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How to Make Teaching Young Children About Finances FUN!

When you have young children, teaching them about money is a big part of our job as parents. And this is especially important when they are young because they learn so much more quickly when they are younger. And, they are more apt to listen to us and follow our actions because they look up to us greatly at this age. Not as much once they hit the teenage years! To the earlier you can start, the better.

But it’s not always easy, or fun. Especially when they are really young because the concepts can be much too difficult for them to grasp. However, I have found some great ways to make teaching young children about finances fun. And not just for them!

grocery list

One of the easiest financial lessons I found to begin with was grocery shopping. When my children were around the age of 2, they began helping me make a grocery list. I found the best way to approach this was to have them go through the pantry and refrigerator while I wrote down a list. They would  ell me what they thought we needed and we would discuss it. Because sometimes what they thought we needed was ice cream and cookies!

Whenever we went to the store I would have them help me decide which items to buy. I started out simply by comparing the same item but different brands. That way it was easier for them to see the cost difference between the two products.

Example: If Brand A can of beans costs $.89 and Brand B can of beans costs $.99, which one is the better deal.

This math is usually simple enough for them to grasp when they are much younger. As they got a bit older, I would increase the complexity of the math needed. In that, I would then compare similar products that had different quantities also. This can be pretty confusing for them initially. But once they understand it, it’s a really fun game for them to find the best deal.

allowance budget

Every member of the family should be pitching in to help. So, chores and allowance are another great way to approach teaching young children about finances. However, with the allowance comes some strings. Besides not getting paid if they don’t do their age appropriate chores, they also have to create a budget for it.

One of the most common ways to create an allowance budget is to split it up into the following 3 categories:

  • Donations
  • Saving
  • Spending

Of course, you can discuss this with your children because they may have other categories in mind. But these 3 categories are usually the most simplistic to begin with.

Once you have the allowance budget categories defined, then it’s a good time to open the discussion with your child regarding how much should go in each category. Percentages are easier for us as adults, but may not be as easy for your young child to grasp.

Therefore, if may be best to start with a specific dollar amount in each category.

Here is a good example of both options for a simple $10 allowance since this number can be easier for them to understand from a percentage perspective.

  • $10 = $2 for Donations, $4 for Saving, $4 for Spending
  • $10 = 20% for Donations, 40% for Saving, 40% for Spending

Ultimately, how this is broken down is completely up to you and your child. The main point is that they begin to learn the basics of budgeting their income. So that it will be much easier for them as adults when they have to do it for themselves.

sell their old stuff

As most of us know, with children comes a lot of extra stuff. And as they grow, they outgrow that “stuff” fairly rapidly. Most of the time, the majority of it is also barely used. So, this is another great area to weave financial lessons in for your young child.

When it’s time to declutter the house, have your child go through their stuff to sell also.

The first thing to go through with them is which items they might be able to sell. And then you should have them help you figure out how much they think they can sell the items for.

A lot of times I prefer to sell my kids outgrown stuff online. But, having a yard sale is another great way to approach this lesson since your child will have to be physically present for it.

This lesson helps to teach them the value of their stuff and the value of a dollar. So, it’s really a two-fold lesson that is extremely important for them to grasp now.

Plus, it’s a great place to add on a third lesson while you are at it. Let them keep the money they make on their stuff and put it into a high yield savings account. That way they can watch it grow each month and you can help them learn about compound interest. Now, I call this a big win!

Birthday Budget

And last but not least, the birthday budget. I think my kids always think that money grows on trees. Which is extra funny because we actually have a money tree, but it doesn’t grow money!

With that being said, their birthday wish lists always start out much further outside the budget than they think. So, it’s a good time to bring them back down to earth and have them help with a more realistic birthday list.

First, let them know what the budget is for their birthday. The best way I have found to do this is to tell them that they need to find some gifts that are under $20 and they can find one or two that are closer to $40 – $50 also.

This way, the majority of the birthday gifts they want fall into most people’s budget. And the couple of larger gifts could be from us or a joint gift. But, I also let them know that they will never get everything on their list. That way I help to set up their expectations and keep a bit of the birthday surprise going.

Teaching young children about finances

Overall, there are a lot of great ways you can begin teaching young children about finances and it still be fun. My favorite ways include:

  • Having them help make the grocery list and compare food prices
  • Make an allowance budget
  • Selling their old stuff and putting the money into a high-yield savings account
  • Creating a reasonable birthday budget

If you can start with these easy lessons, then you are well on your way to increasing your child’s financial knowledge. And the earlier you can start, the better. So, have fun with it and get started today!

What are some of the best ways you have found to teach your young children about finances and still make it fun?

How We Are Surviving Through COVID 19

As pretty much everyone in the world knows now, COVID 19 has completely changed our world. We were all set to go on our big joint 40th birthday trip to Greece in the middle of March when all of this hit. Obviously, that didn’t work out for us and we are extremely disappointed, to say the least. But, at least we are home safe with our family and not trapped in another country.

But since all of this has unfolded, it has changed every aspect of our lives, as I am sure it has for you too. So I want to talk about what we have been doing now that our world has turned upside down, both financially and in every other way.

Unemployment

As has happened to most other American’s, we have lost a significant amount of our income. My spouse is a chef, so when all restaurants were mandated to close, his job went along with it. That doesn’t even include me, as a small business owner, but we will get to that in the next section.

Once his restaurant closed, we thought we were stuck. But, due to the wide reaching impact of COVID 19, unemployment insurance was opened up to any and all W2 employees that were affected. My spouse included.

So, we applied for him to begin getting unemployment. Although, this sounds easier than it actually was. So many people were applying that North Carolina’s system kept crashing. It took us 2 days to finally complete his application, with all supporting documentation. And another week and a half for them to approve him.

While it is awesome that he is receiving unemployment benefits now, North Carolina is one of the few states that doesn’t offer a full 26 weeks of unemployment, but only 12 weeks. We are hoping that will be mandated to change due to the circumstances, but only time will tell.

paycheck protection program

As for me, the new CARES Act states I should qualify for unemployment. I did apply for myself also, but the system keeps kicking me out and telling me that I am ineligible. I think they will eventually figure it out, but due to the fact that unemployment has never had to take self-employed or small business owners, they simply don’t have the infrastructure to handle us yet.

So, I spoke to another entrepreneur I know and was informed that I simply had to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to get funding for my business. At first, I didn’t want to apply because I didn’t want to be on the hook for a loan. But, the way this one is structured is that the loan is supposed to be forgiven entirely, as long as you only use it for approved items. Those items include payroll and up to 25% of the loan for utilities to keep the business operational.

I just applied 2 days ago and haven’t heard anything back yet. But since each individual bank has to approve it through their underwriter first, and then it goes to the SBA for their approval, it could take a while. Either way, I am crossing my fingers that one of these avenues pans out for me, because I have lost about 90% of my business currently.

food stamps

Another option that I looked into was food stamps, or the SNAP program. While the parameters are different in every state, we happen to qualify in ours. Even though my spouse and I aren’t married, we share a household and 5 kids, so we fall into a household size of 7. Due to our incomes being decimated, we more than qualify for the food and nutrition assistance program.

And even though I really don’t want to go back on food stamps, I will take whatever help I can get right now. Especially since our family size could potentially get us a little over $1000 for groceries each month while all of this is going on. That would really help take a lot of the financial stress off and comes in under what our normal grocery budget is. Even though I applied a week ago, and my application is still pending, I am crossing my fingers that they will approve us any day now.

homeschooling

While I began homeschooling one child this year, I am now pretty much homeschooling 4 more. Yes, I said 4 more! The 1 child was more of a challenge than I initially thought, but it has been great for him. And great for our relationship too. So, it has been very worth the extra work on my end for both of us.

But, now due to schools being closed until potentially next school year, we have 4 more kids who need some educational guidance. I realize that it is different in every state and county, but ours hasn’t started mandating any sort of virtual instruction yet. And they have been out of school for over 3 weeks now.

So, I have been busy figuring out all of their weaknesses and assigning work to help them improve. Of course, that has been a lot more work for me and my spouse. And certainly some tears and frustration on the kids end. But, it has really helped us see where they are lacking in their education. Therefore, the positive is that this time can only help us help them improve.

home improvement projects

As I am sure a lot of us are doing, we have been tackling a lot of home improvement projects. Most of ours have been talked about for quite some time but kept getting pushed to the back-burner. So, now that we have a whole lot more time on our hands, we are taking advantage.

We haven’t been going out to spend a lot of money on supplies. That would just hurt our bottom line right now. Instead, we have been doing things such as:

  • weeding
  • blowing hardscapes
  • pressure washing
  • reset our patio and put in polymeric sand (if you don’t know what this stuff is, it’s awesome!)
  • moving random pavers to create another small patio outside my office
  • cutting down trees
  • trimming bushes
  • cleaning out storage shed
  • reorganizing my office so I can actually look out my window and open my door to the outside world
  • going through all of the kids clothes, games, random stuff and downsizing everything
  • building garden boxes

I am sure there is more that I am forgetting, and there will be more in the future. I figure that our house and yard will look and feel the best it ever has once we all come out of this. So why not take advantage of the time we have been given?

exercise

This is a category that I have been slacking on of late due to working too much. And trying to spend more time with the kids. So, even though I normally do a lot of yard work and walk a lot of dogs for one of my businesses, it still isn’t enough for me.

My spouse loves to play disc golf and I love to hike. So, we have a great compromise of playing disc golf together on more challenging courses with more diverse terrain. That way I can get my hiking in and he gets to throw.

