8 Important Things to Teach Your Child About Money

Odds are you’ve had financial stress at some point in your life. If you really think about it, most of the financial stress we suffer is ultimately our own fault. We spend more than we should and save less. We buy things we don’t need and fail to give money the respect it deserves. One big purchase on a credit card can result in payments that never seem to end.

If you could go back in time and eliminate all of your financial errors, your life would probably be very different. Though it’s never too late to make improvements, it’s much easier to prevent challenges than it is to solve them. You can help your child avoid such financial challenges.

You can give your child the gift of financial wisdom.

Consider discussing these ideas with your children:

  1. Consider the real cost of what you’re buying. A $500 stereo doesn’t just cost $500. Invested at 10%, $500 could grow to almost $27,000. This is commonly referred to as opportunity cost.
    • If you spend your money on something, that money isn’t available for anything else, like investing.
  2. Show your child how to use a simple savings calculator. These free calculators are available all over the internet and are a great way to show what can be accomplished by consistently saving a little money each month.
  3. Teach them about debt. The average household has over $7,000 in credit card debt. When kids go to college, they’re inundated with credit card offers from the first day on campus. Imagine how much better your lifestyle would likely be if you were debt-free. Teach your child not to fall into the debt trap.
  4. Start building their credit. Consider co-signing for a credit card, if they aren’t old enough to get one by themselves. Look for a card with a low rate and no annual fee. Teach them how to use the card wisely.
    • An alternative is to take out a loan together. Banks will loan money to anyone if the loan is fully secured. With a small deposit in a savings account, a comparable amount can be borrowed easily.
    • Most young adults are unable to purchase a home for several years, often due to a lack of credit history. Get started early.
  5. Pull their credit report. After some credit building activities, teach your child how to view their credit report and check for errors. The majority of credit reports have errors, typically not in your favor.
  6. Teach them how to save. Most of us pay our bills, have a little fun, and then plan to save whatever is left. There’s rarely ever anything left with that approach. Teach your child to immediately save 10-20% (or more) of every dollar earned. Think about how much money you’d have if you had done the same since you were 18.
  7. Teach them to be giving. Allow your child to choose a charity and contribute to it. For a young child, it might be just a few dollars. You child will ultimately come to see that giving affects them as much as it does the person or organization receiving the money.
  8. Make them work during the summer. All teenagers want more money. Give them the chance to earn it. Their perspective will change.

Money is an important part of life. Money provides security, opportunity, and a greater ability to help others. You have a lot of control over the financial habits your children develop. Help them to have a financially successful life.

Put Some Fun Back Into Your Life

You probably don’t have as much fun as you’d like. This is a common complaint among adults. If you feel like you’ve been missing out, you’re in the right place. There’s no reason that you can’t enjoy a little fun on a regular basis.

Even if you have a full-time job, a spouse, and kids, you can find ways to have fun. All you have to do is make it a priority and plan some fun activities into you schedule.

Keep these ideas in mind and add some fun each day:

  1. Schedule fun time. Most people aren’t going to consistently have fun unless it’s planned into their schedule. If you decide to have fun whenever you have free time, it’s never going to happen.
    • If having fun is a priority, you’ll make the time for it. Take a look at your schedule and decide right now when you’re going to have fun.

  2. Avoid taking life too seriously. In a society that values achievement, it’s easy to take life too seriously. We don’t like to spend our time frivolously. If you want to enjoy yourself, you’re going to have to lighten up a little bit. There’s a time to work, and there’s a time to play. Both require your full attention.

  3. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. There have been many times you’ve thought to yourself, “That looks cool. I have to try that.” It might be surfing, playing the harmonica, or riding a mechanical bull. What have you always wanted to do? Now is the time to make it happen.

  4. Spend time with others. It’s not that you can’t have fun by yourself, but it’s easier to have fun with others. Even better, you have someone you can recall that experience with years later. “Remember that time we….”

  5. Have something to look forward to. Life is more fun if you have something on the horizon that you can look forward to. It could be a date on Saturday night, a trip to the city for the weekend, a vacation, a book you just purchased online but are waiting for it to arrive, or plans to see an old friend.
    • Think back to a time you had big plans for the weekend. It made your week more enjoyable. The anticipation alone can be fun.
    • Give yourself at least one thing each week you can look forward to. Notice how it changes your mood for the better.

