Hope for your financial life and beyond

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

[Read more…]

Why I’m Thankful for First and Second Chances

We’ve all had moments in life when we were granted first and second chances even though we probably didn’t deserve it. Remember how that first big break felt – that first chance to show the world what you were made of? Perhaps it took years to break through and secure it. If you are like me though that first chance to prove yourself happened fairly early in life, sometime in your 20s.

second chancesThere is no logical reason why anyone would give a person in their 20s a chance. Generally speaking, 20-somethings have no money, no experience, and no patience. They are idealistic to a fault, thinking they alone hold the key to changing the world. They disdain the older generation(s), thinking they are pessimistic, set in their ways and out of touch with contemporary culture.

Of course I’m exaggerating with this characterization. Many 20-somethings are not like this. I sure was though even though it may not have appeared so to those around me.

Yet someone still gave me a first chance.

[Read more…]

10 Can’t Miss Warren Buffett Quotes On Life and Money

warren buffett quotes on lifeWhere do you seek out sound advice?

Your parents?

Friends at work?

A counselor or pastor?

The Bible or other religious literature?

As I see it, the problem with a lot of advice is threefold:

  • It’s not actually helpful…
  • It’s given by someone who has a damaging, personal life issue that clouds their bias and…
  • It’s coming from a person who has an alternative agenda (i.e. they are driving you to a decision that benefits them)

This makes it extremely hard to find advice that you can run with. Put the wrong advice in your head and hands and the results could be disastrous.

When it comes to money, perhaps no businessmen and investor has achieved more in his lifetime than Warren Buffett. From humble beginnings of selling chewing gum, Coca-Cola and magazines door-to-door as a kid, he has become one of the wealthiest men in the world. People pay money to sit at his feet for a few minutes so they can pick his brain about life and money.

So when I ran across some Warren Buffett quotes on life and money awhile ago, I couldn’t help but pause and reflect on how I felt about a few of them.

Famous Warren Buffett Quotes On Life and Money

[Read more…]

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

[Read more…]

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:

[Read more…]

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…

[Read more…]

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

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

10 Important Money Questions You Need to Ask Before Marriage

A huge issue that needs to be addressed before marriage is each person’s belief about money. Too many marriages end due to money fights or money related problems. If it’s one of the biggest reasons couples get divorced it should be a key area they address prior to marriage.  And you can only do that by asking certain money questions.

One would think you could get to fully know your partner through dating. You really can’t, not 100%. Dating is all about making a positive impression. Marriage is when personality, habits, beliefs, etc. truly become known…warts and all.

money questions before marriageThat’s why good pre-marriage counseling is important. It forces you to dig deeper in your understanding of one another. If it’s done properly there will be fewer shocks and surprises after you say, “I do.”

But where should the conversation about money start? What money questions need to be asked?

[Read more…]

A Time For Choosing Freedom

Eerily, this man’s words, penned in 1964, are coming true on many levels:

American flag“Every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement…[and] policies of accommodation…”

“If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand, the ultimatum…and what then?”

“…And someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally and economically…”

 But there is hope found through courage and sacrifice:

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]