Monday, July 31, 2006

Teaching Personal Finance At School

I came across a piece that says that teachers in Pennsylvania are going to school to learn to teach personal finance. Even at a year, I think this is an excellent approach to take. Even though I still believe that it is ultimately the parents' responsibility, basic personal finance education is still a good thing:

"Many young people today lack the basic knowledge needed to understand the increasingly complex financial marketplace - building credit, understanding interest rates and planning for retirement," said Banking Secretary Bill Schenck. "The average score among high school students in a recent survey on financial literacy was a little over 50 percent. This shows an important need to educate students in personal finance."

Let's hope that this is something that is encouraged in every state in the coming years.

My First Wedding

Mom and dad took me to me to my first wedding this weekend and I got to dress up in a fancy blue dress for the event. Weddings are a lot of fun because there are flower petals on the ground that you can pick-up and play with. Even though this wasn't my event (I think I'll hold off until after college to start considering that), I must say that after the bride, I was the most popular guest there (^_^)

margot at the wedding

margot at the wedding

margot at the wedding

margot at the wedding

Sunday, July 30, 2006


If kids are given the chance and taught, they can go a long way to get their finances in order at an early age. The Reallionaire is one of those examples:

Farrah Gray began contributing to his family's financial support at the age of 6, and he made his first million by the time he was 14. His success made a lot of people change their thinking about where life in the projects of Chicago's South Side could lead.

I especially found his "five person policy" to be a great idea. When looking for help with his projects, when a person said "no" and wouldn't help him, he didn't leave it like that. Instead, he asked the person not willing to help to give him the names of 5 people that might be willing to help. Easy and brilliant.

Parents give their kids all kinds of extra curricular activities. It may be a musical instrument, joining a sports team, clubs like boy scouts or girl scouts, swimming lessons, etc. Why don't they give them money / entrepreneurial lessons too?

(hat tip: Thrifty Ray)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Cost Of College Textbooks

When thinking about college expenses, most of the time I think about tuition and housing costs, but the cost of textbooks is another aspect I need to consider when planning my finances for college. Some facts on the cost of college text books from an article I came across:

A Government Accountability Office report found that in the past two decades, college textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation. In academic year 2003-04, students and their families spent more than $6 billion on new and used textbooks.

According to the GAO, the average estimated cost of books and supplies for a first-time, full-time student in 2003-04 was $898 at four-year public institutions. That amounted to about 26 percent of the cost of tuition and fees.

At two-year public institutions, where low-income students are more likely to pursue a degree program and tuition and fees are lower, the average estimated cost of books and supplies per first-time full-time student was $886, representing almost three-quarters of the cost of tuition and fees, according to the GAO report.

That, folks, is not chump change when you consider that so many students are already heavily borrowing to attend college. It's not unusual for one textbook to cost more than $100.

Since I still have 17 years before I will be attending college, books are likely to be a lot more expensive then. I'll have to keep on top of ways that I can reduce the costs of textbooks. Here are a few from the article:

  • Use free sites such as where students are able to buy and sell used books directly from one another.

  • Consider purchasing textbooks online from used and discount textbook sellers, but remember to calculate shipping into their costs.

  • Before purchasing a textbook, be sure to check the ISBN number to make sure you're purchasing the correct book. Also, makes sure it's the correct edition.

  • Contact the professor to see if an older edition of the textbook is acceptable. Older editions will be a fraction of the cost.

  • Used textbooks are much cheaper than new books - typically 75% less than new college textbooks.

  • Find the which textbooks you need to purchase even before you head back to school. Many college bookstores post the required textbooks online for each course. If you wait until you return, any used textbooks (and their cheaper prices) will be long gone.
  • Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Birthday Savings

    For my first birthday, I got a lot of clothes and other gifts from friends and family. I also got to increase my college savings by an extra $100 as a gift from my uncle. He sat down and told me that he wouldn't be getting me gifts for my birthday, Christmas or other special events, but will always add a little bit to my college fund instead. Since I get a lot of great gifts from everyone else, I think this is a good strategy and will help make sure that the college fund is being looked after.

    I have been catching up on getting all my financial numbers in order. While I'm not quite done yet, I did learn that this site is now generating over $150 a month in income for me. If I can keep that pace for the next 17 years without any other income or interest, that will give me over $30,000 for my college fund. It goes to show how saving over a long period can add up to quite a bit, especially if you begin early.

    $100 for savings

    $100 for savings

    $100 for savings

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Let Me Eat Cake!

    The best part of any birthday party is getting to eat birthday cake! As you can see in the photos below, I had a great time digging into my birthday cake and must say I did a pretty good job of eating it on my own. I had even a better time eating it than keeping track of my finances (don't tell my uncle) so I'm showing this part of the day before going into the financial part of it. Wish you could have been there to eat cake with me (^_^)

    Margot eating cake - 1st birthday party

    Margot eating cake - 1st birthday party

    Margot eating cake - 1st birthday party

    Margot eating cake - 1st birthday party

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Happy Birthday To Me!!

    Happy Birthday to me
    Happy Birthday to me
    Happy Birthday dear Margot
    Happy Birthday to me

    That's right, I've spent my first year on this earth. I'm no longer counting months and now can proudly say I'm a full year old. No more fractions. A full, round number.

    The best is to come this weekend when I'll have my birthday party with all kinds of friends and family. The plan is to have the birthday party in the park with BBQ and lots of cake (mom has been feeding me these organic cheerios with no sugar which I know are good for me, but you can bet I'll be diving into that cake!)I'll be sure to get lots of photos taken to share them with all of you.

    Now to get my first year financial totals in order to share...

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    If You Have The Will...

    Here is a wonderful story I came across that shows that if you want to go to college (or in this case, send your daughter to college) if you have the will and determination, there is a way to achieve it. While I'm planning ahead so that this won't be an issue when it's time for me to go to college (and encourage all of you to do the same), it's another example of how creativity and good old hard work can go a long way to get you where you want to go:

    Her daughter, Shewanda Dawn Russell, a 1991 graduate of Monessen High School, earned a scholarship to attend Spring Garden College in Philadelphia to study architecture, but was devastated when the school closed.

    Her daughter not only lost her scholarship but her credits as well, and Russell says to this day they still don't know what happened.

    A single mother, Cherie Russell welcomed her daughter back home, but contemplated how she could afford to send her to another college.

    So she recruited some friends, Ida Allums, Chris Jordan and Mary Hall, all of Monessen, to help her set up fundraisers. They sold everything "you could imagine" to send her daughter to Tuskegee University...

    It didn't stop there. The inspiration that the effort they put in to making sure her daughter went to college inspired others and it has now been turned into a non profit organization to help others wanting to attend college. It's a wonderful story that shows the possibilities when you are committed.

    It sure shows that putting away a bit of money now isn't near as difficult as many might make it out to be. I am happy that my parents chose my uncle to help out in this area - wouldn't it be nice if every adult would put the same effort toward a child to improve their future?

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    I Love Pasta!

    I like pasta! There is no doubt about that as you can see in this photo. While I do need some more practice in utensil use (I just don't see why everyone can't eat with their hands like me), I think I'll get the hang of it in the coming years. It's a good thing my finances won't be this messy when it's time for college.