Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Starting Young: Teaching Teens to Save Money

Parents mostly complain that teenagers do not listen to them. The opposite is true when it comes to advice regarding 'money matters'. Teens actually welcome their parent’s input about their finances. 

In the past few years, teenagers have earned billions of dollars with part-time and summer jobs. Some have spent most of what they earned, while others saved most or even all of it for a big purchase, or for their college education. 

Kids these days are becoming more and more aware of their family's source of income and financial status. They apply these money-spending principles when they venture out on their own. Thus, it becomes more of a parent’s responsibility to start “training” their teenage kids to use their money wisely. 

Here are some ways on how you, as a parent, can teach your teens to save those hard-earned bucks: 

1. Lead by example. 

 With your lifestyle, the children will see how you spend your money. If they see you allotting a certain amount for a specific household need, they will eventually do the same when they get to earn their own keep. 

2. Help your teens get a bank account. 

Establishing a bank account under their name would give them an instant financial responsibility. Sit down and explain to them how to manage their own account, and the “rewards” that they get once they save enough. Their savings could go to their college tuition, or a big purchase like a car. 

 Additionally, it gives them a sense of accomplishment once they have saved up, with something concrete to show for it. You may check out the special benefits that banks offer for teens who open their accounts at such an early age. 

3. Construct a “spending plan”. 

Once they hear the word 'budget', teens tend to cringe at the mere thought of having to restrict the spending of their money. Instead, you and your teen son or daughter could build a “spending plan”. This would get them excited, and think of ways on how they can wisely spend their savings. 

 Also, have them list down their earnings versus their expenses. Let them know the difference between the items that they need and the luxury items that they want, which they can actually do without. 

 4. Make a “mock” investment in the stock market. 

Make them aware of the options that they have financially. Casually introduce to them the business part of your daily newspapers and have them make “mock” investments for companies who manufactures products that they like. Monitor the stocks together and this would give them another option of investing their money in the future.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Priorities Bring Focus to Family Budgeting

Often times, the family budget is a source of conflict.  Most of the time, the major earner makes the final financial decision, which isn’t always a welcome deal for the rest.  Since money is such an intrinsic part of family life, families need to achieve accord in this aspect. 

There is a four-step cycle in budgeting the family money to maintain peace and harmony.

1. Set your priorities.  

Priorities are different from goals.  They are aspects in your family’s life that you, as a family, want to set focus on, say health or children’s future. While goals are specific targets that support priorities.

In setting priorities, do not set too many as it defeats the purpose.  Ideally, there should only be one, but because life is not ideal, 2 to 3 are reasonable. 

As the priorities are set and agreed upon, write them down.  Post the paper where everybody can see them to remind them of what your family is focused on for the next few years.

2. List down your goals.

Once the family has set and agreed on priorities, the next step is to set the goals.  Goals are specific and measurable conditions that, when achieved, will support the priorities.  

In setting goals, establish a target that is both challenging yet achievable.  A 10-15% of the family’s income is a good savings target for a child’s future education: stretching yet reachable.

Try to limit your family into setting 1-2 goals per priority, to maintain focus.

3. Work towards your goals.

After setting your priorities and goals, start living by them.  All of the family’s activities will be geared towards working at your goals.  Track progress, particularly on financial goals, by using an income and expense-tracking tool.  The simplest way is to get a notebook and list down all expenses and incomes and set a budget for future spending.  There are those that invest in computer software or a family accountant.  Whatever it is, the important thing is to have a system of monitoring the family’s performance towards achieving their goals.

4. Evaluate your family life.

At a certain point in time, when you feel like it’s time to evaluate your life, check how your family is doing against the goals.  Goals that have been achieved can be checked off the list, and new ones can be formulated.  

At times, in major changes, say a career move, or when a family member goes away, it may be time to re-evaluate priorities. When such a time comes, then the cycle begins, just like what it’s for: life! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ten Practical Tips That Save Money

Saving money is not as hard as it seems.  Here are ten practical tips that you can do to begin saving money, without changing your lifestyle.

1. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs.  CFL bulbs consume 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs, but give the same illumination.  Make sure to buy only lamps and bulbs that have the Energy Star rating to ensure quality compliance.

2. Make a list when going to the grocery and stick to it! Anything that is not on the list is not a “need”, but merely a “want” so avoid busting your pockets for unnecessary items. Buy non-perishable consumables in bulk to benefit from bulk discounts.

3. Use coupons when available.  Take the time and have the patience to clip and organize grocery coupons.  When added together, savings from using all coupons in one grocery trip can be as much as $20-$30.  Purchase dining and shopping coupons online and print them at home.  Doing so can save you at least 50% on the face value of the coupons.

