Raising Money-Smart Kids

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Every year, American children receive over $15 billion in allowance, gifts and wages—reason enough to start teaching children money management and consumer skills at a young age. The following tips can make the difference between a child who grows up to be financially secure—and one who isn’t.

Teach by example: The best way to instill good financial habits is by “walking the talk.” For instance, when you go shopping, include your kids in the process—planning, budgeting, and comparing prices and quality. If they urge you to buy something that is over budget, explain that spending more on the item you’re purchasing today is not as important as saving up for something else you need or want in the future.

Live within your means: Children who learn to prioritize their spending learn the most valuable money management lesson: to live within their means. Reinforce the message by not jumping for the credit cards or giving extra money just because your children ask. When kids want an expensive “status” item, like hundred-dollar athletic shoes, consider having them pay the portion of the price that exceeds what you think is reasonable. They’ll appreciate the item more and may think twice about paying that much when they outgrow this pair in six months. If you choose, go ahead and lend money, but treat it like a bank loan. Charge reasonable interest and set a time frame for repayment—it will teach them how loans and credit in the real world truly work.

Encourage savings: For your sake and theirs, encourage your children to make saving a fixed category in their spending plan. Discuss goals and calculate how much should be put away each month. Break down savings into long-term, for college or a car, and short-term, for a new bike or a senior trip to Europe. If you see your children about to make a mistake in spending their allowance, let them. Better to learn on a small scale now, than lose money with big mistakes later. It’s never too early (or too late) to develop healthy financial habits. The rewards of wise money management are the same for adults and children alike—a greater appreciation of what you have, a sense of empowerment when you reach your goals, and long-term financial security.

 

Copyright ©2005 Balance

Watch For Phony Nepal Earthquake Charity Scams

NepalThere is no question that the recent earthquake in Nepal was a heart-wrenching event. It is likely to bring out the giving side of many. Unfortunately, scammers don’t just try to steal from unsuspecting people during the good times, as they did during the Olympics and World Cup, but they often like to take advantage of tragedy or sad stories. If you are one of those who likes to donate money to charities to support such events, keep a few things in mind before sending cash or giving out payment card information.

• Don’t just click on a link you see online somewhere, even if it is on a friend’s page on a social media site. Unfortunately, scammers like to take advantage of such disasters as this and will put up links that may ultimately install malware on your computer or other device. Links that show up on social media are not necessarily checked out before they are posted. So just because you see one, it doesn’t mean it’s a good one.

• This goes for clicking links or opening attachments in email messages as well. Use caution or go directly to the site rather than clicking anything.

• Do some research to make sure the charity you are giving to is legitimate and that the money will actually go to the cause you wish. There are sites where you can get more information on charities such as the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Watch, Charity Navigator, and GuideStar. Check those out when in doubt.

• Texting scams are on the rise. Confirm that you have the correct number and make sure you know the charges for doing so before hand. Keep in mind that when you donate via text, your funds may not get to the charity for a while; up to 90 days.

• Some states require charities and anyone doing a fundraiser for disaster relief to register first. You can check this for your state at the National Association of State Charity Officials. If a charity isn’t registered in your state, it may be a scammer.

• Take an extra few looks when going to charitable giving websites. Often, the scammers will create a fake site that looks so close to the real one that it is really difficult to tell. Sometimes it takes a few visits to the site to be sure. Take the time to do this and it’s more likely your kind giving will get to the correct place.

• Watch out for charities that seem to just pop up overnight. Often times, these are run by people who are up to no good at all.
If you suspect a giving site is a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

© Copyright 2015 Stickley on Security

Understanding Mortgages

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If you’re going to be responsible for paying a mortgage for the next 30 years, you should know exactly what a mortgage is. A mortgage has three basic parts: a down payment, monthly payments and fees. The down payment is the amount you contribute toward the home purchase. The monthly payment is the amount needed to pay off remaining amount over the length of the loan and includes a payment on the principal of the loan as well as interest. The fees are all the costs you have to pay up front to get the loan.

Keeping in mind those basic concepts, we’ll look at some of the mortgage variations that are available:

  • Fixed Rate A fixed rate mortgage requires a monthly payment that is the same amount throughout the term of the loan. When you sign the loan papers you agree on an interest rate and that rate never changes. This is the best type of loan if interest rates are low when you get a mortgage.
  • Adjustable Rate Be careful if you’re considering taking an adjustable rate mortgage. An adjustable rate mortgage allows the interest rate on your loan to vary with prevailing interest rates. If rates go up, so will your mortgage rate and monthly payment. If rates increase a lot, you could be in big trouble. If rates go down, your mortgage rate will drop and so will your monthly payment. A good strategy may be to stick with a fixed rate loan to safeguard against rising interest rates. And if rates drop, refinance your mortgage to take advantage of lower rates.
  • Veterans Administration (VA) Loans The Veterans Administration offers loan benefits to veterans who served in the armed forces on active duty during times of conflict, such as Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Afghanistan, as long as they were not discharged dishonorably. The first step to obtain a VA loan is to obtain a certificate of eligibility, then submit it with your most recent discharge or separation papers to a VA eligibility center.
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loans The FHA was created to aid people in obtaining affordable housing. FHA loans are actually made by a lending institution, such as a bank, but the federal government insures the loan. This is often the least expensive loan that non-veterans can get.
  • Customized Loans Whatever the situation, there’s a financing strategy with terms to fit your budget. These options include the First-Time Home Buyer Program, as well as High Loan-to-Value, No PMI and Reverse Mortgages. 

