Sunday, July 31, 2011

30-Minute Money Solutions

“30-Minute Money Solutions: A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing Your Finances” by Christine Benz is as the title states, it give you steps to get your finances in order. Each chapter discusses a certain topic and then gives steps that take about 30 minutes each to complete. Included in each step are website links for worksheets and information that deal with that step.

Some of the topics covered are Finding your Baseline, Getting Organized, Get started investing, retirement, and monitoring your investments.

The book can either be read in its entirety for a comprehensive money plan or you can read chapters that deal with specific challenges.

Christine is Director of Personal Finance at Morningstar.

Kids Money Workshop - Half price

I have posted various times about how I feel it is important to teach kids about money when they are young. Instead of a regular class, I have developed a workshop of various stations with activities to learn about money and finances. Kids can work through the stations at their own pace. Geared towards kids 8 years and up. Now also separate activities for kids years 3-8.

Saturday, August 6, anytime from 10:00AM - noon I will be offering the workshop for $5, which is half of the regular price $10 includes workbook). Come as your schedule allows, no need to register, come when you can.

The class is at In the Black Money Coaching, 1100 32nd Ave S, Ste E, Moorhead.

If you have questions, contact Nancy at 701-799-1857 or

Look for future dates for upcoming classes if you cannot make it this week at

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Not Your Parent's Money Book

I have read a number of books written by Jean Chatzky and was excited to see she has written a book about money for teenagers, “Not Your Parents’ Money Book”. Jean is the financial editor for the Today show and frequent contributor to other talk shows and media sourcres.

As part of the research for the book, she met with groups of kids at middle schools across the country and them questions about what they know about money and things they want to know about money. The book is peppered with questions from kids and her answers to their questions. Also included in the book are fun facts and quizzes about money.

There are chapters about earning money, spending money and saving money. She gives ideas of ways to earn money besides the regular babysitting and cutting lawns and discusses the different vehicles for saving the money you earn.

She also discusses and explains investing and ways to invest. Many of the money related words are highlighted in the book and defined in the glossary at the end of the book. So if there are words that you do not understand you can jump to the glossary and look it up. She also discusses the economy and recession, which may be words that kids hear about and may not know what they mean.

Also included in the end of the book are sections on the history of money and how money is made.

The book is concluded by a list of web resources for more information. The websites include informational websites as well as websites that have games and puzzles pertaining to money and finances.

As with other topics it may be easier for kids to learn if they do not think they are actually learning anything, making it fun to learn.

This is a great resource to teach kids about the important subject of dealing with money and finances. It is about 150 pages and a quick and easy read.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


LearnVest is a website to empower women to take control of their personal finances. It includes information, tools and support they need to earn well, save well and spend well.

The website is updated daily with expert advice, lifestyle tips, news and more. The LearnVest Daily e-newsletter is delivered to your inbox, with lifestyle and money tips. You can also sign up for the bootcamp which sends you steps to get your financial life under control.

You can also enter information on all of your accounts and monitor activity, create a personalized budget and track progress against your spending goals. It is protected by bank level security and encryption so your accounts are always 100% safe and secure.

I have not personally entered information on my accounts, but I do receive the daily emails and bootcamp emails. I have been getting them for a couple of weeks.

This is another of the many resources for personal finance information available online.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Free Money Activity Book for Kids

I feel it is very important to teach kids about money starting at a young age. Great Minds Think:A Kid’s Guide to Money is a free activity book from The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. You can either download a copy from the website or order print copies of it.

The activity book is filled with exercises to help middle-school-aged kids make thoughtful decisions about money. It can help adults start a conversation about money with children. The activities introduce concepts such as earning, spending, budgeting, and saving.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Lure of a Sale

Just because something is on sale or you have a coupon to use does not always make it a good deal. I know because I used to shop like this. I used to buy a lot of things mainly because they were on sale and seemed like a great deal.

I now hear people say they needed to buy something because they had a coupon for a certain percentage off or that it was on sale. It may be a deal if it is something you have been looking for or something you need, but if you are buying something just because you have a coupon that is why the companies send out coupons and run sales. And in some cases, people may think since they saved money on their purchase, that means they have more money to spend on other items.

