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Parenting
05/07/2010
IconWhen Dad is Also Coach As your son or daughter signs up for youth soccer or T-ball, you'll noticea little box on the application which a dad can check if he's willing tocoach. Well, even if you've never coached, I'd suggest you go for it-maybe justas an assistant coach. If you do check that box, here are a few things tothink about before the season begins: First, don't put pressure on your child. Believe it or not, your child maynot be the star or team leader. Let him find his own place on the team.Sometimes you'll beam with pride and want to scream, "That's my son."Other times you'll want to hide. I know your heart will be pounding everytime he runs out there. But whether he succeeds or fails, do your best totreat him just like his teammates. Second, make sure you have some practice time alone with your child. Manyof the other kids will go home and play catch with their dads. You maythink that, as a coach, you've already done that. But your son or daughteralso needs your time one-on-one. Third, we've all heard Vince Lombardi's words: "Winning isn't everything,it's the only thing." I'll agree with that only if we canredefine what winning is. Are you out to have a perfect win-loss record?Remember, Coach, little league wasn't formed so middle-aged men could showoff their coaching skills. The goals are fun, exercise, sportsmanship andself-improvement. Make sure everyone participates to the best oftheir ability and contributes to the team. Give that struggling kid a fewextra innings at second base-he may cost you a game, but he'll alsoeventually throw somebody out. That's real winning. Finally, coaching can be a chance to reach out-not just to your kids, butto some of the other kids on the team. These days, if you put fifteen kidson a ball field, at least two or three will come from broken homes andanother few will have dads who just don't have a clue. What a great chancethis is for them to be encouraged by an adult male who cares for theirwell-being. As a coach, you can make a life-changing impression on yourchild and every other kid on that team. Ken Canfield copy;2000 National Center For Fathering. All Rights Reserved. You may makecopies for non-commercial use, all other uses contact NCF through theirwebsite at www.fathers.com Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
Icon"Swollen Feet" Jodie Lynn www.ParentToParent.com "Swollen Feet" -- If you are pregnant, you can relate to these moms! But, if you are a stay at home mom, you may be better off. I looked straight into the shoe clerk's face and wanted to cry. Well, why not? My once-medium-sized foot had now swollen to yet another size larger. While I used to wear a size seven, I now take a nine. A nine! We're talking about small boats here. Why, I'm only 5' 3" -- and shrinking fast! "How can this be?" The saleswoman looked at me, and I saw her trying to form an acceptable excuse as to why she didn't have the shoes I now needed, at least not in CANOE size. "Honey," she said, "don't even think about it." What, she was being nice? "I did the same thing when I was pregnant; just try to lay off of the salt." She then gave me a reassuring pat on the boat, er, foot. I did feel a little better as I squeezed into my old pair of sneakers and waddled out the door. Think you're the only one with big fat swollen feet? Well, read on moms-to-be and see what other mother ducks have done. Pam in Indiana - I wear comfortable shoes and get plenty of exercise by walking as much as possible. If my feet began to swell, I prop them up at night by placing a pillow under them while sleeping. During the day, I try to take mini-breaks and elevate my feet as a part of a pick-me-up regimen. This seems to help a lot. As an extra precaution, I take an additional pair of really "cushy" shoes everywhere I go to change into if needed. S. in TN - I tried to cut out salty snacks with each pregnancy. It was hard because this is what I personally craved. After changing shoe sizes twice in two pregnancies, a friend of mine who was a nurse gave me a great tip to help me with my salt craving. Buy saltless pretzels, get them wet by sprinkling a few drops of water over the top, and add "salt sense" very lightly (and evenly). Place in an oven for 6 minutes on 350 degrees and you've created a yummy snack. They have the salty taste but with a salt substitute. While this is not the perfect solution, it really did help. From Jodie : With being so short, I pretty much looked like a pregnant elf! I tried to watch my salt intake, but it was hard because we lived down in Cajun country where there's no such thing as a dish made with a "light" anything. I started taking snacks along with me everywhere I went so the temptation of fries and Cajun seafood wouldn't be too great. (This lasted all of a good two weeks.) I was in an outside sales position at the time and walked what seemed like a zillion miles every day. This was good and bad. Food, food and more food was everywhere I went. My doctor said to prop up my feet as often as possible. How is this done if you work outside the home, I wondered. I finally decided to spend the lunch hour in my car. I'd eat fruit and rice cakes while propping my feet up and reading. I read for one glorious hour. (Yeah, it sounds a little corny, but don't knock it until you've tried it.) It actually made a difference. Three months before the baby was due, I said good-bye