Feeling pinched by the current economy? Kids worried too? Then you may want to check out Sesame Street’s new hour-long special “Families Stand Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times” on Sept. 9 at 8pm (Eastern and Pacific Time) on PBS. The show is hosted by Al Roker, Deborah Roberts and Elmo, and it features real world families, who share how they’re coping with these economic times, as well as tips from psychologists, financial experts and Elmo and Grover.
Archive for the 'Finances' Category
A couple of weeks ago, we featured some great, thrifty back-to-school shopping tips from the folks at Consumer Reports. Now, Parenting.com chimes in with a top ten ways to save pennies while buying endless glue sticks and pencil cases. All ten tips are terrific, but our favorite is this one:
“Hold off buying trendier gear like lunch boxes and pencil cases. Kids may love a version they find in July, but once they start school and see that their friends are all using another kind, they’ll beg you to upgrade them — and that only results in wasted cash.”
Ahhh! So true! Click here for more, including a back-to-school neighborhood swap and DIY snazzy folders. Then click “comments” and share your frugal tips with the rest of us!
Whether it came midway through holiday shopping or just on an everyday supermarket trip, has there ever been a time when our kids didn’t pester us about wanting this or that treat? The current economic woes make that discussion all the more fraught, so we’ve been inundated with press releases from this or that expert on how to talk money with kids. Most of it, frankly, has been dreck. But we really, really liked the advice offered by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller, who suggest ten different ways to approach money with your kids, from allowance and budgeting discussions that really make sense, to ways to demonstrate both charity and integrity. It’s good advice, not just during the current economic travails, but all the time. Here’s one example:
“‘I’m willing to pay part of it.’ This phrase is useful when your child wants something that exceeds the budgeted amount you had earmarked in your budget… It curbs feelings of entitlement and allows children to take ownership for achieving their desires. In addition, if some of their money is invested in the article, they are more likely to take care of it.”
Other good advice:
Family Fun budget expert Laura Rowley talks about raising money-smart kids.
Mom2Mom offers tips on discussing family financial woes with your kids.
An NYU Child Study Center expert discusses job layoffs and children’s anxieties.
And to think that last year, all we could think about was purging our toy boxes. Now comes a warning that strikes directly at the pocketbook. Toy retailers are anticipating a 15 percent hike on the price of playthings this fall. Not just swanky toy shops, either – we’re talking Toys R Us, K-B Toys, even Costco. Blame energy costs, downgraded dollars, increased labor expense – does it even matter at this point? And it’s not just toys. You can expect to pay significantly more for holiday ornaments, luxury items and all those things you wrap in pretty boxes each December.
So what’s a family to do? Shop Christmas or Hanukkah in July? Make homemade gifts? Click “comments” and tell us, what will you do? And if it’s homemade gifts, we definitely want to hear about those.
It’s bad enough tanking up the car for our own carpools, but when you’ve got teenagers driving too, it starts to seem like you’re supporting the oil companies single-handedly. We’re finding the latest gas price increase particularly galling, since we paid $3.14 a gallon in Anaheim last week, and $3.59 at the corner gas station this morning. We should have checked the AAA Gas Finder web site first! You type in your zip code and voila, gas prices for every gas pump in the area. The Valero at the 24/680 interchange? $3.40. The Chevron on N. Main just a couple miles away? $3.60 a gallon. (Sorry, we couldn’t find anything anywhere near the prices in the photo above.) Not an East Bay-ite? No prob. The site has prices for 85,000 gas stations across the country. But we’d appreciate it if you Omaha, Nebraskans, didn’t gloat too much. Gas is only $3.12 a gallon there…
As a full-time working parent since my daughter was 4-months-old, I know the challenges parents face when it comes to balancing work with bonding with their children. But I also know for a fact that it can be done very successfully if the working parents are willing to make a number of adjustments to their lives to ensure that the time they have with their children is of the highest possible quality.
Three hours of true time together, one-on-one reading, snuggles on the couch or trips to the neighborhood park, can do more for our relationships with our children than an eight-hour stretch filled with chores and errands. And if the parent staying home with the kids is financially stressed, as is
likely to be the case in the expensive Bay Area, is she likely to be emotionally available for the children? It’s just too simplistic to look back at the ’50s…
Dear Miss School Manners: My son is a freshman in college, attending school out of state (his choice, not mine). My daughter is a senior in high school, and at least for the moment, planning to stay in state. Next year, we will be shelling out for tuition, room and board and books – times two. Suddenly, the financial reality is hitting us hard. I did a quick Internet search on scholarships and grants but frankly, it’s overwhelming. The schools pile on paperwork but so far it has netted us only $1,000 in grant money, which is not nearly enough for the out-of-state expenses. I don’t want to force my son to transfer to a California school, but if you can’t help me untangle the money madness, I may not have a choice. What resources do you recommend for finding scholarship, grant and loan money?
Thanks, Cash-strapped in Concord
Dear C in C:
We can relate! Having children close together was such a good idea when they were toddlers. Now, not so much. So first, the basics: FAFSA. It’s the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid – and those of you in the preschool peanut gallery are going to want to pay attention too, because that college fund you set up in little Fauntleroy’s name? Yeah, you don’t want to do that. More on that in a sec…
(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)