The same thing is true with shopping at dollar stores and thrift stores, things are inexpensive but those dollar items can add up quick. I am not saying shopping at these kinds or stores is a bad thing. I shop at them regularly, but like at other stores you need to think about what you are buying and if it something you really need or if you are just buying it because it seems like a good deal.

Years ago, the daughter of my boss at the time was looking at a sale ad and said she could save a certain percentage off. Her daughter, who was in grade school at the time told her "If you don't go shopping, you can save 100%".

Literally moments after I posted this, I ran across this post by Jean Chatzky about The Psychology of Bargains.

Saving to Give

Looking for deals to help others. I have posted previously about how using coupons and looking for deals I can help others more than I normally would be able to. The past couple of weeks the Dakota Boys Ranch stores have been having their end of season bag sales, a paper bag of clothes for $4. I was able to get a bag the last two weekends and am able to donate over 50 pieces of baby and kids summer clothes to the YWCA shelter for $8. Just figuring the thrift store prices, that is almost $100 of value.

Here is a current list of items needed by the YWCA Cass Clay Womens Shelter in Fargo.
Another way to help out is the United Way Cass Clay School Supply Drive. Donations of new backpacks and school supplies can be dropped off between Tuesday, July 12 and Friday, August 12 at the following locations: West Acres , Gate City Bank (all locations), Moorhead Center Mall, Wal-Mart (All locations), First International Bank and Trust (all locations), Elite Therapeutic Massage, United Way of Cass Clay, Starion Financial (all locations) and the FARGODOME.

Monetary donations can be mailed to UWCC, PO Box 1609, Fargo, ND 58107 or dropped off at United Way of Cass-Clay at 219 7th St S, Fargo or you can give online. Volunteers are needed weekdays August 1-18.

Supplies are available for students residing in and attending K-12 schools in Cass or Clay counties. Distribution is Saturday, August 13 from 8 am – 12 pm at the FARGODOME and Thursday, August 18 from 4-8 pm at Concordia College Memorial Auditorium and West Fargo Veterans Arena.
Students and families in need can complete the registration form and bring it to one of the sites. Registration forms will also be available on the site the day of distribution.

So if you have extra school supplies or can pick up extra when you are shopping, this would be a great cause to support.

Also, the Valley News Coats for Kids is collecting new or gently used kids winter coats and items from July 18-August 12. Drop off sites are listed on the website.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thrive by 5

Thrive By 5 is a resource sponsored by the Credit Union National Association with information on teaching your preschooler about spending and saving.

Children learn about money from many sources. They observe adults using money and buying things. What children witness affects their attitudes about what money is for. Some of those beliefs will help them as adults and some will not.

The website includes activities and other resources to give you ideas for teaching how money works and what it can do, talking about how your family uses money and modeling good money management.

The earlier you start talking to children about money the better. It is a part of our daily lives and they will need to learn how to handle it in the future.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Saving on Groceries

One way grocery stores and other stores market to consumers are 5/$5 or other variety of sales. You should check with your store, but in many cases you can still get the sale price with only buying 1 or 2 of the items. However, some consumers think they are getting a better deal when they buy more. But if you are not going to be able to use them up before they spoil, it is not a deal.

Here is an article about this marketing concept.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Got Zucchini

I have been getting vegetables through a CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) this summer, Bluebird Gardens. Following is a recipe for a chocolate zucchini I made today.

Zucchini Chip Snack Cake (from Taste of Home 2004 Annual Recipes)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teasppon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup buttermilk (one tip I saw years ago and have used most of the time is to use regular milk with about a tablespoon of lemon juice instead of buttermilk)
2 cups shredded peeled zucchini
2 cups (12 ozs) semisweet chocolate chips.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in oil, eggs and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients, add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Stir in zucchini.

Pour into a greased 13x9x2 baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. makes 12-15 servings.

The Oddity of Saving

I feel part of the reason some people are in tough financial situations is because of many thinking instant gratification is the norm. Some of them feel that if they get some extra money or have money left over they must spend it.