to outside sales. When I found myself at home, it was easier to maintain my weight, baby and household duties and still get a little work done in my freelance writing endeavor. This is one of several advantages to working and/or being a stay-at-home mom. You can manage you and your baby's health and activities easier. Of course, I was not always perfect. There were a couple of time, (all right - three or four times) where I couldn#146;t resist crawfish boils and Cajun hot chips and I literally blew up like the Goodyear blimp. For these delightful naughty - I mean - rare slip-ups, the one thing I did that seemed to help, was to lie on my back with my rear and legs up against a wall. Don't forget to use a small pillow in the bend of your back. Well, it worked for me... now, if I could just get all of that salt to stop coming out of my ears... Jodie Lynn is an internationally syndicated parenting/family columnist. Her latest paperback book is Mommy-CEO, revised edition, Martin-Ola Press . (It's not just for moms!) -- check out her new e-book, "Syndication Secrets" at ParentToParent.com for more details. We now have new Mommy, CEO merchandise and logo! copy;2004 Jodie Lynn. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconTrue, Noble and Right By Cheryl Gochnauer (NOTE TO READERS: As we all pause this week to remember 9/11, I'mrerunning the Homebodies column I wrote in September 2001, two weeksafter the attacks. - Cheryl) I've been a mess these past couple of weeks. But normal life isstarting to come back into focus, and one of the reasons is because I'vefinally turned away from the TV. I haven't clicked it off completely. My family applauded PresidentBush's speech to Congress, and passed tissues during the musicalsimulcast of "America: A Tribute to Heroes". My brother is a servicemanoverseas; my father is retired Army. The military is in my blood. I'mcompelled to at least catch my favorite news commentator each evening tohear the latest developments. But I've decided to stop feeding my brain only troublesome images. Ican't handle bad news, 24/7. It's not good for me, and it's not goodfor my family. Like many Americans, the attacks prompted me to dust off my Bible andreview some passages I hadn't read in a while. Look what leapt from thepages today: "Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - ifanything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me -put into practice" (Philippians 4:8-9, NIV) What have my children learned or received or heard or seen in me overthese past dreary days? Sorrow and apprehension, anger and melancholy.That's only natural. Like those around me, I've been grieving. These are hard times, no doubt. But I'm not without hope. Young facesturn toward mine, wondering how to respond to the turbulence. Switchingoff the round-the-clock news, I'm finally ready to share true, noble andright images. Read pure, lovely and admirable stories. Point outexamples that are excellent and praiseworthy. I have to choose between depression and empathy, fear and caution,revenge and justice. I'm determined to purge personal terrorism from myhome via optimism and faith. Questions or comments? Contact Cheryl@homebodies.org or visit herwebsite at www.homebodies.org , where you can order an autographed copyof her new Stay-at-Home Handbook . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconMarital Interaction Ken Canfield www.fathers.com One of the best things a father can do for his kids is love their mother and build a strong marriage. The effort you put into your marriage is worth it to your children. To prove that, I'm going right to the source. Just listen to this sixth grade girl who wrote about her father for one of our essay contests. Shewrites:"Everybody in my family has had to put up a lot with all the things that have gone wrong. One thing about this divorce is that when I go over to my friends' house to spend the night or something, their fathers usually come in and say, "good-night," not "good-bye." When my father comes over to get something and he is about to leave, he always comes over and kisses me on the cheek and then says "good-bye," and walks out. And it hurts a lot. Sometimes I want to just cry." This girl feels the pain so deeply that she is tuned in to subtle nuances like the difference between "good-night" and "good-bye." Her father may see her regularly and show her physical affection, but still the dominant images of her father will always bring her pain. Compare that to what another youngster, a fourth grader, wrote in heressay: "He treats my mom very nicely, which makes me feel wanted." A strong marriage breeds security. The child with two parents who are still in love-and show it-does not need to fear that the foundation of her life is suddenly going to shake and buckle and split apart. Even more than that, your marriage relationship is a model for your children's future relationships-dating and marriage. Your sons are taking subconscious notes. They're asking: What does it mean to be a husband? How should I treat women? Your daughters also have their eye on you. Giving themselves to a man in marriage can be a fearful thing; they're asking themselves how well their mother fared in the deal. One of the greatest legacies you can leave your children (and your yet-unborn grandchildren) is the firm believe that marriage is not to be taken lightly. It's worth committing to. It's worth sticking it out through the tough times. Marriage-your