Financial Skills – Opening a Bank Account

I was surprised when I asked parents to tell me the life skills they wish their kids knew, and there was a resounding request for kids to learn how to open a bank account.

Similarly, there was a huge call out for:

How to budget & balance accounts
How to write checks and pay bills
And how to start saving for retirement

It seems some of the things we take for granted are, as a result, missing from what we teach kids.

This article is the first article in the four-part series and will discuss the best and simplest way to get started with opening a bank account.

It seems easy, but there are several questions many people never think of that we’ll address in this article:

Which bank?
Checking or savings account?
Are there fees or minimum balances?
Should I get a Debit Card too?
Should I have my name on the account with my kid?

1. Choosing a Bank

When you choose a bank, there are a few criteria you’ll want to look at:

Location
Number of branches
Ease of access

The location should be convenient to your home, but also have enough branches so that – in the case of an emergency – you can get to your bank.

I opened an account with Elevations Credit Union when I was attending CU Boulder. It was convenient and credit unions are really great to bank with. However, after I graduated and moved, there were no branches around me, which made things very inconvenient. I ended up opening an account with US Bank since they are in about every King Soopers, where I do my grocery shopping.

This is especially important with kids because you don’t want them to have to drive too far just to bank.

Similarly, ease of access into the branch is important. I remember having a Norwest (now Wells Fargo) account, and getting in and out of the bank’s parking lot was terrible. I had several near-miss car accidents and dreaded even going to the bank.

2. Checking or Savings Account

As you’ll learn in the future article about saving and budgeting, there should be an account that is used for saving and investing.

That means it’s important to have BOTH a checking and savings account.

The reason a checking account is important, is so that kids can learn how to write checks, and have a designated spending account aside from a designated savings account.

Checking accounts are important for paying bills (be it online or via mail) and will give kids the opportunity to learn how to write checks. Even if check writing isn’t as prevalent as it once was, it’s still important.

I was shopping one day and realized I forgot my wallet, which had my credit cards and cash. I started to panic because I needed some food. Fortunately, I keep a couple of checks in the car and was able to save myself by writing a check… they still come in handy!

3. Fees & Minimum Balances

Some banks have fees to have an account and others don’t. Obviously get the one that doesn’t since your kid shouldn’t have a huge account. Likewise make sure there isn’t a minimum balance or a very small ($10 or less) minimum balance.

Just as important is how overdrafts are handled!

When I was in college, it never failed: my peers (who hadn’t learned how to balance an account) would routinely trigger their overdraft protection and the hefty fees that went along with it.

They would look at their balance online and it would show $10. Then they’d check it again a few days later and it was at $30.

It was the magical growing bank account; and they never wondered where the extra money came from. Until the end of the month when they had over $200 in overdraft protection fees!

I would suggest NOT getting overdraft protection and instead making darn sure they can balance their account (which we’ll cover in a future article).

4. What About a Debit Card?

Here’s my thoughts on kids having debit cards: it makes it much, much harder to balance the bank account while making it much easier to overspend and run into trouble.

Are ATM machines convenient? Yes, but I have never once used one in my entire life. Part of teaching kids life skills is to teach them to be prepared. I keep an extra $10 in cash plus a few checks in my car. It wouldn’t bother me if it got stolen.

If you’re determined that your kid gets a debit card, wait at least six months after opening their account so they can learn “the old fashioned way” and understand how the debit card affects their account when they actually start using it.

5. Should I Be On The Account Too?

I think it’s a very good idea for you to be on your kid’s first account so you can monitor their spending and make sure they don’t cause a train wreck.

It’s good to get statements so that you can use that as a learning experience to go over them with your kid and teach them how to properly dispose of them (in a shredder) so that they decrease their risk of identity theft.

Come up with a time frame or benchmarks until you pull yourself off the account and let your kid take on the responsibility of an individual account.

Opening a bank account is a huge step into a new world for kids and it should be a great experience. Walk your kids through the setup and look for the learning opportunities along the way.

