Hope for your financial life and beyond

3 Reasons Kids Should Watch Every Moment of Olympic Coverage

Today my kids will drag themselves out of bed and head back to school. Unfortunately, our back to school season is clashing with another major world event happening right now – the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. So there will be no more 10-hour, lying on the couch veg-out sessions, flipping back and forth to the many channels of Olympic coverage.

I have to admit I love the summer Olympics. I can do without the opening and closing ceremonies, which I know many people love. But I’ll take anything and everything else that happens. The Olympics are a sports enthusiasts dream.

My love affair with the Olympics started in 1984 when they were hosted by Los Angeles. I was 11 years old and still remember being in awe of the athletic performances. If you are under the age of 25 and have never heard of Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses, Mary Lou Retton, Greg Louganis or the Zola Budd collision you need to spend some time on YouTube. Great athletes with great performances in a great atmosphere.

Now I’m raising four kids who are growing up in an age where there is a greater variety of Olympic events and they have greater access to them. There weren’t 7 stations broadcasting the competitions in those days. And we certainly didn’t have streaming options via computer or mobile phone app.

So far my kids are eating this up. There have only been a few days of Olympic coverage but they are fixed in the TV room, cheering the USA on at every turn. I’m usually one to limit TV and computer viewing because I don’t think it’s healthy for kids to be looking at a screen all day.

But here is why until the Olympics are over I’ll be stretching the viewing limits and bedtimes a little farther even with school being in session.

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Back to School Tips to Manage Your Crazy Mornings

Next week my kids head back to school. YES and DOUBLE YES! They will hate that I’m saying that but after two long summer months it’s time to get back to the school thing. And to celebrate that, I’m going to remind my kids (and all of you who are reading) of some back to school tips that help us manage our crazy mornings.

back to school tipsMornings during the school year can be hectic…am I right? After all the days of sleeping in during the summer, suddenly you are forced back into an early wake up call. And in the span of an hour it seems like you do 100 things to get inside the school building just in time.

It doesn’t have to be so hectic. In fact, I could count on one hand the number of times last year where we were truly rushed and almost didn’t make it to school.

Those who know me will say, “But you only live seven minutes from school!” To which I say, it doesn’t matter. When I worked in education I knew of people who lived that close and seemed to be late every day. So with that in mind, here are some back to school tips that we’ve learned over our 11 years of seeing our kids off to school.

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Cheap Christmas Activities for Kids to Cure the Boredom

Several weeks ago my kids had several days off for Thanksgiving break. Within two hours of being home from school they were showing signs of boredom. I guess being out of their natural school routine was a shock to their system and they didn’t know what to do. Sound familiar?

christmas activities for kidsIt occurred to me that a more serious situation would be coming up soon – two weeks for Christmas break. Yikes! What Christmas activities for kids could I find to keep them from being bored out of their mind for that length of time?

Really it’s only the first week of break that is a concern – the week leading up to Christmas. So that’s five days or so that I have to keep them busy. After the 25th – with all the presents they receive – they usually have enough to occupy their interest and keep them busy until they return to school.

Of course I will grant them a small portion of their time to watch some TV and play video games. They’ve earned it with all the hard work they’ve put in at school. But I don’t want those two activities to take up the majority of the day.

And I certainly don’t want to be spending a lot of money on activities seeing how we are already spending a lot for gifts.

So here are some Christmas activities for kids I’ve come up with and will do my best to implement over that first week of Christmas break. I don’t know how original these are but by golly my kids are doing them. I don’t want to hear them whining about being bored.

Christmas Activities for Kids

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Attention 9th Graders: Some Focus Right Now Will Make You Rich

Thought I would perform a public service announcement today for the freshman out there starting high school this fall. I don’t have any good tips on how to avoid getting stuffed in your locker or fighting off that wedgie as you change after gym class. You might just have to endure those things…such is the right of passage into high school.

dissecction in biology

Focus – Work Hard – Be Rich

What I’d rather do is snap your mind into place as you start taking classes and get you thinking about the future.

