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Money Talk

Teachers. Your parents. Even your friends. There are a lot of people who teach you things about life and your future. But who do you talk to to learn more about money? We’ve put together some info that can help you get started and get ahead.

Not sure where to begin?

Choose any of our topics to get started.

Volunteer and Learn

Summer is a great time to relax and refresh yourself before the school year, but it’s also a great time to learn new skills that can reward both you and your community.

The benefits of helping others or working with a worthy cause can be truly rewarding experiences. Volunteering helps you develop a heart for giving back, discover the your community and foster meaningful relationships. It can also help build your resume.

While there are opportunities to volunteer all over the globe, it’s best to start in your own community to learn valuable skills that can benefit you throughout your life. No matter what your interests are, you’re likely to find a volunteer experience to enrich your summer.

Animals: Animal shelters are often looking for help walking dogs or helping care for animals, or helping in the offices.Ranches and horse barns seek volunteers to help with grounds maintenance and other chores.

Children: Help out at daycare centers, or tutor younger children in subjects you know well.

Museums and Historical Sites: Learn more about the inner workings of museums and local history by helping out at these summer attractions.

Parks: Help out at outdoor summer camps, or help clean up parks in your town.

Events: Community events, like music festivals, art festivals, fun runs, and carnivals are often in need of extra help, whether it’s setting up or tearing down, handing out products or samples, or assisting at information booths.

Seniors: Be a friend to senior citizens by helping out at senior centers. It could be playing games or cards with residents, assisting in activities, helping with area maintenance, or just talking with people. You can learn a lot about life from previous generations and hear some incredible stories.

Food Pantries and Homeless Shelters: Two places always looking for help with inventory or serving food.

Helping Hands

When you turn on the news and see people struggling to get by in our country and across the word, it’s hard to feel like there is nothing you can do. You want donate your money, but even if you have a job, chances are you can’t spare much. How can you help when you don’t have much extra income? There are several ways you can give back and donate for free.

Donate Time: An excellent resource that many organizations need are volunteers. Whether it is helping out in the kitchen at a homeless shelter, volunteering at an arts organization or helping to read to underprivileged children, you are making a difference. The list of charities you can help is nearly endless. Check out VolunteerMatch.org to get started.

Get Rid Of Unwanted Items: Chances are you have plenty of clothes you’ve outgrown, toys you never play with and books you no longer read. Ask your parents if you can donate these items to a charity. The charity will be able to make use of the items or can sell them for a profit. Your parents might even help you by clearing out household items as well.

Donate Your Hair (Yes, Really):  If you have long hair, you can get it cut and donate it to several charities that use the hair to create hairpieces for those in need. A great organization that creates such pieces for those under 21 who are suffering from long-term hair loss due to illness is called Locks of Love. Find out more at their site www.locksoflove.org.

Participate In A Charity Walk: If you feel strongly about an issue, chances are there is a charity walk/run set up to raise money for it. Once you find a race, you can solicit donations. You can even form a team to raise even more. Many organizations give you tools to set up a donations website. It’s a great way to help out a cause without having to spend any of your own money.

The Real Cost Of Owning A Car

If you’re like most teenagers, daydreams about getting your license do not involve driving a beat up clunker, struggling to pay for gas or begging your parents for the cash to pay for repairs. However, unless you prepare in advance, that’s often the reality of the situation. Before you get behind the wheel, make sure you won’t get behind the 8-ball financially. Consider the real cost of owning a vehicle and your individual needs and calculate how much should you save up beforehand based.

Cost of Owning A Vehicle

Cost Of Vehicle – On Average About $2,000 and $10,000

In most cases, a used vehicle is the way to go, so that is what we will discuss here.  However “used” does not necessarily translate to “cheap.” The price of a used vehicle fluctuates but even a very used vehicle can come at a pretty hefty price tag. You want something reliable, so be prepared to fork out at least $2,000 up front. If you don’t pay that much upfront, you may end doing so on repairs in the long run.

Cost Of Insurance – $1,200 To $4,900 Of Added Premiums Per Teen Driver

The average insurance premium for teens is $2,171 per year as of 2009, according to Insurance.com’s research service, RateWatch. That translates to approximately $180 per month. Don’t forget, the newer the car or the worse the driving record, the higher the premiums.

Cost Of Fuel – $2,000 Annually, Per 15,000 Miles

With average gas mileage of 25 miles per gallon on many used cars and gas prices at $3.00 per gallon, if you drive just 15,000 per year, you’ll spend approximately $2,000 a year in gas. Of course that amount rises with the cost of gasoline – not to mention if those road trips add up and you go over 15,000 annually.

