5 Kids Expenses to Budget For – Apart from College

Most parents understand the need to prepare for their children’s college educations by budgeting money while the kids grow.

But there are other expenses—not on the magnitude of college—that are also worthy of budgets all there own.

If you have children who are at least in middle school, you already have an idea of at least some of them.

But if your kids are only a few years old or younger, you’ll need to start preparing for some of them right now, because the day for most or all of them is coming up fast!

Braces

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5 Ways Around the Student Debt Trap

We all want the best education for our children, but what if you can’t afford the perfect one? Do you saddle your aspiring college student with $50,000, $75,000–$100,000 in student loan debt upon graduation?

There are ways to avoid the student debt trap and still give your child a decent education.  True, compromises will be necessary, but with the cost of a college education spiraling out of control, there may be no other choice for many parents.
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How to Combine Children with Work-at-Home Jobs

Many parents—mothers especially—see work-at-home as the perfect blend of work and child rearing.  Because you’re at home you can both earn a living and be close to your children.  Additionally, you can save the substantial cost that comes with daycare.

But is that how it will work? It could, but it will depend on a number of factors and how you’ll handle them.

The type of work you’ll do from home

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Inexpensive (Cheap) Date Night Ideas for Parents

Psychologists and marriage counselors champion the benefits of establishing regular “date nights” for married couples that have children. It’s a matter of keeping the romance alive in your relationship, reminding yourself that you’re still an adult, and—let’s call it what it is–sanity! We can only hang out on Sesame Street so long, and then we need adult time.

There are two problems with this for most couples with children—time and money.  Time as in “who will watch the kids while we’re gone”, and money as in most of it is spent on the kids.

The solution to the time problem is a babysitter, an inexpensive one!  The answer to the money issue is finding ways to have a good time that won’t cost too much.  Truth be told, most entertainment oriented activities have gotten prohibitively expensive.   Concerts, theater tickets, amusement parks, comedy clubs and even a night at the movies are largely beyond the financial means of couples with children, especially as regular outings.  But there are ways around all of it. [Read more…]

Selecting the Best Cell Phone Plan for your Child

Kids and Cell Phones Part ll – Selecting the Best Cell Phone Plan

Last time in What is the Right Age to Give Your Child a Cell Phone? we tried answering the “when” question of kids and cell phones.   This week we’ll assume the answer to that question is “now”, and tackle some of the mechanical details that come right after that decision.

Phone Types

Cell phones have evolved well beyond basic communication in just a few years, so it’s possible to get one that can do just about anything you can imagine.  And that’s precisely why parental judgment becomes critical.   I see kids with Blackberries and iPhones, but my feeling is that they shouldn’t have them on two counts: [Read more…]

What is the Right Age to Give Your Child a Cell Phone?

Back when my kids were still in elementary school, my wife and I fiercely resisted the trend to provide our kids with cell phones. Admittedly, it was a bit easier to do so just a few years ago when not quite everyone had given a phone to every child over the age of five.  As it turned out, we got phones for them a couple of years earlier than we planned on doing so, but a couple of years after our kids thought they were ready.

Giving a cell phone to a child has greater implications than we often think. There are arguments for giving it to them as soon as possible, and others—just as good—for waiting. There’s no perfect age since each child matures at a different rate, and can handle the responsibilities and privileges of cell phone ownership at different times.

What are the factors that might influence your decision one way or the other? [Read more…]