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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Encouraging Your Child to be Charitable and Giving

Giving jars
From Chris Radcliffe's Flickr photos
Part of learning to handle money in a responsible manner is also learning how to be charitable and giving in nature.  I would venture a guess that no parent wants their child to become a miser and act like Ebenezer Scrooge, but parents may worry that if they focus too much on financial concepts their child might become overly fanatic about money.  Striking a balance between managing their own money and helping others is yet another skill that takes practice. 

As with many money management concepts, there are differing opinions and methods.  The key is to find the approach or combination of approaches that works in your family and that matches your family’s values.  I have seen two fundamental approaches to getting kids involved in charitable giving.

Structured Income:
One idea is to have your child divide all of their income into portions, such as a Save portion, a Spend portion and a Share portion.  The amount of money that is placed into the Share portion would be allocated for a charity donation.  For example, if your child gets $5 per week for allowance, you might split it into $2 for Savings, $2 for Spending and $1 for Sharing.  If you child does not get an allowance, you could also use a percentage method for the money that they earn from extra jobs, such as 40% Savings, 40% Spending and 20% Sharing.

Model the Behavior:
Other parents want their children to independently choose to be charitable instead of making them divide their income.  They believe that to truly teach charitable giving, kids need to want to give their money as opposed tohaving to donate.  With this approach, the parents model the desired behaviors and encourage their children to get involved.  Examples would be involving the children in deciding which charity to donate to or getting the family involved in fundraising activities for a specific charity.

I think it is important to note that charitable giving does not exclusively involve giving money.  Kids need to know that giving involves attitudes and service, not just writing a check.  When children see their parents helping a neighbor, picking up trash or allowing someone to go in front of them at the grocery store, they are witnessing kindness and a giving attitude.  I truly believe that if a child sees this behavior on a regular basis, they will be more likely to adopt this attitude themselves.  Daily random acts of kindness are the foundation for developing a giving attitude.

There are many types of service activities that kids and families can get involved in.  Kidsactivities.net  has a fabulous list of community service ideas that can involve kids and families.  Here are a few of their thoughts:

  • Bake cookies for a local senior home or a fire/police department.
  • Plant produce and donate the harvest to a local food bank.
  • Pick up litter at a park.
  • Collect travel toiletries and donate to a local shelter.
  • Make a gift basket for someone in need.
  • Make a book on tape to contribute to a local daycare center or pediatric patients.
  • Make bookmarks and leave them in a basket at your local library.
  • Have a neighborhood book drive.  Donate books to a local shelter or day care.
  • Make fleece blankets for children’s hospitals.
  • Offer to wash a neighbor’s dog or car!
  • Collect items for care packages to be sent to the troops.

How do you develop charitable giving with your kids?  Please share your ideas.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Need to have a Money Conversation with your Child? Start with a Book!

Have you ever tried to talk with your child about saving their money or working hard to earn their money?  And…did they tune you out or roll their eyeballs back into their head?  Instead of launching into a lecture about important financial concepts, try introducing the topics through a book that you and your child have both read.  There are many great literature classics that have money and business concepts embedded within the story.  You and your child or teen can begin with the shared experience of the story and you can lead the conversation into a financial discussion based upon the character or the situation.

Here are a few of my favorite books that you can use as conversation starters to talk about money, jobs and entrepreneurship.

Books for Young Kids:

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Clooney
Miss Rumphius was given the challenge when she was a child to make the world a more beautiful place.  This lovely book illustrates the impact that simple things can have on the world and kids can learn that you don’t need large amounts of money to make a difference.

Alexander’s grandparents gave him a dollar on Sunday.  This story follows Alexander and his dollar through the week and beautifully illustrates his struggles to make good decisions with his money.

A close up look at all the jobs in Busy Town.  Great for preschoolers!

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
How much should we willing give to help another person?  Shel Silverstein’s classic story of a tree and her boy shows the true meaning of giving. 

Books for Older Kids:

Anastasia is a 12 year old girl who decides to get her first job, as a companion to a wealthy, elderly woman. She makes a mistake on her first day at work and must continue to work to pay off her debt to her employer.

Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Cleary
Henry is a 10 ½ year old boy who desperately want his own paper route.  Henry sets out to prove that he is capable of handling a route by introducing himself to the route manager, creating an advertising campaign and helping out  whenever possible.  Money is not the only reason he wants the job.  He also wants to do something “important” and wants to prove himself capable.  This story illustrates self-pride, motivation, creativity and entrepreneurship. 

Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary
Ramona is a precocious 2nd grade girl who is having a rough year.  Her father has lost his job and her mother has gone back to work full-time.  The family is showing the strain of a reduced income and change in family lifestyle.  Ramona wants to help by doing a TV commercial and getting paid a million dollars!  It is a timeless tale of a family pulling together in hard times but it is wrapped in humor and love.

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements
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.  The story takes a close look at commercialism in public schools and the existing attitudes toward entrepreneurship.

Books for Teens:

Money Hungry by Sharon G. Flake
Raspberry Hill is a 13 year old girl who lives in the projects with her mother.  Her memories of being homeless and eating handouts drive her to think about money constantly.  She is in survival mode and will do anything legally possible to prevent living on the streets again.

Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolf
LaVaughn is a 14 year old, inner city girl who needs a job to save money for college.  She answers an ad for a babysitter and begins working for Jolly, a 17 year old, single mother of two who is just trying to survive.  This book is a bittersweet story of how two teen girls help each other and learn to “make lemonade”.

In this classic tale, Charlie, a poor young boy, gets a golden ticket to enter the Wonka Candy factory and a chance to win a lifetime of wealth for his family.  He is faced with unethical choices and “get rich quick” schemes.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Mary Lennox is a spoiled little girl who unfortunately becomes orphaned and as a result, goes to live with her reclusive uncle in England.  Through a secret garden and unlikely friendships, Mary learns that money doesn’t buy happiness and she is able to reconnect the family relationships.

What books have you found that have money concepts embedded in the story?  Have you shared them with your child or teen?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Money and Allowance this Week on #DadChat

Mark your calendars and come on over to twitter on Thursday!  I have been invited to join Bruce Sallan on his weekly #DadChat this Thursday, September 5th from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. PT/9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET to talk about money and allowance.  Let's knock out this sense of entitlement and teach our kids the value of a dollar!  To join the party, just go to twitter and follow #DadChat on Thursday.

Image by Bruce Sallan

Bruce Sallan is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, a columnist and a published author of "A Dad's Point of View" and "The Empty Nest Road Trip Blues."  Most importantly, he's a father of two boys and regularly shares his adventures in parenting.  His weekly tweet chat, #DadChat, has become the biggest parent chat on twitter and happily has equal participation of Dads and Moms.  #DadChat set the World Record in January, 2013 for the most “Impressions” of any chat ever at 267,000,000 +.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How Wise are We with our Money?

The folks over at Online Accounting Degree Programs decided to tackle the question, "How wise are we with money?"  They found some really interesting things, especially regarding how teens view and use money.  I found it enlightening that 52% of teens wanted to learn more about money management but only 10% are actively involved in paying bills or household budgeting.  I think we can do more to get our teens involved.  Take a look at this infographic and share your thoughts with me.

Dollars and Sense: How Wise Are We With Money?
Image source: www.online-accounting-degrees.net

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

11 Board Games that Teach Money Skills

If you have kids, you have probably been asked to play a board game with them at some point.  Board games can provide an evening of family entertainment and can also initiate discussions of financial concepts in a relevant manner for kids.  Here are eleven great board games that incorporate basic financial topics.

1.  Monopoly - No list of board games would be complete without Monopoly, the world's most popular and best selling board game.  Buy & sell real estate, collect rents and rush to pass Go so that you can get your $200.

2.  Life - Another classic game!  Your goal in "Life" is to avoid bad luck and makes some money.  Along the way you can earn bonuses by doing good deeds and helping your community.  You win by retiring with the most money.

