Family en-US 7 Ways to Help Your Parents Save Money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-to-help-your-parents-save-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use </em><a href=""><em>Skype Credit</em></a><em> to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</em></p> <p>It can be difficult to have financial conversations with your parents as they get older. Maybe your family never really talked about money, or maybe your parents don&rsquo;t want to discuss their financial life because they feel like they&rsquo;d be giving up part of their independence. Whatever the reason, it can make talking about money &mdash; and offering financial help &mdash; difficult.</p> <p>One thing that can make offering assistance easier is helping in ways that don&rsquo;t involve giving your parents money, housing, or other big things they might feel uncomfortable accepting. From helping them find discounts to offering technical assistance, here are seven easy ways you can help your parents save money.</p> <h3>1. Educate Them About Financial Scams</h3> <p>Many scammers target senior citizens &mdash; and older people can have a difficult time recognizing scams, even if they aren&rsquo;t suffering from dementia. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, there are several <a href="">scams that target the elderly</a>, from fake work-at-home training to scammers claiming to be grandchildren in trouble.</p> <p>Educate your parents about the different types of financial scams out there &mdash; <a href="">the government&rsquo;s Stop Fraud website</a> has some great resources. And let your parents know that they can always come to you if they&rsquo;re unsure whether something is real or not &mdash; even if the person who might be scamming them specifically tells them not to talk to anyone else.</p> <h3>2. Review Their Service Contracts With Them</h3> <p>There are a few reasons to look over your parents&rsquo; internet, cell phone, and TV service contracts with them. First of all, they might be on expensive plans that provide more than they need, but not realize it. Look over their usage, and see if they can get by with a less-expensive plan. Secondly, many service providers offer senior discounts. For example, <a href="">in Seattle</a>, cable providers like Comcast and WAVE offer $5 discounts to qualified seniors. Lastly, if your parents are on an Internet or cable plan that used to have an introductory price but is now more expensive, encourage them to call and ask if there are any discounts currently available. Just asking can usually get you back onto promotional pricing.</p> <h3>3. Look for Ways to Reduce Expenses</h3> <p>If your parents aren&rsquo;t sure about what expenses they can cut back on, and they don&rsquo;t have a budget, help them set one up. <a href="">Mint</a> is one of my favorite budgeting and expense monitoring tools &mdash; it automatically pulls in financial information from different financial accounts and tracks spending, so your parents can easily see where their money is going and where they can cut back.</p> <p>There are many ways your parents can reduce expenses without making any sacrifices. For example, if your parents enjoy calling their grandchildren regularly, consider using Skype. We are all familiar with Skype&rsquo;s free software, which allows you to talk to other Skype users for free. But Skype also offers an option called <a href="">Skype Credit</a>, which allows you to call any landline or mobile phone around the world at very low rates (<a href="">see rate information here</a>). The best part about Skype Credit is that there are no long term contracts. You can fill up Skype Credit in $10 increments, so your parents only have to pay for the minutes they need, instead of paying for a flat amount of minutes they might not use. This flexibility is great for older people on a fixed income.</p> <div id="kamidarticle" class="ggnoads" style="text-align:center;"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div style="width:300px; height:250px;" id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h3>4. Offer to Help Them Sell Possessions They Aren&rsquo;t Using</h3> <p>If your parents live in a house cluttered with things they no longer use, offer to help them sell the items. Have a yard sale together, or help them list items on eBay. You can even offer to do something special with the money you both earn, like taking a small trip together.</p> <h3>5. Make Sure They&rsquo;re Getting All of the Benefits They Can</h3> <p>There are many resources available to senior citizens, and they go beyond just Social Security and Medicare. A great place to start looking for additional benefits is <a href=""></a>. Run by the National Council on Aging, this site helps seniors (and their families) discover benefit programs they might not have known about for food assistance, health care, and more.</p> <h3>6. Make Sure They&rsquo;re Utilizing All the Discounts They Can</h3> <p>There are several discounts for senior citizens, available everywhere from grocery stores to movie theaters. Help your parents research additional opportunities they might not be aware of, and make sure they&rsquo;re signed up for AARP. Membership comes with benefits, information, and a <a href="">bevy of discounts</a> on everything from Kindle book purchases to travel to craft stores.</p> <h3>7. Help Them With Technology</h3> <p>Providing tech support to your parents can be a frustrating experience. But think of it this way &mdash; the few minutes that it takes you to help set up your parents&rsquo; printer could save them a $50 trip to the Geek Squad. If you don&rsquo;t live near your parents, you can still help them out by <a href="">sharing screens over Skype</a>, which allows you to view their computer screen and collaborate, so you can easily help them with things like running virus protection or installing new software without trying to explain it to them over the phone.</p> <p>What are your favorite ways to help your parents save money?</p> <p><em>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use </em><a href=""><em>Skype Credit</em></a><em> to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Ways to Help Your Parents Save Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Meg Favreau</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family Lifestyle Skype Credit Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:11:46 +0000 Meg Favreau 1131425 at 5 Difficult Conversations You Have to Have With Your Spouse <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-difficult-conversations-you-have-to-have-with-your-spouse" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple" title="couple" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="165" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As most people in long-term, committed relationships can tell you, open communication is essential to a successful relationship. The good side to this is that you&#39;ll know what&#39;s going on with your partner and what they&#39;re thinking and feeling. The bad side to this is that those thoughts and feelings aren&#39;t always positive. Even if it&#39;s negative, sometimes it&#39;s just better to get it out in the open, rather than letting it fester. (See also: <a href="">How to Stay Married for 29+ Years</a>)</p> <p>If you&#39;re feeling that there is something amiss in your relationship, it may be one of these topics. Here are some tips on how to bring them up and have a positive and constructive conversation.</p> <h2>Finances</h2> <p>If you&#39;ve never heard of the term &quot;financial infidelity,&quot; it essentially means lying (or simply never letting on) to your spouse about debt or financial difficulties. Hiding your debt from your spouse can be a quagmire waiting to happen, especially if your job security becomes compromised. Letting them know that you&#39;re in trouble and, most importantly, are trying to work on it (please try to work on it!) may help alleviate stress in your life, as you&#39;re no longer hiding things from your partner. Letting them in on your financial black marks may also help give you a new perspective on how to climb out of debt. (See also: <a href="">Which Debt Reduction Strategy Is Best for You?</a>)</p> <p>If you&#39;re on the other side of this, however, and have suspicions that your spouse may be spending more than you two are able to support, you need to sit them down and discuss your concerns before it boils over into a screaming match about the latest new purchase coming in the door.</p> <h2>Your Job Situation</h2> <p>Many couples will try to keep bad things in their lives from their partners as a way of protecting the spouse. When it comes to job security, this is a topic that should be brought up at the first definitive signs that something is about to change.</p> <p>If you&#39;re feeling that a layoff may be inevitable, your spouse deserves to know ahead of time so that you two can begin to put a plan into action that makes sure you&#39;re financially and mentally prepared if it does happen. Telling a partner when it&#39;s too late, especially if you&#39;ve known this was coming, is like pulling the rug out from under them and will only lead to trust issues further down the road. (See also: <a href="">How to Survive a Job Loss</a>)</p> <h2>Kids</h2> <p>Some people were just made to be parents. They love kids, they love being around them all of the time, and they understand that parenting is a sea of ups and downs. Then there are the people that have no patience for children and prefer a lifestyle that is less conducive to raising children.</p> <p>If you&#39;ve become committed to a person that is on one of these sides while you&#39;re on the other, it&#39;s important to bring up your feelings sooner rather than later. Hoping that they&#39;ll eventually come around may leave you waiting for a day that may not come and can leave you feeling bitter and resentful. If their stance is unwavering, then it&#39;s time for you to decide if this relationship is going to leave you feeling fulfilled, or if you need more from life. (See also: <a href="">What It Costs to Raise a Child</a>)</p> <h2>Appearance or Lifestyle Habits</h2> <p>&quot;Lifestyle habits&quot; is a nice way of saying that your partner has changed their physical appearance in such a way that you&#39;re no longer attracted to them. This is possibly one of the most difficult conversations to have, as you don&#39;t want to hurt their feelings, but you need to let them know that this is not what you signed up for, and that you&#39;re concerned these changes are putting a negative effect on your love life and their health. Try your best to approach this from a place of love and speak calmly, trying to keep anything resembling a judgmental tone out of it. Think about your words and try to use &quot;I&quot; and &quot;me&quot; more than &quot;you&quot; so that your partner does not feel attacked and become defensive.</p> <h2>Intent vs. Impact</h2> <p>In college I worked for an environmental group that had a progressive workplace policy. One of the key points of the policy was to make sure you were aware of what you were saying (intent) and how it affected others (impact).</p> <p>In life there are emotional needs that everyone has, and more importantly, deserves to have. The needs to feel loved, to be safe, and to feel important are reasons why a person will seek out a companion, and they deserve to feel that these needs are being met. If you feel that your emotional needs (impact) are being neglected, either purposefully or accidentally (intent), then you need to make it clear that something is lacking in your relationship. This can be a delicate subject, as your partner may not even be aware that they&#39;re hurting you. Like the Lifestyle Habit conversation, keeping your side of the conversation to &quot;I&quot; and &quot;me&quot; instead of &quot;you&quot; will help your partner understand that you have feelings that are being hurt, rather than directly accusing them of withholding from you.</p> <p><em>Have you had to have one of these challenging conversations? How did you broach the subject?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Difficult Conversations You Have to Have With Your Spouse" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Megan Brame</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family big talk difficult conversation marriage Fri, 24 Jan 2014 10:48:40 +0000 Megan Brame 1115686 at How to Raise Your Kids to Be Financially Independent <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-raise-your-kids-to-be-financially-independent" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="192" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A recent Pew Research study confirms what most of us already know&nbsp;&mdash; a growing number of adult children are either <a href="">delaying their departure from home or are moving back</a> after a false start.</p> <p>In all fairness to this generation of young adults, they just happened to enter adulthood during a deep, prolonged recession. To make matters worse, this recession has also been accompanied by a fundamental restructuring of our economy; so unfortunately things don't look much better for the generation that follows, either. (See also: <a href="">7 Important Lessons Frugal Parents Teach Their Children</a>)</p> <p>That's something the children can't control. But what can be controlled is how well prepared they are to deal with it. And their success or failure on that score will impact not only their own financial future, but also yours &mdash; for the longer your children remain financially dependent on you, the more it can delay or even jeopardize your retirement.</p> <p>So, what can you as a parent do to reduce the &quot;boomerang&quot; risk and ensure your kids are financially independent?