I’m still cleaning walls. This job seems to be neverending, but one good result is that I've lost all desire to upgrade to a larger home. (I don't want any more walls to clean.) Last week I had to move the couches in the front room so that I could get to the walls. Underneath the couches was a big mess. I thought it would take me a few minutes to clean the front room, but it took several hours! My kids had shoved items under and behind the couches instead of throwing and putting the stuff away. I hadn’t realized that area was even getting cluttered because the clutter hid beneath the couch. I found broken junk, dirt, books, socks, shoes, and a lot of pens. Now I know why I can’t ever find a pen!
Like the couch, financial clutter is often unseen. It can be an overwhelming mess that we don’t want to uncover. I’ve observed so much pain result from cluttered finances. I hope the next few suggestions are helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed with finances.
To be honest, I felt like throwing away everything that was underneath the couches. I almost did but if I had, I would have caused other problems. It’s hard to know where to start when you’re in a mess. Financially, we can also feel like giving up. It’s not a fun feeling. When I help a family make a budget, the first thing we do is to sort through the bills and the income. We examine one financial item at a time and figure out how much is due, when it is due, and how it will be paid. This is such a simple idea, but I’ve seen people change from feeling overwhelmed to feeling hopeful. It’s not hard to sort through bills, but it is time-consuming so the next suggestion can be helpful.
I have had several exercising friends over the years. It helps so much to have them exercise with me. It is helpful when they know about weight equipment and nutrition. But, even when they don’t, it helps to have someone to exercise with me. Finances can be the same way. Sometimes it just helps to have someone alongside you. It could be a spouse, friend, parent, or sibling. It really just needs to be someone who cares about you. If they have financial background, it can be helpful, especially if they are working on financial goals. We can all find someone who doesn’t mind helping us because it helps them too. It helps them to be motivated. It helps them to serve. So, it’s good for everyone. My cleaning buddy was my five year old. When she stayed with me, it was helpful. When she left, it was much harder.
That was not the first time I cleaned under the couch. In fact, my husband had cleaned behind it recently. We were both amazed at how quickly it became cluttered. Unless our family changes the habits that caused the clutter, the problem can recur. Clutter can easily come back. Financially, I have seen this happen. Oftentimes, we are making big changes, so it’s going to take more than one time. Just like exercising, each day we need to find motivation to do it. We also need to do this with our finances.
No matter how cluttered your finances may seem, you can work through it and remove the clutter. It’s such a peaceful feeling that is worth the effort.
Are you a regular at Target? If you love the store’s wide layout and great discounts, you’ll want to know this money hack! Target has a simple system for all markdowns. When the last number of a price is an eight, that item’s price may later be reduced further. If the last digit of the price is a four, that’s the lowest it’ll go. So, if you see a must-have sweater on sale for $19.88, don’t throw it in your cart just yet! Hold off a little bit and maybe you’ll get an even better deal.
Target also has a weekly system to determine which categories of items go on sale, as follows:
Monday: electronics, accessories, kids’ clothing, books, baby, stationery
Tuesday: women’s clothing, pets, food items
Wednesday: men’s clothing, health, beauty, diapers, lawn and garden, furniture
Thursday: housewares, lingerie, shoes, toys, sporting goods, décor, luggage
Friday: auto, cosmetics, hardware, jewelry
What was the best deal you ever found at Target or any other retail store? Share your story with us in the comments!
Growing up, my family loved watching sports together. My younger brother wrote down all of the players' names and kept track of their stats as the games were played. I hadn't seen a Jazz game for a decade until Ty's boss gave us tickets earlier this year. We sat on the fourth row and were so completely entertained that my kids didn't fight or complain at all! It's exciting for our Utah Jazz to advance in the playoffs and play the Golden State Warriors! But, the most important statistics to us individually don't have much to do with the NBA playoffs.
Have you seen the classic game of Family Feud? Why do the family teams care what the “survey said.” Because, if the families guess the responses that were the most common answers, they can win the prize money. In a personal finance class I just taught, we took a financial quiz. I read a lot of financial surveys to prepare for this class. Three of the statistics from these surveys impacted me the most. More importantly than finding out what the surveys said, is to find out what you think about these statistics!
