Teaching Your Teen to be Financially Literate

Financial literacy is the facility to apply skills and knowledge to make wise financial decisions. Gaining these skills and knowledge is an ongoing process that begins in childhood.

Most states don’t have financial literacy requirements in education. It is on the parents and the children themselves to gain the necessary knowledge and skills. Unfortunately, many parents are as uncomfortable discussing money as they are discussing sex. They’re concerned about saying something wrong and not sure where to even start.

These suggestions will make it easier to educate your teenager about money issues:

      1. A game can be fun and educational. There are many free games online that teach financial skills. One good example is www.practicalmoneyskills.com/games. It’s a great way to get your budding tycoon off to a good start.

      2. Consider part-time employment for your child. It’s beneficial for a teenager to have a job during the summer. Some can handle a part-time job, particularly on the weekends while school is in session. Schoolwork should not suffer due to employment.
          • Your child begins to understand that sacrifices have to be made to earn money, even if the only sacrifice might be time.
          • Taxes become a lot more real and understandable.
          • Your teen also has to learn how to responsibly handle their money.
      3. Let them do a budgeting project. If you’re planning a vacation or looking for a cell phone plan, it might be a great opportunity to let your teenager do some research and present the findings to you. They’ll learn a lot, and you’ll get a break!
          • Give your child some parameters and provide helpful feedback on their work.
      4. Buying a car is commonly the first major financial event in a teen’s life. With a co-signer, your child should be able to get his first loan. This is a great opportunity to create a positive credit history.
          • They will also quickly learn about the additional expenses that come with certain purchases. There will be gas, insurance, maintenance, repairs, registration, and so on. It’s all these related expenses that must be considered when deciding if a major purchase makes financial sense.
          • Be hesitant to bail your child out if they struggle one month to meet their financial obligations. Help them work through the challenge.

      5. Credit and debt management are also important. Most adults wish they had done a much better job avoiding debt issues earlier in life. Credit is about being able to borrow money. Debt management is about being able to make good decisions about how much to borrow and paying it back reliably.
          • Teach your teen about credit scores and what determines a credit score. Explain how their credit score affects their ability to borrow money to buy a car or a house. It also affects their insurance rates and interest rates on loans.

Adding your child as an authorized user to your credit card will help them build credit. Pre-paid credit cards are another option. They might be able to get their own credit card when they’re 18.

Teaching your teen to make wise money and financial decisions has a huge effect on their happiness as an adult. Think about how much better off you likely would have been if you had been able to avoid major financial mistakes. Take the time to get your teenager off on the right foot. Start teaching them about personal finances today.

Top 10 Tips for Taking Back Control of Your Finances

Does thinking about your finances send a shiver up your spine? You may be afraid of your money. Your attitude towards money can affect you positively or negatively. Luckily, even if the thought of your finances fills you with dread, you can take certain actions that will enable you to take back control.  

These tips will help you get a handle on your finances:

    1. Don’t be afraid to handle your own bills. If you’re in the habit of having someone else handle your bills, begin doing them on your own and understand them. Take one day a month to sit down, go over your bills, and pay them.

    2. Consider getting a consolidation loan. If you have a lot of installment loans and credit cards, you may want to consider getting a consolidation loan. This type of loan combines all of your payments so you just make one per month and save money on interest fees.

    3. Ensure you’re saving money every month. A good rule of thumb to follow is to save 15% of your salary each month and put it into an account that earns interest. Once you’ve built an emergency fund that you’re comfortable with, start investing your savings.

    4. Consider refinancing your mortgage. When interest rates are lower than the one you started your mortgage with, you may be able to save thousands of dollars on your mortgage by refinancing. This is particularly true if you intend to stay in your house for years. Do the math to see if refinancing would be advantageous for you.

    5. Plan for vacations ahead of time. Plan for trips by joining travel clubs that can offer you tremendous savings. This can give you much more fun for your money.

    6. Make investments wisely. Investing in your future is good for you and your family. Seek professional help from a financial advisor if you’re unsure which investments would be right for you.

    7. Consider getting special accounts for Christmas and other special events. Do you always find that you’re short on funds during the holidays? Putting away a little bit each month can add up to a lot, when you save consistently.