  6. Eliminate things you don’t enjoy. The things in your life that make you unhappy detract from your ability to enjoy yourself. It’s easier to have fun if you can remove these unenjoyable things from your life. This includes people, too.
    • You can’t get rid of everything and everyone you don’t like, but you can eliminate some of the unenjoyable things. Eliminating the things that stand in the way of having fun makes more room for fun people and activities.

  7. Care less about what others think. One of the greatest detractors of having fun and feeling joy is being too concerned about the opinions of others. This is easy to say but challenging to accomplish. However, if you care less about what others think, you’ll enjoy your life more.

When was the last time you had fun? Probably not recently, but now you know how to change that!

There are plenty of ways to have fun without making elaborate plans or spending a lot of money. Grab a friend or family member and go do something new. Make a few memories and have a few laughs. You can have fun when you’re willing to make time for it.

6 Effective Options for Consolidating Your Debt

Many consumers have a variety of debt. All the payments and different due dates are enough to drive anyone crazy. Wouldn’t it be nice to address all of your consumer debt with one, simple, monthly payment? There are many options for consolidating your debt into a single loan and eliminating some of the stress from your life.

Examine these debt consolidation options that may be available to you:

  1. Credit card consolidation. You’ve seen the offers for 0% interest on balance transfers and purchases for the next year or two. These can be an effective way to transfer all of your debt to a single card and avoid interest payments for a while.
    • For balances that are unable to be transferred, the credit card could be used to pay off the debt.
    • Read the small print. Even a single late payment can cause the interest to kick in. In most cases, the interest is actually accumulating from day one. You only have to pay it if you miss a payment. One missed payment can send your whole plan down the tubes.
    • It’s important to be diligent and ensure all payments are made on time every month.

  2. Life insurance loan. If you have a life insurance policy with cash value, you may be able to borrow against the value of the policy. The loan doesn’t even have to be paid back. But it will reduce the amount your beneficiaries receive.

  3. Personal loans. If you have a friend or family member with the financial means to help, you might be able to get a personal loan. If your credit is poor, this might be the only option available to you. However, realize that your relationship could be at risk.
    • A legal document spelling out the terms of the loan can put the lender’s mind at ease.

  4. Student loans. Your credit card limit might not accommodate a student loan, but there’s an entire market for student loan consolidation. Since the government guarantees the loan, these loans are easy to get.
    • You can consolidate multiple student loans into a single loan and payment. It’s even possible to have the payback period extended.

  5. Home equity loans. If you secured a great deal on your home or have been making payments for a few years, you have equity in your home that can be used to pay off your other debts. The interest rates are usually quite low because your home is serving as collateral.
    • Home equity loans can be a convenient and reasonable way to pay off higher-interest debt. However, you’re also putting your home at risk should you get behind on your payments.
    • It’s also possible to refinance your home and get cash at closing. There are closing costs to consider, but it’s very similar to having a home equity loan. Refinancing will permit you to pay back that cash over the lifetime of the mortgage.

  6. Retirement plan loans. Many retirement plans permit the account owner to borrow funds for specific periods of time. You’ll be charged a small amount of interest. The interest payments go into your account, too!
    • There isn’t a credit check, but you’ll be charged an early withdrawal penalty and taxes on any funds you fail to pay back.

If you have too many debts to manage, debt consolidation might be a good option for you. Debt consolidation is an effective way to deal with high-interest debt by lowering or eliminating the interest altogether. Debt consolidation is another tool to keep available in your financial tool belt.

Harness the Power of Making Decisions

Decisions are the genesis of all the progress in your life. When you fail to make a decision, you’re just drifting through life. Many people make poor decisions which take their lives drastically off course. Others make it a policy to avoid making decisions at all costs.

However, making a poor decision is often better than making no decision at all. Your life rapidly deteriorates when you don’t make decisions. When you make a poor decision, you can always correct your course.

See how decisions are the first step to enhancing your life:

  1. Decisions allow action to begin. You won’t take any action until you make a decision. And nothing happens until you take action. Any changes or progress in your life occur as the result of a decision. When you decide, things can start happening.

