Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Parenting

Teaching Kids to Help with Family Chores: Including free chore chart printable

Teaching my kids how to work is a huge priority for me.  In today’s world with busy schedules and so many kids focused on screens, it’s hard to find the right way to instill a hard work ethic.

I’ve tried so many different methods to try to encourage my kids to be hard workers.  Many of those methods have failed, but the method we are using right now has been going strong for 5 years.  That’s definitely a record in my house!  I don’t know if it is teaching them the hard work ethic I desire, but I know it has been teaching them a lot about household chores and so I am happy with it!

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My cleaning system is nothing fancy, SO un-fancy in fact that it probably shouldn’t even be called a “system”! 😉

My kids have 4 main household chores that they are responsible for each week.

Bedrooms

The kids’ bedrooms are expected to daily be kept clean and tidy, including making their bed each day.  This usually only takes 5 minutes each morning, sometimes more or less.  Once a week they are required to vacuum and clean their rooms.  I always check on Saturdays to make sure they did what was asked of them and to verify that they haven’t stuffed anything under the bed or in their closets.  😉  One of my printables includes our Bedroom Responsibilities chart.  This is hung up in each of my kids rooms so they can make sure the chores are completed correctly.

Dishes

We have three “Dish Duties” that we rotate each week between our three kids.  These duties are:  Load the Dishwasher, Sweep the Floor, and Wipe the Counters.  After our nightly dinner the family all cleans up the dishes together with the kids each helping with their specific assignment.

Household Chore

Each week my kids are assigned a Household Chore.  The Household Chore is usually centered around a room in the house; one that the entire family uses, so we all need to help keep it clean.  These chores are rotated each week through each of the kids.

Our current list of household chores are:

-Kitchen

-Bathroom

-Great Room

-Basement Family Room

-Your Choice

I include a Your Choice week so that the kids have one week where they can have a little control over the area they clean.  They really look forward to this week!  The Your Choice options are:

-Do the Laundry

-Wash the Walls

-Clean the Car

-Clean out the Refrigerator

-Wash the Windows

These household chores are rotated weekly between each child.  This way everyone gets an equal amount of turns with each chore.

Paid Chore

I assign my kids one paid chore each month.  (other paid chores are given when they request it).  Our paid chores revolve around taking care of our animals (six chickens, one dog and one cat).  They will ONLY get paid if the chore is completed.  These chores are rotated monthly and the kids are paid monthly.

You can read my article Teaching Kids Smart Money Habits to learn more about my views on giving kids an allowance.

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This is how we do chores in our house.  Are my kids perfect?  No way!  Am I perfect?  Not even close!  But, we are trying.  And for now, this is what has been working for us.

I have turned my Family Chore Chart and Chore Responsibilities into free printables for you!  These are the exact charts we use!  You can get them emailed to you by following this link:  Free Chores for Kids Printables.

How to Use Chore Chart Printables

I highly suggest laminating the Family Chore Chart after printing it.  Or, you can just stick it in a page protector like I do!  😉  This way I can use a dry erase marker to write down all of the chores and adjust them each week.

You will want to cut the Clean Chores printables into sections and laminate each section.  This is obviously not necessary, but I have found it helps to keep the instructions more durable with my kids use.

I keep the chore instructions hung up in a bag for my kids to pull out of when it is their turn for that particular chore.

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I truly believe one of the greatest gifts we can give a child is teaching them how to work.  They WILL look back one day and thank you for giving them this gift.  I whined and yelled and cried and complained and told my parents they were the meanest in the world…..but I grew up….and I realized just how GRATEFUL I am that they taught me how to work!

The saying says there is more than one way to train a horse!  That falls true with kids too!  This is what works for my kids, you might find something different that works for your family.  All that matters is that we are TRYING.  Keep trying mamas!  We got this!

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Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Homemade · Parenting · Recipes

A Month of After School Snacks

I try to have an after school snack ready for my kids each day when they get home from school each day.  I’m not perfect at this, but I try!

The after school snack is a time for my kids to sit down, refill their bellies, and talk to ME!  😉

I will admit, a big reason I make the after school snack a priority is for selfish reasons.  My goal is that as they eat their snack they will tell me all the highs and lows of their day.  It doesn’t always happen this way, but sometimes I see success.  There have been amazing days when they have sat down and poured their hearts out to me over the snack.  And those days make it all worthwhile!

