Showing posts with label Your Children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Your Children. Show all posts

Saturday, August 3, 2013

5 Ways to Decrease The Cost of Sending Your Kids to Pre-School

According to advisor Kathleen McCartney, PhD, dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "There's increasing evidence that children gain a lot from going to preschool." Kathleen continues, "At preschool, they become exposed to numbers, letters, and shapes. And, more important, they learn how to socialize -- get along with other children, share, contribute to circle time."

Studies show that a majority of kids attend at least one year of preschool: According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), more than 66% of 4-year-olds and more than 40 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in a preschool in 2005. "Children who attend high-quality preschool enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not," says NIEER director W. Steven Barnett, PhD.

While pre-school is very important, it can also be a costly venture. Experts at Payday advance from El Paso TX suggest the following five tips to decrease the cost of your child's pre-school education:

While pre-school is very important, it can also be a costly venture. The following five tips will help decrease the cost of your child's pre-school education:

Compare Different Pre-Schools in Your Area

Comparison shopping will always save you money. Take a look at different pre-schools in your area and what they have to offer in terms of activities for the children, if any food is provided and how long they are open on a daily basis. Some pre-schools offer different services for different amounts of money.

Home-Based Pre-Schools May Be Cheaper

Large pre-schools often carry a lot of overhead expenses, especially with the salaries that are paid to the teachers.

Home-based pre-schools carry less expenses and often times are better for children because of the personal attention they get. Make sure you find a home-based school that you trust and that has excellent references.

Government Subsidies and Other Financial Programs

Every state has financial aid for low income families who can't afford pre-school. You can find out more about this type of aid by asking the pre-school that you plan to send your child to.

If state financial aid is out of the question, many pre-schools offer financial assistance as well. If you can't afford to make the entire payment at once, payment plans are a great option. Normally, these types of plans will require some sort of down payment and monthly payments throughout the year.


Co-ops are parent-organized pre-schools. These always involve parents taking turns on a daily basis to watch the children. While these types of schools do involve a small fee and a participation requirement, the savings are huge when compared to mainstream pre-schools.

Similar to other home-based pre-schools, make sure the parents you sign up with are trustworthy. The best thing to do is to start a co-op between you and other friends who have children of similar ages.

Research Schools Outside Your Area

Houston, Texas is a large urban area with many suburban cities surrounding it. If you live outside of Houston but commute into the city, consider taking your child with you to a pre-school near your place of employment.

If you live in a high income area, your best bet may be to look outside your city. Many cities are overflowing with pre-schools which makes the competition stiff and the prices lower. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Do You Plan to Help Finance Your Childrens' Weddings?

Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love
Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love (Photo credit:

With the average wedding now costing $27,000, tying the knot has never been more expensive. Although over a third of couples are choosing to finance their big day completely themselves, many parents still wish to contribute to the cost. Even if there is no hint of a wedding in sight, if you have daughters in their teens or twenties – or sons for that matter - you may want to consider how you will save money to put towards their future wedding.

When to start saving

One thing that’s for sure is it’s never too soon to start saving; before you know it they’ll be grown up and engaged and it’s easier to put a little money away each month than to have to find extra money within the space of a year. It’s popular for parents to start a wedding fund after they've put their kids through college, as once this financial obstacle has been cleared you obviously have more available cash. However, this is not necessarily practical if you have a large family of widely varying ages, in which case you may have to juggle the two. Either way, the best course of action might be to participate in a dedicated regular saving scheme, looking at your current earnings and outgoings to determine a realistic amount that can be saved each month. If you do have a lump sum of money available to invest for the purpose you might wish to invest in a portfolio of bonds and stocks, which can potentially provide much greater returns; though there is inevitably an element of risk with these.

Don’t jeopardize your retirement

A couple of 14-carat gold wedding rings. Pictu...
A couple of 14-carat gold wedding rings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While you want your daughter’s wedding day to be the best of her life, it’s important to be realistic about how much you can afford to contribute. It would be foolish to save for her wedding at the expense of your retirement; if you can’t give as much money as you would have liked, it doesn't mean you are letting them down and they’ll more than understand. Your children will be well aware of the current financial crisis and the negative impact this will have had on your savings accounts and pension plans. If your daughter is recently engaged, sit down with her and her fiancé and explain how much money you are able to provide; this means they can plan a wedding within the budget they have available to them, rather than basing it around additional money that you can no longer afford to give. Remember after all that for the majority of weddings the costs are now split three ways between the bride’s family, the groom’s family and the couple themselves, so you should not feel under any undue pressure to foot the whole bill.

