Competition Dance Costs

Dance competition costsCompetition dance … why does this always bring up images of Abby Lee Miller?

The last time I wrote about financing competitive dance, Piper had just finished her first season. (Read that post first if you are brand new to this!) I meant to write again last year, but money is such a sensitive topic. Every time I put amounts down in black/white – I cringe. Perhaps it’s better that I waited, because a lot has happened between Year 2 and Year 3.

The biggest change for us was a change in studios. Many things led to our decision, but it was the right move for us on a lot of levels. And, now, one year later – oh my stars, we made the right move!

So, money … where are we now, what’s the same and what’s changed. First of all, I still track every penny. With that said, I can accurately account for how things have changed from year to year.

Our grand totals each year:

Year 1: $8,356.27 – 2 dances
Year 2: $13,565.75 – 5 dances
Year 3: $10,641.91 – 8 dances

For ease of comparison, I’ll call the studio we were at for years 1and 2, Studio A. Our studio for year 3 will be Studio B.

competition dance costsTUITION: This is a little different at our Studio B. Tuition covers your weekly technique classes. At Studio A, it covered your weekly technique classes and your mandatory competition dance choreography and cleanings. (So, basically, in year 1- we got classes, plus two dance choreography/cleanings in our $260/month. In year 2 – we got classes, plus three dance choreography/cleanings in our $260month.) 

At Studio B, our monthly tuition was $275/month. (That is raising to $300/month this coming year.) Piper took 11 classes each week and our tuition only covered those technique classes.

However, we are also offered the option of paying for the entire year in advance. We get a small discount when we take advantage of the offer. For our family, it’s a huge outpour of funds all at once, but it’s $300/month that we know is already paid. That comes in really handy when Christmas comes around, or an unexpected financial emergency arises.

Total for tuition (Year 2) = $2,717.50
Total for tuition (Year 3) = $2,500

CHOREOGRAPHY/CLEANING: The last time I wrote about this topic, we were only doing our mandatory dances. At Studio A, you paid a choreography fee for any “extra” dance – solo, group, duo/trio, etc. For example, we paid $350 for solo choreography, $134 for trio choreography, and $110 for a tap small group with 5 girls. 

competition dance costsAt Studio B, we pay a choreography fee for every dance. It’s nice for a few reasons. We are given the cost of each dance – a solo is $450, a duet is $550, small groups are $800, large groups are $1,000. The cost is split between the dancers in each group. For example, Piper could be cast in a group with 4 girls and our cost would be $200 for that number. But she could also be cast in a small group with 9 girls and it would be $88.89. 

Given those costs and the odds of what a “worst case scenario” could be, we are able to tell the director how many solos, duo/trios, groups we (1) think our daughter can handle and (2) our wallet can handle. 

At Studio A, for the dances that required a choreography fee, it was truly just that – choreography only. From there, you paid a “cleaning fee” every time that dance was cleaned ($35/half hour, $70/hour). This meant that I was constantly running into the studio waving cash … and needed to have odd increments of bills available at all times. It was C-R-A-Z-Y. Especially for someone (me) who HATES carrying cash. 

At Studio B, the cleaning fees for all group dances are included in the choreography cost. Thank you, Jesus! (I mean that literally.) It also means that although things are expensive on the front end, once it’s paid – it’s paid. 

Total for choreography/cleaning (Year 2) = $280 (one dance)
Total for choreography/cleaning (Year 3) = $680 (six dances)

SOLO/DUETS/TRIOS: This is another area that we hadn’t explored last time. In Year 2, we started with a solo and during spring break added a trio, so those costs might be a bit skewed. For Year 3, we did a solo and trio again.

Both Studio A and B do this the same way. You pay a choreography fee and then you pay for each cleaning separately. I think that’s industry standard. 

competition dance costsThese are the take aways that I have about a solo: A solo is worth every penny. The growth that comes from one-on-one time with your teacher is golden. 

There are many kids that do multiple solos. For us, financially, we would rather Piper be in more group dances than add another solo. When she’s older and if she still thinks that this is what she wants to REALLY do as a career, we’ll add another solo. But, for now, our choice is one solo and more groups.

