While we are spending some unexpected time at home, it can be a time for the whole family to learn money saving skills and to have some extra time for family bonding. I’ve put these ideas together for approximately ages 8-18, but even some younger children are able to learn these skills. My grandmother started hand sewing when she was six and she crocheted her first pot holder when she was seven! Some of the activities below will need parental supervision for younger children, but they are activities the whole family can be involved in. We can make these quarantine moments special instead of stressful!
With YouTube online as the ultimate “How-To” website, we can learn a lot of different life skills with a quick internet search.
Here are a few project ideas to help you save money, teach your kids some great new skills, and get some unfinished projects at home done.
- Teach kids to sew on buttons and patch holes in clothing: Gather all the clothes from various closets that are missing their buttons or have holes that need patching. A lot of clothing comes with an extra button sewn into a seam or at the back of the tag. Hopefully if you removed these buttons, you put them in a place you would remember for later. Grab a needle and thread and get to work repairing and patching. If you’re unsure how to sew on a button or patch a hole, let your fingers walk you to YouTube where you can look up how to do it.
- Teach each child or teen to cook their favorite meals. If your nine-year-old loves lasagna, there is no reason that they cannot learn to make it! Except for making homemade noodles which can be easily purchased at the store, it is an easy and fairly quick dish to put together using the right recipe. Check online for easier recipes for your young ones, or, if your teen is up to the challenge of tackling a more gourmet recipe, let them!
- Teach some lessons on money saving by freezing half of the meal made and saving that for later, or finding some money saving recipes the whole family can enjoy. Involve your kids! They will need these skills when they leave the nest.
- Teach kids how to make a budget and balance a check book. Your twelve-year-old may not have a check book, but if they have a piggy bank, they can use the change inside as their bank account and starting account balance. Instead of re-counting the piggy bank every time they take out some coins, they can create their own ledger on paper and subtract what they are taking out for a running total.
- Teach kids to change a bike tire. I remember when I changed my first bike tire. Instead of having to wait for my dad to get home to fix my bike, I could now do it on my own. I did need my brother to help, but it was something we could work together on without fighting. The goal of getting back on the road was much more important than arguing.
- Teach patch and paint skills. Isn’t there a ding in the wall behind the bathroom door? Your teen can learn to patch and paint it. Remember, your teen will be on their own soon and need all the money saving skills they can get! Kids and teens are totally able to learn these skills and, in some cases, can do it better than we could.
- It’s almost time for summer. Teach older kids the basics of home maintenance like installing new filters on the AC unit, cleaning out exterior drains, cleaning out the dryer vent to prevent it from clogging and starting a fire, cleaning out the chimney if you have a fireplace. It’s important to tell them how to do it, but also why they are doing it. In most cases, most of these annual tasks are done for safety and/or efficiency reasons.
- Learn to change a car tire. Ok, maybe this one will be too physically difficult for the wee-ones, but certainly anyone ages 15 and up should know how to change a car tire. Get the whole family involved!
- Teach kids how check the oil and other fluids in the car. I used to do this with my dad when I was little. He would always consult with me on “what I thought”. Was the oil on the dip stick touching the “full” line? Or did it need a top off? It made me feel important because he included me and from a very young age, I learned that there was “stuff” inside the engine that I had to pay attention to.
- Plant a garden. Planting a garden is much more than just sticking seeds or plants in the ground. There is some research involved to choose what types of plants you want, how much shade and sun they need, how much water, and what kind of soil they thrive in. Once you have that knowledge, you will have to look at your yard and observe the sun and shade patterns throughout the day. Where is there the most shade? Is there a full sun area? Now you can plan the garden out according to the specific needs of the plants you want to plant and where they will do best.
- Make soap. Commercially available soap, as we know it, was not available until the 1930’s. So, people made their own. What a cool project for the whole family. You can probably even scent the soap to make some of everyone’s favorite. There are various recipes online. You can read about the history of soap here: http://www.soaphistory.net/soap-history/history-of-soap/