Browse Tag: spending

money-talk-money-walk

Does Your Money Talk Match Your Money Walk?

If you’ve been around awhile, you know that my focus on National Bank of Mom is 1) teaching my son kick-ass money management skills and 2) fostering good communication between us.

I teach him how to balance his savings, spending and giving accounts, how to plan for a large purchase and how to save at least 10% of his income.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that talk will only get me so far.

If I want to instill these skills in my son, I have to make sure I’m walking the talk. I have to look at my own actions and behavior and ask myself, “Is what I’m doing contradicting what I’m saying?”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

That couldn’t be more true. So much of what we learn is unspoken. We pick things up from our friends, family and society around us — what’s “normal” and expected. How life works.

To that end, ask yourself the following questions and examine your behavior:

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must-be-rich-because-pool

“They Must Be Rich Because They Have a Pool”

Late last year, J took a trip with his dad to visit his cousins. When he got home, he recounted all his adventures and added, “they must be rich because they have a pool.”

A few years ago, I would have agreed with him. His cousins have a very large house, drive fancy cars and take elaborate vacations.

But then I read The Millionaire Next Door. (Here’s the first chapter if you want a preview!)

In it, the author makes the important point that you can’t tell how much people have based on what they buy.

Hearing it now, it makes total sense. But for 30+ years, I can say that that thought never occurred to me.

So we talked about it. I told him that you can’t tell how much people have saved. The pool doesn’t prove that they DO have a lot of money and it also doesn’t prove that they DON’T.

I brought it up again last night. I said, “Do you remember when you said that your cousins must be rich because they have a pool? Does having a pool or a fancy car or big house mean you are rich?” To which he replied no. I asked, “Does it mean that you aren’t rich?” And he also said no. (Woo! He remembered!)

Then I asked, “What does it mean?” Unfortunately, he was hard pressed to explain further.

So I explained again that there was NO WAY to tell how much money someone had saved based on their car or house or vacations. Maybe you can tell how much they spent, but really not even that completely because maybe they got the item at a discount or given to them.

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National Bank of Mom Calculate the Tip

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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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.

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National Bank of Mom Short Term Savings Plan

Short-Term Savings Plan

When we first started learning to manage money, we had three envelopes — one for savings, one for spending and one for giving. The savings envelope was for long-term savings — I give J a monthly statement and interest (more on this later). What I didn’t account for, however, was short-term savings — things that he wanted to buy but didn’t immediately have enough money. He’d have to save up.

It was October at the time, and with Christmas coming, we thought it would be perfect to save for Christmas presents.

  • We got a new envelope
  • We made a list of everyone he wanted to buy for, approximately how much he wanted to spend on each person and added to get a total needed
  • We then decided on when he’d like to save the money by (two weeks before Christmas) so that we had time to shop and wrap the presents
  • From there we could calculate how much he had to save per period to meet his goal

In addition to the register, I made a small worksheet that we filled out with the above info.

National Bank of Mom Savings Plan

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