Family · Frugal Life · Homemade · Money Helps · Parenting

What I have learned about living a sweet and frugal life on ONE income

“How do you do it!?”  is a question I have been asked multiple times;  “How do you raise your family on only one income!?!?”

I never really know how to respond to this question.  Honestly, living on one income is all I’ve ever known.  My oldest was born one month after I graduated from college and I chose to immediately become a stay at home mom.

My husband is a good and hard worker, but he is also a blue collar worker and he does not earn a large paycheck.  We have had ups and downs and I have had to learn to change from a natural SPENDER to a SAVER.  It has not always been easy, but I have learned a few things along the way to make it more doable.

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As a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM), I do not earn a physical paycheck.  But, that does not mean that I don’t contribute to the family finances.  I consider it a large part of my job to stretch my husbands paycheck as far as I can.  A SAHMs paycheck comes in the form of saving money, budgeting smartly, spending less instead of more.  Taking this part of my job seriously has helped us to save more and live more contently.

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Make a Budget and Stick to it

At the end of every month we have a “Budget Meeting” where my husband and I sit down and discuss our finances and make our budget for the next month.  It is not always easy to stick to this budget (especially not at first).  But the more we kept working on it, the easier it has become and the more freedom we have felt.  Having this budget keeps my money in check AND gives me freedom to spend without feeling guilty.  We prefer to spend most of our money using cash, and that has helped us spend so much less!

Do NOT spend a lot of Money on Kids Clothes

When you are shopping for your kids clothes, do not pay a lot of money!  It’s hard to limit your spending with all these darling cute little outfits, but I promise it is a waste of money.  Kids grow out of clothes so very quickly, they spend most of their time playing outside getting their clothes dirty…..and honestly, most kids (especially younger kids) do not care how much their clothes cost or what brand they are wearing.  So why spend the big bucks on them???

I’ve learned a few little tricks to save money on kids clothes:

1.  Save Everything

If you are planning on having more children, save all of your kids clothes.  That way when the next child comes you will already have plenty of clothing that you can use again.  I organized all my children’s old clothes into boxes (diaper boxes work great for this!) or Tupperware bins (I can usually find these for pretty cheap at Walmart) and then I labeled them by the age and gender of the clothing, for easy access to them later.

2.  When at all Possible buy USED!

There are a lot of great options available right now for parents to be able to buy good quality used children’s clothing.  My favorite option is a local children’s consignment store or an online consignment store like thredup.  Check to see if you have one in your area and stop it regularly.  Some days I leave without buying anything, but other days I leave with a bag full of like-new name brand items.

A few other options are thrift stores, garage sales, and ebay.  All of these are great resources, especially if you check them often.

3.  Shop off Season

In the spring you can find winter clothes on a huge discount and in the fall summer clothes has a big discount.  Buy a size up from what your child is wearing currently and save it for them to wear the next year.

4.  Sell clothes you will not need anymore

If you aren’t planning on having any other children and you have clothes that they have grown out of, SELL these items.  They can be sold on Facebook marketplace, the local consignment store or at a garage sale.  If you are going to get rid of them anyways you might as well make a few bucks right!?!

5.  Utilize discount stores such as Ross and TJ Maxx

I have found some great deals on brand new clothes for good prices at both of these stores.

Meal Plan!

Every week on Sundays you will find me with my pen and paper.  This is the day I plan all our breakfasts, snacks and dinners for the week.  Lunches are more of a loose plan and I just try to have sandwich fixings on hand at all times.

Having a meal plan helps stop the temptation to buy fast food or go out to a restaurant to eat.  When making your weekly Meal Plan look through ads at your local grocery stores to see what the stores have on sale.  Try to plan your meal plan around those sales.  It takes time, but it saves a lot of money.  You know the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  Make a plan!

Cook from Scratch

Cook from scratch as often as possible.  I still throw a frozen lasagna into the oven occasionally, but I have learned that the more I cook from scratch the more money I will save.  Search Pinterest for ideas on snacks and meals to make.

Cooking in the kitchen can be a fun family activity.  My kids LOVE to help me in the kitchen!  We turn on some tunes, dance and laugh together while we cook.

Travel Frugally

I do think it is important to plan family travels.  It is a great way to make memories and build friendships.  But, you do not need a fancy expensive vacation to make memories.  Explore areas nearby for your family vacation.  Become tourists in your own area. Go camping at a nearby National Park, spend a couple of nights at a hotel for a “Staycation”, or explore a few local museums.  Join Groupon and look for deals that you can use as a family.  Your town just might be more interesting than you originally thought, and your kids will appreciate the extra time spent together.

