20091231

Why We Take Care of Other People's Stuff

Taking care of property or objects that belong to other people, goes beyond just "having good manners." Teaching kids to take care of things when they are young, may be the best way you can teach them about money, even before they can count change.

We take care of their things because we love them
And when you love some one, you love their things. YOU don't even have to know them. Just reminding them that Jesus knows them and loves them is enough of a reason.

We take care of their things because we aren't wasteful
Breaking things wastes time, money, and energy. Plus, it creates garbage. All of these things could be avoided if we were more careful.

We take care of their things because it is too expensive not to
Rarely do we include restitution into our budget. We tend to spend money on things that WE want, rather than replacing things that belong to someone else. Suddenly being responsible to fix a couch, because we let our darling children jump on it until it made that funny sound, may change how quickly you can take that trip to Disney World.

How you take care of other people's things is a direct result of your level of respect for them. Vandalism and defacing of property is never done to things people hold as precious. But carelessness should not be overlooked. Breaking something on accident, is still breaking something.
This has been linked in with We are that family and Works for me Wednesday. and the Penny Pinching Party at Thrifty Home.
Leave me a comment and tell me what you think.

20091117

A Conversation with my Soldier Prince Alligator Boy (His official Title)


Mom Stop!

Babe, you have to move out of the way. The other carts can't get by.

But the Macamodi is on sale.

Macaroni and Cheese isn't really on our list this week.

But Mom! It's on sale. We have to get some.

Okay, we can get some. But just a few.

One, two, three...

That's probably good.

four, five, six...

okay, we don't need any more.

Mom. It's on sale. seven, eight..

Nine, Ten. We're done. Now let's get some peas. We can't have macamodi without peas.



I have created a monster...

20091108

Stocking Up

So we got sick any way...

But even then it was an amazing answer to prayer. It all started around 3 AM. I was the first to go. Twenty minutes later it was Hubby's turn. In the morning we discovered that my mom, visiting from California, started around 4 AM.
That's right, we got the stomach flu.
We don't know how, or when we got it, or why the kids didn't get it, but we did know that we were glad we had the extra help, no sick kids, and a stock pile of easy to make comfort foods.
There is nothing like macaroni and cheese and canned soup when you are sick.

Stockpiling seems to be quite popular right now. I want to share with you some reasons for stockpiling that go beyond just saving money.

Stocking Up to Save Money
Buying food when it is on sale, saves money over buying food when it is not on sale. It is hard to argue with that. But time and space may put a limit on how this can be practical. You have to prioritize what you buy and how much.

Stocking Up on Seasonal Items
Some foods go on sale at certain times of the year, but there are other foods that are pulled from the shelf when they are out of season. There is a certain Mango flavored iced tea that I love, but after about September, it cannot be found on any shelf but my own pantry. If I want to enjoy this year round, I have to stock up in order to make it last.

Stocking Up for an Emergency
keeping basic food items on hand is a good idea no matter where you live. Even if you are not susceptible to seasonal storms like hurricanes, a power outage like was seen on the east coast not long ago is a good example of when having food on hand could be crucial. When preparing for an emergency always think ahead to what you might need to prepare the food. Do you need a heat source, a can opener, or clean water? Do you have food that you can grab and go, if you need to evacuate?

Stocking up for Lean Times Ahead
If your income fluctuates, or a job may be in jeopardy, stacking up on food may give you peace of mind to face the coming months. Many rash decisions happen when parents are stressed out about putting food on the table. Ease this worry by having things on hand that can carry you through several months.

Stocking Up for the Holidays
being prepared for last minute "bring a snack" parties, or hosting those drop in relatives, makes you thankful you thought ahead and stocked up on some crowd pleasing basics. To some people that could be a bag of chips and salsa, while others must have the cheese ball. I say break out the OREOs and we'll call it a party, but I am easy to please. What do you have on hand to serve unexpected guests?

Stocking Up for Giving
This is often the time of year that food is collected to give to needy families. Planning ahead for this kind of giving allows you to teach your kids how to be happy helpers. They see you shopping wisely for others, and not desperately digging in the cupboard for food no one else wants.

Stocking up to Save Time
What could you do with an extra hour or two every week? Well stocking up so that you don't have to go to the market as often may give you that extra time. It may take you a bit more planning time, but the time saved out of the store more than makes up for it.

Stocking up for Health Reasons
Last week, while we were sick, we went on voluntary quarantine. Nobody left the house. I was so glad that we had food on hand. Nobody felt like shopping, and trust me you did not want us out spreading our germs. But not every body does this. And they go shopping while they are sick... So one less trip to the store during flu season is okay with me.

Stocking up for Peace of Mind
Money is the usual motivator for stockpiling, but I think this may be realist. Whether your peace of mind comes from knowing you won't have to deal with a melt down when the Cheerios run out, or that you could survive an Alien Attack just by hiding out in your bunker, keeping food on hand may give you that peace of mind. After all, you can't eat money. But remember, that food is not the source of peace. That can only come from God.

What are your favorite things to stock pile?

This is linked up with We Are That Family on Works for me Wednesday.

20091102

Job vs. Chore - In the Bathroom

If you would like to read about the other rooms in this series Job Versus Chore click here.



This week we are braving the bathroom. The Bathroom is a room in the house that is generally shared by many people. It also needs to be cleaned often. I usually err on the side of If Everybody Uses It, Then Everybody Cleans It. But how you decide to delegate chores is up to you or a later blog post.



Chores for the Bathroom might include:


  • Cleaning the Toilet
  • Cleaning the Sink/faucet
  • Cleaning the Bathtub / Shower
  • Cleaning the mirrors
  • Putting away Bath toys
  • Putting away personal care items
  • Wiping/mopping/vacuuming the floor
  • Shaking out rugs
  • Cleaning Windows
  • Putting towels / wash cloths away
  • Emptying the trash
  • Freshening the hand towel

Since this room is usually shared by so many people, you could easily make everything a chore and not have any jobs. But these are things that I would consider paying someone to do:


  • Changing Light bulbs

  • Cleaning Light fixtures

  • Changing batteries in Fire detectors

  • Cleaning vents

  • Changing/ cleaning shower curtain and/or liner

  • Refilling soap dispensers

  • Taking inventory of personal care products and 1st aid kit

In our house, we don't have a separate Master Bathroom, we have an upstairs bathroom, and a downstairs bathroom. But many houses do have a Master Bathroom, or even a guest bathroom that is not shared with the general house. I think it would be completely appropriate to consider those chores as potential jobs, or at least possibilities for chore trading.


(Chore trading is when one person may have all of chores of a certain category, i.e. washing mirrors, that he does through out the house, even in rooms that he does not use. In exchange, I or another member of the family may have the chore of cleaning all of the toilets. You can divide the chores up this way, or see how your kids barter and trade based on their likes, dislikes and skills.)


Many of the skills listed under Jobs, could be considered chores, but since they are not regularly done, I think I would prefer to hire them out to a kid that had the initiative.


But teaching your kids to have a daily cleaning routine in the bathroom will save them money in the future.

New Identity Theft Scam

I just heard a piece on the radio put out by Crown Financial Ministries. They have a radio ministry helping families get out of debt and be good stewards. The information they shared today was about a new identity theft to be aware of. Here is how the scam goes:

  • You get a call from "your credit card company"
  • They are warning that your account has been "flagged" by their fraud dept.
  • They know your name
  • They know your address
  • They even know your account number
  • They want to send you money to reimburse you for those "fraudulent charges"
  • They just need to verify that you still have your card in hand
  • So you give them the 3 security digits on the back of the card

Bingo!

That is what the whole call is about. They just wanted those three numbers. They already had the other information, likely purchased from some data mining source. But they didn't have the security digits to easily make online purchases. Until now.

Meanwhile....