The after school snack is a slightly chaotic time in our household, but one I have come to cherish and look forward to.

I spent the past month taking a daily picture of our after school snacks.  I am NO “pinterest mom.”   My parenting thrives on simple and cheap.  If you are looking for the healthiest, fanciest snacks…..this is NOT that type of blog.  If you are looking for a few easy snack ideas, keep reading, you might find one here!

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Week 1

Day 1:  Peanut butter cookie, raisins

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Day 2:  Cinnamon sugar tortilla, grapes

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Day 3:  Whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffin, strawberries

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Day 4:  Bagel with cream cheese, strawberries

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Day 5:  Applesauce

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Week 2

Day 1:  Peanut butter cookie, dried apples

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Day 2:  Peanut butter crackers for running errands

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Day 3:  String cheese, orange

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Day 4:  Animal crackers, celery with peanut butter

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Day 5:  Fruit leather and dried apples

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Week 3

Day 1:  Animal crackers, grapes for running errands

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Day 2:  Homemade Graham Crackers, grapes

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Day 3:  Apple slices with peanut butter and chocolate chips (I use this mandoline slicer for the apples)

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Day 4:  Monster Rice Krispie Treats

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Day 5:  Frozen Blueberries

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Week 4

Day 1:  Oil popped popcorn

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Day 2:  Muffin Tin Snack of carrots, animal crackers, cheerios, raisins and string cheese

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Day 3:  Pumpkin muffin and raisins

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Day 4:  String cheese and carrots

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Day 5:  Cheerios and raisins

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It was actually so fun to look back and see all of the different snacks we had over the past month!  I hope that you found them helpful!

What are some of your favorite after school snacks?  Share with me in the comments, I’m always needing new ideas!

Birthday · Family · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Parenting

LEGO Birthday Party for Under $20

We had an exciting birthday at our house recently!  My son turned six years old!.  It didn’t take him long to decide that he wanted a LEGO themed birthday party with all of his friends..  He loves all things LEGO and I was excited to make this party all come together.

I wanted to give him a special birthday, but I also wanted to spend the LEAST amount of money as possible.  And, I DID it!  The party was a huge success, and I spent LESS than $20!  I’ll break down everything that I did and each of the expenses.

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The Invitations:  $0

Sticking with the theme we (obviously) wanted LEGO themed invitations, and to save money I committed to only using supplies I already had at home.

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The invites were made out of red and orange card stock cut into a rectangle.  I cut out six circles per card in matching colors to glue to the front.  I had a little foam eraser that wasn’t being used so I cut a small circle from that and glued it under each circle.  This helped the circles look a little more 3D and resemble a LEGO design.

Inside the LEGO invite was just a simple typed up paper with all of the party info.  It only took me a few minutes to whip it up on my computer!

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My son adored these invitations, and didn’t cost me any money Big win!

The Decorations:  $4

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I tried to go fairly simple on the decorations (these are 6 year old boys we are talking about….I don’t think they even noticed much of the decor!).

First stop is ALWAYS The Dollar Tree!  While there I bought a pack of balloons and a couple rolls of streamers.  I tried to focus on the classic LEGO colors of red, yellow, green and blue. I used these items to decorate throughout the house.

For the table center piece I grabbed a few of our mason jars from our storage room and filled them with some LEGOs from our collections.  These also ended up being so fun for the kids to build with while they were waiting for me to serve the cake.

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The total for decorations came to only $4!

The Food:  $6

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To cut costs on food, I decided to have cake the only food served at the party.  I made the cake from scratch, spent $2 on the frosting, and $3 for the Oreos used on top.

I had big goals of decorating the cake to look like a giant LEGO.  Truthfully, it didn’t turn out great…..but, my son thought it was the coolest cake ever, and that’s all that matters!

The cake was so simple to make.  I cooked the batter in a 9×13 pan and then frosted it with blue frosting.  I also frosted the Oreos with the same frosting and placed them on top so that it would resemble a LEGO.  My kids told me that the cake needed the word LEGO on the Oreos, so I used a toothpick to include write out the word.

