Welcome to Raising Money$mart Kids!

What do YOUR kids know about the value of a buck? If you're like most families, finances aren't often discussed. Some parents feel that talking about money makes their kids feel like they're poor. Others may not know where or when to start to help their kids learn about budgeting or business or banking.

Here at Raising Money$mart Kids, you will find articles on everything from setting up an allowance to running a lemonade stand to helping kids make better purchase decisions. You can ask questions get help from the community.

So, grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Credit Card Fraud: Are You Protected?

Credit card fraud can happen to anyone- even if you take all the precautions in the world. You can't stop it from happening but you can lessen the chance of having your credit card information stolen. Credit card theft is rising as the economy sinks and it is more important than ever to protect your financial information, both in your wallet and online. Here are some great ways to protect yourself from being a victim:

Simple Steps that Make You Less Vulnerable and More Money-Savvy

 Credit card fraud has been around as long as there have been credit cards. However, it is becoming a growth industry as the economy declines and credit card limits keep rising.

As a professional accountant, I often receive panicked calls from clients who are concerned that their credit cards are not safe. I explain to them that, with some common sense steps, they can make their cards less
likely to be stolen. Protecting yourself from credit card fraud should be a cornerstone of your financial stability. While there is no way to guarantee that you won't be a victim of this type of theft, you can make yourself less of a target. Like any other theft, perpetrators look for the easiest heist. If you make your credit card information more secure, thieves are likely to seek out easier prey. Here are four easy ways to make yourself less vulnerable to these plastic thieves. 


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Own a small business? Get this great bundle of ebooks at a special cost to November 30

Special Offer for Newsletter Readers
November 29 and 30 only!
  • Buy both of my new ebooks in PDF format at the same time for a special price
  • Receive SIX Excel templates to help you organize and manage your business
  • Release date: Monday December 13 but pre-sale deal only lasts until November 30
  • see below for details
Price: $20.00 US (regular price after November 30 is $25.00 for both books and the templates will be sold separately)
-use PayPal button below and you can use your credit card or PayPal balance securely to purchase.

Personal Finance for Small Business Owners
Protecting the Wealth You Build
Based on the most frequent questions I receive from clients and readers, this ebook is packed with valuable advice about managing personal finances when you are also juggling a business. With over 100 pages of critical planning and wealth-building information, Personal Finance for Small Business Owners helps you to:
  • assess your business and personal assets
  • minimize your risk
  • ensure you are properly protected by insurance and are not getting taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous insurance sales tactics
  • pay down your business and personal debt effectively
  • get top dollar out of your business when you are ready to retire
  • maximize your tax deductions and minimize your tax bill- today and in the future

Tax Preparation & Planning for Your Home-Based Business
Maximizing Your Deductions

Businesses that operate out of the owner's home face a number of accounting and tax issues that other businesses do not. Keeping proper account of personal versus business-related expenses is the key to avoiding or surviving a tax audit. This brand new ebook offers up over a hundred pages of ways to maximize your tax deductions and minimize your tax bill at the end of the year. Chapters include:
  • setting up a bookkeeping/accounting system for your home-based business
  • tracking and calculating home office and auto expenses
  • what can and cannot be expensed in your home-based business
  • how to fill out Schedule C
  • paying the least amount of income tax on your business earnings
  • tax planning for future years

Monday, November 29, 2010

Online Identity Theft Scams

The internet has allowed consumers to make purchases, share information, and even get professional advice- all online. Unfortunately, the internet also makes it easier for the old-fashioned thief and pickpocket to steal your financial information and leave you penniless and your credit in shreds. Here are the top 5 online identity theft scams.

Top 5 Online Identity Theft Scams

Each year, more people are using the Internet for banking, shopping and even invoicing. However, the Internet is also providing new opportunities for thieves, who find that stealing identities and financial information can  be as easy as sending an email. As a professional accountant, I often see the damage wrought in identity theft scams.

Here are the five most common online scams:

1. Contest Prize Notifications

Many people dream about winning the lottery, and that is exactly what this type of scammer counts on. This scam involves sending an email or creating a flash banner that announces that you have won a lot of money in a contest or lottery. Once you respond to the email or click on the banner, you will be given some type of explanation that you have to remit the taxes on the winnings or pay some kind of fee first. These scammers often go back to the well as often as they can, requesting that more fees or taxes be sent. Once you put the brakes on sending any more money, the scammers can drain your credit card or bank account, as they already have your information.



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Getting What You Want- Even When You're on a Budget

When you're on a tight budget, finding the money for unexpected needs, or (dare I say it) wants can be tough. There will always be more cool things you absolutely must have than there is money for them. However, there are several strategies to make sure you are buying the things that are more important to you and still fit in your budget.

How to Get What You Want on a Budget

It can be difficult to make ends meet when you are on a tight budget. There may be many things that you would like to buy, or even need, for which there is simply no money. If you use a few smart strategies, though, you can buy both necessities and even luxuries at a price that fits in your budget.