Consult Pinterest cautiously

As a mom Pinterest is my go-to resource for finding kid activities and recipes.  However, if you are trying to save money you should view Pinterest cautiously.  It is far to easy to get swept away with the fancy decor and lavish birthday parties.  These are fun, and I do not put down anyone who likes to go a little over the top for their children, but for those of us who are trying to save a few bucks it is not always the best route.  Enjoy your time browsing Pinterest, but be careful not to get swept away in the pins that will end up only costing you more money.

The best things in life are actually free

Sometimes it’s hard to see others going on exotic vacations and buying fancy new vehicles.  But, I have learned that the best things in life are actually free.  Try to find joy and contentment in the simple things in your life.  Going on a family bike ride, dancing in the kitchen, and snuggling with my kids while reading books are all moments that I will treasure forever.  No amount of money is worth more than these quiet times with my children.  When we learn to find joy in these special free moments (something I am constantly working on) those lavish vacations won’t seem near as tempting.

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You might be interested in these other articles:

Fun Birthday Traditions for Small Budgets

My Story: The nightmare experience that changed me from Spender to Saver

Budgeting for Beginners: FAQ

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Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Recipes

Soft French Bread Recipe

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This french bread is one of my favorite things to make.  My friend gave it to me a few years ago.  I don’t have a great track record with homemade bread so I was a little apprehensive the first time I tried it.  But, it turned out so good and instantly became a family favorite!  It is soft and light and tastes perfect as a side for soup or pasta.

Soft French Bread Recipe

2 1/2 cups warm water

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. yeast

3 Tbsp. canola oil

1 tsp. salt

5 1/2 cups flour

Mix the water, sugar and yeast together.  Let it stand for 10 minutes until yeast is dissolved.  It will be frothy and bubbly.

Add the rest of the ingredients.  Make sure to add the flour slowly.  You might need a little less or a little more.  I add a little flour and then mix for a minute and then add a little more until the dough looks right.  You will want it to pull away from the sides of the bowl when mixing and be slightly sticky.

Place the dough in a bowl and cover.  Let it rise for ten minutes and then gently punch the dough down in bowl.  Do this for two more times for a a total of 3 punch downs and 30 minutes of rising time.

Split dough in half and shape into two loaves.  Place them on a greased baking sheet.  I will usually freeze half the dough in a freezer bag to use for another dinner.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes.  Once it’s done cooking brush with butter to make the crust soft. Slice and serve.  ENJOY!

Finances · Good Ideas · Money Educatioin

The Envelope Money System: A Beginners Guide

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About a year ago I changed the way I was spending money.  I decided to quit using my debit card for purchases and try only using cash.  I’ll be honest, I did not think this change would make much of a difference.  I am a little bit prideful and a lot of stubborn and I really felt that I was strong enough to spend smartly with my debit card.

It only took one month of paying with cash to realize that I was so so wrong!  I couldn’t believe how quickly my wad of cash depleted.  It was a huge wake up call as I watched my cash fly out of the envelope in what felt like an instant.

Today, I am sharing exactly how I use the envelope system and a few of the tricks I have learned a long the way.

Some items I buy with cash and other things I buy using my Discover Card.  I rarely use my debit card.  Using my credit card on some purchases, actually EARNS me money!  Read all about it here: The one idea I disagree with Dave Ramsey on.

My husband and I have a budget meeting on the last Friday of every month.  We use these budget meetings to discuss how we did on our budget throughout the month, make a new budget for the next month and decide things we could do better or different.

This is also the perfect time to decide how much spending money we will both need over the month for our daily spending.  These categories change monthly, the most common categories are:  clothing, house expenses, pet food, children’s extra curricular activities, groceries, fun and other.

We also have an “other” category for any extra expenses that come up throughout the month.  We have NEVER had a month go by without something coming up that we forgot to budget for.  Always make sure you have an “other” envelope.

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Once we have our budgeted amount, I go to the bank, withdraw the amount of money we will need and start stuffing my envelopes.  You do not need anything fancy for your envelopes.  We use boring cheap white envelopes and just write the names of each category on them.  Put your budgeted cash in the correct envelope, and you’re done!

