Six Smart Money Resolutions for Parents in 2018

And how to keep them Read more

money advice

This post is written by *Erin Ellis, a mom of two and an accredited financial educator. We figured that now is the time of year we all vow to spend less/shop less/save more/be more adult about money and so forth. And so we asked Erin to write a few tips on what, exactly, we should be aiming to do … and a few ideas about how to do it. (We’re all about the free financial advice from experts!) Here, her thoughts.

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Every year, we make New Year’s resolutions with the best intentions of keeping them in the coming year. You know the common promises we make to yourselves: Eating healthier, working out consistently, giving up our vices and setting financial goals. But while changing your diet and fitness routine comes down to personal willpower, there are a few immediate actionable ways you can begin establishing healthy financial habits for your family right now. Check out these six smart financial resolutions (and tips for how to make them stick in 2018).

Start a college savings plan
If you’re a parent to littles, one of the best financial resolutions you can make this year is to start saving now for your children’s college education. Investing in a 529 savings plan early on will allow your money to grow over time. The Pennsylvania 529 College Savings Program offers a smart, taxadvantaged way for families to save for college. Even if your children are older, make a resolution to open a 529 account for them this year because every dollar counts toward their future.

Build an emergency savings fund
The rule of thumb for an emergency savings fund is typically to save between three and six months’ worth of expenses, but saving any amount will help you set aside funds for an emergency. Do your best to contribute a small amount each paycheck and work toward a realistic goal for 2018.

Develop a realistic budget
To set a realistic budget for the new year, go through the last few months of expenses to understand where your money is going. Personally, I’ve been focused on taking a close look at my family’s expenses and spending habits to identify where we can make changes. I wrote down everything by hand that my family and I purchased in December, including holiday presents. This exercise allowed me to categorize family spending and helped to determine my family’s budget for the following month, and it can help you, too. Talk openly with your spouse or partner to align on this process.

Plan for your tax return ahead of time
A tax return may feel like a windfall, but no matter the amount, it can disappear quickly if you don’t have a strategy in mind. Develop a plan now to decide how you will spend the money, if at all. Will you put these funds toward emergency savings or pay down credit card/student loan debt? Do you have a family vacation planned for later in the year that could benefit from the extra money? Creating a plan for your tax return ahead of time will keep you from spending it frivolously.

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Wee Spotlight: New Year, New Kid Stuff

Here’s an easy way find the right activities for your kiddos Read more

kidgooroo

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Don’t get us wrong — we LOVE the embarrassment of riches that we have in Philly when it comes to classes and after-school programs and camps and such. But if you’ve been a parent here for more than, say, four months, you also know that it can be daunting navigating your way through all the options. This year, though, you have a new tool: Enter, KidGooRoo, which is a site offering a huge listing of kids’ activities — from arts to sports to mommy-and-me classes and more — complete with unbiased reviews from other parents. And! It’s TOTALLY FREE to use and FREE for businesses to list.

The benefit here is getting honest feedback from other moms and dads without having to spend a huge amount of time asking around at the playground or polling everyone you know on Facebook. You can find out if people think that dance teacher is a bit too strict or if that soccer camp is too competitive or if the baby gym is clean. (Also: Reviews can be written anonymously, so nobody feels pressure to sugarcoat, and parents can suggest adding their own favorite local businesses at any time.) The general idea is simple: Parents helping other parents to make better choices, helping everyone feel more confident that the kids are in safe, supportive and motivating environments.

It’s also totally worth noting that KidGooRoo also sponsors local school organizations (like HSAs, PTOs and education foundations, for instance). For every review a parent writes on the site, the company will donate $2 to that parent’s educational organization. Check out  KidGooRoo for more information about how to start your own school fundraiser, and visit the site to learn more about how it works and how 2018 can be the year you help other parents — and let them help you — when it comes to choosing the best stuff for your kiddos.

 

 

Wee One-On-One: Lacey Kohlmoos

A Philly supermom shares her favorite stuff Read more

lacey kohlmoos

The mama: You might recognize Fairmounter Lacey Kohlmoos, mom to 14-month-old Finn: She’s been getting some serious press around here lately. A lifelong activist who also works for Care2 as an Online Organizing Strategist, Lacey has taken on a few issues recently that deeply affect Philly parents: first, she’s helped lead a campaign to get lactation facilities in Amtrak stations (can you believe there’s literally nowhere to pump at all in Philly or D.C. stations outside of — ew — bathrooms?), as well as launching another, separate campaign to get Septa to allow open strollers on buses. Of course, those are just two of a number of game-changing petitions that Lacey helps drive. “My job allows me work with people all over the country to turn their petitions into winning campaigns that create meaningful and lasting change in their communities,” she says. 

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Did you grow up in Philly? I grew up in the D.C. area, but have lived in Philly for about five years.

Where does your little one attend daycare/preschool/school? We do a nanny share in our home.

