Teaching kids money and investing fundamentals


teach kids about money image credit: Good Search

In the Wall Street Journal, I came across an article about Judith Ward, a financial adviser, who shared her experience teaching her children to save and invest money.

The steps in this article were very familiar to me. My mom did much of the same for me that Judith did with her kids. My mom isn’t a financial adviser, and you don’t need to be, either. Just remember: KISS, Keep It Simple, Sweetie. Don’t overwhelm your kids with the details, or scarcity stories.

Judith opened savings accounts for her kids when they were in elementary school. She’d take her kids to the bank to make their deposits and review their monthly statements with her.

As a child, I’d often gone to the bank with my mom and seen her deposit money into her account. She’d give short lessons, without me knowing announcing, “This is a lesson.” She’d say things like, “I put money in so we can buy food/clothing/Girl Scout uniform when we need it.” When I was thirteen, my mom took me to the bank and I opened my own savings account. I’d save money from the jobs I had—ironing and babysitting, and we’d make trips to the bank together to deposit our money. When I got a bank statement, mom showed me how to read it. I loved the reward of seeing the amounts go up!

As Judith’s children grew older, she’d show them her paychecks, and her monthly bank statements with them as a learning tool. She’d also share her investment statements with them.

My mom didn’t show me that information, but she did tell me things like, “Every little bit of savings makes a difference for now, and the future.”

Judith shared how she explained to her son, now 23, how to invest when he opened up a retirement account. If he invested every month—whatever the market was doing, he’d get fewer shared if the market was up, and but more shares if it was down. That’s known as dollar-cost averaging, but she, didn’t use fancy financial adviser terms on her son. She used what he could understand, and because it made sense, he’ll probably stick to saving money.

How do you talk to your kids about money? Are you trying to teach someone how to budget, or invest? Or, are you in process of learning yourself? KISS. KISS. KISS. Keep It Simple, Sweetie.

 

Movies on the Cheap


movie-theater

image credit: Good Search

Walt Disney has said it will lose $190 million on movie, “The Lone Ranger” this quarter.

While you won’t personally experience that sort of loss by going to a dud movie, you can still avoid feeling ripped off from paying top dollar at the movies when there’s a way around it.

Here are some ways to search for discounts at the movie theater:

Can’t find the movie you like at the library? Tired of renting movies, or watching NetFlix on your computer? If you have kids, or want a retro-experience, try a drive-in theater. Search on-line for a drive-in near you.

If you’d rather drive home without that popcorn smell, check out your local movie houses. You can catch a matinee, or weekend show. If you’re a senior, student, or military and show I.D., you can often get a discount. An AAA card will sometimes get you in for less, too. with the movie theater. If your company participates in an employee discount program, you may be able to get discount tickets through the Human Resources department. Living near Costco has perks beyond the availability of getting pallets of Cheetos. Movie tickets are often at least 20% less expensive at Costco than they are at the movie ticket window.

If you go to the same movie theater on a regular basis, ask if they have a loyalty program, or if they sell tickets in bulk at a discount? Do the math for loyalty programs: You earn one credit for every dollar you spend, and when you reach 150 credits, you get a free small popcorn. To keep this real easy, say you buy two tickets at $10 each. That’s $20 toward 150 credits ($150). This means you’ll need to buy fifteen movie tickets before getting your free small popcorn (the cost of half a movie ticket.) If you are a movie buff, and go to the same theater, then think of the popcorn as a token thank you—nothing else.

Occasionally, there will be a free advanced screening in town. Check on-line, your local media. You’ll pay, and pay more for any service charge for ordering on-line, or special movies like 3-D, or IMAX shows.

Some deal sites on-line like Groupon, and LivingSocial occasionally have movie bargains. My issue with sites like these is that people often spend more than they would originally in order to save money, and often, they get a bargain, then don’t use what they bought.

Go have fun, but spend your money consciously. That goes for you, too, Disney.

How Do You K.I.S.S.? (Simplicity)


keep-it-simple

Image credit: Good Search

One hand, everyone talks about simplicity. Slow down, more is less and be present. On the other hand, life is full of “To-Do” Lists. Even before we get into the items on the list that can instill guilt (things like eat healthy, exercise, stay within a budget) we face US and THEM items. How do you rank in taking care of you as well as taking care of others?

How do you k.i.s.s.? (keep it simple, sweetie.)

I don’t mind vacuuming, ironing, washing windows, or painting walls. I remember sharing in exasperation one evening, “I hate drying and putting away silverware!” After laughter died down, I was asked, “What do you want to do?” I’ll wash dishes. I’ll unload the dishwasher—except the silverware.” It was one of the easiest deals I’ve ever made, and it made both of us happy.

If you make your kids’ lunch every day, and hate doing it, ask yourself, “Is there someone else who can do this?” How old are your kids? Is your partner/spouse willing to do it? Have you asked them to help, or to swap a chore?