 

 

 

This money has to last me all month.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  I leave the envelopes at home for two reasons.  First, because my husband doesn’t like the idea of me walking around with a lot cash; and lastly because I am always tempted to spend the cash if it’s with me.

When I know I am going to the store to buy something I need, I simply take out the correct amount of cash from the envelope, no more and no less and go to the store.

Many times I even leave home all debit and credit cards.  This is my way to get rid of all temptation and to prevent any impulse shopping.  The amount of cash I put in my wallet is ALL I have to spend for that shopping trip so I have to really pay extra close attention to what I’m putting in my shopping cart (this is so hard sometimes!).

I am fairly loose with the envelopes and will occasionally switch some of the cash around in the envelopes mid-month.  It’s hard to always know exactly how much we will need for each category.  I never spend over the amount of monthly budgeted cash.  That large sum is non negotiable and we have to spend carefully throughout the month to make sure it lasts us all four weeks.

Cash Envelopes will save you big bucks

I highly recommend everyone at least TRYING doing most of their spending with cash each month and see how much less you spend.  It truly opened my eyes to my spending habits!

You might also be interested in these related articles:

How to Recover your Budget From a day of Impulse Shopping

Budgeting for Beginners: FAQ

Overspending Triggers and Solutions

Easter · For the kids · Holidays · Parenting

How we are going to help our kids remember the TRUE meaning of Easter

I love Easter!  I love remembering Christ’s resurrection and what that means for me everyday.  It is a beautiful time to celebrate new life and new beginnings.

Although I love Easter I have actually never really been a huge fan of the Easter bunny and the materialism that comes with Easter.  The whole idea of a giant rabbit giving my kids presents just has never really resonated with me.

Because of this we are constantly looking for new ways to help our kids focus less on a rabbit and more on Christ.  We have tried a few different things in the past and nothing has really seemed to feel right to me.  I came up with a new idea this year that I am really looking forward to implementing with my kids.  Hopefully it can become our new Easter tradition!

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I found 7 scriptures from the Bible that discussed the different events that led up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I typed these scriptures up, printed them out and cut them into strips.

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I then numbered 7 Easter eggs and put the corresponding scripture in the right number of egg.  Starting on the Monday before Easter I will let my kids open up an egg each day and we will read the scripture that goes with it and talk about what was happening in that scripture.  On Sunday we will read about Christ appearing again and talk about what that means and how it blesses our lives each day.

I’m really excited for this activity.  I’m hoping it will help us keep our focus in the right place, yet also be a little fun for the kids as they open a new egg each day.

Easter Lesson for Kids

What traditions do you have for Easter?  Comment below with the ways you try to remember Christ during the Easter season?

Check out my other Easter posts:

Easter Egg Sun Catcher

Dollar Tree Easter Basket Ideas

Amazon · Fabulous DEALS Friday · Farmhouse · Uncategorized

Fabulous DEALS Friday: 10 Farmhouse Decor all under $20

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

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I moved into a new home about a year ago and I have been slowly trying to incorporate some farmhouse pieces.  I’ve included a little allowance for home decor in our monthly budget and have tried to stretch it as far as I can.  I found some great items on Amazon last night. Everything is under $20!  I purchased a few things and added a few others to my cart for next month!  🙂

 

  1.  Lanterns are very trendy right now.  I love the fresh look of this Farmhouse Lantern.  It is under $5 and has a lot of great reviews.
  2. I have been needing some new pillows and loved this Compass Pillowcover.  It is under $3 and is a great way to add a farmhouse style to your home.
  3. I have a few of these potted artificial plants around my house.  They are a great way to add a little color to any room.  I usually pull mine out around spring time and keep them out until fall.  I love them so much I might even buy a couple more!
  4. Adding a few French Stripe Dishtowels to your kitchen is an easy way to add some farmhouse charm.  This pack of dishtowels comes in a set of three and have a gorgeous soft nautical blue color.
  5. Nothing says farmhouse like a comfy throw blanket over a couch.  This farmhouse throw is beautiful and would go with a lot of different colors.
  6. I love galvanized pieces around my house.  This round galvanized serving tray would look beautiful for a coffee table centerpiece.
  7. Start your farmhouse look at the front door with this beautiful wreath.  At under $15 this is a great deal!
  8. I have these darling mini glass milk bottles sitting on my front entry table and I always get a lot of compliments on them.
  9. How fun would it be to have your very own personalized vintage farmhouse sign.  To get your name and personalized year on your own sign it will only cost you $16.99.  That’s a great deal!
  10. This rusted metal egg basket is sitting in my Amazon cart right now and I can’t wait until it gets here.  I love the wire metal basket look, but this one has the rusted metal giving even more of a farmhouse look.

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I hope you find something perfect!

Parenting · Uncategorized

15 FREE Things to do with your Kids over Spring Break

In a couple of weeks my kids will have their annual one week Spring Break from school.  I always look forward to this break.  It’s so fun to have a break from the school routine and spend time together, but sometimes the kids can get a little stir crazy.  Where I live winter lasts well into April so Spring Break isn’t always “springy.”  🙂  I started brainstorming some things the kids and I can do together while on Spring Break, and as usual all of them are FREE!

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1.  Board Games

I love to buy board games at our local thrift store for a couple of dollars a piece.  I love playing games, and it is so fun to play them with my kids.  Check out my article all about Our Favorite Budget Friendly Board Games.  These will entertain my kids for hours!

2.  ABC Day

Have an ABC Day!  Choose a letter and plan the day around that letter.  For the letter R we might eat Raisins and Red apples, play Ring around the Rosies or have a Race, and make an art project out of Ribbon (you get the idea).  My kids have a lot of fun trying to come up with different ideas based around the letter.  It’s also a great teaching tool for preschoolers.

3.  Picnic 

If it’s warm day go for a picnic at a park.  Bring a frisbee (or not) and spend time enjoying the sunshine and letting your kids play.  If it’s not warm enough just lay a blanket down on the living room floor and picnic at home.  Your kids will love getting to eat somewhere other than the kitchen.

4.  Crafts

You can find thousands of easy spring craft ideas on pinterest. Try to find a fun craft or two (especially using supplies you already have at home) and spend a day crafting with your kids.  Here’s a fun easter egg sun catcher, it’s so easy!

5.  Ice Cream in a Bag

No need for a fancy ice cream maker!  You can make it at home just by using a ziplock bag!  My kids love that they each get their own bag to customize the flavors and shake.  This is fun for ALL ages!  I’ve got the tutorial all written out for you:  Ice Cream in a Bag.

6.  Family Movie Night

Let your kids stay up late one night watching a movie together as a family.  Pop some popcorn and enjoy a few other treats.  Check out your local library for free movies you might not have seen yet.

7.  Library

A weekly visit to the public library has been apart of our routine for years.  It is a great way to encourage your kids to read!  The library offers so so many more free resources than just books.  Read all about the 10 Ways using the Public Library will Save you Money here!

8.  Bake a Treat

My kids all love to help in the kitchen.  It is also one of my favorite ways to bond together.  Find a new, easy recipe you can all try out together.  Our favorite is ALWAYS cookies!  You could also try homemade graham crackers or Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

9.  Nature Walk

If you are one of the lucky ones with a warm spring break, go outside on a nature walk.  Bring a sack with you and collect different rocks, pine needles and pine cones.  Once you get back home admire everyone’s collections.  You could also research what you found and turn it into a fun project.

10.  Start your garden

If you love to garden Spring Break is a great time to get those little seeds started indoors.  This is so fun to get the kids involved with.  Watching the little seeds sprout is so exciting for the kids (and me!).

11.  Friend Day

Plan a play date with a few of your kids friends.  Maybe invite a friend over for you too!  It’s always nice to get a little adult conversation.

12.  Spring Cleaning

This might not be your kids most favorite activity, but we always have a few items of Spring Cleaning I try to get done during Spring Break and my kids are lucky enough to get to help me with that.  😉  😉  It’s a great way to encourage them to help with chores and learn responsibility.

13.  Make Slime or Play Dough 

Slime is all the rage these days.  We have tried out a few recipes a couple and loved how easy it was.  There are many tutorials for it on pinterest.  If your kids aren’t interested in slime, make some play dough.  You can find our favorite play dough recipe here:  Our Favorite Play dough Recipe.

14.  Paint Rocks

Collect some rocks outside and bring them back home to paint them.  Paint a fun design on the rock, or paint an animal (we love turning ours into ladybugs).  So easy and fun!  We also love to heat the rocks and color them.  It’s a fun alternative!

15.  Science Experiment

Try out a fun science experiment.  Make a volcano with baking soda and vinegar or try out our favorite Magic Toothpick Experiment.

Frugal Spring Break

It does not need to cost any money to make special memories with your kids.  All they want is time and love.  I hope you have a fun and frugal Spring Break!

