Teens and Money – Transitioning from Childhood to Adulthood Finances

Several years ago, I wrote a post about how we handle money with our children.  I spelled out our philosophy on allowances, paying for chores, and what jobs our children could do for extra pay.  At the time, our oldest was 13, and while the principles have stayed the same, the practice has change a bit now that he is advancing quickly toward adulthood.  I thought it might be a good time to offer a new perspective on money as it concerns the teenagers in our home.

(You can read that original post HERE.)

Learn how to make the transition from childhood finances to adulthood with your teen | RaisingArrows.net

Teens and Allowances

I mentioned in my Children and Chores post that we do not pay for chores and we do not give our children an allowance.  This continues into their teens.  The principle behind this is the fact that in adulthood, there are responsibilities a person has toward the upkeep and running of a household that is not a paid job.  Our goal is to teach our children to take care of those responsibilities without needing to be paid or praised for them.  It is simply something that is expected.  Our society no longer places value on a job well done for the sake of doing a job well done.  Too many people expect accolades for their effort, and too many people feel a responsibility that lacks excitement and financial gain isn’t worth their time.  I do not want my children to follow this tide.

I also want to add that I do understand the reasoning behind giving teens an allowance in order to teach money management; however, I do not believe unearned money is the best way to do this.  When the money is simply handed to you, you have no real connection to that money, so the concept of money management doesn’t have the impact it has when it is money earned by the teen.  But, how do they earn money if not by allowance?

Teens and Income Within the Family

Way teens can earn money, as well as money management tips as they move into adulthood | RaisingArrows.net

As I mentioned in the previous post on this topic, we pay for jobs that are “above and beyond” the expected.  For instance, we do not pay for babysitting when one of us needs to run to the store, but we will pay for babysitting if we need to be gone for several hours.  This is something we would have to pay someone else to do if it weren’t done by our teenagers.  Same goes for detailing the vehicle or major handyman jobs.

We also allow grandparents to pay a fair wage when the children go to help with a big project.  We encourage our children to serve their extended family, but we also know that the grandparents would rather pay our children than have to hire the work done outside the family.

Because this money is earned, it is more useful for teaching money management.  More on that in a moment…

Teens & Jobs Outside the Home

Many teenagers like to get jobs outside the home to have some spending money of their own.  There area two sides to this coin that need to be considered carefully before diving headlong into an outside job.

On one side, a job teaches responsibility to someone other than a parent, as well as teaching time management.  Both of these are very valuable lessons.

On the flip side, is the fact that an outside job (unless it is very flexible) has the tendency to separate the family and create a lot of scheduling chaos.  In the last city we lived in, our son had a very flexible job as a trapper at a sporting clays lodge.  This allowed us to take family vacations, work around his schooling, and not be beholden to his job.  Since the move, we have encouraged him to wait on taking a job, and not take just any job.  While we do not want to teach him that certain jobs are “beneath him” or that it is better to do nothing than take a job that isn’t “perfect”, we also know he has the rest of his life to work, and only another year or so to be fully a part of all family activities.  Because of this, we have been praying for another flexible job that would give him some outside money while allowing him to participate in family activities.  (He already has something in the works, but I don’t want to jump the gun telling you about it until we see how it pans out. 😉 )

Another thing we encourage when it comes to working an outside job, is looking for a job that will teach or further a skill.  While flipping hamburgers is definitely a job that will make your teen some spending cash, it is not always a job that will teach him or her a needed skill or hone a skill they already possess.  A good example of this is the sporting clays job.  While Blake has no desire to spend his life throwing skeet, he would like to own his own business some day.  The lodge he worked at was owned by a family who were more than willing to teach him the ins and outs of owning a business.  He was also exposed to all the people with varying careers who came to shoot.  In between stands, he was able to chit chat with them, exchange business cards (we highly recommend your teen considers having business cards made up for networking purposes), and learn more about their vocation and businesses.  He always came home from work with great information and stories.

Teens & Money Management

How you choose to teach money management is a matter of personal preference.  My son decided to use the 80-10-10 method (80% spending, 10% savings, 10% tithe) for his finances, but more often than not, he ends up putting even more into savings.

