Category: Parenting

A Money Lesson All Kids Should Learn

Passing on good financial lessons to our kids is an important part of being a parent. We want the next generation to be equipped to make smart money decisions. Any kind of financial education is good, but there’s one money lesson all kids should learn.
The Power of Saving Over Time
Saving money should be at the forefront of any financial education. Savings are key to being financially stable, and key to growing wealth in the long term. Teaching kids to save money is essential to any other financial literacy.
However, it’s important to help children understand the power of saving over time. As adults, we know terms like compound interest and annual returns. We know that wealth takes time to build and that contributing small amounts of money to different accounts over years can yield huge returns.
That’s information we need to pass onto our kids. Very few of us are born into families of great wealth. In order to build it, we need to get our kids excited about saving early and continuing to save throughout the years.
Teaching children that small amounts of money can grow into a really big number teaches them patience, builds the habit of saving, and shows them that they can make big things happen for themselves through consistent, hard work.
It’s not only an important money lesson, it’s an important life lesson. We want to raise children that understand the value of hard work. The next generation should know that they can do anything, and be given the tools to actually go out and do it.
Part of the difficulty most Millennials faced was being told that they could be anything they wanted, but inheriting a professional and financial world that didn’t have much for them. Shocked by the price of our education, stuck in a low-wage cycle, and facing growing cost of living prices, Millennials needed to be financially literate as a generation, and we weren’t.
We can do better by our kids. By teaching them the important money lesson of saving early and consistently, we help them become more secure than we were.

Three Frugal Habits Anyone Can Adopt

Frugality is one of the most freeing habits that anyone can adopt. Cutting back on your expenses frees up money for you to pursue a dream, whether that be home ownership or early retirement.
To be honest, frugality has a bit of a bad reputation. People think being frugal means a life of rice and beans, or never going out to see a movie again. That doesn’t have to be the case! Frugality is fully customizable. You can cut back in areas that don’t matter much to you so you can grow in the areas that do. Everyone’s frugal life will look different.
I’ve outlined three habits that anyone can adopt. No matter your lifestyle, your income, or your ultimate goals, these three frugal habits can fit into your world.

Use Everything Until The Last Drop
Once you spend money on something, use it until the bitter end. Scrape every last bit of toothpaste out of the bottle, stretch that shampoo for one more shower . Waste not, want not is the motto of the frugal person. This is such an easy thing to do, too. You’ve already gone out and brought these items into your house. Now you’re just making sure you get the best bang for your buck.
There are easy ways to make things go for longer. Air dry work out clothes and bras so they maintain their stretchiness and fit longer. Add a little water to your shampoo and conditioner bottles to get one more wash from them. Repair items that have rips or stains and start using them again. Reduce, reuse, and recycle the things you already own and you’ll save money.
Pick Up a New at Home Hobby
It’s easy to spend money when you’re bored. Whether it’s a trip to the movies or to the mall, you can blow through cash just looking for something to do. Frugal people are big into hobbies that are free.
Free hobbies are everywhere, and they run the gamut. Instead of vegging out in front of the couch, start a puzzle. If you’ve got some window space, you can buy seed packets for a few dollars and start an herb garden. You can learn new skills on Youtube, everything from sewing to woodworking. I fixed my own toilet once with the help of Youtube videos!
Picking up a habit that you can do at home will keep your mind and body engaged, and will keep you from spending money to entertain yourself. What did you love when you were a kid? What are you fascinated by? Use your local library, Youtube and the internet as free resources to get you started on forming a new hobby.
Entertain at Home
This one is pretty obvious, but it’s also a huge money saver. When you stay at home instead of hitting the bars or traveling out of town every other weekend, you’ll save big bucks.
Make your home somewhere you want to be. Keep it neat and clean, and decorate in a way that makes you feel happy. Plants, natural light, and paint are cheap ways to brighten up an apartment.
Easy nights in at home are movie nights, game nights, or cooking lessons with friends or partners. Once I attended a pancake and coloring book party at a friends house, and it was a blast! Instead of spending $50 on a night out, buy $9 pancake mix and a few $1 coloring books and have a fun night at home!
Adding in these frugal habits to your weekly routine is guaranteed to save you money. Even if you entertain at home only twice a month, that’s two nights of saving money! If you can get every last drop out of your toothpaste and have to buy one less bottle a year, you’ve saved yourself money and still kept your teeth pearly white.
Small changes are easier to adapt to, and they make up big changes in the long run. What are some of your almost-invisible frugal habits?
 

