• Posts Tagged ‘parents’

    5 Things Parents Routinely Overpay For

    by  • October 5, 2012 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Elle writes over at Couple Money, helping couples to reach financial freedom by living one one income and having fun with the second.

    baby elle

    Becoming parents has changed our lives dramatically and so far it’s been a blast. One of the first things we noticed is how our finances have changed with having a little one. The common warning we heard from well meaning friends was that babies will drain your finances like nothing else.

    While certain expenses like health insurance premiums can take a big chunk out of our wallets, there are some baby expenses we as parents can reduce (and hopefully redirect towards other future goals).

    Baby Expenses That you Can Save Big Money On

    During my pregnancy I decided to track our real life baby expenses on our site as a way to give first time parents an idea of what to expect financially. Thankfully other parents have been kind to us and shared some of their tips as we asked both online and offline for their advice.

    Over the series I noticed that there a few things that parents can overpay for if they are not careful (which can be done when you’re adjusting to your little one’s sleep schedule).

    Baby Food/Formula

    Feeding your baby is essential, but costs can vary widely. If you’re formula feeding look at buying in bulk (perhaps a warehouse club) or consider a subscription service like Amazon Mom, which offers some pretty competitive discounts on foods.

    As your baby gets older and is trying out purees and solid food, you may find it more cost effective to make your own baby food. Some parents have also enjoyed having the freedom to prepare some unique dishes for their little ones to try out.

    Breast Pumps

    For us we went with breastfeeding our baby girl and even though it can save you a lot of money, buying a breast pump can be quite expensive. Before you pick up a breast pump ask yourself how you plan on using it. For those who have to go back to work full-time at an office, getting a portable unit that can automatically pump can be worth the money. You can rent a pump from your local hospital to see if you really need the top of the line model.

    Thankfully besides the deals offered online for the pumps, there is a tax break that you may want to take advantage of when you file next year.


    This was by far the most common expense people warned us about. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be a huge money drain. Based on some friends’ recommendations we signed up for a disposable diaper subscription through Amazon, bring our diaper costs to around $20/month. What’s great about going online is that we have it delivered right to our house, which also saves us some time.

    A few months ago we also made an adjustment to a hybrid of cloth diapers/disposable diapers. The transition was a bit surprising at first, but it’s a good fit for out routine.

    For those who are interested in cloth diapering, there are several great options. For us, we’re using FuzziBunz.

    Baby Clothes

    We did not imagine how quickly our baby girl went through clothes the first year. Even with gifts from grandparents and friends, she was outgrowing clothes every week it seemed.

    Don’t underestimate the temptation to grab and buy adorable outfits in tiny sizes. It’s amazing how much is out there for baby clothes and it can be very easy to drop a lot of money for outfits that will be worn for a couple of weeks (yes we’ve even had outfits that we were once!).

    Save yourself a lot of heart ache by using a baby consignment shop if possible. We have one near our neighborhood and we’ve been able to pick out some awesome clothes there at a fraction of the price you’d see at stores. The quality is fantastic, with tags still on some of the outfits we pick up. When we’re done we can pass it down to friends or family, consign it back and get some credit for future purchases, or save it for future kids.

    Baby Toys

    My recommendation for toys is the same as clothes – look for a consignment store that specializes in baby gear. They tend to check their wares more closely and you can get some fantastic deals with them. Of course like many parents we can’[t resist grabbing some new toys time to time, but it’s great having a cost effective option nearby as well.

    Money Saved -> Baby Fund

    What’s great with saving money on baby expenses is how you can use that money for bigger financial goals that you may have for your little one. For parents looking at building a college fund, optimizing baby expenses can be a wonderful way to jump-start the fund.

    Thoughts on Baby Expenses

    I’d love to hear from you about your take on baby expenses. How have you found ways to save on baby and kid expenses? What has been the easiest fix? What has been the hardest? What sites and stores do you use when you shop for baby gear?

    When There is No Parental Cushion

    by  • April 24, 2012 • Tagged: ,  • Comments


    Learn to Say "No"

    Image: 401K

    Drawn in by all of the media hoopla, I recently found myself watching the first episode of Lena Dunham’s new show “Girls.” Early in the show, Dunham’s character explains to her parents that their decision to cut her off financially (in her mid-twenties, two years after graduating from college) is unfair and unrealistic, because all of her friends receive financial assistance from their parents.

