The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

Saving Money

Family finance tips

At Gerber Life we know the value of a hard-earned dollar. And when you're raising a family, it becomes even more important to stretch that dollar as far as it can go to help you save money. Our family finance tips can help you make smart decisions for spending your money as well as help you make use of opportunities to save it. Whether it's clipping coupons before grocery shopping or throwing a do-it-yourself (DIY) children's birthday party, our family finance tips can help you think outside the box so that you can save money.

  1. This Is the Year: Financial Resolutions That Work

    November 22, 2021

    January is around the corner and now is a great time to start thinking about financial goals and better spending habits. Resolving to be better with money would put you in good company: in 2021, 30% of Americans said they set a New Year’s resolution about living more economically (Source: Statista).

    With any resolution, it’s important to be realistic about what’s achievable. The best resolutions are the ones that you can stick to for the whole year, and hopefully beyond. It also helps to focus on small positive changes to your everyday habits rather than shooting for a big goal or making huge lifestyle changes. Try resolutions with defined goals and actions.

    Here are a few of our suggestions for realistic, manageable financial resolutions for 2022:

    • Implement the 50/30/20 Budget

    Many personal finance experts advise following the 50/30/20 rule: Set aside 50 percent of your income for “needs” like housing, food and transportation, 30 percent for “wants” like streaming subscriptions or going to concerts and the remaining 20 percent towards savings. It’s a good way to see if you’re living beyond your means and making sure you’re putting money away for a rainy day. The rule might not work for every situation, but it gives you an idea of where you could be cutting expenses and how to set your budget each month.

    • Choose to Eliminate Excessive Spending

    Pick one item each month to spend less (or not spend at all) on. For example, you could stop buying coffee each morning for the first month. The next month, you could get rid of a subscription service and so on. That way, you focus on one budget item at a time and by the end of the year you’re spending less on 12 different things.

    • Putting the “Fun” Back in Fund

    Put aside a percentage of your paycheck each month to put towards something fun — a vacation, that new gadget you’ve been eyeing, etc. Make sure to track your progress and you could involve your family if you want to share the fun.

    • Rewards for Good Behavior

    The best way to keep up a good habit financial or otherwise is to recognize your milestones. Every time you put an extra $1,000 into your savings account, you could treat yourself to a dinner out. Being financially responsible doesn’t mean you can’t indulge yourself now and then.


    Do you have any financial goals for the New Year? Remember to track your progress, recognize milestones and be kind to yourself if you run into difficulties. The important thing is that you’re making positive changes and going in the right direction.

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    Categories: Saving Money
  2. 7 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays on a Budget

    October 26, 2021

    For millions of Americans, the holidays are a season of spending. In 2020, the average American household spent $998 on holiday expenses[i] like gifts, entertainment and decorations. The figures are set to be even higher in 2021, with 53% of consumers planning to increase their spending by $100 to $500.[ii] Who can blame them? We’re bombarded by ads encouraging us to spend big throughout the season and after all, we want to give memorable gifts to our loved ones.

    On the other hand, 33% of consumers are trying to spend less.[iii] Many families are trying to watch their budgets, and the last thing they want is to be worried about the bills in January.

    So, here’s the question: How do you keep your spending from getting too hot without throwing cold water on the holiday spirit? Here are a few ways to spread some holiday cheer without breaking the bank:

    • Start planning for the holidays early

    You know December is coming, so why not go in with a game plan? Set aside money each month and you’ll have yourself a solid holiday fund. You could even set up a holiday jar and make it fun for the whole family. Everyone can contribute, watch the fund grow and avoid cutting into your day-to-day budget. You can also find out other small ways to save such as placing an order in advance to avoid express shipping and checking out store policies on returns and price matching.

    • Set a holiday budget and stick to it

    Decide how much you’re comfortable spending on gifts, decorations and entertaining. To stay on track and to keep yourself accountable with holiday shopping, you can create a spreadsheet with all the people you’re buying gifts for and enter the amounts you’ve spent. Also, by following your favorite shops and brands on social media so you can be the first to know about flash sales and discount codes that you might not hear about otherwise. Check out more of our tips on how to master holiday shopping on a budget.

    • Consider shortening your list

    As you make your list, you might find that you have many people to buy gifts for. As much as we’d like to make everyone happy, prioritization will be key in determining who makes the list. Or consider Secret Santa gift exchanges or grab bags to lessen the load whether it’s for extended family or co-workers at the office.

    • Don’t forget about the winter season food and decor

    It’s not just gifts that you have to budget for. Whether you’re hosting or attending parties, the food and entertainment costs can add up. Before you go to the store, look for coupons you can print or scan from your phone. Buying in bulk is a smart way to stock up on party supplies. Don’t have a membership at a warehouse store? Go in with friends and family or tag along as a guest of a member — just remember to offer something in return. Visit our stress free holiday guide for more on cooking, travel, and entertainment.

    • Give personalized holiday gifts

    One way to avoid overspending is to buy something that’s less expensive but more personal, or even make something yourself. As it turns out, most people prefer receiving thoughtful gifts over expensive ones.[iv] For example, you could give a collection of seeds to a friend who enjoys gardening. You could have the kids create ornaments, like this simple handprint snowman (it’s also an activity — win-win!). You could prepare a meal for someone. Inexpensive, one-of-a-kind and heartfelt: hard to go wrong with that.

    • Think beyond the holidays

    Some of the best gifts keep giving long after the decorations have come down. Subscription services and meal delivery kits can go several months into the new year. Or perhaps you could give a gift with benefits that could last a lifetime, like cooking classes, contributions to a child’s college fund or a life insurance policy. Talk about making your money go a long way.

    • Shop off-season

    When is the best time to get holiday gift wrapping, ornaments, and ugly sweaters? Right after the holidays when stores are trying to clear their seasonal merchandise. Stock up in January, store it in your holiday bin and you’re good to go when December rolls around.


    Overall, you don’t have to spend a lot to feel festive. As long as you set reasonable expectations, it’s possible to gift, decorate and entertain on a budget. When you can keep your holiday expenses down, you’ll feel a lot better when the credit card bills arrive in January. That feeling is a gift that money can’t buy.

    [i] National Retail Foundation, November 2020

    [ii] Klarna, September 2021

    [iii] Morning Consult, September 2020

    [iv] Vistaprint, November 2019

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    Categories: Saving Money
  3. Life Insurance Facts We Wish We Learned in School

    August 10, 2021

    family playing in pool

    If you’re an adult, you can relate: there’s so much in life that we wish we learned in school, especially when it comes to money. Whether it’s managing a budget or saving for retirement, #adulting means we either figure things out on our own or call mom and dad (trust us on this: we’re never too old to ask our parents for advice).


    Since we didn’t get these lessons in the classroom, here’s a crash course of topics we think should be taught in school along with reading, writing and arithmetic.


    Help with unexpected expenses*

    Here’s the deal: you should be putting money away for retirement whenever you can. But did you know that life insurance can be part of your savings strategy? You’d choose whole life insurance, which is designed to last for life, unlike term life insurance, which provides coverage for a set number of years. Whole life policies build cash value that grows over time and you can take loans against to help cover emergency expenses. While it’s always good to have a dedicated retirement fund, the cash value can come through in a pinch.

    *Policy loan interest rate is 8%. Loans may impact cash value and death benefit.


    Ways to use life insurance

    There’s no one right reason to get life insurance. People have traditionally used life insurance as a way to cover final expenses, but the payouts can be used for any purpose that fits your family’s needs or your stage in life. For example, some want the benefits to pay for homes, childcare expenses or college tuition. Term life insurance is useful in this case since you can choose a term that keeps you covered until the house is paid off or the children are grown. Others see life insurance as a way to leave something for their children or grandchildren — whole life insurance works here since it doesn’t expire. What you want to do with the benefits can help you choose the kind of life insurance and the coverage amount you may need.


    Tax benefits of life insurance

    Here’s the good news: in most cases, beneficiaries don’t have to pay taxes on life insurance benefits. So if you have a $100,000 policy, your beneficiary should get all $100,000 as long as the payout is made as a single payment. You should speak to a financial advisor, though, since estate and inheritance tax laws can vary by state.

    There’s a lot more we want to cover, but these are the basics we think everyone should know. It’s never too late to start learning and life insurance specialists at Gerber Life are just a phone call away (and there won’t be a pop quiz!). You can always count on us to help you get through this adulting thing. Keep an eye on this blog for more financial tips you (probably) didn’t learn in school.

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    Categories: Saving Money
  4. Family-Friendly Summer Activities on a Budget

    June 4, 2021

    Summer is time for stepping outside, getting away and having fun. But keeping the entertainment budget under control can be a challenge. There’s a good chance your children’s wish list includes trips to pricy theme parks or destinations that’ll involve hotel stays and travel expenses.


    So many summer amusements come with a hefty price tag. What’s a parent on a budget to do? First, maintain the healthy mindset that summer family fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Next, look around your neck of the woods for activities and events that are free or low cost. These summertime ideas encourage family fun without a budget blow-out.


    1. Visit the library for fun and games

    Local libraries have always been a terrific source of free summer entertainment. The children’s section may feature age-appropriate books, CDs, and DVDs, as well as puzzles, board games and computer games. You can also find activities geared to kids like storytime, arts and crafts, sing-alongs and puppet shows. After a fun day with your children at the library, you may be able to use your library card to take home a free or low-cost movie that the whole family can enjoy.


    2. Make a picnic or go to an outdoor event

    Picnics in the park have been a summer mainstay for generations of families. Free or low-cost activities may feature summer plays, including Shakespeare productions in some communities, movies under the stars or other free amenities such as playgrounds, ball fields and community pools. If your little ones are competitive, you can hold mini-Olympic-style games at the park. Let your child run, jump and throw and award medals to celebrate. You can use items around the house like hula hoops and pool noodles to mark boundaries.


    3. Learn about hometown history

    Many cities and towns have small museums celebrating local history that are free or low cost. They may honor statesmen, war heroes, writers, film stars, other notables, an event in local history or a specific topic like lighthouses or toys. Children can get a history lesson and be entertained, while parents enjoy the nostalgia or expand their community knowledge. Before you head out, be sure to check the days and hours of operation.


    4. Take a family bike ride

    Another idea for family fun on a budget is to take a ride together along a bicycle path free of motor traffic. Whether paved, gravel or dirt, these paths offer a way to get outside and experience your surroundings from something other than your car window. Be sure to stay safe by wearing helmets, observing the rules of the road, and being mindful of others on the trail.


    5. Make your own scavenger hunt

    Create your own adventure and bring out the explorer in your child. Make a checklist of things to look for — plants, bugs, rocks, whatever you like — and set a time limit. You can do it at the park, backyard, or your neighborhood. Be sure to remind the little ones to respect private property, stay on marked trails and point, but not touch the items they find.


    6. Build a backyard obstacle course

    Kids love watching “ninja” shows on TV. Why not let them get in on the fun by building their own obstacle course with household items like cardboard boxes? Be sure to double check obstacles to make sure they’re safe and all activities are supervised to avoid serious injury.


    7. Grow your own garden

    Celebrate the summer by enjoying the season’s most colorful fruits and vegetables—right in your backyard! Don’t have the space? Head over to a local farm and spend an afternoon picking from an assortment of fresh options. Though be careful how much you pick because you might end up with an expensive haul. Avoid the sticker shock by setting limits on how much you’ll take home before you start picking.


    8. Rainy day activities

    You’re going to get your share of summer storms, but a rainy day doesn’t have to be a downer if you’re prepared. You can find simple but fun craft ideas like paper airplanes, homemade kites like this one or bird feeders. When it’s nice outside again, your little ones can take their creations outside. And what child doesn’t love building a pillow fort? It takes creativity plus some pillows, bedsheets, and couch cushions to create a whole new world in your living room. Once complete, the fort is a great space for games and storytime. Just make sure to stress to your children the importance of cleaning up!


    One last thing: whatever activity you and your family decide on, don’t forget about safety. When you’re headed out, be sure to pack:

    • Sun protection: sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses
    • Drinking water
    • First aid kit
  5. 6 Tips for Raising Money-Savvy Kids

    May 4, 2021


    As a parent, you want to set your child up for success. And one very important thing you can do is to instill good money habits. Your little one might be years away from handling a household budget, but it doesn’t hurt to get some early practice in with managing their own money. Getting a head start on personal finance is sure to pay off (no pun intended) when they are adults.

    Here are a few simple things you can do to teach financial savviness to children of all ages.


    For Younger Children: Start with earning an allowance

    Giving children an allowance is a great way to teach budgeting and saving. Even better? Giving them an opportunity to earn the allowance through chores.

    This will help them learn the value of hard work and they’ll appreciate toys more when they’ve had to save for them. You can also teach them how to stretch their dollars by shopping for used items or waiting for a sale.

    If the lesson sticks, they just might start asking for more chores, so they can earn more.


    For Younger Children & Pre-teens: Help them open a savings account

    Many banks offer free savings account for children. You can divide their allowance between money they can spend, and money to set aside for saving.

    If the bank offers paper statements or online banking, they can see how their money grows. They can see that, with interest, the more money they save and the longer they save, the more their money grows.


    Teens: Set them up with financial tools

    Once they get into their teenage years, your not-so-little ones may want more spending money or get after-school jobs.

    This is a good opportunity to teach them the difference between credit cards and debit cards, and discuss the importance of establishing good credit for the future. You can also let them use your credit or debit card, which lets them put the money lessons into practice and lets you track their spending. Tread carefully here though: it’s important to discuss what the card should be used for, set spending limits and monitor the accounts regularly. They should know that with great (spending) power comes great responsibilities.


    All Ages: Have regular conversations about good money habits

    Life is full of decisions about money, and so are opportunities to talk about them. You can explain why you don’t eat out every day and why you save your leftovers. You can discuss the difference between “I want” and “I need” when they ask for new toys or clothes. And you can talk about the advantages and disadvantages of buying in bulk.

    But it doesn’t have to be all talk. You can make it fun for your little ones by having them help plan meals and trips. Since children are visual thinkers, you can create a chart for how much you need to save for a family trip.

    For teens, ask them to think about a fun expense — maybe a car, a trip with friends or the prom — and help them come up with ways to save up. You can also talk to them about financial lessons you’ve learned — teens tend to appreciate honesty.


    All Ages: Teach generosity

    It’s important to know that money isn’t all about buying what you want. It’s also about giving back.

    One fun way to teach the value of generosity is by setting up a “giving” jar, where the family can put loose change and any extra cash. When the jar is full, you can let your kids choose where to donate the money. Help them consider what causes they believe in. Knowing that even a little money can help others is a powerful feeling.


    All Ages: Model good financial behavior

    Like with pretty much everything else, children take their cues from their parents. Include your little ones in your coupon cutting routine. Have your older children sit down with you when you set a monthly budget. Include the whole family when planning and saving for a goal.

    Opportunities to teach good money habits come up every day. Your children are more likely to learn if you keep the lessons fun and rewarding.

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