My family officially has our first pets!!! We’ve have had butterflies, rolly pollies, and other insects, but on Saturday, we bought three colorful guppy fish. My four-year-old stared in wonder at the fish tanks full of many kinds of fish. For Christmas, we gave our kids gift cards to pay for their fish. I hadn’t planned on the cost of the rocks and decorations for the tank. Those ended up costing four times more than the fish! As our kids started picking out the decorations for their fishes’ home, I was not sure how much to spend or what money to use. The decorations cost $10-$40 a piece. One piece of coral, which my son wanted, cost $35. I told him that he would need to use his money if he wanted to buy that. He put it back, and we got enough decorations for the whole tank for the price of that one decoration. I decided we would use our Christmas money to pay for the decor since they were part of their Christmas gift. I learned that I should have considered and planned for the cost of accessories of the tank.
Our fish buying experience got me thinking about how we, as parents, decide what we will buy for our children and what we let our children buy. This wasn’t the first time that we had this situation come up. In fact, it comes up frequently. We could go overboard either way: make them pay for everything or buy everything for them. There is no fixed rule: every family decides what they will do. Here are a few issues that we consider:
Are my children learning how to work? If the answer is yes, I am more likely to want to pay for more of their expenses. If the answer is no, I am less likely to pay for their expenses so that they can learn to work.
Are they learning to be good stewards of money? I want to be generous to them. However, if they spend their money thoughtlessly, I don’t feel it is wise to give them money. They will never have enough money if they don’t manage it.
Are they acting entitled and bratty? Recently my oldest daughter got her money ready to pay for a field trip. I was glad that she was taking responsibility and was willing to pay for her own expenses. Because she did not act entitled, I really wanted to pay for the trip. I told her that she didn’t have to pay for it and expressed how proud I was of her. In contrast, last week my four-year-old threw a fit in the car. On the way home, we went through the Wasatch Peaks drive through to make a deposit, and she wanted a sucker. Even though it was free, I did not get her a sucker. I told her that throwing fits is not the way to get what she wants from me. If she had calmly rode in the car, I would have been more likely to get her a sucker. She learned. A couple days later, we went to the credit union again. She had been calm and obedient, and she got her sucker.
As with many aspects of parenting, for me it depends on the attitude of the child and the situation as to whether I will pay for expenses. We are learning as we go, and enjoying all that we are learning together.
What are some things that you consider before paying for expenses? What teaching moments have you had or received from your parents?
This morning was hard to get up. My husband's alarm went off and I woke up to use the bathroom. My body felt sore. I felt the effects of the cookies, bacon, and chocolate covered popcorn, which I ate yesterday. I felt cold as soon as I got out of my bed. I wanted to go back to sleep. I felt gravity pulling me back to my warm bed. I thought of all the work ahead of me today. Except for the bathroom, every room looks like it experienced a tornado. Christmas was a busy day for my family. I visited 3 families, attended two church services, and had a sick child. The house was now a disaster zone. This can also happen financially over the holidays.
Somehow, I found the strength to walk past my bed without getting back into it. Somehow, I meditated and planned my day. This was a HUGE victory for me today. I think it was because Christmas gave me the belief that I can change. Seeing friends and family and feeling loved inspired me to keep trying. Experiencing kindness and generosity inspired me to want to keep moving forward. Even though I overspent, I can recommit. Even though the house is a mess, we can restore order one item and one room at a time. Sometimes we don't feel like waking up financially, but every day is a new day. If we mess up and give in to a purchase we didn't plan on, or miss a budget meeting, we can start again any and every day. In the big picture, it's not really going to matter that I spent a few more hundred dollars than I wanted to spend, as long as I keep trying.
During this holiday, several of my friends and family have told me that they want to get on top of their finances. They want to budget. They want to plan for taxes. They want to invest. These friends and family have asked my advice on budgeting and asked what app or system they should use. Some of them face huge obstacles in doing this, so I don't want to minimize how hard it can be to change financially. I will compare it to my experience with exercising.
I started exercising regularly a couple of months ago. At the gym, I am surrounded with healthy and strong people. I think about what they had to sacrifice to build the muscles that they have. It is a long and gradual process, and it can't be faked or sped up. There is no shortcut. I can't just be stronger because I want to be. For the first time, I have been weight lifting with a bar and weights. I started with just the bar and am adding small amounts. I can't just put a 35 pound weight on the bar and lift it. I have to sacrifice, plan, and build up the strength. I have to commit. On Christmas Eve I went to a hard interval training class. The teacher pushed herself and admitted it was hard, but at the end she encouraged us and played inspiring music that talked about getting back up and try again. I left feeling so inspired to celebrate my victories and keep trying.
There is no magical app that will make me in shape or get my friends to budget. It doesn't really matter what app you use. There are a lot of good tools, but there is no magical app that will force us to be disciplined. However, exercising at the gym helps inspire me. I believe I can get stronger.