Total for solo/cleanings (Year 2) = $1,155
Total for trio/cleanings (Year 2) = $333 (1/2 season)

Total for solo/cleanings (Year 3) = $1,380
Total for trio/cleanings (Year 3) = $478

COSTUMES: I now consider myself a costume expert. We’ve done catalog and custom-made, and semi-homemade (catalog, then alter it to look like something else!). I’ve also learned that a lot of what happens with a costume depends on your studio and what they consider standard. 

At Studio A, more was better. And more, and more. I love me some bling, but it was a lot! And many times the additions to the costume cost more than the basic costume. 

At Studio B, we have some gorgeous costumes, too. But, there was a bit more of a “Let’s try it like this … if we see it needs more, then we’ll add more. But, let’s not just do it because we can.” And, guess what? Many times, costumes were gorgeous “as is”. It made a difference in the bottom line.

My advice – learn to stone. Order stones wholesale. Both of these things will save you LOADS of money. And, some of the best Dance Mom moments I’ve had have come over a costume and a gross of crystals!

Total for costumes (Year 2) = $835.73 – 6 costumes
Total for costumes (Year 3) = $674.44 – 8 costumes

competition dance costsCOMPETITION FEES: Last time, I wrote about how surprised I was when the time came to pay fees for competitions. It was significantly more than I ever imagined. Well, that was with two dances … so imagine how numb I am now!

To be honest, groups aren’t much (in the grand scheme). They run $35-45 on average. Duo/trios will run approximately $60. Solos are about $100. 

The upside is that there is prize money. Whoo hooo! This is slightly different for each competition and sometimes depends on the number of entries in a category. It’s also an opportunity for studios to handle this in different ways.

Studio A – solo – the money is applied to your account; duo/trio/groups – the money is split and applied to your account. 

Studio B – solo – the money is applied to your account; duo/trio – the money is split and applied to your account; groups – the money goes to the studio.

Total for competitions (Year 2) = $1,262.82 (5 dances)
Total for competitions (Year 3) = $1,601.68 (8 dances)

CONVENTIONS: When I write you this time next year, I will be an expert in this field. Our studio is doing all conventions next year with the exception of one competition. (Even doing a convention nationals!) We did one convention this year and Piper loved it. For me, I love that there are scholarship opportunities and (in our case, at least) the teachers in the sessions are amazing. 

Of course, they are more expensive. For Piper’s age, we are looking at $225-260/per convention + competition fees. I’m thinking that it will add about $1,000 to our overall costs. We will have to weigh whether or not we stay in the convention hotel or drive back/forth from home for the local events. Staying in the hotel is another added cost, so we’ll play that one by ear.

competition dance costsATTIRE: With a change in studio, brought a new change in attire (logo jacket/pants). My best advice for this is “buy with room to grow”. I got two seasons out of Piper’s attire for Studio A, and I will get 2 years and possibly more out of Studio B. 

STUFF: I still love “the stuff” … the DVDs, the photos, the shirts, the programs … I’m a sucker. It’s probably worse because I’m such a memory keeper with scrapbooking and Project Life. But, I have learned when to pass it by and when to buy, but more often then not – I’ll buy. 

PACKING IT UP: I’m still in love with my Dream Duffel. You might recall from the last post that I had a small duffel. I’ve now graduated to a medium and could probably use a large! The Dream Duffel holds up so well and they’ve come out with so many accessories since my original posting specifically on them. I can’t recommend it enough. 

If you are new, my advice would be to buy the basics – the duffel, their hangers (they are worth the money), and their garment bags. Then, after your first competition, order the additional accessories that you wish you had. 

TRAVEL: This is always a biggie. Thankfully, we’ve gone to three nationals that are within driving distance for us. Next year, we will be flying. It’s still the single biggest expense of the year, but we’ve had such good experiences – I don’t regret it. If we did a nationals close to home, I’m not sure it would feel like nationals.

