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The Financial Fairy Tales Blog - Helping Children Learn About Money, Enterprise and The Business of Life The Financial Fairy Tales Blog

House Prices Soar Over 8 Months: Are Brexit Worries Over?

House prices have risen by 3.8% since January 2017, figures from estate agent YOPA show. This is far in excess of original predictions of 1.2%, and the figures – on the face of it at least- make for promising reading.

To put some context around this, after the Brexit vote on the 23rd June 2016 there was substantial volatility in the British economy, particularly in the currency markets, with sterling reaching historic lows against the dollar and the euro.

However, while the mood of the stock markets often reflects business sentiment, and currency makes a difference when it comes to trade, they are not always indicators of what’s going on in the general economy. For that, you need GDP, but even this often has a lag times in its reporting, and will often be for the previous quarter.

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Enter house prices.

House prices are essentially an indicator of consumer confidence, as they reflect how much people have to spend and how much people are willing to spend on the most basic of human needs: shelter. From a financial point of view, a house is the biggest purchase that most people will ever make, so they need to be confident of financial stability and the ability to pay off a mortgage over the long term. Uncertainty regarding job prospects tend to have a downwards effect on house prices, so GDP growth and house prices tend to broadly correlate.

Furthermore, house price data is regularly updated, especially from sources such as Rightmove, Halifax and Nationwide.

So what is this latest property data telling us?

At the beginning of the year, industry experts were, on average, expecting house prices to rise by 1.2% over 12 months. So far this year, that figure has been exceeded and now stands at 3.8%. If this rate continues, by December, house prices will have increased by more than 7%.

So do these house prices reflect a healthy economy unaffected by Brexit?

Part of the problem with calculating the effect of Brexit on the economy is that not much has changed. Although the United Kingdom voted out, we still have the customs union, the single market and everything else that affects our day-to-day lives. In addition, the country is still subject to European law and regulations. Free movement will continue until March 2019 – or perhaps even later. As a result, nobody really knows what’s going to happen.

One thing is for sure though; many people will be keeping a close eye on house prices as we approach March 2019!

Teaching Kids The Money Game

Those of us who didn’t get much financial education before we joined the working world often wish we could go back and do it all over again. But we also remember that financial education was not the most thrilling aspect of our childhood. Even though our parents explained the concept of saving money in order to afford the things we wanted, our eyes glazed over whenever complicated abbreviations and percentages were mentioned, then we just got confused about what it all meant. Financial education is an essential part of adulthood, but it’s not the most engaging topic for some young adults, let alone small children.

There are many tools at hand to help parents teach their children about financial responsibility, especially debt and lending since the next generation is just as likely as the Millennial generation to enter the working world with a huge amount of debt from student loans. Being open about your own finances to set an example, helping them build a budget from their savings, and explaining the difference between good and bad debts are just some of the ways you can teach children about money. However, to make it a little more engaging for young children, you can use games to make finances fun, yet still teach them practical lessons that will serve them well when they reach adulthood. Here are just a few board games that were created specifically to teach children financial responsibility.

Monopoly

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Most parents – and people with siblings – will recognise Monopoly as the game that started off amicably, but would soon descend into chaos and cause family feuds over Christmas or Thanksgiving. The earliest known version of Monopoly, known as The Landlord’s Game, was designed by an American, Elizabeth Magie, and first patented in 1904 but existed as early as 1902. Magie, originally intended The Landlord’s Game to illustrate the economic consequences rent, and the concepts of economic privilege and land value taxation.

When it first appeared in the 1930s, it had been significantly simplified and Monopoly was simply intended to teach children about paying rent, buying property, and how unexpected circumstances could suddenly lead to financial trouble. It even teaches children about some of the real-life options available to them to get out of debt, such as borrowing money from the banker, or mortgaging one of their properties until they next pass Go and collect $200. Monopoly teaches players money management and the impact of financial and investment choices and situations. Most importantly, it teaches children that life is unpredictable and not always fair, but you still have to pay the banker.

The Game Of Life

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For parents looking for a game that can give an accurate representation of life and the effects your decisions have on finances, The Game Of Life is as close as anyone can get. This game teaches children the effect of education and career choices on income, the impact of taxes, the importance of early investing, and even the cost of compound interest and loan payments. It does everything except teach kids about debt consolidation, but more complex explanations can be found at DebtConsolidationUSA.com, or any other financial websites. What sets The Game Of Life apart from Monopoly, is that it stimulates a person’s travels through his or her life, from college to retirement, with jobs, marriage, and possible children along the way.

Unlike Monopoly, which starts everyone off on an even footing, The Game Of Life can show children that even the choices they’ve made in their early years can have long-reaching consequences into adulthood. Therefore, it subtly explains why they’re receiving a financial education even though they won’t have to worry about bills and credit for several more years. As a result, they might be more willing to pay attention the next time you sit down with them to discuss the family budget.