Are you making their lunch, then buying yours? Are you okay with doing that from a budget, health, and calorie standpoint? If not, plan ahead. Make enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch, and as you clean-up after dinner, pack your lunch into your lunch box container.

Find a way that makes you happy. If you’re not happy, and you’re making a meal, some-body is ingesting that energy of hating making it. Eeek! Good reason to bless your food! Same goes for restaurants. You don’t know what sort of energy is in the kitchen. If you’re keeping it simple by eating out, take a moment before eating it to bless your food.

Are you one of the growing households that cook your dog a fresh chicken or beef dinner? I know someone who does this—and the food the people eat may as well be—dog food! Food expiration dates, to-go meals, eating standing up rather than sitting at the table. If the dog out lives them, I hope he keeps the maid! Keep is simple, sweetie. Both you and Fido deserve to be healthy, and get your run-around at the park, not doing chores.

Have you just vacuumed? Quick! Invite some friends over! Or, first invite someone over so it’s motivation to vacuum. It’s a two-for-one that way. You don’t have to re-arrange the furniture to vacuum, just zip here and there, and it’ll add some wow appeal to the room. It’s not a full-on clean, it’s a simple way to keep things looking nice.

Have you started your holiday gift giving list? Maybe this is the year you really do say, “I’m having a party, and that’s my gift to everyone.” Or, in honor the names of your friends/family, you donate to Toys for Tots, Heifer International, or some other organization. Maybe you decide to make a list of 25, 50, 100 “reasons why I love you.” It doesn’t cost a penny, but I’ve been told, “That was one of the best gifts anyone has ever given me.”

Whatever you do—from making lunch to gift giving, do it consciously. If you don’t enjoy doing it, find another way. If it’s overwhelming, take a step back. Breathe.

 K.I.S.S.. Keep It Simple, Sweetie.

Teaching kids money and investing fundamentals


teach kids about money image credit: Good Search

In the Wall Street Journal, I came across an article about Judith Ward, a financial adviser, who shared her experience teaching her children to save and invest money.

The steps in this article were very familiar to me. My mom did much of the same for me that Judith did with her kids. My mom isn’t a financial adviser, and you don’t need to be, either. Just remember: KISS, Keep It Simple, Sweetie. Don’t overwhelm your kids with the details, or scarcity stories.

Judith opened savings accounts for her kids when they were in elementary school. She’d take her kids to the bank to make their deposits and review their monthly statements with her.

As a child, I’d often gone to the bank with my mom and seen her deposit money into her account. She’d give short lessons, without me knowing announcing, “This is a lesson.” She’d say things like, “I put money in so we can buy food/clothing/Girl Scout uniform when we need it.” When I was thirteen, my mom took me to the bank and I opened my own savings account. I’d save money from the jobs I had—ironing and babysitting, and we’d make trips to the bank together to deposit our money. When I got a bank statement, mom showed me how to read it. I loved the reward of seeing the amounts go up!

As Judith’s children grew older, she’d show them her paychecks, and her monthly bank statements with them as a learning tool. She’d also share her investment statements with them.

My mom didn’t show me that information, but she did tell me things like, “Every little bit of savings makes a difference for now, and the future.”

Judith shared how she explained to her son, now 23, how to invest when he opened up a retirement account. If he invested every month—whatever the market was doing, he’d get fewer shared if the market was up, and but more shares if it was down. That’s known as dollar-cost averaging, but she, didn’t use fancy financial adviser terms on her son. She used what he could understand, and because it made sense, he’ll probably stick to saving money.

How do you talk to your kids about money? Are you trying to teach someone how to budget, or invest? Or, are you in process of learning yourself? KISS. KISS. KISS. Keep It Simple, Sweetie.

What Kids Cost


Inside of a classroom with back to school on the chalkboard

image credit: Good Search

57% of families with kids under the age of 18 have two working parents. Instead of seeing it as a double edge sword, see the good that comes out of it. The cost of back to school shopping this year—according to National Retail Federation, averaged $604. Approximate break down of: Clothing $200, Supplies $90, Shoes $100, Electronic Devices $200. From that stand point, two working parents is wonderful.

Sometimes, even with two people pulling in paychecks, it’s hard to feel like it’s worth it. When is date night? It doesn’t have to be an expensive night out. It can even be stay at home and use the good silverware and candles, or decorate the table, or a room for a change of atmosphere instead of going out.

Meet for a picnic lunch if you work near each other. I used to work with a couple who would always bring real plates and silverware, and homemade leftovers for lunch all packed in their picnic basket. They made leftovers seem like a fancy meal, but it was easy, and didn’t cost them anything extra.