When I was a teen, I used mason jars to separate out my money.  I had 4 jars:

  • 1 – Savings
  • 2 – Miscellaneous Spending
  • 3 – Tithe
  • 4 – Specific Savings (This is how I saved up money to have my pickup windows tinted.)

You can use the envelope method.  You can actually open checking and savings accounts in your teen’s name.  You can even do some investing if you so choose.

Speaking of investing – if your son or daughter has a talent or skill that has the potential to be an income generator, consider investing in their “business” the way you would invest in a college fund.  For instance, our daughter is a budding photographer.  She’s good at what she does and she’s serious about it.  Because of this, we’ve chosen to help purchase photography supplies and lenses, and helped her start up a more professional website.  (We usually offer half the money she needs for something.)

We also invest in our children by sometimes “paying” them in other ways.  For instance, our daughter chose several years ago to sponsor a Compassion Child.  The photography work she does on this blog and for our family pays for that sponsorship.  Likewise, we have compensated our son for major jobs by paying his way to an event he’s really wanting to participate in that would be money out of his pocket otherwise (like TeenPact National Convention or pheasant hunting in South Dakota).

Compensate your teens for major jobs by paying their way to events and outings they are interested in, but would have to pay out of pocket for. | RaisingArrows.net

Items we regularly require our teenagers to pay include, but are not limited to, the following:

Travel expenses to events they want to go to – this teaches them not to take transportation and food for granted, and not to order the steak when the hamburger will do.

Extra tools and clothing for their job –  A pair of gloves, a pair of jeans, a pair of boots – these are things we are willing to fund fully, or at least half, but extra items that are wants and not needs are paid for by our teen.  For instance, when he worked at the shooting lodge, he decided he’d like to have a pick stick to pick up shotgun shells several at a time.  He found the one he wanted and purchased it with his own money.

This would also be our policy if our children played sports.  We will pay for the basics, they are in charge of anything extra – including an upgrade on shoes from the very basic of models.

“Toys” & Entertainment – Even big kids have toys, and those toys (unless they are gifts for birthdays or Christmas) are not funded by mom and dad.  My son airsofts.  Your child may like video games or sports or certain collectibles.  As adults, we are expected to fund our own entertainment.  The sooner a teenager learns that, the better off they will be.  They won’t grow to expect others to carry the responsibility of paying for their unnecessary items.

This brings me to the final point of this post.  Our teens are expected to be responsible with their money and their time.  As they age, they are given more and more privileges, leeway, and choices.  About 6 months ago, we gave our son nearly total control of his finances.  This past week, we gave him nearly total control of his schedule.  He is a man.  He’s proven this time and again, so it was time for us to let go.  As long as he lives under our roof, we have some control over his finances and time, but that control is nominal.  We are here to lend advice and ideas as needed, but we are transitioning away from planning every aspect of his life and into a new season where he plans his present and prepares for his future.

How do you handle money with your children – especially your teens?  Have you found the transition to be difficult?  What are your goals when it comes to teaching your children money management?  Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section!

Making Lunch Easy

It only took me 12 years of homeschooling and 9 kids to figure out how to make lunch easy.

Gah!  Why did I wait so long?

I finally figured out how to make lunch easy! | RaisingArrows.net

To be completely honest with you, what finally forced me to simplify our lunches was this new job/new house/new baby thing that all took place right around the holidays.  We did just about every major life change all in a matter of 6 weeks!  Go big or go home!

I was really struggling after Aspen’s birth (that’s another post) and needed to make life as simple as I could until I was back on my feet and fully present.  I made a list of all the things that were causing me stress, and one weekend I took some time away to pray and work through as many things on that list as I could.

Lunch was on that list, and the solution came in the form of 3 S’s:

Soup ~ Salad ~ Sandwiches

Make Lunch Easy with the 3's - Soup, Salad, Sandwiches | RaisingArrows.net

Soup

Last week, I told you about our Kitchen Sink Soup.  This is our go-to soup.  We make it a couple of times a week to finish off any random leftovers in the refrigerator.  I don’t really plan any soups besides this one.  When I originally made the 3S Plan, I was going to add in some “original” soups as well, but implementing that proved to be more work than I cared to do.

