Allowances: Tool or Tyranny?

In her blog “Good Thinking,” research psychologist Denise Cummins explains why the topic of allowances raises such a high level of concern and confusion for parents.

Allowances are powerful things. They are a child’s first exposure to the power of personal choice that financial means can bring.  It is for this very reason that parents approach it with a mixture of fear and trepidation. 

To some, it is the quintessential way to teach children financial literacy as well as character traits like patience, thrift and generosity.  To others, however, allowances are dangerous things that take away parental power and authority, and teach nothing more than greed. (more…)

Key Components of True Wealth

Learning good money management habits and basic financial knowledge will help to increase your confidence in making good financial decisions.  But, more importantly, a growing understanding of the underlying emotional motivators that shape your attitudes and behaviors will give you the extra edge you need to achieve your financial and life goals.

Therefore, rather than using income and net worth as a measure of your financial health, take a more holistic approach by evaluating your progress in these key components of “true wealth”—Recognition, Resilience, Resourcefulness, Relationships, and Wisdom. (more…)

Making Peace with Your Teen’s “Impractical” Major

Graduation time is nearly here, which means that many high school seniors will hear two questions again and again: “Where are you going to college?” and “What are you going to study?”

Some students may say that they’re thinking about becoming a petroleum engineer, a software developer or a computer programmer. All those careers fall under the so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) umbrella. When those students earn their degrees, they’ll have little trouble finding well-paying work with long-term career potential.

A 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics report predicts that STEM jobs will grow 13 percent between 2012 and 2022, a pace exceeding the 11 percent growth rate of other occupations. If your teen has her sights set on becoming an information security analyst, recruiters will be lining up: Demand for workers who can fill that role is projected to grow by 37 percent by 2022. (more…)

Redefining S.M.A.R.T. Goals

chalkboard-smart-goalsMany of us have been taught about setting goals through the use of the SMART acronym. The theory is that in order to be successful in our pursuits, our goals must be:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Tangible (more…)

What you Appreciate Appreciates

The word “appreciation” has at least two important meanings and applications. In the world of finance, it refers to the increasing value of an asset. In the inner realm of thoughts and emotions, appreciation involves recognizing the value of and feeling gratitude for specific people, experiences, and circumstances.

In her book, The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life, Lynne Twist teaches that appreciative thinking is the opposite of scarcity thinking: “When your attention is on what’s lacking and scarce—in your life, in your work, in your family, in your town—then that becomes what you are about.” (more…)

The Art and Science of “Smarter” Spending

Although a number of studies have focused on the effect of income on happiness, Elizabeth Dunn, a social psychologist at the University of British Columbia, also wanted to understand the effect of spending choices on happiness.

For example, previous research clearly demonstrated that income has a predictably positive effect on level of happiness, but these levels remain flat over time even as income increases. This finding puzzled Dunn and she wanted to find out why happiness did not increase along with income. (more…)

Saying Yes to Your Priorities!

Bringing balance to a busy personal and professional life is challenging. In order to accomplish all that seems necessary, most people resolve to work harder and faster.

Therefore, individuals and families are increasingly experiencing a time crunch. The result is mounting stress and compromised health and vitality. And yet, despite their best efforts, many express frustration about not being able to bring tasks to completion, and having enough time to focus on what or who is most important to them. (more…)

Life Lessons: Embracing Vulnerability

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and has spent much of her career studying the complex human experiences of “vulnerability” and “living wholeheartedly.”

Her 2010 TED Talk presentation, “The Power of Vulnerability,” catapulted her into the international spotlight with a powerful message that literally resonated with millions.  In fact, it is among the top ten TED Talks viewed worldwide.  In addition, she is the author of the New York Times best seller, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. (more…)

Goals for Life: Your Circle of Caring

The first step to investing in your quality of life is to think about and clarify what is most important to you. This is a time to listen to your own heart and to focus on what you value most in life. Whatever you identify will become the foundation of your life goals.

As you think about your life in the future, it is also important to view your financial plan within a framework of your closest relationships. If you have a spouse or life partner, you will want to factor in his or her dreams and expectations as well as your own. In addition, you will want to take into consideration your responsibilities and your hopes for your children, parents, siblings and whoever you consider to be “family.” (more…)

Caught in the Middle

A growing number of individuals and couples are entering the ranks of the Sandwich Generation.  What they have in common is that they are “caught in the middle” between the competing needs and wants of their dependent children and aging parents.  In addition, they also need to consider and prepare for their own retirement years and potential long-term care needs.

For example, most members of the Sandwich Generation value higher education and feel compelled to provide that opportunity for their children.  Other “sandwichers” are pressed into service by providing financial resources to a divorcing adult child or helping raise a grandchild.  In addition, as life expectancy increases, their aging parents are likely to survive well into their 90’s and require monetary and caregiving assistance. (more…)