Gopen Finance Consultant

Watch your finances like a hawk.

Category: Finance (page 2 of 2)

How To Keep Your Saving

In the times we’re living in today many people are looking for alternative ways of saving their money. As inflation and debt levels continue to soar while wages remain stagnant, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to grow a nest egg.

In the book, “The Richest Man in Babylon”, Arkad was widely known for his great wealth. The story suggests he had a working theory of, “A part of all you earn is yours to keep. It should be not less than a tenth no matter how little you earn… pay yourself first.”

Unfortunately, most of society has strayed away from this thinking.

The fact is Canadians aren’t saving as they once did and collectively are holding record high levels of debt. The average household savings rate in Canada has dropped from about 20 percent in the 1980’s, to 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.[i] Many people believe they cannot save because after paying “all their bills” there’s nothing much left. However, understand that in most cases if you’re attempting to save after paying all your bills you may find this strategy to be futile. Instead, get in the habit of saving first or, consider it paying yourself first. Once you’ve developed this habit then you can look into what vehicle you want to save your cash in.

Generally speaking, when people DO consider saving often times the traditional approach is taken; open a bank savings account and dump as much cash in it as possible. Sit on it like a goose sits on her eggs and wait for your savings to hatch. The sad reality for most however, is making a future cash withdrawal only to be afforded the ability to buy less with their savings because inflation has eaten away at it. And you’ll always be on the losing side of a bank savings account because interest rates are not higher than inflation.

Another option many consider is putting money into the stock market however, one should not consider the stock market as a savings vehicle because the stock market has had a history of crashing dating back to beyond 1929.[ii]

Search the definition of saving in Webster’s dictionary and see “preservation from danger or destruction” while the definition of investing reads, “to commit (money) in order to earn a financial return.” Neither method is good or bad but you must understand which it is that you’re trying to do.

Finally, during my research I have found throughout history when people lose faith in their national currency, the banking system that controls it and their governments, many rush back to gold. Gold is the oldest form of money and has proved to be a safe haven for centuries. Gold cannot be printed, debased, or inflated. Simply put, gold is financial insurance.

To understand this concept more, it’s important to start investing in your own education. Financial literacy should be taught in our school system however, sadly it is not. If you are concerned about where to stash your cash so that you can protect your money from danger and destruction, you will have to take those matters into your own hands. And for good reason too, your savings should be in your hands because your economy should be the most important economy to you!

Learn what they banks don’t want you to know and protect your money from danger and destruction.

Understanding Of Inflation

Inflation is a steady rise in prices, owing to which, incomes and savings of the population will depreciate. Even the weakest inflation is dangerous for the development of the modern monetary economy. Therefore, all countries (including the most developed ones), take anti-inflationary measures to reduce inflation rates.

What causes?

Inflation – a monetary phenomenon associated with issuance of excessive money for circulation compared with the supply of goods. This increase in money occurs for various reasons. And the first of them is the growth of incomes of the population, not supported by a corresponding increase in the production of goods. This excessive demand pushes up prices and increases inflation rate. This imbalance between supply and demand for goods and services can also be resulted by crop failures, import restrictions, or actions of the monopolists. Also, rising costs of the production and increasing expenses of enterprises for wages, taxes, interest payments and others highly contributes to increase of inflation rates. Furthermore, the increase in prices for imported components shows both an increase in world prices and weakening of the national currency. The weakened national currency can directly affect the prices of the final products imported from abroad. The overall effect of exchange rate changes on price dynamics is called the “transfer effect” and is often viewed as a separate inflation factor. An essential role in the development of the inflationary process is played by the so-called waiting moments. The expected rise in prices forces the population to buy goods. Thus, a deficit is created for some of them, and, consequently, prices are rising. It is difficult to bring down such inflationary expectations.

Inflation can take many forms. In a regulated economy (such existed in the USSR), as well as in wartime conditions, when prices are fixed, it can have a hidden character – this is so-called suppressed inflation. It is followed by the deficit of many products, a surge in shadow trade, a sharp increase in prices in the markets, etc. However, the repudiation of such regulation (after the war or in countries that have passed from an administratively regulated to a market economy) often generates “galloping inflation” with a frenzied price increase. It arises from the discrepancy between the supply of money and the insufficient quantity of goods.
The other forms of inflation include:

– Administrative inflation – the inflation generated by “administratively” operated prices;

– Galloping inflation – inflation in the form of spasmodic increase in prices;

– Hyperinflation – inflation with very high growth rate of the prices;

– Built- in inflation – characterized by the average level for a certain period of time;

– Imported inflation – the inflation caused by influence of external factors, for example excessive inflow to the country of foreign currency and increase in import prices;

-Induced inflation – the inflation caused by influence of factors of the economic nature, external factors;

– Credit inflation – the inflation caused by excessive credit expansion;

– Unforeseen inflation – the rate of inflation which has appeared above expected for a certain period;

– Expected inflation – the estimated rate of inflation in future period owing to action of factors of the current period;

– Open inflation – inflation due to increase in prices of consumer goods and production resources;

Negative Consequences of High Inflation

High inflation rate decreases purchasing power of all economic entities which negatively affects demand, the economic growth, the standards of living of the population, and moods in society. Depreciation of the income narrows opportunities and undermines incentives to saving that interferes with formation of a steady financial basis for investment. Besides, high inflation is accompanied by the increased uncertainty which complicates decision-making of economic entities. Overall inflation negatively influences savings, consumption, production, investments and general conditions for sustainable development of economy.

How to decrease?

Fighting inflation, as the experience of developed countries shows, is extremely difficult. It seems easy: freezing prices or introduce some form of regulation for prices. Unfortunately, this method is effective for a short time only. The freezing of prices will soon be triggered by an increase in the deficit of goods and will further exacerbate inflation. The other method of fighting inflation is through contractionary monetary policy. The aim of this policy is to reduce the money supply within an economy by increasing interest rates. This helps to reduce spending because those who have money want to keep it and save it, instead of spending it. It also means less available credit, which also reduces spending.

Step To Opening Bank Account

I was surprised when I asked parents to tell me the life skills they wish their kids knew, and there was a resounding request for kids to learn how to open a bank account.

Similarly, there was a huge call out for:

  • How to budget & balance accounts
  • How to write checks and pay bills
  • And how to start saving for retirement

It seems some of the things we take for granted are, as a result, missing from what we teach kids.This article is the first article in the four-part series and will discuss the best and simplest way to get started with opening a bank account.

It seems easy, but there are several questions many people never think of that we’ll address in this article:

  1. Which bank?
  2. Checking or savings account?
  3. Are there fees or minimum balances?
  4. Should I get a Debit Card too?
  5. Should I have my name on the account with my kid?

1. Choosing a Bank

When you choose a bank, there are a few criteria you’ll want to look at:

  1. Location
  2. Number of branches
  3. Ease of access

The location should be convenient to your home, but also have enough branches so that – in the case of an emergency – you can get to your bank.I opened an account with Elevations Credit Union when I was attending CU Boulder. It was convenient and credit unions are really great to bank with. However, after I graduated and moved, there were no branches around me, which made things very inconvenient. I ended up opening an account with US Bank since they are in about every King Soopers, where I do my grocery shopping.

This is especially important with kids because you don’t want them to have to drive too far just to bank.

Similarly, ease of access into the branch is important. I remember having a Norwest (now Wells Fargo) account, and getting in and out of the bank’s parking lot was terrible. I had several near-miss car accidents and dreaded even going to the bank.

2. Checking or Savings Account

As you’ll learn in the future article about saving and budgeting, there should be an account that is used for saving and investing.

That means it’s important to have BOTH a checking and savings account.

The reason a checking account is important, is so that kids can learn how to write checks, and have a designated spending account aside from a designated savings account.

Checking accounts are important for paying bills (be it online or via mail) and will give kids the opportunity to learn how to write checks. Even if check writing isn’t as prevalent as it once was, it’s still important.

I was shopping one day and realized I forgot my wallet, which had my credit cards and cash. I started to panic because I needed some food. Fortunately, I keep a couple of checks in the car and was able to save myself by writing a check… they still come in handy!

3. Fees & Minimum Balances

Some banks have fees to have an account and others don’t. Obviously get the one that doesn’t since your kid shouldn’t have a huge account. Likewise make sure there isn’t a minimum balance or a very small ($10 or less) minimum balance.

Just as important is how overdrafts are handled!

When I was in college, it never failed: my peers (who hadn’t learned how to balance an account) would routinely trigger their overdraft protection and the hefty fees that went along with it.

They would look at their balance online and it would show $10. Then they’d check it again a few days later and it was at $30.

