The following is another guest post from My Canuck Buck. Thank you so much for pitching in while life is nuts! Please check out her site when you have a chance!
Recently, I babysat my 2 nieces (aged 9 and 10) for the weekend. We took them up to see their cousins (1 boy and 1 girl – ages 12 and 11) for a short visit. My nephew had a ball hockey game and afterwards we took the kids out for a snack and to the mall.
I concluded after the “snack” part that I do not have any concept of how much fast food costs these days. For 4 kids, it cost me over 20 bucks! And they would have eaten more if I’d let them! Part of the issue was that I didn’t think ahead and tell them exactly what they could and couldn’t have. So, in order to not hold up the line, I just let them order what they wanted, and “Frosty shakes” for a drink cost a lot more than juice or pop. If I did this again, I’d tell them ahead of time they can only have something from the value menu (maybe even limit it to 1 or 2 choices there so they can pick faster!) and only a small drink (no shake!). I know it would have been cheaper to bring something, but I wanted this trip to Wendy’s to be part of the outing.
And then we hit the mall. I learned that my little nieces aren’t so little any more and are very interested in clothes, jewelry, and make up. Normally they aren’t bad about asking for things, but I think having 3 of them together encouraged each other. So – every store they’d go in, they’d ask for something. I managed to say “No” to everything, although after an hour, they started to wear me down. Some things were as cheap as 2 dollars, but it was nothing they *really* needed or would value. I have freely admitted I’m a cheap aunt in the past, but I’m willing to spend money on important things – just not junk! I’m happy to spend money on outings, or conducting science experiments (Diet coke + Mentos = awesome explosion!), but I want it to be on something important or memorable.
In their defense, the kids did not whine or beg – they simply asked. And since childhood is a while back for me, I have no idea if I was this bad or not!
All: How do you deal with it when children ask for things? What’s the best technique you’ve found for getting them to stop asking?
Crystal’s Comments: I usually tell them to buy it with their own money and laugh at the looks on their faces while they try to explain to me that they don’t have money…yeah, I would be a crappy mom…
The following is a guest post from My Canuck Buck - a lady paying closer attention to her bucks now. Please check her out!
I’ll admit it. I’m a cheap (but proud!) Aunt.
I have a total of four nieces. They range in age from 4 to 11. I have helped the eldest one clean out the family basement a few times, and as such, been able to help her get rid of a lot of toys she has outgrown. The majority of these have gone to charity, but I have pulled some aside for my youngest niece. Since the children are from different sides of the family, this wouldn’t be a “natural” progression of toys, just something I’ve managed to arrange.
My youngest niece adores the toys I got her. There’s a bunny in a tutu, an awesome castle that lights up, a dragon, and some other toys that go with the castle. She hasn’t even seemed to notice the large chunk of plastic that has come out of the castle – it doesn’t interfere with her playing with it in any way. I supplemented with some yard sale toys, and now she’s got lots to play when she comes to visit (although her favourite thing to play with is still the cat!)
I’ve recently introduced a “new” toy into the mix – one I had when I was a child! It’s sort of a fashion designer toy (I still have the ugly 70’s fabrics to go with it!). My niece and I had lot of fun playing with it today – I even took some pictures to record her creations.
There are lots of benefits to hand me down toys:
- I’m keeping things out of the land fill.
- My eldest niece is learning the joy of giving.
- I’m saving money, which I can put towards better things for my niece – like shoes that light up and her college education.
I do give her new things for her birthday and Christmas (generally books), but for simply stocking the toy chest, second hand toys were definitely the way to go!
Have you ever given your children or someone else’s children second hand toys? How did it go?
Crystal’s Comments: I keep some coloring books and crayons around for child visitors…and a bunch of my favorite family friendly movies like Ice Age.
The following is a guest post from a true friend, Suba at Wealth Informatics. She is such an awesome blogger and a sincerely sweet person. Please check out her site for yourself – believe me, you will want to sign up for her RSS feed if nothing else. Her posts are so informative. I have been begging her to write for me regularly for more than a year now, lol. If you don’t know her in some way, I would highly suggest trying. I am a better person for knowing her.
February is National Parent Leadership Month, which highlights the role parents play in shaping the lives of their children. I personally feel that parents have the power and the responsibility to teach their kids to be good financial citizens.
What did my parents directly teach me about finance? Nothing.
First, a bit of a background about me. I came to the US less than 10 years ago. I grew up in India, in a middle class family (read monthly income : 200 USD). My parents, my grandparents, my sister, and I shared a one bedroom home. Both of us got an excellent education, new clothes when necessary, encouragement to pursue whatever hobby that interested us (as long as it didn’t affect our education), and the freedom to ask questions.
So even though my parents didn’t sit and talk money with us and teach us how to handle money, I learned a lot from them without even realizing it.
