Genius Strategy for Giving $20 in COLLEGE SAVINGS As Holiday Gifts

I post this important article every December. This year, it contains a brand new resource! A free downloadable bonus article with super helpful information for grandparents. To get straight to the free downloadable article, click here:

How to Give College Savings As Gifts and Get Happy Hugs in Response

Most grandparents love to dote on their beloved grandchildren, but let’s face it. Older kids and teens are notoriously hard to shop for.

How can grandparents give a relatively inexpensive holiday gift that will be remembered with tears and great appreciation for years down the line?

No matter your income level or budget, Grandma and Grandpa, here’s an ingenious idea for deeply impacting the kids you love this holiday season.

grandma

This idea will help you to take the $20 you were planning to spend on a holiday gift, easily put that money into the best possible kind of college savings account, and still have something meaningful and beautiful for the child or teen to unwrap at your family’s holiday gathering.

All without nicking your own finances or damaging the teen’s future financial aid eligibility in any way.

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Fewer Screens * More Cheerful Chores * Happier Summer

This article was originally written in 2017. It was updated on May 8th, 2019. I plan to update it every May, right when parents need it most.

screens

Carol kicked off her work shoes and put them away in the front hall closet. “Hi, kids; I’m home!” She called out.

It’d been an extremely long work day for Carol, and the commute home had been long and sweaty due to heavy road construction and her car air conditioning being out. All she wanted to do was get her shoes off and collapse.

When she walked into the kitchen, though, she gasped.

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In Just 5 Minutes — Change Your Future Grandchildren’s Lives

grandchildren

Last year, I climbed a mountain in Zion National Park.

My husband, the avid hiker, gave me a set of hiking poles and these instructions: “When you start to feel exhausted,” he said, “just concentrate on your next step. Where’s the next, best place to put your foot? Carefully put your foot there, and before you know it you’ll be at the top.”

Many of us get through parenting in this exact same way.

Exhausted, we survive day-to-day by focusing on the bare minimum required next step in our parenting journey. Just getting through until bedtime, or until Saturday’s soccer game, or until the next school break. We limit our thinking to the immediate, the urgent, and the short-term—because that feels productive. It feels like we’re getting somewhere.

In truth, taking just 5 minutes to look at the long view can be exhilarating.

When I was climbing that mountain in Zion, the moments that took my breath away happened when I stopped, lifted my head, and looked out over miles of sheer cliffs and valleys, all the way to the misty distant horizon.

Taking 5 minutes to look toward the parenting horizon can be both exhilarating and transformative.

For 5 minutes right now, think, “What could we as a family do this year, that could impact our descendants 100 years from now?”

Is there something you could do now related to education, to money and debt, or to moral and spiritual development, that could pay off for generations to come?

Our culture is currently plagued and limited by a short-term thinking mindset. You don’t have to be.

Ari Wallach, in this powerful TED Talk, urges us all to transform our children’s and grandchildren’s futures by breaking free of the 3-5 year “short-termism” that, he says, “permeates every nook and cranny of our cultural reality.” Wallach calls us all to practice “longpath” thinking that asks this important question: “To what end?”

What is the purpose in what we’re doing? Where are we going with this?

How will these decisions we’re making today impact our family 100 years from now?

What could we do this year that could pay off in huge ways…for generations?

Carefully consider these words, which I consider to be the most important in Wallach’s TED Talk: 

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My Best, Funniest Parenting Tip

For Parents of Kids Ages 8-18

In this short post, I’m going to share my best, funniest parenting tip.

This one makes me laugh just thinking about it.

funniest parenting

What do you do when your normally good kid turns sassy or disrespectful, or makes a deliberate choice that’s against family rules?

My mom used to make me sit on a hard chair facing an empty corner of our dining room for 20 minutes, and it was excruciating.

I use a different strategy for my kids. 

I make them watch TED Talks.

“Honey, would you please put your phone on the kitchen counter for awhile? Feel free to take it back after you’ve watched 30 minutes of TED Talks. Pick any subject you like! If you can’t get it done today, that’s OK. Any time this week will be A-OK with me.”

The results can be hilarious.

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Can’t Save For College? It’s OK, Mommy. Try This

I’m excited to be guest posting on the blog of Mommy blogger Julie Hoag this week. Julie blogs about motherhood, family, and faith with a focus on moms raising kids ages birth–13. When Julie asked me what her moms need to know about setting kids up to graduate college debt-free, I immediately thought of today’s subject. Read on and I’ll give you an idea that works for any family with any age kids, but it works better the earlier you start it.

Be sure to stop by and visit Julie Hoag on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram, and on her website, JulieHoagWriter.com.

Here’s the guest post I wrote for Julie.

save for college

What happens in the minute after a toddler first builds a block tower, and then knocks it over?

Her mom starts thinking about college.

Will this one be an engineer? A construction manager? A real estate developer?

How will we pay for the education necessary to get there, especially when our current budget doesn’t allow us to save for college at all?

One brilliant answer is to start very early on with just one non-saving strategy.

In my work as an academic strategist, author, and speaker, one of the first debt-free college strategies I share with parents is the free college savings program at UPromise.com.

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Grandparents, Here’s How to Give COLLEGE SAVINGS as Holiday Gifts

This article on how grandparents can give college savings as holiday gifts was updated on November 20th, 2018. 

Most grandparents love to dote on their beloved grandchildren, but let’s face it. Older kids and teens are notoriously hard to shop for.

How can grandparents give a relatively inexpensive holiday gift that will be remembered with tears and great appreciation for years down the line?

No matter your income level or budget, Grandma and Grandpa, here’s an ingenious idea for deeply impacting the kids you love this holiday season.

grandma

Write a letter, put the letter in a box, and wrap the box.

Now imagine this scenario.

The child or teen opens a wrapped box from you, and inside he finds an envelope that says, “Brad, read this later. Love, Grandma and Grandpa.”

In this special letter you tell him how much you love him, what admirable good character and potential you see in him, how proud you are of what he’s accomplished the previous year, how excited you are to see him have a successful future, and that you have made a contribution to a fund where you’re saving for his future education.

You don’t have to tell anyone the actual amount you’ve put into this college fund.

Any amount, even $10.00, is generous.

If you like to write, you can add more detail to this letter.

The letter could also include stories from your own life, along with wise advice for this boy’s future. Letters like these become increasingly precious to kids as the years go by—even if you’ve invested only a small amount in the college savings account each year.

Parents who’ve read pages 23–25 of my book will carefully save these letters.

On those pages, I strongly urge parents to carefully save these letters (along with photos of you and the child together), and then eventually use an online service to create a scrapbook out of them.

When this child is an adult, this scrapbook will mean more to him or her than a hundred sweaters and plastic toys.

What if your savings for this kid’s college ends up being over $100.00, and you want to invest it?

As this special college savings fund gets larger, you may want to invest it so that it can grow and increase in value while you’re sleeping. You shouldn’t do this until you’ve had a financial advising professional help you with your own retirement planning of course—but if you’ve got that taken care of, here’s what to consider as you invest this college savings money.

Invest in such a way that you protect the child’s future financial aid eligibility.

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