The Best Places to Sell Kids Stuff Online

By Kathy Schultz

baby-stuffEvery parent remembers the excitement of expecting their first child and the literally carloads of items needed to prepare for the big day. Cribs, baby monitors, changing tables, car seats, high chairs, clothes, linens, toys, nursery décor, swings and a host of other necessities filled the home and made baby’s first year or more much easier. But all too soon they’re outgrown or no longer needed, and often while they’re still in excellent shape.

Many families are able to hand down items or donate them to a charity. However, a lot of families really need to get a return on their investment to help afford the necessities needed in the next stage of childhood.

While consignment shops and garage sales are one way to earn back some of the money we’ve spent, in most cases these methods only get us a minimal return on our investment. For items that have barely been used and are still in great condition, why settle for pennies on the dollar? Savvy parents have learned one of the best ways make the most money on kids’ items is to sell them online.

There are many sites on the Internet that help you to sell gently used items. A little research will uncover where you can maximize your return on your dollar. Here are a few I recommend:

CraigsList

Selling on CraigsList is a great way to avoid shipping costs and seller fees on larger, high ticket items or very common items that fill consignment shops. With a presence in over 700 “cities” in 70 countries, it’s likely this site will help you connect with a buyer in your hometown. Criagslist makes it easy to upload items yourself, and users say that depending on the product, they can get as much as 50% of the item’s original retail price. On big ticket items like furniture and electronics, that can make a big difference. Be sure to include photos and use those keywords to maximize your chances of a sale. www.craigslist.org

Lolly Daisy

So what about those cute items that are personalized or monogrammed that, while still in excellent shape, are outgrown physically or emotionally? This is where LollyDaisy.com shines. New to the scene this year, Lolly Daisy connects you with buyers of new and gently used personalized items (clothing, backpacks, step stools, bedding, dishware, accessories, furniture, toys, art, etc.). On LollyDaisy.com, buyers can search by name or initials to find a match and even sign up to receive email alerts when you place a new listing on the site that matches the name and initials they seek. This means if someone is waiting to buy something with your child’s name or initials, they’ll know the moment you list. www.lollydaisy.com

Just Between Friends

If you are looking to sell off items like toys and baby care items in bulk, check out Just Between Friends. This company hosts large consignment sales events all over the country on specific dates throughout the year. Sellers sign up online, find the location and date of the event in their town, use online information to prepare and price items, then drop off items at the sale. A couple weeks after the event, your check shows up in the mail for the items that were sold, and they’ll even take unsold items to charity for you. This site is great for folks with little time to do the selling. www.jbfsale.com

ThredUP

ThredUP focuses on helping you sell kids and women’s clothing. A great alternative if you don’t have much time, this company will send you a self-addressed pre-paid bag for you to fill with the gently used clothes your kids have outgrown. Just drop off the bag off at your nearest UPS or FedEx location. You can choose to have them sell the items outright, or consign them. ThredUp will then upload and sell your items online for you. Once an item sells the company will pay you up to 40 percent (upfront payment) or 80 percent (consignment payment) of the sale price. www.thredup.com

Time is precious when raising children. Why waste it while trying to find the right buyers for kids’ items? Let these companies do the work for you and maximize the return on your investment. This will give you the time and money to get the next round of necessities for your kids. And maybe even a new pair of shoes for you.

