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Derrick Gan

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November 23, 2021

The Scandal of the American Financial Education System

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You Are Richer Than You Think

You Are Richer Than You Think

The sucker believes that becoming a millionaire is next to impossible without a 6-figure annual income.

The wealthy know that nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s time to start thinking like the wealthy by recognizing that YOU are richer than you think.

Discovering your hidden wealth begins by following these three simple steps:

  1. Reduce Your Debt
  2. Increase Your Cash Flow
  3. Save More Money

Zoom in to unpack each of these steps…

Reduce Your Debt. Regardless of your salary or income, the first step to becoming a millionaire is to take control of your debt, rather than cursing the bills when they arrive in the mail each month and mindlessly paying the minimums. Taking control requires rethinking, organizing, evaluating, and reducing debt efficiently.

Rethinking means removing the emotion attached to your debt, whatever it may be—anger, embarrassment, shame, frustration, hopelessness. It’s like washing the dishes. A stack of plates and a period of time. It’s just another task to complete.

Write down all of your debts, total balances, monthly minimum payments, and interest rates for each. There they are. You can see them all. Now it’s time for war.

The next step is to evaluate which one to pay off first. Choose the debt with the highest balance or lowest balance—OR choose the one with the highest interest rate. With the first victim selected, start putting all the cash you can muster toward paying off this debt. Instead of buying lattes, burgers, lottery tickets, and that cool new graphic t-shirt—dump your cash into debt payments. You’ll have the rest of your life to fill your closet with new tees. Make sure you continue paying the minimum payments for all your other debts too—on time.

When you make the last payment for the first debt do a little happy dance (really important). Then select the next highest debt or lowest debt, whichever strategy you choose—and put as much monthly cash toward paying it off as you can. Include the money from the minimum monthly payment from the debt you just finished paying off. This gives you a compounding effect to your debt reduction strategy. The more debts you pay off, the bigger your debt paying power becomes and the faster you’ll start reducing those debts. The process will actually become fun as you feel the power that comes from knocking each debt out. Trust me.

Along with paying off your credit card balances, student loan debts, and car loans, you should also take a look at your mortgage if you’re a homeowner. If you can refinance your home for a 1% lower interest rate or even lower, it may make sense as a way to lower your monthly payments and lower your mortgage debt. Make sure you work with your financial professional to see if this is a fit for you.

Increase Your Cash Flow. Now that your debt is moving down, you should have more cash freed up. But when it comes to cash flow, more is always the merrier. Here are some tactics for freeing up even more cash flow so you can make the jump from sucker taking a licking to millionaire in the making.

First, look at your monthly spending. Take the last two or three months and categorize everything that isn’t a necessity. How much did you spend on eating out, clothes, entertainment, impulse buys, home improvement, travel, and gifts? With the total in hand, cut the amount in half. You should also take a close look at your monthly subscription payments—how many streaming services do you really need? Cancel services that you’re not using.

So now you have your new non-essentials budget. Congratulations, you just increased your wealth-building power and simultaneously stopped living above your means!

Second, if you’re employed, request a meeting with your boss and ask for an increase in salary or wage or ask for more hours. All they can say is ‘no.’ If they agree, even if it’s just by a small amount, you just increased your cash flow once again. You’re on a roll.

Third, consider starting your own business. You may have thought about starting one in the past but it wasn’t the right time or you were too busy. Now is exactly the time to seriously examine the possibilities. What have you always wanted to do? What are your talents and abilities? What new business opportunities do these times present?

Fourth, you may not want to start a full-fledged business, but you could have a side gig or hustle to earn a little extra in the mornings, evenings, or weekends. Do you like making things, organizing, cleaning, serving, driving, crafting, zooming, or talking on the phone? What can you do with your time, enjoyments, and skills to make a little extra dough? There are endless opportunities out there for entrepreneurs. Find your fit and boost your monthly income—even if it’s only by a few hundred a month.

You have reduced your debt and increased your cash flow. Now you can use that extra monthly cash to start building wealth. The next step is to save like a millionaire.

Save Money. Saving money on a consistent basis, regardless of the amount, is the true secret to financial victory. The strategy is simple. You take all the monthly cash flow you can spare and start saving it into an account with the best interest rate, growth potential, tax advantages, and principal protection you can find. This is where a financial professional is key. Don’t go it alone.

These habits have created more millionaires than any other story, company buyout, or stock market windfall in the history of the world. The 8th wonder of the world—the power of compound interest—is the magic dust that will always work in your favor if you’ll put it to work.

Saving money is more about the decision than anything else. Just like breaking the cycle of foolish spending, you must DECIDE to save money on a consistent basis. When you do, over the years and decades, you will win because you’re employing the Time Value of Money and the Power of Compound Interest. This is the one-two combo that millionaires use to reach their status.

With a little less debt and a little more cash flow, you can start saving a little bit over a long period of time to become richer than you think—perhaps even a millionaire!

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“FL 101” - Financial Literacy For College Freshmen

“FL 101” - Financial Literacy For College Freshmen

College can be a lot of things. Fun. Scary. Exciting. Confusing.

But one thing is for certain—it’s that time of life when students finally break away from their parents and start making their own decisions—like how to spend their money.

And it turns out they have no clue what they’re doing in that department—statistically speaking.

Only 35% of students entering university have received any previous financial education.¹ Is not knowing how money works the major reason why freshmen blindly contribute to the $1.5 trillion of total student loan debt that exists?² Of course it is. But taking on giant loans without understanding the full magnitude of their decision isn’t the only financial mine lying in wait for undergrads. According to Sallie Mae, in 2019 the average college student had $1,183 in credit card debt—a 31% increase from 2016!³

Massive student loans and thousands in credit card debt don’t position students well for post college success, prompting many of them to take a job they don’t care about, in a field they don’t want, for a boss they don’t like. The obligation to make debt payments, which the student once thought was far in the future, now robs them of their freedom to explore, grow, and develop.

If only they had been given a true financial education in high school—or even before, they would have learned the following financial literacy basics for college freshmen…

1. Manage your debt. Student loans help millions of students fund an education that, on average, is worth about $2.8 million over the course of their lives.⁴ But it’s important to highlight that debt is nothing to take on lightly. Many students are unaware of the heavy burden they’re acquiring in the form of student loans and credit card balances.

The company Student Loan Planner reports that roughly 90% of borrowers experience significant anxiety due to their loan burden.⁵ Couple that with a 2015 survey by Equifax that revealed 55.7% of students listed ‘student loan debt’ as their top reason for not being able to afford their first home.⁶

Along with student loan debt, the average college student holds a credit card balance of $1,183. Credit cards for students are often justified as a necessary lifeline to cover living expenses. In reality, they’re often used for frivolous, impulse purchases that contribute to 49% of students being saddled with permanent credit card debt in addition to their student loans.¹

If you can’t avoid using student loans and credit cards to afford your education and living expenses, follow these guidelines to help remove debt swiftly after graduation. With your psychological and financial future at stake, the key is to reduce your debt before an onslaught of new expenses (i.e., your mortgage, children, car payments) make it even harder to pay off.

First, get a part-time job or side-hustle if you haven’t already. Second, identify your credit card with the lowest balance. Third, put as much of your income towards eliminating that debt as you can. Once that’s done, move on to the next lowest card. Repeat until your credit card debt is a hazy memory.

2. Identify a money mentor. There are two ways to gain wisdom. You can either make mistakes or learn from someone else’s. Finances are no different. Never again will you have such a perfect opportunity to find a money mentor than when you’re attending university. It’s like a learning shortcut where you get access to a whole lifetime of experience without a lifetime of making mistakes. You just have to keep an open mind and be willing to establish a real relationship with someone with financial know-how.

Your money mentor could be a parent, a grandparent, an uncle or aunt, the parent of a friend, a professor, or even a responsible upperclassman. Once you’ve identified your mentor, ask hard questions about how to spend and manage money. Pick your mentor’s brain for how they built their wealth, mistakes they made along the way, and advice for specific challenges you face. Show them your budget and have them hold you accountable for your spending decisions. Be willing to put in the work of being open, scheduling and spending time with your mentor, and implementing their advice. The connections and networks you build today will serve you long after you graduate!

