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Archive for the ‘Wallet Wellness’ Category

Aug

04.17

People are spending substantially more this year than last year on back-to-school shopping, and if you’re a parent with school-aged children, you’re probably bracing for the dent in your wallet right about now. In the U.S., families are projected to spend an estimated $83.6 billion (a 10 percent increase from last year), according to the National Retail Foundation’s annual survey — that’s on average $687.72 per child in elementary through high school and $969.88 per child in college.*

Don’t want to be average? Set some guidelines for tackling those back-to-school expenses:

Contact the school/teacher
From books to backpacks to electronics, school supplies can get very expensive. Your first step to finding out what is absolutely necessary to send your child back to school is to contact your child’s school or teacher and obtain a supply list. You can also look on the school’s website to see if a school supply list is posted. If your school does not have a uniform policy, it would be wise to check the student handbook and be aware of what type of clothing/shoes may be off-limits.

Set a budget and stick to it – and plan for unexpected extras
Depending on your family size and how much money you make, this is a no-brainer. Remember back-to-school supplies won’t be your only expense for the entire school year, so you’ll want to save money where you can. There will be more unplanned expenses throughout the school year you’ll need and want to meet, like fundraisers and school trips. And don’t forget about extra curriculars, sports and clubs.

Make a list
Sit down with your child and make a list of what he or she needs and use the opportunity to teach them money lessons and how to be wise about spending and saving. Are there any school supplies left over from last year that can be reused? Can you purchase used electronics or textbooks instead of buying them brand new? Keep your eye out for good sales and discounts and check them off your list. Shop online and take advantage of deeper discounts and free shipping. Make these activities teachable moments while involving your child in the process. It’s a great way to improve their financial literacy and can pay off big time in the long run.

*National Retail Foundation (nrf.com), “Back-to-School and Back-to-College Spending to Reach $83.6 Billion,” July 13, 2017

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Jul

31.14

how-fat-is-your-wallet

Wallet Wellness is coming to an end and we’re curious… how fat did your wallet get this summer? Did you implement any new ideas into your household? Learn to spend less and save more? We hope so!

Small Is the New BIG
Whether you’re already on track or just getting into the swing of things, Start Small by Thinking Big is a simple first-step to getting on track. Remember, small changes can lead to BIG results and even greater success. It’s never to late to start or start over. And, once you meet that first goal, why not start working on your next one?
Goals Worksheet
Budget Worksheet
Kid’s Goal Worksheet

Don’t Take the Joy Out of It!
Being financially responsible can sound like a drag, but it’s really not! In fact, it opens the door to creativity and spontaneity in a whole new way! Don’t focus on what you can’t do because you’d rather sock that extra money away for an amazing future. Ask yourself what makes you happy and find a way to create that experience for less. Want to plan a nice dinner for loved one? Instead of a fancy restaurant, make his or her favorites and pack a picnic. The thought is much more impressive than the cost!

Check out 20 FUN Things to Do for Under $20 and Kids, Money and Fun for more cool ways to have crazy amounts of fun and still meet your financial goals, too!

Cover All the Bases
Caring for your finances and securing your family’s future can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Start small, and focus on one thing at a time. In Four Keys to Your Financial Future, we cover the big four:
1. Have an Emergency Fund
2. Take Control of Your Debt
3. Protect What You Love
4. Save for the Future

These are the biggies. Take care of these four, and watch your wallet fatten up! And, if your main concern right now is how to control your debt, check out In the Dark About Debt for some helpful tips!

Don’t Forget to Pay It Forward!
Don’t hoard this new knowledge! Help your friends and loved ones get on track, too! It starts at home. Are you and your significant other on the same page? Do your kids know the value of money? Check out Raise Kids with Money Sense and 5 Ways to Make Saving a Family Affair, and make sure everyone in your family is focused on your family’s financial goals!

Is your family already on board? Spread the wealth and tell your friends and extended family about what you learned. Money talks tend to be hush-hush, but sharing ideas and supporting each other’s goals can be a real motivator!

Remember, when it comes to padding your wallet, FAT is IN! Keep moving toward your financial goals, and let us know what’s working for you! Good luck!

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Jul

21.14

5-ways-to-make-saving

Saving money can seem like a hard thing to do – especially if you’re just starting out. That’s why it’s important to start saving early. Showing children how to save for the things they want and need could teach them habits that will save them a lot of heartache in the future.

