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Working Your Way to the Excel Big Leagues

thursday

If you’re a little behind the times, tackling your budgeting and finances through online sites, tools, and apps, might be a little intimidating.

There are some great sources out there like Quicken, You Need a Budget, Mint.com, etc., but if you aren’t ready to trust your finances with your budding computer skills, there is an alternate way to get started: Microsoft Excel.

The Beauty of the Basics

If you think it’s time to move from paper to electronic budgeting, Excel could be a great transitional tool for you. If you aren’t familiar with Excel, it is Microsoft’s spreadsheet program. It is perfect for budgeting, because it can be used to do math, formulas, tables, charts, and graphs, all tailored to your personal needs and preferences.
The great thing about excel is that it is a step up from paper to electric, but is still very simple, clean, and clear. It’s almost like having your old paper checkbook, except it does the math for you.

But perhaps most importantly, you won’t risk messing up real money like you might on an online program if you make a mistake. There is no button you can push that will wipe out your funds, sign you up for unwanted services, or enable hackers to access your accounts.

*But remember – most online programs are very safe. You won’t risk the aforementioned tragedies using trusted online software and services. But if you are worried regardless, Excel is a great electronic stepping stone for you.

Using Excel

Although with a little tinkering around you can figure out how to use Excel’s basic functions without help, there’s no harm in asking a more tech-savvy friend or relative to set up some nice budgeting tools for you.

In Excel, there are endless possibilities to the styles and methods you can choose to use for your budgeting and finances. For example, you can create weekly or monthly tables, basically identical to your checkbook. Add a mathematical formula to the table, and it will do the math for you.

You can set up different tables or tabs (like pages) devoted to certain accounts, categories of spending, specific credit cards, and so on. You can even link information from each table to one consolidated place to track your overall financial situation.

If you are an Excel beginner, you may need some help setting up these tables and functions. But if you do know your way around Excel, don’t be afraid to experiment around with different systems of budgeting and work out a unique system that works for you!

Additional Perks

Even beyond convenience and clarity, using Excel for your budgeting/finances comes with some extra perks:

  • It’s free
  • It’s a great way to keep reliable financial records
  • Some banks allow you to download financial statements directly to Excel
  • It’s customizable to your personal preferences/style/use

Stepping Stone

If you try Excel and enjoy that style of budgeting, great! But if you’d like an even easier or more sophisticated and direct style of banking, Excel will act as an excellent stepping stone to online programs.
Still stuck on paper? Take the first step to electronic budgeting with your very own Excel spreadsheet!

Before You Use the Mint App

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News about the Mint app has been buzzing for quite some time now, and though it is an extremely popular finance app, there are still plenty of people who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet. This scoop into the inner workings of the Mint app should help you make a smart decision to ensure that your finances are in qualified hands.

What Is It?

The first thing you need to know is, of course, what Mint even is. Is it an app that locates the nearest mint chocolate chip ice cream? Not so much.

In fact, Mint is an app that brings all of your financial accounts into one place—this makes it easy for you to track your income and spending, even if you are working from several banks and other financial institutions.
The most exciting part? It’s completely free. You can simply download it from your device’s app store, or access your account online and then you’ll have access to your finances on the go at no cost.

It will even allow you to create a budget, track your spending, and set and meet goals. Not Bad, huh?

Setting Financial Goals

One of the best features of Mint is the goal setting potential. With Mint, you can look at all of your finances and set long and short term goals. And because all of your finances can be viewed in one app, you don’t have to go through all the hassle of checking each of your bank accounts individually.

With Mint you can track your progress as often as you would like, and receive monthly emails that let you know how you are doing. If that’s not enough, it will also give you advice on how to reach your goals more quickly. In conjunction with a financial adviser, Mint can truly help you change your financial situation.

As you start meeting your goals, you will begin to feel the benefits and gain the confidence to set and meet even more killer goals.

Will Your Financial Information Stay Secure?

At this point you may be getting excited, and perhaps you are also wondering if it is too good to be true. Not to worry, your funds and financial information are secure with Mint. They use the same level of security as banks, so your information is completely protected.

And, in fact, Mint is a tool specifically for viewing financial information, it doesn’t allow access to your funds. That means if someone stumble upon your open Mint app, they won’t be able to touch your assets.

