All around the country, newly-minted high school graduates are heading off to college. They’ll be taking a lot of things with them, but financial literacy is not likely to be one of them.

diverse-group-of-newly-minted-college-frehsmen

If I could spend a little time with these awesome students, this is what I would attempt to cram into their heads, then pray that it penetrates their hearts:

A BUDGET IS YOUR FRIEND

That means you 1) have a written plan for how you are going to spend your money 2) you use that written plan like you would a road map, consulting it often and 3) you use a site like Mint.com or a pencil and paper to record how you spend every nickel. Sallie Mae has a monthly budget worksheet you can print out to help you estimate your costs and keep expenses under control. Do not attempt to do this “keeping track” thing in your head. You are amazing, but don’t push it 🙂

GET A FREE CHECKING ACCOUNT

It’s not easy these days to find free checking accounts with no strings attached—no monthly fee, no minimum balance requirement and no minimum deposit. But many banks such as US Bank, do offer free student accounts that fit this criterion. Explore banking options in the city where you will be attending school or find out if the bank or credit union that your parents already use offers free student accounts and has a branch near the college campus. Read more

Encouragement. For me it is a basic need or perhaps a character flaw, I’m not quite sure. All I know is that I need encouragement, and I need it often.

I have a feeling that you do, too.

mountain-climber-helping-companion-reach-the-top

This matter of learning how to manage money, living below our means, and getting out of debt can be a very discouraging proposition at times.

I want to be one of the encouragers in your life—someone you can count on to cheer you on in the good times and help dust you off so you can get up and back on track during the bad times.

Read more

The email message contained a single-word subject: Help! The sender, I’ll call her Emily, had been asked by her community group leader to give a 15-minute presentation on how to achieve financial freedom. She was honored to have been asked, excited to do it, but also panicked by the thought. She asked if I would help.

25042320_m

My first thought was I can’t even introduce myself in 15 minutes. How could I, Emily or anyone else tackle that subject in just 15 minutes? But then I got to thinking: If money management is, as I believe, not that difficult, why couldn’t she do it? Why couldn’t I do it? I decided to give it a try.

Save

Do not confuse saving money with spending less, as in “I save money when I buy things on sale.” You are not saving at all, you are spending less. Saving money means that you actually put money into a safe place for some future time. Do that. Starting right now and forevermore, make it a rule that you will put some amount of your paycheck into a savings account before you spend any of it. Make it automatic and you won’t miss what you don’t see. Goal: 10-percent of all you receive goes straight into savings.

Give

Give away the same amount as you save. Just give it away—no strings attached—as an act of gratitude for what you have and how you are blessed. Goal: 10 percent of all you receive, give it away.

Live

Rein in your lifestyle so that it fits into 80 percent of your net (take-home) pay. Pare down your lifestyle. Reduce your spending in every area of your life by a small amount, and you will be able to achieve this goal—probably sooner than you ever dreamed.

Don’t Miss: Best Inexpensive Laptop Computers for Students of 2018

Read more

When a University of Michigan survey asked people what they believed would improve their quality of life and make them happy, the answer given most often was, “More money.” 

In the book The Day America Told the Truth, James Patterson and Peter Kim asked, “If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?” The number one response at 64 percent was, “Greater wealth.”

Opening the wallet full of money.More recently, a University of Southern California study found that greater wealth didn’t translate into greater happiness for many of the 1,500 people surveyed annually over three decades. USC economist Richard Easterlin said, “Many people are under the illusion that the more money we make, the happier we’ll be,” but, according to the study, that isn’t true.

Read more

Bents, characteristics, abilities, and tendencies are the conduits through which you can pass your values to your kids. But exactly how do you make the pass? Though your life. The way you live.

Kids learn most effectively through observation and imitation. It’s the witness of our lives, more than anything we say, that is taken in slowly and cumulatively by our children.

Raising Financially Confident Kids Book sitting on a white shelf with basket of bright colored tulips

Children drink in everything around them. They see the way we act with others. They listen to everything we say. They observe the way we handle our money. They hear what we say on the phone and the way we deal with salespeople. Children compare what they see with what they are told and in the case of a clear conflict, they usually go with what they see.

