Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Autumn Clean Up Checklist for Seniors

Just when you thought you’d never have another major clean up like spring cleaning, think again. Fall is coming and you need to gear up once more and prepare your home for the coming new season. For most, cleaning is not fun at all, but when you’ve rid your house of every speck of dust and dirt and made it look shiny and new, you’ll realize that it can actually be a very therapeutic activity. 

If you’re not as young as you used to be, you’re going to need a little help from your children--or perhaps grandchildren--to make it easier to finish all chores before fall arrives. To make it easier for you to keep track of tasks to do, here is an autumn clean up checklist.

Inside the House

Sometimes, what takes time in cleaning is deciding where and what task to start on. You can get overwhelmed with the multitude of things to be done and you want to start everything all at once. Breathe and take it easy. Check with 
NYC maid services  to simplify things for you, start from top to bottom. 

You can begin with the attic and work your way down to the rooms. Tidy up your things in the attic and check if there are any roof leaks. Make sure that your light fixtures at your ceiling like chandeliers are cleaned.

Clean One Room at a Time

Aside from laundering all pillows and beddings, you’re going to need to rotate your mattresses. Ask for help from your grandchildren in flipping the bed and taking the laundry to the laundromat. 

You need to tackle your closet as well, de-cluttering it and rearranging it so that your fall/winter clothes will be within easy reach. You can also donate some old clothing so that you can clear some space in your wardrobe.

Outside the House

Pressure washing your house is a must especially since it helps you to pinpoint areas that may need paint or perhaps a touch-up. There’s a need for you to check out the caulking as well as the weather seals on your doors and windows so that heat won’t escape your house easily in the coming cold season. 

This will help you manage your heating bill. Make sure your exhaust pipe isn’t clogged because if it is, it can pose a fire hazard.

Some Important Reminders

When cleaning inside, make sure carpets and rugs are cleaned properly. Investing in one of those smart household robots will help you thoroughly clean under those bigger pieces of furniture and other areas that are hard to reach. After sweeping out and vacuuming the fireplace, make sure you schedule an inspection by a professional. 

Check your smoke as well as carbon dioxide detectors to see if they are in good working order. Fill up your family emergency kit so that you will be prepared for any contingency.

Bond with Family After Cleaning

If you make cleaning a family project, it can actually be a fun and therapeutic activity. You can bond with your grandchildren with rewards like baked treats once they’re finished with their tasks.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Big Lessons We Should Learn From Our Grandparents to Save Money

Each of us wishes to spend money within defined budgets but this becomes almost impossible for us just because of the increased fantasies, daily expenditures, family demands, and much more. Instead of trying useless tricks for saving money, we should consult our elders or grandparents to guide us in a better way. This is because they have always tried their level best to have maximum savings and have spent worry-free lives. How can they help us in saving more? Let us discuss it here. 

Define your Limits:

Saying this is extremely easy but to act is very hard. Our grandparents used to save a lot of money by the end of month just because of this simple golden rule. They used to set up a limit for saving and saved that amount by any possible means. For example, my grandfather used to save at least $500 every month without considering that how he will manage the rest of his responsibilities. In this way, he had a lot of savings in the end. This is what we do not do. We do our calculations at the end of month by just regretting that we have lost a lot of money in buying useless things and this is just because lack of planning.

Parties on Specific Days:

No doubt, our grandparents loved to have parties too but not on regular basis, like the one, we do. They preferred enjoying parties mostly on the weekends by considering their budget. Sometimes, for better financial management, they used to have one-dish parties. In this way, they enjoyed their life as well as saved money too. This is what we lack nowadays. We like to party almost every day and spend a lot of our money on lots of unnecessary events, which spoils our monthly budget most of the times. 

Cooking Budget:

Instead of eating junk food daily, our grandparents preferred to design a weekly menu in order to have maximum savings by enjoying balanced diet in a month. On the contrary, today, our demands, eating preferences, and menus vary almost every day resulting in huge wastage of money. 

Prefer Durable Utensils:

Have you noticed that grandparents usually prefer to use durable utensils normally made up of copper, silver, or metal? Do you know why they used such type of utensils? It is just because these type of utensils are durable and can be polished on frequent basis to give them a new look. On contrary, these days, we use plastic made utensils, which we have to buy almost every month because they are not that much durable. Trust me that buying these utensils repeatedly ruins our budget. 

Take Time While Shopping:

How much time do you spend while shopping? Maximum 30 minutes or an hour, is it? Our grandparents used to spend a day for purchasing best possible stuff. Can you do this for you? Purchasing stuff in short time is not an art but purchasing high-quality stuff with some delay surely is. Grandparents never wasted their time but made best use of their time to achieve fruitful results. Spending maximum time in a shop or mart gives you an idea of current market prices along with the best purchase of items within your defined budgets. 

