April 27, 2013
Financial freedom. We all want it. It can mean different things to different people. Perhaps for you it means making a great living, doing what you love…or it may mean you have enough money in the bank that you never have to worry about when your next paycheck is coming.
It’s a life we all dream of. Well, dreams do come true. But, this I know for sure. In order for you to have financial freedom, you must understand money. Understand money? What does that mean?
It means you know how to handle the wealth you now have, by being financially savvy. Let’s face it, most of us weren’t educated about money when we were young. We were masters at spending money and would have won awards, if they gave them out, for mismanaging the money that ran through our fingers.
Like anything, when you don’t practice the art, you never really become great. Same goes for money.
So, how do you become financially savvy? Start by admitting you need some help. It’s okay to say, out loud, that money isn’t your strongest skill set. Welcome to the majority.
Let’s get started. First of all, decide today that becoming financially free, and staying financially free, is something you are committed to. You are sick and tired of struggling financially and want out of the constant stress that “lack” brings you. Once you admit you need some help, finding the guidance becomes easy.
Observe those that have done really well and learn from what they do. Let’s take Warren Buffet, for example. Clearly, he made his Billions, with a capital B, by mastering the stock market. But, if you study him further, you will come to realize it wasn’t so much what he made in the market, it’s what he kept. Although he can afford much grander, he lives in a conservative, smaller home that you wouldn’t expect a billionaire to live in. In fact, he lives in the same home he purchased for $31,500 in Omaha, Nebraska. The lesson here, with observing his habits, is one of my favorite messages….live below your means. In other words, don’t worry about impressing the neighbors, or anyone else for that matter. Be more concerned with your financial well-being, than what others think about you. Pretty exhilarating, huh?
Stay tuned for next time, when I share the next tip on becoming money savvy!
April 14, 2013
Welcome to our newest subscribers! We have had quite a few new families join us recently and I’m very happy you’re here!
I was so excited to read a recent article about Maryland schools requiring financial literacy to be added to their curriculum. If you are in the Maryland area and have heard the same, please let me know. I am in the process of researching this and would love confirmation!
How great would that be? Finally, our public school systems acknowledging the importance of “life skills” in the classroom! Imagine our kids coming out of high school with the knowledge and confidence of knowing how to interview correctly, how to manage their money wisely, building business relationships, understanding time management and stress reduction techniques! I’m getting excited just thinking about this!!
As summer approaches, many parents struggle with how to keep the “brain juices flowing” with our teens, myself included. Summertime is a great time to relax and enjoy time off from the crazy schedule of school commitments, but it’s also important to stay active, both in body and mind.
Well, I’ve got just the answer…at least for the mind part! My online Money School is a perfect way to entertain and educate your kids (and possibly Mom and Dad too!) This program is comprised of 40 lessons, broken down into 10-15 minute videos. The material is comprehensive and the perfect gift for anyone in high school or going off to college. As a thank you for being a loyal subscriber, I am offering this Money School for 40% off the retail price for 4 DAYS ONLY! This offer ends on April 18, 2013! Enter coupon code “SUMMER” at checkout!
You can learn more about the complete program here: http://teenscashcoach.com/products/napt
Have a wonderful week and please let me know how I can help you!
October 9, 2011
When it comes to teens, I love sharing great information. Since I’m a mom of a teen myself, I found this video very fascinating. Check out this study and enjoy the videos. Very interesting stuff!
September 10, 2011
I love posting this article during football season. If you’ve read it before, read it again, as it will be a good reminder for you. If you’re reading for the first time, enjoy!
OK, I admit it. I like football. Although I don’t understand all the strategies just yet, I enjoy watching the carefully
planned plays. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but nevertheless, very fun stuff to watch.
