Monday, December 4, 2017

A Happy Holiday Starts in the Morning: How to Start Your Family's Day Off Right

A Happy Holiday Starts in the Morning: How to Start Your Family's Day Off Right

Your kids look forward to winter vacation the duration of fall, but sometimes the holidays are more stressful than fun. Between long days of travel and changes to daily routines, the holidays can leave kids tired and grumpy and parents at their wit’s end. If last year’s meltdowns have you thinking of skipping this year’s festivities altogether, don’t make any rash decisions just yet. It is possible to keep everyone happy over the holidays, it just requires planning ahead for a consistent holiday routine.

Family Time with Mobile Device
Image via Unsplash

It might not seem like you have much control over your family’s holiday schedule. Whether you’re traveling to visit family or they’re coming to stay with you, your daily itinerary is likely packed with shared meals and activities. It might be all you can do to keep your kids alive and fed during the most hectic hours, which means the most important time of day is before everyone arrives. By establishing a morning routine for your family, you can set everyone up to be on their best behavior until the day’s end.

Children thrive under predictability and consistency. According to the University of Kansas, it’s a lack of daily routine and clear expectations that’s behind many temper tantrums. While you may not be able to keep your kids’ routines exactly the same over the holidays, aim to keep eating and sleeping patterns as regular as possible.

Don’t let kids stay up late or sleep in just because it’s vacation. While some flexibility is acceptable, don’t stretch it beyond normal weekend bedtimes and wake-ups. If traveling between time zones, keep kids on their home schedule unless it’s a long trip. While it might make for some awkward scheduling, it will pay off when school starts again. The same goes for parents; resist the urge to sleep in or stay up late mingling. Getting plenty of rest will ensure your holiday relaxes you, not drains you.

It’s not just the quantity of sleep that matters; quality is important too. Unfortunately, no one sleeps well when they’re bunking in a crowded room alongside extended family members. If you’re traveling, retreat to a hotel each night for an environment conducive to quality rest. Family staying at your house? Rather than putting family members in kids’ beds, treat family bedrooms as sacred and keep visitors to guest rooms and common areas.

The battle isn’t over once morning has arrived. Breakfast is your opportunity to balance rich holiday meals and treats with nutritious foods. Rather than relying on sugary convenience foods like pastries to get through the holidays, stock up on the healthy options your family is used to. A good breakfast prevents overeating later, and, according to HealthyChildren, helps kids function better throughout the day. Once breakfast is ready, serve it around the table. If you let kids eat on the couch just because it’s vacation, they may think it’s okay to bend other rules too.

If you still have a couple hours of calm after breakfast is finished and before guests arrive, use that time for reading and homework assignments. Later in the day there will be too many distractions for your children to focus. Plus, since they’re used to being in school at this time, kids are more willing to settle in for quiet activity.

The post-breakfast period is also a great time for parents to mentally prepare for the day ahead. Holidays can test your patience as a parent, especially if you find family get-togethers stressful, as so many people do. Take time to center yourself before festivities are underway. By carving out time for exercise, meditation, or another self-care activity, you’ll be able to take parenting challenges in stride.

Finally, make sure everyone knows what to expect from each day. Disruptions are unavoidable over the holidays, and keeping everyone on the same page is key to preventing unnecessary stress. When everyone is well-rested, well-fed, and knows what the day will bring, the whole family functions better.

Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood. 

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How to Survive Black Friday Without Destroying Your Budget or Your Bank Account!

For many Americans, Black Friday has become a ritual and expectation.  While we're not against Black Friday, the day can lead to buying things you don't need for more than you should pay. Here are some tips to help busy frugal families survive Black Friday without destroying your bank account or your budget.

How To Survive Black Friday

Set a Black Friday spending limit with your spouse.

Whether you handle your finances jointly or separately, discussing your financial goals with your spouse and getting on the same page is critical for a healthy marriage.  Come to an agreement on how much you will spend based on what you can afford.  Ideally, you would have money saved up for this expense, but if you're not there yet, you can at least agree on how much money you both will spend.

Think about what you want to buy before looking at the Black Friday ads.

Deciding what you want by looking at the ads is like going grocery shopping when you're hungry. If you let the ads tell you what you should buy, you're more likely to overspend and buy things that seem cool but you don't really need or don't help you reach your goals.

Free yourself from the pressure to buy something for everyone.  

