‘S’ is For Savings with PNC

by Tiffany in Children

One of the most important things I hope to impart to my kids is knowledge of money and good financial practices. I remember vaguely my parents talking to me about money but not really in depth and it is a shame because they were good examples to follow as far as money management goes. I had to learn about money and making smart choices with it pretty much all on my own or perhaps the lessons taught by my parents just needed time to marinate before they actually sunk in, but either way I am determined that my kids grow up with money smarts.

Part of my strategy has always been to openly discuss money with them. I know some parents do not like this and I know it DOES have some drawbacks but I want my kids to know that finances aren’t easy to manage, even for people who have been at it a while. Not long ago my daughter came to me and asked me why we are so poor and I had to laugh and ask her why she thought such a thing. Well, when you say things like “we have no money in the bank”, she envisions us getting evicted because we literally have $0.00 in the bank. I should have said instead that we just paid out all our bills for the month and money is tight until the next payday. Often times I think it would be awesome if there was an online bank account, either real or fake, that kids could access to teach them about how to manage a bank account. So far my kids have big issues with saving money and that is the very same problem we had when we were younger. I don’t want that for my kids.

PNC recently asked me to help spread awareness of their ‘S’ is for Savings initiative designed for preschoolers and younger kids and I was anxious to learn more about it. We are happy PNC customers as well.

This particular program involves a children’s savings account designed to give kids a financial foundation and it is modeled after their popular virtual wallet program.

What I like About ‘S’ is for Savings:

  • It’s a fun way to learn. My kids have always loved learning programs that incorporates games or fun of some sort. This is why subscription based software programs like JumpStart appear on our bills list monthly.
  • It provides resources that I would be unable to duplicate on my own. There is no greater way to learn sometimes then by simply jumping in and doing and in this case that means managing an actual account.
  • It gets them learning early. As I mentioned this program is designed for preschoolers (useful up to age 8).
  • Helps kids practice saving, sharing, and spending. They literally drag and drop their money into different jars showing how they want to divide it up.
  • Shows them how to navigate finances online, which is how we manage our finances and I think it is important to do so.
  • It engages kids with visuals like animations and sound effects.
  • Parents can automatically deposit money into their kids account, like allowance.
  • There is an automatic savings tool included so they can auto save money and pay themselves first.
  • There is a virtual learning center with video instruction and Sesame Street characters.
  • $25 minimum to open the account and no service charge.

I have taken a look around their interface and it is a lot of fun for kids and really useful. It also comes at a really good time because our kids are just starting to ask if they can open their own savings accounts…usually because they can’t manage to save for bigger tickets items they want, like gaming consoles. I think taking the physical money out of their pockets and putting it into a fun virtual account is just what they need.

Disclosure: I was compensated by PNC for participating in this campaign. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Green Your After School Routine

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Part three of Recyclebank’s Green Your Back to School Challenge is all about keeping it green even after school is over for the day. It has lots of great info and more chances to earn points.

The first activity involves making a pledge to keep after school activities at school or nearby and to carpool with other parents. This isn’t much of an issue for me as I am not big on after school activities beyond playing.

After school snacks are discussed and they are just as important as what your child eats at lunch so the need is still there to make it healthy and sustainable to the best of our abilities.

There were some interesting stats on children who do homework at night versus those who do their homework while the sun is still out. We may need to make some changes in that regard. There is a quiz about how to keep it green while using a printer to print off assignments… another thing I need to look into, although for me and not for the kids! There were also some alarming stats on how much energy is consumed actually USING your computer compared to when it is just sitting idle.

This whole challenge has been fun and eye opening. Recyclebank has done a great job with it!

This post is part of a campaign sponsored by Recyclebank.


Natural Ingredients for Energy

by Tiffany in Tidbits

Hula Hoop with your kids

As parents one thing we all face, is keeping our energy levels up, as we keep up with our children.  This month Whole Foods Market current podcast series suggests tips and action steps to support our energy levels naturally and safely.  For a great list of energy supporting herbs, and to listen to these podcasts visit the Whole Story blog.


I Love Nature But Do I Have to Love Spiders?

by Tiffany in A Green Home, Enjoying Nature

The other day I was watching my daughter play outside and she started to freak out about a bee. If it wasn’t a bee it would have been a bug. She HATES the creepy crawlies and I can’t blame her since I was the same way. It was well into my adult years that I started to accept them and not shriek and jump onto the nearest high surface. I wish I could say I had bad experiences that made me that way, and I did get bit by black widow spiders a couple times but overall I have to say that I was just born being afraid of bugs and crawly things. My parents used to joke that they could send me into any room and I would find a bug.. even if it was the size of a flea… I would find one and scream.

