Category Archives: finance tips

Money Saving Tips for Your Family

Here’s a really good video interviewing a finance blogger and mother of two. I found her when I was researching the question of public vs. private school. I really enjoyed it and I hope you do too!

Money Saving Tips for Your Family

What did you get from the video?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Frugal Lessons

I’m catching up on few of my favorite blogs after being offline for over a week. Always more to learn from and reflect on. 

The Simple Dollar wrote about 48 Things Frugality has Taught Me . I would agree with many of his lessons. Here are my personal reflections on my favorite:

4. Young children are usually more interested in the free packaging or other freebies than any item you might buy them.
So true, we try to stick to simplicity with our gifts. Less is often better. Our kiddos b-days are in January, and we typically save a “Christmas” gifts for another month just so they aren’t overwhelmed.
5. A tall glass of pure water is the best first line of defense for many ailments.
Water, plus a neti pot and some tiger balm.
8. Fixing a toilet isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds.
I’m not afraid to say that Hubby has called me “toilet lady,” because I’m the first one to fix any leaks. In case you’re still intimidated, here are some easy instructions on fixing a leaky toilet.
10. You disagree with your spouse a lot less if you don’t have a pile of debt stressing you out.
As parents of young children, we know there’s enough stress already, why make life any harder?!
11. YouTube and a pile of old newspapers can entertain a four year old and a two year old for several hours.
Our kids also love sending/getting e-cards, way more fun and interactive than paper cards.
15. Every time I let go of something I used to like, I have more room for the things I enjoy now.
Note to self…purge closet!
21. Our city’s parks and recreation department has more fun stuff going on than our family has time to participate in.
We are park fans, and this summer has been packed with urban park adventures. Swim classes are our favorite and we love being able to walk five blocks to the pool.
22. Netflix streaming (at $9 a month) combined with free over-the-air digital television provides better television viewing options than a $50 monthly cable bill.
Absolutely, not having cable is worth every penny.
35. Getting rid of stuff you don’t use can be painful, but it feels exhilarating once you’ve started doing it.
This makes me want to purge more things, particular baby stuff that it no longer useful to us, but could bring others joy. Now I just need to find the time to go through it all…
38. Cloth diapering isn’t as scary as it sounds.
Really! It becomes just as routine as disposable diapering, although like all parents we are looking forward to being done with diaper duty .
40. The less activities you jam into a vacation, the more enjoyable and relaxing it usually is.
Going with the flow and relaxing is really the point of it all.
41. The more you talk to children about money and wise money decisions, the more they emulate those decisions with the money they have.
Money hang ups begin early and are hard to change, and I hope to share sustainable skills. 
44. Used paperbacks and books from the library are just as fun to read as new books from the bookstore.
After college I had a new book fetish, but I’ve gotten over it. I also don’t feel the need to hang on to more than a bookcase worth…need to purge some.
48. Most of the things that genuinely make me feel good – exercising, playing with my kids, holding my wife – don’t cost anything at all.
So true. I try to remind myself every day of all the free family fun we can make together.

What has frugality taught you and your family?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Online Finances

One of my goals when starting this blog venture was to simplify our finances. I feel like I’ve come a long way in the past six months, and have certain reached some important goals. I certainly have more work ahead, but “inch by inch, life is a cinch.”

So this past weekend when I was going through yet another stack of paperwork that I piled up, I was thrilled to see the my favorite eco-bank now offers e-Statements in lieu of traditional paper copies

These are the reasons ShoreBank Pacific gives to sign up for e-Statements:

  • They’re convenient & secure
  • Saves paper & trees
  • Delivered directly to your inbox
  • Reduces paper clutter
  • They free & enrolling is easy

When we first merged our accounts there Hubby commented “aren’t they an eco-bank?!”  I already check our balance online about once a week, so who really needs a paper copy to recycle?

My employer finally got with the new green century and recently started offering online bill stubs, so now I’ll have a few less paper to stack up!

While we don’t pay for the postage directly, the savings does add up. I know that for the last paper bill I needed to mail I used a stamp leftover from my holiday cards, and it’s July.

Does your bank offer e-Statements?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Online Sales

Do you feel guilt about online shopping? As long as you are thoughtful about your purchases, and sticking to your family budget, you shouldn’t feel guilty. Actually, a Carnegie Mellon study showed that  online shopping uses a third less energy than traditional retail.

I’m really a fan of online shopping simply because I find shopping more stressful than soothing. I also try to be very mindful when shopping online so that I feel more satisfied than suckered into a deal.

My favorite place to shop for kids clothes is Children’s Place. Each season they discount 40%, and you can usually find all the basics for $3-5. Sales are better online and you’ll have the pick of the warehouse rather than one local retailer.

I have a few money-saving habits. 

  • Sign up for sales email from your favorite stores, set them to deliver directly into an online shopping folder so you won’t be bothered constantly.
  • Only shop seasonally as-needed.
  • Know your limits – make a list and budget before you shop and stick to it.
  • Make sure you have cash, but use credit. You’ll earned miles or cash back, plus you’ll  be reminded of how much you spent when you pay your monthly credit tab.
  • Search for promo-codes. I usually save 10-15% or get free shipping. It adds up and is worth the two minutes.

What are your favorite places to shop online?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Ask For It

The world is abundant, but you still have to ask for want you want and need.

A few weeks ago I happened to get an interesting article on women and negotiations from a co-worker. It made a great case for why part of the pay disparity between sexes is because women simply don’t speak up and ask for it.  This should peak your attention especially if you have a daughter. The NYT article wrote about how we need to teach young girls the skill of negotiating and asking for what you want. It referenced a really intriguing  program aimed at teaching these skills to girls and women

It dawned on me that I actually didn’t know when to expect my next merit increase, as my manager had mentioned when I returned from maternity leave that my absence would affect it. It turns out after talking with HR that the leave did not affect when an increase would be allowed, and that I was actually due retroactively back to January. The kicker was that if I hadn’t asked before the end of the fiscal year I would have lost it!

I ended up with a stellar performance review and the maximum 4% increase.  Thankfully I didn’t have to learn the hard way, but it did teach me to speak up.  I will certainly keep this lesson in mind with our Girly, and work to model the skills that I’m learning mid-career.

This isn’t just a personal story or women’s issue though, its a family one. Most families need two incomes to make ends meet. Wage disparity hurts families and perpetuates inequality. If we don’t ask for change, who will?

Do you have tips for asking for raises or negotiating salaries?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.