When it comes to economics, many teens’ mouths write checks their knowledge can’t cash. Help influence the financial literacy of a teen in your life with these practical money-management tips.
5 Financial Tips for Teens
(Family Features) When it comes to economics, many teens’ mouths write checks their knowledge can’t cash.
While 93% of American teens say they know how the economy works, 29% have had no economic schooling, according to a survey of 1,000 U.S. teens ages 13-18 by Wakefield Research on behalf of Junior Achievement and the Charles Koch Foundation. Even in light of their false confidence, teens are aware of the importance of financial education.
Although the study identified numerous gaps in economic and financial knowledge, it also showed teens do know where to look for credible information. Two-thirds (67%) recognize they should use their school as a resource.
“One of the things we hear often is that some textbooks are written too academically for most students to understand the concepts,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “Our programs, which work as a complement to the school curriculum, are written from the perspective of today’s teens and use digital content to help bring economic concepts to life for students.”
Beyond the classroom, another 63% of students believe they should use their parents as resources for economics education. Help influence the financial literacy of a teen in your life with these practical money-management tips adapted from the curriculum.
Set goals. Managing your money is more meaningful when you’re doing it with purpose. This might mean budgeting to ensure you have enough money to maintain your auto insurance and keep gas in your car, or you may be saving for a big senior trip. Knowing what you want to achieve with your money can help you plan how you spend it more wisely.
Weigh needs vs. wants. When you begin making your own money, it’s easier to indulge your own wishes and spend money on things you don’t necessarily need. To some extent, that’s not a bad thing; rewarding yourself is fine when you do so within reason. That means not exceeding your available funds, and not forsaking things you truly need, like gas money to get to and from a job or school.
Get a debit card. Most people find that having cash on hand makes it easier to spend. If you use a debit card instead, you’re an extra step away from spending so you have a little more time to consider your purchase. Another benefit of a debit card is it helps track your purchases in real time so you can keep constant tabs on your balance and ensure you don’t overdraft your account.
Start a savings habit. Even if your income doesn’t allow for much, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of setting aside a portion of each check. It may only be $10, but over time each $10 deposit can build your account toward a long-range goal.
Protect your privacy. Teens who’ve grown up in the digital age tend to be less skeptical and cautious about privacy matters than their elder counterparts. It’s important that young people understand the potential impact of failing to protect their privacy when it comes to financial matters, including the possibility that their identities could be stolen and all of their money siphoned away. Teaching kids about security is an essential lesson in economics.
Visit ja.org for more tips and information to help raise your teen’s financial literacy.
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(BPT) - When it comes to managing your monthly bills, it doesn’t get much more convenient than auto-pay. Because this option eliminates missed payments and late fees, it’s easy to see why three-quarters of Americans have opted in, with anywhere between one and seven monthly payments, according to recent survey findings.
However, consumers are also discovering that enlisting in auto-pay isn’t without its financial downsides. The following survey findings from TheZebra.com (an insurance comparison site) show how auto-pay can make consumers complacent.
* Nearly a quarter of people (23%) admit to not paying attention to what’s coming out of their bank accounts. If the result is an overdrawn account or a billing error slipping through, that can prove to be a costly mistake.
* One-third (29%) of respondents confess to forgetting to cancel services linked to autopay after they’ve stopped using the services. A couple prime examples of this are a music streaming service subscription or a gym membership.
* Nearly half of consumers indicate that once auto-pay is set up for their car insurance payments, they never get around to re-evaluating their fees. Considering the market value of our cars depreciates every year, this suggests that many consumers are missing an opportunity to get the best coverage at the best price, as car insurance rates can change daily.
* Finally, by not taking time to evaluate costs or cancel unused services, consumers are paying the price. Some 29% of respondents estimate they’re losing $100 annually, but for high-ticket items like a gym membership, the savings could be in the thousands.
Now that you know the high price you may be paying for the convenience of auto-pay, here are some tips to help you stay in control of your finances.
1. Keep track of your statements. Because money is withdrawn from your account each month, it’s easy to lose track of your spending. Otherwise, if a price hike takes effect or if you end up consuming more services than expected, the consequence can be a higher-than-expected bill. If your bank account lacks the funds to cover it, you’ll end up with an overdraft, which can end up costing you more than any late fee! So when auto-pay takes effect, make sure you review the monthly statements. If you see an additional charge or a price hike take effect, follow up immediately.
2. Research rates at least twice a year. While your service provider may offer excellent service at a great rate, it’s always possible there’s a better deal for you somewhere else. Take time to research and compare the going rates for things like internet service and car insurance — you may be pleasantly surprised. To make sure you follow this step, set up six-month reminders on your phone or calendar and commit yourself to following through. If you end up using the service less often than you planned — or not at all — this reminder can give that much-needed nudge to reevaluate.
