10 Free Activities to Do With Little People this Fall

Some of you may have read my recent post here about loving the littles in your life.

Today I am sharing 10 Free Activities to Do With Little People This Fall. The reason I say “little people” instead of “little siblings” is that some of you don’t have siblings, or are one of the youngest in the family, or no one in your family is “little” anymore! But even if you don’t have little siblings, you have little people in your life- nieces and nephews, or kiddos at church, or maybe neighbor children, etc.

Make it one of your fall goals to invest in the little people in your life- you won’t regret it!

Here are some ideas for spending time with littles:

1. Do a picnic at the park.

What kid doesn’t love going to the park?! I know my younger siblings do! This spring I went with my little siblings to meet up with my brother’s fiance (now sister in law!) and her little siblings at our favorite local park. We took picnicky foods to share, and had a fantastic time! A few recommendations for an awesome park time: pack plenty of water and yummy but simple food (we did sloppy joes, hummis and chips, veggies, cheese, and fruit), plan adequate time (a few hours is good), and make sure you play with the kids at least part of the time!

2. Go on a walk to the creek.

Little people that visit our farm always love to walk up the road to our bridge where we can throw stones down into the water. On the way back, we might stop in the orchard for an apple.:) If you live near a creek, this is a fun way to get the kids outside and enjoy the beautiful day!

3. Do a baking project.

There are so many delicious things to bake in the fall! Pick something that isn’t too complicated, and make it a party! Apple crisp, chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, apple cake, pumpkin custard, and the list goes on! Fall calls for baking, and little ones are always up for baking something sweet.

4. Pick up leaves and do a craft project.

You could press the leaves and use them to make cards, or go on pinterest and search “fall craft with leaves”. Leaves are free, and they are so beautiful!

5. Create fall decorations.

This is especially good for a big “older littles”. My sister Liz went all out last fall decorating on our porch with cornstalks, a chalkboard sign, and more. It was amazing. 10-13 year old girls seem to love decorating, and there are lots of fun options in the fall.

6. Rake leaves for the elderly.

This is a great way to teach children to love serving others. Especially if you live in town, this would be a wonderful opportunity to get to know neighbors, and show some lonely elderly person love!

7. Arrange fall bouquets.

If you have flower beds, use some end-of-season blooms. Even if you don’t have your own flowers, scour the ditches for wild blossoms, or simply find some longs twigs with leaves, grasses, weeds and such to create a pretty arrangement.

8. Can or freeze vegetables for winter.

Especially if you have a garden, this is a great project to do together. My siblings canned with my mother while the tomatoes were in season, and they did a great job!

9. Eat lunch in the yard.

Fall days can be so perfect! The air is just a little crisp, without being to hot or cold.

10. Make them hot chocolate on a chilly morning or evening.

It’s hard to believe that chilly mornings are already here (at least in the Midwest)! Even though the days are warm, evenings and mornings are beginning to be chilly, and nothing hits the spot for little ones like hot chocolate. While you might rather have coffee or tea (or maybe not:), making a pot of hot chocolate for the littles is sure to make them smile and feel extra loved. They can even help you make it, or you can deliver it as a special treat while they are studying (if they’re homeschooled). If you are on a farm like us, this can be perfect for an after-chores treat on a chilly morning.

Which of these would you like to try? What are some favorite fall activities you do with your little people?

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5 Ways to Love the Little People

1. Treat Them Like Adults.

Obviously not all the time, ok? But really, get down on their level and ask them about their day, find out what’s going on in their head, and don’t talk down to them. Treat them like their opinions matter. They can tell if you are bothered by them or if you think they’re the greatest thing ever. Don’t talk down to them. Let them know you believe in them! We tend to rise to the expectations placed upon us; therefore, it stands to reason that if you treat your little siblings like little pests, they will be little pests. But if you treat them as valued friends true best buds, they will tend to confide in you and return the respect.

2. Write Notes.

Kids LOVE getting a sweet little note at random times! I like to write about something notable I see them doing, or tell them how happy I am that they’re my sibling (or friend), or just tell em they’re special! Doing an act of service (like completing a chore for them or making their bed) and leaving a note behind will totally make their day!

3. Plan Fun Activities.

Some of my best memories with the little people in my life have been fun outings I have been able to take them on. There are so many things I love to do with them!

4. Make Yummy Treats.

Oh, how they love this! Just this evening, I happened to be home with my four youngest siblings. Liz asked if we could have these little chocolate things from the cupboard. “No, but don’t brush your teeth, because we’re having dessert later!” I said. After a competitive word search together, I made chocolate chip milkshakes for them as a fun surprise. They were thrilled! It was an easy way to add an extra-special touch to our evening together.

5. Give the Gift of Time.

Younger siblings and little friends need the thing that is in scarcest demand in our world- T.I.M.E. I know it isn’t easy, but stopping to listen when we’re “busy”, or taking time out of our jam-packed schedule to plan something fun to do together….these things speak love to them like almost none other.

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5 Ways to Cure Financial Butterfingers

Whether you area teenager making a few dollars a week on household chores and babysitting, or a 20-something pulling in regular payckeck, you should be saving money and giving generously. The only way to do it is by not spending all you make.

