Tag Archives: money


Who’s a Bitcoin and Where Can I Facebook Him?

Have you ever heard your teens talking about Bitcoin and thought, “Oh, great—not another video game”?

If so, then you’ve been greatly misinformed. Yes, Bitcoin is a product of the Internet age and is used solely within the digital sphere, but it is not a video game. It’s also not a social media platform, mobile app or new dance craze.

Bitcoin is a form of digital currency—a.k.a. cryptocurrency—created and held electronically that operates independently of a central bank and its regulations. Being that it’s a decentralized currency free from the control of one institution or government, its value is derived from the relationship between its supply and demand.

This is all very confusing and quite abstract, we understand. But the simple truth is that teens can buy and use Bitcoin on the Internet to purchase just about anything. There are no age restrictions in place to purchase Bitcoins, and for a younger generation that operates almost exclusively on the Internet, it’s more than likely they’ll come across an opportunity to get involved with it.

So what should you, the parent, know about Bitcoin? We’ve distilled the info and packaged it into bite-sized pros and cons.


  1. Allows teens to make purchases online

In most jurisdictions, an individual must be 18 years of age to make a purchase on online. That means your teen will either get a hold of your credit card with no restrictions (yikes!) or you’ll have to monitor each and every purchase (also yikes!). With Bitcoin, a teen can spend a specific amount and receive a corresponding amount of bitcoins in return, regardless of age. There’s no immediate risk of overspending.

  1. Teaches teens practical personal financial skills

Budgeting is engrained in this system. Teens have to decide what is worthy of their bitcoins. Additionally, all bitcoins are encrypted with the history of each and every purchase, meaning frivolous purchases will never be forgotten and hopefully can teach meaningful lessons. This system of spending also provides more independence, which might work well with some teens that resent being constantly monitored by parents.

  1. Encourages entrepreneurships

Teens can actually earn bitcoins using their skills—just like a job. The Internet isn’t as ageist as the real world, so if a 13 year old can do computer programming as good or better than a 35 year old, then they can be hired and paid in Bitcoin. Freelance writers, gamers and programmers are regularly being paid in Bitcoin for their services. The value of ability and competence is valued more highly in this space than experience/wisdom/degrees.


  1. The dollar value of bitcoins is volatile

Fluctuation is the name of the game here. Within a two-year span, the price of Bitcoin went from under $100 to over $1,000. The current price of Bitcoin on the market as of this writing it $375. What this means in normal person terms: a bitcoin that bought you a DVD on Amazon yesterday won’t necessarily be able to buy you a piece of gum tomorrow. Additionally, there is only a finite amount available. This gets complex as well, but the basic fact is there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins in existence, with close to 15 million of them still unreleased to the general public.

  1. Only 2 percent of merchants currently accept Bitcoin

That 2 percent equates to 160,000 digital merchants, so there are places to use Bitcoin. It’s frustrating, but don’t expect to be able to use it everywhere. Additionally, if more merchants don’t begin adopting Bitcoin payment, the overall value could potentially take a hit.

  1. Can be used for not-so-reputable dealings

While some see and use Bitcoin as a way to fund some shady dealings, the big picture view is that they’re better used as an investment tool. Some analysts have made optimistic predictions that by 2025 one Bitcoin will be worth $17,473. That would provide a handsome return to current Bitcoin owners.

However, your teen can still use Bitcoin for smaller payment transactions. It’s a fun foray into money management that could give them insight into an emerging form of currency that could very well become commonplace in our society.


‘Tis the Season to be Thrifty

Once Thanksgiving comes and goes, it’s time to take a break from the holiday rush and relax a little, right?


We all know that Thanksgiving is merely the opening bell to an extended holiday season that lasts until the New Year. And the unavoidable consequence of celebration is spending.

With the average American doling out $720 on gifts and other related expenses, it’s an easy time to slip into debt. There are ways to stick to reasonable budget and avoid a dreadful January credit card bill for the sake of your bank account. Consider teaching these money management strategies to your teen as they head off to college and eventually adulthood.

Here are four ways to help you and your teen stay off the debt naughty list.

  1. Who’s in and who’s out?

Right off the bat you should put together a list of the people you will buy gifts for. Don’t think of it as cutting people out; think of it as paying special attention to the people you care the most about. There are several routes you could take: only buy gifts for the younger members of your family, only buy gifts for your immediate family, or only buy gifts for a small circle of 10 family members and/or friends. The decision is up to you, but you do need to make a decision.