Crafts · Easter · Holidays · Parenting

Easter Egg Sun Catcher

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

I made the cutest Easter Egg Sun Catcher with my son the other day.  We have it hanging up in our window right now and I love seeing the bright colors of it every day.  This project is so easy and I just used items I already had around the house.  I LOVE when that happens!  The colors of the egg can easily be customized using any of your favorite colors.  I did this craft with my preschooler, but it would also be great for a toddler to help them practice fine motor skills!

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First, I gathered all of my supplies.  You will need:

  • Tissue Paper:  I just grabbed all my spring colors from the tissue paper I already had at home.  You can find some for cheap at the Dollar Tree.
  • Contact Paper:  One roll of contact paper will last a long time and is fun for laminating things by hand or other fun little craft projects.
  • Scissors
  • Paper Hole Punch
  • String, yarn, whatever you have on hand to hang the egg with

 

 

Cut squares out of your tissue paper.  I didn’t use very much from each color, it will just depend on how many and how big you are making your egg.

 

 

After you have a nice pile of tissue paper squares it’s time to get your contact paper ready.  I cut two pieces of contact paper both large enough for our egg.  Set one of the contact pieces aside and pull off the backing of the other piece and lay it sticky side up on the counter top.  My son then started placing the tissue paper all over the contact paper, making sure to overlap and fill all the holes.

 

 

Once you have your contact paper covered with the tissue paper you will need pull off the backing of your second sheet of contact paper.  Carefully lay the two contact sheets together with both sticky side on the tissue paper.

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I printed an egg template off my computer just from clip art.  I traced the egg onto the contact paper and then cut along the tracing.  Once the egg is cut out you can use your hole punch to poke a hole in the top of the egg.  Loop your string through the hole and your Easter Egg Sun Catcher is ready to hang in your window!

 

 

My son has a short attention span so he loves doing these quick and easy projects with me.  Now if only the snow would melt and then spring would really be here!

 

 

 

Easter Egg Sun Catcher

You might also like:

How we are going to help our kids remember the TRUE meaning of Easter

Dollar Tree Easter Basket Ideas

Easy St.Patrick’s Day Craft for Kids

Affiliate · Get Away Today · Travel

How we visited San Diego on a Budget

I am a Get Away Today partner and may receive commissions for Get Away Today vacations booked through links on my site (THANKS).  I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.  I was recommending Get Away Today to all my friends BEFORE becoming a partner, because they are that amazing.  🙂

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A couple of weeks ago I blogged all about our trip to Southern California.  We spent a couple of days in Anaheim and a couple days in San Diego.  You can find the blog detailing the Anaheim portion of the trip here: Our Disney Savings Plan: How we paid for our Disney Vacation while on a small budget.  Refer to my Disney post to read all the details about how we saved money on food, souvenirs and transportation while on this trip.  Today’s blog is all about our couple of days in San Diego.

Once we arrived in San Diego we checked into our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express San Diego Circle.  We loved this hotel.  It was a really good value.  It had a modern layout and design.  The kids always had the pool to themselves, and the room was the perfect size for our family of five.  It had two queen size beds and a couch that could be made into a bed.  It was nice to have a little elbow room while in the room.  We found the hotel on Get Away Today.  I am so in love with Get Away Today.  They offer the best discounts on any Southern California Vacation, and they are so easy to work with.  I used them a few years ago for a trip and knew that we wanted to use them again for this trip. Get Away Today is offering my readers an additional discount, I’ll share the coupon code at the end of the post!

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We had two full days in San Diego and wanted to spend one of those days at a beach. I researched San Diego beaches and came across Coronado Beach. It looked and sounded beautiful so we decided to spend our beach day there.  The parking was FREE, which is a huge bonus to me.  The beach was beautiful with soft golden sand and a great view.  We spent a Sunday there and were expecting large crowds, we were so pleasantly surprised when we found the beach quiet and we seemed to have our own little space all to ourselves.  The waves were calm enough for my school aged kids to swim in, they spent hours laughing and swimming in the waves.  Our favorite part of the beach were the sea shells.  When the tide went out around 2 in the afternoon we were able to find dozens of perfectly round beautiful sand dollars.  We had so much fun walking up and down the beach collecting our treasured sand dollars.  We ended up finding 53 perfect sand dollars in only about an hours time.  If you are looking for a great San Diego beach and love finding great shells go to Coronado Beach.

