6 Tips You Need to Conquer College Finances

6 Tips You Need to Conquer College Finances

Have a Senior?

We do!  My husband and I just worked on budgeting college finances for our second son.  I scribbled all over a piece of notebook paper, but I have a nicer tool for you to download below!  We went through this same process two years ago with our oldest, so we have a little bit of experience knowing what a student really needs AND what things really cost.

This is an exciting time for high school seniors and their families. For us parents, it is SO bittersweet.  We are happy and proud of them, but on the other hand, we are so sad that this era is soon to be over.  Whether it’s your first to go or your last, the mixed feelings are still the same.  Although I cannot imagine how much MORE sad I will be when it’s our final time. Thank goodness that is a few years down the road.  (*affiliate links below)

Tip #1

The time to do your figuring is now!  If your student hasn’t yet decided on a school, then crunch the numbers on their different choices.  This may help you to help steer them in a different direction.  College is unbelievably expensive no matter what, but especially if you have an average student who qualified for little to no merit aid.  Every college will have a Net Price Calculator.  This will help you to see the actual cost of that particular school, so look for that tab on each school’s website.

When you fill out the FAFSA, you will be given an EFC-estimated family contribution.  You should fill this out by the way. This is the amount that the government thinks you should be able to spend on your child’s college education.  Don’t get me started on how ridiculous this number is!  I will say that my son received money from his college just for filling out the FAFSA!

Ann’s friend in the Office for Student Financial Affairs-Division of Enrollment Management says, “Merit based scholarships are based on ACT/SAT scores and/or GPA and do not usually require the FAFSA.  Some colleges automatically award freshman admission scholarships and then require students to complete an application for the school and colleges’ scholarships (Engineering, Business, etc.).  Private colleges can have additional applications for students to complete.  There are colleges that require students to complete the CSS Profile along with the FAFSA.”   

Her best advice for high school students is…”to contact every school they are interested in to make sure they complete all the necessary admission, scholarship and financial aid applications before the deadlines.  Students should begin college visits and contacting the colleges their junior year of high school.

I wrote about talking budget with your college-bound senior.  This time the budget is for you parents.  Sit down with a pencil in hand, and a calculator, and your significant other if there is one.  Write down all the expenses that you know of.  Tuition, housing, dining plan, books, transportation costs, insurance etc.  (see budget tool below!)  This is a daunting task, but it needs to be done.

[A budgeting tool for 4 years of college (COA-Cost of Attendence). Fill out for each school your student is thinking about attending.]

How Much Should We Have Saved?

A general guideline is to save $2000 times(x) the child’s age.  This might get you to half of what will truly be needed.  For instance, if you have saved $2000/year for your 17 year old, then you would have $34,000.  This will not be enough, unfortunately. 

Below, see an example of a COA for the University of Missouri based on one in-state student, parent’s income of $99,999, and wanting to live on campus.  (I just did this for this post, so not sure why their program is still saying 2015-2016!)

Estimated Cost of Attendance for a year at the University of Missouri.

For the past 10 years, “tuition (for college) has risen at more than double the rate of inflation,” according to CNBC.  An average yearly budget for an in-state public college today is $25,290.  An average budget for a private college is currently $50,900 per year, and that’s not even a high-end average.  This budget typically will include tuition, fees, housing and meals, books, school supplies, and finally, personal and transportation expenses.

Tip #2

If you have kids in middle school, start the conversation now.  High school was too late we realized with our oldest.  So, we started in middle school with our number two child.  I think it has helped him to feel like we are all part of a team with these decisions which affect his future.  Honestly, we have started talking with our 7th grader about these types of things now.  He isn’t crazy about school, but we have pointed out to him that the better his grades, the more choices will be available later on down the road for him-which is a whole other blog post!

 So Now What?

Our kids need our help so that their future starts off without debt, or with as little debt as possible.  Your kids need to be working to save for their spending money while off at college.  Read the following staggering quote…

Since 1993, income for people 18-35 has gone from $36,000 to $33,000. It’s the first time EVER that income has gone down over such a long period (more than a year). This means: relying on college, a job, stability, retirement pension, retirement income=thing of the past. It doesn’t exist anymore. And that’s scary.”  James Altucher, The Altucher Report, Blog 10-28-16

Tip #3

The whole responsibility for college finances is on the team of parent and child.  We have saved what we could (after paying for my husband’s school debt), and divided it by 3 (we have 3 kids). The boys are responsible for the rest.  What this means for them is working for spending money, getting good grades, etc. for merit-based scholarship money, and being realistic in their college searches.  If there is still not enough money for where they would like to go, then they will have to get student loans, which we hope that they can avoid.

