Summer Reading List for Personal Finances

Summer Reading List for Personal FinancesSince it’s summer and reading lists are at the top of your mind, now’s the perfect time to expand your knowledge of money management and wealth building. So, whether you’re a retiree, a beginning saver, or even a child, we’ve got a book for you.

The Classics

If you haven’t had a chance to dive into these titles, you might want to grab them, starting with The Millionaire Next Door. Authors Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko published this in 1996 and learned something critical: most millionaires were those who don’t blatantly flash their wealth but live below their means and save, save, save. Other great books like The Psychology of Money and Same As Ever, both by Morgan Housel, explore how human emotions trigger spending decisions that aren’t always the best for us. (Not surprising, right?) Finally, The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham advocates a “disciplined approach to investing.” He’s someone who you might want to listen to – he was a mentor to Warren Buffet.

New Books

For those who want to align their personal values with their financial decisions, The Social Justice Investor by Andrea Longton is a good read. Her thesis is simple: she reminds us that no matter how big or small, every investment impacts humanity. Another new book by an author who has a big presence on social media, Kyla Scanlon, is In This Economy? How Money and Markets Really Work. Using the model of short, bite-sized clips made famous by TikTok, she presents macroeconomic concepts like interest rates in digestible chunks. Even if you’re not into the socials, you can glean important fiduciary principles in a short time – especially if you have a busy life.

For Young Folks

Check out this powerful title, Stop Acting Rich…and Start Living like a Real Millionaire, also by Thomas J. Stanley. In a nutshell, this is a cautionary tale that details the pitfalls of overspending on a house or other major purchases while also emphasizing that just because you look rich doesn’t mean you are. Another great pick is Financially Stupid People are Everywhere – Don’t Be One of Them by Jason Kelly. This narrative shines the spotlight on dangers that parents might not discuss with their kids, such as consumer debt and large mortgages. It shares how “not to be a sucker.”

For Students and Kiddos

This is a long one: Debt Free U – How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships or Mooching Off My Parents by Zac Bissonnette. According to the reviews, the story is motivating and inspiring for high school students and does an excellent job of paying off the title. For younger children, there is Lily Learns About Wants and Needs by Lisa Bullard, who reads it weekly to her kids. In her story, she focuses on gratitude and succeeds in explaining that “budgeting” isn’t negative but a necessity for success. From the sounds of this narrative, other age groups might benefit from it, as well.

These are just a few books you can pack into your suitcase or beach bag this summer. If you don’t finish them, you can take them with you for the rest of the year. Learning how to be smart about your finances never goes out of season.


Personal-Finance Books to Put on Your Summer Reading List (

6 Financial Tips for New Dads

6 Financial Tips for New DadsThere are probably few things as exciting and daunting as becoming a new dad, especially when it comes to finances. But we’ve got you! Here are a few tips to help you turn those challenges into opportunities as you walk this new life path.

Create a Budget

This is probably super obvious, but here’s a way to break it down into sections so you’ll have a roadmap.

  • Look at current finances. This includes income, checking, and savings.
  • Plan for new expenses. Make an exhaustive list of everything you can think of that your baby might need.
  • Prioritize and cut. Identify these areas, then make hard decisions about where you need to change things for your new reality.
  • Launch into the changes. Keep tabs on how you’re doing as your life evolves and adjust as you deem necessary.

Review Your Insurance

First thing, add your baby to your health insurance plan so you’ll be covered for doctor visits, vaccinations, and anything else that comes along. Next up, update your life insurance plan – you’ll likely need to increase your coverage. It’s not just about you anymore. It’s about making sure your family’s financial future is secure. If you don’t have a life insurance policy, it’s time to get one.

Start a Savings Account for Your Child

Opening an account for your baby will help ensure a solid financial future. Look for accounts with good interest rates so you can build a nest egg over time. But wait, there’s more – college! Mind-boggling, yes, but necessary. A 529 plan is a great option because it’s designed specifically for future education and comes with tax advantages. Don’t put this on the back burner!

Set Up an Emergency Fund

Life happens. Unexpected things can pop up at any given moment. A car repair. Your HVAC breaks down. A trip to the ER in the middle of the night. Start small. Set aside a few dollars each month. This way, you won’t have to dip into your savings or use a credit card. Not that this is unwise, of course, but having some non-APR padding in your life provides the peace of mind you’ll undoubtedly need during this amazing, uncertain period of your life.

