Family Volunteer Opportunities You Can Complete from the Comfort of Your Home

Family volunteer opportunities and ideas you can complete from the comfort of your own home (or at least your own block). For both kids and parents! Complete some community service + acts of kindness together. |

Trying to raise charitable kids? Try these family volunteer opportunities you can complete from the comfort of your own home (or at least your own block)

Maybe packing up the kiddos and schlepping them across town to participate in a charity project is not your thing.

But you'd still like to commit a charitable act (not to mention set a good example for the little ones).

There are multiple projects your family can sit down (or walk around the block) to do together at home that will help others in need.

Here are 6 Family Volunteer Ideas for you.

Family Volunteer Opportunities #1: Clip Coupons for Other Military Families

Clipping coupons to benefit military families around the world is something I've been doing for several years. It's one of the most perfect family volunteer opportunities because besides driving to a post office the next day on your way to work, you can get all cozy and complete this from home.

I'm thinking hot chocolate, a hot fire + a family podcast playing in the background?

Ask your family and friends to save their coupon inserts (even their newly expired ones; military personnel may use coupons expired up to 6 months!), then every few months sit down as a family and clip all the coupons out together.

Together, pick out a military base from around the world where you'd like to send them to benefit military families.

Bonus: sending mail through a military address costs less than regular international mail.

Family Volunteer Opportunities #2: Write Letters/Post Cards to Brighten A Stranger's Day

  • Send Strangers Happy Cards: The Post Card Happiness Project is all about writing a cheerful, encouraging post cards to people going through difficult times. Choose someone from the website, print out their info (so that you can go screen-free during the actual letter writing), then send off your drop of happiness.
  • Cheer up Sick People: Reach out to ill and lonely people across America by writing them thoughtful cards. Send one, commit to sending monthly, or send in bulk. Print out the directions ahead of time so that, again, you can go screen-free come family time.

Family Volunteer Opportunities #3: Go for Family Donation Walks

Maybe this one is leaving the comfort of your own home…but you need not roam far. You can download various walking apps representing lots of different kinds of charitable causes, and then each time you log some miles, you are actually donating to the cause (through the help of sponsors, advertisers, etc.).

Psst: it's helpful to have an unlimited data plan for this idea; mine is unlimited everything for just $35/month with tax.

  • Charity Miles: I use this app because I walk and run often (either taking our 16-month old around the block, or working out at the gym). I like that it counts my miles whether I'm indoor or outdoor, and that it has a charity my Veteran husband feels passionately about (so I'm happy to help with): Wounded Warrior. It's sort of like my free fit bit! You can choose from a variety of charities with this app, donating to causes such as Wounded Warrior, Stand Up to Cancer, and ASPCA.
  • WoofTrax: Make a donation by walking your dog! Download the Walk for a Dog app, then each time you walk your dog click the “start walking” button. Your miles are logged and turn into donations for animal shelters around the U.S. Available on both Android as well as iPhone.
  • ResqWalk: At the beginning of every month this site announces a new amount of cash available from their ResQsponsors they've got. If you want it for your fave organization, then download the app, select a ResQpartner and press start. Your walking, running or biking counts, “as long as the activity can be measured by GPS and involves a speed of less than 14 mph.” By the end of the month the dough is divided proportionally to the charities based on the number of miles logged in their name. There are also bonus challenges throughout the month that result in donations of things like pet toys + treats.

Which one are you excited about trying first?

Steal this Amish Blueprint for Managing Your Child’s Paycheck

Amish Blueprint: How to save money for kids by managing their paychecks. Learn kids money management life skills, and walk away with some great ideas. |

Learn how to save money for kids + how to manage your child's paycheck with this Amish blueprint. The outcome is impressive!

The Amish provide an interesting case study when figuring out how to deal with your own child's paycheck once they start bringing in the dough. Not only that, but how to save money for kids from that paycheck…even when your kiddo wants to spend, spend, spend.

