Careful, the Kids Are Watching

If you speak English in your home, your kids are not likely to come out speaking Italian. Kids learn everything through observation and imitation. And they don’t miss a thing. Kids are shaped at the very beginning of life by the way their parents live. They are ever-attentive witnesses of grown-up behaviors. They take their cues from what they see and hear. 

Want your kids to grow up with healthy attitudes about money? Start living the way you want them to become. Let your kids regularly catch you in the act of living financially responsible lives and you’ll be on your way to raising financially responsible kids.


You really cannot start too early modeling healthy money attitudes for your kids. Here are 20 ways you can start right now to raise financially responsible kids even if yours are still toddlers, excerpted from my book, Raising Financially Responsible Kids, which remains my most favorite of all because it’s about my kids and the plan we created. Read more

Protect the Kids from Identity Thieves, Too


Faithful readers may recall from a recent column that one of my staff members, Max, has been contending with identity theft since he was a teenager. Well, Max’s problems have not ended.

In just the past week Max has received three more emails from the service he has hired to protect his identity, with information on three people trying to open credit card accounts using his Social Security number. Lifelock put a stop to them immediately before they could even complete the first step. And that’s in just one week.

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Recently, I heard from David H., who wrote, “Lifelock seems very nice at the individual monthly rates, however I am married with three children so to protect all identities would be $100 per month. Is there a more economical solution?”

There is not doubt that thieves are stealing the identity of innocent children and it’s becoming a big problem. A service like Lifelock can give parents peace of mind, but David is right that the cost can add up quickly. So my advice would be to make sure the adults in the family have rock solid ID theft protection in place.  Read more

Turn Kids’ Clutter Into an Art Show


I am always entertained and often educated by the tips readers mail in. Today is no exception. I’m pretty sure you’re about to agree with me.

ART SHOW. I love to see the artwork that my young boys bring home from school, but we can’t keep all of it. Instead, I take photos of each piece of artwork with my digital camera and put the pictures on my digital photo frame at work. That way, I can see their artwork all the time and it doesn’t clutter my house. Erin J. Illinois


SAFELY FROZEN. I am on a waiting list to get a safe deposit box at my bank. While I wait I am keeping my important papers in a heavy freezer bag, in the deep freeze. I hear that in a fire the inside of the freezer doesn’t burn easily. Jill N., Florida 

GREASE CUTTER. I keep white vinegar in a used detergent bottle by my kitchen sink. When I have something greasy to wash, I squirt a small amount of vinegar into the dish. This works wonders in containers that have had tomato sauce or some other tomato product in them. The vinegar quickly cuts the film of grease and residue. Janet M., Florida Read more

With Kids, Travel Kit Can Save the Day


Whether it’s anticipating a backseat disaster, coming up with a quick dinner solution or keeping memories alive, our Readers have just the perfect solution.

TRAVEL KIT. I have a little kit I keep in the car. It contains gallon-size zip-lock bags, paper napkins, straws and antibacterial soap. It’s amazing how many times I use it. Once, my daughter became sick on the way home from an event. The zip lock bag and napkins came in very handy. Then there was the time my son had to pet a friend’s dog and then wanted to have a snack on the ride home. Antibacterial soap to the rescue. Having straws handy means I can keep my eyes on the road and take a swig of a can of soda at the same time. Mary Jo., Kentucky



SHOO FLIES. I’ve learned that keeping fresh rosemary around keeps the flies away. A growing plant in a windowsill is a great idea. Bud M., email

ROLLS LIKE BOB’S. Sometimes I forget to buy dinner rolls to go with the entree I’ve made for dinner. Then I remember what they used to do at Bob’s Big Boy when I went there as a kid. They toasted split hamburger buns and served them in place of dinner rolls. If it’s good enough for Bob, then it’s good enough for my family. They love it, too! Jennifer B., Wyoming Read more

Holiday Gift Guide for Kids Ages 3 to 7


Since the day our grandson, Eli, was born four years ago, my husband and I have done our best to buy toys for him that we hope will spark his curiosity, challenge his mind and prompt him to love learning. I’d say we’ve done something right because the more he learns the more fun we have and the more fun we have the more Eli learns. That’s what I call a win-win.

With Christmas only weeks away, you may be wondering how you can spark the joy of learning in the children andgrandchildren in your life this holiday season. Eli and I had fun coming up with this Gift Guide for kids ages 3 to 7—toys that are really fun to play with and educate, too.

Schleich Animals Read more

The Joys of Raising Financially Confident Teens


Dear Mary: I just read the letter from 13-year-old Abby about teaching kids financial responsibility.

I did this with my daughter when she was just a little older than Abby. Prior to that, she wanted name brand jeans, clothing, shoes…whatever she thought all of the “cool” kids had.


She wouldn’t step into a thrift shop or discount store. It was a constant battle until I decided that she would have a clothing/necessity allowance.

I gave her a set amount of money each month to cover those expenses. If there was an event coming up she would need to save ahead to pay for whatever she needed, including her prom gown and all the accessories.  Read more

A Kid-Sized Financial Plan

If you’ve been reading this column for long, you know that I am passionate on the subject of kids and money. In addition to the many articles I’ve written, my book, Raising Financially Confident Kids (Revell, 2012), has been revised and updated several times. This subject is obviously important to my readers, too.

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Recently, as I was preparing a talk for a local moms group. I got to thinking about some of the questions I was bound to receive after I explained the system that we used on our boys, and what I write about in the book. After all, we assigned a portion of the family’s resources to manage—an amount commensurate with each son’s age, needs and ability—is not the norm. And that, I believe, is the point. What’s being taught—if anything—isn’t working.

I’m sure you have a few questions about our kid-sized financial plan, so let’s take a peek at my kids‘ book mailbag. Read more

Bring the Kids Into the Kitchen

Kids love to help out in the kitchen, but they don’t want to only watch. They want to get involved. To kids, cooking is like an edible art project. It’s fun for them to help with food preparation, but it’s more than that. Making their own food helps children develop confidence in the kitchen. It can also turn fussy eaters into kids willing to try new foods. Bringing the kids into the kitchen will help them develop skills for a lifetime.

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Here are some fun and tasty sandwich ideas to get you and your kids started.

Inside-out Sandwich

You will need a slice of ham luncheon meat, one slice of Swiss cheese, 1/4 teaspoon mustard and one soft Italian breadstick.

Lay the ham slice on a paper plate. Spread with mustard. Center the cheese over the ham. Place a breadstick at one end of the cheese-ham stack and roll up. Secure with a toothpick. Place on the paper plate with the seam side down. Cover loosely with a paper towel and  microwave on high for 20 to 25 seconds until cheese is melted. Let stand one minute. Remove the toothpick before serving.  Read more