Posts Tagged ‘finance’

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.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

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

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Quick! Name three things that are handy to always keep around! Just name the first three things you can think of.

You probably came up with a bunch of things. As I tried it, keeping in mind that I wanted to limit it to three, I came up with my Leatherman© tool, some sort of a conveyance for water (like a cup, bowl, or pot), and a writing instrument.

Then I started to pick that idea apart.

 

What good does a pen do if I’m in the

middle of the ocean?


 

How about a pot if I’m in a crashing

airplane?


 

I realized that the three things that I thought were important, quite often, weren’t. Most of you could probably review the first 30 things on your list, instead of the first 3 and come to the same conclusion.

Pretty simple once you think of it, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong, but the truth is nothing is always useful all the time.


 

If it’s true for

 “stuff”, what

 about for financial advice?


 

Well, put simply, yes.

One problem that many people have when trying to either set things right or get out of financial problems is that their circumstances might be different that those the author had in mind when he or she came up with the advice in the first place. Because they are so desperate for success or even just progress, they follow the advice regardless of how relevant it is for their situation. They do it unquestioningly, and when they inevitably get setback or fail, they begin to blame the messenger instead of the fact that they were following great advice, just at a different time.

Is there any way to make the professionals’ advice useful all the time?

Well, if you have the kind of access that allows you to be in personal contact with somebody, you can ask the question you need answered and the advice given should be useful. Of course, if you had direct access to a personal finance professional and you were still able to manage getting yourself into trouble, perhaps advice isn’t what you need.

You could also hope that the person you get your advice from is prolific enough to have covered several topics from several different directions that you can find their thoughts on almost any subject. This might be one of the best ways to make sure you are following the best advice at the best time. This works, as long as you are willing to do the research to find the best answers to your questions.

A third way would be to find several sources by multiple people to answer your questions. Imagine how cool it would be to have a group of advisors instead of just one. Of course, having a chorus of voices sometimes makes it more difficult to hear the one you need when you need a quick answer.

Regardless of how you do it, you need to do your best to make sure that you aren’t left carrying a pen the next time you find yourself adrift in the middle of the ocean.

Speaking of having a chorus backing you up…, enjoy!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

A lot of stuff going on in the news lately. Some of it has been baked into the pie for years. For example, BofA, not a favorite of mine for several reasons, has decided to add a $5.00 monthly fee for checking accounts with debit card usage. I talked about the probability of this happening almost three years ago to the date, HERE. In a nutshell, Walmart and other large companies were being charged $.44 for the ability to accept card-based payment. This ability benefitted them greatly, but they didn’t like the fee that they had to pay the banks for these benefits. They lobbied a liberal Congress and appealed to the growing hatred of all things banking to make this fee go away. Elizabeth Warren, Senate candidate and populist firebrand also believed that these fees were wrong, and targeted them in her Consumer “Protection” …thing that has less to do with protection of consumers and more to do with screwing business. But this post isn’t about that—totally.

The BofA thing is enough to piss people off all by itself. Maybe enough for some youthful ne’er-do-well to say, “Screw this, I’m gonna make my voice heard and attack the people responsible!” I might be with you on that. I might take a trip with you to Illinois to pound on the office door of Mr. Durbin. I would easily back your play to go to your local Senator and give them a piece of your mind. Hell, I might go to Harvard or wherever Mz. Warren is housing her Senatorial bid from. Any and all of these would be wise choices, as would (obviously) protesting against Walmart, 7-11, and BofA. But you know where it doesn’t make sense to protest? Wall St. Any of the other number of places holding “Occupy _____” protests (every time I see the word “occupy”, I always think of a port-a-potty or other public restroom, but that’s beside the point). The young people are definitely hitting a target, but the target they are hitting isn’t the one that caused the damage.

This is a large-scale version of hitting the wrong target, but people do it in their everyday lives as well. It’s the fat guy who decides to cut out eating green food. Easy target, nobody likes green food, but it won’t help him (as a side note, I eat a decent salad every weekday, and twice on Tuesdays). It’s the young person with the femur sticking through their nose getting pissed off that there aren’t enough good jobs for young people. These are all funny enough, but sometimes it isn’t funny or even that out of the ordinary.