Why is that?

Well, Amish kids start working + earning paychecks pretty early on in life (talk about some kid money management life skills!). Like, in the 8th grade, after they graduate from school altogether.

The Amish are very aware that handing over an entire paycheck to a 13-14 year old child would be stupid. They've essentially had to come up with, then hone, a foolproof way to deal with their child's paycheck from an early age.

We'll get into much more detail about this in a bit, but first, let me introduce you to the Amish man who made this article possible.

Meet Leroy, My Father's Primary Amish Taxi Client

I guess before I introduce Leroy, I should back up and explain my father's job as an Amish Taxi driver. Most people stop me there, anyway.

My father has been a full-time Amish Taxi Driver in Lancaster, PA for 14 years.

The business is very much based on referrals and word-of-mouth from other, happy, Amish clients. At any given time your phone rings, an Amish person, who cannot own their own vehicle (or only in rare situations that likely revolve around their business, in which case they own a vehicle but hire a full-time driver) asks if you're available at a certain time on a certain date to take them to wherever they'd like to go.

The pay is pretty good; one college summer I worked this job as a backup when my other job fell through and earned $3,000. That's from making $0.60/mile + $10/hour waiting time (as they run their errands in stores, visit with friends and family, attend doctor's appointments, etc.).

Leroy happens to be my father's primary employer. This father of five, ranging in age from 3 to 21, owns a construction company. He hires my father to drive him around to in-state and out-of-state construction sites once a week to check up on his crews.

I say he's my father's primary employer, but really, he's become a friend of our family.

One day several years ago I got the chance to ride around with he and my father for six hours and ask him all kinds of questions regarding handling his children's paychecks and how to save money for kids. And a few days ago, I asked even more questions over my father's phone to him to follow-up on a few things.

How the Amish Get Around Paying an Allowance

There is no allowance given to Amish children.

However, Leroy says that they do give their kids spending money for special occasions. Just not money given on a regular basis.

Instead, Amish kids generally go to school until the 8th grade, and then start making money of their own. Upon graduation they apprentice with someone or otherwise find employment. And employment can be for an Englishman (what the Amish call non-Amish in America), but only if they know and trust that Englishman (for example, one of Leroy's eldest sons used to mow my father's lawn during the summertime for extra cash, a job that came about because of my father's special relationship with Leroy).

This paycheck that the kids start receiving around 8th grade is the source of their spending money. And it's also the source of much, much more having to do with their future.

Psst: Curious if the Amish pay taxes?

Why Amish Children Do Not Get their Entire Paycheck to Spend as they Please

Amish children do not get to keep their entire paychecks to spend. Which is a good thing for three reasons:

  • Early Substantial Earnings: Amish kids start earning money at an early age, so probably wouldn't have the know-how to deal with that kind of money. Leroy mentioned that if you were to hand over all their money to them, they'd spend it on stuff that doesn't amount to anything. And he's looking for how to save money for kids in order to satisfy the next two requirements.
  • Early Money Responsibility: The Amish are expected to be very self-sufficient at a pretty young age in regards to paying for things − such as coming up with a down payment for a home. For example, Leroy estimated that his son will purchase his first home between the ages of 18 and 19, with a $15,000 – $20,000 down payment. I'm not sure of too many Englishmen kids who could do the same! Leroy says the typical age to purchase a home for an Amish person is at the age of 21, so he's expecting his son to be able to do so a bit early.
  • No Health Insurance: Amish do not have traditional health insurance, and so all Amish adults are expected to pay large sums of money towards their own children's health needs + the needs of those in the community who come upon bills equaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. In essence, it's a community-based health insurance plan.

Because of this unique money situation, the Amish have come up with a pretty interesting blueprint for not only managing their children's paychecks, but to solve the puzzle of how to save money for kids so that they can achieve significant financial feats at a very young age.

