Sunday, March 29, 2009

Frugal Financier

How many of you are in charge of some part of your household finances? Maybe you work very hard outside the home and add income into the family budget monthly. Possibly, you have sacrificed a paycheck to become one of the very hard working but unpaid workforce (stay at home mom - or dad as the case may be). Possibly you carry the responsibility of managing all or part of the family monthly budget.

You do have a budget don't you.......

Sorry, that's another blog post.

When we put on our frugal financier hats, we show our kids the value of a dollar. We teach them how to spend wisely, how to make most financial choices based out of need - not want. We show them that money is not an unlimited resource, but a resource that needs to be treated with responsibility and with respect for the hard work that is put into obtaining it.

This is what my frugal financier hat looks like when I am wearing it in front of my girls:

1. We do go shopping. However, the vast majority of the time we spend shopping is when they NEED something. When we go, we have a great time searching clearance racks, closeout stores and yes, even Good Will. It almost becomes a game of who can find the best bargain.

2. At the beginning of the school year, we have a set dollar amount for new clothing for the girls. They each have a certain allotment and are responsible to pick out what they need, but still stay within the budget. If there is any left over, they can pick out what they "want".

3. We eat out on occasion. However, we make most of our meals at home. In fact, we sit down to dinner as a family at our dining room table at least 5 times a week. We have discussed the benefits of cooking at home with the girls - healthier, needed life skills, less expensive than eating out.

4. We live on a written monthly budget and allow certain dollar amounts for certain activities. our children are aware of this budget and understand the concept of budgeting.

Now there are many other ways I wear this hat. There are probably too many to list here. I believe it is important to set a good example for my children when it comes to finances. In this world and this economy, no one can afford to be financially foolish. If I wear this hat often, I hope I teach my girls the financial commonsense they will need to make wise financial decisions when they are older.

I challenge you to think of 4 ways that you wear your frugal financier hat.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

creative genius hat

It is 8:30 pm on a Thursday evening.

In a panic, one of my daughters comes to me because the project she is making just isn't working....something about glue, things not sticking, ripples in the paper - it's not clear in the emotion of the moment. The assignment is due tomorrow.

It is too late to go to the arts and crafts store to get new supplies. She is not satisfied with the supplies she has. The advice I am giving is going in one ear and out the other. If you have daughters you understand how that happens when they are in a highly emotional state.

So....out comes creative genius hat.

This hat is not necessarily creative in the sense that it bestows amazing artistic talent.

This hat is creative because it allows me to offer suggestions in a creative way that help her through the drama of the moment. It allows me to guide her in a direction that will help her accomplish her goal, but doing it in a way so that she thinks it is all coming from her own ideas. It helps me make suggestions, offer alternatives and present options that she can choose from to move her from panic to completion.

Now the funny thing about this hat is that I actually have three of them - one for each daughter. It has taken me many years to get the sizing and look of these hats just right - sometimes they still need adjusting. Each daughter responds differently to these hats. If I am wearing the wrong hat for the daughter I am working with, I go from creative genius to creative flop!


Time to open the hat box - wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nature Lover's Hat

All this beauty in the middle of Southern California.....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Caution....Student Mama Ahead!

"Mom....why is the sky blue?"

"Mom! Fix this!"

"Mom, why does my heart hurt so bad?"

I bet, if you are like me, there are many questions that you had to learn to answer- so many things you had to learn to do.

When I first started out as a young parent, I didn't know much. I had to learn the ins and outs of caring for an infant. I had to learn how to juggle a job, a life, finances, and a new baby all while trying to maintain my sanity as a single parent. (Thanks to all my family for you help in those years!).

As some time went on, I had to learn how to parent a toddler, answer the silly and not so silly questions that a 2 year old asks, still maintain a job and finances, as well as navigating the waters of a new marriage and how to share my parenting with another person. And I still had to learn how to maintain my sanity!

Jump ahead a few years and I was still learning. Two more babies, several moves to several new houses in several states, a new dimension of both parenthood and marriage, brought about a new phase of learning.

At each step of my life as a parent, I had to figure things out. I had to solve problems, face issues, mend messes, discipline behavior, clothe, feed and nurture three other lives besides my own.

Although there are countless parenting books out there, not one of then is written as the manual to YOUR child in YOUR life. Advice abounds from parents, in-laws, friends, siblings, doctors, and yes, even the occasional stranger at the grocery store. But none of those people have spent the intimate time learning about your child that you have.

I have learned that parenting is a constant education. I take bits and pieces of what we hear from others, mix it with our gut feelings, apply my skills and watch for the results. Sometimes I get an "A" on the parenting situation, sometimes a "C" and occasionally, I even get an "F" - and that's OK. As long as I make the "E" for effort, an occasional parental flop is not the end of the world.

The learning as a parent never ends - one of mine is now an adult and I am still learning. As long as I am open to expanding my parental knowledge I'll be fine and my kids will be fine.

Maybe one day I will successfully have earned my degree in parenting. But I have been told that even when they are grown and gone, the I'll still be wearing my parent hat.....

PS. When I went back to school....I learned how to answer the "Why is the sky blue?" question. If your interested in knowing the answer, leave a comment and I'll tell ya!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

EXTRA! EXTRA! News Reporter Mom

Wow….I’ve been M-I-A as far as posting about my hats.

Last week, our family dog, Fina was ill. We have had her for 6 years and she is an important member of our family.

We took her to the Vet on a Thursday afternoon. They ran a bunch of tests and sent us on our way. The following Friday night (of course as the kids and the household were closing down for the night) the vet called with the news. Our beautiful dog Fina was diabetic and having complications.

Then, I had to break the news to the girls. It was a long night after that.

The rest of the evening was filled with mad internet searches about canine diabetes and treatment, comforting broken hearts, and the life changes it would mean to all of us, if she was treatable. It also included what would happen if she was not treatable.

As moms, we are generally the bearers of much of the news that needs to be distributed to our families. Whether it is good news or bad news, news of a fun event or even the death of a pet, friend, or loved one, we moms have to find the right words to deliver the news. Even if we don’t deliver the initial message, we have to deal with the emotional ramifications and have to find a way to manage what has transpired.

This is not an easy Job!

We have to find the right words to actually convey the message, but, at the same time, filter our words so that they will be heard and understood by our children - with the least amount of pain. To add to the intricacies of this type of communicating is the fact that each one of our children are different, respond differently to situations, react differently to stress, grief, and conflict, and generally process things differently from one another. Not to mention, we have to manage our own feelings about the news.

There is no sugar coating the donning of this hat. It is not easy one to wear when the news is bad. However, just as with every other hat we wear, it is necessary to complete our wardrobes as moms.

The only advice I can give is when it is time to take this one out of the hatbox is to know your children, be honest with them, but also be aware of the words you are using. If you do, you will wear it effectively until it is time to put it back in its box.

P.S. We are treating Fina’s diabetes and she will hopefully have many more happy years with us.