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A quick peek at VirtualPiggy.com

standard January 19, 2013 Leave a response

Well hello there! Guess what I’ve been doing all day. Vlogging that’s what. That’s right, me, two cameras, a website, and countless hours spent trying to convert movie files from one format to the next so I could find something that would work in iMovie on my iPad.

Good news. I figured it out. Lucky you! Now you get to watch my very first ever Vlog. You get a peek into my office! Oh and yes, you get to hear a bit more about VirtualPiggy.com the awesome virtual piggy bank website. (Remember when I told you about them a few weeks ago?)

Okay, be gentle now, this really was my first ever attempt at a Vlog. Had I been able to figure out the file thing faster I might have had more energy for editing! Enjoy!

Please note: this post was sponsored by VirtualPiggy.com, a client of Splash Creative Media. That I think their site cool enough to venture into the world of video blogs should speak for itself!

Grateful Children and money

standard December 28, 2011 1 response

Last Christmas the air sang with the not-so-sweet sound of kids grumbling that Santa hadn’t brought them what they wanted. They griped that they hadn’t gotten as many presents as their siblings or cousins. They whined that it just wasn’t enough.

The room overflowed with wrapping paper and toys and yet they found reason to complain.

This year I was worried that we’d face the same issue. There was good reason too, this Santa was laaaazy and didn’t go to the extremes she’d gone the previous year. And yet, instead all we heard were the strains of “thank you!” “this is awesome!,” and “I love this!” 

Even better, M reported to me that, upon coming down on Christmas morning, he overheard C respond to her cousin’s surprise that people would be out playing in their yards with a neatly outlined, three pronged answer.

“First of all, maybe they don’t celebrate Christmas. Second of all, maybe they’re done opening their presents because they didn’t get as many as us. And third of all, maybe they’re happy with how many presents they got!”

Be still my heart. Maybe, just maybe, a year’s worth of lessons on gratitude have finally sunk in. Maybe she’s finally maturing.

I’ve been thinking about the allowance issue a lot this year. M and I were not given an allowance as children. We were given things that we needed (or at times wanted) when we asked for them. However I would love for my children to understand how to manage money better than I do and I have a hunch that giving them an allowance is the path to that knowledge.

Until this week, I’ve assumed that C wouldn’t get the allowance thing. That she’d spend her cash on the first thing that caught her mind, not really thinking about saving or even gifting parts of it when the right occasions arose. Now I’m starting to think that we might be able to start her small, explain what expectations she needs to meet to get her allowance, and what expectations she needs to meet to manage her money.

I think that the highly visual aspect of Kidworth‘s interface will help me teach her well. We can work together to create savings goals, spending goals, and even sharing goals. Hopefully next time I hear her exclaim “I love this!” it’ll be over something she planned to get for herself and got because she was able to save up her allowance to get it.

This post was inspired and sponsored by Kidworth, a neat site designed to teach kids financial goal setting. Set up Kidworth accounts for the kids in your life and let family and friends help you give them the gift of financial responsibility. Parents set up an account, and kids enter their goals. Whether they are saving up for guitar lessons, or a donation to the local animal shelter, Kidworth can help them achieve their goals. 

Teaching kids the value of a dollar

standard November 30, 2011 1 response

We live in a weird place where money doesn’t go nearly as far as it does in the rest of the country.

Where else (other than NY) does half-a-million dollars count as the down-payment to a tiny house rather than the entire price of a large one? Where else do people buy luxury cars to park in front of those tiny homes because they can afford the vehicle, but not a nicer home?

At the same time, we live in a place where all to many people have more money than they know what to do with. And with all the IPOs for local companies set to happen in the next year, that’s going to get worse before it gets better.

The upshoot of it all is that my girls are being raised around kids who have a lot. And faced with that, it’s so hard to help them understand the value of money and to help them appreciate what they have.

For the longest time I didn’t worry about it beyond helping them take stock of what we have when the “gimmes” would strike. But now that they’re getting older and are starting to be able to understand that things don’t just magically appear in our home, I’m wondering how to best help them grasp the value of money and how to save for the things we really want or need.