As I’m watching the games, it occurs to me that football and finances have a lot in common. (I admit, sometimes it’s hard for me to turn my ‘work’ brain off, even in the middle of an exciting game). The plays are carefully planned, the teams spend countless
hours practicing and strategizing, there is an experienced coach that guides the team to victory and they never give up. Their goal is specific, understood by all and there is serious motivation to win. Do you see where I am going with this?
Your money matters, your financial roadmap, requires the same mindset as those big, bad, burly football players. If you don’t have a specific plan in place, if you don’t practice and don’t have someone guiding you, you will probably not end up where you want to. When it’s time to send your kids to college, go on that vacation or retire, where are those funds coming from? What if you lost your job unexpectedly? Do you have reserves to fall back on?
Imagine those football players running onto the field with no plan, no plays. It would almost be painful to watch. Complete chaos. Is that what we enjoy watching? Doubtful.
So, is your financial picture complete chaos? If so, don’t panic. It’s never too late to get things in order.
Start by having a plan. Write down specific goals, what action steps are necessary to achieve those goals and by when. If lifestyle changes must occur, define what those changes are and commit to that change. Sit down and pull all your bills out for the last month. Determine your fixed expenses and compare that to what you actually spend every month. Sometimes this alone can be a real eye opener. Where does all that extra money go? The local coffee house? Lunch out? Those shoes you had to have?
Here’s an interesting statistic: If you saved $4 per day (one coffee) for 5 days per week for 52 weeks and invested that money at 10%, do you know how much you would have after 40 years? Some would say about $80,000, $90,000 even $100,000. Nope, you would have $553,396. Compounding interest is your new best friend.
So, make plans for your vacation and sending your kids off to college, just remember to plan for your money issues as well.
July 9, 2011
After my blog post last week, I got this great letter from a reader. She agreed to allow me to share her question and my response. You may resonate with her, and as she did, feel better after you read what I had to say. If you missed last week, read the article below this one.
I read the article about teens working. I have read other articles with similar information. The part that I have trouble wrapping my mind around is this: once an adult, the child will forever be an adult. There is a short period of time where the child can just be a child. My son, 15 years old, schools 11 months out of the year 5-7 hours a day pursuing his bachelor’s degree while finishing his high school requirements. He participates in speech and debate, Moot Court, Model UN as well as organized sports. He has plenty of friends through those activities and is honestly very happy. So, am I a bad parent for not making him get a job? (He does do some landscaping when jobs are sent his way and he is required to do chores and he gets no allowance.) Is my perspective wrong? Should I pull him from his studies or activities that he loves so that he can work at the ice cream store up the road? I am not being cocky, I really need to know.
Thanks for asking such a great question. I can hear in your “voice” the struggle you are experiencing.
It sounds like your son is a very motivated and driven young man. To be working on a Bachelors degree at 15 years old is very impressive!
There are two main reasons I suggest a job for teens. One, it teaches them accountability. As an employee, they are required to be at a certain place, at a certain time, doing a job that requires work. The responsibility that goes along with that gives them a good indication of what life is about. Two, with the funds they earn, they can learn how to manage money wisely. They can start to save, invest, give back, spend and understand budgeting.
Having said all that, I believe your son has the first reason down to a science. Given what you have shared with me, he has a total understanding of being accountable and responsible. This is a non issue for you.
As far as teaching him about money, he does need some way to understand smart money management. I know you plan on purchasing the online money school, which will be a great asset for him. I’m hoping he enjoyed the book and learned a ton. This will give him a definite edge when he gets out in the world.
But, like playing tennis, until you go hit the ball, you can’t really know what it feels like to play the game. You can read and study, which will help you with strategy and rules, but until you get on the court, it’s hard to “feel” playing. So, I’m not suggesting he get a job at the local ice cream store, just for the sake of getting a job, but I do suggest he somehow gets some money in his “hands.” How? Here’s an idea I’ll run by you…
Come up with a figure that you spend on him every month, not including food. Calculate what you spend on clothes, sundries, the activities you mentioned, play money etc. At the 1st of the month, give him that amount of money to budget for the month. Let him experience paying cash for these items and budgeting the money himself. If he runs out of money before the end of the month, let that be a learning experience for him.