Even when I lived paycheck to paycheck for a couple of years after I started earning, I never got into debt. Now after getting a good handle on my finances, I realize why.
Growing up, my mother used to tell me a lot of stories. In one of the stories, she described a scene when the villain knew that he is going to lose very colorfully. Roughly translated it went something like – “Like a fish in a poisoned pond, like the wax near a hot flame; like a toad caught between the venomous jaws of a snake; the villain panicked and was as scared as a person in debt”.
By association, debt thus became this horrible, horrible situation in my mind. The image stuck with me; I never want to be a toad that is caught in between the jaws of a snake. I never want to be in debt.
I can still hear my mother’s voice in my head when I am tempted to buy something that I didn’t budget for. She would have repeated this line many, many times over the course of the 21 years I lived at home. She inadvertently made sure her daughter had a deep fear of debt.
My parents never said “no” when it came to education or learning a new skill. If I wanted to learn music, they made room for it in the budget. If I wanted frivolous toys on the other hand, I had to justify it. If I wanted to buy a new dress, I had to explain what was wrong with the ones I had. They made decisions constantly based on priorities. Their priorities and my priorities might not have matched , but I learned to value conscious decisions rather than just going with frugal decisions.
My parents never budgeted for charitable giving. But when my close friend couldn’t afford to pay for her education, my parents offered to pay for her books, exam fees and even her first semester of college. So even though I was not told to give to charity, I know first hand what impact that small help had on my friend. My friend, because of her education, is now much better off than she was growing up. I am proud to say that my parents had a part in that.
My mother handled most of our finances. We didn’t have credit cards or even debit cards, everything was cash. She used to collect every single receipt and enter it in a diary. When I was 18, I started getting a modest allowance. She asked me to record my spending, which of course as a “I know better than you” teenager, I never did. With 20-20 hindsight though, this is one skill I wish I learned from her. I didn’t have many expenses at the time and because I was living with my parents, I never experienced emotional spending. After being on my own for the first time, I succumbed to it. But after I saw the err in my ways, thanks to my mother, I had the foundation to bounce back pretty quickly.
I know a lot of parents get tired of kids asking questions. My father is a scientist. He was disappointed if we accepted anything without asking questions. I saw him work relentlessly day and night when he couldn’t find answer to a question. For him, self satisfaction is the death of science. Fortunately, that stuck with me and I expanded it beyond science. I know the day I stop asking questions, I will stop growing as a person. I sincerely hope I will be able to encourage this with my own children.
I am really, really thankful to my parents and my best friend for teaching me not to expect anything. My parents were poor growing up, they worked hard for every single penny. They never once expected to be given anything, and in turn, made us justify our wants. We didn’t have a cushy life, in fact, there were many times when life dealt them lemons. Never once did I see them sit and complain that it was unfair. I don’t have the mental strength of my parents, I have the victim mentality, but thinking about them and what they would do in my situation is my pick-me-up.
This goes hand in hand with entitlement. My parents were always grateful for what they had and they made sure to tell us the sacrifices their parents made to bring them to where they are.
A Very Solid Foundation
More than anything, they provided a solid education, support, and a moral foundation that helped me realize that hard work and smart decisions will take you where you want to go.
They didn’t teach me about money. I never learnt anything about investing or real estate. We never had a lot of money to talk about expensive buying decisions. But they showed me by example, that if I wanted something, I have to work for it.
Whatever I am today is because of them. As an adult I feel that the choices I make today are based on the principles and values I gained as a child and young adult. Me and my sister were given the ability to make our own decisions, good or bad, and learn from them. But we could make our decisions with confidence only because they gave us a good foundation on which we can build our lives. I understand I am very fortunate and I am forever grateful for that.
What was your story growing up? How did it affect how you handle money today? Do our parents’ money decisions define us?
Crystal’s Comments: This explains why I am so much more spoiled than Suba. I do have an inherent sense of entitlement that I have been trying to suppress since no one is entitled to anything. Unless the term “I deserve” is followed by “whatever I work for”, then I cringe. I have caught myself “deserving” many things in my life and popped myself on the back of the head for it. I deserve nothing other than what I earn through my actions and my work eithic. I will just keep repeating that to myself over and over again…
The following is a guest post about saving money on baby formula by Mike Collins from SavingMoneyToday.net. Check out his new site at BabyStuffGuide.com, which is dedicated to helping new parents make smart decisions. Thanks Mike for the family post!
New parents are usually shocked at how much their little one costs, and I’m not just talking about hospital bills. Clothes, diapers, bedding, strollers, toys…the list goes on and on. And if you don’t want to breastfeed (or are unable to), then you can expect to spend a small fortune on baby formula.
