Teaching Teens About Money

This year I’m excited to be partnering with Discover to share many of the great programs they offer consumers. All opinions are my own.

Did you know that April is Financial Literacy Month? This is a great opportunity to educate your teenage and young adult children on how to better manage their money.

Many teens will be starting their first job this summer and now is a great time to help them get smart about their finances before they bring home their first paycheck.

Many teens will be starting their first job this summer and now is a great time to help them get smart about their finances before they bring home their first paycheck. Here are five ways you can help your kids get on the right financial track this month.

Here are five ways you can help your kids get on the right financial track this month.

Savings

30% of consumers report having no extra cash.* Help your child join the 70% of consumers who have some savings by helping them set up an automatic savings plan, so they have money in case of an emergency or unexpected expense.

Encourage your child to save a small portion of their paycheck every week. Sometimes it helps if you are able to give them a savings incentive.

Savings incentives could be matching their savings contributions, offering to pay for half of things like cars or college (if possible), or giving them bonuses for reaching certain savings goals.

Credit Cards

Helping your older child build credit without going into debt is a very important lesson that can impact them financially for years to come.

My first credit card was a secured card, which I highly recommend for teens and young adults. With a secured card you use your initial deposit as your credit limit, meaning you can’t charge more than you’ve put down.

With the Discover it® Secured Card, your child can enjoy the full suite of Discover card benefits like 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, while they are building credit. The Discover it Secured Card reports your payment history to all three credit bureaus.

This is a great way to build credit without being tempted to spend more than they can pay every month.

Create a Budget

Last year I sat down with one of my children and helped them create a budget. You can imagine their surprise when they realized they had more bills than money. Their tight budget meant that they were unprepared for any kind of emergency.

Don’t wait until your child needs a major financial intervention to talk about budgeting. Even young children can set up a small budget when they start to receive a regular allowance. Help them make a list of all their monthly expenses and evaluate them based on their regular income.

Remind them to include savings in their budget.

Credit Score

Even though your teenager might not have any credit at sixteen, it’s important to explain to them the importance of maintaining an excellent credit score. Make sure your children know how to obtain a credit report when they are older (Discover cardmembers receive their FICO ® Credit Score for free on monthly statements and online).

Explain to them that paying bills late or not paying them at all will lead to a lower credit score, which could mean higher interest rates on credit cards, auto and home loans in the future.

Taxes

I remember my son was shocked when he received his first paycheck and it was much less than he expected. He didn’t realize things like taxes and social security would be taking a chunk out of his check every month.

Help your child understand that these deductions need to be accounted for and make sure they have enough taxes taken out of their paycheck every month so they aren’t surprised next April.

It’s never too early to start teaching your kids about money. When it comes to finances, ignorance is not bliss! Set your child up for financial success by helping them develop good spending and saving habits when they are young.

*source

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7 Tips for Growing Strawberries in Containers

If you lack space or time to plant a garden, container gardening may be for you. Growing strawberries in a container is perfect for anyone who wants fresh fruit without all the hassle, and when you keep a few simple tips in mind, you can grow fresh strawberries all season long.

If you are ready to have fresh strawberries at your fingertips, take a look below at 7 tips for growing strawberries in containers so you too can enjoy success. Here is what you need to know to get started!

If you are ready to have fresh strawberries at your fingertips, here are7 tips for growing strawberries in containers so you too can enjoy success.

First, you want to decide which sort of container is ideal for you. Strawberries do quite well in hanging baskets and look quite lovely trailing down as they bloom and produce! You can also use large planters and pots (a minimum of 12 inches is suggested) as well as window boxes or specially made raised beds. Choose what works for your space and the amount of produce you wish to grow.

1. Choose the right variety of berry

You want to be sure you choose a smaller variety of strawberries, such as Alpine. This type of strawberry is a tad smaller and likes to trail down, so it is perfect for containers, hanging baskets, and other smaller containers. Just look at the tag for Alpine strawberries or a similar, smaller variety.

2. Use nutrient-rich soil

Remember, your plant won’t be able to reach deep into the earth to find nutrients. Therefore, you will want to provide it with the best soil you can. Use a nutrient-rich soil that is fresh from the bag. Otherwise, your plant can become easily diseased or infected. Look for specially marked potting mixes perfect for container gardening.

3. Drainage is everything

While your container strawberries will love a cool sip of water, they will never want to be soggy or drenched. Make sure the container you use has plenty of drainage. This means drainage holes at the bottom of the pot for extra water to run out. If you are worried about potting soil running out, place a small piece of screen over the hole to act as a strainer.

4. Know how deep and how much to plant

Most people think you place the entire base/root of the seedlings under the soil and call it a day. This isn’t the case with strawberries. Be sure you are leaving the crown of the seedling above the soil for proper growth. Your plants will also need plenty of space to grow, so be sure to space your seedlings a good 6 – 8 inches apart. Depending on the size of your containers, this might mean only one to two plants per container.