These darling LEGO themed plates were also found at The Dollar Tree (of course!).  I had plastic cups and forks already at home so I used them on the table as well. I decided instead of buying a plastic tablecloth (like I usually do), that I would just use a fabric tablecloth that I already owned!  It worked out perfect!

Out of all the categories, I spent the most money on food.  The total came to $6.

The Games:  $2

Honestly, I don’t love planning birthday party games.  It always feels so stressful to me.  I decided to go a little more simple and stress free this year, and it seemed to work!  A plus side is simple is that also usually means less money (and I always like spending less!)!

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We started with “Pin the Head on the LEGO Man.”  It was a huge hit!  The kids loved getting to choose from the variety of fun faces.  I found the printable here.

Another fun game was “Don’t Eat Pete.”  The favorite part was getting to be the one to go out of the room and try not to eat Pete.  We made sure everyone had a turn (or two!) and it was so fun.  I found this printable here.

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Another fun (and easy) game was the LEGO treasure hunt.  I hid a bunch of our LEGOs around our yard.  The kids all ran around trying to find as many as they could.  (kindof like an easter egg LEGO hunt! 😉 )

Once we found all of the LEGOs I split the kids into two teams for a LEGO on the spoon relay race!  Each team was given a bucket of LEGOs and a spoon.  They had to walk with a LEGO on their spoon across the yard a little ways and drop their LEGO into another bucket.  The first team to successfully bring all of their LEGOs across wins!  It was so fun watching all those little boys trying to run fast AND balance their LEGO!

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Our last game was probably the favorite!  I spray painted two boxes (I bought the spray paint for $2), and then cut two holes in each box.  The kids had to stand at some tape I put on the ground and try to throw a ball into one of the holes.  This was a little hard for most of the kids, which created a fun challenge.  They wanted to play this game for a few rounds to try to get the ball in each of the holes.

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I have decided simple really is the best way to go!  I was A LOT less stressed this time and I only spent a total of $2 for all of the games!

The Party Favors:  $5

I really struggled trying to come up with a cute yet frugal LEGO themed party favor.  I was THRILLED when I found these cute little LEGO boxes at The Dollar Tree.  They came in a pack of 4 for $1, so I bought 2 packs.  I also bought three packs of Starbursts for $1 each.

I filled each of the boxes with a few pieces of Starbursts candy and the kids LOVED them!  I thought the candy would be the hit, but the favorite was definitely having their very own little box. It ended up being the PERFECT favor, and I only spent $5!

The Total:  $17

In total I spent $17!  I was so thrilled that I was able to pull this party off without having to spent a lot of money.

I’ve realized that kids REALLY don’t care how extravagant the party is….all my son wanted was to have a few friends over, blow out candles on his birthday cake, and open a few presents.

He didn’t notice that the party was all done on a very small budget.  All he noticed was that his family and friends were taking the time to show him some love.  And you know what….THAT is ALL that matters!

Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Parenting · Side Hustle

When FAMILY becomes more important than the SIDE HUSTLE

This week I walked away from a really great side hustle.

This was not an easy decision to make.  Not at all.

Did I enjoy it?  YES!

Did it earn me good money?  ABSOLUTELY!

Do we need the money? We can survive happily without it, but the money definitely HELPED!

Then WHY did I quit????

Let me back track for a bit.

Four years ago my husband lost his job.  It was a devastating, punch in the gut, slap in the face, completely unexpected thing to happen.  (This is a whole other story for a different day, but the experience shook me.)  I spiraled into a depression and struggled every day to get out of bed.  I was constantly worried.  Worried about our future and about our present.  Worried about how we were going to raise three kids on…..virtually nothing at the time.  This experience has shaped a lot of my views on money that I have today.

Long story short, after 7 long months my husband was able to find another job (and even a better job).  This released a huge burden from my shoulders, but I still felt guarded and uncertain.  (I even tried keeping good news from everyone I knew because I was worried about letting that guard down and didn’t want to celebrate).

I decided then and there that I was not going to leave our financial well being in the fate of someone elses hands.  I was going to begin actively contributing to the family finances.

