Advice to the Kids Regarding Working

Let’s face it. Unless you are a trust-fund baby or a Kardashian, most of us are going to have to work for an extended period of time. While it might be fun to have a large trust fund and not having to work, being a Kardashian is just gross and nasty. So for the rest of us that have to work. How do you go about it and not let it suck your soul dry?

Work has become a four-letter word. People love to complain about, yet for most of us, we will be working for half of our life (or longer). And those working years are our prime years.

Here is listicle of advice for my kids on surviving and thriving at work.

  1. Plan now or you will be working FOREVER. Work early – Work  often. Save early – Save often.
  2. Working forever is fine if it’s what you want. But wouldn’t you rather have the flexibility to work or not work?
  3. When you start a new job, bust your butt the first day at work. Make that good first impression on the boss and coworkers. This applies to a teen working at McDonalds as well as to an adult working in an office.
  4. Find one or more things you love to do. Things you would do for free every day for the rest of your life.
  5. Figure out how to make money doing those things and do them. Even if it’s not much money at first and you have to do them part time.
  6. If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die – Warren Bufffett
  7. Working for The Man is ok. Working for yourself is far superior.
  8. You don’t have to have a high salary to get wealthy. But it helps.
  9. Have MULTIPLE revenue streams. Examples: W2 job, consulting, rental income, eBay sales, cut grass, start a business, dividends, blogging, create YouTube content, Uber etc.
  10. Remember to have fun.

Happy 4th of July

Happy independence day. Hopefully everyone is having a great day and working on gaining financial independence too.

Here are a few pics of our 4th and how we make S’mores for a large family.

 

Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

Pros of Homeschooling:

  • Parental control of what kids are taught and how it’s taught.
  • Get to teach your value system to your kids, not the government’s “values”.
  • You can teach to your kid’s learning style. There are no learning disabled kids, just teacher disabled adults.
  • If you want to spend all day learning about how caterpillars become butterflys or how to conjugate verbs you can.
  • Better socialization skills (home-school kids being un-socialized is one of the great lies). Our kids interact with kids and adults of all ages, not just with kids their own age. This is of particular importance for boys.
  • Lots of time and freedom to pursue other activities. Homeschooling allows them to do much more if the parent so chooses.
  • Takes about 1/3 of the time of regular schooling. My kids, if motivated, are done school in 2-3 hours tops. The lazy ones can take all day.
  • Can do school in your pajamas.
  • Don’t have to get up super early to meet a carpool or the bus.
  • Lots of time to play outside and just be a kid.
  • No getting dropped of at 7am for before-school care and picked up at 6pm from after-care.
  • Lots of one on one time with parents. Builds better relationships with parents and siblings.
  • No busywork and filler in the classroom.
  • Kids learn at their pace not at the pace of the slowest kid in the classroom
  • Costs are very low, much lower than private school and about the same as public school. We spend less than $200 to school our k-8 kids (high-school homeschooling costs more and will be covered in a future post). This assumes you aren’t using some expensive curriculum package. My bride does up her own curriculum. But even the packaged curriculum is affordable for most.
  • Safer – we have had no bomb threats, school shootings, stabbings, drug use, bullying…well ok, my kids do bully each other. But we prefer to call it “Life Lessons”.
  • You can take vacation whenever you want. We get to go to the beach when it’s the off-season. Beaches aren’t crowded and the rents are a lot cheaper.
  • You are there to help you kids through the “big issues” in life and can decide when they learn about them.
  • The person who loves the child most in this world is also their teacher.

Cons of Homeschooling:

None. Well none for us. I hear other people comment on the downside of homeschooling but this has always been from people who have never tried it. I have no time or patience to deal with these objections and people any more. We’ve been doing this for over 20 years and have heard it all. If you have problems with the idea of homeschooling try sitting down with a veteran home-school mom (like my bride) and talking about it. We have dealt with all the objections over the years. Or better yet give homeschooling a try. You can always ship them back to the public school, they would love to get their meat-hooks back into them.

Results so far – My oldest graduated college 2 years early and got her masters in a year. 2nd oldest graduated and his working. 3rd just finished Grad school with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and has started work. 4th has graduated and been working for a year. The 5th finished undergrad and is heading to Grad school in a few months. The next 2 kids are in college currently. All of our kids have finished high school either 1 or 2 years early. 2 kids are doing high school currently. 1 is middleschool age. 3 are elementary school age.

Over the Top Birthday Parties

Warning: Getting on my SoapBox.

The following rant was prompted by an article on kid’s birthday parties that I recently read.

Kid’s birthday parties should cost under $50, actually they should cost under $25 but I’m feeling generous.

What is it with parents taking kids to places like; build-a-badger, laser tag, bowling alleys, gun clubs, fashion shows etc…Did they have such deprived childhood’s that they have to live through their kid’s? Are they guilty about something? Wusses who can’t say no?

These are the same people you hear complain about never having enough money as they are heading to the mall in their leased cars to shop. Well, duh. Waah, waah waah, someone call the waahmbulance.

