Archive for the ‘Other sites of Interest’ Category

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:

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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In every parent‘s life there comes a time when they need to sit their child down and have a serious talk about life. Some parents make a big deal and production about it, buying visual aids and showing their kids the tools that they use. Other parents pretend that this isn’t happening, or at least that it isn’t happening yet, all the time realizing that they are risking their children having to learn the facts from people who don’t have their best interests in mind, or even worse, from the streets.

Of course the above holds true for many sensitive and difficult subjects, but only one can truly rise to the level of being called “THE TALK”. We’re talking about finances here.

Earlier, at the beginning of summer, we discussed some choices about how to handle the idea of allowances for kids. You can read about them HERE, HERE, or even HERE. Some parents thought that this was the end of the story, and not something way closer to the beginning. The truth is, your kids are going to need to learn how best to handle serious issues like the smart use of credit, planning for the future, making and sticking to budgets, and even how to deal with life when your plans blow up on you. This is when it can get a little messy for parents and their children alike. Hopefully I can give you a few tips to make this less difficult on everyone.

You really can be too young: Many of the bloggers out there and some of the “gurus” will tell you that your kids are never too young to learn about these issues. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m all for teaching kids about money issues in ways that are age and developmentally appropriate. I could try to talk to my 6-year-old nephew about the finer points of an interest-only mortgage, but I’m sure he’s more interested in seeing what his nostrils look like when you shine a flashlight through them (That may not be strictly true, but I always get a kick from the flashlight thing). You should stick to basics that you can deliver in small enough chunks that they can understand, but with just enough detail that you don’t lose them. If you just can’t help yourself and you absolutely need to talk about topics that are probably over their head, the best way is by teasing the more advanced topics in the course of the more basic (and appropriate) lessons.

A little mystery is better than total disclosure: Remember the first time you heard, saw, heard about, learned, or discovered that your parents had sex (that is if your parents have had sex, unlike my parents, who never have and never will, thankyouverymuch)? Yeah, you don’t want to put your kids through that when it comes to money issues. Some parents might struggle to keep their finances healthy. Having kids, in and of itself, is an expensive proposition, but by no means the only reason parents might not want to divulge too much. Maybe they made some bad choices, maybe life got a little hairy, but the kidlets don’t need all the details. If you want to purge your soul, see your clergy, a psychologist, a bartender, or whoever, but don’t burden your kids with too much detail into your own finances.

Try to let your kids guide the direction of the conversation: Just like the other “talk”, one area where parents frequently screw up is by misunderstanding the questions that their children may have. A kid might ask where babies come from, and a parent will start the conversation with, “Well, sometimes Daddies make special drinks for Mommies that help Mommies get sleepy…,” when all the kid wants to hear is “from the hospital”. No kid wants to hear the first story. No adult wants to hear that (with the exception of some members of the local police, but that is another story altogether.) Kids have an amazing ability to communicate to adults what they are ready to grasp. Sadly, adults generally suck at interpreting what the kids are saying. My best advice here is to ask a lot of questions about what kids are curious about or need help understanding. Give them a broad, basic answer, followed by some more questioning to see if that helps to answer their questions, and then a more detailed response. Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.

Showing is better than telling: Kids get lectured at enough at school. I personally make sure of that. They learn very early on how to tune out when they feel another lecture coming on. Try to avoid adding to the lectures they will have to sit through by developing activities that will help them see what happens. There are games on the internet that can be used in a pinch, but these are generic, and might not be the best fit for your child. Of course, this will mean that you have to be engaged with your child, but most parents who are planning on teaching them about personal finance are probably already pretty well engaged already.

And finally,

Be prepared: Before you get to the point where you need to have “the talk”, be prepared with the accurate information and some ideas about how you would answer questions. This means you might need to invest a little time and a little money on reading materials. You’re reading Finance For Youth: The Blog
already, so that is a good start! Another place where you will get good information that is definitely not over someone’s head is by reading my book, Finance For Youth: The Book, available through Am I saying that my stuff is the only stuff you should read? Absolutely! However, I know that would be incredibly unlikely, so I suggest that you supplement F4Y products with products from your second favorite personal finance person.

