They raised seven kids while drowning in debt. Here are the lessons they're passing on.
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Capital One

The Kunziers were rich in the things that matter most—family and love—but their finances were in shambles.

John Kunzier had been running a successful construction business when 9/11 happened and changed everything. When the business started struggling, John didn't want to fire his employees, so he made some decisions that, in hindsight, were the wrong ones. The following year, the business failed.

John Kunzier. All photos via Upworthy.


"It was a big blow to my ego," says John, "to have something you built completely collapse."

John had to declare bankruptcy. John's wife, Liz, was pregnant with twins at the time, and the family had to rely on loans to make ends meet. "We actually took out a loan that would never end," says John.

"It was a horrible financial decision for us," says Liz.

The Kunziers began, slowly but surely, picking up the pieces of their financial life but then the 2008 Great Recession hit. "It was literally like somebody ripped the rug out from under us," says John.

Liz kept a "money tree"—a good luck tree people sometimes keep in their homes. The tree wasn't in great shape, but it limped along, and then one day one of the twins cut it down. It was the perfect metaphor for the family's financial situation.

As a result, the family took no vacations, never ate out, and didn't buy any new toys. Despite that, they weren't unhappy.

The Kunziers are a large family. John and Liz have seven kids including the twins and two grandchildren. So when they hit financial hard times, they had to cut out everything but the necessities. The couple didn't even give each other birthday or Christmas presents.

They've been real with their kids about their situation, especially as they've gotten older. The family lives in a very affluent area, and the kids are used to seeing people with lots of material things. But John and Liz maintained the philosophy that "things don't make you happy."

The Kunziers. Photo via the Kunziers.

"I took it as us being a different kind of rich," says the Kunzier's daughter, Claire. "Us being rich in family."

Not wanting their kids to feel a sense of deprivation, Liz says, "We didn't say, 'Oh we can't do that because we can't afford it,' we would just say, 'No, we're not doing that. That's not something we're going to do.'"

"We wanted to make sure your upbringing was good and memorable and fun, and that you guys didn't know any different," John tells his kids.

What's more, the Kunzier kids have learned valuable lessons from their parents' financial experiences.

When the market turned around, the Kunziers were able to refinance their home, which helped them climb out of their financial hole. "All of a sudden, things got better and better and better," says John. "It's a snowball effect, either way."

Because the Kunziers are open with their kids about their financial journey, their kids will have a better sense of how to financially plan and make sound monetary decisions.

"I think it's really important for me to hear this," says Claire. "Because I am a freshman in college, and I am starting to make these financial decisions for myself, especially with loans." Claire says she won't live on campus next year so she won't have to take a loan out to pay for room and board.

Claire with her sister and mother. Photo via Upworthy.

"For me," she says, "deciding what's important to do is being shaped by what you guys did."

The Kunziers now have loads of financial wisdom, guidance, and proven advice to pass on to their kids and grandkids. But perhaps the most crucial lesson is one they've already imparted — how to maintain a resilient spirit and focus on what's most important when times are toughest.

"We didn't have all the money in the world, but we had each other," says the Kunziers' son, Jack.

"Not having a whole lot of money isn't the worst thing in the world," says Liz, "because if you've got your family with you, and you love each other. That makes it not sting so bad."

Learn more about the Kunziers in the video below:

These parents are being brutally honest about their financial history so their kids can learn from their mistakes — and that there are things more valuable than money.
Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, November 29, 2018
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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.