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The Practical Perks of Involving Your Children in Your Business

Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast episode with Tax Strategist Jessica Smith who believes in making your money work as hard for you as you work for it, all while giving our children the gift of practical experience and work ethic.

I can still remember my first job.  There was no W-2, no new hire paperwork, no cash exchanged.  The contract was made between my parents and their dear friend, recently widowed, over a handshake and through tears of gratitude.  I mucked horse pastures, and cleaned stalls for an entire summer of Saturday’s in exchange for hot tub privileges.  In hindsight I know exactly what my parents were doing and I hope to be able to do the same for my children.

The Perk of Perspective

As parents we ask our children about their day, their academics, their athletics, and their friends, but it’s important that we share our lives with them as well.  By opening these reciprocal conversations, we offer our kids a window into the reality of work and making a living (and a life) for ourselves, and for them.   These conversations develop empathy and gratitude, and lay a valuable foundation for successful communication with others.

The Perk of Practical Experience

The workforce is rapidly evolving and so are the skills required to be successful; by involving our children in our businesses and in our daily work rhythms, we provide them with valuable knowledge and practical experience to advance their own careers when they choose to enter the workforce.  Many of our children have a variety of foundational skills, but lack the ability to hone them or apply them in a different context without direction and support.

Think of the variety of tasks you and your employees perform in any given day and begin teaching your children those same skills you now consider to be rote; you can develop their skill set as their interest and ability grows.

The Perk of Principles Learned

We’ve all experienced our own share of failures as working professionals (and as parents), and sometimes the sting is worse than others.  By teaching our children principles of the business world and developing their work ethic early, we offer them a safe place to take risks, and make mistakes, before a future employer or client delivers their first critique or negative review.

Start with a seemingly simplistic, but essential skill for everyone who is self-employed.  Teach your children how to create an invoice, disperse it, and collect on it for the work they are doing in your business.  A valuable skill set is learned, and responsibility and ownership over their agency as an employee is instilled.

The Perk of Parenting in a New Way

As parents we know the painful reality of the adage, “The days are long, but the years are short” and many of us are feeling stretched to find intentional time with our children with all the hats we wear.  Bringing our children to work and including them in our business, allows us more time with them when time is fleeting, and allows us to bond with them and strengthen our relationship in an entirely different way.  They get to see a different side of you, and you get to see the person they are becoming.

The Perk of Pennies Saved

If you are a sole proprietor or LLC, and your child is under 18, you can hire your child as an employee without paying social security or Medicare taxes, and write-off their work as a business expense.  Of course, you will want to discuss the specifics with your accountant and ensure the work they are performing is reasonable considering their age. If your children earn less than $12,000 (the standard deduction on any tax return), they have no tax liability. Better yet? You can teach your children the value of financial investment and saving by establishing a 529 College Savings Plan with a portion of their earnings to help them (and you) save for their future.

The Perk of a Passion Ignited

In addition to instilling the foundations of work ethic, from learning to report to someone else, performing a task as directed, and showing up prepared and on-time, you may also spark your child’s passion for their future education or career endeavors. Author and speaker, Ramon Ray, gave his son the opportunity to accompany him on work travel and shoot video, and later edit that footage, “I told my son that I had a number of people I could turn to for video editing but that I’d give him a week to do several videos.  After that, I’d turn to my regular video editors.  He did the videos.”

Opportunities present themselves in any number of places, whether it’s in a conversation with a colleague while they’re organizing your filing cabinet, a spark of innovation while cleaning the office space, or a passion for social media marketing ignited when they take over your business Instagram for the day, your habit of making “Bring Your Child to Work Day” a normal rhythm of your life (and theirs) may just jumpstart their road to discovering their purpose.

Mucking horse pastures and cleaning stalls instilled a deep appreciation within me for manual laborers and their often thankless work.  Sacrificing my Saturdays helped me to understand the value of putting others before ourselves, and looking back on my first job I am filled with gratitude for my parents and their wisdom, and now have some of the fondest memories of ‘swimming’ in an indoor hot tub.

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How to Raise Great Kids & Leave a Legacy Through Your Children

Inspired by Inc.’s lead parenting columnist, Bill Murphy Jr.’s, collection of science-based parenting advice collected and shared.

