Articles & Tips

What Our Parents Teach Us About Money

Smiling woman stretches a dollarWhen I was growing up, I remember hearing my parents discuss money. It wasn’t usually pleasant: my father loved to find bargains, while my mother’s nickname was “Mrs. Rockefeller” for the way she spent.

Now that I am grown, it is difficult for me to feel neutral about money. I always have the struggle within myself between spending (I can afford anything I really want) and saving (do I really want it bad enough to spend the money).

Our money attitudes are both financial and emotional, and how our parents handled money has a large impact on how we deal with the green. We either embrace our parents attitudes, or we reject them, but either way, we are a product of our parents’ views on money.

Whether you can’t hang onto a dime and find yourself deeply in debt, or save compulsively and agonize over each expenditure, take heart. If you think back to your childhood and give some serious thought as to where your attitudes come from, you can learn to deal logically with money rather than emotionally. 

Once you understand how your parents’ money attitudes impact your money life today, you can begin to separate your own attitudes from your parents’.

But what about your kids? Are you passing your own money dysfunctions on to them? Here are five money attitudes you might be passing on to your children.

Money is Love

Did your parents used money as a way of expressing their love to you, spending rather than expressing their feelings in actions and words? Or perhaps they pinched pennies and also withheld their feelings, so you grew up equating the two. Either way, you may have made a connection between money and love.

Gift giving helps us express our love for family and friends. But when you go overboard, that’s when the problems begin. If you’ve fallen into this trap, your kids may demand financially when they really just crave your affection. Giving them time and attention can go farther toward satisfying their cravings than money ever will.

Try to treat money as a commodity, just as the food in your refrigerator. Some is to be used now, some saved for later. Just because it’s there, it doesn’t have to be consumed at once.

Spending is Irresponsible

Did you grow up in a household where your mom would drive across town to save a quarter? Or where debt was an anathema? If so, the money behavior that was shaped by your parents’ attitudes may be sending a confusing message to your kids in these days of instant everything.

You refuse to spend money, wasting precious time searching for bargains or making things from scratch. Yet your kids know that time is far more valuable in your crowded days than is money. So they are learning that money has some sort of value in and of itself. It doesn’t.

Money is only valuable in terms of what it can buy, today or tomorrow. Save enough to meet your future needs, and begin to spend the rest in ways that give you and your family pleasure and happy memories. Those are investments too.

Money Has No Place in Polite Conversation

“We don’t talk about money – it isn’t nice,” is a message that many people, particularly women, received as they grew up. If that happened in your family, as an adult you may feel squeamish about money. Perhaps you refuse to think about money, and so never ferret out the best investments. Or perhaps you pay full price, or even more, rather than seeking out the best bargains.

Kids need to be educated about money, just as they need an education about everything else. So make money a topic of conversation in your home. Teach your kids the value of money, and how to save and invest. When your kids are pre-teens or teenagers, form a family investment club, together researching and investing in shares of stocks that are kid-friendly, such as McDonald’s and Nike.

Money is Control

You may have grown up in a family where money was in the control of your parents, and the kids were given little say about where it was spend. Or perhaps one of your parents used money to control the other, and you learned that money has value very different from what it can buy.

A friend of mine, who grew up wealthy, hates money. She has impoverished herself as a result, giving her wealth away or spending it at every turn. “I don’t want to be like my father,” she says. “He lorded his money over everyone, and was roundly disliked as a result.” Her reaction is extreme, but it shows how kids can react to what they see in their parents.

Be up front with your kids when you talk about money. If you alternate between spending on them and saying “we can’t afford it,” they’ll get a mixed message they won’t understand. Consider setting aside a set amount of money each month to spend on the kids, and enlist them in figuring out how it should be spent. You’ll be shaping savvy consumers who weigh the cost and benefit of purchases.

Money is a Reward

Don’t use money as a reward for your kids for good behavior or obedience. If you do, they may never grow up, never feeling self- fulfilled, always seeking the person who will reward them with money so they can feel self worth. They will reward or punish themselves by spending or not spending. And that can lead to spending disorders and enormous credit card debt.

It’s not too late to teach your kids that money is neither good nor evil, it just is. Once you have your savings on target, the rest is available to spend, or to save for a pleasurable expenditure down the road. Good money management demands discipline, but it also embraces pleasure. Money is not magical, and money itself should not be a goal. If you save every dime compulsively, your kids may learn to save but might never learn how to enjoy they money they’ve amassed.

