Facebook Week in Review: 04/25/11

28 04 2011

April 29

Financial problems don’t discriminate. They affect all ages, races, religions and social classes.

Save money by checking vehicle recalls with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) prior to paying a service shop for repairs. Your vehicle manufacturer may remedy the problem free of charge if the problem is the result of a defect and/or recall.

April 28

The most frequently heard advice from financial advisors is to reduce debt so you can save more.

April 27

“It’s the thought that counts”. When it comes to gifts, do you give what you can? Maybe you rearrange your budget to fit a gift in for the month or budget throughout the year for such an expense. Perhaps you just don’t have the flexibility for adjustment because you’re tackling debt. How do you handle gift giving? And shouldn’t gifts be focused on the “thought”?

April 26

Organize and simplify your financial life – a how to guide from the FDIC containing tips to save time, reduce stress and cut costs.

In 2010, TSP participants paid $0.25 to keep $1,000 in their TSP account (67% less than other investment firms in the market today). Lower fees are always better when it comes to saving and investing for retirement – no matter how impressive the advertisements are from large investment firms, lower fees allow your money to accumulate and grow.

April 25

Personal finance is controlled by one’s behavior. We are writing down monthly expenses and tracking the progress. We are making deposits at the bank and setting up retirement contributions. We are choosing not to spend money when money is tight. The more control you have over your money, the more you’ll see your money grow!

Organize your expenses. Separate essential things like food and rent from non-essentials like entertainment and vacations. You’re able to see exactly where your money is going when your expenses are broken down in such a way on your budget sheet.





Parents and Children Moving Away from the Jones’

27 04 2011

Featured in the  and on MilitaryAvenue.Com

The recent economic downturn has families thinking twice about their spending habits, especially when it comes to spending money on their children.  In today’s society, the role of daily consumption for parents and children include the constant increase of toys, electronics, clothing, eating out, etc.  The good news:  parents and their children do not have to keep up with the Jones’ (aka neighbors/friends).  All it takes is one family to start the “saving thread” and others may join this savings movement. 

When parents implement a positive financial plan, their children will notice and understand.  This plan includes, but is not limited to, spending less than you earn, living with a budget, saving for college expenses, paying down debt or simply paying yourself first.  Children are eager to learn from parents and they in turn might just teach other kids about positive money management behavior.

Today’s family can ignore keeping up with today’s trends in order to be satisfied or happy.  Families can achieve a perfect balance without the presence of money, or if need be, at a fraction of the cost!

  • Find your Tribe.  Team up with other families that share your money-saving views.  Strength in numbers is a powerful tool.  You will come to notice your children aren’t competing with their peers because everyone shares the same values.
  • Visit your Neighborhood Park.  The park is a great place to spend time free of charge!  Parents can turn the experience into a learning one – discuss animals and plants that are native to the area.  Or the importance of keeping the park clean for both wildlife and humans.
  • Picnic Lunches.  Plan a picnic lunch rather than purchase lunch at the drive-thru.  Encourage your kids to create menus.  Head to the supermarket for ingredients and discuss the various prices of items and how coupons lower the cost per item. 
  • Visit the Library.  Many community libraries lend out DVDs and CDs, in addition to books.  Also, your community library may offer reading classes and/or other programs geared towards younger children and teens.  Some other library might include the following programs: computer classes, resume building, environmental classes, etc.
  • Host Family Game Night.  When your budget does not have the flexibility to cover recreational expenses, such as going to the movie theater, families can still enjoy “fun” time together.  Why not host a family game night!  Grab a board game and snacks, invite friends and have them bring a potluck meal.  You can achieve the same amount of fun for more than ½ the price! 
  • Buy Used.  When the cash flow is slow, think about buying used items (electronics, bikes, clothing, etc.) in an effort to save money.  Buy used and save the difference.
  • Volunteering.  A great way to teach “giving” values is by volunteering time to charities.  Teens will learn the value of having a giving spirit, where emphasis is placed not on consumption, but rather contributing.
  • Clothes Swap.  Many teens want to keep up with the current clothing trends and that can become costly.  See if other families in your community would be interested in a clothes swap.

Parents and kids should not feel they have to keep up with the Jones’.  Emphasis should be placed on what fits their lifestyle and most importantly, their budget.  When families choose to live beyond their means a financial downturn will shuffle the family dynamic.  Choose to save your money rather than risk losing it all to keep up with the trends of others.





Giving: Operation Top Knot

26 04 2011

Military families know military families.  Why?  Many have experienced deployments and the stresses accompanied with them.