Pediatricians recommend that babies stay on formula until they are a year old and then they can switch over to whole milk. That’s twelve months in which your new baby will be devouring baby formula at an alarming rate. With that in mind, here are some tips for saving money on baby formula.
Saving Money on Baby Formula Tips
Stick with powder. I know the pre-mixed, ready to drink formula is more convenient but you’ll pay big time for that. If you use powdered formula which has to be mixed with water you can slash your baby formula bills by as much as 50%.
Use generic formula. Baby formula is one of the most closely regulated food items in the US. The FDA has strict guidelines about what can go into baby formula and all brands have to include minimum nutritional requirements. In other words, the generic formula is just as good as the brand name. And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper.
Shop around. Comparing prices from one chain to another can save you money, but you should also compare prices from stores within the same chain. For example, check out different Babies R Us locations and you’ll see different prices in their “commodities” aisle. Why? Because formula and diapers are often loss leaders (that’s why they’re almost always located in the back of the store) intended to get you in the door where you’ll spend more money. To ensure they’re offering a good deal, each store independently sets the price for each item based on nearby competition. So naturally prices can vary from one location to another.
Ask your pediatrician for free samples. Baby formula manufacturers are only too happy to supply pediatricians and hospitals with free samples knowing that if they get you hooked on their brand early they’ll have a paying customer for a full year.
Skip the toddler formula. Most pediatricians agree that your baby will be ready to switch from formula to whole milk at one year of age. Toddler formula supposedly has added calcium, iron, and vitamins, but by the time your little one is a year old he should be getting most of his nutrition from solid foods, not formula. If you ask me toddler formula is just a way for manufacturers to keep you as a customer for a longer period of time. Completely unnecessary.
Buy from Amazon. Amazon offers a wide variety of formulas for 10% to 15% cheaper than you’ll find on store shelves. Plus if you spend at least $25 you get free shipping! And if you sign up for their free Amazon Mom membership program (dads are welcome too!) you can get free 2-day shipping plus you’ll save up to 30% on items like diapers, wipes, and baby formula.
Any other tips to save money on baby food?
This is a guest post from Penny Saver of The Saved Quarter. Penny is a frugal mom, making the most of meager means, saving her quarters to save a quarter of her income. This post is part of the Yakezie blog swap. Feel free to check out my post at The Saved Quarter today too!
For too many years, money ran through my fingers like water. Giving little thought to the long-term, I made unwise financial choices. When the economic downturn hit our family in 2009, it was a stern wake up call. I desperately want to stop the cycle of overspending, overdrafts, and arguing about money that was the norm in my childhood home and was too quickly becoming the norm in my own home.
Like most parents, my husband and I want our children to have a happy childhood and grow up to be financially responsible adults, but we were not positive role models of the right way to manage money. After a loud argument over another overdrawn bank statement, it became glaringly apparent that our choices had to change if we want them to grow up happy and with good money habits.
Making Choices, Making Changes
I made the decision to save a quarter of our income so we could have an emergency fund. It sounded crazy when I proposed the idea to my husband, but he was on board.
I moved to a cash envelope budget, and when the cash was gone, the spending was done. It wasn’t easy to change my spending habits, but I cut every conceivable extra and scouted out free ways to meet our needs. We swallowed our pride and went on food stamps. (We dropped them this February.) We planned a $100 holiday, spending just $100 on Christmas gifts for everyone on our list.
My main motivators and biggest (and cutest!) cheerleaders, my two kids, excitedly helped me find spare change on the ground and take in recycling. They accompanied me babysitting and helped to count coins to add to the tally. We kept a thermometer chart on the wall and my five-year-old son was excited to help me color it when we added to our savings.
We’ve had unexpected expenses and have sacrificed to save, but having everyone working together has helped me to maintain motivation. It definitely hasn’t been easy, but I met my goal in December and we celebrated as a family! Ideas from the many personal finance books I’ve read have rubbed off on me, and I’ve rubbed off on my son. If you ask him, “what’s money for?”he’ll tell you that money is to manage first, save second, and spend third. It took me more than 30 years to understand that!
My kids have been the reason for me to finally take responsibility for my finances, and I finally feel like I’m doing right by them as the positive role model they deserve. I hope that my effort now motivates them to be financially responsible for their entire lives.
Other Yakezie Blog Swap Posts
(I stole the list from Kevin at Thousandaire who was our fearless leader for this swap!)
The following is a guest post from Shane- the Owner, Editor, and Writer at Beating Broke - a personal finance blog that chronicles the journey of beating the condition we call broke by breaking the habits that we’ve formed around our money and creating healthy money habits to replace them.
My Childhood and Family Finances
Growing up, I remember seeing my parents balancing their checkbooks. I remember watching them write the checks for groceries, gas, and a number of other things. One thing that I don’t really remember is ever being involved in the finances of the family.
