Monthly Actions to Save $1,000

Many people in our society are not able to save.  They are barely able to cover their monthly expenses.  However, there are some actions that can help you get on a path to saving.

In the first month, open an online bank account and deposit a minimum amount, such as $5.  This is a very important first step.  In month two, save $15 (or more) in your online savings account.  One way to do this is with Paribus, an online tool that searches various retailers to determine if you are owed money for past purchases as a result of a price drop.

Your goal for month three is to work toward savings $100.  This could be accomplished by signing up with market research companies to participate in providing opinions. Or, you could try selling old items online. By consistently using various ideas for earning extra money, you should be able to save $100 a month.

For additional information on starting a savings program, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students to talk various people to determine actions they take to reduce spending or earn extra money.
  • Have students create a summary presentation describing actions that might be taken to increase a person’s savings.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Describe attitudes and behaviors that might result in people not being able to save for the future.
  2. What are actions you have taken to reduce spending and to earn extra money for savings?

Low Gas Prices Are Set to Spur Holiday Spending

“Falling gas prices have put consumers in a good mood.”

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), more than 4 in 5 Americans indicate falling gas prices impact their feelings about the nation’s economy and as a result they will spend more during the upcoming holiday season.  In fact, more than one in four consumers (26 percent) expect to increase their spending during the 2015 holiday season–a 7-point jump over the past month and the highest percentage this year.  Also the survey finds that women are more optimistic than men.  For retailers, this statistic is even more encouraging because women do more holiday shopping when compared to men.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Discuss how holiday spending impacts a family’s budget.
  • Describe methods that consumers can use to save the money and budget for holiday spending.

Discussion Questions

  1. Does the price of gasoline affect your spending on other items such as food, clothing, medicine, luxury items, and gifts?
  2. How can you avoid spending “too much” during the holiday season?
  3. What steps can you take to save the money needed for gifts and other holiday expenses?

Revising Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps

Dave Ramsey has taught and encouraged millions to get out of debt and to achieve an improved financial situation through his “seven baby steps,” which are: (1) establish a $1,000 emergency fund; (2) pay off debt; (3) save three to six months of expenses; (4) invest 15 percent of income in pre-tax retirement funds; (5) plan for the funding of the college education of children; (6) pay off mortgage as soon as possible; (7) build wealth and give.

An alternative perspective to this approach might be:

  1. Create a larger initial emergency fund.
  2. Instead of paying off the smallest debts first, pay off the ones with the highest interest.
  3. A minimum of six months for expenses is needed, with twelve months more realistic.
  4. Take advantage of any 401k matching offered by employers.
  5. College may not be the right educational choice for everyone. Also, those who go to college should be responsible for a portion of education costs.
  6. Home ownership may not be appropriate for everyone. When buying a home, paying off a mortgage may be a higher priority than saving for college to reduce the amount of interest paid.
  7. Making money, saving money, and donating to charity should be the main focus.

For additional information on personal financial planning actions, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students survey others regarding their use of these personal financial planning suggestions.
  • Have students obtain additional financial planning suggestions using online research.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What do you believe are the most important actions that should be taken regarding wise personal financial planning?
  2. How would you communicate these financial planning actions to others?

Newly Married with $52,000 of Debt

My Wife and I Never Discussed Money Before Getting Married–and Ended Up with $52,000 of Debt

Prior to tallying up our debt, we’d talked about traveling internationally, starting a family, and, some day retiring comfortably. There was so much we wanted out of life, but . . .”

This is an excellent article that describes what can happen when a soon-to-be-married couple doesn’t talk about finances.  Fortunately, the two people in this article–Deacon and Kim Hayes–realized they had a problem and then took steps to get their finances back on track.

Specific steps this couple took can make a big difference over time.  Among the suggestions included in this article are:

  • Writing down all your assets, debts, income, and expenses.
  • Prepare a budget and review each item for opportunities to save money.
  • Replacing a newer, expensive car with an older car.
  • Selling unwanted or unneeded items online.
  • Using any extra money to repay debt.
  • Establishing an emergency fund.
  • Saving and investing a specific amount each month.

Consider This:  Deacon Hayes–the author of this article–became a financial planner and now shares his story with his clients.

For more information, Click Here

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Discuss why engaged couples need to discuss their finances before they get married.
  • Stress how easy it is to get in debt and how hard and how much time it takes to get out of debt.