  1. Money doesn’t grow on a holiday tree

Now that you’ve decided who will be receiving gifts, it’s time to create a realistic budget & actually sticking to it. Some people set a total amount they’re able to spend, while others set an amount per gift. Another option is to establish a tiered system wherein tier 1 people receive gifts up to $100, tier 2 people up to $50, and so on. And of course, you can set up a Secret Santa gift-giving system, which would allow you to buy one pricier gift as opposed to several cheaper ones.

  1. It is the thought that counts

The amount you care for a person isn’t directly related to the amount you spend on said person. A homemade DIY gift has that personal touch that shows you put considerable time and thought into the gift. Look to Pinterest for some creative and crafty gift ideas that you can make yourself. The recipient of your gift will see all of the work you put in and greatly appreciate it.

  1. Back to basics

If your family is trying to be extra frugal this year, perhaps gifts should be removed from the equation entirely in favor of other beloved holiday traditions. Concentrate on the spirit of the holiday season by visiting family and friends or volunteering to give back to those less fortunate. The sense of joy you’ll experience may be different, but you may find it equally as satisfying, if not more. If you can’t bear the thought of a gift-less holiday, then consider putting your budget towards one gift for everyone like a family trip or a new game. The time you all spend together will more than make up it.

The holidays are a season of giving, but that doesn’t mean giving credit cards companies your money. If you can instill in your teen a financial responsibility around the holidays now, they’ll be much better off when they are on their own.


Does Your Teen Know How Much It Really Costs To Live?

Teens tend to live in their own bubble, insulated from the realities and responsibilities of the real world. And they generally rely on parents to fund this utopian existence, without much awareness of its financial implications.

Getting your teen to see the world from your perspective is easier said than done, but a good start lies in sharing the exact costs of some of the luxuries they take for granted.

According to national averages tabulated by StartClass.com, a two-parent, three-child household spends $1,221 a week on necessary living expenses. Graduating from teen utopia to adulthood without a sense of these costs could leave them in a difficult situation.

Here are the top five expenses that you should make your teen aware of.

  1. Healthcare

Average cost = $431

It’s not cheap to keep yourself in tip-top shape, but it is a necessary expense. When your teen gets their first job, remind them that a good chuck of their paycheck will go toward health insurance. And even though most people don’t like to visit the doctor’s office, it’s a much better alternative than actually being sick.

  1. Lodging

Average cost = $241

Whether you’re paying rent or a mortgage, much of the money you earn at work goes toward putting a roof over your head. For teens who are used to the size and comfort of the family home, it will certainly be a reality check to see exactly what a dollar gets you in the housing market. This will be an area where the word “sacrifice” will apply.

  1. Meals

Average cost = $194

Everyone’s gotta eat, but not everyone has to order out every night. Being smart about a meal budget can help teens better manage their money when their on their own. Stock up on cheap meal ingredients and make enough for leftovers. Not only will it help save money, but it also saves time by making dinner for several nights. For teens who more than likely are not top chefs, this will be a life saver.

  1. Bills and Taxes

Average cost = $120

Having a place to live without the comforts of warmth, water and electricity sort of defeats the purpose. And don’t let your teen forget about the costs of television, Internet and cell phone service. Either they start understanding that saving for these services is necessary, or they start living a more meager lifestyle.

  1. Transportation

Average cost = $115

Car ownership is a constant expense with gas and maintenance. If your teen envisions using public transportation, that will also cost them. If neither of those options sounds appealing to your teen, they can either ride their bike everywhere or stay home all the time—or incorporate transportation costs into their budget.

As a parent, it’s easy to spoil your children. But the next time your teen complains about having meatloaf again for dinner, remind them how much money you’re spending on them and how the menu can change if they’re willing to buy filet mignons for the whole family.

Something tells us they’ll clear their plates rather quickly.



High School Sports vs. Your Wallet: Who’s the Winner?

Even if you’ve only seen one sports movie, you know that audiences love an underdog. We root for the kid who uses heart, talent and little else to beat the kid whose parents pay for the latest equipment and state-of-the-art facilities. And when he hoists that trophy above his head, our underdog proves the will to win is worth more than all the money in the world.

It’s an inspiring tale that is unfortunately growing unrealistic due to the rising cost of organized sports. A New York Times article reported that some U.S. families are spending up to 10.5 percent of their gross income to support their children’s athletic interests. This number may be alarming, but there are ways to keep costs down so that your teen can still play sports and enjoy all the benefits.