Final Words:

However, there is a change in culture, generation, and living styles yet ideas cannot change if followed properly.

Author’s Bio:

Mudasar began his career in finance at Speedyloan. Now, he helps people getting loans. To get more details, visit over here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Best Methods to Teach Your Grandchildren to Save Money

Too many people in society today live beyond their means. The economy has left people who had a good job trying to juggle their finances while earning a lower wage. People need to learn a new way of making ends meet. As a grandparent, you can help your grandchildren learn to save money. 

Tiny Feet Change the World

Creating a generation of savers can help protect your grandchildren against a future financial crisis. When the economy was growing rapidly, banks were willing to lend money and credit cards were easy to obtain. This led individuals to believe that they could obtain anything they wanted without having to work for it.

Changing the way people think about money and how to handle it can help your grandchildren understand that even if they want something they don’t necessarily have to have it. Sometimes it is important to save for a desired item, while other possessions are out of reach. 

No Longer a Disposable Society

For many years people would replace broken items instead of repairing them. The state of the economy made certain goods inexpensive, and repairs often cost more than buying a new product. With the decrease in wages and increase in prices, goods are often too expensive to replace.

It is important to teach grandchildren the benefits of repairing certain products. Cars are often expensive to replace but can be repaired. With the wide variety of resellers of auto parts, a person can find replacement parts for many different vehicles online and replace them on their own. Whether a person is looking for Ford Mustang parts, Chevrolet parts or foreign auto parts, repairing a car can often be cost effective.

Open a Savings Account

A good way to help teach your grandchildren to save is to open a savings account in their name. If your grandchildren are still minors, you can be custodian of the account. Many banks offer special programs for young children to make saving a fun prospect. If you start them while they are young, saving money may become a habit as they age. 

Reward them for Saving

Positive reinforcement is often a good way to encourage specific behavior. If your grandchildren save consistently you may want to offer a reward for their thrifty ways. Another idea is to set a monetary goal. When your grandchild reaches a specific amount in their savings account you can give them a gift, take them out for a meal, or even let them spend some of their money.

Grandparents are good role models for their grandchildren. If they see that you make saving money a priority they will be more apt to become savers. Encouraging them by open a savings account for them will allow them to have a good vehicle to save money. Rewarding your grandchildren when they save will help reinforce this behavior and create a potential saver.

This is no longer a disposable society, and people need to learn that they can’t buy everything they want. Instructing grandchildren in the benefits of saving will help them when they become adults and are providing for their children and grandchildren.

Adrienne is a blogger with an interest in personal finance. When she’s not blogging, you might find her practicing her French, whipping up some recipes she found on Pinterest, or obsessing over vintage postcards and stamps.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What to Do When Divorce Really Isn't an Option

Family in tall grass
Family in tall grass (Photo credit: Jackal of all trades)

Adults naturally come together, and make plans for living together, as a natural course of life. Similar to the basic instinct which has salmon in the Pacific Northwest of the United States swimming upstream, against the currents, in order to return to the place of their birth and spawn before they die, adults tend to come together as couples for reasons which are both social and biological. Often times, this works out well, as the couples mature as their relationship deepens over time. This can be as a result of the challenge and joys of raising children, or facing whatever challenges life hurtles at them over time. There are some times however, where relationships just don't work out. Couples may have completely different points of view on fundamental issues, or they may be financial stresses which cause major problems.

Sometimes, the problems are not so severe, and the relationship is not so frayed, that divorce is an absolute necessity. In these cases, a separation, possibly on a trial basis, might be the best solution. It will give both people an opportunity to sort through their feelings, and somewhat rewind the tape of the last few months or years, in an effort to find some common ground. If there are children involved, it is obviously quite challenging to have a break up that doesn't affect them. One parent is going to wind up staying with them most time, and the other parent will be reduced to coming to visit, and spending some time with them on a schedule that hopefully both parents agree on.

The Trend Is Rising

Not surprisingly perhaps, the majority of parents that remain with the children are the mothers. This is due to several reasons, the primary one being the fact that the father typically is working, and can't be home for the children. The second reason is a little more complex, but has to do with the fact that in many cases, the maternal instinct is just stronger. The trend towards separating appears to continue to gain momentum. According to some statistics, there are between 150,000 and 200,000 couples that separate in England every year. In 1970, it is estimated that there were about 60,000 lone fathers. 35 years later, that number had more than tripled. This is obviously a disturbing trend, as it implies that children don't get to spend as much time with their fathers as they would probably like, or should.

