Today I am writing about recession proofing your family, as inspired by current.pic.tv!
First check out this article I have on “Lessons My Parents Taught Me About Money” to address just general financial savvy . There is a fine balance between teaching kids how to be prepared about money and freaking them out that you might run out.
Before I give you some easy tricks for saving, make sure to have a sit-down talk with them explaining that everything is OK. Explain the idea of a recession, savings and boom and break times. Tell them, you want to take the opportunity of the country having to cut back on spending and make some family goals to become more financially aware as well. (make it patriotic)
Here are a few suggestions for things that I think kids can cut back on:
Do your kids always bring lunch to school or buy lunch? Have them start packing their own lunches. Tell them they can treat themselves to lunches once a week or once every two weeks. Show them the breakdown (and health benefits) of buying vs making lunch.
Ugggghhhhhh. Is usually what was heard in my house when my mom suggested leftovers for dinner or lunch. I think eating (and liking) leftovers is an important lesson in not being wasteful and saving money. Tell your kids that you are going to start cooking in larger portions (and this is always cheaper) and that they are going to start taking leftovers to school.
Buy in Bulk:
Shout out to my dad who is the king of the Costco/Smart and Final fan club. We seriously have jugs of Ketchup that are bigger than my little sister (and she is 12). He taught us early on to buy everything and anything in bulk. Take them shopping and instead of letting them buy (or buying for them) this brand of potato chips, this fruit snack and that go-gurt squirt, they get to pick one bulk package per month. It will help them appreciate the new snack when they get it the next month and you will end up saving a lot of money (and trips to the market).
My friends spend so much money (and calories on soda!). I know kids buy a lot of sodas, energy drinks, juices, water bottles at school snack stands or vending machines. Tell them that this is much more expensive than buying in bulk at the grocery store (lesson in buying in bulk). The first goal is to try to bring these drinks from home because buying them at school is more expensive. The second goal is to get them to drink and refill more water bottles.
Again, have kids pack their own snacks (bought in bulk) and brought to school instead of buying from vending machines.
I have officially stopped going to the movies. Here in Los Angeles it is $11 per ticket plus parking, plus gas, plus candy, plus soda, plus food court dinner. (another shout out to the daddy-o, he used to make us bring our own candy that he bought—in bulk—from Costco…seriously, we stuffed them in our socks so we could sneak them in). Now, I rent, borrow or download all movies. I might have to wait a little longer, but it saves so much money…and most movies are bad anyway (this is what I tell myself). Netflix is a great service.
Does your family go out often for after-dinner, mid-afternoon, post-breakfast dessert like I do? (I swear I am on target with my weight-loss contract). This really adds up. Teach your kids to make your own ice cream, donuts or sorbet and make a family event out of it. Coldstone and Baskin Robbins can really add up money wise, and is usually way more calories than anything homemade.
It used to be just an adult thing, get up, eat a waffle, swing by a coffee shop and go to work. Now, all of my friends and I get Starbucks/Coffee Bean/Dunkin Donuts lattes and frappucinos (decaf, extra whip, skim milk if you ever want to get me one) all the time. This is horribly expensive! There are great latte and chai tea packets you get from the grocery store that you can make yourself, or if you get them that much, you might want to consider buying a machine for the house.
I know, I know, most of these suggestions are for adults just as much as kids, but I had fun writing this article and it was a good reminder for everyone to be financially aware in the coming months!