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Saving Money in the Summer

June 27, 2022

Image From: chrisbrignell from Getty Images/Canva Pro

Article By: Kelly Kirk-Xu & Emily Stevens

Do you struggle with saving money once the weather warms up and the kids are out of school? Trust me when I say this- you are not alone in that struggle. That is why Walter the Vault has developed three tips and tricks to help you save some money this summer!

Save on Your Electricity Bills

It can be tempting to sit in the cool AC, streaming your favorite TV show, and blasting a cooling fan in your face during the hot summer months. However, this can certainly run those electricity bills through the roof.

Take small steps to reduce your electricity use, like turning the air conditioning up a few degrees (or using no air conditioner at all, just open the windows and let Mother Nature be your fan!).  You can also opt to air dry your clothes in the warm sunshine rather than using the dryer, this can save you a decent amount of money this summer!

Find Free Fun in Your Area

Just because you and your kids want to fill your summer days with exciting activities doesn’t mean you have to break the bank on summer fun. There are tons of activities you can enjoy for cheap or free in your area, like:

  • Taking a hike
  • Hanging out at the park
  • Taking a swim at the beach, a lake, or the community pool
  • Joining in on community fun
  • And so much more!

Travel on a Budget

Your summer vacation doesn’t have to leave you in a pile of debt! Do your research before you travel to find the best deals on your hotels, flights, and more. A few other tips for saving some money on your summer vacation include:

  • Responsibly using credit cards that offer cashback or rewards for traveling
  • Finding accommodations with complimentary breakfast
  • Buying a few groceries, so you don’t have to eat out for every meal
  • Finding fun and free activities to do at your travel destination

Making your kids’ summer vacation one to remember doesn’t have to break the bank! Use these tips to have a fun, budget-friendly summer and create happy, stress-free memories with the whole family!


Building a Budgeting and Shopping Routine

June 20, 2022

Image From: zimmytws from Getty Images/Canva Pro

Article By: Kelly Kirk-Xu & Emily Stevens

There are quite a few little pieces to the financial literacy puzzle. One of these complex pieces is budgeting. Budgeting is not a skill that comes naturally for any of us. It takes some time and (let’s face it) a few mistakes before you can fully hone your skills.

Budgeting is definitely worth the effort, though. The whole point of a budget is to organize your finances, so you aren’t overspending. A budget helps you and your family understand how much money you have coming in and how much money you have going out.

Budgets will help you and your family make more mindful decisions on what you are spending your money on and how much of your money you are willing to pay in certain areas. It also allows you to set money goals and build a plan to achieve them.

So, how do you even begin to build a family budgeting routine? Walter the Vault is here to help you create a budgeting routine that works the best for you and your family.

  1. Pick a time the whole family is available to sit down for a discussion. Getting the kids involved is a great learning experience that will help them hone their budgeting skills!
  2. Take a peek at last month’s expenses. You can write them out, add them up, and compare them to the previous month’s earnings!
  3. Talk about your family money goals. How much do you want to be putting away for your children? Do you have any big purchases you’ve been dreaming about? Writing down these goals with a set number will help you create a clear plan to achieve them!
  4. Create your budget! Now that you have seen the things you are spending your money on, you can make informed decisions about which areas you can and cannot cut back.
  5. Plan your shopping lists. After creating your budget, you know how much money you have available for shopping. Having a plan will help you stay under budget, whether you’re shopping for groceries, clothes, or household items.

Budgeting and shopping are some critical pieces in the financial literacy puzzle. And, as the saying goes: “Practice makes perfect.” Getting your kids started with building good budgeting and shopping habits today will help them in the money mastery journey!  


Chores

June 13, 2022

Image From: spangles from Getty Images/Canva Pro

Article By: Kelly Kirk-Xu & Emily Stevens

We’ve all dreaded our household chores at one point or another. Alas, they are a necessary evil to keep our homes livable and our items in good shape. Of course, the adults will be doing chores, but many parents are conflicted about whether they should rope their children into doing chores, too. If you feel conflicted about introducing chores into your child’s daily routine, Walter the Vault is here to give you three reasons they could be a great addition to your child’s life.

 They Help Your Child Learn Important Life Skills

Once your little one is not so little anymore, they will have to start taking care of themselves. (Have you heard about the kids who go off to college without and knowledge of how to make their beds or do laundry – the struggle is real!)  Chores are an essential part of self-care in adulthood. This is why learning how to do them properly from an early age can be so beneficial for your child! Chores are an excellent opportunity to help your child learn essential life skills like cooking, cleaning, and managing their finances.

They Encourage Independence and Confidence

As your little one develops the critical life skills that chores teach, they will create a sense of responsibility and confidence in themselves. This sense of responsibility and self-confidence will encourage your child to develop their problem-solving skills. Chores are a great way to gently foster independence in your little ones, giving them the self-assurance necessary to properly take care of themselves when the time comes for them to spread their wings.