Annual Mental Health Exam

by Swiyyah Nadirah Muhammad

priority-mental-healthI’ve been saying for 10 years, there should be an annual mental health exam done on all children starting at the age of eight.  We all get physical exams yearly but because of the stigma on mental health we do not get mental exams.  I studied Psychology at the University of South FL and I believe in what one of my professors taught.  Many children experience neurotic disorders at a young age including anxiety and depression.  If these disorders go without treatment they can form into psychotic disorders.  When I was eight I experienced anxiety brought on by being molested by my brother.  I did not tell anyone about my illness.  I do believe if I would of seeked counseling at age eight my disorder would have never become psychotic.  Now I have paranoid schizophrenia.  I experienced warning signs of mental illness but at the time I was not educated to know they were warning signs.  The warning signs of schizophrenia are not caring to make friends, having slurred speech, and having a family history of mental illness.  I would advice all adults to talk to their children early about mental illness.  Ask questions. Encourage them to share their experience with mental illness.  If you’re an adult who had experienced mental illness at a young age, talk to your children about it. Ask them if they are experiencing any signs of mental illness.  The only way to end this stigma is for everyone to start sharing their stories, especially the celebrities because we look up to them.  The fear many have is that if they share their experience with mental illness they will lose their fan base, when actually they will grow more fans because people will be able to relate to them.  Forty nine percent of Americans will experience a mental illness at least once in their life.  The most common is depression and anxiety.

About the author: Swiyyah Nadirah Muhammad is an author and motivational speaker.  Her book is called Don’t Call Me Crazy! I’m Just in Love and it is required reading at SPC College and several high schools.  To book Swiyyah for your next event or for radio and television interviews, contact her at 727-776-0291.

Frugality – Teach Your Children Well

by Claire K. Levison

saleMy dad is a master of frugality.  His brother often remarks that it’s “the family way.”  As a kid, I thought my dad was cheap but as it turns out, he’s just smart.  He knows what’s important to him and what isn’t.  Those priorities are reflected in the way he spends his money.  The car he had when I was in high school was the base model.  It didn’t even have a radio.  When I would ask him why, he would say, “I don’t need a radio in my car.”  When Dad would take me to a fast food restaurant (a fairly rare occasion), he was never willing to buy drinks.  “Those drinks are so over-priced.  We can get a drink at home,” he would tell me.  As a child, I didn’t understand it.  It drove me nuts.  Now as an adult, I can see that where it drove me was down a path of financial success.

As a mother, I’ve vowed to teach my children to be frugal too.  My fourteen-year-old hasn’t fully embraced the concept yet.  She does enjoy seeing her money go further when she buys things that are on sale, but she’s still fairly enamored with high dollar items.  And I’m not always as good as my dad was when it comes to holding firm.  I can’t remember my dad ever giving in to those fast food sodas.  Although I’m sure he must have at some point during my eighteen years of childhood.

And yes, as time goes on in our society, it seems that ante is continually being upped.  Instead of a soda, my daughter wants UGGs. When I bought her first pair, I remember thinking, “I can never tell my dad how much I just paid for these boots.  He will think I have completely lost my mind.”  Although I was buying an expensive pair of shoes for my daughter, frugality was still churning inside me.  When I looked at the price tag of those boots, it set off an alarm in my head.  Even as a grown woman, I was asking myself what my dad would think of that purchase.  It made me feel uncomfortable.  It made me think, “This should be a rare occasion.  This should be a special treat.”

I could tell you that you should never buy your kids a pair of UGGs or some similar name brand item, but I’m not going to. I think as parents we can find a balance between providing a lifestyle that allows our children some flexibility in a world that puts such a high value on material things and providing a lifestyle that shows our children that frugality will ultimately be a roadmap for financial success.

I expect, like it is with so many other lessons we try to teach our children when they’re growing up, that it may not be until my daughter is out on her own that the light bulb will really go off in her head.  I picture her being debt-free, having a solid savings account, and investing for retirement and other future needs she’ll have.  I picture her standing in the midst of her firm financial foundation thinking to herself, “Wow, I guess Mom really did know what she was talking about when it came to all that frugal stuff.  She taught me well.”  I don’t think this is too much to hope for.

But for now, my sweet daughter just rolls her eyes when I drag her to the clearance section at the back of a store.  I don’t go shopping that often but when I do, I always hit the clearance racks first.  Maybe it’s my version of a radio-less car or a soda-less trip to McDonald’s.  Dad taught me well.  Teach your children well too.

