Feeling Rich #6 We are easy to entertain

Remember those days when you could give a kid a card board box and they could entertain themselves for hours? I hope that when it comes to teaching my kids about money, they will have already developed these habits just from watching us.

The Joys of cheap entertainment:

We like to play games. See 7. Cheap friends

We like to go to museums. See 8. Go Ahead and Buy the Pass

We like to go to parks, the library, and our local YMCA (the first two are generally free. The YMCA was not necessarily free, but it was our Xmas present from Grandma and Grandpa, so we are determined to at least get their money's worth)

Yes, we have our favorite shows. We even invite friends over to watch favorites together.

We have a regular babysitter. She is a friend from our church, who not only loves our kids, but wants to watch them for us, for free.) Sometimes we kid swap with other people, so that they can have cheap nights out, too.

We take advantage of FREE POPCORN night at our local movie theater. It is almost as good as the 2 for $5 night on Mondays. (Which we would do, but our sitter is not available on Mondays) Cheap theaters are only one benefit of living in a small town. See 4. We live in a small house in a small town.

We also look for matinee or reduced price seating for shows and ballets that we are interested.

Our local college and High Schools also put on quality shows, and we like to support them whenever possible.

Our local sports team also has discount nights to encourage attendance. We keep these marked on our calendar, so we know what is going on.

We read the local small town newspaper. This usually has good information on local events, fairs, festivals and fundraisers.

We subscribe to e-newsletters to our favorite places, so that we can get updates on special events happening in our area.

We include eating out as part of our entertainment budget. Many people put this in the food category, but since we are perfectly capable of cooking our own food, going to a restaurant is for entertainment, and not nutrition.

We plan outings in advance to take advantage of cheap options when going to the city, i.e. train v. parking; packing a lunch v. buying; using coupons, passes or free days; bringing plenty of snacks so you can choose what you want to splurge on.

Our kids are at the age that they enjoy play groups or story times, like the free ones at the library, book stores, local schools or churches.

We have a Hobby night in our weekly schedule for everyone to work on their own personal hobby. I enjoy scrapbooking, my husband likes to draw and build high end audio equipment, my daughter likes to draw, and my two sons like to play with model trains. (okay, really, its Thomas the Tank Engine) This way we can all be doing what we love, sort of together, and see what each other is working on.

What are some cheap ways that you like to entertain your family?


Our Food Revolution

Now I know that this blog is technically about money, and not food, but so many of our choices are motivated by money, that I wanted to share our food journey with you.
I am embarrassed to admit how far we have come on this journey. I cringe when I think about being awake at 2AM with my two year old daughter trying to get her to eat fishy crackers.
I want to blame this one on the doctors. The ones that looked at a perfectly healthy little girl that had been on the 5th percentile since the moment she entered this world, and they decided that she needed to gain weight. I say they, because due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to switch doctors a couple times. I am also ashamed to admit that I switched doctors for totally selfish reasons, driving distance and our doctor moving away, rather than good reasons, like maybe I should get a second opinion. Anyway, THEY kept saying she needs to gain weight, you will need to bring her back here for a weight check, maybe you should increase her fat intake. And on and on. It's enough to make any new mom worry. And I did.
Money was not our motivation, getting our daughter's weight up was. Looking back now, I can see that her health, or teaching her good habits must not have been very high on our list. We just gave her whatever she would eat, whenever she would eat. If she refused to eat, we would search the cupboard to find something, anything, to get her to eat.
Let me just say, that we created a monster. Luckily, she is a good girl, and we didn't have the screaming tantrums that we were asking for. But we were able to manage teaching her how to be a picky eater. All she wanted was juice, fishy crackers, or yogurt.
It is exciting to see how far we have come. Now my kids aren't quite to the point of independently choosing the healthiest option, but at least we are headed in the right direction. I am also more aware of how our food and eating choices teaches my kids about money, and health, and finding a balance between them.
I will share more of our journey in a future post. In the mean time, I would love to hear your stories of things you cannot believe you have let your kids eat.