If you have enough saved and/or your child has earned merit scholarships enough to cover the cost of college, then your child is set.  However, if you have not got enough saved and/or your child has not earned enough or any merit-based scholarship money, then you have some decisions to make.  (Be sure that your student understands that in many, if not most situations, a certain GPA must be maintained to keep those scholarships which are awarded yearly beginning freshman year!)


 

Tell the Truth

How much you have saved or not…  How much their loan total will need to be…  How much they will possibly be making at an entry-level job at graduation–if they get one right away…  How much their loan payment will probably be a month…  How much everything else will cost…

Tip #4

Be honest with your child.  If you cannot afford the college of their choice, then you need to tell them.  My husband and I have had numerous conversations with our boys about all of this.  It gets easier each time, I promise!  It’s not easy to tell your kids that there are limits, but these conversations have made us into a stronger team as a family.  And, even though some of the information we have discussed meant a different plan for each of them, it’s been neat to see them grow and figure out what it means, or will mean, to their future.

This is not the time to shelter them.  You have raised them.  It is time to set them free.  But, don’t hide the truth from them.  It isn’t fair to them now or later if you aren’t truthful.

What To Do

If they persist in their college of choice which is out of your price range, then they will need to apply for student loans.  This is something which they should do on their own.  However, don’t just let them do this and leave it at that.  Help them with the math.  Below is a sample of the chart I drew for our conversation the other night.

Hand drawn chart for figuring out the cost of college for 4 years.

Tip #5

Figure out how much they will need to borrow and find out the interest rate.  Multiply this over the four years that they will be borrowing, and show them the total amount it will be after those 4 years including the interest.  (If the loans are unsubsidized there will be interest accruing throughout college.  If subsidized, then the interest is deferred.)

Next, find out approximately how much they would earn at graduation in the degree of their choice–if they are hired right out of college.  Then discuss the cost of living.  Include the cost of rent, groceries, insurances, cell phone, as well as money for giving the occasional gift, a meal out, and other expenses.

Now, the BIG question is this…  Can they really afford the college of their choice?  Will they make enough to cover their student loan and be able to have a life?

This is not the time to let them “figure it out” on their own!  Help them to see that this is a financial decision that could be affecting them for years to come.

FACTS from Student Loan Hero:

$1.48 trillion in US student loan debt

44.2 million Americans with student loan debt

Average monthly student loan debt payment $351 (for a borrower 20-30 years old)

The average loan amount at graduation for the grads of 2016 was $37,172, that was up 6% from the year before!  This is a staggering amount, and many graduates are surprised upon graduation by this figure.  I believe this is because no one ever explained to them the concept of interest or conveyed the true extent of the debt that they were borrowing.  They also probably have no idea of the cost of the real world because before college they were still living at home!

One more cost to think about is the cost for applications and visits.  Check out this blog post by Grown and Flown related to that.

Make a Plan

Give them some strategies to deal with future debt so that a solution can be found.  Working through college is probably a good idea no matter what.  A job will help them with time management, as well as give them some spending money.  This means that neither you or your student will have to spend on that expense in the meantime.  Work out a payment plan for the loans during college.  This will help with the final amount borrowed at graduation.  Just because the loan is in their name doesn’t mean that you cannot help with it.  Work out a plan together.

If you have more than one child, what will be fair to them all?  Can you help now?  Or maybe later, after they have all gone through school?  Decide what you can and will be able to do.  It is okay if you cannot or will not help.  You have your reasons and your own finances to worry about.  But, again, be honest and upfront about your decision.

This is an exciting time, but it can be stressful.  I hear from friends that their kids won’t listen to them when trying to have this conversation.  Make a date with your child with the understanding that this is a conversation that you need to have.

Tip #6

Most learners are visual.  Figure out ahead of time which type of learner your child is, and gear your conversation in the direction that they learn best.  Use visuals.  Watch a video.  Do your homework, so that you can present the full picture.  If there is an adult in your child’s life whom they respect or will listen to better than you, then invite this person to participate.  (Of course, let them know ahead of time what the conversation will be about, and ways that they could be helpful.)

We have done this twice now, and it has been very different each time.  We have to do it once more.  I am sure it too will be different because all 3 of our boys are unique.  It’s not been easy, but it’s been really nice to be on the same page, and to work together towards their education!

Good luck!

If the first conversation doesn’t go well, try again.  It is not really a one conversation topic anyway.  Let us know how it goes for you, and what works–or doesn’t!


How to Plan a Budget with Your College-Bound Teen

How to Plan a Budget with Your College-Bound Teen

Do you have a senior in high school who’s thinking about college?

We do, and I am so glad that I have been here before so that I know what to expect!  The biggest concern for us, and many others will be all of the expenses.  Here are some things that we learned the first time around, as well as some things that I wish we had known.  *affiliate links are used below

Make sure that you and your senior are on the same page about all expenses.

There are the expenses that you know about.  There will always also be some things that come up unexpectedly; those can be dealt with as they occur.

Living expenses are a big deal.

Where will your student live?  There will be choices for housing from the actual dorms to the types of rooms.  Will they have a roommate?  Will you pay for the items that they decorate their room with or will they be expected to pay for some?  Is there a set amount you are willing to spend for this?  Also included in these type of expenses are the meal plans. Look at all of the choices and let your student know which of these is the one you are willing to pay for.  These types of expenses can be crazy expensive even with you setting limits.

Tuition and books are the other biggie.

Tuition costs are set per hour.  Your student will need books.  These can be rented or shared to save on the cost.  Another way to save is to check out the library- many schools have their textbooks available there for students to use. There are many websites that rent, including Amazon, which has worked well for both renting and purchasing for my oldest son.

Shop Amazon – Rent Textbooks – Save up to 80%


Day to day expenses for your student should be a topic for discussion.

This would be for things like a meal off of campus, personal grooming items or school supplies that run out, and new clothing or shoes.  What will you be willing to spend on these types of items?  What will you expect your student to spend of their own money, if any?

This is a good time to start planning that budget for next year.

What do you spend now on your kid for day-to-day expenses?  Does your child have a job?  Should they get one?  Are you planning on them working in college for their extra expenses?  Either way, you need to figure out what the budget will be.

There are many ways of working this out with your kids.  For our boys, we pay for school, housing with a meal plan, and books.  Anything, else is on them such as meals off of campus, fraternity, and clothes.  This means that they have worked since they were 15 during summers, and part time during school each year for their spending money.

Our oldest son was able to get a great scholarship package for his grades, ACT, BSA Eagle and Boy’s State.  We aren’t really spending much on him at all.  Our second son will have a different situation, but we have already talked with him at length about this, and he knows what the budgeted amount will be.  He will be utilizing the A+ program which I describe below.

Our state (Missouri) has a great program called the A+ Program.  If a student shows good citizenship, has the required attendance, the required GPA, and with teacher supervision tutors a peer for at least 50 hours, then they graduate with A+ requirements on their record.  (There are a few other items on the list, but these are the main ones.)  This is a great help for getting community college, and hopefully an Associate’s Degree, basically for free-except for books!  The specifics are in the link above.  You should check with your school to see about any type of program such as this for a student who does not excel in school or on standardized tests.

Discuss ALL of these expenses with as much information that you can find.

This means looking at the college website.  Open all tabs on the website pertaining to costs and scholarships.  (Look for all of the fees!  There are things like parking fees, technology fees, health insurance fees…)  Be open about what you as parents are thinking is a reasonable budget.  Be open to questions from your child.  This is a time to work together to figure out these things.  Don’t wait until they have gone to college.  This would be too late for any type of agreement since they would already be gone.  Neither side should have to assume anything!  You know what your budget is, so tell your child up front.  Your child may have some expectations as well.  This is the time to lay it all out on the table.

Some sample expenses for freshman year could be:  car payment and insurance, gas, cell phone, fun money for going out, groceries (for dorm room, also toiletries as they run out), clothing, student loan payments, credit card…  What is your child responsible for now?  Will it be the same when they are gone at college?  If you would like it to be different than what it is now, then now is the time to change things!

Check out our budget planner for you and your soon-to-be college student to fill out together.