Having “the talk” is going to be strange. There is no way around it, but it doesn’t have to be so uncomfortable that you postpone it until it is too late. Remember, postponing leads to your kids needing your money long after they should be on the way to creating their own lives, and nobody wants that.  Also remember that if you get stuck having to give the talk, and it gets awkward, you can always just tell your spouse that your kid ate the pie!



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Note from Wil: This is a post from Matthew Kuehlhorn, “America‘s Mentor for Teens”. Matthew has made several awesome contributions to the discussion here at F4Y, and I would like to share some of his work to help get your mind working.

I like to include the writings and opinions of as many people as I can. If you want to
contribute to
Finance For Youth: The Blog, send me an email:

  • “Money does not grow on trees.”
  • “Money is the root of evil.”
  • “Cold, hard cash.”
  • “Money is hard to come by.”

Are any of these sayings you hear or tell yourself? What do they really mean to you?

Understanding our beliefs about money affects the ways we spend money and the ways we earn money. We can choose to believe anything—so why would we make it difficult?

Think of it this way:. If I thought that money were the root of all evil, and then all of a sudden I had a windfall of money land in my lap, what would I think about myself? Might I be evil? And if I were evil, would I then keep the money around or would I get rid of it to ensure that I were not evil?

I would probably get rid of it.

Beliefs can cause us to form poor spending habits. For me, I have been an emotional spender, and I used to tell myself that it did not really matter because I would always make more money. While this is true–I do always make more money–I really do not want to have to make more. So my thoughts and habits must change.

I now tell myself everything matters. And it does! The tiniest actions make huge waves in our lives. Having adopted this belief I now do not spend money spontaneously, and this allows me to save more. When I earn money, I am very thankful and appreciative for it. No longer is the money simply passing by. It is very important, and because I have a respect for it, it comes back!

Here is a practice for you. Fill in the blanks:

Money is _________________

Money is _________________

Money is _________________

Wealth is _________________

Rich people are ___________________

Rich people are ___________________

Are your answers negative or positive? Will your beliefs support earning and managing money well, or do they push money and success away from you?

I guarantee if you think rich people are greedy, you will not allow yourself to become rich. It is a law. And you can change your beliefs to gain the success you want.

How will you think differently about money and finances?


Matthew Kuehlhorn is America’s Mentor for Teens. He teaches the “Rules of the Road: Business, Finance, Life” to teenagers who want to gain the “keys” to their life.

He has created the Relationship Building System for Teens which is delivered in a 144-page illustrated novel titled, Bully, and he invites you to take advantage of incredible pricing and additional offers at his site


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Note From Wil: This is a guest post from Kelly Austin, a writer with  Much of what Miss Austin writes today should sound familiar to many readers. Much of her advice today can also be found in various articles right here on F4Y:TB. I include her take for those newer readers who might not have read some of those older posts.

I like to include the writings and opinions of as many people as I can.  If you want to contribute to Finance For Youth: The Blog, send me an email:

Personal finance is one subject that does not get enough attention in the education system, so it is up to parents to raise financially literate children. Here are five actions that you can do to help teach your teenager about personal finance.

Get a job: Encourage your teen to find a part-time job so that he learns the value of work and develops a good work habit. Giving allowances is okay, but adults have to work for their money; no one just gives money to them. Help your teen look for a paper route, babysitting job or a job at the local fast food joint. Working ten to fifteen hours a week while in high school will help them learn to prioritize their time and earn money for their spending and savings needs.
(Note from Wil:  I talk about this very topic HERE!)

Open a Checking Account: Your teen probably has a savings account but it’s good to get him a checking account so he can deposit and use his hard-earned cash. You can get your name put on the account so that you can oversee his transactions. Let him get a debit card and teach him to balance his account regularly. Even if he messes up and gets an overdraft charge, it’s better to do it now than to rack up thousands in credit card charges and fees as an adult.
(Note from Wil:  I talk about this very topic HERE!)