It was the magical growing bank account; and they never wondered where the extra money came from. Until the end of the month when they had over $200 in overdraft protection fees!

I would suggest NOT getting overdraft protection and instead making darn sure they can balance their account (which we’ll cover in a future article).

4. What About a Debit Card?

Here’s my thoughts on kids having debit cards: it makes it much, much harder to balance the bank account while making it much easier to overspend and run into trouble.

Are ATM machines convenient? Yes, but I have never once used one in my entire life. Part of teaching kids life skills is to teach them to be prepared. I keep an extra $10 in cash plus a few checks in my car. It wouldn’t bother me if it got stolen.

If you’re determined that your kid gets a debit card, wait at least six months after opening their account so they can learn “the old fashioned way” and understand how the debit card affects their account when they actually start using it.

5. Should I Be On The Account Too?

I think it’s a very good idea for you to be on your kid’s first account so you can monitor their spending and make sure they don’t cause a train wreck.

It’s good to get statements so that you can use that as a learning experience to go over them with your kid and teach them how to properly dispose of them (in a shredder) so that they decrease their risk of identity theft.

Come up with a time frame or benchmarks until you pull yourself off the account and let your kid take on the responsibility of an individual account.

Opening a bank account is a huge step into a new world for kids and it should be a great experience. Walk your kids through the setup and look for the learning opportunities along the way.

All About Blockchain Finance

Let’s say that a new technology is developed that could allow many parties to transact a real estate deal. The parties get together and complete the details about timing, special circumstances and financing. How will these parties know they can trust each other? They would have to verify their agreement with third parties – banks, legal teams, government registration and so on. This brings them back to square one in terms of using the technology to save costs.

In the next stage, the third parties are now invited to join the real estate deal and provide their input while the transaction is being created in real time. This reduces the role of the middleman significantly. If the deal is this transparent, the middleman can even be eliminated in some cases. The lawyers are there to prevent miscommunication and lawsuits. If the terms are disclosed upfront, these risks are greatly reduced. If the financing arrangements are secured upfront, it will be known in advance that the deal will be paid for and the parties will honour their payments. This brings us to the last stage of the example. If the terms of the deal and the arrangements have been completed, how will the deal be paid for? The unit of measure would be a currency issued by a central bank, which means dealing with the banks once again. Should this happen, the banks would not allow these deals to be completed without some sort of due diligence on their end and this would imply costs and delays. Is the technology that useful in creating efficiency up to this point? It is not likely.

What is the solution? Create a digital currency that is not only just as transparent as the deal itself, but is in fact part of the terms of the deal. If this currency is interchangeable with currencies issued by central banks, the only requirement remaining is to convert the digital currency into a well-known currency like the Canadian dollar or the U.S. dollar which can be done at any time.

The technology being alluded to in the example is the blockchain technology. Trade is the backbone of the economy. A key reason why money exists is for the purpose of trade. Trade constitutes a large percentage of activity, production and taxes for various regions. Any savings in this area that can be applied across the world would be very significant. As an example, look at the idea of free trade. Prior to free trade, countries would import and export with other countries, but they had a tax system that would tax imports to restrict the effect that foreign goods had on the local country. After free trade, these taxes were eliminated and many more goods were produced. Even a small change in trade rules had a large effect on the world’s commerce. The word trade can be broken down into more specific areas like shipping, real estate, import/export and infrastructure and it is more obvious how lucrative the blockchain is if it can save even a small percentage of costs in these areas.

Tips Keeping Your Cash Flow

MISTAKE 1: NOT LINKING YOUR BANK TO XERO

Why?

You could potentially miss when a customer pays, or worse not notice if they don’t pay, and may run into cash issues using old data, rather than real time up to date information.

What to do:

Imagine logging into an app every day which has pulled in the bank transactions from your online banking system. This means you can immediately match payments in and out of your bank to your customer invoices and any payments due to suppliers such as hosting costs, contractors etc. Xero Touch operates on IoS and Android and provides a real time hand held update on your business finances, meaning you can be anywhere in the world and never be in the dark.

MISTAKE 2: NOT BILLING YOUR CUSTOMERS ON TIME

Why?

There is nothing worse than doing the work, getting side-tracked with the next job and forgetting to bill for the first job. This can cause cash flow issues if it extends into more and more jobs, yet too often we find people are literally too busy with the work to action this.

