If you're buying a car for your teen, safety is probably your highest priority. After all, teenagers aren't exactly known for their driving prowess. However, other considerations, such as your budget and the vehicle's reliability, are important too. Before you turn over a set of car keys to your family's newest driver, take the following considerations into account.
It's Probably Going to Break
Like it or not, the car you buy for your teen is probably going to break. If you're like many parents and buy your teen a low-cost car with a lot of miles on it, it'll simply be more likely to break down due to age. Furthermore, teenagers are usually harder on cars than more experienced drivers. They tend to brake harder, accelerate more quickly and disregard necessary maintenance tasks. Teaching your teen how to maintain their car will help extend the vehicle's life, but you should expect breakdowns and plan accordingly. There are some cars that are safer for teens, but you should still encourage safe driving.
Consider the Upfront Expenses
Knowing the upfront expenses of buying a car for your teenager will help you budget and prepare financially. First, decide whether to pay for the car upfront or to take out a loan. Then, consider having your teen pay for part of the cost of the vehicle. Not only will this take a little financial strain off you, but it'll build a sense of responsibility in your child. Finally, don't forget to budget for car insurance. Adding a teen driver to your insurance is likely to increase your premiums considerably.
Find the Right Car
The car you want for your teen is probably different than the one you want for yourself. To encourage safe driving, look for cars that don't emphasize horsepower, and keep in mind that larger cars are typically safer than compacts. Newer cars generally come with more safety features than older models, but they also come with heftier price tags.
Handing over the car keys to a new driver is a big deal regardless of how prepared you feel or how responsible your teenager is. Adequately preparing yourself and your child for this milestone will give your entire family peace of mind. Know that the car you choose is likely to break down, establish a budget, and take your time finding the right vehicle for your new driver.
Heading back to school is exciting for both kids and parents, but with all the thrill and anticipation, there can be quite a bit of stress, too. As a parent, you can approach the impending school year with a positive attitude and these tricks can help minimize stress and give your kids extra confidence when heading into the classroom.
5 Ways to Squash Back-to-School Stress
(Family Features) Heading back to school is exciting for both kids and parents, but with all the thrill and anticipation, there can be quite a bit of stress, too. As a parent, you can approach the impending school year with a positive attitude and these tricks can help minimize stress and give your kids extra confidence when heading into the classroom.
Lifestyle expert and mother of two Jeannette Kaplun recommends these tips:
Start adjusting bedtimes before school starts. It's common for bedtime rules to be broken in the summer. However, an abrupt transition to early mornings can lead to stress and irritability. The National Sleep Foundation recommends implementing earlier bedtimes two weeks before school starts and setting the alarm a bit earlier each morning for a smooth transition to the first day of school.
Curb the summer slide. Screen time isn't just for passing time; leverage technology to keep the reading skills your kids learned in the classroom sharp all summer long. A device like the Fire Kids Edition tablet from Amazon is built from the ground up for kids with a two-year worry-free guarantee, a kid-proof case and a one-year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, giving kids access to 15,000 kid-friendly books, videos, educational apps and games. Parental controls like Learn First encourage learning before playtime and allow you to set screen time limits to help get kids back into a routine for the school year. Additionally, STEM toys and games can keep math and science top of mind during the summer months and help kids excel during the school year.
Dress for success. There's a reason grownups tend to dress up for special events - when you look good, you feel good. Give your kids that same boost by helping them choose a special outfit for the first day of school that he or she feels comfortable and confident wearing. Shopping for clothes is an opportunity for your child to express individuality, so have fun with it. For added stress relief, lay out the complete ensemble the night before and have your child try it on to head off any concerns. If the routine works, try making it part of your nightly routine for stress-free mornings throughout the school year.
Simplify the shopping experience. Every back-to-school season comes with classroom supply lists and new wardrobe needs. A one-stop shop retailer like Amazon lets you complete your shopping on your own schedule, and its back-to-school store offers deals and a wide selection, making it easy to find everything from must-have items like binders, backpacks and shoes to fun gear such as glitter glue, donut erasers and emoji stickers that allow kids to express their personalities.
"Back-to-school shopping doesn't have to cause anxiety," Kaplun said. "By shopping online at Amazon from your phone, tablet or computer, you can buy everything you need without having to find a parking spot, tracking down a sales associate to help you find your child's size or standing in line to pay, saving you precious time. Plus, Prime members receive unlimited, free two-day shipping on more than 100 million items all-year long."