 

Our other day in San Diego was spent at Sea World.  This was a highlight of our trip. The park was so empty, we were able to walk right onto every ride, had great seats for all the shows and loved learning more about the beautiful sea animals.  Get Away Today offers 7 day Sea World tickets for a great price.  If you are wanting to spend a few days at Sea World be sure to buy those tickets from Get Away Today.  We only had time for one day though so we bought our tickets directly from Sea World’s website.  If you are only going to spend one day there then definitely buy them from their website, you won’t find a lower price anywhere else.

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My only regret about San Diego was that we didn’t spend more time there.  I wish we had planned a few extra days and I want to go back and visit again sometime.  It is a really beautiful city with so many activities.

If you are planning a Southern California vacation through Get Away Today feel free to use the coupon code:  SweetFrugal at checkout for an extra $10 off your vacation package.  Happy Frugal Travels!

Amazon · Money Educatioin · Parenting

Teaching Kids Smart Money Habits

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Teaching my kids wise money habits is so important to me as a parent.  If they can learn how to handle money, budget, to save and spend wisely while they are young they will be so much more successful as adults.  I would rather them make money mistakes with $5 rather than make the mistakes with $5,000.

We have used a few object lessons to help get the point across, but we also have developed a money system that has been very successful in our family!  There is more than one way to parent, these methods have worked for us, but they might not work for you. and that is ok!

A few years ago I read Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money by Rachel Cruze and Dave Ramsey.  This book is so well written and gives great advice for how to teach your children about handling money.  I highly recommend it to ALL parents.  Check it out from your local library or buy it on Amazon, either way, just read it!  I have used a lot of methods from this book, but there are a few things I have chosen to do differently.

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Allowance

I know, I know!  There are a lot of people who are strongly against giving kids an allowance.  I understand all of the reasons the anti-allowance crowd have.  I really do.  I get it!  None of us want our kids to grow up to be spoiled or entitled.  We all want our children to understand that in order to have money, you have to work for it.

So why then would I give my kids an allowance???

I believe, if done correctly, allowance can be an essential TOOL in helping kids learn how to spend wisely.  I received an allowance as a child….but, I was expected to buy my own clothes, make-up, shoes, extra curricular activities, outings with friends, etc.

I grew up to be very responsible with money.  I did not become spoiled, entitled or lazy.  I did not expect a free handout once I became an adult.  Instead I learned early in life how to budget and save and spend wisely.  Instead of asking my parents to buy me a brand new pair of name brand shoes and being disappointed when they told me it was to much money; I instead was given a set amount of money and I learned to decide for MYSELF that the name brand shoes were to much money and I would rather shop around for a better deal.  I am so grateful to my parents for helping me to learn this lesson.

Implementing Allowance

Once our kids turn eight years old they start receiving a small allowance of $5 a month.  We teach them to save 20% and tithe 10% to our church.  They can then use the rest of their money for spending.  They use it when they want to go to a movie or other activity with their friends, they use it for buying birthday presents for friends and family, and any other thing they want to save for and buy.

Once they reach age 13 this allowance amount will increase and they will then be expected to buy all of their own clothes.  My oldest is currently 13 and we have been using this system with her for a couple of months.  So far, so good!

I decided on her allowance by adding up how much money I spend on her clothing and activities a year (nerd alert!).  I divided that number by 12 (for 12 months), added a little bit of extra to help cover the amount she will save and tithe and I have come up with her monthly allowance.  She will be receiving $20 a month and will be responsible for budgeting that money to pay for everything she is required to buy herself.

I have been so proud watching my kids manage their allowance.  They save WELL more than the expected 20%, and have been so responsible with their money.  My oldest has learned to shop at discounted clothing stores; such as Ross, TJ Maxx, Uptown Cheapskate, etc.  Instead of complaining to ME when something costs to much, she gets to make that decision for herself.  I honestly wouldn’t parent any other way.

Teaching Money Habits

When our kids turn 8 and begin to receive an allowance we buy them a savings tin that we found on Amazon years ago.  I couldn’t find the exact savings banks that we bought for our kids, but I did find a similar version!

These tins have three separate slots for saving.  They make saving just a little more fun for the kids.  My kids love having their own key to lock their money in their personal bank, and it makes separating the money easy.   You do NOT need to spend money on savings banks though.  Feel free to set your kids up with three envelopes or three jars, anything that will store money will work!