I am a stay at home mom, and that has always been my first and most important job.  I take this job very seriously and knew I needed to keep it as a priority.

That was when I settled on teaching piano lessons out of my home.  Now, I KNOW that this little side hustle really wasn’t going to make a HUGE impact on our financial situation.  But, in my fragile worried little mind, it was calming to me to at least be doing SOMETHING to make a little money.

I started out small and only accepted a few students.  I found that I LOVED it!  I loved teaching and spending time with my students.  I also found that I loved earning money; the paycheck was small, but after over a decade of not earning money it felt really good to be having a little personal income.  I began accepting more students and grew my waiting list.

This went on for three years and I was ecstatic.  I was making money!  I was contributing to our family finances!  I had my own business!  YET, I was STILL doing what I loved most and being a SAHM.  It really felt like the perfect opportunity for me.

And it was perfect…until it just wasn’t anymore.

During my third and final year teaching piano I began to struggle finding the right balance between my job as a full time mom, and my side hustle as a piano teacher.  My kids were spending more and more time watching TV and arguing with each other (I would talk to my kids about this again and again, but it was difficult to enforce while I was with a student), and I began to feel myself slipping.  I didn’t like that I wasn’t giving 120% to my job as a SAHM anymore.  I didn’t like that I wasn’t being there for my kids in those moments I NEEDED to be there.  I knew at this point that I was going to have to give something up; I was going to have to learn to be okay with not being the mom I wanted to be, or I needed give up my piano teaching side hustle.

I chose to give up the side hustle.

Now, I am all for side hustles.  I am all for making more money.  I am all for teaching your kids responsibility and independence from you.  I just realized that the piano teaching wasn’t the right fit for ME personally.

We all have our own ideas of our lives and the type of person who we want to be….and neither way is right or wrong.  My kids spend a lot of time at school, and at friends houses and at extra curricular activities and I decided that during those few precious hours when they were at home and awake I wanted to be present for THEM.  I wanted to be able to drive them to the places they needed to be, referee their fighting, and spend quality time together.

This doesn’t mean I am giving up the side hustle.  I still feel very strongly that I would like to contribute to our family finances.  It really helps calm my anxiety to make a little bit of money.  I just need to find a better fit for me and for my family.  Something during the day hours when the kids are at school, or the night hours when they are asleep.

 

I talk a lot about saving money and making money and sacrificing to have more money.  And I agree with all of that 100%.  However, never lose focus on the things that matter MOST.  What matters most will be different to every person. Spend wisely.  Budget.  Side hustle.  Do what you need to do by all means.  But, never do it at the sacrifice of the relationships that are very most important to you.  Money comes and go.  Things wear out and break.  Relationships are what matters.  I will NEVER get back these years with my kids.  They are growing (to to fast!) and before I know it I will have all the time in the world to work as hard as I want.  But.  For now, for me.  I am choosing my kids and my family over the side hustle…..and I know I will never regret it.

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for free · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Parenting

50 FREE activities to do with your kids over the Summer Break

Summer break is just around the corner.  I have been looking forward to summer for weeks!  I love having my school aged kids home with me and I always look forward to a more relaxed schedule full of fun family activities.  I talked a little more about summer in my post:  Our Summer Plans: Keeping the kids Entertained and Mom Sane, this post includes how I plan on managing screen time and a couple of our favorite traditions.

Today I am sharing 50 ideas for a FREE and fun summer with your kids.  There are so many free activities to take part of during the summer months.  I love taking advantage of all of them!

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Outside

  1.  Picnic at Park
  2. Play Frisbee
  3. Run through the Sprinkler
  4. “Paint” with Water
  5. Go on a Walk
  6. Picnic in Backyard
  7. Play hopscotch/Sidewalk Chalk
  8. Draw on Sidewalk with ice cubes
  9. Go on a Bike ride
  10. Nature Scavenger Hunt
  11. Go on a hike
  12. Plant a garden
  13. Jump on the Trampoline with water balloons
  14. Play Catch
  15. Blow Bubbles
  16. Go Geocaching
  17. Play night games with flashlights
  18. Catch bugs
  19. Go Stargazing
  20. Make a Fairy Garden
  21. Wash the Car
  22. Learn to jump rope
  23. Make an obstacle course
  24. Set up a Lemonade Stand
  25. Make a Nature Journal

Indoors

  1.  Make Play dough
  2. Do a science experiment
  3. Bake cookies
  4. Make up a play
  5. Build a fort
  6. Make a dream catcher
  7. Make Slime
  8. Play Hide-and-Seek or Sardines
  9. Paint Rocks
  10. Write letters to friends or family
  11. Play board games or card games
  12. Make a summer scrapbook
  13. Play charades
  14. Make an indoor treasure hunt
  15. Go to the library
  16. Sing Karaoke (find free songs on you tube)
  17. Fold Origami
  18. Put on a puppet show
  19. Play Dress-Up
  20. Have a dance party
  21. Put together a puzzle
  22. Make homemade ice cream
  23. Dress Fancy and have a DIY photo shoot
  24. Learn a few magic tricks and put on a show
  25. Make paper airplanes

 

What are some of your favorite free activities for summer time with your kids?

Finances · For the kids · Frugal Life · Money Educatioin · Parenting

Money Lessons for Kids: The night we taught our kids the TRUTH about money

I have been wanting to give our kids a really good object lesson about how to handle money.  We talk about this topic constantly, and we give them chores to help them learn how to save and spend wisely, you can read all about that here:  Teaching Kids Smart Money Habits; but I just kept wanting to find something that would make a big impact on them and the real adult world.  I began brainstorming ideas and came up with a game plan that ended up having a greater impact than I ever could have imagined.

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We told the kids that we were having a family meeting and that they all needed to come join us.  We excitedly announced to the kids that we would be having a money lesson (cue groans.)  I ignored these sour face expressions and got started with our plan.

Phase 1:  The Marshmallow Bank

First, I gave each of the kids 5 marshmallows.  I told them that those marshmallows were theirs to do whatever they wanted with.    But, if they wanted to put the marshmallows in the marshmallow bank the marshmallows might grow.  My 12 year old and 9 year old decided to put all of their five marshmallows into the marshmallow bank.  My 5 year old decided to eat three of his marshmallows and put the other two into the bank.  I took the marshmallows away and put them into the “bank” (aka my closet).  We left those marshmallows alone to sit in the bank for a while and we moved onto Phase 2!

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Phase 2:    Real Life

For Phase 2 I really wanted to give my kids an understanding of exactly where mom and dad’s money goes each month and WHY we just can’t give them every.single.thing. they want all the time!  I also wanted to give them an understanding of what responsibilities they will need to expect when they become adults.

To prepare I got out enough cash to resemble how much money my husband earns in one month (I did this during the first of the month when I had a bunch of cash on hand from my cash envelopes).  We pretended that a quarter was $25, $1 was $100, $5 was $500, $10 was $1,000 and $20 was $2,000.  I then got three bowls filled with snacks.  The first bowl had cheerios in it and a $50 sign, the next bowl had fruit snacks with a $100 sign on it and the last bowl had a few mini candy bars in it with a $500 sign.

I gave the kids all of the “money” that our family has to live off of for one month.  I explained that after they paid all of their monthly bills than they could use whatever money is left to go shopping at our “store.”  At this point the kids were SO excited about their money.  All of those bills looked like a gigantic wad of sum to those three young kids.  They could not wait to buy out the entire store!

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Then the bills began…

We listed off every bill that we have to pay each month and how much that cost.  As we listed it off the kids had to pay us their “money” for those bills.  We included everything!  They had to pay for life insurance, car insurance, retirement savings, college savings, sports and piano lessons.  They paid for electricity, groceries, car repairs, and a few date nights.  We had them put money into their emergency savings account.  If it was on our real budget, the kids saved for it.  As the huge wad of cash slowly dwindled the looks on the kids faces kept dropping and dropping.

Once the bills were all done being paid my daughter exclaimed, “But where did all of our money go?!?!”  The kids had about $10 leftover, an equivalent of $1000.  Not enough to buy each of them one of the coveted candy bars.  They had to settle for a few fruits snacks and cheerios.

