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GOOD FINANCIAL habits start early. The very best last well into old age. For those somewhere in the middle and still trying to figure it all out, there’s help. No matter what stage of life, a person can always take steps to improve his or her finances, says Julie Jason, president of the Jackson, Grant Investment Advisors, Stamford, Conn. Here are tips on what family members need to think about and plan for at all stages of life, from childhood to retirement.

How to think smarter and plan better in money matters at all stages of life, from tots to retirees



If little ones start to learn the basics of money management as they grow, perhaps they can avoid the debt and exuberant spending habits that plague many adults. It’s important to teach children that every dollar they receive is not a dollar they can spend, says Manisha Thakor, personal finance expert for women and author of “Get Financially Naked,” (Adams Media, 2009). Kids should learn to divide allowances into three buckets: one for savings, one for charity and one for spending. Thakor recommends parents help children allocate 10 percent for savings, 10 percent for charity and 80 percent for spending.

As kids approach their teenage years, they can start to grasp the truth in the old adage “money doesn’t grow on trees.”Thakor tells teens to think about how many hours they would have to work to earn enough to buy an item they want.This way, they begin to understand how much labor really goes into an iPod or Xbox purchase. Encourage a teen to find a part-time job, and share your views on money matters and what you’ve learned about saving and spending.

tip Help kids learn to save: Fiddle with the online allowance calculator at to come up with a weekly sum that’s reasonable, based on the age of the child and the parent’s own experience.

tip Required reading: Jean Chatzky, award-winning financial journalist, wrote “Not Your Parents’ Money Book: Making, Saving and Spending Your Own Money,” (Simon & Schuster, 2010) to help start teens on a path to financial success.


The average collegeage credit card holder carries a balance of more than $3,000, according to Sallie Mae. Fortunately for frisky, young credit users, credit card reform measures that started rolling out in 2010 make it more difficult to overload on credit and debt, requiring anyone under age 21 to show proof of income or get parents to co-sign in order to get a credit card. College students shouldn’t avoid credit cards completely, however.A student should get one credit card in his or her name; monitor his credit record at the three major agencies; and pay off the bill every month. Used responsibly, a credit card can help young adults build a strong credit profile.


A new couple’s main financial goal should be to build a solid foundation that includes an emergency fund to cover three to six months of living expenses,Thakor says. However, this should happen only after each partner pays down any debts they may have accumulated before marriage.Thakor urges newlyweds to conduct financial check-ins on all assets at least semiannually. Couples should save 20 percent of their income,Thakor says.

tip Investment smarts: If your employer offers a tax sheltered savings plan, such as a 401(k), sign up and contribute all you can. Your taxes will be lower, your company may kick in more, and automatic deductions make it easy. >> CONTINUED ON PAGE 22

Estate Planning 2011  
Estate Planning 2011  

Estate Planning 2011