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Every Dollar Counts!

Teach your child to keep track of their money. It reduces impulse spending.

Finances shouldn't cause headaches!

Practicing money skills when young can lead to stress-free, responsible finances as an adult.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kids, Chores & Money

Image by Brittany Whitlock

There are many opinions about paying children and teens for chores.  Many people are opposed to paying for tasks that help run the family household.  Other folks use money to encourage kids to complete the tasks and compare it to getting a paycheck as an adult.  I personally don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this age-old dilemma.  I think each family has to find the method and theory that works best for them.  

Here at the Whitlock household, we have been using a combination of expected chores and optional paid jobs with our four kids for many years.   We have chores that the kids are required to do just because their last name is Whitlock.  There are other jobs that we will pay them to do when they want to earn extra money.  The assignment of the chores and the amount of money paid for the optional jobs will vary depending on the age of the child who is doing the task. (Our kids range in age from 8 – 18.)  

Here are the most common chores and jobs for our kids.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pam's Picks: College Thoughts

I have mentioned recently that my oldest child, Brittany, will be starting college next year and we are in the midst of college selection right now.  For this week's "Pam's Picks", I want to highlight some excellent articles and resources for college research.

Money Saving Stories:  How We're Paying Cash for College by Julie Mayfield on www.notmadeofmoney.com 
Graduating without debt is a goal most college students and families have.  It is never too early to get started.  Julie Mayfield shares her family's journey on the quest for debt-free college.  Read the article...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What are Kids and Teens Thankful For?

Created at www.wordle.net

There are moments when I get really tired my kids asking,  "Can I have (fill in the blank here)?"   Or, better yet, "Mom, can you take me/give me/do this?"  This week, I decided to conduct a very unscientific study about what kids and teens are actually thankful for, as opposed to what they actually want.  I asked family, friends and MoneyTrail users for their help.  The kids that answered ranged in age from 3 to 22.  The results were:
  • #1 Response:  Family
  • #2 Response:  Friends
The rest of the responses were (in no particular order):

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving vs. Entitlement

Photo by Brittany Whitlock
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  There isn’t the pressure to find the perfect gift or throw the biggest backyard barbeque.  It is a time to enjoy being with family and to take a moment to be thankful for the good things in your life.  I have read many articles recently about the sense of entitlement and what a parent should to do to make sure their kids avoid this “affluenza” (term borrowed from Clark Howard!).  I think that one of the best ways to teach and model gratefulness is to create family traditions that honor this quality.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pam's Picks: Teaching Kids about Money

Each week, I spend a lot of time reading new articles and blogs about kids, teens, money and financial literacy.  I'll even pop over to YouTube and see what's going on over there. In "Pam's Picks", I will share some great articles and videos with you.

Teaching your kids about money involves more than learning to count pennies and dollars.  It encompasses topics such as saving, living within your means, investing, and avoiding impulse purchases.  I ran across several marvelous articles this week that put a new spin on how to teach kids about money.

8 Habits that Separate Doers from Dreamers by Dan Kadlec on www.moneyland.time.com
Are you a Doer or a Dreamer?  Dan shares 8 habits that can lead to reaching retirement goals and raising money-smart kids.  Read the article...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The College Trail: Finding the Right College

Vanderbilt University
Our oldest child, Brittany, is a senior in high school this year.  We are entering the world of college selection and it has changed a bit since “a few” years ago when I was making this decision.  Since we are right, smack in the middle of this journey, I thought I would start chronicling our experiences, from a parent’s perspective.  I’ll share with you things that we learn and also share articles from the experts that we find helpful.

Finding the right college is an exciting yet daunting task.  Brittany is still in the midst of finding the perfect fit but we have already learned many things about selecting colleges.  Here are nine areas that we have found thus far to consider when selecting a college.

  1. Cost:  Ok…this wasn’t the first thing on Brittany’s mind but it was definitely on my mind (and Frank’s mind!).  Most colleges post their estimated cost of attendance on their websites.  The estimated cost of attendance includes tuition, room and board, books & supplies, travel expenses, living expenses, etc.  Basically, it’s an overall dollar amount of what it will cost per year to go to the school.  Be ready for some sticker shock.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pam's Picks: Financial Literacy in the Schools

Each week, I spend a lot of time reading new articles and blogs about kids, teens, money and financial literacy.  I'll even pop over to YouTube and see what's going on over there. In "Pam's Picks", I will share some great articles and videos with you.

One of the current topics of conversation in the financial literacy world is whether or not financial literacy should be taught in the public schools.  While I think parents and schools should work together to ensure that our kids learn money management skills, I also believe that there is room in the standard curriculum for financial literacy.  There were several great articles this week about teaching Financial Literacy in the schools.

Hey, Education Secretary Duncan, Let’s Teach Kids About Money (Not Just Talk About It) by Dan Kadlec on www.moneyland.time.com 
"Speaking to a White House advisory group this week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan highlighted the need for schools to begin teaching students about personal finance as early as kindergarten. He’s dead on. But what’s he doing about it?"  Read the story...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Touring the Federal Reserve in Atlanta


A few months ago, we decided to visit the Federal Reserve in Atlanta for a tour of their Visitor’s Center and Monetary Museum.  It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon with our boys and we learned a few things about money in the process.  Here are some of the highlights of our trip:

  • Cash Cow:  It’s hard to miss the cash cow in the lobby.  Painted by Cheryl Myrbo in 2003 for an art exhibition, it was later purchased by the Federal Reserve.  This cow is huge and I really wanted to get a photo of it, but pictures are not allowed inside the building.  The image above is a postcard from the Federal Reserve that I scanned.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Review: Clark Smart Parents, Clark Smart Kids

Clark Howard is a nationally recognized radio-show host and bestselling book author.  He is generally regarded as a money-saving expert and his motto is “Save More, Spend Less and Avoid Getting Ripped Off.”  Clark is also a father of three and combined his money savvy skills with his parenting experience to create Clark Smart Parents, Clark Smart Kids.  This book was originally published in 2005 but his advice and thoughts are timeless for any parent who is concerned with teaching their child money management skills.

The opening sentence conveys the theme of the book.  “Teaching young children about money produces a trifecta of benefits:  it helps them in school, it helps them with values, and it helps you save money.”

Clark Smart Parents, Clark Smart Kids is divided into sections by age:  kids, teens, adult children and your parents.  There is also a section with worksheets, activities and resources.  For the purposes of this blog, I am only going to share with you the highlights of the kids and teens sections.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Accepting the Yakezie Challenge

The Yakezie is one of world's largest and most sophisticated network of personal finance and lifestyle bloggers.  We, here at the MoneyTrail Blog, are striving to become a member of this elite personal finance network and have entered the Yakezie Challenge.  To become a member, we are committed to blogging 2 - 4 times per week and growing our reading audience.  Our goal is to bring you meaningful content related to kids, teens and personal finance --- from preschool to college. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Moving Beyond "What do You want to be When You Grow Up?"

If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I could take a really snazzy vacation!  It is one of the more common phrases that adults (myself included) ask kids.  It starts when they are in preschool and continues until they are in high school.  Then the questions often change to “Where are you going to college?” and “What are you majoring in?”. 

We have an opportunity to move beyond these basic questions with our children and get them thinking about deeper concepts --- careers that fit their personalities and talents, goals (both personal and professional ) for different stages of their lives and steps they can take at a young age to get closer to their dreams.  I am not saying that we should sit down our 8 year old and subject him to an intense job interview and personality exam.  However, over time through normal conversations and everyday life, we could plant the seeds of thought so that when our teens are ready to leave the nest, they will have more specific ideas, goals and plans.