Financial Skills – How to Budget & Balance Accounts

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:

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)
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
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
Fill in all of your expenses
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
Budget variable expenses – Using your Net Budget after fixed expenses, determine what you can spend on variable expenses without overspending each month
Set a budget for each variable expense so you know what you can spend on each category in a given month
Making it Fun
OK, 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.

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Financial Skills – Opening a 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:

Which bank?
Checking or savings account?
Are there fees or minimum balances?
Should I get a Debit Card too?
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:

Location
Number of branches
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.

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Common Surety Bonds You Ought To Know

A surety bond can be defined as contract between three parties guaranteeing that a job will be completed in accordance to the contract terms. The three are the project owner who is the obligee, contractor who is the principal and the surety who ensures the task at hand is completed as per the agreement terms. Surety bonds are more financial related and even though they are very common in the construction industry, they come in different types touching on different areas of agreement. Below are some of the most common that can make a difference for businesses.

1. Contract – They are the ones contractor need especially when bidding on large projects. They go to show that the organization has the capacity and financial ability necessary to manage and complete the projects at hand. It is not always that the bonds are required for contractors but they may be required to present them when bidding on government projects, big projects or when requested by customers to do so. Bonded contractors have better chances of nailing large projects. They include bid bond, performance bind and payment bond which together cover the entire project as appropriate.

2. Business – They differ from place to place and ensure businesses are responsible in fulfilling duties promised or offered to clients and also to the government through payment of bills and taxes. Different business categories need the bonds to show that their operations are trustworthy and financially responsible.

3. Court – In the legal industry, surety bonds also come into place. The most common are those that individuals with court cases require to ensure defendants show up in court or to ensure payment as directed. In some other legal instances, legal clients may need bonds to perform different functions line becoming estate executors. The most common are appeal bonds, estate bonds, injunction binds and guardian bonds.

4. Permit and license – They basically go to show that business owners and workers will abide by local regulations set for the field they are involved in. For instance plumbers need to abide by plumbing codes and regulations within their localities and a license bond works as assurance that they will perform their duties as expected.

5. Commercial – These include different kinds of bonds that are not under construction and court surety bonds. The most common include business service bonds, lease deposit bonds and commercial contract bonds among others.

They do come with lots of benefits depending on the field they are designed for. Bonded companies often gain a good reputation and are more likely to be trusted with projects compared to companies that are not bonded. If you are a contractor you must of course choose a surety bond provider that you can trust so the terms you abide by are easy for you to keep up with. The above are the most common but there are so many other types of surety bonds coming up with every passing day.

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Brief Discussion on the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

With the introduction of computers and the internet, companies prefer to do sales and marketing in a non-traditional way. Instead of relying on door-to-door sales and marketing, modern businesses prefer to maintain corporate portals where they highlight the products or services meant for marketing and sales. Modern business houses prefer digital marketing to sell products or services as this method of sales and marketing is considered effective yet less laborious. This blog highlights the fundamentals of digital marketing. It also discusses SEO and its role in web marketing.

Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is also known as search engine optimization and it is very important as far as web marketing is concerned. Companies hire the expertise of professional web marketers to sell their products and services. The expert digital marketer uses their skills, strategies to market, and sells products or services. The professionals in the field of digital marketing use SEO to enhance the visibility of client resources like websites, webpages. More visibility of client online resources implies that the business seeking SEO services attracts more web traffic, hence there exist greater chances of lead generation, conversion of leads to sales. If a business manages to convert leads to sales then it implies that it generates business profits.

Benefits of SEO

Following are the benefits of using SEO as part of web-marketing:-

SEO helps a business to enhance its ranking in the various search engine research pages
It helps to attract more and more quality online traffic
It helps to generate leads
Convert leads to sales
SEO contributes to business profitability
Search engine optimization also contributes to branding

Types of SEO

SEO or search engine optimization is of two types and they are as follows:-

On-Page SEO
Off-Page SEO

What is On-Page SEO?

At first, it is important to say that when web marketers do SEO then they deal with client websites or other web resources. On-page SEO is the type of SEO that is done on the website of the client. It deals with keyword research and analysis. In On-page SEO, digital marketing experts require to have skills in writing and posting content for the client website. Such contents include the Title, meta description, body of the content. On-page SEO is associated with using keywords in the website contents. The expert search engine optimizer should make sure that the keywords are well-researched, they are not that competitive but have high online search values. Moreover, the keywords that need to be used in the content should be relevant. For keywords it is important to mention that there are broadly two types of keywords 1) Short-tail keywords 2) Long-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords are more competitive than long-tail keywords and hence the chances of converting leads to sales are low with short-tail keywords. It is always advised to use long-tail keywords in website content while doing on-page SEO. Besides, on-page digital marketing also involves search engine indexing so that a website or a link has higher visibility in the search engine results pages.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO also deals with search engine optimization activities that are outside a website. Off-page search engine optimization deals with link-building. Proper link-building of a website can enhance the DA (Domain Authority), PA (Page Authority), PR (Page Rank) of the website. It implies greater exposure of the client business, more lead-generations, and conversions. For more information on Off-page web marketing visit relevant websites available online.

