Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What's Your FICO score

Most of the time when we think of a FICO score the first thing we think of is how it affects our interest rates when shopping for a loan or mortgage. But there are several other ways it could affect you. Many employers may now check your FICO score when considering you for a job. Also, apartment managers may check it when you are applying to rent an apartment.
One of the major factors that affects your credit score is if you pay your bills on time or not. The more bills you have outstanding or have had outstanding is one thing that can make your score drop. Also, if you apply for or take out a lot of credit cards or department and store cards. One thing to try not to do is have a lot of available credit that you may not need. It is common at stores for them to offer you to apply for their card. Even if you don’t plan on using them, it can affect your credit score. They look to see how much available credit you have. The way they look at it is if you have all of that available credit, you could go out one day and go on a great shopping spree.
So when thinking about your credit score, the main things are keeping in mind how much available credit you have to your name and to keep your accounts current. Since even if you are not shopping for a loan or mortgage your credit score can affect you in other ways.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What is a Moon Jar?

Moon Jar is a website with resources to teach kids about money. The Moon jar is a coin bank with 3 separate containers, for spending, saving and sharing. The kit includes a Moon jar, a family guide to get you started and a passbook to record deposits and withdrawals. Moon jar was created as a tool for children and families to institute strong financial values and practices into their daily lives. They also have books and DVDs to teach children about financial matters.
There is also a link, “Parent Resource” with links to other sites on each of the three topics.
The Philanthropy link contains downloads of two free books on teaching about giving. The free downloads are sponsored by The Seattle Foundation.
The “Giving with a Mission” download focuses on identifying values and creating a personal mission statement and is relevant to families and individuals who are interested in developing a giving plan. The “Growing up Giving” download teaches young people about giving to others.
There are several different types of banks available from different companies. In future articles I will write about other alternatives. The main thing is to get started teaching kids as early as you can to get them on the right track.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Personal finance blogs

If you search online for websites and blogs on saving money, you will get thousands. In this article I will share with you a few blogs that I visit regularly. There are many more, but these are a few of the main ones I visit.
The Simple Dollar is a blog by Trent Hamm. Get Rich Slowly is by JD Roth. Both Trent and JD made reckless financial decisions in their early years and finally decided they had to turn around their financial lives. They started their blogs to tell their stories of the mess they were in and how they got out of it. The blogs include both stories of their own and other people. JD has various writers that now contribute their own stories to his site. The sites have great archive lists by category so you can go to the entries that interest you easily. It is basic information for people searching for answers and great reminders for others that need a refresher course. The other day when I told a friend I was writing on this site she said money is something people need to hear over and over because they may know what to do but don’t always listen. She said it’s kind of like church, you know what you should do but don’t always do it.
Also, they have both written books, Trent’s The Simple Dollar book was just released in June. JD’s book is Your Money: The Missing Manual
Another site I visit some is Wise Bread which includes articles on various financial issues and money saving topics.
While there is a ton of information out there on money, I hope you find some useful information on these sites.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Employee Financial Literacy

In previous posts I have mentioned the importance of teaching children about finances. Along with that is teaching Employee Financial Literacy. Many of us were not taught how to manage finances when we were in school. In many cases also, people are trained how to practice their profession but then get out of school and do not know how to run the “business” part of a business.
Studies show that in 1979, 10% of adults reported they had stress from personal finance difficulties, in recent studies that number has climbed to 25%. Employees often list financial stress as the top source of all types of stress they experience.
For employers, financial literacy education in the workplace can lead to improved motivation, improved recruitment and retention of staff. Providing employees the tools to become financially literate about the basics – knowing how to manage personal savings, understand credit and create a spending plan helps improve factors that affect the organization’s bottom line, such as productivity.
Employees under financial stress can be passive, unengaged in their work, confused and anxious about mortgage and college loans, vehicle and credit card payments and more.
I feel it is now more than important than ever to face these issues. When people are having difficulties with their finances and start borrowing, that borrowing cannot go on forever and someday they will have to face it. The sooner they get to the root of the problem and start solving it the better. Also, if we educate employees they will be better equipped to teach their children about finances
For more information on employee financial literacy training click here

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thrift store deals

Walked to the thrift store this AM and found a couple of great deals. Set of 4 martini glasses still in the box (reg $25) $5. Magic bullet with blender and juicer (looks brand new reg $100) $7. I had a MB but not blender/juicer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Money Smart program

Yesterday I saw a billboard advertising the Money Smart program through the Fargo Library. Money Smart is a program to help students get off on the right foot financially and keep on the right track. There is information for both students and seniors. The website includes articles on a variety of topics and other website resources.
The topics covered on the website include buying a car, College and Financial Air resources, Credit Cards and Saving & Investing. There are also games to play, to make learning more fun. The credit card section explains what to look for in a credit card, credit limits, interest rates, etc. The saving and investing section helps to show the importance of saving for goals and retirement.
Some of the senior topics are Identity theft, avoiding fraud, end of life planning (estate planning, living trust and wills and estates) and Retiring & Saving. The identity theft websites have information to deter, detect and defend against identity theft. The fraud section covers investment fraud and frauds against the elderly.

