Get Your Money Back!

The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness blog tour. The Road to Financial Wellness is a three-month, grassroots campaign promoting financial empowerment on a national level and encourages people to pursue their dream lifestyle. Find out more about local events near you.  If you’re in NYC, reserve your spot for the Pit Stop on June 8.

millennial stuff

It’s crazy that I have to text my kids to get their attention. But that’s probably not my fault. Every new generation creates its own culture, style, taste and “the new normal” from the previous ones. We call that a generation gap.

Technology helps to bridge the gap.  But it comes with a lot of rules! What it is and how to use it, whether you have the right tool, or whether you have the right tool but just don’t know how to use it.  That’s the one my kids accuse me of  – “You don’t know what you’re doing!” That’s probably because I always face time them at the wrong time!  But hey, I’m no technology expert, so I’m inclined to agree with them (lol).

One other really large gap between generations in my opinion, is money. And yes, I am an expert in that, though despite my credentials and expertise, my kids are still mysteriously cautious of my advice. Because money is first and foremost a family issue, they forget the expert part and focus on the mom aspect.  But in my book, money is way up there with faith, air, food and water.

It drives me crazy that the market crash did more damage than good to people’s attitudes about money.  Mostly because it created so many emotional negatives around money for our young people. Whatever happened to Newton’s law of gravity?  What goes up must come down.

That’s a good thing because the market is like real estate – buy low, sell high. That’s how many make millions, right?  Buy low, sell high.  Young people have lots of time to do exactly that.

The problem is that the market just happened to be down when a lot of people needed that money. Particularly the older people.  For them, buy low sell high is great too – as long as all of the eggs aren’t in one basket.  That’s called diversification. So, the time to diversify is actually before the market goes down. Get some of that into protected asset classes…

Exposure to the down market and watching parents reel from the economic crises put a damper on things for our millennials. So much so, that the millennials are better savers than their parents and previous generations.  The young people are avoiding that mistake but the effects of taxes and inflation over time can also effect savings.

So savings is just one mistake to avoid.  The people who got hurt the most had a different problem, in my opinion.

The thing is that in this great country of ours most people don’t plan for the long-term.  76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. 33% believe in college for their children but don’t save for it.  Heck, lots of people don’t budget when they can use a credit card to cover expenses (just dig a deeper hole).  If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it on credit.  But I’m not here to judge, only to offer whatever help I can.

The thing that made your parents crazy is that they didn’t have a good withdrawal plan. After decades of putting money in… there was no thought for the “end of the day”.   You know, like when it was needed, how to take it out, how much, what that money would cover…Unfortunately, hope is not a strategy.

My whole aim in life is to get my money back!  I want to put money into things that will pay me back – eventually… in the long run.  To do that, long-term vision and planning is needed. That’s why I do what I do… to ease the future pain. My kids will never know how many bullets I dodged, because of all of the problems they didn’t have.

So while I’m learning to use technology – ya know, learning what right tool is, what it does and how to use it – I’m encouraging young people to think beyond saving money.  Because money is a great tool when you save some, buy low sell high, diversify and get it into protected asset classes.  I love this message so much, I’ll text it to you and you can face time me back for more information.

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Brooklyn Financial Fitness Soiree – 5/17

Reserve your complimentary seat here!Image-1

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The Mourning After

NOTHING and NO ONE can prepare you for the inevitable.  Even when it’s expected.  There’s no pretty way to get through the mourning after the loss of a loved one.

I should have seen it coming. Ominous events started happening…  My computer died. My car died… then…. My Dad died.  All of the stuff “breaking” in my life was like a horror movie.  “What’s next, locusts?”

I’ve never experienced so much hurt as the passing of my Dad.  It was as if he took my life with him. I lost my voice, my writing, my focus… completely a ship adrift on the concrete sidewalks of the city.

That’s kind of ironic because my Dad owned a boat and loved fishing.IMG_1300

“You can’t get there from here” is what I heard blowing in the wind as I faced all of these losses.  Maybe the grand take away from all of this is to enjoy the moment and let go – of people and things.  I can’t… I’m still in the mourning after…

There are so many more discussions I would have liked to have had with him – just to listen to the sound of his voice and his confident spirit. Aw heck – he had swagger, charisma, bravado!  Admit it – to a child, the man in your life is THE MAN IN YOUR LIFE.  He is mine, whether he’s with us in the flesh or not.

