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Archive for the ‘Financial Literacy’ Category

Saving For Our Future

October 10th, 2014 - Category: Financial Literacy




We’ve all heard the saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned”.  No doubt our parents were trying to teach us that even pennies can grow into dollars over time.

Learning to save is one of the most important financial lessons a parent can teach their children.  However, it is one that often falls through the cracks.

The impact of learning to save is not only measured in dollars and cents.  Here are a few other reasons why you should open a savings account for your child and encourage them to save.


The ability to save enables people to think about what is possible for them.  “A savings account is not just a vehicle for saving money but a vehicle for hope,” says Gabriel Duncan, Child Psychologist and parent of three.  By giving your child an opportunity to save they can see how they themselves can have an influence over their own financial future.


Children become more aware of their money choices when they have an opportunity to save.  Especially when their savings are destined for a specific purpose.  Choices come into play and character is strengthened when they have to choose between spending their money on immediate gratification or saving for long term goals.


Saving can influence your child’s education.  According to three studies out of the Center for Social Development (CSD) at the BrownSchool at WashingtonUniversity in St. Louis, a connection can be found between saving and college enrollment and completion.  In fact, here is what they found.

  • Youth with savings accounts are more likely to graduate from high school.
  • Children with savings accounts are more likely to get better grades and complete more years of education regardless of their family’s income level.
  • Among the youth expected to attend college, those with savings accounts in their names are four to six times more likely to attend college.


So, get your children started on the right track by opening a savings account for them today, because “It’s never too early to start saving!”






Four Mistakes to Avoid When Teaching Your Kids About Money

April 30th, 2014 - Category: Financial Literacy


Mistakes about teaching money 

Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t come with a manual.  If it did, my manual would be worn out, marked up, and dog eared on every page.  One area of parenting that I am concerned about is the financial literacy of my children.  I’ve learned many lessons about money on my own, through experience, and I would hope that I could teach my kids some of those things so they don’t have to go though the same negative experiences I did.

But, since there’s no book on the subject, not only my learning of the subject but also how I teach my kids about money has been through trial and error.  I figured I would share a couple of the things I’ve learned about teaching my kids about money.  In particular, four mistakes I’ve made.


Mistake number 1.  Not talking about money at all.  Let me ask you a question, do you think that you’re kids won’t do drugs or have sex if you simply never talk about it?  As a society we’ve learned the opposite.  And the age that we are teaching our kids about drugs and sex in school is getting younger and younger.  The same idea rings true with money.  To ensure your child’s financial success, you have to talk about money with them.  Don’t make it taboo.  And the earlier the better.  Teach them while they are young to respect money.  Give them plenty of opportunities to be comfortable with money so that it won’t be a stress in their lives.  Expose them in positive ways so that they can learn how to control money and their spending while they are young.


Mistake number 2.  Telling little white lies to stop the begging.  As parents we probably get hundred’s of requests form our kids on a daily basis.  Sometimes, especially when it comes to money, it’s easier to tell a little white lie than to tell your child the real reason behind your answer.  For example, “We can’t afford that,” or “I don’t have any cash on me right now.”  These answers may stop the winning temporarily, but direct, honest answers will get you better results.  Instead try, “I can afford that, but we’re not going to buy it because….”  Explaining your answer will get them thinking and make them more aware of typical money concerns.


Mistake number 3.  Bailing them out with a hand-out.  One of the lessons everyone has to learn in life, is that money is limited.  We all want more than we can afford, so we all have to learn to budget.  If your children fail, (and they probably will) don’t bail them out by giving them money to cover the balance.  Let them learn while the stakes are low, the consequences of living above their means.


Mistake number 4.  Paying for the large purchases they want.  We live in a world of instant gratification.  Instead of granting your kids their every wish, make them work for it.  Encourage them to think creatively about how they can earn more money.  Discuss their goals and help them set smaller benchmarks along the way.  Earning their purchase will make them be that much more grateful for it.



