About Smart Mama, Smart Money

From the moment your kids are born, the kiddie-perfecting complex is pushing you to buy-buy-buy. Without the right gadget/clothes/lessons, your kids will be behind the eight ball. If you love your child, you must spend, spend, spend, spend. Right?

Wait, not so fast . . . Take a deep breath. Relax.

From cradle to college we’ve shopped the world, made the meals, balanced the books, mastered the technology, and charted the courses to give you the goods on finding what your kids need without losing your shirt . . . or your sanity!

Whether you’re expecting your first baby (congratulations!) or have a house full of kids, Smart Mama, Smart Money is the guide for parents minding their wallets and their values. A smart mom doesn’t waste time or money chasing after perfect lessons, fancy toys, and pricey duds. She weeds out the silly and excessive (your baby does not need a touch-screen tablet, and your teen does not need to go to Bora Bora to do community service!) from the must-haves and the must-dos.

In this new economy, it’s critical to live within your means. Smart Mama, Smart Money will help you take stock of your finances, get your budget in order, and give you a primer for teaching your little ones money smarts. (You do want them to be able to afford to move out of the house one day, right?) You need to be savvy about balancing the books, credit and credit cards, interest and interest rates. Don’t waste your time trying to decipher the secret handshake for college entry: There is none. Instead, you should be thinking ahead and saving for college—and retirement.

It’s a mom’s job to teach her children healthy eating habits, and to instill in them a reverence for the food they eat and the people who grow it. With childhood obesity nearing epidemic proportions, it’s time to get the processed junk out of your grocery cart. It’s also time to quit fast-food meals on the fly. Eating well is good for them and easy on your wallet. We’ll give you the skinny on where to shop and what to buy. Don’t worry; we know you’re busy—we’ve got strategies for putting great, healthy food on the table.

Ning, Bing, Ping, Google+, Facebook, Foursquare, tweets and Twitter—it’s hard enough to keep up in real space, let alone cyberspace. We’ve got the scoop on how to save money on all things wired and how to keep your kids safe in the virtual world.

Is your anxiety meter through the roof as you watch other moms schlepping kids to lessons and classes? Does your kid have no one to play with because her friends are at gymnastics on Monday, violin on Tuesday, ballet on Wednesday, math tutor on Thursday, soccer all weekend? What do the other parents know that you don’t? Relax. Kids need balanced schedules: time to be bored and find their own inner resources, time to ride their bikes and shoot hoops, time to experience the joy of free play. When it’s time to sign them up for organized activities we offer sane guidance for navigating the world of lessons and programs; we’ll show you how to get them set up in everything from art to music to sports to camp.

Smart Values

Kids need loads of things. Things they outgrow—fast. Kids want lots of things. Things they get tired of—fast. Teaching them to separate their needs from their wants and to decode the messages the media uses to sell them junk—junk they probably don’t need—is part of your job. This will save you money and teach them how to be savvy consumers. In today’s world, keeping in mind what you value is as critical as finding values—we won’t let you lose focus.

It’s not easy being a parent. In fact, we think it is the hardest job in the world. There is no manual, no outline, no one right way to do things (except our way, of course). Modern moms and modern families come in all shapes and sizes: single moms, married moms, divorced moms, divorced and remarried moms, stepmoms, adoptive moms, mom and moms (and dad and dads), working moms, stay-at-home moms. You’re all welcome here.

Praise for Smart Mama, Smart Money

Smart Mama, Smart Money is a Publisher’s Weekly pick of the week book. In a starred review they call it a ‘must read’ for smart mamas (and papas).

Publisher’s Weekly review:

Jack-of-all-trades Hoffman (Bitches on a Budget) compiles the tips and tricks she’s learned in her careers as marketer, mother, and writer to produce an all-in-one guide to frugal parenting. Written to other mothers in tone, but not gender-specific in content, this valuable tome offers suggestions on how to survive the giant-plastic-stuff phase of infancy (buy a used stroller, but a new crib) and paying for college, though the bulk of her advice is focused on the many years between. With two of kids out of college and on their own, she confidently dispenses advice on topics ranging from clothing choices to sex-ed, but manages to do so in a chatty, friendly voice that is never overbearing. Food is a large part of any family’s budget, and Hoffman discusses MyPlate, organics, and “smart shopping” with equal ease. She also provides a brief overview of financial management basics including budgeting, insurance, and credit cards, and her advice about helping kids distinguish “wants” from “needs” is astute and practical. In addition to everyday tips, Hoffman also offers tried-and-true insights into developing strong relationships with one’s children–in the end, “a smart mom never loses sight of what her kids really need: unconditional love, safe boundaries, and room to play.” Informative, entertaining, and applicable, this is a must-read for “smart mamas” and papas. (Mar.)