Payday

It’s never too early to teach kids about the excitement and anticipation of payday; even most adults celebrate this day with the enthusiasm of a public holiday. As a board game, Payday is not too different from Monopoly and The Game Of Life. The player with the most money wins, kids learn about paying bills and dealing with unexpected expenses, and surviving the game until you get more money. The difference is that the board is set up like a 31 day calendar, and the players move through the month dealing with the new situations that each day brings. It does capture the sensation of feeling financially secure one week, then having to tighten your belt overnight because of an unexpected bill.

The month is full of financial bonuses, such as winning the lottery, and financial pitfalls, such as extra bills or bad investments. While in Game Of Life the players can almost pinpoint the decisions that led to their financial situation, Payday emphasises the random side of financial responsibility – even when you do everything right, sometimes things happen that can either boost your savings or drain them altogether.

Charge Large

Games like Monopoly, Payday, and The Game Of Life are all useful teaching tools, but their major flaw is that they were introduced back in the 20th century, when finances were a little different for new graduates. Charge Large was designed in 2007 by two young entrepreneurs, and it was released by Hasbro in 2009, making it the most recent financial-themed board game for children. This is one of the few games out there that specifically teaches children about credit cards and the importance of building good credit. The players start out by receiving a gold credit card and must strive to upgrade to  the elusive black credit card. However, the winner must also have no debt and $2,500 in cash, which challenges players to manage credit responsibly while they navigate the board and build wealth.

Not all credit is bad; children will soon learn that they need good credit to qualify for a mortgage, to pay for a car, or just to get a good rate on a loan if they need funds to further their career. But they will also learn that bad credit can leave them in difficult positions. By playing Charge Large, children can learn that responsible credit use builds your credit rating, giving access to higher credit limits, but that racking up credit debt without saving and investing can create a financial disaster. It’s more engaging than looking up a Bankrate.com article about building good credit. The sooner they accept that a credit card is an essential tool for building credit, and to use it wisely, the better their chances for starting their adult lives with a good credit history.

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The Allowance Game

No matter how mature your children are, not all of them are old enough to be thinking about credit cards and decision-making. Their only appeal for playing Monopoly or The Game Of Life is to crush all their opponents and win the most money – they’re probably the cause of most of the feuds. To get them to really think about money as a tangible thing, instead of just a toy in a game, start them off with The Allowance Game. This is a perfect game for younger children, or those with short attention spans. The goal is smaller – only $20 – but it does get kids thinking about the value of $1. It also teaches them about budgeting, and that, although money can buy a lot of things, money eventually runs out. Most importantly, it will make them think about where they want to spend their money; is it better to spend it all in one place, or to save as much as possible?

On a more practical note, The Allowance Game teaches your children the benefits of completing their chores, and the penalties that come with forgetting to complete their assignments. As the kids play, they earn money when they land on spaces that say “mow the lawn” or “walk the dog.” It then teaches responsibility with scenarios such as “I forgot to do my homework,” which causes the player to lose a turn. It even touches slightly on unexpected bills, because they see just how quickly their hard-earned money can go when they’re forced  to spend some of it buying a gift or paying for an overdue library book. Instead of letting them play at being grown-ups, The Allowance Game teaches younger children about money in an environment that relates to them, making the lessons feel more relevant.

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Teaching kids how to handle money doesn’t have to be boring and full of complicated figures. These games are just a few examples of the wide range of educational tools out there that parents can use to simulate real life financial situations. While some games, like Puerto Rico, might feel more like a historical simulation where your children can pretend to be colonists, it still teaches them the basic concepts of setting up a business. Kids learn while they have fun, and money is definitely something they need to learn.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft In Seven Simple Steps

You might find it pretty shocking to hear that around nine million Americans have their identity stolen each year. That is a pretty large number of people, so could you be next? A lot of the time there are things that we could be doing to avoid this. It is not right for someone wandering around pretending to be you; not right at all. So in order to make more of a conscious effort to protect your identity, here are some steps that you can take.

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  • Protect Personal Information
    • In the US, a social security number is what you need to avoid others knowing. Don’t keep it in your wallet or share it with other people. The same goes for things like passports and banking details. Keep them somewhere secure, rather than having them accessible to others. Look to get ID documents that will have your biometrics on, like the Indian e-Aadhar card, for example. Those kinds of ID are much harder to defraud.
  • Change Your Passwords
    • Even if you live alone and don’t share your computer, you should be locking out of sites and programs and changing your passwords regularly. Choose passwords that are more safe, such as random words, rather than meaningful ones like your mother’s maiden name.
  • Clear Your Wallet
    • If you have cards or bank accounts that you simply do not use anymore, then cut up the cards into small pieces and cancel the accounts. Doing this often will help to protect you from identity fraud.
  • Check Bills and Statements Closely
    • Although it can feel like a nuisance to keep receipts and bills, it is so important to check on. If you check your bills and bank statements regularly, and match them to your spending, you can easily identify if people have used your card or found the details online. So check them closely and report any suspicious activity.
  • Use Computer Protection
    • There are many hackers that want to easily steal your information online. And if you don’t have any virus or malware protection software in place, then it can make it really easy for people to steal from you or take your online data. So get the software and regularly check it. It also pays to only use secure sites that have https in the address bar when buying things, rather than just http.
  • Get a Shredder
    • If you get a letter through the mail that isn’t any use or something you don’t need; don’t just throw it in the bin. Shred it. Even from a letter, you don’t need, it will have your name and address clearly printed on it. So shred any documents that you don’t need. Bank statements, payslips, or even insurance letters. If you no longer need them, make sure that you shred them.
  • Use a Free Credit Report Checker
    • Taking advantage of a free credit report is a good way to spot anything untoward. If someone has tried to apply for a credit card in your name, then it would show up on there. So check this regularly and report anything that wasn’t done by you.

