August 28, 2014

Saving Money: Birthday Edition
We recently had a birthday at our house and, since that's what I've been focusing on, I thought I would share a few birthday related money saving ideas.
1. Take pictures of the birthday kid yourself.
2. Make the birthday cake yourself.
3. Set a budget, spend within that budget and put anything left over into savings for that child.
I'll be focusing on pictures in this post, be watching for the next 2 installments.

1. Take pictures of the birthday kid yourself.
I love pictures.
I love the ability to freeze time.
There are times when I like video, but for the most part I prefer still shots. I love looking back on pictures from when I was little. They invoke so many positive memories of my childhood. -
In my dreams I would hire a photographer 4 times a year, OK probably more. But financial constraints make it so that in reality can only hire a professional photographer about once a year, or less.
Having already hired a photographer six months ago for Newborn/Family pictures, and wanting Birthday pictures for my toddler (I refuse to use the word pre-schooler yet) and six month pictures for my baby in the same month, I decided to try taking my own. I had nothing to lose. If they turned out horrible, I would simply donate plasma and pay for a photographer.
Not so simple since I have 2 children and the nearest place to donate plasma is 30 minutes away. Oh and I don't like having blood drawn, and I think I might be anemic again.

Oh yes, pictures...
I grabbed my camera (a point and shoot) and we visited the farm.

I ended up with about a dozen that I like.
They're not perfect.
The coloring isn't perfect.
It's better than the times I've skipped pictures altogether.
I used PicMonkey to do some minor editing on a few of them, though not much because, I don't know what I'm doing.
PicMonkey is a great resource, there are lots of free actions to get you started, and if you find you want more, their "Royale" version is $4.99 for a month with a subscription that you can cancel at any time, far less expensive than purchasing Photoshop, especially if you're not sure the "Momtography" thing is for you.

The best thing about taking pictures myself was that when he became fed up we took a thirty minute treat break and then tried again

My Wild Thing

I'm going to leave you with one photography tip, it's the only one I know, and it may be really obvious to everyone reading this, but just in case it helps someone, here it is:
Move Back and Zoom In
Zooming in causes the background to slightly blur, creating a softening effect and making your subject the focal point.
It also does something with the proportions of the face so your picture will look less like a snapshot.
Yep, super technical, life altering photography tips, hope you enjoyed them.And if you're in Northern Utah and taking your own pictures is not for you, I'd love to give a shout-out to two awesome and reasonably priced photographers in the area.
I hope they don't mind.
Leslie Miller Photography

August 18, 2014

Allowance: Money without Work

How Giving An Allowance Can Instill in Children a Willingness to Work and Serve
(Ok, it's only one SMALL aspect, but hear me out)

Should You Give Your Kids An Allowance Or Should Money Be Earned?
What Do You Think?

My son turns 3 this week, and we're starting allowance.
I'll be testing my allowance theory and sharing the successes and failures of the journey in future posts.

Yes, I believe in Allowance.
Allowance, as in money that's given, not earned.

Does this surprise you?
It surprises me.
I am a believer in hard work.
I used to think that giving kids money they didn't have to earn was simply a great way to teach them that they don't need to work.
I also feel that when kids are given things rather than working for them, they don't learn to manage money.

So, why allowance?
I also believe that there is too much emphasis on money in this world.
Money is often a source of control.
Too often, Money = Power
Too many kids (and adults) only want to work if there's money involved.
If Work = Money and Money= Power/Control, why serve?

Here's my Suggestion:
Give your children a small allowance just for being part of the family.
Not because they're good kids, not because they're hard workers, just because they need to learn how to manage money and spend appropriately.
Give them a small enough amount that they'll still want more, but give them enough money to teach them about money. 

Give them jobs that they do just because they're part of the family.

We started jobs at age two:

Taking his dishes to the sink after meals
Putting away his toys
Unloading his dishes and other plastic items from the dishwasher and putting them away
Putting his dirty clothes in his laundry basket at night.

He is learning that work is a responsibility whether it's financially profitable or not (this promotes service).
He will understand that even when he begins to make more money from an employer than he can from mom, he is still expected to contribute to the household.
He is learning that fun is great, but that work is necessary. 
I praise him instead of pay him, and he values that praise.

When kids want to earn more money then they can do more jobs
How you manage this is up to you.
You could make a list of jobs and the amount you are willing to pay for those jobs. 
They can come to you and propose a job they're willing to do and you can negotiate the pay rate.
They can present an amount they would like to earn and you can give them a list of jobs they need to do to earn that amount.

How do you motivate kids to work if they're not getting paid?
If they don't do their jobs, rather than not getting paid, they lose privileges such as playing with friends, TV time, video games, they lose toys that aren't put away, driving privileges, or whatever works for you and your child.

