Teaching Kids about Money – A Comprehensive Guide

School teaches kids many of the skills they’ll need to be successful as adults. But one area where formal education woefully fails children is in matters of money and finance. Sadly, the educational system isn’t equipped for teaching kids about money. Therefore, it’s up to parents or other guardians to educate children on how to be responsible financially.

The good news is that the techniques that can set kids on the road to financial independence and good practices are only a few. Using these methods, you can show children the right way to think about and handle money. These lessons will be something that will help them in both the short and long terms.

boy with round eye glasses studying a booklet in bedroom

How to Teach Kids about Money

The most important thing to consider when teaching kids about money is making the lesson something that they can understand. On top of that, they should be familiar with the presented concepts. Getting overly complicated or teaching a lesson that doesn’t immediately apply to their situation is only going to confuse them.

These financial lessons need to be things that connect with them as kids, while still teaching a lesson that applies to money and finance in the adult world. The perfect type of lesson finds a way to bridge that gap as something that is relevant in both the world of a child and the world of an adult.

Most of the time, the best person to teach these lessons will be a parent or a guardian who is interacting with the child on an everyday basis face to face or even via the Internet. That’s ideal because it allows the teacher to follow up with the child frequently and confirm that the lesson is setting in.

Finally, it’s practically never too early to start teaching kids about money. While we may not want to acknowledge it all the time, money is the primary means of interaction with most of our worlds. A child should be familiar with money and comfortable with good financial practices from a young age.

The Top 5 Ways for Teaching Kids About Money

1) Save Money

golden piggy bank

This one may seem simple, but it’s tremendously important as kids are familiar with only short-term concepts. They want ice cream, and they want it now, not later.  Make sure your child sees you saving money and understands that having savings is a desirable thing. This one can be implemented at a very young age.

Especially for younger children, a great visual technique is to use a glass jar to save bills and coins. The child can actually see the money accumulate. Often times that’s a good way to imprint the idea of long term benefits in a young child.

2) State the Prices of Things

Another tip that can be used with young children is to state the prices of the things you’re buying. When you’re out shopping at a store if you’re going to buy something, tell your child what it costs. This familiarizes a young child with the concept that things cost money, and gives them a scale of what certain things cost in relation to other items.

By instilling the idea that goods and services cost money at a young age, you give your child a head start in understanding financial matters.

3) Avoid Offering an Allowance

transparent money bowl next to paper with financial situation

Avoid the idea of giving your kid a certain amount of money each week simply for existing. Instead, pay your kid explicitly for completing certain chores. Mow the lawn? $5. Vacuum the house? $7. And so on.

From a young age, your child should understand the concept that money comes from work and not as a default. While your child may complain at the time if other of their friends receive an allowance without having to do any chores, your child will be in a better position as a teenager and adult.

4) Establish a Bank Account

One of the most important things you can teach your child is how to manage money in the banking world. As an adult, he or she will have to deal with money management in more complicated ways. However, a bank account is a foundation that should come as second nature.

You can start early with a simple savings account. Show your child how to open such an account and how to deposit and withdraw. Teach him or her how to check the balance of the account and monitor the balance over time. This is going to give a solid body of knowledge in the financial domain to your child that will make money management easier in the future.

5) Help Your Kid Get a Job

office furniture with office chairs, apple computers

This one should be a no-brainer, but a surprisingly large number of teenagers avoid getting any job at all. A part-time job as a teenager is a critical way to instill good financial mindset at a young age. If a kid works, he or she gets a picture of what the world is like for most adults on a smaller level.

And having a job gives a child access to money that they earn on their own. This is a very different story than the money they get for birthdays or is given to them. Gaining the sense of what earned money is like and what they choose to do with it gives them a taste of adulthood.

To Sum It Up

These techniques and lessons will prepare children to use money responsibly and be comfortable with sound financial practices. Teaching kids about money in these ways will set them up to be successful with their finances as adults which is a tremendous advantage.

We strongly encourage you to use some of these techniques for teaching kids about money with your own offspring and let us know how it’s working out. And if you have some other lessons or tips you’ve used with your children in the past, let us know in the comments.

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How to Pay Off Your Mortgage Quicker – 8 Ways

In order to teach you how to pay off your mortgage quicker, this guide will offer eight useful tips and strategies. The basic idea behind paying a mortgage early is fairly simple: send as much extra money to be applied to the personal balance as you can.