    My views on the show aside, that was the (first) point where I stopped and thought to myself, “Ha ha, what?” Because while it might be realistic – I spent my first year out of college working with a great many twenty-somethings in New York who are at least in part supported by their parents – it makes me pause and consider how my generation handles finances.

    As readers know, I lived at home for a year in order to save up some money and pay off my college loans in full. For this, I’m very grateful to my mother – many parents wouldn’t agree to this arrangement. And yet the moment I moved out, it never would have occurred to me to ask my mother for money, for anything, ever. Indeed, while I was living at home, when her financial situation changed for the worse, I started paying a small, but not insignificant, amount of rent. I view the situation in this way: my mother helped pay for college, which is an incredible help; she allowed me to live at home to make my post-college financial transition easier; she has her own finances to deal with and no large sums of money to throw about; she does not “owe” me anything, and to expect some sort of financial contribution to my adult life would be – here comes the judgment! – profoundly selfish and spoiled.

    That said, I can sympathize with taking money when it’s offered. I grew up in an affluent area, and as a friend from a family where finances are generally not an issue once told me, “It’s hard to say no when your parents are offering you things.” I get that! Why would any sensible person turn down a hand-me-down car, or a spot on a family vacation, when it’s being offered? But I think a key issue for our generation to prove that we are functional, financially independent adults is to learn to say no, particularly when we know that we should. A different friend once confided that her parents had offered to help her pay for law school. “But didn’t your parents have to take out loans for you and your sister to go to college?” I asked, “And didn’t they take out a second mortgage on their house to finance those loans? And didn’t you tell me that they have credit card debt? Do you really think they can afford law school tuition right now? Have you talked about their retirement with them?” My friend agreed – it was generous, but unrealistic, and a prime example of knowing when it’s time to cut your financial cord.

    My husband is in a similar situation – his parents helped him to pay for college, and thereafter he was/is on his own, in part because he views this at as the adult thing to do, and in part because his parents are now putting his sisters through college and, like my mother, do not have large sums of money to send our way. How does this affect our finances? The main issue revolves around our emergency fund and other savings accounts. If something catastrophic were to happen, we are on our own, financially. Many of my friends, on the other hand, could turn to their parents with the knowledge that they have the money to help them out. And when we want to buy a house one day? We’ll be footing the bill independently – no stowed-away down payment fund waits for us later on (unless I have a very rich, heretofore unknown relative who would like to fund my dream colonial).

    Of course, like so many financial matters, how your parents do or don’t support you can vary greatly given the circumstances. But if Warren Buffet can teach his children how to handle their money, and push them out of the financial nest, then I don’t think it’s unfair to expect my generational cohort to support themselves as best they can.

    What are your views on early financial independence? How do (or would) you plan to support your children?

    Finances and Family Review

    by  • February 22, 2010 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    This morning Her and I were featured on the Chicago Public Radio show Eight Forty-Eight. If this is your first time here, welcome! The portion of our interview that was broadcasted included our thoughts on how we deal with the relationship of finances and family. Here are some of the posts that go into more detail on that delicate balance:

    I talk about my parents (mom) at length in a few posts:

    How Much Do You Tell Your Parents?

    My Parents Keep Up With The Jonses

    Raise your children to rely on them – Asian Culture And Finances

    (Un)Happy Mother’s Day

    The situation with Her’s parents is nicely summed up in this post: Proactive Parent Protection

    …oh, and by the way, we’re not debt free…but we do have a positive net worth these days. We don’t have any revolving credit card debt, although we do still use them for the rewards but pay them off every month. We also still have about $50,000 of student loans to pay off, but ~$6,500 of that is at a 1.9% APR for life through a generous balance transfer, and the remainder of the balance is a federal loan with a low enough rate that we’re not freaking out about it. This is a far cry from the ~$18,000 in credit card debt and ~$130,000 in student loan debt that we had when we started this blog.

    Give Us Advice On How To Help Her Out With My Mom

    by  • February 6, 2008 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Another day, another post about dealing with my mom.

    While my mom’s antics are quite bearable for me, it is mainly because I’ve been dealing with her all of my life. Her, on the other hand, has only had a few years of experience with directly dealing with my mom. Her has been great about doing stuff with my mom and respecting my mom’s cultural wishes.

