Family

The Teenager’s Car Conundrum

Sometimes, I get questions that are perfect for the Reader Mailbag, except that when I actually start writing out the answer, it turns into a full post. This is one of those times. Leslie writes in: My daughter is turning sixteen this August. We’re going to buy her a used car as a gift, but …

Frugality and Children

For breakfast this morning, our children had a bowl of plain generic Cheerios with milk and some strawberries from their garden. It was a pretty healthy breakfast, all around, and it was certainly cheap. All three of them finished their bowls, so they must have liked it. They don’t think of breakfast as a time …

Categories: Family, Frugality

The Lessons We Teach

Our children, like most children today, will choose something sweet when you give them a beverage choice. They’ll want fruit juice or a soda or something akin to that if I let the child make the choice. Thankfully, I’m a parent and I understand that it’s a terrible idea to establish a pattern that a …

Categories: Family, Frugality, Meals

Making Your Own Sidewalk Chalk

My children love drawing on the sidewalk and driveway in front of our house. They’ll draw huge pictures, hopscotch diagrams, long messages, and body tracings all over the place. My daughter particularly gets into this, as she recently filled a large portion of our driveway with a giant rainbow. I’m a big fan of sidewalk …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Should I Cosign a Loan?

I get this type of question all the time. A family member or a friend is trying to get a loan for some reason. Those evil banks won’t lend them any money. They want you to cosign their loan for them. It won’t cost you anything (so they say) and it’ll help a friend out! …

Categories: Debt Management, Family

Sheltered Children and Money Troubles

Although my parents never had a whole lot of money, they did a wonderful job of shielding me from that financial reality while I was growing up. I couldn’t help but be aware of the difficult situation sometimes, like when my father was laid off from the factory and would spend all of his time …

Categories: Family

A Seven Year Old Learns About Credit Cards

Here’s some food for thought for those of you out there raising children and hoping to teach them good lessons about money. I was at the store recently with my seven year old son. When it’s just the two of us, he’s very quiet and observant of what’s going on around him (he can be …

My Plan for Handling a Big Windfall

Kelly writes in: What would you do if you won the lottery? Since I don’t play the lottery, I’ll answer this question under the assumption that instead I’m just receiving a very big inheritance from my unknown Uncle Rockefeller and Aunt Vanderbilt. The first step I’d take is to make absolutely sure all taxes on …

Categories: Family, Investing

The Cost of Children

This morning, my youngest child woke me up at about five in the morning. He was standing there beside my bed whispering “Dad….. Dad…..” and just waiting until I opened my eyes. When I looked at him and greeted him, he said simply, “I make mess in bathroom.” He’s still in the latter stages of …

Categories: Family

Teaching Money Values at a Restaurant

A few nights ago, our family went out to dinner at a local restaurant. On the occasions when our family does eat out, our children are usually pretty excited for the event, as it’s a change of pace from eating at home every evening. They’re usually really observant and spend much of the meal asking …

Categories: Family, Frugality

The Fallback Question

For many people, the interesting career path that they feel most passionate about is one fraught with risk. Entrepreneurship. The creative arts. Professional sports. All of those career tracks – and many more – are ones where success is relatively hard to come by. Let’s say you’re a relatively skilled high school baseball player. You …

Categories: Careers, Education, Family

Teaching Kids How to Shop Around

Frugality is a toolset that anyone can use to squeeze more out of their dollars, and shopping around is just one of those tools. One of my biggest projects as a parent is to make my children intimately familiar with those tools, not just in terms of “seeing how Dad does it,” but finding ways …

Categories: Family

The Sandwich Generation and You

Recently, I read a fascinating study by the Pew Research Center indicating that somewhere around one in seven adults have simultaneously provided financial assistance to a parent aged 65 and older and to one of their own children of any age in the past year. A quick overview of this study: With an aging population …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

Helping Your Children

One of the questions I’ve really struggled with over the past several years is how much help I should provide to my children as they grow older, and what form that help should take. When I turned eighteen and left for college, my parents were more or less finished with their role as parents for …

Categories: Family

Some Thoughts on Shopping with Children

I have three children under the age of eight. The prospect of taking them all to the grocery store for a weekly grocery trip is something of a daunting one. While they do behave pretty well overall, they’re also children, and that brings about several problems. Things grab their attention easily. They get bored with …

Categories: Family

Correcting the Wrong Money Lessons

My two oldest children are in elementary school. They have a wide range of classmates from different ethnic, political, social, and economic backgrounds in their class. There are children of college professors in the classroom right next to the children of migrant workers of immigrants. Children in early elementary school are enormously influenced by the …

Categories: Family

Christmas Worries

In a recent reader mailbag, Dave wrote: Up until January, I had a wonderful job where I handled all of the IT needs for a small company in our area. At the end of last year, the company was sold and the jobs were folded together with another company with the “redundant” jobs being eliminated, …

Teaching Kids About Money: Raising Financially Fit Kids

Raising Financially Fit Kids by Joline Godfrey is one of a very small handful of personal finance books that focus on teaching kids about money and have made a deep impact on my life. The book’s focus is a straightforward one: how do you raise children so that they have a healthy relationship with money? …

Categories: Family

Fear, Frugality, and Parenting

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin A few weeks ago, there was a kidnapping scare in our area. A student was walking home from school when a person in a car pulled up next to her and asked her if …

Categories: Family