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Helping Kids Learn about Budgets

24 Jul

It is very important to teach children about money. Teaching kids about money increases their chances of maintaining budgets and effectively saving in the future. Creating budgets with your children help them develop great financial literacy skills. The Moon Jar is a product designed to teach about saving, spending, and giving. You could easily make something similar. Speaking of making stuff, Pinterest would also be a great place to look for ideas to teach kids about money.

 

Further Reading:

The Mint’s Fun for Kids

(not to be confused with http://www.mint.com)

PBS Kids: It’s My Life (Money)

How to Introduce Money to Kids

4 Money Lessons for Children to Master

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5 Things that Eat at a Budget

19 Jul

Everyone wants to use their money in the most productive way. So we decided to tell you five things that eat at your budget.

1. Daily drinks

Buying bottled water, soda, and coffee drinks each day will add up quickly over the month or year. Estimates are: $1,092 a year in savings. Alternatives are: making coffee at home, using a purification filter on your faucet, and carrying a reusable bottle.

2. Unused gym memberships

Most people buy gym memberships and rarely use them. Even if you use the gym regularly the money you would save can be substantial. Alternatives are: going for a walk/run outside, fitness dvds, or videos on Hulu, Netflix or Youtube.

3. Impulse buys

Buying things you don’t set out to buy. Retail environments are setup to make you buy more. Alternatives are: online shopping, waiting 24 hours to buy”good deals”.

4. Grocery shopping without direction

Always have a shopping list. We know not to grocery shop on an empty stomach, but not having a list is just as bad. Alternatives are: meal planning for the week, bringing a list, checking weekly sales ads.

5. Eating out for lunch

Spending a few dollars a day might not seem like a budget problem, but over time it adds up. Estimates state Americans spend $37 a week on lunch ($148 mo/$1,776 year). Alternatives are: bringing lunch to work, using coupons.

 

 

 

Best Budget Sites

3 Jul

There are several websites dedicated to tracking and managing your budget. Here are a few that we think are the best:

Mint

Via Mint.com “At Mint, we believe money is for living. So we make everything simple and streamlined. Sign up takes less than five minutes. Then Mint automatically pulls all your financial information into one place, so you can finally get the entire picture.”

 

Buxfer

Via Buxfer.com “Our goal is to create the best personal finance application on the web. Money is typically not the topic of discussion for a group of twenty-somethings wanting to have fun with their lives. But that’s only because today’s finance applications make it difficult and boring. That’s what we have set about to change! We want people to effortlessly understand their finances. And have fun while doing so.”

BudgetTracker

Via BudgetTracker.com “Budget your finances to keep track of where your money is going. BudgetTracker is a complete online money management tool designed to keep track of all your transactions and bank accounts from your computer, mobile phone, or iPad. Receive reminders to your phone or email when your bills are due.”

BudgetPulse

Via BudgetPulse.com “Budget your finances to keep track of where your money is going. BudgetTracker is a complete online money management tool designed to keep track of all your transactions and bank accounts from your computer, mobile phone, or iPad. Receive reminders to your phone or email when your bills are due.”

Balance Central Star’s own choice for members.

 

Budgeting Tools: Central Star’s Balance Program

21 Jun

First up, in our Budgeting Tools category is Central Star’s own program Balance.

Balance offers members certified counselors to speak with, help with managing money and debt, credit report reviews, home purchase counseling, and solutions to prevent identity theft.

They also offer three online tools designed to guide you through understanding and maintaining your finances. BalanceTrack offers mini financial education courses. OnTrack is an actual budget-making program. Financial Education provides in-depth articles, podcasts, calculators, and other resources to expand your fiscal knowledge.

Directly from their website, here is a detailed description of their services:

Screen shot 2013-06-21 at 5.41.50 PM

Central Star Credit Union provides all members with free access to Balance and all it has to offer. It is a wonderful resource to help you learn about, construct, and cultivate your new budget plan.

10 Tips for Starting a Successful Budget

19 Jun

Money Matters believes that creating a budget (and sticking to it) can be the most tricky part of budgeting. Once a budget plan has been started everything else gets a little bit easier. We have compiled 10 tips to help you start.

1. Simplicity is key. Keeping the plan simple will help you achieve your goals faster. At the core, a budget is tool used to figure out how to direct your money to the things you find important.

2. It all begins with a goal. An objective, like home-ownership or a new car, can give you the push to maintain the budget.

3. Give yourself a cushion. When calculating how much to save for expenses, choose the largest number you have paid out. For example, use the largest utility bill in recent months as the set deduction. If it ends up being less than you budgeted allocate that money elsewhere. Chances are it will not be higher since you used the highest bill as the standard. Remember to add in emergencies and extras as well.

4. Pay yourself. A good rule to follow is 90/10. 90% of your take-home income should go to expenses and 10% should be saved.

5. Understand and use a budgeting tool. Mint.com is a current and reliable money management website. Central Star’s own Balance Program is a great resource. Even something as simple as the envelope system can work.

6. Follow what works for you. Creating and maintaining a budget is very personal. What might work for others, might not work for you. It is vital to find something that works with your personality, not against it.

7. Find the losses. Where is money being lost? Discover the expense that is a money drain and correct it.

8. Use the right categories. All budget programs have default categories, if they do not work for you construct your own.

9. Making mistakes is natural. If you overestimate the money coming in and underestimate the money going out reevaluate and adjust it. Adjusting as you go will help you to run your budget more smoothly in the long run.

10. Stay with it. Just like any new habit, money management can be hard to stick to. But if you stay with it and push through the hard times your rewards will be great.

Because we couldn’t resist, here are a few extras:

Be flexible. Do not let a wonderful (and possibly profitable) opportunity pass because your budget is too rigid. It is ok to stretch the budget at times to accomodate time-sensitive expenses. Just be wise and not make it a regular thing.

Add in fun money. Failure is guaranteed if you do not have money set aside for entertainment.

Frugal Fatigue is real. Be careful, so that you can avoid feeling burnt out on doing a budget. Too much worrying can cause you to splurge or stop the budget altogether.