New blogs

I have started writing articles for Directory of Fargo Moorhead and Examiner Fargo

New Credit Card Rules

New credit card laws go into effect in August. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (or Credit CARD Act) of 2009 includes the most sweeping changes in how credit cards are marketed, advertised and managed in decades.
The law limits when credit card interest rates can be increased on existing balances and allows consumer whose interest rates have been increased to reduce their annual percentage rates (APRs) to previous levels if they have been good and paid their bills on time for six months.
Consumer protections started being phased in during August 2009. At that time, all card issuers had to begin giving 45-day advance notice of significant changes in card terms. They also to give consumers at least 21 days (instead of the previous 14) to pay their monthly credit card bills. The bulk of the consumer protections – limiting when interest rates can be increased, banning universal default and double-cycle billing, and restricting credit cards for minors, took effect February 22, 2010.
Provisions for restoring interest rates to previous levels if cardholders show six months of good behavior start on August 22, 2010. Making gift cards valid for at least five years and requiring that fees are reasonable.
Other provisions of the bill include:
Fines of up to $5,000 for card issuers that violate the act.
Banning universal default and double-cycle billing.
Prohibiting over-limit fees unless consumers agree to allow transactions that exceed their credit limits o go through rather than be denied.
Fees for late payments, over-limit charges or other penalty fees must be reasonable and related to the violation.
A blog post on Get Rich Slowly includes an illustration showing Anatomy of Credit Card Statement.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Websites to teach kids about money

In this article I am going to include some websites that include resources to help kids learn about money. As with other things it is easier to teach kids when you can make it seem like fun instead of actual learning.
The Money Wizdom program is designed to teach young children valuable money skills and habits starting as young as five years old. The program gives kids the responsibility—with your help—to manage their own money. And then the cool stuff starts to happen. Kids gain confidence, make smarter decisions, and discover the joys of achieving goals and giving back to their community.
Teaching kids about money includes articles on a variety of subjects such as kids and summer jobs, teaching about taxes, etc. One of the articles mentions money flash cards. A series of coins and dollars are shown and the child is suppose to type in the amount of money that is shown. This is part of another website, a plus math which looks like a good resource to keep up on math skills also over the summer.
Another site is US Mint for kids Topics include history of coins and how the mint makes money. There is also an interactive clubhouse with games and coin news and mint history.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees

I feel one of the most important things in our current economic times is to teach children how to manage finances. Many of us were not taught about how to manage money when we were growing up. The main things to teach children are the differences between wants and needs, saving and spending, and where money comes from. It's easy for them to think you can just swipe a card or write a check and you will always have enough. When I volunteered for Junior Achievement, the first day I was talking about what a volunteer is and asked the students about it. They said its when you work and don't get paid. They weren't too keen on that idea.

You can use your everyday experiences as a teaching tool. When you go to the bank, explain to your children what you are doing, making a deposit, getting cash, etc. In the book, "Money doesn't grow on trees" on the stories is about a friend of hers who took his kids on a trip across the country to see their grandparents. Everytime they stopped one of the children was always lagging behind. When they were almost home, the father asked him why he was always late. He replied that he kept having to pick up the money his father kept forgetting. He had been picking up the tips at every stop.

Now financial literacy is being promoted more and many states are including it in their curriculums.

One of the organizations working towards financial literacy is Junior Achievement. A few months ago I started volunteering with Junior Achievement. It was a great experience and I am looking forward to future opportunities. Volunteers go into class rooms for 5 lessons. The lessons are between 30 and 45 minutes. The students really look forward to it.

One of my upcoming goals is to provide a weekly article with websites and other resources that deal with teaching children about money and finances.

This fall I am teaching a Community Education course on this subject of ways to teach your children about how to handle money.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

NAWBO July meeting

New Organization for Women Business Owners forming in Fargo Moorhead. Under the sponsorship of US Bank, a steering committee is starting a local chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

NAWBO is an organization which works to: STRENGTHEN the wealth-creating capacity of our members and promote economic development; CREATE innovative and effective changes in the business culture; BUILD strategic alliances, coalitions, and affiliations; and TRANSFORM public policy and influence opinion.

They are planning on having meetings the 3rd Thursday of each month. The next meeting is a networking event on July 15th from 4:00 to 6:00 at Sarellos at 28 4th St N, Moorhead. The cost is free for members and $15 for non-members.

They request guests to bring work appropriate clothing donations for Dress for Success and Clothing Connections. Clothing donations will be accepted on an ongoing basis at all local US Bank locations.

If you have any questions about memberships or applications, contact Natalie at membership@nawbogrrv.org.