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Financial Capability Step 5: Order Your Credit Report

Being financially capable means being prudent with your credit. Your credit reports can provide a snapshot of your overall financial situation. Reviewing your credit reports for accuracy can also help you to identify errors or fraudulent activity. Fortunately, it is easier than ever to obtain copies of your credit reports.

Your credit reports can provide a snapshot of your overall financial situation. Reviewing your credit reports for accuracy can also help you to identify errors or fraudulent activity. Fortunately, it is easier than ever to obtain copies of your reports.

The FACT Act gives every consumer the right to a free credit report every year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. To get your free report, simply fill out the request form. You can also visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228.

The three major credit bureaus are separate entities. It is important to know this because the information in their reports may vary slightly. Different creditors use different reports (or a combination of them) to determine whether or not you are creditworthy.

Your creditworthiness matters most when you are trying to obtain credit. If your credit report indicates that you have maintained your credit well, you should have a good chance of receiving additional credit when needed, provided you have enough income to qualify for additional credit.

Credit reports might also matter when renting an apartment, obtaining insurance or securing some types of employment. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) dictates that credit information is accessible to others only for certain permissible purposes. For your protection, you are entitled by law to know who has received a copy of your report or inquired about it.

I’m keeping today’s post short because you have work to do. Order your credit reports today and we will begin the necessary steps to clean your credit in tomorrows post.

“Stop being chained down by bad credit I have the key to set you free…”
― Tyler Gregory

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Financial Capability Step 4: Set Yourself Up For Success

Set yourself up for success by getting organized and save money

 

Now that we have cleared the financial clutter, it is time to get organized. While all members of the family should be aware of the family’s overall financial situation, choosing one person to conduct the day-to-day financial tasks is a good way to stay on top of things. The appointed individual should be organized and a good communicator. They should be given uninterrupted time to do their tasks effectively. I’m sure you can guess that the appointed person in my family is Moi!

Consider making the job of family CFO easier by establishing an online bill payment service (offered free-of-charge by many banks and credit unions). Even better, check with your creditors about setting up automatic bill payments.

Designate a spot in your home for organizing financial paperwork. Used office supply stores offer great bargains on filing cabinets, or consider small plastic filing cabinets instead of metal or wood. If your goal is to have a paperless filing system, make sure that you back-up your computer regularly and invest in a good security program to prevent criminals from obtaining sensitive information. To keep your most valuable documents safe, consider opening a safety-deposit box at your local bank or credit union.

 

5 easy steps to get organized and save money

Did you know that being organized saves you money?

• You waste money buying duplicates of items you didn’t know you had
• You waste money on late charges because you can’t find the bills you need to pay, or you forget to pay them on time
• You also waste money not deciding in the store where you should store the item you’re thinking of buying, and then not using it

So now that you know why you should get organized, let’s discuss some practical tips to show you how you can get your finances organized.

It’s a big myth that organizing is difficult and time-consuming.

Yes, you do have to take some time initially to set up your system but unless you want to make things really complicated, it’ll only take you about 15 to 30 minutes.

1. Put all bills to be paid in a specific folder
When you bring in the mail, throw away the junk mail and envelopes immediately. Only keep the actual bill in a dedicated plastic see-through envelope in a specific place. Arrange the bills in order of when they have to be paid so that the one facing you is also the most urgent bill.

This way you and the rest of your family always know exactly where to find all the bills.

2. Automate as many bill payments as possible
We live very busy lives so if you don’t have to think about paying it, all the better for you. That said, schedule a day of the month to check your online payments against your actual budget.

3. Dedicate a specific day or days of the month to pay your bills.
Mark off a date on your calendar when you pay bills. If your bills are due on different days of the month, you may need more than one date.

Because life happens, schedule the date a couple of days before the payment is actually due so you don’t incur any late fees.

4. File
Once your bills are paid, file them in the way that’s easiest for you to manage. If you’re not a file puncher, don’t fool yourself that you will start punching and filing. The road to hell is paved with good intentions!

Rather use a filing system where you simply drop the paper in and it’s done.

5. Maintain
Restrict your filing space so that it forces you to clear out old bills every 6 – 12 months.

I actually keep my bills for 12 months because I have all my household categories in one file binder.

