Dollars & Sense Blog

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Help! I Blew My Budget, Again

By Kristl Story, contributor It’s a new week, and you’re ready to follow your new budget and save some serious money. Day one goes really well. You bring your lunch to work and save $10. You skip your afternoon Starbucks run to save another $4, and you opt for a DIY manicure to save a whopping $25. WOW! $39 saved today. Imagine if you could do that everyday … you’d save $1,170 a month and $14,040 a year. Days two, three and four, you’re on a money-saving “high.” This budgeting thing is easy! Day five, your friends invite you to the grand opening of a new clothing store and you give into temptation, kicking off a spending binge. Does this scenario sound familiar? How many times have you started budgeting and then given up within a week or two? Probably about as many times as you’ve started a diet. Well,…


Why Personal Finance Should Be Taught In High School

By Brian Page, personal finance adviser Ninety-three percent of Americans believe all high school students should be required to take a class in financial education. And yes, teens themselves want to learn money management skills. Eighty-six percent of teens indicate they’d rather learn about money management in a class before making mistakes in the real world. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke summarized the need for financial education nicely in the summer of 2012: “Financial education supports not only individual well-being, but also the economic health of our nation … Consumers who can make informed decisions about financial products and services not only serve their own best interests, but collectively, they also help promote broader economic stability.” Teachers and parents alike know it’s important to make learning relevant for teens. Fortunately, managing money is not a responsibility exclusive to adults. Managing money is already relevant to most of today’s teens….


Teaching Teens About Money – College Prep & Life Thereafter

By Jennifer Powell-Lunder, contributor As teens begin the transition to young adulthood, they face many important tasks. Teens who are able to efficiently manage their finances face the world feeling more prepared and encouraged to take on the challenges associated with living an independent life. Steps toward self-sufficiency can be scary. With a little help from parents, however, teens can learn how to take on new roles and responsibilities with ease. Here are some ways to encourage teens to become self-confident and financially secure: 1. Self-management begins with assistance. Teens may initially need your oversight when managing money. Online banking with them is a good place to start. Your access to their account IDs and passwords will allow you to transition your role from direct supervision to occasional oversight. 2. Choose debit over credit to teach accountability. Credit cards can encourage superfluous spending, whereas watching a checking account balance shrink…


4 Easy Ways To Budget For Disaster

No one is safe from the unexpected. The probability that something unanticipated and expensive will happen to you at some point is darn near 100%. It’s just a fact of life. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to mitigate financial disaster — the best of which is preparation. At first, the prospect of building up an emergency savings fund can seen overwhelming or even pessimistic, but once it becomes your habit and the fund begins to grow, the security you will feel (and have!) is all worth it. Here are four easy ways to get your emergency fund going, or in other words, to budget for disaster: 1. Treat savings like a bill If you sock away a set amount of money every month before you calculate your disposable income and pay your savings account like paying a bill, you’re golden. Better still, set up two savings accounts: one…


Teaching Teens About Money – How To Put Budgeting Basics Into Action

By Jennifer Powell-Lunder It is never too early or late to teach teens how to manage money. Encouraging good spending and saving skills is sound advice at any age. Parents however, are often at a loss regarding the most effective way to put this sentiment into action. What follows are a few action-oriented tips to help teens learn how to manage their money: 1. An allowance encourages budgeting. In order to learn how to budget, you have to be on a budget. If teens do not have a job, or require additional income despite a job, work with them to identify a reasonable amount for an allowance. 2. Indiscriminately offering cash counteracts your efforts. In order to learn budgeting basics, teens requires a realistic understanding of what it means to manage money. Supplemental money will make this task difficult, as it clearly defeats the purpose. 3. A penny earned in…


Budgeting – It’s A Diet For Your Wallet

By Kristl Story, contributor Have you ever been on a diet? Remember counting calories and cravings, and cutting back on just about everything? Welcome to the world of budgeting. It’s a diet for your wallet. If you’ve been successful on a diet, you may find the same tactics can help you succeed in budgeting. The similarities might surprise you. Set a goal – Say your budget goal is to save enough money for a family trip to Disney World. The key is having something to motivate you everyday. Have you ever taped a picture of someone svelte on your refrigerator to remind you to think before you eat? Why not tape a picture of Mickey Mouse inside your wallet? You’ll think twice before making a purchase. Realize there’s no “magic pill” – Dieting and budgeting require commitment and hard work. You’re not going to lose the weight overnight or change…


Teaching Teens About Money – Why Saving Isn’t Always So Simple

By Jennifer Powell-Lunder, contributor Teens tend to approach the world with their eyes wide open. During the formative teenage years, kids begin to affirm their independence. They expand their interest in many realms outside their immediate home and family environments. Smart marketers are well aware of the wants and desires of this demographic. They understand that teens are willing and active consumers. As tweens grow into teens, parents promote autonomy by encouraging their kids to take on more tasks and responsibilities. Learning to manage money is a common expectation. Unfortunately, the ability to budget comes much easier to some teens than others. With a little pressure from the marketing industry, in general, it is not uncommon for teens to impulsively spend every dime in their pockets. Teens want it all and they want it now. Their natural inclination to believe that the world is their oyster and that everything will…

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Around the Web – Teen Personal Finance News

It’s been a busy few weeks in personal finance, with a number of organizations making news relevant to teens, their teachers and their parents. Catch up on the latest stories: H&R Block Budget Challenge has launched The announcement of the H&R Block Budget Challenge has made it to Good Morning America, Time, The Wall Street Journal and more. If you’re interested in learning more about this simulation, which gives teens an opportunity to try real-life budgeting without real-life consequences (and compete to win $3 million in grants and scholarships), click here. Teen obesity linked to lower wages in adulthood New findings from a study by Springer found that in Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S., male teen obesity was linked to lower wages in adulthood. The wage gap, an astonishing 18%, did not apply to young men who gained weight later in life. Read more. 10 Colleges With Standout Personal…

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5 Completely Believable Paycheck Myths

Think you’ve got a handle on your finances? Check yourself before you … bounce a check — and check out these five completely believable paycheck myths. Check. 5 Completely Believable Paycheck Myths 1. I get paid more money if I claim more allowances on my W-4. This is temporarily true. However, the increase is only in your take-home pay. Allowances directly impact the amount of money that is withheld from your paycheck (and not paid to you) for income taxes. Your taxes will later be based on your actual income and deductions, not the allowances, so in order to avoid owing more taxes when you file your return, you should not add too many allowances without understanding the effect. Claiming zero allowances will make you more likely to claim a tax refund — but there are many other variables to consider. No idea what you put on the W-4? You…


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…