How do you teach your kids about money? If you don't do it, one thing is certain: They'll learn their lesson in the school of hard knocks...and you don't want that.
As a parent, there is so much you can do in this arena, yet a recent T. Rowe Price survey found that four in 10 parents said their own parents didn't do a good job teaching them about money. Those same respondents in turn graded themselves at a "C" or lower when it comes to teaching their own children.
More recently, I read additional T. Rowe Price research that found moms and dads -- both individually and together -- spend more time talking to their sons than their daughters about money. Without even realizing it, parents are giving girls less knowledge and info about how money works.
The thing is, one talk won't get the job done with your kids. You have to do it every time a teaching moment arises. At the same time, this is something that you don't want to obsess over, but you do want to impart good values.
Kids can ask all kinds of questions. "How much do you make?" "How much does mommy or daddy make?" "How much did our house cost?" The T. Rowe Price survey shows that 80% of parents lie or evade such questions. I believe there is a time to answer these questions with specifics, but it may not be when you have very young minor children.
When I wrote Clark Smart Parents, Clark Smart Kids some years ago, I talked about scaling things down to the age of your child. One of my favorite things to do is sit down with a dollar in coins and ask, "How much of this goes for housing? For our car? For our food?" Pretty quickly kids realize the dollar is gone and we haven't even talked about a present for them yet! You use finite resources that a kid can get their arms around to teach them with.
There's no one formula, no one way to teach your kids. You have to keep trying to meet them at their level to increase their knowledge and responsibility.
How many times have you unloaded the groceries at home and wondered how you spent so much on so little?
1. Buying from the bakery. It gets you every time: The sights and smells are there at the front of the store to entice you to buy more. It's so easy to purchase that pack of cookies from the bakery, but it's impulses like that that can affect both your wallet and your waistline.
2. Shopping without a list. If you're not making a list ahead of time based on the meals you plan to make and the items on sale at the store, chances are you're going to leave with at least an extra hundred dollars in groceries and still not know what to make for dinner tonight (is it just me or have we all done this?)
3. Avoiding the store brand. These days the store brands are usually just as good if not better than the big guys, and most store brands are significantly cheaper than buying the name brands. However, keep in mind that if you do use coupons regularly, name brands can be significantly cheaper than store brands. In this case, it definitely pays to compare prices.
4. Not checking the organic foods. Healthier doesn't necessarily mean more expensive these days. A lot of the time it can either be the same or even cheaper to buy the organic version of a product. I recently found organic ketchup for the same price as the conventional name brand. Same price and it's healthier? Sign me up!
5. Not taking advantage of those store rewards cards. They're free and they give you the sale prices when you scan that rewards card. If you're not using it, you're sending a lot of money down the drain. However, these days I've noticed that a cashier will scan a card on your behalf if you don't have one. So you're probably thinking that you don't need it anyway, right? Wrong! If you have your home address linked to you're card, you will get special coupons mailed to your home. These coupons are usually based on items you normally buy, which makes this an easy way that you could be saving. Plus, Kroger chain stores allow you to save .10 per gallon on gasoline for every $100 you spend in the store. If you're not tracking your spending with that store card, you're missing out on a discount at the pump!
By changing up these five simple things, you'll be keeping more cash in your pocket when you head to the grocery store.
What are some of your tips for saving money at the grocery store?
About the author: Crystal Collins, a Savings.com DealPro, is an Atlanta local, adventurer, a health advocate and thrifty as can be. Check her out on her blog at NaturalThrifty.com.
Do you use review sites to make decisions? I do all the time. This wisdom of the crowd is so powerful that some businesses want to strike back when they don't like what you post.
The Union Street Guest House in Hudson, New York, is a popular destination for weddings in the Northeast. But the facility apparently had a clause in its online policies that said, “Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not. If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party."
When The New York Post and other publications got wind of this, the story blew up. That forced the Union Street Guest House to backpedal and remove the clause. "The policy regarding wedding fines was put on our site as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago. It was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced," the hotel said in a statement.
Of course, the whole episode tells you how valuable and powerful reviews can be!