I know people who do the “extreme couponing” thing, and they save money on items they will either genuinely use or are planning on donating for a good cause. I got no problem with them, as long as I’m not sitting behind them in line at the grocery store. If you are doing something healthy and beneficial for you and your family, bless you for it. But some people go overboard. On the show, “Extreme Couponing” there are people who really have a sickness. Many of the people on this show will talk about how they are doing it for financial reasons. Many will talk about past events where they were deep in debt or facing foreclosure or bankruptcy. They found that they were able to significantly reduce their grocery bills. Their stories are no different than many others who aren’t on TV. So what do these people do next? Of course, they join collectives, buy tons of newspapers for the circular inserts, some even resort to dumpster diving or worse, outright theft. They are able to get a lot of groceries for a little money, but at what cost? How much time is spent saving cents instead of making sense?

Whenever you face a problem where you need to find a target to hit, look critically at it.

1. Will hitting this target solve a problem, or will it make me feel better about myself? Both are valid goals. Sometimes we need to take the “W” because we haven’t had one in a while. You need to be honest with yourself if this is the case. Eventually, if you keep aiming for the wrong targets, regardless of whether or not you hit them, your problems start becoming bigger than they were.

2. Is the target that I need to hit within reach? Sometimes problems are too big and too far away to deal with directly. Sometimes, you have to attack them in a progression from other directions.

3. Am I even able to see the target I need to hit? We all do it. Nobody is an expert on all things. We see a problem and we attack it like we are supposed to, but what if we can’t even see a problem? Every once in a while, you need to step back and decide if you are missing a problem that you shouldn’t. Maybe this means having a deep conversation with a loved one. Maybe it means going into a temporary isolation from people who tell you how great you are all the time. I mean, really! If you were as awesome as everybody says you are, you wouldn’t need to read F4Y! And you DO need to read F4Y.

4. Why am I aiming for THIS target now? Again, we all do it. We know something is wrong, but we don’t want to deal with that PARTICULAR issue right now. So we find something else that IS a problem that needs to be dealt with. Take caution here, because eventually you will run out of other problems to target.

Sometimes just hitting any target takes a lot of talent and skill.  When you hit those targets, you deserve for someone to tell you, “Nice shot, man”.  I prefer to hear it from Filter.  Enjoy!

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Last week, I was called in to teach a group of kids that are more difficult to teach than most. Many have already graduated from school, but are still forced to go because of their age. Many will never see the outside world as free men or women. Very few of them care about school at all. In short, they have nothing to lose by missing school, and not much to gain by going. The teacher that I was replacing had given a stock lesson in writing a specific kind of poetry.

School

Pointless wasted

Sucking, wasting, boring

Punks dorks teachers bitches

Sitting sleeping learning

Jail

That’s an actual example (near as I can remember from reading it) of what the students turned in. I can see why the other teacher didn’t want to deal with this class anymore.

When I found out that I was teaching this class, I knew I had to do something that would catch their interest, but that would still be educational and appropriate for them. I worked for most of the day and evening to come up with a kick-ass lesson that would be entertaining and educational. I had hundreds of pages to print out so that the kids could actually complete the assignment. Not wanting to waste my personal printer ink, I saved everything to DROPBOX so that I could print it out at work the next morning (by the way, if you don’t already have a Dropbox account, and you ever save any kind of file, you need one. Click on the link and you’ll get extra space when you sign up for an account. In fairness, I’ll also get a little free space, but I’d use the service regardless).

When I got to work, I learned that for some reason, my district’s internet security policy blocks Dropbox access. No worries, I could use my phone and print remotely to a printer. No dice there either, since the printers wouldn’t accept a connection to print from my phone. I was getting a little worried, since I realized that I was well and truly screwed.