When the Decision Is Reached

Couples that decide that the best course of action at this point in their lives is to have a separation need to consider all of the details carefully. This not only involves how to manage time with the children, but also overall financial concerns, which range from simple bank account ownership, as well as any other assets that are considered joint property. Nobody should tackle these issues without professional advice. There are many organizations and firms that can help with this specific type of situation and one should definitely consult them before making any final decisions, or signing any documents.

Author Bio: Jonny Pean is a US-based lifestyle writer covering the latest trends in modern society, and all of its implications, including separation. He writes on a freelance basis for many of the major lifestyle blogs.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Adding Your Children Onto Your Insurance Policy: Pros and Cons

Day 209 - West Midlands Police - Uninsured veh...
 (Photo credit: West Midlands Police)
Many parents in their forties and fifties have older children who are ready to buy their first car, graduate or enter college, and/or getting prepared to live on their own for the first time. 

At a time when parents seek to save for retirement, costs for older children are taking a chunk out of their savings: Buying their teenager a vehicle, paying for college expenses, helping with costs of the child’s new living arrangements, and car insurance. 

Navigating finances at this stage is quite the juggling act. After all, parents who are fast approaching retirement need to find the balance between their budgetary expenses, saving for retirement, and contributing to an older or adult child’s expenses and needs. 

Sometimes parents have to draw the line and give their child the entire responsibility of providing for themselves. When it comes to car insurance there are advantages and disadvantages for both parents and teenagers of sharing an insurance policy. Let’s break it down. 

Pros for Parents 

· If the parent’s name is on the title of the vehicle or on the loan, they should be cognizant of proper protection against major unexpected loss. By having control over the amount of coverage on the vehicle, parents can be assured of proper coverage. As long as a parent’s name is associated with ownership, they will have a legal responsibility for any liable losses.

· The child’s cost for their portion of the car insurance will likely be far less, which may mean that parent’s won’t have to help them out as much financially. 

Cons for Parents 

· The cost is obviously the biggest drawback if parents are the ones who have to be responsible to pay the premium.

· In the same way that a parent can be liable as a co-owner named on a title or loan, as a policyholder, a child may cause an accident and the injured party may try to go after the parent as one of the policyholders, even if their name isn’t on the vehicle. If the parent’s name isn’t on the title or loan, they might want to consider having a separate policy for the child. 

Pros for Children 

· The most obvious benefit to adult or older children listed on their parent’s policy is that the cost of the car insurance they are responsible for will be typically far less than if they had to pay for a car insurance policy on their own.

· Older and wiser parents often carry better protection for liability. Younger drivers who often pay the highest premiums will try to get by cheap and cut coverage as low as possible.

· The good thing about having the child start out on their parent’s policy is that they can “spin off,” taking valuable discounts from their parents to their own policy. 

Cons for Children

· On the rare occasion that the parents have a poor driving history, the child might be paying more for insurance than if they were on their own policy.
· If the parents find themselves in a large lawsuit for auto liability, the child could be pulled into it if the parent isn’t covered for the judgment award. 

Parents don’t often find the silver lining in their car insurance premiums doubling by adding an adult or older child as a driver or co-owner of one of the vehicles. However, having the child/children covered on the parent’s insurance policy does have its advantages, too. 

Carefully weigh the options and discuss with the agent and insurance company all the possibilities before making a snap decision. Your retirement income and investments depend on smart financial decisions you make now. 

Steven Weinberg is licensed insurance and expert writer at Car Insurance Calculator where he covers typical consumer questions as well as a weekly blog on insurance news for US consumers from all states. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Graduates Moving Back Home To Retired Parents

SYRACUSE, NY - MAY 13:  A graduate's cap is se...
 (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

It should be a time of happiness and satisfaction but the graduating class of 2012 are feeling a sense of defeat. A combination of a weak labor market and economic climate many graduates are forced to move back home. But in mom and dad's house many things have change since the student was a freshman. Mom and dad are now retired and were not expecting their kids moving back in.

These boomerang graduates are facing double digit unemployment rates in some fields. Even with advanced degrees, graduates can't land jobs. To make matters worse even if they can find a job, grads are burdened with school loan debt or have extensive credit card debt putting them into a position of not being able to make it in the real world. Making moving back home the only viable option.

Moving back home is not anyone's first choice. Lots of graduates have tasted the free life from living at college and don't want to give that up. Many parents have not planed on having anyone move back in, many have already made plans to downgrade to smaller homes. They also have tasted the life of not having any children at home.

If the student does have to come home there are a few things to make the situation equitable for both parties.

Helping Around the House

Moving back home changes the dynamic for the graduate. When they were on their own they called the shots. When coming home it changes to community mode. That means pitching in on the household work. Grads should offer to help around the house with cutting the grass, cleaning the house, or cooking meals. 

