Give your student a head start with financial literacy lessons at home

In the blink of an eye your high school student will be in the real world? Going to work. Buying groceries. Paying bills. Participating in all that grown-up stuff!

Financial literacy is not really taught in school. Not many schools have classes to teach financial basics, and if they do they’re often not a required class.  Fortunately, as a parent you can take advantage of the time under your roof and make sure your student understands the building blocks of personal finance. Here are some lessons you can use to help your kids learn some financial basics for the road ahead.

How to build a household budget

This is a key part of staying in top financial health. Walk them through basic budgeting, using a scenario for a recent college grad living on their own.  This budget worksheet includes some handy guidelines. Start with their net pay (either hypothetical or literal, if they have a job), deducting common things like taxes, health insurance, and savings. Then subtract the monthly necessities like rent, utilities, data, and loan payments. Finally, show what is left for extras, such as pets, entertainment, shopping, or gym memberships. It’s a lot to digest, but it’s worthwhile so they can get a view of what’s coming up in the future.

What is compounding interest?

It’s likely they’ll be taking out loans to pay for their college education. In 2016, the average college student graduated with $35,000 in student loan debt. Enter that amount into an online loan calculator that can show principal and interest. Show them how much interest they can save if they pay a little extra each month, and don’t forget to talk about the importance of paying on time. Or discuss ways they can avoid student loan debt all together!

Put it all into practice

Bring home the lessons with some real-life practice. Allow them to plan a weekend family trip, giving them a set amount to cover gas, food, hotel, and activities. For the next big-ticket item they want, give them a cash loan and set up a payment plan with a small amount of interest. If they want a car, offer matching funds if they can save a few thousand dollars.

How to read a bank statement.

This is a digital, mobile age, so today’s high school graduates probably won’t look at too many paper bank statements in their life. Whether they’re reading a monthly statement or checking an app daily, however, it remains vitally important that they understand what they’re looking it. Get them in the habit of reviewing their accounts regularly and

How to build a positive credit history.

It may be tempting to simply teach your children to avoid credit altogether, but having no credit history is essentially the same as having a bad credit history. Instead, young adults should understand how credit works, how to use credit responsibly, and why it’s important to keep your credit accounts in good standing.

How to ask for help. When you’re young, some problems solve themselves. Sometimes you really can close your eyes and someone older will come along and fix whatever’s broken. It doesn’t work like that when you’re an adult.  When you turn away from problems in the adult world, those problems only get worse.  Unfortunately, young adults – caught between those two worlds – have a habit of closing their eyes when they really can’t afford to. Before it ever gets to that point make sure that your children know that all problems have solutions. Show them the potential pitfalls of being young and inexperienced, but also show them where to go when they inevitably end up falling into one of those financial traps.

Great money habits will give your student a strong start in life. When it’s time to open that first checking account, a Kasasa account at allU.S. Credit Union is the perfect option.  Before your son or daughter leaves home, make sure they know what accounts they have, how to view those accounts, and how to get money out of those accounts. It sounds simple (it is simple), but don’t take it for granted.

You can’t teach your kids everything. You can’t prepare them for every possibility. But you can give them the basic tools and guidance they need to make smart choices and minimize the damage when their financial choices aren’t so smart.

How To Keep Kids Motivated Through the End of the School Year

After months of homework assignments, projects, PTA events, science and math fairs, after-school activities and report cards, we pretty much agree on one thing: everyone just wants it all to be over.   Let’s face it, warmer weather, longer days, and the promise of a lazy summer all make it difficult to think about things like geometry. So how can we encourage our kids to focus on their studies through that last day of class?

How are kids supposed to stay focused in the classroom when the warm weather and outdoors are calling their name? How can parents be expected to muster up a shred of enthusiasm for the umpteenth (and hopefully final) diorama project? What else is left for an overworked teacher to say in the weekly class newsletter?

Several weeks of school remain, and in the immortal words of Lenny Kravitz, “It ain’t over till it’s over!” Here are some ideas to help parents motivate kids until that last day of school:

Support the teachers

The best educators know that keeping content fresh and engaging is one of the best ways to hold student interest, so many plan special end-of-the-year projects and activities. Be enthusiastic about these project (and insist that they be completed), and your attitude will rub off on your kids.

Maintain your routine

What’s the worst thing about Daylight Saving Time? Trying to explain to a child that even though it was dark when she went to bed yesterday at 8 p.m., and the sun is shining today, you’re really not trying to trick her into an earlier bedtime. It may be tempting to let routines slide as summer approaches, but keeping the same schedule can help everyone stay focused. Maintain meal, bed, and wakeup times and stick to established routines.

Be visual

Get a large wall calendar and hang it somewhere everyone will see it daily, and note all-important dates on it. Not only will this help parents and kids see when end-of-year projects and paperwork are due, it can also serve as a reminder of just how little time is left before summer vacation arrives!