Discussion Questions

  1. Assume you are dating someone who seems to spend more than they make. In this situation, would you continue to date this person?  Explain your answer.
  2. One of the suggestions included in this article is that people write down their assets, debts, income, and expenses. How can this suggestion help a young-married couple plan their financial future?
  3. Assume you have credit card debts and an automobile loan that total $75,000. What specific steps can you take to reduce or eliminate your debt?

5 Questions to Help You Get Your Financial Life in Order

“Rather than making resolutions . . . try answering the following five questions today, with a plan to answer them again when 2015 comes to a close.”

In this MarketWatch article, Chuck Jaffe poses the following 5 questions to help people gauge their financial health.

  1. What’s your net worth?
  2. How many times your current (or last) salary do you have in retirement savings?
  3. What’s your debt-payment burden?
  4. If you don’t see the next New Year, what would happen to your family financially?
  5. When reviewing your finances, what is the single thing that makes you feel the best? The worst?

In addition to the questions, Mr. Jaffe also provides information that can be used to improve a person’s answers  to each question with the goal of helping people manage their personal finances and improve their financial life.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Discuss each question with your students and explain how their answers can impact their personal financial decision making and financial security?
  • Ask students to answer one or more of the questions in this article as an assignment.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is your net worth, salary, savings, and debt-payment burden important?
  2. What implications does the question “If you don’t see the next New Year, what would happen to your family financially?” have on your financial planning activities?
  3. When you look at your finances, what makes you feel good and what makes you feel bad? Based on your answer, what can you do to change your answers to this question?

Plunging Crude Prices Hammer Energy Companies

“A decision by OPEC this week to maintain current levels of oil production is hammering major energy companies in the U.S. and abroad.”

This article explores the winners and losers of lower energy prices.  For consumers, lower energy and gas prices means increased discretionary funds for purchasing consumer goods including food, clothes, electronics, and presents for friends and relatives during the holiday season.  Also, both large and small retailers benefit because consumers have more money to spend.  And airlines, package delivery services, cruise lines, and other companies are spending less on fuel.

The disadvantages of lower energy and gasoline prices are already causing the stock prices of big oil companies including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Marathon Oil, and British Petroleum to decline.

For more information go to http://finance.yahoo.com/news/plunging-crude-prices-hammer-energy-companies-123639239–finance.html

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Discuss the impact of the cost of energy and gasoline on a consumer’s budget.
  • Describe alternatives uses for the savings that result from lower energy and gasoline prices.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the current price for a gallon of gasoline? How does this compare with the cost 6 months ago?  What impact does this have on your spending patterns and your personal budget?
  2. While you are saving money at the pump, the big question may be how you plan to use the savings. Are there alternatives to spending the money on clothes, entertainment, or holiday gifts?
  3. Now that the value of energy company stocks has declined, would you invest in a company like Exxon Mobil or Chevron? Explain your answer.

The Sharing Economy

Saving money or earning extra income can be as easy as using an app to rent a car or lend someone your backyard tools. With about 5,000 sharing companies, organizations and programs in operation, consumers could save hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year.

The main focus of the sharing economy is car and bicycle rentals, home sharing, and shared nanny services.  But consumers can also borrow drills, saws, ladders, lawn mowers through a community tool shed.

To avoid obvious dangers, be sure to use a sharing service that screens potential customers with background checks and identity verification. Technology can increase trust with online profiles and reviews from users.

There is also money to be made in the sharing economy by providing rides to others or renting out an extra bedroom. Before getting involved in the sharing economy, be sure to have proper insurance coverage and an understanding of tax implications. Participants in the sharing economy also note the social benefits of connecting with others from around the world.

For additional information on the sharing economy, go to:

http://www.kiplinger.com/article/business/T049-C000-S002-cash-in-on-the-sharing-economy.html

http://www.kiplinger.com/article/spending/T050-C000-S002-sites-to-help-you-save-make-money-by-sharing.html

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students research various apps that facilitate transactions in the sharing economy.
  • Have students create interview questions that they might ask someone who is a buyer or seller in the shared economy.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What benefits are present for individuals and society as a result of the sharing economy?
  2. Explain how technology helps to increase the participation and acceptance of sharing economy activities.
  3. What concerns should be addressed when participating in the shared economy?