3. Take time to fully understand your options. As you know, some service agreements, such as gym memberships and mobile phone contracts, can’t be canceled without penalty — at least, not until you’ve reached a specific end date. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this rule applies to all service agreements. For example, did you know you can switch your car insurance anytime without paying a penalty? It’s true! In fact, once you switch, your old insurer will send you a rebate for the balance, even if time remains on your six- or one-month policy. So go ahead and shop around. If you find a car insurance provider that’s more affordable and provides the coverage you need, you can reap the benefits right away. Just remember, if you do decide to switch, don’t cancel the old policy until the new one is officially in place. Otherwise you might get charged a penalty for the gap in coverage.
How to save on a big bill: Car insurance
Looking for a better price on car insurance? TheZebra.com allows you to see how your current policy stacks up to the rest. The Zebra is the only auto insurance comparison site that shows you all your options side by side, and never sells your data. When you shop around with The Zebra, you can rest assured knowing you won’t get any unwanted calls or emails. Visit www.thezebra.com and see how much you could be saving on car insurance.
Regardless of income or wealth, the road to financial health – how you are able to manage your day-to-day financial life while building for the future – can be a lifelong journey. What you do today can build toward or detract from your long-term resilience and ability to pursue opportunities. These questions can serve as a starting point to take inventory of your financial health.
Planning for the Future
Taking inventory of your financial health
(Family Features) Only 28% of Americans are financially healthy, according to the U.S. Financial Health Pulse. Most others will have difficulty reaching long-term financial goals and are more vulnerable to the threat of financial shocks, such as car trouble, unforeseen medical bills or job loss.
Regardless of income or wealth, the road to financial health – how you are able to manage your day-to-day financial life while building for the future – can be a lifelong journey. What you do today can build toward or detract from your long-term resilience and ability to pursue opportunities. Whether you want to take that dream vacation, prepare for retirement or save for college, financial health takes effort to build.
“An overwhelming majority of the country is experiencing financial challenges that have lasting effects on people’s lives, on their ability to weather the inevitable ups and downs and on their chances to pursue their dreams,” said Jennifer Tescher, CEO of the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), the nation’s authority on consumer financial health. “Each year, CFSI and MetLife Foundation join forces on #FinHealthMatters Day to highlight the importance of financial health, especially for the 180 million people who are financially vulnerable.”
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Center for Financial Services Innovation
The open road, independence and the flexibility to work how and when you want. Reasons why trucking is a great job.
(BPT) - To truly understand the impact the trucking industry has on our economy, walk into any business, retail shop or grocery store and take a look around. Nearly everything you see was delivered there by a truck. In fact, according to the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) Freight Transportation Forecast, 70 percent of all freight in the U.S. is handled by trucks. It is awe-inspiring to realize one industry has such an enormous impact on everything we do, purchase and consume in our everyday lives. Quite simply, trucks keep America moving, and without them, America stops.
Imagine going to your favorite grocery store to pick up your family's dinner and seeing the shelves empty, or stopping by the corner hardware store for light bulbs only to find they're not available. If it's not during the aftermath of a weather disaster, we can't readily imagine such a scenario happening in this country. That's because 3.5 million professional drivers are always on the job, working day and night to make the deliveries that keep our economy humming.
But, it's getting more and more difficult for the industry to keep up with demand. There's a severe shortage of professional truck drivers on the road today, and it's expected to get even worse. The ATA estimates that the industry will face a 175,000-driver shortfall by 2026. Ask any professional driver and they'll tell you the same story: They get headhunting emails and calls from recruiters every day, and their own companies are so short-staffed they need to put in extra shifts just to cover all of the routes.
That's why the ATA is partnering with Pilot Flying J, the largest network of travel centers in North America, to raise awareness of the profession, recruit new drivers, and celebrate the tremendous contributions of professional drivers to our nation's economy.
It's ironic that there's a shortage in this profession, because those same drivers who remain committed to the industry and to keeping our economy moving will tell you how much they love the job.
"My father was a driver and as far back as I can remember, truck driving is all I've ever wanted to do," says Steve Brand, a professional driver who has spent 27 years with FedEx Freight. Brand is a member of the ATA America's Road Team, a national public outreach program of professional truck drivers who share superior driving skills and safety records. "Trucks move America forward and it's a great feeling knowing I have a small part in that."
Other benefits of being a driver?
* Independence. When you're in a big rig, nobody is looking over your shoulder telling you how to do your job. It's like being your own boss.
* Freedom. If an office job isn't for you, trucking is a perfect choice. You're out on the open road, and not tied to a desk.
