Start building credit before age 17 — that’s not to say you should get your kids their own charge cards if you don’t think they’re ready. But you need to monitor their credit reports early. [Read more…]
When speaking to my friend the other day about Christmas plans, she was detailing what she bought her eight year old for gifts. Included was a laptop. When I inquired about why the eight year old was getting a laptop, she explained that the current family computer wasn’t ”up to speed” in terms of processing for what the girl needed to accomplish school related projects. Knowing that the computer she was talking about was only three years old (since I was with her when she bought it) I called her bluff. I mean surely an eight year old isn’t doing that much computer related homework?And if she is, I’m confident that it doesn’t require that much processing power, let’s be honest! She fessed up that the kid wanted it so they were buying it, and that knowing she would be using it for school made her feel better and that’s what she had to tell herself to justify the purchase.
Am I alone in thinking if you have to justify purchasing an item, and if you’re not totally comfortable with it for whatever reason (an eight year old getting a $500 computer in this instance) that maybe you shouldn’t be buying it?
The other item that comes to mind is cell phones. I didn’t grow up with a cell phone, I didn’t have my first cell phone until university. I relied on the land lines at locations or using my friends parents cell phones (because there was no way my friends had phones of their own, that was unheard of). Though I can’t imagine my life now without one, I also can’t imagine my young child having access to her own iPhone. It blows my mind how many young kids (less than 15) I see with these devices. While I suspect when my little one is old enough to venture out away from mom and dad, we will get her an emergency only/call-mom-and-dad cell phone, I will not be buying her a $500 ‘phone’ that requires a $70+ monthly contract to be attached to it. If she wants one of those she can get herself a job and pay for it herself. Especially since I don’t think it is necessary that a younger that 16-year-old even have access to a device like this.
I understand that it is 2014 and things have changed a lot in the last few years, but there is no way an eight year old needs access to her own laptop or a ten-year-old needs the latest iPhone/Android/whatever. It is difficult to balance parenting, trends, and your child’s wants versus needs. I’m not suggesting you don’t buy wants for your children because a lot of what we buy for our kids as gifts are wants and not needs (toys etc) but we need to set realistic expectations for our kids. They need to understand when they want certain things they need to be willing to contribute towards the item since mom and dad are not open wallets.
At what age do you think it is appropriate to buy kids large items like cell phones, TVs and computers, if at all?
Now is the time that high school seniors take their college entrance exams and send out their application packages to the colleges of their choice. In so many ways, these kids are on the brink of adulthood. Yet, because very few high schools now have personal finance classes, many of these students are not ready to handle their own finances. However, in just one short year, they’ll be in college and financially independent.
Before your child leaves the nest, make sure you cover the personal finance basics with him or her.
Have the Student Loan Chat
Many students see the price tag for college and then see the financial aid package. If they get approved for enough loans, they think they’re okay and they can afford the particular college of their choice even though they’ll be buried in student loan debt.
Make sure that your child understands the repercussions or student loan debt completely. Show her how much she will be paying over the life of the loan. Let her know what her monthly payment will be and how much of that monthly payment will be interest alone. Show her how much she will likely take home from her job and how much of her salary those loans will eat into.
Teach Him to Save for Retirement
The earlier your child can save for retirement, the better. Again, give him hard numbers and show how much his money will grow the sooner he begins investing. Even investing 10 years earlier can make a big difference in the amount of money he has for retirement. In addition, show him some resources such as reading up on retirement on Suncorp’s website.
Teach Him to Live Like a Pauper in College
Sure, living in the best apartment on campus, hitting the bars and restaurants every night and taking great spring break trips are fun, but they’re also likely the activities that will land your child in deep credit card debt. Teach her to live like a pauper in college so she can begin her career and her adult life unencumbered by debt repayments.
Just Say No to Debt
This point links in with point three. The earlier you can teach your child the he can only afford what he can pay cash for, the better. If he can stay out of credit card debt as well as substantial student loan debt while in college, he’ll have greater freedom when he graduates. If he wants to take a job for a year or two working for a non-profit or joining the Peace Corp, he’ll have a much smoother path if he doesn’t have debt weighing him down.
Ideally, your child has learned many of these lessons, but if not, don’t despair. Many American teens haven’t yet learned these. Just make sure to teach them to your child before she heads off to college, a place where she can make–or break–her financial future.
How do you help your children become ready to handle adult finances?
I can’t believe we’re already nearing the end of the summer. This past week the flyers were delivered and jam-packed full with back to school shopping deals. I feel like we were just talking about Easter! Time goes too fast.
When it comes to grade school, back to school is a time of year when pressure is put on parents. Kids need to go to school and they will require some new items for their pending academic year but it doesn’t have to be as expensive as your children will have you believe. Kids have a funny way of making it seem like they couldn’t possibly succeed without ‘x’ item and guess what? As parents, we will occasionally get duped by our kids. We will inevitably purchase an item we didn’t have to, sometimes because we’re suckers and believe them and sometimes because we just love them. Back to school shopping can be very expensive but there are a few ways to save!