The Amish Blueprint for Managing Your Child's Paychecks

Growing up on the edge of the Amish community, I had heard the type of rumor a hard-working teenager never wants to hear: Amish kids were given 25% of their paychecks to spend as they please, but had to hand over the other 75% to their parents.

Honestly, I thought that was absurd as a teenager. I mean, wasn't it unfair that I was doing the work − mucking horse stalls and babysitting − but I had to fork over my paycheck for my parents to control?

But why they do this and how it ends up playing out is a pretty darn good blueprint (I can say that now, as an adult. Your own child may feel differently).

Amish Blueprint:

  • Spending Money: It turns out that the 25% rumor was incorrect. It's even less than that (at least to begin with!). All of Leroy's children's needs are paid for by Leroy and his wife. Leroy then gives his eldest son, who at the time of this interview was earning $120 at a market on Saturdays + working in one of Leroy's construction crews four days per week, 10% of his paycheck to spend as he pleases. Leroy says that the more “liberal” Amish will give their children up to 50% to spend as they please. But he adds that 10% is the normal amount. As the kids get older and they need more money, this gets bumped up.
  • Investment Money: Leroy invests 10% of his son's paycheck for his son's future. Each year the amount Leroy invests towards his son's future increases by 10% (so 10% the first year of work, then 20% the second year, and so on). Leroy says the Amish aren't big on the stock market. Instead, they invest in what's called Amish Helping Hands. This group then helps other Amish in the community in the form of low-interest loans (currently 3.25% for mortgages and 3.50% for farmers) to Amish farmers and first-time homeowners. Interest is paid on investments twice a year or reinvested, and the expense ratio is 0.25%. It's a solid investment model, because Amish have an excellent track record of paying any debts owed.
  • Household Money: The rest of the money goes towards Leroy's household.

But wait, there's more.

Rental Income is Added In

Since the initial interview was several years ago, I took the opportunity to call my Dad while he was driving Leroy and ask him a few more follow-up questions on the phone about how to save money for kids + manage their paychecks.

It turns out, Leroy's eldest son did end up buying that house at the age of 18. It's a two-unit rental property, and he's got a 10-year mortgage on it. So he earns almost enough from it to pay for the mortgage and upkeep, then will have the property paid off before he turns 30. Impressive!

At the age of 21, which his eldest son will reach in just a few months, he will no longer hand over any of his paycheck money to his father. Instead, he gets to keep it while also living at home rent-free + earning the rental income.

When he does eventually get married and move out of the house? He'll likely keep this property as a rental property, and buy a new home for him and his wife to move into.

Sounds like a budding real estate mogul to me! Except that Leroy says this is pretty typical in their community − to buy a rental property, live at home until you're married, and invest/save a good bit of your paycheck from the age of 13 or 14 onwards.

What You Can Take Away from this Blueprint

While it's not likely your own child will have saved up enough money by the age of 18 to buy a rental property − after all, you'll hopefully discourage them from dropping out of school in the 8th grade to work full-time − you can still glean lots of ideas from this blueprint on how to save money for kids + manage your child's paycheck at an early age that will help them achieve some fantastic financial maneuvers.

Your own blueprint can look like this:

  • Your teen gets a job.
  • You both sit down after the first paycheck is earned, and figure out what percentage is appropriate for them to spend, and what percentage is appropriate for them to save. Leroy used a 10/10/80 rule, with 10% for spending, 10% for investing, and 80% to his household, with built-in investment + spending increases + a decreases in the household amount as each year passed. Note: Percentages are best, as their paycheck will likely fluctuate with increased earnings, or from being paid hourly.
  • You open up a custodial savings account with them (find out how to score a bonus $25 for doing so).
  • You open up a custodial checking account for them, or funnel their paycheck through your own checking account.
  • They have their paychecks automatically deposited into the checking account you'll be using.
  • You set up automatic withdrawals into their savings account from the checking account, proportionate to the amount you both agreed on to save.
  • At the age of “majority” (18 or 21, depending on the state you live in) the account gets turned over to them.