marriage-is worth every ounce of effort you can put into it. Ken Canfield copy;2000 National Center For Fathering. All Rights Reserved. You may makecopies for non-commercial use, all other uses contact NCF through www.fathers.com Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconHomebodies In The Workforce By Cheryl Gochnauer A few months ago, the Census Bureau came out with a welcome reportannouncing that, for the first time since the mid-70's, more new motherswere staying home with their babies than were going back into theworkforce. Some mothers return to their cubicles after the first year. Many grab their Daytimers as kids reach preschool age, and a flood ofmothers head back to their desks once their children start kindergarten. Others hold out until their toddlers become teens, and beyond. So how do you know when it's time for you to go back to work outside thehome? If you're content to be a full-time homemaker, the answer may be"never". But the biggest slice of the statistical pie does plan on somedayrejoining the traditional workforce. Recently, I took a position at my daughters' school, after almost eightyears as an at-home parent. Back in 1994, when I first came home, Karen andCarrie were ages 6 and 2, and I was sure I'd go back to work when myyoungest started school. But by the time she was a kindergartner, I waswell-versed in managing our limited budget. It seemed silly to go back towork outside the home just because the calendar said so, and so I settled infor the long haul. It took a combination of two sets of braces and the desire to send my girlsto private school to get me thinking seriously about going back to work. Istarted networking among friends, looking for a family-friendly job thatwould allow me to earn the money we needed without compromising mycommitment to be readily available to my children. When the position poppedup at the private school of our dreams, I recognized it for what it was - atailor-made opportunity for me and my family. Granted, not all of us will have the chance to work a job with our babies inthe building. But after spending time as a stay-at-home mom - especially ifyou've done it for several years - it's important to be choosy about how andwhere you'll ease back into the workforce. Wait for the right job, one that won't make you feel like you're undoing allthe good you've done during your timeout. As you interview, noteprospective employers' flexibility and rank their family-friendliness. Resist pursuing high-pressure positions that tax workers' spirits and leaveno energy for after-work fun. Resolve to limit debt so that you have theoption of returning home, should you decide to. We go through different seasons in our lives. I loved my stay-at-homeseason, and now I'm enjoying transitioning back into the workforce, with myhusband and daughters cheering me on. Wherever you find yourself in thespectrum, whether turning in your keys or picking them up again, carefullyweigh each work-style decision. When you hit the combination that benefitsboth you and your family at this point in time, go for it! (Wondering if Cheryl's Homebodies ministry will go on, now that she's headedback to work? Of course it will! You can continue to enjoy her encouragingmessages for at-home parents via this column and her website at www.homebodies.org . Contact her with questions and comments at Cheryl@homebodies.org . Copyright 2002 Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com) More >>

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05/07/2010
IconFighting At-Home Frustrations By Cheryl Gochnauer Thinking about running away from home? Sit down, kids. I'm talking to your mom. I've been there, Ladies. We all have. So if you're feeling like you're theonly one, and nobody's ever felt like this, and you're the worst parentthere ever was, don't. Let's look at some common triggers of at-home frustrations, and ways tofight them. FATIGUE. Children, especially little ones, seldom give us breaks when weneed them. My girls are older now, but I still remember living fornaptime -- when they were asleep and I could relax! If you're feeling wornout, don't use naptime to rush through chores. Instead, lie down when thekids lie down. Let the whole house get quiet. Recharge your own batterieswhile the kids are recharging theirs. VANILLA, VANILLA, VANILLA. Doing basically the same thing, day in and dayout, gets boring. Try new activities, especially things that get everybodyoutside. Invite playmates over, and allow kids to visit friends' homes.Kids enjoy a change of scenery, and like playing with different toys. Ifthere aren't any families close by, head for the local library, swimmingpool or park, where you're likely to find other little boys and girls readyto play. Do things together as a family that everyone - including Mom -enjoys. WE'RE ALWAYS BROKE. It's true that there isn't as much money to work withwhen only one spouse is bringing in a regular paycheck. But the mainprinciple to hold onto is this: It's not what you make, it's what youspend. Sort "wants" from "needs" and take on a frugal mindset. Don't fallprey to instant gratification, which steals your precious dollars. Paredown expenses. Postpone purchases and use coupons, rebates, and discountstores. Note: If you've been cutting back and still can't make your bills,consider a part-time job. Your kids will not benefit if their parents gobankrupt! NOBODY CARES. If it has been a while since your husband mentioned