By the time I got to class, I had about two minutes to think of something, or face the very real possibility of a minor riot on my watch. Luckily, I try to have a backup plan for whenever my first two (or three, but whatever) ideas crap out. I learned this by virtue of being caught many times with no plan, and having to pay the consequences. To make a long story end, my backup worked, possibly better than my original plan would have, and I was told by the sheriffs’ staff that I was one of the best teachers to have dealt with these kids.

I told you that for a couple of reasons. Number one, I was really impressed with myself and I wanted to brag a little. Number two, and more importantly, I did it because the lesson I learned and demonstrated has real-world application when it comes to personal finance.

Everybody tells you to keep a small, liquid fund to use in case of an emergency. Most people will say six months worth of expenses should cover you. But what happens if your emergency keeps you away from the bank or safe-deposit box, or wherever you keep it for a few days? What do you do then? One quick way you can protect yourself is by also keeping a small (very, very small) stash of cash within easy access. When I say small, which is the operative word here, I mean just enough to help you survive for a weekend or a few days until you can access your emergency fund if needed.

While we’re talking about emergency funds, what happens when you have exhausted your emergency fund completely? In today’s economy, being out of work more than six months is more the norm than the exception. If the worst ever happens, and you have exhausted your emergency fund, you will still need money. I suggest planning ahead. While you are building your emergency fund, you are putting some money towards it every pay-period. Let’s assume that an emergency doesn’t happen right away. Transfer one month of your emergency fund into something a little longer in term, with a higher interest rate. Keep making your contributions till you have replenished it. As you do this, you are building a bubble for when you run out of emergency “cushion”. If you have a problem with saving, you are also building a painless nest-egg for the future.

At work, you like your job, but what happens if you were the last hired, and your company needs to lay someone off (hint: In most cases, you are screwed). While you are working, in addition to saving your emergency fund, as we’ve discussed above, start building skill sets that will help you to be able to find a job sooner. This may mean formal schooling, or this may mean polishing your resume’ so that your skills and abilities are properly showcased.

At home, stock up on non-perishable foods and water in case of a natural disaster. With the summer we just had, with earthquakes in the east, hurricanes in the south, and floods everywhere, stores are running out of basic supplies. Those people who are prepared, are able to “weather the storm”. But what if something happens to your stored food? Maybe this is a good time for you and your community or your family to work out a plan where everybody contributes for a larger group to survive.

Look, I’m not trying to scare you, but shit happens. Sometimes, you are prepared and you bring your umbrella. Sometimes, your umbrella breaks as soon as you open it. When this happens, you will be glad when you put a change of clothes in a bag for just such a situation. Are you going to be prepared for everything? Not even close, and I don’t recommend that you even try. Sometimes, even the best prepared still lose in the end. I can’t stop that, but you can limit your exposure to losing by having a few backup plans ready should they be needed.

I believe it was Robert Burns who said:

“The best laid schemes of Mice and Men

Oft go awry

And leave us nothing but grief and pain,

For promised joy!”

Given my students, and the lesson I just re-learned and related, I can think of no better message than to be prepared. Enjoy!

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Much to the chagrin of kids everywhere, schools across the country are dusting off marker-boards, straightening out rows of scissors and rulers, and setting up disgustingly saccharine displays with scalloped, corrugated, border trim depicting ancient blackboards and apples. Parents are flocking to discount stores to buy paper and notebooks, malls to buy the newest fashion for their little models, and electronic stores to buy data sticks, tablet pc’s and the newest “i-device” from Apple.

As much fun as all that is, and I personally love the smell of new school supplies, what students need, almost more than new shoes with lights and skate-wheels in them, are strong study skills. I’m all for studying and study skills, but I think a lot of adults need them just as much when it comes to personal finances as their kids do. The following is a list of skills that will work just as well for students of history and math as they will for people looking increase their own financial literacy.  Advice for students is in red, while advice for personal finance is in blue. 

1. Tape a copy of study guides for classes somewhere that you will see it often. Maybe the inside of your locker, or even to the cover of the book for that class. Also put up copies near your computer at home, or in other places that you are sure to see them. Doing this helps you to study without making it a chore. You have the ability to read a few lines while you are doing normal, everyday things. Repetition of information is the best way to learn it.