Choosing The Right Kind of Car For You

The time you’ve waited for so long is finally here – you’ve passed your driver’s license test, and it’s time to pick out a new (or used) car. So how will you decide which car is the one for you? Of course, shopping for a new car depends on your budget, and also on whether your parents/guardians will lend you money – plus a host of other factors. There are many different makes and models of cars, so if you have a choice in choosing a car of your very own, you may want to think about which type of vehicle will work best for your needs.

Sedans are the typical “family car.” They have four doors (as opposed to sportier models, which generally have two) and usually have plenty of room for friends and other light necessities. Some examples of good starter sedans, according to Consumer Reports, are the Ford Focus, the Honda Accord, the Hyundai Elantra and the Kia Soul. Other examples can be found on the Consumer Reports website; just search for “Cars for Teen Drivers.”

Sports cars are generally not recommended for those without a lot of experience on the road, mostly because they have a higher rate of accidents every year.

Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and large pick-up trucks have much more space to carry whatever you need to take with you – but again, these are probably best for more experienced drivers, simply because of their size. You will want to practice driving with a parent or friend first before you go out on the road in an SUV or truck, and even then a sedan may be a better choice for you.

Other considerations are how old the car may be. Obviously, newer cars have better safety features than older models, but you may not always be able to afford the newest car on the block. That’s okay! New cars lose much of their value the minute you drive them off the lot. Buying used is your best bet when you’re searching for your first car. Safe travels!

Stressing Out?

Between academic pressures, money strains, future planning and even relationship struggles, being a young adult can be hard work. Maybe everything on your mind has you feeling anxious or upset. Here are some ways to deal with stress. Try them out and see what works for you.

Talk With A Really Good (And Positive) Friend: Sometimes talking through your problems is exactly what you need. Call a good friend and get it all out. Try to choose a friend who will help you discuss solutions. You don’t want to talk with someone who is just going to bring you down further with negativity.

Make A Plan: Journal what’s bothering you and try to map out a plan to solve any lingering problems. If it involves money, whether it’s present money stress or how you’re going to pay for your education – talk it over with a financial advisor from your credit union. Sometimes a solution is easier than you think.

Volunteer To Help Those In Need: Volunteering has many benefits, including lessening anxiety you might be feeling. It gets your mind off your problems and allows you to do something positive for others, which makes you internally feel better. Whether you volunteer at a homeless shelter, an animal rescue (which gives you an added stress-reliever: animals!) or work at any number of non-profits, you’ll feel the physical benefits of helping out.

Try Yoga And Meditation To Unwind: Studies have found yoga and meditation to be tops for regulating your body’s natural rhythms, helping to lessen stress and anxiety and aiding in increasing the sense of well-being. And that’s just a few of the benefits! Many communities offer free intro classes and student discounts. You can even search Youtube.com for free instructional videos.

Or Take Up An Active Sport: Conversely sometimes just getting active is the best thing you can do to de-stress. Not only does it get endorphins (which are the body’s natural pain relievers and mood-enhancers) flowing but it also provides an outlet for negative emotions. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Association recommends cardiovascular exercise that elevates the heart rate for 15 to 30 minutes – at least three to four times per week. This can be as simple as a walk around your neighborhood or nature trail. Get moving – and reap the rewards!

Learn Something New: When you learn something new, you benefit in many ways. In addition to the fun that comes with learning a new skill, you benefit from having your mind off the specific problem that is stressing you out. So sign up for a new sport or class. Grab a friend and you’ll get the added benefit of hanging out with others! Most importantly, have fun!

Smart Money Decisions

As you grow through your teen years, your financial education should grow, and so should the money you save each year. Here are some financial tips to get you through until you graduate.

Save 10% of What You Make: That means you should put away a dime for every dollar you earn.

Open A Savings Account: Putting your money in a secure account, like at the credit union, not only keeps your savings safe, you’ll also earn dividends (interest) on your money, so you’ll earn while you save.

Save Early, Save Often: The sooner you open your savings account and the more money you put in, the more you’ll earn. Don’t withdraw your funds unless absolutely necessary so you keep more for things that really matter, like college or your first car.

Use Credit Wisely: Credit cards are like loans with interest payments.Only use a credit card if you know you can pay off the balance easily, otherwise you could get behind on payments, which can ruin your credit when you really need it.

Be Careful With Your Personal Information: Putting any personal information, including your bank account, debit or credit card number, puts you at risk for identity theft or online theft. Make sure anywhere you purchase something online is secure and safe before you enter any information.

Know The Cost Before You Buy: Make sure you price out the big things you want to buy, like bikes, cars, electronic devices, and even colleges. Knowing how much you need helps you budget for the future.