Clare K. Levison is a certified public accountant and author of Frugal Isn’t Cheap:  Spend, Less, Save More, and Live Better.  She is a national financial literacy spokesperson for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and has appeared on major radio and television networks across the country discussing various personal finance topics.   She has served as a member of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) Board of Directors and was named one of the 2010 Top Five CPAs Under Thirty-Five by the VSCPA. Levison has more than a decade of corporate accounting experience and is also an active volunteer, serving as PTA president, Girl Scout leader, and Sunday school teacher.  She lives in Blacksburg, Virginia with her husband and two daughters.

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Why 30 Million Americans Can’t Read

By Will D. Rhame

Education and Literacy Advocate; Author and Founder, The Voyagers Series, www.thevoyagers.net

child-readingIf we take a moment to investigate our current state of affairs regarding scholastic achievement in this country, we quickly come across some alarming statistics. Allow me to update you with a few current facts, and then let’s consider some possible reasons why we have fallen so far behind other industrialized nations.

1.) The U.S. scores at the bottom of all industrialized nations scholastically!
2.)  Thirty million Americans can’t read!
3.)  Forty percent of 4th graders can’t read at the basic level!
4.)  China and India have more honor students than the U.S. has kids!
5.) The U.S. is at the top of the list when it comes to spending money on education!

What is happening to the United States when it comes to education? There are a number of factors, but for the purpose of this article, I am only going to focus on a few.

First, let’s look at the dynamics of our society’s employment culture. Over the past fifty years, the American family has become a dual-income structure. Problems often arise among children when a parent is no longer home after school to help guide and coach them.

Second, there is the exponential increase in technology. Technology is helpful in most respects but  can be very  distracting in others. Did I say distracting?  With  so many devices, games, computers, cell phones, TVs, videos, etc. vying for a child’s attention, it’s much more difficult for the average child to focus on learning to read and to later make the decision to devote time to studying.

Third, there  are the ever-changing teaching philosophies that are imposed upon teachers. Public schools teachers have little, if any, time to be creative. Instead, they are required to teach kids how to pass tests. Additionally, they have  often  had to become psychologists, disciplinarians, and in some cases, mother/father figures, due to the lack of parental participation in the home and at school.

Fourth, there is the positive option to embrace technology as a means of teaching. It is never going away, so let’s encourage teachers to use technology to help educate children. Kids love gadgets, and many of them are more knowledgeable than adults when it comes to computers and other devices.

That brings us to the heart of the matter    ̶READING. Reading is the foundation of any education, without which little else matters. If a student cannot read, there will be lifelong consequences. Getting children to embrace reading as a fundamental part of their lives is critical. In today’s environment, asking a child to read some of the greatest works of literature is becoming harder and harder. Let’s make it fun for kids to read.

Let’s take advantage of technology and use it to enhance reading skills. Let’s gain the attention of students, and just maybe we can change some of the horrible statistics regarding reading proficiency in our country that now exist.

Perils of Distracted Parenting

By Will D. Rhame, author of The Voyagers Series, the first books of their kind!

ipad_and_iphoneThe time adults spend with their mobile devices might be affecting the way children learn language. Since the technology hasn’t been ubiquitous for long, research on this question is scarce. But other research on the effects of adult-child conversation makes a strong case for putting cellphones away when you’re around children.

Is technology distracting parents from teaching their children? Or distracting from children from learning?

Technology is both distracting parents and children from learning specific things. On one hand, technology has opened a whole new era of unparalleled learning of techno-gadgets, games, computers, social media and much more. On the other hand, this new and ever increasing world of apps, games, communications and computers have taken the place of parent/child bonding and the essential necessity of learning to read. Once a child learns to speak most working parents succumb to offering additional techno-gadgets to satisfy the child’s need for companionship, which to some extent alienates the child from the parent.

Many of the apps and computer games have become addictive by the user and act similar to a drug. Studies have been conducted that have shown the addictive affects these computer related games have had on children, and for those parents that have a computer at home, ask yourself how much time you spend on it compared to nurturing your child.