Children of Debt: Using Your Financial Struggles as Tools for Teaching

All households can experience tough times, and some more than others. Having less to spend is not all bed new, though, and It’s actually quite common that children of low-income families grow up to be more financially savvy than their peers. If your family is going through a dip in finances at the moment, you can easily take advantage of this to teach them a few valuable lessons – just avoid the pitfalls.

Here is how some families use financial struggles to safeguard their children from similar problems, as well as a few words of warning on what to steer clear of.

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Have constructive money conversations

Talking about money problems with children is on the top of the to-do list. When times are tough, and you keep it to yourself, it tends to cause a bit of confusion. Be open about it and you’re giving your children a chance to understand the situation.

Explain that you need to save money, as a household, and that they can be of big help by simply remembering to use less electricity. These conversations are healthy and constructive; the problems are presented together with a solution, rather than mindless worries.

Some parents take the money-talk too far and burden their children with it. The conversations about money are used to unload themselves of worries, and the parents may even feel a sense of relief afterwards – while the child is left with a sense of being unable to help.

Admit your mistakes

While we should all learn from our own mistakes, your children are in the unique position of being able to learn from your mistakes as well. Take responsibility for the situation you’re in, admit that you haven’t been as on top of your finances as you should have, and avoid blaming it on your circumstances.

However tempting it may be to point out that you’ve gone through a costly divorce or that the economy is tough, save these blame-shifting talks for your friends. When you’re talking to your children about it, it’s all about being the grown-up, and grown-ups take responsibility.

If your child or teenager ever find themselves in the same situation, they won’t spend time on pointing fingers but instead get right to work and sort things out; just like you taught them.

There are so many words of wisdom to be found in financial problems, and you can use the situation to teach them about the importance of budgeting, the code of practice 9, and general saving alternatives. By being stubborn and proud, you’re just letting a fantastic teaching opportunity slip away from you.

Growing up in a family that needs to save money rather than spend it can actually be quite healthy for their future finances. It teaches them to understand the value of money and how important it is to have a backup fund in case something should happen, so keep teaching the right kind of values while picking yourself up.

Guiding Your Child Entrepreneur To Business Success

Some people are just born to be in business, and if you see the entrepreneurial spirit in one of your children, you’ll want to make sure they’re set on the right path to make a success of themselves. While there are plenty of youngsters out there making a name for themselves in the business world, behind every success story are dedicated parents who helped them along the way. Below, we take a look at some of the ways you can aid your child’s quest to run their own company.

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Encourage Their Passions

You’ll be encouraging your child in different ways, depending on how old they are. If they’re too young to really make a mark in the world (say, they’re still in school), then foster their entrepreneurial spirit by encouraging them to pursue their passions. If your business minded child is passionate about pets, then you might help them set up a dog walking/grooming business during the school holidays. If they are old enough to go into business (which is anytime over 16), then help them find what they really love doing, and base their business around that.

Help Them With Finances

A lack of finances is probably the biggest reason more people don’t go into business. If it’s tough for adults, you can bet it’s very difficult for individuals who haven’t yet had the opportunity to get a well-paying job and build up capital. Because they’re just starting out, they won’t need too much money – and that’s where you can come in. If you have the money to spare, give their small business a cash injection. If not, there are a range of loans available to you that you can then use to provide them with a head start. Alternatively, if at an early age you’ve spotted your child will one day be a business owner, you can start putting money into a savings account which they can then use when they’re older.

Teach Them The Rules

Your child might have money on their mind, but they won’t have the life experience that’s necessary to succeed in business. You can help this by talking to your child about all the other factors that go into running a successful company, such as man management skills, organisation, showing patience, and so on.

Invest in their Ideas

There’s only so much that your child will learn in school about business. They’ll have to get the ideas that’ll really make them stand out from other sources. By doing things like buying business books and taking them to talks presented by successful entrepreneurs, you’ll be doing your bit to give them the education that the school system just can’t provide.

Use Your Connections

Finally, use your connections to help your child get experience in the business world. They won’t have any connections of their own, but if you know a friend who has a business, you can set up an internship or part-time job and expose your child to the inner workings of the business world at a young age.