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family finances

Children learn about money, especially young children, by observing what their parents and other respected adults in their lives do.  The information the soak up in watching us with our money will greatly impact their own opinions of money down the road.  Whether they are spenders or savers, logical with money or irrational with it will depend in large part on what they learn about money growing up.  Even if you don’t actually talk to your children about you will still be teaching them something about it.

Sadly, there isn’t much teaching going on when it comes to money, especially in school.  Unless parents sit down and talk to their children about money, make it a point to share what they know, what they’ve learn, children will likely only have those observances from their childhood to fall back on.  Most schools do not specifically teach children about money, about the value of money, about what spending versus saving means.  Although this is valuable and necessary life information it often gets over looked.

There are many things you can do as a parent to help teach your children about money.  Things like:

  • Taking them to the bank or ATM with you so they can witness and learn about some of the different transactions that take place involving money.
  • Taking them shopping with you and teach them about spending wisely.
  • Giving your child a little bit of money and teaching them about saving versus spending.
  • Giving your child a means to save money, like a bank account of their own, and teaching them about the importance of saving up for big purchases.
  • Letting your child watch you pay bills and talking with them about using the money in our accounts to pay for our expenses.
  • Teaching your child about spending wisely by clipping coupons, looking for sale items, etc.
  • Talking candidly with your child about money and not making it a hidden, secret topic.

There are some great online resources that include activities you can do with your child to help teach them about money.  Here are a few:

By teaching your children about money, sharing your financial experiences with them, you are giving them some of the tools they will need to be successful in their own life.

Every parent knows that back to school shopping can get expensive.  Between the new clothes, the new shoes and all the school supplies it can really add up.  Many State governments offer parents a bit of a break by offering a tax holiday in the weeks leading up to the beginning of the new school year.  Some states offer a weekend of tax free shopping for certain items while others offer a whole week.

Listed below is are the States that offer tax holidays including when the holiday is for 2009 and on what items it applies.  You can always contact your local state government if you have questions about the tax holiday in your state.

Alabama: August 7-9 on clothing-$100, computers-$750, books-$30, school supplies-$50

Connecticut: August 16-22 on clothing and footwear-$300

District of Columbia: August 1-9 on clothing-$100, school supplies-$100

Georgia: July 30-Aug 2 on school supplies-$20, clothing-$100, computers-$1500

Iowa: August 7-8 on clothing-$100

Mississippi: July 31-Aug 1 on clothing and footwear-$100

Missouri: August 7-9 on clothing-$100, computers-$3500, school supplies-$50

New Mexico: August 7-9 on clothing-$100, computers-$1000, school supplies-$15

North Carolina: Aug 7-9 on clothing-$100, school supplies-$100, computers-$3500

Oklahoma: August 7-9 on clothing-$100

South Carolina: August 7-9 on clothing, school supplies and computers (no price limit specified)

Tennessee: August 7-9 on clothing-$100, school supplies-$100, computers-$1500

Texas: August 21-23 on clothing, backpacks and school supplies-$100

Virginia: August 7-9 on clothing-$100, school supplies-$20

The idea of tax holidays is to ease the burden faced by many parents of trying to afford all of the gear and supplies necessary for back to school.  It isn’t necessarily much but every little bit helps.  Of course, this also means you’ll be shopping the same weekend as everyone else in your state for back to school supplies to be prepared for crowds!!

Do you usually take advantage of the tax holiday offered in your state?  Do you find it makes much difference in how much you have to spend?

The holidays can be a very expensive time of year if we’re not careful. With gifts, big holiday meals, cards, parties, the list is endless; you can find yourself spending a fortune and in credit card debt come the new year. Even in good financial times it makes sense to trim that holiday budget and plan not to overspend, it can become even more important in a bad economy.

Here are a few tips for keeping the holidays fun but a little less expensive this year.

  • Make some homemade gifts that you can give as gifts to teachers, neighbors, the host of parties you will be attending, or anyone on your Christmas list. You can get the kids involved in this project as well!
  • Set realistic expectations for what your children can expect as gifts for Christmas. Setting expectations early will ensure Christmas is still fun for all.
  • Don’t overdo it on the Christmas clothing purchases. You probably don’t need a new outfit for every Christmas party you will be attending. Use hand-me-downs for your children where you can.
  • Instead of buying gifts for everyone in your extended family consider drawing names. This will help save a ton of money.
  • Reduce Christmas travel where you can. If you usually travel to several different places during Christmas consider cutting back a bit. Maybe have everyone to your place, or if that isn’t possible just explain that you can’t make it every where this year.
  • Have your children make homemade gifts for each other and grandparents. A great Christmas ornament or a homemade Christmas book.