Heartfelt gifts don't have to cost a lot of money. If you buy someone for every coworker or person you supervise, every family member, and all your friends, you'll be broke before you even get to Cyber Monday.  They probably won't even remember the gift you gave them in a few weeks. If you take the time to compose a handwritten note or make something from materials you have at home, the gift will be distinguishable from all the other gifts people get during the holidays.  If you're a person of faith, remember that Christmas isn't about presents in boxes. It's about the greatest gift we could ever receive.

Don't forget about any unused reward points, reward miles, or coupon app earnings.

One way to reduce your out of pocket costs for the holidays is to use accumulated reward points or miles. If you plan to travel during the holidays, you may be able to use your points for hotel stays and transportation and use your miles for plane tickets.  If you use Coupon apps like iBotta or Checkout51 and have accumulated enough money to cash out your savings, you may have enough extra money to drastically reduce the amount of money you need to contribute for holiday purchases.

Have another tip for saving money on Black Friday? Let us know in the comments!

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Preparing the Next Generation of Familypreneurs!

Want to teach your children entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, but don't know where to start?

Then let's get some advice from Familypreneur author Jean Pierre Rukebesha!


1. Why did you write Familypreneur?

There are five major reasons:

First, I wanted to share with parents especially those running their small businesses how they can nurture and educate their children from any early age the basics of entrepreneurship and along the way get the kids to have a keen interests in what Mom and Dad do and how it contributes to the overall family wellbeing and financial stability.

Second, the role of small business in the nations' economies and value creation is in general understated. When you turn on your TV or any media talking about business, all what you hear is about the big corporations in oil and gas, banking or technologies and how their values have gone up on the stock exchange. This is strange to many people focused in the small business communities!
Yet, small companies create on average 70% of the jobs every year! In other words, they are the biggest employer even those the head count is between 1 to 5 people.

Third, job security is something in the past; people used to work for corporations, receive pension benefits and when they retire, their financial situation would almost be guaranteed for the rest of their lives. Small business do the same for the owners too! Not only their pay (5 figure salary is possible for a young adult joining his parents within 3 to 5 years, which is hard to achieve when joining big corporations).

Fourth, job creation is at the center of each government; for start, why don't we try and keep those created in the small business community from generation to generation instead of stop and start we see every day (statistics show that 80% of new created business do not survive beyond five years).

Fifth, as a business advisor, I have seen the baby boomers phenomenon where many small businesses are closing down because the owner is retiring or old and none of his kids is prepared to take over; one of the reasons is parents assumed that kids will eventually take interests in what they do! Meanwhile, parents provided the educations but never talked about the ups and downs of running the business to their kids at a younger age; by the time they are teenagers and parents are trying to introduce the entrepreneurship concepts, it is too late! They have made up their minds to move on! Even when kids venture in the outside world do not work out, it is always hard to turn their attentions to what their parents do because of the unknown.

2. Tell us about your business and family.

I am an Accountant by trade focusing on advisory services. Beside my accounting practice, I co-own a Tour Operators company (we purchased it from a family which has owned it for 36 years - Rostad Tours Ltd), a kids playground (under construction - Luv2play Airdrie) and co-founded recently GN Compass, a fintech company in crypto-currency-backed loans.

I am married with 3 kids (2 boys and one girl - age 11, 10 and 7).

3. Why is it important to teach kids entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills?

If you look into the school curricula, entrepreneurship is never taught at a young age, not even mentioned for even curiosity sake; when we grow up, we find ourselves struggling to grasp the basic concepts of entrepreneurship! We just freeze and we think of business owners as those people who took on huge risks!

On the other hand, jobs are never easy to find, let alone job satisfaction and possibility of realizing someone's full potential.

When jobs are not coming buy, people turns into a survival mode where the next best option is starting something of your own - turn into entrepreneur! Yet, you have never been prepared.

Equally, financially literacy are important to everyone's financial stability! At the end of the day, a financial planner will only implement what you sign off; the younger we are fully conversant and comfortable discussing the financial matters, the better we will be prepared to make sound financial decisions.

4. How can parents involve your kids in their businesses?

Familypreneur tagline "The Six Keys to Raising Your Little Entrepreneurs" explains what the book is all about. The book provides a guide to achieve the entrepreneurship mindset in kids; just like we teach our kids good habits, manners, the does the same by offering the inside on how that conversation can be introduced in every home around the dinner table.

5. How can parents help their kids get started as entrepreneurs?

The book works as a guide; besides that, we learn best by trying things out. While the book offers many ideas each parent can implement, taking your kid on a job will work wonders.

