Category Archives: Kids and Money

Shop the Locker

This post is urgent for those with kids still in school!  Shortly your kids will be cleaning out their locker or cubbie.  You would be shocked at how many school supplies have not been touched!  Most schools put out bins to donate leftover school supplies to the district’s summer school program in addition to big garbage cans right in the hallway.

Here is what we reclaimed (so far!) from my middle school student’s locker:

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The graphing notebook had three pages used.  I know that was expensive.  The unopened Post-It’s are like GOLD… those things are crazy expensive!  The markers are missing fuchsia.  When your kids are little you fear sending then to school with a 10 pack of markers if the teacher asked for 12, but by middle school you are more of a skeptic.  My experience is that most of these supplies are never touched!

Now, if you have an upper elementary/middle school student, a bribe may be necessary to get these supplies back.  In my case, it was a pick up at school and a trip to Starbucks.  Trust me, I am well ahead of the $ 4.55 spent on a Frappucino!

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I always keep a school supply bin available.  In this one you see yet more filler paper and a 10 piece math set which I got for .25 in October.   If you want to be a black-belt school supply saver, keep a list of the supplies for the grade your child will enter the following year and be on the lookout for any odd or expensive items.

I would love to hear about you school supply adventures!

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Summer Reading – Freebies

To me, nothing says summer like the arrival of summer reading programs for kids!  I will be sad when DD is too old to participate, and that day is coming way too soon!

SummerReadingTri-228x132Barnes and Noble has launched their summer reading program, which culminates in a free book that your elementary school-age child can select from their list.  As always, they have a great selection of free books for kids to choose from.  I would have to choose Mercy Watson, Mr. Limoncello, or the new American Girl book about Lea Clark.

Have you participated in the Barnes and Noble program in the past?

Teaching Moment… Back to School Budgeting

KIDS AND MONEYOur daughter is headed to 5th grade this year, and this summer has been a great opportunity to ratchet up her role in the back-to-school finances.

Currently our school budget category has about $ 450 in it.  We deposit $10-20.00 a week into the category whenever we have a chance.  This is an ongoing budget category because inevitably there are purchases that come up throughout the year.  This fund covers school fees (yes, public schools have them), clothes, shoes, and school supplies.

The first budgeting opportunity was giving her the responsibility of looking at the school supply lists in July and combining all supplies required into one master list (if you take French, you need additional items; if you take Spanish, something else is required, and so on).  She did that at the start of July which allowed us to go to OfficeMax and get a bunch of supplies for .25 a piece when they started early-bird sales.  We focused only on the items with deep discounts and weren’t tempted by the full-priced items.  Still time for other sales!

A word on school supplies… or maybe more than a word.  When your kid is in Kindergarten if the teacher says you need a Bic pen in blue, by God, you will cross the earth to make sure you buy a Bic pen, lest your child’s blue pen be different than another kid’s pen.  By 5th grade, that is all out the window.  If the teacher wants Pink Pearl erasers, no way am I turning my back on Office Depot brand erasers for .01 as a loss leader.  Ditto on the markers.  If it is a reasonable-quality brand, we are going to live on the edge and get the ones on sale for .25.

Also, can we talk about #2 pencils?  How many #2 pencils do you think a 10 year old could use in roughly 9 months.  Now, about 1/2 the  school day consists of non-pencil using activities like lunch, band, PE, etc.  I would love for you to put your guess in the comments.  Is it anywhere near…. wait for it…. 79 pencils?!?!?!  We should have started sharpening these babies weeks ago! (Note for parents of small kids… start hoarding Ticonderoga pencils immediately)!

Another finance area for her to get involved was to see the amount we had budgeted for school needs and make some decisions about “optional” items like a new backpack and new lunch bag.  I supported her wish for something a little more grown-up and let her look through some catalogs.  She opted to get both items new for next year, knowing that choice may require some economizing down the road. Perhaps by being on top of the school supply sales we created more wiggle room for these “optional” items.

You may want to save on back to school because you have to… funds are tight and perhaps you are working Dave Ramsey’s steps.  On the other hand, you may not need to save on school supplies, but this could be a space to teach your kids about financial decision making in an area that concerns them directly.  My husband and I always say it’s important for kids to have some “skin in the game.”  Now is the time to have money experiences when the stakes are low.  Today’s backpack or Air Jordan decision is tomorrow’s decision about credit cards and college loans.  I’ll let you know how our purchases work out.  How is the back-to-school budgeting at your house?

Side note… if you are hoping to catch information on school supply sales I recommend the blog Hip2Save.

 

 

 

 

Clearing Out

We started the summer off with an impressive burst of motivation to have a rummage sale.  DD was a huge help and went through every box of toys and kid books, and clothes too!  We hit the stage where it’s pretty clear what toys are with us for the duration and which could be better served with a new friend.

noexif_IMG_5920_privateThings we found helpful in making the rummage a success were:

  • Having pre-printed Avery price tags.  They were inexpensive and what kid doesn’t love to put stickers on things!
  • We lacked a hanging clothes rack, but we found people were willing to go through bins on a table that were labeled by size.
  • We also found it worthwhile to bag like items together in a Ziploc and sell them as a bundle.  Within the first 20 minutes all of our Melissa and Doug wooden toy food was gone.