Teaching Kids About Money - Blog Hop '09

I love reading blogs about new ideas. I have learned so many new things, and it encourages me to be a better mom, wife, christian, friend, and earthling. I love kids, money, and teaching; so I have turned all those passions into my blog about teaching money to kids. I believe that we are ALWAYS teaching kids about money. But I want to help you to be aware of what it is they are learning, and maybe give you some ideas that can help you be proactive. Parenting on purpose. So check out my posts and stick around for a comment or two.

What will you find here? I will share with you what has worked for us, or other true stories, a cheesy money joke, a verse to hide inyour heart, sometimes a recipe or activity, a story book, or even a review of my favorite things - all with the sole purpose of teaching kids about money.

I am so glad you have come.

Cheesy Money Joke

Knock, Knock
Who's there?
Ken, who?
Ken who lend me a dollar till next week?

I warned you that it was cheesy, didn't I?

This could be a good conversation starter to warn kids about the many people who may ask them for money. Friends, family or even complete strangers may target kids, especially if they are shown to be good with money. Practicing with your kids ahead of time, so that they know what to say will help them not be taken advantage of, or get into a tough pattern with friends.


Feeling Rich #7 Cheap friends - Worth More than Gold

Honestly, nothing saves us more money than having equally cheap friends. I also love what it teaches my kids about money. We spend time with people who have similar values and standards. Here are my ABC's of great friends:

At home. Staying with kids would be nearly impossible without the network of other friends who are also trying to stay at home. We can still have the social interactions without having the huge commute.

Borrowing. It would seem silly to buy a tool when I know that a friend has a perfectly good one. This is reasonable, because I know that our friends would also borrow from us.

Competition. Or lack of it. It is so nice to have Friends that are not trying to brag about jobs or buys that you can't compete with. When they ask, it is because they are interested, not just looking for ways to compare.

Deals. You know you have a good friend when they call and tell you about a deal that they just saw on something you want or need. Nothing says I love you more than "I saved this coupon for your favorite chips for you."

Entertaining. We love to play games. And even more, we love to play games with friends. The double bonus is that we can spend time together and it costs nearly nothing.

Food. Why is so much social time spent around food? Luckily having cheap friends means that they don't mind eating at home, cooking together, or pitching in for pizza.

Gifts. The joys of cheap friends means no pressure to buy gifts that you can't afford. Practical is so much more...practical.

Help. My husband and other Dads formed a co op group that would trade work once a month on Sundays. Let me tell you that us wives encouraged it as much as possible. A bunch of guys coming over to work on a honey-do list. Sign me up! I will make breakfast, do laundry, you name it.

Ideas. We have gotten so many money saving ideas from our friends. We ask them about cheap people to do windows, or fun places to go with kids. We take their opinions seriously, because we know they share similar values that we do.

Okay, that's all I've got for now. If you have more ideas, I would be happy to add them to my list.


I Hope It's in the Genes

We just returned from a successful trip at the blueberry patch with Auntie and Grandma. My husbands family has a long history of picking from this field, and Grandma was giving telling us stories in the car on the return trip.
Her Grandpa, my Kids Great-great-grandpa was well known for being quite good with money. She was telling about a trip his family had taken to visit some friends in Kansas.
Apparently this family was quite well to-do, selling grain elevators to the nearby farms. Because of the tough times in those days, this family wanted to treat all the kids at the local store. So they gave each kid a nickel and told them to get whatever they wanted. The other kids ran to the candy counter and had little baggies filled with candy. Great-great grandpa instead went over to the shelf and picked out a beautiful vase. He wanted something that he could keep and reuse.
This same great-great-grandpa spent a whole summer when he was twelve years old picking strawberries for a nearby farm. At the end of the summer he spent all of his earnings on a bedroom set. Not your usual choice for a boy of 12! He had taken seriously the admonition that a young man must plan ahead for the future.
Now, Grandma, who saves EVERYTHING, not only still has the vase and the bedroom set, she also has these great stories to pass on to my kids.
I like what this teaches my kids about money, and I like how this teaches my kids about money. Every family has a money story or two, why don't you find one to keep on hand for when your kids need a distraction. They will love to hear about when mommy or grandma was a little girl.
And here's the world's easiest Blueberry syrup recipe:
3 c. Blueberries
2/3 c. light corn syrup
dash of salt
Put all ingredients in a blender, cover and run on "liquid" setting until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let boil 5 minutes, constantly stirring.
Serve warm over waffles, pancakes, or even ice cream!
Makes 3 1/2 cups. You can also chill this and reheat it for later


