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.

Top 5 Money Tips For New Parents

 

 

A new member of the family means a lot of things, from new experiences and memories to new fears and frustrations, chief among them the fact that you now have to stretch your money to completely support a new person.

Budgeting for a family is no small chore, especially if you’ve never had to do it before. It doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating, though. By following these 5 money tips for new parents, you can get your new family’s finances off to a solid start in no time.

Establish An Emergency Fund ASAP

You’re probably concerned enough with just covering the day to day expenses when it comes to your new family member. Savings, beyond what you may or may not have automated, might not seem like a primary concern from the beginning.

It should be, though. It’s recommended that you have six months’ worth of non-discretionary income set aside to make ends meet should something happen to your earning ability. It’s not always fun to think about losing your job when you have a new baby, but it does happen, and if it does, your family needs to be ready.

Try to have enough to cover half a year’s worth of basic living expenses, including rent or mortgages, utilities, bill payments, food, and baby expenses such as diapers and new clothes, set aside in advance. Whether you’re getting this set up before baby comes or you’re starting after the fact, worry about this before you start worrying about college funds or pre-school tuition. Those things are important, but so is your family’s living security.

While you’re at it, take a look at life insurance. It may have been frivolous when it was just you or just the two of you, but now that someone is going to be depending on your income for several years to come, life insurance is an important security measure to make sure that your child is cared for in tough times.

Evaluate Your Primary Expenses

Next on our list of top 5 tips for new parents is to take a look at how much you’re spending on the necessities.

You know that adding a new person into your family budget is going to change things, but have you truly considered by how much? Remember, you’re not just going to need to buy one wardrobe’s worth of baby clothes that will last until they reach their toddler years, you’re going to need to re-outfit that growing body every couple of months.

There’s no one number that’s going to tell you how much extra your kid is going to cost you, and you’re going to have to be prepared for your budget to not go exactly as planned, but it’s important to look into the potential cost of raising your child, and evaluate your budget from there. There are even a number of online calculators to help you get started.

When you know how much you need for your child, you’ll be in a better place to decide how the rest of your budget should be allocated. Necessities like food, shelter, utilities, etc., aren’t going anywhere, but you’ll be surprised where you’ll be able to cut back.

Look Into Alternative Options

Once you know where you absolutely must spend and where you can cut costs, don’t be afraid to look into alternatives where costs are still high.

New parents in California for example, are easy targets for advertisers because your time and mental resources are already pretty tight, but the newest or flashiest isn’t always going to be what you need. Buying gently used on things like furniture and clothes for your new kid is a good way to cut some of the initial costs that are only going to last between a few months and a couple years.

Look into alternatives for things like health insurance, too. Increased premiums might make employer benefits a costly addition to your budget. Government-backed coverage might save you some cash while still keeping your whole family healthy. If you do run into emergencies with your budget, you can try applying for an alternative loan solution such as a Sacramento car title loan.

Look Into Tax Advantage College Savings

You might need that safety net first, but saving for college should be something that starts early. With estimated costs at a quarter of a million dollars by 2030, college isn’t going to come cheap and it’s not going to happen on its own.

Options like a 529 College Savings Plan provide parents a chance to save without the savings being subject to federal and in most cases state taxes, meaning that you’re getting a full dollar for every dollar you put in.

Don’t Hesitate To Ask For Help

When you’re tired, stressed, or just don’t know what to do, loading up on hundreds of dollars’ worth of baby books and paying for top notch sitters and nannies won’t get you nearly as far as your own network.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your supporters, whether that’s other new parents, your own parents, or other friends and family. If you need a sitter or help getting your kid to an important appointment, talk to someone you trust with your kids. Often, they’ll do it for nothing more than the promise that you’ll return the favor down the road.

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, either. Things like medical needs should never be overlooked but a seasoned parent might be able to reassure you that a red spot is nothing more than diaper rash and save you the cost of a copay that you didn’t account for. Remember, it takes a village.

There’s no set number when it comes to budgeting for a growing family, and there’s no definitively right way to do it. Just set your priorities, look at all your options, and don’t be afraid to take help where you can get it. Most of all – don’t be afraid to not be afraid. You’re going to be a great parent.