1. Keep pictures of things that you want to have near your modes of spending. Saving up for a new motorcycle? Wrap a picture of your dream bike around your credit card. Want to be out of debt completely, try keeping a copy of your latest credit card statement, with the balance owed circled in red where you can see it. Don’t think of it as shaming yourself into not spending, but think of it as providing a visual incentive to make better spending choices.

2. Make an appointment to study. With soccer practice, football games, church meetings and whatever else goes on in life, (like ditching all that stuff to hang out at the mall with the hot person you want to be seen with by everyone but your parents), it’s easy to forget to make time for actual studying. Make an appointment so you make sure you have time to study. Of course, that’s only half the battle. The other half is for you to actually meet your appointment.

2. Just like students, you need to make an appointment to reconcile your statements, plan your budgets, and pay your bills. Mrs. Finance For Youth has a schedule where she wakes up on Saturday morning, boots up the computer, makes a cup of coffee, and proceeds to pay any bills that came in during the week, reconcile any spending that we have done, and makes plans for the next week (like writing rent checks to be delivered on time, or checks to the gardener, or even allowances for herself and yours truly). Having a set time takes away a lot of stress and uncertainty because she can focus what is truly important and not worry about it again throughout the rest of the week.

3. Start your study sessions with your most difficult subject first. When I was in school, there were some classes that came easy to me. Like almost anything but math. It made no sense to start by studying for P.E. (which basically meant playing outside anyways), or even English (which I was really good at for some reason), when I had a subject that was so much more difficult and therefore demanded more time from me. I never learned this trick in school, but I do suggest you start with that hard class and use studying for your favorite classes as a reward later on.

3. Start paying that ugliest bill first. Maybe it’s the one with the highest balance, or maybe it’s the one with the highest interest rate. It might even be the one you are furthest behind in paying. Whichever it is, try to knock it out first, so that you can see easier bills in the future.

4. This one should be a no-brainer, but show up to school every day. All the studying in the world is only going to get you so far. When you show up to class, you will get information that might not be in the study material. You also get the benefit of learning the information that the teacher is going to test you on. Personally, I frequently use the phrase, “So, if you see a question on the test that says…,” which I follow by giving the students the answer that I’m looking for.

4. Show up to work! In general, you get paid when and only when you work. Some people have time off for vacation for which they get paid, and sometimes you are just too sick to be any good, but for the most part, work=pay! Think long term. Maybe you can get away with not being at work every day right now, but when you are looking for that promotion, your boss will take your attendance into consideration. It may be that the difference between you and another employee is that you are known to show up to work and the other person is known to slack off.

5. Don’t try to cram! Okay, we’ve all done it, but it almost never works out well. Instead of pulling one all-nighter on Sunday, just before a huge test, block out an hour or two every day to study throughout the week. Doing so will increase the likelihood that you will retain important information, cause less harmful stress to your body and health, and ultimately put you in a more relaxed state where success is more attainable.

5. People sometimes try to cram personal finance knowledge too. It doesn’t work here either. If you are already in debt up to your ass (assuming you own livestock), or higher, you aren’t going to get out of it instantly. Set out a plan that allows you to survive, but that still attacks the problem. You need to give yourself space to be able to succeed, but you need to also build in room for the occasional, inevitable setback. What happens too often is that people try to cram in “smart” financial decisions to such an extent that they are bound to give up and fail.

For many parents, this is the first year that they are dealing with the whole school thing. For others, back to school just means another haircut and a picture of your little one standing outside the front door, dressed and ready to go to school. Try instead to share some great strategies with your children on how to be successful, whether by my tips above, or others that you might know from other places. Let them know that you are also going to start something new and exciting to help the family. Make school and personal finances whole family events where you all share the journey and the rewards. Your kid gets good reports for a month and you pay off one credit card bill? Go for a round of miniature golf or something that the whole family can enjoy!

Nothing says back to school like this video.  Enjoy!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine