From Shop-a-Holic to Budget Fashionista

I might as well admit that when it comes to fashion, I am a recovering shop-a-holic. I’ve never sipped fine wines, and a home-cooked lasagna is as good to me as a night out at a restaurant (especially when my husband is cooking). I’m mindful of how I spend, so I always justified my spending on clothes as my one splurge. There are two problems with that justification: 1. Consistent splurging defeats the purpose of a splurge, and 2. I have a husband and children that are my responsibility and these splurges were coming out of the family purse. While my clothing habit wasn’t breaking the bank, it was one of many areas I could learn to cut back and identifying small areas helps to gain control. Budgeting became a form of gamification - it was just another competition to win.

One of my proudest budget moments: We were in a store and my daughter asked if she could show me something… you probably know that request well. Usually, “can I show you something?” means, “can I show you something I really, really, really want and will you buy it for me?” Well, my daughter took me over and said, “I know I don’t need this, but I really want it.” In this moment my daughter demonstrated something it took me four decades to practice regularly.

Whether you need a little push or are already budgeting and just need some fresh ideas, here are some tips that helped me:

  • Set a budget for items your children frequently ask for and include them in the decision-making of how to spend it (a good opportunity is a clothing budget since kids often want to weigh in on how they dress).

  • Enforce a one-night-sleep-on-it rule to curb impulse purchases. Make sure you sleep on the decision to buy anything that you are considering purchasing but didn’t go to buy that day. Once you go home and really weigh out the need vs want you will have a better perspective. It also models good money sense for your child.

  • Purchase with thought and share the process with your children so they understand the rhyme to your reason and so you are accountable to a true reason.

  • It’s ok to splurge every now and then so long as you practice gratitude for what you have.

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I found that even with our new budget I was still feeling the urge to shop to settle my nerves. So how do I stick to our budget? I remember I am accountable to the family budget. This is a reminder to me that when I spend on clothing that money cannot be spent on something for my children or my husband. Though I still feel occasional pangs when I see an amazing new pair of shoes, it actually feels good to put a cap on spending. And the concreteness of the spreadsheet and the accountability to my husband when we would talk through purchases would help me think about what I want to buy, decide how I can divide the money to clothe us all, and remember to appreciate what I have. This lesson has been hard to learn for me, but I am glad to see my children developing into smart consumers as a result of my process. I still love clothes and shopping, but purchasing within reason has given me perspective and taught my children well.

Supporting the College Transition

Photo by  Nathan Dumlao  on  Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The college admissions scandal has certainly peaked the nation’s interest and it has definitely peaked mine, as my son just recently went through the entire search, application, and response process. It’s a huge challenge and we all want to support our kids through it. The very fact that some parents feel the need to cheat their kids out of the application process leads us to conclude that we are not putting our full faith in our kids.

And then, once we are through the process - whatever it was like, it seems we assume our kids are simply ready for college. But there is a missing piece to that puzzle. We are seeing record numbers of kids dropping out and an increase in anxiety and depression in college students.

Photo by  Alexis Brown  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

In addition to the idea of sending them off to live on their own and worrying about the big decisions like whether or not they will be safe, if they will be homesick, if they will make the most of the opportunity, we also need to consider if they are ready to manage their own time, get their work done, and figure out the social scene.

Sarah Cody and I were lucky enough to sit down with Marc Lehman, a marriage and family therapist and Co-Founder of Dorm Room Counseling. Marc he talked to us about preparing kids and supporting them through this huge transition.

When to Let Them Fail

When to Let Them Fail

I can see the scene in my memory as though I am still staring out the window. My then 8-year old son was waiting for the school bus in a torrential downpour. With a bit of guilt, I thought to myself, “He can handle waiting in the rain - no big deal, he needs to develop some grit,” Of course I was watching from a dry bedroom window. He crossed the street to the bus and a paper bag he was carrying ripped open, dumping the contents in the middle of the wet road. Without thinking I ran out and helped him scoop everything up, kissed him quickly, and sent him on his way. But of course, then I was soaked, my feet were freezing, and I felt a bit odd standing in my bathrobe in the middle of the street of my brand new neighborhood. That said, I helped my little boy. But I thought, should I have let him figure it out on his own and develop some resourcefulness?

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Supporting LGBTQ Youth

Photo by  Steve Johnson  on  Unsplash

In 2016 we saw the introduction of a law that mandated people to use bathrooms that matched their birth gender. Since then we’ve seen lawsuits on both sides of the issue. Recently the US military stated that you must identify with your biological sex to serve. Connecticut banned conversion therapy a year ago and Puerto Rico did the same just this spring.

Research suggests that LGBTQ youth are at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, suicide ideation and attempts, substance abuse, and sexual health risks - not because of their innate identity but because of how we message and support them as a society. So what does this mean to our youth who are still figuring out who they are and how they fit in the world? And how do we support them?

My colleague, Sarah Cody, and I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Laura M. I. Saunders, Licensed Psychologist, Assistant Director of Psychology and Clinical Coordinator of The Right Track/LGBTQ Young Adult Services at the Institute of Living, Hartford Hospital. She walked us first through some of the terminology to help us have conversations with our families about these and other related issues. And she leaves us with practical strategies to help support all of our youth.

Please subscribe to our podcast to hear more topics. And, if you know of someone who might enjoy, feel free to forward us along.

And We Thought Ditching the Plastic Sippy Cups Would Do It!

Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) affect our daily lives in ways we don’t even sometimes realize. There has been so much talk in recent years about BPAs in baby bottles, sippy cups and food packaging, and I know that i ran out replaced all my plastic with glass and stainless steel. But it doesn’t stop there.

EDCs can be found in our homes, offices, and even in our general environment. This pollution messes with our hormonal systems and contributes to obesity, asthma and illness such as Type 2 Diabetes. There are political and economic influences that have encouraged the use of these chemicals and it’s important to understand that consumers have purchasing power to help promote a safer, cleaner environment.

Photo by  NeONBRAND  on  Unsplash

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

My colleague, Sarah Cody, and I were grateful to be joined by Dr. Leonardo Trasande, a pediatrician, professor, and world-renowned researcher who helped us learn how to limit our exposure to EDCs. You can listen to our interview on our latest podcast. And if you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share it.

Talking About Specializing and Parent Involvement in Sports

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

We are seeing kids’ sports taken to a new level. We often sign our kids up for sports to teach them some new physical and social skills, and I know I assume it’s good for them to be moving. Kids have a lot of pressure on them and this is one more thing - and perhaps not a healthy thing to add into the mix. An article in Hartford Courant questions when a child should - and if a child should - specialize in sports? And, a in a recent article, Science Daily suggests that “Rushing kids to specialize in one sport may not be best path to success.”

And while we’re on the subject, I have recently been shocked by the parent conversations and engagement during kids’ games. What do you do when you hear something inappropriate? Are you guilty of getting a little too excited?

In our podcast, Parenting Beyond the Headlines, Sarah Cody and I talked with Peter Vint, an internationally recognized expert in sport science, performance technology, and sport analytics about the topic. He offers great advice on how to think about our approach to sports as parents and how to encourage kids to think about their own goals.