Plan Well, Retire Well Saving and investing your money Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 You Can't Take It With You... When You're Gone. Thu, 21 Mar 2019 10:30:00 +0000 After the death of both of my parents, I came to this realization as we were left with all of their stuff! How do we cherish the items our loved ones cared about and left behind for us?

What to do with all the stuff?

One of the best things you, our readers, can do is decide how you'd like your personal items to be distributed after your death. An important step is to make sure items of value should be distributed either in a will, trust or through a transfer document such as a transfer on death or via a beneficiary. But, what about the furniture, electronics, costume jewelry, and the rest of all the stuff? There are different ways to distribute non-titled property, below are just a few examples:

Ways to Distribute Personal Property

  • Give the item to them while you're alive – this is one way you know the item gets to the person you want it to, and you can see them enjoy receiving and taking care of it. On the other end, if the item is expensive, it could take away assets you could need in the future. This is something to consider to make sure you are making the right decision based on your situation.
  • Write it in your will – if you are not ready to part with the item, you can gift it to them in your will. After your death, your executor must find the item and give it to the beneficiary. Your will can be as specific as you would want it to be when naming beneficiaries for personal property.
  • Have individuals put their names on the items they want – I have seen in families where this can work. For example, writing your name on a sticky note and putting it under the item. You may have to come up with a system if two family members want the same item, for instance, the older family member gets it or the youngest. This can happen before death or after.
  • Have an estate sale and have family members purchase the personal property from the estate – this could be one way to limit the amount of fighting, but it may not be financially fair to those family members who don't have a lot of money to purchase the items they want.
  • Draw lots and take turns picking items – Pick a number out of a hat or draw straws and then just take turns going through the personal property.
  • Go by seniority, birth order, grandchildren, marital status, etc. - Pick the one that works best for you and your family, then stick with it. Create rules and boundaries, respect other's wishes, and selections.

Ultimately, you will need to decide what is fair in the context of your family. Our friends over at the University of Minnesota Extension provides some valuable resources on the topic of transferring non-titled property. This is a tough subject for many, but the fact is that you can't take it with you when you're gone, so having a plan helps safeguard against conflicts that could arise in your family.

Three Money Strategies You Can Do with Your Children Thu, 28 Feb 2019 06:09:00 +0000 Youth manage money better as adults if the following happens while they are young:

  1. conversations about money happen regularly,
  2. a savings account is opened in their name, and
  3. they are given opportunities to practice using money and to talk about these experiences.

Adults share the responsibility of helping youth and young adults learn how to manage their finances well. Conversations with adults help young people understand the importance and power of money management.

Talking about money can be tough. We tend to have all kinds of values, mixed messages, emotions and more tied to our money conversations. For some people, the last kind of talk they want to have with family is "the money talk." We tend to avoid the topic. Unfortunately, this means our children may not be as prepared to handle their finances when they're adults.

When Millennial young adults were asked what they wish they had been taught about finances, one of the top themes was more open communication with their parents. In LeBaron and associates' study (2018), Millennials expressed that they wished their parents had facilitated sit-down lessons or family councils to discuss their family finances. As a parent with Millennial adult children, I remember how hard it was to create an opportunity for "sit-down lessons." Yet, the importance of these conversations encourages us to all try – whether they're sitting down, in the car, or while you do a household chore together.

Research indicates that typically parents are the most important influence on a child's socialization, including financial socialization. A big part of this socialization is what our children see us do. Much of our financial tasks are done electronically so there's less to see; another reason for more talking and explaining!

The other two main components of socialization are making rules about children's financial behaviors and engaging in direct conversations about money. The research clearly supports the need for youth to practice financial behaviors like earning, saving, and spending while under an adult's guidance. Youth need the chance to make mistakes, and learn from these experiences.

Youth also need to have a chance to talk with an adult about their decisions – both the good and not-so-good decisions. These opportunities to practice with money and have money conversations lead to positive financial attitudes and behavior when the youth become adults. It's easier to learn from small mistakes while a child rather than make large financial mistakes as an adult.