You can also include him in your household payments, if this is something you wish to share with him. Take the opportunity to teach him with everyday situations. Whether it’s making him shop for a sale or negotiating a purchase, these daily experiences will help him understand that money management is the key to wealth. It’s not what you make that makes you wealthy, it’s what you keep.
Perhaps he can find a job that pertains to what he is studying. This way it becomes both work experience and income.
He obviously has a great work ethic and is very bright. You have done a great job in exposing him to some wonderful opportunities! As he learns the ropes to being money savvy, he will be well on his way to success!
I hope this helps.
She responsed with feeling much better and understood my point and suggestions.
July 5, 2011
I love guest posts and this week I share an article written by a very talented and amazing 17 year old entrepreneur, Micheal Costigan.
Teens who are 16 and older can readily obtain some form of retail service or hospitality job. Readily, however, does not necessarily mean that it’s easy. In most states, 16 years marks the age that students can begin working. Of course, they are limited to less hours, certain work conditions, and other state requirements.
Work experience is invaluable though, and in today’s world, having early age work experience is becoming less and less of a defining stand out, and more and more of a common resume booster. Thus, there are several reasons why teens might find it useful and fun to work — not to mention the financial relief they may provide for their parents given our current economy.
1. Getting a job is not as easy as 123.
Although they are low paying and often not very exciting, jobs for teens are at their lowest existence rates in years. Roughly 30% percent of teens are unemployed. (TIME http://ti.me/kUxfmk)
However, teens because they are less experienced and not usually full-time employees, can save employers significant overhead in a time of tight cash-flow. Teens can capitalize off of this opportunity. Ideally, teens, if they’re able to, should work year around. Summer jobs rarely offer the type of continuity with purpose needed to fully acquaint one with having a ‘real job’. Nevertheless, a summer job, or paid internship, can be an important part of college resumes, practical experience, and oh, learning to be an adult. I typically find that amongst the people I know, less than one quarter of them worked during high school. And when graduation came, many of them went out in a fury looking for jobs. While this may work to a certain extent, having a 3+ year jumpstart over them has helped me deeply in not only the type of positions I am able to field, but the level of confidence I hold in going off to pursue more significant work related ventures.
A job provides structure and places responsibility. Think of it as a way to parent, but where someone else does most of the work for you. The skills picked up as a teen employee will not only set your son or daughter apart in accomplishment, but in maturity and personal fulfillment.
2. Losing a job is as easy as 123.
Just like losing car or cellphone privileges might be easy for your son or daughter to do, so is losing a job. For the most part, teen jobs are disposable jobs. There are many teens that could fill them, and they take little effort or overhead to replace someone if they are failing to meet the expectations of a specific position. That’s an ego strike for most teens, some of whom may even be fired simply because they were not outperforming someone else. Of course there are laws for the appropriate procurement of labor, but hiring and firing always has and always will carry a bias.
The earlier one starts a job, the more experience and confidence he or she will have when it comes to holding down a higher paying job that “really does matter”.
3. Jobs are worth the time and commitment for most teens.
I’ve pretended to be the teen job evangelist for the last few paragraphs, but don’t be misled. I say that jobs are important, and they are, but not every teen is ready for the level of responsibility that one carries. And not every parent knows how to adjust their parenting style responsibly to meet the maturity of an employed child.
The better the job, the more financial independence a teen can earn, the more financial independence a teen has, the more parenting independence they should receive. Yes, you read that correctly. A responsible teen who is working multiple days a week and earning their own money to go out with their friends deserves the right to be able to do so at a greater leisure than previously before. It’s hard, for example, to require a 10 o’clock curfew on your teen, if and when, they have a job that works them past 10 PM four nights out of the week.