We’ve done condos alone, we’ve shared a house with friends, we’ve cooked in and eaten out … there are so many ways to try to make it cheaper, but in the end – you have to do what works for you. There are certainly pros and cons to every scenario. The bottom line is to plan early, budget, and make sure that you have all the information. (A huge key piece is “What day is my first dance?” If you are trying to pinch pennies, you might not want to show up on Saturday if you don’t dance until Thursday.)

No matter where we go or how we slice it, nationals for us is a $3,000 trip every year. And, probably $5,000 next year with flights.

———

competition dance costsSo, here we are three years later, still paying over $10k per year for a little girl to dance. Is it worth it? There aren’t enough “yes-es”. 

Piper has grown so much – 1,000% since we joined Studio B. She is independent, confident, and has a work ethic that most adults don’t have. She has never once complained about going to class or missing out. 

More than anything, we’ve seen a talent blossom in her. And as long as she wants to nurture that talent, then it’s my job to make sure that she can.

Will she dance forever, who knows? I hope so. Right now, she plans on it. But, because this investment goes beyond the dance studio, I’ve gotten my money’s worth if she quit tomorrow.

For our family, this amount doesn’t come easy. There’s a lot of sacrifice, and thankfully, my mom helps out each month. Don and I both work extra jobs … and Don works A LOT of long hours. But, when I see how happy Piper is when she’s dancing and how her face lights up the second her foot steps on the stage – I’d do it a thousand times over. And, a thousand times again.

Heavy Hearted

My heart is heavy today. I had another post lined up, but just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around it — so it will wait.

Two dear friends are grieving. One in the loss of a daughter. Another in the loss of a mother.

One is a mentor to me.

The other is someone that I hope I have in some way mentored.

Both losses make me feel like someone has punched me in the gut. I’m brokenhearted in their loss.

This was the heart scripture of Allyson … but it fits Patricia as well.

My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Until then, I’m resting on another verse from Psalm, chapter 30, verse 5 “Joy comes in the morning.” Thank you, Jesus for that promise.

Rest in peace, incredible ladies. This world will miss you.

 

 

Kim of Queens

Kim of QueensThank you, LifetimeTV for Kim of Queens. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I love a lot of things about life, but two of the top ranking things are pageants and reality TV. LifetimeTV has brought these two things together in a series: Kim of Queens.

Kim Hardee Gravel is a character. I’m pretty sure we would be instant best friends if we met in real life. Kim is a former Miss Georgia. (Miss America pageant system.) She is 100% southern and a straight-shooter. She has an impeccable sense of style and can see potential in even the most awkward teen girl.

Kim of Queens takes place at The Pageant Place, a one-stop pageant training paradise owned by Gravel. Girls that are clients of The Pageant Place are coached in interview, walk, presentation, wardrobe, and talent.

Kim GravelAssisted by her mother, Jo Hardee – a former Miss South Carolina contestant, and her sister, Allisyn Vararalla – another pageant veteran, Kim has her hands full. Jo is full of style and grace, she has a voice of real reason and is extremely grounded. Allisyn, on the other hand, is the life of the party. She is the polar opposite of Kim — in every way imaginable. I absolutely love Allisyn! I ache for the episodes that feature her.

Episodes of Kim of Queens showcase a different pageant or pageant prep session each week. You get to see Kim and her team in action in a big way. It’s a great mix of fabulous coaching, comedy in the prep, and a behind the scenes look at the pageant world. Kim’s words of wisdom and genuine love for making the girls that cross her path become more than just beauty queens is completely inspiring.

Don’t think for one minute that Kim Gravel is a one-trick pony. She also owns Hardee Girl cosmetics. From bronzing powder to lip gloss, Kim understands how to take someone from plain-Jane to super model. You will see the magic she produces as you watch the transformation of her clients on Kim of Queens. I would kill to sit in a chair and have her wave her wand of awesome across this ol’ face. Seriously.

So when can you watch Kim of Queens? It’s on Lifetime on Tuesday nights right after Dance Moms. (Hello, night of guilty pleasure television!) Tune in at 9:00 PM Central.

If, by chance, you have missed this gem … check out this clip:

 


Tonsil, Adenoid, and Turbinate Surgery

Tonsil Adenoid Turbinate SurgeryMy daughter just had tonsil, adenoid, and turbinate surgery. We counted down to the surgery date for 2 months, and as much as I thought I was prepared … I found out a mere 24 hours post-op that I wasn’t.

