Monday, August 29, 2016

Homework-Free Election Night

I went to my daughter's Back to School Night and lobbied the Principal, Vice Principal and all of her teachers to consider giving no homework on Election Night (with the possible exception of a US History/Government teacher assigning the homework of watching Election Night results). I was pleased that everyone seemed on board with the idea and surprised that the most enthusiastic response came from the AP Chemistry teacher, since his class is the most intense.

While it should apply for the mid-term elections too, I think we'll meet less resistance this year in particular since we'll have a new President no matter what. I think it's also appealing to the teachers, since they probably want to watch, too.

Since most probably haven't had their Back to School Night yet, I encourage parents to take advantage of that opportunity to ask the teachers and administrators to consider no homework on Election Night. I will also be following up with an email in a few weeks.

Of course, this isn't just to give adults the night off. I will be requiring my daughter to watch with me. In addition to discussing the electoral college, here in California, we'll be discussing propositions, and keeping an eye on the results for the House and Senate. My daughter has also been watching The West Wing with me, so she's particularly interested in U.S. government and politics. That (and Hamilton, of course) have already given us many opportunities to discuss issues, so I think she's actually looking forward to it, too!

I hope you'll join us in educating our families about the political process and ensuring that our children look forward to the civic responsibilities of voting in the future. I believe that no homework on Election Night is a small step in raising (or at least, not decreasing) voter turn-out for elections to come.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Balancing Wants v Needs - or not

I heard an interesting concept on the HerMoney podcast: that wants may be needs after all. Author Sarah Newcomb makes the argument that what we normally refer to as "wants" are really meeting fundamental needs.

Thinking about this through my own budget lens, my Theatre Tix category comes to mind. Do I need to see Hamilton? I would joke that yes, yes I do, but of course, that's an exaggeration. But thinking about it, planning for it, imagining it when I listen to the cast fulfills my needs for participation, leisure, creation, identity and freedom.

So maybe, when looking at the categories where you tend to overindulge, ask yourself, "what need(s) does this satisfy? Are there other ways I can create that satisfaction?" And bonus: coming up with new ways to minimize these expenses will also satisfy your fundamental need for creativity!

Some people, for instance, won't listen to cast recordings until after they've seen a show. I prefer to spend $10-20 on a cast recording before I shell out hundreds for tickets to see if it's something that interests me. I tend to meet friends for lunch instead of dinner to save both time and money. Lunches are cheaper than dinners or even drinks sometimes, and it doesn't interfere with my schedule for picking up Riley after work.  I don't subscribe to music services because I have enough in my iTunes and Amazon Prime libraries to keep the music varied without another monthly bill. (Plus, I still listen to Hamilton more than half the time, anyway!)

If this sounds daunting, remember two things:

1) We adapt all the time. Technologically alone, we all try new things on a regular basis. Instead of thinking of this as a sacrifice, think of it as an adaptation.

2) This is an opportunity to get more of what you want: you get your needs met, plus you get to save money for other needs/wants.

And hey, when you come up with solutions and plop down the $$ for that "want", you can honestly say to yourself, "I need this!"