I am happy to report there is an organization that helps to reduce these stresses to those families experiencing a deployment and are expecting a child.  Operation Top Knot is a network that collects baby items.  Their mission is to commend the women and children at home for their strength, and honor and support their spouses for their courage during a deployment.

Below are a few items I had on hand that I intend to donate to Operation Top Knot.  Using the United States postal service flat rate boxes, I intend to fill the box to the brim with more baby items that I can get my hands on.  Won’t you support this charity?

  • 5 diapers, including a potty training diaper with progress chart (free samples)
  • 1 Lysol healthy families book (free)
  • 1 CD achieving balance in life (free)
  • 1 booklet giving it your best (free)
  • 1 Johnson & Johnson bath buddy soap bar (free with coupon)
  • 1 Juicy Juice sippy cup (free sample)
  • 1 newborn photo frame ($1)
  • 3 travel shampoo and washes (free samples)
  • 1 ADT child safety kit, includes fingerprinting mechanism (free sample)





Facebook Week in Review: 04/18/11

18 04 2011

April 22

This Earth Day go green, save green! Turn down water heaters from 140 to 120 degrees, costs reduced by 6-10%. Bike ride, save on transportation costs. Install low-flow water fixtures in showers. Use energy efficient bulbs, they use 75% less energy & last 10 times longer. Ditch plastic bags, stores credit $0.05 for using cloth. Save $ on ink with Century Gothic font, it uses 30% less ink.

April 21

In store for a new car? When dealerships offer unusually low interest rates and promotions, make sure you understand exactly the terms and conditions being offered. Take these questions with you and write the answers down. Knowledge is power.

Easter is right around the corner. How do you plan on saving money this holiday?

April 20

Want to know how fast it will take your money to double? Rule 72 does just that! Rule 72 helps to figure the number of years it takes to double your principal using compound interest. Simply divide the interest rate that the money will earn into the 72. Interest compounded at a rate of 6% yearly = principal doubles in 12 years (72 DIVIDED by 6).

If your salary is reliant upon bonuses and commission, you should increase the amount of your Emergency Fund (i.e., 3 months would increase to 6 months).

April 19

Question – how do you save money during a deployment? Maybe you have signed up for the Savings Deposit Program (SDP), or increased TSP contributions. Perhaps you placed your cellphone service on hold during the months you’re away.

Save $ mailing care packages – The USPS created a “Mili-kit” based on the items most frequently requested by military families. The kit contains: 2 large and 2 medium Priority Mail flat rate boxes with the America Supports You logo; 1 roll of Priority Mail tape; Priority Mail address labels; 6 customs forms. Request your Military Care Kit by calling 800-610-8734.

April 18

The good news: 52% of people have more emergency savings than credit card debt.

The average credit card holder has 8.7 credit cards and owes about $8,000 in outstanding credit card debt.— Statistical Abstract of the United States





Kids Want to Learn Money Skills from Parents

12 04 2011

In a recent 2011 Teens and Money study, 92% of kids want to learn about money management from their parents.  The recent recession has motivated these children to learn how to manage money.  However, less than half report discussing money management with their family, according to survey findings.

Being that financial literacy is not often taught in schools, parents are left being the ultimate teachers of personal finance to their children.  The good news:  children are eager to learn from their parents.  Learning money management at an early age is crucial.  81% of teen respondents said the best time to learn money management was during their school years, grades K-12.

What are the ways we, as parents, can teach our children money management skills?  

  • Discuss the family’s expenses.  Discuss various expenses the family has as a whole.  Whether that be a gym membership, cable television plan, newspaper delivery, youth activities.  Explain how the expenses fit into the family budget.  Your children might just choose to cancel certain expenses in order to help the family save money!
  • Play a Game.  Teach kids to understand what it means to live on a salary and pay expenses.  Grab index cards and write down a monthly income and various monthly expenses.  Let them decide which expenses will be cut in order to balance their budget.
  • Take Them Food Shopping.  What a great way to improve math skills and grasp the understanding of just how much food costs.  Show them coupons and explain how they save money off the total bill.  Explain how the Commissary saves the average family 30% off their total bill because prices are based on the National Average.
  • Visit the Credit Union.  Have an associate discuss with the children the meaning of interest rates and fees.  Visit other banks to seek competitive interest rates.
  • Discuss Military Pay and Benefits.  Help the kids to understand military benefits such as health and life insurance.  Link the benefits to that of money because even though the benefits are not actual money received, they can be thought of as money that is not being spent.
  • Pay Them.  At the young age of five, children will understand what it means to work – with the end result being getting paid.  Parents can start off with small household tasks like taking out the garbage, filling and emptying the dishwasher, making their beds, putting toys away.  When the tasks aren’t completed, they do not receive pay.
  • Mall Time.  The mall is a great place to visit because of the mass of stores available.  Show the children prices of clothing, cell phone plans, etc.  Discuss with them store credit cards and the hefty interest rates charged to consumers when bills are not paid in full. 
  • Car Dealerships.  The third most expensive monthly expense faced by American families is the car payment.  On average families spend $400 per month paying for a car.  For the teens in your life, see if the car dealership would discuss the pros of paying cash for a used car versus financing a new one.
  • Browse Real Estate Ads.  Point out the various prices for housing.  Discuss renting versus owning, how prices are based on location, foreclosures versus buying new properties.  Military families should discuss the benefits of the VA Loan and various programs available for first-time homebuyers.  Also, the benefits of living on base versus off base.