They Can Be a Great Chance to Bond

Let’s be honest here; anything is more fun when you do it with someone you love. Cooking together, folding the clothes, or washing the dishes can be an excellent opportunity to take a moment to truly be with your little one. You can make the experience more fun as the two of you learn, laugh, and take care of your home together.  With a positive attitude, you may even look forward to spending this time together and organizing your home.  

A huge part of becoming a money master is taking care of the things you spend your money on. Chores are an essential part of doing this. They don’t always have to be a piece of your day you dread, though. Make it fun for both yourself and your mini-me. Chores are a great chance to create memories and take care of the place you call home.


Summer Jobs for Kids

June 6, 2022

Image From: 3bugsmom from Getty Images Signature/Canva Pro

Article By: Kelly Kirk-Xu & Emily Stevens

Summer jobs are a great way to keep your kid busy this summer while also giving them the chance to learn important life skills they will carry for the rest of their lives, like responsibility, professional skills, and financial literacy! 

A few popular summer job ideas for your kids include:

Babysitting

Babysitting is an excellent opportunity for young teenagers to make some extra money. To help your child build confidence in their babysitting skills, you can help them find babysitting courses online or in your community.  Sometimes, if your child is not fully comfortable being a babysitter on their own, they can start off as a “parents helper”.  This way, the parent is still at home, and your child can work as a “kid entertainer”.  They will keep the kids busy while the parent can get work done.  Once they’re confident with this, they can graduate to being a babysitter on their own.

Online Entrepreneurship

If your child has a hobby they are passionate about, like graphic design, crafting, or writing, there are tons of online opportunities to sell their goods or services. Just make sure they have been taught about online safety, and they will be ready to earn some money from the comfort of home.

Dog Walking

Is your child a true animal-lover? Then dog-walking can be a super fun summer job for them! Dogs need to get outside every day to stretch their legs and release their spurts of energy. Plus, dogs often benefit from being trained to do things like “sit”, “stay”, and “roll over”.  However, some owners may not have the time to give them the chance to do this, presenting the perfect money-making opportunity for your little entrepreneur.  Let your kid make flyers, boasting their skills and availability.  Or, you can help them spread the word to your friends in the neighborhood.

Lifeguarding

Does your teenager love spending time soaking up the sunshine in the pool? Then lifeguarding may be just the job for them! Lifeguarding also teaches your child valuable skills, like CPR, as they are required to pass a lifeguard course before beginning work.

Lawn Mowing and Other Yard Work

The summer months are a great time to spend your days outside and soak up that sunshine. What better way for your child to spend their days than doing some work outside?  Oftentimes, homeowners have a long list of outdoor chores to get done.  Just asking your neighbors, “Hey, do you need some help” may be all it takes to get a job and start making money.

Summer jobs are a great way to keep your kid busy this summer while teaching them life skills that will stick around for years to come!


How Young is too Young to Get a Job?

May 30, 2022

Image From: PR Image Factory/Canva Pro

Article By: Kelly Kirk-Xu & Emily Stevens

Every parent has faced the dilemma between teaching their children about responsibility and making sure they embrace their childhood while it lasts. Of course, federally, children under the age of 14 are considered ineligible for employment. Even then, children under the age of 16 who are working have strict limits on the hours they are allowed to work.

However, just because a child is of age to get a job does not necessarily mean their parents are ready to send them headfirst into the workforce. Many parents would prefer their child focus on school, extracurricular activities, and embracing their youth.

It is hard to deny the benefits that can come with a job, though. When a child works for the money they spend, they will develop a more profound sense of the value of a dollar that will benefit them in adulthood.

Every child’s availability will differ depending on their extracurriculars, class difficulties, and numerous other factors. However, working before adulthood can offer a multitude of benefits to your growing child, including:

  • Motivating them to learn money management skills.
  • Teaching valuable life skills.
  • Instilling a sense of independence and responsibility.
  • Encourages them to advocate for themselves

There is no universally perfect age for beginning to work. So how can you tell when your child is ready for a job? A few signs include:

  • They are federally of age
  • They have the availability
  • They have developed practical time management skills
  • They are craving a chance at independence
  • They have built resilience

While your child doesn’t have to fully develop all of these skills, seeing the start of these skills being built can be a great sign that your child is ready to get a job. The great part is that working for their own money will only strengthen these skills!


Buying vs. Renting

May 23, 2022

Image From: Mitskavets/Canva Pro

Article By: Kelly Kirk-Xu & Emily Stevens

“Home” can look different for everybody. Some people call a cabin in the woods home. Others call an apartment in the suburbs home. Some people live in transportable homes, while others have considered the same place home for generations. Want to know one of the most significant considerations one must make when looking for their next place to call home? That would be buying vs. renting.