3.  Payday - A personal favorite of mine from childhood!  The Payday game board is set up like a monthly calendar and you must get through the month to get to your payday.  The month is full of financial bonuses, such as winning the lottery, and financial pitfalls, such as extra bills or bad investments.  You play as many months as you like and whoever has the most money at the end, wins the game.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pre-Teen to Parenting Financial Summit, 2013

I have partnered with SheWill.org and YoungFinances.com to host the Preschool to Parenting Financial Summit for girls (ages 12-18), young adult women and mothers on Saturday, April 27th at Ivy Preparatory Academy in Norcross, GA. We will be working with the girls on managing their money, career empowerment and even investing at their age. Each participant will leave the summit with a new attitude about money and the fundamental skills necessary to become successful.  Register by April 15th to be entered to win an iPad mini!
The Preschool to Parenting Financial Summit will include:  

For girls ages 12 – 18
  • Managing your money 
  • Envisioning your future and making career choices 
  • Investing at a young age. How to invest in yourself 
 For young adult women
  • Money management 
  • Balancing work, career and family 
  • Beginning investments 

For mothers 
  • How to raise financially smart kids 
  • Money management 
  • Investing for your retirement and for your child’s college expenses 

The Preschool to Parenting Financial Summit is due to the collaborative efforts of three dedicated women in the financial literacy community, Sheena Williams from SheWill.org, Latisha Styles from YoungFinances.com and me, Pam Whitlock from MoneyTrail.net. Sheena is the founder and president of SheWill, Inc., 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization created to educate young girls, between the ages of 8 and 17, on the importance of financial literacy and career empowerment. LaTisha is the founder of Young Finances, a website that specializes in investing with young adults. I am the co-owner (along with my husband) of MoneyTrail.net, an allowance and money management system for kids, teens and families. We are all in the Atlanta area and are passionate about preparing young girls for successful, career oriented futures free from debt and irresponsible financial decisions.

The event will be held from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm and will include a light breakfast and lunch for each participant.  For more information or to register for the event, please visit www.shewillsummit.com

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Nine Year Old's Thoughts on College Savings

My 9 year old niece is visiting me today.  She has been telling me about a book that she is writing and how she may want to be a writer when she grows up.  That led to a discussion about our blog.  So...I decided to hire her to be our guest blogger for the day.  Introducing Leigh's thoughts on how parents should save money for college!

For all those new parents out there, even if your child isn't born yet, you may already be worried about saving for his or her college.  But with careful savings and an occasional visit to MoneyTrail, you can easily find a way to save for your child's college.  The next thing you know there are tears of joy in your eyes and your child is in a blue cap and gown.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Books-a-Million Fundraiser for SheWill.org

For those of you in the Atlanta area, the Books-a-Million at 5900 Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville will be hosting a fund raiser for SheWill.org.  From 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm, 10% of all purchases will go to SheWill!

SheWill, Inc. is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization created to educate young girls, between the ages of 8 and 17, on the importance of financial literacy and career empowerment.  SheWill, YoungFinances and I have also partnered together to host the Preschool to Parenting Financial Summit in April.  Come on out this Saturday and support my event partner in her quest to bring financial literacy to our young ladies!

Update:  I stopped by to visit Sheena at Books-a-Million.  Many thanks to Books-a-Million and to the customers who made this a success for SheWill.org.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Year of Little Lesson Plans

Okay parents....how much time do you spend each day waiting in carpool lines or waiting for baseball practice to end?  There are so many days where it seems like all I do is hurry, hurry, hurry to get somewhere and then end up waiting once I am there.  Crazy, huh?  And then...if you have younger kids in the car with you...well...you know how much fun that can be.  :)

If you are nodding your head and understand the plight of the "hurry up & wait" parent, I have the perfect book for you.  Year of Little Lesson Plans by Courtney Loquasto is an entire year of 10 minute, smart, fun things to teach your child each weekday.  The activities are quick and easy.  You can do many of them in the carpool line or while you are waiting for supper to finish cooking.  Basically, it's your best friend when you have a few extra minutes and  want to do something meaningful with your child.

The activities in Year of Little Lesson Plans are geared toward  kids ages 3 - 8.  (Although, many of the plans can be discussed with older kids too!).  Each calendar week has a theme and the daily activities or discussions center around that theme.  Some of the themes include:  Family Tree, Planting a Garden, Bugs, Musical Instruments, Manners, Apples and Money.

Courtney also has a website, Carpool Ninja, where you can get additional tips for family life and making the most out of the time you spend at home.

Courtney and I met on Twitter last year and soon discovered that not only did we share parenting interests, but that we live in the same area.  Small world, right?  We are big fans of each other's work so she graciously sent me a copy of Year of Little Lesson Plans.  If you are a busy parent, trying to squeeze quality activities into your daily life, you will love this book.  And, guess what.....you can enter to win a copy!  The Whole Lotta Family Love Giveaway includes a copy of Year of Little Lesson Plans.  The giveaway ends on Friday, February 22, 2013 so what are you waiting for?  Click on over here and enter the giveaway!

