Ever forget your child's allowance?

MoneyTrail automatically keeps track of allowances and keeps you organized.

Every Dollar Counts!

Teach your child to keep track of their money. It reduces impulse spending.

Finances shouldn't cause headaches!

Practicing money skills when young can lead to stress-free, responsible finances as an adult.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pam's Picks: Angry Kids, Angry Birds & a Carnival

There was a wide variety of articles circulating the web this week to wind down 2011.  Here are some that I really enjoyed reading.

My 15 year old sent me a link to this article from Keith Wagstaff at www.techland.time.com which listed tweets from angry entitled kids.  My son told me that I should "write an article about the value of money education or you end up with kids like these."  He has a good point.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Gift Card Management for Kids & Teens

Kids & teens learn to manage gift cards

My kids really like getting a few gift cards for presents.   My younger kids view them as a “free” shopping trip and enjoy getting to use a plastic card like the grown-ups.  My teens like gift cards because they are just darn picky when it comes to gifts and would often prefer to pick out their own stuff.    Whether or not you like gift cards, the reality is that at some point your kids will have them and will need to learn to manage them appropriately.  With four kids in our house, gift card management can occasionally get challenging.    (Several of these obstacles prompted us to add a gift card tracking feature to MoneyTrail.)

Here are some of our common obstacles and the solutions we have developed over the last few years.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Teaching Your Kids About Money in 2012

Kids & teens learn to handle money
I want to announce a new series of articles, Teaching your Kids about Money, which is a comprehensive guide for teaching your child or teen about money management and financial literacy.  I have outlined 12 basic financial concepts that are important for kids to learn and practice while they are growing up. At the beginning of each month, I will give you more information and tips about introducing these topics in your family and will share some practical ideas for implementing these concepts into your everyday life.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Favorite Things

Santa Claus came and went.  The turkey has been roasted and eaten.  The presents have been wrapped and unwrapped.  As I look back over the past few weeks, there are definitely some stand out moments that make the Whitlock Favorite Memories list.  My favorites weren't the new video games or electronics.  My favorite things were the simple pleasures that money just can't buy.

1.  My 8 year old made a large star for me.  He used five sheets of paper and made it entirely by himself.  He was so thrilled to give it to me and could barely contain the secret.  He kept dropping hints, like "It's handmade and it's a star but I'm not telling you how big it is but it's really big."  His excitement was contagious and it made me so happy.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pam's Picks: Yakezie Links of the Week

This week I want to share some of the great blogs that I have been reading from my Yakezie teammates.  Here's a look at what's been going on.

Holiday Thoughts: 
Maria at The Money Principle wonders "What Do You Really Want for Christmas?"

The folks at Your Finances Simplified give you some really last minute gift ideas if you haven't started your Christmas shopping yet.

Did you spend too much on Christmas?  The Single Saver has suggestions for getting back on track.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Little Holiday Financial Humor

Life is busy and hectic right now.  I know that I could use a laugh and I thought you might need one too!  Here are two of my favorite funny video clips.  Bill Cosby teaches Theo about money and Saturday Night Live puts a classic spin on shopping.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bored Teens? 10 Inexpensive Activities to Keep Teens Entertained

Last week, Melissa over at www.momsplans.com  wrote about frugal activities to entertain young kids while they are home for the winter break.  That got me thinking about what my family is going to do over the holidays.  My four kids are ages 8, 11, 15 and 18. Brittany and Dwight, my two teenagers, are pretty good at entertaining themselves.  However, they do not have an endless supply of entertainment money.   Here are some activities that they like to do when they are running low on cash:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pam's Picks: Countdown of Treats 6,5,4,3,2,1

We all love holiday treats and, boy, did I find some financial treats for you this week!  And...these are truly calorie-free.  Check out these great articles.

6 Classic Movies About Holidays and Money by Dana Dratch on www.bankrate.com
If you need to take a break from the holiday madness, Dana has compiled a slideshow of 6 classic movies that incorporate excellent money lessons.  Pick a movie, pop some popcorn, gather the kids and enjoy a quiet evening.  You might even be able to initiate a financial discussion.  Read the article...

5 Ways to Put Santa on a Budget by Janet Bodnar on www.kiplinger.com
Janet Bodnar is the editor of Kiplinger's Personal Finance and the author of several books, including Raising Money Smart Kids.  She recognizes the tendency for holiday spending to get out of control within families and offers 5 great tips for reigning in the holiday frenzy of spending.  Read the article...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Budgeting the Holiday Wish List with Older Kids and Teens

The holiday season is usually a fun and exciting time for kids, teens and families.  I can remember going through the Sears Wish book when I was a kid and circling the toys that I really wanted.  I have seen that same gleam of excitement in the eyes of my kids.  However, when kids are asked to make lists for Santa, grandparents, parents and other relatives, the focus on “what do I want” can sometimes turn into an attitude of “gimme, gimme, gimme.”   Introducing a budget limit for the wish list can help reduce the “gimmes”. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

What do our Kids Really Understand about Money? 5 Assumptions that Parents Often Make

There’s a family story that my mother loves to tell from years ago when I was a child.  She was fixing dinner one night and heard me crying in my room.  Without stopping what she was doing, she yelled for my older brother to leave me alone.  His response?  “Mom, I’m not even in the same room with her!”  My mother claims that from that point on, she never assumed that she knew what was going on with her kids until she laid her eyes on the situation.  I guess I need to take my mother’s advice and never assume that I know what is going on with my kids.  It is pretty darn good advice, not only for child behaviors, but also for teaching kids about money. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pam's Picks: Zela Wela Kids

This week I am focusing on one website, www.zelawelakids.com.  "Zela Wela Kids" is a book series and blog promoting financial literacy with kids.  Nancy Phillips is the person behind Zela Wela Kids.  She is a mother of two, holds a MBA from Queens University in Canada and has 20 years of business experience.  

Nancy's mission is "to increase the financial literacy of our youth globally by providing inspiring and fun financial and life success skills products for children and their parents."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Teen Corner: How to Survive the Holidays on a Teen's Budget

Our guest blogger today is Brittany, my 18 year old daughter.  For a brief introduction, Brittany is a senior in high school and is active in the chorus and Beta club.  She plays the guitar and enjoys photography.  Brittany actually provides most of the photos that I use on the blog. 

Hello! We've got a new twist on today's blog entry, as I (Brittany!) am writing this entry in place of my mom who normally runs this site. She asked me to talk to you guys today because let's face it- Christmas is a fun and wonderful time for everyone but it can also be extremely stressful, especially for those of us who are shopping on a tight budget. I know that many teens are stuck in a similar situation that I am during the holiday season: we don't have enough time to work a part time job because of school or extracurricular activities so we're short on money, but we still desperately want to give awesome gifts to our friends and family. Giving gifts has been my favorite part of the holiday season for a long time (as those of you who read last Thursday's blog probably figured out), so over the past few years I've discovered some great ways to survive Christmas time on a tight budget without breaking your bank.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Spotlight on Charitable Kids

I love to see kids and teens who are kind and compassionate.  Supporting and working with charities can foster a sense of community and can actually help develop money management skills in young people.  Kids can see first hand that $10 could be used for something other than a toy.  It could purchase a blanket for a baby, a dinner for a family or a bag of food for a homeless pet.  Many families have a portion of the kid's allowance set aside for a charity or a church.  Other families also get the kids involved in volunteering their time.  I recently talked with Rachel, a young girl who volunteers with a private dog rescue group.  Here's what Rachel had to say about her volunteering experiences.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pam's Picks: Holiday Edition

Ahhh...the holiday season is approaching rapidly.  There seems to be a fine line between wish lists and the "gimmes".  However, with a little planning and thoughtful conversations, the "gimmes" can be turned into great financial lessons.  Here are three great articles that are loaded with holiday advice for parents.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How Giving Presents to Teachers can also Teach Budgeting Skills

Many kids love to give their teachers a present for the holiday season.  When my daughter was in elementary school, she wanted to give presents to practically every teacher and adult in her school.  It was very sweet, but not the most budget friendly attitude to have! 