</p> <h2>Set Expectations: Share the Bigger Goal</h2> <p>When raising our two boys we established and tried to achieve three broad goals. We communicated these goals to them early and often. The hope was that if they had a clear understanding of what was expected of them it would help to anchor them and give them focus.</p> <p>We summarized our goals as &quot;IRC&quot;:</p> <ul> <li>Independent (learn to live independently)</li> <li>Responsible (take responsibility and be accountable for your actions)</li> <li>Caring (care for and respect others&hellip;and yourself)</li> </ul> <p>An important part of achieving the first goal &mdash; of becoming Independent &mdash; meant <a href="">learning how to manage their own finances</a>. For help with this we were fortunate to receive some well-timed advice. At our oldest son's first birthday party a couple we knew mentioned that they set up a savings account for each of their children just before they were born. The couple deposited into the accounts every dollar the kids received on birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.</p> <h2>Start Early With Savings</h2> <p>Because the couple started so early, over the years their savings grew to a tidy sum. This was our first lesson, and it got the ball rolling for us.</p> <p>So we immediately opened a savings account for our firstborn. Not just any account, a passbook savings account. Why? Because, unlike a statement savings account, withdrawing money from a passbook account is inconvenient; it requires actually going to the bank &mdash; and during banker's hours no less. But inconvenient is what we wanted, for if making withdrawals was as simple as using an ATM card or clicking a mouse, then it would have been much easier to yield to the temptation of taking out some money &quot;just this one time.&quot;</p> <h2>Make It a Team Effort</h2> <p>Soon our oldest son was joined by a younger brother and before we knew it, they were both in middle school. It was then that we introduced them to their savings accounts and encouraged them to take a more active role in the activity. Whenever money came their way, they accompanied us to the bank. With each deposit came a sense of accomplishment, knowing that they were contributing to a steadily growing savings amount.</p> <p>Also, as an incentive to start adding their own money to the gifts they received from others we contributed a dollar-for-dollar match to each child's own deposit, much like a 401(k) program.</p> <h2>Add Investments to the Mix</h2> <p>Not too long afterwards, we introduced <a href="">an investment component to the mix</a>. Each child (actually, they were young adults now) could allocate a portion of their savings to one or two stocks. In keeping with the &quot;teamwork&quot; philosophy, stock selections were jointly made by the whole family.</p> <p>Adding stocks made things a lot more interesting and also increased their engagement considerably, because it introduced the element of risk. Up until then, there was only one way their savings balance could go&nbsp;&mdash; up. Now it could go down, but it could also rise faster than if it were pegged to the bank's low fixed interest rate on the savings component.</p> <p>Some stock prices did fall, so as these lessons were learned and as they began to understand more about how the stock market worked, we allowed them to make a small number of additional trades. (And to be fair, my wife and I secretly agreed to make them whole if by the time they graduated college their stock picks didn't at least break even.)</p> <h2>Monitor Progress With Financial Statements</h2> <p>By the time the boys were in high school they were fully engaged in this effort. Capitalists that they are, they even started making fairly sizable deposits into the account from after-school job earnings.</p> <p>As &quot;portfolio manager&quot; I created and distributed quarterly account summaries. These summaries helped them monitor their progress and also prepared them for reading and understanding the financial statements they would later receive and use after leaving the nest.</p> <h2>The End Game: Setting a Final Goal</h2> <p>As high school graduation approached, each account had grown to over $15,000. That was considerably more than any of us had expected. With both boys planning to attend four-year college, we decided that the accounts would be turned over to them after earning their undergraduate degrees. This gave us an opportunity for a final shared activity &mdash; goal setting.</p> <p>The logical place to apply the money was on college debt. Average student loan debt for college graduates who borrow is now nearly $30,000, so repaying all or a healthy chunk of it creates an opportunity to begin adulthood in a strong financial position. In our children's case, college was (and continues to be) paid for by dear old Mom and Dad. So they have an even better chance at not only being debt-free when entering the working world, but actually having a considerable amount of savings to help them get &mdash; and hopefully stay &mdash; ahead.</p> <h2>Lessons Learned</h2> <p>When we opened the first savings account around 20 years ago, we didn't know what it would lead to. The activity evolved and changed over time and, for us, it ultimately created an opportunity to accomplish many things.</p> <ul> <li>It introduced our children to the concept of saving and the positive effects of compound interest over an extended period of time.</li> <li>It introduced them to stock market investing, risk, and the learnings that come with failure.</li> <li>It gave our children a hands-on opportunity <a href="">to set and achieve financial goals</a>.</li> <li>It evolved into a process involving engagement, family teamwork, and collaboration.</li> </ul> <p>And it did one other thing &mdash; it gave our children an opportunity to get ahead early in the game.</p> <p>Hopefully the experience will nudge the odds in favor of reducing their financial dependence on us as they enter this brave new world. Perhaps this approach can be used in some fashion by your family or by others close to you to help their children get ahead, too.</p> <p><em>Are you teaching your children how to be financially independent? What does your lesson plan look like?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Raise Your Kids to Be Financially Independent" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Keith Whelan</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Family children and money financial edication money lessons teaching kids about money Fri, 09 Aug 2013 09:48:30 +0000 Keith Whelan 980771 at Investment Allocation by Age: Birth to 10 Years Old <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/investment-allocation-by-age-birth-to-10-years-old" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="kid and piggy bank" title="kid and piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>At first glance, this headline may seem ridiculous. Little Johnny's going to start building his portfolio before he's out of diapers? Little Susie will shun Barbie dolls in favor of shares of Mattel stock? (See also <a target="_blank" href="">How to Financially Educate Your Children</a>)</p> <p>In the first decade of life, investing is mostly something done on behalf of a child. But toward the end of that first decade, it is realistic for a child to begin to understand certain key investing concepts and to even begin investing on their own.</p> <h2>Developmental Stages and Money Understanding</h2> <p>There's some good research about what financial concepts kids can understand at various ages. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education's (NEFE) brochure, <a target="_blank" href="">Simple Steps to Raising a Money-Smart Child</a> (PDF), from ages 2 to 4, kids can start to see that money is a medium of exchange. We exchange money for food, toys, or other products and services.</p> <p>From ages 5 to 7, kids can understand what it means to make trade-offs. I can get one name brand T-shirt for $10 or two store brand T-shirts for $10. And they can begin to distinguish between needs and wants</p> <p>From ages 8 to 10, kids can learn some budget basics. Of my $5 allowance, I'm going to give 50 cents to charity, save $2, and have $2.50 left to spend. They can also learn about the benefits of putting off an immediate reward in favor of a better future reward.</p> <p>The NEFE doesn't mention investing concepts until kids are older than 10. For example, between ages 11 and 13, it says they can begin to understand how <a target="_blank" href="">compound interest and diversification work</a>. Between ages 14 and 18, they can grasp the differences between stocks and bonds.</p> <p>While kids don't all learn at the same pace, it's been my experience (we have three kids, ages 4, 7, and 9) that kids as young as 7 can start to understand what it means to own a piece of a company through stock investing. Even math concepts that are beyond what they're learning in school, such as compound interest, can be understood at about age 8 or 9.</p> <p>Of course, you don't have to wait that long to start putting such concepts to work on their behalf.</p> <h2>Investing for Our Kids</h2> <p>The ideal time to start investing for our kids is when they're newborns. Everyone knows about the high-and-rising cost of college. <a target="_blank" href="">Saving for College</a> provides a helpful (and scary!) College Cost Calculator. Using the defaults, you'll see just how <a target="_blank" href="">important time is to the compound interest equation</a>.</p> <p>For example, you'll need to save a stunning $602 per month starting in your child's first month of life if you'd like to cover all of that child's future college costs. But someone with a 10-year-old that's just starting to save will need to find a whopping $970 per month.</p> <p>As your kids grow in their first decade of life, the more you talk with them about money, the sooner you may be able to get them started with investing.</p> <h2>Start Kids With&nbsp;Stocks</h2> <p>I generally don't advise people to buy individual stocks. I prefer <a target="_blank" href="">mutual funds because of their inherent diversification</a>. However, for young kids, a mutual fund is a very abstract concept. It's easier for a kid to understand that they own a part &mdash; a very, very tiny part &mdash; of Mattel, for example, than it is to understand that their share of an S&amp;P 500 index fund represents a very, very tiny part of 500 leading U.S. companies.</p> <p>It's also easier to understand one company's business. Even really young kids know what McDonald's is all about. You can talk with them about what specific food items they like and why, what commercials they like, the company's competitors, and more.</p> <p>Here are three ways you could help your young kids graduate from consumers to owners.</p> <p><strong>1. A Brokerage Account</strong></p> <p>You need to be 18 years old in order to have a brokerage account in your own name. However, you could open a custodial account on behalf of your child. At age 18 or 21, depending on your state's laws, he or she will gain control of the money, including any money you have contributed on the child's behalf.</p> <p>Here are a couple of the lowest-cost options:</p> <ul> <li>Capital One offers a <a target="_blank" href="">ShareBuilder</a> custodial account with no fees or minimum investment amount. Commissions are $6.95 per online trade. Through the end of 2013, Capital One is offering a nice incentive for opening such accounts. Just open an account and make one trade. The company will add $50 to the account within seven days.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">TD Ameritrade</a> offers custodial accounts, also with no fees or minimum investment amount. Commissions are $9.99 per online trade.</li> </ul> <p>The main downside to using a brokerage account to introduce kids to stocks is that you probably can't receive the stock certificate.</p> <p>Most adult investors don't care about that, but for young kids, the more tangible the learning experience, the better. Getting something they can see and touch for their money &mdash; in this case, a stock certificate &mdash; can be really helpful. The two following companies are set up specifically for that purpose.</p> <p><strong>2. One Share or GiveAShare</strong></p> <p>As the company's name implies, <a target="_blank" href="">One Share</a> specializes in selling stock one share at a time &mdash; along with, for a price, a stock certificate. After opening a custodial account, you'll pay the actual share price for any of over 200 companies, plus $39.95 to receive a stock certificate. It can get pricier from there if you opt for framing, but you could frame it yourself or store the certificate in another way.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="">GiveAShare</a> operates pretty much the same way, although it offers stock from about half as many companies as One Share.</p> <p>If you or your child ever wants to redeem the share, you can do so through a stockbroker or possibly through the issuing company. But the point of buying a share of stock through One Share or GiveAShare isn't to be buying and selling on a regular basis. It's simply to get kids started with investing in a very tangible way.</p> <p><strong>3. Direct Stock Purchase Plan</strong></p> <p>One other option is to buy individual stocks through <a target="_blank" href="">Computer Share</a>, an organization utilized by companies ranging from Domino's Pizza to Nike to sell stock directly to investors. The website is not as user friendly as One Share and fees, minimums, and other fine print vary from company to company.</p> <h2>Will That Be Cash or a Certificate?</h2> <p>The Capital One ShareBuilder incentive offered a perfect opportunity for a little experiment. I asked my 9- and 7-year-old boys which of two options they would prefer.</p> <p>With option A (a ShareBuilder account), they could buy one share of Facebook stock for about $25, and they would receive an extra $50 with which they could buy two more.