Practice at Making Decisions

As adults, we constantly make small and large decisions that affect our financial lives. How did we learn that skill? Or did we? Making sound skillful decisions doesn’t necessarily come naturally. In addition to good advice and good examples, we need practice.

Find situations where your kids can make decisions. My mother bought the groceries and then each evening it was my role to decide what vegetable we’d have with dinner. Having chosen the vegetable, I could hardly complain about eating it. At back to school time, she’d gather a group of outfits and let me chose which five to buy. Notice that these early lessons had a failsafe built in since she chose the group from which I then chose. I had daily and yearly experiences of making successful decisions with good results.

I received a small allowance and could do as I pleased with it. I bought dumb stuff and wasted a lot of money, and that was a GOOD thing. I got all those impulse buys and scam situations out of the way before I was old enough for it to matter. NOTE: The reason I learned from this is that once I wasted my money, no one gave me more. I experienced the results over and over until I learned.

Help your kids and grandkids by making room for them to learn.




If you want self-esteem, do esteemable things. If you want children to have self-esteem, give them the opportunity to master skills and accomplish esteemable things. Telling a kid they are great is fine, but deep-down they know it’s just words. Give them hands-on experiences through which they can feel for themselves that they’ve accomplished something, helped someone, really done a thing.

52 Weeks: Children – College

Personally I think our nation has gotten carried away with ignoring the many rewarding careers that don’t require a four year degree. However, if your child wants one, here’s some thoughts from the book:

College also has various levels of spending that are possible

$0: (to parent) kid combines grants, loans, work, and scholarships

$0: kid joins military and they pay

$0: kid takes up college-irrelevant career

$10,000+-: community college, live at home

$200,000+: university, four years, live there

$300,000+-: umpteen advanced degrees

A surprising number of colleges in the U.S. offer free tuition. Most of them have limitations. They may require that you come from a set geographical area, or from a low-income family. Some involve work programs and others require work after graduation. Some of them are:

  • US Coast Guard Academy
  • S. Naval Academy
  • Merchant Marine Academy
  • Air Force Academy
  • Military Academy
    • The military schools have stringent entry requirements and they require five to eight years service after graduation
  • Alice Lloyd Collegein KY
  • Berea College, KY
  • Cooper Union in NYC
    • As of 2014, they only cover half of the tuition
  • Collegeof the Ozarks in Lookout Point, MO
  • Cornell University, NY (Ivy League)
    • Free tuition for students from low income families
  • Barclay Collegein Haviland, Kansas (Bible college)
  • Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia
  • Deep Springs Collegein CA
  • Franklin W. Olin Collegeof Engineering, MA
  • Louis Christian College, MO
  • Webb Institute in Glen Cove, NY (engineering)
  • William E. Macaulay Honors Collegeat CUNY, NY
  • Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, PA

To see if there are any I overlooked, search on “colleges with free tuition.”



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

52 Weeks: Children – How Much Do They Cost?

I have seen articles on the Internet that say it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, a quarter of a million dollars, to raise a child. There may be families who can and do spend that much. I also know families who couldn’t if they wanted to. My own experience is that kids cost as much as you are prepared to spend.

For instance, there are several levels of spending to choose from:


$0: hand me downs. I wore my older cousin’s clothes, and when I outgrew them, handed them on to her younger sister.

$small: rummage sale, garage sale, thrift store, and consignment store purchases. For very young children especially, garage sales are a bonanza of barely used clothes

$big: new clothes from a discount store

$huge: new designer clothes from a high-end department store



$0: older sibling’s hand me downs

$15: sneakers, new

$35: leather shoes, new

$200: fashionable athletic shoe, new, that are outgrown in six months


Each family applies its own values and preferences to deciding what levels to spend on.




Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.