I Love My Kids, But I Never Got Around To Saving For Their College – Now They Are In High School

I always thought about starting a college fund. I even set up a small savings account when they were born. Now they are in high school, time is running out and I am starting to panic. What can I do? Where should I start? Are they going to hate me? I really wish I had started earlier.

Get Started: As their guidance counselors, teachers and friends are helping them evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in an effort to narrow down their career options, you need to take action now if they are going to make it to college. Here is how to begin.

Relax: Your first step is to take a deep breath and realize that you are starting late. You can’t change the past, but you can take positive action to change the future. The fact that you are reading this article tells me that you are ready to make an effort to help your children as much as possible. It will take some time and effort on your part, but you WILL make progress one step at a time.

Follow These Steps: The following steps will get you started on a nice structured path. You will start a journey that will take you from where you are now, through to the college graduation of your youngest child. It will not be easy or without some sacrifices, but if you do it right, it will be fun and your children will appreciate your efforts.

Step 1 – Family Net Worth: Prepare a current Net Worth Statement so you can see where you stand right now. This is a financial snap shot that will show your assets and liabilities as of today. (You can find a free one-page net worth statement on our site listed at the end of this article – forms section – or by searching the internet.) Once you know where you are today, every positive step you take will improve your net worth and help your efforts to send your children to college.

Step 2 – Maximize Income: Now that your children are all in school, consider maximizing your earning and saving potential. If one spouse was the primary care giver for the children, maybe they were working part-time or not working outside the house. Consider having both spouses work full-time to add extra income into the family budget. These increased earnings can be directed specifically into college savings, but make sure you put them in the right type of accounts.

Step 3 – Talk To Your Kids: Discuss college and financial aid with your children now. Review the costs associated with community colleges, state universities and private colleges. Let them know that you may be late to the game, but you are trying to help them as much as you possibly can. Depending on your family size, income and assets, you can get an estimate of your expected family contributions by using one of the online EFC calculators. Once you and your children are aware of these estimates, you can begin looking into your best college alternatives.

Step 4 – Let Them Help: Finally, encourage and help your children to become more “Financial Aid Worthy” students. By doing the right things while they are in high school and positioning your assets properly, you can help them by qualifying for more financial aid and learning how to further reduce college costs.

Keep Moving Forward: The most important point to remember is that even small steps will help, so if hitting a college financial “Home Run” isn’t possible, a solid single or even a bunt will help your cause. Every little bit helps and if you keep moving forward in your efforts to narrow the college funding gap, your children will see your efforts and be that much better off.

In Summary: Don’t beat yourself up. You are in the same boat as plenty of other American families. Your kids won’t hate you, but taking the first steps now will help substantially. Talk with your children and give them realistic expectations about what you can and can’t do to help. Remember – Where there is a will… there is a way.

With the many options for college, students need to evaluate their own situation and decide which path is right for them. It will be easier if they know all the relevant details. They might surprise you, so encourage them and help them to make good decisions.

To discover very specific ways to maximize your financial aid and reduce college costs, I have prepared a FREE College Cost Savings Kit which you can download by Clicking Here.

Please consider printing this article and sharing it with a friend. Many parents are in the same situation as you are. By paying it forward, you could help them save a lot of headaches and plenty of money too.

10 Essential Safety Rules for Kids

All parents want to keep the kids safe. But, as children grow older, you can’t be with them all the time. Children need their freedom so that they can learn and grow. Whilst you cannot watch over your kids 24/7, you can teach rules to follow that will help keep them safe. Here are ten basic safety rules that kids need to learn at an early age.

1. Remember Your Address and Phone Number

If children memorize their home address and their parent’s phone number, they can share that information with someone in an emergency. Kids of any age can wander off and get lost. So, the earlier they have this information memorized, the better.

2. Don’t Walk Off on Your Own

Very young children need to have strict boundaries. They shouldn’t walk off on their own at all. As they get older, this rule may change to become don’t go anywhere without telling an adult. If a young child needs to go somewhere, they should be accompanied by an adult.

3. Don’t Talk to Strangers

This is a basic rule that all kids should be taught. Don’t talk to strangers, don’t get in a stranger’s car, and don’t accept any gifts from strangers.

4. If You Get Lost, Stay Where you Are

If kids get separated from their parents, the best thing they can do is stay where they are. That will make it easier for the parents to find the child again. The most common places that children get lost is in stores. In this case, kids should understand that it’s OK to get help from a store assistant or from a mom with kids.