</p> <p>Or, with option B, they could buy one share of Facebook stock for about $25 and receive a certificate they could mount on the wall of their bedroom (I wanted to keep their out-of-pocket costs the same with both options, so I planned to pay the extra cost for the certificate). Which one do you think they went for? The cash or the certificate?</p> <p>While I had guessed that they would want the certificate, I was still a bit surprised &mdash; and even disappointed &mdash; that they didn't go for the extra cash. But it reminded me that, at this age, stock market investing isn't so much about beating the market as it is getting into the market.</p> <p>By the way, while I was working on this article, I received an excellent suggestion for a third option: Steer the kids toward the cash incentive and make them a DIY certificate!</p> <p><em>What's been your experience with teaching your kids about investing at a young age? And what do you think your kids would go for &mdash; the cash or the certificate?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Investment Allocation by Age: Birth to 10 Years Old" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Matt Bell</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family Investment kids and investing money lessons stocks Thu, 01 Aug 2013 10:24:38 +0000 Matt Bell 980622 at Happily Ever After: How to Stay Married for 29 Years (and Counting) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/happily-ever-after-how-to-stay-married-for-29-years-and-counting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple" title="couple" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="133" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>At the end of this month, my husband and I will celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary. Yes, 29 years. Holy bananas! How time flies!</p> <p>Now, given the current divorce rate, 29 years is a pretty impressive milestone, but what makes it even more noteworthy is that we're not the perfect couple &mdash; not by a long shot. (See also: <a href="">How to Be Happy and Married: 24 Tips from a 24-Year-Old Marriage</a>)</p> <p>Truth be told, he drives me crazy on most days, and judging from the pulsing vein in his forehead and his standing prescription to Xanax, I'd say he feels much the same way about me. And yet, here we are, totally content (for the most part) and excited about what the next 29 years will bring.</p> <p>So, how did we do it?</p> <h2>Walk Your Own Path</h2> <p>My man is a big guy with a dominating personality. It's one of the things I love about him, but it's also a stark contrast to my more &quot;accommodating&quot; nature.</p> <p>Consequently, I spent the first year of our marriage doing my best to keep him happy and avoid any arguments because, well, that's just what I do.</p> <p>Until that is, my mother told me it was &quot;okay&quot; to disagree. &quot;You're married now,&quot; she said, &quot;but that doesn't mean you disappear. It doesn't mean you stop being you.&quot;</p> <p>Of all the advice my mother has ever given me, that is by far the best.</p> <p>All too often, we look to someone else to make us happy, believing that we have to trade our own sense of fulfillment for being in a relationship. We put our dreams on hold and take a big detour off our chosen path, expecting the relationship itself to be enough to sustain us.</p> <p>And then, we're disappointed when it isn't.</p> <p>The thing is, your partner never actually agreed to take responsibility for your happiness, or the lack thereof. They're not supposed to take charge of your journey &mdash; they're just supposed to be there to share it with you.</p> <p>Fortunately, the fix is simple &mdash; don't disappear.</p> <p>Both of you have to be your <a href="">totally authentic and amazing selves</a>.</p> <h2>Love the One You're With</h2> <p>While we're on the subject of authenticity, let's also talk about the importance of acceptance.</p> <p>Many a relationship has ended due to &quot;irreconcilable differences,&quot; and yet many of those differences are often some of the same traits and tendencies we possessed from day one. Granted, we do a decent job of hiding at least some of these traits at the beginning because we're on our best behavior and looking to impress.</p> <p>It's only after we've got a commitment that we begin to let our guard down, and that's when the disillusionment typically begins.</p> <p>Our entertainment adds to that illusion by showing us relationships that are steeped in an unrealistic amount of drama and excitement. We've been bombarded by worlds where true love is akin to magic, where the passion is overwhelming, where the participants always look beautiful, and where the lovers must overcome tremendous odds to win the freedom to finally be together. They'll succeed of course, because True Love always wins out.</p> <p>Even though we know those worlds are fictional, we can't help but be moved by their passion and desire; we want that. And it influences our perception of what a relationship should be.</p> <p>So, it's no wonder that we <a href="">become disenchanted by the day-to-day grind</a> of a real relationship. There are bills to pay, dishes to wash, carpets to vacuum, and toilets to scrub.</p> <p>Your partner is consistently showing you who they really are (and vice versa), so stop being so surprised when those traits and tendencies continue into the relationship.</p> <p>We have a bad habit of seeing people the way we want to see them rather than as what they're showing us. We see the diamond in the rough, full of promise and potential. They just need a good dose of our own special love and guidance to bring it all out.</p> <p>And then we feel betrayed when they don't live up to our expectations.</p> <p>You don't have to love everything about your partner, but you do have to love them for who they are right now &mdash; quirks, eccentricities, and all. If you can do that, you're already on the road to a long and happy relationship.</p> <h2>Learn What Matters and What Doesn't</h2> <p>If my husband and I were to take a compatibility quiz, I can almost guarantee that we'd fail.</p> <p>I love books; he prefers to wait for the movie. He sees life from a very organized, black and white perspective; while I'm a more creative, many shades of gray type of girl.</p> <p>He's atheist; I'm pagan. He likes meat; I like tofu and sprouts. I wanted five kids when we got married; he was &quot;iffy&quot; about maybe having one. And the list goes on and on.</p> <p>We are, for all intents and purposes, opposites of one another. We've obviously had to make some concessions and compromises along the way.</p> <p>But what we realized is that very few issues required an all or nothing approach. We come together on the things that matter: we love our kids, we love each other, and we both believe that there's always room to grow and change.</p> <p>And that's been enough of a foundation to make these last 29 years work. Yes, it's been quite a roller-coaster ride, but then who doesn't love the roller coaster?</p> <p>Maybe that's a tip worth noting as well.</p> <h2>Learn to Roll With It</h2> <p>I have friends who, as soon as a new relationship looks like it might become serious, insist on having lengthy conversations about everything from the number of children they'll have to the amount of money they'll make, and they're willing to call it quits if the answers they get don't match up with their own.</p> <p>But having such a rigid blueprint for the future leaves nothing to chance, and if there's one constant in this universe, it's that anything and everything could change from one minute to the next.</p> <p>Our different personalities and perspectives might mean we have to work a little harder to find common ground, but it also makes that common ground much more exciting and enjoyable. It also almost guarantees that we'll never have to worry about getting stuck in a rut or becoming bored, two things that almost always lead to those irreconcilable differences.</p> <h2>Fight Right</h2> <p>During my stint in the corporate world, I noticed that the guys in the office were able to battle it out in a meeting and then go to lunch as if the altercation had never even happened. That's not to say that all men are masters of this skill or that they aren't capable of being mean and petty and vengeful when they want to be &mdash; they definitely are. But I saw this &quot;fight-and-forget-it&quot; mentality happen with enough consistency, that it prompted me to think about how I approached conflict in my own relationships.</p> <p>Here's what I've learned.</p> <p>First and foremost, it's okay to fight. In fact, it's absolutely expected if you want the relationship to last and the closer you are to someone, the more likely you are to disagree along the way.</p> <p>You and your beloved are two unique individuals, sharing space, and <a href="">making joint decisions that will have a lasting impact</a> on both of your lives. Of course you're going to disagree, and sometimes, that disagreement will become heated. But with a few ground rules, your relationship can survive and even grow from the experience.</p> <p><strong>Ground Rule #1: Don't Take It Personally</strong></p> <p>Many disagreements are just that &mdash; a disagreement, as in &quot;I think this while you think that.&quot; It doesn't mean your perspective isn't equally as valid &mdash; just that your partner doesn't share it. And sometimes that one little insight is the difference between a &quot;discussion&quot; and a knock-down, drag-out, you're-sleeping-on-the-couch fight.</p> <p><strong>Ground Rule #2: Stay on Point and Be Very Clear on What You're Fighting About</strong></p> <p>It's easy to bring up past infractions when it supports your position, but then don't be surprised when your partner becomes defensive. Ditto if you use the words &quot;always&quot; or &quot;never&quot; in your argument. Because now it's not just one issue you don't agree on &mdash; it's his or her character that's in question. And when one of you is defensive, you're no longer having a productive argument.</p> <p><strong>Ground Rule #3: Learn How to Walk Away</strong></p> <p>Fights are supposed to help you get things out in the open and (hopefully) shed some light on how to move forward. When things get too heated, our emotions kick in and we have a tendency to resort to some pretty nasty tactics. That's when you both should walk away. Go cool off, and come back when you're able to be more rational and reasonable. Your fights will be much more constructive.</p> <h2>Learn How to Forgive</h2> <p>You've probably heard the old adage &quot;don't go to bed angry,&quot; and to that, I say &quot;get real.&quot; If we fight in the morning and have all day to cool off, then we might be fine by the time we head off to bed.</p> <p>But if the fight takes place in the evening or if he just really pushes my buttons, then I won't pretend I'm not mad just because we're going to bed, and neither does he. But what we will do is set aside our anger and let the other know we love them, even if we don't like them very much at the moment.</p> <p>Which is enough to allow both of us to end the day. Sometimes, we're fine by the next morning, sometimes we're not, but we both know we'll eventually get back to where we need to be.</p> <p>That's how we're able to say what we need to say when we're having a fight&nbsp;&mdash; we know we're going to make up. No grudges, no paybacks, no penalties of any kind. It makes it easier to fight and it makes it a lot easier to make up.</p> <p>So that's what's helped make the first 29 years of my marriage a pretty solid success. I hope it brings you the peace and happiness that it's brought me.</p> <p><em>How long have you been with the one you're with? What makes it work?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Happily Ever After: How to Stay Married for 29 Years (and Counting)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kate Luther</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family Personal Development communication love marriages relationships Thu, 25 Jul 2013 09:48:31 +0000 Kate Luther 980804 at 10 Budget Design Ideas for a Kids' Playroom <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-budget-design-ideas-for-a-kids-playroom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="family" title="family" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Want to make a cool place for your kids to play, but don't want to spend a fortune? Whether you have an entire room or just a dedicated corner, there are a number of ways to make an affordable play space using some creativity, smart shopping, and items you already have around the house. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="">The Best Money Tools and Toys for Every Age Group</a>)</p> <h2>1. Turn a Wall Into a Chalkboard</h2> <p>A nice touch in any child's play area is a chalkboard. Save the money on fancy easel displays or a full-blown hanging board and just paint a wall area with chalkboard paint. This type of paint is now available in any color and transforms your wall into an actual, erasable chalkboard for a fraction of the cost. <a target="_blank" href="">Benjamin Moore</a> has a great guide to chalkboard paints, as well as some excellent ideas on how to use these paints beyond the walls.</p> <h2>2. Make Your Own Storage</h2> <p><a target="_blank" href="">Storage containers are a necessity</a> to corral the sea of toys most kids seem to have. A great and attractive way to do this on the cheap is to decorate large, sturdy shipping boxes or extra-large diaper boxes. You can try ideas like covering the boxes in brown packaging paper and letting the kids paint or scribble on them. Or, if you are going for a more sophisticated look in a common area, find fabric you love and cover the boxes using glue. I took a hodgepodge of fabric pieces I had lying around and glued them to a giant shipping box to use in our playroom. It makes a great stuffed animal holder.</p> <h2>3. Find Cheap Seating</h2> <p>If you are handy sewing, then by all means making a square floor cushion for the kids to lounge on is easy and economical. However, if you are less than jazzed to fire up a sewing machine, there are still some cheap options. Check out affordable floor pillows and poofs from crafters at <a target="_blank" href="">Etsy</a>, where there are always some very economical, hand-made styles. Don't forget to check sale areas and clearance racks at superstores and discount stores, where there are usually some decent choices, too.</p> <h2>4. Decorate the Walls</h2> <p>Even if your kids are not budding artists, there has to be something they have made in school or at home that can easily get framed and hung on the wall. Some of my three-year-old's abstracts are perfect for this cause. Find a discount frame, and <a target="_blank" href="">you have instant wall decor</a>. Personalizing the space with such creations can add flair to a designated kid's corner or playroom and also make the artist proud.</p> <h2>5. Install Sensible Shelving</h2> <p>If you are looking to add some shelves or small bookcases, many inexpensive options are available to accomplish the task. Some options, such as storage cubes and crates, only cost a few dollars. Single wall shelves that you can install yourself, like those from <a target="_blank" href="">Ikea</a>, are also great options often found for under $20. Or, make a corner useful and look for some budget-friendly, free-standing or wall-installed corner shelves sold at many big box stores. For the more adventurous DIY types, consider other affordable solutions, like <a target="_blank" href="">making your own bookshelves</a>. The possibilities are endless.</p> <h2>6. Look Beyond Kid's Furniture</h2> <p>Often, children's furniture has a huge markup compared to non-kid items. With a little creativity, however, you don't need to buy super expensive kid's furniture to make your playroom complete. Look for cheap coffee tables, other low-height tables, stools, or ottomans that can do double duty as children's tables or seating. I randomly searched online to find a padded, faux leather, living room ottoman for our young daughters to use. There are no sharp corners and it's the perfect height, and it cost all of $40. Or search online to track down kid's tables and chairs on sale, and avoid paying the hefty mark up that many name brand furniture retailers charge for full price items.</p> <h2>7. Organize an Art Area</h2> <p>For kids that like to draw or make crafts, consider designating one of your table finds as an art center. You can easily use your table to keep art supplies lined up in containers and within easy reach. Clean and reuse small jars, such as old jam or salsa jars, to hold pencils, markers, and paintbrushes. You can also paint or wrap ribbon around these holders for a decorative touch. Shoeboxes, which can also be embellished to your liking, are great to store crayons and paper scraps, while small jewelry boxes and old spice jars can hold anything small from beads to glitter.</p> <h2>8. Install Replaceable Flooring</h2> <p>Kids like to play on the floor. This means that any flooring can get worn or messy. Find a cheap carpet that works in your play space to not only create a comfy place to sit, but also limit the damage to your area rug or hardwood. Carpet tiles are a cheap way to accomplish the task and can be re-arranged and cleaned easily as compared to a rug. There are also foam kid's floor tiles and mats, which often cost a bit more than carpet tiles, but are still pretty affordable, not to mention extra cushiony for smaller kids.</p> <h2>9. Monogram on a Dime</h2> <p>Kids love stuff with their names on it. Using monograms on the wall or as labels in a play space is a nice way to decorate and stay organized. You can do cheap stencils on the wall for a just a few dollars by investing in some paint and a craft shop stencil. Or you can find affordable papier mache or large cardboard alphabet letters at craft stores, which can be painted and mounted on the wall or just placed on a shelf. You can also make attractive name labels on your own computer using free templates online, such as the ones found at <a target="_blank" href="">Better Homes and Gardens</a>, which are great for labeling toy boxes and containers.</p> <h2>10. Source Affordable Dry Erase and Bulletin Boards</h2> <p>You can easily add a bulletin board or dry erase board to the wall of any play area for well under $10. Dollar stores sell small dry erase boards that you can line up in a row for kids to scribble on or play games. Craft stores and discount home stores also have bulletin board options for older kids looking to hang pictures or artwork. Little touches like these can help make the play area personalized and more inviting.</p> <p><em>What are your best kids' playroom design ideas? Please share in the comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Budget Design Ideas for a Kids&#039; Playroom" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kelly Medeiros</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family Home Organization budget decorating children's activities games kids' room Thu, 11 Jul 2013 10:24:30 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 980436 at From 0 to 18: Frugal Tips for Every Year of Your Child’s Life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/from-0-to-18-frugal-tips-for-every-year-of-your-child-s-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="mother and daughter" title="mother and daughter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Children are blessings, but raising them from birth to young adulthood can be expensive. Not only do you have to feed and educate them, you also need to clothe and provide shelter for them.</p> <p>Now that my kids are older teens, I can see that I made plenty of mistakes trying to figure out the best way to control family spending. I also made some smart decisions and observed the wise choices friends made in spending for their children. (See also: <a href="" target="_blank">7 Important Lessons Frugal Parents Teach Their Children</a>)</p> <p>Drawing on years of my experience and those of my parenting friends, here are tips on saving for each year of your child's life.</p> <h2>Age 0</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Only get baby essentials</a> and avoid buying (or requesting) items you may not need. Note, however, there are likely to be things you think are ridiculous while pregnant but find extremely useful after the baby is born.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Set up a <a href="" target="_blank">529 college savings plan</a> for your child. Fund the plan with gifts from grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, colleagues.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Find solid foods that are easy for babies to eat but don't involve purchasing baby food. For example, applesauce is great for kids and adults. Also, consider <a href="" target="_blank">making your own baby food</a>.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 1</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Develop a <a href="" target="_blank">babysitting co-op</a> to save on childcare.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Buy clothing and toys at <a href="" target="_blank">community consignment sales</a>. You may be able to shop the preview sale (and snag the best buys) if you volunteer to assist with the event.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Follow frugal mom bloggers like <a href="" target="_blank">Penny Pinchin' Mom</a>, who can alert you to special deals and coach you on saving money at the grocery store and pharmacy.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 2</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Learn to deal with chronic health conditions. Don't fret about every little thing but know that early and consistent intervention can save money and bring better outcomes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Have frugal fun with basic toys and activities that are age-appropriate, such as sand buckets, big blocks, and trips to the playground.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Limit Christmas or holiday gifts to three gifts (or fewer if you are a minimalist).</li> </ul> <h2>Age 3</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Let kids play with <a href="" target="_blank">items that are available around the house</a> or found inexpensively at garage sales, thrift shops, or consignment sales.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Access free services such as speech therapy, which may be available through your town's school system.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Save on <a href="" target="_blank">preschool enrollment</a> by talking to other parents about the best values in your area.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 4</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Encourage your kids to engage in activities they truly enjoy, not the ones you enjoyed as a child or want them to like. They'll be more likely to succeed by pursuing interests they love. Plus, you won't waste money on gear, coaches, and lessons that cause family conflict and lead to nowhere.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cut your child's hair at home using tips from <a href="" target="_blank">this video</a> or these <a href="" target="_blank">step-by-step instructions</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Read to your kids. One of the easiest, cheapest, and best ways to help kids do well in school is to read to them when they are young.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 5</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Find the best public school for your child to avoid private school tuition. This process may involve getting a system transfer, tracking down a great charter school, or moving. Look for engaged teachers, strong parent involvement, and happy children as well as signs of creativity and good test scores.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take advantage of &quot;kids eat free&quot; nights at restaurants.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Buy school supplies when they are on sale. Having items on hand will keep you from paying full price and save time during the school year.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 6</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Sign up for free swimming lessons at community pools.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Save on date night by staying home. Feed the kids early, and enjoy a romantic dinner for two afterward.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take your kids out on the town in the evening for free concerts and entertainment.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 7</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Host <a href="" target="_blank">simple yet memorable birthday parties</a>, such as an afternoon at a local park with ice cream and cake.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Teach your kids to resist the allure of advertised goods.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Save on <a href="" target="_blank">homeschooling materials</a> and try <a href="" target="_blank">frugal teaching methods</a>, useful whether you are homeschooling full-time or supplementing your child's education.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 8</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Have a steady supply of reading material by going to the library and shopping at consignment sales as well as frequenting used book stores or a virtual equivalent, such as <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Visit museums, zoos, and gardens on free community days. Pack a lunch and snacks to avoid paying what are generally high cafeteria prices.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Learn what kid-oriented services are worth spending on. For example, insights from a couple of sessions with an educational psychologist (suggested by one of my son's teachers) helped me to coach him throughout his academic career.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 9</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Support your children's interest in youth programs such as 4-H or scouting, which offer inexpensive ways to develop practical skills and have fun.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Sign your kids up for free summer programs sponsored by community groups, public schools, church groups, etc.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Make memorable and valued teacher gifts</a>, not pricey ones they'll never use. Have your child write a thank-you note. Organize gift giving among parents, combining small donations ($1-$5) for a larger gift from the class.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 10</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Get your kids to clean up after playing with small pieces of games, puzzles, and Lego sets. By keeping things together, you are more likely to be successful when reselling games and toys.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Teach your 'tweens to handle basic household tasks and take steps to conserve energy (and cash) through shorter showers, use of cold water to wash clothes, etc.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Encourage your children to think of <a href="" target="_blank">creative ways to entertain themselves and their friends</a>, such as staging a neighborhood parade or putting together a play for friends and family.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 11</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Take the kids to <a href="" target="_blank">offbeat yet fun vacation spots</a>, which may be much less expensive than more popular places.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Carpool with other parents for trips to special activities, summer programs, and more.