Hope for your financial life and beyond

What Is a Savings Account and Does My Child Need One?

As part of my return to blogging after a brief absence, I’m going to be writing a series of posts that answer some basic money questions.  Even for seasoned consumers, it’s important to return to the basics from time to time, if nothing more than to solidify in our minds why we do these things. So today I’m going to be answering the question what is a savings account?

And I’ll be answering some FAQs at the end – one in particular about savings accounts for children.

Savings 101

what is a savings accountOther than spend, there is no more basic activity to do with money than to save it. People save for many reasons. But the main purpose of saving is to have a store of money for needs, for wants or for emergencies.

You can save money anywhere. If you are like most people, you probably have a small amount of cash at your home. But the majority of people who want to save large amounts of cash do so by opening a savings account at local bank.

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How Much We Pay Our Kids For Chores

If you’ve ever wondered how much to pay kids for chores you are not alone. It’s a question my wife and I have wrestled with again and again. I’ve mentioned before why we don’t give our kids allowances. I’m not giving them money just for existing. It seems like that is what an allowance implies. Kids need to feel the burden of work so they can experience the joy of its rewards.

how much to pay kids for choresIn addition to earning some money, doing chores around the house is teaching them responsibility. The home is where they should begin to learn basic life skills. When I was in school, I knew some college freshman who couldn’t do their own laundry. My oldest two children have been doing that since they were nine.

Over the years my wife and I have adjusted how much we pay our kids for chores. The amounts started out small and increased as they got older. Now that our oldest has turned 16, we are looking at another radical change. Before I get to that, here is some background information that helped us decide on how much to pay kids for chores.

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3 Reasons Kids Should Watch Every Moment of Olympic Coverage

Today my kids will drag themselves out of bed and head back to school. Unfortunately, our back to school season is clashing with another major world event happening right now – the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. So there will be no more 10-hour, lying on the couch veg-out sessions, flipping back and forth to the many channels of Olympic coverage.

I have to admit I love the summer Olympics. I can do without the opening and closing ceremonies, which I know many people love. But I’ll take anything and everything else that happens. The Olympics are a sports enthusiasts dream.

My love affair with the Olympics started in 1984 when they were hosted by Los Angeles. I was 11 years old and still remember being in awe of the athletic performances. If you are under the age of 25 and have never heard of Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses, Mary Lou Retton, Greg Louganis or the Zola Budd collision you need to spend some time on YouTube. Great athletes with great performances in a great atmosphere.

Now I’m raising four kids who are growing up in an age where there is a greater variety of Olympic events and they have greater access to them. There weren’t 7 stations broadcasting the competitions in those days. And we certainly didn’t have streaming options via computer or mobile phone app.

So far my kids are eating this up. There have only been a few days of Olympic coverage but they are fixed in the TV room, cheering the USA on at every turn. I’m usually one to limit TV and computer viewing because I don’t think it’s healthy for kids to be looking at a screen all day.

But here is why until the Olympics are over I’ll be stretching the viewing limits and bedtimes a little farther even with school being in session.

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Back to School Tips to Manage Your Crazy Mornings

Next week my kids head back to school. YES and DOUBLE YES! They will hate that I’m saying that but after two long summer months it’s time to get back to the school thing. And to celebrate that, I’m going to remind my kids (and all of you who are reading) of some back to school tips that help us manage our crazy mornings.

back to school tipsMornings during the school year can be hectic…am I right? After all the days of sleeping in during the summer, suddenly you are forced back into an early wake up call. And in the span of an hour it seems like you do 100 things to get inside the school building just in time.

It doesn’t have to be so hectic. In fact, I could count on one hand the number of times last year where we were truly rushed and almost didn’t make it to school.

Those who know me will say, “But you only live seven minutes from school!” To which I say, it doesn’t matter. When I worked in education I knew of people who lived that close and seemed to be late every day. So with that in mind, here are some back to school tips that we’ve learned over our 11 years of seeing our kids off to school.

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Cheap Christmas Activities for Kids to Cure the Boredom

Several weeks ago my kids had several days off for Thanksgiving break. Within two hours of being home from school they were showing signs of boredom. I guess being out of their natural school routine was a shock to their system and they didn’t know what to do. Sound familiar?

christmas activities for kidsIt occurred to me that a more serious situation would be coming up soon – two weeks for Christmas break. Yikes! What Christmas activities for kids could I find to keep them from being bored out of their mind for that length of time?

Really it’s only the first week of break that is a concern – the week leading up to Christmas. So that’s five days or so that I have to keep them busy. After the 25th – with all the presents they receive – they usually have enough to occupy their interest and keep them busy until they return to school.

Of course I will grant them a small portion of their time to watch some TV and play video games. They’ve earned it with all the hard work they’ve put in at school. But I don’t want those two activities to take up the majority of the day.

And I certainly don’t want to be spending a lot of money on activities seeing how we are already spending a lot for gifts.

