Shopping and Kids: A Terrible Combination

How To Say “No” To Your Kids

We’ve all seen it: the kid screaming in the store because they so desperately want the toy that is the only thing that is standing between them and eternal happiness. And the mother, red-faced and angry, trying to complete her shopping while her kid is screaming and howling across the store.

And sometimes you are that mother and the only thing standing you between you and eternal happiness is your kid stopping to scream. So there are really only two options: give in to the kid or have a shopping trip from hell. Neither are ideal. This is only made worse if you cannot actually afford to buy the child said item. Kids don’t really get that when it comes to bread vs. random action figure then bread wins every time. They just assume that they will be well-fed, no matter what. And it comes down to us, the poor parents, to make those difficult decisions (not). But no matter how tight money is, there is probably not a mother in the world who considered giving in to her child when that tantrum starts.

Two weeks ago, I had a lot less cash than I usually did. This meant no extra spending on anything. Since I am very strict about using my credit card (emergencies only-and that means medicine.) I had taken my kids to the park and I just couldn’t deal with the inevitable walk home past all the lovely shops on the way to my house. Even without the possible tantrums-who can handle that look of longing and heartbreak on those adorable faces? So I did something that I thought was pretty smart- walk the long way around and miss all the stores entirely. It took longer-but hey-we can all use a little extra exercise!

So how do you say “no” to your kids?

The best way is to avoid the situation altogether. Basically, I don’t take my kids to the store. Ever. And no-this doesn’t mean that I just leave them at home with a babysitter or ordering everything online. This usually means, early morning trips or very late store trips. Or waiting until my husband comes home or husband doing the shopping instead of me even though I don’t like the vegetables he picks out. It’s not easy to organize this way but it certainly beats taking my children shopping! And I save money this way! And please don’t take your kids to a really “fun” store if you are not planning/cannot afford to get them anything-it’s too hard for those little people to control themselves!

When I do take my kids to the store there is a LOT of preparation involved:

  1. I set out expectation beforehand: “We are only buying milk and bread- nothing else” or “We can pick out 1 treat- and I have to approve of it”.
  2. In the store I try to keep them as engaged as possible in what we actually have to buy. I let them pick the items of the shelf. I offer options- red or green peppers? I have them hold the items that we are purchasing.
  3. Before we get to the checkout (where enticing options are usually lurking) I remind them again: “we are not buying anything this time- only the milk and bread that we picked out” or “You already picked out one treat -we are not getting anything else”.
  4. I praise them constantly for not complaining and make a big deal when we leave the store about their great behavior: “wow! I am so proud that you didn’t even ask for a toy!”

How do you make saying “no” to your kids less painful? How do you make sure your kids don’t derail your budget?

Do you have your holiday list done?

I don’t mean the gifts you are going to buy for people. I mean the amounts that you are willing/able to spend. Money is tight in our household these days so we are setting pretty strict limits on what we are going to spend this holiday season. Thank goodness my kids are young and don’t expect much! What I do is figure out the amount that I can spend this year. I look at what I have in my “Holiday” account and figure out approximately what will be added from now until then.

Then I take the following things into account:

  1. Gifts- who I am I buying for this year?
  2. Tips- who expects them? Who do I want to show appreciation for? What is the standard for teacher’s gifts?
  3. Parties- I am throwing any this year? How much will that run me?
  4. Extras- doughnuts, hot cocoa, peppermint bark… the list goes on. Which seasonal items do we think we are going to purchase?

Then I allocate the amount that I have by all the “obligations” I have. Maybe this year I won’t make a party. Maybe I will but on a really tight budget. Maybe our “extras” will be pretty skimpy this year. Is there anything I can DIY?

I set a dollar price on gifts. As all the stores come out with their sales and catalogs I look at each one and see what fits into my price range. if I find a great deal, then I either have more to spend on that person or more for another person. For example, my budget for my son is $10 this year (I told you money is tight!). He really wants playmobile. I check all the deal sites and set up an Amazon price alert. As soon as the price drops under $10- I will purchase it and hide it! If I spend less- great! If the price never drops- I will have to see if I saved money elsewhere to buy him what he wants. If I don’t have that extra money he will have to do with something else. (It better go down in price!)

We are trying to raise our kids to enjoy and appreciate the holidays BESIDES for the gifts they receive. Gifts are MOST ASSUREDLY NOT the center of our holiday season. Of course, they are getting a gift- I am not going to deprive them of that totally. But the gift that they will receive will be within our budget- as modest as it may be. I would not be doing them any favors to raise them to focus overly on gifts or to put our (and therefore their) financial future in jeopardy to go into debt to buy them a present!

 

Blogger Recognition Award

I was nominated by Melanie from Partners in Fire for a Blogger Recognition award. Thank you so much Melanie for all your support! Melanie is a great blogger who is pursuing Financial Independence. Follow her on twitter and subscribe to her blog to receive her latest blog posts by email.

The Award
The Blogger Recognition Award is given by bloggers to recognize others within the blogging community. It’s a great way to recognize each other for the hard work we put in. It’s also a great way to support the bloggers we know and love.
The Rules:
Thank the Blogger who nominated you (me!)
Write a post as to why you started your blog
Include 2 bits of advice you would give to other bloggers
Nominate other bloggers and comment on their response

I am a mother in my 20’s. About 2 years ago, I lost my job. I had 1 child and one on the way. My husband is still a student and brings in very little money with some of his side jobs. That period was one of the worst in my life, but one of the greatest learning experiences. (More on that story later). We lived on nothing. We made it through on my husband’s part-time job and the money I made doing survey’s online (no it wasn’t a lot!) but we were determined not to go into major debt. Since then I have (Thank g-d!) gotten a job. But we are still a family living on a pretty tight budget although we are lucky enough to have no debt (again follow my blog to hear that story one day).