5. Feed them every two weeks

Pack those container gardens with nutrients when you feed the strawberries a liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Use a specially marked food or potash, which also works well with strawberries. In addition, water weekly, giving the plants a good inch of water with each feeding.

6. Protect them from pests

Container gardens aren’t exempt from the prying eyes of pests. If birds are a problem, you can cover your containers with a lightweight mesh. If squirrels and ground dwelling critters are an issue, opt for a container such as a hanging basket where the fruit can’t be reached.

7. Be vigilant about dead fruit and foliage

Decaying fruit and dead foliage can quickly weaken the plant and cause it to produce less. Be sure you are removing fresh berries as soon as they can be picked, and remove any decaying fruit or brown foliage as soon as you see it. This way, the plant isn’t wasting energy on these portions and can invest efforts elsewhere.

Growing strawberries in containers can be fun and easy, just keep these tips in mind and you are sure to enjoy some success.

Check out all of our gardening posts here.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

10 Secrets of a Successful Yard Sale

These 10 steps to a successful yard sale are sure to help you get rid of items you no longer need and make some extra cash while you’re at it.

Are you planning a yard sale soon? They are a great way to not only clear your home of clutter but to make a few extra dollars as well. Yard sales can be hit or miss. If even one tiny thing is off, you could be risking not making any money at all. There are however, certain things you can do to make your yard sale more profitable. These 10 steps to a successful yard sale are sure to help you get rid of items you no longer need and make some extra cash while you’re at it.

1. Clean sale items

One of the biggest things that will turn a potential yard sale buyer away is dirty items. If you’ve got clothing, it should be washed and dried. Knickknacks and other items that will sit on tables should all be cleaned and wiped down so that they are dust and dirt free.

2. Organize similar items together

Yard sale buyers want to see what you have to offer them. If your sale is messy and items are strewn about everywhere, they won’t buy as much. In fact, some of them won’t even stop for your sale, if they can’t get a clear picture of what you’re selling from the street. Try to keep electronics together, hang clothes on a portable clothing rack, and so on. The more your buyers can see your items, the more they will buy.

3. Clean and organize your sale space

This one can get tricky if you are holding your yard sale in a small area, but making sure that you have an organized layout is another key to having a profitable yard sale. Try not to cram tables together so that your buyers have plenty of room to move around. Don’t put small items on the ground because people won’t bend over and look at them. Try to keep most items at waist height. Don’t bundle items together in trash bags. Instead, put them together in a box or tote and put a sign on it. The neater your sale appears, the more money you will make.

4. Get friendly

Speaking of your sale layout, you should walk around it. Sitting in a chair on your porch while your buyers search your sale can often come across as flippant. Instead, walk around your sale making sure to greet every single guest with a smile. Ask them if there is anything specific they are searching for. You would be surprised at how many yard sale shoppers are in need of something and you may just have their item.

5. Tease with eye candy

If you have big ticket items such as furniture or electronics, place those at the front of your sale. Doing so makes them extremely visible from the street and will draw in buyers who are looking for “new” furniture or project pieces. Just be sure that you don’t block the view of the rest of your sale items.
These 10 steps to a successful yard sale are sure to help you get rid of items you no longer need and make some extra cash while you’re at it.

6. Clearly mark your prices

If your yard sale shoppers can’t find how much you want for an item, a good majority of them will walk away. To keep that from happening, use brightly colored yard sale price stickers to price each item. Yes, you need to have a price on every single item unless you are grouping them. In that case, store them together in a box or tote and print a price sheet on your computer.

7. Keep your prices reasonable

I understand that you may have paid $50 for an item when it was new, however, yard sale shoppers won’t. If your prices are too high, you won’t sell anything. Make sure to keep your prices relative to what the item is and its condition. If you find that you have an item that you want to charge higher for, make sure that you’re really ready to get rid of it, and if so, try Craigslist or Ebay.

8. Become a haggling queen (or king)

Speaking of prices, you should be willing to negotiate. The majority of people will not offer you a low price, however, some will. If you get one of those shoppers, simply say no thank you and stick to your guns. If, however, you get a reasonable offer, don’t be afraid to take it. Keep negotiation in mind when you’re pricing your items but don’t bump up the price on something expecting it. Some people don’t negotiate, and if your item is priced too high, they won’t even bother.

9. Make proper change

Before your sale starts, make sure that you’ve gone and picked up enough change to break larger bills that your yard sale shoppers might have on them. A good place to start is $20 each in ones, tens, and fives. You’ll also want to pick up several dollars in quarters and dimes, plus a dollar or two in nickels and pennies. If you don’t have the ability to make change, you could easily lose out on a sale from someone who only has bigger bills.

