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.

5 Simple Steps for Better Grades

By Rick and Teena Kamal

 

studyMost parents realize that helping their children set goals is important, but few realize that not all goals are created equal. While some goals can empower children to get better grades and achieve academic success, others can actually discourage children or cause them to become frustrated and overwhelmed.

 

How do you know the difference between a goal that inspires and one that is counterproductive? Here are five steps to help your child create goals that lead to academic and professional success:

 

  1. Inspire Dreams and Translate them into Long-Term Goals – When children are small, they’re often asked what they want to be when they grow up. Parents laugh lightheartedly as their tots talk about becoming ballerinas and astronauts.  As children get older, however, parents too often discourage those lofty dreams. When this happens children can grow complacent and lose their passion for their future. As youngsters enter middle and high school, help them revisit their dreams and begin thinking seriously about their personal and professional goals. Talk to your child about her future openly and without judgment. Allow her to dream as big as she wishes, and encourage her to jot down several long-term goals she hopes to achieve as an adult. Once children see the connection between their dreams and achieving academic success, they’re much more likely to put in the effort to make better grades.

 

  1. Transform Long-Term Goals Into S.M.A.R.T. Goals – An important part of the goal setting process is make sure all goals are S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Go through your child’s long-term goal list, and together, decide which goals to keep, which to modify, and which to discard. Then work with this refined list to transform these long-term goals into their short-term S.M.A.R.T. counterparts. Make sure each short-term goal has a definite starting and ending point, so that you child doesn’t fall prey to procrastination.

 

  1. Make an Action Plan for Each Short-Term Goal – Help your child develop an action plan for each short-term goal. For example, if your child has decided that she wants to make better grades in English, then her action plan may consist of tasks such as reading for an hour each day, joining a study group and spending an extra 30 minutes of study time on this subject each night. Post this plan in a place where your child will see it every day, and help her be accountable for completing daily tasks.

 

  1. Monitor Progress and Adjust Goals Regularly – Schedule specific times to review progress and adjust goals as needed. If your child has met a goal on the list, set a new goal to encourage continual progress. If your child is making little progress despite remaining committed to his daily action plan, then you may need to reevaluate how realistic the goal is and modify it accordingly.

 

  1. Reward Success – Be sure to appropriately praise and reward your child’s efforts to achieve her goals. Whether you grant her a special privilege, give her a tangible reward, or simply pat her on the back for a job well done, be sure to take time out from your busy schedule to recognize her triumphs.

 

By following these steps you can help your child stay motivated as he follows his own unique path to success.

 

About the Authors: Study and life skills experts Rick and Teena Kamal founded EduNova to prepare students to lead and thrive in the global economy. They worked with 33 top university education experts and many successful senior executives to produce resources that empower middle school, high school and college students to succeed. Learn more at www.HowToStudyBest.com.