Archive for the ‘In The News’ Category

“How We Saved $10,000 in Just One Year” featuring Wealth Watchers

Monday, April 16th, 2012

The conversation took place while we were driving to the mountains for a short ski trip over the kids’ February break two years ago. A part of me knew it was coming — knew it, and dreaded it. For the holidays, my husband, Gordon, and I had surprised our 14-year-old with a fancy (read: expensive) mountain bike and our 12-year old with a long-coveted video game system — plus the usual hoodies, books, iTunes gift cards, and stocking stuffers. We were both struggling with our annual post-indulgence hangover, only this time the feeling was more acute. Although Gordon and I, both self-employed, still had work, it was a leaner-than-normal year, and we were living paycheck to irregular paycheck. We had four years to save for college, 20 or so years to add to our meager retirement accounts. So I wasn’t surprised when Gordon glanced at me glumly and said, “We have to stop spending so much money.”

Our money conversations usually fall somewhere on the spectrum between awkward and acrimonious, which is why we discuss finances about as often as we hash over his prostate health. But that day I knew Gordon’s comment wasn’t an accusation; it was an attempt to reach an amicable accord. “Yeah, you’re right; we’ve been a little out of control lately,” I agreed.

Over the previous five years or so, I had racked up a lot of debt—five figures’ worth—a somewhat stunning amount that had advanced stealthily, like dry rot, while I was distracted with other things: deadlines, the kids’ homework and sports, keeping up with the laundry. I still have no idea where I spent it all. Daily chai lattes at Starbucks? Plane tickets for our annual summer vacation? Clothes? Gifts? Groceries? It’s impossible to identify one culprit. I simply frittered it away, as my mom would say. And I suspected Gordon was similarly saddled with debt.

I wasn’t sure, because we’d always kept our money completely separate, on the theory that our erratic incomes and inherent disorganization would doom any attempt at joint banking. Besides, I’d never wanted him scrutinizing my spending habits any more than he wanted me poking around in his. We’d each taken charge of certain bills — he paid the big stuff, like the mortgage and property taxes, while I handled most of the other monthly expenses, including the majority of the groceries — and we bailed each other out if one of us ran short on cash.

Our arrangement had helped us avoid big money battles, but with no spousal oversight, we’d both been guilty of spending too much and saving too little. “Maybe we should each make a budget,” I said tentatively, a part of me secretly hoping he’d say no.

He looked at me with surprise, like I’d just suggested we pull off to the side of the road for a quickie. “Really? You’d do that?”

“Sure; I guess,” I said.

He already looked more cheerful. “Let’s do it when we get home.”

Even then, our determination might have faded — we’d made big promises before about sitting down and hammering out a budget — had it not been for a curious bit of serendipity. When we got home from our trip, there was a copy of a book in our mailbox, sent by my editor at Good Housekeeping. Called Wealth Watchers: A Simple Program to Help You Spend Less and Save More, it applies the principles of Weight Watchers to finances. The premise is simple: Set a daily spending goal, just like you’d set a daily calorie goal, by determining how much cash you actually have available to spend every day; track your daily spending; and watch the debt (like the pounds) melt away and the savings pile up. Alice Wood, the book’s author, says she and her husband spent $12,000 less the first year they followed the program than they had the year before. I couldn’t imagine cutting even a tenth of that, but I was willing to try.

Still, we dragged our feet before starting, blaming the usual culprits: work, stress, our over-packed schedules. Finally, at the end of April, we resolved to put ourselves on a financial diet. We broke the news to the boys over dinner one night.

Will, the older and more emotionally savvy of the two, said it sounded like a good idea, while Griffin moaned, “Awwwwww, nooooo! Why? We won’t ever be able to do anything!” We assured him that we intended to trim the budget, not machete it — that we just wanted the whole family to become more aware of the difference between wants and needs. Will rolled his eyes, recognizing this new material as part of our ongoing series of Responsible-Behavior Speeches, but Griff brightened. “OK,” he said. “I need to go see Iron Man 2 this weekend.” Clearly, this wasn’t going to be easy.