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Help your kids to enjoy natural surroundings for free by taking in an early morning or <a href="" target="_blank">night outing</a> at a state park or <a href="" target="_blank">exploring your neighborhood</a>. They may enjoy seeing a sunrise, learning about constellations, or catching a glimpse of wildlife.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 12</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Save on summer camp</a> by signing up early or bringing a friend.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Get dental cleanings, haircuts, and other services from students at your local university, community college, or trade school.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Work with your kids to establish a budget for discretionary spending on things like music, video games, and clothing.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 13</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Find frugal ways for your teen to exercise, if she is not already active. Take a hike at a local park, discover programs that teach a new sport, try a <a href="" target="_blank">free class at the gym</a>, or <a href="" target="_blank">check out other fun ways to get a workout sans spending</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Open a savings account or investment account for your teen so he or she can begin saving or investing.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Help them to learn a trade such as babysitting, mowing grass, or lifeguarding. Not only will they be able to earn money, they won't get (as) bored and on school breaks.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 14</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Take your teens shopping for clothes at Goodwill or thrift shops. They may enjoy unearthing designer labels at steeply discounted prices.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Give your teens freedom with fashion within reason, especially if their choices are frugal ones. For example, let them to wear shorts year-round if it means not buying pants they'll quickly outgrow.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Encourage them to sell their stuff for spending money. Provide guidance on selling via yard sales or eBay.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 15</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Encourage your teens to volunteer and get accustomed to interacting with people with limited resources. Help them to appreciate what they have and better understand the need to be good stewards of money and talents, both frugal life skills.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Teach them that it's okay to zig when everyone else is zagging. This lesson will help them to pursue their own dreams, rather than wasting time and money chasing things they think others expect them to do.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Keep open communications so they will tell you about their plans (good and not-so-good) and their friends' habits. Don't judge, but help steer them in the right direction, so they can avoid making stupid and costly mistakes.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 16</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Take advantage of free tutoring or assistance available at the school before paying for outside help. Ask friends to help if teacher instruction is not available.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't rush your teens to get their driver's licenses; enjoy teen-free auto insurance rates as long as you can.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Encourage your teenagers to learn <a href="" target="_blank">money management skills for free</a> at places like the Boys &amp; Girls Clubs.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 17</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Use free <a href="" target="_blank">college-planning resources</a> available in your community.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Save money on college by taking AP classes in high school or attending early college to earn a combination Associate's degree and High School Diploma.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Increase the likelihood of getting a<a href="" target="_blank"> college scholarship</a> by starting to apply before senior year in high school.</li> </ul> <h2>Age 18</h2> <ul type="disc"> <li>Let your kids do research on colleges and universities so they can see firsthand how inexpensive in-state tuition is compared to private and out-of-state colleges and universities.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Get <a href="" target="_blank">college application materials</a> early to avoid paying late or rush fees for applications and related fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Find the best price for college textbooks using a pricing aggregator such as <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</li> </ul> <p>I've learned that we cannot (and should not) spend on everything that's marketed to parents and their children. Sorting through what's worthwhile and what's not is often easier understood in hindsight, because what's right varies among families. Spending strategically can save money, reduce stress, and encourage kids to consider priorities.</p> <p><em>How have you saved money when raising your children? What has been your most meaningful purchase as a parent?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="From 0 to 18: Frugal Tips for Every Year of Your Child’s Life" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Julie Rains</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living Family frugal child rearing frugal families money saving for families Wed, 10 Jul 2013 10:36:30 +0000 Julie Rains 980375 at The 5 Best Parenting Books <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-parenting-books" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="pregnancy" title="pregnancy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As a clueless first-time parent, I inhaled parenting books from the moment I found out I was pregnant. I went down the list of popular and highly rated books on Amazon, dutifully borrowed them from the library, and read each word. For the most part, they're a blur of contradictory tips and alarming scenarios. However, there are a few of them that stand out with advice I am grateful to have come across and highly recommend to other parents.</p> <p>Of course, we live in a country where judging parents and their kids is a national pastime. There are inconsistent studies and advice coming from the same doctors. There is no perfect way to raise a child. Every child is different. No one knows your own family. Yada yada.</p> <p>These are books that I recommend not because I think they are <em>the</em> bibles to parenting, nor do I wholeheartedly agree with and endorse every single piece of advice in them. I recommend these books because I found them to be insightful and helpful in giving me a different perspective or strategy, one that I wouldn't have intuitively known. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="">What a New Baby&nbsp;Really Needs</a>)</p> <h2>Bringing Up Bebe</h2> <p>I just finished &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1594203334&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting</a>,&quot; and boy do I wish I had read this before my little boy came along. French kids are well-behaved and healthy, and they sleep through the night at two months. My 17 month old sleeps through the night occasionally, and by that I mean he wakes up once. I don't know if the French method would have worked on him, but I sure wish I had known to have tried. Now, the entire French parenting philosophy might seem a bit extreme, maybe cold and harsh, and there is a lot of criticism of American parents. If you find that hard to swallow and are completely in the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1371170265&amp;sr=8-3&amp;tag=babybr03-20">Dr. Sears</a> camp, this book is not for you. But I found this to be an eye opening example of how to be a firm but loving parent in order to have well-mannered kids and still enjoy life outside of being a mom. I heart this book!&nbsp;</p> <p>If you want to read more about the French parenting method, or how to not have a picky eater, check out &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0062103296&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">French Kids Eat Everything</a>.&quot;</p> <h2>The Happiest Toddler on the Block</h2> <p>I read his &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0553381466&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">The Happiest Baby on the Block</a>,&quot; and I thought it was just okay. The five Ss strategy didn't really work for my baby (although the SHHHH did...sorta). My sister-in-law swears by it though, and it's very popular, so I think it's a safe one to pick up for a gift or yourself. They also have a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0006J021C&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">DVD</a>.</p> <p>However, I really, really liked &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0553384422&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">The Happiest Toddler on the Block:&nbsp;How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year Old</a>&quot; (also available on <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0001ZJQ72&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">DVD</a>). It gave a very anti-intuitive way to deal with toddlers and their ever increasing frustrations. I see that it works very well with my niece, and I'm using it a lot on my 17 month old. It really seems to do the trick (most of the time) in calming him down when he's erupting.</p> <h2>NurtureShock</h2> <p>I'll use a word from one of the reviews on &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0446504130&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children</a>&quot; &mdash; revelatory. There are a lot of &quot;conventional wisdom&quot; myths that are dispelled with hard research. It talks about why praise is damaging, the cause behind the moody, sulky, angry teenager (it's not hormones, but something completely avoidable), and the profound reason why kids lie (we tell them to). It'll blow your mind.</p> <h2>Brain Rules for Babies</h2> <p>&quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008W3I4SM&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">Brain Rules for Babies: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child From&nbsp;Zero to Five</a>&quot; is the book that my husband will recommend to every new parent (especially dads!). He's an engineer, and he likes facts, please. This book is for all the parents who want to know <em>how do I get my kid into Harvard</em>? He answers this question, I&nbsp;promise.</p> <h2>How to Talk So Kids Will Listen &amp;&nbsp;Listen So Kids Will Talk</h2> <p>My son isn't quite at the age yet where these tips can be used on him, but I'm hoping that they will work and faciliate a more communicative relationship. It's like <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0553384422&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20"><em>Happiest Toddler</em></a> but for older kids. So much of parent-child communication is tangled by a lack of empathy on the parents' part. They think because they <em>know</em> better, their kids should automatically listen and believe them. Obviously those parents don't remember what's it like to be a kid &mdash; the one who <em>also</em> thinks she knows better. &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1451663889&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">How to Talk So Kids Will&nbsp;Listen &amp; Listen So Kids Will Talk</a>&quot; gives very clear instructions on how to break through those biases and actually hear each other.</p> <p>That's it?? What about all those sleep books? Guides to pregnancy? Childbirth? Breast feeding?&nbsp;</p> <p>I read those, too. All of them, it feels like. I read the entire 2.5 pounder, &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0316778001&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">The Baby Book</a>&quot; by Dr. Sears. I read a ton of books on breast feeding, watched documentaries on childbirth. I read <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0743201639&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">Ferber</a>, the &quot;cry it out&quot; guy. Then&nbsp;I read &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0071381392&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=babybr03-20">The No-Cry Sleep Solution</a>.&quot; I wanted to know everything that was going to happen, anything that might go wrong and how to deal with it. I wanted to know every single sound or movement my baby might make during his first few weeks. And of course I&nbsp;wanted to know how to raise a confident, smart superhero.</p> <p>In the end, none of those books were ever helpful. Reading them made me <em>feel</em> prepared, but what actually happened wasn't the way it was described in the books. Birth, breast feeding, the first few weeks...we had problems that were never mentioned in the books, and if they were mentioned, the solutions listed didn't work. Whatever popped up, like the hundred things that went wrong while breastfeeding, we had to Google or, more helpfully, hash out with a lactation consultant.</p> <p>These five books I&nbsp;felt were actually worth the time it took away from whatever else I could have been doing (resting, napping, relaxing).</p> <p><em>Disclaimer: I did not receive any of these books free to review. I borrowed or bought these books on my own and have selected them without any outside influence.