Thursday, January 3, 2019

Thrifty Thinking: Money Resolutions to Make with Kids in January

Start the new year off right during Financial Wellness Month

Each year millions of people around the world create New Year Resolutions in hopes of improving their lives. Some of the most popular resolutions are usually related to being physically and mentally healthy, like losing weight, stopping smoking or taking up meditation. Other people plan to be more financially responsible by saving more and spend less. This is a great sentiment, but not a very good resolution because it isn’t specific and doesn't even come close to addressing the financial challenges Americans face each year.

According to Financial Literacy Around the World, a Standard and Poor’s Rating Services Survey, the U.S. ranks 14th in financial literacy. It is not very surprising that other countries are doing it better when you consider other statistics about U.S. financial habits. Nearly 60 percent of investors ages 18 to 34 say they already have taken money from their retirement account, according to research from E-Trade Financial. 77% of adults live in states that score a D or F grade in personal finance comprehension, based on data from The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College. And, over half of states don’t require kids to take a personal finance course in school.

Instead of adults just making resolutions to improve their financial choices, Gregg Murset, CEO of BusyKid, recommends getting the entire family involved in 2019. Not only can family members help keep each other on track, making financial resolutions together creates an opportunity for parents to instill good habits and teach their kids about money management. Some recommended resolutions include:  

Skip Paper for Plastic – A recent survey of 1000 consumers showed that 88% used a debit or credit card when making most purchases. Sometimes though, cash is just less convenient and it can be harder to keep track of where you are spending your money. If you’re using plastic, choose your debit card as much as possible. Since it’s “real time spending”, you’ll be able to manage your money better, as well as, not be surprised by a growing credit card payment each month.

Invest Something … Anything - According to Gallup in 2016 only 52 percent of U.S. adults owned stock, including individual stock, a stock mutual fund or a self-directed 401(k) or IRA. You don’t have to be incredibly wealthy to be an investor. There are even programs that allow you to invest by rounding up purchases off debit cards. Start small and do some research on what’s best for your situation. It’s also important to get your kids involved in investing as well so they aren’t afraid. BusyKid allows kids to use their allowance to buy real shares of stock. 

DIY More – Americans spend an average of $2,000 a year for someone to handle a project that might be handled by another workforce – your kids. Whether it’s basic landscaping, shoveling snow, cleaning the house or skimming the pool, paying someone else to do these projects add up quick. It could be better to put the “home team” on the projects to keep costs down, build work ethic in your kids and allow them to earn some money to manage.

Give Time – While charity organizations certainly appreciate financial donations, your time is also valuable. If you cannot afford to donate money to a local charity, volunteer instead. Recruit friends and family to volunteer with you to make the experience a shared reward. Look to volunteer off-season or at places that don’t receive much attention.  Everyone wants to serve meals at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but you can do the same any of the other 363 days of the year. 

Set Real Goals – When you are just saving to save it can be hard to stay motivated. Choose a big personal goal or an experience for your family that you want to accomplish this year. Write it down, print out photos that represent it and hang a sign somewhere you will regularly see it. Making your goal tangible can help you stay on track and motivate you to say no to going to the movies, buying new shoes that you do not need or other small, dispensable purchases. 

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