priority, even if we do hear too many sad stories about divorce,
abuse or neglect.
I have no doubt that family stories will work their way into some
But for now, it's over.
Strong families are one of America's most important assets. It's
true that we're not always doing the best possible job, but the whole
nature of parenting has changed, even since Cay and I began this
journey over 14 years ago. Today's parents have more challenges than
parents who raised their kids 20 years ago.
So in parting, I want to offer an edited version of my unsolicited
advice to parents on what you can do to strengthen your family.
* Live close to work. Last year, the Automobile Club of Southern
California estimated that it cost 59 cents a mile to operate a 2003
SUV. Some cars that were not gas-guzzlers were slightly less, but not
much. The cost of gasoline is only part of the story. Add payments,
insurance, tolls, maintenance, repairs, citations and, perhaps most
important, all of the goodies that commuters treat themselves with
every week and you have a very expensive habit.
If you commute, do the math. Calculate an honest cost of driving
to your job. If you're like most commuters, you can find a job close
to home with a significant pay cut and never notice the difference in
your lifestyle. In addition, you'll have a lot more family time and a
lot less stress.
* Pay cash for everything. Credit card usage forces you to live
beyond your means. Credit card usage forces you to work more. Working
more causes you to spend less time with your family.
If you are one of the millions of American families that finds
itself using credit cards as a routine way of living, you must
develop a plan to stop. If you're only making the minimum monthly
payments on your card(s), figure out a way to pay more each month. It
may mean that you have to drive past Starbucks from now on or eat at
home instead of going to Mi Casa, but it beats being a slave to a
credit card company.
Oh, and if you buy something on sale with a credit card, you're
not buying it on sale.
* Buy what you need, not what you want. America's prosperity has