Make A Budget: Once your teen has a job, show him how to make a balanced budget. The expenses must equal (or at least less than) the income otherwise he’ll go into debt. Allocate extra money to savings goals. If your teen doesn’t have a job, you might consider giving him a lump sum of money equal to what you usually give him annually (or quarterly) for his clothing and entertainment expenses. Then it’s up to him to spend it appropriately. Do not bail him out if he wastes it. The best thing you can do is to give him some household chores so he can earn some money.
(Note from Wil:  I talk about this very topic HERE!)

Read A Good Personal Finance Book: There are a few great books that teach personal finance and are enjoyable for teens. Consider giving your teen a copy of Dave Ramsey‘s Total Money Makeover or Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi is also great for teens as it was written when he was just out of college and has a writing style that appeals to a younger audience.
(Note from Wil:  I personally don’t agree that all of these books or authors are great, but that’s my opinion.  For a F4Y friendly book, You can always go with THIS ONE!)

Set Short and Long Term Financial Goals: Your teen will likely have a long list of needs and wants. Help him to prioritize them and set short and long-term savings goals. Short term goals might be saving for a concert, buying a car or new computer. Long term goals will likely be college, an apartment or car upgrade.
(Note from Wil:  This is the name of the game!  I talk about this everywhere online and in Finance For Youth: The Book!)

This guest article was contributed by Kelly Austin from Visit her site for information about salary and benefit information for many popular careers.

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Ever thought that you would want to write for Finance for youth: The blog? Maybe you are a writer who wants to reach a few more readers. Maybe you are a money person who has something to add to the discussion. Maybe you are a young person who wants to share your point of view or the point of view of youth in general. Hell, maybe you are some crank who wants to prove to the world how stupid I am and how much smarter you are than me!

Who knows what your motivation is, but you are feeling the urge to jump on your computer or grab a notebook and a pen and start writing. Writing can be a lot of work, but it can also be very rewarding, especially if you get the chance to write about something as universally important as personal finance. So if you think you’ve got a great article in you that you are dying to get out there, I have only two words for you.

Do it!


Send me your best article about youth issues, finance, education, or fun! If it’s good enough, I’ll put it up, along with a link to your site as my post of the week. You’ll get full credit; I’ll get to read some awesome new writers’ works. Everybody wins!

Of course, to keep this all honest, there are a few things I need to make clear:

  1. Since I don’t charge for people to read the blog, I don’t pay people to write for it. If I use your piece, you are getting exactly what I get out of it. You get exposure for your work and the means to reach and potentially influence my audience. As I said, I’m more than willing to put up a link to your other work on another site.
  2. I am a lot of things. I am a writer, a teacher, and a financial advice provider. Notice that I didn’t list “editor” as one of the things that I am. I’m not in the business of editing your submissions. If I have time to spare and an interest in seeing your particular submission on F4Y:TB, I might engage in a dialog with you where I present suggestions that I think will make your article better, but chances are better that I won’t. Generally, I will either use it as it is presented to me, or I will reject it. Either way, I won’t leave you hanging. You’ll know ASAP whether or not I’ll be using your article.
  3. I’m not the language police, but I don’t like gratuitous profanity or vulgarity. Nothing pisses me off more than having to sift through a bunch of s–T to get to a decent f—ing article. Got it? If absolutely integral to the article, I can see looking the other way, but I’ll make that decision when it comes up.
  4. I’m only one guy with a blog. I’m more than happy to share whatever resources I have to get your article seen by as many people as possible, but you have to do your part as well. I expect that contributors will do some sort of advertising on their own. Post announcements on your other sites, tell your friends, stand outside the Starbucks with a sandwich board; whatever it takes to let people know to read your article.
  5. Do yourself a favor and read F4Y:TB before you get all type-happy. You’ll start to get a feel for what I stand for and what Finance For Youth is all about. I’m not going to post an article that goes against what I stand for or what my brand represents. In other words, if you are advocating something that goes against my Qualities of Success, chances are good that you get a quick TNT e-mail.
  6. I will only entertain original work. Don’t try to pass of “recycled” posts from other writers or link farms.