In addition, Mint gives you extra security by informing you of unusual charges or changes in your finances, so you can stay on top of your finances at a glance. Now, that’s security.

Taking Action

Alright, so now you know the details and it’s time to take action. Make viewing your finances as simple and effective as possible and consider downloading Mint today. With the help of this app and other financial resources, you can see a huge improvement, so take action today!

The Secret to Good Credit, Be a Responsible Consumer

If you are trying to figure out how you are going to fix your credit score yourself, don’t get too worried, it is possible. You can easily fix your credit score yourself if you understand the importance of the different contributing factors to your credit score.

The best way to fix your credit score yourself is to stay out of credit problems. By keeping your credit score high in the first place, you can be sure that you do not have to scramble and struggle to get your credit score back to a healthy number.

Plan Ahead on Purchases

First, you should be sure that you know how you are going to pay your bills on time. When you take on a new expense, you
should make sure that you have adequate funds to cover the expense and you should understand exactly how you are going to make your payments. Creating a payment schedule and doing what you can to make your payments automatic is a great way to ensure that you are going to make your payments on time and make them in full.

Any time that you are going to take on a new expense, you should sit down and figure out if you can afford it or not. Getting into this habit early is a great way to ensure that you are able to stay in control of your finances throughout the rest of your life. Creating a budget that you know you are going to be able to stick to is an awesome tool to make sure that you are always living within your means.

Don’t Miss Loan Payments

When you miss payments, it reflects heavily on your credit score. If your credit score takes hits on a regular basis from late payments then it will make it harder for you to get short term loans and long term loans in the future. Make sure that you stay current with all of your bills. If you have not been current in the past, it is important that you get current as soon as possible. By getting current, you can be sure that you are not going to have late payments that will drag your credit score down.

If you have a credit card, you should be sure that you understand how you are going to use your credit card wisely. Your credit card can be a great tool to establish a quality credit score but you have to make sure that you are using your credit card wisely. It is important that you take the time that you need to pay off any debt that you have on your credit cards and keep your balance on your credit cards as low as possible.

By keeping your balance on your credit cards low, you can be sure that you are able to demonstrate your responsible spending habits. Creditor companies like to see that you do not max out your credit card on a consistent basis. If you do use all of the credit line on your card, it is important that you understand how you are going to pay it off quickly. Pay off your credit line quickly and you can be sure that your high balance is not going to negatively affect your credit score.

Applying For Credit, Can Hurt Your Credit!

Applying for a variety of new credit accounts in a short amount of time can hurt your credit score. You should do what you can to slowly build your credit and let time work in your favor as you are working on building your credit score.

Checking your own credit report is encouraged and will not negatively affect your score. Some people get afraid to request their score but checking your score is a great way to ensure that you are going to be able to track your progress and do what you need to do to get your credit score where it needs to be. Checking your score on a consistent basis and tracking your progress may give you the encouragement that you need to keep working.

Stick With It

Finally, make sure you stick with the good habits that you establish. Throughout the time that you are working on improving or repairing your credit score you should understand that the habits that you are forming will be beneficial to maintain throughout the rest of your life. Just because your credit score improves you should not forget the new habits that you have formed.

Develop a process by which you know you will be able to keep your credit score high. Take the time that you need to find a system that works with you and then do what it takes to make sure that the system is going to work for you for many years to come.

Staying Within Your Budget Successfully

When you know that you are going to be strapped down with a tight budget, it is important that you are focused on creating a budget that is actually going to work for you. Having a budget that does not accomplish your financial goals is pointless but if you are not wise about giving yourself some wiggle room in the budget it can get extremely frustrating.

While you are working on your budget, it is important that you understand where you can cut costs somewhat painlessly. When you find ways to minimize the money you are spending and you do not really notice that you are no longer spending that money, you may save a lot of money when all is said and done.

You Have to Start Somewhere

Start by figuring out where all of your money is going. Although this may sound silly, it is important that you understand where your money is going on a daily basis. Keep a record of all of all of the money that you spend to ensure that you know exactly what you are spending your money on. Keep an accurate record of what you are spending for a short period of time and then use that record to go back through and assess your spending.

Needs vs. Wants

When you are assessing your spending, you should be sure that you can take the time to figure out what is necessary and what is not necessary. Depending on your financial goal, you may find that you have a lot of money left over after the essentials or you may find that you do not have a lot of spare money. Regardless of what you find after watching your spending, you will want to look through your records and see where you can save money.

