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## Important Lessons I Learned From My Parents

A few weeks ago, J and I went out to dinner with my parents. When the check came, my dad asked J to calculate the tip. Luckily we had just talked about this, so he was able to figure it out — but it made me think about all of the other money and finance lessons I’ve learned from my parents.

So far I’ve mentioned that my dad would drill me on the rule of 72 and part of any money I received had to go towards opening savings bonds, but there were many more lessons over the years.

My dad was relentless with the sayings:

• You don’t have to spend it all!
• Don’t spend more than you make
• Save some for a rainy day

When I was in middle school, he took me to our local credit union and we opened a checking account. He showed me how to write checks and use an ATM card.

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## The Rule of 72 and Exponential Growth

Have you heard of the Rule of 72? (It sounds boring, doesn’t it? I promise you, it’s not.)

The Rule of 72 is a quick way to determine how many years it will take for money to double with a given interest rate. Divide the interest rate into 72 and get the approximate number of years.

For example, at 8% interest, money will take about 9 years to double.

72 / 8 = 9

So let’s say that you have \$100. In 9 years, you’ll have about \$200.

When I was a kid, my dad would drill me on the Rule of 72 — mainly in the car on long trips. At the time, it wasn’t very interesting. So what if I’d have \$200 in 9 years? (Actually, it seemed terrible. I’d have to wait 9 years to have a measly \$200? Why was that worth talking about?)

The key, though, that makes this concept REALLY powerful is…

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## 3 Amazing Resources That Helped Me Get Control of My Finances

Being a blogger who writes about teaching my son personal finance — maybe you think I’ve always been good with money. That’s what gives me the creds, right?

Eh… not exactly.

I’ve never been in a really bad place, but I’ve never felt really good — like I was in control and going in the right direction.

It’s not for lack of trying. I tried for YEARS to get it together and feel good about my state of affairs. I’ve always balanced my checkbook and attempted budgeting at various points in my life (even enlisting my cousin’s help as she learned about it herself). There were homegrown worksheets and an elaborate configuration involving a shoebox and manilla folders with the days of the month for organizing receipts.

But I didn’t have a system that worked. I didn’t have a direction, or goals, or practical steps to take to meet those goals.

Until three years ago.

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## Celebrating Birthdays Without All the Presents

J will be 9 in a few months (!) and we’re having a swimming birthday party at the Y. For his last party, we went mini golfing with his friends, and we came home with more presents than we knew what to do with.

This time around, we’re going to scale down a bit, starting with presents.

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## Teach Your 8-Year-Old to Calculate the Tip

Calculating the tip is a great way to practice percentages. These days, I don’t think many people do much math with a pencil and paper. We rely on technology for almost everything — even things as simple as calculating the tip at a restaurant are now done with a tablet on the table or an app on your phone.

I think it’s important, however, to put the technology aside for a bit and work through a problem by yourself. That’s what we’ve been doing here for awhile — by keeping account registers, learning how to calculate percentages, practicing those calculations, and even tracking our spending on vacation. All with pencil and paper. Old school.

My favorite lessons are those that he can practice himself (hands-on!), that make sense in the real-world (are meaningful, relatable and useful), appropriate for his age and are interesting and even fun. (I realize I may be stretching the definition of fun.)

In that vein, I taught J how to calculate a 20% tip at a restaurant.