Saving money is something we all need to do. Some of us are lucky enough to have been born with the ability to manage money successfully. Others are fortunate to have had someone to show them the ropes and guide them into good money management. I fall into the category of having no clue about money management and no mentor to guide me. I wish I could say it came more naturally, but what I can do with money now, I learned though some major mistakes in the past!
I like to have a good handle on what is happening with my money now. I use online banking and find I am able to balance my checkbook (well, debit card) by scheduling a weekly time to go through bills and receipts. I use an Excel spreadsheet to track monthly expenses and to chart annual expenses such as insurance and membership payments.
One thing I do find difficult is saving. I do have automatic transfers set up to my saving account and funds such as retirement and college. I can easily see how much I have and plan accordingly. What I am not doing, however, is really teaching my children how to manage their money. This concerns me as I really don’t want them going down the path I took; blundering into some semblance of understanding later in life!
I have created a more visual, real-life savings experience for my kids. We keep jars in the house which are labeled according to their savings purpose. The children see me adding to the savings jars every day…”some change in this one, some change in that one.” The children also have their own jars too. Each week we count up how much we have saved; the boys use their allowance (we ask them to keep a percentage of it for saving) and then ‘deposit’ it in the relevant places.
Now I do cheat a little here. Hiking all the way to several banks etc, is not realistic, I use the cash for shopping and make online transfers for the amounts saved to each institution. Having cash when shopping also helps me to keep from overspending.
Seeing money grow in a jar is so motivating! We all enjoy seeing the amounts build up just from our loose change and daily leftovers. We have firm rules about not dipping into the jars for anything….this can be the biggest challenge of all. But the payoff comes when we add everything up at the end of the week and delight in how much we can stash away. The most popular jar is the Vacation Jar….the kids get very excited as we near our goal of a fun family vacation!