Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Start Planning Today!

Saving for your child’s education is critical.  So say hundreds of financial planners, investment professionals, and college fund managers; although surely it matters not that every one of them also stands to fund their own retirement via commissions off your studious savings.  A vast majority of parents today recognize while their child is still in the zygote stage that he or she is far above average, gifted in fact, and will be attending a prestigious university, most likely Harvard.  This necessitates the creation of a college savings account.  This is not to be confused with the savings account most people are familiar with from childhood, in which birthday and Christmas money was deposited for up to several days before it was withdrawn to buy baseball cards, dinosaurs, or whatever little girls spend their money on.  No, a college savings account is a special place where parents can put all the money they have left over after buying diapers, car seats, a crib, baby food, educational toys, wet wipes, a high chair, and clothes.  Then, through the miracle of compound interest, the money grows at astronomical rates, allowing you to have enough money to pay for college when your child turns eighteen.  Provided the stock market goes up.  A lot.  Being convinced by the near mathematical certainty of this proposition, I opened a college savings account for my firstborn son shortly after he received a social security number.  I started with $25.00, which, interestingly enough, was just enough to cover the annual fee for the first year. So far, small annoyances like groceries and house payments have prevented me from sending large checks to the college fund.  However, I have mailed in several Dominoes Pizza coupons in hopes those can be applied during my son’s college years.  Occasionally we deposit whatever coins are left in the change jar [after going out for ice cream of course] and this has resulted in a substantial balance being built up, possibly enough for the application fee at a local community college.  I’m sure the teen years will provide far more opportunities for squirreling away cash.  In the meantime, I can cast haughty sidelong glances at friends who bemoan the rising costs of college and fret over their lack of preparation.  Then I can take them out for ice cream.   

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Some Assembly Required

Finding a place for a baby to sleep is easy at first. The child spends the first nine months of its earthly existence safely and comfortably nestled inside its mother.  If the child is female, the womb is enhanced by a full-length mirror, a leather couch, and a coffee bar. After the child becomes fully vested in the terrestrial experience, sleeping arrangements are still not difficult.  The hospital provides a comfortable nursery, complete with cribs, blankets, and nurses to coddle the child at all hours of the night.  Even after the child is brought home, parents are not faced with difficult decisions; a newborn can easily sleep in its car seat for several weeks, although no parent will admit that they let their baby sleep in the car seat.  I’ve only heard of other people doing it.  But eventually the moment comes when the baby needs a crib.  This is necessitated by the propensity of newborns to flail about and even roll over in their sleep.  In early cultures, this also prevented pests like mice and velociraptors from making off with young children.  Now when you attempt to purchase a crib, you will be awestruck by the beautiful assembled floor models, complete with locking wheels, rails that move up and down, and even mobiles suspended from the sides.  However, the crib you purchase will come in a flat box, very much unassembled.  For parents who do not yet know that they will be spending the next 18 years assembling toys, bikes, and tree houses, this can be a harrowing experience.  My first crib assembly job went as well as could be expected.  After combining each of the 1,034 pieces that were in the box, I stood back to admire my work: a replica of Big Ben.  This not being appropriate quarters for a napping infant, I tried again, this time looking at the picture on the box [but still ignoring the directions].  After much head-scratching, I succeeded in creating a sleeping surface enveloped by rails, enough to hold a baby in place should it decide to test its mobility.  So now the baby has a place to sleep.  Never mind that the sides show not the least potential for sliding up and down and that I have 14 screws and 3 bolts remaining.  Maybe I can throw them at attacking velociraptors.