5. No Playing with Fire

Kids are naturally curious, but it is important that they learn that playing with fire is not allowed. Matches, cigarette lighters, and flammable materials should be kept out of the reach of children. Even if you do that at home, kid’s still need to learn how dangerous playing with fire is.

6. Don’t Climb Over any Fences

Children need to be taught that fences are there for a reason. If they are playing ball and the ball goes over a fence, they should ask an adult to retrieve it for them. Climbing fences can be dangerous. What’s on the other side of the fence may be dangerous too.

7. No One is Allowed to Touch You

You can teach children at an early age that secret touching is not allowed. This doesn’t need to be too descriptive or frightening. It can be a simple rule that adults are not allowed to touch kids’ bodies. Kid’s should also understand that it is OK to tell their parents if an adult does do something inappropriate.

8. Know What 911 is For

Children should be taught how to dial 911 in an emergency. However, they should also be taught that 911 is only to be used for real emergencies. There have been many cases where young children who have been taught how to use 911 have saved an adult’s life.

9. Don’t Put Any Personal Information Online

Very young children should be supervised when they go online. Older kids should be taught not to put any personal information online and never agree to meet anyone in person that they have met online.

10. Trust Your Instinct

If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Even if your friends are doing it. Children have gut feelings when something is wrong. They should be taught that it’s OK to say no if they feel uncomfortable about something.

You can start teaching children the basic safety rules from as early as three years of age. As well as these rules, it is also important to teach kids that can always talk to you. Encourage open communication and honesty. It’s important that a child knows they can always talk to their parents if anything at all is worrying them.

Kids & Gratitude = Magic!

Have you ever lain in bed at night wondering what kind of future your kids will have with a world gone hay-wire? Will your kids be successful? Will they have enough money, clean air or clean water? Will they be able to afford housing, schooling and own their own car? Will they live their unique purpose? Will they be happy? No wonder you may have sleepless nights? Is your child being bullied, are they overweight, too skinny, too shy, too loud, overly quiet, can’t focus, focuses too much… or an untold number of countless things that cause you or they, to worry?

How may you shift your child’s focus from what is wrong, to what is right in their lives? How may you empower your child to attract all the good that he, or she deserves? What if you keep it so simple that it takes only three to four minutes a day for your child to do? Would that be worth something to you? Absolutely! Because the truth is, at the end of the day you want to know you have done a great job as a parent, teacher or caregiver! However, your time and energy aren’t bottomless. So, it makes sense for your child to develop a habit, a system that gives you both the best bang for your time. Do you have an idea of what this power is? I make reference to it in the title.

What I’m talking about is the power of gratitude. I wish my parents had taught me the power of gratitude when I was little! Have you already taught your child to get up in the morning, look at themselves in the mirror and state what they are grateful for? Yes, no, maybe? To start off with, you can make it into a game, until it becomes a habit. You can do it together! You can laugh out loud, dance around the room, play music as you and your child chant what you’re both grateful for. Live in the present moment!

If you don’t believe me that gratitude is powerful, let’s do this simple experiment. Put a post-it note or a smiley face on your bathroom mirror. This is a trigger to remind your child, or you to take three to four minutes each morning, to say what you’re grateful for! Have your kids practice this with you the first time. This is meant to benefit both of you. They will follow your lead. I have no doubt they will think you are silly, even as they smile. Remember, what you focus on you attract. Kids + gratitude = magic of attracting all the good they deserve.

Does it not make sense to empower your child with skills they may use for the rest of their life? Totally! Have fun with this! Know you are doing the best job you can as a parent, teacher or caregiver! Because, when your kids learn to be grateful for all that they are and have in the present moment… seemingly magical moments are attracted to them. With each new success, your child’s confidence grows and with it, the knowledge of how powerful gratitude really is!

Wishing you and your kids all the success you and they desire!

Ranger Rick Magazine – For Kids Who Love Nature

What magazine should you get for your kids that they can enjoy the entire year? Like most kids, mine love nature. So after looking into things, I found that Ranger Rick Magazine might be areally good choice. The number one rated nature magazine for kids, Ranger Rick Magazine has garnered many awards. In addition, it is affordable and fun.