  2. Decisions give your life direction. Once you’ve decided, you’ve started down a path. This is better than standing on the side of multiple paths and watching the world go by. When you make decisions and follow up with the appropriate actions, you’re actually living your life.

  3. Decisions minimize distractions. When you can’t make up your mind, everything becomes a distraction because you have nothing to focus on. A decision creates something to point your attention toward. Decisive people are more focused than indecisive people.

  4. Decisions require you to evaluate your life. Making big decisions requires you to dig deep and really examine your life, values, and preferences. You learn more about yourself when you make a significant decision.

How to Make a Wise Decision

Making smart decisions is important, but how should you make decisions? Most people are lured away from wiser decisions by options that feel good in the short-term. For example, going to a party is more fun than staying home, studying for a test, and getting a good night of sleep.

Keep these ideas in mind when making decisions:

  1. Know your values. Know what is important to you, and you’ll make fewer poor decisions. Most people can’t list their values because they’ve never considered them.

  2. Know your objectives. What are you trying to accomplish? Which option available to you brings you closer to achieving your objectives? Which option takes you further from accomplishing your goals?

  3. Rely on your experience. You’ve experienced a lot in your life and have had the chance to learn a lot. Use that knowledge and experience to make more effective decisions. Over time, everyone should be making better decisions, because they have more knowledge and experience.

  4. Gather more information if necessary. You don’t know everything, so there are times when you’ll need to seek out additional information. The more you know, the better your decision can be.

  5. Pull the trigger. However, there comes a time when you need to stop researching and start doing something. Give yourself a deadline to make a decision and stick to it.
    • Once you’ve made a decision, immediately take action, even if it’s something small. For example, if you’ve decided to run your first 10K, you might go to the library and check out a book on running.
    • Making a big decision can be a big relief, while putting off decisions is stressful. Being indecisive puts a serious load on your brain.

Decisions have the ability to completely change the direction of your life. Give each decision you make the respect it deserves but make your decisions quickly.

If you know your values and goals, most decisions are quite easy to make. Remind yourself of the consequences of failing to make a decision, and you’ll be more motivated to just decide and move forward.

Your Employment Rights as a Parent

There are certain rights you have as a parent that are protected by law.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is the principal law that describes the rights that parents have with regards to their employment. In essence, it requires qualifying employers to provide unpaid leave for medical and family reasons. The employee’s job is protected during the leave.

Prior to this law, the rules surrounding leave for medical and family issues were up to the employers. As an employee, your leave could be denied for any reason and you could even be fired for taking leave. There was no law requiring that employees within the same company had to be treated equally and uniformly.

Let’s take a look at the benefits afforded under the law and the qualifications that must be met.


  1. Up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year for the following situations:
    • To care for a new child or for the adoption or placement of a child in foster care.
    • To care for a seriously ill family member. A family member is considered to be a spouse, son, daughter, or parent. Some states also include domestic partners. Check your state.
    • To recover from your own serious illness.
    • To care for an injured family service member or to deal with issues resulting from his or her deployment.
    • Some states include other situations, such as organ or bone marrow donation, or caring for a non-seriously sick child.

  2. Other benefits:
    • Employers must provide the same health insurance benefits, including the employer’s premium contribution, as if the employee were not on leave.
    • Employers must provide the same position upon return to work. If the same position is not available, a similar position must be provided. It must be similar in pay, benefits, and responsibility.
    • Protection from retaliation by the employer for utilizing the Family and Medical Leave Act.


To qualify for the benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act, certain conditions must be met.

  1. Employers. You must be employed by an employer with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of the workplace, or be employed by a public agency; this would include schools, federal, state, and local employers.
    • Some states have taken the law further and lowered the threshold to less than 50 employees. Become familiar with the laws in your state.

  2. Length of employment. You must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours within the last 12 months. The 12-month employment criterion does not have to be a consecutive 12 months.

Many people are under the impression that they are still paid while taking leave under this act. But it is not required that your employer continue to pay you. Some companies will continue to pay your salary, but that is the exception and not the rule.

While it is against the law to punish those that make use of the Family and Medical Leave Act, it is not uncommon for many employers to frown upon those that take family or medical leave. This seems to be especially true for male workers. It can be difficult to prove that you didn’t receive a promotion or pay raise because you took a leave of absence.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows for you to care for a new child or a sick child without fear of losing your job. The same job, or a comparable job, will be available when you return to work. Benefits are preserved and retaliation of any kind is illegal.

