Archives For Relationships and Money

It’s Only Money

Brent Pittman —  10/18/2012
Hip Family

My family.

We talk a lot about money at On Target Coach, but in the end it’s only money.

Money is needed to pay the bills and have a decent quality of life, but money is just a tool and a way to achieve our goals.

I advocate being a good steward (doing smart stuff) with topics like budgeting and how to pay off debt, yet money is not the final goal.

Faith and family are more important than the size of our bank accounts. It’s only money.

A Poem About Money: It’s Only Money

Money can’t buy love or make the stars shine above.

It’s only money. 

Money is just dollars and cents, but doesn’t bestow on us common sense.

It’s only money. 

An audit of our checkbook will reveal all the dreams and desires we hope to fulfill.

It’s only money.

Running after money can separate us from the ones we love, leaving us little time to laugh and to hug.

It’s only money.

Money is an idol if we are not aware, it can become trap in which to ensnare.

It’s only money.

Money is nice to hold in your hand, yet makes certain demands of your time and your soul.

It’s only money. 

Faith, Hope, Love it cannot buy. Money is just a tool we need to survive.

It’s only money. 

My goal is for your relationships and finances to improve as you learn How to Do Money Better! Please subscribe so you can stay informed of future articles.

This week will be challenging to say the least. My wife and I (ok so mostly my wife) will begin potty training our child. We have been anticipating this day and it is finally upon us. [Budgeting is a Lot Like Potty Training Your Child]

Hopefully potty training boot camp will end up saving us considerably on the cost of diapers and baby wipes. Those things are expensive!

The Cost of Diapers

We opted for disposable diapers over cloth diapers for various reasons: ease of use, community washers, and I just don’t want to touch poop.–I’m willing to add a line item for this in our budget. I know my eco-friendly friends they aren’t the best for the environment–please don’t judge us too much.

How much have these diapers and wipes cost us? I haven’t kept a close track like Budgets Are Sexy with his Child Cost Tracker. I took a quick look over the past 22 months and it averages out to around $55 a month. $55 x 22 = $1,210 we’ve spent on diapering our boy.

Wow! His diapers could have paid rent one month or funded 1/5 of a ROTH IRA. Hopefully diapering is about to become less expensive.

The Cost of Preparing for Potty Training

We have a minimal cost as we prepare for our 3 day potty training  adventure.

  • Potty Book- Free. I just looked online and it costs $24.00, but someone passed it on to us. We’ll need to purchase the book later.
  • Kids toilet- Hand me down = free
  • 2 Five packs of big boy underwear- Cars and Thomas the Train $23.98 (we paid premium for ones he’ll like)
  • Crayons, stickers, prizes $14.11
  • Taxes $3.33
  • Total $41.42 

Projected Savings of Potty Training

According to the University of MIchigan Health Systems, the average age for potting training girls is 29 months and boys is 31 months. They also state that 98% of children are fully potty trained by 36 months.

If our boy is a fast learner and can figure out this potty training by his 23rd month instead of his 31st month we’re looking at more than $440 of savings on diapers (costs have been higher as his sizes have increased).

Good thing since he’s eating costs are rising. He’ll also qualify to attend preschool which may help us increase our income should we choose.

Have you potty trained your child? What did you do with all the extra diaper money you saved? 


My boy learning how to ride his Radio Flyer

All parents think their kids are cute. Thankfully in our case, our kid really is cute. People stop and tell us all the time and add, “He should be in commercials.” All that is going to our head and we think–why not?

We live in Los Angeles and people from all over the world come here to make it in “the industry”. Maybe our red head toddler could get a few gigs to save for college or 1st car. Our businesses could also hire my son for marketing and use that money to start a Roth IRA for him.

We are realistic and don’t really want our kid to become some burnt out crazy child star, we’d be thrilled with a gig or two.

If it doesn’t work out, we at least had a laugh or two.

How to Begin Your Child’s Acting Career in Los Angeles

1. First, you’ll need a really cute kid and/or one with special talents and dynamic personality. Most kids fit this bill, so let’s move on.

2. You’ll need to move to Los Angeles to be near the action and ready to trek out to auditions on a moments notice. I hear there is a whole community of child actors in Toluca Hills for pilot season.

3. Time for some professional head shots. These need to be high quality, not taken on your iphone. I’d recommend Jay Todd, he’s great with kids.

4. Find a top notch agent who will find opportunities for your cute kid. They’ll take 10% of your earnings, but hey without them you’ll get zilch. If any agent wants money upfront, run away. Read more about agents and managers here. For a listings of AFTRA agents click here.

5. Wait and pray for the phone to ring. In the meantime, you’ll need to iron out more financial and legal details while you’re waiting for the auditions.

Finances and Legal Aspects for Child Actors in Los Angeles

You’ll need to iron out these details before you start hauling your kid to auditions and a contract is signed. A good agent should be able to help navigate the legal waters and ensure compliance.

1. Establish a bank account or trust for your future child actor. For California residents this is called a Coogan Account or blocked trust account. This account protects the child’s earnings until the age of 18. The Coogan Law states that within 15 days of being paid, 15% of the gross income must be deposited in the trust and a copy of the bank statement sent to the employer for proof.

Optional banks that offer Coogan Accounts:

2. Make sure you’re compliant with California child labor laws by having an 1) entertainment work permit and 2) a work permit for your minor child. Learn how to apply for these at here.

3. Find a good lawyer to review any contracts before signing. You don’t want to lock your child into terms or conditions that you don’t agree with.

4. In between auditions is a great time for you child to take acting classes or network with other parents of child actors.

Above all have fun and make sure your child is also having fun.