This easy-to-use system will take you only a minute or two a day, and about 30 minutes when you sit down and pay your bills.

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Financial Capability Step 3: Clear The Financial Clutter

Getting your financial house organized is a great way to begin on your path toward financial wellness. But before you bulldoze that pile, you should know that some things are worth hanging on to. The key is to know what keep and what to toss. Let's clear that financial clutter today

So far, we have committed to change and assessed our financial situations. I know you may be anxious to get started, but it is hard to get motivated when you are knee-deep in paperwork. Getting your financial house organized is a great way to begin on your path toward financial wellness. But before you bulldoze that pile, you should know that some things are worth hanging on to. The key is to know what keep and what to toss.

  • Grocery receipts and other nondeductible expense receipts and statements can be destroyed after they have been recorded for budgeting purposes.
  • Paycheck stubs should be checked against your W-2. If it’s a match, you can toss them. If not, request a revised W-2, called a W-2c.
  • canceled checks should generally be saved for three years. Keep those related to your taxes and business expenses permanently.
  • Utility bill stubs may be destroyed after recording, however, you may wish to hold onto these for a year to compare monthly costs.
  • Household documents pertaining to buying, selling or improving your home should be kept as long as you own the home.
  • Receipts from major purchases should be kept as long as you have the item.
  • Credit card receipts can be destroyed once you have reconciled with your monthly statement.  Additionally, credit card monthly statements can be destroyed on an annual basis.
  • Individual tax return documents should be kept for seven years, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS has three years from your filing date to audit your return if it suspects good faith errors. However, the IRS has six years to challenge your return if it thinks you underreported your gross income by 25 percent or more.

Years ago, my financial life was a disaster. My bills were behind and I was living poor check to poor check, trying to keep up appearances. I thought as long as I could keep up the farce, I would be able to dig my way out of the debt abyss I created.  Needless to say, that wasn’t true. I suffered tremendously from my secret.

Even though I was not consciously aware of it, my financial mess was always on my mind. I would run numbers in my head regularly.  As the financial clutter grew, my life and options became smaller and smaller.  Picture an upside triangle with financial burdens, debt, and out-of-control expenses on the top. As you move down the triangle, you and your relationships become more and more stressed, your health and well-being is compromised, and you end at the bottom with Financial, Emotional, and Spiritual Depletion.

Over time I was able to reverse my financial situation and in the process, I decided I wanted to help others do the same. For a few years,  I worked one-on-one with friends and family to help them bring clarity to their financial lives. As a result, I eventually started this blog.

Many of my clients were overwhelmed with financial clutter. Their bills would be scattered around the house: some would be in a kitchen drawer, others might be piled on a table, while still more were in the car or a handbag.

Their method of bill-paying was to wait until their utilities were turned off. Then they would frantically find the quickest way to pay so they could get their telephone or utilities turned back on. Other bills would be ignored until the telephone calls from creditors started. Many of my clients admitted they live among constant clutter, with financial clutter just a part of it.

There is a way to turn financial clutter into clarity, and I’d like to share it with you. Here are the steps:

1. Track all your money. This will get you conscious and connected to your spending and earning behaviors. Use a checkbook register for keeping track of all spending that flows through your bank account, use another one for tracking cash, and keep a third one for any credit card purchases. I can’t tell you how powerful this is.

You have heard many times that you should write your spending down for a week or thirty days. But my experience is that most people who have money problems need to do this for a much longer time.

I have been writing down every penny I spend for the past twenty years!  It has become a habit just like brushing my teeth. I love the way it keeps me grounded in my money behaviors.

2. Plan, plan, plan. I like using the term “spending plan,” rather than “budget.” Planning my spending and earning has changed my life forever. I strongly suggest you do a plan every month because each month is different.

Then, as you plan monthly you’ll have the data you need to create an annual spending plan, so you can see the big picture.  If you plan at the beginning of each month, you will know if your plan will work. If, after adding expenses and subtracting expenses from your income, you see it will not work, you’ll need to make adjustments.