I will leave you with this. As someone who’s friends are all leaving for college this coming fall, I would have wanted their parents to have been able to witness their children functioning as adults on their own. For in three months, in effect, that’s what they’ll be. Yet next to none of their parents have ever seen them successfully carry out this feat. Someone does the laundry for them, or buys their gas, or drives them to and from the movies. They’re still asking their parents for money.
Parents, how important is a trial run of your teens’ adulthood before they leave for college? They’re success in life just might depend on it.
Michael Costigan is a 17 – year-old from Orange County, CA. He is a social entrepreneur, public speaker, and truly enjoys helping other’s better understand teen related issues. You can follow him at www.SpeakingofMichael.com
May 26, 2011
It’s not often you walk into a doctor’s office with a few questions and leave with a life lesson. On a recent visit to my doctor, I had somewhat of an aha moment.
We got talking about different medical screening tests and how oftentimes they aren’t always dependable. With some medical issues, blood tests don’t alert us soon enough. He brought up the example of pancreatic cancer and went on to say that, more times than not, by the time that disease is diagnosed, it’s too late.
It was then he said something very profound, which stopped me in my tracks. He said, “you just pray you don’t get it and if you do, you pray that you’ve lived your life.” Wow. Pray that you’ve lived your life. That statement just sat with me.
He left the room for a moment and I just sat there, in my lovely little gown, processing that statement. I quietly asked myself, ‘am I living my life?’ Initially, I got a bit sad, thinking, maybe I’m not. My mind raced with my responsibilities, my hours working, the various projects on my plate, single parenting and more.
As I left the office and spend the rest of the day contemplating that comment, I realized something very interesting. Yes, I was living my life. I found myself reflecting on those things I love; my son, my family, spending time with friends and doing something that makes a difference in the lives of others. I do spend a lot of time with my loved ones and that is precious to me. And, no, I wasn’t living my life. I realized I didn’t include much ‘play’ time. Actually, I had no play time.
We’ve always heard it’s important to live your life to the fullest and never take anything for granted. I totally agree with that and do feel immense gratitude for my life. But, I have to admit, I get caught up in my day to day responsibilities and stresses that I forget to slow down and ‘smell the roses.’
What does this have to do with teaching teens about money? Absolutely nothing. But, it does teach an invaluable life lesson. Yes, it’s important to plan for the future, manage your money wisely and make smart choices in life. But, it’s also important not to get so caught up in planning your future that you miss today.
So, go play. Live your life with no regrets. All the while, be sure to save automatically and watch your spending. I’m off to play some tennis.
April 17, 2011
This week’s post is an article written by Alexander Green. I loved his message and had to share with you. Enjoy!
Over the years, my idea of what it means to be truly wealthy has changed a great deal.
As a young man fresh out of college, I equated wealth with a high income – and soon found myself in one of the nation’s highest paying professions: money management.
It turned out I had a knack for it. Before long I had the spanking-new lakefront home, the ski boat, the Jaguar XJ-6 and all the other toys. When my friends came over for parties – which were frequent – most of them assumed I was rich.
I was nothing of the sort. Wealth is not the same thing as income. If you earn a lot of money and blow it every year, you’re not rich. You’re just living high.
My perspective evolved. I recognized that wealth is not about what you earn or spend. It’s about the financial assets you accumulate and the debt you avoid (or pay down). Your balance sheet – not your income statement – is the true measure.
Of course, idealists will tell you that money isn’t important, that it doesn’t really matter. I disagree. Money gives you the freedom to make important choices in your life. No one is truly free who is a slave to his job, his creditors, his circumstances, or his overhead. Money allows you to support worthy causes and help the less fortunate. It allows you to do what you want, where you want, with whom you want. In short, money gives you options.
It has its limitations, as well. Money doesn’t buy genuine love or friendship. (In fact, it may bring you just the opposite.) It won’t restore your health, fix your marriage, turn you into “a success,” or even make you charitable if you’re not already charitably inclined.