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 5 Best Parenting Books " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Lynn Truong</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family babies new parents parenting Parenting books toddlers Thu, 27 Jun 2013 10:24:30 +0000 Lynn Truong 978155 at 10 Meaningful, Money-Saving Ways to Celebrate Dad <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-meaningful-money-saving-ways-to-celebrate-dad" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Father&#039;s Day" title="Father&#039;s Day" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Showing Dad you love him doesn't have to mean sending him on an expensive golf vacation or buying him a new camera. The special day should be all about connecting with him, and there's no better way to do so than by spending some quality time together. Here, we've rounded up meaningful activities you can do no matter where you live or what budget you have &mdash;&nbsp;all the activities are free or cost very little. Cheers to being fun and frugal with Dad!</p> <p><a href="">RELATED:&nbsp;Make Coffee Ground&nbsp;Soap for Dad</a></p> <h2>1. Pack a Picnic</h2> <p>Picnics are for spending quality time with loved ones, and that certainly includes Dad. Take time to pack snacks you know he'll like, and head to the park for a day of sun and making memories.</p> <h2>2. Play Tourist</h2> <p>Make like a tourist and see sights in your own city that you often overlook. If Dad grew up there, he might even share some stories of his younger days around the block.</p> <h2>3. Browse Books</h2> <p>Whether it's at a local bookstore or public library, you two can get lost for hours surrounded by books. Discuss which genres are your favorites and why, buy one another a favorite book, or take home the same book so you can start your own book club for two.</p> <h2>4. Take a Cooking Class</h2> <p>Get ready to roll up your sleeves for some quality cooking time with Dad. Many culinary schools and even locals will open up their doors and homes to teach you how to make a delicious meal at a fair cost.</p> <h2>5. Play Mini Golf</h2> <p>He doesn't have to be a big golfer (or a middle schooler) to appreciate the fun that comes with a good game of mini golf. Other similar and budget-friendly ideas include bowling or hitting the batting cages.</p> <h2>6. Watch Home Movies</h2> <p>Break out those VHS tapes collecting dust in your drawers and take a trip down memory lane by watching homemade movies with Dad. You'll not only get to see how much you've changed, but you can also poke fun at Dad's camera skills.</p> <h2>7. Tour an Art Gallery</h2> <p>You'd be surprised at how many art galleries &mdash; and even big museums &mdash; open their doors for free or offer discounts. Bond with Dad while strolling past beautiful paintings and sculptures.</p> <h2>8. Go For a Hike</h2> <p>There's nothing like some fresh air and scenic views to enjoy the day. If Dad is someone who likes to hike a lot, ask him to take you on his favorite trail.</p> <h2>9. Go Wine Tasting</h2> <p>You don't have to travel to the vineyards of Napa to enjoy some wine tasting with Dad. Do so right at home by looking up wine bars and clubs that typically offer samplings at an affordable cost.</p> <h2>10. Learn Your Family History</h2> <p>It's not very often that we sit down with our parents to learn about their upbringings. Take this time to go through old family photos or mementos with Dad; ask him about his grandparents and to tell you all that he knows about your family's genealogy.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Father&#039;s Day isn&#039;t about pricey ties and expensive steaks; it&#039;s about honoring a man you love. Show how much you care with these frugal suggestions. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align:center;"><a style="border:none;" href=""><img width="300" height="95" src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p><em>This is a guest contribution from our friends at </em><a href=""><em>POPSUGAR Smart Living</em></a><em>. Check out more useful articles from this partner:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="">15 Affordable Presents for Dad</a></li> <li><a href="">8 Best Book Gifts for Your Type of Dad</a></li> <li><a href="">24 Fun and Free Things to Do This Weekend</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">POPSUGAR Smart Living</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living Family dad Father's Day Wed, 05 Jun 2013 10:36:35 +0000 POPSUGAR Smart Living 977938 at How a Big Family Survives in a Home With One Bathroom <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-a-big-family-survives-in-a-home-with-one-bathroom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="bathroom" title="bathroom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Growing up in an old farmhouse, I shared a single, tiny bathroom with my mother, father, and sister. It was actually a converted closet between two bedrooms. You had to wake someone up to use it in the middle of the night. (See also: <a href="" target="_blank">How Big of a House Do You Really Need?</a>)</p> <p>Today, I am blessed to have a three-bedroom ranch with a bathroom accessible from the hallway and that&rsquo;s large enough for everyone to be in at the same time &mdash; if need be. With a total of seven in the house (soon to be eight), however, I would be lying if I said that it was an ideal situation. Here are my best tips for coping with a single water closet, even with a large family.</p> <h2>1. Close Off the Toilet</h2> <p>Let&rsquo;s be honest; the main reason people need a bathroom is to &quot;do their business.&quot; While we can have the entire family in the bathroom brushing their teeth, we each need privacy when it comes time for private matters. If you have the ability to add a wall and door between the sink area and the toilet, you can entertain more multitasking without losing decency.</p> <h2>2. Add Another Sink</h2> <p>Our 1960&rsquo;s style bathroom has a countertop and mirror that goes the entire length of the bathroom. And one tiny sink. Obviously, we will be adding another small sink to the setup, giving the room a &quot;his and hers&quot; option for hygiene matters. (If you&rsquo;ve ever had to spit your toothbrush water at the same time as a sibling, you understand the value here.)</p> <h2>3. Reward Off-Peak Use</h2> <p>We homeschool, so there isn&rsquo;t the usual rush to get everyone showered, dressed, and out the door all at once. We still have what we call &quot;peak hours,&quot; however, when everyone seems to need to use the bathroom at the same time. If you have some flexibility with when you let kids bathe, encourage them to do so during hours when the bathroom is most likely to be empty. This can be earlier than when other family members wake up, or when the rest of the house is gaming or reading. The reward can be anything from an extra five minutes on the shower clock to access to a fancy body wash to just knowing that there will be enough hot water to see the process through.</p> <h2>4. Remove &quot;Non-Bathroom&quot; Essentials</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;ve ever held together a bleeding knee gash while you wait impatiently for a child to do their number two, you know how frustrating it can be to have to share a bathroom. Luckily, there&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank">a common sense way</a> to make sure you are never waiting for a toiletry, towel, or first aid item when the room is occupied. Clear out a small shelf in your kitchen cupboard and designate this as your backup storage for these items. (You could also install a simple hall shelving system between two studs for these items to reside full-time.)</p> <h2>5. Set Up Hygiene Stations Elsewhere</h2> <p>Does it really matter what room your brush your teeth in? How about curling your hair? If you have preteens and teens in the home, they really should be handling most primping activities inside their own rooms, if possible. As far as brushing teeth and washing hands go, keeping a small but clean area for these activities near a utility or kitchen sink can keep the bathroom chaos down significantly.</p> <h2>6. Avoid Creating an &quot;Enjoyable&quot; Bathroom Experience</h2> <p>We all admittedly like to relax a bit when we <a href="" target="_blank">retreat to the bathroom</a>. As a mom of five, you could lose an eye for telling me I must rush when I get the chance to sneak away for a shower or bathroom break. For children, however, there isn&rsquo;t as much as a need to create an atmosphere of serenity in the bathroom. Remove reading materials or distractions that could keep them in the potty longer than they need to get the job done.</p> <h2>7. Embrace and Reinforce Manners</h2> <p>I&rsquo;ve heard of families with one bathroom per child, and they still had issues fighting over them. To me, it&rsquo;s not always about having enough bathrooms in your home; it&rsquo;s about learning to <a href="" target="_blank">get along with others</a>. There are many times in life when you&rsquo;ll be asked to share real estate: in college, on airplanes, or when you marry, for example. Teaching kids that they aren&rsquo;t entitled to anything (bathrooms included) will go a long way in helping them to learn to be patient, regardless of the square footage at their disposal.</p> <p>How many bathrooms did you grow up with? Chances are, it&rsquo;s far less than what you expect from a modern home today. Even if you didn&rsquo;t get the home layout of your dreams, you can make the one bathroom scenario work!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How a Big Family Survives in a Home With One Bathroom" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family bathroom roommates sharing small houses Mon, 03 Jun 2013 09:48:34 +0000 Linsey Knerl 976254 at 7 Places Teens (and Adults) Can Learn About Money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-places-teens-and-adults-can-learn-about-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="students" title="students" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all want to encourage financial literacy in our teens (and ourselves). But what exactly does that mean, how is financial literacy best accomplished, and where can you go to learn? (See also: <a href="">The Best Money Tools and Toys for Every Age Group</a>)</p> <h2>What to Learn</h2> <p>Financial literacy is defined by the <a target="_blank" href="">National Financial Educators Council</a> as &quot;possessing the skills and knowledge on financial matters to confidently take effective action that best fulfills an individual's personal, family and global community goals.&quot;</p> <p>At the practical level, courses and workshops on financial literacy typically cover one or more of these topics:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>Earning</li> <li>Budgeting</li> <li>Spending</li> <li>Borrowing</li> <li>Saving</li> <li>Investing</li> </ul> <p>Developing financial literacy and competency is a two-step process. First, learn foundational, timeless principles for managing money (e.g., spend less than you earn to save money; take more risks to earn higher investment returns).</p> <p>Next, develop an understanding of real-life practices, which evolve with trends and technology. For example, comparison shopping and investing today is much different than years ago before mobile apps and <a target="_blank" href="">online discount brokerages</a>. <a target="_blank" href="">Regulations pertaining to taxes</a>, saving for retirement, handling financial transactions, and more also change frequently.</p> <p>Understanding a general principle is important and then learning how things work within the current context is crucial for navigating personal finance.</p> <h2>How to Learn</h2> <p>In my experience, the best way to learn is to gain knowledge about key topics and then field test principles in the real world.</p> <p>For example, I've discovered that some banks are more likely to alert you to problems or waive fees than others, despite what their printed materials may state. Similarly, the concept of risk tolerance is best grasped by gauging my reaction to investment losses following bad economic news, not by listening to a lecture about market fluctuations.</p> <p>The hands-on approach reinforces concepts in ways that simply consuming information cannot. Still, personal trial and error can be a costly way to learn. Talking with your parents, friends, and colleagues about their experiences can be an effective way to gain insights into financial matters without the money-related consequences.</p> <p>An effective program is project-based, fun, interactive, and relevant to current needs according to Jim Clark, President and CEO of the <a target="_blank" href="">Boys &amp; Girls Clubs of America</a>. His organization offers a financial literacy course that has educated more than 500,000 teenagers since its inception about 10 years ago. He attributes its success to a design that &quot;puts concepts into practice through experience.&quot;</p> <h2>Where to Learn</h2> <p>There are many places to learn about personal finance, many likely available in your area. Take advantage of opportunities in places you already go, like high school or the library, or seek out courses beneficial in helping you to make good decisions without angst. Here are several places that you may want to check out.</p> <p><strong>1. Boys &amp; Girls Clubs of America</strong></p> <p>The Boys &amp; Girls Clubs of America offers <a target="_blank" href="">Money Matters</a>, a program developed and sponsored by the <a target="_blank" href="">Charles Schwab Foundation</a>.</p> <p>An adult facilitator who is a positive personal-finance role model guides participants through lessons that include discussions of real-life experiences in a small group setting. These talks include challenges that teens face, such as finding money to attend college and lessons learned from mistakes, such as bouncing a check or getting dinged with late fees. Through sharing of struggles and triumphs, along with adult mentoring and guidance, teens learn good financial practices from each other plus receive support and encouragement.