Consider this blog to be your financial gym. Come here to believe that you can change, and surround yourself with people who are growing stronger physically and believing that they can improve. Happy New Years. Enjoy the holiday!
It is so easy to go overboard on Christmas. If you have kids, you want everything to be perfect for them. You want to build priceless memories, so spending any amount seems worth it. If you're just getting started, you want to impress your family with how together you have things. Giving extravagant gifts to your family members seems like a great idea ... until you're staring at a huge credit card bill in January.
However it happened, it's important to approach this problem rationally. Constantly blaming yourself won't fix the problem. The important part now is to right yourself financially. You can't take back gifts and return them at this point. You have to deal with the situation that's in front of you.
Fortunately, you're not alone. Wasatch Peaks Credit Union is here to help. Check out these four ways you can patch up your finances and have things right before summer.
It can be very tempting to make only the minimum payments on the credit card you used to buy Christmas. Unfortunately, it's also the best way to ensure you're in debt for all the Christmases from here on out.
Making minimum payments on credit cards prolongs the length of time you're in debt. It also makes the total amount you pay for your debt skyrocket. Making just the minimum payment adds an extra $175 to a $10,000 balance at 21% APR.
What you need is an aggressive debt repayment plan. The question you should be asking yourself isn't, "What's the least I can pay on this debt?" Instead, identify the most you can afford to pay. Wasatch Peaks can help with informative guides and worksheets on household budgeting.
Making an extreme budget is usually not a good choice, but in this case, it's essential until you get yourself out from under that holiday-fueled debt. Make some sacrifices and get ready to tighten your belt for a little while. Yeah, coming up with an extra $35 or $50 a month is tough, but it's the easiest way to get things moving.
If you went overboard on one or two major purchases, like a car for a teen, it may not be credit card debt you need help overcoming. Slick dealers offer crazy-sounding incentives like zero down and zero percent financing on cars to entice people to give cars for Christmas. Unfortunately, once you've signed on the dotted line, you may see you're in for more than you can handle with a car payment.
Wasatch Peaks can help. Our auto and other major purchase loans often feature rates that are better than dealerships. You may need to finance over a longer term to manage the monthly expenses, or you may just need to restructure to pay less now. Either way, you'll find more favorable and flexible terms with us than you will at the dealer.
Does reading those credit card statements fill you with a dizzying sense of despair? Wasatch Peaks can help you make sense of them.
Wasatch Peaks offers debt and budget coaching to help you gain a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities. You can also come up with a realistic plan to pay off your debt and avoid falling into the same trap next year.
Instead of making dozens of minimum payments, wouldn't it be nice to focus your debt into one manageable plan? A debt consolidation loan can do just that. Best of all, it can save you money in the long run by lowering your interest rate and monthly payment commitment. Rather than paying a credit card APR, you can get the lower fixed rate on a personal loan.
Although collateral, or something to secure the loan, can help get you a lower interest rate, it isn't necessary. All you need is some basic personal information and a willing partner, like Wasatch Peaks. Wasatch Peaks offers a variety of Personal Loan programs for emergencies, bill consolidation or other uses. Our loan specialists can help you organize and simplify your payments, working toward a debt-free life.
Feeling buyer's remorse after a big holiday spending spree? Let us know about it in the comments. If you've got a system to stay on budget, help your fellow members and share your wisdom!
We are planning our winter break, which starts next week! Here are a few of our ideas that I hope will help you enjoy your break from school or work without breaking your financial plan.
For the past few years we have gone sledding on New Year’s Day. We gave our kids new sleds or tubes for Christmas. This has been so much fun. We also have given memberships to children’s museums, dinosaur museums, state parks, and national parks that we can use all year long but especially over the break. This year, we are giving them a membership to a local aquarium.
If you have readers, a large book is a great gift for the winter break. My daughter likes making bracelets, so one year we bought her a loom to use to make her bracelets.
One year, we gave our kids a staycation to Midway, and we gave them swimsuits with a certificate to swim in the Homestead Crater. Cameras, dvds, snacks, and clothes could also be given with a trip. I know a family that plans to go to Disneyland, so they could buy Disney themed gifts to use on the trip.
We went to a really neat free aerospace museum over the break. We’ve also gone to special art exhibits. A few years ago, we decided that we don’t need to go far away to go on vacations.
My kids love to play with friends, but life is so busy that they don’t get to play as often as they would like. So, a simple playdate is one of their favorite activities to do over the break. Oftentimes their cousins will visit, and they love sledding or playing with them. One year they made snow cones with real snow. Another time we had hot chocolate and donuts after sledding. This is a great memory. The winter break often gives time to be with family and friends.
I remember cooking a lot over the holiday break. My mom used to make pull apart bread. Ty’s mom’s specialty is cinnamon rolls. Cooking with the family can provide a lot of memories.