Also contributing to the family financial needs should be addressed. Some amount of money should come from the grad that should go to the mortgage or rent. There is an increase in the variable expenses of the home, the grad should step up and contribute their fair share.

Retired parents still need to pursue their goals and plans. The financial impact of the student returning should be kept at a minimum and it will be with the student contributing financially. It may even benefit the parents by having the grad take care of the home, dog and other obligations when traveling on vacation.

Full and Open Communication

Good communication is the most important part of moving back home. Mom and Dad must be specific and honest about the rules and expectations. The parents must explain that this is a short term solution. They must set up rules concerning friends, activities, and time frame.

The student should thank the parents and throughout the process express appreciation and gratitude. Even though the situation is not perfect, any frustration or anger should be kept in check and not vented on people who are helping you.

The parents should make clear that they are retired and their finances must not be put out of balance. Large purchases and expenses are not allowed, the future of their retirement is at stake.

Falling Back On Old Habits

There is nothing like the benefits of living at home. I tell my kids they will only appreciate it when they are on their own.  Plenty of food, someone to cook it for you, your laundry done, and a clean place to live. Sometimes when coming home you fall into the old parent-child, mothered relationships. If parents fall back into this old style they could be hurting the student. 

At this time of their lives with hopes of starting their career and lack of money it contributes to a lack of self-esteem. They don't need to be coddled. The parents job is to point them in the right direction and offer encouragement. 

Parents also have old habits like paying for everything. It's an old habit parents must try to avoid. When you see your child working on their job search and it's tough you may want to help financially. Remember they are adults now and must figure this out themselves. 

Always be Searching for That Job

The students job when living at home is to be always searching for a job. It's not time to lie on the couch and watch Oprah. Hit the pavement a good part of the day and when home be on the computer sending resumes, emailing perspective employers, and networking.

During this process, the student must be communicating the progress or lack of progress they are making. The parents saw to it to give the grad a good education, the grad. should respect the parents sacrifice and apply themselves fully.

The Parents Main Goal

When things aren't going well a loving parent always wants to step in and make things better. But when the children are adults it is the the job of the parents to show them how to fix their own problems by being independent. Going through this process will build a better relationship between parent and child. Parents will gain a whole new respect for their child and the child will see their parents in a whole different way. 

During this process, sadly, the parents can really do some damage to their retirement nest egg. If you are not able to pay expenses because you are helping your kid out, you on the wrong track. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

5 Trips to Take the Grandkids On

Cinderella Castle by day
Cinderella Castle by day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Its summertime and the grandkids are out of school and heading your way for a week or so. Want to do something extra special with them this summer? Take them on a trip that they will never forget, here are 5 trip ideas to help you:

Disney: Who doesn’t want to go to Disneyland or Disneyworld? Whether you choose the west coast or the east coast, there is fun to be had for both kids and adults. Disney is a magical place where your grandkids can run wild and use their imaginations. The best time to take them is between about 4 years old to 12 years old. There are always great specials and deals for families, especially in the off season.

Beach: Summer vacations are always best spent next to the ocean, playing in the sand. You can rent little houses or hotel rooms near a beach for a weekend getaway. Avoid big party beaches and aim for family friendly beaches. They tend to be the smaller beaches outside of the big ‘party’ beaches. Find a nice beach to build sandcastle and collect seashells on. And don’t forget the sunscreen and watch the tide!

Camping: There are plenty of camping sites across the United Sates that offer great camping sites. Go big and head to Yellowstone or go local. This is a great time to show your grandchildren things in nature and get them away from video games and television. Whether you want to head to a lake or the mountains, your options are unlimited. Camp by a fire or in a cabin, whatever you do bring the bug spray and the mores.

Washington DC: A very educational and beautiful city to teach your older grandchildren about the history of the United States. There are many things outside of political monuments to visit like huge art museums and the zoo.

Historical cities: If big road trips out of the budget this summer, travel to the closest city for historical landmarks. Major cities like Ft. Worth, Texas, Boston, Massachusetts and San Diego California are just a few examples of affordable cities with rich history and plenty of attractions to visit. Cities like this have a great visitor bureau website to help you plan your next trip!

Call the grandkids, pack the bags and hit the road for a fun summer trip with quality time spent with your family. Pick a location based on their age and enjoyment level for the whole family and go! Have fun and safe travels!

About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Debra Johnson, blogger and editor of full time nanny.
She welcomes your comments at her email Id: - jdebra84 @

Friday, June 3, 2011

Is Cosigning A Car Loan Really So Bad?

Janet's 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt in SarasotaImage by roger4336 via FlickrWe all know that cosigning a loan is just asking for trouble. Your taking a big risk that the person you are cosigning for will leave you holding the bag. When the bank doesn't approve an individual for a loan the bank is saying plainly that they believe the person is not financially or personally able to pay it back. Why can't people who are tempted to cosign a loan, for a freind or relative, be as calculating as that?