When I was a teenager making money babysitting, teaching a handful of violin students, and doing seasonal landscaping, I started saving money. I saved a nice little pile, although it could have been more had I started budgeting sooner!

It is so easy to just earn it, then spend it. I mean, it’s fun, right? It’s enjoying the fruit of our labors! But there are some things even more fun than spending money on ourselves:

Giving Money to Others and Saving Money.

If you have ever struggled with overspending, and had trouble keeping your finances- even small amounts of cash- in line, I know the feeling! It is way to easy to let the money slip through our fingers instead of strategically placing it where it needs to go.

Today I want to share with you 5 Tips to Cure Financial Butterfingers:

  1. Track it! You must track every single dollar you earn and spend. This way you can look back and see where your money is actually going, and change your gameplan if need be.
  2. Watch the little expenses. Coffee is a big one for me. It is way too easy to stop by the coffee shop and grab a scrumptious drink. But the truth is, I can make my own delicious coffee at home. I choose to never buy coffee out unless I am meeting up with a friend, taking out a family member, or going for work (even that is limited, as the library also has free wifi and quiet.)
  3. Always pack lunch. When shopping, my mother taught me to always pack food. The RARE times we would actually get frosties at Wendy’s or lunch at Chik Fil A or a yogurt at the health food store were so much more special because they were not a regular occurrance! And we saved hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars as a family by nearly always packing food for traveling, shopping, and other outings. When I started working away from home as a teenager, I didn’t even entertain the idea of going to Subway for lunch like my employer sometimes did. I automatically packed lunch. Now, in my 8 years of working away (landscaping and hotel) I have never once bought lunch. I pack every single time. I would rather save my money to be able to take my mother out to a fancy restaurant for lunch, or give extra money to a missionary, or send a package to a friend, or put more money in investing.
  4. Create free experiences, outings, and gifts. Not every gift or special time has to cost money. You can give coupons for birthday gifts, etc. I am going to do an entire post on this next week, so stay tuned!
  5. If you are tempted, don’t go there! I absolutely love a certain consignment shop in the city near us. I used to go there often, but now I rarely go unless I have a specific item or list of items I need. It eliminates the temptation to buy un-needed things.

Well, I’m signing off for now, friends! What would you like me to write about next? I have posts on investing and giving coming up, but I am open to other ideas, as well!

-Allison

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Let’s Budget!

Ok so who all took the challenge to write down all spending and eliminate one spending weakness? I would really really love to hear from you gals (and guys!)

It’s finally time to start talking about budgeting, and boy am I ever excited about that! I am really hoping you dear people will chime in on the conversation and give me your feedback as I write. I want this to be a discussion, and to get all your ideas, thoughts, and questions.

So……how does a person budget?

Well first of all, there are a few different ways to do it. If you have a set weekly or monthly paycheck, you can decide on your budget and keep it the same every month. If your income varies, you can budget off the previous month’s income, and this means your budget varies by the month. Or…..one more option is to have the set budget even if your income varies.

I go with the third option, but it’s not a right or wrong thing! The important thing is that you figure out how much money you are making (hopefully you already have been keeping good records!) and set a budget off that, whether it varies by the month or no.

The idea is to spend less than you make. Never all, and NEVER more!

For in-depth information on budgeting, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money. This book is a very comprehensive on budgeting, and also contains valuable information on saving, investing, renting/buying, getting out of debt, etc. Reading Dave Ramsey’s books was part of what fueled my passion for finances in the first place.

How do I recommend budgeting? I am going to give an idea for a basic beginner’s budget plan:

Giving: 15%

Investing: 20%

Spending: 50%

Saving/Mission Trips/Emergency Fund: 15%

Now my personal budget percentages are different than that. But if your budget includes any debt payoff, or school bills, or even if you’re just pretty new at it all and spending less than 50% of what you make seems like hardly enough with all things considered, then this is a good place to start.

Also, just a disclaimer- I am primarily targeting single people living in a shared household (family or room-mate sharing grocery/rent/etc costs) with these posts. I fully understand that buying a house, and having a family, and things like that, do change the ball game here!

Here are a few thoughts on the different categories:

GIVING

I really recommend, no matter your financial situation, that you give at least 10% of your income no matter what! And to me, 10% isn’t even where it’s getting truly fun! I think giving is the most fun thing we can possibly do with our income, so why not give alot more than just 10%?

INVESTING

Wayyyyy too many young people don’t even think about investing. This is really sad to me, because the prime time to do this is when you’re young and don’t have as many financial responsibilities. Children are a blessing, but they cost money! Same with marriage, and buying a house, and all those things. If you’re single and blessed with cheap housing, you have absolutely no excuse to not be investing a percentage of your income every single month. No one really does have an excuse to not invest, but especially not you.

It is a discipline, and I can’t wait to do a whole post on this! I absolutely love having monthly investing set up where the money comes out of my bank account every single month without fail. Most months I don’t even think about it. And the rewards down the road are mind-blowing! But I am saving that for a whole ‘nother post.:)

SPENDING

You kinda gotta spend to live. Just make sure you’re spending smart. There are so many ways to save money and spend less. Like buying your meal w/out sides/dessert/drink. Or only shopping when you have a list of things you need. Or buying a cheaper, older, used phone instead of the newest version. And so many other ways to bring your spending down.

