What My Parents Taught Me About Money

Little eyes are always watching.

How many times have you heard that line as a parent? Probably at least 30,000 if I’m speaking from personal experience. Lately, I’ve been looking back at my childhood and realizing just how true that is. My parents taught me a lot about life in the moments they didn’t know I was watching. They taught me about relationships (both good and bad), respecting my elders, how to be a parent, and they also taught me about money.

One of my earliest memories is of my dad sitting at his desk each month balancing his checkbook. He never paid a bill late and always knew just how much he had in his account. My dad wrote checks for everything, and always took out $20 extra when he paid for groceries so he’d have cash for things he couldn’t use a check for. He was also super cheap, in fact, some things he did I didn’t realize were ‘green’ until I became an adult. My dad just did them because he couldn’t stand to spend unnecessary money.

For example, we never had paper towels in our house, rags were used instead. And the lights were always turned off when we left a room. My dad packed my lunch every single day for school because it was cheaper than buying me the school lunch. Breakfasts were also the same meal most days, oatmeal and toast because it was cheap and filling.

When he did spend money it was to take us to specials nights at restaurants. We never missed an all you can eat buffet night at Pizza Hut if my dad could help it. And he would spend money on our birthdays. He had no idea what to do with a little girl, so he would sit in a chair at Claire’s and let me go to town filling up my basket every Christmas and birthday, which looking back was pretty dang amazing.

My mom, on the other hand, was a shopper. But she didn’t always have the budget for big spending. My mom was not scared of a clearance rack and taught me how to get the best bang for my buck while filling my closet. My mom also holds onto close so long that they come back into fashion, which I’m sure has helped her budget over the years.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents aren’t perfect with their finances. There has been debt and bad decisions, which have taught me a lot as well. Once my dad even told me that car payments were just a part of life. But the way my parents have handled it has shown me I can overcome my own debt. And reach financial freedom some day.

What did your parents teach you about money? What are you teaching your children? Tell me your stories in the comments section below.

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Back To School Tips That Will Save You Money

 

Back to school shopping is exciting for everyone. The kids are excited about going back to school, and you’re excited to have a clean house again when they are in school! But, back to school shopping can also be stressful, especially if you don’t have a plan. It can easily get overwhelming and expensive, which no one wants to deal with, but it doesn’t have to be. There are things you can do to keep your budget on track while shopping for back to school items. Below are five back to school tips that I use every year to save me money and keep my budget in check.

Set a Budget

The first step in sticking to a budget is setting a budget. It’s easy to go overboard if you don’t set a limit. Your limit might be different based on school uniforms or the cost of living in your area. My budget this year is $420. That’s $120 each for school clothes per kid, and $60 for Addi’s supplies since Atlas and Austen will not need to purchase supplies this year.

Shop Your Home First

I might have a slight craft hoarding problem. I have so many sets of paper, crayons, and markers around my house it’s probably not healthy. One of the ways I’m saving money is by shopping what I already have first. Pencils, crayons, and watercolor paint will not need to be bought. Addi’s pencil box from last year will work fine for this year, and so will her backpack.

By shopping my house first, I will save a ton of money in the end.

Check Your Ads

Check your weekly ads to make sure you are getting the best deals. You might find a great deal on Crayola at Target, but JC Penny’s might have a better deal on uniforms. I like to make a day out of back to school shopping, that way I can hit up all the stores I need to in order to get the best deals.

Utilize Coupons

Check your local paper, store ads, and scour the internet for coupons to help you save money on back to school purchases. Target often offers coupons in their ads, as do many other stores. You can also look for manufacturer coupons for other things you need, such as facial tissue and hand sanitizer. Combine these coupons with the sales in your store’s ads for maximum savings.

Buy Used

Kids are hard on clothes, and when I became a parent I thought this would be something they would grow out of. Ten years in though, my oldest is still just as hard on her clothes as her little brother and siblings.

Because of this I often can’t bring myself to purchase their clothing new. I would rather spend half the price on a used pair of jeans because I know it will end up with holes in the knees within a few months. The only time I really deviate from this is to buy from Target’s Cat and Jack line, and that’s because they have a one-year durability guarantee as long you keep the receipt. I have a special envelope in my desk to hold receipts for this reason.

