While 529 plans had their federal tax deduction permanently extended recently, Coverdell Education saving accounts lost some of their appeal. A nice advantage of the Coverdell saving accounts was that the money in the accounts could be used for private elementary, jr high school and high school expenses. Beginning in 2011, however, this will no longer be the case. While the Coverdell saving account funds will still be able to be used for college, they will no longer be able to be used toward pre college education fees and expenses. If you choose to use Coverdell saving funds for the private primary education from 2011, the money will be assessed a 10% withdrawal penalty in addition to any earnings losing their tax-free withdrawal status.
If you are looking for some basic (but free) personal finance materials, Visa is giving away a number of informational items fro free from their Practical Money Skills site:
This little find comes courtesy of the savviest young one you’re likely to meet. With the cost of college textbooks now costing approximately $900 a year, finding ways to save on them is a top priority for a lot of students. A company called Freeload Press has come up with a innovative way to slash the cost of college textbooks down to $0.00. Before you download the textbook, you fill out a short survey and then advertisements within the textbooks pay for the cost. The publishers still get paid and you get your textbook at no cost.
While the current selection of textbooks is limited, they are hoping to rapidly expand in the next year. It seems to me to be a viable way to distribute college textbooks that that will appeal to a lot of students who are paying their way through school and trying to save money where ever they can. it would seem to me that these textbooks could even produce more money for the publishers than merely selling them depending on how they incorporated the ads. certainly a website to keep an eye on and one to pass to any family or friends that have children that will soon be entering college.
For those of you who have not been watching the news lately, Northwest Airlines handed out a booklet to their employees who were going to be laid off including a section called “101 Ways To Save Money” – the airline employees responded by protesting the list as offensive:
“This is disgraceful that somebody at Northwest Airlines would send this out to a long-term employee facing having no job telling them to do certain things that are very degrading,” Robert Roach Jr., general vice president of transportation for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said in an interview.
It seems that people in the forums didn’t find most of the list as degrading, but the way in which the list was given to those being let go was quite inappropriate. You can judge for yourself – the list of 101 saving ideas courtesy of Minnesota Head Hunter
1. Set your thermostat to 64 and turn it down to 60 at night.
2. Use the phone book instead of directory assistance.
3. Use coupons at the grocery store.
5. Ask for generic prescriptions instead of brand name.
6. Do your own nails.
7. Rent out a room or garage.
8. Replace 100 watt bulbs with 60 watt.
9. Make long distance calls at night and on weekends, instead of mid-day, mid-week.
10. Throw pocket change in a jar and take it to the bank when it’s full.
11. Always grocery shop with a list.
12. Buy spare parts for your car at a junkyard.
13. Go to museums on free days.
14. Quit smoking.
15. Get hand-me-down clothes and toys for your kids from family and friends.
16. Meet friends for coffee instead of dinner.
17. Request to get interest on a security deposit for your apartment.
18. Take a shorter shower.
19. Write letters instead of calling.
20. Brown bag your lunch.
21. Make your own baby food.
22. Use public transportation.
23. Drop duplicate medical insurance.
24. Buy old furniture at yard sales and refinish it yourself.
25. Apply for scholarships and financial aid.
26. Exercise for free-walk, jog, bike, or get exercise videos from the library.
27. Form a baby-sitting cooperative with friends and neighbors.
28. Buy your clothes off season.
29. Go to a matinee instead of an evening show.
30. Share housing with a friend or family member.
31. Hang clothes out to dry.
32. Do not use your calling card.
33. Volunteer two hours a month for reduced cost food through the Share Program.
34. Change the oil in your car yourself regularly.
35. Get pre-approval from your medical insurance company before undergoing any procedures or tests.
36. But ‘no frills’ vitamins.
37. Take a date for a walk along the beach or in the woods.
38. Make cards and gifts for friends.
39. Shop in thrift stores.
40. Have your water company do an audit so you are not charged sewage fees for water used in your garden.
41. Refinance your mortgage.
42. Grocery shop on double coupon days.
43. Trade down your car for a less expensive, lower maintenance one.
44. Convert your cash value life insurance to term.
45. Shop around for eyeglasses.
46. Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.
48. Move to a less expensive place to live.
49. Use low flush toilets or water saving devices in the tank.
50. Drop unneeded telephone services like call forwarding or caller ID.
51. Buy fruits and vegetables in season.
52. Avoid using your ATM card at machines that charge a fee.
53. Bicycle to work.
54. Shop around for auto insurance discounts for multiple drivers, seniors, good driving records, etc.
55. Ask your doctor for samples of prescriptions.
56. Borrow a dress for a big night out. or go to a consignment shop.
57. When you buy a home negotiate the sales price and closing costs.
58. Turn the hot water heater down and wrap it with insulation.
59. Never grocery shop hungry.
60. If you qualify, file for Earned Income Credit.
61. Shop around for prescriptions including mail order companies (Medi-Mail 800-331-1458, Action Mail Order Drugs 800-452-1976, and AARP 800-456-2277).
62. If you pay for childcare, make use of the dependent care tax credit or your employer’s dependent care flexible spending account.