This is where a lot of money is wasted. Avoiding the latest and trendiest items should be a given when looking for ways to save money, but buying and selling used equipment can cut costs in half. Besides the tried and true hand-me-down method, websites like eBay or Craigslist often have used equipment at lower costs. Then there are the places devoted to the buying and selling of used sports equipment like Swapmesport.com and Play it Again Sports, where you can buy, sell or even trade all types of equipment. It’s a great way to get rid of those outgrown baseball cleats and get back a pair of useful football cleats. Once your teen has the equipment, encourage them to take good care of it. It’ll be worth more on resale and teach them a little bit of responsibility.

Show team spirit

The team concept should extend past the playing field in order to save cash. Sharing costs with teammates, friend or neighbors saves money and time. Carpooling to and from practice or games saves on gas, especially if it’s a particularly long trip. For overnight trips, share the cost of lodging. If your teen participates in a sport that require lessons or use of specific facilities to practice, book them as a team or ask about group rates. Even a few extra kids can bring down the overall number fairly significantly.

Skip the drive-thru

Traveling is unavoidable if your kids play sports. But just because you spend a lot of time in the car does not mean you have to spend a lot of money on fast food. The money spent on one trip through the drive-thru could go towards packed lunches and snacks for several days. Plus, packing your own food is a much healthier option. As far as hydration is concerned, sports drinks are fine, but water is still a very effective thirst quencher — and it’s also a lot cheaper.

Know the game plan

Taking an interest in your kid’s team is important for many reasons, but in a financial sense you’ll be more aware of important dates so you can plan ahead and find ways to save. If there are ever any early registration deals, having an ear to the ground can help you take advantage of these money-saving opportunities. If you’re particularly thrifty and think you can help the entire team save money, see if you can lend a hand or even serve on a financial planning committee if one exists.

The number you ultimately decide to spend on your teen’s high school sports team is up to you, but If your teen wants something more low key remember that almost every park has a place to run around and have fun.


Summer Expenses for Teenagers

By Jaime Ervin, contributor

Now that school is out, it may be tempting to think that your teen’s expenses will go down. After all, most won’t need new school clothes, lunch money, sports equipment or prom dresses. However, summer can be just as expensive as the school year, so check out the list below to ensure you’re planning properly.

Summer Programs and Camps

If you’re looking for structured summer activities to keep your teen out of trouble, a summer program or camp may be the way to go. The great thing about these programs is that you can find something for just about any interest that your teen may have. The bad news is they are going to cost you. According to the American Camp Association, fees to attend camp can vary from less than $100 to over $1,500 per week. If your teen is looking to join a summer travel program, it will likely be much more. But more good news: there are sometimes scholarships that can help you fund your teen’s summer plans.

Fun is Expensive

Your teen may have more free time than they had during the school year and will want to hang out with friends and have fun. But how much is it going to cost you? Trips to the movies, the mall, amusement parks and summer concerts can be pricey, so it’s a good idea to set limits on your teen’s spending. While these events are fun every once in a while, encourage your teen to find less expensive activities like community service projects. Not only do they benefit the community, but it also looks great on a college application and allows your teen to spend time with his or her friends without spending a ton of cash.

Even Working Costs Money

Many teens get their first job during summer, and this can with expenses, but there may be some initial expenses that you will need to help cover. This may be a simple as getting your teen a work uniform or work clothes, but expenses can skyrocket if your teen will be driving to work. Aside from the cost of a car itself, you will need to figure in the cost of gas, insurance, and maintenance. This is a perfect time to teach your teen about budgeting — they should be covering at least part of the cost themselves. However, it’s not a great idea to have your teen spending their entire paycheck on expenses; most teens will quickly lose interest in a summer job if there is no room for a little fun after the bills are paid.

The important thing is to keep the dialogue with your teen open and to set expectations for spending. Anticipate that summer may well be expensive, and construct a plan with your teen and help them follow through. Together, you can do it!


Jaime Ervin
is a mom, attorney, and certified teacher living and blogging in Western New York. Raising an eight-year-old fairy princess and a sassy teenager who can’t wait to be 30 is her life’s greatest challenge and joy. You can find her blogging at www.parentpalace.com.


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Which Generation is the Most Money-Smart? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Think you know more about finance than your parents did? We’ve got statistics on the financial health of four generations. See where you fall:


For an interactive version of this infographic, click here.


Putting The Holidays Into Financial Perspective For Teens

By Jennifer Powell-Lunder, contributor

Few things can match the expression of excitement and joy on a child’s face over the holidays. For parents, the holidays, while joyous and fun, can also be stressful. This is especially true for the parents of teenagers. Teens are past the age of believing in the myths and magic associated with the holidays, and the gifts they want tend to be more expensive than the toys they enjoyed as children.

