Do you need a budget?

Answer

You already have one!

Complete Answer

Simply put, a budget is how you spend your money. If you receive money (income) and spend money (expenses) you  have a budget. What you need to develop is a “Spending Plan.” I prefer this term because budget has such a negative connotation, i.e. “that’s not in the budget”, “I can’t buy this or that”, “I can’t buy fun stuff because fun stuff is not in the budget” et cetera.

So what is your Spending Plan? Would you be able to clearly explain to someone your income and expenses for the month? You should be able to describe your Spending Plan for one month. For example, “This is the amount of money I take home (income) each month and this is how I spend the money (expenses) each month.”

Knowledge/Skill

Describe your Spending Plan for one month.

Do you have to know how to manage your money?

Answer

Yes, as long as you have money you should know how to manage it.

Complete Answer

Starting around the early teens, we begin to earn money and make decisions about it – how to spend our lunch money, what shoes we like, what movie we would like to see, et cetera. By the time we are adults, we have to make most, if not all of the decisions about our money. So it follows that if you will be making decisions about money, you would benefit from a basic understanding of money management, “Financial Literacy.” These decisions will impact your financial wellbeing now and in the future.

We live in a country that values freedom, and this includes freedom in the market place – we get to spend or not spend our money however we wish. This coincides with a basic tenant of the Church that we all have free will, and that includes freedom to make decisions about money. We have the freedom, as well as the right, to make our own financial decisions.

Knowledge/Skill

Money management skills (Financial Literacy) will help you make  prudent1  financial decisions.

 

What should be your child’s first lesson about Financial Literacy (money management)?

Question  What should be your child’s first lesson about Financial Literacy (money management)?

Answer  How to save money.

Complete Answer  A basic assumption of Financial Literacy (money management) is “Don’t buy stuff if you don’t have the money to pay for it”. Most children know that instinctively. Unfortunately some adults who find themselves in financial difficulty seemed to have forgotten that basic assumption of Financial Literacy.

A child’s first lesson in Financial Literacy is how to save money. It’s called “Pay Yourself First” (PYF Savings). Every time a child has money to spend, a birthday gift, money earned for raking a neighbor’s yard, et cetera, 10% should be saved. This should be automatic and nonnegotiable.

Although these concepts are beyond the understanding of a child, in the future the PYF Saving account could be used as a rainy-day fund, a child’s personal bank to borrow money from, and eventually a retirement account.

Financial Literacy Knowledge/Skill

Teach your child how to save money using the concept of  “Pay Yourself First”.

Comments or Questions

Thank you for visiting the Financial Literacy a Life Skill site. Please feel free to submit comments and/or questions you may have about managing your money (Financial Literacy).

 

Should you teach your child(ren) about money?

Question Should you teach your child(ren) about money?

Answer Yes.

Complete Answer  “Give me a fish and I can live for a day, teach me to fish and I can live for a lifetime”. Consistent with that theme and as your child’s first teacher, one of the most valuable lessons you could teach your child is how to manage their money – Financial Literacy. My parents used the expression, “How to stand on your own two feet”. Additionally, our children learn from seeing what we do.

There is a reluctance to talk about finances, especially with our children. “People would rather talk about their sex lives than their finances.”17 As difficult and awkward that may be, Financial Literacy it is one of the most valuable lessons a parent could give a child.

The “when” and “what” talks about finances will be covered in coming posts.

Financial Literacy Knowledge/Skill

Teach your child(ren) how to manage their money – Financial Literacy.

Comments or Questions

Thank you for visiting the Financial Literacy Life Skill site. Please feel free to submit comments and/or questions you may have about managing your money (Financial Literacy).

Next week’s topic: When should you teach your child(ren) about money?

What does a family’s spending plan look like?

Question  What does a family’s spending plan look like?

Answer  Family spending/expenses take priority over individual spending/expenses.

Complete Answer A family spending plan is similar to a spending plan for a single person – simply combine net incomes to get Family Net Income.

Family Net Income 100%
Pay Your Family First (Savings) 10%
Housing 30%
Transportation 15%
Health & Medical, Giving, Retirement, Debt Paydown, et cetera 20%
Lifestyle 25%

However, because each member of a family is financially responsible for the financial well-being of the entire family, family spending/expenses take priority over individual spending/expenses. In the above example, the first four categories, Savings, Housing, Transportation, Health & Medical et al,  would be considered family expenses and take priority over Lifestyle spending/expenses.

Because we all have different values, interests and priorities, in my family’s spending plan, Lifestyle spending is divided in half; 12.5% for my wife and 12.5% for me. Your family’s Spending Plan will be unique to your family. The above Plan is only provided as a guide. Additionally, your family’s income and expenses vary from month to month. You both get to decide what categories are included and how much is spent for each in your Plan.

