Tag Archives: money

Teaching Kids About Money

November 23, 2012

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Once your children reach high school, it’s time for them to start learning how to manage money, especially investing. Yeah. It helps if you already know about how to manage money. Which, incidentally, I do not. Ugh. I never learned how to manage money (I went to public school where a lot of things slipped through the cracks) and my parents never taught me anything. I can’t say they had a whole lot of money to manage, anyway, and definitely nothing in which to invest. It’s all enigma to me! So I’ve had to learn from scratch. Not easy.

Thank God for the Internet. Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do. I found a very cool website with a “virtual stock market game.” It’s pretty neat! You get fake cash to virtually invest in real companies on the real stock market. Build a portfolio, create investment goals, trade stocks, do everything you’d really do on the stock market.

We have a curriculum book that does something similar but the kids have to juggle note cards, write paragraphs, etc. Playing an online simulation game is much easier and much more fun. Mashable and Forbes gave it props and the game is partnered with Motley Fool, too. Definitely check this out! I know I can certainly improve my miniscule knowledge of how things work in the world of finance….

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My Before, During, and After Story, Part 4

November 20, 2010

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This is the story of our renovation, the toils and victories through a sweltering summer of blood, sweat and tears. Read all the gory details of Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Our kitchen project was finally coming to a close. Yet even now, three months since we moved back in, there are many unfinished projects awaiting me. Now that I am back to a normal schedule with kids’ schooling, my online job, and such, I can only chip away at these remaining projects, slowly but surely. My goal is to batten down the hatches for an Upstate New York winter, and I’ll pick up the hammer and saw again in the spring.

After we tackled the butcher block countertops, we collapsed for a few days. Almost all of the really intense physical labor was done. Except the flooring. We’d installed plywood sub-flooring over the 70s hardboard subfloor over the 50s linoleum over the 1855 pine planks…. thank God, they’d removed the funky 40s carpeting somewhere in there (although dregs of it appeared from time to time as we removed partition walls). I love wood, just LOVE it, but it is so expensive. I decided to go with TrafficMaster allure vinyl planks. It looks like wood– for a second or two, anyway– but it’s durable and easy to install. Cost me a small fortune, though, I’ll tell you what. But I had been waiting SO LONG for a new floor.

Vinyl Flooring

Very easy to install. I guess that's why it's so pricey.

Island

It took me about 8 hours (straight) to install the dining room floor, 10 hours to do the kitchen.

Once the floor was done, the room looked like a real kitchen again. We moved in shortly after. Oh, the JOY!

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This is our beverage area, which I conveniently tucked under the stairwell. Note the painted pantry shelf to the left. Still has no doors, though...

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Our favorite appliance. Oh, how we dreamed for this moment! LOL, six adults in a home make a lot of dishes.

I’d mentioned before about the sink and window as the room’s focal point. I carefully crafted the trim around the window to reflect the home’s Greek Revival architecture. The Greek triangular pediment and fluted trim is repeated throughout the house. I stained this wood extra dark to make it stand out. Cellular blinds soften the hard lines. I need more color and decor here, but all in good time.
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2010 was a wild, crazy ride for us.

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I’m spending the winter quietly, taking things slower as best I can. I work at home to pay off the kitchen. If we had hired out to have all this work done, the job would have cost us a small fortune. By doing everything ourselves, we saved a ton of money. It was a lot of work, sure, but I think everyone was enriched by the experience, especially my kids. Here’s a quick breakdown of the economics:

According to this chart, we saved over $36,000 by doing this ourselves. That is a HUGE savings! Yes, I took time off from work to work on this renovation. I worked on reduced hours for four months. However, consider this: a kitchen renovation gives you an average of 70% return on the cost of the project, so I basically “earned” $25,200 on the value of the home. That’s more than I make in a year, let alone four months. So even though I’m not seeing a liquid $25,200 cash in hand, it’s part of my real estate investment. It was well worth it, I think, to go reduced hours on my job (with which, I figure, I lost about $2000 income) to earn $25,200 in capital investment on the property. Moreover, improving the electrical and water supply reduces our insurance premium, the insulation in the walls reduces our heating bills,  and everything in general improves the quality of our lives here.