Many cities have light displays within an hour of where we live. We love to meet up with friends and see the lights. One year a friend took us to one that we could drive through. Since we had a baby, that was a great one to avoid the cold. We have great memories seeing the lights.
We hope that you have an memorable winter break and holiday and you make memories with your families and friends! What other activities do you like to do over the break?
It’s my turn to host my family for the holidays. How can I entertain the crowd without spending a fortune?
Hosting a holiday meal is one of the stressful parts of any holiday. Sure, it’s great to help everyone get together under one roof as part of a fantastic tradition. On the other, though, feeding many people can put a serious strain on your budget. With holiday gifts to buy, a strain like that really can’t come at a worse time!
Fortunately, it’s possible to be a great host and a great saver at the same time. It’s not easy, but you can put on a great holiday meal without breaking the budget. Try these 3 handy tips to save this year!
If there’s a law written in a personal finance stone tablet, it’s “always make a plan.” It doesn’t need to be detailed, but it should identify your needs for a project and how you intend to meet them. For a meal, that should include both what you intend to put on the table and anything else you need to make your guests comfortable.
Obviously, the earlier you start making your plan, the better off you’ll be. Having a plan in place lets you take advantage of the rotating grocery specials. You can incorporate more seasonal produce, meaning you’ll cook a better tasting and more nutritious meal at a better price. The plan also lets you make a budget for your holiday meal spending while not having to put big shopping trips on credit cards. The memories of a wonderful family meal should stick around for years; a debt to pay for it all should not!
The sheer volume of tasks that go along with hosting a holiday meal can quickly get overwhelming. Beyond the meal, you need to clean and tidy up, decorate, and make sure your house is stocked with essentials, like hand soap and toilet paper. Even listing all the steps involved can get exhausting!
That’s why it’s important to recognize the tasks that need your individual attention and separate them from the tasks that can be done by someone else. While you may be doing most of the cooking, outsource the meal planning to a family member. Give them the guest list and ask them to help you come up with recipes that will satisfy the crowd. You can also get kids involved in making and placing decorations, which may help get them in the holiday spirit as well. While it’s likely too imposing to ask guests to bring toiletries as part of a potluck, you may be able to fold that shopping into your ordinary shopping and avoid extra last-minute trips.
By delegating responsibilities, you make the task of putting together a wonderful time more manageable. This decreases the temptation to find a quick, easy and potentially expensive, solution at the last minute. Budgets tend to explode most often when there’s a serious time or energy crunch. Avoid that crunch by getting help wherever you can.
While everyone loves a nice holiday roast, cuts of beef big enough to serve an entire family can easily cost $200 or more. Instead, look for seasonal specialties, like spiral cut ham. You can also get good prices on turkey breast or whole chicken, both of which can easily feed an army without draining your checking account. If you have the time, slow-cooking cheap cuts of pork (belly or shoulder) can make ham or bacon that’s tastier than what you get at the supermarket, but for a lower price. It will cure in the fridge for several days, and then needs to be cooked. A smoker is best for this process, but a standard grill can work in a pinch.
You can use the same home cooking ingenuity to save on side dishes. One of the best ways to feed lots of people without breaking the bank is to use root vegetables, which are cheap and filling. Rubbing parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes or carrots with salt and pepper before throwing them in the oven for 40 minutes on medium heat can turn ordinary produce into delicious sides. Serve these instead of more expensive, less nutritious, canned or frozen vegetables.
Finally, don’t forget to substitute other people’s cooking for your own. Guests like to feel included in the preparation process. Ask your guests to bring desserts or sides, while you focus on getting your main dishes ready. This will save you both time and money.
Don’t forget that the best things about the holiday are free. Time spent with friends and family, telling stories and making memories, is more important than how much food you put on the table. Your guests will remember the shared experience of the holidays more than what was on their plates, so focus on being gracious and calm while making your guests feel welcome.
What’s your best holiday budget survival tip? Do you have any go-to tips or tricks that saves on costs? Let us know how you host with the most (without spending the most) in the comments!
Last year, Wasatch Peaks Credit Union donated 567 pairs of new Nike® shoes to school children from eight local elementary schools in Weber County as part of their annual “Warm the Soles” fundraising campaign. Thanks to the generosity of members like you, $15,833.00 was raised for this excellent and very worthy cause. Local children in need were given a gift-wrapped pair of Nike® athletic shoes and a little stocking filled with candy. Wasatch Peaks Credit Union is looking forward warming the soles of local kids this holiday season!
Any contribution you can make will warm the soles of children in our local community whether it’s $5, $10, $30 or more! There are many ways to give:
Wasatch Peaks is honored to sponsor this premier annual, holiday kick-off event in Ogden. Since 1980, Christmas Tree Jubilee has raised millions of dollars to support children in Weber County, particularly those with special needs. Please join us...
November 24–28, 2014
David Eccles Conference Center, Ogden
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED:
For more information about this wonderful event visit wsdjubilee.com.