Be sure you are aware of your rights so you can care for your loved ones with confidence, knowing that you can still return to your job.

Should You Just Ignore Your Negative Emotions?

There are many negative emotions: hate, fear, worry, anger, and sadness, just to name a few. What should you do with these emotions? You might feel like never leaving the house again or taking a golf club to your partner’s SUV. Obviously, some responses are more appropriate than others.

You probably weren’t given a lot of insight on how to how to handle negative emotions effectively. But the information is likely to be more useful to you than the analytic geometry you were taught in high school.

Learn more about negative emotions and what you can do about them:

  1. Recognize that negative emotions are just a warning sign. But, sometimes it’s just a false alarm. When you have a negative emotion, that should be a signal to assess what’s happening. Are you in danger? Is someone mistreating you? Are you angry? Why? Determine the actual emotion and the cause.
    • Many negative emotions are false alarms. It’s important to put your attention on the situation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that any action has to be taken.
    • If you have a chronic negative emotion, such as sadness, it’s time to do something about it. That might include professional help. There’s no reason to just ignore it.

  2. Is the emotion driven by fear? There are different causes for fear. There’s the “I might fall to my death” type of fear. There’s also the, “What if the pretty lady rejects my offer for a date” type of fear. One is definitely worth paying attention to. The other is best ignored.
    • Most of us allow the wrong type of fear to drive our decisions. A little courage can go a long way. A little discomfort is necessary to grow and progress. Running away from that type of discomfort is very limiting.

  3. What are the consequences? Consider the cause of your negative emotion and the consequences of your potential responses.
    • Science is quite clear on the fact that our ability to think and make decisions is degraded by strong emotions. It’s easy to make a poor choice that can cause you a lot of grief. Choose carefully.

  4. Use your logic to make a final determination. Do your best to be logical in your response to negative emotions. It can be a good way to override the tendency to respond emotionally and instinctively. You have a lot of wisdom deep inside of you. Use it to your advantage.

  5. De-stress if appropriate. If you’re feeling stressed, take steps to de-stress. Most people are too passive when faced with stress. There’s a lot you can do to relax. Listen to peaceful music, watch a good movie, call a friend, get a massage, take a nap, or go for a walk. Take control and de-stress yourself.

  6. Take time to respond, if appropriate. If you can wait to make a decision about how to respond, do it. Once you’ve had a chance to think and have calmed down, then you’re in a better position to make a wise choice.
    • A lot of the challenges in your past could have been avoided by waiting a few minutes, hours, or days to make a decision.

Negative emotions are a benefit if used properly. They can save your life. They can force you to make positive changes to your life.

They can also be a source of great discomfort. They can drive you to do and say things you shouldn’t.

When faced with negative emotions, stay calm and assess the situation. Use your intellect to make a wise decision. Negative emotions can be your friends.

8 Mistakes That Can Keep You From Collecting Unemployment Insurance

If you suddenly find yourself without a job, you’re probably eligible to collect unemployment. Most people believe that if you quit your job, you’re ineligible to receive unemployment checks, but that’s not always true. However, there are things you can do that increase the likelihood that you’ll be denied benefits.

Losing a job can be financially and emotionally challenging. Unemployment benefits can help.

Even though unemployment benefits are specific to your state of residence, avoiding these common mistakes can help you qualify:

  1. Turning down a reasonable job offer from your current employer. If you’re losing a job but your employer offers you a suitable alternate position, you will likely be unable to collect unemployment if you refuse the new position.
    • The level of the position and salary must be similar.
    • These rules do vary from state to state, so be sure to check with yours.

  2. Attending school. If going to school limits your ability to work or to search for work, your benefits can be denied. Attending school is okay, but if you indicate in any way that it’s an obstacle to finding work, you’re probably going to be in trouble.
    • Taking too many credit hours may also lead the state to the same conclusion.

  3. You’re currently unable to work. If you’re currently not working due to maternity leave, family illness or emergency, or temporarily disabled, there’s a good chance you can’t collect unemployment during the period of time you’re unable to work. Some states have an exception if you quit due to illness.