Are Millennials Prepared for the Future

Hey everybody! Today on the blog I’m really excited to share a guest post from Trisha from the blog That Dang Vegan.  If you’re a millennial that’s questioning whether or not you’re prepared for the future, this one is especially for you!
Enjoy!
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You’ve probably heard the phrase a million times before, “millennials are lazy”. Of course, this myth has been disproven in the past, but nonetheless it’s still important to research habits of every generation. Not only do habits quickly change culturally, but also financially. As our economy grows and prices rise and lower, the youngest generation must decide which facets to focus on for their future.
If we measure a millennial as being born between, let’s say 1980 and 2000, most of those individuals are adults between the age of 18 and 35, which means that a vast majority of this group has serious responsibilities to attend to in order to continuously live comfortably including: rent or house payments, car payments, career opportunities, health insurance, and even saving for retirement – all of this takes planning. It’s been proven that the Baby Boomer and Gen X generation do not feel confident that they will be able to retire when they want. So, the question is, “Is this generation actually preparing for the future?”

Millennial Spending Habits
In order to break this down, let’s first check out millennial spending habits. First, taking a look at everyday expenses and necessities, millennials know how to stretch a dollar. Studies show that millennials eat out about 13 times per month on average and end up spending about $100 on their purchases. We can compare that to Gen X and Baby Boomers who eat out about half as much, but spend more – about $120 to $140 per month.
However, smaller on purchases, like coffee, millennial spending is higher than older generations. On average, all generations spend about $67 per month on their morning coffee, but millennials have bumped that up to around $80 per month. Researchers say this is due to millennial’s growing “on the go” type lifestyle and culture.
It seems that millennials just don’t have as much money to spend overall. Partly because older generations have had more time to become financially stable. Although, this is also due to the fact that costs have risen dramatically over the last two generations, but workers are still being paid meager wages.
As a result, millennials are reported to have more co-signers on things like student loans, auto loans, and even home loans, but they’re doing a great job of sticking to their agreements. Reportedly, 75% of millennials track their expenses, especially when they have loans to take care of, as opposed to the 64% of Baby Boomers. If that wasn’t enough, studies show that 67% of millennials stick to a strict budget, while 55% of Baby Boomers do the same.
Millennial’s Plan For Tomorrow
Despite being paid very little and many prices continuing to grow, millennials (just like previous generations), are adapting to the economy’s current state. For example, 63% of millennials do not have a credit card. Only 35% of people 30 and over do not have a credit card, but millennials just don’t see a need for it. As we discussed earlier, millennials are focusing their wages on the things that count, things like food, rent, and transport (Not to mention many already have student loans to deal with). Millennials are simply not keen on the idea of going into more debt than is absolutely necessary.
With that being said, millennials are thinking about the future, despite popular contrary belief. Millennials are now investing around 7.5% of their wages into saving for retirement as opposed to about 5.8% from around 3 years ago – even with student loans! It seems that, again, like many other generations, as we grow older we begin to truly understand the importance of saving for the future.
What’s more, numbers also show that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are making much more money these days, but haven’t necessarily increased their saving habits along with their wages. Yet, as a society, it seems we are all making improvements over time. In 2013, around 38% of Americans were prepared for retirement. Last year, that number jumped to about 45%. A rise in 7% over just two years.
In addition, preparing for the future means preparing for the unexpected. Insurance seems to be a tough subject for all generations. None want their families to be left in a precarious position if something were to happen, however, it seems that no generations are particularly paying attention things like life insurance.
Only 16% of millennials currently own a life insurance plan and only about a third are willing to purchase one. In addition, 1 in 4 individuals 65 or older have let their life insurance plan expire – they simply just stopped paying it. Some may have found their plans to be too expensive or have found other means of protecting their families in the future, but either way no one is jumping at the idea of paying for insurance.
In conclusion, all generations struggle from time to time, but we shouldn’t place the blame on younger generations simply because their economical situation differs from that of the previous generations. Financially speaking, things will always be changing and this data proves that every generation is much more similar than we give them credit for. We are all just doing our best to prepare any way that we can.

End of Year Money Checklist for Millennials

Millennials, it’s time to make an end of year money checklist. Before you pop open any champagne for New Year’s Eve, make sure that your money is ready for 2017.
It’s important that Millennials get their financial house in order at the end of the year. With most of us carrying student loan debt, and the oldest Millennials reaching their mid-30’s this year, checking in with our money is a necessary step.
I like to see my money work for me (since I work so hard for it!), and keeping tabs on it helps me maximize my returns. Wrap up 2016 like the boss that you are with our money checklist for Millennials.