At the beginning of December, I would ask Brittany to make a list of all the teachers that she wanted to give a gift to.  Then we would talk about the total amount of money we were willing to spend on teacher presents and do the math to determine how much she could spend on each present.  I honestly did not realize it at the time, but this process was modeling budgeting skills for her.  It was age appropriate and was relevant to her, both of which are key to making the concept of budgeting less abstract to kids.

When Brittany wanted to hand out 15 – 20 presents, we had to come up with gifts that would still fit our budget.  Here are some of our more creative, frugal ideas:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kids, Chores & Money

Image by Brittany Whitlock

There are many opinions about paying children and teens for chores.  Many people are opposed to paying for tasks that help run the family household.  Other folks use money to encourage kids to complete the tasks and compare it to getting a paycheck as an adult.  I personally don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this age-old dilemma.  I think each family has to find the method and theory that works best for them.  

Here at the Whitlock household, we have been using a combination of expected chores and optional paid jobs with our four kids for many years.   We have chores that the kids are required to do just because their last name is Whitlock.  There are other jobs that we will pay them to do when they want to earn extra money.  The assignment of the chores and the amount of money paid for the optional jobs will vary depending on the age of the child who is doing the task. (Our kids range in age from 8 – 18.)  

Here are the most common chores and jobs for our kids.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pam's Picks: College Thoughts

I have mentioned recently that my oldest child, Brittany, will be starting college next year and we are in the midst of college selection right now.  For this week's "Pam's Picks", I want to highlight some excellent articles and resources for college research.

Money Saving Stories:  How We're Paying Cash for College by Julie Mayfield on www.notmadeofmoney.com 
Graduating without debt is a goal most college students and families have.  It is never too early to get started.  Julie Mayfield shares her family's journey on the quest for debt-free college.  Read the article...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What are Kids and Teens Thankful For?

Created at www.wordle.net

There are moments when I get really tired my kids asking,  "Can I have (fill in the blank here)?"   Or, better yet, "Mom, can you take me/give me/do this?"  This week, I decided to conduct a very unscientific study about what kids and teens are actually thankful for, as opposed to what they actually want.  I asked family, friends and MoneyTrail users for their help.  The kids that answered ranged in age from 3 to 22.  The results were:
  • #1 Response:  Family
  • #2 Response:  Friends
The rest of the responses were (in no particular order):

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving vs. Entitlement

Photo by Brittany Whitlock
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  There isn’t the pressure to find the perfect gift or throw the biggest backyard barbeque.  It is a time to enjoy being with family and to take a moment to be thankful for the good things in your life.  I have read many articles recently about the sense of entitlement and what a parent should to do to make sure their kids avoid this “affluenza” (term borrowed from Clark Howard!).  I think that one of the best ways to teach and model gratefulness is to create family traditions that honor this quality.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pam's Picks: Teaching Kids about Money

Each week, I spend a lot of time reading new articles and blogs about kids, teens, money and financial literacy.  I'll even pop over to YouTube and see what's going on over there. In "Pam's Picks", I will share some great articles and videos with you.

Teaching your kids about money involves more than learning to count pennies and dollars.  It encompasses topics such as saving, living within your means, investing, and avoiding impulse purchases.  I ran across several marvelous articles this week that put a new spin on how to teach kids about money.