Interested in more about Kids and Money?
Read my post Six Things My Parents Did Right When Teaching Me About Money
I also HIGHLY recommend this book for a more in depth look at teaching kids of all ages about money, it's an easy read, well written, and has great examples.
And follow us as I share about my little golfer's money managing adventures.

August 5, 2014

Instead Of...

Using Alternatives to Save Money on Baby Gear

Instead Of...
A baby bathtub typically costing $20-30

It costs less than half as much and can be used in the sink or the regular bathtub, whichever you prefer. This is easily one of my favorite baby products.

Instead Of...

A Diaper Genie with Expensive Refills
A metal trashcan with a lid

Instead Of...
A changing table $$$ a pad $20+ a pad cover $8+
For around $30 it contains baby's necessities and can easily be moved from room to room.
(If baby's room is not on the main living level in your home you'll love that you can keep one in your living room and not have it be an eyesore).

Instead Of...
A Maternity Pillow costing $50-100
A regular body pillow
Walmart has one right now for $10.88, you can also find them on Amazon for about $25

Instead Of...
Sticking with Walmart, Target and Amazon
Check out...
Ikea's baby department if you live near one, they have some great items that might save significant money. I love their toys, bibs, dishes, and I strongly considered buying one of their cribs. Ikea cribs are smaller than most, which some might find to be very convenient.

Instead Of...
Buying an expensive name brand nursing pillow
Visit... and enter promo code BBFAC1 which will make the pillow free when you pay for shipping&processing. You'll end up with a nursing pillow for $12.95.

Use Promotion Code bbfac1 TODAY!

 The same code will work at their sister sites:

I have personally used their nursing cover, milkbands, nursing pads, and sling and have been very pleased with every product.

Instead Of...
Buying a bunch of expensive baby toys that just end up being clutter.
An Exersaucer or Jumparoo (As a side note, at $55 and $75 these are both good prices right now)
It's convenient because it provides a safe place to set your baby and the toys don't get lost. I prefer the Exersaucer over the Jumparoo because, in my experience, when they're little it's easier for them to turn the seat in the Exersaucer and when they get bigger it helps them practice their balance. My babies have started loving them between 4-5 months when they are strong enough to hold themselves up, and I use them until after they start walking to keep them contained.

If you Really want to save money...
Instead Of...
An infant carseat and stroller
A Convertible Carseat and a baby carrier.
Chances are you will need to buy a convertible car-seat anyway in order to keep baby rear-facing until age two as is recommended, so perhaps it would make more sense to start out with a convertible.
Find out everything you need to know about choosing and using a convertible for a newborn Here.
The Maxi Cosi Pria with Tiny Fit, and the Combi Coccoro are even recommended for preemies! See the link above for other great seat recommendations and information
I'm considering doing this if/when I have another child. Instead of clicking their car-seat into the stroller, or setting it on a shopping cart, or lugging around that painfully heavy thing, I'll put baby in a baby carrier and have my hands free to manage the other two.
A great, inexpensive baby carrier I would recommend is the Infantino Sash Mei Tai Carrier. I tried it out with newborn number two and was very impressed, especially for the price. It lends the comfort, support and versatility of a wrap, but is easier to put on.

Instead Of...
Sticking with a Traditional In-Store Baby Registry
Start an Amazon Baby Registry Here
30 days before your due-date you are eligible to purchase remaining items for an extra 10% off (15% if you're an AmazonMom member)!!! And you can add products from other websites so if you've shopped around and found great deals it's a good way to pass those deals on to people who want to purchase gifts for baby.

Instead Of...
Buying Diapers Ahead of Time
And find out which diapers actually work for your baby.
I regularly hear the suggestion to buy a box of diapers every month until your baby gets here to ease the financial burden once he or she is born. While this may seem great, it really makes no sense to me. In my experience, I've always been pre-paying medical bills (hundreds of dollars a month, so life's not really less expensive before my babies arrive) Why not open a separate savings account, take the money you would be spending on those diapers and stash it away. Then you don't risk buying boxes and boxes of diapers that won't work for your little one. What of your baby is allergic to the diapers you bought? My first baby could use any diapers, though for those first couple of months I preferred Huggies Little Snugglers. For my second, I bought Little Snugglers and he leaked out of them, constantly. The only diapers he didn't leak out of were Pampers Swaddlers, until he was 4 months old, and then his BM's changed and we can now use any diapers, yay for Sam's Club and Target brand diapers!!!
If you've saved that money instead of buying diapers with it, you can try different brands without having to try and exchange them, or, since you've already worked diapers into your budget you can use that money for other baby necessities, pictures (newborn pictures are the best!), or a babysitter for a night out (or grocery shopping)!!!

Visit to check out an awesome photographer with awesome prices!

How have You saved on Baby Gear?

This Post Contains Affiliate Links to help you locate great items at great prices. I haven't recommended anything I wouldn't choose myself. Click Here to view my Disclosure.