Avoid getting into debt

On a similar note to that above, don’t be tempted to get into debt to help finance a wedding. While this might seem like your only option if the prospect of a wedding is suddenly thrust upon you  and you have not had the chance to prepare specific savings, it’s important to keep in perspective that it’s only one day and not even your child’s wedding  is worth getting into debt over. It might seem easy enough to make a payment on a credit card or to take out a loan, but when you consider the interest rates you will be charged for the privilege of doing so, the money you owe will quickly mount up. You wouldn't want your children to get into debt in this way, so follow your own advice. Use the rule of thumb that you will only pay for what you can afford to do so in cash; by paying with cash you can also usually receive discounts on your purchases, with everyone from florists to photographers ready to do a deal with you.

Be aware of the true costs

Before generously offering to pay for a number of items relating to the wedding, be aware of exactly how much they will cost. It might be hard to believe, but the average wedding dress would set you back $1,355, photography now stands at $2,186 and wedding cakes cost almost $500, so that’s over $4,000 before you have even considered the cost of the venue, catering and hiring a car for the day. These figures are based on the findings of the 2012 American Wedding Survey; more details of which are available online and makes useful reading if you feel out of touch with how much it now costs to get married

However, don’t let your knowledge of the true cost sway you into upping the amount of money you decide to give your daughter and your son-in-law to be. Rather than offering to pay for specific items it is probably wiser to offer a set amount of money which they can spend as they see fit.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Teaching Teens to Save Money

Teens sharing earphones, listening music outdo...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Parents mostly complain that teenagers do not listen to them. The opposite is true when it comes to advice regarding 'money matters'. Teens actually welcome their parent’s input about their finances. 
In the past few years, teenagers have earned billions of dollars with part-time and summer jobs. 

Some have spent most of what they earned, while others saved most or even all of it for a big purchase, or for their college education. 

Kids these days are becoming more and more aware of their family's source of income and financial status. They apply these money-spending principles when they venture out on their own. 

Thus, it becomes more of a parent’s responsibility to start “training” their teenage kids to use their money wisely. 

Here are some ways on how you, as a parent, can teach your teens to save those hard-earned bucks: 

1. Lead by example. 

With your lifestyle, the children will see how you spend your money. If they see you allotting a certain amount for a specific household need, they will eventually do the same when they get to earn their own keep. 

2. Help your teens get a bank account

Establishing a bank account under their name would give them an instant financial responsibility. Sit down and explain to them how to manage their own account, and the “rewards” that they get once they save enough.Their savings could go to their college tuition, or a big purchase like a car. 

Additionally, it gives them a sense of accomplishment once they have saved up, with something concrete to show for it. You may check out the special benefits that banks offer for teens who open their accounts at such an early age. 

3. Construct a “spending plan”. 

Once they hear the word 'budget', teens tend to cringe at the mere thought of having to restrict the spending of their money. Instead, you and your teen son or daughter could build a “spending plan”. This would get them excited, and think of ways on how they can wisely spend their savings.

Also, have them list down their earnings versus their expenses. Let them know the difference between the items that they need and the luxury items that they want, which they can actually do without.

4. Make a “mock” investment in the stock market. 

Make them aware of the options that they have financially. Casually introduce to them the business part of your daily newspapers and have them make “mock” investments for companies who manufactures products that they like. Monitor the stocks together and this would give them another option of investing their money in the future. 

You can teach your children good habits and many of them will learn them. But there are always the kids that know everything already. These you can only do so much with. Don't be discouraged if they take your advice. These kinds of kids need to learn from their own mistakes. And hopefully they do.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Help Your College Graduate Decide - Work or Grad School

Graduate School of Education Diploma Ceremony
Graduate School of Education Diploma Ceremony (Photo credit: fordhamalumni)

Your son or daughter just graduated with their four year degree. You are relieved because the financial stress of paying college is over. Your happy that your child got a great education. Your planning and hard work has paid off and now you can use your money to do something to better your own life. Think again.

