April is National Financial Literacy Month. There are tips to take each day of the month to get your financial life in order.

As part of Financial Literacy Month, there are 100 free webinars being presented on a variety of topics. The webinars are presented at various time during the day and evenings so if you can’t make it at a certain time you may be able to catch it at another time.

The webinars cover topics ranging from Student Loans, foreclosure, retirement and many other topics.

Recently I saw two blog posts about teaching kids about money. One was about an upcoming webinar about teaching kids about money. The other was how Kids Inherit Bad Money Habits.

Besides listening to what you say, your children also watch your actions. As with other parts of your life, they will also imitate how you deal with money and finances. Three of the habits mentioned in the article are maxing out credit cards, accepting store credit cards and ignoring bills. I feel it is important to teach children how to use credit cards and how easy it is to get into trouble with them. It may seem easy to swipe the credit cards but they need to understand the money needs to be paid back and how interest and finance charges can add up. Also, that store credit cards may be easier to obtain but they can have an affect on your credit scores.

The free webinar by Nathan Dungan, founder and President of Share, Save, Spend will be on Wednesday, April 18 from 12 pm to 1 pm. Some of the topics covered will be how to recognize your own dominant money characteristics and how they can impact your family’s well being. Nathan Dungan will provide simple tips to help your family develop critical life skills about money and values. You will leave the webinar equipped to change the way your approach conversations with your family about money.

When you are shopping and using credit cards, it may be a good time to explain how they work. Recently, when I was volunteering for Junior Achievement the subject of credit and debit cards came up. One of the 3rd graders asked what the difference was. I told them that with credit cards you receive a bill each month of what you owe them and if you don’t pay the amount in full they will charge you interest each month until it is paid. I also explained that debit cards are tied to your checking or savings account and the money will be withdrawn from your account just like if you were writing a check. It is important to keep track of the checks you write and purchases you make with your debit card so you know how much money is left in your account.

One of the callers on the Suze Orman Show the other night was calling about his student loan debt. He had put part of his student loan debt on a interest free credit card and was wondering what she thought about it. He was planning on having it paid off before the zero interest period was over.

Suze thought it was the right thing to do. Since credit card debt is unsecured debt, if something happens that you can’t make your payments it is more difficult for them to come after you for it. In some cases they may sue you for the balance but not in all cases. On the other hand, student loan debt is nearly impossible to get out of. It is one of the few debts that is not dischargeable upon bankruptcy.

So even though it is the right thing to pay off the debt, in some cases circumstances come up that make it impossible to meet all of your obligations.

So her suggestion was if you have student loan debt and can get a credit card with a lower interest rate, it may be helpful to transfer the debt to the credit card.

With the wide range of items in the stores it may be difficult to know which is the best for your money. Anna Wallner & Kristina Matistic, the The Shopping Bags have spent the last few years testing and reviewing items. They have a Canadian television show and also wrote a book with tips from their research and reviews. It gives you tips for things to look for when you are looking at purchasing items. They have personally tested many of the items and also received advice from reputable experts.

The book contains tips on purchasing items such as clothes, skin care items, furniture & home décor, electronics & appliances, food, and kids stuff. There is also product information and reviews on their website.

With the changes in our economic situations and constantly being bombarded by advertisements and sales, there are many people who are getting into trouble financially. Some have changes in their financial lives and may be having difficulties making changes in their spending. Others may shop to get away from their troubles but are actually making them worse by going deeper into debt.

There was a recent article about shopping addictions. According to the article, about 5% of Americans suffer from compulsive shopping and even more from with lesser forms of overspending.

On a lighter note, here is a clip of a Don’t buy stuff skit on Saturday Night Live.

By being able to purchase many things on monthly payments, it is easy to get into trouble when you get too many monthly payments. Also, some people think they are doing okay financially if they can make the minimum payments on their credit cards and payments. But if you only make the minimum payments, you are barely paying more than the interest charges and making very little progress to paying off the amount owed.

