The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

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 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.

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 and health and safety.

  1. Beyond Chocolate and Flowers: Unique Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

    January 20, 2022

    It’s February and you know what that means: Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. If survey results are right, most Americans look forward to this annual celebration of love, but the majority also think there’s too much pressure from businesses to overspend on February 14th. Love it or not, the traditional box of chocolate is getting stale, the dozen roses are wilting and we’re just not that into candy hearts anymore. More people are looking for creative and affordable ways to celebrate the annual month of love.

    Here are a few suggestions for putting a fresh spin on the holiday of love without falling into the same old, same old.

    Live every day like Valentine’s Day

    It seems like everyone likes to make a big splash on Valentine’s Day. But wouldn’t it feel more special if it was more spontaneous and not because you’re supposed to do it? What if we expressed our love every day? So how about making an extra special effort on the other 364 days of the year? You don’t need an excuse to say, “I love you.” Just give gifts and make romantic gestures whenever you want to!

    Choose to spend time together

    Americans spend $21.8 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts each year. But what if we could save that money and just dedicate time to each other? It doesn’t have to cost a thing and the gift could be incredibly valuable (time is money, after all). Does your loved one have a favorite sport or musical instrument? Take the time to learn so you can do it together. Or maybe they support a charitable cause. You can volunteer for your loved one’s favorite organization and perform community service. Valentine’s Day celebrates passion. So, what better way than dedicating time and energy towards something your significant other is passionate about?

    Be financially happily ever after with meaningful gifts

    We might be a little biased, but we think financial planning is pretty romantic. We’re not alone: 44% of people say being irresponsible with money is a bigger turnoff than bad breath and one in five say money is the biggest challenge in their relationship. Think about it this way: when you discuss retirement plans, you’re letting your partner know that you care about your future together and you’re invested in the relationship. For example, purchasing a life insurance policy is a way of showing you’re committed to their wellbeing. It tells your loved ones, “Even if I can’t be here, I’ll support you.” That’s a sentiment you can put on a Valentine.

    Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day in an unconventional way? Or do you prefer to do it the traditional way? Follow us on Facebook and let us know!

    Comments are off for this post
    Categories: Helpful Checklist
  2. Simple Ways to Start Budgeting In 2022

    December 20, 2021

     

    “I don’t want to be better with money,” said no one ever. Whether you consider yourself a spender or a saver or somewhere in between, the odds are, you’d like to have money left over at the end of the day. Sixty-five percent of Americans are considering a financial goal for the new year, with forty-four percent saying that saving money is their number one financial resolution (and speaking of New Year’s resolutions, we have a few tips for making them stick).

     

    You might be thinking, “How does anyone get started with a budget? How do I save without giving up everything I like? How much should I be spending each month?” We’ll answer these questions in five steps.

     

    1. Define your saving goal.

    Are you planning a big purchase? Building an emergency fund? Paying down a credit card? Pick something you want to achieve in the next three months as a short-term goal, with a long-term objective. Knowing why you’re saving helps you strategize and stay motivated.

     

    2. Track your income and expenses.

    Look at your finances over the last three months and compare your take-home pay against your spending. Now separate your expenses between what’s fixed like rent and loan payments and what’s flexible, like food and clothing. The flexible expenses are where you’ll find opportunities to save. For more on how to save, check out our blog post on quick ways to cut back your budget.

     

    3. Set priorities to cut back on spending.

    If you’re a foodie, you may not want to give up dining out. If you’re training for a marathon, a gym membership might be a must-have. But you may be willing to cut back on subscriptions or new clothes. Moderation is key to living within your means without getting stressed.

     

    4. Pick a budgeting strategy.

    There’s more than one way to do it. You might have read about the 50/30/20 budget: 50% of our take-home income goes to “needs” like rent, gas, and groceries, 30% to savings and 20% to “wants” like new clothes or dinners out. Some people might consider the envelope system such as putting cash in envelopes marked “groceries,” “clothing,” “bills,” etc., and that’s all the entire budget for the month. There’s no set system that works for everyone so search around to find what’s best for you.

     

    5. Watch your spending and stay accountable.

    Using a budgeting website or app can help you stay organized by linking to your bank and credit card accounts, generating spending charts, and sending customized alerts. You could also enlist friends or family to help you stay accountable (and they’ll understand when you must decline dinner invites). Look for reputable websites, social media accounts and podcasts that specialize in personal finances. Finally, don’t forget to sign up for the Gerber Life Family Times Newsletter for money tips delivered to your inbox monthly.

     

    Ultimately, these are five ideas to help you get to a budget that works. It‘s about recognizing what you really need and putting your money towards what truly makes you happy. Best of luck in the New Year and keep checking this blog for more money tips!!