I called Wood to see what she advised to help us stay the course. She suggested we ask another family to try the program, too — the theory being that behavior change is easier if you have other people offering support and encouragement. There’s the Weight Watchers influence again. We enlisted the help of our friends Susan and Charlie, who’d lost their longtime, lucrative jobs — she was in commercial real estate, he was a menswear designer — within two weeks of each other 10 months before and had only piecemeal work since then. Because they didn’t have any debt aside from their mortgage and had wisely set aside a solid year’s worth of living expenses, they’d been able to stay afloat without making drastic changes like raiding their retirement accounts or selling their home. They’d already cut out most discretionary spending — yard maintenance, expensive haircuts, clothes shopping, gifts. But with no real job prospects on the horizon and two kids around the same ages as ours, we knew they were motivated to pinch pennies — and would be inspiring role models for Gordon and me. Still, I wondered: After 17 years of haphazard spending, could we really trim our budget and get our finances under control?

To read more, please visit http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/budget/we-saved-10-grand-wealth-watchers.

MSN featuring the Good Housekeeping story about Wealth Watchers

Monday, April 16th, 2012

The Wealth Watchers plan requires you to write down every single thing you spend every single day. Will wants $5 for lunch? I dig through my purse, find the notebook included with the book, and write it down. I’ve spent $9.74 for a new razor, or $3.26 for a latte? Down it goes in the notebook. It’s a massive pain in the butt, because it’s yet another chore in my already demand-filled day, but Susan, who can always be counted on to see the bright side, points out the big plus.

“It forces you to have a ‘think-before-you spend moment,'” she says, quoting Wood. “When I realize I’m going to be held accountable for what I buy, it’s easier for me to say no to things I don’t need.” I see what she means, and yet already I’ve succumbed to the siren song of unnecessary stuff. I know enough to stay away from Nordstrom and Anthropologie when I’m trying to save money, but one afternoon I stroll into my favorite consignment store — used equals cheap, right? — where I find racks of trendy summer shirts. I already own enough shirts to clothe a small village, but I pull a few out and try them on anyway. They all fit perfectly. Together they come to $72, not much below my daily spending allowance. With regret, I start to put them back. Then the saleswoman says, “Did I mention that today only, all shirts are 15 percent off?” My credit card is out of my wallet and on the counter before I can think, What would Wealth Watchers say? The total, including our 9 percent sales tax, is $66.70. “What a great deal!” the saleswoman chirps.

But when I log the purchase in my notebook, I can hear my own lecturing-the-kids voice ask, Now, Ginny, tell me: Was that a want or a need?

What I need — far more than another top — is help getting my several-hundred-dollars-a-month clothing habit under control, so I call Sally Palaian, Ph.D., a psychologist and money coach in Detroit. When I describe my dizzyingly fast splurge, she says, “There are certain words, like ‘sale,’ that can trigger spending. You need to build in a buffer period — time to think about every purchase before you buy it. Next time you want something, wait a day, or call a friend and run it by her. Another thing that’s helpful is to tape a note to your credit card that says, ‘Do I really need this?'” The note strategy works well, I find, when it comes to sweet treats. When I ask myself, Do you really need a coffee drink or a cupcake — expensive and caloric? the answer is always no. But clothing is harder for me to resist. Susan, who’s put herself on a strict no-shopping regimen, has been having old clothes altered so they seem new and is particularly happy with an old below-the-knee-length skirt that’s now more of a mini. “But I miss getting new things,” she admits.

Wood suggests I try to treat my closet more like a store. “When you want to buy something, go home and look through your closet first to see what you already have that’s similar,” she says. “It’s amazing how often the thing you want is almost the same as something you already have.”

I think guiltily of the 40 pairs of jeans that are spilling out of my closet and realize she has a point. Clearly I need all the help I can get, so I also decide to try a wacky strategy I heard a friend mention not long ago: I put my credit cards in the freezer — a symbolic move that will, hopefully, put a chill on my shopping.

To read more, please visit http://yourmoney.msn.com/saving-money-tips/33121423/3.

Exemplary Employers – McDonald’s

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation (PFEEF)

McDonald’s USA, LLC, the leading foodservice provider in the United States has launched several new programs to promote financial literacy and retirement planning among their employees. In 2008, McDonald’s partnered with Visa, Inc., the world’s largest retail electronic payments network, to launch the country’s largest employer-based financial literacy program. The “McDonald’s Practical Money Skills” program is being made available to more than 500,000 restaurant-level employees throughout the majority of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants. This program is designed to empower employees with free, comprehensive money management tools and is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to provide a wide-range of benefits to its employees. This program is especially beneficial to its employees during these turbulent financial times.