* Flexibility. There isn't just one kind of driving. Want to see the country driving from coast to coast? You can do that. Want to come home to your family every night? You can do that, too, and myriad options in between.
* Pay. ATA’s recent Driver Compensation Study found that the average salary for a truck driver ranges from $53,000 to $86,000 depending on the type of employer and type of equipment operated.
Coupled with not having the crushing student debt that college graduates are carrying around, it makes for a very good living.
Opportunities. Since the industry is hurting for drivers, it's a job seeker's market out there. Recent grads from driving schools are in high demand, and can pick and choose the job that's right for them.
Brand counsels potential recruits to choose a reputable school for proper training and then seek out a top-rated company, or find a company that has its own school.
"I go to bed happy and wake up happy knowing I'm making a difference," he says.
Pilot Flying J is making a difference, too. As part of its partnership with the ATA, Pilot Flying J recently announced a $60,000 philanthropic gift to the ATA's Trucking Cares Foundation to help support professional drivers and the future of the industry.
“Hardworking professional drivers make many sacrifices to keep our economy moving and our ways of life possible,” said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J. “As we face a growing driver shortage, our hope is that this contribution will help support the Trucking Cares Foundation’s mission to improve the safety, security and sustainability of the trucking industry and contribute to the future growth of the industry through education and training.”
To learn more about becoming a professional driver, visit the ATA at www.trucking.org.
(BPT) - With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 having been signed into law, here are some of the things you should be thinking about as tax season approaches, according to Robert Fishbein, vice president and corporate counsel, Prudential Financial Inc.
2017 tax returns
The new tax law is generally effective starting in 2018, which means that your 2017 income tax return is largely unaffected. However, there may be actions you can take now to benefit from the change. For example, assuming you are eligible, you could fund a traditional IRA before the due date of your tax return; the income exclusion may be more valuable under higher 2017 tax rates.
Lower tax rates and new withholding
The hallmark of the new tax law is lower marginal tax rates for individuals. The IRS has issued withholding tables employers started using in February to reflect these lower rates. While this could mean lower tax withholding and more take-home pay, you should evaluate your personal income tax position to determine if you will pay more or less under the new law and adjust your withholding accordingly.
If you make estimated tax payments, you should also estimate your tax liability under the new tax law and make necessary adjustments to your quarterly tax payments.
Assuming your withholding or estimated tax payments need no adjustment may create an unpleasant surprise if you are under-withheld and owe penalty tax and interest when you file your 2018 income tax return.
Higher standard deduction
The new higher standard deduction of $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples will greatly reduce the number of taxpayers that itemize deductions. If you did not itemize in 2016, and your tax position is similar now, you will probably not itemize in 2017. The increased standard deduction, combined with lower marginal rates, may mean your tax liability will go down.
If you itemized in 2016, compare your total itemized amount to the new standard deduction. If less, and assuming a similar tax position in 2017, you will likely no longer need to itemize.
For many, this provision will turn out to be the greatest simplification aspect of the new tax law, since they no longer must track itemized deductions or complete multiple associated forms.
No personal exemptions
Some taxpayers will need to look more closely to determine if they will pay less or even more. The new law eliminates personal exemptions and reduces deductible items, such as limiting the total deduction for state and local income taxes to $10,000, reducing the amount of deductible mortgage interest and eliminating the deduction for interest paid on a home equity line of credit. Therefore, if you itemized deductions in 2017 and your deductions were greater than the applicable standard deduction, you will have to consider what deductions are available in 2018 and estimate your tax liability.
In states with higher income taxes and property taxes, it is possible that the loss of itemized deductions will be greater than the benefit of lower rates and your tax liability could increase.
Increased child and dependent credits
The new law increases the child tax credit for children under 17 to $2,000. The income limits to phase out the credit are also significantly increased so more taxpayers will be eligible. In addition, there is a $500 credit for other qualifying dependents. Depending on your tax bracket, this could be better or worse than getting an exemption for each dependent.
Increased AMT exemption
Adding one more layer of complexity to your 2018 planning is the new tax law’s modification of the Alternative Minimum Tax or AMT. The AMT is a parallel tax system that requires you to calculate your income tax under the normal rules and then again under AMT rules, paying the higher of the two. The new tax law increases the AMT exemption, or the amount you can earn and not be subject to this alternative tax. If you have been subject to AMT in the past, you should review the new increased exemption and whether that will change.
The bottom line
The bottom line for most is whether they will pay more or less income tax in 2018 than in 2017. While it is likely many will pay less, you need to consider all the above before you know how you will be impacted by the new tax law.
Please consult your legal or tax advisor concerning your particular circumstances. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, Newark NJ and its affiliates.
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