  • You are not worried about your account because your "Credit Card Company" is already on the case.
  • You don't check for fraudulent charges
  • You don't call to make a claim
  • Mr. Identity Thief has several days to go on his shopping spree

Many credit card companies are quick to resolve Identity Theft claims. They don't want you to stop using your card, after all. However, every time a thief gets away with his crime he is emboldened to do it again. And to brag to all his other thieving friends how easy it is.

Even though you may not pay for those charges out right, we all pay for it. The money comes from somewhere, usually in the form of extra fees hidden here or there.

If you choose to use credit cards, it is key that you teach your kids some of these basic safety measures:

  • Never give out information to people who call you
  • Always go to a statement to get a phone number and call them back
  • Keep cards and statements secure - at home, stores, restaurants
  • Check statements regularly for fraudulent charges
  • Try to use other reputable sites, like Pay Pal, when buying from an online source

You don't have to be afraid of online shopping, but you do have to be careful. Your example will go a long way to teaching your kids about money.

20091030

Why I Give - The Check is in the Mail

Originally published as a Call To Offering April 2005.


You know those stories that you hear. The ones where somebody really needs some money, and they pray and miraculously a check comes in the mail?

Well that happened to us! Just before Miss Love was born our furnace went out. They fixed it, but we are going to need a new one.

So imagine our excitement when we get an unexpected check in the mail!

The money was from a previous job that reviewed its records and discovered that they had withheld too much tax back in 1995. Imagine, God had answered our prayer before we even asked.

Except the check was for only $17.

So was this an answer to prayer? I mean, Lord a furnace costs a lot of money and this is only $17. What do you do with an answer like that?

I’ll tell you what I did. I cashed it.

Do I stop being faithful to God, just because he didn’t solve my problem the way I wanted?

No, God may not have rubbed his magic genie lamp and fixed all my problems, but He did go one better. He reminded me that we aren’t doing this alone. No matter how much we worry or plan, He is still in control. Knowing that I worship a powerful God is even better than having Him pay all my bills.

20091026

#1 Money Saving Tip This Winter

DON'T GET SICK!
I know, it looked like I was yelling at you, and I am sorry. But seriously. If you want to save money this winter do your best to not get sick. Or you can at least do me the favor of not bringing your kids out if they are sick, so that mine don't get sick.

It may not be a big deal to many families, a drippy nose here, a little cough, cough there. No big deal.

We have what they call a "high risk" child. That little cough, cough can turn into breathing treatments that we have to do twice a day. And at $3 a pop, it's not just Starbucks we are having to cut back on.

This winter we are going to do our best to not get sick. This could be a savings of at least $750. And that is just our out of pocket expenses. Thankfully we have insurance.

So in teaching my kids about money, I have to include little lessons like:

  • washing their hands
  • covering their mouths
  • getting enough sleep
  • eating good food
  • drinking lots of water
  • avoiding sick people
  • not putting things into their mouths

This may be our hardest money saving goal yet.

Do you have any tips for us on how to avoid the bugs?

This has been linked in with We are THAT family.

20091025

We Have Arrived...



Minivan? Check


3 kids? Check


Dog? Check


Soccer player? Yes, we know have that one, too. It seems I have arrived. I am officially "A Soccer Mom."


I know this puts me into a whole new category. I am just not quite sure what to expect, now that we are here.

Here are some things I did not expect:
  • I did not expect to be so proud of my kid just standing on the field.
  • I did not expect that I would ever bribe my kid to kick the ball.
  • I did not expect to be scandalized by the snacks the other soccer moms brought.

Apparently the apple slices and home made cookies that we brought were not as cool as the many variations on junk food that Miss Love ended up with after every other soccer game. How was I supposed to know that snacks had changed since I was a kid?

Nobody said anything, of course, and I was glad that we had been first to bring snacks. Who knows what I would have done if I had had a clue. Would I have given in to peer pressure? Would I have bought the expensive, yet cool snacks.

Am I prepared to teach my kids about money even when it means they won't have the cool snacks? Being a soccer mom is a hard job, but someone has got to do it.

And I will admit, I was inwardly ecstatic to see that for our final game we had Home made Cupcakes and all the kids cheered because "they have rainbow sprinkles!"

20091023

Why I Give - Being a Tightwad

Okay, it is time for me to confess. I am really a tightwad. When it comes to money, I am not generous. I am more than willing to share my house, my time, my food or my ideas, but when it comes to money, I want to know where it is going.
So we have this budget. At first, it was just so we could keep track of where our money was going. Then we saw things that we should probably change, so the budget helped keep us on track. Now, with less income, our budget has become crucial.
To some, our budget may seem restrictive, or ridiculous. But we have taken the money that we have and split it up between the things that we spend money on. This allows us to make sure we have 10% set aside for tithe, and then we do an additional 5% for offering. We set aside money for groceries, entertainment, cash, and yes, Hubby even has his own hobby fund.
If you knew how many speakers we had in our basement, you would understand.
I don’t mind telling you that our budget is in good shape. I keep an eye on it. Even though our spending trends fluctuate, we are still on track with our spending goals.
We write a check once a month for our tithe and offering. Several weeks ago I noticed that on those other weeks, after the call to offering, Hubby was taking cash out of his wallet to put in the plate. Well, I only take out so much cash every month, so I asked him about it. Should we change our budget to reflect this difference in giving?
He said no, he hasn’t run out of cash yet, so he didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
Finally it hits me.
Duh!
This is how it is supposed to be.
There is the regular money that we set aside for tithe and offering, and then there is the money that we give to God, just because we can. I am so glad, that when God blesses us, he doesn’t just stop with the things we need or expect. He is so generous, that he gives to us just because He can.

20091022

Stocking Up - Mayo

This last spring during artichoke season we had a crisis. We had the most delicious artichokes, the Four Cheese Rice a Roni, and the kids in bed early. Only to discover we had run out of Mayonnaise. Artichokes must have mayo. But no worries, we have the best neighbors ever. So we called them and they said, "No problem, we have plenty."
But they didn't.
They had miracle whip.
It's not the same thing.
So hubby says, "We are going to have to get some real mayonnaise." He hops up and runs down to the store (he could have literally run to the store, we live that close, but in an emergency situation, I do believe he took the car).
The rest of the evening was spent without incident. But in the spirit of Scarlett O'Hara I vowed right there to never go without real Mayonnaise again.
It was with this thought in mind that I got quite excited about the sale on Mayo this week at Meijer. It was nearly 50% off. So I stocked up. I bought 10 of them. Which for us would last us clear through next years artichoke season.
Only...
When I got home, it seems there had been an earlier sale that I had forgotten about. I already had a stock pile of Mayonnaise.
Ummm....note to self, we don't need any more mayonnaise.
Now I like to teach my kids that stockpiling is a way of saving money, you know, buying when things are on sale. But I am afraid my lesson may have backfired this time. I think the lesson for me today was, "you aren't saving money if you don't need it."

This has been linke dup with Things I love Thursday at the DiaperDiaries.

20091019

Job vs. Chore - The Master Bedroom

Generally the Master Bedroom is off limits to many kids. My kids occasionally take naps on our bed when we need to spread out a bit. Right now the three of them share a room, so it's nice to have a quiet place if necessary. But most of the time Mommy and Daddy's room is left alone.

Which means most of the responsibilities fall on us, too. This makes for a great opportunity for kids to earn some extra money. Jobs in the Master Bedroom aren't usually time or skill intensive. Here are some ideas:



  • Changing the sheets on the bed

  • sweeping/vacuuming the floor

  • dusting

  • putting clean laundry away

  • emptying the trash

  • washing the windows

Look to see if any of these jobs fit the skill level of any of your kids. When they are looking for some extra money you may want to refer to this list and give them a job first, rather than just giving them the money.


