March 2014 - Posts - Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger
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Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger

March 2014 - Posts

  • 10 Teaching Kids About Money Truths

    by Christy Ross 
    1. Start early in life and modify to be age appropriate. Get young children (ages 3-6) involved in the grocery shopping and have them choose which items to buy based on a pre-set amount. As they get older (ages 7-13), concepts such as comparison shopping, growing your money through saving and investing, and borrowing money become important.

    2. Walk your talk. Impulsive buying and racking up credit card debt are behaviors that don’t go unnoticed by your children. Don’t shy away from explaining to your kids where all that money in a paycheck goes. It’s invaluable for them to learn that just because something looks good, it doesn’t mean you buy it.

    3. Don’t underestimate the allowance. Once your child starts school, introducing an allowance is a good idea. Treat their allowance as if it were their own paycheck and set aside 20-30% to savings. As they get older, you can start to allocate a portion of their allowance to pay for something that they really enjoy. They’ll learn about budgeting, savings and also comparison-shopping to find the best deal.

    4. Give them the power of earning money on their own. In addition to an allowance, encourage your child to earn money through projects or help them to brainstorm ways to make money. Once they start to earn money through their own hard work and effort, their interest in learning about money management also increases.

    5. Get your kids involved in budgeting. It’s helpful to include your children in planning for large family expenditures such as vacations and summer camps. How you came up with the budget number is just as important as what it is, especially if it was derived from a monthly savings that you’ve set aside each month.

    6. Encourage them to participate in saving or investing their money. It’s never too early to open a savings account so they can learn the concept of compound interest. Use allowance and earned money as a way to show how their income can be allocated to different buckets: short term spending (candy at the movie), long term savings (new mountain bike), and investment for their future.

    7. Set financial goals to teach savings and borrowing. Rather than buying the latest product automatically, show your child how to save for these items. Lend them money at a simple interest rate so they learn the concept of time value of money.

    8. Make it a game. Every kid, no matter the age, likes the challenge of a game. Make it a family game night and bring out the Monopoly or Life board games. There are computer games that teach kids the basics of running a business such as Zoo Tycoon and Sim Coaster.

    9. Start using online financial tools now. If your child uses a checking or credit card account, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t also track their spending and savings using the latest tools. New services like MoneyStream uses a simple calendar based system to show where money is going and analyzes past spending to predict future inflows and outflows. If your child is in college you can easily monitor the checking balance and know when to make a transfer (or give them a refresher course on managing their money).

    10. Check out more resources for teaching kids. There are many resources that provide guidance for teaching kids good money management skills. Moneyasyougrow.org, Warren Buffet’s SMCKids.com (Secret Millionaire’s Club), and Independent Means (www.independentmeans.com/) are just a few to check out.

    Christy Ross, the Chief Marketing Officer of MoneyStream and a mother of 3 boys, has built a long career in the financial industry. When she’s not balancing the demands of 3 busy boys (ages 6, 10, and 13), she’s helping financial technology start-ups grow. While sometimes missing the mark on walking the talk (don’t we all), she strives to help her kids become good stewards of their money and ultimately their life.

    MoneyStream is a new online service that puts people in control of their money today so they can have the luxury of planning for their tomorrows. MoneyStream is the only free online service that provides insights into a customer’s money, gives them the control levers to set, and then does the work for them, on their behalf. The service does this by linking to all bank accounts, credit card account, and biller accounts to provide the necessary data (statements, bill payment details, payment instructions, history) and then presents this in an easy to user calendar interface that allows customers to actively see where their money went, where it’s going tomorrow, and set when they want to be notified about it. MoneyStream’s smart technology quickly learns what the customer needs and acts accordingly. It’s like putting your money on “auto-pilot” making managing the day-to-day easier and enjoyable. www.moneystream.com/

  • Nine Wacky Deductions You Never Knew Existed

    by Joseph Raspolich

    When tax season rolls around, are you the type of person who leaves no stone unturned until every possible deduction is itemized? If you answered yes, then congratulations, you’re part of the greater majority. In these unstable economic times, it would be difficult to find anyone not willing to go the extra mile for a buck. We’ve scoured the seas (literally) in search of unknown federal tax deductions. While some of them sound outlandish, we guarantee that they’re all legitimate, so hold onto your tax returns because these aren’t your run of the mill tax breaks!

    A Whale Sized Deduction

    Thanks to an Alaskan whaling captain, whalers can deduct up to $10,000 of ship repairs and expenses. The catch is you must be of Native American descent in order to qualify because of nationwide hunting regulations.

    Kidnapped Kids

    If you’re the parent of a kidnapped child, by law you can claim them as dependents until they’re 18. Prior to this amendment, you had to stop claiming the child at the time of the kidnapping.

    Music Lessons for All

    In 1962, a provision was added to tax law which permits the deduction of clarinet lessons because an orthodontist argued that it can help a child’s overbite and therefore has a "medical purpose." That’s one way to fix a smile!

    Quit Smoking

    This is by far one of the most useful deductions. Any programs, patches, or cigarette cessation tools can be written-off. If that’s not a good enough reason to ditch the cigs, we don’t know what is.

    Furry Friends are Covered

    Most Americans already know that they can deduct moving expenses if it pertains to job relocation, but they neglect to include their four-legged friends. The costs associated with moving your pet can also be included in that write-off.

    Guard Dog on Duty

    Any business which uses an animal as a means of security can deduct a portion of the pet related expenses.

    The Risk is Worth the Gain

    Gambling pays big if you’re a foreign national. Winnings are exempt from the 30% withholding tax which Americans are required to pay. Lawrence Levy, Founder and CEO of Levy & Associates says, “A professional tax accountant will know the most about the different tax laws and possible deductions.” If possible, consult a tax account who knows the ins and outs of tax code.

    Swim into Savings

    That swimming pool you’ve always dreamed of may become a reality with a little help from the doctor. The cost of a home swimming pool may qualify as a tax deduction if you’ve got a medical condition requiring a swimming regimen. Of course, this must be confirmed by a board certified practitioner.

    Medical Massages

    Similar to the swimming pool deduction, you can itemize a massage if it’s deemed “medically necessary” by a doctor. Pretty much any expense directly related to combating obesity can be written off if a doctor has told you that your health is in jeopardy. In fact, the IRS ruled in 2002 that obesity was a medical disease, and as a result, bariatric surgery was added as a medical expense

    The official IRS website has a full list of credits and deductions you may be eligible for. When in doubt, however, consult a professional tax agency with the depth of knowledge to complete your taxes accurately.

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