Buy Extra

Many schools ask that you donate classroom supplies, such as paper towels and hand sanitizer, twice a year at back to school time and then again after the winter holidays. This doesn’t bother me as a parent like it does some, maybe because my degree is in elementary education. I know that schools do not get very good funding and they really do need help from parents to donate these items.

To help myself be able to give what is needed to our schools without breaking my budget I buy extras of these items at the beginning of the year when I can get great deals on back to school sales. I then just store them in my basement closet until the school needs them again. That way I only have to budget for them once, and often pay the lowest prices for them when I do. I’m also helping my kid’s school out in a way that I know they need.

Do you have any tips to save money on back to school shopping? Let me know in the comments below!

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6 Strategies I’m Using to Save Money and Pay Off Debt in 2018

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Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” I have big goals for 2018, so I need a solid plan to tackle them. I’ve been racking my brain for weeks now in order to come up with ideas to help me reach my goals. Strategies that help me save money and still bring myself closer to my goal of financial freedom.

In 2018 my strategies for saving money and paying off debt are going to center around the following:

Buying my kids clothing off season

I love buying used clothing for my kids, but sometimes good quality clothes that are in fashion are hard to find in my kids sizes. Maybe it’s because they are at an age where jeans can only last 3-4 months before holes are appearing in the knee, but whatever it is my last three trips to my favorite used clothing store have been a bust. I have had more luck on apps such as Poshmark (sign up with code OHANA1 to get 5.00 off your first purchase), but not enough to make a huge dent in my kids closets.

So this year I have devised a new plan, or really it’s an old plan that I am reimplementing, to buy my kids clothing a year beforehand. For example, an adorable sweater for my daughter over half off at Target in next years size.

This strategy requires patience, such as waiting until stores are offering additional discounts off of clearance wracks, but it can be very rewarding.

Meal Planning and Couponing

In 2018 I plan to get hardcore into meal planning again, as well as couponing in my own way. I plan to do a whole post and follow up YouTube video on my grocery shopping and couponing strategies in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned!

Balancing My Bank Account Every Week

It’s hard to save money if you are not keeping track of exactly how much money you have. In 2018 I plan to write down every transaction I make as I make it, as well as balancing the checkbook once a week to keep our household on track. To balance my checkbook I use a really easy system. Just a notebook where I can draw the lines myself and keep an entire years worth of transactions in one place.

Practicing The Art of Saying No

Aw, this is a hard one for me. I have a tendency to be a yes person, I really care about what others think. So if someone invites me to their new MLM business party, I feel obligated to go. Like being a good friend is tied into saying yes and giving them my money. Thankfully I chose strategically when I picked the first book from my 2018 Reading List. The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*CK has helped me learn that saying no doesn’t mean I’m a jerk, and that I can do so in a way that doesn’t hurt others feelings.

So this year I am practicing saying no more often, and saving my f*cks (and money) for things I really and truly care about.

Budget, Budget, Budget

I feel like this one is a given, but still needs to be said. A budget is the key to keeping your finances on track. If you don’t tell your money where to go it gets reckless. This year I am committed to budgeting every single penny. That way I don’t get off track like I did last year (and the year before).

Rewarding Myself

Finally, I will reward myself. Which may seem counterproductive to my end goal but I feel that it is important. Blow money every month will help control my impulse shopping, and setting rewards for goals will hopefully help me stay motivated. I just have to make sure my rewards are frugal but still fun. Like a new bottle of nail polish, or a coffee at my favorite local cafe.

Minimal Waste Consumerism Tips That Won’t Bust Your Budget

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Less waste and being less consumeristic often go hand in hand. But unless you live on your own acreage, off the grid homestead, it’s often impossible to never buy anything every again. So what do you do when it’s time to buy, and how do you do so while keeping to your minimal waste ideologies?

I’m not going to lie, it’s not always easy, but I’ve compiled a few tips that I have learned that do make it possible. Sometimes you just have to be a little creative, patient, and be willing to do a little bit of research.

Buy Used:

When you buy something used you are not only saving a garment from the landfill but you are also saving energy. The more you buy second hand makes the energy used to make your clothing go farther. Buying used is also good for your budget, because second hand clothing often comes with a big discount. I try to find second hand items from good quality brands that will last me for years to come.

