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Archive for May, 2013

The Pro’s and Con’s of Technology

May 29th, 2013 - Category: Video Games

We are surrounded by it all day, every day…technology.   We watch, listen, speak, and think with technology.  We know what an impact it has had on our lives because we can remember a day without it.  But, what affect does it have on our children?

A recent study by the Kaiser Foundation found that children between the ages of 6 and 16 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day on the internet, television, or cell phone.

Does this surprise you?  Or are you thinking that they didn’t interview your children, because if they did, it would be more.

Technology has it’s benefits and the misuse of it has it’s regrets.  As parents, we’re here to help our children reap more of the benefits and avoid the regrets.

Here are some pro’s and con’s of using technology for you to consider as you set guidelines in your home.

 

Pro’s

Better contact – With a phone on their hip, it ensures that you’ll always be able to reach them, especially in an emergency.  It may improve your communication with them as well.  Texting can be a non-confrontational way to communicate when they are uncomfortable or have hurt feelings.

Empowerment – With an encyclopedia of information at their fingertips, technology gives your kids a place to figure out solutions and find answers on their own.  What a thrill for them and for you!

Teaching tool – Yes, technology is fun, but even “fun” games can be infused with learning too.

Prepares them for the future - Today’s kids are tomorrows work force.  They need to be able to navigate today’s technology as well as develop new ideas to be successful.

 

Con’s

Leads to laziness – Sitting in front of a screen all day can lead to a lethargic, sedentary lifestyle.  Childhood obesity is on the rise and it’s no wonder why.  Technology can take  away from playing outside and exercising.

Encourages instant gratification – Patience is a skill, a talent, a virtue, that must be nurtured and developed.  With answers just a click away, our children are becoming more impatient.

Depersonalizes everything – Face-to-face communication is a thing of the past.  We are becoming colder and more distant with every keyboard stroke.  The splendor of nature is also diminished by bright graphics and loud music.

Time consuming -  Even as adults we can waste time on the computer.  A simple email reply can lead to hours of time spent online, away from family.

Addictive –  Checking messages from the bathroom or taking the laptop to bed can be evidence that technology is taking over.  If your child’s life is fragmented by their gadgets and they can’t even focus on the task at hand, maybe an intervention is pending.

 

Whether you see more pros’ or more con’s when it comes to technology and your kids, remember the other side when making decisions that will alter their use.  Moderation is key.

Read a related article here: Technology and How It Affects our Kids 

What technology trends do you see with your children and how do you deal with them?

 

 

 

Summer Fun Ideas

May 21st, 2013 - Category: Family Time

Summer time is here!  Are you excited about having the kids home for a couple of months or are you dreading the down time?

Does summer at your house bring fun and a time for the creation of wonderful memories or does it bring weeks of constant fighting, complaining, and “I’m bored” comments?

Well, here is a list of free or cheap things to keep you busy this summer and hopefully keep the kids smiling and working together instead.

Have a picnic under the kitchen table.

Take a hike.

Go fishing at a nearby pond.

Make fish out of foil and use a magnet to catch them.  (Works best with a magnet inside as well)

Make a scrapbook.

Paint with watercolors.

Tell ghost stories.

Put on a puppet show.

Have a water balloon fight.

Learn origami.

Make duct tape wallets.

Go to the dollar theatre.

Do service.

Have a pillow fight.

Make paper airplanes race them.

Play in the sprinklers.

Set up a lemonade stand.

Play charades.

Do make-over’s. (for the girls)

Make a masterpiece with sidewalk chalk.

Wash the car.

Have a hula-hoop contest.

Go roller skating.

Have a Harry Potter movie marathon. (or movie or your choice)

Camp out in the back yard, tent and all.

Blow bubbles, try making your own.

Fly a kite.

Present book reports to each other.

Play twister.

Do a puzzle.

Make a fort out of blankets.

Go for a bike ride.

Have a video game day.

Put on a mini Olympics.

Have a coloring contest.

Play with clay.

Tie dye something.

Do a treasure hunt.

Have an arm wrestling contest.

Make s’mores.

Play hide-and-seek.

Have a backward day. Wear your clothes backward, walk backward, eat dessert before dinner.

Learn to juggle.

Cowboy day.  Dress up, talk, and eat like a cowboy.

Superhero day.  Make capes, and fly around.

Jump rope.

Put on a magic show

Sports day.

Have a fashion show.

Feed the ducks.

Play board games.

Different culture days.  Learn about different countries, eat their food and try to dress like them.

Make homemade ice cream or popsicles.

Cake-boss day.  Decorate a cake or cupcakes.

Throw a frisbee.

Have a water-gun fight.

Mini triathlon.

Make something out of a giant cardboard box.

Have a no-talking contest.

