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The Money Messenger, Issue #008 -- Babysitting and Savings Accounts
September 16, 2008

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Welcome to the eighth edition of The Money Messenger!

Wow! Fall has really hit in our area. Honestly, we are a little bummed about it. Summer seemed to get off to cool rainy start - and now we've had the same weather in September. But no matter. There are plenty of things to talk about for money and kids this month. In this issue, there are articles on:

  • babysitting activities and safety
  • opening a child's first bank account
  • getting ready for Halloween
  • this month's fun money fact, and
  • Ask the Editor!



Babysitting Activities and Safety
Sometimes you just plain run out of ideas when you are babysitting. You've colored and read 10 different books. But the kids are ready for something different - and honestly, so are you. Here are some new babysitting activities that might help:
  • Talk like a pirate for an hour (or more). The official Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19th, but you can celebrate it anytime. Talk like a pirate plus read books and sing pirate songs. If the kids have bandanas or pirate gear, that can make it even more fun.
  • Use fruit or pudding to paint with. Cutting an apple or orange in half and dipping it in paint can produce some great designs. You can also do it with a potato and cut designs in the potato half for more variety. For a different variation, you can use pudding as finger paint. It's gooey and you can lick your fingers!
  • Make a scrapbook or picture book. Even if you don't have pictures, pick a theme and have the kids draw pictures. It could be what they did on vacation or the first day of school. You could also cut pictures out of magazines (with permission). Add captions. Then fold or staple the memories into a book.

No matter what babysitting activities you choose, safety should always be a priority. Some key babysitting safety tips to remember while doing activities are:

  • Don't let kids handle sharp objects. In general, kids will likely have their own safety scissors so those are manageable. Knives should be kept away from the kids (even if they say their parents let them!).
  • Carefully monitor younger kids to make sure they aren't eating the craft supplies. Some markers and paints are scented and smell good enough to eat! But unless you are painting with pudding, eating paint isn't a good idea. Many kids' products are non-toxic but careful monitoring is still a must.
  • Watch out for toys or other items that can be tripped over during play time.

    This is for both inside and outside the house. In general, kids fall down a good amount. You just want to prevent them from falling into or on top of something that could really hurt them.

Use these babysitting activities and safety tips on your next babysitting job and see what you think. And for even more ideas, head on over to the babysitting activities page or the fun babysitting ideas page.



Opening a Child's First Bank Account
When your child’s piggy bank or other money collecting device gets full, it may be time to open an account at the bank. A bank account allows children to keep track of money they have saved more easily. Here are some tips for getting started.

Check out your local bank or credit union for kids' savings programs. The main bank that we use does not have a good kids' program and charges fees for low-balance savings accounts. However, the local credit union has a good educational program and encourages kids to have their own savings accounts. It is important to find one that has a program for the kids to make sure their first experience is positive.

Have a talk with your child about what putting money in the bank means. Younger kids really like to be able to touch their money. Giving it to someone else can make them uncomfortable even with you telling them that the bank is a safe place for their money. Be patient and help them understand that the bank is like a big piggy bank.

The kids' savings program at the bank can also help them learn how a bank works and why it is safe.

Open an account and make the first deposit. You will likely have to be on the account in some way since children are minors (even at 16). But many banks accomplish this without having your name show up on the statement. If you can ensure that this happens, it will help your child still see this money as theirs when the statements come in the mail.

Read the statements with your kids. Be excited about their account and the interest they are earning (no matter how small). This a great first step on their way to understanding money and how to save it.



Cutting Halloween Costs Starts with Planning
I know, I know. It seems like fall has hardly started and already Halloween is right around the corner. At least the corner of most discount stores that sell candy and costumes. My daughter is already picking hers out...a pre-packaged rock star for the low, low price of $20. And, of course, it's not quite complete. It doesn't come with the hair, make-up or shoes. That's scary in and of itself.

And that's why now is a good time to start planning both your Halloween budget and how to teach the kids about money at the same time.