3. Start building wealth NOW. Look at your bank account. Then look at your income. They might not seem like much, but they’re the humble beginnings of your future wealth—if you play your cards right! Your money has more growth potential right now than it ever will again. Allow me to demonstrate.

Let’s assume you’re 20 and want to retire at 67 with a million dollars. You find an account with a 9% annual interest rate, compounded monthly. It would only take saving $113 per month to crush that goal. What’s more, you wouldn’t have to increase your saving as you get older to retire as a millionaire. Want to retire with more? Increase it. If you start saving $226 each month now—without ever increasing the amount—you’d have $2 million. If you’ve got the flow, and you want $4 million at retirement—make it $452 each month. Starting young is the most affordable way to build wealth with compound interest.

What if you didn’t start young? What if you decided to wait until you’re 35 to start saving? Those 15 years of procrastination means you’ll have to stash away $451 monthly just to reach your million dollar retirement goal. $452 monthly now for $4 million or $451 monthly starting at 35 for $1 million. You don’t need the wealth of a king or queen to enjoy the freedoms of royalty in retirement—if you start building wealth NOW. It’s your decision whether time robs you or robes you. Even if you start saving with less than these amounts, start the habit now to set aside a regular sum of money for your future.

4. Use a budgeting app. Budgeting is important. It can also be a huge pain if you don’t know what you’re doing. Punching in numbers, setting up spreadsheet formulas, and stressing if that pizza delivery tip counts towards groceries can make tracking your expenses such an aggravating process that you don’t even bother. Fortunately, there are some excellent apps and websites out there that can take the hassle out of money management. Mint and Pocketguard, for example, are free budgeting apps that sync to your bank account and credit cards to allow for real time updates to your spending and saving goals. And it’s all conveniently located on your phone, just a few taps away. Scrap the spreadsheet, do a little research, and download a headache-reducing app ASAP.

A financial education isn’t like a sociology or history class. Those last for a few months, you learn tons of facts, you pass a test, and you move on with your life. Learning how money works is a lifelong process that will impact almost all of your daily decisions and future experiences. Few other skills will open your eyes to the exciting possibilities that life can offer. So hit the books (the How Money Works, Stop Being a Sucker book, to be precise) and start being a student of personal finance TODAY.

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¹ “2019 Money Matters On Campus,” Daniel Zapp, EVERFI, https://everfi.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/MoneyMatters-2019.pdf

² “Student Loan Debt Statistics In 2019: A $1.5 Trillion Crisis,” Zack Friedman, Forbes, Feb 25, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/02/25/student-loan-debt-statistics-2019/#50430199133f

³ “Majoring in Money 2019,” Sallie Mae and Ipsos, https://www.salliemae.com/about/leading-research/majoring-in-money/

⁴ “The College Payoff: Education, Occupation, And Lifetime Earnings,” Georgetown University Center On Education And The Workforce, https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/the-college-payoff/

⁵ “Mental Health Survey: 1 in 15 High Student Debt Borrowers Considered Suicide,” Melanie Lockert, Student Loan Planner, Sept 4, 2019, https://www.studentloanplanner.com/mental-health-awareness-survey/

⁶ “Millennials, Mortgages and Student Debt,” Rosie Biundo, Equifax, July 14, 2015, https://insight.equifax.com/millennials-mortgages-and-student-debt/

Your Emergency Fund: What you need to know.

Your Emergency Fund: What you need to know.

It really isn’t a question on whether or not you need an emergency fund.

(You do.) It’s the first line of defense when unexpected expenses show up (and they will—have kids?). Unforeseen emergencies threaten to undo your hard work and careful financial planning.

But what exactly is an emergency fund? What should it look like? And how do you start building one if you don’t have a sack of cash lying around?

What’s an emergency fund… and why do you need one? <br> An emergency fund is a dedicated amount of money to cover unplanned, unavoidable expenses. Establishing one is an important milestone on your journey to achieving financial independence! But why is it such a big deal?