As parents, one of our core desires for our children is for them to be happy.  As working parents, we recognize that one of the core tenants of our own happiness is the pursuit and achievement of success, however we have defined it for our careers, our families, and ourselves.  Naturally, we want to raise our children to succeed as adults, but we also want them to experience the emotional health that is supported by their encounters of success (and dare we say, failure) as children, teens and young adults.  If we invest our parenting capital in these five key areas, we can later reap the rewards of that investment in children who become successful and well-adjusted adults (and grown children who still want to come ‘home’ for the holidays).

One | Great Expectations

We all have expectations, and we all know the frustration that results when those expectations are not met (likely, because they were never communicated in the first place).  We also know the power of a boss who sets clear (and high expectations), revisits them often, and celebrates our fulfillment of those expectations.  Our children are no different.  The greater our expectations, when communicated clearly and supported intentionally, the greater our children will perform.  That performance will directly translate into confidence, and improved self-esteem.

Our expectations communicate to our children that we believe they are capable of doing hard things, that we hold them accountable, and that we want them to achieve their dreams.  Establish your expectations, communicate them clearly, re-visit and remind your children of them often, and affirm and celebrate their fulfillment of those expectations.

Two | The Power of Praise

People perform better when they receive praise routinely.  However, in order to support our children in taking risks, and pursuing academics and activities with persistence, the way we deliver that praise is imperative.  Otherwise, we may end up raising vapid egomaniacs, and the world is already full of those.

So, how should we deliver praise? First, know that there is no ideal ratio, but the more you praise your children, the better the results.  In other words, you cannot spoil a baby by holding them too much, and you cannot spoil a child by praising them too much.  Next, it is important that you praise their effort and specific application of skills or attributes, rather than their innate talents.  When you offer praise frequently and ‘correctly’ you avoid the adage of, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”.

Here’s an example.  Instead of telling your child, “Wow, you are so fast!” praise them instead by saying, “I am so impressed with the way you were determined to push your body to move your legs so quickly.  You didn’t give up!”

Three | Chores, Chores, Chores

According to the longest running longitudinal study in history, there are two key factors people need to possess to be both happy and successful: love and work ethic.  How, as parents can we instill those two traits in our children simultaneously? Chores.  When children participate in chores they learn the importance of work ethic, and they feel loved knowing that they have a purpose in their family life and knowing that they are contributing to that family life.

But, we have to include them.   And that means letting go of some of our own expectations along the way.  They have to learn, and the only way for them to learn is to practice.  Give them grace, and ample amounts of praise, and then learn to live with the missed crumbs –they will get it right, with time.

Four | Be There

In a Love and Logic world, it can be hard to remember that ultimately our children need us there, and they need us to be a safe and empathetic shoulder as much as they need us to walk them through the natural consequence they were just delivered.  When something happens to our children, whether they get hurt, make a mistake, or are confronted with failure, you can (and should) rush to their side.  In numerous studies, researchers found that adults who reflect on their childhood, had a much more positive perception of their parents when they were perceived as being there, rather than modeling self-reliance by maintaining their distance.

You can be there for your children, without ‘fixing’ the situation.  And this is the Love component of Love and Logic.  We don’t sit back when our child trips and falls; instead, we lovingly acknowledge their pain, “Ouch!  That looks like it hurts; I am so sorry that happened. What would make it feel better?” and we offer them Logic when the time is right, “Do you think your shoes being untied caused you to trip? What are your ideas for preventing another trip?”

Five | Champion their ‘Weirdness’ and their Social-Butterfly Aptitude

Children are laughably weird, and it doesn’t take more than a year or two of parenting to also realize, they come to us as they are —wonderfully and wildly unique— with their own interests and passions and eccentricities.  Rather than dejecting their affinity for dinosaur trivia, champion it and channel their interest into some real life connections, like paleontologists or a trip to a dinosaur museum.  Warren Buffet attributes his success to his eccentric tendency toward entrepreneurship as a child.  So embrace their quirkiness, and help to develop it so they can later leverage it for success and happiness.

While we’re discussing comments you may anticipate hearing at Parent Teacher Conferences, if your child is often discussed as being ‘too social’, help them to curtail it…to an extent, and know that children who are perceived as prosocial, later have a significant financial lead.  And if your child struggles socially, seek out opportunities and employ strategies to help improve their social skills and their future.

While there is no handbook for parenting, employing these 5 study-proven and scientifically supported practices will help you to raise children who are both well adjusted and successful.  And, at the end of the day, if “all you need is love”, and your children are loved and secure, you have already started a beautiful legacy.  We are so looking forward to the return on our investment, of a home filled with grown children during the holidays.


Raising Teenage Girls into Confident Young Women

Being a mom is one of the best and most challenging things I have ever done.

We all know the pressures of late night feeding and diapers changes, to safety locks on everything….. and trying to remember all the gear for our babies! When we’ve past the toddler stage we start looking at preschools, grade schools, homework, friends, sport/dance carpools. Our job is ever-evolving and the challenges that stretch us seem to never end.

Having a daughter can seem to bring its own special kinds of stressors. Just when you think you can exhale, your daughter can dress, feed herself, and can complete most of her homework with minimal intervention, there is another shift on the horizon that isn’t far off.

Your daughter is growing up.

She’s making many decisions for herself and you get to watch her grow into the beautiful young woman that will eventually leave your nest and venture out into the world. It is such an exciting and yet scary time!

Teens and tweens today are inundated with Instagram, Snapchats, and the Kardashians and the responsibility we have is to help her navigate these years with confidence and a sense of self-worth. The issues girls are faced with are so much harder than when we were their ages.

While this isn’t news, watching my own girls exposed to images of perfection, plastic surgery, crash diets, sex, and clothing styles that expose way too much skin is sometimes appalling.

The balancing act is to teach them right from wrong without sheltering them or giving them too much rope. Not easy!

The road for these somewhat turbulent years needs to have a long view. The goal at the end of the road (probably college) is for them to have a strong sense of who they are, a moral code, and be happy, contributing members of society. Here are 5 tips to help guide your young girls to become confident and proud of themselves:

1. Be ready for mistakes. And lots of them! Whether it’s their clothes and hair styles, or getting a bad grade on a test or paper, try to keep in mind they are experimenting. They will do things that will sometimes make us cringe, as long as it is within reason, let them learn from their mistakes. (We all have those photos of our teenage years “what was I wearing????”)

2. Be the calm in the storm. Teenagers sometimes remind me of when my daughters were toddlers. They think they know everything and want so much independence but they really need us. As they stretch the boundaries to see how far they can grow, we need to be there when they fall. They need a lot of hugs too.

3. Set Expectations and Rewards/Consequences: People of all ages want to know what is expected of them – teenage girls are no different. Setting a bar for them to reach toward will give them a clear goal at home, something to work for, and the confidence of knowing they’ve accomplished it. This can be applied to grades, a project at home, phone and computer use, etc. But once the expectation is set, stick to the the follow through, don’t cave in if the goal fell short. Reset expectations and have them try again!

4. Words of Affirmation: Girls need to hear positive feedback almost daily. Help focus them on their strengths by telling them what they are doing well. It is music to their ears even if they don’t show it!

5. Let Them Be Themselves: It’s funny how much we can project ourselves onto our kids without even being aware of it. We all have had ideas on what we think our kids will be like – play sports, theater, computers, book worms etc. Even if their interests are far off from your own it’s okay! They are giving you a chance to learn something too.

Confident girls have a sense of knowing that they can offer something to others. Confidence is walking into a classroom feeling prepared, when compete on the field they give it their all, and trying new things.

Helping them grow into that confidence is about teaching them to know what is expected, to shoot for that, get up after they fall, and that learning and growing is life-long.

And confidence also comes from knowing that at the end of the day mom is there for them 100%.

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Tips for Moms to Thrive This Summer

Buckle Up Moms It’s Summer! Field Day, Volunteer Appreciation lunch, Principal retirement lunch, 8th grade beach day, 8th grade graduation practice, graduation, graduation dance, party and ½ days for the next two weeks. Somewhere in there you strive to schedule things for you. Workouts, personal appointments and oh yes, if you work from home or in an office you have to schedule your work around your kids already crazy schedule.

End of school year and Summer can be tricky, overwhelming and exhausting – but I’d like to think that I’ve found some tips to help you keep your sanity and actually get the best of time with your children and still get it all done at the same time….You know, that thing all mothers crave – BALANCE.

We are all in different places and phases of motherhood. Some are stay at home moms. Some are corporate moms. And then there is me. A Mom who works from home. Some have younger kids, some are gone – and yep some have come home for summer which brings so much joy but a whole other set of dynamics. So what’s the answer? How do we survive the summer?

Tips for thriving as a mom this summer:

Let’s start with the Calendar. Not your iphone, google calendar, or the device of the day, I’m talking a BIG old fashioned calendar that you can write on. Assign each family member a color. Then enter away. Fill in any camps, sports practice and games, travel, doctors and other appointments. See where your conflicts are and see where your openings/opportunities are.

Now start finding solutions. If you work a corporate job like I used to, summer brings great solutions to town when all of the responsible college kids come home. They are looking for part time work and you have it! If you don’t have enough hours, team up with a friend and guarantee x amount of hours per family – get a schedule and your kids can get to and from their activities. If you don’t have activities – get outside and have them take them to the beach, on hikes, on bikes. The outdoors in summer is a playground. You don’t have to spend your income on a camp every week of summer. Your kids don’t want that either – it’s supposed to be their downtime, let them have it! You should not be left out either. I found that by taking as many Fridays off as possible it gave me a long weekend with my kids and I was not always missing out!

If you work from home – this takes some adjusting to. Your calendar is just as critical. But you will likely need to change your business hours. You also need to DECIDE if you are taking the summer off or if you are going to treat your job like a career. I’m all about working hard and playing hard. This starts with a family conversation about expectations. I have specific conversations with my boys about my business hours, what they can expect from me and vice versa. I get up extra early and typically work from 6AM-12 take the boys to do something and resume my work in late afternoon early evening when they are at their sports. I used to call it camp Kara. Truth is – now with two teenagers, they are not going to want to hang with me every day – but I love the beach and they do too – they can meet up with friends and I can get my tan on, make calls, and keep my life and business moving forward in a great atmosphere. You can also team up with other moms – I have a group of mom friends who each take a day per week to take a crew of boys to do fun summer activities. The kids get to be with friends – and you get days to focus on other kids and life.

Keep your refrigerator and pantry full. Do some pre-packaging of snacks so the kids are not asking you to make something at any hour of the day. I have found on line shopping helps in this area. I shop on line for as much as I can to save trips to the store, and everything comes to me. Who has time to bounce from store to store?

Be PRESENT when you are with your children. Enjoy the time. Put the devices away during the time you have dedicated to them. If at meals, we play the phone stack game. Everyone’s phone goes into a pile in center of the table with ringers off. Parents can’t take calls, return emails, and kids can’t play games or work on their snapchat story. You get the idea. TALK to each other.

Moms, summer will be what you make of it. ENJOY every minute you get with your kids. Yes, you will be ready to get them back to school in the fall but soon you will blink, they will be driving themselves everywhere and you will wish they needed a ride. Take control of your calendar up front and enjoy every day! Let’s thrive not survive the summer.


What are you teaching your children about money?

As parents, we intuitively recognize that teaching life skills is our responsibility. As such, we teach our children manners by constantly reminding them to use simple phrases such as “please” and “thank you.” We teach them about faith and God by reading the bible with them and praying before dinner. We teach them responsibility by assigning them age-appropriate chores. We teach them about personal care by having them bathe regularly and brush their teeth.

Parents are also often reminded that while we can preach these life skills until we are blue in the face, our children are more likely to mimic our actions than follow our words. So, if you’re telling your children to say “please” but not using the phrase yourself, your children are not likely to adopt that particular skill.

As I teach adults about how to handle their money and also have conversations with them about what they’re teaching their children, I am often met with a blank stare. For some reason, “handling money” is a skill that many parents have not recognized as THEIR responsibility to teach their children. Recently, I had a parent tell me, “I’m not good with math. That’s the school’s responsibility to teach my child.” My response? “I beg to differ!”

We don’t hold teachers accountable for teaching our kids the other life skills I mentioned above, right? So why is this skill any different? I think teachers’ plates are pretty full teaching our children subjects like English, Math, History and Science. We don’t hold our teachers accountable if our children don’t brush their teeth or express gratitude when they’ve received a gift…because we know that teaching these life skills is our responsibility. So let’s reframe how we think about teaching personal finance and handling money to our children and be deliberate about it!

While I could probably write an entire book on this topic, I’ve just started here with a brief outline of some basic principles that each of us can adopt with our children.

1. Money comes from work

Let’s be honest, as an adult, we know that money comes from work. If I don’t work, I don’t make money. But often we aren’t teaching our children this principle. I like to steer clear of giving my children an “allowance,” as it gives them the impression that they are entitled to money “just because.” Instead, I give my children an opportunity to earn “commission” if they are willing to take the initiative and do some work!

Don’t get me wrong…that doesn’t mean I pay them for every little thing they do—they have certain responsibilities and chores they are expected to do simply as a member of our family. They are expected to keep their rooms picked up, make their beds, and take care of their pets, among other things. They don’t get paid for these activities—it’s just part of living in our household and being in our family.

However, they do have an opportunity to earn money by choosing to do other tasks. I made a “chart” that sits in our kitchen and on each day there are several tasks that can be done, each of which has been assigned a commission amount. The first child to take the initiative and complete the task earns the commission. For example, if someone takes out the trash, he/she earns $1, and $3 for taking all the trash cans to the curb on trash day. Each Sunday, I tally up the total commissions earned and the kids get their “paychecks” in the form of cash.

2. Buying “things” you want requires money

Do you ever get frustrated that your kids feel entitled to everything they want? I know I do at times. But then I try to remember it is just another opportunity for me to help my children recognize it’s completely in their control if they want “stuff.” All they need to do is work for it and earn some commission so that they can buy it!

It’s amazing how quickly a child will admit that something she wants isn’t something she needs when its cost is hers to pay out of her own hard earned cash. I know my children started making informed, carefully weighed purchase decisions once they understood the difference between wants and needs, and they recognize that they can’t have it all. They’ve learned to prioritize their wants based on how much they’re willing to work to attain them. What a great life skill!

3. Saving and planning purchases is important

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if our children never went into debt and only purchased things they could afford with cash? Believe it or not, that is very possible if we teach them the right skills. When I pay out commissions each week, I have the children put 10% into a giving fund (they can choose to donate to church or a charity of their choice), 40% goes into a savings fund and 50% can go into their wallet to be used for purchases. I’m helping them start to understand the concept of delayed gratification.

A recent example of this proving very effective is when my 8 year old daughter continually asked me for an iPod touch. Of course, on her Christmas list she wanted the newest and best version. Rather than buying it for her as a gift, I recognized a huge opportunity to teach her about savings. When she was disappointed at not having received it for Christmas, I encouraged her to start saving for it! We got online and started to look up prices so she had an idea how much she needed to save. She quickly recognized that brand new models with lots of memory would require $200 or more, whereas a used model with less memory was only about $60. Suddenly, she was absolutely fine with the $60 model, including tax and shipping!

She made an envelope and drew a picture of the iPod on it, along with a huge 6-0 on it. We talked about the fact that if she worked hard and earned $10 each week she could buy it in just 6 weeks, or that if she did the normal amount of chores she had been doing and only earned $5 per week, it would 12 (which admittedly, is an eternity to an 8 year old).

So suddenly she went to work! She took $20 out of her “spend fund” in her wallet and decided that buying candy, gum or other trinkets was not as important to her as buying the iPod. She also got very focused regarding earning commissions and she surprised me by saving the $60 after only 3 weeks! She honestly beamed with pride when her iPod came in the mail and she treats it with more care and respect than I’ve ever seen her treat another object before. Because she went through the process of saving for it, she better understands its value! It was truly a priceless lesson.

4. Practice what you preach

Has your child ever said “Just put in on your credit card, Mom.” Mine has! A few years ago, I was admiring a gorgeous purse that I wanted and my daughter said “It’s cute Mom, you should get it.” When I responded “No honey, it’s too expensive.” She replied “Just put in on your credit card!”

That moment was a serious eye opener for me. It’s hard enough for a child to understand the value of money; especially when she sees us parents swiping credit cards rather than paying with cash. Credit cards dull the impact and significance of the cost of our purchases not only on us adults, but also on our children; their perception being that there is always more money available!

From that conversation with my daughter about the purse, I realized that I needed to be much more careful in what I was modeling for my children. I now try hard to make a point to pull out and pay for things with cash around my kids. And rather than making statements like “It’s too expensive,” I make statements like “It’s not in my budget this month…I need to think about how important this is to me and decide if it’s something I want to prioritize in my budget next month.” When I demonstrate prioritization and delayed gratification to my children, it’s much easier for me to ask them to do the same!