Article submitted by Sarah Stubee
A month ago I was standing in front of a group of students at West Linn High School talking about Budgeting. I had finished the volunteer orientation a month before, read through the materials and reviewed the power point. However, I was still pretty nervous to say the least! It has been a rather long time since I was in high school, so I was not sure what to expect from the students. What I found out is that teaching a Financial Beginnings course is one of the most rewarding activities I have done in quite some time!
Being in the financial industry and having made my own budgeting mistakes as a youngster, this was a topic I felt passionate about. I wish someone had showed me how to make a budget when I was this age instead of learning the hard way. As I shared my own experiences and those of folks I have come in contact with throughout my career, the kids got more and more engaged and excited.
When I asked them for examples of types of income and expenditures, they were ready with lots of creative but applicable answers. I found the power point easy to follow as well. The material really teaches itself and allowed me to relax and enjoy engaging with the students.
Once we had finished the basic lesson, I had the kids break up into groups and analyze the budget of a character in a story and then make recommendations of how this character could better manage his finances. Again they had lots of great suggestions and were completely engaged and excited. I think they sensed that this was something they could really use in their lives going forward.
I wrapped up the class with some thoughts on my own career, as the kids were interested in what my job entailed. I thanked them for being my “guinea pigs” as well as their teacher who was extremely accommodating and helpful.
As I drove back to my office, I felt excited and a sense of accomplishment. I get it now… this is really important! A lot of kids will not hear these lessons at home, and yet this is some of the most important information that will affect them the rest of their lives. I am now looking forward to teaching my second and third classes as a local Junior High in just a couple of weeks!
While watching TV over the weekend I noticed that almost every commercial had to do with some special Memorial Day sale. A few of these advertisements caught my attention, especially the ones about zero percent financing. One of the commercials was for a furniture store advertising zero percent interest on any purchases for the holiday weekend. Another commercial was an ad for cars, also offering a zero percent interest for a limited time on their brand of cars. I have utilized the zero percent interest financing options in the past, specifically with credit cards. When I first started getting credit cards my Mom educated me about the zero percent financing options. She told me it was ok to take these options, but that I must pay them off before the interest rate increases or pay an interest charge.
One of my first experiences was buying a computer from Best Buy. I took their store credit card, which offered a six month 0% APR. I went home and did the math (probably should have done it in the store) and divided the total purchase by six months. Then I took that amount and paid it every month, so at then end of six months it was paid off. There have been a few times over the years, where it sure would have been nice to only make the minimum payment, but I always remember my mom’s advice about zero percent APR rates and and follow it to this day.
I recently took on a teaching position at Portland State University teaching what else, but Personal Finance. This new position brings a bit of additional cash into my budget.
When my husband and I purchased our house two years ago we wished that we could have afforded a 15 year mortgage, but it was something we could not work into our budget. We ended up getting a 30 year fixed at 5%. A rate I would have never believed when I bought my first home 13 years ago at a rate of 8.5%.
Since purchasing our home rates have continued to drop and now with the recent influx of cash to our budget we are revisiting our mortgage. We want to see if we can afford to get into a 15 year mortgage.
Our payments do go up by about $450 per month, which can be covered by the teaching income. But the amount of interest paid on the life of the loan is significant with a savings of about $200,000.
I feel confident that rates are not going to get any lower than they are now, so I think we have to proceed as soon as possible and lock this in!
Over the weekend my friend got married and I was privileged to be one of her bridesmaids. The weather was perfect and my friend was an absolutely beautiful bride. I had such a wonderful time and was so honored to be a part of my friends wedding that I never really stopped to think about the cost associated with being a bridesmaid. There were some ways that I managed to save some money, like buying my shoes on clearance and then getting a $5 discount by opening a rewards card. We also got $15 off our bridesmaid dresses because my friend, the bride, purchased her bridal dress at the same store. I am glad one of the bridesmaids asked about a discount when we picked out the dresses, because I don’t think we would have offered us one if we didn’t ask. Even with the discounts and trying to stay within a budget, it still cost me around $500. However, I would absolutely spend the money again to be a part of my friend’s special day!