Emergencies are a part of life. Nobody schedules a busted transmission or a broken arm, but you’ll need a way to pay for them when they happen. Who would have guessed that a global pandemic would force most of us to stay at home and cost millions of Americans their jobs? So it’s not a question of if you’ll need to cover something unexpected but how you’ll cover it. Without an emergency fund, you’ll be forced to either dip into your long-term savings (assuming you have them) or go into debt. For most people, either option can seriously throw off long-term financial plans. An emergency fund gives you the power to overcome sudden obstacles without sacrificing your retirement or piling up credit card bills.

Emergency fund ins and outs <br> One critical thing to grasp is that an emergency fund isn’t the same as your savings. Establishing a solid emergency fund is not a long-term goal that’s built over years or decades. Once the emergency fund is full, then you move on to other money milestones like conquering debt and saving for the future.

So how do you know you have enough in your fund? That depends on how much you make. A good rule of thumb is that an emergency fund should cover 3 to 6 months of income. That provides a buffer if you have an unexpected car repair, medical emergency, or if you’re temporarily unemployed due to an unprecedented global pandemic!

But what if you don’t have that much cash just lying around? <br> 3 to 6 months of income might seem like a lot of money to set aside, especially if you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck. Building an emergency fund will take time and budgeting. Start with a goal of saving 2 weeks of pay. Then shoot for 1 month, then 2 months, etc., until you reach your goal.

The 2 Rules of Emergency Funds

Rule 1: An emergency fund is only, ONLY to be used in case of actual emergencies. It’s not for last minute getaways, much needed spa days, or killer video game sales. If those kinds of things come along, you can use a “fun fund”, which of course is part of your regular budget!

Rule 2: The emergency fund needs to be easily accessible. Make sure it’s in an account where you won’t incur fees for withdrawals when your car breaks down or you suddenly need a new AC unit. That’s why it’s there. Just remember to refill it as soon as the emergency has passed.

Once you’ve built your emergency fund and you know the rules, you’re ready to move on to the next stages of building wealth. Congratulations!You’re officially not broke and in the perfect position to chase your financial future!

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Are You Brave Enough to Answer These Two Big Money Questions?

Are You Brave Enough to Answer These Two Big Money Questions?

Let’s get right to it. Here’s question one: Are you building wealth?

If you answered, ‘yes,’ good for you! Now, let’s get a little more specific… Are you building enough wealth to afford the lifestyle and independence you want until the end of your life?

If you’re like many Americans, you can’t answer that question for two reasons. First, you haven’t calculated how much wealth you’ll need. And second, you don’t know if you’re saving enough now. Have you run the numbers on your 401(k)? You might be shocked at how fast it might run out in retirement. What about Social Security? Any clue how much that will add up to? If your future financial security hinges on these two income sources, you might freak when you realize how little you’ll have to live on each month.

61% of Americans across all ages fear running out of money in retirement.(1) And it’s no wonder! We’re living longer than ever, meaning we need enough savings and passive income to last what could be 20 years (or more).(2) Being able to jazzercise and waterski with the grandkids at 75 is great—unless you’re broke.

Rather than thinking like a sucker and assuming you’ll somehow have enough for the future, it’s time to start thinking like the wealthy. They don’t put their heads in the sand and “hope it all works out”. Money—to them—isn’t anything to be ignored. They learn everything they can about how it works and start developing strategies to make it last. To the wealthy, money is not boring, mysterious, scary, or frustrating. They consider the lifestyle they want and then backwards engineer how to get there, by making money work for them.

To the wealthy, money equals possibilities, goals, gifts, and solutions to problems. Once they have the knowledge, they do everything they can to take control of their future. Money becomes wealth.

But if you don’t know how money works, your money can also become… someone else’s wealth.

Here’s question number two: How do you think about money? Do you think about money like a sucker? Or like the wealthy? It’s not a criticism. It’s a choice.

If money still seems mysterious, confusing or intimidating to you, take these two steps immediately…

Read the book, “HowMoneyWorks, Stop Being a Sucker.” (You can contact me to get a copy.) Then, sit down with a financial professional and find the answer to question one, “are you building enough wealth to afford the lifestyle and independence you want until the end of your life?”