-Check your retirement contribution rate and allocations to see if everything is on track. All 401k contributions for 2016  must be done by 12/31. If you have an IRA you can make contributions for 2016 until April 2017.
If your portfolio isn’t weighted the way you want it to, talk to your advisor or change it yourself. You’ll have to choose how aggressive you feel comfortable being with your stocks, but a good general rule is younger people can be more aggressive than older folks.
-Check your credit score. As more Millennials head into their 30’s, credit scores become much more important. It’s a key part of buying a car or a house, and some companies will check it before they hire you. If your score is between 600-640, make it a goal to reach 700 in the new year. If you’re at 700 or above, you’re doing well! The higher the better when it comes to credit scores.
-Organize your savings accounts. The easiest way to save for multiple goals at a time is to have different savings accounts for each goal. Piling it all into one account can get messy. Open up a different account for each goal: one for travel, one for a down payment, and one for an emergency fund. You’ll know exactly how much progress you’re making towards each goal. Plus, when you take the money out to use, other goals won’t be affected. 
-Analyze your credit card debt. If you’ve taken on debt from the holidays, or you’ve been carrying debt for months, paying it off will be priority number one in the new year. Credit card debt has some of the highest interest rates you’ll find anywhere. Paying down your debt will free up more money for you, and will probably give your credit score a boost. 
Use these steps as a springboard to check your finances all over. Millennial money is unique, and our needs are different from any other generation. Get your money working for you now and reap the benefits later.

Frugal Holiday Tips

Do the words ‘frugal’ and ‘holiday’ seem like opposites? It’s the time of year when there’s a holiday party every night of the week, cheer is in the air, and people give gifts in abundance. Frugal holiday tips are probably the last thing on your mind, but frugality can easily be incorporated into the holiday season!
Between travel, gifts, and donations, there are plenty of ways to burn through cash during the holidays. Who wants to rack up a bunch of holiday debt that will be waiting for you in the new year?  You can have a frugal holiday and still enjoy yourself.
How do you incorporate the spirit of frugality and still enjoy the spirit of the season. It’s easier than you may think. Staying frugal during a spendy season is all about aligning your spending with your bigger goals. If you want to be debt-free, stay focused on that goal when you head out to buy gifts.
We’ve identified three areas that people overspend in during the holidays. Follow these frugal holiday tips and guidelines to stay within your budget this month. Leave your own frugal tips in the comments!
TRAVEL
Traveling to spend the holidays with family can be the biggest budget buster of the season. Airlines up their prices big time, which can set you back.
In order to save on travel costs, the easiest frugal holiday tip we have is to think beyond the airport. Train tickets are usually somewhat cheaper, and cars or buses are the cheapest option. If you must fly, try leaving on a Monday or Tuesday, or even the holiday itself, when flights are a little cheaper.
More frugal tips:
-Check travel sites social media for flash sales or coupon codes
GIFTS
No one wants to be Scrooge when it comes to gift giving. You want your loved ones to know you care about them, and presents are a great way to do that.
To save money on gift giving, our number one frugal one holiday tip is to give loved ones a tool for a passion they have. A new pair of hiking socks for someone who hits the trails every weekend, or a new controller for a video game system.
By getting someone a piece of an existing interest, you can usually save yourself money in the long run. You’re not buying the whole gaming system for hundreds of dollars, but simply the control for a cool $50. Building on an interest they have shows you care while keeping money in your pocket.
More frugal tips:
-Use rewards points from credit cards to buy gifts without spending any cash
-Make homemade gifts. Things like Instagram Coasters are perfect for those who can craft, and DIY tea towels make great gifts for anyone in the family!
FOOD
Food is a huge part of the holiday season. It’s when family recipes take center stage, and everyone you see insists you ‘just try a little bite!’
Our frugal holiday tip when it comes to food is to eat at home. There’s no reason to go to restaurants when there’s so much home cooking on display. Give up the eating and drinking out for a few weeks this month and save that money.
More frugal tips:
-Focus on fresh. Fresh produce costs less than frozen in most cases. Use more veggies in your dishes to save on costly meats and packaged products.
-Leftovers are your best friend. If your friend’s mom wants you to take home some turkey and stuffing, you take it. Double the portion sizes you usually make and stick some meals in the freezer. You’ll thank yourself when January rolls around and you’re exhausted from the holidays.
Like we said, staying frugal around the holidays is all about staying focused on your bigger money picture. Go into the season with a set number for spending and stick to it. You can deck the halls and light the menorah without overspending with some planning!

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