Take time to smell the roses…

I can’t believe my oldest daughter will be 8 years old next week.  To be exact, “nine days and counting,” as I was informed this morning by Alison.  And, if you want to get technical, she’s been counting down the days since she turned 7!

It’s like this every year.  Where to have their next birthday party is a major event to look forward to as a kid.  And, why not?  That’s how it should be when you’re a kid.  Because after all, you are a kid.  Now is the time to enjoy being young and carefree.  There will be plenty of time after your education to join in real life and all the responsibilities  that comes with it.

As a parent, it is our role to guide our children into mature, caring citizens.  We must thank teachers and other relatives and friends who also act as role models in our children’s lives.

It takes a village to raise a child.  I’d like to think that that child also aids in the value of your life as well.  Why not take some of their youth into your own life and drive with the windows down in your car and let your hair down?   Take a deep breath and kick back every once in a while.

Why is it that when you are young, you want to be older, and as you age, you want to be younger?  I know one thing holds true for all, take time and enjoy each day as best you can.  You’ll be a better person for it.

 

Andrea

 

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Performing Kids

My daughter was in her school’s Variety show just a couple of weeks ago.  It was a grand event.  I have to hand it to the parent volunteers, to put on an elementary school show as a true production is quite a feat.  Back in my day, us kids took to the stage in our cafeteria-gymnasium-auditorium and made sure to talk and sing loud for lack of any kind of microphone.   This show had full production value – lighting, wireless microphones, curtains, and even a playbill.  And the costumes were amazing!  I mean real costumes/ dancewear that can only be worn for a show.   My daughter’s group did a cute dance to a Pop Disney song.  They were all decked out in long shirts with lace ruffles, leggings, silver glitter shoes and shiny headbands.  It was a great performance.   As were the other 25 acts too.

It always amazes me about the young kids who are so devoted to performing and dancing.  They are so young yet mastering complicated dance moves.   I admire what that takes – – time –both the parent and child’s — devotion, and the ability to perform for multiple events.    And in today’s world, everyone can be a star via youtube or some other online venue.    The performances can live on forever and ever, which may be a good thing or may not be a good thing.   I have a video of my daughter posted on youtube when she was four and I can tell you she is quite embarrassed now when she sees it.   But I still love it!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azF4JZFAwkc

Out of the mouths of babes…

Last night when my husband, Doug, was tucking in our youngest daughter for bed, 5-year-old Lauren said, “Daddy, I can read the sign over my bed.  ‘Lauren’s Parking Only’.”

Doug: “That’s right!  That means that only Lauren sleeps in her bed.  Mommy and Daddy should get signs for over their bed too since Mommy and Daddy are the only ones who sleep in their bed.”

Lauren:  “Mommy should have her own sign that says ‘Mommy’s Parking Only’, and Daddy’s should say ‘Daddy’s Parking Only’. And, then in middle, it should say ‘Guest Parking’.”

Who can argue with that cuteness?  I guess she’ll be sleeping with us forever!


Giving From The Heart

In today’s economy, everyone is watching where they spend money.   However, while giving to charity may be lessened, the gift of giving still remains present.  With so many charities out there, choosing which charity to give to seems daunting.  My best advice – pick a charity that “speaks” to your heart.

When we first created triplethegift.com, we partnered up with Share Our Strength. Their vision “is to end hunger and poverty in the United States and abroad.”  Especially with Leisa and me being moms, we both agree that no child should grow up hungry.

I think that through your life, certain charities speak louder to you.  Depending on where you are in your life can determine what is most important to you at the time.  My favorite charity is The Compassionate Friends (TCF).  The mission of The Compassionate Friends “is to assist families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child of any age and to provide information to help others be supportive.”  Unfortunately, the way I learned about TCF was after my younger brother, Jon, passed away in May of 2009.  For me, being able to give back to this charity that has, and continues to be, a source of strength to me, is worth giving to.

One way that I am able to donate money is thru triplethegift.com.  For each event in my daughter’s life, I take a percentage of their gift and make a donation in memory of their  Uncle Jonny.  Whether it was a gift from their birthday, or the holidays, Alison & Lauren know that they are doing something to honor their Uncle, and make their mom proud in the process.

What charity is closest to your heart?  Is it to help a rescued animal, or donate money to Share Our Strength?  Whichever charity it is, there is no wrong way when giving from the heart.