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Understanding The Significance of Content Writing in SEO

SEO or search engine optimization is very important for the growth of a business. Web marketers or SEO specialists who are responsible for doing the search engine optimization of client websites require adopting SEO strategies to enhance the visibility of the website in the various search engine results pages. The website visibility depends on how well the SEO expert conducts on-page as well as off-page optimization of the client website. In the context of on-page or off-page search engine optimization, it is important to understand that the emphasis is always on the website contents. It is important that the content for on-page as well as off-page search engine optimization is well written with proper distribution of keywords, anchor text. The objective is to attract more and more web traffic to a business. From this angle the significance of content writing and content writers is high when it comes to search engine optimization.

Tips on Writing SEO Contents

This blog discusses how you should write content while doing on-page or off-page SEO activities.

On-Page Content Writing

if you are focussing on on-page activities then you know that you have to write high-quality content for your website pages. The objective is to attract more and more traffic to your business. Understand that greater traffic implies higher lead-generation and subsequently greater conversion of leads to sales. While writing on-page content like the content for a website’s about-us page, you require to be very specific about your business, you require to highlight your business objective. While writing the content you can use anchor text as and where required. The links that you use need to be relevant. There should not be an overuse of keywords. The keyword distribution should not exceed 1%-3% in the entire content. If you follow these rules then you discover that your website content is presentable and attracts more and more online traffic.

Off-page Content Writing

Off-page search engine optimization means link building. Link building in SEO is very important as it helps to enhance the page rank of a website, it helps to enhance the DA or domain authority value, the PA or page authority value of a website. During the process of link building, the web marketers require to post content along with relevant links in a number of blog sites, article sites, forum sites, question answers site, press release sites. To create the content the web marketers require the participation of content writers. To do off-page content writing the web marketers require to follow some rules. They require to write content on the topic, include keywords that are relevant to the topic. The content writers require to use anchor texts linking relevant websites or web resources. In this context, it is relevant to add that the content writers can do keyword research to find out the keywords to be used for the content, or else the list of keywords will be furnished by the client. There should not be an overuse of the keywords. The entire content should have a keyword density in the range of 1% to 3% only.

This blog highlights the fact that content writing is immensely important for both on-page as well as off-page SEO. Therefore, the next time you wish to do SEO of your client’s website then be sure to hire the quality services of a professional content writer.

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Strengthening and Enforcing Our Profession

In order to be an effective project manager (PM), we should look at our definition of project management. Definitions surprisingly vary greatly by organization and individual. We should be careful about calling something project management that really is not. Doing so often confuses the profession. Call it what it is. If a position is more administrative, add this label. If a position is more holistic with overall responsibility and leadership for the success of the project, I’d be more inclined to call it project management. Well defined roles are not only essential for the organization and individual, but for the profession at large.

If someone is used to providing project leadership and overall project responsibility under a PM title, certain expectations are set. If the next opportunity doesn’t provide the same opportunities and expectations both the organization and individual may experience issues. Likewise if someone is in a lower level position where they simply schedule meetings and follow-up on action items, this individual may develop an inappropriate perception of project management. Remember, a true PM is responsible for all aspects of the project, including management of scope, time, cost, quality, procurement, human resources, communication, risk management, stakeholder management, and integration. I’d even take this list a step further and involve the PM in scope discussions during business development. It’s never too early to involve the person responsible for high stakes efforts.

Other pet peeves of mine are a lack of analysis and a lack of communication skills. Project management isn’t about producing reports or documents, but managing to ensure project success. Project data is necessary to ensure success, but without analysis and interpretation it is strictly administrative data. I’m also often amazed at the lack of communication in project management. Strong PMs spend eighty to ninety percent of their time communicating. This doesn’t mean just forwarding emails, but providing impact analysis and recommendations. And my final pet peeve (for this posting!) centers on improperly handling situations by escalating all items or informing all parties of all developments. This goes along with communication. Determine your stakeholders and how you will interact with those stakeholders. It may be easier to copy everyone involved, but it’s not about what is easy.

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Ways to Create a Powerful Website Design

For businesses to grow and be successful they need a website since this is among the most effective tools to realize their goal. This is also the way to draw potential customers to the products and/or services they offer. In addition, this has a wider reach compared to other marketing methods without their high startup costs. Businesses can consider the following tips to create a powerful web design.