Piper, age 9, has always been healthy. She is extremely active and a ball of life. This fall, on separate occasions that happened within a few weeks of each other, teachers and friends mentioned Piper being a mouth-breather. I know that she has a nasal-y voice, but it’s always been that way – so I just counted it as part of what made her cute. She’s always snored. Her dad snores louder than a freight train, so that was easy to pass off. Finally, I overheard her dance teacher tell Piper to “keep her mouth closed.” I got onto her after class about talking. She quickly let me know that she wasn’t talking, she literally had her mouth open … so she could breathe!

Upon further questioning, it became apparent that for the majority of the time and for most of her life, she hasn’t been able to breathe through her nose. Wow … what a revelation. I immediately asked for recommendations for an ENT via Facebook, and several people mentioned the same doctor. I wasted no time and called for an appointment.

At our initial appointment, the doctor did a scope to check the size of Piper’s turbinates. They were much larger than normal, so we were prescribed a nasal spray to see if this would help. We had a 6 week follow-up appointment and it was then that surgery was recommended: tonsil, adenoid, and turbinate surgery.

We were told that for the first 7 days, Piper would need to be out of school. For days 8-14, she would not be able to do any physical activity. Piper is on a competition dance team and she is right smack dab in the middle of her active season. Trying to find 2 weeks that she could sit out was a bit of a scheduling nightmare. (Yes, I completely realize that I’m working around a dance schedule to find time for a surgery, but in our house – that’s how it rolls.)

As luck would have it, it worked out that Piper could do a huge competition weekend, then have her surgery on the Tuesday following. She would miss that week of school and the next week was Spring Break! Perfect!

In the days leading up to surgery, she began to have some questions.  

1. Will I have an IV? I scoured the internet and found that for this surgery and with children, most often the kids are put to sleep with gas and then the IV is inserted (after they are asleep). This came true in our case. (And, no, it doesn’t hurt when they take it out.)

2. Can I take something with me into surgery? Piper was at a hospital, not a surgical center – not sure if that makes a difference or not, but Piper was allowed to take her favorite blanket and keep it with her the entire time. That thing is her lifeline. She is instantly comforted when it is near.

Surgery montageDay 1 – Surgery Day: The surgery took approximately 1 hour. Only 1 of us was able to go back with Piper to get her ready. I asked three different times for them to get Don and send him back, but that didn’t happen. If we had it to do again, I would be more firm that both parents go back. After surgery, two of us were able to visit Piper in the recovery room. My son, Avery, was quite concerned about Piper, so he and I went back. Once she was awake, the nurses had Avery assist with feeding her popsicle. Our doctor suggests that all children stay in recovery for 2 hours before being released to go home.

After we got home, Piper was very alert and chatty. Whispery-chatty, but certainly happy. She napped a bit on and off, but was happy just watching TV and hanging out. Initially, she could breathe through her nose perfectly, but as it began to swell – she wasn’t able to any longer.

Pain was completely under control  for approximately 16 hours …. until 2:00 AM. When I gave her her pain meds at 2:00 AM, she nearly came unglued. She literally jumped from her seat. The pain had most definitely set in and the IV meds were gone.

Day 2 – Pain was certainly at a much higher level today. We gave the oral pain medication around the clock every 4 hours. Because of the turbinate surgery, we had Piper stay in the recliner. She napped on and off for the majority of this time. She would sip on ice water and ate about 1/4 of a popsicle.

Post OpDay 3 – This day was much like Day 2. She was awake a bit more, but pretty much a carbon copy. We still kept the oral pain medication going every 4 hours around the clock. On this day, some nasal drainage began. It wasn’t so significant that she was forced to wear the nose/gauze contraption, but enough that she went through an entire box of tissues. Piper managed to eat about 1/2 a popsicle and about 1/2 a cup of ice water on Day 3. A bad mouth odor set in today. (I was warned of this by another mom.) I had suggested that Piper swish out her mouth with water and just run a toothbrush over her braces. While swishing with water, Piper fainted. It was an extremely scary moment. I debated on taking her to the ER, but opted to first call the doctor-on-call. The doctor felt that she was just weak from her lack of food and was showing the signs of dehydration. We gave her Gatorade to bring her blood sugar level up. The stress that this brought to her body made for a long night’s sleep.

