Monday, November 29, 2010

Saver or Spender? - PASS week seven

My fourteen-year-old, Savannah has always been a saver. She saves all her money from birthday presents and allowance. She doesn't usually save for anything in particular; she just kind of tucks it away for future use. When a movie comes out that she really wants to see, she knows she'll have the money to buy a ticket, or when she sees a shirt she wants to buy, she knows she'll have the cash to purchase it because she doesn't spend frivolously on everything that comes her way.

My twelve-year-old, Jackson, on the other hand, well, let's just say that money burns a hole in his pocket. If he's got a dollar, he's got to find something to spend it on. Immediately! It doesn't matter what it is; he's just got to spend that money.

If being a mom of six has taught me one thing, it's that all kids (and adults too) are different. Like most folks tend to be either night or morning people, I think most individuals are also programmed to be savers or spenders. However, even spenders can learn how to save.

Jackson is slowly learning how to save for things that he wants. It goes against his nature, but he's learning that saving can be rewarding. He recently saved up for an iPod. It took him a year to save enough, but he managed. What can help your teens (and even younger kids) save is a chart. When charities do fundraisers, they set their goals and draw a chart that they color in as their funds get higher and higher. It's nice to have that visual reminder of how far you've come and how much farther you have to go in order to reach your savings goal. My teens like going online and seeing how much they're accumulating on their PASS cards. It's a convenient way to keep track and have that visual reminder of how much is being saved.

As an adult, I don't save for particular things I want so much as I save for a "rainy day". You just never know when your car's going to break down, your furnace is going to go out, or your washing machine is going to start hopping across the floor, spewing suds everywhere. It's nice to have that little cushion of money tucked away for those unexpected expenses that have a way of surfacing.

How do you encourage your teens to save? What ideas do you use to make saving money a little less painful? What kinds of things do your teens save up to buy? Join in the discussion here!

I am working with American Express on this project. As always, I'm writing my honest accounts and opinions.

photo from alancleaver_2000's Flickr stream

Decorative Picture Pillow with Canon

I was given a Canon PIXMA MG6120 printer (that’s a mouthful. I prefer to simply call it “awesome”) to try out. It’s a very cool, sleek-looking printer, and it’s wireless which is totally awesome because the space under my desk already looks like a huge tangle of snakes. Who needs anymore cables and wires, right?

One of the coolest things about this printer is how it works with Canon PowerShot or EOS cameras. It has Full HD Movie Print software which enables you to easily freeze the perfect frame of video footage and print a picture from it. Have you ever watched a home movie and thought, ‘Man, I wish I had a photo of this!’ ? I’m forever juggling my video camera and still camera, trying to get both the perfect pictures and great video of the kids. This printer is very cool for just this reason. Although the Canon PowerShot will never replace my SLR camera, it is kinda cool because it’s so tiny. It’s the size of a cell phone so I keep it in my purse all the time, just in case one of the kids does something like shove a carrot up his nose and I must capture it on film.

This printer is user-friendly and super-easy to use. It takes individual ink cartridges which saves you money because you only have to replace the individual color cartridge that’s empty instead of a whole, big one. And not only can you print great, clear, full-color photos with this printer, but you can use it for a variety of cool craft projects. I lack the Martha Stewart gene so I’m incapable of making anything crafty, but I received a pillow with a picture of my kids on it, printed with the Canon PIXMA MG6120 printer. If you have the ability to do something crafty, you must watch this video with the instructions! These would make awesome Christmas presents!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Spending - PASS week six

I just realized that Christmas is like a month away! We have just over a month to get ready! Eek! Thinking about Christmas shopping got me wondering how you handle this with your teens? Are your teens responsible for buying gifts for family members? Do you give them money to use? Do they use their own money? Do you exchange gifts with multiple family members or do you draw names and have only person to buy for?

In years past, I've done all the shopping for everyone. This year, being a newly single mom to six kids in this economy, things are going to be different. This year, I'm stressing the meaning of the season. We're talking about the joy of spending time with family. We're remembering that the thought behind the gift is what is important.

I've enlisted my teens to help me come up with gift ideas for our family and friends that won't cost a lot of money and will be fun to put together. I've also asked my teens to help talk the little kids out of their I NEED Everything I See on TV attitudes. And finally, I keeping making sure that everyone in my family remembers those less fortunate. We recently got together with friends and packed shoeboxes full of gifts for Operation Christmas Child. The kids had fun picking out toys and items that will benefit children who have nothing. And hopefully, the lesson that we don't need to spend tons of money that we don't have in order to have a nice Christmas sunk in.

What do you do to keep holiday spending in check? How do you install this in your teens? Share your thoughts here!

I am working with American Express on this project. As always, I'm writing my honest accounts and opinions.

photo from alancleaver_2000's photostream

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Peapod Delivers!

I love Chicago. I love everything about this city. Except the weather. I hate the weather. I loathe it. I detest it. And the thing I hate most about the weather is driving to the grocery store in it. Not only does it suck to drive in snow, but pushing a cart through a slushy parking lot, loading grocery bags into my van while my fingers are numb and then UNloading everything when I get home and trudging slush into my house with every trip from my van is the worst. Since I have six kids and, for some reason, they think they need to eat every day, I have a lot of groceries and have to make a lot of trips from the car to the house. By the time I’m done, my snot is frozen, my hands are numb, and I can’t feel the lower half of my body.

Enter Peapod. With Peapod, I do my grocery shopping online in my nice, warm house. It is SO easy! And after your first order, it’s even easier because your list is saved online and you can use that basic list of items you frequently buy and just add and subtract anything you want to change. If you have any special needs, you can shop from a narrowed down list of products, for example, a gluten-free list, a peanut-free list, or a Weight Watchers list. It’s really awesome!

And after you’ve searched through Peapod’s sales and you’ve compiled your shopping order, you select the day and time frame in which you want your items delivered. Then voila, like magic, the guy shows up at your door with everything neatly bagged, like items put together, ice cream still frozen solid, bread unsquished, produce fresh as can be. All you have to do is open the door so the delivery person can set your bags on the table for you, and then put the food away. (Unless you’re like me and your kids eat it before you can even unbag it.)

I had the opportunity to tour the facility with Tony Stark. Tony is the authority on produce! This guy knows his stuff. In fact, he explained to us why Peapod has several separate refrigerated sections, each with their own climate control, for the fresh produce alone. People are afraid to let someone else pick out their produce for them. They feel the need to look at, smell, and squish each piece of fruit and they think that they’ll end up with brown, mushy bananas if they let someone else pick out their produce for them. Wrong! I’ve ordered from Peapod many times and I’ve always gotten better produce than what I find at my local grocery stores. ALWAYS!

Peapod has many of their own foods too. I had the chance to try their guacamole (among other things) and ohmygosh, it was the best guacamole I’ve ever had. YUM!

And the best part, of course, is that you never have to set foot out in the cold, snowy, nastiness that is Chicago in the winter. It all comes to you! Want to give Peapod a try? Now you can save $5 when you spend $20 on Thanksgiving Staples. Just in time for Thanksgiving you can stock up on the random things you might need - like spices, herbs, broth and sides. Save $5 when you spend $20 on select Thanksgiving staples.

All you have to do is:
Add $20 in select items to your cart
Choose the delivery day and time that works for you
Enter PPFAN28 when you check out.

This offer only lasts until 11/21, can only be used once per order and cannot be combined with any other offers. You have nothing to lose! Try them and you’ll be hooked. You’ll wonder why you waited so long to give Peapod a shot and you won’t want to go back to shopping the old fashioned way.