10. Advertise properly

Finally, the last key to a successful yard sale is making sure that your sale is advertised properly. Gone are the days of simply putting an ad in the newspaper and small signs stapled to telephone poles. These days, you’ll want to list your sale on any Facebook groups that it is allowed on and on Craigslist as well. You should also consider picking up a yard sale kit that contains signs before your sale. Place the signs on the wooden stakes that come with it then print out arrows to attach to both the front and back of each sign pointing toward your sale. Place a sign at each corner of your street and along any other streets that are nearby.

Just make sure that you direct potential yard sale goers to your sale with each sign. A sign on a corner three blocks over won’t help much if they don’t see a second or third sign to guide them. One final sign idea is to put up a sign at your driveway directing them to your yard. This one is especially important if your sale happens to be in the back yard or garage and can easily be missed from the street.

Having a yard sale can be a great way to make cash. Using the tips above, you could easily earn several hundreds of dollars from your sale. Do you have any other tips for having a profitable yard sale?

More Yard Sale Tips

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Spring Cleaning for Your Finances

This year I’m excited to be partnering with Discover to share many of the great programs they offer consumers. All opinions are my own.

It’s finally spring! Not only am I looking forward to warmer weather, but I’m also itching to start my spring cleaning.

This is the time of year when I clean out the kids’ closets, the kitchen cabinets, our garage, and any other place in my home that collects random items throughout the year.

In addition to my annual spring cleaning, this year I’m doing a little financial spring cleaning too.

After spending the last few weeks buried in paperwork for our taxes, I’ve decided that in 2016 I’m going to be a better CFO for our family.

Here are five ways I’m cleaning up our finances this spring.

This is the time of year when I clean out the kids’ closets, the kitchen cabinets, our garage, and any other place in my home that collects random items throughout the year. In addition to my annual spring cleaning, this year I’m doing a little financial spring cleaning too. After spending the last few weeks buried in paperwork for our taxes, I’ve decided that in 2016 I’m going to be a better CFO for our family. Here are five ways I’m cleaning up our finances this spring.

De-clutter

I tend to save every receipt, business and personal. But chances are I’m not going to need a receipt from the grocery store in a month and definitely not in six months.

I’m going through my bins of receipts and only keeping the ones that are important for record keeping and business.

I’m also making sure that all my bills are signed up for e-delivery and that I can set as many to auto pay as I can. The less bills I have to personally pay every month, the more likely I am to get it done.

Monitor your credit

My husband has a very common name. So common that other people’s bad debt shows up on his credit report every year. We’ve gotten into the habit of checking our report regularly to make sure it is accurate and our credit score stays high.

Discover provides cardmembers their FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements. A good credit score is very important if you are planning on buying or refinancing your home.

We have been able to secure ridiculously low mortgage rates with our last three homes because of our great credit score.

Double check current bills

Many of our bills are set to auto pay. I spend almost no time looking them over every month.  I’m now getting into the habit of looking over all the charges and making sure they are legitimate.

Also, remember that free trial you signed up for or the extra service you added to your existing bill? Are you using them? Are they totally necessary? Every few months I try to conduct a financial audit to make sure we’re actually using the services we are paying for on a regular basis.

Many of these services cost $10 a month or less, but if you aren’t using them you are throwing that money away!

Negotiate for cheaper services

Did you know that things like cable, cell phones and subscriptions are negotiable? When your contract is up, it is a great time to call your providers and negotiate lower rates.

You can find out how we cut our monthly bills (without spending tons of time) here.

Give yourself a financial tune up

The holidays are over, but many people are still caught up in that holiday spending frenzy. If you don’t have a plan for your money every month it will disappear and the next thing you know you will be struggling to pay your bills.

If you haven’t already, create a budget for 2016. I look at my credit card summary from the end of the previous year to find areas where we can cut and also to get a better idea of how we are spending our money.

Make saving automatic every month. It is much easier to build your savings when the money comes out automatically every month. You can set this up with your bank or even with your place of employment. This will allow you to build your savings without even thinking about it.

Challenge yourself to make three changes that will positively affect your financial future in 2016. This could be participating in your company’s contribution matching, making more meals at home, having a yard sale to get rid of unwanted stuff, shopping at the thrift store, or starting a vacation fund.

Make sure you are getting cash back on the items you buy every day. Rewards credit card like the Discover it® Chrome card gives you cash back to put toward future purchases. With the Discover it Chrome card, you can earn 2% cash back at gas and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases. I love it when I can double up my savings by finding great deals and getting cash back too!

Spring cleaning is not only for your home, it is for your finances too. This year I’ve committed to spend a half hour each week de-cluttering our finances, it doesn’t always take that long, but it keeps us on track financially and helps us reach our financial goals.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.