Tip: Always be mindful of your needs before your wants. We can never get enough of what we don’t need. Neglecting needs or “making do without” will lead to deprivation – which is the opposite of fulfillment.

3. Stay connected to your plan. If you deviate from your plan, it is usually for one of three reasons: you didn’t plan enough, something came up you couldn’t have planned for, or you bought something impulsively.  When this happens you will need to continue adjusting your plan throughout the month.

Get help! Whether these steps sound too simple or too overwhelming, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional money coach who can hold your hand through the process. If you could do it on your own, you would not be where you are.

Starting the process of Tracking and Planning is the beginning of coming out of the clutter and financial fog. You deserve to have a life of clarity, which will lead to a balanced, meaningful life of joy and fulfillment.

Finally, before taking out the trash, be sure that all identifying information has been destroyed to avoid your personal information falling into the wrong hands.

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Financial Capability Step 2: Assess Your Financial Situation

As we continue our journey to financial capability, the most important step is to assess your current financial situation. Many don't want to face this step, but it is vital if you want to improve your finances

Now that you have committed to changing your financial situation, the next thing you must do is assess your current financial situation. Facing the fact of your situation is probably the hardest thing you will have to do in order to improve your financial situation.  This step, however, is essential if you want to create a better financial future. No one I have coached was able to conquer their debt without first finding out what they owed.

What if you just can’t go there? For many of us, assessing our current situation is much more than just adding up the numbers. It brings up intense feelings of fear, shame, anxiety, regret, anger and so much more. Sound familiar?

If you’re stuck here, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You can find a trusted friend to help, for example. Tell them they don’t need to offer solutions. They just need to be there for you, to remind you that you are so much more than the balances on your credit cards.

Even better, talk with a professional credit counselor or trained money coach (I know, shameless plug there.) They understand what you are going through and what you are up against, and will be able to provide objective advice – and help you find solutions.

I won’t make today’s post long because I want you to take the financial assessment quiz below. Don’t worry, I won’t see your answers. This is strictly for YOU. I want you to get a clear picture of where you are financially. Tomorrow, we will dig in and begin the process of laying the foundation of where you want to be in your financial journey.

 

As Benjamin Franklin warned, “He that can’t be counseled, can’t be helped.”

 

As a rule, do you?

Always, Sometimes or Never
1. Pay the rent/mortgage payment and utility bills on time?
2. Save at least 10% of your net income?
3. Keep three months net income in reserve for emergencies?
4. Plan ahead for large expenses?
5. Set and keep financial goals?
6. Follow a budget?
7. Comparison shop?
8. Regularly review your credit report?
9. Examine your checking account statements often?
10. Continue your financial education?

Scoring:

Add your points using the column provided. Never = 0 points, Sometimes = 1 point, Always = 2 points.

0-10 Points: Indicates a need to take control of your finances; following the 30 step plan will go a long way to achieving this.

11-15 Points: Reflects a good effort to manage your money effectively. The 30 step plan can help determine changes that can be made to improve your financial well-being.

16-20 Points: Demonstrates ability to manage your finances successfully. The 30 step plan can help you continue to make money management a priority.

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Overlooked Tax Deductions

Overlooked tax deductions cause you to leave money on the table. Don't leave any money on the table. Make sure that you are taking every deduction you are entitled to.

Year’s ago, I used to do my own income taxes. It was simple enough, so I thought. I had my two dependents for my earned income tax credit, Back in those day’s that is all I was concerned about, that coveted earned income credit. I had a job that didn’t pay very much, so that earned income tax credit really helped to boost my refund. Fast forward a few years and a few more children/dependents, my tax situation changed.

I went to a tax professional and as a courtesy, this person reviewed some of my prior year’s returns. Imagine my surprise when she told me I could file an amendment and receive even more money.  I had overlooked a few tax deductions, that ended up costing me a pretty penny. Some tax deductions and credits can get overlooked. Find out which tax deductions and credits you have coming to you so you’ll keep more money in your pocket.

Some tax deductions and credits can get overlooked, and I don’t want that to happen to you. Find out which tax deductions and credits you have coming to you so you’ll keep more money in your pocket. Making sure you receive every tax deduction and credit you have coming to you is one of the best ways to ensure you don’t leave any money on the table during tax time.