Now it's your turn. Have you figured out how to save money for kids from their paycheck? How do you manage your child's paycheck, or how do you want to manage it moving forward? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.

Books to Read Your Children When You’re Going through Tough Financial Times

Dealing with tough financial times like getting laid off, or having to stop spending money is more difficult when you have to explain it to your kids. Use these books to help you navigate tricky money conversations.

It's no secret that most adults will go through tough financial times at some point in their lives. My husband, Paul, and I are not immune to this; between the two of us we've been laid off from work four times in the last ten years.

Chances are, even if you're trying to keep conversations between you and your spouse or checked out the latest laid off from work quotes, your kids are they're picking up on red flags.

Maybe you're a bit more cranky around the house, or giving in less to what they'd like from the store. Perhaps you've introduced a new budget out of left field and they wonder what happened to their weekly movie + dinner nights with the family.

When I think back to my own childhood, I distinctly remember the conversation my mother had with us in the year or two before declaring bankruptcy. She sat us down and said that she would not be buying lots of the extras we’re used to anymore.

If she had had a book like the ones to read to us to accompany that talk, then I think it would have gone better. Not that she messed up in anyway, but it’s super nice to reinforce what’s going on through stories, as well as to show your child that they’re not alone in what you all will need to deal with down the pipeline (or are already dealing with).

Whatever it is that you're dealing with, know two things:

:: you're not alone
:: there are excellent books out there to help ease your child into your new and (hopefully) temporary financial situation

Let's take a look.

Tough Financial Time #1: Laid Off from Work

Money Book #1: Hothead, Cal Ripken, Jr.

Age Range: 8-12 years

Connor Sullivan, a star baseball player (in a book by Cal Ripken, whowouldathought?:)), has turned into a bit of hothead when he doesn’t perform like he really wants to.

And where does all this extra tension and anger come from? From the situation at home that he refuses to share with others because he’s ashamed. His parents are in a hot financial mess, and it’s been stressful for everyone. Dad was laid off from work as a car salesman, and his mother was trying to fill the financial vacuum by taking extra nursing shifts in the emergency room. The stacks of bills are scoreboard-high. Connor overhears money arguments about monthly mortgage payments, whether to raid the kids’ college funds, etc.

This book is great for any kid who loves baseball, by the way. There’s lots of insider knowledge in here.

The Money Lesson(s): You can get scared by things you see on the television, such as a high unemployment rate. But don’t be afraid to talk to an adult about this. It will help you to separate fact from emotional scaremongering by the media.  Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your parents about what you are hearing from them and not understanding, or what is frightening you about your household (such as money woes).

Life Lesson(s): When you hold things inside, they have a habit of manifesting in an emotional way. For Connor, this was through anger and temper tantrums that got him suspended for a game or two. But it could manifest in other ways. So talk it out and let others know how you’re feeling and why. Also, when you are a part of a team, your actions directly affect them. You need to remember that they need you at their best! Both on and off the court/field/etc.

Tough Financial Time #2: Not Enough Money for Extras

Money Book #1: Those Shoes, Maribeth Boelts

Ages: 5-8 years

Whether we like to remember this happened to us as tweens/teens or not, there is a lot of peer pressure when it comes to having “cool” clothes. And often the “cool” clothes cost more than parents’ paychecks can support.

That’s why I like this book. A boy gets transfixed by the newest trend of shoes at his school. His jealousy is palpable. Unfortunately, his grandmother can only afford to get him shoes that he needs − winter boots.

Even worse, his own “everyday” shoes fall apart at school. A helpful guidance counselor gives him a pair to have, but they’re what’s considered “baby” shoes and he gets embarrassed.

What happens? He finds that the one boy who didn’t laugh at his “baby” shoes actually was worse off than him. When he actually finds the shoes of his dreams − albeit one size too small − from a thrift store, he ends up gifting them to this other boy.