    There are times, though, when my mom gets a little out of hand, especially with questions dealing with finances. When Her and I are together, I can easily deflect direct questions about finances; my mom has no qualms about asking anything from me directly. But what should Her do when my mom asks her a financial question and I’m not there?

    Here’s a recent example: Her and my mom went to a wedding shower of another close family friend. Of course since we’ve been planning our wedding for, uh, forever, my mom turned some of the guests’ attention to that topic. My mom and her friends were asking Her direct questions such as, “How much did _______ cost?” Her understandably felt uncomfortable and ended up divulging the information to them. Hey, a bunch of feisty Asian women can be terribly intimidating…you know…all the ninja stuff and everything.

    So, dear readers, we ask for your advice:

    When asked by my mom a direct finance-related question and I’m not around, how should Her handle it?

    Is my mom out of line?

    How should I give my mom a karate-chop to have her stop putting Her in uncomfortable positions like that?

    Keeping Up With The Joneses: Mom’s Ring Finger

    by  • February 1, 2008 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Ah, my crazy mama. I may have posted about her a few times before. One commenter even said she enjoyed my mom’s antics. Here’s another one for your enjoyment.

    A few years ago after both of her sons were engaged, my mother seemed to have noticed that her simple, yet elegant, wedding band wasn’t enough for her ring finger compared to her future daughter-in-laws’ adornments. My mom had told us numerous times that she doesn’t wear her engagement ring because her diamond was small. I can say that’s true because I’ve never seen it.

    One day last year we were out at a family function and both Her and I immediately noticed something different about my mom…she had a platinum ring with a LARGE diamond and matching wedding band on her ring finger! When she noticed that Her and I noticed, she again said that her engagement ring was small and wanted to buy a bigger one for herself. I chalked it up to my parents being empty nesters and not knowing what to do with their money.

    Well, fast forward to a few weeks ago: Her and I were having dinner with my parents, when I noticed an entirely NEW diamond band around my mom’s ring finger. Her noticed as well and we gave each other the “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” look at each other. A little later during dinner my mom showed off her ring to Her and again recited to us the story of how her original engagement ring diamond was too small, so she got herself a new one.

    I know what you’re thinking: ANOTHER new one? What happened to the second one? Answer: I have no idea. It’s like it never existed. Maybe we made it up. Maybe we’re the crazy ones.

    I wish my dad talked a little more, because I’d be a little pissed off if I were him. My mom essentially bitch-slapped him and said, “Your gifts to me were so crappy that I went out and had to buy 2 rings to make up for it, biatch.”

    I guess my mother’s ring envy got the best of her. Twice. Maybe because both of her sons got engaged she thought she had to try and upstage both of the new engagement rings. Who knows.

    How Much Do You Tell Your Parents?

    by  • November 9, 2007 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    I love blogging about my mom. Really. She gives me so much to talk about. My dad doesn’t speak much, and he’s not crazy, so I don’t write much about him.

    Ever since I’ve been more or less financially independent from my parents, I feel as if they don’t need to know the financial minutiae of my life. When I first obtained my current job, I divulged my salary information to my mom; however, back then I did live at home and was eating their food. Now, I don’t tell her much – currently, my mom doesn’t know exactly how much I make. That doesn’t stop my mom from asking, though.

    I wouldn’t mind so much if she asked maybe once a year or so. It gets annoying because everything eventually turns to “how much did it cost?” Here’s a fun scenario:

    Me: Mom, I’m running a half-marathon!

    Mom: Oh really? How much does that cost?


    You can substitute my first line with anything, from “I like midget bondage” to “Oh my god I sliced off my thumb” to “No, Mario Lopez will always be A.C. Slater to me.” She will, in some way, ask about the cost.

    Now, here’s what happens when she’s asks about money coming in:

    Mom: So how much was your bonus?

    Me: It was a nice amount…

    Mom: You should give some to me and your dad.

    Again, you can substitute “bonus” with “salary”, “amount of Christmas presents”, “tax refund” or “illegal mob money” and still get the same result.

    Where I start to get angry is when my mom starts asking me about Her’s salary, bonuses, cost of whatever. That is certainly not her business. She has even asked Her directly about some money issues. I thought that was way out of line and I told her so.

