Category Archive 'Parenting'

How You Can Plan an Amazing Camping Trip


The summer is here once again. Are you ready to enjoy yourself? Today I wanted to look at how you can plan a camping trip for summer fun. For those of you living in parts of the world where it’s only warm for a few months out of the year, you’re going to want to enjoy the little bit of sunshine that comes around.

Just this past weekend, I went camping with a group of friends. I haven’t been in a while. It was great to get away from the city life and to get in touch with nature for a few nights.

How can you plan an amazing camping trip?

Book your destination first.

Where do you plan on going? The first step is to figure out what your desired destination is. Do you have anything in mind?

How can you find a good place to go camping?

  • Ask around. I usually ask a buddy that travels often about possible destinations.
  • Check online. The Internet is highly valuable for finding deals and options on where to visit next.
  • Take a risk. Once in a while it’s okay to take a risk by just showing up somewhere.

Find out who’s interested.

Do y0u know who’s all interested? You need to find out who’s willing and able to go. It’s important that you collect money from everyone. It also helps to determine who can bring what.

Make a check list of what you need.

It’s time to think of what you need. It’s crucial that you keep an inventory of what you need. Who’s going to bring the drinks? What about the food?

We had made a list and passed it around through Facebook until everything was crossed off it.

Bring the essentials.

At this point you have to remember to bring the essentials. You need a tent, mattress, flashlight, food, and a few other essentials. Without these you don’t have much of a camping trip at all.

Arrive early.

There’s always someone that’s going to be late. This is why it helps to ensure that everyone is ready and that you guys get there at a decent time. You don’t want to arrive in the dark and fumble your way around while trying to set the tent up.

Have a good time.

The summer is short, so enjoy it. Spray your skin so that the bugs don’t bite too much and forget about real life.

That’s how you can plan your next summer camping trip.

The Recession Generation

Business & entrepreneurship, Career, Parenting, Personal finance

I saw an article on Yahoo News that stated the the Recession has affected people in their twenties and thirties the worst.    I am of this generation.  Generation Y.  The Recession Generation.  I wasn’t surprised by the study cited in the article.  After all, my generation graduated from college during the worst economy since the Great Depression.  My friends have lost their jobs because they were the last hired.  The world changed.

But a lot of the comments at the end of the article were from older generations.  These folks said the “Young Generation” can’t find employment because we’re lazy, obnoxious, and essentially lacking the general attitude, aptitude, and work ethic to keep a job. A typical comment went something like this: “of course they can’t find a job—they are happier playing video games living in their parent’s basement.”

Occupy Wall Street was also cited in the comments as a justification for my generation’s unemployability.  Such arguments are not unique nor endemic to modern times.  Even in Greek philosophy it’s not rare to read how, in an older generation’s mind, the younger generation is worthless.  Those Baby Boomers who, perhaps are more to blame for the current state of world affairs than any other generation, were themselves once decried by their parent’s generation as “hippies” or “radicals.”  The circle will, I’m sure, continue.  I know I was surprised to learn that the generations younger than mine are no longer taught to write in cursive.

But the more I tried to justify my generation in my mind, the more I began to wonder about the cumulative affects of the modern age.  This: post-modern age.  Maybe it’s because I just read Don Delillo’s White Noise, but I began to suspect maybe there’s more truth to those comments then I’d like to believe.  How much time does the average person in my generation devote to entertainment versus the average man or woman one hundred years ago?  I’m not sure, but I suspect it’s a great deal more time.  And has the “helicopter parenting” nature of my parent’s generation as well as their financial success created a “generation of losers,” as one poster called us.

I know that I am not personally immune to such weaknesses.  I was raised to value education over almost anything else—including knowledge.  I know what you’re thinking and yes, they are not mutually exclusive.  I went to college because a degree was thought to be a ticket to somewhere: namely the suburbs.  Graduate school was, for me, just more of the same.  It was just me following a roadmap somebody else created. But it wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve actually taken an interest in knowledge.  Maybe it’s maturity or just the fact that I am more of an independent studier, but I find myself relishing reading or learning things I used to curse back in college.  And I regret all that I wasted by floating by during my college years.  All that time trying to fit in with a crowd I don’t even talk to anymore.

Now that I have my own business, I feel upset with myself for reading histories, biographies or other works outside my industry.  I should be spending all my time reading about the law, or practice management, I think.  But other times I feel so ignorant in general that I can’t help but continue on my quest for knowledge, no matter how tangential it is to my most important priorities.  I am twenty-eight years old, and I am ignorant—both in and of the world.  Seven years of higher education and all the schooling before it hasn’t changed that.  I’ve never read the Bible all the way through but I can name the five best picture nominees from each of the last twenty years.  And I don’t even own a video game system or have cable.

Some argue that Americans have been dumbed down over the decades.  Take a Life Magazine from the 194o’s and it will seem as hard to decipher as Shakespeare.  When Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea was first published in Life Magazine, that copy sold something like 5 million more copies than usual.  People were hungry for good fiction.  Is that still true today?