Financial Literacy Knowledge/Skill

Develop a Family Spending Plan unique for your family.

Comments or Questions

Thank you for visiting the Financial Literacy Life Skill site. Please feel free to submit comments and/or questions you may have about managing your money (Financial Literacy).

Next week’s topic: Should you teach your child(ren) about money?

Can you insure yourself?

Question Can you insure yourself?

Answer Yes.

Complete Answer  To insure yourself is called self-insure.

The underlying principle of insurance is shared risk/loss. As an example: For every 100 people, one person will have a financial loss of $1,000 during a year. It may be you or one of the other 99, we don’t know. If everyone pitches in $10 ($10 x 100 = $1,000) there will be enough money in the insurance pool to cover the loss of $1,000 for that unlucky person. The other 99 people, each will be out $10 – shared loss. If you decide not to pay $10 to participate in the insurance pool, you instead set aside $1,000 to be used if you become than unlucky person, you are insuring yourself.

Please Note: If you choose to self-insure, you are still exposed to any potential risks and are financially responsible for damages or losses you may cause.

The most common form of self-insurance is an insurance policy with a deductible clause. Generally, the higher the dollar amount of a deductible, the lower the cost of the insurance policy. It would be prudent to set aside the amount of the deductible into a savings account to be used if you suffer a loss. As with other types of savings, I have found that having money automatically deducted from my paycheck and placed into a savings account is one of the easiest ways to save money.

Financial Literacy Knowledge/Skill

A person can self-insure by setting aside money for potential losses.

Comments or Questions

Thank you for visiting the Financial Literacy Life Skill site. Please feel free to submit comments and/or questions you may have about managing your money (Financial Literacy).

Next week’s topic: Should personal finances be discussed before you are married?

How do you get out of debt?

Question How do you get out of debt?

Answer Stop spending more money than you take home.

Complete Answer  When you have mastered the three most critical elements of managing your money; know your income and expenses, live below your means, and save (Financial Literacy Knowledge and Skills), you will be in a position to get out of and stay out of debt.

Step 1 in getting out of debt is to stop spend more money than you take home each month – live below your means.

Step 2 is to list all your debts from the smallest to largest balances.

Debt Balance
Credit Card A 300.00
Credit Card B 1,500.00
Credit Card C 3,500.00
Car 18,000.00
House 103,000.00

Step 3 is to determine the amount of minimum monthly payment for each.

Debt Minimum
Monthly
Payment
Credit Card A* 25.00
Credit Card B* 37.50
Credit Card C* 87.50
Car 500.00
House 1,100.00

*Minimum payment of $25.00 or 2.5% of unpaid balance, 18% interest on unpaid balance.11

Step 4 Pay extra on the debt with the lowest balance while paying the remaining debts at the minimum or required amounts each month.

If only the minimum amount ($25.00) was paid each month for Credit Card A, the total interest would be $33.27 and take 14 month to pay off. On the other hand, by adding an additional $75.00 each month (total $100.00), the debt would be paid off in 4 months, with total interest of $9.32.

Step 5 When the first debt is paid off, add that money to to pay off the next debt, then the next,  and so on until you are out of debt.

Please Note: The process of getting out of and staying out of debt only works if you are living below your means – spending less money than you take home. If you continue to spend more money than you take home, you will never get out of debt.

Financial Literacy Knowledge/Skill

How to get out of and stay out of debt.

Comments or Questions

Thank you for visiting the Financial Literacy Life Skill site. Please feel free to submit comments and/or questions you may have about managing your money (Financial Literacy).

Next week’s topic: Should you lend money to a family member or friend?

How much should you be spending for housing expenses?

Question How much should you be spending for housing expenses?

Answer 25% – 35% of your take-home pay.

Complete Answer “How to” rent an apartment or buy a house is beyond the scope of this blog. This post is intended to help you determine if you can afford the rent and/or mortgage for a place to live.

From the post of July 25, 2016, the recommended amount for monthly housing expenses is 30%, it may vary between 25% and 35%, of your take-home pay. Housing Expenses include all the expenses for a place to live. In addition to the amount you pay for rent or a mortgage each month, it includes the monthly cost for utilities, cable/satellite/Internet service, cell phone, insurance, repairs/maintenance, parking, et cetera.

Please Note: Being “homeless” is just as bad as it sounds. In times of financial crisis, your home should be the very last thing that you give up. If you have to live with a friend or family member until you are back on your feet and can find a place of your own, you should offer to pay them 25% of your take-home pay. Most likely, your friend/family member will refuse. If they accept your offer or not, you should keep them informed of your progress of saving money and finding a place of your own and when you plan to move out.