What to do:

1) For one-off projects, when agreeing on the initial fee for the job create a quote on Xero which you can then turn into an invoice at the touch of a button when the work is done; and

2) For retainer jobs or repeat, subscription income create a repeating invoice on Xero which means the invoice gets issued each month until you tell it to stop. As an example, our invoices go out on the 1st of each month while we are sleeping!

MISTAKE 3: NOT SENDING YOUR INVOICES TO THE RIGHT PERSON

Why?

If your customers are small businesses, this won’t be a big issue as the person you agree to do the work for will likely also pay the bills. Imagine, however, that you are dealing with much larger firms, with multiple sites, multiple departments and running bureaucracy crazy processes. If you don’t get the invoice to the right person and department it simply won’t be paid when you need it to be.

What to do:

When the fee is agreed with your contact get details on how the invoice will be paid, specifically finding out if the invoice needs a reference for their system (e.g. a purchase order) and the details of who the invoice should be emailed to (never post An invoice when it can be emailed!). Then email the invoice from Xero to your contact and the payments department and attach all the backup to the invoice when sending.

MISTAKE 4: NOT MAKING IT EASY TO PAY THE INVOICE Why?

Your customers are busy people just the same as you. What would you do if you received an invoice without bank details on it? You would procrastinate unintentionally and say, “I must check up on that” while never doing so as a million other things come in.

What to do:

Xero now allows you to insert a “pay now” link on your invoice. So, when the email is received (see Mistake 3 – never issue an email other than by email), the recipient can see the backup to the invoice and an extremely handy button which allows them to literally pay within a few clicks. Imagine being paid within an hour or so of the invoice going out! We recommend you set-up a PayPal or Stripe account for credit card payments and GoCardless for bank transfers to offer as much choice as possible.

Why Strong Connection Is Important

This construction bond is the title given to a kind of surety bond that has been made to come into use by investors in projects related to construction. This step has mostly been taken to provide a certain kind of protection against a very severe kind of event taking place that can cause a certain kind of hindrance or failure in the completion of the project, the reason behind it being the insolvency of the builders or the inefficiency of the job to meet ends with the specifications of the contract.

Usually you will notice the existence of three kinds of parties in a construction bond, namely they are the party that has a hand behind the building of the project, the eventual owners and then finally you have the surety company that has got the back of the bond.

As for the types, this kind of bond contains three types; let us have a look at the list:

• THE BID BONDS

In situations where as the expected honor and respect for the bid by the principal which in this case might be the contractor is not met, this bid bond comes into the picture where it provides protection to the owner of the project. The obligee held under the existence of this bond in this case is the owner and he absolutely has the rights to sue the surety and the principal if he wills to in order to establish the enforcement of the bond. In case the principal refuses to extend any kind of honor to the concerned bid, then he takes the responsibility of being liable for any kind of additional costs that might surface.

• THE PERFORMANCE BONDS

This performance bond is used to provide a kind of assurance or rather guarantee by the contractor or the principal. This guarantee talks about the completion of the contract in full accordance with its respective terms. IF under any circumstances, the principal is seen to be facing defaults, the owner holds the right of calling upon the surety to ensure that the contract meets its completion. In that case, the surety will have no other choice but to hand over the contract to a new designated contractor.

• THE PAYMENT BONDS

This is the kind you head to when you need all your payments to be guaranteed, the payments that have been lying under the due tag to subcontractors and some other from the mentioned principal. The subcontractors and the suppliers are the ones who qualify as the beneficiaries for the payment bond. This bond proves to be of a tremendous benefit to the owner especially, the reason being that it comes as a substitute to the mechanic’s liens as a non-payment remedy.

How To Making Rules On Your Invoice

Solid terms and conditions for your invoices are extremely important for your small business. If your invoices are complicated to understand or confusing to read, you may do some severe damage to your cash flow. Why? Mainly because if the client can’t understand your invoice they’re not going just pay. Your client wants to be sure that they’re being priced the proper amount of the goods or services that they requested.

1. Start thinking about all potential legal problems and scenarios.

The first thing that you must do before writing down your terms and conditions is to list all the probable legal obstacles or circumstances that could happen.

