One day at a Boy Scout meeting, Steve was talking to one of the dads. He was a head mechanic for a local auto repair garage. He made decent money, but was frustrated at how much money he was spending on his kids. It seemed that every weekend they hit him up for $20 to “spend at the mall.”
Quick, do the math. 2 kids. $20 per week for each of them ($40). Every weekend . . . minus a few for vacation, sickness or when dad requires them to do some chores—say 45 weekends per year. $40 x 45=$1800 each year.
Steve told him how we trained our kids to handle money. Sure it cost us something (about $1200 per year). But we required them to use some of it to buy their own clothes, some for giving to charities or church, and some for spending on things they wanted. We started teaching them really young—about 6 years old. And by the time they reached their teen years, they were on auto pilot. They had money in the bank, paid for most of their camps, all of the Christmas presents they gave to others, all of their clothes and all of their discretionary spending.
Steve's suggestion to him was to find a way for the kids to earn the money from him, either through chores, volunteering somewhere or helping younger siblings. The bottom line was that he should be getting something in exchange for the $1800 he was spending. We totally endorse the idea of parents slowly removing the financial props they give their teens, by slowly transferring age appropriate adult financial responsibilities onto their shoulders. With the goal being that by the age of 18 our kids are financially strong enough to move out on their own.
"Are we Raising Future Adults . . . or Perpetual Children?"
It's interesting that at birth we cut the umbilical cord, but in America, we delay cutting the cord of financial dependence far too long. Currently 60% of parents are financially supporting their adult children. This practice does not build financial independence, it creates a greater financial DEPENDENCE.
You can read a detailed description of the system we developed for our own kids in this article (for website subscribers), or in our book, The MoneySmart Family System or watch this interview we did for a local TV station. Our system is easy to use and has produced great results for our kids.
5 Kitchen Tools That Will Save $6000 #1
Saving money on groceries could revolutionize your family budget!
As a matter of fact, there are dozens of simple strategies that can cut your grocery bill in half with out clipping a single coupon. But, instead of shopping strategies, we want to introduce you to five relatively inexpensive kitchen tools that can save you thousands of dollars and lots of time too!
What’s at stake? When it comes to feeding a family, there is a lot of money at stake. The average family is spending $200 per person each month on groceries. That means that a family of four will spend nearly $10,000 on food this year!
Large expenses always present LARGER opportunities for savings—especially if you’re willing to think differently. Many of us could use this found money to pay off debt, reduce medical bills, save for a vacation, or accomplish some much needed home improvements.
What if the tools we describe in this 5 week series (every Wednesday) could:
Would you be interested?
We’re not blowing smoke or selling snake oil; we’re talking about tools we’ve been using for many years!
Let’s start with the least expensive tool and work our way up to some really big savings.
Scoop It Out: This simple tool won’t save you much money, but it will save you lots of clean-up time. The humble Spoonula is different from a spatula. Most rubber spatulas have straight edges, whereasSpoonulas are curved, creating a flexible scoop for quickly cleaning out pots, pans, bowls and jars of peanut butter, jelly, cans of soup and much more. But even more than the food savings, a Spoonula helps keep the environment cleaner with less food waste in the trash or down the drain and less soap and water used for cleanup.
Savings: Annette uses her Spoonulas four to five times each day. We estimated that a Spoonula, costing between $4 and $10 (depending on size), saves us about $40 each year.
Checkout Amazon's selection of SpoonULas here.
Our son-in-law, Collin is a college student and works part time at QuikTrip (QT) gas stations / convenience mart. QT operates about 700 stores across the country. As a working college student, and a new member of our MoneySmart Family, he is always looking for ways to save money.
He recently shared this tip for those of you who love to have your morning jolt of Java or flavored coffee.
If you go into a QT and bring your own cup (smaller than 54 ounces) you can get a refill for 86 cents! If you’re looking to build savings through David Bach’s “Latte Factor” you don’t have to give it up whole-hog. You can merely change where you get your coffee from and bank the savings. If you’re normally buying a Starbucks coffee for $5 per day, changing to QT could save you around $20 each week or $1000 each year (based on a 50 week work year).
This money-saving strategy works for all of their fountain drinks, no just coffee.
Sometimes a change of thinking, convenience or location can end up saving a whole lot of change!
Leigh from Burlington NC asked about changes to our grocery budget.
Question: I have all three of your books, and in it you say that your grocery budget is around $350 per month. In recent interviews I have heard you all say that your budget has increased to $390 per month due to food costs. Would you mind detailing some of these changes in your budget?
Answer: When we walk into the grocery store these days, we're hit by Grocery Sticker Shock! It's hard to believe how expensive things are getting.
Our grocery budget when all five kids were at home was was $350 per month for many years.
The interview you heard was broadcast last year (2014). With food prices increasing and five adults in the house (two in college and one graduated, plus Steve & Annette) our budget had to change a little—it amounted to an 11% increase in the last 10 years.
What hasn't changed is the way we manage money / our budgeting system—saving a pre-determined amount of money from each paycheck for specific “budget accounts” within one checking account. You can read more about the system in our first book, America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right On The Money.
In 2014 we raised the amount of money we allocated to our food account by $40 per month (to $390) due to the increase in the cost of many items. But honestly most of the other items in the grocery store have increased by 10 to 30 percent over the past 4 years. And those things that have stayed the same price have been made smaller — ice cream for example.
But this year with just three of us at home (Abbey married Collin and Joe married Sarah last year) we've scaled back our food budget - we're now setting aside $300 per month.
We’ve also gone to doing an intermediate shopping trip (in the middle of the month) to supplement our “big shopping trip” at the end of each month because of a decision to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
We’re still using coupons when we have time, doing Ad Match at Walmart (when we don’t have time for coupons) to get the best loss leader prices. We’re still stocking up on storable / freezable food when it hits a rock bottom price (recently cherries were 99¢ a pound here and we bought about 10 pounds and froze them). We also found a killer deal on Top Round for $1.33 per pound – bulk cut – and we bought about 40 pounds of it.
Our strategies and methods have remained the same, we've adjusted our budget and our shopping strategies to deal with higher food costs. Welcome to a recovered economy! Sigh!
What grocery item price has left you with sticker shock?
This is a comment about your Free MoneySmart Family Email newsletter. You had a brief article about T-Mobile and their monthly plans without contracts. BUT, what do you do about buying a phone? New phones cost a lot of money. Some cost as much as $400 to $800. That is way out of our price range. Our family has used Go Phones for the past 6 years, but we need to upgrade. The T-Mobile family plan looks great, but how does one afford a phone?
We’ve purchased several great condition, used cell phones from private sellers on eBay, paying anywhere from $45 to $180 depending on the type of phone we wanted. You could also check out CraigsList or talk to friends who are upgrading and offer to buy their old phones. Taking time to research various phones and their features, limitations and user reviews will help you make a better decision. When we finally switched to a prepaid plan the cost of the “new” phone we purchased on eBay was recovered in about 5 months.
When researching a phone we consider the following features:
Sources for Purchasing Used Phones