Saturday, November 2, 2013

Math Mind and the Frugal Life

From educators to parents to legislators, there is one very acceptable four-letter word - STEM.  It stands for:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Math
And it is all the rage these days, especially in the area of girls in school.  American students rank lower than many other countries on testing.  Throw in the top 10 highly paid professions out of undergrad, and you'll see all are heavy on the math skills.

Beyond ones career, confidence in your math skills can be a key life-skill.  And it may help you take your frugal to a higher level.  Case in point, my husband and what we call his "wet finger".  Earlier this week I opened a letter from our health insurance company.  It notified me that our rates would increase from $350/month to $850/month in order to comply with the ACA.  What!  I sprinted downstairs, waiving the letter in my hand to interrupt my husband's phone call with his parents.  I told him the numbers and he calmly said "no, that is not right."  Then he went back to his conversation. A few phone calls the next day revealed that it was the worst case scenario, we have other routes and options to take with lower costs.  His calm and confidence, as described in this article on what kids excel at math, allowed him to dispassionately analyze a significant monthly budgetary item.

For those wanting to take frugal to the next step, consider building your math skills.  Prior to a purchase give thought to what you expect the price to be, or what you believe you can spend.  Do not leave the math up to the person selling you a product or service.  From a home mortgage to your credit card statement to the hourly rate of a plumber -- pause, be as rational as you can, and give some thought to the math first.  If the number is way off, figure out why.  Did you miss something?  Did they give you a number for Cadillac products when a Honda level would meet your needs.

Image from Mississippi River Museum -- combine travel with education,
that's our frugal approach to parenting.

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