Party-bags?! Really? We just fed and entertained your sugared-up brats (sorry about all the sugar) for 3 hours and now we have to give out a party-bag! What’s that you say? You gave my kid a gift? Well no kidding Sherlock, it’s his birthday. But you know what? We don’t really need any gifts; we have enough junk in our house already. But if you want a party-bag for your kid filled with dollar store crapolla, then fine, enjoy. I hope that in the middle of the night you step on some small plastic pieces while walking around barefoot.

So tell me what’s the deal with inviting tons of kids? I hear of parents inviting their kid’s entire school class so no one’s feelings get hurt. Hey kid, you were not invited because my kid thinks you are a booger-eating-goober. Get over it, that’s life. Thank God my kids are homeschooled. My kids get a party from ages 5 thru 10. And that’s it. And they get to invite one friend for each year old they are.

Social media like; Facebook, Instagram and Vine just make matters worse. People post all their self-indulgent pictures and videos of events like birthday parties. They are just showing you a small slice of life. The good life, through a rose colored internet. They want you to think that everything is all peaches and cream. When underneath the peaches are rotting and cream is curdling. Guess what? You might be fooling others and even yourself for a while, but you ain’t fooling us.

Gift registries for kid’s birthdays, really? I’m speechless.

Some of the more outrageous themes in the article: ice sculptures, snow machine parties (for backyard sledding), karaoke bar, live animals, spa parties (yes at a spa). In that light hauling a bunch of kids to the bowling alley or Chucky E. Cheese is kinda quaint, still stupid, but quaint.

Be careful. You give your little girl a 5th birthday party that costs $500 and you are gonna have a helluva bill when the princess gets married. And you sure aren’t doing your future son-in-law any favors.

Family Budgeting 101 – Part 1

Where does one start? Lots of people seem to hate budgeting or at best tolerate it like one tolerates a visit from the in laws. Personally I enjoy managing our finances, budgeting and working with spreadsheets.

For beginners or those in trouble or those whose finances just need an overhaul, you have to start somewhere. You can’t do everything at once. You’ll be overwhelmed and do a poor job of it, or quit altogether. So if you are swimming in debt and can’t get a handle on your finances, don’t fret. Budgeting is not technically difficult and can be mastered quickly if one has the desire.

In part 1 today, and part 2 (coming later), I’ll show what has worked for our family.

Tracking your spending

Track your spending for a month or two before attempting to make a budget. This will tell you where all your money is going each month. I bet you don’t know, I sure didn’t. Do this even before you attempt to make a budget. Having a month or two of detailed spending will make budgeting a lot easier to do. If you are impatient, and don’t want to track spending for that long, try and do it for at least 2 weeks.

You may also be able to do this in reverse and go through the last few months checking and credit card statements. If not, start recording everywhere that your money goes. From your double-whipped-caramel-skinny-latte at FiveBucks to your mortgage payment, track it all. Make some basic categories and first list all the fixed expenses that you know you have each month: mortgage/rent, food, utilities, phone etc. Then add in everything else you spend money on that month, write it all down or use something like excel or an online tool like Mint. I personally prefer using an excel spreadsheet for expense tracking and budgeting. I use the one called “Personal Budgeting Spreadsheet”. We will have an article out in a few weeks listing many free budgeting tools, including the ones we use.

You might think you know where your money is going, but I think this will be an eye-opening exercise for some.  You might find that you spent $150 last month on toys for Mr. buttons, your cat or $300 on running shoes. I’ve done that before (spent lots on running shoes…not a cat). Running shoes are a necessity, right?

After you have an idea of where the money is going, start thinking about ways to cut your spending so you can increase your savings rate and/or pay down debt.

Also think about just how frugal you want to be. Maybe you are doing alright and just want to cut the fat a bit so you can boost your retirement savings. Or maybe you are living paycheck to paycheck and drowning in debt.  There is no right answer to how much you have to slash from your spending. Some people, like my wife and me, are very frugal and refuse to go into debt for pretty much anything at all. We did finance our house but have since paid it off. We prefer a nice home cooked meal to swinging into the drive-thru at McDonald’s or Pizza Hut. Besides being very expensive to eat meals out with a large family, the food at most fast-food joints and chain restaurants is nutritional garbage. So let’s see, $75-$150 for low-grade dog food at a place like Burger King or Applebee’s, or $20 bucks for a nice meal at home? Tough choice. And yes we do feed our family dinner for $20. And no that is not Ramen noodles and PBJ. We spend an average of $46 dollars per day on food, but that’s a subject of a future post.

So as you read how we go about organizing our finances and what we spend our money on, just remember that this is how we have chosen to live. It’s certainly not the only way but it is the best way for us. We enjoy seeing how much we can save and we look forward to actually being able to retire and have some $$$ because it’s not like we can count on Social Security to provide for all our needs.

Personally I’d much rather save my money than by junk-food and more stuff for the house.

How much can you save after slashing your spending to a more reasonable level? Well here is a teaser from a future article, we save over 30% of my income each month. And no I don’t have a high paying job, just a regular old job. Above minimum wage obviously but not some high flying salary. And lower than most of my friends who have fewer kids and are struggling to make it financially. It’s about choices. Sure we all have bad financial luck at times…car breaks downs, kid needs braces, hours get cut at work…stuff happens. That’s why you have to plan and be prepared. We live in a very high expense area so it can be tough at times to save a third of my income but it is worth it to us. My bride, who works much harder than I, sadly does not get paid monetarily.