Chocolate day.  (mom’s favorite)

Whatever you do this summer, have fun!  It doesn’t take much to spark your child’s imagination and have a great time.  Let us know some of your summer fun ideas.

 

Bill Handle, #1 drive time host in Los Angeles, interviews Gregg Murset

May 21st, 2013 - Category: In The News

According to surveys, there has been no increase in the financial savy of kids between the years 2006 and 2012.

Why would you think that a kids idea of money should have changed between those years?

According to Bill Handle, #1 drive time host in Los Angeles, because those were the years when our country had a financial meltdown.  Millions lost their jobs.  Homes were foreclosed.  401K plans were decimated.  People were out of work and when they did come back to work, it was for half the pay.

You would think that parents would have learned, and in turn taught their kids different strategies about money.

Gregg’s clever idea to change the paradigm:  Have your kids go in the backyard, scoop dog poop for two weeks, save up their money, go to the store and buy a toy.

Then 1 week later, when the toy breaks and they have nothing to show for their hard work, they have learned a financial fundamental, a life lesson.  They have a personal experience with money and how it works and hopefully they will make a better choice next time.

Your Families Biggest Investment

May 21st, 2013 - Category: In The News

Ray Lucia’s intelligent input and charismatic nature add to his ability to make the fiscal world of financial, tax, and retirement planning not only easy for the average investor to understand, but interesting as well. Through his books, radio show, seminars, and individual consultations, Ray Lucia, CFP® has made it his life’s work to help thousands invest for retirement utilizing his widely recognized Bucket Strategy method for retirement. His dynamic public speaking skills enable him to cover an array of monetary topics including asset allocation, social security, pensions, investments, annuities, insurance, and taxes.

Ray is largely recognized for his nationally syndicated radio show, The Ray Lucia Show, aired daily from noon until 3:00 p.m. eastern time which also streams live on his website. On his show, Ray and the Brain Trust field questions from live callers with real money issues. Ray has also been featured nationally on television shows and networks such as NBC’s The Today Show, FOX News Channel, FOX Business, CNBC, and Bloomberg TV.

7 Ways to Get Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth

May 15th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting

Another trip to the dentist and two more cavities to fill.  As a parent you probably feel frustrated.  After all, you are doing your part.  You take them to their 6 month cleanings and check-ups, you try to watch the sweets, and you nag them every morning and evening to brush.  Only to have more dentist bills to pay at the next check-up.

 

If only they wanted to brush, maybe it would be an easier fight.

 

Don’t despair.  My friend, Dr. Brandon Cluff, has some suggestions on how to get your kids to be more willing to take care of their teeth (and lower your dentist bills).

 

1.  Make their toothbrush a toy.  When kids are young, start them out by just playing with their toothbrush.  Let them chew and suck on it and become comfortable with it in their mouth.

 

2.  Let them pick out their own brush and character toothpaste.  They may not have a choice on whether or not to brush, but by giving them a choice of what flavor of toothpaste and color of brush to use, they still have some say in the process.

 

3.  Make it fun.  Play silly games or sing songs while brushing.  How about a game of “Get the Sugar Bugs!”?

 

4.  Brush at the same time.  Kids love to copy you.  Brush your teeth at the same time and show them how to get all the sides and angles by turning your brush or your hand.

 

5.  Compliment them.  Become the “Tooth Inspector” and tell them what a good job they are doing, how well they brushed their tongue, or how minty their breath smells.

 

6.  Give them rewards for brushing their teeth.  (But not candy! That kind of defeats the purpose.)  Fill up a sticker chart or make it part of their daily chores and reward them accordingly.

 

Read a related article here:  Encouraging Your Kids to Eat Their Fruits and Veggies

 

7.  Educate them.  Sometimes you’ll have better luck getting through to them if the direction doesn’t come from you.  Read books, watch videos, and have others (like grandpa who can take out his dentures in front of them) encourage them to take better care of their teeth.

 

Do you struggle to get your kids to brush their teeth?  Or maybe you’ve found something that works for you?  Share your comments below and let us know.

20 Financial Lessons For Kids

May 8th, 2013 - Category: Financial Literacy

 

Money as you grow is an initiative from President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability.  It points out 20 essential, age-appropriate, financial lessons and even includes corresponding activities that kids can do to learn about money as they grow.

 

From talking to your child about your job and money, to learning where you can get a free annual credit report, this site has some great ideas.  It’s purpose is to inspire families and others to become more financially literate.

 

Milestones for 3-5 year olds

1 YOU NEED MONEY to buy things.

  • Identify coins and their value.
  • Discuss how you may value something that is free, such as playing with a friend.
  • Identify items that cost money, such as ice cream, gas for the car, or clothes.