By doing this, you will be speeding up the payment process, resulting in its earlier conclusion. Of course, this will diminish the amount of money you will have every month for extraordinary expenses. However, this sacrifice will result in being debt-free earlier. At the same time, it entails finally being the proud and official owner of a home.

Here are some effective ways in which you can pay off your mortgage sooner than you might think.

the word mortgage on a green calculator placed on a desk

1. Make Bi-Weekly Payments

If you want to know how to pay off your mortgage earlier, making bi-weekly payments is a great method to try. Because there are 13 weeks in each quarter instead of 12, and there are 52 weeks in a year instead of 48, making bi-weekly payments allows you to complete a full extra payment each year.

2. Round Up Your Payments

If you don’t have too much extra money every month, a useful tip on how to pay off your mortgage is rounding up your payments. By adding a few dollars to each payment and reaching a round number, you will slowly but surely speed up your payment process. It’s important to note that these few extra dollars should go toward the payment of your main balance.

3. Make an Extra Payment Each Year

Some mortgage lenders do not allow bi-weekly payments. If this is the case with yours, ask if you can make an extra payment each year directly. In order to ensure you will have enough to make the extra payment, it can be a good idea to save up a twelfth of a full payment each month. After 12 months of doing this, you will have an extra payment ready to be sent.

4. Get Rid of Your Private Mortgage Insurance

If you are wondering how to pay off your mortgage not only faster but also at a discount, you will be pleased to know you can cancel your private mortgage insurance. This is an added charge that lenders require from anyone who obtains a home loan with a down payment of less than 20 percent. The good news is that this insurance can be canceled as soon as a mortgage balance is paid down to 80 percent of the original property value.

5. Set a Target Payoff Date Using a Mortgage Calculator

If you want to know how to pay off your mortgage by a certain date, it’s always a very good idea to use a mortgage calculator to know exactly how much you have to add to each payment. As always, make sure those extra dollars go to paying down your principal balance.

6. Refinance

Without a doubt, one of the most popular ways to pay off a mortgage quicker is to refinance for a shorter term or at a lower interest rate (or, even better, both). However, because refinancing is expensive, you need to be sure it will work to your advantage before taking the step. In order to be sure, you need to be vigilant of interest rates falling over one percent below what you’re currently paying.

a drawing of a house with a tree next to it and a symbolic pile of cash coming out of a drawer

7. Add an Extra Amount Each Month

Even though it may be the most obvious way to pay off a mortgage quicker, adding a bit extra each month is remarkably effective. Despite how much you add, if this is done continuously and rigorously month to month, the money will accumulate, bringing you closer to your goal. Be sure to put this extra money toward paying down your principal balance.

8. Use Your Windfalls

Even though most people pay their mortgages slowly and steadily, there is no law that prohibits you from making a big payment every once in a while. If you receive a large amount of money you weren’t counting on, it would be wise to put a big part of it towards an early payment of your mortgage.

How to Pay Off Your Mortgage on Time

1: Through Savings

If you want to know how to pay off your mortgage early, it’s safe to assume that you have an income that will allow you to do begin chipping away at your debt. Besides this extra inflow of money, it’s a great idea to have some savings. Ideally, these savings should amount to three to six months of your regular living expenses.

2: Through Fixed-Rate and Adjustable-Rate Payments

There are two basic types of mortgage payments: fixed-rate and adjustable-rate. Fixed-rate payments are divided between paying the debt and its added interest. The interesting part is that, initially, most of the payment goes to the interest and a proportionally inferior part goes to the debt.

However, this situation reverses as payments are made. For that reason, it’s a good idea to pay down your principal balance as quickly as possible, resulting in less accumulated interests and a faster conclusion of the payment process.

An adjustable-rate mortgage payment works differently: because it gets recalculated with each extra payment, the loan itself stays the same. Even though this prevents the term from decreasing, each extra payment lowers the interest on the remaining mortgage balance. This, of course, results in a faster conclusion of the mortgage payment process.

Summing It Up

If you read through this guide on how to pay off your mortgage quicker, you know there are various strategies you can use to get to your goal. Hopefully, you can apply one (or various) of them in order to become debtless and free. Even if it takes some time, it will undoubtedly be a huge step forward for you and your family.

Whatever strategy you use, paying your mortgage earlier demands sacrifice and discipline. However, the reward is one of the sweetest ones there are: Being the rightful owner of a home. Do you have any tips for paying off a mortgage faster? Leave a comment!