Now there are chores that I did not add to this list, such as:
  • making bed
  • picking up dirty laundry

Call me a snob, but I believe that there are some jobs people should do for themselves regardless of how much money they have. I hope to teach my kids that there is no such thing as too rich to make their own bed or put their own dirty clothes in the hamper.

Do you have any jobs like that?

20091015

So We Got a Cell Phone...

Now, just last week I was ranting about how much I hate cell phones. So it would seem quite a switch that i am already loving having one. Here is what happened after HOURS of research:
  • Hubby got a cell phone - quite a nice one, too. Kind of like a cheapo version of a blackberry I think, that has WIFI calling.
  • Hubby signed up for At&t Go Phone which is like $10 a month.
  • We canceled our long distance - this was the cause of the whole problem in the first place. How can they charge so much? Ridiculous!
  • We couldn't cancel all phone service - that's how we get our Internet, since we aren't cable subscribers.
  • We discovered WFRN's Phone Friend - they have a $10 plan and the minutes get rolled over, and the service is way better. I thought they had a referral program, but I couldn't find it anywhere.
  • Our Wifi phone has free calling anywhere there is free Internet: our house!, the library, many airports, coffee shops, etc.
  • I can log onto Google Calendar from anywhere! - We just figured out google calendar, and we set up one account for our whole family, so I can update info, and my Hubby can see it on his calendar at work, our calendar at home, or my phone.
  • This may revolutionize my grocery shopping. - No, I can't just call home like my mom does and ask the poor sucker that answers the phone what we have in the fridge. I mean, I can make a list on our computer, and have it show up on my phone!

I am still looking into ways that I can enter the price of food from different stores, that will tell me where the cheapest place to buy a certain item might be. Or if something is on sale, is it really a good stock-up-for-winter sale, or just a so-so buy-an-extra-to-have-on-hand-for-company-kind of sale. So if any of you know of anything like that let me know. I would hate to invest unneeded time on excel.

So now I have to admit that I love my new phone. Thanks Babe, I love you.

I just have to promise to not become one of those people. You know the ones. The cell phone talkers...

This has been linked in to Things I love Thursday at the Diaper Diaries

20091012

Why I give? - Our Mortgage

This is part of a series originally published in November 2004. The timeline reflects our circumstances of that time.





Well, it’s been two years now since we’ve been trying to have a baby. For some reason, still unexplained, there were problems. This created quite a physical and emotional roller coaster for me. Through different doctors, tests, medications, weird side effects, and prayers, it wasn’t just the silence that was frustrating. Month after month, all we seemed to hear was No, No, No. Until just as suddenly, this spring, after 18 months, God said yes.

Then we had to figure out how we could make this work. Hubby and I were both committed to me staying home when we had children, so we had to look closely at our finances. Luckily, God had been working in our lives in a different way this whole time.

We had been very good at putting half our income toward paying off our house each month. Because we were careful with our spending, and committed to our goal, we were able to make our last payment on our house this summer.

Now that we are down to one salary, it is just enough to cover our basic monthly expenses because we don’t have a mortgage or any other debt to worry about. Looking back to where we were two years ago, I can see that we couldn’t have done that. Financially, we were still a long way from being in a position where I could stay home.

From the outside it looks like we were really smart. It looks as if we waited to have children. It looks as if we had this whole thing all planned out. Well before you give us any credit, let me remind you, this was not our plan. We were praying for something else entirely, and we weren’t very patient about it. This was God’s plan. He’s the one that had everything worked out.

Now when I look at our bills and wonder if we can do it, I get a little kick in the ribs reminding me that God has it all worked out.

This post has been linkedin with Thankful Thursdays

Job vs. Chore - in the Bedroom

I believe that kids are responsible for the upkeep of their own rooms, so most of the things will be considered chores. Many things I currently do for my kids, but as they get older they will take over these responsibilities.



  • changing their sheets

  • making their beds

  • putting away dirty clothes

  • putting away clean clothes

  • putting away books and toys

  • dusting

  • dusting the floor

  • setting out clean clothes

These are the things that I would (and may have already) pay for:



  • changing a siblings sheets - right now the boys aren't old enough to do it themselves, so Miss Love is helping me, by taking off old sheets. We are still working on getting the new ones on.

  • Putting siblings clothes away - see note above.

  • removing spider webs - this is usually just a once in a while job

  • cleaning window

  • mopping the floor - I like to really clean the wood floors with water once or twice a year

I think it is okay for kids to pay each other to do things, or essentially trade chores, but we haven't had the opportunity to try out this theory.

Job vs. Chore

There seems to be some confusion out there about what constitutes a job, and versus a chore, and why should we give money to kids for jobs that they should be doing anyway. I want to clarify my position on when kids should be paid for their jobs.



A Chore is something you do:


  • because you are part of this family (or live in this house)

  • even if you don't want to

  • because you eat

  • because you wear clothes

  • because you sleep

  • because you want to do fun stuff

A job is something you do:



  • when your chores are done

  • when you need money

  • that someone else is willing to pay you to do

Obviously this definition is subjective, and can be defined in different ways by different people.


There are things that I believe that a kids should be responsible for, as soon as they are mentally and physically capable of doing it. But there are some responsibilities that I have taken on in my own quest to provide a nice home for our family. If one of my kids wants to learn how to do that task, to take it off my hands, I would gladly pay them. The only reason I don't pay someone to do them now, is that I am cheap, and I know how much house cleaners cost. Besides, I don't think they would come to my house just to vacuum rice from under my table.


So this is the first in a series about chores and jobs. I will look at each room of the house, and give examples of what would be considered a chore vs. a job. Realize that I am not an expert, I just play one on the Internet.

This is linked in with We Are THAT Family for Works for me Wednesday.

20091008

A Conversation






A conversation about Budgets with Miss Love






"Do you know what I am doing, babe?"



"What?"


"I am checking our budget."


"What for?"


"I am checking to see that we don't run out of money."


"And to see what we are buying?"


"That's right"


"And to make sure we aren't buying naughty things"


"What do you mean?"


"Sometimes people buy naughty things that they don't need, and then they don't have enough money."



Wise beyond her years, that one is.

Looking for Extra Money? - Selling on EBay Part 4 - Stuff that Kids can Sell

It is amazing what you can find for sale on eBay. Which means the reverse is also true: It is amazing what you can sell on eBay!


Help your kids think out of the box and together you can sell many things on eBay. Remember, that you must be of a certain age to have an account on eBay. However, working as a team, you and your kid can learn a lot about money by selling a few items that you may already have.


There are many people who make selling on eBay a business. This usually involves making or buying items on the cheap and then selling them for a profit.


Other people sell on eBay merely as a hobby, or as an occasional means to get some cash. This usually involves finding items from around your house and then selling them rather than storing, yard selling, or merely giving them away.


Here are some ideas of things you may already have that you can sell:


  • outgrown clothes

  • out grown shoes

  • out grown coats

  • Toys

  • books

  • DVDs

  • CDs

  • Collections

  • Costumes

  • Backpacks/bags

  • Games

  • Computer Games

  • New Stuffed Animals

  • Baby Gear: Diapers, bottles, cups, blankets, etc.

  • Coupons

  • Gift Cards

  • Knick Knacks

If you find that you have a lot of low value items, you can group them together into "lots." This saves you time in listing, and it creates a better value for your customers. Here are some good examples of "lots" that may not sell very well by themselves, but do great in a group:



  • Used clothes

  • small books

  • used movies

  • small toys

  • art/craft supplies

  • seeds

  • coupons

  • Learning Kits

You, of course, will have to look around and see what you have available to sell, and then compare it with what is selling. Just because nobody else is selling it, doesn't mean nobody wants. That may make it more valuable.


Why I give - The Summons

This is part of the Why I Give series, originally published as A Call to Offering. This post is from May 2004.





I got something in the mail the other day, that I have been waiting for for awhile. Years actually. Yes, I finally got my first jury summons in the mail. Of course, I still have to be chosen, but I honestly can’t wait to go for a variety of reasons.