And due to COVID 19, we have had the time to go play some much further out courses that we have never been able to get to before. Which has been a lot of fun when we don’t have the kids.

I also love to bike but haven’t really had the time for that either, until recently. My normal bike mileage on the Greenway is somewhere between 35-40 miles when I ride regularly. But, since I just started getting back into it, I am starting back out at 15-20 miles. It shouldn’t take me too long to build back up to my normal mileage. But, it’s disappointing to see how far behind I’ve fallen.

Although, I have loved being able to get back out on my bike, ride hands free and just enjoy the wind and the nature.

covid 19 new world summary

Overall, we are all being severely affected by COVID 19. It has changed the whole landscape of our world. And while the up side is that none of us are sick, this has still been a challenge.

We have been looking into any and all resources that might be able to help us financially during this time to assist with taking some of the stress off. And while we now have kids at home for school, it has been a blessing also because it is has helped us see where they could use more help. The extra time has granted us more time for home and yard projects, as well as more exercise time.

So, while this has been challenging, it has also been a beautiful gift. And ultimately, how we choose to perceive what is going on can have a huge affect on how we come out of this. So we are choosing to try and look at all of this in a positive light. We don’t know what our world will look like when we come out the other side. Cut our goal is to do the best we can with the time we have right now and just be grateful.

How has COVID 19 affected your family and how have you been handling it?

Awesome Budget Friendly Foods to Boost Your Health

When it comes to our food budget, sticking to it can be the most difficult part. Of course, we have 5 kids, so that doesn’t help at all! But, what helps us save money the most is stocking up on some of our favorite superfoods. These foods help build our immunity, which keeps us healthy, which in turn, means very little, to no, medical bills. I am all about saving money wherever I can, so these awesome budget friendly foods really help out.

Turmeric

Turmeric is one of my absolute favorite spices to keep on hand. I even put it in my coffee in the morning!

This is because it is extremely diverse in its uses. But, the flavor profile is quite pronounced. So, for some of us, it may take a little while to become accustomed. But once you do, you will love what it does for your body!

Turmeric has been used in Eastern cultures for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. When you see Indian food dishes that have a yellowish tint to them, you know there is turmeric in there.

There are so many health benefits to adding turmeric to your diet, that you really can’t go wrong. Some of the major health benefits of turmeric are:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Increases neural function
  • Increases memory
  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Reduces and potentially eliminates cancer cells
  • Anti-depressant
  • Delay aging and aging related diseases

This little yellow spice is really a huge superfood! However, in order to get the best benefits out of adding turmeric to your diet, make sure you consume it with a fatty meal (or coconut milk in your coffee) or black pepper.

Black Pepper

Black pepper is a go-to spice for us. We use it in pretty much every dish we make, including some desserts. And, as previously mentioned, it should be used with any turmeric dishes in order to activate the turmeric. When the two are combined, the amount of turmeric that is bioavailable to you goes from approximately 3% to 2000%. That is a huge jump in bioavailability!

But that is not the only thing black pepper is good for. In fact, black pepper has a lot of the same health benefits as turmeric. Some of the most common health benefits of black pepper are:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Increases memory
  • Decreases degenerative brain diseases
  • Improves blood sugar metabolism
  • Lowers cholesterol levels
  • Fights cancer cells
  • Boosts nutrient absorption
  • Increases good gut bacteria
  • Reduces pain
  • Appetite suppressant

Now, I don’t know about you, but I like all of those things! And, black pepper can be extremely cheap to purchase. So, why on earth wouldn’t you put it in everything you could?

Cinnamon

One of my other favorite spices to add to my morning coffee is cinnamon. I just love the flavor of it, especially when it is combined with turmeric. While we have a lot of cinnamon on hand, we don’t use it as much as the other two previously mentioned spices. But, it can be just as budget friendly to pick up at the store. So that is a huge bonus!

Our favorite thing to put cinnamon in, besides coffee, is overnight oats. The kids love it in the morning and have no idea that we are giving them a ton of medicinal benefits with their breakfast. This is what I call a parenting win!

Some of the most common health benefits of cinnamon are:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Reduces insulin resistance (Great for those with Type II Diabetes)
  • Decreases degenerative brain diseases
  • Fights cancer cells
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-bacterial

We not only use it in food, but make our own cleaning spray with cinnamon essential oil in it. This is due to its extremely strong anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. And it works like a charm!

Star Anise

While star anise does not seemed to be used as widely, including in our house, it is also a powerhouse. Star anise has a licorice flavor profile, so it can be a bit harder to use on a daily basis. Unless you are a big lover of licorice, that is!

However, it can still be added to coffee, savory dishes and desserts. So this is a spice to help you get creative with your cooking.

It can be found at most grocery stores, so it’s not too difficult to track down. And the cost is similar to cinnamon, so you won’t be breaking the bank.

