Helping a Spender Learn to Save

As our children grow, it has been such a joy watching their personalities develop. It’s amazing how children who have the same parents, live in the same home and spend almost every day together can be so different. Our boys are complete opposites, especially when it comes to money.

Paxton (6 years old) is a natural spender. If he earns or receives a money, he wants to spend it. Over the past year, he’s purchased several small Lego sets, random items at thrift stores and even vending machine stickers. Saving his money for a larger purchase is not something he’s naturally drawn to.

Our Weston (4 years old) is a natural saver. If he earns or receives money, he wants to save it. He’s such a simple boy, he has very few wants and rarely purchases anything. Most of the items he has purchased he has saved for or he has found an animal to go with his farm. Lately when he gets money, he tells us to just put it in savings (referring to his savings account) because he’s saving up to buy a farm and a tractor. He’s thinking about the future and not worried about material things in the present!

We want to raise our children to be wise when it comes to finances so they hopefully will be financially free their entire lives. And, we also know that just because a person has a natural tendency, such as the tendency to spend, it doesn’t mean that they cannot learn to change their ways.

Around Christmas, Paxton found a Star Wars Lego set that he really liked but it was way out of his spending money price range at $59.99. He talked about it for several weeks and pointed it out when we would look at toys.

We thought it would be a great item to set a savings goal for and encouraged him to save his spending money to purchase the Lego set.
Lego Savings Goal

We created a savings goal chart as a visual that we hung up in his room so he could glance at it and see how far he was progressing towards reaching his goal.

We set a goal of saving $70 to cover the Lego set and taxes. Each row on his chart represented $2 but we also allowed him to fill in half a row when he put $1 into his Lego Savings jar.

He had some Christmas money that he decided to go ahead and put towards the goal so he started out with $22 which was a great jump start towards such a lofty goal for a 6-year-old.

At the beginning, he started out slow, putting just a little bit of the money he’d earn or receive into his savings. He preferred putting more of his money into his wallet for spending. Every time he decided he wanted to spend money, we would remind him that he could use that amount of money, even if it was only $1, towards his Lego savings and get closer to his goal. Then, we’d let him make up his mind if he wanted to spend his money or not.

He chose to purchase several small things over the first few months and then he started to get more serious. He received some money from grandparents and great grandparents for Valentines Day and put all of that into his Lego savings. Then he earned some money when he, his daddy and brother helped our neighbor with some farm work and put all of that money (minus his giving) into his savings. After earning that money, he started asking about ways he could make money and we gave him some odd jobs to do to earn a little money.

As his savings grew, his spending decreased and he starting putting more and more of his money towards his savings. With his birthday money, he was able to reach his goal of $70 and he was so excited to finally be able to purchase his Lego set.

Paxton's Legos

We completed the chart and then starting looking for the best deal we could find. We knew the Lego set was $59.99 at WalMart and ToysRUs but we wanted to shop around. We first checked out Craigslist, hoping to find a used set (we always try to buy things used instead of new), then we looked on eBay. With no luck there, we saw that Amazon had the best price online at $54 (it was around $57.50 after tax).

I told him that we could go to WalMart that day and purchase the Lego set for $59.99 plus tax or we could order it on Amazon. By ordering it on Amazon, he’d have to wait 2 days but would save around $6. He decided to order online, save the money and patiently wait. We were a little surprised and very proud that he chose to delay gratification!

We placed the order together and he handed over all that cash. Then we counted up what remained and he had $12.50 that he can apply towards his next savings goal (which we’re not quite sure of at this point).

Opening Legos

Paxton was so excited while waiting for his package to arrive. The day that it arrived, the mail ran very early and we were in the middle of our lessons. That was motivation, he’s never done his math faster! He was so excited to open up his Legos and start building.

This was the biggest set that he has received or purchased and it took him a while to get it all together. I sat with him and helped him build for awhile (and he loves when I play Legos with him since his love language is quality time!)

We hope reaching this financial goal will be remembered in the years to come and that he has learned a little bit about the value of saving.