Hide This Verse in Your Heart - Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to hurt you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

Okay I admit it. This is my favorite verse in the Bible. The promise mentioned hear just speak to me in so many ways. I would like to share how I have been blessed by this verse, especially with money, and teaching that to my kids.

For I know...says the Lord. Isn't it great that we get this promise from an all powerful God?
For I know - He doesn't just think it, or guess it, He KNOWS it!
For I know the plans - I am so glad that our God has my crazy life figured out, because I know I sure don't.
the plans I have for you - what amazes me, is that he has a different plan for each of us.
Plans to prosper you - what? God wants me to prosper? I could live with that.
and not hurt you - So I should stop blaming him when things don't go the way I want?
plans to give you hope - But if God has plans to give me hope, what possibly could I worry about? What would I do with all that extra time, if it is not spent worrying?
and a future - If God has plans for my future, then why am I spending so much time trying follow my own plans for the future.
give you hope and a future - He's going to just give it to me? I don't have to be extra good and earn it?

That last point is what I want to focus on for teaching money to our kids. NO matter how much we save (or don't save), whether it be money, energy, time, or the environment, God still has plans for us, to give us hope and a future.
It gives me peace to know that God has a plan, but it also is relieving to know that there is not enough money in the world to earn His love. It is a free gift.
So when my kids watch their Daddy going to work, and their Mommy looking for coupons, I want to teach them that God has a plan. And that's what we do here.


Book of the Week - Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Kids of all ages will love this book, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett. You can find this book at any major bookstore, or check it out from your local library. This book was also featured in the Cheerios Spoonful of Stories campaign to give every child a book of their own, and came free in the cereal box.

Quick Synopsis

The small town of Chewandswallow doesn't have grocery stores or gardens. They get all of their food from the weather. They don't know what will be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner until the weather man gives his forecast.

Wild things start to happen in the town when the weather starts bringing wacky food, and the townspeople have to escape for their lives!

How to Teach Money to Kids With this Book

Usually teachers turn to this book when they are teaching a lesson on weather, but I think they are overlooking a great resource when it comes to teaching kids about money and food sources. Now, of course, this is a silly book about where we our food comes from. But it is the perfect book for starting the discussion.

Just as silly as it is to think of our food falling from the sky in a hurricane, so is assuming that our milk only comes from a carton, or even that pineapples grow nearby. This may lead to some fun exploring with your kids to find out where some of their favorite foods come from.

Knowing where your food comes from is an early step in the journey of making good choices about food and money. Discovering that the ingredients for favorite meals, like macaroni and cheese for example, have traveled many miles, from several different places may help kids see how it could be cheaper to make your own.

Cutting grocery costs is one of the most popular ways of trying to save money when families are trying to get (or stay) out of debt. It is also the area most visible to kids. They see the choices that you are making, and having them be part of the discussion, teaches them about money.

Which is what we are all about here.

Sony pictures has made a movie about this book, liberally interpreted it looks like from the trailer, but still a lot of fun. You can check it out here:


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Feeling Rich #8 Go Ahead and Buy the Pass

Buying Membership passes are a win-win for everybody. Despite their great value, I know that membership passes are a luxury that many cannot afford.
This is exactly why a museum/garden/center pass is at the top of our Christmas (or birthday) list!
This is such a great idea for grandma and grandpa, because:

  • they know that we will use it,

  • we won't just put it in a yard sale (or the trash) later,

  • when they come to visit they have something to do together, and

  • they have ideas of what to talk about on the phone to keep everyone feeling connected.