1. Prioritize your spending.

If you are like me, there is always a list in the back of your head of things you would like to purchase. Take some time to write them all down in a list and then prioritize that list. This forces you to decide what is really important to you. Without prioritization, you may find yourself spending all of your money buying things that don't really matter to you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

To Max Out Your 401(k) or Not: That is the Question

Every year, investors face the choice of whether to max out their allowable 401(k) contributions. If you don't, you lose that contribution room. If you do, you have less money for paying down debt and current spending. Here are some considerations to ponder when deciding whether to max out your 401(k) contributions.
Should You Max Out Your 401(k)?  
The Pros and Cons of This Oft-Touted Investment Strategy

A company 401(k) is one of the most popular retirement investment tools available. The plan allows a maximum investment of $16,500 per year (for 2010) and $22,000 for those over 50 years old. As with all other retirement investment platforms, there are both reasons to max out your 401(k) each year and some cautions about doing so.

Maxing Out Your 401(k) -- Pros:

1. Potential company match -- Many corporate 401(k) plans have a provision that provides for company matching of contributions, usually up to a certain percentage of income. This is "free money" and an overall benefit to the investor. It is worthwhile to at least contribute enough to get the maximum matching benefit, even if you do not max out contributions.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA: Which One is Better For You?

Trying to find your way through the maze of retirement investment options can be disheartening and confusing. With so many plan types out there, it is often difficult to choose the one that is going to work best for you. When looking at Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), there are two main kinds: a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of each.

Which Retirement Plan is Right for You?

Traditional and Roth IRAs are important tools in your retirement investment toolkit. Both plan types provide tax-sheltered investment income growth and regular income upon retirement. Knowing the ins and outs of traditional and Roth IRAs can be difficult for the average investor. Considerations when choosing an IRA plan include age, income levels and company matching. Here are the basic characteristics of each type of plan: 

Read more... 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Retirement Planning for Women: Single and Thirty

When you are just hitting your stride in your career and not thinking about marriage and kids yet, planning for retirement can seem like a waste of time. But it's important to have your retirement plan in place as early as possible to give yourself the best chance of building lasting wealth. Here are some great retirement planning tips for those thirty and single:

Single and 30: A Woman's Guide to Investing for Retirement

Saving for retirement is important for everyone, but no more so than for women. And, if you're single and in your 30s, it's a critical juncture in your life to ensure that you're on the right investment track.

Women need to plan for their retirement even more than men. Women still earn on average 75-80% of what men do. Women are also less likely to be in pensionable jobs and therefore have less corporate retirement support behind them. However, they also live longer. According to the National Center for Research, women retiring at age 65 are expected to live another 25 years. That's a lot of retirement to plan for.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taking Your Retirement Funds With You When You Leave a Job

With the mobility of labor today, many employees work for a half dozen or more employers during their career. They may leave behind small chunks of money in each company's 401(k) plan. Rolling old 401(k) money into an IRA helps you keep control over your retirement money and can provide you with a better return.

Leaving an Employer Means You Can Take Your Retirement Money with You

As an accountant and financial planner, I am often asked by clients for advice on what to do with their retirement funds if they change jobs or become self-employed. There are a few options, each with its own set of pros and cons. 

When you leave an employer for another or for other opportunities, you can do one of two things with your built-up 401(k) plan funds. You can leave it parked where it is (and the employer must let you do so if you have more than $5,000 vested. Alternatively, you can roll it into an Individual Retirement Plan (IRA) that you control. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Saving for Retirement: Do It Early and Do It Often

Saving for retirement can seem daunting when you have no idea where you are starting from and where you are headed. The old adage to save early and save often definitely applies to retirement savings. Beginning your savings plan when you are in your twenties allows you to weather many financial and economic storms and can grow quickly to allow you to have the comfortable and fun retirement you are hoping for.

Why It's Important to Start Saving for Retirement as Early as Possible

You have heard the standard retirement investing advice before: start saving early and save often. It is advice that I have given my clients over the years when they are first starting out on their own. I have had the opportunity to see how many of those clients who took my advice fared over the past fifteen years, especially during the recent recession. Having a large and growing retirement savings plan allowed them to remain calm when markets tanked, knowing that they could ride out the storm and that their funds still had lots of time to recover and flourish before they needed the money in retirement.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

You Can Cut Your Expenses Without Even Noticing

Even when you think you have slashed your budget down to nothing, there are still many ways that smart budgeters can save money every month with ease. Here are the top 5 tips to cutting down on your expenses and not miss anything:

Tighten Your Budget Without Feeling Deprived

The recent economic downturn has made budgeting and smart spending more important than ever. What makes this belt-tightening difficult is that many of our daily expenses are not discretionary. For example, we can't choose -- at least in the short run -- to pay less on our mortgage every month or to cut down on our property taxes. In my experience, as both a consumer and a finance professional, there are many ways to cut out expenses regularly without feeling like you are cutting back or depriving yourself. Here are my five favorite money-savers:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Top Money-Earning Ideas for Teens and Pre-teens

Part of teaching your kids about the value of money is to let them earn some. Many families allow their children to work outside the home running micro-businesses, doing everything from lawn care to babysitting. Here are some great ideas for kids to make their own money.