I try to keep a loaf of bread on hand to go with our soup.  I prefer it to be homemade, but will often grab some sort of specialty loaf from Aldi just in case I don’t get around to making something.  Sourdough or French bread are favorites here, as well as our homemade whole wheat buns.

Salad

Before I had Aspen, I ate salad almost every day for lunch, but rarely had the kids eat it.  Now, if I’m eating it, so are they!  The two salads we make most often are Taco Salad and Chicken Fajita Salad.  For the Fajita Salad, I buy chicken fajita strips at Aldi in the freezer case, warm them up and throw them in with salad greens and cheese.  Corn chips add filler to both of these salads.

Sandwiches

Because I need things to be as simple as possible, I purchase a couple of loaves of bread a week and keep sliced cheese and deli meat, peanut butter and jelly on hand at all times (although, I’ve never eaten a peanut butter & jelly sandwich myself, most of my kids like it).  If we have homemade bread, great, but if not, I know we can still throw together sandwiches with the store-bought loaves.  We will have the occasional deviation from these two types of sandwiches with something like my son’s fried egg sandwiches or my daughter’s grilled cheese or bagel sandwiches, but that is fairly rare.

This plan makes shopping for lunches super simple too!  My weekly list will always have these things on it:

Chicken broth
Shredded Cheese
Salad greens
Fajita Chicken
Chili Beans
Corn Chips
Peanut Butter
Jelly
Deli Meat & Cheese
Bread

I keep us stocked with those items so I always have what I need to make lunch easy!

**Huge sigh of relief!**

How have you simplified lunch at your house?  Or maybe you’ve learned to simplify another meal.  I’d love to hear your ideas!

When Your Meal Plan Falls Apart

When Your Meal Plan Falls Apart {how to get back on track} | RaisingArrows.net

My menu plan pretty much crashed and burned the past few months.  We moved, and I lost my groove.

I told you several months ago how a solid menu plan is the backbone of your day. Well, let me tell you, having mine fall apart made this beyond clear! Without this “backbone”, I had one seriously loosey-goosey day, that turned into a week, that turned into a month plus!  It was a mess!

Sadly, this isn’t the first time my menu plan has fallen apart.  Every time we have some major life event, it seems my menu plan is the first thing to take a nosedive.  However, I’ve learned a few tricks for getting things back on track quickly, and today, I’d like to share those with you (cuz I’m guessing I’m not the only one with a messy meal plan. 😉 )

The first thing I did was go back to a pantry list.  I already had an old one on hand from my Once a Month Shopping series.  I had to do some revamping to make it fit our current eating habits, but that didn’t take much.

Simplified DinnersSimplified Dinners is an ebook that operates off this same principle, only it takes it a step further and gives you a pantry full of foods that will make many different meals all from the same list.  All the recipes and instructions and lists are included in the book, making it a no-brainer (precisely what you need when your meal plan has fallen through, eh?)  Working from a pantry list is one of the quickest ways to get back on track without needing to think too much.  It bought me time I needed to keep working on unpacking the house and getting back in a routine.

A couple of weeks later, I had more time to think through meals, so I pulled out my planner pages and my little red index box full of tried and true recipes.  Everyone needs the equivalent of my red index box.  You should KNOW what meals are family favorites.  You should KNOW what your family will and will not eat and how often they will eat it.  These are your GO-TO meals.  Pulling from tried and true meals to create a meal plan takes a little more energy than a static pantry list where you just cook from whatever you have on hand, but it would be beneficial to eventually create a pantry list around your tried and true meals.  (When your meal plan has fallen apart may not be that time, though.)

I’ll be honest, during this time, Pinterest was calling my name.  It wanted me to come and try NEW recipes, but when you’ve fallen off track as badly as I had, experimenting from Pinterest is NOT the answer.  I needed to get back to business first…then, get creative.

