First Financial Hosts Student Run LIFE Fair at Jackson High Schools

Press Release

(Pictured above: First Financial staff members and students from the Jackson Academy of Business teach fellow students about the financial realities of life on June 2nd at Jackson Memorial High School).

Freehold, N.J. – On May 24th and June 2nd, First Financial Federal Credit Union held the first student run LIFE™ (Learning Independent Financial Education) financial reality fair event at both Jackson Liberty and Memorial High Schools with their Jackson Academy of Business (JAB) students. While the credit union has hosted financial reality fairs in the past, this fair was actually staffed by high school students, who sat behind each of the financial tables and worked with other students to help plan their financial future. Approximately 160 students at each school participated in this hands-on version of the “game of life,” during which they were required to make on-the-spot financial decisions.

The LIFE™ Fair consists of a full day hands-on experience where students, after identifying their career choice and starting salaries, are provided a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food. Once the students visit all the booths, they balance their budget and sit down with a financial counselor to review their expenses and get a “financial reality check.” At the student run fairs, First Financial staff members worked at the financial review tables with each of the participating students to provide insight.

In regard to the school’s experience with their first ever student run LIFE™ Fair, Laurie Shupin, Jackson Liberty teacher and the high school’s JAB coordinator stated, “The students felt it was an excellent learning experience and became more knowledgeable of the subject matter as the day progressed.  They are looking forward to more presentations and would love to extend it to the fall and spring semesters.” Laura Fecak, Jackson Memorial teacher and JAB coordinator stated, “The LIFE Fair was a great opportunity for all of our students involved.  It was an eye opening experience for the Financial Literacy students that came through to get a dose of reality, connecting classroom concepts to real life situations.  As well as, for the Jackson Academy of Business students that got to act as the sales representatives in a variety of situations (housing, transportation, technology, furniture, etc.).”

While the LIFE™ Fair was certainly full of temptations, the students had to spend their money wisely while being able to save and budget themselves for the future – while also enjoying everything life has to offer. First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan, concluded, “Our mission for our first student run LIFE™ Fair was to help the students understand the value of money and how to manage their money, so as they grow as an adult they’ll become more financially responsible. The student run fair was able to show the high school students even more about the financial realities of the real world. Our credit union puts a high priority on financial education, after all – that’s how First Financial began 81 years ago, with a group of schoolteachers in Asbury Park.”

(Pictured above: Jackson Liberty LIFE Fair).

Additional photos from the event can be seen on First Financial’s Facebook page. To inquire about or set-up a LIFE™ Fair for a Monmouth or Ocean County, NJ school or business – please contact the Business Development Department at 732.312.1421, 732.312.1426, or email business@firstffcu.com.

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4 Healthy Money Moves to Teach Your Kids

Cute little girl is putting dollars in purse, isolated over white

Many parents underestimate just how many things they have to teach a child. From the early basics of manners and potty training to more advanced things, such as having empathy and how to deal with hard life situations, the list goes on and on. That’s why many people neglect areas like financial training.

What else should parents be teaching their kids in regard to finances? Here are four lessons everyone should learn and pass on to their children.

1. Give Every Dollar a Job

Kids need to learn that every dollar needs a purpose from early on. This can be taught when your children get an allowance and birthday money. A portion should go to savings, giving, and spending.

2. Say No to Impulse Buying

Saying “no” to kids when they want something in the store is hard, but it’s disastrous if a child gets used to impulsive buying. Instead, help children come up with a savings goal for a particular item. If they are saving $50 for a special toy, then they need to know that $2 impulse buys on candy or smaller toys will ultimately delay their saving goal and make them less happy.

3. Learn How to Comparison Shop

Teaching your child how to take the time to do research will help their money go further. A new tablet might cost $250, but if they shop eBay or Amazon, they can get a refurbished model for half the price.

Along with comparing prices, teach kids to look up reviews on items. It’s awful to pay a lot of money for an item that doesn’t work like it is advertised. Taking time to research the product beforehand can prevent wasted dollars.

4. Learn How to Bounce Back from Mistakes

Even though you want to equip your child with financial wisdom, there is a good chance they will still make silly money mistakes. That is okay. It’s especially important for kids to make money mistakes now, when only a few dollars are at stake, rather than later when much more money is at risk.

If your child is insistent on buying that low-quality toy or wasting their savings at the arcade, then let them try it. Hopefully they will learn that spending money in this manner doesn’t make them as happy as they thought it would.

The best way to teach your kids to be financially wise is to be an example for them. Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about your finances or about money mistakes you made when you were younger too. Your experience is extremely valuable, and not just to you.

Article Source: Ashley Eneriz for MoneyNing.com

4 Ways to Be a Good Financial Role Model for Your Children

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Your children may not always look like they’re listening, but they’re certainly watching. That’s why it’s important to make sure your actions line up with what you say, especially when it comes to managing your money. Robin Taub, chartered accountant and author of A Parent’s Guide to Raising Money-Smart Kids, said the key to raising financially aware children is to lead by example. “The first step to teaching kids to be money smart is to be a good financial model. We want to be able to lead by example. Our kids are watching and learning from us and they are aware of both our positive and negative behavior around money,” said Taub. Are your actions lining up with your words? Here’s how to be a good financial role model for your children.

1. Shop responsibly.
Show your child how to shop responsibly. Both of you can start by taking stock of what you already have so that unnecessary purchases aren’t made. Once you’re ready to shop, work together on creating a shopping list. Demonstrate how to search for sales and find coupons. Refrain from purchasing items that are not on the shopping list (unless it’s truly necessary) so that your child can understand the importance of exercising self-control at a store. Impulse spending is not only bad for your budget but also sets a bad example.

2. Take your child to work.
Let your child see that you have to work for money. Demonstrate the importance of a strong work ethic and the value of contributing your talents in exchange for a paycheck. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is a great opportunity to show your child what you do at work. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is typically held in April each year.

3. Budget together.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be a solitary act. Instead of balancing your monthly budget alone, invite your child to watch you go through the process. Explain how to take stock of how much money is coming in and going out of the household for that month, and how you plan your spending so you don’t run out of money. This will help your child see that your pockets are not an endless source of cash. It takes careful planning and discipline to make sure you’re living at or below your means. If your child receives an allowance, this is an additional opportunity to show him or her how to budget and spend responsibly.

4. Pay bills together.
Even something as mundane as paying bills can be a teachable moment. Show your child how to write a check and balance a check register. There are plenty of downloadable and printable check registers. If you prefer, you can also keep track of your banking activity on an Excel spreadsheet. Also explain the importance of paying bills on time and in full and how late payments can impact your credit score.

*Original article source courtesy of Sheiresa Ngo at Money and Career Cheat Sheet.

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