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Savings are a family affair Add to ...

• Food. If breastfeeding is a viable option for you, pursue it. It’s the most natural way to feed your baby, and you’ll save money on formula. Once your baby can begin eating solids, you can save money by making your own baby food. Homemade baby food is incredibly simple because babies just need good, pure puréed food to fill their little bellies. Puréed cooked veggies or fruit can be stored in ice cube trays and frozen for quick pop-out meals at a minute’s notice. (Or whenever your baby’s lungs make it known that he or she is hungry now.) Be sure to consult your baby’s pediatrician for proper nutrition guidelines and instructions on what your baby’s digestive tract can handle as the child continues to grow.

• Necessities (and accessories). A baby shower is a fantastic way for new parents to get the necessities and accessories they need to welcome their child home. Grandmothers-to-be, aunts-to-be and friends are often very eager to host a shower for the new mommy. If you are having a shower, be sure to register for gifts. The benefits of registering are three-fold: First your guests can select from gifts you truly want and need; second, it reduces the odds of receiving multiples of the same product; and third, many stores offer the registered parents a 10 percent discount on any unpurchased items left on the registry after the event.

Junior savers: Teaching kids the value of money

This world is filled with all the wrong kinds of money consciousness for kids. They seem to think that money from Mom or Dad just appears out of thin air whenever it’s needed—for the latest brand-name shoes, video game consoles, cell phones or laptops. This ain’t the ’50s anymore, sweetheart! (Or even the ’90s, come to think of it.) Kids’ dream purchases now are just as likely to cost hundreds of dollars as the twenty bucks it probably cost your parents to keep you satisfied.

Teaching kids to be financially responsible is not only important now—for your own sanity and budget—but also later on. Responsible kids and teens grow into adults who know their way around a bank statement. Kids who learn early on how to budget, save and shop carefully (not emotionally) will be less likely to incur huge amounts of debt and financial worries later. So, it’s a true win-win situation with far reaching benefits for everyone.

Twelve Tips to Teach Money Skills to Kids

The following tips will help your children become financially aware early on in life. Maybe you’re just learning some of these principles for the first time, too, never having had a parent who taught you money management skills. If so, you know better than anyone how much you wish you’d known this stuff earlier on, so don’t hesitate to teach it to your kids! They need to know about money, especially in this money-mad world. Adjust and tweak the tips—like you do your budget—to come up with more ideas that will work well for your children’s personalities and learning styles.

1. You walk the walk. Telling your kids to stay within their budget (their weekly allowance or part-time income) won’t have a lot of merit if you don’t do the same yourself. Make sure you walk the walk as far as money is concerned, and take your own finances as seriously as you expect them to. Be a role model they can look up to.

2. Don’t overwhelm them. While helping your kids learn new money management skills, you don’t need to bore them with long lectures. You’ll have much greater success by approaching it more casually and naturally—talk to your kids at the grocery store while you’re choosing your purchases. Ask them which product they think is the better bargain. Or, while shopping for clothes, get them to help you find a good deal for the money—not always the very cheapest item, but a good quality garment for a fair price. Look through newspaper advertisements together before you go shopping so you know which stores have the best prices. Teach kids money lessons as they come up, not forcefully.

3. Start early. As soon as your children are old enough to understand the concept of paying money for things they’d like to own, give them small allowances of their own. Teach them from a very young age that they have to use their own money to get some of the things they want. Starting at about three or four years of age seems to work for most families, even if that allowance is only a dollar or two a week. An allowance teaches kids on many levels. They learn to save. They learn the value of a dollar. As the parent, you are responsible for setting the allowance. Use your budget to determine how much you can afford to pay in allowance per month. Then divide that figure evenly over the weeks and pay the allowance on a weekly basis. For young kids, even fifty cents a week will seem like a lot of money to them.

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