8 Habits that Separate Doers from Dreamers by Dan Kadlec on www.moneyland.time.com
Are you a Doer or a Dreamer?  Dan shares 8 habits that can lead to reaching retirement goals and raising money-smart kids.  Read the article...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The College Trail: Finding the Right College

Vanderbilt University
Our oldest child, Brittany, is a senior in high school this year.  We are entering the world of college selection and it has changed a bit since “a few” years ago when I was making this decision.  Since we are right, smack in the middle of this journey, I thought I would start chronicling our experiences, from a parent’s perspective.  I’ll share with you things that we learn and also share articles from the experts that we find helpful.

Finding the right college is an exciting yet daunting task.  Brittany is still in the midst of finding the perfect fit but we have already learned many things about selecting colleges.  Here are nine areas that we have found thus far to consider when selecting a college.

  1. Cost:  Ok…this wasn’t the first thing on Brittany’s mind but it was definitely on my mind (and Frank’s mind!).  Most colleges post their estimated cost of attendance on their websites.  The estimated cost of attendance includes tuition, room and board, books & supplies, travel expenses, living expenses, etc.  Basically, it’s an overall dollar amount of what it will cost per year to go to the school.  Be ready for some sticker shock.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pam's Picks: Financial Literacy in the Schools

Each week, I spend a lot of time reading new articles and blogs about kids, teens, money and financial literacy.  I'll even pop over to YouTube and see what's going on over there. In "Pam's Picks", I will share some great articles and videos with you.

One of the current topics of conversation in the financial literacy world is whether or not financial literacy should be taught in the public schools.  While I think parents and schools should work together to ensure that our kids learn money management skills, I also believe that there is room in the standard curriculum for financial literacy.  There were several great articles this week about teaching Financial Literacy in the schools.

Hey, Education Secretary Duncan, Let’s Teach Kids About Money (Not Just Talk About It) by Dan Kadlec on www.moneyland.time.com 
"Speaking to a White House advisory group this week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan highlighted the need for schools to begin teaching students about personal finance as early as kindergarten. He’s dead on. But what’s he doing about it?"  Read the story...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Touring the Federal Reserve in Atlanta


A few months ago, we decided to visit the Federal Reserve in Atlanta for a tour of their Visitor’s Center and Monetary Museum.  It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon with our boys and we learned a few things about money in the process.  Here are some of the highlights of our trip:

  • Cash Cow:  It’s hard to miss the cash cow in the lobby.  Painted by Cheryl Myrbo in 2003 for an art exhibition, it was later purchased by the Federal Reserve.  This cow is huge and I really wanted to get a photo of it, but pictures are not allowed inside the building.  The image above is a postcard from the Federal Reserve that I scanned.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Review: Clark Smart Parents, Clark Smart Kids

Clark Howard is a nationally recognized radio-show host and bestselling book author.  He is generally regarded as a money-saving expert and his motto is “Save More, Spend Less and Avoid Getting Ripped Off.”  Clark is also a father of three and combined his money savvy skills with his parenting experience to create Clark Smart Parents, Clark Smart Kids.  This book was originally published in 2005 but his advice and thoughts are timeless for any parent who is concerned with teaching their child money management skills.

The opening sentence conveys the theme of the book.  “Teaching young children about money produces a trifecta of benefits:  it helps them in school, it helps them with values, and it helps you save money.”

Clark Smart Parents, Clark Smart Kids is divided into sections by age:  kids, teens, adult children and your parents.  There is also a section with worksheets, activities and resources.  For the purposes of this blog, I am only going to share with you the highlights of the kids and teens sections.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Accepting the Yakezie Challenge

The Yakezie is one of world's largest and most sophisticated network of personal finance and lifestyle bloggers.  We, here at the MoneyTrail Blog, are striving to become a member of this elite personal finance network and have entered the Yakezie Challenge.  To become a member, we are committed to blogging 2 - 4 times per week and growing our reading audience.  Our goal is to bring you meaningful content related to kids, teens and personal finance --- from preschool to college. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Moving Beyond "What do You want to be When You Grow Up?"