Researchers Kim and Chatterjee (2013) looked closely at childhood financial socialization and the impact it had on how young adults managed their money. Their research suggested that if a young adult did not have an allowance as a child (or the opportunity to practice with finances), then they were more likely to worry about money. In addition, a young adult who had a savings account as a child was more likely to have assets as a young adult.

Along with more communication, the Millennial young adults in LeBaron's study wished they had been given more financial responsibility. For example, they wished they had a chance to get a job and save for their own purchases. In other words, an opportunity to practice financial behaviors when the risks are small.

Millennial young adults also wished their parents had taught them more practical knowledge such as how to budget, how to file taxes, and how to wisely save and invest money. Clearly, some of these topics are more suitable for young adults than for children. Financial education is a lifelong process, and parents, grandparents and other older friends/family may want to look for opportunities to have conversations about these topics at timely moments.

Money Conversations Starters for Parents & Children, from University of Minnesota , provides some easy ways to start conversations. Try them out. You may find that these questions lead to more in-depth conversations, and make it easier for youth to ask you questions about money too.

Start the money conversation today by sharing your saving goals with a young person in your life. Set your savings pledge at America Saves.

GOOOOAAAALLLLSSSS Wed, 27 Feb 2019 08:00:00 +0000 SoundCloud! Laugh and learn with us as the consumer economics team discusses goals together and how to make them less scary!]]> Make the best out of your tax refund: Tips from Tue, 26 Feb 2019 10:07:00 +0000 In celebration of America Saves Week, February 25-March 2, here are a few tips from to make the most out of your tax refund:

  • It is not extra: most of it is the hard-earned money that you worked throughout the year
    • Come up with a plan for your refund. Decide how this money will help you to establish or maintain financial stability
  • Use your refund to pay down/off credit card debt
    • By getting rid of past debt or high-interest credit card debt, you can focus on your future financial goals
  • Use your refund to invest in your future
    • Plan for retirement: consider contributing to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or 401K. Once established, set up automatic payments from your paycheck
    • Establish a 529 savings plan to save for your child's education

America Saves established America Saves Week as an annual, national campaign for organizations and others to have a hyper-focused lens on promoting healthy financial behaviors. To learn more about #ASW19, please follow on Twitter @AmericaSaves and visit

To sign-up for America Saves Week, Click Here

Join Us Online #ASW19 Mon, 25 Feb 2019 07:46:00 +0000 Come to our party! We're celebrating America Saves Week online on Wednesday, February 27th!

At noon, we kick off with a webinar about Money and Relationships. Register at to be sent login information.

Taking time to talk about how finances can impact your fun is important. Don't let the BEAST money ruin the BEAUTY of your relationship. Whether you're just dating or you've been together for years, conversations about money can be challenging. Learn ways to talk with your partner about spending, saving, traveling, education, debt, and overall money management.

Join experts and your peers for this free webinar series. Empower yourself and grow your finances.#GetSavvy

  • You can join a webinar from any computer with internet access.
  • You'll need working speakers or headphones to listen in.
At 2:00 p.m. (CT) join us for a conversation about Saving for Unexpected Expenses in a joint YouTube Live and TwitterChat. Bring your questions and contribute your answers to others' questions too!
  • Log in to ( for the live video chat and/or
  • Insert #eXASchat into the textbox that pops up so you can tweet easily and view the live Twitter stream
Don't forget to set your savings pledge too this week! Go to America Saves and connect with excellent resources!
Celebrate America Saves Week! #ASW19 Sun, 24 Feb 2019 07:00:00 +0000 This is one of my favorite weeks of the year!  Why? Because it's like a BIG party across the nation celebrating saving money!

