6 Bad Money Habits Not to Pass on to Your Kids

Whether your bills are paid in full at the end of every month or you have to do some strategic budgeting, there’s a good chance you have some less-than-perfect money habits. As a parent, they don’t begin and end with you; they affect your children too, and for a lot longer than you may realize.

Most young adults are entering the world without the basics of financial literacy. Many are taking on massive debt in the form of student loans and doing so without understanding the principles of interest, or saving for emergencies and the future. Though schools have worked to increase financial education among the young, the evidence suggests these classes alone are largely ineffective and must be supported by good financial practices at home too.

Thus, a hard look at your own financial habits, paired with transparency and good communication, could give your kids the financial lessons they’ll need long into adulthood. So what are common habits to avoid and how can you ensure your children don’t adopt them as their own?

1. Overestimating your financial acumen.

First, admit your mistakes and be willing to learn. If you don’t know the best practices for using credit or how to make a budget, learn with your child.

2. Overspending.

Whether you misuse credit cards or prioritize wants over needs, spending more than you have is a sure recipe for insurmountable debt and poor lessons for the kids. Set a budget and make them part of it. Be willing to admit when you make mistakes with your money, and talk with them about what you could do better.

3. Not saving.

Not everyone can afford to save and you may not have an emergency fund. But even if you set up a savings account to pull $50 from your pay every month, you can teach children an important lesson. They need to learn to set aside money for a rainy day and retirement too.

4. Ignoring bills.

Got debt? Join the club. But even if you can’t afford to pay outstanding bills, ignoring them isn’t the answer. Involve your children in a discussion about how you got to this point and about handling responsibilities. Then call the creditors and try to make payment arrangements or get more time to pay. Children should know that sometimes we just have to face the music when it comes to cleaning up financial mistakes, even when that initial call can be gut-wrenching.

5. Fighting about money.

Family fights about money are some of the most harmful. When these arguments go on in front of the children, the damage is multiplied. Both parents should learn to talk calmly about money issues, and show the children the benefits of cooperative problem solving. If you can’t tackle this bad money habit as a couple or alone, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

6. Living paycheck to paycheck.

Sometimes bad financial habits are born out of necessity. But this doesn’t mean you don’t have important lessons to teach. Use struggles as lessons for your kids rather than staying mum, so they’re more likely to make better choices in the future.

As parents, there’s probably nothing you want more than for your children to do better than you have in life. Helping them learn from your mistakes is part of the process.

To help your children learn the value of a dollar and to get them to start saving at a young age, open a First Step Kids Savings Account right here at First Financial!* There’s just a $5 minimum to open the account and no fees, PLUS they’ll earn dividends on balances over $100. Stop by any branch location and we’ll help you get started!

*As of 12/12/2012, the First Step Kids Account has an annual percentage yield of 0.05% on balances of $100.00 and more. The dividend rate may change after the account is opened. Parent or guardian must bring both the child’s birth certificate and social security card when opening a First Step Kids Account at any branch location.  Parent or guardian will be a joint owner and must also bring their identification. A First Financial Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

Article source courtesy of Elizabeth Renter of USA Today.


Financial Words Parents Should Teach Their Children

Cute little girl is playing with paper money - dollars, isolated over white

Savings: Age 4+
Saving is one of the best topics to introduce at a young age. It’s easy for kids to grasp and can have a huge impact on those who embrace it early. There are plenty of examples parents can use to illustrate, here’s one: Start by giving your child two small pieces of candy during the day. Let them eat one right away and save the other until after dinner. Then each day for a week, give them two pieces but have them save one in a special place. When the week is over, they’ll be excited to have a bag full of candy. Explain that saving money works the same way — when you regularly put a little bit aside, in time it will add up to something big.

Budget: Age 8
A budget is plan that you make to keep track of your money and where it is going. One great way that a lot of parents teach kids how to budget is with “give, save, spend jars.” Whenever the child earns money they divide it between the jars. The “save” jar is money that’s intended for a longer-term goal; money in the “spend” jar can be used any time for smaller purchases; the “give” jar is money that will go to a charity of their choosing. The give jar, in particular, is great for getting kids to think about helping others while allowing them the freedom to choose where to donate their money.

Loan: Age 8
A loan is something that is borrowed, often money, which has to be paid back with interest. Most kids get the basic concept of a loan because chances are, at one time or another, they’ve lent something to a friend or sibling and expected to get it back.

