The Financial Life Skills Blog for Families by Nancy Phillips

Top 3 Financial Life Tips for College Students

Posted by Nancy Phillips on Thu, Jun 25, 2015

 

400_pxls_NP_0503_goldcrop_march_2011The folks over at Credit Card Insider asked me to write a blog with 3 tips for College students, along with at least one personal financial disaster. Credit Card Insider teaches students about student credit cards and how to manage their finances.

This list of three tips isn't your typical "earn, budget, save" list. This one is much more personal, emotional and "human," I wrote it from the heart for students.  Managing money is emotional, and we need to have some basic understanding of how our mind, and literally our physiology, affects the way we think about and handle money.

Extensive research has shown our basic money beliefs and underlying habits are formed by the age of seven, so developing good decision making skills and ultimately long-term financial success is something we definitely need to learn about and practice.



1. Clarity – Decide What You Want

Be clear what you want and set a goal you’re passionate about – this will help motivate you to make good decisions with your money and prevent you from blowing it on things you’ll throw out or give away next year.  You can’t hit your goal if you don’t have one. This is the most important first step towards being successful in any area of life. A great question to ask yourself when making a decision is, “what will my life be like in five years if I chose this?” This question comes in handy for many different areas of our lives!

When a financial goal is big it may appear unattainable, and thus it could seem justifiable to buy “little” things, thinking you’ll never be able to afford that “big” thing anyway. In fact, that’s just the mindset that will prevent you from ever affording it. Just think, $5.00 a day adds up to $1,825.00 in a year. It’s important to understand that your desire and goal must be compatible with your beliefs in your ability to attain it. Why? Because your subconscious mind is about one million times more powerful than your conscious mind. No matter what your financial situation is now, you absolutely can be financially successful in the future, there are plenty of examples of rags to riches stories to prove it. The results are all about habits, and what you do with your money day in and day out week after week defines your outcome. Step by step you can get where you want to go, believe it and you will be able to do it. Set your clearly defined goal, a timeline for it, and take the first step to get your momentum going.

2. Set Up a Process for Simple Success 

One habit that will really help you get where you want to go is to divide up your income – don’t put it all in one bank account, it’s too easy to spend.

GISS_bank_Tasha

The four main purposes high net worth individuals divide their income  into are: giving, investing, saving and spending, I call it the “GISS Method” for short. There are many benefits to separating your income into the GISS categories including:

 * it prevents overspending

 * it allows you to build your savings for your big goals

 * you can build your investment bucket bit by bit so you have money to live on when you’re older

 * it allows you to give to organizations to change the world in ways that matter to you

The easiest way to set up this process to work for you, and your long-term financial well being, is to set up your bank account with different sub-accounts. Then when you deposit your checks, they can be automatically divided into the different categories. This takes the emotion out of trying to save at the end of the month. You can clearly see the balance in the account your bills are coming out of so you’ll have a better understanding of your cash flow, and enjoy piece of mind knowing that you’re building your savings and investing buckets slowly but surely.

You may be saying, "but I can’t afford to save anything, I’m a starving student!" I totally understand and remember that stage of life like it was yesterday, but it’s all about creating good habits. Your daily habits will define your future financial life. Even if it’s $5 a week, start putting something away in a separate account so you begin to take action in the right direction. This exact habit is how I bought my first home, paid off my student loan, and took a trip to Australia for a month – all in my late twenties.

3. Don’t Sabotage Yourself with Consumer Debt - The Importance of Conscious Consumer Decision Making

 Before you buy a “want” (aka something you don’t really need), ensure you take the time to consciously think about whether this item is going to get you closer to your goals, or put you further behind. Think about how many hours it would take to earn this item (after tax) and whether it really carries that much value for you. Marketers want you to spend your money whether it’s good for you and your future or not, that’s one of the many reasons why we have the “convenience” of using plastic and phones to purchase items now instead of cash. It’s proven scientifically that you will spend less if you use cash. This is because it triggers the pain mechanism in your brain, the insula, making it harder to spend. Buying with plastic, or waving your phone doesn’t trigger any pain – so it's easier to spend more.

Going into credit card debt to buy another  … (insert your vice here – shoes, purse, tech toy) is not going to get you where you want to be in life, it will get you into severe debt and potentially bankruptcy. Be aware that the exciting feeling of “newness” or “bling” is simply a chemical reaction in your brain and body, and it will go away quite rapidly. If you can't truly afford the product (meaning you have the money in the bank or your wallet), then you’re just left with guilt, disappointment and potentially paying a lot of interest on your credit card debt.