Related Posts:

Teaching Kids About Money

Teaching Preschoolers About Money

Living a Frugal Life

Living a frugal life is a fitting way to describe our family. We’ve been frugal since the early days of our marriage.

In many ways we’ve mastered the art of frugal living.  Over the years I’ve couponed, shopped clearance racks, consignment sales, yard sales and thrift stores. I’ve rarely purchased boxed or convenience foods, preferring to cook from scratch, have made many of our own beauty products, our laundry detergent and use very few disposable products, preferring reusables (cloth napkins, rags, diapers, etc.)

We married young, lived in a small campus apartment and had a very modest income. We’ve lived simply and frugally our entire marriage but the reasons why we live the way we do have changed.

In our early days of marriage, we wanted to avoid debt. We were committed to living within the income we had. We saved quite a bit for a house downpayment but we also enjoyed consuming. Now, we weren’t able to go buy the latest and greatest or pay full retail for the things we wanted so we consumed frugally. (One of our favorite activities was browsing the local Goodwill.) We weren’t exactly consumeristic but we did enjoy shopping and bought things just because we liked them and not because they were needed.

Now, we’re still frugal. As a family of five living on one income while trying to pay our home off early, frugality is a necessity. We enjoy stretching our dollars as far as they’ll go. However, the focus of our frugality is not so we can consume as much as we possibly can on as little as we can. The focus of our frugality is to live contentedly on the income we have, focusing on our needs and not so much on our wants.

Many of the frugal things we do now are not simply to save money, we do them for environmental reasons. Saving money is just a bonus!

I try to buy as many things as possible used to avoid buying new products that require new resources to produce. I cook from scratch to avoid the excess packaging that comes with convenience foods. We have cloth diapered our babies because each diaper was used over and over (many of them on all 3 of our babies) and they are not sitting in a landfill after one single use like a disposable diaper. I have reusable menstrual products (DivaCup and cloth pantyliners/pads) to avoid single use disposables (and as a bonus they’re so much more comfortable!)

We live on a planet with finite resources. Many Americans give little thought to the fact that each thing they consume and each single use disposable item that gets ‘thrown away’ is using resources and destroying our planet.

We’ve been having conversations with our kids about landfills, how there is no ‘away’ when you throw things away and how cheaply constructed toys and items break quickly and are a waste of resources as well as money.

We’ve been working on reducing our waste by buying less, trying to avoid items with excess packaging (I saw single bell peppers at the grocery store wrapped in plastic!?!), recycling and reusing things we can.

We’ve been only buying things we need (we keep a running needs list) and we’re not shopping as a leisure activity (even when thrifting, I go with a list).

We’re focusing more on needs than wants and as a result, we’re living more frugally than ever.

Related post: 10 Ways to Change Consumption Habits

*Disclosure – There are affiliate links in this post.

Living a Frugal Life - Square

Sharable-MarthaHomeMaryWay-Less

I am a naturally neat and organized person who actually enjoys cleaning. But, this doesn’t mean my home is always neat and clean. I do want it to be tidy and clean always but that isn’t the case.

In fact, over the years since becoming a mother, I’ve learned to relax my standards of neatness and embrace the mess and clutter that comes with having young children. And, I’ve struggled with finding a cleaning routine that works well with our daily rhythms and keeps our bathrooms from getting downright nasty (4 and 5 year old boys can make a bathroom gross very quickly!)

In the introduction of Having a Martha Home the Mary Way, Sarah Mae writes ‘I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not a clean house that defines good homemaking but rather a warm, inviting place that is filled with love.’ Those words need to be taken to heart by everyone who considers themselves a homemaker, household manager or main caretaker of the home, whether you are a woman or a man.

In the book, Sarah Mae shares her struggles in homemaking and offers encouragement to others about valuing their homes as places of love and warmth before measuring their cleanliness. And, this encouragement makes this book an excellent read for mothers, especially mothers of new babies and young children.

The book is broken down into 31 days with each day having an short encouraging piece/devotional, followed by a Mary Challenge which has scripture and questions to help the reader reflect on their life and it ends with a Martha Challenge which is the actual homemaking project. Spreading out the projects (like cleaning out your fridge, purging your closet and organizing the kitchen) over 31 days makes getting your entire home in order seem quite manageable!