The materials disseminated to McDonald’s employees are based on Visa’s popular “Practical Money Skills for Life” financial education program. As part of this program, employees will receive a printed “Wealth Watchers®” budgeting guide to track expenses and access to an instructional video and web resource center at www.practicalmoneyskills.com/mcdonalds with additional tools and information.

Many McDonald’s restaurants offer a number of other financial benefits to employees such as: (1) McDonald’s Insurance Program: Provides employees the option to participate in health, dental, prescription, life, vision, and short-term disability plans to assist them in paying for healthcare expenses; (2) McDonald’s Gold Card: A discount program that helps employees save money on everyday purchases at multiple retailers nationwide; (3) McResource Line: An employee assistance program that provides help on work-life issues such as child care, transportation, and housing. It also provides assistance in financial areas including credit counseling, debt  consolidation, financial planning and bill payments; and, McDirect Shares®, McSave®, Credit Union, and 401k Plans. McDonald’s allows employees to invest and save money for their future.

Since 2004, McDonald’s has been offering a substantial retirement savings program in an effort promote saving and increase the retention rates of its employees. In a time when many employers are cutting back on their retirement matching contributions, McDonald’s continues to offer lavish 401(k) plans. McDonald’s corporate match is especially extravagant at lower levels of saving: employees who put just 1 percent of their salary in the plan get $3 for every $1 they invest. McDonald’s then makes a dollar-for-dollar match on the next 4 percent. After that there’s a potential profit-sharing match of up to 4 percent. All told, workers who save 5 percent of their pay can see the total swell to 16 percent! In order to encourage its employees to take advantage of the 401(k) plans, company human resource personnel actively engage and educate employees by reaching out and talking to them about the importance of savings in long-term financial security. Additionally, when human resource personnel cannot answer all employee inquiries, it further refers them to appropriate financial advisors within the company for further counsel about finances and savings.

McDonald’s multiple programs promoting financial literacy and retirement planning among their employees make McDonald’s an employer who exemplifies the principles and goals of the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation.

Can the Average Person Save Our Economy?

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Alice Wood

Posted: November 17, 2010 11:49 AM

The answer is “yes.” We don’t have to wait for financial reform. We don’t have to wait for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to come to the rescue. Meaningful change can begin today and it starts by taking on every day and every dollar as though it makes a difference, because it does.

Everyone should have a plain old fashioned savings account that can serve as a safety net if we have a setback. There actually was a long stretch of time in recent American history where our country had a 10 percent personal savings rate and the economy was humming. Before the onset of The Great Recession our personal savings rate bordered on zero leaving us no margin for error. Many of us ignored the need for a savings account because we had a false sense of wealth. We actually bought into the concept that our homes and our securities were worth more than they really were. We didn’t need to worry about a job loss or a medical setback because we could have easily covered our expenses by tapping into our home equity. That theory doesn’t hold true today, so it’s time to rethink our Plan B. The old Plan B was completely flawed anyway; this is actually a perfect time to regroup by setting up a savings plan. Baby steps are fine, but ultimately it’s a worthwhile goal to save at least 10 percent of our net income as a safety net on top of what we might be setting aside in a retirement fund.

Why? Because we need to abandon the concept of tapping into our home equity or our retirement accounts for anything other than a dire emergency. Remember the bank ads that encouraged us to “live richly”? The subliminal message was actually, “be stupid.” Now we know that we need to be informed consumers which includes understanding how much money we can spend after setting aside a certain amount of money towards savings each month. We should have never bought into the idea that we should “tap into our home equity” for a better lifestyle. How odd that it became old-fashioned to own our homes outright. We can survive almost any economic downturn if we aren’t saddled with debt.

It’s also time to understand that we are living in a world of borrower beware. The old 28/36 rule should be brought back to life. No more than 28 percent of our income should go toward housing and no more than 36 percent of our income should go toward debt of any kind including student loans and housing. The states where housing costs exceeded 50 percent of our income are the same states facing the highest rates of foreclosures.

It’s time for personal accountability and personal responsibility. We need to understand down to the day how much money we can spend without going into debt. Sure, consumer spending drives our economy. But we shouldn’t have an economy built on the backs of people who can’t afford it.

The bottom line is that we can all spend more money than we have, but we shouldn’t.

To read more and add a comment, please visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alice-wood/can-the-average-person-sa_b_784831.html?view=screen.

Financial Literacy Shares Spotlight with Health Wellness

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

By Barbara Mannino

Published February 03, 2011 | FOXBusiness

Employers are taking action as the personal financial stress of employees spill over into the workplace. Putting financial literacy on a par with education on physical health, employers are using models they already have in place to adopt a more holistic approach to wellness.

