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: