Archives for August 2015

How To Teach Kids the Basics of Budgeting and Spending Responsibly

Budgeting and spending responsibly aren’t skills that should be developed later in life. Money knowledge is on the same plane as reading and being polite. By instilling positive, responsible spending habits, you’ll set up your kid (or kids) for success.

Set an Example

There’s no doubt about the fact that kids are great observers and absorb what’s going on around them. So, be cognizant about how you talk about money and how you actually spend money. When it comes down to it, practice what you preach.

An Allowance

In the world of parenting, allowances are extremely common. However, they are about more than just simple cash every week. Make an allowance something that is earned from doing chores/homework, not something that is a given. If they aren’t good or tasks aren’t completed, don’t give an allowance. This shows kids the connection between doing work and receiving money.

Additionally, you can also use allowance money and birthday/holiday gifts to form a mini bank. Let them know how much money they have. You could keep the information in a notebook or maybe display it on the fridge, so it’s visible.

When they want to buy something, like a toy, have them look at the cost of it. Then, have them compare the cost to the amount of money they have. In order to help them make educated choices, help them set goals. Good questions to ask include:

  • What do you really, really want? Based on its cost, how many weeks would you need to save to get it?
  • Is there anything you can do to get to your goal quicker, like a lemonade stand or additional chores?

It can be helpful to keep the money that accumulates in two jars: spend and save. Instead of the traditional opaque piggy bank, try something see-through, so kids can visually see money adding up.

Apps/Games

For young kids, it may be difficult to tell the difference between game currency and actual in-app purchases. A good amount of parents have been surprised when they’ve been charged for in-app purchases when their kids use their tablets.

A great lesson revolves around the difference between play money in games and actual currency. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to block in-app purchases, either.

Real Budgets

As kids get older, they can handle more complex information about money and finances. Of course, you probably don’t want your kids to know the ins and outs of your personal budget, but what can you share? Think it over by yourself or with your spouse, and share what you feel comfortable with.

Explain your thought process and let your kids know when you’ve run into challenges. That way, they’ll be able to see that budgeting isn’t a black and white process, and it can be difficult sometimes – beyond just buying a recreational item.

At the end of the day, whether you’re a mom or a kid, budgeting is difficult. There is always more to learn (after all, that’s probably why you’re reading this blog!). Emphasize this to your little ones as they grow up into young adults, and you’ll be sure to see them flourish financially.

Five Ways to Throw a Kid’s Birthday Party on a Budget

If you’re looking to throw a kid’s birthday party on a budget, we’ve come up with five things you can do to save money but still have a great time and a party your child and all his or her friends will remember.

These days, more and more parents are embracing the trend of throwing crazy, over-the-top birthday parties for their children, even those who aren’t old enough to understand the concept. For some parents, the idea of a kid’s birthday party on a budget just doesn’t register.

Some parents rent out banquet halls. Other hire actors to portray their children’s favorite TV characters and take over their local kiddie gyms for hours at a time. Those with large enough backyards have been known to rent amusement park rides, cotton candy machines, and snow cone makers to rival the carnival experience. And let’s not forget the celebratory junior spa day, where kids as young as four or five will spend hours getting pampered with age-appropriate face masks, manicures, and mud baths.

Even if you actually have the desire to throw such an elaborate bash, you may quickly run into one major problem: money. Unless your only aim is to impress the other parents, these extravagant birthday affairs are never worth their exorbitant costs. You’ll end up spending  the next 12 months paying off a credit card balance for an event that will last just a few hours. It is a little ridiculous considering that kids don’t care how much you spend; they have just as much fun and possibly much more fun with a low cost affair.

With a little creativity, you can find a cost-effective way to say “happy birthday.” Thankfully, you’ve got plenty of options for throwing an awesome kid’s birthday party on a budget.

1. Open Up Your Home

Throwing a birthday party at home means opening up your space to an influx of kids. It’ll take time to do the setup, and you’re almost guaranteed to be left with a mess. The good news? You can save several hundred dollars by not having to rent out a space.

2. Don’t Serve a Meal

Between food allergies and pickiness, feeding a room full of children is a challenging prospect to begin with. Rather than serve a meal, time your birthday party for 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon so that there’s no expectation of lunch or dinner. This way, all you have to do is serve up some snacks, put out some beverages, and bust out a cake. Speaking of which…

3. Make Your Own Cake

Even if you’re not a baker, you can whip up a simple, delicious cake for a fraction of the cost of a bakery cake. The secret? Cake mix. Don’t be ashamed of it. Lather it with a $3 jar of store-bought frosting, throw on some sprinkles, and you’ll be all set. It may not look as cool as the custom superhero or construction zone cake your neighbor’s son had at his party, but at 1/5 the cost, it’ll probably taste just as good.

4. Forego the Party Bags

Most parents don’t want extra candy or small, plastic toys lying around, so why spend money on stuff nobody needs? Instead, have the kids do a craft for entertainment and let them take their creations home.

5. Skip the Invitations

Every parent has email these days. Rather than print and mail out invitations, use email or free tools like evite.com to let your guests know they’re invited.

As noble as it is to want to throw your child a birthday party he or she will be raving about for weeks on end, it’s not worth busting your budget for a mere two hours of entertainment. And besides, once the party’s over, it’s all about the presents anyway.