Now that we are handling his affairs… I’m understanding more of his thoughts and more of his ways. I’m thankful for him in my life.

It’s still the mourning after.

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s worse than a used car salesman?

carWhat’s worse than a used car salesman?

A bad one!

I’ll bet you thought I was going to say the insurance guy. But that would be wrong because the right kind of insurance can provide lifetime benefits (meaning your lifetime…) and beyond! You can contact me about that if you would like, toll free.

Now back to the used car guy selling lemons. It left me with a sour taste in my mouth, but the ending is actually pretty sweet… keep reading.

All kidding aside – a car is a necessity for me.  I was heartbroken when my affordable and fully paid up Volvo took a turn for the worse.  But after two decades of service and raising two kids in the back seat through rain, snow, sleet and hail… It was time for me to part ways with my oldest and dearest friend.  My car had to be put to rest.

I found a great charity that would accept my “purse on wheels” for the benefit of others. I sat in the car one last time, and expressed my appreciation for all of the comfort, safety and sanctuary I enjoyed in the vehicle. Then I scoured it for lose change, high heels, and all the kid money workshop materials I kept in case of an emergency financial seminar that needed me.  You’d be surprised at how often my mobile closet came to the rescue- the modern female version of Clarke Kent.

Tearfully, I blew a kiss to the dashboard and turned over keys, spare tires and my unwritten memories of life in that vehicle.

So I did what any reasonable financially savvy person would do – I got pre-qualified for a car loan so that price would not be an option. I could decide later whether to pay cash or finance my new ride…. while shopping, I’d just keep my focus on getting the best value value.  Meaning the value of the particular vehicle to me and my budget.

The Internet search for a new ride began!  The background research is probably what I would call the most important part of car shopping. This allowed me to gauge the fair market value of the cars that peaked my interest.  It also allowed me to do a cost comparison and evaluate the dealers. The dealer ratings proved to be invaluable because satisfied customers are always the best selling tool, regardless of the item purchased!

Going to dealers throughout the tri-state area, kicking the tires on every imaginable  year, make and model with options, features, warranties and test drives… was a time-consuming mind (and behind) numbing experience.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s all about you and the dealer (or seller, if you’re doing a private sale…) getting your numbers right – that’s where the rubber truly meets the road.

I realized that the dealers with the lowest rating (meaning the customers gave them a low quality rating) were the bad guys.  Many enticed potential customers with low prices online, but when it got down to the actual numbers, there were many add-ons and high fees to drive away.  It was disappointing and a real turn off when the “low price” ballooned with hidden title fees, document fees, warranties, loans, taxes….. and the biggest turnoff of all – a deal unwilling to negotiate.

I also contacted a few insurance carriers – so I would know the total annual cost of my new ride… just to avoid any buyer’s remorse in the long run.  Moving right along… I found two and was ready to talk ‘the numbers.’  Then I cringed at the thought of having to negotiate.

But, with the right dealer, negotiating is a remarkably pleasant experience.  The dealer with a higher rating (having more starts and more satisfied customers who recommend the particular dealer), had a better product, price and process.

The transparent pricing from the onset was a major plus.  So you know the real price before ever setting foot on the lot.  My best experience was with car dealers having no hidden document or title fees, those willing to waive inspection, title and other fee cosmetic considerations, lower and better warranties … and willing to negotiate!

Happy I got a top of the line brand in the color of my choice and an awesome price and experience with the dealer.  The car buying experience should be part of everyone’s financial education – whether or not you ever own a car, or ride in an Uber.

Me and my new purse on wheels are grateful for our good karma.

 

 

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The gift of a lifetime

giftsIt’s Christmas day!  Families, friends and loved ones are celebrating the season of giving, joy and hope.  Believers celebrate the Savior’s birth.  So many have shared pics of decorated trees, ice skating, cookie baking and of course – gifts!

Amidst all of this positive energy, a few people I know are having more somber celebrations. I am thinking of the friends who are spending the day in hospital rooms, battling for their next breath.  Others, who have lost their loved ones are facing Christmas without their Mom, Dad, spouse, child…

A friend of mine who is a good soul shared that he is trying to help others who are struggling to get off the intersection of “stressed and depressed.” For some, 2015 has been a year marked by other losses of jobs, money, relationships and opportunities.