Could you cover an unexpected expense that cost $1,000? We’ve had a whole lot of rainy days here in Northern Utah the past couple of weeks. We don’t know when, but we know that it will rain. I don’t mind being wet, but I don’t like feeling cold, which always follows my getting wet. We have regular financial storms too. We don’t know when they will hit, but we know that they will hit. An emergency fund protects my family from getting rained on and being left in the cold financially. There are different opinions on how much an emergency fund should be. Because of the emergencies my family has experienced, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with an $1,000 emergency fund, but it’s a great place to start. Do you agree with having an emergency fund? If you were surveyed about having an emergency fund, what would you say? Has an emergency fund ever helped you work through changes in your life? Does an emergency fund matter to you?
I am a fan of having an emergency fund for many reasons, but I’ll share the most recent experience with our emergency fund. My husband Ty changed jobs 6 months ago, and we had a two month waiting period to enroll in the new employer’s health insurance plan. Ty’s employer generously offered to reimburse us for the cost of the COBRA health insurance coverage for the two month waiting period. However, we had to pay for the insurance first before it could be reimbursed. Our emergency fund allowed us to pay for that insurance coverage. When we were reimbursed, we deposited the money back into the emergency fund so that it will be there the next time that we need it. The emergency fund relieved and prevented a lot of stress for us. I recommend an emergency fund to you because it has helped my family adjust to life's changes.
Again, it doesn’t matter whether this survey is accurate, it matters what is true for you. Do you have a retirement savings account? Are you saving regularly for retirement? Just like the rain is sure to come in springtime in Utah, retirement is going to happen as we age. If you don’t have retirement savings, or if you haven't saved as much as you wished you had, it’s not too late to make a plan and work towards retirement.
Am I saving for retirement? Yes! Have I saved enough for retirement? No, but we are making progress. With so many financial emergencies and financial pressures, I understand how retirement can slip into the background of your finances. My husband and I try to keep them in the forefront and make retirement a priority for our family, but to be honest, sometimes we have to cut back our retirement savings. Our retirement contributions increased when our income increased and decreased when our income decreased. Although I’m not retired, I have mentors and friends who are retired. They advise me to save for retirement throughout my working life, and I trust them. I believe in saving for retirement!
Do you talk about money with your friends and family? If you have children, do you give them opportunities to save, share, and spend money? Do they understand that a $20 bill is worth much more than a $1 bill? My kids may think that I talk with them too much about money. I talk about it all the time because we use money all of the time.
My 5 year old daughter and I ran a lot of errands this past week. I told her we were going shopping and encouraged her to bring her Hello Kitty purse and five dollars. On the way to the store, she told me that she wanted a ball. I let her spend her money as she wanted. At the first store, she bought some cotton candy. The price rang up higher than the price listed. It turns out that the cotton candy was in the wrong spot on the shelf. I asked her if she still wanted it. She bought the overpriced cotton candy, and she was excited that she still had money left. At the next store, she saw the bulk bins of salt water taffy in the middle of the isle and bought that. She used her last few quarters to ride the Clifford ride at the front of the store. Although it was hard for me to watch her spend money on candy, I let her experience spending her own money.
I think she learned a lot that day. By going on the Clifford ride, she learned what a quarter looks like. (The machine only took quarters.) Even though I didn’t agree with her spending choices, I felt proud of her for learning what a quarter was and being able to spend money on her own. At the last store, she saw a tiara that she wanted badly, and I explained that she had enough money at the beginning of the day to buy the tiara, but she didn’t any left. She replied, "But I didn’t know they would have this.” We talked about figuring out what she wanted and then not getting distracted by other items.
Surveys are just one tool to find out how our personal finances are going. Are the statistics from these surveys true for you?
As you cheer for your favorite NBA team, I hope you think about the most important financial statistics for your life.
Managing money is a foundational life skill. There are so many factors involved and so many open-ended questions at play. How much should you be saving? When is it worth spending more? How do you keep spare change from burning a hole in your pocket? It takes years of discipline and training to perfect this skill, and ongoing self-control to maintain it.
That's why it's best to give your kids a head start on money management and saving. As a parent or guardian, remember that the lessons you plant today will take root and blossom, enriching your child's life for years to come.
Here at Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, we understand the enormity and difficulty of this task. In honor of National Credit Union Youth Month, we're focusing on ways to help make this process as smooth and as simple as possible.
Wasatch Peaks is proud to offer specialized savings accounts that are designed just for kids.
Our youth savings accounts offer no monthly service fee and no minimum balance to earn rewards to help you teach your child that saving money always pays.
We're more than just a place for your kid to keep their money, though. We also want to help your young ones learn all about money management. To do that, we go out of our way to make banking fun and kid-friendly. When your child has an open Kids Club Account with Wasatch Peaks they also have free access to fun kid websites, online games, MONEY MOO$E™ Kids Club Peaks Passbook™, prizes, and more.
When adolescence overtakes childhood, kids need a sense of independence and autonomy. We get this. That's why the holders in our Young Members Accounts are eligible for a Free Visa Debit Checking Card and we’ll refund your ATM fees, nationwide (up to $25 monthly). With our Kasasa Tunes checking account, teens earn $5 every month in iTunes® or Amazon.com downloads! Learning responsible saving habits at an early age will prepare your kids for a sound financial future.
Ready to open an account for your child? Does your child already have one? Read on for three steps to take for ensuring your child gets the most out of a new or existing account:
Now that your child's money will be sitting in an account instead of a piggy bank, let her use this opportunity to save up for something big. Sit down with her and discuss what she'd like to save for. You can create a long-term goal, like saving up for college or for a first car. Also establish a short-term goal, like a new gaming console or a hoverboard.
Set a date for your goals, and then set up a savings calendar for illustrating how much money needs to be saved each month to reach the intended target by the designated date. Discuss ways to add to the savings, being sure to include money from birthday gifts, summer jobs, allowances and chores.
Whether your child is a first-grader or a lanky teenager, if this is their first time owning an account, they'll need you to show them the ropes.
Always bring your young child along with you when you stop by Wasatch Peaks to deposit his savings. Show him how it works and let him see the account balance growing. If your child asks you to withdraw money from his account, make sure he sees how this translates into a dip for his savings.
For teens, you'll need to walk them through that first deposit and withdrawal. When they've probably got the hang of it, it's time to take a step back and let them be on their own. They'll feel like a million dollars managing their account independently.
However, share with your teen that every swipe of their debit card also means a dent in their account balance. Also be sure to warn kids of all ages about security. They should know to never share their account information with anyone, and to keep their debit card in a safe place.
Don't aim to be a helicopter parent, but do keep an eye on your child's account. If he's depositing a lot less than planned, ask him where his money is going. Speak to him about money management and impulse purchases.
Remember: Every financial lesson you teach your child today equips them with money management skills for a lifetime.
How do you maximize the benefits of having a youth account for your child? Share your best tips and techniques with us in the comments!
The first step to teaching your kids about money is talking about money.
“The most effective way to teach is by having frequent discussions and don’t ever lecture,” said Ted Beck, president and chief executive of the National Endowment for Financial Education, in a recent Wall Street Journal article. “Look for teachable moments and always be willing to answer questions.”
Unfortunately, this can also be the hardest.
A 2015 T. Rowe Price survey found that 72% of parents experienced at least some reluctance to talk to their kids about financial matters, and 18% were either very or extremely reluctant. The most common reasons given were that the parents didn’t want them to worry about financial matters or thought they were too young to understand.
But on his blog, the personal-finance guru and radio host Dave Ramsey encourages parents to be more open with their kids about money, even their failures. Parents’ biggest regrets are often not saving enough or going into too much debt, wrote Ramsey. Being honest about that in an age-appropriate way, he stated, can be a powerful lesson.
So how to start the talk?
