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Money Management International Improving Lives Through Financial Education
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Keeping kids busy can be costly

MMI Copywriter

By Kim McGrigg, MMI Community Manager

Many parents don’t realize just how active their children are all day until they have to keep them occupied during summer vacation. In addition to the adjustment you’ll have to make simply managing your time, summer vacation also means facing a greater challenge managing your money.

Most parents expect and are prepared for the big summertime expenses such as vacations, summer camps, and child care. However, summers also can get expensive in terms of finding day-to-day activities that keep children occupied. Trips to the movies, dollars for the arcade, swim toys, and meals-on-the-run can turn into budget breakers if you aren’t prepared. The good news is that there are a lot of activities oriented specifically to children that cost very little, if anything at all.

Check community resources. Some organizations, such as churches, the YMCA, and the Boys & Girls Clubs, provide programs that include regular activities for kids of all ages. And in addition to being inexpensive, they benefit the children by involving them in sports, swimming, crafts and reading. Speaking of reading, it should play an important role in your child’s life all year long, so don’t forget to visit your local library!

Spend time in the great outdoors. Many state parks offer such activities as hiking, canoeing, and swimming. These activities can be a healthy form of exercise and offer a great low cost great alternative to movies and video games.

Encourage their creativity. Many child development experts say that children learn the most when they are playing. Provide them with art supplies and put them in the backyard or garage, where it’s all right to get a little messy, and encourage their inner Van Gogh.

Share responsibilities. After spending day after day with their school mates, your children are used to constant companionship. Play dates can be a good way keep childhood friendships alive and to share parental responsibilities.  Or check out this video on how to start a babysitting co-op.

Explore your own backyard. With a little imagination, sprinklers can turn into water parks and wagons into amusement rides. Take a nature walk in your own neighborhood to notice of the amazing array of bugs, birds, and plants normally taken for granted.

Finally, don’t forget that there is a reason they are called “the lazy days of summer.” Summertime is designed for taking it easy, so don’t stress too much about planning every minute. Even active children need a break and should be allowed to learn the art of relaxation.

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For richer or poorer: Financial planning for newlyweds


The summer wedding season is fast approaching. While this is a time of bliss and new beginnings, many couples forget to adequately plan for their financial future. Money Management International (MMI) offers many great resources to help couples successfully handle their finances. The latest eBook, Love and Money: Your Guide to the Coupling of Finance and Romance, addresses both the fun and serious sides of marrying two financial situations.

According to a recent national survey by, in conjunction with Synovate – a market research firm – nearly 40 percent of respondents said they have financial disagreements with their spouse either often or sometimes. Following are some helpful financial tips each couple should discuss before walking down the aisle.

Lay all your cards on the table. Clear, open communication is essential to the success of your marriage, especially when talking about finances. Couples should disclose all their debts and assets before the wedding.

Create financial goals together. Uniting in pursuit of a common financial goal can make marital bonds stronger because both partners are making sacrifices to achieve a greater goal. Real-life loves Kim and Matt created a system called MBO, or Marriage by Objective, to align their actions to achieve desired results.

Delegate responsibility. Typically, the physical act of paying the monthly bills falls to one partner, but both partners should know how to pay the bills if they need to. Some couples suggest giving one person responsibility over short term finances, like bill paying, and the other person responsibility over long term investments, such as saving for retirement.

Pay debts ASAP. For many newlyweds, especially those in their early twenties and thirties, student loan and credit card debt could be a major financial factor. If both partners have student loans (the average graduating senior has $19,237 in loan debt), then debt is creating quite a burden in the beginning of the marriage. Make paying back debts a priority early on.

One final piece of advice for newlyweds is to discuss values and set priorities. Before marriage, sit down with your partner and create realistic, achievable financial goals for your future. Learn to budget together and create a manageable cash flow system.

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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
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