It is interesting that Bill Gates announced this week that he will invest almost $ 1.7 billion reforming US public education over the next five years (because the existing elementary school model is no longer relevant to the digital economy). One of the 12 modules of a future elementary curriculum would be organized around "Entrepreneurship & Sales." 

The book supports this future revamped education model.

6. Where can people go to get more information from you?

I am on social media and LinkedIn
Please also visit my website:

What suggestions do you have for teaching entrepreneurship skills to kids?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Twelve Easy Ways to Save Money That Won't Make You Feel Frustrated!

Bills. Groceries. Debt. The struggle is real.

If you're anything like us, you need to save money to put more money toward your financial goals.

Getting out of debt. Building an emergency fund. Saving for retirement. Saving for college.

Here are some ways we save money that have helped in our journey to financial independence:

Twelve Easy Ways to Save Money

Monday, October 16, 2017

Save Money on Groceries at DAISO!

Do you like to shop at dollar stores? Do you like to get your shopping done fast? Then make a shopping trip to your nearest DAISO store!

The first thing we noticed after walking in the store was how bright the store was because of the white and pink color scheme.

Like many dollar stores, the majority of items are one price. At DAISO, most items are $1.50.  The extra fifty cents allows them to carry a few items you might not find at other dollar stores.

I've never seen felt at a dollar store before!

DAISO carries a variety of craft supplies!

DAISO also carries gardening supplies!

You will also find a large selection of toys!

Sports enthusiasts can also find items at DAISO.  While it's not $1.50, this tennis racket is a steal at $2.00!

DAISO even carries ping pong paddles and gloves!

DAISO even carries cleaning supplies.

The chandeliers at the checkout line are a nice touch!

You can also find a large selection of international food products to try!

Have you ever shopped at DAISO? What did you find?

Let us know in the comments!

Monday, October 9, 2017

How to Save Time and Money with Kroger Clicklist!

Too busy to go grocery shopping? Need to save money on groceries? Then try Kroger ClickList!

Save Time Grocery Shopping

As grocery stores get larger and larger, it takes longer and longer to walk all the aisles to find what you need. You can dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend by shopping online and picking up your items - outside the store.

Save Money on Groceries

Even when you go the store with a list, we often end up spending more because of impulse buys and items we find along the way.  One way to solve this problem is to buy your items online based on your grocery list so you don't buy any extra items.  You can also save money by using online ClickList coupons!

How to Buy Groceries with Kroger ClickList

First, you need to buy your groceries online.

Then you need to decide when you want to pick up your groceries.

When you arrive at the store, you will follow the ClickList signs to the pickup station.  At our local Kroger, the pickup station is on the side of the store.

Pull into the ClickList parking spaces and call the store using the phone number on the sign in front of the parking space to let the ClickList staff know you're ready for pickup.

Once the staff member arrived, she went over the items on the receipt and even loaded the items into our car!

The whole experience took between five and ten minutes! And no impulse purchases!

Summary of the Kroger ClickList experience:

  • Save time grocery shopping ✅
  • Save money on groceries ✅

Grocery shopping will never be the same!

Have you bought groceries online? What did you think of the experience?

Monday, October 2, 2017

Teach Your Kids The Drive to Learn - Interview with Author Dr. Cornelius Grove

Want your kids to be more successful in school and in life? We sure do.  Why are some children more successful than others? We certainly want to find out! That's why we interviewed Dr. Cornelius Grove, author of The Drive to Learn!

Why did you write The Drive to Learn?

Jennifer and Tony, thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my views. Since around 1970, an increasing number of Americans has become concerned about the accumulating evidence that our young people are not learning as much in school as the youth of several other cultures. Often noted as attaining superior academic results are Finland, Poland, Singapore, China, Japan, and Korea.
Among Americans who share this concern, the response is invariably to develop a wide variety of “reforms” for what goes on in schools. Well, that’s a reasonable thing to do. But let’s note that virtually all of our reforms address the roles of adults – educators and educational policy-makers – in enabling children to learn in classrooms. Virtually none of our reforms address the roles of the
children themselves in actually doing the learning in classrooms.

Surely the fact that our children aren’t learning enough isn’t 100% the fault of the adults. It’s the children who aren’t learning enough. They bear some of the responsibility. They’re part of the problem, so they must be part of the solution.

Professionally, I’m an interculturalist. Interculturalists focus on the differences between cultures at the level of assumptions, values, mindsets, and behaviors.