Day 4 – Piper was still very tired today. I spread her pain medications out to every 6 hours instead of every 4 hours after she complained that it tasted terrible and just overall made her feel bad. Later on day 4, we stopped the pain medicine. Piper said she didn’t need it any more. This day was a full day of rest and trying to promote a lot of liquids to fight off dehydration. She had periods of hot flashes that seemed to be eased with a wet washcloth on her head. The very tip of Piper’s nose is bruised from the turbinate surgery and she has a lot of clear drainage. The doctor said that she shouldn’t blow her nose, and she complains that the contraption that hooks behind her ears to hold the gauze on is aggravating. With that, she prefers to just wipe with a tissue. She says that her nose isn’t sore at all. If your child goes this route, be prepared … she went through about a box per day.

Day 5 – We focused a lot on day 5 on eating to try and build strength. Piper was still very weak and her appetite was non-existent. In the evening, she perked up quite a bit and actually sat up on the couch and played cards. It was nice to see a sweet smile and see her playing. She took no pain medication at all on day 5. The mouth odor was really bad and in looking in her throat, you could see that the wounds were healing.

Day 6 – Piper still isn’t eating – at all, to be completely honest. It was a somewhat yucky day outside, but we thought that it might do Piper a bit of good to get out of the house. We decided to take her to the movie. Her dad carried her in and out. She enjoyed the movie and stayed awake the entire time (a feat that she seldom meets when she’s healthy). Once we were home, she managed a board game at the kitchen table and drank about 1/3 of a slushie from Sonic.

Day 7 – We were back at the doctor’s office for a 9:00 AM post-op appointment. We got some good news and some bad news. Good news: Everything is healing perfectly. Bad news: She’s lost 11.4 pounds. For Piper, that’s roughly 20% of her body weight. Ugh. We were charged with getting her to eat. She had also developed a cough and were given the freedom to treat her with an OTC medication – as long as it didn’t contain Ibuprofen. As for her nose/drainage, it seems to be less. Piper says that she still can’t breathe through her nose because it’s swollen on the inside, but she’s not in pain.

Post-Op 2Day 8 – Still no food. We’ve finally had to warn Piper that if she doesn’t begin to eat, she won’t be able to return to dance next week. Cue the waterworks. After much begging, she did eat 1/2 cup of an Oreo McFlurrie. Today, I’m happy for that – we’ll worry about nutrition tomorrow. (PS – This was the day that Piper technically should have returned to school. There’s no way that could have happened.)

Day 9 – On this day, we turned a corner. Piper knew that she had to eat in order to return to dance. For her, that’s all the motivation she needed. I honestly think that she just needed to get something in her stomach in order to trigger the urge/need to eat again. At the end of the day, she had eaten 2 pieces of french toast, about 1/4 cup of yogurt, and a bowl of pasta with alfredo sauce.  She also drank 32 oz of Gatorade at the recommendation of a pediatrician friend.

Day 10 – This is the first day that I think Piper could have realistically returned to school. (We are on Spring Break!) She ate pretty regularly all day. Still moderately soft foods, but she was definitely more her “old” self. We, again, made sure that she drank all 32 oz of Gatorade. (For the record, my friend said to use “real” Gatorade for this purpose, not G2.) We went out for dinner and she felt like playing with friends. I weighed her and she had not gained any weight back, but she hadn’t lost any additional weight either — so I was pleased. She is able to slightly breathe through her nose. I’m hoping for this portion of her recovery to speed up!

 

Buying in Bulk

Buying BulkDo you buy in bulk? Maybe you think you should …

Costco has just hit my section of town and all of a sudden, the world is abuzz with bulk buying.

Here are my three hints on bulk buying:

1. When buying in bulk, always find out the per item price. Whip out the calculator on your smartphone and do some quick division. If a 20 pack of paper towels is $6.00, decide if 30-cents/roll sounds right to you! Sometimes when you find the per item price, it makes the decision to buy (or not) very easy.

