February 24, 2017 by 5 pm – Deadline for essay submissions to be received
March 31, 2017 – Finalists notified, make arrangements for recognition ceremony
In support of Money Smart Week taking place April 22-29, 2017, Money Smart Week— St. Louis Metro, an effort of the Greater St. Louis Financial Education Collaborative, will be sponsoring the Money Smart Kid Essay Contest. Students in grades 6–8 are encouraged to answer this year’s question with an essay of 300 words or less. Three finalists will be recognized at the Money Smart Kick-Off Event. One student will be named the 2017 Money Smart Kid, winning a $2,000 scholarship from COUNTRY Financial, a second student will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the Metropolitan St. Louis CRA Association, and a third will be awarded a $500 scholarship from Vantage Credit Union.
Do you think there is a connection between financial health and physical health? Please explain your answer. And what can a city, state or national policymaker do to help promote financially healthier citizens?
You already know why you should have ongoing discussions about money with your children.
On the flip side, your child doesn’t need to know everything you’re thinking, when it comes to money. Giving all your knowledge, facts, feelings and information about money to them all at once, or too early, can be overwhelming for children. In order for children not to worry, or the opposite – to feel as there is an endless supply of money, it is better to talk about finances in general terms.
Start teaching toddlers the difference between needs and wants as soon as they understand that they need food and a bed to sleep in. Needs and wants change as a child grows, keep those conversations going. Give children guided choices in spending allowances, birthday money, etc. Some children are successful with dividing their money among a few goals; saving (e.g. a new game system), spending (e.g. snacks, small toys), sharing (e.g. donations, gifts), and investing (e.g. college).
When a younger child asks how much money your family has, you may reply with, “I make enough money so that we can afford to pay all of our bills, pay for the car, and pay for…” this provides your child enough information to know you are able to take care of him–and you won’t have to worry about him spilling your financial business to his classmates.
When your child starts asking why others have things that your family doesn’t, you don’t have to make excuses, or get offended. “What parents should say is, ‘every family has its own way of doing things,’” Keeping the conversation about your own household helps your child focus more on what your family is doing and what your values are, and less on what is going on in their friends’ homes.
Involve your children in some saving aspects of the family finances. A family vacation is a perfect example of involving the entire family. How much does it cost to go camping nearby, to visit family in another state, to make a trip to Disney World? Set a date one to two years away, make plans, and start saving together.
As your child becomes older, you may choose to discuss you family finances in more depth. Remember to concentrate on solutions to money problems (e.g. cutting credit cards, using lists when shopping) and the choices made for accomplishments (e.g. Christmas savings account, budgeting).
For more Money Smart information for yourself or your children, check out the many free workshops offered all over the St. Louis region during Money Smart Week.
By Angie Henderson, AFC
Did you know that there’s a new financial guidance resource for St. Louis’ veteran population? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has launched a new, nationwide initiative to assist our nation’s veterans in the area of personal finance and the best part is – it’s FREE!
There are roughly 250,000 service members who leave active duty every year. Veterans face unique financial challenges compared to their peers without military experience. They often deal with major career changes when they leave the military, which can affect their income. They also grapple with moving often, which can make it difficult for spouses to earn money, further challenging the household budget. So it is easy to see how personal finances often top the list of concerns of newly separated veterans. To help with those struggles, the CFPB recently launched a Financial Coaching Program to help veterans take control of their finances.
The goal,” says Holly Petraeus, CFPB’s Assistant Director and head of the Office of Service Member Affairs, is to assist military personnel and their families in getting the financial education they need to make better consumer decisions. “The idea is to help them proactively take control of their finances at crucial moments and end up becoming financially stable and achieving the financial goals they’ve set forth,” she says.
So what is financial coaching? Financial coaching is a tool that empowers the client to take charge of their personal finances. Through a series of one-on-one meetings, a client can expect to receive support and guidance to pinpoint their financial goals, identify barriers that may be keeping them from attaining their goals, recognize what they can do to achieve them and come up with a plan of action to help them accomplish their objectives. Financial coaches can help access financial education, find resources and seek the right financial interactive tools that will work best for the client to make well thought out and confident decisions while working toward their financial goals.