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Sources: <br>

(1) “Reclaiming the Future,” Allianz, https://www.allianzlife.com/-/media/files/allianz/documents/ent_991_n.pdf

(2) “How Long Will Your Retirement Really Last?,” Simon Moore, Forbes, Apr 24, 2018, (https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonmoore/2018/04/24/how-long-will-your-retirement-last/#5b6be5c77472)

How To Break Free From The Sucker Cycle

February 22, 2021

How To Break Free From The Sucker Cycle

Page 14 of “HowMoneyWorks, Stop Being a Sucker” reveals one of the biggest traps of financial illiteracy—the Sucker Cycle.

It’s a money whirlpool that sucks people into an endless loop of trying to spend their way to happiness and wealth.

Here’s how it works. You get a paycheck from someone wealthier than you. You spend it on lattes, lottery tickets, and a lot of other stuff you can’t afford—essentially handing the money back to someone wealthier than you. There’s little to nothing left to save—which is why it feels like everyone’s wealthier than you are. Every 30 days, the whirlpool races to the waterfall with the awful feeling that there’s “more month left at the end of the money.”

This financial phenomenon not only feeds the Sucker Cycle but also illustrates the very definition of financial disaster: “When your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep becomes your downfall.“

But here’s the good news. Any of us can break the Sucker Cycle. It’s not a matter of money. It’s a matter of priority. The wealthy people of the world live by the following basic mantra: “Pay yourself first!”

From now on, every time you’re handed a paycheck—before you pay bills, buy coffee, or order pizza—make sure you take a portion of your money and put it to work—for your future!

Connect with a financial professional and put goals in place that are specific and intentional—no matter the monthly savings amount.

Saving first and saving consistently is the formula for financial success—and future fulfillment. So if you find yourself stuck in the Sucker Cycle, make a decision to stop being a sucker and BREAK FREE. Form new habits. Think like the wealthy. Pay yourself first. Leverage the power of compound interest.

The results can be astounding—AND—can create the momentum to do even more.


– J.D. Phillips


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Is Your Cash Flowing?

February 12, 2021

Is Your Cash Flowing?

How much cash do you have left at the end of the month after you’ve covered the essentials AND treated yourself? (I’m guessing not much.)

Wish your paycheck went a little further? You’re not alone—not by a long shot. Most Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck and saving little to nothing. So how do you increase your cash flow so you can stop living in the Sucker Cycle and start saving and investing more?

In the book, HowMoneyWorks, Stop Being a Sucker, we attack this challenge head on in Milestone 5 of the 7 Money Milestones.

Here are a few tips to get your cash flowing towards your future…

Redirect your cash flow <br> There are a million little things that siphon away your paycheck. Credit card debt, monthly subscriptions, and your fast food habit all chip away at your income. This “death by a thousand cuts” is a foolish spending cycle that prevents you—and countless other suckers—from creating an emergency fund, protecting your income, and building wealth for the future.

That’s why it’s so important to make and maintain a budget. It’s like a map of where your cash is going. Once you have that knowledge, you can figure out where you need to dial down your spending and start redirecting your cash. Don’t get too detailed. You don’t need to get overwhelmed by spreadsheets. Try creating a one-page list of expenses, freeing up as much cash as possible. Take your budget to your financial professional and discuss how best to use this available cash.

Open up new income streams <br> Budgeting and cutting back on spending might not be enough. Life throws plenty of unexpected (and expensive) problems at us that might not have a budgeting solution. You may need to look for new income streams to maintain the lifestyle you want while also saving for the future.

You’d be surprised by how many possibilities there are to create additional income streams—many of which offer the chance to make money from home. Maybe now is the time to discover that your favorite hobby or area of interest is actually a way to earn some cash. That could look like a side hustle or weekend gig, but you might find that your skills and ideas are full-time business opportunities just waiting to happen! Research which of your ideas and skills are in demand, figure out how much time and effort it will take to get started, and decide how much time you’re willing to commit. (It could be easier than you think!)

Increasing your cash flow can open up a whole new world of opportunities. That extra money you have from cutting back on takeout and streaming services could be how you fuel the power of compound interest and finally start saving for retirement. That several hundred dollars you bring in from teaching guitar lessons each month could be how you pay off your credit cards and free up even more cash. There’s no doubt your options can really open up once your cash starts flowing!