What I Learned In School

April 15th, 2014 - Category: Financial Literacy

What I learned in school


I learned a great deal in school.  I learned how to spell Mississippi.  I learned how to find the area of a circle using pi.  I learned how to make a volcano out of baking soda and vinegar for the science fair.  In 5th grade I did a report on President Polk, so I know all about him.  I learned about planets, verbs, poetry, and Christopher Columbus.   I even learned how to dissect a frog.

What I didn’t learn in school was how to save money.  I didn’t learn how to budget.  I didn’t learn how to calculate interest on a loan.  I didn’t learn the value of a dollar.

We send our kids to school so that someday they can grow up and get a good job.  But once they get the job, we stop teaching them, and they are left to figure out for themselves how to manage their money.

What can we do in the home to help our children be financially literate when they are ready to leave the nest?

Talk about it.  Teach them as you go about your daily life.  In the grocery store, when the bills come in the mail, when saving for something big, discuss the specifics with your children.  Talk about how much things cost and how to save for big purchases.  Teach them the definition of different monetary terms – interest rates, cash back, stock market, etc.  Discuss budgets and how your family chooses to spend their money.

Let them make decisions.  The more opportunities they have to work with money and manage it, the more money savvy they will be as adults.  Give them real world experiences.  Give them an allowance and let them get a summer job.  Here’s another example: next time you go to a restaurant give them the option of getting a soda with their meal or getting the dollar that it would have cost.  You may even have second thoughts about ordering a soda yourself!

Set goals.  Once they understand money and how it works, think bigger.  Have them figure out how to save for bigger purchases and make monetary goals.

Remember, part of learning is making mistakes.  If your child opts to spend their entire allowance on a toy that you know will be broken in a week, let them do it and learn from the consequences.

Instead of sending your children off with no financial literacy, or having them learn about money from television, friends, or from broken pieces of your conversations, sit them down and talk about money with them, let them make decisions, and encourage them to set monetary goals for their future.

Teaching Your Kids About Credit Cards

April 10th, 2014 - Category: Financial Literacy

kids and credit cards


I always get asked, “When should I start teaching my kids about credit cards?”

Well, I suggest teaching your kids about money around the age of 5.  And honestly, teaching them about money is the beginning of teaching them about credit and credit cards.

If you want your kids to be responsible credit card holders, then they have to start young, by using their money, which usually comes by form of allowance, responsibly.

I used to suggest that kids learn to use cold, hard, cash first.  But, today, cash is almost a thing of the past.

Teach them how to use a debit card wisely.  They need to learn how to spend their money without overdrawing their account.  This can take more discipline than using cash because they have to know how much money they have without seeing it in their hand.

Also, don’t enroll them in an overdraft protection plan.  They may have a debit transaction declined, which could cause some embarrassment, but hopefully they’ll learn a lesson about balances.

Other lessons that can be learned about credit cards from using a debit card are how to control spending, paying bills on time, balancing their account, and how to avoid fees.  These lessons all take time, but start young and don’t leave them to learn on their own.  Help them out along the way.

Don’t scare them – arm them with information.  Teach them how to be responsible credit card users.  Go over your credit card statement with them and explain concepts like minimum payment and interest rate.  Talk about the importance of paying the balance in full.  As they get older you can discuss credit scores, credit reports, and building good credit.

It takes time to build credit history.  Don’t speed the process up by cosigning for them or naming them as an authorized used on your credit card.  Young adults can’t get a credit card of their own until they are 21 or until they can prove a steady income.  Stick with what the professionals know and let them wait.   As long as you are paying the bill, your kids won’t take responsibility or learn anything.  And you are putting your credit on the line if they mess up.  If they really want one, then check into getting them a secured card with their own savings.

According to the Experian Intelliview tool, as of 2013, the approximate revolving credit card debt in the US was $850 Billion, and the average balance per consumer was $3,779.  So, it’s going to happen.  Someday your child is going to get a credit card and someday they may even be in debt.   Save them some misery and teach them now to be a wise credit card holder.