So here are some Christmas activities for kids I’ve come up with and will do my best to implement over that first week of Christmas break. I don’t know how original these are but by golly my kids are doing them. I don’t want to hear them whining about being bored.

Christmas Activities for Kids

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Attention 9th Graders: Some Focus Right Now Will Make You Rich

Thought I would perform a public service announcement today for the freshman out there starting high school this fall. I don’t have any good tips on how to avoid getting stuffed in your locker or fighting off that wedgie as you change after gym class. You might just have to endure those things…such is the right of passage into high school.

dissecction in biology

Focus – Work Hard – Be Rich

What I’d rather do is snap your mind into place as you start taking classes and get you thinking about the future.

Sound boring? Listen, I get it. The last thing you probably want to think about right now is studying for a literature test. And those Algebra I problems…ugh! When are you ever going to use that in real life?

I’m not going to try and convince you of the practical uses of Algebraic principles once you graduate high school. What I do want you to know is that your approach to Algebra (and all your other classes) has huge implications for your future. In fact, what you do right now – this 9th grade year – could eventually make you rich.

The Two Biggest Challenges of High School

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How to Invest 1,000 Dollars at Age 18

I recently had a conversation with a former student of mine who is looking to invest in the stock market. He’s in college now and has some money sitting around that he doesn’t need for school. He wanted to know how to invest 1,000 dollars or more at this stage of his life and whether it was realistic or not.

how to invest 1,000 dollarsHis situation is similar to what many 18-year-olds face. They’ve worked full-time summer jobs since they were 16 and maybe even part-time ones during the school year. Their college expenses are taken care of either through scholarships or the bank of mom and dad. The money they have earned is just sitting in their savings account drawing little to no interest. Does it make sense for them to do something else with it, like beginning to invest?

The answer is “YES…Absolutely!” but with a very big BUT.

Before I get to the BUT though lets look at some assumptions about 18-year-olds that are going to impact how they invest and where they put their money.

Assumptions About 18-Year-Olds

While not true for all, these generalizations pretty much highlight what most 18-year-olds are going through:

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Why Parents Should Never Give Kids Money for Good Grades at School

Parents (and now some schools) have often given money for good grades as a tool to motivate their kids to do well in school. During my years as teacher and principal of a private Christian school, I knew about it happening at all levels, from kindergarten through high school. The rates I heard varied from $5 – $100 being offered by parents for kids earning A’s in a class.

money for good gradesYes…that’s $100 per A…per semester.

Start calculating that out over 6 or 7 classes and it makes me want to go back to school. Seeing that I was a straight A student I would have made a killing.

Some parents had higher standards that required their child to get A’s in all classes in order to receive any money. The theory behind that approach is to develop a well-rounded child who excels in everything. Make them work hard in every class to get rewarded.

Neither of these options ever felt right to me. So early on my wife and I decided we would never give our kids money for good grades. Here’s our reasoning and what we chose to do instead.

Why We Are Not Giving Money For Good Grades

The biggest reason we do not give our kids money for good grades in school is…

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Why I’ll Cherish Every Moment of the Next Four Years

It’s a Milestone Monday of sorts at our household. Today at 7:45 I’ll be dropping off our four kids for their first day of school. That may seem ordinary but it’s not the start of just another school year for us. This year is a bit more special.

hourglassOur oldest daughter Kelly is entering high school.

14 years down.

4 more to go.

Four more years until…

…she likely moves out for the first time.

…she doesn’t regularly join us at the dinner table.

…she isn’t in our home church each and every Sunday.

…she really learns what it’s like to depend on herself.

…we face the college tuition bill (oops, sorry…that’s a tangent of thought for another day).

I used to not care about this stuff. When she was two, high school and college seemed so distant. I’d find myself in circles of older parents who would say, “Cherish these moments because it will fly by so quickly.” I’d politely nod at their exhortation and think, “Sure, sure…I won’t miss anything.”

Now I wonder where all the time has gone. Why did it happen so fast? How can it be 14 years since my first child was born?

Ironically, now I’m the older parent sharing the value of cherishing time with those just getting started on the journey.

Everything Has Its Time

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How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

Most adults realize the dangers of identity theft and take reasonable steps to protect themselves. However, did you know that child identity theft is a growing problem? In fact, The Center for Identity at the University of Texas at Austin estimates that a child is 35 times more likely to have their information stolen than an adult.

So why is a child’s identity so attractive to a thief?

3 Reasons Children Are Targets For Identity Theft

identity theft cartoonFor starters ­a child’s Social Security Number (SSN) is clean. The chance to obtain an untainted SSN that has no credit history or credit problems is very attractive. It is significantly easier for a thief to combine a child’s unused SSN with a new name and address.

Another issue is that securing a child’s SSN is also much easier. In many circumstances the culprit ends up being a family member or another person known by the family.

Social security numbers can be found in public spaces such as a doctor’s office, school, and on forms at athletic recreational leagues, clubs or other organizations. We’d like to trust the workers at those locations who set eyes on the forms that contain our kid’s information but some have used their position to gain access to SSNs.

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