Are you trying to teach teens about money? Give them an idea of what it cost to raise kids, especially if you’re not wanting to be the Saturday night babysitter, or in the position to be the daycare. They may hear you say, “That’s expensive!” Or “We don’t have that kind of money” but your actions may or may not match your words, especially when push comes to shove. I’ve known parents who become baby sitter, and buy food the the new couple starting a family. If you don’t want that to be you talk about the expense of teens having kids, and how it adversely effects so many involved.

Sit down with them and talk about the cost of raising a baby from pregnancy through first year $4,294.; Monthly cost to feed a family of four $1,014.; Average annual cost of child care for a 4-year-old in child care center $7,380.; Cost of raising a child born in 2010 until the age 18 (college not included) $226,920.; Annual tuition and fees at a public university (as of 2011) $8,240.

Is Debt a Deal-Breaker?


debt deal breaker Image credit: Good Search

You found The One! Perfect in every way. —Except they have debt. Is that a deal breaker for love?

According to Match. com, three out of four single Americans say they are turned off by excessive credit card debt. 46% of the women surveyed said they didn’t care how much their date spent on an evening out. (Match.com) My translation: It’s the quality of the relationship, not the quantity of money spent on a date.

Their in debt; you’re not. Does that mean the relationship is over?

It depends. Maybe your partner will never be as money savvy as you. Does that mean you walk? If they’re not willing to have a budget, clear the stars from your eyes. Their unwillingness to learn about deficits and surplus that will effect them—and you, are a red flag saying that they’re not willing to change at all. If you’re an excellent saver and are hard line, expecting miracles from someone who’s never had a budget, you may want to loosen up a bit on your ideal partner, or their ability to budget to your standards.

Are you both willing to sit down and talk about money, budgets and expectations you have of each other when it comes to money? (If they expect you to manage the household finances, are they willing to stick their budget so you can manage the money?) The money in many military homes is managed by women. Often, one spouse earns money, sends it home, and hopes when they get home the money has been spent/saved wisely.

Dating or married, have a written plan. If it’s not in writing, there’s nothing to go back to as a point of reference. If your relationship doesn’t have a strong foundation of mutual respect, don’t expect fibs and outright lies to bypass your finances. 30% of people admit lying to their partner about money. Ouch! (National Endowment for Financial Education)

If the divorce rate is around 50% why do only 3% of people with a spouse of fiancé have a prenuptial agreement? By talking about money ideals early in a relationship, there may be less push-back of a prenuptial being “unromantic”. Think of a marriage as part business deal, and the prenuptial holding promise of a future of love and commitment.

Is fresh better than flash frozen vegetables?


5 servings

Some people think fresh produce is the only way to get healthy produce. Not true. Sometimes, frozen or canned vegetables hold just as much—or more nutrients than fresh. They can also be lower is cost and easier to prepare. When I was going through chemo, my idea of preparing a meal was opening a can of white or black beans, a can of tomatoes, a can of corn, and adding pre-chopped celery and onion (thank you friends and family), and maybe spices like cumin or basil. When I was real low on energy, I’d ask someone else to open the cans. They loved this simple request! “Is that all you want me to do?” And depending on my energy level, my response was either, “Yes.” or “I’ll starve if you don’t.”

Vegetables retain their nutrients by how they’re processed or prepared. With flash freezing, vegetables hold their nutrients because soon after picking them, they’re boiled, then moved to ice water and drained before being frozen. Fruits are washed, slices and frozen. Canning uses heat treatment to destroy microorganisms that cause spoilage.

Both flash freezing and canning are done within 24 hours of produce being picked. This is known as “minimal processing.” Foods that are highly processed, including fruits and vegetables prepared with a lot of salt, sugar, or fat are known as “highly processed” foods. Examples are vegetables with cheese sauce, or canned fruit pie filling. If you can, add your own cheese to vegetables, and make your own pie filling. Look for frozen fruit without syrup and canned fruit packed in water or its own juice. Buy no-salt added versions of canned vegetables, or drain out the liquid from the regular kind, and rise a few times. Store brand canned or frozen items are often lower in price and same quality as name-brand.

However you get ‘em – Get ‘em! Five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will help keep you healthy and lower the risk of cancer.

Ways to be a better saver of money


save money

Image Credit: Google

According to Rand Corp. economists, in a study on money saving behavior from August 2012 to March 2013, people who wrote their money saving goals down saved 64%. People who did not write down their goals saved 53%. In this study, savers were given money and some of the savers were asked to write the following: “I am a good saver. I will commit myself to achieving my savings goals.” A third group in the study were those assigned to an account where they could not withdrawal any money over the next six months. That group saved even more than the other two.

If you want to save more, write it down, or share it with a trusted friend or family member. It seems to be the act of pledging to be a better saver that makes a person better at saving. People want to have their words and deeds match, especially if others know about a goal. Another sure way to set you up for success is to have some of your savings hard to get to.

