No Spend September: Family Chores and Allowance (Podcast #14!)

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Hey Parents! Jen here. This week on Episode 14 in honor of managing money and responsibilities during #NoSpendSeptember2018, Corinne and I chat about how to organize chores for our kids and how to deal with allowance. Corinne’s kids are ages 1-7 and mine are 4-12, so we’re on slightly different chore and allowance tracks, but chances are, we’ve got you covered!

First of all, here are a few chores even the youngest kids (ages 18 months to 4 years) can do, with assistance:

    • Take laundry to basement
    • Organize toys
    • Help unload dishwasher (plastic or utensils)
    • Vacuum
    • Set table
    • Sweep (kind of…)

So, get those little ones involved. Here are a couple chore systems you can consider for your family:

  1. Pay as you go. Rather than setting up a chart or a system, pull kids in when you need some help doing “above and beyond” activities. Need help weeding the garden or taking out the trash? Here’s a dollar or two. Put it in your piggy bank!
  2. Set an allowance and a daily chore chart. For the younger kids, it’s ok to make some of their chores things that they should be doing already, like brushing their teeth and making their beds. But as they get older (say by age 8), allowance should really be for extra stuff, not what they should be doing anyway like flushing the toilet and clearing their plates at dinner.
  3. Give each kid one chore per week, then switch.  Rather that mixing it up every day during the week, you can simplify your system by giving one kid setting table for one full week and another one dishes. This system can be easier to follow and easier to enforce because it’s simple, especially if kids don’t mind sticking with the same chore(s) for 7 straight days.

Chez Reilly, we have a weekly system magnetized to our fridge where each of the 4 kids has 2 chores per day. That chore could be as painful as scrubbing toothpaste out of the kids’ bathroom sink, or as fun as sticking the shoes in the shoe cubby at the front door (wait, am I only the one that thinks that’s fun?!). Here’s what ours looks like (and here are the chart and the markers if you’re gung-ho!):

I know what you’re thinking, what the heck is the Bed Check?! Well, that person checks to make sure the other kids made their beds and then makes sure they do it if it isn’t done. If beds aren’t made, it’s on the bed check person!

Corinne is setting up a new chore system right now with her oldest daughter Audrey (7 years old) working off of a to-do list each day. I’m sure Corinne will update us on her new system as it unfolds.

Now for Allowance. In our house, we are organized and keep a spreadsheet. As long as chores get done each week, the kids get half their age in dollars (Keller age 12 gets $6, Griffin age 10 gets $5, Jake age 8 gets $4, and Annie age 4 gets $2). I know, that’s $17 per week for stuff we could do in 10 minutes. But it’s teaching them great habits and the appreciation of earned money, or at least we can hope.

Of the money our kids get, 50% goes straight to their piggy banks, 25% gets put in a savings account that they’ll be able to access when they graduate high school, and the other 25% gets donated to a charity at the end of the year. The kids all vote on one charity and last year it was our local humane society. Pretty soon they’re going to start their own non-profit to fund nerf guns and jewelry for themselves just so they can “donate” to it at the end of the year. But until they figure that out, we’ve got an awesome spreadsheet and a nice sum of $217 that’s going to go to a charity in the end of 2018.

I don’t think you can do allowance wrong, just keep in mind that it should probably increase with age along with responsibilities so start really small when they’re young.

I’ll leave you with the cutest chore system ever… I would LOVE to hear if you try that one out! It is chores on coffee 🙂

As always, share your tips in the comments below.

Until we no-spend again next week!

Jen & Corinne

No Spend September: Free Family Activities (Podcast #13!)

Free Family Activities

Hey No-Spenders! Jen here. We’re almost mid-way through the #NoSpendSeptember2018 challenge and while my spend-hog kids have declared it “the worst month of their lives,” Corinne and I are having fun (mostly!) and feeling like we’re getting more quality time with our clans.

