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Cheap Things to do When Kids are Out of School

trail hiking with kids

For the past couple of years, my daughter’s elementary school has dedicated two Fridays per month as teacher work days, meaning no school for kids. I am lucky that my schedule is flexible enough that I’ve been able to take all those days off from work. Instead of sitting around the house, I decided we would get out and explore, thus Field Trip Friday was born. Last year, I had one additional kid whose Mom had to work those Fridays. This year, I picked up two more for a total of four kids ranging in age from 6-9. I have been on the hunt for low cost or free things to keep them entertained and to insure that my house remains intact. Luckily there are lots of fun, cheap things to do when kids are out of school. Spend Time Outdoors What we don’t have in big city amenities, our rural area makes up for in outdoor activities. For our first field trip of the year, we hiked the Geyser Trail to Colorado’s only natural geyser. All the kids had done the trail before, so it was familiar and easy terrain. They made up an elaborate game where the girls ...

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Save on Back to School Shopping

back to school shopping

  I can’t believe it’s already time to think about back to school, but sticking my head in the sand about the impending start of the school year does nothing to help us get prepared. Last year the average family spent almost $700 on back to school costs. Unless your kid requires a computer, I don’t believe it’s necessary or wise to spend that much. Before heading out to stock up on school supplies, take some time to prepare. There are tons of ways to save on back to school shopping. Look Around the House for Functional School Supplies Once you obtain the necessary school supply list, take a look around the house. It’s tempting to pick up the list from the store and throw everything in the cart that same day, but there is a good chance you don’t need to buy everything new. We were able to find an unused glue stick, some markers, folders, scissors, rulers, notebooks, and plenty of paper towels and tissues. Our PE shoes from last year still fit, so that’s a nice savings. Kids also don’t need new backpacks and lunch boxes every year. We will be using our same backpack from 1st ...

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Which 529 Plan Is The Best?

choosing a 529 plan

I think I can speak for most parents when I say that we want our children to have a better life with less struggle than we had as children and young adults. By no means have I had a rough life, but there are some things that weren’t available to me or that my parents didn’t know how to provide that I would love to give to my daughter. One of those gifts is financial help with a college education. I think the best way to save for higher education is with a 529 college savings account, but which 529 plan is the best? What Are 529 Plans? 529 plans are similar to Health Savings Accounts except the money is used for college expenses instead of health care. You don’t get any immediate federal tax breaks, but money contributed to eligible plans earns interest and can be withdrawn, tax free, if it’s used for tuition, fees, books, room and board, or other qualified education expenses. There are two basic types of 529 plans. Self directed plans allow you to use contributions toward any accredited college or eligible education institution. Prepaid tuition plans allow parents to pay today’s dollars for future ...

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Cheap Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer

ways families can enjoy summer for little money

The last day of school might be the most exciting day of the year for many kids. I can even remember how happy I was as a kid to be released on that final day; no more schedules, no getting up early, and no homework. It was really fun, for about a week. Then parents start to hear the dreaded words, “I’m bored.” I’ve worked hard to be able to have lots of time off to spend with my daughter this summer, and I want to make the best of it.  Luckily kids are pretty easily entertained and there are lots of fun, cheap things you can do with your kids this summer. Get Outside No matter where you live, summer provides the perfect time to get outside. When I was younger, my Mom shoved me out the door in the morning and didn’t expect to hear back from me until lunch. That doesn’t work as well in today’s world, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of free outdoor ideas to keep kids entertained, under your supervision, of course. Plant a Garden Kids love to watch things grow, and even little ones are old enough to water and ...

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How Do You Tell Your Kid a Minimum Wage Job Is a Bad Idea?

struggles of minimum wage jobs

We all know that people who work minimum wage almost always get the shaft. Either from low income, no sick days, or companies sending jobs overseas because someone in Laos will work for 10 cents an hour, employees who work in low wage jobs face more struggles than those with higher earning potential. As my daughter grows and gets more curious about the word, I am finding myself having to answer a harder and broader range of questions.  Recently, I’ve had to explain what the tampon machine in the public restroom was for, and I’ve had to offer comments on many a tattoo we’ve unfortunately seen in the swimming pool locker room. However, I was a bit stumped last week when she asked me if being a cashier at the grocery store was a good job. How do you tell your kid a minimum wage job is a bad idea? Blue Collar Roots My first knee jerk reaction when she asked about the cashier job was to say “NOOOOOO Way!” but am I being a snob? My Mom worked as a grocery store cashier for years when I was a kid. I know it caused her all sorts of back ...

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