Top Personal Finance Blogs
Tuesday September 26th 2017

7 Options for Monitoring Home Energy Use

If you are looking for a way to stay within your budget and conserve energy at the same time, several companies now provide a wide range of tools that will help you to monitor, calculate, and effectively manage the energy you consume. Some require a fairly significant initial investment, but over time, you should be able to make up for the cost with the amount you save on your monthly utility bill.

Not surprisingly, all of these tools do not work the same way. Certain gadgets will allow you to control your air conditioning, and possibly other electronics, through your computer or mobile phone. These manufacturers are aware that utility companies’ rates are higher in the afternoon than they are night, and they are developing advanced software and devices that can effectively manage your energy use and the cost that comes with it. Some tools can supply periodic energy data and even predict your energy consumption in different circumstances.

Here are some products that might suit your needs:

● The home energy-management system from American Grid is a kit with a dashboard for displaying energy data, a gateway to the Web, and related devices that will control your major appliances’ use of energy and the temperature in every room. Consumers can use text messaging for controlling the power of those appliances, and the system sends data about their energy use and the related cost to a server that American Grid manages, (A subscription to the service is also required.) The company estimates that a household now paying more than $250 for their monthly energy expenses could potentially realize a savings of 20% on their bill.

● The Energy Detective (TED) from Energy Inc. shows both electricity pricing and the owner’s energy consumption on the Internet throughout the day. Various packages are available to suit the individual consumer’s needs, and TED can monitor energy use from the consumer’s electrical panels, and the energy produced by solar panels, where that applies.

Some of the company’s higher-priced products are compatible with PowerMeter, a web-based tool from Google that will use the data supplied by your TED devices to analyze your use of energy, assist you in estimating your yearly electric bill, and help you to establish some cost-savings goals. Aside from that, Energy Inc. can also provide its own software and a wireless display device for monitoring your use of energy.

● Current Cost markets simple gadgets that you can attach to your meter for displaying basic data related to your general energy use. One package includes the PowerMeter mentioned above, and this will provide more detailed information regarding your energy use and ways for setting your goals for saving energy.

● With the eMonitor from Powerhouse Dynamics, customers can monitor their use of energy at what is called the “circuit level.” They can zero in on energy-use patterns throughout the home and adjust the power used in the heating and cooling systems, along with certain appliances. They can also receive alerts when their use of energy exceeds the norms and calculate their “carbon footprint” as well.

● DreamWatts, which is sold by PowerMand, is a setup that is similar to what American Grid has to offer. The customer purchases an Internet gateway, which collects information wirelessly from thermostats and similar devices to measures the energy electrical circuits consume. To receive the data and the analysis, they must also subscribe to the company’s service.

● For consumers who only require remote control of their thermostat and lighting, Alarm.com offers some less expensive solutions. The company sells its security software and sensors through retailers, who can provide an energy-monitoring system at little or no cost. This enables consumers to program their air conditioning, lights, and heating system to operate at various times, and it can be done via their Smartphone or computer.

● The PowerCostMonitor from Blue Line Innovations is energy-monitoring equipment that customers attach to their meter for real-time information regarding their energy consumption. The device, which transmits the data wirelessly to a display that is as large as digital clock, is available at several retail outlets.


What is it Costing You to Pay the Bills?

In this day and age, technology and speed matter. As Americans, we’ve grown accustomed to having everything we want at the click of a button or the swipe of a card. All across the country, we can complete nearly every transaction such as having groceries delivered to our doorstep, buying gifts and paying bills, over the internet. But sometimes these conveniences are costing us money unnecessarily.
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Top Jobs: Demand Rising in These Vocations

While jobs are looking scarce right now, certain sectors of the economy are expected to grow in the next few years. Add to that the dwindling population and you will be looking at a shortage of workers in the coming decade. It may be hard to believe that the jobs, so hard to find today, will be abundant so soon. But that’s just what is being forecast by Barry Bluestone and Mark Melnik, authors of a research report conducted for the Boston Redevelopment Authority titled, “After the Recovery: Help Needed.”