</p> <p>Teens are kept engaged by being recognized for their efforts and given a forum to &ldquo;show off.&rdquo; For example, Money Matters graduates are recognized for completing the program and are eligible for college scholarships. They can also participate in the <a target="_blank" href="">Money Matters Music Mogul</a> contest.</p> <p><em><strong>Adult Version:</strong></em></p> <p>For adults 50 and older, AARP offers a three-part workshop entitled <a target="_blank" href="">AARP Foundation Finances 50+</a>, a new program also developed and sponsored by the Charles Schwab Foundation. Face-to-face guidance is offered in several metropolitan areas. The participant guide and volunteer leader guide are available for <a target="_blank" href="">free (you can download files or order a printed copy</a>).</p> <p><strong>2. Student-Run Banks and Credit Unions</strong></p> <p><a target="_blank" href="">Banks and credit unions</a> may have branch offices in local high schools. Students who help run the branches can develop working knowledge of banking systems. Often, hands-on experience is combined with a business class associated with the bank or credit union operations.</p> <p>Teenage customers can open and manage their accounts at these branches, allowing them to become familiar with banking practices. Specific skills they gain are basic but essential, such as how to open an account, make a bank deposit, check an account balance, and withdraw money for expenses. Plus they can learn that though banking services are often available 24/7 online, branch offices have limited hours.</p> <p><em><strong>Adult Version:</strong></em></p> <p>Local credit unions may offer educational resources that cover topics such as establishing credit, borrowing for your first home, and general money management.</p> <p>For instruction on how your checking account and savings account work, arrange to sit down with a knowledgeable representative. They should be able to explain monthly and transaction-based fees, ways to minimize fees, and methods of avoiding a shortfall or insufficient funds for payments you initiate.</p> <p><strong>3. High School Civics and Economics Classes</strong></p> <p>Though both of my kids have taken required coursework in civics and economics, the class seemed to make the biggest impression on my youngest son.</p> <p>Most memorable was the documentary &quot;Maxed Out,&quot; which the teens watched in class. The film covers predatory lending practices of many financial institutions. My son&rsquo;s synopsis of lessons learned: &ldquo;you go to college, you get a credit card, you max out the credit card, and then you die.&rdquo;</p> <p><em><strong>Adult Version:</strong></em></p> <p>&quot;Maxed Out&quot; is available for <a target="_blank" href="">viewing online</a> and through streaming services, such as Netflix.</p> <p><strong>4. Scouting Programs</strong></p> <p>Scouting programs, such as Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts, offer many ways for teens to learn about personal finance and money management. Fund-raising activities for camping trips, special outings, and troop operations can help kids of all ages understand that money is needed for various activities. Plus, there are <a target="_blank" href="">lessons to be learned from Girl Scout cookie sales</a>.</p> <p>Badges for <a target="_blank" href="">financial empowerment in Girl Scouts</a> (PDF) cover topics such as budgeting, comparison shopping, establishing credit, saving for large purchases, and entrepreneurship. The <a target="_blank" href="">Boy Scouts&rsquo; Personal Management merit badge</a> deals with planning for major purchases, making decisions about investing, household budgeting, and more.</p> <p><em><strong>Adult Version:</strong></em></p> <p>Parents can learn by teaching badges or sitting down with their teens as they cover the curriculum. They may find badge exercises to be useful, such as <a target="_blank" href="">tracking income, expenses, and savings for 13 weeks</a> (PDF).</p> <p><strong>5. College Classes</strong></p> <p>Many colleges and universities offer personal finance classes as part of their degree programs. Courses may be focused in investments, fixed income, real estate investing, and entrepreneurship. Learn in your teenage or young adult years before entering the workforce or starting a business.</p> <p><strong><em>Adult Version:</em></strong></p> <p>Pick up classes at your local university or community college offered through <a target="_blank" href="">continuing and professional education</a>. Choose among courses such as personal taxation, retirement planning, and investing.</p> <p><strong>6. Community Venues</strong></p> <p>Community venues, such as public libraries, often host financial literacy workshops and classes for teens. Topics covered may include <a target="_blank" href="">investing</a>, <a target="_blank" href="">saving for college</a>, and <a target="_blank" href="">managing a bank account</a>.</p> <p><em><strong>Adult Version:</strong></em></p> <p>Seminars and workshops on financial topics for adults are generally available at public libraries and community centers. Multi-week courses, such as <a target="_blank" href="">Financial Peace University</a>, are often held at churches and other houses of worship or community gathering places.</p> <p><strong>7. Home</strong></p> <p>You can learn about money at home, often in collaboration with your parents, siblings, and friends.</p> <p>Things that my teens have learned recently include how to:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>Sell items on eBay</li> <li>Get college textbooks and supplies at a discount</li> <li>Transfer money from PayPal accounts to bank accounts</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="">Delay spending</a> to get a price reduction</li> <li>Forgo spending to save for future needs</li> <li>Set aside gifts and windfalls for large purchases</li> </ul> <p>They&rsquo;ve also learned that savings accounts pay very little interest right now though having money set aside is valuable by itself.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s much more to learn but I&rsquo;ve found that teens learn best when financial lessons are timely and relevant. Instructors can be parents, sisters and brothers, and friends who are willing to provide guidance and give ideas on what has worked for them.</p> <p><em><strong>Adult Version:</strong></em></p> <p>When you are ready to make a financial decision, learning all about a subject is desirable. Tapping the knowledge of your spouse, parent, friend, or even teenager can help you navigate personal finance issues.</p> <p>A big difference between adults and teens, though, is that there are many topics you need to understand now, before a crisis or major financial decision. For example, you can&rsquo;t wait until retirement to figure out how to generate income for household expenses. You must learn today how to develop streams of income to fund your retirement in the future.</p> <p>Many financial literacy programs encourage you to apply concepts while you are participating. If not, though, act on your own. Open an IRA and start investing soon after you finish an investing class, for example. The sooner you use newly acquired knowledge, the better for your financial literacy and the faster your financial savvy will grow.</p> <p><em>Where have you learned financial literacy?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Places Teens (and Adults) Can Learn About Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Julie Rains</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Family children and money financial education financial literacy teens Fri, 17 May 2013 10:24:31 +0000 Julie Rains 974090 at 6 Totally Free Babysitting Alternatives <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-totally-free-babysitting-alternatives" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="babysitting" title="babysitting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're married with young kids, getting out of the house and enjoying a date together can really add up:</p> <ul> <li>$35.00 for dinner</li> <li>$25.00 for a movie and popcorn</li> <li>$30 for babysitting</li> </ul> <p>Sometimes when young couples start adding up all the numbers they come to an unfortunate conclusion &mdash; they can't afford to go on dates. Sure, you <a href="" target="_blank">could reduce the cost</a> of dining out by finding a cheaper establishment. You could even skip the movie and go for a walk instead. However, if you want to be able to get out of the house, babysitting is a hard expense to avoid &mdash; without a little creativity. (See also: <a href="" target="_blank">How to Save on Babysitting Without Ending Up on the Local News</a>)</p> <h2>1. Ask the Grandparents</h2> <p>Yes, this is an option that will only apply to a limited number of people who happen to be fortunate enough to live in the same town as their parents. But if you do live in the same town as your parents, then I'm betting your kids already enjoy every chance they have to spend time with grandma and grandpa, and affordable, reliable babysitting isn't really a problem for you.</p> <h2>2. Swap Babysitting With Another Couple</h2> <p>We have some close friends who have young children. Since babysitting is expensive for both of us, we agreed to a biweekly babysitting swap. Not only did we each get a date once a month, but our kids looked forward to date nights because they got to play with friends. When kids have the opportunity to play with other kids their age, they'll welcome the dates with as much anticipation as mom and dad.</p> <h2>3. Join or Create a Baby Sitting Co-Op</h2> <p>Last year our church started a babysitting co-op. Parents could leave their kids at the church while two of the other parents stayed and did the babysitting. Each child brought something to eat for dinner and the babysitters selected a kid friendly movie for the kids to watch. The only rule was that if you left your kids you needed to be sure to take a turn babysitting in the future. If there are six to eight couples on an evening, all but one of them were able to go on a date without an extra expense for babysitting. Again, the kids look forward to their night out as much as parents do.</p> <h2>4. Exchange Services</h2> <p>If you typically have a teenager babysit for you, it's possible that you could help them with something that <a href="" target="_blank">they would consider more valuable than money</a>. This could include something like tutoring them in school or coaching them in a sport.</p> <h2>5. Double Date With Other Parents</h2> <p>This suggestion may seem like it's breaking the rules, since typically most people think dating is about spending time together as a couple. However, if you're more in the mood for getting out of the house and doing something fun, then consider a double date with another couple that has kids. We've had other couples come over to our house and the kids typically entertain themselves. On other occasions, we've met couples somewhere like Chick-Fil-A with a play area. Usually, the kids play while the adults can hang out and enjoy adult conversation.</p> <h2>6. Be Friends With&nbsp;People Who Don't Have (but Do Like) Kids</h2> <p>A few weeks ago we were shocked when some friends who don't have kids asked if they could babysit for us so we could have a date. We've spent time with the couple on several occasions and they told us how much they enjoy kids &mdash; especially how much they enjoy being around <em>our </em>kids. I don't know how you develop a strategy around this, but I guess if people like being around your kids you might have some free babysitting opportunities arise. All this time we thought we were raising well-behaved kids <a href="" target="_blank">for <em>their </em>own good</a>.</p> <p><em>What babysitting options have you tried?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 Totally Free Babysitting Alternatives " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Craig Ford</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living Family affordable family entertainment babysitting date night Mon, 13 May 2013 10:24:32 +0000 Craig Ford 973429 at Getting Your Money Back Without Losing Your Friendship <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/getting-your-money-back-without-losing-your-friendship" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="friends" title="friends" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whenever you lend money to friends or family, there&rsquo;s a decent chance you won&rsquo;t see that dough again.</p> <p>One reason could be that expectations and repayment terms weren&rsquo;t discussed beforehand &mdash; for which the giver and receiver are both at fault &mdash; but another reason could be that the person to whom you lent money just isn&rsquo;t courteous, which is not your fault at all. (See also: <a href="" target="_blank">Borrowing From Friends: The Friendship Killer</a>)</p> <p>Alas, while I&rsquo;d generally advise you <a href="" target="_blank">to err on the side of caution before</a> you part with your hard-earned cash to anybody for personal reasons, sometimes giving someone a personal loan may be necessary. I get it. Things come up. Still, if you were generous enough to help that person out when they were in a financial bind, they should be grateful enough to pay you back.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s never easy asking someone to give you your money back, but it has to be done &mdash; lest you get walked all over and become an ATM for everyone you know. To make the situation a little less awkward, here are a few tips.