Start by explaining some of the reasons people take out loans. For instance, because it costs a lot of money to buy a house most people borrow money (take out a mortgage) to pay for it. Even kids know that $300,000 is a lot of money, so when they hear that’s the average price of a house they can understand why most people borrow money to cover it. Car loans and student loans are also good ones to discuss.

While taking out a loan isn’t a bad thing, parents need to stress that when you do take on a loan, it’s your responsibility to pay it back.

Debt: Age 8
Loans and debt can be explained together. Like a loan, a debt is money that you owe someone that needs to be paid back. Once again, a mortgage can be a good way to illustrate how debt works.

Interest: Age 8-10
Interest has two sides: it’s either something you pay when someone lends you money or something that you earn when you lend money to someone else. You could explain interest to your child by telling them they could earn interest if, for example, “your sister runs out of her allowance but needs money this weekend. You could lend her $20 but charge her $2 in interest, which she will have to pay you back next week.”  You can also make it into a game to illustrate how it works: Ask to borrow a few dollars from your child’s piggy bank and then set up a schedule to pay it back over the next month with interest.

Explain to older kids how you pay a financial institution interest on a car loan or mortgage each month. Also point out that the financial institution pays interest on deposits you keep in your accounts there.

When kids are older and can calculate simple percentages, have them do some math to see how interest adds up. Show them a credit card agreement that charges 15% interest and have them figure out how much extra money you would have to pay to carry a balance of $5,000 or $10,000 on your credit card, versus if you paid it off right away.

Credit Card: Age 8-10
Credit lets you buy something without having to pay for it right away. For example, if you use a credit card to buy a new bike that costs $200, the money doesn’t come out of your bank account. Instead the credit card company pays for the bike. Then they send you a bill and you have to pay them back the $200. If you don’t pay them back right away, they will charge you extra money (interest).  The longer it takes you to pay back, the more money you will owe in the end. While credit cards are necessary to have — kids need to understand that they should only be used to buy things that they can afford to pay off right away.

Parents should also explain how a debit card is different as it takes money directly from your checking account. When you’re at the store and you slide the debit card, explain that the card is taking the money right out of your account at that very moment.

Taxes: Age 10-12
Chances are most kids know the word but few understand what taxes are. Here’s the explanation: Taxes are payments that go to the government for the work that it does, such as improving schools and fixing roads. They’re taken right from your paycheck and the amount you pay depends on how much money you make.

You can also explain to older kids that doing certain things, which have a positive impact such as donating money to charity or installing solar panels on your house, can lower your taxes.

Investment: Age 10-12
An investment is something that you spend money on, which you believe will earn you even more money (a profit) down the line. Kids should know, however, that although people invest in things that they hope will make them more money, it doesn’t always happen that way. That’s why it’s never a good idea to put all of your money in a risky investment, because if you do and the investment fails, you could loose it all.

Stock: Age 12+
A stock is a piece of a company. When you own stock in a company, you own a small piece of its business. Every stock has a price and that price can go up or down, depending on what’s happening at the company.

Stock movements are best illustrated to kids with an example of a company they know. For instance, say you bought one share of Apple AAPL -0.16% stock for $5 . If the company sold a ton of iPhones, which is good for the company, it could make the stock price go up to $8, meaning you would have earned $3 on your investment. On the other hand, if Apple didn’t sell a lot of iPhones and the stock fell to $2, you would have lost $3. Most people don’t own a single piece of a stock (a share) – but tens, hundreds or thousands of shares. And most people also own stock in several different companies. The “stock market” is where people buy and sell (trade) their stocks. There is an actual place where stocks are traded but it can also be done over the Internet.

Learning about stocks can be particularly fun as kids get older. There are a lot of online games and apps they can use to create virtual stock portfolios, which can show them how stock prices move and how much money they would have made or lost if they been dealing with real money.

401(K): 14+
As kids enter the teenage years, it’s a good time to begin preparing them for some of the things they will likely encounter once they enter the workforce, one of which is a 401(k) plan. A 401(k) is a savings account for retirement offered by your employer. The money that you put into a 401(k) is taken out directly from your paycheck, and is intended solely for retirement. You can’t withdraw it until age 59½.

The money that’s put into a 401(k) gets put into different investments. The ideas is that the investments will increase over time, so the money in the 401(k) will grow as well.

