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The Money Messenger, Issue #004 -- Savings, Budgeting and Summer Teen Jobs
May 15, 2008

Welcome to The Money Messenger!

May is finally here! In our part of the country that hasn't meant warmer weather just yet...but the grass is getting green and the tulips are up! The end of school is just around the corner. What do you have planned for your summer? Trips? A new business? Or just some time at the pool? Whatever your plans may include, ENJOY!

In this issue, you will find:

  • Tips on keeping your savings program on track
  • The benefits of budgeting (yes, really!)
  • An update on summer teen jobs
  • This month's fun money fact
  • And a new feature this newsletter: Ask the Editor! along with your chance to ask a question for next month's issue



Things were going so well...
Whether it is eating healthy, doing homework every night or saving money, it can be easy to get off track. How do you stay on track with a savings program? After all, you (whether you are a kid or a parent) worked hard to get this set up. And you got off to a really good start. But then...life happened.

Life does happen. As with any program - savings or otherwise - that has longer term goals, it can be rough to keep it on track. The key is to have a flexible plan that can be changed without losing sight of the goal you set. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Review your plan and make sure that it still works. Maybe there was an allowance increase or a job came to an end. Either one might mean that things need to be adjusted. Plus, having a little time with your plan can mean that you know better now what you really can save.
  • Remind yourself (or your kids) why you were saving in the first place. Pictures on the fridge or bathroom mirror are great everyday reminders of this. I know it might sound odd - but it does work. There is something about vivid pictures that help the mind focus on the goal better than words on a page.
  • Reward yourself. It is hard for anyone (yes, anyone!) to have only a long-term goal with no rewards in the middle. Here you need to know yourself or your kids. If you need to buy something each week, do it. Make it small but make it part of your plan. Otherwise, you could sabotage yourself down the road - and it could make it even longer to reach your savings goal.

Just don't be afraid to adjust and move on. Most people don't get it right the first time - or even the second. As long as you focus on making progress and improving the plan, you are on the right track! For more information on savings, check out Saving Money.



Budget...Isn't that a four letter word?!
Budgeting seems to be like dieting - it might be something you should do, but no one wants to. It just doesn't seem like fun. In fact, it seems like the opposite of fun. Who wants to do something like that?

A better way to think of budgeting is that it can actually give you freedom.

Huh?

Yep. It can give you freedom. Freedom from not knowing where your money is going or why you don't have enough money to buy that CD you REALLY wanted. Or putting it another way: Money isn't scary until you don't have enough...and then it can be downright frightening. That's where budgeting can help. Even when you don't want to.

The keys to budgeting success? Really, they are the same as many of the skills for other areas:

  • Get started. Just take a shot at it. Start by writing down everything you spend. Period. Don't categorize or classify it. Just write it down.
  • Review what you spend and when. This is just to give you an idea of when and where the money goes. It can be easy to lose track from day to day.
  • Pick two areas and make a budget. It could be exactly the same as what you spent last week or last month. Or maybe you want to spend less on Starbucks so you can buy that CD coming out in a couple of weeks. Don't get too excited and push too hard. The goal here is to ease into it and have some success early.
  • Review, revise and expand. Once you've gotten some experience, you can change and add other areas.

Follow these steps and repeat as needed. Keep it simple! You don't need Quicken or Money - or a computer at all. You can use a small notebook that you carry with you. Or you can go all out. Find what works for you! Check out more spending and budgeting ideas here.



Summer Teen Jobs
Rumor has it that teen jobs are going to be hard to come by this summer. Really?

Whether it is due to the recession or gas prices, there are thoughts that this summer season will be gloomy for job seekers. Add that to more teens looking for jobs and it's downright depressing. Or is it?

Honestly, there is always a way NOT to find work. But, if you really want to work and have the right attitude and approach, teens can find jobs. If you want to make sure that you (or your teen) are the most successful candidate, follow these quick tips:

  • Make a list of potential employers. Don't get stuck on just one perfect option. Be thorough but realistic based on transportation and required work hours.
  • Dress appropriately. Whether filling out an application or going for an interview (which could all happen at the same time), be clean with presentable clothing. What is presentable? No stains, wrinkles or revealing clothes. Employers want to know that you can present yourself to other staffers and customers appropriately. (Even if you are interviewing to be a lifeguard, your swimsuit should be appropriate!)
  • Follow up. A simple phone call or note can make a difference. It keeps your name in front of the interviewer.
  • Be persistent. Whether with one employer or just in your job hunt in general, being persistent can land you the job that others aren't willing to search for.

And while it might seem like this is all common sense, fellow job seekers might not be following it. That's your opportunity! And if you need even more information, get it here.



Fun money fact
How many times does "The United states of America" appear on a new $100 bill?
The answer is twelve (two obvious appearances plus ten times around the oval). Franklinís portrait is framed by an oval consisting of concentric rules, cross-hatching, and white space. Similar, though slightly different, ovals surround the portraits on all US bills. Using a magnifying glass, look at the outermost line of the oval. It turns our not to be a line at all but the repeated words "THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." (Fact courtesy of www.thedigeratilife.com)


Ask the Editor!
In this new feature, readers are submitting their questions. The selected question for this week is: "What jobs can a 15-year-old get in the summer?"

Fourteen and fifteen year olds can feel like they are caught between a rock and a hard place. They want to work...but they feel like they can't get a job until they are 16. What gives?

Sixteen is an easy age for employers. Most state and federal guidelines on working loosen up after age sixteen. It's not that they can't hire people under 16; it's just easier not to. It adds a layer of paperwork for many of them - and that means more stuff to worry about. It can be easier just not to do it. What's a younger teen to do?

Start by looking to smaller employers. Their hours of operating may not conflict with the guidelines at all so that is not a worry. Plus, there is likely a lot less competition for these jobs. Most other kids aren't looking there.

Next, check out employers with other teen employees. Grocery stores and high-volume discount retail stores are good options. They are used to managing reduced work hours as well as other issues (such as family vacations). Most of the time the issue might actually be that you can't get as many hours as you want.

If you just can't find a job working for someone else, consider starting your own business. Whether it's walking dogs, pet sitting, summer tutoring or mowing grass, there are opportunities to provide services to many of your neighbors. And to do it on your schedule.

For more info on summer job ideas, check out more summer job info here. And to get your question considered, contact us here.



Latest on the site
The teen online page has been updated to include some great freebies! These are great resources to anyone considering (or who already has) a website. Check out this month's freebies: Make Your Content Presell! and Make Your Words Sell! - and download your free copy to take with you.

New subscribers to the newsletter (as well as the first ones) get a free downloadable copy of the Top 10 articles we offer. Feel free to forward both this newsletter and the free report to any friends that would like a copy. (If you need a copy, grab it here.)



Coming soon...the next issue of The Money Messenger
Next month's issue will include new articles on:
  • unique summer job ideas
  • teen chore updates
  • more fun money facts,
  • another Ask the Editor, and
  • the latest site updates


Comments or suggestions?
If you have any comments or suggestions for future newsletters, please let me know. I want to be sure that this newsletter meets your needs. Feel free to provide your comments using our contact form.


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