I have written before about my daughters car problems and need for replacing her car. The car has 210,000 miles on it and it's time. Yet the car continues to live on and won't die. She and her boyfriend have purchased a 2006 Chevy Cobalt. It's in great shape and has low mileage. It was a really great choice.

Then why am I bringing all this up? Well, they have bad credit, when they financed it they got a very high interest rate. It's 18% interest. The payments are high and a lot of money is going to interest. I want to help.

I feel if I refinance the car as a cosigner I could get their rate down to 5%. It would be a big help in getting the payment way down. But then that would go against the no cosigning rule.

If I did do it, would there be a chance they wouldn't pay it. Yes, there always is a they could lose their income and be unable to pay and also by their track record not pay their debts. I would then be on the hook for the note. Is it worth it to take the chance? Would it destroy the relationship?

What are the odds they would default. According to the FTC, depending on the type of the loan, as many as three out of four primary borrowers default on their obligations, leaving the cosigner to pay. This is, after all, why they need a cosigner: they're not good credit risks, either because they have too much debt already, or because they don't pay their bills on time.

This is their first real excursion into the world of credit for almost 10 years. They are learning first hand the result of messing up your credit. Sure the downside of bad credit is having the worst possible interest rates when borrowing money. But this is a great lesson and it will leave a bad taste in the mouth for many years to come. It's something they will never forget and hopefully never repeat. My intervention may circumvent this life lesson and postpone learning a hard truth.

You're not really helping someone if you assist them to take on a large car loan when they have had historical trouble paying their bills, or to refinance their debt without attacking the spending that brought on the debt in the first place. "Helping" people to avoid dealing with their problems isn't much help at all. It feels terrible to say no, and the person will probably be hurt when you do. It may sour the relationship. But keep in mind that however bad it feels, and however much the relationship suffers, this is nothing compared to the bad feelings and relationship problems that you will encounter if you become their chief creditor.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Are Todays Kids Smarter About Money

Cover of "Money Doesn't Grow On Trees: A ...Cover via Amazon
Kids growing up today are surrounded by every kind of electronic gadget. If I want to know how to search for something on Google or hook up a Blue-ray player all I have to do is call one of my kids and it's done in a flash. While I'm left in the dust scratching my head, they're already gone with their Ipod on their head.

Kids today can pick up on technology quickly, but are they also savvy with their money? Our children are smart, they know money doesn't grow on trees, it comes from a ATM. They know right away when Mom says they can't afford a toy, to urge Mom to charge it. The children are watching us use our debit and credit cards, they see us order goods and pay bills online. They know those little cards of plastic are able turn thin air into money at anytime, only later observing mom and dad blaming each other for the purchase.

What is it with these kids, they're supposed to be so smart. When we were kids our only financial tool was cash, there were no credit cards. How did we manage? The answer is fine. We managed very well because we spent when we had money and not when we didn't. If we want to make a large purchase in the future we used the ancient practice of saving up for it. 

So what does it take to teach your kids the skills and discipline they need to make the American dream come true for them? The same four simple strategies that have been deployed by parents since Ozzie and Harriet.

1. Give youngsters an allowance, to prove to them that there are limits to spending.

2. Pay them for out-of-the-ordinary chores, to show them that effort produces rewards.

3. Encourage them to save, so they become accustomed to delaying gratification.

4. Teach them the basics of investing, so they have the opportunity to make their savings grow.

But I found the most powerful tool when teaching kids about money is your own example. If you give money to your kid grudgingly, that conveys something to your off spring. Also if your always frazzled about your maxed out credit cards, they will see that. Whether you donate to charity, return the difference when the cashier hands you to much change, or brag about how cleverly you cheated on your taxes all send teaching messages to your kids on a regular basis. Junior will pay more attention to what you practice than what you preach.

Next bring your kids into some of the family financial business. Not how much you make or how big your 401k is. Decisions like your not getting a new car now because you saving for college expenses next year. Over time junior will get a sense on the limits to what the family can and cannot spend.

Your teaching them the difference between wants and needs, a lesson our youth desperately needs to learn. 86H386N4P4HJ

Monday, December 27, 2010

Economy Boost Attributed To Secret Weapon: Grandparents

Last year America's 70 million grandparents spent $52 billion dollars on their grand kids according to . That's a lot of spending power in the middle of a recession. But for them birthdays and Christmas are not the only time of year they give to the little tykes. Grandparents also contribute $17 billion dollars to the grandchildren's education. This includes payments for private school tuition, after school programs, college savings plans, textbooks and supplies. They also spend $10 billion on clothing for the kiddies and $6 billion or more on toys.