    8. Car repairs may need a separate account too. Inspections and other repairs can cost a lot of money. Having a special account for these repairs can lessen the financial blow when you need to spend money on your car.

    9. Understand interest rates and fees on your credit cards. Make your payments on time to avoid extra fees. See if you can negotiate a lower interest rate with your credit card companies or switch to another credit card.

    10. Understand your taxes. If you can’t handle these yourself, hire a CPA to assist you. Learning how to do your taxes gives you a tremendous amount of confidence.

Rethinking your finances may take some patience on your part. These tips will help. Just try one strategy at a time. Once you get used to that strategy, add another. Repeat this routine until you’ve mastered all 10 tips. If you need further assistance, it could be beneficial to hire a financial planner to guide you through the details.

How to Protect Your Money While Using Mobile Payment Apps

Mobile payment apps make transferring money an easy process. However, it’s important to keep your personal finance information safe while using them.

Following these tips will help keep your information safe:

      1. Only use official mobile payment apps. The source of your apps matters. You want to avoid the fake ones.
          • Experts recommend obtaining the apps directly from the stores where you shop and not a random blog or sales page. Stores like Google Play and the Apple store also have official apps you can purchase.
          • Fake apps are floating around the Internet, so you’ll have to be careful.

      2. Get two-factor authentication. This type of authentication offers more protection for your finance and personal information.
          • Two-factor authentication is an extra step during the log-in process. After you sign up for it, you’ll have to enter your password plus a special code to get access to the app. The special code is usually sent via a text. This additional layer of authentication depends on your mobile phone number.

      3. Make your phone safer. Have you set up a pin and password for your phone? Making your mobile device safer is crucial to keeping your information from hackers.
          • It’s important to set up the pins, codes, and passwords before accessing the money apps.

      4. Be careful with public wi-fi. It may be best to save your mobile money app transactions for a secure network.
          • Public wi-fi is convenient, but it can be hacked. This could leave you vulnerable to people who want to get your personal and financial data.
          • Checking the network for security is essential before using an app to transfer money.
          • For an extra layer of protection, consider turning off wi-fi in a public area. This way you’re not tempted to use it by mistake because you forgot.

      5. Pay attention to your statements. The apps are easy to use and make transferring money a fast process, but you still have to pay attention to the statements and ensure each transaction is correct. You may want to log in frequently to check for updates.

      6. Report issues immediately. Waiting for issues to resolve on their own is not the best plan for mobile payment apps. If you see any transactions you don’t recognize on your statement or account, report them immediately. Transactions may be stopped before a hacker gets hold of your money. Also, report it to your bank.

      7. Consider a phone block app. Smartphones are a lifeline, so losing a phone can affect your business, family, and life. What would you do if you lost your phone?
          • You can download apps that will block access to your phone if it disappears or is stolen. These apps require you to enter a code or password from another device, and your missing smartphone is locked. This will add another layer of protection to your personal data.

      8. Check for updates often. Do you have automatic updates turned on? It’s important to keep the operating system on your mobile device current. Automatic updates will make the process easier, or you can do it manually.
          • Hackers search for vulnerabilities in older operating systems all the time, so keeping an updated phone is a good idea. You’ll have improved speed and the latest patches to stay safe.

Mobile payment apps are an easy way to send money. However, you’ll have to be careful while using them to protect your private information. Using these tips will enable you to take advantage of the convenience while bringing you greater peace of mind.

How to Become a Savvy Saver

During these difficult economic times, you may be wondering how you can save any money when you’re barely coming up with enough money to pay the bills. It’s important to be open to all kinds of ideas when it comes to saving money. If you’re willing to try anything to save money, your confidence will soar.

Consider these ideas to help you set aside funds for savings and investments:

    1. When it comes to saving, attitude is everything. What you think and feel about saving matters.
        • If you feel incredibly overwhelmed or pressured about saving, chances are that you’ll avoid doing it.
        • However, if you embrace the concept of saving and get behind the idea that you’re paying yourself for the future when you save, you’ll be quite excited about saving every payday and demonstrating some real saving savvy.
        • Avoid convincing yourself that you “can’t save because there’s just no money left after paying the bills.” Instead, tell yourself you will save something every week.
        • In general, it’s best to focus on positives and an “I can do it” attitude for saving money.