We like to compare different cultures. So my concern with the state of American education transforms into this question: “What can we learn from other modern cultures where the children consistently learn more in classrooms than American children do? What’s happening there that differs from what’s happening here?”

My next question quickly becomes, “Are there any other cultures about which we already know a great deal about all the factors that can possibly help to explain why children there learn more in classrooms?” 

Fortunately, the answer is “Yes!” We know a huge amount about children’s learning in East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea (and including Taiwan and Hong Kong). Since 1970, more than 500 studies
have provided answers to why children there learn more than children here. (Be aware that the findings don’t necessarily reflect student learning in East Asia today.)

The more I became acquainted with this mountain of research findings, the more I recognized that it’s loaded with insights that potentially are useful for our understanding of our own predicament. And here the thing: That research didn’t address only what happens in schools. It also addressed what happens in other areas of youngsters’ lives, especially in their homes. These findings are invaluable!

Why did I write The Drive to Learn

Because these findings are virtually unknown 1 to the American public, including to educators and educational policy-makers. I say “virtually unknown” because one important, research-based book did come to the attention of the American public during the early 90s: The Learning Gap, by Harold W. Stevenson & James W. Stigler (Simon & Schuster, 1992). So I made it my mission to share the researchers’ conclusions. I was in a good position to do this because I had lived and taught in China during 1986 and subsequently co-authored Encountering the Chinese (3rd Edition: Hachette, 2010).

How do successful students use class time?

The research makes it clear that East Asian students have expectations about the purpose of class time that differ sharply from American students’ expectations. In East Asia, the mastery of academic knowledge is deeply respected. Therefore, teachers are deeply respected. Books and other repositories of knowledge are treasured. And the time and intense effort required for a young person to master academic knowledge is widely admired. In fact, children who study long and hard to excel in school confer honor and “face” on their families within their community. When you put young people with these beliefs and values into a classroom with a teacher widely respected for her academic accomplishments, the outcome is going to be quite different from the typical outcomes in American classrooms.

That’s because East Asian young people view their in-class time as a valuable opportunity: Here’s their chance to gain knowledge from authoritative sources, the teacher and the textbook. Only 45 to 60 minutes are available; therefore…

East Asian students are quietly attentive. They are mentally engaged. They do not interrupt the teacher’s carefully planned delivery with questions or comments; that would take time away from the authoritative source. There is no expectation that they will be broken into small groups for discussions. Nor that the teacher will make the learning fun, lead them in a game, or seek their creative ideas. Nor that the last 10 minutes of class time will be for them to get started on the homework.

No! Anything that deprives their teacher of teaching time to teach is avoided. East Asian students certainly might have questions as the teacher makes her presentation. They might disagree with something, or even have a creative idea about a point the teacher made. All this may and does happen – mentally. But class time is not the time for students to speak. Class time is the teacher’s time to deliver knowledge. Class time is the students’ time to be receptive to the teacher.

How do successful students spend time outside of class?

The research also makes it clear that East Asian students have expectations about the purpose of out-of- classroom time that differ sharply from American students’ expectations. Yes, both American and East Asian students are given homework to be completed outside of class. (And let’s note the constant push here in America to reduce or even eliminate homework.) But that’s where the similarity ends.

Most of the “active learning” activities that Americans expect to find happening inside classrooms also happen in East Asia – outside of classrooms. And here’s the critical point: These activities are neither organized by, nor suggested by, the teachers. They’re initiated by the students themselves (above the primary grades). What are we talking about here? We’re talking about asking and answering questions, discussing, exploring, disagreeing with the material, offering one’s own ideas, discovering through additional research, finding practical applications – the types of activities that many American teachers try to make happen during class time. In East Asia, these occur in small study groups spontaneously organized by the students. Sound odd? Remember, academic learning is deeply respected inEast Asia; the existence of these study groups is one way we know that to be true.

If students want to ask the teacher a question, here is how that happens. First, there’s the time immediately after class, when students approach the teacher in the corridor outside the classroom. Then there are other times as well, such as at student-teacher social gatherings (which occur fairly often in East Asia). Or a student might even arrange to visit the teacher or professor in his home. In these cases, before approaching the teacher, a student typically does research on his own or within his study groups. The outcome is that, instead of simply asking the teacher about something not understood, the student is prepared to have an intelligent discussion with the teacher about a range of related factors. I taught in Beijing during 1986 and personally experienced student questions of these types.

