As a community banker for 15 years, Jessica Vielmas educates families about their finances in a safe, nonjudgmental setting at the Union Bank kiosk inside Children’s Bureau’s Magnolia Place Family Resource Center. There, families can get any of their money questions answered, from what a charge means on their bank statement to how to use an ATM to getting help setting up a savings account.

“We offer banking for the community on their time and on their terms,” Vielmas said. “If they’ve been thinking about something money-related and see my booth when visiting Magnolia Place for a different reason, they might stop by to talk. The goal is to break down the stigma of talking about money.”

On a daily basis, Vielmas loves helping families open the channels of communication about finances because “money is an uncomfortable conversation, regardless of citizenship status and salary.” She was our #BlueandYouChat guest on Twitter in January to share her tips on setting achievable financial goals, the importance of saving, how to talk to your children about money, and much more. Continue reading for the entire Q & A between Children’s Bureau and Jessica Vielmas, community banker at Union Bank.

Children’s Bureau: What percentage of one’s income do you recommend people to save?

Jessica Vielmas: Rather than recommending a percentage to save, I suggest building the habit of ‘paying yourself first’ which means to put a portion of your income into savings after establishing a financial goal, even if you start at $5 a month.

CB: Please share a tip on how to set up an achievable goal.

JV: A financial goal has to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound). When setting a financial goal, I suggest breaking it down by quarter to allow you to adjust if you need and celebrate your successes throughout the year.

CB: What is the importance of keeping track of your spending?

JV: You have to understand, be honest about and review your spending habits in order to create a budget that allows you to save money, pay your expenses and have fun. Bottom line-don’t spend more than you make. Tracking your spending helps you do that.

CB: When is the best time to start talking with your kids about finances?

JV: As a mother of two, I know how naturally inquisitive children are. They are bound to ask about money at an early age. That’s the perfect opportunity to begin the conversations about money that should happen through adolescence and adulthood.

CB: How can parents first teach their children about saving?

JV: When your child gets money for their birthday, show them how to ‘pay themselves first’ by setting aside a portion of their gift into a savings account before they spend the rest on toys, clothes or books.

CB: Please share a tip on how to build credit without accruing credit card debt.

JV: For those in the beginning of their credit card journey, a healthy practice is to use your card on gas and groceries only because those expenses are typically built into your budget/paycheck and are thus easier to pay off monthly.

Whether you’re just starting out in the pursuit of financial education or you’re a seasoned pro, there are always more ways to set yourself up for success and reap the benefits of planning ahead.

If you’d like to set up an appointment with Jessica Vielmas at Union Bank, call her at 213-598-5368.