Yes, being on a tight budget isn’t necessarily how you want to be living right now, but the struggle helps motivate you to work for how you do want to live in the future, it provides the “fire” to work hard and create who you want to be.  One secret I’ll share is this, most adults who went to college or university look back at those “broke student” days as fantastic memories, - memories of camaraderie, learning, and stretching of their capabilities. You tend to forget about the stress and the exams.

Life tip – always maintain your hope and belief in yourself, even when it’s really challenging. We all make mistakes, lots of them. However people who maintain their self-esteem, visualize the future life they want in detail, and go on to “greatness” in whatever field their passion is, are able to learn from mistakes and not let it destroy their belief in themselves. This one factor will make a huge difference to your success and happiness.

The Incredible Growth that Can Come from “Mis-takes”

My financial kicker came later in life when I walked away from an exciting and challenging six-figure career, one I had worked towards for fifteen years. I left it to spend more time with my baby and toddler. Within a year my life turned upside down and I became a single mom, my career was two thousand miles away and I was in and out of traction for a debilitating and excruciating back injury. This was all happening in 2007 and 2008, during the worst global economic crash since the Great Depression. 

I’m not going to say that period was fun, it wasn’t. I questioned my choices and myself a lot. But challenging experiences force you to look at things differently and, if you allow it (and don’t swim in perpetual regret), to grow a lot as a person. It also may just put you on a new life path, one that you appreciate greatly and were truly meant for. 

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I wouldn’t be writing this blog today if I had stayed on the path I was on, and I wouldn’t be growing as an entrepreneur or helping youth learn financial and life success skills. Most important to my values – I wouldn’t have seen and shared all the incredible moments of my children growing up during their early years – years I could never have gotten back.

Life today is inspiring and meaningful; I’m healthy and very excited about the future. I only wish I could go back and tell my 2008 self that everything is going to be OK, in fact, much better than OK.

 

                                                                                                                                                                 Photo of Max and Natasha taken by Kerry Phillips

CONCLUSION:

I hope you have found something within this blog that resonates and inspires you. You really can achieve the life of your dreams, it just may not be the exact path you thought it would be. Basic financial skills along with focus, passion, perseverance, self-control and willingness to learn from your "mis-takes" will allow you to create any type of life you want. 

Never stop dreaming.

 

Please feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on the facebook page, the Zela Wela Way.

If you are looking for a resource to define your values, goals and begin to learn key financial life skills, check out the Steps to Success Teen Guide, 25 Financial and Life Success Lessons to Help You Achieve Your Dreams.

Nancy Phillips is the mother of two children, has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and a Master of Business Administration. She is the creator of the values-based Zela Wela Way financial resources and author of the Steps to Success Teen Guide, 25 Financial and Life Success Tips to Help You Achieve Your Dreams.



 

Kids and Money: 10 Great Teachable Moments

Posted by Nancy Phillips on Sun, May 03, 2015


400_pxls_NP_0559_whitecropx22EFA3A8Hello parents, educators and all the great Zela Wela Way followers out there helping our youth learn financial life skills. I was just looking at the list of countries we have coming to this site. Wow, we have readers spanning from Canada and the United States to Australia, Finland and Sweden, all the way to Brazil, Botswana, Ghana, Egypt and the Philippines. I love it. Education can make such a difference for our children, and we have people here from over fifty countries looking for ways to help!

One of the questions I have been asked a lot lately is to give examples of great teaching moments, ones we might not think of during our busy days. Below you will find a list of ten simple examples. These are powerful teaching opportunties that can supercharge the financial life skills of the kids and teens in your house. We have to keep in mind that just because our kids have become teens, it doesn't mean they already possess financial life skills. It doesn't just "happen." They must be exposed to opportunities to learn the skills. 

If your children learn the lessons below, it will begin to create a path of knowledge that will help them prepare to live successfully on their own.


     Zela Wela Kids Caroline and Connor Vogelsang
      with GISS banks and purchased items!

Caroline_and_Connor_w_GISS_banks   ConnorAndCaroline5

Supercharge Your Kids Financial IQ with these Teachable Moments

1. When they want you to buy them something

Ask, “how could you earn the money to buy that?” You will find out very quickly how interested or committed they are to their desire for the item. If they are committed to saving for it, help them come up with a list of ways they can earn money - with ideas that are safe and appropriate for their age.

We went though this exercise in our house last year with cell phones. Natasha cut the grass, organized closets, had a yard sale and so on. She was thrilled and very proud the day she bought her first cell phone - just in time for the start of the school year!

2. At the grocery store

400_pixels_Needs_and_Wants_Cover-1Have them help you compare prices. For years I've started this by saying “your mission is …” so they feel like detectives. My kids nearly fell over when they saw the difference in price between a can of frozen juice and premixed drink jugs. The premixed drink is almost three times more! Added bonus -they like stirring the frozen drink!

fyi - the grocery store is also a great place to discuss needs versus wants. For example, milk or fruit versus cookies. Key success tip for this lesson is: don't always go shopping when you're in a rush.