Blackjack Side Bets Are Bad Bets – Avoided Them While Playing

Most blackjack games in casinos today offer optional bonus or side bets. Once rare at a basic blackjack table they are becoming more and more widespread. The rational is simple because they carry a huge house edge. Anywhere from 3% to 20% or more compared to the 0.5% edge when playing straight up blackjack while using correct Basic Strategy. The bigger the edge, the more money the house makes.

The side bets do have an upside for the player in that all winning bonus wagers will pay out even if the player loses the original hand, and the large payouts are tempting. If you care to venture in, here are some of the most popular ones:

Twenty-One + 3

This side bet incorporates a little 3 Card Poker excitement into the mix in that your first two cards and the dealer’s up card are the determining factors. After you’ve made your BJ and optional Twenty One + 3 wagers, the combination of the three cards must equal a flush, straight flush, any straight, or three of a kind. The bet wins 9 to 1 on a six or eight deck game. The house edge is about 3%.

Royal Match 21

This one is based on your first two dealt cards:

Any two suited cards pay 2.5 to 1

A suited King & Queen (Royal Match) pays 25 to 1

A player Royal Match & dealer Royal Match in any suit pays 1000 to 1

The maximum bet allowed will vary between casinos. With the outcome based on your first two cards, the house edge is about 6%.

Bet the Set 21

This side bet focuses on your first two cards after you’ve made you’re blackjack wager and a Bet the Set wager. In some jurisdictions this bet is also known as Pair Square. If you are dealt any pair you are paid according to a pre-determined pay table based on the number of decks in play:

Single deck – pair pays 15 to 1

Double deck – pair pays 10 to 1, suited pair pays 25 to 1

Four, six or eight deck – pair pays 10 to 1, suited pair pays 15 to 1

Depending upon the number of decks in play and the pay table which varies between jurisdictions, the house edge varies between 5 & 6%.

Dealer Bust 21

Player wins if the dealer busts with various up cards showing. The winning payouts are paid according to the following table:

Bust with Ace up – Pays 10 to 1

Bust with 10 to K – Pays 4 to 1

Bust with 7 to 9 – Pays 2 to 1

Bust with 2 to 6 – Pays 1 to 1

The house edge is about 10% if the dealer stands on soft seventeen, about 8% if the dealer hits soft seventeen.

Over/Under 13

A player can wager on whether the total of his first two cards will be over, or under, 13. An exact 13 total always loses and Ace always counts as 1. The house edge for the Over 13 wager is 6.5 %, and for the Under 13, it’s 10 %. The side bet is usually offered on six- and eight- deck games.

Pair Square

A player wins if his or her first two cards are the same rank (such as a pair of 8′s). An unmatched pair (like an 8 of Clubs and an 8 of Hearts) pays 10 to 1. A matched pair (like a pair of 8′s of clubs) pays 15 to 1. The house edge is 10.6 %.

Super Sevens

In addition to your blackjack game bet, wager $1 that you will be dealt from one to three sevens resulting in the following payouts:

One seven pays 3 to 1

Two unsuited sevens pay 50 to 1

Two suited sevens pay 100 to 1

Three unsuited sevens pay 500 to 1

Three suited sevens pay 5000 to 1

The house edge is about 12% with no third card dealt and about 11% when a third card is dealt.

Lucky ladies

Here is a bet where any hand totaling 20 wins something. If you’re lucky enough to have a pair of Queens, you’ll win more, as the following pay table shows:

Pair of Queens with a dealer Blackjack – pays 250 to 1

Pair of Queens – Pays 25 to 1

Any suited 20 – pays 9 to 1

Any unsuited 20 – pays 4 to 1

The house edge is between 17 & 20 % depending on the jurisdictions pay table.

Always keep in mind that your bankroll is at a greater risk of a quicker depletion while playing blackjack games and making these tempting side bets.

5 Surefire Ways To Optimize Your Book’s Sell Sheet

Introduction

In order to become, or remain, financially successful as a self-publisher, you must be able to quickly and effectively get your marketing message to your book-buying audience. Your book’s sell sheet is an excellent tool to do this. It’s a perfect marketing tool for offline AND online marketing – because it’s simple to understand, and gets directly to the point.