How can Western parents help instill a drive to learn in their children?

The challenge that we must recognize is this: It’s the history and culture of East Asia that instills a drive to learn in East Asian families. Families, in turn, instill that drive in their newest members, their children. The history and culture of the United States is strikingly different in this respect. For anyone who would like to gain a deeper understanding of this fact, I recommend the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by historian Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1970). But the insight of those 500+ research studies remains valuable: Children who arrive at the schoolhouse door with a drive to learn are mostly the daughters and sons of parents with a drive to learn. We’re talking about academic learning, about the mastering of STEM subjects and other critical skills such as writing. Also revealed by the research is that parents in the two cultures – American and East Asian – have different ways to conveying their dedication to their child’s learning. American parents assume that, once their child is in kindergarten or first grade, his or her learning is largely the responsibility of the teachers. They see their role as supporting the teachers and the school. With their child, they largely assume the roles of encourager, cheerleader, self-esteem preserver, and – if absolutely
necessary – enforcer of rules such as homework-completion and media-limits.

East Asian parents tend to operate on a different assumption: that their child’s learning is continuously their responsibility. The key here is that in East Asia, the mastery of academic knowledge is deeply respected; a child’s doing so brings respect and “face” to the family. So the parents’ role is a proactive one.

In the book, I compare an East Asian parent’s role to that of an athletic coach. They are not merely cheerleaders. They are not self-esteem boosters (the child’s self-esteem grows organically as the result of hard work and high marks). Parents are participants with their child in insuring that he or she excels academically.

Look at the photo on the cover of The Drive to Learn. It shows a parent, at home, participating with her child in persevering study. I commissioned that photo, and I directed the photo shoot, to convey a parent’s responsibility being carried out.

The teacher? The teacher is very important as the respected authority on her subject. Her responsibility is to carefully prepare and coherently present classroom lessons. That’s not identical to responsibility for each student’s learning of that subject, which East Asian parents maintain as their responsibility.

There’s good news and bad news here. The good news is that, thanks to half a century of research and over 500 published research reports, we finally understand why East Asian students tend to perform better academically than other groups. The bad news is that we finally understand why they perform better academically. It has nothing to do with their native intelligence, their I.Q. or their aptitude. It has everything to do with their perseverance in studying, guided by their parents’ investment of thousands of hours of coaching, drilling, and participating. It’s a huge parental commitment and, let’s face it, it’s not what most American parents are ready to sign on for.

How does this book relate to your previous book?

In 2013, Rowman & Littlefield published The Aptitude Myth: How an Ancient Belief Came to Undermine Children’s Learning Today. Back around 2006, I had become curious about why most Americans assume that that a child’s school performance is due very largely to his native intelligence or I.Q. In most of the rest of the world, parents subscribe to what our own Ben Franklin said was the
recipe for success: “ninety-nine percent perspiration, one percent inspiration.” The deeper I dug for an explanation, the farther back in time I had to go to discover the source of Americans’ assumption about inborn aptitude. Well, I did find the source: Pythagoras, around 600 B.C.E.! But he wasn’t the main instigator. Culprit No. 1 was Aristotle, arguably the most influential thinker in all of Western
history. And right up there sharing the blame with Aristotle is the 19th century British philosopher and popular lecturer, Herbert Spencer. Spencer is so important to this story that he gets two chapters in The Aptitude Myth.

Anyone who finds the history of ideas fascinating is likely to enjoy reading The Aptitude Myth. And anyone can find more about it at

What else would you like to share about your book?

The Drive to Learn, which is only 182 pages long, is organized as a process of discovery. It begins by asking the basic question, “Why do American students learn less than East Asian students?” By referencing research findings, it finds an answer to that question, but recognizes that the answer raises a new question. Again by referencing the research, it finds the answer to that question – but recognizes that the answer raises still another new question… By the end of Chapter Nine, all questions are answered. Then, Chapter Ten addresses the practical question facing American parents, which is “To what extent could – should – this new information change the way we do things?” The Drive to Learn is extremely unusual in one way: It comes with an annotated bibliography! In writing the book, I relied heavily on 100 of those research reports. For each one of those 100, I wrote an annotation of 200 to 300 words. They’re not in the book.
They’re at

Where can people find out more from you?

I would be very happy to communicate with anyone interested in either of my two books via the “Contact” page of

Author of The Aptitude Myth (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013)
Author of The Drive to Learn (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017)

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Authors - Dr. Jennifer and Dr. Tony Edwards