Audrey Hue is our guest blogger today. She teaches personal finance and other financial topics at Bellevue College, and has a passion for making sure people make their financial choices with information backing them up. She will be teaching four sessions for Seattle Public Library patrons, during Money Smart Week, April 5-12. Check the event calendar for times and locations.
I teach a variety of courses about personal finance, and I always say that if you have to pick one, the most important is the one on credit. You may not think that your credit card is a loan, like your car loan or mortgage, but it is! And, credit is not just about loans nowadays. It is about getting that job and paying less for insurance, too–did you realize that there are ways your credit report is used in these days of electronic information sharing that go beyond getting a loan, such as to verify your identity and to set your car insurance rates? That means it’s a good idea to have strategies and goals for paying off your cards, and keeping a good credit score. By taking a class on being smart with credit, and by reading some of the books I’m suggesting, you can develop a wonderful plan to get your finances in order.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you explore the world of credit:
- What raises or lowers my credit score and why should it matter?
- What’s the best way to choose a loan (for a car, home, etc.)?
- What are the steps to take to reduce my debt, and what to pay off first?
- Why is this subject important anyway?
I’m looking forward to answering these questions at The Seattle Public Library during Money Smart Week, and I also want to make some reading suggestions, in case you can’t make the classes or want more information.
The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy by Liz Weston
This is a very readable and practical book regarding financial basics for many income levels. Budgeting, credit, student loans and investing are just some of the subjects. Her other books on credit scores and debt have good information, too.
The Money Class by Suze Orman
This is longer and more detailed than the Weston book, with Orman’s no-nonsense “Get real guys!” attitude to help motivate you. Not only does it have advice on credit and many other timely financial subjects, but it also has advice on money and family dynamics.
Check out books, magazines and websites for teaching your children about money
Indirectly, you can turn almost anything your child is reading into a discussion about money, or the skills and habits needed to manage money. Many money habits are developed by age 7-13. Two great sites are: Financial Fitness parent guides, arranged by child’s age group, and this page with resources for kids from the Federal Bank of St. Louis.