This report was co-funded by Civic Ventures, an organization focusing on issues that affect baby boomers, work, and social purpose. The report predicts an astounding 5 million job vacancies in the U.S. in the next eight years. Where will these jobs be? Most of them will be in sectors like healthcare, education, government, NGOs and the service industry. Here is a list of job titles that will be in great demand:

Business Operations Specialist

This job title may describe several roles, but mainly refers to a middle management position as a technology analyst in the telecommunications field. The specialist will analyze data and then find ways to make operations more efficient through technology. He or she may also oversee implementation of recommendations, requiring interpersonal and project management skills. Salary: About $45,000

Child-care Workers

Caregivers are needed at both public and private daycare settings. Workers must see to the safety and well-being of children, both emotional and physical. Most will care for children between the ages of 6 weeks to 6 years. Salary: About $24,000

Clergy

Pastors and ministered are needed to see to the spiritual and emotional needs of individuals and families. They may conduct worship services, offer spiritual and moral guidance and counseling for clergy members. Salary: About $50,000

General and Operations Managers

The managers are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day aspects of a business. They must manage employees to ensure the business meets objectives determined by upper management. Hours are often long, but the pay is good. Salary: About $95,000

Home Health Aides, Personal and Home Care Aides

These workers often assist elderly, handicapped and otherwise disabled individuals live independently by visiting in the home, helping with jobs the client cannot manage. Home health aides ensure maximum independence for the patient by performing the specific tasks the disabled individual cannot accomplish. These may include personal care, meal preparation and light errands. Salary: About $27,000

Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses

These caregivers treat ill, injured, or disabled individuals in many health care settings and institutions. A license is required to do the job and these nurses often work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse. Salary: $40,000 to $45,000

Nursing Aides, Orderlies and Attendants

These hospital workers will be in the greatest demand. They offer basic patient care as directed by nursing staff. They may feed, groom or move patients and change linens. Salary: $25,000 to $34,000

Medical Assistants

Often performing secretarial duties, medical assistants keep the doctor’s office running by scheduling appointments, managing medical records and other administrative tasks. Salary: About $36,000

Medical and Health Service Managers

These managers coordinate and oversee a healthcare business. They may be specialists in a particular department, or in charge of entire facilities. A bachelor’s degree is acceptable at entry level, but a master’s degree is commonly required. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers make between $71,000 to $87,000.

Registered Nurses

Nurses will continue to be in high demand in the coming years. Nurses assist in patient care while educating patients and families about medical conditions and offering emotional support. Salary: About $61,000

Teachers, teacher’s assistants, and receptionists will also be in high demand. Those out of work today may wish to concentrate on the training needed to fulfill the job needs in one of these fields.


Why Credit Scores are Important

Today’s economy has everyone thinking about their financial standing. Along with having enough capital on hand to pay living expenses, stash some away for savings, plan for college, and hope to have a retirement fund, making sure that your credit score is in good condition almost gets lost in the shuffle. In fact, with all of this fancy financial footwork going on, it’s easy to forget how important having a good credit score really is.

What Does my Credit Score do, Again?

Credit scores, or FICO scores, are a calculated measurement of how likely an individual is to pay off a loan, and range from 300 to 850. Basically, money lenders use this number to decide how risky it is to loan you money. Those with higher scores are safer to loan to because in the past they have a solid history of paying loans back on time and in full, while those who have lower scores have had problems with complying with loan repayments in their credit history, making them riskier to loan to. Again, this risk is defined as the likelihood of the borrower paying back the amount in full.

Based on your riskiness—measured by your credit score—money lenders decide first if they will loan to you or not. If they decide to loan money to you, they go back and consult that credit score again to determine how high of an interest rate to charge you. Again, the higher the credit score, the lower the interest rate and the lower the score, the higher the interest rate. The reason for this is because the lender is taking on more risk by loaning to those with lower credit scores, and the return on a higher interest rate is their reward for assuming that additional risk.

Why do I care about an Interest Rate?