The holidays offer a priceless opportunity to teach teens to be fiscally responsible. Between gift giving, decorations, special meals and hosting friends and family, the overall cost of the holidays can quickly accumulate. Parents should take the time to talk with their teens about limits and expectations before the holiday season hits. This will help prevent teens from experiencing disappointment and avoid general family discord.

Here are some simple tips on how to put the holidays into financial perspective for your teens:

1. Request a written list of prospective gifts early. Ask your teen to try to rank the list and review it with him or her. Be honest and clear with both yourself and your teen about the plausibility of the gifts. Of course you would like to give your teen whatever his or her heart desires, but is that reasonable or even responsible?

2. Encourage him or her to stash away holiday cash in savings. Help your teen understand that the more he or she spends now, the less he or she will have later. With college coming soon, he or she may be better served depositing the money in the bank.

3. Map out the holiday schedule of activities in advance. Many teens don’t immediately realize that although recreational experiences over the holidays are a lot of fun, they often also cost money. In order to avoid disappointing your teen, take the time to review his or her plans. If, for example, he or she wants to host a New Year’s get-together, remind him or her that he may have to forgo tickets to a concert or show.

4. A little creativity can go a long way. There are so many fun ways to cut down on holiday costs. Encourage your teen to help you make decorations and/or holiday treats. When given as gifts, homemade items usually trump anything store-bought. This will allow you to start new holiday traditions with your teen, a bonding experience you both will treasure. Encourage him or her to invite friends, too, to make it feel even more festive.

5. The best options for fun are often free. A family walk, a sled ride down that infamous hill, a group game of football or a sing-along in front of the fireplace can all provide priceless photo ops and memories.

The holidays are a special time of year. Teaching your teen the benefits of being fiscally responsible and creative costs nothing, and the yield can be invaluable.


Jennifer Powell-Lunder 150hDr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder is a clinical psychologist specializing in work with children, adolescents, young adults and their families. She is co-author of the book Teenage as a Second Language, the creator of www.itsatweenslife.com and co-creator of www.TalkingTeenage.com. Jennifer is widely published and regularly featured in both national and international media as a Parenting Expert. She is an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University and maintains a private practice in Westchester County, N.Y.




6 Insane Things That Used To Be “Money”

photo by erix via Flickr

Take a moment this #ThrowbackThursday to be thankful for your pocket change, because before we had coins, we had other kinds of “cash.” Check out some of the ancient forms of currency. Really, a mint is much safer.


6 Insane Things That Used To Be “Money”

1. Peppercorns.


photo by levien66 via Flickr

Let’s be glad we’re no longer in a situation where you could potentially sneeze your life savings away.


2. Cowrie shells.
photo by craigpemberton vi Flickr

Next time someone says to you, “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” consider reminding them that it totally used to just wash up on the beach, though, seriously.


3. Arrowheads.
photo by gaberosiak via Flickr

That which does not kill you makes you richer.


4. Salt.
photo by fuzzworks via Flickr

You know you’d eat it.


5. Squirrel pelts.
photo by jurvetson via Flickr

Your neighbor’s vendetta against the squirrel population could actually be a primal financial management instinct at play. Probably not, though.


 6. Human teeth.
photo by circasassy via Flickr

The whole tooth fairy proposition used to be legit! And to think that today, you have to pay other people to pull out your teeth. What a ripoff.

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Are American Teens As Financially Fit As Teens In Other Countries?

photo by Tax Credits.net via Flickr

A recent global survey found  the U.S. ranks average when it comes to teen financial fitness.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development‘s Programme for International Student Assessment collected answers from more than 29,000 15-year-olds in 18 different countries through an hour-long written test, focused on financial issues such as understanding a bank statement, the long-term costs of a loan and how insurance works.  The result: American teenagers are behind similarly-aged students in China and New Zealand.

Highlights of the survey include:

  • About 18% of American students did not demonstrate a basic level of financial proficiency
  • U.S. teens were slightly less likely than teens in other countries to have checking accounts
  • Teens with their own bank accounts scored higher on the test than teens without bank accounts — but teens from wealthier families were far more likely to have bank accounts, so other socio-economic factors may be at play.

“This news comes as no surprise to H&R Block, whose Budget Challenge was created to help young adults learn personal finance and prepare to enter a global workforce,” said Kelli Ramey, vice president of marketing, H&R Block.

According to Ramey, every American teen needs to know the basics. “Having an understanding of personal finances, whether it’s through opening a first checking account or learning how the family budget works, is a good first step in setting up teens for success.”

Click here to learn more about the latest initiatives from H&R Block Dollars & Sense.