Dreams of grad school have been pervading the thoughts of your new graduate and they are thinking of continuing college to pursue a graduate degree. Maybe jobs are scarce and now would be the perfect time to get that masters degree.

I am about to face this decision in my own home. My daughter has one more year to go with college and she thinks her chances of being hired would increase if she went for a masters degree. In her field, there are jobs that a bachelors degree would be adequate. We have been discussing it for a while and no decision has been made yet. 

If you are experiencing this same dilemma I want to offer you a few things to think about before making a final decision.

1. Make sure the extra degree will payoff. Going to grad school is no cheap proposition. You can invest 10's of thousands of dollars pursuing an advanced degree. Be sure it's going to make a real difference. 

Seek out people who already have the degree and inquire if it really is necessary. Talk to hiring managers, ask them if the grad school degree is something they see as valuable. 

When considering grad school be careful not to rule out working for a while in your field in an entry level job. There could be jobs available. Sometimes we get caught up in the education process and put to much weight into the schooling and not working.

2. Consider going part-time.
The cost of grad school, according to Money Magazine, can average $22,000 a year for a public university. With a private university costing $34,000 a year. Why not cut down on these costs by attending part-time. This way you may not have to take student loans and you will be able to work. Depending on your employer, you may even be able to have your employer help pay for your education. You trade a future commitment at your job for a free education.

3. Government assistance.
If you are so determined to go to grad school you are still able to qualify for student loans. You need to fill out the FASFA form and go through the process but you will have the money needed to attend grad school.

4. Take all available tax breaks.
There are many tax breaks for returning students. If you make under $57,000 you can take advantage of the Lifetime Learning Credit. Even the use of 529 college savings plans are still available to you so you can shield earnings dedicated to funding education.

There is a continual controversy whether the parents should pay or the student should pay for post bachelor degree college. Some parents believe that a four year degree is their only obligation to their children and further studies is on the students dime.

If the parents have the means to pay the cost of grad school then why not pay. But if parents have been struggling all the while and maybe even under funding their own retirement isn't time to cut the cord and let the new grad stand on their own two feet. 

In my situation, grad school will be a cost my daughter will have to provide. Luckily for her and me she will be able to find a entry level job with her four year degree. She will be able to support herself and pay for her own grad school costs. 

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 @

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Should You Charge Your Grown Kids Rent?

Cover of "Failure to Launch (Special Coll...Cover via AmazonThings sure are different these days. With the bad economy and lack of jobs more kids are coming back to the nest to let the parents take care of them. I guess I was lucky, I moved out at 23 years old and have been supporting myself ever since. 

In my house we have 5 grown kids and one 12 year old. The oldest has been out for several years, three are in college, and one is just bumming around. With the 3 in college, one lives at home and the others away. The ones that are away love their freedom and do not want to come back. But the one resident child we have has no intention of leaving for the near future. His failure to launch or even prepare to launch is frustrating us.

It has crossed our minds to charge him rent. Financially it is our plan to downgrade in house so as to cut down our expenses and save more for retirement. Plus the large house takes a lot of money for maintenance, which could be used for savings and fun. With no plans to leave the home we are getting anxious over the problem.


There are two sides to this issue. Many parents see it as their duty to continue to care for their children no matter how long it takes for them to become independent. They may feel as if they are taking advantage of their children by taking rent money from them, especially if the child is living at home to save for a house of her own.

On the other hand, many parents believe that charging rent helps their children mature and learn responsibility.

As this chart depicts there is a increasing trend of the so called "Boomerang Kids" coming home more and more. 

I think when a child reaches 23 years old and up they have an obligation to contribute to the family home. Is $50 per week so much to ask? Some parents believe and I do to that you are teaching that it's OK to depend on mom and dad when things are not going to well. Being able to come back to the nest may get to be a habit if the grown child is given free room and board. Are we as parents teaching are children well by making it easy for them. Free rent can encourage an entitlement sentiment in your children. For their sake charging them rent teaches many lessons. 

Now if there is some financial hardship for the child not to pay, then letting them stay for free is giving them necessary help in time of need. 