Visit NASA Federal’s Mortgage Center to learn more, or to apply today!

©Copyright Visa

To Own or Not to Own. That Is the Question.

buying-a-home1Turtles and snails are born with their homes on their backs. You, however, are not so lucky. Unless you plan to live in a cardboard box or you can talk someone into allowing you to live with them for the rest of your life, you will probably need to either buy or rent housing.

Home ownership isn’t for everyone. It’s definitely a long-term commitment. The prices of homes increase over the years, but usually at a slow rate. With all the financing, closing costs and other expenses associated with owning a home, you’ll probably lose money if you sell in less than five years.

You also have to think about the upkeep of a home. Everything from cutting the grass to putting on a new roof is your responsibility. The costs can really add up. Then add taxes, water and sewer bills and other expenses and you can get into some sizable payments.

But when you take full financial and maintenance responsibility for a home, it’s yours to do with as you please. Paint the walls purple. Add a planetarium. Put in a fireman’s pole. You’re in charge.

There are also substantial financial advantages to owning a home. The part of your monthly payment that goes toward the principal is all equity and the part that goes toward interest is tax deductible. Compare that with paying rent, which is neither an investment nor a tax write-off.

As your equity increases with time (and payments) it will be a source of financial stability for you, giving you collateral for a loan or producing a large sum of money if you sell. And if you decide to sell your home, as long as you have lived in it for two out of the past five years, you won’t have to pay tax on gains of up to $250,000. The limit doubles to $500,000 if you’re married, filing jointly, and both have lived in the home for two years.

©Copyright Visa

Internship Resources

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Internships are not just for college students. Whether it’s that final resume-building gig you are looking for to impress future employers, or an internship to win over college admissions decision makers, there are resources to help you find that next opportunity.

Before you start your search, do a personal inventory of what you want. Think about whether your internship has to be close to home, or if you are willing to broaden your search and work abroad. Is your dream to work for your local newspaper or as a marine ecology intern in Costa Rica?

Here are a few things to consider before sending out your resume:

  • Have you used keywords central to your industry? (E.g. engineering, finance, business, marketing, law, biotech, education, computer science/technology, design)
  • Are you appealing to companies that interest you?
  • What location are you looking for?
  • What type of employer do you want? (Non-profit, for profit, government)
  • Compensation: are you willing to work for free, or do you need to be paid?

Now that you have an idea of the direction you want to take, use these online resources for both high school and college students to find the ideal internship:

Internships.com – This site allows you to search for jobs by keyword, industry and region. It also features an Internship Predictor app, with an online assessment that can help direct you to a particular career path. You can also utilize the site’s career navigator tool and resume resources.

InternJobs.com – Part of the AboutJobs.com network of sites, this resource features internship job searches by keyword and region on an international level, as well as a blog, tools and tips, articles and advice and an eNewsletter.

InternWeb.com – This site features search capability for internships and seasonal summer jobs, along with articles featuring resume writing tips and social media feeds with new job listings.

InternshipPrograms.com– Search by job, company or region and set up a candidate account so future employers can find you.

Going to job portal sites is a great start, but you should also try going directly to the source. If there is a company you have dreamed of working for, check their website for job postings aimed specifically at students. One example is Google, which has dedicated part of its site to student jobs here.

When you land the internship of your dreams, make sure you add value. Find a way to make an impact and be memorable for the contribution you make to the organization. While you are making new business connections on the job, don’t forget to keep those connections alive once you leave by asking to keep in touch. Graduation may be months or years away, but the contacts made at your internship could open doors in the future.

©Copyright Visa

 

Chip Cards Being Issued Makes It a Good Time to Review PIN Security

Credit Card With Gold ChipAfter all of the point-of-sale (POS) system breaches last year like at Home Depot, Bebe, and Chick-fil-A, card issuers are beginning to send out new cards with chip technology. Not only does it help prevent fraud resulting from data breaches, but for the avid travelers out there, it is widely accepted worldwide and in some cases, the only type of card that can be accepted at some merchants.

The chip also adds an extra layer of security to a payment card. It has a microchip embedded that contains encrypted information about the card and therefore, very difficult to counterfeit. Cardholders are required to also employ two factor authentication by entering a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for all transactions using a chip card, even credit card transactions.

The magnetic strip will not disappear from the new cards to ensure they can still be widely used. Most payment terminals will begin to accept both types of cards in the very near future, if they don’t already.

So, as these cards are being issued, it’s a great time to review PIN security.  Following are a few tips to creating a secure PIN and keeping it safe:

  • Choose a PIN that isn’t related to a birthday or a word that is easily associated with you or appears in your wallet or purse.
  • Memorize the PIN. Don’t share it with anyone and it’s especially important not to write it on the card.
  • Keep the card in a safe place at all times with the same care you take with cash.
  • Use as many characters as the issuer allows or that make sense and you can remember.  Keep in mind if you travel worldwide, that many ATMs outside the U.S. only allow four characters and don’t put letters on the keypads. This makes it more important to choose the PIN wisely and not use characters easily attributed to you. Consider changing it before the trip to four digits and changing it back when you return home.
  • Protect your PIN by covering your hand when you enter it into a payment terminal and even at the ATM.
  • Change your PIN at least every six months.

Remember that financial institutions will not send you a link to click and enter a PIN or other private information. If you need to change your PIN or any other account information, you should initiate a phone call or log in to your account directly and make modifications that way.

© Copyright 2015 Stickley on Security