Some of the best health affects of star anise are:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiviral
  • Antifungal
  • Antibacterial

Since it has so many great properties, this is another essential oil that we include in our household spray. The combination of cinnamon and star anise alone will kill anything our kids drag in.

Algae

Algae is one of my more recent superfood additions. A couple of years ago I ran across some really great information, including a wealth of scientific studies, about algae. The nutritional and health benefits of spirulina and chlorella are out of this world!

Since I found this information, and did more of my own scientific digging, we now incorporate algae every morning before our coffee. In fact, some of the kids ask for it too! Which is really great for our picky eaters. At least then, I know they are getting some essential vitamins, minerals and nutrition into them for the day.

Some of the most common health benefits of algae are:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin A
  • Iron
  • Omega 3
  • Vitamin K
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Protein
  • Anti-depressant
  • Reduces and potentially eliminates cancer cells
  • Boosts immune system response
  • Helps with proper digestion
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Reduces appetite
  • Builds muscle
  • Strengthens hair, nails, skin and bones

As you can see, when it comes to superfoods, algae really is the OG! But, algae can be a bit more expensive than the other items on this list. So, we take it in moderation just to maintain our level of wellness, which helps keep withing our budget.

Most awesome budget friendly foods

Overall, there are some really awesome budget friendly foods our there that you can incorporate in your daily regimen. And most of these are so cheap, and stretch really far, so you won’t even feel it. This means you get to boost your overall health, reduce potential illness and medical bills and stick within your budget. So what’s not to love?

Have you tried any of these awesome budget friendly foods yet? If so, what are your favorites and how do you usually incorporate them into your diet?

How to Keep More of Your Money This Year

With a new year comes a new slate. And for us, that means it’s a great time to create more financial freedom and independence for our future selves. And one of the best ways we have found to achieve that is to keep more of our money, as opposed to spending it. But, that doesn’t just mean we keep it and don’t do anything with it. There are many different tips and tricks used to help create more wealth with our money. So read on if you want to learn how to keep more of your money and create more long term wealth.

Setting financial goals

Setting your financial goals is the first part of the puzzle. After all, if you don’t have clear cut goals lined up then what are you wanting to keep more of your money for anyway? The best way we have found to do this is to create 4 different things.

    • Budget
    • Short-term goals
    • Mid-term goals
  • Long-term goals

Once you have those 4 things nailed down, then you can really start rolling towards your personal financial goals.

Open a high yield savings account

No matter what your debt to income ratio is, you can always find something to put aside. Even if it’s only $20 a month to begin with, something is still better than nothing. And with this $20, or whatever you are able to regularly scrape together, you will create your emergency fund.

After all, one of the most important tools in your financial arsenal is your emergency fund. Even if you don’t have 6-9 months of expenses saved to begin with, everybody has to start somewhere. And this money can really help reduce your stress levels in times of crisis. No matter what you put into the this savings account, the goal is to budget the same amount monthly.

Just pretend it’s another bill and it will be less painful. And, the best way to gain a little more on your emergency fund savings is to open a high yield savings account to put it into. 

With interest rates closer to 2% in high yield savings accounts, you will still do a whole lot better than if you put the money into a traditional savings account. Those rates are currently at a national average of .09%, which is just ridiculous!

Stay focused on your financial goals

Once you have figured out your financial goals and started your emergency fund, next you have to figure out how to stay focused on them. Believe me when I tell you that this can really be the hardest part! 

There are a lot of great tools out there to help you track your spending and your wealth. But, the one I have been using for years now is Personal Capital. You can use it on your PC or your smartphone. And once you have all of your accounts connected (that is what takes the most amount of time!), it is very easy to navigate.

You just login to the platform and it will show you your overall net worth based on the balance of each account. I take it as a personal challenge to increase my net worth every month, if even only by a little bit.

Pay off your credit card

While most of us prefer to use credit cards over cash, they can really get us into financial trouble if we aren’t careful. Some of these credit cards have pretty awesome rewards, which are fantastic to get. But if you don’t pay off your credit card in full every month, then you are ultimately spending more than you are getting in rewards.

So, the best way to fully utilize your credit card’s perks is to pay off your card in full every month. If that means only putting basic household expenses on the credit card, because you know you can pay that off. Then that is what you should do to make sure you will have enough money in your budget to pay it off. 

Determine Needs vs. wants

Once you have gone through all of the previous items, determining needs vs. wants is the next step. Because now you are getting into potentially erroneous items that may creep up monthly to spend your money on. And it is these things that can really derail us on our financial path if we aren’t careful.

Therefore, keep in mind whether the item/service is a need or a want first. If the item is a need, then go ahead and do it. But if it is actually a want instead, you may want to hold off on it or figure out a different solution. After all, not spending your hard earned cash on wants will only help you keep more of your money in your pocket.

