Tag Archive | "parenting"

Family Time on a Dime

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Family Time on a Dime


First, let me define drawing closer to someone.  By drawing closer I am specifically referring to spending quality time.  Time that will encourage communication, increase love, build understanding and result in laughter.

As parents, we sometimes feel pressured to spend a lot of money creating memories or experiences for our children. Yet, it seems that often the most memorable may at the surface appear to be the most mundane or ordinary.

In this post, I will provide a framework for creating memories and drawing closer to your children. At the end, I’ll give a few specific ideas for activities, but that is not the focus. The focus is on the method.

Step 1: Let the decision be your child’s

By handing over the reigns to the kids, it shows that this is not yet another power struggle or mom mandated activity.  It also ensures that you are spending time with your kids how they want to spend time.  Which you will probably find is not exactly how you would have liked to spend that time.  Try to discourage options like watching television, or playing Nintendo games.  These activities are fun and have a place but they do not meet the requirements of encouraging communication or building understanding.

Step 2: Be fully engaged

Children are not stupid, they know when you are distracted or just taking a back seat.  Be sure that you are enjoying the moment (even the mess) and try not to watch the clock or anticipate the end.

Step 3: Invite conversation

Most kids, it seems, are hesitant to just jump into conversation, but I have found with my kids that they are more than willing to talk with the slightest encouragement (this is more problematic usually for dads than moms).  So ask open ended questions.  This is important because as parents we tend to lead, even without intending to.  Our children want us to be happy and want to please us.  If we ask leading questions, they are using all their brainpower to come up with the answer that they think we want to hear.  Wouldn’t you rather know and understand how your child’s brain works and what thoughts they come up with on their own?

Step 4: Show Gratitude

Verbally and physically express your love and appreciation to your children for the time that they have spent with you.  Hugs, kisses and laughter are not over rated and can quickly turn around a bad attitude or a stressful day.

Step 5: Teach Responsibility

Be sure to include your children in the clean up process, however big or little the task.  Yes, I understand that cleanup (whatever the mess may be) would be accomplished quicker, better and more efficiently if done by you.  However, we would be missing out on the opportunity to further teach and guide our children toward becoming responsible adults.

A few activity ideas

Below are a few free or low cost activities that may be beneficial for you and your family. Please add to this list as it is only intended to spur your own ideas.

  • Read books
  • Ride bikes
  • Bake a treat
  • Create some art
  • Build a play dough village
  • Visit a retirement home
  • Camp out in the back yard
  • Rake a neighbor’s leaves
  • Build a fort out of boxes

What have you found to be successful with your children?

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“How much do babies cost?” A dialog with a friend

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“How much do babies cost?” A dialog with a friend

Earlier this week, I wrote a post titled Losing your second income? 4 Ways to prepare, which is about some dear friends who are expecting a baby soon. They happened to read the post and notice that I was talking about them. So a discussion about the cost of babies and preparing ensued.

Piggy BankI though that the conversation would be beneficial to other parents who are expecting. So with permission and with the names changed to protect the innocent, I’ve copied and pasted part of our conversation below. I’ve also tried to break the conversation up into parts to make it easier to read.

Also, please leave your comments with advice on financially preparing for a baby. Thanks!

You aren’t the only one whose budget changes in unexpected ways

Sarah: So your article just came up in my twitter feed and I’m like “HEY! That’s perfect for us right now.” Lol. And then I started reading and it really is for us! :D Thanks!
Adam: LOL. You had mentioned months ago about a piece like that and I decided that it was finally time considering the circumstances.
Sarah: Agreed. It was time. And we’re doing pretty well on all of the tips, which I find comforting.
Adam: That’s good. It’s a big change.
Sarah: It’s that “reduce monthly expenses through good budgeting” that’s the trouble right now. I keep sending Jeff to the store to purchase the one thing that sounds edible at the moment, effectively throwing our meal plan and grocery store budgets out the window. But that will pass, right?
Adam: Yes, yes it will.

Take advantage of financial courses like Financial Peace University and 8 Pillars

Sarah: Right now Jeff’s taking advantage of a free class his work is putting on about finances. I’d originally planned on going but it turns out that my nausea hates me going pretty much anywhere, so he goes and updates me when he gets home.
Adam: That’s cool. Is it Dave Ramsey’s course by chance?
Sarah: It’s not. It’s called 8 Pillars. I like Dave Ramsey’s ideas, but I refuse to cut up my credit cards because we pay ours off every month and they feel like a form of short-term insurance if necessary. We’ve also maxed out our HSA accounts and retirement. We use Mint to track our spending.
Sarah: 8 Pillars is also good from what I hear. I haven’t taken it but I know several people in the finance industry that endorse it. I love Mint.

How to alleviate the expenses of a newborn baby

Sarah: We refinanced our condo to cut our monthly house payments by a lot (our interest rate dropped from 6.something to 4.125%, which saves a lot month-to-month) That’s been the biggest peace of mind thing we’ve done. I feel like the savings we’re getting will pay for diapers and all the other surprise baby expenses
Adam: One thing that I tell everyone that is expecting is to start buying and storing baby stuff like diapers, wipes, formula, food, baby wash, shampoo, etc. I recommend buying one thing on every grocery trip. That way you don’t have a large outlay when the baby first comes.
Sarah: That’s a great idea.
Adam: We did it with both Kennedy and Anya and then didn’t have to buy anything for the first several months.
Sarah: I’ll talk to Jeff about it.

Your grocery bill and clothing expenses will be largely impacted

Sarah: Adam, how much do babies cost? That’s our biggest question.
Adam: A lot ;)
Sarah: Like we can figure out how much diapers cost, but how many diapers do babies use? How much of our budget will they eat in a month? (And don’t say each kid is different, there’s got to be a ballpark)
Adam: I’ll give you some details of our finances.

  • When Erina and I were first married, we spent around $100-150 a month on groceries. Our budget is now $600 a month, which is only obtainable because Erina is fantastic at coupons. Caveats: we eat better than we did when we first got married and food costs have risen over the last four years.
  • Newborns go through diapers like you wouldn’t believe. That decreases as they get older. Anya goes through 2-4 in a day now. Breast feeding saves a lot of money (about $25 a week) and is better for the baby anyways.
  • Babies grow quickly so you will go through clothes very quickly. So buy a lot of cheap, basic clothing and have fewer nice outfits. Also, grandmas usually take care of this anyways.

You are better off over-estimating costs and getting a Costco membership

Sarah: Holy smokes, Adam. I think we were underestimating how expensive babies are. Lol. $600 on groceries per month?! And more than 4 diapers a day? Thank you for the insights, though, even if they are overwhelming
Adam: At first, babies can go through 6-10 diapers a day. Though it does vary by baby ;)
Sarah: OH my. That means that we’re going to have to change 70 diapers per week at first?
Adam: That is a possibility.
Adam: If you don’t have a Costco membership, you may want to consider one.
Sarah: We do have one, luckily.

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