Strike a Balance

If you feel bad about taking money from your children then I propose you take it anyway and save it for when they move out. It can be used as a deposit, money to cover moving expenses, or to buy furniture. Your conscience can be relieved with this option.

However, the decision is ultimately yours as a parent.  You should make your decision based on what is best for your child. Does your decision move them forward or just enable them? Just make sure when your adult child moves back in that the ground rules and financial expectations are clearly outlined.


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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Money Matters for Parents of Teenagers

Many parents are responding to the financial crisis by teaching their kids more about money. They are making sure their children are learning the lessons of today's financial difficulties. 

Most families have made it a priority to teach their children the proper way to handle money. Showing them how to use a checking and savings account was always a normal step in their development. But today it is regarded as a high priority in preparing our kids for the future.

In a recent study, the findings revealed, 58% of parents in the United States report talking more about money with their children in the past 12 months than ever before, and that 92% of parents say they feel personal finance and financial education should be taught as part of the school curriculum. The studies results were surprisingly one sided in the extent of the parents emphasis that their children were being educated in the schools curriculum on matters of money and money management.

Parents wanted their children to be taught the basics of money management and they were willing to work with schools by reinforcing lessons at home. The three elements in money management that they wanted especially taught were those listed here:

1. An allowance or earning money from chores.
This is where parents are the most confused on what to do. All money situations are opportunities to teach. Remember that your trying to solve a problem now but be careful you are not teaching them a bad habit that will hurt them when they are adults. Allowances are the old fashion way we all grew up with. Allowances were akin to charity, their was no work performed. But in my family, there were no allowances. It was Work = Money, when you performed a task around the house you received compensation. It taught that money did not come until work took place first. It was a good lesson that stood with me even till today when I use the same idea on my children.

2. Planning where money is going to be spent.
Yes, even children must learn how to budget their money. When they blow all their money as soon as they get it in their little hands, history will repeat itself if the parents don't step in and teach how to make a spending plan. "Spending plan" is a nicer way to say budget. A spending plan gives a feeling of being in charge of your money while budgeting sounds like work. How you explain an idea is as important as what the idea is.

This spending plan will also encompass lessons that children need to learn how to determine a want from a need. Also the postponement of pleasure now, for a greater benefit later. If you can get your teenager to learn that,
 you are making a major accomplishment.

3. A plan to save money.
It's hard for even adults to know the right amount to save depending on personal circumstances. But with children it is easy. They can just set up a percentage of 25 or 33 percent of their money into a savings fund. It can be in a bank savings account or in a sealed jar where they can't get at it. When they see their money growing it will make them feel a sense of accomplishment and encourage them to do more. This lesson is one that hopefully follows them into adulthood.

All parents hope to that their children can learn these lessons. These lessons have always been the foundation of money management. With lessons and curriculum at school, reinforced with real life lessons at home, our children will have a firm foundation to stand on in adulthood.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Start Them Young If You Want To Raise Savers And Not Spenders

ceramic piggy bankImage via WikipediaThe most common way to save for college is 529 college savings plans. Mom and Dad dutifully scrimp and save for 18 years till junior is ready for college and hopefully there is enough in the account to cover college costs. For many families money is tight and the amount saved is not as much as hoped for. We are going to be living in this reduced economy for some time to come so things have to change.

A family financial crisis or success is always a good chance to teach personal finance to your children. Why not use the saving for college as one of these lessons. Some parents feel bad if they can't provide for their kids as they wish they could but again this is a lesson, the kids of the family should learn, for their own benefit.

I have been watching locally and nationally the problems pension and retirement funds are having. Municipalities, the Post Office, and unions are having an increasingly harder time fulfilling pension payments because of reduced revenue. The only way to make these plans work is for employees to make a larger contribution out of their own pocket. This relates to the troubles families have funding college costs and saving for retirement. The recipients of the college funds, your kids, are going to have to make a larger contribution to its success.

The value to saving is a lesson lost in many families. Some families are bringing their children up in an environment of material consumption. Those days are over if you want to have a funded college savings account. Getting the kids involved is key. That means when they receive money as gifts or from working, some of that money has to go toward their college education costs. That means it has to be saved and not spent on the latest electronic gadget. A hard thing to do in todays society.