Long-term Goal: If you decide that you want to be a home owner, your long-term goal should be to pay off your mortgage before you retire. Please note, that even if you have a home that is paid off, you will still have property taxes, insurance, and maintenance and repair expenses.

Financial Literacy Knowledge/Skill

Your total Housing Expenses should be between 25% and 35% of your monthly take-home pay.

Comments or Questions

Thank you for visiting the Financial Literacy Life Skill site. Please feel free to submit comments and/or questions you may have about managing your money (Financial Literacy).

Next week’s topic: How much should you be spending for a car?

What banking services do you need?

Question What banking services do you need?

Answer A checking account, savings account, debit card, and a credit card.

Complete Answer  As with the purchase of any good or service, shop around for cost, features, and convenience.

Your checking account is your operating capital account. Deposit all monies received into this account. Use this account to pay all monthly bills on time and withdraw spending money, cash, as you need it. You will need a checking account that allows you to deposit money (checks and cash), write checks, both electronically and manually and access to your account using an ATM for both deposits and withdrawals.

The first expense to be paid each month is to you. Deposit 10% of your take-home pay (Pay Yourself First) into a savings account. If you have money left over at the end of the month, put that amount into your savings account. Use your savings account if you must as explained in the posts of October 10, 2016, but always pay yourself back. You will be pleasantly surprised how quickly the amount grows and how much will be in your savings account at the end of the year.

Helpful Hint  Through no fault of your own, you could be the victim of identity theft and or bank fraud – unexpected financial emergencies. Because of the threats of identity theft and bank fraud, use two completely different banks (not affiliated with one another) for your checking account and your PYF Savings Account. If an account is compromised, you will still have access to some money from the second bank until the problem is resolved.

With a debit card you do not have to carry a lot of cash. It is an option you have with most checking accounts. A debit card, also known as a check card, may be used to make purchases, pay bills, and make cash withdrawals from an ATM. A debit card is especially handy for making purchases when you don’t know the amount of the purchase in advance, weekly groceries or a tank of gas for example.

In reality, a credit card is a short-term loan to make a purchase. As such, interest is charged for credit card balances that are carried for more than the one month billing cycle. A credit card is ideal for Internet purchases and a must when traveling. In most cases, you will also need a credit card to rent a car. I personally use my credit card for automatic payments, and pay off the balance each month. It gives me a record of the date of the payment and I have more control over the automatic payment process.

Financial Literacy Knowledge/Skill

A checking account, savings account, debit card, and a credit card are the basic banking services you will need to manage your money effectively.

Comments or Questions

Thank you for visiting the Financial Literacy Life Skill site. Please feel free to submit comments and/or questions you may have about managing your money (Financial Literacy).

Next week’s topic: How much should you be spending for housing expenses?

Is a credit score important?

Question Is a credit score important?

Answer Yes.

Complete Answer  A credit score is a numerical value based on the information contained in your credit report which is a detailed report of your credit activities. Your credit score, also known as your FICO score, tells a potential lender your credit worthiness, the likelihood that you will pay back a loan. The higher your credit score, the more likely you will pay back the loan, less risk for the lender. Conversely, the lower your credit score, the less likely you will pay back the loan, more risk for the lender.

Credit scores are important because they are used:

  1. To determine if you will be granted credit for a mortgage, car loan, credit cards, et cetera and the interest rate that will be charged. Generally, the higher your credit score the lower the interest rate.
  2. To determine if and the amount of a down payment and/or security deposit will be required for an apartment rental, cell phone purchase, et cetera.
  3. To determine the cost of insurance; car, renter’s, or home owner’s. The higher your credit score, the lower cost of certain types of insurance.
  4. By potential employers who may view a poor credit score as an indication that a person is living beyond their means which could negatively impact your ability to get a new job.

If you follow the three most critical elements of Financial Literacy, knowing your income and expenses, living below your means, and saving, you will have a respectable credit score.

Please Note: You should get a credit report at least once a year and review it for accuracy. The three major credit reporting agencies are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You are entitled to receive a free credit report once a year from each agency.
Contact Information:  Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281; www.annualcreditreport.com; (877) 322-5281.

Financial Literacy Knowledge/Skill

A credit score is important not only because it is an indication of your credit worthiness, but is used to give some indication of your ability to manage your finances in a responsible manner.

Comments or Questions

Thank you for visiting the Financial Literacy Life Skill site. Please feel free to submit comments and/or questions you may have about managing your money (Financial Literacy).

Next week’s topic:  What banking services do you need?