Family

Reflections on a Child’s Birthday

Our oldest child celebrated a birthday this week. He received several gifts and had a small party, which is almost exactly what he asked for. Over the years, we’ve had big parties and small parties. Our children have received many gifts at once and just a few gifts. We’ve had elaborate celebrations and simple ones. …

An Experience at the Store with My Three Year Old Son

A few days ago, I found myself at a store with my three year old son. I had to stop in and pick up a few items because we had some extended family members visiting us. So, the two of us strolled through the store. He’s decided that he’s too big to ride in the …

Categories: Family

Trick or Treat! Halloween Candy as a Personal Finance Lesson

This evening, my children will be dressing up and running about in their neighborhood, knocking on doors and requesting candy. If they match last year’s performance, they’ll be bringing home multiple pounds of mini candy bars, Sweet Tarts, and other goodies. Naturally, they’ll eat a few pieces while they’re out and about – I certainly …

Categories: Family

Inequality Among Children

When I was younger, I was always frustrated when my parents didn’t treat their children exactly the same. I thought it was unfair when they would do something to help one of my brothers, but I also thought it was unfair when they would do something to help me individually. Why couldn’t they just treat …

Categories: Family

Financial Infidelity: A Calm Response

A version of this article appeared previously on US News and World Report Money. The core of any marriage is trust. You are trusting virtually every aspect of your life to your partner and you reasonably expect the same in return. One of the biggest elements of that trust is with money. You work hard, …

Categories: Family

How to Talk to Young Children About Money

A version of this article first appeared on US News and World Report Money. My six year old daughter has a passion for LEGOs. She loves opening up a new LEGO kit, browsing through the instructions, laying out all of the pieces carefully on the table, and following the instructions step by step to build …

Categories: Family

Some Thoughts on Store-Sponsored Free Activities for Children

As you’re reading this, my children are (probably) at Lowe’s (a hardware store) engaged in the store’s regular Saturday “Build and Grow” project. This time, they’re going to make “Spooky Stackers,” which is apparently a Jenga-like stacking game made out of wooden pieces. On the first Saturday of each month, Home Depot does a similar …

Spouse Mishandling Money? Here’s How to Protect Yourself

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have Sarah as a spouse. Whenever we sit down and go through bills together, one or the other of us can explain exactly what each item is on every single bill. There is no “hidden” spending other than the occasional claim of “that’s a gift for …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

Are Parents Terrible Personal Finance Role Models?

Recently, I came across this article from Time Business arguing – quite convincingly – that parents are poor financial role models for their kids. From the article: “Most parents (77%) say they are not always honest with their kids about money; 15% lie weekly. Half are willing to discuss saving and spending issues but almost …

Categories: Family

Managing and Minimizing a Child’s Wants

One of the true highlights of my day is the time I get to spend with my children. At different times, it gives me the chance to be a parent and a guiding force to them, but it also gives me the chance to look at the world through a different set of eyes for …

Categories: Family

The Full Family Commitment

I’m going to give you a quick sample of a key sentence or two from several recent reader emails. “Now if I could only get my husband on board.“ “The next stop? Getting the credit cards out of her hands.“ “Now I just need to convince her to stop using the debit card every time …

Categories: Family

Parental Support and the “Salad Years”

Mary writes in: “My son recently graduated from college and took a job with a startup. It doesn’t pay well, but he’s building some fantastic experience and connections and if the startup goes well he’ll be in on the ground floor. For now, though, he’s living in a tiny apartment with four other people and …

Categories: Family

The Type of Stay-At-Home Parent You Are Makes All The Difference

A lot of families make the conscious decision to have one parent stay at home with the children while they’re young while the other one heads off to work in order to earn money for the family. This setup can work really well. Some families thrive with this setup, discovering that they have plenty of …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Reflections on Child Care Costs

As this school year approaches, our situation is different than it has been in a very long time when it comes to child care. We have two children enrolled in school full time, with another child in a full-time preschool setting. In other words, the era of crushing child care costs is pretty much behind …

Categories: Family

Teaching a Seven Year Old How to Shop for Groceries Frugally

The other day, I was at the grocery store with my seven year old son. As we walked through the entrance of the store, I looked over at him and said, “Today, we’re going to try something different.” He looked up at me. “Today,” I said, “you’re going to buy the groceries. You have $100. …

Categories: Family, Frugality, Meals

Starting the School Year the Frugal Way

Now that I have two young ones in school (and one of them in preschool … one who likes to make sure to tell everyone that he is also in school), the annual cycle of buying school supplies and preparing for the upcoming year is now a part of our lives. Thankfully, the past few …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Money and Paying Attention

Whenever I spend an afternoon playing with my children – actually focusing on them instead of being half-distracted by my cell phone or a conversation with a friend or something else – I always learn several new things about them. I learn how their relationship with each of their siblings is going. I learn what …

Categories: Family

Teaching the Idea of Trading Effort for Money

As I’ve mentioned before on The Simple Dollar, Sarah and I have a pretty straightforward policy when it comes to allowances for our children. To reiterate the highlights: + Our children get $0.50 times their age each week for allowance. This means that a six year old would get $3.00 per week under this system. …

Categories: Family

The “Hand Me Down” Chain

A few years ago, the boys across the street gave a glove to my oldest son. It was a small baseball glove, one that they’d outgrown because it didn’t fit their hand well. It’s a pretty tiny glove. Anyway, recently, my oldest son has decided that this glove doesn’t fit him, so he’s passed it …

Categories: Family, Frugality