The Money Lesson(s): First off, I love how this boy figures out an alternative way of finding the shoes he wants for a price his grandmother can afford − the thrift store. I also love how the grandmother unabashedly told him what they could and could not afford instead of racking up a charge she didn’t need on her credit card to satisfy a current trend.

Life Lesson(s): Helping out someone else is hugely rewarding, just like when someone helps you out.

Money Book #2: How to Steal a Dog, Barbara O’Connor

Age Range: 8-12

You might be wondering (like I was) why any parent with a child would want them to read a book with this title?

This was a tough book to read for me. It was heartbreaking, to be honest.

The story revolves around Georgina Hayes, the daughter, whose father left his family recently. The mother, Georgina, and her brother, now live in a car. The mom works two jobs, but cannot save up enough for first/last/deposit on an apartment, at least not for awhile.

Georgina gets the idea of stealing a dog when, while parked in a parking lot for the night, she sees a flyer for a $500 reward on a missing dog. She figures if she can steal a dog, then the owner puts up a reward, she can get $500 to help her mother get an apartment and they can get out of their cruddy car.

Of course, she ends up becoming friends with the owner of the dog she steals, and she has to watch the sadness and depression it wreaks in her life.

Money Book #3: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin

Age Range: 8-12 years

I truly enjoyed this jade-gem of a book. Minli and her family live very meagerly (poor according to American standards), but they have what they need. Though yes, just barely. The mother is always discontented with their circumstances. Her daughter is quite content, listening to her father’s stories are night, but she knows that her mother is not and she knows they have to work to the bone for the little they have.

So Minli decides to take some of the information from these stories and seek these people out so that she can change her family’s fortunes.

The Money Lesson(s):  This is a beautifully written tale about greed, humbleness, dragons (yes, there are dragons!), and learning to be thankful with what you have.

Life Lesson(s): Being thankful with what you have, and feeling like you have “enough” is the secret to happiness. There’s also a strong lesson here about helping others along their journey, and accepting help from others along the way.

Tough Financial Time #3: When You Need to Tighten the Belt

Money Book #1: The Ant and the Grasshopper, Amy Lowry Poole

Ages:  4+ years

This is a twist on the classic Aesop’s fable, where the ants consistently, and without hesitation, prepare for the winter months while the grasshopper focuses on games + entertainment in the Chinese Emperor’s Summer Palace.

The Money Lesson(s): Consistent, and sometimes hard, work pays off. Preparation for tough times to come − such as being laid off from work − is a good idea.

Life Lesson(s): The ants may be super prepared for winter while the grasshopper is out in the cold, but there is something to be said for enjoying life more. The lesson here is somewhere along the lines of “work hard, but don’t forget to play hard. Play hard, but don’t forget to leave time for work.”

Money Story #2: When Times are Tough, Yanitzia Canetti

Ages: 5-7 years

This book is great for any family wanting to have a “we need to tighten our belts” conversation with their children (or perhaps not wanting to, but needing to from cases such as being laid off from work, or other financial monkey wrenches).

There are examples of what the parents and children will need to give up buying, but then really optimistic and fun examples of what they’re going to substitute instead that costs much less (or in most cases, is free). Such as turning off the TV and shutting down the video games in favor of family games and reading instead. Or foregoing vacation and instead making a staycation where they check out local spots together. Or cancelling the birthday party clown and instead making up family jokes and magic shows.

It’s very endearing.

The Money Lesson(s): The great money lesson − one I talk about all the time − is to still live your life, just without spending nearly as much doing so. An underlying lesson that’s not spelled out? Sometimes when you go through hard times, like the kind you may face after being laid off from work, you become closer with the ones that matter.

Life Lesson(s): The life lesson here is that money is not everything. Yes, it’s important, and this family does eventually have to move in with their grandparents. But what is actually important is spending time with the ones you love. That doesn’t mean you have to spend money doing so.