3. In the car

Discuss how much it costs to fill the tank, little kids like to see the numbers on the dial moving. You can discuss why airplane tickets cost a lot, because planes use a lot of gas and so on. Create stories whenever possible, that makes the lesson more memorable. As your children begin to learn the price of things, they will be able to begin to understand relative value through comparisons their brain will now have the information to make.

4. Going out for a meal

Let your child help figure out the tip, or if they are too young, count it out the cash on the table with them. These opportunities for real-life math and counting are disappearing in our digital world. This situation makes it more and more difficult for our kids to learn even the most basic money skills. This issue will only hurt their confidence around handling money and understanding cash flow as they get older, so give them opportunities now. Using cash is extremely helpful for children to understand real-life financial transactions; otherwise it is a very abstract concept.

5. When you are planning a big purchase

Encourage your kids to help you do the online research and find the best price and shipping charge. They love a reason to go online, and teaching them the value of doing research or "due diligence" before a big financial decision is an important life lesson which will positively impact their future well-being.

6. Choosing extracurricular activities

Whether you can afford to let your kids be involved in multiple activities or not, it is worth discussing the costs so they begin to understand relative cost and value, just like the grocery store example. How many hours of ice time do we get for $300? How much do you enjoy dancing versus soccer? It is important to involve our children in the decision making process as they mature. This will enable them to become more skilled at thinking through priorities and making thoughtful decisions in the future.

7. Allowance – their weekly practice in money management GISS_bank_Tasha

 Using the GISS Method - which stands for give, invest, save and spend,  teaches your child about the four main purposes they can use their money for. This way  they learn that money isn’t just for spending. For more information click here

8. When using your credit card

Show that you planned the purchase  - if you have your list or budget, show it. Explain the money you are using is borrowed until you pay the bill. Explain that they will have to pay their credit card bill monthly or they will have to pay large extra charges called interest. 

9. When discussing vacation plans

Discuss the choices and the costs. Many families have their pre-teens and teens research the travel plans and present the best options. Then everyone discusses and makes the decision together, it’s a really fun way for everyone to share the excitement.

10. Unexpected expenses

If your fridge or car breaks down, it is the perfect opportunity to discuss why having an emergency or “rainy day” savings fund is so important as they get older. When they have a car, they need to be prepared for unexpected expenses as well.

CONCLUSION:

It's never too young to start talking to your kids about choices, understanding value and demonstrating delayed gratification. These are lessons they take into their subconscious during the formative years and the experiences will form their beliefs and habits about money as their grow into adulthood. Don't underestimate the power of these daily life lessons. Consistency and repetition plus the opportunity to learn through experience is vital for your children to learn good financial habits.

What are your favorite teachable moments? Please share with our community. Parents all over the world want to help their kids learn these skills, just like you do.

I hope you found this information valuable. If you would like to learn more about the resources available to help you teach these life lessons, please visit us at http://www.zelawelakids.com

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Tags: kids and money, GISS Method of Managing Money, Teachable money moments

Kids and Money: New App with Renegade Buggies

Posted by Nancy Phillips on Wed, Mar 04, 2015


400_pxls_np_0559_whitecropx2#2efa3a8Attention parents with elementary school aged children. If you want to let your child play a tech game that is fun, non-violent and focuses on a real-life topic - money and shopping, you may want to give Renegade Buggies a try. 

Just launched by the National Center for Families Learning and The Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Renegade Buggies was created to help parents and children gain financial literacy skills together – all with a little fun and competition along the way. In Renegade Buggies, players navigate a digital course and make real-world decisions in the midst of addictive fun: grab items from a shopping list, collect coins and coupons and watch out for obstacles – all with the goal of saving as much money as possible. As a reward for completing various stages of the game, players earn Buggy Bucks and in-game currency that can be used to purchase Buggy upgrades so your kids will have a chance to decorate the character and make other fun changes.

RenegadeBuggiewithfullcart1By capturing these situations in a game, Renegade Buggies creates the opportunity for parents and children  to engage in a joint-learning process. It also aims to reinforce money-saving tips parents may or may not know while teaching young kids everyday financial principles. Renegade Buggies gives families a free opportunity to turn popular tablets, smart phones, and other devices into learning moments. “Like adding vegetables to macaroni and cheese, it’s easy to do something fun and good for you at the same time,” said Emily Kirkpatrick, vice president, NCFL. “Renegade Buggies embraces that logic and helps parents teach valuable lessons all under the guise of a fun game.”

