Financial Intelligence for Kids

In an effort to keep toys from overrunning our home and at the same time teach the kids about personal finances we came up with a rule for toy acquisition. It goes like this:

When there is a new toy that they want, we find out the price.  Then we go through their current toy inventory and find toys they no longer play with and determine how many we’ll need to sell to earn enough money to buy the new toy.

My son had a remote-controlled firetruck that was just sitting in the garage. His new love affair is with Legos.  So we put his beloved fire truck up for sale on our local Facebook sale group so he could start earning money for Legos.  He felt proud when he saw that people would pay him for his toys and that he was saving up for what he really wanted.

It really helped him understand that the things he wants cost money and that we have to earn that money to get what we want.  It’s a small bit of knowledge but I hope it will build into something bigger and set him up for a financially solid future.



Easy College Savings

The easiest way to save for your kids’ college: As soon and your child “graduates” from daycare, start putting that same amount of money into a college savings account. By the time your child is ready to go to college, you will have enough saved to allow them to borrow the money from you rather than from a bank.

I did this then made a deal with my kids: Any class they got a B+ or better, was free. Less than a B+, they needed to pay back that portion of the tuition payment. This gave them the incentive to study and get good grades and to feel like they earned their education rather than having it handed to them.


Budgeting by Hand

Once a month, I get a fresh piece of ledger paper (the old accounting paper—Google it for a quick download or make your own spreadsheet). I do all my budgeting transactions that way:

I plan out my month and give my money a task—like a job. I do my best at zero budgeting (giving every single dollar a job to do). It’s not easy but it keeps me from overspending. The cash I get at the bank on payday goes into actual envelopes, by categories. This keeps me disciplined.

Being able to physically put my money on paper is powerful. I’m still skeptical linking my about bank account to an app or online program. I’d rather do my online banking, automate any recurring transfers (like my savings) manually on Payday.

This takes less time than having to straighten out ID theft or errors.

Putting the recurring categories on the paper and photocopying for the year helps me.


Lowest Price Possible

Here is a great tool you can use to always get the lowest price on an item. Check out

It is a free price monitoring website that automatically finds and applies codes to get you the lowest price on anything you buy online.

Honey will check to see if there’s a lower price on Amazon so you have the option to purchase from the cheapest place. And be sure to make use of the Droplist feature, which allows you to choose items to price watch. Honey will notify you when the price drops to your preset amount.

This is great when you are thinking of making a purchase, but have time to wait until the price drops. You can also view the price history of an item to get an idea of how low the price may drop.

Honey has saved me hundreds of dollars at the checkout by applying promo codes I didn’t even have to search for! It is a free browser extension, so get it today!

Keep Your Own Records

When I was in college and at the start of my professional life, I worked as a teller at a bank. One very common theme from fielding hundreds of customers and calls was that the balance in their checkbook didn’t match what the bank said they had.

Very often, people would forget where they spent their money and then be upset when they were overdrawn and, subsequently, paying fees.

Fast forward 25 years and I have worked hard with my three girls to instill in them a sense of financial literacy. Whenever I ask them, “What’s mom’s first rule of finances?” they each holler out (as they were well-trained to do), “Keep your own banking records!”

I’ve taught them to balance their accounts and reconcile them with the bank, recording each transaction (how very old fashioned!) so they know where their money goes.


DIY Easy Christmas Fund

You know how much kids love Christmas! It seems like money set aside for Christmas each year disappears before the sleigh bells ring.

For me, a no-fuss way to save money for the Christmas season is to calculate the annual total of one or two of last year’s monthly bills (e.g., electricity $1800 and phone $800). Then, instead of dividing those annual totals by 12, divide by 10 and pay that amount monthly on those accounts through year ahead (e.g., electricity $180 and phone $80).

By November, you will have enough credit on those accounts to skip a payment and use the funds to enjoy the holiday instead—and maybe even some relief in January!


All the Deals in One Place

Everybody loves a good discount, but finding those sales can be difficult and time consuming. That’s why I use this handy-dandy website that puts all of them in one place.

The website is called and it’s got deals for all your favorite stores like Kohls, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Old Navy, and more. They even have leaked deals sometimes which means that you can get a head start on your shopping. Shop away!