Whole Lotta Family Love Giveaway

Friday, February 8, 2013

Whole Lotta Family Love Giveaway

February is a great month to share some love!  What kind of love, you ask?  The Whole Lotta Family Love Giveaway!!  I recently met up with some new blogging and writing friends.  We decided to celebrate our new friendship by hosting a huge giveaway!

Please say "hello" to my new mom friends....
We are giving away a whole bucket full prizes!  Take a look at what you could win....

  • $40 Amazon Giftcard - emailed straight to you!
  • A MoneyTrail App from the iTunes Appstore - Use this to keep up with your child's allowances and IOUs.
  • A copy of "Year of Little Lesson Plans" by Courtney Loquasto - Learn how to enrich your child's education in just a few minutes a day.
  • A Handmade, Personalized Wreath from DIY on the Cheap - Erin will make you a beautiful wreath, personalized with the initial of your choice.
  • A "Love" Sign and handmade teal earrings from Spoonful of Imagination - Dress up your home with the sign and dress up yourself with the beautiful earrings!
Follow the directions below to enter the Whole Lotta Family Love Giveaway!  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Family Valentines on a Budget

My youngest son gave me this Valentine last year.  I'm still not quite sure how he came up with "Best supervisor ever" but it is just cute enough and just sweet enough to tug at my heart strings.  And, it didn't cost a thing.

Valentine's Day costs can really add up.  A gift for your spouse, a nice dinner and cards & candy for your child to exchange with his classmates can put your budget over the top.   Want to celebrate Valentine's Day this year without busting your budget?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

More Free Books for Kids and Teens

Reading a book at the beach
From Simon's photos on Flickr
I love books and I love a bargain!  It's a marvelous day when I find great kids' ebooks that are free.  Here are the latest free ebooks for your Kindle or your Nook.

Important:  The books were free when I published this blog post.  The prices may have changed.  Please double check the cost before you download!

Barnes and Noble Nook:

Young Children:

A Matter of Profit by Hilari Bell
Earth Forbidden by Amelia Grace

Amazon's Kindle:

Young Children:
Tongue Twisters for Kids by Riley Weber
When Cows Fly by Tom Watson

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Guardians Inc.:  The Cipher by Julian Rosado-Machain

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review: "Someday Is Not a Plan" By Dave Straube

Someday Is Not a Plan, by Dave Straube, is a basic personal finance book for young adults.  However, it reads like a novel and introduces financial concepts in an easy to read, personal manner.  There are no charts, spreadsheets or complicated financial terms.  Someday Is Not a Plan is a wonderful first finance book for any young adult who is just starting out their career.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Indoor Kids Activities on a Budget

Looking for fun indoor activities that won't break the family budget but will keep your kids entertained?  Here are 20 cheap, indoor family activities to get you through the darkest of winter days.

From Bruce Guenter's photos on flickr.com
  1. Put together a puzzle.  We recently started a 1000 piece puzzle.  I hope we have it finished before Spring arrives.
  2. Play card games like Go Fish, Slap Jack, Rummy or Crazy Eights.  A simple google search for the rules and a deck of cards can lead to hours of entertainment.
  3. Indoor balloon volleyball
  4. Stack up plastic cups and knock them down with a remote control car.
  5. Marshmallow Olympics.  This might get a bit sticky so I would suggest holding the Olympics in room with a hard (mop friendly) floor.  Who has the best distance for throwing a marshmallow, kicking a marshmallow and, yes, spitting a marshmallow?
  6. Family talent show.  True story:  several years ago, we took our family to Disney.  One of the most talked about memories from that trip is the family talent show that we did one night after dinner.  The highlights of the show --- one son burped the ABCs and another son hit himself in the head with a pot lid.  Absolutely, 100% pure silliness…but it didn’t cost a thing.
  7. Play speed stack with plastic cups.  Who is the fastest in your family?
  8. Build a small catapult out of craft sticks, rubber bands and a plastic spoon.  Have contests to see who can fling a paper ball or marshmallow the farthest.  Here's a great set of directions from a Cub Scout dad, Devin Collier.