What kind of saver is your child? One who saves happily, or with a scowl? To find out, stop by one of our branches during National Credit Union Youth Month.
Every saver is unique, but most people who save regularly developed the habit early in life. Learning to delay gratification in order to save for long-term goals is a crucial life skill, and one that Wasatch Peaks is committed to helping our youngest members develop.
That’s why we, at Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, create programs and services designed specifically for young people. With a Wasatch Peaks Credit Union MONEY MOO$E™ Kids Club account, you can start teaching your children or grandchildren (up to 12 years-old) the importance of saving for the future.
The MONEY MOO$E™ Kids Club is a savings account that is designed to help your child succeed financially from a young age and throughout life. Wasatch Peaks offers Display Prizes for kids to collect whenever they make a deposit.
MONEY MOO$E™ teaches three important financial concepts: Save, Share, and Spend. As a member of the MONEY MOO$E™ Kids Club, kids will receive:
Visit a Wasatch Peaks Credit Union branch to open a MONEY MOO$E™ Kids Club Account today!
As parents, we often sign our kids up for soccer teams, swim, piano or dance lessons. But there aren’t any lessons for them to learn personal finance. My son is in first grade, and he is learning what money is and how much each coin is worth. However, it’s up to us as parents to teach him how to use money and to develop healthy financial habits. As parents, we want our children to be financially fit, and avoid some of our mistakes.
Here’s a few financial habits we can teach our children as part of daily life.
In our family, we give our kids a chance to earn money every week. My eleven-year-old daughter told me that her friends don’t have to earn money: they get allowances. She said that she has the worst life out of them. We value work and want them to understand that they earn money from working. They can earn as many dollars per week as their age. So my five year old can earn $5 per week - $275 per year! However, we struggle to consistently record and consistently have payday. We are going to work on that.
Our kids like to count their money. My younger kids still think every dollar is equal. I explained to my daughter that one $5 bill is worth five $1 bills.
We teach our kids to save for specific goals. Last week we realized it can be nice to have general savings also. My daughter was invited to go to Alaska to attend her cousin’s baptism. Jackie had several hundred dollars saved, and we had a vacation fund. We agreed to match her savings. So, she paid half of the airline tickets, and we paid the other half. When unexpected opportunities arise, it is nice to have some flexibility with our savings. She is so excited because she hasn’t seen this cousin and her family for 9 months, although she says it feels like it's been years. I encouraged my other children to keep saving so that they can take advantage of similar opportunities that they will have.
I love to see my kids give, but I don’t force them to give. We give, and our kids notice. I always let whoever is helping me at the store keep the coin change. While I was busy loading the groceries, my 4-year-old daughter put her change into the donation container, which was sitting on the counter. As we walked away, she exclaimed, “I gave money to help the sick people in the hospital!” That warmed my heart.
Shopping gives me so many chances to teach my kids about money. I don’t always take kids shopping because it takes 3 times longer, and it is very tiring. For example, last Monday, we went shopping as a family activity. Our boys ran around the store fighting. But, shopping with kids is worth it because of the teaching opportunities it brings. As we shop and see a lot of cool things, my young kids usually ask to get them. I often reply, “It’s not on the list.” My four year old isn’t the only one that struggles with this. I often want to buy things that are not on the list. She happily tells me, “It’s not on the list.” This is teaching them, and me, to prioritize and to use self control.
At the end of the shopping trip, I let the kids pay for the groceries. I was with my five-year-old last week. The total was 19.56. He paid with a twenty dollar bill. The cashier asked if he would get some change. He said, “No.” That opened up a conversation afterwards. We discussed which one is greater: $20 or $19. I really appreciate that patient cashier who help teach my child. Through this, he is learning the value of money.
We went to Walgreens to pick up some pictures. I let Chloe (4) and her friend look at all the Easter toys. She wanted to buy a stuffed animal. I showed her how much it cost, and explained that she could bring her money back to get it. She asked, “Can we come back today?” I told her that we probably could. We completely forgot about the item that she wanted. I didn’t remember about it until I wrote this post! This experience taught patience and focus.