 

 

The very first things our kids do after receiving their allowance is go get their savings bank and tithe 10% to our church, save at LEAST 20% for their future, such as college and a car.  I ry to pay them using change to make it easier to tithe and save.  If it’s time for their monthly $5 allowance then I will give them 4 one dollar bills and 4 quarters.  They know that two quarters go into their tithing bank, one dollar in their savings and the rest into spending.

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Lessons Learned

The lessons I have seen my kids learn since implementing these methods have been HUGE and absolutely PRICELESS.  A few of the things I have watched them learn are:

1. Their future is important to them

More often than not they save MUCH more than the required 20%.  They understand that they will be responsible for a lot of their future expenses and are very motivated to save for those moments.

2.  Some things are just not worth spending money on

Each of the kids have had moments in the store when they have fell in love with a toy.  I always remind them that they have their own money to spend and if they want to buy it they can.  So often they have expressed that that particular toy looks fun, but is just not worth spending their hard earned money on.  They choose wisely when they make purchases.

3.  The harder they work the more money they will have

My kids do not get paid for the majority of their household chores.  I do pay them a small amount for what we call “paid chores.”  A few months ago one of my kids was continually not getting completing her chore taking care of our chickens. (this is a chore she gets paid for). When this happens I don’t nag them, I just go outside and do it myself.  The end of the month came and one of my kids earned her full wages, the other child who had not been making her job a priority earned very little.  She was very disappointed by this, and the next month she was outside first thing every single day making sure she was getting her job done, she did not miss a single day that month.

4.  It feels good to give.

We teach our kids that paying a tithe to our church is a way to help and bless others who might not have much money.  My kids love to stuff their tithing bank full of money, they have mentioned to me that they want to help other people and would rather give them money than buy something at the store that will only be fun for a day.

Teach your kids wise money choices with these easy tips

These are just a few of the things that have worked for our family.  I have loved watching my kids make mistakes with money and then learn from those mistakes.  It has been amazing when they begin making smart money choices all on their own.

What are some methods that have worked in your family to teach your kids money smarts?  I am constantly trying to learn and improve in whatever ways I can.

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Crafts · For the kids · Parenting

5 FREE activities to do with Kids using items you already have at home

Winter is long in my area.  So very long.  The cabin fever comes quick and it is hard to keep the kids entertained and busy while cooped up indoors.

I’m all about finding easy ways to entertain kids at home.  ESPECIALLY with items I already have around the house.  If I can keep the kids entertained and happy without needing to spend money, I am a happy mom!

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1.  A Box and a few markers and scissors

That’s it.  Whenever you get a box–SAVE IT!  Large boxes are best, these can be a little hard to come by, so if you ever get one make sure to hold on to it!  We turn large boxes into secret hideouts, spaceships and cars.  We have used our “box car” to make our very own drive-in movie.  Decorate the box to look like a car and put some pillows in it and sit in it to watch a movie.  My kids love this!  Save your small boxes too, shoe boxes are really fun.  We like to turn the inside of a shoe box into a scene, it could be a mountain scene, a castle, a race track anything your kids are interested in will work!  Make your scene using construction paper, markers, glue and then your kids can use their toys to play inside of the box.  Once you’re done put the lid on it and save it for another day.  We love this!

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2.  Magazines and scissors

My kids love to cut out pictures in my magazines.  We store them in a container and my kids will get them out and make stories using the pictures.  We will glue these onto papers and make a story book out of it, or other times my kids will just play with the pictures like paper dolls.  Either way, this is something they really enjoy doing.

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3.  Play dough

There is no need to buy play dough.  It is so easy to make and kids love to help!  We love making both traditional play dough and peanut butter play dough.  We get out cookie cutters, butter knives and rolling pins to use for even more play dough fun.

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4.  A piece of wood and paint

My husband is a wood worker, so we always have extra junk wood around.  Sometimes I will pull out a junk piece of wood and a few of my craft paints for my preschooler to paint on.  He loves when I do this!  He likes painting a picture on paper, but the wood and craft paints entertains him for a long time and he is always so proud of it when he’s done.

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5.   Science Experiment

My kids love when we do science experiments.  I have a few favorites that we do quite often.  I shared one of these here:  Magic toothpick science experiment.  This experiment is so fun for the kids because the toothpick almost really does seem like magic.  The designs it makes are always different and so pretty and fun.

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What are your completely FREE activities to keep your kids entertained at home??  Share them with me in the comments!

 

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