There are many ways to communicate your values to your kids. There are formal lectures, specific talks, books and discussions on what has been read; reprimands, reminders, various kinds of discipline and punishment, and religious education with all of its related activities.

All of these ways of communicating with your kids do count for a great deal, but they cannot come close to your children observing their parents living out their values consistently, specifically, and diligently day in and out. That’s the surest way to pass on to your kids the values and principles they need to guide their lives—values that will take root in their hearts, not simply stick on the outside until they can get away from your authority. Truth be told, values are more often caught than taught.

 

It’s easy to get so hung up on the mundane side of parenting—cooking, cleaning, carpooling, taxi driving—that we forget about the single most important job parents have to do, which is to successfully pass on our values to our children. Read more

Imagine paying outrageous amounts of interest to a greedy finance company and loving every minute of it. Or how about making off-the-record, back-alley deals with a loan shark so you can skip all the credit checks and paperwork?

great white loan shark

Impossible? Not if that loan shark is you. You’ll be borrowing from yourself, making payments to yourself and collecting high rates of interest—all from you, for you.

The original idea of the credit union was to get the little person out of the clutches of the big money institutions. Credit unions are still a good idea! But even credit unions have their limits and standards when it comes to qualifying for personal loans. Being your own lender simplifies even the credit union strategy to just one person—you. And when you’re wearing the loan officer hat, dealing with you the borrower, both the lending and repayment benefit only you. What a deal!

So, how does it work?  Read more

At the tender age of 11, I made a solemn vow that when I grew up I was going to be rich. My plan was simple: Marry well. 

I bless the day I married my husband, a man who is rich in character and unfailing love. I assumed his money would follow.

money flying around out of thin air

While waiting for wealth to descend upon me, I made the tragic error of spending as though I were already rich. That 12-year descent into the pit of financial despair landed us in so much trouble, it took 13 years to repair.

The experience taught me a very important principle: How much you spend matters much more than how much you earn. It’s the money you don’t spend that gives you the freedom to build wealth and live the life you love.

But let’s get real. If it were that easy, wouldn’t everyone be fabulously wealthy? There has to be more to it, so I asked financial experts for their best tried-and-true rules for building wealth.

No matter where you are in your financial journey, start following this advice right now so you can keep more of what you earn. That’s the way to grow rich.

Rule #1: Live Smarter 

Enough is enough. ”Living below your means is the secret to prosperity,” says Michelle Singletary, nationally syndicated personal finance columnist for The Washington Post. “In this country, we define rich as having a lot of material things. Look at what you have already and say with confidence, ‘I have enough.’ You don’t need to borrow more money to get more stuff, because all that means is you’ll have to work more to pay for it.” 

Stop trading up. Jonathan Pond, in his book, You Can Do It! The Boomer’s Guide to a Great Retirement, he says, “Over 40 years of car ownership, someone who trades in a car every 10 years will have almost $500,000 more in the kitty than someone who trades in their car every three years.” 

Related: Rules for Buying a Car for All Cash

Read more

One of the toughest things I battle in my life is procrastination. My natural response is I’ll do it later. There’s a part of me that despises that procrastinator and wages a daily war to defeat it. That’s how I’ve come to rely on the power of habits and routines. If I can avoid having to make a decision, I lose the choice to put it off until later.

13564365_s

Habits are those things we do so often, they become automatic. Take my MacBook Pro. You’d be shocked to know just how many hours a day I am on this thing. The keyboard is part of me. My muscles have totally memorized every stroke, the location of every key. Until something changes. 

Due to a series of technical complications, I was forced to move the dock from the bottom of my screen to the left side. We’re talking about a 90-degree relocation from horizontal to vertical. And I’m ready to be committed. 

Everything in me wants that dock at the bottom. Every muscle recalls exactly where each tool should be. For nearly three weeks I have battled this annoying change and it is driving me to the brink of insanity. My routines are disrupted, my old habit is screaming in torment. My brain, muscles, and fingers are trained to reach effortlessly to get what I need. It was so automatic I didn’t have to think about it.  Read more

image_print