After tracking your spending for a while you’ll be ready to make a budget and get your financial goals on track. Wait! You do have Financial Goals don’t you? If not, start thinking about them. Maybe you want to pay off your student loans or your credit cards. Maybe you want to expand your garden gnome collection or your vintage Barry Manilow 8-track tape collection. Maybe you are getting older and have neglected your retirement planning. Maybe you are retired and just need to fine tune your finances so you don’t run out of money in your dotage and have to live off of Alpo.

If you find that your finances are completely hosed, you may want to try a “spending fast” for a certain period of time. Think Lent, but instead of meatless Fridays, you don’t spend any money on non-essentials for a month. We do one at least 1 month out of each year (another future article). I’ll be the first to admit that they are difficult. I thought it would be a breeze for us since we don’t shop a lot. I was wrong. I sure do miss the UPS driver and the lovely Amazon packages he used to bring me regularly.

Give budgeting a try for awhile. It might not be fun or easy, but I think you will find it worth the time and effort. Once you see the results, it can be addicting.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to your comments.

Be Stronger than Achilles

 

What is your financial Achilles Heel? Where is your weak spot?

What is the one (or two or ten) thing that is putting a major hurt on your budget?

Look through your spending, or in your driveway maybe, and figure out what is it that you keep spending money on that is dragging down your financial stability.

It could be one big thing; car, truck, boat, vacation home etc…

Or maybe it’s a bunch of smaller expenditures that add up over time; golfing every weekend, expensive hair salon visits, eating out, excessive actives for the kids or maybe a combination of things.

What is mine you ask?

Those cars are one of the benefits of working from home. I do not need a newer reliable commuter car. These cars combined cost me less than a used Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic. Plus they are fun to work on with the kids. We spent one summer redoing the interior of the white one. The kids got to learn some new skills and some new words.

At least that’s how I’m justifying their purchase.

Remember, everyone has a weakness. Achilles, Superman…even Batman.

Too Much Information?

How much is too much when sharing on the internet? How much do we really need to be sharing with each other compared to what we share with those in real life?

Do you need to know tons of details about those that contribute to this website? If you don’t, does it make what we post less trustworthy and relevant to you? How much personal information is safe to share from the author’s perspective?

People reading articles on the internet, especially on new sites like this one, have no way of knowing if what write is true or fabricated. I could be a single, 15 year-old kid making up stuff to jerk around with people. As opposed to the 50-something father of many that I am (honest).

And assuming you do take us at our word, how many personal details do you need to know in order for us to get our ideas across? At least some details are needed to give credence to what we are writing about.

It’s easy to say “spend less than you make” and “save more”. But without practical examples that have worked for us, will these saying help you at all? Probably not.

I’m a runner, I probably run too much. But if someone asks me how to train for a marathon. And I say “go run”. That’s particularly useful. It’s true, but some more details and personal experience would make the advice a lot more useful. But you wouldn’t need every detail about my running life. Sharing stories about chaffing and and toenails falling off, while amusing to some, wouldn’t contribute much to your running goals.

So we will try to balance over-sharing vs leaving out any personal information at all. You might get posts with some details of our financial status, marriage and child rearing tips (if we can think of any good ones), homeschooling how-to’s and personal data on other topics of interest.

So rest assured, you won’t ever know if/what underwear we are wearing. But you will know what works for our family and some of the basic details.

Teaching Kids About Money

Topics to discuss with kids:

  • Saving vs spending. You have a limited amount of money. You can’t spend all of it. You need to save some of it, at least 10%.
  • Delayed gratification. “You can’t always get what you want” Jagger/Richards. They need to learn patience and how to save up for something they want to purchase.
  • Savings – get them a piggy-bank or an old jar to save money in. Open a savings account and teach them about interest.
  • We don’t do allowances, they get fed. But consider allowances, and use them as a way to teach them to work for money and what to do with the money they make.
  • Teach them to give of their money and time. Have your kids give away some of their own money.
  • Be careful using credit cards around them. They will think that whipping out a card is all you have to do to buy things.
  • Teach them about credit cards. Make sure they know not to use them unless they have the money to pay them off in full each month. That they will have to pay interest (a lot of interest) if they carry a balance.
  • Teach them that it’s better to use cash or debit cards for purchases.
  • Teach them how to shop (take them to the grocery store). I know shopping with kids can be more painful than watching a Miley Cyrus video, but take them with and teach them how to comparison shop and how to stick to a list of items that you need. This will also teach them some math skills. Have them hand the money to the cashier, not a credit card, and make sure they get the correct change.
  • Teach them how to balance a checkbook.
  • Teach them how to make a budget. And why one is important.
  • Teach them to protect their financial and personal, data. Be careful who has your SSN and account info. Be careful shopping online.
  • Teach them about legalized thievery. Taxes.
  • Explain how loans work: mortgages, cars, student loans.