The world of money: Dr. Seuss

While today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it is important to note the financial themes explained in his novels.

Jill Krasny, from Yahoo Finance dives into some of Dr. Seuss books to find correlations between the story plot and money lessons for children.

“Hunches in Bunches”

Lori Mackey, founder of propserity4kids.com, explains that “the takeaway from Hunches, then, is that money is a choice, Mackey says. “You have choices with the friends you’re going to pick. You have a choice to spend it or save it. Think before you do it.”

Encourage your children to follow their gut when making important money decisions that can affect their life.

“Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

Mackey states that this book is ideal for newly colleague graduates, because it discusses all the opportunities that are ahead of you now. “When you own your career, you’re going to own your financial direction. If you own it and you take control of it, that applies to personal finance, too. Are you going to set a plan in place and make it happen?”

“Daisy-Head Mayzie”

This book signifies the theme, money can’t buy you happiness, even if you spout a daisy from your head. “When you have only one idea about money that can be a problem. When you strip everything away from anybody, they would always go and help someone or do something that they care about.”

“The Lorax”

This book portrays the importance of reusing and recycling current goods. Get your children thinking about how they can give back and preserve the future of their environment.

“You’re Only Old Once”

This Dr. Seuss book warns children about growing old and how it can affect your health. Mackey comments that she asks her own children questions about their future adult life. In order to “get them thinking about the kind of life they’d like to have.”

Green Eggs and Ham”

Mackey states “So many people don’t know how to invest, and then they don’t do it, but I say, ‘Just try it!’ People are so scared to try something that it just paralyzes them.”

“The Cat in the Hat”

“The story teaches the value of hard work and the importance of being dedicated to whatever you decide to pursue.” – Mackey

To learn more about how you can integrate Dr. Seuss books to teaching your children about money, check out the full article here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

What has priority: retirement or children’s education?

RetirementOrCollege

Christian Community Credit Union wrote an insightful blog post on the debate, ‘Should you save for retirement or your kids’ education?’ While this might not be applicable to every couple or family just yet, it is important to note how you should handle the situation if it were to arise.

Many parents are torn between either putting money away for their retirement or for their children’s education. Not all families can put away their money into both accounts.

This is where Christian Community CU comes in and offers advice into the situation at hand.

For couples who don’t have children or at least not yet – put away as much money as you can afford into your retirement fund. Furthermore, max out your 401K contributions in order to maximize your employers contribution, get double the bang for your buck.

Once you start having children you must create a college fund and start setting money aside.

Other things to keep in mind are other avenues of college tuition assistance in the form of  grants, scholarships, loans, work study opportunities, etc.

Make sure to teach your children from an early age about the importance of saving. Encourage your children to look into less expensive schools, particularly in-state universities or community college.

Christian Community CU offers a good compromise to meet both of these two savings demands: create a Roth IRA. Roth IRAs can be used to save money to either fund your retirement or college education.

To learn more about the advantages or ways you can use a Roth IRA, please view the full blog article, here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Know how to file your taxes, the right way

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via Aero Federal Credit Union

AERO Federal Credit Union offers some ‘Do’s and Don’ts when preparing your taxes‘ before the April 15th deadline.  Not everyone can afford a professional to prepare his/her taxes. If you file your taxes yourself it’s important to make sure you are doing it the right way.  Don’t make these common tax filing mistakes!

Don’t let the government keep your money!

While most Americans look forward to receiving tax refunds from the government after filing, it actually represents a portion of your money you overpaid, interest free, to the government! It’s better to underpay throughout the year in return for a lower refund amount.

“So, when you prepare your taxes this year, don’t apply any of your refund to next year’s taxes. Instead, put that money in a dividend-bearing account at the credit union and focus on not overpaying on your taxes in the coming year.”

Don’t file an extension

Filing an extension means that you don’t have to finish filing, but are still obligated to pay any owed taxes by April 15th. “This can make it difficult to figure out what you owe, and, if you calculate it incorrectly, you could be looking at penalties from the IRS. You still have time to get your taxes filed on time.”

Pay your taxes

Imprisonment and strict financial penalties will result if you don’t file and pay any owed taxes.

Credit union members, remember to use your TurboTax discount when preparing your taxes online!

Learn more about filing your taxes, in the full blog article.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Washington & Lincoln: Financial Role Models

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via Getty Images

Today we celebrate President’s Day a holiday mostly associated with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. A day in which most Americans take time to celebrate American history. Another thing to recognize today, is how much Washington and Lincoln were notable savvy money managers.

Jacob Davidson of MONEY explains in his article, Money Lessons From the Presidents, how our early presidents saved their way to financial wealth.