It wasn’t too long before I was back to my regular menu planning, pulling from several different resources and being much more creative!  I have found that one of the fastest ways to get me back in the meal planning mood (because let’s face it, you HAVE to be in the mood), is to find inspiration from others.  Looking through websites, cookbooks, and ebooks are a great way to find your inspiration to jump back into meal planning.

 

This past week, I decided to start being even more proactive with my meal plan.  I decided to make a 4 week rotating schedule with grocery lists on the back to keep on hand for times when my menu plan falls apart.  This coupled with a solid pantry list should help to keep everyone in the house on track and eating well!

Planning Precooked Meals & Easy Menus For Others

Planning Precooked Meals and Easy Menus for Others | RaisingArrows.net

Last weekend, Ty and I and Creed attended a homeschool conference and left the other children in the care of Ty’s mom.  We were gone 2 nights and 2 days, and I wanted to make it as easy on Grammy as possible.

Now I need to disclose something here.  Being this organized for others is pretty new to me.  I struggle terribly when it comes to planning ahead, but I was recently inspired by another mom of many who planned and prepared a whole week’s worth of menus, of which I reaped the benefits.  I considered the plan she put in place and realized it wasn’t as difficult as I believed it to be.  So, this past weekend, I decided to try my hand at it, and boy, was my mother-in-law appreciative!

Today, I’m sharing this success with you which will hopefully give you the confidence and encouragement you need to successfully plan meals for others

Consider How Many People You Will Be Feeding

Since we only took 1 child who doesn’t eat big people food anyway and replaced ourselves with another adult, I could make the same amount of food I usually make and be fine.  But, had I been taking more children with me or had more people been eating, I would need to adjust accordingly.

Brainstorm Simple Meals

Don’t try something new or extravagant.  You are not trying to impress others with your culinary skills.  You are doing this to feed them and make things easier for them.  Think about simple meals that can be easily thrown together from the components you provide.  Also, consider what the people you are cooking for like and any food allergies they might have.

Here are the meals I chose:

Breakfast:
Cereal
Pancakes (from Homemade Pancake Mix)

Lunch:
Sandwiches (meat & cheese, pb&j)
Pizza (frozen)

Dinner:
Spaghetti (the meat was precooked and the spaghetti sauce was store-bought), Frozen corn, French Bread
Bierocks (made ahead of time and frozen), Frozen peas

You can also plan snacks, which is something I didn’t do because I knew Grammy would bring plenty of that kind of thing.  Cookies are a really simple snack/dessert that freeze and keep well.

Some other simple meal ideas are:
Breakfast:
Peanut butter/Banana toast (these are easy to put together with ingredients that keep well)
Baked oatmeal (put together, but don’t bake, and leave in refrigerator)
Breakfast Casserole (most of these can be frozen)

Lunch:
Taco salad (shred your lettuce and have the meat and beans precooked and mixed)
Quesadillas (these freeze well, but are also easy for even young children to make)
Sloppy Joes (have the meat precooked and seasoned, freezes well)

Dinner:
Crockpot Hamburgers (idea taken from Tricia at Hodgepodge)
Soup (easily frozen!)
Chili (again, easily frozen)
Lasagna (yep, easily frozen)

Grocery Shop Based on Menu

As I plan my menu, I take note of what I already have on hand and what I need to buy.  I make my list and head to the store.

Prepare Anything You Can Make Ahead

I baked several loaves of bread and fried up all the meat needed for the meals and froze in individual ziplock bags.  I made the bierocks and froze them, and put together the baking mix.  Anything you can do ahead of time and combine to make prep easier, do it!

Create and Label

I wrote out a menu for each day and wrote next to the meals where the components could be found.  So, for the spaghetti, I wrote:
Thursday –
Dinner:  Spaghetti & sauce (pantry), Frozen corn (freezer 1), French bread (fridge 2)

We have 2 refrigerators and 3 freezers, so I wanted to take the guesswork out of where I had stashed everything.  Also, remember to label all food with baking, cooking, and/or assembling instructions.

Explain Your Menu to Caretaker

If possible, explain either in person or on paper the system behind your menu.  Give them any extra instructions they need to know and put it in the simplest terms.