 

2 You earn money by WORKING.

  • Describe your job to your child.
  • Walk through your neighborhood or town and point out people working, like the bus driver or the police officer.
  • Explain that some people start their own businesses, like clothing stores or restaurants, and those people are called entrepreneurs.
  • Encourage your child to think about how she could earn money by setting up a lemonade or cookie stand.

 

3 You may have to WAIT BEFORE YOU CAN BUY something you want.

  • When your child is standing in line for a turn on the swings, or looking forward to her favorite holiday, point out that sometimes we have to wait for things we want.
  • Find three jars (or cans) and label one for saving, one for spending, and one for sharing.
  • Suggest that your child put some of the money she gets into the saving jar, so she can buy a toy or treat when she has saved enough.

 

4 There’s a difference between THINGS YOU WANT and things you need.

  • When you are out shopping, point out essentials such as food and clothing, and ask your child to describe items that she may want but are optional.
  • Talk about how your family decides what to buy and what to pass up. Which is more important, buying cookies or fresh fruit? Soda or milk?
  • Draw a circle and divide it into sections for food, rent or house payments, clothes, and “optional items,” to show that there is a finite amount of money to spend.

 

Milestones for 6-10 year olds

5 You need to MAKE CHOICES about how to spend your money.

  • Include your child in some of your small decisions. For example, at the grocery store, explain why you pick one item over another.
  • Give your child two dollars and let her choose which fruit to buy.
  • When shopping with your child, ask yourself aloud: Do I need this item? Can I borrow it? Would it cost less somewhere else?

 

6 It’s good to shop around and COMPARE PRICES before you buy.

  • With your child, compare prices for a particular toy at various online or brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Use coupons and discount cards, and show your child how much you are saving.
  • Consider allowing her to keep part of the savings, if she helps clip or print out coupons.

 

7 It can be costly and DANGEROUS TO SHARE INFORMATION online.

  • Know the websites your child visits.
  • Decide which websites are appropriate, and block any inappropriate sites using parental control software.
  • Make it a rule that your child never gives out any personal information—like her birthdate, address, phone number, or school—when on the computer.
  • Don’t allow her to buy anything online without your permission.

 

8 Putting your money in a savings account will PROTECT it and pay you interest.

  • Visit a nearby federally insured bank or credit union with your child.
  • Ask about the interest rate on a savings account.
  • Discuss with your child how money in savings accounts is protected by federal insurance. If the bank goes out of business, she will get her money back.
  • Open a savings account for your child.

 

Milestones for 11-13 year olds

9 You should SAVE AT LEAST A DIME for every dollar you receive.

  • Encourage your child to always save 10% of the money he gets.
  • Have your child set a goal to buy something he wants, and have him work toward that amount.
  • To reinforce the savings habit, go to the bank two to three times a year with your child to deposit savings into his account, and look at how much bigger the balance is on each visit.
  • Consider a “matching plan” for your child’s savings: You put in 25 cents for every dollar he saves.

 

10 Entering personal information, like a bank or credit card number, online is risky because SOMEONE COULD STEAL IT.

  • Discuss the dangers of entering personal information online.
  • Explain that thieves can use Social Security numbers or other personal information to open credit cards or create fake documents.
  • Explain that “free” offers online, such as cell phone ringtones or games, are scams to get people to spend money without realizing it.
  • Make it a rule that your child never answers emails from someone he doesn’t know and never clicks on pop-up ads.
  • Go to ftc.gov/idtheft for tips on information security.

 

11 The sooner you save, the FASTER YOUR MONEY CAN GROW from compound interest.

  • Compound interest is when you earn interest on both the money you save and the interest you earn.
  • Show your child the following: If he sets aside $100 every year starting at age 14, he’d have about $23,000 at age 65. However, if he begins saving at age 35 he’d have about $7,000 at age 65. Assume the account earns 5% every year.
  • To compute compound interest, use the calculators at investor.gov.
  • Discuss how much your child can save. What will he have to give up? Is it worth it?

 

12 USING A CREDIT CARD IS LIKE TAKING OUT A LOAN; if you don’t pay your bill in full every month, you’ll be charged interest and owe more than you originally spent.

 

  • Discuss why you should not use a credit card to buy something that you can’t afford to pay for with cash.
  • Look at credit card offers online with your child, and compare the interest rates.
  • Using the Credit Card Repayment Calculator at federalreserve.gov, see how long it could take to repay a $1,000 credit card debt by making the minimum monthly payments.
  • Discuss how a credit card can be useful for making purchases online, or as a convenience.

