Category Archives: Money

Helping Teens Save Money For College

Helping Teens Save Money For College

Without a college degree, employment options are limited, so the majority of high school graduates will consider going on for a college education if they can afford it. College tuition costs across the nation are rising annually, making it increasingly difficult for parents to support their children’s post-secondary education. While financial aid is available at many institutions primarily through students filing the FAFSA application each year, competition is fierce, and most parents or students end up paying at least part of their education fees.

However, saving money for college can be difficult for teens, who are also learning to drive, buying a first car, and paying auto insurance as well as high school senior activity fees like prom and the senior trip. Although Mom and Dad may be helping with these costs, many teens are already working summer jobs or part-time during the school year to assist. Most families agree that college is a priority, so helping teens learn to save toward college expenses is important. Here are a few ways parents can guide their kids toward earning income for the college fund.

Fund-Matching

Few teenagers are farsighted enough to want to put away money for college. Asking them to deposit every fast food job paycheck into a savings account can reduce their motivation to work. Instead, parents can offer to match whatever amount of their earnings students choose to save toward college, whether it be twenty-five percent, fifty percent, etc. Fund-matching is a great incentive for young people as they watch their savings accounts grow quickly with the help of parents’ matching investment.

Creative Work

Instead of regular teenage jobs like lawn care or babysitting, encourage your teen to try a creative job. Landscape design is a step up from moving lawns, while tutoring is somewhat more prestigious than childcare. If your teen shows promise in a future occupation or creative enterprise, urge them to look for work in related fields. A love of books might translate into a part-time library job, while writing enjoyment could lead to writing freelance articles for young adult publications like Boys’ Life and other teen periodicals that often pay $50 to $100 per article.

Service Jobs

To help students become more community-minded while earning college money, suggest an environment-friendly service like recycling. Collecting aluminum, old tires, or even newspapers can rack up a fair amount of earnings to plump up the college fund while teaching teens the value of keeping neighborhoods clean and litter-free. Public service awareness is an important skill often taught in higher education, so this could be a helpful preparatory activity for college, as well.
Budgeting.

Teenagers should learn how to budget their earnings, no matter how meagre, before graduating high school. Teaching them the value of money and how to use credit wisely are life-long skills that can help to prepare them for college. Show them how to use a spreadsheet to chart their income and expenses, and how to plot a monthly budget and a yearly estimated forecast. As they assume more control over their finances, teens will begin to appreciate the opportunities and limits that come with income, and the role that saving for college plays in the process. Moreover, they may begin to look forward even more to college in understanding the increased earning potential a degree will give them.

High school students should gradually be given more authority over income that they generate or spend. Parents might even share some of the regular household information to illustrate broader budgeting principles. As they become accustomed to the big picture of earning, spending, and saving, teens will develop greater respect for the power of education and a future career.

10 Easy Ways to Save Money

10 Easy Ways to Save MoneyWhen you’ve stretched the monthly budget as far as it can go, chances are there are still more ways to save money and ease debit card strain. Check out the following tips and give them a try to put more money into the bank at the end of each month.

Negotiate Everything

Many things are negotiable, especially when you pay cash or promptly. From legal services to a new television or auto repairs, ask if a lower amount is acceptable or if any discounts apply.

Trade Services

Try to exchange skilled services with others that have what you need. For example, a neighbor mechanic could replace your squeaky brakes at a fraction of the cost in exchange for your sitting with the couple’s two children for an evening or two. If you’re good at record-keeping, you could prepare a friend’s taxes for filing in return for a couple of home-cooked meals, fresh or frozen.

Take a Class

Sign up for a local community college class or take one online to learn simple auto maintenance to take care of your car and avoid costly service fees. Learn cake decorating and start a side business.

Dine at Home

Cut back on eating out by planning a nice but simple dinner at home. Put on a pretty tablecloth and set the table as if for guests. Cook a tasty meal that you haven’t had for a while, and enjoy!

Drop Unneeded Services

Check your monthly utility bills to see if you are paying for unneeded services. Maybe you paid off that new cell phone but are still carrying the $7.99 insurance fee. Get rid of unused cable services. Reduce monthly trash pickup when the kids go away to college and trash dwindles by half.

Shop for Low-Cost Credit Cards.