Share the excitement. It's perfectly normal for parents and kids to feel anxious about the new school year. Instead of revealing your own apprehension, share your favorite memories from your time in your child's upcoming grade. Ask your kids what they're most excited for and what they're a little nervous about and come up with solutions together.
Get a jump start on your stress-free transition back to school with more tips and resources at amazon.com/backtoschool.
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College is a significant investment and millions of families each year face the question of how to pay for it. One way students can position themselves for success is by seeking out various forms of financial assistance. These tips can help you identify and apply for scholarships that match your interests and credentials.
Finding Money for College
6 tips for winning scholarships
(Family Features) College is a significant investment and millions of families each year face the question of how to pay for it. One way students can position themselves for success is by seeking out various forms of financial assistance.
Earning scholarships can be one way to offset the financial burden, but winning a scholarship can sometimes be as competitive as gaining admission to the college of your choice. While most scholarships don’t entirely cover college tuition, they can be useful tools to help cover educational expenses such as room and board, tuition and books.
Some scholarships can be earned by meeting or exceeding certain standards, such as academic performance, while other scholarships are based on financial need or personal interests of the applicant. There’s also a wealth of opportunities that support students in specific areas, whether it be from companies, professional organizations or foundations. For example, the America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders program offers industry-specific scholarships each year for those looking to study agriculture-related fields.
While your academic performance, character and extracurricular resume all play a part, knowing where to look for scholarships can make all the difference when it comes time to pay for your education. These tips can help you identify and apply for scholarships that match your interests and credentials.
Complete the FAFSA
Talk to Your Counselor
Apply for Scholarships in Your Field of Interest
Don’t Overlook Smaller Award Amounts
Look for Essay Applications
Use a Scholarship Search Engine
Increasing Your Scholarship Odds
While there is no way to guarantee a scholarship to help offset the costs of higher education, there are things you can do to increase your odds of getting noticed by admissions departments and those who award scholarships. Before sending in your application, consider these tips:
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While the holidays might be the most wonderful time of the year for children, the gifting season can quickly spiral out of control for unprepared shoppers. These four tips can help you conquer holiday gifting like a pro.
4 Ways to Survive Holiday Gifting
(Family Features) While the holidays might be the most wonderful time of the year for children, the gifting season can quickly spiral out of control for unprepared shoppers.
These four tips can help you conquer holiday gifting like a pro:
Get organized. The secret to conquering the holiday season is having a plan. Take 10-15 minutes to update your calendar with all your holiday parties, family engagements, secret Santa exchanges or any other gifting commitments. Make sure to include dates, locations, times and even specifics, like themes, if they’re available. If you have multiple holiday events, you might even color-coordinate your planner for an easy visual reminder. Sync your events across all smart devices for an easy glance at the touch of a button.
Find your go-to gifts. As an adult, deciphering what kind of gifts a child wants in this digital age can be tricky. Some classics like brick toys are still a hit with kids of all ages. Studies show that 60 percent of children love playing with brick toys and more than half of parents love that their kids do, according to Mattel Global Consumer Insights. Try product lines like Mega Construx and Mega Bloks, which combine the fun of brick toys with popular franchises to create exciting products for kids. Find more holiday gift ideas at shop.mattel.com.
Wrap gifts early. Now that you have your plan in place, save time by purchasing all the gifts you will need for the holidays and wrapping them at one time. Prevent the stress of a last-minute gift wrap run by pre-wrapping gifts and simply labeling them with removable sticky notes.
Build a gifting closet. Once you have your gifts wrapped and ready to go, consider using an old crate or storage container and turning it into a “gifting closet.” Insert dividers to separate the gifts by age range and set aside your treasure trove in an easy-to-reach storage area. You can even use this closet year-round for birthdays and other gifting events. On the day of the party, simply open your gifting closet, grab a gift for the right age and head out the door.
Another option to save time and money this holiday season is to enter for the chance to win a gifting closet with $1,500 worth of MEGA products to help you conquer the gifting season. To enter the sweepstakes, post an original holiday photo to Instagram or Twitter with a short caption that includes why the entrant likes to give or receive construction toys as gifts. For full details, visit rules.prizelogic.com/MegaSocialSweeps.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.SOURCE:
(BPT) - Senior year: It's a time to finish college applications, solidify friendships and look forward to the freedom and the responsibility that come once that final bell rings. A lot of feelings surface during that final year, especially for parents. While your son or daughter might be overjoyed to finally fly the coop and live independently, you'll probably be dealing with your own mix of emotions, and you'll want to be sure they're ready to begin college in the fall.