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How to Set Up a Trust Fund for a Child – Steps & Tips

Setting up a trust fund takes enormous consideration and responsibility, but it is an extra-effort step in financial security that will ensure your child or children has what they need when they need it. Trust-fund kids are often the brunt of jokes about financial wealth, but trust funds are not necessarily for the wealthiest of the wealthy. Families from modest backgrounds can learn how to set up a trust fund for a child without a net worth in the millions. The steps and tips below will help you get started.

the words trust fund written with a thick dark blue font and color on a white background

1: Decide Where to Begin

The beginning of learning how to set up a trust fund for a child starts with choosing where you want to start. You will first need to determine how much and what kind of property goes into the trust. You can start with anything. Trust funds do not need to have tens of thousands to open. They also do not have to contain large pieces of property.

2: Select a Custodian and Trustee

While you are learning how to set up a trust fund for a child, you must select a custodian and trustee. The trustee can be you, but for the most benefits, you should choose someone who is not you. This will create an ideal trust that is irrevocable. A custodian manages the trust disbursements in the way you outline it.

a pile of 100 plenty of dollar bills close-up

3: Decide What Financial Institution to Use

When you are learning how to set up a trust fund for a child, you will need to make big decisions about the kind of financial institution you will start the trust with. This requires attention to detail and market research. Comparing the benefits of each financial institution is necessary before making a decision. Once you have opened the trust, it is difficult to switch to another bank and should be avoided.

4: Decide on the Terms

The next step of learning how to set up a trust fund for a child is to decide the terms that the trust will be released on. If it is all money, the trustee can release funds at a specific date. The funds can also be tied to specific events that are outlined by you and written into place by an attorney or someone else who has extensive knowledge about financial assets.

Choosing these terms and solidifying a plan is not something that is done quickly. People often plan trust funds for their children before the child is born or in early childhood.

a cute tiny newborn baby sleeping in a basket

5: Consider What Benefit You Want

Money placed into a trust cannot be taxed. Physical assets in a trust cannot be taxed. If you have placed the trust completely in the hands of a trustee who isn’t you, then you will receive maximum benefits, but you will need to pay the trustee in most cases to protect those assets and uphold the specifics of the terms.

6: Have a Contingency Plan

If something happens in the child’s life that bars them from accessing the funds or property at the right time, then have a contingency plan so that those funds can be appropriated elsewhere or for a different purpose.

If your terms say that twenty-thousand dollars should be released upon marriage, but your child decides not to marry, then there should be alternatives for that money. Your child should not necessarily know the specific terms that are outlined in the trust to avoid them trying to circumvent the terms surrounding the trust.

7: Ensure Protection

With appropriate legal guidance, a trust can be protected from the child’s spouse or creditors. Gifts of money or property do not have the same protections. This is one of the primary reasons to get a trust in the first place, and you should make all of the effort possible for learning how to set up a trust fund for a child that affords them protection from losing property or money to someone with bad intentions.

8: Obtain the Proper Documents No

Trust documents are safest and strongest when an attorney writes them while guided by your intentions. However, you can save money by writing your own documents using a trust-document kit that teaches you how to set up a trust fund for a child. You can take your written documents to an attorney for review and modifications.

the words college fund written on a transparent jar full of dollar bills

9: Fund the Trust Wisely

You can funnel money into a trust using long-term investments, and this is generally the soundest way to create an ample trust that continues to grow through your child’s life. Do not make all contributions to the fund long-term investments. In the event of an emergency, there should be funds available for your child’s care. This isn’t possible with long-term investments that need to reach maturity.

10: Leave Out Personal Items

Do not make a trust fund more complicated and unnecessarily bulky by adding personal items like cars, homes or other types of property. While a trust fund can contain these items, it requires more documentation about managing that property over the life of the trust.

cute yellow baby slippers placed on the ground outdoors

11: Do It Yourself When You Can

If you have knowledgeable friends or family you can hire cheaply, use their skills and services to learn how to set up a trust fund for a child. When you can use a more affordable option for managing a trust, do so. If you cannot do it well with the help of people you know, stick to the experts.

Bottom Line

A trust fund can be set up at any point in your child’s life, but starting one early is going to serve your family better and give it time to develop. Trust funds can help you financially as well, but they should not be created for the sole purpose of evading taxes.

In order to be the most trustworthy and reliable, a trust fund should be irrevocable and completely for your child regardless of whether you change your mind.

