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5 Fun Lessons to Help Make Your Kids Financially Independent

5  Fun Lessons to Help Make Your Kids Financially Independent

Formal education does a great job of teaching children how to read, write, do math, and determine the age of the earth using mass spectrometry, but there’s one lesson that still falls on the shoulders of parents to teach, and that’s financial responsibility. Until there is a classroom devoted to budgets, savings accounts, and investments, parents will need to continue to think of creative ways to impart their monetary wisdom. Use these five fun tricks to help make the lessons stick and help make your kids financially independent.

1. Piggy Bank

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    A piggy bank should be a fixture in every child’s room. They’re as important as a night light or pajamas with feet built into them. Every chance you get you should drop some change inside, shake it up, and act like it is the greatest thing in the world. Your child may not fully appreciate what is going on at first but eventually they will develop a sense of ownership over their money and create positive memories and attitudes around saving.

    2. Lemonade Stand

    Steven Depolo lemon
      Steven Depolo via flickr

      Tried, tested, and true, the lemonade stand is not only a classic memory for every child, it teaches important lessons about money. By dishing out lemonade to passersby (with adult supervision, obviously) a child can quickly learn basic lessons about supply, demand, and managing income and expenses. Fresh lemonade may taste better and draw a bigger crowd, but nothing multiplies your margins like lemon crystals from a package. Do this right and lend a hand where necessary and you will have a little entrepreneur on your hands in no time.

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      3. Allowance

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        Starting from around the age of five you can bring an allowance into the equation. Sit your kids down and have a conversation about responsibility and pitching in around the house in exchange for a little money at the end of the week. An allowance should be your child’s first experience with steady, reliable income and it opens the door to many more lessons about the different uses of money, that things are earned and not an entitlement, and the idea of money as a finite resource.

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        4. Saving, Spending, Sharing Jars

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          A great way to drive home the finite nature of money is to expand the notion of the piggy bank to create separate saving, spending, and sharing money jars. Again, this works best with an older child who is getting an allowance. The way it works is each time your child gets some money, they are responsible for dividing it into each of the three jars. The spending jar is for things like candy bars and water guns and other small expenses that pop up during the week; the sharing jar is for buying birthday gifts and nice surprises for friends and family; and the saving jar is off limits for everything but larger, longer-term expenses like a new Lego set or video game. The saving jar transitions nicely into the eventual savings account you should open with your child at the bank.

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          5. Offer and Encourage Ways to Earn More Money

          chores

            Finally, if you child has their eye on some extravagant item like roller skates or a new bike but is getting frustrated at saving towards it with a $5 or $10 weekly allowance, give them other opportunities to increase their income. Put a price on household jobs that aren’t part of their regular chores. Clean the attic and make an extra $10. Mow the lawn and that is $5 in your pocket. Even help your kids offer their services to your trusted friends around the neighborhood. This will help instill a strong work ethic and a mental connection between effort and reward.

            Featured photo credit: Steven Depolo via flickr.com

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            Published on September 17, 2018

            How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

            How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

            Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

            With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

            So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

            1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

            It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

            You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

            So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

            2. When you want something big, wait

            Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

            It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

            We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

            A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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            So, you get the itch.

            You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

            Here’s where you have to take a step back.

            Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

            Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

            It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

            The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

            3. Live smaller than you can afford

            You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

            You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

            That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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            Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

            Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

            The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

            But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

            4. Practice smart grocery shopping

            Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

            But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

            Create a grocery budget

            Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

            Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

            I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

            Make a list… and never deviate

            Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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            You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

            These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

            Eat before going grocery shopping

            It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

            If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

            After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

            Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

            However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

            This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

            5. Cancel your gym membership

            Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

            The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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            Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

            I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

            Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

            Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

            For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

            Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

            There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

            It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

            I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

            Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

            The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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