As an example:

  • What measures will you take if the client does not pay the invoice?
  • What will happen if you’re past due on delivering your services or products or service to the customer?
  • What will you do if the client is dissatisfied with your goods and services?
  • What will happen if the product or service is damaged when being provided by your client’s delivery service?
  • Are there any incentives if your customers pay beforehand?
  • What kind of rate of interest would you like to charge for late payments?
  • What if the customer is interested to renegotiate the contract just after the two parties agree to the terms and conditions?
  • Can your customer request a reimburse? If it does, what scenarios would allow for this?
  • What will happen if the scope of the work becomes wider?
  • If there was a misestimate on a budget or quote, who is going to pay for it?
  • Who is responsible if a product breaks after being bought?
  • What strategy will you undertake it the agreement or contract is terminated?

It might take a little time to think about and formulate this list, but as soon as you have got all of this written down you will be in a position to write future conditions and terms in a flash with the other clients that you will add to your client list. Most importantly, having the most appropriate terms and conditions for your firm will ensure that you are compensated and take care of your business if legal action is ever undertaken.

2. PROVIDE ALL CRUCIAL PARTS OF AN INVOICE.

Featuring the all-important elements of an invoice isn’t going to only speed-up the payment process, it will also answer whatever questions that the client has with regards to the goods or services that you provided for them.

When generating invoices, ensure that that you include:

  • Your logo
  • Invoice number
  • Your contact information
  • Your client’s contact information
  • The due date
  • The products or services you provided and their costs
  • The forms of payment that you accept
  • Early payment invoice discounts or enforce late fees

Before mailing out the invoice, ensure that all the information is right and that it’s being sent to the correct person. Any errors can easily slow-up the payment process and make you appear less professional.

3. CLEARLY EXPLAIN THE PRODUCTS/SERVICES BEING PROVIDED OR SCOPE OR THE PROJECT.

This is certainly the most relevant part of the terms and conditions on your invoice. Why? Because it describes what particularly the client is paying you for.

Like for example, if you are hired to make an internet-site for a client and it’s more than the client has imagined, having a description of the time and expenses it cost you to finish job answers any kind of questions or doubts relating to the final sum of the invoice.

4. SHORTEN YOUR PAYMENT TERMS

This should be {is kind of} obvious, but when you give customers a lot of time to make a payment, the longer it takes for you to get paid, which in turns leads to a slower cash flow.

So if you have a customer 45 days to pay an invoice, for instance, and that customer paid you a couple of weeks late, that means you’ve waited 2 whole months to receive a payment.

A payment term of 30 days or even less is the standard when it comes to invoicing simply because it’s helpful in keeping the cash flowing. Nevertheless, review your industry’s invoice standards and check with the client when their pay cycle runs. These factors can help you establish your payment terms.

5. HIGHLIGHT GUARANTEES AND WARRANTIES

It is not unusual for any business that is selling goods and services too often give guarantees and warranties. It makes them look more legit and reputable and gives the customer assurance. If you do provide a guarantee or warranty, make sure that is clearly outlined in your terms and conditions.

Never forget to address topics like situations where the client/customer loses their guarantee or warranty.

6. PURSUE LATE PAYMENTS.

Generally, there will be times when customers won’t pay invoices by the due date. Instead of being passive, you need to be persistent by tracking down those particular late payments.

Regularly keep track of your customers’ payment due dates and get in contact with them by telephone, e-mail, or mail if they have not paid you by the due date and feature late-fee terms on your invoices, like charging interest on over due payments – which a trusted cloud-based invoicing software will do for you automatically.

In case you can’t get a hold of the late-paying client, or they are not responsive to follow-ups, you may possibly have to send a collection letter, hire a collection agency, or take them to court. Make all of this information crystal clear from the beginning.

7. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.

Be sure that your terms are specifically created for your business. Remember, your business does not have the identical requirements, resources, and clients that other businesses have. Because of this you can’t really just copy and paste the terms and conditions from a commonly used template or another business considering that they probably won’t address your particular needs.

A template is really good for starting and directing you in the right directions, but ultimately you have to write terms and conditions that best match your business and clientele.

8. ALWAYS BE PROFESSIONAL AND POLITE.

Being polite can have a beneficial influence on your business. Simply adding a phrase such as kindly pay your invoice within twenty-one days” or “thank you for your business” can, in fact, increase the number of invoices getting paid by more than 5 percent! This may not sound like much, but this can result in thousands of us dollars per year right into your banking account.
Aside from assisting you get paid faster, being professional and polite can easily make improvements to your brand’s image.