Count it down… way down

Now that you have that cool calendar, be sure to “X” off every day that passes. At the end of each week, treat yourself and the kids to a mini-victory celebration. It could be as simple as picking up smoothies on the way home from school, or a weekly at-home dance party to celebrate getting through one more week. Commemorating the end of each week will help everyone stay focused on the fact that the end is in sight.

Take it outside

There is no point in trying to ignore the beautiful weather that’s making kids restless, distracted, and eager to be outdoors. So instead, work it to your advantage and get kids outside as much as possible. Carry their homework assignments to the backyard picnic table. Serve their breakfast and dinner on the deck or patio. Be sure to find 10 minutes every day to just let them run around and play outside after they’ve done the things they have to do.

Bribe without shame

There’s no shame in motivating children — maybe with a trip to that theme park they’ve been begging to visit. Rewards give children something definable and tangible to work toward and can help them stay focused and working hard as the school year draws to a close.

Look ahead to Summer

When you can see your kids starting to lose focus, take a break from anything school-related and start making plans for the summer. Talk about summer camps or family vacations or the lazy days you’ll spend at the local pool. Then, get back to work. Your children will slowly learn that, while it’s normal to be excited for summer vacation, it’s essential to prioritize education as well.

Before you know it, the school year will end and summer fun will begin. With some creativity and focus, you and your kids can stay motivated until then.

April is National Credit Union Youth Month™

During the month of April, Credit Unions around the country will guide their young members down the path toward savings goals and financial education in recognition of National Credit Union Youth Month™.  This year’s theme, “Give A Hoot About Savings,” encourages kids to embrace financial responsibility and the unique power of credit unions to provide financial security.  It also positions credit unions as a source of financial strength.  Even after April has passed credit unions, like allU.S., continue to act as high-energy health clubs, where staff continues to serve as personal trainers to get kids and their parents in top financial shape.                                                                                                                                         

Are your kids on the right track to financial independence? 

For many of today’s youth and young adults, the weakest link lies in learning the basics of financial management. According to a 2014 survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Junior Achievement USA (2014 Teens and Personal Finance Survey), 40% of teens do not have a savings account, checking account, or debit or credit card, and 59% of teens do not have money management classes offered at their schools.

Achieving economic prosperity and independence is challenging, and it’s especially hard for young people who’ve never learned how to manage money.

allU.S. Credit Union is here to help you launch the youth in your life toward financial independence, and here’s how:

Join. Initially, open a savings account at allU.S. for each child in your family. As soon as your children are old enough, have them fill out deposit and withdrawal slips. Guide teenagers through using a debit card and tracking transactions.

Bank & ATM Visits.  Visiting the bank or the local ATM is a perfect way to explain where money comes from.  Explain that banks don’t just give out money but it’s a place to keep the money they’ve earned.  Call allU.S. and arrange a tour of the branch to show how money is stored and dispensed.

Keep Track of Their Money. Show children the importance of knowing where their money is going.  Have them keep track of their money in a notebook or on the computer.  You can even make a file where they can organize their store receipts and bank statements.

Build a Budget.  Have your child sit down with you and generate a monthly budget.  Explain the reasons to keep track of all monthly expenses and then see how much money is left over to either save or make a purchase they want instead of need.  As their skills improve, give them challenges—such as finding a better cell phone plan, calculating the total monthly cost of owning a car, or sticking to a budget for back-to-school or holiday spending.

Coach.  Remind your children to ask for help when they need it. And turn to allU.S. Credit Union when you want that help. Our tradition of service and philosophy of self-help make allU.S. and all credit unions are natural partners in pursuing financial security. We’re here to help. For more information, contact us.

Teach Your Children Financial Independence

Are your kids on the right track to financial independence?

For many of today’s young adults, the weakest link lies in learning the basics. According to a 2014 survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Junior Achievement USA (2014 Teens and Personal Finance Survey), 40% of teens do not have a savings account, checking account, or debit or credit card, and 59% of teens do not have money management classes offered at their schools.

Achieving economic prosperity is difficult, and it’s especially hard for young people who’ve never learned how to manage money.

allU.S. Credit Union is ideally positioned to respond because we believe in the power of education. We’re here to help you launch the youth in your life toward financial independence, and here’s how:

Join. For starters, open an allU.S. savings account for each child in your family. Guide teenagers through using a debit card and tracking transactions.

Share. Include your children in household money discussions. Show them how you budget income and expenses. As their skills improve, give them challenges—such as finding a better cell phone plan, calculating the total monthly cost of owning a car, or sticking to a budget for back-to-school or holiday spending.