Today, I went to the dentist to get a temporary crown put on one of my teeth. The last time I was in for a checkup, the assistant thought I would need to have the tooth built up before putting the crown on. Today they found out it didn't need to be built up, so I saved about $250. The assistant told me that and said now I could go spend it at the fair or street fair or something.

When I got done and asking about the bill, the receptionist said I could save $50 if I paid it today. I am fortunate to have the money available and was able to write a check for the full amount today and was able to save $50. She also made a comment about being able to have more to spend at the street fair or something.

A few weeks ago we had a family reunion. One day I took my 10 year old nephew to the store to pick up some things for my mom. She gave me some cash and he thought we had to spend the entire amount, but we didn't.

You may think you need something now, but consider if you really do want it or if you could do or buy something else in the future if you saved the money.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Credit Card or Not

Recently, there was an article about reasons to give up your credit cards. There are various thoughts on both having credit cards and not having credit cards.

Studies have shown that in a lot of cases you may spend more if you are using credit cards than if you are using cash. When you use cash you feel the pain of spending the money more and you need to know that you have enough cash with you. Some say that you need an active credit card to have a credit history and good credit rating.

It may be helpful to have a credit card, but it is important to try to be able to pay it off monthly to save on interest and finance charges. If you use a credit card to purchase things on sale and are unable to pay it off at the end of the month, then it was not such a great deal.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CashCourse Webinars

In a previous post I talked about Cash Course. Cash Course is a free online program to help college students learn how to handle their finances. They can register online and have access to resources, such as articles, quizzes, calculators and budgeting tools. It was created by NEFE, The National Endowment for Financial Education. Once a school is enrolled, CashCourse is available to students to access directly 24/7.

It is offered by over 550 colleges and universities throughout the country. Locally it is offered at NDSU, UND, Minnesota State University Moorhead, and NDSCS Wahpeton.

There are webinars scheduled for Tuesday, July 19 and Friday, July 22 from 11am – 12pm, EDT. The webinar will provide an overview of the new CashCourse Promotion Plan: Your Guide to Making CashCourse a Success at your School. It will give you ideas and techniques that will help you use CashCourse and promote financial education on your campus.

Free Kindle Book - Easy Money

Easy Money:How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want Out of Life by Liz Pulliam Weston is on Amazon right now for free for the Kindle book. If you do not have a Kindle, there is software you can downloand to read Kindle Ebooks on your computer or i-phones.

Liz Pulliam Weston is a columnist for MSN Money and author of the nationally syndicated column Money Talk. Easy Money a practical, easy-to-understand guide to taking control of personal finances and establishing financial security. The book covers the basics, such as creating a financial toolkit, investing, planning for retirement and saving for college. Each chapter contains checklists, charts and tables to help the reader to get and stay organized.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Financial Toolkit for Disaster Victims

With our summer weather comes tornadoes and this year some areas are experiencing record flooding, when they don’t usually have to worry about flooding.

”Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit” is a free resource developed in partnership by the North Dakota State University Extension Service and University of Minnesota Extension. It is designed to help people who have experienced a disaster in putting their financial lives back together.

The hands-on tool kit can help disaster victims learn key strategies for financial recovery, identify helpful resources and explore options.
Some of the elements of the tool kit are 10 key strategies disaster survivors should know as they begin to work on their financial recovery. Checklists of what to do during the various times of your recovery and worksheets to assess you financial situation and make plans for long- term recovery.

Even if you have not experienced a disaster yourself it is a great tool to have on hand in case something happens in the future.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What are your Financial Values

What are your financial values? When we know what are values are and what is important to us it is easier to understand why we spend our money the way we do. To learn more about your financial values take the LifeValues Quiz.
The quiz consists of 20 multiple choice questions pertaining to the four LifeValues. They include Inner LifeValues, Social LifeValues, Financial LifeValues and Physcial LifeValues.
Inner values include our identity and social identity. From a financial perspective they frame the behaviors that lead to financial security. Inner values also shape our sense of purpose and meaning in life.
Social LifeValues are about “belonging” and relatedness. Our desire to be with others or to be a loner affects our living and working habits. Also, providing for others, budgeting jointly and sharing expenses are part of this area.