I am really interested in the legal process, I’ve seen it on TV, but I’ve never been in a real courtroom before. Another reason is that I recognize that my community has asked me to serve, and I am excited to be able to answer that call.


In a similar way your church has summoned you to serve. It may be with time, prayer, or money. Recently I have noticed that many have really taken up the call with their money. At our church, which is quite small compared to many, their is sometimes a record of recent giving. Now I tend to watch these numbers as closely as I watch gas prices and I have noticed some things. A few months back, our giving was way down. Ten thousand dollars down. Each month we were giving less than our budget called for.



However I think that God has been working here in this church. Many had been praying about where to give money, and how much to give. Look at the effects that prayers have had. For the past several weeks our weekly giving has exceeded what was budgeted for. We are actually getting ourselves out of debt. Way to go.



Jesus talks about this in his parable of the talents in Matthew 25 “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”



You have been summoned.





This has been linked in at Beautiful Calling.

20091005

Looking For Extra Money? - Selling on EBay Part 3 - Is it Worth the Energy?

After you have considered the potential time and money invested in selling an item on eBay, you still have to ask yourself




Is it worth the energy?




You may have the perfect item but things still might not go as you plan. Consider these ideas before you invest the energy:




A. What if it doesn't sell? - Are you ready to re list, and invest the listing fee again?


B. What if it sells for less than you were hoping?


C. Do you have enough positive feedback to be a trustworthy seller?


D. Can you afford to refund the money back if something unfortunate happens during shipping?


E. Do you have the patience to deal with many emails from potential buyers?




Selling on eBay can be a great way to make extra money. Many people have work at home jobs based on eBay selling.




I strongly recommend anyone who is considering selling on eBay to at least buy something first. That way you can be familiar with the process. You will know from your experience what to do to make buyers more confident in the sale, and hopefully comeback for more!


Selling eBay can also be a great practice for teaching kids about money. From the safety of your home, your kids can learn about customer service, investment vs. reward, and value.

Looking For Extra Money? - Selling on eBay Part 2 - Is it Worth the Money?

Investors every where will tell you that you need money to make money. So you have to ask yourself, how much money am I willing to invest, in order to make money selling on eBay?


Is it worth the money?


Similar to the time issue, you need to be aware of the costs involved in selling on eBay:


A. Listing fees- eBay charges a basic fee for listing, plus more for any extras

B. Final Value Fee - eBay also charges a small percentage of what your item sells for after the auction closes.

C. Paypal - by far the easiest way to receive money, there is often a charge to the seller from paypal

D. Packaging Costs- If you have to buy boxes or packing materials you should subtract that from your profit to get a true feel for the costs

E. Shipping costs- Yes, the buyer pays for this but you still have to get it there, and many buyers may decide that it costs more to ship something than the item is worth.

F. Insurance costs- The buyer usually pays for this, too, but if something goes wrong during shipping, they will look to you to solve the problem. Many times this may require you to refund the money which equals a loss of item, plus a loss in listing fee.


EBay sends out a monthly invoice that is charged to a credit card (maybe they can do bank direct, too). You have to register this information up front, which may be why they require you to be of a certain age. It is possible that you won't have to put out any money up front, because your sale may cover the costs, but be aware, in case they don't.


EBay has also added a selling bonus. The first five items listed every month are free. you only pay a final value fee if your item sells. This definitely reduces the risk of losing money if your item does not sell.

Looking For extra Money? - Selling on Ebay Part 1 - Is it Worth Your Time?

A common place for people to turn when looking for extra cash, selling on eBay could solve some cash flow problems. Now, you have to be of a certain age to sell on eBay, but this could be a great place for you to help your kids get some extra cash.


If you have not yet sold anything on eBay, but want to, here are some things to consider before you jump in:


Is it worth your time?


This is a big one, because it takes time. There are many steps to selling, that can make the whole process cumbersome:


A. Preparing your item for sale - washing, gathering, etc.

B. Taking good pictures - pictures are super important

C. Downloading pictures onto computer

D. Researching potential value of your item (really you should do this first)

E. Describing your item -check it over completely for ANY possible flaws

F. Listing Your item - decide starting value, shipping, payment options

G. Packing - over pack items especially breakables

H. Check messages often - good communication is crucial in keeping positive feedback

I. Shipping


Each of these steps may take only a few minutes, but all added up, you may decide that it is not worth your time. I personally don't like to list items that I don't think will sell for less than $10. I only have so many free moments in the day, that it seems a shame to spend them all on eBay.


However, if I have several lower dollar items that are similar, I can do many of the steps at the same time- taking pictures, down loading, researching, describing, etc. eBay makes it simple for you to use one listing as a template to sell other things, so this can make it a snap if you plan to sell many of the same things.

Feeling Rich - #1 We Actually Have a Budget

And yes, we look at it and compare our spending.

Having a budget doesn't really matter if you never look at it, its not adjusted regularly, or it doesn't match your lifestyle. Here are some basic ways to make budgeting work for you.

Make It Easy. We like to use Quicken software for managing our budget. It is easy to set up, easy to download credit card transactions, and easy to make adjustments. If it is not easy to do, you know you aren't going to stick with it. So start easy, you can always make your budget more complicated later.

Start Right Now. The great thing about a budget is that you can begin immediately. Don't wait for debts to get paid off, the new year, or life to get easier. As you start tracking your spending, you will see patterns. The more information you have, the better.

Make it Flexible. As you notice patterns, it is okay to change your budget. If it doesn't fit your life, you know you won't stick to it.

Review it Regularly. It is good to watch for categories that are out of whack. Sometimes it will have too much money allocated, and sometimes it may not have enough. Know this before it is too late.

Build in a Cushion. Allow for spending to fluctuate each month. Add a small percentage more to each category to allow for any extras. At the end of the year, you can always use that surplus to buy something special or give it away.

Prepare for Long Term Savings Categories. Putting a little bit in a category, like new car, each month will let you afford things before you need them. This way you can track how much you have saved up for an item.

Have some Blow Money. This comes from Dave Ramsey. Everybody needs to have a bit of cash that they can just spend as frivolously as they want. You don't have to track it and you don't have to defend it. You don't even have to spend it.

Miscellaneous Category. This is great for those times when you need something that really doesn't fit into any other category. Like an umbrella. You don't really need an umbrella category, but its not food, or clothes or gas.

Combine Categories. We buy diapers, shampoo, and Dog food at the grocery story. It seems silly for those to have their own category, so we just lump them together in a single grocery category.

Separate Categories. We knew we could cut some money by not eating out, but we wanted to know how much. So we put eating out into the entertainment category instead of a food category. Now we know how much is left for when date night comes along.

Your Budget means Freedom. When you are trying to save money, it is easy to get into a rut of being a tightwad. But having a budget means saying yes to buying what you need and even want, saying no to what you can't afford, and knowing the difference.

Having a budget has meant peace of mind for our family. We have a zero balance budget, which means we write down how much our income is, and subtract all of our expenses until we get to zero. Using a computer program helps us play with the numbers easily so that we can add or subtract here or there to make it work. Because we have a budget, we can prove that it is possible. We know how much we can spend on each thing, and we DON"T HAVE TO WORRY!

Not having to worry about money is the number one thing that makes us feel rich. You don't have to make a lot of money to know that you have enough.

Your kids will learn about how budgeting works by seeing that the family has one and follows it.

20091002

Why I Give - Coat Pockets...

This is the first in a series of Why I Give. Originally published as a call to offering. Some of these posts date back as far as 2004, but I thought they would be interesting to revisit. This is from October 2009.

There are so many reasons to love the fall. The changing colors, autumn harvest, fresh baked apple pie, and, of course, breaking out the winter coats.

What? You ask. Why would anyone love to get their winter coat out?

