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August 31, 2010

Kids Need to Learn to Handle Money Responsibly

We're seeing so many stories of people in financial turmoil, and we're told that this is the new normal. Not for my kids! Teaching them how to handle money is one way to prepare them for the future.

Here's a site that offers plenty of lessons about money for your children. Check it out!

August 30, 2010

College: Let the Student Beware

Law school students are getting angry as they find that law schools have lied about the availability of jobs post-graduation. They're coming out with close to (and sometimes more than) six figures' worth of grad school debt only to find that the jobs are not there.

Most interesting was this quote from economist Richard Vedder:

"We are entering the age of the overeducated American, the person with college degrees who cuts hair, trims trees, drives trucks," he says.

The myth of a college degree being the key to success is slowly being exposed for what it is these days.

August 27, 2010

Teach Your Daughters Well

Having money skills will be a key to financial survival in the 21st century, so it's important for parents to teach their children how to handle money now, while they have them at home.

Traditionally, girls were often left out of these discussions. Even today, some parents don't think about giving their daughters the advantage of having financial savvy. But given that single moms have taken a real financial beating in this economy, every girl should be taught how to handle money wisely.

August 26, 2010

The Solution to Unemployment for Teens

The unemployment rate among teens is the highest it's been in decades. Some people are worried that being unable to find a job could affect teens emotionally when they become adults.

There are many benefits of part-time jobs for teens, but when jobs are hard to come by, teens can try self-employment. Baby-sitting, lawn-mowing and car-washing are traditional businesses for teens to run; the really motivated teen might come up with other business ideas, such as giving dance or instrument lessons to young children, doing home maintenance and yard work for neighbors or becoming the local computer geek by helping older relatives and neighbors trouble-shoot their computers.

Working for themselves will have positive emotional effects on teens well into adulthood, and could be the start of a lifetime of self-employment, which will be a real plus in the economy of the 21st century.

August 25, 2010

Still Asking Their Parents for Help

"Across the pond," many young people apparently have few do-it-yourself skills. According to a recent study, more than a third are afraid to try gardening, and more than two-thirds believe their fathers are handier than they are.

Here in the U.S., are our own young people any better at fixing things and creating things than the British? In recent years, young adults grew up in affluence, learning to pay others to do everything for them so they didn't have to learn to do things for themselves.

That's fine if you have plenty of money to pay others, but what if you don't? Wise parents are teaching their kids to do for themselves from the time they're little: here's how.

August 23, 2010

Disappearance of the Middle Class?

I'm seeing more articles like this one, decrying the disappearance of the middle class and suggesting that in the future, Americans will either be poor or very rich, with the overwhelming majority falling into the first category.

No one can predict the future, of course. But if we prepare our kids by teaching them to live frugally and to maximize their income, they'll be more comfortable than if they were never taught how to do these things.

August 20, 2010

Financial Freedom

The research I've done over the past several years points to a future where those who are unencumbered by debt are most likely to thrive. But even if I'm wrong, and our kids become adults in a world where survival is a piece of cake, being financially free will allow them to capitalize on all the good opportunities they see.

Whatever happens, a little training now will help our children achieve "A Future of Financial Freedom" by helping them aim for debt-free lives.

August 19, 2010

Working With Your Hands

Believe it or not, there are still some job areas where companies cannot find enough good employees. Many of these unfilled jobs require people to be able to work with their hands:

Paul McNarney, owner of The Mower Shop in Fishers, Ind., says he has been looking for a good lawnmower mechanic so he can guarantee a one-week turnaround on repairs. He received only two responses to an Internet ad he placed a couple of months ago, even though the job can generate income of more than $40,000 a year, depending how many mowers the mechanic repairs. Similar ads he placed before the recession attracted more than a dozen candidates, he says.

"My thought was that in a cr— economy I could probably find somebody good because a lot of people were looking," says Mr. McNarney, who has been in business for 13 years selling everything from simple lawnmowers to big riding models for large properties. "I didn't find anybody."