Giving Your Kids a Financial Education

January 8th, 2014 - Category: Financial Literacy



When it comes to your kids, as parents, we have many concerns.  From their growth and discipline to their schooling and future, parents have lots to worry about.


Hopefully, at the top of your “worry list” is their financial education.


Consider this, the average young adult acquires $45,000 in debt by the time they turn 29, according to a recent PNC Bank report.


“This generation of 20-somethings was raised during an economically-thriving period,” says financial expert Mark Hansen, author of Success 101 for Teens. “Undisciplined spending habits, student and car loans, and a tough job market have stymied their financial growth. Perhaps the worst culprit is financial ignorance, but we can count this as a lesson for future 20-somethings.  For young people, organizing finances can be intimidating to the point of prohibitive.  We need to have a curriculum in schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade, that ensures our kids graduate with financially literacy.  From balancing a checkbook to understanding what it means to pay – and earn – interest, kids need basic money management skills to survive in the world, and most aren’t getting them.”


Helping kids financially means more than handing them money.  We need to teach them the basics of being fiscally fit.  A couple places to start…


Make them earn it.  When you have to work for something rather than being handed it, it means more to you.  You tie the sweat and time spend earning the money to what you turn around and buy with it.  You aren’t as quick to make purchases and you take better care of what you do buy.  Getting something for nothing never taught any principles.


Be consistent.  I know exactly what it’s like to raise a family.  I know how many strings are pulling you in every direction.  I know how hard it is to check up and make sure that chores are done – according to the specified standards.  I also know how hard it is to tell your kids no when they come to your for money.  But if you value your child’s financial education, you’ll look at the long term effects of being consistent and stick to your guns.


Help them understand interest.  There is interest that works for you and then there is interest that doesn’t.  Your money in the bank can grow because of interest, but money borrowed can work against you if it’s not paid back in a timely manner.  Show them examples from your own bank and credit card statements.  Help them understand the benefits of saving and the pitfalls of borrowing.


Give them a monetary incentive.  There was a boy that wanted more allowance.  His dad told him that his allowance could be increased by whatever money the boy could help the family save.  The boy walked away and the dad thought the issue was over.  But, over the next few weeks, the boy received over $300 after finding and changing several behaviors and situations that his family was wasting or overspending their money on.  Give your child a goal, something to work for, and you may just be surprised at what they can teach you too!

Let Your New Years Resolution Work for You Financially

January 1st, 2014 - Category: Financial Literacy

Do you have any New Years Resolutions? According to a 2012 survey by University of Scranton, an estimated 190 million Americans make a yearly list of things to do or improve upon. If by chance, one of your items is to create a financial plan, live on a budget or get debt under control, then January is the perfect month for you to map a course to stronger financial stability.

January has been designated National Financial Wellness month in the U.S. and recommends making resolutions that are achievable for you but can also serve as teachable moments for your children. The average adult will make thousands of financial decisions during the next year, including many which will be made with kids watching or listening.

To help move your children in the right direction in 2014, Gregg Murset, CEO of and a Certified Financial Planner offer the following out of the box suggestions:

No More Hand Outs.

Start the year off right by deciding that you are not going to just shell out money to your kids anymore.  When they come to looking for money, let them know that they will have to work for it.  The bank is now closed unless they start pulling their weight a little more around the house. Tying work and reward together in some meaningful ways will help them understand responsibility and accountability. It will also help them understand that in real life, no one ever gets money for doing nothing.

Smash The Piggy Bank.

Piggy Banks are a bad way to teach kids about money.  That’s right, take that piggy bank and smash it or throw it away.  Long gone are the days when we should be teaching our kids about money by dropping coins into a bank that looks like a pig, jar or favorite sport team mascot.  Using banks like these only teach children about money in a manner that isn’t as relevant anymore.  Get them a real bank account and teach them how to manage their money though online services.  It is far more useful to learn to manage money in a bank rather than a pig.

Make Kids Pay… For The Cell Phone, That Is.