So those are my rules. But what does it take to get your article read and posted? Well, there are no hard, fast rules here, but the basic things I’m looking for are accuracy, personality, and relevance. That being said, there are some suggestions that will help you get your work read, whether here or elsewhere. These are some things I like to see:

  1. While brevity is the essence of good communication, don’t sacrifice quality or completeness for a shorter post.  Give the reader the whole idea.
  2. My best posts, and the best posts I have read always tell the reader a little about the writer.  Let’s face it, there isn’t much new about personal finance.  The only thing that separates a factually accurate post that is dreadfully dull and one that is good is personality. I want to be able to see yours.
  3. Give your post a hook.  You want to tell me about your journey from bankruptcy to financial independence?  Great!  Make it sound like an epic like The Iliad! Want to give the readers rules for being financially smarter than the average young person, write a limerick that is easy to learn and remember.
  4. Pictures might not hurt.  Especially if they are funny and add/or to the story.
  5. I’m big on humor!  I’m just saying.
  6. Be as entertaining as possible. Give me a reason to want to read what you write.
  7. Hot chicks always get their stuff read faster!  Of course I am kidding, and do not use physical beauty or gender as criteria for submissions.  See number 5 above!

If, after reading this, you still think you’ve got something to say that my readers want to hear, send me your article, any pictures you want included, a paragraph or two about yourself, and if possible, a picture of yourself to include with the article to I will read any submissions received in the order I receive them and will communicate with the author to let them know whether or not I will use their article ASAP!

While I was writing this, I stumbled upon a great song by one of my favorite bands, cake.  I saw this awesome video, done by youtube user camillathethrilla that really fits in with the whole writing thing;  unfortunately, Sony and Youtube are full of dickness and the video won’t play from this site.

So, instead I present Greenday singing about one of the best known books ever!  Enjoy!



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A while back, I went to a doctor for a minor medical issue. The doctor gave me some medicine and instructions that I needed to stay away from salt, sugar, cheese, bread, pasta, rice, soda, in short, anything with flavor or anything that is appetizing.  I was admonished to increase my intake of vegetables, especially of the green, leafy type, such as that found covering the “lawn” area.  I wondered if this were general advice or advice specific to what I came in for. Unfortunately, my wife was in the room, rendering the point moot. Since she is in charge of shopping and meal preparation, I knew my goose was cooked, if uneaten.

My wife and I have had several “heated” discussions about the subject, with the end result being me losing and eating another bowl of spinach.  But being the skeptic I am (not to mention my desire for a bowl of chili-cheese-fries) I did a little research.  What did my research reveal?  The short answer is nothing that was going to get those fries any closer to my belly. 

I found that this doctor’s advice was pretty standard advice for the whole medical group he works for.  This is their company line.  I also found that it fit right in with a speech made by Michelle Obama about eating tasteless food around the same time as my doctor.  So far suspicious, but not enough for the fries, but I’m getting closer.  I did some research on the recommended treatment, and while the course of medicine was listed, there was no indication of dietary change needed.  Still not enough.  Because I know the doctor isn’t going to give me deliberately bad advice, getting those fries didn’t look to likely.  Then my wife asked the worst question possible: 

“Well, is doing what he said going to hurt you?”


Okay, I lost the practicality battle.  But in doing so, I was reminded of part of why I started Finance For Youth in the first place. 

Very recently, American Express has opened a website called “Get Currency”.  This is the latest in youth-centric financial “education” sites put up by a major finance player.  Bank of America offers “education” as does Wells Fargo and several other major players.  There has been a lot of activity on Twitter recently surrounding American Express Get Currency. 

I’m not making any judgements as to how good or bad Get Currency is.  I haven’t done any of the research on it.  I know a lot of bloggers are jumping on the bandwagon.  Many of these bloggers are bloggers that I enjoy reading and interacting with.  My concern is in the concept of getting education in making sound financial decisions from a company that profits when I make poor financial decisions.