Well, it’s not the coat exactly. It’s the surprises.

Let me show you. This week in my coat pockets I found:
  • some Hot chocolate flavored chap stick,
  • an old grocery list,
  • a baby pacifier,
  • a coupon,
  • a book of matches,
  • a pair of gloves,
  • my library card,
  • a plastic spoon,
  • a pen, and
  • $5.

    What’s even more amazing, is that I didn’t even pray to find any of this. It was just there. Before I even asked.

    I know that God blesses us in so many ways that I don’t even notice. I don’t want to wait all year wondering if I am receiving blessings. I want every day to feel like that first cool day of fall. When I reach into my pocket and find something special. I want to notice all the ways that I am blessed every single day.

    And I want to be able to share those blessings.

    Please think of all the little or big ways that you have been blessed, just this week.

    This has also been linked up to Things I Love Thursdays at the Diaper Diaries, and Tune- up Tuesdays @ Beautiful Calling.

20090928

Cleaning Tips - In the Bathroom

My Bathroom Cleaning Routine has become just that, a routine. I used to spend an hour once a week coughing on cleaning fumes, trying to get my bathroom clean and spotless. Now I spend less than three minutes everyday, and with NO cleaning fumes. That's right. Zero, zip, Zilch.

Let me introduce you to my tools:

  1. The soap - squirted on #2 - Yep, I only use soap to clean the toilets.
  2. The toilet brush - If I swish and swipe every day (or every other day if I get lazy) there is no build up, and no need for strong or expensive chemicals
  3. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser - I use this sponge to scrub down my shower walls - WHILE I AM STILL SHOWERING! It is just another excuse to stay in the hot shower one minute longer. When it gets done at every shower, there is no build up. Amazing. I could probably get away with just soap, but I like how Mr. Clean gets the orange residue off my white grout.
  4. Cleaning Wipes - I just swipe off the counters and then sometimes the toilet seat or maybe the floor, or even the drawer handles. I am just finishing up this free pack that I got with a coupon, and then I will probably go back to the baby wipes with vinegar. I probably could use a wash cloth here, and save some money, but this is my one area where it is just nice to throw it away.
  5. Spray bottle - Just a spritz of water on the mirrors, and they are ready to shine.
  6. Microfiber cloth - wipe down the mirrors and shine up the faucets. I like to use the cleaning wipes on the faucets first, since they tend to be germy, but then I can shine it up with the microfiber cloth.

All of this takes me less than 3 minutes, plus I love what I am teaching my kids about cleaning and money.

  • You don't have to spend the big bucks on cleaning supplies
  • You don't have to pay someone to do something that should only take 3 minutes
  • Sometimes having the right tools makes the difference in doing a good job
  • Not only can they do this for themselves, but they could do it for pay for someone else
  • Doing a little bit every day, makes a big job seem small
  • Sometimes the easier solution actually is the better solution, too: for the environment, pocketbook, and your own health and safety

Thanks to Flylady for the swish and swipe tip and the scrub and tub. they have revolutionized my time in the bathroom.

This tip has been linked in to Works for Me at We are that Family. Check it out for more cleaning tips.

Why We Don't Have a Cell Phone

This is my Top 10 list of reasons we do not own a cell phone. There are probably a hundred reasons, but I am going to try to stick with just the top 10.




  1. Some times I just don't want to be that accessible I know, I don't have to answer the phone, but then why would I carry it around, if I wasn't going to answer it?

  2. I'm not a very good Mommy while I am on the phone I have a hard enough time trying to pay attention to what my kids are doing while I am on the phone at home, I cannot imagine trying to do that IN PUBLIC!

  3. I tend to like having my time planned better than that People with cell phones tend to do last minute things. They allow themselves to forget stuff, because they can ALWAYS call someone to get what they need. Really, that drives me crazy. I would hate to turn into that.

  4. Cell phones aren't safe This has nothing to do with cancer, or whatever. But you can't rely on your cellphone to be your safety net. What if your battery dies, what if you are out of range, or you don't know where you are. If you have not made a plan, or told someone where you are, because you had a cell phone, you can be putting yourself at risk. (despite the obvious safety benefits of having a cell phone.)

  5. I can't believe how expensive they are. I also can't believe that I didn't mention this until #5. It is amazing how each little gadget adds so much every month. And people still pay it!

  6. They aren't as comfortable to talk on. I would miss being able to cradle the phone under my chin while I did other things.

  7. Cell phone culture is not really something I want to be a part of. You know what I am talking about. You're in the middle of a conversation with someone and they stop talking, check their phone, and then leave. What? Wait a minute? Weren't we just talking? Or worse, they stand there and have their conversation, leaving you completely hijacked.

  8. Or what about cell phones in the car? Just because you may have hands free, does not mean your mind is on your driving. And what about the other people in the car? When there is somebody, anybody, on the phone the radio has to go down, and nobody can talk, because you are always on the verge of losing connection.

  9. I don't like how addictive they are There are always people to call, people calling, new phones to get, new gadgets to have. I am afraid that it won't ever stop, and that good enough will never be good enough.

  10. I worry about what it teaches my kids about money Am I teaching my kids the right priorities about spending time, and spending money. How much emphasis are we putting on convenience?

I write this because our long distance rates went up. Again. So hubby is doing some cost comparisons to see if maybe a cell phone could be cheaper.


I am interested if any of you have cell phones, and if you have tips for how I can fight all of my negative feelings about them. Or if you don't have one, what made you decide against.

This post is linked up to Tune Up Tuesday at Beautiful Calling

20090927

I confess...



We use credit cards.


I know, it's shameful, but it is true. We like the money back rewards that they offer. We also like that we can download our purchases into quicken, which makes it easier to budget and track expenses.



When we were first married, hubby only used cash, and he always needed more. But we had no idea what he was spending the money on. Saving receipts was not a reliable option. So using credit cards has actually made us more accountable to how we are spending money. But this may not be true for everybody.



I also don't feel safe carrying around a bunch of cash in an envelope. Anti-credit card people recommend using a debit card instead of a credit card. But if we have our credit card paid from our checking account, how is that different from a debit card? Maybe I missed that lesson.



We also take advantage of the same as cash offers that different stores offer for making big purchases. We usually have the money in hand, but put it in an interest earning account, until it is due, and then we can pay it off in full.



But paying interest is not one of our budget items. If we had to pay a percentage every month, we would have to have a serious change in our lifestyle to just be able to afford to go into debt. It is so much cheaper to just live debt free.


Some people might consider the fact that we use credit cards as us having debt, so I admit, we are not purists. Maybe some day. I also realize that our kids may be getting a skewed viewpoint about money when they just see us using a credit card at the market or gas station. But it's not like we don't ever use cash. Besides, by the time my kids graduate, we may be on a moneyless system anyway, and this way they will have learned some self-control.

Feeling Rich #2 - Living Debt Free

I had always wanted to stay at home with my kids when they were born. My hubby and I had been married for 5 years before I got pregnant with our first baby. During those years we were a two income family. My Hubby in all his wisdom put my whole paycheck toward our mortgage. We were able to pay off our house before our baby was born.

We were also lucky enough to graduate from college without school loans. So during the first year after graduation, before the wedding, we were both working and putting money away. So when we found the perfect house, we had a substantial down payment. (Plus it was a pretty good deal)

We are also naturally fairly cheap, so our expenses are generally pretty low. However, we did manage to spend lots of money before our kids were born: new furniture, remodeling our kitchen, cars, and eating out all the time. We never carried a balance on our credit cards. We must have had good training from our parents or something.

Now that we have three kids, having zero debt is absolutely crucial. We only have one salary coming in. My Hubby has chosen to work for a place that he loves and believes in rather than going for the big money job that he doesn't like. Still, we have managed to make sure that our income is greater than our expenses.