I enjoyed following along with the projects cleaning and ridding my home of even more clutter. It was fun for me because I love this type of thing but I really believe even ‘messy’ types would find encouragement and motivation from this book. And, she reminds us to ‘enjoy the seasons God allows you to move through and pray for a contented spirit.’ (Even those seasons of life that include bathrooms that are never clean!)

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way is a simple, fun book that is full of encouragement and practical advice for anyone wanting to clear out some clutter and clean their home better.

*Disclaimer – I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review.

Sharable-MarthaHomeMaryWay-Eternity

 

 

 

For the past 4 years now, I have recorded a day in my life on a January day and shared about our everyday. This year, I recorded our day but never sat down and posted about the day. I finally have taken the time to write about that day.

Here’s a glimpse into my life as a stay at home, homeschooling mama of 3 on Thursday, January 28, 2016:

Quiet Time7:30 – I’m awake and having a few minutes of quiet to myself. It doesn’t last too long because Cecilia wakes around 7:45 (she almost always gets up 15 minutes after me, whether I get up at 6:30 or 8:00!) I read in my Bible, read a few pages in The MessageHow to Listen to God and For the Children’s Sake.

For the Children's Sake

8:30 – Finishing up a chapter in For the Children’s Sake while Cecilia plays quietly in her room and the boys are still sleeping.

Breakfast

9:30 – By now, everybody is up and moving. I’ve prepped breakfast and have served everyone a big bowl of blueberry oatmeal. We finish up oatmeal, tidy up the kitchen and get dressed for the day.

Jackets

10:30 – We’re getting our jackets on to head to town to run a few errands. Thursdays are John David’s late work nights (he typically arrives home around 8:30-9:00) so some Thursday’s we break out of our normal school after breakfast routine and do a fun morning activity.

Salvation Army

11:30 – We drop off a few items at Salvation Army and browse the store for a few minutes. No treasures were found on this trip. Then we head to the library, one of our favorite places!Heading Home

12:30 – Heading home from town, prepping and eating lunch.

Lunch and Reading

1:30 – We’re all finished with lunch so we’re reading a few stories before rest time from Illustrated Stories from Aesop that we checked out from the library!

Cecilia's Nap

2:30 – It took awhile but Cecilia is finally asleep, the boys are resting and I enjoy a few moments of quiet and prep for our learning time.

School

3:30 – We’re in the middle of our lessons for the day. Since my boys are so young, I often sit on the couch and read books to them while they quietly play and then we’ll move into the kitchen for handwriting and math. (This is a page out of Illustrated Elementary Science Dictionary about seeds.)

Tidying the Kitchen

4:30 – Tidying in the kitchen. So much of my days are spent right here cleaning, prepping and cooking food. I’m so thankful that we have an abundance of food and that I am able to nourish my children from my time spent here.

Playing Football

5:30 – Outside for a little while playing football with Paxton. Quality time is one of his love languages and he loves football so kicking and throwing the football around with him makes him feel so loved. We also spent a few minutes weeding some of our garden beds in preparation for spring!

Supper

6:30 – I’m heating up dinner. Tonight we’re having leftover chicken soup – one of my very favorite winter foods.

Lego Game

7:30 – We’re in the boys room, playing the Lego game. It’s super simple and so much fun. We grab our Lego bin and a dice and then roll the dice to see how many pieces we can choose to add to our collaborative creation. It’s so much fun to create together.

8:30 – (No picture because I was exhausted and forgot!) Cecilia is in bed asleep, John David has just arrived home and I’m getting the boys to bed.

9:30 – All of my little ones are sleeping, my husband is home and I’m ending my day with a book. The perfect ending to a winter day.

I’m so thankful for these sweet children of mine and that I am able to stay home and educate them. There really is nothing glamorous about my life but I really am living my dream as a wife and mama!

A Day in My Life Posts from previous years:

January 2015

January 2014

January 2013

January 2012

*This post contains affiliate links to books!