This isn’t exactly about saving money per se, but if you know your child will be needing new supplies every year, budget for it! Determine how much money will be spent on each child and budget the amount equally over the year so you’re not faced with a huge bill come school shopping time. This should include any supplies, clothes and gadgets they will need. Once you’ve set a budget shopping will be a lot less stressful, especially if you’re able to set ground rules with kids in advance.
Wait for Sales
The normal price for a pack of looseleaf paper at my local Walmart is $1.79/pack, this week it is on sale for $0.15. Needless to say if I was shopping for my child I would be buying enough paper to last the next 10 years at that price.
In many places, there are also tax free days for back to school shopping, which can at least give you a little break on the taxes you pay on your school supplies.
When I was in elementary school I needed a new backpack every year. I’d find a flaw in my current one just so mom could buy me a snazzy new one. Eventually she caught on and bought me a good quality backpack with the stipulation that I took care of it and it was to be the last one she ever bought me. Fair enough. That bag ended up lasting me all the way through university, money well spent.
Same thing goes with things like sneakers ad clothes, unless your child is growing a legitimately doesn’t fit in their current size, or their shoes are really falling apart they don’t need a new pair just because it’s the start of a new year. Though I respect wanting a new outfit or two for the new year it doesn’t have to be a full wardrobe overhaul.
Share What Can Be Shared
If you have more than one child to shop for, and there are items that can be shared, capitalize on this. Each child does not need their own computer. Trust me, I know they will have a very elaborate explanation as to why they do, but unless you have a household of five plus children all in school, one computer for the children will suffice.
Back to school is a stressful time for families with the drastic change in routines, shopping for supplies shouldn’t be!
How do you save on back to school shopping for your kids?
This week we will be embarking on our first real family vacation. We’ve been out on small trips to the cottage with our little one but this week we’re heading out on an 1,100 km road trip with her. Though my husband and I are both experienced travelers (everything from road-trips to international trips) having a baby with us will make traveling much different, I’m sure.
Knowing we would be trapped in the car for upwards of six hours in a day, I needed to get a plan in place or our lives may become miserable very quickly. These are things to consider when road-tripping with a little one.
Distractions are Crucial
Though she does well in a car for a short time, unless she falls asleep (and I’d rather not mess with her nap schedule too much) after about 15 mins we will be scrambling to entertain her. In our case, she is still rear facing in the back seat so I will be sitting back there with her which alone will be much better than her sitting alone. What to distract her with is where things can get interesting. She has little to no interest in traditional toys while in the car. The best way to distract her is to give her something she doesn’t normally get or has never seen before. Boring old toys won’t cut the trick. Here are a few things our little one like to play with and entertains her for quite some time:
- Keys. I gathered three old keys we had, washed them (predicting them to go in her mouth) and placed them on a key ring.
- Wallet. She loves to take my wallet apart so I found an old wallet and filled it with old cards and meaningless papers so in the event she loses them we’re fine.
- New book. She usually enjoys looking at pictures in books, I specify new book since I know if it’s one she’s never seen before we will have more luck. I’ve purchased a book and won’t give it to her until the car ride starts.
- Something with buttons. Kids love to push buttons. Remotes, cell phones, I don’t know what it is but she loves to push them. I have both an old remote and old (circa 1995) cell phone that she can do whatever she wants with.
- DVD player. She doesn’t get to watch much, TV so the hope is that a little music or TV will keep her entertained for a bit.
Keep Routines the Best You Can
While driving, or any travel, this is a difficult task but we’re going to try our best to keep her eating and sleeping routines as close to normal. Thankfully we only have one time zone to cross and are breaking our long trip up by stopping overnight. Our plan is to stop every 2-2.5 hours to get out of the car, change her diaper and get a little fresh air. If my distractions work I should be able to keep her awake as well coax her into sleep when nap time comes.
Accept You Need Additional Time
Traveling with a little one is going to be much different from when it was just us. Though I feel like I have everything planned out, I full-well know she will be dictating this show and I’m ok with that. Our family knows and respects that we have a little one and she’s the star of the show, stuff comes up and we may take longer than expected to get there.
As long as she’s happy, we’re happy. Happy kid=Happy life.
Any tips for travelling with a little one?
If you’re planning some holiday travels, or even thinking about a trip for next summer, there are some things that you should consider about traveling with children. It can be very expensive…you have to get extra plane tickets, pay for more meals, and spend more to have fun. However, that doesn’t need to hold you back from your dream vacation. Here are some things to consider when traveling with children.
Do The Road Trip
One of the first things you should consider is doing the road trip. This can be a great trip for children because you just take your regular car, and you can set your own agenda. This means traveling as much or as little as you want each day. You can also have the kids pick out which sites they want to see on the trip, which will make it a fun experience for them. Take a look at some of these other tips for traveling with kids.
