Money Lessons for Young Children

But the best news is that helping them to develop these habits can be fairly simple! I’ve put together some basic steps – many of these may not seem like rocket science, but my job is to be a coach and a goad for you to do the things which you already may “know” to do!

1.     Give them an allowance-with strings. Don’t just give them an allowance for doing nothing – this actually defeats the purpose! You can buy your young children whatever they ask for, so they don’t need “spending money”. Instead, see an allowance as a training tool: your children should learn that money is earned by working. Believe it or not, this isn’t an obvious connection for a young child! Because a kindergartner truly is able to help with small chores around the house, you can put them to work and let them earn their allowance this way. Rather than seeing it as a “bribe”, or some sort of indentured servitude, this is a critical knowledge base for a young child.

2.     The old lemonade stand. Encourage this! And do it with adult supervision. Your child will learn how to make a product, market it and sell it. While the idea is to teach good money habits, they are also learning valuable life lessons – nothing sells itself, after all. (Though with cute kids, that’s sometimes the case!)

3.     Saving and investing. Rather than showering your young child with gift after gift, encourage them to go through the process of working towards a savings goal. You can always “supplement” this process, but having your child save up for an item will teach them that nothing comes for free. In return, children also learn that the items you buy them have real value and should be treated as such.

This might, even, cut down on those “negotiations” so familiar to parents who bring their children into stores!

4.     Cold, hard cash. A lot of children nowadays are so used to seeing parents pay with debit and credit cards that they may not know what actual money looks like! This is a new-generational issue, and it’s important that your children learn that money is more than a mouse click, or a card swipe. Show your kids the different types of money – coins, bills, etc. and tell them the monetary amount for each.

When you go shopping, let your child have a try at paying for certain items. This will help them feel quite grown up, and again – they see that transactions don’t just “happen”, they cost.

Posted on June 2, 2011 Read More

How To Prepare Your Finances For Emergencies

1) Put $1,000 aside. It doesn’t amount to a real emergency fund, but it will do until you get your finances in order. You can accumulate the $1,000 by allocating $10 a day for just over three months. Most people go into debt because they live hand to mouth, spending 100% of their take-home pay. Then life happens. Having a mini-emergency fund can help you get out of debt and stay out of debt.

2) Remove yourself from credit card debt-forever. I suggest paying off your credit card by starting with the smallest balance in order to achieve small successes and then working to snowball your payments as you tackle the larger balances. These first two steps, having $1,000 and paying off debt, simply prevent you from facing a financial emergency by starting out wounded and bleeding.

3) Improve your ability to handle fluctuating monthly expenses. If you can, set up a monthly budget so your day-to-day expenses are less than 65% of your take-home pay. The difference between those growing rich and those remaining poor is not the salary they make. It is the salary they keep. Relative to their income, the rich are frugal. They save and invest. They spend less than 65% of their take-home pay on day-to-day expenses. They save at least 10% in their retirement accounts and another 5% in taxable savings. They direct another 10% toward unknown big purchases. And they even live frugally enough to give another generous 10% to charities.

4) Automate your cash flow to promote saving and investing. Every month, have 10% transferred into your retirement account before you receive your paycheck. Then automate the transfer of 25% of your take-home pay into an investment account a day or two after your paycheck is deposited. Automating your savings makes savings a high priority and ensures that you pay yourself first. This investment account will grow over time, and you can use it to pay for big emergencies and charitable gifts.

5) Set up an asset allocation for your investments that’s diversified for safety while being invested for growth. If you make it to this step, you’re well ahead of the game…but the game ain’t over yet! Diversification works, and it’s never more obvious than in times of market turmoil. Without diversification, portfolios can have a zero return over a decade. After being well diversified, the likelihood of no return over a decade drops significantly.

6) (If necessary) Mobilizing during an actual emergency. Having the discipline to budget for small financial emergencies will help you be prepared when you encounter larger financial crises. When some unknown spending need strikes, take the money to cover the expense from your growing emergency fund. Then, determine if you have been budgeting for this level of unknown expenses adequately.

Usually emergencies don’t happen. So the money you have socked away makes more money. Keep an emergency fund for several years and it should double in value, giving you an additional emergency fund. Whether you need it or not, being prepared for a financial emergency means peace of mind, knowing that your lifestyle is frugal, so you won’t be in trouble.

Posted on May 1, 2011 Read More

A Different Kind Of Retirement Planning

Because retirement can last 20 to 30 years, it’s more important than ever that “pre-retirees” (those who plan to retire in five to seven years) practice how they want to live without work as the organizational focus of their lives:

• Try out different retirement lifestyles. For example, many people dream of selling the family home and traveling in an RV or going abroad. Practice this by renting a camper and going on the road for a long vacation. You may discover that travel is exhausting or boring. The same holds true for relocation dreams. Rent a home where you think you may want to retire to see if it really is where you’d like to move. The weather may not suit you, or the community may not be your cup of tea. Work these details out before you commit to an expensive change.

• Live with your spouse 24 hours a day. Most couples spend much of their early years working and, thus, spending much of their time apart. It may take some time to get used to the other person’s schedule, habits, and routines.

• Practice living on a retirement budget. Most retirees’ income is significantly less than their preretirement income. Add up all the Social Security benefits, pension income, and 401(k) and IRA savings to calculate what you can realistically expect to live on each month. Then live on that amount for a month to determine what changes, if any, you need to make to your plans.

Posted on April 15, 2011 Read More

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