And, as The Professor likes to say, it’s “no fuss, no muss, no waste, no bother,” for you or the buyer. (He has a many insightful gems like that. I hear them all the time. He has one for every imaginable situation. But, he’s a very wealthy business genius, so we all listen.)

Here Are The 5 Essential Elements To Optimizing Your Sell Sheet:

Optimization Tip # 1: Keep It Simple

The genius of a sell sheet is that it’s quick and easy to read. It’s supposed to convey the most important and pertinent information about your book in a short, simple, and obvious, format. And, it must be appealing to look at and read while doing all of that. All of the information on the sell sheet must only be concerned with your book. No extraneous information necessary. In other words, don’t oversell or exaggerate.

Ask yourself: “What information is absolutely necessary that will help the buyer make the decision to find out more about my book, or go directly to buying it?” Get to it quickly. You only have about 30 seconds to hold onto the person reading your sell sheet. Use every inch of it very wisely.

Optimization Tip # 2: Differentiate Your Book

You’ve all heard about differentiation a million times before. Differentiate yourself, your message, and your book, from your competition. You know this already. If you didn’t already know how to differentiate yourself, your message, and your book, from your competition, BEFORE you wrote your book, you have much bigger problems that a sell sheet can’t fix.

Your message that you want, or need, to share with your reading audience, and how you write about it, needs to come through on your book’s sell sheet. Look at yourself, your message, and your book, from the perspective of your audience, your readers, your customers. Now show them how you and your book are different, or better, or more insightful, for your book’s subject matter, than your competition is.

Optimization Tip # 3: Build Visual Hierarchy

By “visual hierarchy,” I mean that the reader’s eyes should first be drawn to the most important item on you sell sheet. This item, or text, or photo, will probably be the biggest item on the page. This might be the book’s cover, for example. Or the title of the book near the top. You should get the idea here.

Then their eyes should be drawn to the second most important item on your sell sheet. Maybe this is a word or statement about the book’s subject matter. The text here might be bigger or more colorful than the other text on the page. Then on to the third most important information that you want the reader the see next. And so on.

Typically, these items start at or near the top of the page, which is where most people first look it. And when viewing on a computer screen, almost always from the top down. Your goal is to help the reader navigate your sell sheet in a pleasant, visually appealing, and easy to read format.

Optimization Tip # 4: Back Up Your Claims

The person reading your it will decide if you’re qualified to write this book, and help them with their problems, in a matter of seconds. Again, look at yourself, your book, and your sell sheet, from the perspective of the reader.

And then ask yourself several questions: “Is this person believable? Does this person look and sound like he can help me with my problems? Help me improve my life? Help me find the answers I need?” Does he have believable qualifications that prove he can write about this book’s topic?”

Remember, every word and picture on that sheet can help or hurt your credibility. It’s up to you to convey your claims about your book, and about you, to the reader in such a way that’s believable. Too much embellishment, or boasting, and you will lose them – in a matter of seconds – and they won’t come back.

Optimization Tip # 5: Make The Call-To-Action (CTA) Easy

By “easy,” I mean KEEP IT SIMPLE. Provide several uncomplicated ways for the reader to contact you and get more information about you and your book. This can be your telephone number at your office. It can be an email address directly to you. The absolute minimum that you must have is a link to your book’s website or landing page. It can also be a link to the book’s Amazon page.

If your book is available for sale to book stores, libraries, and universities, you should mention that your book is available through book distributors Ingram, and Baker and Taylor, for example. Keep in mind how your book’s demographic, or readers, buyers, customers, and clients, will most likely want to contact you.

Conclusion

Don’t be afraid to have more than one sell sheet for your book. You can create one that is more directed toward your clients that visit your office, for example. One for the people that read your blog. And, you can create one for libraries and schools. You wrote the book, so you already know who your audience, or audiences, is for your book.

Your book’s sell sheet can help you give your audience the appropriate message that is most likely to resonate with them to the highest degree, and help them to make the decision to buy your book.