Credit Score: Age 15+
Once you plan to give your child use of a credit card, you must explain what a credit score is. Here’s how to explain it: There are three credit bureaus, which calculate your “credit score” or how you use your money. The goal is to have a high credit score. The way to receive a high score  is to have a long history of paying your bills on time. When you don’t pay your bills on time or you have too much debt, your score gets lowered.

It’s important to emphasize that a good credit score will help in the future if you want to borrow money to buy a house or a car. Meanwhile a bad credit score can make it difficult for you to borrow money.

Article Source: Jennifer Ryan Woods for http://www.cuinsight.com/11-financial-words-all-parents-should-teach-their-kids.html 

4 Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids About Money


Have you ever wished that someone taught you more about money as a child? The sad reality is that many students graduate from college with a degree but are unable to manage their money. Here are some tips to educate your children about money so they can better handle their finances in the future:

1. Talk isn’t cheap when it comes to money.

Dianne Caliman, creative director of The Centsables, an award-winning animated TV series on the Fox Business network, believes talking is key when it comes to money matters with children. She suggests including your children in the family’s money management activities such as looking through circulars and clipping coupons.

She points out that these types of activities are great jumping off points for discussions. Caliman explains that showing real life examples to children fosters understanding and meaningful connections to money management. “Show the kids your bills, and explain how purchases made earlier must be paid for now,” she says.

Caliman also reminds parents to be role models and to ask themselves the following: What messages do you send your children? Are you living beyond your means? Do you pull out the plastic for every purchase? Do you and your spouse worry or argue about money? She advises taking a look at your own money habits, and make any changes where you think necessary. “When you exercise good financial judgment, you are automatically teaching your children by example. That’s a win-win situation for all,” she adds.

2. Make a budget-based allowance.

Bill Dwight, founder of FamZoo.com, suggests giving children an allowance that is based on a very simple budget. “Make a list of the typical things you would expect your kids to buy for themselves over a period of time, plus how much you would expect them to save and give, and calculate an allowance amount to match those clear expectations,” he says. Dwight adds that as your kids mature, you can extend the budget to cover more areas of spending like clothing. This approach helps insure that an allowance is a personal finance teaching tool rather than an entitlement.

3. Practice paying back loans before college.

One way to get practice at paying back a loan is to lend your kids money. Dwight suggests teaching your kids how to manage loan payments by arranging a parent-financed loan for a big ticket item like a laptop or a smartphone. “Direct a portion of their allowance, chore or job payments to paying off the loan each period. By making regular payments over an extended period of time, not only will your kids appreciate the cost of expensive items more, but they’ll take better care of them.”

4. Take on the tough lessons, too.

No one said teaching kids about money was easy. It may take work to get kids on board with the idea. Rod Griffin, director of public education for Experian knows this firsthand by getting a little pushback from his own granddaughter when it came to the topic. In her elementary school class, she has to “pay” for her school books and “rent” the desk she sits in with pretend money she earns through various activities, academic performance and good behavior. What she saves after expenses can be used to “buy” rewards.

Griffin points out that many parents feel ill-equipped to teach their kids money concepts, especially more advanced ones and don’t know what to do. He explains how there are many sources on the web that can help. Griffin recommends checking out Moonjar.com for younger children, because it explains the basics of saving, spending and giving. LifeSmarts.org is geared toward older kids and provides free lessons online via videos and other tools.

Griffin also suggests showing high school and college-aged kids an actual credit report. A sample one is provided on the Experian website to understand the different parts and what they mean. They can see how their financial decisions impact how prospective creditors view their credit history. They get to see how their financial behavior, such as paying bills on time or being late, is tracked and recorded much like a permanent record.

At some point, everyone has to manage their own finances. The more exposure and practice a child gets, the better equipped they will be in the future when they have to make financial decisions on their own. Consider teaching them age-appropriate lessons as they grow to help them develop the skills they need to successfully handle their money.

Here at First Financial, we have a few products and services just for kids so they can start saving for their future while having fun doing it!