how greatit is having you home, don't assume he has changed his mind. He probablyappreciates what you're doing, but doesn't think to tell you - the old "Isaid I loved you once; I'll let you know if it ever changes" type. Let himknow how important it is to hear his affirmation, both in talking directlyto you and about you to others. I'M LONELY. While seeking playmates for your children, don't forget to findfriends for yourself. Link up with other at-home moms by joining aparenting group like Mothers of Preschoolers ( www.mops.org ) or Moms in Touch( www.momsintouch.org ) or Hearts at Home ( www.hearts-at-home.org ). Or trademessages at the Homebodies Forums( http://forums.gospelcom.net/view/homebodies ). Interacting with women whohave made the same choices can really brighten your day. I MISS WORKING OUTSIDE THE HOME. Lots of mothers find the perfect balanceby holding a part-time or work-at-home position. This allows them to focuson their families while maintaining skills and professional relationships.Be sure to keep that balance, though. Don't fall prey to the "Attack of theKiller Home Business", which eats up all your family time even though you'reworking under your own roof. Whatever frustrations you're going through, don't keep them to yourself.Surround yourself with supportive people (your spouse, friends and groups)that understand and can encourage you. And when all else fails, turn toyour child for a hug. That's a great way to get back to basics - toreinforce to yourself again just why you made this choice. (Comments? Email Cheryl@homebodies.org or visit her website at www.homebodies.org , where you can sign up for her free weekly emailnewsletter. Copyright 2002 Homebodies.Org, LLC.)Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconOne Income Living in a Two Income World by Deborah Taylor-Hough I hear it all the time: "It must be nice making so much money you can be home with your kids. We could never afford to do that." Excuse me?! Our family of five lives on an income which could easily qualify for several low-income programs. We make so much money, huh? Where is it?! Now please don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. My husband and I have voluntarily, and quite happily, chosen this frugal lifestyle. But it's funny to hear the misconceptions others have about our finances. COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS The assumption seems to be, if you're home with your children full-time you must be rolling in piles of money. Common urban folk-lore unsettles us with the "fact" that it will cost over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to raise each child to adulthood. According to those figures, it would cost over half a million dollars to raise our three children! Gulp. . . .Maybe the numbers are accurate if I bought my children's clothing exclusively at up-scale specialty stores, sent "Buffy" and "Skip" to ultra-expensive private schools, and outfitted their rooms with the latest audio/visual equipment and top-of-the-line designer crib ensembles. REALITY But the reality in our neighborhood is drastically different. Nearly every family on our block has consciously made the choice, at least for a time, to make the necessary sacrifices so one can parent can be home with their young children. I hope you won't think we've all dropped out of life and taken up an existence of soap operas and bon-bons. Far from it. Many of the women have cottage industries or attend college. Some do consulting work to stay abreast of their professions. A neighbor stays home with her children, actively pursuing a writing career. But even with additional part-time incomes, the families on our street don't make the money that statistics claim we'll need to adequately raise our kids. But raise them successfully, we will! THE SECRETSo, what's the secret to "one income living in a two income world?" Actually, there are several easy tricks: Watch Your Purchases Watch your purchases, even small ones, carefully. If you're cautious with your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves. For one month, keep a detailed spending diary of all expenditures, even for newspapers and coffee. Seeing it all in black and white can be eye opening. Buying a latte' at the local espresso bar each morning can easily cost you $30-$40 per month. Most people spend at least $5 each weekday on food related items at work. (Lunch, pop, coffee, snacks, etc.). Bringing lunches, treats and drinks from home could save your family nearly $100 per month, or $1,200 per year! Groceries are one of the few fairly flexible expense categories in most families. Learn tricks for saving money by careful meal planning and using up leftovers. Investigate the concept of cooking for the freezer (i.e.: Frozen Assets). Learn to buy in bulk, and take advantage of lower prices by planning your menus around the grocery sales flyers in the newspaper. Little expenses add up quickly if they're done on a regular basis. When you find the areas in your life where the money is draining out, plug up the holes! Live Within Your Means Vow to live within your means. Easier said than done -- but it can be done! The first step is establishing a budget. If you have problems keeping to a written budget, try the envelope system. Figure out how much money you need each month for the different categories of expenses (food, clothing, gasoline, bus fare, etc.) and place that amount of cash in separately labeled