Ditch the Hotel
One of the worst parts of traveling to a new place can be cramming into a hotel room with the whole family – dealing with roller beds or sleeping on hotel couches is not fun. Neither is sleeping 2-3 per bed. Instead of staying in a hotel, consider renting a timeshare in your favorite destination. Timeshares typically have 1-2 bedrooms and family room, which can be used to sleep the whole family. Also, timeshares usually have kitchens, which can be used to cut back on costs by preparing small meals and snacks at the room, instead of buying everything.
Go on a Family Friendly Vacation
Finally, you could consider going on a vacation specifically for children. For example, you could take a Disney cruise, or go to a family resort, that has a lot of activities specifically designed for children and families. The perks of these types of trips is that they have plenty of activities for kids and adults alike, and that makes the whole experience enjoyable.
What tips do you have for traveling with children?
The cost of living gets more expensive each year, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be continually strapped for cash. If you can learn the ins and outs of some of life’s most expensive rites of passage — such as having children and buying a home — you can make that knowledge work for you. Instead of stumbling through life, turn those financial obstacles into stepping stones with the advice below.
Buying a Home
Buying a home is likely to be the largest financial decision you will have to make in life. It is a huge commitment, but it is also well-worth it, considering that you want to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your children to grow up in. Given all of the uncertainty in the housing market, however, it’s understandable if you’re wary of becoming a homeowner at the moment.
The key to cushioning the blow that can come from the current housing market is taking your time to make smart, well-informed decisions. Don’t feel rushed to buy a home if you’re not ready; it is better to save up enough money for a down payment, which would be at least 20 percent of the total cost of the home in the best case scenario. You can also use this time to boost your credit, which is an important part of finding the best mortgage rates. Taking these steps can shave years off of your mortgage and thousands of dollars off of the total interest that you will pay on your home in the long run.
When you think of growing your family, many things come to mind: little league baseball games, dance recitals, and family vacations, to name a few. But did you stop to consider a $227,000 bill? That’s how much you’ll have to fork over per child, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And this only calculates costs up until age 18; a college education could easily increase that amount by as much as half.
Obviously, spending this more than $200,000 on your child will happen over the course of two decades, which should soften the blow. The most expensive areas of spending for a family include food, transportation, and child care, and if you can figure out ways to reduce these expenses, you can chip away at that astronomical cost. Couponing can reduce your grocery bill to practically nothing if you do it often and learn the tricks of the trade. And making an alternative plan for childcare (such as relying on a nearby relative or close friend) can help you save thousands of dollars each year. When it comes to college education, starting an education savings account early in their lives can significantly increase the amount of funds that your children have to rely on when they come of age.
Credit Card Usage
There are some areas of debt, such as education or home financing, that are considered positive because they make you a more valuable asset to your family, to your community, and to yourself. However, too often, parents get bogged down by credit card debt that quickly spirals out of control. The best thing you can do to help yourself chisel away at your card balances is to pay more than the minimum payment. Often, the just handing over very least you’re allow to pay each month won’t help you get out of debt; in fact, you may even see your account balance rise, even if you aren’t making any new charges on your card.
You should also consider switching your balances over to a zero percent interest card, which buys you time to pay them down. And if you struggle with budgeting, spending cash only is a great way to cut out unnecessary expenses.
Information is power, but in these cases, it can also equate to more money for you. There’s no handbook on how to provide for your family, but if you make it a point to constantly search for new ways to save and invest, you can put together a pretty helpful guide of your own.
What other obstacles do you foresee?
This guest post was provided by Lynette Argent of Million Dollar Woman, a life insurance company which provide insurance products catered specifically towards the needs of women and their families.
Insurance policies cover those unexpected moments in life. It is the assurance of being taken care of when ill, having the necessary health checks and treatment covered. It could also mean assured financial security in the event of a serious illness or death.
While most adults are keen on finding the best insurance for themselves, they may not be aware they can insure their children as well. Obviously we don’t want to think of the morbid thoughts of a child being ill or passing away but insurance is important for our children and should be considered by every parent. Since our children are so highly treasured, wouldn’t it make sense to get them covered as well?
Every parent wishes to see their children develop into healthy and happy adults but we could not always be there with our children, protecting them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Unforeseen things do come about and as a parent it is good to be prepared for these kinds of events even though they may never take place.
Injury and Illness
We all wish to keep our children out of harm’s way but at times a misfortune may occur which may result in child’s injury or illness. Getting hold of insurance for your child would ensure that if something were to happen you could be better prepared financially.
Getting your hands on an insurance policy for your children could seem like a complicated task. It is often much similar to acquiring your personal insurance, but with a little more detail involved. When looking for an insurance plan for your children, it is imperative to get more than a few quotes with the intention of price comparison and having the idea of what each company offers.
The importance of insurance for a young child may seem incomprehensible at this moment and the need for it unimaginable, but having some sort of insurance for your precious one may well be the wisest investment you make.
Do you have insurance for your children?