  • First Step Kids Savings Account: First Financial’s unique First Step Kids Savings Account is specifically designed for young people, with a focus on education and fun.*
  • Dollars for A’s Program: For every “A” your child earns on their report card, First Financial will deposit $1 into your child’s First Step Kids Account!* It’s a great way to reward your child for doing his or her best in school. It also teaches the life long practice of saving for the future. To earn your dollars, visit a branch location.**
  • Summer Reading Contest: Every summer we have a reading contest where First Financial kids up to age 18 can earn rewards for the books they read, along with a great grand prize!***
  • Student Checking Account: A complete Checking Account for students ages 14-23. It comes equipped with their own personalized Debit Card, has no minimum balance requirements, and more!****

*As of 12/12/2012, the First Step Kids Account has an annual percentage yield of 0.05% on balances of $100.00 and more. The dividend rate may change after the account is opened. Parent or guardian must bring both the child’s birth certificate and social security card when opening a First Step Kids Account at any branch location.  Parent or guardian will be a joint owner and must also bring their identification. A First Financial Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

**Offer applies only to report cards for most recent school terms. Letter grade “A” or 90%+. No back rewards available for prior semesters or marking periods. Available for First Financial members between 1st and 12th grades. Qualifying report cards must be submitted within 45 days from the date of issue. Child must be present and a $5.00 deposit to a First Step Kids Account is required to receive the Dollars for A’s incentive.  Parent or guardian must bring both the child’s birth certificate and social security card when opening a First Step Kids Account at any branch location.  Parent or guardian will be a joint owner and must also bring their identification. A First Financial Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. As of 12/12/2012, the First Step Kids Account has an annual percentage yield of 0.05% on balances of $100.00 and more. The dividend rate may change after the account is opened.

***Credit Union membership and Savings Account is required to participate. Members up to age 18 are eligible to participate and must complete an entry form. Reader rewards must be deposited to a child’s First Financial Savings Account. Winning reader and 4 runners up will be drawn after the contest ends (September), and will be contacted by the First Financial Marketing Department. Forms will not be posted on the website or located in any First Financial branch before the contest entry period.

****A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the Bronze Tier. Click here to view full Rewards First program details, and here to view the Tier Level Comparison Chart. Accounts for children age 13 and under are excluded from this program.

*Original article courtesy by Karen Cordaway of US News.

How To Talk Money With Your College Student

SavingMoneyYour child is a college student, and you’ve successfully packed them up, moved them in, made several trips to Bed Bath & Beyond, and they’ve settled into their class schedule for the new year – you can finally breathe a sigh of relief, you’ve covered it all.  Or have you?  How about the skills necessary not to blow whatever budgetary limits that have been set for the first semester?

It’s not an easy maneuver to accomplish. The skills your child probably has to manage their own money are most likely the ones you’ve (hopefully) taught them.  And they may not have picked up as much as you think.  75% of parents say they’re having regular conversations with their kids about money, but only about 60% of kids say the same.

With that in mind, here’s a quick checklist of items to discuss with your son or daughter living at the college dorm:

  • Spending Limits

Some colleges will provide you with guidelines of how much spending money to give your kids. Northwestern University, for example, says about $2,000 will be sufficient for the 2014-2015 academic year, while the University of Arizona says $1,800 (not including books). Stretching those dollars, however, will be hard for kids who aren’t used to paying for their own pizza, let alone laundry and shampoo. It’s important to develop a basic list of what money will likely be used for – and how much those things cost,  to make sure actual expenditures fall in line with these estimates. Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst for MoneyRates.com, also suggests doling the money out slowly – say a month at a time — and for specific purposes.

  • The ID Card

The student ID card gets you into the library and the dining hall. And it’s essentially a prepaid debit card, as well. Parents can put money on an account and students use that money for food, copies or whatever other campus services they need. What’s good about these cards is that you (and your student) have the ability to check what the balance is at any time. And, because the amount on tap is capped, there’s not the same risk you’d have if you handed your child a credit card (more on that in a moment). Talk about the card with your child so they can prevent spending all the money on the card right away.

  • Picking the Right Financial Institution

Although it may seem more convenient to have your child bank at the same institution you do – so that you can transfer funds into his or her account in the event of a shortfall – it may also prove to be more expensive. The Achilles heel of the college student when it comes to banking is the $3 a pop (or more) ATM fee at the campus or other local ATM. Unless your child has an account and card with one of those, these ATM charges can add up.  Be sure to investigate the banking situation – does your current institution offer Online Banking with a mobile app and remote deposit?  This may be another great, easy alternative for your student at college.