Should any of this put a damper on the day?

No.

Everyone deserves respect for being who they are on this day, and where they are, without any judgment.  The most positive thing we can do for people in this place is to be there, wholeheartedly and with kindness.  What they are going through could happen to anyone.  But words and hugs are sometimes not enough…

Positive action is what changes lives.

I salute all of these friends who are facing tough circumstances.  More importantly, I salute them for taking positive action!  They decided to give their families one of the greatest gifts this holiday season – a more secure financial future.  They have given the gift of a lifetime by protecting the future of their loved ones.  They are doing it in creative and fun ways – involving friends and family members. This lets everyone know that having a better financial future is a priority.

My friend who is a new Mom started a savings plan for her newborn and is having all of the relatives contribute a very small amount every paycheck (instead of one big gift at birthday, holiday and other times).

Another pal decided to start a business and is asking for referrals from family and friends as the “gift” of the season. It is more meaningful than anything that could come wrapped in a box. He is celebrating two new clients that he would not have had otherwise!

Insurance, savings plans and business opportunities – are not the big buzz happening over at the mall.  But this is the stuff that changes lives.  The gift of a lifetime that lasts beyond yours.

What can you give your loved ones to help them have a more financially secure future?

 

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This says it all ~

Candisparks's Blog

Greenish Blue Sparks Fly logo

I am thankful that people say “SPARKS FLY” what a cute name! That’s when I usually explain that the “FLY” part is an acronym for “financial literacy for YOU(th)”and they say how clever!  I am grateful for that, but they really love it when they watch this for themselves.

The point of learning about money is not for the sake of money.  There are many things in life that are more important than money.  Family, friends, time spent doing what you love to do!

But the people who can’t manage money will never have time for the things that are more important.

We’ve heard the cliché that no one on their deathbed ever says “I really wish I had just one more hour in the office…”

That’s why financial education gives people a better chance of having a better life.

We are particularly excited to connect with the YOUNG DEMS…

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This says it all ~

Greenish Blue Sparks Fly logo

I am thankful that people say “SPARKS FLY” what a cute name! That’s when I usually explain that the “FLY” part is an acronym for “financial literacy for YOU(th)”and they say how clever!  I am grateful for that, but they really love it when they watch this for themselves.

The point of learning about money is not for the sake of money.  There are many things in life that are more important than money.  Family, friends, time spent doing what you love to do!

But the people who can’t manage money will never have time for the things that are more important.

We’ve heard the cliché that no one on their deathbed ever says “I really wish I had just one more hour in the office…”

That’s why financial education gives people a better chance of having a better life.

We are particularly excited to connect with the YOUNG DEMS of Brooklyn!  We’ve been invited to present the special topic at the November meeting, which is … drum roll please… “Who Says Millennials Are Not Financially Fit?” We’ll be at THE STANDARD (82 4th Avenue, Bkln, 11217).

Who says Millenials are not well off financially?  According to the Dallas Morning News:

10%

Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 are nearly 10 percent less likely to have a job now than they were a decade ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

18.1%

According to the Economic Policy Institute, when you add people 25 and under who are “idling” (not searching for jobs or going to school) to the 2014 youth unemployment rate, it increases from 14.5 percent to 18.1 percent.

$1T

Americans collectively owe over $1 trillion in student loans. They owed only $461 billion eight years ago, according to the recent study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

We’re looking forward to discussing discussing student debt, savings and long term goals with these up and community leaders.  We are honored to have this opportunity to interact with this demographic for their betterment and ours.

Getting good solution based information is mission critical!

Learn more so you can live more.  Get  money smart kids… feel financially fabulous!

That when SPARKS FLY.

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LTC – learn more, live more

Eventually you HAVE to talk about it!  Avoiding the inevitable won’t solve anything. It’s not just the men that shut down. Women do it too!  After all, we’re only human.  Why are the important issues often the hardest to discuss?

Health is Wealth, Getting Sick is Expensive

Caring for aging parents

Simple. Our feelings about the situation get in the way.  Emotions cloud our better judgment. Or, funds are limited. Or we just don’t see a way out.  That’s where I get involved – to facilitate strategies and solutions.

