Author: MLMacomber (Page 1 of 3)

Finances and Kids

Finding books that are right on the money

Parenting is tough and when it comes to educating your kids about money, you want to use all available resources. 

One of those resources is my friend’s blog, That PNW Dad. On his site, Juan Farias Torres advocates for training your kids about money early and he shares his experience creating hands-on financial training for his kids. 

After talking with Farias Torres, I was going to create a list of recommended titles for kids and finances but then I realized that I would rather empower you to find the books that fit your situation. So here’s my MONEY tips for finding effective financial materials for you and your child. These are not hard-and-fast rules but just thoughts to get you started. 


Look for authors/publisher who share your mindset on money management. How you handle finances is something that can be very personal. For your child’s introduction to the topic, you want the text to match your beliefs. 


As I said these aren’t hard-and-fast rules. So in addition to looking for authors who have the same mindset, don’t shy away from books that have views that vary from yours. I hate to break it to you, but there is a strong chance your child will start to develop opinions that differ from yours, especially as they get older. By being open-minded to those differences early, you can create an environment to have calmer discussions later. And let’s be honest, exposing yourself to new financial ideas might not hurt either. 


Ask friends and family for suggestions. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Is your neighbor’s son a few years older than your own? Ask what books worked for him. This is especially helpful because kids often mimic their older friends and relatives. If your daughter knows her older cousin read a book, there is a good chance she will be eager to read it as well. 


Find ways to connect with your child’s interests. If your child is loving the beloved series of books by Herman Parish try Amelia Bedelia Means Business and chat about how Amelia works to save money for a new bike. Are they loving Harry Potter? Discuss Potter’s inheritance and how he chooses to spend it. 

Also, make sure it is the appropriate reading level for your child. Getting a teen book for your toddler leads to frustration for both of you. If your child isn’t a huge reader, maybe hold off on checking out Warren Buffet’s newest release. Check vendor recommendations and online reviews to find the suggested audience.

Your Library

As always, don’t miss out on the resources – available for free – at your local library. Ask staff members for recommendations. They order the books, track what their patrons are requesting, and are educated on upcoming trends and newly released titles. Finding the right book for the right reader is my favorite task when I’m working at the library. 

And don’t forget to visit to get more financial literacy tips.

Happy reading!

Woodland Park Zoo

One of my fondest memories as a kid was going to the Woodland Park Zoo with my grandparents. When my grandson was born, I put taking him to the zoo on my goals list. 

It didn’t work out for summer time, but we finally had a clear Saturday in late October and we took advantage of it. Here’s our iteneria for uor trip with a few tips. 

  • Our grandson spent the night so we could make an early start. We timed it perfectly, arriving at the zoo just as it opened. The weather cooperated with no rain but very overcast to keep the crowds at bay. 
  • We stocked up a cooler with snacks. Next time, we would definitely bring more food. We banked on getting lunch at one of the restaurants. That woked but I think our grandson would have been happier with his favorites from home. 
  • The best choice we made was borrowing a wagon from a friend. This worked great. Throughout most of the day, our little trooper pulled it himself through the park so it worked to keep him close. We also loaded it with our backpacks, cooler and eventually our grandson tired enough to sit in it. 
  • We did sort of a random route through the park. Next time we would maybe study the map a bit more and be sure to hit everything we wanted. Overall, not a tragedy though as we made it to the penguins, sea otters and bears. 

Building Relationships

“Do what you can to show you care about other people, and you will make our world a better place.” – Rosalynn Carter

When I think about my purpose, relationships are the top of the list. Material objects fade. I want to concentrate my time and energy on the family, friends and strangers that touch my life. 

Here’s a few ways I stay connected and build those relationships. 

1. Reach out

A classmate of mine passed away a few years ago. I remember it clearly because he lived alone and his body was discovered several days after he died. I don’t want that to be my obituary. 

I know that is up to me though. Each day, I have reminders on my phone to reach out to specific friends. When I first started doing this I felt like I was cheating, as if there was a secret guidebook stating I needed to remember without assistance or it didn’t count. 

Now I believe reaching out is the priority and if there is a way I can make that easier it just means I can reach out to more people. 