Borrowers should care about the interest rate they receive on a loan because this is the amount of money they will pay to the lender for the privilege of borrowing the money. The higher the interest rate, the more it will cost the borrower to borrow the money; the lower the interest rate, the less it will cost the borrower to borrow it. For example, a let’s say a person with a high credit score—700 or above—goes to the bank to borrow $1,000. The bank looks at their FICO score and sees that they are in excellent financial health and the likelihood of them getting their money back is very high, so this individual is a very low risk. As a result, they issue this customer the line of credit at 3%. This means that it will cost this customer $30 to borrow $1,000; a very good deal indeed. Next, another person walks into the bank looking to borrow $1,000. The bank pulls this person’s FICO score also, and finds that their number is very low—620 or lower—signifying to the bank that there are most likely going to be problems getting their money back. Even though this customer is risky, they decide to lend the money, but do so at a significantly higher rate: 10%. This means that it will cost this individual $100 to borrow $1,000. The bottom line here is that individuals should care about their credit score because it can save them money at a time when they probably need it the most—when they go to borrow money.

How can I Improve my Credit Score?

The number one way to improve your credit score is to make your payments on time; even if all you are doing is making the minimum required payment, do so on time. This shows potential creditors that you favorably abide by your financial contractual obligations.

The next piece of advice is don’t take too much credit out, or apply too often for credit. If you take too much credit out you run the risk of not being able to pay it off, which will hinder your progress towards the first point here. If you apply too often for credit, this lowers your credit score because research has shown that those who open a large amount of credit within a short period of time are less likely to pay any or all of it off.

Check your credit score often. You can check it yourself without injuring the score, so do so frequently. This will allow you to make corrections if errors appear, and keep you informed to your general creditworthiness. To do so, contact one of the three credit rating bureaus:

• Equifax. P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241; (800) 685-1111
• Experian. P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013; (888) (397-3742)
• Trans Union. P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022; (800) 916-8800


Start your ROTH… Now!

If you are in your twenties, you should be thinking now about your retirement nest-egg. Why? Simply, the earlier you start the more you get to benefit from the power of compound interest? If you invest $1 when you are 25, that dollar may be worth as much as $21. If, however, you wait until you are 35, to save that dollar, it will be worth around $10, or less than half of the total amount (calculations assume 8% annual return). Every dollar you save when you are 25 is worth two dollars when you are 35.

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What Out for Forensic Audit Scams

The Federal Trade Commission has recently begun cracking down on forensic audits, which are a service provided by companies that claim to be able to negotiate lower mortgages by pressuring banks over legal issues in mortgage documents. These so called forensic audits are exploiting the financial needs of Americans. In a time when finances are a serious challenge, scams attempt to pull even more money out of the pockets of those in financial crisis.
The forensic auditors claim to work their way through homeowners’ loan documents in search of some sort of law violation. They claim that finding a violation could help reduce the mortgage costs, however, they do not assist the homeowner in obtaining the reduction from the supposed law violations. In addition, they charge large upfront sums of money to cover their services. These forensic audits frequently cost nearly a thousand dollars or more and most of the time, they do not help to lower mortgages.

The searches the forensic auditors perform on homeowners’ documents are looking to uncover several types of legal errors, including TILA law violations, RESPA law violations, accounting errors, and general legal mistakes. The forensic audit companies claim that they can use these errors as leverage to force mortgage companies into providing a lower mortgage, offering a bonus, or even surrendering the house to you for free.

Even if a homeowner qualifies for a loan modification due to some sort of legal issue, they are extremely unlikely to obtain it through the use of a forensic audit company. The only way to put legal pressure on a large institution like a bank, is to sue them. Suing a bank would cost so much money that it would not be worth any potential modification in the homeowner’s mortgage. Banks are large and powerful, they have no reason to care about one individual claiming that they broke some unheard of law in their mortgage contract.

Additionally, if the forensic auditors do not find any legal issues in your documents, than you have paid a huge sum of money and have not received any benefits from their service. The loss of the extra money will hurt your already difficult financial situation.

Smith and Gromann, one forensic audit company, is currently being charged by the Federal Trade Commission for wild claims that the company could lower 80 to 90 percent of homeowners’ mortgage payments through discovering law violations. The company was also charged with using a database of phone numbers without paying the telemarketing fees.

The first complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission on the issue of forensic audits occurred in November of 2009. The original complaint was against the Debt Advocacy Center that was falsely claiming that they had helped 90 percent of their clients obtain cheaper mortgages. They were also accused of falsely claiming that they would offer refunds to clients that did not benefit from their services. None of these claims turned out to be true. The Debt Advocacy Center was also charged with illegally charging clients’ credit cards without their consent.