Today's grandparents are avoiding the silly plastic trinkets and useless electronic gadgets for more long term meaningful things like education. Even though hit by a hard economy and ever rising prices it's a rare grandparent that doesn't sacrifice for their little ones. They are there to also help teach the little ones valuable life lessons as they grow. You will hear grandparents say the way to a happy life is not the latest toy, but education and a good job, it is necessary for a bright future.

The growing trend nowadays is that the grandparents are in better financial shape than their children. This allows them to pick up the slack when it comes to the needs of the grandchildren. Grandparents who are retired or near retiring are able with their extra time or financial resources to help more. The parents may have no money available or are suffering from a job loss and need the help. Thank goodness for the grandparents help.

It's a fact that the generation of the parents will not be as prosperous as the generation of the grandparents. The parents are being called the sandwich generation. They are in the middle of parents who are enjoying extended life spans and children growing up in an ever expensive lifestyle.

If you were able to have your grandparents in your life as you were growing up you were lucky. In my case, my 2 grandfathers were alive to see me marry. Except for my Father, they have been the most influential men in my life. They were frugal before frugal was something new. They taught me about life and family. The made my life richer. I hope I can be half as good as they were. Again, thank goodness for grandparents.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Greatest Gift You Can Receive Is Friendship

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu.Image via Wikipedia
The culture we live in teaches that it's the accumulation of things that will give us true happiness. During the Christmas season this is driven home. Just check the malls with all the crowds pushing and shoving to get the latest electronics and video games. What are we teaching our children?

I'm guilty I have done this too. But as my life has progressed  I have become aware of how material things are fleeting. Ask yourself what gifts did you get for Christmas last year, 3 years ago or 5 years ago. You probably don't remember. I'll also wager your kids don't remember. This is why the gifts you think are so necessary to get your children or friends, aren't. I don't remember the gifts but I do remember the experiences I have shared. The time I have spent with friends and family are etched in my memory.

There's an old saying that states, "A good friend forgives your faults. A loving friend doesn't see any". Having friends has become more important to me as the years have gone by. The things that your work can bring are  becoming less and less important.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't lived the hermits life. I have had friends and acquaintances forever. They have always been important. But recently they have been more important.  In my early years I always spent my time working to accumulate all the things that gave pleasure.  Those things were the house, car, vacations and children. After getting all those things what was there to satisfy.

The more friends I embrace, the more this circle of wisdom, common sense and laughter enriches and nourishes me. Some of us remember black & white TV, 10 cent phone calls and life before e-mail. These are friends that  can relate to me and my time. Even the younger ones who think I'm a relic of ancient history can also be satisfying for their individual point of view. It doesn't matter. True friendship trumps accumulated days on a calendar.

This is my hope for everyone. That you will come to realize that friendship are more rewarding than accumulating things.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Grandma's Money Lessons Still Are True

As we grow up we are influenced by many people. Perhaps the most influential in my life was my grandparents. Grandma and grandpa were always there to set me straight. They were no nonsense and taught me many things. They didn't live exstravagant lives. They always cooked from scratch with rare exception. As I look back there were many instances where they would try to share with me some facet of their life. Some of those lessons were about money. Here are a few of the best.

1. Always save for a rainy day.

This sure was grandpa's favorite lesson. I think it was one of the most talked about by them. Saving money and using what you had wisely. Not wasting money, food or anything. For me it helped me prepare for life's future needs. Like saving for retirement or kids going to college. Never wasting money on interest payments when borrowing. They taught me to be aware of every penny I had.

2. Credit is not your friend. 

Grandpa used to say how proud he was that he never owed a penny to anyone. In his day he would save and pay cash for his needs. It's a foreign idea to think that way today. We make excuses that we would never have anything if we didn't borrow to pay for it. They lived on much less than we do today. Grandpa would say how his pay was only $5 per week when he was a young man. But it was relative because things were much cheaper then.

I believe they had less things to spend money on than we do today. We have all kinds of gadgets and conveniences, that in our minds, have become necessities. They had less things to spend money on. We have a never ending supply.

3. The only person that won't let you down is yourself.

Being self sufficient was a more common trait in the the days of my grandparents. It was a necessity because you had less outside help than you do now. The lifelines we have today like social services, food stamps and housing help didn't exist in their day. They learned to be self-sufficient. More people cooked at home. They sewed and made clothes. In Grandpa's day you could count on neighbors, friends and family to be there and help you through your tough times.

4. Always live below your means.

I would watch my grandparents not be wasteful with their money. They would cook every night. If there was a party they would never think of having it catered. They would prepare all the food for it. Lights would be turned off. Water would never be wasted. Clothes would be mended and worn till thread bare. The homes were simple and they were not very big. There was never an expensive car and th car was driven till the wheels fell off.

