• Giving Children Everything They Deserve

    Let me tell you a little bit about my children. My oldest child is the most serious of the bunch. He relishes being the older brother and teaching his younger siblings about life. He’s constantly asking questions and enjoys reading so much that he’s started a book club for early elementary children. He’s very good …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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. …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • Teaching the Value of a Dollar

    I had a great conversation the other day with a friend who is still struggling with the student loans he took on at the turn of the millennium. He’s been knocking on those loans for twelve years and still has several years to go. One thing my friend said that really stuck with me was …

  • The Best Time to Have Children

    One common theme I see in reader mailbag questions is potential parents worrying about the appropriate timing for having children. If a couple has a child when they’re younger, the medical risks are lower, the parents are much more likely to be in good health throughout their childhood, and they can focus on their career …

  • 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. …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • A Seven Year Old Learns About Credit Cards

    Here’s some food for thought for those of you out there raising children and hoping to teach them good lessons about money. I was at the store recently with my seven year old son. When it’s just the two of us, he’s very quiet and observant of what’s going on around him (he can be …

  • The Cost of Children

    This morning, my youngest child woke me up at about five in the morning. He was standing there beside my bed whispering “Dad….. Dad…..” and just waiting until I opened my eyes. When I looked at him and greeted him, he said simply, “I make mess in bathroom.” He’s still in the latter stages of …

  • Teaching Money Values at a Restaurant

    A few nights ago, our family went out to dinner at a local restaurant. On the occasions when our family does eat out, our children are usually pretty excited for the event, as it’s a change of pace from eating at home every evening. They’re usually really observant and spend much of the meal asking …

  • The Fallback Question

    For many people, the interesting career path that they feel most passionate about is one fraught with risk. Entrepreneurship. The creative arts. Professional sports. All of those career tracks – and many more – are ones where success is relatively hard to come by. Let’s say you’re a relatively skilled high school baseball player. You …