The economy may be showing signs of improvement in certain areas, but Mercer’s Annual Workplace Survey shows employees are still not confident about their own situations.

Employers are realizing their employees can’t save for retirement and are struggling to make ends meet when they’re faced with debt, the job loss of a spouse or foreclosure.

Other recent surveys tell a similar story:
• The American Psychological Association’s 2010 Stress in America Survey showed 76% of respondents say that money causes them stress, which also concludes that money, work and the economy “remain the most oft-cited sources of stress for Americans;”
• 59% of employees find dealing with their financial situation stressful, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers 2010 National Financial Wellness Survey; and
• 43% of employees find it difficult to meet their household expenses each month, the PwC survey also says.

“Employees tell me they make good salaries, but still have trouble making ends meet,” says Mike DiMaio, an independent financial counselor and principal of New Focus NJ, who works with companies like Prudential to provide individual counseling to employees.

Workplace Symptoms

Financial distractions like these play out in workplace absenteeism and tardiness. Stressed-out employees spend an average of about 20 hours a month dealing with their financial problems, according to Mark McAvoy, a member of the Organizational Development Expertise Panel of the Society for Human Resource Management that conducted national surveys with managers.

“This equals about 30% of a 40-hour work week and includes time to go to the bank or call the debt collector from the office.”

And this is bad news for young job candidates: Employees of retirement age are staying in the workforce longer, blocking the way for new talent in many industries, according to McAvoy.

Employees are staying behind the desk longer because they can no longer rely on their 401(k) plans to give them enough money for retirement. “If the workforce can’t retire, then the [retirement] plan isn’t performing efficiently,” says Bill McClain, a principal of Mercer’s Seattle office, which highlights an underlying problem, the lack of good retirement plan benefits recruitment and retention.

Borrowing From a Proven Model

Employers were beginning to see that much like physical ailments, financial stress may be caused by one of many different factors, says Kent Allison, PwC’s partner in charge of the financial education practice. Employers had improved health behaviors over the last few years with proactive, targeted and incentive-based paradigms. Why couldn’t they do the same with financial literacy?

At Prudential, employees had been benefiting from a holistic approach to wellness for “some time,” says Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio, vice president, health and wellness. The company used its Employee Assistance Program, FEI Behavioral Health, to refer employees when necessary to one-on-one financial counseling.

When the financial crisis hit, field and corporate managers reported that there were undercurrents of financial stress among clients and employees. To bring a human element to the crisis for both groups, Prudential made counselors available to help sort out personal financial problems. In April 2009, Prudential took a further step and launched a Personal Budget Coaching program which joins a financial coach with an employee to complete a personal financial analysis and develop a budget.

Personal Coaching Ranks High

While online personal finance tools are helpful, nothing beats personal interaction. “When people have acute distress around finances, it’s hard for them to use online tools,” Del Vecchio says.

A McDonalds USA spokesperson says that it provides all company-owned restaurant employees and some franchisees confidential and unlimited access to professional consultants through McResource Line. Counselors help employees find with credit counseling and debt management and provide information about community programs that offer financial education/assistance.

McDonalds’s is not alone. PwC’s flagship Financial Fitness Assessment for clients and employees is a 10-minute assessment that enables participants to identify specific areas of concern. The follow up provides a personalized action plan, including direction to additional resources like personal coaching. And Mercer partners with a third-party vendor, Financial Engines Inc., thatoffers employees professional management through an advisor representative, or provides a do-it-yourself investment option.

The companies also offer a variety of online tools to help employees navigate the financial waters.

An “Ask the Expert” series that runs in Pru Today, Prudential’s daily in-house newspaper, and its “Myth Debunker” series on Pru Tube, an in-house weekly broadcast, cover IRAs and tax issues relevant to changing legislation.

At McDonalds, an interactive Web site, is available to all employees and is packed with financial tools and resources including educational videos. The application also offers two new iPhone apps: a budgeting calculator and financial football.

“Putting targeted and proactive communications, education and coaching in front of employees when it is most timely and relevant allows for a more surgical approach to addressing an employee’s financial needs,” says Allison. “The tactic also increases the probability that employees will indeed take action–and employers will be able to drive desired behavioral change.”

Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2011/02/03/financial-literacy-shares-spotlight-health-wellness/#ixzz1DKr8tsMi

Straight talk about personal spending and saving

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

The Federal Bank of Chicago and Money Smart Week Winnebago County Presents: Alice Wood, Founder and President of Wealth Watchers International. This event , which is free to the public, will be held on Monday, October 4, 2010 from 6:30-7:30 PM at the Oshkosh North High School Auditorium.Changing the way the world looks at money, one day at a time. Alice Wood, the Founder and President, works to share a simple goal; to help people spend less money than they make.

Attendees will learn about the foundation of the program, the Wealth Watchers Journal.

The Wealth Watcher programs helps you:

1. Make purchasing decisions, big and small
2. Build positive habits to last your lifetime
3. Analyze your expenses
4. Stay out of debt and THRIVE!

Those who can’t answer these questions, should attend this workshop:

Do you know, off the top of your head, how much money you’ve spent today? Do you know how much you have left for the rest of the week? This month? This year?

Wood will show us why American families are in unprecedented personal debt and have made savings a distant dream. She knows because she’s been there. The story of how she lost control of her finances is dramatic and unusual. She devised a plan to get her back on track and she’ll share a formula that everybody can use. Ms. Wood will sell her books and sign copies following her talk. You won’t want to miss this program. It’s free and open to the public.

Visit http://www.thenorthwestern.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201010011618/OSH1003/10010698 to read more and post a comment.

Wealth Watchers in the Classroom

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago – Marginal Thoughts Blog

Wealth Watchers in the Classroom

By Cindy Ivanac-Lillig 

I had met a woman, Alice Wood, a couple of years ago here at the Bank in connection with our Money Smart Week program. She is an attorney, a small business woman, and an author. Her life story is both heart-breaking and inspiring. She has recently come out with a book, “Wealth Watchers,” that documents not only her life story but also serves as a how-to for the popular tool she has come up with to help people manage their finances more effectively. As I read the book, I thought — this could be a great classroom tool for anyone teaching personal finance!
 
It is a rather easy paradigm to picture, because most of us have heard of the program Weight Watchers. There is no special food, only a way to keep score. Her system works much the same way. At one point in her book she says something like — this isn’t easy, but it is simple, which made me laugh at loud. The concept is so simple; it basically requires that you journal all of your daily expenses and know what your daily limit is for disposable income.
 
Why is simple sometimes so hard?
 
Please let me know what you think — I realize that there are many tools out there and I have by no means tried them all, but this just happened to cross my desk and I thought it was worth sharing!
 
 

 

 

We’re flunking personal finance

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

By Michelle Singletary
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 9, 2010

The financial teaching grade is in for teachers — and it’s not good. 

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison surveyed K-12 educators, and, not surprisingly — or at least it wasn’t a shocker for me — most instructors don’t think they are suitably trained to teach their students the basics of personal finance. The study, “Teachers’ Background & Capacity to Teach Personal Finance,” was funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE).

The teachers were asked to assess their instructional competency in six personal finance areas: income and careers; planning and money management; credit and debt; financial responsibility and decision-making; saving and investing; and risk management and insurance.

Less than 20 percent of the surveyed educators felt they were “very competent” in any of the six areas. No wonder: Barely one-third of them had taken a college course that included personal finance content, the researchers found.

“This study reinforces the need to incorporate personal money management topics into educational opportunities for teachers, whether in undergraduate or graduate curricula for students studying to become teachers, or as postgraduate or in-service courses or workshops,” says Ted Beck, president and chief executive of NEFE. “We have an opportunity to dramatically affect the quality of K-12 financial education by providing teachers with the subject matter expertise they need throughout their careers.”

Increasingly, states are pushing economic education. The number of states that require students to take a personal finance course, or instruction as part of an economics class, increased to 13 in 2009 from seven in 2007, according to the Council for Economic Education. Although states are setting up financial education guidelines, an overwhelming majority of teachers who participated in the NEFE survey said they didn’t feel qualified to offer instruction at the level of the standard set by their states, the researchers said.

The survey is being used to show that if we teach the teachers, we have a better chance of educating our children about personal finance.

This is a worthy goal. It’s vital that we teach children to be better stewards of their money. If we do, they will become better money managers as adults.

In fact, I agree with many financial literacy advocates that a core part of any curriculum for grades K-12 should include mandatory financial literacy classes. And you didn’t misread that. I do mean from kindergarten to 12th grade. A 5-year-old who can beg for a Happy Meal at McDonald’s and then whine and cry when he doesn’t get one is more than ready to be schooled in the economics of eating out.