For families with a child headed to college, senior year is best thought of as a transition year. Plan ahead to make sure your family stays on track.
To help you and your child with a successful transition, here's the essential list of landmarks on the road that will take your child from a senior in high school to a freshman in college.
1. Apply yourself in the fall
The journey to college begins early, and by the fall of senior year in high school, your child should be in full transition mode. They should be finishing campus visits and finalizing the list of colleges where they want to apply. Make sure they've spoken with admission counselors, thoroughly researched schools they're interested in and have everything they need to complete their college applications.
Keep tabs on important deadlines and stay organized to avoid missing any critical due dates. For example, will they want to apply early decision or early action? If so, make sure you have weighed how this could impact your financial plan for college.
2. Focus on financial aid from the start
For many parents, one of the biggest anxieties around college is the cost. Don't forget that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens on Oct. 1, and some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Make sure you submit the form as soon as it's available.
Because everyone has different needs, figuring out how to finance your child's education requires some research.
At College Ave Student Loans, you can find private loan options for parents and students. Even if you're not ready to take a loan out yet, parents and students can try out the fast and easy pre-qualification tools to find out if their credit pre-qualifies for a loan, and what interest rates they could expect, all without impacting their credit scores. Calculators are also available to help you explore your options and see how you can customize the loan payments to fit your budget.
3. Spring time is decision time
Early in the spring, your child will start to receive their first acceptance letters. Once they've heard from all of the schools where they applied, they'll have a big decision to make.
They need to do more than just decide which school to attend; they'll also need to send in a deposit, complete their housing form and accept financial aid packages.
A crucial step in this process is comparing award letters from the colleges where your child has been accepted. In reading these letters, pay close attention to how schools list the total costs. For instance, some schools will subtract the awarded loan amount from the total cost of attendance, while others will not. This could make the net cost of some schools appear less than others when in reality they are not, so take your time reading the documents.
4. Tie up everything in the summer
Before they head to campus, you and your children should create a budget to keep tabs on college bills. This will help you to stay on track financially and set the right expectations about how they need to manage their money.
You can help your soon-to-be freshman by working with them to outline a monthly budget that will take into account expected and unexpected expenses. Take a look at their financial aid packages and any income they might be earning and block out the monthly mandatory expenses. Then decide how much money they can spend on things like entertainment.
If you find that scholarships, grants and federal aid don't cover everything, private loans could be one solution for some college-bound students.
For parents and students, senior year is an exciting period. Knowing what steps to take and staying ahead of financial matters with useful tools like the ones at College Ave Student Loans can help make the transition easier for everyone.
When those first school bells ring and class is back in session for kids of all ages, make sure you and your student have everything in hand to help ensure success. Whether it’s tools for the classroom, supplies for a nutritious lunch, stylish clothes or helpful items for home, you’ll need to gear up for the school year ahead.
Better Back-to-School Buys
(Family Features) When those first school bells ring and class is back in session for kids of all ages, make sure you and your student have everything in hand to help ensure success. Whether it’s tools for the classroom, supplies for a nutritious lunch, stylish clothes or helpful items for home, you’ll need to gear up for the school year ahead. Find more back-to-school solutions at eLivingToday.com.
Teachers’ hard work and planning begin long before the school year starts and classes are back in session. Show your gratitude to your children’s teachers with merci Chocolates, a thoughtful collection of fine, European chocolates. Each slim, stylish box contains eight unique, individually wrapped flavors, making it the perfect token of appreciation to teachers for opening minds and touching hearts. Find more information at merci.us.
A Helping of Hummus
Find the hummus you love in individual, portable containers with Sabra Singles, which are easy to add to a lunchbox when you’re on the move. Each 2-ounce cup of Sabra hummus is non-GMO and contains 4 grams of plant-based protein and 3 grams of dietary fiber with no added sugar. Serve with carrots for an easy and tasty way to increase the veggies in your child’s diet every day. Visit sabra.com for more information.
Simply Super Storage for Kids
Good organizational habits are important to a child’s success in school. That’s why ClosetMaid created KidSpace, a collection of kid-tested and kid-approved juvenile storage furniture ranging from toy chests to storage shelves. This robust line, which was designed with safety and storage in mind, helps parents avoid clutter and create more space for imagination, magic and giggles in bedrooms, playrooms, living rooms and more. For more information, visit closetmaid.com/kidspace.