    Why don’t I like telling her specifics? My mom has a way of using whatever information I give her against me, and possibly Her, for her own evil purposes. Oh mama, you so craaaaaaazy.

    How much financial information do you divulge to your parents? Do they ask you about your finances or do you readily give them information? How has this affected your relationship with them? Do you tell them, or do they ask about your partner’s finances?

    My Parents Keep Up With The Joneses

    by  • November 5, 2007 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    photo: bunchofpants

    When I was growing up, my parents were always pretty good with money. After all, they did pay for two of their son’s college educations, not a small feat for first generation immigrants.

    Since my parents became empty nesters, though, they have been a little frivolous with their money. Now as readers of this blog know, we’re not ones to shy away from luxury or the more-than-occasional-treat. Her and I get a good laugh out of some of things they buy, since we know that the cost really isn’t that significant.

    For example, when Her and I went to my parents’ home during the holidays last year, my mom kept telling us about the wine that she bought from (the now extinct) Marshall Field’s. We opened up a bottle, and offered my mom a glass. She refused because “it all tastes like vinegar and makes her dizzy.” When asked about why she bought the wine, she had no trouble bluntly saying, “Well, your aunt and uncle had it at their house last year.”

    Those same relatives who had the wine at their place also like to travel. They became empty nesters a few years before my parents did, and decided they would take a European vacation. Until then, my mom said absolutely nothing about wanting to ever travel in Europe. Lo and behold, the first year that my parents became empty nesters they took a European vacation, much to the chagrin of my dad. He was so not psyched to go that he didn’t pack until an hour before they had to leave for the airport.

    Have I mentioned that my mom has 2 cars? One that was bought…you guessed it…after my parents’ became empty nesters!

    My poor dad just goes along with all of this. I think he’s okay with it though, because my brother and I helped him put together a home theater for him. Admittedly, he didn’t really want a nice home theater until he saw how awesome my brother’s is, but it genuinely makes him happy to have and use it. His main vice is action movies on DVD, no matter how bad they are; thus, their house is littered with movies starring “Bruce Li” or “Chuk Noris.”

    I don’t feel bad at all empowering my dad to buy crappy DVDs from the $1 bargain bin.

    Mother’s Day: The Aftermath

    by  • May 17, 2007 • Tagged:   • Comments

    Sort of a grim title, huh?

    To make a long story short, everything went fine. We spent a whopping $50 on flowers, a card, some chocolates, and a home cooked brunch for four. Her made some blueberry pancakes and sausages (from my parents’ freezer no less) and set a nice table. I chopped up some onions, spinach, ham, and mushrooms and acted as the omelette guy, making custom made omelettes with the most awesomest omelette pan that Her gave to me for Christmas last year. Of course, to add in some Asian charm, my mother insisted that I fry up some of her homemade egg rolls (which went surprisingly well with the other breakfast items).

    My mom ended up being pretty happy about the whole ordeal and even said that our cooking brunch was cheaper and more relaxing than being out at a restaurant. We may have started a nice new precedent.

    It ended up being a very Happy Mother’s Day.

    (Un)Happy Mother’s Day

    by  • May 10, 2007 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    Two days ago I wrote about the Asian cultural phenomenon of giving back to your parents. As I stated in that post, I don’t mind giving back during special occasions in the form of nice meals at restaurants or nice presents. I don’t mind because I feel like it should come from me, not because there is a cultural expectation or because my parents expect it.

    My mother tends to take this notion the wrong way and as a result often puts us in uncomfortable financial situations. She feels (dare I say) entitled to receive her payback in the way that she chooses – and if she doesn’t get it her way, she’ll bulldoze us until she does. For example, she has no qualms about asking me how much my bonus was and asking for a portion of it (I declined on both questions). This trait of hers is definitely most apparent when it comes to eating out.

    You see, in my family we tend to skimp on presents and place a large emphasis on food. We have a tradition of rallying and celebrating around food. Therefore, whenever there is a birthday or Mother’s/Father’s Day or whatever, we usually go out to eat.