Plan Your Parental Leave

Make sure you understand all the details about your company’s policies. When you have digested it all, make sure your budget includes resources for your time away. If you’re an entrepreneur, add this to your overall budget. Yes, you’ll have to cut back on spending, but your child’s first few days and months? You can’t put a price on that.

Consult a Professional

If you feel you need extra assistance charting these unknown waters, bring in the pros. Your accountant is a great person to start with. Just talking things out with a human face-to-face might give you the comfort you need to put one foot in front of the other.

Navigating parenthood, specifically as a dad, is one of life’s most important jobs. Make sure you have all the right tools with you as you begin this awesome journey.


6 Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

6 Ways to Use Your Tax RefundGosh, it feels great to get that tax refund. Dreams of a much-needed vacation or a splurge on something you’ve been craving might be running through your mind. However, as unexciting as this sounds, you might want to spend this chunk of change on things that really matter. Here’s a list of smart uses for your tax refund that you’ll be glad you acted upon.

Build an Emergency Fund

Let’s face it. We depend on our machines to make life easier. However, these metal contraptions can (and will) break down. When this happens and you have money socked away, you won’t have to shell out a big part of your household budget to get them fixed or replaced. You’ll be prepared. Plus, saving money for something like this could also be a way to avoid stress. According to the American Psychological Association, 77 percent of Americans aged 35-44 say that money (or the lack of) is their main source of stress. The best way to save for the unexpected is to have a part of every paycheck auto drafted into a savings account – tuck those dollars away while you relax.

Pay Off Debt

Yes, at first blush, this doesn’t seem like a lot of fun. That said, carrying around debt and paying high interest rates can be a heavy burden to bear. Imagine how relieved you’ll be when you either pay off all your debt or a good portion of it. No longer will you be a slave to those monthly payments. And here’s a plus: Paying off your debt will improve your credit score. You ready?

Make a Down Payment on a New Car

Or, if you want to buy a good used one, buy it! But back to the new vehicles. When you get a new car, you not only get a new warranty and reliability, but also new technology and safety features. And word on the street is it that dealerships are starting to offer lower interest rates and great pricing incentives. Put your pedal to the metal on this one.

Pay Down Student Loans

Whether you’re a parent or child, this is a great use for a tax refund. Alleviating debt, no matter the source, is always a good thing. Now, you might hesitate given that President Biden recently canceled debt for a lot of students. However, this doesn’t apply to everyone, as some students have private loans and others don’t qualify. Another part of the upside of whittling away student debt is that there’s no penalty for paying more often and/or making extra payments. The sooner you get rid of this obligation, the more freedom you’ll experience.

Make Home Repairs

If you’ve been putting off getting a new water heater or replacing doors, now’s the time. Why? You may be eligible for tax credits for upgrading your home with “green” improvements. While not all renovations qualify, the ones that do include energy-efficient HVAC systems, windows, additional insulation, and modifying doorways for wheelchairs and walkers. That’s planning ahead!

Invest Your Money

If you’re not risk averse, the stock market is a good short-term option. However, if you’re more conservative, IRAs, CDs, and Treasury Bills are your best bet. The yield on the two aforementioned, T-bills and CDs, are higher than they’ve been in years, with many at 5 percent. Making money on your money is always a good idea.

What you decide to do with your tax refund is personal, depending on where you are in your life. There’s nothing wrong with splurging. However, in these uncertain times, putting it to good use could come in handy in the long run.



April is Financial Literacy Month: How Much Do You Know?

Financial LiteracyWhat started as Youth Financial Literacy Day some years ago is now a monthlong event: Financial Literacy Month. It all started in 2003 when some U.S. legislators got together and decided that we needed more days dedicated to this topic. So, what does that mean for us? Plenty. It’s one month out of the entire year you can dedicate to getting your financial ducks in a row by engaging in fiscally savvy activities, absorbing all the knowledge, and then sharing your learnings with family, friends, and the world.

Prepare the Kids

Unless you went to a school (K-12) that included business/money classes, chances are you didn’t learn basic finance until you were older.That’s why starting kids early in their understanding of how to make deposits, withdrawals and balance their checkbooks is key. Here’s a resource for downloadable PDFs that you can use to help kids understand the basics of banking. You can even read a children’s book on personal finance to your grands or nieces and nephews, something like The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money.

Both of these resources give kiddos a strong foundation for digesting more complex financial products, like Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) and cryptocurrency. (You can save those for when they’re older.) When children master everyday money tasks, they’re better equipped to navigate life when they leave the nest.

