Poll: How Often Did You and Your Parent(s) Discuss Money?

National surveys indicate that the majority of parents across our country have never spoken seriously with their children about money. In our own surveys done with high school students, we also find that a majority of parents are not fulfilling their responsibility to raise children to understand how money and credit work and how to stay out of consumer debt.

More than half of the students we survey indicated that they’ve had, at most, two conversations about money in their lifetime with parents. And these were high school seniors!!!

What about you? Interested in describing your own experience about money conversations with your parent(s) from your formative years? In your teen years, how often did you have discussions with your parent(s) about money, credit and/or debt?

Thank you for your participation. Have a wonderful week!

Todd

Todd Christensen
Director of Education
www.NationalFinancialEducationCenter.org
Facebook: MoneyDay2Day
Twitter: Day2DayMoney

Teaching First Graders about Money

I wanted to acknowledge our gratitude for a store in the area that made our work a little easier this month. In December 2011, we received word that the Walmart store in Caldwell, Idaho had approved our mini-grant application and awarded us a $750 gift. With those funds, we quickly purchased from Random House 400 copies of the Berenstain Bears Trouble with Money book.

Debt Reduction Services Inc reads and distributes book to elementary school childrenBooks in hand, I visited three first grade classes this week here in the Treasure Valley (southwest Idaho). In each classroom, we had a discussion about needs and wants as well as earning and spending money. We even had a fun (and brief) conversation about why it would be pretty pointless if money actually did grow on trees.

Next, I read the Berenstain Bears book to the entire class, after which we talked about way that the cubs were able to earn money and save it. We also talked about the chores that the children do around the home.

Finally, and this is always my favorite part of the presentation, I got to announce that I was sending each of the children home with their own copy of the book. Yea!!! I also send along a 2-page “Parent’s Guide for Talking to Children about Money,” since surveys show that most parents have never had a serious discussion about money with their children.

The teachers appreciate the presentations because the lessons correlate with the state’s achievement standards, plus they get a few extra minutes to catch up on their own work during the class. All in all, the presentations were enjoyable and successful activities.

Do you know of a teacher whose class could benefit from a book reading (usually K-4), a presentation about money and spending habits (probably 5th grade and above), or about credit and interest (9th Grade and higher)? Please let me know or have them contact me. All such educational services are free if their within about an hour of our offices.

Have a fantastic week!

Todd

Todd Christensen
Director of Education
www.NationalFinancialEducationCenter.org
Facebook: MoneyDay2Day
Twitter: Day2DayMoney

Published in: on January 13, 2012 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Santa’s Not Comin’ to Town Quite Yet

November 15, 2010

I’ve always thought that Thanksgiving gets the short end of the stick when it comes to fall holidays. Christmas seems to invade stores almost as soon as kids are back on the school playgrounds after summer. Maybe that’s why I love Thanksgiving some much. It hasn’t been (and hopefully never will be) commercialized. Hopefully it stays the most home-centered of gatherings of our society.

Additional Thanksgiving expenses on decorations, travel, and entertaining can add upStill, just because it’s not been co-opted by Madison Avenue doesn’t mean we don’t, as a nation, spend a lot of additional money on the holiday. Thanksgiving generally means extra expenses in:

  • Travel: If you’re flying to your destination, you’ll generally spend anywhere between 10% and 50% less if you DON’T travel the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday AFTER Thanksgiving.
    TIP: Consider flying out TWO days before the holiday and coming home on Friday.
  • Meals: Often, a portion of the extra money we spend on Thanksgiving meals can be recouped by enjoying leftover turkey sandwiches for a week or two afterwards.
    TIP: To make leftovers easier to deal with, separate them into smaller portions, place them in freezer bags, and pack into the freezer. That way, you won’t have to pull huge portions out of the freezer to use all at once.
  • Decorations: After travel, decoration expenses can be considered to be the most expensive “optional” expense of Thanksgiving. Whether it’s new Thanksgiving-themed plates and serving dishes, front door wreathes, pewter turkey-shaped napkin holders, or other household ornamentation highlighting the joys of fall, a spendthrift household could easily lay down an extra $200 or $300 each Turkey Day in making their dinner more festive.
    TIP: If children or grandchildren are available, use their pictures or artwork to decorate the house. Back a small photo of a family member with some construction paper and tie them around the napkin as a holder.
  • Entertainment: More and more families are deciding to spend the afternoon or evening of Thanksgiving at the movie theater. Whether Hollywood pushed for it or reacted to it, the demand is definitely there. That’s why many blockbuster movies often debut on Thanksgiving Day or that weekend.
    TIP:  Games at home can be more affordable and usually much more interactive, but if you insist on going to a movie, make the decision to skip the high-priced treats. After all, you’ll probably still be feeling as stuffed as the turkey was just a few hours before.