Keep More of Your Money

Overall, it can be difficult to keep more of your money in your pocket. Especially, since it is just so easy to spend it quickly these days. And this is the reason why we have to be more aware of what we have and where we want to be with our finances. 

Just remember to:

  • Set your financial goals
  • Open a high yield savings account
  • Stay focused on your financial goals
  • Pay off your credit card every month
  • Determine needs vs. wants

For us, following these great financial tips have really helped us keep more money in our pocket. So it will be interesting to see how much we are able to keep this year and continue to grow our wealth.

What steps to you plan to take to help keep more money in your pocket this year?

How Can You Get the Best Car Insurance Rates?

When it comes to our cars, we all want to save money. This is not only true of the car purchase, but also the car insurance needed for it once we drive it off the lot. But sometimes by saving money, we end up cutting corners that can cost us more in the long run. This is where car insurance comparison sites come into play. I have found that they can be a great resource when it comes to getting new car insurance, or negotiating with your current company for a better rate.

But, before we get to the comparison sites, I want to talk about the items you should be comparing across the board to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. After all, not all insurance products are created the same.

Car Insurance features

No matter which company you end up going with, they should all offer some of the same features. Although, most of us consider these basic features today, they are really extras that don’t have to be offered. These include:

Comprehensive insurance

Comprehensive insurance covers anything that happens to your car non-collision related, such as:

  • Break-in or vandalism
  • Damage from an animal striking your car
  • Fire or explosion
  • Natural disasters
  • Shattered or cracked windshield or window
  • Things falling onto your car

Collision coverage

Collision coverage covers the repair of your car when you have been in a collision. If the car is considered a total loss, then they will cover the cost to replace your vehicle at current market value.

Roadside assistance and towing

Roadside assistance is not something that every insurance carrier offers in their basic plans, but they should. What it usually covers is:

  • Fixing a tire
  • Gas delivered to your car if you run out, but you usually have to pay for the gas
  • Jumping your battery
  • Locked out of your vehicle
  • Stuck in the snow or ice
  • Towing to a service station

Rental car insurance

Rental car insurance is an another one that is not always offered in a basic plan, but certainly should be Usually it will cover:

  • The cost of a daily rental car while your car is being fixed due to a car accident

Bodily injury insurance

Bodily injury insurance is generally used in accidents that you are deemed at fault for to pay for:

  • Death
  • Injury
  • Lawsuit
  • Sickness

Property damage insurance

Property damage covers somebody else’s property that you have damaged in an accident you are deemed at fault for. Some of the most common items are:

  • Hitting a parked car
  • Running into your neighbor’s house
  • Sliding into a neighbor’s mailbox

Uninsured motorist coverage

This coverage is extremely useful when you find yourself in an accident with someone who is either underinsured or uninsured. Your uninsured motorist coverage will pick up the slack and cover the remaining costs for injuries or damage to you and your car.

Medical expense insurance

Medical expense insurance is an extra buffer built into your car insurance plan to assist with health related issues occurring from a car accident. It helps to pay for things like:

  • Ambulance
  • Doctor visits
  • Funeral costs
  • Hospital stays
  • Medicine
  • Surgeries
  • X-rays

PIP insurance

Personal injury protection insurance is used to help people, other than yourself, who might have been injured in an accident.It covers things like:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of services
  • Lost wages
  • Medical treatment

GAP insurance

GAP insurance is for drivers who have purchased new cars. It helps to pay the difference between what the new car is now worth and what a replacement vehicle of the exact same year, make and model would cost.

Comparison sites

Now that you have a better idea as to what you should be comparing, the best way to do that is through the use of comparison sites.

I like to use a few of them, just to see if I find a difference in rates. Which does actually happen! A lot of times this is due to the fact that most of them give you a general ballpark quote, but you have to go through the final sign up process to get the final rate.

These types of sites include:

But, there are other sites that will give you cold hard facts, if you are willing to put in a bit more information. A couple of these are actually through the insurance company offering the car insurance and the other two aren’t the actual car insurance carriers.

These sites are:

To be honest, I usually start with the general ballpark quote sites just to get a broader idea of what I am looking at. And that way I don’t have to put in a ton of information, or risk getting phone calls from a lot of different agents and companies.

Once I have a better idea as to which companies might be able to offer me the best rates, for the best features, I dig in deeper.

best Car insurance rates summary

Overall, if you want to get the best car insurance rates, you are going to have to be willing to do a little work. Do your general comparison shopping first to narrow down companies of interest. Then, check into their offered features in their basic plans to see how they compare. Next, dig into the sites with real quotes, or go to the actual car insurance carriers website itself to get a real time quote.

If you are happy with your current carrier though, this may just be an exercise to help you reduce your rate or get better features added to your policy for no more money. Either way, what do you have to lose if it saves you money and can potentially get you more features? This is a win-win in my book!

What are some of the most effective ways you have found to get the best rates on car insurance?

4 of the Best Ways to Get Clothes on a Budget

As a fairly frugal family, we are always looking for ways to cut costs. This is especially true when it comes to clothes. After all, having 5 growing children can really get expensive in the clothing genre! But, over the years, we have found some great ways to procure clothes on a budget. And whether you have children or not, these tips can really come in handy to save you some money.

Poshmark

A friend of mine turned me onto Poshmark not too long ago. I had never heard of them before, but have fallen in love! This service is for buying and selling name brand clothes, shoes and accessories.

Ultimately, I don’t have a whole lot of name brand items. But, since we are always cleaning things out, I figured what the heck. Setting up your closet (if you want to sell anything) is pretty quick and painless. You have the option to share your closet on all of your social media accounts also, if you so choose. This can increase your sales opportunities.

Poshmark takes 20% of whatever you sell your items for. So this is something to keep in mind. But, you can keep the money you make in your Poshmark account to use for items you want to purchase. The seller does not pay shipping, the purchaser does.

And negotiation is allowed on Poshmark, which is pretty cool!

I have sold a few items on Poshmark so far. I was then able to use the money in my account to purchase new clothes for us. The grand total I have spent so far is $.59. Now that is what I call clothes on a budget!

consignment stores

Consignment stores are another one of my favorite places to shop for clothes on a budget. Not only do I love to donate to them, but shopping at them is pretty awesome also. Granted, there can be a lot of things that don’t appeal to you at all. Or the clothes and shoes can be extremely outdated. But, I have found quite a few diamonds in the rough at consignment stores.

There are a few consignment stores near us that are notorious for having a lot of donations with the tags still ON! These are my favorite finds because we get brand new clothes at severely discounted prices. How can you go wrong with that?

Some of our favorite consignment stores to hit up are:

Depending upon which consignment store you go to, the prices will vary. But, prices at Goodwill are the same no matter which one you frequent in your area. For us, that means the kids clothes start at $3.19 each and ours start at $3.89 each. We love this!

Just keep in mind that whenever you are consignment shopping you will also be hunting. So you have to be okay with scouring through a lot of different clothing items to find what you are seeking. If you aren’t a fan of this, then don’t worry because there are plenty of other options for you.

end of season

One of the best times to shop for clothes is the end of a season. I realize this can be difficult with growing children though. Since you have to predict how much they will grow, it is always a guessing game.

However, if you are willing to play the game, you can save some serious money. Take right now, for example. Most stores are moving into the heavy winter clothes and are trying to offload the lighter fall attire. This is the time to search for, and stock up on, things such as:

  • Capri pants
  • 3/4 length shirts
  • Lighter leggings
  • Lightweight long sleeve shirts
  • Long skirts
  • Lightweight jackets

Since we have been searching for new pants for some of the kids in the past few weeks, we have run across some great deals. I’ve been able to pick up pants for some of the kids for as low as $2.50 each. I also came across some Capri athletic pants for myself for $4.98. I don’t know about you, but those prices really make me smile!

emails and coupons

Last but not least are email lists and coupons. Even though I greatly detest all of the emails inundating my inbox, I love some of the deals I run across.

Usually, when you sign up to get a newsletter, you will also get a welcome email with discounts of some sort. I hold onto those puppies like gold!

A lot of the email lists, and/or associated store apps, will have coupons also. You have to read the fine print because some of them can’t be combined with any other offer. But I have run across quite a few that can be combined. And that is where you start really racking up the savings!

One of my favorite tricks is to sign up for a new email list and use the coupon(s) in the clearance section. I have been able to get a lot of clothes for next to nothing this way. And that really helps keep our clothes budget low.

Clothes on a budget

Overall, there are quite a few different ways you can find clothes on a budget. And sometimes, they might even be new clothes with the tags still on!

Some of the best ways we have found to restock our wardrobes on the cheap are:

  • Poshmark
  • Consignment stores scouring
  • Shopping at the end of each season
  • Getting onto email lists for deals and coupons

Therefore, getting creative and playing the game are the best ways to get clothes on a budget for the whole family.

What are some of the best ways you have found to get clothes on a budget?

Have You Considered Buying Family Gifts for Christmas?

With the holidays quickly approaching, it is time to start thinking about gifts. At least, that is what is on our children’s minds right now. From our perspective, trying to figure out the best way to approach Christmas gifts for the kids without killing our wallet is always a fun game. So, we are considering buying only a family gift this year instead of individual gifts. Here is our thought process and how we hope it might help us save some money on the holidays.

Costs

This may not be the most cost effective way for every family to approach Christmas gift giving. But for us, as a family of 7, the holidays can get pretty darn expensive. My spouse and I don’t usually get each other anything, which helps reduce our costs. But, if we did decide to swap gifts, that would just increase the overall cost of Christmas in our house.