    2. Make a conscious decision to save money. Write this down and put it on a sticky note on your bathroom mirror: “I will save some money today.” Then do it.
        • Sometime each day, put some money aside for your savings, no matter how small the amount may be. Maybe you’ll save your change or maybe you’ll skip a cup of coffee or soda, but you will set something aside.
        • Deposit your daily savings into an account each week.

    3. If you must, start small. Even saving $5 or $10 per week is something. It signifies a commitment on your part to save.
        • It shows that you believe saving is important and that you can, in fact, succeed at it.
        • Starting small to work toward a larger goal shows you have saving savvy.

    4. Set a minimum weekly savings goal and promise yourself to exceed it. If you’re starting small, make an effort to exceed your minimum amount.
        • So, if you establish a weekly minimum goal of $7, anything over that amount is “gravy.”
        • Read on to see where you can find some “gravy.”

    5. Use coupons every single week at the grocery store. You can find coupons in newspapers, grocery store flyers, and all over the internet.
        • Your grocery receipt lists at the bottom how much you saved with coupons.
        • Take that amount of cash out of your purse and place it in an envelope for the bank.
        • Whether it’s fifty cents or $4.50, it’s money you saved.
        • Place your grocery savings into the bank where it will do some real good.
        • Now that is saving savvy.

    6. Learn from others who demonstrate saving savvy. Interview friends or family members who show they know how to manage money. Do you have a sister who’s an avid saver? A friend who always pays cash for his cars?
        • Ask to sit down with them and gather some of their saving savvy tips.
        • When did they start saving?
        • Where did they learn about saving money?
        • What tips for “beginners” do your saving savvy friends have to share with you?
        • Keep your mind open and pen in hand. Write down their tips.
        • Then, decide which tips will work for you and apply them in your life.

Keep a positive attitude and make a personal commitment to save. Set a weekly minimum savings goal and learn from the savvy savers you know. Practicing savvy saving will lead you to a brighter future.

15 Small Moves That Can Lead to Big Savings

Most of us would like to establish an emergency fund or pay off student loans. Big goals are great, but they can also be intimidating. There are small steps that nearly anyone can take to lead to big savings. Small steps are more comfortable and believable. For example, a moderate diet is easier to follow than a strict one.

Implement these small moves and reap the monetary benefits:

      1. Make one extra mortgage payment each year. It doesn’t have to be one extra payment made at the end of the year, though it could be. Instead, send in an additional 1/12 of a payment each month. On a 30-year mortgage, you’ll shave 5 years off your loan term by doing this.

      2. Automate your savings. Maybe you can only save $50 a month, but those regular deposits will eventually grow into a significant amount. Save what you can and do it on autopilot. Pay yourself first and you’ll ensure there’s some money in the bank.

      3. Watch less television. Consider cutting down your cable package. After all, how many of those 250 TV channels do you actually watch each week?

      4. Use automatic bill payment. If you avoid late payments, you’ll also avert late fees. Many banks include an automatic bill payment feature with their checking accounts.

      5. Drop your bad habits. Tobacco and alcohol products are pricey items. Your health and your bank account will both benefit if you stop drinking and smoking.

      6. Keep your old car for one more year. If you can stick it out for one more year, you can delay costly car payments and higher insurance premiums for another year.

      7. Consider refinancing your mortgage. Do a few calculations and see if refinancing makes sense for you at this time.

      8. Examine your cell phone plan. You might find that you can go with a cheaper cell plan without noticing the difference.

      9. Shop generic. From cereal to pharmaceuticals, there’s a lot of savings to be found with generic products. Some you might dislike, but you’ll find many that are exactly the same as far as quality.

      10. Use the library. Since you pay taxes, those books in the library are partly yours. Go get your free library card and check out a few books instead of buying them. Interlibrary loans ensure that you can get your hands on nearly any book, free of charge.

      11. Buy used books. Many websites have used books for a fraction of the price. Two such websites are abebooks.com and alibris.com. You can even sell your books when you’re done.

      12. Eliminate your home phone. The number of households with a landline lessens each year. Since you now have a cell phone, it’s hard to justify also needing a home phone.

