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Three Tips To Reduce Your Shopping Bill

This post comes from H&R Block Dollars & Sense’s family finance advisor Scott Gamm. Scott Gamm is the author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE. Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottGamm. Even the slightest reduction in spending, over a period of time, will result in a significant increase in savings. To spend less without spending time clipping coupons, talk to your teens about these strategies: 1. Buy in bulk Whether shopping at a major warehouse store or stocking up on a certain item on sale, buying in large quantities is bound to save you money. This tactic is especially useful when shopping for school supplies. Your teen may not need 30 folders for the start of the school year, but six months later, folders will likely need to be replaced. Buying in bulk ahead of time prevents you from paying full price later on. 2. Use the store’s rewards program Plenty of stores have rewards programs,…

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Teachers and Students Answer: How Big is a Billion?

Exactly how big IS a billion? Well, Emily McDonnell’s class figured it’s 15,432 years worth of lunch trays at Bonner Springs (Kan.) Elementary. The students of Billie Watson’s class at Annoor Academy in Knoxville, Tenn. determined it equals an hourly salary of $114,115.25 for every hour of every day for an entire year. For the sports and history buffs out there, Amanda Bowles’ students at East Coweta High School in Sharpsburg, Ga., determined that a billion pitches would be thrown over the course of 1,906 Major League Baseball seasons – or, enough to take our national pastime back to the Roman Empire of the second century! These brilliant takes are the grand prize winners of our “How Big is a Billion?” contest. Inspired by the H&R Block “Get Your Billion Back” commercials, we asked teachers and their students around the country to creatively illustrate the concept of $1 billion (the…

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Spending Too Much Money? Here’s How To Curb Your Spending

This post comes from H&R Block Dollars & Sense’s family finance advisor Scott Gamm. Scott Gamm is the author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE. Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottGamm. Impulse buying is one of the main culprits of a broken budget for both young and old alike. These are unplanned purchases, rather than well-thought-out expenditures. They come in all forms, from a new pair of shoes to a daily-deals website or a fancy box of chocolates that looked appealing on a display at the grocery store. Regardless of the item, impulse buys can have a big effect on a tight budget. To teach your teen how to prevent unnecessary spending, start by helping them make a list prior to shopping. Should your teen be heading to the mall to stock up on new clothes for the summer, for example, it’s important for parents to help their teens create a proper list of what they…

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Teens and Personal Finance – Surprising Survey Results

At H&R Block Dollars & Sense, we’re constantly looking for new ways to help teach teens about personal finance. Our parents used to call it “knowing the value of a dollar,” but in today’s world managing finances can be a lot more complex. From applying for tax credits online to smartphone investing apps, some of us may not even feel qualified to talk to our own children, or our students, about money. That’s okay. At H&R Block Dollars & Sense, we work directly with parents, teachers, schools and teenagers to provide tips, tools and incentives to make the conversation about financial education much easier. And following the nearly five years of offering advice, grants and scholarships, we thought it was time to check in to see how they’re doing. In February of this year we surveyed over 1,000 teens ages 13-17 and found some surprising results. Whether you’re a teen,…

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Analyzing the Paycheck Beyond the Dollar Amount

This post comes from H&R Block Dollars & Sense’s family finance advisor Scott Gamm. Scott Gamm is the author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE. Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottGamm. Your teen will always remember their first job and paycheck. Before they go and spend it, it’s important for parents to use this opportunity to educate teens beyond the dollar amount. The first paycheck will be a great time to introduce the world of deductions and taxes to your teen, including Social Security, known as FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), along with deductions for Medicare and Federal and State taxes. While examining those deductions, revisit your teen’s W-4 to go over how the amount deducted from their paycheck is determined. And start to talk to your teens about tax season, which will be an annual process as they get older and enter the workforce later on. Also, keep in mind your teen may need to…

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Spring Clean Your Finances For The Summer

This post comes from H&R Block Dollars & Sense’s family finance advisor Scott Gamm. Scott Gamm is the author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE. Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottGamm. As spring approaches, you often step up the chores around the house, from cleaning the closets to organizing the garage. This time of year is also a prime opportunity to help your teen get their finances in order. 1. Banking The basic foundation of personal finance is banking – that is, having a checking and savings account. If your teen doesn’t already have these accounts, it’s important for you to help them open one up at a local bank. They will learn common banking terms such as deposits, withdrawals, interest rates, debit cards and ATMs. This will also help them understand how banks operate by using customer deposits to make loans to other customers. 2. Debit cards vs. credit cards Speaking of debit cards, it’s…

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New Year’s Resolution Check-In

This post comes from H&R Block Dollars & Sense’s family finance advisor Scott Gamm. Scott Gamm is the author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE. Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottGamm. You may have helped your teen set financial resolutions for 2014, whether relating to savings, debt, money management or college goals. Two months into the New Year, it’s time to check for a resolution check-in, since March tends to be the month when New Year’s resolutions veer off track. When it comes to reestablishing these goals and bolstering their plan to achieve them, there are a few things you and your teen should keep in mind. First, it’s important to reiterate the resolutions and goals that were set at the start of the year. Ideally, these should have been written down, which tends to make these goals more tangible and attainable. Next, examine what went wrong and what went right over the past two months….

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3 Tips to Maximize Savings When Shopping Online

This post comes from H&R Block Dollars & Sense’s family finance advisor Scott Gamm. Scott Gamm is the author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE. Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottGamm. When it comes to shopping online, not only should your teen be aware of how to find the best deals, but it’s important to understand some of the more obscure ways to save money. We’re talking about shipping and some hidden ways to score coupons – read on to find out more: 1. Find coupons When shopping online, how do you know if you are actually getting the best deal? Before making any purchases online, download the PriceBlick app for your browser. The app finds coupons and does price comparison for you, giving your teen the best chance to score the deepest discounts. 2. Be careful of return shipping fees While online retailers constantly offer free shipping and even free shipping coupon codes, your teen…

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What Should Be On Your Shopping List In February

This post comes from H&R Block Dollars & Sense’s family finance advisor Scott Gamm. Scott Gamm is the author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE. Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottGamm. Aside from traditional couponing and comparing prices, teach your teen to look for items heavily discounted in February due to low consumer demand or overstocking. The following retail categories often bring the best prices throughout this month: 1. Outerwear The best time to buy winter coats, scarves, gloves and outerwear is towards the end of the winter season when people have already purchased coats for the season and demand is low. Not to mention, retailers will be anxious to move inventory out of the stores to make room for incoming spring clothing, often adding to discounts. It’s the prime opportunity to buy a new coat for next winter or stock up on gloves and scarves. 2. Electronics We typically see discounts on electronics in February…

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How to Save Money on Valentine’s Day

This post comes from H&R Block Dollars & Sense’s family finance advisor Scott Gamm. Scott Gamm is the author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE. Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottGamm. Valentine’s Day is synonymous with gifts, candy and cards. Consumers spend tens of billions of dollars on Valentine’s Day expenses, which can easily add up and cause your teen’s budget to spiral out of control if they’re not careful. When it comes to candy, chocolate and cards, visit local warehouse clubs with your teen where you can buy these items in larger quantities for a much steeper savings than sending them to a convenience or card store. Also encourage your teen to make a list of the friends and loved ones they’ll be sending cards and candy to, so they can plan accordingly in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. When it comes to saving money on Valentine’s Day, parents should relay a few…