The statistics are scary. In the United States, now a dual income society many parents take their jobs home with them in the form of a laptop and continue their work at home thereby taking the precious time of parent/child bonding away if not completely then to a large extent. The addiction of computers is not just an adult thing it is a child problem as well.

What kind of research has been done on the effects of adult-child conversation?

A number of studies have been performed regarding the effects of child fun reading and essential reading. But surprisingly the research conducted regarding the effects of child/parent conversations has overwhelmingly found that this basic family interaction is crucial and yet becoming less and less in the parent/child household. Humans by nature are social and if a child does not get proper companionship at home they will seek it out wherever and whenever the opportunity avails itself. This is an ever increasing problem that has proven negative affects due to our dual income society. The United States has become a workaholic society and is following the path of Japan which research has shown to be one of the most unhappy societies in the world. Proper adult/child conversation is critical for children on many levels. These levels include bonding, learning, psychological happiness, well-adjusted and more capable of handling outside influences. Aware parents that recognize the need of child interaction naturally create an atmosphere of constant open communications. However, many parents are unaware of the needs of their children regarding inter-personal communications and think techno-gadgets provide a good alternative to interpersonal child/parent conversations. This is a growing and disastrous trend.

Is social interaction crucial to early learning in children?

Mountains of studies have been conducted regarding the crucial need of proper parent/child interaction. Without this interaction a child is left to their own devices to fulfill this critical need. They will seek interaction with peers and in many cases their peers are also parent interaction deprived. Therefore, children many times copy what they see on television. Hollywood becomes their role-model and this can lead to all kinds of disastrous outcomes. Proper social interaction is crucial in a child’s development. Parents provide stories, education, experiences and the ever needed bonding. Who does a child look up to if not their parents?

Can adult-child social interaction be replaced with technology? Will the results be the same?

There is NO substitute for proper parent/child interaction. Technology will never leave us and if used correctly is critical to understand and utilize on a global basis. There so many benefits to technology, but beware that is will never replace the parent/child interaction and bond process. Proper parent/child bonding is the key to well-adjusted children.

Children can make appropriate decisions with the confidence of parent backing, and in most cases follow a road of proper society production and long-term prosperity and happiness.

Our Children’s Spiritual Education

by Robin Fuson

girl prayingWe love our children and we want them to benefit from a good education. Some of us homeschool or put them into private school. Many of us have our children in public school and are involved in what they are learning. We attend parent teacher conferences and volunteer in their class rooms or on field trips. We spend hours helping them with homework, reports, and science projects. Once in a while our homes become a disaster zone when the science project blows up. You may feel, as I do, that it is alright as long as they got the concept of that project and they help clean it up. These things show our children’s academics are important to us.

What about their spiritual education? Have you thought long and hard about shaping their beliefs? Wouldn’t it be great if they grew up and believed as we do? We need to be involved in this area as well. We take them to church and Sunday school. Some of us have them in church clubs where they are taught more about the Bible and learn verses. These are wonderful tools to help us in this area but there is more to it than that.

We are responsible for nurturing them in spiritual areas. Deuteronomy 6: 4-7, Psalm 78:1-7 112:1-2, and Joel 1:3 tell us to teach our children all about God and His word. This is so the next generation will know the Lord. This next generation is our children who will in turn teach our grandchildren and so on. There is nothing more important than teaching our children to have a relationship with the Lord.

It is not just knowing about God but trying to understand who God is and forging a relationship with Him. How do we go about sharing God in a way that they want to have a relationship to Him? We start by relaying the stories in the Bible when they are small. Recount the lives of great people of the Faith like Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, Esther, and Rahab.  Make the stories exciting and real. Then, as they get older have them read about the disciples and apostles like Paul and Silas. When they see you reading your Bible they will understand it is important to you and a way of life.

There are resources you can put into your children’s hands to help them grow closer to the Lord. Make sure the length and subject matter is appropriate for their age and understanding. There are great books and blogs that your children can read for themselves. DVDs and CDs are good tools to introduce and incorporate into their devotional times.