Money was regarded as a precious commodity and never misused. Vacations were few and far in between. There were no credit cards or debt. My grandparents were in control.

5. Nothing good or bad lasts forever.

This is my favorite lesson of this list. When things are not going so good in your life like a relationship or a financial problem, Grandma would tell me that this is only temporary and it would eventually get better. She said time would eventually heal all wounds. This is very true and comforting when your going through a hard situation.

The opposite is also true, when things are going well, look out because its only a matter of time when they could go bad again. The lesson here is prepare and get ready for that time, its coming. I have seen many people riding high on salary increases or business booming like never before. These folks think it will last forever. They don't put a thing away for the rainy day. They spend every dime and when the ride is over, they are broke. Again.

6. Waste not, Want not.

I agree that being frugal and not wasting is also a way of preparing for the future. Not wasting assets today will only provide more for future use. It's that Recession, Depression mind set of being ready for that time when things may not be so good. We see this demonstrated many times in nature when animals display survival skills. They are ready for the coming cold weather, drought, or lack of food. Observing their behavior should teach us a lesson of taking care of our lives, come what may.

Our money and what it provides, is our means of surviving in the world. It's something we must learn to not waste. We must plan by using budgets and making wise decisions. Grandma knew all about this, it was just plain common sense to her.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

How Do You Help Your Grown Kids Financially Without Hurting Yourself?

Day 221 Mom and DadImage by Happydog via Flickr

When our kids are young they are such darlings that it's hard to say no to them. With to much indulging, we sometimes end up spoiling them. Their impact on our finances are minor. Then comes college and cars, the costs start to rise. Then finally they are gone and the costs go down. Now you put that money toward retirement, savings and paying off the house. Whew. You are done.

But wait, your not off the hook yet. Your grown children are coming to you for money. One wants help with a down payment for a house. Another wants to start a business. Maybe another is going through a divorce and needs money for a lawyer. Ouch.

Remember when I started this post I said how hard it is to say no to your kids?  Your kids need money, some are in trouble and some just need money for their life. How do you help them without hurting your own finances. There are a few things to keep in mind. Is this help they want a need or a want. How will your actions help their life? Maybe by helping them you're really hurting them or enabling them.

Children view their parents in different ways.  Some see Mom and Dad as a bottomless pit of money. They never seem to get it that they should be on their own. Some understand that finances are finite and it's best to leave the parents alone. They know it's time for the parents to not bare the financial responsibility for their grown kids any more. The parents have done more than enough.  

So it's a balancing act to know if you should say yes or no. We can all agree that in an emergency we are not going go let our children down. Keeping in mind that by helping them we are careful to not harm ourselves. It's quite possible we will turn down our children's request in a situation, but may help instead in a non-financial way.

The type of situation is important to the decision of giving help. If my child comes to me for a down payment for a car or or house; I will say it's not an emergency or a necessity. I will tell them as adults they responsible for their own finances  Now if you have the money because you are well off and can afford giving them the money, that's a different situation.

On the other hand if your child is going through a divorce or needs money for an operation, your obliged to help them. But only if you aren't going to harm yourself financially. It goes without saying, staying out of debt is paramount.

These black and white examples show what to do in a non-emotional way. But with your children, it's hard to to keep it that way. Your feelings toward them will weigh on your decision. Bottom line, decide if your help will be a help to them long term or just enable bad behavior.

Friday, November 12, 2010

7 Things We Can't Live Without

Behold the iPad in All Its GloryImage via Wikipedia

This recession that's turned our lives upside down has changed the way we think about life's necessities. What we thought were necessary things in out lives are now considered luxury's. We have made conscious decisions to cut back lifestyle for for a more frugal life.

Sales of cars, homes and appliances have plunged. We are finding out that we can live on a lot less and still function. It's not a choice we freely make but one forced on us. The question is what things in your life have you found that you can't live without. If you asked 100 people that question you would get a wide range of answers according to their list of creature comforts that they have become used to over the years. These things that make life a little more easy or bearable. 

1. Portable computers.

Whether it's cheap net books, iPads or laptops these bits of technology have become ingrained in our lives. We run our lives out of them. We shop on them, pay our bills, socialize, get our news and communicate on them. They make life easy and convenient. I can't live without my computer.

2. High-Speed Internet Access

If you have been using Internet access for any number of years you have used dial-up and know how painfully slow that was. But the day you started to use cable or DSL service you were not ever going back. Now the Internet was very usable. You could hook up a router and everyone in the house could be online. It was like night and day and the convenience was like"Wow". Could you live with out it. Probably not. I would cut back on everything else before removing my DSL. I would give up the dryer, dishwasher, cable TV, telephone, and the dog rather than lose my Internet. I can't live without my Internet.  