The usual average that we spend per child is $40 – $50, which equates to approximately $200 – $250. This doesn’t include anything for us, but if we did, that would tack on another $80 – $100. This being said, what we spend is still a whole lot less than what the average American spends on Christmas gifts.

These studies show a few different figures for holiday gift giving. The majority of us plan to spend more than $1000 on gifts, or somewhere around $885 per person. That is insane!

For us, on the path to financial independence (FI), that is just not something we can justify. But, for those of you who do spend that much on Christmas gifts, then the family gift could really save you some serious cash.

Family Gift Options

In order to save some of our hard earned money, the option of just one family gift we can all enjoy sounds appealing. It also means less boxes, wrapping paper, tape and bows. After all, those cost money too!

A few of the options we are considering are:

ASTC Membership

This membership has a passport program that lets you use it at museums all over the United States, and in a very select few other countries. If you have a membership near you, then you can get into all of the other museums listed on the passport program for FREE. On top of that, once you buy the annual family membership, you get into that museum for free whenever you want too.

They also send out special events and discounts specifically for ASTC members that you wouldn’t otherwise get.

The membership can range in price depending upon where you live and which museum happens to be closest to you. For us, we have 3 in our immediate area to choose from. They range between $85 – $140 for the annual membership and cover all 7 of us. We purchased one last year to Marbles and go there quite often now. Since each visit to the museum would cost us $5 per person, no matter what, we make our money back in less than 4 visits. And this doesn’t include all of the other museums we have been able to use our membership at to get into for free. I really love this option!

Trusted Housesitters Mini-Vacation

We have used Trusted Housesitters for two trips now and it has saved us a ton of money. If we can find something close enough to us that might only be for a long weekend, then this may be the way to go. Since we get to stay for free when we travel through Trusted Housesitters, the only things we would have to pay for are the extras. We always pack food when we travel, so that cuts down on the costs. Ultimately, this option would still probably be the most expensive though. My best estimate on costs would be somewhere between $200 – $300.

Ping Pong Table

Getting a ping pong table for downstairs is something we have been considering for a while now. It is something fun that we could all end up partaking in, and can be done when the weather isn’t as nice.

I have been leaning towards one that converts into a pool table also, so that it would be multi-function. I have found quite a few used options that range from $75 – $200. Therefore, this might be one of the top runners also.

Family excitement

Ultimately, whatever we get the kids for Christmas, they almost immediately forget about. The toys end up on the floor, or broken. The video games get old and then they are bored. They just don’t have the staying power. And, it really divides our family since they are all off doing separate things.

We continually try to find ways to unite us and keep our communication at a high level for more family unity. So the idea of getting one big family gift instead of a bunch of smaller individual ones appeals to us on all levels.

Plus, if the gift is something we can all do together, or enjoy together, then it creates more overall family excitement. Since the holidays are supposed to be a time to celebrate family and those you love, this idea just makes more obvious sense to us.

takeaway

Overall, it appears that it will cost us less money to buy one family gift for us to enjoy versus individual gifts for everybody. Plus, the family gift will be something we can all enjoy together to create more unity in our family, as opposed to separate us. Since we are always searching for ways to save ourselves more money and create more family cohesion, this seems like a win-win to us.

Have you considered buying a family gift instead of individual Christmas gifts? If so, what was your thought process behind the decision?

How Much Does Having a Child Cost and How To Cut Costs

Deciding to have a child is a very big, life altering decision. It not only affects your everyday life but your finances too.

The average amount that it costs to raise a child annually varies from between $12,000 – 13,000, and it goes up each year with inflation.

But, there are more expenses incurred in the 1st year of having a child. How much does it cost for that 1st year and how can you cut costs?

CHILD BIRTH

The most expensive part of having a baby is the actual birth process. The costs completely depend on:

  1. Vaginal birth or c-section
  2. Insured or not
  3. How much your insurance covers
  4. Which state you live in

While these are a lot of different variables, here are the average costs in each category:

  • Vaginal birth with insurance –  $4,900 – $10,700
  • Vaginal birth WITHOUT insurance – $9,015 – $19,800
  • C-Section with insurance – $7,500 – $15,000
  • C-Section WITHOUT insurance – $12,600 – $28,500

Total range of just giving birth – $4,900 – $28,500

This is a pretty wide spread and should give you a whole lot to think about right out of the gate.

HOUSING

Buying a home can have a pretty large price tag, especially for things that you might not have even thought about. First and foremost is the down payment. This can vary depending on which type of loan you qualify for, but the average amount required for a down payment is 10%.  However, most banks prefer you to put down at least 20% in order to forgo the mandatory PMI. Just something to keep in mind before you decide to purchase a home.