Tough Financial Time #4: Not Much Money for Christmas

Money Book #1: The Money We’ll Save, Brock Cole

Ages: 4-8 years

It’s all-hands-on-deck with this family who, you can tell, has very little money (set in a 19th century New York City tenement, to give you an idea). Everyone in the family has chores to do to keep things going. Christmas is around the corner, so they’re trying to save their pennies. Still, the mother needs two eggs and 1/2 pound of flour from the store. She sends the father, who resists temptation. Well…except when the Chicken Man tells him about how he can save money on his Christmas dinner: buy a young turkey at a lower price now, raise it, then eat it for Christmas dinner (all for lower than they would normally pay for their meat).

The turkey lives in a box by the stove, but soon grows out of it (as well as wants more than just table scraps for a meal). It becomes quite the mess.

Before you worry about where this is going…it turns out that they can’t possibly eat poor Alfred the turkey at the end because he has become a pet.

The Money Lesson(s): Sometimes it’s all-hands-on-deck with family to keep things running. And guess what? Some things that you buy to “save money” really aren’t worth it after all (though of course it was nice they got a pet…that they eventually gave away to a neighbor).

Life Lesson(s): There’s a small overtone of the early 19th century tenement life in this book; however, you’d have to dive deeper to really get that history from it.

Money Book #2: Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton

Ages: 4-8 years

I have to be honest here and say I expected more out of this book. I mean, after all, it’s written by Dolly Parton.

The lesson is a good one, but the rhymes left something to be desired (at least for me). Perhaps the rhymes will be musical to little kids’ ears?

Basically there is a family who has very little money. They’re given a box of rags, and the mother makes a beautiful coat for her daughter that turns out to be as colorful as Joseph’s from the bible. The daughter is proud, and so she doesn’t care when others make fun of her coat at school.

The Money Lesson(s): Most of the belongings you need are for utilitarian purposes. Like a car gets you from A to B. The fact that it can also be an entertainment center, have heated seats, and offer a choice of aisle seat or window (in three rows, no less) is irrelevant. To have what you need, it just needs to get you to the place you need to go. Just because you don’t have lots of money to spend on a super fancy ride doesn’t mean you don’t have what you need nor does it mean you should be ashamed of what you’ve been provided.

Life Lesson(s): Your mother puts a lot of love and attention into the things she does for you. That is something money can never buy.

Tough Financial Time #5: When You're Trying to Explain Homelessness

Money Book #1: How I Learned Geography, Uri Shulevitz

Ages: 4-8 years

Is your child seeing poverty firsthand? Perhaps from homeless people on the corners, like the ones I pass here in Houston? Or maybe they don’t know how “good” they have it?

What I like about this book is that it gently introduces the topic of what poverty really looks like, from the perspective of a man who went through it as a child in Poland. One day his father buys a map with his bread money instead of bread − a seemingly ridiculous way to spend their money − but he figured they’d still be hungry after the bread was gone. The map would be a feast of the mind.

The Money Lesson(s): Poverty exists. This book shows a child what it can look like, through the eyes of another child.

Life Lesson(s): Sometimes you’ve got to think out of the box, even when resources are meager, in order to keep spirits up.

We're having some money problems in our marriage and going through tough financial times, and it's been hard for us to explain it to the kids. I was so happy to stumble across this article on different kid book recommendations - by age - to explain various financial situations to our kids. #toughtimes #booksforkids #money

4 Unique Ways to Fund Savings Account for Kids

Savings accounts for kids need money, and I've got 4 unique ways to fund them (living paycheck to paycheck? Then #1 and #4 are just for you!). Help your kids save money with these ideas (hint: no jars needed). |

Savings accounts for kids don't have to be hard to fund, even if you're living paycheck to paycheck

You've set up a savings account for kids and savings accounts for baby in your family (wait, you haven't yet? No worries. Here's exactly what you need to do + how to score your child a $25 opening bonus).

