July 23

5 Free Things To Do With Your Kids This Weekend

imageIs it just me or does summer seem to last longer every year? I always seem to run out of things to do to keep the kids entertained sometime in July, so this year I was determined to keep back a few ideas for late summer! If you are like our family, money for extra activities gets a little scarce around this time, too, so I decided to share a few of my secret weapons to battle summer boredom. Beware, some of these activities may cause you to get wet, or have fun, or both!

Backyard waterpark
This is by far my kids’ favorite activity! We have kiddie pools and sprinklers that we bought last year or even earlier, but if you don’t have these don’t worry…a garden hose works just as well! Grab clean spray bottles, sponges, buckets and every water pistol you can get your hands on. Create stations around the back yard for different events and get creative with whatever you have.

*Fill buckets with water and put sponges in, then place the wet sponges on your head and race your kids, trying to keep the sponge from falling off.
*Set up paper plate targets and blast them with water pistols. Prizes make the game way more fun, so give out little trinkets to the winners!
*No sprinkler, no problem! Let the tallest person in the family stand in the middle of everyone else and become a human sprinkler by placing their thumb over the end of a garden hose. Move the hose around in the air and, voila! Instant water fun!

Library

I won’t lie, this is my FAVORITE go-to for summer fun! Of course, every library has different resources depending upon where you live, but here’s a sample of what our local library offers.

*DVDs and CDs you can borrow for FREE. Movie day, anyone?
*Free MP3 music downloads.
*Audiobooks that are perfect for listening to with the lights out and the curtains drawn.
*Awesome summer reading program that allows kids to earn free prizes for reading. Plus, they have tons of related activities like arts and crafts projects throughout the summer. More free fun!

Of course, my favorite free thing at the library is the books! I even download ebooks from my library when I can’t get over there to get an actual book. AWESOME!!!

Picnic

Sammiches, my friend…the staple lunchtime food at my house during summer break. When I was a kid, my family would grab our cooler and head to the lake, stopping only for a loaf of bread, jar of mayo and a pack of bologna. Those were the best sandwiches ever simply because we ate them picnic style up at the lake.

Now we do the same thing, only if we can’t get to the lake we just go to the local park. It’s easy, free fun and the kids love it! Pack a few extra treats like cupcakes or cookies and just try to get them to get back in the car when it’s time to go πŸ™‚

Get Local

Check out the free local museums and attractions in your town and the surrounding area. Bonus points if you score a free museum or activity that has air conditioning! If you live in a bigger city this is probably going to be easier than if you live in a small town (like me!) but thanks to the Internet you can still find free fun in your area. Try Googling ‘free attractions’ or ‘free activities’ and your city name or zip code.

Another great way to entertain the kids is to go for a walk around your town. You see so much more on foot than you can ever experience from a car or bus! Stop and talk to people you meet, and really get to know your home town!

Camping

Did you know that you don’t even need a tent to go camping? Well, you don’t need one if you go backyard camping! Build a campfire and roast some marshmallows, then sleep out underneath the stars.

Sleeping bags on the ground are exciting for younger kids, and older ones may want to grab a lounging garden chair for something a little more comfortable.

If β€˜glamping’ is more your thing, just enjoy the campfire and then move the camp indoors. A living room floor can be just as much fun as a grassy bed, and you can snag the sofa for extra comfort!

So, there you go…five ways to have fun with your kids without spending a dime! Memories don’t cost a thing, but they are priceless when they are good ones! Go make some memories with your family today, and don’t let money stand in your way!

How do you spend time with your kids when money is an issue? Or, do you make a point to show your kids that there are lots of free ways to have fun?

July 13

Shame and Guilt

imageWe’ve all been there…standing in the checkout line at the grocery store with all your food and your credit card in hand because your bank balance is too low to pay for the groceries.

Having buyer’s remorse after using your credit card to pay for something you have tried to convince yourself that you needed, but secretly you know you don’t.

Feeling guilty that your kids aren’t going away for a vacation or that they don’t have the most popular brands of clothing.

There is nothing good about feeling shame or guilt over being broke or in debt. Unless you let it become the impetus you need to break the cycle and get your finances in shape…then it can be a painful, but useful, tool.

Now, let me clarify. I am not talking about feeling guilty that you are choosing to pay off debt instead of slapping Gucci and Nike labels on your kids’ backs; that’s just good common sense and responsible parenting.

I’m not talking about parents who ask family for help providing money for Christmas or camp or extra curricular activities that enrich your child’s life because you just don’t earn enough to cover these and put a roof over their heads. We all need a little help sometimes, and one day you’ll probably be in a position to return the favor. I hope you do!

I am talking about the guilt you feel when you spend money you know you don’t have because you are stuck in a heap of debt and you don’t know what to do.

Now, I personally don’t think that guilt and shame are ever something you should embrace, except, as I said, when it compels you to action. What is the point in feeling guilty about not earning enough money? There isn’t one…you could be a millionaire and still feel guilty about not providing something to your family, whether it’s your time or something else you feel you aren’t giving.

But, money has so much emotion attached to it. Negative emotions like shame, guilt and depression when we don’t have enough of it, and positive ones that we experience when we get a windfall or have extra for stuff we want. A lot of this has to do with society’s ingrained beliefs that life is only worth living if you have lots of stuff. We all buy into this belief from an early age, and then feel guilty when we can’t live up to the standards society has set for us. Well, that is just bullcrap.

Money is just a tool used to buy things. There are two types of ‘things’: things you need, like food, shelter and clothing, and things you want, like fancy brand name clothing and expensive toys. The key to getting a grip on the emotions associated with debt and money is to change your perspective on it.

Once you retrain your brain to realize that stuff isn’t as important as emotional freedom from guilt and shame you will find a peace like no other. It’s not easy and you’ll probably find yourself ‘relapsing’ into old thinking habits every now and then, but keep the bigger picture in mind. Financial freedom and emotional peace are worth more than any ‘stuff’ there is.

Have you ever felt guilt or shame about your finances? How did you cope with it?

July 13

Back to Work!

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Sorry I’ve been away….

I’ve been busy this week working on some things for clients and taking care of family stuff. I hate that it has been OVER A WEEK since my last confession, er, blog post! I feel like I have been drifting out there in space, LOL!

I have missed you guys and I can’t wait to post loads of helpful information for you now that I’m ‘back at work’. The irony is, I never really leave work because I am always thinking about the next post, my next freelance gig, that novel I’m working on, etc. but I love it!

I hope you all had a happy and safe Fourth of July! Now, back to work shaping up your finances! πŸ™‚

Jess

July 4

Happy Independence Day!

imageAs we celebrate America’s day of Independence, I can’t help but think of how great that other independence is. Financial independence and freedom from debt can sometimes feel like a far-off dream, but it can be a reality if you just keep at it!

I am taking this day to enjoy spending time with my family and celebrating my 16th wedding anniversary with my lovely husband. For those who don’t know, he’s from England and I’m from Georgia, so our anniversary is a little ironic, don’t you think? πŸ™‚

Have a wonderful Fourth of July! If you are reading this from another part of the world, I hope your dreams of financial independence come true, too! Or if you are facing another loss of freedom, I hope you find that independence soon, too. Sending love to all of you today!

Jess