My kids were excited to give it a try when they saw the graphics. While it's hard to keep a child's attention on one game or app these days, they definitely enjoyed the opportunity to race through the course and pick up some ideas about the cost of common items, unit costs and the value of comparison shopping.

Renegade Buggies is free and available in the iTunes and Google Play store. For more information, go to http://renegadebuggies.familieslearning.org/index.html

renegadebuggiesgame-

Give it a try and let us know what you think.

 

Tags: kids and money

Financial Literacy Rocks for Students

Posted by Nancy Phillips on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

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Wow, I’m inspired and feeling electrified. I just saw the rock and roll band GOODING perform this morning. They’re currently touring high schools in North America to spread the word on financial literacy through rock and roll, and sharing their own life lessons. This band is full on, incredible professional artists - and pure heart when it comes to sharing their passion for helping our youth get off to a great financial start.

“Financial literacy has to do with freedom”

After a fabulous set of songs, lead singer Gooding shared shocking facts and thought provoking examples on the importance of starting financial education young, and why teens must take control of their financial lives. “This is about managing your life,” the lead singer told almost 300 students. Gooding then asked the students if they dreamed of having a car one day or a home, of going to college or getting married. “This all has to do with managing your money, you have to control your money or money will control you,” he emphasized.

aagooding_1

The topics in the presentation included:

  • Trusting your heart and following your passion
  • The importance of self-reliance
  • The impact of education and finding mentors in your community
  • Financial Literacy— saving, compound interest, pitfalls, warnings against predatory lending and pay day loans
  • Slow and steady wins the race— not believing the hype of overnight success  - current examples of athletes, actors, actresses and music stars who have made millions and lost it all
  • Expenses rising to meet income (the façade of inheritance, lottery, record deals, pro-sports deals etc. solving one’s long term problems)
  • Lessons learned from a life in the music business and how these experiences extend to any field.

As our society witnesses increased consumerism and personal debt, along with a rise in divorces due to money issues, this information couldn’t be more urgent for our children. How can our youth invest for the future if they spend more than they earn? We see professional athletes and movie stars go bankrupt after earning tens of millions of dollars. Why? Because young people aren’t learning how to manage their money and their emotions in a way that will create good habits and self-control. Spending is based more on emotion than logic, and we have to step up and help our youth learn the skills and actions necessary for good decision-making and long-term financial success. The information that needs to be shared isn't complex, our society just needs to commit to allowing financial education to be taught. The situation is only exacerbated by technology and the use of plastic. Cash makes you think about what you’re spending, it literally fires the pain center in your brain, plastic doesn’t. GOODING understands the urgency.

Congratulations to Raymond James for sponsoring this tour, and to the Gooding band, and their Funding the Future Foundation. Thank you for the time and personal commitment you’re giving to help our youth lead successful and inspired futures. You are changing lives. 

 

Gooding_Band_and_Nancy

Teen Finance App Announcement

Posted by Nancy Phillips on Thu, Jan 08, 2015

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Today I'm very excited to let you know about this new development for our teens! Stay tuned for more information in the coming months.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 88h, 2015 – DollarSmartKids Enterprises, Inc. and Apprenty Online Corporation today announced their partnership to develop an educational finance app that will help teens prepare for the financial decisions they will ultimately have to make on a daily basis.

The application will take teens through real-life financial situations and help them learn the concepts needed to make more conscious financial decisions. “Apprenty Online has extensive experience in eLearning and helping students acquire important knowledge in an interactive way,” said Nancy Phillips, Founder of DollarSmartKids and the mother of two children, ages nine and twelve. “The design and interactivity of this app will help teens walk through, and become familiar with, the financial thought processes they will need to use thousands of times per year as adults. Whether looking at the cost of things, how to understand the true sale price of an item or interest fees, the app will give them the opportunity to think through, and learn about, many of the circumstances and implications of their decisions - before the risks are high. We are really excited to announce this partnership and develop this app to help our youth get off to a strong financial start in life.”

Financial literacy has been talked about a great deal since the 2008 recession, but neither the United States nor Canada have made financial education mandatory at the elementary or high school level. While there are numerous children’s games, financial calculators and financial management tools online, these don’t offer the same type of cognitive learning outcomes this app is designed to create.

"With technology making spending easier and faster, it is also a lot easier for our youth to get into significant financial problems more quickly than ever before. Financial literacy is an essential life skill that most teens aren’t learning at school, and many aren’t learning at home either,” commented Phillips.

DollarSmartKids recently launched the Teen Steps to Success Guide, 25 Financial and Life Lessons to Help You Achieve Your Dreams. The activity guide, approved by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is designed to be part of a teenager’s preparation for a successful independent financial life. The teen app will compliment the activities in the guide.