      13. Avoid ATM fees. Stay within your ATM network or get cash back at the store when you use your debit card. It’s unnecessary to pay for accessing your money. After all, it belongs to you.

      14. Prevent yourself from overdrawing your bank account. Some people seem to do this regularly. At most banks, every overdraft costs roughly $35. Even if you’re only overdrawn a dollar, you’re now $36 in the hole.

      15. Take your lunch to work. Eating out is expensive, especially if you do it daily. Even fast food costs significantly more than bringing your own lunch.

Are you currently saving money in any of these ways? Could you benefit from adding a few more? Add up how much money you could save by implementing these financial moves and imagine what you could do with all that extra money!

7 Expenses You Can Cut Right Now

Saving money isn’t fun, but it doesn’t have to be painful. It’s not easy to increase your income significantly, but you can realize a significant savings in many areas of your finances with a little work.

Just a little sacrifice in several areas will lead to more money in your bank account. A few options might actually be more enjoyable than your current situation.

Save money each month by cutting your expenses in several areas:

      1. Health Club membership. How often do you really use your gym or health club? How much does each trip cost you? If you’re paying $75/month and only use it three times a month, you’re paying $25/visit. Could you stay at home, use your running shoes, a jump rope, and some second-hand dumbbells, and get the same results?

      2. Entertainment. Taking a family of four to a movie can cost $40 or more, and that doesn’t include the incredibly over-priced snacks. A streaming service will only set you back $10/month, and you can watch all the movies you can fit into your schedule. The snacks are less expensive at home, too. Everything is cheaper at home.

      3. Transportation. Depending on where you live, public transportation can be much less expensive than driving, especially if you normally pay for parking. If public transportation isn’t an option, share a ride. Each day you share with another person will save you roughly 20% on your gas expense. Add another person into the rotation and you’ll save 40%
          • Are you certain you have the best auto insurance rate? Have you checked lately? The difference in rates charged by different companies can be staggering.
      4. Utilities. Adjusting your thermostat by a one degree will lower your energy bill by 3%. Dropping your thermostat by three degrees in the winter and raising it three degrees in the summer will save nearly 10%! Wear a little less in the summer and dress more warmly in the winter. You’ll hardly notice the difference.

      5. Morning coffee. It’s true that coffee always seems better when you purchase it at the fancy coffee shop, but is it worth it? How much is it costing you each year? If you buy your coffee on your way to work, the numbers really add up.
          • $4 x 5 days/week x 52 weeks = $1,040 / year. Investing that money at 8% would result in over $50,000 in 20 years. Would you rather have $50,000 or a cup of coffee?
      6. Prescription medication. There are many ways to save money on prescription drugs.
          • Switch pharmacies. The prices can vary tremendously.
          • Purchase your medication online. If you have a long-term prescription, you can save a lot of money by ordering your medication and having it delivered to your door. It’s much more convenient, too.
          • Ask your doctor for a generic. Generics can cost 90% less for the same medication.
          • Become healthier. With healthier habits, you may be able to stop taking many of your medications, with your doctor’s approval.
      7. Eat at home more often. If you’re tired of eating the same things, buy a cookbook with enticing recipes. You can eat restaurant quality food at home with a little practice. Eating out is very expensive, and the experience only lasts an hour or so. Invite a few people over and show off your culinary skills.

Are there any other areas you could cut back or eliminate? A few, simple changes can result in big savings. Saving money doesn’t have to be painful. Look at your finances and eliminate the expenses that provide the least value to you.

How to Achieve an Abundance of Wealth

Do you truly believe that it’s possible to achieve the financial prosperity you deserve? There’s no one set way to achieve an abundance of wealth; all you must do is find your personal path. Every path to personal wealth, however, begins with the right frame of mind.

A Wealthy Mindset

A positive mindset is the most vital part of any plan for financial success. Before you can succeed in the world, you must see the success you seek in your mind’s eye and believe you can achieve it. 

One way to develop this mindset is to study what other wealthy people do. If possible, set up a meeting with someone you look up to. Ask about the steps they took to get to where they are today. You’ll likely find that they’re an ordinary person who took some specific actions that led to their success. If you take those steps, you can enjoy the same success.