Both buying a home and renting one out have a long list of pros and cons to offer. Walter the Vault is here to list a few to help you teach your child how to make an informed decision in their home-seeking process.  It’s good to talk with your kids about “why” you’re making your choices.  They will learn skills from your strategies and reasoning.

Buying

Buying can be an excellent option for some people seeking more control over their home decisions. Homeowners have more freedom in what you can do in a home you own than renters, like owning pets and decorating it as you please. 

One of the greatest things about buying a home is that it is an investment that you can make work for you in the future if appropriately handled, offering tax benefits and a wealth of other great financial advantages.

This doesn’t mean that buying a home comes without its cons, though. Homeowners still have a list of issues to consider when buying. Home maintenance becomes your responsibility as a homeowner, which can certainly add up. This isn’t all that cost more than renting, though. As a homeowner, you will also have to pay property taxes, and mortgage rates may be higher than renting rates in certain areas. Buying a home is a great option for people looking to settle down but maybe a disadvantage for those who aren’t quite done roaming.

Renting

Renting a house can be convenient for those who are not in a place of their lives to settle in one area just yet. If you don’t intend to stay in your city for long, renting may be the best option for you. That is because rentals can be month-to-month, quarterly, or yearly depending on your landlord. You won’t be responsible for repairs or property taxes, although you will undoubtedly have fewer freedoms with things like owning pets and decorating.

Deciding whether to rent or buy can be deeply personal, and each one can come with different pros and cons for different people. There is no correct answer to which is best, just an answer that feels right to you.


Summer Money Challenges for Kids

May 16, 2022

Image From: Weekend Images Inc from Getty Images Signature/Canva Pro

Article By: Kelly Kirk-Xu & Emily Stevens

Ah, summer- the most beautiful time of the year. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the kids are out of school. While summer is a fun and exciting opportunity for the whole family to spend some extra time together, it can become overwhelming trying to think of new ways to keep your kids entertained.

What better way to keep them entertained than to teach your kids some new financial literacy skills? Few states require schools to teach financial literacy, leaving many kids entering the adult world clueless about handling their money.

If you would like to introduce some money mastering skills to your kids this summer, Walter the Vault has two fun challenges for you!

Creating a Summer Budget

There is nothing more satisfying than reaching a goal, am I right? Here is a challenge for you and your kid. Sit down together and think of a realistic money-saving goal (reaching this goal will be even more appealing if you are saving up for something in particular). Write up a budget together. In this budget, you can include your child’s weekly earnings through chores, allowances, and other money-making opportunities they pursue and how much they can spend each week while still being able to reach the end goal!

A Penny A Day Challenge

This challenge is a great way to instill money-saving habits into your child. It can go through the summer or continue all year round. Encourage your child to put a penny on the first day, two on the second, three on the third, and so on. By the end of the year, your child will have their saving habits off to a great start. This is also a fun way to teach them about compound interest! To keep track of the challenge, you can create a chart or search for a free one online to print and mark off each day!

Summer Money Making

Ask your kids to make a list of their skills & interests… then have them think about which of those items could make their money.  Encourage your kids to try out a business of their own.  Become entrepreneurs!  They can try out running a popular business like a garage sale or lemonade stand.  They’ll see that it’s actually quite tough to make money – but it’s very rewarding as well.  Plus, you can ask them to brainstorm why they want to make money, and what they plan to spend their money on.

Summer money challenges don’t have to be extravagant to teach your child money mastering habits! These are just a few challenges to get your child’s summer money challenge started!


Turning Negative Thoughts Toward Money, Positive

May 9, 2022

Image From: globalmoments from Getty Images/Canva Pro

Article By: Kelly Kirk-Xu & Emily Stevens

Do thoughts about money leave you feeling anxious, irritable, or overwhelmed? Sometimes, our childhood or even young adulthood can impact our entire outlook on money, leaving us with a bad taste in our mouth when it comes to anything dealing with finances.  The bad taste can also make us less likely to face our money problems.  We may avoid them, since it’s such a horrible topic to think about… which can lead to even more problems!  

When you have a negative relationship with money, it can be difficult to teach your child healthy money habits. No worries! Walt the Vault is here to help you turn those negative thoughts positive.  A wise person once said, “if you are prepared, you don’t have to be scared”.  So prepare yourself and your family with money skills that will last a lifetime.

Keep a Journal

One of the first steps to turning negative thoughts positive is to build self-awareness around them. Keeping a journal is a great way to observe your thoughts and figure out ways to turn them around. It can also be a great way of keeping track of your relationship with money. In a journal, you can keep track of your emotions and thoughts about money, the way you have felt about it in the past compared to today, and your money goals for the future.