9. MAKE THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS UNCOMPLICATED TO READ.

Keep the language in your conditions and terms simplified and intuitive. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients’ customers and realize that they’re not all familiar with industry terminology and even bookkeeping terms, like for example “net 30.”

Additionally, don’t aim to hide every single thing on just one page by using a small font so that your clients are not able to read the fine print. It will look tricky to your client and will ruin your reputation (regardless if there is nothing tricky on your invoice).

10. WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK FOR HELP.

When all else fails to perform as expected, or you wind up in a sophisticated or specialized situation, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from your mentor, fellow business managers, or your attorney. These are individuals that have experience in writing terms and conditions and are more acquainted with laws and regulations then you are.

Tips To Get Budget Balance

I was surprised when I asked parents to tell me the life skills they wish their kids knew, and there was a resounding request for a few topics:

  • How to open a bank account
  • How to budget & balance accounts
  • How to write checks and pay bills
  • And how to start saving for retirement

It seems some of the things we take for granted are, as a result, missing from what we teach kids.In the last article, we focused on opening a bank account. This article is the second article in the four-part series and will look at how to teach kids to budget and balance their accounts.

Budgeting

It’s not shock that budgeting can be boring and tedious. I’ve personally never been excited to sit down and create my budgets, but it’s something that creates wealth and pays off down the road.

So how do you get kids excited about it? How can you add a little glamour to something so dull and boring? Easy – make it a game with payoffs.

Firstly, it’s important to know how to create a budget, then to adhere to the budget.

Creating a Budget

You may have your own way to create a budget, and that’s fine. In my experience, the easiest way to make a budget is as follows:

On a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle:

  1. Spending BudgetCalculate your average monthly gross income and put that at the top of the page, then multiply it by.80 (for example, if you earned $1,000, you would end up with $800)
  2. Fixed ExpensesWrite down all of your FIXED expense categories (i.e. phone bill, insurance, mortgage etc… ) and put them in one column on the left side of the page
  3. Variable ExpensesNext write in the variable expense categories (i.e. food, gas, leisure, etc… ) and put them in another column on the right side of the page
  4. Fill in all of your expenses
  5. Net Budget after Fixed Expenses – Subtract fixed expenses from your spending budget If it’s a positive number, you don’t need to change anything If it’s zero or a negative number, you should look for expenses that you can cut or lower
  6. Budget variable expenses – Using your Net Budget after fixed expenses, determine what you can spend on variable expenses without overspending each month
  7. Set a budget for each variable expense so you know what you can spend on each category in a given month

Making it FunOK, now that you have a budget outline, it’s time to get the kids excited.

I know what you’re thinking: “My kids will never be excited for this.”

They will if you give them some prizes or payoffs. Here’s how:

First, tell them what a budget is and show them the paper. Next, tell them that you’re going to do a contest (if you have more than one kid, this works even better).

Contest 1: Anticipating Spending

The first contest is to see how close they can budget their money to reach a break-even or $0 over the course of a month. In other words, the goal is to predict your spending as close to the penny as possible.

If you have more than one kid person that gets the closest to break-even without going negative wins a prize. With just one kid, tell them that they get $5 or $10 if they reach break-even, and every penny they are off, you deduct 10ȼ

Contest 2 – Saving After Spending

The second contest is to see how well they can budget their money over the next 30 days. If they can save money, tell them you will give them whatever they save. That means if they save $5, you’ll give them another $5 (just like companies matching a person’s 401K contribution).

If you have more than one kid, tell them whoever is able to save the most will win and get a special prize. You will obviously choose the prize since you know your kids best.

Coming Soon

In the next article, we’ll discuss how to write checks and pay bills. You will also learn how to combine check-writing with these contests to simulate the real world of budgeting for your kids.

How To Writing Checks

I was surprised when I asked parents to tell me the life skills they wish their kids knew, and there was a resounding request for a few topics:

  • How to open a bank account
  • How to budget & balance accounts
  • How to write checks and pay bills
  • And how to start saving for retirement

It seems some of the things we take for granted are, as a result, missing from what we teach kids.In the last article, we focused on budgeting & balancing accounts. We even looked at games and contests you could set up for your kids. This article is the third article in the four-part series and will look at how to teach kids to write checks and pay bills.

Paying Bills

I was a bit surprised when several parents recently reported they had teens that were going to pay a bill by sending cash. I guess the obvious isn’t so obvious.