Overlooking deductions can cost you money, that goes without saying. What is to blame for missing these potentially valuable deductions? There are a variety of reasons, including last-minute filers and those who don’t read the ‘what’s new’ section of the instructions. I was one of those who didn’t read the what’s new section. Reading is so fundamental.

Some often-overlooked deductions will help you keep on top of your taxes so you can minimize your tax bill and, possibly, maximize your refund. Many of these deductions must exceed a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income to yield tax savings.


Working for yourself

If you work for yourself, there are various costs involved in running your own business from a home office. These costs can be legitimate and valuable deductions. Taxpayers who operate businesses from home may always deduct the portion of household expenses related to the space used exclusively as a home office. However, the deduction is often left off the tax form because the taxpayer is afraid it will lead to an audit.

This fear probably is unfounded. The IRS does not release statistics on its home office audits. Taxpayers who meet the requirements for a home office deduction should claim it. Just make sure you keep good records to support your claims. Costs such as high-speed Internet access and other expenses related to your computer are legitimate. So are car expenses and anything used exclusively for the business as long as they are attributable to your business and office space.

Working for someone else

Another category of deductions often forgotten is unreimbursed employee business expenses. If your employer allows you to telecommute from home, for example, you may deduct part of the household expenses related to a space used exclusively as a home office.

Employees must show that they work from home for their employers’ preference and not their own convenience.

One of these overlooked off-site working deductions is the cost of going from your home office to another work location. People also frequently forget to deduct expenses related to business. Anything required for work may be deductible, including the use of a personal vehicle for business, tools you have to buy to do a job, and work clothes. Any clothes you deduct must be only for work; if they’re suitable for non-work situations, you can’t claim them as a work expense. So don’t try to claim that cute little romper you bought for you weekend getaway. Even if you did wear it to work.

Don’t forget about job-hunting expenses. Costs for resume preparation, mailing resumes, and travel for job interviews are deductible as miscellaneous itemized deductions.

Educational expenses

The most lucrative overlooked potential deduction is the Higher Education Expense Deduction. This deduction allows a married couple to write off up to $4,000 a year in qualifying higher education costs, mostly tuition.

The income limits for it are higher than for the education credits. Some people who do not qualify for the credits can still take the deduction.

Another forgotten education deduction is the popular 529 plan for college savings, which is deductible on many states’ tax returns but not on federal returns.

Medical expenses

Taxpayers who itemize medical costs not covered by insurance need to check what the IRS has characterized as “qualified medical expenses” for that tax year.

Past qualified expenses include:

  • hormone therapy
  • sex reassignment surgery for someone afflicted with gender identity disorder
  •  batteries for hearing aids
  • fertility treatments are also deductible.

These treatments are expensive and will help in meeting the 10 percent of adjusted gross income threshold.

Worth exploring

Personal property taxes on vehicle registrations, often called ownership taxes and prior ownership taxes, are deductible, although they may be called by different names in different states.

Many taxpayers don’t know about the saver’s credit, also known as the retirement savings contributions credit. This helps offset part of workers’ contributions to their IRAs, 401(k) plans and similar workplace retirement programs.

They also might not know that they may deduct alimony payments, but not child support payments.

Taxpayers who do volunteer work for a charity may deduct unreimbursed expenses, including the cost of the use of their personal vehicles.

Don’t get discouraged. Just because you didn’t qualify for a deduction one year doesn’t mean you won’t qualify for it the next year. Many deductions are limited by your modified adjusted gross income, but the limits for some deductions may be adjusted annually based on inflation.

Tax time can bring loads of anxiety for many people. You never know how this information may benefit someone. Please feel free to share with your tribe, by clicking one of the share buttons below.

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Save For Retirement

Retirement can be a scary time for some. If you are not prepared, you may not be able to retire. These tip's show you just how you can save for retirement at any age.

Wednesday, March 1: Save for Retirement

  • Saving now for retirement will ensure you have enough money to have a comfortable standard of living when you stop working or reduce the number of hours you work. Participate in a work-related retirement program, open up an Individual Retirement Account (or IRA), or open a free and easy myRA account. Already saving for retirement? Increase the amount you save toward retirement by 1 percent in 2017.