Now some may not have the same generous family that we do, and there have been some years that we made the decision that it was worth it to say no to some extras, so that we could save up for the pass. Here are some reasons why:

There is nothing more fun than cheap entertainment Most memberships can be paid for within three visits. So, the more you go, the more you have saved.

Getting your moneys worth By owning a pass, you may be more likely to go often. Since you have already paid to go, you can drop in for little trips, rather than trying to make a whole exhausting day of it.

Support Your Community Your membership does more than just get you in the door. It also supports the museum /garden/center that is a valuable part of your community.

Many centers do more than just entertain its patrons. They are often resources for schools, scouts, retirees, and more.

Your membership dollars at work When you purchase a membership, you help the center budget for the year. It can count on a certain number of dollars for the year or season, and can invest in new programs based on its guaranteed memberships.

Also, many museums or centers can apply for certain grant monies if they reach a regular level of community memberships.

It will make you smarter Regardless of the size of the museum or center that you go to, the more often you go, the more you will learn. You will find something new each time you go. Besides, what else are you going to do, watch TV?

Make new friends When you go to a museum often, you will discover the joys of making museums friends. Those people that you see almost every time you go.

Save Money Besides the discount on the visit itself, many memberships also include a percentage off gift shop or concession purchases.

Membership has its privileges By joining one museum, you may be joining a reciprocating list of museum/gardens across the country. Your paid pass will get you in for free or at a reduced price to other places when you travel.

Put your money where your heart is By purchasing a pass to an aquarium, zoo, garden, etc. you are telling them that you support their mission. You are becoming a part of the process that may save endangered species, the rain forest, or the arts.

We are also teaching our kids that there is value in knowledge. Money isn't just for getting more and more stuff. Money can also be used to learn, do or see new things.

This post is linked to http://lifeasmon.com/


A Verse to Hide in your Heart

In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people.

Colossians 3:23 NCV

This verse has so many lessons in it for us, and for our kids:

IN all the work -So yes, that means while you are actually doing the work

In ALL the work - not just the work you like

In all the work YOU are doing - Okay Moms and Dads this verse is for us too, not just the kids

work the BEST you can - we are being called to do better than the every one else

work the best YOU CAN - don't beat your self up, if you can't do it perfect.

work as if you were doing it FOR THE LORD- make you work be an act of worship, remembering that we have been called to be servants of all.

NOT FOR PEOPLE - while our work can be done as an example and a ministry to others, we do our work, because we love the Lord, not because we are being watched by our neighbors.

So teaching our kids to be happy helpers involves many things, but what does it teach them about money?
I would like to exchange just one word in this verse to help focus this on our lesson.

In all the work that you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you are doing it for the Lord, not for MONEY.

Having integrity in your work comes from your motivation, and it all starts here.


TILT- Investments that pay Dividends, a.k.a. Perenials

I love Perennials.

1. I love that I never have to plant them again.

2. I love that they come back every year.

3. I love that they multiply on their own.

4. I love that somebody else planted the peonies years before we even bought the house, and yet we still have beautiful flowers every year.

5. I love that we have so many flowers that I can have fresh ones for the whole season.

6. I love that I can cut them and give them away.

7. I love that I can dig them up and split them to share with someone else.

8. I love that I can also sell them.

9. I love that I got them free from a friend.

10. I love that investments can be beautiful.

11. I love that perennials are a tangible investment, that I won't lose if CEOs get greedy.

12. I love that my raspberry and strawberry investments are also good for me, and not just my pocketbook.

13. I love that I can teach my kids about investments with something that they can see, touch, and taste.

These are the thirteen things that I love about perennial fruits and flowers. They are an excellent source for teaching kids about money, and that's what we do here.

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Feeling Rich #9 We Only Need One Car

The key to only needing one car is to actually decide that you don't need two cars. This is more than semantics. I want to share with you some of the benefits that we have found by being a single car family:

Lower Our Expenses When you figure the purchase price, insurance cost, gas, and up-keep, having a second car would significantly affect our bottom line.

Go Ahead and Buy the Bike When we had two cars, getting a motorcycle seemed like a mid-life crisis move for my husband. But when we got rid of the second car, the motorcycle was suddenly a practical purchase, and one that Hubby thought was a just a dream.