Account For Taxes: Whether it’s your paycheck or something you want to buy, know that you’ll pay taxes on things and account for that in your budgeting.

Becoming Money Savvy Before It's Too Late

Too many teens don’t know the importance of money and then get into trouble in college and beyond. Learning the basics of money, like balancing your accounts, budgeting, financing and credit will help put you on the right path, and it doesn’t take as much time and effort as you think.

Balance, Don’t Balance:
Balancing your checkbook is the first step to financial freedom. Knowing what you have in your account and not overspending is the easiest way to stay out of financial trouble.

Just make sure you track your expenses, whether it’s by online banking or by a pen and paper ledger. Mark down each purchase, each paycheck or every time you spend or earn. It’s quick and simple.

Budget:
Knowing what you’ll be earning every month, either through a job or allowance, will let you budget how much you can spend and save.

Learn About Credit:
A credit card is not a license to print money, and it’s not free money. Credit card purchases need to be paid back, often at high interest rates. Establishing credit is important for your future, but getting into debt will only harm you. Learn about interest rates and how credit works before jumping into credit card ownership. Start with a pre-paid debit card so you can get used to using a card without fear of going into debt, then work up to a credit card when you are ready.

Get An Account:
A student checking account is a great introduction to money management. With it, you can get accustomed to making deposits and balancing your account. If you add a debit card to the account, you’ll get a feel for what modern money management is all about. Your credit union most likely has a special account for youth.

Of Great Interest

When it comes to saving, one of the most important lessons you can learn is the concept of compound interest. Maybe you aren’t interested in the nitty-gritty of finance, but compound interest is a concept you should master.

Different from simple interest, compound interest takes place when interest is added to the principal of your account. This is either in reference to a debt owed or a savings balance owned. Compound interest can help you tremendously or be treacherous to your account.

When you earn compound interest on your savings account, the interest that has been added to your account also gains interest. This keeps going on and on over the life of the account. When you keep adding interest and keep depositing additional cash to the account, the amount can really grow.

Conversely, when you borrow money, the interest you owe is usually compounded as well, so that’s why many people can fall into the debt trap easily. The compounded interest grows to an unmanageable level and, soon, the total balance due is out of control.

Making The Grade

When you are working hard, it’s frustrating to get a bad grade. However, there are often things you can do to bring your marks up. Communication, strategy and some extra hard work are often all it takes.

Talk To Your Teacher: Talking to your teacher to find out what he or she feels you are doing wrong is an excellent first step. Explain that getting good grades is a priority for you. If you discuss that you are working hard, you can discuss how you will do what it takes to make it happen. If you got a bad grade on an assignment that is somewhat subjective, like an essay test or a paper, ask the teacher for an explanation of how he or she evaluated it. Ask the teacher what a successful grade would require and see if you can work together on a game plan to make it happen.

Reevaluate Your Study Habits: If you aren’t studying the right way, it doesn’t matter how many hours you put in because you’re likely not retaining the information. Talk to your friends and see how they study. Everyone learns differently. Maybe instead of highlighting information, you’d benefit from writing it out. Perhaps instead of flashcards, you would learn best if you read the information aloud. Experiment by trying out different strategies until you find something that works.

Get Enough Rest: Staying up too late studying really can do more harm than good. You need a good night’s sleep to perform well on your exam, and pulling an all-nighter is just not going to make it happen. The best way to study is to begin when you find out about the test. By studying a small amount each night and then reviewing the night before the exam, you’ll be able to absorb all of the material. By sleeping properly the night before, you’ll have enough energy and mental clarity to succeed.

Offer To Do Extra Credit:  It’ll take some additional time and effort from you, but when you have a tough class or find yourself in a tough spot, extra credit is often the way to go. Your teachers want you to succeed and they also want you to learn as much as you possible about the particular subject. By taking on an extra credit assignment, you often learn everything required to ace the class.

Balancing Act: Managing School And A Part-Time Job

When it comes to saving, one of the most important lessons you can learn is the concept of compound interest. Maybe you aren’t interested in the nitty-gritty of finance, but compound interest is a concept you should master.

Different from simple interest, compound interest takes place when interest is added to the principal of your account. This is either in reference to a debt owed or a savings balance owned. Compound interest can help you tremendously or be treacherous to your account.

When you earn compound interest on your savings account, the interest that has been added to your account also gains interest. This keeps going on and on over the life of the account. When you keep adding interest and keep depositing additional cash to the account, the amount can really grow.

Conversely, when you borrow money, the interest you owe is usually compounded as well, so that’s why many people can fall into the debt trap easily. The compounded interest grows to an unmanageable level and, soon, the total balance due is out of control.

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