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Phase 3:  The Lesson

At first the kids were a little upset.  They were asking questions like, “So does this mean we don’t have any money?!?!”  and “I don’t understand where the money went.”  We then explained to them that we do have money.  We have enough to pay for everything in our budget, everything that they had to pay for.  We have enough for the soccer camp, the piano lessons, food on our tables, the necessary clothing and occasional fun family activity.  We talked about how we have enough money for those things.  But, we do not have enough money for ALL the things.  We talked about why and how we make a budget each month, how some months we might budget for a fun family activity and another month we will budget for new school clothes.

As the conversation continued I could see the understanding start to set in their eyes.  They began to realize the importance of a budget and why they are told no to some of the things they ask for.  They learned the importance of saving money each month and budgeting for the many bills that come with being an adult.

Phase 4:  Investments

Now it was time to check how our investments were doing in the “marshmallow bank.”  When I went to go get the marshmallows I tripled the amount of marshmallows each of the kids had in their bowl.  My 12 and 9 year old ended up with 15 marshmallows and my 5 year old had 6 marshmallows.  My 5 year old was a little disappointed when he saw how little marshmallows he had compared to his two older sisters.

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We then explained to the kids the importance of investing your money and how if you do it wisely your money will grow.  We demonstrated how the more money you invest, the more money you will earn in return.

I was so very happy with how this money lesson turned out.  My kids really seemed to understand and grasp what we were teaching them.  The conversations we had throughout the lesson were very real and mature and I am hoping this is something my kids will remember as they grow up and begin making their own personal money choices.  And once we were all done we totally let them have a few of the mini candy bars…..just because I try to be a nice mom.  Sometimes.  😉

 

 

 

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.  Some of their favorites are Clue, Sequence and Apples to Apples.  I have bought each of these in perfect condition used.
  2. ABC Day:  Have an ABC Day. Every once in a while I will tell my kids to choose a letter and we try to 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 we would do an art project based around the letter R.  My kids have a lot of fun trying to come up with different ideas based around the letter.
  3. Picnic:  If it’s warm enough where you live go for a picnic at a park.  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:  There are a lot of Spring related crafts on pinterest.  Find a fun one to do with your kids.
  5. Ice Cream in a Bag:  No need to go out for ice cream, you can make it at home with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.  There are a lot of recipes on pinterest to look through.  My kids love getting to customize their own ice cream with chocolate and sprinkles.
  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:  Whenever my kids have a day off from school we always end up at the Public Library.  They love getting to check out some books that they can’t always find at their school library.  Check out my blog post all about the great resources the library offers here:  10 Ways using the Public Library will Save you Money
  8. Bake:  My kids all love to help in the kitchen.  Find a new recipe you can all try out together.  Our favorite is ALWAYS cookies!
  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.
  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 those little seeds sprout is so fun and exciting for the kids (and me!).
  11. Friend Day:  Plan a play date with a few of your kids friends.
  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 is a good way to get them busy and occupied.
  13. Make Slime or Play Dough:  Slime is all the rage these days.  We tried it out for the first time a couple of weeks ago 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!
  15. Science Experiment:  Do a fun science experiment with your kids.  Make a volcano with baking soda and vinegar or try out  our favorite Magic Toothpick Experiment.

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

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 had around the house.  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!

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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.
  • Contact Paper:  I buy this at Walmart.  A roll 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 on

 

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 chatcher 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!

 

 

See my post How we are going to help our kids remember the TRUE meaning of Easter for a fun activity to help the kids learn about Christ’s Resurrection and the true meaning of Easter.

Amazon · Money Educatioin · Parenting

Teaching Kids Smart Money Habits

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It is so important to me to teach my kids how to be smart with money.  I want them to learn while they are young how to handle money, how to budget, how to save and how to spend wisely.  I would rather then make mistakes with $5 than with $5,000  I wanted to share a few things that have worked for us as we’ve tried to teach our kids good money habits.  Parenting is such a personal thing, and there is more than one way to be a fantastic parent.  This is the way we feel is best to teach our kids, but understand that others may disagree and may have other ways that work for them and their family.

