FOCUS ON THE FAMILY with Jim Daly and Dr. Juli Slattery
Q: My wife and I have three teenage daughters and I’m dreading the drama that comes with Valentine’s Day. They are already talking about not having boyfriends for Valentine’s Day. As a father, how do I help them weather all of the focus on romance and boyfriends?
Juli: I think every woman can remember the sting of those teenage years — the highs of being in love and the lows of feeling unwanted and unloved. Valentine’s Day definitely accentuates both the highs and the lows!
I’d encourage you to reclaim Valentine’s Day to be about more than sweethearts, but about love instead. Let your daughters know how much you love them with a special dinner, a note or a little gift. They may roll their eyes, but the love you express to them will make deep deposits for them emotionally. In fact, when a dad is involved in his daughter’s life, she is less likely to fall into destructive dating relationships.
Also, challenge your daughters to think about how they can show love to others. When I was in high school, the cheerleaders sold carnations for $1 that were delivered in homeroom on Valentine’s Day. Popular kids carried around dozens of flowers while other students didn’t receive any. My senior year I decided not to mope about how many flowers I had, but to show kindness to other kids. I bought 10 carnations and had them sent anonymously to kids I knew wouldn’t receive any. Showing love to other people will boost your daughters’ self esteem and lessen the focus on their longing to be loved.
In the midst of this, don’t forget to shower your wife with love. Not only will it make her Valentine’s Day special, but also it will model for your daughters a love that’s worth waiting for!
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Q: Our New Year’s resolution was to tighten up our family budget, but we’ve already failed miserably. Honestly, we can’t even agree on what a “good budget” is supposed to look like. How can we get our act together?
Jim: At least you realize that living on a budget is important. Prior to the recession, USA Today reported that only one in five people even used a monthly budget. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that the number had improved to more than two in five Americans (43 percent) as of last year, but still, 56 percent of us do not use a budget at all, and as a result, many are swimming in debt.
Here are some basic guidelines for allocating your monthly expenses, courtesy of the experts at Crown Financial Ministries. The percentages are for a four-member family with an annual gross income of $130,000 or less. Net Spendable Income (NSI) is money available after charitable giving and taxes:
— 38 percent of your monthly budget toward housing.
— 15 percent toward transportation, including the purchase and maintenance of vehicles.
— 12 percent toward food.
Then, five percent of your NSI should be applied to each of the following categories:
— Debt relief
— Insurance (other than medical coverage)
— Recreation and entertainment
— Medical and dental expenses
Now, these are general guidelines, and your own situation may look different. You might spend less than 38 percent on housing but more than 15 percent on transportation. You’ll also notice that the categories only add up to 95 percent, which will give you five percent of “wiggle room” as you craft your budget.
The important thing is that you allocate your money wisely in these categories, even if the percentages are slightly different. If you’re spending too much in one area, the others will suffer and you’ll go over your budget. Crafting a realistic plan and sticking with it is what a healthy budget is all about.
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Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, host of the Focus on the Family radio program, and a husband and father of two.
Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three.
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