• The Costs of Potty Training

    I’m proud to say that our youngest child is potty trained. He occasionally has an accident in the night time, but he hasn’t had a daytime accident in a long time. We’ve taken three children through this process and I felt it was worthwhile to share some thoughts on what products were actually necessary for …

  • Rethinking Allowance: Taking Off the Training Wheels

    As I mentioned recently, Sarah and I have noticed how our children’s relationship with their allowance has changed over the years. When we first started giving them an allowance, we used a simple strategy where they split their money up among several items – investing, charity, saving for a goal, and free spending. We only …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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, …

  • 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 …

  • Teaching Children Frugality

    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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • How to Talk to Young Children About Money

    A version of this article first appeared on US News and World Report Money. My six year old daughter has a passion for LEGOs. She loves opening up a new LEGO kit, browsing through the instructions, laying out all of the pieces carefully on the table, and following the instructions step by step to build …

  • Some Thoughts on Store-Sponsored Free Activities for Children

    As you’re reading this, my children are (probably) at Lowe’s (a hardware store) engaged in the store’s regular Saturday “Build and Grow” project. This time, they’re going to make “Spooky Stackers,” which is apparently a Jenga-like stacking game made out of wooden pieces. On the first Saturday of each month, Home Depot does a similar …

  • Are Parents Terrible Personal Finance Role Models?

    Recently, I came across this article from Time Business arguing – quite convincingly – that parents are poor financial role models for their kids. From the article: “Most parents (77%) say they are not always honest with their kids about money; 15% lie weekly. Half are willing to discuss saving and spending issues but almost …

  • Managing and Minimizing a Child’s Wants

    One of the true highlights of my day is the time I get to spend with my children. At different times, it gives me the chance to be a parent and a guiding force to them, but it also gives me the chance to look at the world through a different set of eyes for …

  • Parental Support and the “Salad Years”

    Mary writes in: “My son recently graduated from college and took a job with a startup. It doesn’t pay well, but he’s building some fantastic experience and connections and if the startup goes well he’ll be in on the ground floor. For now, though, he’s living in a tiny apartment with four other people and …