After the forensic audit scams were discovered, the Federal Trade Commission created Forensic Mortgage Loan Audit Scams: A New Twist on Foreclosure Rescue Fraud. The program is designed to help homeowners avoid being scammed and it also provides them with ways they can legitimately lower their mortgage payments.

Many homeowners become frustrated with their high mortgage rates and feel that there is no way to lower their mortgages. This is not necessarily the case. There are many ways to legally and legitimately lower your mortgage rate. Some banks are more flexible than others, but there are many that would be happy to help you lower your mortgage. Most banks have no desire to go through all the effort and the paperwork associated with repossessing your house or handling late payments. Visit your bank and ask them about legal and legitimate ways to lower your mortgage, they will be happy to assist you.

Forensic auditing companies are scams. They will not help you lower your mortgage rate and any legal issues they uncover will not be enough leverage to force the mortgage company into modifying your rates. Seek legitimate channels for mortgage modification and never pay an upfront fee for a mortgage lowering service like forensic audits.


Reverse Mortgages Explained

A “regular” mortgage is usually thought of as a long-term debt that is used to pay for a piece of real property such as a house. The debtor will receive virtual ownership of the property while the loan on the property is paid off over a long period of time such as thirty years. The debt during that time is secured by the house. If the mortgage cannot be paid off, a foreclosure can take place. The hose will then be repossessed. If the house is paid off, the debtor will receive complete ownership of the property.

If the owner chooses to sell the house, he or she could make a profit since the house is likely to have accumulated in value since the point the debtor took out a mortgage on the property. This accumulated value is known as equity. For example, a home could be worth one hundred thousand dollars when it was bought. If it accumulated in value to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, the home’s equity for the owner would be fifty thousand dollars.

How Reverse Mortgages Work

The idea behind a reverse mortgage is accessing this equity well before the debtor completely owns his or her house. By accessing this equity, the debtor can receive an extra source of income. In essence, the debtor is borrowing the equity from a financial institution. These equity payments could be used to pay for standard living expenses, to pay off other debts such as college tuition for children, or whatever else a debtor wishes.

The amount of credit a person can use by accessing their equity is usually calculated by taking the newly appraised value of the person’s home, subtracting the amount that has been paid on the mortgage, and than multiplying that amount by a certain percentage. Indeed, someone does not want to borrow the entire amount of equity in a home. At that point, the financial institution would own the home, and the debtor may be forced to move out.

The Dangers of a Reverse Mortgage

Due to dangers like this, many strict laws have been enacted in many countries to protect debtors who take out reverse mortgages. One example is that a debtor will probably not be allowed to access the entire equity of their home. Often, the law will place a limit on how much equity a debtor can access at a time. Often, a debtor will not be allowed to take out a reverse mortgage on a home for more than forty percent of its equity.

Secondly, there are usually age limits placed on how old someone must be to take out a reverse mortgage. This is to protect younger home buyers who are more likely to outlive their mortgages. In the United States, this age limit is set at sixty one. In Canada, it is sixty years old. In many European counties, the age limit is set at fifty.

In addition, there may be certain parts in the contract for the reverse mortgage that certain individuals may over look. One thing that is often included in these contracts is an agreement that a debtor will have access to their home as long as it is their primary residence. For senior citizens, this can present a significant risk. If a senior citizen moves to a facility such as a retirement due to needing supervised assistance, that senior citizen could lose their home. Similarly, if a person spends too much time at a vacation home, the bank could repossess the house as well.

Another problem can result for people who have adjustable rate reverse mortgages. If the interest rate increases, the amount of payment the debtor receives from the reverse mortgage will lower. This could be a serious problem if a person is depending on equity income from the reverse mortgage to get by.

Benefits

These are only a few of the dangers, but the benefit of having access to the equity of your home may out weigh any downsides to reverse mortgages. The advantage of taking out a reverse mortgage is the ability to have that extra income. This is especially beneficial for older individuals who want to retire.


Set It and Forget It Retirement Savings

Not everyone has the personal interest or energy to put a lot of effort into retirement savings. But we should all understand how important it is to have a nest egg when you are too old to work. Even if you plan to work until the day you die, things don’t always work out that way. For those who want to save for retirement without nursing along an investment account, there are ways to save that take little effort.