2. Where are you going to put all the stuff when you get it home? It’s easy to buy a full basket of items and never consider where you will store everything until you get home and can’t find a spot!

3. If you are buying a food item in bulk, look at the expiration date! Be realistic about whether or not you can eat that amount of food before the expiration date. If you can’t, then you’ve only thrown your money away.

… and remember, there’s no cents in paying full price! Stack those coupons!

* This post is part of a weekly segment on KSBJ Christian Radio. For more on segments featuring Stephanie Click, the Texas Money Mom, click here.

Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Valentine PostValentine’s Day doesn’t have to break the budget.

Here are two options:

Cook at home. This week is a good one at the grocery for steak. (Kroger began a sale today featuring Ribeye steaks and beef tenderloin.) Splurging on foods that you love and cooking at home can save tons of money, and is a great opportunity to make some cool memories under your own roof.

Go out … another time. We are lucky this year that Valentine’s Day is on Friday. That leaves Saturday and Sunday to go out and eat, if you wish. Many Valentine’s Day menus have only select items and they come at a premium price. Go on Saturday or Sunday … get a bigger bang for your buck!

… and remember, there’s no cents in paying full price! Use those coupons or a gift card that you got for Christmas!

* This post is part of a weekly segment on KSBJ Christian Radio. For more on segments featuring Stephanie Click, the Texas Money Mom, click here.

 

 

Small Town Grief

I was raised in a small town. Beaver Dam, KY – population 3,033. It really doesn’t get much smaller than that.

Many of the kids that I started kindergarten with were the same kids that I graduated high school with 13 years later.

I knew my classmates, their siblings, their parents, their grandparents, their cousins, their cousins cousins. It drove me crazy as a child and teen growing up, but as an adult I can see so many aspects of small town life that I took for granted.

Two weeks ago, I read via Facebook that a friend of mine from childhood had suffered a massive heart attack and had undergone a triple bypass. I will admit that after I got over the initial shock, I began to realize that these children from my elementary school memories are now in their 40′s just like me! The times that we gathered together to mourn the passing of grandparents and the occasional parent has now given way to losing our own.

Steve Cook

Steve Cook : 1972-2014

These are the times that it stinks to live 1,000 miles away from home. All I had to offer my friend’s family was prayer. And, although I know that’s the best gift of all, it somehow doesn’t seem like enough. I felt as if I needed to make a casserole or a dessert to drop off, because that’s what you do to show that you care in a small town. You make a hospital visit. You pick up their kids from school. You show up.

Sadly, Steve – the boy who tried to kiss all the girls as they went down the tornado slide at recess – passed away. It still doesn’t seem real to me. And, let me tell you, watching your friends grieve via Newsfeed is torture.

Times like this remind me of two things: (1) I’m thankful that Steve was a Christian and I will see him again, and (2) I’m thankful that Steve’s wife and family are also Christian. Although the days ahead will be hard, there is strength in the faith that this Earthly life is just a blink compared to the eternity that we are promised.

The moral of this story is love your friends – the old and the new. If they really mean something to you, tell them often. If you think of them even for a moment’s time, let them know. Our time is truly short.

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

Cell Phone Contract for Tweens

Santa brought iPhones for our kids this year. He’s not crazy despite what you may think. The world that we (meaning our specific family) lives in is much more convenient when our children have phones. (This isn’t our first encounter with children and cell phones, you can read more here.)

With the phones comes additional responsibilities, especially since they are smart phones. I searched and searched online for a contract that fit our situation. I loved parts of each one that I found, and thought that other parts just didn’t fit our needs or weren’t concerns for us. So, I combined about four of them.

This is what I came up with:

Iphone - contract for tweens and teens

It is my phone. Santa bought it, but I’m paying for it.  Aren’t I the greatest?

I will always know the password.

If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad.”

No phone calls or texts after 9:30 PM on a school night or weekend night at 11:00 PM. If you would not make a call to someone’s home phone, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.

Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being.  This includes posting a photo/video of anyone without their permission.

Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first and always!

Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person … to their face.

Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say with their parents in the room.

Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear — including a bad reputation.

Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Wonder without googling.

Don’t give out your cell phone number randomly. Never to a stranger regardless of what they say.

Do not enable or disable any setting on the phone without my permission. We have things turned on and off to (a) keep you out of trouble and (b) make your phone free of junk that will cause it to fail.

Iphone - contract for tweens and teensNo texting or making calls with friends while doing homework. Your mind needs to be on your studies!

Never share personal information such as name, address, phone number, school, teams, age, etc., with anyone online. Be safe. Crazy people are out there, and unfortunately, not everyone is good.

You may not join any social media network without asking your parents first (Facebook, Vine, SnapChat, etc.). When it is appropriate for you to be a part of these networks, we will set up your account so that the highest privacy and safety guards are enabled for you.

You will give your parents access to your phone whenever we ask  … with a cooperative attitude.

You will mess up. We will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You and I, we are always learning. We are on your team. We are in this together.

Parent Expectations

We will respect the privacy of our child when the child is talking on a cell phone.

We will pay the standard monthly fee for the cell phone contract.

We will be reasonable with consequences for violations of this contract. Consequences will start at loss of cell phone privileges for 24 hours and progress according to the seriousness of the violation.

—-

At the bottom, there is a place for each child to sign, as well as the parents.

If you would like a download of this document, click here!

 

It’s a Great Time to Give

giftNow is a great time to give to a local charity. There are deep discounts on toys and groceries. You can really make an inch stretch for a mile.

KSBJ has a Giving Tree. Many of these families need toys and groceries. You can see exactly what is still needed! It’s a very cool page and ministry opportunity.

When you buy your items, keep your receipts and mark them. These items are tax-deductible. If you need to make a year-end contribution, this is a great way to really make a dent.

Remember to have your children help you. They can find a child their age, or perhaps a child who wants the same toy as them! Take this opportunity to teach the real meaning of Christmas.

… and remember, there’s no cents in paying full price!

* This post is part of a weekly segment on KSBJ Christian Radio. For more on segments featuring Stephanie Click, the Texas Money Mom, click here.

5 Christmas Tips

Christmas giftsChristmas often busts our budgets and it’s a shame. That’s not what the season is about at all.

Here are some tips to help keep you in check and maybe brighten up your gift giving experience at the same time!

1. Keep all of your receipts and continue to watch prices on items that you have already purchased. If the price drops, take your receipt and ask the store to refund the difference. If all else fails, return the item and re-buy it at the lesser price.

2. Use cash. If money is tight and/or you are trying to stick to a budget, use cash. It’s so easy to lose track of what you’ve spent when you are swiping a debit or credit card. Put your money in an envelope and when it’s gone, you are done.

3. Make your gifts. If you have someone that has everything, consider making a gift. I’m sitting down with my kids this weekend and we are going to make some gifts for family members that seem to already have it all. If you need some inspiration, Pinterest is a great start. You might be interested in my “I Can Make This” board if you need a kickstart!

4. Do a lot of asking! If you see something that you like, ask where it was purchased. You might find a great deal! My friend’s teenage daughter is making wreaths that look like they are from a really expensive boutique. They would make an awesome gift and I could buy several for what I would pay in a fancy shoppe!

5. Gift thoughtfully. Sometimes we get really caught up in the size of the box under the tree and forget that sometimes the best gifts cost the same amount and can help in our everyday life. If you have a person on your list that is just making ends meet or sometimes gets slapped big time with Murphy’s Law, think about a different kind of gift. For the price of a sweater, you could buy a gift certificate for an oil change to keep their car running smoothly. Perhaps you could buy a one-time house cleaning (a fabulous gift for a new mom). Think about something that would really help their life, but might be considered a splurge. Just buying one oil change or one house cleaning (or the like) can be less money than what you would buy in the store, but the blessing will be even more! (Use those coupons on these items! They aren’t exempt.)

… and remember, there’s no cents in paying full price!

* This post is part of a weekly segment on KSBJ Christian Radio. For more on segments featuring Stephanie Click, the Texas Money Mom, click here.