“DollarSmartKids has already proven its financial programs for youth make a difference," said Davinder Jawanda, Managing Director, Apprenty eLearning. The Memorial University Enactus team is using the Zela Wela Kids program in a financial literacy pilot for grade three primary school children. Over 1,900 children have completed the program resulting in a knowledge increase of 30% in key topics such as saving, needs versus wants and entrepreneurial concepts. "By focusing on gamification, our teen app is designed to have a similar measurable impact on the financial literacy of secondary school children." 

The app provides an opportunity for teens to improve financial literacy while on the go, anytime and in any circumstance. “Together with DollarSmartKids, Apprenty is committed to helping teens get the most out of life, not only in the short-term but as they move into independent adult life,” commented Jawanda. “We believe the best way to do that is by making learning fun, relevant and always on, hence the focus on mobility.”

Kids and Money: Online Tools Can Teach Your Kids Real World Money Skills

Posted by Nancy Phillips on Fri, Jan 02, 2015


400_pxls_np_0559_whitecropx2#2efa3a8Numerous studies prove that people are more frugal when paying with cash than when using other forms of payment - especially credit cards and electronic transactions. Why? Cash is tangible. You literally feel pain as you hand over each hard earned bill. That’s why so many parents feel strongly about using bills and coins to teach their kids about money. The less abstract and the more tangible the better, right?

Well the challenge for us parents is that our financial world is moving more and more away from cash. The “convenience” of plastic and technology encourages spending, and that’s a good thing for many big companies who want us and our kids to spend more.

That’s why I’m here with Bill Dwight today. He’s the founder of FamZoo, an online money management system for parents to help their kids learn to manage money effectively.

 Electronic_money_intlNancy: Hi Bill, I’m looking forward to learning more about FamZoo. Tell us a bit about the challenges of teaching kids money skills in today’s world.

Bill: Thanks Nancy. The challenge is, your kids aren’t going to be using much (if any) cash when they get older. The world is getting more cash­less every day, and there’s really nothing parents can do to arrest that accelerating trend. So, how are we preparing our kids for that undeniable reality?

FamZoo offers an effective solution by teaching kids that the account balance they see on a computer screen or a mobile phone represents real money. The FamZoo system helps kids make an explicit, visceral connection between making a purchase (regardless of payment method) and seeing that abstract number ­- the account balance -­ go down. It also teaches them to manage that critical number responsibly. If you introduce your kids to online and mobile banking concepts early, they’ll be better prepared for the real world later.

Nancy: Are you worried that children can’t grasp managing money as an abstract number?

Bill: Parents are surprised how quickly even the youngest catch on. You’ve probably seen them master far more complicated concepts in video games already.

Nancy: Learning things at a young age can definitely be easier and less intimidating than when you’re a teen.

Bill: Yes.  Unfortunately, most banks require kids to be in their teens before they can have a checking account, and traditional banking products really aren’t designed for kids anyway. FamZoo is a solution that let’s the family create its own private online banking experience. You create accounts for each of your kids and teach them that the current balance represents how much money the bank (you!) owes them. Add to the balance when your child earns money. Subtract from the balance when your child withdraws money from the bank (you!) or when you spend money on your child’s behalf. Teach your kids to carefully monitor their account balances. Require your kids to consult their balances before they ask you to make purchases for them. Don’t have enough? Wait and save. After purchases are made, show your kids how the account balance has gone down accordingly. Condition your kids to feel purchases even though no physical cash changes hands.

Nancy: So how do you set about running your own bank?

Bill: You have a choice. You can just use paper and pencil or a spreadsheet to record the transactions in each account manually, but that ends up being quite a bit of work. And neither approach is particularly accessible or engaging for the kids. Fortunately, there are now several virtual family bank services like FamZoo that automate most of the work for parents and provide convenient, friendly online and mobile access to the kids. In just a few minutes, you can register your family online, set up your kids’ accounts, set up income sources (allowance, chores, odd-­jobs, interest, etc.), and have your online virtual family bank up and running.

An added bonus of ditching the cash and going the virtual family bank route is that you can easily split your kids’ deposits between accounts without needing to keep just the right mixture of coins and dollar bills on hand. So, if someone is using your Give, Invest, Save and Spend (GISS) Method with their kids, you can just define the percentage splits once up front (see below), and have them apply automatically to the weekly deposits going forward.

famzoo_GISS_layout

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of what you can teach your kids with FamZoo’s virtual family bank. Your readers can check out our FAQ to learn about making savings goals, defining parent ­paid interest, sharing family expenses, tracking loans and much more.



