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Teaching Kids About Money and Hard Work

5 Dec

I had a discussion with another parent recently and something she said has been on my mind.  We were talking about what is the “going rate” to pay babysitters these days and she said, “My problem is just finding a babysitter.  Too many teenagers these days could care less because they just get the money they need from their parents.”  This statement made me sad.  I too have been surprised lately with the lacking desire in teens to earn money.  I was always doing whatever I could to earn money as a kid, and had a job of some sort from the age of 12 all through college.  I’ve done more babysitting than I could ever count, I’ve done the fast food thing, I’ve worked in health care, I’ve worked in retail, custodial, and the list goes on and on.   Although a lot of it was hard work, I have fond memories at almost  all of the jobs I have had; they are a part of my history.

Granted, I had more financial responsibility starting at the age of 12 than I would wish on any teenager (bought my own clothing and paid my own school fees starting in junior high), but I’m so grateful for the experiences that I had and what they taught me.  I have a teacher for a husband and our income is pretty limited, but that doesn’t limit me from having some things that I want.  For example, I hated our teeny couch that we got when we were first married.  It barely fit the two of us and company never had a place to sit when they came over.  I really, really wanted a brand new beautiful sectional that I saw at a store.  Did our income allow for it?  No.  But my experience as a teen taught me that if I want something bad enough I can work for it.  So I started selling my belongings and saving up.  And believe it or not I purchased that $1000 couch after only a few months (I’m sitting on it right now and I still love it).  The same thing occurred with our Blendtec blender.  My husband would never agree that $400 of our paycheck should go to a high-tech blender, but it was important to me (I’m a green smoothie fan) so I found a way to make money and purchase one.


Enough about my history, this is about the kids.  I’ve been brainstorming ways to teach children to manage and respect money, and these are my thoughts.  I’d love to hear yours as well!

Allowance?  I agree as well as disagree with certain principles in regards to an allowance.  I believe that children should understand that they are part of something larger than themselves: a family; and that as a family member you have a part to play and that means a little hard work here and there.  It is my personal opinion that chores are done without expectation of “getting” something in return, but that anything “extra” could be used for earning opportunities.  I liked how my best friend’s family did it growing up.  They had their personal chores that they were expected to accomplish, and then on the backside of one of the cabinet doors was a list of various extra chores as well as how much they could earn doing them.  I remember earning some money myself by swatting flies when I was at their house (Ha, I believe each fly was worth 5 or 10 cents)!

For kids 5 yrs and above:  Use real money for allowance

Under 5:  Get fake coins for them to earn for behavior and various tasks, and let them redeem them at the “treasure box.”  Just make sure the coins are big enough not to be a choking hazard!

Teach your children that sometimes you must give up something good for something greater.  Planning a family trip to Disneyland?  Rather than just taking them, have a valuable learning experience along the way.  Teach them ways that you can save as a family to allow more money to go towards the trip.  Maybe they can give up certain luxuries from the grocery store for a few months (No Oreos? what?).  How about washing the car by hand as a family rather than going to the express wash?  Even if your family is financially blessed, your children will be greatly blessed in the future if they learn these valuable lessons.

Don’t give into begging or you are creating a repeat-issue.  If your children automatically know they need to earn the things that they want, they will beg less often.  Another couple that my husband and I are good friends with uses this principle when they go to Disneyland.  They noticed the first time they went that their children begged all day for souvenir after souvenir.  The next year, they planned ahead of time.  For several months before the trip they gave their children opportunities to earn “Disney Bucks,” and the children understood that the only souvenirs they could buy must be purchased with Disney Bucks.  When they left on the trip their Disney Bucks were turned in and replaced with real dollars.  These parents were amazed that their children no longer had interest in every little thing; rather, they wanted to wait and make sure their Disney Bucks were spent on their most favorite items.  They became a lot more conscious of what they thought they “wanted.”  We think it’s a great idea and plan on doing it for our Disney trips too.  Since then I have found these printable “Disney Bucks,” that are super cute in case you don’t want to make your own.


Let your children make “bad” financial decisions.  Don’t like the toy they want to buy?  Know without a doubt that it will break within 2 days?  Let them buy it.  That doesn’t mean you can counsel and give advice, but it’s better for your children to make poor financial decisions while they are young and learn from them, then to start the learning when they are adults.  Make sure to have follow-up discussions after certain purchases so that your children can start to recognize bad, good and better ways to spend their money.

Let them learn with you.  Don’t be afraid to let your children know how you handle the bills, or prioritize your shopping list, or calculate the tip at the restaurant.  Once again, the earlier they learn the better.

Let them explore money earning opportunities.  Dreading the lemonade stand?  Would rather just give them some money?  Don’t do it. Those moments are valuable.  Let your children do the lemonade stands and the bake sales and be a part of their learning process by doing it with them!  I remember as a kid sitting at the corner with my lemonade stand and counting in my head how many cups of lemonade I needed to sale to make $10.  When sales didn’t approach my goal, I grabbed my 10 gallon dispenser and started going door to door!  Granted, my mother had no idea which is why it’s a good idea to be part of the process so that your kids make safe decisions.  Because of the many lemonade stands I attempted as a kid I have a rule as an adult that as long as I have change in my wallet I will stop at EVERY lemonade stand that I pass.  It brings back old memories and just feels good to support the children with drive!

Yard Sales and Classifieds.  Yard sales are another drudgery among parents, but they are great learning experiences for kids especially if you let them sell some of their own items.  I have a hard time bartering for a lower price when I know that a kid is selling the item personally.  I also love it when I get onto Craigslist and see listings for a toy with the description, “my child is exploring ways to earn money and wants to sell some of her toys.”  Beautiful!

