Allowance for chores?
DEAR SARA: Do you have your kids do chores for their allowance, or do they get it regardless? –Michelle, Massachusetts
DEAR MICHELLE: I don’t give my children an allowance for chores. Our children have chores and responsibilities that they have to do because they should. We give rewards if they go above and beyond their daily responsibilities. Sometimes it’s monetary, and other times it’s not. I don’t want to get into a situation in which one day my kids decide they don’t care whether they get their allowance that week, so they decide not to do their chores or protest and drag their feet over having to do them. I don’t think allowances are bad. I believe parents have to be consistent with how they give them. My children don’t often ask for much, so I could see where they might skip chores and not receive an allowance. I also think I’d have heart failure if I asked my kids to feed the dog and they asked me how much they’d get paid to do it.
In our home, chores aren’t negotiable. They are an expectation. We reward and discipline by giving and taking away privileges and high fives/encouragement/praise and disappointment. Our children receive money for extra chores and as gifts from us, friends and family. They are still exposed to making decisions about money, such as spending, donating and saving. My kids understand that if they work harder, they can work toward extra wants. They are still young, and this is all subject to change, but it’s working well for us.
DEAR SARA: I know about using canning jars for gift mixes, but what are some other ideas you have for creative containers to use for gifts? — pita1213, e-mail
DEAR PITA1213: Plastic peanut-butter jars are lighter than mason jars. You can try reusing Pringles cans, powdered-baby-formula cans and frozen-juice cans. If you have any popcorn tins left from the holidays, they make great gift containers, too. Animal crackers are often packaged in cute, plastic bear-shaped containers. Try children’s shoe boxes, Clementine wooden crates, plastic and glass baby-food jars, plastic Easter eggs, plastic coffee containers, powdered-creamer containers, mint tins, oatmeal containers and paper-towel rolls. As for new creative containers, try buckets, storage containers, trash cans, laundry baskets, pillowcases, Christmas stockings, flowerpots, tackle boxes, mugs and tote bags/purses/backpacks.
DEAR SARA: Please give me some frugal ideas for protein. What are good sources of protein and are easy on the food budget? I do make beans and rice a few times a month. — PaulaPAFW, e-mail
DEAR PAULAPAFW: Most protein foods aren’t terribly expensive. Try peanut butter, tofu, eggs, nuts, seeds, tuna, chicken, spinach, oats, turkey, salmon, whole-grain bread, cottage cheese, yogurt and baked potatoes.
DEAR SARA: Please help me with my party. We’re having our housewarming this Saturday at 7 p.m. I have to work Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. We already have burgers and hot dogs to grill for food, and I know we’ll have chips, salsa and guacamole. I need some more ideas for snacks and side dishes. I don’t want to use the oven because it’ll get too hot in the house. It has to be stuff I can either prepare beforehand or something I can throw together in a few minutes. Also, cheap! We don’t have that much more money to spend on food. — Angela, California
DEAR ANGELA: You have a lot of options. The party sounds casual, so I suggest simple, frugal foods such as potato or macaroni salad; a fruit, cheese, veggie or cold cuts and crackers platter; hummus; popcorn; deviled eggs; and slow-cooker ziti. For something sweet, you could bake bar cookies or cupcakes ahead of time.
DEAR SARA: I have a lot of chalkboard paint. I’ve made ornaments and menu boards for friends. I have enough to paint sections of a wall in my kids’ rooms, but I am concerned they will tire of it quickly. Do you have any practical ideas for using it up? — Autumn, California
DEAR AUTUMN: I’ve seen it used on secondhand coffee tables and dressers for children. You could also use it on the inside of a kitchen cabinet for pantry lists.