    In fact, the recent $300 meal at Fogo de Chao was my idea to celebrate my dad’s birthday. My mom was very pleased at that place because she knew it was expensive, and even suggested we take her there for her birthday which was two weeks later! When her birthday came around, I asked her if we could do something less expensive because we were still reeling from the previous dinner. Needless to say, she was quite offended. We ended up going to a restaurant where the tab came out to $70 for the two of us.

    About a year ago we went to P.F Chang’s for my dad’s birthday. (Yes I know it is barely Asian food but it was close to where we all work and it was easy on the pocketbook.) Of course we offered to pay. While my dad was fine with the choice of restaurant, my mom definitely felt like we were being cheap, and it showed. She made snarky comments about the low price of the menu items and kept talking about other, nice, and more expensive restaurants. We decided to dine family style, so I suggested that we all pick one item from the menu and then we’ll all share. That apparently did not fly with my mom who then proceeded to order not one, not two, but THREE entrees. What was formerly a wallet friendly meal now ate up (pun somewhat intended) a large chunk of change.

    Now let us fast forward to this upcoming mother’s day. This mother’s day, we decided to actually follow some advice floating around the personal finance blogosphere and instead of taking my mom out to a restaurant for mother’s day brunch, we offered to drive to her house and cook her brunch. So far she is extremely lukewarm to the idea – mainly because we’re not going to spend a lot of money on food for her.

    We’ve already spend close to $400 on food for them in the past two months or so, and we definitely don’t need to spend more. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mind giving back, but not when it is on these terms.

    Raise your children to rely on them – Asian Culture And Finances

    by  • May 8, 2007 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    I grew up as the child of two Asian immigrants (I’m not giving up my actual ethnicity for the sake of some anonymity). My parents came to America over 30 years ago, and have been naturalized citizens for a long time. I was born and raised here in the United States, exposed mainly to U.S. culture but being very familiar with the nuances of our particular brand of Asian culture.

    One of the beliefs that has been ingrained into my head since a very early age is that it is proper and respectful to somehow pay back my parents for all of the years of work and money that they have put into raising me. My mom would always “joke” that when I grew up and made a lot of money I could then buy my parents nice cars, send them on nice vacations, or buy them nice stuff. When my parents told me those things, I knew it was in a half-joking half-serious manner. I knew that my parents worked hard to raise me, so back when I was a kid I dreamed of paying back my parents in lavish ways. This particular sentiment is not just unique to my family or me or just my brand of Asian culture.

    This nuance of Asian culture is expanded upon in this article from the OC Register.

    As the children grow older, parents around the dinner table might brag about their son or daughter’s successful career, followed by frank discussions of how their children help financially. It is not unusual for adult children in Asian families to contribute money to their parents on a monthly basis to help pay for their parents’ mortgages and other living expenses.

    That’s right – giving back by paying mortgages and other living expenses. Here’s a little more:

    “It’s just expected in our culture…our parents raise us and then we help take care of them now that we have good careers. It’s the right thing to do.” Monthly checks of $150 or $300 from each child are not uncommon amounts given to parents. Often it’s not because the parents are in dire financial straits, but because it’s a matter of family duty.

    But others don’t have the luxury of giving much money to their parents:

    “I barely make enough money to cover rent and my student loans…I used to give (my parents) $200 to $300 a month, but it was killing me so I had to stop. They haven’t said anything to me but I know they must think I’m a slacker.”

    And others still give even when they don’t have the means:

    For a while last year, Mai was laid off from his computer engineer job at Hewlett-Packard and couldn’t give his parents a portion of his earnings. Still, he plunked down about $6,000 to buy them a vacation package to China.

    In our household, we’re figuring out how all of this plays into our financial life. The primary reason for this is that Her is NOT Asian – she’s as American and white as you can get. In the way that she was raised, the flow of money generally goes from the older generation to the younger generation. For us, not only is this a financial issue, but also a cultural one as well. While going out to nice dinners and giving nice presents during birthdays and Christmas are the norm for both of us, Her is uneasy with these extra financial cultural obligations and has offered to compromise.

    Here are some questions for you, dear readers:

    Do you give money to your parents other than for special occasions?

    Do they expect (whether it is spoken or not) to be repaid financially for their work as a parent?

    What does your significant other think about this cultural repayment plan?

    I’m really wanting to hear what Mapgirl, Jim, LaMoneyGuy, and any other Asian personal finance bloggers (or just regular Asians) have to say about this.