Take Advantage of Visual Hierarchy

The term visual hierarchy refers to the arrangement of website elements like the color, font size, white space and position to put emphasis on the primary point for every page. In order to complement a call to action (CTA), it is important to direct the eyes of visitors to something they want done by means of these visual factors.

To highlight their landing page’s central theme, they can do the following:

Make the font size larger.
Place the text at the top part of the window.
Choose a contrasting color since this stands out from the rest of the page.
Include a captivating graphic or video making use of the latest innovative web design trends.
Use white space so it will stick out from other text.

Use Minimalism

Businesses should use and integrate the above mentioned elements on the website but they have to keep in mind that this should be done in moderation. If this is overdone, this will cause cluttering, which will make customers confused or even worse, discouraged.

Also, they should not let visitors complete many tasks. They should minimize form fields as well as menu items and only focus on one CTA that has one goal per page.

According to a Google study, users do not like visual complexity. There are ways to simplify a site such as:

Eliminate the Sidebar – rather than have readers click on information on the sidebar, the process can be made easier by taking away this element and just create a very long page. In this way, they will be able to scroll through the content and scan everything, raising the possibility that the message of the brand will be conveyed.

Go for Familiar Layouts – while they may think that an unusual site design will set their domain apart from the rest of the competition, visitors are actually attracted to simple layouts with easy to understand icons and effects. Also, using a regular web structure can improve navigation on their site.

Prioritize Readability

Businesses should consider readability to make it easy for users to recognize and comprehend the text on their site. Prioritizing this factor will make sure that users will not have a difficult time in scanning their site and will remember the information they want to be retained. They should use the most ideal typeface, font size and contrasting colors for their brand.

Conclusion

Websites are important since these provide prospects with information on the business, which includes the office address, email address and phone numbers.

In addition, websites enable businesses to build and establish credibility in their niche of choice by being a source they can trust and rely on. The best SEO strategies and relevant content will help establish their authority in their industry making use of their domain and most especially, a powerful website.

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Data Science And The Advantages It Offers

Data Science has turned out to be a progressive technological field that everybody seems to talk about these days. In fact, it is considered the ‘most appealing job of the 21st century’. Let’s find out more about it.

Data Science is a buzzword and not a lot of people understand it. While many human beings desire to emerge as data scientists, it is indispensable to check out the advantages of this field. Let’s check out some of the advantages.

1. It’s in high Demand

Data Science is in high demand. Prospective job seekers have several opportunities to avail of. It is the quickest developing field of job on LinkedIn and is envisioned to create 11.5 million jobs by the end of 2026. This makes Data Science a pretty employable job sector.

2. Abundance of Positions:

There are very few human beings who have the required skill-set to become a good data scientist. Therefore, this field of job is less saturated than other IT sectors. Therefore, this offers a lot of opportunities. The subject is high in demand but there are not many professionals out there who can meet the demand.

3. A Highly Paid Career option

Science has created a lot of highly paid jobs. According to Glassdoor, Data Scientists make more than of $116,100 per year. This makes data science one of the best moneymaking professions out there.

4. Versatile

There are several purposes of data science. For instance, It is extensively used in health-care, banking, consultancy services, and e-commerce industries. So, this field is a very versatile. Therefore, you will have the chance to work in a number of fields.

5. Data analysis

Data analysis companies require experts to analyze their data. They not only analyze the data but also enhance the quality of it. Therefore, this offers a lot of benefits for companies that are looking for an ideal way of getting their data analyzed.

6. Data Scientists are Highly Prestigious

Data Scientists allow different types of groups to make smarter business decisions. Companies rely on these professionals and use their understanding to grant much better services for their clients. So, these people play one of the most important roles in the company.

7. No More Boring Tasks

This has helped a number of industries to automate different types of redundant tasks. Companies make use of historic information in order to train machines to perform repetitive tasks. This has simplified a lot of hard jobs undertaken by real people before.

8. Data Science Makes Products Smarter

This field involves the use of Machine Learning that has enabled industries to create higher quality merchandise that are customized for each consumer.

For example, Recommendation Systems use on e-commerce web sites provide customized insights into the likes and dislikes of customers primarily based on their historic purchases. This has enabled computer systems to apprehend human-behavior and make data-driven decisions.

9. It can Save Lives

The Healthcare sector has been substantially uplifted due to of the advent of data science. With the introduction of computer learning, it has been made much easier to become aware of early-stage tumors. Also, many different health-care industries use these systems in order to assist their clients.

10. Data Science Can Make You A Better Person

This will not just provide you with a good profession but will also help you develop your personality. You will be able to enjoy a problem-solving attitude. Since many of these roles bridge IT and Management together, you will be capable to get the most of both the worlds.

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