Our Cross Country Move: One Year Later

Almost one year ago, our family made the move from Chicago to Tucson, Arizona.  Honestly, I wasn’t that excited to be moving so far away from my family in the Midwest, but we thought the move would only be for two or three years.  The move was a smart choice for my husband’s career (something we still believe), so I tried to make the best out of it.

Now, a year later, I’ve found that a cross country move can evoke a wide range of positives and negatives.

The Positives

Cross Country MoveKeeping in touch with relatives is easy, thanks to technology.  My mom has made the trip out to Tucson three times in the year we’ve been here, so we’ve been lucky to see her so frequently.  Because of the cost of taking our family of five such a distance, we only expect to be able to travel to see her once a year.  She’ll likely cut her trips down to once or twice a year to see us from now on.  However, thanks to Skype, keeping in touch is easier than ever.  Whenever the kids miss grandma, we just Skype with her.

Having a back yard is priceless.  In the Chicago suburbs where we lived, we just had a tiny patch of yard.  Since we were renting, we couldn’t do anything with it.  Now, we have a full back yard for the kids to play in and we have three garden beds (though we’re still learning how to grow anything in this crazy desert).

A cheaper cost of living rocks.  No surprise, Chicago was expensive.  We could never own a house because property taxes alone were $12,000+ a year, and starter homes in less than ideal conditions were easily $350,000 as a starting price.  In Tucson, we’re able to own our own home, and the property taxes are a fifth or less of what they were in Chicago.

The Negatives

All health insurance policies are not the same.  My husband’s health insurance policy in Chicago was generous, but we always found it very annoying that medical bills were not paid until 9 to 12 months AFTER the appointment.  (Illinois’ tight budget was the reason.)  When we moved here, I was impressed that our bills were paid within a few weeks.  However, we pay more to insure our family here, and fewer expenses are covered.  We did not estimate just how deeply medical bills would impact our bottom line, and right now we’re recovering financially from the nearly $5,000 we had to pay out of pocket for the first four months of medical expenses in 2015.  (These expense would have likely been much less with our Illinois insurance.)

Moving is SO expensive.  We originally hoped to only be out here for two to three years, but moving cross country is so expensive.  Now I find myself hoping we stay here five years so we don’t have to spend so much money to relocate so quickly after relocating here.  We need time to recoup our expenses.

Moving cross country has been an experience, but despite the expenses, we’re still glad we did it.

Have you made a large move?  What did you learn a year or so into relocating?  Would you do it again if you had the choice?

Do Your Kids Do Chores?

I recently saw an article on Yahoo! that said only 28% of today’s kids do chores versus 82% of kids from our generation.

I don’t know about you, but I had chores when I was growing up.  I took care of our pets, washed the dishes, and helped clean the house ALL day on Saturdays.  (I still have nightmares about cleaning each and every slat on our huge stereo.)

My kids are definitely part of the 28% of today’s kids who have chores.  My 10 year old is responsible for doing three chores a day including things like vacuuming the living room or his bedroom, emptying the dishwasher, and cleaning the bathroom.  My younger kids are 6 and 5, and they’re responsible for two chores a day including picking up their toys, cleaning their rooms, putting away clean clothes, and feeding the cat.

Kids do ChoresWe have our kids do chores because we want them to learn to be self-sufficient, and we want them to understand that there are not always people there to do things for them.  I plan to work with my oldest this summer to teach him how to prepare some basic meals.

Repercussions for Kids Who Don’t Do Chores

But what about the other 72% of kids who don’t do chores?

One of my friends had surgery recently, and she had trouble getting up to prepare her food.  Her boys are 17 and 13, but neither of them could make her anything while her husband was at work because they hadn’t yet learned to cook.  Her son had to go to the store to buy some frozen meals for her.

And herein lies the problem.  “Too often children leave home for college unable to look after themselves adequately.  They have to rely on junk food or expensive ready-made meals” (Yahoo!).

If your children do not have the most basic of skills to care for themselves, when they’re adults their lack of skills can cost them a small fortune.  You likely know of people who don’t know how to cook, so instead they fill their grocery carts with frozen meals or go out to eat every night.

Even worse, your adult child may be so cozy at home that he never leaves!

Parents Sacrifice Now So Greater Rewards Can Come Later

My guess is that many parents don’t give their children chores because training them to do chores properly takes time, sometimes a few weeks to a few months.  It can be a painful process.

Gina Gardiner, author of the Yahoo! article, states, “Many parents I believe are suffering from the ‘It’s quicker, easier and less hassle to do it yourself syndrome.’ Of course, it takes time to teach children how to do chores and a real commitment to motivate children to do the chores and understand why it’s important—but it is well worth the investment.”

I know that is why I have neglected to teach my oldest to cook and why I’m waiting to do so until the summer when we’ll have more time.  Teaching him to cook will require patience on my end (and perhaps his, too), but it will be well worth the time and effort.

Do you require your children to do chores?  If you don’t, why not? 

5 Fun Ways to Educate Your Child about Money This Summer

Ah, summer.  Your kids get to take a break from the school grind, and as a parent, you get to take a break from the homework grind.  While your child will likely have fun hanging out with friends, playing sports, going to the movies, and reading, now is the time for you to sneak in a little summer education.

Teaching our kids about money is one of the most important things we can do as parents.  What our children learn about money and see us do with money will likely affect them for years to come.  This summer, take the time to educate your children about money while making it fun.

TD Bank’s Summer Reading Program

Educate your child about moneyTD Bank has a summer reading program where your kids will earn $10 if they read 10 books.  TD Banks are mainly on the East coast, so not all kids can benefit from the reading program.  However, all kids can take advantage of TD Bank’s summer reading list for kids from Kindergarten to 7th grade.

The list is broken down by grade level, and each book suggested has a financial lesson.  For instance, one of the books for 7th grade is Money Hungry, a story about a young girl who is driven by greed.

TD Bank also has a section for parents that includes a story that you can read to children along with worksheets you can do with them.  In addition, there is a virtual stock game that your kids can play to practice investing in the stock market.

Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, Jr.

Dave Ramsey takes his advice and rolls it into a package for children.  Financial Peace, Jr. includes audio CDs as well as a workbook.  There are also cash envelopes, stickers, and other fun activities for kids.  This kit is for kids ages 3 to 12.  When two of my kids were 4 and 8, they loved listening to the CDs and doing the activities.

Nick Jr. Money Games and Activities

If you have little ones who are just starting to learn about money, why not try Nick Jr.’s Money Games and Activities.  These activities primarily help young kids differentiate coins and learn the value of each one.

Star Banks Adventure

T. Rowe Price has created this game as part of their Money Confident Kids program. This game will likely be appealing to kids thanks to the video game-like presentation. Parents will love that the program teaches kids about inflation, saving, spending wisely, and asset allocation, among other topics.  This game is available as an app and as an online game.

Board Games

On a long, hot summer day, nothing beats staying inside playing a board game.  Many classic board games offer your children entertainment AND financial education.  Some of my favorite for this purpose are Monopoly, Life, and Payday.

Use these activities a few times a week, and your child will not only have a fun summer, but one that is filled with financial lessons.

What are your favorite activities and games to teach your kids about money?