When you spend time so focused on personal finance and being frugal you start to notice how much other people are messing up their finances;) and I realized how much I enjoy reading and learning about personal finances. This meant that I had so much to share on the topic. I quickly realized that I was boring my friends and family with my financial musings and advice so I decided to start this blog anonymously. It’s pretty much a secret from my family and friends.

Thus “A Dime Saved” was born- I offer financial advice for the newly starting out on their financial journey and for those who are not in a position to save tons of money and who have to stretch their food budget every week. Since its my blog I also get to share my own advice and musings on personal finance and life.

I do this blog as a hobby- to get my sanctimonious advice out my system and to utilize my writing skills. If I make some money from this blog then I wont complain! I will just dump it all into my 3-6 month emergency fund which is pretty slow in coming!

My Advice (for what it’s worth):
1. Just do it- don’t think too much about it- post what you can and you can always go back and edit later. Don’t focus on perfection- just share what you can.
2. Don’t focus on the money- I know! I Know! We all need extra money in our lives, especially when you have so little of it. But making money from blogging is a long, slow process and focusing on the money aspect too much can really bog you down. Enjoy the process.

Nominations:
The FI Guys
Guided by Coffee
Mint Habits

Why My Kids Get No Screen Time

My kids don’t get “screen time”- in other words, they don’t watch TV. We don’t own one and I don’t allow them to watch anything on our tablet or phones either. Actually, my kids don’t even ask to watch TV- we don’t have one and they have never watched on a Tablet-as they don’t even think of it as an option. They are still young so I still have some measure of control over what they know. By not having it in the house at all I can make sure that I don’t just “give in”- even for a short amount of time.

Besides for the financial savings (No TV, no cable, no Netflix, no Hulu, no Amazon Prime, No DVD Rentals, no device for each kid) I want to raise my kids with good habits right from the start. My kids are still young so I still have the opportunity to raise them without the peer pressure and external influences that start to seep in as they grow older.

TV is on for an average of 6 hours and 47 minutes a day in an American household. The number is staggering! Think about what you can do with all that extra time! My kids read, do arts and crafts, play with toys, play with mud, and just hang out. They are learning to do things with their time that are much more valuable that just sitting in front of a screen. This may not continue until adulthood but they are not getting into the habit of sitting- they are getting into the habit of doing.

TV also is FULL of marketing messages- subtle and overt. When we TV and movies we are bombarded with different messages that OTHER people decide to share with us- usually in the pursuit of making themselves money (everyone’s gotta make a living!). I have no need for my children to be exposed to that. Think of all the branded merchandise and characters that are available and marketed directly towards children. We hear and bemoan the “marketing zombies” that so many people have become- why should I offer my kids up for that?

This may not be directly related to personal finance (even though think about the money we save by not buying a TV or any subscriptions services!) but its about creating life-long habits in ourselves and our children. Its about starting as you mean to go on.

About Death and Incapacitation

It is not something we like to talk about or even think about.

A bunch of us were collecting money for a group gift.

“I’ll send you money soon” one women wrote “my husband is not home and I don’t know the login to my bank account. He takes care of the finances.”

I have no problem with any division of labor in a relationship. If a couple decides that the husband should be on charge of the finances completely, I have no problem with that. Do what work for you. If she wanted to wait till her husband came home to discuss this with him or have him handle the money transfer, then that’s great. What I have a problem with is that if something would have happened to her husband- she would not have had a way to access her money.

(Disclaimer: I am using the terms husband and wife in this post but this obviously applies to any type of relationship you may have and whomever you have who takes care of your finances: whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, significant other, mother, father, great-aunt etc.)

Think for one moment (even though you don’t want to)- what would happen if you husband (or whomever takes care of the finances) would die or be incapacitated for whatever reason. WOULD YOU HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR MONEY? WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO USE YOUR MONEY? Do you know where the money is hidden? What the code to the safe is? Would you know where your money is? Do you have the login info? Do you know how to retrieve the money you need? DO you know how to pay your bills?

For some of you reading this, you may think this is crazy. Of course you know this information- if so-good for you! But you would be surprised by how many people (particularly women) DO NOT have this information or access.

I was talking about this with some friends- one person had an issue with this: what’s the big deal? Just reset the password? Just go to the bank with paperwork and they will give you access. Possibly. Probably. But how long would it take? Do you have access to the email account which is connected to the bank account? Do you have paperwork proving you should have access to the money? Can you wait until Monday at 9 am to do this? Do you have time to wait for the manager to verify your identity?

Chances are, when unfortunately dealing with death or incapacitation this is NOT something you want to deal with.

So…

Know where your money is. Know which accounts you have and with which banks. If for some reason, you have separate accounts or private accounts- perhaps consider having a list of some sort (in a SAFE, SECURE space) that lists these details for the person you wish to have access to your account in the event you are unable to communicate with them.

Make sure your spouse knows that passwords to your bank accounts, email accounts etc. If you can’t trust them with this information than perhaps you should reconsider your relationship.

Designate your spouse as your emergency contact and “additional user?” on your accounts, credit cards etc.
If you have separate credit cards, consider naming your spouse as an additional user who has access the credit card as well.

If you spouse is unwilling to give you this information- you must seriously consider why. Financial abuse is a real thing and help is available if you need it. (Contact https://www.thehotline.org/ if you feel you may be the victim of financial abuse)

Again, this doesn’t mean that you have to take care of your daily finances if that doesn’t work in your relationship. Many couples are very happy with the division of labor that they have chosen. That’s ok. But make sure that you have the KNOWLEDGE and ACCESS that you need in case of an emergency.

Caring about someone means making sure they have the ability to take care of themselves after you are gone as well.