63. Buy, sell, and trade clothes at consignment shops.
64. Shop around for the lowest banking fees.
65. Caulk windows and doors.
66. Iron your own shirts.
67. Plan your weekly food menu before shopping.
68. Buy a good used car instead of a new model car.
69. Purchase all of your insurance from the same company to get a discount.
70. Cut your cable television down to basic.
71. Go to an optometrist for routine vision tests or to change an eyeglass prescription.
72. Buy pre-owned toys and children’s books at garage sales.
73. Have potluck dinners with friends and family instead of going out.
74. Use the library for books, video tapes, and music.
75. Inspect clothing carefully before purchasing it.
76. Don’t use your dishwasher dry cycle; open the door and let them air dry all night.
77. At the grocery store, comparison shop by looking at the unit price.
78. Make your own coffee.
79. Use old newspapers for cat litter.
80. Shop at discount clothing stores.
81. Skip annual full mouth x-rays unless there is a problem; the ADA recommends x-rays every 3 years.
82. Water your garden at night or early in the morning.
83. Shop around for long distance rates.
84. Hand wash instead of dry cleaning.
85. Grow your own vegetables and herbs.
86. Shop around for auto financing.
87. Donate time instead of money to religious organizations and charities.
88. If you are leaving a room for more than five minutes, turn off the light.
89. Shop at auctions or pawn shops for jewelry and antiques.
90. Keep your car properly tuned.
91. Request lower interest rates from your creditors.
92. Trade in old books, records, and CDs at book and record exchanges.
93. Pay bills the day they arrive; many credit card companies charge interest based on your average daily balance.
94. Buy software at computer fares.
95. Search the Internet for freebies.
96. Compost to make your own fertilizer.
97.If your car has very little value, you probably only need liability insurance.
98. Cut the kids hair yourself.
99. Increase your insurance deductible.
100. Buy in bulk food warehouses.
101. If your income is low, contact utility companies about reduced rates.
What I found interesting is that although this list has money saving ideas, the ideas are not in context with someone getting laid off. I could certainly come up with a much better one that was geared toward those that were soon to be laid off. The list seems like a haphazardly thrown together bunch created to get to 101 saving ideas rather than to help someone who is facing no job.
While I don’t know what the rest of the packet looked like and what information it provided, talk about carrying over insurance with COBRA and the cost of that, what options are available with 401k plans and the costs of those options, unemployment insurance and other financial topics would seem much more appropriate.
The other thing that bothers me is that the entire episode gives another black eye to saving money which is by far the best investment most people can make. Most people aren’t going to look at what the employees found offensive and link the “saving money” and “degrading” terms together since that is what is being reported in the news. A shame all the way around since those that will be losing their jobs likely do need personal finance advice and to look at ways they can cut their expenses while they are looking for new employment.
I feel strongly that it’s the parents’ responsibility to teach their kids about money and finances because the fact is, they aren’t going to learn it anyplace else. If you have young kids that need practice counting money, there are a number of excellent free online resources available that are both educational and fun to use. Here are some you might want to check out to help your children (and yourself) with counting money (for parents that need help saving money, check out Save Money Games):
Piggybank: A fun interactive game when coins fall from the top of the screen and you must click on them to add them together for a specified amount which is your goal. If you make a mistake, you can remove a chosen coin from your total by clicking on it again. There are 2 levels to the game: Easy (shows the sum of your chosen coins) and Hard (no total is shown so you must remember the total). You win if you can fill the piggy bank.
Change Maker: A nice International money game that can be played with money from the US, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom or Australia. You can also choose between 4 skill levels: Easy (amounts less than $1.00), Medium (amounts less than $5.00), Hard (amounts less than $100.00) and Super Brain (big spenders – purchases over $100.00).
In this game you must figure out the amount of change you would receive in the question. For example, if something costs $3.20 and you pay with a five dollar bill, you would expect back a $1.00 bill, 3 quarters and 1 nickel.
Questions answered correctly get the amount of change added to your piggy bank. Questions answered incorrectly have the correct amount of change subtracted from your piggy bank. As the money grows in your piggy bank, the questions become more difficult.
Money Flash Cards: This is an interactive money game with dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies showing up on the screen. You count the money, input your answer and it will let you know if you are correct or not. You can also do this with interactive worksheet with 10, 20 or 50 problems all laid out on a single screen. The coins and bills are placed in order (not randomly distributed) making it easier for smaller children to count
How Many Cents?: This is an easy interactive game where coins under $1.00 are displayed. You add up the coins and if you answer is correct, you get a new question. If it is incorrect, them you have to try again. The “Index” button at the bottom will bring up a menu of sixteen additional early education games that can be played.
Learn to Count Money: This game lets you pick the difficulty level by the number of coins displayed ( from 3 to 8 ) and the denominations (from pennies through $20.00 bills). Some of the coins are a bit difficult to distinguish apart, but you can hit the hint button if you are having trouble.
Our latest satellite site is now up and is called Reduce College Costs. While I’m not sure if any of you will be able to notice, this one is a bit different from the others we’ve created. I won’t go into the details right now because I’m curious if anyone can guess (if anyone even wants to) what is different, but will explain a bit later.
While this site needs a lot more material added to it, it shouldn’t be too difficult for me to do since I will be writing similar offerings for the other blog I help my niece out with at Financial Baby Steps. The plan is to go through Financial baby Steps this weekend and pick out the material that can also be used on the website to hopefully fill it in a bit more. Then to something new every week to two weeks to keep it updated on a fairly regular basis.
Nate and I had a long talk about where we are and what we want to achieve. From that conversation we have come up with some new ideas we’re going to try out over the next couple of months. While they may not seem radical to most, they are a complete switch in direction from how we first envisioned doing this. It should be a fun experiment to see if it works and I’ll detail it along the way.
We have also caved into the pressure of changing the looks of the satellite sites. We originally had them sparse with little extras to try and make them extremely search engine friendly. Some of you have pointed out that they look too basic and so we will update them with a new design in the coming months. We’re hoping that this change may help to boost traffic and earnings a bit.