Teach Your Kids Financial Skills and Let Them Earn Money Doing It

Understanding money and finance is critical for children. Those who are not exposed to financial literacy when they are young grow up to be adults with poor budgeting and planning skills. A big part of teaching kids
about money is familiarizing them with how to earn it. Making money helps budding young entrepreneurs learn business skills that will be important to them later in life as they decide what they want to do when they grow up. Here are my picks for the best money-making opportunities for pre-teens:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Retire Early and In Style

Retiring early was a mantra in the late '90s when investment returns were high and everyone wanted to live the good life. Is it still possible now? Absolutely, but it takes careful planning and honest assessments.

Detailed Planning Now Will Help You Achieve the Dream

Retiring early from working life is a goal for many people who grind away every day for a paycheck. However, for a growing number of working people, early retirement is more of a fantasy than an achievable goal. Without
proper budgeting, projecting and planning, retirement can be a scary prospect. Here are some of the basic steps to take to ensure that you can retire early and in style:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cash or Debit Card When Travelling: Which is Better?

When travelling, either abroad or in the U.S., determining what kind of funds to bring is just as important as how much to bring. Here are some important considerations to mull over when deciding whether to use cash or debit cards on your next holiday.

Should You Use Cash or Debit Cards when Traveling?

Most travelers need more access to funds when traveling than when going about their normal routine. Choosing whether to carry cash or a debit card involves many considerations including portability, universality, the potential for theft, and costs. The issue is further complicated when traveling internationally when foreign exchange rates are taken into consideration. For example, when I travel domestically, I often use cash for its convenience but when I travel abroad, I frequently use a debit card in countries where they are widely taken.

Read more... 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Set Up a PayPal Student Account for Your Children

In my last blog entry, I looked at the reasons for setting up a PayPal Student Account for your kids. This time out, I look at the basics of actually setting one up. The account only takes a few minutes to set up as it is simply a subset of your own account. Here's how to do it:

Low-Risk Account Lets Kids Learn How to Handle Money Safely

Anyone who has a personal or Premiere PayPal account can set up a Student Account for their teen. The PayPal Student Account allows teens the flexibility of managing their own finances but with the parental supervision and controls that will help them do it the right way. 

Setting up a PayPal Student Account is easy and takes only a few minutes. Under the "Products and Services" link on your home page, choose "View All PayPal Products" and select "Student Account". There are several video presentations in this section that walk you through the entire process and they are worth spending about 15 minutes watching. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Teach Your Kids Money$marts By Opening a PayPal Student Account

The world of banking and money management can be a scary one for kids- and for parents who are concerned that their kids will make financial mistakes. A PayPal Student Account can give kids practice at handling money in a safe environment- under the watchful eyes of their parents.

Kids Get the Freedom to Learn and You Get the Control You Need

Teaching kids how to handle money properly can be confusing and stressful for parents. On the one hand, parents know that their children need experience with spending, saving, and banking in order to navigate the world when they are out on their own. On the other hand, parents know that it is far too easy for kids and young adults to get in over their heads financially and to rack up huge debts that are hard to get out of. The question, therefore, is how to let kids dip their toes into financial waters without the associated risk. 


Monday, July 19, 2010

What Do We Teach Our Kids About Money?

I hear lots of excuses when people explain to me why they haven't done more to teach their kids the value of money- everything from "they're too young" to "they'll think we're poor if we talk about money". But, in many cases, it's fear that holds parents back. The fear that they themselves don't know enough about finances to help their children. The fear that their children will be able to see what poor money managers their parents have been. And the fear of facing their own financial realities.

We can only help our children succeed in life if we give them strong financial skills. We won't be there when the credit card companies set up their booth on the first day of the new college semester. We won't be there when the salesman in the stereo shop insists to our child that this amazing sale only lasts one more hour. And, if our kids learn shame about finances from us, we won't be there when they are in danger of losing their home.

Take some time this week to think about what our kids are picking up from us that will help them in the future.  Shore up your own financial knowledge and start putting some healthy money practices in place like budgeting. It will help your family for generations to come!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Is Your Teenager Money-Savvy Enough to Go to College?

Credit Card Companies Are Waiting to Pounce on New College Students

Credit card debt is at an all-time high across the country. According to a Nilson Study, 78% of American households had at least one credit card. Credit card default is also at an all-time high, especially in the 18-24 year old category- mainly college students. The ease of obtaining a credit card in the first year of college and a lack of basic financial literacy join to make this the most vulnerable group of consumers.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gardening with Kids: How to Grow Your Own Pizza Garden

A great family project that helps kids learn how to plan, estimate, and save money. And who doesn't like pizza!


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Raising Financially Savvy Kids

Think back to your school days. What subjects did you learn in the classroom? You learned reading, writing and math for sure, then you learned history, geography and science as you progressed through the grades. Perhaps you learned even art and music. All of these subjects are important and certainly useful to you at some point in your life. (Even though you probably swore up and down when you were 11 that you would never have any practical use for algebra!) 

The one subject that is not usually taught in the school system is the one that will have a huge impact on your life each and every day: money. How to earn it, spend it, invest it, and pass it on to the next generation.