Low-interest credit card offers are plentiful if your credit is in good standing. It’s not uncommon to find 0% interest for 12 to 18 months. Some come with a balance transfer fee, while others don’t even require that. Check with your bank and other preferred lenders to find a card that you can use without interest for an extended period of time.

Rearrange Monthly Payments

If you pay bills once a month, try to schedule your bills to come in about the same time to minimize the risk of overlooking those that arrive between pay periods. Vendors will often work with customers to change the due-by date to align with pay dates.

Downsize Your Home

If you no longer need the larger home where you currently live, sell it and move to a smaller place. The lawn will require less maintenance and machinery maintenance costs, and utilities will cost less. Use the equity recovered from the sale of your home to pay off other debts and make your monthly budget more comfortable.

Pay Bills Online

Many banks offer the convenience of paying bills online from your bank account. In addition to saving time, you’ll spend less on postage and envelopes, and can easily track payments.

Write a Debt Payoff Plan

Putting a plan in writing helps to make it more solid and realistic. Write a debt reduction plan and post it on the fridge or on your desk as a reminder. Color code your progress as an incentive to keep working at debt elimination, which will save you each month in the future!

With a few minor adjustments, you can save money each month or put a chunk in the bank towards savings. Start now and watch how quickly the savings add up!

Why One Person Should Never Handle the Entire Household Budget

This is a guest post from Jennifer.

When my husband and I got married in 2011, we were combining two adult lives. We both already had children, jobs and debt. In my case, I’d never shared a bank account with another adult. In my husband’s case, he and his ex-wife had decided to maintain separate finances when married. We opened a joint checking account and start depositing our earnings there and spending from it too.

One of the first purchases my husband made was a $150+ trip to Target. I saw the debit on the account and nearly fell over. With just one small child before I got married, I had never spent that much on a single visit. I didn’t know if I should yell or ask “why.” But then when he arrived home, bags of groceries and household items in hand, I knew he hadn’t been irresponsible. He was just buying what he thought we needed and I wasn’t used to having so many people to feed, clothe and otherwise handle from a caring perspective. We did start talking about our finances more after that day but somehow, without an actual decision being made, I became the “money” person who was in charge of creating and maintaining our family budget.

I watched the accounts for deposits, made mobile deposits of checks, set up automatic withdrawals for bills and handled just about everything else. During the months when money was tight, I stressed. I bounced a check once at the grocery store and was too embarrassed to tell my husband. He later figured it out when he tried to write a check at the grocery store but we were unable to for six months because of the NSF. Even though earning and spending fell equally on both of us, I felt the burden of the budget. When my husband would ask why I was added more freelance work to my plate, I’d say because I liked the project. When we planned family vacations, I’d sock away cash for months and use coupons to make it happen. There was no reason to lie to him, or hide anything. But since the purse string management had landed in my lap, I felt that it was my responsibility to bear it.

That all changed a few years later when I finally asked my husband to handle grocery shopping. I hate doing it and wanted to pawn off at least one financial responsibility. There was a caveat: he had to stay within budget. So he started making meticulous lists and checking sales ads. He put “nice to have” items at the bottom that he’s buy only if he was within budget. He started meal planning. We stopped spending so much on going out to eat and random mid-week trips to the grocery store. We started to actually see more money in our account as a result, and it was such a relief for me.

It was then that I told him all of my financial angst. I explained that having to handle all the money made me anxious. It also made me feel guilty if we didn’t have enough money for something, even though it really wasn’t my fault. I told him I was tired of that responsibility. He apologized and told me he wished I’d spoken up sooner.

I still handle a decent amount of our family finances, from paying pills to savings, but he is an active participant in the process. He knows, for example, how much we spend on utilities in a month now. He knows what we are spending on gas and tolls. He knows to check our bank account and the monthly spreadsheet I’ve made before making any unusual purchases.

It’s made my life a lot easier since he started participating in and giving feedback on our budget. I feel less isolated and less at fault when it comes to saying no to non-essentials. I went to Vegas twice last year for separate girls-only occasions and we talked about how much I could spend gambling or carousing (I skipped gambling and went to see Elton John and Britney Spears instead). I realize now that  I should have never tried to handle the budget alone and that just like everything in marriage, family finances are a partnership.