Money alone doesn’t make anyone wealthy. True wealth is a life rich in love, friends, projects and interests.
Like me, you may know high-net-worth individuals whose lives are impoverished. They are so obsessed with competing, winning and having “more” that they have little time for anyone or anything else. Other economically successful people are less obsessive but remain trapped in stressful, hectic lives. They lack something far more precious than money: time.
This is a bit odd when you think about it. Our ancestors just a few generations removed walked or rode a horse to work (where they often performed backbreaking labor). There were no automobiles, airplanes, cell phones, or computers. They couldn’t have imagined labor saving developments like dishwashers, microwaves, supermarkets, or the Internet. Yet they still found time for leisure – and would no doubt be mystified by those today who choose to live their lives in a perpetual rush, as if being busy every minute of the day is a sign of success.
If these folks slowed down a little, they might gain a deeper understanding of what is driving them. Is it the intrinsic and monetary rewards of their work? Or is it fear, greed, envy, reputation, status, or some blinkered image of success?
What does it matter how much you make or how prestigious your title is if you spend your days rushing from one appointment to the next, pressured by deadlines and continually interrupting conversations and meals for emails and phone calls? That is not a rich life. Nor is it a terribly attractive image. As an old Chinaman once observed, “man in hurry cannot walk with dignity.”
True, we live in a competitive, 24/7 world. We all have responsibilities and obligations. We want to be productive and meet our professional goals. But that’s just the point, really. It’s a matter of balance – and making a priority of what matters most.
You may know from my other letters that I am a huge fan of Thomas Jefferson. He was a statesman, historian, surveyor, philosopher, scientist, architect, inventor, educator, lawyer, farmer, breeder, manufacturer, botanist, anthropologist, meteorologist, astronomer, paleontologist, linguist, Biblicist, mathematician, geographer, scholar, bibliographer, translator, musician, gastronome and the nation’s first great connoisseur of wine. He authored the Declaration of Independence, was Governor of Virginia, served two terms as President of the United States, founded the University of Virginia and much more. Despite his many accomplishments, Jefferson noted near the end of his life, “Nothing really matters except your family and your friends.”
Our most precious resource is the short, unknown time we have left on this little blue ball. It is perishable, irreplaceable, and, unlike money, cannot be saved. Americans live, on average, just 28,000 days. That gives us, if we’re lucky, roughly 443,000 waking hours. (And most of them may be behind you.) So it behooves us to ask, “Am I using my time well?”
Surveys show that more than half of Americans feel rushed, stressed and pressed for time. How do you regain control? In much the same way we create investment capital…
You’ve probably heard that to become a disciplined saver you have to “pay yourself first.” That means setting aside at least ten percent of your income before you pay the rent, buy the groceries, or hit the mall. If you wait until you’ve bought everything you want, there is usually little left to save. To avoid this, we pay ourselves first.
Time is similar. If you intend to spend more time on leisure, or with your closest friends and family, or in other high-value activities once you get everything done, that moment remains elusive. Important but less urgent activities take a back seat to urgent but less important ones. So we have to make first things first. (Follow through, of course, is everything.)
In sum, a genuinely rich life is not about income, assets, or possessions. It’s about living your life your way.
Money helps. But that is a secondary consideration. How you spend your time is the first.
Alexander Green is the Investment Director of The Oxford Club. The Oxford Club Communique, whose portfolio he directs, is ranked among the top 5 investment letters in the nation for 10-year performance by the independent Hulbert Investment Digest.
February 18, 2011
Two weeks ago, on a quiet Saturday night, I got a phone call from my nephew. Being the prankster that he is, I normally take what he says with a grain of salt. “We have a little flooding problem over here and mom needs you to come over.” Not taking him seriously, I calmly said, “Devin, really?” “Yes, really” he says. We repeated these same words three times before I realized he was serious.
