money talk
Words like “budget”, “bills”, or “expenses” can instantly rise the stress level in some marriages, but the common family spends and receives money on a weekly if not daily basis, so the more communication about it, the better. Here are some helpful tips on how to get on the same page with your fellow significant consumer (err…other) in your life!

Recognize Each Other’s Strengths

Recently my wife said no to an impulse buy she’d been eyeing. Sometimes it’s possible to spoil, but other times I have to remember the bills and expenses and have to say no. My wife does a terrific job at watching what she buys. Instead of just noticing, I’ve found it helpful to praise her for such self control. As a mother of toddlers, she needs to shop quite a bit. This means giving her trust with our finances and it means me taking the time to acknowledge and thank her for handling our budget well. If your spouse is particularly gifted in a financial area, acknowledge it! Don’t let strengths go unnoticed. This will help as you both plan and prepare for financial goals.
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work anywhere
Can you live anywhere you want? Do you have a job that allows you to earn money, no matter where you are?

We hear a lot about location independence today. We like the idea of being able to live where we want — or to be a digital nomad, going where the mood takes us.

But what does location independence really mean? And can you simply pack up and leave because you feel like it?

Location Independence

Much of the time, we think about location independence as being able to work from anywhere. You have a job that doesn’t require you to stay in one place. I have a location independent job by those standards. I’m a writer; I can live anywhere and still make a living.
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wing of plane
I worked as an analyst for a Fortune 500 company years ago. My job was basically to help banks become as profitable as possible. We used proprietary software (best of its kind, thank you) to maximize the profitability of each customer. Part of my job was to travel around the United States training bankers how to use the product.

Travel was part of the reason I took the job. Though, of course, the job comes first, but why can’t a person enjoy both work and travel? This post will tell you what I did to turn business trips into vacations. And I’m not writing this post merely for a catchy headline either, because the strategies are clever (if I may say so myself!).

Note: Business ALWAYS comes first, but traveling for work is largely about building relationships. And what better way to bond with clients than doing fun things with them? Let’s get started:
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plant in gapLong before high school seniors fret about those caps and gowns in the next few months, they’ve been thinking about the next step. Students are encouraged to go to college fresh out of high school, with recruiters, parents, counselors ad advisors hounding them to decide which colleges and courses of study they’ll pursue as early as their Junior year. But is it always a good idea to go to college right away? What are the possible risks students face if they take a year off, and what are the potential benefits?

To even consider the idea, you’ll have to get past the biggest perceived dangers:

  • Lack of productivity
  • Loss of momentum and the risk of never going, at all
  • Decreased chance of getting into a desirable university

The term ‘gap year’ evokes images of a terrifying stereotype: teens who live at home, jobless, watching Netflix all day and ordering takeout. Is this the reality for most who take a break between high school and college? According to the American Gap Association (AGA) and other advocates, it doesn’t have to be. A gap year is ideally a structured, purposely time for students to work, volunteer, and engage in many experiences beyond the scope of the classroom.
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healthy lunch
I am volunteering one day a week as a lunch room helper at my kids’ elementary school this school year. After a few weeks, I can share these observations with my fellow parents:

  • After a morning spent sitting still and paying attention, most kids would rather talk than eat. This is especially true of the younger children (the older ones are better at multitasking!)
  • The lunch period passes quickly! Getting the children to and from the lunchroom takes quite a bit of time. If you’re at the end of the line, you’ll have to be fast to eat all of your food.
  • A lot of food is thrown away. Not just the purchased school lunches, but entire sandwiches, pieces of fruit and other sides. Not surprisingly, the less healthy choices tend to be eaten first.

Seeing this has changed the way I pack my children’s lunches. Like most parents, my goal is to send my children to lunch with a healthy meal that is also easy on the family budget. Here are a few of my best tips:
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family walking on the beach
As a parent, it’s my responsibility to create memories for my little ones. That means getting off the couch, putting my smartphone away, and giving my children experiences and stories they can recall for years to come. Does that mean memories need to break the bank? Sometimes. In fact, we’re saving up for a pretty expensive family cruise one day. But in the meantime, there’s plenty of options to enjoy a family date on a budget. We’ve set Mondays aside as our date day, so $20 dates have been the perfect budget for our $80-$100 a month “fun-fund”. Here’s a few of our favorites:
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