We are making a grand effort at our home to cut back where we can and question whether or not we really need what we are about to buy. Through a new series, Savvy Spenders, I’m trying to teach my oldest daughter some lessons about responsible consumerism. Thankfully we are not forced to be making these choices. However, I really want my kids to learn the importance of spending wisely because someday they will benefit from the lesson. The instant gratification of the $5.00 toy should make way for college savings or donations to the local food pantry.
I recently put our new focus to the test during back to school shopping. My first step was to go online and find coupons for clothing stores. I told Sophia that we were only going to shop at those stores. I had a 40% off for Justice, a $10.00 off for JCPenny and a fantastic Groupon for the Gap equal to $25.00. We made a point of finding sale items whenever possible while still allowing Sophia to select items that she liked and would wear. Our total savings including coupons and sale items was roughly $150.00. The greater lesson here is that Sophia is beginning to look at what things cost and thinking about what she really needs.
I asked Sophia if there is anything she’d like to share about our shopping day today and she said, “even if you have to shop with coupons, you can still find things that you like to wear”. She also said that, “back to school shopping is really fun”.
What does your family do to save money for back to school shopping?
It is that time when we need to start thinking about back to school. I’m slowly but surely completing little projects around the house that will help prepare the family for what lies ahead. It is a good time to stop and make certain your kids will have a place to put all of their homework and important papers when they run through the door. Please visit my post from January on creating a little homework center for the kids. I’ll be back on Friday with some Savvy Finds that will help support your homework center.
My very wise friend Karla made an observation while cleaning and organizing a few weeks ago. Her kids were letting go of their childhood toys and she was struck by the amount of seemingly wasted stuff she was tossing. The plastic toys that get played with once or twice, the stickers, superballs, Polly Pockets and such that accumulate all over the house. She wrote, “I felt like I was flushing thousands of dollars away. I wanted to go back and relive every $6.00 purchase and salt away that money for the things I’d really like to give them now; a bigger college fund, a teenage bedroom, private music lessons, hockey camp”.
Her comments have been running over and over in my head for the last couple of weeks. I wrestle with this in my own home and have tried to find a solution. The problem with just saying “no” at the store, is that a life lesson at the store level doesn’t really work with a kid. Kids can’t grasp the benefit of long-term savings. How can I teach my child responsible consumerism?
My (7-year-old) daughter Sophia and I are launching the Savvy Spenders Project and I’m encouraging all of you to try it at home. Savvy Spenders will apply to all “extra” purchases that are non-essential to running a home, (so groceries and other essentials are exempt). We sat down together and came up with the following guidelines;
When at the store and considering a purchase we will ask, IS THIS NECESSARY? If not, we will pass and record how much money we’ve saved. I’ll probably just use notes on my Blackberry or send myself an email with the amount so that I can record it.
At the end of three months we are going to see what we’ve saved by just NOT BUYING. Half of the savings can go toward a family purchase, (ice cream out or something fun) and the other half will go to charity. By the way, the charity idea was Sophia’s. She will help determine how we spend what was saved – I think this is key.
I’ll blog about it from time to time, including some Q&A with Sophia. If you plan to try something like this in your own home, I encourage you to keep it simple. Notice that we haven’t started out with a lot of rules around what we are trying to do. She’s 7 and I’m busy, so our process needs to be simple and easy to maintain.
As always, please send me your ideas, thoughts and comments. Happy Saving!
Facebook and other forms of social media have become a standard means of communication in most households. As a business owner and a marginally tech savvy parent, I do see the value and the importance of learning and using these tools…within limits. What guidelines have you established within your home to make certain that it has not become a drain on your time? Have you stopped to consider how many times you’ve ended up on your computer instead of completing a task or even taking a minute for yourself?
Here are the considerations I’ve made to determine what part of my day can be devoted to social media;
1. I’ll only check Facebook, Twitter etc… after I’ve finished my morning routine. Beds get made, kitchen is cleaned, bathrooms wiped down and laundry in.
2. 5 to 10 minutes max to catch up on social media and see what everyone is doing.
3. If it is a school day, then I get to work. I obviously use social media for my business, but I even keep that to a minimum. I see the importance of it for my business, but keeping a reality check is important. My job is part-time and I’m FULL-TIME mom first. I have consistent clients that pay me for stellar service so that has to be my focus. If I have time to spare, then that goes to building my business and some social media. There are only so many hours in the day and when my head hits the pillow at night I need to be okay with what I’ve accomplished. The day does not have to be perfect, my house does not have to be perfect, but there has to be progress.
4. While I feel my kids should know about various forms of social media, I personally think they are too young to use them. Sometimes when I’m working on my blog, using Facebook or Twitter, they’ll sit on my lap and I’ll explain how it works. I set up an email account for my oldest so that she can type notes to her Grandma and that’s the extent of it.
5. It is important for me and my family that we take time for the “old-fashioned” forms of communication. Calling a friend on the phone certainly beats a post to their page. Last week the girls and I made cards and sent them to family members. They spent about an hour and a half creating and writing. You can’t beat that.
As summer begins, spend a little time this week and create a social media guideline for your family. What parameters can you put in place to make certain that you can get all of your tasks done, spend time with your family and friends but still have time to catch up on Facebook?
I can learn a lot from watching my kids. I’ve spent A LOT of time trying to organize their art and creative supplies. Believe me, I’ve come up with some incredible systems. So incredible that they still can’t seem to keep their desk clean. I decided to treat my kids as one of my clients and I think we’ve finally got a solution. I stopped to take the time to watch how they work and discuss what they use. The reality is that they didn’t need 10 baskets of art supplies. What they really needed and wanted was their own little caddy that is not only portable, but EASY to clean up. Instead of 50 markers, 10 will do. One glue stick, one scissors, one watercolor, you get the picture. They are still just as creative with fewer choices and clean up time is a happier time.
There is a lesson here for adults as well. Less is more, yes?
I am totally guilty of selecting the wrong organizing product just because it looks cool. “I can totally make that work”. Famous last words. Think about how the system will actually work before you implement. Is it really the answer or just something that will look amazing until your system falls apart?
I’ll give you an example from my own home. I designed a system around a product that is too complicated for my kids to maintain. If they can’t pick-up their own room then the point of teaching them skills and showing the importance of taking care of their toys will be lost. I purchased a very “slick” chair/container for their stuffed toys. The reality was that it was too hard to put the stuffed animals in the chair and too difficult to maintain. I streamlined to a clear tote that holds everything and both girls and manage play and pick-up easily. Does it look as cool? Probably not. Does it function more efficiently and can my girls maintain it on their own. YES!
Do you have any organizing Do Overs?
Posted in Family, Home, Kids
For your savvy finds this week I’m challenging you to “think outside the box” and create a new craft kit. I am loving the Art Bin floor caddy – useful and mobile. A great toolbox can easily be converted into a cool new craft tote with great compartments for all the glue, glitter and sparkles. I’m inspired to create a new art kit for my kids on this rainy New England weekend. Do you have a favorite pick below?