All things considered, starting these discussions sooner than later is best.  This can be a fun time to figure things out together, and to make decisions as a team.

Good luck to you all!  Let us know how this goes for you!

 

 

 

 

Give Yourselves The 4:15 Gift

Give Yourselves The 4:15 Gift

Hello friends!

I just woke up from a long winter’s nap with you all on my mind.  I wanted to give you all a gift.  A gift from Ann and me.  Actually, I want you to give yourselves a gift, the gift of self-care.  Here are the thoughts from my head on this eve of Christmas eve.

First, give yourselves the gift of REST.

We moms have a tendency to be the first up and the last to bed because we see it all, know it all, and seem to be the only ones who can get the most accomplished in our waking hours. But, here’s the news.  None of it is going anywhere!  Do what you can, delegate what you can, and leave the rest for tomorrow.  None of us is getting enough sleep.  Not brand new mamas, not mamas of teenagers, and not even grandmamas.  I know my mom still says that she has to tell herself to go take a shower and go to bed!  She hasn’t had a child in her house since 1985!

So, put yourself to bed at a decent time.  Take a nap if you can–my friends all know that I am a huge proponent for napping!  If you have time for a nap, then take one.  I have figured out the perfect amount of time for my naps-with lots of research involved;)  Do your research, and figure out what works for you.

So, that leads me to the gift of 4:15.

You ask what is that?  Well, let me tell you!  This is what woke me up from my sleep early this morning!

Most, it not all of us, work full time at something:  a job outside the home, raising our kids either at home or in addition to an outside job, a combination of part time jobs (which in many cases adds up to more hours than a regular job!).  You name it, we are workers!  So, let me tell you about the 4:15 rule.

1:15-QUIET TIME

When you first wake up, give yourself the gift of 15 minutes of peace and quiet.  This time is yours to spend doing something that will fill you for the day.  Prayer, meditation, yoga, staring into space, these all fit the bill.  For me, it’s to start my coffee, read my bible, and pray.  Find a great devotion book, and follow that for awhile.  I’m kind of all over the place.  There is no one way or right way!  It’s your time, fill it with what fills you!  Your time can be whatever you want it to be.  Just 15 minutes–for YOU!

2:15-EXERCISE

Here’s another 15 minute block that you need to carve into your day.  Somewhere, anywhere that works for you.  It might be over your lunch.  It might be right after your quiet time-that is what works best for me!  It might be right after work, or even right after you get the last kiddo settled for the night.  Whatever works for you.

Find some kind of exercise that works for you and try to work up a sweat in 15 minutes.  If you want to add more time to this, then great, but minimum 15 minutes.  This is a minimum amount of time for your best health, so aim for more on the days that you can, but know that 15 minutes of some kind of vigorous activity is to your benefit.  I love jumping on my mini-tramp or taking a quick walk around the block on my busy days.  What is your go-to for exercising quick?

3:15-ZONE WORK

What?!! If you have never heard of Flylady, then you’re in for a treat.  (Confession:  I signed up for her newsletters, and got overwhelmed!  I like her ideas, and have taken them to heart, but I don’t need one more thing in my inbox.  So, I cleaned her out of there–but, I still love her ideas.)

Pick a zone (think:  room or area, such as your master bedroom).  Then, for 15 minutes attack it.  It can be just one pile that is bothering you, or just the area in general.  You get to decide what needs doing.  Set a timer, and get to work.  If you don’t finish today, pick that same zone tomorrow–it’s not going anywhere!

By doing this one pile, one cabinet, one shelf, one area at a time, you will eventually get through the house.  Not today or tomorrow, but sometime!  I love this because it’s doable.  If I have more than 15 minutes, then I set the timer for the amount of time that I have and really work until it beeps at me.  You will be surprised by how much you can actually get accomplished in those 15 minute blocks of time if you really focus!  Good luck, and let me know if this works for you!

4:15-PLAN

Your day is done.  You are ready for bed.  This is the last 15 minute block to plan into your day.  Look at your calendar for tomorrow and the rest of the week.  Make a list of where you need to be, and what you might need at the store.  Make note of any calls that you need to make.  Check the weather, and start thinking about what you might wear the next day.  Pack your lunch for tomorrow, so that you are not scrambling in the morning.  Basically, you are taking 15 minutes to get your day started off right for tomorrow.