I can understand why my parents did that. They probably never really thought about it. After all, I didn’t have a job, so I brought no income in. I didn’t really have any direct expenses, so I sent no money out. And my parents provided room and board.
Now that I have kids of my own, I understand even more why I wasn’t involved. As a parent, it’s very easy to think of your children as your wards. You provide for them. As long as they are being provided for, what need do they have to know anything of the family finances?
As my children get older, I realize that my parents were wrong. And I would be wrong too if I followed suit.
My Children and Family Finances
From the moment that our children are born, they look to us as their role models. They learn to eat, talk, and walk by learning from our example. There is very little that our children do not learn from us before they reach school age.
When they reach school age, some of that is lessened as they begin to learn how to read, do math, and all the other fun subjects at school. But, we are still their role models. If we want them to have a happy and fulfilling life, it’s our responsibility to continue to teach them how to do so.
And, if you’re reading this, you’ll agree that learning to handle your personal finances is a factor in leading that happy and fulfilling life. For the health and well-being of our children we need to teach them how to handle their finances. We need to teach them how to complete a simple budget. We need to teach them what a credit score is. And there is no better way to do that than to involve them as much as possible in the family finances.
Obviously, certain things are going to be a little more age appropriate than others. My 5-year old isn’t likely to sit through a half hour of budgeting. And even if he did, he’s unlikely to understand most of it. And he certainly isn’t likely to understand anything I tell him about his credit score. But, broken down into some extreme minimalist examples, he’s likely to begin picking up some of the principles.
How, then, do we involve our children?
How I Involve My Kids in Family Finances
Explain why you do what you do. They don’t have to sit through the entire budget, but sit them down and explain that you are going to do the budget for the family.
You’ll likely get their favorite question. Why? Which, as it happens, is the best possible segue into the short explanation of why you budget – because it lets us know how much money we made this month, and allows us to plan where we want to spend it so that we get all the bills paid and are able to save for other things. And, if they walk away satisfied at that point, that’s ok.
As they get older, they’ll start asking more questions and you can explain more of it too them. At some point, they’ll be able to understand it well enough to sit with you while you do it and can begin to learn how it works.
Show them what you do. My kids help my wife sort through coupons and clip coupons all the time. When they started helping, it was just because they were excited to be allowed to assist. Now, after having done it for quite a while, they’ve also picked up on how we use those coupons and will even ask to make sure we’re using them when we go shopping. By just letting them help cut and sort the coupons, they’ve picked up on the basic principle of why we coupon.
Involving them in what we do, whether it be finances, cooking, cleaning, or even hobbies (I get lots of help gardening), can be an effective way to teach (without actively teaching) our children how to do things. They’ll learn how to do things for themselves and are more likely to grow up to be healthy individuals who are capable of doing for themselves with minimal outside assistance.
Try It Out
We’ve all gotten way too used to having teachers do the teaching, and then we wonder why our children don’t know how to make a budget, cook dinner, or grow tomatoes. I’m amazed every day with my children’s aptitude and ability to pick things up and run with them. Except scissors, of course!
Give it a try. Involve your children and see what you can teach them without even trying!
Crystal’s Comments: I don’t remember being involved directly with my family finances, but I do remember my mother teaching me how to write a check and balance a checkbook when I was 8 or so. I also remember both of my parents explaining to me why we bought generics and how to save money on less important stuff so you can put away cash for a more important goal like retirement. We talked about general topics like savings, prioritization, stocks, CD’s, etc. While I still may not know exact details, I know they are better than okay.
That foundation shaped my views on my household finances now. My mom recently said that she has no idea where I inherited my love for budgets (she hates them), but she knows exactly how I learned how to manage money as a tool.
How involved were you in your family’s finances? Do you involve your children?
I was inspired by this article to give a proper shout out to my parents. Thank you Mom and Dad for everything you taught me from as far back as I can remember. You are the reason I love personal finance and have never had to deal with high interest debt.
Okay, no more mushy stuff, I promise. The article above has a great 15 item list, but I really honed in on these points:
- Only spend what you earn.
- Only allow yourself to spend 50% of that.
- Guide and advise but don’t dictate your kids’ spending.
- At some point, cut your kids off.
I’d also like to add these specific suggestions since they either helped me or people I know:
- Help your kids open a banking account…having my own account spurred me to save.
- Teach your kids how to balance a checkbook and what those numbers mean.
- Have fun going over compound interest…I loved learning what my money could do.
- Explain debt’s consequences…this works best if they already know about compound interest.
- Introduce investment ideas…my mom went over CDs with me when I was 10. They help teach patience too.
- Quickly highlight what credit scores are and what they’re good for.
I know my parents taught me way more than what’s listed above, but I honestly don’t think there’s enough memory space for all of it. What big points did I miss? Do you disagree with any of the points above?