The 529 college savings plan is a good option, but there are other ways to teach the kids to save:

Roth IRAs:

You can open a custodial Roth IRA for your child no matter how old they are and only if they show some earned income, even if it's from washing cars. Even if they don't make enough to file an income tax you must still keep records. You don't get a deduction from your Roth but you do get to withdraw tax free at retirement. This year, the contribution is limited to the lesser of the individual's income from work or $5,000. it's never to early to put some money away for retirement.


These accounts are similar to 529s in that they enable investors to accumulate money tax-free to pay for qualifying education expenses. Investors typically can pick from a much wider range of investments than with a 529 plan, though the annual contribution is limited to $2,000 per child. Coverdells, unlike 529s, also may be used to pay for qualifying expenses from kindergarten through high school. Some families use Coverdells to complement a 529.

UGMA/UTMA accounts:

Accounts set up under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act and the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act involve an irrevocable gift of cash or securities made to a minor and managed by a custodian. Account earnings are taxable, and income over certain minimums may be taxed at the parents' rate rather than the child's.

Saving for the future is not something kids look at with pleasure. They have to be taught it is a part of a life long way of life. Even for me saving is a sacrifice, but it will be one that pays off in the future.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kidflation Affects The Children With Higher Prices At The Candy Store

2010 Chile earthquake - Kids playing in TalcahuanoImage via WikipediaMom and Dad think they have it bad, with paying $4.00 for gas to go to the supermarket to shop for ever rising food prices. Kids have it rough too in this economic downturn. While adults are feeling retail prices increasing 8.5%, kids are feeling it worse in the pocket book with a rise of 14.3% for the things they need to buy.

Typical costs for kid purchases of sweets and candy have risen 24% on average. Soft drinks are up 16% and kids clothing is also up 17%. To make matters worse for the kids, Mom and Dad are handing out less and less pocket money. Some parents have reduced or eliminated giving the kids their pocket money. Though many parents are making the kids earn their extra money by taking on additional chores around the house.

This terrible affect of the recession on kids has helped them learn the cold hard facts of life. They are learning money is finite and you have to work for the money you receive. Today's kids have many more hands out for their money. Also income from jobs and chores have not kept up with the prices. If they have jobs they are probably receiving the minimum wage. With expensive gas, movie tickets, clothes and cell phones the kids are having a hard time making ends meet.

The high cost of video games is affecting junior's pocket book. The average new, must have video game sells for $50. Being in the baby boomer generation, thinking of spending $50 on toys when I was young, Mom and Dad would of thought I was crazy to spend that much.

Teach good lessons

All this spending can be used to teach good economic behavior to your children. Teaching wants verse needs is a lesson that can be taught at a young age. This kind of lesson probably will have to be taught again and again depending on the maturity level of the child.

Teach how money is earned

Handing the kids an allowance is not a good idea because it teaches money is free with no action taken by the child to receive it. Rather teach the child to work for their allowance by doing chores around the house. Linking their regular chores with the money teaches WORK = MONEY. If you get that lesson into that head of mush it will be the best thing you can do for your child.

Teach how money is used

When they finally receive their money they must be taught how to make financial decisions in life. This is the parents time to guide the youth in making good spending decisions. Eventually they will be on their own and you won't have this influence anymore. The kids should learn to spend and save for future spending. Eventually, you should not be paying for everything. So start by keeping things simple. Kids (via their allowance) pay for the wants (toys, snacks, gifts for friends). Parents pay for needs (school supplies, Grandpa’s birthday present) and the expenses that are random or unpredictable (class trips). Of course, it’s still your money. But transferring the responsibility for those expenses to the child gives them the chance to learn to budget and save and make wise choices.

Learn to let go.

You have taught them how to spend now step back and let them try it out. If they do well with their spending you have accomplished a lot. If they fail miserably you have an opportunity to use the failure to teach a lesson. Remember this is a process. As their maturity level rises, or doesn't rise, you will have to at time step in and reinforce the lessons not quite learned yet.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Big Bird Wants To Teach Your Children About Money

Big BirdImage by LR_PTY via FlickrBecause of our current economic climate, financial literacy, or lack of it, is in the forefront. Teaching of these vital skills have been put on the back burner at many schools. Researchers and educators think it's time to bring financial education back to the schools and even to the very youngest of children. Even without a basic organized education, children are being educated by their parents whenever Mom and Dad use a credit card or use an ATM. Through observation of their parents behaviors in life, children are learning behaviors, both good and bad.