Surely the easiest way to save for retirement is a 401(k) plan, especially if you have an employer that will match your contributions. But even the self-employed can open and 401k that is easy to manage and grow. This is what we mean by “Set It and Forget It.”

The 401(k) plan has been around more than 25 years and has proven itself the simplest way to save money for retirement. Plan participants simply set up automatic deposits and check the balance of investments periodically to their risk tolerance. That’s why over 47 million Americans use the 401(k) to save for retirement.

Someone who starts a 401(k) at the start of his or her working life can easily amass millions in savings through regular, relatively painless contributions that grow over time. Even those who do not start until their forties can still have a shot and saving enough for a reasonable retirement. Catch-up contributions are allowed for workers age 50 and older to help them reach retirement goals, even if they are late getting started.

The added benefit of these plans is the free advice attached to the accounts. Most 401(k) plans are administered by investment firms that offer free analysis and tools online that help workers assess their risk tolerance, set goals, and manage the balance of investments quickly and easily.

In the early years of investing, 401(k) portfolios are typically heavy in riskier investments like stocks. As the participant ages, plans may shift to include a higher balance of low risk investments, but also lower profit, investments. This makes an older employee less likely to lose everything in the event of a stock market collapse. Many plans now offer investment accounts that follow this risk curve with age, without any input or work required by the plan participant.

Workers should work towards the goal of automatically depositing at least 15% of their gross income into a 401(k) each week. If they do so, they are likely to have about half of their income level to draw on during retirement, once adjusted for inflation. Social security benefits should add another 25% to provide retirees with a comfortable living in their golden years. Seniors could make up the balance through part time work, rental properties or outside pensions, or simply by living a lifestyle that requires less money to fund.

There are just two steps to creating a Set It and Forget It retirement. First, enroll in a 401(k) plan that automatically increases your contributions until they reach 15%. Second, choose a target-retirement fund that has a target date near your expected retirement date. The plan does the rest.

To get the most out of the retirement accounts available, there is a best strategy for workers to follow. First, contribute to your 401(k), up to the maximum amount your employer will match. Then, contribute up to the maximum ($5,000) possible on a separate Roth IRA. The balance should go back into your 401(k). Not only does this maximize your retirement investment, it also provides you with a mix of taxable and non-taxable funds to draw at retirement.

The self-employed aren’t getting any employer contributions. For this reason, it’s best to choose one of the plans tailored for your situation. This can be a Solo 401(k), also called a Defined Contribution plan. Other retirement plans for the self-employed such as a profit-sharing plan, Keogh or SEP will let you deduct contributions up to 2% of your self-employment income, maxing out at $49,000 or $54,500 for those over age 50.

But the Solo 401(k) has gained some improvements in recent years that make it more like a traditional employee’s plan. For instance, you can deduct $16,500 worth of contributions (assuming you make that much or more) and $22,000 if you are over 50 years old. You can then contribute another 20% of your self-employment income on top of that. Oh, and that $16,500 initial contribution can be made on an after-tax basis, giving you a nice little tax-free withdrawal when you retire. On the down side, there will be some set up and maintenance fees.


5 Retirement Plans for the Self-Employed

Self employment means that one is responsible for setting up and maintaining one’s own retirement plan. If this is neglected, the financial future of the self employed person may be in trouble. Besides the obvious problem of not having enough money to be comfortable at retirement time, setting up a retirement plan can provide significant tax savings, either now or in the future.

Here are some of the available retirement plans and their benefits and drawbacks for the self employed person.

401(k) Retirement Plans

A solo 401(k) can be established for the self employed, although 401(k) plans were designed for an employer to implement. Choosing a 401(k) can mean more expense than other plans in setting up and maintaining the plan.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA’s)

Another plan that was not meant for the self employed but can still work is an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). The most common types of IRA’s are Roth and the traditional type. The biggest advantage to either a Roth or traditional IRA is in taxes.

Using a Roth IRA, an individual pays taxes on earnings, then makes the retirement payment and there are no further taxes due when it’s time to receive distributions at retirement. Although there are other rules and regulations, usually if a self employed person thinks he will be in a higher tax bracket when retirement comes, then a Roth IRA is the right decision.

Traditional IRA’s are paid into before taxes are made on earnings and will not be taxed until retirement distribution. This works out very well if the tax payer thinks he will be in a lower tax bracket at retirement, thus paying less tax on the same amount of money.

