Personal financial problems cause stress. It affects, your well-being, your relationships and your performance at work. Employers, parents and the school system can all play role in supporting people in developing their ability to manage money effectively. Here’s an interesting article about what some employers are doing to help their staff become more comfortable managing their money, and therefore, feel better in life and more productive at work.
The interest paid on outstanding debt is costly, especially for credit cards (ranging from 11% to as high as 20%) if you carry a monthly balance. That’s why it’s important to shift your debt load to lower interest loans and / or pay off your high interest loans first (or better yet, try to avoid carrying a balance at all).
This week I did just that. I used a low-interest line of credit to pay off a 16.99% credit card. If I maintain the same monthly payments that I was making on the credit card, I will save about $570 in interest over the repayment period of about 20 months. (In actuality, however, I will likely reduce my payments on the line of credit and shift that money to paying off my two remaining higher interest credit cards.)
Shifting high interest debt to low-interest debt can be done in a few ways:
1) Apply for a line of credit (which often carries an 7-9% interest rate) and use that to pay off higher interest loans and credit cards.
2) Apply for a debt consolidation loan. This is a loan intended specifically for the paying off existing higher interest debt and consolidating it into a single loan. Like lines of credit, interest on a debt consolidation loan can range from 7-10%. Unlike lines of credit, debt consolidation loans carry a set repayment schedule and often require the borrower to close existing credit cards (i.e., close the account and cut up the card) once they are paid off.
You should always consult a qualified financial services account manager or financial advisor to make sure you choose the option that is right for your specific circumstances.
I would love to hear your success stories around consolidating debt and / or shifting debt to lower interest credit facilities. Please leave a comment below. Your ideas will make a difference in the financial lives of other readers.
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Everyone knows that effective money management involves earning, saving and growing their money. More and more people these days, including this blog, are adding sharing money as an essential aspect of managing your money.
Why is sharing important? It’s about community and making sure no one is left behind. It’s not about giving everything you have away, or about putting yourself and what you want at the back of the line. It is about helping each other out. It feels great to give and to receive and it makes sure no one feels left out or alone.
Ubuntu is About Sharing
I just read a Facebook post that introduced me to the African philosophy of “Ubuntu”. Ubuntu has several translations including, “I am because we are.” It’s a philosophy that recognizes we are all inter-connected. It’s about community and recognizing how important and powerful it is.
Below is a video in which former South African president Nelson Mandela explains his interpretation of Ubuntu. Enjoy, and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.
Over 42 years you learn a thing or two about life, happiness and of course money. I wouldn’t necessarily change how my life has gone, as things tend unfold exactly as they should on some cosmic level. Nonetheless, here are a few “Notes to Self” that could have made the going a little easier. These notes are relevant to money and to quality of life. Here goes…
1) When, as a 17-year-old, I’m told, “Jason, if you invest $100 per month starting now you could retire by the time you’re 45,” LISTEN!
2) Pay off credit cards ASAP. Duuuuhhh… (see #4).
3) There is magic in compounded growth…take advantage of it now.
4) There is trouble in compounded interest…avoid it (see #2).
5) Fear and excitement have similar physical characteristics and feel the same. So, why not just choose excitement?
6) Almost everything is more difficult when left to the last minute… e.g., packing for a trip, getting ready to go out, and yes, saving for retirement.
7) Pick a career I love and stick to it. It’s hard to get anywhere financially when you keep starting over, and therefore never earn more than a starting salary.
8) Live a lifestyle I can afford. Live within my means. If I want “more lifestyle”, generate more means.
9) Don’t quit a steady paying job until my business can pay the bills. Once again…Duuuuuhhh.
10) Go with Georges and Artur to Cuba, and don’t worry about the money. Well chosen spending today can generate great memories for a lifetime.
11) Overnight successes never happen overnight. They are the result of years of effort, failure and persistence.
12) How to live energized: “Be – Do – Have”
13) How to live tired: “Do – Have – Be”
14) How to live poor (and likely bankrupt): “Have – Be – Do”
15) Think-Think-Act … Think-Think-Act … Think-Think-Act … but …
16) …When you’re clear, go for it. Don’t procrastinate. Nike had it right – “Just Do It.”
17) “Purpose” in life can be as simple as enjoying yourself.
18) Learn to trust that little voice that says, “I love this.”
19) Don’t put off until tomorrow what I can do today. It just gives me more to do tomorrow (which is another excuse to put it off for yet another day, or week, or month, or year. Do you see the slippery slope?)
Don’t let it stop there. Add your favourite money “note to self” by leaving a comment below and share this with your friends so they can to.