    Comments are off for this post
    Categories: Helpful Checklist
  3. This Is the Year: Financial Resolutions That Work

    November 22, 2021

    January is around the corner and now is a great time to start thinking about financial goals and better spending habits. Resolving to be better with money would put you in good company: in 2021, 30% of Americans said they set a New Year’s resolution about living more economically (Source: Statista).

    With any resolution, it’s important to be realistic about what’s achievable. The best resolutions are the ones that you can stick to for the whole year, and hopefully beyond. It also helps to focus on small positive changes to your everyday habits rather than shooting for a big goal or making huge lifestyle changes. Try resolutions with defined goals and actions.

    Here are a few of our suggestions for realistic, manageable financial resolutions for 2022:

    • Implement the 50/30/20 Budget

    Many personal finance experts advise following the 50/30/20 rule: Set aside 50 percent of your income for “needs” like housing, food and transportation, 30 percent for “wants” like streaming subscriptions or going to concerts and the remaining 20 percent towards savings. It’s a good way to see if you’re living beyond your means and making sure you’re putting money away for a rainy day. The rule might not work for every situation, but it gives you an idea of where you could be cutting expenses and how to set your budget each month.

    • Choose to Eliminate Excessive Spending

    Pick one item each month to spend less (or not spend at all) on. For example, you could stop buying coffee each morning for the first month. The next month, you could get rid of a subscription service and so on. That way, you focus on one budget item at a time and by the end of the year you’re spending less on 12 different things.

    • Putting the “Fun” Back in Fund

    Put aside a percentage of your paycheck each month to put towards something fun — a vacation, that new gadget you’ve been eyeing, etc. Make sure to track your progress and you could involve your family if you want to share the fun.

    • Rewards for Good Behavior

    The best way to keep up a good habit financial or otherwise is to recognize your milestones. Every time you put an extra $1,000 into your savings account, you could treat yourself to a dinner out. Being financially responsible doesn’t mean you can’t indulge yourself now and then.

     

    Do you have any financial goals for the New Year? Remember to track your progress, recognize milestones and be kind to yourself if you run into difficulties. The important thing is that you’re making positive changes and going in the right direction.

    Comments are off for this post
    Categories: Saving Money
  4. 7 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays on a Budget

    October 26, 2021

    For millions of Americans, the holidays are a season of spending. In 2020, the average American household spent $998 on holiday expenses[i] like gifts, entertainment and decorations. The figures are set to be even higher in 2021, with 53% of consumers planning to increase their spending by $100 to $500.[ii] Who can blame them? We’re bombarded by ads encouraging us to spend big throughout the season and after all, we want to give memorable gifts to our loved ones.

    On the other hand, 33% of consumers are trying to spend less.[iii] Many families are trying to watch their budgets, and the last thing they want is to be worried about the bills in January.

    So, here’s the question: How do you keep your spending from getting too hot without throwing cold water on the holiday spirit? Here are a few ways to spread some holiday cheer without breaking the bank:

    • Start planning for the holidays early

    You know December is coming, so why not go in with a game plan? Set aside money each month and you’ll have yourself a solid holiday fund. You could even set up a holiday jar and make it fun for the whole family. Everyone can contribute, watch the fund grow and avoid cutting into your day-to-day budget. You can also find out other small ways to save such as placing an order in advance to avoid express shipping and checking out store policies on returns and price matching.

    • Set a holiday budget and stick to it

    Decide how much you’re comfortable spending on gifts, decorations and entertaining. To stay on track and to keep yourself accountable with holiday shopping, you can create a spreadsheet with all the people you’re buying gifts for and enter the amounts you’ve spent. Also, by following your favorite shops and brands on social media so you can be the first to know about flash sales and discount codes that you might not hear about otherwise. Check out more of our tips on how to master holiday shopping on a budget.

    • Consider shortening your list

    As you make your list, you might find that you have many people to buy gifts for. As much as we’d like to make everyone happy, prioritization will be key in determining who makes the list. Or consider Secret Santa gift exchanges or grab bags to lessen the load whether it’s for extended family or co-workers at the office.

    • Don’t forget about the winter season food and decor

    It’s not just gifts that you have to budget for. Whether you’re hosting or attending parties, the food and entertainment costs can add up. Before you go to the store, look for coupons you can print or scan from your phone. Buying in bulk is a smart way to stock up on party supplies. Don’t have a membership at a warehouse store? Go in with friends and family or tag along as a guest of a member — just remember to offer something in return. Visit our stress free holiday guide for more on cooking, travel, and entertainment.