Make Driving More Deliberate We have to schedule our lives more to make sure we don't have conflicting appointments. And one person does all the errands all at once, instead of splitting them up.

Learn to Share We have become more generous with offering rides to other people, because we know how nice it is to get a ride with someone else. We try not to be the ones always asking for rides, so we pay it forward by giving rides whenever we can.

Stop Trying to Keep up with the Joneses It is okay to say no to things, and not having a car is and excellent excuse to get started. We have had to be more selective with our time. Say no to some extra curricular activities, say no to a second car, say no to spending all your time in your car.

Get to Know more People You can carpool with complete strangers or you can catch a ride with friends. Either way, you are going to get to know them better. Even if you are not much of a talker, you will still learn new things, like, what do they listen to, do they eat in their car, are they clean freaks or short-tempered.

Walk We have gotten to know our community better by walking around it. We shop and entertain ourselves locally, and have discovered some new parks andplaygrounds that are within biking distance.

Save the Environment We actually drive less (not to mention the exercise you might actually get)

Have less Stuff Because we only have one car (actually it's a mini-van), we don't need that one more thing. You know what I am talking about. That extra umbrella, for the extra car, two sets of car seats, just in case. Or the air fresheners, or the maps, and sun glasses that get collected, because you want to have a pair in each car.

Now we happen to live in a great small town near my husbands work. I get to keep the car with me while he walks or bikes to work. We used to have a second car (really it was a jeep, but my two year old will not be reading this, so we don't have to be picky) , and once we sold it, we have never looked back.

We have gotten questions about how we do it, the most common being: What do you do if you have an emergency, and your car is gone? Well really the answer is simple. If we have an emergency, we call 911 just like everybody else. We also have friends and neighbors that live close by that we can depend on if something major, but not life threatening happens.

But now the question is What are we teaching our kids about money?

1. We don't need everything

2. Sometimes, going with out is okay

3. The best way to be prepared for the worst is to invest in people, not things.


Book of the Week - One Grain of Rice

The Book

One Grain of Rice By Demi
Can be found at your local library or any major book store. (We got our copy through the scholastic school book ordering program, which is a great way to get paperback books at an extremely good price. Even if you don't have kids in school, this is a good resource worth checking into your local school to see if you can join their order. Teachers get points to use the points to get books for their classroom.)

Quick Synopsis

A little girl saves her hungry people from a greedy rajah by being smart. She takes a moment of serendipity and turns it into an even greater opportunity and teaches everyone a lesson at the same time. The Rajah in all his greed willingly grants the girl a simple reward. Even though the girl ends up with all of the rice, she is not greedy in return and the Rajah learns his lesson.

How to Teach Kids About Money

For even little kids, they will understand how the greedy rajah loses all of his rice. This also teaches a great lesson on how the girl could have been greedy and taught the rajah a lesson, but instead she shared with everyone. The girl was able to recognize when she had enough, which is more than the rajah was able to do.
As kids get older they will be able to grasp the wonders of compounding interest. This story does an excellent job of giving a visual example of what can happen when you save. Now you will have to be clear that interest in a bank does not compound daily like the rice in a story. And you will be lucky if you can find a bank that will give you the same percentage of return, but it is a great example of a concept that may be hard for some to grasp.
The One Grain of Rice could easily be used to share how important saving even the smallest amount of money can be.

Here is a recipe for a rice salad that is perfect for a summer time treat and companion for this book:

Summer Time Rice Salad

1. Combine in a large bowl:
6 Cups Fresh Torn Spinach
2 Cups Cooled Cooked Wild Rice
1 Cup Green Grapes Cut In Half
1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds

2. mix and then pour over:
1/4 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Pure Honey
2 Teaspoons Fresh Basil
Pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper

3. Sprinkle on top:
1 Cup Raspberries
2 Oranges Peeled And Sectioned

4. Serve as a side dish or a main course salad

(your favorite oil and vinegar dressing can be substituted for step #2)

Check out more ideas at WFMW at We are That Family.

Please share comments. I always love to hear what people think.