Have a wonderful, safe, and happy Thanksgiving Day and holiday season!

Todd Christensen
Director of Education
www.NationalFinancialEducationCenter.org
Facebook: MoneyDay2Day
Twitter: Day2DayMoney

Plastic or Cash?

How to Use and Not Use Credit CardsWith all the talk about the dangers of credit cards, it might be easy to decide to bury your Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover cards in your back yard and just stick with your debit card instead.

Before doing so, you should be aware that studies have indicated that regardless of whether you use a credit card or a debit card, you still spend about 12% more than you would have if you were to use cash or a check.

This fact should bring home several implications, including the following:

  1. We overspend when we use credit cards rather than cashIf you use credit cards, and you pay off your balance in full every month, you probably think your pretty wise for taking advantage of the credit card companies. After all, using a credit card is generally more convenient and more secure than carrying around cash. After all, with credit cards, you don’ t have to go to the bank to withdrawal cash, you don’t have to reorder checks every 6 months to 2 years, and you essentially get an interest free loan on your purchases if you pay them off in full with the next bill. However, be aware that if you’re an ultra credit card user (perhaps making $2,000 or more in credit card purchases each month that you pay off with the next bill), you’re likely spending an additional $250 or more every month in real money because of the psychological temptation to purchase more expensive items and to do so more often due to the convenience of the plastic in your purse or wallet.
  2. We spend 30% or more at restaurants paying with credit or debit cards than if we were to use cashIt gets much worse if you’re using plastic when you go out to eat. Think about it! If you walk into a restaurant, all of your senses combine against you as they try to communicate this one issue: satisfy us NOW! There are smells; there are often sounds of food cooking; there are brightly colored menues; and then there is your stomach growling at you. That’s why, when you use a credit or debit card in a fast food or other restaurant setting, you’ll probably spend upwards of 30% to 40% more than if you had brought in cash. It’s no wonder, then, that when McDonald’s began accepting credit cards, their average purchase when from the $4 range up to more than $7!!!

I’m not suggesting you ditch credit cards. As I mentioned (and I truly believe), credit cards are safer and more convenient to use than cash, not to mention that their proper use can help us to build a solid credit history, especially important in advance of a large purchase on credit such as a home or car.

However, I do believe that too many people use their credit cards without setting and sticking to actual spending limits. That’s my challenge to all of us: establish your spending limit long before you enter a store or restaurant and stick to it. Otherwise, you ought to consider putting your plastic on ice.

Todd Christensen
Director of Education
www.NationalFinancialEducationCenter.org
Education@NationalFinancialEducationCenter.org
Facebook: MoneyDay2Day
Twitter: Day2DayMoney

Published in: on August 19, 2010 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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Saving or Deferred Spending?

Saving GoalsHaving read “How to Create Barriers to Your Savings” by PT Money today on WideBread, I was reminded of wish that in my college days, I had, first of all, thought of savings as savings and not as “deferred spending,” and second, that I had protected my savings from myself. I raided it pretty regularly every 3 to 4 months.

Now, in our workshops at Debt Reduction Services Inc, we teach this very concept for emergency savings. Automate the deposits into your savings accounts, but make it difficult to get to them. Unless you’re extremely disciplined, you should not even have your savings with the same bank/credit union as your checking.

Creating online savings accounts can be a good idea too, unless even transferring money from the comfort of your own home and waiting a few days is still too much of a temptation. Otherwise, you could consider using a bank or credit union that doesn’t have a branch within 20 miles of your home, work, or other area you frequent regularly. And certainly ask them to block any online or telephone transfers capabilities.

That way, if you have to actually go into a bank or credit union to withdraw the funds, it’s much more likely that it would take a real emergency to motivate you to do so.

Todd Christensen
Director of Education
www.NationalFinancialEducationCenter.org
Facebook: MoneyDay2Day
Twitter: Day2DayMoney

Published in: on July 23, 2010 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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