Do you have any tips for child actors? 

steam locomotive

Are you and your spouse riding the same financial train? Photo credit Mercedes.

I often get calls or emails from one spouse who is highly concerned about their family finances. Too often it is the wife calling, but that is a article for another time.

After speaking for a few minutes, I ask the questions that lets me know if they’ll be successful or not. [10 Reasons Why Your Marriage and Budget Aren’t Working]

“What does your spouse think about your finances? Can we get them on the phone?”

I get a wide range of responses like:

  1. They don’t know I’m calling.
  2. Their spouse is the problem.
  3. My spouse is too busy to deal with money.
  4. My spouse and I agree we need help, but I’m doing the calling (this is a rare response).
We then discuss that they’ll have to work together in order for their family finances to be successful.

How to Get a Spouse on Board the Financial Train

The problem of course is one spouse has the motivation and desire to make changes, but the other spouse isn’t there yet. The couple will need to be on the same financial train in order for this to work. [I Now Pronounce You a Joint Venture]

A crucial conversation will have to occur to convince the reluctant partner to get on the financial train.

I’ll lay out a few tips on how to have this conversation about money:

1. Examine your own emotions and reasons for wanting to get your financial house in order. It may be because you’re scared, overburdened, have a lack of security, fear the future, or are tired from dealing with the financial stress alone.

2. Tell your spouse you want to talk and set a time. “Hey, honey. I’d really like to discuss something important with you tonight after the kids are in bed.”

3. Clear your schedule, turn off the T.V., put the kids to bed–do whatever you have to make sure you’re alone with your spouse and you have their attention.

4. Share your emotions and reasons for wanting to work on your personal finances together. Don’t demand, nag, or bring up bad habits. Just share your heart and begin a conversation–be sure to listen.

“Sweetheart, I feel really scared about our finances and I need your help.”

“Baby, I’m feeling really stressed dealing with the bills and collectors, can you help me?”

If you have a decent marriage, your spouse will hear your cries for help and gladly step in. They might not have known you were feeling this way or known the extent of the problem.

If you share this and your spouse still turns a deaf ear, then there is a chance you’ve got serious marital issues that require a consultation with a counselor or clergy member.

5. Have a Plan- If your spouse agrees, then have a plan or idea of what to do next. Start a budget, meet with a financial coach, attend Financial Peace University, or have another plan of action that you can both agree on. [Budgeting for Couples and Common Money Fights]

If you follow these steps, you’ll be pulling out of the station on the same financial train heading towards a better marriage and financial situation. All aboard!

Have you ever had to convince a spouse to get on board with your finances? How did you accomplish this?

Shelves of Glue

Is your wallet ready for back to school shopping?

Summer is almost over and its time to think about returning to school for millions of students.

Those jeans little Johnny wore last year have shrunk up to his knees and the duct tape has worn off his backpack.

That means its time to start your back to school shopping. No doubt you’ve already been bombarded by back to school advertisements from the media.

Back to school shopping is a big money maker, second only to Christmas. Back to school shopping can make a big dent in the budget if you’re not careful, in fact the average family with kids K-12 will spend $688.62 according to a NRF survey.

I’ll share a few ideas to save money during this back to school shopping season, so you’ll have extra cash for their college accounts.

Back to School Shopping Savings

Shop Tax Free Days– Most states have back to school shopping dates where you don’t pay taxes. How great is that? See if your state has a sales tax holiday.

Shopping Lists– Schools will have lists of items you’ll need to buy from the individual teachers or a general school list. Some schools might even have them online. Use the lists to buy what you need

If you need a sample list check these sample back to school shopping list:

K-5 Class Supply List from El Oro Way Elementary

6-8 Suggest Class Supply List from Sequoia Middle School

K-12 from Real Simple. For high school it depends on the classes they take, so check with their specific teacher.

Wants vs. Needs- Teach your child to separate needs from wants when shopping for school supplies. They want a new calculator, but their one from last year will do just fine if your family is on a tight budget.

Make a Budget– Have each child help make the budget along with their school supplies list. What a great chance to teach financial literary!

This will alleviate many arguments and disagreements in the store since they helped make the budget themselves. When the money runs out, it runs out unless they want to add money for other items.

Bulk Buying– When I was a teacher I gave bonus points for boxes of tissue. If you have multiple children, you can save a lot of money by buying some items in bulk. Just check the cost per item to ensure you’re getting a good deal.

Thrift Stores and Yard Sales– You can find many items at yard sales and thrift stores, including clothes. Your tweens or teens might find that shopping for vintage clothing at thrift stores is actually more fun than buying off the rack clothes, not to mention easier on the budgets they helped to create.

Vintage and 80’s are in style if you’re not up with the latest trends. See more back to school fashion trends for 2012-13 school year.

Free School Supplies– Many different types of groups assist with the high cost of back to school supplies. Try these different sources for free back to school supplies for low income or families in need.

  • Local Companies- Check with local businesses for free back to school supplies.
  • Local Churches- Many churches in urban cities offer assistance.
  • Government agencies may offer back to school fairs or assistance. Local fire and police departements often have school supply drives for low income families.
  • Local Nonprofits: United Way, YMCA , The Salvation Army and many others offer supplies.

Back to School Immunizations– Make sure your child’s shot records are up to date per state requirements. Some communities offer free health fairs for back to to school immunizations or consult your pediatrician about other low cost options if your insurance doesn’t cover these shots.

Back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank if you plan properly. Just remember a good education will help them win scholarships and ensure they won’t come back to live with you later in life!

How do you prepare for back to school shopping? Do you have any tips for back to school shopping savings?

Photo Credit Chelsea Oakes (Creative Commons).

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