Thank you for your time Bill. I’ll be trying out FamZoo with my kids, so I’m excited to be taking this step with many other families.

Parents, if you’re ready to start preparing your kids for the reality of a cashless society, you can start your own online family bank today at FamZoo.com.



 

Tags: financial education for kids, financial literacy, kids and money, GISS Method for managing money, saving, Online virtual banking

Teens and Credit: 5 Ways to Prepare for Financial Success

Posted by Nancy Phillips on Mon, Dec 29, 2014


400_pxls_np_0559_whitecropx22efa3a8Managing credit cards is considered by many to be the most important lesson young adults need to learn about managing their money. While there are a number of essential financial skills teens need to learn for their financial well-being (see the Steps to Success Teen Guide), I agree credit card knowledge and management is a vital part of the overall education required in today's financial world. Our youth can't manage their money effectively if they are in severe credit card debt.

Today we have a guest post from Consolidated Credit's Seth Turner. Seth is a Financial Consultant in the beautiful city of Boise, Idaho. He is happily married and has two children, ages ten and fourteen. Thank you for your contribution Seth:

In today’s hectic financial climate there are a lot of potential pitfalls for those who decide to use credit, especially teens. Let’s face it, the possibility of falling into debt and paying interest on top of interest is far too real. It’s easy to ask the question, “Why on earth would I ever let my teen have a credit card?!” Well, the fact is, in 2014 33% of people in America owned at least one credit card. If your teen grows up to belong in that group—and there’s a pretty good chance they will—it’s best to teach them at a young age how to handle their credit. That way, once they’ve matured and are independent and out of the house, you can rest assured they will know how to swim, so to speak, in the deep end of the financial pool that is credit card ownership.

Before I launch into the discussion of teens and credit cards, let me first give you a little background information about what brought me here. I used to work with disadvantaged, troubled families as something of a life-coach. The job title was Community-Based Rehabilitation Specialist. I would go into the home and help parents teach their children skills. For example, a child struggled with controlling his temper when he was triggered by how slow the desktop PC was; he would kick the computer, he would yell profanities, he would throw things. My job—together with the input and cooperation of his guardians—was to help this child find ways to cope with that anger by doing things like deep-breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, etc.

On occasion I would work with a family that needed help teaching their child about finances. The parents already have so much on their plate and are having enough trouble with their own finances; it just makes sense to help them educate their child about how to manage money. In the course of my time doing this unique and challenging work, I discovered five tips any parent can apply in the effort to educate their teen on the tricky subject of managing finances. And, in a world that is increasingly digital, increasingly plastic, it won’t hurt to educate your teen on how to manage finances when and if they’re making transactions with a credit card.

Let Them Know What to Expect

Oftentimes teens don’t know the reality of what it would be like to charge a purchase to a card and then pay it off, with interest. That’s why you should show the teen with dollar signs in his or her eyes what it would look like were they to amass credit card debt. Information we consume is becoming more-and-more visual. The advent of movies and television, and now the internet—where there are typically multiple images on every page—can be thanked for this. Showing your teen an infographic can help her or him focus on the issue at hand. As you can see, the amount of cash you end up coughing up on interest alone—especially if you have a high-interest card—is staggering. We want to teach our kids to avoid racking up this type of debt, and there are resources out there to help us. Most importantly, we need to get on their level, and using visuals to help them know what to expect is a great way to do so.

Make Them Earn Itcredit_cards_image

We know there’s no easy way to get around paying off debt. But once again our teens may not be fully aware of the reality. One way to prepare them is to create a mock credit card ownership situation. It’s a form of role-play, an intervention I often used with my clients. Present them with a pre-paid card. Let them know they can spend up to a certain amount on the card. After they have maxed it out, present them with a statement detailing how much they owe and give them options on household chores to pay it off. Make sure they’re aware that if they don’t pay it off by a certain date, interest will accrue. Sit back and watch as your teen works to negotiate this realistic credit card scenario, where, instead of a big faceless corporation, you are the creditor. 

Keep Your Initial Conversation Short

A lot of us can remember what it was like for mom and dad to sit us down and try to talk to us about the realities of the big, bad world. There’s not a lot worse than being nagged. With that in mind, try to keep your discussion about credit card debt short and to-the-point. Studies are finding that the average attention span is now only eight seconds! What’s more, your teen is increasingly inundated with information—they’re texting, watching You Tube, scrolling and commenting on Facebook. A good amount of time to designate for the conversation is about three minutes, and if you can make it shorter than that, do it!