According to Consumer Reports the average mobile phone user spends about $600 a year.  If you do the math, you’re going to be shocked at how much you are going to be spending over the years so that your kids can send hundreds of meaningless texts each month to their friends!  Kids should pay some, or all of their phone bill each month. This is a perfect opportunity for you to sit down and teach your children about how much things cost, especially things that they seem to think they are entitled to for some reason.  This is also a great time to discuss the things that they can do around the house to earn the money to help pay that bill.

Play The Match Game.

Set up a matching program for your kids.  They save a dollar and you match that dollar.  Yes, 100% return.  Sit down and determine what they would like to save for and then set out to accomplish it together.  This is a great opportunity to talk about short term, mid-term and long term goals. When a child learns the power of savings like this at an early age, what do you think will happen when they get their first job and they learn about the 401(k) program that is available?

Comic Books To Teach Kids About Money?  Now That’s Just Dumb.

Last year a credit card company teamed up with a leading comic book to teach kids about personal banking practices.  Talk about a square peg in a round hole.  They supposedly were going to distribute 150,000 of these square pegs in eight different languages.  Why does something as important as personal finance have to be jammed into little white blurbs above super heroes heads in a comic book? Parents should be fighting to get personal finance taught in our schools not forcing the subject where it doesn’t really fit.

Make Them Better Givers.

No matter how your children earn their money, make sure they plan to donate a portion of it to a charity of their choice. The average American gives away about 4% of their annual income to charity and perhaps that percentage would increase if the next generation made giving a common practice as soon as they learned how to share with important causes.

Set Goals That Are Meaningful.

A start of a new year is a great time to sit down with children and talk goals.  Meaningful goals. Help your children put together a plan on working toward and saving for something significant. It could be a bike, musical instrument, laptop computer or a future college degree. The more meaningful the goal, the harder our kids will work to accomplish it.

About, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a free, easy to use, online and mobile job chart and reward system designed to teach, organize and motivate kids to earn, save, share and spend responsibly. Bringing together the latest technology and basic personal finance principles to help parents teach their children responsibility, accountability and how to manage money wisely. Over the past two years, My Job Chart now has over 565,000 members, with kids having completed over 19.5 million jobs and earned nearly $3 million. can also be used through its Apple and Android mobile apps, allowing parents and kids the opportunity to save, share and spend from anywhere.  For more information, visit



20 Financial Lessons For Kids

May 8th, 2013 - Category: Financial Literacy


Money as you grow is an initiative from President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability.  It points out 20 essential, age-appropriate, financial lessons and even includes corresponding activities that kids can do to learn about money as they grow.


From talking to your child about your job and money, to learning where you can get a free annual credit report, this site has some great ideas.  It’s purpose is to inspire families and others to become more financially literate.


Milestones for 3-5 year olds

1 YOU NEED MONEY to buy things.

  • Identify coins and their value.
  • Discuss how you may value something that is free, such as playing with a friend.
  • Identify items that cost money, such as ice cream, gas for the car, or clothes.


2 You earn money by WORKING.

  • Describe your job to your child.
  • Walk through your neighborhood or town and point out people working, like the bus driver or the police officer.
  • Explain that some people start their own businesses, like clothing stores or restaurants, and those people are called entrepreneurs.
  • Encourage your child to think about how she could earn money by setting up a lemonade or cookie stand.


3 You may have to WAIT BEFORE YOU CAN BUY something you want.

  • When your child is standing in line for a turn on the swings, or looking forward to her favorite holiday, point out that sometimes we have to wait for things we want.
  • Find three jars (or cans) and label one for saving, one for spending, and one for sharing.
  • Suggest that your child put some of the money she gets into the saving jar, so she can buy a toy or treat when she has saved enough.


4 There’s a difference between THINGS YOU WANT and things you need.

  • When you are out shopping, point out essentials such as food and clothing, and ask your child to describe items that she may want but are optional.
  • Talk about how your family decides what to buy and what to pass up. Which is more important, buying cookies or fresh fruit? Soda or milk?
  • Draw a circle and divide it into sections for food, rent or house payments, clothes, and “optional items,” to show that there is a finite amount of money to spend.