When I don’t take the time to do this, I regret it every time!  This helps your tomorrow so much!  Try it and see if this helps at all.  If you just take the time to think things through, then a lot of morning stress is eliminated.  And, who doesn’t like that?!

Finally, the gift of GRACE

Many times, as moms, we are very hard on ourselves.  We try to do everything for everyone, and forget about self care.  This isn’t healthy or right.  We are the hub of the family.  That is not to say that our husbands are not as important!  But, we as moms pretty much keep track of all things needing to be done, and have a finger on the pulse of each individual in our homes.  In order to keep up with all of this, then we need to take better care of our own selves.

Give yourself these 4 fifteen minute blocks to do what needs doing–for you!  These blocks of time-only ONE hour-of your day, will help improve your life so much!

Take care and know that Ann and I are thinking of you all and cannot wait to hear if any of this works for you all!  Do you have any good ideas that go along with this?  Please share!  We all need to look out for one another:)


7  Helpful Ways to Help Your Student Finish the Semester Strong

7 Helpful Ways to Help Your Student Finish the Semester Strong

Help your Student Finish the Semester Strong

Right now our students are super stressed with school.  Whether they are in high school or college, doesn’t matter, they are maxed out.  Now if your middle schooler is anything like mine, he’s just stressed out about having to get up and actually go to school (insert rolling eyes).

So, what can we do as parents to help our kids through this crazy time of year?  Here are a few ideas…  (affiliate links are used below, please see disclosure page)

 

Be positive!

Encouragement is helpful, and can go a long way towards your child keeping on with their work.  I find that If I nag, then we get into a fight, and that goes nowhere fast.  So, the next time your grouchy teen snaps at you, take a deep breath, count to 10 (or 50 or 100), and respond in a non-snappy way.  I know, easier said than done, because I am the queen of snapping!  Hang in there, deal with the current situation, then go open a nice bottle of red!

 Ask what you can do to help.

Maybe, for now, you could expect less from them around the house so that they aren’t having to deal with as much for the moment.  Stock their favorite snacks in the pantry and fridge for easy access.  My boys like me to even serve them in their rooms on a tray–I try to get seasonal party plates and cups for cookies, cheese and crackers or any other goodies.  This is the only time that I do this, so it’s fun to order things that I wouldn’t normally have in the house.

Know their schedule.

Send quick texts if your kids are away at school at times you know they would be between classes.  Send them a card or care package, healthy and not so healthy, to ease the pain of studying.  They LOVE this!  If they are still at home, planing a snack or meal when you know they have time for a break will go a long way towards a more energized student.  I know my boys tend towards hangry when studying and stressed, so keeping them fed is almost a full time job:)

Make them take a break every now and then.

Everyone needs a break.  I know one of my boys would never think to take a break, and would get mad if I even suggested it.  But, make this happen occasionally, and they might just thank you later.  Watch a favorite episode or movie.  Bake a batch of cookies together.  Run up to their favorite fast food joint together and let them order what they want.  Even just giving a quick hug or high five can be all the affirmation that they might need.  Any of these activities would be great for getting their mind off of school just for a while.  Then they can go back to work refreshed.

 

Post a sticky note.

Put it on their bathroom mirror or on their desk with a motivational quote or verse.  My boys have often left these for months because they knew I was thinking of them!

if your kiddo is away, even out of college and in a stressful period with maybe a first job, you can do something similar.  Send them a card with some encouraging words.  It is always so fun to actually get snail mail, and I bet they keep it!

I still have a silly card my dad sent me when I was in college during some stressful period-probably finals.  I love the fact that my dad took the time to write it (even though he mentions that my mom told him to!) It meant the world to me!

 

Make them breakfast.

This seems like a no brainer, but a lot of kids skip this meal.  I fix breakfast during the week for my boys for that reason alone.  If you aren’t in this habit, make the time to until finals are over.  Feed their bodies and their brains. Cooking is the way I show my love to my family.  I love to cook, and it makes my heart happy to feed everyone. If you’re not into cooking, then maybe put out some easy snack food for your teens before bed so that it’s there in the morning to grab as they run out the door.  They will know you’ve thought of them and maybe they’ll eat a little something–bonus!  (BTW-my boys are all great cooks, I just like to start my day with them in the kitchen during the week.)

Give them grace.