There are many different ways that you can choose to save money when you are living on a strict budget. Don’t be afraid to make some drastic changes in your lifestyle to ensure that you are able to meet the goals that you have set for your budget. You may want to start by assessing where you spend your money for food and drinks.

When you are spending money on food and drinks outside of the grocery store, you may find that you are spending a lot of extra money. Grocery shopping rather than eating out on a consistent basis will end up saving you money in the long run. When you do your grocery shopping, you should be sure that you are looking for sales and good deals. You may even want to look into a local farmers market option. When you shop at a farmer’s market you can be sure that you are getting fresh produce and often it is much less expensive than shopping at the grocery store.

Take the time that you need to find the grocery store that will provide you with the best option. You should also understand how important it is to minimize the money that you are spending on snacks. When you are out and about, you should be well aware that small charges charged on a consistent basis will start to add up quickly. Pack your own snacks or take time to purchase your drinks in bulk and bring them from home.

Plan Ahead

If you know that you are going to need to make a big purchase in the future, it is important that you take the time that you need to look through your options and secure something that fits within your budget. There are a lot of people that end up spending too much money because they do not take enough time to do research.

When you do your own research, you may be able to find a better deal on a large purchase. Don’t be afraid to take the time that you need to ensure that you are getting the best deal for your money. With the internet, you can be sure that you are able to do a lot of research without even leaving your home.

Being on a tight budget can feel restrictive. As you create your budget and stick to your plan, you may find that you have a lot more financial freedom than you did in the past. You will be able to pay off debt in a timely manner and use your money for the things that you know you are going to need.

Personalizing a Budget to Save in College

According to a recent report by Money Talks News, half of young adults these days say they don’t consciously save money. The survey was conducted by Wells Fargo to 1,400 adults between the ages of 22 and 32. Just over half of them reported that they don’t save money, saying they plan on doing so when they hit about thirty. Considering that many of these young adults are currently overwhelmed in student loans, this poses some scary prospects for the future.

Wells Fargo’s study uncovered that just over four in ten of these young adults would describe their debt was “overwhelming.” With the price of college these days, how can anyone get an education and not feel overwhelmed at the end of the day?

There Are Two Real Options

With thousands of dollars of debt hanging over a graduate’s head they have two options. First, they can go back to school to get a higher degree (stacking tens of thousands of extra dollars on their mountain of undergraduate loans). Or, they can head out into the workplace and have to start the decade long process of paying off student loan debt within six to twelve months of graduation. The choice is theirs. Get into more debt or start removing the mountain of money a shovel-full at a time.

Wouldn’t it be nice to start saving money for that fateful day as soon as possible? Especially considering the uncertainty of finding a job right out of college? What if an emergency creeps up and you need $1,000 extra dollars to see you through? Considering that just over half of young adults aren’t even saving money to begin with, many seem to be banking on prayers and luck to see them through those rough times.

That can get incredibly stressful though. A savings account (no matter how small), could help reduce that stress though. The following are a few tips to help you readjust your budget to save, even when you are suffering under an increasingly heavy burden of financial debt.

Get Your Spending Under Control

First, filter down and control your unnecessary expenses. Unnecessary expenses include that new shirt you had to buy because it was cute, eating out all the time, an incredibly expensive data plan, etc. These are the luxuries that you like to live with, but really could survive without. Many students spend a lot of money on unnecessary things without ever holding themselves accountable for it. Just as long as money is in their account, they don’t want to think about it.

That’s a dangerous line of thought. Many a savings account has been robbed to the sporadic late night adventure on the town.
That’s not to say that all unnecessary expenses are bad. In fact you should definitely set aside money in your budget for those midnight parties, movies, or shirts. The key is limiting yourself to a set budget that leaves room to save money. Cut yourself down to just one movie in the theater a month, or eating out with a maximum budget of $8 once a week. Set a numerical limit of how much discretionary money you have and stick to that total every month. It may not be as “fun” of a way to live your life, but you’ll learn lifesaving lessons about finances and self-control.

Set Aside Money

Second, just as you set aside a certain amount of money for discretionary use every month, set aside a set amount from your paycheck for savings that week too. Even if all you can afford to put in is $20, set that as a goal and make it one of the first things you do with your paycheck.