George Washington: Master of Diversification

George Washington mastered the art of diversification. During the 18th century, Americans were making a profitable business to export tobacco to European buyers. Unfortunately, the bubble burst in the 1760s, leaving few, such as Jefferon, to modify their business tactic. “Washington was the first to figure out that you had to diversify,” explains Willard Sterne Randall, biographer of multiple founding fathers. “Only Washington figured out that you couldn’t rely on a single crop.”

Washington turned his attention to wheat,  he exported the highest quality overseas and sold the lowest quality of wheat domestically. In addition, when the value of land decreased Washington stopped buying new land and instead started renting out land he owned to others to make a profit. For example, he charged local fisherman to use his docks on the Chesapeake. Smart businessman!

Abraham Lincoln: Master of Saving

Lincoln grew up in severe poverty, which equipped him to acquire frugal ways for modest living. Most people might not know that before politics, Lincoln had various jobs such as: shopkeeper and postmaster.

Despite Lincoln’s financial increase as president, he was never tempted to splurge. “When he died he had several uncashed salary warrants in his desk drawer, and he saved $90,000 in four years, so he didn’t spend a lot,” Holzer says, “and that included sending a child to Harvard and Harvard Law School.”

Learn more interesting money facts about Washington and Lincoln, in the full article here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Plan a Valentine’s Money Date

money date

 

via US News Money

Kimberly Palmer from US News Money suggests couples celebrate Valentine’s Day by sitting down with one another and have a money date. Researchers suggest that by having ‘the [money] talk’ it will strengthen your relationship even more. A lot more than a box of chocolate and flowers.

“A RetailMeNot survey of 1,052 Americans released last week found that 65 percent of respondents would prefer a “low-key” dinner to, say, filet mignon at a trendy restaurant for Valentine’s Day. Women in particular say they’d rather stay home and order takeout compared to men.”

Palmers offers some conversation starters for couples:

1. Do you know each other’s credit histories?

2. Do you like having separate or joint accounts?

3. Do you share the same long-term goals?

4. Whose in charge of what?

5. Do you have any secrets?

Who knows, this could become a new Valentine’s Day tradition for you and your significant other.

To find out more what Palmer had to suggest, you may view the article here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Be honest with children about family finances

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The New York Times ran an article titled, “Your Money” written by columnist Ron Lieber about the importance of parents being honest with their children about their finances. Lieber focuses on this in his book, “The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money.”

However, Lieber makes it clear that parents should not disclose their income just the family finances. Teaching children about the value of money from an early age will help pave the way for them to make healthy financial decisions when they are adults.

Another reason parents should inform their children about the way finances works is because they will find out eventually. Now with everything on the internet, children can easily look up the value of their family home. In addition, before they go off to college most students will fill out the FAFSA which requires disclosure of a family’s income, assets, etc.

Lieber lends some ideas to introducing the value and function of money with children:

  • Find you why they want to know
  • Start with simple expenses
  • Explain why you spend your money
  • Involve them in the family budget

Click here to learn more about this CUNA News Now article.

As always your local credit union can help you get the financial conversation rolling with helpful resources.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Credit Unions aren’t exclusive

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via US News Money

Erin Lowry from US News Money sheds light on the common misconception about credit union membership — it’s not as exclusive as you might think.

“In fact, there are at least 60 credit unions anyone can join, including ones that sound exclusive to the military or government employees, like Pentagon Federal Credit Union.”

Here are some credit unions anyone can join!

  • American Heritage Federal Credit Union
    Eligibility: Join by depositing $15 into a share savings account and maintaining this minimum balance.
  • Digital Federal Credit Union
    Eligibility: To become a DCU member, you much first join one of the listed organizations that includes nonprofits like the Free Software Foundation. The organizations range in membership fees from $10 to $120. However, joining DCU results in a lifelong membership, so you could cancel a membership with the organization after joining.
  • Pentagon Federal Credit Union
    Eligibility: Just pay dues to Voices for America’s Troops for $14 a year or the National Military Family Association’s one-time $15 fee.
  • Fort Knox Federal Credit Union
    Eligibility: All consumers are eligible for membership by just paying $5 to join the American Consumer Council or the $15 membership fee.

Credit unions might first require a small membership cost to join but it will pay off in the long run when they don’t charge you fees like banks!

Credit union members have control and say in their financial institution, banks prohibit their members for input or direction.

It is important to note that credit unions are structured by the ‘people not profit’ mentality. In addition, they are non profit organizations.

To learn more about your eligibility of joining these credit union please view the full article here or visit a Smarter Choice website.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Inexpensive ways to show your love

rose

 

via Public Domain Image

Dana Dratch of Bankrate offers alternative ways you and your partner can show appreciation for one another this Valentine’s Day without going over budget.