SIMPLE Retirement Plans

SIMPLE stands for Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employess or Small Employers. In reality, a SIMPLE plan is an IRA, but it was created specifically for small businesses. Again, it can be used by self employeed individuals if they’re sole proprietors.

A SIMPLE plan is easy to establish and inexpensive to maintain. It’s a commonly offered plan by many financial institutions and it has lower contribution limits than other available IRA plans.

SEP Retirement Plans

A retirement plan written for self employed persons and small business owners, an SEP is also a type of IRA plan, much on the order of the SIMPLE plan. LLC’s, sole proprietorships and S and C corporations all qualify for this retirement plan.

As a rule, contributions to a SEP IRA are completely tax deductible, with even investment earnings only taxed at withdrawal. Contributions are made before taxes are paid. If a withdrawal is made from an SEP plan before 59 1/2 a 10% penalty may be charged by the IRS, in addition to income tax on the amount. Withdrawals after 59 1/2 years of age will be taxed at the rate of ordinary income.

SEP IRA’s have great benefits in that there is minimal administration involved and annual contribution limits are high, but with no requirement to contribute amy certain amount. If the income fluctuates somewhat from year to year, a self employed person has the freedom to adjust contributions accordingly, allowing the fund to grow quickly at times and more slowly when income is lower.

Keogh Retirement Plans

This plan was written especially for self employed persons. It can be structured two ways: As a defined benefit plan and as a defined contribution plan. A defined benefit plan is similar to a pension plan, while a defined contribution plan is similar to a 401(k).

Since Keogh plans are not as common as other plans the self employed can use because they’re harder to set up and expensive to maintain.


Kid’s Allowance: It’s Not How Much, It’s How!

The amount of allowance you give your children is less important than how you give it to them. By meting allowances in ways that teach financial lesions, children grow to be more responsible spenders and better savers. Here are some ways to manage allowances that will save you from overbuying for the kids and teach them smart money habits.

Compensation For Grades

Make school grades determine the amount of cash the kids receive for their allowance. Pay your children for each A grade that they earn. Give money for B grades as well, but not as much. Mostly A grades with no more than two B’s are reasonable to expect. Don’t put a cap on the allowance amount, but give no more for all A’s than you do for A’s with no more than two B’s. These grade expectations are certainly reasonable and are high enough to develop the child’s potential, but not so high that it causes undue stress. Every C grade should cost the child 20% of his allowance, and any D grade should eliminate allowance altogether. This will motivate your children to continuously challenge themselves. They will likely achieve their academic goals, and may even end up getting scholarships if you are lucky. Compensating children for their grades allows them to shape their own futures. They control how much they earn by how well they do in school

Household Duties / Chores

It is important that kids have responsibilities. Performing tasks at home will not only benefit the kids, it will also benefit everyone else living in the home. The following method makes for a low stress means of encouraging children to obey, as well as a means of saving money.

First, place a sheet of paper on the refrigerator with a list of household chores that each child is responsible for. There should be a section on the sheet to record fines. An example is shown below.

Duties (No Reminders)

Bed must be made before school
Trash is to be taken out after dinner
Straighten living room each night
Dishes are to be washed Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Bedrooms much be cleaned thoroughly each Saturday
Yard must be mowed weekly

Fines

Failure to take out the trash on 5/12/10 – $2
Failure to mow the yard on 5/15/10 – $2
Sum of fines for the week – $4

If a fine of $2.00 does not motivate your child to do his chores, the amount of the fine should be doubled. If he is still is not motivated, the fine amount should be doubled again. These fines are a nice little bonus for parents and a great motivator for kids. You also save time this way because it only takes a couple of seconds to record the fine deduction. Hounding your kids to do their chores seemingly takes forever. Most importantly, this plan will make your child to be more obedient.

Giving kids household duties allows parents to rest more. Parents are less stressed, making for less stress on the kids and the whole family when everyone pitches in. This added rest will give parents more energy, allowing them to do more with the family, such as cooking meals instead of eating out.

This system will work if you follow it. The Government has been using fines since the colonial days and they work very well. Make this the case at home too. Yelling and screaming will not yield positive results and only upsets the family. A fine system creates a consequence for actions that changes disobedient behavior and prepares kids for the real world.