How to Get Your Kid’s Room Organized

The holiday decorations are put away, the kids are back in school and life is getting back to the normal routines. But where will the kids put their new toys and clothes? Don’t make their bedrooms a battleground. Instead, take this opportunity to help your kids organize their rooms and their stuff.

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Some rights reserved by suzettesuzette

GET DOWN TO KID LEVEL. Look at your child’s room at kids-eye-level and you’ll get a new perspective. Their adult-sized dressers may have drawers that are too heavy for little hands to open, and closet doors are rarely designed for a child’s height.

To help, remove the closet doors and lids from all storage containers and toy boxes. In the closet, lower the clothes rod to your child’s height. Use child-sized hangers and get baskets to house socks and underwear.  Read more

Got Picky Eaters? Get Clever

Got picky eaters? Don’t get mad, get clever! Use these simple techniques to get your kids to eat a greater variety of healthy foods without resorting to mealtime confrontations or worse, force feeding.

BE PREPARED. Keep a cooler in the car that you stock with carrots, pretzels, yogurt and water when you’re out with the kids. This trick will head off the “I’m starving to death!” syndrome that can cause an otherwise reliable automobile to veer off into a fast food drive-thru lane.

Kid Eating Apple

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PLAN DINNERS. If planning menus for a full week is too daunting, start with only two or three days. Keep it simple but balanced. Whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta; a fruit or a vegetable; and a protein source like lean meat, cheese, or beans. Read more

Don’t Let Kids’ Activities Break the Bank

Dear Mary,

My biggest budget busters are enrichment activities for my four children. I want to spark their joy for living and have them sample different sports and hobbies.

Currently they attend a private school that is academically aggressive, and each takes piano lessons. The boys take karate and the girls, ballet. They are also involved in sports, as well as theatre productions at school―none of which is free. We are a one-income family and I stay home with our four children. Our finances are very tight and we end up using credit to make it through the month. It sounds simple enough to just put my children in public school and drop all the extras, but my mommy-guilt says NO. I want the best for my kids. Any advice? Tricia, email


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Dear Tricia,

The definition of “guilt” is “remorse caused by feeling responsible for some offense.” You have not committed any offense so I don’t think this is about guilt. You are experiencing fear of failing as a parent. The best way to get rid of fear is to replace it with power. And power comes through knowledge.  Read more

A Family Night of Stargazing

If things are so hectic in your household that you can’t remember the last time you took time out for some family fun, you need to reacquaint yourself with an important verb: Schedule. Time is like money. If you wait until you have some left over, you may wait for a very long time.

Once something is on the calendar you will find yourself scheduling around that, not crossing it out. If you don’t have one, make up a family calendar that covers at least the next three months. Post it in a visible place so all family members can see it, even the little people. Make it colorful and exciting.


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Carve at least three blocks of time from those 90 days and mark them in big bright letters: Family Fun! Now that it’s on the calendar, you need to make some plans. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to create wonderful times together. Read more

Kids’ Expenses Don’t Have to Break the Budget

Dear Mary,

Now that school has started, I dread the thought of clothes shopping for the kids. We don’t have unlimited funds and I won’t go into debt for new clothes. But my teenage daughters have very high expectations. They have certain brands they insist on and I just don’t know how to handle this. Any ideas you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Belinda, Illinois

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Dear Belinda,

I have just the idea. Go to the bank and withdraw the cash you have earmarked for school clothes. Get two envelopes and put half of the money in each. Now tell your girls you’re taking them out to lunch. Really build this up, but don’t give away your secret. Act excited. They’ll be so curious to know what’s up with mom!  Read more

How to Raise Financially Confident Kids

I am excited to announce tha
t after 15 years in print, my book about how I debt-proofed my kids has been completely revised, expanded and released for a new generation of parents and kids. Here’s an excerpt from Raising Financially Confident Kids (Revell 2012), which is still my favorite book of all time.


Something amazing happened on my way to getting a financially confident life. My kids got one too. Read more

Financially Confident Kids

The topic of kids and money has always been important to me, but these days it’s occupying the top spot in my mind. I am convinced that one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is confidence―financial confidence.

Kids who know how to make good financial decisions from a young age will have the confidence they need to make the right choices in the real world when they come to life’s critical decision points. The opposite of confidence is timidity, which by definition is lacking in boldness or determination; lacking in courage or self-confidence. Read more