Dratch lists out 14 loving inexpensive ways to show your love this valentine or any other day.

For a spouse or significant other:

1. Time in a bottle: Write and roll up your message in an old wine bottle lying around the house. In the letter, surprise your partner by treating them to a day of what ever they want to do!

2. Dining out: Eat in the outdoors. A picnic in the park or a meal on the beach give a more intimate feel for your meal. Maybe add a rose!

3. New adventures: Do something spontaneous! Go some where you’ve never been before!

4. Surprise, surprise: If you don’t normally cook, try to attempt to do your best. The effort will go a long way, even if the meal does not turn out the way you want it to.

5. Culture up: Do something artsy – visit your local museum, see a film, etc.

For the parents:

6. Create comforts: It’s the little things — let the parents sleep in, make them breakfast or bring them orange juice or coffee.

7. Get techy with it: Offer your help with your parents smart phones and/or tablets.

8. Child labor: Volunteer to help your parents with chores around their house.

For the kids:

9. Cooking up some love: Bake something to remember!

10. Treasure of love: Conduct a scavenger hunt in your home for the children to find their gifts.

11. Get crafty: Do some family crafting!

12. Start the day with love: Start the morning off right with a nice home made breakfast.

13. Work together: Do an activity together as a family for the day.

For any situation:

14. Be a friend: Preform an act of kindness, especially to those you know will be alone this Valentines day.

Learn more about these inexpensive ways you can express your appreciation to your loved ones, by viewing the full article here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Budget from your phone

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via FOXBusiness

Gone are the days when you would take a calculator, pencil and paper together to calculate your budget expenses. Thanks to the help of the technology top mobile budget apps do all the thinking/crunching numbers for you!

Tracy Byrnes of FOX Business along with some insider pros discusses their top app picks:

  • Mint
    To get started set everything up on your desktop, once complete you are ready to manage your finances on the go. Sharon Profis, CNET Senior Editor gives an over view of the app. “You can view all account balances in one place. Mint will also give you trend information about your spending habits, with some cool graphs, and help you set individual budgets for spending and saving, says Profis, who personally uses the app. Her favorite tool, which is only on the website, is the “Goals” tool, which will help you make a plan to pay off a credit card or save more money. “
  • Learnvest
    A free and paid version is available to download from the app. The paid version features help from a CPA that will call and work with you to customize your financial goals.
  • Mint Bills
    Can pay your bills directly.
  • Billguard
    Great integrated tool: GPA tracker. To monitor where you make your transaction. If a transaction occurs at an unfamiliar location you are notified ASAP
  • Wallaby
    Find a credit card that is reflective of the rewards point you want.

As always be very protective of your personal information. Data breaches are at an all time high right now. Make sure to use unique passwords and frequently update them.

To learn more about these apps, view the full article.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Saving on a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle

money_manifesto

 

Lance Cothern, founder of Money Manifesto offers saving advice for many of those living paycheck to paycheck.  Assuring people that even though it may seem impossible to save that last amount of money you have left until your next paycheck — it is possible!

Cothern offers his strategic ways on how saving money while living paycheck to paycheck:

  • Pay Yourself First: split your paycheck immediately into 2 parts: deposit most into your checking account and the rest in your savings account. Cothern mentions his preferred tool of using the online savings account, Capital One 360, that makes it more difficult to use your money for splurges. If you don’t have a bank account at all, Cothern suggests getting an account created at your local credit union  — that charges no fees! Good idea!
  • Sell Things Around Your House: Are you sure you want to keep that? Go around your house and decipher which items you don’t really use and resell them for (almost) your money back. Websites such as eBay or Amazon will come in handy for this.
  • Grow Your Income: In order to continue to have more money available to save every paycheck, you need to grow your income. (Cothern, Money Manifesto) Consider working more hours if you are eligible for overtime or find another job. More money never hurts!
  • Cut Back On Certain Expenses: Begin by tracking your spending. Find areas where certain expenses are excessive and you can live without.
  • Get One Paycheck Ahead: Once you have reached this financial milestone you are now ahead of the budget game. Put more money into your savings and put the current paycheck straight into your savings account.
  • Get a Month Ahead: Set your budget for next month ahead of time!
  • Build an Emergency Fund: Want to stop living paycheck to paycheck? You can do it by setting up an emergency fund. “Once you’re a month ahead, try to save anywhere from three to twelve months of living expenses in a savings account. This money will help you weather any unexpected circumstances like a job loss.” (Cothern, Money Manifesto) 

To learn more about the ‘manifesto’ ways of savings and not living paycheck to paycheck, check out the full article here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org