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Real-life money lessons

Celebrating Birthdays Without All the Presents

J will be 9 in a few months (!) and we’re having a swimming birthday party at the Y. For his last party, we went mini golfing with his friends, and we came home with more presents than we knew what to do with.

This time around, we’re going to scale down a bit, starting with presents.

Categories
Real-life money lessons

Teach Your 8-Year-Old to Calculate the Tip

Calculating the tip is a great way to practice percentages. These days, I don’t think many people do much math with a pencil and paper. We rely on technology for almost everything — even things as simple as calculating the tip at a restaurant are now done with a tablet on the table or an app on your phone.

I think it’s important, however, to put the technology aside for a bit and work through a problem by yourself. That’s what we’ve been doing here for awhile — by keeping account registers, learning how to calculate percentages, practicing those calculations, and even tracking our spending on vacation. All with pencil and paper. Old school.

My favorite lessons are those that he can practice himself (hands-on!), that make sense in the real-world (are meaningful, relatable and useful), appropriate for his age and are interesting and even fun. (I realize I may be stretching the definition of fun.)

In that vein, I taught J how to calculate a 20% tip at a restaurant.

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Real-life money lessons

Tracking Our Spending on an Awesome Weekend Road Trip

Awhile back I came upon a question on Reddit — “What did your family teach you about money and finance?” I love these types of topics (almost as much as I love topics like, “Besides your main job, what additional income streams do you have?”). There is always a wealth of information, and it’s a great opportunity to pick up a new idea to try.

One Redditor mentioned that his family did driving vacations almost exclusively. By the time he and his brother were 10 or so, they were responsible for keeping track of the “trip binder” where they logged expenses into categories and maintained receipts. Their mom wanted them to appreciate how much things cost and think critically about if they felt things were worth the price.

What a great idea! I bookmarked it for the next time we took a trip, which was this past weekend. We went to Brooklyn for a family birthday party and to the Statue of Liberty the next day.

Trip Log

I put together a basic log and organized our preliminary expenses — the Airbnb that we prepaid for as well as the tickets for the Statue of Liberty. I knew we would be traveling on toll roads, so I even tried to research which tolls we’d incur (based on what roads we planned to travel).

All grand plans!

And it didn’t work at all.

Categories
Real-life money lessons

Practice Makes Perfect

Last month we started talking about percentages in the 10-10-80 savings plan with our focus on the 10% that goes to savings. I want J to save at least 10% of all money he receives, so we’re working on how to calculate 10% of any amount.

I showed him two ways to calculate 10% last time:

  • Use the 100-grid and divide the amount into 10 equal parts. $3.00 divided into 10 equal parts gives you 30 cents in each 10-block
  • Move the decimal one place to the left to find 10%. $3.00 becomes $.300 or 30 cents

J got a calculator for Christmas, so we integrated it into our practice. I showed him how to find the decimal equivalent of a percentage by moving the decimal point two places to the left (10% becomes .10).