Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Keeping the Kids Hydrated

Today's tip from me for Works for Me Wednesday is a tool that we use here around summer since it gets SO hot in southeast Georgia.
We bought some (generic) Pedialyte popsicles several months ago when Patrick had a stomach virus and we were concerned that he would get dehydrated. Of course we did not go through the entire box in the three days that he was sick, so we had some leftovers.
Enter brilliant idea: Patrick is a hot, sweaty boy. He plays hard and often I wonder if he is keeping cool. He's really good about drinking water when he's hot, but I still worry...that's what moms do, right? Well, we decided to give it a go with those "Pedialyte" popsicles and he LOVES them! They are cool, fruity and refreshing and best yet...full of electrolytes and no sugar, so we don't have to worry about sugaring him up. They work great!
Yes, regular popsicles are great for cooling off, but if you're concerned about dehydration, these are a great snack!
That's what Works for Me. Go check out what works for others over at Rocks in My Dryer!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Save Money by Spending?

Today's What Works for Me here at Mrs. Nespy's Frugal World is something that I have just started doing. It is something I am suggesting with some reservation because although it can easily work, it would be easy to get carried away with and lose sight of saving money. So with a bit of hesitancy, I'm going to make a recommendation that you can use at your own discretion.

Just recently I have been looking into purchasing coupons via eBay. It is something that I do cautiously because it is very easy for me to get carried away with shopping on eBay. However, I have a plan that I am beginning to implement and I want to offer the thoughts to you. I recently purchased some Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupons (20% one item) on eBay. Why, you ask. Well, BB&B coupons do not expire. I mean, they have expiration dates, but all stores take their own expired coupons, so for all practical purposes, they have no expiration date. You can use one per item in your purchase (with some limited exclusions listed on the coupons). We are in the midst of buying a lot of stuff for the house

Now you can argue with me that these coupons come in the mail free of charge. You're right. And the first 10 that I used were mailed to me and sat collecting on our counter for a few months. However, I've used all of those now, and I'm out. So, I started perusing eBay. I had a set amount in my head that I was willing to pay (which included shipping)--for me it was $3.50 for 10. That would translate into $7.00 for 20. Does that sound like a lot to pay for a free coupon? Maybe--but they do not expire, so as I use them, I will save much more than the money I'm investing in them. Since I have no other means to get my hands on 10 of these, it seemed reasonable. In fact, with the first 10 I had, we saved over $100! Sounds like a winner to me!

Remember that I noted that my top bid including shipping. So for the 10 I received, I paid $2.65 for the coupons and $0.85 shipping.

Now, let me take this one step further and tell you what I just did as an experiment as an expansion of this idea.

There are various places on the web where you can see the upcoming deals for CVS (I use iheartcvs and slickdeals). I looked into the future on these sites and found one upcoming CVS deal that would be great for me. It's the purchase of $20.00 worth of a specified variety of OTC medications with the return of 10 ECBs. Now, since there are -$2.00 coupons out there for one of those which we actually use a good deal of, I bought them. For around $1.50 I bought 20 coupons that will work for this deal. Although I don't need quite this many, I could not find coupons for less than that of what I needed. And I think I'm going to do a giveaway for the remainder of them. Anyway, by my estimates, those products are about $4.00 each. If I purchase 5 of them to reach the $20 requirement, use (5) -$2.00 coupons and save $10.00 and then get a return of 5 ECBs, I have essentially gotten free headache medication for my family (I frequently get runs in my gene pool). My only cost was the $1.50 I spent on coupons; not bad for 5 bottles of make-me-feel-better medicine.

I will give you an update of how this works next week when I try it. I didn't want to get too carried away on my first attempt.

So, take to heart that I am not advocating spending lots of money on coupons so that you can buy stuff you normally would not buy or spending more on coupons that you are going to save. Neither of those are frugal! Please use this tip at your own risk. However, when you are wise about coupon purchasing, I think you can really find something that works for you.

Please visit Rocks In My Dryer to see what works for everyone else!

*Please note, that selling coupons themselves is against most manufacturer coupons policies. However, if you look on eBay, they are actually selling their time to clip, collect, and ship the coupons. Know that I am using the term "selling coupons" loosely.

*There are also places online to swap them or you can start a local coupon swap. However, since neither of these is currently working for me, I am using what I can to save money.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Teaching Children About Money - Part 4 - Spending

So children spending money, right? Sounds like an easy thing to teach. The easy part is the spending, as everyone seems to be born with an natural ability to do this (or quickly pick it up from mom or dad). The hard part is purchasing responsibly with their money.

This can start even before they have a concept of money. Teach them to make choices. For instance, when we are reading to Patrick at night, he makes choices quite frequently. We tell him that he can only take one toy to bed or that we can only read three books (if he is going to be late) or that we can only sing 2 songs. This forces him to make a decision based on what he likes best. He can't have it all, but he can choose his favorites. The same applies to shopping. If we decide that he's going to get something when we go shopping and he picks out two things that he wants, he has to decide which one he will actually go home with. It's not complicated. It teaches him that he cannot have everything and eventually it will help him make wise shopping decisions.