I know many people think that it may work for us, but it won't work for them, for whatever reason. What they don't understand, is that we have made this a choice in our lives. We decided that we would say no to things that we might want, so that we can get what we need. We stopped eating out all the time. We stopped buying whatever we wanted, because we wanted something better.

20090922

Food Revolution part VII - The China Study

Now, before I go any further I need to throw out some pretty serious disclaimers.

I am not a dietitian, or a nutritionist. In fact, let me go a bit further and confess that I cheated my way through nutrition in College (please don't tell my MIL who actually is a registered dietitian)! I am in no way an expert.

I also didn't completely read the China Study, I only got through the first to chapters before it was due back at the library. So it might be possible that at the end of the book the author says, "Just kidding, we just wanted to see if you were paying attention" and then publishes different results. But some how, I don't think that is likely.

Now, with that out of the way I want to share how the China study helped us with our food revolution. See, I mentioned that my MIL is a registered dietitian, which means she know stuff about health. And, well, I don't really. I'm a pretty decent cook. I have a good instinct for substituting different flavors, and pairing food combinations that can make your mouth water. But as soon as someone starts talking free radicals and bonding, I can only picture tribal fighting in Africa.

Which makes me feel dependent on people who do know what they are talking about. The trouble is, THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE OUT THERE SAYING DIFFERENT THINGS! I hope you got that I was yelling, because that is how frustrating it can be. I don't know who to listen to, and its my kids health that we are talking about, not just my money.

Believe it or not, reading the China Study helped me relax. Which is unusual, since it makes many people uptight and they drastically change their diet from the extreme worry over cancer that they have submitted their children to previously.

We are big on dairy around here. As babies my kids would have some form of milk (breast, formula or cow depending on their age), yogurt mixed in with something (fruit, cereal, etc.), and generally some form of cheese. My MIL encouraged this because "growing kids and breastfeeding mommies need calcium." But...

Dairy is Scary
You have heard the reports and whether or not you believe them, it still makes you wary. Hormones fed to cows? Diseases?Poor treatment of animals? Puberty arriving sooner and sooner? Food Quality Testing Scandals? Doubling and tripling Prices? May cause Cancer?

What is a mother to do? Well, after reading the China Study I decided that we don't have to drink milk every meal, and that we can get calcium from sources.
Those other sources are usually vegetables, and they are not cheap, and my kids don't like them (yet), but I can make them, and I can offer them, and I don't have to worry.

So what does this have to do with teaching kids about money?
  1. Ignorance is not a good excuse for bad health
  2. I can do a little bit at a time
  3. I can increase the good stuff, even before I decrease the bad stuff
  4. Saving money is not a good enough reason to make poor eating choices
  5. It's never to late to make a good decision

20090921

Feeling Rich #3 Coming From Generous Families

This is part of a series about Feeling Rich. There are past posts #10, #9, #8, #7, #6, #5, and #4 that you can read before I finish off my top ten.

We have been blessed on both sides with parents who have done well. Both sets are working and putting money toward retirement.
My parents are small business owners that have just recently added 2 employees for the first time in 30 years. Yes, even in this slow economy their business is able to grow. My Hubby's folks were recently transferred to the main office, where their job descriptions and salaries grew.
Hubby's folks are concerned about education, so they have been setting money aside each year for our kids' college fund. For Xmas we usually put something creative on our list for them to get us. One year it was gymnastic lessons, another year we did a family membership at the YMCA, and other times we have had swimming lessons. I am thinking that in future years we may ask for music lessons, or memberships to museums.
I know some people are put off by being so blunt about gifts, but this is a win-win for both of us. I know that they don't really like to go shopping, but they want to get something for our family that we will actually use.
We can take pictures of the kids doing their special activities and Grandma and Grandpa can brag to all their friends about what great grand kids they have.
It keeps them in touch with what my kids are into. When they call on the phone, they have something to talk about.
The interest in the gift lasts for more than a day. Because lessons or passes last for months, they feel like they are getting their moneys worth.
We don't have to put it in a yard sale a few months later. The interests of kids can shift so quickly. And when you have too many toys, it is hard to keep up with whatever is the favorite of the day. But if you get a gift that you do, then you won't have to figure out what to do with it when it gets old or broken.
My folks on the other hand do like to shop. So it is a bit more tricky to balance the flow of stuff. I know they buy stuff because they love us, but we really don't need so much stuff. I don't want them to feel rejected if we say no to stuff, so here again I tend to share more specific needs.
My folks like to travel, so we will often go with them, and then they can be as extravagant as they want, because they are spending their money making memories with our kids, instead of making clutter.
They also like to take us out to eat. They know that this is an area that we try to keep tabs on in our own budget, so they feel it is special to be able to treat us everyone in a while.
I try to keep them updated on interests and sizes, so that when my mom finds a great sale, she can get whatever she wants, and knows that my kids will probably like it. I have learned to mostly get just winter stuff for my kids because we live where there is a lot of snow and my folks don't, so we have a different definition of dressing for the cold.
But it wasn't until after reading Gary Smalley's Book about Love Languages that I became more open to accepting all this generosity. Both sets of parents weren't giving us stuff because they thought we really needed it. They gave it because they loved us. Our family has chosen to live more simply than others, but that doesn't mean that we have to reject the gifts of love from our families.
It is also nice to see that our kids have not become spoiled by all this gift giving either. When grandma and grandpa come, they are ready with arms open for hugs, not presents.
This has also made us very thankful. Both families give us things that we wouldn't normally have gotten for ourselves. So when we use the gifts, we feel special and loved, which is the whole point of gifts to begin with.

20090915

Food Revolution Part IV - The Juice Wars

Luckily, for my family, I am cheap. I refuse to pay full price for juice. So, many moons ago, juice was not on sale. So I didn't buy it. That was okay, because I like to stock up when it is on sale, so we had plenty.
But it wasn't on sale the next time either.
Or the next.
And then we ran out of juice.
So you know what we did?
We drank water.
I can hardly believe it myself. I love Juice. My kids LLLLOOOOOVVVVVEEEE juice. What kind of mother does not buy enough juice for her family? What kind of mother makes them drink water?
I'll admit we went through a bit of withdrawal. We kind of quit cold turkey and took a few weeks before my kids stopped asking, "juice, please" with every meal.
There have been several sales on juice since then. I even had a coupon for juice once, and you know what I did with it? I threw it away.
We drink water now.
And we like it.
I had no idea how many benefits there would be by cutting out the juice.

1. Money, money, money ... We have saved at least $5 a week just from juice. I know, its only the cost of one cup of coffee, but still that's more than $20 a month. That $20 equals more than $240 in a year! Just for juice. I could get 3 weeks of real food for that same amount of money.

2. Better health... Now, when cold season comes along I don't have to beg my kids to drink more water. I don't have to add sugar, buy pedialight, or mix in some juice just to keep them hydrated. They drink it all by themselves. Amazing.

3. Less wasted food... Now that juice was not the main entree for lunch, snack, and dinner, my kids actually started eating real food. They were not filling up on the empty calories from juice, so they would still be hungry enough to eat whatever it was we were having for dinner. We started getting requests for seconds on food, and not juice any more.

4. More adventurous... Now that my kids were actually hungry at lunch time, I could introduce them to a wider variety of food. They actually voluntarily tried foods that I could only beg them to look at before.

5. Treats are treats... We still have the occasional juice for special occasions, or when company comes over. My kids get excited, and take their time drinking it, because they know how rare it is.

6. Adding Nutrition... We have started doing more smoothies, which everyone loves. They are even better than juice. They are cold like ice cream, but they are made from actual fruit. And I can add spinach and other goodies that my kids have not quite acquired the taste for. Yet.

7. Cleaner everything... It is so nice to not have to worry about spilled juice on the table, clothes, whatever. If water spills, it is okay, even if we don't clean it up for a while, no problem. And I am not scared to open sippy cups that I find under the backseat of the car, I know it's just water.