Let’s be honest though, I’m starting at a disadvantage because I might well be the worst money manager in town. (I can just picture my husband nodding as he reads this.) I grew up essentially believing that money would be there when I needed it, and if it wasn’t there right away, it would eventually turn up. (The most memorable instance of this was the first Tax Rebate issued by the Bush administration. That check landed in my mailbox, utterly unexpectedly since at the time I never read the paper, the day I desperately needed rent money. M nearly flipped his lid. Money management lesson lost. I still find the memory amusing.) 

I’ve learned, largely thanks to my husband, how to budget, how to save, how to resist impulse buys. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learned. And now I need to pass that knowledge on to my kids.

– We talk about what things are more expensive than others when we’re at the store.
– We talk about how we have to chose between two things we want.
– We talk about putting bigger ticket items on our Christmas or Birthday List.
– We talk in code. A movie is worth four squinkies. An ice cream is three. A trip to Chicago to see the cousins is a bunch of American Girl dolls. Anything to get them to see how it all adds up.
– I verbalize my choices while shopping, walking them both through my decision process so they can see that the purchases aren’t random, but calculated.

C has money in her piggy bank that she’s saving up to buy herself a fossil that she saw in a rock store. There was no good reason for me to get it for her, so I suggested that she see how much was in her piggy bank. Now when she begs for something I can ask her if she wants it more than the fossil. So far, she hasn’t wanted anything more than that.

It’s an ongoing process, one that I’m actually enjoying. It’s fun to watch them start to understand, fun to be there as they start to really appreciate what they have. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn something in the process too!

This post was inspired and sponsored by Kidworth, a new site designed to teach kids financial goal setting. It’s the perfect season to set up Kidworth accounts for the kids in your life! Family and friends can help you give them the gift of financial responsibility. Parents set up an account, and kids enter their goals. Whether they are saving up for guitar lessons, or a donation to the local animal shelter, Kidworth can help them achieve their dreams this holiday season, meaning you won’t be as overrun with “stuff.”

Money, money, money…. not that funny

standard January 28, 2011 1 response

Thank you to TurboTax for sponsoring my writing about household finances.Learn more about how TurboTax can help you find every tax deduction you deserve. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

I have… issues with money. I just looked through my archives so I could link back to some posts and prove this to you, but each and every post touching on money that I’ve written or attempted to write is apparently sitting in draft mode destined to remain unpublished and unread. If that isn’t proof enough, I don’t know what is.

I don’t want to go into details. It’s not worth it really. Suffice it to say that anything to do with money causes me great anxiety. So, instead of dealing, budgeting, tracking, being smart, I leave it all up to M.

Checks come in for work I’ve done and I stack them on the mantel. Presumably he takes them to the bank because they don’t linger up there for long.  I only notice because they’re gone when I put new checks up there.

I know. My attitude is somewhat horrifying.

Fact is, it’s easy for me to be lazy and hands off about our family finances. I married a man who’s great at saving money. He keeps my our spending in check and he stashes everything away. He’s smart and he’s responsible and so I can hand my checks off to him and close my eyes. And while it works wonderfully from a stress perspective, it means that today I have no idea what I’ve earned this year.

I’ve been working hard. I’ve been bringing in money. But beyond my regular paycheck, the rest is a bit of a blur. Since we don’t live paycheck to paycheck, whatever I earn just goes into savings. It takes away the pressure of needing to count the pennies rolling in. It also means that I can accept gigs because of what they are rather than what they pay and if the payment is late… truthfully, I barely notice.

It hasn’t bothered me at all for the last year, but now I want to have a better sense of what’s coming in. How well have I really done? I struggled for a year freelancing and earning peanuts, now that I’m actually earning money blogging and writing I’m curious to know what it amounts to. Is it at least paying for my book habit?

Add to that the fact that, should everything go as planned, I’m going to be growing that freelance income by leaps and bounds, and really, it’s high time for me to start keeping track of my income. Eventually it will come to impact our family finances as more than just savings. When that day comes I want to be actively involved in the process.

It’s another of my hopes and plans for the year. I’ll say here for the first time so you can all witness it: “I am willing to become financially responsible and aware.” 

Now I just need to figure out how…