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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?

Save a Bundle of Money on Groceries

What Are We Doing to Help Us Save a Bundle on Groceries?

Saving money can be really hard sometimes, especially when you are trying to get out of debt. One of the biggest places that we spend our money is on groceries (which is not surprising with a family of 7). However, since the beginning of the year we have been working very diligently to cut our expenses to get closer to financial independence. One of the most difficult budget categories for us is groceries. But we have found a few ways to help us save a bundle on groceries, which has really helped!

Read more

5 Places Where You Can Get Cheaper Healthy Food

healthy-foodEarlier last month I talked about how we feed our family of six on $400-$450 a month, yet we still manage to eat organic food for much of our diets. Regardless of what the critics and naysayers tell us, healthy food does not need to be expensive. In fact, if you know a few hidden secrets you can feed yourself and your whole family with healthy products  and still keep your food budget low. I talked last week about the benefits of organic foods, and how we eat organic foods for a decent part of our diet, and manage to do so inexpensively compared to what most people spend on their grocery budget without buying organic. Today, in order to give you more insight on how to feed your family a healthy diet I’m sharing five great places where you can get healthy food for yourself and/or your family without going over the grocery budget. Read more