Connect the Discussion Directly to Your Teen’s Everyday Life 

I had to learn this the hard way as a Community Based Rehabilitation Specialist. Kids simply will not learn if you present them with a lecture replete with abstractions. If your child likes to play basketball, trying making analogy about the game. For example, “Paying off credit card debt is like playing a pick-up game against Michael Jordan (or Lebron James). True, it’s fun to watch these guys play ball but actually trying to beat them at their own game? Good luck!” And, as a good parent you’ll want to encourage them. With enough practice and hard work they can do it, and you’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt by doing something like the mock credit card trial described above.

Play the Shopping Game

Finally, a great way to prepare your teen for owning a credit card is to play the shopping game. During my days with clients we used this exercise about once a week. I would take the client to the store and give them a dollar figure as to how much they could spend (usually seven dollars—don’t break your bank!). However, they only had a certain amount of time to find items, and they had to make sure they weren’t going over the spending limit. This is very similar to the type of situation presented by credit cards. We can get whatever we want, but we have to be on top of it with the numbers, both in terms of staying within the dollar limit and paying attention to how much time we have left until the payment deadline hits.

Throughout this process, make sure you’re giving your teen options, to help cultivate independence and decision-making skills. Have fun with this! I hope it helps you educate your teen on how to negotiate the path to credit-management and success!    

 



 I hope you found this information useful. What ideas you've seen work for managing credit cards effectively with your friends and family?

If you are looking for a resource that covers fundamental finanancial life skills for the young adults in your family, the Steps to Success Teen Guide is now available in print and downloadable formats. It is approved by the Financial Industry Regulatory Industry and begins by helping your teen identify their personal values and goals, and then goes into the critical financial lessons most of us never learn in school. Receive 10% off the downloadable version until January 10th with the code STG2015. That's just $13.45.

What's your child's financial future worth?

Tags: financial education, credit card debt, teen financial education,

Teen Success: Proven Light Technology Optimizes Mental Performance

Posted by Nancy Phillips on Thu, Nov 20, 2014

 

Nancy Phillips, Youth Financial AuthorToday I'm really excited to share with you information about a light technology that can help increase the performance and well-being of the teens in your life (and perhaps your own!)

I met Terry Cook, the CEO of The Litebook Company, on a flight recently. We talked the entire time, and I was fascinated to learn about this technology. I hope you find it as valuable as I have, we use the Litebook Edge each morning in my house. It's small and portable, the size of an iPhone, and is especially helpful during this dark time of year.

Nancy: What effect does the use of this special light technology have on a teen?

Terry: When children go through adolescence many suffer from Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder DPSD.  This means simply that their melatonin that helps them sleep does not come out until well after mid-night and it does not shut down until mid-morning. When they have to get up early for sports, school, dance, etc. their melatonin is still coming out so they are often very tired. Sunlight shuts down melatonin naturally but with the absence of light they remain tired. Using a Litebook Edge which delivers a specific wave length of light for a period of 15 to 30 minutes. This will shut down their melatonin and make them more alert, and help them to focus and concentrate on activities at hand.

Nancy: How does it work on the brain and body to make you feel better and more alert?

Terry: There is a long technical, physiological answer to the question, but very simply light in the blue range is recognized as sunlight or equivalent by the melanopsin receptors in the retina, and light in this range naturally suppresses melatonin and allows the brain to become more focused and alert.Litebook Edge

Nancy: Can it help with studying? How about sports?

Terry: Absolutely. Early morning practises can prove very difficult for many athletes to focus and improve and the results are often shown in their performances. Similarly studying late at night when melatonin is secreting can also make it most difficult to concentrate and absorb information being reviewed. Thirty minutes of light therapy  in the early morning before practise can help an athlete shut down their melatonin and increase their serotonin level causing them to be more alert and focused. Similarly, light in the early evening can have the same results.     

Nancy: Who has used this technology successfully for performance? Who is using it to help with their studies? Could it help for entrance exam preparation?

Terry: Many individuals and teams have and are presently using the Litebook light therapy products to help with performance issues, and to adjust their body clocks to manage jet lag and sleep issues. The USA Olympic men’s hockey team used Litebook at the Sochi winter Olympics, members of Canada’s junior international hockey teams, members of the University of Michigan swim team and Cornell University women’s Hockey team, professional hockey players with the Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers, and numerous others. Many students use Litebook products to help them stay alert, improve their concentration and achieve better results in school, and when preparing for university entrance exams.     

Nancy: So this light technology would be really useful for students in countries all over the world, and especially those like China and Korea where there is such a major focus on academic performance. 

Terry: Yes, the light will literally help them focus and study more effectively."

Nancy: How about uses for the rest of the family?