College students shouldn’t be handed a degree without having taken personal finance classes — and yes, they should take more than one. For example, graduates should know how to create a budget based on their expected salary.

Because of the recession, we have a keener understanding that many folks lack the decision making training to make good financial choices. We may not be able to teach people common sense, but we can do a better job of teaching basic money management, such as not spending more than 36 percent of your net monthly pay on housing.

“Teachers are pivotal to the success of financial education efforts,” researchers Wendy L. Way and Karen Holden wrote in the NEFE report.

But the agenda to educate the educators and mandate that schools add money management to their basic curriculum must acknowledge that we also need to teach the people who are parenting the K-12 children.

Because parents are urged to attend school meetings, sports programs, concerts, plays and other activities, school districts could press them to sit alongside their kids for a money management session.

Parents are the only ones who can instill in their children certain core values concerning finances. In my family, it’s the values component that will, for example, encourage my three kids to make tithing and charitable giving a top priority in their budgets.

And no child of mine will leave home without a healthy hatred of debt. A financial class at school might suggest there is such a thing as good debt and bad debt. No way. My children will learn from me to do everything they can to avoid borrowing, except for the purchase of a home.

If we know that children often live out what they learn at home, this is one subject we can’t put entirely into educators’ hands.

Spend Less and Save More: A Conversation with Alice Wood

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Make It Better | Apr 2010
By Laura Hine


Alice Wood didn’t set out to be a money management guru. She was a successful lawyer, mother and wife when a faulty oxygen mask on an airplane changed her life.

Wood’s sharp mind became fogged and confused due to a prolonged lack of oxygen. Her professional life and income crashed and simple tasks—like remembering to pick up her children—were often forgotten.

Her finances spiraled out of control and she gained 20 pounds.

“It was unthinkable that I was going to go through my whole life like that,” she says, talking about her brain injury.

To get her life back on track, she started small. She joined Weight Watchers to take off the pounds and found that their system of journaling—not dieting—but tracking every bite helped her stay in control. She started applying those same principles to her financial life.

First, she faced the music. She sat down with her accountant and figured out how in debt they were, how much money they were bringing in and what they could afford to spend. It was a revelation. She set a goal for herself: a simple, daily number that she wouldn’t exceed. Then she started tracking her expenses and accounting for every penny.

“Our family’s biggest black hole was eating out,” Wood says. She doesn’t love to cook or shop, so they spent a lot of money on takeout and restaurant meals. When she added it up and realized cooking avoidance cost them thousands of dollars each year, Wood got more organized and planned simple dinners at least four nights a week.

From her basic idea—watch the little things and everything else falls in place—Wealth Watchers was born. It shares Weight Watchers’ philosophy; nothing is off limits, but everything must be accounted for. If you want to splurge on a pair of Tod’s loafers, you have to cut back on something else (and a lot of something elses for those shoes), until you have the money set aside.

Once she had her idea fleshed out, Wood decided to share her idea with everyone. She’s written a book, Wealth Watchers: A Simple Program to Help You Spend Less and Save More (Free Press, 2010, $19.95) and also has a free app for iPhones to help you track daily spending.

But most important of all, Wood feels like herself again. Although she doubted that anything good could ever come from her brain injury, her experience launching Wealth Watchers made her think that maybe her ordeal was for a reason.

“It’s been 10 years since my accident,” she says. “And I’m so much better now.”

 

Tips for Being Good with Your Money

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
Extra News | April 14, 2010

Alice Wood is the founder and president of Wealth Watchers International, a company dedicated to promoting financial education. She is the author of Wealth Watchers – A Simple Program to Help You Spend Less and Save More. The following are some tips on how to better manage your money.

Tips for Being Good with Your Money

1. Spend less money than you have.

2. Look for ways to save money.

•When possible, use public transportation or carpool
•Consider walking or riding a bike when running errands
•Plan meals in advance
•Borrow books and movies from the library
•Shop with a list
•Pay down debt as quickly as possible
•Try not to use an ATM outside of your bank’s system to avoid extra service charges

3. Set up direct deposit for your paycheck. Having your paycheck automatically deposited into your bank account or onto a payroll card will save you time and money by avoiding the long lines and high fees charged by some check cashing stores.

4. Open a savings account. Go to your local bank to set up a savings account. Even a small amount will make a difference over time.

5. Discuss your financial goals with a friend. You’re much more likely to reach a goal if you share it.