Posts Tagged ‘Personal 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.

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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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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!

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Pop Quiz:

Question:    How do you get a giraffe into a refrigerator?

Question:    How do you get an elephant into a refrigerator?

Question:    The Lion King is hosting an animal conference where all the animals attend, except one. Which one doesn’t attend?

Question:    There is a river you must cross, but it is used by crocodiles. You have no boat. How do you get across?

Now, I’ve heard this as a really dumb, bad joke, and also as an ice-breaker for training. I’ve used these questions when hiring employees, but not necessarily in the way they are intended. Most people get most of these questions wrong, but we’ll get to that part later on.

The other day, as I was doing dishes, I noticed that the floor was really wet in front of the sink. After initially thinking F4Y: The Wife spilled water all over the floor (which she didn’t), I looked under the sink and noticed the cabinet floor was also soaked. To be fair, the sink wasn’t leaking profusely, but there was a steady drip when I would run water. There are words that grown-ups use when they are frustrated, and then there are words that the immature or the uncreative use. I used all of those words and I made up a few new words. I had some problems.

1.    I needed to call a plumber to fix my sink.

2.    I needed to talk to my landlord because technically fixing this problem is his problem.

3.    I still had a sink full of dishes that needed to be washed.

4.    I hated my house because there is always something wrong.

5.    I didn’t want to talk to my landlord because I knew he’d say something that might make me explode and move out (which would be really stupid considering how long we’ve been there, how reasonable the rent really is, and how the house has some good things going for it like a really large yard for entertaining).

The teacher in me wanted to look at this as I would any other word problem, but I couldn’t see how being able to figure out the markup on a sweater or how to calculate the area of a trapezoid would be helpful here.

The dude in me wanted to set the place on fire and blame a faulty wire, but then I’d have a whole new set of problems, including finding a new place to live and paying alimony on a teacher’s salary because I destroyed my wife’s sofa.

The Personal Finance guy in me decided on fixing the most important problem that I had the power to fix right then. My problem was that water was dripping on my floor. This was something I could change immediately. I took an aluminum pan and put it under the pipe that was leaking so I could finish the dishes without doing further damage to the floor.

So stupid it’s simple.

So simple it’s stupid.

Too often, I read stories about readers who are just drowning in problems dealing with their finances. My heart breaks for them. I try to give the help and advice that I can, and I know my friends in the PF world do the same. But sometimes, and I’m guilty of this too, we tend to over-think the solution or lose focus on the real problem. In fact, I bet many of you reading this initially thought that I should call my landlord first. Great advice, but it wouldn’t have solved anything immediately. I still had a sink full of dishes that needed to be done, and I still had a pipe that was dripping on my floor. Some people might have suggested calling the plumber first. That still wouldn’t have solved my most immediate problem immediately.

So when you read stories, or hear from your friends or family members, and they ask you for some advice, remind them to stick to the most important problem that they can solve at that time, and put off dealing with problems that you can’t solve, or problems that the solutions won’t solve your problem.

Back to our animal friends:

I’m going to give you the answers and the reasoning behind each. Again, this sounds trite and a little silly, but if you actually listen to the rationale, and try to put it in practice with other questions, you’ll find that many problems wind up being much simpler to solve than you initially thought.

Answer One:        You open the door, put the giraffe in, and close the door.

This question tests to see if you do simple tasks in a complicated way.

Answer Two:        You open the door, take the giraffe out, put the elephant in, and close the door.

You probably said, “Open the door, put the elephant in, and close the door.” Sounds good, but you have to deal with the giraffe in the last question. This question checks to see whether you are able to think through the consequences of previous actions.

Answer Three:    The elephant. You put him in the refrigerator earlier, remember?

This question tests your memory.

Answer Four:        You jump in the river and swim across; perfectly safe because the crocodiles are at the Lion King’s meeting.

This question tests to see if you learn from earlier mistakes. You over-thought the other questions already; hopefully you figured it out by the last questions.

When talking about elephants, there is only one song that fits in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

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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: wil@finance4youth.com

  • “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 www.RulesoftheRoadforTeens.com.


 

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Note From Wil: This is a guest post from Kelly Austin, a writer with http://www.highersalery.com.  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:
wil@finance4youth.com.

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 www.highersalary.com. Visit her site for information about salary and benefit information for many popular careers.

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FIRST, I told you about my parents‘ views on giving an allowance. To recap, they didn’t believe in giving money to children. They paid for everything we needed, but keeping money on our own was an exercise in creativity, subterfuge, and even on occasion shenanigans. Looking back, I think they might have been on to something because the majority of their children are gainfully employed and work our asses off for every cent we have. We also have learned to be savvy about protecting what is valuable to us. So, there are trade-offs to be made, but overall not a bad solution.