I never imagined that cutting out juice would have such a positive effect on our family. I thought I was just being cheap, but it turns out I was making a good decision for my whole family. Who knew? This is how teaching money and improving my kids health works for me.

Graduating Debt Free can be Life Changing

This is a highlight of a post original published at Good Financial Cents. Click the link to get the full article that I guest authored for Jeff.

Recently I ran into a former student who was at the market with her mom. We were trying to do the two minute catch-up, when her mom mentioned that she had recently gotten her SAT scores back and she was likely going to be a National Merit Scholar. The girl got a bit embarrassed by mom bragging and tried to brush it off. That is when I stopped her to say, “Graduating debt free can be life changing.”

You see, I married a National Merit Scholar, and between generous parents, multiple scholarships and working, we both graduated from college debt free. Our lives have been different from day one.

Choose a job for the fun of it

Choose a job based on location

Choose a job based on your belief in the mission

Save money for down payments

Choose where to live based on Family priorities

Be out of debt faster

Live on less


It’s amazing the choices you are able to make when the decisions are not ruled by interest rates or payment schedules.


I would really love for you to read the complete story over at Good Financial Cents. Maybe someday I will have a chance to share it here.

Feeling Rich #4 Even in a Small House in a Small Town


This is just a bit of house cleaning. I went back through my archives and realized I never finished this series about Feeling Rich. There are past posts #10, #9, #8, #7, #6, and #5 that you can read before I finish off my top ten count down.

We fell in love with our house the moment we saw it. We had only been married for 3 week. We had just returned from a moving honeymoon from California to small town Michigan. We were ready to buy our first home.
(To read more about our story, I did a guest post about the benefits of graduating debt free over at Good Financial Cents which helps explain some of our decisions on where we chose to live)

The older man who was living alone in this house was moving to an assisted living center. We were young and ambitious and saw the potential in this cute house. We didn't mind that it was 100 years old and had not been updated since 1956. It was close to Hubby's work, and it was the right price. It has the most unique fireplace on the front porch, and some great wood work in the entry.
We didn't, however, notice that there actually wasn't a shower, or a dishwasher, or that the refrigerator was in a different room. We chose to overlook the red and yellow carpet in each bedroom. We were young and ambitious when we imagined how we could transform the olive and gold kitchen
Even though we have easily put $25k+ into this house, we still feel as if we have gotten a great deal. This house has helped us choose a lifestyle that we love.
My Hubby is close to work which has many benefits. He walks/bikes to work which saves gas and commute time. He comes home for lunch, which saves huge money from eating out and time spent waiting. This also gives him time during a lunch break to run errands like the post office, or bank.
Our House is close to the town center. We can easily walk to the library, grocery store, or any of the downtown shops. There are 9 playgrounds within an easy walk or bike ride from our house.

Being centrally located is good for our social life, too. Because our house is close to the downtown, whenever we have friends in town, they often stop by just to say hi. I know this may not be a benefit to everyone, but we love spending time with friends, and not having to leave our house to have fun is just another bonus.
Back in my working days, I used to carpool. One major advantage to where we lived was that my carpool picked me up right from my front door. We didn't have to go to a more convenient meeting place.
We don't have room for more stuff. This really helps keep our expenses low. We can't buy more stuff, cause where on earth would we put it?
Despite its age, our house is easy to heat (hard to cool). We have an open floor plan, with two stories, so when we have our wood stove burning, our house gets nice and toasty. And thanks to our new, more efficient windows, it stays warmer, too.
But here is the major downside. Our house is getting too small. Our house has a kitchen, living room, office (potentially awkward bedroom), 1 1/2 bathrooms, and two bedrooms. Because of our Chalet style roof, we have major storing in our attic and basement.
Right now we have 3 kids sharing one room. Which, I know, for centuries, all around the world, people have been squeezing even more kids into even smaller places. But aren't we living in the 21st century?
So we should get a bigger house, but it isn't just the money that has kept us where we are.

20090910

Food Revolution Part V - Dinner Dilemmas



I finally came to a point where I had to admit that we may not have been eating the best foods. I also had been reading about different vitamins and how your body needs them. And that our bodies may not be getting the vitamins that they need just from the children's chewables. But I hated the fight at the table.

"Please eat more food..."
"If you eat this, then you can have a treat..."
"Just one more bite"
"But you haven't even touched your vegetables"
"I don't think you have eaten enough to be full"

I knew there were some things I needed to accept if my kids were ever going to eat good:

  1. Kids will not starve themselves. If there is food, they will eat it...eventually.
  2. Acquiring a taste may take months and months and months of trying.
  3. Eating at the table is a privilege.
  4. Just licking a food is sometimes the first step.
  5. Encourage quality eating, not quantity eating.
  6. If I don't buy it, we won't see it, and then we don't eat it
  7. Its okay to throw away food
  8. Treats are for Bravery
  9. Kids don't have to eat everything on their plate
  10. They will never eat it if I don't serve it.

So this was a process, one that we took on gradually. It turns out, that I may have been the one holding my family back this whole time. Once I started giving my kids decent food, and then showed them that I expected them to eat it, they did. Truly, it seemed like a miracle.

I was so worried about wasting food, that I was only serving my family food that I knew they would eat. I hated to throw away food, so I would just serve junk. Junk that I had because it was cheap, and not serving good stuff, because I didn't think they would eat it.

Well, now I can see that my motives were all wrong. I was feeding my family to save some money, not grow them up healthfully. I hope nobody was noticing, but I was teaching my kids that money is more important than health.

This post has been linked up with Tune up Tuesdays

20090908

Do Your Kids Need Money - 2. Buying Gifts for Others

"My mom picked it out."



Have you heard that before? From your child, or at a birthday party? It is not usually said with pride and excitement. How kids spend their money on other people is a great indicator for 1. how they feel about that person, or 2. how they feel about money.



Gary Chapman wrote an excellent book about love languages, entitled appropriately The Five Love Languages. Not to give away the ending, but one of the love languages mentioned is Gift Giving. Some people have a gift for this sort of thing.



You may find yourself with a child who loves to give gifts, is willing to spend whatever money he has to buy the best gift possible. Or you may have a child who could care less.



But unless you want your kids to join the countless others who go into debt ever Christmas only to waken to a plastic hangover in January, you will have to teach them...



How to buy gifts for Others



It is okay to set a budget At the beginning of the year, or just a general dollar amount per friend, setting a budget gives a sense of control on how much you can spend.



Do not be controlled by guilt Just because they gave you an expensive gift, does not mean you have to return the favor (or mistake). Stay within your budget.



Be Choosy You don't have to give everyone a gift. Make a list of close friends and family members that will receive gifts. Everyone else gets a card, or a freebie.



Stock up on Freebies or Cheapies Create a stock pile of gifts that would be great for anyone or any occasion. Art supplies from back to school clearance sales, new or like new items from yard sales, gifts that just weren't quite right for you, but might be perfect for someone else.



Encourage Hobbies Homemade cards or gifts are a great way to teach kids that their skills have value. Some kids may feel self conscience giving a gift they made themselves, such as a knitted scarf, but many of those feelings are learned.



Giving an Experience Some of the best gifts can't be opened. Going for a pony ride, having a girls night, or a chance to ride in a big rig may beat a $10 Barbie. Look at what resources you have, and find a way to give of your time, and not just your money.



Mass Production When you find a good deal on something, buy several, and do not be ashamed to give two people the same thing. Whether it is a great recipe for granola, or a copy of a great book you will be glad to get it all done at once.



Plan Ahead Good deals are not found at the eleventh hour, only junk. Keep in mind who you are buying for early in the year, so that when you see something on sale, you can buy it. Just don't hide it in your closet and forget about it until after its too late.



It is good for kids to learn how to do these things for themselves. As your kids earn money, one of the things that they should be saving for is gifts for others.