As you teach your kids the balance necessary for a healthy relationship with money, you’ll be improving your financial attitude as well.

By Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

At WIFE (Women’s Institute for Financial Education) we welcome your comments. Please feel free to contact us.

Reprinted with permission

How Social Media Are Affecting Social-Profit Organizations

Twitter LogoSocial-profit organizations always operate with small staffs and people who can feel maxed out. Social media opportunities today stretch staff resources to the breaking point and have created three major problems.
Facebook LogoThis excellent article explores three negative consequences and what to do about them.

The 24/7 news cycle creates compassion fatigue.

People feel overloaded with bad news and their ability to relate is exhausted. The fix for social profit groups: share more success stories for positive uplift online.

Internet trolls blast venom and hate across blogs and media.

This causes people to turn off and turn away from social media, which is not what you want to happen to your website or blog. Monitor carefully so you can block, delete, ban, report, and move on.

Constant need to monitor and update causes social media burnout.

Get away from your smartphone or computer. And watch less cable news!
Read the full article here.

Tips for Fundraising Success: 11 Ways to Make the Money Work

Fundraising is essential to success for social-profit groups, and it takes a lot of work to achieve success. Use these 11 tips to increase your bottom line while avoiding frustration in your volunteers.

1) Handling the money

It’s like banking. Split responsibility for money handling between two people who are not related. Always employ check and balances in all financial matters. Avoid temptation by locking up all checks and cash until you take it to the bank.

2) Watch your costs

Scrutinize accounts and eliminate or reduce expenses wherever possible. Controlling your costs boosts your bottom line faster than increasing sales. But remember to budget for celebrating your success.

3) Build relationships with merchant donors

Always make clear the value you are providing in return for them partnering with your group. Give them a sheet that explains your goals and add them to the follow-up call list. If the benefit is clear, they may provide gift certificates, coupons, extra discounts to prizewinners or other creative awards.

4) Be flexible and understanding

Circumstances change for both donors and supporters. Coach your volunteers to flex: If someone won’t buy your fundraising product, ask if they can help with a gift. A struggling merchant may be willing to donate slow-moving merchandise in exchange for a nice program ad.

5) Report and track

Keep your team in the know. Report at regular milestones and be sure to allow enough time for a final push to the top. Summarize helpful benchmarks such as participation levels, average sale size, revenue per participant, etc.

6) Give the workplace a break

Don’t ask parents to pressure co-workers to buy something in their child’s fundraiser. Leave a catalog in a high traffic area so people can sign up. Coach volunteers on “reciprocal fundraising” so they always buy something from those who buy from them.

7) Build your team

Pay attention to your group dynamics to keep everybody pulling together. It’s win/win when all your leaders and volunteers feel like they are working for a common goal.

8) Put orders and checks in a lock box

Have it handy at the start of the drive, and have only two keys. See Item #1 above. This will help keep track of donations, notes and suggestions.

9) Provide sample order forms

Check that all information is complete before putting their payment in the bank bag. Example forms can make clear what info you need.

10) Check-check the checks

Make sure they are made out correctly and signed before you separate them from the order form.

11) Rubber checks

Bummer, but it happens. If you have made a note of the selling source on the back of each check before depositing, you’ll be able to quickly notify the seller and follow-up. Never deliver a large merchandise order before a check clears. And never involve a child in resolving these issues.

Adapted from by Kimberly Reynolds

Sky’s the Limit: Five Ways to Improve Your Negotiating Skills

The Sky is the Limit in Negotiating

 Do you get what you ask for?
Are you a great negotiator?

Many women hate to bargain, but it’s an essential skill in relationships and in the business world.

A brief article in Inc. Magazine cautions about five things we should NOT do when negotiating if we don’t want to give the advantage to the other side.

Watch to see if you recognize someone using these tactics on you the next time you negotiate a deal.

Words and Phrases to Avoid when Negotiating

  1. The word “between”
  2. The words “We’re close”
  3. Don’t ask the other person to “throw out a number”
  4. The words “I’m the decision maker”

Take it personally.

Read the rest here.

Women Make Mistake Trying to Pretend Super-Human Invulnerability

Vulnerability An Inescapable Human Trait – Make it a Strength

happy woman in suitWhen we have worked so hard to achieve credibility and position and influence and power it can feel deeply threatening to reveal our human vulnerabilities. It’s necessary, though, and can actually put us in a much stronger position than trying to pretend we’re never wrong, never uncertain, and never make mistakes.