There is a lack of educational materials to help teachers in the classroom. To combat this lack of educational materials for children to use to learn about money, Sesame Workshop has started a program called "For Me, for You, for Later: First Steps to Spending, Sharing, and Saving". With a 100 million dollar program, over a ten year period, Sesame Workshop has developed a learning experience for children. This program is being paid for by PNC Bank.

All this is happening at and Also more video content is available at Itunes and VOD. The titles to search for are called "Learn Along with Sesame".

At there is a large amount of teaching materials amount money lessons. There are games to play, videos to watch, and printable items for fun and learning. All the Sesame characters are used in the videos to teach about money and the proper ways to use your money.

What's Being Taught?

The foundational teaching is concerned with showing the children to properly use their personal money. They are taught that you divide your money up three ways. In three separate piggy bank jars you label each jar "Saving, Giving, and Spending". The saving jar is to teach how you must save for future wants and needs. The Spending jar is for current purchases, and the giving jar is used to help others. In the videos, children are shown with their parents shopping with their spending jar, at the toy store. Also the children use their savings jar to save money to buy a more expensive item, sometime in the future. There are videos showing how the giving jar is used to buy cat food for abandoned cats at a shelter.

These videos are at the perfect level for small children. There are no religious subjects mentioned. Also purchases by a small child is are mainly things a 8 year old would like to buy. All the materials are politically correct and do not step on anyones toes. It's nice to see how basic moral values could be taught without bringing in any specific religion.

The website has many things to explore. Your child's favorite characters like the Count, Elmo, Cookie Monster, and others also appear. There is a mobile site if needed. Also there are parent-educator materials to help in implementing the great content. Also on the site are more links to Sesame Streets interesting educational websites.

I liked the idea of using Sesame Streets well known characters to teach a basic foundation on money. The three jar system is a great stepping stone to more mature teachings in the future. I was surprised at the section on the teaching of "Giving". That was the hook that got me interested in the program. They could of just of taught about saving and spending, but the giving part, helps you teach on being unselfish. A hard concept for to teach a 5 year old. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Would You Move To Another Country If It Meant You Would Prosper?

American investor Jim Rogers in Madrid (Spain)...Image via WikipediaFamed global investor Jim Rogers says if you want to prosper in the 21st Century, move to Asia. You may not know that Jim Rogers has put his money where his mouth is and did move to Singapore in 2007. He is raising his two little girls there and making sure they learn Mandarin. He is very bullish on Asia and says it's the place to be for the 2000's. He says it's not only for the success of his own assets. But for positioning his heirs for success.

He stated:

"In 1807, if you had moved to the U.K., you and your heirs would have been much, much better off for the next 100 years. If in 1907 you had moved to the U.S., you and your heirs would have been much better off for the next 100 years. 
In 1907, if you had stayed in Poland or China, you would not have had a great future, nor your families. Had you moved to America, [your descendants] would have had a much better future. Who knew what they would do, if they would become doctors or what, in the next 100 years. But whatever happens to them, they were better off. They spoke English, which became the world's language. 
My view is that the 21st century is going to be the century of Asia, of China. If I'm right about the future, you are going to have a better life [if you move there], better opportunities, and better everything going where the action is, where the assets are."
In my view, moving to Asia in 2007 means my heirs are going to be much better off in the next 100 years.
A thoughtful explanation of the last 2 centuries of history. But will it happen again in Asia? Jim Rogers is wealthy enough to move wherever he wants. Also he can do business from any part of the world. But Asia is where the action is for the 21st century, he claims.

Think for a minute, would you leave the U.S and move to another country for financial gain? We know millions that have left their country and traveled to the U.S. They did it for a better future for their family. It's the same idea Jim Rogers is talking about. Is he so wrong to do the exact thing?

