Hope for your financial life and beyond

Are You Setting Your Kids Up For Success?

“Indeed I have taken much trouble to prepare for the house of the Lord one hundred thousand talents of gold and one million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond measure, for it is so abundant.”  — The words of King David speaking to his son Solomon in I Chronicles 22:14

Arrow with ShoesWhat I desire for my children can be summed up in three simple assertions:

  1. To love God with all their heart
  2. To respect and serve others
  3. To find their passion and pursue it

That’s it. If those three realities emerge at some point in their development, I’ll be the happiest parent around.

Those are real broad, big-picture type goals. How to specifically teach and impart these goals by taking advantage of what life brings our way is another story altogether. I continually wrestle with how I can best move each of my children forward in these areas. I know this one thing for sure though – none of it will happen unless I’m involved in their lives.

I cannot assume they will get there on their own, without direction from me. I’ve got to be present every day – modeling, teaching, correcting, encouraging and guiding them. (And having a TON of patience.) I can help set them up for success but only if I’m an engaged parent, who maximizes their strengths, confronts their weaknesses and meets their needs.

Parenting is a hands-on affair.

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What’s Rich to a 6-Year Old?

IMG_1322Nothing quite says summer like swim lessons. It has been an annual ritual in our household for the last five years as our two oldest, and now our two youngest, are learning the basics of swimming pool survival. It really puts me at ease knowing my kids can make it to the ladder in the deep end. (But I’m still on guard when they jump off the diving board.)

This past week it was swim lessons for our youngest two who are 5 and 6. We take private lessons at a lady’s house who has been doing swim lessons for the past 34 years. She loved teaching so much she built her own in-ground pool in her backyard 32 years ago and has been packed with would-be swimmers ever since. She is known throughout our town as being one of the best around.

Her pool and deck area is beautifully landscaped with shrubbery and flowery plants all around. There is a rock waterfall nearby that flows to a pond at the bottom, filled with lily pads and small goldfish. She also has three friendly dogs that roam the backyard which my kids love.

On Tuesday, as we were leaving lessons, the 5 and 6 year old were having a discussion about all the “cool” things that were at the lady’s house.

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Geocaching: Our New, Cheap Kid Activity

Logo_Geocaching_color_300Are you looking for a fun (and cheap) summertime activity to keep the kids busy until they go back to school? Then geocaching may be for you. Never heard of the term? Neither had I until about a month ago when my wife mentioned it. I think my initial comment was, “What the heck is that?”

Do you remember the days of playing pirate as a kid, searching for buried treasure? In essence, that is what geocaching is. Here’s how it’s described at Geocaching.com:

“Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.”

I have to admit I was skeptical when I read about this. I mean who are these hobbyists who traipse all over the wooden glen and urban street corners looking for hidden containers with small trinkets inside? Then I saw a map where all the caches are hidden – in the entire world! Then I realized this was a bigger deal than I thought. Yes, there are some in Antarctica if you are in the neighborhood.

Here’s how you play.

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Students Comparison Shop for Generics and Save Big!

comparison shopDoes your child ever groan when you buy generic brands at the grocery store? That’s what happened recently on one of my shopping trips. I was trying to comparison shop when I reached for the generic brand peanut butter.

“Dad, do we have to get that?” whined my 12-year-old daughter. “We always get Jif.”

“You don’t even eat a lot of peanut butter,” I replied. “Besides, your sister is the peanut butter connoisseur of the house. Let’s test it out and see what she thinks.”

Much to her chagrin, her five-year old sister loved it! Oh, did I mention our food budget also liked it?  There’s a $1.80 difference between comparable jars of Publix peanut butter and Jif and a $2.50 difference between the Publix brand and Skippy or Peter Pan.

This led me to do some field research on food prices, using my high school personal finance class as data collectors. I gave them a list of about 20 items and asked them to comparison shop the difference between name brands and generics at their local grocery store. They were then to calculate the difference they would save by buying the generic brand.

The result was a real eye opener for them.

Comparison Shop Data: Name Brands vs. Generics

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Hey Parents…It’s OK to Create Cheap Memories

Honor Guard PTC ParadeI’m a parent…four times over. Like anyone else, I love seeing my kids enjoy themselves. And I’ve spent a lot of money the past 12 years in an effort to create plenty of fun and lasting memories for each one of them.

We’ve done Disney and Sea World – several times. We’ve rented the condo at the beach. We’ve booked the Royal Caribbean cruise. We’ve done the day trips to the Georgia Aquarium, the Atlanta Zoo, and the Coca-Cola museum.

All were awesome experiences with great memories. However, they all required major budget planning sessions. The vacations forced us to save for months.

Recently my oldest son reminded me in an interesting way, memories don’t have to bust the bank. They can be created with very little money leaving our wallets.

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