Archive for Learning Center

Make Holiday Shopping a Financial Lesson

It’s every child’s favorite fantastical time of year! With so many stores to shop at in Hawaii, it’s a wonderland dream come true. Why not take the opportunity to magically turn holiday shopping into a fun lesson on money management?

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ABCs of Saving for the Future

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Teach Your Kids to Save

Every parent knows that kids are quick learners, and even preschoolers can grasp a basic understanding of money. Begin shaping their feelings, thinking and values about money at an early age. It’s not as difficult as it may seem.

#1 – Make Saving a Habit

They learn about spending money all too soon, so take them to your financial institution and teach them that money is for saving, too. Open a savings account for them talk to them about putting money away for the things they want. Start with short-term goals such as small purchases for the younger kids and guide older ones toward longer-term, larger goals. This teaches them about:

  • Delaying gratification;
  • Setting short- or long-term goals;
  • Planning for the future; and
  • Building security and independence.

#2 – Create Opportunities to Earn Money

A healthy respect for money is gained when kids learn they must for it before they can spend it. Although kids should perform certain chores at home as part of their normal responsibilities as a family member, you can create special tasks in exchange for a weekly allowance. This “salary” can be deposited into their savings accounts bi-weekly or monthly. This teaches them about:

  • Growing their savings;
  • Using compound interest; and
  • Valuing their hard-earned money.

#3 – Instill Smart Decision-Making

Saving isn’t always about stashing away money to buy things they want. There will come a time to save for things they need or will have to pay others to do for them. There will also come a time for giving, so discuss what causes they may want to support. Have them put their allowance into three jars for saving, spending and donating. This teaches them about:

  • Budgeting their money;
  • Making good decisions;
  • Deciding on donations; and
  • Preparing for adult choices.

Kids are always watching us and repeating what we say. Many times, they can even do funny but very accurate impersonations of us! Why not use this to your advantage? Remember that your kids will learn faster and best if you model good money habits yourself.

Basic Habits to Help Your Money Grow

At some point in life, everyone stops to consider what could be holding them back from getting ahead financially. Realistically, the odds of winning the lottery are just too astronomical! Don’t spend time wishing and hoping your financial life will change. Place more of your focus on managing your finances and develop the following habits that promote growth of your hard-earned dollars.

  1. Be conscious of your spending. If you’re coming up short on funds at the end of the month, get a handle on where your money is going. Take the time to track ALL of your spending. Set up a spreadsheet or use an app like Mint that will make it easier for you. Paying for daily lattes and lunches can add up. Drop or reduce subscription services. Address needs first and take control of wants or nice-to-have expenses!
  2. Automate your bill payments. Paying your bills through automated online bill payments will help you avoid late fees and added finance charges. Frequent late payments also can affect your credit score, which could result in your having to pay higher interest rates on loans. Avoid fees by keeping an adequate balance in the account you use to pay your bills. Don’t let fees and finance charges become an added and unnecessary expense!
  3. Pay down and manage your debt. The average American household has $15,000 in credit card debt at interest rates ranging from15% to 29%. Make sure you pay more than the minimum each month to pay off your balance sooner while reducing the overall interest you’ll pay. After paying off your credit cards, make a pledge to yourself to wait on purchases until you can pay for them in full when the statement comes. Waiting could give you time to find even better deals!
  4. Save for your retirement. Time flies when you have so many obligations in life, so retirement is really not as far away as you think. Contribute to your employer’s 401k or retirement fund. Take advantage of any employer match that is offered – it’s “free money” so take it! Traditional and Roth IRAs are also good vehicles to help you lock money away for the future. If you want to be financially secure in your golden years, don’t overlook this important money habit!
  5. Create an automatic savings plan. Make sure to pay yourself every month, no matter what. Your savings are the foundation of your financial security. You should set a goal of having: an Emergency Fund containing at least six months of your wages for any unforeseen event; a college fund for your children’s educational future; a vacation fund to add family memories; and a holiday fund to share the joy of the season with loved one. All good reasons to save!

Remember, you give power to what you focus on. So, focus on your money habits and financial management skills and give power to your ability to grow your funds and financial well-being. Just know that it is a lifelong journey – one that you can get started on today!

Beware of IRS Scams!

The IRS and Social Security Administration warn that they do not initiate random contact by phone, text or email. All legitimate communication is typically done by U.S. mail. The IRS has reported the following fraudulent activities:

  • Someone posing as an IRS agent over the phone demanding payment by prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
  • Calls about a tax refund being recalculated that requires filling out a form.
  • Pre-recorded, urgent or threatening phone messages claiming an arrest warrant will be issued unless a return call is received.
  • Fake caller ID numbers that say they are coming from the IRS, law enforcement or government offices.
  • Emails with links that say you can view the details of your tax refund or tax transcript.
  • Bogus text messages regarding a tax bill or refund.
  • Unsolicited email appearing to be from the IRS or an IRS-related program seeking personal or financial information, or leading to a bogus website.

Hang up! Don’t click on links or respond! Keep yourself and your personal information safe!