  4. You’re generating other income. If you’re generating income, your unemployment benefits might be reduced or entirely eliminated.
    • In most cases, your benefits will be reduced by an amount equivalent to your other earnings.

  5. You’re not actively looking for work. Most states require that you apply for a certain number of appropriate jobs each week to maintain your eligibility. If you’re an out of work teacher, for example, applying for CEO positions doesn’t count.

  6. You accepted a severance pay package. In most states, you won’t be able to receive unemployment during the time of your severance pay. However, you would be eligible after your severance pay ends. Some states don’t alter your benefits just because you’re receiving severance pay.

  7. Misconduct inside or outside of work. You’re expected to be a reasonable employee. Stealing from work, chronic absenteeism, failing a drug test, threats of violence, and a slew of other unreasonable behaviors can exclude you from receiving unemployment.
    • Some states have varying level of benefits depending on whether the misconduct is considered to be simple, gross, or aggravated. What’s considered misconduct is very state-dependent.
    • In some states, you can be fired for unreasonable behavior outside of work. You could also be ruled ineligible for payments.

  8. You quit work. There are situations that won’t exclude you from receiving benefits if you voluntarily quit a position. For example, if the working conditions are so horrific that a reasonable person would quit, you’ll probably be okay. Medical or domestic violence issues are other common exemptions.

Unemployment insurance exists to provide temporary support for those that are out of work for reasons that are beyond their control. However, not everyone is eligible to receive benefits in every situation. It’s important to be aware of the laws in your state.

Some states provide a higher level of support than others. The length of time benefits are paid can also vary. You also might be eligible for federal benefits after your state benefits expire. Know the rules that apply in your state before you quit or get fired.

9 Ways to Make the Most of a Bad Day

Bad days happen. Sometimes, bad days are our own fault. Other times it feels like the whole world is on a mission to make us miserable. A bad day doesn’t have to be a lost day. A bad day doesn’t have to stay a bad day.

There are plenty of things you can do to save the day.

Instead of lying down and surrendering, you can fight back with a smile. Show that bad day who’s the boss.

Use these tips to make the most of a bad day:

  1. Set reasonable goals for the remainder of the day. It’s okay that your day has been awful so far. There’s still time to salvage it. Take a look at the amount of time you have left in the day and re-evaluate how you’re going to spend that time. Throw your previous plans in the garbage and start over.

  2. Have fun with it. It can help to just laugh about how poorly things are going. Decide that you’re going to persevere even if the rest of the world seems to be against you.

  3. Make a gratitude list. When life hands you a bad day, take a few minutes and remember that not everything in your life is bad. There are many things you can allow yourself to feel grateful for. Make a quick mental list of everything in your life that’s positive. You’ll feel better.

  4. End on a positive note. Give yourself a treat at the end of the day. You could have your favorite dinner. Watch your favorite movie. Hang out with a friend. Have something planned that you can look forward to at the end of your bad day!

  5. Find a way to laugh. Watch a funny video. Talk with your funniest friend. Find a way to have a genuine laugh, and your day will be a little less painful. Laughing is a quick way to change how you feel.

  6. Get outside for a bit. Give yourself a break and get some fresh air. Go for a walk or sit and listen to the birds. Feel the wind and sun on your face. This can be an effective way to change your perspective.

  7. Sing or dance. Singing and dancing can lift your mood and make you smile. Turn on your favorite song and join in. How can you feel bad about your day when you’re singing and dancing? Give it a try and watch how it makes you smile.

  8. Sweat. Work out some of your frustrations by working up a good sweat. You’ll also relieve some of your stress. A quick run or trip to the gym can help you make the most of what remains of your day.

  9. Do something nice for someone else. When all else fails, put your attention on someone else. Look around for someone you can help in some small way. It’s a good diversion from your challenges, you’ll feel good about yourself, and you’ll also brighten someone’s day.

A bad day isn’t necessarily a lost day. You can make the most of the situation. You might have to alter your plans, but it’s possible to still have a productive day. Do your best and remember that tomorrow is another day. Whatever time you lost can be made up. Whatever happiness you missed can be experienced another day.

Bad days happen, but you can choose to rise above it. Take a deep breath and do your best. Tomorrow is on the way.