Nowadays I wouldn’t say I love them but I can tolerate them and for the sake of my daughter I try to make bugs seem like a fun part of nature. I want her to see a female who thinks bugs and spiders are cool, not something to be terrified of. Yesterday that meant going outside to check the mud and puddles in the yard for worms. This morning was another worm hunt. I even assisted my toddler in trying to sneak one to school but alas the bus driver caught us and gave me the evil eye. As soon as she heard him say the word “worm” she got ghostly white and almost physically pushed him away to arms length and demanded to know if he had a worm. That is the look I don’t want my kids to see..  the look that says that nature and bugs are gross, dirty, nasty, scary, etc. That takes me out of my comfort zone sometimes but the things we do for our children…

Half the battle is won by learning about how beneficial bugs and spiders are. If you take the time to learn, you develop respect and you see why they are important parts of the ecosystem. When you are outside and you see a particular bug or spider see if you can identify it on the Internet and learn about it. Demystifying and naming certain critters is half the battle. Kids are afraid of the unknown and once they “get to know” the local wildlife they will be more comfortable.

Take the Orb-Weavers for instance. They are spiders that weave large, beautiful webs that sometimes look as if they have writing down the middle (hence another name for these yellow-and-black striped beauties: writing spider). These spiders are quite large, and their elaborate webs are lethal to all kinds of flying pests, such as mosquitoes, moths, wasps, hornets, etc. Such webs can be annoying to humans, but there are few things more breath-taking than one of these orb webs covered in dew drops on a sunny morning. They kill the bugs I don’t particularly like.. mosquitoes and wasps, and they are gorgeous spiders, even if slightly terrifying looking. I leave them alone and they leave me alone. That is the major lesson I impart to my kids… they have a job to do and we need to leave them to it.

I don’t like spiders and bugs in the house so the kids and I talk about what kind of things WE do that makes spiders want to come in the house… aka leaving clutter on the floor for them to hide in, leaving food and crumbs on the floor, poking holes in screens, etc. I find it is an excellent incentive to my kids to clean up after themselves when they think about bugs crawling around in their rooms at night. It is incentive for me too. After finding two huge spiders in the laundry I was piling on the floor, I converted to a system that kept clothes OFF the floor, LOL. For more tips check out my article on how to get rid of spiders naturally. It mostly talks about spiders but also some insects.

Because we want to be left alone in our home we take preventive measures and we have to respect that the outdoors is their domain. To respect existing spiders in our yard we do not spray broad-spectrum insecticides (spiders are not insects, but they will succumb to insect sprays). If we spray anything, it is usually natural and geared towards one problem insect that is eating our crops. We never spray herbicides to kill weeds either. Another thing you can do is spread thick mulch that gives hunting spiders a place to hide and spend the winter. Encourage web-weavers with an outside light that attracts flying insects. Spiders will weave their webs near the light to take advantage of the bugs.

We don’t need to love bugs and spiders but certainly we don’t need to fear them and we can learn to respect them and co-exist with them.

Some good books to read with your kids about spiders and bugs:

The Looking Book – A very clever book a mom who gives her kids some “lookers” and sends them on an assignment in their backyard. My kids like this one a lot.

Are you a Spider? – Walk a mile in a spiders web.

Aaaarrgghh! Spider! – An adorable book about a spider who wants to be the family pet but she keeps getting swept outside.


Wooden Bowls and Utensils for Kids

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Eating Yogurt

Last year parents everywhere became concerned about BPA in their kid’s feeding gear… bowls, cups, plates, spoons. Parents are still concerned about it. My posts with compilations of BPA free cups and BPA free plates, bowls, and utensils are still get huge amounts of daily traffic. One option that was slow to catch on back then was that of wooden feeding items. Why is a mystery to me because even if it is BPA free plastic… this feeding set:

Dora plastic plates and utensils

… is UGLY. This would be an eyesore at my table and in my cupboards.

But this set:

… is lovely! This Camden Rose bowl and spoon is a great  non-plastic option. As is their wood plate. I am excited to see more options for people who like wooden feeding gear!

Sustainable Wood Bowls