May 14, 2013
Technology provides an anytime/anywhere experience, but can it help us reach financial security tomorrow?
Nearly one in three (31%) Americans say they find the immediacy of society today (email, texting, instant messaging, etc.) distracting, and an alarming 69% say the fast pace makes it hard to stick to long term goals, according to recent Northwestern Mutual research.
To balance the benefits of technology with thoughtful, longer term planning, use technology as a tool to help facilitate small steps toward greater financial goals. Help your family learn and practice good financial habits with the following tech-savvy tips.
Technology may continue to revolutionize the way we live, but the basic tenants for successful, long term financial planning – and good financial habits - never change.
March 27, 2013
Get Educated for Financial Literacy Month
April is Financial Literacy month so it's a great time to sit down with your kids and talk about money matters. Consider it a type of 'New Year' for your money habits and use it as a jumping off point to help your family learn about financial planning, save more and spend smarter in the year ahead.
Focusing early on financial education has never been more important. Kids today have the chance to live well into their 120th year and along the way they'll need to be able to spend, save, grow and protect their assets through every life phase from college to home ownership to marriage and kids, on into retirement.
As a parent, you have many important things to teach them. First and foremost is imparting them with a real and practical understanding of money. This will put your kids on a better path to long-term financial security. Think of it as the gift you give today to their future selves.
Here are a few tips to help get you started this month:
TheMint.org is just one resource that can provide tips and tools to help you raise money-smart kids.
Here's to a financially fit year!
February 11, 2013
Why Your Family Needs an Emergency Fund
In life, it's wise to expect the unexpected. Having a financial cushion is a smart strategy to keep you and your family on firm ground when the unforeseen happens. An emergency fund can help protect you from the burden of assuming additional debt to meet unanticipated financial pressures. A sudden job loss, death in the family, accident, or large home and auto repairs can be managed with an emergency fund in place. You may already know that risk products are a great way to accrue funds and protect your income, but an emergency fund will serve as an important component of your broader strategy for managing a wide range of risks.
How Much Do I Need?
How Can I Get Started?
Where Should I Keep it?
Don't let the unexpected derail your financial wellness. Plan for the unforeseen by creating an emergency fund today.
January 9, 2013
Tech Tools for Money Matters
Innovations in technology have made managing our personal finances easier than ever. If you currently pay bills with checks or track your accounts with a pen and paper, 2013 may be the year to start using personal financial technologies. If you are already tech-savvy in this arena, you can look forward to some exciting emerging tools, such as virtual wallets or mobile payment capabilities for items scanned with your smartphone.
These smartphones and hand-held devices allow us to engage in a wide range of money-smart behaviors including checking account balances, transferring money or obtaining e-receipts with a few taps on a touch screen.
Consider a few ways these tools can support your use of technology for money-conscious decision-making:
If you’re not already using technology to enhance how you approach money management, now might be the time to see how you can improve your financial decision-making.
November 26, 2012
Simple Tips for Sticking to Your Holiday Budget
The holiday shopping season has arrived (already?)! For many of us this means creating to-do lists and putting a spending plan in place. Even with a budget, it's easy to get off track. Here are some tips that will help you create and stick to your holiday budget:
November 21, 2012
Re-Gifting Do's and Don'ts
With so many presents to buy during the holiday season for family members, friends and acquaintances, re-gifting items you don't like or won't use doesn't seem like a bad idea. In fact, it's kind of like recycling, right? If you agree that re-gifting is a budget-smart strategy, here are some do's and don'ts to consider before the holiday season.
October 24, 2012
Raising Thankful Kids
With Thanksgiving approaching, many of us wonder if we're doing enough to raise our children to be thankful -- to acknowledge and appreciate what matters in their lives and to show their gratitude to others. While these may be hard concepts for young children and even those in their tween years to fully understand, the concepts serve as essential lessons to help kids establish meaningful and healthy relationships with others, as well as to promote good feelings about themselves.
Most parents see the importance of training our pre-school age children to say "please" and "thank you" when they ask for Goldfish crackers or receive a goodie bag at the end of a birthday party. Teaching children manners is a great start, yet it is extremely important that we continue to cultivate and reinforce an 'attitude of gratitude' in our growing children that goes beyond etiquette, but into their hearts.
Here are a few suggestions to help accomplish the goal of raising a thankful child (even though it is natural for them to always want more, more, more.)
September 12, 2012
Kids Buying Apps: Money lessons for kids who want to use real money to buy virtual "stuff"
Most of us parents would agree that it's way too easy for our little ones to buy apps when they borrow (or remove from our handbags and dressers) our hand-held devices. If it hasn't happened to you, surely you have a friend whose child has racked up significant charges with a few simple clicks without parental consent or even knowledge. It's hard enough to teach our children about the value of money, but now there is an added challenge when kids make purchases without seeing or touching real dollars. About half of all children paid for their first digital content by the tender age of seven, according to a study by NPD Group, a leading market research firm. It's no surprise that computer games follow music as the most frequently purchased items by children.
And, while there are technological safeguards that can be put in place to prevent accidental app purchases by changing settings or adding password protections, that only addresses part of the problem. Unless parents use their children's interest in buying apps as an opportunity to talk to their kids about the value of money, we are missing a huge chance to impart important money lessons. Chief among these lessons: the difference between wants vs. needs. Children that are old enough to play these games have the capacity to understand that people have basic requirements for living healthy lives such as eating, drinking, sleeping, wearing protective clothing, getting exercise and so forth. They can also understand that eating at restaurants or buying items from a snack bar are wants, as are new designer clothes and fancy sports equipment. Parents can explain that those things are enjoyable extras, but we don't have to have them to survive. We like playing video games or listening to music, but we don't need new apps to live.
A tip for helping teach your children about spending vs. saving starts by mapping out a way for them to save for the items they most want to purchase. They should commit to writing down on paper the item(s) they want in a notebook. They can use allowance (if applicable) or tooth fairy money, or you can help this process along by giving them small jobs around the house, such as taking out the trash or watering the plants, to help them earn money. Once your child sees how much effort goes into making a purchase, he or she will begin to understand the value of a dollar.
What makes online buying harder to grasp is that kids who have little experience with these basic money concepts can't see, feel or smell the money that is being spent. Why not take cash and a credit card out of your wallet as you explain these concepts. You can show them that a dollar bill equals a dollar that your credit company lends you, but you need to pay it back each month or you will owe more and more and more. It's not an easy concept for younger kids to understand, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to explain these concepts. Over time, money talk will sink in and you'll be doing your part to help raise a child who will grow to be a financially responsible adult.
August 8, 2012
Many families already know lessons on sticking to a budget happen at the hot dog stand!
According to our latest poll, this summer when families head off to festivals, theme parks or county fairs, most parents (80%) will cover admission costs and half of all parents will give their kids a set amount of money they are allowed to spend on extras and food creating opportunities to teach them about spending within their means. Only 7% of parents will buy their kids 'anything they want' and an equal number of parents won't let kids spend any money on extra items. A third of parents (34%) will let their kids spend their own money for extras.
July 2, 2012
School's out, summer spending is in
Talk with your kids about making the most of your summer dollars
Longer days, warmer temperatures and lots of free time create more reasons for spending money. During the hectic school year, we're often too rushed to provide our kids with everyday lessons about spending. For instance, we may not explain how purchasing the big box of cereal, instead of the individual packages, saved money on the grocery bill. However, summer is a great time to introduce and reinforce important lessons about sticking to a budget while still having fun.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
By working with your kids to make budget-friendly choices, you'll reinforce smart money habits they can carry with them for years to come. Even better, you'll have money saved up for back-to-school shopping.