If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I could take a really snazzy vacation!  It is one of the more common phrases that adults (myself included) ask kids.  It starts when they are in preschool and continues until they are in high school.  Then the questions often change to “Where are you going to college?” and “What are you majoring in?”. 

We have an opportunity to move beyond these basic questions with our children and get them thinking about deeper concepts --- careers that fit their personalities and talents, goals (both personal and professional ) for different stages of their lives and steps they can take at a young age to get closer to their dreams.  I am not saying that we should sit down our 8 year old and subject him to an intense job interview and personality exam.  However, over time through normal conversations and everyday life, we could plant the seeds of thought so that when our teens are ready to leave the nest, they will have more specific ideas, goals and plans.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Encouraging Entrepreneurship in Kids & Teens, Part Two

Last week in Part One, I wrote about how to encourage kids and teens to develop their entrepreneurial skills.  Today, in Part Two, I want to tell you about a great book for kids and teens, Lunch Money, by Andrew Clements, that will get them excited about starting a business.

Lunch Money is about a middle school boy, Greg Kenton, who has always been obsessed with making money.  Greg started with a lemonade stand and progressed to buying candy and toys in bulk to sell at school.  His latest business adventure is creating miniature comic books to sell.  However, when his long-time business rival, Maura, begins selling her version of miniature comic books, the battle between Greg and Maura escalates to the point of having their items (and businesses) banned from school.  The two kids join forces to convince the school board that student-run businesses are educational and beneficial for the school.  The story takes a close look at commercialism in public schools and the existing attitudes toward entrepreneurship. It also shows how students, parents and teachers can work together to successfully incorporate entrepreneurship within a school setting. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Encouraging Entrepreneurship in Kids & Teens, Part One

I recently came across a video of Cameron Herold giving a speech entitled “Raising Kids to be Entrepreneurs.”  Cameron is a business coach, mentor and CEO coach who is passionate about recognizing entrepreneurial traits in kids and developing those traits into lifelong skills. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pam's Picks: What Money Lessons Can We Learn from 12 Year Olds?

Each week, I spend a lot of time reading new articles and blogs about kids, teens, money and financial literacy.  I'll even pop over to YouTube and see what's going on over there. In "Pam's Picks", I will share some great articles and videos with you.

As parents and teachers, we are most often concerned with what we can teach our children or what they can learn from us.  However, kids can often have some fantastic insights.  Here are stories by two kids who really have their financial acts together.

iPhone Leads to Saving Success via www.americasaves.org
Charlie Tiseo, Money Smart Kid Chicago 2011, writes about his quest to save for an iPhone and what happens if he can't pay the monthly charges.  Parents and kids both can learn from this young man.  Read the article...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kids, Money & Family Finances

I was interviewed by Kimberly from 4Virtue Family Focus for a podcast about Family Finances and how that relates to teaching kids about money management.  4virtu is a free, secure networking and organizational management system with a family-centric approach. They deliver a solution for today’s busy families to organize while saving time & money; to simplify and manage communications with the organizations they belong to; and to connect & enrich local communities. Check out the interview about kids and money...

Listen to internet radio with ParasolCommunications on Blog Talk Radio

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Money Lessons at Playtime

When we lived in NC, I was a school teacher and taught first grade and a special needs preschool class.  Kids at that age are "hands-on" learners.  They need to be active and learn through actually doing things instead of just hearing about them.  With every new concept that I wanted to teach, I would find a way to make the concept real for the students.  For example, when we were learning to sort and categorize, I would lie on the floor with the kids and have them sort hot wheels cars by color or type.  When we were studying nutrition, we planned a meal, took a trip to the grocery store to purchase the food and then cooked it for lunch.  
This same theory can be used to help our kids learn about money management and potential careers.  Look for opportunities to incorporate money lessons in the things that are important to your child.  Saving for a special toy or a favorite charity can initiate many thoughtful money discussions.  Let your child help you with the grocery shopping and talk about price comparisons.  Let your child make choices with his money and remember that mistakes are just opportunities for learning.