A few years ago I read Dave Ramsey’s and Rachel Cruze’s book titled  Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money.  This book is so well written and gives really good advice for how to go about teaching your kids about money.  I really really recommend it to EVERY parent.  Check your library for it or buy it on Amazon, either way, just read it!  I have implemented a lot of the lessons I learned from Smart Money Smart Kids:  Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money, but there are a few things we have chosen to do different with our own kids.

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Allowance

I know, I know!  There are a lot of people who are against giving kids an allowance.  I understand the reasoning’s behind not wanting to pay your kids an allowance.  I 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 an allowance???

We decided to give our kids an allowance after discussing with my husband the different ways we were both raised.  I did receive a monthly allowance while growing up.  With that allowance I was expected to tithe 10%, save minimum of 20%, and with the rest I was expected to buy all of my own clothes, make-up, shoes, etc., and pay for any extra curricular activities or outings with friends.  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.  My husband did not receive an allowance, his parents were against it.  However, they paid for all of his clothes, his extra curricular activities and outings with friends.  He is good with money, but he is the first to admit he wishes he had received a money lesson similar to mine in his early years.  Because of these two life experiences we have decided to give our kids a small monthly 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.  After they save and tithe they can then use the rest of the money as spending money.  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 up and buy with it.  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 will be turning 13 (yikes!) in 6 months so we have been planning how best to make this work.  I went through and added up how much money I spend on her clothing and activities a year.  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 be able to pay for everything she needs to pay for.

Chores

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Chores are an excellent tool to help kids learn valuable lessons.

We have some chores in our household that my kids are expected to do without receiving any money whatsoever.  Cleaning is a part of life and I want them to learn to keep a house clean just because that’s what you do.  They have daily chores and weekly chores that they must get done before playing with a friend, going outside to play or having any screen time.

My kids daily chores include making their bed, picking up any clothes or clutter off the floor, doing the dishes (each has a separate job for dishes) and practicing the piano.

Saturday is the day we work on weekly chores.  On Saturday they are expected to:

  1.  Sort their laundry first thing in the morning.  I then wash and fold the laundry.  That evening once the laundry is done they put their clean clothes away in their dresser.
  2. “Deep clean” their bedrooms.  Deep cleaning in our home consists of picking up all clutter on floor or dresser, organizing their closet, cleaning out from under the bed, dusting, vacuuming, and making their room look very presentable and nice.  I always check after they say they are done to make sure they did it thoroughly.
  3. Change their sheets on their bed.  They take off their sheets and bring them to the laundry room for me to wash.  They then get a clean set of sheets from the closet and put those on the bed.
  4. We have 6 weekly house chores that we rotate through each week so that they all get a turn helping with each chore.  These house chores are different rooms in the house.  Each room is suppose to have a thorough cleaning, I have typed of lists to go along with each of the rooms so they know exactly what is expected.  These 6 chores are:  Entry way and foyer, kitchen, basement, bathroom, great room and your choice (the choices include cleaning out the car, doing the laundry for the day, or washing all the windows).

I wanted my kids to learn that a part of life is cleaning the house and you never get paid for that (unfortunately!).  But, I also want them to learn that the harder you work the more money you will receive.  So, we came up with some chores that they get paid to do.  We raise chickens and the kids are responsible for feeding, collecting the eggs and routinely cleaning out the coop.  They are suppose to mark it on the calendar after they do their chore and they are paid 25 cents for each day it is done.  At the end of the month I add up how many days they did their job and give them their pay.   We have also provided a list of EXTRA chores they are few to do whenever they want to earn more spending money.  My kids utilize this list often when they find something they want to save up for.

 

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.  You can buy the girls version here and the boys version here.  These tins have three separate slots for saving.  I like them because they make saving a little more fun for the kids, they 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 or chores payment 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 often will pay them with change to make it easy to divide the money up between.  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.  Their have been 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.  A few months ago one of my kids was continually not getting completing her chore with the chickens.  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.

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.

Crafts · For the kids · Parenting

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

I’m all about finding easy ways to entertain kids at home.  ESPECIALLY with items I most often have around the house.  Where I live the winters can get LONG and we all tend to get a little stir crazy.  If I can keep the kids entertained and happy without needing to spend money, I am feeling pretty good!

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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!  I posted the instructions for my favorite recipe here:  Our Favorite Play dough Recipe.  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!