Teaching money management to our children will shape their financial future as long as we decide, as parents, to each teach them financial principles.  Wealth building begins at a young age and the power we have as parents to guide our children along the path of financial success is truly priceless.





Facebook Week in Review: 04/11/11

11 04 2011

April 15

If you have a $4,000 balance on a credit card that charges 18 percent interest and you make the minimum payment on time each month, it will take you 45 years to pay off the balance. By the time you do, you will have paid almost $12,000 in interest in addition to the $4,000 balance. That’s if you’re never late with a payment and are never charged a late-payment fee.

Declare your Financial Freedom! We work hard for our money, let’s not treat it like it’s disposable. Focus on what really matters – we shouldn’t have to buy expensive things to keep up with our friends and neighbors; the items we own do not own us.

April 14

Happy birthday to you! There is a lot hype focused on TV “cake shows”. Not everyone is afforded the opportunity to spend $100+ on a such a decorative cake. How do keep expenses low — do you purchase boxed cake mixes found at the commissary (prices start at $0.89!)?

Stick to your Plan – Small every day costs can add up to big savings! If every day you saved the cost of $1.50 for bottled water, you’d contribute $547 into your TSP. Visit TSPs Ways to Save for more info and examples!

April 13

Thinking of boosting your TSP contributions? Unsure of where to find the “extra” money to do so? Use funds from the reduced payroll tax on Social Security and Medicare (6.2% to 4.2%)! This tax break is wonderful news for your household’s current cash flow, providing millions of taxpayers real and tangible benefits – everyone can now assume that their income will increase by 2%.

Spring and Summer bring outings, day trips and vacations. Factoring in tolls and gas when planning a trip helps to maintain an accurate and balanced budget. Also, with gas prices on the rise, you might just choose to stay local or find a less expensive travel alternative, all while saving money.

April 12

To all our Service Members and their Families – Military Saves wants to thank you for your military service and the sacrifices made each day. You are all performing amazing feats and it’s seen on all fronts. Military Saves is dedicated to helping our Military Community.

What do you think? It’s not how much you earn but rather how much you are spending that dictates wealth building. Could it be personal finance is strictly related to personal behavior and our abilities to curb spending?

April 11

Testimonials are a great way to motivate others! Do you have a story you’d like to share with the Savers? Maybe you paid off your car loan, saved enough money for a down-payment on a house, fully-funded an emergency fund.

A reminder to everyone that taxes are to be filed very shortly. Use the Armed Forces Tax Guide for use in preparing your 2010 tax returns. Take note of the deadlines available to service members.





The 411 on Rent-to-Own

7 04 2011

Educated consumers are sure to learn about alternative lenders because money is an object to them.  Educated consumers seek fair prices for the goods and services they seek.  Prior to shopping, they research a store’s policy regarding returns, exchanges and warranties.

The rent-to-own industry is an example of an alternative lender.  What happens here is consumers sign a contract to rent a specific item until it is owned, paying rental fees and finance charges.  If a payment is missed, the rent-to-own company can seize the goods with no allowance being made for your prior payments.  Costs under these contracts are extremely high.  

For example, it might cost $20 per week (for one year) to rent a couch that is worth $400.  The finance charge would be $640.

52 weeks TIMES $20 rental payment MINUS $400 couch value = $640 finance charge

Prior to entering into such an agreement with a rent-to-own company know the rules.  Understand that if one payment is missed, you lose out on all prior payments and the item will be seized.  If your financial situation does not afford you to purchase certain things, seek out garage sales, floor models, store layaway, etc.  In the long-run, saving up for an item makes economic sense rather than renting it.








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