Our 4 hour sale netted us about 100.00.  From that $100 I paid our daughter a flat rate for labor and a 10% commission on sales.

It feels great to have things like her old bike out of the garage.  The longer it sits around the more likely it is to become broken or rusty.  I’d rather price it reasonably and have someone using it.

We used the cash from the rummage to buy some portable folding chairs that we need for an event later this summer.  It felt great to meet a future expense with items taking up room in our basement.

I did break a cardinal rule of having a garage sale… I brought three boxes of stuff back inside the house.  I labeled the bins and hope to have a rummage with the rest of it at my mom’s house that has great street traffic.  I put the bins in my laundry room so I won’t forget my plan!

From Prudent to Extravagant in 40 Minutes

Now, you know we plan ahead for kid expenses, whether it be school fees or summer activities, we are thinking and budgeting in advance.  .  . (most of the time).

Our daughter sure grew this year, and surprise! her bike is ridiculously small.  We tried to drum up a used bike from friends — no luck.  Thought about a bike from Target or Amazon, but we’re not real comfortable with assembling a bike with so many gears.  That brought us to the local bike shop.  Are you seeing dollar signs?  Wait, it gets worse!

My husband and I previewed the offerings at the bike shop alone to avoid possible kid disappointment.  We thought we could aim for an entry-level TREK 24″ wheel bike.  I brought her to the shop and the clerk was about the same height as our daughter.  Turns out she is ready for an adult-sized bike, and not even the smallest adult frame!  Dollar signs!

While she was testing the bikes out I was, of course, texting Mr. Saver: “Adult bike… $ 400-500, not 300. as we planned! ”  The upside is that this bike should work for her for a long time unless she hits 6 ft tall.  I advised her that she can buy her next bike because this one should last until she is 35!

mcdonalds-grimaceWe hone in on one model, only to find out the entry-level adult Trek comes in one color:  charcoal gray.  This is a moment where your parental resolve is tested.  Naturally, there is a purple bike, with better components, and it is teetering close to $500.  The clerk calls the bike “Grimace” purple.

So, for Mother’s Day, mom bought a $ 500 bike for daughter.  Quintessential parenting moment.  We have been out biking together every night when the weather cooperates.  Her bike is much nicer than mine and I may be a bit jealous of her slick looking Bontrager puncture resistant tires.  We paid in full for it… I would never finance a bike even if it were the last Grimace-purple bike in town!

Trek 7.2

 

 

 

 

Building Net Worth $6.00 at a Time

christmas-typography-graphicsfairy004Our daughter (soon to be 10) has the opportunity to earn up to $ 6.00 per week in allowance.  She is paid every Saturday night, which is when my husband and I “close out our budget week.”  We pay her the same way we get paid — electronically.  We tell her how much she earned and she can add it into her own personal budget spreadsheet on the computer.

Currently she is “funding” the following savings categories that she created:

  • Charity (this usually means buying items for Operation Christmas Child)
  • Church (she makes her own offerings as she sees fit)
  • American Girl
  • Animal Jam (online game – she has to pay for her membership or ask for it as a gift)
  • Clothes (for non-essentials, like earrings from Claire’s)

There is also a column for “Debt.”  She has been in debt to us before (for an Animal Jam membership promotion).  Dad does not accept only $1.00 in repayment either.  Debt is a bummer! This debt experience sent her looking for “extra” work around the house so she could have her allowance and have money to repay debt. This is what Dave Ramsey calls “getting yourself a second job delivering pizzas.”

Finally, there is a column for her savings account.

(Money allocated in budget + savings) – Debt = Net Worth, calculated right in the spreadsheet.

In nine more years she will be eligible for student loans, credit cards, and car loans! I truly hope her experiences now are giving her a foundation for making financial decisions down the road. My feeling is that the college years take you from making very few decisions about money to making money decisions that affect your financial health for a good part of adulthood… and THAT is a whole other post!

Busted Bubble – There’s No Money Tree

Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe, NM

I may be a grown-up, but I still haven’t gotten over the fact that there is no magic money tree.  I bought a nice pair of dress pants for church… and it is never fun to enter those purchases into Quicken and deduct the money out of the budget, even when I have funds saved for such purchases.

My daughter is now learning about this hard reality as she transitions into allowances and chores.  “Teachable moments” are cropping up left and right!

“Can I have money for the Scholastic book fair?”

“No, you haven’t read the last book I bought but you are welcome to use your own money.”

“But I am saving my money for something else!”

“Me too!”

She went on to wonder what would happen if she were the ONLY one in the class with no money for the book fair.  I said she would have to tell her friends she is saving her money for something else.  This conversation, for me, echoed many of the financial decisions my husband and I are making every day.  Why do we only have 1 bathroom… because we are saving for something else.  Why does my husband drive an ‘entry-level’ car… because we are saving for something else.  Freedom from debt is a wonderful situation, but it is still a life filled with many purposeful decisions about money.

Oh, and the book from the book fair that she reeeaaaally wanted?  The library has a copy waiting for us on reserve.