You can learn while you teach by making saving a family matter. Studies have shown that having someone to hold you accountable to your goals will help you stick to them when it gets hard to stay motivated. And what better partners are there than your family?!

Here are five tips for getting your family into the savings game:

  1. Make a family savings goal. Do you want to buy a new game system or take a trip to an amusement park? Whatever your goal is, decide on it together, and determine how much you’ll need to save to make it happen.
  2. Start small. Commit to saving all of your coins in a month – every single penny – and putting them into a family jar. At the end of the month, see how much you’ve saved and mark off how much further you need to go to get to the goal.
  3. Hold a yard sale and add the proceeds to the family fund. The kids can choose which of their items they’re willing to part with, too.
  4. Practice delayed gratification. Skip the movie theater this month and rent a movie instead. The savings could go into the family fund and teach kids that waiting until you’ve earned a reward is worth it!
  5. Remind yourself of the why. The excitement of a goal sometimes wanes as you get further away from the moment of inspiration. Put up reminders around the house so that your family can remember why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Remember that having a goal without a plan is just wishing. Put some action behind that wish! Download this worksheet to help your kids reach their savings goals. Your family could have a great time working together – and your children could learn great savings habits in the process!

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Jul

07.14

in-the-dark

Are thoughts about your debt keeping you up at night… or do you just push them out of your mind? If you try to avoid even thinking about your debt, it may be the first sign that you’re in trouble. Trying to ignore it just makes it worse! Denial may seem easier when you’re in too deep, but you’ll never make progress if you can’t confront the problem.

One study showed that American households underreported the magnitude of their credit card debts by at least one-third.1 The study noted that the discrepancy “could result from willful ignorance, as large credit card balances are not welcome information” or “from difficulty understanding the growth of credit card balances.”2

It’s one thing to know that you owe money, but it’s another to know exactly how much you owe and to whom. Compound interest works in your favor when you are building savings, but it works against you when you’re in debt. The fact that credit card debt is “revolving” – compounding daily instead of monthly – means you can pay much more interest and your debt can go on forever. This is how seemingly small debts can grow into large ones!

That’s one reason it’s so important for you to sit down and identify all your debt. Get your credit reports and scores to ensure you haven’t left anything off.

Of all the threats to your financial security, none is more dangerous than debt. Don’t you think it’s important to know exactly what you’re fighting?

1. NYTimes.com, “How Much Do You Owe? Guess Again,” viewed 17 June, 2014
2. Ibid

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Jun

30.14

financial-future

To get started on the path to wallet wellness, you often need to start small. But you can have fun in the process! As your new outlook becomes second nature, you can finally begin to focus on the four things that matter for your financial future:

1. Have an emergency fund.

This is your reserve fund in the event of an unforeseen emergency, job loss or an unexpected expense. A good rule of thumb: set a goal of having three to six months’ salary in your emergency fund. Every little bit helps! For example, saving $5 a week is the equivalent to giving up a latté.

2. Take control of your debt.

There’s often a connection between emergencies and debt, but that’s not the only reason people get into debt. Chronic consumer debt has become an epidemic on Main Street, and families now struggle more than ever to make ends meet. Debt is one of the biggest threats to your financial wellbeing. Take control by identifying your debt and learning how debt stacking can lead to freedom. They say you can eat an elephant – one bite at a time. The same concept works with paying off your debt!

3. Protect the things you love.

One of the most important expenditures a family makes is also one of the most misunderstood. In the event you can no longer provide for your family, it’s absolutely critical that you make the right decision when it comes to protecting the things you love. It’s hard to talk about the “worst-case scenario,” but being properly protected can have a huge impact on your family’s security and peace of mind. Don’t be afraid to ask the experts if you don’t understand! It’s better to find out now than to later wish you could go back in time and do it all over again.

4. Save for the future.

Finally, you want to think about your long-term savings. Your goal is to save for the future! There’s a high cost to waiting, so it pays to start early. Don’t get so focused on the future that you succumb to the “I can start tomorrow” attitude! According to experts, “The trick to making a savings plan stick is to think about small, specific things that can be repeated over time.”1 Time and consistency are two of the most powerful keys to achieving financial security.

By focusing on these four keys to your financial future, you can get started on the path to freedom and independence. The tiny battles you face day to day will ultimately help you win the “war” for your wallet!

1. TIME.com, “Want to Save Money? Stop Thinking About the Big Picture,” January 9, 2014

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