-Andrea

My New Year’s Resolution… a little late

So it’s been a couple of weeks since the year 2011 began…. okay, 19 days.  I had planned to blog about my new year’s resolutions on the First but was caught up in the day-to-day stuff.  Isn’t it always that other stuff that keeps us distracted?  I am trying something new this year for 2011:  focusing on one thing at a time. That is my resolution.  You see, I’m a serial multi-tasker.  I am always doing two or three things at once.  But not this year.  I think multi-tasking is overrated.  It may feel like you are accomplishing a lot, but I’m unsure if the results prove that.   

The first weekend of the new year, I printed mailers for my clients; nothing else, just printing.  The second weekend of the new year I spent creating scrapbooks.  This weekend was one day of cleaning and rearranging furniture with my daughter and one day on the computer answering e-mails.  And that’s all I did.    I know, not very exciting — but a great feeling of accomplishment.   I will continue to load my dishwasher or fold laundry when I talk on the phone.  But that will be the extent of my multi-tasking. 

 Now triplethegift.com is the ultimate multi-tasker on its own!  It simplifies gift giving for your family and friends.  It provides a place for you to write details about your special occasion or event.  It tells your family & friends about what your child wants for their occasion.  It helps you with acknowledging the gifts.  It keeps all the information and gifts in one place.  Spend 5 minutes on our website, then add a line to your e-mail invitation or printed invitation with your registry number and that’s it!   A great use of your time and a great use of everyone else’s time. 

 Let’s cheer to efficiency in 2011! 

-Leisa S.

Ordering online – which one is for you?

Ordering online gifts is pretty commonplace in today’s world.  Not only is it convenient, but also eco-friendly.  While there are many online vendors to choose from, how does one go about picking the right one?

There are many factors that go into finding the right vendor for your purchase.  Most of the time, money plays a big part.  How much money do you want to spend on the gift?  Is shipping additional? Another factor is the guarantee of what you see online will actually be the product you want.

The great part of ordering online at http://www.triplethegift.com is the fact that you get what you pay for, because you decide how much you want to spend.  The unique twist to this online gift registry is that each gift is three gifts in one.  A percentage of your gift is divided three ways – contribution to your child’s college fund, a charitable donation, and a gift card.  It is easy to set up a registry – and it’s free!  Go online today to register your child’s special upcoming event.

 

The holiday season has begun – ready or not!

A friend of mine was shopping in a local department store this weekend and heard Christmas music.  Really?  We just got thru Halloween and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!  You know what that means, the holiday season has begun – ready or not!

According to the November 3rd Business Wire report from New York, “Though recent reports suggest retailers are optimistic about holiday sales and expect to see better year-over-year results, shoppers disagree and are planning to be more frugal than they were last year when it comes to holiday spending, according to a survey released today by global business-advisory firm AlixPartners LLP. The survey of U.S. consumers asked about their spending patterns over the past year and their plans for the upcoming holiday season. Notably, the survey found that consumers plan to spend an average of 8% less on holiday products and gifts than they did during last year’s holiday season.”

With increased online shopping in the forecast, I have  registered my daughters at triplethegift.com and will do so this year again.  I feel this is the best way to communicate with family and friends about what my girl’s want and need.   This way, my family and friends have stress-free gifting and can spend whatever they’d like.

Once I set up individual registries online for my daughters, I am able to e-mail my family and friends a link to their registries and our wish for gift giving through triplethegift.com.  As a result, my daughters are able to have money put away in their college funds, donate money to their favorite charity, and not be bombarded with too many toys.  My daughters love getting a gift card to go shopping for that perfect gift, and as an added bonus, they learn about the value of a dollar.

–Andrea

 

Holiday Shopping Season Begins Now!

I was listening to the news yesterday and I heard that some of the big retailers have officially started their Holiday sales as of this weekend.  The big start to the Holiday shopping season used to begin the Friday after Thanksgiving… not anymore!  I feel so desensitized to the “sales”.  Every weekend the multi-page advertisements are headlined “Lowest Price of the Season”.  How do you know if you are getting the best lowest price?  Do you buy early?  Do you buy later?  I don’t have an answer.  The only thing I have figured out is that sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas the traditional Board Games go on sale which I think is because the retailers feel like the games are too old-fashioned or not  popular enough.   That’s when I stock up!

The whole holiday shopping scene is frustrating to me.  I never know what to buy for anyone.  I look at my family and friends that I exchange with and everyone appears to have what they need [which is a good thing!].  So now my assignment becomes finding something original or unique – but with the caveat  not to break the bank.  If I do find something, I doubt my judgment.  What if they hate it?  What if they already have it?  What if they are allergic to it?  Needless to say, it’s a stressful time of year. 