Free Things To Do With Your Family in the Summer

Ah, Summer. Long, sunny days when the kids are home from school. It can be easy to wish the kids back into the classroom, but this year consider an alternative: find free things to do with your family in the summer. Doesn’t sound possible, but it is. Communities across the country are committed to offering a variety of activities that families can enjoy for little or no cost. Ready to get in on the action?

Get Moving

Summer is a great time of year to get outside and get moving. With kids (and adults) watching more TV than ever, having the opportunity for some exercise is too good to pass up. Consider biking as a family each day or night. To make it even more fun, you could bike ride to the park with plans to meet friends there, or pack a picnic lunch.

Hiking is another wonderful opportunity to get outside and explore nature. Pack a water bottle and hit the trails.

An alternative to hiking is geocaching. Even though you’re still outside and hitting the trails, you’re also looking for a cache. It’s like going on a treasure hunt, but instead of a map, you use GPS coordinates to find the treasure. With over 2 million geocaches worldwide, there are probably some near you. Search www.geocache.com to begin.

Other free activities that can get the whole family moving include:

  • Swimming at the beach
  • Playing in splashpads
  • rollerskating/blading
  • Go to the park and play
  • Host outdoor neighborhood games

Get together with families from the entire neighborhood to play softball, kickball, kick the can and other games you loved to play growing up.

It’s not entirely free because you have to pay for shoes, but there are many locations throughout the U.S. that let kids bowl up to three games per day. Perfect for a rainy day or those hot days where you just don’t want to go outside.

Learn Something New

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean there’s no learning to be done. Summer reading programs are a fantastic way to get the whole family sharp. The following are just a sample of those available:

Many libraries and book stores have reading hours. You might also see if there are reading programs at local parks. Check and see if any authors of your kids’ favorite books are doing book signings in the area or will be by checking the author’s websites. They might enjoy hearing how they came up with the stories and asking questions. You might even be able to combine the activity with a road trip.

Many businesses offer free classes. Whether your family is into technology and wants to attend Apple Camp, loves working with wood or enjoy crafting, you can learn something new. many of these are free, some may have a small charge to cover the cost of the products.

One on One Time at Home

Some days it’s best to just stay home. But that doesn’t mean you have to watch TV all day. There are lots of great fun that can be had at home. Best of all – it won’t cost you a cent. Consider the following ideas:

  • Build a massive fort
  • Create a scavenger hunt
  • Have a dance party
  • Pull out the board games
  • Make your own board games
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Test out science experiments
  • Create obstacle courses

You could also teach your kids to cook. Whether they’re at the stage where they can just start to add in the flour or can make dinner by themselves, doing it together could lead to new recipes, new things to try and some great memories.

Out on the Town

Does your town have a police or fire station? Why not call up and arrange a tour? Local factories might be willing to give tours, as well. And sometimes candy stores will show you how the magic happens – for free. You might also visit a farm to see where the produce comes from and see some animals.

Do you love to fish? Get a fishing pole (a toy one for very young children might be wise) and teach your little angler how to cast the pole and reel in the fish. Share a favorite fishing spot.

Maybe not much happened in your town, but local museums are sure to have captured the local flavor and history and they usually don’t charge much – they might even have free days.

What about giving back? Maybe a local garden or a school could use your help. Get the whole family involved in a volunteer project.

What’s going on at your park district? Many towns have activities set up throughout the summer that are family-friendly. This could include free days to swim at the pool, live music, free petting zoos and free movies in the park.

If you’re a movie-going family and want the opportunity to see other movies during the summer, consider paying a nominal fee (50 cents to $1 per film). The following are sites where you can see movies near you on the cheap:

You Gotta Eat

Food. Whether you want to cook together or you’re doing all the cooking yourself, a meal is a great way to spend time with family and friends. Visit a local park for a barbecue, take a drive to a picnic or hit up some local restaurants on days where kids eat free. In some towns and cities, particularly lower income areas, the USDA has partnered with local schools to provide kids 1-18 with free lunches.