I know that my kids get way too many presents for Birthdays, Christmas, and its been more than a month since I have seen you so here's a present. Many of the things that my kids want, I tell them they should put it on their Christmas list. So a lot of the money that they earn, could go towards buying things for others.



Even if you don't think your kids are old enough to be earning and spending their own money on gifts, they can practice the act of unselfish giving. When it is time for a little brother or sister to have a birthday, your older child can "shop" from their out grown toys, until they find something that would be just right for their sibling.

My daughter got this bike for Christmas right before she turned 3. My little Prince wanted that bike so bad, despite not being able to reach the pedals.

Fast forward 18 months, and now it is his turn to be 3, and Miss Love knew exactly what she wanted to give him for his birthday. She secretly cleaned the tricycle up, and with mommies help put blue streamers on the sides, and a Lightning McQueen sticker on the back.

TaDa! It had been transformed into his very own race car bike. He was so excited, and Big sister was so proud to be able to give him a gift that she knew he would love, and it was 100% from her.

She didn't have to ask me for any money. She gave from what she already had. She learned that it's not the amount of money spent that counts, it's the amount of love.

And not having to do last minute birthday shopping? That works for me.

20090901

Do Your Kids Need Money - 1. Giving Tithe and Offering

This is part of a series Do Your Kids Need Money? No and Yes

I wrote about the reasons for giving tithe and offering in a previous post: Maybe you should read this first so if you have questions about giving tithe, you can read my rationale, even if you don't go to church.

This post is about why your kids need money for tithe. I am assuming that you believe in giving, if not, check the link above.

The act of giving does not quite have the same impact if it is not your own money. If it is earned, it is not quite as easy to give it away. The lesson comes with the sacrifice.

Kids need to earn their own money, so that they can practice being generous with it. Some kids will naturally be tightfisted with money (or any small object for that matter), while others may easily give it all away. So it is a skill that is taught.

I teach kids to give tithe when they can count objects to ten. Not just say their numbers to ten, but actually do one to one matching while they count. For some kids, they can have it mastered by 3, while others still struggle until they are 6.

The easiest way is to start with 10 pennies. Count each one. And then go back to #1. Say, "#1 belongs to God." Pick it up and put it in a different pile, jar, or envelope. The you can count out #s 2-10 and sort them however you want.

If you have more than 10, you start over at #1. Every time you say 1, you put it in the pile for God. Even if you only have 11 pennies. There would be 2 pennies for God, and 9 pennies for everything else. If you want to start counting at #2 when you count the next time, you can, but I have never found it possible to give God too much.

But something happens in that little heart when he takes out the money that he has earned with his own two hands, and gives it away without getting anything in return.

It would be easier to just grab some change, or a loose dollar bill from your wallet to give to your kid for when that offering plate comes by, but we didn't sign on to this job because it was the easy job, now did we?

We are teaching our kids about more than just money, we are teaching an attitude of gratitude.

Find more stories of gratitude @ gratituesday with heavenlyhomemakers.

20090831

Do Your Kids Need Money - The Hard Answer

Yes.
Your kids need their own money. Even fairly young children need their own money. They need it mostly for practice, since legally, parents are financially responsible for their children until a certain age. Money is for more than just buying candy, though.

Here is my top ten list for what kids need money for:
  1. Giving Tithe and Offering
  2. Buying gifts for others
  3. Buying stuff that they want
  4. Doing things that they want to do
  5. Paying fines
  6. Hiring out help
  7. Replacing things that get broken.
  8. Buying clothes
  9. Buying food or paying to have it made
  10. Paying rent or utilities
  11. Paying Taxes
  12. Paying for transportation

Okay so this was more than 10!

As your kids get older, you will decide when to add responsibilities to their list. Some parents choose to pay for all of these things until their kids move out, while others may have their kids take on a portion of this list each year until they are doing all of it. I will go into more detail on each of these later

20090830

Do Your Kids Need Money - The Easy Answer

No.
Your kids need food, shelter, and love. They can't eat money, it won't protect them from the elements, and it can't kiss them good night.

Now with that said, we can get down to the basics. Unless you plan on your kids living with you the rest of their lives (nothing against those grown kids who do), there will come a time that your kids will discover that having money makes getting those necessities much easier. Well, except for the love, of course. Money can sometimes make that one harder to get...

It is however humanly possible to go your whole life without earning a cent. There are many tribes in Papua New Guinea who have never seen a paycheck, let alone a dollar, but I am going to assume that you live in a society that does actually trade money for goods and services.

That does, however, make things more complicated. So next time we are going to look at the not so easy answer.

I'll give you a hint ...It starts with a Y and ends with an S.

20090826

Book of the Week - Corduroy



Corduroy


by Don Freeman

Quick Synopsis
Corduroy is a bear for sale at a department store. He has lost a button, so he goes on an adventure to find his lost button after the store has closed. The night watchman returns Corduroy to the toy department in time for him to be bought by Lisa. This classic book can still be found at most major book stores and libraries.

Using this book to teach kids about money
  • First, I like to imagine that Lisa got a discount on Corduroy, since he was missing a button. The book doesn't actually say so, but this would be a great time to teach that little lesson.
  • I like what Lisa's mom teaches about delayed gratification. She wanted Lisa to wait until they got home to see if she had enough money.
  • What a great example to show how Lisa was willing to wait before she bought Corduroy. There are no tantrums or whining.
  • I also like to emphasize how Lisa had to go home and count her money to see if she had enough of her own to buy Corduroy.
  • Lisa paid cash for Corduroy. I know this book was written before credit cards were so prevalent, but that doesn't mean that you can't teach the lesson that it is always better to buy something with money that you actually have, rather than buying it on credit.

Isn't it great that such a classic book can still have lessons to teach to the next generation?

This post has been linked up with http://www.wearethatfamily.com/

20090825

Food Revolution part IV - Confession Time

This is part of a series about how money and its effcts on our food or choices. You can start here, or from the Beginning, Part II, or Part III.

So I realize that I sound like someone who has always enjoyed eating good food, and its is just a matter of teaching my kids healthy, yet frugal eating habits. This is so not the case. I have been on a journey of my own, mostly begun by my desire to have kids that make good food choices.
This is where I have come from:

  • I am not eating that. I don't care if you bought it with your own money, fixed and prepared it on your own time. I am not going to eat it.
  • Okay, I will try a bite as long as it doesn't have: zucchini, or any other squash, tofu, onions, cooked greens, bell peppers, or, of course, meat.
  • Sure I'll try it, just don't tell me what is in it.
  • Really? It's good for you? Are you sure? (Minimum 3 different sources)
  • If you make it, I will eat it, but I will not pay good money for it.
  • I will buy it, but I won't make it from scratch, it is too much work.
  • I don't think we can afford to buy that kind of food anymore.
  • Okay, okay, I will experiment with some cooking from scratch, after all it is way cheaper.
  • Here try this, it is so good for you and easy to make.

The funny thing is that this is the process that I require for each food. Though with every food it does get a bit easier.

My current hang up is home made bread. My mother in law has been making us bread occasionally for years. It was very good for you. The first couple years we gave it away to other people, because neither my husband nor I would eat it. Then we started using it when making meatloaf or other such recipes. Then we started giving it to our kids. Recently we discovered that it was pretty good toasted with lots of butter. It wasn't until this last month that I was honestly thankful when she gave us a loaf. I just need to practice slicing it.

That saying "best thing since sliced bread" is too true. I will not consider homemade bread conquered until I can buy the ingredients, knead the dough, bake the bread and slice it ALL BY MYSELF.

I'm giving myself at least a year on this one, maybe more.

I'm also hoping that eventually I will teach my kids that paying for sliced bread is silly, when you can do it yourself. Some day...

This is linked in with Tune up Tuesday with Beautiful Calling