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How to Save Money on Your Electric Bill – 11 Tips

At some point, you have probably wondered how to save money on your electric bill. Saving money often means cutting back on usage, but there are plenty of ways to save without living a minimalist lifestyle. Electricity savings translate into lower bills, but they are also great for the environment. The tips below for how to save money on your electric bill are a combination of usage habits, clever tricks and up-front investments that pay off in the long run.

an electric bill with a LED bulb and a regular bulb and a pen

1: Reduce Heat, Turn Air Down

In colder months where you would typically have the heat turned up, try turning it down a few degrees. Keeping temperatures at 70 degrees instead of 72 can make a big difference in the amount of energy used to keep your home warm. In the summer, keep the air conditioning at 75 degrees to reduce cooling costs.

These numbers should be adjusted based on where you live and your local climate. If there are times during the year where you can forgo heating and cooling, utilize open windows and ceiling fans instead. These options use less power and cost less.

2: Switch to LED Bulbs

LED bulbs are better than CFL bulbs. They use pennies per year, and they can drastically reduce your energy use and costs associated. If you have wondered how to save money on your electric bill by reducing lighting costs, LED bulbs are the secret. Technology advancements have made them cheaper to purchase from mass retailers, and they are no longer a specialty bulb that costs a fortune to invest in.

a large white economic LED bulb

3: Replace Old Appliances

Old appliances are a drain on electric costs. An old refrigerator can use double or triple the power of an energy-star certified model. It will cost more money to upgrade appliances, but you will be saving money long term.

4: Unplug Everything

This tip can be tedious to keep up with, but unplugging things that are not in use can save you money. When you listen to people talk about how to save money on your electric bill, they will often cite unplugging power strips and computers when not in use.

This may seem difficult, but you would be surprised by the amount of energy that is slowly drained by lamps, computers, and appliances that are not even turned on. Connecting cables to a power-saving strip makes it easier to implement this habit. You simply unplug the power strip instead of each individual cord.

unplugged appliances and some dollar bills and coins on a table

5: Take Shorter Showers

Cutting back on your showering and morning routine can save you a bundle. Look no further than your grooming habits to learn how to save money on your electric bill. Showers have to be heated, and water heaters are often powered by electricity.

If yours is powered by gas, you will still be saving money from one of those two bills. Forgoing usage of grooming appliances like blow dryers, flat irons, and similar gadgets also conserves and saves you money. You will even shave time off of getting ready.

6: Go to Bed Earlier

It sounds silly, but turning lights off even two hours earlier will show you that learning how to save money on your electric bill can be as easy as not using it. If you are up late frequently, you are likely using things that require electricity. Turning them off and getting into bed will help you get more sleep and save money.

a tall electric power high voltage pillar in a field

7: Switch Power Companies

People wrongfully assume that you have to stick with the power company that the majority uses. Cities typically have multiple power companies, and those companies may be cheaper. If switching is an option for you, research other companies in the area to determine how to save money on your electric bill.

8: Switch to Partial Green Energy

Speaking of power companies, many now offer wind power, solar, geothermal and other alternatives to electricity. These choices can temporarily raise your electric costs, but they will tell you how to save money on your electric bill over the course of a year or two without installing your own solar panels or wind turbines.

a green light bulb surrounded by green thick arrows symbolizing green energy

9: Install Solar Panels

If you are interested in installing your own solar panels, then you will have a higher up-front cost but lower bills over the lifetime of the panels. Green-energy installations often come with tax credits or similar incentives. Power companies sometimes pay people for the energy they use with solar panels if they produce more than they need.

some solar panels installed on a house roof

10: Keep Vents Open and Clean

Open and clean vents lead to more efficient heating and cooling. It’s a simple and effortless tip that will save you a lot of money. Making sure the filters for your heating and cooling system are replaced monthly also goes a long way in saving you money. Do not listen to the myth that says to close vents off. This just makes your system work harder and use more energy.

11: Watch Your Laundry

If you aren’t already washing most loads in cold water, switch to cold water immediately. This is a quick energy saving tip, but it doesn’t stop there. Use line drying whenever possible to reducing drying costs. Use the right balance of laundry in a load to prevent the machine from working too hard or wasting a wash load on just a few items. These little tweaks to your usage go a long way.

Putting It All Together

Whether you have a 100 percent electricity-powered home, or a combination of electric and gas, you will be saving money and energy with the tips above. Drastic changes aren’t required, but if you have outdated appliances that are not efficient, you will need to spend some money upfront to reduce your overall electric bill costs.

Remember that these tips will need to be adjusted depending on where you live. Urban or rural living can make a difference in costs as well as the options available to you, but figuring out what your home requires is easy and worth the cost savings.

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