Planning and preparing meals like this works for a variety of situations.  It really is a simple way to bless those who are taking care of others and could use a break!

Shopping Azure Standard as a Frugal Way to Eat Healthy

Today, I’m writing at FreeHomeschoolDeals.com on eating healthy in a frugal way.  One of the things I mention is ordering from Azure Standard.

I’ve been familiar with Azure for many years, but I never ordered from them until this past year.  Part of the reason I never ordered was because I was afraid it was too complicated.  So, I thought today I’d take some time to demystify Azure and give you some tips on making ordering easier, plus introduce you to the family behind the trucking company that handles the Midwest area orders.

First of all, what is Azure Standard?  You can read how their company came into existence here.  Basically, they are a bulk food company out of Oregon.  The food is trucked all over the country via private trucking companies like the Christian family-owned and operated Covenant Ranch Trucking, who delivers my order every month.  (For a listing of routes CRT delivers to CLICK HERE.  For a listing of all Azure drops, CLICK HERE.)

So, how do you order from Azure?  If there is a drop near you, you can sign up as a customer for that drop via the Azure Standard website.  If there is not a drop near you or you would like establish a new one, please read this information and/or contact Covenant Ranch Trucking or Azure Standard. (you can reach CRT via email here: CovenantRanchTrucking at gmail dot com)

To order from Azure, you need to be purchasing at least $50 worth of product each time.  However, you don’t have to order every month.  The food comes in bulk quantities, so it is perfect for larger families, but if you are not able to use up as much as is packaged, you can split an order with someone else (often drop sites have a facebook page or yahoo email group that makes it easy to find someone who would be willing to split an order with you.)

So, you have your account set up, now what?

The simplest way I’ve found to keep track of what I need is to use my online shopping cart as my list.  Anytime I find I need something, I throw it into my cart and it stays there until I am ready to finalize my order and pay for it.  I get an email notice telling me the deadline is nearing, so I don’t accidentally miss it.  The next week, on the scheduled route drop off day and time, my husband or I show up to grab our order off the truck.  It’s that simple!

What do I order from Azure?

I order a multitude of items from coconut oil to palm shortening to whole wheat pastry flour.  Next time, I’ll be ordering almond four and flax meal because I have a serious addiction to the Muffin in a Mug from Trim Healthy Mama! 😉

So…how would you like to meet the family behind Covenant Ranch Trucking?  Here they are:

The Wood Family

 Wood Family

The Wood Family, including Jeanette’s parents who will soon be living on the farm with them.

Hi, my name is Jeanette Wood. My husband, Joseph, and I operate Covenant Ranch Trucking LLC, along with our 11 children.

If you€™re interested in saving money and eating Real Food then we just might be of interest to you. In 2010 our family started hauling organic and natural food for Azure Standard to 14 of the Midwest states.

We love working with families who are just learning of Azure or wanting to develop a drop in their community. No town is too small for us to come to delivery too. If there is enough interest , we€™re willing to bring you your groceries each and every month. To learn more about the Wood family please visit us at: www.covenantranchonline.com.

Our family lives in Topeka, KS on 16 acres where we enjoy fresh air and farm life. We have multiple fruit trees, a growing garden, and many livestock to tend to each day. We have been home educating our children for the last 19 years. Joe, my husband has driven truck for 28 years; he is the owner of Covenant Ranch Trucking LLC. and I tend to the endless paperwork and record keeping that owning a trucking company requires. I also help develop new routes, set up drops and any other customer service needs that might come up.  Several of the children go with Joe to help unload the truck, making multiple stops across the Midwest. Bethany, Joe€™s second oldest daughter, helps in the office with phone calls, emails and customer assistance.

Please, take a moment to connect with Covenant Ranch Trucking and the Wood Family!  (and don’t miss the story of why Jeanette signs her name Mrs. Joseph Wood – I LOVE this story!)

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Ask Amy – Meaningful Gift Ideas for Children & Large Families

This week, we have a topic that will probably strike a few chords with several of you.