Sound boring? Listen, I get it. The last thing you probably want to think about right now is studying for a literature test. And those Algebra I problems…ugh! When are you ever going to use that in real life?

I’m not going to try and convince you of the practical uses of Algebraic principles once you graduate high school. What I do want you to know is that your approach to Algebra (and all your other classes) has huge implications for your future. In fact, what you do right now – this 9th grade year – could eventually make you rich.

The Two Biggest Challenges of High School

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How to Invest 1,000 Dollars at Age 18

I recently had a conversation with a former student of mine who is looking to invest in the stock market. He’s in college now and has some money sitting around that he doesn’t need for school. He wanted to know how to invest 1,000 dollars or more at this stage of his life and whether it was realistic or not.

how to invest 1,000 dollarsHis situation is similar to what many 18-year-olds face. They’ve worked full-time summer jobs since they were 16 and maybe even part-time ones during the school year. Their college expenses are taken care of either through scholarships or the bank of mom and dad. The money they have earned is just sitting in their savings account drawing little to no interest. Does it make sense for them to do something else with it, like beginning to invest?

The answer is “YES…Absolutely!” but with a very big BUT.

Before I get to the BUT though lets look at some assumptions about 18-year-olds that are going to impact how they invest and where they put their money.

Assumptions About 18-Year-Olds

While not true for all, these generalizations pretty much highlight what most 18-year-olds are going through:

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Why Parents Should Never Give Kids Money for Good Grades at School

Parents (and now some schools) have often given money for good grades as a tool to motivate their kids to do well in school. During my years as teacher and principal of a private Christian school, I knew about it happening at all levels, from kindergarten through high school. The rates I heard varied from $5 – $100 being offered by parents for kids earning A’s in a class.

money for good gradesYes…that’s $100 per A…per semester.

Start calculating that out over 6 or 7 classes and it makes me want to go back to school. Seeing that I was a straight A student I would have made a killing.

Some parents had higher standards that required their child to get A’s in all classes in order to receive any money. The theory behind that approach is to develop a well-rounded child who excels in everything. Make them work hard in every class to get rewarded.

Neither of these options ever felt right to me. So early on my wife and I decided we would never give our kids money for good grades. Here’s our reasoning and what we chose to do instead.

Why We Are Not Giving Money For Good Grades

The biggest reason we do not give our kids money for good grades in school is…

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Why I’ll Cherish Every Moment of the Next Four Years

It’s a Milestone Monday of sorts at our household. Today at 7:45 I’ll be dropping off our four kids for their first day of school. That may seem ordinary but it’s not the start of just another school year for us. This year is a bit more special.

hourglassOur oldest daughter Kelly is entering high school.

14 years down.

4 more to go.

Four more years until…

…she likely moves out for the first time.

…she doesn’t regularly join us at the dinner table.

…she isn’t in our home church each and every Sunday.

…she really learns what it’s like to depend on herself.

…we face the college tuition bill (oops, sorry…that’s a tangent of thought for another day).

I used to not care about this stuff. When she was two, high school and college seemed so distant. I’d find myself in circles of older parents who would say, “Cherish these moments because it will fly by so quickly.” I’d politely nod at their exhortation and think, “Sure, sure…I won’t miss anything.”

Now I wonder where all the time has gone. Why did it happen so fast? How can it be 14 years since my first child was born?

Ironically, now I’m the older parent sharing the value of cherishing time with those just getting started on the journey.

Everything Has Its Time

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How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

Most adults realize the dangers of identity theft and take reasonable steps to protect themselves. However, did you know that child identity theft is a growing problem? In fact, The Center for Identity at the University of Texas at Austin estimates that a child is 35 times more likely to have their information stolen than an adult.

So why is a child’s identity so attractive to a thief?

3 Reasons Children Are Targets For Identity Theft

identity theft cartoonFor starters ­a child’s Social Security Number (SSN) is clean. The chance to obtain an untainted SSN that has no credit history or credit problems is very attractive. It is significantly easier for a thief to combine a child’s unused SSN with a new name and address.

Another issue is that securing a child’s SSN is also much easier. In many circumstances the culprit ends up being a family member or another person known by the family.