This is easiest to accomplish when you set a high goal for yourself. Say that at the end of your college career you want to have $5,000 saved in your account to get you through the first year or so of life after college. Find out how many months remain until graduation and determine how much you would have to save each month to make that goal a reality. Then see if that monthly amount is plausible with what you’re currently making. Can you readjust some of your expenses to make it possible? Is there a side job you could do each week that would make up the difference? If so, jump on these opportunities and make your saving’s goal a priority.

You’ll see blessings all along the way to help you make ends meet. Not only that, but you’ll get in the habit of saving for things bigger than yourself, like that burden of student loan debt building up behind you.

Ways to Keep Track of Your Spending

In our modern economy, many people have complained that they have had trouble finding a job. Indeed, jobs are scarce which means that money is scarce.

Many people have had to make due with living on a much smaller budget than they are used to. Doing this can cause much financial stress within a family.

Financial stress is not pleasant to go through. Nobody wants to be labeled as poor or to live in poverty.

However, sometimes this is just what happens to people. It is truly unfortunate what it does happen.

It’s Now How Much You Make…

What many people don’t realize is that they do not need to make lots and lots of money to have the things that they need. They can rearrange and reorganize the money they are currently making so that they can make ends meet.

Many people do not know how to make a budget, and this is one of the main causes of their financial stress. Here are a few tips on how you can better manage your money.

Try the Envelope Method

One of the things you can do is to create an envelope system that will aid you with your budgeting. You will need to gather several envelopes and label them with the categories of your budget.
For example, one envelope could read “Food.” Another envelope could include “Rent”, and so on.
Continue to label the envelopes according to the categories that are relevant to your life. You may be wondering what you are going to do with these envelopes.

What you do is withdraw the cash amount from your bank account that feel will cover your needs in each specific area for a month. The point of this strategy is that you can only use the money in the envelope that you have allotted for each category.

Once you run out of cash for a specific category, you cannot spend any more money in that category. This strategy helps you see how much money you need for each category; it also teaches you discipline because you cannot buy every single thing that you want to buy.

Only Buy What You Need

This strategy additionally helps you to see how important it is to buy the necessities and essentials first before you spend your money on extra things that aren’t as essential. Many Americans have the problem of buying things that they don’t need.

This is a problem because they oftentimes buy things they don’t need instead of buying the things that they do need. One of the reasons why so many people struggle with this is because while they’re considering if they need to buy something or not, they convince themselves that the item is something that they need instead of something that they just want.

People oftentimes have a hard time distinguishing between wants and needs, and they don’t realize until later that the thing that they bought may not really have been a need. It is important to not get too angry with yourself if you buy a lot of things you don’t need, however.

Learning to distinguish between wants and needs come with time, experience, and practice, just like everything else. Be gentle and kind with yourself while shopping and you will learn eventually.

Another great way to discipline yourself financially is to match whatever you spend on nonessential indulgences and put that in your savings account. For example, if you spend $50 on a new shirt, make sure that you can put $50 into your savings account.

If you don’t want to do this, than you shouldn’t buy the $50 shirt. This method does not work for everyone, but for some people it is just what they need to discipline themselves while in a store.

How Much is Too Much

Another great way to establish a savings discipline is to take the amount an item costs and to divide it into your hourly wage. For example, if you want to buy a $50 shirt and you make $10 an hour, that would mean that you would work for 5 hours to be able to buy that shirt.
The question you should ask yourself is if that shirt is worth five long hours of work. If it is, then go ahead and buy it.

If it’s not, then you would probably be better off spending that money on something else. As mentioned above, it is your money and you get the final say as to what happens to it.

Just make sure that you are wise with your money, otherwise you will see it disappear very quickly.

How to Budget As a Single Parent

If you ask several of your friend’s what their greatest joy in life is, their answer could very likely be their children. When people decide to have children, their lives are changed forever.

Most people picture themselves getting married eventually and settling down to have children. What people don’t anticipate is separation or divorce.

Sometimes separation or divorce is inevitable. In these cases, it can be difficult to decide who should have custody of which children.

Because of divorce, many parents are forced into being single parents. While this is difficult, most parents are happy about and willing to take care of and raise their children even if they must do it on their own.
Many people know that raising children on their own is harder than raising them with two people, yet they still buckle down and do the best they can because they love their children. Being a single parent obviously has many challenges.