Begin with Short-Term, Easily Achievable Money Goals

Starting with easily achievable goals and gradually making them more difficult is a great way to build your confidence in money. Write down a small money goal and allow yourself to bask in the glory of achieving it.  It sometimes may even make sense to break that small goal into even smaller goals.  Get your goal to a place where you’re comfortable taking the first step – then start from there!  Build up the momentum and make your dreams come true.

Know Your Long-Term Money Goals

When you have long-term money goals to work toward, it can help you create smaller plans that will get you closer to your ultimate end goal! As you take each step closer to achieving your greatest money dreams, allow yourself to celebrate and watch as your relationship with money takes a turn for the positive.  Your end goal may end up changing along the way (which is totally fine!) What’s most important is to just get started down the right path.

Talk to a Therapist

Sometimes, our money issues go much deeper than anything we can work through ourselves. There is no shame in seeking the help of a professional to build a healthier, more positive relationship with money!


Teaching Your Kids About Setting Realistic Expectations

May 2, 2022

Image From: Markus Spiske temporausch/Canva Pro

Article By: Kelly Kirk-Xu & Emily Stevens

As your child is still working on getting a grip on the value of money, they may have expectations for your wallet that are far too difficult to meet. Have you found that your child expects the newest and coolest toy they can see every time you make a grocery run? Does your teenager expect weekly mall trips to make sure they can keep up with the latest trends in school?

Sometimes, our children can build a habit of expecting our money to stretch as far as they wish it to, which can quickly become a problem. Whether your child is younger or older, it is always a great time to teach them about setting realistic expectations for money.

You can teach your child how to set realistic expectations through just a few pieces of advice. Walter the Vault is here to help you do just that.

Be Open About Finances

When you sit down to plan your family budget, you may benefit from including your kids in the discussion. Let them know how much money you have, where it is going, and how much is available to spend on fun things without breaking the bank. They may be very surprised to hear about how quickly money can be spent.  They will likely have a better understanding of your reasonings – and why you can’t buy everything on your “wants” list.  This is a great way to teach your kids about the value of each thing they purchase, helping them be more mindful when it comes to the things they buy.

Let Them Make Their Own Money Decisions

We all learn best from experience. This is why giving your kids their own money to manage may be a great way to teach them about setting realistic expectations for what they can and cannot afford.  Plus, when they spend THEIR money (versus YOURS) they may realize that the random toy they *sorta-kinda* wanted may not be worth it after all.

Know That it is Okay to Say No

Setting boundaries with your child around spending habits can help them learn how to realistically manage their expectations of money. While I know that you don’t want to be the cause of turning that adorable smile upside down, setting boundaries can be a great learning experience for your child that will benefit them in the long run!  The alternative would be saying “yes” to everything, which is extremely unrealistic for their experience outside of your home.  It’s good for kids to learn what it is like to hear “no” and learn to work for themselves to get things they really want.  


Planning for Retirement from a Young Age

April 25, 2022

Image From: Wavetop from Getty Images/Canva Pro

Article By: Kelly Kirk-Xu & Emily Stevens

I know what you’re thinking- how could I even begin to think about my child’s retirement options when I’m not even retired? While it may make you feel a bit older than you are ready to feel, it is never too early to plan for your child’s future. Yes, from the moment your kid gets their first job – they’re qualified to open tax-friendly accounts that help them save for retirement.  The younger a person starts planning for retirement, the larger their head-start on retirement savings will be.  

If your child has worked a summer job or landed some money-earning gigs like babysitting, they may be eligible to open a Roth IRA.  

A Roth I.R.A. is an account that can allow your child to grow their investments tax-free.

To open a Roth I.R.A., your child will have to have a parent or guardian’s permission and acceptance of responsibility. By this, I mean you, as their parent, will have to agree to manage and open the custodial account for them until they are 18 years of age.

While it may be a little challenging to get your child to wrap their head around saving up their hard-earned cash for the future, they don’t have to be the only ones contributing. Since you will also have access to the account, you will have the perfect opportunity to contribute to your child’s future yourself!  Additionally, you can help them look at charts and fun bar graphs to see how their money can grow.  Start researching the cost of things they may want to buy in the future (a car, house, college tuition, fun holidays) and show them how possible their desires will be if they make small sacrifices now.  

Teaching kids about compound interest is one of the coolest things you can do, too.  Ask a kid if they’d rather take a job for a month, making $100/day OR making $10/day to start, but doubling each day.  Once they’ve given you an answer, work out what the monthly total will be… and you’ll see – they’ll be blown away by the power of compound interest.  You can then do some research together about how to start investing and get compound interest working for you!

Every penny counts when starting investments early, so no amount is really too small to contribute. You can match what your child contributes, double it, or just contribute when you have some extra cash if you decide to do so!

Research your child’s retirement planning options with them. Different options will have different account minimums and fees. Choose the option that works best for you and your teenager and sit back as your money master builds wealth for their future. 


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