Friday, April 23, 2010

5 Tips for Working From Home While Caring for a Child

Working from home while caring for a child can be one of the most difficult work-related balancing acts someone can attempt. While it might seem like a dream to those sitting in an office all day, let me assure you, there are times when I dream of being back in a peaceful office where at five o’clock I could leave my work and troubles behind for the day. If you do decide to take on this challenge, here are some tips that might help make your attempt successful.

Organizational skills are key if you plan to try to work from home while caring for a child. It can be difficult enough just organizing your own life, let alone child’s and your work all at the same time. By keeping your roles as separate as possible through utilization of various areas of your home or apartment (i.e. bedroom or playroom for your child’s toys and activities, a home office for your work, and living or family room for your personal activities) you may be able to maintain some level of organization. You can also stay organized by developing and maintaining a routine.

While this aspect of working and raising a child at home can be difficult to develop and maintain, it can certainly help you stay on task and get everything done that needs to be done. As your child grows, changes, and develops, your routine will need to change with him. The better you can roll with the punches and modify your routine as needed, the easier it will probably be to stay on task and get things accomplished.

Utilize down time
This is probably one of the most important aspects of working from home while raising a child. It can be near impossible at times to get things done while your child is awake and needing attention. This can become very frustrating when you are in the middle of something important. Consider utilizing nap times or the few occasions when they are actually entertaining themselves to try to be as productive as possible. It might be tempting to use this time as a break for yourself, however, if you plan on accomplishing anything related to work, then you should probably try to buckle down and devote these few precious hours to your work.

Stay busy
Staying busy might sound a bit ridiculous considering the fact that you will actually be doing two jobs, but even with a child to care for and work to do, you can still become a bit lazy at times. By keeping your child busy, it will often allow you to stay busy as well. When you think about it, when is typically the hardest time to keep yourself motivated? Is it when your child is up, busy, and active, or is it when he or she is snuggled in for a nap or at nighttime? In most cases, it is probably the latter. Lying down with your little one can be the kiss of death to a productive day.

Squash the little things
It can be easy to let the little things get you down. Getting distracted by all the little household chores or projects that need to be done other than work or child-related activities, can burn your day up before you know it. You should probably try to put as many of these minor issues out of your mind until you have finished your work for the day, or, sadly as this sounds, you can use them as breaks. Even folding laundry or doing dishes can seem more exciting and relaxing than work. Consider putting your little one to work doing some of these menial jobs (matching and folding socks, separating white clothes from colors, etc.) that you don’t have time for when he or she is old enough. This can help teach great work ethic, keep them busy, and allow you to get some work done.

5 Cost Saving Ideas for Parents with a New Baby

Having a baby can be a stressful time for any parent no matter how prepared they think they are. And much of that stress can come from the fact that a baby is going to be expensive any which way you do the math. Fortunately, there are ways to diminish the cost of having a newborn, you just have to know where to look and how to do it. Here are some helpful tips on how to save money when it comes to preparing for and supplying a new baby’s needs.

When it comes to a newborn, buying furniture can really suck the old wallet dry. Therefore, consider asking friends and family to see if they have leftovers from when they had children. Chances are, some will have bassinets, changing tables, cribs, play pens, etc. leftover or stashed in garages, basements or attics. If this isn’t the case, the items are too dated, or you fear they may be unsafe, then you might want to try garage sales or second hand stores before buying new.

Clothing & shoes
Much like furniture, friends and family might be happy to relinquish lightly worn clothing that they have been holding onto. Garage sales or resale shops like Goodwill Stores can be wonderfully cheap ways of finding baby clothes as well. When it comes to shoes, many little ones outgrow them before they’ve hardly had a chance to wear them. This can be good news for you since there will be plenty of lightly worn shoes in resale shops just waiting to be picked up cheap.

You might not be aware of this, but Target offers a store brand for diapers, wipes and formula. In my opinion, not only are these items nearly as good as the name brands, they could save you as much as 30-40%.

When it comes to little ones and food -- be careful! Sure, you want to be the greatest parent on the planet and load up on the best of the best when it comes to the nutrients for your tiny tike, but remember, they have to actually ingest the food to have it be good for them. So even if you find a great deal on baby food, it might not be worth buying a lot of it unless you’re sure they’ll eat it…and just because they eat it once doesn’t mean they’ll eat it again.

Once again, friends, family, and garage sales can be a great resource when it comes to toys, so you don’t necessarily want to be in a hurry to run out and buy all the newest and cutest trinkets for your tiny tot right away. And much like food, when it comes to what they like, it might not always be the popular brand or item of the day that truly pleases your little one. They might like swinging a paper towel roll or shredding tissue more than playing with the trendiest of toy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Level Heads Lead to Loaded Accounts

Why is it that so many of us feel such entitlement when it comes to our retirement accounts and investments? Is it that we actually feel we deserve millions in the bank and a cushy retirement complete with a lavish lifestyle and vacation homes, or is it that this is what we've been led to believe we deserve?

When it comes to retirement and what we need versus what we feel we deserve, there is often a large disparity. But is that our fault or the fault of the untold number of advertisements and financial advisors urging us forward, reminding us to keep up with inflation, nudging our fears that without several million at retirement we may outlive our money?

Here are a few things to ponder when it comes to your retirement and how you view your needs, wants, and desires, versus reality.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Home Investment: One Man's Battle Against the Odds

As you may have realized by now, I'm not the biggest fan of home ownership. Recognizing the fact that there are certainly some positive aspects to the role in certain situations, I just feel that there are just too many downsides for too many people -- a fact that has obviously been illustrated as of late.

Sure, for those who have trouble saving on their own and need the security of home equity, live in an area with low property taxes, or just LOVE the area or home in which they live, a house can be a wonderful thing. For the rest of us though, home ownership can be the albatross around our necks, weighing us down until we can shed the hefty burden.

The following is a short version of my story of home ownership and some of the things I have learned along the way.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Tale of Two Spenders

The coming together of two hearts often also includes the coming together of two wallets -- or more likely a wallet and a purse. But differences in personal spending and savings habits are often scanned over initially in deference to sweet snuggling, smooching, and similar romantic goings-ons. However, as the initial phases of hot and heavy hand holding fade and the pairing of two, often unique attitudes toward personal finance begin to meld, it might seem more like the clashing of titans rather than the melting pot of love.

The following is a brief version of just a few of the areas in which my wife and I have discovered differences in our financial opinions and how we have worked to resolve such divergences of viewpoint.