5 Tips For Putting Your Child on The Path of Financial Independence

the path to financial independence

the path to financial independence

Somewhere around your child’s 18th birthday, when he or she is just getting used to life on a college campus, credit card companies will begin making offers. By this point, it’s pretty late in the game to begin teaching your child about financial literacy, cyber safety, and investment strategies. Ideally, you would have started these lessons years ago. Still, there’s a big difference between “pretty late” and “too late,” so whether you’ve started or not, here’s what you need to keep in mind.

Know The Basics

Before opening the first credit card or checking account, your child should know the fundamentals of financial literacy. She probalby won’t need to be able to do an SEC filing but your kid should understand how to count money and make change, calculate simple interest, and create a budget. Studies show that 70 percent of young people don’t have these basic skills as they enter adulthood. That’s one of the major conributing factors to our national epidemic of personal debt. In the wrong hands, a checkbook or credit card can be a disaster that will linger for years, the first step on a nasty death-spiral of uncontrolled debt.

Stay Internet Safe

Getting deep in debt isn’t the only possible fallout from having access to money. Thanks to the Internet and e-commerce, thieves have access to an amazing array of ways to steal your money. If you go through bank statements carefully every month, you’ll have a good shot at identifying fraudulent or erroneous items. But not many adults do that–and even fewer young people. Instead, use LifeLock to send alerts for questionable transactions and inquiries to both the parent and child. This way you can make a habit out of checking accounts and turn the whole thing into a teachable moment.

Hope For The Best…

… but plan for the worst. Like the rest of us, your child has no idea of the problems that could come up in the future. That said, the life experience you’ve gathered over the years will give you a better chance of identifying patterns and protecting against the unknown. Start teaching your child how to save and budget for unforeseen issues (and don’t be shy about brushing up on those skills yourself).

Saving To Portfolio

Once your child understands the simple aspects of saving, upgrade him to a portfolio. Introduce him to more sophisticated financial tools such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. This can be a fun experiment where you track imaginary transactions of real stock. Start by investing an imaginary $2,000. Let your child pick stocks and watch them daily as they fluctuate. Be sure to factor in brokerage fees, and have your child track his gains and losses. When both of you are confident that he’s got a good grasp on how the markets work, you may want to experiment with small sums in the real world.

Create New Businesspeople

Finances and work are integrally related. Juan Casimiro, founder of Casimiro Global Foundation which provides entrepreneurship training to youth, believes that personal economic empowerment and global social leadership are directly linked. Introduce your child to the principles of social entrepreneurship. Teach her how to make money while creating a better world. Show your child that financial success can be achieved while still helping others thrive.

Watching Movies Can Be a Great Way to Bond with Your Teen

The older your children get, the more challenging it becomes to stay connected. As they carve out own self-identity, it seems like they stop liking things they used to like and may not even want to have much to do with you at all. Take it from someone who’s been through this a few times—and who’s about to do go through it again. Remember way back when spending time with the kids was as simple as taking them to the park to play on the swings? Now, spending time together usually means a quick trip to the video game store or the mall. Or just texting each other from opposite ends of the house. We’ve all been there, and we all secretly (or not so secretly) wish we could get a little closer to our teens. We want to know what’s going on with them, what they’re into, what’s on their minds…. But teasing that information out can be a real challenge.

But there is one thing that the kids and I have always had in common—and it’s something you probably have in common with your kids too: watching movies. Wait, so how can staring at a TV screen or sitting in a dark theater going to help you get any closer to your teenagers? Give me a second to make my case.

Movies Are Universal (Which Makes Them a Great Family Pastime)

If you have more than one child, you know that each one has a different personality. Trying to find things they have in common with each other gets harder the older they get. You may have one kid who’s really active and loves the outdoors, and another who’s more introverted and prefers coding or building with LEGO. Still, no matter how old you are, what your favorite activities are, what you love, or what you hate, there’s going to be a movie out there that will suit your interests.

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Initiating a Divorce: The Proper Steps, Part I

Let’s face it; divorce is scary for anyone. You’re uprooting your life and changing things you never imagined changing. Yet while it can be difficult, it doesn’t have to be. Sure, it’s easy to fight over the little things, but your divorce will run a lot smoother if you communicate effectively and follow the proper steps.

It’s Time to Separate

If you’re ready to make the plunge, you need to separate from your spouse. Separating is never easy, but it has to be done no matter what grounds for divorce you choose to file under. In some cases, separation can lead couples to reconcile. Unfortunately, for others, the often liberating experience can further cement the desire for a divorce. If you have successfully separated from your spouse and wish to pursue the divorce, the next step you need to take is petitioning for divorce.

Making it Official

When you petition or file for divorce, you need to file in the state where you live and make sure you’ve met the separation requirements. Filing for divorce is also known as a “Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage.” This requires that you can complete the necessary forms, pay a fee, and file the papers with the district court in the correct county.

If you choose to use a divorce attorney, your attorney will assist you in completing and filing the forms. If you decide against using an attorney, the process can become significantly difficult. The court personnel will not and cannot answer any legal questions or assist with your paperwork.

Grounds for Divorce

  • No-fault divorce
  • Irreconcilable difference
  • At-fault divorce

The reasons for divorce vary from state to state. You need to make sure you know what to choose as your reason for separating before you fill out the paperwork.