envelopes. You will have a concrete visual aid to show you exactly how much money you have left to spend in each category. And you will see clearly that borrowing money from another envelope leaves less money in that other category. The envelope system is great for people who tend to think that as long as there is a positive balance in the checkbook, they can keep on writing checks. Get Out of Debt Get out of debt, and stay out. In 1996 alone, there were over one million personal bankruptcies filed in the United States. The majority of these were the result of poorly managed consumer debt. - Does your installment debt (not including mortgages) total more than 20 percent of your income? - Have you taken cash advances on one credit card to pay the monthly payments on other cards or credit accounts? - Are you at your credit limits? - Are you receiving letters, phone calls, or notices from collection agencies? - Do you have difficulty imagining your life without credit? If you answered "yes" to even one of these questions, consider seeking advice from a financial planner. You could be on the way to severe financial difficulties, or even bankruptcy. Contact Consumer Credit Counseling Service for free financial advice and debt counseling. Call 1-800-388-CCCS for the office near you. Identify Priorities Identify personal priorities. No one can set your family's priorities for you. But if you don't take time to think them through, articulate them clearly and live them out, you'll find you have lived a life that is not a true reflection of your inner priorities. Clarify your personal definition of success and meaningfulness by writing out a brief mission statement for your life. Then evaluate every purchase and activity in light of your personal life mission. If having time for community involvement is an important priority, can you pare back the non-essential activities to allow room for volunteering and service? Watching evening television might be a relaxing pastime, but is it adding anything to your community's quality of life? If staying home with your children is a top priority, are you willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen? It's not a crime to shop at thrift stores for your family's wardrobe essentials. And your children won't hate you if you don't take them to Hawaii every year (these are extreme examples, but I think you get the point). A Support Network Establish a support network of friends in similar financial circumstances. If money is tight, every decision can become a financial one. It helps to have friends who understand personally the difficulties you face, and can offer support for the choices you're making. Resources Tap into the many resources available for simple living. There are newsletters, books, web-sites, and even local study groups that can inspire you and offer practical ideas for living within your means. WHAT IT TAKES It doesn't take a salary the size of Bill Gates' to live on one income. But it does take careful planning, focused priorities and a non-negotiable commitment to stay out of debt. There are sacrifices involved, but if your heart's desire is to be home with your children, the rewards of staying true to your convictions will far out-weigh any losses you might experience. Our family faced these decisions nearly ten years ago. We followed our hearts, and we'll never regret it. I drive my used, rusty station wagon with pride. Laugh if you must, but we don't make monthly car payments and our yearly license fees and insurance premiums are minimal. Driving used cars is just one of the many choices we've made that allow me to be home each day with our young children. SACRIFICES? Am I making sacrifices? Maybe. But for me, the real sacrifice would be giving up the joys I share each day with my three kids. Laughing together. Growing and learning side by side. Being available to others in need. Those are joys that I can never recapture if I miss this opportunity now. Carpe diem. Seize the day. By making a few not-so-difficult financial decisions, we have been able to reach our dream of living on one income in a two income world. If you share that dream, I believe you can make it happen, as well. It can be difficult, but the benefits of making it work are beyond belief! ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Taylor-Hough (free-lance writer, wife and mother of three) is the editor of the Simple Times and Bright-Kids email newsletters. She's also the author of the bestselling book, Frozen Assets: how to cook for a day and eat for a month , Frozen Assets Lite Easy , Mix and Match Recipes , Curriculum Yellow Pages and A Simple Choice: a practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconHome Theater Heist by Michael Kellam www.notjustbeans.com Have you ever thought that some particular purchase would save you money. I often hear people talk about how they can save money by purchasing something that will save them in other ways. A good example of this is a home theater system. Many of my movie buff friends, awed by snazzy displays in electronics stores have convinced themselves that there is no cost in this type of purchase. After all, it is difficult to find a first run movie theater that sells tickets for less than $6.50 each and many are substantially more. Surely, they reason, at say $8.00 per ticket, they would save money purchasing this system that attempts to approximate the theater experience. Is this really the