Most kids think of Halloween of two things: candy and costumes. And those are the two biggest expenses for most families even if not quite in that order. But with a little planning, you can whittle those expenses down. Here are some ideas:

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle. This is idea really just applies to costumes (not candy!). Check out children's resale stores in your area (we have Children's Orchard and Once Upon a Child near us). Or arrange a costume swap with family and friends.
  • Get creative with a sheet. You can find flat white sheets at the dollar store. Use one to make a toothpaste tube (with a wire hanger, markers and a coffee filter hat). Or the classic ghost (be sure that is plenty of room to see safely). Maybe even a fluffy cloud (stuff with pillows and put some cotton balls on it randomly) with a rainbow (cut out cardboard colored with markers).
  • Buy treats in bulk. Go in with friends and neighbors to buy bulk candy or trinkets to cut down the cost. You can find great deals on small toys at Oriental Trading (and these keep from year to year). For bulk candy, visit a warehouse store such as Sam's, BJ's or Costco. Be sure to buy only what the group will need.
  • Get creative with the handouts. Many parents don't like the idea of homemade treats unless they know you. But that doesn't mean that you can't hand out homemade craft items instead of candy. Or that you have to give out spider rings and plastic worms. Check out a local craft or party store for ideas on cheap creations. These places have such items in bulk and often have very good prices.

Check this out for even more Halloween ideas and ways to cut Halloween costs.



Fun money fact
Has a woman's portrait ever appeared on U.S. paper money?

Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on a U.S. currency note. It appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and the back of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896. (Courtesy of www.factmonster.com)



Ask the Editor!
Here's where I answer your questions. This week's question comes from Sabrina. She wants a part time time job working with animals because she wants to become a vet but she cannot find anything near her. She lives in Ontario (Stoney Creek) and tried the SPCA. The SPCA only hires teens 16 or older and the local pet store requires teens to be at least 18. Here's the advice:

Congratulations on thinking ahead to your future career goals! Getting started now will be a great help - whether because of the work experience or the people you meet. The age requirements you are running into are somewhat common unfortunately for any 15 year old trying to find a job. Many of the labor laws have restrictions on the number of hours and time of day that people under 16 years of age can work. So many employers choose not to hire them simply because it seems to be a pain.

You can volunteer at a local shelter to get experience. That is a great idea if you really don't need to make money and are only looking for the experience. If you really do need to get paid, you may have to get creative. Can you start your own dogwalking, pet sitting or pet grooming service? Can you work as a helper in a local vet's office? Are there any local pet stores in your area? Some of the best opportunities for younger teens are at small businesses that have limited hours.

I realize that some of these options aren't actual vet work but they do get you working with animals and learning more about them (and their owners) each day. Those will be invaluable skills when you are a vet.

For even more ideas on teen jobs this time of year, visit the winter teen jobs page.

Or to get your question considered (about teen jobs or any other topics), contact us here.



Latest on the site
Two brand new sections are almost ready to launch! One is a special area for educators that will have downloadable presentations on key money topics for kids.

The other area is called The Big Give and focuses on how kids can give back - not just with money but in other ways too.

The newsletter is also going to be undergoing some BIG changes. It will now come out at the beginning of each month and focus on a theme topic for the month. Each article will relate back to that month's theme. Be sure to be on the lookout for the next edition on October 1st!

New subscribers to the newsletter (as well as the first ones) get a free downloadable copy of the Top 10 articles we offer as well as access to all the back issues of the newsletter. Feel free to forward both this newsletter and the free report to any friends that would like a copy. (If you don't have a copy, grab it here.)



Coming soon...the next issue of The Money Messenger
Next month's issue will be in the NEW FORMAT! Only a couple of weeks until it is unveiled!

Comments or suggestions?
If you have any comments or suggestions for future newsletters, please let me know. I want to be sure that this newsletter meets your needs. Feel free to provide your comments using our contact form.


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