Send your student to school in style with shoes that fit this season’s “athleisure” trend and kick it up a notch with a hint of sparkle. These retro-inspired Arizona Sparkling Sneakers can add a relaxed, sporty feeling to a wardrobe without compromising on appearance. Help your child stand out from the crowd by finding these and more at JCPenney with styles that are priced to buy and guaranteed to love. Find more back-to-school styles at JCPenney.com.
Tech Tools for Students
Teach students to code with the TI-Innovator Hub from Texas Instruments, which plugs into the TI-84 Plus CE or TI-Nspire CX graphing calculator many students already have. The hub is a palm-sized board with a microcontroller that turns a graphing calculator into a STEM tool for back to school. Students can light up LEDs or write a program to play a song using their calculators. Learn more at education.ti.com.
Give your old-school lunchbox a technology upgrade this school year. The Freezable Classic Lunch Box from PackIt is the only horizontal lunch box that chills healthy food for hours with built-in freezable gel that eliminates the need for ice packs. The lunchbox’s top-load design makes it easy to pack flat containers like bento boxes, and a buckle handle clips onto totes, backpacks or sports bags for convenient travel to and from school, day care and extracurricular activities. Find more lunchtime solutions at packit.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Children at school)SOURCE:
(BPT) - For most teens, high school is an exciting time, one that offers the opportunity to set their own path and make some of their own decisions. However, with this added independence comes additional responsibility, especially regarding money.
Today teens are spending $260 billion a year in the U.S., yet only 17 states require completion of at least one financial literary course for high school graduation.
"So many teens don't realize how important saving is," says Angel Carter, an Atlanta teen who was selected by Boys & Girls Clubs of America to serve as national ambassador for its financial education program called Money Matters: Make it Count, created in collaboration with Charles Schwab Foundation. "They don't understand the importance of saving for their future needs and tracking or prioritizing their purchases."
Taking part in this program had a profound impact on Carter, along with more than 725,000 other Club teens who have completed Money Matters. And because April is Financial Literacy Month, now is the perfect time for Carter to offer a few tips she learned to help others manage their money.
* There's no such thing as "too young" or "too much." Because of the way compound interest works, the earlier you begin to save, the less of a burden it is. For example, regularly saving 10 percent of your income is a good savings goal if you're in your 20s or younger; however, if you wait until your 30s to start saving, that number increases to 20 percent in order to reach the same long-term goal. And if you wait till your 40s, it goes up to 30 percent. So it's better to start putting money away as early as possible. Talk to your parents or another adult you trust about setting up a savings account, and how much you should regularly set aside.
* Recognize needs vs. wants. Being smart about money doesn't mean you can't enjoy life, or do fun things with your hard-earned cash; but it does mean you need to plan for them. An easy rule of thumb is to figure out how much you need to set aside in order to meet your expenses, including savings, every month. Anything left over is for having fun. It might seem contradictory, but knowing ahead of time how much spending money you have available helps you know when you can comfortably say "yes," and when you're better off passing on an event or an impulse purchase.
* Know where your money goes. It may not be particularly fun, but tracking where and how you spend money is just one of those healthy habits that's good for you, like eating spinach and exercising. You can record this information with a notebook or an app, but just remember to log your purchases, including all those "small" ones. Being aware of every dollar you spend will help you understand yourself and your spending habits - and can help you find ways to reduce your spending and save even more.
* Credit is like social media. You know how parents and teachers are always telling you to watch what you post on social media channels, because someday you're going to have to apply for a job? Good credit is to your future purchasing what a clean social media history is to job applications: it takes time and commitment to build, and only moments to lose. A good credit score and a history of responsible spending give you options, which is priceless when you want to buy or lease a car, or apply for an apartment or even buy a house later on. How do you build good credit? Manage your checking account carefully, always pay your bills on time, and if you do choose to get a credit card, never charge more than you can afford to pay off in full every month.
* Keep it real. In today's economy, managing money responsibly is a tall order, but it is possible, especially if you take control! Think about the kind of lifestyle you want to live, and figure out how much it takes to support yourself in those circumstances. Once you've done that, it's simply a matter of solving for "x." One good way to be astute about finances is to look for a financial education program geared for teens, one that covers budgeting, goal setting, and planning for the future. Some programs, like Money Matters, even offer virtual reality games to practice for the real world without real-life risk.
These tips are just a few Carter learned through the Money Matters program at her local Boys & Girls Club. A new component of the program, the digital game $ky, is now available to all teens. The game challenges teens to navigate financial decisions in a fresh, fun way that will keep them thinking prudently about their finances not only in April but in the months and years ahead.
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