One of the biggest challenges of being a single parent can be learning how to budget. You now must support your family with only one income coming into the home.

While it may seem impossible, nearly 13 million American parents do it every day. They learn what they need to do to budget, and they make it work.

What do single parents need to do to budget? Here are a few tips on how they can get started.

First, Assess Your Finances

The first thing you should do is take a look at the status of your current finances. It’s unfortunate but divorce is not cheap, especially if it took a long time to reach an agreement. Once the divorce is final you’ll most likely be left with a considerable amount of legal debt as well as typically couples are expected to split any liabilities such as the mortgage, car payments and any other long term or even short term loan liabilities from installment loans, cash advances etc…

Next, Adjust Your Budget

Once current liabilities have been assessed every single parent should sit down and re-adjust their budget. They need to look at their fixed costs, variable costs, and one-time annual costs, and try to compare these costs with how much money they think they will make within the year.

Some examples of fixed costs are bills that arrive at your door every month. Monthly costs could include bills for TV, cable, internet, insurance, and utilities.

Although no one really likes to pay these kinds of bills, they are necessary to pay if you want to have a permanent residence. These are costs that you usually cannot cut out of your budget.

Then you have your variable costs. Variable costs are costs that are not as fixed as a monthly bill.

Check Your Variable and One-Time Annual Costs

Variable costs vary between people and families, but they could include clothing, groceries, money spent on eating out, traveling, vacations, etc. Families will spend different amounts of money on different things, so your family’s specific budget will be customized to your family.

One-time annual costs can include but are not limited to real-estate taxes, income tax, Christmas presents, registration renewals, and other payments that are made once a year. When one parent is newly single, usually they start looking for ways that they can trim down the amount of money they spend each month and each year.

In general, the area that you’re probably going to be able to cut back on the most is the variable cost category. As discussed earlier, fixed costs are usually costs that cannot be eliminated from your budget.
You may be able to pay less on your fixed costs, but you will most likely not be able to get rid of any of them. Variable costs are where you are going to be able to do the most trimming.

If you were able to spend a lot of money on clothing before you separated from your partner, you may not be able to spend as much money on clothing if you are now a single parent. Additionally, as a new single parent, you may have to pay for things that you are not used to paying for.

These things are most likely going to be related to your children and the care of your children, like daycare, childcare, transportation for your children, or education. Another issue that single parents must face is that they may simply just not make enough money to be able to support their family anymore.

Many single parents face a difficult decision when they reach this point. It can be difficult to just quit their current job and try to find a new job in this economy.

Because of this, many parents decide to go back to school and get a higher degree so that they can secure a higher paying job. Before a single parent makes this decision, they should carefully consider what they really want to do.

Going back to school could cause much financial strain on the family. Single parents should make decisions about their financial situation with the best interests of their children in mind.

Learning to Budget Your Money Well

When you are learning how to budget your money, it can be frustrating to understand how much money should be allocated to specific costs. There are a lot of people that cannot successfully make a budget because they do not understand what is realistic or how they can be sure that they are going to be able to stay within the budget that they set. As you set up your budget, you may want to stick with the 50-20-30 rule. This budget can work with a variety of individuals and ensure that you are spending the money that you need to survive without spending too much money.

First, Cover The Essentials.

First, you will want to start with the fifty percent. No more than fifty percent of what you make should be going to your essential costs. These costs are the costs that are going to be required to ensure that you are able to live. The cost of your shelter, heat, food, etc. is classified as your essentials. You should be sure that you divide your essentials into only four main categories. These categories will be housing, transportation, utilities and groceries. If only half of the money that you are earning is going to your essentials, you can be sure that you are able to save some money and enjoy some of your money.

Second, Cover Financial Priorities

The twenty percent of your money should be going to your financial priorities. This means that you want to make sure that you are making your debt payments such as credit card payments, short term loans or making investments with this money. Some people like to take this money and contribute it to their savings account or even to their retirement accounts. You will want to find your financial priorities to ensure that you are able to create a sound financial base for yourself.

Third, Allow For Lifestyle Expenses

The thirty percent of this rule is dedicated to your lifestyle choices. You want to make sure that this money is able to go to the personal expenses and fun choices. Some of these may be bills that you choose to incur, such as your cable or even internet and phone plans. You want to make sure that you take into account all of the monthly bills that are not necessary that will fall into this category. It can be difficult to realize how much money you are spending that is not exactly necessary to be able to live.