So just how important are parents in raising kids with strong life-long money management skills?
Although more and more schools are offering some form of financial literacy training for teens, that’s not who teens turn to most when they have questions about money.
Consider the following…
90% of high school students turn to their parents when they need information on their personal finances.
Source: Youth Financial Literacy Landscape (2009)
When forced to choose, students consider their parents to be their most trusted source for information on finances (80%).
Source: Youth Financial Literacy Landscape (2009)
A majority of Canadian parents (78%) agree that teaching children financial skills is essential. But less than half have actually taught their children about managing and investing their money.
Source: CSA Study Investor Index (2009)
That’s why Invest-Ucation’s programs are as much about talking with parents about healthy money management skills as it is speaking directly with students. I believe educating youth about money is key for empowering today’s teens to live the life they choose and for creating communities and indeed economies that are healthy, vibrant and prosperous.
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Have a great day!!!
This article by the Globe and Mail‘s personal finance columnist Rob Carrick raises some great questions about whether or not young people should take on large amounts of debt to pay for their wedding. Mr. Carrick writes,
Young adults getting married may still have student debts, they’re likely making entry-level salaries and they’re carrying massive lists of stuff they want after years of student austerity. Now, along comes a credit card seemingly designed to help people afford a nice wedding. “It’s almost telling us to put your wedding on MasterCard,” a reader of this column recently noted in an e-mail to which he attached the MyProject brochure.
Borrowing to pay for your own wedding is a bad idea. As I note in my new book, How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents: The Young Person’s Complete Guide to Financial Empowerment, big wedding debts can hold young couples back from buying a home, starting to save for retirement and other important financial milestones. Whether it’s parents or young adults paying, the cost of a wedding should come all or mostly from saving, economizing and not letting the wedding industry get its message about conspicuous consumption into your head.
-Rob Carrick, “Borrowing to pay for the wedding: A proposal to decline”, Globe and Mail, p. B15 (April 26, 2012)
Taking on $5000, $10,000, or even $20,000 in wedding-related debt will hold you and your finances back for years beyond the one memorable day it paid for. Putting that money into a home, your retirement or even a small business will pay you back in the long run.
Your wedding shouldn’t be remembered as a financial weight. It should be the first step in a new life that has you and your partner create something amazing that lasts a lifetime.
As Mr. Carrick points out there are other ways of paying for your wedding. For instance, a couple weeks ago some friends of mine who are getting married this spring held a Jack and Jill party. This casual “reception” in-advance of the wedding had guests pay a small fee for tickets. The money raised covered the cost of the event and provided the couple with some funds to put toward wedding expenses.
Be creative in financing your wedding. Don’t let the prospect of paying off a huge debt sully what will otherwise be one of the most important days of your life.
Do you have any other creative ideas for paying for a wedding, or for having an amazing low-cost wedding? Feel free to share them by leaving a comment below.
Parents are perhaps the most important source of financial advice and education for teens and youth. Yet many parents don’t feel qualified to talk to their kids about money. Financial problems are also the leading cause of divorce, which can cause long-term problems for the children who are caught in the middle. Here are a couple resources from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada that can help parents manage their own finances and thereby set a great example for their kids.
Expert Guest Contributor
Written by Pam Whitlock -
Parent, Educator and Owner of MoneyTrail.net
Part of learning to handle money in a responsible manner is also learning how to be charitable and giving in nature. I would venture a guess that no parent wants their child to become a miser and act like Ebenezer Scrooge, but parents may worry that if they focus too much on financial concepts their child might become overly fanatic about money. Striking a balance between managing their own money and helping others is yet another skill that takes practice.
As with many money management concepts, there are differing opinions and methods. The key is to find the approach or combination of approaches that works in your family and that matches your family’s values. I have seen two fundamental approaches to getting kids involved in charitable giving.
One idea is to have your child divide all of their income into portions, such as a Save portion, a Spend portion and a Share portion. The amount of money that is placed into the Share portion would be allocated for a charity donation. For example, if your child gets $5 per week for allowance, you might split it into $2 for Savings, $2 for Spending and $1 for Sharing. If you child does not get an allowance, you could also use a percentage method for the money that they earn from extra jobs, such as 40% Savings, 40% Spending and 20% Sharing.
- Plant produce and donate the harvest to a local food bank.
- Pick up litter at a park.
- Make treats for a local senior home or a fire/police department.
- Collect travel toiletries and donate to a local shelter.
- Make a gift basket for someone in need.
- Make a book on tape to contribute to a local daycare center or pediatric patients.
- Make bookmarks and leave them in a basket at your local library.
- Have a neighborhood book drive. Donate books to a local shelter or day care.