Terry: The great thing about a Litebook Edge is that even though it is considered to be a ‘personal use device’ it is completely non-invasive and can easily be used by every member of the family. It can successfully help to manage numerous circadian rhythm disruptions and many mild forms of depression, adjust disruptive sleep patterns, whether in teens, adults or seniors, or help adjust the body clock between shift changes for shift workers. It can help international travellers manage and eliminate jet lag and make the long dark days of winter just a little more bearable for everyone.      

Nancy: That sounds fantastic, and I know you've also mentioned many users have found morning "crankiness" to subside in family members - which is pretty important to the entire family.      

Is there a guarantee on its effectiveness?

Terry: Just as each of us has a totally unique body clock, so too does light therapy have a different effect on every individual. If used according to the manufacturers instructions, most everyone will feel some benefit from the Litebook Edge, some more than others. But if within 60 days of purchase an individual wants to return the light, for whatever reason, Litebook will refund their money completely. (This may vary internationally depending on local laws)  

Nancy: Wonderful, where can people get it? 

Terry: The Litebook Edge is available at numerous retail and on line resellers, however if you purchase directly from http://www.litebook.com and enter the code ZW001, you will receive a 20% discount off the posted retail price.

This one and a half minute video gives you a short review of why this light technology can have such important benefits to our overall mental well-being and personal success.

Nancy: Thank you so much Terry for all the research and work you are doing to bring out such a useful resource, and for giving Zela Wela readers a generous discount. I'm so glad I found out about the Edge!

Nancy Phillips, Financial author and speaker

 

Tags: exam preparation success, jet lag therapy, mood disorder, SAD, teen fatigue, teen success, China, light therapy, student success, study skills, mental alertness

Teen Success: New Steps to Success Personal Finance Guide

Posted by Nancy Phillips on Sun, Nov 16, 2014

Nancy Phillips, Teen Financial AuthorMany of you have asked me when I would write a resource for teenagers. Well, I'm thrilled to let you know the Steps to Success Teen Guide, 25 Financial and Life Success Lessons to Help You Achieve Your Dreams is now available!

If you have a teen in your life, you will want them to experience this personal and concise lesson based actvitity guide. The first step of the guide helps them identify and clarify their personal values. This will help them make their financial decisions based on what's truly important to them, instead of following what they hear from the media or their peers.

The 40-page resource allows the teen to create their own personalized guide through short lessons and related activities - they walk away with a plan for their future, and steps on to make it happen.

Packed with helpful tips and suggestions on everything from setting goals to managing money, the “Steps to Success Teen Guide” also outlines key concepts teens need to be aware of to persevere towards their goals, including:

 

 

*How Needs and Wants Affect Your Life

*The Difference Between Debit and Credit

*The Give, Invest, Save and Spend (GISS) Method of Managing Money and Building Wealth

* Creating a Spending Plan (aka Budget) to Achieve Your Goals

*The Different Types of Debt

*The Benefits of Entrepreneurial Thinking

*The Impact of Gratitude on Success and Happiness

Steps to Success Teen Guide by Nancy Phillips

The guide is available until December 1st for the launch price of $16.95, then it will return to it's regular price of $22.95.

Financial life skills are one of the most important skills a teen will need to live a happy and successful life in today's world. They will make over ten financial decisions a day by the time the finish high school, and they deserve to have guidance to help them make good decisions.


 Thank you all for your support and encouragement to research and create this guide. My hope is that it helps teens all over the world better prepare to live successful, happy and independent lives.

Nancy Phillips, Youth Financial Author

Tags: Steve Jobs, gratitude, teens and money, kids and money, teen success, teen finance, teen finance activity book, teens and finance, teen finance book, new teen finance book, entrepreneurial teen finance book, young entrepreneurs, teen entrepreneurs, Brian Tracy, Sir Richard Branson, Hellen Keller, the importance of gratitude, the difference between debit and credit, credit card information for teens

Mint.com Interview: The Real Impact of Youth and Financial Responsibility

Posted by Nancy Phillips on Tue, Nov 04, 2014

Nancy Phillips, Founder of DollarSmartKids Enterprises Inc. Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to the group at mint.com. They do fantastic work helping people manage their money effectively. If you haven't looked at their online service before, it is definitely worth your time, over ten million people think so.

We talked about youth and money (of course!) and some of the key questions we discussed were:

*How important is early financial literacy for children and teens? 

*How does a lack of financial responsibility in children now affect our future economy?

*How do you feel our society today is skimping on this responsibility?

*What are a few basic things parents should be doing with their kids now to instill this concept?

Check out the full article hereAs always, comments are very welcome. 

Nancy Phillips, Founder of DollarSmartKids Enterprises Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: financial responsibility, financial literacy, kids and money, needs and wants, children's financial education, money books for kids, Zela Wela Kids, mint.com, Steps to Success Teen Guide