Let Your Spouse Know What’s Happening

Your third step is to notify your spouse. This is also known as having your spouse served. You or your lawyer will have to submit proof to the court that your spouse was formally notified about the divorce. In most cases, the spouse can sign a Voluntary Appearance document. During a specific period of time, your spouse will need to respond or file an answer. They’re usually given up to 30 days to get this done. Once your spouse has responded, you’ll begin the waiting period for a hearing to be set.

Baby, It’s Still Cold Outside

If your family is one of the millions that have been affected by the recent Polar Vortex-induced weather craziness and you’re spending more time inside than usual, we’ve got some great ideas for fun, imaginative, affordable indoor play.

fashion doll coupeFashion Doll Coupe (American Plastic Toys)
You won’t be driving a real convertible for at least another few months, but there’s no reason why your child’s dolls and stuffed animals should suffer. This is a basic, no-frills, open-top roadster built for two. That means no batteries, and no remote control. It’s powered by plain, old fashioned imagination (and your child’s hands, of course). The plastic “tires” don’t leave those annoying black marks on your floors like rubber tires do. Made in the USA, the Coupe costs only $5.00 (really!) and is available wherever you buy your toys.

Fashion Doll Delightful DollhouseFashion Doll Delightful Dollhouse (American Plastic Toys)
If your little one has been hankering for a dollhouse, this is a great time to get her one (assuming you can find your car under all the snow). This dollhouse is huge—three entire floors—so big, in fact, that several kids (or parents) can play at the same time. It comes with plenty of furnishings and other accessories: several beds, a couch, ottomans, a bathtub, tables and chairs, lamps, a washer/dryer set, pillows, and more. And there’s enough room left over to accommodate anything you’d want to add. If you’re buying online, one particularly nice feature (for you, not the UPS driver) is that the dollhouse comes partially assembled, so you and the kids can be playing within minutes. The Delightful Dollhouse costs around $100 and is widely available. For $50, there’s also a smaller version, the Fashion Doll Cozy Cottage, which also comes with plenty of accessories.

hexbug tony hawk skateboardTony Hawk Circuit Board (Hexbug)
If you’re into fingerboarding, it would be hard to imagine a more fun way to play than this. The large kit we reviewed comes with pretty much everything you’ll need to build your own skate park: an inner bowl, an outer bowl, two quarter pipes, a roll-up ramp, a rail, and, of course, a skateboard. We’ve always loved Hexbug’s attention to detail and well-built products, and the Circuit Board doesn’t disappoint. All of the park components snap firmly together and have a realistic look and feel. The board itself feels quite real too, complete with grip tape and sticky-ish wheels. If your fingers get tired, you also get a Power Axle, a remote control unit, a tiny screwdriver, and even-tinier screws that you’ll use to attach the axle. The controls are a little odd—push the right stick and you go left, push the left to go right. But once you’ve mastered them, you’ll be ready to start grinding rails. $49.99. Hexbug.com

hexbug shark tankAquabot 2.0 Shark Tank (Hexbug)
You and the kids can have plenty fun with your robotic Angel Fish—at least until the shark decides to turn him into a meal (that part’s fun too). The kit comes with one Angel Fish, several pieces of decorative “coral,” a sturdy hexagonal tank, and a shark who’s attached to a ramp that snaps onto the side of the tank. When you push the shark down, his mouth opens; pull back and the jaws of death close. If you’re lucky, he’ll have a mouth full. You can increase your chances by dropping in a few more fish. Hexbug’s technology keeps getting better and better: This generation of fish are water-ready and go to sleep after five minutes of inactivity. You can wake them up, though, by tapping on the glass. $29.99. Hexbug.com

Divorce Mediation or Collaborative Divorce?

Coping with divorce is never easy, but you can make things a lot easier if you choose a strategy that allows you to divorce without going to court. Staying out of court reduces time, expense, and trauma for everyone involved, especially the children.

There are several ways to handle a divorce without court. Ultimately, your personal and family situation will dictate which option is best for you. If you’re a dad, you may be concerned about visitations and the impact that your divorce will have on your children.

I spoke to the divorce lawyers at Galbraith Family Law, in Barrie, Ontario, who said “Although separation and divorce can be heartbreaking and challenging with the emotions that come along with it, having an experienced divorce or family attorney can help with this process tremendously. These lawyers can help you with your cases and settlements using out-of-court options such as Divorce Mediation or Collaborative Law. This is the best way to ensure there is minimal effect on all parties involved. Especially those fathers who most often experience suffering after divorce, as well as the children.”

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How to Give Your Child a Cultural Education

cultural education

cultural educationIf you asked your kids what culture is, would they know? Today’s society seems to have little focus when it comes to cultural education; however, understanding culture of all types is necessary for a child’s social and academic development. This is an area your kids might not learn at school, so consider doing it yourself. The following includes timeless cultural influences and what you and your child can do to learn about them together.

Performing Arts

The symphony. The opera. The theater. Dance. Stand-up comedy. Concerts. The performing arts are a part of culture that flourishes in the best of times and survives the worst. The reason is simple: people love to watch performances.

If you child is into music, take him or her to the symphony to hear classical music, and then discuss how it has influenced today’s music. Then, you can compare and contrast it with a concert of his or her choice to continue the lesson.

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