case? One particular friend purchased his system in stages. First he purchased the large screen television for a cost of around $2000. Then he purchased a mid range stereo system including a DVD player for another $2000. For these prices, surely the stereo would include speakers, but says my friend, that is not the case. He spent another $1500 purchasing speakers and a sub woofer because he likes the bass. My friend was telling me how he got a great deal because he purchased several of the components at once. He asserted that he "saved" several hundred dollars on the equipment and that the entire system would pay for itself since he would no longer incur the cost of seeing theatrical releases. Considering his assertions, my curiosity got the best of my and I began crunching numbers. I added his equipment costs and figured that his system cost $5500.00. At $8.00 per movie, that means he would have to watch 688 films on his home theater before it would pay for itself. Not bad, you might think. He might see that many films in two years if he watched one every day. Of course, this assumes he is watching films that he would have seen in the theater but chose to view them on his home theater instead or else he wouldn't be saving money. My friend found that even with his home theater, he did not want to give up theatrical movies all together, so maybe it would take a little bit longer for the system to pay for itself. What my friend never figured into his numbers was that he was going to have to have DVD#146;s to watch on this new system. At the purchase price for DVD#146;s, suddenly it would be cheaper for him to watch a movie in the theater. His system could never pay for itself. My friend decided that he would instead rent the DVD#146;s from the local video store, where DVD#146;s rent for about $4.00 each. If all of the DVD#146;s he watches are rented, he only saves $4.00 over the price of watching the film in a theater. This means that we have to do the math all over again. Now for the system to pay for itself (dividing the $5500.00 system by the $4.00 savings), my friend would have to watch 1375 movies for the system to pay for itself. He would have to watch at least one movie every day for close to four years before the system pays for itself. Now my friend is serious about movies, but lets face it, one movie every day is a lot of movies. My friend never considered that after a couple of years, the technology would be so much better that he would want a new one. Sure his system was great, but look what they have now. Still, the system has not paid for itself so he must press on. He never considered that if he had simply paid the eight bucks to see a theater movie every day that he would be $3000 ahead at this point and not in hock for this stupid home theater. Heck he could have gone to the theater AND bought popcorn every day! What makes it worse is that my friend bought his system at one of those electronics stores with the 1 year same as cash. How can you beat that #150; no interest! What he didn't know was that if the balance isn't paid off by the end of the year, that the company charges all of the interest back to the date of the purchase as if it was never "same as cash". To add insult to injury, the credit company charges 29% interest on purchases. That means that in addition to the $5500.00 my friend paid, he also has to pay $1595 PER YEAR interest until it is paid off. If he only pays the minimum payment of $150 per month, it will take him 91 months (7 frac12; years) to pay off the system. The total cost of the system is then $13,647 including $8147 in interest. This means that including the $4.00 savings per movie, he will have to watch 3412 movies before the system pays for itself. That is a heck of a lot of movies. If my friend watched a movie every day, it would take him more than nine years for the system to pay for itself. In this case, my friend could have paid full price to watch movies every day at the theater for more than nine years. In fact, the system is not really paying for itself if my friend would not otherwise have actually paid the $8.00 every day for nine years to see that many films. It also does not take into consideration that most people see at least SOME movies in discount theaters. If my friend would have seen a film in a discount theater, he would actually be spending more for each movie he chose to view on his home theater. What I have not mentioned here is that my friend works a job that pays him $20,000 per year. If he pays cash for the system (NOT using a credit card), he will have had to work over three months for no other reason but to pay for his home theater. If he uses a credit card, he will have had to work for more than 8 months to pay for the system. Now, I don't know about you, but if I could take 3-8 months off of work and still live at the same standard of living, I would rather do that than go to a job and work more for someone else so I can "save" money purchasing a home theater that might not pay even for itself for nine years. I am not saying that home theaters are bad. I am simply saying that you should consider carefully the cost of something before you purchase it. I personally would not purchase such a system when I can see a film in glorious Technicolor on the big screen as it was meant to be seen (in 2.35:1 wide screen of course). If you feel that it is worth it to you to spend the money on such a system (for instance, if you are permanently confined to bed), it is your prerogative to spend it on whatever you wish to spend (keeping in mind that you must want it more than that other thing you can't afford after you have bought it). So go enjoy the movie! And say "Hi" to the ticket taker for me! Michael helps his wife Tawra run the website www.notjustbeans.com . They paid off 20K in debt in 5 years on an income of 22K a year. Tawra's frugal cookbook Not Just Beans: 50 Years of Frugal Family Favorites . has over 540 recipes and 400 tips. For more tips and recipes visit their website at www.notjustbeans.