With the Shrine Circus coming to town, I thought of some similarities between the circus and personal finances. Just as it takes training and practice to do the circus acts and train the animals it takes education and practice to budget and handle your finances.

It is important for trapeze artists to have a safety net in case of a fall and with your personal finances it is important to have an emergency fund as a safety net.

Bills may seem scary like the animals but once you get them tamed and under control they aren’t as scary.

When shopping it is important to determine the difference between wants and needs. Like the trinkets you can find at the circus, decide if it something you really want and will use or if it will soon start gathering dust in the closet. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy anything, but to think about what you are buying. Also, consider if it something you really want or if you could use the money to buy something you want more.

Also, as clowns can hide behind their makeup and costumes, some people think fancy clothes, cars and other things will make their lives better. But if you go into debt for these items, the stress of the debt may make your life more difficult.

The El Zagal Shrine Circus will be at The FargoDome this weekend Friday thru Sunday.

March 23, 2012 7:00 PM 6:00 PM
March 24, 2012 10:00 AM 9:00 AM
March 24, 2012 2:00 PM 1:00 PM
March 24, 2012 6:00 PM 5:00 PM
March 25, 2012 12:00 PM 11:00 AM
March 25, 2012 4:00 PM 3:00 PM

Tickets in advance are $11.00 for General Admission and $14.00 for Reserved Tickets. On the Day of the show General Admission tickets are $13.00 and Reserved tickets are $16.00.

General Admission tickets are available at the FargoDome, Hornbachers, Sun-Mart, CashWise, StopNGo Stores and State Bank & Trust Locations. Reserved tickets are only available at the FargoDome.

One of the websites I follow daily is MoneySavingMom.com. Today, Crystal published a guest post I had submitted about Saving by cooking as a single person.

Although the website is called moneysavingmom, I follow it daily and get numerous ideas and tips that I can use in my life. Crystal also posts many sales and deals that I have taken advantage of.

Even by saving a dollar or two here and there makes a difference.

Yesterday I finished volunteering in a 3rd grade classroom for Junior Achievement. Junior Achievement is a program where business people volunteer in classrooms in the area to teach children about business and financial matters. All of the information and materials are given to the volunteer.

This is my 3rd year of volunteering, the first year was 4th grade and the past two years I have done 3rd grade. The 3rd grade curriculum is about businesses and the different zones in cities. We talked about newspaper companies, restaurants and banking.

One of the favorite activities is learning how to write a check.

The curriculum consists of 5 sessions which are 30 – 45 minutes. So it does not require a lot of time.

I have really enjoyed teaching kids about money and getting to know the kids. I think it is amazing how attached you can get to them in only a few hours in a week.

I recently read the book, The Power of Habit, Why We do what we do in life and business. Part of the book is about how advertisers promote products to make consumers think they need to buy them.

Some ways that stores entice you to buy things is putting kids cereal and other items at their eye level and put other items at your eye level.

They do research of your personal buying patterns from the information when you use store cards and redeem coupons.

One of the stores mentioned was Target and that they have people watching shopper’s buying habits that they think they can tell when women are pregnant before they tell people they are. By watching when they start buying vitamins and baby items they suspect they are expecting and start sending baby coupons to them.

Also in the book were ways advertisers do research to find ways to make consumers think they “need” to buy their products.

It was an interesting book to see how you habits can affect your personal life and purchasing decisions.

Yahoo! Health and Reader’s Digest conducted a recent survey to see if people would rather gain 10 pounds or take on $10,000 of debt. According to the survey results 78 percent of adults would rather gain 10 pounds than take on $10,000 of debt. It also showed that 46 percent would rather gain 50 pounds of weight instead of taking on more debt. The survey consisted of 2,000 women and men and contained questions about diet, exercise, and body image behaviors.

Posted in Budgeting, Saving
Nancy Kvamme