In her wonderful book Iron Butterflies, our friend Birute Regine discovered the  most successful leaders were not afraid to reveal their vulnerability. In fact, they converted this human characteristic into strengths to help  their companies.
She gives some wonderful examples from politics of women who have tried to pretend they are not vulnerable, with disastrous results.

Vulnerability Management: Required Course for Leaders?

How you deal with vulnerability has a lot to do with defining your character and leadership style. If leaders and managers deny their vulnerability, what does that say about their effectiveness and ability to learn from mistakes?

Read Birute’s Huffington Post here.

Enough With Hating Other Women

Plug InHave you ever noticed how hard women are on other women? They don’t only dis other women in high school or at cocktail parties. Non-feminists hate feminists; some women columnists hate women’s websites.

Forbes’ blogger Meghan Casserly writes:

“It simply doesn’t sit well with me.

“Yes, yes, I get it: it’s a shame that “women’s” content is often packaged in a gag-worthy way. Adorable puns, pink-heavy web design, way too many exclamation points—these do not an intelligent site make. But to say that a site has nothing to offer simply because it’s “for women” is just not true.”

I agree with her. Besides, I may be a hard-driving businessperson, but I’m also a woman interested in women’s things. I’m not a mind-numbed zombie because I love my children, enjoy fixing a nice meal for people I love, laugh and cry at a chick flick and relish a long bath and pedicure.

Don’t put me in  narrow little box…PLEASE!

Read the whole article.

Save Money This Summer By Staying Home

By Candace Bahr, CEA, CDFA and Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

Relax this summerAre your vacations so hectic that you need to get back to work to relax once you return?  Are you still paying off your last vacation while booking your next one?  Here’s a way to abandon the stressful vacation payment treadmill, and relax on the cheap this summer.

Get away without going away

Whenever my husband Skip and I moved to a new city, we were always surprised that people never see the sights in their local area.  We’ve met people living outside of Boston who have never been to Paul Revere’s house and people in Colorado Springs who’ve never visited the Denver Art Museum.

Instead of flying to a distant place and paying for a hotel, why not stay home and visit near-by attractions?  Eat out at restaurants you’ve always wanted to try.  Hike in the nature preserve or ride bikes on the municipal trails.  Take the kids to the water-park on a weekday.

Take time-off to tackle nagging chores

My colleague Tina is on vacation this week; she and her husband plan to work in the yard.  “I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’m looking forward to it,” she says.  “We have several acres, and we’ve been putting off projects that need doing.”  They plan to mix in some fun, too—playing golf one day and going out to dinner a few evenings.  “If we were away, we’d be stressing over all the things that need doing at home.”

Scale back

“Before our baby was born, we wanted one last fabulous vacation,” my cousin Tom told me.  His wife, Amy, loves beaches and hot weather, so they hoped to have a tropical vacation, but everything was too expensive.

Looking online at vacation spots, Tom hit on the idea of Las Vegas.  “It wasn’t a tropical island, but it was the next best thing,” he laughed, “and at half the price!”  Amy enjoyed the pool and palm trees.  They splurged on a show and took advantage of the many restaurants.  “We had never been to Vegas before, so it was a hoot just walking around in all the glitz.  We have fond memories of our ‘tropical’ desert vacation!”

Relax and reflect

Disney World may be on every kid’s list of dream vacations, but does every family vacation need to include packaged thrills?  How about renting a cottage or camping on a lake with friends or relatives?  Banish the TV and electronic games. Take time with your kids and spouse to enjoy nature and each other.  Swim, fish, play board games, look at the stars.  Relax—that’s what vacation is about, after all.

WIFE welcomes your comments. Please feel free to contact us.

Economy Produces New Ex-Middle Class

Fall is one of my very favorite seasons of the year because it makes me feel calm and warm inside. Unfortunately, not everyone is feeling this way.

September produced another 95,000 job losses, meaning more families will have to cut back even further and may find themselves in financial crisis. At a Catholic Charities Board meeting recently I heard a new term: “Ex-Middle Class.” I asked what this meant.

They told me this refers to men and women in our society whose job loss caused them to slip out of a secure “Middle Class” status into the “Lower Class” or even into “Poverty Level.” For people whose employment, education and financial status had enabled them before to feel strong and secure, this is a humiliating fall.

Read More

Women Entrepreneurs Not Waiting Until 2076 For Pay Equity

Pay EquityChallenging economic times do encourage entrepreneurial activity, according to a recent Pepperdine University business report. Bill Gates started Microsoft in a recession; in fact, more than half of the companies on the Fortune 500 list began during a recession.

The current recession is a very male one, with some experts saying men have lost four out of five jobs shed since December 2007. That’s tough on men’s families, and the lucky ones have a wife to keep the family afloat while they regroup. Today, nearly two-thirds of women work outside the home, according to a 2009 Pepperdine University business report.

Women today earn 45 percent of all household income and seven million families rely mainly — or entirely — on a woman’s income. In the United States, women make 80 percent of discretionary purchases, including 90 percent of food and 55 percent of consumer electronic purchases.

Waiting for Pay Equity?

Despite that significant purchasing power, women have not yet achieved equity in earnings. Women working full time earned 80.2 cents for a man’s dollar in 2009, up from 62.3 cents in 1979, according to Census Bureau data. At that rate, women would achieve full pay equity with men in the year 2037. Maddeningly, the pace of increase has actually slowed this decade, which might mean women managers will not achieve full pay equity with men until around June of 2076

The higher a woman rises in management and pay, the wider the pay gap grows, according to a company that tracks self-reported salary data. Women chief executives earn 71 percent of what equally qualified men earn.

Don’t Just Get Mad

Small wonder increasing numbers of women don’t just get mad, they start their own businesses. As of 2009, there were 10 million women-owned firms in the United States; they employ more than 13 million people and generate nearly two trillion dollars in sales, according to a recent Pepperdine University business report.

If you’ve been laid off, pursue further education to help ensure you won’t get hit next time. Maybe you couldn’t afford to quit to go to school before; now, you can’t afford NOT to. Women are investing in themselves, and schools across the country report increased numbers of women pursuing MBAs and undergraduate degrees in accounting and business.

Weather the Storm

Survival will depend on how well you have prepared and how quickly you react to current changes. These tips can help all workingwomen.

  • Consolidate your debt load and consider refinancing if rates and fees are favorable.
  • Curb your consumption and buy only what you really need, focusing on purchases that provide long term returns, not just immediate satisfaction.
  • Invest in yourself. Earn a degree, add new skills and increase your professional network.
  • Take reasonable risks. Carefully weigh the costs and benefits of starting that new business you have been dreaming of, and don’t be afraid to make the leap if you can make the most of current opportunities.

Managing Your Money As An Entrepreneur

Experts say managing your money is especially critical for a new entrepreneur.  These five tips offer essential guidance.

  • Overcome any lack of information and experience by educating yourself about finance.
  • You’ll have lower savings to start than a typical man, and start-up loans are hard to come by in this regulatory environment. Many women turn to family and friends for start-up loans.
  • Don’t take things personally because this will cloud your relationships with money. Cultivate a dispassionate view of your business.
  • Don’t rip yourself off by undervaluing what you do.
  • Scrupulously keep personal and business money streams separate. If you’re not keeping accurate profit and loss information, you can miss valuable tax deductions. You may even get into trouble with the IRS if you are not tracking your complete business expenses.

Use Feminine Skills for Success

We know women are primary breadwinners, chief purchasing agents, and CEOs of their own businesses. I recently spoke with a wonderful woman who says that women are transforming our world by creating environments that are more cooperative, more collaborative, that allow vulnerability and create a sense of mutuality with each other. I’ll talk more about her in another article.

This feminine — and feminist — enterprise model allows for intelligent risk taking and a collaborative approach that considers wider social values in addition to profits. As economies around the world dig out from the recession, watch for the emergence of the new female model of success. Women can lead by example to change the business environment away from excessively risky behavior and spiraling debt. We can choose for ourselves to build the economy we want for ourselves and future generations.

~By Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly

Get The Fitness and Body You Want For Life

Do you feel fit, healthy and strong? If you were asked to take a hike or ride a bike today, are you able and fit enough to do it?  Do you want to stay sexy and strong no matter what your age?  Personally, I am counting on being fit for life. That’s why smart women like us have added strength training to our workouts.

A recent study showed that by age 74, two-thirds of American women can’t lift an object heavier than 10 pounds. That’s a bag of groceries! That sucks, and it doesn’t have to happen to us! We can be unique. Only 21 percent of women partake in strength training at least twice a week. By age 65 it’s only 12 percent.

Fitness is important to me. I am a lifelong exerciser and I do strength training both at home and in the gym. Look at all these options: Read More

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