Dating back to 1988, Ranger Rick Magazine has received many awards and honors for their work as a nature magazine aimed at kids. In 1988 the magazine took home the EdPress Golden Lamp Award as the best overall educational magazine. In 1991, Ranger Rick Magazine was recognized as a National Magazine Award finalize for their special issue on frogs. EdPress awarded Ranger Rick again in 1992 with its Distinguished Achievement Award then with their Golden Lamp Honor Award in 1993; EdPress also honored the magazine in 1998, 2001, 2002, and 2003. In 1996 Ranger Rick Magazine got the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, and then did so again in 1999 and 2003. All of these are based on the work Ranger Rick Magazine has done for children and for nature.

Many parents will tell you that if you buy your child a $20 toy, he or she will likely have lost, broken, or grown tired of it within a month. However, for that same price, you can get a one year subscription to Ranger Rick Magazine, which is a monthly publication. Children will look forward to its arrival every month and if you have more than one kid, there will be competition to get to it first. It is better than a $20 in that they will play with it for a year, plus it is an educational publication. There are fun nature facts, activities and articles in each edition that children can appreciate and enjoy.

Ranger Rick Magazine is also a fantastic resource for improving reading skills. The children will enjoy reading it and the text is targeted at elementary children. They will grow their vocabulary with nature words and definitions that they can use. When students know something is useful to them, they are much more likely to retain the information.

If you have children who love animals and nature, then you may want to consider Ranger Rick Magazine as a gift for them. They can learn from it, improve their reading skills, and will actually enjoy it every month of the year. It will be the best $20 you have spent for them in terms of education [http://www.exeterdaily.com/category/home-news] and entertainment all wrapped into one.

Great First Jobs for Kids

I have long recommended that no parents give their children an allowance, rather I recommend they provide them commissions for certain household chores to help teach your kids that money comes from effort. At some point, many children begin to look for work outside the home to help augment their earnings and start to earn income that isn’t reliant on Mom and Dad. First jobs are also great ways to learn about oneself and begin to learn about business. Here are several ideas for great first jobs for kids under age 16.

Paper Route – Many children cut their teeth waking up before dawn to deliver papers prior to going to school. Young people performing this work learn many of the mechanics and hiccups concerning the flow of goods from the factory to the consumer. One learns to push through challenges such as poor weather and supply problems to get the job done.

Babysitting – One of the most common first jobs for many (but not exclusively) girls is babysitting. Babysitting teaches responsibility, preparation, patience and safety not to mention dealing with the highly emotional expectations of customers (parents). These skills are extremely valuable in all aspects of working life.

Park League Official – My first job was as an official at the park league where I had previously been a player. A year round program I had the opportunity to be a referee and umpire for several sports. As an official I learned to make quick decisions, how to handle authority, peacemaking, and how to deal with difficult people. I found it one of the most challenging jobs I have ever held, because at the time I suffered from a great deal of self-doubt. The confidence that I learned through learning to wield these skills have paid dividends throughout my life.

Camp Counselor – Another great job I had at an early age was that of a camp counselor. Many of the same skills that one gains as a park league official are learned here as well, but often at a greater rate simply because one is learning for more hours in a day. Some opportunities are for day camps while others are for resident camps. I had the opportunity to work at a resident camp, which not only gave my parents a break from me, it gave me opportunities to experiment with independence as well as make stronger friendships, many of which thrive to this day. Two other great aspect of being a camp counselor is working as part of a team and being silly. I have found both skills to be invaluable in working with others and making my workplaces fun.

Tutor – Smart kids blessed with patience and good communication skills could be great tutors. Tutoring challenges young people to find different ways to convey information to students who are often reached in different ways. In addition, like all teachers can relate, dealing with personal frustration involved with turning on the light of understanding can be very challenging. Patience, understanding, and encouragement skills are gained through tutoring.

Entrepreneurship – Finally, more industrious kids can actually try to create the whole endeavor. There are numerous ways kids can find ways to practice entrepreneurship. World famous personal finance author, Robert Kiyosaki writes about how he and his best friend, at a young age, opened a comic book store for neighborhood kids and managed to secure a source of comics for free. Typical new businesses consist of lemonade stands, lawn mowing services and snow shoveling services. There is not better way to learn a wide variety of skills quickly than by starting a business. Children learn sales, managing equipment, customer service, procurement and a host of other concepts. In addition, much like in adulthood, often the rewards of being an young entrepreneur are much greater than a young employee.

There are undoubtedly other ways for children to enter the workforce. Getting children involved in earning money not only allows them to begin the process of financial liberation from Mom and Day, it also allows them to learn valuable skills that will help them throughout their lives.