The coaching services are provided free of charge, funded by CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund. “(The coaches) give one-on-one advice and encouragement, driven by the client,” Petraeus says. “When we can set up our veterans for success, it benefits all of us,” she adds.
Interested? Contact your St. Louis metropolitan area coach today to set up a confidential one-on-one appointment at (314) 201-0308 or email@example.com.
Estate Planning Without an “Estate”
When the words “estate planning” come to mind, many people think of billionaires such as Bill Gates or Mitt Romney. These wealthy Americans certainly do have an estate and a very complex estate plan. However, anyone with a few dollars in the bank or a life insurance policy technically have an estate. Your estate is anything you’ve accumulated over your lifetime. Therefore, it’s important to have an estate plan even if you don’t feel like you have an “estate.” Below are a few tips to consider, including some information that may surprise you:
Hopefully this list of popular estate planning documents has been helpful. Please be sure to speak with a qualified estate attorney before making any changes to your estate plan. This can be a very complicated topic, so professional guidance is important.
By Vena Stevens, Gateway EITC Community Coalition
Date: January 9, 2015
Tax season is quickly approaching. Knowing a few simple facts about tax preparation and filing will help you avoid mistakes and may even save you money.
There are several options for preparing and filing your federal income tax return. You can prepare and file your own tax return. This is a good option for someone who has a simple return. Those making less than $60,000 for the 2014 tax year can even do this for free online through www.MyFreeTaxes.org and the IRS Free File website.
The majority of Americans will have their returns done for them. There are some things that are important to know before deciding on a tax preparer. There is currently no U.S. regulation or minimum educational requirement for tax preparers. Only four states have regulations; Missouri is not one of them. According to the IRS, about 60% of tax preparers operate without any oversight or educational requirements.
Options for having your taxes prepared:
Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer:
Other Dos and Don’ts:
By Thomas Nitzche, CFEd, ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions
Date: March 20, 2014
Winter doesn’t want to leave, but many of you may be ready to start your spring cleaning. While images of mops, broomsticks, and vacuums traditionally come to mind, cleaning up your credit is an important part of maintaining your household. Start off your spring credit cleaning by getting a copy of your credit report through a reputable site that offers free credit reports like www.annualcreditreport.com.
Your credit report is an extremely important factor in becoming financially secure. There are many reasons why every consumer should pull their credit report yearly. The main reason is that you need to know exactly what is being recorded on your credit report by your creditors, and you need to make sure that information is reported correctly.
Credit reports can affect your ability to get a job, purchase a new car or home, and can also influence how much interest you will pay on your credit cards and other debts.
Many companies now pull credit reports for job applicants. They may require your score to be above a certain number or that you are current on all of your debt obligations. You need to make sure your credit report is positive when applying for new career opportunities.
Potential lenders for new car or home loans will pull your credit report. It is part of their due diligence, and in most cases is required. All lenders have specific guidelines for who will and will not qualify for a loan. The cost of the loan will also be determined by your credit report and credit score.
When applying for new credit cards, the prospective creditor will pull your credit report. The credit line you receive and the interest rate you will pay is determined by your credit report and credit score. In most cases, lenders/creditors also take into consideration your income and assets.
Often, inaccuracies are reported to the credit bureaus and these can have significant effects on your credit rating. It is essential that you review your reports from the three major credit bureaus at least once per year to maintain good credit. You don’t want an error to be holding down your credit score and negatively affecting the way you are viewed by creditors.
Once you have your credit report in hand, the true cleaning can begin. First, review everything to be sure there aren’t any accounts you were unaware of. Then check to see if there are any negative factors being reported that you believe may be inaccurate. Should you find any information that you believe is incorrect, make sure to file a dispute in the dispute area of your credit report (disputes are generally resolved within 30-45 days). Next, take a look over the accounts you have and make a plan to improve your score through taking care of old debts, making timely consistent payments, catching up on any past due amounts, reducing balances owed, and maintaining lower balances on your accounts over time.