My oldest daughter has her own library card and checks out her books. She told me she had a $2 fine and she was bringing a five dollar bill. We rode our bikes to the library, and she paid her fine. She is learning responsibility.
All of these stories I mentioned happened in just one week’s time. What money teaching moments have you had in the past week?
Life gives so many chances to teach our kids about handling money and to help them develop good financial habits. As I teach them, I also learn from them and with them. It can be tiring. Being consistent is challenging, but we’re succeeding as long as we keep trying!
How do you choose what financial information to impart to kids? What’s really important? Perhaps surprisingly, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the most important money lessons actually have nothing to do with money.
That’s the central theme of its new report, Building Blocks to Help Youth Achieve Financial Capability. This report, available online from the CFPB, breaks down financial literacy into three skills: executive function, financial habits and norms, and financial knowledge and decision-making. This conclusion comes from a fusion of educational research and social psychology, and it’s an important guide for parents.
Financial knowledge and decision-making are the most often included elements in financial literacy. It’s the stuff you know. Financial habits and norms are the behaviors and conditions children come to expect. Some of this can be taught, but it’s mostly a matter of observation and socialization. Kids pick up these habits and norms from watching their parents and other adults.
Most importantly, the skill of executive function can be developed even at ages when most financial knowledge cannot. Executive function is the ability to control impulses, make and stick to plans, direct attention and other related tasks. New psychological research suggests that these are all skills where a form of training is needed; the more we practice paying attention to something, the better we’ll get at it. Best of all, this ability can be developed at any age.
Executive function, in addition to being the most teachable skill in the report, is also the most important. Kids with developed executive function skills will find it easier to learn new information and practice new skills while also positioning themselves for future success. Of all the factors summarized in the report, kids with strong executive function skills tended to have the highest levels of financial satisfaction.
Interested in improving executive function? Here are a few of the report’s recommendations.
Offer young children the choice between a small treat now and a larger one after a short period of time. Slowly increase the time increment between choice and reward. This helps to develop the skills involved in deferring instant gratification in favor of larger rewards later.
Before a play session, ask your child what toys he or she wants to play with in the next block of time. After your child is done playing, ask him or her to reflect on how well the plan worked. This helps develop long-term planning skills and creates intrinsic rewards for sticking to a plan.
Wherever possible, encourage your children to participate in making plans for the household. They might get to pick one night’s dinner, or pick from a few family activities for a Saturday morning. The experience of making decisions, whether in a financial context or not, will help develop those executive function skills.
Executive function training isn’t just for kids. What techniques do you use to keep yourself patient and focused?
Everyday life gives us opportunities to teach others by using money. Here are a few we have had this month.
My daughter loves playing basketball. She plays at recess with the boys in her grade. On Saturday, we went to the last game of the season for her recreation team. She has been invited to play on a competition team. Jackie and I discussed how much time and money it would cost her. We decided that playing on this team would be good for her. I asked when the fee was due. Her coach (who knows me well) said that if I needed to wait to budget for it, that was fine. I told her that I was letting Jackie pay for it. I pay for some of their wants, but this one I thought she would appreciate more if she paid for it.
I withdrew money from Jackie’s account for the competition team fee. Then I withdrew the amounts for their paydays from my account. Wesley (8), said, “Hey, you aren’t really paying us. You are just taking money out of our accounts and giving it to us.” After I laughed, I explained bank accounts and how they all had account numbers and I used different account numbers for each withdrawal.
This is the first year Tommy (6) has eaten lunch at school. He prefers school lunch to packing his own lunch. He often left his lunch at home, so he went through his lunch money fast. I told him his balance was low, so he needed to pack his lunch to take until I paid more lunch money. He didn’t listen to me, and his account went negative. I told him that it wasn’t honest to eat without paying, but he didn’t understand. He responded, “No, it’s free.” In this electronic age, there is often a disconnect with what things cost. I remember taking my lunch money, and knew that I had to pay.