Favorite kids’ classes: Roots with Ruark — a music class for babies and toddlers that is super interactive. And at the end of the class, the kids even get to play with Ruark’s guitar. That’s my son’s favorite part. (Ruark used to have classes at Ali Wagon’s Parenting Center, so you’ll have to check his website to see where he’ll be doing classes again now that the center is closing.) Read more →

Wee Bits: The Case For More Kid Chores, an Awesome Barnes Deal, Equal Pay (For Real), and a Homeowner’s Terrifying To-Do List

Happenings, news, great reads and other tidbits for Philly parents this week Read more

News Bits and Pieces Philadelphia

In Iceland, it’s now illegal to pay women less than men. (Via The Cut.)

Speaking of gender equality, if you haven’t read about Time’s Up, you really must. I literally cried while reading this. Change is afoot, y’all.

This Atlantic piece is one of the saddest, scariest opioid stories I’ve read in a while.  That it was written by the dad of a wonderful-sounding kid lost to addiction makes it … well, very heartbreaking.

You guys — here’s a wonderful deal for Wee readers. You know how the Barnes Foundation has First Free Sundays? (No? You should! They have guided stroller tours, family-friendly activities, and more!) Well, not only can you visit the Barnes with your crew FOR FREE on the first Sunday of every month, but on Sunday, January 7 and Sunday, February 4, if you mention that you’re part of the Wee Wander community, they’ll let you skip any line into the building and secure a ticket to the Barnes collection. (So helpful!) They’re open at 10 a.m. 

Speaking of good deals: At the Please Touch Museum, the first Wednesday of every month is just $2 a person from 4 to 7 p.m. (Just missed the first one of the year … but good to remember for February onward!)

Hey everyone: Don’t forget for upcoming school holidays, the Arden does an awesome day-long camp, called Play in a Day. 

Thanks, Town & Country, for reminding us that kids who do chores are more successful as adults. I’m never dusting again!!

Cheap tickets, awesome movies and free popcorn at this South Philly movie theater!

OMG, this NYT calendar of stuff you should do to keep your house in good shape might be helpful, but it also made me feel like I needed to put down my computer IMMEDIATELY and run around doing all the things I should be doing to our house but haven’t been doing. EEEK! (Check for ice dams?!?)

More stuff to know about screen time, via NPR. And this time, it’s not  going to make you feel as bad as you think it is.

Helpful reminder from Parents.com: What to do when your child is choking. 

New swim classes for kids at Fitness Alive! 

I enjoyed The Cut’s advice on stuff to buy to deal with dry winter hair/skin/nails/lips.

Wee Love: This Little Trailblazer

So freaking cute (and inspiring!) Read more

trailblazer book

There’s no reason to post about this particular book we love, necessarily — neither the author nor the illustrator is local (at least, not that I’m aware of), and Lord knows, there are LOTS of random lovable books out there that we could write about. But this book — This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer by Joan Holub and illustrated by Daniel Roode  — just felt of the moment. The right thing at the right time. A little boost for 2018 after a pretty tough 2017 on the girl-power front. We recently received it as a gift, and I’m obsessed. I mean, just look at this darling thing:

Sonia Sotomayor!

Coco Chanel!

It’s evidently out of stock on Amazon right now (guess I wasn’t the only one who thought it felt like the right book at the right time!), but it looks like Head House Books has it back-ordered (you might want to call; perhaps there’s more now!); Barnes and Noble has it on its site (and very likely in its store); and you can always call your favorite local toy/kids’ store to see if they’ve got it. Personally, I’m going to stock up — it’s a darling gift, and a good, colorful, inspiring read for little ones. Love!

Wee Bits: A Year of No Shopping, the Best Pixar Movie, the Case for Making Beans Tonight, Weird Barbies, and Awesome Coat Sales

Happenings, news, great reads and other tidbits for Philly parents this week Read more

news and reads philadelphia wee bits

In which the Sesame Street puppets get deployed to the Middle East to help Syrian refugee children. (Via NPR)

I am inspired by this wonderful Ann Patchett NYT piece about a year of no shopping — inspired enough, dare I say, to follow suit. (Maybe?!)

Don’t you want to see four tiny quadruplet newborns dressed up like Star Wars characters? Yes. Yes, you do. (Via Parents.com.)

The folks at Vulture ranked all 19 Pixar movies from worst to best. (I love these lists. Was also intrigued by their ranking of Meryl Streep movies, too.)

From NPR, a gut-wrenching story about the kidnapped and abandoned children of war against ISIS at a Mosul orphanage. It is worth the read, and it will break your heart.

Thanks, NYT, for suggesting gun restrictions in situations of domestic violence.

Again from the Times: Did you know there was a Skipper doll in the 1970s who grew boobs when you pumped her arm? (HA.) This story about toys that were huge hits through the decades (Cabbage Patches! Hula Hoops! Teddy Ruxpin!) was pretty fascinating.

A shockingly convincing argument from The Atlantic for eating beans not beef. Truly, I might be in on this one, too.

I myself am not a Mummer’s Parade person (Philly sacrilege, I know), but uwishunu has the scoop on all the best places to watch it if you are a Mummer’s Parade person.

2017’s biggest winners, according to Philly Mag.

There is not a line of this story about the obsession with skin care as a coping mechanism that I don’t passionately agree with (and am not living myself). (Via the New Yorker)

Y’all: The Strategist is alerting us to a bunch of excellent after-Christmas coat sales. 

The guv has approved the SRC’s decision to disband.