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. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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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  4. 5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home

    July 28, 2020

     

    Did you know that the average American family throws out an estimated 31.9% of its food? That adds up to $1,866 in wasted grocery expenses each year for every household.[1] Some families are more careful, but even the most frugal ones throw out 8.7% of their food, so there’s room for improvement for everyone. Here are 5 ways you can make the most of your grocery budget.

    1. Make a list and shop for meals, not deals

    Sure, that “buy 4 get 1” sale on artichokes might look good in the store, but do you know what you’ll use it for? Will the kids eat it? The first step to reducing kitchen waste is going to the grocery store with a list based on meals you’ll prepare for the week. It’ll take some planning, but the time you spend before heading to the supermarket helps you save big in the long run.

    2. Stock the fridge like a grocery store: First in, first out

    When you come back from the store, stock your fridge like a grocery store clerk: oldest items in the front, newest items in the back. If you’re placing new food in the front, you’re pushing the older items to the back, where it’s out of sight and out of mind. And too often, we discover spoiled food weeks later. Instead, keep a first in, first out system to make sure you’re using everything in the fridge.

    3. Extend the life of your food

    Food might come with a date on the packaging, but may not stick to that defined schedule. Some food spoils before the package date, others may be fine past the date. Your best bet is to learn ways to prolong their life. Popular techniques include wrapping lettuce in paper towel, storing onion and potato separately, and marinating chicken breast before freezing. Oh, and overripe bananas are great for banana bread!

    4. Keep a waste journal

    One great way to reduce waste is by keeping a food waste diary like this one. If you keep track of what’s thrown out and how much, you’ll probably start to see patterns. Use the findings to buy less of what you throw out and adjust your portion sizes.

    5. Prepare a weekly fridge clearance meal

    Do you watch those cooking shows, where the contestants create dishes based on a theme ingredient? That’s the idea behind a weekly “use up” meal around food that needs to be used. It’ll help even more if you set aside an “eat me now” section in your fridge for items that are about to go bad. These meals will help you reduce waste, clear space in your fridge and give you a chance to get creative.

     

    Do you have any tips for reducing food waste? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page!

    [1] Forbes.com, January 2020

  5. 5 Fun and Affordable DIY Father’s Day Gifts

    June 12, 2020

    Did you know that Americans spent an estimated $16 billion(with a b!) on Father’s Day gifts in 2019? We love our dads and they deserve to be recognized. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money to show your appreciation for the special guy. Here are some unique and affordable ways to let the dad in your life know how much he means to you.

     

    1. For the Sporty Dad: Commemorative Basketball

    Or football, baseball or softball — any ball that’s big enough to fit a “Happy Father’s Day!” message works. Here’s the fun part for kids — let them dip their hands in acrylic paint and leave their handprints on the ball. And there you have it, a one-of-a-kind, display-worthy commemorative ball for the superstar of the family.

     

    1. For the Sentimental Dad: Custom T-Shirt Pillow

    Does dad have old t-shirts that have seen better days, but he won’t let go? Are you handy with a sewing machine or needle and thread? Great, because you can transform his shirts into customized throw pillows, so his favorite band or sports team can always be on display.

     

    1. For the Grill Master Dad: Personalized BBQ Platter

    There’s something special about dad’s outdoor cooking, and you can make it even more special for him with a personalized platter. You’ll need a large, white ovenproof plate, ceramic paint and pen. Paint, dry, bake, and the platter’s ready for grilling season.

     

    1. For the Film Buff Dad: Movie Theater Experience

    Even if you love going to the movies, the cost of tickets and refreshments can be a tearjerker. Instead, fire up the popcorn at home, design and print tickets, and dim the lights for a special showing of dad’s favorite flick. Just imagine a theater where he always has the best seat in the house.

     

    1. For the Photogenic Dad: Memory Wall

    Have a lot of great photos of dad? Can’t pick just one to frame? Print all the pictures that show him at his best and hang them on the wall with string lights and clothespins. It’s an easy way to let him relive his favorite fatherhood memories.

     

    1Estimate based on a survey of consumers by the National Retail Federation, conducted May 1–9, 2019. Source: Father’s Day spending expected to reach all-time high of $16 billion, May 30, 2019

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