Financial LifeValues are about money and finances. They reflect what we think or believe about our money and financial affairs more than how much money we actually have.

Most people, regardless of their educational level or financial situation is concerned with three things. These are “Do I have enough”, “How long will my money last” and “Is this the right choice for me?”

Physical LifeValues are about the tangible aspects of life: the external world as well as the state of our physical health and well-being. Such values relate to the amount of space we need to feel comfortable and the degree to which we are satisfied and fulfilled by aesthetic stimulation and material possessions. Physical values involve the actual health of our bodies and the measures we are willing to take to secure that health, but they also are about our desire for beauty and comfort.

So once you determine what you value you can see more clearly why you are spending your money the way you do and if there are things that you can give up that are not as important to you.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Strike it Rich

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change by Ken Potter and Dr. Brian Allen is a guide to making money by looking for coins with errors. People have collecting coins for years, now others collect them for the value in them because of errors because flawed dies.

Usually we think the older the coin, the more valuable. But most coins with printing errors have been produced since 1963. Some coins have the printing from another coin printed on one side of it. Other errors are double die cast, don’t have printing on the edges or ridges like they should have.

The main equipment needed are magnifiers and lighting. Both can be purchased for a minimum amount.

To preserve your finds, never clean a coin any rubbing and cleaning can cause further damage to the coin and decrease the value.

When you get a collection of these coins and think about selling them there are three main ways to sell the coins. They are selling to dealers, selling direct to collectors and sales through auctions.

The book includes a list of specialty coin club and on-line blogs.

List of 50 state quarters by the year they were released.

The book ends with a glossary of coin terms and definitions.

This is an informative book of a hobby for both kids and adults. You may never look at a coin the same way again.

I reviewed this book as a Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger. The only compensation I received in exchange for the review is a copy of the book.

Debt Free U

Debt Free U by Zac Bissonnette is a great resource for anyone attending college or planning on attending college. It has advice for both students and parents.

It is a quick read, I ordered the Kindle version the other night and read some that night and finished it in 3-4 hours the next day. You may not agree with all of his ideas and suggestions but the book is full of information on financial aid and other ways of paying for college. It gives you questions to ask and things to think about before signing on for tons of student aid. When applying for financial aid it is important to realize how much you are borrowing and how much the payments will be and for how many years. Another thing to think about is what kind of job you are expecting to get when you graduate and what kind of income you expect to earn.

When selecting colleges, it is more important than ever in this economy to consider how much your education and other expenses are going to cost. It may be possible to save some money by taking some courses at a community college and transfer to a 4 year college.

Many parents feel obligated to pay for their kids college educations or help. In some cases it may not be possible. Some parents risk their financial futures by not saving for their own retirement to pay for their kids college expenses.

The book is on sale at for $6.40 (Reg. price $16.00) and the Kindle version is $9.99. Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download software to read it on your computer and some phones. I read it on my laptop.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Stockpiling to Save

When you hear about stockpiling, you probably picture hundreds of each item. It doesn’t have to be. You may be able to save money by having 1 or 2 extra of items you use regularly. There was an article in the newspaper today about stockpiling.

If you don’t have the money in your budget to purchase extras, try to save a little in other ways and add up until you have extra. I will share a few stories of my recent stockpiling. One of our local grocery stores had ketchup on sale for $1.85 and on the sign in the store it said that you would save $1.87 off regular price. So I bought 2 bottles and basically got 2 bottles for what I would have paid for 1 bottle at regular price. The same store had corn on the cob for 8 ears for $2. They also had some cleaned and packed. I looked and a 2 pack of cleaned corn was $2. So if you had the time to clean the corn you could get 8 ears for the same price as 2.

By stockpiling and having items you use regularly on hand you can also save yourself time by not having to run to the store every time you run out of something. By just having one or two extras you should be able to find room in your house to store the items. Unlike some of the people on the couponing shows on TV that have items stored in multiple rooms in their homes or total rooms and garages designated as stockpile storage.

So what can you stockpile to save yourself money?