They will be tired and most likely grouchy during this time.  Encourage them to get enough sleep.  Make sure they are eating enough of the right things.  Let them know you love them.  Be patient.

This too shall pass.  Every finals season, I feel like I’m taking them too because the stress is almost contagious!!  Deal with it a minute at a time, then go hide in your room with your latest Netflix binge!

Hang in there, mamas, you got this!  Go give your kid a hug:)

Do you have any strategies that have worked for you during this time of year?  Please share!

 

Budget Friendly Ideas for the Holidays!

Budget Friendly Ideas for the Holidays!

Are You Ready to do More with Less this Holiday Season?

There are many ways to celebrate the Holidays.  I tell myself every year I’m going to save up or shop early and it never fails, life intervenes and my budget is shot.  Sound familiar?  Here we are just 2 months out. There is still time to plan!  I’ve have been searching the internet and asking friends for ideas on ways that they spend their holidays, and surprisingly, most of their favorite gifts don’t cost anything, or at least not much. (note: there are affiliate links in this post to help support our blog)

Here Are Some Low Budget Suggestions

The 4 Gift Rule

low budget gift giving, holidays

small holiday package

I’m sure many of you have heard of the 4 Gift Rule.  It goes like this.  You tell your family that they will each receive 4 gifts this year: something they NEED, something they WANT, something to WEAR, and something to READ.  If you don’t want to do just 4 gifts. You can do variations and/or additions to this rule which can be:  a gift to MAKE, a gift to EAT, and ONE more thing.  Of course, any variation of this is great! The 4 Gift Rule can really help your budget and also help your child focus on what’s important and what they really want.

My family had our own gift giving tradition.  Since there were 3 Wise Men that visited baby Jesus, that meant that there were 3 gifts.  Our boys each received 3 gifts for Christmas while they were growing up from both us and Santa.  Now, obviously, the gifts are just from us, no more Santa.  This is/was great because it really limits the amount of shopping that we have to do.  We also love to do lots of inexpensive and fun little items for each stocking which I look for all year long.  


Give to Charities

Another option for giving gifts, would be to look outside of the home to the many charities out there that do great things all over the world.  Charities can be local, national, or international.  Some great organizations to look into would be:  Heifer International, Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child box, Operation Gratitude for soldiers overseas, Angel Tree which gives gifts to children whose parents are in prison, or your local food bank.

“No Money” Gifts

low budget holiday gifts

Holiday Baking

 

There are many “no money” gift ideas.  These include things that your kids can make or ways to spend time with them which is already a great gift!  I’ve listed some ideas below but I am sure that you could come up with some on your own, once I get you started…

 

  1. Bake holiday cookies,  (this is a link to some yummy recipes!) –preferably ones that you can decorate because that is so much more fun!  Take some to an elderly neighbor or a teacher.

2.  Create a scavenger hunt around the house, neighborhood or city. Invite friends and have a friendly competition. Then meet for dinner at a favorite local restaurant and give out prizes for the most original treasures that were found.

3.  Make hot chocolate and head out to see the local Christmas lights.

4.  Pop in a holiday movie and string popcorn and cranberries for your tree.



5.  Have a family game night with your favorite carols playing in the background.

6.  Start a holiday journal.  Keep track of things your family is grateful for, traditions that you celebrate each year and new ones that you would like to start.

7.  Send a handwritten letter to someone far away by snail mail.  Tell them your favorite memory that you have with them or something that makes them special to you.



Does this put you in the mood for Christmas?  It is a little early, but sometimes with a little planning and thought, the actual season might be a little more relaxing and enjoyable.  We hope that some of these ideas help you in the coming months.  We are working on our gift guides and will post soon!

Let us know if your family has any holiday traditions that we should try!

6 Books You Should Read if You’re the Parent of a Teenager

6 Books You Should Read if You’re the Parent of a Teenager

6 Books To Read When Raising Teenagers, In No Particular Order

I was thinking the other day about all the information in my head about raising kids, teenagers in particular. I am a such a reader, that it is really hard to pin down my favorites, because I rarely meet a book that I don’t like.  We are all looking for answers, strategies, and ideas to try.  I tried to think about where I have looked over the years to help us when we were frustrated or upset, or just needing a few pointers.  When it comes to parenting, here are 6 of my favorite go-to books. (*affliate links are included in this post.)

