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. Life Insurance Facts We Wish We Learned in School

    August 10, 2021

    family playing in pool

    If you’re an adult, you can relate: there’s so much in life that we wish we learned in school, especially when it comes to money. Whether it’s managing a budget or saving for retirement, #adulting means we either figure things out on our own or call mom and dad (trust us on this: we’re never too old to ask our parents for advice).

     

    Since we didn’t get these lessons in the classroom, here’s a crash course of topics we think should be taught in school along with reading, writing and arithmetic.

     

    Help with unexpected expenses*

    Here’s the deal: you should be putting money away for retirement whenever you can. But did you know that life insurance can be part of your savings strategy? You’d choose whole life insurance, which is designed to last for life, unlike term life insurance, which provides coverage for a set number of years. Whole life policies build cash value that grows over time and you can take loans against to help cover emergency expenses. While it’s always good to have a dedicated retirement fund, the cash value can come through in a pinch.

    *Policy loan interest rate is 8%. Loans may impact cash value and death benefit.

     

    Ways to use life insurance

    There’s no one right reason to get life insurance. People have traditionally used life insurance as a way to cover final expenses, but the payouts can be used for any purpose that fits your family’s needs or your stage in life. For example, some want the benefits to pay for homes, childcare expenses or college tuition. Term life insurance is useful in this case since you can choose a term that keeps you covered until the house is paid off or the children are grown. Others see life insurance as a way to leave something for their children or grandchildren — whole life insurance works here since it doesn’t expire. What you want to do with the benefits can help you choose the kind of life insurance and the coverage amount you may need.

     

    Tax benefits of life insurance

    Here’s the good news: in most cases, beneficiaries don’t have to pay taxes on life insurance benefits. So if you have a $100,000 policy, your beneficiary should get all $100,000 as long as the payout is made as a single payment. You should speak to a financial advisor, though, since estate and inheritance tax laws can vary by state.

    There’s a lot more we want to cover, but these are the basics we think everyone should know. It’s never too late to start learning and life insurance specialists at Gerber Life are just a phone call away (and there won’t be a pop quiz!). You can always count on us to help you get through this adulting thing. Keep an eye on this blog for more financial tips you (probably) didn’t learn in school.

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    Categories: Saving Money
  2. Crash Course on the Cost of College

    July 7, 2021

    It might not happen this summer, but it’ll sneak up on you before you know it: you’ll be helping your little one get ready for college. Don’t worry, you won’t have to start packing the family car just yet, but it’s never too early to start thinking about how to pay for college.

    Kids grow up fast and the cost of college — not just tuition, but also room and board, books and other expenses — is rising. Thinking ahead and having a plan may help you avoid the sticker shock.

     

    As a guideline, we’ve compared a handful of current average costs between both public and private universities, based on research from the College Board conducted in 2020. These comparisons may help you to plan and budget for your child’s college education more easily:

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    Categories: College Planning
  3. Family-Friendly Summer Activities on a Budget

    June 4, 2021

    Summer is time for stepping outside, getting away and having fun. But keeping the entertainment budget under control can be a challenge. There’s a good chance your children’s wish list includes trips to pricy theme parks or destinations that’ll involve hotel stays and travel expenses.

     

    So many summer amusements come with a hefty price tag. What’s a parent on a budget to do? First, maintain the healthy mindset that summer family fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Next, look around your neck of the woods for activities and events that are free or low cost. These summertime ideas encourage family fun without a budget blow-out.

     

    1. Visit the library for fun and games

    Local libraries have always been a terrific source of free summer entertainment. The children’s section may feature age-appropriate books, CDs, and DVDs, as well as puzzles, board games and computer games. You can also find activities geared to kids like storytime, arts and crafts, sing-alongs and puppet shows. After a fun day with your children at the library, you may be able to use your library card to take home a free or low-cost movie that the whole family can enjoy.

     

    2. Make a picnic or go to an outdoor event

    Picnics in the park have been a summer mainstay for generations of families. Free or low-cost activities may feature summer plays, including Shakespeare productions in some communities, movies under the stars or other free amenities such as playgrounds, ball fields and community pools. If your little ones are competitive, you can hold mini-Olympic-style games at the park. Let your child run, jump and throw and award medals to celebrate. You can use items around the house like hula hoops and pool noodles to mark boundaries.

