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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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!


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

 

Tuition Room & Board over $57,000 per year? Help!

Earlier this month, Forbes.com named Sarah Lawrence College in New York the most expensive school in America with tuition, room and board adding up to over $57,000 per year.   Wait, let me get my calculator…  $228,000 for a four-year education!  Yikes!  Okay, I know, that’s one end of the spectrum, BUT make no mistake, tuition, room and board, fees, books, personal expenses and travel to and from can easily be $50,000 per year for a student attending a private college.  How do you get to $200,000 of college savings by the time your child is 18?  $500 per month for 18 years straight (assuming a 7% annual return).  That’s like an extra car payment each month without the car.

Many of us do not start saving for college on day one.  We have mortgages, car payments, new furniture… lots of other obligations when the baby is born.  No matter how old your child is,  it’s never too late to start.  And despite whatever gloom and doom you hear about with the stock market or the economy, there is no such thing as a bad time to start.  Just do it!

There are many calculators on the web to figure out how much to save for college.  The calculator at http://www.savingforcollege.com/college-savings-calculator/ is really easy to use.

Once you figure out how much you need to invest, the next step is choosing how to invest.  I really like the 529 plans because of the tax benefits and the ease of use.  One of the big advantages with the 529 plans are the investment choices.   If you don’t want to be the investment manager, worrying day in and day out about the underlying investments, then you can choose an age based fund. The Fund Manager manages the fund based on the child’s age (or the expected year they will start college). So, if the target age is for a child 5 or under, the Fund Manager will invest with more aggressive investments. If the child is older, and closer to starting college, the Fund Manager will invest with more conservative investments. The beauty of the age based funds is that the manager re-allocates the fund each year into more conservative investments as the child gets closer to starting college. And, since their expertise is in investments, they decide when to make the strategic moves.

You can always use TripleTheGift to get started with your child’s college savings or to supplement what you already have.  Everyone can use a little extra.  Or what about for a new baby?  If your girlfriend is having her third child and really doesn’t need the furnishings and  accessories, think about how much she would appreciate a nice amount to start off that college savings account.   How about high school graduation?  Just because they are going off to college in a few months doesn’t mean they wouldn’t benefit from some additional savings.  Remember, there are four or more years of tuition payments and letting money grow for a couple of  years in a savings account is bound to help.  It’s like when you find a $20 bill in the winter coat you haven’t worn in a year; it feels good!

-Leisa S.

Welcome to the party TripleTheGift!

Hi, I’m Leisa, co-founder and CEO of triplethegift.com.  My other co-founders are my favorite (and only) sister Jen and my very good friend Andrea.  Andrea and I are both working mom’s looking for the “there has got to be a better way” solution.  We both work from home and we both are very involved in our children’s lives.  Life is complicated.  Everything takes three times as long to do when you have kids so we have to do things better.  With these thoughts in mind, we created TripleTheGift, an online gift registry for children.

When you have kids, very early on you realize that “the birthday party” is no ordinary event; it is similar to a wedding.  There is the theme, the party goods, the menu, the special invitations, the outfit, and of course, the perfect cake.  Because our kids start preschool at age 2, they have friends.  And there it begins – – a childhood full of parties.  So parties fall on the “complicated list” for Andrea and me.  If you have more than one child, it’s a multiple-times-per-year-complication.

I’m glad to report there has been significant progress over the last ten years (and I can vouch for that since my oldest is 13) in the party business.  Now, bowling alleys and gymnasiums and other similar places offer an “all inclusive” type of party where they include invitations, goody bags and sometimes even the food.  But what has not changed is the gifting process.

Take a typical conversation with invited guest (another mom or a family member):

Question: “What does your child like?”

Answer: “Everything” or “Nothing under $50”.

Question:  “What does your child need?”

Answer: “Nothing, mom/dad/grandparents buys them everything they need” or, “Nothing, they have too much stuff!”

The end result?  What us moms end up doing…

  1. Uh oh, totally forgot about the party and thinks where can I go in a two-mile radius and buy a gift?
  2. I’ll go stock up on gifts from the local discount store.  The toys either contain 1000+ pieces smaller than a pea or crafts that take an engineer to build but at least I have an inventory when I get an invitation.
  3. A gift card because everyone shops at this store.
  4. Cold hard cash … because there is always an ATM in close proximity to the party.

Enter TripleTheGift, the online gift registry we created!! So Andrea and I, the two moms, of the business, said to each other “Let’s make this part of our lives easier.”  What if we could take away all the stress that comes along with gift giving for kids?  And it happens on both sides – – what to get the niece, the nephew, the neighbors’ kid OR to answering what our kids want or need to “please don’t bring another stuffed animal-lego-puzzle-etc into my house…”

So what could we all use???

  • Money.   Gotta have it, Gotta love it!
  • College Savings.   Who is on top of this?  Really?  Even the financial side of me can’t get enough into that savings account.
  • Charity.   Even though we want and we need, we are most definitely more fortunate than others and wouldn’t mind sharing with a good cause.

Three gifts.  Simple.

We tell family and friends that the kids are registered at triplethegift.com.  They look up the registry on the website and in less than 5 minutes, make a gift of whatever dollar amount they want.  The kid gets three gifts –a gift card to purchase that perfect gift, a contribution to their college savings plan, and a donation to a charity of their choice on their behalf.

It’s stress free; no worries on either side; no driving to the mall or to the post office.  It fits into our solution to “there has got to be a better way”.   Make it fit into yours!

I hope this gives you some insight into our make-it-better-less-complicated way of thinking.  Lots more to come!