Once you have outlined your 50-20-30 rule, you will want to start keeping track of the money that you are spending. There are a lot of people that struggle keeping a budget simply because they do not do a good job at keeping records of the financial choices that they are making. You should be sure that you are keeping track of all of the financial decisions that you make. This way, you can be sure that you know where and when you are exceeding your budget. Once you know this information, it can be easier to make the necessary cuts to ensure that you are going to stay within your budget.

As you get used to your budget, you can be sure that you are flexible with your numbers. You want to make sure that you essential costs are no more than fifty percent of your budget. If you choose to keep this cost lower than fifty percent, you can take the extra money from this area of your budget and contribute it to different parts of your budget. You don’t want to be afraid to tweak your budget as you are learning how to live by it.

When you find a good breakdown for your money, you can be sure that you are paying all of your essential bills while still being able to save money for later. Sticking to a budget can be difficult at first, but you don’t want to get discouraged. If you do not quite stick within the budget, figure out what changes you can make and make sure that you effectively make those changes. Once you have made those changes, you can continue to make small tweaks in your spending to stay within your budget. Just because you exceed your budget one week or one month does not mean that you can’t get back on the horse and start focusing your energies on staying within the budget for the next round.

Budgeting is a great way to ensure that you have financial freedom. Don’t be afraid to set yourself a budget and then train yourself to stick within the budget throughout the time that you are working on saving your money and being wise about your financial situation.

How to Teach Your Children How to Budget

Parents have an incredible amount of influence on their children. From what clothes they wear to what foods they eat to what religion they choose, children generally follow the example that their parents set for them.

When it comes to budgeting, there are quite a few wrong ways to do it. Many parents are flippant about money in front of their children, and that sends a certain message to the youngsters.

Many other parents simply do not address the issue of money and managing money to their children at all, just hoping that their kids will “catch on” and figure it out for themselves. It would seem obvious that this is not a great idea.

Teach Your Kids How to Budget Early On

Neglecting to sit down with your children and talk to them about money and budgeting would be a serious mistake. If you don’t teach your kids about budgeting, who knows what financial mistakes they could make in the future?

Teaching your children now will help to prevent them from making the kind of financial mistakes that are very hard to undo later on down the road. Kids need a gentle but firm example of how to approach and manage money from loving and kind parents who want to help, teach, and guide them.

One of the most important things parents can do is to teach by example. Parents cannot expect children to live by certain financial principles if the parents aren’t willing to abide by these principles themselves. If a child sees their parent using their credit cards, second mortgage or a cash advance irresponsibly then they will be more likely to make the same mistakes when they grow up. While each of these can be great financial tools when used correctly, it takes the proper discipline to ensure that they’re paid off in a timely manner.

Begin With a Budget Sheet

Begin by showing your children your budget sheet, and how it all works. Show them what each column means and what expenses go under which column.

During your teaching moments with your children about money, be sure to be calm and patient with them at all times. No matter what age your children are at, it is important that they know that they are able to learn in a safe and inviting environment.

Make sure that they are not afraid to ask questions, or of looking dumb by asking a question. Make sure they know that asking questions is good and is a way to learn, and by no means mean that they are inferior.

Make Budgeting a Family Activity

It can also be a fun family activity to take a trip to the bank and talk about what happens there. It is up to your discretion as a parent as to how much information or how much detail you want to go into at the bank, but it could be a fun and exciting learning experience for your children.

Whatever you might be doing at the bank, like cashing a check or putting money into your savings account, make sure you talk to your children in specifics about what it is you’re doing. This will help them feel included and like they’re more a part of what is going on.

Banks often have balloons and candy for youngsters who are in the bank for their parents, so these types of things can help your children feel comfortable inside the bank and associate it with positive emotions.

Teach The Basics, Like How to Buy Groceries

One of your next stops after the bank can be the grocery store. Show your kids your grocery list and explain to them that you always bring a list to the store with the items that you need; otherwise it is likely that you will buy more than you intended and stray outside your designated budget for food that month.

Have your kids participate in going around each aisle and selecting the items that are on the list. Explain to them that there are different brands of each item and that certain prices are better than others.

