The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

What parents want to know

With work, family and finances, modern parenting can sometimes feel like a juggling act. The Gerber Life parenting blog gives parents advice and tips to help you take on today-and plan for tomorrow. Our parenting blog offers articles on saving money, college planning, family insurance, parenting tips, living green, and health and safety. Although we may not be able to manage your retirement account, drive your all-star athlete to practice, or cook your family's favorite three-cheese lasagna, our parenting blog can provide you with ideas, advice and tips so that you can focus on what matters most: raising healthy, happy kids. We invite you to join the conversation and enjoy our parenting blog.

  1. Creating a Budget You Can Live With and Grow With

    It doesn’t ever seem like there’s enough money to do all that is needed. We’ve got a few ideas that will help you stretch your dollar just a bit more.

    Here are a few tips for creating a realistic and financially sound budget:

    The Basics

    1. Get out your bank statements from the past three months, and then…

    • On a piece of paper or on the computer, make two columns. Jot down your monthly income sources in one column, and your monthly expenses in the other column.
    • Distinguish between your fixed (unchanging) expenses – such as rent or mortgage payment, cable TV bill, car payment and minimum credit card bill – and your changing expenses – such as groceries, entertainment and eating out.

    2. In the “expense” category, include an amount to save and an amount for unknown expenses.

    • Save about 5 to 10 percent of your monthly income, to go into a savings account.
    • Set up an automatic transfer into your savings account each month.
    • Add a buffer for unknown expenses, such as car or home repairs. Not sure how much money to set aside? Think bigger than you might need. That way, if you don’t spend the entire amount, you can make an extra payment on a credit card, or deposit the money into your savings account, or carry forward the amount to next month.

    3. Do the math.

    • Tabulate the total for monthly income and the total for monthly expenses.
    • Subtract the total expenses from the total income.
    • If there’s money left over under “income,” put it in a savings account. Coming up short? Take a good, hard look at where you’re overspending – and start to cut, cut, cut.

    Some Ways to Cut Back

    • If you go to the movies, go to matinees. They’re much cheaper than nighttime movies, and a great way to spend time with your family. Remember to take snacks with you, rather than buying expensive snacks at the movie theater. Better yet, rent a film and have a movie night at home.
    • Make several large meals, and use the leftovers during the rest of the week.
    • Use grocery-store coupons, but only buy what you need. Stay away from buying in bulk.
    • Shop at consignment shops and outlet centers for bargains on clothing and home decor items.
    • Instead of buying that expensive mocha frappuccino, search the Internet for a recipe for mocha frappuccino and then make it yourself for a fraction of the cost.

    With a good, sound budget in place, you can sleep better at night and start building a nest egg for the future – and set a good example for the kids.

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    Categories: Saving Money
     
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  2. How to Stay Fit and Fabulous When You Have Kids and Oh So Little Time

    The kids, the laundry, the job, the bills – when is there time to exercise? Fact is, if you don’t exercise, you won’t be able to take care of the kids, the laundry, etc… Here’s how you can do a squat here and some cardio there, when you seemingly don’t have even a minute to call your own.

    • Walk around the neighborhood. Bring your child along in a stroller or carry your child in a baby carrier or sling.

    • Jump rope or jump on your kid’s trampoline. It’s great cardio and great “together time.”

    • Dance. Gather the kids, put on their favorite music and shake those hips.

    • Do squats, lunges, calf raises and crunches. You can do one exercise while watching TV, another while brushing your teeth, and another before showering.

    • Take the stairs whenever you can. Ten minutes a day of this and your legs and glutes will thank you.

    Try to make it a habit to do something good for yourself – such as exercising. Even with little time on your hands, you can aim to fit it all in, so you can be fit and fabulous.

     

    “A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
    —Tenneva Jordan, author

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    Categories: Health & Safety
     
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  3. Considerations When Saving for College

    Whether your child is still learning to walk and mobilize their toddler tools, or moving deftly toward college age, you should be saving for college. Here are some things to consider to start saving for college properly.