This post is inspired by the issues involved in caring for aging parents. I watched this video and think it can help a lot of friends out there. It’s great that celebrities Maria Shriver, Rob Lowe and others are helping others share this important message.

In particular those who have limited resources and are trying to maintain careers, educate their children and deal with their own health and housing issues.  This group has been dubbed the “sandwich” generation, because they are in the middle of everything.

Not to mention, while caring for their own parents and children, they are often reminded that their own health and capital resources will decline in the future.  Though it’s not for lack of caring or trying.

Fortunately, there is more to life than worry and stress. Solutions can be found to ease the strains on the resources and the relationships that come with caring for parents. This will allow everyone to remain open and able to love as they face life on life’s terms.

We can’t give Mom and Dad back their time or their health. But we can help maintain their dignity. This means taking the right step at the right time. With insurance, if you’re on time – you’re late!  Wait until it’s too late, and … it’s too late.  Long term care is a talk worth having now.  Your future and theirs will thank you for it.

Yes, I do have information and access to insurance plans including long term care. But’s it’s not about me – its about you and yours.

Please learn more, so that you and your loved ones can live more.

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“Lemonade Sold Out” fun book for kids of all ages!

Lemaonde Sold Out inspires entrepreneurship

Great pic from “Lemonade Sold Out” Candi Sparks’s book launch @ Brooklyn Book Festival. The featured Children’s Author’s #kidlit workshop on entrepreneurship

Happy children make for a happy home! Sour kids make for a long weekend!

We opted for the former and had fun making memories at the lemonade stand!  This was no ordinary stand – it was the larger than life interactive centerpiece of my book launch. The book, LEMONADE SOLD OUT is Vol. 5 of the “Can I Have Some Money?” book series for children and the people who love them.

If the book were only about the lemonade stand, it would just be cute… But there’s more to this story. During a school crisis, Chris takes immediate action to help a friend. His creative solution takes over the school in a flash! Then, the Principal finds out and calls Chris to the main office to… What happens next will amaze you! Who knew that lemonade would inspire this adventure? Brothers Chris and Max, their family and friends are back and at their best in this hilarious new installment, “Lemonade Sold Out”. The story is sure to please current fans while attracting new ones.

The book launched with me as a featured author at the Brooklyn Book Festival, along with an author workshop and book signing.  The entire event was good wholesome fun, just for kids and the people who love them.  This picture says it all!

In the workshop, we made our own mini lemonade stands, along with a business plan, fancy logos and of course, lots of interaction with our customers and friends.

Lemonade is only the beginning – find out what the story is really about and we’ll bring the lemonade stand to you!  grab a copy to find out

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Back to School Activities and Lesson Plans

Get Money Smart with Sparks Fly, Financial Literacy for Youth

Students experience the Aha! moment. Sparks Fly when students connect with financial education.

School budgets are in effect! There’s a whirlwind of networking, collaborating and masterminding happening now.  Teachers are sharing new and improved ways to implement instruction.  An exciting school year lies ahead!

The New York City schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, is directing schools to adopt STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and math), to improve outcomes for future employment and an improved personal and national economy.  Pretty heavy for a first grader, right? Perhaps.

Considering that her pre-schooler grandson showed her how to watch television on the computer, maybe it’s not that far-fetched. Watch the video here.

STEM education provides pathways for innovation of what already exists and encourages entrepreneurship.  Teachers can utilize STEM programs both during the school day as well as in after school programs.

NYC School Chancellor supports STEM

Carmen Farina with Sparks Fly, financial literacy for you(th)

Sparks Fly, financial literacy for you(th) is pleased to provide a financial curriculum for classroom enrichment, training and after school financial literacy programs.  The materials comport to the NY State Common Core Standards and STEM education.  The financial literacy curriculum engages students with hands on learning tools to promote money management and entrepreneurship.  Sparks Fly texts and materials are used by the NYC Department of Education and community based organizations, Girl Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs and others.

Available in Shop DOE - a few texts from  Sparks Fly, financial literacy for youth. Comports to NYS common core standards and used in STEM Programs

Available in Shop DOE – texts from Sparks Fly, financial literacy for youth. Comports to NYS common core standards and used in STEM programs for K-12

Financial education is a tool for living.  Give students a great start with Sparks Fly!

Discounts are available.  Call 866.556.2432 or email info@sparksfly.org for more information.

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