Budget Activities!

by Clarissa Murray

With the economy the way it is and money pretty tight, I have had to be more creative in finding activities to do with my grade schoolers that are fun, inexpensive and educational. Here are a few recent favorites that have worked pretty well for my two kids, a girl aged 9 and a boy aged 10:

Clipping Coupons

On Sundays, we spend time together choosing coupons to clip from the Sunday newspaper. The kids have turned this into a kind of challenge with each one searching first for items on the grocery list and then seeing who can find the best “deal.” The kids compare brand, size, cost, color, etc. and figure out which coupons to use this week, which ones to save for a later time. It helps them be more careful readers (especially the fine print!) and to observe differences. The whole activity really helps them learn new ways to save and feel like they are contributing to the household.

Baking Our Own Snacks

Cupcakes are our favorite. Plus, you can use paper holders so there is less clean-up. Reading the cooking instructions is a good chance to practice reading and following directions. The child learns the size of bowl to use, the way to read the oven temperature settings, and how to use fractions during measurements. The amount of oil to use is 1/3 cup, amount of water is 1-1/2 cups, and the standard temperature setting is 350 degrees. Baking their own snacks gives my kids a sense of accomplishment.

Checking Prices While Shopping

Shopping with my kids is always an “adventure”. Typically, the kids ask for several items during the trip. I always ask, “So, how much does it cost?” I’m a firm believer in giving each child an allowance. Let’s say the item of choice is the “Megatron Transformer” with a price tag of $19.95. For a child with an allowance of $5 per week, I simply explain that this will take 4 weeks of your allowance to purchase this item. This teaches the value of a dollar, a little math and the need to save for something that you really want.

Watch Local News With Children

I watch the local news with the children at least once a week. I use this opportunity to discuss “appropriate” and “inappropriate” behavior. Furthermore, this also allows the child to see the consequences for bad choices and the benefits of good choices. (For every action, there is a reaction.)

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