Use this same principle when taking them to spend their own money. It's funny how children are much more particular about how they spend their money than when they spend yours. We are not much different from them in this aspect, as we can see with this country's debt problem!

As they get older and are making more money, whether through allowance, chores, a job, or all of the above, set up an agreement with them on what you will provide vs. what they will use their own money for. For instance, you will buy them one pair of sneakers and boots or sandals for a school year. If they want any other shoes, they can purchase them with their money. That includes the ones you buy them getting worn from poor maintenance/rough play or just because they want the latest and greatest fad. They can purchase gifts from their own money for Christmas or Mom's/Dad's day. You can set up the "Special Jar" for this if you want. Encourage them to make gifts instead of buy and you will get much more heart-felt gifts and they will learn the value of their money. If they do insist on using your money, apply the credit lesson principle learned in Part 1 of this series and charge them interest. If they want a new video game, they can spend their spending money on that...not is going in the bank each month, remember?

So, although we don't have to worry about teaching our children how to spend money, we do need to teach them how to spend it wisely.

To read Part 1 - Credit, click here
To read Part 2 - Giving, click here
To read Part 3 - Saving, click here

Photo credit: {© gisela}

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day

Please take today to celebrate with your friends and family.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

New Hampshire:Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Source cited: The Declaration of Independence
Photo credit: johngiovanni1

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Teaching Children About Money - Part 3 - Saving

Welcome visitors via the Festival of Frugality: Bare Necessities Edition over at Squawkfox or Money Hacks Carnival #19 — Personal Finance Destinations at the Money Hacers Network. I hope you enjoy your stay while you are here. Feel free to look around and if you like what you see, you are welcome to sign up for my feed via reader or email in the right margin. If you don't, that's fine too. I hope you enjoy your stay!

So, it has been a while since I wrote on how to teach children good financial habits, but I thought I should pick up where I last left off and (hopefully) wrap up the series soon.

Today we will discuss saving. This is an easy one in my book and one that many of you across Blogland are already doing, as I have already read.

Start by setting up separate containers for the areas you want to focus on. They can be anything...a mason jar, a cleaned peanut butter jar, an old icing/frosting container...whatever you want. Let the kid decorate it with some guidance. Give each one a theme. For older children, have them decorate with the theme of what the money will be used for--for instance a present for "giving," a safe or lock for "saving," and dollar signs for "spending." With older children as well you can mark the percentage on the container to help with some math education. For smaller children, color code the jars--like green for saving, red for spending, and purple for giving...something that they can relate to if they cannot read. Use different "red" objects and glue on the outside of the spending jar just to make it interesting to create and to look at. Make the system work for you, but make it fun for them. Give them something to really be excited about.

When you child earns/receives money, do what you can to divide it up for them into equal amounts in order that they can "budget" their money based on percentages that your family has determined--for instance 10% giving/30% spending/60% savings or however you want to divvy it up. I will use this 10/30/60 model for my examples because I think that is a pretty good way to do it, however, feel free to use whatever percentages with which you are comfortable. Say they have "earned" $1 for doing a chore that you asked them to do. Pay them in dimes. I know, this is a hassle for you, but it will pay off in the end. Teach them that one of those dimes goes into the 10% Giving jar, three go into the spending jar, and 6 go into the savings jar.

Now make sure that either once a week or once a month, depending on how often you tithe/give, you take out everything in the "giving" jar and contribute as you have set it aside. Make this important to the child. Make them see you do it...or even help you with it if at all possible. I covered giving more in a previous post in this series and you can read more about it here.

Also once a month, move all of the money from the "savings" jar into an actual savings account for the child. That way, it can accrue interest. Each month when you are ready to deposit the money, go online to the account and show the child how the previous month's deposit has grown due to interest. If you have already taught you child about credit using my method, they will already understand interest...except this time, it is working in their favor! Let them see the account again once you have made the deposit so they can watch their money grow. Even print up the chart or graphs that some banks offer from their sites so they can have a visual (if they are geared that way) --or make your own charts in Excel.

Lastly, once a month, also cash out the spending jar. Turn those coins into cash just to save room in the jar and reduce its weight. You can decide once a month to go on a "shopping" trip to let them spend their money or let them access it whenever they go shopping with you...whatever you prefer.

One more note--if need be, create a new jar if you have a special event coming a vacation. Have them take some of their "spending" money and put it into the special event jar to spend on that occasion. Make sure that they understand that they will have less spending money immediately, but will have some especially set aside for those special occasions that are upcoming. Do not compromise and let them take some of their giving or savings money for this. You can set the best example by teaching them to buy less now and be frivolous with that money later than to dip into money that is set aside for giving or spending, neither of which should be compromised.

Whew...did you know that there was so much to cover? Just put it in the piggy bank, right? That might work, but it will not teach them realistic, applicable money management.

Photo credit: -murilo-