America Saves Week takes a simple message -- save money regularly -- and let's us focus on it. The message is simple, but the reality of saving isn't always! This week the Illinois Extension educators behind Plan Well, Retire Well are involved in numerous activities as part of this celebration and we want to tell you about them all!  So, stay tuned for lots of blog posts this week, and some helpful tips along the way too!

To kick off the week, have you ever wondered WHY saving money is a good thing?  This video provides a funny but true perspective.

What's the key to saving? Research shows that automating our saving makes a real difference to net worth growth. Well, that sounds like a lot of jargon -- watch this video, Automated Savings, instead!

Ready to set your savings pledge? Go to America Saves and connect with excellent resources!

By the way, what's your favorite saving strategy? We'd love to hear from you this week!

Getting through Tough Financial Times & Side Gigs! Fri, 22 Feb 2019 11:21:00 +0000 Many people face tough economic times periodically, and some of the challenges they experience are due to unforeseen or unanticipated circumstances. As an educator who teaches personal finance, it is easy to discuss the merits or advantages of saving for the unexpected. In other words, it gives me such pleasure to write about the steps to developing an emergency savings account, as someone who thinks about money and financial management on a day-to-day basis. However, for individuals trying to stay afloat from one month to the next, it may seem like a trivial task to try to save out of the little they have coming in each month. While I encourage everyone to work on building their savings (for specific goals and unexpected events), there are some other strategies to consider as well:

Attend a free or low-cost cooking class or food preparation program. A USDA report suggested that food is one of the top three household expenses. The report also indicated that spending on food (at and away from home) increased in 2017. Learning how to make simple dishes can help reduce the cost of what you spend on food, and meals prepared at home are often healthier than restaurant meals or fast food. I cook simple meals that include grains, celery, carrots, green beans, spinach, and tomatoes. I also make a lot of stews and soups and then I freeze some of what I make, so I don't have to worry about making dinner every day.

Pack lunches.If you work outside your home, packing lunches help save on the cost of food. Include lunch ideas on your grocery lists or pack leftovers. This may also reduce food waste. I know it is tempting when you smell the amazing scents coming from the cafeteria, food carts, or restaurants, but you will feel good about the decision you make to pack a lunch and save that $10-15.

Talk with your creditors or financial institution. If you experience job loss or other situations that affect your monthly income, it is good to take a proactive approach. If you are working or waiting to replace your income source, talk with your lenders about adjustments or possible new repayment agreements. This varies from one lender to the next, but it's better to explore the options available to you rather than avoid looking at the bills.

Side gigs. Do you have skills that fall outside of the purview of your everyday job or talents that wouldn't cause any conflicts of interest with your current employment? Are you interested in a secondary source of income? Technological innovations support accessibility, control, and flexibility of self-employment and side gigs are becoming a fast-growing area of the labor market. Thomas (2018) explained that online platforms allow millions to earn money by driving, selling goods, renting personal space (e.g., rooms and apartments), or running errands. I have friends who have taught health and wellness classes (e.g., yoga), substitute teach/tutor or create arts and crafts to sell at local events or online, in addition to their regular jobs. The growth of this segment of our economy in the U.S. has many implications for workers, so if you are interested in making money this way, find out more about your tax responsibilities since you may be categorized as an independent contractor. See the reference below for more information on taxation and side gigs.

Locate community resources. It is not always easy to ask for help especially when it has to do with money or finances. Agencies engage in non-discriminatory, non-judgmental practices (based on legal and other ethical requirements); they understand and work with clients experiencing temporary financial hardships. If it's a wellness class, housing inquiry, or other financial assistance programs, check with your local libraries or social service agencies. Even if it's to find out more information, you can reach out to your local agencies and build up a list of your financial resources.

This is not an exhaustive list, and I am sure you have strategies that have worked for you. My goal for this article is to highlight a few approaches that are beyond saving for the unexpected.

Follow of Twitter @savefearlessly

Reference: Thomas, K. D. (2018). Taxing the gig economy. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 166(6), 1415-1473.