Are you a texter? Send a quick text. Prefer phone calls? Set aside time to do some chatting. Like writing letters? Stock up on greeting cards on the dollar store. 

2. Track information

Not only do I set reminders but I track information. Did my friend mention her grandson’s birthday? Put it on my calendar. Does my nephew have a favorite chocolate? Add it to his contact information. I also do my best to track the last time I sent a card or shared a photo. 

3. Make “quality” time

There is not enough time in the day to reach out to every single person so when I do spend time with someone I try to make it count. For example, my niece is always eager to hang out. I could have her over once a week at least but it would be boring trips to my house and I would be tired from work and unmotivated to really interact. We would probably just watch a movie and go to bed. So instead, I wait and make sleepovers an event. We go for a walk, make dinner together and play a game. I’m prepared and have energy. And hopefully, she will treasure it. 

4. Choose to

In order to build relationships, you must make a choice that it is important. If your priority is your career, than that is what you are going to build. Take a minute to inventory your time. Where ddi you spend it this week? Who did you spend time with? How did you log your hours? Be intentional about the way you invest your time. 

5. Listen

Anytime you are with someone, listen to them. Set aside distractions. Put away the cell phone. Listen to their words. Mimic their movements. Repeat back what they say. All of the active listening techniques. Dont build relationships just because. Build relationships because people are creative and fascinating. You’ll be blessed. 

Weekend Bike Getaway

My husband and I added electric bikes to our transportation fleet earlier this year. So with the weather being cooperative, we decided to do a bicycle getaway weekend. After some frantic last-minute searching, Port Townsend won our reservation based on proximity to our place – not too close but not too far, connection to a highly-recommended bike trail and the availability of a campsite at the nearby state park.  

Here’s a quick rundown with a few dos and don’ts for planning your trip to the Key City. 


Fort Warden is a beautiful park. The bathrooms were clean and in excellent condition. Be sure to tour the lighthouse and learn from the friendly docents about the light which guided sailors for more than 100 years. The lightkeeper’s former quarters are available to rent and tops our list for a future Port Townsend trip. 


Because this was a last-minute trip, the only available spot was in the Beach Loop. Be prepared if you make a reservation in this area, with a cinder block wall to use as a windbreak. When the campsites aren’t reserved, I’m fairly certain they use the area to test wind resistance for airplanes. 


The Larry Scott Memorial Trail is a winding trek that runs for about 7.5 miles from just outside Port Townsend. I am not an avid bicyclist, but this was the first ride where I was actually disappointed to see the mile markers countdown back to the trailhead. There is definitely some elevation gain, so I was grateful for that electric assist. 


The trailhead is a little innocuous. Don’t be put off.. Push through. The ride is worth it. 


Because of the hurricane-level wind at our campsite, we headed into town to explore Water Street. Walking downtown was delightful. Our favorite finds this visit: ​an Alaska book for my grandson (William James Bookseller), bike-friendly directions to our campsite (Broken Spoke bike shop), a Swiss orange dark chocolate chip waffle cone (Elevated Ice Cream), chicken avocado bacon melt (Sirens Pub) and endless mimosas (Quench Waterfront Kitchen & Bar).


Reservations for the ferry will save you time and anxiety. Check out the website and confirm your spot. After almost 2.5 hours of waiting, we just barely made it on the ferry for our ride to Port Townsend. So many miles of missed cycling adventures. Sigh. 

Winning Weekend

It’s a Monday morning, and I just got back from a two-night trip. It went surprisingly well. I felt like I was prepared for what I needed to do and had the items packed that I needed. Wow! I better document this for posterity. So here you go. My rundown of a successful weekend getaway for my future benefit and your amusement. 


Win –  I actually started contemplating what to pack before my trip this time. Now don’t go crazy with that. I didn’t actually pack. This was just mental contemplation of the weekend and what I may or may not need. Sort of like Olympic athletes who visualize winning the race or successfully jumping over a hurdle the height of a skyscraper. That was me. I clearly saw a vision of a well-packed bag by somewhere around mid-day Thursday. 

Win – I also took the step Thursday to buy a handful of road trip snacks. I even included some of our snack items in my Sunday grocery shopping. (Should I award myself a bonus point for that? 

Loss – As you may know from my other posts, I have discovered a successful snack bag includes items that I like but that are considered disgusting by my traveling companions to avoid sharing. So this was a fail for my weekend. I did not purchase any black licorice, so I did have to share my chocolate-covered almonds. 

Half-win – I got all of the clothes I needed for the weekend washed. Docking half a point because I did fall asleep before they were dry. 


Win – Packed my bag with the clothes from the dryer. Successfully got everything I anticipated needing into my duffle bag without having to do any strength-training exercises to get it zipped shut. I even tossed an extra outfit into the mix so that I’d have an option that I knew I wouldn’t wear for Sunday morning. I only had to take everything out once and repack it due to my lack of folding ability. 

Win – We left the house at our scheduled time, and here’s the real win – we were still talking to each other. Leaving for a trip can be stressful for my marriage. Surprisingly (if you are a newlywed or have never dated), my husband and I don’t really have the same priorities before we leave home. 

Win – I got to the hotel and actually hung up some of my clothes so they wouldn’t be quite as wrinkled on Saturday and Sunday. This is something I do mainly because it makes me feel like I made an effort without having to iron. 

Win – I remembered my toiletry bag, so I had all the essentials. Now that I finally have two of everything and just leave what I need in my travel bag, this has been less of a problem. 

Win – Charging cords for all of my devices were in my duffle bag. It was a beautiful sight. Before I climbed into bed, there was a line of cell phone, laptop, etc all happily gaining energy with cords that I brought myself.  


Win – The outfit I chose for the day matched the weather of our destination. I wasn’t sure this would work out because I really wanted to wear a fall outfit that makes me feel confident, and the calendar says it is early spring. But I made the plunge, and the skies cooperated with some clouds and a nice October-like breeze. 


Win – I got everything back in my duffle bag. It actually zipped even easier, which made me a little hesitant because I thought I might be missing something. 

Win – Despite the zipper situation, I didn’t leave anything in the hotel that I noticed or required a call from the hotel to come back and get. (You know who you are.)

So that’s 9.5 wins + a bonus point and one loss. I’ll call that a winning weekend getaway. 

Avoid the tulips: where to go this weekend

It’s tulip time in my neck of the woods. That means a lot of visitors are headed to the Skagit Valley to view the beautiful fields of color. It’s an incredible sight, and everyone should see it at least once. Some of my favorite pictures of my kids have tulips as a backdrop. 

But if tulips aren’t your thing, you might need something else to do this weekend. Hre are a few options that are a day trip away from the greater Seattle area. 

With all of these destinations, be sure to follow my five rules for a day trip: Pack a snack your copilot doesn’t like so you don’t have to share; plan games for the drive (check out my list of car games here); find a restaurant with interesting architecture; learn a historical fact about the area; and visit the local library. 


Transport yourself to a Bavarian village for the day. There are shops and restaurants aplenty on the main street. The nature trail that parallels the main street down along the river is something I look forward to. Need a longer excursion? Hikes abound in the area.

Guemes Island

This small island is accessible via a ferry from the north end of Anacortes. A quick trip takes you over the channel. Just feet away, you can have lunch at the Guemes Island General Store. They have food, beer, and a great outdoor seating area, perfect for pets or kids. For an adventure after your lunch, take a scenic drive around the island, or if you are feeling athletic, bring a bike or your walking shoes. 

Langley (Washington)

The fastest way from Seattle is a ferry ride to this destination as well, but if you have the time, a scenic drive to this town is possible as well and includes the incredible Deception Pass Bridge. While in Langley, wander the small shops downtown and grab a bite to eat. Take a breather and enjoy the views from a bench along the waterfront trail and spot some wildlife or maybe a Navy jet doing maneuvers. 


Lake Sacajewa Park was the highlight of our trip to this charming town. You could spend the whole day having a picnic here, wandering the 3.5 miles of trail system, kayaking, fishing or playing games in the grass. If you do pull yourself away from the park, visit the historic downtown area. You can download a walking tour map from the city website. The Carnegie library building is a beautiful spot to visit. 


