Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kids 'n Cookies - A Lesson in Budgeting

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content (satisfied)
with what you have.”
Hebrews 13:5

I recently completed a video project (see below) to explain budgeting through cookies and jars that even a 5 year old could understand. We had a family of six as my audience with children from ages 5-12. We used cookies instead of money to put in the jars as each one represented a category we all need to budget for.  As a coach of 40 years I would like to use the term, “Game Plan” in place of budget and told the children that I was going to teach them to be, “The Boss of their money.” Most kids like to be the BOSS. We had ten empty jars sitting in front of them and we had one extra jar that was full of cookies sitting in the middle. I proceeded to ask the children what the jar said and they all shouted out, “Credit.” I explained that their parents had cut up all of their credit cards and were now only using cash or a debit card. Credit meant they really did not have the money and the Joneses next door had an entire jar/wallet of credit cards. I informed them that even though the Jonees had all of the latest “stuff”, ate at expensive restaurants, and went on exotic vacations that they were really “BROKE”. 

I then took away the jar of cookies (credit) and replaced it with a plate of ten “Income Cookies” and told them they were going to place each of the cookies in the various jars. I let them know they would get ten cookies each month and they could not have their Mom make more during the month (emphasized credit again and living within their means.)

Where do your "Cookies" go?

I started with having one of the children pull out the “Giving Others” jar and asked them all that if they had a friend who did not have any cookies would they give them one of theirs. They all said, Yes – so I had them put one cookie in the jar. On the chalk board I showed the children that one cookie represented $400.00 to the average family in America as of 2011. This also represented 10% of their total $4,000.00 income. Next I had them find the “Giving Me” jar and bring it out in front of them. This jar I explained was a savings jar for future expenses like that new bike or car eventually. I had them grab another cookie and place it in the jar and let them know that represented $400.00 or 10% of their total income and they would still have $3200.00 or 80% of their income to live on. The next jar represented the “Rent or Mortgage” and I had them place 2 ½ cookies in that jar. This represented 25% of their income or $1,000.00. The children then pulled out the “Utilities” jar to represent gas, electric, water, cable, phone, and internet. They put one cookie in that jar – again $400.00 or 10% of their income. Next was “Transportation” and the children put in another cookie. Food should typically be the 2nd biggest expense in your household behind the rent or mortgage. We placed 1 ½ cookies in that jar to represent $600.00. We also mentioned their Mom was a very good cook and planned all of the meals for the month – just going to McDonalds with a family of six can cost over $40.00. We had a jar for school and placed ½ cookie in that jar then the other ½ in the Insurance jar. Even the 5 year old understood what insurance was as he had recently broke his arm and his parent’s needed to pay for some of the hospital bills. The last two jars were Miscellaneous or Emergency Fund for unexpected expenses and lastly the “Fun Stuff” jar which we put ½ cookie each or $200.00 and 5% of their income. The kids were very quick to tell me what they would do with the “Fun stuff” cookies. We emphasized that their parent’s had a “Game Plan” to eat/spend every cookie/penny each month and become the boss of their money.   At the end of this video I gave Five steps in getting started with your budget or “Game Plan.”

1. Start recording every penny you spend this next week and continue for one month.

Start using cash initially for groceries and entertainment to include eating out. (Envelope method – When the money is gone that is it until the next pay day.)

Write down all income that comes in each month then all expenses that go out each month.

Assign every cookie/dollar to a jar/category.

5. Lastly, “STOP IT” – that is using credit cards and borrowing money.

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