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4 Simple Steps to Streamline Your Housing Budget

February 1, 2021

4 Simple Steps to Streamline Your Housing Budget

Decreasing your housing budget may mean more money in your pocket.

That’s because housing is the single largest expense for most Americans.¹ Reducing mortgage payments or rent by even a fraction can free up substantial cash flow.

The best part? You don’t have to move into a shack to make it happen. Here are a few strategies to increase cash flow by decreasing your housing costs.

Choose the suburbs over the city. On average, suburbanites save $9,000 per year on housing and child care when compared to city-dwellers.² By and large, the money you may save on the cost of living in the suburbs can outweigh the added transportation expenses. It’s not a shift for everyone, but relocating further from the city might make sense financially, at least for the short-term.

Rent until you’re ready. It’s worth considering leasing a house or apartment until you’re financially positioned to buy a house. Even if a mortgage payment seems cheaper on paper than renting, ownership can come loaded with unforeseen expenses. Flooded basement? That’s on you. Broken furnace? Also on you. Renting isn’t necessarily a permanent long-term strategy, but it beats potentially going into debt covering surprise repairs that are beyond your budget.

Find a reliable roommate. Sharing the cost of housing can free up a significant portion of your cash flow, especially in expensive cities. In New York City, for instance, having a roommate can save you up to $15,500 every year.³ Just be sure you take on a roommate that doesn’t flake out when rent is due.

Rent out a room. If you’re a homeowner with room to spare, consider leasing space to a trusted friend. The extra income can offset the cost of mortgage payments and result in more cash flow going toward saving, investing, or even paying off the house faster.

Contact me if you’re interested in learning more about how budgeting fits into an overarching financial strategy. We can review your income and expenses and make a game plan for how you can stop spending like a sucker and start saving like the wealthy.

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¹ “American Spending Habits in 2020,” Lexington Law, Jan 6, 2020, https://www.lexingtonlaw.com/blog/credit-cards/american-spending-habits.html

² “City vs. Suburbs: Where is Better to Live?,” The Perspective, 2020, https://www.theperspective.com/debates/city-vs-suburbs/

³ “What a Roommate Saves You in 50 U.S. Cities – 2020 Edition,” Nadia Ahmad, SmartAsset, May 11, 2020, https://smartasset.com/checking-account/what-a-roommate-saves-you-in-50-us-cities-2020

A Bold Strategy to Free Up Cash Flow

January 28, 2021

A Bold Strategy to Free Up Cash Flow

Need cash flow? Consider reducing your largest expenses.

Housing, transportation, and food consume more than 60% of the average American’s income.¹ If you’re willing to cut costs in those categories by just a fraction, you could save far more than eliminating smaller budget items. Think of it like this—cancelling a few unused online subscriptions is a good start, but it might not save you nearly as much as downsizing your apartment!

Here’s how it works…

You’re ready to get your financial house in order, attack your debt, and start building wealth. Let’s say you earn about $70,000 per year. $40,000 goes towards housing, transportation, and food, you spend $5,000 on non-necessities, and the rest goes towards insurance, healthcare, and education.

Looks good, right? But when you crunch the numbers, you realize you can’t put away enough each month to reach your savings goals. What a momentum-killer! How are you going to free up cash flow?

By totally eliminating non-necessities like coffee from the shop and streaming services, you could get back $5,000 dollars a year.² Not bad, but not great either.

Or—to save twice as much—you could scale back your housing, transportation, and food expenses by 25%. It might seem radical, but it’s worth considering if it can help get you to your goals.

The takeaway? Before you hack away at your lifestyle, consider your non-discretionary spending. It’s an aggressive strategy, but ask yourself if there are ways you could slash your rent, mortgage payments, car payments, and grocery bill. If so, take advantage of them—they could free up far more cash flow than by just cutting non-necessities.

Not sure how to cut back on your top expenses? Stay tuned for creative strategies for reducing your spending on housing, transportation, and food. Articles that outline how you can save money on the largest items in your budget are on the way!