Subscribe to a Blog or Podcast

You can choose personal finances, investing, or whatever you like. Educating yourself about how to make the best use of your money will pay off – and we’re not talking about just cash. You’ll also discover a variety of strategic directions about how to handle future financial issues. A few blogs to check out are Think Save Retire and The Penny Hoarder. Here are a few more. In terms of podcasts, check out Millennial Investing and Ditch the Suits. After you’ve digested some helpful nuggets, share them with your family and friends.

Learn More with Jumpstart Coalition

Jumpstart Coalition is a non-profit organization out of Washington, D.C., that houses a world of info about all things money – a curated database of financial education resources. From tax tips to credit unions, it’s a one-stop shop. Just spend a little time looking around, and you’ll finish smarter than when you started.

Attend Your State’s Financial Literacy Events

While this varies from state to state, be on the lookout in April for an announcement signed by your governor or your state representative. Typically, these are held in your capitol and are free. For example, the Idaho Financial Literacy Coalition holds a piggy bank beauty contest for elementary kids. All you have to do is search (Google, Bing, your choice!) “[State] April literacy month events,” and a list will come up. After you’ve attended, you might even think of creating a seminar of your own.

Go Over Your Monthly Budget

So, after you’ve filled your noggin with all your new money knowledge, you might want to review your finances for the month to see where you can tweak. Money is a fluid situation, as you well know, and applying new tricks and tips can help exponentially.

At the end of the day, and of course, the month, taking time to dive into improving your financial literacy – and spreading the news­ – is well worth it. When you’re fiscally fit, everything else in life seems to fall into place.

Financial Literacy Month 2024: Financial Literacy Activities to Start With | EVERFI

April is National Financial Literacy Month (

March Financial To-Do List

March Financial To-Do ListReady or not, spring is right around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to get in fiscal shape for the rest of the year. However, tax preparation isn’t the only thing to put on your list. Here are a few other must-dos to keep you financially fit.

Purge Your Papers

After you finish your taxes, shred papers you don’t need, like credit card or ATM receipts. Then organize the papers you need to keep, such as car titles, loan paperwork, retirement statements, etc. Store them in a fireproof safe or password-protected file. You’ll also want to deactivate accounts (and apps) you no longer use. When you do this and rid yourself of that extra paper, as well as eliminate related files on your computer, it helps minimize the risk of your personal data being stolen should you or any institutions you’re registered with get hacked. Now, all of these tasks assume you’ve already filed with Uncle Sam and aren’t filing an extension. If you are filing an extension, that’s the next task on your list.

File a Tax Extension

And you’ll probably want to do so with E-File. But know this: an extension of time to file your return does not grant you any extension of time to pay your taxes. You should estimate and pay any owed taxes by your regular deadline to help avoid possible penalties. Finally, you must file your extension request no later than the regular due date of your return. For more info, check out this helpful page.

Evaluate College Aid Offers

If you have a high school senior, March is the time that they learn whether or not they’ve been accepted to colleges. It’s also the prime time to figure out how much money you’ll need for their education. If your child has been lucky enough to have received a financial aid letter, you’ll want to sit down and calculate how much cash you’ll need to supply or borrow. Generally, the universities include info in their letters about federal loans that you qualify for, so you can start that process. However, if you don’t like the offer that’s been extended, you can appeal it. Some schools may increase their offer.

Consider Buying Flood Insurance

April showers are just up ahead, but there are other forces of nature to contend with in spring: hurricanes, mudslides, and melting snow from freak freezes out of nowhere. All of these weather events breed water – and in some cases, too much of it. Check your homeowner’s insurance first to see if these acts of God are covered. If floods aren’t included, then flood insurance is something to look into. Even if you don’t live in a high-risk area, according to the National Flood Insurance Program, 20 percent of claims come from low- to moderate-risk areas. While annual premiums can run around $700 to 800 a year if you live in a low- to moderate-risk area, this could be less. Usually, there’s a 30-day waiting period before the policy kicks in, so it makes sense to buy it before you really need it.

Score on Deep Discounts

Now that winter is a distant memory, retailers are getting rid of cold weather inventory in March. Think winter coats, cozy clothing, and space heaters, for starters. Replacement windows and air purifiers are also priced low. And to get in the mood for spring cleaning, you may find vacuum cleaners on sale. Look for price cuts on (or around) St. Patrick’s Day, too. If you want to find more deals, you don’t need the luck of the Irish – just Google “March markdowns” and dive in.

Getting organized in March sets a great precedent for the rest of the year. Don’t miss this opportunity to get your financial house in order for the coming months.