5 Fun Ways to Educate Your Child about Money This Summer

Ah, summer.  Your kids get to take a break from the school grind, and as a parent, you get to take a break from the homework grind.  While your child will likely have fun hanging out with friends, playing sports, going to the movies, and reading, now is the time for you to sneak in a little summer education.

Teaching our kids about money is one of the most important things we can do as parents.  What our children learn about money and see us do with money will likely affect them for years to come.  This summer, take the time to educate your children about money while making it fun.

TD Bank’s Summer Reading Program

Educate your child about moneyTD Bank has a summer reading program where your kids will earn $10 if they read 10 books.  TD Banks are mainly on the East coast, so not all kids can benefit from the reading program.  However, all kids can take advantage of TD Bank’s summer reading list for kids from Kindergarten to 7th grade.

The list is broken down by grade level, and each book suggested has a financial lesson.  For instance, one of the books for 7th grade is Money Hungry, a story about a young girl who is driven by greed.

TD Bank also has a section for parents that includes a story that you can read to children along with worksheets you can do with them.  In addition, there is a virtual stock game that your kids can play to practice investing in the stock market.

Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, Jr.

Dave Ramsey takes his advice and rolls it into a package for children.  Financial Peace, Jr. includes audio CDs as well as a workbook.  There are also cash envelopes, stickers, and other fun activities for kids.  This kit is for kids ages 3 to 12.  When two of my kids were 4 and 8, they loved listening to the CDs and doing the activities.

Nick Jr. Money Games and Activities

If you have little ones who are just starting to learn about money, why not try Nick Jr.’s Money Games and Activities.  These activities primarily help young kids differentiate coins and learn the value of each one.

Star Banks Adventure

T. Rowe Price has created this game as part of their Money Confident Kids program. This game will likely be appealing to kids thanks to the video game-like presentation. Parents will love that the program teaches kids about inflation, saving, spending wisely, and asset allocation, among other topics.  This game is available as an app and as an online game.

Board Games

On a long, hot summer day, nothing beats staying inside playing a board game.  Many classic board games offer your children entertainment AND financial education.  Some of my favorite for this purpose are Monopoly, Life, and Payday.

Use these activities a few times a week, and your child will not only have a fun summer, but one that is filled with financial lessons.

What are your favorite activities and games to teach your kids about money?

5 Ways to Have a Frugal Halloween

While the marketers would like us to think that Halloween should cost a fortune, it doesn’t have to.  On average, Americans in 2013 planned to spend $75.03 on Halloween candy and costumes.  (My guess is those with more than two children will spend significantly more than this, especially if they choose to buy costumes.)

If you use some creativity and resourcefulness, you and your kids can have a fun Halloween without spending a fortune.  Here’s a way to have a ghoulish Halloween without frightening your wallet.

Save Serious Money on Costumes

5 Ways to have a frugal halloween

If you have the cash to spend, you can certainly find costumes at a discount by visiting second hand stores or perusing Craigslist.  However, if you don’t have the money to spend or you simply choose not to, there are still plenty of adorable costumes for your kids:

Use costumes you have around the house.

If you have dress up clothes, those are fair game for a Halloween costume.  Another idea is to use your child’s clothing from extracurricular activities.  Does your son have a little league uniform?  Great, he can be a baseball player.  Does your daughter take dance classes?  She can be a ballerina.  Does your child have a pair of skeleton pajamas?  They could easily double for her Halloween costume.

Marketers want us to think that a child should be able to pick any costume he or she would like for Halloween.  However, you can limit this to whatever type of costume the child can find around the house.

Create your own costume.

With a little creativity (and maybe some face paint), you can likely find a good costume with things you already have around the house.  An old white sheet makes for a great ghost costume and your child’s clothes along with face paint can help create an adorable hobo.  With the help of Pinterest, you’ll find plenty of costume ideas you can make at little to no cost using items around the house.

Have a costume swap.

If you have old costumes that the kids have outgrown or no longer want, why not get together a few of your friends and have a costume swap.  You may leave with a new-to-him costume for your child, and you will have decluttered your home of a few costumes you’ll never use again in the process.

Save on Candy

Reuse candy.

Now, before you get upset with the wording “reuse candy” hear me out.  Buy a bag or two of candy to give to the trick or treaters.   If you have young children, take them early in the night.  When you get home, go through the candy that your kids don’t like.  (As a kid, I hated any candy bars that had nuts in them.)  This candy will likely go in your own mouth if the kids won’t eat it.  Instead, put it in your candy bowl and give it to the trick or treaters at your door.

Turn off the light when the candy is out.

I know some people who live in subdivisions popular with trick or treaters.  These people will buy five, six, seven bags of candy.  That adds up fast!  Instead, buy whatever amount of candy your budget allows.  When you run out, turn off the outside light, turn off the lights in the front of the house, and go settle in to watch a movie or read a good book in the back of the house.  Don’t feel pressured to buy more candy than you comfortably can financially.

What are your favorite tricks to save on Halloween?

Why I’m Not Throwing My Two-Year Old a Party

My little bundle of joy is turning two in June. That went fast! With the approach of her birthday, I have been getting asked quite a few times what the theme of her birthday party is. Of course, I said dogs because that is her favorite animal right now.

I spent many hours dreaming up an adorable dog party and even looked up amazing ideas on Pinterest. The things people come up with amaze me! There were toddler dog parties that dog biscuit shaped cookies, wiener dog shaped cup cakes, treats out of dog bowls, and headbands with felt dog ears on them. That may not sound cute to you, but trust me it was. I imagined doing all of this party prep and planning for my sweet little one, and then reality came crashing down.

Here’s the truth. She is going to be two. She would love it if she were surrounded by people and dog things, but she would also love it if we went to McDonalds and got an ice cream cone. Here is what I realized:

  1. Throwing a Party Can Be Pricey: Even when I threw a simple BBQ for her first birthday, I spent about $130 in just food and cheap activities to keep the kid cousins entertained. We are talking hot dogs and hamburgers here, not steaks or anything fancy, so I am not sure why I spent so much money. If I were to go through with the adorable dog themed party, I know I would spend over $200-300.
  2. Who Am I Really Throwing the Party For? It can be so easy to get swept up in the social media/Pinterest movement, wanting to post pictures of perfect parties and creative ideas. If I were to really celebrate Ellie’s second birthday how she would want, it would probably involve a trip to the aquarium, yummy ice cream, and a lot of playtime with mom and dad. The sad thing about these parties is that she will not remember them at this age, so basically I would be throwing this party for myself – which leads me to point three…
  3. Parties Can Be Time Consuming and Stressful: Thinking about the hours of perfecting the house before and after the party is a little overwhelming. I already have troubles trying to keep the house clean with a busy toddler, I don’t need a house full of guests to add more stress. Having nine kid cousins running through my home is also overwhelming. Some people love everything that comes along with throwing parties, but I have to accept that I am not one of them, even when Pinterest mocks me. I would rather spend the time loving my daughter.

So what is the point of all of this? I am not throwing my two year old a birthday party to save myself money, stress, and time. Parties are not a necessity in our children’s lives, but love is. I plan to make Ellie’s day a very special day, but you are not going to see it on Pinterest.

If you are the type of person that loves to throw these types of parties, then go for it. You have been blessed with that gift. For the rest of us moms, save your money and your anxiety and don’t worry that you didn’t throw your child the party of the year.