Budgeting Goals for 2013


piggy bank Image Credit: Good Search

Happy new year! Now, stop eating, go to the gym and make a budget. Hello? Hey! Come on back here!

It doesn’t have to be hard or boring. None of it. It’s about allowing you to do the things you want to do. It’s about giving yourself permission, freedom—not limiting you.

Making a budget should be personal. It’s called Personal Finance. Personal comes first. You set the rules/goals. Having a budget and goals helps you reach your desired outcome. If all you do it put numbers on a piece of paper and you’re not a numbers person, you’ll find a budget boring and won’t be motivated to work it. For what are you saving? Is it a trip? Cut out some pictures of the place and include the experiences you want to have. Include photos of you smiling, money and symbols of a Higher Power —be it a sunset, dove, Krishna—something to remind you of hope and Infinite good available to you.

If you want a buddy to help keep you on track, agree to be accountability partners. Then do the numbers. You know what your rent/mortgage cost, and if you owe on your car. If your insurance is semiannually, divide by six and put it into your monthly expenses. Go through your expenses, even if you’re not positive what they run exactly. This is when an accountably partner is great. They can say, “Oh, I forgot to allow for vet bill expenses. Thanks for reminding me.” Don’t panic. It may take time before you have the unexpected aspects of your budget are covered, but do begin to think of your expenses and having the money for them. Build in a buffer zone for each category. Some months we eat more. We entertain, or splurge on special types of food. Other months, we may have car, child or vet expenses. Nothing gives peace of mind like knowing you’ve got the money in the bank account for the expense.

Do you go to the movies, shop or go out for lunch? Add up approximately how many times you go out and spend money, then add a “fun” column into your budget. This is a guilt-free amount from where you can take money for the fun.

If the budget you set up isn’t working for you in a few months, change it. Check in with your accountability partner and budget weekly or monthly until you get a feel for it. Then you can advance to a quick look monthly, and go into depth a few times a year unless there are big changes in your spending, then check more often, making adjustments. You can do this! Reaching your dreams and goals takes commitment, trade-offs and being aware of you want versus what’s become habit. Allow your budget to become this year’s habit.

So, Now, stop eating, go to the gym and make a budget.

 

Buying Stocks for Kids


 image credit: Google

Do you have young family members, or children of friends you’d like to get interested in investing? While I don’t like the idea of promoting gambling—and let’s face it, the stock market is a form of it, I do think the stock market is at least worth talking about to kids.

Do you watch television, or read the newspaper? If you watch a television show to do anything with money, or pour over the stock report page in the newspaper, talk about it with a child, teen—or anyone who’ll listen. I’ll never forget the day when I was living in New Zealand and a friend of mine saw me reading the stock reports and with shock asked, “Do you understood it?” Meekly adding, “I wish I did.” I brought the page over to him and explained the columns. Soon after that he let me know how Coke and Disney were doing. For his birthday a few years later, I bought him some shares in Coke. Rather than having him open an account for a few stock shares and pay taxes on his gift, I bought some shares to add to my account then told him what I’d done, and why. The idea was to sell the shares to cover some of his travel expenses to the states when he came for a visit.

According to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, 12/20012 if you want to buy some stock for a minor, you could go through a brokerage firm, several of which offer custodial accounts with low minimum, no setup or annual fees, and low or no commissions for buying and selling shares.

  •   Capitol One (formerly ING Direct) has no minimum and charges $4 per trade if you sign up for their monthly automatic investment plan. Capitol One (as far as I can tell) is continuing with their Kids Saving Account, which has no fees or minimum and currently pays 0.8% interest. I like this site for kids. It promotes taking/teaching about money—specifically saving, in a casual, fun style.
  • Charles Schwab has a $100 investment minimum and charges $8.95 for on-line stock trades.
  • TD Ameritrade charges $9.99 for each on-line stock trade, and has no fees or minimum.
  • Scottrade has a $500 investment minimum and charges $7 for on-line trades.

If you have more than one child involved, they will each need their own custodial account, each having a custodian, who’ll manage the account assets until the child is eighteen or twenty-one, depending on the state in which they reside. The custodian doesn’t need to be the child’s parent. The custodian can be a grandparent, aunt/uncle, parent’s friend—anyone who’ll manage the assets responsibly until the child is of legal age to do so. Anyone may contribute to the child’s account, not just the custodian.

This could be a fun gift if you got creative with it. You could still wrap something up, or create a scavenger hunt for hints—stock report page, pictures from magazines that represent the stock. You don’t have to go big with this. You can buy one share if you want, and depending on what you buy, maybe you wait a few months and buy another share. Have fun and use it as a learning tool for your child. Maybe they pay the fee and you pay the stock, or the other way around. Make sure you educate them the ups (bull) and downs (bear) of stock, and how time heals most wounds. Maybe a trip to the library for some books or videos, too. Have fun!

Children friendly links:

Creative wealth

Money management 

 Finance park video

Young Savers