As I jumped in my car, I still wasn’t 100% convinced he wasn’t pulling another prank. Then I walked into their home. My sister was devastated, as she watched the ‘rain’ from the second story continue to fall onto our grandmothers antique dining room set. We moved as fast as we could to remove belongings, dry furniture and figure out what to do next. All the while, I just held my sister, telling her this was just temporary. We would get everything repaired and before she knew it, her home would be her castle again.
Like me, her home is her sanctuary. It’s the place we go to when we need calm and quiet. It’s a peaceful feeling when our home is clean, free of clutter and everything is in its proper place. We are in control. Or are we? Yes and no.
To think that we have total control over everything in our lives is a bit ignorant. At least in my opinion. We don’t. And that alone can make some people go nutty. As a control freak myself, I oftentimes struggle with this myself. But, here is how I find my balance.
First, I’ve learned to let go and hand over my issues to God. If that offends you, I’m sorry. But, finding a higher source to lean on, gain strength from and get direction from is, I believe, the first step towards finding peace. Whether you are dealing with a flood in your home, a health scare or money challenges, finding a source of strength, other than yourself, is paramount in getting through it.
Second, with those issues you do have control over, take the bull by the horns. For example, if you have money challenges, such as mounting credit card debt, take proactive steps towards resolving this. Contact your creditors and try negotiating lower interest rates or do a balance transfer to a zero percent interest rate card (Citicards and Discover have some nice offers right now). Then, cut up your cards. Don’t close the account, as this will oftentimes lower your credit score.
Another aspect you do have control over is your mindset. If you think you’re set up for failure or set up to succeed, you are right. Having a positive mindset, despite the bumps, will carry you through difficult times. Read uplifting books or get involved with an activity that brings you absolute joy. It’s not always easy, I’ll give you that, but perseverance and a positive attitude will take you farther than you ever thought possible.
If you learn to let go of those things you can’t control, master those issues you can control and enjoy the journey along the way, you will create a life of joy and peace. Despite the unexpected floods.
January 23, 2011
Shortly after the holiday break, my son came home from school, excited to tell me all about the new phones his friends got for Christmas. “They’re so cool mom, the phones have the capability to do…” he went on to share all the latest and greatest phone features known to mankind. He pleaded with me to upgrade his phone, before the contract allowed for an upgrade, just so he could have all the bells and whistles these new phones have to offer.
If it isn’t a cell phone upgrade, it’s a new outfit or a trip to the sporting goods store. I hear it from parents all the time. Seems that our kids want and want and want. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no harm in wanting. We all want, even as adults.
But, prioritizing our wants, separating those wants from our needs, and focusing on long term financial wealth is oftentimes difficult for adults, let alone our kids. But, prioritizing and focus we must!
Part of that challenge is the peer pressure our kids experience at school. Kids can be tough on each other; being popular, accepted and liked today are far more important than any issue in the future. Trying to convince a teenager that they should be saving for college, a house, or “just to have money in the bank”, rather than buy the latest gadget or pair of jeans is no easy task. Believe me, I’ve tried.
So, what is a parent to do to drive this point home?
First, acknowledge your teen’s feelings and let them know you once felt the same way. If you have an example to share from your younger years, tell them about it. Showing them you understand how they are feeling will help drop their walls.
Second, talk about the importance of balance. Sure, they can want, and have, the latest gadget, once they can afford it. Make them pay for it, once they have also socked away some money in savings. This teaches them several important lessons: one, delayed gratification; two, the importance of savings; three, balance is critical.
Third, lead by example. When you want something, but can’t quite afford it just yet, use the opportunity and discuss the situation with your kids. Show them how, you as a parent wants something, but you aren’t running out and buying it. You must practice what you preach or your kids will catch you every time.
In the end, peer pressure is a fact of life we can’t escape. As adults, we experience this as well, just on a different level. As we get wiser, we don’t let this nonsense get to us. Meanwhile, pack your patience and keep the lines of communication open. Needless to say, my son never got a new phone.