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconKids and Clutter: Pink Bunnies Copyright 2002 Deborah Taylor-HoughUsed with permission. All rights reserved.Adapted from "A Simple Choice: A practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity" (Champion Press, 2000) While talking with one of my daughters, we discussed the need for decluttering her bedroom. Over the years, she'd collected quite an array of toys, books, decorative objects, and miscellaneous odds and ends. Because she tends to bond emotionally with anything that enters her room, convincing her to willingly clear out the excess "stuff" had always been quite an ordeal. I've learned over the years, the more clutter and excess stuff I carry with me, the more disorganized and scattered my life feels. As my daughter and I looked around her room I asked, "When you look at the piles of papers and toys in your room, do you feel overwhelmed by it all -- not even sure where to start when you need to clean your room?" She agreed that was just how she felt. Many of the items I saw in her room were things she never used or played with anymore. But I could also see she had special items that really held meaning to her and she used regularly. I suddenly had an idea. I picked up her two all-time favorite toys (the ones that were "real" in the Velveteen Rabbit sense of the word), held them up to her, and asked, "Big Bird and Fluffy are your special toys, right? They're your comforting friends, your buddies you sleep with each night. They've seen you through surgeries and scary times. You'll probably want to keep them forever, won't you?" She smiled and nodded as she realized I knew how much her favorite stuffed animals meant to her. Then I grabbed two pink bunnies from under her bed that she never played with anymore. They were nothing special to her, just a couple of plain old pink bunnies. "Now, look carefully at these pink bunnies," I said. "Do you want to lug them around with you for the rest of your life? They're nice bunnies. They're even cute bunnies. But are they 'special' bunnies?" She laughed at the idea of hauling those pink bunnies around with her forever, and agreed they weren't anything she played with or even thought much about. As we looked around, she realized her room was full of other "Pink Bunnies" -- those items that just took up space, cluttering her closet, dresser and floor. I suggested she make two piles of things in her room. The "Pink Bunny" pile and the "Big Bird and Fluffy" pile. If something wasn't a favorite item and used regularly, it belonged in the "Pink Bunny" pile. Items that brought joy, had particular meaning, and were used frequently would go into the "Big Bird and Fluffy" pile. Suddenly it became easy to sort her toys, and even also lots of fun! I'd hold up a toy and ask, "What's this one?"She'd laugh and shout, "It's a 'Pink Bunny'!" And then happily toss it into the pile of toys destined for the yard sale box in the garage. As we sorted, we discovered the Pink Bunnies outnumbered the special toys by about three to one. After we finished going through her toys, my daughter had a nice manageable pile of only her very favorite toys. Not only did it reduce the clutter in her room, but it also brought her a great sense of accomplishment. She finally was able to sort through everything and let go of the things she didn't use anymore. When I decided to try the same general idea with my son several months later, the whole "Pink Bunnies" scenario didn't apply. No abandoned stuffed animals hiding under his bed. He mainly had an overabundance of fast-food kid meal toys, small cars, and building block sets. So, what could I use for the Pink Bunny pile in his life? I knew there had to be a similar idea that could inspire him to start happily tossing out the unused clutter. I thought about it for a couple of hours ... and then had a brainstorm! For my son, the two decluttering piles became "Dirt" and "Diamonds." He really enjoyed sorting his toys into those categories, and before I knew it, we were down to just his favorite cars, toys, games, and building blocks. "Dirt" worked like a dream! So, on a more personal note, how many Pink Bunnies do you have in your house and life? Whether it's in a child's room, or one of your own closests, maybe it's time to sort through any accumulated clutter and find out. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: --Deborah Taylor-Hough (free-lance writer and mother of three) is the author of Frozen Assets: How to cook for a day and eat for a month , and A Simple Choice: A practical guide for saving your time, money, and sanity. She also edits the Bright-Kids email newsletter. To subscribe, email: join-bright-kids@ds.xc.org Visit Debi online at: http://hometown.aol.com/dsimple/ Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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