</p> <h2>1. Keep in Touch Regularly</h2> <p>You have no reason to stop talking to the person you lent money, but they sure do &mdash; especially if you&rsquo;ve lent them a large sum of money and they have no means of paying you back in the near future. With that in mind, make sure you maintain regular communication &mdash; as frequently as before, at least &mdash; so they&rsquo;re constantly reminded of the debt they owe you just by <a href="" target="_blank">seeing you or talking to you</a>. Some people will try to avoid you in this case, but don&rsquo;t let it happen. If someone seems like they&rsquo;ve taken your money and run, it&rsquo;s not a good sign. Continue the relationship as it was before so you can eventually get what you&rsquo;re owed.</p> <h2>2. Don&rsquo;t Pester at First</h2> <p>You shouldn&rsquo;t lend someone money if you&rsquo;re going to hound them two days later demanding that you be repaid. This is where the expectations of repayment play a large part in how you go about settling the debt. If the person to whom you lent money agrees to pay you in a week, let a week and a few days pass before reaching out and reminding them about the mutually established deadline. Going easy at first will help <a href="" target="_blank">keep the lines of communication open</a>.</p> <h2>3. Ask If the Money Solved the Problem</h2> <p>If too much time has passed and the borrower hasn&rsquo;t brought up repayment, you have every right to bring it up. Just try to do it tactfully. With genuine concern, ask if the problem has been solved. For instance, if they needed money to pay an electric bill, ask if it&rsquo;s been paid and if it&rsquo;s back on track. This will not only remind the borrower about the debt and let him or her know that you haven&rsquo;t forgotten, but it&rsquo;ll also give you insight into whether this problem persists and if the person is capable of paying you back in a reasonable amount of time.</p> <h2>4. Be Frank But Polite in Your Request for Payment</h2> <p>If hints aren&rsquo;t working &mdash; and sometimes they won&rsquo;t, especially if people are flat broke and simply can&rsquo;t pay you back &mdash; it&rsquo;s important to stand your ground. When asking for your money back, be frank but polite. Let them know that you still care about them, but it&rsquo;s important that they hold up their end of the bargain so the situation doesn&rsquo;t escalate to the point that will damage your relationship. If you haven&rsquo;t established a deadline by now, this is the time. Talk it over together and decide on a date that is acceptable to you both, taking into consideration your friend or family member&rsquo;s need for a certain amount of time to earn the money to pay you back.</p> <h2>5. Offer to Accept Payments in Installments</h2> <p>Another option &mdash; and perhaps an even better one than hoping for a lump sum on a specific date &mdash; is to suggest a payment plan or installments. It will take you longer to recoup your entire loan, of course, but you will increase your chances of getting the entire sum back by allowing the person to pay small amounts over a period of time.</p> <h2>6. Don&rsquo;t Let Them Off the Hook</h2> <p>Whatever you do, don&rsquo;t let this person off the hook. Most people will appreciate the gesture you made to help them out (and pay you back eventually), but some will try to &quot;forget&quot; about it and hope you will too. Don&rsquo;t be a sucker &mdash; not even for something as small as a $20 loan. The amount may seem insignificant, but the repercussions could ruin your relationship two-fold: Not only will you harbor resentment, but that person may start hitting you up more frequently and for larger sums. Loan the money and get it back &mdash; bottom line. You want to be a good friend, not a poor one. Two broke people do not happy endings make.</p> <p><em>Have you ever lent someone money? Did you get it back? What did you do? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Getting Your Money Back Without Losing Your Friendship" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Debt Management Family friends and money lending lending to family repayment Fri, 10 May 2013 10:24:31 +0000 Mikey Rox 973947 at What It Costs to Raise a Child <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-it-costs-to-raise-a-child" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="baby" title="baby" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Raising children can be invaluable and something a parent will cherish forever. The cost of those memories, however, is much more than time spent, diapers changed, toys picked up, and tears shed. (See also: <a href="" target="_blank">7 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Stay-at-Home Parent</a>)</p> <p>As any parent will tell you, there are financial costs to raising children, though they probably don't closely track them. The federal government does, however.</p> <h2>Average Annual Cost Per Kid</h2> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture</a> [PDF] put the annual cost of raising a child from $12,290 to $14,320 in a two-child, married couple, middle-income family.</p> <p>Child-rearing costs through age 17 vary by family income level. The total costs range from $212,370 to $490,830, with the average middle-income family spending $295,560 to raise a child through age 17. These expenses don't include college.</p> <p>The USDA also offers a child cost <a href="" target="_blank">calculator</a>, which can be a fun form of birth control for would-be parents who have a few seconds to spare online. The calculator asks for the number and age of children, how many parents live in the household, where you live, and before-tax annual household income.</p> <h2>Zip Code Influences Kid Cost...</h2> <p>Some areas of the country are more expensive to live in than others, which might be an incentive to move. Child-rearing expenses were highest in the urban Northeast, followed by the urban West and urban Midwest. They were lowest in the urban South and rural areas. The costs of housing, child care, and <a href="" target="_blank">education</a> had the most regional differences.</p> <h2>...and So Does Your Kid's Age</h2> <p>Expenses increased as children age, the report finds, with food, transportation, clothing, and health care expenses rising the most as a child eats more and starts driving.</p> <h2>Where Your Kid Money Goes</h2> <p>Where does the money go? About where you'd expect.</p> <ul> <li>Housing: 30%</li> <li>Child care and education: 18%</li> <li>Food: 16%</li> <li>Transportation: 14%</li> <li>Healthcare: 8%</li> <li>Clothing: 6%</li> </ul> <p>Another 8% went to miscellaneous expenditures, which can quickly drain a parent's pockets. These include:</p> <ul> <li>Personal care items and services such as haircuts and toothbrushes</li> <li>Entertainment such as portable media players, sports equipment, and computers</li> <li>Reading materials such as nonschool books and magazines</li> <li>Admission fees such as paying to go to a movie, baseball game, or amusement park</li> </ul> <p>Those costs seem to add up fast during summer when a child is bored.</p> <h2>College Is Extra</h2> <p>A <a href="" target="_blank">big expense</a> that isn't included is the cost of sending a kid to college, although parents might be taking on that expense if they're saving for a child's college education before the child turns 18.</p> <p>The USDA report cites <a href="" target="_blank">statistics from the College Board</a> that in 2012 the annual average tuition and fees at a four-year public college with in-state tuition was $8,244, and was $28,500 at a four-year private college. Annual room and board was $8,887 at a public college and $10,089 at a private college. That adds up to about $33,000 to attend a public college for four years, or $114,000 for four years at a private college.</p> <p>Maybe those priceless pieces of school-made art from kindergarten can be sold at auction.</p> <h2>Kids Cost Opportunity, Too</h2> <p>Along with the cost of raising children, the USDA had other bad news for parents &mdash; they're likely to earn less money as <a href="" target="_blank">they spend their time with their children</a> instead of in the workforce. Current earnings and future career opportunities may be diminished because of job choice or reduced time in the labor force for one or both parents. If a parent has to stay home and take care of children, that parent won't earn as much money as they would otherwise.</p> <p>But at least the report gets to the point of child-rearing that only parents can understand and appreciate &mdash; the rewards are priceless, no matter what the cost.</p> <p>Or, as the USDA bluntly puts it, &quot;The direct and indirect costs of raising children are considerable, absorbing a major share of the household budget. On the other hand, these costs may be outweighed by the benefits of children.&quot;</p> <p><em>Where do your child-rearing dollars seem to go? Are you getting your money's worth?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="What It Costs to Raise a Child" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Aaron Crowe</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Family child costs children and money family budget pregnancy Tue, 07 May 2013 10:00:31 +0000 Aaron Crowe 973864 at 7 Strategies for Controlling Toy Clutter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-strategies-for-controlling-toy-clutter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="7 Strategies for Controlling Toy Clutter" title="7 Strategies for Controlling Toy Clutter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="155" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Any parent of young children can tell you that keeping up with the toy clutter is an ongoing &mdash; and losing &mdash; battle.</p> <p>Before I had my daughter, I swore that my home would not become overrun with primary-colored bits of plastic, but reality was a different story. While the chances are slim of your living room being the pristine, perfectly accessorized space you dream of (at least until the kids outgrow their toys), these strategies for controlling the toy clutter can help give you a little visual relief. (See also: <a href="" target="_blank">How to Get Rid of Your Junk</a>)</p> <h2>1. Rotate and Limit Toys</h2> <p>I&rsquo;ve found that my daughter quickly gets bored of new toys, so I try to rotate them out to keep them fresh.</p> <p>When she receives a bunch of new toys for holidays or her birthday, I let her play with one new toy and keep the rest in the guest room closet. Fewer toys out in the family room means less daily clutter. When I notice my daughter neglecting her toys, I switch them out. My plan is to bring the old toys back when she has forgotten about them, although since my daughter is the only grandchild on both sides, I think she&rsquo;ll have enough new toys to last for years.</p> <h2>2. Baskets and Bins</h2> <p>Having a <a href="" target="_blank">variety of large baskets and bins</a> to corral loose toys makes cleanup faster and easier. After all, they&rsquo;ll be played with and messed up the next day, so who cares if they&rsquo;re stored in a big pile in a basket or box? My toddler enjoys putting things in boxes, so I try to make cleanup a game for her &mdash; hopefully she&rsquo;ll learn some good habits along the way!</p> <p>If you want to organize toys a little better, you can label the baskets and bins &mdash; all dolls in one bin, for example, or all cars in another. Having everything in its own bin makes it easier for your child to find the toy he or she is looking for.</p> <h2>3. Purge</h2> <p>This might be the best way to control the toy clutter &mdash; just don&rsquo;t keep so many toys! Whether you put them in storage, give them to friends, or donate them to the local thrift store, <a href="" target="_blank">get rid of the toys your child no longer plays with</a>. Alternatively, swap them with another child&rsquo;s toys so you&rsquo;re not storing useless clutter.</p> <p>Having fewer toys might actually help your child to focus better on his or her play instead of getting distracted by another toy within reach.</p> <h2>4. Store Toys in Every Room</h2> <p>Having just one storage area in the entire house can make it difficult to put all the toys away at the end of the day. Instead, designate toy storage areas in several rooms, whether it&rsquo;s a drawer in your child&rsquo;s bedroom, a box in the pantry, or a mesh bag for the bath toys in the bathroom. That way, there&rsquo;s always a storage spot within easy reach so you can tuck away the clutter.</p> <p>However, don&rsquo;t let toys get strewn all over &mdash; designating one room for primary play and toy storage helps to prevent the chaos from reaching the rest of the house.</p> <h2>5. Store Toys at Grandma&rsquo;s</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s hard to control the continuous flow of toys into our home, as both sets of grandparents have made it their mission to shower my daughter with every piece of pink plastic known to humankind. To prevent my home from being overrun, I tactfully suggest that my daughter&rsquo;s grandparents keep some toys at their home for her to play with when she comes over. That way, my daughter gets super excited to visit her grandparents, and I can always rotate the toys from their house to mine if needed.</p> <h2>6. Clean Up Every Night</h2> <p>Don&rsquo;t wait for the clutter to pile up and drive you crazy before cleaning up. Keep the toy <a href="" target="_blank">clutter manageable by cleaning up frequently</a>, such as every evening before your child goes to bed. That way, the mess won&rsquo;t be as intimidating and you can de-stress a little before heading to bed yourself.</p> <h2>7. Discover Hidden Storage</h2> <p>Storage ottomans, closed cabinets, and bins under the bed can keep toy clutter out of sight and help you feel like you&rsquo;re a little more in control of your home.</p> <p><em>How do you control toy clutter at home?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Strategies for Controlling Toy Clutter" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Camilla Cheung</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family Organization children declutter toys Fri, 05 Apr 2013 10:24:32 +0000 Camilla Cheung 971638 at