If you have children under the age of about 14, sitting them down to have an educational conversation about money management is about as useful as putting wet wood in the fireplace. If you have ever tried, you know that the most effective way to teach your children about money is to do so by example. You have to exercise restraint with purchases, explain how and why money works, why people work, how to use money as a tool, and about 500 other things to get even half of the information to stick.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a big time trivia nerd. I suppose that comes from my dad, who has been playing trivia with his buddies for as long as I can remember.
Because of my quest for knowledge, I am always looking for ways to educate myself, whether it’s through traditional methods like going to college and reading books or more random ways like perusing the back of a cereal box at breakfast. Formal schooling is great for conventional learning, especially if you’re looking to find a job in one of the best career fields for the future, but education programs and books (even used college text books) can get very pricey.
Your credit score is the most important factor in determining your interest rates and creditworthiness. The better your credit score, the less interest you will pay on loans and credit lines throughout your life. Having a good credit score can mean potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings on interest payments throughout your life.
The problem is, the three major credit monitoring companies who determine your score (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) arrive at that important number via an increasingly complex series of algorithms and other factors. If you can figure out exactly how the FICO score is determined, good for you. You are probably the smartest person in the world. For the rest of you, myFICO is a good resource to learn more and figure out what your credit score is.
For better or for worse, electronics have pretty much taken over our lives. If you are not staring at a computer screen, you have your face buried in your phone. If not there, you’re staring at the TV. Whether your vice is movies, video games, computers, or smart phones, gadgets are a source of distraction, if not obsession. In fact, some would say that we’re addicted to consumer electronics.
Trust me when I say that I am not a technically inclined person. I’m not one of those guys who has a talent for taking things apart and putting them back together. Some people have it naturally, and for that, I’m jealous. But I am not completely inept. And since I know I can save money with DIY projects, I’ve pushed myself to find ones that I can handle. Here are 5 DIY projects that I have successfully completed with positive results. If I can do it, I promise you can too:
1. Computer Repairs and Upgrades
I’m not going to lie. I love games. I do a crossword puzzle nearly every day. If I find myself at Pogo.com, I have to pry myself away. I think games are great for everyone.
Unfortunately, this mindset doesn’t apply to all games, specifically “money games.” Despite my love of games, there are plenty of games people play with their money that I would not dare. Some would call them “investments.” Others would call them “savings strategies.”
Though some of these are up for debate, and you may not agree with all of them, these are five games I would never play with my money:
Obtaining a college education is a highly sought-after achievement. Attending a college or university affords us the opportunity to expand our network and learn in great depth about almost any subject. While many students seek degrees for their studies, others may want to take a course just for fun or to advance their career where a degree is not necessary. In these cases, there are some great substitutes for your traditional, brick-and-mortar colleges. With the ever-expanding amount of information available online and the growing importance of a college education, a new wave of learning has arrived in the form of free web-based classes.
Teaching children how to save money every month, and why it’s important to do so, can be difficult for many parents, especially those dealing with money issues themselves. Ultimately, your children are likely to mirror your actions and habits when it comes to money management, and this could be either a good thing or your worst nightmare, depending on your financial philosophy. Teaching smart saving and spending habits to your children at an early age can drastically improve their chances of becoming financially savvy adults.
Ah, the convenience store. It seems like there is one on every other corner. Actually, when I was living in Orlando, there were three 7-11’s within a mile and a half of my apartment. These stores do serve a purpose. Unfortunately, they hustle you as well.
While I know many of you will argue that your experiences with your local convenience stores are vastly different from mine and I understand this post may be construed as an offensive piece, I still think it’s worthwhile for me to explain my distaste for convenience stores because I’m sure at least some of these points will be applicable to you. I want to give you some important things to keep this in mind the next time you feel the urge to get some beef jerky or Zima.
Sale, sale, sale! Get used to hearing and seeing this for the next two months or so. But before you get sick of it, remember that you need to take advantage of the seasonal discounts that winter time brings. Even though you should try to save on anything you buy, there are six items above all else that you should not have to pay full price for this time of year:
1. Wrapping Paper
I have always thought the idea of a swear jar was amusing. Believe it or not, it also happens to be an effective savings tool if you actually keep up with it. As you know, I’m always looking for ways to save money, and I strongly support trying to save money for the unexpected. Recently, I have adapted the “swear jar” concept to help me grow a few different funds of mine, and I’m getting much better results than I expected.