“The best time to start thinking about your retirement is before the boss does.” Anonymous

That quote above is one of my favorite retirement quotes. However, retirement is less than funny, especially if you are not prepared to do so. In fact, most people worry about having enough money in retirement. But you can roll up a substantial nest egg — even if you don’t make a lot of money during your working years. The keys include learning to budget early in life, sticking with it, saving aggressively during your peak earning years and investing your money wisely and diversely. Saving aggressively for retirement doesn’t mean you have to live on canned beans and ramen noodles.

One thing you must realize is that saving for retirement is a marathon and not a sprint. Some people are overwhelmed by the idea of trying to save because they have so many expenses. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me they can’t afford to save. My response, you can’t afford not to save.

Advice for 20-somethings

• Develop healthy financial habits. That means learning how to budget and how to spend less than you earn. These healthy habits will put you on the road to saving for retirement later and help you financially throughout your life.

Get out of credit card and/or college debt. Once you have a little bit of free money, you should start investing in a 401(k) or other retirement plans, and start a Roth IRA as soon as humanly possible.

In an ideal world, I’d like to see 20-somethings contribute to retirement plans. The earlier you start, the better. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t started.  Just know there are several reasons you should start saving for retirement at your first job. You can read about them here.

• Encourage parents to give their young-adult children a leg up. I often find that between living expenses, college debt and saving for a home it can be extremely difficult to save for their retirement. I will often talk to my client’s parents, to see if for a few years they will fund a Roth IRA for their children — even if it is only $1,000 a year.

The combination of tax-free investing and compound interest can have a real impact on their savings.

For 30-somethings

Do a budget.  I recommend that people try to allocate 50% of their income to living expenses; 30% to taxes and 20% to savings. That savings rate may seem high, but couples who save that amount think of it as normal. If you can’t save 20%, then at least save 10% and try to work up to 20%.

Make sure you are contributing to your 401(k) or other retirement plans by this age.

Avoid taking on too much debt so you can save. Often people in this age group are getting married, buying a house and having children so it’s tempting to take on too much debt.

Have your retirement savings taken automatically from your paycheck. You can do this at your local bank or credit union

Save the max in your plan Don’t worry about market volatility.

For 40-somethings

Save aggressively. Many people in their 40s are headed toward the peak period for earning and saving. This is the all-business time. You should be thinking about accumulation.

See a financial planner.  This professional can make sure you are on track and tweak your allocation mix.

Coordinate your retirement savings with your spouse or significant other.

Put raises and bonuses toward your savings. Part of my yearly bonus goes toward my retirement.

Focus on smart investing. Make sure you own both U.S. and international stocks in a diversified low-cost manner. You want to be heavily weighted toward stocks as opposed to bonds.

Figure out how much you’ll need to maintain your lifestyle in your golden years. This can be “a very powerful motivator” for saving.

Save up to the max in your workplace retirement plan.

Turbocharge your saving in other ways. This may include getting Roth IRAs and mutual fund accounts. You should have (after-tax) money in accounts that you can use when you are retired and not pay taxes on the money.

For those who are 50 and older

Save even more than 20% of your net income. This will make up for the years when you weren’t able to save enough.

Start thinking about when you’re going to take Social Security. The later, the better.

Consider reducing your expenses. You might consider downgrading your lifestyle, perhaps selling your house and moving to something smaller or moving to a less expensive part of the country. You can even do a trial run, renting an apartment in the area where you plan to move, to see if you like the lifestyle.

Get into the habit of living on a fixed income. Save the extra money. This helps you get ready for managing your spending in retirement.

If all goes well and you’ve saved enough, you may be able to retire comfortably in your 60s. If not, you’ve got to continue to play catch-up on savings and come up with ways to earn an income.

Achieving full financial independence so you don’t have to work isn’t easy. However, armed with enough knowledge and time, it is possible.

It’s easy to make small changes that will make a big difference in your retirement savings. Recent statistics highlight the need for some changes: Middle-class people in the USA have a median of $20,000 saved for retirement, far short of the $250,000 they think they’ll need during that time of their lives, according to a new Wells Fargo survey of 1,001 adults, ages 25 to 75, with a median household income of $63,000. (Median means half earn more, half less.)