Have them look at the unit prices on the tags under each item and teach them that that is where you can see how much you’re paying for a certain amount of an item. Explain to them that you want to get the most product for the cheapest price.
Bring a calculator to the grocery store and have your kids add up each item that they put in the cart. This can help them visualize and understand the concept of staying within a certain budget.

If they’re adding up the items in the cart and the total goes over the amount that you had set aside for groceries, explain to them that sometimes you have to make sacrifices if you can’t afford everything you wanted. Help them put certain things back on the shelf that aren’t absolutely essential.

A helpful learning activity that can go along with grocery shopping is helping your children look for coupons in newspapers and magazines before you shop. Explain to them that not all coupons are useful; only if you were going to buy that item already before you saw the coupon will the deal save you money.

Teaching your children how to budget and to interact with money in a healthy way is one of the greatest gifts you can give to them as a parent. They will have much more success with their finances in the future because of your diligent efforts to help them in this area.

Money Management Tips for College Freshmen

As high schools across the country prepare for and hold their graduation ceremonies, the graduating students are now looking forward to the college years. These outgoing seniors from high school and incoming freshmen in college will be put in an independent situation for the first time in their lives.

But while such independence is often exhilarating for the young adults, mature adults understand that with independence comes responsibility, namely financial responsibility. Financial responsibility entails a host of different items, but mostly it can be summated into being wise with expenditures, careful with savings, and handling money with care.

Start With Managing Your Money

The first thing that a newly independent freshman college student can do to become financially responsible and to begin to learn how to manage their money well is to understand the aid that online money management tools can give. Most banking institutions can provide a form of online banking and money management tools so speaking with one’s bank may be the best place to start learning the online tools available.

Online money management tools are effective for many different reasons. One of their primary functions is to assist in the creation and adherence to a budget.

Budgeting has long since been the foundation of proper money management and the backbone to financial success. Without a budget, college freshman especially are vulnerable to over spending and wasted resources.
Creating a budget for the first year of school is a relatively simple task. A college freshman can begin by examining all of the necessary expenses that they will be facing for their first semester at school.

Typically these expenses will include such things as rent, meal plans, textbooks, and transportation costs. After list all of the known expenses that will be incurred over the course of the semester, a college freshman can total that cost compared to what they will be earning every month from their jobs.

Once the necessary costs of food and shelter are accounted for, the remaining money from income can be distributed among other items in the budget such as for savings and entertainment. Beyond helping a college freshman to create a stick to their budget, online money management tools serve to help the student in all forms of financial responsibility.

Set Up Your Online Budgeting Tools The Right Way

With the online tools available, a student can set alarms for bill pay or set up an automatic bill pay service for the regular costs of things such as rent or utilities. In addition, an online money management tool offered by a bank or independent third party will help to assist the student see their total money map, or where their money is being spent, and thus allow them to make changes to their expenditures where necessary.

Along with the aid of an online money management tool, an incoming freshman student can help themselves to regulate their spending and learn quality money habits by using prepaid debit cards or debit cards from their traditional checking or savings accounts. Prepaid debit cards are especially handy for a freshman student because of the fact that prepaid cards eliminate the likelihood of incurring credit card debt.

Consider Using a Prepaid Credit Card

While still maintaining the effectiveness, usefulness, and convenience of a credit card, a prepaid debit card does not allow for an inexperienced young freshman to make big time financial mistakes while using their card. This is made possible by the fact that a prepaid card is a card that has a set amount of prepaid money allotted to the card.

In this way, a prepaid card only allows the card holder, in this case a financially novice freshman, to spend the amount that is on the card and therefore prohibits incurring debt. Prepaid debit cards teach a college freshman how to responsibly handle money by not giving them the temptation of false or fake money that credit cards allude to.

Instead, with a prepaid debit card, a college freshman will be able to regulate their own spending by understanding that there is a set limit to the financial backing on the card. Prepaid debt cards do usually come with a high startup fee initially, however, so those who are considering using one for their freshmen year should shop around for the best deal on a prepaid debit card.

Or, if they choose, an incoming college freshman may wish to use their debit card that their bank gives to them upon the setup of a checking account. Often checking accounts at banks can be set up for little or no cost with a specified minimum to begin the account.

By using money management tools online and using prepaid debit cards or debit cards from their bank a college freshman will be able to learn sound money management techniques. And by learning how to manage their money early during their first year of independence, freshmen will be able to set good financial habits that will aid them throughout their lives.

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