The ocean beaches of Washington are a great place to spend the day, and Aberdeen is a good starting point to find them. The area has seen some hard times since its founding in the late 1800s. Of course, our visit didn’t have to do with the history; my husband wanted to see where Kurt Cobain grew up. Be sure to visit the Kurt Cobain Memorial Park, and you can view the house where he grew up. 

Table for Two: Disneyland Tips for the Pair of You

Headed to Disneyland with your partner? Now that my husband and I are empty nesters, we recently headed to the happiest place on Earth – just the two of us and we had a blast. You don’t need a caravan to enjoy the attractions – though I’ll share tips if that is the case in a future post. Here are a few takeaways from our trip as a couple:

Make a list of Must-Do’s

This was an ongoing list for us. We created an initial list before our trip. As we walked through the park, we added to it. It included rides, souvenirs, and edibles. This was sort of our go-to as we planned our day. It made decision-making a lot easier and gave us a sense of accomplishment when we headed home with every item crossed off the list.

Be flexible

Having two people in your group usually made getting seats together on rides simple, but you still had to wait in line. With the Cars ride, we noticed there was a much shorter single-rider line. We also noticed the majority of single riders were in the same car. We risked it, and it worked out great. (We did communicate a meeting place for if we were separated.)

Ask questions

Restaurants were prominent on our list of Must-Dos. While we attempted to get reservations through the Disneyland app a few months before our trip, we hadn’t succeeded. We found by asking the helpful cast members at the actual locations that each restaurant handled walk-ups a little differently. By asking questions, we were able to eat at all of the restaurants on our list during our stay.
We’ve heard Disney has made some changes to this system since our visit, so our takeaway is still the same – ask questions. The cast knows the ins and outs. Trust them!

Share food

For this trip, I really wanted to try a lot of foods. I also wanted to avoid gaining a pants size. Michael and I did lots of snacking and sharing to make this happen. Instead of ordering two full-size meals, we just ordered one meal and two forks. Then later in the day, we would get a single meal or item to share. It worked great.

Nothing is set in stone

With just two adults, we weren’t obligated to eat at traditional times. It was nice to avoid lines by eating lunch at 3 p.m. or dinner at 9 p.m. With just two people voting, it was easier to decide when to stop for a break or a snack and then just make it happen. Super long wait for the Star Wars attraction, switch gears, and head over to Adventureland for a Dole Whip and a Jungle Cruise.


This is a tip for every travel experience. Decide before you go what you will be spending. This isn’t to make your life miserable but to help minimize the decision-making headaches of being a tourist. You already have so many things to decide every day … what to wear, where to eat, when to wake up, when to rest, what ride to go on, and what souvenir to purchase. By having a budget in place, you can make souvenir shopping much less stressful. It will also put you and your traveling partner on the same page so there are no surprise bills when the trip ends.

Less baggage

One of the greatest joys I discovered on this trip was the reduction in accessories that had to be brought. We carried a small backpack with some essentials. The freedom of moving around the park was such a blessing and made the experiences more enjoyable and made the transitions that much smoother.

You can’t afford to miss these: 7 Books about Money

Recently, a friend asked me about budgets. Actually, more than one friend has brought up the topic. Maybe it is because of my love for Excel spreadsheets. Maybe it is because they think I have the wisdom of age and might know something. Maybe they are just desperate, and I am a listening ear. Regardless of their reasons, I savor the challenge of making income and expense formulas to help my friends reach their financial goals. It’s especially rewarding when we are talking about someone else’s money. So message me if you want to chat. 

Talking face-to-face about money and budgets can be intimidating, though. Thus this book list. Here are a few books I recommend, or I have had recommended to me, that might give you some insights on how to handle your income statement, increase your financial literacy, or just learn how others handle money. 

You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham

As I listened to Mecham read his book, I found myself nodding my head frequently. His advice for those new to the budget arena or looking to change their accounting strategies was right on target. He has an entire website dedicated to helping spenders find a way to meet their financial goals. 


As always, you are welcome to whatever personal beliefs you may have, but for me, the Bible has given tremendous financial wisdom. More than 2,300 verses in the Bible deal with money and how to deal with it. The verses apply to all walks of life, such as Proverbs 10:4-5, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

Since its publication in 1926, readers have looked to Clason’s collection of parables to gain wisdom in the money realm. The short book – less than 150 pages, depending on your edition – gives timeless saving and investing rules. One of the oft-quoted sentiments of the book is regarding paying yourself first. Clason writes, “A part of all I earn is mine to keep.’ Say it in the morning when you first arise. Say it at noon. Say it at night. Say it each hour of every day. Say it to yourself until the words stand out like letters of fire across the sky.” 

Get Rich Carefully by Jim Kramer

As the host of Mad Money, Jim Kramer is known for his over-the-top shenanigans and loud, attention-grabbing methods. In his book, though, all the bells and whistles are, and he gives you tactical advice on how to start working with the investment system. His experience as a Wall Street investor provides him with the knowledge, and his grasp of communication allows him to share in a way that is easy to follow. 

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

This book cemented my conviction that you should learn from someone with the life you want. Robert Kiyosaki compares two different mindsets in his book and encourages readers to follow the path that gives them the results that they want. I appreciated Kiyosaki’s personable demonstration contrasting a traditional education then job model with the entrepreneurial pathway. Reading this book pushed me to find a mentor to learn from who had the financial footing I was looking for. 

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin

Thank you for this recommendation, Juan. Vicki Robin’s book details the transformative concept that satisfaction with money is more than dollar bills in the bank. She challenges readers to take a more holistic approach to money and look for ways to save money and maintain the quality of life that they want. In addition to her book, check out her Life Energy Calculator on her website.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Okay, this book isn’t technically about money, but I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who is looking for ways to change their habits regarding dollars and cents. James Clear outlines numerous valuable methods for altering your life, and all of them can be applied to your budget. This book is a must-read for establishing new routines in your life, and I’d love to hear how you apply the principles to your money questions. 

Car Games

I am a create-a-game person. Time with people for me is more than just being together. I need action, energy, and something to do.

So games are my go-to. You can play a game with a lot of materials or none. You can play with young people, old people, in-between people, or a mixed-bag of people. You can play when you have 10 minutes or 10 hours.

On a side note – my games don’t typically include prizes because I strive to keep games away from being about winning or losing. I tend to focus on goals such as getting to know each other, passing the time, or learning something new vs. crowning a victor. If you can’t avoid a prize, I encourage rewards such as choosing the next song you listen to or being first in line for dinner. Easy awards that don’t require money or materials.

So let’s begin. Here are a few of the games that keep my family and friends on their toes when they ride along with me.


Instead of answering the classic “When will we get there?” question, I make my passengers guess. We all cast votes. Using your navigation app is optional. Sometimes this makes it too easy, but sometimes, it gives a good starting guess, and you never know what will come up along the way to change the destination time.


You can count almost anything on a ride: blue cars, cows, houses with garages, emergency vehicles, road signs, or out-of-state vehicles. Try to gauge what there actually might be a lot of on the ride. This game is a little more discouraging if you are counting Minis and you are in Eastern Washington, for example.

Would You Rather?

This is a simple game. Find an app with questions or have everyone create their own. There are no winners or losers, just a chance to get the conversation going.

 “It’s Yours!”

 I honestly don’t know what the attraction to this game is, but it has kept us busy on numerous road trips. Players simply pick a number. You then count cars (or houses or street signs) that you pass. When it gets to a participant’s number, they claim possession. For example, if I choose the number 4 and the fourth car we pass is a garbage truck, I’m the happy owner of an imaginary garbage truck.

Road Name stories

As you come to a street or road name or even city name, everyone comes up with a theory for why it was named that. Depending on your crowd, you may need to set a time limit for this one. Talkers really love to get going on this and can take advantage of their captive audience. For a bonus, look up the real answer when all the guesses are in to see who came closest. I love hearing the creativity and unusual stories that are generated. 


Let’s keep the stories rolling. For this version, have each person say a single sentence of the story. For an added challenge, you can require a certain keyword or maybe a main character, but I wouldn’t worry much about rules. This one is great fun as you start with a preconceived notion of where the story might go and then are jolted into reality as your nephew turns the whole plot line in a completely different direction. The benefit of this game is not just in the ability to tell a great story succinctly – you only have one sentence – but it also develops flexibility. Participants need to roll with the story and be able to adjust their ideas to whatever turn the narrative takes. 


