Family

Swinging for the Fences or Settling for a Single

Several different books I’ve read in the last few years – Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers being one – have argued that the best way (without an inherent genetic advantage) to become an “outlier” in a particular skill is to practice a tremendous amount. The number often used is 10,000 hours of practice. If you divide that …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

4 Steps to Take If You Loan Money to Friends or Family

This article first appeared at US News and World Report Money. A friend or a family member is struggling with a financial problem. That person comes to you and asks you to lend money to help them through their crisis. What do you do? This situation comes up quite often in tightly-knit families where there …

Categories: Debt Management, Family

A Few Thoughts on Couples and Spending

This past weekend, Sarah and I enjoyed a “getaway weekend” in the Amana Colonies with another couple that we’ve been friends with for many years. Whenever Sarah and I have a “getaway weekend,” we plan ahead for a budget for that trip, setting a soft limit on how much we’re going to spend on food …

Six Principles of a Marriage Without Money Fights

During the first three or four years of our marriage, Sarah and I regularly argued about money issues. It never seemed as though there was enough money to pay for everything and, of course, it must be the other person’s fault, so we’d argue. Now? I honestly can’t remember our last argument about money. We …

Categories: Family

Parenting, Permissiveness, and Money

Sarah and I have a laid-back policy when it comes to how our children spend their money. We regulate their allowance to a certain extent by requiring that they give a certain amount to charity and save some for the future (as discussed here). We also require that they put aside a little for a …

Categories: Family

The Challenge of the “Best” Choice

As I write this article, my three year old son is perched on my lap with my arms around him. He’s playing with one of his favorite toys, a Transformer that’s easy to transition from a fire truck to a robot, and he’s telling me stories about them. He’s happy and safe and secure sitting …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

A Few Thoughts About My Wife

It is often said that a major part of success is filling your life with people who encourage your positive growth and your success. Every single success in my life over the past decade or so has been tightly interwoven with the efforts of my wife, Sarah. There is no major success that I would …

The Costs – and Rewards – of Having Children

Erika writes: “My husband and I are weighing the pros and cons of having a baby. We have seen articles that estimate that the cost of raising a child from birth to adulthood is around $250,000 which seems incredible. If you have three kids that would mean you’re putting up $750,000 just to raise them, …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

Why Lending Money to Family Is a Bad Idea

I have very few fundamental rules of personal finance that I follow. Spend less than you earn is a big one, but once you get past that, there tend to be exceptions to most rules in life. However, there is one principle that I’ve followed for a long time that has never guided me wrong. …

Children, Failure, Careers, and Money

Like virtually every parent in the world, I want to see my children succeed. I love it when they take on something challenging and then overcome it. This is a big part of the parenting philosophy that Sarah and I hold. We regularly encourage our children to take on challenging things, whether it’s a hard …

Categories: Careers, Family

The Reality of Inheritance

The Reality of Inheritance A surprising number of readers write in to me asking about whether or not they should change their financial plans to account for a healthy inheritance from their parents. Often, these are children who see their recently-retired parents having a significant amount of cash that the children believe they will eventually …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

Teaching Kids About Money

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a parent is watching as your child’s mind grows. An infant relies on you for virtually everything, but as time passes, that infant becomes a toddler, then a child. At each step – seemingly on a daily basis – that child’s ability to make decisions and think …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Finding Valuable (and Inexpensive) Ways to Connect with My Children

One of the most powerful parts of parenthood is the fact that you get to watch your children grow and change over time. They start off as babies, where the bonding is easy. You can hold them in your arms, feed them, sing to them, and rock them to sleep on your shoulder. Soon, they …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

Is Minimum Wage Worth It for a Married Couple?

Lacey writes in: “My husband makes about $45K per year working for the state. I make just a hair above minimum wage – $8 per hour – working in the kitchen at a restaurant. I don’t mind the work but I have been wondering whether it makes sense for me to be doing this. After …

Categories: Family

Wishing for the Best for Your Children? Make the Best Instead

Almost every parent out there has dreams for their children. They want their children to have a happy life, no matter what path they take. They want their children to see success in whatever life paths they choose. They want their children to find love and perhaps also want their children to know the joys …

Categories: Family

Reflections on a Child’s Birthday

Our oldest child celebrated a birthday this week. He received several gifts and had a small party, which is almost exactly what he asked for. Over the years, we’ve had big parties and small parties. Our children have received many gifts at once and just a few gifts. We’ve had elaborate celebrations and simple ones. …

An Experience at the Store with My Three Year Old Son

A few days ago, I found myself at a store with my three year old son. I had to stop in and pick up a few items because we had some extended family members visiting us. So, the two of us strolled through the store. He’s decided that he’s too big to ride in the …

Categories: Family

Trick or Treat! Halloween Candy as a Personal Finance Lesson

This evening, my children will be dressing up and running about in their neighborhood, knocking on doors and requesting candy. If they match last year’s performance, they’ll be bringing home multiple pounds of mini candy bars, Sweet Tarts, and other goodies. Naturally, they’ll eat a few pieces while they’re out and about – I certainly …

Categories: Family

Inequality Among Children

When I was younger, I was always frustrated when my parents didn’t treat their children exactly the same. I thought it was unfair when they would do something to help one of my brothers, but I also thought it was unfair when they would do something to help me individually. Why couldn’t they just treat …

Categories: Family