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Saving Family Style

As a family, there are places you want to visit and things you want to do. More than likely, they cost money. With monthly bills often leaving little room for fun money, pulling family resources together can get you on the road to meeting your goals. The following tips and actions can help:

Get Talking

Learning how to talk about money is the first step toward building healthy money habits. Start with having family meetings. Pick a quiet location and time, away from the TV and phone, to discuss goals, money, jobs, etc. Have these meetings on a regular schedule and make them fun—over a favorite family meal or at the park. Give everyone the opportunity to share their thoughts, goals and desires. Ask each member how they'll contribute.

Create a Plan

Once you've determined your goals—computer, camping trip, backyard playhouse—create a plan. Outline each person's contribution, how they will contribute financially and by what date. For example: Sam will wash the neighbor's dog weekly contributing $10 a month to savings. Being a member of a family is like being part of a team—sharing, supporting and working together towards a common goal.

Make a Family Budget

Include in the plan a budget and review periodically. This allows everyone to see how their actions affect the bottom line and to make adjustments. Depending on the child's age, have him/her manage the budget. The more invested they are the more they'll learn and follow through to make it happen. Remember: reward your child's efforts.

Start When They're Young

Children are curious about money, so whether it's the piggy-bank years or the allowance years—teach them about saving as they grow. It's never too early. Don't rely on them learning how to manage money in school. Start them off by opening a savings account. Tell them about deposits, withdrawals and the miracle of compound interest.

Make it Fun

If it's a trip you're saving for, get out the map and start to plan where you'll visit. Share the excitement with each other and enjoy the sense of accomplishment when you have the money saved. Create simple games as you save—how long can you go without writing a check or spending cash.

Go Online

Numerous websites can help you plan and save. Visit americasaves.org and kidsfinance.com and other such sites for helpful tips and tools.

What Parents Can Do to Save and Make Money

  • Shop (always with a list) at lower-priced food stores, buy generic and cut coupons.
  • Grow a garden—fruits, vegetables and herbs that you always need.
  • Plan meals and eat before grocery shopping. You'll buy less junk food on a full stomach.
  • Create your own greeting cards to give or sell to family, friends and neighbors.
  • Bake at home and save money from purchasing store-bought breads or cakes.
  • Sew, knit or crochet items you need or to generate income.
  • Ride your bike, walk or take the bus to work to save money on gas.
  • Save your loose change—it adds up.

What Kids Can Do to Save and Make Money

  • Limit video and music purchases.
  • Save babysitting money and cash gifts from birthdays and holidays.
  • Borrow, rather than buy, books.
  • Get an after school and/or summer job (do yard work, fix computers, clean windows, mow lawns, sort recyclables, wash cars, clean up after pets).
  • Eat at home, not at the mall or minimart.
  • Avoid buying soda, drink water instead.
  • Come up with new ways to save.
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