Ok, so I have a story on this…..the other weekend when my brothers were all getting married (ok, not all 6 of them, just half of the 6:), I was trying to figure out details for my two different bridesmaid outfits. I had planned to stop at Dollar General after work the day before the first wedding, and pick up some new nail polish. Well, I got to the store and started looking at the selection. And thinking.:) I knew there was some polish at home that would work. I just wanted a certain shade, and to buy a new nail polish. But when I looked at the price tag ($2), and started thinking about how valuable that $2 really was, plus the fact that what was at the store wasn’t that much more amazing than the stuff in my bathroom at home, I walked away.

Guess what? By the time I’m 50 years old, that money, invested at 8% interest, will be worth $35. Yeah….the nail polish isn’t really worth it.:)

And it gets even better! That $2 could also make a significant difference in funding Arabic Bibles needed in teh Middle East right now. Click here to donate with a reputable and Godpel-centered ministry.

SAVING/MISSION TRIP/EMERGENCY FUND

This one is pretty great. I think it’s a great idea to have extra money set aside for car breakdowns, a last minute missions trip, etc. While I (along with Dave Ramsey) recommend putting the bulk of your non-spending/giving money in investments that will give you some return, it is smart to have a chunk easily available for the aforementioned things. Just make sure you aren’t accessing it for random spending sprees! That definitely doesn’t qualify!

My fund of this type would also be used for spending budget if I took off work for a mission trip, or travel expenses for said mission trip, etc. While you can figure this into your regular budget, I figure that because these things aren’t very predictable or regular, and I pray over them and am not spending the money impulsively, it works better to take it out of a special savings fund and thus keep my “personal monthly spending” budget lower.

Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to chatting with ya’ll in the comment section!

-Allison

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Why Should Girls Be Good With Money?

Before getting into the nitty gritty of saving, budgeting, and investing (starting next week), I want to lay the foundation for why I believe it is crucial for women to learn how to handle finances REALLY well when they are young.

Who you are when you’re young lays the foundation for who you are 20 years down the road.

Would you want to be raising a family, or buying a house, or getting ready to be a missionary in Africa, with your current financial habits?

If the answer is no, then you need to buckle down and get to work. You may not be raising a family, or buying a house, or moving to Africa today. But you very likely will be doing one of those things down the road.

Here are some reasons every girl should learn to be smart with money NOW:

To Bless Her Future Husband

If you get married, it will be a serious blessing to your husband to have a wife who already knows how to handle finances really well. He won’t have to teach you how to make and live on a budget. You can help with his business if he has one, as well as contributing help and ideas in your finances as a couple.

If you started saving money as a single girl, you will have a blessing to bring to your husband! Whatever money you have saved will doubtless be very much appreciated! Most young couples have a lot of expenses in the first five years- housing, furniture, vehicles, babies, insurance, etc and having a significant chunk of savings will greatly benefit you and your husband as you start your household.

To Be Prepared for Her Remaining Single Years

If you end up being single for years (or forever), you will be prepared to be a responsible citizen who can take care of herself. Think down the road- if you are single at 40, will you be be prepared to buy a house, or will you be renting a little apartment barely making ends meet? Girls, just because your parents provide housing, food, and a car now doesn’t mean it will be that way forever. You might be single a little longer than you anticipate, and it’s wise to be prepared to care for yourself.

I know that marriage is God’s will for most girls at some point, but I also know that many end up being single into their 20’s or 30’s, and it is wise to have a plan for that!

I have personal goals for my finances down the road. Obviously, when I get married, those goals will be modified to fit my husband’s, but I don’t want to handle my finances haphazardly in the meantime. I would encourage girls to make financial goals yearly, as well as for 5 and 10 years down the road. These are not to be held onto with an iron grip if the Lord has something completely different in mind (like giving up your paycheck to do missions for a year), but for me I find that these goals help to keep me on track and lazer-focused on being frugal and future-minded in a season of life when I could totally “live for today” in my finances.

To Put Herself into a Position to be Available for Mission Work

If the Lord calls you to the mission field, or even to short term mission work, and you have been saving and investing previously, you won’t be starting from scratch with raising support.

When I lived in Mexico last fall doing mission work, I was fully prepared to take off six weeks of work (thus eliminating my paycheck), and pay for my own ticket and living expenses while I was gone. All that using extra money in the bank and not dipping into my investments. I don’t share this to elevate myself, but to encourage you girls to start learning and saving now so that if the Lord brings you an opportunity to do missions work you are financially prepared.

To Have Money for Unforeseen Expenses

I have had friends who needed to pay for part or all of their wedding. If your parents aren’t able to help much or at all with wedding expenses, it is wise to be prepared. Sure, you can go super simple and spend very little, but if you have a wedding their will be at least some expenses.

Consider this, too- if there is something like, say, a really good photographer, that is important to you but doesn’t fit the wedding budget your parents give, you will be ready to pay for it out of pocket if you have extra money in savings.

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