While there may be more up front costs buying a home, it could still potentially cost you less overall. Owning usually gives you more space for the same amount, or less money as renting a smaller place. Plus, you get the equity if you own and you don’t if you rent.

As an added bonus, once your house is paid off, it will then be considered an asset. One that could potentially help you as you get older and start thinking about retirement.

The buy vs. rent decision is a very personal one. So if you aren’t sure which one is the best for your family, then check out this rent vs. buy calculator. Hopefully, it will help you on your path to cutting costs.

FOOD

Food costs can be one of the biggest parts of a monthly budget. While you may not think it will directly affect you immediately, it certainly can. Because with a new baby is in the house, the food costs will go up.

The 3 major things affecting this are:

  1. Breastfeeding
  2. Formula
  3. Solid Food

1. BREASTFEEDING

Breastfeeding usually requires an extra 500 calories per day, just to account for the extra energy needed to produce the milk. A an average of 20% more than you were eating before, you should add an extra 20% into your food budget just for you.

If the average grocery bill for 2 is around $500, then that translates to approximately $250 per person. With the mother requiring 20% more food though, that will be an extra $50 which = $600 per year in increased food costs.

2. FORMULA

Formula feeding can vary with regard to costs depending on how much your child eats and which type of formula you use. But the average costs to formula feed are between $1,138 – $1,188 per year.

3. BABY FOOD

Baby food runs close to $1 per jar. Most babies eat anywhere from 2 – 5 jars a day, depending on their age. That means you could be spending an extra $2 -$5 a day.

That is an extra $60 – $150 per month and $720 – $1,800 per year! A great option to cut costs here is to buy a blender and make your own baby food.

CHILD CARE

Child care can be one of the biggest expenses, aside from the actual birth.

The average a married couple spends 10% of their budget on child care expenses alone. But if you happen to be a single parent, it’s even worse. The number now goes up to 36% of your budget.

This means the average cost of one child, under the age of 1, can be anywhere from $10,000 $20,000. This may be a good reason to think about staying home and working on side hustles instead, as an alternative option.

TRANSPORTATION

A lot of families decide that they want to upgrade to a minivan or an SUV when they begin to think about having a child.

But, switching from a sedan to an SUV or a minivan can cost you up to 50% more. But that doesn’t even include the increased car insurance costs associated with switching to an SUV or a minivan. So keeping your older car, especially if it is paid off, can really help you cut costs.

HEALTHCARE

Adding a child to your healthcare plan will certainly increase your costs. So much so that the range can be anywhere from $250 – $400 extra per month or $3,000 – $4,800 more per year.

This doesn’t even include the higher deductible you will have due to the increased family size. Checking around for cheaper payments with a higher deductible, that covers preventative care visits, may be a good way to help cut costs.

CLOTHING & MISC

Babies require a lot of clothes because they grow so fast and they like to have accidents. The average cost for baby clothes runs around $60 per month, but this depends on your state and income level. However, this doesn’t include other things you need for them such as:

  • Bedding
  • Blankets
  • Books
  • Hairbrush
  • Haircuts
  • OTC medicine
  • Stuffed animals
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste

If you add an extra $40 into your monthly budget, this should help cover these extraneous expenses. This makes the total for this category an extra $100 per month or $1,200 per year.

overall costs

Let’s recap the added cost breakdown:

  • Child birth = $4,900 – $28,500
  • Housing = Variable
  • Food = $1,320 – $2,988
  • Child care = $10,000 – $20,000
  • Transportation = Variable
  • Healthcare = $3,000 – $4,800
  • Clothing & Misc = $1,200

That is a grand total (on average) of $20,420 – $57,488!

Even though having a child could potentially cost you this much, it doesn’t necessarily have to. Proper planning and forethought are key to helping you cut costs when you have a child.

How much do your children cost you extra a year? Where have you found to cut costs?

What are Some Great Budget Friendly DIY Home Improvement Projects?

It would be great if our home could stay in the state it was in when it was originally built. Then we would never have to spend time or money on home repairs. But, as we all know, that is a pipe dream. Things get older and start to fall apart, or become severely dated with time. One of the best ways to combat major home repairs, and major costs, is to incorporate smaller DIY home improvement projects on a regular basis.

I have found this is one of the most budget friendly ways to keep our home up to date and in good working order. So I’m going to show you some of the best, and easiest, DIY home improvement projects that you we have incorporated to potentially increase the property value. And they can all be done within a small budget. Read more

How We Bought Two New Used Cars With Cash

We have been hitting the road towards debt freedom pretty hard for the past three years now. The car loan on one of our cars was the last big thing we had to get rid of before we could start throwing more at the mortgage. How to get rid of the car loan faster was something that had been vexing me since the beginning of the year. I was getting close to an answer to pay it off faster, when it suddenly happened. We were finally able to get rid of the last car loan, and buy two new used cars, with cash only. This was a miracle! Read more