That Help Promote Financial Literacy
Finances can be as stressful on families as health issues, moving to a new home, or starting a new job. Part of my job description as domestic engineer (it says so on my coffee cup) is to help my family use our money wisely, and to teach our kids how to do the same. We engage our kids in our spending as a family, and hopefully are teaching them to make decisions about money instead of reacting to money needs. Part of this learning process is making decisions that bend the dollars and stretch our ways as a family of looking at typical expenses. We get creative and have homemade recipes, try to get organized to avoid some money pitfalls, and keep looking for new ways to make the most of it all.
Making Cents at the Grocery Store
- Use printable coupons (or save ones to your phone for retailers who offer barcode technology for coupons – no ink costs needed). If your kids have their favorite cereal or snack food, go directly to that manufacturer’s website and sign up for the email coupons (just be sure to opt out of the promotional emails). I use a “junk email” name for all of these purposes so I know exactly where to go when I want my coupons and my regular inbox isn’t flooded with marketing information.
- The problem I have had with printing coupons from home is that they are so large that I feel like I am wasting as much money as I am saving by spending paper and ink money. To solve this I began savings coupons in smaller sizes and combining them onto one page. It is the barcode and the barcode number that is needed at check-out, not the size of those things.
- Take your kids grocery shopping. I know the first inclination might be to avoid this, but when we take our kids grocery shopping we can save money in the long-run.
- Teach your kids first-hand about how much food costs and they can be more aware of wasteful choices in packaging and serving sizes.
- Take a few calculators along so they can help determine the best prices.
- Put someone in charge of coupons, someone in charge of “sale signs”, and someone in charge of the duplicate master list (never, ever, give away your master list – it is like giving away keys to the kingdom).
- Feed the kids first – nothing makes grocery shopping harder than hungry kids.
- Divide the store into zones. My kids each have areas of the store they know best and are in charge of getting to know what kind of deli meat Dad likes or how to tell which kinds of bread are really whole wheat.
- Use reusable shopping bags – Many grocers and retailers will give you a few cents off of your purchase when you use them, saving you a few dollars of the year. The larger savings can come in organization (you won’t be attacked by a falling stack of plastic bags), teaching stewardship to your kids (reduce-reuse-recycle), and fewer lost items that tumble out and plat on the pavement as your sheer plastic bag rips and the jar of salad dressing shatters on your church shoes. The bonus is that most retailers don’t require that you use their reusable bag, so you can even sew ones yourself from extra material you have at home.
The Beauty of Saving Money
I like to indulge myself in make-up and my own special, favorite hair styling aids. But I know I can spend way too much if I’m not prudent about the costs (and what I can do to shave some of them).
- Buy shampoo and conditioner in bulk and transfer to smaller bottles to make it easier in the shower.
- Use plain yogurt to give life and sheen to your hair. Take about ½ cup of it and add it to your damp (unwashed) hair. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse it with lukewarm water and wash your hair with your regular shampoo.
- Use baby powder to absorb excess oils at the roots of your hair an keep your hair looking healthy between shampoos.
- To add some bounce to your hair, take ½ cup of beer and let it sit in a cup until flat, then add one raw egg and 1 teaspoon of canola oil to the flat beer and mix well. Put this mixture on damp, unwashed hair and let it sit for 10 minutes or so. Then rinse your hair with cool water and shampoo as you normally would – and instant shiny, smooth hair without salon prices!
- Ask for samples. When I go to the beauty salon I ask for samples of the styling products they use so I can try those at home. So many times we can get sucked into buying the product because our hair looks great while sitting in the chair and we think it must be the product and I have to have it! But then we get home and realize it was the stylist who made our hair look great and I am now are the proud owner of a very expensive hair treatment that doesn’t do much.
Don’t Take Out a Loan for Laundry
I wash a lot of clothes in this house. Between 4 kids, the sports they play, the activities we do, and living a full and busy life, laundry is a constant. When you add the bulkiness of winter laundry with jeans, sweatshirts, and long johns it can seem like Mt. Washmore is about ready to take over the basement some days. Some of my favorite laundry tips to save time and money include:
- Zip the zippers on the jeans before you throw them in the wash. Nothing causes snags and scratch marks like stray jean zippers on your new, soft cotton shirt.
- Buy laundry soap in bulk, even if you only have 1 or 2 kids and not as much laundry. The expiration dates are almost null and void, and you’ll have less plastic waste from containers.
- Pay attention to those silly little laundry lines on the caps of the bottles. They aren’t there to help you conserve the amount of detergent you add to your load. Even when the kids test the dirt resistance of their clothes by rolling the riverbank I still don’t have to go overboard on the soap (if I have a quality detergent).
- Try a homemade recipe for laundry soap. If it works on this large family (the Duggars), it just might work for you! I find that really hard stains still need an extra stain remover like Oxyclean (great for football pants).
- Get each one of the kids their own small laundry basket (this idea I got from a friend who told me his mom did that years ago and it worked for their large family). All of my kids have a basket into which I directly put their clean and folded laundry (our laundry room is in the basement, their rooms are on the 2nd floor). They are all responsible for taking their own baskets to their rooms and putting the laundry away. The baskets might have cost a few dollars each, but I save time and it teaches the kids responsibility in the process (even as toddlers they did this).
We teach our kids the alphabet, how to read, and how to recognize their phone numbers, but we sometimes forget how important it is to teach financial literacy. This doesn’t always mean complaining about the prices of gas (which I do, too, and just did again last night), but it means to teach them to be proactive about money.
How do you teach your kids to be financially wise?
How do you help your family save money?