For me, the Holidays are a time to get together with family and friends.  Just hanging out, enjoying good food and listening to great stories.  I like to think that a TripleTheGift.com registry can take some of the stress out of the gift giving process.  It can make all of that shopping stress disappear into thin air.  With my almost 8 year old and my 13 year old, the holiday list is made up of three digit dollar $$$ amount items:  think Apple, XBOX, American Girl Dolls….  That registry cash is looking good!

 –Leisa

Teaching Kids About Money

Now that my youngest has entered elementary school, I can finally breathe a little easier knowing both girls are on the same schedule.  At least during the school day!  However, with elementary school welcomes a lot of new friends.  Our once preschool small knit family has now morphed into double, even triple the amount of school friends in our lives.  I’m not complaining, I believe in social interaction amongst kids, but when it comes to birthday party planning, I need help!

Try telling your child he/she can only invite “x” number of friends to their party.  It can get out of control, and expensive! And, furthermore, I don’t’ even know the parents of these “new” friends/classmates!  So, what’s a mom to do?

I encountered this dilemma 2 years ago with my oldest daughter.   The solution:  registered Alison at triplethegift.com and was able to put her registry number and information on the invitation.  That way, the moms I didn’t know were able to look at the registry and see Alison’s gift choices.

Upon receiving college savings as well as donating money to her favorite charity, Alison was able to receive a gift card and purchase her own gift. Not only is she understanding the value of the dollar, but she also gets to pick out the gift of her choice.

As explained in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to a Well-Behaved Child, “kids need to know how the economy works. No, not stocks, interest rates, and world markets!  I mean the basic ins and outs of a family economy. You can start when your kids are very young by helping them understand the difference between needs and wants, that money comes from working, what money looks like, and that everybody has a job (a kid’s job is to learn things, to play, and to participate in the family). As they get older (once they know that a nickel is worth less than a dime, even though it’s larger), you can talk with them about credit cards, bank interest, and so on. Kids can learn about budgeting from the time they are about seven. Remember that a solid money education is one of the best tools you can give your kids—it will aid them the rest of their lives.“

-Andrea

Do you have a college savings plan for your children?

Hi, I’m Andrea, co-founder and Executive Director of triplethegift.com with Leisa & Jen.  As Leisa told you in the previous blog, I am a working mom who is always looking for the easiest way to handle gift giving.  One of the benefits of triplethegift.com is the saving for college part.  To be honest, it wasn’t until we created this registry that I started planning for my daughters’ college fund.  My girls are 7 and 5 year’s old and it’s never too late to start saving.  This was the motivation I needed to setting up each of their savings accounts.

There are so many college saving plans, also known as “529 Plans”,  out there.  Which one will most benefit my children?  Will my children be able to choose a college that is in state only where I live, or will the girls be able to use their fund at any state college nationwide?  Do I have to contribute monthly or annually?  All of this was foreign to me.

There are many good plans out there to choose from. Some have unique features which may interest you. After a lot of research on our end, we recommend the college savings plan offered by the State of Iowa, College Savings Iowa. There are many features of this plan that we believe are helpful to our triplethegift.com customers, especially the low amount of the deposit required to get started. Here’s what we like about the College Savings Iowa plan:

  • Enrollment is free; Just a $25 deposit is needed to get started.
  • You can open and manage your account online, takes just minutes.
  • You can invest as little as $25 each time you contribute.
  • Investment management services provided by well known, top rated Vanguard Investments.
  • Take advantage of Upromise rewards to grow your account balance.

By using a college savings plan, your choice of school is not affected by the state sponsoring your 529 savings plan. For example, you can be a Maryland resident, invest in a College Savings Iowa plan and send your child to a university in California.

Additionally, college savings plans are reported on the federal aid application as an asset of the parent (assuming the parent is the account owner which we recommend), not the child. Any distributions (withdrawals) from the plan that are used to pay for the child (beneficiary’s) education expenses are not counted as either parent or student income. Ultimately, there is little affect on receiving Financial Aid while having a huge upside of additional savings for your child at a time they will most need it.

Please note, triplethegift.com does not receive any commission for accounts opened with College Savings Iowa nor is triplethegift.com affiliated with College Savings Iowa. College Savings Iowa is a non-advisor plan.

Starting a college plan is easy to do!  Whichever college plan you set up or are currently enrolled in, knowing that triplethegift.com is there to help us with gift giving and providing for the future makes me a happy mom!