It can be so easy to overspend during the holidays. Buying great gifts for everyone you love is fun, but you can still enjoy the wonderful feeling of giving without going overboard.

If you haven’t done so already this is a great time to begin teaching your children about money. With the economy on questionable ground we are all saving more, spending less, spending more consciously and revisiting our budgets. Children have a hard time grasping the concept of money and the value of things unless their parents take the time to teach them. As you revisit your budget, put a little more in savings and shop more carefully talk to your children about what you are doing. The more they learn now the better of they will be in the future when they are managing their own household.

How you approach teaching your children about money will depend on your child’s learning style and most importantly your child’s age. It is never too early to begin talking to your children about money. Even little toddlers can learn a few things about money. The older your child is the more you can get into.

Here are a few suggestions on things you can do to teach your children about money:

  • Most importantly start a savings account for them. Consider taking them to the bank with you as there will be a lot for them to learn. Make sure they go with you anytime you are putting money into their savings account, as they will feel more connected to it.
  • For your younger children, get them a piggy bank and encourage them to save coins. Give them the change from your pocket or purse to save in their piggy bank.
  • Encourage your child to save at least some of their allowance, gift money and any other money they receive.
  • Get your child to pick out something that they really want and have them save up to buy it for themselves. If they pick what they are saving for they are more likely to be excited about saving for it. As they put money away for the special item talk to them about how much they have saved and how much more they have to go. Explain to them that the more they spend the longer it will take to save for their special item.
  • Talk to your children about the family expenses. You can do this while paying the bills, while at the grocery store, or while working on the family budget. This one works best with older children, but younger children can learn a few things too.
  • Get your child to help you clip coupons and explain to them about how important it is to save money on the things you buy.
  • Purchase a book about money for your child, like “The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money“. Children learn a lot from books.
  • For your older children, start to teach them the difference between a checking and savings account. You can do this with teens by getting them to pay a few of their own bills, like gas, car insurance, or buying their own back to school clothes.
  • Most importantly talk about money as a family. Be open about your family finances and use every opportunity you can to teach your children about money.

The more your children know about money, including how to save it and how to spend it wisely, the better off they will be as they go out into the world and begin managing their own money. Teaching your children about money is a great gift you can give them.

How do you teach your children about money? Have you found something that works really well for your family?

These are trying financial times. It seems like every time you turn on the news or read the paper it is just more bad news about the economy. The suffering goes far beyond wall street and hits the average family where it hurts most, they pocket book. Most families these days are doing what they can to save a few dollars here and there. For some it is just good planning for others it is necessary because of financial struggles.

Saving money on your family’s grocery bill can make a huge difference. Food prices are rising faster than your paycheck so find a few ways to save some money the next time you head to the grocery store can be a big help with the family budget.

Here are a few tips to think about the next time you head to the grocery store.

  • Shop on a full stomach. If you are hungry when you go to the grocery store you are much more likely to buy more than you need, especially expensive snack foods.
  • Shop with a list. Trying to remember what you need at the grocery store can be a challenge without a list and often times results in buying more than you need.
  • Shop alone. Having your spouse or the kids along tends to result in more stuff in the grocery cart than you intended.
  • Know your grocery store and how grocery stores work. Knowing the layout of your store can not only make your trip more efficient it can also make it cheaper as you can avoid those areas of the store where the most display items are. Stores put up displays of high profile, high cost items in areas where they are most likely to catch your eye. If you know the store is doing this it is easier to avoid.
  • Buy store or generic brands when possible. For the most part these no-name brands are just as good as the name brand but will cost you much less.
  • Use coupons or store discount cards. Some stores even print the amount you saved at the bottom of the receipt. You’ll feel good knowing you saved some extra money.
  • Check the unit price and buy in bulk when it is cost effective for your family.
  • Make fewer trips to the grocery store. Try to go only once a week instead of stopping by several times a week. You are more likely to pick up extras that you don’t really need when you shop more frequently.

Making a few changes to the way you shop and what you buy can make a big difference on the bottom line of your next grocery bill. Saving money on your family budget is a good thing no matter what the economy is doing, but in trying financial times it is even more important.

What tricks do you use to help save money on your family’s grocery bill?