Spending fun time with family and making memories doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Take advantage of this summer and spend time together doing activities for free.

Eating Healthy on a Budget for Families

Eating Healthy on a Budget for Families

Hear us out when we say: we get it. Feeding a family healthy foods on a budget is no easy task. Kids complain about health foods not tasting as good as their processed counterparts, Ingredients can be expensive, and prep times can go on for hours depending on the dishes you serve.

But fear not – there’s no reason to panic or navigate away from the page just yet. We’ll start with some cheap (but nutritionally powerful) ingredients, and some simple meals you can make with them. However, we’ll also throw in some incredible tools that can help you make a healthy, inexpensive meal for your family out of the ingredients you have lying around your house. And when we say “any,” ingredient, we mean “any.”

Bananas

Benefits: You have probably heard it shouted from the mountain tops that bananas are an excellent source of potassium. Well, the mountain-shouters are right, but did you know bananas are also a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin A? Among many other nutrients! Plus they’re usually one of the cheapest fruits out there, usually falling in a price range south of $1 a bunch.

Quick meal idea: You can eat them on their own or add them to other healthy breakfast foods. Try slicing up a banana and adding it to another inexpensive nutritional power-player: oatmeal. Both are packed with fiber, which will keep you feeling full for hours after your meal.

Eggs

Benefits: Full of nutrients like choline, sulfur, and lots of protein, eggs are the gold standard for a healthy food that won’t bust your budget. The beauty of eggs is they can be incorporated into a variety of different meals and dishes, from their simple fried or scrambled forms to quiches and casseroles.

Quick meal idea: Whether you prefer to cook with the entire egg or just the egg whites, there are so many ways to use this food of many faces. One great meal that also allows you to incorporate some greenery in the form of broccoli is a simple scrambled eggs with ricotta dish. Throw some broccoli, salt, and oil into a pan for about 6 minutes. Then add 8 large eggs, scramble until almost set, then remove them from the heat and sprinkle on some ricotta.

Beans

Benefits: Beans have long been a favorite of herbivores and omnivores alike because they can take on many different forms and flavors. With flavor, fiber, protein, iron, and antioxidants, ingredients like black beans are tasty, nutritious and cheap, often costing just 99 cents for a can.

Quick meal idea:From black bean soup to black beans and rice, there’s almost nothing you can’t do with these legumes. Try simmering a can of black beans with some minced garlic and onion. Then pour them over some brown rice and sprinkle with cheddar cheese, cilantro, tomato, avocado, and whatever other vegetables you enjoy. If you’re feeling really crazy, add some hot sauce.

Cabbage

Benefits: It’s a cheap, healthy ingredient that’s also incredibly underrated. Though it may get a bad wrap for being an incredibly uninteresting food most often incorporated into your grandmother’s questionable casseroles, there’s actually a lot you can do with a head of cabbage and a little imagination.

Quick meal idea: It’s as simple as chopping up a head of cabbage into thinly-sliced pieces (think: coleslaw), throwing it into a heavy-bottomed pan with some butter for 10 – 15 minutes, then seasoning it with salt and pepper.

Spice Things Up with a Cutting-Edge Cooking App

You may see this list and roll your eyes at the overly simplistic portrayal of foods, but did you know there’s a way to make a tasty meal out of just about any combination of ingredients, including those on this list?

If you’re like NPR correspondent Eliza Strickland and you’re into food experimentation (or you’re sick of the frustration that comes with making a trip to the grocery store and forgetting a key required in your dish), there’s an app for that, and its name is Watson.

After being programmed with the information for over 9,000 recipes from Bon Appetit magazine as well as the flavor compounds found in foods, Watson can create recipes from just about any combination of foods. So if you’ve got food lying around the house that you’d like to incorporate into heart-healthy dishes, let Watson do the thinking while you do the cooking.

Remember, food is the fuel your body uses to function, fight off disease, and heal from injury. Feeding yourself (or your family) meals full of preservatives and overly-processed foods is kind of like pouring sugar in your own gas tanks (no pun intended). It doesn’t just give your body fewer nutrients to work with – it oftentimes contributes to and exacerbates certain ailments.