September 24, 2014

Check Out My Article on

I keep forgetting to post this but it's exciting news for me.
A couple of weeks ago a slightly revised version of my blog post Six Things My Parents Did Right When Teaching Me About Money was republished in the Money section of
I've been really excited to see how well it was received, 4,963 views  and  3,072 shares to date.
I thought about blogging for a LONG time before I actually started. I was really worried about how my content would be received, I didn't want to just waste my time. I have received a lot of great feedback and I know I've been able to help some people work on getting their finances in order which is what this project is all about. This article's success is one more confirmation that I'm doing something worth doing. That's a great feeling.
Go check out my article here, share if you'd like and spend a moment looking around, there are some other really great articles on the site. I'd love to hear what your favorites are, leave a comment below so I know which ones to check out.

September 10, 2014

Saving Money: Birthday Edition (Part Three)

Spend Less, Give More

The gift that keeps on giving

As parents, it can be very tempting to want to give children lots of STUFF. Stuff they need, stuff they want, stuff you want, stuff they don't even know they want. Fulfilling my 3 year-old's wish list this year, would have cost roughly $1,000,000. 
Nope, not a typo. Along with a squirt gun, toy cars, a Buzz Lightyear with wings and a laser, a golf glove, a birthday cake, and plenty of other things I don't remember. 
He also wanted a four-wheeler, a tractor, and a combine, and he didn't mean toys or power wheels. 
I purchased a few of the things that were reasonable, but less than I could have, and far less than he wanted.

He did get the "Red Combine" cake he wanted, thanks to a little spray paint:).

Most of us have financial constraints that limit what, and how much we purchase for our children. 

I'd like to suggest setting a budget of how much you can spend on your child, and then spending less than that. If possible, significantly less.

Before you draw the conclusion that it doesn't seem NICE or FAIR or GENEROUS. Hear me out.

Buy a couple of things that will make your child very happy, but stop before you hit your spending limit, and put the rest into savings for that child.
I started this when my oldest turned One. There aren't many things a one-year-old really wants or needs, but there can be many things a parent wants for their one-year-old. I decided rather than fall into that trap I would buy a few presents and then put the rest of the money I had budgeted into his UESP education fund. It continues to motivate me to shop sales and limit my overall spending, knowing that I am giving him a far more valuable gift than another toy or shirt he doesn't need. We may not be able to pay for much of our kids schooling, I don't know what our financial future will hold, but something is better than nothing.

The type of savings you choose for your child may vary based on your values, goals, abilities, and the age of your child, some people don't want to pay for college or trade school.

Other savings goals may include:
First Car
Down Payment on a Home
Custodial IRA (if your child has earned income. This money could be used for education, retirement or a first home. If you choose to go this route discuss the pros/cons and risks thoroughly with a financial adviser.)

Remember, small amounts add up. Investing just $20 twice a year (Birthday and Christmas), for 18 years at a 6% rate of return, would yield about $1200 upon graduating from high school. Now that's a gift.

More than anything, this gift can teach them the power of sacrifice, self-control, and delayed gratification, and that's a gift that keeps on giving.

View my disclosure here.

September 1, 2014

Saving Money: Birthday Edition (Part Two)

Yesterday I posted about saving money on birthdays, specifically pictures.
Today I'm moving on to the second item on my list, make the birthday cake yourself.

The first birthday cake I made for my son was one of the most embarrassing failures of my life.

EVERY time I bake a cake we laugh about that cake.

The cake was very moist. 
The frosting was real buttercream.
 It was about 2 feet tall.
 I had no idea what I was doing. 

The cake crumbled. The frosting melted. 

It was definitely an event to remember.

My husband still swears it was the most delicious cake he's ever had.

I've tried repeatedly to re-create it (the flavor, that is, not the beautiful creation itself). I really think it was the Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix, other brands I've tried since haven't been nearly as good.
Since the above disaster, I've become a bit less ambitious. Single layer cakes only for now:)
However, for only a few dollars I've been able to create cakes for only a few dollars that make my birthday crowd just as happy as one from the grocery store bakery.

I search for decorating ideas on Pinterest and then choose a single layer cake that I'm confident I can make without fondant. I bake the cake the day before and then start decorating it first thing that morning so that I have time to come up with a backup plan if it fails.
Below are the links to the original cakes:
Basketball cake
Golf Cake
Combine Cake using these instructions to make the No. 3.

My other secret, is I use a springform pan (the kind used for cheesecake) to bake thick/tall cakes without having to bake multiples and stack them. I use this set, but any springform pan would work, I use the medium size for a single cake, but for the No. 3 I baked 2 cakes in the smaller sized pan.
I just use a cake mix and use the classic Pinterest hack to make a boxed cake mix taste like one from a bakery.
Add an extra egg.
Use Melted Butter instead of Oil and double the amount
Use Milk instead of Water.
(I can't figure out the original source to link to, if you know, I'd love to give proper credit to the person who came up with this idea)

Happy Baking!