    • Give personalized holiday gifts

    One way to avoid overspending is to buy something that’s less expensive but more personal, or even make something yourself. As it turns out, most people prefer receiving thoughtful gifts over expensive ones.[iv] For example, you could give a collection of seeds to a friend who enjoys gardening. You could have the kids create ornaments, like this simple handprint snowman (it’s also an activity — win-win!). You could prepare a meal for someone. Inexpensive, one-of-a-kind and heartfelt: hard to go wrong with that.

    • Think beyond the holidays

    Some of the best gifts keep giving long after the decorations have come down. Subscription services and meal delivery kits can go several months into the new year. Or perhaps you could give a gift with benefits that could last a lifetime, like cooking classes, contributions to a child’s college fund or a life insurance policy. Talk about making your money go a long way.

    • Shop off-season

    When is the best time to get holiday gift wrapping, ornaments, and ugly sweaters? Right after the holidays when stores are trying to clear their seasonal merchandise. Stock up in January, store it in your holiday bin and you’re good to go when December rolls around.

     

    Overall, you don’t have to spend a lot to feel festive. As long as you set reasonable expectations, it’s possible to gift, decorate and entertain on a budget. When you can keep your holiday expenses down, you’ll feel a lot better when the credit card bills arrive in January. That feeling is a gift that money can’t buy.

    [i] National Retail Foundation, November 2020

    [ii] Klarna, September 2021

    [iii] Morning Consult, September 2020

    [iv] Vistaprint, November 2019

    Comments are off for this post
    Categories: Saving Money
  5. Making Time for Quality Time

    October 13, 2021

    Ever feel like you’re spending time for your kids — caring for them, giving them rides, cleaning up after them — but you’re not spending time with them? That’s pretty normal, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Parents of children age 6-12 spend an average of 54 minutes a day actively taking care of their children, but only about 10 minutes playing or reading with them (Source: BLS.gov).

     

    And now with school and activities back in full swing, plus holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving around the corner, everyone has a full schedule and free time is hard to come by. Let’s talk about a few ways we can spend more time with the people we love 5 to 15 minutes at a time.

     

    1. Unwind each day

    Take 5 minutes each evening to get together and talk about the day. You could talk to kids as you tuck them into bed at night or sit down for an after-school snack (who doesn’t love snacks?). And if you’re looking for more than one-word answers, try conversation starters like “What was the best thing that happened today?” or “What are you excited for right now?” instead of the usual “How was your day?” or “What did you do at school today?”

     

    2. Cook and eat together as a family

    This could take more than 15 minutes, but since you’re already prepping dinner and eating, you don’t have to carve out extra time. Plus, you get helpers in the kitchen and kids are more likely to eat meals when they’re involved in the preparation process.

     

    3. Get crafty with seasonal activities

    Who doesn’t love an excuse to make something? Simple crafts can take just a few minutes. Take a break from screens and get busy with Halloween decorations or painting tree ornaments. Check out this Halloween craft idea here https://www.gluedtomycraftsblog.com/2015/08/tissue-paper-black-cat-kid-craft.html

     

    4. Take walks

    In the mood for a good conversation? A walk to school, to the store or just around your neighborhood — as long as it’s safe and reasonable — is the perfect time to catch up.

     

    5. Collaborate on home projects

    There’s always something that needs fixing, cleaning or reorganizing. Knock some items off your to-do list with your family’s help and teach some valuable skills in the process.

     

    6. Hold a five-minute dance party

    Some days, you just want to let loose. Take turns picking the song and dance like no one (outside your family) is watching!

     

    7. Start a puzzle

    If you don’t want to commit anyone’s time, that’s okay! One fun way to get the family involved is working on a difficult jigsaw puzzle over the course of a week or two. Start the puzzle, leave it on a table or countertop and let everyone play when they want. You’re working together even when you’re not together!

     

    There are plenty of ways to make time with your family count, but the most important thing is that you’re making time for each other.

     

    No matter how you choose to bond with your loved ones, here are some recommendations to get the most quality out of your family time:

    • Respect each other’s time

    You’re busy. Your kids are busy, especially if they’re older and have activities and homework that go into the evening. Make sure you’re not making unreasonable demands on anyone’s time.

    • Keep it consistent

    Catching up for just a few minutes each day goes a long way. The important thing is that you’re making time for one another on a regular basis.

    • Always be present

    You have a lot on your mind, but in the brief time you’re spending with loved ones, put the distractions aside and get back to it later. If it helps, have everyone silence their devices and put them in a basket.

    Comments are off for this post
    Categories: Parenting Tips