- Make fleece blankets for children’s hospitals.
- Offer to wash a neighbor’s dog or car!
- Collect items for care packages to be sent to the troops.
Here’s an opportunity for you to share…As a teen what are some cool ways you and your friends share money to help others? As a parent or teacher, how do you teach your kids or students about the importance of giving? Your ideas might spark the creativity of other readers and make a world of difference for other people.
For more great resources from Pam and her husband Frank visit MoneyTrail.net today.
This column – “Economic Recovery Leaving Middle Class Behind” – points to an important trend that makes getting an advanced education so important for youth. Setting aside for a moment the ethical questions surrounding the disappearance of the middle class and the growing wage gap, the fact is there appears to be a trend in which the labour market is becoming more polarised between the so-called “lousy” jobs and the so-called “lovely” jobs. The broad swath of, well, “likeable” jobs that sit somewhere in the middle are becoming fewer and further between thanks to technology. According to the editorial, these jobs are gone for good. Here’s the link:
Needless to say the lovely jobs pay more, offer more security and provide greater opportunity for advancement. These jobs also require advanced education of some sort. It’s so important for students and parents to understand this and to plan early. A university professor speaks directly to this point at about the 15 minute 10 second mark of the following video. (Feel free to watch the entire video if you choose. It makes some good observations about education in Canada.)
Parents are the leading source of financial education and understanding for most young people. When couples work as a team financially they are awesome… probably the best…examples for their kids to follow.
Here’s a video from the Globe and Mail’s personal finance columnist, Rob Carrick, about how couples can be a team in managing their money. Enjoy, and please comment below this post if you have any thoughts or experience to share.
If you’re a young couple, here’s a link to a Globe and Mail video about a few things to consider when you’re planning your life with that special someone. The most important point the video makes is how few couples at any age actually have “the money talk”, a talk that gets them on the same page about what they want, about their attitudes on debt and spending, and about the benefits of combining their finances or keeping them separate, amongst other topics.
Enjoy the video and comment below this post if you have any thoughts or experiences to share:
Tony Robbins once said,
“One moment is all it takes to change your life forever. One insight. One conversation. One decision. One idea. One step.”
When I was 17, I had such a moment. I was in the back seat of my parent’s car, and my step-Dad said,
“Jason, if you saved and invested $25 each week starting now you could retire by the time you’re my age,” (he was in his mid to late-40′s at the time).
The math might have been a little off (saving $25 per week for 30 years with an average annual return of 8% would have created a nest egg of $162,546.56… clearly not enough to retire on). The idea, however, was sound – starting to save early in life can make a huge difference to your personal finances down the road, to your peace of mind and to the opportunities that are open to you (e.g., travel, buying a home, starting a business, taking a job you like rather than one simply because it pays the bills).
Had I listened to Dad, and made saving and investing a part of my life sooner, I could have avoided many of the financial ups and downs I experienced (including personal bankruptcy several years ago).
In my experience, when the money isn’t handled, you are not in control. You are forced to respond to life’s events rather than create them. You end up settling for the life you get rather than living the life you want. Or as Tony Robbins put it,
“Transformation happens at a moment when we’re no longer willing to settle for what comes to us in the moment, to settle for what’s ‘good enough’.”
As a youth, take the initiative to learn about money management today and start using what you learn now. If you’re a parent or educator pass on what you know to young people, or get more information and pass this deeper understanding on to them. Here’s a couple great places to start:
Have a great day and Be Money Smart!
My brother said something to me several years ago that has stuck with me. He was considering a career move that involved a choice between working more and making more money, or working fewer hours and earning less money but having a better quality of life.
He summed up his decision in one sentence. He simply said, “I want to work to live, not live to work.” With that he left a thriving law firm to join a two-man firm in a small mountain town in Alberta.
It occurs to me that a similar philosophy is healthy when it comes to managing your money. Rather than living to get your finances in order, getting your finances in order today can help you live the life you want in the short and long term. Put another way, “Plan to live, don’t live to plan.” I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with making money, and making lots of it, if that’s what you want. The point is that knowing what you want – education, starting your own business, travel, a nice house, savings set aside, whatever it is for you – and planning how to get it makes it more likely that you will succeed.
And the earlier you start planning your finances the less likely it is that future financial challenges will de-rail you or force you into making life choices based simply on financial considerations.
This is the opportunity I see for today’s teenagers. Learning how to budget, save and even start investing small amounts in a RRSP will pay big dividends in the future in terms of peace of mind and being able to take advantage of the opportunities that will inevitably present themselves.
Dream your dreams. Plan early. Go for it. Be money smart.