It’s not always easy maintaining a family budget. There are tough decisions to make. If you’re not diligent about where your money goes when it comes in, you can get into some real financial danger. And before you know it, you have a household deficit situation.
Here are some of the most common budget mistakes families make:
- Not tracking actual expenses. Just because you’ve written out a budget and identified all of your expenses doesn’t mean you’re actually following your buget. You need to track the actual dollars you spend each month and compare them with how you’ve planned. As an example, you might face high electric bills during the summer months because of air conditioning. You need to be able to then adjust your budget based on the actual outflow of money.
- Not setting aside savings. You’ve probably been told this a thousand times, but it still bears repeating. You need to have a specific line item in your budget for savings. You need to set a goal that, eventually, you’ll build up enough in your savings account to cover your family expenses for at least three to six months. Ideally, you’ll make this savings account untouchable, or at least very difficult to get to, so that you won’t be tempted to deplete it for other reasons.
- Not planning on irregular expenses. There are some expenses that just aren’t monthly. Think about things like property taxes, clothing, medical bills, vacations and more. You need to set aside money out of each paycheck to pay for these items, even if they aren’t occurring in the current month.
- Not factoring in every expense. This is an easy one to fall into. For example, you might buy lunch every day at work. That doesn’t seem like a large expense. But, at $5 to $8 each day, you’re looking at between $100 and $160 a month. That needs to be a part of your planned budget.
- Living beyond your means. Your income needs to exceed your budgeted expenses. If it doesn’t, you have to trim back your budget, or find another way to earn more money (such as a second job, training for a better job, etc.)
So, what do you think? What budget mistakes have you made or have you seen?
You’re a new mother who’s having some trouble breastfeeding. Or, perhaps you’re an expecting mother with questions about nursing. The problem is you’re not sure who to turn to for expert advice. Fortunately, there are a number of centers across the world that will support and provide you with a relaxed atmosphere.
It’s Only Natural
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) decided to begin a new initiative called “It’s Only Natural.” This program is designed to educate women about the benefits and importance of breastfeeding. “It’s Only Natural” is also designed to give breastfeeding mothers useful tips to maximize breastfeeding results.
Aside from DHHS’s announcement of their new initiative, Catholic Health has also launched events at Baby Cafe in Buffalo, New York. These events primarily educate mothers about why breastfeeding their children until at least age one is recommended.
Currently, Catholic Health is using Baby Cafe to hold meetings twice a week. Internationally certified lactation consultants are available for anyone, including fathers or other relatives, who’d like to learn more about breastfeeding.
According to the Baby Cafe coordinator Tina Harmon, breastfeeding for a year or more has a number of benefits. Some of these include a decreased susceptibility to diarrhea, asthma, allergies, various viruses, ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Studies have also shown breastfeeding increases your child’s I.Q. significantly and is much easier to digest than formula.
However, breastfeeding isn’t only good for your baby. As a mother, it also carries benefits for you. It reduces your risk of breast cancer and can assist in your post-birth weight loss. This happens because breastfeeding burns approximately an extra 500 calories per feeding.
About Baby Cafe
Although the question and answer sessions are new to a single location, the Baby Cafe’s themselves aren’t. The Baby Cafe charity was founded in the year 2000 by lactation consultants. The initial goal for this particular charity was to provide high quality support for breastfeeding mothers in a relaxed setting. Mothers were encouraged to drop in, ask questions, nurse or pump without the discomfort of public feedings.
Baby Cafe became a success. Shortly after opening its doors, other centers around the country were established. Before too long, they were found around the world. Right now, there are approximately 29 Baby Cafe centers across the United States. There are also a number of them scattered across the globe in countries such as China, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom among others.
Baby Cafe is Not Discriminatory
So, what about mothers who prefer to use formula? Fortunately, Baby Cafe provides services to these women as well. All mothers are welcome no matter their income level, lifestyle or other status; even though Baby Cafe’s primary mission goal is geared towards nursing mothers.
The events at the Buffalo area Baby Cafes are just the beginning. Assuming these informal seminars are successful, Catholic Health hopes to see them spread across many, if not all, of the locations. There, you’ll be able to further you and your child’s well-being and socialize with like-minded mothers.
For several decades now, we’ve heard the constant mantra about how parents need to spend “quality time” with their children. Some parents approach this idea with skepticism; they see it as something of a cop-out. After all, “quality time” implies that there really isn’t much in the way of quantity. Critics suggest children need both quantity and quality in order to really connect with their children and be as effective as they can be as parents.
According to a British juice maker, parents can reconnect and bond with their children in just 12 minutes each day.
The company did a survey that looked at how 2,000 British parents interacted with their children, and how they spent their time. The parents spent about an average of 186 minutes each day in cooking, driving to and from work, household chores, answering emails, etc. They spent an average of 39 minutes a day interacting with their children. That works out to about seven days each year.
The research led to the creation of a pamphlet that offers some advice on connecting with you children in just 12 minutes a day, including:
- Playing guessing games with food. Blindfold one another and then smell and taste different foods, trying to guess what they are.
- Use play dough to recreate scenes from your day, and have your children do the same.
- Tell one another jokes, and see who can maintain a straight face the longest.
- Ask children open-ended questions about their day to encourage them to open up and talk.
The fact of the matter is that most parents worry that they’re not especially good parents during the week, mainly because of a lack of time. The idea behind “12 minutes” is to create opportunities to reconnect with your kids during the week.
Of course, it also helps to alleviate some of that parental guilt in the process.
So, what do you think? Is 12 minutes a day really enough? How much time would you say you spend, on average, interacting with your children during the typical weekday?
A family vacation can be an expensive proposition. Driving several hundred miles across country, paying for hotel rooms and attractions, and even dining itself can be major expenses. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface. Souvenirs, snacks, emergency supplies and other incidentals can add up, too.
The Internet is full of frugal travel advice, but much of that advice is simply common sense. Here are five tips for having a frugal family vacation that aren’t necessarily obvious.
- Plan multiple vacations or trips at once. For example, if you know that you’re planning a business trip to New York, a getaway with your spouse to Las Vegas and a family vacation to Disney World, you can book much of your travel all at the same time. Do it in one sitting as opposed to several. This will also allow you to compare rates among airline and hotel brands, and potentially earn more airline miles.
- Rethink souvenirs. The fact of the matter is that you can buy a lamp from Tahiti on eBay. Instad of bringing grandma a T-shirt that says “My kids went to Dollywood and all I got was this lousy T-shirt,” consider creating a digital record of your trip with personalized messages to grandma. She can then view them on YouTube, even while you’re still traveling.
- Understand that you get what you pay for. Convenience has a price. If you can leave for your flight at 4 AM, chances are you’re going to save a few bucks. On the other hand, you might leave for your vacation already exhausted. Decide whether the extra money is worth the convenience. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not.
- You don’t have to fly. If you’re not going to cross an ocean, there are other ways to get there. You can drive, of course, but the train is also an option. Trains are often more comfortable than busses, and you’ll still get to see much of the country.
- Keep credit card charges in mind. If you need to pay for part of your vacation with credit, remember that there’s a cost associated with it. Vacation shouldn’t be a reason to accumulate a large amount of debt, so avoid it if you can.
So, what do you think? Do you have any vacation advice for families that you’d like to share with others?
Adoption has seen a serious surge in popularity over the past three decades. At one time, adoption was considered only as an alternative when a couple couldn’t conceive their own child. Today, however, adoption is often the first choice of many couples who seek to have a child but also make a difference in the life of a child from less fortunate circumstances.
Here’s a look at some of the major trends that have taken place in the adoption arena over the past couple of decades or so:
- More open adoptions. There was a time when almost all adoptions were closed adoptions. In a closed adoption, the identity of the parents – both the adoptive parents and the birth parents – is kept confidential. In many cases, birth parents weren’t given much information about their baby at all. They might not even know whether they had a boy or a girl, and may also never be informed as to whether or not the child had been placed for adoption. Fortunately, this trend has been rapidly reversing itself since the 1980s. Increasingly, birth parents can be involved in the adoption process. We’re also seeing a rise in requests from birth mothers to meet their children later on in life.
- Increased adoption networking. There are essentially two kinds of adoption domestically. You can adopt via an agency or via an independent adoption. An agency may be private or public, and it may be non-profit or for-profit. Individual adoptions are usually arranged by an attorney. In individual adoptions, it’s more common for birth families to be involved in the adoption process. Attorneys often network with one another and with families in order to make these adoptions happen. Some attorneys even bond together to create a sort of informal agency.
- International adoptions. Adopting a child from another country has grown in popularity, as many adoptive parents aren’t only seeking to become parents, they also want to make a difference in the life of a child from less fortunate beginnings.
So, what do you think about these adoption trends? Are they all good, or are there problems with some? Are we moving in the right direction as a whole?