More tips for saving

• Create a budget. Most people think creating a budget means they’ll be in a “financial straitjacket. They think a budget means deprivation. Instead of thinking of a budget as a list of what you can’t buy, you should look at it as a spending plan of action.

Cut spending without feeling deprived. Eliminate the things you won’t really miss so you don’t feel like you’re going into “severe restriction mode.” You might stop eating lunch out daily or cancel some cable TV channels that you don’t watch.

If you make one change in how you spend your money today, however small it may seem, you can make a difference in your retirement savings. When you combine several seemingly small changes, they can add up to make a big difference in your retirement savings over time.

• Don’t make minimum payments on credit card debt. It’s a complete financial trap. Minimum payments in the short run mean maximum payments in the long run. It means so much more money in interest. Instead, double and triple the minimum payments.

• Negotiate better interest rates on your credit cards. Don’t be afraid to call your credit card company. It’s a competitive market, which means you have leverage.

• Don’t dig yourself deeper into debt. Change whatever financial behavior got you into debt in the first place. This is something to keep in mind.

Many people end up in debt through no fault of their own. They may have been hit by what’s called “the dreaded D’s — downsizing, divorce, death of the main breadwinner, disability and disease. These are five personal pitfalls that can throw people into debt and limit their ability to save money. In this case, it may take time and patience to dig out of debt.

• Turbocharge your savings. Contribute to your 401(k) plan or other type of employer-sponsored savings plan, especially if you are getting a match, which is essentially free money. You are getting Uncle Sam’s help, too, because you’re not getting taxed on those contributions.

• Consider another turbocharged option. Look into getting an Individual Development Account. This program is available to low- to moderate-income people who want to save toward a specific goal, such as a down payment on a home, college costs or job training. These accounts are supported by non-profit groups, companies and government agencies and provide matching funds. The savings may be matched 2-to-1, 3-to-1 or even more.

America Saves Week
America Saves, I save, You save!

• Sell things you aren’t using. Take a look in your basement, attic, garage and drawers and get rid of things you’re not using. Sell them on websites or have a yard sale. This money should be earmarked for savings.

• Take advantage of pretax savings accounts through your employer. These may include flexible savings accounts, health savings accounts, dependent day care flex savings accounts and transportation flexible spending accounts. If you’re going to pay for those things, anyway, you might as well use pretax dollars.

• Plan for the unexpected. Have a financial capability account so that if you have an unexpected house or car repair or medical expense, you don’t have to stop saving for retirement or dip into your retirement savings.

• Learn to cook. One of my favorite non-traditional savings tips for people is to learn to cook. The savings come in many ways: less eating out, buying fewer packaged (more expensive) groceries and possibly eating a healthier diet, which could lead to lower long-term health care costs.

I’m looking forward to my retirement, and I hope you are too! What are some other tips you can give in order to save for retirement? Comment below and let me know.
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Teaching Your Children To Save

 Good savings habits start at home. Whether you’re budgeting, saving, making retirement decisions, or assessing work-place benefits, share the choices you make with your children, no matter their age. Teaching Your Children To Save is not hard, it's rather fun. It sets the foundation for future wealth building habits.

Tuesday, February 28: Family Savings Day

  • Good savings habits start at home. Whether you’re budgeting, saving, making retirement decisions, or assessing work-place benefits, share the choices you make with your children, no matter their age.

Saving money is one of the most important aspects of building wealth and having a secure financial foundation.  Yet many of us have learned the importance of saving money through trial and error, and more importantly, experience. In school, we aren’t really taught about the importance of saving and many of us find that as adults, we have to fend for ourselves. But there are ways to empower the next generation, and that starts by teaching children the importance of saving from a young age.  If you are a parent, in keeping with the America Saves Week theme of the day, family savings day, here are a few ways to teach your children about saving money.

START WITH A PIGGY BANK

A piggy bank can be a great way to teach your kids the importance of saving while giving them an easy way to do it.  Tell your kids that the goal is to fill up the piggy bank with dollars and coins until there is no room.  Illustrate that the piggy bank is for saving money for the future and that the more they save, the more their money will grow.

