Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Keep Up The Good Fight With Kids And Chores

Are you struggling in the parenting trenches right now? Battling to convince your kids to do chores regularly, or to save patiently, or to give thoughtfully?

This excerpt from my conversation with Andy Hill on his Marriage, Kids and Money Show might give you some solace.

Andy: Some people are listening right now, and they’re saying:

“This is all well and good. It sounds like you guys have some kids that really want to help out. I haven’t even started asking my kids to contribute around the house. Where would I even start?

What would you say to that person?

Bill: So, first of all, let me disabuse you of the notion that my kids wanted to help out. I think what is really interesting and fun — now that most of my kids are in their twenties — is you realize that the good fight was worth it.

In other words, you think they’re not listening to you. You think the fact that they don’t pick up their clothes for the thousandth time is because you’re a crummy parent. You couldn’t convince them that work was important or to pull their own weight for the family.

Then they grow up and move away, and you start seeing the fruits of your labor.

Sometimes the messages are all getting through. They’re just not prepared or ready or mature enough to receive them. And then when they go out in the world and learn a little bit of what the world is about, you realize that all the messages are still floating around in there, and they start to land. And it’s really gratifying.

My kids wouldn’t leap to give money. Or, they wouldn’t leap to save. Or, any of those things necessarily. Sometimes they did. Sometimes they didn’t. They were normal, good kids. Good kids are going to act out every once in a while.

Being a parent is so humbling. I didn’t realize how stupid I was until I had kids. If I saw a kid acting out, my first reaction before I was a parent was:

“What’s wrong with that kid’s parents?”

And then, it turned out, I was the volunteer soccer coach whose kid was lying down in the middle of the field, pounding the grass, swearing at the referee.

“Hey coach, whose kid is that?”
“Uh, that would be mine...”

And, now, that particular kid? (I’m not going to name any names, I’ve got 5 so I can hide it among them) He is one of the most thoughtful, caring individuals. (OK, I’ll give it away: he’s a dad now too.)

So, keep up the good fight. And keep with the consistent messaging — even if you don’t see the immediate results. I bet if you’re consistent with your messaging and you’re consistent with your efforts, you’ll see the long term results.

And there’s no reason not to hedge your bets anyway. So stick with it.

Andy: That makes me feel good for someone who’s in the trenches of it right now.


Want to turn these tips into action? Check out FamZoo.com.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Charge Kids A Mediation Fee For Dispute Resolution

A mom gavel that makes kids pay.

“Mom, Taylor took more than half the ice cream!”

“Yeah, but Haley had more last time!”

“No I didn't!!”

“Yes, you did!!”

“Moooooommmmmmmm!!!”

Here comes the judge!

You know the drill. It’s dispute resolution time. Never pretty.

What if the kids just resolved these little kerfuffles peacefully themselves? Yeah right.

Well, maybe it’s possible...

A dad named Jon K. shared this clever conflict resolution hack on Facebook:

We try to encourage [our kids] to solve their own disputes. We tell them that they can get my wife or I involved to figure out a resolution. But we charge a “mediation fee” (usually $.50 or $1) from each, and we promise that if their dispute goes to mediation, we’ll find a way to make sure that neither “wins”.

We’ve seen parents charge kids for inconveniences on our family finance site before — chauffeur fees, cleaning fees, you name it. But never mediation fees. Brilliant.

So, from now on kiddos, think twice before you call mom or dad to mediate. We’ll make you pay!


Want to turn these tips into action? Check out FamZoo.com.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pop Up A Family 401(k) In Five Easy Steps

Pop Up A Family 401(k) In Five Easy Steps

Chris loves personal finance. Of course he does. He’s an accountant.

But he hates all the complexity and technical jargon that prevents “normal” people from taking action.

For example:

I’d like to see every eligible W2 earner make a non-tax deductible contribution in the amount that is the lesser of one’s taxable earned compensation (not adjusted gross income) and the allowable limit set by the IRS as dictated by age and subject to certain modified adjusted gross income limits into a Roth individual retirement account established by the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 in the first allowable year and every allowable year thereafter to grow tax-free in a passive, low cost, broad market index fund until age 59.5.

What the...?

That’s exactly the kind of techno-jargon Chris laments. He’d prefer to present personal finance topics simply and briefly. That’s why he created the short-form podcast Popcorn Finance.

So, what I meant to say was:

I want all parents to set up Family 401(k)s for their working teens. Pronto.

Why? It will save their financial lives.

What’s a Family 401(k)?

Grab a bag of popcorn, kick back, and fire up episode 43 of Popcorn Finance.

Chris and I break down the Family 401(k) into 5 easy steps. Listen and you’ll learn my favorite family finance tip in the time it takes you to make — and perhaps eat — a bag of popcorn.

Here’s the cheat sheet:

  1. Get a job. Like a corporate 401(k) deal, the Family 401(k) starts with work. In our family, I insist on a summer or part-time job that issues an official W-2. That way, I know we’ll be in the clear with the IRS.
  2. Open a Roth IRA. Help your working teen open up a Roth IRA account at a reputable broker. I chose Schwab. For teens under 18, you can set up a custodial account.
  3. “Family-source” contributions. So your teen spent the earnings on gaming and pizza already? Time to hit up the grandparents and rich uncle Phil for some cash to contribute to the Roth. See if your teen can "family-source" enough funds to max out the contribution.
  4. Invest. Don’t let the funds wallow in cash. I like a low cost all-market index fund like VTI for the long term win. Don’t try to time the market either. You can’t.
  5. Rinse and repeat. Keep doing this every year whenever eligible. Congratulations, now your teen knows the wisdom of dollar cost averaging. Oooh, fancy jargon!

After decades in the market with steady contributions enjoying tax-free growth, your teen’s gonna be sitting pretty on a sweet retirement stash come age 59 and a half.

Which brings us to Chris’ bonus step: Step 6. It’s the ultimate parental payback. It’s like the butter on the popcorn.

Listen here to find out what it is. It’s only 10 minutes long. Pop. Pop. Pop.


Want to turn these tips into action? Check out FamZoo.com.