I will add to this list later, but these are just some of the ideas I have been thinking about.  What do you do to teach your children about money?  I’d love to hear!


NYC With a Baby

20 Jul

This summer we took a trip to NYC and DC with our then 6-month old.  I was a little hesitant about taking the trip with her and didn’t know if New York would be a very kid-friendly place.  Update:  We had a blast!  We ended up very glad that we took her and besides Broadway she didn’t really hold us back from anything we wanted to do.  Here were our highlights:

First Bonus:  NYC must not see babies that frequently because people were always stopping to smile and make faces at her.  We found security to be extra nice and accomodating once they saw we had a baby, and some even made special exceptions for us.  Having our baby with us actually ended up blessing us in many ways.

CENTRAL PARK:  This was one of our favorite places to take our baby girl!  We rented bikes from Central Park Sightseeing and had a very good experience (they aren’t located directly in Central Park, so we found them to be cheaper).  They also had a little baby carriage to hook on the back (they had baby seats that hook directly onto the bike for the same price, but we found a lot of parents passing us and wishing they had gone with the cart).  We did the loop around the park which was so beautiful and made a couple stops for pictures and food.  There were also plenty of private spots to stop and nurse if you aren’t comfortable nursing in a crowd (I had a nursing cover so it didn’t bother me).

STATUE OF LIBERTY/ELLIS ISLAND:  Because it was such a hot day and there were big crowds we decided to stay on the ferry rather than get off and look around.  The breeze felt so good and the ride was very relaxing after a lot of walking around.  If you are doing Statue of Liberty BUY YOUR TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME.   Seriously.  This step will save you about 3 hours.  The line for those that had paid ahead (Statue Cruises) was SIGNIFICANTLY shorter than the other.  Had we not done this we would have never gotten on the boat (nor would it have been worth it).  This was another time that having a baby helped our situation (security helped us through much faster because we had a baby).

TIMES SQUARE:  This was surprisingly more kid-friendly than I would have thought.  Our favorite was the Toys R Us store.  We took her on the ferris wheel and just walked around looking at fun toys (they also have giant characters walking around that you can take pictures with).  You will also have many opportunities to stop and watch the street performers if you need a break.  If you go into big stores with multiple stories, ask where the elevator is.  The security guys aren’t fond of parents trying to take their strollers on the escalators (Although we felt perfectly safe doing so…it was probably just a liability thing).

THE SHAKE SHACK:  This was by far our favorite place to eat in New York City!  Everywhere we went people were telling us to eat there, and once we finally did we went back again the next day.  They have the best burgers!  There are several locations in New York, but if you have kids I would recommend the one in Madison Square Park.  It is beautiful with plenty of room to relax or if you need to, nurse your baby.

FAIRFIELD INN:  We stayed at the Fairfield Inn located in the flower district and were very pleased with our choice.  It wasn’t directly in Times Square so the rates were amazing.  I had read hundreds of reviews for different hotels and finally went with this one.  All of the Trip Advisor reviews proved to be true for us and this hotel was a GEM!  The staff was amazing, the location was perfect (only about 12 blocks from Times Square and less than a block from subway locations in case you don’t want to walk much).  Because it was located in the Flower District, we always enjoyed the wonderful smell of all the flowers as we walked out the front doors every morning.  Such a beautiful little street!  we were able to reach a lot of places via walking from our hotel.  Plus, they brought a pack-n-play to our room for our baby which most NYC hotel rooms probably wouldn’t have any room to fit one.

THE SUBWAY:  The subway was what I was most nervous about before leaving on our trip.  I kept battling whether we wanted to take a stroller, a Baby Bjorn, or some kind of baby backpack.  We took all three and only used the stroller the whole time.  It was not bad taking the stroller on the subway and we never ran into any problems.  However, if you are coming into the city from JFK airport I would definitely take an airport shuttle service like we did.  Taking a stroller AND luggage that much of a distance on a subway would probably be too stressful.  Quick note on the stroller: I also battled whether to get a cheap umbrella stroller for the light weight option with all the walking around.  We ended up going with my mother-in-law’s stroller which is a step-up from the umbrella and that is what I would recommend.  These were the 2 things we were most grateful for in the the stroller that we took:

1.  The reclining option.  Umbrella strollers don’t have this, and had we deprived our baby of comfortable naps throughout the day we might not have had such an enjoyable trip.

2. The quick folding option.  You have to walk down stairs to get to the subways, so you will want a stroller that you can quickly fold.  Many times we were able to just carry the stroller down, but there will probably be moments when you need to be quick, and the folding stroller with make the situation less stressful.

I will find out what stroller we used and update this blog when I found out, as I found it to be perfect for NYC.

ROCKEFELLER:  We went here as well.  Did not spend a lot of time, but it was fun to walk around the different stores  (Visit the Lego store if you go).

CHINA TOWN:  We went here also, but it wasn’t one of our favorite places so we didn’t stay too long, just long enough to grab some silly sunglasses.

MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY:  The admission here is a SUGGESTED price.  Meaning if you can’t afford $25 bucks a person you can offer a lower amount.  We weren’t there very long (it was kind of an in-and-out for us), so we were glad that we only paid $3 a person.  This was a place that had a lot of kids, but we weren’t too interested in museums for this trip.

That’s all for now.  Feel free to ask me any questions if you are planning on taking your baby to NYC.  I planned for this trip for a very long time because I was a little nervous about taking a 6-month old.

If you are continuing on to Washington D.C. like we did, we recommend the BOLT bus.  Very comfortable and the best price-wise that we found.