The grammar, style and vocabulary of even a few decades ago is a world apart from where we are today.  Clear writing and clear thinking are more linked together than we’ll ever know.  I sure wish I had a more crystallized notion of each.

We are the Recession Generation, and I worry that we’re bankrupt in more ways than we can even understand.

How To Teach Money


In my opinion, I think that today’s kids are spoiled. If I take my 2 children for example, I can tell you that they have their main playroom on the first floor and another one in the basement. They got so many toys at Christmas and for their birthdays, that in December, we made them give 3 toys each to charity. This is definitely a huge challenge for parents: learning how to teach money to your children. I experimented with something last week; let me share this money lesson with you.

How To Teach Money

My son, William, is 5 years old. He is about the age to begin to understand the importance of money in our lives. But I still find that teaching my son about money is still too early. I tell him that nothing is for free, that he has to take care of his toys and clothes and that I have to work very hard to pay for the house, food and so on. However, all these money lessons are pretty vague for him as “working” and “money” are not concepts he fully understands. This is why I thought of doing something different.

How To Teach Money And Values at the Same Time

Williams loves soccer. At the age of 3, he wanted to jump on a soccer field with the other kids and play. He started playing in a league when he was 4. I know he is my kid and I am biased when I say this, but my son is very good at soccer. In fact, during the winter season, he jumped up to the 5 and 6 year olds league. This year, he is dominant. The problem is, as with many children, he is not always motivated. He is sometimes “tired” or he thinks he can wait on defence and get away with a few breakaways in the game. This is how I thought of money to motivate him.

Money doesn’t mean much to him

Teaching money to a 5 year old boy is a hard task as I mentioned. So I decided to offer him a prize as a source of motivation. Just before we left for the game, I told him I wanted to make a deal with him. Here’s the deal:

–          If he scores at least 5 goals; we would go to the restaurant

–          He must not tell his teammates

–          He must pass the soccer ball

–          This is a one time deal only

He scored 12 goals and had 4 assists!

I didn’t expect him to perform like this; he was running all over the field and playing well on defence, in mid field and obviously on offence. We did go to the restaurant but I had a very important discussion with my son after the end of the game.

How to Teach Money Through This Example

I told my son that we were going to the restaurant not because he scored 12 goals, but because he made a complete effort. These efforts, this motivation were the real reasons why he scored so many goals. I wanted to teach him that when you really put all you have into something; it gives benefits. That often, effort = rewards. And obviously, rewards come with money ;-).

I can’t wait to see if my son will learn this lesson about money and motivation. Next Friday, I won’t offer him any deals… but I hope to see the same motivation!

image credit

Our biggest financial bogey in parenting so far: unexpected health costs

Parenting, Personal finance

Friends of mine who are soon-to-be parents often ask how much it costs to raise a child, or a baby for the first few months, or how much money to put aside in a for delivery costs. While there are many resources out there to help answer these questions (just take a look at a recent Wall Street Journal blog entry that mentioned the), by far, our biggest expense has been unexpected health bills.

Our current cash outflow right now is $120 weekly from sending our son to speech therapy once a week, because he’s not speaking enough words for his age. This doesn’t include the evaluation itself, which cost $750. I count ourselves lucky because our PPO insurance will cover 80% (with no maximum, assuming I read our limits correctly).

To be honest, I sometimes can’t tell if, by being in the uber-competitive Bay Area, we’re alarming ourselves unnecessarily with my son’s speech situation, but since the speech therapy can’t hurt and we’re being told there’s a chance he has a more serious condition causing his speech delay, we of course want to give our son the best chance he can get early on.

I know of friends whose insurance would either not cover this type of health issue or max out at a particular amount like $4K and cannot imagine how much of a drain something like speech therapy could be on a family’s situation, let alone more serious health conditions. And then I think of all the kids and families out there who can’t afford this sort of help, or early intervention, and really feel terrible.

If you’re a parent, what’s been the most unexpected financial cost or change to your financial life that you’ve had to make so far? I’d be curious to know!

Quick tip of the day: Block unnecessary paid services when you have a curious toddler

Parenting, Personal finance

Our now 22-month-old loves playing with his dad’s cell phone. In the last three months, I discovered that his button-mashing fun had resulted in two downloads of some sort of Family Guy game at $3 a pop, a download of a Michael Jackson song for $2, plus associated taxes and fees.

Forcing myself to review all bills is actually one reason why I have never opted to go onto any auto-pay plan for any bills.

Amazingly, Verizon was very willing to deduct the charges and then disable all download services going forward. If you also have a curious toddler who loves cell phones, be sure to check your bills and consider doing the same to avoid any unnecessary expenses. The same goes for your cable bill — there’s usually an option to add in a PIN number to prevent accidental access to any paid content.

Feel free to leave any other comments on other things to watch out for with curious toddlers!