     

    3. Learn about hometown history

    Many cities and towns have small museums celebrating local history that are free or low cost. They may honor statesmen, war heroes, writers, film stars, other notables, an event in local history or a specific topic like lighthouses or toys. Children can get a history lesson and be entertained, while parents enjoy the nostalgia or expand their community knowledge. Before you head out, be sure to check the days and hours of operation.

     

    4. Take a family bike ride

    Another idea for family fun on a budget is to take a ride together along a bicycle path free of motor traffic. Whether paved, gravel or dirt, these paths offer a way to get outside and experience your surroundings from something other than your car window. Be sure to stay safe by wearing helmets, observing the rules of the road, and being mindful of others on the trail.

     

    5. Make your own scavenger hunt

    Create your own adventure and bring out the explorer in your child. Make a checklist of things to look for — plants, bugs, rocks, whatever you like — and set a time limit. You can do it at the park, backyard, or your neighborhood. Be sure to remind the little ones to respect private property, stay on marked trails and point, but not touch the items they find.

     

    6. Build a backyard obstacle course

    Kids love watching “ninja” shows on TV. Why not let them get in on the fun by building their own obstacle course with household items like cardboard boxes? Be sure to double check obstacles to make sure they’re safe and all activities are supervised to avoid serious injury.

     

    7. Grow your own garden

    Celebrate the summer by enjoying the season’s most colorful fruits and vegetables—right in your backyard! Don’t have the space? Head over to a local farm and spend an afternoon picking from an assortment of fresh options. Though be careful how much you pick because you might end up with an expensive haul. Avoid the sticker shock by setting limits on how much you’ll take home before you start picking.

     

    8. Rainy day activities

    You’re going to get your share of summer storms, but a rainy day doesn’t have to be a downer if you’re prepared. You can find simple but fun craft ideas like paper airplanes, homemade kites like this one or bird feeders. When it’s nice outside again, your little ones can take their creations outside. And what child doesn’t love building a pillow fort? It takes creativity plus some pillows, bedsheets, and couch cushions to create a whole new world in your living room. Once complete, the fort is a great space for games and storytime. Just make sure to stress to your children the importance of cleaning up!

     

    One last thing: whatever activity you and your family decide on, don’t forget about safety. When you’re headed out, be sure to pack:

    • Sun protection: sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses
    • Drinking water
    • First aid kit
  4. 6 Tips for Raising Money-Savvy Kids

    May 4, 2021

     

    As a parent, you want to set your child up for success. And one very important thing you can do is to instill good money habits. Your little one might be years away from handling a household budget, but it doesn’t hurt to get some early practice in with managing their own money. Getting a head start on personal finance is sure to pay off (no pun intended) when they are adults.

    Here are a few simple things you can do to teach financial savviness to children of all ages.

     

    For Younger Children: Start with earning an allowance

    Giving children an allowance is a great way to teach budgeting and saving. Even better? Giving them an opportunity to earn the allowance through chores.

    This will help them learn the value of hard work and they’ll appreciate toys more when they’ve had to save for them. You can also teach them how to stretch their dollars by shopping for used items or waiting for a sale.

    If the lesson sticks, they just might start asking for more chores, so they can earn more.

     

    For Younger Children & Pre-teens: Help them open a savings account

    Many banks offer free savings account for children. You can divide their allowance between money they can spend, and money to set aside for saving.

    If the bank offers paper statements or online banking, they can see how their money grows. They can see that, with interest, the more money they save and the longer they save, the more their money grows.

     

    Teens: Set them up with financial tools

    Once they get into their teenage years, your not-so-little ones may want more spending money or get after-school jobs.

    This is a good opportunity to teach them the difference between credit cards and debit cards, and discuss the importance of establishing good credit for the future. You can also let them use your credit or debit card, which lets them put the money lessons into practice and lets you track their spending. Tread carefully here though: it’s important to discuss what the card should be used for, set spending limits and monitor the accounts regularly. They should know that with great (spending) power comes great responsibilities.

