Money Saving Ideas
Asking children to make a contribution
There has never been a better time to be a child in the industrialized world. Children are well fed, immunized, and free to pursue their education and advancement in society. You would think that children would be extremely happy and car free. Yet they are not. This is because the media exposes them to all the worlds problems but doesnt give them opportunities to help find solutions.
Often times parents with good intentions do not allow their children to become responsible adults. This happens when parents assume responsibilities that the children should. We hire nannies and household help, and outsource most of the chores so our children can focus on their studies and activities. Unfortunately, many children are spending most of their free time in front of the TV or in chat rooms.
We insulate our children from life by moving to suburbs that lack diversity along both ethnic and socio-economic lines. The only diversity they winess is when the buses and trains arrive on Sunday evening bringing their nannies and household help. We give them unlimited resources to purchase toys and fail to limit their ever-increasing demands. We give them cell phones, beepers, palm pilots, home computers and Gameboys. Then we wonder why they dont value money, respect each other and their parents.
In effect what we have done is to surrender parental control and responsibility to the media and our childrens peers. Only when we are willing to take back control can we instill values and a respect for money in our children. By asking our children to assume more of the responsibilities of the household we not only promote our financial freedom but theirs as well.
The key is to educate children and be open about the familys financial situation. Then you must implement rules, which must be followed.
Some suggested rules might include:
At first there will be a great resistance and a comparison to their peers. By setting an example and taking more responsibility, you can set an example that will engender cooperation. I suggest using a model that is used in summer camps. In summer camps outside distractions are eliminated. To take back control you will need to limit TV, Internet usage and telephone calls. It is very effective in encouraging discipline. You must set the rules and be strict with their enforcement.
In the next section we will talk about in-sourcing chores in the household.
Outsource at work, in-source at Home
The business model for success in our technological age outsources certain functions so we can concentrate on our core competency. In the home there are different factors at work. With very young children outsourcing tasks may be a necessity because when we are home, we want to spend more time with our children and participate in their development. However as children get older, the extra time garnered from outsourcing is often spent in chat rooms, in front of TV sets, or in idle chat on the telephone.
We have become a nation of outsourcers delegated cleaning, food preparation, lawn and gardening, childcare and many other household chores. The message we have given our children is that these activities are mundane and without value. Being disconnected to nature and food preparation has resulted in insensitivity toward the environment and an unhealthy relationship to food.
We have filled our childrens lives with so many activities that the family rarely has time for quiet interaction. In one community in Ridgewood New Jersey a group of parents is fighting back. They have declared Tuesday Evening activity free, to help families find time to spend to get re-acquainted with each other.
We have allowed the media to take control over raising our children and shaping their values. The subtle message this teaches our children learn is that love can be bought.
Many of us have no idea where our food comes from or how it is prepared. This fast food mentality is contributing to ever increasing cases of childhood obesity and other ailments. We can take a step toward financial healing and promoting better health within our families by becoming more active in the preparation of our food. By teaching children to respect food, they will become less wasteful and more conscious of healthy eating habits. In addition, preparing the meal becomes an activity that the family can all participate in.
Children also need to take responsibility for cleaning their rooms, making their beds, and helping with chores such as vacuuming and cleaning up after meals. By empowering children with these skills you will be giving them freedom.
If you live in a house, developing a connection with nature is a real possibility if your demand assistance with yard work. Simple chores such as weeding, planting, watering can be delegated to children.
Adults, with or without children, will benefit from insourcing more of these responsibilities and participating fully in the process. In Yoga, the ancient science of India a specific type was developed called Karma Yoga. The idea here is that if we can approach all chores in a meditative state, then our whole lives could be a moving meditation in action. So instead of getting all stressed out over what needs to be done, you can view the process as an opportunity to stay focused on your breathing and be relaxed. There are three benefits to this approach:
1) It contributes to your financial freedom
2) It becomes an opportunity for contemplation
3) You feel empowered
Changing Social Interactions
Our neighborhoods, social clubs, religious affiliations and friendships help to define who we are. If you are striving to keep up with the norms in these groups, that will limit your financial freedom. To effectively change our belief systems we may need to surround ourselves with people who share our values.
While I am not suggesting that you put your house up for sale tomorrow, you may want to consider how your environment affects your family and your financial decision-making. If you are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder in your community you may want to seriously consider how you life might change if the pressure to keep up was removed.
The best way to begin to change your social interactions is to begin to volunteer in organizations that help others. You will not only develop your own compassion skills, but generate a new social circle from which you can develop meaningful relationships.
