What summer jobs have you done? Why did you choose those jobs? I have worked many summer jobs over the years to save and pay off debt. This type of seasonal work is important to our economy, and it has important personal financial effects on youth and their families.

There has been an important focus on digital advertising on social media platforms. For those of us who grew up prior to the advance we now see with technology and streaming services, we had to sit through all the commercials if we wanted to watch our favorite shows. Marketing strategies have changed to expand the reach and keep up with consumer behaviors. Additionally, we have seen a lot in the media over the past few months about the handling of users data; however, we know little about the impacts of digital marketing on consumers financial behaviors.

There seems to be a recent trend, thanks to Facebook, of asking for donations for your (or someone else's) birthday instead of gifts. For the last two years, we have asked for donations to our son's birthday instead of toys or gifts that he might play with for a few minutes and then forget about. Here are some items to consider if you've been wanting to ask for donations for your birthday or a child of yours!

Where to donate?

My shopping experiences have changed radically over the past few years. The older I get, the more I have a hard time going shopping. On the other hand, I have friends and family members who enjoy walking through the stores, finding the best bargains, and the right things that fit their needs.

Are you shopping for a new home to purchase? If so, are you spending enough time shopping for your mortgage loan too?

Most people don't know this but I had to help plan, put together, and pay for both of my parent's funerals. I write this post to help you get ideas about what you'd like for your funeral/burial and to get you moving to get things planned for yourself.

Happy New Year 2018! The New Year offers opportunities for a fresh start and new resolutions. As you reflect on possibilities, I encourage you to include investing in your personal finance as a high priority for 2018. We choose to do many things with our time and energy, and it's easy to let our finances become "another day" activity; however, time spent today will reap many benefits in the future. If you don't invest in your personal financial situation, no one else will!

After over 20 years of teaching personal financial management, I am still looking for more ways to empower people to use money to reach their goals and dreams. As our economy, societal practices, and laws change, our approaches to financial management education need to change too.

Join Camaya and Sasha this month in discussing whether to show or not to show your credit report to your significant other!
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For the last two summers, my family and I have had a garden in the backyard. We take the time to till the soil, plant the vegetables and herbs, then wait. This summer I want to track my spending and see if my time and money it's really worth having a garden.

This year we planted:

Is it time to add your teenager to your family's cell phone plan? Are you looking to make changes to your individual plan? Do you still predominantly use landlines because of where you live, package deals, or comfort level? Whatever your current telephone situation, having a telephone service or plan that is reasonable, affordable, and convenient makes all the difference in your busy life.

Well, obviously the summer has come and gone in Illinois and it's time to evaluate whether gardening was financially worth it. I had planned on keeping track of how much water we consumed and how many vegetables we were able to "save money on" because we had grown our own. Plus, the looking at the opportunity cost. An opportunity cost is a benefit of something that must be given up to achieve something else. In this example, I gave up purchasing vegetables (at a possibly lower cost) so I could grow them in my garden.

About six years ago, my partner learned about a new bank (and like he does with everything), he did a lot of research and decided that this was the financial institution for him. This bank helps him set goals, stay disciplined, keep track with his spending, and it offers good interest rates. In other words, it offers great automation options and web-based and technical support services that make his banking experience a lot more convenient.

For many people it may be obvious that by using your local library, you would save money, but many people don't even utilize their library! According to a 2016 Study on Libraries by the Pew Research Center, "just under half of all those age 16 and older (48 percent) say they have visited a public library…in person in the prior year." That means that 52 percent of us haven't stepped into a library in the past year. Libraries have a lot of options now a days, and you'd be surprised by what you'll find!

Happy first day of summer!

For those of us in the colder regions of the U.S., the warmer months present us with options we longed for during the winter, but how do we take advantage of the warm weather? What are some ways we can save over the summer?

Last August, I lost something very important to me – my wedding ring! I took it off to wash the dishes and when I went to find it the next morning, it was gone. I searched my trash can, recycle bins as well as all through the house. At first, I was really upset until I remember that we had insured it!

Insuring personal property isn't hard, but you have to remember to do it. Sometimes it's referred to as "scheduled personal property" by insurance companies. If you're not sure, ask, your insurance agent will know be able to help you right away.

Money and the holidays. For some of us, we happily swing into the spending mode. I look forward to the excuse to buy people gifts and spend money on treats. Each store I walk into is full of tempting, fun, creative, and exciting things all waiting for me! One of my strong money personalities is "giving" and this is my season.

While we were raised in the same household, my sister does not share my joy in holiday spending. She dislikes holiday shopping. She doesn't like to talk about money, and avoids using money unless she must. She is likely a "money avoider."

Are you planning to attend college or career school in 2019-2020? You can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid online – also known as FAFSA -- starting October 1, 2018 . Completing the FAFSA is necessary to apply for federal student aid, as well as other aid and scholarships.

Remember, you have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you're in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid. And, it's FREE to complete the FAFSA.

Why is it helpful to complete the FAFSA early?

Do you have youth and teens in your life? This summer may be an excellent time for them to learn skills and knowledge they need to be good financial managers as adults.

We're really excited to show off the work we've done on our new podcast. We hope you'll give us a listen!
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Should I pay extra on my student loan or invest in a Roth IRA? Build up an emergency savings fund or pay off my credit card debt? Pay off my mortgage or put more money in my 401(k) retirement plan? In one form or another, the trending question lately has been, "Is it better to pay down debt or build up savings and investments?"

Greetings!

I am so thrilled to contribute to the Plan Well Retire Well blog. My name is Camaya Wallace Bechard and I am the new Consumer Economics Educator for Livingston, McLean, and Woodford counties. I love learning about new research and approaches to improve and maintain our well-being.

Now is when the holiday bills arrive and our budgets feel stretched! It's easy to feel overwhelmed by debt payments and end up avoiding them. But when you don't take control of your debt payments, the interest charges pile up – and grow and grow! Let's consider strategies to help take control of credit card bills.

First, get organized. Make a list of each credit card or other debt with 1) the total amount owed, 2) the annual percentage rate (APR) you're being charged, and 3) the required minimum monthly payment.

Do you live alone or with others? How has this changed for you over your life? In my life, who is under the rooftop has been a story of change: people moving in and out during life transitions.

I am not alone. Many people today live in households with adults from different generations (multigenerational). In fact, in 2016 a record 64 million people – 20% of the U.S. population – lived with multiple generations under one roof.

One thing we all have in common, we need food. Likely, every week you spend money on food. How can you keep your costs down? Planning our food purchases and comparison-shopping can help.

Planning your meals helps keep food costs down and decreases food wastage as well. Planning includes: