With the planning, executing, and excitement of the holiday season, the thought of a fresh, new year just around the corner can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. And although any day of the year is a great day to work towards achieving your goals, there’s just something about January that feels like the perfect time to reset. Of course there’s the old standby resolutions – eat healthy, hit the gym, take up a new hobby, finally clean out the garage (all admirable goals by the way!), but following is a short list of resolutions that can and will make a big difference to you and your family in 2018.
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Saving for college
Better late than never! If you haven’t set up a savings account for your children’s higher education, 2018 is your year to finally get going! Whether they are 1 month old, 1 year old, or already heading toward the terrible teens, today is the day to start putting money aside for what will most likely be the costliest event in their lives. ScholarShare 529 is California’s college savings plan, and they want to help YOU save for your child’s future with an investment plan that is dynamic and absolutely tax-free. You can read our overview of the program here, and how grandparents and other families can contribute to your children’s plans here. If you keep no other resolutions this new year, let saving for college with ScholarShare 529 be the one. Today in the US, the average cost for one child to get through college can reach upwards of $100,000 when you take into account tuition, books, housing and other expenses. Yikes!
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If you’re like me, you spend a good portion of every evening verbally coordinating appointments, play dates, parties, and babysitters with your spouse. Let the madness stop! Don’t waste your precious face to face time with boring logistics. Start fresh in January with a new family calendar system. Whether it’s a Google, Apple, or other electronic calendar app like Cozi, or a big old white board pinned up to the fridge with a rainbow color marker system, put it all out there for everyone to see clearly so there’s no more miscommunications.
Between work, school, and extracurriculars, coordinating the schedules of an entire family can seem like a never-ending jigsaw puzzle. This year, one of the most important resolutions you can make is to insist upon a non-negotiable daily family meal. The bonding benefits for parents and children cannot be denied. According to an article in The Atlantic, “Family dinners build relationships and help kids do better in school.” Read the full article entitled, “The Importance of Eating Together” here.
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This is one we all surely know about. That little hand-held device that keeps you entertained and organized is possibly doing more harm than good. It’s disconnecting us from our closest in-person relationships, it’s causing sleep issues, depression, anxiety, and more childhood injuries due to distracted parent supervision. It’s obviously not realistic to dispel technology from our lives. After all, it has so many redeeming and helpful qualities too, but keeping an eye on screen time for both yourself and your children this year should be tops on your list. Keep it simple with one clear rule, whether it’s phones go away at 8pm each night, or no screens (including TV) at meal times, or even planning a series of weekly or monthly family outings where nobody takes their phone (except maybe one for emergencies), keeping you all in the moment and present in your experiences.
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Joint family savings
This resolution can be fun for everyone! Decide on a method of collection (eg. a piggy bank set up in a central location in your house), and an ultimate family goal (eg. a trip to Disneyland) and have every member of the family work toward that goal together. Parents can allocate a small percentage of pay checks, kids can contribute from their allowances, you can all run a garage sale, lemonade stand, or sell old things you no longer need online. Think up some creative ways to save together, and relish in your feelings of accomplishment when you hit that goal.