3. Smart Phones

When smart phones first came out they were priced well above the price of regular cell phones. I said I would never buy one of those expensive thing. But as time rolled on the IPhone came out and I was sold. Now I do everything on my phone. From banking to blogging. It's my GPS and my mailbox. My entertainment and my knowledge finder. It so covienent, it does everything for me quickly and efficiently. Sorry can't live without it.

4. Coffee

Here is a special subject close to my heart. Coffee. I have started everyday of my adult life with a nice hot cup of coffee. It's ingrained in our culture. To not start the day with coffee is like not to breathe. It's a pleasant habit and a rewarding experience. It holds a special place in our lives. Sorry can't live without it.

5. Pets.

Our pets are as important to us as members of our own family are. They keep us company and give us love. We send them for grooming and buy them clothes. They are like little hairy children to us. To give them up would be unthinkable. We would give up so many things to not lose them. Sorry, can't live without our pets.

6. TV and Movies.

We have cut back so far already. We are saving money everyplace else, please don't take the TV and Movies. Of course this includes the cable, too. We quit going to the mall and sporting events, shows and vacations. The TV is our only source of entertainment. So I can justify my 42" plasma screen with HD. We don't do anything else so can we keep it? Sorry, can't live without TV.

7. Drinking.

Yes, I mean booze. Also beer and wine.  Obviously people have cut back going out. During hard times you know people drink a lot more to self medicate. To give this item up is going to very hard. Maybe because of addiction problems. But also because we love the stuff. More people are drinking at home to save money. So, sorry can't live without drinking.

Even faced with hard financial decisions, loss of jobs and money there are somethings we can't live without. We will give up other things to have some creature comforts. The meaning of the words want and needs have become blurred. What were once luxuries are now necessities. What things can you not live without?    

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why Read Books?

BooksImage via Wikipedia

We read in school. Fiction and nonfiction. When I was in school we read all the time. We need to always be learning. Wealthy people read one non-fiction book every month. According to the book "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas Stanley. But, why read books now that your an adult. 
I had to seek out someone more knowledgeable than myself to see the academic or philosophical reason. I found a man named Harold Bloom. Harold Bloom is an 80 year old American writer and literary critic, currently Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University. He's had a lifelong study and love for books. He's written and taught about literature his whole life. And just so happened to write a book called "How To Read And Why". So he was the perfect source to answer my question. 
I found in Bloom's book an in depth discussion, I am noting what I think our the most important items. 
Reading helps people form their own judgements and opinions

You read for your own self interest.

Reading is to prepare ourselves for change

We must read as the as Bible student searches for the truth.

We read not to refute, believe, or take for granted but to weigh and consider.

We read to let the book find us.

We read to strengthen self and learn your authentic interests.

We read not to improve our neighbor but ourselves.

We read for a mind greater than our own. 
There are many good reasons to read. His favorite author, Shakespeare, holds an abundance of examples of reasons to read. His reason to read books can be summarized with Shakespeare's works, "Shakespeare is waiting to speak to you." 
Bloom's book has given me something new to think about. But isn't that what he's trying to tell us. That reading opens new doors in our mind that we didn't know we had. Reading takes your point of view and let's you see things through a different lens. It's like when your traveling in a plane or pictures of the Earth from space. What a completely different point of view you have. What completely new thoughts enter your head. That's what reading can do for you. Now go read something. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Are You Responsible For Your Husband Or Wife's Debt?

First 4 digits of a credit cardImage via Wikipedia
In short the answer is yes and no. Most people before marriage have some kind of debt be it credit card or student loans. This debt acquired before marriage is not the responsibility of the other spouse. It's debt you take on jointly is your responsibility. 
There are ways you can take on the responsibility of pre-marriage debt. On credit cards you can become a joint account holder. On the good side you get all the benefits of your spouses good credit history. On down side whatever debts they have are now your legal responsibility, too. 
What if your spouse takes on debt, be it mortgage or credit card, after your married. Is the other spouse responsible? The bad news is yes. What ever you do when your married reflects on the other spouse. 
What happens to the individual debts your spouse has upon their death? Joint debt is the responsibility of the surviving spouse. The individual debt most be paid off by the estate left by the spouse. If the late spouse owns anything it must be sold to pay off the debts outstanding. Anything left over goes to the surviving spouse or whoever the the will indicates. Of course it's best to consult a lawyer in the state you reside in to do this process legally. 
If your spouse does have previous debt before marriage, morally it becomes yours. If you want to marry the person, you take the good with the bad. Their debt is now your debt. To build a strong marriage you help each other in many ways, why not with the debt. Cleaning up the debt will only strengthen the financial foundation of the marriage. When it's paid off you have more money to put towards both your futures. 

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