The most common method for this game is to choose a topic and then think of a word for each letter of the alphabet. Variations abound. Instead of an alphabet, do the letters of your destination or a player’s full name. For topics, try animals, foods, city names, last names, Bible personalities, celebrities, cartoon characters, places-that-don’t-exist-yet, first names for a science fiction novel, or annoying habits. Need to kill more time? Have each player recite the answers from the previous players. This is one versatile game. 


License plates were the thing to search for when I was younger. Depending on your route, this may or may not be an option. There are lots of variations, though. You can search for the letters of the alphabet. You can search for items that begin with the letters of your name. For example, I would look for a Mini Cooper, ice cream shop, lumber yard, lawn, irritated driver, sign, signal light, and an animal. You could also search for a number of items – one passenger, two trucks, three highway signs, etc. Or search by colors of the rainbow – something red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and indigo. 

Twenty or So Questions 

Choose something and then give your carmates a chance to guess by asking you questions. This is great with just the classic rules. I don’t like to count the questions, so we just play until an answer is found or everyone gives up. Another way to do questions is to ask them about each other. You can find conversation cards online or make up your own to fit your audience. Be thoughtful. What would you like to learn about the people you are with? What do you want them to learn about each other? Cater your questions to match your goal. 


If you have paper, writing utensils, and smoothish roads, try this twist on the telephone game. Take a piece of paper, write a word on it, fold it in half, and pass it to the next player. This player looks at your word, draws it, and then folds it again before passing it to player 3. Player 3 only looks at the drawing and writes what she thinks the word is. Play continues until a player is unable to fold the paper, and you see if the last entry is anywhere close to the first entry. 

Quiet Game

Had enough of games? Need a break? The Quiet Game is here for you. Savor some moments of peace with this jewel. You can set a timer, or my preferred method is to alternate miles. First mile, no talking; second mile, you can talk; third mile, no talking. Be sure to set your ground rules early, so you don’t lose the game by having to explain why Player 4 was disqualified. Some ground rules to consider – Can I pinch another player? Does laughing count as talking? Can I fall asleep? There’s a lot to consider. 

Send me your thoughts and reviews. What do you play in the car to help the miles tick by? 

Who’s ready for a road trip? I’m ready to get out there and play some road games. I just need somewhere to go. 

Procrastination Stoppers

I am great at procrastinating. If there is a deadline and I can cut things close. I do. I’m not proud of that either. So many things would have turned out better if I had taken more time to do them… like this article, for instance. So here are a couple of tips I should read before I write my next article. 

Set your own due date

I often try to trick my brain with a separate due date. The official paper is due on the 15th, make everything in your notes say the 13th. Write it on your calendar that way. Make reminders based on that day. This can be tricky, but if you can do it effectively, it gives you a gap to do that extra proofreading or run-through with time to spare. 


Tell a friend about the deadline. Ask them to check in with you. Be sure to choose a friend carefully. You want someone who isn’t afraid to inundate you with reminders and also who won’t forget about the deadline completely. You also want to set your expectations clearly from the beginning. Do you need a reminder daily? Weekly? Do you need quick reminders or a phone call? 


In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about stacking habits. If you already do something daily, add another habit on top of that so you can do both daily. I use the same approach to fight procrastination. What am I going to do anyway today? Don’t do it until I finish a set goal with the project that needs to be completed. Right now, I really want to make dinner, but I have to get this written and published before I eat. That’s really motivating. 


When I am on my game, this is my go-to. Let’s say I’m having an ideal day. I start it by writing what my goals for the year are, then my month, then my week. Now I determine what I need to do today to meet those goals. I set out time from my day when I can accomplish those tasks and then fill in the other things that I know will come up. This is not easy, and I definitely don’t do it daily, but when I love it when it works out, and I have … no … when I make the time to get this done. 

Okay. Now stop procrastinating and get something done. Yes, right now. (I’m going to make dinner… because I finished this article.)

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