One reason I started Finance For Youth, and why I decided to write FINANCE FOR YOUTH: THE BOOK is because I couldn’t stand by and see banks and other financial institutions pass advertising off as “education”.  It isn’t right.  I also think the threshold has to be higher than “is it going to do any harm?” 

Let’s look at it this way:  Would you take diet advice from a fat person?  How about from McDonald’s?  Would you take driving tips from Maaco?  Yet day after day, we take financial education from those who profit from us staying uneducated.  Now, am I saying that these sites are inherently bad?  Nope.  There’s an old saw that says, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”  So there will probably be some great advice in there.  But I’m still weary of taking financial advice from a company that makes profit from you not knowing smart financial choices.

I know my doctor will have a problem with this, but I’m taking anything I read from Amex’ Get Currency with a huge grain of salt.

You should also consider being skeptical when given advice.  Here are a few things to look at.

  • What’s in it for them?
    • Good advice is good advice, but if someone stands to profit significantly more if you follow them than if you don’t, be cautious.
  • What’s in it for you?
    • Some of these groups appeal to something you want or feel you need to give you “advice”.  Be sure that the advice will stand up and be right even if you don’t succumb to your wants.
  • Who is giving the advice?
    • On the other side of this, as I said before some bloggers that I have a lot of respect for are jumping on the bandwagon on Get Currency.  Maybe that’s a point in favor of it for you.  People you respect generally have earned that respect. 

At the end of the day, any advice, any website, any Personal Finance guy or gal might have something worthwhile to say.  Don’t jump in with both feet.  Be cautious, especially when anybody tells you “jump in with both feet!”.  When you start disagreeing with the advice, stop listening to the advisor.  Get more than one point of view.

Of course, with all this talk of salt, how could I not show one of the best composers out there doing one of the most fun songs from a movie?

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Sorry in advance for this getting stuck in your melon.


My posting has been really spotty for a while now, and I should apologize for that.  While I haven’t been to as many places as my friend Carmen, I’ve been a pretty dam busy beaver . 

First, I’ve been working a lot.  That’s great news!  As I’ve posted in the past few posts, my students are challenging.  I have to remember that many of them got to where they are by their own actions.  But the truth is, as important as F4Y is, as important as a lot of things are, when you see students like the ones I have been working with, you find yourself getting tired and not wanting to be “out there” on the interwebs too much.

Second, I think I accidentally quit smoking.  I never intended to quit, I didn’t particularly want to quit, but as of today, I haven’t had a cigarette in, like a week and a half.  Please don’t comment on how great that is, or how much better life is or anything like that.  I almost feel like I did something wrong.  I was sick, and I couldn’t smoke even if I wanted to.  As I got better, I just kept not smoking.  It wasn’t traumatic like all the stories tell you.  I never went through any moments like this:    So maybe I didn’t quit after all.  I’m still waiting to see if this is going to work.

Third, I did a post for IAAM.COM about buying cars.  The post, HOW TO DECIDE ON NEW OR USED CAR is one of what might become many for this group.  Feel free to click on through, read the article, and post comments.  I’ll wait for you here.

Everybody back?  Good.  While I haven’t been posting much, I have been out there on Facebook and Twitter (by the way, if you haven’t already done so, friend request me and let me know you saw this post).

I’ve also been plugging my book, available on  Check out FINANCE FOR YOUTH:  THE BOOK for yourself and for a friend.  Speaking of friends, MONEYMONK has been gracious enough to read my book and review it.  I think she was very fair in her review.  She says, “Mainly for teens”, and she’s right.  I appreciate her taking the time to do what she did.

Finally, I’ve been spending some time with my family.  I’ve played Rockband with my in-laws (talk about strange experiences), I still visit my parents every week, and I’ve concentrated on being the best teacher, son, husband, uncle, brother, stylist, driver, illustrator, sous chef, nursemaid, etc, etc, etc that I can be.

I feel bad about how I started this post.  To make it up, let me end it by saying simply,

Let there be lights…,

Let there be sound…,

Let there be drums…,

Let there be guitar…,


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