Buy Once:

There are some items like bras and panties that I just don’t want to buy used, period. With items like these I choose the buy once mentality. I am willing to pay more money once for an item that will last me years. Sure those 14.99 bras from Target and Wal-Mart are tempting, but when they fall apart in six months it makes them not very practical for my budget or the planet. I have yet to find a bra that is both long lasting and eco friendly, so long lasting wins on this one. I’m still on the hunt, but for now Victoria’s Secret has me in their pocket. I had one bra last through six years and two pregnancies so I’d say they are definitely worth their money although they do have some questionable ethics issues.

Buy With Green in Mind:

Whether I am buying used or new I first try to buy with green in mind. As often as I can I try to buy pieces that are made with 100% biodegradable materials such as cotton, silk, linen, or bamboo. So when I am done with these items years down the road (after I’m done wearing them, and if they are not in a condition where I can donate them, I turn them into rags) I can throw them directly into the compost.  Buy buying with green in mind I am able to send a lot less items to the landfill from my closet.

Be Picky:

At 28 years old I think I am just now starting to figure out this style thing. I’ve stopped looking at what is in right now, and I’m focused more on me. What I like, what looks good on me, what feels comfortable and still looks halfway decent while I’m chasing around three kids each day.  I’ve also found certain brands and styles that both fit my ethics and the way I want to dress. While I’m open to trying out other brands, I won’t settle for less than what my favorites give me. Like my J.crew tee’s that are made with 100% linen or cotton (so I can compost them when I am done) and provide me with a great fit. But at 39.50 brand new they don’t really fit well into my budget.

Which brings me to my last tip…

Patience Is a Virtue:

Ah patience, definitely not a virtue that I was born with. That being said, there’s definitely something to say about it though. Now don’t get me wrong, I will always feel the urge to buy that cute cardigan at Target, but I’ve learned to be patient and wait. If after a few days I still really want the sweater I’ll search thrift stores for a similar item, and then Poshmark and eBay if I can’t it locally. It doesn’t always happen instantly, but if I check weekly I can usually find the items I am wanting fairly soon. Nine times out of ten I can find a similar item of great quality (sometimes even better) gently used for at least half off.

Both my budget, and the planet thank me for it.

Minimal Waste School Supplies Must Haves

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With fall just around the corner and school years getting under way it is easy to get into a frenzy of school supplies shopping and allow thoughts of minimal waste to be put on the back burner. But going minimal waste while back to school is a lot easier than you think! Here are a few items I found that will both help our planet, and help your little scholar fill their brain.

Pencils do not have to be made with metal ends and eraser tips. These Sprout pencils, for example, can be completely zero waste and actually turn into plants when you are done using them. Of course you will still need an eraser, no one is perfect. Go for a latex free eraser to help minimize it’s impact on your planet while also keeping your pages clean.

 

Highlighters are important for taking notes, but they don’t have to be incased in plastic. Pencil highlighters are an actual thing, and won’t bleed through your paper.

Art supplies are always tricky. You can buy colored pencils made out of reforested wood, and I am dying to try out these earth paints with the littles this fall. But for crayons I will almost always go with Crayola (come on, you know they are the best and they are at least non-toxic, we cut down on waste by melting them down to reuse) and I have not yet found a plastic free marker set, but crayola has an awesome program where you can recycle markers made by them and others. Maybe you could get your child’s teacher involved to collect all the used up markers throughout the year to send to be recycled!

For older kids I am in love with these Decomposition Books, made from 100% recycled paper and chlorine free. To keep it all together I don’t think anything would last longer than an aluminum binder, but you could also choose a ReBinder made from recycled chip board. The rings even easily unscrew for easy recycling.

To carry lunch for your hungry scholars the PlanetBox is a popular option, but honestly it’s not in my budget. I am eyeing this stainless steel LunchBots box for Addi’s lunch on co-op days this year. It’s three compartments keep food separate, and it’s small enough to fit in her lunch bag easily. I’m also planning to grab a few reusable sandwich bags to hold treats and snacks for recess time.

And last, but certainly not least, no school supplies list is complete without something to carry it all in. While I have yet to find a 100% waste free backpack, I feel like JanSport is a good second option. They’re lifetime warranty on packs, bags, and luggage make them a safer bet for the environment and your budget.

Back to school can be stressful, especially as a parent. But it does not have to pack a huge punch to the planet. With a little planning and extra thought, you can easily have an earth friendly school year this year.

Oh and speaking of planning, don’t forget to check out this list to see if your state participates in tax free weekend or even a tax free week for additional school supplies savings this school year, because keeping our budget in mind is important too!