1) Teen-Proofing Fostering Responsible Decision Making in Your Teenager I have to say that John Rosemond is my parenting mentor, guru, go-to guy!!!!!!!  I have every single book of his, or did have, because I have loaned out some and never got them back!  He is amazing.  No nonsense, but loving strategies that work.  He terms himself as a parent, as someone who uses “grandma’s law”.  I love him!

If you have toddlers, then Making the Terrible Twos Terrific was awesome, that’s the first book of his that I read.  I have recommended it hundreds of times to personal friends and families that I have come into contact as a preschool teacher.  

Teen-Proofing research was begun by him as a parent of teenagers himself years ago.  This is a great book to refer back to again and again, as are all of his books.  “Managing teens so they make self-protective rather than self-destructive decisions is teen-proofing.”  The book is full of real world examples that are simple to implement.  

2) This was a book that I had to read back when I was still teaching, long before I had my own kids, let alone teenagers, but it was so good that I held onto it.  On the back of the book, the blurb says, “…Dr. Seligman explains how to break an “I-give-up’ habit, develop a more constructive explanatory style for interpreting your behavior, and experience the benefits of a more positive interior dialogue.  These skills can help break up depression, boost your immune system, better develop your potential, and make you happier.”  Huh!  That’s a big mouthful, but really it means that you can learn how to talk to yourself in a more  positive way.  I had to read it, so I did.  It’s a bit text booky, but really interesting.  So, I do recommend it because it gives real life examples and you really can use the information to change your life for the better, which in turn will help your kids, your marriage, really all aspects of your life.  It truly might save someone’s life with some of these strategies.

 3) The Optimistic Child is a sequel to Seligman’s first book with children specifically in mind.  It shows the relationship between what children think and how it affects their lives.  “This book shows that learning the skills of optimism not only reduces the risk of depression in children but also boosts school performance improves physical health, and provides them with the self-reliance they need as they approach the teenage years and adulthood.”  

Again, a bit text booky, but so applicable!  I have tried to use many of the strategies with my kids in conversations over the years.  As I am skimming through to write this post, I am amazed at all the strategies that I could still use, and thinking maybe I will reread a chapter or two!  You can teach your child how to talk to him or herself in their heads.  It is amazing how negative we can be to our own selves.  This book and his first show how this is a skill that can be taught (and learned!)  both for adults and kids.  Try it:)

 

4)  The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch  Ok, this is a gem.  Pausch wrote this as a “last lecture” which many professors are asked to do imagining that it is the end of their life and wanting to share a great lesson.  He actually was dying, and it truly was his last lecture.  But, it wasn’t about dying.  His lecture and the book are all about LIVING.  I have read snippets and chapters out loud to my kids at bedtime, in the car on trips, in the middle of a teenage drama scene in our own house…  His words are great, and not to be forgotten.  Life is too short, so get busy!

 

 

5)  Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement This book is hilarious.  It is the journal of Wyma’s year of working with her family to get back to the real world.  She has a great writing voice, and I loved everything she had to say.  She breaks down each month’s goal into bite-sized chunks, gives advice to the reader about the ups and downs of living through this experience.

She has a blog called The MOAT blog www.themoatblog.com  (MOAT stands for A Mother of Adolescents and Teens) which I recommend.  She did a bootcamp this past summer with her Cleaning House goals in mind.  

I have 3 boys, and the last thing that I want a future daughter-in-law to say to me is that my son doesn’t know how to help around the house.  All of my boys know how to cook and clean, among other things.  It was nice to read her book for affirmation that I am not the only “mean mom” around!

6) the Homework Hassle John Rosemond  I told you that I was crazy about this guy!  This is again a book that we have gone back to again and again over the years.  Such practical and user friendly advice.  We have used many of his strategies, and I will have to say ALL have worked.  His advice is the type that you do a headslap and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”  

I’m a teacher, and I wish that I had known about this guy back when I was in my 4th grade classroom.  The main thing that I like about this book is that it helps the parent move the child to independence at school which leads to more success at school.  

Okay, so that is my list for your reading pleasure.  I always like to have a parenting book with me as well as a book for pleasure.  Actually, I’m such a book nerd, that I love these non-fiction parent-help books just as much, maybe even more than some fiction because they are so helpful.  It’s always good to feel smarter at the end of the day.  

Good luck, and let us know if you have any parenting books that you would recommend!