Show.  Show your children how to live within their means by setting a good example first.  Stop buying things you don’t need.  Kids learn by osmosis.  If they see you doing something, they will copy.  You need to show them what smart buying is all about.  You can’t teach good personal finance if you don’t at least try to practice it yourself.

Teach.  Let your children know that automating their money and bills is one of the best ways to keep their finances in top shape, maintain stellar credit, curb overspending, and not stress out about paying bills on time.  Automation means you siphon your income into various channels each month such as into a savings account, an investment account, a credit card, and finally your bills.  This method forces you to “pay yourself first” by saving and investing, and then pay all your bills on time.

Coach. Remind your children to ask for help when they need it. And turn to allU.S. when you want help. Our tradition of service and philosophy of self-help make allU.S. Credit Union and all credit unions a natural partner in pursuing financial security.  Check out the resources on our Member Center.  We are committed to being your financial advocate, providing you the necessary resources to better manage your money and make informed financial choices.

Remember, we’re here to help because working together; we can open the door to a lifetime of opportunities for your children.   

Kids and Money Management

Summer has arrived, and kids everywhere are dealing with a lot of free time. This may be a good opportunity to start teaching money-management skills.  Teaching your children about money may seem like a daunting task. allU.S. Credit Union has put together some simple, age-specific recommendations on how you can teach your children to be financially responsible – before they get their first credit card!

Ages 4-5:

Piggy Bank

Kids are most susceptible to everything you tell them at this age; so make sure you teach them good habits now. Buy them a piggy bank, and give them some money to specifically put into it. If they receive money for gifts, make sure to show them to save some of that as well.

Ages 6-9:

This is a good age to start giving kids an allowance.  A Responsibility Chart is a good way to teach the kids that allowance only comes if you earn it.  There’s never really been a consensus among parents on this issue; should kids make an allowance for helping out around the house, or are chores simply part of family life? If you’re a believer in the former category, consider this Pinterest find from Uncommon Goods. This easy-to-create whiteboard calendar lays out household expectations and what each task is worth. This could be a great money-saving teaching tool for young children!

Set An Allowance Budget

Whether you reward your child for helping with chores, or just simply give them a regular spending allowance, it’s a great idea to set up a budget. Help them realize what kind of “income” they’ll be receiving. If they decide to spend all of it in one shot, let them know that they’ll have to start all over in working toward a bigger purchase. Learning big-life skills starts early!

Saving Is Awesome

Chances are, there’s something important to your family that required saving in order to buy. Maybe it’s a past vacation, a swimming pool or spa, or something along these lines. Explain to your child where these things come from – especially if it’s something they’re enjoying over the summer vacation months!

Take Your Child To The Credit Union

Bring them in to allU.S. Credit Union and help open their own savings accounts, and instruct them to save a certain percentage of their allowance every week. Children in this age range are just starting to care about things like the latest toys and specific clothing brands, and now is a good time to help them learn the value of money.  Here’s a great practical way to slip a money management lesson into regular errands. ATMs can be a little confusing; explain to your child where that money comes from and why you’re withdrawing that particular amount. Added bonus – give them a certain amount that they can “help you” spend on another errand.

Ages 10-12:

Pre-teens are looking for some independence, and getting their first job might be a perfect way to do so. They can mow the neighbor’s lawn, babysit their cousins or paint their grandparents fence. Have them come up with ideas that suit their interests, and propose these moneymaking endeavors to their possible employers. Kids in this age range are ready to learn about the onslaught of credit cards – and how dangerous it can be to spend over the amount of money you know you’ll make to pay off your bill.

Make a Wish List

There aren’t a ton of present-giving holidays during the calendar year, so if your child has a short list of things they really want, have him/her make a list. Find out the cost, and motivate them to save their money to put toward that item. One idea we really like; as they make progress toward saving for what they want, offer to match the cost. Remember, hard work deserves a reward!

Ages 13-19:

Teenagers are old enough to have their own jobs, and can really start to take (guided) control of their financial future. Discuss with your teens the importance of staying on top of credit card debt, and recommend that they start with a checking account and debit card instead. If they DO get a credit card, make it a low-limit card so that you and they can work on budgeting until they get the hang of it.

Teach Practicality

When all is said and done, lots of young adults still find themselves in financial trouble because we live in an ultra-consumer society. With younger children, emphasize that things are not the most important part of life. Having the trendiest clothes, toys, etc. is a lot of fun, but in the long run, many of the things we come to value are imposed on us by what we see on television and in magazines. A certain amount of skepticism when it comes to consumer culture can go a long way in helping kids save money!

These are only a few pretty basic ideas for kids and money management. Is there a way you teach your kids about finances? Leave us a comment and share your ideas!  If you feel like you need some additional help explaining any of these financial topics to your children, bring them by allU.S. Credit Union!   We’re here to support you and your family, just like always!

That’s what makes us Positively Different!