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## Making the Transition from Cash to Card

For two years now, J has been using cash, paper and pencil to manage his money. I’ve been paying monthly interest and bi-weekly allowance in cash. I’ve been calculating interest payments in Excel and emailing statements.

My goal was to help him understand cash (and math) by using hands-on, practical examples.

It’s been awesome. J started with \$40 in his savings envelope in April 2016 and had over \$500 by June 2018. (Pretty good for a kid with no job.)

## Time to move on

When he turned 10 a few months ago, I knew it was time to learn something else. Cash is great, but how many of us really use cash and only cash every day? His financial education needed to include the responsible use of cards.

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## Having “The Talk” About Making Your Money Work Harder: Part 1

I’m really excited to start this post today! J and I had some great conversations this weekend that I will write about in a five-part series on Making Your Money Work Harder.

First, we reviewed how we’ve already started making our money work harder by saving.

If you’ve been around for awhile, you know the drill, but just in case you’re new, here’s the skinny:

• I pay J 3% interest on the money he puts into his savings envelope every month. I give him a paper statement and email him the same statement each month (posterity!). As he records the interest in his register, we review how the month went and look at how he earned more interest than in previous months. (Read one of our recent summaries here.)
• A few times each year, we take a trip to our local bank and deposit the money. Bank visits are a great time for conversation, and J always enjoys going because the tellers are often really nice to him. They love to see kids!
• After that, I keep the minimum in the account to avoid a fee and transfer the rest to an online bank that pays a higher interest rate. Read all about that here.

Today we logged in to the local and online bank accounts. We reviewed the amount in each account and noted the current interest rate. The local bank account has a rate of 0.01% — yikes! The online bank account’s rate is 1.20% — not too bad (comparatively speaking).

We discussed wanting a high interest rate when you’re saving (so you earn more). And when you’re borrowing, you want the interest rate to be low (so it doesn’t cost you as much).

Just a side note, we haven’t really talked about borrowing or debt yet. I’m hoping to get the savings and growth lessons underway to have more TIME on our side. After we talk about saving and investing, start the accounts we want to start and look/talk about them monthly, we’ll move on to borrowing and debt.

I told J that there were OTHER ways of putting his money to work, ways that may pay even more. He was excited! He pulled up a chair and said, “Okay, I want to know those things.”

I’ll cover each topic in depth in the subsequent posts, but as an overview, we dived into:

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## Delayed Gratification For The Win

Several weeks ago, my sister sent J a gift in the mail — the Harry Potter Lego Dimensions Team Pack. J is a HUGE Lego fan, so naturally Legos are a great gift for him.

When he received them, however, he told me that he didn’t have the rest of the parts necessary to use them. Apparently you need a starter pack, and oh, it’s available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U.

Yeah, we don’t have any of those.

I immediately stopped investigating how we could play with this toy, and we started brainstorming on what we could do instead.

## Now what?

J decided to return the gift and get something else. Having no idea how much Lego Dimension Team Packs are worth, we headed to the store and hoped for the best. (Seriously, though, how much could it be? There were like four pieces in this tiny box.)

Imagine our delight when we found out the return value was \$25 (!!!). We walked around the store for awhile, trying to find something to get instead. He picked up a few things, but there was nothing that he wanted that he could afford.

So we took a step back. I asked him what he really wanted.

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## How Much Does Your Vacation Really Cost?

Back in March, we went on a road trip and J calculated how much we spent. I thought it was great for him to be able to see exactly how much a vacation really costs.

So when we went to Virginia Beach a few weeks ago, I wanted to have him calculate the cost again, with a few tweaks.

During the trip, we collected all receipts in a folder. We didn’t attempt to do any worksheets or calculating while we were away! A few days after we got home, we sat down and filled out our new and improved trip log (once all of the EZ Pass transactions posted).

This time, we divided all of our receipts into categories. We ended up with seven groups: gas, tolls, groceries, eating out/snacks, household items and lodging.

He labeled each green box with the category. Then he used a running total approach with the register. This involves:

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## The Great Allowance Debate

Allowances. To give or not to give. It’s a hot topic.

To put it simply, I think there are three main camps:

• Don’t give it at all. I already feed, clothe and shelter you.
• Give it unconditionally. Here is some money and it is yours.
• Give it conditionally, based on desired actions. Here is money for completing X chores, getting Y grades, etc.