OPEN  A BANK ACCOUNT

Once the piggy bank is full, take your child to the bank to open a savings account for them.  Have them count how much money is going to be deposited, so they can have a physical understanding of how much money they have.  Show them the final number and reinforce the idea of interest.

It can provide a great source of motivation for your kids if they understand that their money will grow over time as long as they don’t touch it.  A great example of compound interest is to show how doubling a penny once every day for 30 days will eventually generate $10 million dollars!

USE SAVINGS JARS

When your kids really want the latest and greatest toy or a new action figure, let them know they will have to save for it.  Give them a jar for each of their desired purchases and offer them a small allowance each week in a denomination that encourages savings.

For example, if you give your child five dollars a week, give it to them in one dollar bills.  They can save all their cash for one purchase, or they can contribute to different “jars” for various savings goals.

To encourage saving for their short-term goals, put a picture of their desired toy or item on the jar, so they have a visual reminder of what they are working towards.

CREATE A TIMELINE

As a child, the concepts of money and time can be hard to grasp. Research has shown that the impact of a one-hour financial lesson wears off after about five months. In order to make the message stick, money education should be timely and ongoing.  If you know your child receives a $50 check for their birthday each year, the moment to talk about budgeting is right before receiving that check.

One way to keep money lessons ongoing is to create a timeline so that your child can visualize when they will reach their goal.

Let’s say you give them five dollars a week and they want to save fifty dollars.  If they saved one hundred percent of their allowance, they’d reach their goal in ten weeks, or roughly three months.

Start by getting a long piece of paper and a marker.  Have $0 on one side and $50 (or whatever goal amount) on the other side.  Create checkpoints on the paper for when they reach 25%, 50% and 75% of their goal.

Every time an amount is saved, draw a line illustrating how much was saved.  Let your kids know that they will get small rewards at each checkpoint. Small rewards can encourage kids to keep going.  Visuals are also helpful in illustrating their savings goals and how their money is growing.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Children learn by example, so the best way to teach your child about saving money is to save money yourself.  Have your own jar of money that you put funds in regularly.  When you’re out shopping, show your children how to discern between various prices and explain why buying one item makes better sense than another.

Reiterate the message that every time you get paid, you save a portion of your check to help prepare for the future.

START A CONVERSATION

One of the most important things you can do is to start a conversation about money and the importance of saving. Money doesn’t have to be scary or a taboo subject. Use financial discussions as teachable moments. An innocent question such as “Are we rich?” can be answered in a way that emphasizes family values, such as hard work and responsible spending.

Let your children know they can have an allowance, but it’s up to them to save up for things they really want.  In addition, illustrate how much their money can grow over time if they save.

Also, discuss the difference between needs and wants and tell your children you are always open to talking about money and new ways to save.  Ask them about what they want to save for.  Ask them what they want their future to look like.

Asking good questions can get them to think long-term and have a positive relationship with money.  Letting them know you’re always open to having a conversation about money can encourage them to ask questions of their own to keep learning.  You can find an age appropriate guide here, for teaching your children about money.

Teaching kids how to save money may seem like a tough task.  It has even been said that parents are more likely to talk to their children about sex than about money.  But using these tips, you can make your child’s understanding of money fun and accessible.  It’s an investment in knowledge which truly pays the best interest.

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Free Fun On A Rainy Day

free fun on a rainy day
Tangle and Tumble

This has been an amazing Thanksgiving weekend for me and my family. I enjoyed my grandchildren so much. They were a little bit bored,because they couldn’t go out to play. Now you know glamma, always has a trick up her sleeve. I pulled out Tangle & Tumble and the fun began! Soon they forgot all about outside! This game was less than $5.00 and purchased at the Five Below in Louisville, Kentucky. Thank you auntie Rayshaun, for this exciting game!

Free fun on a rainy day
Having fun!
free fun on a rainy day
Playmat

We even had a second Thanksgiving dinner with all the leftovers from Thursday! Saving money and having fun, that’s my kind of rainy day!

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to have fun!

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