     

    All Ages: Have regular conversations about good money habits

    Life is full of decisions about money, and so are opportunities to talk about them. You can explain why you don’t eat out every day and why you save your leftovers. You can discuss the difference between “I want” and “I need” when they ask for new toys or clothes. And you can talk about the advantages and disadvantages of buying in bulk.

    But it doesn’t have to be all talk. You can make it fun for your little ones by having them help plan meals and trips. Since children are visual thinkers, you can create a chart for how much you need to save for a family trip.

    For teens, ask them to think about a fun expense — maybe a car, a trip with friends or the prom — and help them come up with ways to save up. You can also talk to them about financial lessons you’ve learned — teens tend to appreciate honesty.

     

    All Ages: Teach generosity

    It’s important to know that money isn’t all about buying what you want. It’s also about giving back.

    One fun way to teach the value of generosity is by setting up a “giving” jar, where the family can put loose change and any extra cash. When the jar is full, you can let your kids choose where to donate the money. Help them consider what causes they believe in. Knowing that even a little money can help others is a powerful feeling.

     

    All Ages: Model good financial behavior

    Like with pretty much everything else, children take their cues from their parents. Include your little ones in your coupon cutting routine. Have your older children sit down with you when you set a monthly budget. Include the whole family when planning and saving for a goal.

    Opportunities to teach good money habits come up every day. Your children are more likely to learn if you keep the lessons fun and rewarding.

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  5. Life Lessons Learned from 2020

    April 5, 2021

    It’s safe to say, 2020 was a challenging year for just about everyone. But for those of us with children, it meant a lot, and we mean a LOT, of quality time with our little ones. Yet through it all, we learned some valuable lessons that we’ll take with us when things get back to “normal”.

     

    Here are some of the things we will hold on to:

     

    1. Things don’t always go as planned. And that’s okay.

    The thing about unprecedented events is that they don’t come with a manual. We were trying to help kids learn remotely while often adjusting to new work arrangements ourselves. Do they have the link to their class? Do they know when to come back from recess? Oh no, I need to feed the kids during a work meeting!

    We recognized that we were all new to this and learned to be more forgiving — of ourselves and each other.

     

    2. You don’t need to be perfect. You just need to be there.

    Did you try to help your child with their schoolwork and realize how much you’ve forgotten since your school days? Or that you don’t have the time to make them the healthiest dinner with the workday that doesn’t seem to end and the housework that’s impossible to keep up with? It’s okay — what mattered was that you tried.

    We learned that you can’t do everything every day. The important thing is that you’re there for your children.

     

    3. Kids can be pretty resilient.

    As parents, our instinct is to protect our little ones. But the pandemic has affected all of us, including the children. We’ve asked kids to change how they do school, playdates, birthday parties and more. And they’ve impressed us by adapting to the new normal and making the best of the situation.

    The kids are going through a lot. Let’s recognize the sacrifices they’ve made and take heart knowing that they may be little, but they can be pretty tough when they need to be.

     

    4. Before you take care of anyone else, take care of yourself.

    In emergencies, we’re told to put on our life vests first before helping others. After all, we wouldn’t be very helpful if our own needs aren’t met. The same goes for taking care of our young ones during a pandemic. It’s tough for the kids, but the adults are going through a lot too. So it’s okay to say, “I’d love to help you right now, but can you give me a moment?”

    It’s important for everyone to see that self-care for mom and dad means better care for all.

     

    5. Nothing refreshes like fresh air.

    2020 was the year that so many families rediscovered the classic pastime of taking walks. When “work”, “school” and “home” are all in the same place, we needed a way to unwind. And with the extra walking, we stayed fit, talked to neighbors and maybe discovered things we wouldn’t have otherwise.

    Who knew? Simply walking does the body and mind a lot of good.

     

    6. There’s a lot to be thankful for.

    When times are tough, we need to appreciate the little things. Maybe a neighbor who puts up signs in their window, a long-lost friend who reconnected by video chat, or seeing a new flower bloom on a daily walk.

    Things weren’t perfect, but we learned to look out for the positive. And more than anything we have a newfound appreciation for being around the people we love.

    What’s something you learned from your children and yourself while you were home?

     

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    Categories: Health & Safety