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

The Teenager’s Car Conundrum

Sometimes, I get questions that are perfect for the Reader Mailbag, except that when I actually start writing out the answer, it turns into a full post. This is one of those times. Leslie writes in: My daughter is turning sixteen this August. We’re going to buy her a used car as a gift, but …

Frugality and Children

For breakfast this morning, our children had a bowl of plain generic Cheerios with milk and some strawberries from their garden. It was a pretty healthy breakfast, all around, and it was certainly cheap. All three of them finished their bowls, so they must have liked it. They don’t think of breakfast as a time …

Categories: Family, Frugality

The Lessons We Teach

Our children, like most children today, will choose something sweet when you give them a beverage choice. They’ll want fruit juice or a soda or something akin to that if I let the child make the choice. Thankfully, I’m a parent and I understand that it’s a terrible idea to establish a pattern that a …

Categories: Family, Frugality, Meals

Making Your Own Sidewalk Chalk

My children love drawing on the sidewalk and driveway in front of our house. They’ll draw huge pictures, hopscotch diagrams, long messages, and body tracings all over the place. My daughter particularly gets into this, as she recently filled a large portion of our driveway with a giant rainbow. I’m a big fan of sidewalk …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Should I Cosign a Loan?

I get this type of question all the time. A family member or a friend is trying to get a loan for some reason. Those evil banks won’t lend them any money. They want you to cosign their loan for them. It won’t cost you anything (so they say) and it’ll help a friend out! …

Categories: Debt Management, Family

Sheltered Children and Money Troubles

Although my parents never had a whole lot of money, they did a wonderful job of shielding me from that financial reality while I was growing up. I couldn’t help but be aware of the difficult situation sometimes, like when my father was laid off from the factory and would spend all of his time …

Categories: Family