Plan For Success

If you have no idea where to begin, start by brainstorming ideas about practical ways to increase your income. Read books about inspiring entrepreneurs. Find business people in your community who can mentor you. Learn from those who have gone before you and found the success you seek.

If you have an idea about a business venture or additional income stream, brainstorm the next small steps you can take that will lead you in the direction of your dreams. What small step could you take today that will move you closer to your goal? How about tomorrow, and the next day?

Set clear goals and write them down. Plan out each small step and set a realistic timeframe to accomplish it. Get moving toward your goal by achieving something small each day. If you do, you’ll create unstoppable momentum that almost guarantees your success.

Be Flexible When Things Go Wrong

Things aren’t always going to go according to plan. Things will go wrong, but your response to the obstacles you face will determine your level of financial success. If you miss a deadline you’ve set or your results disappoint you, simply notice what’s working and what isn’t. Change your approach until you get what you want.

Grow Your Wealth

As your income begins to grow, alter your plans so you can experience greater financial prosperity. As you near the completion of each goal on your list, set a more exciting goal to replace it. This approach will help you to grow both financially and mentally.

Continue to challenge yourself. Celebrate each success along the way, but keep moving forward. Set goals for promotion in your career, sales in your business, and money in your bank account. Remember to set personal goals, too. Financial prosperity is worth little without a balanced life that allows you to enjoy that prosperity.

Listen to the Right People

Have you ever notice how people are quick to give advice about everything? Only listen to people who are experiencing more financial prosperity than you are. Why would you trust the advice of someone who’s broke? This is true in every area of life. Why take parenting advice from people without kids? Or job advice from someone who’s perpetually unemployed?

The people with the wisest advice are the ones who have practical experience that has led to success. If you can imitate what they’ve done, you’ll likely achieve similar results.

Most importantly, keep pursuing your financial dreams no matter what. If you set effective goals, envision your success, find wise mentors, and keep taking action, you’ll experience the financial independence you deserve.

4 Effective Strategies to Regain Control Over Your Spending

Losing control is an awful feeling. Have you ever felt that way about your spending habits? At first, you had them under control. But, little by little, that control may have seemed to go by the wayside.

The good news is that with some slight adjustments to your life, you can turn your finances back around.

Follow these suggestions to take charge of your spending:

      1. Talk to a professional. As extreme as it sounds, it might help to seek assistance from a professional. You may want to visit a psychologist to help you understand why you’re spending and if you’re possibly suffering from an addiction.
          • In talking with your psychologist, you might discover that your poor spending habits are tied to something else missing in your life.
          • Seek the support of your family and close friends as you try to correct the issue.

      2. Assess your spending. Take a look at the things you spend your money on and consider the benefit they bring to your life. Be honest and rate the necessity of each. You’ll likely find that a lot of unnecessary spending takes place!
          • Look at all of the things you’ve bought over the years. How many of your purchases provided prolonged fulfillment?
          • As spending gets out of control, the importance of what you’re buying diminishes. It becomes a bad habit that’s difficult to break.
          • This assessment can help you come face to face with your demons. Take your expenditures at face value. You’ll probably find yourself asking, “Why in the world did I buy that?”

      3. Consult a banker. One of the easiest ways to take control is to put your money away in the bank. Talk to a banker and figure out ways to add to your savings each month. Consider options that prevent you from touching the money in the short term
          • Automatic deposits are usually best because they promote serious savings. And they also give you risk-free returns on your investment. Set up a system where you immediately send a specified amount of money to your savings account each time you get paid. Start small if you have to, but designate something for savings.
          • Keep a family member in the loop and ask them to help you commit to your savings plan. Having support is important when you’re trying to change your habits.

      4. Get in touch with your spirituality. Sometimes overspending ties in with a lack of self-awareness. What kind of person do you want to be? What’s important in your life? Take some time to build your spirituality. It may open your eyes!
          • Spend some time each day meditating. Block out everything around you and focus on what’s inside your soul.
          • Live for those things that are most important to you because they represent your truth.

Negative spending habits tend to get worse unless you take conscious action to turn them around. Take the necessary steps to eliminate overspending and replace it with positive action. You’ll be glad you did.