If your pocket book is feeling a little lighter after the holidays, you’re not alone.
According to Beverly Anderson, executive director for Ebenezer Child Care Centers, “Now is the perfect time to make a New Year’s resolution to be more cautious with your spending and teach your children the importance of saving as well.”
“Children learn their spending habits from their parents. That’s why it’s so critical to teach your children early on why we need to set budgets, spend only when it is necessary, and save for the future.”
Anderson says money issues are one of the biggest sources of conflict in a marriage, and that one of the greatest things you can teach your children is to be financially responsible.
“The great recession over the past few years has reinforced why we all need to have six months’ worth of our salaries in savings. By planning ahead and saving a percentage of your salary every month, you can prevent a lot of stress if you do get laid off unexpectedly.”
According to Anderson, there are several ways in which a family can work together to save money and teach children about the significance of the almighty dollar. She suggests hosting a family meeting to discuss this concept and brainstorm clever money-saving ideas.
“Believe it or not, children can offer some really great ideas regarding this subject, and by working together, you can actually have fun while reducing your family’s expenses.”
Money saving ideas Anderson suggests considering include:
• Having everyone keep a watchful eye out for coupons, in-store specials, and online savings for their favorite things;
• Only going clothing shopping when you need something – not just for fun;
• Planning your meals for the week based upon what is on sale and only going out to eat for special occasions;
• Making coffee at home and using a travel mug;
• Working together to make sure unnecessary lights are turned off and the heat is turned down at bedtime or before you leave for the day;
• Going to the public library on a regular basis for books and videos instead of buying books and using Redbox or Netflix;
• Putting your spare change into a piggy bank at the end of every day;
• Walking, instead of driving, whenever possible and carpooling when you do need to drive; and
• Cutting your children’s hair.
“These simple ideas can literally save a family hundreds of dollars throughout the year.”
Anderson also suggests talking with families you know to see if you are able to swap outgrown clothing or unwanted toys in exchange for something you need.
“The barter system can work well to help stretch budgets,” says Anderson.
Or, if you aren’t comfortable this idea, Anderson suggests cleaning out your closets and posting your unwanted items on eBay or having a rummage sale in the spring.
“Not only will it feel good to get rid of the clutter,” says Anderson, “but you’ll also make money from items that were just taking up space.”
Earning an Allowance
Anderson recommends that, in addition to implementing money-saving tactics with your family, you establish a weekly allowance for your children over the age of five.
She says to do this you will first need to sit down with your children to determine what jobs they will be responsible for. Then you will need to monitor them to make sure they are doing these jobs, encourage them, and then compensate them weekly if they are doing a good job.
“The work it takes to earn an allowance helps children develop a sense of gratitude for how hard you have to work to support your family. It also teaches them that the family unit is a team where everyone needs to pitch in. And most importantly, it helps to instill a strong work ethic early on in their life,” says Anderson.
Finally, Anderson suggests that you set up a savings account for each your children, so they can see the power of saving first-hand. She recommends that every time your children earn money for an allowance or receive money as a gift, you encourage them to save at least 50 percent of it. This will help them develop good savings habits down the road.
Anderson says a number of local banks have great kid’s clubs with various incentives to help teach kids to save.
“The point is to get them in the habit of paying themselves first by saving part of their money at early age, so it becomes a habit that they do as adults without even thinking about it.”
Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.
Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers a variety of free Family Fun Nights and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.
The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, in Greenfield, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.