My Day to Be Special

As parents of six small children, we have found it a real challenge to help each child recognize that he is special. Realizing that many discipline problems can be alleviated if a child feels good about himself, we came up with a plan that works well for our family.

On Sunday, after our family time, the children draw slips of paper telling which day of the coming week will be their “special day.” Each child gets one day a week, with the Sabbath designated as “Jesus’ special day.” A child whose special day it is gets the following privileges:

1. He alone, with mom and dad, sits in the front seat of the car if the family travels that day.

2. Whoever has Wednesday or Thursday is assured of accompanying dad to his church ball game or practice.

3. If an errand to a store is necessary, the “special child” gets to go with mom or dad.

4. Prayers on the food may be given by the child that day, or he may choose someone else to say it (under father’s direction).

5. If there is an extra piece of dessert or candy, the special child gets it.

6. The special child gets his first choice of house-cleaning jobs to be done that day.

7. If a choice can be given on what food to have for dinner, the special child gets to make it.

8. The special child is allowed to choose which story will be read at bedtime.

9. If there is a conflict over a television show, the special child is allowed to make the final decision (with parents’ approval).

10. A “love note” is given to the special child of the day, expressing gratitude for that child belonging to our family and complimenting him for at least one act or deed or quality he has that is positive.

11. The highlight of the special day is being allowed to stay up about thirty minutes longer than the other children at night. (If a child has difficulty going to bed and following the rules, his time is shortened on his special day.) The child is given the parents’ undivided attention during this time. He chooses an activity such as being read a special story, playing a game, being rocked in a rocking chair, or drawing with mom and dad. The children who are put to bed earlier are allowed to have their lights on and read or look at books until the special child is put in bed, then all lights go out.

We have found that by having special days, much of the contention is alleviated in our home. It has decreased bickering and complaining and feelings of unfairness; each child now feels more important and secure, and we see more positive behavior. There are still problems, but we can see a wonderful improvement in our home life. Richard Daines and Laura Daines, Hyde Park, Utah

Away with Spring Cleaning

I’m a more relaxed person than I was eight years ago. And all because I’ve found a way to abolish “spring cleaning”: I rotate it throughout the year.

When discouragement and frustration with the task overwhelmed me, I set up a schedule which has allowed me to concentrate on in-depth cleaning of one room (or sometimes two) each month. One day I wash walls, another day I clean closets or drawers, on another I wash or clean the drapes or curtains. Then I take a day to clean the carpet, if necessary. By the end of the month, the room has been thoroughly cleaned.

I don’t schedule a room in June, July, or August, as summer is left for canning, yard work, and outings. Nor do I schedule a room in December, giving me needed time for holiday preparations.

You can adapt such a schedule to your own home—and successfully avoid the heavy demands on your time and energy of “spring cleaning.” Gayle Pehrson, Sandy, Utah

Living on Less Than We Earn

If we want to be free from financial concerns—either as individuals or as families—we need to learn to live on less than we earn. To accomplish this goal, we must be able to—

1. Estimate what we will earn and spend over a specified period of time, generally six months to a year.

2. Make a budget plan that will guide us in spending less than we earn during this period.

3. Combine innovation with discipline in our spending plan.

My wife and I have found several ways to live on less than we earn. You might find our experience helpful.

Food in Bulk

Food in bulk. Up until a few years ago, we tried to save money on meat by buying sides or quarters. But invariably we first ate the cuts of meat we liked best, and the others would often get so old they had to be thrown away. My parents suggested a solution to this problem: Determine the cuts of meat you like best, set aside money in savings for them, wait until the cuts of meat are on sale, and then buy a large quantity. This approach reduced our meat costs by about 30 percent.

Factory Outlets

Factory outlets. Our two oldest daughters had wanted long party dresses, the kind that looked old-fashioned with lots of lace. My wife had priced such dresses and found they cost far beyond our clothing budget. Then a friend suggested she try a factory outlet store. She found some dresses marked irregular, with minor flaws which didn’t detract from the garment’s appearance; others were marked seconds, with serious problems which a skilled seamstress could hide. Other dresses were in perfect condition—styles from the previous year or ones that for various reasons had not sold. Sydney saved about 60 percent of the regular retail prices—and the dresses were exactly what the girls wanted.

Small specialty shops, factory outlets, or stores that deal in freight-damaged merchandise, outdated styles, or day-old food items can save you money. Guides have been published listing outlets for special tools, foods, appliances, computers, books—virtually any consumer product. Check a bookstore that carries local or regional publications for such guides, or make creative use of the telephone book.

The White Card System

The white card system. Our family uses a budget approach called the “white-card system,” wherein we record difficult-to-control expense categories on white index cards. As an example, my wife wrote the budgeted amount for February’s food at the top of one card: $220. Our first purchase for food was made on February 2 and amounted to $165, or three-fourths of our monthly food budget. (We try to do the bulk of our food shopping at one time—usually the beginning of the month. This saves trips to the market where we will be exposed to impulse buying; it also saves on gasoline.) As the purchase was made, Sydney took from her purse the white card labeled “Food.” She subtracted the $165 from $220, leaving $55. Three more shopping trips were made during the month for milk, produce, and other food items. After each purchase, the dollar amount subtracted from the previous balance told her how much she had yet to spend.

A new card is used for each month. When the month is over, it is replaced and the old one is kept for future reference.

We can also use the white-card system to control expenses that do not occur every month. As an example, although buying school clothes is not a monthly expense, we still accumulate money for them in our savings account throughout the year so we can purchase the clothes during sales. We use one white card for each child and put the dollar amount we plan to spend on him or her at the top. Then we list the items they would like to have down the left-hand side of the card. As we determine the various prices of the items, we write them on the cards. In this way we know if we can afford all or only some of the items desired by each child. A prioritizing process must sometimes take place so that we purchase the articles they want and need the most and the ones that are the best buys. As items are purchased, the cost is deducted from each child’s budgeted amount so that Sydney knows how much money is left.

Parents who live on less than they earn provide a proper example for their children. The more adequately we prepare our families for the future, the more successfully they will be able to cope with it. Chet Harmer, CPA, San Jose, California.

Illustrated by Phyllis Luch