Archive | February 2013

Financial Fast: A Great Way to Put Money In Its Proper Place

Being that it is the season of Lent, there is a lot of talk about giving something up for 40 days. We are not Catholic and don’t practice a strict policy of Lent, but for several years we have used this season for a Financial Fast. This is something that can be done at anytime.

Here are the basics:

Pay your regular bills. Don’t ignore any of your regular monthly obligations.

Commit to not spending any money other than essentials – groceries and gas – for one month (or 40 days). This means no clothes, toys, items for the house, eating out…nothing that isn’t food to be cooked at home or gas to get you to work and activities to which you are already committed. Don’t schedule doctor or other appointments with co-pays during this time unless someone is sick. Of course, if there is an emergency, spend the money. But clothes, shoes, and accessories for people or homes are not an emergency!

Spend time that you would have used shopping and spending money praying and investing into your family with fun, free family activities. At the end of your fast period (21, 30 or 40 days) count up the money you have saved and put it into a savings account. At that point you will likely have a significant amount of money and a whole new perspective on what is a need versus a want.

Have you tried a Financial Fast with your family? What did you do and what were the results? Share your experience in the comments!

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Saturday Project: Rain Collection Barrel

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While many people may be buried in snow this weekend, it is not too early to start planning for spring. This year, our spring plans include garden planting and that will require watering through the dryer times. We were looking for a cheaper way to water than just using the hose and finally came across great plans to make this rain barrel system on FamilyHandyman.com.

Week of 2/11 Menus

menu

Breakfast Menu:
M: Eggs
T: Oatmeal
W: Whole Wheat Pancakes
Th: Heart shaped cinnamon rolls (just unroll each cut roll and roll both edges back in, making the top of the heart. Pinch the bottom to a point.
F: Bacon & egg sandwiches
S: Amish Cinnamon Bread
S: Cereal/Eggs
 
 
Dinner Menu:
M: Nebraska Beef Buns, peas
T: Open faced turkey, potatoes, corn
W: Spaghetti, salad
Th: Heart shaped St. Louis Style Pizza – roll dough out into a heart shape
F: Lasagna, salad
S: Beef Stroganoff, broccoli
S: Panini

 

Product Review: MyJobChart.com

mzl_uqorunueOk, to be fair this isn’t exactly a product because you don’t pay for it. It is a free online service to manage kids chores and rewards. My Job Chart describes their service as a fun, easy to use online chore chart and reward system.

We joined My Job Chart about a month ago. Setting up the family and chores takes a little time, but it is totally customizable. You can add whatever chores and rewards you want, and assign point values to each. Each point equals 1 penny. Kids can use their points for cash, toys or other purchased items (you can link directly to things on Amazon.com, which lets the  kid see what they are working toward), or other rewards (baking cookies, picking the family movie or game, etc.). You can customize the payment (rewards) to your family, and even by individual child. For example, our 4-year-old gets 10 points for making his bed, but our 10-year-old only gets 1. Our 8-year-old can earn baking cookies with 300 points, but it takes only 100 for our 4-year-old to earn the same reward. This system works just like any other responsibility chart but has the added fun of being online (which kids love) and letting them see exactly what they are working toward earning.

Overall, we have been pleased with My Job Chart. The kids love getting on the computer (each family member has their own log-in from your family page) and checking off their chores. As parents, our favorite part is that this system still incorporates three accounts for each child – save, share (give), and spend. We were able to add our church as the designated place their share money goes so they can still tithe on the points they earn. Because earned points can only be placed in accounts in increments of 5, something I wish was different, we have the kids move points in blocks of 100. So every time their points get to 100 they put 20 in save, 10 in share, and 70 in spend. Any remaining points stay in the “waiting to be organized” area until they top 100 again and then repeat the process. Even our 4-year-old can log in to his profile, check off his chores, and move his points with little to no supervision.

As kids check off chores, parents get daily emails showing what has and has not been checked off. This allows the parent to know what kids are doing, and if they are being honest about what they checked off. You can go back to previous days under each child’s log in and correct any mistakes but either checking or unchecking a chore.

This has worked very well for our family so far and we would recommend MyJobChart.com as a good way to assign, manage, and reward work children are doing in the home, with the added benefit of teaching them about finances.

February Budget Blues

Piggy bankFebruary is a sneaky month, budget-wise. There are a number of tricky financial situations that come up in February. From higher electric bills due to colder temps, and those all-important Valentine’s Day gifts, money and feel extra tight in February if you don’t plan for it. Check out this post from Dave Ramsey on Budgeting in February for a good list of things to watch out for as you manage your money in February.

Product Review: FlipFold

FlipFoldLaundryFolder_lYou may have seen FlipFold on The Big Bang Theory as Sheldon carefully folds even his socks in it. Or you may have seen them in retail establishments, helping keep the clothes looking neat. The FlipFold is a great laundry tool. At our house, folding shirts has always been an issue. For some reason, I was the only person who could fold a shirt neatly. I got tired of the fighting and ordered the FlipFold (adult and junior sizes).

This product is easy to use  – our 4-year-old can now fold shirts neatly. The older girls are now fighting over who gets to fold the laundry. After two weeks of use most of our clothes have cycled through the laundry and everything is now neatly folded. I love it because clothes are less wrinkled and easier to put away and keep drawers neat. The kids enjoy folding the laundry using the FlipFold.

I would highly recommend the FlipFold, especially for homes where there are a lot of kids, or where kids help out with laundry. The cost is generally under $30, and deals can be found through sites like HSN.com and Amazon.com

(The Organized Wife received no compensation for this review.)

Saturday Project: Super Bowl Party

The Super Bowl is a big deal in our house. We are mega football fans, no matter who is playing. So we will gear up in our Sunday Best – Bears jerseys – and scream at the TV for one last game this season. Of course, what is a Super Bowl experience without great football food? Here are some party ideas:

10 Awesome Ways to Decorate Football Cupcakes – We prefer the football look or the helmet! football_ball_2

Food.com Super Bowl Recipes

Pinwheel wraps

5 Super Bowl Party Ideas