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Why and How to Include Your Kids In the Family Finances

You know what sucks? Being broke.


My husband and I learned some cold, hard lessons about life when we were first married and paid no attention to where our money was going. We lost over half of our income (and our house) when we were hit with an unexpected job layoff. We were not prepared.

It took us five long years to recover and pay off our debts, and we had to make big changes in our spending.

Those were emotionally trying times and now we want to do everything we can to keep our kids from knowing that kind of pain in the future. They’re young still – three and eight – but we’ve already started teaching them about handling money responsibly.

You don’t have to go out and buy an expensive kit to teach your kids about money, you can simply let them look over your shoulder to observe the things you do every day for the household.

Kids like to be included in what it takes to run a household, and it increases the chances of them being willing to contribute when asked. There’s no better way to learn than jumping in on real-life, hands-on situations. These suggestions really helped our family:

1 | Let them see you doing the bills.

Invite them to sit down with you as you pay bills, and note the amounts in key areas: housing, vehicle payments, and groceries. Kids are also often surprised at what utilities cost, and that you have to pay for things like electricity.

The amount spent in these areas directly impacts the budget, and determines what is left for “fun money,” activities or entertainment afterwards, and it’s great for them to see that. 

2 | Give them responsibilities at home.

They may groan at having a chore list, but stress their value in the home and the pride of contributing to the household. Toddlers especially like to feel important by helping to fold simple things like washcloths or bringing clothes baskets to the laundry room.

Pay them for the tasks they complete on a chart and let them see their money build up in a jar. Pay can vary depending on age and task, but a good rule of thumb is 50 cents or a dollar per chore.

3 | Let them spend their earnings.

There are a lot of great teachable moments at the store about the cost of different toys and staying within their means.

If they have 10 dollars to spend and a toy they want costs $9.99, you can have them choose something else that costs less, or leave the store and come back after they have earned the rest. It can be hard in the moment not to just spot them the tax, but having them wait or choose an alternative teaches them valuable lessons about patience and spending only as much as they have to spend.

4 | Let them help shop for groceries.

Write out a shopping list and ask them to help you compare prices and brands to stay within a target amount. It’s easier to do this when you have a short list, or just need to pick up a few things.

It’s a great learning experience for them to see how much individual groceries cost, and to compare prices for different versions of the same type of product. I keep a running estimate on the list as I go for what the total will be at the checkout.

It’s also great for them to see the cost when it comes to extras like cookies and soda. Let them study the receipt and talk about how every item might not cost a lot on its own, but it all adds up in the end.

5 | Let them help make dinner.

After seeing how much groceries cost, talk about consumability. The rate at which groceries are consumed and used in recipes directly effects the grocery budget and how often you will need to go back to the store. You can also discuss the expense of eating at a restaurant versus cooking at home.

These are great learning tools for kids that don’t take a lot of time in the long run, and can help set your kids up for success. You can’t predict the future, but you can teach your children to adapt to whatever their circumstances are at any given time.

It gives them a very realistic view of how things work when it comes to running a household and staying within a budget. It’s also a great way to spend quality time with your kids while teaching them real world values they won’t learn in school.

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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