Social security numbers can be found in public spaces such as a doctor’s office, school, and on forms at athletic recreational leagues, clubs or other organizations. We’d like to trust the workers at those locations who set eyes on the forms that contain our kid’s information but some have used their position to gain access to SSNs.

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How to Manage Your Side Hustle and Family Life So You Don’t Go Insane

There may come a time in your life where you want to or need to create a side hustle to earn extra income. A side hustle can be many things depending on your skills and the depth of your need. Regardless what you choose it will be something you do on the side (apart from your day job) to bring in additional money to the family budget.

Side hustles can be a financial blessing. They can help you build up your savings account or pay off debt or meet any a number of financial goals you might have. A few bloggers I know have turned their writing side hustles into full-time jobs and now run their own personal finance websites. Others, like my friend Cat Alford at Budget Blonde have figured out how to make a full-time income from writing for popular blogs. Now she is teaching others to do the same in a brand new course she has developed – Get Paid to Write for Blogs.

side hustle IIIWhile the additional income of a side hustle is welcome there is a dark side that many are unprepared for. Side hustles done improperly can be a curse on family life.

It’s one thing to have a side hustle if you are single. I remember talking with a blogging friend last year who told me how he’d work his 9 to 5, take a 30-minute dinner (maybe) and then work till past midnight writing and networking. I’m not saying that’s necessarily an easy schedule but it’s not like you have anyone else to account for. It’s just you.

When a spouse and/or kids are in the picture side hustles take on a whole different dimension.

The first thing you’ll notice is the tension that surfaces the minute one member begins a side hustle. What was a normal life is no longer normal.

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The 10 Best Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students

Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer. For teens and college students that means one of three things. Either you are:

a) continuing school by choice (to get ahead) or out of necessity (because you failed)…

b) looking for a summer job to earn money or…

c) in for a really boring summer sleeping in and playing video games.

(I know…some of you think “C” is the best option of the three.)

summer jobs for teensBut I also know teens and college students need money. You have lots of expenses, many of which your parents can’t or don’t want to fully fund. So it’s about time you begin to support yourself my working a summer job.

What job would fit your time frame though? You really only have three months to work as the typical school ends in May/June and returns to classes in August/September. Won’t employers be hesitant to hire you if they know it will only be for three short months?

Some might be. Others however, rely on the seasonal influx of workers because summer is their busiest time of the year. So the fact that you are only available for three months matches up with the increased seasonal activity of that position. The employer will be fine when you leave the job to return to school in the fall because he or she won’t need your help anymore.

Jobs You Could Easily Find During the Summer

To that end, here are 10 great summer jobs for teens and college students. In all these areas, employers will be looking for workers during the summer:

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Secret Advice For Teenagers Who Love to Spend Money

You know who you are…teenager who loves to spend money like it’s going out of style. You spend money faster than it takes a snapchat to disappear. Money comes into your hand one minute and it flows out like water the next.

spend moneyAnd you like it that way!

If that’s you, I have some special advice today. It’s unusual, maybe even secret advice you may never have heard in your life. In fact, I’m actually running a huge risk by even sharing this with you. Your parents may hate me for saying this because it might go against how they have instructed you to handle money. (That alone should excite you to listen up, right?)

But before I reveal this big secret about spending your money, you have to promise me something.

The promise I’m asking you to make is to read this entire post. You are going to love what I have to say about spending money but you can’t take it as stand alone advice without understanding the bigger picture. As they say, the devil is in the details so I’m asking for five minutes of your time to help you avoid failure on this issue.

Ready for the big, secret advice? OK, here goes…

Go ahead and spend money because you’ll never know a time with fewer financial obligations than you have right now.

Now remember that promise to read the rest of the post? Good…because I’ve got some serious cleaning up to do with the mess I just created.

Six Possible Reasons You Love to Spend Money

Have you ever thought about why you love to spend money? Don’t fret if it’s never crossed your mind. Most adults haven’t considered it either.

Based on your age right now (ages 13-19) one of these issues is likely driving you to spend money all the time:

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