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¹ “American Spending Habits in 2020,” Lexington Law, Jan 6, 2020, https://www.lexingtonlaw.com/blog/credit-cards/american-spending-habits.html

² “New Survey Finds Americans’ Spending Habits Are Ruining Their Retirement,” Cameron Huddleston, Yahoo! Finance, Jan 1, 2019, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/survey-finds-americans-spending-habits-100000015.html#:~:text=New%20Survey%20Finds%20Americans’%20Spending%20Habits%20Are%20Ruining%20Their%20Retirement,-Cameron%20Huddleston&text=GOBankingRates’%202018%20Retirement%20Savings%20survey,worth%20of%20expenses%20in%20retirement.

5 Ways Parents Can Teach Their Children About Money Over the Holidays

December 22, 2020

5 Ways Parents Can Teach Their Children About Money Over the Holidays

The holiday season is an ideal time for your kids to learn, teach, and model how money works.

Yes, the long lines and Black Friday stampedes have become synonymous with the worst of consumer excess and foolish spending. But with its joy and light, the holiday stretch also brings high expectations to give generously. That’s a noble cause if you know how money works, but it can be a slippery slope if you don’t. Having a giving spirit is an admirable trait and considering the needs of others should be part of every family budget if possible. However, overspending on gifts, no matter how good your intentions, can throw you drastically off course financially, stealing from your future and creating hardship for years.

The holiday season is a great opportunity for families to discuss when to give with a heart that’s three times bigger—AND—how to make money decisions like the wealthiest Who in Whoville.

Here are 5 surprisingly simple ways for families to teach and model essential lessons for children about how money works this holiday season.

Give your child cash… and teach them to save it. <br> Opening up a card is always a bit of a letdown on Christmas morning… unless it contains some cold hard cash! Gifts of money are perfect opportunities to teach children about the importance of saving. Before they blow their “present” on a new toy, in-app purchases, or candy, sit down and have a money conversation with them. Explain that the dough Santa left in their stocking has the power to grow and grow via compound interest. You don’t have to be a grinch and make them hoard all of it. But you might be surprised at how eager they are to save once they discover the growth potential of their money to help them purchase something even bigger and better down the road.

Help your child with their holiday budget <br> This process starts well before the leaves change colors and snow covers the ground. Collaborate with your kids to guide them in deciding how much they should spend per person over the holidays. Help them develop a post-holiday budget as well. Work with them to nail down a percentage of any holiday cash gifts they’re comfortable saving (20% is a good starting point) and hold them to it! Don’t be discouraged if they give you a low number. That money has time to grow and could still make a difference for their long term goals like buying a car, paying for their education, purchasing a home, or even saving for retirement.

Wants vs. Needs <br> Explain to your kids that the holidays are not about things. They’re about remembering what really matters, like relationships, family, memories, and traditions. Model self-control for your kids this season. That might mean foregoing luxury gifts, especially those that depreciate in value. Practicing financial discipline not only sets a great example for your kids to follow later in life, it’s also good for them in the short-term. Removing the stress of overspending and holiday debt can open the door to realistic expectations, peace of mind, and meaningful experiences. And for your family, a light-hearted mood during the season of giving will be worth its weight in gold.

Show your kids how price tags really work <br> Price tags are liars. The true cost of that $500 you spent on trinkets, toys, or tech will be far higher if you factor in future earnings had you saved that money. Make sense? This is a radical shift in thinking—a wealthy way of thinking. Giving is good, but consider also teaching your kids that when you buy something you’re also giving up the time value of that money—its potential to earn more money for you over time. Teach them that one day they may be able to have far more by being smart with their money now.

The real spirit of giving <br> The subtitle of the HowMoneyWorks book is Stop Being a SUCKER—not Stop Being a GIVER. No one wants to turn their kids into little Scrooges. Once they have the knowledge to start building wealth, they have the potential to give back in ways that would have been impossible for someone trapped in a cycle of foolish spending (which includes giving gifts they can’t afford). Teaching your children how money works means positioning them to have more for themselves AND to provide more for others. They’ll be able to give—and receive the joys of giving—for a lifetime.

Ask me how you can get a copy of HowMoneyWorks: Stop Being a Sucker. It explains these concepts in a way that makes it easy for you to teach your kids all about how money works.

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