Question:  “I have no clue where to begin with my kids’ gifts (mostly ideas for the grandparents), but I do know what I don’t want them to get (think: useless toys and other “junk”). Do you have any ideas or great general resources that you would suggest (books, music, educational toys, school resources, etc)?”

Great question!  And one I love because it fits so well with our family philosophy of doing and buying things that have “lasting value.”

Let me start by suggesting you think outside the box of one gift per person.  This is hard for grandparents to do because they are afraid the children will feel deprived, but I’ve actually seen the opposite when there has been a family gift given.  They are all thrilled and get to share the joy of it together.  If they are really bothered by the notion, suggest they get a few stocking stuffers to “compensate.” 😉

So, what sorts of things might a large family (or even a small family) be interested in?

  • Zoo passes
  • Museum passes
  • Year-long memberships to local attractions
  • Memberships to DVD rental sites like ChristianCinema
  • A night at a hotel (with a swimming pool and breakfast! 😉 )
  • Gift certificates to eating establishments that are family friendly
  • Family games (like Apples to Apples – they also have a Junior version!)
  • Jonathan Park or Brinkman Adventure CDs (these have provided hours of entertainment!)
  • Furniture or electronics the entire family can use (example: new TV for the whole family to be able to watch their movies from ChristianCinema on!)
  • Something needed or wanted that tends to get pushed to the backburner by the family (that speaker system in the van so the family can listen to their Jonathan Park CDs on trips – *cough cough*)
  • Huge box of food (one of the best Christmas presents we ever received from a family member!)

The list literally could be endless if you thought long and hard about what your family could really USE this Christmas.  And with a large family, the cost spent individually adds up quickly!  Even $20 a person for my family is $160 total – think what that could buy beyond trinkets and toys!

However, most of us still need some Christmas gift ideas that are individualized.  So, how do you determine what kind of individual gifts have lasting value?

  • What are the child’s interests, talents, or needs?
  • How can I invest in their interests and talents?
  • If those interests disappeared tomorrow, would this gift still have relevance?
  • How can this gift be used to bring glory to God?
  • How is this gift leading my child in the direction I want them to go?
  • Is this gift likely to break or cause strife in the near future?

Those questions might seem kind of vague, so let me walk you through it with a specific gift…

Child A is musically inclined.  You think a guitar might be a good present.  You are investing in their giftings by giving them something that reflects that and tells them you know how much music means to them.  If the child decided he or she didn’t want to play the guitar after all, it could be passed down to another child.   The guitar can potentially be used to play praises to God for personal worship or corporate worship time.  You are wanting your child to contribute to the family with their musical talent, and this is a good way to get started, plus you are investing in what could potentially be a source of income in the future.  Oh, and it’s not likely to break soon, but it might cause strife if there is another potential guitar-player in the house.  Not everything can be prevented.

Taking this gift a step further, what about asking a grandparent to help pay for music lessons or accessories/music/etc?  Again, think outside the typical gift-giving box!

Some examples from our own family of individualized gifts that had meaning include:

  • Luggage – they needed it and were thrilled to have it!
  • A book of WWII battles with a map and pins to mark the battles
  • Set of hair clippers and hair cutting lessons (I’ve saved a mint over the years!)
  • A digital camera
  • Bedding
  • Money put into savings account for the children
  • Lifetime hunting and fishing license (this is a big investment, but well worth it)
  • Nature Friend magazine subscription
  • A serger that had been sitting collecting dust in a grandparent’s house

We are also big fans of gifts that make children think and be creative such as:

  • dress-up clothes
  • art supplies (like those from See the Light)
  • stationery
  • a tea set
  • cookbooks
  • camping gear
  • fabric and patterns
  • historical/educational books and toys
  • games
  • puzzles
  • outdoor toys

and the list goes on!

So, as you make out your list or begin suggesting gift ideas to grandparents, I’d encourage you to think forward, think lasting, think value.  Just as the Magi brought gifts to Jesus that might have seemed oddly out of place for a child, those same gifts had meaning and purpose that would reach far beyond those early years of Christ’s life.  Be thoughtful in your gift-giving this year and do not be afraid to ask the same of others.

Have some great gift ideas?  Please share!