A salary of $40,000+ isn't bad these days. But schools rarely offer "shop classes" or other classes that teach kids to work with their hands. It's up to parents to do this.....or grandparents if the parents can't work with their hands.

August 18, 2010

Why They're Not Hiring

We wonder where the jobs are, but when you read about the high costs of employing someone, you understand one aspect of what's going on. With the government planning to increase taxes (and let tax cuts run out) across the board in 2011, it's clear that the U.S. employment situation won't get better anytime soon.

Those of us with teens should prepare them for the challenges of working in an economy with long-term high unemployment rates, because they're nearly adults, and finding a job, with or without a college degree, is not going to be easy for some time.

Those with younger children can prepare their children for the worse, knowing that even if things improve by the time they reach adulthood, they'll be ready no matter what happens in the future.

August 17, 2010

The Skills Every Worker Needs

This article, "7 Skills Every Worker Needs," doesn't include skills you've never heard of before, but I think the last two skills it mentions are especially important, and if you went to school, you may be lacking in one or both.

That's why it's so important to homeschool your kids if you want them to thrive in the 21st century. Skill #6 is curiosity, which is often squelched by formal schooling. And skill #7, self-reliance, is something I post about frequently on this blog. In fact, the last paragraph of this article mirrors something I've written in my upcoming book, Thriving in the 21st Century. The article's author states:

It's becoming apparent that the big institutions that many Americans have relied on for the last 50 years--corporate America, banks, the government--won't be as supportive in the future. Those who adjust and become more entrepreneurial will be the winners. That means developing more technical skills instead of relying on others, making lots of backup plans, and building a big cushion in case something goes wrong. "Don't get too dependent on having total continuous employment," advises Peters. That way, if you end up out of work for a while, it might seem like more of a blessing than a curse. And you'll know what to do next.

No one was saying this six years ago, when I began writing my book. But I think it's becoming clearer by the day that our children will have to support themselves in a much different world than the one we're used to.

August 16, 2010

Digging Deeper Reveals the Truth About "Thriving" Careers

An article titled "Thriving (and Dying) Careers" is typical of the manipulation we're seeing from the media these days when it comes to jobs. It gives a false sense of hope by first mentioning some career areas that actually died years ago (Telegraph operators? Lamplighters? Why not mention buggy whip manufacturers too?), then comparing these antiquated jobs to modern careers that are supposedly good prospects for long-term employment:

Medical assistant: good luck surviving on an average of $14 an hour.

Budget analyst: a 15% growth rate in new jobs for budget analysts sounds impressive, but it works out to only 1,000 new jobs a year.....for the entire U.S.!

Marketing managers make the big bucks, and you usually need an MBA, but that 12% growth rate translates into only 2,190 new jobs per year in a country with 160 million working adults---good luck!

Dental assistants: not such high average pay at $16 an hour, but more opportunity at 10,000 new jobs a year. Probably the best of this sorry list of "thriving" careers.

Medical and Health Services Manager: with an average salary of $80K and only 4500 new jobs a year, your child better have a competitive spirit!

Registered nurse: this has been a favorite on the best jobs lists for several years now, but so many people responded to the demand that there are now more nurses than jobs in many cities.

Special ed teachers: some opportunities and good pay, but as the parent of a special needs child, I can tell you it takes a special person to be a special ed teacher. Most people are not cut out for it.

Computer Network Administrators: decent pay and some opportunities, but the writing's on the wall. This from the BLS itself:

"As computer networks expand, more of these workers may be able to perform their duties from remote locations, reducing or eliminating the need to travel to the customer’s workplace."

Translation: it's just a matter of time before these jobs are off-shored to cheaper labor overseas.

The upshot? Don't believe what you read about the jobs of the future. Dig deeper so you learn the true story, before you direct your children toward supposedly thriving careers.

August 13, 2010

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Grass-Eaters

Charles Hugh Smith shares some interesting insights about Japan, which has had a stagnating economy for many years. Smith says that young people there have become disillusioned by poor economic prospects, and many move back home with their parents in disgust and frustration. Some young men, having seen their fathers dedicate their lives to their jobs only to be cut loose, refuse to risk the same treatment and have given up. They are called "Grass-eaters" by their elders.