4. Buy online, whenever possible.  Online stores pass their savings from rental costs and warehousing to the online consumer, thus they can afford as much as 70% off their rack price.  When buying items online, Google it first together with the word, “discount code”.  This can give you further reductions on the item you want to purchase.  Try also online bidding:  they offer at least 75% off the original purchase price, for practically new (slightly used!) items.

5. Take lunch to work.  Buy potato chips and soda from the grocery and make a homemade sandwich and pack them in a brown bag.

6. Eat homemade dinners as often as possible.  Plan menus that are practical and easy-to-cook to encourage eating at home.  Save money by dining out only on special occasions.

7. Use everyday pantry items for skin and body care.  Cucumbers, honey, milk, lemon, salt and baking soda are some items in your home that can also be used to take care of your skin.

8. Avoid shopping to de-stress.  Try walking around the park or watching a movie instead.

9. Bring your own sodas and snacks when watching a movie. The cost of sodas and snacks are at least 25% higher in movie houses.  Plus, homemade popcorn tastes much better: you can put on all the salt and butter you want!

10. Pay off your credit card balances each month and avoid finance charges.  Better yet, use cash as much as possible, unless using plastic will give you a better deal (0% interest on appliance purchases, or cash rebates).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Patience: The Virtue That Saves

Patience is a virtue.  It takes some character to exhibit such levels of moral excellence, but did you know that by doing so, you could save money at the same time?  Read on to find out how you can economize by emanating the virtue of patience.  

Have the patience to walk instead of drive.  It saves you gas, parking and the stresses of driving.  Walking improves your health and well being while saving gas money.

Be patient: compare before you buy.  From personal clothing to health club memberships, from plumbing services to insurance plans, from car accessories to a new home; compare the offers of 3 to 5 suppliers or service providers before finally settling with one.  Let them know that you are taking the time to search the market and they may just be able to offer you the best savings.  Truly, the patient consumer is a winner!

Use coupons as much as possible.  Be patient in cutting them out and going through them before making any purchase.  Pack them together with your grocery bag or in the car so you can use the discount voucher at every opportunity.  One can save $20 - $50, just by using the coupons.  

Track your expenses.  Have the patience to keep your receipts and record all your expenses, no matter how small or frequently they occur.  By doing so, you are made aware of where every single penny goes.  Furthermore, you will know when you have spent too much on clothing, when in fact you still need to settle your credit card balance, or pay the mortgage.  You will have a better hold of your financial health, by patiently tracking your finances.

Hold-off and sleep on it!  If you are about to purchase a $100 item, hold off the purchase until you’ve given it much thought, say sleeping on it for 1-2 nights.  If after such time, you decide that you absolutely need and can afford the purchase, then go ahead.  Nevertheless, you’ll be surprised at how much you can save by just sleeping and thinking things over.  

Devote money in long-term investment.  Understand that when you take up long-term investment, you do not need the money for now, and it is not considered as part of your daily finances.  However, such money when set-aside will reap great rewards in the future.  

Exude moral excellence by patiently saving for years to come, starting today!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Money Savings on Food

Thinking of cutting down your expenses on food? Then you should read the following tips. They will surely help you on reducing your food expenses. They are by no means comprehensive but they will be very useful. 

For coffee drinkers

It is a good idea to re-use the grounded coffee once. Using coffee grounds two times or more will not greatly affect the taste of the coffee. It is highly encouraged to do this using a filter that is permanent and avoid the paper variety. Keep the grounds refrigerated until using it the following day. 

For bread lovers

Grocery stores sell bread that was made the day before at a much lower price. There is nothing wrong with eating bread that was made the day before since it still is good to eat. If you have a lot of space in your refrigerator, store a lot for bigger savings. If you will eat the bread, you can defrost it using your microwave oven. Re-heat it every 30 seconds to prevent the edges of the bread from getting too hard.    

When buying from the grocery

Before going to the grocery, you should have already made a list of all the things that you really need. Prioritize basic goods and avoid buying things that you do not really need. Observe the prices indicated on the displays. Remember, branded products cost considerably more than store brands. It is also a good idea to keep the receipt of your previous trip to the grocery and make it as a basis for your purchases on your next trip. To have higher savings, buy more of the product. You can always store it in your refrigerator or in the house to minimize your trips to the grocery store.

When eating outside

If you are going to eat in a pricey restaurant, the best time for you to go there would be during lunch. Food during lunch usually costs less and this will be to your advantage. When staying at the hotel on your trips, it is a good idea to check if they also include breakfast in your total room charge. You should also find out where the locals eat. Chances are, they will eat where the food is great and the price is even better. When going around, carry with you some snacks. A chocolate bar, chips, and cookies will go a long way while strolling around. 

Eating cheaply does not necessarily mean eating bad food. Look around and you will be suprised at the options you can choose from. Take time and consider your choices so that you will not only eat a lot but save some money also.