This is especially important for children. We focus a great deal of energy on developing our childrens world skills like, computer, math, science, analytical, verbal and sports. However we forget the interpersonal skills that kids need to become fully formed human beings. These are the skills they will need to have successful relationships in life.
The key to making effective change is in your willingness to let go of materialism and embrace freedom. Our modern day equivalent of bondage in Egypt is the mental prison, the belief system that is based upon materialism that ties us to our self- image, our ego.
An exercise on Thankfulness has been included on this CD to help you focus on what you have and move away from focusing on what you lack.
If you have a moment you may want to sit up and take some
deep breaths and forward the CD to the Thankfulness
Investing, Credit Card Consolidation and Elimination
Aside from purchasing a home, a general rule to follow is that if you cant pay for something dont buy it. It is as simple as that. If you cant afford a new car, buy a used one.
We are a nation of debtors. Our current recession is the result of the bursting a speculative bubble produced by Americans who have undermined their personal balance sheets by excessive debt and engaged in casino investing.
We need to invest in ourselves through retraining, education, and honoring our own gifts by building our own businesses.
We need to make a plan of action to begin to control our spending. It begins by making a commitment to incur no new debt. The best way to do this is to start paying cash for purchases so you can begin to see how quickly money is flying out of your pockets. Perhaps you may want to set a goal for daily spending and then use that as a guide to stay on course with a budget.
For example you might come up with a figure of $75 per day and adjust for shopping or purchases that have a longer-term benefit. While it may be an inconvenience to have to visit the ATMs more frequently this exercise will give you a better understanding of your spending habits and allow you to have more control over spending. There are also debit cards available from most major banks that allow us to pay bills from our accounts. If you are wed to using a bard this might be an alternative so long as you keep track of daily spending.
Once spending is brought under control, a plan must be developed to eliminate credit card debt. Credit card debt is very expensive and carries a high interest rate. The interest alone can be a substantial drain on your resources. Credit card debt can be converted into a home equity line of credit but you should still continue to focus on paying that off in short order.
That Pink Bathroom Aint so Bad
There will always be home improvement projects you believe are an absolute necessity. However, before embarking on a new project, ask yourself whether the renovation serves a utility or is it more cosmetic. Your home should be a place of peace and tranquility. If you are always finding faults and problems in the home, your time spent there will create stress and anxiety.
I make believe that I am on vacation when at home. When I am on vacation I dont think about changing the décor, or embarking on a new project. I am just content to be.
When I first moved into my house I was determined to eliminate the yellow and pink bathrooms. It just happens that yellow came back into style. Perhaps if I wait long enough pink will be popular again too.
There are, of course, projects that you can undertake that are not too expensive and may fall into the category of Karma Yoga such as painting, finishing, etc. These are projects you can get the family involved in and with the help of a store such as the Home Depot you can not only purchase the products at low cost, but get very expert advice.
Dont be a Slave to Fashion
If you must, never buy retail. Numerous chains abound such as Filenes, Loehmans, Todays Man, etc that offer stylish clothing at a discount.
Remember that the people you attract by displaying these labels may not be the people who will help you on your road to achieving financial freedom.
Finally, start to simplify your life. Take the time to experience lifes pleasures such as a walk in nature, a dazzling sunset, or just dancing to salsa music in your own living room.
We have so much but we take it for granted on our rush to produce and consume. One day you may want to try a silent retreat of fasting and contemplation on the wisdom of nature. There are many meditative retreat facilities available for this purpose. Consuming nothing physically and materially is a good way to begin to get an appreciation for what we have.
What we find is that happiness starts in the inner realm and can never be found in someone else or something else.
© 2007, Bruce Eric Van Horn
If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health. - Hippocrates
Author, CPA, MBA and yoga instructor Bruce Van Horn founded Yoga for Business, Inc., a company devoted to organizational and individual wellness. He presents a daily Yoga Workout routine that provides a complete physical, mental and spiritual workout. He is the author of Yoga for Prostate Health and Yoga for Men, designed for all levels of experience with yoga.. He has renamed (Asanas) positions in Yoga using terms from business to help you identify with the movement and focus your attention. He is the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Center for Complimentary Medicine at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Bruce also leads a volunteer yoga program designed for cancer patients and healthcare workers at Beth Israel Medical Center. He lives outside New York with his wife Michelle who is a Reiki Master. Bruce has two daughters who have asked that he refrain from headstands at the town pool. His website is www.yogaforbusiness.com If you have any questions, feel free to write: E-Mail.
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