Aside from the gag-ilicious stew I made this past weekend from fridge scraps (adults liked it, kids weren’t sure), the backpack I bought on Amazon because Annie was falling down the stairs with the too-big one I tried to recycle, and Corinne convincing her mother-in-law to buy pizza for her kids, it’s been a VERY successful challenge for us so far. Listen to our wacky convo about it all in Episode 13 along with a bunch of the free and fun things we’ve done with our families and partners to make no-spend exciting. Here they are listed out for your reading pleasure as well:

  1. Go to the library. Make it a weekly trip. Get lots of new books, DVD’s and audiobooks.
  2. Play board games, cards and solve puzzles: Dig into that closet and have a ball rediscovering old games and puzzles. Ramp up the gaming and host a “Board Game Olympics” show-down with several games. Teach your kids the rules of chess (and learn yourself). Play poker with pennies.
  3. Set up an obstacle course around your house. Make a mess, but have a blast.
  4. Make a dedicated basement (or other) space for free, messy play. Speaking of mess, make an out-of-the-way space for your kids to make a mess and not have to clean it up every day. Keep it out of your eye-shot so it doesn’t stress you out.
  5. Make iMovies. Interview your family members, dress up and act goofy, and use the iMovie or another app to make movie trailers or little home movies. Use the slow-mo and time-lapse features. A slow-mo of your kid spitting is fascinating (yes, I have 2 boys!). If I can do this, anyone can.
  6. Make cards and write letters to friends and family. Who doesn’t like mail, especially the unexpected type? Decorate, write a quick note, and send! Walk to the mailbox for extra credit.
  7. Go for a hike or “adventure” walk in your neighborhood. Look for treasure, new creatures, or count things (like fire hydrants or basketball hoops).
  8. Make a picnic dinner for your backyard or local park. Pack it up and head on out! Make the food mess outside, but eat fast before the bees and flies find you!

For lots more ideas, check out this long list. And please share your no-spend ideas in the comments below!

In homemade playdough,

Jen & Corinne

No Spend September: Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Budget (Podcast #12!)

No Spend September: Grocery Shopping on a Budget

No Spend September is underway! Whether it’s September or February,  you can challenge yourself to a “spending freeze” any time of year! Check out the rules and tips here, and just dive right in. You’ll be suprised how eye-opening and how fun this challenge really is!

To kick off the frugally fun journey, we talk about ways to save money while grocery shopping in episode 12 of the podcast. Plus, you’ll hear updates on how the no-spend month is going for us just a few days in. Stay tuned for more thrifty tips in episodes 13, 14, and 15 too!

For now, here’s a quick run-down of our best grocery shopping budget tips:

  1. Make a grocery list and stick to it.
  2. Avoid impulse buys.
  3. Leave the kids at home, and if you can’t, give them their own budget ($1?) for spending, or bring surprise snacks or toys with you to keep them busy and avoid giving in to their whims.
  4. Set a weekly grocery budget and try to stick with it. Calculate your grocery budget which includes toiletries and diapers by multiplying the number of people in your household by $40. (Listen to the podcast to hear how Jen is trying to stick with $200 per week for her family of 6… which is crazy!).
  5. Buy on-sale items. If your list includes cucumbers for lunches and cherry tomatoes are on sale, swap one for the other to save some cash.
  6. Buy organic produce when you can following EWG’s Dirty Dozen, but don’t sweat it. However, if you buy eggs, dairy, meat or fish, buying organic and certified humane can definitely be worth the extra expense
  7. Don’t forget about frozen fruits and veggies. They’re often more rich in nutrients than fresh produce depending on how far your fresh produce has traveled and they last longer. But buy the Big Bag. 🙂 

Share your “no spend” journey with us on social media using #NoSpendSeptember2018 and check out Jen’s favorite lady Jordan Page on Fun Cheap or Free for more budget-friendly tips!

Need some new recipes to try in your meal plans this month? When you subscribe to our newsletter, you’re in the loop on all our free resources. Right now, our subscribers have access to our 3-Step Weekend Prep guide. The recipes inside are great for saving time and money!

In lists and brownies from scratch,

Jen & Corinne