that you will wind up back to doing wherever it is you are trying to stop. Instead, look at where things started to unravel. What happened? What changed? Was it something you did or had control over, or was this something that was going to happen, and nothing you could do would stop it? Honesty is key here. Lying to yourself won’t work. You’ll know you’re lying, and you are only delaying your ability to help yourself out of a serious problem.

Third, STOP! Whatever happened to put you in bad shape, if your actions or inaction contributed to your current situation, stop doing whatever it was that you were doing. At this point I’m not saying to do the opposite, all I’m saying is to stop what you are doing.

Next, look at your alternatives. A lot. Most people, when drowning, will reach for anything to pull them back to the surface. If you are actually in the water, that’s just fine, but if you are drowning in debt, or in some other financial issue, most people find that the rope they thought they were reaching for was actually a thick chain connected to an anchor that will pull them even further under. You are already in a f%*#ed-up situation. Waiting a day or two to finally get yourself to break a very difficult cycle won’t do much more damage. It will do significantly less than some of the impulse decisions many people make to get themselves out of a mess. Do the research in to all your options, not just the ones that seem easiest or quickest or even least painful. Sometimes, suffering through something is a viable option, and sometimes even the best option ultimately.

Finally, communicate! I get that financial problems can be embarrassing. This is something that seems so simple that you should be able to breeze through it. It isn’t. And even if it were, whenever a crisis hits, communication is the key to surviving it, even if you can deal with things on your own. Find people who know their own stuff and communicate with them. I’m not saying to ask them to bail you out; in fact I’m specifically saying you shouldn’t ask people to bail you out of financial problems. When you do, you put that person in an awkward position which will affect your relationship. Look, if someone can help you and wants to help you, they’ll make the offer all on their own, without you asking for it. Be careful who you choose to communicate with, however. You want to confide in people who are a) worthy of your confidence, b) successfully away from the type of situation you are experiencing, and c) willing to be a shoulder to lean on. If you can find one of those people, you are in great shape.

We’ve all heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is true almost all the time. Sometimes all the prevention in the world just isn’t enough and you need to find a cure. Keep in mind that finance is not a simple thing, that success is not simple, and that fixing your situation probably won’t be simple either. There is a reason that medicine tastes like it does.

If you find yourself truly falling financially, there isn’t a whole lot that is funny or witty.  Take a second to step back and regain your perspective and realize that there is a song this awesome exists.  Enjoy

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