Family Finances

I was inspired recently by a post at Life and My Finances. Derek bought his wife a new (adorable!) puppy, and he shares how this new family member will fit into his financial goals. Of course, he realizes that puppies are not cheap, but Derek knows that they can bring invaluable joy to his family. Derek’s post lead me to think about all the costs involved in raising a puppy, and I have to tell you, there are quite a few. Let’s look at puppy-raising costs through my experience raising a Great Dane.

One of my favorite Christmas songs of all time is "The Twelve Pains of Christmas." Yes, you read that right. It's a parody song in which different singers lament things at Christmas that are a pain to them, such as rigging up the lights and trying to find a parking space. It's actually a pretty funny take on everyday life around the holidays.

When times are tough and money’s tight, decorating your home may be put on the back burner. But if you’re anything like me, not decorating your home may drive you up your un-painted walls. I mean, really, the beauty that exists in your home can be a catalyst for creativity, peace and calm. So what do you do if you want to decorate but have a limited budget? Let’s take a look at a few ways to stretch the dollar while beautifying your home, including painting, purchasing on the cheap and using some tried-and-true decorating tips.

Paint It!

I have to tell you, even though my girls are only in kindergarten, I am coming to love the school uniform. So far, it has been time-saving and even decision-saving to have that kind of a boundary on what my girls can put on before heading to class. Though school uniforms vary greatly from school to school, families can still outfit their kids in those nifty polos and khakis without feeling like they're paying another full tuition. Here are some tips to get you started on saving moolah on school uniforms.

A Uniform Exchange

If you would've asked the pre-kid me where my offspring would attend school, I wouldn't have hesitated to say, "Well, the public school. Where else?" Fast forward to five years later. My twins, having successfully completed two years of preschool, were ready to go to kindergarten, even if the hubby and I were not. After discussion and visiting some local schools near the tail-end of our daughters' pre-k career, we decided to send our girls to a private school. If you knew our budget and income, you'd probably be snickering by now and wondering how we could manage that.

Budgeting can sound intimidating. It may seem impossible to keep track of cash, debts, paychecks, bills and savings to those new to the finance world, but actually, budgeting is not as difficult as it appears. A few rather simple tips can keep a person on the straight and narrow to financial freedom. Let's look at the basic budget.

What is a Budget?

Ah, yes, summer is fast approaching. For my part of Western New York, this means two things: tons of roadwork and a festival/carnival/fair pretty much every weekend. You'd be hard-pressed to find a pair of kids who love fairs and their accompanying midway rides any more than my two. And a few years ago, when their ride-obsession started, you'd be just as hard-pressed to find a family wallet flatter than ours.

Every Christmas, my father-in-law dumped out his spare change drawer and gave the cash to my husband and me. Generally, his simple spare change savings tactic amounted to a very generous $200 gift to us. And that’s just from one farmer’s change.

Now imagine if you and your family were to do the same; every time you spent money, you saved the change. Perhaps you put it into a large mason jar or (if you had a really good year) into a five quart ice cream pail. How much do you think that change would amount to at the end of the year?

Doing the Math

Investing is a journey. There is an end goal, but there are a lot of steps along the way. If you’re just starting to invest or are contemplating the big jump into the investment pool, consider thinking of your goals in qualitative rather than quantitative terms – just like you must when you train horses. Let’s look at how two seemingly different concepts can be surprisingly similar.

Horse Training as an Example

Earlier in our Relationships and Finance series, we touched on “How to Help Your Spouse See You as a Financial Equal.” In the post, we discussed education, discussion, timely communication and planning as ways to open your financial plan to a joint venture. We laid out the basics and promised to come back to each idea more in depth, and today, we are going to take a look at education as a means to developing a better financial relationship with your spouse.