Milestones for 6-10 year olds

5 You need to MAKE CHOICES about how to spend your money.

  • Include your child in some of your small decisions. For example, at the grocery store, explain why you pick one item over another.
  • Give your child two dollars and let her choose which fruit to buy.
  • When shopping with your child, ask yourself aloud: Do I need this item? Can I borrow it? Would it cost less somewhere else?


6 It’s good to shop around and COMPARE PRICES before you buy.

  • With your child, compare prices for a particular toy at various online or brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Use coupons and discount cards, and show your child how much you are saving.
  • Consider allowing her to keep part of the savings, if she helps clip or print out coupons.


7 It can be costly and DANGEROUS TO SHARE INFORMATION online.

  • Know the websites your child visits.
  • Decide which websites are appropriate, and block any inappropriate sites using parental control software.
  • Make it a rule that your child never gives out any personal information—like her birthdate, address, phone number, or school—when on the computer.
  • Don’t allow her to buy anything online without your permission.


8 Putting your money in a savings account will PROTECT it and pay you interest.

  • Visit a nearby federally insured bank or credit union with your child.
  • Ask about the interest rate on a savings account.
  • Discuss with your child how money in savings accounts is protected by federal insurance. If the bank goes out of business, she will get her money back.
  • Open a savings account for your child.


Milestones for 11-13 year olds

9 You should SAVE AT LEAST A DIME for every dollar you receive.

  • Encourage your child to always save 10% of the money he gets.
  • Have your child set a goal to buy something he wants, and have him work toward that amount.
  • To reinforce the savings habit, go to the bank two to three times a year with your child to deposit savings into his account, and look at how much bigger the balance is on each visit.
  • Consider a “matching plan” for your child’s savings: You put in 25 cents for every dollar he saves.


10 Entering personal information, like a bank or credit card number, online is risky because SOMEONE COULD STEAL IT.

  • Discuss the dangers of entering personal information online.
  • Explain that thieves can use Social Security numbers or other personal information to open credit cards or create fake documents.
  • Explain that “free” offers online, such as cell phone ringtones or games, are scams to get people to spend money without realizing it.
  • Make it a rule that your child never answers emails from someone he doesn’t know and never clicks on pop-up ads.
  • Go to for tips on information security.


11 The sooner you save, the FASTER YOUR MONEY CAN GROW from compound interest.

  • Compound interest is when you earn interest on both the money you save and the interest you earn.
  • Show your child the following: If he sets aside $100 every year starting at age 14, he’d have about $23,000 at age 65. However, if he begins saving at age 35 he’d have about $7,000 at age 65. Assume the account earns 5% every year.
  • To compute compound interest, use the calculators at
  • Discuss how much your child can save. What will he have to give up? Is it worth it?


12 USING A CREDIT CARD IS LIKE TAKING OUT A LOAN; if you don’t pay your bill in full every month, you’ll be charged interest and owe more than you originally spent.


  • Discuss why you should not use a credit card to buy something that you can’t afford to pay for with cash.
  • Look at credit card offers online with your child, and compare the interest rates.
  • Using the Credit Card Repayment Calculator at, see how long it could take to repay a $1,000 credit card debt by making the minimum monthly payments.
  • Discuss how a credit card can be useful for making purchases online, or as a convenience.


Milestones for 14-18 year olds

13 When COMPARING COLLEGES, be sure to consider how much each school would cost you.

  • Point out that college grads earn almost twice as much as people who did not go to college.
  • Discuss how much you can contribute to your child’s college tuition and expenses each year.
  • Compare college costs, graduation rates, loan default rates, average monthly loan payments, and employment prospects by using the “College Scorecard” at
  • See what schools cost by finding the “net price calculator” on their websites; know that most families don’t pay the tuition sticker price.
  • Use the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Paying for College tool to compare financial aid offers at
  • To estimate your financial aid, use the FAFSA4caster tool at
  • Go to to research additional loans, scholarships, and grants, and use the calculators to estimate your monthly loan payments.