Some Americans worry that our future looks like Japan's current reality. No one knows for sure, but it seems to me that raising our boys (and our girls) to have many practical skills so that they can take care of themselves is a very good way to avoid raising Grass-eaters. People who don't rely on others to take care of them or employ them have more hope than those who are dependent on employers for their survival.

August 12, 2010

Surviving Long-term Unemployment

Lately, an increasing number of news reports highlight the increasing number of people who've been unemployed for more than 99 weeks and no longer receive unemployment checks. Most of them are in their 50s and 60s, and some will never find another job.

How do people survive such a situation without government help? Hopefully they've always set aside money for a rainy day and paid off all their debts including their mortgage. If they have, and are also willing to pursue self-employment (even on a very small scale), they'll be alright.

Paying off all debt and setting aside money for a rainy day are key survival skills that all of our children should be taught. It's one of the most important things we can teach our kids, whether or not they learn about it in school, so that they can thrive in the 21st century.

August 11, 2010

Living Simply Makes More Sense Than Ever

Many people are shedding the bulk of their possessions and downsizing. This makes sense in the current economy, and it sets a good example for our children, who will live and work in a world much different than the one we grew up in.

It also makes great financial sense. By keeping bills low, you can survive periods of unemployment, or enjoy a lifestyle of self-employment. For many of our children, living simply may be the only way they can live on their own.

August 10, 2010

Labor Mobility is Down: What Does It Mean?

Americans used to move to where the jobs were. But these days, so many of them are stuck in mortgages they can't get out of that they can't move anywhere. According to this article, it's a trend that is expected to continue for a long time.

It once made sense for young people to buy houses as soon as they could before prices went up further. But these days owning a house can be a real trap, especially for a young person looking to get a career going. It's wiser to rent, at least for the foreseeable future.

August 9, 2010

And the Purpose of College Graduation Is?

Once again, our president has declared that we must regain the title of "country with the most college graduates." This despite the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that most of the job openings over the next 10 years will not require a college degree. Surely the president knows this......so what is his purpose? Pushing people to college is only going to leave many of them in debt up to their ears, and many of them will wind up unemployed or underemployed.

August 5, 2010

Practical Skills for Kids

Has the kids soccer craze run its course yet? Are we ready to teach our kids useful things that they'll need in the future instead of signing them up to spend their weekends trying to kick a ball down the field?

I'm serious: we do our kids no favors if we send them out into the world unable to feed themselves without a car to take them to the drive-through, and unable to clothe themselves without a credit card in their pocket at Kohl's.

Your kids will need to know how to cook, how to garden, and how to make things, and you're the best one to teach them. Get a headstart on raising self-sufficient kids with Back to Basics: Raising Self-Sufficient Children. Available now on Amazon Kindle for only 99 cents.

August 4, 2010

A Gap Year Makes Sense

Taking a gap year between high school and college, and spending it working or volunteering instead of traveling and partying, is one of the smartest things your teen can do to prepare for the economy of the 21st century. It can also keep him or her from making a big mistake, as this article notes:

Friends Jeremy Bowles and Chris Billups, both 21 and both 2007 graduates of Kearney High School, spent the year after high school working. It might not qualify as a typical gap year, but it produced some revelations just the same.
Both guys were working the fall after their senior year at the Shoal Creek Golf Course near Liberty, Mo., but their plan was to move to Orlando, Fla., the following January to study golf course management at a trade school.....

And as time went on, Billups figured something out. "After working 40 hours a week at a golf course, I changed my mind about what I wanted to do," he says.

August 3, 2010

The Newfound Popularity of Farming

In Massachusetts, of all places, farming is becoming a popular new hobby (and sometimes job). Part of the reason is the rise of locavores, but for some people it's a way to make a living. This is one of the practical skills our kids will need most in the 21st century, for health and for saving money.....and maybe even for earning it.

August 2, 2010

A Warning About College

Things are looking quite bleak for new college grads, according to this. Do read the comments while you're there.