Could you pick up and leave the U.S. Many already live abroad and are happy doing it. At first it seemed I didn't think I could make the leap. If offered an enticing job abroad, would I go for it? I don't know. What do you think? Would you ever leave the U.S.?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How Do I Motivate My Son to Save Money?

Children volunteeringImage via Wikipedia

In life I believe most people are not born savers. So take this into account when your trying to help someone change direction. I was a spender for most of my life and did not change direction until I was forced to, out of necessity. Even then it didn't happen overnight, there was a lot of false starts along the way.

Kids are especially tough to motivate. They are usually so immature it's hard to find a way to reach them. They are inundated by a constant barrage of TV ads, showing them nice shiny things to buy. They actually expect their parents to buy them these things. So back to the question; How do I motivate my son to save?

There isn't a one size, fits all answer to the question. Like me you will have to find something your child feels strongly about. Kids always want you to buy them something. This is your opportunity to use the situation to teach a lesson. Showing them that life is about prioritizing todays wants and integrating them into long term goals. 

One technique I have used to teach my kids is to relate a story about my youth. I told them the story about when I was young and went to my parents to buy me a bicycle. I described how they couldn't afford it and told me to save up for it. I had a small job at my Dad's work, sweeping up. I worked many months at that job. Over time I made enough to buy that bicycle. I told them that the way to get things was to work for them. I told them that they must learn WORK=MONEY. My Dad taught me that lesson and I will be sure to teach that to my children.

You must show your kids how present choices affect their future options. Talking to your kids about the things they need and want. Letting them come up with ways to reach their goals. Kids know they have to save for things but they chose not to because they are in the "I want it now" mode. Getting them to stop acting like this, only comes with time.

I am lucky to have 3 out of 5 children that have learned saving is the way to operate. But the other 2 don't quite get the idea and are taking a little longer to catch on. I firmly believe that if your children don't learn to work and make their own way they just could be living with you the rest of your life.

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, January 24, 2011

4 Misconceptions About College Financial Aid

The exterior main entrance of Old Scona Academ...Image via Wikipedia
It's that time of year again when dreaded FASFA forms have to be filled out. The form that strikes fear in first year college students parents. FASFA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It's a form that must be filled out so your student can apply for financial aid. It's quite a large multi page form that can be filled out online. We have 3 college students in the house so 3 forms must be filled out. 

At first it was a scary proposition to to enter your data concerning income, savings, and a variety of information at first. But we got through it and are receiving a helpful amount of money to help pay for college, now. We couldn't put 3 through college without it. This aid consists of grants paid to the school directly. It is not a loan, its a flat out grant. which is good because there will be no debt after graduation.

A lot of parents have mistaken preconceived notions about this process. Some of the misconceptions are:

1. I make too much money to qualify for financial aid. You shouldn't automatically assume that you won't qualify for need-based assistance. How much income you earn is only one part of the equation. What also matters is the price of a particular college. For example, some families that don't qualify for aid at moderately priced state schools may be in line for considerable help at pricey universities.

You can obtain an early assessment of whether your family might qualify for aid by using a free financial aid calculator. A calculator will produce an estimated Expected Family Contribution, which is what colleges would expect you to pay, at a minimum, for one year of school.

2. My home equity will kill my chances for aid. Most colleges won't care if you own a house and won't count home equity against you if you do. That's because the majority of schools rely on the federal aid application, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which doesn't ask parents if they own a home.

3. I have saved to much in my child's college fund. In reality, less than 4% of families are penalized for their savings. Even if you have state pre-paid college plans you don't have to worry because they won't be held against you.

 4. Don't think filling out financial forms are a waste of time or your odds of receiving aid is low. You will receive nothing if you don't apply. If you try you may be pleasantly surprised.

The FAFSA will be available beginning Jan. 1 for the 2011-2012 school year. The application should not take long if you gather the necessary documents before you begin. You can find out what information you'll need to complete the FAFSA by checking out the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet.

Also, the FAFSA on the Web Application has undergone dramatic changes for 2011-12, so be prepared for a new look. The changes are positive and the FAFSA Worksheet for 2011-12 can be accessed by using the "Browse Help" button in the header area of the website.

You can find College Cost calculators at the College Board and at TuitionCoach

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