14 You should AVOID USING CREDIT CARDS to buy things you can’t afford to pay for with cash.

  • With your child, fill out the Income and Expenses budgeting worksheet available at
  • Discuss why having a savings and spending plan in place could help him avoid using credit cards.
  • Drive home this rule: When you use a credit card, aim to pay it back in full each month; otherwise, you could be charged high interest.
  • Using the Credit Card Repayment Calculator at, see how long it could take to repay a $1,000 credit card debt by making the minimum monthly payments.


15 Your first paycheck may seem smaller than expected since MONEY IS TAKEN OUT FOR TAXES.

  • Discuss the difference between gross pay (before taxes are taken out) and net pay (the amount you take home).
  • Explain that the W-4 form, which you fill out when starting a job, determines the amount of taxes taken out of a paycheck.
  • Explain that tax brackets vary depending on how much you earn. (In 2012, single people who earn $8,700 or less per year pay a tax rate of 10%, for example, and those who earn between $8,700 and $35,350 pay 15%.)
  • Discuss what taxes pay for, including schools, road maintenance, and medical help for the elderly.
  • Once your child has a steady job, help him set up an automatic savings program so that at least 10% of earnings goes directly into his savings account.


16 A great place to SAVE AND INVEST MONEY you earn is in a Roth IRA.

  • If your child has a job, encourage him to open a Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account).
  • Explain that a Roth IRA allows the interest you earn to grow tax-free for life.
  • Experiment with different amounts of savings and interest rates. Use a compound interest calculator at
  • Use the “Rule of 72” to estimate how many years it would take to double your money. If you invest in an account that earns 8% interest, you’ll double your money in nine years (72 divided by 8 is 9).
  • Explain to your child that once he starts a job, he may be offered a similar account at work called a 401(k). Some employers even provide matching contributions.


Milestones for 18+ years old

17 You should use a credit card only if you can PAY OFF THE MONEY OWED IN FULL each month.

  • Understand that when a parent cosigns, any late payments you make will also affect their credit history.
  • Paying bills late can hurt your credit history and affect your chances of getting a job.
  • Get free credit reports once a year at
  • Look for a credit card with a low interest rate and no annual fee.
  • There may be an emergency expense that you can’t pay off immediately and need to charge. That’s why it’s important not to charge everyday items.
  • To learn more about the credit card rules, go to



  • Comparison shop for insurance like you would for any other product.
  • If your parents have health insurance, see if you can stay on their policy—with some exceptions, you are entitled to, by law, until you turn 26.
  • Get more information about the health insurance available to you at
  • Purchase renter’s insurance if you lease an apartment, and auto insurance if you own, lease, or rent a car.


19 It’s important to save at least three months’ worth of living expenses IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.

  • Make a list of your expenses (rent, bills, food) to see how much you spend each month; this will help you estimate how much you’ll need to save for three months’ worth of expenses.
  • Store the money in a safe place, like a federally insured bank or credit union.
  • If you’re able to, try saving six to nine months’ worth of living expenses instead of only three.
  • Don’t stop once you’ve built your emergency fund; try to automate your savings so you stash away 10% of your earnings.


20 When investing, consider THE RISKS AND THE ANNUAL EXPENSES.

  • Invest in an IRA or a 401(k) as soon as you have some income.
  • Putting all your eggs in one basket can be a risky way to invest; consider a diverse mix of stocks, bonds, and cash.
  • Compare mutual fund costs: An “annual expense ratio” of 1.5% instead of 0.5% on a $1,000 investment could cost you almost $2,000 over the course of 35 years.
  • Ask about index funds, which tend to have low annual fees.
  • Think about your goals. Attending college? Buying a home in 10 years? Purchasing a car in five? Define two financial goals for the long- term future, and make a plan to achieve them.
  • For more information go to


You can visit their site for more information at