Consumer Reports suggests you keep the following pointers in mind:
Everybody loves having a new car. For one thing, they are new and shiny and pretty with no cosmetic flaws. They have no wear and tear on them. With every part brand new, you can expect to drive your car several years before it starts to break down.
The problem with new cars of course is the cost. Since everybody wants to have a pretty new car, new cars sell for quite a premium over used cars. But what about new cars with hail damage?
Since they aren’t perfect and pretty anymore, they lose much of their appeal to new car buyers, and because nobody wants a new car that isn’t pretty, car dealers are sometimes willing to give large discounts to people willing to buy new cars with hail damage.
Back in 2008, a large storm with baseball-sized hail hit my hometown, and a couple of car dealerships on the West side of town got the very worst of it. Their entire inventory was severely damaged with huge dents in all their cars. The dealerships had no choice but to offer big discounts on their cars, and my wife pounced on the deal.
Having a reliable car was more important to my wife than having a pretty car with no flaws, so she got a heck of a good deal. A new vehicle that normally cost $23,000 she was able to snag for $17,000. That’s a discount of $6,000, or over 25%.
The downside was she had to drive a car that was pretty rough looking. She also had to answer questions about what had happened to her car wherever she went. Several years later, when she was able to save up a little extra money, she had some -- but not all -- of the damage repaired.
The worst of the damage was to her hood, so she had the hood replaced completely. The roof was also badly damaged, but because that isn’t as visible as the hood she left the roof all dented up. Other parts of the car had smaller dents, but she decided she could live with those. She also had the body shop apply touch up paint to dents that were big enough the paint had cracked inside of them to prevent rust from developing.
After these repairs the car still wasn’t as nice looking as your typical brand new car, but it was a considerable improvement. These repairs cost her about $800, so she still saved over $5,000 over the normal price of a new car.
Sure, you can save money buying a car with hail damage, but there are also several potential problems you should consider.
First of all, there is the potential for rust. Not only is rust ugly, but it will eventually eat away more and more of your car until the damage is severe. Look closely at the hail dents and search for cracked or missing paint on the surface of the car. If you see any such cracks in the paint you should have touch-up paint applied to those dents to prevent any future rust damage.
You should consider the diminished value of your vehicle. Just like you wanted a big discount to buy a car with hail damage, so will any future buyers of the used car you want to sell. This won’t be a big deal if you are going to keep your car for the majority of the car's life because when you are selling a very old car buyers will be more interested in getting a good deal than they will be worried about some cosmetic damage.
If you plan on driving your car for just a few years before you sell it though, then diminished value will be a significant concern. You should figure that when you go to sell your car you will get several thousand less than you would have if you were selling a car without hail damage.
Getting a loan on a hail damaged car may also be more difficult than normal. Because the collateral will be worth less than normal, financial institutions may be hesitant to lend money for a car with hail damage. You should visit with your lender before you visit the dealership to see if they will be able to make you an auto loan.
Insurance companies may also be concerned about insuring a car that is already damaged so you should visit with your agent to see what their policy is.
A car with hail damage may not come with the standard factory warranty as other new cars do. Ask the dealer what the warranty will be on your new car. In my wife’s case, there was no standard manufacturer warranty, but the dealership gave her their own warranty for 10 years or 100,000 miles, which was the equivalent of the manufacturer’s warranty. (Editor's note: Be sure any warrant you consider is the manufacturer's own, not through a third party.)
The downside to having the warranty through the dealership is that my wife can only take her car in for service at that one dealership , while most buyers of new cars can take their car in for service at any dealership in the country during the warranty period.
So while your car may not look pretty, and there are plenty of downsides, the bottom line is that buying a new car with hail damage can be a great deal. So what do you think? Next time a hail storm hits your city, is it going to be time for you to do a little car shopping?
About the author: Andy Prescott is the owner of artofbeingcheap.com, where he attempts to put dents in your spending with his weekly articles on cutting costs.
As a new parent your impulse may be to provide whatever your baby needs – no matter the cost. (Having just embarked on parenting, I can speak from personal experience!)
