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Teaching Your Kids About Money

Do your kids know that money doesn’t grow on trees? Here are some helpful tips for each age group.

You don’t have to wait until your kids are teenagers. You can start talking to them about the basics of money as early as preschool. Here are some tips about how to talk to your kids about money at any age:

  • From ages three to five you can teach kids that money can be exchanged for things. Explain to them the difference between pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.
  • From ages five to nine you can start giving them an allowance. This is also a good time to explain bank accounts and what it means when a bank account earns interest.
  • From ages nine to 13 you can help them open a savings account. Encourage them to save their allowance towards a goal (a new toy or a DVD). You might even consider setting up a matching savings plan like most companies do with a 401(k). This is also a good time to start talking to them about the idea of keeping a minimum balance based on the savings account requirement. You can also introduce the concept of keeping savings in case of emergency. Even though they won’t need to pay for an emergency at such a young age, you can explain the importance of keeping a nest egg.
  • From ages 13 to 15 you can expand your children’s allowance to include more expensive items like clothes or gifts for friends. This is also a good time to introduce entrepreneurship. Encourage your kids to earn their own money with jobs for neighbors and friends.  Arrange for them to have an ATM card so they can withdraw money from their savings account.
  • From ages 15 to 18 and up you can help your children open a checking account with a debit card. Teach them how to manage their account online or with mobile banking. You can even go old school and show them how to use a check register. This is also a good time to talk fiscal responsibility about when they go off to college. Be very clear about what expenses you will pay for which ones they will cover.
Explaining money management to your kids can start out with something as simple as giving them an allowance. If you talk to them regularly, teach by your own fiscally responsible example and give them the right tools, you will do more than teach them about money basics. You will instill in them a respect for earning and saving money that will hopefully set them on a path to being financially independent and responsible in adulthood.

Tips And Tricks For Horseback Riding

Horse riding is a pleasant activity for many, although it can be tricky until you get used to it. That is why we have decided to share this guest article with a few tips that should make things a lot easier for you, or at least give you some basic guidelines. If you are a beginner when it comes to horseback riding, then this article will definitely prove to be helpful. Let’s get started.

Photo by Sarah Bedu on Unsplash
A bit of theory
If you want to educate yourself about this topic, you should know that horseback riding has existed for thousands of years, and the first time it happened was around 3500 BCE. Even after cars were invented, horse riding continued to exist as a hobby.

There are two horseback riding styles: Western and English. The difference between these two is the fact that they use different equipment. As a consequence of that, the rider has a different posture and it will interact with the horse in a different way.

Western saddles are larger and more comfortable and that is because they were originally used by cowboys for their long rides. This means that they are more stable and the seat is a deep one. On the other hand, English riding comes with a smaller equipment. While it might be less comfortable, it also creates a closer contact between the horse and the rider.

Plan ahead
Once you have decided you are going to try horse riding, you should look for the right stable. You can find out which are the best stables by taking a look at It is important to find a reputable stable, and that is because you want to practice in a safe environment that has trained instructors.

After you find the right place, you should prepare your clothing. You must wear long pants so that you can protect them against the saddle. Close-toed shoes are also a must, otherwise your feet might slip out. Make sure that clothes are simple enough and they won’t cause any accidents. For example, a scarf might get tangled up in your equipment and this is something that you want to avoid.
Photo by Gert Boers on Unsplash
Getting along with your horse
It is important to create a bond between you and your horse. You should try spending some time with it before you begin riding. When you approach it for the first time make sure that you don’t move too fast. You should also try approaching them from one side.

Check your equipment
Before you start riding you should make sure that your equipment is placed into place. Your saddle should be stable enough and you should make sure that it won’t slide while you are riding the horse. The bridle straps should also be tight.

Getting on the horse proves to be the biggest challenge for most beginners. For amateurs there are mounting blocks that will help you get on the horse with no problems. They look like a small set of stairs and all you have to do it to climb that block and get on the horse.

We hope these tips will help you if you are considering taking horseback riding lessons in the near future. Have a great week! 
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Why Getting A Pet Might Be The Best Thing You Do For Your Children

If you have children, one of your top priorities is going to be making sure they are happy and healthy as they grow. Did you know that getting a pet for them might be one of the best things you decide to do? Here’s why!

Your Kids Get Added Responsibility
When you get a pet, assuming you’re not going to do absolutely every chore, your kids will have added responsibility. They’ll have something else to think about, other than themselves. This can be really good for them. It can help them to grow up a little, and make them more willing to help with other things around the house. Whether you give them the task of administering Capstar meds or helping your pet to get some exercise, having more responsibility is good for them. Eventually, they’ll enjoy caring for the pet and be more than willing to help out, even without you asking them.

Increased Confidence And Self Esteem
As your kids have added responsibility, they’ll also have more confidence and self esteem. They’ll realize that they’re capable of things they may never have realized before. Scientific studies have also proven that kids with pets have more confidence and self esteem than those without. This could be down to the unconditional love, constant companionship, and other benefits pets can offer. Whatever the reason, giving your kids all of this confidence can only be a good thing!

Quicker Development
Kids who curled up and read with their pets show quicker development than kids who read alone. Your kids can improve many of their skills by having a pet to love and look after!

photo credit

Getting Them To Stay Active
A pet can encourage your kids to stay active. A dog is one of the best choice for active kids; they can go on walks with them, play catch with them, and teach them tricks. However, other kinds of pets can keep your kids active too. Your kids can play with guinea pigs in the garden, and teach rats tricks. There are all kinds of pets that require exercise and stimulation. 

Help Your Kids Become Less Anxious And Withdrawn
If your child is shy, anxious, withdrawn, and showing similar traits, a pet can help to reduce these. In studies, pets really helped shy, nervous children to come out of their shells. Having a dog as a full time companion could be just what your anxious child needs to give them more confidence and make them happier. However, another pet could prove to be just as beneficial. 

Turn Them Into Compassionate, Well Rounded Humans 
Overall, a pet will help to turn your children into compassionate, well-rounded humans. Not that they wouldn’t have turned out great with your guidance, but a pet can supercharge the results! If you want your children to turn into well-rounded, confident, intelligent, caring adults, then a pet is a great idea! 

Do you think getting a pet is a good idea for your children? What kind of pet are you considering? Leave your thoughts below! 

From The Kid Files- The Old Man Child

If you have been connected to me through this blog or social media, you might know about the chronicles of the old man child. William is turning 9 this month, but is truly a 70 year-old man trapped in a child's body. This kid has an old soul and every day is an adventure with him. I have to mentally prepare myself each morning before he wakes up to deal with his lectures and old man chatter. 

We had to go to Urgent Care the other day for both William and his big sister. They both had been sick and shared an appointment. First of all, Brie was the one who was having symptoms of the flu. Mr. Man only had a sore throat, but I didn't want to take any chances. When we got called back to do vitals, William was up first and when asked any questions, he answered in real old man style. He was questioned about his overall health and before I (as his MOTHER) could say a word, he put his hand up to speak on his own behalf. He explained to the nurse that he eats only healthy foods and no candy or junk food. The nurse's eyes got so big as if he was saying, "Excuuuuse the #(@% outta me" 😅

Again, his sister was the one who was ailing with a 103.5 temperature and the whole time she was being checked out, William had his hand over his mouth as he shook his head. So why did this child decide that he needed to be the one to take the examining table? And how do you all like the arm positioning? 

The doctor did an examination on the man child and determined that he had an ear infection. William then questions the doctor asking him how it's possible that he came in with a sore throat and has no ear pain, and ended up with an ear infection. He then asks the doctor, "Will you please explain this to me in detail?" 😐 The doctor looked at him with a smile and said, "You sound like my grandpa". I cracked up! Yep, even the doctor recognized the old man in him. 

Back up 2 weeks ago, William had an episode where he broke out in hives all over his body. I went over every single thing he ate, where he has been, if I washed clothes in anything different, or any changes at all that could have caused it. When he took Benedryl, it would disappear and thankfully was a 24-hour thing. William mentioned it to the doctor and was told it was either an allergic reaction or stress. The doctor smiled again and said, "I wouldn't be surprised if it was stress". He was right. William had been very worried about me in regards to a death in the family, and he wouldn't stop checking on me to make sure I was okay. He would even go the the extent of asking, "Are you sure you're okay, or are you lying to protect my feelings?" Ummm, what child even thinks to say that? Oh yeah, an old man child! 

William keeps me in check every day. His old man antics are a part of who he is. I'm glad he is home schooled, because his behavior is unlike any child you will ever meet. Any adult who has ever met him would agree. Thank you so much for stopping by. 💜

Home Cleaning as a Life Lesson for Kids

Home cleaning can be both a blessing and a trial, especially if children are involved. But what you have never thought of is making your kids a part of the home cleaning process and making it both productive and fun for all parties involved. Kids can despise cleaning, yes, especially since it goes against everything they are investing every single waking moment in: making messes and not cleaning up after themselves. But when it comes to the greater good, you should try and make them compromise for the one cleaning and help you with it – and the results can be uncanny.

One way to get children really invested in helping you get the home clean is giving them roles. Make it a game for them, have them do assignments and give them rewards – this is how they spend their video game time, so they should be accustomed to doing it, but only this time their own imagination will be in charge of keeping them entertained. Give your son “missions” and your daughter “responsibilities” and see how they change and act their parts to fulfil the given assignment.

You can combine the roleplay with actual costumes! Kids will love to really pretend to be in other people’s shoes. One of kids’ best pastime is pretending they are adults, so give them adult roles and adult clothes and see how they will do their best to play out the role of their lives. Don’t underestimate the power of their imagination and how it can stimulate them to do real chores with actual desire.

Teaching Responsibility
The house cleaning can be a very good way to introduce the children to adult life and show them why doing what they are doing is important. Don’t treat them as kids, treat them as learning adults and explain how if the floor is not vacuumed, the house will be consumed in dust mites that carry diseases and spoil the quality of life in the house. Give them reasons to resent dirt and reasons to actually want the place to be clean. When a kid wants something, you know that the kid will get it, even if it has to do it itself. Also, the earlier the child starts getting used to chores, the less complaining there will be once it starts growing up, and not to mention that much more work will be actually done – imagine all the responsibilities that will be taken off your own hands!

Cleaning the house can show your kids what to expect one day when they are away from home, away from mommy’s cleaning services, and it will be up to them to keep their surroundings dirt-free. It is a life lesson like any other, but if you get them invested successfully, then you will soon have not children, but small adults running around, helping you around the house, full of desire to learn. Teach them enough and one day you will be able to sleep peacefully at night, certain that they will be able to take care of themselves.

Read more helpful cleaning related tips on: Notting Hill Cleaner Ltd.

How teens are giving our community a little H.O.P.E. this holiday season

My high school daughter, Briahnna is one very busy student. She is involved in two magnet programs at school and takes all honors/IB courses. She is the sport's editor of her yearbook and is also involved in the Youth Action Council as well as H.O.P.E.. HOPE stands for Helping Other People Everywhere. The HOPE organization at her school collects coats, unwrapped toys and non-perishable food items for needy families in the community. Each year the HOPE chair sets a goal on how many food items they want to collect. The goal this year is over 20,000. Being involved in HOPE means that you have to sacrifice time on the weekends as well as after school. That is very hard with Briahnna's demanding courses, but she manages to get the job done! They have students volunteer for a time slot to collect food donations in front of grocery stores that have given them permission to do so. It's a win-win since the store will sell the items that end up being donated and the teens are able to have a secure place for collections.

As a family, we all pitch in and help where we can. I have volunteered to help purchase food items with any money they collect, since I know how to stretch a buck! Briahnna and a couple of her team members set up in front of Sam's Club last weekend and just in their 2-hour shift, they FILLED my very large car trunk and part of the back seat with so many donations! We helped her to get the items to the storage unit on the school campus to be sorted when they got back to school that following week.
I am so proud of Briahnna and her fellow HOPE team members for all of the time they are putting in to help others. Brie has really been enjoying herself despite having to wake up early some Saturday mornings. She is very passionate about this worthy cause.
We have used this time to explain how important it is to help others to little William. He really enjoyed helping to bring items into the food storage unit. He was sad when he learned that there are so many families who don't have a lot of food in their home. He was devastated when he found out that some kids may not get any toys for Christmas. I love that he is understanding it as much as a five year old can.
HOPE will collect food donations until the second week of December. They are already off to such an amazing start and I anticipate they will make their goal. All of the coats, food and toys will be delivered to a local food bank to distribute to needy families in our community. I look forward to attending the unveiling of all their hard work at the HOPE Assembly next month. I will be sure to post an update.

Saving Money on Teaching Your Kids How to Play Music

Parents know just how beneficial it can be for their children to learn how to play a musical instrument. Once the costs start adding up, however, it becomes clear just how expensive it can be as well. Between buying an instrument and paying for lessons, music can be far more costly a hobby than it might appear at face value.

The fact is, there are plenty of ways in which you can help your child to learn how to sing or play an instrument without going broke in the process, some of which are more apparent than you might think.

Shop for Used Instruments

The initial costs associated with learning how to play an instrument can be staggering. Even beginner instruments can range in the thousands of dollars when purchased new, and it's an awfully large investment to make when you aren't positive whether or not your child will continue to be interested in playing as time goes on. One way to lessen the blow to your bank account when shopping for an instrument is to consider buying used. Used instruments are perfect for beginners, as they allow novice musicians to get a feel for learning how to play without having to plunk down a great deal of money up-front. When shopping for used instruments, be sure to work with a reputable dealer who will be able to provide you with the right options; Craigslist and eBay should be avoided unless you are well-versed on instrument buying.

Take to the Internet

Paying for lessons can be excessively expensive over time. Since most instructors like to see their students once per week, you can expect to spend anywhere between $80 and $160 per month on music lessons for your child alone if you take the traditional route. The Internet, however, has made learning how to play music far less expensive and more accessible to those who are on a tight budget. Online guitar tutorials, theory lessons and more can be found for free or cheap on the Internet, and allow your child to work at his or her own pace. You can even create your own program for your child if you have a fair amount of knowledge about playing music yourself by pulling together information found on the web and tailoring it to their interests in ways that are not often seen in a traditional instruction format.

Go to Free Concerts

As with anything else in life, there's no substitute for real-world experience. You can spend hours in a practice room, but it'll be extremely difficult to learn the finer points of live performance without going to concerts regularly. Concerts can be expensive, however, and sometimes they aren't suitable for children. On the other hand, just about every fair-sized city offers a free concert series during the summer, with genres ranging from pop to rock to classical. Taking your children to one free concert per week is a great way to help them internalize what it is to be a performing musician - something they're not likely to learn while practicing at home. Contact your local town hall for more information on free concerts that are scheduled in your area.

While helping your child learn to play music can be a costly venture, it doesn't have to be if you take the right approach.


I remember hating when people would tell me I looked so young

I can remember my teenage years so well. I was always the smallest of my peers weighing no more than 92 pounds in my senior year. It bothered me that no matter how much I would eat, I still looked scrawny. Even worse than being so small was the fact that adults often thought I was 12. That used to make me so angry to the point of tears. I remember when everyone thought my younger sister was older than me. Talk about devastation!

I was 20 when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I remember the stares I received from people and often heard them say "babies having babies". I was married and old enough to have a child, yet people still assumed I was 14. I hated looking so young. When would anyone take me seriously? For years after, folks would ask if my daughters were my younger sisters or if I was the babysitter. I was always the "young mom" at the girls' elementary and middle school. I felt so left out. Years later I come to find out that a lot of those moms were very close to my age and some were even younger!

Fast forward to the present... I am 39 years old and I thoroughly enjoy when nobody believes that I have three kids and the fact that two of them are teens! I have to tell other moms I know that are going through the same thing how much they will appreciate being "too youthful looking" when they get older. So now my 18 year old daughter is going through the same thing I did. Most people think she is 14 and gets mistaken as the younger sister to her little sister. I keep telling her that it is a good thing to look so young. She hates it. In due time she will learn.  
Shelly, Mom Files

Why hydration is important

I made the most ridiculous mistake this weekend when my family went away on a getaway. I knowingly did not drink any water (besides maybe a few ounces) for about 3 days. As a matter of fact, I pretty much didn't drink a lot in general on those days. I normally drink a minimum of 60+ ounces of water daily. My body totally showed me how bad I had been. I suffered from several muscle spasms in my feet and a lot of aches and pains throughout my body. I got so consumed in all the activity that was going on and the weather was unusually cool, so I completely neglected to hydrate like I should have. I think being at an indoor water park made me not think about being thirsty. Needless to say, I had to get back into the practice of proper water consumption and have incorporated a banana and 2 servings of orange juice into my daily diet. I have learned my lesson, the hard way. I will do my best to never make that mistake again!

Does your body do crazy things when your diet is off?

Shelly, Mom Files

I'm a mom and I lie

Today I was on the phone chatting with my buddy and of course that gives William the idea that he doesn't need to listen to me. I told him he needed to complete his map puzzle so that we could put it back where it belonged. He decided to stack the pieces and ignore me. I told him I was on the phone with his dad and said that daddy needs him to pack his puzzle away right now. Do you know the boy sprung into action immediately?! I asked him to pack the puzzle up several times with no luck. Here I go and say his dad says to do it and the job was done in a matter of minutes. Hmmph! Oh well, I guess it is good that he fears his dad and knows he better do what is expected of him or else he will have to suffer the consequences. Although I don't make it a habit to lie to my children, I do what I have to when the need comes about. It is so important for dads to discipline their sons. Like I always say, only a man can teach a boy how to be a man. I'm lucky to have such a fantastic husband to do just that with our son.

Do you lie to your kids when you need to?

Shelly, Mom Files

Run your family like a business

Our family schedules a family meeting once per month. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss everything that pertains to our household including short and long-term goals, finances, as well as needs for each person. These meetings are a forum for each family member to voice their concerns on anything and everything. Each person takes a turn to speak on a particular section of our list. These things include: A recap of the last month, personal goals and family goals for the next month/next quarter, also if you need something (supplies, haircuts etc..). I am the note keeper for the meetings and I type up the "minutes" just as any business or committee would do. At the beginning of the next meeting each person will receive a copy of these minutes almost as a road map for that meeting. These meetings have really kept us on track as a family and is essential to our growth. Now don't get me wrong, there are some months that we have to cancel or reschedule a meeting and we really get thrown off. We do our best to catch back up and take it from there. We really try to run our family like a business so that we can teach our children the importance of communication within their family. I know that the girls get so disgusted and bored with it but at least they know they are a part of a caring family unit.

Do you have any type of family meeting in your household?
Shelly, Mom Files

Thrive Time for Teens Review (family style)

A couple weeks ago we received a board game called Thrive Time for Teens to review. This was perfect since we have 2 teen daughters. Thrive Time for Teens is a game geared toward teaching teens about financial responsibility in a fun way. This game involves real-life scenarios such as going to college, buying a car, giving to charity, paying monthly expenses and even starting a business.We sat down together at the dining table (snacks and all) to play the game for ourselves. Everyone had a financial tracking sheet to document everything along the way.

I will admit that it was a bit confusing at first so we suggest you read the instructions fully to understand the game better. The girls were amazed when they had to use their credit card to pay for things that they did not always have to cash for. I think they were not crazy about having so much debt! You really had to make some tough decisions about things that can impact your finances. My husband and I really enjoyed playing this game with our children. The game truly allowed our girls to learn financial concepts in a fun way instead of the typical parent lecture...believe me, the girls are happy to get out of any of daddy's lectures any way they can!!

Here's what the girls had to say:

Briahnna (age 13): "I really enjoyed this game and how it is so much like real life. I'll definitely play this game again!"

Chardonnay (age 15): "I like the game a lot. It's a great way to teach one to manage money. It's something they don't teach in school so this is a great way to learn and I love it."

Thrive Time for Teens can be purchased online for $29.99. It makes a great gift for birthdays and holidays. You can also donate a game to your favorite organization as a way of giving back to your community. We plan to play again over the long weekend. Our family would recommend this game for sure and we hope you will check it out.

Disclosure: We received a free game for review purposes and no other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% our own.

Shelly, Mom Files

ABC Genius!

Each and every day our little William is absorbing so much information and is broadening his speech. He has gotten to the point that he can tell you what any letter of the alphabet is without it being in alphabetical order. He loves doing his daily lessons and cheers and claps for himself when he knows he has done a good job. I wish I had a proper video to post but if you have a toddler then you understand how hard it is to get them to sit still for more than 5 seconds. William is thriving and is showing signs of maturity by listening a little better and trying to make better choices. The evil mom "look" is finally working on him. I have to say that he has been really well behaved in the past month and is a lot easier to look after. I know they go through phases so I will enjoy it while I can! Perhaps we are slowly moving out of the terrible two's stage? I guess time will tell.

Shelly, Mom Files

Preschool or not?

I was talking to my daughters and we were talking about William going to school. We refer to kindergarten as the start of school since neither of the girls went to preschool. They were telling me that out of all their friends, they were the only ones that never attended preschool before kindergarten. I have thought about what I will do with William. Currently my decision is to teach him at home and not put him in preschool. It worked with the girls and since I am a stay-at-home mom indefinitely then I don't see why I need to do it. I almost seem to be an outcast since I am the only mom I know that has never done the daycare/preschool thing prior to kindergarten. If I'm home I don't see the need to spend the money if I can teach my child one-on-one. We have the park/zoo/library at hand for the social part. What do you think? What did you do with your little one?

Shelly, Mom Files

He finally gets it!

It is really exciting to see how much little William is flourishing with his vocabulary. The neat thing is seeing him interact with others as well as the TV. Yes, I do let him watch TV but only Nick Jr. and PBS Kids. I won't let him watch anything with commercials and of course there are limits to how much he gets to watch. I love seeing him follow the lessons that Moose and Zee teach in between programs. He is really into his letters and numbers and is starting to memorize them in order! He also like to point out everything and tell you 10 times what it is. He is becoming a chatterbox and I love it. It gets me excited to know that all I teach him is sinking in and he really does get it!~
Shelly, Mom Files

This really makes me mad

Why in the world does William not listen to me? If Dwayne is around William dares not to try any stupid stuff. The boy will look around the corner to be sure Papo is not around if he is about to do something. When I am reprimanding his butt he looks at his dad the whole time. It really makes me mad because I spend all my time and energy on him. I can tell him "NO" fifty thousand times and it is irrelevant. Papo tells him once and that is all it takes. It really makes me feel so powerless and weak on days that I feel like I am screaming and yelling to make him listen. Ugh, it's been one of those mornings already :(
Shelly, Mom Files

Tardiness troubles me

I am a stickler for being on time. I don't think there are more than a few instances that I have actually been late (with good reason). Even being 1 minute over the time I am supposed to be somewhere puts me in that "late" category. That would bother me. I take time to prepare myself even for the smallest event to ensure that I am at least 5-10 minutes early. I am the example to my children so I have pounded into them the importance of being on time. They know that being late is a sign of disrespect and shows others that you do not care to be there. The girls are very diligent about preparing for the next day and their nerves go awry at the thought of being late. Punctual parents make punctual kids. I know some people, actually a lot of people who almost brag about how late they are running on a daily basis. If you know you have some place to be at a specific time (well in advance) then what is the excuse? Our kids watch us closely...
Shelly, Mom Files
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