Fast forward a few months, and a neighbor posted on Facebook about her son not being able to eat because of low lunch money. That reminded me to pay for lunch since the balance was getting low again. I sent lunch money with my ten year old. Her dad asked if she had paid it, and she said yes. But I keep getting emails about low lunch money- especially for her and my school lunch loving first grader. So, I asked her again if she paid. She said, “I thought I did.” But then on Saturday, she found her lunch money in her backpack. These simple experiences are helping them learn responsibility.
This was a recent conversation between my kids. Chloe (4) said, “Santa is going to bring me a tramp.” Jackie (10) replied, ”First of all, it won’t fit in his bag. Second of all, it won’t fit in his sleigh. Third of all, it won’t fit under the tree.” My four year old replied, “It’s going to be a little tramp.” She has since changed her request. She is now asking for, “A talking dog that talks like us.” Where is Clifford when you need him?
Chloe is often my shopping buddy these days. She usually wants so many things every time that we shop. While we were waiting in the checkout line last week, she saw a Tootsie Roll Bank. She said she wanted it, and I told her no. I showed her how much it cost. I taught her what the dollar sign looks like and then talked about how it was $1. I told her that she had money to pay for things like that. She didn’t have her money with her and delaying her immediate gratification was hard.
Jackie (10) and Wes (8) decided what they were going to give everyone for Christmas. They have been earning their money so that they can buy their gifts. We went to to the Dollar Store. Jackie bought presents for each member of the family and for each member of her class. She also wrote a poem to go with each of the presents. My kids went to the checkstand before I was ready and backed up the line. Even though shopping was chaotic, thinking about their giving hearts is making me cry as I write this.
What experiences have you had teaching about life through money?
Last week my kids learned a lot of life lessons through everyday experiences spending money.
Wes (age 7) asked me to hand him his bank so he could pay for a school library book that he had lost. (I don’t receive any notices from the school library like I do from the public library, so I didn’t know he had an overdue book.) Over the past few years, we have paid plenty of library fines. One time, our kids left a Dora book in the sandbox, which got ruined. I took them to the library, held my daughter up, gave her money, and let her pay the fine. Sometimes they paid with their money and other times they paid with mine. Through those experiences, Wes learned that he was responsible for the book that he checked out at the library.
Last week I took my two youngest kids to the store to buy mice traps after seeing two mice in my house. As I helped Chloe (age 4) out of the car, I noticed her chewing something, and pried open her clenched fist to find a salt water taffy wrapper. She had snuck it. This was not a convenient time to have a lesson on honesty. I needed to clean the house and trap the mice. I explained that Cravens do not steal, and taking taffy without paying is stealing from the store. If she did that as an adult, the consequence would be to go to jail. So, we went back to the store. Chloe clung to me while I told the cashier that Chloe stole a taffy and needed to pay for it. She had Chloe pay two cents. I told my daughter we loved her and that it’s ok to make mistakes because that’s how we learn. She paid her two cents and smiled at the cashier.
I explained that Cravens do not steal, and taking taffy without paying is stealing from the store. If she did that as an adult, the consequence would be to go to jail. So, we went back to the store. Chloe clung to me while I told the cashier that Chloe stole a taffy and needed to pay for it. She had Chloe pay two cents. I told my daughter we loved her and that it’s ok to make mistakes because that’s how we learn. She paid her two cents and smiled at the cashier.
Jackie (age 10) told me that the book fair was going on and it was buy one get one free, which was a great deal. I explained that I hadn’t planned to buy books, but she could spend her money. I reminded her that she’s been saving her money for souvenirs for our summer vacation in Hawaii, and she may want to check books out from the library instead of buying them. In the end, she decided not to buy the books.
Wes is always asking how much things cost. He often asks people how much things cost. While I was talking to Jackie about a possible summer art camp, he asked how much it was and how long it was.
I’m not always consistent. It’s easier to pay for library fines online rather than go in and help the kids pay their own fines. Money is helping me teach my kids to start to learn life lessons about responsibility, honesty, achieving goals, and opportunity. Kids have chances to learn these life lessons while they are small, and the consequences are small. Hopefully it will save them from having painful consequences as an adult.