LAST WEEK, we talked about the concept of paying kids an allowance based on chores they do around the house. We found out that some of the biggest personal finance people out there like this idea. I, in typical Wil fashion, didn’t like that idea at all. Generally, I’m against turning family members into employees to the household. I think there are chores that need to be done at home, and offering kids money to do what they should be doing anyways just invites lazy, self-centered children in the future. It creates children that grow up to be gold diggers.

So what is left? Well, one argument that I’ve heard a lot about is just to pay kids an allowance because you want to pay them an allowance. No strings attached. This seems like the most honest approach. You don’t want your kids to go and earn money on the streets, where you plan on them learning about sex and drugs, so you want to keep them from opening that lemonade stand or selling pictures of their teenaged sister to the boys at school (wasn’t that an actual plot line in some 80’s movie?). You also don’t want to raise those aforementioned lazy self-centered little bastards, but you do want to start teaching your children how to handle the money they have wisely. So why haven’t I endorsed this method yet?

We’ve learned throughout history that money is a lot of things. Money has been attributed to each of the following things:

-Time

-Root of all evil

-Power

-Makes the world go round

-Talks

Later on in life, we learn that money has value, and part of teaching anybody how to handle money is to teach them to not make deals where both parties don’t benefit. Going back a couple weeks, my parents avoided making deals. They had expectations, and consequences for not meeting those expectations. One could argue, and I wouldn’t disagree, that we benefitted when we met those expectations because we didn’t have to suffer the consequences and we generally got stuff. My parents benefitted because their expectations were met which gave them a sense of pride in their children.

 

In the second example, the benefits are pretty well pronounced. They get stuff done, we get money. Simple, tidy.

 

In the last example, you take away the value of money for your children. If they don’t learn that money has value now, they will not understand that it has value later in life either. You actually create the opposite of a gold digger. You create children who don’t understand the concept of earning money.

 

After all that, after three weeks of talking about allowances, each method of determining how to pay allowances has serious, fatal flaws. It turns out that they all suck to one extent or another! So what is a parent to do?

Never fear, I’m here to help.

In order to most effectively handle the issue of children’s allowances, you need to do some hard work. That’s right; I said YOU have to do some hard work. First, you need to establish minimum standards that you expect your little ones to meet. These standards need to be appropriate for both age and developmental level. Second, you need to clearly communicate these expectations to your child so that there is absolutely no doubt. Whether you need a whiteboard chart to be posted on the fridge, or you need your older child to sign a contract acknowledging the minimum standards in grades, behavior, housework and chores, community involvement or any other criteria, make sure your kids understand what is the least you will accept.

Second, you need to establish privately what is the value you will ascribe to exceeding your minimum standards. For example, let’s say I’m slightly less stringent than AMY CHUA
when it comes to academics. I only expect my kids to earn B- or higher. That’s their baseline. Now, my kid decides to overachieve and earn a B+. I might pay for that, if he has met all my other standards. Similarly, I expect my child to make her bed every day as the bare minimum in housework (I’m so much nicer to my imaginary daughter than my imaginary son; he has to clean the grout between shower tiles!). If she makes her bed and washes dishes (which isn’t assigned to anybody already), that might be worth something to me. The amount you pay must also be appropriate for your child’s age, developmental level, and your expendable, discretionary income.

Third, you need to communicate your pricing scheme to your children, but make it clear that they have to meet the bare minimum in all areas before any allowance can be earned. Your goal is to teach kids that some things just need to be done as part of their daily routine, just like in adult life, but other things will be done for money. Eventually, kids will start doing additional work on their own, in order to earn extra money. Ideally, they will approach you and negotiate a price that is fair to you and to them for certain things. Sometimes that price is zero, indicating that you believe that they should just do whatever as a matter of course, but others will be worth money.

Fourth, you have to be consistent. That doesn’t mean that you can’t increase your expectations, but until you do so, you have to pay the same amount for the same work every time.

Fifth, you have pair any money going to your child with solid education as to what to do with that money. Many people believe in giving to a church or a charity. If that is your thing, you need to educate your child as to the importance of doing so and the reasons why you are making them do so. Part of that education must include some level of allowing the child to make decisions on what they want to do with their money. I have no problem with telling your kid that they can spend only 10% of their allowance on frivolous things, but that should come with guidance that they don’t have to spend that 10% each payday, and that they can choose to save that money for something big that you wouldn’t necessarily buy for them yourself.

Doing this will start your child on a path to becoming financially independent and fiscally literate without spoiling them or forcing them to hide their money and their decisions from you.

 

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