I think my DIY project was worth it. But I’m SO GRATEFUL it’s over!

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Terrible Figures

January 12, 2009

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I was reading headlines yesterday and saw a few news stories reporting 2.6 million American workers lost their jobs in 2008. This is just stunning, and I even thought the numbers low. I did a quick search on how many New Yorkers lost jobs in 2008, and couldn’t find an exact number (just percentages, which are meaningless, IMO). And those figures represent unemployment, not employees who have suffered reduced hours or wages. New York has been hemorraging jobs AND residents for decades. It’s shocking; and still the government acts like nothing is really wrong, judging by their actions. Even Governor Paterson, who claims that New Yorkers need to tighten the belt, isn’t making any big spending cuts– and especially no cuts for wealthy government employee salaries, jobs, or pensions.

I found this table at the NYS Labor Department website. YIKES!

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Do you see what I see? Taxpayer-funded jobs (education, government, services) are growing at a phenomenal rate, compared to the massive losses of private sector jobs (jobs that PAY into taxes– the everyday people’s jobs). There is NO WAY this kind of economy is sustainable, NO WAY. It’s simple, simple arithmetic. What is it with idiot politicians? How can they be missing this?! Things do not bode well for the future, if things continue at this present rate. Unless, of course, things are completely turned around and it is government/education/service jobs that pay taxes to us in the private sector jobs…

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Does Money Make You Happy?

April 17, 2008

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One of my favorite frugal blogs was Common Sense With Money. The writer– a certified public accountant turned mom– is incredible with numbers, organization, and knowledge. I don’t understand half of what she says, lol, but I am learning!

She was looking at a new study that says that more money seems to lead to more happiness.

More than 34 years ago a economic study published argued that making more money didn’t lead to more happiness but instead led to upgraded wants. In other words, if when you made $45K a year you yearned for a Toyota, now that you make $75K that Toyota is not enough for you and instead now you want a Lexus. Earning more money only reset the bar on the things you wanted.

That was 34 years ago. A new study has been published and the writers are basically saying that indeed more money seems to lead to more happiness. People around the world have been polled and it seems that people who live in wealthier countries are more likely to say that they are satisfied with life. The study particularly finds that in the United States, households that earned more than 250K a year are more likely to say that are “very happy” (90% likelier).

I’ve always been doubtful of “studies” proving anything, so I don’t give them much of a glance when I read them. The post went on to say that money- and lack thereof- is usually tied to a complicated mix of other components wherein we calculate “happiness.” For example, in a war zone, constant societal upheaval, famine, diseases, and other such things can make you unhappy, no matter how much money you have. Money is merely a perception, I think. The power of money is what you make it. You can make bananas to be the new measure of riches. If you have tons of bananas, you’d be rich. And supposedly, happy.

I don’t think it’s money that makes you happy. I did a post about the Amish people recently. They have their problems, but they are, pound for pound, happier than the average American with five televisions and three SUVs.

I think what makes a person “happy” in Western countries, and particularly in America, is opportunity. Money is a result of our abounding opportunities in this country. I’ve heard about the “American Dream” for decades now. It has morphed over the years. Today, the “American Dream” is owning a house, having a job, sending your kids to college, having enough money, etc. It was not interpreted in such a way in the past. In the past, the “American Dream” meant the world was open to you– opportunity! No longer were you locked into serfdom or a caste or inherent poverty. You could be a “self-made” man, from rags to riches. That used to be called the “American Dream.” Like so many things today, the definition of the “American Dream” is now determined by how much stuff you have or can get. Our culture is viciously materialistic. A materialistic  lifestyle does not make you happy.

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