Devotions are times a person spends with the Lord. They don’t have to be long and boring. They just need to have a point. A regular set time is the best, but any time spent is beneficial. Reading, studying, and learning God’s word is beneficial. God speaks to us through His word. We cannot have a relationship with Him if we are not talking to Him and He to us. He speaks to us through His word and the Holy Spirit. We then talk to Him in prayer through the Holy Spirit. The more we listen and talk to Him, the closer we get and the relationship grows.

The Spiritual Education of our children is vital for their well-being. There is no time like the present to start shaping or strengthening their spiritual lives. I have a resource you can use at:  www.kidbiblelessons.com. On this blog I have spiritual lessons written in a story format. Most of the stories use animals to teach a Biblical character lesson. At the end of each lesson is a verse they can memorize corresponding with the lesson.

Rosita Valdez: And the Giant Sea Turtle is the first book in a fictional series that your child would love. It entertains while teaching Biblical characteristics through the life of a young girl. You can find it on Amazon, Barns and Noble, and Westbow Press.

Planning Your Kids’ Retirement

Should You Start Planning Your Kids’ Retirement?

kids savings/retirementWhen our generation was growing up, we were taught about Social Security, and many of us had grandparents who were reasonably comfortable with a combination of their investment income and their government checks.

Today, not so much.

Over the last few years, we have seen the market crash and burn, and Social Security is on its way toward doing the same. So, if we’re scrambling to salvage our retirement income, imagine what it will be like for your kids. If you haven’t done that already, one expert has some good news for you.

That’s why Rick Rodgers, a retirement counselor and author of the new book The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach To Retirement Planning (www.TheNewThreeLeggedStool.com), believes that parents can help their kids safeguard their retirement by starting now.

“When we were just starting out in life, our parents told us to start saving money right out of the gate, but we didn’t listen,” he said. “Instead, we ran up our credit card debt, spent more than we earned and bought more house than we could afford. But our kids can and should learn from our mistakes and helping them to start saving now could give them a nest egg or millions instead of thousands.”

Rodgers advice includes:

  • Start at 16 – Just $5,000 contributed to a Roth IRA each year for 5 years starting at age 16 could be worth more than a million by the time the reach age 65.  In a Roth IRA all that growth would be tax-free when withdrawn.
  • 10 Percent Rule – Everyone should save a minimum of 10 percent of their take home pay.
  • Shelter Early – Ideally, you should save in a Roth IRA account at the beginning of your career.  When you reach your peak earnings (usually around age 40), switch to a tax-deferred account like a 401(k).
  • Fun or Fund? – Take half of what you have been spending on gifts (toys, games, etc.) and invest it in a mutual fund for your child.
  • Birthday Booster – Encourage friends and relatives to contribute to the mutual fund account you’ve started instead of buying gifts for birthdays and holidays.
  • Every Little Bit Helps – Contributing small amounts on a regular basis is a better strategy than waiting to accumulate a larger sum.  Get in the habit of saving something regularly.
  • Use the Refund – Let the government help.  Currently the child tax credit is $1,000 per child until they reach age 17.  Discipline yourself to save the credit when it is returned to you as a refund.

“It doesn’t take a lot to give your kids long term security,” Rodgers said. “The magic of compounded interest can do more of the heavy lifting as long as you start early and contribute often.”

About Rick Rodgers

Rick Rodgers, Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Retirement Planner Counselor, Certified Retirement Counselor, and member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers, is Founder and CEO of Rodgers & Associates.

Rick’s expertise in the investment and financial advisory profession began with one of the big Wall Street firms in 1984. Twelve years later, he founded Rodgers & Associates as a way to concentrate on financial planning. His vision was to help families prepare for a worry-free retirement through the creation and conservation of their wealth. Today, as a leading retirement expert and personal wealth adviser to high net worth individuals, Rick provides integrated financial, tax, and investment strategies, retirement planning, executive compensation, estate and charitable planning.