Paying bills is often done online, so it’s important to teach kids how to protect their identity online and store their login information where it can’t be stolen or accessed.

However, there are still quite a few companies that don’t offer online payments, and the only way to pay their bills is via check in the mail.

All kids should know why you NEVER send cash, and how to write a check specifically for paying a bill. For example: putting your account number and any other required details in the memo.

This brings us to the next topic: writing checks.

Writing Checks

When I was 12 years old, I went to outdoor ed. Oddly enough, part of the experience was that we could only write checks to buy goodies there, and our parents put a certain amount in our accounts so that we would also have to budget and balance our register.

Most of the kids were nervous! They weren’t sure how to fill out a check, and it was a great learning experience. I remember being nervous because we were required to fill out the amount in cursive, and I had trouble fitting it into the space.

These days, many kids never even think about writing checks because there are so many other means of transacting much more common; however, I’ve still found myself in need of checks for bills, paying contractors, and even helping me out of a pinch when I’ve forgotten my wallet.

Additionally, in my previous articles, I’ve expressed the dangers of using and relying on a debit card.

So how do you get your kids to learn how to write checks, and why would they care?

Getting Kids Involved

The best and most interactive way to teach kids to work a checkbook is to come up with a reason for them to write checks.

Here’s how it’s done:

Give your kids an old checkbook, play checkbook, or make your own (complete with a register). Then tell them in order to get certain things around the house, they’ll need to write checks. For example, to use their electronic device, there’s a rental fee that requires them to write you a check.

In addition, you can also give them a budget for the month to help them balance and budget their spending. You should balance a separate register so you can compare at the end of the month for accuracy.

Kids absolutely love this game.

Here are a few things you can charge for:

  1. Using electronic devices
  2. Watching TV (by the hour)
  3. Special snacks or treats
  4. Bicycle rental fee
  5. Getting out of a chore (limited usage)

At the end of the month, if your kids keep a positive balance they get a prize. If you have more than one kid, whoever is the most accurate in balancing their register can also get a prize.A variation is to cut off the privileges if they run out of money. Some think this is harsh, but it does mimic the real world.

Writing checks is simple, and most kids love to learn because they feel more like an adult in the process.

In the next article, we’ll discuss how to start saving for retirement. It could make the difference of over $200,000!

Blockchain In Finance

Let’s say that a new technology is developed that could allow many parties to transact a real estate deal. The parties get together and complete the details about timing, special circumstances and financing. How will these parties know they can trust each other? They would have to verify their agreement with third parties – banks, legal teams, government registration and so on. This brings them back to square one in terms of using the technology to save costs.

In the next stage, the third parties are now invited to join the real estate deal and provide their input while the transaction is being created in real time. This reduces the role of the middleman significantly. If the deal is this transparent, the middleman can even be eliminated in some cases. The lawyers are there to prevent miscommunication and lawsuits. If the terms are disclosed upfront, these risks are greatly reduced. If the financing arrangements are secured upfront, it will be known in advance that the deal will be paid for and the parties will honour their payments. This brings us to the last stage of the example. If the terms of the deal and the arrangements have been completed, how will the deal be paid for? The unit of measure would be a currency issued by a central bank, which means dealing with the banks once again. Should this happen, the banks would not allow these deals to be completed without some sort of due diligence on their end and this would imply costs and delays. Is the technology that useful in creating efficiency up to this point? It is not likely.

What is the solution? Create a digital currency that is not only just as transparent as the deal itself, but is in fact part of the terms of the deal. If this currency is interchangeable with currencies issued by central banks, the only requirement remaining is to convert the digital currency into a well-known currency like the Canadian dollar or the U.S. dollar which can be done at any time.

The technology being alluded to in the example is the blockchain technology. Trade is the backbone of the economy. A key reason why money exists is for the purpose of trade. Trade constitutes a large percentage of activity, production and taxes for various regions. Any savings in this area that can be applied across the world would be very significant. As an example, look at the idea of free trade. Prior to free trade, countries would import and export with other countries, but they had a tax system that would tax imports to restrict the effect that foreign goods had on the local country. After free trade, these taxes were eliminated and many more goods were produced. Even a small change in trade rules had a large effect on the world’s commerce. The word trade can be broken down into more specific areas like shipping, real estate, import/export and infrastructure and it is more obvious how lucrative the blockchain is if it can save even a small percentage of costs in these areas.

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