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06/05/15 Children , Work # ,

The Main Life Lesson From My Dad

The Main Life Lesson From My Dad

Note: I originally wrote this for Parents’ Press in a monthly column I write about personal finances and children.

As a personal finance writer, there are some good life lessons I try to follow — saving money for a rainy day, contributing to my retirement account and saving for my daughter’s college education, among others. I’m not sure if I subconsciously learned those habits from my Dad while growing up, or if they’re things that came naturally to me, or both.

As Father’s Day approaches and I think of my Dad, I can attribute some of my follow-through on those approaches to money to him and his encouragement to be financially prepared for the future.

But more than that, I think there’s a bigger life lesson I got from my Dad: Being there.

I don’t mean just being around for the major celebrations in life such as holidays, marriage and birthdays. Any parent can swoop in on those days and enjoy the party. I’m talking about being around day in and day out, paying the bills and being responsible — being a man. Continue reading

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05/14/15 Children # ,

How MLB is Ripping Off Dads on Father’s Day

How MLB is Ripping Off Dads on Father’s Day

Screen shot 2015-05-14 at 9.16.18 AMMajor League Baseball likes to play up the father-son storyline on Father’s Day, telling warm, fuzzy stories of how MLB players learned the game from their dads, and how they want to pass it on to their sons.

At MLB games on Father’s Day, the league promotes awareness of prostate cancer, and teams try to make dads and their children feel more welcome with events such as allowing kids to run around the bases or play catch on the field after the game. I’m happy that A’s closer Sean Doolittle fondly remembers going to A’s games with his dad.

But MLB is ripping dads off on Father’s Day, charging them $50 to play catch with their child. For 15 minutes. That works out to $200 an hour, or what plumbers and prostitutes make (I assume).

Yes, you read that right. MLB is offering dads a chance to play catch with their child on a baseball field for $50. Plus, you have to pay to get into the game. Click on the video below to see how much MLB promotes Father’s Day:

While the bond between father and child is played up pretty well on MLB’s website, it’s more of a scam in Oakland, home of the A’s baseball team.

In a promotion called “A’s Father’s Day Catch” on June 21, 2015, the team offers fans “the opportunity to play catch on the outfield grass” after the afternoon game against the Angels  for 15 minutes. (Emphasis is mine.)

Game tickets are sold separately from the Father’s Day Catch on the Field tickets. A minimum of two Father’s Day Catch tickets must be bought if you want to play catch with your child on the field, and anyone participating must have a ticket, regardless of age. Check out the A’s photo gallery to see how fun it was last year.

If the rest of your family wants to watch you play catch, but doesn’t want to buy catch session tickets, they get to wait in one area of the stands near the field.

The costs

As with any online purchase through MLB, there are fees attached. Two Father’s Day Catch tickets add up to $58.25. That includes a $2 per ticket convenience fee and a $4.25 handling fee.

Then you have to buy tickets. The A’s have dynamic ticket prices, meaning prices change as market conditions change. If rain is forecast, for example, the price will drop, and you’ll likely find a lower cost if you buy tickets earlier in the season.

The cheapest ticket the A’s offer for the June 21 Father’s Day game is $18. You and your son or daughter will need to bring binoculars, because for that price you’ll either be sitting above the outfield bleachers or in the third deck behind home plate.

A second-deck ticket ranges from $22 to $40, a first-deck ticket ranges from $40 to $66, and if you’re a real big spender, you can go with $110 or $250 seats at field level.

For sake of argument, let’s say you’re frugal and willing to pay $18 for the cheapest ticket. The $36 you’d expect to pay for two tickets quickly rises to $47.75 when a $7.50 convenience fee and $4.25 handling fee is added.

Add $47.75 for two seats and $58.25 for both of you to play catch on the field after the game, and it adds up to $106.

In an irony on top of another irony, it costs more to play catch for 15 minutes than it does to watch the game.

$200 per hour on Father’s Day

For 15 minutes on the field, the $50 Father’s Day Catch tickets equate to $200 an hour.

That’s about double what anesthesiologists, data architects, auto mechanics and successful entrepreneurs earn.

It’s not worth discussing what MLB players earn, though I’m sure they could afford $106 to take their kid to a game and play catch with them on the field.

And the costs of food, drink, souvenirs, parking and anything else you want at the game? Probably a lot more.

No thanks, MLB. My daughter and I won’t be playing catch on the A’s field after the Father’s Day game. Not for an extra $58.

Creating fans is important to MLB, but this isn’t the way to do it.

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12/09/14 Children , Saving , Work # ,

Need Incentive to Save? Have a Baby

Need Incentive to Save? Have a Baby

If you’re going to have a baby, it’s easy to see that the costs far outweigh the return, at least financially. The annual cost of raising a child is about $13,000, as I’ve written before.

Expenses include housing, child care, education, transportation, food, healthcare and clothing. Then there’s all of your time spent cleaning up after them and shuttling them to school, playdates and activities. And remember that it’s time you’re not paid for.

The emotional rewards when you have a baby, of course, make the costs more than worthwhile.

An emotional incentive to save

But for anyone who wants to have a baby but is unsure they can afford it, consider the savings incentives. I’m not talking about the child tax credit of $1,000, which won’t buy you many diapers or baby clothes. I’m talking about the emotional incentive to save. Continue reading

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Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.