Theme Week: The Debt Diet

coins-912716_640If December is all about excess and over-indulging, January is its introverted cousin.  Multi-course dinners, swanky parties and glittery packages are replaced by quiet nights and a return to the humdrum routine of winter.  For many, our waistlines take as much of a hit as our wallets over the holiday season and January offers a time to re-set expectations and trim the fat: literally and financially.

Years ago I discovered Happy Simple Living, where blogger Eliza writes about all things family with an emphasis on simpler living, sustainability and the green movement.  Every January she runs a series called January Money Diet where she assigns homework with a goal: save money and reduce spending while consciously considering the impact of your choices on your family and the environment.  For example, the homework for day 6 is to sell something that is no longer of use to your family and put that money towards paying off your debt (or deposit into a savings account).  Day 4 is a culinary challenge that encourages followers to cook double the amount and freeze half for a future meal.

This week 4Mothers will explore the idea of a debt diet.  Is tightening the purse strings even necessary if you’re conscientious all year?  How do you save money?  Where do you pinch your pennies?  What are your favourite money-saving tips?

Our friend and guest blogger Kelly Quinn, the mother of two daughters living in Ottawa, will join the conversation.  See one of her previous posts for us on her electricity bill.

Join the conversation by leaving a comment and let the 4Mothers community know what you think!

Money Management for Kids on Holiday

My husband and I love our long drives to get to our holiday destinations.  With the kids asleep or plugged into a movie, we get huge stretches of time to talk, plan and dream.  Of course, most of our time we spend talking about the kids.

On our way to Chicago for March Break, one of the things we discussed was how to prevent the Gift Store Struggle.  You know the one: you have a great time at a museum, then the kids hit the gift store and go a bit wacko wanting to buy all manner of junk just because it’s on sale in a handy location.  With plans to go to seven museums in five days, I did not want to face this struggle more than once a day. 

Here is the solution we came up with: the kids would get to roam free in each and every gift shop, explore all that was on offer, and make a list of their favourite things.  At the end of the trip, we would save time to go back and buy the one thing that they wanted the most.  This also meant that they could get one substantial gift, rather than several little things. 

The kids were fully on board and it worked wonderfully!  They loved wandering through the gift stores, they did not once pester us for an instant gratification purchase, and they’d enthusiastically compare notes at the end of the day.  (Now, we still bought them baseball caps, t-shirts and books of our own accord.  This satisfied my sense of an appropriate souvenir, so the plan saved us from daily struggles but not from a bulging suitcase.) 

No hassle, shopping autonomy, and big smiles all around.