 

Milestones for 14-18 year olds

13 When COMPARING COLLEGES, be sure to consider how much each school would cost you.

  • Point out that college grads earn almost twice as much as people who did not go to college.
  • Discuss how much you can contribute to your child’s college tuition and expenses each year.
  • Compare college costs, graduation rates, loan default rates, average monthly loan payments, and employment prospects by using the “College Scorecard” at collegecost.ed.gov/scorecard.
  • See what schools cost by finding the “net price calculator” on their websites; know that most families don’t pay the tuition sticker price.
  • Use the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Paying for College tool to compare financial aid offers at consumerfinance.gov.
  • To estimate your financial aid, use the FAFSA4caster tool at fafsa.ed.gov.
  • Go to studentaid.ed.gov to research additional loans, scholarships, and grants, and use the calculators to estimate your monthly loan payments.

 

14 You should AVOID USING CREDIT CARDS to buy things you can’t afford to pay for with cash.

  • With your child, fill out the Income and Expenses budgeting worksheet available at mymoney.gov.
  • Discuss why having a savings and spending plan in place could help him avoid using credit cards.
  • Drive home this rule: When you use a credit card, aim to pay it back in full each month; otherwise, you could be charged high interest.
  • Using the Credit Card Repayment Calculator at federalreserve.gov, see how long it could take to repay a $1,000 credit card debt by making the minimum monthly payments.

 

15 Your first paycheck may seem smaller than expected since MONEY IS TAKEN OUT FOR TAXES.

  • Discuss the difference between gross pay (before taxes are taken out) and net pay (the amount you take home).
  • Explain that the W-4 form, which you fill out when starting a job, determines the amount of taxes taken out of a paycheck.
  • Explain that tax brackets vary depending on how much you earn. (In 2012, single people who earn $8,700 or less per year pay a tax rate of 10%, for example, and those who earn between $8,700 and $35,350 pay 15%.)
  • Discuss what taxes pay for, including schools, road maintenance, and medical help for the elderly.
  • Once your child has a steady job, help him set up an automatic savings program so that at least 10% of earnings goes directly into his savings account.

 

16 A great place to SAVE AND INVEST MONEY you earn is in a Roth IRA.

  • If your child has a job, encourage him to open a Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account).
  • Explain that a Roth IRA allows the interest you earn to grow tax-free for life.
  • Experiment with different amounts of savings and interest rates. Use a compound interest calculator at investor.gov.
  • Use the “Rule of 72″ to estimate how many years it would take to double your money. If you invest in an account that earns 8% interest, you’ll double your money in nine years (72 divided by 8 is 9).
  • Explain to your child that once he starts a job, he may be offered a similar account at work called a 401(k). Some employers even provide matching contributions.

 

Milestones for 18+ years old

17 You should use a credit card only if you can PAY OFF THE MONEY OWED IN FULL each month.

  • Understand that when a parent cosigns, any late payments you make will also affect their credit history.
  • Paying bills late can hurt your credit history and affect your chances of getting a job.
  • Get free credit reports once a year at annualcreditreport.com.
  • Look for a credit card with a low interest rate and no annual fee.
  • There may be an emergency expense that you can’t pay off immediately and need to charge. That’s why it’s important not to charge everyday items.
  • To learn more about the credit card rules, go to federalreserve.gov.

 

18 You need HEALTH INSURANCE.

  • Comparison shop for insurance like you would for any other product.
  • If your parents have health insurance, see if you can stay on their policy—with some exceptions, you are entitled to, by law, until you turn 26.
  • Get more information about the health insurance available to you at healthcare.gov.
  • Purchase renter’s insurance if you lease an apartment, and auto insurance if you own, lease, or rent a car.

 

19 It’s important to save at least three months’ worth of living expenses IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.

  • Make a list of your expenses (rent, bills, food) to see how much you spend each month; this will help you estimate how much you’ll need to save for three months’ worth of expenses.
  • Store the money in a safe place, like a federally insured bank or credit union.
  • If you’re able to, try saving six to nine months’ worth of living expenses instead of only three.
  • Don’t stop once you’ve built your emergency fund; try to automate your savings so you stash away 10% of your earnings.

 

20 When investing, consider THE RISKS AND THE ANNUAL EXPENSES.

  • Invest in an IRA or a 401(k) as soon as you have some income.
  • Putting all your eggs in one basket can be a risky way to invest; consider a diverse mix of stocks, bonds, and cash.
  • Compare mutual fund costs: An “annual expense ratio” of 1.5% instead of 0.5% on a $1,000 investment could cost you almost $2,000 over the course of 35 years.
  • Ask about index funds, which tend to have low annual fees.
  • Think about your goals. Attending college? Buying a home in 10 years? Purchasing a car in five? Define two financial goals for the long- term future, and make a plan to achieve them.
  • For more information go to investor.gov.

 

You can visit their site for more information at  http://moneyasyougrow.org/#