Budget-Friendly Kids

Posted on May 13, 2013. Filed under: Family, Finances | Tags: , , , |

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Let’s face it. We all want to give our kids the world. We even measure our success on being able to give our kids more than our parents gave us. What we fail to realize is that the best gift we can give our children is to teach them responsibility. Ironically, to do this you can’t give them everything! Go figure. The reality is that they will not be given anything once they get out in the real world. If you give them everything they want now and then they succumb to their immediate wants as adults, they (and you) will be setting themselves up for financial failure.

What it really boils down to is you can’t compromise your financial situation by getting your kids everything they ask for. In keeping your financial situation in order, you teach your kids that money does not grow on trees and that there has to be accountability for every dollar you spend. To help you keep your finances in check, you should implement (and stick to!) a budget for your kids. Holidays, birthdays and special rewards should all come with a firm price tag that your children (and you!) must adhere to. Sticking to a budget doesn’t always mean telling your kids no to everything they ask for. In fact, creating a budget creates an opportunity for you and your children to be extremely resourceful. They learn to think outside-the-box as they opt for less conventional outlets to get their items from. They are also taught invaluable lessons in researching, saving, and all-around patience.

Here are five tips on how to stick to a budget and get everything on your kids’ wish list:

1. Determine budgets for holidays, birthdays, etc. well in advance so that everyone is aware of how much money they will have to spend. For older children, this budget should be communicated. However, for younger children, the budget is more of a FYI for yourself!

2. Have your children make their lists early and start your shopping as soon as you can. This will prove beneficial because it allows you to shop around for the best deals and you can hold out for a great sale. If you have older children, get them involved in hunting for the best deal.

3. Shop out-of-season or during big shopping days. I have twins that have birthdays in February. Buying their birthday items the day after Christmas provides big savings. My son has a birthday in July and I can buy summer clothes for him at a really great price during that time. Knowing the best times to buy gifts for the kids as well as the best times to buy certain items will help you get the most out of the money you have budgeted.

4. Give your kids the option of whether they might want to purchase a gently used item. This allows them the ability to get higher ticket items within their set budgets. Garage sales, Craigslist, thrift shops, and even pawn shops are good resources to find used items at a great price. Some stores even sell refurbished items, such as electronics, at a discounted price.

5. If your child wants a higher priced item, encourage them to save their money so that they can put it towards any money that you might give them to shop with. This would include any allowances they might get or money they may have received from past holidays. Also, if you know that they will be getting money soon, you might want to suggest that they wait until after the event to determine just how much money they will have. The last thing you want is for them to pick things out just to spend up all their money. Having patience and holding out for something they really want will be a lot more fulfilling.

Sound simple enough? I encourage you to try these out and see how it works for you. Remember to adjust your budget for gifts so that you are well-prepared when the time comes.

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Fun for Less

Posted on February 24, 2013. Filed under: Family, Finances | Tags: , , , , , |

grouponlivingsocialTonight my hubby and I enjoyed a wonderful night out for free! Well I won’t say that it was completely “free.” A month ago I took advantage of a bowling deal for two on Living Social — two games (per person), two shoe rentals and a pitcher of pop for $10. An awesome deal for our bi-monthly date night and perfect for a family on a budget.

Daily Deal sites such as Living Social, Groupon and JB Dollar Stretcher are great ways to go out with the family without spending an arm and a leg. My family has enjoyed eating out at new restaurants and activities such as bowling and laser tag for half off the normal price. With a family of eight, these deep discounts have become key to keeping us on budget. I have signed up for email alerts to receive daily deals in my area. I review these emails regularly and we pick what we will do based on the deals that are available. I even plan ahead for those special occasions that we like to celebrate out; such as birthdays. I start scoping out the deals well in advance to snag one before the big day.

Additional Savings Tips:

Weekly coupons inserts and ValuPak are also great resources for discounts of restaurants. I keep these in my car so that they are accessible when we’re on the go. See my previous blog – Not So Extreme Couponing – for more tips on how to use coupons to save.

There are plenty of free activities that you can do with your family. Check out the calendars of your local publications (Metroparent.com’s calendar is my fav) to see what upcoming free events are available. I will share more ideas for free and inexpensive activities for the family in a future blog. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, what is the best deal you’ve found for a family outing? What sites/resources do you go to find deals? Leave a comment, I would love to hear how you had fun for less.

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A Purpose-Driven Family

Posted on April 30, 2012. Filed under: Family, Parenting | Tags: , , , |

The importance of having a purpose and setting goals is often emphasized to us throughout our lives as they help to give us direction. But what about having the same for your family? After all, with multiple people in the mix, doesn’t it become more important to map out these expectations?—Let’s face it, expectations are learned and until they are spelled out, your family may trail behind or even veer off the path that you would like them to be on.

While reading Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider, I was introduced to the idea of having a family purpose statement. Mind you, I was just reading this book to gain insight and tips on how to have an organized home in order to make our lives easier. However, I soon discovered that the basis of achieving that goal was setting a proper foundation (i.e. purpose statement) and rolling all your expectations up to that purpose statement. This helps your family realize the importance of the individual tasks assigned to them because now they can see the bigger picture. While everyone in the family may not value having a tidy, clean house (as you do), they may all value being able to spend more time together as a family. When you can show the direct correlation between them helping to keep the house clean, how it creates less work for you and therefore would result in more time together—it will create the motivation needed to make this a routine in your home.

With a blended family of eight and a house to fit them all comfortably in, obtaining the peacefulness you get from a clean organized home became a task from you know where. The nagging and constant follow-ups necessary to achieve this goal made it anything but peaceful. When I introduced the idea of having a family purpose statement to my husband, he was all for it. We discussed what we collectively wanted for our crew and developed a statement that was unique to our family. Our family statement encompassed our Faith in God, unconditional love that supersedes blood, and our desire to ensure that all of us have the support we need to reach our greatest potential. We discussed what we came up with the children and allowed them to ask questions and to add any input that they wanted. We, then, had an official Signing Ceremony (like in the movie Courageous) where each family member signed the statement and officially committed themselves to this process.    

Now as Tsh points out in her book, your purpose statement needs supporting statements in order to guide your family on exactly how they can achieve their family purpose each day. We came up with about 15 goals and having an organized clean home was one that was emphasized as it created more time for us to do the things we love. We also committed to allotting time together as a family each week so that everyone could reap the immediate rewards of living toward our purpose. Two weeks into our revamped way of living and our home is well on its way to becoming the peaceful and serene place my husband and I want to come home to. And we’re hoping that once the kids get acclimated to this way of living that this will also be something that they too, desire. But in the meantime, fun-filled family time will be motivation enough.

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