Alisa T. Weinstein, author of Earn It, Learn It, has a unique perspective on connecting the dots between playtime, careers and earning money. Check out her video from PBS Nightly Business Report.

Career and Money Lessons Kids Learn at Playtime

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mom, Can You Buy Me a New Saxophone?

I am a big believer in using everyday moments with our kids to teach them the basic concepts of financial literacy and money management.  Making the connection between familiar events and abstract concepts creates a more meaningful, relevant understanding.  I was lucky enough to have one of these moments recently with my 11 year old.

During the first week of middle school, he came home and announced that he wanted to play the tenor saxophone.  Then he proceeds to ask if we would buy him one.   (Important background info:   we bought him a good quality, used Alto Sax two years ago.  He really enjoys playing it, practices on his own and is in the school band this year.)   He just wanted to try something new and didn’t consider the financial aspect of his request to buy another saxophone.   He and I talked about the options:
  1. We could spend a few thousand dollars and buy him a new Tenor Sax.  This wasn't going to happen.
  2. We could spend $300 - $400 to rent a Tenor Sax for the school year.  I felt this was a bit much for a spur of the moment request.
  3. We could say "No."  Initially, I did say "No".  However, after about a week, he was still asking about this instrument.  Perhaps this wasn't a passing fad or an instant gratification moment. 

     4.  We looked into other options.  I knew from prior experience that occasionally, the school will own instruments that are available for the use of the students.  I emailed the band director and learned that there was indeed a tenor sax available.  We could rent it for the entire school year for $25.  

This final option fit within our existing band budget for the year and was able to allow our son to try out a new activity.  Most importantly, he was able to be involved in a financial planning process that was meaningful and relevant to him.    Time will only tell whether the Tenor Sax holds his interest.  For the moment, we are all happy with the decision that was made.  And...I haven't even needed to buy ear plugs!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Pam's Picks: Financial Literacy Lessons from Parents, Kids and Baseball Players

Each week, I spend a lot of time reading new articles and blogs about kids, teens, money and financial literacy.  I'll even pop over to YouTube and see what's going on over there. In "Pam's Picks", I will share some great articles and videos with you.

"Kids Learn a Giant Baseball Financial Lesson" by Stephanie Lee from the San Francisco Chronicle
My  kids are huge baseball fans so when I saw an article about baseball and financial literacy, it definitely caught my attention. Visa, along with some help from the San Francisco Giants, recently hosted a money management workshop on the baseball field before a major league game.  Current and former Giants players "pitched financial questions" to the kids and for every correct answer, the kids got to advance a base.  What a marvelous way to make financial literacy fun and informative.  Kudos to the Visa Corporation and the San Francisco Giants!  Read the article...

Loan and Learn by Brian Page, guest blogger on www.americasaves.org
Brian Page, an awarding winning financial literacy teacher and creator of the Awesome Island Game, shares his thoughts on teaching loans and debts to his own son.  This is a perfect example of making financial literacy topics relevant and age appropriate.  Read the article...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Children's Book Reviews: Using Classic Children's Literature to Teach Money Concepts

Money concepts are often embedded within classic children’s literature.  A good story can often initiate financial discussions with your child and can help make abstract topics, such as budgeting, more relevant to his/her real life.  In this month’s book reviews, I will discuss two timeless children’s novels, On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingles Wilder and Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Cleary.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pam's Picks: Money Management from Preschool to College

Each week, I spend a lot of time reading new articles and blogs about kids, teens, money and financial literacy.  I'll even pop over to YouTube and see what's going on over there. In "Pam's Picks", I will share some great articles and videos with you.

Whew...what a great week for articles about kids, teens and money.  The experts this week covered money management concepts from young kids to college students and from piggy banks to cell phones!  Take a look at the treasures I uncovered.