And while there's plenty of activities for your kid to do with their account instead of letting it collect dust, chances are, you + your kiddo want to see it grow.

I mean, if they watch it grow (cue big eyes each time they log in to see its climbing value), then they'll be more apt to funnel even more money into it, right?

The best way to see savings account for kids grow is by having your child fund it with part of their allowance. The second best way is for you to fund it yourself.

But instead of offering you the same old tips about how to teach kids to save through incentives such as matching their savings, I've got 4 unique ways to increase their saving accounts' bottom line.

Psst: Already stretched thin and don't have extra funds to add to a savings account for kids? Then ideas #1 and #4 are specifically for you.

#1: Grocery Store Coupon Savings they Clip + Use

Have you enlisted your child to help you at the grocery store yet, like I detailed in 4 Unique Grocery Store Games for Kids?

One of the ways I outlined in there to get your kid involved with helping you was to give them your grocery list ahead of time so that they can clip/print out coupons that align with things you're going to buy anyway. Then as a bonus incentive, I suggested that you supplement their allowance with any savings they reaped you.

Instead of supplementing their allowance, take the savings they reap you through specific coupons used and deposit it into savings account for kids.

You’ll need your grocery list already written out, plus a Sunday paper. Don't usually get the Sunday paper chocked full of coupons? Then have your child scour the following online coupon sites:

Mama Bear Action: Retain each of your grocery store receipts for the month. At the end of each month, sit down with your child and have them add up all of the coupon savings from each receipt. Be sure they add up just actual coupon savings, not overall store savings! Then either write them a check to deposit together into their savings account, or transfer the money over from your checking to their savings.

#2: Double their Interest Earnings

Through the Compound Interest Detective Activity, your child learns a bit about interest and how it can compound to really grow their savings.

If your child hasn't gone through that activity, then just sit down with them and find the interest rate.

Offer to double that interest rate, explaining to them that the more money they put into savings, the more money they will earn from your special bonus you're giving.

Mama Bear Action: Each month (or quarter, depending on when interest hits their account) have your child log into their saving account. Look at the amount of interest earned, then have them watch you put that same amount into their account either by writing them a check (you could name it “savings bonus” in the notes section), or transferring from your checking account.

#3: Give Bonuses through

Have you ever heard of This is an amazing free (now $2.99/month) savings tool that analyzes your checking account for bills + spending + income, and then automatically withdraws amounts between $5-$50 every few days into a savings account based on what you can afford.

It's pretty epic.

I wrote an entire post about my experience with “finding” $509.97 in about two months thanks to this tool when we were in need of money for Christmas. What a lifesaver!

So why not set this cool tool up, then use the money siphoned off from your checking to occasionally fund your savings account for kids? You could call these savings bonuses, getting your kids even more excited.

Reasons for Savings Bonuses could include:

  • Stellar performance
  • Extra work around the house
  • Going above and beyond to help someone out (without prompting)
  • Just because!

Mama Bear Action: Figure out why you would like to give savings bonuses in your own household, and whether or not you want to share this with your kids. Sign up for a account, and start accumulating money to fund these bonuses.

#4: Through Your Internet Searches

I've been a heavy user of Swagbucks search engine for several years now. Actually, I'm so into it, that I looked up my stats:

  • Joined: March 14, 2009 (what a glorious day)
  • Swagbucks Earned: 205,255
  • Points Cashed in for Actual Cash: $2027.79

Did you see where I said “cashed in for actual cash”? The cool thing about this is you can actually cash in your reward points as Paypal money, with no extra penalties for doing so. So whether you use those points for gift cards, merchandise, or pure cash, they're worth the same.

Mama Bear Action: Instead of using Google as your search engine, switch to Swagbucks. With the reward points you earn, cash them in through Paypal and fund your savings account for kids. Seven years from now and $X,XXX dollars richer, you'll be happy you did.

What are special ways you like to fund your kids' savings accounts that are different from the norm?