But, of course, your child doesn’t need everything. In fact, a newborn can survive happily on simple basics – food, warmth, diaper changes, and hugs, primarily. Does your baby really need organic crib sheets? Or a $100 cashmere receiving blanket? Of course not.
ARTICLE: 6 ways to save money on baby stuff
That said, I have discovered some thing worth the splure - for our family, at least.
My son always cried when we changed his diaper for the first couple of weeks. We realized it might have had something to do with the cold temperature of the wipes hitting his skin. Upon the recommendation of another parent we purchased a wipe warmer. Cost? About $27 from Babies R Us. I was hesitant to buy it, feeling like I was falling prey to the marketers of the billion-dollar baby gadgetry empire. But all I can say is that our baby no longer wails when his diaper gets changed. I accidentally have called this the “butt warmer.” Well, it sort of is, isn’t it?
Professional Car Seat Installation
While attending our infant care classes before our son was born, we learned that most car seats are installed improperly. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 3 out of 4 car seats are installed incorrectly. We didn’t trust our installation skills, so we paid about $75 to hire a top-recommended expert to install our car seat. You can search for an inspection service or expert installer in your area at SafeCar.gov.
Baby’s Own Airplane Seat
Airlines don't generally require travelers to purchase individual seats for their children under the age of 2. The rules typically say you can keep your baby on your lap. But for our family’s first trans-continental flight happening later this fall with the baby in tow, we wanted to be extra safe and extra comfortable.
My husband researched it and found that in rare instances when there was, say, a bad landing or lots of turbulence, having a baby strapped in his or her car seat on the plane was very helpful. In one or two cases, it was actually life saving.
So, for peace of mind, we decided to pay an extra $500 for our baby’s round trip seat in coach from NYC to San Francisco. Plus, this means we all get our own row on the plane and don't have to worry about bothering an innocent passenger next to us. (For passengers who will be sitting in front or behind us, we apologize in advance!)
Subscription to Consumer Reports
I apologize to my parents for thinking they were such nerds in the '80s for referencing Consumer Reports before any major purchase. I am that parent now…and proud to say that I have a subscription to the product ratings magazine. We referenced it before buying our new car and the baby’s car seat, to name just a couple of big ticket items we’ve bought in the last few months. Annual membership is $30, but you can try it for the first 30 days for free.
You will take countless photos of your baby. I think I’ve taken over 1,000 since he was born 3 months ago, mostly with my iPhone. And each day, my iPhone begs me to delete some of the pictures because my storage is nearly full. Who has the heart to delete any photos of their baby – even the out of focus ones?
I decided to download DropBox, the cloud storage service, onto my phone, which automatically backs up photos and videos. The basic service is free, but because I knew I’d probably exceed the basic capacity, I upgraded to DropBox Pro for an extra $99 a year. This gives me one terabyte (1 TB) of space. Translation: 1,000 gigabytes, or more than enough. Never feel bad about deleting a photo from your phone again.
About the author: Farnoosh Torabi is a financial expert and author of the new book, When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. Sign up for her newsletter and receive your free gift!
Years ago, I talked about the Walkstation, a desk at which you stand that was equipped with a treadmill!
People who had this thing would do their work while walking all day long at half a mile an hour. You can drop some tremendous weight by doing that. The Walkstation was popular among a small number of people, many of them entrepreneurs.
The big problem with work treadmills has been the cost, which can be upwards of several thousand dollars. But now an entrepreneur has come out with an affordable treadmill desk.
TrekDesk.com offers a $479 desk that goes over your existing treadmill.
The Washington Post reports that people who sit on their rear ends all day suffer health problems regardless of whether they exercise three times a week as most nutritionists recommend. One recent report I read suggested office workers shave 2 years off their life by being so sedentary. Who knows if that's true or not.
Now, if you work at a big company, corporate culture probably dictates that standing is a no go. But if you're an entrepreneur who controls your own life, I want you to seize the opportunity.
To keep it simple, just stand if you are your own boss. (Of course, the treadmill option is a better one.) You don't have to spend big bucks to make this happen. Just get a simple draftsman's table at which to do your work.