First Financial’s has a great Student Checking Account available for 14 to 23 year old students, which includes:

  1. A free first box of checks, and an allowance of the first mistake being free+.
  2. Free phone transfers to the account by parents.
  3. No per-check charges – unlimited check writing without getting charged after writing a certain amount of checks.
  4. No minimum balance requirements.
  5. No monthly service charge for having the account.
  6. A personalized Debit Card issued instantly in one of our Monmouth or Ocean County branches.
  7. Free Online Banking with Bill Pay++.
  8. Unlimited in-branch transactions.
  • A Credit Card for Emergencies

Since the passage of The Credit CARD Act in 2009, kids under 21 are not supposed to be issued credit cards of their own unless they have either income to support their spending or a co-signer. But the credit scores of millennials have also suffered as a result.  If you want your child to have credit on hand for either emergencies or regular usage and/or build a credit history while in college, the best way to go about it is to add your child to one of your accounts as an authorized user. Make sure the card you choose actually will report on the child’s behalf to the credit bureaus. Nearly 25% of college students now also have prepaid cards in their wallets. This might solve the budgeting/emergency problem, but not the credit score issue – as prepaid card history isn’t reported to the credit bureaus.

  • Talk to Your Child About Getting a Part-Time Job

The money they’re undoubtedly going to spend on a college campus – like anywhere else – looks far more valuable when they’ve actually earned it.  If there’s room in your child’s schedule, it might be a good idea to investigate a part-time job that’s manageable.

*Article Source Courtesy of Fortune.com by Jean Chatzky

*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the Bronze Tier. Click here to view full Rewards First program details, and here to view the Tier Level Comparison Chart. Accounts for children age 13 and under are excluded from this program.

How to Plan for Your Child’s Financial Future

Piggybank family isolatedIn this economy and time period, every parent shares a mutual fear. You think to yourself, “What if my son or daughter isn’t financially stable in their lifetime?” You may be nervous that your child will not be able to pay off college loans or purchase a home when they are older. You might also be worried that your child will struggle to meet car payments, or that they won’t be able to save up money in case of emergencies or for when they grow older.

Read the tips below to learn how you can relieve your fears and help prepare your children for their financial future.

  • Teach financial responsibility. It’s natural to fear that your children will take on too much debt or be unprepared for financial emergencies when they reach adulthood. But you don’t have to wait until they make a mistake to prepare them to be financially responsible. It’s important to remember that it’s never too early to start talking to kids about money and saving. When your kids are young, you’ll want to start with simple conversations about money (sharing tips about your purchase decisions with them when you shop), and as they get older introducing more complex money matters (such as the value of having an emergency fund and saving for unexpected events).
  • Use an allowance as an educational tool. An allowance is an ideal way to teach about responsible spending and saving. Provide your children with the opportunity to save and spend their allowance as they please (with some guidance). This flexibility will allow them to learn early on that spending money as fast as they earn it can have consequences. Depending on the age and maturity of your child, you may choose to share with them a financial mistake you made in the past and how you recovered from it.
  • Plan for college. As college tuition increases, many parents worry about how their children will afford to attend, or how you as a parent can possibly save enough to pay for your child’s college education. As parents, consider beginning to save into a 529 Plan early in your child’s life. When it comes time to make college decisions, help your child evaluate the tuition and other college expenses (travel home, club dues, entertainment costs, etc.) for each college he or she is considering. Make sure to educate yourself on current student loan lending practices and options and help your child determine a realistic amount of student loan debt he or she can take on if necessary.
  • Prepare for life’s big purchases. Even for young adults with a responsible mindset, a lack of financial knowledge can be detrimental for large purchases like a car or home. As a parent, you can offset this concern by being open to discuss these things as your child grows older and begins managing their own money.
  • Reframe your money mindset. Changing the way you think about money can go a long way to alleviating your financial fears for your children and, at the same time, help your children learn to make smart financial decisions. The real question you should ask isn’t, “Can we afford this?” but rather, “Do we need this, and if so, is this the best deal we can get on it, and should we wait and buy it when we have saved the money for it?” These may seem like small differences, but they aren’t. How our children think about money will make a huge difference in their ability to wisely manage it and consequentially will have a huge impact on their quality of life.

Visit First Financial’s website resources tab to view a list of free financial calculators and resources that you and your children can utilize to help save for college and future big ticket purchases like a car, home, and how to save money.

Join us on Thursday, August 7th, for First Financial’s free seminar on this very subject – teaching your children about finances. The seminar will be held at the credit union’s Wall Office on Route 34 at 6pm. Space is limited so we recommend that you register beforehand.

For more information and to register online, click here.

 Article courtesy of Daily Finance Online, by Michele Lerner