Family Column

This column focuses on family finances, from starting a family to planning a meal, your family is probably the largest expense in your budget and undoubtably the most important too! We will try to cover all aspects of family planning in this column.


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 Family 
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Sittercity Review: High Tech Way to Find a Babysitter

Babysitter NeededThere may be nothing harder than handing over your child to a sitter for the first time. Even though you may need a break, a date night, or simply to go to work, putting your trust in another person to care for your little person can be tough.

While you will probably feel a bit of angst no matter what, there are modern resources that can make you feel more confident about who you entrust to care for your child.

People used to find sitters through word-of-mouth. If the sitter could keep one family happy, then she would soon have many more families calling her. There was no better way to vet a sitter than through a friend’s referral. While that technique is still used, there are other alternatives now.

One of the alternatives that I have relied on heavily is Sittercity.

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 Family 
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5 Homemade Low Cost Toddler Halloween Costumes

Toddler CostumesYesterday, we shared five awesome homemade baby Halloween costume ideas, today we’re doing the same for the slightly older kiddos – the toddlers.

Is there any kid who doesn’t love Halloween? They love dressing up and visiting houses to get all that candy. Toddlers are just starting to appreciate the bounty of a full sack of candy, and they are just becoming aware of themselves and their appearance. They know when they look cute, and they like receiving compliments. Toddlers also enjoy playing dress up, and with the right Halloween costume, they can play dress up all year long.

Manufacturers cater to parents who want to indulge their children (and themselves) with toddler costumes that run $40 to $60, typically, but there is no reason to spend that much money. Instead, create your own adorable costume, and you won’t have to worry about your child getting it dirty or playing in it too roughly. Here are some ideas:

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 Family 
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5 Homemade Baby Halloween Costume Guide

Baby PumpkinMy daughter was born just a few days before Halloween, and even though she was too little to have any idea what was going on, we still wanted to dress her up and take her around the neighborhood with our other child. I am a sucker for a baby in an adorable Halloween costume, but there is no sense in spending $30 or more on a Halloween costume she will only wear for a few hours (and it’s not like they’ll fit next month, let alone next year!). Plus, many of the fancier costumes look cute, but they have itchy material or accessories that will likely bother the baby (like rhinestones).

And if you think we’re a victim of holiday creep, we wanted to get you this guide as early as possible (though costumes and candy are already out in stores!) so you can plan ahead. Tomorrow, we’ll have a guide for toddlers.

Instead, consider one of these adorable, low cost costumes that you can probably make from materials you already have around the house (and yes, a baby pumpkin is on the list):

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 Education, Family 
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How to Financially Prepare for Having a Baby

Some may say that there is no way to completely prepare for having a baby, but there is plenty you can do to make the path as smooth as possible financially for baby’s arrival. (I can’t help you with the sleepless nights except to tell you that eventually, though not as soon as you would like, you will be able to sleep through the night again!)

According to the USDA, a child born in 2010 will cost $226,920 to raise to the age of 17. That number doesn’t even include college expenses! Even if you take measures to cut costs, raising a child is still an expensive proposition. Ideally, your preparation should begin before baby is even conceived.

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 Family 
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Offbeat Ways to Make Money as a Stay at Home Parent

I quit my full-time job in June, 2011 because the cost of having an infant and toddler in day care was prohibitive and would eat up most of my salary.  However, we couldn’t financially survive on my husband’s salary alone, no matter how many corners I cut.  Instead, I set about finding a way to work from home around my children’s schedules to help supplement the family income.

More and more frequently, one parent chooses to stay home to care for children to avoid the high cost of daycare.  Luckily, there are plenty of ways to earn money that offer you a flexible schedule.

Of course, there are the traditional work at home jobs that many people think of such as freelance writing and babysitting, but if you need to supplement a work at home job you already have or you don’t want to be committed to a job, these offbeat ideas might just work for you:
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 Family 
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How to Build a Children’s Home Library On the Cheap

The best way to raise a reader is to read to your child often when they are young.  Children should also have access to books.  However, if you buy books at retail price, you are looking at spending $4 to $8 or more per book, which can add up quickly.  If you do spend that much money per book, it can be especially frustrating if your child is young and frequently rips or colors in books.  (My first one never did this, but my younger two did this more than a few times.)

Instead of spending a lot of money on books that your child may inadvertently ruin, consider buying low cost books in the following ways:

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 Family 
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Best Summer Jobs for Teens

Lifeguards at workSummer has arrived, and that means that teenagers are looking for a way to make more money. Summer is a great time for teenagers to switch to full time work. High school students can learn a lot from a job, and summer time offers the chance for teens to make even more money, since they don’t have to work around school and extracurricular activities.

If your teenager is trying to figure out how to make a little more money, here are some ideas for great summer jobs for teenagers:

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 Family, Personal Improvement 
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How to Treat Poison Ivy – And Kill It If You Know Where It Is

Poison IvyOne of the staple of summer, it seems, is poison ivy. Whether you stumble upon it while camping, or whether you’ve got a problem with it on your property, poison ivy can cause a great deal of discomfort. Your reaction to poison ivy depends largely on your body chemistry, and how it responds to urushiol, an oily resin common to poison ivy, as well as to poison sumac and poison oak.

Reactions to poison ivy vary. My husband is quite sensitive to poison ivy. He breaks out in severe rashes when he comes in contact with it. I, on the other hand, am not as sensitive. While contact will produce some discomfort, it is not usually the full-blown rash my husband experiences. In most cases, poison ivy isn’t a serious problem. However, you will want to treat it as best you can to alleviate the discomfort until the symptoms subside.

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