    1. Current age of your child. Children have a habit of growing up much too fast for most parents’ taste. If you haven’t yet experienced this phenomenon, you will. When you look at your 15 year old, you’ll see him/her at age two or three—which was only “yesterday.”
    2. College costs continue to increase unabated. When current Baby Boomers went to college, “expensive” tuition was around $2,000 to $3,000 per semester. This level applied only to more prestigious schools, like Harvard College, Boston College, and Stanford University. Today, in most cases, you merely need to add another “0” to estimate tuition.
    3. Classic and newer options to save for college. Classic
      college savings options include savings accounts, CDs, investment accounts, mutual funds, annuities, and U.S. Savings Bonds. Newer college planning choices include 529 plans and Coverdell education savings accounts. The Gerber Life College Plan is another excellent option. It provides a “guaranteed benefit payment” for children expected to begin college in 10 to 20 years.
    4. Your current and projected financial condition. The recession of 2007 to 2009 taught us multiple lessons about financial uncertainty. Many who believed their jobs and finances were stable and secure received unpleasant surprises. We also learned that even the largest university endowment funds, from which most scholarship money comes, can be decimated by a down economy. Until—and unless—these funds recover strongly, millions of scholarship dollars will remain unavailable.
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    Categories: College Planning
  4. Three Things to Look for in a Life Insurance Company

    If you’re purchasing life insurance for the first time, selecting a life insurance company can be a confusing process. Here are three things to look for in a life insurance company.

    1. Life Insurance Policies Offered
      If a company doesn’t offer the type of life insurance coverage you’re looking for—whether that’s a whole life insurance plan or affordable term life insurance—you’ll want to look elsewhere. Search life insurance company websites or call a representative to find out if a company has a policy to fit your needs.
    2. Stability and Reputation of the Life Insurance Company
      A life insurance policy is a long-term investment. You want to be sure your money is safe, and that your life insurance company will cash in your policy under the agreed-upon terms. Check Better Business Bureau ratings and look for a company with a long-standing, solid reputation.
    3. Life Insurance Cost
      You shouldn’t shop for life insurance based on cost alone, but it can be an important deciding factor. Make sure the life insurance company you select offers fair rates for the amount of coverage you need.
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  5. Daily Recycle Habits Save Money and the Environment

    Learning to adopt a daily recycle habit is easier than many other beneficial behaviors. Compared to quitting smoking, becoming a thoroughly positive person, or going back to college after years away from school, helping to create a healthy environment is a walk in the park.

    Establishing the Recycle Habit

    You may have heard that new habits can be formed in as little as 10 to 14 days. Everyday conservation and recycling can fit into this fast and easy time frame. These few tips will make it even easier and successful.

    Simple Recycling Suggestions

    • Get everyone involved. If you have a spouse and/or family, get them all involved, even small children. After a short period, everyone in your household will be consistent recyclers.
    • Locate a good area for recycle bins. While you needn’t prominently display your recycle bins, put them in a convenient place to promote the recycling habit and make it convenient to regularly (daily is good) deposit your goodies.
    • Learn to identify types of plastic (marked on bottom of containers). Many plastic products are recyclable, but some are not. Plastic containers come with their “code” number at or near the bottom. Learn which are recycling candidates and which are not. If possible, reuse those that cannot be recycled.
    • Do it daily. Like most habits, daily recycle activities must be practiced. Urge all family members to perform their particular recycling task daily. This keeps your home neat and hastens recycle habit development.
    • Recycle newspapers, magazines, and junk mail. These items can all be recycled, but keep them dry whenever possible. Newsprint and ink can degrade and “run” when wet. Even newspaper stock can break down when saturated. If possible, tie up these items with a piece of biodegradable string for easy handling.

    To further a healthy environment, opt out of receiving junk mail (opt-out.cdt.org), which reduces your paper recycle volume, saves trees, and requires less fuel to transport your donations to the dump or recycling collection station.

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    Categories: Living Green