Allowances:  What, When and How? by Kelly Whalen on www.adaptu.com
Kelly's article lives up to it's title and more!  She covers all the basics of allowance but then she goes one step further.  She gives usable advice, categorized by ages, of activities that you can do with your child to help them understand the concepts of money and money management.  Read the article here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Use Labor Day to Encourage Entrepreneurship in Kids & Teens

Labor Day is “a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” (via www.dol.gov)  This year let’s make Labor Day an opportunity to talk to your children about potential careers, entrepreneurship and taking pride in their work.  Here are several great resources for you and your children.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pam's Picks: Money Thoughts from Mom, Dad and the Tooth Fairy

Each week, I spend a lot of time reading new articles and blogs about kids, teens, money and financial literacy.  I'll even pop over to YouTube and see what's going on over there. In "Pam's Picks", I will share some great articles and videos with you.

This week I ran across two fabulous articles about teaching money management with your children.  Both of these articles give concrete, usable advice for parents of tweens and teens.  And, then...I ran across some startling statistics about the tooth fairy!  Hope you enjoy.

“Mom, I Need Some Money” (www.managemylife.com)

I think every parent has cringed upon hearing those words. According to this article, kids, age 12 – 17, spend an average of $46 per week.  Yikes!  This article also tackles solutions to common teen pitfalls regarding money (clothing, cellphones, tech gadgets, etc.) and gives you tangible solutions.  Read the article...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Using Lunch Money to Practice Budgeting Skills

School lunches...Lunch box or cafeteria food?  Sandwich or yogurt?  Milk or water?  I have been discussing these choices with my children since my daughter started kindergarten in 1999.  She is a senior now and my boys are in 9th, 6th and 3rd grades so I have a few more years of school lunches ahead of me.  A few years ago, I discovered that the issue of lunch money can provide an excellent opportunity to involve kids in budgeting and help them practice their money management skills.

 When my oldest son started middle school, he and I were both unprepared for the lunch costs. (My daughter took her lunch every day so I was blissfully unaware of the expanded choices in middle school!)   The school still had the basic lunch option which is very reasonable from a cost standpoint.  However, the middle school also offered a la carte items, such as chicken fingers, pizza and fries.  My son thought this was marvelous and was buying a la carte items every day.  At the end of the second week of school, he had spent practically all of his lunch money for the entire month.  I reviewed his purchases online and realized that he was spending $5-$6 a day on lunch.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Don't Buy Stuff" from SNL

Let's kick off the week with a laugh!  Here is a classic funny money moment from Saturday Night Live.  And...wrapped up in the humor are several great money lessons.

Video clip from www.hulu.com

Thursday, August 4, 2011

MoneyTrail in the News

Hi folks!  I have taken a little break from blogging this summer so that I could spend time with our kids during their school vacation.  Summer sports, camps and college visits have filled my calendar.  However, in the midst of all this, we were interviewed by Gracie Bonds, parenting reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  She wrote a great article about MoneyTrail, our family and money management for kids that was featured in the Living Section of the July 19, 2011 newspaper. Here is a link to the article, "Money, family matters merge", on the AJC website.
Image via AJC.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

20 Free or Cheap Activities to Combat Summer Boredom

Summer is half over and I am starting to hear those familiar words, “Mom, I’m bored” or “There’s nothing to do.”  You would think that with a room full of toys and a big backyard there would never be a dull moment.  My kids are perfectly willing to let me take them to the movies or amusement park every day but who can afford that?  

Here is a list of 20 free or inexpensive activities to counteract the “I’m bored” syndrome.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Guest Blog for the Johns Creek Patch: Helping Teens Avoid Impulse Spending

In this week's guest post with the Johns Creek Patch, I talk about 8 Questions to Help Teens Avoid Impulse Spending.  With summer jobs and extra babysitting money, teens often have more money available to spend.  Go through these 8 questions with your teen to help them hang on to their money instead of spending it on the latest, greatest gadget!  Read the article...