Hope for your financial life and beyond

Five Basic Ways Families of Faith Should Spend Time Together

I love the summer! With the kids out of school it’s the perfect opportunity to spend more time with the family. And how you spend that time together is critically important. 

family timeFor Christians – or any family of faith – it’s crucial that the time spent as a family involve some faith-based activities. This is vital to building solid spiritual bonds in the family. And for those with kids, it allows you to instill the right morals into their life.

It’s not just the summer months though when this can happen. Instead, it’s better to keep kids focused on their faith throughout the year, on a weekly and daily basis. So engage in these five family activities routinely. They will help you grow spiritually and allow you to spend time together with the family. I’d argue they should be foundational activities for any family of faith.  [Read more…]

7 Tips on How to Handle a Teenager’s Car Accident

Calls in the middle of the night are never good. Neither is the one when you say “Hello” and your teenager is crying on the other end. Your heart immediately drops because you know they are hurting. That’s the phone call I received recently when my daughter was in her first car accident.

car accidentShe had just left basketball practice and was traveling at the legal speed on a country road. As she came up over a small hill, cars were stacked up four deep waiting for someone to turn left. She wasn’t on her phone but admittedly was a little tired and distracted. By the time she realized what was happening in front of her, it was too late to brake in time. The truck she was driving rear-ended the last car in the line. The driver of that car had her foot slip off the brake and hit the accelerator, propelling her down into the ditch. On the way, she clipped the car in front of her.

As rear-end car accidents go it wasn’t pretty. Our airbag deployed. The car she hit had damage in the back end and the front, as it hit a telephone pole when it went to the ditch. And the third car had minor bumper damage. In the end, our used truck – that we had owned for less than a month – was totaled.

Thankfully, everyone was OK. No hospital visits were needed. And the people involved were pretty nice about it. I think they could see how upset this 16-year old girl was having caused her first accident.

I hope I never have to take that call again from any of my other kids. Odds are I will. But as the oldest child often does, she broke new ground and helped us figure out how to deal with a teenager’s car accident. Here are 7 things I learned from the incident.

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How to Make a Will and Protect Those You Love

Today I’m going to talk about a personal finance related topic that many people ignore – how to make a will. In fact, this topic is more avoided than you think. A recent survey at Caring.com showed that only 42% of Americans have estate planning documents. What’s even worse is that for those with children under the age of 18, the number drops to 36%. Yikes!

how to make a willIt’s not surprising a large number of people avoid making a will. Making a will requires a person to think about one very uncomfortable event – their death. I don’t think anyone of us is looking with anticipation towards that specific day.

However, the reality is this – that day WILL come. It is unavoidable. And the real truth of the matter is, we don’t know when it’s going to be. Not all of us are guaranteed to live to 100.

So before I get to how to make a will, I want to show you why it’s important and how it helps protect your family.

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What Is a Savings Account and Does My Child Need One?

As part of my return to blogging after a brief absence, I’m going to be writing a series of posts that answer some basic money questions.  Even for seasoned consumers, it’s important to return to the basics from time to time, if nothing more than to solidify in our minds why we do these things. So today I’m going to be answering the question what is a savings account?

And I’ll be answering some FAQs at the end – one in particular about savings accounts for children.

Savings 101

what is a savings accountOther than spend, there is no more basic activity to do with money than to save it. People save for many reasons. But the main purpose of saving is to have a store of money for needs, for wants or for emergencies.

You can save money anywhere. If you are like most people, you probably have a small amount of cash at your home. But the majority of people who want to save large amounts of cash do so by opening a savings account at local bank.

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How Much We Pay Our Kids For Chores

If you’ve ever wondered how much to pay kids for chores you are not alone. It’s a question my wife and I have wrestled with again and again. I’ve mentioned before why we don’t give our kids allowances. I’m not giving them money just for existing. It seems like that is what an allowance implies. Kids need to feel the burden of work so they can experience the joy of its rewards.

how much to pay kids for choresIn addition to earning some money, doing chores around the house is teaching them responsibility. The home is where they should begin to learn basic life skills. When I was in school, I knew some college freshman who couldn’t do their own laundry. My oldest two children have been doing that since they were nine.

Over the years my wife and I have adjusted how much we pay our kids for chores. The amounts started out small and increased as they got older. Now that our oldest has turned 16, we are looking at another radical change. Before I get to that, here is some background information that helped us decide on how much to pay kids for chores.

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When It’s a Challenge to Say I Am Thankful for You

Recently I had the chance to reconnect with someone who meant a great deal to me many years ago. My youth pastor took an interest in me when I was in the 8th grade. Not only did he become a mentor but someone I considered a friend (as much as a teen can have an adult i am thankful for youfriend). I don’t know where I would have ended if not for his guidance and counsel. So before I left our time together, I said to him how I am thankful for you being in my life.

On the ride home, I got to thinking that I just don’t say I am thankful for you often enough. There are so many people who support me, encourage me and flat out love me no matter what. Life would be a challenge and quite frankly no fun without them. Family, friends, work associates…they lift my spirit on a daily basis.

If you fit into those categories, I am thankful for you being in my life.

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7 Positive Lessons from Job’s Friends on Helping Hurting People

Ever felt like you had no clue how to help someone who was hurting? It doesn’t matter if the pain is physical, emotional or spiritual. Too often we simply freeze, not really knowing how to best help our friends in need.

Should I give them advice? Try to cheer them up? Give them a hug? Offer to help them in some way? Who really knows, right? It’s simply hard to know the appropriate way to respond so as not to hurt or offend them further.

job's friendsThe Bible records a story for us about a man named Job (pronounced “jobe”) who felt some of the deepest emotional pain one could experience. In his time of pain, three of his friends came to be with him. The initial steps they took serve as an example to us all on how to respond when one of our friends is hurting.

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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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A Wedding To Do List For After You Say “I Do” (Infographic)

If you are inside of one year until you tie the knot with your significant other, you probably have a million things to accomplish on your wedding to do list. OK, maybe not one million but there are a lot of things to take care of. I’m sure it seems like it’s happening so fast. Just when you check one item off another one pops up.

I’m being reminded of how fun yet frantic wedding planning can be by my cousin. She moved to Georgia a few years ago and wouldn’t you know it met the man of her dreams. They are getting married in May of 2017. And it seems like every time we get together with them she’s telling us of another item she checked off her wedding to do list.

The latest item was the biggie – her wedding dress. Her mom came down last week and the two of them picked out the perfect one. I say it’s perfect because no one has seen it yet. And no one will until wedding day which is fine.

It’s drawing me back in time to so many things that happened for my own wedding 20-plus years ago. I’m remembering some of the things we did right, some of the things we did wrong and some of the things we forgot to do altogether. It’s easy to let things slip by – especially after the wedding.

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