Savings? Words matching deeds? Accountability? There’s an app for that! Yep. If you can’t come up with your own motivation to save, there’s an app and website Stickk.com by Yale behavioral-finance experts. With this app you can create a contract and share it with others. You can even include a penalty if you slack off. The penalty can be something like authorizing a credit card payment to a charity. Stickk.com has found that users who do share their goal with supportive people and chose to elect the penalty, have a success rate of 80%, while those who keep their goal of savings private succeed nearly 40% of the time.

You point the direction with your personal budget


arrowrightpngkey-benefits-from-three-budget-stages-30357 image credit: Good Search

Some people avoid having a budget out of fear it will rule them. No! YOU have far more control by having a budget, than without one. YOU direct how much, when, and where to allocate the money. Just put aside money and point your mind and actions in the direction you desire.

I’ve been called The Budget Queen for years. I recently learned that Margaret King of Philadelphia, PA reins as Queen Budget with a net worth of $850,000.

It began when she was a graduate student. Her budgeting formula? maximize money for investing. She lived within her means. Her life necessities (needs, not wants—things like utilities, food, housing) fit into 57% of her income. She set aside 10% for travel, and 3% to gift family and friends. That’s a total of 70%. The other 30% was for savings, investments, and paying down the principle on her mortgage.

Ten years ago, King paid off her home loan. Each month, her minimum payment was 15% more than what she owed. Once that money was freed up, she put that 15% into investments.

Don’t get caught up on her net worth. Don’t play the “yeah, but—” game. She did it! Awesome!

So can you! You can take budgeting seriously. You can save money. If you really don’t have extra money, don’t start with a goal of paying down 15% over your debt. If you say you don’t have the money, but are spending it elsewhere, then it’s time to look in the mirror and do some soul searching. The only way to manage something is to track it. By watching your spending, you’ll know where it’s going and that means you’ll know how much you have to spend or save.

King’s budget formula is basically the standard 70-10-10-10. Living on 70% of your net. Investing 10% to long term savings. Investing 10% to short term savings. And 10% for fun. This is where I encourage charity, and pull funds for fun from the short term savings. If someone’s in debt, they can use this last 10% for paying debt down. How you break it up doesn’t matter at all. What’s important is that you begin.

Every once in a while, I grab an envelop and for a month I keep track of all my receipts. If I spend money and forget a receipt, I write down the cost and what it was for on the envelop, or piece of paper and put that piece of paper in the envelop. At the end of the month I take a look at where my money’s going. I also check in with myself at a “real” level. Were there a bunch of things I could really do without? It’s not to punish, it’s to cross check desires and actions. If you say you want to save more money, or have more money—but you spend on immediate gratification, it’s not a match. Something has to give.

I am steeped in New Thought (law of attraction, act as if, affirmations, etc.) You cannot pray for money (or anything) and do nothing to draw it to you. Prayer or meditation may be part of that action, but at some point there will be a message for you to “treat and move your feet.” This is a metaphysical saying meaning, pray (sometimes called prayer treatment) and take action. Action begets action. Not action begets wishful thinking.

You can do it! Be the Budget Queen. Be the King within. As within, so without. It’s all about cause and effect. As our beliefs change, so do our experiences.

Fear or Dreams. What Motivates You to Save Money?


find money image credit: Good Search

I had a statistics professor in college who brought out the state lottery in class. “I don’t even mess with it until it’s over ten million.” Let’s remove some of the zeros from that. . . . What if you found ten dollars—what would you do with the money? What if fifty dollars was automatically deposited into your bank account every month? What would you do with that money?

What motivates you to save money? Is it fear of being without? Or, is it your dreams of  “one day” and “what if”? Do these aspects of motivation help you set goals, or pass through you thoughts until the next time.

Find out what motivates you. Fear or Desire. Decide to take a stand. If it’s fear and you’re not saving, then some may say you’re fooling yourself.  If your fear is not having enough, begin by putting aside money every single paycheck. You say you don’t have enough to do that. Do it anyway. Put aside even one dollar every paycheck. Do not label it “rainy day”; label it “savings”. You may scoff that one dollar isn’t enough. Hmmm… Funny. A second ago you didn’t have “enough” to save anything. You’ve got to prove to yourself there IS enough. Change your thinking, and change your life. Yes, even one dollar at a time.

If it’s desire and you take no action, you’ll never draw it to you. Sure, you may be gifted a car, or marry someone in “that” neighborhood, but that only goes so far. If you take action (and action begets action) you’ll change your consciousness, and by doing so, you’ll prove to yourself you don’t need someone else to save you —which opens the door for that good to come without strings, and enables you to share your good with others, too.

The on-line bank ING Direct (now Capitol One) allows customers to set up several savings accounts, and customers can name them. (Car, Travel, Financial Freedom, Life…) Happy saving!